Here’s a fun section of War of Nytefall: Savagery. This was an odd book to write since it was a quest instead of the usual adventures for Clyde. Definitely stood out, especially since I had 3 storylines running towards each other. Enjoy.
Clyde cranes his neck in the hopes of seeing the top of the tower, which is made from expertly crafted marble blocks. His attempt to count the floors is foiled by thick clouds that pass by and block his view. There is no pattern to the windows, which are dark rectangles against the white of the beautifully polished walls. After trying in vain to get an idea of what he will be facing, the Dawn Fang gives up and follows the others across a triangular garden that is littered with rose bushes. He can see other flowers crushed beneath the thorn-bearing plants, which are home to hundreds of the pesky beetles. Small groups of the insects zip through the air at face height, which makes it a slow journey to a simple iron gate. Any time one of the bugs is swatted, it explodes into vines that birth at least two more of the creatures, so the vampires do their best not to react. Unfazed by the beetles, J’kelva calmly holds the exit open for the others to hurry out of the garden. Stepping around Clyde, she takes Lost by the hand and leads the young Dawn Fang to the side of a cobblestone path. There they sit on a wooden bench where the guardian casually claps for a well-dressed butler to emerge from behind a hedge. With a smile, the man bows his head and pushes a cart of snacks towards the two women.
“Your assistant will meet you at the top,” J’kelva explains while choosing a cookie. She catches Clyde’s hand before it can touch the cart and smirks at the sensation of two fingers snapping. “I heard your earlier complaint about Lost repeatedly getting removed from your challenges. It is unfortunate since she would have been more helpful outside of Mestra, but you didn’t know what would happen here. The problem is that you are seeking strength for a fight that you will face alone. The lesson you need to learn is not about teamwork, so she has served as your map reader and occasional motivation. Once the challenges began, Lost needed to be temporarily removed or she would have gotten in the way of your progress. If it makes you feel any better, all those who enter Ikol Tower need to go alone. You may take Orinak, but only one vampire is allowed inside at a time. You will battle up to the top and gather keys, which are needed to escape the final floor. The creatures are created as soon as you enter. Lost’s presence would cause confusion and force her to be an active participant in your battles.”
“And that would be a problem since she doesn’t have her powers,” Clyde says as he snatches a piece of cake. He lets out a muffled growl when his teeth close on metal and he sees that the treat has been turned into an empty keyring. “If you’re expecting me to ask any questions then I don’t have any. You can’t tell me if this is the end, but I get the sense that there will be more to do at the top. See you there.”
“Good luck!” Lost yells while waving her bunny.
“Do not depend entirely on that sentiment,” the guardian interjects as a cup of hot tea gently touches her lips.
With Orinak sitting on his head, Clyde heads for the tower, but he walks backwards to keep an eye on J’kelva. It is the crypt fairy yanking on his hair that causes the Dawn Fang to turn around and see that there is now a massive knight in front of the door. The black armor is adorned by vine etchings along the limbs and a golden lotus sticks out of the breastplate. One hand is gripping a spear with a tapered head that reminds Clyde of a metal fence post commonly found around expensive manors. The oval shield on the other arm is as big as a table and has a glossy sheen that is marred by a single scratch near the bottom. With there being no sound or movement, the Dawn Fang wonders if the knight is merely a statue that he has to pass to reach the door. With the creak of old joints, its curl-horned head suddenly lowers into his path and gently nudges him back a step. There are no eyes on the other side of the helmet’s grating, but it is clear that the warrior is sizing up its newest challenger. As a wind blows across the walkway, Clyde notices the flutter of a small cape of red that is clipped to the guard’s shoulders by giant ornamental buttons. The left side has one that depicts a beautiful smiling fairy while its mate is a heinous demon sticking out its tongue.
“Are you ready to enter?” the knight says in a booming voice. The force of it speaking shakes the nearby trees, but the Dawn Fang stands his ground against the pressure. “Those who challenge Ikol Tower will be met with beasts beyond their imagination. If you have been told what to expect then know that you have been lied to. The dangers change for every guest. The only constant is that you must claim the key from each of your opponents. That is the way to progress to the final enemy and earn entry to the roof. Know that there is no other path to Basglow for outsiders, so it is either proceed or turn back.”
“I’ve come this far,” Clyde states before holding up the empty keyring. He takes a step forward, but is blocked by the shield. “Do I have to answer a riddle? You’re done talking, so let me pass. Unless you’re my first fight, but I don’t see how something as big as you is going to fit through that tiny door.”
“You are impatient and that will do you harm,” the guard claims with a raspy sigh.
Wonderful section. I’ve been trying to sort out a tower of challenges, but I have time to figure it all out.
It’s tough because it can get tedious. I did a lot of time skips in this one and only showed the key events of Clyde’s climb.
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I have some notes, but I need some stronger ties between levels. I’ll get there eventually.
I had it be a monster on every floor challenge. That’s why I skipped a lot. No reason to show every creature or even most of them.
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Might be good advice to consider.
I enjoyed this excerpt, Charles.
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Such a great intro to the challenges ahead. Great world building. Who wouldn’t be ready to enter with Clyde after that?
Thanks. He’s not going to have much fun in that place. All of the Mestra challengers were designed specifically to push him to his limits.
A wonderful excerpt, Charles. It certainly whets the appetite.