The women in her head agreed. He wasn’t descended from the Elders. He’d existed before they’d come through the portal to Earth. The first Bloodmaiden knew him then. Her voice echoed in Amy’s mind. “We only thought he was a mercenary, but when the gilfangs of Korandur’s Deep crawled up to the surface, it became obvious that he was more than simply a man. He didn’t wear his current shape then, but he liked those swords.”
The other Bloodmaidens whispered, and Amy caught glimpses of their memories. Whatever he was, he was dangerous and so powerfully magical that he didn’t even appear to be connected to magic.
In his favor, he terrified the Harcourts. This was someone she needed to know better. Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 11
They walked back to the gyrocopter landing area hand in hand. She wasn’t precisely sure how that had happened. Their hands had bumped a couple times, and then, if she was honest with herself, she had to admit that she’d taken his hand. On the other hand, he didn’t have to walk next to her, and she was fairly sure that he’d bumped her hand first. So, they’d had the same mutually bad idea.
And it was a bad idea. She was literally leaving tomorrow, possibly for ten years. Plus, if everything went well, and her parents brought her home next year… Well, if any hint of this reached the tabloids, it would be the royal scandal of the season. Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 10
Nick glanced back toward the lake. “What’s the Bloodlords’ Guard?”
Amy pulled her arms to her chest and looked him in the eye. “You know that there’s the old line of Bloodmaidens and the new one.”
“The Bloodlords’ Council advised the emperor in the bad old days, and after the last of the old line killed the royal family, it became the Lords’ Council—officially. It’s still the same families. They’re the most powerful users of blood magic. The Guard never changed their name, and it’s loyal to the Council. It’s officially loyal to our family too as we’re members of the Council, but we bring our own guards to sessions. We know where their loyalty lies.
“I knew they were nervous about me, but I thought the Harcourts were their only agents.”
Nick stared at her. “You knew that and you’re still traveling with them?” Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 9
The man pointed his revolver at them, saying, “Don’t move!”
In the time that it took him to speak, four men had stepped away from the group, all of them in dark suits, all of them pulling pistols out from under their jackets.
A woman standing near them covered her mouth with her hand while the man holding her other hand said, “God in heaven!”
Next to Amy, Nick barely moved his mouth, saying, “This isn’t as bad as it looks–”
But she barely listened. The sound of wailing voices filled her head. They shrieked danger and told her to change and to do it now. She didn’t hesitate. She let the voices have their way. The shrill screaming turned to music, and red light surrounded her as her limbs felt lighter. Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 8
Amy shouted back, “I’ve never been to New Amsterdam before. If it’s not in a penny dreadful, I’ve never heard of it.”
Barely understandable between the wind and the gyrocopter’s blades, Nick shouted, “Right! Penny dreadfuls!”
The propeller behind the passenger compartment roared and the gyrocopter flew upward, leaving the area above the street, and reaching an altitude higher than most of the buildings.
Avoiding the factories’ billowing smokestacks, Nick flew the gyrocopter across the city until they reached a wide green area. A lake stood in the middle of it, but the land around it was large enough that the lake didn’t dominate the place. Amy guessed that the land could hold several small towns.
Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 7
“Somewhere that’s not in the building?” Nicholas frowned, and glanced around the room.
Amy nodded. “I’d feel safer.”
Nicholas paused, but then said, “Well, at least you’re dressed for it. Have you ever ridden in a gyrocopter before? It’s a little cold.”
She hadn’t taken off her overcoat. If that counted as “dressed for it,” she was. “Don’t people wear goggles on those things?”
He shrugged. “We’ve got goggles, but you’ll have to leave your hat.”
She turned back toward the stairway. “It’s just a hat. Which way?” Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 6
Nicholas’ eyes darted over toward the table where his grandfather had opened a bottle of wine. “Uh… Let’s start walking.”
He pointed toward the nearest doorway. Amy raised an eyebrow, and they walked past a metal shelf that was covered with gears and a machine whose purpose Amy couldn’t even guess at.
When they reached the stairway, Nicholas said, “That way. I’ll show you the way up.”
The stairway wasn’t much. Only wide enough for one person to walk, the stairs were worn brown tile, accompanied by cracked, white plaster walls.
“You know,” Amy said, following him up, “if they were listening, leaving the room won’t make them less suspicious.” Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 5
Flame burst from the twin rockets on the boy’s backpack, and the boy flew upward toward the mooring mast. Then, lowering himself to the building and landing next to the mast, he stepped behind a metal cabinet.
The airship moved closer to the mast, and when it was close enough that Amy wondered if the nose would hit, the mooring mast bent and extended toward the nose of the airship.
Amy didn’t see it, but she heard a metallic clank, and felt the airship stop moving forward. It hadn’t been moving much. She barely felt it, but she felt something. Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 4
Amy smiled as her father laughed at the man’s joke, and hoped he meant what he’d implied–that this was as much for them as for her, and that it was a stroke of luck that left her with protection, and them with a good hiding place.
Except her father ran the empire’s intelligence as well as the military, and he’d taught her and all of her siblings about politics. If she’d retained anything from that, she’d learned not to let the details distract her from the big picture. As much as the Harcourts might say that they were her bodyguards, the possibility that they were her assassins fit just as well.
“Well,” Mr. Harcourt said, “I’m sure you’ll want to say your goodbyes privately. We’ll see you inside.” Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 3
They knew. They’d been told during their first magic lesson. Amy remembered their tutor’s scowl as he caught her looking away toward the stables. “Now Amelia, you may not think this applies to you, but it applies to even the most modest practitioner, and not just to the Bloodmaiden. When we work with blood, we work with a being’s essence. The challenge is to separate out that portion of the essence we need. The last Bloodmaiden of the original lineage failed to do so, forever mingling her essence with that of her subject’s–thus your line’s ascension to power.”
Amy banished the memory. Their father looked from one to the other of them before meeting Amy’s eyes. “Amy, understand that we will bring you back as soon as it’s politically possible. That may be years. Some of the lords remember the Bloodmaiden Hildagar all too well, and especially how she hunted down the royal family.” Continue reading Bloodmaiden: Part 2