Blood on the Snow: Chapter 25 (draft)

What was that Archer said about the evening not turning violent? Shows how much he fucking knows.

Then again, Sabbat supposed, he’d not exactly expected this either. Aye, he’d heard Tyburn and his cohorts airing their grievances about Avebury’s lot in the street back when he’d been on his way to Archer’s rooms, but there was a fuck of a lot of daylight between that and the Sinnlenst’s gathering ending up as the next closest thing to a bar brawl.

Not that he minded. He’d been in bar brawls since before he’d been old enough to throw a punch – hazard of growing up the way he had – and he’d learned quick enough how to dodge his way through the fight to get to where he needed to be. And if a couple of Sinnlenst happened to catch a stray elbow to the throat or boot to the back of the knee in the process, all the better.

Where the fuck is Cervanso?

He wasn’t worried about her holding her own. He’d seen her fight. But in this kind of press and with the attention she’d been getting, better for her to have someone watching her back in case one of the bastards tried to stick a knife in it.

Need to find Archer’s brat as well. Cervanso can handle herself. Fairly fucking certain he can’t.

Someone’d managed to get the useless fucks guarding the place to show up and try to keep order – wasn’t working, but meant that things were likely to start heating up sometime soon. Again, not a problem for him, especially given how many of his blades he’d been able to bring in with him,but steel in a room this crowded was going to make pulling the other two out of it without getting ‘em killed even harder than it was already shaping up to be.

Grab Cervanso. Grab Fest. Get the fuck out.


Where is he?

He could’ve run – he must know she was after him – but that didn’t feel right. He wasn’t a coward, unless she’d read him completely wrong.

Then again, I didn’t peg him for a traitor either.

Nevertheless, she still didn’t think he’d run. He’d face her fair and square, when it came to it, and then she’d rip his fucking throat out for breaking Amelia’s heart.

And then I’ll… I don’t know. Fix that when it comes to it. For now-

Something slammed into her from the side, heavy and fast, knocking her off her feet and down behind an overturned table. She yelped involuntarily, tried to twist her way out from under whatever – whoever – it was, and then suddenly stilled as the cold edge of a blade pressed hard against the soft skin just behind her jaw.

“Give me one good reason,” Mortimer snarled, angry as she’d ever heard him, “why I shouldn’t kill you right here and now.”

So he was furious, was he? Good. That made two of them. And she, at least, had a sodding good reason to be. “Fucking traitor,” she spat, the edge of the words blurring as the bone and muscle in her jaw shifted almost to halfway-transformed. “You lying bastard, you told her you fucking loved her and you’re one of them?!”

His grip on the knife didn’t waver, but he had the fucking gall to look confused – as though what she was saying made no sense. “What?!”

“You’re a fucking Sinnlenst!”

“What the- You’re a fucking Sinnlenst! You’re her closest friend – hells, you’re practically her sister – and you’re selling her out to these bastards!”

There was a brief, awkward silence.

Then, very carefully, Viola raised a hand towards the blade at her throat. “I think,” she said, as calmly as she could manage, “we’ve just managed to do something very, very stupid.”

“I think,” Mortimer said, equally as calmly, “you’re probably right.” He took a deep breath, though his hand stayed steady as a rock on the hilt of the knife, and lowered his voice. “You’re Order, aren’t you?”

There didn’t seem to be any point in denying it. “Yes. And you’re… what?”

“Aspiring.” He sighed. “Shit. I wanted to prove to the Order I’d more than just my father’s name on my side. Infiltration seemed like the best way to do it.”

“That’s… not the worst plan I’ve ever heard.” It also wasn’t the best, given what had just happened, but she was willing to give him a little slack given he apparently wasn’t a traitorous scumbag who’d been planning to break Amelia’s heart.

“Could’ve gone a damn sight better.” He shifted his weight on top of her slightly, obviously gauging whether she was planning to try and wriggle free. “Truce?”

There was always the possibility that he was lying, of course. But unless he was both the best liar and the quickest thinker she’d ever met, that possibility seemed so slim as to be worth the risk. And besides, it’s not as if I can’t kill him later. “Truce. Now get that knife away from my neck and let me up.”

“Fair.” He pulled the blade away, slipping it back into the sheath on his belt. “What’re you doing here, anyhow?”

“Right now? Trying not to get killed.” She twisted her lower body sharply, throwing him off-balance enough to allow her to pull herself free. “What the hells is going on? You seemed to be pretty damn involved back then.”

“Internal politics.” He rubbed his hip, wincing a little. “You could’ve waited, y’know.”

“You were being slow, and I don’t like being sat on. What kind of internal politics?”

“The kind where I’m pretty sure Avebury’s lot are responsible for all those bloody exsanguination murders – no pun intended.” A pair of brawlers staggered sideways into the table the two of them were hiding behind – Mortimer braced his back against the wood, holding it steady, and raised an enquiring eyebrow in Viola’s direction. “Tell you more when we’re not stuck in the middle of… whatever the hells this is turning into?”

“Sounds like a plan.” She scrambled to her feet, trying to get some sense of where in the battle Fest and Sabbat might’ve ended up. “Don’t suppose you know a quick way out of this place, do you?”

“Back gate.” He actually managed a grin, even if it looked a little green around the edges. “Scouted it out the first time I came here.” He jerked his head towards a nondescript looking door tucked in behind one of the drinks tables at the other end of the ballroom. “Shouldn’t be locked – it’s a way out for if they get raided.”


“Don’t know. With everything going on at the moment, likely not.”

Better than nothing. And if they had to kill a few Sinnlenst on the way out? Well, they’d already fairly comprehensively blown their covers – what was a little more blood, when it came to it? “Sounds good. Need to grab the other two first.”

“Other two? If I’d known the Order had so many damn infiltrators already, I’d not have wasted my time.”

“Not infiltrators. It’s complicated.” Fest was still standing in the doorway, as was Lucy bloody Foreval. Sabbat was… somewhere. “Look, you stay here – no sense both of us completely revealing ourselves if we don’t have to.”

“Think that ship’s pretty much sailed.” He frowned. “What’re you planning on doing?”

“Something else very very stupid,” Viola said. She pushed her hair back out of her eyes, spat on her hands, and vaulted over the table.



There weren’t many female werewolves in the Sinnlenst. There were a fuck of a lot fewer of them who’d vault an overturned table in the middle of a full-on brawl.

She’s not dead. Good. Doubt Archer would’ve been exactly pleased with me if I’d let her get her head caved in by some opportunistic bastard.

He’d not have been exactly pleased with himself either, if he was honest. She’d saved his life back in the alleyway, for all he’d not admit as much in her hearing, and that was the kind of thing that didn’t sit easy if you didn’t balance the scales somehow.

Where the fuck’s she going, anyhow? Nearest door’s not-

And then his eyes focused on the pair of figures at the far end of the room, and he hissed a string of cant curses that would’ve blown his cover to splinters if anyone’d been paying enough attention to hear them.

Archer’s brat, all but arm-in-arm with the Foreval bitch. Fuck.

Explained where Cervanso was headed, at least. Problem was, Foreval wasn’t exactly likely to let her latest prize go without a fight.

And Cervanso’s not shadow arm enough to know the half of what that woman’s got up her sleeves. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

She wasn’t going to thank him for this. Matter of fact, she was probably going to try and lamp him.

But at least she’d be alive to do it.


This is a stupid idea.

This is a really stupid idea.

But right now it’s the only one I’ve got.

She ducked sideways, dodging past a group of Sinnlenst who seemed to be trying to pull a pair of fighters apart (with very little success, unless you counted ‘getting themselves punched in the process’), and very narrowly avoided running straight into the back of another knot of combatants, this time pretty much all engaged in kicking seven hells out of some poor bastard who’d ended up on the floor at some point in the melee.

Five on one’s not exactly fair. Then again, they’re Sinnlenst. What the hells do any of them know about fairness?

Someone made a grab for her – she dodged again, lashed out, and was rewarded with a yelp of pain and a sudden clear space in front of her. Foreval and Fest still hadn’t moved, and she was so damn close she could almost swear Fest would recognise her in the crowd, assuming he still had his own mind enough to do so, and-

For the second time that night, someone cannoned into her from the side and sent her sprawling.

“Fuck!” She jabbed an elbow sideways into her assailant’s ribcage, jerking herself back and away from him before he could repeat Mortimer’s trick with the knife, and followed it up with an open palm to his forehead, slamming his head backwards hard enough she swore she heard something crack. “Fuck off!”

“Fuck you, Cervanso! I’m tryin’ t’fuckin’ help you!”

…Oh hells. She rolled over, sat up, and blew out a breath that was equal parts irritation and relief. “Is that your idea of helping?”

“Better’n lettin’ you get yourself killed on account of Foreval blowin’ your fuckin’ head off,” Sabbat retorted, sitting up and rubbing the back of his neck with one bloodstained hand. He glared at her, though the expression seemed to have a deal more concern mixed in with it than she’d have expected from him. “You tryin’ t’break my sixdamn neck?”

“I didn’t know it was you! Next time you want to warn me about something, try sodding yelling or something.”

“Oh aye. ‘cause that’d work so fuckin’ well when we’re both s’pposed t’be undercover.”

Point. “Pretty damn sure there’re ways other than attacking me.”

“Ain’t as if y’were givin’ me much of a bloody choice.” He spat. “Assumin’ y’want the red-eye brat back, that ain’t the way t’do it.”

“And you’ve got a better idea? I’m all ears.”

“I-” He stopped mid-sentence, eyes widening suddenly as he stared over her left shoulder. “Fuck.

“What’s-” And then she took a breath, and the smell hit her like an avalanche.

Decay. Rot. Sweetness and putrefaction. Cheap damn cologne that’s not covering a damn thing. And something wrong – like a hole in the world, if holes in the world had a scent. And all of that all riding under a scent that used to be a person, but with every bit of the warmth and life and breath hollowed out of it and replaced with something that Should Not Be.

I know who that scent is. I know what that scent is.

“Ancestors and spirits preserve us,” she whispered, and hardly realised she’d said the words out loud. “That’s Caine.”


The last time Sabbat had seen Caine, it’d been on a rooftop in the middle of the night, in a blizzard, and he’d looked like something out of a nightmare. Under gaslights, in a fancy ballroom, he looked worse.

Part of that was the acid. He’d healed some – Turned were a kind of vampire, after all, and that came with the species – but Sabbat’d thrown the entire bottle into his face, and the results weren’t anything near what anyone’d call pretty.

Most of it, though, was whatever the Sinnlenst had done to create him. He’d been a big man in life, but the thing loomed like it was twice the size, all teeth and claws and the stink of rotting meat, and the shadows seemed to boil up around him as he walked into the room.

And then he smiled, and somehow that made it fucking worse.

“That’s Caine,” Cervanso whispered again, as though she couldn’t quite believe what she was saying. She leaned forward, lowering her voice even further. “What the hells do we do now?”

Fucked if I know. He wanted to tell her to fight. Fuck, he wanted to stand up and challenge the bastard right here and now – tell him to come and have a go if he thought he was fucking hard enough.

Problem was, he knew exactly how that ended. And it didn’t end anywhere fucking good.

“Get th’fuck out of here,” he said, as quietly as he could. “Ain’t a fight we can win.”

She blinked, but didn’t question it, which immediately put her up another rung in his estimation. “We need to get to Fest first. I’m not leaving him behind.”

Easier said than done. But Archer’d be disappointed in him if he didn’t bring the brat back as well, and Cervanso’d likely refuse to go if he told her to leave Fest behind. Or, worse, charge off to try and save him by herself and end up getting herself killed anyway. Why do I keep ending up having to play the fucking hero?

“Need t’get Foreval away from him. Far as I know, she needs t’be nearby for her fuckin’ sorcery t’work.” The Order hadn’t managed to get as much information on Foreval as they’d like, given how sodding dangerous she was, but that’d seemed enough of a constant in most of the cases they’d seen that it was worth using. Better than nothing, anyhow.

She nodded. “Distraction?”

Quicker than most, that. Knew there was a reason I liked her. “Aye.”

“Better do it quick, then.” She swallowed, hard. “He’s coming this way.”

He felt the unfrozen corner of his mouth twisting upwards in sudden elation. Aye, he couldn’t take Caine head-on at the moment – even he had to admit the bastard was too strong for that – but this was something he could do. Dangerous, possibly suicidally so, but a fuck of a lot better than sitting around doing nothing.

“I’ll go fer Foreval. You grab Fest.”

Cervanso nodded. “There’s a back door. Far left corner, shouldn’t be locked. Worst case scenario, I’ve got my picks.”

“Makes two of us.” He dropped a hand to the box, pressing it flat against his skin in the hopes that whatever magic it was doing would hold for the rest of the evening. Going to be paying for this for a week. Least I’ve got a fair supply of Smoke on hand for that. “Ready?”

“Ready.” She grinned, baring her fangs. “Go?”



Viola didn’t need to be told twice. She pushed off from the stone flags, leapt forward, and landed already in the middle of a sprint, letting her momentum carry her straight through the middle of a staring crowd of Sinnlenst who’d somehow managed to stay out of the fight and towards the two vampires still standing like wax models under the high arched doorway of the main entrance.

To her right, she caught a glimpse of Sabbat making his own way through the mob, ducking and weaving between the fighters in a way that almost would’ve been graceful if it wasn’t for the trail of doubled-over or bleeding Sinnlenst he was leaving in his wake. He was better at this than she was, and she acknowledged the fact, but he was also human – his experience balanced with her raw power and speed enough that they were practically keeping pace.

This feels… it feels like hunting with a pack again. Gods, I’ve missed this!

Ahead of her, she saw Fest’s eyes widen in what she hoped was recognition. Foreval, thank the Ancestors, had her eyes shut – her lips were moving as though she was muttering a prayer, but the pressure in the air around the two of them suggested that she had a good deal more earthly matters in mind.

No turning back now.

The skin on her face and hands was itching, as though she’d rolled into a patch of nettles. She risked a glance down at her hand, and swallowed a yelp of surprise as bright beads of blood welled up from the pores, small at first but growing larger and larger as she watched.

That’s a problem.

It wasn’t unheard of – magicians got nosebleeds from workings on the regular, and blood-sweat was a step or two up from that – but it didn’t herald anything good about whatever it was Foreval was doing.

Just means we need to stop her before she finishes…whatever this is.

They broke through the last ranks of the crowd at the same time. She looked across, winced when she caught sight of the blood pouring down his face – then laughed out loud as she blinked the gore out of her own eyes, suddenly realising she must look equally as horrific. This was a hunt, then, warpaint and all.

“Hoi!” Sabbat yelled, his voice carrying clear across the remaining space between the two of them and the two vampires.

Fest blinked. Foreval opened her eyes. And several things happened in very quick succession.


Fest wasn’t sure where he was.

This, in and of itself, wasn’t that surprising. He had the impression he’d not known where he was a lot recently, and, if he’d been feeling a little more awake and engaged with the world, that would probably have been something which would have caused him a good deal more concern.

What was surprising, though, was that this time he had company.

He wasn’t entirely sure why the company in question looked quite so angry, though. Although…


She didn’t seem to be listening. Probably, he realised, because something very large and entirely made of teeth was coming their way very very fast, and it didn’t look to be in the mood for talking.

Oh well. Not a problem. Fest knew how to handle that kind of thing.

He squared his shoulders, held his hands out, and pushed, and the thing made of teeth was very suddenly not an issue any more.

Unfortunately, nor was Viola.


Sabbat saw Fest’s hands move just as Caine’s hand landed on his shoulder, clawed nails digging into his skin hard enough to draw blood even through the layers of clothing. He swore, twisting in the Turned’s grip, slashed his razor across where the other man’s face should have been, heard a snarl of outrage that couldn’t have come from anything close to a human throat, and then-

And then a wall of invisible force smashed into the two of them like a tidal wave, and everything went black.


[Author’s note: this is NaNoWriMo 2020 content – I apologise for the likely increased number of typos]

Copyright © 2021 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.

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