I have to admit that I’m running out of juicy and non-spoiler excerpts from War of Nytefall: Rivalry. Feel free to pick up a copy if you’re enjoying these. This one with some fun verbal sparring. I think I’m going to do a poll next week to see if there are any books that people want to see excerpts from. Always nice to find out if the audience is interested in something I haven’t considered.
Leading the way through the hallways, Clyde does his best to remember where he saw a small courtyard. With it being impossible to hide Titus, he repeatedly darts forward to knock out anyone who comes into view. He considers killing the locals to avoid them waking up and sounding an alarm, but knows that a trail of bodies could make the situation worse. The Dawn Fang finds it hard enough to tuck the unconscious vampires into closets and cabinets, so he can only imagine the challenge of cleaning up a bleeding body. Rushing around a corner to kick an Elven maid in the chest, Clyde spots the courtyard as the surprised servant bounces down the hallway and lands on a couch. Waving for his companions to follow, he walks backwards to make sure nobody is following them. Coming to the unconscious servant, the Dawn Fang rearranges her so that she is hidden beneath the cushions. Joining the others, he sees that they have already moved to a corner that prevents them from being seen unless somebody walks through the main entrance.
“First thing that has to happen is Xavier must drop the Luther form,” Clyde states as he takes a spot near a window. He holds up his hand to stop the other vampire from arguing, his fangs extending enough to be seen. “Don’t try to lie, Tempest. Why would Jewelz take your council members, but leave you behind? She wouldn’t bother with Luther too unless she took Bob as well. Smart move approaching us as a friend since I probably would have suspected you were behind this and attacked before our host appeared. Now that I know we’re all in the same mess, I’m willing to restrain my urges.”
“Never imagined that you would be the one to suggest a truce,” Xavier admits, his malleable body returning to its natural form. Appearing naked for a moment, he changes his clothes to a light blue shirt and black pants instead of posing as a noble. “Considering our situation, a truce would be smart. If this Vampire Queen truly wants a king then it would have to be either myself or Clyde. That is if a consort is her goal. From what you said, it is much more than that and I might be nothing more than an expendable pawn. Is that correct, Mr. Winthrop?”
“Wish I could give you a solid answer, but you can never tell with her,” Titus answers with a frown. Hearing footsteps, he stops talking and puts his hand on a marble potter, which he can easily throw at anyone who intrudes. “Jewelz was fueled by two things when she turned me. She wanted all of the gems in the world and revenge on Mab. I never learned the details of what happened between them, but they were bitter rivals by the time she tried to use me as a weapon against my sister. No idea how she survived that volcano, but Jewelz was always carrying enchanted gems and one of them could have protected her from harm. She probably created the Vampire Queen rumor out of ego since she couldn’t use her real name without attracting her enemies. It’s been so long that I can’t be sure of her goals. Safest bet is that she wants to wed the strongest Dawn Fang, rule over all vampires, and make Mab suffer. If Clyde becomes her king then that’s all three goals in one shot.”
Xavier rubs at his wedding ring and wonders if the Vampire Queen is aware that he is happily married. “While I do not wish to shy away from a battle, winning would still result in disaster. Nadia is my wife and to even consider fighting for the hand of another is a betrayal of her heart. The rage she will unleash on this place will be frightening. Since you are not attached, Clyde, would you consider simply accepting her hand? There would be no reason for a tournament of the first Dawn Fang seduces her, so the rest of us could go free.”
“A truce doesn’t mean I will refrain from hitting you for stupidity,” Clyde growls at the noble. Gesturing for the others to join him, he nods at where the locals have gathered between the wall and jungle. “Apelios is obviously the home of an obedient cult that worships the Vampire Queen. I’ve never interacted with Jewelz, but Titus and Mab have told me plenty of stories. She isn’t one to share power, so whoever becomes her king will be nothing more than breeding stock. That’s why she wants the strongest and smartest. She’ll use herself to give birth to a generation of Dawn Fangs based on her and all others will be destroyed. At least, that’s what I’m guessing if she’s even half as ambitious as I heard. Maybe I’m overthinking it and Jewelz will only enslave everyone else.”
“Is that really better?” Xavier asks, his hand transforming into a rapier. He carefully takes the blade off his wrist and sticks it to his hip while a new extremity grows from the stump. “All of the old-world vampires would be crushed and I can see the Dawn Fangs loyal to either of us being wiped out. I do not see how Mab fits into any of that. You said that she is fueled by revenge, so where does that come into play?”
“I’m not crazy enough to figure that out,” Titus admits, his eyes locked on the entrance.
“Could Mab be a prisoner here?”
“That thought crossed my mind, so maybe we shouldn’t leave right away.”
“Best to come up with a real plan too.”
Without warning, Clyde darts forward to see if Xavier will draw his weapon, but the noble merely stares at him. “Sorry about that. I just thought it was strange that you’re willing to work with me so easily. We hate each other, so I expected more of a fight. Wanted to see if you would reveal yourself as a spy, but you passed my test.”
“My hate for you is dwarfed by my love for Nadia who I wish to go home to,” the Lord of Nyte proudly declares. A glint in the far wall causes him to cast a spell that bursts whatever was hidden within the stone. “It appears we’ve been discovered. As much as I would like to leave now, this woman will probably recapture us. Perhaps we should play the game for a little bit in order to learn more. I, for one, am curious to discover how she became a Dawn Fang since Titus or Mab would have recognized her in Nytefall.”
The courtyard shakes and the outer wall begins to open, which reveals a series of obsidian pegs within the stone. Clyde grabs the two sides and forces them back together, but the pressure shatters the bricks that connected to the castle. Feeling all of the weight pull him towards the edge, the Dawn Fang grunts as he flips the pieces high into the sky. He prepares to punch the debris out to sea when a blinding, long-legged figure materializes in front of him and jumps off his shoulders. Dazed and bleeding from two stab wounds, Clyde is barely able to make out Jewelz flipping in the air and kicking the chunks of wall into the lagoon. The Vampire Queen lands next to the Dawn Fang and reaches out to catch some of his blood on her finger. Gracefully circling the man like a hungry cat, she comes dangerously close to tumbling to the crystal buildings below the fortifications. Stopping with her heels at the edge of the broken wall, she licks her lips and blindly waves at Xavier.
“You may go back to your room, Lord Tempest,” Jewelz says, her ruby-like eyes never straying from Clyde. Not hearing the noble leave, she flicks a sapphire at him and he disappears in a flash of blue light. “I only like repeating myself to those who have stirred my interest. Do you and the ungrateful whelp have some time for your hostess? I feel like there is much for us to discuss. After all, we’re both legendary vampires with a mutual fri . . . acquaintance. How is the crass and vulgar burglar doing these days?”
“Probably on her way to tear you apart,” Clyde replies with a smile.
“Oh, I truly hope you’re right, my future mate,” the Vampire Queen replies, her lips parting to reveal that she has an extra pair of fangs.