Fiction Friday: Rites of the Blood
This week we look at The Price, the opening fiction from Rites of the Blood.
“Knowledge always comes at a price. Whether that price is paid in blood, security, or spirit, Vrisa, there is always a cost.” Shick-shick-shick went the knife along the leather strap, sharpening its blade to an impossibly fine edge. The little old man paused, eyeing the knife’s razor point, and then went back to sharpening.
“The first hunt was a Tremere. You can guess why, of course. They say the Usurpers stole Salubri power and Salubri blood — but they took their immortality from the Tzimisce! What is the greater crime, I ask you?” He grumbled. “Revenge was the order of the day.
“Now it seems those fires have cooled. More’s the pity.” Shaking back a shock of white hair, the old man gave a gravelly chuckle. “I knew their magic when they were humans crawling on the earth like worms on sodden graves. To think, they took Tzimisce vitae, our knowledge of the spirits and the energies of the land, and they cocked it all up. Rats in their Hermetic maze.” He pulled the knife back and set it with the others. “Such a waste.”
Rubbing his moustache with a slender finger, the old man looked at his apprentice. “Are you listening, Vrisa?”
“Does this have to do with the wolves again, Master?” Like a perfect porcelain manikin, the little girl stood poised near the doorway, black hair tumbling down over one shoulder. She wore an immaculate white dress with soft gloves and black patent leather shoes. A velvet bow pulled the curls away from her cheekbones, lending the girl’s eyes a strange, sculpted look.
“Wolves?” he gave a snort of disdain. “No, no. This is a different sort of lesson.”
“I like your stories about wolves,” she continued with an empty smile.
“Wolves are stupid. Piss-headed, short-sighted, can’t tell a pool of blood from a puddle of rain.” His grumpy tone softened. “You just like to hear the tale of your older brother’s cowardice, and how I tricked him into leaving us alone.” The girl’s smile was unchanging, and the old man waved a thin-fingered hand in the air. “No time for that, Vrisa, no time. Today, we study magic.
“You will listen closely, my girl. If you do not, I will pull off your arms and legs and turn you into a scuttling spider.” His tone was one of quiet amusement, but she stiffened, and immediately focused on his words.
Learn some of the lessons of magic “acquired” by Voivode Kosczecsyku and Vrisa in Rites of the Blood, currently available in PDF and print from DriveThruRPG.