Heartbreaker comes out September 2020. I hope you enjoy!
The blood-red door slammed shut as the first Reigner traded their heart away. The usual cool weather plummeted to a frigid chill. Damien frowned, crossing his arms over his chest as the crowd buzzed around him, thick with anticipation and desire. Something wasn’t right.
"You, stupid humans!" the vendor, Schism Breaker, laughed as his fingers elongated into midnight claws. His skin stretched as his limbs transformed; a horrid creature with red eyes and decrepit wings soon took the place of the beloved vendor. "It's time for a new reign in this dismal realm."
Before anyone could react, Schism attacked. Bodies flew through the air, striking buildings and crashing limp onto the cobblestone streets. The crowd exploded into screams of terror and panic, scattering away from the popular vendor.
Damien’s arms fell limp as he stepped back, but his mind was clear. He knew something like this would happen. Turning to his lady on his right, he placed a hand on her cheek, his forehead touching hers before he whispered, “Run.”
With her eyes wide with fear, she threw her thin arms around his neck, squeezing him tight before sprinting away from the chaos. Damien ran behind her, glancing over his shoulder to make sure the creatures stayed away until she was far from the market. Relief lifted Damien’s shoulders as her Small form disappeared between the trees, safe from the slaughter.
The cracking of bones snapped his attention back to the market and he rushed to the blacksmith forge, knowing Gladio had weapons somewhere. Every spring he would visit the old blacksmith to buy a new dagger for his collection.
Streams of people swarmed around him, screaming and pointing in horror. Damien stopped and turned. This time he did panic. The odor of decaying flesh filled the air as a flood of sickly-looking beasts poured through the red doors. Their elongated limbs and gray skin were grotesque, but the moans coming from their sewn lips made Damien’s knees weak. Bile rose to the back of his throat as they ingested the blood of people. His people.
Forcing himself to move faster, Damien pushed the terrified citizens of Barracks out of the way, commanding them to hide or escape into Wintertide.
Jumping over the fallen displays of the once-jovial festival, he arrived at the forge. Damien froze as he saw the blacksmith’s apprentice, Silas, bending over Gladio’s portly body. The blacksmith’s vibrant olive-tone flesh was dull and lifeless.
“What happened to him?” Damien gasped, barreling toward the apprentice.
Silas stared back at Damien, his face blank, but his eyes dilated, filling with horror. “I—” he began before sprinting out of the forge.
“Wait!” Damien cried, reaching out, trying to stop the apprentice. “Wait, I need your—”
Silas’s blond locks disappeared among the chaos and Damien lowered his hand. It was too late. He was already gone.
Fury boiled in Damien’s chest as he turned back to the deceased blacksmith. He closed Gladio’s eyes then covered him in a canvas. Anger churned his stomach as Damien ran to the opposite end of the forge. How could his apprentice leave the kind blacksmith in such a dishonorable way? His eyes landed on a wall of gleaming knives. The apprentice may be a coward, but he, Damien, would fight for his people.
Grabbing as many as he could, Damien armed his body with every knife he could find. The screams of the massacre outside sent his hands in a fury as he strapped the knives onto his belt and held a different dagger in each hand.
Rushing out of the forge, Damien sprinted through the streets, the metallic stench of blood weighing heavily in the icy air. Grasping a knife in each hand, Damien lunged at the gray creature chasing young Willy Travis. The poor child was only seven.
He stabbed each knife in a different location, retracted them, then tried a knife in the creature’s head and stomach until the beast’s limbs went limp and it fell forward, squashing little Willy. Damien’s chest heaved as he pulled Willy out from beneath the monster. Thankfully, the boy had nothing more than a few scratches.
“Run to Wintertide and hide,” Damien commanded.
With wide eyes and tear-stained cheeks, Willy nodded and took off.
Deep moans ricocheted off the broken displays as the creatures preyed upon the people of his home. But the weakness Damien felt before was gone, a cool, burning rage replacing it. He wouldn’t allow these monsters to kill the people who had helped him when his father wouldn’t. Though it had taken him several tries to kill one beast, he was ready to destroy the rest.
With a cry, Damien ran toward the center of the market, daggers still in each hand, and tackled the first monster he saw. He pierced the knives anywhere he saw gray skin. Sweat dripped from his brow, and his arms strained after multiple strikes, but he continued from one creature to the next.
Grabbing one of the knives on his belt, Damien flung it at a monster pulling Old Man Chank through the crowd. The bronze hilt protruded from between the soulless black eyes of the creature and it crumpled to the ground. Old Man Chank almost fainted but was caught by Chandra Dunkis, one of the seamstresses from the market. The two scrambled toward the white birch trees of Wintertide.
Wiping the sweat from his forehead, Damien narrowed his eyes as he scanned the chaos. Though the monsters were attacking many people, there were some that they were didn’t kill. Damien’s heart fell to his stomach as the headmaster was pulled by his legs by two monsters. What did they want with him?
Damien turned, ready to stab the next creature trying to kill or capture, when his eyes landed on an angel in the chaos. Blonde hair flowed from her head as she glided through the horrific battle.
“What do we have here?” Her voice danced over him like freshly fallen snow. She lifted a hand, and the monster to his right ceased its attack. “A hero among the cowards?”
“I’m no hero,” Damien replied, taking in the curvaceous physique of the woman before his eyes shifted between her and the monster, noting that it was the beautiful woman who had stopped the creature from attacking him.
“If you’re not a hero, then what are you?” She smiled sensuously at him, her lips as red as the blood staining the ground.
Damien had seen such a look many times before. He had not been swayed by it then, and he certainly wouldn’t be swayed by it now.
“Nothing you would like, madam.” He held his knives pointedly at the woman, suddenly thankful for all those hours of lessons.
The woman let out a sultry laugh, sending Damien’s nerves on end. Yes, his judgment about this one had been correct.
The woman stroked the yellow stone on her necklace, a staticky sound popping from the jewel, before she pointed her slender finger at him. An electric-blue light zinged through her skin at his body. He held his stance and smirked when nothing happened.
“Interesting,” the woman mused, studying her fingertips. “I can’t harm you.”
“Don’t you hate it when that happens?”
The woman pursed her lips. The playful tone of her voice fleeing as she tapped her small chin. “There must be something else.”
Her eyes darted behind Damien and a vicious grin split her face. With a flick of her wrist, a group of monsters groaned before sprinting away. Damien tried to follow when his legs were swept out from under him. Groaning, he quickly spun over his shoulder and lodged his dagger in the face of the creature trying to stop him. It hissed as black blood dripped from its wound on to Damien’s face. Damien threw the monster off of him and got back up, only to be hit by more creatures.
Damien stabbed and punched as many as he could, but they kept coming. His eyes searched for the other group of monsters that had gotten away. He had to stop the beasts. He couldn’t let the creatures find them.
With a yell, Damien simultaneously pierced two monsters in the back of the head before breaking free of the pack. His feet flew across the snowy ground, trying to catch up with the first group of monsters, but it was too late. The woman pointed the creatures straight toward the direction of the people he valued most dear. High-pitched screams echoed against the gray clouds and Damien fell to his knees, allowing the monsters to pile on top of him. He sobbed as the creatures killed them, one by one. And he would be next.