Book One of the Bloodlines Series
All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2000 T. Isilwath
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the publisher.
Published by Writers Showcase Press
information, please contact:
Printed in the United States of America
For Rain and Sky
For Skywise and everyone who believed in me.
For everyone who weeps for Mother Earth and the destruction of the Balance.
This book depicts both heterosexual and homosexual relationships in a loving, respectful manner. Much of the work contains elements of pagan and goddess religions. One or both of these elements may offend some readers.
Aerth was there when Aiya opened the cocoon. She was standing at the edge of the circle, some yards from the altar. She wasnt the only one present as the goddess revealed Her newest creation, but she was the one who most understood what it had taken for Aiya to make the child, and the reasons why.
The air inside the stone temple was tense, in spite of the spring breezes that blew through the open archways. The eerie silence was broken only by the low hum of the goddess, and the squirming of the infant wrapped inside the glowing cocoon. The bundle was small, the body within struggling against its confines as Aiya held it in both hands. Aerth thought She looked tired, almost sad; as if She had taken no joy in forging this one; nor should She have, for he was made out of necessity and not desire. It did not mean, however, that the goddess loved this child any less. If anything, She loved him more, because he would need that love in the hard times ahead. He was Her hope for the future of Earth.
The glowing light strands of the cocoon crackled and hissed as Aiya peeled away the layers, bringing the infant into the world. The sheath fell away to reveal the boy-child, pale of skin and fair. The child drew a breath, his thin voice echoing in the silent chamber, and reached with his tiny hands for the goddess who made him. She smiled, Her eyes sparkling in the dimness, for a moment outshining even Her own natural glow, and kissed his forehead.
*Welcome to the world, my son,* She said in Her broadcasting mental voice.
The baby let out a plaintive mew, gurgling, and the goddess slid the material from Her shoulder, bringing him to Her breast. His mouth opened and closed upon the offered flesh, making Aiya gasp as he bit down. He began to nurse as She drew him close, coveting him next to Her body.
No one spoke as the child fed, and Aerth knew it was not milk that the infant drew from the goddess breast, but something else entirely. He drank the life essence of the goddess Herself as he was made to do: hunter, killer, and drinker of blood. He was the first. He would be many. He was their hope.
When the child had taken his fill, Aiya took him from Her breast and presented him to the witnesses in the temple.
*I give you Aurek, my son. Hunter of the humans, my sword against the swarms of Jaois folly.*
One by one they came to see him, Aerth going first and touching Aurek with her hands. He was warm beneath her fingers, and he looked at her with wide, brown eyes. His lips were stained red from the goddess blood, and when he opened his mouth she could see his tiny fangs.
I am Aerth. I stand for the avatars. I welcome Aurek into the Circle as my brother, she announced as she was expected.
Aiya smiled at her, a private smile that spoke of what had happened here and why.
*Thank you, my daughter,* Aiya answered. *Stand by me.*
Aerth obeyed and took her place beside the goddess, watching as the others came forward to pay their respects.
She was the oldest of the avatars, chosen by Aiya Herself from the humans, and forged into an immortal. She was small in stature, about five feet tall, and her skin, which had once been a dark olive, now was merely tan. Her hair was a muted brown, thick and long, and she held it back from her face with a golden clip. Her face was kind and her eyes were brown, the gentle brown eyes of a deer. She looked as ordinary and plain as any human, but if one looked closely the remnants of her ancient heritage could be seen. Aiya had reshaped her to be more modern, to emulate a more evolved human, but she was still just slightly off, her jaw just a little too prominent, her forehead just a little too broad. At first glance such subtle differences went completely unnoticed, but more careful inspection easily revealed that not all was as it seemed. Aerth was clearly one of the oldest beings in the room.
Cryus and Khirsha approached, their claws clicking loudly on the marble, and Aurek stared up at them in delighted wonder as they lowered their massive heads close to catch his scent. The infant laughed and reached for them, showing no Dragonfear at all.
I am Khirsha. I speak for the Silvers. I welcome Aurek as my kin, the ancient silver dragon spoke.
Cryus, a gold dragon, repeated almost the same incantation, then they both withdrew to allow the others to come forward. There was a representative for each of Aiyas children, all the elders of their kind, come to see Aiyas hunter, the first child She had ever made whose chief purpose was to kill. The ritual was necessary in order to bond the new child, and all his subsequent progeny, to the other children the goddess had made. This bond was called the Circle and it connected them all to each other. Through the Circle, they would recognize each other as kin, despite their considerable differences in appearance and powers.
As the last of the witnesses greeted the child and filed out, Aiya turned to Her avatar and handed her the infant.
*You will be his guardian,* She said.
Aerth nodded. He will be safe with me.
*He will grow fast and learn quickly. Watch him and teach him. He must be ready when the time comes.*
I will not fail you.
Aiya smiled. *I know.*
With that, Aerth took the baby with her, cradling him in her arms, and carried him out of the temple.
True to Her word, Aurek grew fast. Within two months he was at his full height and filling out beautifully. He was tall, with wavy, chestnut brown hair, and long, graceful limbs. He had an open, flawless face, with large, almost lupine brown eyes. When he smiled he could outshine everyone short of the goddess Herself. He was a quick study as well, learning at a rate that almost equaled his growth.
Aerth taught him what he needed to know about humans, about the Circle and the Webs of Life. She took him to see Aiyas Webs in the Heart of All Things, showed him how a change in one affected changes in all the others, and helped him to understand his purpose for being made.
Jaois humans were disrupting the Balance with nothing to hold them in check. They were destroying the land and the animals, and would continue to do so. Their creator Jaoi had laid claim to the planet, and was doing nothing to teach them the ways of Balance. More and more were turning from the paths of harmony and symbiosis with the land, and travelling along the paths of destruction.
Aiya saw what was happening, and had tried to persuade Jaoi to guide the humans back to the ways of Balance, but to no avail. Instead He railed against Her, treating Her with contempt, until She felt She had no choice but to introduce a new hunter to the Web. She created Aurek in the humans own image so he would blend with them, live among them, and hide within their numbers while he hunted them down.
Aerth helped him discover and use his mental powers. He was a strong telepath, and could affect things with his mind. He could use some of the High Magic and cast certain spells. His senses were sharp and keen; he could hear heartbeats, smell faint scents, and see in almost total darkness. He was many times faster and stronger than a mortal human, and he could move with stealth and silence
Water taught him knifework and the art of the hunt. At these things, Aurek was a natural. He took to learning tracking from the dragons, who were amazed at his talent and skill, and he sought instruction from the elves in archery and lance. He was brilliant and innocent, wise and naive. His emotions covered an entire spectrum from ecstasy to despair, with wild fluctuations in-between. After his body came of age, Aerth and Water taught him the art of sensual pleasures, showing him the method of lovemaking required of his kind in order for his body to perform.
He was a paradox, able to kill with a ruthless lust for blood, which he feasted upon voraciously, and then return to the quiet of the cloister to dance and play the flute with his mentors. He was highly intelligent, his thirst for knowledge almost equaling his thirst for blood. He hounded his mentors and the goddess Herself for answers to his questions, even seeking out the old dragons who knew the ancient histories and interrogating them. He was annoying, but they adored him. They all adored him. Even Aerth, who was fairly certain he was the son she would never have.
His childhood was short. Within two years of his birth, it was decided that he would be sent to Earth to take his place in the order of things. Aerth would go with him and teach him the ways of survival among Man until he was able to live on his own. He wept, for he did not want to leave the safety of home and the security of his friends, but he knew he had no choice. He and Aerth would go to Earth, and he would kill humans as well as procreate his species, and eventually, when his duties were fulfilled, he would come home.
The night before they left, Aerth and Water made love to him slowly, drawing out each intimate caress in an attempt to prolong the experience and perhaps keep the dawn at bay. But the morning came, and the Gate was opened. He looked upon his home for the last time and kissed his goddess farewell. He and Aerth then passed through the portal to the mortal world.
Their destination was Sumeria, but they were not there three days when Jaoi attempted to destroy Aiyas newest creation by making sunlight lethal to him. Aurek was badly burned, but Aerth was able to heal him before any permanent damage was done. She was not, however, able to counteract Jaois spell and Aurek was condemned to darkness, as presumably would be all his children. In answer to Jaois attempt on Aureks life, Aiya cast a spell of shielding over the vampire, hiding him, and subsequently all of his kind, from the questing eye of the god. The spell had a negative side effect, however. Aiya could not render Aurek invisible to just Jaoi, only to all the gods, so when She cast the spell, She knew that She would also not be able to sense or easily find Her son.
After the shielding was cast, Aerth took Aurek east into ancient India where the lush forests would help to protect him from the sunlight. Out of necessity, he became a nocturnal hunter, keeping to the deepest shadows of the forest by day, and venturing out only at night. They were to live in the forests for sixty years before Aerth was called away. She left Aurek with his companion, Roshan, and returned to the Sanctuary.
No one had ever seen or heard from Aurek or Roshan since.