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!
(Scharfrichter = Executioner)
Wolfe flicked through the screens of information with no enthusiasm. Photos flashed past, coupled with tidbits of information and old reports, most of which were scans of sloppy paperwork. He clucked his tongue and turned his attention to the caller on the other end of the phone. “The database shows that he’s on a watch list, but nothing else.” Wolfe’s fingers hovered over the touch screen as he skimmed the newest report, one that detailed an attempted rebellion. “I can send you the most recent reports on him, if you like.”
The reply came in a French accent, “No, no, that will not be necessary. At least not yet. He may only be passing through. So long as he is not a fugitive…”
“It doesn’t appear so.” Wolfe closed the reports and moved away from the display. “Is there anything else?”
“No, no, that should do. Merci.”
“You’re welcome. Good day.” Wolfe ended the call before the other could comment further. His mind wandered back to the old days, before he was even born, when each small country had had their own Sodalitas. There had been wars then, of course, and much unrest but they had all taken care of themselves. Surely that would be worth it?
He shook the thoughts off as Hethin walked through the door. The white haired vampire stopped, saluted and then moved to the desk. “I’m sorry I’m late, sir.”
Wolfe waved him to silence. “You’re not late, I’m just impatient. Office duty is always boring. I don’t know how you cope with it.”
Hethin winked. “I pass it off on others as often as possible. Anything new?”
“A call from the French branch wanting information on an American. Nothing exciting.” And then he remembered the envelope. “I stand corrected. The Höher Rat sent new orders for Sadihra. I left them on the desk.”
Hethin picked up the opened envelope and slid the paper out. “Ah. I see. Have you told her?”
“No, she’s still out on a call. It was only a minor disturbance, so she should be back soon. If you would be so kind?”
Hethin sighed. “Of course, sir.” He snapped a smart salute.
Wolfe returned it. “Thank you. Unless you require anything, I believe I’ll have some dinner and retire to my quarters for the night.”
Hethin nodded. Wolfe gave him something close to a friendly wave and then headed out of the plush Scharfrichter office and down the broad corridor. Silver sconces twinkled and heavy carved marble reminded everyone of the centuries that had passed. He could only imagine what a miraculous masterwork the stronghold had been when it was first built in the 1100s. Even now, with modern equipment and methods, shortcuts and power tools, it was still an impressive piece of architecture.
His own quarters were plush, though sparsely decorated. He took a bottle of blood from the miniature refrigerator and set about warming it in a pan of water on the small stove top. Many vampires had switched to using microwaves, including several of the restaurants in the stronghold. It might be faster, but it was harder to get just the right temperature. So often it was too hot, and that ruined the flavor. Who wanted boiled blood?
While the egg timer ticked away, he tidied his rooms. The cleaning staff did an admirable job when it came to dusting and vacuuming, but he liked things to be just so, and they could never manage it. They would always leave something out of place; a drawer not quite closed, shoes in the wrong order, an empty hanger in the closet.
He paused at his nightstand and opened the drawer. The picture inside was face down, but he didn’t need to turn it over to know who was in it and what it represented. It was a happier time, one before the doubts crept in. Before-
The timer chimed and he slammed the drawer closed with disgust. He didn’t have time for sentiments right now. There would be an American envoy in a few days, and it would be his responsibility to take them before the Kugsankal. That was what he should concentrate on, that and nothing else.
If only he could control his thoughts.
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