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The Singer Elizabeth Hunter 2022/7/22 11:38:28

It was amazing how much was left after the fire. Brage kicked through the wreckage of the old wooden house in Beyoglu, following the muffled screams of the young scribe they had captured on the road out of G?reme.

He slid into the room that had been carved with protection spells. Useless now that the Irin fire was gone. Foolish Irin put too much stock in magic. Brage’s fingers trailed over the cryptic script of the Old Language that had been carved into the walls. It was a mystery to him, just as the Fallen intended.

Bitterness twisted his heart.

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Unlike the Irin fathers, Volund and the other angels did not share knowledge with their children. They didn’t trust them enough. Didn’t believe them worthy. After all, they were half-human. They were servants and soldiers, not true sons.

The young scribe before him was fair-skinned and dark-eyed. Handsome enough to human eyes, though not stunning as the Grigori were. The angelic blood had been tempered by time and distance. The Irin were mere shadows of their forefathers. But the mysterious script marked the young scribe’s arms and shoulders, though the glow of power was gone. Blood covered the young man’s chest and face. Pieces of his talesm were missing. Strips of skin had been gouged from his arms.

Brage’s brother handed him a flap of skin they had carved from the scribe’s left wrist.

“Talesm prim,” Brage said softly, kneeling beside the scribe who was tied to the chair.

The man looked at him with disgust, but Brage knew that he was growing weaker by the minute. These Irin could not last long without their magic. And by carving off the spells, the Grigori had neutralized the scribe’s only advantage.

“That’s what you call it, correct?” Brage held up the skin. “Your very first spell? The one that all the others draw from. Did they warn you about this? Or were they too arrogant?” He stood and shook his head, as if chastising a child. “They didn’t, did they? Your elders teach you that you are superior to us. Your magic,” he spat out. “It makes you so blessed. You are the favored of heaven. The weak Grigori with little magic have no power over you. But, of course, we do.”

Brage leaned down and brought his knife to the young man’s neck. He winced when the knife cut in and the blood welled around the wound. “Tell me where the Istanbul scribes are,” he murmured, “and I’ll kill you quickly.”

The scribe’s throat worked to respond. “No,” he choked out.

Brage slid the knife under the skin of the young man’s neck. It stretched and slowly stripped the flesh away as he screamed.

“Tell me,” Brage whispered.

It went on for hours, the slow interrogation. Brage was forced to revive the young man a number of times. By the fourth time he woke, the scribe’s eyes were swimming, and Brage knew he was delirious and close to breaking.

“This is not your battle, child.” He placed a cool cloth on the scribe’s bloody forehead, gave the man a sip of cool water. “You are one young Irin scribe. How old are you?”

“See?” Brage said. “You are practically a child. You are alone. Tell me where they are. Let them fight. They are armed and strong, with their brothers at their sides. They will not condemn you for telling me.”

Tears slipped down the young man’s cheeks, making paths in the crusted blood and sweat.

“Vienna,” he finally choked out. “Th…they were driving to Vienna.”

Brage let out a breath and sat back on his heels. Of all the cities they could go to, Vienna was the one that Volund had forbidden. The Irin were too strong in that city. And making an appearance in the heart of the Irin power structure would alert too many people that Volund wanted lulled into complacency.

He stood and walked behind the bleeding man. Half the skin of his upper body was gone, and he was barely recognizable. Brage could feel the eager bloodlust of his brothers, but he had made a promise. And he did not break his promises.

The young scribe was weeping when Brage put the blade to his spine and drove it in.

He walked away as the gold dust rose behind him.

They were going to Vienna—

He stopped and smiled at the realization. No, they were driving to Vienna.

Driving to Vienna would lead them through several cities where the Grigori presence was strong. Though that heretic, Kostas, ran Sofia, more friendly elements made their home in Budapest. Svarog was a powerful angel, and his children were numerous, but the angel had friendly relations with Brage’s father. A well-timed visit might be in order.

He made his way from the scribe room and to the bathroom on the second floor.

“New clothes,” he said to the soldier guarding the door.

Brage took a quick shower, careful to wash the blood from his pale hair. He needed to feed, and a human woman would most likely be put off by blood.

Or possibly not. Some humans were delightfully perverse.

Smiling, he dressed in the immaculate clothes his brother had laid out for him, then he left the house and found his way into the night crowds of Beyoglu. It was nothing to the rowdy atmosphere of Amsterdam or Berlin, but it would do. All he needed to find was a human woman who wanted the company of a good-looking man for the night. A tourist, he decided. Someone with a clean, comfortable hotel room where he could rest after he fucked her into unconsciousness and fed his ancient soul hunger.

Brage was more than capable of giving a woman an unforgettable night. He was old enough that he didn’t need to draw much energy for his hunger to be fed.

Perhaps, if she survived, he would give her an unforgettable morning, too.

It was the least he could do.