Flynn Heath is just an ordinary boy, living a very ordinary life in the perfectly pleasant village of Little Rislin. Until, one day, he mistakenly pledges his blood, honour and soul to a mysterious stranger and before he knows it, he’s enrolled into the finest (and only) demon slayer academy in the country.
But there’s a dark force swimming through the demon-infested undertow of the ordinary world, a king demon shaking loose the shackles that have him bound in Hades. Maybe Flynn’s pledge wasn’t some random mistake after all.
Sometimes, there’s a very good reason for a slayer to stay forgotten.
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Currently residing in Berkshire, England, Alix Marsh has lived in many places between South Africa and England, including a village very much like Little Rislin. No demon sightings yet, although Alix is always vigilant and prepared.
Old Beginnings launches the first book in the magical, urban paranormal series of The Forgotten Slayer.
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Flynn was just passing The Giant, an ancient tree with a gnarled trunk and branches that had been battered close to the ground in places, when a set of claws grabbed his arm. Before he had time to scream, the claws yanked him under the cover of those sagging branches.
His mouth opened, but his breath seemed frozen in his lungs. All he could manage was shallow pants, his heart skipping every second beat, and then his eyes focussed and his legs turned to jelly. From relief. It was only an old man, his stooped form buried beneath a dark cloak.
The man’s skin was pasty, his cheeks gaunt, and the spindly fingers locked onto Flynn really did look like the claws of a vulture or something.
The most dangerous thing about the man was his body odour. He smelled rank, as if he’d been walking in the rain for months.
Flynn didn’t want to be rude, but seriously. He pulled his arm out of the man’s grip and staggered backward until he hit the tree trunk.
“I have something for you,” said the man, his voice deep and not the least bit shaky. He reached inside his cloak and brought out an object wrapped in folds of mangy animal hide. Not the nice kind of leather bought in a store: This animal looked as if it hadn’t been too healthy even before it had died.
Flynn eyed the flea-infested gift warily. “Thanks, but I really shouldn’t— Oh, okay,” he gasped as the man pressed the bundle into his hands.
“The Darswich is your birthright.”
“Like a birthday present?” Flynn asked doubtfully, giving the man a hard stare.
Little Rislin was so small, there weren’t even enough kids to fill the bus that carried them to the secondary school in the next village. Flynn knew everyone, and he knew he’d never seen this man before. “How do you know it’s my birthday?”
“That’s not important, boy.” The man’s eyes narrowed on him. “What are you looking at?”
Flynn dropped his gaze.
“Well, come on,” prodded the man. “Don’t you want to see what it is? I haven’t got all day.”
Flynn’s shoulders stiffened. He almost tossed the stupid gift back, but that would be rude. And, well, he was trying not to be.
He picked at the mangy leather, trying to touch as little of anything as possible. His breath caught when he saw the silver dagger nestled in the folds. The blade was slim, about five inches in length. The hilt was designed to resemble three entangled snakes, their heads curved around the base of the blade. Just below the head of each snake, a ring of blue, white and red stones were embedded into the silver to form a collar.
“Do you accept the Darswich?” asked the man.
Flynn’s fingers closed around the hilt. The leather wrapping dropped to the ground as he held the dagger up, admiring it in the weak light. His heart kicked with excitement. He really shouldn’t accept it.
“Wicked,” he said, flicking it this way and that with a turn of his wrist. It’s not as though he’d be stupid with the blade. He was thirteen now, not a kid anymore.
His mom wouldn’t care if he was thirteen or thirty. She’d still have the horrors.
Reluctantly, Flynn lowered the dagger, blade pointing to the ground, and offered it back to the man.
“I wish I could,” he said wistfully. “Really.”
He frowned at the man. What was he? Like eighty at least. Flynn softened his voice. “Listen, I think you have me confused with someone else. Is this gift for your grandson? Maybe I can help you find him. What’s your name?”
The man stepped forward.
Flynn stepped back, forgetting he was already up against the tree. Enough with the not being rude. He was out of here. But before he could scoot left, bony claws closed over his hands, locking his fingers over the hilt of the dagger.
“What are you doing?” demanded Flynn, trying to struggle free without success.
The old man’s grip wasn’t anywhere near as feeble as it should be. Flynn glanced left, then right, seeing nothing but branches and leaves and rain, rain, rain. It was coming down fast and furious now, drowning out the rest of the world.
“What do you want with me?” He hated the quiver in his voice, but this man was really strong. And clearly demented.
Somewhere above, lightning ripped a blazing scar that lit up the sky. Less than a second later, thunder shook the ground. The storm had broken and it was right on top of them.
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