Chapter 5. (Thorns of the Shadow: Blood, Blades, and Bacon)

Water lapped gently against the prow of the boat as it glided through silver waters. It had been a long journey but it was nearing its intended shore. People crisscrossed the deck agitatedly, anxious to be back on dry land after their long confinement.

One man stood alone against the railing. He stared at the water below as though in a trance. His skin was a dark black and he wore a leather jacket that looked to have been patched many times. He tore his eyes from the sea to look at his phone. A callous finger tapped the screen a few times and he raised it to his ear.

“We’re due to dock within the hour,” he said with a faint African accent. “Do you have confirmation of his location?”

“The bad blood has moved north,” answered the voice through the phone. The accent was thicker in the speaker and the voice was of someone much older. “Be cautious, Arteeru. It would seem that our quarry has joined forces with the black witch. This complicates your mission. I would advise you to coordinate your efforts with local groups.”

Arteeru showed no reaction to the information. “No need. Part of our creed is to not involve others in our redemptions. I have the situation in hand.”

The line was silent for a moment. “I have word that Déaþscúa may be in the area too. There is a good chance that your paths may cross.”


The phone call ended. Arteeru placed the phone back into his pocket and returned his gaze to the water. His hand idly stroked a long scar across his throat. He had always found the waves peaceful. They reminded him of happier times.

Land was visible on the horizon now. Arteeru grabbed a duffle-bag from the deck beside him. He paused for a moment then took a white rose from the inside pocket of his jacket. The flower was starting to wilt but it was the last of many that he had brought with him. He held it out and dropped it into the water where it floated like a pale face in the dark abyss.

Shouldering the bag, he turned from the railing and made his way down to the cargo hold. His feet were drawn to a large, covered object that stood alone. The object beneath the cover seemed to call to him. He pulled off the sheet to reveal a sleek black motorcycle. He ran a hand along its surface then sat down on the leather seat.

“Come, Darian. We have tainted blood to spill. An arrogant fool who would use our curse to kill others for his own amusement. We must be redeemed.”

The bike roared as the engine came to life. Arteeru smiled grimly at the sound, canine-like teeth glittering in the glow of the headlight.

Previous – Chapter 4.

Next – Chapter 6.

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