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Blood solstice, p.1
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       Blood Solstice, p.1

         Part #3 of The Tale of Lunarmorte series by Samantha Young
Blood Solstice
Page 1

  The Why and the Wherefores

  Existing in the shadows of our world are supernatural races, children blessed by the ancient Greek gods with unimaginable gifts, and at present they are fighting a two-thousand year old war with one another. The Midnight Coven, an alliance of dark magiks, faeries, and daemons born of black magik, believe that vampyres and lykans are lesser supernaturals and a threat to mankind. They are at war with the Daylight Coven, a confederate of light magiks, faeries, vampyres and lykans who believe in the equality of the races.

  Into this war eighteen year old Caia Ribeiro is born… a lykan with a heritage unlike any other. A consequence of the manipulation of the gods and fate, Caia is unique – a half-lykan, half-water magik. And to make it even more complicated her mother was the daughter of the Head of the Midnight Coven – Caia is half-Daylight, half-Midnight.

  Since her visit to the Center, the Daylight’s headquarters and training institution, Caia’s world has been turned upside down. Not only is she convinced that many Midnights are good people looking for a way out of the war, she acted on that conviction by orchestrating the escape of a young Midnight girl, Laila, from Daylight prison. To make matters worse, Caia discovered that Marita, the Head of the Daylight Coven, was abusing her power by experimenting on lykan children in order to breed a stronger army, and the one person she wants to complete that experimentation is Caia’s best friend, Jaeden – a lykan with telekinetic abilities. Her fear over telling Lucien, her mate, all she had discovered, was unfounded, and Caia has at last a group of loyal supporters, despite Pack Errante’s misgivings over her revelations. However, with Marita growing steadily more unstable, imprisoning the Council and turning the Coven into an autocracy, it seems likely that they will have to turn to Caia for guidance.

  But slithering in the shadows of their conflict is a being with a far bigger part to play than he’d let on. Who is Jaeden’s friend, the vampyre Reuben, really? Why does he seem so chummy with Nikolai, the Regent of the Midnight Coven, when they’re supposed to be blood enemies?

  And why oh why has their friendly neighborhood vampyre kidnapped Caia?

  Caia: the one person they need to rescue the Council and bring the Coven back from the brink of disaster.

  1 – The Cage

  He hunkered down on to his haunches so they were face to face. His smile disappeared as he winced. “I’m sorry I hit you so hard. I wasn’t sure how much strength I would need to put into it to knock you out. However… you’re pretty fragile for a lykan. ”

  A growl rumbled from the pit of Caia’s chest and erupted into snarling snaps. She had never wanted to tear at someone the way she wanted to at Reuben.

  He didn’t flinch. He just gazed at her with a look almost akin to sadness. “We don’t want you in this cage, Caia. You’re just there until we’re sure you aren’t going to attack Nikolai. We don’t want to hurt you. ”

  She guffawed. “Hurt me? I’d be worried for myself if I were you. ”

  He frowned at her. “Caia, please don’t try anything foolish. You’ve been out for 24 hours, you’re very weak. ”

  24 hours? How was that possible?

  “Again, apologies for my friend’s overzealousness. ” Nikolai was glaring at Reuben.

  Her gaze flew between the two of them, searching desperately for any clue as to why they had her here. She had been gone a day. Lucien would be going crazy, not to mention Jaeden and Ryder and everybody…

  “Jaeden,” she snapped at Reuben. “She trusted you. ”

  His face remained expressionless. “I needed her. So I fudged a little with the truth. She can still trust me. ”

  Caia snorted. “Oh yeah, 'cause kidnapping her Alpha’s mate is such a trustworthy thing to do. ”

  He nodded, his eyes telling her he understood her anger. She didn’t want his damn understanding.

  “Perhaps you will allow me to explain myself?” he queried softly, a whisper of regret lacing his words. She broke eye contact, her gaze darting pointedly around the cage. “I’m not exactly going anywhere. ”

  Reuben smirked and stood up, his eyes locked to her face. “Nikolai, a chair perhaps?” Instantly a comfortable armchair appeared behind him and he sank into it while Nikolai stood vigilant at the back of him. “We need you, Caia… to end the war. ”

  Caia chuckled. Of course he did. And what did he think? That she would blithely follow his orders when she was doing everything in her power to remove herself from Marita’s rule? “I have no intention of fighting for the Midnights. Nor the Daylights. That’s not my plan. ”

  “Well, it would seem we agree on that much, but your actual plan is crumbling around you as we speak. ”

  She frowned at him. “What do you mean?” What the Hades did he know about her plan?

  “Marita has dissolved the Council and imprisoned them. ”

  How on Gaia’s green earth did he know that? Her expression must have asked as much because he shrugged elegantly, crossing one leg over the other and relaxing into his chair. “I have important assets inside the Center. ”

  Her mouth fell open and a riot of butterflies exploded into life in the bottom of her belly. She had no idea who she was dealing with here, but the fact that he had assets inside the Center… “What do you want from me?”

  Reuben sighed heavily, wearily. “I want what you want. I don’t want to kill Daylights or Midnights. I just want this war to end… and I’ve been working on bringing it to a conclusion long before you were ever born. ”

  “And I’ve just to believe that, have I?” she sneered, the dull throbbing in her head growing worse.

  He shook his head. “Of course not. That’s why I’m going to go back to the beginning. I’m going to tell you my story, Caia. I’m going to tell you why this war really began. ”

  2 – The Illiadic Truth

  Athens, Greece 461 B. C.

  His heart thudded rapidly behind its thick-boned prison, the pulse in his neck throbbing with anxiety. He almost smiled at that. If he weren’t a vampyre his parents, Phaedrus and Xanthippe, would consider him an impossibly delicious meal with that vein pulsing them into temptation. Instead they looked up at him in bewilderment, their mouths and chins smeared thick with the blood and skin of the unconscious man in their arms. They sat crowded together on one of the pillowed kline’s in the andron where his father held Symposia in their home. The man’s feet dragged to the floor, the light chiton he wore coming undone from the obvious struggle he had undergone at the hands of Kirios’ parents. Blood stained the fabric and ran in rivulets from his masticated neck to puddle on the mosaic floor. Kirios watched as it spread into the expensive tiling, wondering how on earth they would explain the stain. He frowned… perhaps his father would say wine had been spilled during one of the vigorous symposiums he held to blend in with the men he served with on the Heliaia, the jury of the supreme court of Athens.

  “We thought you might like to finish him off?” Xanthippe smiled, a horrifying, gory gargle of the man’s life blood distorting her voice.

  Kirios shook his head in a mixture of anger and despair. His parents were never going to understand. They were so old, two of the first souls to be sent by Hades back from the Underworld to wreak revenge. They had once been so savage it was a miracle they had ever fallen in love with one another. But two thousand years of immortal nomadic life seemed to have grown dull for them, and they had fallen into a companionship of killing, making love and looting Tholos tombs, before growing rich on the growing Mycenaean trade. Their strange life in Athens had only begun after Hades had stolen Persephone into the Underworld and made her his Queen. Her mother, the goddess Demeter, in outrage ‘blessed’ his vampyres with fertility. And living actively (rather than thei
r usual avoidance) through the Greco-Persian wars with souls easier burdened than before had changed everything for Xanthippe and Phaedrus. There is nothing on earth that can put one more in touch with humanity than war and his mother was no longer the flagitious animal she had once been… well… to an extent. Despite her appetite and nature she had grown to love her husband and wanted a child. So they had come to Athens and insinuated themselves into the middle-class region of the polis in order to raise their son. But Kirios hadn’t been what they were expecting. He had powers of mesmerism and an appetite for blood, but he did not have the soul of a killer.

  Looking away from the dark sight before him he sighed, remembering his thirteenth year. They had always brought him his blood as a child, now they wanted him to learn to fend for himself… to execute his first kill. The memory pierced him like a spear. How disgusted he had been by what they wanted of him. He had no taste for killing humans, and although he loved his parents, it was becoming clear they were never going to understand that vital fact.

  And the truth was… looking upon the painful sight of the man dying in his parents’ arms… Kirios did not think he could stand by and watch them murder innocents any longer. He was in his eighteenth year now. It was time to-

  His jaw dropped as he suddenly recognized the dying figure in their arms. “Are you insane?!” he hissed. “That’s Ephialtes!”

  “Be silent,” Phaedrus ordered quietly, steel warning in his tone. “Anyone may hear you. ”

  Kirios felt himself paling, as if it were even possible for him to be any paler. “Father, you’ve killed a statesman of the Democratic Party. He’s Perikles’ bloody mentor, for Gaia’s sakes! Have you gone mad?” Perikles was one of the most influential, popular, wealthiest members of the demos.

  Xanthippe shrugged. “We’re leaving Athens… and Ephialtes has always annoyed me. I thought it a fitting going away present to myself. ”

  Kirios shook his head in disbelief. “How on the gods are you going to fix this mess before you leave?”

  Phaedrus was annoyed by his question. “The usual… we’ll leave him somewhere and mesmerize someone else to take the blame. Perhaps Perikles. ”

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