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Origin: An Ancient Blood Prequel (Ancient Blood 0.5)
Author:Nora Ash

Origin: An Ancient Blood Prequel (Ancient Blood 0.5)

Nora Ash




1


Warin


Circa 1200 - Brittania



The scent of burning huts and freshly spilled blood was sharp in Warin’s nostrils as he lifted his head to roar his bloodlust out into the night.

Distant sounds of battle—the final efforts of the defenders before Death inevitably gripped them in His cold claws—and the crackling of many fires was the only response.

He looked down at his last opponent, into his blankly staring eyes turned to the stars, and sighed with satisfaction. The rush of battle receded with the slow pulse of his victim’s lifeblood seeping out on the ground from the fist-sized hole in his chest.

The amount of blood he needed to feast on before the rage settled was never consistent, the thrill of brutality far overshadowing his innate hunger, and this night had been no different. However, now that both his hunger and his need to kill had been sated, the restlessness that filled him with liquid fire demanded a different kind of quenching.

For his brother, finding a willing woman after a night of slaughter was all he needed to fulfill the primal desires that governed their kind with an iron fist.

For Warin, the urges were never that simple.

He licked the blood still dripping from his lips and raised his head to the sky, nostrils flaring as he searched for whatever his instincts demanded to ease the roiling darkness within him.

It had been more than two hundred years since he’d fled to the wilds with his brother, and an unmeasured amount of time before that since he’d lost his humanity—he knew the violent, gnawing hunger tearing at him from the inside never went away, no matter how completely he indulged it. And yet he still tried. He had to try. Every instinct in his powerful body screamed at him with the rushing force of a thousand waterfalls until he satisfied it.

When the sweet scent of a terrified female reached his twitching nostrils, Warin’s eyebrows rose in surprise at his own desire.

Huh. Maybe Aleric's ways were finally starting to rub off on him.

It wasn’t that Warin was unacquainted with the female body—far from it—but he usually found his pleasure in playing with his prey rather than simply fulfilling the base needs throbbing through his body.

Her scent came from somewhere north of the village, where the fires had yet to reach the thatched houses. He could smell other humans up there, undoubtedly the few women and children who had hidden from the attack, but their scents were hardly noteworthy. The only thing of interest, the only thing his mind could focus on, was her—the unlucky woman whose life would end in his hands this night.

Warin ran, too far gone on the sweet scent of the female to care if anyone noticed his inhuman speed. He needed her, needed to consume whatever it was that called so strongly to him right now.

She was inside a nearly intact stone building.

His nostrils flared as he stepped in through the half broken-off door, taking in the smells.

An array of dried herbs, soot, and the even stronger, deeper scent of the woman met his senses. This was her home—and she lived here alone. There was no scent of a man overpowering enough to indicate that a mate shared her home.

Warin glanced at the many bundles of dried herbs hanging from the ceiling, noting the sharp, medicinal undertone in their smell. She was the village healer.

“Come out, little mouse,” he called into the quiet room in the tongue he knew was used on these shores. “You can’t hide from me.” He undid his sword belt and let it fall to the ground with a clatter. He didn’t need weapons to kill humans, but it was part of the disguise that allowed him to blend in with the raiders. Being unarmed might make her believe he was less dangerous. He always did love when his prey came willingly.

There was no reply, but he could hear her heartbeat thundering in her chest and her desperate attempts at quieting her panting from the table she was hiding under. The scent of her fear was intoxicating.

Calmly and with measured steps, he stalked over to her hiding place. Her heartbeat nearly doubled at his proximity, and he fleetingly wondered how much longer it would be before it burst out of her chest. Then he dropped down to a crouch, his lips pulling into a wry smile as he finally laid eyes on the girl.

“Boo.”

She whimpered and curled up into a tighter ball, pressing herself as far away from him as she physically could, her frightened gaze locked on him.

Warin blinked. Twice.

She was…

He frowned, unable to take his eyes off hers. They were the exact same shade of green as the sea underneath the cliffs the small village was perched on, and something in their frightened depths reminded him of… His mind grasped for the connection, but to his annoyance, the root of their familiarity eluded him.

“Who are you?” he growled.

The girl jumped at the sound, her disturbing eyes darting to his blood-spattered lips. A fresh wave of her fear-tainted fragrance curled in his nostrils.

“T-Thea,” she stuttered.

Warin frowned. Thea. He didn’t know any Thea. Aleric had briefly amused himself with a Theodora some decades ago when they were venturing far south, but she had looked nothing like this pale human with her auburn hair and smattering of freckles. And those eyes… He would have remembered a woman with those eyes.

He inhaled deeply, trying to place her scent, but at no point in time had he encountered a human whose aroma sang to him like hers did.

No, despite the odd moment of recognition, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he had never encountered this girl before. This Thea.

But that didn’t lessen his desire for her.

“Look at me,” he demanded.

Her sea-green eyes flashed back to his even as a small whimper pressed past her lips at his snarl.

The moment he held her gaze, Warin let his will seek to capture hers. He felt the familiar tug when his mind connected and reveled in the rush of power that went along with it. It didn’t matter that her eyes made his insides twist in a not altogether pleasant way—she was a weak little human, and he would make her bend to his will like he did with all his prey, until she no longer made him feel so… wrong.

“Come out and play, little mouse,” he purred, holding out a hand toward her.

To his utter astonishment, she merely curled into a smaller ball, fisting her shaking hands in her skirt as if pulling the fabric tighter around her body would make her safer.

Warin drew in a disbelieving breath. No one had ever resisted his Compulsion before. No one could—at least, no human.

“Are you a witch?” he asked, somewhat hesitant to voice his confusion. As dangerous as they could be under certain circumstances, he had never heard of resistance to a vampire’s compulsion to be among their talents. And he had personally feasted on enough witch blood to prove as much.