I haven’t posted any of the Seventh Circle novel yet, and I don’t really plan on spoiling much of it, and I have a bad habit of sharing too much of what I’m working on. The book is moving at a solid pace and will launch in 2014.
For now, here’s a sample from the sixth chapter. Tabs don’t seem to play nice on this form, so for the sake of readability, I’ve placed spaces between paras instead of tab indentation.
“Look at me. How old would you say I am?” asked Zaiba. “Thirty, forty, fifty years old? Come on. Take a guess.” The pair had been engaged in small talk for some time and now Sasha was feeling tipsy. She knew from Barman’s research that Zaiba was born in the 16th Century, but managed to stop herself from slurring it out. It would have surely revealed her to be a member of Seventh Circle. She simply shrugged.
“I was born in Japan in 1628,” he continued. “The bastard son of a poor farmer’s wife. I’m not a demon like the rest of them. I’m human. I was born in the dirt of Kyushu Island and I clawed my way out of it to become a member of the Yakuza. I worked as a Tekiya, collecting protection money and running illegal trade in my village. I was good at it. Murdoch and Carcer saw that spark in me, that ambition to succeed above all else. So here I am, the exception to the demon rule.”
An odd hush fell over the room. Sasha didn’t know what to say, Zaiba peered into her glass to see it was empty. He called on his personal bartender to fix her another drink. She summoned the courage to speak.
“Why are you here? Why did you kill yourself?” she asked.
“Probably the same reason you did. I made stupid choices. But we’re not alike. Not even remotely, Does it make you angry to know that while the rest of you humans wallow in misery beyond the gate, I’m allowed to do as please? I bet you’d love to kill me right now, wouldn’t you?”
He rose to his feet, causing Sasha to shuffle back in fear. Zaiba was handed a fresh drink by his employee and took it over to a weapon rack set into the wall. He picked up a katana and slowly paced the room while staring at Sasha, trying to figure her out.
“I bet you’d like to take this sword and plunge it right into my heart, “he asked while tapping the blade’s point on the ground repeatedly. His attempts to intimidate her were working. Every clang of the weapon on marble caused jolts of dread to shoot through her veins.
“I already know what that feels like,” he continued, running the flat edge of the blade over a large scar on his chest. “When humans fall into Hell their suicidal wounds disappear, and the same goes for tattoos. Yet this is my punishment. This scar and these images are forever carved into my body. I will never forget my shame. Do you want to know what happened?”
Sasha didn’t dare reply as Zaiba circled behind her slowly. He brought his mouth to the back of her neck, kissing it softly. She closed her eyes in disgust.
“I fell in love with the daughter of a rival gang leader,” he explained. “It was the worst mistake I ever made. He learned of our affair and in retaliation he murdered my mother before my eyes. He slit her throat while she forgave me. She told me that it wasn’t my fault, and that she was proud of all I had achieved.”
Zaiba brought the sword across Sasha’s neck, causing her to tense up.
He nicked his own wrist and allowed a few drops of blood to fall into her drink, before swirling it around slowly.
“He left me for dead,” he hissed into her ear, “but I survived. It was the biggest mistake of his life. So off I went into the cold night, stumbling towards his village with vengeance in my heart. I burned it to the ground. Men, woman and children screamed as the fire consumed them. I took my sword and stood my ground as the rival Yakuza fought back. Like a true Demon I slaughtered them all without mercy. When there was no one left to challenge me, I went to his home.”
He leaned closer and whispered into Sasha’s ear, “Drink.”
She took the glass and stared at it as her eyes started to well up. The increasing tension of the blade at her throat forced her to down the bloody cocktail. An instant wave of euphoria and confusion assaulted her senses. She felt her body starting to go limp.
“I found my lover’s burned, smoking body in his home. I had killed the only person I cared about. Her father drove me to it, so I took his head as repayment. I knew there would be repercussions for me and my people come morning, so I took my sword and plunged it into my own chest. The next thing I knew, I was here in the city.”
Sasha rocked her head back and forth in a drugged stupor, trying to muster the energy to stand. The women around her laughed at the futility of her efforts. Zaiba kept talking.
“Disgraced and dishonoured, all I wanted to do was die, but Hell wouldn’t let me. I wandered the streets and made a name for myself as a hired blade. Murdoch and Carcer sought me out and offered me place at their table. They turned me, placed Arks in my blood and gave me a new purpose.”
Sasha managed to stand slightly and grab her purse. She simply had to send her distress signal before succumbing to the blood’s effect. Her numbing hands refused to cooperate. She dropped the purse’s contents over the floor, sending the the lipstick container rolling out of reach. Sasha strained towards it before crashing into the table, sending glasses spilling everywhere. More laughter from the girls.
She fought against her closing eyes and dropped into a deep sleep.