Author's Note: Over in the comments section of Ruler (Blood Magic, Book 3), we've been chatting about what this series might look like if was written from Keel's perspective. It got me thinking and then it got me plucking away at the keys and this fell out. 

So, if Bleeder were written from Keel's POV, the book might start off a little like this:

BLEEDER (A Reversal)


The first time I heard of the sorceress I was eight. It was three days after the worst humiliation of my life thus far. And in a way, perhaps both of those things signalled the beginning of the end of my childhood, but such premonitions flew clear over the heads of adolescent half-vampires.

My father, the king, had come to see my year-end sparring match in the arena. The outcome would determine my placement in the following year's training ranks. I'd been facing Egree Andor in closed circle combat. Typically one of my key areas of proficiency, I was so nervous I'd overshot on two out of three of my counterstrikes with my daggers, been thrown off balance, and taken a direct hit in the side. The impact of Egree's weapon hurt less than gasp of the crowd. Not only would I have to repeat the year again, but I'd humiliated my father in public. All eyes swung from me to him in the seconds following my loss. Argarasts did not fail, did not succumb to mental weakness. I would face stiff correction for this.

As I bowed to my opponent, acknowledging my defeat, I looked past the dark-haired kid who expected to have no chance of beating the royal heir and would now have a story he'd repeat for a lifetime. My eyes drifted over the hundreds of Nosferatu crowding the stands. Many had come to see me, their future leader, fight, and what I had done? The scowl on my father's face in the royal booth bore the answer to that. He later punished that humiliation with three days fasting and meditation, where I could sit alone in a closet-sized room containing nothing but gym mats, a wooden staff and a toilet, and ponder my shortcomings and resolve to never repeat them.

I spent the first day wishing he'd never come to the match; if he hadn't I'd have placed in the usual top spot and none of this would be happening. On Day two I beat the walls so hard I broke the staff in half. The final day saw some actual repentance. If I wanted to rule I would have to be harder, stronger, less cowed in my father's presence. There were lessons in everything.

He shared a meal with me when he released me from my three days of confinement, and as I gobbled down the plate of food in front of me he told me about the sorceress. When we took possession of her, it would mark the beginning of a new dynasty for the long-lived Argarast clan. The whispers of my father's obsessions would turn into admiration and worship. She would be his, he explained, and later, she would be mine. Magic would come to our bloodline and turn the tides back in our favour.

As he spoke, I tried to picture what a real-life sorceress might look like. I'd never seen one so my only points of reference were the illustrations in my school texts and history books, where sorcerers, weres, changelings and Cold Ones appeared side by side. Even at that young age they struck me as oddly exaggerated, as if they were boogeymen more than other creatures we shared the Earth with. I wondered why the Nosferatu historians drew them that way. I hoped I'd someday get a tutor I'd be comfortable enough with to ask.

When my father explained that we would not take the sorceress until later because she was still a child, my mind boggled further. Someone my age with magic? It was yet another thing I couldn't wrap my head around, and the possibility proved terrifying. I thought maybe my father should take her now, while she was small and presumably less powerful and easier to tame, but I didn't dare suggest it. It was my place to listen, observe, learn, and follow rules.

But I crawled into my bed that night mind racing with all the fascinating things I might do someday when I owned a sorceress and learned how to use her magic.

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