Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Good Shepherds Book Three: Rogue

Cover Art and Excerpts

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"Lay him over these. Make sure they're under his back to catch the runoff."
I moved Mark onto the towels as Carsan instructed. She dipped a cloth into the smelly potion she'd just concocted while I opened his shirt. The lump had distinctly formed arms and legs and a head. It was very skinny and I watched it moving under Mark's skin.
For a moment a malformed face pushed against the reddened flesh of his chest. Its mouth opened and closed, and a small tear formed in Mark's skin.
"Get that thing out of him," I said.
"It's going to hurt. He'll struggle so you'll need to hold him down as much as possible."
Leigh moved to Mark's feet, but Carsan warned her away. "He's too powerful for you to restrain, Leigh. If he lashes out at full strength he could kill you. Leave this to Maya and me."
Leigh backed off a safe distance and waited. I didn't have to be psychic to sense how worried she was. She'd known Mark a lot longer than I had. She'd grown up with him. He was one of her best friends.
"He'll pull through," I told her.
Leigh nodded. "Sure he will. He's strong."
"Here we go."
Carsan dabbed some of the potion onto Mark's chest. The succubus immediately reacted and its movements picked up in speed. Mark moaned in pain and opened his eyes.
"Oh, God... that hurts," he said.
"Not for much longer," I promised. I looked at Carsan. "Right?"
She silently nodded and dipped the cloth back into the potion. With it saturated, she wrung it out on his chest.
Mark screamed and his chest lifted off the floor. I positioned myself over his head and held his shoulders down. He began to thrash as Carsan squeezed more of the potion onto him.
The succubus broke through Mark's skin. Its head reared up out of his chest like some monster from a horror movie. It was clearly female, with scaly skin and green glowing eyes. It glared at me as it opened its mouth, revealing sharp little teeth with strings of thick saliva crisscrossing through its mouth.
Carsan pulled one of the white strings from the potion. It was indeed some kind of worm. She grabbed the succubus' head and yanked it back, putting the worm down the things throat.
"Can't you just yank that thing out?" Leigh asked. Her voice was shrill and distressed but she voiced the same question I'd been about to ask.
"No. It has to come out on its own. Leigh, get your dagger ready. I'll need you to kill this thing as soon as it detaches from Mark."
Leigh already had her dagger unsheathed and she stood at the ready. She looked eager to kill the thing. While killing was against my nature I had a true desire to be the one to strike the death blow to the monster that was killing my Other.
The succubus began to make a choking sound. Carsan fed it more worms from the potion and also drizzled more on top of the succubus. It pulled its arms free from Mark's chest and began its attempt to escape his body.
"Will that thing affect his heart?" I asked.
"His sternum is between the succubus and his heart. If it doesn't break through the bone he should be okay."
The thing crawled onto Mark's belly. He watched with wide eyes full of fright and pain. I kissed his sweat-slicked forehead.
"It's almost over, Mark."
He continued to struggle and cry in pain. I couldn't imagine the agony he suffered now.
"Come on, you little bitch," Carsan swore. "Get out!"
As if responding to her wishes the succubus pulled its legs free and scrambled with surprising speed down the front of Mark's body toward his feet.
"Let it get clear of him," Carsan warned.
"My dagger can't kill Mark. I'm his Guardian."
"He doesn't need to get accidentally stabbed on top of it all," Carsan responded.
"Right," Leigh said. She bit her lower lip and crouched low, facing off with the succubus. I was very impressed by Leigh. She'd run into a basement to kill a demon to save Carsan and was now facing down a frightening-not to mention disgusting-succubus to save Mark.
The thing hissed at Leigh but then gagged as some of the worms Carsan had fed it came back up and crawled from its mouth.
"Gross. Just come on already!" Leigh shouted at it.
She put the dagger behind her back and patted at her chest so the succubus couldn't see the direct threat it posed. "Wanna bite? Need a new home to finish growing? Come on. Come and get me. I've got psychic powers to feed you."
The succubus eyed Leigh warily. Mark passed out and I put his head on my lap while Carsan tended to the open wound on his chest by taking out various potions from a medical bag she'd pulled from under the table next to us. I recognized it at once -- it had belonged to Pete. He'd taken very good care of it and had kept it well stocked.
"Oh, good. There's some of that demon flesh left," Carsan said. "Demons have incredible healing properties. I thought he'd used it all on your father."
She tipped the few drops that remained into the center of the ugly open wound on Mark's chest.
Leigh yelped. Carsan and I whirled around just in time to see the succubus flying through the air toward Leigh. She'd opened her shirt to expose her chest and the succubus had taken the bait.
Leigh swiped at the succubus with her dagger before it reached her. The thing gasped once and then fell to the floor. It didn't move. It was dead.


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