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The Dark Magical World of Alamptria - the dead path chronicles

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Dead Path Chronicles:

The Dark Magical World of Alamptria

By

Richard A. Valicek

 

Copyright © 2016 Richard A. Valicek

All rights reserved.

Ebook formatting by www.ebooklaunch.com

 

Contents

A Word from the Author

Chapter 1: Dead Path Chronicles

Chapter 2: The Vampire

Chapter 3: Alamptria: Red Moon Rising—Excerpt 1

Chapter 4: Alamptria: Red Moon Rising—Excerpt 2

Chapter 5: Alamptria: Red Moon Rising—Excerpt 3

Chapter 6: Alamptria: Red Moon Rising—Excerpt 4

Chapter 7: Quantum Heights—Excerpt 5

Chapter 8: Quantum Heights—Excerpt 6

Chapter 9: Quantum Heights—Excerpt 7

Chapter 10: Quantum Heights—Excerpt 8

Chapter 11: Serenity Incident—Crimson Peak

Chapter 12: Lantrinon – The Riddles of Anomptra

Chapter 13: Lantrinon – Rapture

Chapter 14: Deadfall – The Merchant

Chapter 15: Deadfall – House of Brandimoir

About the Author

 

[]A Word From the Author

The Dark Magical World of Alamptria is a book comprised of chapters and excerpts from both past and future books. It includes an in-depth look at the Dead Path Chronicles series and insight into the legendary vampire.

[]Chapter 1

Dead Path Chronicles

Any reader seeking thrilling sci-fi-adventure-action-fantasy stories, unique characters, and fantastical settings should know the Seaton name. This dark, twisted fantasy series is sure to make an impact. Quantum Heights is a high spectacle! One of the best vampire chronicle books in a series. This is a vampire series that’s bound to have people talking. Filled with excitement, this book spectacle showcases vampire knights taking action. Through ages, classic fantasy novels have inspired us. These are dark fantasy tales that will be remembered for decades to come. These are not aggressively violent vampire books that are gory; rather, they are a perfect blend of action, romance, suspense, and an intriguing plot that captures the imagination. What makes these books different is they are somewhat futuristic novels. Richard A. Valicek’s latest book is an unforgettable tale that will exceed everyone’s expectations. Quantum Heights, Valicek’s first installment of the Dead Path Chronicles series, is a delight. It makes you think, thrills, and excites. It’s also compact at under 350 pages, delivering all of the page-turning story in an economical format.

These dark novels strive to entertain. Vampire fiction is old literature that is gaining more popularity. When Valicek set out to write this vampire novel series, he wanted something different. This fantasy has it all. The dark lord has sent his vampire minions, releasing them from his dark dungeons. And the vampire hunter is eager to destroy the undead and the cult that is spreading throughout all of Alamptria.

If you want a quality vampire book series that is not aggressively gory, then this is the dark and stormy fantasy series you’d like to get your hands on. In Alamptria, good must temper the looming threat of evil for survival. The dark forces have awakened and returned to torment the people of Elysium, Koriston, and the other cities of Alamptria. Fortunately the vim of Petoshine and its great wizard Grongone stand strong against the rising evil. To help conquer the dark forces, Grongone bestows three claymores of astonishing power upon the Seaton brothers, who as knight masters and vampire hunters set about defending the people of Elysium and Alamptria’s other great cities. The knight masters are truly epic knights. Though the Seatons are only human, with each successive attack their power grows, feeding off the energy of the vim of Petoshine. The vampire lord trembles as more knights embrace the vim. But not all are chosen for the honor of claiming the sword of power.

Fantasy fiction is very popular. To write a vampire novel series that delivers, one must have knowledge of fantasy writing. This dark twisted fantasy is sure to entertain. For over a thousand years, Makoor and his undead minions have lain dormant, waiting for the opportunity to strike. They feared Grongone’s great power. Yet over time, the dark and stormy forces regrouped, gaining power exponentially as their forces grew. With every passing day, the dark lord Makoor and the undead plotted the day when they would unleash their torment and persecute the humans of Alamptria to take ultimate control over the land, feed on the blood of the people, and make them accept Makoor as their master. It is a bloodthirsty, dark, epic fantasy series you will remember.

When the innocent meet the brutality and horror of the dark forces, they find the heroism of the unstoppable Seatons—a beacon of light. Driven by strength, intelligence, and brotherhood, the Seaton brothers stand tall to fight against the undead to ensure peace and harmony remain in Alamptria.

Quantum Heights is a roller coaster ride. In his original book Alamptria: Red Moon Rising, Richard A. Valicek gave us an incredible story of love, lust, and an apt metaphor for the dangers modern society must face. When a fantasy author produces a series, a reader expects a quality-driven vampire book series. A writer must be creative and tell his tales simply and entertain the reader. Valicek does more than write fantasy books. He mixes in science to give that perfect blend of horror, science, and fantasy. Vampire books such as Twilight and Vampire Academy are very popular with readers. And the Dead Path Chronicles series just might join them in popularity in time. These are vampire books with just enough blood and gore to make you jump.

Valicek tells his story vividly. His wild imagination creates wonderfully crafted novels. Valicek has spent a decade molding and creating this epic to perfection. It’s not just any fantasy series; it is a magical story with unforgettable characters. Along the journey, we meet friends, foes, and a host of unusual creatures and characters. In the original story we meet the king of the woodland, Thius Thumpedor, who believes himself to be the greatest vampire slayer who ever lived. He saw his parents murdered when he was only a child, and from then on he has dedicated his life to rid the world of such a scourge. Mysterious Calista, who holds a dark secret, was thought to have needed rescuing from a band of rogue men, but she has turned out to be one of the fiercest warriors the Seatons have ever seen. The Muskata creatures and Felicia the Golden Fleece, among others, all possess unique powers and ultimately work to help good triumph.

Vampire fiction has been dominating the book stores. The market is heavily flooded with tales of the undead whispering in the dark night, creeping up on their victims and abducting them, and taking them to their underworld, where they participate in their rituals. The sole purpose of these classic vampire novels is for the night creatures to terrorize people, sucking their blood and watching them transform into that which they are.

After saving King Confidus’s life and being welcomed to live with the Seatons, Calista joins his majesty’s assault force and takes an oath to fight for Elysium. The king sends her and his son Caprius, his most experienced agent, on a perplexing mission to discover why two bodies were delivered to the castle in caskets filled with dirt. The most curious element of the quest is why the corpses are clutching pocket watches.

After Caprius and Calista question the owner of a clock shop, who guides them to another city, the two resolve their previously contentious relationship and grow close. But when she reveals intimate details about her past that Caprius can’t handle, he abandons her and tells her that her life with the Seatons is over. Also on the train is an old love of Calista’s, Nigel Goncool, who swoops in to comfort her. Nigel tries to convince her to join him and the dark forces of Makoor.

Calista is tormented by her past, but her love for Nigel quickly reignites, and so, shunned by Caprius, she steps forward to make the biggest mistake of her life.

The vampire twilight sizzles as it did years earlier when Calista and Nigel met in the city of Koriston. She befriended him and his Goncool brothers. Their band grew to twenty-five men, and they spent their time frequenting pubs and drinking ale. After some time, Calista and Nigel fell in love. But, unbeknownst to her, the Goncools weren’t only interested in merrymaking; they were in fact a notorious bunch who were plotting against Queen Amenova of Koriston to infect her and her people with the blood of Makoor. For months they planned and schemed. When Calista learned what the Goncools intended, she abandoned them, including Nigel, and went into hiding, wanting no part of such a diabolical scheme. When the Goncools’ plans were foiled, nine were set to be hanged, others were imprisoned, and two managed to escape. This incident became known in Koriston’s history as The Goncool Affair. But this was only a minor deterrent, for they would have their revenge.

Caprius had wanted to accompany his wife, Melina Hampshire, on the long and dangerous journey to Castle Petoshine, where the great wizard Grongone would care for their unborn son, the child of the prophecy. Yet because he is the king’s most trusted knight, he is chosen to accompany Calista on this mission of great importance. His devotion to his wife wanes when he and Calista develop feelings for one another. When Calista reveals her dark secret, initially Caprius is shaken and angry, which causes her to consider betraying him, but as the mission progresses, Calista reinvigorates her dedication to the kingdom and proves herself worthy. After a fierce battle against hundreds of vampires, in which she fights valiantly, Caprius forgives her and sees that Calista is indeed worthy of becoming a knight master.

The underworld is out for blood in book two of this classic fantasy series. As they traverse the forests on their way to Petoshine, Dragus Seaton, Caprius’s younger brother who was selected to deliver Melina and her unborn child, undergoes his own challenges. When baby Lantrinon is born on the way and a swarm of vampire creatures snatch him from Melina, Dragus’s blood boils. He springs into action and fans his army out into the forest of Subius to find the lost child. Driven with rage and guilt, Dragus meets foes along the way who are equally determined to take the child of prophecy to the dark lord. But his love for his brother, for his people, and for his tiny, new nephew spurs him to continue searching for the child who would one day grow up to slay the dark lord Makoor.

After the baby is fumbled by the vampire and dropped, Lantrinon is found by a couple of tiny creatures called Grumplets, who look after him. The dark lord is determined to find the child of the prophecy, so he sends his henchman Carcass Doom to retrieve the baby and bring him to Mount Drone for extermination.

Off fighting his own demons is Andromin Seaton, the most vulnerable of the Seaton brothers. His relationship with his girlfriend, Fetrona, is in a shambles. To think things over and contemplate his life, he takes a holiday at Hotel Quantum Heights. He hasn’t been a model boyfriend, knight, son, or brother, and to assuage his guilt, he finds comfort in drinking heavily in his hotel suite. But when he realizes he is being followed by the Taughtenslotte men of Koriston, Andromin’s rage flares. The Goncools, who were helped to escape from Zaderack prison, are also on the hotel premises. When Andromin learns of the Goncools’ attempts to rid Alamptria of its people by infecting everyone with the blood of Makoor—transforming everyone into vampires and having the undead take total control of Alamptria—his fury explodes.

The dark underworld is growing. The creatures are determined to destroy the Seaton brothers and slay the child of the prophecy, their greatest foe. But the great wizard Grongone, together with Felicia the Golden Fleece, uses his knowledge and powers to give strength to the knight masters so they can protect the child at all costs and, in doing so, protect the future of all humanity. Lantrinon’s next years must be carefully guided; Felicia foresees that he will be tempted by the dark side of immortality. But hope remains. Felicia will guide him to remain on the side of all that is good and right.

Will the knight masters prevail in this series? Will they succeed in stopping the Goncools and the vampires of Mount Drone? Lantrinon must be protected, as the undead will do whatever it takes to steal this child of the prophecy and exterminate him. The knight masters’ strength grows stronger day by day, but so does the dark lord’s wrath. This is a vampire book series that brings out the wolf in us. With every new sequel Valicek releases, these fantasy adventures woven with the undead of the underworld will strive to get better. The night of the living dead is coming to cause havoc for the Seatons and the knight masters of Petoshine. The creatures’ rage is growing, and they will stop at nothing to take control of this world of Alamptria and all its cities. The dark lord unleashes his powers in these fantasy adventures to seek and dominate a land he much desires, carrying a lust for living blood and wanting to dominate Alamptria and the rest of the world.

Richard A. Valicek is in the process of creating a vampire book series that will be talked about for decades. This series is uniquely written and finely crafted to please any one. The novels are iniquitous and chilling to the bone. Lust for eternal life makes us wonder about life after death. The books make your heart beat faster and fill you with fear. Top fantasy books stay on top for a reason. The best science fiction horror books are those that you’ll read over and over again. There are other books, many of them wonderful, and there are those that are not so great. But once you read Valicek’s fantasy book Quantum Heights, you’ll be wondering what’s next in this series.

[]Chapter 2

The Vampire

He is the hunter who preys upon humans in his lust for blood. He is the iniquitous beast with the strength of ten men. He is swift enough to dodge bullets; stealthy enough to fly into the night as a bat; capable of transformation into a wolf, into a heavy mist, or into nothing at all; and capable of suddenly vanishing in a moment. He is Dracula, the bloodsucking vampire.

These immortal creatures captivate audiences because they speak to the beast that lies inside us all. Our curiosity about these bloodsucking parasites is insatiable. Is it the horror and danger? The overwhelming desire for eternal life? A dark possibility for seduction? Or it is that they can assume human form yet possess superhuman dark powers?

It is certainly all of these. Vampires have captured the literary imagination now more than ever. Dracula is one of the most powerfully written fictional characters ever created, and the books and films in which he appears continue to intrigue audiences. No single character has managed to captivate us equally since Dracula was created over a hundred years ago. Count Dracula’s intention to survive the ages has manifested; he who hungers for eternal life and embraces the darkness by which to draw human blood shall indeed live forever.

This creature of the undead who survives on human blood pre-dates the character of Dracula and in fact stems from the Bible. The character is abandoned by his love to death, forcing him to live alone as a disciple of the devil. To exact revenge against God, he vows to turn against the church and do wrong by inflicting terror in the hearts and minds of all humans. He becomes the Antichrist, feared by all. Any who attempt to rid the earth of him or any other undead risk their lives.

The undead feast on human flesh to survive and multiply. To avoid a plague, the bravest of mortals become vampire hunters. Their quest is to rid the earth of the scourge of the undead to save humanity. Through many stories we see what the vampire hunters endure in their attempts to destroy these disciples of the devil.

The origin of the world’s most famous vampire comes from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. The book touched a nerve with readers, receiving international acclaim and becoming a classic. Today it continues to inspire readers and writers alike and, like its protagonist, will likely live for an eternity.

Count Dracula is one of a faction of creatures called “the undead.” They are neither living nor dead but exist somewhere between the two states. To survive, the undead feed on the living by extracting their blood, leaving behind two puncture wounds on the neck where the blood is sucked away from the living human. In Stoker’s novel, a woman is hypnotized and taken with the count’s charm. The hunters attempt to protect her by giving her garlands of garlic to wear and place at her bedside, as the book of the undead suggests these vegetables are abhorrent to the undead. But Dracula uses his powers to persuade her; once the night is dark and she lies asleep, she senses him by the window. Willingly, she removes the garlic from around her neck. He appears in the room as mist. She opens the window and welcomes him into the room, where he reveals himself in human form. He gently caresses her, and she is overcome. When she is weakened and vulnerable, he gives in to his hunger for living blood and brings her through the transition of becoming a creature of the undead.

It is a tale like no other—a horror story of an infatuated young woman persuaded by what seems to be a fine gentleman but whose exterior houses a beast within. Any who stand in his way are doomed to a horrifying death and transition to the undead. Any human so in the thrall of an undead creature stands on the brink of his last sunset before forever being locked into a world of darkness, to roam in perpetuity through the darkness as a disciple of the devil, never to see the sun again.

Killing a vampire is difficult and has over the years been conceived of in numerous, elaborate ways. In books and films, the beast has been destroyed by fire and by the rays of the rising sun. Vampires fear the crucifix, and movies often show the vampire’s flesh burning at its touch. Holy water is known to be quite fatal to the creature, as is a wooden stake through the heart. And certainly the cleanest kill would be to decapitate the beast.

But now there is a new breed of vampire, as insidious and menacing as the darkest creature of the world of the undead. Richard A. Valicek has created a tale of twenty-third-century knights who must battle against the most dangerous vampires ever known. Alamptria: Red Moon Rising is an original, exciting tale that spans love and danger in a magical fantasy world interwoven with the horror of the undead. The story takes us into the world of the powerful Seaton brothers and their struggles to maintain peace in their kingdom.

Valicek’s Alamptria series looks at the character and mythology of Dracula through a new lens, each book taking readers deeper and deeper into the dark and powerful world of the undead in an innovative and new way. The first book, Alamptria: Red Moon Rising, is a complex tale, culminating in a climax that has never been seen before in literature.

Vampires have taken on their own culture in literature. Like the propagation of the undead, their stories continue to inspire writers and filmmakers to revise their tales over and over again. There is something exciting and intriguing about the vampire that has tapped into the Zeitgeist of each age. Modern audiences are insatiable for these stories. The world of Alamptria will fuel a new reader, one who is ready to delve into the intricate world of these mysterious and dangerous creatures.

[]Chapter 3

Alamptria: Red Moon Rising- Excerpt 1

The original book Alamptria: Red Moon Rising was set in a fifteenth-century kingdom. Although it is close to my heart, as it was my very first book, I drew away from it and decided on a twenty-third-century kingdom, making it a science fiction tale. Here are a few of the excerpts taken from Alamptria: Red Moon Rising, published in 2010 by AuthorHouse Publishing… enjoy!

In this first scene—an opening sequence to the story—Andromin Seaton cautiously enters a tent situated among thousands of tents on the terrain of Shillians Plateau. As he makes his acquaintance with a beautiful female, he plots to eliminate the enemy. This attractive female should have played her part more carefully, for her outcome wouldn’t have been so permanent.

***

“Don’t worry, Brutus,” she said consolingly. “The Elysians will pay.”

“There is a great force that stands in our way.”

“Yes, you talk of the Seaton brothers.”

“They are a menace.”

“You talk as if you know them well.” She gazed at him curiously.

“My lady, I’ve had my share of battles on the field, and I have experienced much. The Seatons are a great threat to us. But if they were to be eliminated…” He trailed off, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes, but can it be done?” she whispered, her face sharp with excitement.

“They’re just three men. We are many. With the right tactics, we can disguise a band of our warriors.”

“What do you have in mind?” she asked, her voice devilish. “Hold that thought, Brutus. I have a bottle of very old grog. Shall I open it?”

“Indeed. It will make for a fine lubricant as we plan our attack.”

She brought the bottle over to a pile of blankets. “Come, Brutus, sit with me.” He sat down beside her and she poured. She smiled at him and winked. He caressed her arm. “Brutus, now that we have gotten to know each other, you may call me Salina.” They drank, and she poured them another. “Now then, we were discussing the elimination of the Seatons.”

“By sending a band of warriors disguised as Elysian peace keepers, men who know the ways of the Church of Christ, we can get close to the Seaton brothers and enlist them in the council’s peace initiatives. When the moment is right, and we have our men just where we want them—”

Salina immediately cut in. “Brutus, this is an inspiring plan. We get political chaos, and the Seatons will be no more.” She smirked.

“Indeed. A carefully created plot can be quite fatal,” said the knight.

“Still, what if one were to walk in and witness the extermination of the Seatons?” she asked.

“We’ll make no mistakes.”

“No.” Salina’s face was dark. “We’ll have to give this more thought. I don’t mean to offend you, but we can’t afford any mistakes. The slightest mishap could lead to terrible repercussions for those carrying out this assassination.”

“Salina, I assure you; this will work. The Seatons will fall into this trap. It will be like a dog caught in a snare.” He smirked. “Once the trap has you, it never lets go.”

“Brutus, you’re the paragon of all that is sinister, and you’re turning me on.” Salina leaned in close to his face. “Tell me more.”

“Yes, of course. But”—the knight backed up—“I really would like it if the two of us discussed it together with Agnon himself. Ah, by the way, where would Agnon be sleeping these days?” Salina gulped down her drink and smiled at the intoxicant’s warm glow.

“I’ll take you to him in the morning. But now, how do you bring warmth to a cold body?” She dropped her clothing and stood naked in front of him. “Any ideas, Brutus?”

“Yes, I know just the thing. I promise you, you’ll be dead tired by morning,” he said and reached for her. They were soon both naked on the blankets, making love like minks. During a pause, he took the bottle that lay between them and poured her another drink. In the next two hours, Salina took six more drinks. Meanwhile, the knight only sipped at his and tossed them aside when she was not looking.

Salina struggled to stay awake. Her head bowed and swayed. “Tell me, dear Salina, in which tent can I find Agnon?” Her eyes were half closed, and she didn’t appear to hear him. He gently held her chin. “Salina, I need you to focus. Where can I find Agnon?”

She peered into the knight’s face, trying to understand the question. Finally she said, “He… he is in the third tent. Third tent from the left.” With that, her head listed to the side, and the knight gently put her down.

“There, now go to sleep. Sleep it off.” He gave her a long-lasting kiss on her lips and patted her face gently. “Not bad for a Bramonian woman,” he said, smiling with satisfaction. “You’ve been very helpful, Salina. It’s unfortunate you’re on the wrong side.” He quickly dressed in a stolen combat uniform and took one last look at her naked body before covering her up. “All in a good night’s work,” he said to himself.

At a nearby table, the knight poured a toxin into a glass of grog. “I truly am sorry about this, Salina, but you leave me no choice.” He opened her mouth and poured the drink down her throat. She coughed and gagged but soon settled down into a permanent sleep. “I am sorry, but you would’ve done the same to me. Good-bye.”

[]Chapter 4

Alamptria: Red Moon Rising- Excerpt 2

Confidus is lured into a bed from within Castle Plaphorius and is seduced by a beautiful female vampire. He feels her love, and he begins to trust her. In his ignorance, he is unaware of her intensions, and his sexual appetite is on the rise, but soon he discovers the truth behind why he was brought to Castle Plaphorius. Things are really about to heat up. And the vampire has her claws at Confidus’s throat.

***

“Your skin feels so cold,” said Confidus.

“There is no warmth in this body,” said Helana.

“Then I will make it warm,” said Confidus.

“Come lay down beside me.”

Confidus undressed and lay down beside her, and they covered themselves. An hour passed by with them in a deep passionate romance. He could hear his heartbeat. But still he could not hear hers. And he wondered why her lips and body felt so cold. For as long as they were in bed she could not warm up his body. Without warning, Helana’s emotion changed. She became aggressive. Her hands possessed his body. She writhed about and gripped him with inhuman strength. He knew something was wrong; this wasn’t passion anymore.

She looked at him with wild eyes and saw the crucifix around his neck. Her face contorted, and she began to speak of great sorrow and pain, as if Confidus were not there. “Alone is my heart. I feel the pain of being alone. He doesn’t give me the warmth I seek, the suffering, the pain of being abandoned. He will not confide in me! I seek immortality! He does not wish to take it. A wretched being is he.”

“Helana, what nonsense are you talking!” replied Confidus, reaching for her.

She pushed him away. Her eyes had gone red like rubies. Her face became a papery shade of white. She took her hands to his shoulders and began to drive her fingernails into his skin. Confidus grabbed her arms and overpowered her and sat above her, his crucifix dangling in front of her face. She looked at the cross and struck Confidus with her fist, knocking him down onto the pillow.

“Get that thing away from me!” she cried out.

On his back, he shouted, “What in God’s name is going on with you?”

Helana felt instantly calmer. “Oh, I hurt you. I am so sorry, my dear, sweet Confidus.” She pointed at his neck, her finger trembling. “Please, please, for me, take that off.”

Confidus began to get very suspicious. He lay for a moment and thought about her words. Then he reached for the crucifix and took it off his neck. With the crucifix visible again, Helana became uneasy. He felt his heart drop, for he knew then that his suspicions were correct. He held it in front of her. Her pale face wrinkled, and her mouth widened. Fangs sprung from within her mouth, and she made a horrifying growling sound. Quickly, Confidus took the crucifix and put it on her forehead. Helana began to scream as her forehead burned and smoked. Confidus threw her off the bed and quickly got into his clothes. She leapt to her feet, keeping her red eyes on him. She then transformed fully into a creature of ugliness and sprang at him. Confidus struck her with his sword, and she fell back but immediately got up again.

“You cannot defeat me. We take what is ours. Blood I must have, and I will have it. Our race has lived for centuries by feeding on the blood of the living. My race will survive even without you. You cannot take away the gift of immortality. You will become one of us; it is inevitable. You, like the rest of your people, will walk among the undead. Confidus, come embrace the blood of Makoor.” She licked her lips. Her voice had changed terribly.

“Who is Makoor?” asked Confidus.

“Makoor is the master!”

“And what are you?”

“I am a vampire, Helana, queen of the undead. I answer to my dark prince, Clore.”

“Clore?” Confidus was shocked. “You mean, Tyrus Clore is your master?”

“No! I only answer to Tyrus Clore. We all answer to him.”

“And whom does Tyrus Clore answer to?”

“The great master Makoor, king of the vampires. Clore is the only one who sees the master.”

“How many of you vampires are there?”

“We have legions.”

“Why do you show yourselves now? Why has mankind not seen you before?”

“We are creatures of the night. We sleep by day.”

“Where do you sleep?”

“You ask too many questions! And Clore grows angry with me!”

The creature walked closer to Confidus. He held his sword high, freed his dagger from his belt, and made the sign of the cross with the two blades. The creature came at him, and he pressed his makeshift cross against the creature’s body. Helana screamed in rage as her flesh smoked and burned. She pulled herself from the cross and ran out of the bedroom.

“Good God, devils and sacrilege, what is this place!” exclaimed Confidus.

He stormed from the room into the corridor and headed toward the dining hall. With every step the corridor seemed to be closing in on him and growing longer with no visible end. Vines sprang from the wall and floor and wrapped around his body. He struggled to free himself and was able to grab his sword. He thrust it against the vines and cut them off of him, forcing his way out. More vines twisted around his body, but he continued to fight. With a last violent swing of his claymore, he broke free and ran. A vine wrapped around his leg, and he fell, but he rolled over and sliced the vine in two. Two vines came at him again and, this time, got both his legs into a bind. Confidus fell to the ground, hitting his face. Dazed but conscious, he grabbed his claymore and dagger and made the sign of the cross. He pressed the cross against the vines, and they instantly began to smoke and burn. They withered and lost their strength, and Confidus was freed. But there were many vines, and the end of the corridor was a black hole. He turned and leaned his makeshift cross against the wall tangled with vines.

“Devils and sacrilege!” he yelled.

The wall began to smoke, and then it ignited. The fire spread quickly and engulfed the entire corridor. Confidus stumbled to his feet and ran toward the end of the corridor, hardly able to see anything through the smoke. He held his sword and dagger before him, which cleared a path. As he continued to run, the smoke dissipated at the end of the corridor. Before leaving the corridor, he looked back, and the corridor was exactly as it had been before, like nothing had happened.

[]Chapter 5

Alamptria: Red Moon Rising- Excerpt 3

Melina Hampshire awakens to find herself in a dismal situation. Unaware of where she is, she is horrified to find herself lying in a coffin. What’s even more horrifying is the sheer ugliness and loneliness of the place, a dark place of solitude. As she walks about, she treks through the surroundings and discovers that she is in a large underground crypt. She walks further to come across a flowing stream of water. What happens next can only mean she has lost the life she once had to the new life of the undead.

***

She awakened and blinked until her eyes focused. “Where am I?” she whispered. She squinted but could see little in this dark cave; no daylight found its way inside, and only torches lit the dark stone walls. She was looking through a glass panel, and she put her hands on it. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she realized with horror that she was entombed inside a casket. She panicked and pushed with her whole strength. The panel swung open easily, and she sat up, her face aglow in the torchlight. Trembling, she stepped from the casket, down the steps to the stone base, and gingerly began walking around to observe the horridness of the place.

She was aghast to see Tyrus Clore sleeping in a casket next to hers, identical to the one she’d been in. She grew dizzy, and her breath caught in her throat. She put her hands to her mouth so as to not scream. At her feet slithered two snakes. She shuddered and carefully walked around them and away from Clore. No one else was about, so she freely wandered round the cavernous sanctuary among the dead trees that lay everywhere. A chill raced up her spine. She realized she was inside an enormous eerie underground land of the undead. A slight wind whispered in gentle voices that called to her. But each time she heard someone speak and turned round, no one was there. She continued walking, hoping to find a way out, or at least some clue as to what had brought her here.

She came to a bridge over a flowing stream and gazed down into the water. It called to her, and she crossed the bridge until she was on the other side. At the cave entrance, high above her, was the night sky with bright, twinkling stars and a full moon. At once, a colony of bats flew past her into low-lying fog and frightened her into springing into the stream. When she looked up to make sure the bats were gone, she saw she was within a rocky dead zone. The rock walls were high, and there was no way to escape. Still crouched in the icy water, she heard the low growl of a wild dog. Looking up at a rock above her, she saw a white wolf peering down at her. She became more frightened and gasped for air, clutching her chest. The wolf leapt off the rock and padded toward her. Rather than attack, however, as she’d expected, it sweetly rubbed its body against her exposed legs as if it were a domesticated dog. Melina hesitated, then reached down and petted it. She caressed its soft fur and began to feel more at ease. The wolf panted happily, looking at her. She smiled at the creature and let her gaze drift to the large rock where she had first noticed the wolf. She saw she was not the only person in this dismal land of the dead.

On the rocks stood three beautiful women in flowing gowns of white just as the one she wore. Melina was afraid to call to them, for they did not make a sound and just stared at her as they watched her. Yet while they were not friends, the women didn’t seem to be foes either, so Melina brushed the hair from her eyes and walked out of the stream, then turned back to the wolf. She tapped her leg, and again the wolf came to her and licked her palms. She was glad to have found such an affectionate friend in this desolate place. It was a small comfort, for she noticed a man emerge from the shadows, his eyes glowing red. He wore black, and his face was partially obscured by a cowl. He came out of the darkness toward her. It was Tyrus Clore.

He reached down and scratched the beast between the ears. “The wolf is without a doubt one of the most beautiful creatures of the night. A good evening to you, Melina.” The wolf scooted closer to her. “It likes you,” he said, laughing.

[]Chapter 6

Alamptria: Red Moon Rising- Excerpt 4

Melina is offered friendship from the evil Tyrus Clore. He pampers her. He offers her food and drink and tries to comfort her. She is introduced to the most bazaar creature. But as evil as Clore is, he shows Melina he loves her. And Melina wonders to herself if a vampire really can love her. She misses her home back in Elysium, but Tyrus Clore ensures her that she will find comfort in her new life in Plaphorius.

***

“Melina, come closer,” Tyrus said. Melina did not move. He picked up his goblet and took a sip. “Ah, still warm.” He smiled. They looked at each other from time to time and said little. “You must be hungry, my dear. Dinner shall be served momentarily.”

Melina fidgeted with her fingers, in no mood for conversation. The joy she’d felt when she first came to Plaphorius was gone. A knock on the door startled her. The squeaky door opened and closed with a sudden clang. A Drogust approached.

“Ah, Cringe,” said Clore, looking down on him. Saliva dripped down from the Drogust’s mouth. “You disgust me, Drogust!” he said, appalled by his appearance. “What brings you to my lair?”

Melina shuddered.

“Speak!” shouted Clore.

Cringe swallowed uneasily. “My lord, it seems there is a problem with one of the Droges.”

“What is this problem?”

“The Droge caused an outbreak against us Drogusts. He has been contained and is being held in the lower chamber. We await your word, my master. What matter of punishment do you decree for him?”

“This behavior will not be tolerated. He must be disciplined,” said Clore.

“My lord, the Droge I speak of has been dealt with on numerous occasions.”

“Who is this imbecile?”

“It is Mischief.”

“What! Him again?”

“It seems any form of punishment given to him is not entirely effective,” said Cringe, smirking in the hopes that Clore would hand down a more effective form of punishment.

“Then let that be the last of it. Drown him and let’s be done with him.”

“Yes, my lord,” said Cringe, smiling with satisfaction.

“Have the Droges be witness to it. Let this be a lesson to all of them,” demanded Clore. Cringe walked away and shut the door behind him. Clore took another sip from his goblet and smirked.

“So this is how you justify your actions,” said Melina.

“On the contrary. His welcome among us has been overstayed.”

Once again the squeaky doors opened and Birus walked in with a tray of food. “Ah, dinner,” said Clore. “Melina, my dear, your meal has arrived.”

She frowned at Birus and gestured to him that she had no desire for food.

“No need to be shy, my dear. Birus has prepared something special for you.” Tyrus stood and held out his hand to her. “Come.”

They walked over to the dining table made of black marble. She stared at the table. “It is nice,” she said awkwardly.

“No, I see it does not please you,” said Clore, frowning.

“It is not that, only that I miss Elysium,” Melina said humbly.

Tyrus Clore was displeased. He raised his voice. “There will be no talk of Elysium! You are among my people now, and you will show respect.”

Melina stayed silent, pouting and staring at the plate before her. Birus took off the lid from her dinner, revealing the exquisite food set before her. “Don’t think of me as a monster. I am merely suggesting you put all past things behind you.”

“This meal, it is my favorite dish from my homeland. How did you know what I like?”

“I have read your mind. I know all that you like. So you see, I can bring you happiness.”

Melina gave him a frown. She didn’t like her mind being read. “Well, perhaps just a bite or two,” she said, but only played with the food.

Tyrus smiled and took another approach. “The roasted pheasant is quite good.” Tyrus smiled ear to ear. “Very well, perhaps later. Do as you wish.”

Melina stared down at her plate.

“Cheer up, my sweet. At least you are in a much better state than that poor pheasant.”

They looked at each other in a stalemate.

“Petunia,” said Clore.

“Would you stop reading my mind!” exclaimed Melina harshly.

Clore laughed; she was easy to tease.

Saddened, her thoughts were on her beloved Caprius. No matter how much Clore pampered her, she couldn’t accept life outside of her homeland. She missed her friends dearly and wished she had never stepped foot in the coach that led her to this dismal land of solitude.

Minutes turned to an hour. Her food was now cold and remained untouched. Not even a well-cooked meal she usually fancied could lift her spirits. She finally broke the silence.

“Who is Cliea to you?”

Tyrus Clore sat back in his chair and clasped his hands. “She is my mother. Cliea is the eldest of all female vampires. She has not seen a sunrise for countless centuries. She was born to this world by Makoor and brought death to her mother. Her transition to the undead brought legions of our kind. What she started was from a seed planted. That is why mankind will cease to exist. She is mother to us all. And she has the power to condemn me.”

“Good for her. Better sooner than later,” Melina said under her breath.

“She has great powers. And her sister shares the same qualities.” Clore paused and grazed the tabletop with his fingertips. Melina pushed away her plate and sat back in her chair. She took a deep breath and felt weak. She slid back her chair and slowly stood. Clore sat and watched as she walked about.

“There are no windows in this room!” she yelled. “I feel nauseous. I need air. I’m not feeling well.” She put her hand to her forehead and began to whimper. “I feel so alone! I cannot take this! You and your treacherous lies. You kidnapped me! You’re keeping me confined, never to see the light of day again.”

“You are free to walk about the castle grounds,” Clore spoke softly.

“You call this freedom? And love, what do you know of love? Tyrus, can you even love?”

Tyrus Clore slowly walked to her and held her gently. “Yes, I can love. And I have grown to love you.” He gently put his fingertips to her lips. “You are so precious to me, my sweet Melina. All I want is to be with you, to hold you. I shall never leave your side. I will take care of you.” He looked at her sincerely. “I have had other women. But they were nothing like you. They don’t have your eyes or your sweet lips.”

“Please stop,” she whispered as she looked into his eyes.

“Your gentle smile. Without you,” he whispered gently, “I would sacrifice a thousand Droges in your honor.” They gazed at each other.

“A thousand Droges in my honor? Really?” Melina thought about it for a moment.

“Come, let me show you a place where you will find peace.”

***

Alamptria: Red Moon Rising concludes with some of the most exciting, descriptive fight scenes. The book is very intense and provides an intricate plot. The book went on to win the 2010 Buzzillions Reviewers Choice Award.

[]Chapter 7

Quantum Heights- Excerpt 5

Quantum Heights was a new start to the series of Alamptria. It was much improved in many ways. The villains are determined and eager. And heroes have been given the face of two female warriors. Calista Genesis and Cynthia Davenport are the new knight masters, and Caprius Seaton has his hands full. For as beautiful as these women are, Caprius knows he must act professionally and objectively and not see this as a way to bed the women. His commitment is to Melina Hampshire—his wife. And these fine agents are not just witty and fun to be with. When they put aside their sexuality and charm, Caprius discovers how skilled they are as warriors and that they are a great asset to the council of Elysium.

In this scene we observe the integrity and professionalism of two agents as they work together. Caprius and Calista’s relationship gets off to a rocky start. But as the fine wine is just not right for Caprius’s pallet, he finds that his relationship with Calista is warming up. He learns of her dismal past, and as she sheds tears, Caprius offers her his friendship and advice. Let’s see how this plays out…

***

The train was bound for Koriston. Smoke continued to puff out into the clear sky from the steam engine.

Calista sat with her face to the window, looking at the distant mountains and reminiscing about things past. She let herself get lost in her memories, not at all concerned with making Caprius comfortable or engaging him in small talk.

Caprius was aware that Calista’s mood toward him was quite changed. It was a nine-car train, but there were very few passengers. A waiter came to them presently and said they’d have his undivided attention, given they were alone in their car. The waiter had a mechanical right arm filled with gears and wiring. “Would you care for a refreshment?” he asked. Calista finally turned away from the window, but she avoided Caprius’s eyes. Caprius ordered wine, and she ordered a cup of tea with sugar. They fell into silence until the waiter returned with their drinks. Calista sipped her tea, but it was scalding hot and burned her lip. She made a small noise.

“Are you alright?” Caprius asked her. She ignored him.

“How is your wine?” she finally asked flatly.

“Unfortunately, it’s not to my liking.” He pushed it to the corner of his tray, but his fingers hit the stem awkwardly and he knocked it over. He and Calista leaped up, and the waiter returned with towels.

“Would you like another?” he asked.

“Actually, would you happen to have the Chateau Rauzan Segla 1729?” asked Caprius.

“No, sir, I’m afraid not,” said the waiter.

“What about the 25?”

“Why, yes, we do. I will get that for you right away, sir,” said the waiter.

“Splendid,” said Caprius. He seemed relieved.

“You sure know your wines,” said Calista.

“I do enjoy good wine. It’s a fun hobby,” said Caprius. Now that they were speaking civilly, Caprius decided he needed to humble himself. “Calista, I must apologize for what I said to you days ago. I had no right to say those things. Naturally, you must miss your father very much.”

“Thank you. Apology accepted,” said Calista with a warm smile.

“How are you enjoying Elysium? Are you liking it here?” he asked.

It didn’t take long for them to feel much more comfortable each other and relax into their conversation. “Yes, I’m enjoying it very much. Your family welcomed me with open arms. You showed me support and your love. And, for that, I thank you. It is very nice here. And I love the scenery; it’s breathtaking. The gardens of Meadow-lie are my favorite place to find peace,” she sighed. “I confess, the first few weeks I was in Elysium, I was rather uncomfortable. Living in a strange land, that is, and with people I didn’t know.”

“You’re not a stranger among us, Calista. Our home is your home,” said Caprius.

“Thank you, Caprius,” she said.

At that moment, the waiter arrived with Caprius’s wine. Holding the bottle with his mechanical hand, the waiter poured the wine.

“Thank you, my good man,” said Caprius.

“As I was saying, the first few weeks I had some difficulty. I had nightmares every night. My thoughts were with my father, but in my dreams, he was tormenting me.”

Caprius remembered that time and felt sorry. “Yes, that first week, we heard your screams. We didn’t know what was troubling you. And we still don’t know because you weren’t able to talk about it. Not even Doctor Finklestein was able to help.”

“Actually, he did help. He gave me some sedatives. With some sleep, I was able to feel much better.”

“I only hope your problems don’t resurface, for your sake.”

Calista smiled brightly. “I put the past behind me. I am not bothered by my father’s spirit anymore.”

Caprius was somewhat puzzled. “I don’t quite understand. You say you were tormented by your father, but you loved him and miss him. How does one want to be with someone yet push him away at the same time?”

Calista took a long sip of her tea, which had cooled. “Caprius, my father had a difficult past, one in which he acted in terrible ways. Yet, I still loved him dearly. When I was a little girl, he used to sing me lullabies and tell me bedtime stories. That is a cherished time in my life, when I felt so loved and cared for.” She paused. “But, when I became a young woman, his love for me was overshadowed by a sickness, an immoral lust. One night, he had his way with me. The moment I turned sixteen I ran away. My father had been long since dead, and my guardians cared for me, but I was so tormented by what my father had done that I kept wondering when my guardian would have his turn. There were nights when he’d come by my bedside only to kiss me good-night, and I would scream. My nights were filled with terror. And all he wanted to do was help me, love me. They were good, kind people.”

Tears fell from Calista’s eyes. “I often wish I’d had the strength to stay and heal. But I was compelled to go. And, when I ran away, I became a wanderer of Alamptria.”

Caprius was silent a moment. He’d had no idea of the things she’d lived through. “I am so sorry,” said Caprius. He put a hand on her knee to comfort her. She placed her warm hand atop it.

“Years went by, and I found myself living in the city of Koriston. That is when I met the Goncools. One Goncool grew fond of me, named Nigel. By this time, my fear of being with men had faded away, and Nigel became my friend. When, after a time, Nigel and I developed feelings for one another, we moved into an intimate relationship that was caring and made me feel safe. I realized I had found love.”

“Why did you leave Nigel or, rather, when?” asked Caprius.

Calista took a deep breath. “Later, I came to understand that the Goncools were plotting against the queen of Koriston. Something about transforming humans into the undead and eternal life. I knew then I was fraternizing with the enemy. Nigel’s younger brother Thornin was first in command and oversaw the operation. He was a man whom I had also adored, even developed some feelings for. But my loyalty was to Nigel, and Thornin knew and respected that. After the Goncools planned to assassinate Queen Amenova, I panicked and went into hiding in Koriston. Nigel and Thornin searched for me, but I’d hidden well. Any time a Goncool went to a pub or an event, I made sure to remain inside. One night, at Gripers Green Dragon Pub, there was a close call; I caught a glimpse of Nigel from a distance. I knew he was looking for me. I saw the look on his face. He missed me. Thornin showed up and comforted his brother with a hand on his shoulder. My heart ached for them both.

“The next day, I learned about their failed attempt on the queen’s life and how all the Goncools had been arrested except for Nigel and Thornin, who must have managed to escape. A trail led the Taughtenslotte army to a house where they found a coffin and a creature resting inside. Disturbed, the creature tried to attack, but one of the Taughtenslottes was quick and destroyed the creature. Then they burned the small house down. I was across the village and saw the smoke trailing into the sky.” She paused.

“A few days later, I learned that the captured Goncools were set to be hanged and among them was the prince of Elysium. That day I stood in the crowd watching the hanging. As much as I knew Nigel deserved to be up on the platform with the other Goncools, I couldn’t help but feel relieved just a bit to know he had escaped and was probably still alive somewhere. But,” she paused, “not long after, I heard a rumor that he’d been apprehended and executed.” She grew quiet, her fingers trembling as she rubbed her hands together, as if she were cold. “I’m sure it was for the best,” she whispered.

“Nigel was a menace to the world. You know that. But, what can you tell me about the hanging? I still haven’t heard the full story of what happened with my brother. He doesn’t like to speak of it.”

“Yes. It was a most unusual occurrence. Just as they were preparing the prisoners’ necks with nooses, your father said something to the hangman and showed him a piece of paper—a letter, I learned later, from Queen Amenova that stated Andromin should be released. He removed the noose from Andromin’s neck amid booing from the crowd. But, I was happy he’d been freed. It seemed he had simply gotten involved with the wrong crowd. He had taken his fate like a soldier, not flinching when the hangman prepared his neck and tied his hands. The more I read and got to know details about Andromin and the Seaton family, the more I felt proud.” Calista finished her tea and put the cup down on the table. Her cheeks grew hot. She realized she’d revealed too much.

“Proud of Andromin and the Seaton family? And this was before you came into our lives. We consider you family despite you’re not being of our blood… yet, I’m starting to wonder whether you’re keeping something from me,” said Caprius, staring at Calista directly in the eyes. “Most people might admire or be curious about others, but to feel pride is an intimate emotion, one that means you’re taking people personally,” said Caprius.

Calista looked around; the waiter was delivering late luncheon to the passengers from a cart and came to them with trays. “Can I persuade you to have a glass of red wine with your meal, Madam?” asked the waiter. “I have the Chateau Rauzan Segla 25, of course.”

“Yes, a glass of wine for us both,” said Caprius, without taking his eyes off Calista, who was shifting uncomfortably in her seat. The waiter bowed and departed, leaving the two to continue their uncomfortable discussion.

Calista looked at Caprius. He was an honorable person, a good man. She had so many secrets. Often she felt as though she would burst for wanting to let some of them out. She yearned to feel that free. But, she also knew she had to tread carefully. She shifted the subject slightly. “After the hanging, I left Koriston and became a wanderer. I was only sixteen, and I was often scared and hungry. When I came upon a small band of warriors who seemed kind, I decided to travel with them. The group’s leader was Platasus Cremiss, and he was competent at managing his group, making sure they had food and adequate shelter. He was happy to take me in.”

She looked at her fingers, which she was knitting fiercely together. “At first, he seemed all right. We ate together and we slept close to one another. But I was developing into a woman, and they were lonely. Soon, they made me their plaything. They liked to make crude jokes about me behind my back, fondle my body at any time, interrupt my sleep to touch me or kiss me. They didn’t rape me, which they could have easily done, but they had ceased to treat me like an equal. I felt terrible. Violated. My bad dreams resurfaced. When I was alone, which was only when they were off hunting or too drunk to use me, I would weep. I thought about Nigel and how caring he was. I did the right thing by leaving him, but I’d unwittingly delivered myself into a life of slavery. Platisus was deranged. He was a womanizer.”

“He’s a terrible man,” said Caprius.

“Platisus would relieve himself in front of me. He walks like a dog and shits like a horse,” said Calista.

Caprius rolled his eyes. His eyes were full of pity. He took her hands in his. “Calista, I cannot tell you how sorry I am,” he said. He felt ashamed for trying to pin her into a corner. “You have been through so much pain in your life.”

“Yes, I have.” She smiled and got a dreamy look on her face. “And then, one day, the men had decided they’d had enough of simply touching me. They got stirred up and tied me to a tree in order to rape me, one after the other. I tried to reason with them, to beg, but they were like animals. I was sure I would die. Andromin was in the forest and heard my screams. He didn’t think of himself or the danger; he leaped in and slaughtered the bastards, one after the other. And then I was free. I came to Elysium, and now I feel like a complete woman. I have your family to thank for that,” she said. She looked down and realized they were holding hands. She dropped his quickly. “Oh, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

“There is nothing to be sorry about,” said Caprius. “I took your hands, actually.”

She leaned back in her seat. “How much longer before we get to Koriston?”

“I would say less than an hour,” said Caprius. Caprius gazed at her. She was so strong and so fragile at the same time. Her hands shook when she took up the glass of wine, but he could see the resolve in her, how the pain and trials she’d endured had marked themselves on her body. He realized she and Andromin had enjoyed a special bond; he just hadn’t seen it for what it was until she and Andromin drifted apart.

“Yet you and Andromin now speak coldly to one another. What has happened to cause such a rift between you?”

Calista tried to balance the consequences of telling Caprius some things without revealing her secret. If she revealed what had happened to damage her good friendship with Andromin, Caprius would understand that. But sharing that opened the door to more revelations, particularly that the man responsible for ravaging his mother before he was born was the notorious Cambrozes Genesis, her father. She worried that information would push Caprius away.

She looked at him, at his strong will, his sincerity. Perhaps he had strength enough to accept her despite what she was. She hesitated but decided against telling him. The stakes were simply too high. Alienating him could mean being cast out of Elysium.

She said, “I understand that you want answers. Andromin is your brother, and you care for him. But it’s as simple as this: my presence caused problems for Andromin with Fetrona. Fetrona blames me for the problems in their relationship. I see now that Andromin wants me. But I don’t want to be the cause of their dissolution. Fetrona is fragile, and I don’t think she would be able to live if she lost him. I’m not interested in being responsible for that, so I told Andromin I cannot be with him for my own personal reasons.” Calista began to silently cry. She longed for Andromin every day. It broke her heart not to be with him.

“You speak so calmly, yet you weep. There are things you are not telling me, Calista. I wish you would trust me. It’s hard to see you suffer so, and it’s awkward for me, knowing you carry more secrets. My father, he also knows that you hold things inside. He said that on the battlefield of Plamastu you looked him in the eyes like you wanted to strangle him. That, after he’s done you such kindness,” said Caprius. His face was taut with worry. “What is it that’s eating away at you?”

Calista swallowed, feeling terribly uneasy. “Caprius, please, can we not just leave this alone?” she asked. “Speaking of eating, why don’t we eat before our meal gets cold? I’m sure it’s delicious.”

“Very well. I shall leave this matter alone. But remember this: I am here for you, and you can be honest with me. Whatever you’re hiding, it will not be a burden to me or my family. You can be sure of that. I am your friend. Whenever you are ready to come forth with this, I will be here for you. But I will not pressure you anymore, Calista,” said Caprius. They took the silver covers off their plates and, without much gusto, began to eat the rabbit stew.

Caprius ate little but drank down his wine. His wedding ring clinked against the glass, making a hollow chime. Calista wondered about his wife, Melina. What an impenetrable bond they must have in order to sustain their separation. She wondered whether it was constantly on his mind and if that was why his behavior was so erratic. It would be a long, lonely fourteen years for him. Lantrinon needed Grongone’s protection, and until he was old enough he would stay in Petoshine. Once he was a full-grown teenager, he would be able to handle a sword. “Do you still regret not being the one who escorted Melina to Petoshine?” she asked innocently.

“No. Father made his choice, and he chose Dragus,” he said. Then he sighed. “It is what had to be. I only wish there was another way.”

“Dragus will take good care of her. She is certain to arrive in Petoshine safe and sound. You can trust Dragus,” said Calista.

Caprius’s brow furrowed. “Of course, I trust him,” he replied, fingers fidgeting on the table, “but she is my wife. I should have been the one looking out for her.”

“Yes, but can you imagine if something were to go wrong underway? You’d never forgive yourself. You’d never be able to recover from that. And, as a soldier, it might color your judgment.”

“On the contrary, I think I would have had an advantage,” he said.

“Or a disadvantage. If you land in deep water without a life raft and the current is swift, you might sink to the bottom.” She took a breath and let it out slowly. “I know you have the light of Petoshine, but if that flame was ever to burn out and you were alone, then you would die alone.” She looked at him squarely. “Imagine what that would do to the rest of us.”

Caprius returned her intense gaze and saw a flame of desire there. He began to feel stirrings of it in his own body. “Has anyone ever told you that you are not only beautiful, but also very intelligent?”

“Why, Mr. Caprius Seaton, I do believe you are paying me a compliment. So, which do you prefer: my looks or my intelligence?” Calista asked, batting her eyelashes comically.

“Actually, both. You seem to be the complete package,” said Caprius.

“Thank you.” She realized they were flirting and felt suddenly uncomfortable. She leaned back and feigned a laugh. “Melina certainly is lucky to have you.”

“It’s nice to know there is someone else who appreciates me,” said Caprius.

She smiled warmly. “How about this: you watch my back, and I’ll watch yours.”

“You’ve got yourself a deal,” said Caprius. “To your health,” he said, raising his water glass. Their glasses clinked together, and they laughed. “You know, I’ve never seen this side of you before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even seen you smile, not like this,” said Caprius. “You’re always so serious and driven. But, I have to say, a glass of wine and you’re quite fun,” he laughed.

“We haven’t actually ever had a real conversation before, aside from that unpleasant day at the pub. Our lives have always followed separate paths. You have Melina, and I’ve got… just my disgruntlements,” she said sadly.

“Don’t say that. Good things are bound to come your way. When you least expect it, the right person will show up on your doorstep. Elysium has many decent men.”

Calista clasped her hands together beneath her chin and rested on them. “Well, I’m looking at one.”

Caprius smiled. “Look who’s the flatterer now.”

“Caprius. Tell me some more about the vim of Petoshine. How is it that this vim works?” asked Calista.

“The vim is a power that draws from the tower of Castle Petoshine. It immerses a powerful field of energy that is part of a very large Amethyst crystal. This energy is what links my sword of power. I can create a stream of fire or, if necessary, extreme cold. The claymore of power holds fantastic healing power as well.”

“You mean, you can heal wounds?” asked Calista.

“Yes. It can actually mend a broken body. Even heal a body from any diseases. In darkness, it can release a soft glowing light.”

“How was this created? By Grongone?”

“It was created by his father, Bremendalf. Well, he actually discovered this power. And he and the elves created what today is known as the vim.”

“What happened to Bremendalf and the elves?” asked Calista.

“Bremendalf was destroyed by Makoor. Bremendalf’s mistake resulted in the tragic death of the elves. Today, Grongone remains the last of the elves.”

“I see, such an interesting story,” she said.

With a bump, the train arrived in the Koriston station, interrupting the dangerous, rising ardor between the two. Caprius looked out the window at the bustle of people and rush of steam. “Well, welcome to Koriston,” he said. “How did you find your journey, Madam?” he asked debonairly.

“Stimulating,” said Calista.

“How’s that?” asked Caprius.

“I enjoyed our conversation,” she said. They began to gather their belongings.

“Do you mean the part when I mentioned how beautiful you are?” he teased.

“No, it was when you admired my intelligence,” she said.

They made their way to the exit. “Calista, I have a whole new appreciation for you, and…” he paused, “I think you do for me as well. But we should probably leave all of that on the train.”

“I’ve already forgotten our conversation,” said Calista, waving her hand.

He reached out and touched her shoulder. She turned around. “But…” he couldn’t bring himself to talk about these new feelings that pulsed in his heart. “Never mind. Let’s get started on our investigation. Our contact is meeting us in half an hour. That gives us some time to discuss our approach once we get to Tillie’s Fine Watches,” said Caprius.

“Yes. I think that would be for the best,” said Calista. She turned around and disembarked onto the busy platform.

[]Chapter 8

Quantum Heights- Excerpt 6

After eliminating a Goncool aboard a train en route to Koriston, Caprius and Calista find themselves obtaining horses for their travels to Jethro. Jethro turns out to be full of surprises. From every corner there is danger. And from the henchmen that the dark lord sends to eliminate the agents, Caprius and Calista find comfort in a nearby tavern. But little do they know that they are being watched. A surprise is waiting for them. And unless they intend to stay in the tavern eating with a greasy spoon that turns one’s stomach, they must face their fears and embrace a bigger vim of Petoshine.

***

After claiming two horses at the stables, Caprius and Calista rode over the trails mixed with dirt and snow out of the city of Galdington to the city of Jethro. Keeping his distance was Vernon Goncool, also on horseback. Vernon was furious over the death of his brother and felt not only stricken with guilt for not having been there to prevent it but blind with anger that the two had gotten the better of him. He wanted to the solace claymore and see both Caprius and Calista dead. But he knew he couldn’t be hasty and had to bide his time, so he remained in the shadows until he could give them their due.

The early morning was thick with fog, making it difficult to see more than an arm’s length in front of the horses. After Caprius and Calista went down a small hill, they could make out the barest outlines of buildings in the city of Jethro. They continued on, unaware that Vernon was standing on the hilltop behind them, obscured by the mist swirling around him and his steed. He made a dark silhouette against the gloomy background.

Calista and Caprius made their way through the gravel-covered main road and looked in the shops as they passed. It was a quaint town, but the people seemed to be deeply affected by the fog. They walked about listless, no one speaking to anyone else. Caprius stopped one man.

“I say, my good sir, can you tell me where the local pub is?” The man looked slowly at Caprius but said nothing. Calista nudged Caprius that they should move along. The man looked half-dead and very frail. They waited another moment to see if he’d answer, but he just stood there, his mouth dumbly open a bit. So Caprius and Calista rode on. “Not a very helpful chap, was he?” Caprius remarked. A moment later, Caprius called out to a woman on a porch rocker. “I say, old woman, is there a pub nearby?” he asked. The woman just rocked back and forth.

“This is very odd,” said Calista, shrugging. “I guess we’ll just have to find a pub ourselves.” They kept on until they finally came upon an old rundown pub beside a church with several large bells in the belfry. The pub’s sign was broken. “‘The Greasy Spoon,’” Caprius snickered. “That hardly sounds delicious.”

There was nothing else around, so Calista shrugged and dismounted. “I guess this place will have to do,” she said. They tethered their horses to a post and went in. A few people were sitting at tables with pints of ale before them. They lifted the glasses to their mouths, but no one spoke. Not a word. When the two walked in, everyone slowly turned and stared at them.

“Hello there.” Caprius wiggled his fingers to a middle-aged couple. But they just looked at him with the same sodden expression worn by everyone else.

“Caprius, I think these people are mute,” whispered Calista.

“Either that or they’re scared of something,” said Caprius. They sat at a small table. The place felt less like a pub and more like a funeral home. Caprius suspected he could stick a pin in the man beside him and he wouldn’t react.

After at least ten minutes passed, Calista raised her voice. “Are we ever going to get served around here?” Calista began tapping her foot on the floor impatiently.

“Is there a waiter in the house?” Caprius called out. Everyone turned to stare at Caprius. “Well, at least we know they can hear,” he whispered to her.

He tried to stare down a few of the people, but their gazes were unwavering. “Mathis never mentioned this place was so dead. I thought the village of Kasheema was dead, but this place has Kasheema beat,” said Caprius. A moment later, from behind them, the floor creaked. It was a waiter. Calista continued to tap her foot on the floor. The people were still staring at them. The waiter stood over six feet tall. He had a large belly; a receding hairline with long soft orange hair that fell down his broad back; and a scruffy, unshaven face.

The waiter stood by Calista. “Please don’t tap your foot. It makes too much noise,” he whispered.

Calista stopped tapping. “Sorry,” she smiled. “Can we get a menu, please? We’re starving!” The man just stood looking down at her. They both looked at the waiter, wondering if he would respond. Calista tried again. “Do you have any specials?” she asked slowly. The waiter didn’t say anything.

“Alright, let’s try this,” said Caprius. He spoke carefully, enunciating each syllable. “We would like two glasses of your finest ale and two specials. Do you understand?”

The waiter nodded yes and tried to smile. It took his face several seconds to arrive at the finished product. Before he turned, he said again, “Please, stop tapping your foot. It makes too much noise.” The waiter let his smile fall away and walked into the kitchen. Calista stopped tapping her foot. “Well, it seems they only serve one thing, so I hope it’s good.”

In a corner of the room at a booth was Vernon Goncool. He had a clear sightline to the two and stared unabashedly through the smoke of the cigar he was holding.

After about five minutes, the waiter brought ale to Caprius and Calista. He plunked the glasses down and walked away. They sipped tentatively. “At least the ale is good,” said Calista.

“Yes, quite good actually,” said Caprius. They savored their ale not knowing when the food might come. After some time, the waiter reappeared with two plates of food. Calista stared at the meal, unsure of what it was. “What is this stuff?” she muttered.

Caprius dipped his fork in. “It tastes like… I’m not sure, but I think it’s meatloaf.”

Calista lifted a limp brown thing with her fork. “Sautéed with long-stem mushrooms,” she said in an arrogant voice. “Oh, come on. This is awful.”

“Well, it’s the only Greasy Spoon in town, so eat up,” grinned Caprius, digging in.

“I’m sorry, but this isn’t at all something I want to eat!” said Calista. She was hungry, tired, and annoyed she had to choke down such a dreadful meal. Everyone in the place immediately turned around to look at her. While the pair was occupied by everyone else’s eyes, Vernon Goncool stood and left the pub. He was light on his feet, almost as if he were floating.

“Come on, Calista. This is all the food we’re going to get for who knows how long. I suspect we’re going to need our strength,” said Caprius, his mouth full.

Calista pursed her lips. She chewed and swallowed until everything was gone. At that moment, a woman who was eyeing the two of them approached their table and sat down.

“Well, hello there, Caprius,” she said.

Caprius’s eyes widened. “What are you doing here? Are you spying on me?” he asked.

She laughed. “No, merely a coincidence that we’re meeting here. I’m on mission. I had a lead that brought me to this part of town.”

“Still, there’s more to you than meets the eye,” said Caprius.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your lady friend?” she asked, rubbing Calista’s hand.

“Of course. This is my partner in crime, Calista,” he said. “Calista, this is… well, I’m very sorry, but I don’t know your name.”

“Very well, Caprius Seaton. If you must know, or rather if you should try to remember, I am Cynthia Davenport.”

Caprius thought for a moment. “Oh, my god. Little Cynthia Davenport. From high school?” he said, astonished.

“Yes, well, not so little anymore, as you can see,” she chuckled.

“Yes, and quite beautiful,” he said.

Calista shot Caprius a look. “Now that we’re acquainted, Cynthia, you say you’re on a mission?” she asked, turning to her.

“Yes, do tell us more about this,” said Caprius.

“Of course, but I have to make it quick.” She plucked a chair from the neighboring table and sat down. “I’m on a case, which I’m calling the Colburn Affair. A man named Cyril Colburn is in the process of manufacturing a drug to enhance animal intelligence. It also builds strength and stamina. He uses this drug to inject creatures, such as Droges, to give them super strength and hyperintelligent thinking. If you thought Droges were already dangerous, you wouldn’t want to encounter a super Droge. Anyway, if this drug gets into the hands of the vampires, they’ll create an army of them. We have enough trouble with the undead as it is.”

“This sounds important,” said Calista.

“Yes, very,” said Caprius. “If this serum gets out, we will definitely have more trouble than we thought.”

“What’s Colburn’s ultimate goal in doing this?” asked Calista.

Cynthia shook her head. “Money. Colburn has arranged a meeting with Alamptria’s biggest scums. The highest bidder gets the drug. I just have to wonder what will happen if the drug gets into another set of wrong hands.”

“I hope you can stop this from happening,” said Caprius.

Cynthia rose from the table. “It’s been great seeing you, but I must go quickly,” she said.

“Where are you going?” asked Calista.

“North. Just past Quanta-paloose,” she said.

“But… that would lead you back to Quantum Heights,” said Caprius.

“Yes, it’s near there,” Cynthia said, shouldering her bag. “I have to dash off. Calista, it was very nice meeting you.”

“Nice to see you again, Cynthia,” said Caprius, his eyes a bit wide at this new version of the gawky young girl he’d grown up with.

“Perhaps we’ll meet again,” said Cynthia before turning and leaving the pub.

Caprius waited another interminable amount of time until the waiter waddled over and gave them their check. Caprius counted out the coins and put them on the waiter’s tray. The waiter looked at them, frowned, and shook his head. “Was the service not to your liking, sir? Did the food not meet your exacting standards?”

“Caprius, just tip him so we can get out of here,” hissed Calista.

After Caprius clinked additional coins on the tray, the waiter brightened measurably. “Thank you. Come again. I hope your stay was a quiet one,” he smiled. While he was reaching down to put the money in his satchel, the church bells beside the pub began to chime for the one o’clock hour. Everyone who had been nearly comatose earlier suddenly became animated, shrieking and holding their ears. Even Caprius and Calista covered their ears against the din and bolted from the pub. Outside the tolling bells were even louder. When they finally stopped, Caprius said, “At least now we know why they like to keep things quiet.”

“Yes, that would explain it. Remind me never to enter this pub again,” snorted Calista.

“Because of the food or the church bells?” asked Caprius.

“Both,” said Calista. Laughing, the two untied their horses and brought them out to the main road. A man was standing in the center of the road, watching them. Caprius and Calista looked at one another as they trotted toward him. When they were close enough, they finally recognized him. It was Vernon Goncool. Caprius shouted. “Now!” and he and Calista dug in their heels and went at full gallop to run him over and kill him. Not budging from his spot, Vernon calmly unsheathed his sword and held it at the ready. Caprius wondered why the man didn’t move, but before he could consider that more fully, he realized something was wrong with his saddle. He was sliding off his horse. The straps had become undone, or, he quickly realized, they’d been cut. Caprius fell off the horse hard onto the ground, directly onto his knee. Calista turned around in her saddle to look at Caprius, but her horse, so spooked by the mishap, bucked and threw her off. She lay on the ground, winded and gasping from the searing pain shooting up from her ankle while both their horses galloped away.

Vernon Goncool slowly approached Calista. Caprius tried to stand, but his knee gave way, and he fell back. Vernon edged closer. Caprius dislodged his claymore of power, held it to his knee, and murmured some words. The claymore vibrated, and, within seconds, his knee was healed. He stood and ran toward Calista. She was trying to scoot away from Vernon but was clearly in too much pain to move quickly. Just as the Goncool put his sword to her neck, Caprius channeled his powers and sent a bolt of energy through the man’s body, causing him to fly through the air and onto his back.

Caprius rushed to help Calista. Her eyelids were fluttering as she struggled to maintain consciousness. Vernon sat up, grinning fiendishly, and transformed himself into a raging, bloodthirsty vampire. Now hulking and powerful, he charged at Caprius like a lion at its prey. But Caprius was empowered with his sword, and he charged as well. They hit each other with the extreme force of two blazing stars and fell back, dazed. Caprius immediately got to his feet, swinging his sword. Vernon brandished his, too, and their weapons clashed. Caprius swung wildly and severed the Goncool’s right arm. Both arm and sword fell to the ground. Vampire Vernon screamed. Caprius reared up for another swing, but before his sword could make contact the vampire spread its wings and flew away.

Caprius and Calista watched the creature fly off until it was nothing more than a dot on the horizon. Calista looked down at the creature’s severed arm, the hand still clutching the sword. Seconds later, the arm began to move. It struggled and grew until it had evolved into a complete human form. Caprius seized the brief respite granted by this gruesome transformation to deal with Calista’s injury.

“I’m sure it’s broken,” whispered Calista.

Caprius held his claymore against her ankle. The claymore shined with a bright yellow light and, within seconds, she was able to wiggle her foot. “It’s fine,” she said incredulously, scratching her head. Caprius helped her up, and they readied themselves for further battle with the newly formed creature.

They turned around and paused in shock. In the sky, over fifty vampires were approaching. “Oh no!” she shouted.

Caprius’s claymore began to vibrate and hum violently. “We’re in for quite a fight,” he said. The vampires landed, creating a circle around the two. There were over a hundred of them—so many that they ran out of space to land on the street and began landing on rooftops and in trees. They salivated and made excited, high-pitched noises.

“I didn’t think it would end like this,” said Calista, looking at Caprius. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry I wasn’t honest with you and your family from the start.” She took Caprius’s hand and held it tightly against her heart. Then she held it to her lips. “Let’s die with honor,” she said quietly.

He realized that, despite everything, he’d been fooling himself. He ached to touch her lips with his fingers, to wind his hand in her hair and smell her clean, earthy scent one last time. All around them, the vampires cackled wetly.

Suddenly, one of them changed himself into human form. It was Thornin Goncool. He walked casually over to them. “Oh, you two. Go ahead and take a final moment for some passion. It is the least I can do for you, given that your death is going to be extremely unpleasant.” He smiled graciously.

Caprius and Calista looked into each other’s eyes. Just then, in the turbulent clouds swirling above, the face of Grongone, the great wizard of Petoshine, appeared. “Caprius, it is time. The time to endure a greater power has come,” he boomed.

Thornin Goncool hunched down, frightened. “What is this?” he asked in a panic.

Seconds later, a great light shined down from the sky onto Caprius and Calista like a perfect beam of sun. Caprius spoke to Grongone privately, inside his head. “No, this cannot be,” said Caprius. “She is not a Seaton. Why her?” he asked.

“Yes. Yes. Yes, I know,” replied Grongone, nodding.

“Then, I shall do as you ask of me.” Caprius looked into Calista’s eyes. “Calista, kiss me.”

“But, what about—”

“Don’t argue,” said Caprius, grabbing her around the waist. He brought his face to hers, and, as their trembling lips touched, they realized a passion that had been stirring between them since they’d met. They held each other close, their tongues searching, their lips pulsing, and suddenly lightning struck with feverish intensity all around them—the sign of a great power being formed.

“What the hell is going on?” asked Thornin. The other Goncools were petrified. Caprius’s and Calista’s bodies glowed bright white. Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the storm was over. All light vanished, and the world was engulfed in pitch blackness. When daylight returned, Caprius and Calista stood in glistening new armor, poised and ready for combat. Grongone had disappeared. But they knew what had happened. Caprius looked at Calista inquisitively, as if to say, “Are you ready for this?”

She smiled with serenity and power. “I am ready.”

The vampires stood hungry and ready to attack. “Put your back to mine,” Caprius said, turning around. The vampires edged closer.

Thornin began to laugh. “Oh, your Grongone has deserted you,” he minced. He transformed back into a beast and flew up onto a rooftop. From there, he peered down at them. “This is a job for a master.” He pointed at them and shouted, “Destroy them! Attack!”

The vampires swarmed Caprius and Calista. Within seconds, it was an all-out war between the knight masters and the vampires. Caprius and Calista swung their swords, slicing apart any vampire who approached them. Calista jumped into the air and bashed her legs into the faces of two vampires simultaneously. She swung her sword, decapitating one, and went on to kill several others.

Caprius brought his sword down through a creature’s head, splitting it in two. He dislodged the sword in time to swing it before him, slicing three vampires through their middles. To his side, Calista decapitated another, then another. Then Caprius and Calista turned back to back again and, with their claymores aloft, created an expanding force so strong that the creatures coming at them were blown away as if caught in an explosion. Some of them crashed into the shop windows. One went headfirst into a wooden tabletop with such force that his head splintered the wood and came out the other side. He stood with his head still caught in the table. Unable to force his head back through the hole, he went ballistic. Around him, Caprius set vampires aflame. The screaming was deafening.

The creature caught in the table kept trying to break free as he ran scattershot in Calista’s direction. Seeing the large, round tabletop with a vampire head stuck through the center, Calista shot flame at it. It was engulfed within seconds. To be sure the vampire wouldn’t give them any more trouble, Caprius drove his sword through the creature’s face. He got two for the price of one as, yanking his sword free, he accidentally sliced through another’s legs. It lay on the ground, writhing. For good measure, Caprius set it on fire, too.

Then came a team of fourteen vampires. Like football players, they ran en masse, their bodies thick and brutish. Just before they were able to reach out and grab him, Caprius leaped into the air, and while aloft, he channeled his powers from the sword to freeze the line of vampires into a wall of solid ice. He landed atop it and slid down as easily as a skier down a mountain.

Not even aware she was able to do this, Calista extended her arm and, out the end of her claymore, shot a surge of blue electricity so powerful it penetrated twenty-five vampires all in some way touching one another, sizzling their flesh into bacon.

“Hmm, that’s new!” exclaimed Caprius, amazed at what Calista had done. He didn’t stop to celebrate for long, as the battle continued to rage: hundreds of vampires amid the many fallen and two soldiers whose powers protected them as long as they were vigilant.

After another half an hour of fierce fighting, Caprius and Calista were soaked in sweat, euphoric from endorphins, and energized for whatever other plans the vampires had for them. The ground was covered with bodies; blood pooled up all around and reflected the coming evening light.

From the relative safety of the rooftop where Thornin Goncool took refuge behind a pile of vampire corpses, he continued to watch, dismayed at the ineptitude of his cult. The last vampires, those who had sustained the fight and were the strongest and boldest, were tiring while Caprius and Calista interestingly seemed to be gaining energy.

Calista cast a flame through the air so big it engulfed over seventy vampires, sending them withering into dust piles atop one another. The sky was lit up red from even more fire Caprius sent up that engulfed many more vampires who, too, came crashing down dead. Bruiser vampires trying brute strength came toward Calista, who nimbly sprang into the air. They bashed into one another, and she landed on top of their heads, then hopped to the ground, landing on her feet and one hand, her other hand pointing with her sword of power at another faction of remaining vampires.

Every time she and Caprius defeated another one, two, twenty, forty vampires, they let themselves hope the numbers would begin to diminish. They had strength to spare, but at the same time, Calista began to wonder when it would start to wane. They might have been imbued with magic power, but they were still human. She couldn’t feel this powerful forever, she knew. As soon as she vanquished another group, she would look up and see yet another standing before her, roaring hideously, their fangs dripping with blood.

Suddenly, the church bells rang out. The vampires screamed and held their pinched little pointed ears. Many of them tried to fly up above the din, and so many of them fled into the sky, they flew erratically and crashed into one another. Caprius and Calista cringed at the noise, but they were more pleased to see how much it bothered the vampires. They took some deep breaths and wiped the sweat from their faces on their sleeves.

Then the noise stopped. The vampires turned on the pair with reinvigorated purpose, as if the knights had been the cause of the noise.

“Had enough?” Calista yelled to them. She beckoned with her left hand. “Come on. Show me what you’ve got.”

Caprius muttered, “Don’t encourage them, Calista.”

“Caprius, seems to me they don’t need much encouragement,” she said. The creatures reared up and charged. They crashed into Caprius and Calista only to be brutally smacked by an invisible force emanating from their claymores. The creatures flew back, crashing into the walls and windows of the shops. Undeterred, they shook themselves off as would dogs after a bath, then came back for more. Calista and Caprius swung without pause, decapitating each vampire who came before them. At one point, Caprius’s aim was poor, and a head bounced off Calista’s shoulder, leaving a mark. “Eeww,” Calista cried out before instinctively hitting the ground in time for a creature to swoop right down to where she’d been standing. She simply thrust her sword into the creature’s face and channeled her powers, which caused the head to burst into flame. As the creature melted and disintegrated, Calista rolled out of the way. She looked up to see nine vampires hovering above her. She sent a lazy flame into the air that spread out like a cross, crucifying the creatures. She dodged the little vampire fireballs that came raining down and ran back toward Caprius just in time to see forty or more vampires flying in circular formation above them like a growing storm.

That gave them an idea. They looked at each other and at the same time gleefully said, “Fireball!”

They raised their swords and launched a large flame that expanded into the sky and surrounded the formation of vampires like a blazing tornado. Every last remaining vampire disintegrated, and their burning embers fell like rain down onto Jethro, lighting the stores, the houses, and the streets below. People ran outside from the shops and the pub screaming.

Caprius and Calista watched the panicked scene, feeling sorry for the people of this city. But, the crackling of fire and an untamed wind were the only sounds remaining. No more beating wings, no shrieking vampires. Nothing. Their faces lit up by the fires, Caprius and Calista stood looking at the hundreds of dead corpses that surrounded them. They wove through the maze of corpses admiring their handiwork. “Where… on earth… did you learn to fight like that?” he finally asked her, his voice incredulous and thrilled.

“I may have learned a thing or two from you,” she shrugged, grinning.

The two bantered flirtatiously, unaware that remaining on a nearby rooftop was Thornin Goncool staring down at them. Thornin wiped his brow then snarled, his fist clenched. “You may have won this little battle, knights of Petoshine. But the real war is yet to come.” Thornin lifted off into the sky. “Retreat!” yelled Thornin to his remaining few vampires who were in hiding. The ten or so vampires out of the original hundred flew off quietly into the mountains.

Calista and Caprius heard the flapping and spun around with their claymores aloft. They were surprised to see the vampires emerge from behind the main street and fly away in retreat. It made them seem so small and innocuous then, like birds. Thornin and the rest of the Goncools might have left defeated now, but Caprius and Calista knew they still had the fight of their lives yet to come.

Caprius looked at his partner in battle with a whole new admiration. As much as he did not like the fact that her father had ravaged and terrorized his mother, he was now aware that this woman beside him was the new master knight of Petoshine. His pride in his family was great, but it was clear Calista would be his first knight.

As if she knew what he was thinking, Calista raised her sword in the air, victorious. But she soon lowered it out of respect, and the two began to walk through the flames. Caprius and Calista nodded to the villagers, who watched them as they departed to continue their investigation. It would be a long walk through the city of Jethro. But they were ready for it.

[]Chapter 9

Quantum Heights- Excerpt 7

After the great battle of Jethro, Caprius and Calista continue their investigation within the city. A tip leads them to an art dealer, and as they have difficulty finding the place they seek answers from a feisty teenage boy, who holds as much wisdom as he has love for these knight masters. And after they learn the whereabouts of the dealer, things get really interesting when they encounter a mysterious artist with a secret life. I wouldn’t put my money on this painting; the oil is about to run off.

***

As Caprius and Calista walked through Jethro, they used their claymores’ powers to extinguish the fires that raged all around them. The people were grateful, but as they shook the knights’ hands there was blame in their eyes for their having brought on such evil to their peaceful village.

Aware of the brewing anger, the two knights of Petoshine quickly made their way through the center of the village and continued their journey. They walked a ways until they came upon a teenage boy fiddling idly with some sticks, a bedraggled looking dog by his side. “Let me speak to him,” said Calista. She smiled sweetly and approached him. “Excuse me, my young lad, but I was wondering if you could guide us to an art gallery called Delvinger’s.” Calista swept her hair back and smiled again.

The boy looked at Calista like he had found love. His eyes got dopy, and he blushed. “If you’re here to see the exhibit, I’m afraid that’s not possible. We’re closed today, for it is Sunday, a day of rest.” He squinted and examined Calista and Caprius. “I can tell you’re not from around here, or you’d know that.”

“Looks like we have come to the right person. You know an awful lot about the gallery,” said Calista admiringly. She reached out and brushed a lock of hair out of the boy’s eyes.

He looked like he might swoon and started talking rapid fire. “I actually work there. I sometimes work Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, but mostly just Fridays. That is my long day. And I get paid two shillings a day. Although I think I should be paid more because I have been working there for nearly three years now. And I’ve never missed a day of work. Oh, except for once. But that is because I had the measles. But that doesn’t count because it was on a Saturday. And I normally don’t work on a Saturday, so when my employer asked me to come in and I couldn’t, it shouldn’t have counted as a sick day. I really did have the measles, you know,” the boy jabbered.

“My, you’re feisty!” said Calista with overly sweet admiration in her voice. Caprius rolled his eyes.

“I’m not a boy. I’m fifteen. I’m nearly a man. My birthday is in August, so I’ll be an adult real soon,” said the boy.

“What is your name?” asked Calista.

“Shyla. But don’t say it’s a girl’s name, ’cause it’s not. But you could call me Shy. My last name is Doody. Please, no Doody jokes; I’ve heard them all before.” Again, Caprius rolled his eyes, but he had to smile at the young man. His chatter was growing on him.

“So, Shy, how is it that you started working at Delvinger’s at such a young age?” asked Caprius.

Shy shrugged. “It’s only because my father owns it. He gave me the job,” said Shyla.

“Is anyone at the art gallery right now? Anyone at all?” asked Caprius.

“My father is there today. But no one is permitted to get in. Except me, of course,” said Shyla proudly.

Shy, Calista and I are from Elysium. I am the son of King Confidus. We are here on a mission,” said Caprius.

Shyla looked at them suspiciously. “I don’t believe you. What would the Prince of Elysium be doing all the way out here?”

“Have you ever heard of the tale of Grongone and Petoshine?” asked Caprius.

“Maybe a little bit,” said Shyla. Caprius pulled out his sword of power from his sheath. The boy backed up. “You’re not going to kill me, are you?”

“No, Shyla, we are not going to kill you,” laughed Calista.

“We only mean to show you something,” said Caprius. He held out his claymore. “Have you ever heard of the claymores of power?”

“Yes… I have. They are swords of great destructive power,” said Shyla. Calista drew her claymore, and with her new powers she blew an icy frost at a nearby tree. The tree instantly froze into solid ice. “Wow!” The boy exclaimed. Then, Caprius aimed his sword at the tree, shot a flaming torch at it, and melted the ice. Water came pouring down in rivulets, and the tree was unharmed. The boy jumped up and down. “You are knights of Petoshine!” he said.

“So, let’s try this again. As I said, we are on a mission, and we could very much use your help,” said Caprius.

“What would you have me do?” asked Shyla.

“We need you to get us into the art gallery now. It’s imperative that we speak to a woman named Enlora Renfield. Someone called Melisa who works at the gallery knows her and will introduce Enlora to us. We need to speak with her as soon as possible,” said Caprius.

“Well, I would help you, but as I said, the gallery is closed. And, anyway, only my father is there today. Enlora won’t be in until tomorrow.”

“Could you perhaps, then, take us to see your father?” asked Caprius. “If you do this, let’s just say I’ll mention to your father that it’s high time you got a shilling or two raise. How does that sound?”

“That would be great! Let’s go,” said Shyla. He started walking quickly, and the two knights followed him. Calista gave Caprius a thumbs-up.

Soon they came to the front doors of the art gallery. Shyla opened the door.

“Well, my friend, thank you for showing us to the art gallery.”

“There’s a small hotel just one block up the street, the Delvinger Hotel,” said Shyla.

“Your father owns the hotel, as well?” asked Caprius.

Shyla shrugged. “He’s a busy man.”

They said their good-byes, Shyla looking forlorn as he watched Calista depart.

Early Monday morning, Caprius and Calista headed out to Delvinger’s. They sailed in and went directly to the elegant-looking woman there. “Excuse me. My name is Caprius Seaton, and this is my partner, Calista. We are conducting an investigation and are wondering if you can help us.”

She smiled gently and bowed her head. “How can I assist the Prince of Elysium?” she asked.

“We are looking for Enlora Renfield,” said Caprius.

“Yes, she’s here. She comes here to paint portraits. She is in the middle of one now, so I can take you to her, but she greatly dislikes being disturbed when she’s at work. I’ll introduce you when she’s finished,” said the woman. “Come this way.”

While they followed her, Caprius asked, “May I ask your name?”

“Melina,” she said.

“That is my wife’s name,” said Caprius.

“Yes,” she said. “I know.”

The last thing Calista felt like talking about was Caprius’s wife. “I see you have some wonderful paintings here. Such a fine collection,” said Calista effusively.

“Some of our paintings go back as far as the eleventh century. They fetch quite a price,” said Melina.

“I should be very happy to have one of these,” said Calista.

“I’m afraid they’re only for private investors. But for a more reasonable price, I’m sure Enlora would be happy to paint something for you,” said Melina. “On average, it takes her about three weeks to finish a portrait. People come here from all over Alamptria.”

“Funny that I had not heard of the Delvinger’s Art Gallery before. I didn’t know such a job in painting portraits existed,” said Caprius.

“People hear about us through word of mouth,” said Melina. They came to a large room, every wall surface hung with paintings. In the corner by a window sat a tall, thin woman with porcelain skin and dark hair that cascaded down her back. She was concentrating on some detail work on her canvas with a small brush. A fine gentleman in full evening dress posed for her. “This is Enlora,” said Melina. “But please keep your voices down so you don’t disturb her. You may speak with her when she is finished.”

“Thank you, Melina,” said Caprius. Melina walked away and left the knights standing in the room. They watched the artist at work for some time until it became clear they were distracting her and she was getting annoyed.

“Caprius, why don’t we look at the paintings,” said Calista, taking Caprius’s arm in hers. They inched their way around the room whispering to one another about the art. After gazing at innumerable paintings, Caprius began to get bored. Luckily, Enlora set her brush down not long after that, sat back, and examined her work.

“Mr. Bradshaw, I do believe it’s finished. Would you care to have a look?” asked Enlora.

Bradshaw got off his seat and came around to admire the painting. “It’s a perfect likeness,” he said reverentially.

“Of course it is. It will need one week to dry, so please do come back to pick it up then.” He kissed her hand, exclaiming platitudes, and left. The artist began cleaning her brushes in a sink. Caprius and Calista came to her. “That’s a very good painting, Mrs. Renfield.”

She stared at him sharply. “Yes, it is. And it is Ms. Renfield. But you may call me Enlora.”

“Enlora, my name is Caprius Seaton, and this is Calista Genesis. We are with his majesty’s assault force on investigation.”

“Assault force,” she said, raising an eyebrow. “Am I to be your target?”

Calista laughed. “We would just like to ask you a few questions,” she said.

“What makes you think I have the answers?” asked Enlora, patting her brushes on a towel.

“We are aware that you have knowledge of the dark cult and know the marking on pocket watches. A source told us that this pocket watch”—Caprius pulled the watch out of his pocket—“has markings you are familiar with.” Caprius showed the timepiece to her.

She observed the markings closely. “This is Telusion, markings of the underworld,” said Enlora. “The small inscription here is the language of the undead.” She handed it back to Caprius.

“Who wrote this?” asked Calista.

“The dark lord Makoor,” she said, a small smile flickering over her lips.

“And what of the marking of the two stars with a knife? That’s what it looks like to me,” said Caprius, turning the watch over.

“That is exactly what it is. It symbolizes Makoor’s two faithful right hands: Lydia the sorceress and Titanis Clore. The star underneath the two with a burning heart symbolizes Orphius Clore, Makoor’s devoted henchman, who betrayed him. All of Makoor’s followers, thousands upon thousands of them, carry pocket watches exactly like this.”

“I am told that these pocket watches are made here in Jethro. Is this true?” asked Caprius.

Enlora stared at Caprius, narrowing her eyes.

“Enlora, is this true?” Calista echoed.

“Yes. It is true,” said Enlora.

“Do you know the address to this place?” asked Calista.

Enlora now began to quickly put her painting supplies away. “I know the place, and I have the address. But I don’t have it with me. It is written down at my home.”

She paused, then smiled slowly. “Mr. Seaton, why not come tomorrow to my home so I can give you that information? And, while you’re there, it would be my honor to do a portrait of the two of you. Shall we say 8:00 p.m.?”

“Miss Enlora, thank you for the offer, but we have had to wait two additional days already. Two of our agents have been killed. We are losing precious time. Is there any way we can come to you tonight?”

Enlora paused, staring at Caprius. There was something mysterious and intriguing about her. She smiled, showing perfect white teeth. “Very well, tonight, then,” she said. She wrote her address down on a piece of paper and gave it to Caprius, letting her hand linger against his as he took it.

As Caprius and Calista walked away, Enlora stared at their departing backs as if she were a leopard waiting to strike.

When night fell, Caprius and Calista set out on foot to Enlora’s house. She lived outside of the village, and as they walked away from the center, the homes grew larger and the landscape more lush. “It is interesting how much she knew about the pocket watches. It is as though she is a part of all this,” said Caprius.

“I don’t trust her,” said Calista. They came to a hilltop manor bearing the address she’d written down. They walked through the gate and up the long path to the house. Lying over the grassy knoll to the house was a low mist, giving the effect of a graveyard.

When they got to the front door, Caprius took Calista by the shoulders and looked intently at her. “I think I should do this alone,” he said. “It seems she likes me, and I can use that to our advantage. While I entertain her, you go around to the back and try to check out the house.”

Calista raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

“I’ll give you five minutes before I knock on the door,” said Caprius.

Caprius waited, listening to the call of hoot owls. After five minutes, he knocked on the door. He knocked several times. Finally, Enlora came down to answer the door. The door creaked open, and she invited him in. “It is good to see you again, Enlora,” said Caprius, noticing her gown, which was cut very low in front and touched every gentle curve of her form.

“It is good to see you, too,” she said. “Where is Calista?” she asked.

“She couldn’t make it. I came alone,” Caprius said.

She smiled. “We’ll walk this way. I want to begin by painting a portrait of you.” She took him to a room at the corner of the house and escorted Caprius to a chair. “I will begin by sketching you on canvas. Then I will apply the oils.” As she said this, she ran her long fingers slowly over her arm.

Caprius looked around. “What a beautiful room. So very many French windows,” he said, taking his seat before her canvas.

“You enjoy looking into the beautiful surroundings, the darkness of the night?” she asked, picking up her charcoal.

“It is a peaceful winter’s night,” he said. “You can almost hear the tinkle of snowfall coming into the room.” His eye fell on the grand piano in the corner.

“Do you play?” he asked.

“I will tonight, after I have taken care of you,” she said. “Whenever I invite someone over to paint his portrait, once I have finished, I always play a melody. It soothes me, for it will be the last time I shall see him.”

“Yes, I would gather in your line of work there aren’t too many repeat customers,” said Caprius.

Enlora didn’t reply but continued to sketch. Caprius tried not to move, but his muscles were seizing up. “I’m sorry, but I need to move around a bit.”

She lifted her hand. “That doesn’t bother me. As long as you get back into a similar position, I can finish. In any case,” she said, “I have finished sketching you.”

“May I see?” asked Caprius.

She held her arm out to the canvas.

Caprius peered around at the drawing. “And next you apply the paint?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said and again stared at him as though looking through him.

Caprius found her beautiful, but her face was so still, it was as if made of stone. She dipped her brush in some paint and began applying it to the canvas.

Outside, Calista found a door that led out to the rear garden. It was locked, so she took her dagger and carved around the edge of a small window. After digging into the wood, she was able to pop out the glass, catching it just as it fell from the frame. She put her arm through and easily unlocked the door.

Caprius posed again but became impatient. “Enlora, if you don’t mind, I would like to get up and walk around for a bit.”

“Please, go right ahead,” she said.

Caprius paced back and forth a number of times to stretch his legs. He could see Enlora was not one for idle chatter, so he didn’t bother trying. The quiet was actually rather nice. He walked over to the window and gazed out into the night, then turned and went to the piano, striking a few chords, which turned into a tune.

“You didn’t tell me you could play,” Enlora said.

“My brother Andromin and father are the musicians in the family. But I know a couple of pieces. Would you like me to play?” Caprius asked.

“No!” Enlora said sharply. She raised her hands and lowered her voice. “Sorry, I only mean to say that we have no time for music. We must finish this portrait.”

“Yes, I understand,” said Caprius, though he did not. Her behavior was so erratic. It was unsettling.

Caprius returned to his chair, and Enlora picked up her brush. He was becoming concerned that Enlora was so driven to finish her portrait that Calista might not have enough time to explore the house. He tried to converse, hoping it would help him stall for time. “How long have you been painting?”

“Nearly twenty-one years. I started when I was just nine years old. My father was a painter, and I would paint alongside him, simple things like objects. Then I expanded into portraits. I love painting people. I have even done landscapes. But portraits are my preference. There is also a great deal of money in it.”

“How did you join up with the art gallery?”

“I approached Mr. Doody six years ago. I told him if he would agree to my business proposition, I would give him a cut of forty percent. I told him with his help and my knowledge we could make this venture work out. He saw it as a way to get extra money, and being a sound businessman, he agreed.”

Caprius was relieved she was pausing to answer his questions. Clearly, when it came to her painting, she was happy to talk.

Meanwhile, Calista was making her way through the main floor of the house. When she came to the corner room where Caprius and Enlora were chatting, she paused and peered through a crack in the door. Down in the village the church bells began to toll. They were still loud, but from this distance, the sound was manageable.

Caprius heard them, and they brought his thoughts back to the battle they had endured a few days prior. Enlora spoke, interrupting his memory. “There, Mr. Seaton, the painting is finished. You may have a look at it.” She stood and gestured to him that he should come by her side.

Caprius approached the canvas and looked at the portrait. He nearly gasped; it was as if he were looking at his twin sitting in the room with him. But it had a ghostly quality to it, as if his other self had passed away long ago, and this was a relic of him in life. “You have really captured the very essence of my soul,” he whispered. He turned to her. “But now I must get that information from you. Where is that watch shop?”

“Come with me to the second floor. The paper with the address is up there,” she said. Enlora took Caprius’s arm in hers and left the room. Calista, who was in the hall, stepped back into the shadows just as they passed.

Caprius and Enlora walked up the staircase and went into the bedroom. The room was large and luxurious with gilt and scarlet velvet furnishings. Heavy drapes hung over the windows, and it smelled of decaying roses. The bed was the centerpiece; it was large, round, and covered in satin pillows. Enlora opened the dresser drawer. She rifled through some papers until she found the one she was looking for. “Mr. Seaton, I have the address to the clock shop you want,” she said.

Caprius reached for the paper, but she pulled it away. “All in good time,” she said. She lifted her face to meet his gaze with her own, then reached up and softly kissed him on the lips. She took his hand and led him to her bed, lying down and guiding him to lie beside her. She glanced at his solace claymore before quickly returning her eyes to his.

Downstairs, Calista had found a secret staircase that led to the cellar. She was glad she’d taken a candlestick from the kitchen, for it provided her the only light source down there. At the bottom of the stairs was a large empty room. She walked through it and into another room.

Caprius knew he had to comply with Enlora’s sexual desires to get what he needed. Somehow he knew if he dashed to her dresser and found the paper among the many papers there, there would be a confrontation that might lead to disastrous results. He told himself this as Enlora pulled her dress over her head and straddled Caprius naked. She brushed her hair back, then took his right hand and, with a silk scarf, tied his wrist to the bedpost; then, with another scarf, she tied his other wrist. She began to undress him.

Calista was perplexed that these cellar rooms should be so very empty. She came to a third room, and there was a coffin on a stand. Calista was startled, wondering whether it was a tribute to a dead husband or relative until she opened the lid and saw it was empty.

“My God. Enlora is a vampire,” Calista whispered. She held up the candlestick and saw paintings hanging on the wall, all portraits. She understood now that they were victims to Enlora’s hunger for blood. Calista’s heart seized; she realized Caprius was alone with her and that he was in trouble. Her eyes widened. She threw the candlestick into the casket. It quickly caught fire. Calista ran from the room and had to find her way out in the darkness. She bumped into walls and tripped, but she felt her way along the floor and eventually found the stairs leading up.

She darted to the room where Enlora had painted Caprius’s portrait, but the room was empty. Calista quickly took the staircase that lead to the second floor.

In the bedroom, Enlora was straddling Caprius. She slowly began to stroke his inner thigh, moving up and down from his hardening manhood to his boot, up and down. Caprius began to moan and looked at the ceiling. When she was sure he was lost to his ecstasy, she snatched the dagger from inside his boot and held it before her, stroking the blade. Caprius’s claymore began to vibrate and hum an eerie song of sadness. So excited by the blade in her hand was she that sharp white fangs grew from Enlora’s mouth. Caprius’s eyes widened, but he said nothing.

Calista, hearing the song of the claymore, ran from room to room. Enlora held the dagger up high, an evil grin on her face. Downstairs, the fire had engulfed the cellar and was making its way up to the first floor. It caught in the corner room where Caprius’s painting stood. In seconds, the oils on the painting began to run. In moments, his face was unrecognizable. A flame burst through the painting at the eye of Caprius’s face and spread, consuming the entire canvas.

In Enlora’s bedroom, a dagger held high above his heart, Caprius struggled to free his hands. Enlora’s eyes began to glow red. Calista appeared at the doorway and saw Enlora reach back as if preparing to plunge the dagger into Caprius’s chest. Calista quickly prepared her bow and arrow, pulled the string back, and released. The arrow arced through the air. Just as Enlora was about to stab Caprius, the arrow pierced the side of her head. Her eyes rolled backward, and her naked body crumpled onto Caprius, who was too embarrassed and relieved to enjoy it.

Calista ran to Caprius and began to untie him. She had to shove the corpse of Enlora aside, and she landed bum side up. “Is this what you call getting to the bottom of things?” Calista asked Caprius. Calista looked at the lifeless naked Enlora Renfield and began to laugh.

“Sorry, but I was a little too tied up to notice,” said Caprius.

Calista sat on the bed. “I’d love to take advantage of this moment,” she smirked, “But, I sort of set the house on fire. We should probably go.”

Caprius looked at his partner, amazed at how unflappable she was. He opened his mouth to make a smart retort but thought better of it when he realized he hadn’t gotten what he came for. “The information; it’s on one of those papers on the dresser,” he said.

Calista ran over and riffled through the papers. She held one up. “Here we go. No, wait a minute. This isn’t the address of a clock shop. Why, this is the address of a church.”

“Is there anything else on that dresser?” asked Caprius.

“Let me see.” She ruffled through stuff. “No. This is all we’ve got. But we’ve got an address. 661 Ainsworth. It has a name on the card, a Sister Mildred.”

“Then, that’s our contact!” said Caprius.

Calista turned over the business card. “There’s a note on the back of the card. It says, ‘kill Sister Laura.’”

“So I see. You know what that means, Calista.”

Caprius paced back and forth. “It means Sister Mildred can’t be trusted. She’s one of them!” said Calista.

“This means if Enlora had failed to dispose of me, or us, she would have made sure that sister Mildred would destroy us.”

“But, how? We’re knight masters,” said Calista.

“There is more to this church than meets the eye, something very foul.”

“Do you think that entire church is up to no good, Caprius?”

“No, I don’t think so. Sister Laura’s life is in danger. What’s the name of the church?”

“A St. Basil’s Church,” she replied. “Caprius?” Calista said in a humble voice. “Sister Laura might already be dead.”

“We have to leave immediately. We have to get to Sister Laura. We have to get her to a safe place.”

“Come on, let’s go.” Calista grabbed Caprius’s hand, and they ran out of the room and down the hall. Flames were halfway up the stairs. They ran back up and into Enlora’s bedroom. Caprius dislodged his claymore of power and channeled his powers at the wall. In a second, the claymore blew a hole through the stone.

“Come on, jump!” Caprius said. Without hesitation, Calista jumped out of the second-story room and landed in a snow bank. Caprius leaped after her and landed beside her, his face inches from hers. They were both breathing hard. Caprius stared at her for a second, then grabbed her by the back of her head and kissed her.

“What was that for?” she asked gently when they took a pause.

“For saving my life,” he said.

“Remind me to do it more often,” she said.

They picked themselves up and made tracks through the snow away from the house. Moments later, behind them, the house exploded, flame and embers shooting into the sky like a volcanic eruption. From their safe distance, Caprius and Calista paused and looked back at the burning home. Caprius pulled Calista into a hug. He said into her hair, “Calista, you don’t have to leave Castle Elysium. I want you to stay. I reacted badly. Selfishly.” Calista smiled, happy in his muscular arms and thrilled to hear him say these precious words.

“Really?” she asked. She was surprised to see that his eyes were wet.

“I feel safer with you by my side,” he said, pulling back to look her in the eyes. “Will you stay?”

“I’ll think about it,” she smirked. “You’ll just have to work for it.” She touched his cheek. They turned and walked back to Jethro, now warm against the icy night.

[]Chapter 10

Quantum Heights- Excerpt 8

No book is complete without a dramatic conclusion. And the ending is nothing less than spectacular! From the city of Elysium, to the train ride to Koriston, to the dramatic vampire fight in Jethro, and now to an explosive conclusion at Quantum Heights, we near the end of the story. The clock is ticking, and time is running out. Time and time again we are bewildered by the stamina and determination of Calista Genesis and Caprius Seaton. Let us see how this all unfolds…

***

Calista checked Tilly’s pulse. “She is dead,” she said. “You didn’t have to kill her.”

“Oh, but I did. I wanted to show you both that a bullet is quicker than a blade,” said Lavender. “So, if the two of you want to stay alive, you’ll do exactly what I say.”

“What do you want, Frikiseed?” asked Caprius.

“What do I want? What do you think I want, moron?” Lavender pointed the gun at Calista. “Take it out, Caprius, real slow. And put it on the table. Or your lady friend here dies.” Caprius slowly took out his claymore of power from his sheath and placed it on the table. “Now, turn the sword’s handle toward me.” Caprius did as he was told. “Push it here.” Lavender picked up the claymore. “Now, you, up!” he said to Calista. Just then, the waiter approached with drinks. When he saw what was happening, he jerked backward, spilling the glasses on his tray.

Lavender pointed the gun at the waiter and shot him. The waiter dropped to the floor. “The drinks are on you,” he chuckled, then pointed the gun again at Calista. “All right, Calista, my sweet, you’re coming with me. This way.” Calista glanced quickly at Caprius before walking down the aisle in front of Frikiseed. “And you, don’t get any ideas, or you’ll have her blood on your hands.”

Calista walked toward the front of the car with Lavender’s gun at her back. They went through the doors into the next car, then through that car and into another. At the table, Caprius sat quietly, trying to devise a plan for getting her back. After enough moments had passed, he jumped up and followed them.

When Lavender and Calista arrived at the front of the train, only the engine remained. They went into the engine car. “OK, stop here,” he said. “Now, unhook the train from the engine,” said Lavender, nudging Calista with his gun. Calista unhooked the first car, and they separated. She watched regretfully as the train separated from the engine where she stood alone with Lavender and the conductor, who she was sure would soon be dead, too.

As Caprius walked through the aisles, he noticed the train was slowing down. He knew instantly that Lavender had unhooked the cars and made his getaway on the engine. He thought a moment. Then, as the train lost its momentum and stopped, he bolted toward the back. He passed through each car on his way to the last, people turning in confusion, not only at the stopped train, but also at the knight with no sword sprinting through.

When he came to the first freight car, he opened the door and saw the horses. The conductor turned around to see Lavender pointing his gun at Calista. “What the hell is going on?” he asked.

“Just shut up and keep going,” said Lavender.

“Is that one of those new guns?” asked the conductor nervously.

“No talking from you,” said Lavender. The conductor turned around and, with shaking hands, kept the train moving on course.

The train continued to travel up into the mountains. Calista stood by the wall, never removing her eyes from Lavender. “Since you’re undoubtedly going to kill us both,” said Calista, “you could at least reveal the hiding place of the vampire nest. It wasn’t in Jethro; the cult there was too small. It has to be somewhere we’d least expect it,” said Calista.

Lavender laughed. “Calista, you are right. There will be no hero rescues here. You’re on your own. So, of course, I can let you in on my little secret.” He leaned in and whispered. “We’re going to the nest right now.” He cackled.

“What do you mean? We’re headed for… oh, no. You’re planning on striking Quantum Heights?” asked Calista, astonished.

“Wouldn’t you know that we’ve been nesting in the hotel basement all along! Slowly multiplying. In”—he checked his pocket watch—“exactly twenty minutes, if not sooner, all the civilians vacationing there will be undead. We can’t be stopped!” grinned Lavender. Then, his face darkened. “By the time we arrive, it will all be over.”

Caprius had gotten into the freight car, where he saw horses.

Calista was dumbfounded. She became angry. “All those innocent people,” she whispered. Her hand instinctively crept down to her claymore of power. Lavender nudged her arm away with his gun. “Ah, ah, keep your hands off your claymore. And you, driver, look at me!” The conductor, who was trying to see what was happening behind him, spun back around to the front. “Wait, come back,” said Lavender. “I want you to take the lady’s sword. Do it!” Lavender yelled. The man leaned over and took Calista’s sword. “Now, open your window and throw it out.” He did as he was told. All three watched the claymore bounce off the rails and sink into a snow bank before they sped out of sight. “Now, then, my good fella, you have overstayed your welcome. I have no more use for you.” Lavender fired at the conductor and killed him. He crumpled onto the floor.

“How many people have you killed?” asked Calista.

“Do I hear judgment in your voice, Calista? How many of my kind have you killed? No matter, though. I’m about to kill you, and we can stop the cycle right here.”

As Lavender raised his gun, Caprius was racing on horseback, trying to catch up to the train’s engine. He galloped as fast as his horse would go over the snow-covered ground. As he rode, sweat and tears clouding his vision, he saw Grongone’s face in the clouds above. Grongone used the vim of Petoshine and threw it down to Calista’s claymore of power nestled in the snow. The tip glowed blue. Caprius looked into Grongone’s eyes before the blue light caught his attention. Caprius slowed his horse to retrieve the sword. He held out his hand and channeled his inner power. The sword began to vibrate and shake, its blue glow strengthening. Caprius sped up, leaned over, and forced the sword into his hand. Grongone’s face disappeared from the clouds. Caprius picked up speed and soon saw the engine on the tracks.

Calista saw over Lavender’s shoulder a small figure. As it approached, she could see it was Caprius on horseback. She began to inch back toward the controls.

She purposefully made a frightened face and looked out the side window. Lavender followed her, and in that instant she lunged at the controls and pulled down the emergency brake. The engine screeched to a stop. Both Calista and Lavender fell over from the abrupt motion; startled, Lavender fired as he went down. Calista jumped on top of Lavender, and they struggled for the gun. When the train stopped, Lavender cracked Calista hard across the face and pushed her off him. He took his gun and pointed it at her.

“Poor, pathetic Calista,” said Lavender, aiming at her heart. Just as Lavender was just about to squeeze the trigger, a claymore of power burst through Lavender’s back and out through his stomach. A red glow appeared from the sword, which ignited a flame. The fire spread throughout Lavender’s midsection. He looked down at his body, in shock and perplexed. “But, how…” he began before Caprius, who had boarded the engine car, yanked the sword out of Lavender’s body. Calista accepted her claymore of power that Caprius held out to her, channeled her powers, and blew a force of energy at Lavender, sending him as a blazing torch flying out of the engine car and onto the snow.

They sheathed their swords and smiled. “It’s over,” said Caprius. “We did it.”

Calista returned to the controls. “Not yet, I’m afraid. Lavender said that the vampire nest is in the basement of Quantum Heights. We have about ten minutes before the entire hotel is infested with vampires.”

Caprius swallowed. “My God. Under our noses all this time.” Caprius ran his hand through his hair. “We have to get to the hotel. When we get there, we will have to burn it down.”

Calista chuckled ruefully. “Mr. Willy B. Pinkles is not going to like that.”

“He’ll like that more than becoming a vampire, I assure you,” Caprius said. Caprius joined Calista at the controls. He put his hand gently atop hers, and together they pulled the lever up slowly until the engine began to pick up speed. Soon the engine was moving at a good clip over the tracks.

***

The Goncool who Cynthia was chasing had arrived at the Quantum Heights hotel. Cynthia was approaching the grand hotel. The Goncool opened the doors and headed for the basement. Cynthia entered the hotel doors. As she looked in the distance, she saw him enter a room. He went down the stairs to the basement. Cynthia walked in and heard the thumping of footsteps going down the stairs. The Goncool arrived in a large basement hall. There he saw other Goncools, vampires, and Droges. Cynthia came down the stairs, slowly opened the door, and glanced in. She hid, spying on them. She saw the creatures of the underworld. The Goncool was talking. Cynthia knew she was outnumbered by many. She knew that approaching them was suicide. She squinted her eyes and drew her hand across her hair. “Shit. I’m too late,” she said.

***

The train picked up speed until it was storming at full capacity across the tracks. They drove across a long bridge that stood one hundred and fifty feet over the sea. Ahead were the mountains of Morbid, smaller mountains near the Moldavian Sea. The sky above was thick with storm clouds, but the moon shown through, creating an eerie white glow over the snowy mountains. The engine traveled over the bridge and was soon again on land. “Calista, get down. We’re going to make a dramatic entrance!” said Caprius. They threw themselves onto the floor. The engine went right through the train station, careened off the tracks, and slammed into the hotel Quantum Heights. The impact caused the engine to flip over onto its side, but Caprius and Calista hung on. The engine slid on its side through the hotel lobby, throwing sofas and tables into the air. People were screaming and running, expensive vases were shattering, and water and flowers were flying every which way. Paintings hanging on the walls came crashing down. The engine kept on through the marble room, crushing the concierge desk and a ghoulish vampire who had come up from the nest. Its skull was bashed in, and blood splattered everywhere. Finally, the engine came to a stop. Cynthia heard the crash. She knew her mission to destroy the serum was foiled. But she had managed to destroy Cyril Colburn. For that she was satisfied. She went back up the stairs. She arrived at the hotel lobby to find a train had crashed through. She observed the fire. Calista was lying on top of Caprius, their bodies pressed against each other. She could feel his heart beating inside her own body. Though she wanted nothing more than to stay with her body on his, Calista turned away from Caprius at the smell of hot wires. In an instant, a fire sparked in the engine, and the engine burst into flames. The concierge desk close by caught fire, and the fire caught on all the splintered wood spread throughout the lobby. Calista crawled out of the engine, and Caprius followed. They stood on top of the engine by the doors, the engine on its side. They noticed that a number of vampires, in anticipation of their big event, had come up and were shaken by the blast. “We have to get off the engine! It’s going to blow!” Calista yelled. They jumped down and unsheathed their swords in preparation for combat, then ran into the adjoining hall, blowing out flames with their claymores as they went. Spotting a spiral staircase, they noticed Cynthia watching.

“Nice to see the two of you,” said Cynthia.

“Did you stop Colburn?” asked Calista.

“Colburn is dead. I burned down the warehouse. But a Goncool escaped with the serum. I chased him to Quantum Heights. They’re downstairs. They’re plotting their next move,” said Cynthia.

“Cynthia, Calista and I have to go downstairs. We have to destroy them.”

“There’s something big transpiring down there. There’s a large coffin, vampires, and Droges. It’s too much for me to handle,” said Cynthia.

“It’s far too dangerous for you. This calls for the powers of Petoshine,” said Caprius. “You get out of here, Cynthia. Your job is done. Let’s go, Calista.” Caprius and Calista ran down the stairs to the basement. Cynthia looked around to see fire everywhere. The entrance to the hotel was blocked and in flames. She began to walk quickly up the stairs.

Caprius and Calista entered the basement hall. They slowly approached the vampires and the Goncool. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the knight master Caprius and the infamous Calista. So nice of you to join us. And you have the claymores of power. I have been expecting you.”

“It ends here, Goncool,” said Caprius. Caprius and Calista noticed a coffin in the center. Beside the coffin was Lydia, the vampire sorceress.

“Get them!” the Goncool yelled. Suddenly, the Droges ran with swift speed. These were super Droges. The vampires readied themselves. Caprius and Calista swung their swords. They were slaughtering the Droges. A quick swing of the sword and Calista gutted a Droge. Another swing and Caprius severed a Droge’s head. The fighting went on. Calista was knocked with great force, sending her flying into the vampires. The vampires grabbed hold of her. One of them grabbed her claymore of power from her. “Stop!” the Goncool yelled. Caprius saw that Calista was at the mercy of vampires. Caprius backed off. “Now that I have your attention, Caprius, walk toward me.” Caprius slowly walked toward them, holding his claymore of power. A Droge who was near Caprius growled and snarled. The Droge walked with him. “All I need is one claymore of power. I have one. Calista, my dear, in case you get any ideas…” he paused. “Take off her arrow pack and throw it over there. And get rid of the bow.” They threw the arrow sack and bow across, landing by the door.

Meanwhile, Cynthia was walking up the stairs. She stopped and thought about her friends. “No, I can’t leave them. I have to go back,” she said. She ran down the stairs. In the basement, the coffin was opened to find the corpse of Titanis Clore. Lydia stood by the coffin holding the sword of Petoshine.

“Once this ritual is complete, and my powers bring Titanis Clore back from the dead, he will embrace the powers of Petoshine. Give him the ultimate power and strength. Then not even Grongone’s power can destroy him.” Lydia began her ritual. “You, Caprius Seaton, will not interfere. Or we will rip off Calista’s arms,” said Lydia.

Caprius smirked. He recalled the words of Grongone. “All right, Lydia, you win. I won’t interfere. Go ahead with your ritual.”

***

From the dark, dismal basement of hotel Quantum Heights we are taken up the stairs where the fighting is intense. After a tremendous fight with the Goncools and the vampires, we get to the conclusion…

***

“Up the staircase!” Caprius said to Calista and Cynthia. They ran up the staircase, setting the stairs beneath them on fire. Extending over the whole front façade of the hotel were giant French windows. When they arrived on the fourteenth floor, three vampire creatures appeared at the top of the staircase and began to come down to meet the three knights. Caprius sliced the first one through its middle, and the two parts tumbled down the stairs and crashed into the wall. Calista decapitated the second vampire. The head tumbled lightly down the stairs, but its body was heavy and smashed into Calista, causing her to step back and nearly lose her balance before she was able to shove the body away and down the stairs. Now that she and Caprius had reached the fifteenth floor, there were no staircases. Cynthia was surprised by two vampires and drew both her small swords, slaughtering them. They ran through the hall, and vampires approached them by dozens. As they passed through the hall, Caprius and Calista set the walls ablaze, creating a tunnel of fire. The vampires attacked ceaselessly, and the three knights came at them swinging. They sliced off head after head and sent body parts every which way. At one vampire, Calista swung but missed, and the vampire leaned in and shoved her against the wall. He came to her and held her aloft against the wall by her neck. She still had her sword and jabbed it into the creature’s side, channeling her powers and setting the creature on fire. Though it was engulfed in flames and melting, the disintegrating creature held on to her as it screamed in pain mere centimeters away from her face. She grimaced and blindly swung her sword, slicing off the creature’s hand from its wrist. She fell to the floor beside the remains of the vampire, it smoldering and stinking as it turned into a pool of vampire flesh. Calista ran to Caprius. He was hacking away at a vampire, and she got in the way of his sword. Her reflexes saved her as her blade met with a clang.

“Watch where you’re swinging that thing!” she said. They had no time to share in the joke, though, as they each had to contend with yet another vampire. They swung their swords in tandem, decapitating them simultaneously. “Why don’t we just run right through them!” said Calista. So they did. With their claymores outstretched, they bolted down the hall, slicing at any vampire who came too close. Soon, the clutch of creatures was behind them, seething and snarling like rabid animals. With some distance separating the knights from the creatures, Caprius and Calista turned around to face a mass of them, channeled their powers, and threw large flames from their swords at the group, engulfing the creatures with fire. The hall burned like an inferno. Caprius, Calista, and Cynthia turned and ran. At the end of the hall, they came to another set of stairs. They ran up several floors to come to a staircase leading to the twenty-third floor.

At the top, two vampires stood waiting for them. Goncools. These Goncools had consumed Makoor’s blood. Caprius and Calista slowly walked up, their swords dripping with vampire blood. The Goncools gazed down at them. “Careful, you’re dripping,” Caprius nodded to Calista’s sword. “We really should try not to make such a mess,” he said, trying to keep a straight face.

“Right, we don’t want to damage the hotel. Mr. Pinkles wouldn’t like that,” said Calista.

The Goncool ran toward Caprius. Caprius rose to his feet, only to be pushed against the balcony railing. The two pushed against each other, with Caprius’s back at the railing. As they rolled, the Goncool now had his back against the railing. Pushing their swords against each other, the Goncool took his other hand, grabbing Caprius from below at his crotch. The Goncool swung him over his head, and Caprius was thrown over the side of the tower.

Calista yelled, “No!” Calista ran toward the Goncool, swinging her sword. The two clashed their swords and fought. As Caprius was falling, with quick thinking he reached for his Graffel gel tool and shot a thread that lassoed onto a stump on the rail of the balcony. The thread, being gel-based, acted like an elastic band, tossing Caprius up. Caprius swung to the side, swinging onto the balcony railing. As he climbed over the railing, he ran toward Calista, who fought the Goncool. Caprius saw Nero as he slew the last of the vampires.

“Way to go, Nero; now get to your hot air balloon!” cried Caprius. “Now!” Nero, not at all surprised to see the knight covered in blood and floating down to the ground on magical powers, gave Caprius a thumbs-up. But, in a moment of Caprius’s inattention, the slain vampire rose again and grabbed him. He drove his fist into Nero, gutting him in one fell swoop. Nero collapsed to the floor, his entrails spilling from his body. Caprius cried out, “No!” The Goncool, who had gone through the upstairs window and was resting on the balcony floor, got up as if nothing had happened and laughed. Enraged, Caprius and Calista swung their swords, but the Goncool fought back easily. Caprius had pushed the Goncool back hard to crack the railing of the balcony. They fought, the three of them, hard and long. Calista slashed the creature’s thigh at the artery, but he simply touched it and healed instantly. They resumed their fight, swords striking fiercely so fast and hard it was difficult to tell whose sword was whose. The knights were losing steam, but they didn’t dare let up, for the Goncool wouldn’t stop until they were both dead; this much they knew. Then, without any warning, the Goncool made a horrific face and shrieked, then choked on his own blood coming up his throat. It took Caprius and Calista a moment to understand what was happening. They backed up and realized a sword had come out through the creature’s neck from the back. It was Nero. Nero collapsed onto the floor. He fell back, drained from his last heroic effort. Calista wasted no time. She drove her sword into the Goncool’s chest, channeling her powers. Caprius then drove his claymore of power into the Goncool’s face. Their swords burst out fire, and the Goncool was instantly set ablaze. They held their swords momentarily into its body, watching the fire engulf him. They retracted their swords, and the Goncool ran screaming toward the end of the balcony. He broke through the loose railing and fell down the mountainside to his death.

Caprius and Calista ran to Nero and knelt down. Caprius elevated Nero’s head on his knee. “Nero,” said Caprius humbly, “I cannot believe—”

“That was just such a brave thing you did,” said Calista. “Standing up to that Goncool.”

Nero tried to breath. “You’re, you’re out of danger,” Nero gasped.

“Yes, thanks to you,” said Caprius.

“Now go, my friends. Take the balloon and save yourselves.” The knights looked back at the hotel; the fire had spread throughout the whole building. Nero took his last breath, shuttered, and died. Caprius put his friend’s head down gently. He and Calista both stood up and gazed down at the poor, lifeless Nero.

“We have to get off this mountain and away from the hotel,” said Calista.

“Yes, it’s what Nero wanted. He was such a good man. To the balloon, quickly!” said Caprius. They ran to it and climbed into the basket.

“Can you fly this thing?” asked Calista.

“I hope so. Now’s a good time to learn how, anyway,” said Caprius, trying to figure out the levers. Calista looked back behind them and felt the heat of the fire on her face.

“Whatever you’ve got to do, do it faster!” she said.

“I’m trying! I think I’ve got it!” said Caprius. The balloon slowly began to rise, but instead of taking them out of danger, it was drifting them directly toward the hotel. Caprius tried some other levers, and the balloon lurched even closer to the fire.

“Caprius!” Calista cried out. Caprius tried another combination of levers, and suddenly, gently the balloon began to sail away from Hotel Quantum Heights. “Caprius! Look over there. It’s Cynthia.” And indeed it was. She was trying to escape the towering inferno.

***

The story of Quantum Heights goes on to present an explosive and dramatic conclusion.

Richard A. Valicek has redeveloped the world of Alamptria in a new, exciting way.

To purchase the entire book of Quantum Heights, click below.

[+ www.amazon.com/Quantum-Heights-Book-Dead-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0183YDI0S+]?

[+ www.amazon.co.uk/Quantum-Heights-Book-Dead-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0183YDI0S/+]

[]Chapter 11

Serenity Incident- Crimson Peak

The Dead Path Chronicles reignites the very first book Alamptria: Red Moon Rising in a whole new way. The retelling of the original book is indeed very, very, different, and it is a welcome addition to the Dead Path Chronicles series. This book is a prequel to Quantum Heights, and I’d now like to release to you a brand new chapter in book two of the Dead Path Chronicles: Serenity Incident. The following is the chapter entitled “Crimson Peak.” Enjoy the read!

***

Caprius was knocked out unconscious with his head back. His forehead was bloodstained. There was deep snow here. A half hour passed, and he still was not conscious. Not far from the vehicle, a woman walked the deep snow in her combat outfit. She was taking an afternoon walk with caution. As she now approached, she noticed the damaged vehicle. She came closer. She looked into the car window to see Caprius injured and unconscious. The windshield was cracked in several places.

“Oh my god,” she said. “I hope he’s all right.” Suddenly, Magula bats swarmed down on top of the car. They began chewing on the metal; they sensed the smell of blood inside the car. “Oh no!” she cried. The woman pointed her left arm, pushed a button on her palm, and produced a blast of frost. The icy frost was two hundred degrees below, and instantly the Magulas froze solid, their teeth etched into the metal of the car. Then a push of another button on her left palm produced a sonic, high-pitched sound wave, and the Magulas’ icy exterior exploded, including their exoskeletons. She rushed to the vehicle. She tried opening the car door by the driver’s seat. It was stuck. She yanked harder and harder. Finally, she forced the door open. She felt Caprius’s pulse. “He’s alive.”

She unbuckled his seat belt. “Come on, my young lad. We’ll get you out of here.” She managed to get Caprius out of the car as he fell to the snowy ground. “Now how am I going to get you home?” She cut the seat belt strap from the car and tied it around his feet. Then she grabbed the strap, slung it over her shoulder, and pulled Caprius’s body along the snowy ground. She pulled him to a nearby cottage. She opened the door, untied the seat belt strap on Caprius’s feet, and lifted him up. She was a strong but attractive, beautiful, blond-haired woman. She slumped him onto the sofa, which was near a fireplace. She went back outside and grabbed Caprius’s sword. “He may need this,” she said. Walking back into the cottage, she went to the bathroom, took a cloth, and wet it with water. Then she stood by Caprius’s side and lay the folded cloth onto Caprius’s forehead. She looked down into his face. “What a beautiful man,” she muttered. She put her hand on his face. Caprius’s eyelids began to twinkle. As he opened his eyes, he found the woman staring down at him with a smile.

“Who are you? Where am I?” he asked.

“My name is Shelly Hathoway. You’re in my cottage,” she said.

“Where is your cottage?” he asked.

“You’re at Pinewood Hills,” she said.

Caprius sat up. “I have to leave, immediately.”

“You’re in no condition to walk. You’ve just been in an accident.”

“My sword. Where’s my sword?” he asked.

“It’s over there on the table.”

“I need to get to my vehicle.”

“Hate to tell you, but your car is a total wreck. It’s inoperable.”

“Oh great. The rental department isn’t going to like this,” he said. “Can you drive me to Hillcrest Hills?”

“Look, I can see you’re in a hurry. Why don’t you stay here for a while, and I’ll fix you something to eat.”

“You don’t understand. I’m an agent. I work for the Elysian Assault Force. I’m on a mission. I need to get to where I’m going. I have an air shuttle at Hillcrest Hills. I need to get to it right away. There’s a terror plot, and I have to stop it!”

“All right, I believe you. But you need to get some food in your stomach. Have a bite to eat, and I’ll drive you to Hillcrest.”

“Okay. I’ll stay a while.”

She cooked up a quick lunch for him. They sat and talked. Caprius was feeling better and enjoyed the conversation.

“I see you have a picture on the wall of your father with a dolphin,” said Caprius. “And I see the other picture on the wall. You have a twin sister.”

“My father died two years ago. It was cancer. He had been fighting it for nearly three years. The chemotherapy helped at first. But the cancer came back.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” said Caprius. “You have any other family?”

“My mother divorced my father when I was only twelve. I keep in touch with her. She usually calls me every week. She’s supposed to call today.” Suddenly the phone rang. “Oh, hold on. That’s her right now.” She got off her chair and walked over to the phone. She picked it up and began to talk. “Oh, hello. Yes, I know. The Goncool oppression must not succeed. How many dead? We can be thankful that the casualties are low. Have the team meet me at the Hillcrest Pub tomorrow at noon. Bye.” She hung up.

“That was my contact.”

“I didn’t know you’re fighting the Goncools. You’re an agent!” said Caprius, astonished.

“Yes. On a mission for the Hillcrest Secret Service,” she said. “How are you involved in this?”

“The Elysian government is directly involved. After the bombing in Jasper, the cities have been put on full alert.”

“Yes, it is the same here in Pinewood,” she said. “I think maybe we should pull our resources together.”

“It seems we’re fighting the same war. I have a lead. A man by the name of Rover Tilbury knows the whereabouts of the Goncool stronghold. I have to find out what he knows. I must fly to Hillcrest Hills.”

“That is important,” she said. “We can help each other out.”

“How good of a fighter are you?”

“I’m quite good. I received many awards in judo competitions. Five first-place finishes.” She paused. “I’ll leave the dishes alone. Let’s sit on the sofa for a bit, and then we’ll drive to Hillcrest.” They sat and talked. “But first I have to cancel my meeting tomorrow.”

“Your people will understand?” he asked.

“I’ll just tell them I’m involved with the prince of Elysium and that we’ve teamed up. Since you have a good lead, they will understand.”

“So you know who I am,” he said.

“There’s hardly anyone who hasn’t heard of Caprius Seaton in this part of the world, or in Alamptria for that matter.” One thing led to another, and Shelly Hathoway lay a kiss upon Caprius. They began to kiss passionately. Caprius found his lips on her neck. She closed her eyes and fantasized. Then Caprius let her go.

“No, I can’t. I’m engaged to be married,” he said.

She undid her jacket and shirt, exposing her breasts. She put his hand upon her breast. “Consider it your bachelor party.” Again she kissed him.

“No, Shelly. We have to go,” he said.

She got off the sofa, and Caprius looked at her beauty. “I just have to make that call.” She tried making the phone call, but there was nothing but static. She decided on another approach. She pushed a button underneath a nearby table. The table flipped horizontally 180 degrees. A communication and security defense-targeting machine had appeared. Then she pushed another button, and a bright white light appeared hovering above the table. She entered a series of digits and pushed another button. “Red boot to command. Red boot to command, do you copy?” Within seconds, a three-dimensional head of a man appeared. The image had a bit of a distortion, as there was some interference. She tried to enhance the signal. “Gambit, can you hear me?” she asked. She had given command a message, but only luck would allow the message to be received. “It’s no good. I don’t know if they received the message,” said Shelly.

“This communication disruption can only mean that the Goncools know our whereabouts,” said Caprius.

Suddenly a red light flickered on and off on the console. As Shelly looked at it, she quickly pushed another button, and a series of small monitors came up from the consol. She quickly turned on six switches, six switches for six monitors. “We’ve got company. They found us,” she said.

“Not the sort of company one would want,” said Caprius. She quickly pushed another button, and up popped the target defense system. From the small attic above them came a series of weapons. Vampires, Goncools, and Magulas were approaching. They looked at the monitors. With the enemy now in sight, Shelly had her hand on a hand controller and fired the machine gun. Immediately the gunner dispersed many bullets. As she held the controller, the gunner swivelled from one side to another, up and down, firing bullets. Vampires were struck, and they plummeted down to the ground. She saw a vampire that had landed on top of the roof. As the vampire walked the rooftop, Shelly waited. When the vampire was in position, she pushed a button, and from within the roof sprang a sharp, long knife, which came out at the vampire’s feet and ripped through its flesh, coming out of the vampire’s neck. Another blade emerged from the first, penetrating the side of the vampire’s head. The creature was dead. Shelly immediately pushed another button, and the blades retracted back below the roof. The vampire fell dead and rolled off the roof onto the ground. She quickly put her hand back on the joystick, firing the gunner. More and more vampires swarming the sky were struck and fell dead. Caprius looked at one of the monitors and noticed a creature approaching the side of the cottage. He looked just below the monitor to see a targeting unit and an orange button. As he continued to watch, he saw the targeting unit light up, and he pushed the orange button. From the side of the cottage, a large flame came out of a metal pipe, which engulfed the creature. The creature burned with rage.

“How did you know about that?” asked Shelly.

“It was the Elysian defense system that gave your agency this weapon. We developed it. I recognize a number of these weapons.” Caprius looked at the side of the cottage from another viewpoint on a monitor. He saw a creature approaching. “You just stay on the gunner, and I’ll take care of the rest,” he said. When the creature came into his sights Caprius pushed a button, and in a split second a razor-sharp cutting tool came from the side wall, spinning with great speed and cutting the creature’s head off. The head tumbled down to the floor along with the body. The vampires continued to fly in the sky, making their way down toward the cottage. Suddenly, the roof began to vibrate.

“Oh no,” said Shelly. “Game over. The Magulas will rip through this roof in minutes. We have to go! Grab your weapon, Caprius.” A creature now approached the door of the cottage. Shelly activated an explosive device and locked it. She quickly opened a door hidden on the floor. “Come on! We’ve got less than one minute before this whole field blows up sky-high.” Caprius and Shelly went below and closed the underground entrance. They ran through the underground tunnel. “My car will be toast in a few minutes. But I’ve got another one underground,” she said.

“I didn’t know there was a tunnel underground here,” said Caprius.

“It was built by the Hesians nine centuries ago. They used it to hide from the Alfadores.”

Back in the cottage, three Goncools walked about. They were dressed in grey trench coats. One Goncool came to the weapon controls. He gestured to the other two Goncools. The two Goncools came over. As they looked at the weapon console they noticed a numbering system counting down. Four, three

“Oh shit,” said a Goncool. Suddenly there was a big blast, and the whole cottage was blown sky-high. The blast was enormous. Every Goncool, vampire, and Magula was destroyed.

Shelly Hathoway and Caprius drove in a car. They had just come out from underground through an entrance. The car was run-down and quite old. But it had good speed. Shelly stopped the car, turning it as she did so. She and Caprius looked out at the great mushroom cloud. “How did you come into possession of an atomic bomb?” asked Caprius.

“I found the bomb underground. It was from a past war. I said to myself I would use it only in a critical situation.”

“Well, this certainly was a state of emergency. I’m sorry you lost your home,” said Caprius. Shelly began to drive off.

She drove Caprius down the street, going down the sloped hill. Shelly looked over at him. She gave him a smile. Caprius smiled warmly back. She turned the corner and drove swiftly. She made several turns.

“Careful,” he said to her. “We don’t want to end up in a ditch.” She turned another corner. And now she drove straight ahead. “Park just ahead.”

Shelly hit the gas and began to speed. The car drove quickly. Caprius’s eyes widened. She hit the brakes and parked the car.

They got out of the car. Shelly took her two short swords, putting them into her sheaths swiftly. Caprius had his claymore of power. “Where about Hillcrest is your air shuttle?” Shelly asked.

“It’s just over that hill in a clearing,” he said. They began to walk in the deep snow. They walked for half an hour. Now they walked through the woods. “Now let me see. I think it’s this way.” He pointed. They walked downhill, passing the trees. The branches were blanketed with a light snowfall. As the branches crackled, the snow upon them fell to the ground. Now Caprius saw his shuttle in the distance. Walking, they now approached the air shuttle. Caprius pushed a few buttons on his right wristband. Steam blew out of the side of the ship, and the back door of the shuttle opened from the bottom. They walked in.

There wasn’t a lot of head room, as one had to crouch down a bit. It was a small ship from the inside. But the exterior of the ship made it seem wider. That’s because the exterior metal walls were equipped with all sorts of technological devices. And the exterior walls were quite thick and could take a very heavy collision. This was a four-seat shuttle. As they walked in, the lights all along the walls lit up. Each seat had a light above it giving a soft glow. Along the front of the shuttle’s interior, on the ceiling, were hundreds of red and blue light sensors that twinkled on and off vertically. They lit row by row from left to right, and as one row of light blinked off the next row blinked on. The lights blinking from left to right took half a second. Now they seated themselves and fastened their seat belts diagonally from below. “Put your helmet on,” he said to her.

Shelly slipped the helmet on. “It’s a little too big for me.”

“Push the large button on the right side above the ear,” said Caprius.

Immediately, a cushiony, foamlike material expanded, filling up the space on the sides of the helmet. At the ear there was a small, quarter-inch pinhole, which was a hearing aid. And now as they spoke the sound of their voices was heard in a mono sound, which was played at medium volume. One wouldn’t be able to hear one’s voice otherwise with the foam material. That’s why the hearing aid was installed. The helmet served as great protection in case of a crash landing.

“Shelly, push the blue button on your seat belt.” As Shelly pushed it, the strap that came from the top right of her shoulder to her bottom left side began to expand four inches from the center to two inches at the top and bottom of the strap, where it finished expanding. At a thickness of one inch the material hardened. It still provided good comfort. Caprius turned on the rearview monitor, which was in front of them in the center. He turned on the ignition by pushing an orange button, and the shuttle came to life. Then he pushed a white button, and the pistons blew out air. Caprius pulled down a lever on his right side, and the air shuttle strode on and upward. The shuttle now glided above the trees, flying low. They flew at an extremely low speed; the journey to their destination would take them only about six minutes. Caprius and Shelly looked out of the cockpit at their surroundings. Snow covered the trees. They were up on a hill, but the hills very much below them down the mountainside had little or no snow. They were now approaching a small home, which was situated on a small hill surrounded by a lake. You couldn’t park on land, as there was no place to touch down. “There it is,” said Caprius.

The sun was setting and cast a beautiful array of bright red colors. “It’s beautiful here,” she said.

“We’re making our descent now,” he said. Caprius pushed a button, and at the bottom of the shuttle two long, hard-cushioned rubber tubes began to inflate. The shuttle was white and silver with red, striped markings and lettering that red NIC CRO – T40. The rubber tubing that inflated was black. And now the shuttle skid along the water and touched the surface. The shuttle landed just at the shoreline. Caprius pulled down another lever, which caused the rubber tubing on the bottom to move back and rotate. The shuttle was pulled onto the shore, closer to land, but much of the shuttle still was on the water. With a push of the button, the top of the glass cockpit swung slowly open. They pushed a red button on their seat belts, and the belts deflated, becoming loose. They unfastened them. When they pushed a button on the left side of their helmets above their ears, the foam inside their helmets let loose. They took them off, setting them aside. Caprius then pushed a button, and at the center of the console the front of the shuttle descended to the ground in pieces, creating a series of steps. From the front of the shuttle they walked out. Caprius pushed a button in the center of the shuttle’s front side, and the cockpit quickly closed up. The stairs to enter the shuttle remained. A moment later, all the lights within the shuttle had shut down.

“Well, now that we’re here, we can pay our little visit. Just let me do the talking.”

“If he even is at home,” said Shelly. They began to walk up the rugged hilltop. It was hard on their knees. They came to a flight of concrete stairs. They walked up. The stairs circled up and to the left. At the side of the stairs the grass had pockets of snow. They went up nearly one hundred feet until they touched the surface. On the far left there was a cliff, and it went down straight into water.

They entered the walkway and came to the front door. Caprius tried turning the knob. “It’s open,” he whispered. They walked in. Walking the wooden hallway, they looked around. They checked one room and then the one in back. There was a light coming from beneath the door of the room on the left. Caprius slowly opened the door. As the door swung open, there stood a man who took a swing at Caprius. Caprius ducked and hurled the man over him. The man landed on his back. Shelly had entered the room to see another man seated at a table. He had been playing a game of chess with the other man. He did not move. He just looked at Shelly as she walked toward him. Caprius was run into by the man and pushed to the back wall. The man threw a punch at Caprius’s abdomen. Caprius pushed the man’s face with his hand. As the man drew back, Caprius swung his fist, hitting his face with his other hand.

“Don’t move,” Shelly said to the seated man. The man sat still, just looking at her. He seemed rather tired. The other man swung his fist at Caprius, missing, and Caprius grabbed his arm. He twisted the man’s arm, turning it behind his back. The man grabbed Caprius’s hand and swung around, and they pushed each other. Their hands were in the air, tight against each other. Caprius hit his forehead against the man’s nose, hard. His nose began to bleed. Caprius grabbed the man’s short hair with one hand and threw a punch at his face. The man drew back and lost part of his hair as it was torn off. Caprius looked at the clump of hair in his fist. He threw it away.

Slapping the man’s face with his back hand, Caprius clenched his fist and swung, hitting his jaw. The man’s tooth flew out. The man reached out, grabbing Caprius by his collar. As he pulled Caprius toward him, with his other hand he grabbed Caprius by the crotch and flipped him onto a table. Landing on the table, Caprius pulled the man toward him, and they both rolled off the table. Caprius landed on his back with the man on top of him. He pushed the man up, pulled him over his head, then flipped him over, throwing him. The man’s legs hit the wall. Caprius quickly turned, rose to his feet, and grabbed the man’s legs close to his shoulders. The man squeezed his legs together, grabbing Caprius’s neck. He twisted and flipped Caprius onto the floor. Caprius’s body hit a nearby table with all sorts of trinkets, a small brass clock, and a letter opener. The table’s front legs broke, and everything came crashing down on Caprius.

The letter opener slid toward the man. Looking at the letter opener, the man grabbed it and brought it down toward Caprius. Caprius had just sat up quickly as the letter opener’s point hit the floor. Caprius turned the man over, grabbing his wrist. They both struggled for the letter opener. Caprius overpowered him, bending the man’s wrist back. The letter opener fell to the floor. Caprius turned his back and hurled the man over him. As the man fell on his back, Caprius reached for the letter opener and quickly put it to the man’s neck. The man grabbed Caprius’s wrists. Caprius pushed down hard. The point of the letter opener came to the man’s windpipe. They struggled. With every ounce of strength, Caprius pushed down hard, penetrating the man’s windpipe. Blood oozed out. The man gasped as he held Caprius’s wrists. A moment later, the man’s eyes rolled back, and he was dead. The man’s hands fell to his chest. Caprius sat on the floor, looking down at the lifeless body. The letter opener pierced the man’s throat.

After taking several breaths, Caprius rose to his feet. He looked at the man seated by the chess table, Shelly standing by his side. He slowly walked over to them, fixing his posture. Caprius pulled the chair forward and sat down in front of the man. He looked into his eyes. The man looked like he was low on energy. As he looked closer, he noticed that the man was actually seated in a wheelchair. “You sick?” asked Caprius.

“I lost my legs years ago. They’re useless to me. Might as well cut them off,” said the man.

“You’re Rover Tilbury?” The man didn’t answer. “That’s okay. I know you are.” Caprius glared at his face. “You know why I’m here?” The man didn’t answer. “That’s okay. I know you do.”

“I was wondering when you’d come. They said that a Seaton would show up.”

“We haven’t got much time,” said Caprius.

“I guess my time has come. No matter. I don’t have much of a life anyways.”

“What do you know about the Goncools?”

“I know they’re out for blood.”

“It’s more than that.” Caprius drew a breath. “Trenton. What do you know about him?”

“He’s in charge of the whole operation. It’s him you got to take down. Cut off the snake’s head, and the others will weaken. He’s the mastermind. The others, they’re just pawns.”

Caprius looked down at the chess game. He thought momentarily. “Queen to king four.” He moved the chess piece. The man made his move.

“Trenton is the brains behind all this. The vampires, they listen to him and the rest of the Goncools. It’s not the undead that will take control but rather the Goncool who thrives on the pure blood of Makoor—an extract, taken from a flask, that is very potent. They take that, they’re far more powerful than the vampire.” Caprius made his next chess move. The man thought and made his move.

“Who is Makoor?”

“You’ll never find him. He’s somewhere in Mount Drone. That country is vast. If you get rid of Trenton, that will weaken Makoor. He thrives on the vampires’ and Goncools’ success. The more you kill, the weaker he gets.”

“I’m going after him,” said Caprius.

“Ha,” Tilbury laughed. “You think it’s easy? Taking him on alone?” The man made his next chess move. “You take one step on his property, you’ll be dead before you know it. You won’t even get a chance to look upon him.”

“You were once a Goncool, weren’t you?”

“Yes, I was. And now I’m human again.”

“Why did you defect?”

“It didn’t agree with me. I love humanity.”

“You’re a good man, Rover Tilbury.”

Caprius made his next chess move. “Where can I find their fortress? The Goncools’?”

Tilbury looked at him in amazement. What courage, he thought. Nevertheless, a big fool on a suicide mission.

“Look, I know I’m a thrush flying into a storm, but I won’t be going alone. I can have an entire army ready by tomorrow and at my disposal.” Caprius grinned. “All I have to do is give the word.” Suddenly, the entire roof began to shake. “What is it?” asked Caprius.

“They’re Magulas,” said Shelly.

“Trenton knows you’re here,” said Tilbury.

“Caprius, you don’t have your claymore. You left it in the shuttle,” said Shelly.

“Crimson Peak. Smallest center mountain.”

“Thank you.” Caprius gave him a warm smile.

Tilbury pulled a flask from his pocket, handing it to Caprius. “You get into trouble, take this. It’s more potent than Makoor’s blood.”

“The antidote,” said Caprius.

“The roof began to chip. Wooden chips began to fall. “Go. Move your ass,” said Rover Tilbury.

“Come on, Caprius. Let’s go!” yelled Shelly.

“I’m sorry,” said Caprius, putting his hand on Tilbury’s shoulder. They began to walk away quickly.

“Caprius!” said Tilbury. “I don’t want to die like this.” Caprius looked away and ran out with Shelly.

Caprius pushed a few buttons on his wrist band. They walked down the steps coming out of the house. “No, not that way!” Caprius yelled to Shelly, pulling her away from the long staircase going down. They ran toward the cliff.

“What are you doing?” she yelled. Some of the Magulas flew of the rooftop, chasing them.

“Jump!” he yelled to her. As they jumped off the cliff, right in front of them was the air shuttle. They landed on the seats. As Caprius quickly sat into position, he pushed a button on the console, and the cockpit’s roof closed swiftly. They quickly put on their helmets, adjusting them. The Magulas now landed on the shuttle rooftop. They fastened their seat belts and adjusted them. Caprius turned a key on the console and then pushed a golden button. Immediately a quick spray of gas flooded the top of the shuttle roof. The Magulas choked, as they had no air, and slid off the roof into the water, dead. Caprius looked into the house across. He could see the light in the room where Tilbury was and him sitting in the wheelchair.

Tilbury looked out into the shuttle. “I always knew death would come calling,” he said. The Magulas at last broke through, eating their way into the house. The Magulas surrounded Tilbury. They widened their mouths. Tilbury stared through the window, gazing at the shuttle, helpless. Not wasting another moment, Caprius fired two missiles. As the missiles flew, they instantly hit the house. The house exploded with a big blast of fire and smoke. Caprius pulled the lever, turning the shuttle around, and pulled away into the sky with speed.

***

To read more of Serenity Incident, I invite you to visit Amazon and purchase the book. The book is scheduled for release at all book retailers on Christmas of 2017.

I hope you are excited for the upcoming release of book two of the Dead Path Chronicles, Serenity Incident.

Visit online at www.richardavalicek.com

[]Chapter 12

Lantrinon- The Riddles of Anomptra

Book three of the Dead Path ChroniclesLantrinon—introduces us to some devious villains. A war is set to commence. The attack is imminent. The dark lord sends his henchman Carcass Doom to find the child of prophecy and bring him to mount Drone for extermination. In this chapter we open up the story with some terrifying and dangerous moments for Lantrinon Seaton.

***

In the castle of Petoshine, Grongone sat in the interior garden. The Muskata monkeys milled about. Suddenly, Grongone was compelled to close his eyes, overpowered by the vim of Petoshine that grew strongly within him. A glistening white light surrounded the garden, and from inside the light came sparkling white dust. The spirit of Felicia the Golden Fleece appeared before them.

“The time has come, Grongone.” She smiled warmly. “You know of what I speak.” Grongone and the Muskatas knew what had happened. The Muskatas gathered and sat two by two on either side of Grongone. “The child is born,” said Felicia. “The prophecy has begun.”

“The undead have much to fear now,” said Grongone. “The knights of Elysium will need to be extra vigilant in order to protect the boy.”

“The dark forces will sense the presence of the child. They will hunt them down. There is much danger.”

Grongone shook his head slowly. “No, the knights of Elysium will keep him safe,” he said.

Felicia’s face fell. She took a long, deep breath. “They will fail,” she said. “You know what will happen. You have foreseen it yourself. They will celebrate with song and dance. They’ll feast to their hearts’ content. Their minds will become fogged, and they will lose sight of the importance of the mission.” She stood firm in her words. “One in particular will let go of his duty and will be ultimately responsible. The child will be lost.”

“Yes, but he will right his wrong, return things to how they should be,” said Grongone.

“I know, but it will be a hard-won restoration,” she said ruefully. “Though you are right that things will return.” She plucked a yellow carnation from the garden. As she held it, the flower’s petals began to fall, but rather than float down to the ground, they hovered in midair, buoyed on the white light that surrounded her. “Hope still prevails. The life of the child will be in the hands of a tiny creature. You know this to be true.”

“The Grumplets will protect Lantrinon. The boy will be loved,” said Grongone.

Felicia walked over to a chair in front of Grongone and sat down. “It has been a long time since we’ve had a chance to talk, my husband.”

He held his hand out to her cheek. “There is much to speak of,” said Grongone. Beneath Felicia, Mishka also held out her hand, trying to touch Felicia, but her hand went right through the spirit woman. Felicia’s attention was on Grongone. Her face was pursed with concerned. “I can see your mind dwells on the past. Your sorrow is evident. He will always be with you in spirit.”

Grongone ducked his head. “It was a long time ago. My father was the light of Petoshine. Before my time,” he said.

“But Bremendalf’s powers were weak. That is why when he was seduced by the dark forces of Makoor he was brought to his knees. When he tried to rise and take back what he’d once had, he was crushed by the dark forces. In the end, your father was given a seat in the heavens to sit on the thrones with the elves,” said Felicia. “He asked them for forgiveness, and they gave it.” Felicia held out her hand and drew a ball of light. The light hovered in the air. It grew larger and larger and glided away from them to a spot on the floor. The light shined brightly. As it got brighter, it disappeared, and in its place appeared the spirit of Grongone’s father.

“Father?” asked Grongone.

“Yes, my son, it is I, Bremendalf, your father. You may only have little memory of me, for you were just a boy when I went up to the heavens. But all these years I have been watching over you. I do not celebrate my past; I stand in shame for all I’ve done, as I am responsible for the death of the elves, elves who have been long forgotten.” Bremendalf’s voice grew thick, and his eyes became heavy with tears. “These elves once ruled this very land. We were a society of peace and love. And all of that prosperity was destroyed by Makoor. So I say to you, in the face of these impending dark times, when the lands are lost to the dark forces, and the rivers bleed red from the blood of our people, do not weep. For today a child was born—one who in years to come will put an end to all the evil in this land of Alamptria.” Bremendalf raised his hands. “Rejoice, for the savior of Alamptria has arrived. Lantrinon is the true light of Petoshine.” He brought his arms down and leaned forward. “But be warned, my son, before Lantrinon destroys the dark forces there will still be much suffering. Be strong, be wise, and may the vim of Petoshine be your guide.” Bremendalf smiled and slowly disappeared.

Felicia looked at Grongone with great assurance. “Does this bring peace to your troubled mind? Have you seen what you needed to see? Have your father’s words brought any comfort to your troubled mind?”

“It pains me to know that my father was responsible for the death of the elves. So many lives lost,” said Grongone sadly. “My father speaks of celebrations, good fortune, and everlasting peace. Yet he tells me that the villages will be overrun by the dark forces, and we will be brought to our knees just as my father was.” Grongone grew pensive. “What comfort is there in that? Why is it that the swords of Petoshine will not bring death to Makoor, Felicia? What do you see?”

Felicia looked at him sadly. “No sword you can conjure up can destroy Makoor, my husband.”

“Then no matter what we do, darker times indeed lie ahead,” said Grongone.

Felicia let her eyes flutter closed briefly. When she opened them, her vision was clear and purposeful. “Two thousand years ago, Bremendalf had the greatest power in all of Alamptria. Instead of using his wisdom to strike at Makoor, he let his guard down. That is why your father failed. Now only with the sword of Bivion can Makoor be destroyed. It is the only blade made by an elf that can bring him to death.”

“I have read the stories on the sword of Bivion in your book written centuries ago. That sword was destroyed!” Grongone raised his voice.

“No, it was not destroyed. It is merely lost,” said Felicia. “The sword of Bivion lies in the depths of the caves of Mount Drone in the shadows of the waters. The son of Caprius Seaton will find a way. That I assure you.” Felicia edged closer. “I have seen the sword of Bivion in my visions. It does exist. Lantrinon will find it.”

“I have the sword of Lantrinon, one that he will use until he finds the sword of Bivion.” Grongone pointed to two large stones in the garden. “He and Trojas will both work for it.”

Felicia looked concerned. “There is something else you must know. The prophecy also states that the mother of Lantrinon will enter the dark world in time.”

Grongone gasped. “Oh, no, not Melina.”

“It is by her doing that I will live once more. I will become a living soul as I once was,” said Felicia.

“That is not what the prophecy stated,” said Grongone.

“The prophecy has many meanings. It can be misread. You must try and unravel its mystery. It was I who wrote the book of Bivion. My foresight has allowed me to interpret the true prophecy. I know its meanings.”

“I am sorry. I do not pretend to comprehend its full meaning as you have. But if what you say is true, then my heart will rejoice to have you by my side once again, Felicia. No Kongorf will ever pierce your heart again.” Grongone paused. “I must ask, though; you and my father speak of Lantrinon’s fall. We understood that he is the chosen one. What premonitions do you see for the boy? Your power is greater than mine. Tell me, wise one, what is it you know that I cannot see?”

“Before Lantrinon’s rise, he will endure pain and suffering. Your answer lies here beneath this castle.”

“Felicia, show me where I can find the answer. Please, would you guide me?” asked Grongone.

Felicia beckoned to an unlit torch stuck in a column. It loosened itself and came to her. With her powers she ignited the torch. “The mists of Petoshine shall give you the vision. Follow me.” Felicia walked through the indoor gardens to a set of stone stairs that led to beneath the castle. Grongone and the Muskata creatures followed. The stairs circled downwards, deep into the earth. On either side of the stairs were waterfalls. At last they arrived at the bottom of the system of caves that wended their way beneath the castle. A brook gurgled to one side. They followed the water. On a rock sat a muskrat cleaning its fur. It paused and looked up as they approached. Felicia spoke to the creature. “We have come to see the things that are yet to come,” she said. “Take us to him, muskrat.”

The muskrat skittered down from the rock and disappeared into the dark cave closest to him. Felicia, Grongone, and the Muskatas followed. The cave tunnel was tall enough for everyone, but Grongone who had to stoop as he walked through. They walked several minutes until they came upon some golden treasures glittering in the light of Felicia’s torch. As she kept on, it was evident there was treasure throughout the cave, lining the walkway and covered only by a low-lying mist. Grongone and the Muskatas did not know what these treasures meant, but wordlessly they continued to follow the muskrat.

Eventually they came to a small wooden boat bobbing on the stream, which had widened. A single oar lay at its rear. Beside that sat a hooded grim reaper. The Muskatas and Grongone held back while Felicia approached the boat. She turned. “We must get into the boat,” she said. The muskrat got into the vessel, and Grongone and the Muskatas followed. They sat down and looked over the side at the glittering water. Beneath the surface lay golden treasures.

“I have never been this far down in the caves,” said Grongone. Felicia held the torch and kept her face forward. “I don’t understand. Where are we going?” asked Grongone.

“We are going into the cave of Anomptra. It is a single cave. I have something to show you,” said Felicia.

“Can you not just tell us what we can expect to see?”

“No. I wish for you to see for yourselves,” said Felicia.

As they went along the brook, they noticed more and more treasures. Just as the boat turned into the cave of Anomptra, Felicia threw her torch into the water. “We will not be needing that anymore,” she said. Indeed, at the entrance of Anomptra there was a bright light. The interior of the cave was lit up in bright gold. The walls glistened with golden sparkles imbedded in the stone, and the walls were huge; the cave expanded to three times the height of the other caves. Soon they came to a shore heaped with golden treasures.

Felicia, Grongone, and the Muskatas got out of the boat onto the island of gold. “Follow me,” said Felicia.

They walked up the island, trying to step around the many tiny golden treasures, but it was impossible to avoid them. Mixed in amongst the gold coins and decorative urns, incense holders, and sceptres were raw diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. They walked up the mound. Grongone was perplexed, for they had no use for material goods. “Is it the treasures you wanted to show us, Felicia?”

“No. It is the treasure within the treasure,” she said.

“How far do we go?” asked Grongone.

“You will know when we get there,” she said.

They climbed further and further until they stood on the side of a large mound of treasure, one that would make any mortal the richest and most powerful in the entire world. “What is it that I see?” asked Grongone. “Up there.” He pointed, shielding his eyes from the glare.

“That is the answer to the riddle,” said Chooko. The muskrat kept on, scrambling up the items. Finally they came close enough to the top to see the thing at the peak. It was an old man, broken and beaten down. He lay on top of the pile, limply hanging his head. Beside him was a golden table on which sat rotten fruits, fetid, sour meat, and bread covered in mould. On a tray lay several cheeses, all inedible. In bottles were bitter, aged wine and petrified honey. The man’s skeleton was visible through his wasted body; his lips were cracked and the color of ash. Even if the food had been fresh, his mouth had puckered into such a tiny slit that he wouldn’t have been able to eat even a grape. His hair was long and white, and he seemed imprisoned in the armor that remained draped over his atrophied muscles.

Upon the group’s approach, the old man turned his head with great difficulty to look at them. He was clearly weak and tired and suffered from pain. He tried to form the word “help,” but even gathering the breath to make the “h” sound was too much, and he fell back to the mound of jewels and glittering gold.

“Who is this man, Felicia?” asked Grongone.

“Someone who deserved such a punishment for being so tempted by treasure. He renounced what he was supposed to do, so to punish him a curse was put upon him,” said Felicia. “Unfortunately he decided he wanted all the treasures of Anomptra to himself, his desire so strong he rejected all human kind to fuel his hunger.” Felicia looked at the old man with pity and derision. “They once called him the savior,” said Felicia.

Grongone’s eyes widened in fright. “My God, this is Lantrinon?”

“Yes,” she said, casting her eyes down.

“I don’t understand,” said Grongone.

“He forsook the world to feed his own greed. This is the reason he will suffer when the time comes.”

Grongone shook his head. “No, this cannot be. He was the chosen one.”

“Yes, he was. Things change. You cannot help him,” she said. “But come with me. I have more to show you. You must see that hope will still prevail.”

“More? You want to show me more?” asked Grongone. “I don’t want to see any more.”

“As hard as it is to accept, you must see what it is I have to show you. Come with me,” said Felicia. “Muskrat, show us the way,” she said to the creature.

The Muskrat pattered down the other side of the mound, and the others followed. The last of the group, and so overcome with grief at the future of Lantrinon, Grongone lost his balance and tumbled down the mountain of treasure. Gold coins and sparkling gems were tossed in the air as he slid. When he reached the bottom, where the others waited for him, there was a pool of water. The muskrat and Felicia went to the water’s edge, and the others slowly joined her. Out in the center was a beautiful young female warrior. They looked at her face, trying to identify her. “Who is she?” asked Grongone.

“She is cousin to Lantrinon. Daughter to Dragus Seaton. She met her fate. Lantrinon chose seeking the treasure over saving her life. When he made that decision, the curse was put upon him.”

“I cannot believe this,” said Grongone. “It is simply too much to bear.”

“Be that as it may, this is the future he will choose. Only Lantrinon himself can undo what he has done.”

Grongone looked into the water. Beneath the water he saw the sword, surrounded by treasure. “What is that I see, that sword?” asked Grongone.

“That, Grongone, is the lost sword of Bivion,” said Felicia.

Grongone looked at Felicia in tears. The Muskata creatures began to sniff. Even the muskrat dabbed at his little eyes with his paws. “Who put this curse upon Lantrinon?” he whispered.

Felicia bowed her head. When she looked up, tears were streaming down her face. “It was I, Felicia the Golden Fleece. I will put this curse on Lantrinon.”

Grongone and the Muskatas stood in shock. Suddenly, Felicia held out her hand, which brought forth a bright white light, blinding everyone so they had to shield their eyes. In a second, the light abated. They lifted their hands and found themselves back in the garden of Castle Petoshine. Everyone stared at the Golden Fleece with confusion and betrayal. “It is what is to come,” said Felicia. She closed her eyes, and a luminous light sparked from within her. Then she was gone.

[]Chapter 13

Lantrinon- Rapture

In the book ‘Lantrinon,’ Melina Hampshire is in deep thought. Her newborn child Lantrinon must face unusual circumstances. Felicia the Golden Fleece has promised the lands of Alamptria freedom and peace. But to Felicia, there is no freedom without sacrifice. Let us see how this unfolds…

***

The evening sun glistened on the blanket of snow covering the gardens of Meadow-lie. In the wintered forest, the trees were bare but for a fine dusting of snow like sugar. On the gravel pathways, the snow had been cleared and was humped to the sides. A few birds circled one another overhead and sang their light-throated calls over the dapple of the garden streams, which hadn’t yet frozen beneath the thin crust of ice.

Melina Hampshire strolled along the garden trails of Meadow-lie, joyfully cooing to her newborn baby, Lantrinon. Melina was a sincere, passionate young woman with a pure heart that shined radiantly out to everyone who knew her. Her life was indeed blessed: a doting husband and a beautiful child who was of great importance to their people. This child would fulfill the prophesy of Alamptria; one day he would raise his sword and strike down the evil that infiltrated their land by slaying the dark lord of Mount Drone, protecting the vim of Petoshine and upholding the peace Grongone the great wizard tried to bring to their people.

Lantrinon yawned, startling Melina out of her trance. Her heart was beating like a rabbit’s, and she thought she might faint. She looked around at the gardens, the lush wood and the gentle dusk coming upon her, and realized she’d been daydreaming. She was in Meadow-lie. She was safe now. Her stomach lurched; gentleman or not, Tyrus Clore was a monster.

She continued to walk, holding her son close, and eventually came to the large pond where a cockboat was bobbing gently in the water by the shore. In the boat was Father Lornius Kibius of the church of Meadow-lie. “Hello, Melina! I have been waiting for you,” he said, smiling warmly.

“Father Kibius, it is ever so good to see you,” said Melina, relieved to come upon a friendly face. “May we join you?”

“Yes, let me help you in,” he said, taking her elbow as she stepped aboard. Melina sat down and repositioned Lantrinon so he could nestle more comfortably in her elbow and sleep.

“May I see him?” whispered Father Kibius. Melina opened the blanket so Lantrinon’s little wrinkled face peeked out. Father Kibius leaned in to look at the child. “So, this is the child of the prophecy. And there”—he touched the baby’s arm lightly—“is the tiny arm that will someday be strong enough to strike down the dark lord.”

“The mark of the chosen one,” murmured Melina.

“And the one who will one day slay the dark lord Makoor.” He looked at her sadly. “Melina, guard him well. Never leave his side.”

“My life is his,” she said. Melina didn’t want to think about what kind of danger her son would always be in, or was in now. Father Kibius sat back down and took up his oars. The still waters of the pond glistened in the evening light. He began to row the cockboat.

“Won’t be a long ride to the basilica,” he said. “Felicia is expecting you.”

Melina brightened at the mere sound of the Golden Fleece’s name. “I will be very happy to see her,” she said. She felt a great fondness for the beautiful, prophetic elf.

“Felicia wishes to bless the child,” he said, smiling.

Melina felt peace enter her. She took a long, deep breath of the sweet air and sat back to enjoy the boat ride. They sailed among the dripping willows and reeds. Soon a cardinal flew in and landed quietly on the edge of the boat beside her. The bird looked at Lantrinon and chirped.

“A cardinal bird is of high blessings. It is a sign of good things to come,” whispered Father Kibius. The bird flapped its wings and flew off into the bluing sky, which was slowly speckled by stars. “And you, Melina, how are you coping with things, my child?”

She smiled sadly. “Every day truly is a blessing. Caprius is a wonderful man and such a devoted father to Lantrinon. I can only hope my son grows up to be just like him.”

“The boy indeed has his father’s eyes. When he grows up and fulfills his destiny, other boys will look up to him.”

Melina looked down at her innocent child. “And many will look at him oddly. He will be an outcast,” she said with a trace of bitterness in her voice.

“Perhaps, but he will never be alone. Dragus’s son Trojas will look out for him. Both he and his sister.”

“They are young,” she said.

“But they will grow up to be wise and careful. And you, Melina, must understand. The prophecy was misread. There are things you cannot know. This boy is the key to everything. That is why we must bargain with the dark lord for the good of all mankind. It will be hard to accept, but it must be done.” Father Kibius put up his hood. His eyes were fierce. He continued to row.

Melina was puzzled. “You’re right; I don’t understand,” she said.

“Do not worry. The Golden Fleece will explain it to you,” said Kibius. Father Kibius said no more but turned back around and resumed rowing. Soon he brought the cockboat to the pond’s edge. He stepped out, then helped Melina out onto the shore. The sky had become dark and cloudy. “The blood moon is rising,” said Kibius.

They took the trail in the dark and soon arrived at the basilica. Father Flarius greeted them at the gate. “A good evening to you, Flarius,” said Kibius.

“A good evening to you both. How are you, my dear?” he said to Melina. “Father Basil is waiting for you in the garden of the basilica. He carries with him the book of the Golden Fleece.” He smiled. “Come this way, please.” Kibius and Melina followed Father Flarius into the garden.

“The boy’s destiny awaits him,” said Kibius.

They arrived in the garden, and there stood Father Basil holding the book of the Golden Fleece. Melina approached Basil, whose round, ruddy face was alight with an ear-to-ear grin. “A good evening to you, Melina!” he boomed.

“Good evening, Father Basil,” she said quietly. She was starting to feel nervous. Ahead of them was a pond topped with a thin sheath of ice. Beneath it lay lily pads, their blooms closed tightly, a still life in waiting. In the center, on her pedestal, stood Felicia, queen of the elves, frozen as a beautiful, golden statue.

“You have been summoned here as Lantrinon’s destiny has arrived today. On this evening, we will pay our respects to the child of prophecy. The time has come.” Basil smiled and gestured that Melina should approach the Golden Fleece. “Bring forth the baby. Here, set the child upon this altar.” Melina walked slowly to the base of the statue and laid Lantrinon on the marble.

Melina stood back with the others, unsure of what was happening or what to do next. “Now, I shall summon Felicia the Golden Fleece.” Basil opened the good book of Bivion and began to recite the elvish words. As he read, the clouds began to move rapidly above. Thunder roared in the heavens. Droplets of water danced on the pond and disturbed the lily pads. Lightening sizzled fervently above the Golden Fleece. The roiling black clouds parted, and through the center a bright light shone down onto the statue. A bright white light emanated from Felicia’s eyes and mouth, and she screamed as life was given to her. Her eyes widened, now animated, and she took a breath. She’d become a living, breathing soul.

She stepped off her pedestal and walked upon the lily pads to solid ground. Felicia approached the altar and peered at the baby. “The child of the prophecy. His destiny is here. On this night, the blood will be given.” She looked at Melina. “Melina Hampshire, do you promise to give Lantrinon in order to save the world from darkness?”

Basil nudged Melina beside him. “You should say yes, my child.”

Melina closed her eyes. Her son would endure a lifetime of hardship. But she had no choice. “Yes,” she said. She felt a flood of emotions: pride, fear, resignation. At her words, a white light and a dagger appeared on the altar. Felicia picked up the dagger and held it to the sky.

“Petoshine will rise to great heights. What say you, my husband?” she called into the heavens. Within the clouds, the great wizard Grongone appeared and looked down at them.

“The word is given. Let this offering be of true flesh and young blood,” said Grongone.

Felicia pointed the dagger at Melina. “Melina, you have made an oath! You willingly said you would give Lantrinon’s life for Alamptria.”

“What!” Melina said, raising her voice. Panic rose in her chest.

“This child’s life is forfeited. The dark lord awaits my stroke!”

“No! You said you would bless the child! Not end his life!” said Melina, crying.

“There is no blessing without sacrifice,” said Felicia.

“No, no, no!” Melina cried. She tried to run to save Lantrinon, but Basil dropped the book of the Golden Fleece, and when it hit the snowy ground it caught fire. Basil held onto Melina tightly. Melina struggled to get to Lantrinon.

Felicia picked up the dagger and held it high above the baby. “With this offering, the lands of Alamptria will never be covered in darkness, for the vim of Petoshine will shine on this night. I offer you this gift, Makoor! With the blood of this child, evil will be no more!”

“No!” Melina cried out as she struggled to break free.

Felicia held the shiny dagger up high, the blade catching the light of the fire. “Peace to Alamptria! Here is your stroke!” Suddenly a bright white light shot from the dagger, blinding everyone.

Melina screamed, shutting her eyes. “Lantrinon!”

Melina struggled against the arms that held her down.

“Melina!” someone called to her.

“No!” she wept bitterly.

“Melina! Melina, wake up!” said Caprius, shaking his wife. She opened her eyes and saw darkness. She struggled to wake up, her eyes flickering in and out of sleep. At last she opened her eyes. “You’re alright,” said Caprius softly to her. Melina laid back on her pillow. She was at home in her bedroom. It was a dream. Melina put her hand on her abdomen. The baby was kicking. He was not yet born, but already he knew he was in for a fight. “Was it the same dream?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“Do not fear the future. Felicia and Grongone would never harm Lantrinon. They are your friends.”

“I cannot help it. It all seemed so real. And I still see the horror I endured from Tyrus Clore.”

“Tyrus is dead. You need fear him no more.” He stroked her head. “It is just a memory, nothing more than that. He will never harm you.”

Melina held Caprius. “I love you,” she said.

“And I love you too. You must know that when you go to Petoshine, Grongone will protect you. He will always be by your side. And I will come and visit you as often as I am able.” They looked into each other’s eyes. “Come, lay back down.” They nestled together and held each other, watching the sun break through the light wisps of cloud above. Another new day was dawning.

[]Chapter 14

Deadfall- The Merchant

In the book ‘Deadfall,’ a part of the Dead Path Chronicles series, the knight masters are sent on a most dangerous assignment. The evil Cambrozes Genesis has devised a plot to rid Elysium of Melina Hampshire. It is a very dangerous time. The knight masters are on route to their destination. Their journey is a long one. They befriend a most unusual person, a human known as a trot who calls himself Gofer. But the dark lord is watching and ready to strike!

***

As they rode the forest land, Caprius and Dragus were relieved that Andromin was feeling a lot calmer. But they were still most concerned about his resentful temper tantrums. They wondered about this strange creature that had affected Andromin. Would his behavior worsen? If so, to what extent? The sudden attack upon Caprius was unexpected, and it had the army wondering about Andromin’s command ability. If this problem would reoccur, then the army would be forced to remove him from command. He would be demoted to just a soldier. With Caprius and Dragus being in second and third command, should the knights back them up, they would have the power to demote Andromin. It’s not likely it would happen, but it is quite possible. Andromin’s strange behavior has been noted.

They were now in the village of Gorgove. There were people walking about. It seemed there was a festival of some sort going on. The army felt very welcomed here. A sudden sound of merrymaking had struck. Music flourished the air, and people sang and danced with one another. There were merchants of all sorts, selling things from tobacco to razors to clothing and food. All sorts of things! There was a blacksmith who was hardening a well-structured sword. And there were many swords on display for one to purchase, as well as hand-knitted sweaters that kept one warm, mind-boggling games to pass the time, strumming cellos, the sound of violas and whistles and various flutes to entertain you, card-playing tricks to muse the people. A man walked about carrying a ferret on his shoulder. He grabbed a nut and fed the squirmy animal. A man sat in a chair while a barber gave him a clean-cut shave with a razor. And when he had finished with that, the man in the chair smiled broadly as his hair was trimmed to his liking. By a small table stood a man playing the shell game, hiding a chestnut underneath a cup. A boy stood with his head in a large wooden pale filled with water, bobbing for apples. Ten men were on all fours as they stood upon each other building a pyramid. And as the people clapped, the men lost balance and tumbled onto the ground. They laughed and they cheered.

This was the scene the army had set their eyes on. The crowd was so enthusiastic and happy. They partied a long while. The civilians welcomed the crew with open arms and offered them food and drink. And while the Seatons were dumbstruck and speechless, Andromin’s troubles seemed to be forgotten. The men took to their seats and enjoyed themselves. They chanted and sang. They raised their glasses and toasted one another. Though the Seatons and the army seemed to be enjoying the moment, they did not forget the importance of the mission. But for now they were at ease, and they savored the wine and enjoyed the succulent meal. “You seem to be much better, Andromin,” said Calista, munching her meal.

“I do not know what came over me, but I promise it will not happen again,” said Andromin.

“I certainly hope not. You put quite a scare into me, Andromin Seaton,” she said.

When they had finished with food and drink, Caprius, Dragus, and Andromin began to walk about. They walked from merchant to merchant, observing their trinkets and goods. They came to a booth where a midget was selling cigars galore. This little guy was known as a trot. He stood just over three feet tall and had a friendly face. And while the Seatons stood and took in the smell of tobacco, Andromin took pleasure in a cigar and tossed the trot a shilling. Caprius decided to join in and purchased a cigar and enjoyed the experience with his brother. Dragus, on the other hand, was irritated by the smell of tobacco. He just stood and watched his brothers puffing and blowing smoke rings. Dragus rubbed his eyes as he was bothered by the smoke. “You seem to be bothered by the cigars just as much as I am,” Dragus said to the trot.

“It’s a disgusting habit, quite irritating,” said the trot.

“You mean you do not smoke?” asked Caprius in astonishment.

“No, I wouldn’t touch the stuff if you paid me,” said the trot.

“Then why do you sell it?” asked Dragus.

“I’m in it for the money,” said the trot.

“You should try selling something else. It will probably shorten your life. And you don’t want that. You’re short as it is, trot!” said Persius, who stood by smoking a cigar.

“My name is Gofer! And don’t call me a trot!” the trot raised his voice. The four looked at the little guy. Caprius looked at him with respect and continued to ask him questions.

“How long have you been selling cigars, Gofer?” asked Caprius.

“About sixteen years. I racked in a lot of money selling this stuff. It’s a regular goldmine,” said Gofer.

“Sixteen years inhaling this crap! You really should choose something else, Gofer,” said Dragus. “There are lots of other things you can sell.”

“Are you kidding me? With the money I’m making, why spoil a good thing?” asked Gofer.

“Leave him alone. He is happy with what he is doing, and just leave it at that,” said Caprius. “My name is Caprius, and this is my brother Dragus, my brother Andromin, and this is Persius.”

“Please to meet you, Caprius! Hello guys!” Gofer greeted them warmly. “So, where are you guys from? Haven’t seen you around here before.”

“We are from Elysium,” said Caprius.

“Elysium! What are you doing all the way out here?” asked Gofer.

“We are, ah, taking a long journey,” Caprius said in a mild-mannered way.

“Journey? I love a good adventure,” said Gofer.

“Yup, that’s what we are doing,” said Dragus.

Gofer got excited and began talking of his adventures. “I’ve been everywhere in Alamptria. I’ve been to Koriston. Seen the rocky ridge of Talfus. Elysium, Bramonia, seen the ongoing development in Almanite; I’ve even been in the western region. Been to the mines of Gizmald, to Morisant, and I know the roads to Hanondria. Even as far as the island of Aldrinon! I know this western part as far as the eye can see!”

The Seatons were stunned at the little trot’s expeditions. “You know the way to Aldrinon?” Caprius asked, astonished.

“I know every rock and every stream!” Gofer said excitedly.

“Aldrinon is where we are going,” said Dragus.

“Say, I’m looking for another adventure. How’s about I tag along with you?” asked Gofer. “I won’t be any trouble to you. And I won’t try to complicate things. I won’t try and manage, and I’m too small to get in your way. I can lead you to the best fishing spots and wild game. I can lead you through the shortest routes to Aldrinon.”

Caprius was almost tempted to ask Gofer to come along. But he thought about the little guy’s safety. He was concerned for him and didn’t want to put his life in danger. “I’m sorry, Gofer, but we are on a most dangerous mission. I cannot have you as a burden.”

“But I can be your guide!” remarked Gofer.

“No, Gofer, and that’s the end of that,” said Dragus.

Gofer just pouted in disappointment. He thought of himself as a misfit. But then a thought came to mind. He tried another approach. “Say, fellas, does anyone care for another smoke?”

“I’ll have another!” Andromin jumped in, delighted.

“I’ll have one too,” said Persius. They tossed him a shilling.

“What about you, Caprius?” asked Gofer.

“I have had enough,” said Caprius.

“What about you, Dragus? Oh, I forgot, you don’t smoke,” said Gofer.

Gofer watched as the three of them puffed their cigars. “So, I guess you and your knights, Caprius, are boarding a ship to take you to Gapa?”

“Yes, that is where we are going,” said Caprius.

“If you want, I could take you all to the dock. It won’t be easy getting a ship, you know. Most of them are in use. I don’t know what’s available. But I know a guy who can get you one for a cheap price. He has a ship called the Nausington! It’s a much older ship, but it’s in good condition. It can accommodate a crew of twenty-four. I can introduce you to the owner of the Nausington. It’s shipping some crates filled with goods tonight. The ship will probably sail tonight at dusk. Seeing you and your knights over there, I think it’s just right for you.”

“We have horses and weaponry. Can it accommodate them?” asked Caprius.

“There’s a stall on the ship. There’s food and water for the horses,” said Gofer. “And if you want, I can look after the horses for you.”

“All I need you to do is get us that ship, and that will be all, Gofer.

“All right, all right,” said Gofer, grinning.

“All right, I will take you up on that offer,” said Caprius. “But that’s as far as you go. You get us that ship, and that will be it for you, my little friend.”

“It’s a deal!” said Goffer as he high-fived Caprius.

The sky above began to be cast in darkness by clouds. It became heavy with the musky smell of something approaching. Indeed, it did become quite dark even in these daylight hours. The civilians looked into the gloomy sky. And what to their wonder did they see? The approach of some flying creatures, dozens of them. The merrymaking had come to a sudden halt. Silence filled the outdoors as they all looked to the sky. Gofer gazed at the creatures and pointed to them. “Caprius!” he said with concern. “Something wicked comes this way.” And as Caprius turned to see, his eyes widened. A dog, a German shepherd, peered into the sky, gazing at the oncoming creatures. Its stare was long, and as it glared it became frightened and squealed in terror.

“We’re under attack!” yelled a civilian. The knights quickly drew their swords. The creatures swooped down upon the people, hissing and growling at them. The knights struck the demons. Tables were turned over. Leftover food and drink toppled to the ground. The civilians ran about, and the Seatons quickly struck the vampires. Dragus swung his sword swiftly, missing his target as the vampire creature backed away. Dragus came at him, swinging his sword side to side. With a quick thrust he threw his sword six feet across, in front of him, and watched his claymore pierce through the creature’s stomach. The vampire was in agonizing pain and roared. It held both hands on the blade, which was piercing its stomach. Dragus walked over to the creature and put his hand on the sword handle. As Dragus used his powers, his eyes became a glowing white. At that instant the creature’s face began to shrivel and burn. The creature caught fire. The fire spread throughout the creature’s entire body. Dragus pulled out his claymore from within the creature’s belly. The vampire fell, a burning corpse. Caprius jumped over a table to run head on into a vampire. He drove his claymore into the creature’s chest and then quickly dislodged it, decapitating the vampire. He turned to strike another vampire by lodging his sword into the vampire’s mouth. Dragus sliced a vampire through its scalp, and when it stuck, he yanked it out to strike down another oncoming demon.

Calista threw a karate kick into the vampire’s groin. As the creature knelt in agonizing pain, Calista did some fancy swordplay with her right hand, then came down with her sword, slicing off its head. The creature tumbled to the ground neck first. Andromin sliced a vampire in half through the waist, and when its upper body hit the ground, Andromin sliced its head off on the turf. Persius swung his sword, cutting off the vampire’s arm as it came at the knight. Then he swiftly made a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree turn to strike the creature in its heart. The battle continued.

“Rimtrus, will you get that contraption set up already!” Dragus shouted. Rimtrus mounted a mechanized weapon on the ground with its three legs standing up. He was holding up what looked like a device thrusting twelve-inch spears into the air, which shot out like whistling arrows. He dropped into the deep slot a rectangular, metal box that held well over a thousand thin arrows. After he dropped it into the slot he pulled down the lever. It was a weapon that worked on a spring that shot up and thrust six arrows at once. As it dislodged the arrows, the metal cap dropped back down and quickly reloaded and shot again. It was able to blast ninety arrows in thirty seconds flat. The Elysians called it an aro-gunner. Rimtrus was all set up, and he began firing shots as he swung the gunner from side to side and up and down. As it dislodged, the barrel drew back with a clang. As the vampires flew in groups, Rimtrus fired the gunner, thrusting a shower of arrows into the air. It was like a storm of metal spears that flew and struck the vampires in their bodies, hearts, and heads. Vampires shrieked in horror as they were struck by the slicing arrows. The vampires dropped dead, landing on the ground, on the tables and chairs, and on top of the wooden booths and the wooden canopy that sheltered the merchants. A vampire landed dead on the wooden canopy and smashed through its roof, landing dead on the ground. Andromin quickly rushed over to the vampire and set it ablaze, as it was still alive and moving. The vampire was engulfed.

The German shepherd knelt down, licking the face of his dead master. And while the dog squealed it saw a vampire approach a young boy. The boy was horrified and shook. And as the vampire came closer, the dog found courage to run to the boy’s aid. The German shepherd leaped into the air over a low-blazing fire, then ran, opening its jaws wide and grabbing hold of the vampire’s neck. The dog and vampire fell to the ground and shook vigorously. The dog growled and tore into the flesh of the vampire’s neck, shaking it, becoming immensely bloodstained. The Elysian knight Quintrm came to the dog’s rescue as the vampire grabbed the dog. Quintrm stood on his feet, holding his sword up high, then thrust his sword into the vampire’s mouth. The vampire lay dead, and the dog stood with its legs spread wide apart, shaking in fear. Quintrm took the boy in his arms and rushed him to safety.

Rimtrus continued to fire his gunner, spraying the sky with dozens and dozens of arrows. Vampires continued to topple dead on the ground. Caprius yelled out to Gofer. But as he began to run toward him, Gofer skittered underneath piles of boxes and blankets. And as the creature pursued him, the creature overturned everything in its path, rummaging through wasted food and broken wine bottles. It tossed things into the air. Gofer was quick and went under another table. As the vampire approached, he kicked the creature in the face, and the creature felt dazed. Gofer scooted underneath a table, and as the creature tried to grab him, Caprius drove his claymore into the creature’s back. Caprius ignited the vampire with the powers of his claymore.

“Stay underneath that table, Gofer!” Caprius demanded. “And cover yourself with that blanket.” Gofer did as Caprius asked. The battle raged on. And when some civilians were bitten by the vampires, to prevent transformation the knights killed them as well. Caprius turned to his archers. “Archers, ready your bows! Ignite!” yelled Caprius. Six archers who stood side by side ignited their arrows with the flames on the ground. As they let the bows go, the arrows sliced through the air with flames. A bow struck a vampire through its mouth, piercing its head, which quickly caught fire. The vampire plummeted to the ground.

“Stay under here. And don’t come out until I tell you to. You understand?” Quintrm said to the boy. The boy moved his head, nodding yes. Quintrm looked to his side and saw Andromin was in trouble. Andromin was fighting off three vampires. And though Andromin was quick and skillful, Quintrm ran to his aid. As Quintrm ran, he jumped over dead bodies. Then he ran on top of a tabletop, leaping high into the air, and drove his sword into the vampire’s skull. Quintrm then landed on his feet, with one arm bracing himself on the ground, holding himself up, and with his other hand holding out his sword. Andromin slashed the face of a vampire, cutting him across the mouth. Then, using the power of the claymore, he sent a strong blast of cold frost that froze the vampire into solid ice. Andromin swung his sword next, decapitating the vampire. The icy, stone-cold head fell to the ground.

Andromin drew a hard breath. “Thanks!” he said to Quintrm.

Calista jumped high in the air, doing splits as she kicked two vampires and in midair sliced the head off one. Then she landed with her legs spread apart and thrust her sword into the other creature’s face.

A boy who was in hiding was being watched by the German shepherd. As the boy tried to stand and walk away, the dog grabbed the boy’s shirt, pulling him down, trying to keep him safe from harm. A civilian ran across the field, a vampire in pursuit of him. The man fell to the ground and quickly turned onto his back to see the large creature high above him, flapping its wings and gazing down at him. They held each other’s gaze in a stalemate. The man’s eyes grew wide in fright. His heart beat faster and faster. And as he watched the vampire flap its wings, hovering above him, he continued to lie down on the ground. The man was paralyzed with fear. And as he lay not knowing what to do, the creature gazed above him, hovering, flapping its wings. The large, menacing vampire opened its jaws wide with hunger. The man lay helpless. And it was at that moment that Rimtrus fired a swarm of blazing arrows from his gunner to strike several shots into the vampire. The vampire fell dead.

Gofer peeped from underneath the blanket to see Caprius destroy another vampire. As Gofer looked to the side, he saw an overturned table and many swords piled up. These were swords that a merchant had for sale. Gofer was struck with an idea and ran from underneath the blankets. He trotted quickly. As he skedaddled, a vampire took notice of him. The vampire chased Gofer.

“Gofer!” yelled Caprius. Gofer tripped and fell. He had his eye on a sword that was just the right size, which lay not too far away from him. When the vampire was just meters away from him, Gofer crawled quickly to the sword, grabbed the sword in hand, and then rolled over on his back and thrust the sword into the creature’s mouth. The vampire fell dead. Gofer rose to his feet with the sword in hand. “God be praised!” said Caprius as he saw the little trot stand victorious.

Once again Rimtrus swung the aro-gunner around, spraying the sky with a rain of arrows. Rimtrus’s face was tense and shook as he fired the gunner all over the sky. Vampires were struck in their chests. They were struck in their hearts, heads, and other body parts. They fell dead on top of other bodies. And as another vampire attacked Gofer, Caprius saw Gofer drive the sword into the vampire. The vampire lay dead. And another vampire attacked Gofer. Caprius watched Gofer jump up and with a swing of his sword decapitate the vampire. Caprius smiled at the little trot. Then he quickly turned to fight again. But there was no vampire in sight. The Elysian knights stood victorious.

“Victory!” yelled Caprius as he held his sword up high. In the aftermath of the slaughter, the Elysian knights went about checking on the dead. The knights set the bodies on fire. The bodies were quickly engulfed in flames. While the knights walked about observing the slaughter, fire spread out everywhere across the grounds. Flaming bodies were scattered about in piles. Gofer slowly walked over to the Seatons. The Seatons and the knights were astounded by the little trot’s fighting skills. And when Caprius watched the little guy drive his sword into his sheath, Caprius knew that Gofer had the makings of a great warrior. He realized that Gofer really did go on all those journeys and that he knew the way to Aldrinon. But he was still not convinced. He didn’t want Gofer going on the journey with them. He didn’t know how long the little guy would last. “Well done, Gofer!” Caprius said, smiling.

Suddenly a vampire came from the sky, diving down onto Quintrm, who stood observing the dead. The creature looked at him with hunger. And while Quintrm looked up and saw the creature coming at him, Rimtrus swung his aro-gunner around and fired several shots of arrows into the air. He kept spraying the sky with arrows. The vampire swooped down to attack Quintrm. Rimtrus continued to shower the sky with arrows, and the vampire fell dead to the ground. Quintrm stood observing the dead vampire and gave the thumbs-up to Rimtrus.

Persius approached a man who was at a near distance to him. The man was severely wounded. When Persius knelt down in front of him, he moved the man’s head to his left and saw vampire bites on him. Persius rose to his feet and looked down at the man. The man was helpless. He looked at Persius with weary eyes. Persius, not having any choice, drew his sword out of his sheath and came close to the man.

“No!” the man yelled out. The man pleaded. “Please!” he said, clasping both hands together. Without hesitation, Persius silenced the man with death.

The Elysian knights regrouped. All men were accounted for. There were no casualties among them except for some of the civilians. The dark night fell across the land, and the Elysian knights slept with their hands upon their swords, ready to strike again.

[]Chapter 15

Deadfall- The House of Brandimoir

In the book ‘Deadfall,’ Caprius Seaton has been left behind after a treacherous combat in the mines of Gizmald. After nearly facing death, he encounters a strange breed of Droge creatures. They are not what they appear to be. And although Droges are considered dangerous, these Droges seem to be harmless and just out for a hardy meal. After Caprius is tied up, and old friend named Thius Thumpedor comes to his rescue. Now, after a long journey, Caprius enters the house of Brandimoir.

***

“Ah, Caprius, how was your bath?”

“It was swell,” said Caprius. “Teresa took good care of me.”

“I told you that you would be well looked after. Now, gentlemen, come with me. Caprius, I will take you to see my Selene now.” They all left for the garden, and the Droges followed. Loris approached Selene.

“Selene, look who has come for a visit,” said Loris.

She immediately recognized him. “Caprius!” she greeted him. She walked over to him and gave him a hug. “What are you doing in Bridimar?” she asked.

“It’s a long story,” said Caprius. Selene looked a lot like Melina, except she had light brown hair. She was the same height and was simply stunning.

“How is my sister doing?” Selene asked.

“She is doing fine. Although, she must be missing me. I’ve been away for days,” said Caprius. “She tends to go through a period of loneliness when I am away for so long.”

“Oh, she hasn’t changed a bit. She is always looking for affection.”

“She misses her mother.”

“Yes, so do I.

“So, why have you come?”

“I am just passing through. I am on a mission.”

“Will you be joining us for dinner?”

“Yes, I will stay for dinner. But then I must leave immediately,” said Caprius. He then looked over at Thumpedor. “This is my friend, Thius Thumpedor.”

“Pleased to meet you,” she said.

Caprius, Selene, Loris, and Thumpedor entered the dinner hall. The three Droges followed behind them. As people watched them, they were very curious to see a man with Droges for pets. And while they sat and talked, Thumpedor was approached and asked how one was able to tame such wild beasts and keep them as tame house pets. As the people talked and enjoyed their meals, the place was alive.

“I did not know that you had moved to Morisant,” said Caprius.

“Yes, Koriston was nice, but it is a city filled with stone buildings situated on a rock. This is more relaxing without the hustle of industrial work. Koriston is filled with back-squabbling chairwarmers who know nothing better to do than run you over with more tax heights for every asset you hold. It is run by Federalists!”

“Yes, but they have a very strong army. The Taughtenslottes are a lethal weapon,” said Caprius.

“Yes, but the military is the way of life there. If you didn’t join the army, you were still asked to contribute. One doesn’t need that hassle.”

“The world is changing,” said Caprius. “More and more men are asked to join. To protect society, a powerful army is needed!”

“I can understand that, young knight master, but Selene and I wanted to get away from the city. This is much more relaxing. Although Koriston is a city run by democracy, which is good, here we don’t have to worry about the growing need for futuristic change. The senate is under control there in order to deliver the newest industrial gadgets, especially for warfare, and not to mention all that need to make a dollar. And it’s never enough. The capitalists are teeming with ideas.” Loris drew a breath. “Don’t get me wrong. Bridimar is changing for the better, and we give our people the right to produce and sell, but we do not push to keep up with the latest philosophical needs. Here we live to enjoy ourselves,” said Loris.

“Have you seen our latest warfare gadgets? My army has destroyed many of these vampires using new, effective weapons,” said Caprius. “These weapons of ours were obtained from Koriston. The Taughtenslotte army is the most lethal with the latest gadgets. Queen Amenova herself has personally signed a deal with Elysium so that we can obtain these weapons from them. We are united with them. Queen Amenova and my father have all signed agreements. She and my father are in constant talks. Just days ago my father went to Koriston for a meeting. He, Amenova, and Ganner have agreed to resume talks on the continuing peace with your Bramonians. We are moving ahead.”

Loris could not believe what he was hearing. “Caprius! I know of Ganner. To believe that he is willing to open his doors to outsiders baffles me. It is just too hard for me to believe! And I don’t know why he has agreed to resume peace negotiations and to settle terms primarily set by the Elysians. He is a snake. Yes, my Bramonians are at peace with you Elysians. And my house is open to the Seatons. But Ganner works dirty. He cannot be trusted! I can see through the fog. And I say to you that this web of lies spun by Ganner is a trap.” Loris took a sip of his wine. “I am worried. I do not have a good feeling about this.” He took another sip of his wine. “Today he says he wants peace. But mark my words, it is only a matter of time before he strikes again. If the majority of Bramonians really wanted to put the past behind them, to have everlasting peace, GANNER ISN’T THE ONE TO GET THE JOB DONE! In my professional political opinion, Ganner has to be assassinated! Then a new leader would be appointed—one who would have diplomacy on his or her resume, one who would be willing to lead his people in nationwide peace, one who can stomach the change.”

“Yes, but are the people looking for change?” asked Caprius.

“The people grow restless. They are tired of war. I can honestly say that a vast majority are looking for a new government, a party that would do away with the traditional sovereignty. Our people are eager to accept foreign policies and ideas. Those who do not are the toxin that has poisoned the minds of our people, all because of the government, which has been in control of the city for centuries. And it isn’t just Ganner. There are key players in Bramonia serving its government who are in control. It is all very complicated, my friend.”

“Then why Ganner’s sudden interest in resuming diplomacy? He set the meeting,” said Caprius.

“Diplomatic issues are a good sign of change,” said Loris. “But I don’t think Ganner’s heart has softened.” Loris shook his head. “I don’t know, Caprius. It is hard for me to believe that the lion was transformed into a loving kitten,” said Loris. “Where did you say this meeting was taking place?”

“It is in Koriston. Queen Amenova wrote the letter. She stipulated that Ganner has agreed to this,” said Caprius.

“Why didn’t Ganner write the letter himself?”

“I don’t know,” said Caprius.

“Have you confirmed this meeting with Queen Amenova?”

“No, we did not,” said Caprius. “We assume the meeting is taking place. In the past, all meetings with Queen Amenova occurred and were well-executed.”

“My friend, your people assume too much,” said Loris. Loris sighed with relief. “Well, at least the meeting’s in Koriston. He will be well-protected there.”

“Precisely! Which is why I am not worried,” said Caprius.

“I am surprised that this meeting isn’t on Ganner’s home soil,” said Loris.

“Well, we will see how the meeting goes.” Caprius had had enough of politics and war. He went back to a previous discussion. “So, you like to live independently without the worry of change. What about the constant need for new medicine?” asked Caprius. “The ability to heal is a powerful thing. One might need healing. Almanite is the leader in medicine.”

“Here we use natural remedies for healing. They are quite affective,” said Selene.

“I have to disagree with you on that. Almanite has effectively cured many patients,” said Caprius.

“Caprius, Bridimar is a sanctuary. Here we heal naturally. And people come here for peace of mind,” said Loris. “We are not ashamed to go swimming in our pools without the need for trunks. We bare it all. There is no shame in it, for this is Bridimar—a place like no other.” He spread out his arms. “This place is paradise on earth!”

“Yes, it is beautiful here,” said Caprius. “Loris, can I at least count on you and your people to go to war with us? If the undead overrun Alamptria, it could mean the end for mankind. It will come to it. The time will come when all men will need to unite. We will need warriors.”

“We are a small army here, two thousand strong. We are quite protected here. No harm will come to us,” said Loris.

“Yes, and I have my dear Loris to protect me,” said Selene. “And we have the Seatons!”

“Yes, of course you do. And for that reason I need to know that I can count on you. Can we, Loris?”

“I do not intend to send my people to their deaths. We fight for us,” said Loris.

Caprius edged closer. “Loris, if the undead take hold of you, you will be destroyed. But together we have a chance.” Loris thought about it for a moment. He crossed his arms. “If you do not help us, then you are alone, and you will die. Makoor will enslave you. You’ll be made to serve him.”

Loris drew a breath, scratching his chin. “If the time comes, and you need my help, you have my sword. I will fight along your side, Caprius Seaton. You have my word. I tell you this as a brother.”

“Thank you, Loris!” said Caprius, touched by Loris’s words of comfort. He sat back, more relaxed, and smiled.

This book has been a special presentation of the dark, magical world of Alamptria. Exciting scenes have been brought forth to you from both past and future books. I cannot wait for the release of Serenity Incident, due for publication on Christmas of 2017, and Lantrinon, due for publication in 2018. Also to be released is the book: ‘Deadfall.’ I hope you have enjoyed these exciting scenes that I have comprised for you, and I look forward to bringing you more of the Dead Path Chronicles. And as the great Grongone says, “Embrace the vim, young knight master!”

[]About the Author

Richard A. Valicek was born to parents of Croatian descent in Toronto, Canada. He is proud of his heritage, as his great grandfather used to take care of the Austrian king’s horses before the First World War. In his early adulthood, he began writing short stories. As he grew up, his ambition as a storyteller merged into a career in visual arts, and he graduated with a degree in graphic design.

In 2001, Valicek decided he wanted not only to illustrate stories; he wanted to write them himself. He began taking courses in writing and graduated with a diploma in a Liberal Studies program. He slowly began to develop what would become his first major work.

His first book entitled Alamptria: Red Moon Rising was self-published in 2010 and went on to win the Buzzillions Reviewers Choice Award.

Currently, in addition to publishing several stories with the Internet magazine ScreamofTerror, Valicek is now working on the Dead Path Chronicles series, as well as his science fiction tale Prominent.


The Dark Magical World of Alamptria - the dead path chronicles

Richard A Valicek unleashes his new book on the ‘Dead Path Chronicles’ series entitled; ‘The Dark Magical World of Alamptria.’ This is not a continuing story, but rather, a book containing chapters and excerpts from both past books, and books still to come. This will give you a good insight on what the world of Alamptria is all about and a sneak peak at some upcoming chapters from future books. Chapters and excerpts released are from books such as; Red Moon Rising, Quantum Heights, Serenity Incident, Lantrinon, and Deadfall. The book also contains some fascinating articles; such as ‘The Vampire’ and an incredible introduction to the ‘Dead Path Chronicles’ series.

  • ISBN: 9781370075218
  • Author: Richard A Valicek
  • Published: 2016-09-05 11:15:52
  • Words: 40498
The Dark Magical World of Alamptria - the dead path chronicles The Dark Magical World of Alamptria - the dead path chronicles