Book and Blade: Book One of the Hand of Perdition

BOOK: Book and Blade: Book One of the Hand of Perdition
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BOOK AND BLADE

Book One of the Hand of Perdition

 

 

Erik Lynd

 

 

 

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About the Author

Also By Erik Lynd

Table of Contents

Copyright Information

 

 

ALSO BY ERIK LYND

 

NOVELS

Asylum

The Collection

 

THE SILAS ROBB SERIES

Silas Robb: Of Saints and Sinners

 

THE HAND OF PERDITION SERIES

Book and Blade

 

COLLECTIONS

The Long Fall Into Midnight Vol. 1

 

SHORTER WORKS

The Hanging Tree

Dark on the water

His Devil

Dreams

Siege of the Bone Children

In the Pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my sons, Ashton and Ronny

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

The Beast struggled to hold his entrails in as he stumbled through the underbrush just outside Hapensbury College. The irony of his recent evisceration was not lost on him.

He was weak. Weaker than he had ever been before. Blood seeped from multiple wounds, wounds that if made by any mortal weapon would have healed instantly. These wounds, however, had not been made with any mortal weapon. How the dark soul had obtained a Relic was a mystery.

Laughter brought him out of his dark reverie. Through the brush he could see a group of students walking down a path on the edge of the campus. The Beast hated the sound of laughter, it grated on him. Laughter was a distinctly human trait, which was all the more reason to kill them when his work allowed. But now, in his weakened state he sank lower into the underbrush. Though he was growing weak, it would be nothing to kill this group of mortal children. But he knew his end here was eminent, and he had little time for sport.

Like a primal instinct, the idea and need to find a successor rose up in him. The need had taken hold of him as soon as the thought entered his mind. He had never thought of having to pass along the gifts, let alone bequeath it to a mortal. Since the First Light on the First Day he had always been the Hunter.

When the group of college students passed, he stepped out onto the walking path. He pulled his long coat tighter about him to hide most of the carnage that was left of his body.

He sniffed the air looking, hunting for something. But all he smelled was youth, coddling, and weakness. He needed strength, viciousness, anger and around him walked kids to and from class, their biggest concerns: Am I ready for that history test? How will I write a whole philosophy paper in one night? Am I going to get laid tonight? Am I pregnant? Their petty thoughts disgusted him. But this town was all he had to work with.

He sat on a bench, trying to look inconspicuous, but suspected his seven-foot, blood splattered frame was anything but. He wove thoughts around him to make it easier for mortal eyes to slide past him. Then he waited. Watching each child as they walked by, smelling the scent of their blood, tracing it, following it back to its origin to the rest of the child's family. Mostly it led back to lawyers, business men, and doctors. Those that could afford to put silver spoons in these children's mouths. They could be ruthless in their own right, but not bloody. Not hunters.

He was beginning to think that he would expire right there on the bench before he could find what he was looking for, when he saw him. A boy, walking across campus, anger infusing him. The Beast searched the boy’s bloodline and smiled. Yes, this would work just fine.

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

Fuck Professor Waynscott
. Christopher Sawyer thought. There was no way he deserved a D on that paper.

It was a beautiful early spring day. Sunlight, the first warmth since winter’s chill, streamed through the oaks and elms that lined the main campus courtyard, dappling the ground with gray and black shadows. Squirrels scampered about in the trees.

It was all lost on Christopher. He stormed across campus, his sweater hood pulled tight against his face, the offending paper crumpled in his hands. He ignored the annoying squirrels and picturesque campus facade around him.

He had left class early. Once he had seen the grade, he hadn't wanted to stay and listen to the professor drone on and on. Christopher had actually worked hard on that paper. Anthro was the only class that was significantly below his B average, and he had thought this paper would give it a nice lift. Fat chance now with only a few weeks left in the semester. His dad was going to be pissed. His dad, the super crime fighting DA, who had aced college and law school, would never understand. It was all or nothing in his world, and Christopher fought all the time not to be on the nothing side of it.

It didn't help his case that he was in his third year and still hadn't decided on a major. His father had known from high school what he wanted to do with his life and was continually disappointed that Christopher did not share a similar sense of direction and inevitability. But the only thing Christopher feared more than his dad was the idea of being locked into any one choice for the rest of his life.

The exception being Courtney.

In the middle of the courtyard he paused and then abruptly turned. He had been on his way back to his dorm room, but now he decided he needed to see Courtney. She wouldn't have answers, but she'd be there for him, someone to vent to. After all, that is part of a fiancé’s job.

He rounded the corner of Babbet Hall and headed up the stairs to the front door to join the flow of students streaming in and out. Hapensbury College was a coed college and recently had made the dorms themselves coed. But old habits die hard, and while the floors were segregated and though he had been here a thousand times, he still received the accusing stare from some of the girls as he walked down the hall. He ignored them, anger and anxiety clouding his thoughts.

He didn't bother knocking on Courtney's door. Normally he would out of deference for her roommate, but he was angry and common courtesy was not in the forefront of his mind.

In retrospect, he should have knocked.

His mouth started speaking, while his mind, uncomprehending, took in the scene.

"Guess what just..." Christopher started, but stopped abruptly.

Courtney was there, but so was another guy and they were both in bed, apparently naked from what exposed flesh Christopher could take in. Her long blond hair slightly messed. Sex hair. It splashed against her creamy white skin.

She spun in the bed towards the door, eyes wide with surprise. Christopher found his voice again.

"What the fuck!"

Anger reared up in him full force. The day had built it up, but this, this stunning, horrible vision ignited it.

"Chris?" Courtney asked. "What are you doing here?"

She was cut off as the other guy in the bed sat up abruptly, the movement pushing her off the double bed. With his face no longer hidden Christopher recognized him immediately. Jeremy. Besides Courtney, Jeremy was the closest thing to a best friend he had here.

"Shit dude," Jeremy said. "You weren't supposed to find out like this."

"No shit?" Christopher asked.

"You were supposed to still be in class," Courtney said, as though that was a good enough reason to be fucking his friend.

He trembled with rage and embarrassment. He wanted to fly at Jeremy, maybe even Courtney, with fists flying. Jeremy, however, was much bigger than Christopher. It wouldn't be much of a fight, and Christopher would end up even more humiliated than he already was. So he did the only thing he could. He turned and left the room.

"Chris!" Courtney called after him.

He could hear her scrambling to get up and try to catch him before he left, but he ignored her. His impotent rage burned through him, and he could already feel the tears welling up. He quickly walked down the hall, shoving past other students. It felt like they were all looking at him. He could feel their pity, maybe even laughter, chasing after him as he moved faster and faster out of the building.

He still couldn't fully get his mind around what happened. He never expected it. He and Courtney were perfect for each other. They even did that annoying thing of finishing each other's sentences.

He was halfway across campus before Courtney caught up with him. She had managed to throw some sweats on, and it tore Christopher's heart that he still thought she looked beautiful.

"Jesus Christ, Chris. You were supposed to be in class. You didn't even knock," Courtney said.

"Really? My fault I interrupted your fuck fest. Next time just hang a sock on the door so I know someone is fucking my fiancé."

"It's not like that..." she drifted off unsure what to say next.

"Sure as hell looked exactly like that to me. What the fuck Courtney? We, we've been together since high school. I've never loved anyone else. Hell, I've never even been with anyone else."

"That's just it Chris. Don't you see? We were high school sweethearts. You were my first kiss. My first, well, everything."

"Well I sure as hell wasn't your last," Christopher said.

She ignored him.

"High school was such a small world. Now we’re in the bigger world, and I needed to explore."

"So you explored Jeremy? What the fuck? The least you could have done was find someone I didn't know for your expedition into the great unknown."

"I didn't pick Jeremy on purpose. It just sort of happened. But don't you see? This is your time to spend time with other people and find someone."

"I didn't need to explore," Christopher said. "I had found the one I wanted. I was one of the lucky ones. I found the perfect person right away."

Courtney looked down, tears leaking from her eyes.

"I never meant to hurt you," she whispered.

He wanted to soften, to hold her and say it would be okay, but then he thought of Jeremy with her in that bed and he knew he couldn't.

"Yes you did. You knew damn well how this would turn out, but you chose it anyway," he said.

He turned abruptly from her and headed toward his own dorm. It was across campus and a mirror image of Courtney's. Moments later he stood just inside the front door where he stopped. He suddenly had no desire to head up to his room. He would see too many people he knew, and he was in no mood to deal with smiling faces and good natured shit-talking from the guys on his floor. Tears still threatened to show up at any minute, and that was the last thing he wanted them to see. Besides, at some point Jeremy would be there, and he would have to deal with that.

But not right now. He turned to the stairs and headed down to the basement. He was not sure why, it was just where his feet were taking him. Although it was as good a place as any to be alone, very few people would be down there. It was mostly used for storage. There was a large garage that many of the students used to store bikes and an old laundry room that hadn't been used since washer and dryers were installed on each floor. There was also an old boiler room that was no longer in use which now served as the janitor’s office. Christopher had been there on occasion to borrow cleaning supplies for spills in his own room.

This office is where he was now heading, albeit subconsciously. He didn't care where he ended up, he just had to get away from people for a while. The tears were already spilling over as he made his way down the hall to the old boiler room. He just hoped the janitor was not in.

He wasn't. Christopher opened the door carefully just in case. Once he was satisfied he was alone, he shut the door behind him and fell into the old metal chair behind the desk.

It was an ancient boiler room, probably close to 100 years old. Several large boilers dominated the room with a maze of pipes leading to and from them. There were enough dials and valves to be a steampunk fan's dream. The pipes themselves looked ancient and rusted, some bent and twisted out of shape. Green and brown paint peeled from the wall while scum, and maybe even mold, climbed the walls. It looked like something out of a horror movie.

A part of Christopher's mind sensed there was something wrong with that. The couple of times he had been down here it had looked old, but not abandoned. There shouldn't have been this strong sense of decay and corruption. But mostly he ignored it as he focused on what had just happened. He put his head in his hands and let the tears flow.

BOOK: Book and Blade: Book One of the Hand of Perdition
3.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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