Bloodborne Pathogens

A Spell of Death – A Sneakier Peek

Here’s another scene from the beginning of the third Bloodborne Pathogens book. It releases August 30 and is available for pre-order on Amazon and Kobo. If you missed the first sneak peek, check it out here.

A Spell of Death Cover
Cover of A Spell of Death

THE SHADOW HUNKERED behind the dragon, her black-gloved hand resting lightly on its haunches. It seemed a grumpy sort but it couldn’t complain about her presence, given that it was made of stone. The creature capped the mausoleum rooftop she’d clambered onto to get a view of the cemetery. She slid her gaze sideways to the dragon. Cocking an eyebrow, she didn’t think the person who’d topped their eternal resting place with a disgruntled dragon would mind her taking refuge there. Keeping her breath measured and her pulse even, she lay flat against the cold stone, all of her hidden except the bit from the eyes up to her hood. She imagined herself a torpid squirrel or half-asleep bird. Nothing but a shadow — nothing to draw the attention of the netherworld creatures gathered below.

A gentle breeze rustled the branches of the tree beside her. Far off, the muted sounds of a city that never slept continued to count out the witching hours, when all good folk should be snug in their beds, or grumbling about jobs that kept them away from the comforts of home and hearth.

An owl hooted and flew up from a branch behind her. Startled, she glanced over her shoulder but couldn’t see what disturbed its rest. The muscles around her ear twitched as she strained to hear without moving; she picked out rustling, thumping, a whapping sound. Some vagrant perhaps, settling in for the night.

The dampened trill of blade clashing on blade reverberated through the caverns of stone in the cemetery, up to the mausoleum roof, and brought her focus forward as the battle below picked up again. These creatures of darkness and death seemed to be doing her work for her. Maybe if she watched and waited, she could keep her weapons — and her hands — clean. Her muscles, tense with anticipation and eager to enter the melee, were seizing up, and starting to ache from constraining pent up adrenalin. At least that’s what she told herself. But the shadow wasn’t as young as when she’d joined the Hunters, finally passing her grandparents’ tests. Laying on cold rock in a night that presaged rain, or worse judging from the temperature and the ring around the moon, didn’t help. She glanced at said moon, while trying to roll a shoulder without actually moving it. Her grandfather had taught her to read the weather and care for her weapons. Her grandmother had taught her about good and evil, about the things that lurk in the dark. And how to kill those cursed things.

She almost gasped when the moon dimmed and the stars blinked out as if a blanket of deep indigo had descended. Only her training stopped her and kept her still. She blinked. Light returned to the night and everything was as it should be — the few stars that shone brighter than the city lights speckled the sky and the ringed moon still hung pregnant, though dim.

Imagining things. Not good. But she couldn’t quite shake the gnawing fear; tendrils of wild hopelessness and heavy dread had pressed into her chest in that split second, and their echoes coursed through her veins.

She castigated herself for getting spooked by shadows, hearing her grandmother’s disappointment that she let her mind wander from her purpose. She refocused as more sounds of battle rose from the scene below. One bloodsucker lay wounded, blood seeping from a gash in his shoulder. So much the better, less work for her if the thing bled out. Though that was unlikely; more like it would die a slow, painful death, since the weapons would not be off-the-shelf swords and guns. The ammo would be poisoned, the blades laced with silvery venom. Enough to fester anyway. Unbidden, a random memory came to mind of training sessions in her grandmother’s garden, lifting her lips into a smile before turning them into a frown. Tears formed in her eyes. She let a tear slide down her cheek, but when another followed it, she inched a black-gloved hand up to wipe them away. They would blur her vision.

Action, not crying, her grandmother had taught her, before the slaughter that had taken both grandparents. A massacre that had left blood, pain, and a shadow.

Action, that’s what I need. Enough lying on a roof in the cold and the damp. The shadow shifted, reaching a hand towards her blade, ready to join the fray.

Then the scene below changed again. The shadow pursed her lips, angry at herself for getting distracted yet again.

One creature was dead, or seemed to be. The one in the priest’s body. He was a strange one, a type of creature her grandmother hadn’t covered. The werewolf and mad vampire had fled, taking the wounded, undead man with them. The other vampires that had come with the priest peeled away and scurried back into the night.

Those that remained crowded around the body of the woman at the centre of the night’s ritual. The shadow’s eyes narrowed at some tug on a thread of memory, but she didn’t have time to puzzle out its source as the vampires below shifted.

As they came into the halo of light, the shadow’s breath caught in her throat. One of the vampires turned, the pale planes of her face struck by moonlight.

Mina. The shadow stared for a minute, her mind churning. Then she slipped off the mausoleum roof and into the darkness. She needed time to digest this new nugget of information. Mina Sun’s a vampire.

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