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First chapter of Rapture!


From their vantage of the ancient rosewood table, the Chosen’s expressions range from disinterest to disdain. I feel the weight of their gaze upon me—very little pleases them, and certainly not me. Above, crystal chandeliers hang from the high vaulted ceiling, going to war with the foreboding blackness. The result is more shadow than light, while the pale, stone walls of the vast, windowless room complete an ambience that is as welcoming as a tomb.

The mental chill does not penetrate through my steely cloak of control. I am a pawn in this, as in all things. My blood may old, but that counts for little to the six Chosen who stand outside of rank and time… almost as gods.

“I have not left the Sanctum in many years.” I speak with due reverence, burying my seething rage. It would not do to show emotion of any kind. The Chosen are beings sentient far beyond my capability. They cross the sacred boundary and are able to generate and wield power when all others can do only one.

“We understand your reluctance.” I don’t know the name of the Chosen who speaks, for none have names. Over the years I have given them nicknames—thank the true gods the Chosen cannot read minds. The speaker, Maggot, doesn’t particularly look like a maggot, although his face appears alabaster in the flickering light and holds an otherworldly youth. “You must make this journey for us, Winter. It has been decided,” he says.

My lips clamp together, lest I say something I later live to regret. There was a time when my uncanny ability to sense keystones was a source of mild interest for many Old Blood had the skill. As our numbers dwindle, and the endless war scours our hope away one battle at a time, my time of abstinence from the conflict has drawn to a close. It has been decided. Discussion is pointless.

“As you will.” I bow gracefully in obedience before quitting their frigid home.

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