Akitis was born as an experiment I did to write a character who by all accounts should be the villain and put them instead in the role of protagonist. Sort of an anti-hero, but more like if we were reading a book from the arch-nemesis' perspective instead. Can I make her interesting and engaging? Can we cheer for her to achieve her goals without feeling like terrible people? Of course, she grew over time and now has a few redeeming qualities thanks to an ally (or perhaps even friend?). On the Dungeons & Dragons scale, I'd put her in the Neutral Evil category.
Quick warning before you step up to meet her: don't call her a vampire. Looks can be deceiving.
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Akitis, the Shadowknives, is an expert assassin and bounty hunter, the nightmare of a world filled with vicious monsters. And with an evil secret running through her veins, Akitis is the last person you want to meet in a dark alley.
The Shadowknives, the character-driven novel, is a dark fantasy story about Akitis and her ally, the vampire Nyria, as they hunt for the cure to Akitis’ dark curse. The book follows Akitis as she fights to keep the Dark Magick from overtaking her, finds allies she didn’t know she needed (or wanted), and discovers a power so vile it repels even her... a discovery that thrusts the most bloodthirsty assassin into the role of savior of the world.
Akitis enjoys her position as top dog of the crime world. A solitary hunter and elite assassin, she has built up her reputation as the Shadowknives with brutal efficiency. Motivated by greed, the Shadowknives will take on any job that promises a good fight and better pay. Most believe her to be a vampire, a kinslayer who cares nothing for the blood bonds that make the vampires such a close breed, but the truth is far more twisted: Akitis is the only survivor of the Dark Magick’s attempt to Turn her.
The Dark Magick: the only magical presence in the world, and the thing that has given life to the vampires, werewolves, changelings, and hosts of other creatures that were once mere human. When Akitis was bitten, the Dark Magick had assumed her to be just another vampire in the making, but for reasons Akitis still can’t figure out, the process went unfinished. Now she is caught between both races and has the Dark Magick loose in her mind, giving her unique advantages over her fellow hunters but always waiting for the Dark Magick’s next attack as it tries to take her over and finish what it began. And as much as Akitis has made the Shadowknives out to be a fearless hunter, she finds herself fighting a losing battle against the Dark Magick’s strength.
When Akitis first runs into Nyria, she thinks little of her beyond her skills in battle. As their fight gets interrupted by a group of other vampires and Nyria gets away, Akitis catches herself wishing to find her again - she gave a welcome distraction to the Dark Magick’s whispers - and is surprised when Nyria aproaches her later with an offer of an alliance. Suspicious, Akitis questions Nyria until the vampire confesses to being cast out from the vampire fold for crimes against the blood-kin, crimes she cannot deny, much as she wants to... Nyria has a curse of her own that forces her to use even her blood-kin in order to survive. She’s been searching for a way to break it and thinks Akitis might be able to help. Akitis, seeing this as a way to be rid of the Dark Magick, agrees, and gains an ally.
Trust is superficial in the assassin’s world, but when betrayal strikes, Akitis turns to Nyria for help - and revenge. Enemies fall before them and Akitis starts to feel invincible again. A lead about the Dark Magick and Nyria’s curse surfaces and they jump without thinking. Akitis loses the fight to the Dark Magick and leaves a bloody trail of corpses behind her until the humans’ last remaining citadel catches up with her and attempts to execute her. Nyria breaks in to rescue Akitis and nearly gets killed by the now-possessed assassin. Still she refuses to abandon her friend and manages to help push the Dark Magick back enough for Akitis to regain control of herself.
Both of them are now painfully aware how little time is left. With no other options, Akitis suggests following the lead to the end, even though what awaits them there is a sorcerer who at best is working alongside the Dark Magick, and at worst is possessed by it.
The two of them reach the sorcerer’s home to discover that their worst fears were nowhere close to reality. The sorcerer is ready for them, and he has Nyria imprisoned and tortured by someone she once loved. Akitis, realizing what must be done, faces off against something so evil it makes the Dark Magick inside her tremble with fear.