Here is your first look at Blood Lock! Enjoy!
*Text is unedited.
He was searching. Desperation ran cold and constant, just under his skin. He was dying. Alone and confused. The fateful moment woke him from a deep sleep. He clutched at his chest as his heart turned into a clock. The thumping tissue now kept time, counting down. He didn’t have much life left to live. The knowledge that he was dying slid easily inside him like the blood in his veins. Was it real? How did he know for sure his body would soon begin to shut down? He couldn’t answer himself. He just knew.
He blinked and rubbed his face. His hands moved methodically over the planes of the bone structure. It wasn’t the right one. It wasn’t his face.
He lay back and gazed at the Bellis stone ceiling of his Kyhael apartment. It was time to move on. He’d lived as an elf for months. From the very first day, he knew it wasn’t the right fit, but he wanted to stay close to Rahaxeris. Not that Rahaxeris knew he was there. Or perhaps he did. There wasn’t much Rahaxeris didn’t know. But since he wasn’t going to make contact with the Rune-dy, there was no point in him staying any longer in Kyhael. It had been a good place for him to keep his ear to the ground.
He’d learned Forest was now revered as the savior, since Copernicus had died by her hand. There were wild rumors since she’d had her child. No one had seen her. She’d made no public appearances. Some believed her to have died in childbirth. He listened to all the gossip, but he didn’t put much stock in any of it. Forest was alive, he was sure of it.
He didn’t need to worry about her. She didn’t need him, and he needed to focus on his task.
What would he try next? Everything.
So little time, his body warned him. He must search harder, faster. What a tragedy it would be if he failed. Always confused, he grappled with the ancient, universal questions of right and wrong. Sometimes wrong was very clear in regards to his bloody memories. His hands were guilty. His heart however, was still in question.
He got up from the bed and went to the mirror. Copernicus stared back at him. His teeth clenched in anger. It wasn’t his face.
Shreve moved his elf DNA to the forefront with only a thought. His features changed accordingly without any other effort on his part. He wasn’t just shifting to look like an elf. He was an elf, and a shifter, ogre, vampire, werewolf and also wizard. He longed to be just one thing.
He left the apartment. No one stopped him as he exited through the gates of the city. He traveled light with only one change of clothes and Forest’s old silver sword. The morning light kissed his troubled head as he headed out into the wilderness that stretched out in-between the clusters of civilization.
The silhouette of the Lair, the mountain where the werewolves lived, off in the distance, obstructed his view of the sky. He had yet to try to live as wolf. He moved towards the defiant mountain range. It would be where he searched next.
Shreve wasn’t searching for the answer to save Regia from the wizards. He was searching for himself. For the moral compass he never had, his own identity, and yes, he searched to find his real face. And that was all he wanted now he knew he was dying, just to know who he really was, before it was all over.
The warm golden afternoon sunlight stretched through the window panes over Forest as she gazed at her baby daughter, sleeping in her arms. Forest felt, as most mothers do, that her baby was the most beautiful ever born. Despite her bias, it was damn near true. Tesla was a breathtakingly beautiful child in spite of her abnormalities. Her tiny baby hands, curled into fists, rested on her chest. The veins in her hands glowed electric red, brightly contrasted against her pale skin, as if her hands were covered with red lace or henna tattoos. When Tesla curled her hand around Forest’s index finger, the power that throbbed from the baby was stingingly painful to Forest.
Aside from her hands, Tesla was marked on the chest, over her heart. Every time her heart beat, a red glow surged out from her heart and visibly ran up through the veins around it. The red light on her chest looked like the outline of a flower.
The rocking chair creaked rhythmically as Forest ran the tips of her fingers over and over on her daughter’s cheek and through the silky wisp of black hair on her head. Tesla had Syrus’ coloring. Black hair and gray eyes. But her ears were pointed at the top like Forest’s, and although her eyes were the same color as her father’s, the shape of them was clearly her mother’s.
Forest’s fear and heartbreak surrounding the distortion inside her daughter didn’t hinder her love or the fierce passion she had to protect her child. Tesla owned her heart completely, the moment she was born. And she would do everything in her power to help her baby.
Rahaxeris was due any minute now. He came every day to treat the swelling power that throbbed in Tesla’s hands. She couldn’t stop crying otherwise. She wailed something awful most of the time. Forest cried herself to sleep almost every night since the baby was born, because she felt like she was incapable of soothing her child’s pain. Forest simply didn’t know what to do.
Syrus had it easier with Tesla. She would quiet for him and look directly into his eyes. She would splay her tiny fingers on his skin, his power snapping and dancing with hers. Direct contact with Syrus was the only other thing that seemed to bring a quieting relief to the child. Forest hated that she was jealous of the easy connection they had, but she was.
Forest smiled down at Tesla and shook her head. She was already daddy’s girl. Forest marveled, as she did a few times every day, at the fact that she was a mother. It was weird as well when she thought about Syrus being a father. Her powerful, tall drink of water, mage was a father. Yeah… weird.
Four months had passed since Tesla had been born, but still, Forest had yet to actually go back to work. She had healed quickly, within hours of giving birth. Her stomach flattened back out in a week and her body mostly returned to its previous state, with the exception of her hips, that had gone a bit wider. She wanted to try and work them down originally, but Syrus’ response to her changed frame caused her to rethink that. The subtle addition to her figure drove him wild.
A small smile curved the side of Forest’s mouth as she thought about him. Life felt too hard and she didn’t think she could have kept her head up if she didn’t have Syrus. Something dark and heavy had entered her heart the night Tesla was born. Rahaxeris’ look and voice replayed over and over in her mind. There’s something wrong. From her first day as a mother, her joy, soft and vibrant in the center, had razor edges of pain. She never even had the temporary reprieve of denial. All she had to do was look at Tesla to know it was true.
Her daughter was in pain. Would she always be in pain? Forest wondered. There was too much magic inside her. It ran wild and rampant through her like a mess of frayed, electrical live wires. Would the abundance slacken as she grew? Would her mind be fractured? Forest’s throat clenched as she pondered all these questions. She felt desperate for answers, and terrified at the same time. She hoped all her worry was unneeded. Perhaps Tesla would grow easily and whatever physical problems she may have would solve themselves as she matured. Perhaps people would accept her because she was so physically beautiful and overlook her abnormalities.
Forest would take her sword to the cruelty of the world, if only she could. If only cruelty wasn’t often invisible and intangible, she would slash it to death without mercy. Her arms tightened protectively around her baby and she leaned down and pressed a kiss to her sweet forehead.
If they didn’t find a way to stop the wizards, Tesla would never reach adulthood.
Forest sighed, closed her eyes, and leaned her head against the back of the rocking chair. She pushed the chair into motion again with the slightest pressure of her heel against the floor. She forced her mind to contemplate the biggest problem. No matter which way she considered it, Regia had no chance in a war against the wizards. There was no strategy, or weaponry that could defeat them. The only option they had was to try and stop them before they could come in. Regia needed a wall that could hold back the force of the wizards and keep them out.
It’s not hopeless. It’s not! She told herself forcefully. Regia’s best talents and minds were working tirelessly to solve the nasty equation. Her father, her mate, all of the masters of the Kata, Merhl, among many others. And now they had Journey. Journey had said many times, she didn’t have an answer. But Forest believed when they found an answer, Journey would contribute a great deal, in the unique way only she could.
Her mind banged around and around on the problem. Nothing had changed. No new ideas came to her. She dozed off. Just a few moments of relaxation. Her breathing slowed and the rocking chair stood still. It was short. Tesla roused and placed her tiny palm against Forest’s neck, jolting her awake with a painful snap of electrical energy. Forest’s muscles jerked in response to the pain and Tesla began to cry.
She stood up and paced the floor, trying to calm the baby. Forest’s throat clenched and her eyes stung as Tesla waved her tiny fists in the air, lightning snaking over her little fingers. Her soft arms trembled as she pushed her hands towards Forest’s face and screamed. Tears ran silently down Forest’s cheeks.
She lowered herself to the floor, sitting cross-legged, laying Tesla in her lap. Forest took one deep breath, preparing for the pain, and pressed both of her daughter’s hands against her chest, just above her heart.
She clamped her mouth shut around her cry of pain and shut her eyes tight. The magic in Tesla’s hands burned hot as well as stung electrically. The power absorbed into Forest and the baby quieted. A terrible buzzing filled her up and muffled her ears. She didn’t hear the knock on the front door.