Excerpt -The Black Sacrament
Part 1 of the “Creatures of Fire” Series

Nobody knows how they come into existence. The Ifrit; also called demons or ghosts of the
Fire is their element.
It is said they appear as a column of smoke where murder has happened.
That may be.
It is certain they move with the silence of smoke.
It is certain that human beings can only see them if the Ifrit allow them to.
It is certain they only appear to avenge murder.
It shouldn’t have happened. It was impossible. And still, she had seen him, although he was
invisible to the eyes of humans.
“Are you a friend of my uncle?” Her question confirmed his suspicion. With a smile he
turned to face her. At the same moment he made sure that the people around them could
see him. It would be strange if they noticed her talking to thin air.
“Yes, but I haven’t met him in a long time. Which is probably why you do not know
me.” He offered a short bow. “May I introduce myself? My name is Alexander. And you must
be his lovely niece, Sariel.”
“Nice to meet you.”
Enchanté.” He released her hand with an inner curse. He had no idea what had
possessed him to give her a kiss on the hand. Hell! These courtesies had been out of fashion
for several decades. And why had he responded in French?
“You are French?” He had drawn her interest with his unusual behaviour. It was the
first time in years that he had talked to a human being. Clearly he was out of practise.
“I am sorry, but I must beg you to excuse me. I have business to attend to with your
uncle.” With this rude remark he turned and vanished into the crowd.
Without paying attention to where he was going he found himself in a room, or rather a
sanctuary, which offered respite from the crowded terrace where he had met Sariel.
Sariel. A name out of a fairy tale. And the woman was absolutely... Girl, he corrected
himself silently. She was just a girl. Not older than seventeen or eighteen. Whereas he was
more than one hundred years old. His interest in her was ridiculous.
With a wry smile he directed his attention to the treasures that surrounded him. The
walls were covered with masterpieces. All originals from the greatest painters the world had
seen. Here, just to his right, he discovered a Picasso study. Next to it, a Chagall. And there...
“The Tizian!“ He spoke the words aloud in his surprise. Madonna with her child and
the holy Lukas and Katharina. It was one of the painter’s few large canvases owned by
private collectors.
Against his will he was impressed. Harold Baldwin, the man he had come to kill,
obviously had impeccable taste when it came to art. Too bad that he was also an
unscrupulous human being who had yet to be punished for his crimes.
He was interesting. Though a bit old-fashioned!
Sariel tried to catch a glimpse of the hastily retreating figure, but failed. This
Alexander was the best-looking man she had ever seen. And not only that, he looked exactly
like the one; the lover she had always envisioned in her dreams. The man who would sweep
her off her feet. Who would make her forget the tragedy and sadness that were her life.
But apparently the one had no interest in her.
“You are just being stupid,” she murmured, careful not to be overheard by the people
surrounding her. Not that they seemed to notice. She could have been invisible for all the
attention she got. Usually that didn’t bother her. Since her parents had died two years ago
she preferred to be left alone. Tonight was no exception...or maybe it was. She would have
been glad to talk to this Alexander for a while. He was not only good-looking. Something
about him fascinated her, but she couldn’t say what it was. She would have liked to find out
what it was about him that gave him this special aura.
One thing was for certain--he didn’t feel the same way about her. And he was older
than she was. Somewhere in his mid-twenties.
With a sigh she turned around. She would leave this “party,” as her uncle liked to call
it. This social gathering was one of the most sought-after events for the upper class in New
York. Or rather the whole of the United States. Politicians, actors, writers, and the wealthy
loved to mingle at the yearly gathering her uncle held in his Manhattan penthouse--five floors
of the most expensive real estate in the city.
“Wait!” The single word was spoken in a low voice. A male voice. Even before she saw him,
Sariel knew that it was him. Alexander. All of a sudden she felt a chill crawl down her spine. It
was not an uncomfortable feeling; rather it was one of anticipation. Of...she was being stupid
again. That much was for sure!
“I am sorry. It was very rude of me to just leave you like this. Will you forgive me?”
Alexander stepped in front of her and smiled apologetically.
“It’s alright...I...Anyway, I was about to leave.” Her stammering voice sounded horrible
in her ears and her face felt hot. God, he must think I am an idiot.
“I am sad.” He pressed his hand over his heart as if to keep it from shattering. “I was
hoping that you would find the time to show me around. Talk to me...and make this evening
more pleasant.”
“No! It...I must leave. Right away.” And with that she left, confused and, at the same
time, mad at herself for not staying. For not being brave enough to talk to him; flirt with him.
Whatever it was that a woman did when she was attracted to a man.
She was running away! From him! With a puzzled expression on his face Alexander watched
Sariel as she wove her way through the crowd. He wasn’t used to women turning him down.
In fact, it was usually the other way around. As an Ifrit his appearance changed according to
the image a human woman would have of the perfect man; the man to whom she would be
most attracted. Usually it wasn’t hard for him to use this to his advantage.

But not with her. Apparently his normal charms and demon magic didn’t work on her.
With a bemused smile he remembered the past. It had been years since he had last tried to
seduce someone of the opposite sex. Obviously he no longer knew how to do that. She is
just a girl, he reminded himself again. Good for her that she left. Girls didn’t do affairs. They
wanted love. And that was one of the many things he wouldn’t give her. Besides, he had
work to do. He came to kill her uncle, not to get Sariel Baldwin into his bed. Hell. She was
distracting him. Again. He should be focused on the task at hand, not wondering about the
actions of some teenager.
When he exacted revenge he was concentrated, zeroing in on his goal. Not like the
confused fool Sariel had made of him.
Harold Baldwin was going to die.
But not tonight. His niece had bought him some time. He would return when...
The thoughts of another being invaded his mind. Black pulsating energy was closing in on
him. With a sudden clarity that had evaded him before, Alexander knew that he was trapped.
Among the many errors that made up this day he had been careless and arrogant. Too sure
that Baldwin would not be prepared.
It was too late to escape now.
It seemed to take him hours to form this single word in his thoughts.
So cold.
He tried to breathe but an invisible force seemed to press down on him, making it difficult to
get air into his lungs.
I need...warmth...I...need...
He was tired. The small effort of thinking sucked all the remaining energy from his body.
Darkness joined the chill that surrounded him. Not long and it would devour him completely
until he lost himself in the blackness that meant certain death.
Death. The word seemed to echo in his head. A small part of him disagreed. He would not
surrender. Not so easily. He was a demon, after all. An Ifrit; creature of fire. Coldness was
his worst enemy, but still he would not make it that easy for Baldwin to kill him.
The decision seemed to light a spark of life-promising energy. Something deep down
inside of him stirred. A force he had not needed to draw on in the hundred years of his
existence. But now it was there, waiting for his command. Already he felt a bit less chilly.
A tiny bit of strength seeped into his muscles. Just enough so that he could turn his head and
take in his surroundings. There wasn’t much to see. Baldwin had imprisoned him in a small
cell with walls and floor made of concrete. A steel door ensured that he did not leave.
A small smile appeared on Alexander’s lips. He wouldn’t be able to leave this room
even if the door stood wide open. He was not strong enough, yet. Also, he couldn’t just
dissolve his body into smoke and vanish. The coldness prevented him from doing that.
So far Baldwin had done a good job in keeping him a prisoner.
After a last critical look into the mirror Sariel turned around. Breakfast was waiting. Served
each morning at precisely thirty minutes past six. Even on Sundays. When Sariel’s parents
were still alive they would sleep in on weekends and have breakfast in bed. A feast of
crumbs and laughter; not the stiff, formal affair that her uncle made out of it.
With a sigh she headed toward the door. She was grateful to him. After her parents
had died in a car accident he took her in and cared for her. Well, he sent her to a boarding
school in Switzerland. So “care for her” was probably not the right term. But, anyway, he did
the best he could.
Her uncle was sixty years old and had been single all his life. To suddenly be
confronted with a grief-stricken teenager could not have been easy. Now almost nineteen
years old, Sariel had finished school. She was older than the other students when she took
her exams but the fact that she spoke neither German nor French when she came to
Switzerland had been responsible for her needing an additional year of schooling.
Now, she was free to do as she pleased. Or so she hoped, but by now she knew her
uncle. Knew that it was his wish for her to study business economics at Harvard. He wouldn’t
be pleased to hear the news that she intended to study art history at the Sorbonne, in Paris.
In fact Sariel was quite certain that he would hate to hear about that. Which was why she had
put off this conversation until the last possible moment.
The white walls and carpets seemed to close in on her as she stepped out of her room and
into the corridor that would lead her to the elevator and up to the penthouse where breakfast
was served. The whole of her uncle’s apartment was a universe in white. No other color was
permitted to disturb the pristine nothingness that enveloped her.
She hated it. Her rooms and the sanctuary where Harold Baldwin kept his
masterpieces were the only areas where color was allowed. She didn’t know how he could
stand it, living in a world that was as sterile as an operating theater. He could perform
surgeries here. The thought came unbidden into her head. Resolutely she pushed it back.
She was grateful to him. He had been there when she needed him and had tried his best to
support her.
The elevator stopped at the forty-fifth floor. Without making a sound its doors opened
and released her into the large living room with its huge glass front, offering a magnificent
view over Manhattan. Without bothering to take in the sights because she already knew them
by heart, she turned and went down another white, pristine hallway which led to the dining
room. As she opened the door, she noticed with a feeling of relief that her uncle was not yet
present. She glanced at her watch. She was one minute early, which meant that her uncle
would be here in sixty seconds. He was always punctual; not only to the minute but to the
exact second. Sariel had no idea how he accomplished that. Picturing him waiting on the
other side of the door until it was precisely six-thirty made her giggle. Hastily she suppressed
the sound. One did not giggle in Harold Baldwin’s presence, or even in his absence.
A small breakfast buffet was already laid out on a side board. Sariel took some coffee
and half a grapefruit. Just as she sat down the door opened and her uncle entered the dining
“Good morning, Sariel.”
“Good morning, Uncle Harold.”
With a short nod he accepted her greeting. Then he walked over to the side board
and helped himself to coffee. Despite the fact that scrambled eggs and bacon, as well as a
selection of baked goods, were waiting for him each morning, he only drank coffee. After two
years Sariel still had no idea why he demanded a breakfast he never ate. She was, however,
too shy to ask him. His stern attitude and military-style behavior did not invite private
conversation of any sort. Instead they talked about economics, the weather, her
achievements at school, and little else.
“I hope you slept well.”
“Yes, I did. Thank you, Uncle.” She lied without thinking about it. Her uncle was not
interested in hearing that she had tossed and turned all night, formulating the right approach
to her speech. She still had no idea how to break the unwelcome news to him.
Just a few more minutes. I’ll let him finish his coffee first and then I’ll tell him. Sariel
attacked the grapefruit. Eating would be a welcome distraction.
So cold.
With a start Sariel looked up. Where had this thought come from? She wasn’t cold. The
temperature in this room was perfect; just the way her uncle liked it and was neither too cold
nor too hot, despite the fact that a smoldering heat wave had hit the city. For a few seconds
she held completely still, just watching her thoughts, which was stupid because she herself
should know what she was thinking. With a sigh she relaxed. She was nervous—that was all.
The prospect of telling her uncle about her plans made her jittery. It was time to get it over
“And that is why, Sariel, I believe that it would be best for you...”
“Uncle Harold, I need to tell you something.” Her uncle stopped. He wasn’t used to
being interrupted. Normally, nobody would dare. Before he could get angry, Sariel continued.
“I’ll start studying art history at the Sorbonne this autumn. The semester begins in three
weeks.” There. She had said it.
Silence stretched between them.
“Are you completely out of your mind?” Harold Baldwin looked at her with contempt.
“I...I have planned this for a long time,” she stammered.
“You will not pursue this foolish notion,” her uncle said. “I have already arranged your
attendance at Harvard. And that, young lady, is exactly where you will be this autumn. If you
want to take over the bank one day, you must...”
“I don’t want to take over your position or the bank. Never! I told you so.”
“Nonsense. You are too young to know what is good for you.”
“My father didn’t want to work at the bank and I don’t want to either.”
“And look what happened to him. He is dead.” Again, silence fell. Enveloping her,
choking her.
“His death had nothing to do with his work. It was an accident.” Sariel rose from her
chair. “Please excuse me. I am not hungry any more.”
Alexander tried to force his eyes to stay open, but he was too exhausted. To keep on would
require more strength than he possessed at the moment. It had taken him only a few
seconds to explore his surroundings but this short time had left him with almost no energy to
So cold.
The words died inside his head. But then, all of a sudden, he could hear their echo. As
though they were thrown back at him. New energy began to flood his cells. Somebody had
heard his thoughts and had given him warmth and strength in return.
Careful. Very carefully he extended his senses, trying to find out who had helped him.
It was a risk. If Harold Baldwin caught even the smallest notion of him gaining strength, he
would kill him.
He should have known. Baldwin’s niece had caught on to his thoughts; had given him some
of her strength. Possibly without her even knowing. Slowly he read her aura. Tried to find out
whether or not she knew that they had a connection.
He was relieved when he found out that she didn’t. Somehow she had reacted to him.
Despite the fact that she was human she seemed to be highly sensible. Which was probably
why she had been able to see him last night.
But he felt something else, when reading her. Something disturbing.

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About the Author-

J.B. Brooklin is a german author. Having lived abroad for several years in the US (Oregon, California, Florida, New Jersey), Spain and the Seychelles the writer recently returned to her home country and started writing mystery and fantasy novels. When she is not writing her husband, twins and her cat are keeping her busy.
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