The Curse Mark: Chapter Eight

CAN ANGELS LIE: LENNOX VANDERWERKEN

Kisa Kevser was very kind.  She was patient, and she cared.  Those were the qualities of a pure angel.  But like any living being that could think, Kisa had thoughts on everything.  And she was not afraid to voice them when given the opportunity.  Lennox noticed this.  He noticed everything that was related to his little protégé because whatever happened to her, whatever she did, reflected on him.  Kisa though, was nearly perfect, if only she held her tongue a bit more.  But she couldn’t—didn’t know how to in any circumstance.

Lennox looked over at the long line of homeless youths waiting for their serve of soup for the night.  Each and every one of them had an expression on his or her face that communicated something, a feeling of great sadness.  Angels of the third rank were more in tune with the feelings of humans in conjunction with maintaining an objective stance toward them.  But third rank had fewer obligations to maintain objectivity compared to someone in second, and least of all the first rank.  Those in the first rank were closest the Almighty, and were least in tune with humans, and generally could not care less about them.  Standing here in this shelter was not entirely what someone of his rank should be doing.  But he thought it was a good place to start.  It was a good place for Lennox to isolate the pros and cons of Kisa Kevser, and then from there, slowly whittle away her cons and reshape her as the perfect angel she should be.

“We need more soup Lennox.” Lennox turned around to see Kisa standing there.  She had dress that covered the gems inset on her chest today, and one that made her look more innocent and childish than the other.   He also noticed that the sleeves, while gauze, were long and covered her arms entirely.

Lennox looked around for more soup, but one sweep of the kitchen told him exactly what he thought, “no more.  There’s no more.”  Turning back to the line though, he knew he would have to be the unlucky one to tell them that this meal was over.  Before he could though, Kisa’s hand was on his arm, and her musical voice said, “It’s okay, I will tell them Lennox.”

Lennox.  His name was pronounced Lennex, but the way she said it, made it sound more magical and desirable than how others said it, with the exception of Cara de Vries.

Nodding slightly, he watched her walk over to the line.  It shouldn’t have been shocking to see how her presence lightened the knowledge she was about to give the ones who missed out.

“Extraordinary angel, that one,” said Alona.  She was the manager of the shelter for the day. With long dark red hair and sharp eyes, she was also a human.    And she was a hard worker, even though every day she wore the same high stilettos and tight, face-stretching ponytail updo.  Alona looked taller than Kisa, but if he took her shoes away, Lennox was sure they were about the height.  She turned her eyes to look at Lennox, dark brown, with a glow of red, it took Lennox a moment longer to realise that she was younger than she seemed.  Tilting her head up to look at Lennox, she added, with a faint smile, “And I don’t think she’s in the right business.  Speaking of business, I don’t suppose she could partake in a shoot, with hair like that, she would fit right into the underwater theme we have going on at the moment at Bellezza.”

Lennox smiled sadly, “unfortunately no, she cannot.  But I understand what you mean,” he said in a fair and firm manner, so that she would not think to try and persuade him otherwise.

The girl smiled tightly and it was evident, she was hardly deterred by his words at all.

When Kisa came back to join them, she smiled politely at Alona, greeting and also saying her goodbye the way any good little angel would before Lennox took her away.  Lennox smiled at Alona, there’s no way I would leave you alone with her.  Alona though returned the smile, her eyes narrowed clearly reflecting the endless determination the girl was known for; she wouldn’t give up.  Which meant, if Lennox intended to fulfil his mentorship, he had to keep an even more watchful eye on Kisa to ensure that she did in fact learn to maintain angelic composure.

Outside, in the arid heat, Lennox tucked his forefinger under the collar of his polo and pulled it away from his neck.  Running his finger along the collar, he tried to widen the space as much as possible to let out the suffocating heat that was trapped between his body and the shirt he was wearing.  It wasn’t working.

“Like this.” Kisa reached up and loosen the buttons at the top of his polo.  Buttons he had buttoned up to maintain a sense of decency.  “You’ll be more comfortable that way,” she said smiling.

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The Last Wish. Andrzej Sapkowski.

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The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.8 Stars–Not quite 4 (I was sooooo disappointed in the last short story, I thought they were going to kill each other, but they didn’t!!!!), but it was still a really good read over all.

This book series was recommended to me by a friend. I didn’t think I would start reading it so soon, but then I did. Though because it’s a series of short stories interwoven into a bigger story, I put it down and picked it up every so often. Not to mention I was reading the ebook version, and lord knows I generally find reading on a screen a pain in the butt. However, I finished it. And I did like it. I would definitely read the second, and the third, and more just to see where it goes.

The character, ‘the Witcher’ fascinates me, though in this book there is a lack of depth to his character. At the same time, you couldn’t say there was no depth either. It feels like in this book, Geralt is a figure, slightly blurred, somewhat a mystery. We have insights to his past through the short stories, but that isn’t the focus of the short stories. Not really. Yet also, really, since with each story, you learn a little more about the Witcher, about his choices and regrets. Particularly in the short story The Lesser Evil, where the Witcher had to choose, and ultimately hadn’t made the right choice, and in the story, A Question of Price in which more is revealed about Geralt’s character.

Geralt the Witcher is the main focus of the whole book. The last short story in the book, highlights the title of the book, and bloodyyyyy hell that was some story! (More in a minute on it!) Geralt’s job is to essentially exterminate monsters–demons, malicious supernatural beings, etc. And hence, with each short story, you see him performing a task. He is a Witcher by destiny, and not really by choice–something I want to know more about. As a fan of backstories, in depth character building, and plot twists that tie the character in with the story so deeply, I just drooolll, I really want to see the moment when I find out everything about Geralt’s past. Specially after hearing this about him from a secondary character in A Question of Price:

He knows the law better than anyone else, because it applied to him once…. He was taken from his home because he was what his father hadn’t expected to find on his return. Because he was destined for other things. And by the power of destiny, he became what he is. (At 49%)

Little things like that know how to snatch at my heart and catch my interest. And like always I kind of really hate it.

In the beginning, I had very little, close to no expectations of this book. I generally don’t, specially if they’re recommendations. Not to mention in beginning this book, it was kind of slow, and the switching between short story, and present telling, was kind of confusing. However, once I got into the flow of the story, and when my mind decided to wake and click to the fact that the short stories are related to the little in between pieces that are being told in the present, I became more invested in this book. Sometimes I have no idea what catches my attention, let alone, what the hell I’m reading even though I’m reading it. This was one of those times. But when things started clicking, and I read the Lesser Evil, I started to really like this book. It had my attention that’s for sure (though admittedly the use of short stories had me putting this down every so often since, after all, why should I read all these short stories at once? I felt like hoarding them for a bit!) and I was definitely engaged to read all the way through to the end!

However, and this is the problem with adopting this method of narration–a major plot, with short story intervals–is that the short stories end. And sometimes they end kind of awkwardly or whatnot. Not that Sapkowski’s did. I won’t lie, I AM STILL BUMMED BY THE WAY THE LAST WISH SHORT STORY ENDED, WHY DIDN’T THEY KILL EACH OTHER???? Am I cruel? There was just so many mentions of Yennefer prior to that short story, and
I thought it was a bad thing…..then again, in that short story, it ended well. I just really got the impression that something else happened….

Either way, it was still a good short story, and the ending of the whole book was still good, with promise of more adventure and witcher duties in the next one.

My biggest desire for this series, is to see what happens to Geralt and how he grows. Therefore, I will read the next book primarily for that reason. While it’s not the best fantasy I’ve ever read, it’s not the worse either. THIS main character does not want pity or forced sympathy from me unlike Kvoth from The Name of the Wind–I really didn’t like him, or that book much, even though it’s not a bad book. The Witcher, is just what he is, the Witcher. He’s not overdone, his weaknesses are real and believeable, he is confident, yet he is also not confident. He doesn’t brag or boast, but is modest about his skills. He actually uses his brain too, and falls prey to his own desires and missteps. He has a crutch that prevents him from doing some things, and you know what, he kind of reminds me of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell portrayal) from the TV Show Arrow–well that interpretation!

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The Curse Mark: Chapter Seven

A MOON AT STAKE:  ADRIENNE CYNZIA

When Adrienne woke up the next morning, Cara de Vries had managed to become shoved to the very back of her mind, becoming the least of her worries even though she should have been the most concerning problem in Adrienne’s bank of future disasters to come.  However, even though the sun was gloriously baking Adrienne as she lay in her bed, unwilling to force herself to complete her daily pre-bar opening routine, Adrienne could only think about the events of the night before.  She was here.  Selene was here, or as she went by here, Cynthia Kaminski, well known model.

Groaning, she rubbed her temples, blinking up at the plain cream ceiling.  Part of the ceiling was peeling to her left, tucked away in a corner that it was almost barely noticeable.  If you weren’t lying on the bed like Adrienne was, you wouldn’t have noticed it.  But right now, all Adrienne seemed to want to do was to stare at this imperfection on her ceiling.  Stare and stare until it became the bane of her existence forcing her out of her bed and into work clothes.  She wanted this imperfection gone, and while she wasn’t much of a handyman, she could fix a wall. It couldn’t be that hard.  So long as it was fixed, and the blemish was finally gone after living here for such a long time.

This was how Algor Rosenberg found her a few hours later when he arrived at the bar to help with the pre-bar opening routine.  He had just walked in downstairs when he heard a string of angry French swear words explode from above, and with one glance around, it was obvious that there was no one else around.  With no other indication of any other living soul within the building, Algor took it as Adrienne getting mad over some home project or another.   This was unusual, since Adrienne rarely partook in personal home projects alone, let alone by herself.  They were just not something she was good at, yet, Algor had come to realise the woman only reacted in such a way when she was piss mad at something, or distracted, or had a mind that felt like it was going to explode.  Whichever of those reasons were currently preoccupying her mind, Algor hoped that it wasn’t all three.

He was wrong.

And when he walked upstairs and into her room, invading Adrienne’s personal space, all he could say was, “whoa…”

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The Curse Mark: Chapter Six

THE DEVIL’S CHILDREN: CARA DE VRIES

 

Boys, idiots, Cara thought as she shoved her way through the crowd.  Though Cara hardly spared a thought for who she passed by or whether they were even boys to begin with, they could have been men! But well, like Cara cared.  Uncouthness was uncouthness, and what she had seen was enough to categorise and file away.

Sighing heavily, she had no idea where to go now.  She had completely failed in her attempt to tempt Adrienne Cynzia into telling her about Lennox Vanderwerken.

Making her way to the best hotel in the city (it was so much classier to call it a town, though it looked more liked the city she had grown up in over two hundred years ago, and not at all like a city that existed in the present day), Cara charmed her way into a very last minute, upper class hotel room.   With a flick of her hair, and a flash of a smile, Cara was booked in and at a fine price too.  Even if she earned enough and had enough savings for several times over, there was no need for her to waste it on accommodation, was there?  But then, her own place would be nice.  And if she was truly honest with herself, she technically did not have that much in savings, not with her frivolous attitude to life.

As she took the keycard from the receptionist, the woman said, “I love your outfit.”

Blinking, Cara smiled, “thank you, perfect isn’t it?” She said twirling around once elegantly, showing off the Victorian era dress.   Although Cara’s head was tilted to the side looking down at her dress, she was not actually doing that.  It was just anyone who was within her vicinity who was affected by her illusion who saw what she wanted them to see, including the fact that she currently looked ten years older, slightly taller, and was twirling around.  In reality, she was merely standing there, smiling with the keycard in her hand ready to leave.

Waiting out the receptionist’s awe, Cara politely took the compliments and said, “custom made,” when the woman asked where Cara had gotten such a dress.  She had had it for years, along with a closet full of similar dresses in different shades.

“It’s amazing,” said the woman in awe.

“Yes, it is,” she said with a hint of impatience in her voice that did not match the friendly smile on her face.

Cara watched carefully, noting the way the receptionist’s smile dimmed a bit when she sensed the impatience, perhaps even heard it, but didn’t see any evidence of impatience on Cara’s face.  This made Cara highly amused.  She enjoyed watching the confusion in the receptionist’s eyes, and were it not because she had other, better things to do, Cara wouldn’t have mind messing with the receptionist’s mind a little bit more for the fun of it.

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The Curse Mark: Chapter Five

MURDEROUS INTENTION:  KENICHI AI GRAVITAS

 

Memories were such fickle things.  Kenichi watched as Mio’s fingers twitched.  With her eyes closed, Kenichi knew she wasn’t just staring into some daydream with that usual dreamy look of hers.  It was because she was working.  The only time Mio was ever serious was when she was focusing on retrieving or erasing a particular memory.  Such as this very moment.  Leaning back against the cushy back of the booth, Kenichi’s violet eyes flickered between his imouto and her client.

The Fae Prince was not one of Mio’s usual customers.  He fell into the rare category; a kind of man who requested the removal of his own memories as opposed to someone else’s.

Selfish or selfless?  Kenichi considered the Prince.  He knew the man was a prince; the fool’s wings were poking out from underneath his polo shirt.  Kenichi had noticed.  Fae ranks were recognisable based on the colour and transparency of their wings.  Although Kenichi would not be what one would call an ‘expert’ on the Fae, but he was knowledgeable from his past experiences, most of them were unpleasant.   He could thank his imouto for that.

Kenichi couldn’t remember a day when he was not assisting his imouto and not running into trouble of some kind.  His eyes glanced once around the diner.  There were plenty to amuse the eye if one was interested in the colourful crowd that populated Riverton.  But they were not his concern.  Turning his gaze back to Mio, he watched her open her eyes and pull her hands away from the fae’s temples.

“It is done,” she murmured, her violet eyes, several shades paler than Kenichi’s, blinked slowly and de-hazed.  Very soon, Mio would revert back to her usual oblivious self and no doubt she would indeed seem like someone incapable of removing memories with absolute precision.  “Your request has been fulfilled, once you pay me, I shall remove all trace of this meeting as well.”

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The Curse Mark: Chapter Four

WHY WE FALL: BLAYKE FERAY

 

He was a typical customer to Adrienne’s, and yet, he did not possess the air of a typical customer.    Blayke Feray was nervous.  If he was not so conscious of where he was currently sitting, then his knee might have been bouncing up and down mimicking the intense beating of his heart.  Apparently he was not good at deception, even though he was fallen and no longer sitting amongst the puffy clouds of heaven with Cassia and the rest of Leora’s charming crew.  Not that Blayke had wanted anything to do with Leora’s crowd to begin with, it was just well he somehow managed to find himself running into them more often than not.

Glancing left at the woman who appeared to hold the bar mistress’s attention, Blayke was mesmerised.  He had not realised how mesmerised he was until the bar mistress said, coldly, “So you found me.”

Blayke blinked and sculling the rest of his drink, he decided to clear out of the bar as soon as possible, it didn’t look like the place someone like he should be.  Throwing down the appropriate number of colourful bills, and a few coins, Blayke stepped down off his chair and in one swift move, with a brief glance at the intense air between the bar mistress and the new comer, he made his way out the door.

People like him who wanted nothing more than to lie low knew better than to stay in an environment where a major conflict was potentially going to break out.   Adrienne’s Bar, he’d frequented it every so often, but usually he stuck to the wall, drinking in quiet as he frustrated himself over the very fact that he had been in the same town for too long.

Riverton, a safe zone.   If there were beings such as Adrienne and her mysterious guest holding presence here, it was no surprise that it was a safe zone.  But Blayke knew that it wasn’t the only reason why it was so safe here.  Blayke wasn’t safe here.  He was just a tad bit more fortified, but safe.  The secret in his mind was hardly safe, as was the object locked in a box in his wardrobe.  The key, well that was safely around the neck of an angel who was safe in heaven who did not entirely know the truth about the last gift he gave her.

Walking down Riverton Main Street, Blayke felt the roiling unease in his chest for the very fact that he had potentially put his sister at risk.  No wonder he fell.  A man as selfish as him did not deserve to be up in heaven.  He could not even excuse his actions.  They had not been for the better good.  In the beginning, he had been acting selfishly.  One action at a time.  No wonder he was fallen.

Arriving at his brick apartment block, Blayke climbed up the stairs one step at a time.  Looking down at where he walked mainly to avoid the puddles of water that seemed to never go away.  Stepping over a step that had an extremely large puddle of water, he kept his black leather brogue boots clean.  Glancing up once as he passed by an open door, Blayke caught sight of a woman with a dark red bob looking agitated.  When she saw him, she scowled, causing Blayke to quickly drop his gaze and stride quickly past.

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The Curse Mark: Chapter Three.

CAN ANGELS LIE? LENNOX VANDERWERKEN

“Is it nice down here?” The young angel asked Lennox Vanderwerken as they touched down, the feathers of their wings ruffling as though to shake of any dirt they may have gathered during their journey from the upper skies to the hardened earth ground.

“Your father has never brought you here?” Len asked her, turning his gaze to that angelic innocence that was familiar with all young angels.

“Oh no, he felt it was…corrupting, the influence of mortals, felt they were too emotional,” she said in a voice that was like honey.  It was a lovely voice, suitable for singing, being a little low but not alluringly low.

Lennox huffed, so corrupting, yet they still assign you to me for the mere purpose of eliminating the emotional tendencies you’re already showing.  “I would not like to contradict your father’s words, for they are very true.  As protectors of such delicate creatures, we cannot be excessive in our selfish desires.” He scanned Riverton’s grand fountain.  In the night, it was alight with the lights that edged the circular stone base.  “However, Kisa, he can be incorrect sometimes.”

“Incorrect?”    Kisa asked, a frown creasing her forehead.  Len had heard all about her history when she had been assigned to him.

“Yes, incorrect,” he said as he turned his head, spying a cosy motel for them to rest.   “Come, we must find some accommodation.”

“Accommodation, we must…rent?”  Kisa’s eyes were wide in surprise at this new understanding.  Len frowned, she did not know? She did not understand? Or was it because she had never actually rented before?

“When you were travelling around the world, did you not rent places with your companions?” He said gesturing with one hand for them to walk over to the motel he had seen.  While Kisa was wearing a thin white dress looking relatively modern, Len knew he looked out of place.  Carrying a large blade on his back, he was wearing a set of white robes, the kind that was popular in heaven.

“Um, not really,” she said, running a hand through her hair.  The sleeve of her dress slipped down her upper arm revealing a patchwork of white and light brown scars.  Len made no comment about the scars, he had been instructed to slowly uncover the story of her year away from home piece by piece.  It was amongst one of the things he had to attend to in order to mentor her properly.  She was not…like all the other angels anyway.

Truth, “I see, well since it’s too late to find the real estate, it is the more appropriate option.  Tomorrow, we will be moving in, in a manner of speaking, into the home that has been organised for us.”  Lennox pushed the door of the motel office open and looking faintly blank, he pressed the bell on the counter.  Next to him, he noted the way Kisa’s nose wrinkled in disgust at the quality of this office.

Lennox had often made frequent trips down to Earth for a variety of different reasons but he had never stayed more than a night so he had gotten used to checking into whatever motel was available.  Pleasant or not, he wasn’t bothered.

Smiling faintly at the manager who walked into the office, yawning and looking as old as their hair, grey and lined, perhaps mid-fifties?  The man’s eyes roamed over Lennox taking no note of anything unusual except the blade strapped to his back before looking over at Kisa, who certainly held more of his attention no doubt for her wavy blue-turquoise tresses, before his eyes dared to trail down.   Kisa too immersed in staring at her surroundings left it to Len to defend her honour.  He wondered if she even noticed, wearing a dress cut as low as hers was (albeit covering everything perfectly), revealing the line of five blue gems set in her chest.  The teardrop shaped gem in the centre, right below the joint of her collarbones.  One each side of this gem, set two smaller gems that lined the collarbone.  Now, Len knew the story behind the gems, they were related to her parentage, but he was to pretend he didn’t know anything.

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