An excerpt of
Katrina: the Beginning
A free introduction to the
The Royal Blood Chronicles
by Elizabeth Loraine
My mind was racing and my heart was pounding so loud I was sure everyone in my compound could hear it.
What had just happened? I had seen something different in the way she looked at me. I was sure it wasn’t just because I had yelled at her. I had never had to hand-feed her before; was that it? Was it the fact that I had cut myself and let her feed directly from my wrist? But she hadn’t woken up until afterwards, so she didn’t know I had given her blood from my arm or that she had actively engaged in direct feeding.
I knew of course that it was strictly forbidden for a Watcher to give blood directly, but when she fainted it was clear that she was about to go into a dormant state. So I acted, thinking only of getting fresh blood into her to revive her quickly. As my knife opened the vein on my wrist, the scent made her nostrils flare and the same instincts that had kept vampires alive for centuries kicked in. She grabbed my arm and began to feed like a newborn baby at her mother’s breast The movement was so swift and powerful I wasn’t sure I could have stopped her even if I’d wanted to.
The feeling I’d had while she was feeding was pure euphoria and only the sound of my brother coming up the stairs made me break the bond. Then I carried her to a side room to recover. “Break the bond.” Why had I thought of it that way? Was that it? Had that short feeding changed everything?
Entering the courtyard of the Watcher compound, I found three of my brothers, Thomas, Simon, and Avery, seated around the roaring fire. The smell of venison and red cedar firewood made my mouth water. Only then did I realize I hadn’t eaten since yesterday. I needed to take my own advice, especially when I and my brothers were also giving and storing blood for our charges. Baron Von Dracek would surely also hunt along the way, but there might not be game in the high country, and added strength would definitely be needed. Extra blood to mix must be stored; nothing gives strength to vampires like human blood.
As I sat by the fire to eat, I heard my oldest brother, Gunter, approaching.
“We missed you at training today,” Gunter told me. “Don’t let it become a habit. None of us can be the weak link.”
I was the youngest of seven brothers, something the other six never let me forget. It was exciting to think I would now have a chance to prove myself on this journey. I was bound to protect Katrina no matter what might happen, even if that meant giving my life for hers, as many of my family had done for generations.
“Quinn,” said Gunter, “we have decided that four of us must accompany the Baron and Katrina on this trip, and we feel you may be too young and untried in battle to be one of the four.”
I jumped to my feet, pulled my sword, and with anger I didn’t know I possessed, looked Gunter straight in the eye and said through clenched teeth, “I dare any of you to try to keep me from my duty. Nothing is going to stop me, including you, Gunter. If you have any doubts, let us settle them here and now.”
Gunter gave a surprised look to Thomas and slowly rose from the seat he had just taken by the fire. Looking around at the others seated, he shrugged and said, “All right, little brother, let’s see what you’ve learned.”
As I backed into the open part of the courtyard, Gunter drew his sword. The fire reflecting off the blades made them seem alive. We circled first right and then left. Gunter lunged, his sword held high. Though moments before I had felt tired and weak, I was now invigorated by anger and the thought that my brothers would try to leave me behind.
I countered Gunter’s move, our swords clanking in the night. Out of the corner of my eye I could see servants and the other brothers gathering. Guards were yelling encouragement from above.
“That’s it, lad, don’t let Gunter push you about!”
Gunter was strong, but my speed easily made up for his extra years of training. I had always been a fast learner. Although Gunter had trained all of us brothers, I could see surprise in his eyes, for there was something in me he hadn’t seen before: pure rage. With the rage, I felt stronger, quicker, and more alert. When Gunter made a mistake, I seized my chance. As he lunged, I easily jumped aside. As my brother went by me, I whacked him on the back of his head with the hilt of my sword.
Gunter turned and swung for my head, but I ducked and hit him in the gut with my fist, using all the power I could muster. He bent over in pain and shock, and as I backed away the crowded courtyard erupted in cheers and laughter.
“I guess your little brother showed you a thing or two, Gunter,” a guard said from above.
Gunter raised his head, his hands still on his knees, and yelled, “Don’t you all have work to do? Be gone, for tomorrow comes quickly!”
Still breathing hard, I remained in an attacking stance, ready to continue if I must and capable of taking on all of my brothers, if need be. I would not be denied. This was my destiny, now more than ever.
Gunter slowly stood and put his sword back in his scabbard.
“Well, little brother, you’ve learned well and I have obviously misjudged your skill. You have just earned the right to join us. So it will be the two of us plus Thomas and Simon. Be ready, we leave before dawn.”
Katrina: The Beginning is available free at Amazon along with the other Royal Blood Chronicles..