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Ocean’s Blood

by Thelma Mantey

Ocean's Blood - Thelma Mantey
Part of the The Drowning series:
  • Ocean's Blood
Editions:ePub - First Edition: $ 4.99
ISBN: 9783000767661
Pages: 371
Paperback - First Edition: $ 15.99
ISBN: 9783000767654
Size: 5.00 x 8.00 in
Pages: 408

CAPTIVE PRINCE meets INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE in this story about the fine line between hatred and obsession

"He looked newly born, as if the ocean spat him out of its womb, naked and wet, a creature made of waves and tides, of liquid and darkness, something that would slip through his fingers as soon as he tried to grasp it.”

A decade ago, Vindt’s homeland was overthrown with the help of Singers and their song magic. Forced into their service, Vindt has been struggling for freedom ever since.

His goal seems within reach when the Singer he’s bound to is unexpectedly killed. Instead, he gains a new master: the sly and enigmatic Asche. Coincidence? Maybe not. Singers suffer from a terrible curse, and Vindt might hold the key to ending it, if that’s what Asche is after. The Singer’s brethren claim Asche's on a quest for power and are determined to bring him down. Soon, Vindt finds himself the target of scheming Singers, attacking demons, and another unexpected opponent: his wayward feelings for someone he’s supposed to hate.

When Asche's enemies offer Vindt freedom in exchange for delivering Asche to his death, Vindt has to make a choice.

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Chapter 1

Vindt waited for the song to rise, for the killing to start.

He would have to wait some more. Down in the valley, the battle had barely begun. In the clear air, the clang of clashing weapons, curses and screams carried unfiltered up to his vantage point on the hill. A choir of death. But the killing he waited for was of a different kind.

He watched the fighting with dull detachment. Another war that was not his, its outcome none of his concern. He had seen it so many times. As always, a part of him longed to push his heels into the horse’s flanks and plunge into the frenzy, draw his sword and fight, honestly, steel on steel, man on man. The idea was childish, but it suggested relief from being an idle spectator, a servant of a dark force that killed from a cowardly distance.


As always, Vindt stayed where he was.

An empty sky hung above, the sun at its zenith, strident, blinding. Vindt hated the sun. It abolished every shadow, annihilating possible refuge for body or mind. It sharpened the contours of the men in the valley, glinting off spear points and sword blades, off armor and metal on horses’ bridles. No room for ambiguity. The landscape reflected the sky’s bleakness, earth and rocks. A few scrawny plants defied the arid climate.

Sweat trickled from Vindt’s armpits and down his back. It was too hot for his liking, always was. The long-sleeved red tunic didn’t help with the heat. At least his arms wouldn’t get sunburned.

Come on now, get it over with.

Vindt turned his gaze to the Singer. Silhorveen’s crimson robes with their twisted dark lines flowed down his body as he watched the spectacle in the valley. There was no breeze, his long dark hair a still mass. The seething hatred the tall lean figure used to incite had dulled into a sense of inevitability, like facing a natural calamity humans had no choice but to endure. These days, laying eyes on Silhorveen mainly triggered a fierce desire to protect him. The feeling was not Vindt’s, but imposed upon him by the magic embedded in the bracelet around his right wrist. It made the sensation no less real. As real as the disgust in its wake, the awareness of his impotence.

The dozen Guzzar soldiers who surrounded Silhorveen’s own small retinue didn’t look happy either. Vindt pitied them. The Singer might win their war for them, but that did nothing for their feelings toward him.

No, he envied them. They surely had their ties, money, a contract, loyalty, love for their country. But they had a choice.

Vindt’s horse stamped its feet and shook its head against the flies. He patted its neck. Poor thing; it suffered from the heat too. In the valley, ranks had broken by now. The two armies were penetrating each other like eager lovers.

Vindt wondered what they were thinking. They must be aware their doom stood here on this hill, had learned about the Singer months ago, about his powers. He didn’t know if the Sylians had been aware of the existence of Singers, or if Silhorveen was the first embodiment of their dark legends and nightmares come to life.

In any case, they had reacted as anyone with a working mind would: they’d split their forces and limited their attacks to raids and skirmishes. That, and sending people to the Guzzar camp at night, trying to murder Silhorveen in his sleep. The first party had been taken down by the Guzzar guards. The second by Silhorveen’s own retinue.

In a way, they had been lucky not to have gotten to him. They were dead, of course, but the Singer would have done worse than just kill them. Vindt had witnessed it only once in the past decade, enough not to want to experience it again.

Now that the Guzzar general had cornered the Sylian army in this valley, their last chance was trying to bring the Singer down in plain daylight.

Only, it wasn’t a chance.

As if on cue, shouting at his back made Vindt turn in the saddle. Behind them, the hill sloped down into a thicket of thorny shrubs. Silhorveen’s guard turned too, taking bows from their shoulders or drawing swords. Vindt carried a bow like theirs; a sword dangled from his waist. He touched neither.

The clash of weapons from the thicket added to the shouting, occasionally cresting into a scream. Shadows moved between the branches. Vindt had no idea how many of his men the Guzzar general had stationed there. Enough, for sure. An arrow suddenly soared from the bushes in an almost vertical line, its slim shape cutting through the sky’s perfect blue, slowing. The split second it hung suspended in the air seemed unnaturally long. Vindt wondered what it would feel like to be that arrow, finding one’s glorious soar coming to a halt, the surprise, then shock, as gravity pulled you back to the ground.

Silhorveen had not bothered to turn around. Vindt’s gaze narrowing down to the back of the Singer’s red robes, his hand did now rise to his bow. Old habits. He felt Fora’s eyes on him, a futile warning. Fora knew about the bracelet, knew that Vindt couldn’t point an arrow at Silhorveen ever again. That the Singer wanted him to carry a bow during battle was a reminder, an act of humiliation. For the task Vindt was bound to do, he needed no weapon.

The Singer’s rising song jerked his hand away from the bow and put his attention back on the battlefield below.


He didn’t want to watch. Yet, he did, drawn by the song’s dark gravitation and the inexplicable allure of the horrific. The song drifted across the battlefield, weaving through the ranks of soldiers, untouchable, unstoppable, defying weapons and shields and armor, seizing people’s bodies and creeping into their minds. Killing.

The fighting stalled. Even the Guzzar soldiers couldn’t escape the song’s allure. It wouldn’t kill them, only the enemy, only the ones who didn’t want to resort to the help of a Singer. Or couldn’t afford it.

Inevitable memories stirred, of a day a decade ago when Vindt was no mere spectator on a distant hill but part of the action, the song’s very aim, when the men dying around him were of his concern. But he had learned not to let those memories in. After years of practice, he could even now switch off, dissolve into the present, turn into a being without a past or future. Safe emptiness.

He closed his eyes—from the killing, from Silhorveen, from the sun. No one would blame him. For his task, he didn’t need to see. He would feel a Verdur approaching, but the strange sense inside him was still. Vindt was not surprised. The demonic creatures had never attacked them during a battle. As if Verdurs shunned the presence of too many humans.

The thought barely finished, the sense inside him buzzed in alarm. At the same second, all sounds vanished, and silence descended on him like a dead weight.

The cold taste of fear had coated his gums before his mind processed what was happening, before he even opened his eyes again and saw the Verdur. The creature moved erratically, jumping, running, flying, hovering in one place for a second, gone the next. Its semi-translucent body blurred and morphed, disturbingly human and yet not, parts appearing and disappearing, horns, wings, claws, tendrils, a tail. The eyes changed too, sometimes huge and lidless, sometimes tiny marbles fringed with lashes. Their expression prevailed: hatred. Dark, menacing energy poured from the shape-shifting body, the threat to kill.

What? But we’ve never…

Silhorveen spun around. In a split second, his expression changed from surprise to determination. He dropped his killing song and switched to defense. Which meant he turned to Vindt. Singers couldn’t kill a Verdur directly; they had to use a “workaround.” Silhorveen’s voice entered Vindt’s body with insubstantial tendrils. As always, Vindt’s mind fought the intrusion, the alien pull trying to take over his voice, him. The resistance broke in an instant, and his voice rose, entwining with Silhorveen’s, filling the gaps in the Singer’s own song.

Vindt couldn’t hear the creature, yet it had a voice too, an antagonistic flow of something impalpable, negated screams which wiped out other noises like a jealous lover. It aimed to drain all life from him. Silhorveen and his combined voices remained the only sounds defying the acoustic mire.

From the corners of his eyes, Vindt saw the contorted faces of the Guzzar soldiers around them. Their hands had risen to their ears as if trying to get rid of the impenetrable cloth that suddenly clogged them. Horses grew skittish.

Vindt’s fear mingled with his helplessness into a scalding broth. He had no way to fight the Verdur on his own. His voice was no longer his but a tool in the Singer’s hands. The creature’s power, its determination, was stronger than any they had fought before. Sticky silence forced its way into him through ears, mouth, nose and pores.

He sensed Fora’s gaze on him again, like a bough held out to a drowning man. Their voices wavered. Something reflected in Silhorveen’s face that Vindt had never seen in it before: fear. His own anxiety changed its quality. The Verdur was so close, Vindt felt the drafts of air at its staccato movements, the greed in its eyes, the anticipation.

Silhorveen staggered. Their song fractured.


Vindt’s vision blurred; his surroundings vanished. Aural void spread through his body like a disease.

No, Vindt thought again.

Then silence swallowed his thoughts as it dragged him down into oblivion.


About the Author

Thelma Mantey is an author of dark, queer fantasy. While she was always interested in the darker sides of human nature, the heart of her stories is ambiguity. Characters who are evil because they are evil are not her cup of tea. Instead, she believes in people with motives, in moral being a fickle thing, and beliefs a product of the arbitrary circumstances of our birth. Moral grayness shrouds her stories, thick like English autumn mist.

In all the drama and high stakes, she likes subtlety, the dynamic between characters conveyed through quiet notes and undertones. This also holds true for humor. Her humor has always been dry as the Mojave Desert and as black as her morning coffee. She used to express it in (badly drawn) cartoons before she discovered that writing is an even better vessel to snub people.