Stricken (The War Scrolls Book 1)

By: A.K. Morgen



Abriel nudged the dead shifter with his foot. “I’ve never seen one of them fight like that to get free.” Curiosity shone in his Fallen-bright eyes. “Why did he?”

“Good question,” Dom said, and then he groaned. “Half a million people in this city and we’re the only ones fool enough to wrestle infected shifters in a house ready to collapse. Do neither of you find that even the least bit insane?”

“Someone’s gotta do it,” Abriel said, as unperturbed as ever.

“Lucky us.” Dom snorted, his nose twitching. His gaze flickered toward the window and the city beyond. “Think they even have a clue what’s really happening?”

“No.” Killian wrapped his makeshift bandages around his brother’s wounds. Humans were ignorant of the demons in their midst and of the fallen angels who defended against them. As far as they were concerned, Killian’s kind didn’t exist. And if they’d come across any of the infected, they weren’t asking questions. Fallen warriors were pouring into cities in droves to make sure that didn’t change. And quite frankly, Killian preferred to keep it that way. Humans had a tendency to complicate things, and the Fallen had complications enough already.

“Not a clue,” Abriel agreed.

“Yeah, well—ah, dammit!” Dom held his grime-covered shirt away from his body, looking more pained than he had when Killian’s knives had found his flesh. “I liked this shirt.”

“I’ll buy you a new one,” Killian muttered.

“Hell yes, you will.” Dahmiel’s teeth flashed in the dark. “You’re the one who stabbed me.”

Abriel prodded the shifter with a booted toe. “It’s been weeks since the last Elioud family left Memphis. Where did these last three come from?”

“No clue,” Dom grunted. “Makes you wonder what’s up, though, doesn’t it?”

Killian could feel Abriel’s eyes on him. “I don’t know,” he answered without looking up. “The virus affects the Elioud differently. They’re—”

“Genetic freaks, as different from the demons as we are from them,” Dom said. “Big difference. Not the same. Yadda, yadda, yadda.”

Killian pulled the bandage tighter than necessary.

Dom glared at him. “I’m just saying we get it. They’re not demon or angel. They’re X-Men, without the badass lair. But still, knowing what they’re doing here would be nice.” He pointed to the window with his good arm, serious for a change. “He was determined to get out of here. And the other two didn’t want to stick around to fight, either. Usually they attack anything stupid enough to get too close. These didn’t seem all that interested in killing us. As you pointed out, that’s not normal infected behavior.”

“No kidding.” Abriel jerked a black tarp from his pack before slinging it to the floor. He reached inside the bag again. “What are they after out there?” A length of thick rope joined the tarp.

Now that was a good question.

As far as Killian knew, the nearest Elioud line still capable of producing a shifter was in hiding two states away. Where had these three come from? And how many more of them were out there?

One, at least.

Killian felt the diseased shifter out there as if he had a direct connection to the creature.

“I say we find out what they’re after, don’t you?” Killian glanced between Dom and Abriel.

“Oh, hell yes.” Dom grinned, his white teeth flashing in the darkness.



***



“Get up, and run,” Aubrey whispered to herself, straining to hear the conversation inside the old house. She cowered behind an overgrown bush beside the sagging front porch, her teeth chattering from the cold. Fear locked her muscles tight, preventing her from even breathing too deeply, let alone getting up.

Where was she supposed to go, anyway?

For all she knew, the wolves chasing her had some built-in Aubrey-finding radar, and fleeing for her life wouldn’t make a difference. So far, running hadn’t worked in her favor. She was being hunted down like a rabbit.

She didn’t much like being prey.

She didn’t trust the men inside the house, either.

There was something…unnatural about them. Three times now, the wolves had backed her into a corner, and each time, the three men inside appeared out of nowhere to save her life. They killed the wolves and carried them off, never even noticing Aubrey. But she wasn’t stupid.

Strange men didn’t appear out of nowhere to save the damsel anywhere except in movies.

So why were these three making a habit of it?

She didn’t know, and that made her nervous. They were virtual ghosts, appearing in the dark van currently idling at the corner and disappearing by the same means just as quickly. She saw little more than blurs—snatches of color and large frames—when the men showed up. If they even were men.

Aubrey would stake her life on the fact that they weren’t human. She knew enough about the angel and demon races hiding among humans to know better. But that didn’t tell her what the three were, now did it?

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