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The Bloodlust Power

Chapter One

Loss of Power

The year 6345 OI (Odunti Ikpe)

“Are you going to answer the question?”

Yugi glanced at Kireh seated on the other side of the obsidian glass table. Six ehols surrounded him, their eyes glued to Yugi, all waiting for a response.

“What question?” he asked.

Kireh twisted his wings. “We need Reapers on the Council.”

Yugi pulled in a breath, then returned his gaze to the window. The moon shone a bit brighter, as though it had seen Yugi staring at it through the floor-to-ceiling glass window.

“Why?” His words were dainty and careful.

“The sanya deaths,” Kireh replied.

Yugi sighed at the word ‘sanya,’ his eyes returning to Kireh. He’d been hearing about them: the deaths. The Council must have wanted answers for that—and Yugi would have to provide those answers. Not strange since he was the Head Reaper: the Ehol of Death. He had the gruesome job of collecting souls. But he could only account for the number of deaths—not reasons.

“So, what’s the plan?” Kireh’s fingers danced on the table as he scanned the room. His green eyes glowed in the moonlight, fixed on Yugi, tracking every move he made. He was waiting.

“I’ll see what I can do.” Yugi slouched in his seat. He’d have to hand-select Reapers from his Kingdom, Daun. He wasn’t sure if there was enough time to get that done, not when the Orin Jua festival was a few days from now. The beginning of spring—the beginning of the year, and already there was work piled on his table.

“You’ll need to think of something before the festival,” Kireh pressed. His face hardened.

As cold and menacing as Kireh tried to make himself, Yugi could see through it. He’d considered Kireh as a younger brother—his darker side, so to speak. Although, if one were to see Kireh, they perhaps would mistake him for some happy-go-lucky ehol and not the heartless creature Kireh really was. His ginger-colored hair and freckles stood out in contrast to his sandy complexion, making him seem innocent. But Kireh’s prominent temples and hard-cut jawline reminded Yugi that he wasn’t easily approached.

“I’ll pass by your Throne Palace,” Yugi said, hoping that would ease the tension, but Kireh only squared his shoulders in response.

He nonchalantly moved to the other side of the table, cutting close behind Yugi.

“Does anyone else want to add to this?” Kireh asked, his voice unwavering. His eyes locked on Levi.

“Any plans for this festival?” Adriel’s timid voice cracked.

Kireh brushed Adriel’s question off, his eyes still glued to Levi.

“No plans for the festival,” Levi said. “At least, not on my end.”

Yugi slouched further into his chair. Levi’s deep-set, beady eyes narrowed onto Kireh. Something was off about the ehol. He was the Ọbaof the Central Octeract, a Kingdom most prized by the Asayli, yet he ran his Kingdom with an iron fist, much to the dismay of the Azharanian Council.

The spikes in death were coming from his Kingdom, and both Bryël and Kireh knew it.

“I wasn’t talking about the festival,” Kireh snarled.

Levi frowned at the ehol. Levi looked like a person to be feared. Porcelain skin and black hair that seemed molded with wax stuck to his scalp and cascading over his shoulders, Levi was no doubt beautiful as any ehol should be, but he was strange.

“Shall we adjourn this meeting?” Bry asked. He was silent throughout the meeting, but he’d been observant. Especially of Levi.

“Yes, but I need to hold a private discussion with you after this,” Kireh answered.

Yugi leaned forward, his eyes fixed on Bry. The ehol wasn’t like the rest of them. He was something different, something darker. It was unquestionable where Bry’s Sẹda stood; he was the most powerful among the ehols who sat in this room. He was the oldest, and Yugi suspected that he’d been around during the First Dynasty. But Bry never spoke of his past. He never mentioned anything about his Eholic Clan or dared entertain any question about it.

Bry was unmatched in every way. His rose-brown skin reminded Yugi of the ancient Titans who once roamed Ịtoba. Titans who once ruled the Houses of the Celipha Empire. But Bry’s down-turned silver eyes were those of Nightingalers. Silver eyes that told Yugi the ehol saw and knew things too dark for even a Death Ehol to want to know.

He pulled in a breath. Kireh was staring at him, the frown still permanently formed on his face as though it had been sculpted there. He was waiting for Yugi to leave. The rest had already gone.

Yugi got up and straightened out his coat. “I’ll get the Reapers,” he said under his breath, but then again, when did Yugi ever keep a promise to Kireh?

“What should we do about Levi?” Kireh asked Bryël the minute Yugi left the room.

For the past few months, Kireh had been relentlessly planning the Orin Jua Festival, going around to each Kingdom to ensure that everything went well. He’d known of the deaths, but he refused to mention it to anyone, hoping that the spike would’ve subsided by the time the festival came around. But it got worse.

Spring was coming; the festival was supposed to be a time of celebration: a time to sing praises to the Asayli for creating the realms, but the air seemed off this year.

Everything felt stagnant. Within the last week, there were around forty-five deaths, all in the Central Octeract. All unaccounted for. And Levi, the Ọba of the Central Octeract, couldn’t give an answer for any of those deaths.

Kireh never wanted to ask Yugi to put Reapers up on the Azharanian Council, but the Council had forced his hand. That was certainly never a good sign. Anything that got to the Azharanian Council would go to the Awọn Mimọ. And anything that got to the Awọn Mimọ would make it to the Asayli.

And the Asayli were the last set of people Kireh wanted to deal with.

“And what about the others?” Kireh pressed.

Bry sat in his seat, unconcerned. His eyes were glued to the outside, tracking the moon as it seemingly moved across the night sky.

“Levi’s control of the Central Octeract is concerning. The people are afraid of him.”

“Isn’t it a god’s duty to make his people fear him?” Bry had finally turned to face him.

“But not the way Levi does it.”

Bry crossed his legs, his eyes closed as he took in a few breaths. When he’d finally opened his eyes, he said, “Levi’s going insane. His mind is bent and twisted. His soul, tortured.”

The words bit into Kireh’s skin.

Nothing could’ve prepared Kireh for this. The word echoed in his mind; Bry couldn’t be speaking of Age. Not when Kireh’s entire Eholic Clan had died out because of it. Not when he’d been the only one to survive the bitter reality of what Aging brought.

If that disease had reappeared, then Kireh was at risk. He’d survived it once. He didn’t think he’d survive it again.

Bry stood up, his hands pushed into his coat pocket. Bry made his way across the room to the window, his face pressed against the glass as he stared down into the courtyard below. “Power,” Bry said.

The word sliced through Kireh’s shielded mind.

“But we Age in power,” Kireh argued. Sẹda was what made an ehol, an ehol. It set them apart from being mere aingeals. It distinguished them from the awakeners.

But Bry…

Bry smiled. “The more we use the Sẹda we have, the more we thirst for it. To use it is to drink poison. It acts slowly, but with each sip we take, the crippling effect of it hastens to destroy us.” Bry stepped away from the window. “For Levi to be saved, he must let go of power. Or, at least stop using it. Sẹda is needed to sustain these Kingdoms, this is true, but the younger ones, they aren’t wise enough to know how to use it properly.”

Kireh swallowed. “What are you going to do about it?” he asked.

“I spoke with the Asayli, but I’m afraid that the ultimatum and its consequences are too harsh for now. So, they’ve given me the go-ahead to instruct you the way I see fit.” Bry tapped his fingers together. “I think that for now, it’s best to have the ehols refrain from using their Sẹda. For a short while.”

Kireh blinked. “All of us?”

“Yes. But I’ll have to ask you to talk to the others.”

“But no one would agree to that.”

“It’s not indefinite,” Bry continued. “Only until I can stabilize Levi. If I don’t try it this way, then I’ll be forced to strip their Sẹdafrom them, and that’s a fate no ehol wants to endure. It’s much too painful. Too radical. It’s akin to death for the immortal god.”

Akin to death.

A chill brushed against Kireh’s skin. He didn’t want to know what Bry meant by that. And he didn’t want to know how Bry understood how such pain would feel. There was this look in the ehol’s eyes like he’d been there in a place wanting to die.

“I must go now.” Bry turned toward the door. “But know that something must be done, whether by will or by force.” Then, he vanished.

Whatever Bry had gone through wasn’t the loss of power. It was something far greater. Something much more terrible than what Kireh knew or could ever imagine.

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