With the release of Heart of the Raven looming, it’s time to meet the characters! But why just read a stale bio, when you can have a flash-fiction introduction? These take place the day before Heart of the Raven begins. Think of them as mini prologues. They will not appear in the book and this is the only place you can read them. Enjoy!
Cyprus sat at a table in the guard’s office, a miniature stack of paperwork in front of him. He held the ink pen over the paper, poised to record the answer to yet another inane question. “What special skills do you possess that would make you an asset to the team?”
He couldn’t take any more. “This is ridiculous!”
A brunette vampiress glared at him from the next chair. “Shhhhhh!”
“Well it is,” he whispered back. “We’re filling out applications, for Christ’s sake!”
“And how else should we do it?” she asked.
He leaned closer to her. “Malick lined up all the eligible candidates, peered into our minds, and made a choice – just like that.” He snapped his fingers. “None of this bureaucratic, red tape nonsense. I miss him already.”
“Malick was insane!” she cried, and then quickly lowered her voice. “That’s why I never tried out before. Now be quiet before they throw us out!”
Cyprus glanced to the main desk where a gray clad guard leaned on his hand, his expression one of boredom. “He doesn’t get paid enough to throw us out. Besides, we’re his superiors.”
“Only just.” She turned back to her application. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to get a promotion.”
He fell silent and gave her a long, calculating once-over. If she was a good representation of his competition he should be okay. Her words had no trace of an accent, which meant she was probably born in the US and had lived there her whole life. She couldn’t be more than a couple hundred years old, and she probably didn’t speak any other languages or have as much experience as he did.
That’s right, he told himself. Not to mention that several of the greater guard had disappeared when Malick did, though no one was sure whether they were some of the unidentifiable remains scattered around, or if they’d gone with him. Either way, they were out of the running and, thanks to the confirmed casualties, there were even fewer left to put in for the three vacant Executioner positions.
Cyprus turned back to the paper and reread the question. “What special skills do you possess that would make you an asset to the team?” What special skills were they looking for? He’d already listed that he was a demon eye on page one, and he’d written about his multilingual abilities under “What languages are you fluent in?”. What else was there? Unless they meant combat skills…
He rubbed his forehead. His guard training in Munich had been more intensive than the American version. Maybe he could use that? But did he really want to bring up his time in Germany?
He brushed aside the memories before they could surface and scribbled in an answer. The rest of the application was equally painful to finish, and by the time he filled in the last space he was alone in the office. He scrawled his name at the bottom, swearing by signature that all his statements were true, and then strode to the desk.
The guard eyed Cyprus’ black greater guard uniform and took the papers. “Executioner application?”
Cyprus bit back a sarcastic remark. “Obviously.”
“Don’t take it out on me. It wasn’t my idea.” The guard flipped through the pages, as if checking to see that everything was filled out, then he tossed it onto a stack of papers. “They’ll look it over and if you qualify as a candidate you’ll get a message telling you to show up in the audience chamber tomorrow.”
An interview in the audience chamber? What more could they possibly want from him? They had everything except a blood sample! “Who decides whether I ‘qualify’ or not?”
The guard straightened just a little and his eyes shifted nervously. “Ark.”
“I see.” There was nothing else to say. No doubt the head of the Executioners already had his favorites chosen, and Cyprus wouldn’t be one of them. He’d been on only one assignment with Ark, and it had been over a year ago and so routine that he couldn’t recall any details from it. If only Migina or Griselda had been in charge, then he might have had a chance.
Except that Griselda left with Malick, remember?
“Is there anything else?”
Cyprus’ spine snapped straight. He smoothed his black uniform and lifted his chin a notch. “No, that will be all.”
He turned on his heel and strode from the office, head high. It looked like he’d be passed over again, but he might have a chance next time. Migina was the fourth one in line to take over and at the rate the Executioners were dying lately, it might not be too long before she was in charge.
Right. Next time.
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