Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my work in progress Werewolf Castle. It will complete the trilogy I have planned for the Werewolves in the Renaissance series.
At the end of the second book, Journey of the Hunted, I established that Thal and his father Sarputeen would pursue the destruction of Tekax. He and Sarputeen have a long history of rivalry, but their conflict had been dormant for decades. After Thal became a werewolf, Tekax sent assassins to kill him so that Sarputeen would never have the power of his son on his side.
In this excerpt, Mileko, who has studied as Sarputeen’s protege, has gone to spy on Tekax and been captured. Tekax hopes to turn Mileko against his master…
“And Sarputeen must be overjoyed to have his son back with him,” Tekax said and watched Mileko very closely. He detected a genuine hint of resentment, and the insight thrilled him. When Mileko showed no sign of answering, Tekax pressed the issue.
“Suddenly, his son is here, and he has no need for you anymore. He sent you on this foolish mission to spy on me to get rid of you.”
Mileko did not believe it, but he thought that he should play along.
“He places much value on Thal,” he admitted diplomatically.
Janfelter said, “When I was walking back here, I took care to ask many questions while still near Zilina. They say that you were his protégé. What are you now?”
Tekax raised his eyebrows, very interested in the response. Mileko hated how Janfelter’s question provoked him. Since Thal had arisen from the forest, Sarputeen had only thought of him. He had dispatched Mileko swiftly to guide him to Vlkbohveza, and Mileko had endured many difficulties in the company of his master’s unruly son.
And Sarputeen had barely thanked him for completing the task that would have ruined others of lesser skill. Indeed, Sarputeen had barely spoken to him since Thal had arrived at his castle. To be fair, the need to dispatch a spy had been urgent, and Mileko was surely the best agent for that purpose. Despite that reason, Mileko was forced to face the bald fact of his jealousy. Would Sarputeen have time for him again? Would he place all of his attention on his son? Uncomfortably, Mileko suspected he knew the answer.
Jealousy, resentment, insecurity, none of these things mattered compared to what Tekax might offer him. Mileko’s needs were simple, and, no matter his feelings about anything else, he respected Sarputeen’s judgement, and his master had warned him long ago that Tekax brought only wrong into the world. Janfelter proved that.
Wisdom demanded, however, that Mileko appear tempted.
“I am what I have always been. A man with talents who does as he pleases,” Mileko finally answered.
“Would it please you to do the work of men and not animals?” Tekax asked.
“So, you would give me my life in exchange for my service?” Mileko asked.
“I may forestall your execution until you prove yourself,” Tekax said.
Deep foreboding jiggled Mileko’s stomach. He realized that Tekax gave no one life. Worse yet, in the presence of such a notorious sorcerer, he suspected that agreeing to anything with Tekax might involve the application of dark magic. Sarputeen had never bound him with such a thing.
Tekax reached out with his bony fingers. His nails were unpleasantly long, thick, and yellow. He traced a nail down the center of Mileko’s chest as if pondering how to approach a surgery.
“How many men serve Sarputeen?” he asked.
“Two if you include me. And Thal of course. Perhaps a dozen men from his village might fight for him,” Mileko answered.
Janfelter chuckled, and Tekax looked a little insulted. “And he dares to think he can act against me?”
“You tried to kill his son. Do you expect a different reaction?” Mileko said.
Contempt deepened the wrinkles on Tekax’s narrow face when he frowned. “His beast powers don’t frighten me,” he said.
“Evidently not,” Mileko said. Nervously, he watched Tekax drag a finger around his navel. Then, the sorcerer lifted himself up a bit with his cane and leaned over Mileko’s head. He laid a hand on his forehead, feigning tenderness.
Softly, he said, “I know it’s not easy to give up your loyalty to him. He possesses a glamour that makes others love him. This I know. But I could make you forget all of that. I could lead you to many great glories.”
The hand was hot on his head, almost burning. The totality of his vulnerability barreled into his consciousness, crushing him with the dire truth of his situation. He clung to his previous life like a wild cat being torn down from a tree by manic dogs.
“It’s time to move on. I can teach you so much more than Sarputeen,” Tekax whispered…or did Mileko hear the words in his head?
He shut his eyes and rallied his discipline. He must not let this snake slither into his soul.
To begin reading this series, go download Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale for free.