Excerpt of THE KRIE SEEKERS:
“What if…,” Mardigan began, “What if Seekers actually are Krie?”
Boone straightened and blinked at his partner, uncertain if he understood. “Pardon?”
Before Mardigan could further expound on his thoughts, Skell came parading out of a nearby alley.
She was vicious and beautiful, inhuman in the way she had looked when Boone had first seen her in the Ariella Sturgeon. Her mouth and chin were stained crimson, as were her hands and a good bit of her blouse and jacket. Her eyes glowed, wide and cat-green. She glanced between the two of them, stiff and alert, then about the alley – as if searching for something else. Then her brow creased ever-so-slightly.
Her movement then was like a slow motion, balletic move to Boone’s mind. Her despairing eyes rolled up into her head and she fell forward. Unconscious.
Mardigan was the one who rushed to her side, Boone was still in shock from seeing her blood-stained beauty. He rolled her over and checked her pulse. “She’s gone into another fit of stasis.”
Boone shook himself out of his stupor. “Where is Miss Tatty?”
Stiffened by the realization that Skell was alone, Mardigan shot to his feet and glanced around, searching the road and surrounding rooftops as if expecting her to be crouched like a gargoyle above them.
But she was not.
Miss Tatica was missing.
Alertness came to Tatty one muscle at a time. She heard low humming. Male voice, young and deep and clear. He was less than ten feet away from her. He wasn’t moving, but she sensed that his attention was fully upon her. She smelled coal and dry stone and fire. Where-ever she was, it was warm and dry. A single room with a low ceiling.
She was laying on a bed of rough-spun wool and leathery old flesh. She could smell that it was flesh. Human skin. Not fresh, but it still made bile rise to her throat. She investigated it with her fingers, noting the seams between the different textures. This had once been human flesh. But more recently, it had been Krie flesh.
She suddenly knew where she was.
“Took you long enough.”
She went tense at the male voice that spoke to her, but tried not to reveal it. She was aware of his gaze now squarely upon her and it made her skin crawl.
“Open your eyes. I know you’re awake.”
She didn’t want to. She was afraid of what she would see. But she refused to show her fear, so she did as she was asked.
At first, all she saw was an outline, a lying humanoid shape looming before the colors of fire. She blinked, trying to clear her vision. She was in some kind of furnace room, a deep heat fire burning high and bright just beyond the mouth of a metal monster. Before her stood another monster, but as her eyes adjusted he took on a face of innocence and gentrification.
Confused, she frowned at him and attempted to sit up. The effort made pain shoot through her legs and set her head to reeling. Wincing, she fell backward.
She forced her eyes open again and glared at him. “You’re human.”
His grin was predatory and adorable, set into the features of a young man who looked to be just barely twenty. Handsome and well built, he was dressed as though he were ready to attend a night at the opera. She didn’t trust the ruse. “Do you like it?”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “No. You’re like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
His fine lips closed over perfect teeth and the grin became a deep, self-satisfied smirk. He had dimples. And bottomless dark eyes. She turned away, unnerved, and stared at the wall.
“You wouldn’t believe it. This body literally fell on me,” he explained. “I was walking along, minding my business and it just came tumbling out of a pipe. Still warm, the life barely left from it and totally saturated in fear. It was like Ehleis himself had dressed and marinated it for me.”
Tatty rolled her eyes at his humor. She didn’t understand. A whole body? Krie – even Kings like this one -- never took a whole body…Just pieces. Just bits.
As if reading her thoughts, he said, “I understand your confusion. It’s abnormal, I know.”
Her voice rasped as she said, “Why?”
She saw his shadow shrug against the stone wall. “Why not? We can evolve. A Seeker knows this most of all.”
She swallowed hard. “We became this way at Ehleis’ will,” she reasoned. “We were the chosen ones.”
She sensed him step closer. Heat radiated off of his host body. The young man the Krie inhabited had once been dead; he was not now. His flesh was virile and alive. It seemed so odd a thing that a grotesque, murderous creature could do something as miraculous as breath life back into dead flesh. “And am I not also a hunter of Krie? Why shouldn’t I also be called a chosen one? Why am I banished to shifting skin and darkness like a curse,” he was saying. “Why should I care one whit what the Sun-God deems when I obviously don’t hold his favor? Why not take a cue from the humans and make my own fate?”
Tatty tried to wrap her mind around the impossibility of his words. He’d gone against convention and sought something different for himself. But what? She didn’t understand. Standing at her back was a Krie. A King. But he was not the ribboned-together and primal sort she’d come to know through nightmare and sheer luck. This one was different and he frightened her even more than the others because of it. He was an enemy she didn’t know.
Was he an enemy?
She’d been unconscious in his care. He could have partaken of her flesh in any manner that suited him -- it was how the Seekers and the Krie worked. But he hadn’t. Why? She turned back to him then, urgent. “What do you want from me?”
He stared at her for a long moment, dark eyes possessive and intense. “A partner.”
Jagged ice seemed to skitter up her back at the words. She tried to keep her voice steady as she spoke. “I already have a partner.”
He smirked, boyishly impish. “You mean that monster who threw you to the mercy of a dozen Krie?”
Tatty went very still then, every protective bone in her body steeling. “Skell is my sister.”
He went on. “Doesn’t seem very sisterly to me. She’s barely sane. You know that though, don’t you? You must see it in the wild way in which she hunts. She’s more Krie than Seeker, I think. I sense that it’s only by your gentle nature that she doesn’t murder left and right. Her hunger is a desire for the hunt and the kill. The joy of death. Is it not?’
Tatty resisted the urge to lift her hands and cover her ears against what this King was saying. It was truth, she knew. Skell was a monster, barely kept on her leash. But the fact was: she was kept on a leash. Tatty kept her sane. Which was all the more reason why she had to remain with Skell at all times.
His eyes narrowed at her. “She almost killed you back there. A simple noise and she gets so excited that she basically throws you to your death. I watched you fall and I watched you hit. She didn’t even waver -- didn’t even realize you were gone from her side. She didn’t care, she was too intent on that one foolish little Krie that was following you to realize she’d thrown you to the rest of the Coven. You’re lucky I was out this evening.”
Tatty remained quiet. She did not want to believe this King Krie, but she knew he spoke truth. Someone had stepped between her and the Krie down in that dark cavern and it had been this King. She knew it in the same way that he could sense her feelings, in the same way Skell could sense her feelings. They were connected. She didn’t want to be. She tried sitting up again, gritting her teeth against the pain. “I want to leave,” she grunted.
His eyes flitted toward the door and he took a step back. “You’re welcome to leave, Darling. I’d never keep you. However, I doubt you’ll be able to stand. And even if you could, there are more than a hundred Krie surrounding us. You won’t make it out alive.”
Sweating against the pain, she glared at him. “Where are we anyway?”
His eyes drifted toward the pipes drooping from the ceiling. “Best guess? About seven stories underground? There’s a small collective of humans who live here.” He smiled, more to himself than anyone. “It’s like a little underground village, really.”
Tatty continued to scowl. “And you feed on them, I suppose?”
“On the contrary. I protect them from the others.”
That was not the answer Tatty wanted to hear. This King was too offsetting, too full of unexpected surprises. “Why did you bring me here?”
His delicate brow arched. “Would you rather I left you lying broken in a sewer? So any Krie that passed could either rut you or chew you as he pleased?” He lifted his chin, indignant. “What do I look like to you?”
“You look like danger,” she said, voice quiet.
If you like it, please go buy it for only .99 cents on Amazon Kindle. (HERE)