Barely on time… here is a teaser from my upcoming book Bloodlust: the Blades of Khazak Khrim. Zellin is one of the titular characters, a Sword-Bearer. The Sword-Bearers have their spirits bound to blades that they forge during their life in Khazak Khrim in the hopes of surviving death and living again by possessing the bodies that wield the blade. They were the primary antagonists in Bloodlust: The Shield Maiden, and in this book I examine them more closely.
Before the entrance to the Eleventh Hall stood the Temple Guard, an elite force of Sword-Bearers wearing fearsome war-bodies and ornate armour. Blades at their side, they carried ceremonial Lucerne hammers and round shields bearing the face of the Forge Father. Zellin had once stood among those ranks, a happy time in his life before duty called him to the outside world.
Part of him resented that duty. The Halls of Khazak Khrim were comforting and grand, the centre of the Vvath Empire and the world beyond, a bastion of purity and piety. Beyond these halls there lay nothing but inferior races and their alien, awful civilizations that all needed purification or simply to be destroyed. He could easily live out his life here, and know endless happiness. But he was called to be a Sword-Bearer, the sheath himself in corrupt flesh and protect Khazak Khrim from beyond the walls. It was both a great honour and an overwhelming burden. Right now, it dragged on him. Zellin made a note to seek purification for this weakness when he could.
After a long moment’s admiration he wrenched his gaze from the temple and walked on, down a deep winding corridor that plunged into the depths, toward the Twelfth Hall where the Sword-Bearers made their home.
The Twelfth Hall was foreboding and Spartan, humble like those who dwelt there. None of the Sword-Bearers looked at his Kirifan form with disgust. They were all used to seeing their brethren in strange bodies. Many of those here knew Zellin by his blade; few Sword-Bearers were inspired to make weapons that were suited for subterfuge and excruciation rather than for war. He longed to sit and speak to old friends; only they knew the trials and triumphs of his office. But duty drive him onward to report to the eldest.
Zellin passed through the centre of the hall where a massive form shifted slowly through the ancient forms of the Eleventh Kata, surrounded by silent Sword-Bearers. Despite its size the creature moved with enviable grace, finishing each step with crisp precision. The Blade wielded by the form was familiar, one of the great war-swords of a senior Sword-Bearer.