Book Hooks is a weekly meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog. It’s a chance each week for you the reader to discover current WIP or previously published book by possibly new-to-you authors. Pietas Sings features a scene from Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire.
The immortal Pietas plans to use his voice as a means of healing his mother, who is critically ill. His human friend, Six, is nearby. Some people are adversely affected by the tones Pietas’s voice generates, and some…die.
Pietas had killed countless humans, but he’d never sung in front of one.
The human would hear each note. However, his anti-emo chip might block the effect. Even if it did hurt Six, as much as he loved his friend, if singing returned his mother’s health, Pietas could not hold back. Six would understand.
Would it affect the panther, Pretosia?
When he sang, birds and insects took wing. He’d never sung around big cats. From what he’d gathered, these panthers had been bred as warriors. If they were like other working animals, they might appear unaware, while detecting the slightest sound, scent, and vibration.
The acoustics might be better if he sang into the cave instead of out, but even with Six behind him, he could not turn his back to the exit.
Had he retained his voice? He’d recovered his other gifts, as much as he could tell, and had vast improvements in his ability to speak mind-to-mind. Could he still sing? Time to find out.
To keep his voice from going too deep, Pietas placed tongue against teeth and made an extended zzz sound, then did a few lip trills. After a few deep breaths, he lifted his head and hummed. Nothing different in the feel of his throat or vocal chords. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Six. To keep from being distracted, he focused on a spot on the cave’s mouth while he continued his warm-up. Starting with middle C, he sang simple ooh sounds up and down the scale.
His mother remained still as death, a slight rise and fall of her chest revealing she breathed. Her white uniform showed less wear than what the others wore, but it was soiled and stained. How it must have chafed her pride to wear such a garment.
Pietas launched into song. The notes filled the air, their tone pure and clear. The joy of it filled him as he sang. Before the end of the first stanza, his mother opened her eyes. He continued, song after song, vocalizing each word of each line, every song he knew. Words full of victory, honor, duty, pride.
Six drew himself up, his back ramrod straight. Perhaps that chip did less good than Pietas thought.
The harmonics in his voice generated pleasure ranging from simple enjoyment to rapturous gratification. Some experienced anger, depression, or terror. His voice also possessed curative powers. Not as strong as those with the healing gift called Smooth, but enough to revive the critically ill or injured and keep them alive until help came.
No other Ultra had such a voice. Though he loved music and possessed absolute pitch, Pietas never performed in public.
He started an old battle hymn about steel and guts, iron and flesh, the wings and teeth and claws of a killing machine. Glorious for soldiers, yet his fragile, scientist mother moved her hand, keeping time with the music. She drew a long, sighing breath and released it as if she’d held it an eternity.
Flushed and sweating, Six panted as if he’d been running.
A battle song of warriors in flight came next. He sang of the scorched and blackened soil of the conquered and the poetic justice of fire raining from the sky.
Color suffused his mother’s cheeks. She took his hand.
Six turned his back, shoulders rounded, head down.
To end, Pietas chose a slow song of war in a minor key. The ancient tune was a favorite the night after battle and it suited both baritones and tenors. Forged in Fire fit them as exiles. Pietas hummed to set the key, then released the true power of his voice.
Tears filled his eyes by the time he reached his favorite stanza.
We can’t forget. We won’t forgive. We must return. We shall avenge.
We never quit. We do not sway. Our enemies–we will repay.
An Ultra’s heart is forged in fire. An Ultra’s heart is forged in fire. An Ultra’s heart is forged in fire.
When he finished, the silence was absolute.
From Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire
What if you were marooned on a barren world? What if you had no food and few survival tools? What if you’d been genetically engineered and no matter how agonizing the wound, you’d survive.
It could be worse. You could be here alone. But that’s the problem. You’re not.
You’re trapped with a ruthless enemy you’ve fought for centuries.
Talk about being forged in fire…
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