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Authors: Freda Warrington

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BOOK: A Dance in Blood Velvet
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But Karl kept his gaze fixed on Simon’s face as he dropped the Ledger into the snow. It landed without sound, white crystals spilling over its edges.

Simon and Fyodor seemed to be drifting imperceptibly away from him as he watched them. He knew he’d get no more answers from them; perhaps there was nothing more they could tell him.

But Semangelof was still by his shoulder. “You had another reason for coming here, did you not? You were looking for something else,” said the slender dark angel who had once lovingly and treacherously given him her blood.

He wanted to say,
Yes, I came here looking for God, or a definite answer. I thought I could live without knowing the truth but it’s impossible; you cannot leave without telling me the truth!
He held his tongue. It was useless. Either there was no answer, or the blinding light of truth would kill him... and no one was going to tell him anything.

“There it is,” she said, pointing to the heaped snowdrift where the Book had fallen.

Instead his gaze was caught and swept up by sudden movement. The three angels were soaring up into heaven, vermilion-gold, white, velvet black. Leaping the boundary into the jewelled universe that no vampire could reach; soaring upwards until the incandescent heart of the sun swallowed them.

Karl felt the cool protective shield fall away. Merciless cold rushed in and clung to him. He looked across the shimmering white plain of the
Weisskalt,
veiled at its edges with ice-mist. He must leave at once, before glacial torpor overpowered him...

In the gilded whiteness at his feet, beside the Book, lay a skull.

It was in four pieces, a jigsaw waiting to be re-assembled. Gleaming curved bone, delicate fretted joints. He saw the splintered wounds where the axe had cleaved through it. Karl himself had made those wounds. And the huge eye-sockets, staring sightlessly at the cruel sun.

It still looked like Kristian. The blackness of his gaze watched eternally from those empty wells.

Kristian. That was his strength, that even in death he had projected a part of himself into the Crystal Ring, woken his sleeping flock, loosed the final wisp of his consciousness in contemplation of the single blazing eye of his God...

Unleashed Lilith and her angels.

Is there any part of your mind still in existence?
Karl wondered.
I never knew anyone cling to life as you did! By God or whatever powers exist, I pray that you have gone at last.

Or if you have found immortality in some other form... may you gain the wisdom to let go of your powers, and to let us go with them.

The Book had revealed one answer, at least. And the angels, despite everything, had given him that.

He picked up the pieces of the skull and flung them away from him in four directions, in echo of a magus evoking the guardians of north, south, east and west. The bones arced outwards and fell from his sight in soft white-diamond drifts of ice.

We weren’t meant to compete with the gods, Kristian, my dear father. We weren’t meant to live forever, yet still we try. Still we try.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

A
s with A
Taste of Blood Wine,
the first in the Blood Wine Sequence, there are many friends old and new whom I’d like to thank for their help and support with this book and my writing in general over the years - too numerous to mention without the risk of leaving someone out!

Thank you in particular to my agents, John R Parker and John Berlyne, and to Cath Trechman, Natalie Laverick, Sophie Calder and all at Titan Books, not least their wonderful design team.

Special thanks are also due to many wonderful writers on female spirituality such as Barbara Black Koltuv, Starhawk, Riane Eisler, Merlin Stone, Barbara G Walker, Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor, and others, for inspiring me with tales of Lilith... and opening my eyes to hidden worlds that we still rarely see.

And I am very grateful indeed to all the readers who have emailed me longing to know when the Blood Wine books would come back into print. It’s been a long wait, so thank you for your patience!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

F
reda Warrington was born in Leicestershire, UK, where she now lives with her husband and mother. She has worked in medical illustration and graphic design, but her first love has always been writing. Her first novel A
Blackbird in Silver
was published in 1986, to be followed by many more, including
A Taste of Blood Wine, Dark Cathedral, The Amber Citadel,
and
The Court of the Midnight King
- a fantasy based on the life of the controversial King Richard III. As well as the
Blood Wine Sequence
for Titan Books, she writes the
Aetherial Tales
series for Tor. Her novel
Elfland
won a Romantic Times award for Best Fantasy Novel. She can be found at
www.fredawarrington.com
.

COMING SOON FROM TITAN BOOKS

THE DARK BLOOD OF POPPIES

Freda Warrington

The ballerina Violette Lenoir has fallen victim to the bite of the vampire Charlotte. Her fire and energy have fuelled a terrifying change and a dreadful realisation; that Violette has become Lilith, the demon mother of all vampires.

Haunted both by what she has done and by Violette’s dark sensuality, Charlotte and her immortal lover Karl are drawn towards the dancer and the terrible destiny that has fallen on her shoulders. But other, far more dangerous shadows are gathering around Violette. She poses a threat to the vampire Sebastian and the heirs of Kristian, and their plans to bring all of mankind under their dark wings.

Innocently embroiled in the endgame, courtesan extraordinaire Robyn Stafford finally meets her match as she is torn between the two ultimate lovers: Sebastian, and Violette...

Available May 2014

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