Chapter 02 sneak preview of my current work-in-progress:
Merla – Prequel of the Demon Born Series (paranormal romance).
© Alyssia Leon 2018
One of the most darling crafts I’ve come across is amigurumi. It’s the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed dolls (‘ami’ in Japanese means ‘crocheted or knitted’ and ’nuigurumi’ means stuffed doll).
I’m a sucker for all things cute, so I’m always fawning over images of these tiny critters on the web. But alas, I’m all thumbs with a crotchet hook at the moment, and it’ll take a ton of practice before my trial dolls stop looking like squished tomatoes. But one day… one day I’ll surprise you all with my very own dolly creation.
In the meantime, all you awesome needle-peeps out there might like to check out this cutie:
The pattern is a free download from lovecrochet.com (I’m not an affiliate).
And also enjoy the next chapter of ‘Merla’ while you’re crocheting 🙂
“Fifth rabbit today,” Kurt said. “Looks like the makings of another tasty stew.”
Renzo’s eyes narrowed on the skinny grey carcass lying between the beech trees. He was still far from where his trap had stood, but even from this distance it was easy to tell what had happened.
He raised his head and felt the energy vibrations in the forest air. Silver wolf. Its essence lingered everywhere like it had around the previous four destroyed traps. Renzo bared his teeth in murderous fury. That damn wolf had given him the runaround for three days now, always staying one step ahead, somehow breaking his magic, and then blatantly toying with him by leaving dead rabbits in its wake. But enough was enough. That silver bastard was about to die a twisted and excruciating death. And teeth gritted in determination, he stalked towards the beech trees.
His men hastened their steps to keep up with him but remained oblivious to his rage.
“It’s been nothing but rabbit stew for three days,” Boris complained. “There’s a limit to how many of the skinny buggers a self-respecting daemon can eat.”
Kurt hefted his rifle and gave Boris a haughty look. “I don’t know about daemons, but for us humans, rabbit’s as good a meat as any. It’s a tad lacking in fat is all.”
“You wouldn’t know good food if it bit you on the arse,” Boris muttered. “Why can’t them werewolves catch a wild turkey or a boar for a change? There’s plenty of those critters in this damn forest.”
“Maybe you should ask… nicely,” Kurt said, smirking.
But Boris looked thoughtful. “You mean pin a note to the tree or something? Think it’ll work? Think we’ll get something better than rabbit next time?”
That did it. Renzo’s rage flamed blue around his hand, and in one savage throw he hurled a fireball straight at the rabbit. It exploded with a bang that startled the birds from the trees and left a smoking black patch on the ground. “There will be no ‘next time’,” he growled.
Boris took a hasty step back. “Right you are m’lord.”
“Four rabbits for the stew then,” Kurt murmured, also keeping a respectful distance.
Renzo approached the tree where he’d anchored the trap. Werewolves didn’t deal in magic, and yet this particular wolf had not only seen his invisible trap but had also worked out exactly which thread to cut in it. How the hell was that even possible? Only another daemon lord could challenge his power like this, and even then the challenge wouldn’t get too far. But here was a magicless werewolf, besting him every time.
“So… uh… you think he might still be around here?” Boris asked tentatively.
“Who?” Renzo snapped.
“The silver one…” Boris’s voice faded into silence.
The silver devil. Renzo cast his gaze around the surrounding forest, but only a faint echo of the silver wolf’s essence lingered. The bastard had either run away or was extremely skilled at hiding. “If he values his skin, he won’t stick around,” Renzo muttered and set about dismantling the remains of his trap. The silver wolf may know how to break the traps, but the creature had no clue how to clean up the magic completely. Renzo frowned as he worked. It would take half a day to set a new trap, but set one he would. And this one would have the silver devil’s name written all over it.
“Them werewolves sure are tricky bastards,” Boris mused as he and Kurt waited for Renzo. “Not a track anywhere. You wouldn’t even know one had been here.”
Kurt frowned. “What do you know about animal tracks? How many werewolves did you track in the city? None, I bet.”
“All right then, Mr know-it. Find me a track now. Even one if you can.”
Kurt slung his rifle over his shoulder and hunkered down to the ground. “All animals leave tracks. And I’m guessing a werewolf ain’t much different from any other wolf, only bigger.” He searched a while over the forest floor but didn’t seem to be finding anything.
“You won’t find it,” Renzo said, cutting Kurt’s troubles short. “You’d have to be another werewolf to see the tracks, or else you have to track them through magical sense.”
“That how you do it, boss?” Kurt asked, straightening.
Renzo nodded as he wound up another strand of loose magic. Of the three of them, Kurt was the only one with any experience of forests and tracking. He’d spent a lonely life moving from forest to forest, making it his hearth and home, and hiding from other magicless humans. It was only now at almost forty years old that Kurt had come across magic of any kind or even realized the existence of daemons and other supernaturals. The man was brave though, and damn loyal. It was the reason Renzo had taken him in and given him a proper home.
“I can barely get a whiff of werewolves magically,” Boris said, his hands glowing with the faint light of his weaker daemon magic. “But I’ve still enough juice in me to knock a couple of them out if needed.”
“Ain’t nothing magic can do that a well-aimed gun can’t,” Kurt said.
“You got silver bullets?” Renzo asked.
Kurt jiggled his rifle. “Like you said.”
“Good.” Renzo turned back to the remains of the trap. Silver was the only type of bullet guaranteed to stop a werewolf. It wouldn’t kill the creature, but it would put him out of action for a week at least. But one sure way to kill a supernatural was to cut off his head so he couldn’t heal or regenerate. Which was exactly what his next trap would do. He stepped back and regarded the last threads of magic floating between the trees. The picture rose in his mind of the silver wolf caught in his new trap. That would be the day. He’d watch the bastard struggle and gasp for life, and then when it was almost over, the trap would close, and boom, instant decapitation.
“We never had this trouble in the city, eh m’lord?” Boris said, cutting into Renzo’s sweet thoughts of revenge.
Renzo blinked. “No… no, we didn’t.” And he returned to cleaning up the magic.
“We had werewolves in the city, all right,” Boris continued to Kurt. “But they were… how d’you put it? Civilized. They didn’t sneak onto your property in the middle of the night and squat in it like it belonged to them.”
Kurt laughed. “That’s par for the course in this here countryside. We’ve squatters coming out the wazoo here. Damn, even I was one at times. You find ‘em. You chase ‘em off. Simple.”
But when you were dealing with werewolves, it wasn’t so simple. Renzo glanced around the forest again but picked up no movement or sense of wolf anywhere. The forest was peaceful in the bright evening sunshine, cheerful even. Though for someone who had until a month ago spent every day of his life in the heart of a sprawling city, the forest was still a stifling green coffin.
Anger at the direction his life had taken rose, and Renzo clenched his jaw. At twenty-four years of age, he should have been living it up like his cousins in the midst of daemon royalty in London. Instead, some distant uncle had decided to kick the bucket, and Renzo had inherited a mammoth manor house in the middle of nowhere surrounded by its even more immense forest.
Sure, the title and vast fortune that came with being ‘Lord of Fairfall’ was some consolation, but it didn’t make the place any less tedious. Other than the manor house and the forest, the only talking point Fairfall had was a ragtag collection of houses that called itself a town, and its equally ragtag population of crabby witches and mages. Renzo scowled. His daily job as ‘Lord’ consisted of settling disputes about whose spell had jinxed whom and suffering the endless love potions the young witches kept slipping into his drinks. The silly little fools didn’t even realize that as a high-level daemon he was impervious to their weak witchcraft. But now every beer, wine, and even coffee he drank was as bitter as iron because of the potions sneaked into them. He’d been reduced to drinking plain water this past week, and it hadn’t helped his temper when an entire pack of werewolves had crept into his forest three days ago and set up home.
The last magic thread floated like blue smoke in the exact middle between the trees, and Renzo reached for it. But a new sense made him pause just as his fingers touched the thread. He glanced down. His black boots were planted in the centre of the scorched circle created when he’d blasted the rabbit. The circle was empty though. Even the grass had burned to a crisp, leaving only darkened soil. But an essence of something delicate crept into his awareness from the burnt forest floor. He snapped the magic thread and crouched down to examine the ground.
“Everything all right, boss?” Kurt asked from behind.
“I sense something,” Renzo murmured, running his fingers over the blackened soil. Images popped into his mind, and he frowned. Silver wolf… Its coat a beautiful white tipped with silver, and its eyes an unearthly pale blue.
He’d seen the wolf once before when he and his men had arrived at a broken trap before the creature had had time to run away. He should have killed it then but had stood staring into those blue eyes instead, mesmerized. Werewolves in their wolf form didn’t have blue eyes. Alpha eyes were red. Beta eyes were yellow. Blue was unheard of. What exactly was this creature that could dismantle his magic and whose eyes shone like the winter sky?
Renzo studied his black-stained fingers. The silver wolf’s essence was still faint as if some time had passed since the creature had stood in this spot. But another essence rose to the top. One that made him feel…
He turned to Kurt and Boris who were watching him expectantly. “Take a walk around the area,” he said. “Our friend may have got careless and left a track or two after all. I’ll meet you back at the manor later.”
“Right, m’lord,” Boris said, and he and Kurt strolled away from the beech trees.
Renzo turned back to the new essence on the ground. It was more recent than the wolf’s, and it was female.
He brought his stained fingertips close to his nose. A subtle but heady scent of honeysuckle that could only be picked up by his magical senses wafted through his mind. Honeysuckle mixed with something so deliciously feminine that his blood near boiled with desire.
A surprised growl escaped him. What the hell was this? It had been a month since he’d had any female company. Was he so desperate now that he was sensing females willy-nilly in the forest?
It wasn’t a werewolf. That was certain. Werewolves, like daemons and vampires, were male. And it wasn’t any of those silly witches from the town either. They were human, and this scent was far from human. Could it be a succubus? But succubi wouldn’t be caught dead out here alone in a forest. They preferred the city where the lights were bright and the men were rich and powerful. He scented his fingers again. No, not a succubus… What then? Frowning, he stood up and looked around.
To be continued next week…