It’s that time of year again. Everyone is going back to school and so is Clay & Susan Griffith’s Gareth from The Kingmakers.
A war to the death.
Empress Adele has launched a grand crusade against the vampire clans of the north. Prince Gareth, the vampire lord of Scotland, serves the Equatorian cause, fighting in the bloody trenches of France in his guise as the dashing Greyfriar. But the human armies are pinned down, battered by harsh weather and merciless attacks from vampire packs.
To even the odds, Adele unleashes the power of her geomancy, a fearsome weapon capable of slaughtering vampires in vast numbers. However, the power she expends threatens her own life even as she questions the morality of such a weapon.
As the war turns ever bloodier and Adele is threatened by betrayal, Gareth faces a terrible choice. Their only hope is a desperate strike against the lord of the vampire clans—Gareth’s brother, Cesare. It is a gamble that could win the war or signal the final days of the Greyfriar.
The Vampire Empire trilogy rushes to a heart-wrenching conclusion of honor and love, hatred and vengeance, sacrifice and loss.
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away three copies of The Kingmakers.
The Last Day of School
Gareth opened his acute senses. The pungent smell of human detritus and waste threatened to overwhelm him. He could see filth as it slowly seeped down the steep streets of Edinburgh. He could hear the sounds of humans moving all around him.
He stood with three lean figures in the shadows. They appeared like any other resident of Edinburgh, but they were far from that. Crystal blue eyes marked them as creatures of the night. If any passerby was fool enough to enter the dark close, they would not leave.
The market day was over, but the city streets and squares still teemed. Citizens headed home after a long day’s labor, carrying their wares or driving their cattle or geese ahead of them. Shops were closing while taverns and other businesses of ill repute were opening.
Gareth was young and tall, finally growing into his adult strength. His sharp angular face was calm and serious, but he couldn’t help the nervousness that rose in him. His father, Dmitri, stood just behind him. Dmitri was a giant of a man, easy twice Gareth’s weight and powerful for all that. At the moment, his father kept a broad hand on the writhing form of Gareth’s younger brother, Cesare. Dmitri glanced down at the boy who bared his sharp teeth at all who wandered close to their place in the dark.
“I’m hungry,” the small Cesare whined.
Dmitri ignored the plea and stepped close behind Gareth to stare at humans crossing the entranceway to their dark close. Some glanced into the shadows, but none entered. It was reputedly filled with plague. It was not a lie.
A man had paused to brush the dust from his pants and wipe sweat from his forehead. He wore a metal breastplate and tall leather boots. He carried a steel helmet in his hand. He adjusted the rapier that dangled along his thigh and a long pistol protruded from his belt.
“Tell me about that one,” Dmitri demanded of Gareth. His words were mere hisses that were lost in the noise of the city.
Gareth stared at the man for a moment. He exchanged a glance with the vampire next to him, another young male of his age, Lothaire of Paris. He was more muscular than Gareth and broader in the chest. Lothaire shrugged his bony shoulders under a thin hemp coat.
“Kill him, Gareth,” hissed Cesare, still held in the grip of his father.
“No.” Gareth shook his head. “He’s not the one.”
“Why?” Dmitri raised an eyebrow. “He is virile and strong. His blood would be warm. Perhaps you’re not ready to leave yet.”
“He has weapons,” Gareth argued.
“You’re afraid,” Cesare snarled in accusation. “He can’t hurt us.”
Years ago, Gareth would have snapped back at the insult, but now he felt the desire to explain to his aggressive brother. “You’re right. He likely wouldn’t hurt us before we killed him. But he could. A lucky stab. A fortunate shot. Plus, if he isn’t taken quickly, he could raise the alarm. We don’t need a crowd knowing we’re about.”
“Correct.” His father nodded, pleased. “We thrive in darkness. In addition, Gareth is right. Tools are dangerous. Avoid them, if at all possible.”
The soldier quickly moved on and a cadaverously slight woman, aged no more than twenty, hurried out of the wind into the close where the vampires hid. She clutched her rags around her, raising a hand to cover her face as she approached the four figures without great interest or fear.
Cesare hissed at her and lunged forward, but Dmitri stopped him. The boy whimpered. Neither Gareth nor Lothaire made a move toward her. As she passed, Gareth pushed his senses past the strong refuse stench and caught a whiff of something.
Dmitri turned to his elder son. “Why do you not strike?”
It was obvious, but Gareth answered obediently. “She is foul. She has plague.”
Gareth swelled with pride and grinned. Words of praise from his father were usually rare, and he craved them like humans loved treasure. He was anxious to be off soon with his friend Lothaire to wander the world, as was common for young vampires of his age, but he hated leaving his father. Still, he was reassured by knowing he was prepared to hunt and survive.
A young woman moved slowly passed through shafts of light from the rising moon, carrying an armload of packages. She was soft and upper class, her pretty yellow dress dragging the ground. She was alone.
“Her!” Cesare nearly salivated. “Take her.”
Even Lothaire nodded. “She would be the one.”
Gareth raised long fingers and studied her closely. His nostrils flared, breathing in her scent deeply. “No. Leave her alone.”
Dmitri’s stern face regarded his son. “Explain your hesitation.”
Cesare’s expression brightened as he sensed the tension building between sire and son. He pressed close against his father’s side.
“She is with child,” Gareth replied.
Dmitri’s hard visage didn’t soften. “Why is that a factor? Your brother says he’s hungry.”
Gareth stiffened and held his ground. “If we kill her, it would not only take one life, but two. It’s wasteful. As you’ve said many times, we owe our existence to humans. If their numbers fade, so shall we. If we let her live then we have two humans to feed us in the future rather than just one here and now.”
The storm in Dmitri’s gaze faded with the pride he felt for his son. His other hand fell upon Gareth’s shoulder and squeezed. “Yes. That is correct. Waste is what will destroy us.” He reached out and gave the Parisian a soft slap on the cheek. “Are you listening to me too, Lothaire?”
“I am, sir.” Lothaire gave a charming wink. “As always.”
Dmitri smiled at the two princes. “You will both thrive. I only wish I could go off on an adventure with you rather than shoulder my burdens here.” His eyes saddened as he regarded his eldest son. “I do expect you to return home someday.”
“I’ll always be at your side.”
Cesare dropped down into the dust wrapping his ragged cloak around him, bored now with the exchange. “I can’t wait for him to leave.”
Dmitri laughed at his sons. “Bitter rivals to the end.”
“I fear so, sire,” admitted Gareth.
A shadow fell over them as a new human paused near, an elderly man with grey hair and a crooked leg. His hand gripped a tin cup that held a few shillings. He bent over a cane and paused for breath. This was the perfect prey: weak, solitary, and poor. No one would miss him and he could be taken quietly.
“Should I take this one?” Gareth let sharp claws slip from his fingertips.
“No? But Cesare is hungry.”
“Cesare isn’t hungry. We fed yesterday. It’s all well and good to understand your food, Gareth. It’s more important to understand your appetite.”
Gareth glanced down at his young brother huddled on the ground who grumbled in annoyance.
“Let’s return home,” Dmitri suggested. “It grows late, and you will soon depart for the world. I’d like to spend a few hours with you before you leave me.”
Gareth placed a hand on his father’s shoulder, more like a comrade than a son. “I’ll miss you.”
“Oh, for a while, no doubt you will. Just remember what I’ve taught you and everything will be fine.”
The vampires buried themselves in shadow and strode deeper into the bowels of the close. When it opened above them and they found the tenement windows all dark, they rose into the air like black wraiths.
Meet Clay & Susan Griffith!
Clay and Susan Griffith are writers who have been married for over 15 years. They are the co-authors of the VAMPIRE EMPIRE trilogy: The Greyfriar (2010), The Rift Walker (2011), and The Kingmakers (2012) published by Pyr Books. The trilogy is a rousing combination of pulp adventure, steampunk fantasy, and romance. Paul Goat Allen of Barnes & Noble’s Explorations, referred to VAMPIRE EMPIRE as “the future of genre fiction.”
James Marsters, who played Spike on the hit television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, narrates the audio version of VAMPIRE EMPIRE. Check out this link for a sample of The Greyfriar.
In addition to prose, Clay and Susan have written many comic books over the years including The Tick, Bart Simpson, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. More recently, they’ve written Allan Quatermain and Vincent Price Presents: The House of the Raven, both of which have been adapted into audio dramas (www.colonialradio.com). Clay and Susan also script and contribute to the tv/web show Monster Creature Feature.
Want to purchase Clay & Susan’s novels?
- The Greyfriar at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Rift Walker at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Kingmakers at Amazon | Book Depository
Please help spread the word: Tweet: Go back to school with 30 authors while #giveaways ensue during #SchoolsIn (Sept 1-30) http://tinyurl.com/LESchoolsIn – #paranormal #contests #UF
Thank you Clay & Susan Griffith for taking part in Literary Escapism’s School’s in!
Clay & Susan Griffith are giving away three copies of The Kingmakers. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What was something you learned in school, that you never thought you would actually use and have? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
All School’s In contests will remain open until October 7th at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other School’s In contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the School’s In giveaways
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.