Dark Gods RisingMark Eller / Fantasy / Horror
Dark Gods Rising
Book One of God Wars
A dark fantasy trilogy
E. A. Draper
White Wolf Press, LLC
Cover Illustration by T-Rex Studios
Copyright 2014 E. A. Draper and Mark Eller
Chapter 1— Changer’s Ring
Glace shortened his stride amid the market crowd just before stumbling into a soft-faced young man. The man’s hungry eyes were fastened on a half-naked woman who spun slow circles on the walkway before an irate merchant’s stall. Catching sight of her admirer, she stopped spinning, smiled lewdly, winked, and put on the shirt she clutched in her left hand.
Glace scowled when the laughing woman strolled away.
Chuckling, the young man clapped Glace on the shoulder with a too friendly hand. Glace's unhappy scowl deepened.
“Now that’s something you don’t see every day,” the young man said. “Not unless you hang out in the Downs.”
“I see it too damn often,” Glace growled, shrugging away the unwelcome hand. Still scowling, he walked away, took the first turn on the right and the second turn on his left. Half a block later he stopped, leaned an elbow on a hitching rail, and waited.
When Cass finally arrived, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him soundly.
"Did you see their eyes when I flashed my boobs? Gods, they’re easy." Giggling, she planted a wet kiss on his cheek. “So come on. Give. What’d you get from the fellow? He dressed posh.”
Feeling sullen, Glace remained silent.
“You’re unhappy.” Cass finally noticed. Her smile faded. “Why?”
“Did you have to turn yourself into a harlot’s display?”
Pulling away, her fading smile disappeared altogether. Narrowing eyes showed the first dangerous signs of anger. Glace forced his frown into the sick semblance of a smile. He had overstepped his bounds, again, and Cass was not pleased.
Perfect green eyes threw shadows over a delicate moon-shaped face while she studied him. Shoulder length hair, smelling faintly of jasmine, flowed from her aristocratic head, framing her face in a shroud of brilliant red. She was exquisite, mysterious, and dangerous, a woman beyond compare, and he had an uncontrollable mouth which might one day drive her away.
“You told me to distract him,” Cass said flatly.
“I didn’t tell you to strip for him,” Glace muttered.
Provocative and mocking, her smile returned. She trailed the tips of her fingers across his chest, making his skin tingle, making him want to pull her tight to him and rip off the clothes he had just chided her for not wearing.
“Was I a bad girl?” Her hips thrust forward, pressing against his groin as her hand rose to grip the back of his neck. “Do you want to collar me? I’ll wear one for you.”
Glace forced his tense muscles to relax. “It’s just that…sometimes…you act like a whore.”
"Mmmm. Your whore." Wrapping both arms around his neck, Cass molded herself against him until there was no space left for intruding air. She kissed the corner of his mouth once, and then again. “I promise. You’re the only man who can touch me. I’ll eat the face of anyone else who tries.”
“Yeah, well.” Feeling uncomfortable, Glace unlocked her fingers from around his neck. “It doesn’t mean I have to like it when they look at you. I just don’t understand why you hate wearing clothes.”
"It excites me, baby. I like it when they look at me with hungry eyes. I love it when they think I'm their prey, but we know different. Don't we, lover? Now tell me. What did we get from the popinjay?"
Accepting the unspoken truce, Glace reached into his belt pouch, pulled out a ring, and handed it to her. “Only a few copper coins and this. His purse was almost empty.”
“Flash dresser with empty pockets,” Cass said contemptuously, studying the ring with disinterest, but then her eyes widened, and she grinned. “Or maybe not. I’ve seen this design before. Please tell me those little baubles are real diamonds. I really want them to be real.”
“I have doubts.” Glace studied the ring. Six clear stones circled a larger blue one. A snarling wolf’s head was carved into the blue stone’s surface. Not a usual design, perhaps, but not so very unusual, either. No, to him the most interesting and disappointing part was the band. It was made of a green metal he had never before seen. It felt slick against his fingers, perhaps even slimy, telling him the ring was made from some kind of cheap metal. At best, he figured, worth about twenty coppers, which meant he and Cass might get three or four.
“I’m thinking you’re wrong.” Cass gestured toward the ring. “We have to take it to Mathew Changer.”
Glace felt himself pale. “I don’t like Mathew.”
“You don’t like him because I want him to father my children.” Cass chuckled. “Don’t worry, lover. I told you, you’re the only man who will touch me. Still,” she paused, “he does business at the Hellhole. Tessla’s been hanging around there lately, and she doesn’t like me.”
“Rumor says Trelsar’s assassin was arrested a couple days ago,” Glace said. “She’s supposed to hang next week.” Suddenly feeling good because Cass seemed to have forgiven his jealousy, he grinned. “By my count, it’s the sixth time this year she’s been sentenced for murder.”
Cass nodded with satisfaction. “That’s all right then. Trelsar’s whore doesn’t usually escape until a day or two before the scheduled hanging. I’ve heard it said she likes the quiet when she isn’t murdering some poor soul for her so called virtuous god. If you ask me, Trelsar’s more of a hypocrite than a god, but I know you favor him over somebody more reasonable, like Zorce. Anyway, Mathew it is and tonight while she’s still a prisoner. The Hole’s always most interesting after sunset. The hellborn come out then, so we’ll see the moneychanger tonight.”