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Moon Blessed by Corey Blanchet (Iugeshan Weres Book 1)

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Moon Blessed by Corey Blanchet (Iugeshan Weres Book 1) Read Online And Download

Overview: Many believe werewolves are cursed by the moon, bloodthirsty slaves to it. But not Cora. She’s moon blessed with the greatest partner around. And she’s looking for her maker.

Do you know yourself? Who you are inside and out? Do you know your name? Have you asked?

Cora didn’t ask to become a werewolf, but that’s not her wolf’s fault. Instead of fear, anger, and hate, Cora brings love, protection, and steam to her relationship with her soul partner. They have a common goal in mind, after all. They want to find the one that turned them: the wolf with the green-gold eyes. Their werewolf, the one that taught them to howl, sheltered them from the cruelty of man, and gave them new life.

Kear’s life ended long ago. If only his body and his bloody wolf would accept it, he could embrace the sweet comfort of his grave. Still, his furry bastard won’t stop howling for a sound he will never hear again. She’s gone. The brave girl who howled back will never answer his call. At the mercy of his Templar tormentors and their dark designs, Kear endures. But a scent in the air drives his beast to madness. What calls to him? What change is coming? What will it take to silence the monster inside his head?

Topher is a huntsman, a slayer of beasts that prey after dark. Not just any huntsman, but one of the best. So why does he let one go? Is it because of her? Is it the child clinging to the monster so tightly? Or is it the niggling doubts about his order that stays his hand? Topher needs answers. But at what cost?

Moon Blessed by Corey Blanchet (Iugeshan Weres Book 1) Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
Moon Blessed by Corey Blanchet (Iugeshan Weres Book 1)

Moon Blessed by Corey Blanchet (Iugeshan Weres Book 1) Read Online Chapter One

“Papa, Papa!” Cece called from somewhere in the cornfields. Enthusiastic barking said Remus was with her. Cora spotted her baby sister’s pretty brown hair as the child sprinted through the wheat field.

“Elijah,” Mama called. “Elijah, Cece is calling you!”

Papa came out of the barn, pitchfork still at hand. “What is it, Cece?”

“Soldiers, Papa. I saw soldiers in the woods,” Cece said. “A lot of soldiers, Papa.” Cece kept her jubilant air, oblivious to the worried crease in Papa’s forehead.

Fear filled Cora’s eyes, threatening to overwhelm her heart.

“Go, Cora. I’ll get you when it is safe,” Papa said.

Cora hated to hide, but she was the right age where it was prudent to do so. She released the washing and hurried into the house. Snatching a rucksack, an extra coat, and her bow and quiver, Cora sprinted out of the small cottage and into the cornfields. She kept out of sight and made sure not to bend too many stalks.

By the time she got to the tree line, Remus was yapping and jumping at the approaching soldiers on horseback.

“Moon Goddess, keep me and mine safe this night,” she muttered, blinking back tears.

On her way to the safe house, Cora paused only to lay a few rabbit snares and collect a small handful of brambleberry. Under any other circumstance, Cora would have loved to run through the woods. She would have taken the time to smell the wildflowers, dig for truffles, or maybe even catch a few fish for dinner.

But with soldiers in the woods, the air became stagnant. Every broken twig, every darting critter, every passing shadow filled her heart with dread. Instead of sweet pollen, she smelled decay. Vibrant colors became washed-out hues and stark shadows.

Cora’s heart pounded, and her legs burned. Her lungs ached from sucking in gasping breaths. She knew panic wouldn’t help, but she couldn’t stop trembling. The rotted tree stump near the burnt-down woodsman’s cottage gave little relief.

Cora and her father spent months digging a tunnel from the rotted tree stump to the old root cellar under the ruined cottage. Her father had strategically cut air shafts in the floor, so there was never a fear of suffocating. In winter, freezing was a worry, but most merchants and soldiers didn’t travel in the snow. Thankfully, it was the height of summer.

The safe house was kept stocked with a bedroll, three small water barrels, hardtack, cured meats, and jams. If she needed to, Cora could spend a week or more under the old cottage. The musty cellar had served her well over the years.

Her family lived far out in the woods, venturing into town only twice a year: at the beginning of spring for seeds and supplies and again after the harvest. Cora lived with her parents, her younger brother, Seth, and the little cry baby, Cece.

Cece was young enough to be safe when soldiers or merchants came looking for shelter and a hot meal. She still had a few years of happiness and enthusiasm before she would have to hide with Cora. As for Seth, he was as good a woodsman as Cora, so he knew how to observe without being noticed. He also knew it would eventually be his duty to join the Lord’s army, but not yet.

Cora set up the mirror array and light diffuser, flooding the cellar with warm summer light. She pulled out her embroidery and took a moment to admire the beautiful flowers. Cora still had hours of work, but the twisted spring vines and beautiful flowers stretching up the arms of Cece’s promissory gown were coming along nicely. When she wore it during the spring festival next year, Cece would look divine, dancing through the streets to celebrate her life under the Sun God. Cora smiled fondly.

She busied herself with her task until it became too dark to stitch. Then she set about carving more arrow shafts. When that became too dangerous, she prepared her bed for the night. And finally, when she could no longer see her hand in front of her nose, she counted steps out the tunnel and into the woods to check her snares.

“No such luck,” Cora mused. “Oh well. The moon is full and beautiful. I can still forage.” Her bow at hand, she knocked an arrow and lurked through the night. When the wind changed direction, she could smell the fire, warm and inviting.

“They must have prepared a large bonfire for their troops,” Cora said with a soft smile. She could hear their hoots and shouts faintly, perhaps even some laughter. “They are a merry bunch,” Cora lamented.

She would have loved to join in the festivities, but her father was understandably strict when it came to her safety. Cora’s aunt had been sixteen when soldiers found her appealing. Aunt Becky's story wasn’t an uncommon one, particularly in the country, so they took the necessary precautions.

Off in the distance, Cora heard the cry of a wolf—a sorrowful sound, full of pain, regret, and perhaps loneliness. She listened, hoping another would answer, but none did. She flinched as the keening cry rang out again. Giving in to an urge, she climbed a tree to stare out at the stars and listen.

When the wolf cried a third time, she cupped her hands around her mouth and gave her very best wolf impression as she howled back into the dark. It was cruel, perhaps, to answer the call when she wasn’t a wolf, but the cry she got back sounded so hopeful, she couldn’t regret her decision.

That was until the cry came closer and closer. Cora stopped answering when the wolf’s howl reverberated in the dense forest around her. She clutched to her tree and stayed still and silent.

Squirrels darted from their hovels to nests higher off the ground. Owls hooted with an almost manic intensity as they took off into the night. Foxes and rabbits left their warrens ignorant or perhaps willfully blind to the others around them.

That’s odd. What could drive out the wildlife in such a—

She didn’t get a chance to finish the thought.

Branches cracked and leaves rustled. Torchlight appeared over the ridge, and the shouts of men made her heart pound in her chest. She held her breath. Metal clanked strangely, stirring memory but not recognition.

She heard the fevered snorts of a hunting dog, or perhaps several, based on the thundering sound of paws over the dry forest floor. Cora smelled horses before she saw them, which was a horrible sign. “Any soldier that neglects his horse is no soldier worthy of the name,” Papa had said.

A small party, perhaps six or so, followed after the slobbering mountain of a hunting dog.

Chains. That hunting dog is in chains.

Heart frozen in her chest, Cora remembered the wolf she so foolishly howled at. She cursed her stupidity, prayed for protection, and hoped for leniency, but deep down, Cora knew the wolf would find her. He was headed right for her.

Between the moonlight, filtered through the dense canopy, and the speed of the wolf, she saw only vague outlines of its shape and size. And he was huge. Massive even. She peered down from her perch, hoping to get a glimpse of the creature she knew would be breathtaking.

Indeed, what she found stole her breath, but not for the right reasons. It wasn’t a wolf. Not entirely. It was something out of Papa’s stories—a creature cursed by the Moon Goddess to walk between worlds: half-man, half-wolf, accepted in neither world.

Golden eyes peered up at her from the base of the tree. Lips curled back to snarl, but before a sound could escape the terrifying maw, those eyes flickered green and pinched with—regret? When that moment passed, the snarl made Cora’s blood run cold.

A loud crack preceded a devastating yelp as a heavy mace smashed the wolf-man in the face, knocking him sideways with a spray of blood.

“Well, well, well, what do we have here?” a nasally voice called up from the ground. The voice belonged to a weasel of a man with a pointed nose, beady little eyes, and two massive teeth peeking out of a too-small mouth. And stars above did he stink. Cora quickly covered her nose and mouth as she peered down at him.

“What have you found?” Another voice with a deep timber asked in the dark. It belonged to a knight, by the look of his regalia.

“Looks like a whelp,” replied the weasel. “I see a bow.” Noise from the shadows told Cora that her tree was well surrounded.

“Cast out your weapon, whelp, and come down,” the knight commanded.

Cora weighed her options. Really, she didn’t have any, so it was a short consideration. She dropped her bow and tucked away her arrow before squeaking, “I’m—I’m coming down.”

“It’s just another whelp, like the last one,” the weasel scoffed.

Cora’s heart thumped in her chest. She took a mental inventory of her appearance and was grateful that she remembered to cut her hair short within the last fortnight. If she played herself off as a young lad, perhaps the worst they would do was beat her for sport. She could do that. She could take a beating. Maybe then, they would leave.

As soon as she landed, the weasel had her pressed against the tree by her throat. Cora gasped for breath, clutching at the arm as she tried to wrestle it away enough to inhale. The wolf-man snarled and lurched, but he didn’t make it far. Two other chains pulled taut, keeping him at least two feet from her and the weasel. That vicious mace swung at the beast noncommittally.

“Can I gut this one too?” the weasel said with a wicked smile. Cora’s nose rebelled at the stench of his breath; her stomach threatened to expel her lunch. But her mind reeled from the words.

Who is he talking about? She peered over his shoulder toward home in a panic. A tear slipped down her cheek at the soft red glow, much too large to be a bonfire.

“Whelp’s crying!” the weasel sneered. Chortles of amusement rang out around them.

“He’ll do,” the knight said simply.

The weasel seemed disappointed. He snatched the arrows from Cora’s quiver and the dagger at her hip. “Should have begged me to gut you, whelp. It would have been kinder.”

Cora frowned, even as her vision turned black and her skin felt cold and clammy beneath her oversized clothes. The weasel released her throat but hardly gave her time to breathe before thrusting her toward the wolf-man.

She tumbled, landing underneath the stomping beast. In his excitement, he kicked her roughly before snapping his massive jaws toward her. Three sets of chains, each trailing in a different direction, pulled taut, keeping those jaws just inches from her throat.

The chains were welded to a collar with inward-facing spikes embedded in the wolf-man’s neck. Blood pooled from the wounds and dripped into the dark fur covering a hulking torso of mostly human proportions. Clawed hands tore into the ground on either side of Cora’s head as jeers erupted around her.

“Easy, big boy,” Cora said soothingly. The wolf-man snorted.

“Easy,” she cooed. The wolf-man growled, pivoting to stomp the ground around her without actually touching her.

“Easy,” she said again, barely a whisper as she peered up into the golden eyes of a wild beast. The wolf-man slowed, drawing in a deep breath and a series of pants before closing his eyes and taking another, calmer breath.

“He’s calmed enough. Let him at the whelp,” the knight commanded.

The chains loosened a fraction, letting the wolf-man lower his fangs toward her face. She turned her face away from those spittle-coated teeth.

“It’s all right, big boy. Shhhh.” She almost squeaked when a massive, cold nose pressed into the crook of her neck. Hot gusts of breath blazed over her, scorching through her thick tunic to lick her skin. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was certainly surprising.

Cora’s hands moved on instinct, one to each side of the wolf-man’s neck to stroke him gently. “It’s all right. I’m here. You’ve got me.” The beast sucked in lungfuls of air, his tongue darting out to touch the soft skin behind her ear. She meeped at the sudden contact but schooled her reaction quickly.

“The fuck is going on?” the weasel whined. “Why isn’t the fucker biting? Oi!” He stepped forward with that mace already swinging. The wolf-man ducked the blow, inviting the weasel to take another step. The fool did before anyone could call out.

The wolf-man lunged, snatching the weasel off his feet with a mighty hand and tearing out his throat with those massive fangs. Cora gasped, covering her mouth in horror before again schooling her reaction and muttering, “Serves you right for striking him.”

The wolf-man turned green eyes back to her. Blood dripped onto Cora’s chest as his snout poised over her again. This time, the hot gusts smelled of disgusting, coppery blood that turned Cora’s stomach.

He sniffed at her throat again, nuzzling her with his bloody nose. Lying on top of her, he caged her entire body under his massive size. Cora peered up at him, her throat slightly exposed as she craned her neck to meet his gaze. Her hands returned to his throat, stroking the coarse, dirty fur.

“You need a bath, big—”

A loud crack split the night. The wolf-man lurched, his back arching away from the sting of a whip. Cora caught a glimpse of it. It glimmered, almost sparkled, like a beam of moonlight tainted with red. The wolf-man growled, tucking closer around Cora. The whip cracked again. He whimpered, his body jerking with each blow that came again and again.

“Stop,” Cora hissed. She peered up at the green eyes, flickering to gold after each lick of the whip. Tears flowed down Cora’s cheeks. “Stop,” she said again louder. It was still barely audible. The wolf-man flicked his ears a moment before the whip came down. He grunted under the blow. Cora leaned forward, wrapping her arms around the wolf-man’s furry neck and shrieking, “Stop it!”

“What the hells?” someone asked.

“Is—is he ’ugging the fucking werewolf?” another asked in a thick accent.

“Ahh,” the knight’s baritone filled the now silent night. “A werewolf sympathizer, is it? Change of plans. Kill the whelp. Beat the beast until he destroys the brat.” With that, the knight turned his horse and rode off into the night. Chuckles sounded around them.

“You ’eard him. Get crackin’!”

Cora sobbed into the fur at her throat as she clung to the wolf-man above her. “I’m so sorry,” she cried. “This is all my fault. I should never have howled back at you. I’m so sorry!”

The whip came down again and again until hot blood trickled down the werewolf’s shoulder. His grunts became groans. His body was bowstring tight, tensing further with each new lash.

“Let me up, and I can shoot them,” Cora pleaded. “If I can get to my bow, I can shoot the ones holding your chains.” The werewolf opened a single weary, pain-filled, green eye. He snorted and shook his head.

“Please,” Cora sobbed. “Please let me help you. Please!”

Her beast groaned again, studying her carefully before glancing toward the tree where her bow and arrows resided. He shifted his weight but kept her caged.

“Ready?” Cora asked. Her werewolf nodded curtly before whirling around to snatch the whip in his mouth.

Cora scurried away from him and snatched up her bow. She drew instantly and released. Her strike took one of the chain holders in the throat. Pulling another arrow, she aimed at the second. Mass chaos ensued around her as she fired, embedding her next arrow in the mounted soldier’s shoulder, between the plates of poorly maintained hide armor. It was a damned good shot that happened purely by luck. Startled by the soldier’s screams, his horse skittered around, releasing the tension from the second chain cuffed to the saddle horn.

Before she could fire another arrow, someone attacked her. Cora squealed, but a hit to her head sent her tumbling into oblivion.

When she blinked her eyes open, the world around her moved in slow motion, and it seemed to throb. She could feel warm, wetness ooze from the side of her head. It stuck to her fingers when she touched her temple and showed red when she looked at her hand.

“Not good,” she thought. Or maybe she said it. Cora wasn’t sure.

Something grabbing her shoulder spun Cora rudely toward a foul-smelling potbelly pig. And no, not all pigs stank, but this one did, and it wore a too-tight leather jerkin and swung a notched sword in her face. The pig sailed out of her field of vision, making Cora blink as she tried to decide if it was ever there at all.

Trees had fallen sideways. Or rather, they were held sideways, which was odd. And stuck into a rock face of tar decorated with glittering, indistinct jewels. Cora shook her head.

That’s not right. That’s—

It took far too long for her to realize her mistake.

I’m on my back, looking up at the night sky behind the trees. Not good at all.

She pushed herself upright, her stomach protesting loudly. In fact, it emptied as soon as she turned her head.

Cora raised her hand to her mouth when utter agony ripped up her arm. Sucking in a ragged breath, Cora darted a gaze to her left wrist. A silver, braided band curled around her flesh, this one detail piercing the fog.

A silver whip.

Red seeped down her wrist as pain seared away at her insides until she felt numb. She sat, staring at the silver strands that had been carefully braided together into a thin point. She marveled at it. Silver, more silver than she had ever seen in her life, glittered from her wrist.

Hot wind gusted against her cheek. She turned her gaze and found green pools of light with a dark spot threatening to swallow the color. She blinked again.

“Wolf-man,” her foggy mind supplied. “No. Werewolf. Mine. My werewolf.” She reached out and touched him. It startled her to find his warm, wet fur so close at hand, but she smiled. “You’re alive,” she soothed. “Thank the Moon Goddess.”

She closed her eyes for only a second, but when she opened them again, she was moving. Or rather, the world was moving around her. And she was warm. Deliciously warm. And wet. Perhaps too wet. And her arm felt funny. The world faded to oblivion again.

She dreamed. Pain filled her dreams. Everything hurt: her lungs, her wrist, her legs, her back. Her head throbbed with the beat of her heart. She was cold, then hot, then cold again.

Cora dreamed of her wolf-man, her werewolf, and his startling green eyes. Beautiful eyes. His fur was the color of midnight, and it felt like sheaves of wheat: bristly but soft.

She sighed contently, holding on to the beauty and raw power of the gentle beast as her mind let utter agony rip through her.

Soon enough, the rest of the pain melted away, leaving only her arm in torment. Cora vaguely remembered looking at it, staring at it, and seeing angry, tortured flesh beneath a silver band.

Silver. Silver hurt him. I should get rid of this. I don’t want to hurt him.

Cora heard a whimper. Spinning, she found the shadow of her werewolf curled tightly in a ball, shying away from pain. Cora dimly tugged at the coil around her wrist. It hurt to touch and made her cry, but she kept at it. She didn’t want her werewolf to be hurt by the thing ever again. She struggled for an eternity until it finally fell away, but by that time, darkness washed over her again.

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