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Nesting: Demonic Games Series Book 1

Nesting: Demonic Games Series Book 1

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An unspeakable horror nesting within castle walls…

After years of being away, Mihail Vaduva has long forgotten about his grandmother and his ancestral home. That is, until he comes across an exciting opportunity to reconnect with his family’s history. Enticed by his newfound escape from boarding school, Mihail decides to spend his last year of high school in Castle Vaduva. But he never could have expected the horror hidden within the ancient walls.

When Mihail roams the maze-like hallways, he quickly realizes that the castle is not the peaceful respite he thought it was. Instead, he finds himself herded by unseen forces and pushed into hidden rooms, full of long forgotten secrets. But secrets aren’t the only inhabitants in the archaic structure … there are ghosts. Ones that don’t rest and certainly don’t forgive.

Dragged deeper into the twisted madness of Castle Vaduva, Mihail desperately races to find a way to appease the dead. His search leads him to Abe Claymont, a powerful medium who Mihail hopes can bring peace to the restless spirits.

But the evil that lives in the castle yearns for neither peace nor forgiveness. It hungers to add new souls to its collection of the damned. With its sights set on Mihail and Abe, together they discover an evil that’s darker than anything they’ve ever imagined…

145 pages

Chapter 1

The thick iron chains rumbled like a giant beast awakening from its slumber. The sound mixed with the clank of turning clogs and the whine of grinding rust as the old contraption struggled to lower the massive hunk of rotting wood. Mihail had known that his grandmother lived in a castle when he had agreed to help take care of her. He had actually been born here; so had his mother. But, having been sent to a boarding school when he was four, most of his memories had been shrouded in so much doubt that he couldn't really trust them anymore. Vaguely, he could recall a lake, some hidden tunnels, and a door that opened into a forest. Somehow, he had forgotten that there was a drawbridge. And, perhaps more importantly, the castle itself was balanced upon a peak that rose out of a ravine like a rotted tooth. The only point of access was the drawbridge, but each broken lurch made his faith in the ancient structure fade a little more.

Carefully, Mihail inched towards the edge of the sharp drop off. Small pebbles cracked under his feet and toppled down the cliff. He lost track of them before they had even fallen half the distance. What spoke more of the dizzying height was that he couldn't even catch a hint of the rampaging river. The water rushed along the bottom of the ravine, consumed by rapids so that it appeared as a strip of white froth. There wasn't a single glimpse of calm blue. Vertigo struck Mihail like a physical blow and he staggered back from the edge. How the hell did I forget about that? His heart ricocheted around his chest as the thought repeated.

The nearer the bridge got to being flat, the louder the protests became. It drove into his head like spikes. Wincing, he took a few steps away from the edge and turned. The taxi was gone. The noise of the engine must have been lost amongst everything else. It hit him then that he was alone in a foreign land. Not alone, he corrected. Grandma is waiting inside. And this is your home. He would need some time to embrace that last thought, but he was determined that it would be true soon enough.

For the first time, he wondered if he had made the right choice. It had seemed like a brilliant idea when it had first occurred to him. His estranged, aging grandmother needed help, his mother hated this place too much to return, and Mihail was hungry for adventure. Travelling to Romania to live in a castle had sounded amazing. A lot better than spending his final year of high school in the exact same boarding room he had lived in for years.

Now, he wasn't so sure.

The driver had been nice enough to neatly stack his three suitcases in the middle of the small clearing, an equal distance from the precipice as from the surrounding forest. Fixing the strap of his backpack higher on his shoulder, Mihail strode towards them and quickly got himself organized. Having lugged them around a few different airports, he was skilled at juggling them simultaneously even through some tricky situations. No one really gave way to a seventeen-year-old. He was still organizing the handles when he caught something moving from the corner of his eyes.

Snapping his head up, he looked towards the thick undergrowth. This high up, the trees were tall but thin, with narrow branches that started at the bottom of the trunks. The numbers made it hard to see anything within them. Clustered tightly together, the foliage allowed things to hide, but made it easy to see that something was moving. He strained to hear anything, but all that existed was the sound of the drawbridge.

Suddenly, something crashed along the undergrowth, making the bushes wave wildly. A rabbit? As hard as he tried, he couldn't remember if Romania had rabbits. But the option was dismissed quickly. Whatever was out there was far bigger than a rabbit. A bear. Romania has bears.

The moment the thought passed through his mind, Mihail started to slide his foot backward. Each rustle made him take another step. The heel of his foot met pliable ground and he glanced over his shoulder. One more step and he would topple over the edge of the cliff. His stomach churned as he snapped his face back around, trying to spot the movement again. Whatever was out there now prowled the edge, just out of view, pacing back and forth. He couldn't retreat any further. Didn't dare try and move forward. With growing impatience, his gaze flicked between the falling bridge and the tree line. There were only a few more feet to go and he would have his retreat.

Shadows suddenly began to slip across his line of sight. They were huge and dark and moved too fast for him to be able to tell the real shape of them. Within seconds, dozens of them filled the area. The streaking smudges hovered by the very edge of the trees, but it didn't help him see them any clearer. Visible or not, their presence made his skin crawl over his bones. He yearned to know what they were. At the same time, he was terrified for them to come any closer when he had nowhere to go.

The drawbridge crashed down with the sound of thunder. Small stones flung out with a cloud of dust, both settling before the tremor the strike had created ebbed away. The rumble worked its way up his legs as he ran towards his only exit. His hands clutched at his suitcase handles as an afterthought, dragging them behind him as he scrambled up onto the bridge. It was longer and softer than he would have guessed. Splinters broke away under the soles of his shoes and the chipped edges caught the wheels of his suitcases, making them buck and snag.

As he raced closer, he noticed the iron gate. Its spike-tipped edge dangled vicariously above his head, rattling with the promise that it would fall at any moment. The nearer he came, the more barbs he could see. They seemed to make up every place the metal slips joined, and were just as long and sharp as the points that threatened to fall onto his head. Better with a bridge than a bear, he thought as he pushed himself faster. The wood under his feet crumbled. And way better than plummeting to my death. Resolved, he hurled himself under the deadly barbs and leaped down onto the stones of the courtyard.

Stumbling to keep upright, Mihail let his bags scatter as he whirled around. Ice sunk into his bones with every panted breath. It ravaged his heated skin, making him shiver as he scanned the small patch of forest he could still see through the entrance. Sunlight danced across the leaves as a small breeze stirred them.

The shadows were gone. The sound probably scared them off, he reasoned.

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