Blood Curse (Pulse #8)

BOOK: Blood Curse (Pulse #8)
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Blood Curse

PULSE Vampire Series Book 8

 

kailin gow

 

 

Blood Curse (PULSE Vampire Series Book 8)

Published by THE EDGE

THE EDGE is an imprint of Sparklesoup Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Kailin Gow

 

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the publisher except in case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

All characters and storyline originated and is an invention from Kailin Gow. Any resemblance to people alive or dead is purely coincidence.

For information, please contact:

THE EDGE at Sparklesoup

14252 Culver Dr. A732

Irvine, CA 92604

www.theEDGEbooks.com

First Edition.

Printed in the United States of America.

9781597480574

 

 

DEDICATION

 

This book series is dedicated to all the nameless volunteer blood donors, my doctor, and nurses at Las Colinas Medical Center in Texas who helped me pull through when I had suffered extreme blood loss, blacked out, and nearly hit my head on the floor. Your team gave me bags of blood for transfusion, which helped restore me to a level of safety.

My body craved the blood to keep alive, yet the thought of having to receive the blood from others because my own body couldn't generate it fast enough, made me empathize with vampires like Jaegar and Stuart.

When faced with death by blood loss, you realize how precious that blood in your veins and that beat in your heart are. Thank you blood donors around the world for providing this pulse for me and everyone who may at one point or another require your gift.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kailin

 

 

 

Prologue

         

 

         
S
corched. The sands burned with the heat of the blazing sun that would have scorched the feet of mortal men, leaving angry red marks across the soles of their shoes. The air was dry, so dry that mortal men would have coughed it up, spluttered up blood as the sands corrugated the insides of their throats. This was no place for mortal men, this desert in the middle of nowhere, these Saharan breezes that whipped the cheek with grains of sand as hard as diamonds, these lacerating winds so full of emptiness, of death. But that did not matter to Samson. He had not been a mortal man for centuries.

          Days, years, centuries had gone by since a desert like this would have frightened him. He had seen much, known much, since then. He had said goodbye to all his mortal woes, mortal fears, to everything that he had known of the past. It wasn't difficult for him, after all. His human life had hardly been anything to brag about. It had been misery, unending misery. And sand.

          Samson had been a gladiator, after all, in the days of Ancient Rome. He had been one of the gladiators who had fought in the Coliseum. He had been a killer, hardened and trained, from the moment one of the commanders at the gladiatorial training school picked him up by the scruff of the neck, whelping young lad that he was, crying and mewing, and told him that he had two choices. “Kill or die.” It was that simple. He fought for the entertainment of the roaring crowds, the
bread and circuses
, they said, the entertainment of those who did not have to worry about performing to the crowd while dodging a trident in the breast. Men and women – children, even – roared with delight when he came out into the area. They beat their breasts and yelled out his name when he killed his enemies, celebrating his victory.

          Some victory, Samson thought bitterly. He was fighting against other slaves, boys just like him conscripted into playing at soldiers for the entertainment of the crowds. Boys just like him, who cried and wept for their mothers at night in their cots, on the hard straw, on the floor if they were unlucky. Hardly the sort of enemy you felt proud about killing. But that was how it was in Rome, in the arena, where the blood spattered on the sand. You killed or you died. And Samson had chosen to live. And live he had – for centuries.

          He still remembered the first thing he'd done as a vampire. He'd held his hunger, at first, trained by so many years of hard discipline and militaristic living to ignore his own needs in favor of the ultimate goal. He waited until sunset and then went out into the arena, and waited for the command to kill the boy in front of him, a skinny and terrified thing from Thrace, whose feet got tangled in his fishing net. Oh, Samson had wanted to taste him – the bloodlust was strong within him. He could have given into this strange, new hunger instantly; he could have wrenched the boy's head from his neck and gulped down the blood for those few instants when the heart still beat. But he had a bigger goal in mind. He knew, at last, who his enemy was.

          Thousands – that was how many could fit in the arena. Thousands of spectators come to watch one of them die – him or the boy from Thrace. Thousands of shouting, waving. Many of them were his
fans
, people who came back again and again to cheer him on in this horror.

          He slaughtered them all with gladiatorial precision. Thousands of them, all at once. His anger was greater than his hunger, but both were sated. The rows of the arena all trickled through with blood. They used sand to get rid of the smell – sand like this desert sand before him. But not all the sand in the Sahara that stretched out before him could have gotten rid of that smell. As Samson looked out at the desert, the sands that stretched level in the distance, he thought once more of the screaming, of the death, of all that he had done, of his rage.

          But he was not angry now. His time with Octavius, his time with the Consortium,  had stripped the anger from him – both his human and his vampire selves. He had re-learned discipline, learned to fight the good fight. But every now and then he wondered if it was worth it.
Wouldn't it be better if there were no vampires and no humans? If the world were as empty as this desert?

           
But there was no time for such philosophical musings. Samson had a mission now. He had to find Octavius, taken into captivity by Nereti and her followers. The vicious Queen had a mission, too – the domination of all the world – and he could not let her win. Samson may, in his darkest dreams, despised the world humans controlled, but deep down he knew Nereti's would be worse.

         
Nereti, Nereti
, he thought.
Will we never be free of you?

           
She was the great Queen, worshipped in Egypt as a goddess by many, the great and savage power that struck the most terrible fear into the hearts of men, and the place where hearts might once have been in the vampires that followed her. She was the Great Mother of Death, for so they called her, with her alabaster skin so waxy it made you sick to look at it, and her hair so dark you could lose yourself in looking at it, and her lips so red it reminded you of all the blood you'd shed. She had the greatest power, the darkest power; she overwhelmed and terrified all who were by her side.

          Once, Samson had defeated her. Together with Octavius, he and the Consortium had captured Nereti and put her to sleep. It had been almost a thousand years ago that they'd done it – at last won the battles that had slaughtered so many of their men – and they'd thought they'd rid the world of that ancient scourge forever. But now she was back, brought to life again by the cruelty of another's blood. And now she would want revenge.

          “You fool,” A voice hissed behind him, and he whipped around, his muscles tensed and ready to fight. “You really think that you could evade us forever?” The voice was full of hatred.

          Samson's muscles tensed up. He recognized the vampires that surrounded him – all one hundred of them – as Nereti's men.
How had they come up behind him so quietly?
If he had been human, his mouth would have gone dry; strange terror coursed through him. He knew Nereti granted her men strange powers, but this...?

          “We're told to take you alive...well, sort of alive, anyway.” The vampire grinned through his fangs. “Now, you have two choices. You can come quietly, or you can come...not so quietly...”

          It was hopeless; it didn't matter. Samson fought – fought as desperately as he could – killed at least seven or eight of them before it was captured, sent his ruby stake flying through the flesh that turned so quickly to ash.

          But they outnumbered him in the end, as he knew they would, and he gave himself over to his surrender.

          “We have a very special punishment for you,” one laughed, as they held him fast. He would not stop struggling, he told himself – he would fight against this as he fought against all else – raging against their presence, raging against their strength. He was a gladiator, after all, and he knew how to fight. He knew how to kill. But he had never before had to go up against this many vampires alone.

          At last they conquered him. They flung his Life's Blood ring from his finger, and one vampire snatched it up greedily. He watched as they dug a hole in the sand, big enough for a beast to fit in; at last they threw him in and packed the earth around him, leaving him scorched and immoble, overcome by the heaviness of the sands.

          “Just you wait for dawn, now,” leered his conqueror.

          So, this was how he was going to die. Samson's heart constricted within his chest. He would not be given the dignity of a good death in battle, a death by the stake or sword. No, he would be slaughtered like a beast, left to die of exposure in these hot and level sands, left to burn. This was Nereti's final revenge, he raged inwardly. She would leave him no victory, no noble death. She would have him die like an animal out there.

          “Just fight me properly,” he roared. “Fight me, cowards! Kill me!”

          And then there was silence. The silence of fear. The silence of awe. The silence of unadulterated loyalty. Their leader had arrived.

          Among them, a tall woman moved – glided above the sands, her face veiled, but her statue nonetheless striking. She was tall, so tall, and slender, with the muscular bearing of an Amazon of whom he had heard tales of old. She radiated power, emanated force and strength from every element of her being. Samson felt the depths of the old powers rumbling in the desert in answer to her call.

          “Nereti!” he cried, his voice spiked with hatred. “Know this! You may have me killed like a dog, but you will never have my honor. You will never see me beg. I will die as befits a soldier.”

          “Die...” Nereti's voice was soft and slick. “But you are already dead, my brother.”

          “Will you watch him die, my Queen?” the vampire was slack-jawed.

          She unveiled herself.

          How beautiful she was, Samson thought, and hated himself for thinking it. The same beautiful sultry eyes, the color of chocolate or burned sienna, with their catlike flecks of golden glow. Her lips, so full and red, that it made you think of the passion you had lost in your mortal years. Her long, dark hair, shimmering in the very hint of dawn, just as beautiful as the legends said she was. And two ruby stakes in her hands.

         
Rubies.

           
Samson realized what was happening a split second before the guards did. He was fully aware of what it meant, the fear in their eyes, the recognition.

          Without blinking, Nereti slaughtered them all, turning vampire after vampire into mere ash.

          Samson gasped.

          “You look just like her, you know.” His voice was shaking as she began to dig up the sand, freeing him from his desert prison. And then - “I thought you were dead.”

          “I was,” Kalina said. “For a while.”

          “Then...” a smile spread across his face. The first smile in days. “You are the one in the prophecy. Only one can rise from the dead. Octavius would be so pleased.”

          He saw the worry in her eyes – and something more than worry. Love? She tried to hide it, but he could smell it out.

          “Have you located him?”

          Samson nodded. “Yes,” he said. “He isn't too far from here.” He swallowed. “But I am afraid it will be too late.”

 

Chapter 1

 

 

 

         
A
s she stood before Samson on the sands, her feet hovering a few inches above the earth, Kalina felt a strange power she had never known before. The ruby stake still shook in her hands – not because she was trembling with fear, she thought, but because her whole body seemed to be coursing through with new strength. What was she feeling? Every day, Kalina felt, she was rediscovering her body anew, rediscovering her strength, rediscovering what it meant to be a carrier of Life's Blood. The power that she possessed, she knew, was not her own – it was the power of an ancient line of Carriers, of so many before her, so many that had died in the service of protecting the world from vampires. And yet – it was a power more ancient than that. It was a power not unlike that which ran in the veins of the vampire queen Nereti, whom she so resembled.

BOOK: Blood Curse (Pulse #8)
11.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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