Scourge of the Lilitu mood board
What's it about?
With everything she knows and loves in shambles, Rio finds herself on the run from Kaien’s old friends known as the Council of Ancients. Lead by twin Lilitu, King Amun and Queen Amunet, the council has decreed that Rio must face the consequences of her actions.
To make matters worse, she’s gotten the attention of an archaic order of monks with a mission to rid the world of all non-human entities.
With Mia by her side, and a small team of unlikely allies, Rio must fight not only for her own life, but for the fate of all her kind.
Excerpt from the book
The next evening, we found ourselves on a two-hour ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan, Scotland. Our spell had indicated that was the next place Lucinda Barlow had traveled after fleeing Ireland. We stood on the ferry deck, Mia puffing a cigarette as I stared out into the sea.
“How far do you think she ran?” I pulled my blue jacket tighter around my waist and turned towards Mia. “It’s been thirteen years. Do you think she’s still running from him?”
Mia snorted. “If the witch is smart, she’ll never stop moving.”
Our ferry jostled as it slid into port and the ferrymen lowered the bridge to let all vehicles out. Once on solid ground, Mia drove us deeper into the city, parking in the semi-empty lot of an abandoned grocery store. She unbuckled her seatbelt and turned to face me.
“We’ll need to find shelter before sunrise.” She glanced out the window. “It looks like we have an hour, maybe two.”
“Why not here?” I gestured to the abandoned structure in front of us.
Mia sneered. She nodded her head towards the two other cars in the lot and sniffed the air. “I smell at least five inside. Unwashed. I’d rather stay somewhere a little more comfortable where the food is…” She sniffed the air again and grimaced. “Fresher.”
I laughed. “Okay, so what are we doing here?”
“Leaving the car,” she said, stepping out into the brisk night.
I followed her, enjoying the misty air on my skin. Following a deep breath to take it in, I gagged. Mia wasn’t wrong about the rankness inside of the grocery. When my coughing subsided, I pressed the back of my wrist to my nose as we moved away.
Mia looped a bag around my neck to hang on my shoulders and she hoisted her own from the car trunk before urging me forward. “It’ll be easier to find lodging on foot,” she said, smiling at me and looping her arm through my own. “Plus, we can always steal another on our way out.”
And so we walked, leaving the borrowed car to be found and stripped by ne’er-do-wells. The Village of Cairnryan, as one prominent street sign welcomed us, appeared more a city than a village. With new industrial roads leading further into the town, old factories still puffing out black smoke, and even older houses lining the road, Cairnryan easily charmed me. It held a mixture of modern industry and old world mysticism that I found to be of great intrigue.
“Like you,” Mia said, nudging me with her shoulder.
I glanced over at her as a car’s bright headlights washed over us. “What is?”
She grinned. “You. You’re young, but Kaien raised you in a village stuck in the nineteenth century. It’s as though you’re made of two times.” She furrowed her brow. “In fact, I guess we all are.”
I shrugged. Of course, I agreed with her. All of Kaien’s children came from a different time, yet we all managed to thrive in this century with little struggle. At least, we’d managed before Sapphora came to rip it all away and drenched Kaien’s legacy in his own blood.
A shuffling sound caught my ear. My hand clamped onto Mia’s wrist as I pressed the other to her lips. My breath caught in my chest. “Did you hear that?”
Mia glanced around the almost empty alley we’d wandered into. The dim, yellow street lamps barely illuminated twenty feet around us. She sniffed the air. “I only smell the squirrels.” She paused, sniffed again. “And rain. Let’s keep moving.”
After taking a whiff of my own, I conceded and we continued walking, albeit with lighter steps. Moments passed with just the sound of our footsteps against the pavement echoing off of the surrounding homes and getting muffled in the trees. Then a chill touched my skin.
My flesh tingled as little bumps prickled to announce the standing hair on my arms. I slowed my steps. A shadow moved to my right. Then another to my left. With no time to explain, I pulled Mia to the ground just as something sharp whirred over our heads.
As we landed, Mia rolled over, pulling herself on top of me.
“Squirrels don’t shoot arrows,” I muttered before pushing her upward.
She jumped into a crouching position and, as I rolled onto my stomach, she grabbed my arm and sped us both to a hiding space behind two parked cars in front of a darkened house. “Where are they?” she whispered.
“Who are they?” I replied.
We pressed our backs to one of the cars, with Mia turning to look in the direction the arrows had originated every few seconds. “I don’t know,” she puffed. “No one’s supposed to know we’re here.”
Another arrow flew in our direction. Mia ducked in time for it to lodge itself into the house wall behind us.
Just as we prepared to speed away, someone emerged from the darkness beside the house. Their face hid beneath a dark, gray cloak, and they reeked of squirrel, dirt, and trees. Another appeared to our right, and yet another to our left.
We had no choice but to speed out towards the archer. We stopped at the sound of at least ten arrows flying through the dark and we veered aside, Mia going left while I sped to the right.
My head prickled and I could feel Mia trying to call out to me, but something blocked it. A throbbing pain surged in its place and I stumbled. At that moment, a scimitar flashed under the street lamp, aiming to split me down the middle.
I leapt back as the rush of wind brushed my nose, and dodged to the side as the swordsman swiped again, this time aiming to cross my midsection. With my feet back under me, I sped behind the attacker and grabbed his shoulders. Up close, I smelled the human blood flowing beneath the stench of rodent. My fangs lengthened as I widened my mouth and pulled him towards me.
Without hesitation, the swordsman swiped backwards, catching the fabric of my jacket as I slid out of the way. Somewhere down the alley, I could hear a woman scream as the scent of blood filled the air. The swordsman swung again, turning to add power to his thrust.
I dropped to kneel and kicked towards his shin, sweeping my leg across to force his knees to bend in a way they never had.
The swordsman dropped, his scimitar sliding across the alley, and the cloak’s hood fell back, revealing a woman’s face underneath. She had to be no younger than forty. She glared at me from under golden lashes, her face red with rage.
“Who are you?” I growled while straddling her to the ground.
She responded in a language I had no familiarity with and, before I could sink my teeth into her and find my answers that way, an arrow cracked through her skull.
I leapt up and sped back towards Mia. Women screamed as Mia ripped into two more of the cloaked attackers and someone yelled, “Devemos recuar!”
The ones who’d run at me and those closing in on Mia dropped back into the shadows, disappearing almost as abruptly as they’d come. Without waiting for a resurgence, I sped to Mia, grabbing her hand along the way, and we didn’t stop running until the first hint of sunrise.
We stopped outside of an old bank with an abandoned flat as its second story. We climbed the walls to the flat, and I waited as Mia unlatched the window to let us in. After a brief purvey of the space—the old beer cans in the corner, the ratty mattress, clutter of a life left behind—we dropped to the floor, side by side.
“What the hell?” I let my head turn towards Mia. The look on her face told me she shared my bewilderment about our attackers.
She shook her head. “Let’s just do the tracking spell so we can get out of here first thing after waking.” Her bag had miraculously remained on her shoulder, and she pulled it onto her lap to retrieve the spell box.
“Shit,” I whispered, gesturing to my own empty shoulder. “The strap must have broken. My bag’s gone.”
Mia blinked before the meaning of my statement registered. “The dirt from Oranmore.” Her face reddened. “Why was it in your bag? Why didn’t you leave it with the box?”
I shrugged. “I figured since the other ingredients are so common and easily replaced, I’d keep the important one on me for safekeeping.”
Mia rolled her eyes. “So much for that plan.”
I let my head fall back against the wall and Mia did the same. Our hearts still rushed from the adrenaline of fighting the cloaked attackers. We sat in the dark, wallowing in the silence of the abandoned flat, neither of us carrying the slightest flicker of an idea what to do next.