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A Queen Among Blood

A Queen Among Blood

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Book 3 in the Queen Among Series. Yildiz was created by the Goddess Zarseti for one purpose: to uphold truth and justice in the supernatural world. Unlike her sisters, Yildiz came into being blind, but she sees beyond what others can. For tens of thousands of years, she and her sisters continued their duties as the Delegation, but life just got more interesting for Yildiz. She learns her creator blessed her, of all people, with a soulmate – an unwilling soulmate at that. Darkness surrounds this mystery man, but he is far more than he seems. Yildiz finds herself pushed away at every turn, but she's never been known to give up her pursuits. Will she capture his heart and unravel his secrets? Or will she be consumed by the darkness and left heartbroken? This is a deeply interconnected series and this book sets up much to come in future books. It is NOT recommended reading as a stand-alone book. Much set up for this book is established in book one and future storylines continue in future books. Books in the Queen Among Series so far: Book 1 - A Queen Among Alphas (available on paperback) Book 2 - A Queen Among Snakes Book 3 - A Queen Among Blood Book 4 - A Queen Among Darkness Book 5 - A Queen Among Tides Book 6 - A Queen Among Gods Book 7 - A Queen Among Tempests Bite Size Luna - A Queen Among Alphas Prequel Whole Again - A Queen Among Alphas Spin-off Runaway Empress - A Queen Among Snakes Prequel Dark Invocation - A Queen Among Darkness Spin-off Valor, Virtue, And Verve - A Queen Among Tides Spin-off This will then be followed by the Royal Shadows series, which is the next generation companion to this series.

Chapter 1: That Scent - Yildiz

~ Yildiz

I have no idea how long I’ve been staring into the endless darkness around me. It’s been like this every night for the past few weeks, ever since I first caught that scent; that unforgettable, life-altering scent that was like a shockwave through my very being. It came out of nowhere and ever since then I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. It’s consuming me and driving me to madness. I’ve never encountered a scent like it in my life. It was so unique that I can’t even describe it as a scent. Have you ever smelt something, yet you can only describe how it tastes? It was like that for me. This scent was like the galaxy exploding on my tongue. Now every night I toss and turn, my thoughts filled with questions about who this scent could possibly belong to, as the remnants of it echo on my tongue.

I reach to the side of my bed and tap on the clock.

“The time is, 3:43 am,” the electronic voice tells me. I groan and flop back against the pillows and continue to stare into nothingness. The benefit of being blind is I’ve never been kept awake by some form of light impeding my sleep. But when you’re alone with your thoughts in the middle of the night, suddenly that darkness feels incredibly intrusive.

I’ve never questioned anything my mother has ever done. I never questioned why of all my sisters; I was the one she made blind. Yet right now I can’t help but ask why did she decide to give me an animai? In all the thousands and thousands of years that my sisters and I have existed, not once have any of us found an animai. We never even assumed we could have one. To be fair, they would prove to be a dangerous distraction and a weakness that could be used against us and in our line of work that is far from ideal.

You see, I am an irshiust, a being of truth. My sisters and I were created by the Goddess Zarseti to help maintain peace and justice in the supernatural world, and it’s a full-time job, let me tell you that. We’re one of the most powerful beings on earth, not because we’re endowed with great cosmic power, but because there are few that can match us in speed, strength, and senses.

We’re easily identifiable by our liquid gold irises and skin that glitters as golden as our eyes. Not that I’ve ever seen these for myself from the mirror, because ya know, blind. Aside from our unique features, the ability that defines us is that we can detect when someone speaks the truth or a lie. This comes in handy when bringing people to justice, which is why we were given such a gift in the first place.

So you see, what we are and what our purpose is and even how different I am from my sisters, are not things I ever questioned. But being given an animai? Why me and why now? I know I have an animai and yet I’ve never met them. I have no idea who they are. I believe in my mother’s divine wisdom so I have to believe our paths will cross eventually, but what am I supposed to do in the meantime? Go crazy? Because that’s where I appear to be headed.

I know sleep won’t come to me anytime soon, so I decided the best thing for me to do is let off some steam. I get up and walk over to my chest of drawers grabbing a sports bra from the top drawer and active leggings from the second drawer. I’ve had this room for thousands of years, but I do update the furniture to keep with the times. You might ask ‘why bother?’ given I can’t see anything, but trust me, beds have drastically improved over the years. I’ve got two words for you: memory foam.

Whenever I update my room I do have to readjust to my new surroundings, but I catch on pretty fast and soon I don’t have to count steps or click my tongue to discern where the items around my room are. Everything remains organised so I know where I can find what I need. The top drawer is for bras and underwear, bras are kept to the left, and underwear to the right. The second drawer is for leggings and shorts. Leggings on the left, shorts on the right. The third drawer is for sleeveless tops, the fourth drawer is for short-sleeved tops and the fifth drawer is for long sleeve tops. Each drawer also has dividers in them, so everything is arranged in colour order, so I don’t leave looking like I was dressed by a blind person. That person being myself.

I change into my sports bra and leggings, grab a hair tie from the top of the chest of drawers and tie my long braids up into a bun. I then go into my closet, go to the shoe wall, and feel along the rows of shoes until I find the pair I’m after. I grab a pair of sneakers, put them on and make my way out of my room.

My sisters and I live in a very old castle, and we constantly see to its upkeep, but being a castle does mean it has what feels like an infinite amount of hallways and corridors, and given how many of us live here, it has many, many bedrooms. I’ve memorised every path in this place, so the chances of me getting lost are non-existent.

As I make my way down one hallway after another, the sound of music begins to travel to my ears. Instead of making my way to the gym, I follow the music and as I get closer I can tell the music is coming from my sister Setia’s room based on my memory of our home’s layout. I approach her door, which I can tell is slightly ajar and push it open as the words of Johnny Cash’s rendition of ‘Hurt’ fills the room.

“Oh honey, Johnny Cash?” I say with a sympathetic tone, as she turns her head in my direction. I step in and take comfort in her botanical and oceanic scent that perfumes the room.

“What’s wrong with Jonny Cash?” she asks.

“Nothing, his music is great, but nothing screams ‘I’m depressed’ more than playing Johnny Cash on a loop.”

Her room, like everything else, is bathed in darkness, but she’s not. I can see Setia laying on her bed, with her head on her arms. I don’t see her in the same way you do, but I can see her aura. A beautiful glowing light of amaranth with glittering gold inside the hue. The colour outlines her figure perfectly making her form easy to make out. None of my sisters have this ability, just me. So while our mother made me blind, she did bless me with a gift to see what no one else can, and I admit that makes me feel special.

Now you’re asking, ‘but if you’re blind, how do you know what colours are?’. Well, originally I didn’t know which colour went by which name, so I just gave each colour my own name. For example, I called blue, caelum, red was ribappu and you get the point. During one of my mother’s visits, I asked her to teach me what the names of the colours were, so I could better communicate with people. She spent all day looking into my mind and teaching me the names of every colour that exists as I saw them in people’s auras. It was a unique day of mother-daughter bonding. It took me a while to use traditional colour names since I had gotten so used to my own, but I learned and adapted as I always do. That’s why I can tell you with perfect accuracy the colour that surrounds my sister. My very melancholic sister.

“I’m no–… I’m no–…” she takes a breath and sighs, unable to complete her sentence.

I walk over and sit beside her, “You know we can’t tell a lie, so why even bother?” I gently ask as I reach out and stroke her hair.

“Because I don’t deserve to feel depressed,” she explains.

I sigh, “This is about Mei, isn’t it? Setia you can’t keep blaming yourself for what happened to her. She’s with her animai and her family now and Longsang is flourishing. Those are all wonderful things. You should focus on that instead of one mistake you made,” I say comfortingly.

She gets up and walks to the other side of the room turning off her music, “I can’t just forget what happened, Yildiz. My mistake got her brutalised and on top of that I had to learn about everything that happened to her mother. I didn’t just fail Mei, I failed Xiuying and I don’t know how to cope with that,” she says, a devastated wobble in her voice.

“Xiuying chose not to tell you about her animai, and you need to respect that choice, whatever her reasons may have been. As for Mei, Zixin knew our weaknesses, and that’s something we didn’t know. I believe one way or another he would have found a way to get to her. He was relentless,” I argue.

“But Amelia was right, I could have told them, warned them. Shared even what I suspected to be true about Zixin. I could have summoned Arthwin or Aulen to put a barrier around the pack, anything to keep her safe,” she says with deep remorse and at this point, I feel I’m arguing with a brick wall. Setia is determined to blame herself for the horrors that were done to the nagata Empress, which is ironic given if this had happened to someone else, Setia would be in my shoes saying exactly what I am.

“He had help from Isolde. Even without an ascension she is still far more powerful than either Arthwin or Aulen combined. They would have found a way, and that’s the truth. You made a mistake, and you have owned up to it and tried to make it right, which is all you can do, but you can’t keep sitting here blaming yourself for what has passed, and you certainly can’t blame yourself for what Zixin has done, at that point you’re just being narcissistic,” I say folding my arms over my chest.

“How exactly am I narcissistic?” she asks in offence.

“To give yourself all the credit for someone else’s actions whether they be good or bad seems incredibly narcissistic to me,” I say casually.

“I can’t believe you just said that,” she whispers in disbelief.

“Well, you can because I did,” I say, rising to my feet, “Setia, I am sympathetic and I know that it will take time for you to come to terms with your guilt and I’m here for you however you need it, but don’t go giving yourself more blame than you deserve in some misguided attempt at penance. I love you and I won’t let you do that to yourself. You didn’t warn Mei, or the Invictus Pack of what dangers potentially awaited them, yes, blame yourself for that, but the blame ends there, do you understand me?” I say sternly.

I hear her audibly gulp, and watch as she nods, “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t owe me an apology, and you’ve given more than enough to Mei. Mei is moving forward with her life choosing not to be burdened by the actions of the past,” I reach out and squeeze her arm, “You should do the same. An eternity is far too long to carry so much guilt.” With that I decide to leave Setia with her thoughts, hoping my words have knocked some sense into her.

“Wait, what are you doing up at this hour?” she asks curiously as I reach the door.

I shrug, “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Is everything okay?” she asks compassionately.

“I’m honestly not sure,” I say with a soft smile, closing the door behind me and proceeding to make my way to the gym.

I love our gym. It’s the size of a stadium with everything we could possibly need. We may have superior senses, but it’s never wise to sit on your laurels. Setia is an example of that. Very few know what the weaknesses of an irshiust are, and so Setia never once assumed Zixin would, but he did and because of that he was easily able to take her down. This is why training is important, it keeps us vigilant and allows us to do our job to the best of our abilities.

Stepping into the gym I take in every scent that permeates the room. From the smell of the equipment to the smell of residual sweat and even blood. My sisters and I never hold back in training, so blood has been drawn on more than one occasion.

I make my way to the far end of the gym, to work on some target practice. Tonight I’m in the mood for archery. I grab a bow off the rack on the wall and a quiver full of arrows. When we train with weapons, we are always sure to train with all the variations of the weapons we possess. For example, we have arrows that are designed to inflict damage on different supernatural beings, but since each is made of a different material it changes the weight, balance and projection of the weapon, so you need to understand how each works in order to utilize it correctly. Tonight I’ve selected arrows with arrowheads made from nuummite, a gemstone also known as sorcerer’s stone. This gemstone is very useful in dealing with wayward makkares, and given the recent revelations regarding one, in particular, I figure it can’t hurt to brush up on weapons we use against them.

I walk over to where I remember the booth to be, strap the quiver to my back and proceed to draw an arrow from the quiver and line it up with my bow, pulling the bowstring as far as I can while holding it steady. With my elbow, I press a button on the side of the booth wall. As soon as I do I hear a high-pitched ringing sound that lasts for three seconds. I focus on where the direction of the ringing is coming from and fire the arrow, listening as it cuts through the air and makes contact with a foam target.

“Target hit successfully,” says a robotic voice, and I smile in satisfaction.

Technology has definitely become a godsend over the years and helped me with certain areas of training that for a long time I could only do if I had a living opponent. Now I can train more often on my own. Every training area of the gym has a specific section that has been made for me, like here. From this particular booth, I can control the target at the far end. By pressing the button, it triggers a sound on the dummy but the sound never comes from the same place twice. Little microphones are hooked up to the dummy and are located on every inch of it, so one push of a button might trigger a sound coming from the heart, the next from the head, then the arm and so on. I’m able to focus on the sound and use that to find my target. Just because I can’t rely on my sight, doesn’t mean I’m handicapped. People don’t even realise I’m blind when they meet me, but boy do I get a kick out of things when they find out and proceed to underestimate just how capable I am of killing them. I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

I continue to load my arrows and hit the button on the wall, listening for my target. Each time the arrow connects, the disembodied voice tells me of my success, but I cut it off each time eager to load my next arrow. With each go, I attempt to move faster and faster, with the only thing slowing me down being the technology that I have to wait on. That’s the only downside of not having a living opponent and why I love training with my sisters. They have the same speed as me and they never hold back with me either, which makes it fun.

Once I run out of arrows, I decide to move on to the rock climbing wall. This doesn’t come with any technological tricks for me. I can’t rely on my sense of smell or hearing and certainly not sight, I have to go entirely by touch. There’s something calming about the rock climbing wall. Taking my time to feel for each groove and to try and visualise the wall in my mind and how to best navigate my way up the face of it is almost meditative. It’s just me focusing one step at a time. I find it teaches patience, but that probably only applies to me since my sisters can see what they’re doing and do this much faster, but I like taking my time. It’s not as though the wall is going anywhere.

Time slips away as I move from one groove to the next, and as I continue up the face of the wall I find my thoughts becoming clearer. For the first time in I’m not sure how long, I’m not consumed with thoughts of that damn scent and who it could belong to. I can’t control the future, only the here and now, and right now I just want to focus on reaching the top and not on a mystery animai who is Gods knows where doing Gods knows what.

At some point, my seventh round of climbing is interrupted by the sound of travelling footsteps and the scent of a freshly lit fire and hot cocoa.

“There you are!” announces my sister Hiranur.

Clinging to the wall I glance towards the doorway to see her gamboge aura with glittering gold surrounding her. When learning colours and shades I noticed that the colours surrounding my sisters are all very unique in their shading, which seems very fitting.

“I wasn’t hiding,” I say smartly.

“Very cute. We’re assembling for a meeting; new assignments are up.”

“Why didn’t you just link me?” I ask. I click my tongue and listen to how the sound bounces off the surfaces around me to calculate how far the drop from the rock wall is. Once I’ve done that, I let go of the wall and drop to the ground with ease.

“I didn’t want to risk waking you, but you weren’t in your room, so I decided to come look for you. I should have probably checked in here first, you’ve been spending a lot of time in here lately. Should I be concerned?” she asks, the concern already evident in her voice.

“No need for concern. I’ve been having trouble sleeping,” I say, walking over to her, leaving the part out about how my nights are consumed with unwanted thoughts about my mystery animai. As an irshiust, I’m incapable of telling a lie, so it’s easier to speak what is true and keep the rest to myself.

“Have you tried herbal tea?”

“I doubt it will help, but thank you,” I smile, “Let’s go find out what trouble needs our attention this time.”

Slinging my arm around my sister’s we make our way to the meeting hall, a little extra pep in my step. A new case to keep my mind busy will prove far more useful as a distraction than training. Hopefully, it’s nothing too serious.

Chapter 2: Delegation Work - Yildiz

~ Yildiz

Stepping into the meeting hall I can see the kaleidoscopic colours that make up my sister’s auras filling the room as each one enters and takes their seat around the large circular table in the centre of the room. The table is gargantuan in size. Has to be to fit all one hundred and one of us. Hiranur and I take our seats and once everyone has gotten settled, our sister Imak, with her soft celadon aura and glittering gold hue stands to address us all. Aside from the unique shades, all of my sister’s auras have a gold glittering hue, which I’ve learned is unique to our species.

Among us, there is no leader or chief as we handle things equally, but when it comes to overseeing meetings we do take turns. It just keeps things more balanced that way.

I can hear the sound of rustling paper as I watch Imak, pass out dossiers. Once my dossier makes its way to my hands, I open it and begin running my fingers over the small bumps that fill the page. Naturally, I’m th

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