When those aims collide, new friends join in the desperate race through foreign lands and ancient ruins to uncover knowledge of the mysterious Damoz. What do they want? Can they be stopped?
Blood of the Water (Arts Reborn: Book II) continues the journey of Simon, Elysia and Persei that began in Brush With Darkness.
The ARTS REBORN series follows the return of opposing forces of artistic creation and elemental destruction to the Republic of Pazh, a world where echoes of ancient Greece and Rome mix with the fantastical.
Glebric’s hands shook as he pointed. “Do you see it?” He was so close to his triumph.
“Those rocks?” Ventus asked. He turned to the captain of his small ship, used mainly for traveling between the islands. “The boy says those rocks over there.”
The captain looked surprised. “I’ve been through here a thousand times, and I’ve never seen those rocks.”
“Most intriguing,” Ventus said. “You have done well, boy.” He lowered his voice and leaned in to Glebric. “They will be pleased with your discovery. Maybe even enough to set you free.”
Glebric’s eyes gleamed in the starry night. To make sure the tide was right, he’d tried for the same time as last night’s trip. “And my mother?”
Ventus’ lip curled in amusement. “Not that pleased.”
The ship couldn’t get too near the rocks, so two of Ventus’ guards rowed them to the rocky doorway.
“Watch your step,” Glebric said.
Ventus reached out his arm for a guard to assist him, and gingerly stepped onto the rocks.
“You two, tie up the boat and stay here. I’ll call to you if I need anything. If you don’t hear from me in thirty minutes, come in and kill the boy.”
Glebric fought the urge to grin. This one had it coming. He listened carefully, but so far, no whisper.
Ventus lit an oil lamp. The flickering light made his narrow face look even longer, more forbidding. Glebric hated that face, and what it represented.
Mother, you will never have to touch that greasy hair again.
“Lead on, boy.”
The pools of water on the floor seemed bigger this time. Or maybe it was just the different light. And the tunnel seemed somehow… alive. Glebric held his head high, not wanting the Pazian to call him a coward.
Down, down, down they walked with splashing steps. Ventus was breathing heavily behind him.
“This had better be good, boy.”
It had been easy to convince Ventus to examine the grotto. Explaining what had happened to Xelos, and the disappearance of Simon and Elysia… that had been much harder. Ventus had been very angry. All this since Glebric’s last monthly report? But news of the grotto had settled Ventus down, and they’d left that very night to investigate.
“We’re here.” The corridor opened up in front of Glebric, and he stood to the side so Ventus could see.
The middle-aged Pazian’s eyes opened in wonder as he took in the grotto, culminating in an exultant smile when he saw the altar.
Altar. Not table. But how to get him to touch it? How do I even know that’s what I need to do? But Glebric knew.
Words leaped into his mouth. “Did I tell you… if you touch it, it glows!”
“You did not. This is an incredible find, Glebric! Well done!”
“Is it a place of great power?”
Ventus’ eyes narrowed. “That is not for you to ask. But… perhaps I should test it.”
“Shouldn’t you leave that for your superiors?”
Glebric winced under Ventus’ withering glare.
“I will say what is appropriate for my investigation.” Ventus was at the altar in a few long strides, with Glebric following close behind.
After a furtive glance back at Glebric, Ventus touched the altar with his right hand. A glow radiated out from the contact, a greenish-blue that made Glebric think of the sea.
Ventus grunted with delight.
“Hold this, boy.” He handed Glebric the lamp. He rubbed both hands together and placed them on the altar. The coral glowed brighter this time, lighting up the room.
“Mmmm….” Ventus moaned with pleasure.
He didn’t see Glebric draw the knife from his sleeve.
“How does it feel?” Glebric asked. “To pay for your crimes?” He tried to slash Ventus’ throat, but his hand shook so violently that he only nicked him. Ventus’ head lolled to the side, eyes rolling back in rapture. A few drops of blood dripped out, collecting in the basin in the top of the altar.
Glebric stepped back, dropping the knife from shaking hands.
The basin was filling up. But not with blood, with a metallic liquid seeping out from the stone, shimmering as the level rose.
“Give him to me!” came the voice.
Glebric grabbed Ventus by the hair and dunked his head into the liquid. There was no struggle as the face went under, just streams of bubbles escaping with every breath, slower and slower until they ceased entirely and the body went limp.
What have I done? Glebric stood transfixed, unable to will his legs to flee.
The pool rippled once, twice, beginning to swirl around the head. The streak of red disappeared into the dominant silver, and the entire pool gleamed in the ghostly light from the altar.
The liquid began to drain. But not down into some unseen space below, no, it was pouring in through the mouth and the nostrils. Into Ventus.
Ventus’ lips moved, but it was a different voice that rushed forth. “Thank you, Glebric. I accept your sacrifice.”
“What is happening?” Glebric backed off, holding the lamp before him to ward off this strange apparition. “This is impossible!”
Ventus stood up. His expression was now calm, even serene. The liquid was gone without a trace, and there was no trace of his wound.
Glebric shook his head in disbelief.
“We will do great things together.”
“Who are you?”
“Not who, what. Look at your hands.”
Bluish-green water oozed out from his skin, puddling in his palms. He rubbed his fingers rapidly, trying to shake it off, but he felt something very different… like liquid power. For the first time in his life, he felt strong. The sensation was intoxicating.
“I will teach you to control it. Power, Glebric. That is my second gift to you. Power to do whatever you want. But first… let’s go find your mother.”
When Jamie isn't reading or writing, he's probably enjoying time at his home in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada with his wife and two young sons, playing some kind of board or computer game, or watching basketball or Doctor Who.