Here we have the first real teaser for War of Nytefall: Loyalty. I took part of the prologue, which is where Clyde is set to be executed and the ‘accident’ happens. I put the break in, but I’ve openly stated on this blog several times that this is Clyde’s origin, so I’m not really considering this a spoiler. Honestly, things are going to get more difficult after this in terms of posting teasers.
A loud boom from the city causes the vampires to stop and focus their attention on the execution circle. They can barely make out Clyde being walked down the street, their naked leader surrounded by priests and guards. He puts up no resistance, except to dodge the debris that the thick crowd throws at him. The master thief manages to avoid every blow without moving beyond the tight group of guards. By the time he reaches the edge of the circle, the mortals have given up trying to hit him and settle for screaming obscenities. Clyde effortlessly slips from his chains and bows to the angry citizens, which causes the guards to immediately tackle him to the ground. People scream at the sight of him baring his fangs, but they calm down when he is restrained and his head is covered by a dull yellow sack. Wanting to get the execution started, the nervous soldiers grab the vampire by the limbs and unceremoniously hurl him into the center of the circle.
Rising to his feet, Clyde frees himself again and slowly spins to take in the sight of the four priests. They stand in unison and finish their chanting, which draws beams of sunlight into their bodies. Looking as if they are living stars, the Duragians turn the energy into holy blasts that strike the vampire from every direction. The far ends of the spells turn into claws that sink into their target’s flesh and slowly tear him apart. Instead of writhing in pain, Clyde laughs and dances to the fury of the surprised crowd. His joy abruptly ends when he vanishes for a second and comes back into view. Unlike before, he is fully clothed and completely healed as the spells swirl to stab into him again. The vampire drops an orange orb that has appeared in his hand, the glowing relic remaining at his feet. An echoing shriek of agony bursts from his mouth as his skin splits and coils of evaporating blood rise from the gaping wounds.
“That idiot!” Mab shouts as she leaps forward. She is stopped by Titus catching the end of her cloak and Decker forcefully pinning her to the ground. “Let me go! Don’t you see what’s happening! Clyde had an illusion in the cell and was hiding in the city. He was using his own execution to distract everyone from the theft, but they must have put a teleportation trap on the relic. They must have known about his plan or taken the precaution anyway. Now, he’s exactly where they want him, which is in the middle of that holy nightmare. Let me up, dwarf, because we have to save him.”
“And how do you plan on the three of us getting through that crowd much less defeating so many Duragians?” Decker asks as she struggles to hold onto the enraged woman. Having no other choice, he snaps Mab’s lower back and breaks her arms to prevent her from escaping. “I’m really sorry that I had to hurt you, but charging in will get you killed. Clyde wouldn’t want you to be so reckless and don’t try to say otherwise. Besides, even if we could get there, we wouldn’t make it in time. He’ll be dead in the next five minutes and there are too many blood sacks between us and the circle. If you don’t want to watch then we’ll understand and not think any less of you.”
Mab manages to roll onto her back and finds the strength lurch up to slam her forehead into her friend’s slightly bent nose. “Worry about yourself because I’m going to rip your eyes out for what you’re doing. Unlike you two, I refuse to stand by and let him die. He’s rescued all of us time and time again, so why should we fail when he needs us the most?”
“Feels like the earth is shaking,” Titus whispers more to himself than his friends. The ground abruptly lurches to the side as if the hill is having a violent spasm. “What in all of Windemere was that? Is this part of the execution? Maybe Clyde is using his illusions to . . . That’s not Clyde. Tell me you two see this.”
Decker and Mab begrudgingly stop their argument to follow Titus’s gaze, which is locked on the horizon. Ripples of magic run through colorful clouds that are billowing across the sky like they are being pursued by a terrifying predator. Constant explosions shake the land and the wind carries the sound of distant screaming, but nobody can discern any of the words. Cracks of lightning rain down on the landscape, the purple streaks pulverizing whatever they hit. In response, blasts of lava erupt from the earth and punch holes in the rushing storm. People cower as the molten rock returns in a hardened state and crushes those who are not quick enough to get out of the way. Animals run and fly in every direction, the threat so enormous that none of the creatures can figure out where they would be safe. Throughout it all, the executioners continue pulling Clyde apart while the other priests work to put up a barrier that shimmers and sputters around the temple and village. Sensing danger, the three vampires drop to the ground an instant before the holy shield explodes and sends a razor-sharp circle of sunlight across the land. All those too slow to react are sliced in half, but they continue to scream as the twisted magic keeps them alive.
Getting to their feet, the trio cautiously moves closer to the edge of the hill, which is now a sheer cliff devoid of plant life. They watch in horror as the region turns into a rocky landscape with a few patches of trees that grow to twice their natural size. A quake knocks the vampires down and they cling to the earth as an ear-wrenching shriek fills the air. The Duragian temple quivers before the valley floor collapses and every building falls into the ravenous pit. Mab heals her injuries by using most of the blood in her body and scrambles ahead of her friends. She can barely hear Clyde screaming and laughing as the execution circle slides into the water-like dirt along with everyone around it. The surviving mortals struggle to escape, but they are unable to find any handholds that do not break away and send them tumbling into the chaos. With a startling jerk, all of the surrounding hills sink until they are nothing more than small bumps in the earth. By the time the Great Cataclysm has ended, the three vampires are the only ones left in the area and the greatest stronghold of their enemies has been consumed down to the smallest of structures. The only sign that anything once stood in the former valley is a faint glow coming out of a single crack in the dry ground. As the silent minutes pass, the light steadily grows dimmer until it to is nothing more than a memory.