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       Blood Awakening, p.1

           Tessa Dawn
 
Blood Awakening


  Blood Awakening

  x

  by Tessa Dawn

  A Blood Curse Novel

  Book Two

  In the Blood Curse Series

  Published by Ghost Pines Publishing, LLC

  www.ghostpinespublishing.com

  Volume II of the Blood Curse Series by Tessa Dawn

  First Edition Trade Paperback: July 4, 2011

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

  Copyright © TerresaYork, 2011

  All rights reserved

  ISBN 978-1-937223-00-7

  Printed in the United States of America

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher, is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.

  Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  Author may be contacted at: www.tessadawn.com

  This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Ghost Pines Publishing, LLC

  Acknowledgments

  To my family and friends with love ~ thank you for your endless support.

  To Reba (the world’s greatest editor) ~ thanks for making the “hard part” easy! And to Miriam, for another wonderful cover.

  To all the fans and readers who have taken the time to write ~ you have truly made the series a shared experience of joy and appreciation.

  Finally, a special shout-out to Megan R for being such a dedicated supporter (just how many contests can one fan win???)

  The Blood Curse

  In 800 BC, Prince Jadon and Prince Jaegar Demir were banished from their Romanian homeland after being cursed by a ghostly apparition: the reincarnated Blood of their numerous female victims. The princes belonged to an ancient society that had sacrificed its females to the point of extinction, and the punishment was severe.

  They were forced to roam the earth in darkness as creatures of the night. They were condemned to feed on the blood of the innocent and stripped of their ability to produce female offspring. They were damned to father twin sons by human hosts, who would die wretchedly upon giving birth; and the first-born of the first set would forever be required as a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of their forefathers.

  Staggered by the enormity of the Curse, Prince Jadon, whose own hands had never shed blood, begged his accuser for leniency and received four small mercies—four exceptions to the curse that would apply to his house and his descendants, alone.

  Ψ Though still creatures of the night, they would be allowed to walk in the sun.

  Ψ Though still required to live on blood, they would not be forced to take the lives of the innocent.

  Ψ While still incapable of producing female offspring, they would be given one opportunity and thirty-days to obtain a mate—a human female chosen by the gods—following a sign that appeared in the heavens.

  Ψ While still required to sacrifice a first-born son, their twins would be born as one child of darkness and one child of light, allowing them to sacrifice the former while keeping the latter to carry on their race.

  And so…forever banished from their homeland in the Transylvanian mountains of Eastern Europe, the descendants of Jaegar and the descendants of Jadon became the Vampyr of legend: roaming the earth, ruling the elements, living on the blood of others...forever bound by an ancient curse. They were brothers of the same species, separated only by degrees of light and shadow.

  Prologue

  Marquis Silivasi stood silently in the shadows. He watched as the last of the humans made their way from the graveside ceremony following Joelle Parker’s funeral. He had come to pay his respects but was unable to face the human family whose lineage he had known for centuries. Having to tell Kevin Parker the news of his daughter’s death had been one of the worst moments of Marquis’s life, and he had lived a very, very long time. His regret was insufferable, his shame for being unable to save her…almost unbearable.

  Shimmering out of view, he materialized deep within the Dark Moon Forest at yet another recent grave site—that of his little brother, Shelby. It was the first time he had visited the final resting place since the tragic loss. The first time he had seen the simple white granite marker lying over the desolate plot: Shelby Silivasi. Honored Brother and Beloved Twin.

  Marquis ran a trembling hand through his thick black hair. The pressing moisture of tears stung his deeply troubled eyes. Shelby had only been five-hundred years old when he died, the same age as his twin, Nachari, but the difference was, Nachari had lived to graduate the Romanian University. Nachari had lived to reach the status of Master Vampire.

  Shelby, on the other hand, had stopped just short of receiving such an honored distinction because he had found his blood destiny: the one human woman chosen by the gods to be his mate, Dalia Montano.

  His one opportunity to avoid the ultimate curse of his kind.

  Fulfilling the demands of the Blood Curse and securing his future with the human female had been far more important to Shelby than completing his studies. He had planned to return to Romania as soon as the blood sacrifice was made, yet the young fledgling had failed at both tasks.

  Marquis knew he was the one to blame.

  He should have been more vigilant.

  He should never have let down his guard.

  Things had just gone so smoothly—so unbelievably seamlessly—between Shelby and Dalia that no one had foreseen Valentine Nistor’s wicked scheme.

  It wasn’t an excuse.

  Marquis was an Ancient. He should have known better.

  Marquis balled his hands into two tight fists, struggling to contain the rage—the gut-wrenching heartache—that threatened to consume him. The sky above him had already turned as black as night, and the wind was picking up into a fierce howl. He had to keep his emotions in check.

  He kicked at the cold forest ground, causing a not-so-subtle tremor in the earth beneath him in an effort not to cry out. The vengeance he had finally exacted on Valentine was nothing against the breadth of this loss.

  Celestial gods, how could this have happened!

  And it wasn’t just that Shelby would have been a Master, an achievement borne of four-hundred years of studies; he would have been a Master Warrior, like Marquis. And that meant Marquis would have been in charge of his little brother’s ongoing training: It would have been the first time in four-hundred and seventy-nine years—since their father’s death—that Marquis would have shared his day-to-day existence with another being.

  The first time in four-hundred and seventy-nine years that Marquis Silivasi would not have been alone.

  Marquis knelt before the simple white slab of granite and bowed his head in reverence. So much loss.

  He had seen so many warriors needlessly slain over his lifetime as a result of the wretched curse—a pronouncement made upon generations of males for a sin committed so long ago that the fallen warriors didn’t even remember the crime. They only knew that when the Blood Moon came, they had thirty days….

  One opportunity in an otherwise eternal existence to claim the one human woman who could save them from the ultimate fate of their kind. One month to obtain a chance at life, create the possibility for love,
and acquire the blessing of a family.

  Thirty days to live or die.

  Marquis shook his head. What was the purpose of being a warrior...of being an Ancient...if he couldn’t even protect the ones he loved? What was the purpose of surviving this long when his life had been nothing but time, education, endless battles, and loss? And why hadn’t that one opportunity to love—to share such a barren existence—ever been given to him?

  He was so very weary of living.

  Like a slowly boiling cauldron of water, Marquis’s body began to tremble with the depth of his anguish. His lungs labored, and his heart pounded from so much rage and injustice, until finally, he could no longer contain his grief, and the pain of a lifetime spilled over.

  Hands pressed tightly against his temples, Marquis Silivasi threw back his head and shouted his rage, his grief, in one gut-wrenching cry: a lion’s roar that shook the heavens, sending balls of fire the color of blood crashing down upon the earth, hail the size of baseballs battering the valley floor.

  As the Ancient Master Warrior’s crimson tears fell like raindrops, the rivers overflowed and the heavens shook. Giant boulders perched atop nearby canyons crashed to the earth’s floor in violent rockslides, even as the sides of the mountains split open.

  And then all was silent.

  The anguished cry of the male reverberated through the Rocky Mountains. It echoed through the rising hills, rose to the blackened sky, and stirred deep beneath the cavernous valley, until it finally settled as nothing more than a subtle tremor buried deep within the earth’s crust.

  Ciopori Demir stirred.

  Her resting place disturbed.

  Deep golden eyes, dotted with amber-sparkles like sun-drenched diamonds, blinked once...twice...a third time. Heavy, dark lashes fanned ancient cheeks as eyes that had been closed for centuries fluttered open. A sleeping mind awakened. A soul became aware.

  The echo of the male’s call stirred Ciopori’s heart as she slowly sat up. His anguish penetrated her soul. The cadence of his cry restored her eternal heartbeat. Somehow, his rage reanimated her pure, royal blood...primordial, innocent, and unblemished...even as his grief broke the ancient spell.

  Ciopori rubbed her eyes, trying to clear her mind. She pushed a heavy lock of her hair from her face and struggled to remember: Where was she?

  Who was she?

  The memories came back slowly, one scattered piece at a time: She was the daughter of greatness, the first-born female-child of the Great King Sakarias and his beautiful wife, Jade. She was the caretaker of her youngest sibling, Vanya, and the sister of the royal twins, Jaegar and Jadon. So what was she doing buried deep within the earth? Surrounded by so many layers of rich minerals, crusted soil, and clammy moisture?

  The ancient princess suddenly felt entombed in the endless layers of evolution. Trapped in a timeless grave. Think, Ciopori, she urged herself, as the dirt walls of her grave seemed to close in on her. How is it that you find yourself in this predicament? And what must you do to get out of it? The memories began to creep in incrementally, like water through a leaky dam: all the killings, the endless sacrifices, the loss of so many females.

  The last of their great kind, the Celestial Beings, had been reduced to ashes by the moral depravity of their men, their ravenous hunger for power. Their culture had been decimated by a wicked, insatiable thirst for blood that had become unquenchable.

  Ciopori sat up and hugged her knees to her chest, rocking in a smooth, rhythmic motion, trying to calm her mind. Who was the last person she remembered seeing? Ah, of course, Jadon, her beloved older brother. Now she remembered.

  Jadon had whisked them away—herself and Vanya—at great risk to his own life. In the midst of a violent storm, he had come into their castle bedchamber like a thief in the night, imploring them to flee Romania at once, explaining that they had to get out of the castle immediately if they hoped to live: Jaegar and his warriors were coming for them.

  The men had finally crossed the last and final boundary: They had gone mad from their endless blood-lust, and were ready to make the ultimate sacrifice, the virgin daughters of the great king himself, Jaegar’s very own sisters.

  Determined to see his siblings live and his society survive, Jadon had whisked them across the vast, open countryside, taking them deep into the heart of the Transylvanian Alps, where he had met up with a convoy of traveling warriors, a secret group of mercenaries led by the infamous wizard, Fabian. Eventually, Fabian had secured passage on a ship across the great sea, taking himself, Ciopori, and Vanya to a foreign land far across the ocean, an uninhabited refuge where they would finally be given sanctuary from their own kind.

  Sanctuary in the form of a living death.

  A deep, dreamless slumber where their bodies would remain alive—immortal, yet asleep—until such time as it was finally safe to awaken them again.

  Until Jadon came back to get them.

  Ciopori wondered what time it was. What year it was. She began to thrash around, frantically searching for her sleeping sister in the darkness of the shallow chamber. She must find and awaken Vanya! How long had it been? How many years had they slept? Had Jadon finally come back for them?

  And whose anguished cry was that?

  Her heart felt heavy from the torment in his voice. Had his sorrow awakened her? Ciopori didn’t know why, but she had to find that male.

  She had to go to him!

  Desperately, she began to claw at the ground, digging in frenzied circles as her body scraped against the walls of the earthen tomb.

  “Vanya! Vanya!”

  She cried out until her voice grew hoarse, digging...turning...clawing...twisting her body this way and that in a frenzied effort to uncover her baby sister. “Vanya, where are you!”

  After what seemed like hours, Ciopori dropped her head in her hands and started to weep. The earth was suffocating her. She was about to panic. She had to get out of the ground. Now that she was awake, she could no longer stomach the shallow grave: The smell of damp earth was all around her, the blanket of rich soil encasing her like the burial shroud of a mummy.

  Ciopori took a long, slow, deep breath and worked to calm her mind. She was a Celestial Being. Picture the earth. See the sky above you.

  She shifted until she was on her knees.

  “Ancestors, Great Ones, I humbly beseech you: From deep within the earth I pray, my tomb as dark as night; for freedom from this lowly grave…awaken heaven’s light.

  Place my feet along earth’s path, the sky above my head—where flowers bloom and children laugh; release me from earth’s bed.”

  All at once, Ciopori was standing in a clearing, her feet on solid ground. Towering pines and fir trees surrounded her, and the sky transformed right before her eyes from a darkened gray to a brilliant aqua blue. Her eyes swept over the land, taking note of the simple granite markers. It was a circular, hallowed clearing.

  This was sacred earth.

  A burial ground.

  Ciopori stepped backward, removing her shoes reverently from her feet as she paid silent homage to the dead. She wondered who they were. Were these her father’s soldiers?

  And then she saw him.

  The powerful, stunning warrior.

  The one whose cries had awakened her.

  He was an enormous male, clearly a fighter, with long, thick hair the color of midnight: the color of hers.

  His eyes were like the depths of the ocean, so black they gleamed blue. And his remarkably handsome face was stricken with sorrow as he knelt before a simple white stone marker. Ciopori knew immediately that he was a warrior of some standing. It was in the proud set of his shoulders, the way he crouched above the ground with both stealth and purpose, the arrogant slant of his chin. There was a hard certainty in his demeanor...in spite of his sorrow.

  Ciopori had spent very little time with her father’s guard growing up, but she knew enough etiquette to approach the warrior with respect.

  She padded silently around the peri
phery of the grounds, stopping roughly four feet behind him. As was proper when addressing a male of authority, she averted her eyes, cleared her throat, and awaited his attention.

  The male sprang to his feet like a predator, rising and whirling to face her in one smooth motion. He looked startled to find her standing there, as if no one had ever snuck up on him before. His face was a hard line of menace as he stared her down with those hauntingly beautiful eyes.

  “Greetings, warrior,” Ciopori whispered in the old language.

  one

  Startled by the impostor, Marquis sprang to his feet and crouched into a warrior’s attack stance. Great gods, he must be losing his mind. No one had ever caught him unaware before.

  As soon as he realized the intruder was a female—a strikingly beautiful, very unusual female—he began to relax. Her hair was the color of the Vampyr, a deep raven black that shone with highlights of midnight blue. Her eyes were like nuggets of pure gold with amber diamonds in the centers, sparkling like the noonday sun. They were clearly not human, and her countenance was positively regal: The woman stood before him like an Egyptian queen, drunk with nobility, as if she owned the entire world. Yet at the same time, she bowed her head and averted her eyes with great deference. She had obviously been raised to behave in such a manner.

  Marquis took a step back. He wasn’t at all sure who or what he was dealing with.

  The female squared her shoulders and declined her head once again in the slightest gesture. “I have startled you, warrior. Forgive me. Once again, I bid you greetings.”

  Marquis blinked several times. He had been so taken aback that he hadn’t even noticed—she was speaking in the Old Language. But unlike himself—or his brothers for that matter—her accent was pure. Her tongue, absolutely flawless. The cadence was hypnotic.

 
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