Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Up and Coming: A Third Book in The Chronicles of Demetri Risk & Sneak Peek?

This morning I thought I'd share just a snippet of my upcoming book, The Sin Eater's Curse. It is the continuation of The Chronicles of Demetri Risk, and the third in the series.  Right now the plan is to make it a longer story, perhaps novella or even full-length, but who really knows. That could change once I really get into the story.

You're going to see some familiar characters. Of course, there's Demetri, Esmeralda, and Brosnan. I also plan to introduce Lady Scarlet Ashcroft in the flesh. She's a character I created sometime back just for a fun piece, and she's been mentioned in the past. She has really come to life in this book, and I think she may be sticking around for future ones.

There are quite a few changes that have happened between the end of The Succubus Within and The Sin Eater's Curse, and even more unexpected changes coming in the third installment. I decided to open the book with Nazi Germany, and portray the evils of a concentration camp. So, the book starts out a lot darker than Demon Night or The Succubus Within. In fact, it's going to be darker through-out, but I am really enjoying the writing process and seeing all the new places Demetri is visiting.

I hope you enjoy the snippet. Thanks for reading!

--Arwen

The Sin Eater's Curse

“Does it work? I will be forgiven?” The old man’s blue eyes widened but were barely visible in the dark room.

A shrouded priest poured wine into a goblet, as the old man leaned closer to him. His clasped his fingers until his knuckles turned white.

The priest sat the goblet onto the table in front of them beside a hand-dipped candle and nodded. “Yes. For everything. I will bear your sin, and you shall carry it no more.”

The old man smiled, and the folds around his cheeks sunk in. “For everything.” He took a deep breath, then exhaled in a low whistle. “I was sixteen, you know when they came to power. We were young and German. I wanted to make my fatherland proud. I only did my duty.”

The priest nodded and placed a small wafer into a copper charger. “Tell me more.” 

“I killed many. Although, how many I do not know. They came into camp by rail car. So many were already dead and stinking when they got there. The old and very young couldn’t make the trip. No food, no water, and the heat.” The man frowned. “I can still taste the stench.”

“More.” The priest sat down in front of him. Shadows danced against the priest’s face, but his dark eyes seemed to glow from beneath the hood.

The old man examined the priest’s eyes, and he swallowed hard. For a fleeting moment, fear flashed across the old man’s face, but as quickly as it had appeared it disappeared. 

“Continue.”

The old man nodded and coughed. “I had to clean the rail cars after they were sent into the camp. We loaded bodies into wagons and burned them. I wanted to burn them all. I hated them. Because of them, I had to leave my school, my home, my family. I lost so much.” He dabbed at the corner of his eye with a handkerchief.  “It was hard work, and the stink of it.” The old man shivered. “I couldn’t escape the smell of them, so I started drinking. One night after a particularly hot day, Ernst and I went to the bar.” He stared at his shaking hands.

The priest leaned forward. “Give me your hand. I want to see.” He pressed hard against the old man’s hand until his fingernails dug into his palm. The room spun around them. The old man closed his eyes fighting off the urge to vomit. When the motion stopped, he opened them. Shock filled his body as his memories unfolded.

Suddenly, the pair were in front of a bar. Two men in Nazi uniforms exited onto the street. 

Tears flowed down the old man’s face. “Why have you brought us here, priest? I don’t want to see anymore.”

The priest clutched the old man’s arm. “You have no choice. If I must live with what you’ve done, you can stand silent as the past unfolds.” He tightened his grip. “Understand.”

The old man nodded.

The young Nazi soldiers had stopped in front of the bar. The older of the pair lit a cigarette. He cast his companion a sideways glance. “Karl. You stink of Jew.”

The blond haired man sniffed his uniform. The unmistakable smell of fire clung to the fibers of his coat. “No, I don’t, Ernst. I smell faintly of smoke. That’s all. Perhaps a nice campfire.”

He shook his head. “You do. I can smell the train on you. You stink of it. No wonder we couldn’t get girls tonight.” Ernst took another drag.

Anger flashed across Karl’s face. He swung at his friend, and missed, falling to the ground.

Ernst laughed. His cigarette hung low from the corner of his mouth. “You’re drunk, and you stink.” He pulled Karl to his feet. “Let’s go.”

The pair stumbled down the dirt road that led back to the barracks, and past the epicenter of the concentration camp. A woman’s cries pierced the darkness and echoed across the road.

Ernst frowned. “Stupid woman. She’ll wake up the Commandant.”

“A Jew. What do you expect?” Karl spat in the dirt.

The woman screamed again.

Ernst unholstered his pistol and entered the camp. They followed the sound of her voice. 

The woman sat underneath a tree in the darkness, rocking back and forth. She held a small body in her arms. Another sob escaped her throat. “My baby.” Tears fell down her face, leaving muddy tracks.

Karl rushed to her side. “Shut up woman. You’ll wake the entire camp.”

She looked up at him. “My baby. She’s dead.”

Ernst kicked her, and she screamed. “Good. One less Jewess. I said shut up.” Ernst kicked her again, this time hard enough to knock the dead child from her arms.

The woman scrambled to pick up her baby. Karl kicked her in the back and she went flying face down into the dirt, her dress slid high on her thighs.

Ernst licked his lips. “What do you say, Karl?”

Karl nodded, and pointed his pistol at her head. “Don’t make a sound.”

The woman whimpered, as the men closed in on her, ripping her dress and satisfying their most primal needs. 

The woman lay still, but small groans escaped her throats. Her tear-stained voice, whispered, “You’re monsters.”

Karl straddled her waist, and shoved her head hard into the dirt. “I am not a monster!”

The woman spit in his face. “Yes, you are.”

His fingers curled around her neck and shook her side to side. “Say that again, Jew.”

She struggled beneath his weight, but didn’t have enough strength to free herself.

Karl pushed his thumbs into her neck, and she arched her back. He met her resistance with more force, pushing harder until her movements stopped and the small veins in her eyes burst. He stood up and buttoned his trousers.

Ernst laughed. “Stupid Jew. She should have shut up.” He kicked her body. “Guess we’ll need to throw them in the pit.”

Karl shrugged. “I guess.”

The men carried the woman and baby to the side of the death pit and tossed them in. They landed with a thud.

Karl laughed. “Guess who stinks of Jew now?”

The image faded from the priest’s mind. “Is there more?” He licked his lips.

“Yes. Much more.” Tears slid down the old man’s face. “I need forgiveness, Father.”

He patted the back of Karl’s hand. “It will be okay, my son. You shall have forgiveness.” He turned Karl’s hand over and started to carve a cross in the center of his hand with his long fingernail. Karl tried to pull away, but the man’s grip was too strong. “Relax. It will all be over soon.” 

Blood pulled in Karl’s hand and he whimpered.

The priest prayed over the cup and the bread, then slid the bread into his mouth. The room spun as the old man’s sins and memories filled his mind. The priest’s eyes grew darker, and his eye-teeth elongated. 

Momentarily, fear swept across Karl’s face, as the priest dug his teeth into his neck, and he tried to pull away.

The priest drunk his fill and Karl’s body crumpled to the floor.