War of Blood and Bones: Blackbird (Short Story)

The War of Blood and Bones: Blackbird
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Not able to speak, I could only watch as the grimace on her face deepened. We had faced difficult times before — my greying hair was a growing testament to that. But the strands that now lay strewn on the bed sheets were from a worry of a different kind. There was nothing left to do now but to wait. Like waiting for a plane to depart, sitting in a hospital affords you time. The same amount of time outside of this building would be filled with productive tasks. Planning my week, cleaning my car, or doing something that I thought had to be done. All of that seemed trivial now.

More than trivial: none of it had any relevance anymore. Not that I cared much for reading at a time like this. My thoughts stretched to my old students who were now adjusting to a new teacher. It had been my job to teach them about the world. I wondered if my replacement would have the same commitment to the truth. As a kid I thought I knew everything — at least most things that were worth knowing — but no amount of knowledge gained over the many decades could help me understand what she now felt.

Was there anything that I truly knew? Sitting by myself in the empty cafeteria, I nearly spilt the contents of my polystyrene cup when he spoke. He shook his head. And from the looks of it, you could do with some as well. I wanted to tell him to take care of it otherwise it would end up shrivelled and thinning, like mine. We sat there for a few minutes without talking.

I was just sitting here trying to think of everything that I know. I mean, know to be completely true, without any doubt. No response but the faint sound of horse racing on TV. I banged harder. Something rustled inside, and then a creaking sound like someone had just stood up from a rocking chair.

His trousers were held up by navy-blue suspenders, but he always seemed to be shrugging like someone wading through a swamp — as if expecting the pants to fall down at any minute anyway. He blinked a few times, as if trying to wipe away the milky films over his old eyes. He scratched at a haphazardly shaven spot on his chin. It just… appeared! Could you maybe come have a look? My parents would be coming in four hours. He eyed me suspiciously, his lips quivering as if he had also helped himself to something in my garden.

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Editorial Reviews. From the Author. I hope you will enjoy reading the War of Blood and Bones: Blackbird. If you like this book then you will probably find the short. Ebook Short Description: The scene is set for the red man to rise from his haven in hell and become flesh. This is the story of one of the heroes of the War of.

Or maybe he was just looking for his teeth in there. I tiptoed through to the living room. The huge cage loomed there. You could hear the hundreds of violet wings fluttering desperately. Each butterfly had mounted over its feelers a silver muzzle. Was that a needle at the end? Their hairy yellow trunks were barely visible under the malevolent gleam. I coughed. Then a soft giggle. I jerked around. And there was a turban in her hand. Where had I seen her before? A single tear rolled down her face. Her eyes were sunken, her hair falling out in patches with red welts on the bare skin.

The butterflies started banging their snouts against the rusted bars of the cage. I almost had to read her lips. Her eyes floated up to a point above me. In a semi circle around the fire, their features partially illuminated by the dying embers, six sets of eyes stared at me. They were certain what I was going to say. They expected me to plead guilty. Everyone always did, whether guilty or not. I could almost read their minds— hurry up, so we can climb back into our beds.

I looked out at the audience with contempt. The fact they were here at three in the morning, watching my trial, proved it. They wanted to see a ballot draw, a once in a lifetime opportunity. This trial would never get that far. I wondered where Marcus was sitting. I knew he was out there somewhere, but with most people sharing their seat with a friend, it was next to impossible to make out faces in the dim light. Marcus had told me this was the only way. The train station was busy despite the early hour.

The information board displayed the first train arriving at 06h45 and the first departure scheduled for 07h Heavy snow that fell during the night had obviously impacted the time order of the train traffic. Even in the best weather conditions punctuality was not the strongest aspect of the railway service.

In the waiting room two cleaners moved around with an air of utter desolation while their mops left a greyish trail on floor-tiles that long ago used to be ochre. Metallic banks were all occupied and the air was filled with a musty odour of wet cloths and boots. With every opening of the only door to the waiting room, a gleeful ramble of cold would make those sitting or lying on the benches closest to the door pull their coats and caps tighter.

While some would grumble asking the cleaners to be more careful, others would just move a little away from flying mops trying to preserve as much of warmth as possible. And cleaners, unmoved, continued their mopping. Mila walked in slowly and looked around the waiting room for a place to put down a heavy suitcase she was pulling, avoiding the murky stares accusing her of letting iciness in. Dim light falling from the ceiling lamps, half of which were not turned on, did not make it an easy task to find a free space in the crowded waiting room. Mila proceeded to the far corner on the left side of the room and let the suitcase handle out of her grip with a deep sigh.

Her hands were aching from lifting and pulling the case along the uneven cobbled pavement to the station and trying to avoid dirty slush sprayed by passing vehicles. Her back was also sore from leaning to one or the other side as she changed hands while pulling the suitcase. Gavin draf oor die pad en stap by die polisiekantoor in. Hy bekyk die binnekant van die gebou. Die vrou met die poniestert het skaars die telefoon neergesit, toe lui hy weer. Haar skril stem trek tot waar hy staan. Hard en duidelik en hy probeer dit uitsny terwyl hy wag.

Klink of sy sagter daaroor praat as oor die telefoon. Dit klink of daar iewers aksie is. Hy lag amper. Hoe toevallig. Dis dieselfde naam as sy oorlede pa. Dit prikkel sy nuuskierigheid verder en hy draai sy kop effens om beter te hoor. Die laaste adres, 67 Tarentaal singel, Durbanville.

Hy sluk. Hy drink skaars. Haar blik val reg op hom. Hy voel hoe die bloed in sy gesig opstoot. Hoe die gevoel uit sy bene verdwyn. Meteens voel dit of almal in die gebou vir hom kyk. Is dit een van daai drome waar die vreemdste goed met jou gebeur? In daai geval, is dit wragtig tyd om wakker te word. Hy knyp sy bobeen, vir ingeval. Niks gebeur nie. Die Ford Escort brul deur Republiekweg. Dan vlieg ons om die hoek, links-op in Van Deventerstraat.

Die erwe hier is klein en die huise is bykans op die sypaadjie gebou. Party dateer uit die veertigerjare en mens stap van die sypaadjie direk op die voorstoep, dan die voorhuis links en die hoofslaapkamer regs. Dit klink of die Eagles uit die kattebak sing! Die Ford se neus duik af en die bande skree soos Matewis rem. Die Oosthuizens is met vakansie en ek stap sommer by hulle erf in, spring oor die heining en deur my kamervenster. Ek hoor hoe Matewis se Ford derde rat haal nog voor die stopstraat; dan skree die bande weer. Binne-in die boks voel ek aan die sagte leer en skiet die boks dan diep onder my bed in.

My maag grom. Die gebrul van die Ford Escort het Mable laat wakker word waar sy indut. Die skoolbus se dieselenjin dreun ook nou in die verte weg, en die stemme van kinders kom nader in die straat soos hulle mekaar groet en skerts. Mable staan op en kom die kombuis binne. Sy skrik toe sy my sien. Ek hoor hoe Suzette die voordeur oopmaak, en ek loop vinnig eetkamer toe, enduik vir die stoel in die warm son. Die koel windjie druk die kantgordyn boeppens na binne. Buite ritsel die herfsblare.

A drizzle has wet the ground and now the air is cold and moist. He glances over his shoulder to see if the waitresses are looking. They are not. Kira bolted upright and took a haggard breath. She squeezed her eyes shut waiting for her heart to calm. Slowly the screams faded into the recesses of her mind and she felt as if she could breathe again.

It was a dream — just a dream. But it was more than that. It was memories. These memories were the type that no pills or counselling could cure. She ran her hand through her hair. She could not remember the last time she slept. Reba was in her second year of college and her best friend, Jemma, had talked her into going parachute jumping with her.

The first time she saw Deek Torrance was during the ground training class for the inevitable jump from a perfectly serviceable aeroplane. At home, Ben yanked off his tie, ruthlessly shedding the adorned skin that stood for his bank persona. The top two buttons of his Hugo Boss silk shirt popped off their pricy threads as he freed himself from the compromising deceit. Normally meticulous, Ben left his suited self crumpled on the floor. He trampled over his clothes for good measure, driven to re-costume into running togs.

He had to get out and pound the promenade, punishing the elements as they punished him, cleansing him, and infusing his core. Desperate to reframe before depression set in. No-one else would have received even a flicker of consideration, but Ben needed Jen, now more than ever.

Something Lucien was often made aware of. After all the times he had been awoken by him, he thought he would have become accustomed to the ritual flick on the ear — though evidently not. Lucien threw off his covers and dragged his feet over the bedside and straight into his waiting boots. He rubbed his throbbing ear hoping the pain would abate. He was fully dressed — something the boys were accustomed to. Eon was already waiting with a glass of water in hand.

He had a sip and tossed the rest in his own face to wake himself up. He dried his dark, dripping mop of hair and unshaven face on his dull, two-tone bedding while reaching under his pillow for his short sword. He fastened it in the small of his back as Eon was checking his bow and quiver. When the lights in the house behind the bar went out, Wisaka moved to the church grounds, sniffed the air and listened carefully.

No other villagers had chosen to roam about with or without dogs or bicycles. Graves from villagers of old days past filled these grounds that surrounded the church almost entirely. Since it was a Catholic church steeped in tradition, the graves were adorned by a large variety of impressive tombstones, each of which carried engravings that expressed the grief of those left behind. Most of the dates carved into the sand stone and granite markers went all the way back to the middle ages.

On others, time had made the carvings simply unreadable. As any graveyard in the middle of the night, the atmosphere was serene. Ilse van der Merwe se manuskrip, Belhar speel af in die sestiger jare op die Vrystaatse platteland. Ek kom sommer daar by jou aan dan spaar dit jou die trippie. Ek hoop nie daar is iets fout nie?

Gee nou in hemelsnaam vir Paul kans om sy werk te doen. Nee, nou is ek heeltemal verward. Het hulle Frans Mokoena se liggaam gevind? Ek veronderstel die polisie sal die liggaam probeer identifiseer. Frans se pa lyk onseker. So, jy kan nie help nie. Hy trek dadelik die handvatsel af en sy vlieg die vertrek binne en druk die deur weer dadelik agter haar toe. Haar kort, rooi hare is deurmekaar en daar is nou sweet teen haar nek en voorkop. Sy lig die pistool op.

Sy knik. Bly net by my. Jy maak my senuweeagtig. Maar hy sal nie nou pla nie. Dan kyk sy vinnig op. Hierdie verhaal van haar behoort beslis ook op die boekrakke. Die beste wat hy kan doen, is om haar in die stad te ontmoet. Maar nou stap sy, met haar handsak styf onder haar arm geknyp en haar pepersproei byderhand, na die naaste bushalte. Sy bind haar jas stywer om haar lyf om die snydende koue buite te hou en daarmee saam sommer ook die ewe geniepsige vrese. Teen die tyd dat sy by die halte kom, het die wind behoorlik met haar klaargespeel. Haar stewels is vol modderige grond waarvan sy probeer ontslae raak deur haar voete hard op die sypaadjie te stamp.

Selfbewus probeer sy haar hare met die hand gladstryk. Oomblikke later arriveer die Golden Arrow bus. Daar is nog heelwat oop sitplekke. Sy ruik na StaSoft. Die meeste van die ander passasiers in die bus is swart vroue in kleurvolle uitrustings en kopdoeke. Waarskynlik halfdag-huishulpe wat nou op pad is om hulle eie huise te gaan versorg en vir hulle eie gesinne te gaan kosmaak. Hulle klets kliphard in Xhosa. Heen en weer, soos ping-pong balletjies, trek die klapgeluide deur die bus. Sy weet nie of sy so lekker sou lag en gesels as sy die hele oggend lank iemand anders se huis moes skrop nie.

Veral nie as sy dan weer die helfte van haar dag se inkomste aan onbetroubare publieke vervoer moes bestee om by die huis te kom nie. Tussen die gesels deur, sing sommige van hulle gospel-liedere.

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Sy neem haar voor om meer blymoedig te wees. Haar nuutgevonde blymoedigheid word egter sommer vinnig op die proef gestel wanneer hulle by Bellville-stasie arriveer. Dit is vuil, lelik, lawaaierig. Die sypaadjies is oortrek met vullis. Sy klim huiwerig uit die bus. Sy klem haar handsak nog stywer vas. Dit vermeng met die reuk van ou sweet en urine wat reeds die lug versadig. Dan vind sy stadig, maar seker, haar weg na die perron, sterk onder die indruk van die verwaarlosing en verval om haar. I hoped he felt bad. Was that wrong? This could be the last time we spoke. I love you.

Shaking, all I could do was weep without words. Susan put the first page of the police report down on the desk in front of her and surveyed the tiny lady sitting across from her. She was wearing her best Sunday dress and clutching a square bag in her wrinkled hands. I have been blessed with good health, a child like you will understand that someday. Please give me the details of the alleged crime? Something illegal.

John, Albert, Frank, Rosie, the lot of them. She nodded her head knowingly and pointed in the direction of the report. I could see them forming little groups behind my back and exchanging whispers. From there I have a nice view over the grounds and the sun can bake my feet under my knee blanket. I pretend to take an afternoon nap, but I peek at them from under my eyelids. John, who has a car and is still allowed to drive, would casually walk to his car and wait in the passenger seat.

Rosie would then walk across the lawn with that embroidered basket of hers. She always hides that alley cat of hers in the thing, so she is a practised smuggler. He would stand on the lawn and pretend to study the flowers. Frank would be keeping an eye on me, seeing that I am the only other person around to witness their atrocities.

They would then all bundle into the kitchen with Albert waiting for them to close the door. No run! The dark night raged over her head and heat sucked at her skin. Thick hot air swirled around them. It was many years since her mother had taught them prayers. With eyes smarting she searched for what she thought would be north.

But the fire was eating at the pathway. Frantically she scanned backwards and forwards. Her head nodded one way and then the other.

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Keep up the good work. She nodded her head knowingly and pointed in the direction of the report. Was there anything that I truly knew? Based on a true story. You are commenting using your WordPress. Whatever it was, it badly needed a paint job. His fingers touched cool metal, sensing the shape of the fob watch, exploring for a securing chain or pin.

There was no obvious opening to be seen. The red wall had grown higher and Amber had no idea which way to go. Interrupting her plea. A loud, thump, thump, thump. Followed by a huge swish, splat, crackle. Water filled the air. The hotness sparked back yelling in protest..

The noise was frightening. And the small ball of fluff tucked so safely in her shirted wriggled with all his might. Plonk, from her shirt and he was gone. His short legs running hard at the small opening that had miraculously appeared on her right. Not this time. And in a flash Amber was after him. Carefully picking her way through the narrow space the pup had headed for.

Her eyes hunted amongst the smoke-thickened air. Titan was hidden but not his yap. Smudged dirty face waiting. Pounding forth. Crunching twigs broke under her runners. Further and further they went until her lungs ached. Hungering for an easier pace. For a few seconds she slowed. With several more hundred metres behind, she eased her pace. At the same time searching the landscape.

Nothing except fire reddened tree. Angry tears crossed her cheeks for the umpteenth time. Desperation was catching her flight. More seconds, turned into minutes.

By Blood, Bone, and Blade: A Tribute to the Morrigan (Second Edition)

Her muscles were twisted. Sore from dodging the hot- breathed flames. Confusion blocked her senses. Followed by the noise of a great swishing and then a wet splashing..

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Lights shone down upon her. Titan whimpered. Afraid, he began to wriggle. I take a deep breath. My breathing is slower now. I creep up the Wooden Hills. Those words again. Stirring memories in me. Deep memories. For one wild moment, I think about running as fast as I can to the top of the stairs, but that would be silly. If I did that, I know the monster would be waiting for me around the corner. I can imagine those horrible eyes, the thick fur, and the teeth. A wide mouth, full of sharp spikes and blood. What a stupid idea! I reach the corner and peer around it: still no sign of the monster.

There are still so many places it could be. I pull up level with the landing. There are more shadows. There are five steps left. Grabbing the handrail, I edge forward. Is my escape route still clear? Is the monster creeping up behind me? Or will the attack come from above? I take another step. I forget this is the step that creaks … Time slips, slows down. I wait for the pain to assault me, to rip through me, as I fall. I watch as the steps, the teeth, grow larger and closer.

Nothing there to break my fall. Surely, death has me this time, and what, I wonder, will the pain feel like? He picked up his bow and tapped it on his music stand. She did not need to be in this God forsaken country. The others would not have minded if she had said she needed a break; they had been travelling for almost six months and they were she knew, as sick of hotel rooms as she was. And that was of course, why she had come.

But, dear God, this place frightened her. Her military father had called especially to underscore the need for Americans to be cautious and watchful. She could not remember the last time her father had called her on tour. He had just made it worse, which was about normal for her father. It was all so foreign, she could not even read the damn signs and those lizards or whatever they were, running along the walls.

Then the muezzin from the mosque nearby begin to call the azan. Angela stumbled. A missed entrance, a bungled note. They all stopped in surprise and looked at her. A good thing to be reminded of, perhaps? What do we do? The police van had come down Harmony street. In the township on any given day it was a coin toss whether just hanging out with friends would get you thrown in jail. That was strange for him. China had only been working the block with him for a week but he knew he was jumpy. This guy was being way too cool for his liking.

He watched the police van slowly snake past them. The other guy looked new. The van made its way to the end of the block and then turned around. The headlights flashed a moment before Spider bolted. He took off running down Harmony street towards Slovo Park informal settlement, a few meters behind Spider.

The closer they got the more pungent the smell of raw sewerage and the lingering smell of wood and paraffin fire became. The settlement had nearly burnt to the ground recently. He knew better than to keep up with Spider. It was every man for himself. This democracy was a limitless well of generosity. Promoting so many he had no room to revel in his success. Small boys, some of them looking younger than Sifiso, became his big bosses. No doubt they were gulping breast milk while he queued for buses at daybreak. Now they headed the salary queue, earning more money than he thought was possible.

While shaking hands of factory royals. They threw words like fast-tracking around when speaking about these youngsters. Like they were cars on a race track. Maybe their fancy sports cars reminded people of racing cars.

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He wished he was born much later. Other times he was proud of them and said their success was his too. He found solace knowing that his offsprings would too dine at the fast-tracking table. Especially Nozipho who never let anything pass her by. But this democracy was a moody eighteen year-old. Sometimes it gloated about its epic feats. Other times it recoiled into a foetal position as it bewailed its incurable woes. When this happened, some said it was better in the past. He dragged his feet to the hall. His eyes set on a seat in the last row. To shield himself from meeting fanatics whose attendance records could earn them awards.

A gust of wind curled around the huge boulder and the flames flattened. The wood was dry and the camp fire soon crackled again in the desert night. Brogan unfolded his arms and flipped up the hood on his jacket, tucking his chin into his chest; then he shifted to rest his bare feet closer to the blaze.

His socks hung on a branch nearby, as they had every night for the past week. The fire would exorcize the damp, but was powerless against their increasing stiffness and smell. He stared into his pot of instant mash and soya mince bubbling on the fire. He had expected an objection to his weeklong sojourn, especially with only a month until their first child, a girl, was born.

But after eight years of marriage, she still surprised him. Go… explore…think… but decide. Keep up the good work.

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He had made the plan five years ago. They knew he had to put in these hours to accomplish it. But then why was he questioning whether he was doing the right thing? It was only about a few metres away from him but the dense fog and trees that blanketed the riverbank rendered it almost invisible. It worked. The small, rickety vessel halted and changed course towards Harry. As it approached, he was able to observe it and the figure aboard more clearly.

The boat seemed to be a cross between the gondolas Harry had seen on a holiday in Venice and those punts he used to sail on during his university days. Whatever it was, it badly needed a paint job. Its captain, a grizzled, rake-thin old man, was similarly worse for wear. He was leaning against the prow, clutching a long wooden oar which he now plunged into the mud as an anchor. But he does feel a bit bad after nights like last night. The proverbial black-out as they call it. Not knowing exactly who he was with, or what was said. Lots of drugs had done the rounds.

He did not mean for the night to turn out like that. In fact he had been tired when he arrived home and was planning an early night until Joe and his clan pitched up. He liked Joe a lot. Maybe Joe was a lot younger than him, but he could relate to Joe, saw himself in Joe. He was trying to take Joe under his wing and guide him not to make the same mistakes as he had done, but that seemed to be biting him in the ass.

At 35, that is what he was heading towards. The place smells of cockroach disinfectant. Florescent lights bright and white tangle from the ceiling reminding Bernard of a hospital ward. A fat face, round and red, smiles from the glass peek window behind the door. Bernard wonders whether in this battle he will be the Germans or the Russians. The door opens wide and he walks in the room thinking that inStalingradeverybody lost. Bernard keeps quite. The door has been opened for him and he is already inside the dim lighted card room. Have a sit. Drinking a little bit? Ant nodded.

A true leader that they can all look up to. Maduma rumbled laughter. We are bound to lose a few. We are doing our best now to improve the lives of these orphans, but it is likely that a few of them will die for the cause. We need to establish a new government for our country. We need a government that can build things, that can get us to start moving forward again. The virus outbreak has passed. We need to get things under control again.

Especially an army of children? Dasha Colchek said you might need some convincing, but we really want you on our side. He supports some young naive Turk who knows bugger-all about banking. Do you have any idea, woman, what it costs to keep up the charade of all this? Bloody Bob must have talked banking, money and big deals to her father. Damn convincingly too, given the glib liar that she had discovered her husband to be.

As for her mother…. Jeff paced the lobby of the animal clinic. The receptionist stepped out from behind the sliding door after a while. She lifted a plastic envelope containing a bottle, a needle and a syringe, and laid it on the counter. You know the skin at the back of the neck? Jeff sighed.

And only two hours? He should be out by five. Hannah peered down at the waves crashing against the cliff then back up at the castle set precariously on its peak. The constant rain and harsh lashings of the sea had made every surface slick and green tinged.

The crumbling track looked near impossible to climb. Hannah yelped and started trotting up the path. Henry scoffed, and with Hannah struggling to hold a cat-sized umbrella in place, hacked into the puzzle system through a terminal hidden under a sword in a stone to cancel it. This cut out all the ridiculous heroics but still left Hannah with a long jog in the rain. Despite the help Hannah was a gasping panting wreck by the time she got to the top. He gave Hannah a disapproving look which must have been difficult without eyes and lowered the drawbridge.

Three steps into the courtyard and the rain gave way to a balmy spring day.

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Hannah blinked for a moment then shucked the coat and tried to wring out her hair. Henry yawned and jumped from his perch to clean his paws. It was late afternoon before Ab stirred. The effort of cleansing the big stone house of its poisonous energies had drained him and he was loathe to leave the sustaining embrace of his oak tree. He sat on the floor again and began the process of pushing away the vestiges of the horror perpetrated in the room. He deepened his focus and streamed light, love and peace into the slowly responding space.

There was a loud crash and Ab was startled back into the present. He heard it again and rushed down the stairs. James had flung open the patio doors and was lurching out onto the flagstones. He almost tripped over an uneven section and started giggling. Ab stared. Drown in the river like mum and dad? Or maybe I should dig a hole in the garden and fall in? Ab gaped as he watched his precious charge behaving so oddly. He was terrified that James had finally gone mad. He stared wildly around looking for inspiration when his eyes fell on the empty whiskey bottle.

Rip roaring drunk! The man who never lets go is now singing and shouting and falling all over the place. Asa pedalled up a hill. The sun beat down on him and the smell of dust and hay filled his nostrils. How he hated this life. How he hated his father, when he called him a failure, a wimp. He pushed into the pedals a little harder. How he hated his brother for bullying him, and his mother for having died too soon, leaving him stranded in a world where he had to fight to survive.

Hunched over the handlebar, he thrust his weight into both wheels. If he could just escape his family, the fights, the fear. If he could just forget. And forget he did. After a few slopes, he already felt like riding waves. And what waves they were: rolling along for as far as he could see, chequered with fields of green and yellow. There, upon the crest, he waited and listened. The air was thick with the song of crickets. His eyes shining, he kicked his feet off the ground. He rolled on, faster and faster, bouncing and pitching as he hurtled down the hill, ploughing up clouds of dust from under the wheels.

He was more like a dwarf than a man, square shaped with chunky legs and a shiny bald head that looked too big for his body. He had beady black eyes that seemed to go a shade paler when he spoke, as if the energy from his eyes was sucked in to his voice box. He wore a brown Chairman Mao suit, something Mabel had insisted on. He worked with precision, sharp creases down the sleeves and no wrinkles on the collar corners. He hummed cheerfully as he worked.

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Of course, Colin had selected the tune, so appropriate for the day. Hum-hum-hum-hum-hum-huuuum happy birthday to you. And when Marg sees you she will be speechless, for a change. She yearned for acceptance in the posh neighbourhood. I will now empty the dishwasher. But now she was getting used to giving him orders. It was empowering. What a dear Colin was to give her such a unique gift. As she sat in her armchair in front of the dying fire, Isabella clenched her fists. Alone in the house, she looked across to the heavily curtained windows, the rich, red brocade long since faded to the colour of that dull, sad, washed out pink so often favoured by old women.

As her body strained to detect the sound again, Isabella absentmindedly wondered if she too would eventually succumb to the lure of the faded pink cardigan. God forbid. There it was again. Closer, bolder. What else would she have to do to ensure there was absolute silence when the night dark descended? She had arranged to have the perimeter of the house completely stripped of any sort of garden. She wanted nothing to feel it had a claim on her house, or her attention.

Not a bird, not a rodent, not a neighbourhood cat — and certainly no human being; especially a human being. Isabella Gordon had not had a meaningful conversation with another person in almost five years. She had always been particular with whom she shared her time and her thoughts, but now she shared them with no-one. Far from it. They were painful for both parties. She kept them to a minimum. At 45, Isabella Gordon was a beautiful woman, sharp and quick witted.

She daily smirked at the irony of that. What point being quick-witted when the only witnesses to that were the walls and furniture she moved around each day? It amused her anyway. Never vain about her looks, she did admire her intellect. She moved as if there was a mist around her she was determined not to disturb. Each long legged step so languidly rhythmic. All so at odds with her rather caustic sense of humour and stilted attempts at friendships. She had not one drop of empathy in her body.

Isabella reached for the candlestick on the side table to the right of her chair. She slowly lifted it onto her lap, reassured by the weight and coolness of the family heirloom. Heavy enough to cause injury, cold enough to keep her focused on what she would do next. Sarah is flying now. There is nothing between her and the clouds and she feels that she could fly forever, but then, she is falling.

Gravity is impatient and she cannot breathe. She hears scratching. Her eyelids fly open. Before she knows it, she is running. She runs until she finds herself outside her bedroom window. It is hard to spot him in the darkness but when he turns to acknowledge her presence his black eyes hold hers and his skin is ash. He turns to walk away. He does not turn, but he stops moving. Protects you, from things unwelcome in these parts.

Eventually, everything is clear and there, at the lowest part of the concrete wall is a line of crosses carved deep into it. Suddenly her heart is all that she can hear. He is gone. She is leaping over fallen trees and she is stepping in puddles of mud. She pauses at the sight of a half open door. There is a frame on the wall. The man in it is young, he is pale, and his eyes… oh his eyes. It is him. An old lady appears. She is using a walking stick. Her white hair is a neat bun. Every single one of them will feel my pain. My revenge will be legendary. Thomas' brother is dead. Now, Thomas is on a quest for revenge that will take him beyond the boundary line and into enemy territory.

However, he can't do it alone. In step a weapon dealing goblin and a dark elf with a dark past. They come bearing offers of army sanctioned revenge, yet what are their real intentions and who is truly behind the skirmishes that are quickly escalating into what could well be an all out war? With madness beckoning and grief threatening to overwhelm him, Thomas has his work cut out for him if he wants to survive this. This is an unmissable addition to the War of Blood and Bones Trilogy. Here at Walmart. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason.

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