Hey there everyone! Here is the excerpt!! This is the beginning of chapter 21. This may still need a last minute edit, so bear with me on any errors!
Should be out in a few days! 🙂
Ludovic mindlessly toyed with the long strip of leather that was in his hands.
He had carried Cora back to the home while another member of Reiger fetched for a matriarch. Of course, Frioa was the one to arrive. She had used the leather strip to cinch Cora’s arm she drainer the black blood.
The matriarchs were primarily known for their healing abilities, even with the unknown. But the ones in Ingram had Ludovic questioning how the goddess ever flowed through these women.
It was clear that the black blood was stemming from the burn, and would not cease until whatever spell that was holding Cora hostage relinquished. Bleeding her would do nothing.
He had commanded Frioa to stop the bleeding, to which she complied when his eyes turned amber, and he took the leather strap off himself.
Eventually, the black veins disappeared, and he noted that Frioa poured the blood from the bowl catching the heavy stream into a jar.
Matriarchs would often collect blood, as it was used in their magic and they studied it. And yet there was something was off about Frioa.
His instincts were against her.
That had been three hours ago, and he still heard nothing about her condition.
Ludovic looked down at the leather in his hands. It smelled different than any of the the leather that they had in Reiger. Did Ingram use different hides, or cure the skin instead of tan it?
“What will you do?” Valda asked, interrupting his thoughts.
He and his mother were standing the room of this refurbished, abandoned mansion that was once considered a library. He had just finished retelling his mother of the previous night. Her council, along with Erik’s, was his most treasured.
“I will go back to Reiger for a month, then come back here,” he replied.
“What of Oren?”
“Oh, I will enjoy that,” he said, wrapping the leather strap around his hand in a mindless manner.
“He’s an idiot,” his mother said, tutting.
Ludovic narrowed his eyes at the thought, then looked up out the window. “No, he is not,” he finally said.
There was a pause. “What?”
He turned his head to face her. “He’s not an idiot. Something is going on, and I want to know what. His recent actions have stripped him of all protections from prosecution. He would have known that. He’s harsh, but he’s not reckless. It’s a useful trait for a beta, but unforgivable if directed at me. I want to know why he did what he did,” Ludovic said.
Her shoulders rose as she took in a deep breath, then looked to the fire in the grand hearth as she exhaled. “This should have been dealt with on day one. It was obvious by the way that Cora was acting that something was wrong.”
Ludovic turned back to face the window, noticing that one of the trees was already starting to change its color. Fall was his favorite season, next to winter. He always had extra warm body heat, and the cool air was always welcomed by him.
He mulled over her comment before responding, “Do you remember how father used to discipline me when I misbehaved?”
She gently chuckled. “I remember there was a year where his hackles were always raised because of you.”
A corner of his mouth curled. He remembered that year well. Just over ten years ago, when he was young and determined to demonstrate his prowess like all young lycans did. Although with his gifted strength, it made him quite the shit. “Father let me dig my own grave until I realized I was stuck in it.”
His mother was silent for a time before speaking, “So, then, is Oren in his own grave?”
“He’s been in there for a while. Just not deep enough,” Ludovic said as he watched a pair of guards strolling the area.
“What of the boy? Her brother? Did you know about this prior?” she asked.
“I knew that there was a strange boy that arrived at the orphanage.”
“Did you know it was Cora’s brother?”
He paused. He had assumed that it could be her family, although he had nothing to confirm it, until last night. He had been waiting for her to tell him.
He turned to face his mother and sat down in a chair across from her, laying the leather strap on the table adjacent to him. “I was aware that there was a strange boy in the orphanage. It’s not uncommon to find orphaned children who are from villages outside of the witching borders, though. There are still lycans that hunt humans, as well a healthy number of wild Wards, and always the vampires. Orphans are extremely common,” he said, taking in a deep breath before looking her in the eye.
He continued, “But this boy was different. The owner of the orphanage said the boy was well fed, clean, hardly any dirt under his nails. He wasn’t lost, nor fleeing. Someone put him there, but he refused to answer anything. Then I heard that Gally was tending to him. It was obvious there was some kind of connection. I was not ignorant of it.”
His mother’s eyes showed that she was actively spinning that information inside of her head. He looked over to the fire, the flames spitting upward as embers floated into the chimney.
The fact that Oren stole Cora’s brother and was using him as collateral bewildered Ludovic.
Why do it? What did he want? Clearly not favors, as this was not a forgivable act. Conspiring against his own alpha was asinine.
It was a question that had no obvious answer, which meant a mystery shrouded it. Which meant more lies and deception. So what was it?
His mother was gazing out the window, her elbow resting on the arm of the couch as her thumb mindlessly rubber her chin. “So why wait for Cora to say something? Why did you just not demand the truth from Oren the second that you smelled she was injured?”
“How would that have helped?”
She dropped her hand and raised her brows. “To show Oren that he doesn’t have power over you.”
“He already knows that he doesn’t. It wasn’t a power trip, at least not directed at me. In the end, I decided to let it play out. To let him dig his grave.”
“You could have at least told Cora that you knew something was going on, or asked her if she had a brother, or something to let her know you might know. You could have saved her from the agony.”
“I debated it. But I realized – her blood entitled her to be genuinely considered as a Luna. So, I wanted to see how she’d handle herself. As a Luna, she’ll have to do things on her own, and make hard decisions.”
“Did you really expect her to make the right decisions as a human that was kidnapped and worried for her brother?”
“Being a leader guarantees struggle. You never fucking know what to do. You make it up as you go. I want my Luna be able to lead if she needs to. I had to see how she handled stress. I honestly didn’t give her much hope, to which she has pleasantly surprised me.”
“So you approve of her then?”
“She’s born a human, but has thick skin like one of us.”
“I haven’t interacted with her much, but you’re right, she’s no delicate flower. Are you going to consider her as a mate? You still have to be thinking of that. You need a Luna. You need a lineage.”
Ludovic took in a deep breath. The chemistry was high enough he was ready to fuck Cora whenever, similar to the energy he had with Sava. But he struggled with pushing the matter, especially knowing that she wasn’t entirely here on her own accord. It didn’t feel right. And she had been a human, something he was never completely attracted to. The power dynamics were too large to enjoy it.
Last night, however, changed things.
When she looked at him after recognizing his scent, that was the first time she had looked at him as a lycan. It was the first time he recognized her as more than a human, as someone on his level.
And the way she eyed him with no restraint, near a full moon, absolutely tested his resolve.
And he had genuinely thought no human R would catch his interest.
He realized that it was time to stop being coy with her. He’d tell Mina to ensure that the month that he was gone, that Cora worked on her Swedish. He wanted to be alone with her more, as they could get nowhere otherwise.
He looked to the gray eyes that he inherited. “Yes. I want to see what is there.”
I also have a newsletter! I won’t be sending anything out quite yet, as it’s for when I am finished with writing this draft. I will be sending updates on the progression of the story, character sheets with drawings I do, some maps, information on the sequel. It will just be an actual newsletter to keep you posted while I get this story ready for publishing!