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  • Home > Samantha Young > Warriors of Ankh > Blood Will Tell (Page 21)     
  • Blood Will Tell(Warriors of Ankh #1)(21) by Samantha Young
  • “Ankh are Neith right?”

    Cyrus frowned. “No. Ankh are not Neith.”

    They weren’t? But Ryan had said… “Then what are you?”

    “You are familiar with the history? Of Merneith and the goddess Bat?”

    Eden nodded, her neck feeling stiff.

    Leaning forward now, Cyrus clasped his hands together, as if preparing for a long bedtime story. “You are aware that the goddess Neith created the Warriors of Neith, mortal men and women who hunt soul eaters?”

    Eden nodded. “But we call ourselves the Blessed.”

    His sad eyes lowered as he exhaled, and then they slowly returned to her face. “They are not Blessed, Eden. They are monsters.”

    “I’m a monster you mean.” She shook her head, her voice flat. “Don’t worry about it. I already knew that.”

    He surprised her by reaching for her hand. He clasped it tight between his huge warm palms. “You are not a monster, Eden. Let me explain. Please.”

    That strange connection, that unreal feeling of security and contentment she had felt last time Cyrus touched her, flowed up her arm and into her chest. Wonderingly, the hunger receded and her mouth fell open with surprise. “OK,” she whispered, hoping he wouldn’t let go.

    He didn’t. “The Ankh was born when it became apparent the Neith were no match against Merneith. Bat placed her essence into the womb of a female warrior and from her an immortal race of warriors was born.”

    Eden frowned. “The Ankh?”

    “The Ankh. There are few of us. Only one or two are born every century and we cannot produce children. The Ankh are born to Neith, a quirk of fate deciding which child shall be an immortal. The child is handed over to the Ankh and raised with Ankh parents. Noah is our youngest. He was born in1940 and raised by two of my brethren, Alain and Emmaline Valois. We are born to hunt and kill soul eaters, to aid the Neith in the hunt.” He sighed and gripped her hand tighter. “The Neith are divided and governed by Councils and they are governed by an Over-Council called The Circle – ten of the oldest Warriors of Ankh. I am the Princeps: the leader of The Circle.”

    She struggled to compute it all, so much information all at once. So this man, this Cyrus was the leader of all the Warriors, Neith and Ankh alike. And Ankh were immortal. They lived forever?! Immortal children born to Neith and given to the Ankh. Her brow furrowed as she tried to get a handle on it, wondering what on earth it had to do with her.

    A vague memory of a dream prodded her, of a circle, of her birthmark…

    Slowly, Eden raised her eyes to meet Cyrus’, the blood rushing out of her face with suspicion. All the things that had never made sense… were suddenly starting to make sense. “How do you know a child is an Ankh? How do you know to turn it over to the Ankh?”

    His grip on her hand tightened and those warm eyes of his seemed to offer her strength and support. “The child will bear a birthmark… in the shape of an ankh.”

    The breath whooshed out of Eden’s body and she tugged her hand out of Cyrus’, her trembling fingers reaching for the hem of her t-shirt. Someone had undressed her and put her into pyjamas and a t-shirt. She frowned at the thought of it, but put it aside. Instead she lifted the hem of her shirt.

    There it was.

    The birthmark she’d had forever.

    A tiny little birthmark… in the shape of an ankh.

    “What the hell is going on?” she whispered hoarsely, brushing her fingers over the mark wonderingly.

    Cyrus reached for her again. “Let me explain, Eden. I need to explain for you to understand.”

    “Are you going to kill me?” she asked numbly, not meeting his eyes.

    “No!” he said vehemently, raising his voice. “No I am not, and neither is anyone else.”

    Eden turned to him wide-eyed. “Then what do you want?”

    “I am trying to tell you.”

    She nodded, exhaustion making her head feel as heavy as a cannonball.

    A weightless silence fell between them as Cyrus seemed to gather himself to speak. Eden noticed he didn’t shift or fidget like anyone else. He moved gracefully, in control, every movement measured and thought out. She wondered vaguely how old he was to be the Princeps.

    Bloody old, Stellan would have snorted.

    She willed the agony away.

    “Not all Ankh are lucky to have found love. I had lived my eternal life for hundreds of years before I discovered Merrit. My love.” His eyes washed over Eden’s face, tabulating each tiny feature. “She was courageous and light-hearted and so beautiful it hurt to look at her. She was tall with blue-green eyes and hair the color of midnight.” His eyes drew to Eden’s hair, it too as black as darkness. “We loved each other deeply.” Eden heard the pain now in his words and something awful began scratching at her, something she didn’t want to know. No. She shook her head but couldn’t speak. No. “Eighteen years ago Merrit was on assignment. The Ankh is called in to deal with soul eaters who are particularly strong and difficult to handle. One such group was terrorizing Los Angeles. Merrit went in with a group of Neith, but the soul eaters had planned for their attack. They injected Merrit with a high concentration of potassium chloride-”

    “The lethal injection?” Eden interrupted, her eyes wide with disbelief.

    Cyrus’s face had hardened. “Yes. Lethal poisons will not kill the Ankh but will debilitate them until our bodies fight it off. As with what happened to Noah at Ryan’s home,” he spat Ryan’s name. “They took Merrit and killed the Neith. Merrit was…” he turned away, his jaw flexing with controlled rage. Eden had never seen anyone so stoic in her life. “Merrit was raped by the leader of the soul eaters.”

    An image of the iron door and the basement flashed before Eden’s eyes and her heart palpitated in her chest. “Ryan.”

    “Yes. Ryan.” His eyes now cold with the memories flicked back to her. “After Ryan raped her, he didn’t kill her. She began to suspect what he was about and had regained enough strength to break the chains he had her in. She escaped him and came back to me.” Cyrus squeezed her hand. “We discovered she was pregnant. An astonishing thing… but I am old enough to know that it had happened before. A strange quirk of fate that a soul eater can beget an Ankh with child. I have no idea how Ryan Winslow came across the legends that I knew to be true but he had, and he had deliberately kidnapped and raped Merrit to impregnate her.”

    “Why?” Eden croaked, afraid if she let go of Cyrus’ hand she would start screaming and tearing at the walls.

    “For now let me just explain the basics. Ryan was determined to have the child and he came back for Merrit and took her. By the time I tracked them down… my wife was dead, the babe cut from her body. He took Merrit’s child. I searched a long time. I never gave up. Determined to find Merrit’s daughter.”

    Tears splashed over Eden’s lids as she brushed her fingers over her birthmark. “Me. He took me.”

    “Yes. You are a half-breed. The legends call you one of the Unforeseen.”

    “Bu… I-” She gave up, pulling back from his grasp and curling into herself. The room seemed to spin a little as she tried to process it. Her mother had been Ankh. Celine wasn’t her mother. Her mother had been a noble immortal warrior. Perhaps a woman who might have loved her. Eden choked on a sob.

    “Eden-”

    Cyrus was interrupted by a knock at the door, followed by the handle turning. The door swung open and Noah walked in. Her heart seemed to stop. He looked different somehow. Instead of the usual scruffy jeans and t-shirt, he wore black jeans and a tight fitting black thermal top that accentuated his sinewy musculature. His hair had been cut shorter too, seeming blonder, and he wore a noticeable silver ring on the middle finger of his left hand. Eden frowned. Cyrus wore a similar ring.

    Her heart squeezed in renewed hurt and anger at this Noah before her. Everything had been an act, hadn’t it, right down to his clothes. Eden refused to meet his gaze as a tall blonde girl trailed in at the back of him, vaguely familiar, accompanied by the tall man who had rescued Noah at the ceremony.

    Cyrus stood up at their entrance. “Eden, you already know Noah-”

    “No, I don’t,” she bit out.

    The Princeps ignored her. “And this is Noah’s father, Alain.” He motioned to the young guy next to Noah.

    Eden blinked. “Excuse me?”

    Cyrus arched an eyebrow. “We’re immortal remember. We stop physically aging after a certain point.”

    “How old are you?” Her curiosity peaked.

    Cyrus cleared his throat. “I am roughly twenty five hundred years old.”

    Her jaw dropped. “Holy…”

    Alain straightened, seeming displeased to be imparting the information, but Cyrus’ eyes bored into him with command. “I am roughly thirteen hundred years old.”

    Eden blinked, listening to his accent. Now she understood why Noah’s surname was Valois. She thought it was a French Michigan thing. But clearly it was just a French thing.

    Noah cleared his throat. “I’m seventy years old.”

    Still, Eden wouldn’t look at him. Her eyes fell on the blonde. Why was she so familiar?

    “Ah.” Cyrus nodded at the girl. “This is Romany, Noah’s girlfriend, she is Neith.”

    It was like a punch to the gut, followed by an uppercut.

    Romany. Noah’s girlfriend. Neith.

    Eden’s fingers dug into the quilt around her, desperately trying to keep any expression from her face. But the shock reverberated through her body as if she had jumped from too great a height.

    She felt betrayed all over again. She literally felt like he had reached inside her chest and crushed her useless excuse for a heart in his lying, scheming fists.

    Eden guessed that answered any lingering doubts over whether she had been falling for Noah.

    “So she’s mortal?” Eden asked instead, pushing this new heartbreak out of sight, her lip curling as she glared at the girl. “She’s one of those that kept attacking me.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire