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Vampires, Revenge, Prophecy
Revenge is not so sweet. Family betrayal leads to slaughter and destruction, and deception and unforgiveness play their hand in Broderick MacDougal’s destiny to become a Vamsyrian (vampire) and seek revenge. Immortality does not take away the human conditions of the heart, and as far as Broderick is concerned, it magnifies them. Love, hate, passion and boredom all seem exaggerated by the centuries. Love lends itself to many forms and matures over time. It also appears in places one never expected. Thus is the beginning of the Bonded by Blood Vampire Chronicles…
Scottish Fortress of the Vamsyrian Council—1486
“Death? Shall I—” Another wave of agony pressed upon his chest. Broderick MacDougal braced as razor-like pain raked through the inside of his body and coursed through his veins. He dropped to his knees. Putting his hands in front of him, he kept his face from hitting the sandstone as the breath was knocked from his lungs. Panting, he laid his cheek against the floor. The cold stone soothed the fever of his skin. The sound of his ragged breaths echoed off the vastness of the Vamsyrian Fortress. As the agony subsided, he struggled to right himself and stared at the youthful faces of the Elders.
The Elders of the Vamsyrian Council sat on their black iron thrones behind the expanse of their black marble table, looking like anything but elders. They glared down at Broderick, who knelt on the floor before them. All three men of various unknown nationalities and features, garbed in formal brocade robes of deep red, seemed no older than five-and-twenty years. Yet they measured their ages in centuries, Cordelia had told him.
Able to stand once more, Broderick cleared his throat. “Death?” he repeated. “Shall I not be permitted to live should I choose neither of the other options?”
Elder Rasheed, who had given Broderick his three choices, raised a coal-black eyebrow. “If you choose to go with the Army of Light, we are not permitted to kill you; but yea, if one does not choose them or us, it is customary to kill those who have rescinded from making this choice. That is a rare occurrence, but has happened. Killing you would be more out of mercy than preserving the secrecy of our race.”
In spite of the fire licking through his body, Broderick managed to raise his own eyebrow. “Mercy? Why is that?”
Elder Rasheed glanced sideways at his peers. “Surely you have been told your fate as a Blood Slave. Is it not why you are here?”
Broderick didn’t like the sound of that and shook his head, a tear of perspiration dripping from his eyebrow onto his cheek. “What is a Blood Slave?”
Frowning, Elder Rasheed turned a critical gaze to Cordelia. Broderick turned his head to the right, clenching his jaw from the effort, and stared at the woman who had brought him here. Cordelia Harley stood regally, yet avoided everyone’s eyes, red mottling her cheeks as she studied the tapestries on the stone walls.
“In short,” Rasheed continued, “becoming a Blood Slave is a death sentence. The exchange of blood you experienced is what creates your condition.”
Over the last several months, Cordelia had fed from Broderick, her small fangs piercing his throat as she drank a small amount of his blood. Then she cut her wrist and fed her blood to him which had his blood mixed with hers. This swapping of blood was necessary…so she had said. “Cordelia told me this was part of the transformation.”
Rasheed dropped his jaw, and turned a murderous glare on Cordelia. “You created this Blood Slave?” Cordelia still refused to make eye contact with anyone. “Look at me, woman!”
The pale yet devious beauty glimpsed at the Elder from under her raven eyebrows, then dropped her gaze to the floor and nodded. Broderick grumbled.
“You led us to believe by calling for this transformation, you were saving him from this condition, not that you had created it!” Rasheed rose from his chair like heat from a fire pit, slow and radiating with anger. “You dare move from that spot before this is over, I will personally skin you alive and leave you on display in this Grand Hall until I feel you have suffered enough.”
Cordelia’s breath quickened as she stared in wide-eyed horror at the Elders. She offered a small nod as consent.
Rasheed sank into his seat, still training his eyes on her. “Nay, Broderick MacDougal. This small exchange of blood binds you emotionally and physically to the immortal and, in essence, turns you into a slave of her will. That is why it is termed ‘Blood Slave.’ It is also why your body experiences such pain. The immortal blood fights within your body, trying to make the transformation. Since there is not enough of the immortal blood inside you, your body will die fighting this battle.”
Broderick gritted his teeth, struggling both with his rage toward Cordelia and the ache of his condition. This explained why he had followed her so blindly—he had no control over his emotions. Again, he permitted himself to be betrayed by a woman.
Of the two women he trusted, which was more responsible for his current position? His lifelong pursuit of killing his clan enemy motivated him to eagerly accept anything Cordelia promised. However, Evangeline’s betrayal caused the massacre of his brothers and their families, further fueling his vengeance and giving him no other choice but immortality to achieve his goals. And yet the broken heart within his chest would demand nothing less. Broderick turned his eyes to his left to gaze at the bane of his existence…his clan enemy, Angus Campbell.
Since Broderick’s childhood, his father Hamish MacDougal warred endlessly with Fraser Campbell in a private battle, whose roots remained—even to this very moment—a mystery. Caught up in one bloody fight after another, watching those he loved perish under the sword, Broderick built his own reasons for revenge against this branch of the Campbells.
His enemy stood beside him now, veins pulsing at his temples, fury burning in his emerald-green eyes as he glared at Broderick and Cordelia in turn.
“Your choice will determine your fate,” Elder Rasheed said.
“Who is this Army of Light?” Broderick asked, resisting the urge crack Angus across the jaw, but turned his attention to the Council.
Elder Ammon explained in an accent even stranger than Rasheed’s. “They call themselves God’s special children,” he said with disdain, staring down his aquiline nose. “They are a perversion of what we are. They claim to offer eternal life; and yet with our immortality, we remain undying while their mortal lives expire.”
“If they’re mortal,” Broderick asked with a quivering voice, “what would going with them afford me? I thought I was doomed to die.”
Elder Mikhail smirked. “We have been told their god can perform miracles and heal. Since we have never seen those who have joined with them—and be assured, those have been very few indeed—there is no way we can confirm or deny these claims. If you go with them, they may be able to heal you…they may not. We make no guarantees as to what they offer or what they claim to do.” Mikhail waved his thin fingers dismissively.
“But face them you must,” Elder Ammon said, pointing at a door to Broderick’s right. “They will offer you their side of this choice you make. All those choosing to become a member of the Vamsyrian race must do so willingly and make an educated decision. You will hear what they have to say before you decide.”
Two men, whom Broderick just noticed stood behind the Elders, came forward and assisted Broderick to his feet. Leaning on them, he shuffled laboriously toward the door where a new possible destiny awaited him. He glowered at Cordelia. She still refused to make eye contact with him as he passed. She had taken him for a fool. She had never intended to give him immortality, but only used him to get back at Angus, denying him the revenge of killing Broderick himself. Angus’s obvious anger at both Broderick and Cordelia confirmed she’d succeeded. But Broderick could only guess why she brought him before the Council. Why not just taunt him in front of Angus? Why bring him here? Furthermore, Angus’s presence at this gathering made no sense. Was he here to protest the transformation? Why didn’t the Council just let Angus kill him? He certainly couldn’t defend himself, and yet Angus operated as if his hands were tied.
Then an idea struck him. If he went into this room and chose to become a member of the Army of Light, Angus would most certainly not have his revenge. Broderick would be under their protection. If, by some chance the Army of Light could cure him, he could possibly live to fight another day and still have their protection even though he was mortal. And if they couldn’t cure him, at the least, if he died, he would die knowing Angus wouldn’t have his retribution…a last act of defiance, albeit a weak one. None of this sat well with him, but what choice did he have?
One Vamsyrian heaved open the heavy, oaken door. The two immortals helped Broderick into a single wooden chair in the room, facing another door on the opposite wall. They nodded and retreated to the shadowed corners behind Broderick. The silence of the chamber fell around them like a fog.
A standing brazier burned on Broderick’s right, crackling and hissing, casting the stone walls with flickering orange light, but not providing much illumination. Broderick winced as another breathtaking wave of fire coursed through his body. He gripped the arm rests, bracing against the agony, waiting for the pain to subside. This needs to end or I would go mad with the torture of this condition!
A bolt thrown back on the other side of the door jarred his body. More ripples of pain wound down his legs and curled his toes. A hooded figure stepped into the chamber. The door swung closed behind this person, and the bolt clanked once more, locking them in together. His body recovered as the stinging subsided, and Broderick breathed easy once more.
The figure faced him. “I know your condition may seem hopeless, but God can cure you of this blood affliction.”
Broderick stiffened and leaned forward to try and see her face under the cloak, but the brazier lent little aid to his eyes. “’Tis impossible,” he grunted through his teeth. “The voice I hear must be from the grave.”
The woman before him pushed back her hood to reveal…
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