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  • Home > Samantha Young > Warriors of Ankh > Blood Past (Page 14)     
  • Blood Past(Warriors of Ankh #2)(14) by Samantha Young
  • Becoming aware of people staring at him as they passed, Eden ran her eyes over him, trying to work out what they saw. Like every other day he wore an expensive sweater moulded to his fit body.

    Today the sweater was black. But instead of the usual tailored trousers, Cyrus wore black jeans and a pair of walking boots, both of which were probably designer. He reeked of wealth. Is that what people saw when they looked at him? Or was it just that he was good-looking? Or was it that ‘I wouldn't mess with me if I were you' aspect in his eyes?

    As if sensing her stare, Cyrus slanted a look at her, smirking. “What is it?”

    “People are staring at you,” she answered promptly.

    He laughed softly. “They are also staring at you.”

    “They are?” Eden glanced up and sure enough caught the eye of a young woman who very quickly lowered her gaze and hurried by them. “What's that all about?”

    “Contrary to popular belief, humans are not stupid. They sense there is something different about us.”

    “Hmm.”

    She didn't say much after that. Instead she patiently waited for Cyrus to buy her coffee and a bagel and lead her to a quiet bench. Clearly there was something he wanted to discuss. As she settled in next to him, her eye caught the silver ring on the middle finger of his right hand. Noah and his father wore the same ring. It was a masculine silver square with an ankh-shaped onyx stone inset into the centre. Valeria and Emma wore a smaller, more feminine version of the ring. Eden wondered if all Ankh wore one.

    She nodded at it. “What is that?”

    Cyrus' mouth quirked up as he followed her gaze. He shifted his hand in the light, the black stone winking in the morning sun. “I sometimes think you read my mind, Eden.”

    “Oh?”

    Eyes smiling, Cyrus reached into his pocket and pulled out a small ring, exactly like Val and Emma's. “All Ankh wear the ring. It began with your mother believe it or not.” At the mention of Merrit, Eden's heart began to beat faster. Suddenly she wanted to know everything about the warrior she had never met, the warrior that had captured someone like Cyrus'

    heart. “My mother?”

    He nodded, his eyes growing sad. “She gifted me with it in 1678. We were in Rome at the time, hunting an extremely powerful soul eater. He had taken a piece of soul from one of our kin, a young Ankh, Joseph. Not only did we need to stop this soul eater, we needed to get Joseph's soul back.” Eden blinked, shaking her head. “Wait, you can do that?”

    Cyrus nodded patiently. “There is so much to tell you, Eden. So much.” He shook his head. “I don't want to burden you with too much information too soon.”

    “No, no,” she argued. “Just hit me with it. I want to know all this stuff. I can take it. I promise.” She waited as Cyrus took a bite of his bagel and a sip of his coffee, glancing around casually to make sure they were still relatively alone. “Alright. If you kill a soul eater in the vicinity of someone who has lost a piece of soul to the said soul eater then the victim's soul returns to his or her body.

    Joseph's soul made this particular soul eater incredibly strong, so it was doubly imperative for us to find him. Merrit and I had difficulty taking Joseph with us to hunt the soul eater because he had become a dark creature, almost devoid of humanity. In the end we had to keep incapacitating him. In the struggle to bring the soul eater back to our lodgings in the city, I was distracted when Merrit was knocked unconscious. The soul eater managed to grab the tiniest piece of my soul before Merrit regained consciousness and helped me take down the beast.” Her heart was hammering just thinking about it. In her head she had built up Cyrus to be this completely indestructible being. But according to him there were soul eaters out there strong enough to get the better of him. Not good. Not good at all.

    “We killed the soul eater. I got my soul back, as did Joseph, who is still around and kicking. He is investigating some troubling news in Dublin that suggests there is a group of soul eaters in the city.” Cyrus shook his head, realising he was getting off track. “But to what I was saying,” he smirked, as his eyes glazed over a little at the memories, “Your mother was never the most romantic woman. She was far too straightforward and gung-ho. But what nearly happened to me frightened her and she got a little sentimental. Part of that reaction was this gift.” He held up his hand, turning it so the silver of the ring glinted at her. “She said the Princeps deserved a little ostentation in his life.” Cyrus closed his eyes briefly, his features tight with pain.

    The hollow heartbreak in her guardian's voice as he spoke about his dead love echoed painfully in Eden's chest. She blinked back surprising tears, wanting to reach out and grab a hold of him. Instead she bowed her head, not wanting to embarrass him with her sympathy.

    He cleared his throat. “Merrit's purpose had been to give me something symbolic of my authority.

    Instead I had other rings made for the rest of the Ankh. I liked the idea of unity and kinship. Yes, we fought side by side with Neith, but they could never understand the exhaustion of immortality, the weight of forever on your shoulders. My brothers and sisters could. So I had the rings made as a promise to them. A promise of loyalty and friendship. A promise that they would never be alone in this endless life.”

    More tears threatened to spill down Eden's cheeks at his words. How lucky the Ankh were to be blessed with a Princeps who was still capable of such feeling and compassion after all these centuries. How lucky she was.

    “This is yours now.” Cyrus lifted her right hand from her lap and slid the ring onto her index finger. It fit perfectly. He gave her a small, sad smile. “It was your mother's.” Well that did it. Not able to fight it, tears spilled over her blinking lids as she felt the cool silver against her skin. That silver had pressed against her mother's skin. She ached in every part of her body, a deep and raw feeling, like someone had pummelled her with a meat hammer. She wished with every cell in her body that she'd had the chance to know her.

    “What was she like? How did you meet?”

    At first she was afraid Cyrus wasn't going to answer. Eden wouldn't have blamed him; she'd already seen how the memories of her mother hurt him. But perhaps he could also see the desperation in her eyes, the need to understand where she really came from. Placing the styrofoam cup of coffee down on the bench, Cyrus leaned back and closed his eyes for a moment. “It was 1346. I had met Merrit twice, once when she was fifteen when I met with her mother, a Scottish Ankh warrior only a few centuries older than Merrit. And again a few hundred years or so later when England invaded Scotland in the late 13th century. Battles enticed the soul eaters. They like war. It is easy for them to take the souls of dying men and women on the battlefield. That is why we have several Ankh in combat areas all over the world. Anyway, Merrit and I did not cross paths again until a few decades later when her mother was killed. In many ways Merrit was still so young. You see it with Noah. He is seventy but sometimes you forget he is not just a teenager. Merrit was very similar and she had never been alone so I had no intention of leaving her out in the cold. She came to me and I welcomed her into my home.” He snorted. “She was really very annoying and brash with her forthright bluntness and unladylike behaviour.”

    Eden grinned, thoroughly tickled at the thought of her young mother getting on Cyrus' ancient nerves.

    He sighed. “I had been sleep-walking for so long. The trials of eternity, Eden. You start to lose connection. You become desensitized to people and their motivations: love, power, jealousy, greed, hate, anger. It all begins to lose meaning. I did my job. I hunted those who preyed on humans, I ran The Circle, I oversaw the Neith. But there was no joy in my life. Until your mother. I was living in France at the time because of the conflict. The House of Valois fighting the House of Plantagenet for the French throne-”

    “Wait, Valois?” Eden's eyes widened at the possible implication.

    Cyrus smiled. “No, no relation,” he assured her. “Noah's father has no links to French royalty. The House of Valois was founded a few centuries after Alain's birth by Charles IV of France. We have no time for a history lesson and it is all quite complicated but it's suffice to say Charles Valois had a claim to the French throne as did the Plantagenets, the rulers of England who had roots in France and in the royal line. A very complex and very long war broke out. You may have heard of it… The Hundred Years War?”

    Eden screwed up her face. “Yeah but I'm not going to lie, history has never been my strong suit.” He frowned. “I hope I am not boring you then.”

    “No, God, no,” she rushed to assure him. “It's totally interesting when you're talking to someone who's actually been there.”

    He seemed to consider that. “I suppose it might be. Now where was I?”

    “You were in France when my mom came to you.”

    “Yes. I was in France because I knew the conflict would attract soul eaters. Merrit's mother died so she got on a boat and found me. I welcomed her into my home and in return she aggravated the hell out of me and turned my world upside down.”

    “How?” Eden snuggled back into the hard bench, that romantic side of her she'd thought she'd hidden so well (clearly not from Noah who knew about her addiction to paranormal romance books) desperate to hear her mother's love story.

    “People rarely challenged me, because of who I was, how old I was. Even humans who did not know the significance of my position treated me deferentially. As it was they were wary of me because of my colouring, whispering ‘Saracen' behind my back. But even the knights dared not approach me. Even women of common origin gave me wide berth as did Ladies who were taught to be docile and obedient. They were raised with impeccable manners and were shy and unassuming for the most part.”

    “Except for Joan of Arc,” Eden interrupted. “I kind of listened in class when we got around to the stuff about her.”

    Cyrus smiled. “That does not surprise me. Joan of Arc was present later in The Hundred Years War. Your mother was fascinated by the tales of her and sought her out.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire