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Authors: Eric Asher

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Vesik 04 - This Broken World

BOOK: Vesik 04 - This Broken World
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THIS BROKEN WORLD

 

 

by

ERIC R. ASHER

  

Books by Eric R. Asher

 

Vesik, The Series:

 

Days Gone Bad

Wolves and the River of Stone

Winter's Demon

This Broken World

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by Eric R. Asher

 

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Produced by ReAnimus Press

http://www.ReAnimus.com

 

Edited by Laura Matheson

 

Cover typography by Bookish Brunette Designs

http://brunettedesigns.wordpress.com/

 

Cover design ©
Phatpuppyart.com
 – Claudia McKinney

 

~~~

 

Deep, meaningful dedication goes here. Don’t forget to update this. Seriously, or you’ll look like an idiot.

 

~~~

 

Acknowledgements

 

Book four? As in the number four? How in the world did that happen? As always, thank you to all of Damian’s fans. Without you, I’d just be talking to myself. It wouldn’t be all that unusual I suppose, but thank you all very much for making me look a little less crazy.

 

An enthusiastic thank you goes to my beta readers: Amy Cameron, Jason Cameron, Angela Shafer, Vicki Rose Stewart, and Ron Asher.

 

Thanks to the Critters.org workshop and their superb critiques.

 

Thank you to The Patrons of Death’s Door.

 

Thank you to my editor, Laura Matheson, who kindly—and occasionally with great sarcasm—saved me from that oh-so-treacherous sea of grammar.

 

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE
CHAPTER TWO
CHAPTER THREE
CHAPTER FOUR
CHAPTER FIVE
CHAPTER SIX
CHAPTER SEVEN
CHAPTER EIGHT
CHAPTER NINE
CHAPTER TEN
CHAPTER ELEVEN
CHAPTER TWELVE
CHAPTER THIRTEEN
CHAPTER FOURTEEN
CHAPTER FIFTEEN
CHAPTER SIXTEEN
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
CHAPTER NINETEEN
CHAPTER TWENTY
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN
CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT
CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE
CHAPTER THIRTY
CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE
CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO
CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE
CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR
CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE
CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX
CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN
CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT
CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE
CHAPTER FORTY
CHAPTER FORTY-ONE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
VESIK, THE SERIES

 

THIS BROKEN WORLD

 

 

Eric R. Asher

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

I
stared at the man sitting across the table from me. Shiawase. Happy. He sipped from his cast iron teacup and settled into the overstuffed leather chair. The old samurai armor he wore was surprisingly quiet. Shelves of old books stretched across the room behind him, scraping the ceiling and accumulating dust from the floor up. Philip Pinkerton’s black journal thumped as I dropped it onto the walnut table between us. Its brittle pages were swollen with a thousand dark things I wished I could scrub from my eyes.

“There are things you do not know,” Happy said. He glanced down at the journal.

“Why did Zola tell me you’d know about this?”

“It is a long story. We do not have the time.”

“Shorten it.”

He took another sip and his lips curled up in a smile. “I was one of you, before I became a Guardian. I was a necromancer, one of Anubis’s sons.”

I picked up the journal and flipped to the last yellowed page. A musty scent pungent enough to tingle my nose over the roomful of old books rolled out of the journal. A translation was written there, a translation of the runes on Philip’s hand of glory.

 

To the youngest brother.

 

I set the journal back on the table with the words facing Happy.

He simply nodded. “And so it came to you.”

“Explain to me how that is possible,” I said, and though my voice was quiet, I couldn’t prevent the violence behind the words.

Happy set his teacup down and rested his hands on his lap. “I am sorry my friend, but you are one of the Sons of Anubis.”

“Ezekiel,” I said, digging my fingernails into my palms.

“In this time, yes, but he bore the name Anubis for many more years.”

“Why didn’t Zola tell me?”

“She did not know. I only told her when the war began.”

I rubbed my face and blew out a breath. “It’s not a war yet.”

“It is,” Happy said. “The first salvo, the first sword, the first death have borne fruit.”

“What the hell does that even mean?” I muttered. “At least you made sense when you were just a damn bear.”

Happy laughed. “I am still a bear, and a man, and I am neither.”

I groaned. “Scratching you behind the ears is going to seem very wrong.”

“I rather enjoy a good scratching. I must confess, Vicky has the scratching down better than any of you mortals.”

I stared at the man who was a bear, is a bear. Whatever.

“She is safe with us,” Happy said. “Aeros and I would both die to protect her.”

“Gurges could have killed Aeros,” I said, remembering that titan of wind and debris. The fight left Aeros wounded, an Old God bleeding molten rock. “He killed Cassie.”

Happy’s smile faded and he ran his hand over his topknot. “She was a good friend. I spoke to her most nights in the park.” He frowned and drained his teacup. “She was a friend of Gwynn ap Nudd.” His dark eyes met my own. “This is war.”

I caught a flicker of motion in the corner of my vision. At the far end of the aisle, Bubbles and Peanut had their heads resting on the top step, bristly green ears pricked forward like they were listening to every word we spoke. I saw Foster land on the low shelf to my left, slowly shifting his black-and-white atlas moth wings, but I didn’t acknowledge him. There was a question I still had to ask, a question that was trying to eat its way out of my brain, and I dreaded the answer.

“Who are my parents?”

“Dimitry and Andi are your parents,” Happy said.

“Damn straight,” Foster said. He plopped down on the edge of the bookshelf, sword across his lap.

“Think of it as …” Happy paused and frowned a little. “Think of it as an adoption. You have to understand, the bloodline of Anubis is complicated. Every so often, with hundreds of years in between, his descendants have a child. A son. That child is born with the gifts of the dead, and is as much a son of Anubis as a son of the parents who birthed him.”

“So my mom,” I said, “is my mom?”

“Yes.”

“There is more you do not know.” Happy leaned forward. “I knew your great grandfather, Hinrik.”

Foster let out a low whistle.

“Where?” I asked. Hinrik was my great, great, several times over, grandfather. “When?”

“I have been dead, or not alive in the traditional sense, for centuries. I was at Stones River when he defeated Prosperine. The Watchers speak of him as a dark necromancer. Let me tell you, it is a thin line between you and the dark. Seeing the things Hinrik did, the good he did, the people he saved. I wonder … how much of that moniker is merely a stigma?”

I thought about Happy’s words. What he was saying, and what he really meant.

“Most of the Fae believe Zola walks in the dark,” Happy said. “You’ve met the Old Man. He is a demon among men who has slaughtered thousands. I would argue no one has died at his hand, outside of a war, that did not deserve it.”

Happy refilled his teacup.

“It is a thin line.”

I finished off my own tea—the sweet taste of chai lost in the bitterness of my thoughts—and set the cup down on the table with a heavy thud. “Koda, from the Society of Flame, said the same thing to me once.”

Happy nodded. “He is a wise old ghost.”

I heard raised voices echoing up the staircase. A growl shook the floor, and then Bubbles and Peanut vanished down the stairs. Someone began shouting, and it took me a moment to realize it was Frank, his voice muted by the shelves of books around us.

“I said to leave. We don’t have anything to say to you!”

A woman’s voice grew equally loud. “It is our right to ask you about that video. Now, I could clearly see your store in the video’s background, so tell me what happened.”

“You’re the press, not the police, now leave.”

I glanced up at Foster and we both said “Shit” at the same time.

CHAPTER TWO

 

T
he leaked video had gotten completely out of hand. Not even the Watchers had been able to stop it once it went viral. Ezekiel killing off their strongest Mage Machina didn’t help. At least once per day, some brave reporter would come barging through our front door. They thought they’d either be the ones to expose the hoax, or they’d be the ones to prove magic was real.

Who would have thought the world would be so interested in the fight between a necromancer and a blood mage? Then there was Ashley’s little display with the cloud of doom. Most magic didn’t show up on film, but I’ll be damned if the camera didn’t catch every second of that cloud exploding from her shattered runes. Metal and stone had vanished in a crack of thunder, and the dirt beneath the cobblestone street had been laid bare.

BOOK: Vesik 04 - This Broken World
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