The first Gareth and Adele Novel, The Geomancer is the start of an ongoing, character-based, urban fantasy series set in the same Vampire Empire universe as the authors’ previous trilogy!
The uneasy stalemate between vampires and humans is over. Adele and Gareth are bringing order to a free Britain, but bloody murders in London raise the specter that Adele’s geomancy is failing and the vampires might return. A new power could tilt the balance back to the vampire clans. A deranged human called the Witchfinder has surfaced on the Continent, serving new vampire lords. This geomancer has found a way to make vampires immune to geomancy and intends to give his masters the ability to kill humans on a massive scale.
The apocalyptic event in Edinburgh weakened Adele’s geomantic abilities. If the Witchfinder can use geomancy against humanity, she may not have the power to stop him. If she can’t, there is nowhere beyond his reach and no one he cannot kill.
From a Britain struggling to rebuild to the vampire capital of Paris, from the heart of the Equatorian Empire to a vampire monastery in far-away Tibet, old friends and past enemies return. Unexpected allies and terrible new villains arise. Adele and Gareth fight side-by-side as always, but they can never be the same if they hope to survive.
Adele and Gareth Visit the Bazaar
A fog crept north from Lake Mareotis into the heart of Alexandria. Gareth paused when figures appeared in the fog. A crowd of people staggered past him, laughing, smelling of alcohol. They greeted him and his companion pleasantly before disappearing down an alley behind him. He turned to watch them vanish into the stinging yellow industrial mist. “Where are they going?”
“To the bazaar.” Adele stood close to Gareth. She was dressed just like the crowd that just passed. A long robe flowed around her limbs and her face was covered by a burqa with decorative lace and coins jingling over the bridge of her nose and down her cheeks. “I used to sneak out to the bazaars all the time back before I was empress. And this time of year they’re even better. There are old midwinter traditions from the north that some people still remember. It was their season for giving gifts so the bazaars get bigger and more exciting.”
Gareth took her hand and steered her to join in the flow of the crowd. He blended in just as she did, clad in a thobe, the flowing robe of a desert nomad. His face was also obscured by a checked kheffiya and his eyes were hidden behind mirrored glasses. He wore a curved khanja dagger in his belt, and no doubt a pistol shoved somewhere in the long sleeveless coat he wore over his thobe.
Adele laughed. “You want to shop with our one night sneaking away from the palace? Surely you’ve been to a bazaar before.”
“Yes, as the Greyfriar I’ve been to many markets in human-controlled Europe. But I haven’t been to this one. With you.”
They reached the end of an alley and walked out onto a square enclosed by aging buildings of dull stone and brick. Wooden shuttered windows rose above them. The square had transformed into a camp, a chaotic collection of ramshackle huts, tents, and wagons. The smell of humanity and animals and food and spices was overwhelming. People cooked and talked and laughed amongst cows and goats and camels and horses. Hawkers shouted about their wares. Baskets. Pots. Knives. Chickens. Geese. Imported chestnuts. Roasted meat. Mulled wine. Crackling campfires, guttering torches, and strings of chemical lights glowing green and yellow and red created an otherworldly carnival-like atmosphere.
Adele and Gareth passed several stalls selling scarves and mirrored glasses as well as piles of cheaply made Napoleonic tunics in various colors. Gareth stopped.
“Do you need new scarves?” Adele asked. “I can buy some for you.”
“I do use them prodigiously,” he said in a low voice, inspecting the colorful cloth. “I have to keep Greyfriar outfits hidden all across Europe.” He tugged on one of the rifleman’s jackets and gave a critical hum at the quality. “You never know when heroism will strike.”
“It’s convenient that the new trend among teens is to dress like the Greyfriar. You can stock your wardrobe at reasonable prices. Come on.” Adele pulled him away form the table back into the press of shoppers.
But then she froze.
An elderly woman stood in front of a tiny stall lit by a single chemical lantern. Her table was covered in dolls about a foot high. The little swathed figures lay in a row, sewn from scraps. Greyfriar dolls. They were all strangely accurate images of the famed swordsman. Adele went forward in daze, leaning over the table full of little heroes. She pressed finger into the soft stomach of one of the little Greyfriars and let out a delighted laugh.
“How much?” Adele asked the woman.
Adele went for the small purse inside her robe and pulled out a coin worth five times that much. She put it in the woman’s palm and waved off an attempt at change. Then she surveyed the row of plush Greyfriars and chose the one that was the closest in colors to the outfit that Gareth had worn when she had first met him in France. She turned around and held the doll up to Gareth while bouncing with excitement.
“Look at this!” Adele held up the doll in front of his face. “Look! Are you looking? I can’t tell because of your glasses.”
“Yes, I’m looking. It’s me. Is it for me?”
“Hardly! It’s far too adorable for you to have it.” She clutched the little figure tight against her breast. “Finally a Greyfriar who doesn’t scoff at me!”
“Enjoy it.” Gareth nodded pleasantly to her and moved on. “I plan on teasing you relentlessly tonight.”
“Promises, promises.” The delicious smell of roasting chestnuts wafted to Adele and immediately she wanted some. She had sampled the treat before, but now they had become an increasingly popular food in Alexandria as soldiers returned from the war against the vampires in France.
Adele searched for a chestnut vendor as they pushed deeper into the square. The crowds grew thinner and the tenor of the surroundings changed. Many of the tents were painted with runic symbols and shapes, hieroglyphs, as well as spells and prayers written in a wide range of languages and scripts. A man sat cross-legged in front of his clapboard shelter waving his hands before a cobra that was alert and hooded and lunging at the man who sought to charm him. Another figure spun in circles with long streaming scarves swirling around him, playing a single endless note on a flute. Yet another man sat before a guttering fire, completely naked, where he bent to press his face deep into the searing coals. He held it there for a few seconds and then sat straight, his face white with ash, apparently unmoved by the experience.
“What is this now?” Gareth asked. “Who are these people?”
“They’re geomancers.” Adele looked over the strange crowd with a mixture of excitement and dread.
“What?” Gareth turned to Adele with shock in his voice. “Geomancers? Like you?”
“No. They don’t have true geomancy like I do. I doubt anyone here holds the power of the Earth. They’re fortune tellers and seers and scoundrels.” She slipped the Greyfriar doll insider her robe. “They call themselves geomancers because that word is associated with me and it has power now.”
Many eyes lifted to watch the two strangers. Fingers paused on tarot cards. Hands clicked dice for chance and bones for scrying. An old woman waved a bundle of smoldering herbs and whispered odd words.
Adele stopped where a young girl was arranging crystals in the sand. The girl slumped furtively and scooped up the stones in her dirty hands. She rolled the crystals between her palms for a moment, and then began to feel around her in the sand, searching for something. It was then Adele realized the child was blind. Suddenly an older woman pushed out through the tent flap behind the girl, and smiled with missing teeth.
“Tell your path?” The woman spoke directly to Gareth, extending her dirty hand down at the girl. “Your path, sir. My daughter can chart your course through the future.”
Adele asked, “Your daughter is a seer?”
The woman looked insulted. “No, no! She’s a geomancer. Be quiet, you know nothing of these things.” She smiled politely at Gareth, assuming he was the one in charge. “My darling is a geomancer like the empress herself. Hold the crystals, sir, and cast them. The Earth knows the truth. My daughter will open your eyes as she can’t open her own.”
A shiver of excitement ran through Adele’s body. She was fascinated by the weary certainty coming off the sightless girl. Her outstretched hands were a promise, not a sales pitch. Adele wondered if perhaps she had stumbled across the real thing. This girl might be the one true geomancer among this ramshackle circus of sham and pretense.
Taking pity on the child, Gareth knelt and lifted a lone crystal from the dirt. It was what the girl had been fumbling for. He took her by the wrist and set the stone in the girl’s palm.
Adele felt a jolt of alarm. “Don’t!” She reached for the girl.
The older woman smiled greedily and pushed between her daughter and Adele. “The exchange has passed. She is reading. Ten piasters, sir.”
Adele saw Gareth regarding her. She realized it was because he carried no money. Adele reached into a pocket in her robe, pulling out a silver coin, a half pound. She handed it to the woman who remarked, wide eyed, “I have no change, I fear.”
Adele wasn’t paying attention to the sputtering mother. Instead she held her breath and watched the girl closely. Small hands clutched the crystal Gareth had handled. The girl let the other stones fall to the ground. She sat with head down and her face in the shadows.
The girl pressed the crystal to her cheek. “It’s hard to read.”
The mother’s eyes flicked with displeasure before she pasted a phony smile on her face again. “She will read for you, sir. Don’t worry. She will tell your fortune.”
“Everything is running together,” the girl mumbled.
“Stop now,” the woman chided. “This fine gentleman doesn’t have all night to wait for you.”
The girl hunched her shoulders with effort. After a long moment, she shook her head in frustration and gripped the crystal until her knuckles were white, as if she was trying to squeeze water from it.
“Stop it now!” The woman shook her daughter by the shoulder. “Tell the man what he wants to know!”
The girl looked up with milky eyes slightly askew. “He’s not a man.”
Gareth backed away, but Adele grabbed his arm, willing him to stay calm.
“How dare you!” The mother slapped the girl. “Why are you so wicked?”
“Don’t hit her!” Adele pulled the infuriated mother back. The woman cursed and pushed Adele, who stumbled on loose crystals in the sand. Gareth stepped in swiftly to catch her before she fell into the dirt, but one of Adele’s flailing arms caught the side of his face.
“Look at his eyes.”
The naked man sitting before his fire pointed at Gareth. The man’s face was white with ashes, but his eyes were wide and dark. Gareth’s glasses were gone and his crystal blue eyes shone unnaturally in the colorful light. Adele frantically searched the sandy ground. A glint flashed near her feet. She retrieved the glasses, handing them to Gareth. He covered his eyes and seized the pommel of his dagger.
A man on a campstool carving a wooden staff stared at Gareth. “What of them?”
Adele pressed Gareth back. She felt a growing scrutiny from the crowd. The mother was shouting at the blind girl who was trying to scramble away into the tent.
“They’re blue!” The ash-covered man rose and revealed his emaciated form in the firelight. “Like a vampire.”
“You’re crazy. People have blue eyes.” The wood carver laughed, but not convincingly. He squinted at Gareth again.
The naked man walked through his campfire as if in a trance, sending sparks into the air. “I was at St. Etienne. I saw them. Every night I saw them. Thousands of them. Killing everyone. I’ve looked them in the eye, and I know the eyes of a vampire when I see them.”
The spaces between chaotic hovels filled with people. Escape routes were closing. The crowd exuded curiosity and trepidation, but also a tense edge waiting to burst through the fragile, shuffling calm. The mob wasn’t ready to act yet; it didn’t have a joint mind yet. There was still time to avoid trouble.
“Go.” Adele pushed Gareth toward a small break in the growing crowd. “Back the direction we came.”
The mother spun from the tent where the girl had fled and jabbed an accusatory finger at Gareth. “What are you? What did you do to my daughter?”
Adele felt her arm pulled. The naked man yanked her toward his fire. She slipped her hand around his forearm and grasped it tight. Then she swept her foot through his ankles and sent him crashing hard into his fire in an explosion of burning kindling. He shouted in alarm and rolled away.
The woodcarver reached for Adele’s veil, but a gloved hand intercepted him. Gareth pulled the man close. A growl came from behind the khefiyah. The man cried in fear as he was lifted bodily off the ground and hurled into the crowd. Gareth turn and began to batter men aside as he plunged into the mob with Adele on his heels.
Someone grabbed Gareth around the waist and tried to tackle him. It was like trying to wrestle a tree. A fist slammed onto the foolish man’s back, crushing him to the dirt. Metal glinted beside Gareth and a dagger plunged into his side. People gasped at the sudden violence. Gareth looked down calmly at the knife’s hilt before sending an elbow into the attacker’s head.
Adele pulled her Fahrenheit dagger from inside her robe. Its green, chemical trail through the air caught the attention of some in the crowd. She swiped wide to push back encroachers. With her left hand, she drew the knife from Gareth’s ribs and spun with both daggers dancing around her. He made not a sound, but stood beside her. Some of the crowd brandished knives around Adele, jabbing in, seeking an opening in her weaving blades. She didn’t want to kill anyone. Adele felt more hands snatching at her robes as well as the tug of blades slashing cloth.
“Climb up!” Gareth whirled to present his back to Adele. She leapt and wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders. She kicked a man who came close with a long knife, bowling him back, as she felt Gareth’s muscles tense. He bounded off the ground. The sole of his boot pressed onto a man’s shoulder to propel them higher into the air. Then he grunted from the impact of a wall. He scrabbled furiously at a windowsill and his toes fought for purchase in the rough stone.
Adele felt a hard whisper by her ear and flecks of stone peppered her face. A bullet had just missed her. “They’re shooting!”
“Hang on.” Gareth tensed again and he pushed off in the opposite side. They rose even higher, floating over the teeming square. The crowd below pirouetted as one watching them pass overhead.
Another hard impact with a wall shook them both. Gareth fought to hold fast. A bullet cracked into the stones just above them. Before Adele could call out in warning, they dropped fast. Adele’s stomach rose in her throat until a rough jolt brought them to a sudden stop with Gareth’s arm stretched straight overhead, holding a thin ledge. He rammed a boot into the wall. With the crash of shattered wood, thin window slats tumbled through the air. He found solid footing on a narrow sill.
Gareth spun so Adele could drop off his back into a room. She saw his white robes fluttering from the impact of multiple bullets. Gareth made no sound even though some of the shots hit their mark.
He dropped from the sill and Adele turned to see a family staring at them. A man and woman with two small children. They had been sitting on the floor amidst pillows eating dinner from a common tray. The man quickly put himself between the intruders and his family.
Gareth ignored them and went for the door. Adele bowed slightly to the family and fished out a silver coin. She set it on a cabinet.
“I’m sorry.” She gave another bow. “I’m sorry.”
Adele caught up to Gareth halfway down the central stairs. When they reached the dingy foyer, he ran to the front door and kicked it open. Gareth didn’t question that Adele was close behind him as he sprinted across the street and into a dark alley.
“Oh no!” Adele shouted.
Gareth twisted back, grabbing her arms, pulling her close. “What’s wrong? Are you injured?”
Adele’s hands raced over her torso as if searching for wounds. Her fingers snaked inside her robe and she let out a relieved sigh. She pulled out the ragged Greyfriar.
“I thought I lost it.” Adele gave the little doll a kiss on the head. “That girl was amazing. She was the real thing, a geomancer. She read your true nature from that crystal. I’ll have to find her later.” She pointed at Gareth. “Alone. That was the last time you go to a bazaar as long as you’re a vampire, so that’s a long time.”
Gareth stared at her for a long moment before motioning her up the alley. “We’ll see.”
“Well, it’s the last time you have your fortune told.” Adele slipped the Greyfriar doll back into her robe.
“That’s fine.” Gareth took her hand as they ran. “I’d rather continue to be surprised.”
Adele swore she could see his smirk behind his cowl. “Damn, I should’ve gotten chestnuts.”
Meet Clay and Susan Griffith!
Clay and Susan Griffith met at a bookstore thanks to Uncanny X-Men #201. They got married because of a shared love of adventure stories featuring heroes who both save the day and fall in love. Soon they were writing stories together. After years co-writing television, comics, short stories, and novels, they remain happily married. They are the authors of The Geomancer, the first book in a new series of “Gareth and Adele” novels set in the same alternate history world of their VAMPIRE EMPIRE trilogy. They also wrote CROWN & KEY, a trilogy set in the real Victorian world, but one full of magic and monsters. When not writing or talking about writing, Clay and Susan are watching classic movies, playing Warcraft, and struggling to entertain a cat.
They still have that copy of Uncanny X-Men #201.
Want to purchase Clay and Susan’s novels?
Crown & Key
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