BOOK BLITZ - Blood of the Hunted by Marc R. Micciola
Date Published: December 15th 2022
Weylyn, Olwen, and other members of the marginalized and subjugated group known as the Tóráin are trying every day to gain equality and freedom. Their enemies, which consist of vile human monarchs, their soldiers, and a masked witch assassin known only as The Dove, continue to tighten their grip around the necks of the Tóráin.
Leading The Resistance, Weylyn and Olwen endure many trials that test them physically and mentally, relying on their loved ones to keep them from losing hope. They both wish to see a time of equality and peace, but to achieve that requires more than what they have. Desperation leads The Resistance to find new allies all across the continent of Kosavros with the goal of finally defeating their oppressive overseers.
Their fight for freedom and respect leads Weylyn and Olwen down paths that open their eyes to new dangers, both involving themselves and the rest of the world. However, they do not waiver. For the Tóráin are known for their resilience, and they have already endured much. What comes next will be hard, but they’re ready to fight for their lives. Together.
Cloque, Fleuris | November 1789
I tried to ignore the hateful screams coming from the crowd. The insults were shouted in both the common language and Fleuran, with someone even yelling a curse in the old language priests used. Things had already been thrown onto the stage by people who hoped to strike the lycan that was tied up for all to see. I kept my hood high so that I could remain as hidden as possible. I tried to slouch to hide my height while being sure to avoid eye contact with those around me. I had always been proud to be a lycan, and the lack of horns or colored skin was doing wonders for me right now. My satyr friends — as well as the sprites I knew — would have a much harder time blending in with the crowd today than I would. That was if anyone had taken the risk to come. Uncle Benen had refused to allow Brina and me to leave the house, but I snuck out the window late last night and hid in an alley until afternoon came. I could have gone to Ossian’s house, but the satyr would have just tried to keep me inside like Uncle Benen had. I couldn’t stay away. I couldn’t hide. I needed to be here for him. Even if the smartest and safest thing for the Tóráin in the city was to stay inside, I had to be where I was. Deep down, I knew all of the Tóráin felt the same way. We couldn’t abandon him now, not when he needed us the most.
Tears started to fill my eyes as I watched the soldiers bark out instructions to the witches, the women casting spells to torment the brave lycan they had restrained. I was mad at myself for doing so, but I looked away. I looked up, blinking away the water from my eyes as I stared at the looming image of the Sainte Mère Cathedral. I inspected the spires and the stained-glass window high above us as I tried to gather myself. The gothic church’s shadow stretched over nearly the entirety of Dame Square, swallowing the crowd in darkness despite the sun shining brightly in the afternoon sky. After taking a deep breath, I forced myself to look back down at the stage. The image I saw would give every single Tórán who had braved the crowds today a great pain in their heart. The lycan before me meant a lot to our community. He was always empowering those who were deemed devils simply because they were different. We all knew we were hated, but that lycan made us feel like we were worth something. He made me who I am today, and now I had to watch someone take him from me. Today, they were executing the most important person in my life: my father.
The pain I felt was not only the anticipation of loss, but also the knowledge that I could do nothing to stop it. All I could do was stand there, at the front of the crowd, and stare up at my father. He was tied up to two poles and spread uncomfortably. The witches had forced him into his feral shape, no doubt to make him appear to be the monster they would portray him to be. Humans continued to throw food at him, some even threw stones. No one stopped them. The officers and witches weren’t focused on the wrong doings of humans today. Their eyes were fixed on our kind. ‘Diables’, they called us. Beings from another world that many would see eradicated if it were up to them. Today was about sending a certain message to our kind, while sending a completely different one to their own. We were to be humbled and defeated, while humans would be propped up and celebrated. A story would be told on that stage, and none of my kind were supposed to enjoy it. I stared at my father’s face, hoping he would look up and lock eyes with me. For a moment it seemed like it would happen, but I was shoved from behind and forced to turn around.
“I knew I smelled a stray chien. You salauds aren’t allowed to mingle with us up here. Back of the crowd, Diable.”
I looked back over my shoulder at my father to catch him looking right at me. I refused to show weakness. “I’m staying right where I am.”
One of the young men who had confronted me raised a fire poker in the air, but he never got around to actually hitting me with it. A slender hand attached to a lean arm grasped his wrist and he grew red in the face.
“Rosey!” he whined. “What are you doing? He started it!”
Rosalie — my very best friend and one of the few people I knew I could trust outside of my father — was a human. Not even a witch. She was just a regular, wonderful, human. Her parents had helped mine for years since I was a pup. We grew up together, and despite my clear edge in strength, she was always rescuing me from ignorant assholes. The teen harassing me dropped his weapon and used his other hand to reach for Rosalie’s shoulder.
“Don’t call me Rosey, “ she said as she grabbed his outstretched hand and twisted his fingers roughly. “And I highly doubt Weylyn started anything. Leave us alone or your father will find out just how much of a petit con you’ve been.”
The boy’s face scrunched up before he left through the crowd, massaging his injured hand. His friends followed him, prompting Rosalie to let out a deep sigh before fixing her dress. She grabbed a hold of my arm, laced her fingers through mine, and looked up at my father. The two of us stood there, trying to send him our strength for what felt like hours until trumpets sounded. Up the steps came King Louis, soaking in all the praise the majority of the crowd was giving him. He eventually waved at them to quiet down so he could speak, and I knew that what came next would make my blood boil.
“Gens de Cloque!” King Louis shouted with a pompous grin on his face. “I have been a just king, have I not? I have been a gracious, and bountiful king, have I not? Under my rule, all have prospered! Yet we still have...ordures...that want to see that lovely life tarnished. This monstre murdered ten officers. Dix protecteurs! For that heinous crime, the only plausible sentence is death! But first, we will make an example out of him!”
The crowd roared. The group of witches and officers stood ready now, surrounding the stage as torturers began whipping my father. He kept his fur covered head held high, defiant despite his pain. The people whipping him moved on to more forms of torture, dragging on the inevitable much to the enjoyment of the crowd. They cut at his ears, pulled his teeth, removed his fingertips, and even branded him with the royal sigil of Fleuris. Not once did my father cry out in pain. Not once did he give them the satisfaction they wanted. What they were doing to him had brought tears to my eyes yet again, but I also felt a sense of pride in seeing the strength my father was showing. The torturers looked at the king with lost expressions on their faces, prompting King Louis to rise from his chair and draw the saber at his waist. He began carving his prisoner. He sliced at his arms, and then his legs, then his back, and then his chest. All that and yet, still, there were no cries out for mercy or even a grunt from the pain. Now visibly angry, King Louis grabbed my father by the snout and shouted at him.
“Why must you defy me? You’re dead, Diable, there’s nothing to fight for anymore! Scream like I know you want to! Show everyone the lâche we know you to be!”
His face was bloodied and swollen, but at that moment I knew that he was looking at me. Our eyes finally locked, and I squeezed Rosalie’s hand. I took a small step forward, but Rosalie held me back. I looked down to see her crying as she shook her head. Bringing my attention back to my father, I found my eyes to be drowning in tears so much that it was hard to see. It all felt so hopeless...until he howled. Right in the face of the bastard that had committed so many wrongs to him and his kind, my father howled to the sky. Howls broke out from the crowd, followed by screeches and whistles from the harpies and other creatures who had come. King Louis was beside himself from this display. He drew his pistol from its holder, placed the barrel between my father’s eyes, and fired.
The world around me evaporated into nothing until all I could see was my father’s body limp on the stage, held up only by the ropes around his wrists and ankles. My eyes were locked on the horrid sight until Rosalie began pulling me through the crowd as more whistles, and screeches, and howls flooded the city. I barely paid attention to the chaos that was erupting as Rosalie and I pushed our way through the crowd. We eventually escaped the large mass and slipped into an alley.
“We need to get clear of here. My house is close enough, and we’ll be safe there.” Rosalie tried to pull me, but I stood my ground.
“My father is…he’s…” Rosalie came forward and put her hands on my face. The contact had me snapping to attention. “Uncle Benen. Ossian. Darby. They…I have to tell them what happened.”
“Yes. But not right now. Right now, we need to get you off the streets.” The general noise of a boisterous crowd turned into loud screams and gunshots. “Weylyn!”
I nodded furiously. “Yes. Right. Okay. Your house first then.”
The two of us ran off into the city, but the sounds of the riot that had broken out in Dame Square followed us for some time. I barely saw what was in front of me, Rosalie holding my hand and guiding me most of the way. I couldn’t shake the image of my father, torn apart, with a bullet wound leaking from his head. I still couldn’t believe it. My father was dead.
About the Author
Marc R. Micciola lives in Ontario Canada with his two dogs Ace and Rielly. He tries to get to the gym when he can in the week, and when he isn't there, he's working on his next project. Writing is a big part of Marc R. Micciola's life, but things such as hockey, video games, and spending time with friends and family are also passions of his. Despite being a fantasy author, Marc R. Micciola prides himself on his ability to create a great mix of realism and fantasy, blending the two together in just the right amounts to provide worlds you can escape to while also having real characters that are relatable.