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Darkness Consuming: A Reverse Harem Series (The Severed Souls Series Book 2) by A.K. Koonce (1)


 

 

 

 

Chapter One
The Reveries

 

Nollix

I hate this shit.

I hate the bullshit mystical atmosphere that comes with a visit to the Reveries. But I need them. So I’ll sit through the demanding chants that make the heavens rumble, the smoke that makes my lungs burn, and the chilling way their bodies flicker white like their spirits are trying to tear away from here.

The three women sit on the ground. They’re slender. Long pale hair blows in the breeze as they recite low and ominous words I’ve never heard before. And their hands; they’re sewn together. Palm against palm they’re attached to one another by dark thread. They sway just slightly, huddled around a burning bunch of herbs. The smoke wafts white through the night air.

Dark clouds flash with a brewing storm overhead.

The Reveries practice the Ancient Darkens. I think centuries of this smoke has made these Witches batshit crazy. I can’t get straight sentences out of them to save my life.

I would never have come to them. Not in a thousand years.

But I have to find her.

It’s been weeks and I haven’t found a single trace of Violence. The King made her disappear from society once before. He sent her away from the real world to live within the veil of the Wild Hunt. I guess he’s rather good at taking her away.

He also took away the Warlock she was tied to, but that’s not really my concern. He can keep Cameron for all I care.

I promised her I’d find her.

It makes anger shake through me just thinking about it.

Link stands respectfully at my side. His pale eyes glow in the darkness as he watches their every move.

“So you see her, yeah?” My jaw tics as their chanting grows deliberately louder over my words. “I said, you see Violence Starling, right? She’s there in the smoke? In a real place? She’s there?”

At once, the chanting halts, the swaying becomes still. The eldest sister turns her head slowly to me. Big eyes—white eyes—stare up at me. The other two sit in the dirt with spines like steel rods.

When the Witch speaks, I truly wish she wouldn’t.

“Violence is in us all, is it not?”

Fuck, not this babbling again.

“Yeah, most definitely. But Violence Starling specifically, where’s she at?”

“Violence is within you, my child.”

My nails sink into my palm as I snap my mouth tightly closed to prevent myself from spewing profanities at this insane woman.

A strong hand settles on my shoulder. It’s as if my friend is attempting to hold down the rage that’s rising within me.

“I think we should just go. I know this was a last resort, but I don’t think this is what we need right now.” Link’s voice is so quiet. A tired sound clings to his words.

We failed.

Again.

My head shakes slowly back and forth. I shove my hand roughly through my hair as frustration builds higher within me. The dirt billows around my feet when I turn abruptly to leave.

“Have you looked within yourself?” Her voice is the sound of innocence. It sounds sweet but dangerous.

It reminds me so much of Violence that I give the Reveries a second glance.

The Eldest Witch looks to the woman at her left. Her back is to me, the smooth curve of her spine is all I see. A tattered white dress covers her for the most part. Their hair, their eyes, their clothes; it’s all an image of purity it seems. Even if their magic doesn’t feel innocent at all.

She doesn’t turn to me, doesn’t face me at all. She asked the same asinine question as her sister. Yet the way she spoke, it sunk right into me as if it’s the first time I’ve considered the words.

The beating of my heart is the only thing that fills the silence for a while. The moon is heavy in the sky, a full shining of white light beacons down on the three women. It’s as if the stars only shine on this deserted field. Miles and miles outside of the city is where they stay. The Reveries are always here. Always seated just like this.

And anyone who dares disrupt their tributes to the goddess will not find answers but only more questions.

As far as I know, the only thing society comes to these women for is to transition someone from this world into the unseen world of the Wild Hunt. They did their magic on me, they did it to Link, and they did it to Vi.

That’s how I know they’re capable of seeing the unseen.

“Take an offering and find what you’re looking for within yourself.” The young Witch’s quiet voice spirals confusion and hope all through me.

I look to the mound of bundled herbs piled neatly against the dusty ground.

Her movements startle us all. She stands slowly, stiff limbs bring her to a hunched height. Her hands hang low, still attached to the other two women. With one hard pull, she disconnects her hand from the elder sister. Another hard pull and she’s free from the both of them.

The elder sister’s lips part in an unpleasant gasp. Deep red blood runs down the younger woman’s pale hands. Pieces of flesh hang from her fingertips. She doesn’t look at the mess once, and oblivious to her own odd behavior, she carries on.

On hobbling steps, she makes her way to the pile of herbs. Her back arches like an old woman prepared for death. The beautiful woman is a strange sight to see.

Her bloody hand picks up an offering and she presents it to me in her open palm like a gift. The vacant, white emptiness of her eyes is even more eerie up close. The moonlight strikes across her gaze, sinking right into the depths of them. She stares up at me expectantly.

Hesitation tics through my veins as my fingers wrap around the coarse, dry herbs. They’re tied together with thin twine. A bit of the sister’s flesh hangs from the end of it. The rope wraps all around the center of its width. I stare at the little offering for several moments.

I thought coming to the Reveries was the last resort.

Taking an offering and considering their fucking words of how to find answers somewhere within me is the real last resort. There are no answers within me. I’m no one. I was sent to the Wild Hunt because I was too dangerous to live in society. That was almost a century ago. I can’t find her because I don’t know the first thing about this world.

Will I be as crazy as these three after smoking this ancient offering?

Am I really willing to find out?

Yes. I’d risk what’s left of my sanity in a heartbeat if it meant I’d find her.

Deep down, I know Violence can be found within myself.

Goddess knows she’s been on my mind since the first time I laid eyes on her.