The Blood Lure

By: Peter Meredith

The Hidden Land Book 1



Chapter 1





Gada





A song ran through his head. One that would never been guessed at by the people scurrying past the shamble of a man.

The soaring words of poetry soothed him. It kept his mind off the echo of clashing metal. It kept him from dwelling on the blood and the hacking blades that constantly crept in. There in his mind sang the wonderful pure voice of Ilenwyth-Eden. So easily she swung through octaves and hit notes that seemed created to sooth a chaotic soul.

Gada, squatting on the steps of an apartment building arrayed in his rags, needed the calm. The world could be falling down about him, but it was that inner calm that he needed in order to feel the air around him—to breathe it in—to know, to sense.

With late afternoon coming on, the Seattle street could boast only a few individuals treading its walks and Gada found it easy to let his perception range over the people coming and going. He'd been there for two hours already. The trail of the fey, light as it was, had crossed this street twice before the rains had come. The downpour had washed away all trace of the scent and now Gada was stuck hoping for a break. He didn't like waiting. Gada wasn't built for it.

His mind was too restless and his body too keyed up with unbounded energy. He felt like a thoroughbred forced to sit in a stall with a race under way. He rolled his wide shoulders and closed his eyes for a moment to force his mind back to the task at hand.

"Time to...breathe the sky..." he sang low, watching a slender girl shake out her umbrella as she walked. Was it just that she was so pretty that his eyes went to her? Or was there more to her? Maybe. She came closer and he felt the light vibrations of her steps run through the pavement, heard the soft clack of her heels, caught the scent of perfume and gentle perspiration, and took in the visual beauty of the girl moving toward him with an unhurried pace.

She was young, eighteen he judged, and more than a bit innocent. The girl had no idea the violence he was capable of. She should have crossed over the street and passed him by with more distance between them. Most everyone else did—when they took the time to even notice him.

Despite her youth she carried herself with a grace few could match outside the Hidden Lands.

Was she the one?

In Gada's left hand was a cracked teacup; to announce himself he rattled the two quarters sitting in the bottom of it. Only then did she seem to notice him—her mind was in another world. This too was a bad sign. How many pretty girls such as her would be so unaware of a tattered, dirty bum squatting so close? From beneath his matted hair his steel-grey eyes took in her every detail as she jumped a little in surprise.

"Oh! Sorry. I didn't see you there," she said, now taking a step back. Her features—high cheekbones, narrow face, slim nose, and startling blue eyes were too close to what he was looking for, however she stood too tall for a female; just a hair over five-and-a-half feet. Not only that her ears were small and softly curved. But then again, her skin was too smooth and flawless; her teeth too white and perfect. And she was older than he first judged; though what her age was he couldn't tell.

Was this really the one he had hunted out of the mountains? He honestly didn't know and that was strange and curious. There was much about the girl that was curious.

She stuck a hand in her purse for a second, fishing about, but it came away empty. "I'm so sorry, but I left all my cash at home. Look, I'll get you tomorrow. I promise."

Unbelievably she wasn't lying. Her eyes were clear of falsehood. She actually planned on bringing money for him the next day! Normal humans were only rarely like this, another strike against her. Gada felt his disappointment mount. If this was the person he was searching for, she would be too easy. He nearly sighed, which would have been out of place. Instead he shot a hand out and grabbed her slim wrist in a gentle, iron grip. The delicate bones beneath her smooth skin were closer to a bird's than a human's.

"Where are you from?" he asked, drawing her close, breathing her in deeply. Her scent was a unique confusion. Light perfume, her own healthy musk, and something more. There was something to her—yet she was definitely human. So very strange.

Mystified at his words and actions, she took a moment to answer. She leaned back and eyed him with curiosity rather than alarm.

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