Prologue – The Vampire’s Hourglass

Hello good people of the Occult,

Francis here, again! Since this is my takeover…and since Shayne isn’t looking…do you think it would kill her if I shared the entire prologue of Book 3? I didn’t think so… I mean, it does star yours truly. It is in my perspective! So, I think I have every right to share my thoughts with you! Ladies and gentlemen, I hope this sets the scene. There is so much more coming…

~ F

Prologue

Francis

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I sat in silence, the memory of Valek’s harsh cries still stabbing at my eardrums. Lion’s cries. I had not anticipated what his induction ceremony would entail. My ceremony had been vastly different, for the Elders needed nothing from me.

For Valek’s induction, I was the messenger, sent to usher Valek through the Abelim city gates.

The Parliament never skimped on luxury; the carriage that had brought us into the underbellies of Prague was lush, the inside covered in fine, indigo-colored satin. There were more than enough cushions to throw around, each embellished with a scrawling “P” in the center, done in silver thread. The fabrics were imported, no doubt, from far areas of the globe that even I, in all my worldliness, had never visited. The curtains that did nothing to shield out any sort of light from the windows, hung in layers of pellucid tulle, and even the ornate lines of the handles, which matched Prague’s baroque façade, were sterling. But of course I would notice these superfluous details. Valek could have given a damn and half.

The coach was propelled by six demon beasts like the ones Valek and Sarah had created only weeks ago—horses injected with the same dark curse rampant in our own bodies.

On the way to the underground city of heathens, the conversation between us was one-sided, and misery draped his near-perfect features. I attempted to distract him from the thoughts of the feeble and seemingly defenseless Charlotte he’d left back in the forest clearing with the stranger—with Nikolai, and the other misfit monsters.

As we traveled on through the dim streets, the cartwheels clattering over the cobblestone, I watched Valek’s eyes, lost and distant somewhere between here and hell. I attempted to ignore the images replaying in his mind like a broken record. It was enough to see the bloodied, dying girl once. These visions were only starting to make me salivate, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful, so I attempted to focus on my own thoughts.

Charlotte had made her own decision. She did not want him to stay. Valek needed to remind himself of that. I had hopes he would forget the girl once he was at home with me. At home in the Dark City of Abelim.

Yet however distant Valek strayed from her, the more obsessed he became. His thoughts were relentless as he fantasized over again about Lusian’s heinous acts and the sort of revenge Valek would seek. She would not suffer in vain, he’d decided.

During those weeks Valek had spent in the Dark City without her, his cogs had been turning. For the first time since I’d known him, he frightened me.

The initiation ceremony to induct him into the Parliament was complicated—painful, even to those of us who were spectating. Valek had been merely a ghost of himself that night he arrived with me. The Elders greeted him lavishly with gifts, overflowing bottles of the purest blood, and the best quarters, but he barely took notice.

Cicero, the previous liege, greeted us in a marble and onyx hall that seemed too impossibly large and tall to fit anywhere under the earth. In fact, everything about the way Abelim was erected seemed impossible. The caverns around the capital palace were immense structures of residences and odd, dangerous-looking, little shops carved into the very stalagmites, quartz, and stone.

The dim lights about the under-Earth megalopolis were nothing other than bewitched enchantments; similar to the ones Sarah liked to create—ghostly-white orbs floating about the chilled air. They cast phantasmal reflections in the dark surface of a black river that flowed along the pathways that snaked under highly vaulted caves. Walking through those dismal passages, one could hear a distant plummeting of water from a fall situated somewhere in that shadowed abyss, and the screeching of bats.

There was no warmth. There was neither humanity nor the sounds of throbbing pulses and delicious, rusty, iron smells. That place was a crypt with only the cold scents of wet algae on stone and the musty, cursed creatures forced to an eternity in that darkness.

We followed the one envoy called Milo, robed in dark suede and shimmering silver, as he led Valek and me into the capital. Every member of Parliament behaved as lavishly as they dressed and they indulged in all of the opulent things I loved so well. Fine clothing. Fine furnishings. Pure, hot, blood. Elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. I belonged with them. Valek did not. It was disheartening, but I knew he only belonged in one place, however woebegone it was then.

He seemed barely present during that first night in the Dark City. The only time Valek’s consciousness found him was when a few of the highest Elders splayed and strapped him over a marble slab in the center of some other large room; this one with stone floors that were separated and uneven. Small rivers and pools of glistening water circulated around where we stepped, lapping over the smooth boulder faces. I cringed at the notion of my boots getting wet.

Curious markings were etched deep into the walls, too, all conjoined, but somehow forming individual symbols, until they met at the far wall and disappeared behind a grand, four-story effigy of Lilith. Lodged within her stony heart was an ancient hourglass, cradled by more sterling fixtures that swirled around the ballooned glass and stone carvings. It seemed less an hourglass, and more of a work of art, for within the elaborate, silver designs that covered mechanical gears, precious stones were embedded, glimmering in the dim light.

Of course, time had encased the structure with dust and cobwebs, but even so, I considered it hauntingly lovely. Red grains of sand from behind the glass plummeted to a mountainous pile in the bottom half with each passing moment. I understood that the sand symbolically represented blood, and the passing of life. Lilith’s marble eyes stared coldly over Valek writhing on the pedestal, as he was surrounded by some whirling, blue streams of magic that I’d never seen before. Dark sorcery, for sure.

Ophelia, Cicero’s sister, moved forward up the crude steps and tore Valek’s shirt from his body. With a wicked glint in her eye, she watched as a few of the others continued with the part of the induction that was a surprise, even to me. I would have never agreed to fetch him if I’d known, for his pain from that night is so branded into my memory.

Cold! I gasped as the mental wave of ice struck me from behind. I should not have tuned in so intently to his mind. Valek’s thoughts revealed to me that he hadn’t felt as cold in decades. The sensation knocked the wind from even my own chest and I shook my head, attempting to calm myself so that I might continue to study what they were doing to him.

Valek’s eyes darted about the room, looking to each unfamiliar face as they all peered at him. He was looking for me. Looking for me to save him as I’d done so many times before. I could hear the desperation in his mind. But this time, I was barred. This had to happen. It was something he needed to endure if he wanted to avenge Charlotte in the way he imagined. And, if he wanted to win the war against the Regime once and for all, he needed to obtain the sort of power the Parliament planned to give him.

Cicero smiled and said, “It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Parliament coven, dear friend,” then injected something deep into Valek’s left forearm.

Valek wailed with the pain, his back arching as his head smashed against the impossible strength of the granite slab beneath him. The stone crunched with the ferocity of the impact from the back of his skull. I grit my teeth as his pain swelled through my own mind. It was all I could do not to collapse with it. As his eyes swelled with blood, I too felt the violent sting begin at the bridge of my nose, traveling up to my throbbing temples. My heart hammered in time with his as violent, temporary life sprung forth in my chest.

Burning!

Horrible burning sweltered from his arm, quickly to the center of his body, and through the rest of his limbs. And I was connected to every terrible moment of it. I could hear every thought over his garbling cries. Feel every ounce of terror, grinding my jaw as I looked on.

“This is for your betterment, Valek,” I heard Cicero say from somewhere in the space around him, his voice solid and satisfied. “And ours, too. You’ll be linked with us forever. An Elder with the same powers as we all possess. And with something more. Great responsibility.” His slanted gaze cast up to Lilith then, his grin spreading as he eyed the hourglass.

It had been one of the worst experiences Valek had ever endured, and in turn, myself as well. And I could not help but think, that it was somehow entirely my fault.

But there we were. It had been several evenings since Valek had been made the liege of the Parliament, and for the first time, my superior. It was not quite so lonely down there in Abelim with him, however miserable he was. Barred together again at last, because the fates had commanded it of us. Though I was forced to continue to admire him once again, from a distance. I was left with only my mere fantasies about how less lonely this eternal existence could be if he ever reciprocated what I felt for him. And the worst of it all, he heard these reveries play out in my mind because we all possessed the same, irritating access to each other’s thoughts. Like a scratched record, it repeated over and over and he was forced to listen to my pain nightly.

The torture was both his and mine. My only consolation was that I was made deaf to his vexations, because on the night of his initiation, he had changed. The others sank him even deeper into the darkness than I ever could. He became one of them. An Elder. In charge. More powerful than I could have ever dreamed of him becoming. His mind became a secret to me, just as the rest of theirs were—guarded by curious witchcraft—a bewitched pendant they all wore around their throats. Which was a good thing, because just seeing the pain painted on his face night after night was enough for me to have to endure.

Above all else, Valek was my friend. He had made mistakes. A lot of them. But I knew his heart, however dark and dead, was a good one.

I sat by the fire—the only bit of light and warmth in this slate society that thrived, an ancient, unopened vein hidden beneath the most beautiful city in the world. Hidden beneath Prague. The secret the Golden City concealed just below its surface was but a dismal, forgotten crypt. Not even Occult creatures knew where Abelim was or how to access it. It was a place of eternal shadows, just as Vladislov promised when he condemned me here. And dark it was, though there was something about what Vladislov did that did not seem a true punishment. Not entirely. Not quite. Though my surroundings were as depressing as ever, and the place could seriously have done with some redecorating, I had never felt safer from the impending danger we all knew was coming. Being down here meant security. Safety from the light and from the Regime.

Whatever was left of it.

In all three-hundred-and-a-half years of being what I was, I crossed countless humans as they clumsily hobbled in and out of my existence. For the short time I encountered each of them, I learned more about who they were than they probably even knew about themselves. It’s amazing what one might find in the behavior of another when that person knew they were about to die. I was responsible for each of their ends, watching their lives cut short before my eyes and under my lips. It allowed access to the deepest, darkest parts of each of them.

Pure, unadulterated bloodlust was what I lived for. The very smell of putrid, human fear excited me so. The salty ambrosia that washed down my throat and the sounds of pleading. One, after another, after another. Sometimes multiples in one evening. Men. Women. Children. I broke necks like humans broke bread at supper.

I lacked complete and total moral compassion for them and did not think twice about the nightly hunts. Ah, the wind on my skin as I seduced each of them and drew them in with my unstoppable charm, for I was the perfect predator, fashioned by the Devil himself to drink up mortality. And out of all of these lives I had taken, none of them haunted me thus.

None. Except one.

It is not that I have any conscience to speak of, or possess the capacity to feel guilt or empathy. I like to think that I lost those abilities the same evening I lost my own human life. It was so long ago, and I barely remember anything about my human self now.

Admitting that I listen to any sort of theoretical angel of reason perched on my shoulder would make me soft. Weak. So weak. I haven’t been weak in centuries. Guilt, sympathy, and empathy are all three very complicated women I’d never dance with.

The only reason this one, particular soul infected me so deeply was because he absolutely refused to break. Even against all odds, and as I was literally exhausting the life from him, there was a strength that lived on in his eyes and in the sound of his pulse that I knew would never fade. Even when his body ultimately went cold.

I never intended to make the choice for him, though it was almost as if he commanded it of me. Demanded that he become this way. It was simple fact. He was made to be a Vampire. Destined to be one with the dark gift and the divinely damned.

Born to die.

I will never forget the night I killed him. I will never forget the purity of that snowfall, the chill, numb and un-affecting to me, wrapped in its pure blanket, as I lay in the gutters of Prague. A city steeped in magic and intrigue, coddled with the cold and the darkness where I belonged. I was condemned to it and thrown out of the protective shelter of the Regime Palace walls.

Like Charlotte, I too was once a mortal adored by the magic, though when I chose to give up my mortality for a life among the damned, my lover decided that I had betrayed him in some personal way by joining the darkness.

The light turned its back on me, and I on the light. Without Vladislov, I was lost for nearly a century and a half.

Until that night.

I sat in those inky streets as they snaked through all the winter white. I waited for one of them—any of those mortals to stumble upon me and feel mercy. With that moonless sky, they wouldn’t have figured out what kind of monster I was until they drew nearer. And by that point, it would have been too late for them.

I eyed the people from my distance as they ambled aimlessly, and possibly drunken, along the cobblestone streets of Old Town. Mediocre bands played on, their instruments screeching on the wind made me wince, and paired with the clamor of some clumsy conversation happening too close to me, made me curl my claws around my ears. Sewage filtered up from the gutters, and paired with the roasting turkey legs and other greasy kiosk fare, it was enough to make anyone’s stomach turn. I was surrounded.

Loud. Obnoxious. Fat. Greedy. Selfish. To err is human, and that loathsome picture was exactly what was depicted before me. It was curious why it was their blood I craved. Interesting to me why our kind did not crave to consume the life of beings more divine even than us. But nothing like that existed. There were no archangels to attack in the streets, and even the blood of Christ was actually nothing more than cheap bottles of wine shelved in the cabinets of Catholic churches. To consume the power of something greater, so that we might become stronger—now that was an idea! What was it about the clumsy human that beckoned us so? What was it about their blood that called for us more than heroin called to an addict? I lay in the gutters for hours, pondering this during that long winter’s night.

I saw him, then, coming from meters away. Even in his clumsier, human form, he moved more stealthily than the others over the slick pavement that was dampened from the melted winter. Even then, he was still vastly different. Classier, leaner, and withholding a sort of charisma I had only very seldom seen in other mortals. I was enamored in that instant. My gaze locked on his slender form, which was silhouetted by the flickering streetlamps. His broad shoulders, his dark hair that dripped like jet rain down the severe angles of his face, as his leather boots advanced toward me. I recognized that moment to be one of the most detrimental to my usually controlled character. It was a moment when the ice that guarded and enclosed the very core inside of me melted. Frozen for hundreds of years, and then in one mere second of weakness, warmed entirely.

You might say that I fell in lust…because I will never admit it was love. I will never fall in love, because love always ultimately finds a way to fail against more powerful forces, like war and magic and greed. Ultimately, love always fails. And I would never admit to failure.

The doors opened behind me, their booming echo rippling down the marble floors as though they were the surface of a dark body of water. I peered around the back of my chair.

Once again, I studied Valek’s graceful movements as he entered the underground hall. His patent leather boots seemed to make absolutely no sound as he moved toward me. The fire cast jagged shadows across his vaulted cheekbones and his sharp jaw, making him look like something more sinister than I knew he was. The frosted color of his eyes pierced me so thoroughly, I thought I must be impaled by their very glance. They did not leave my face as he continued advancing toward me, and the breath stilled in my lungs.

For those months that I was alone in the Dark City, I longed to see Valek again. Before his mishap with Charlotte, I thought about him endlessly each of my evenings, down in that metropolis of death and secrecy.

Until I was ordered to go and fetch him.

I thought doing so would bring me some amount of happiness once again. I thought seeing his face down there every night would do something to make this place feel more like home. But instead, it only felt like I’d caged a free bird.

Everyone loved Valek. Everyone wanted a piece of him.

I couldn’t bear to look at him any longer. Instead, I turned to face forward in my chair again.

The flames of the fire, large in their marble hearth with its elaborate, gilded carvings flanked by intimidating columns did nothing to warm me, for I still missed my life the way it was before all the mess. I missed my home and the bustling noises of the city. I missed the fun of preying on young, human males in the underground discotheques. I missed the fresh air of midnight and the moonlight glittering over the baroque helmets of the various basilicas and monuments scattered among the modern bastions. The Vltava River. I missed the clamor of people. I missed the starlight. I even missed Sarah, my indentured house Witch.

Valek’s forlorn sigh slid through the staleness of the room and filtered into my chest, causing my stone heart to somehow constrict. He took a seat in one of the silver, throne-like chairs next to me. I could not hear his thoughts, but I felt his misery. Like chilling bands off a windstorm, they blew me over and took me down with this sinking ship.

But alas, I will surface. I am fine. I always have been and I always will be.

To err is human, and there is nothing more human than love. And though I would never admit to loving Valek, I did. So I guess I have erred. So what does that make me?

What am I?

What am I?

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Virtual Release Day Party – October 28th

Good morning Occult Citizens,

Francis here! I know what you are all thinking… what in holy hell am I doing up with the roosters and the mortals? Well, I’ll tell you. I had the most disgusting royal blood slither down my gullet last night in preparation to begin speaking with you all… That’s just how much I love you! No. Really.

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For the next twenty days or so…I am doing a FULL take over of the Of Light and Darkness websites and social media spaces in preparation for your return to the Occult City. We are VERY close now, and I am here to make sure you all have what you need to survive the monsters and the magic. We can be a malicious bunch, as you must know by now.

If you have any questions, you must direct them to me. Shayne has become far too preoccupied. I’ve locked her away for the time. ;) So now, I will get on to release day plans and festivities.

I will have Shayne return on October 28th so she can host a LIVE CHAT via USTREAM, just as orchestrated last year. This live chat will occur at sundown….7 pm sharp! Be there, or I WILL find you. Tune in because Shayne will be answering questions about The Vampire’s Hourglass, the rest of the series, doing exciting giveaways and more!

Yes! I said giveaways! This includes posters, signed paperbacks, bookmarks and other forms of this stuff called “SWAG” or what have you!

Leading up to our special release day party, I will be posting sneak peaks from the books. Photos of us in the Occult City. Answering your questions. Chatting with you. Whatever you’d like. If YOU have any ideas for the big release, feel free to direct them to ME, as I am in charge now! (Well…for the time being.)

That is all for now. Fangy kisses to each and every one of you! I eagerly await your messages. Also, don’t forget to stop by my guestbook on this site and sign it.

Yours eternally,

Francis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdLb3aqjoLA

THE BEST OCTOBER MOVIE MUST-WATCH LIST

Hey Occult Citizens!

It’s the first day of October and we wanted to celebrate with a blog post and an open discussion. Obviously, we know you are all excited about the release of book 3!!! Have you checked out the book trailer released yesterday?

October is an all around magical month! How are you going to celebrate? Do you have a never ending list of movies to watch like we do?! Here’s our to-watch list…

1) Obviously Hocus Pocus!!! Duh!! We’ve been posting about this movie for weeks already on Facebook!

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2) A close second favorite is pretty clear… Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas!!! Get the candy corn and Christmas cookies ready…

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3) We’ve gotta keep rolling with the Tim Burton and go for another obvious favorite… Edward Scissorhands!!! Are we sick if we dreamed of someone like him more than Prince Charming while we were growing up…
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4) A surprising fourth is another Burton hit (in our opinion). We LOVED his adaptation of the classic pet-spook, Frankenweenie. It’s just too cute not to…

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5) And obviously, on some Saturday night when we’re all being grannies in our PJ’s with our snacks…a full Harry Potter movie marathon is a MUST!

tumblr_muo24lDOlY1risnpzo1_2506) Another October must-watch of ours is one particularly close to our hearts. It just reminds us too much of our Edwin. ;) Of course, we are referring to “Coraline”

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7) We are Team OLAD, after all. It’s pretty obvious that we need to add some sort of Vampire film to this list. Our choice would definitely be one of the best Of. All. Time. “Interview with the Vampire” is a sultry classic. Drink with a glass of wine and your significant other close by… ;)

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8) Let’s end on another awesome movie marathon. How about you get in your snuggies and watch the entire Hayao Miyazaki film collection from Studio Ghibli, staring with Spirited Away and ending with How’s Moving Castle…

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So what do you think of our Occult October must-watch movie list??? What are we missing??? Grab your candy corn and apple cider and let us know what movies are on YOUR list!! HAPPY OCTOBER!

~Team OLAD

 

 

The Third Installment is FINALLY Here

Good afternoon Occult Citizens!

We are so excited about the arrival of the newest installment in the bestselling Of Light and Darkness Series, The Vampire’s Hourglass!

Decadent Publishing has recently announced that the official release date for OLAD #3 is Tuesday, October 28th! Just in time for your Halloween reading pleasure!

Official Book Cover

Official Book Cover

What does this mean for you? It means TONS of new contests and giveaways of ebooks and even SIGNED paperbacks from Shayne Leighton! It means a shiny new book trailer, blog interviews and guest posts, new plot and character discussion, a new book playlist, and special memes and excerpts! So what are you waiting for? Add it to your “to be read” list on Goodreads, get your steaming cup of apple cider or red wine (or blood), and get ready to head back to the occult city!!!

What are you most excited about? What questions do you still have from book 2?

 

~Team OLAD

READ The Anatomy of Vampires First Chapter HERE!

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Part One
Chapter One
Vampires Under the Effects of Law One

“Law One: No being of magical decent or Occult blood may reveal the knowledge of the existence of magic to any member of mankind. Failure to adhere to this most important law is punishable by execution before your peers.”
~ Official Book of Occult Law, Ordained by the Eastern European Magic Regime

In all my years of scouring foul weather and stalking the dingy side streets of secret, magical cities around this world, I have yet to come across a cursed man not negatively affected by Vladislov’s ruling.

Vladislov, the one responsible for the horrid oppression in magic kind. The one who has instituted a war on darkness and all those who oppose him. He is the highest branch of an oligarchy of Wizards who’ve named themselves The Regime. Elder Elves. Entitled Elves.

And, I refer to the Vampires as cursed men and women, for cursed is exactly what they are. Perhaps, being hexed by the dark gift is the reason for these poor creatures being so unjustly outcast and tormented by the Regime—the Elven kind look upon mortals as lower life forms. And what are Vampires other than simply mortals, transformed?

Or, perhaps the Elves react this way to the Vampire-kind because they fear things they do not understand—which they consider a danger to their magical society. The darkness. Dark magic.

Usually, one would not refer to such a perfect predator as a “poor creature,” nor would they empathize with beings considered to be the most ruthless killers in the world.

But I do.

For the things I’ve seen done unto them would cause any person with a beating heart to feel pity for these creatures. They are victims of outcast. Of genocide. They are highly misunderstood, and not only by Elven kind, but by the world.

Namely, one dreary night, lonely and hopping the British rails from Cardiff to Nottingham, and then London, I stumbled across a man so lost—so affected by the restraints of Law One, that I gathered the gall to approach him. He slumped crooked in the farthest booth of the sterile train car.

The weather outside was relentless, hail and rain clattering against the windows. The train wheels clacked and jumped every now and again, causing me to lose balance and catch myself on one of the leather chairs.

Our gazes locked on one another a few times, and a suspicion flashed in his eyes before he quickly dropped his focus. I continued to move forward, knowing he had the power to vanish rather quickly, but refusing to allow him to do so. I had seen many of his kind lurking the shadows since I began my studies. I’ve watched them hunt and disappear within a blink of my eye. I’ve even gotten close enough to their discarded victims, and lingered long enough to sketch crude images and track down notes, but never, until this point, did I have the intrepidity to approach the fiends themselves for questioning.

The train car bumped once more, and I clutched my bowler to my head, holding tightly to my umbrella and briefcase in my other hand.

I had known exactly what he was when I laid eyes on him. His abnormally pallid skin, like onionskin, revealed the snaking, purple veins beneath. He continued to keep his gaze low, as if not wanting to reveal the unearthly glow of his blue irises, or perhaps, a thirsty-black glare. I knew he sensed my revelation the instant it hit me, for all Vampires had the ability to mind-read.

His reaction to my knowing was nearly undetectable, but I knew what to look for. The twitch at the corner of his mouth, suggesting his amusement. The slightest shift of his gaze across the floor, moving toward where I was creeping. The uncomfortable fidgeting of his claws laced in front of him. I knew he was deciding whether or not to kill me, but I stepped closer, anyway.

Perhaps, he might have heard it in my mind I only wished to help him—to gain knowledge and advertise the truth necessary to save him. In a flash almost too

quick for me to notice if I’d blinked, his scowl touched my briefcase, and then away. Perhaps, by me publishing my studies, the Occult-kind would learn not to fear the darkness, but rather accept it as an equal part of magic kind.

The Vampire remained eerily still. I pulled up my case, gripping it firmly, my pulse hammering loudly in my ear. I became painfully aware of it throbbing in my throat, and realized how difficult it must have been for him to be contained in the same compartment with me. I squinted at the subtlety of his jaw muscle tensing. Proceeding slowly and with more caution, the realization reached me. My life could be over with any one of those steps I took. I said, “Good evening.”

The cursed man still did not lift his gaze to meet mine. With his claws folded, his thumbs persistent in fidgeting, he said, “Indeed.”

I don’t believe there had been a moment before that point where I’d heard a Vampire’s voice in such a close proximity. There had been other times when I’d heard a growl from a distance, and perhaps some violent argument, which of course ended in the demise of the weaker fiend, but this was exhilarating. The deep, melodic sound caused little, chilling bumps to trail up my spine and across my arms. This sound somehow took on a sweet quality, and with a depth that reminded me of the luxurious low end of a cello. And though I reveled in the company of women, the sound of this man speaking did something to seduce me as I stood there. It was all part of what made him dangerous; the ability to draw people close, to lure them to their fate, to madden them with lust. I blinked, immediately enamored and excited by the notion he might actually allow me to live long enough to take notes on this experience.

And I’ll also go on record saying the only real thing I lusted after in that incredible moment was knowledge.

“May I sit?” I asked.

Finally, his magnificent eyes locked with mine, revealing the full threshold of their illumined, icy color. It did something to cause the sterile lighting and the bland fixtures around the cabin to become more mystifying, simply because he was there, glaring at me. It was brilliant. Breathtaking. Another layer of chills laced over my skin. His focus flickered once to my briefcase and then back to my face.

“If you must,” he sighed, and leaned back deeper into his seat. He rested his chin in his gloved hand, gazing weary-eyed out the foggy window.

I exhaled, still not totally relieved of my fear, but growing more relaxed the longer I was close to him. I set my case in my lap, not taking my eyes off of him. Perhaps I made him uncomfortable, but I was just taking in too much information. He seemed drawn, but more so than what I believed was typically normal for someone like him. The circles under his glassy gaze were deep and dark. His posture was crooked, like an old man lived beneath his eternally young flesh. His hair was course and brittle, though long, as it hung past his shoulders around his jagged cheeks. And his clothes were tattered, a few areas haphazardly patched where the holes were large.

Some might have thought him to be a sort of rogue traveler, starved by his own wanderlust and chosen poverty. But I knew the truth.

There was no other being in the car with us, so I opened my case and pulled out my leather-bound journal, plunging him into my questioning.

He knew it was coming. I saw it in the way his expression tensed at the stormy night. I didn’t ask his permission before I began. He would either give me answers, or he wouldn’t. It was as simple as life and death, and considering the fact I was still sitting there; I already knew what his answer would be.

“You seem tired,” I began with pen in hand. It felt hot in my grip, my heart continuing to pummel. I held my breath.

“You seem eager,” he muttered. His eyelids drooped halfway, and I could see a new thought being born. “There are new laws. New statutes, in our world, friend. And they are taking their toll,” he sighed. “I trust you know what I’m speaking out.”

“Yes.” I nodded, the words feverishly pouring from the tip of my pen. “Yes. Law One, put in place by the Central European Magic Regime. But yet here you are, in a mortal passenger car, making your way across England in full disclosure. Are you not afraid of being caught?”

Law One was a newly instated measure of ridiculousness set by the light sight of Occult-kind, namely the Wizards, locking the magic folk within the borders of

their respective, secret cities, thereby making it impossible for any cursed man or woman to hunt mortals. Simply, they were starving them out.

The Vampire smiled, though the grin did not reach his tired eyes. He hesitated a moment and said, “I find the best place to hide is in plain sight. They won’t find me here, because they are not looking here. The Regime and their idiotic force are too busy guarding city borders.”

“I see,” I said, continuing to scribble. And though I didn’t look up at him, I could feel his glare piercing my skull. I dared not meet his gaze, praying he would continue to let me be. Though, my prayer may have fallen on deaf ears, for I could see how starved he was. “Why are your eyes still blue?” I asked, head down at my journal. He would know what I was implying.

He chuckled briefly. “You needn’t worry, friend. This train is infested with rats and pigeons, and luckily for you, I’ve had my fill just before you arrived.”

“But does it satiate you in the same way human blood does?” I prodded.

“No. Not at all,” he answered and paused again. We studied each other in silence for a few moments, save for the low rumbling of the wheels over the wet rails. The gentle rocking of the car made me queasy. “Tell me something, now,” he queried, finally. “How did a man as…usual as yourself come to know so much about my kind and those immediately surrounding us?”

My throat closed over my words, my mouth going dry, but I spoke regardless. “My wife was altered by your kind.”

He paused for another moment, rubbing his index claw against his lower lip. “My condolences,” he said with sincere reverence, from what I could detect. He frowned. “So, you wish to know me before you hunt me, then? You seek revenge.” It wasn’t a question.

“No. I’m sorry, can you not sense the intentions in my mind?” I was confused. Why should he question me when he should instantly have the answer?

He shook his head. “Yes, I can. But I’m afraid I still do not understand. So, you have no vendetta against what I am? You only wish to…learn?”

“Yes.” I nodded. “I’ve made it my business to learn everything I can of the Occult and of the darkness. I no longer want to be afraid and I know my wife is not evil.” My pen had stopped. Our conversation had turned personal.

“No more evil than I, I’m afraid,” he breathed. “How recently was your wife…changed?”

“Not too long ago, at all.”

“Ah. And I imagine she has tried to kill you?” He nearly giggled, folding his hand over his mouth, his eyes revealing some apology under his amusement. “Actually, yes, she has. Her cravings are insufferable. But her attempts are

paired with regret. I know somewhere in her mind, there still lives humanity and compassion. I left to discover more about the truth, so I might be able to help.”

“There is no help,” he muttered, shaking his head. His scowl darted to the grim world outside the window, again. The hail had stopped, and all I could see were the streaks of rainwater sliding against the glass. “And where is she now?” He continued, frowning again.

“Taken. A platoon of those you mentioned, the Regime guards, appeared in the night at our home to drag her off to one of your hidden cities. It wasn’t a full week since she’d been changed when they came for her. I, of course, kept out of sight.”

“A good decision. They would have killed you instantly.”

“As I imagined,” I said. “But this didn’t occur before she received a curious letter from something called the Parliament.” I shrugged slightly. “Not even she knew what it meant, but they knew rather quickly she’d joined the ranks of your kind.”

“Ah,” he said again, his two index claws becoming a steeple before his pursed lips. “Yes, we all receive our letter of acknowledgment when we change. Consider it a rebirth certificate, of sorts.”

“I see.” A new thought flashed through my mind, and though I felt foolish, I had to ask my next question. “Do you think she is safe?” I might have appeared daft, but my worrying about her fate kept me up at night. And I needed to proceed on this venture with a clear head. This devilish character might provide some insight.

“I do believe she is alive, yes,” he answered. “The same happened to me, but the memories of the night I was taken from my family are much grimmer.” He did not divulge any more details, but my imagination answered for me. “They’ve probably taken her to the Occult City nearest wherever you lived. I would imagine

she is there, attempting to stumble through what life means for her now, and how she will continue on with what she has become.”

The corners of my eyes pricked, and I clenched my jaw, swallowing back a few tears. I needed to remember my mission and not let the emotions muddy what I was there to accomplish.

“Right,” I mustered stoically. Clearing my throat, I swung one leg over the other and proceeded with my pen gripped tightly in my hand. The new lump in my throat made it hard to talk. “I would like to return to the topic of Law One, if I may.” The Vampire nodded politely for me to continue. “This, the most important law of magic society, makes it impossible for your kind to hunt, does it not?”

“Yes. You are correct. Another assertion of Law One means none of Occult kind, be it Elves, Witches, Phasers, or…Vampires, are allowed to set even a single toe over the designated Occult City borders. Results of being caught, especially for our kind, are most lethal. Burned to a crisp at midday.”

I shuddered, furiously dashing my pen across the paper. “And what sort of physical results does this harbor? I mean, the effects of not being able to regularly feed on mortal blood.”

He smiled again and mirrored my action, crossing one leg over the other. “You are brave to approach me and ask these questions. Aren’t you concerned a topic this morose could whet my appetite?”

“It has crossed my mind, yes,” I admitted flatly, but I was no longer concerned. After swapping stories, I considered this man more or less an acquaintance. I knew he was only speaking ironically and for his own amusement. I offered a confident grin up at him and again, he nodded in response.

“The feeling is a gruesome one. Even my human memories do not contain a situation to which I could effectively compare this. It is something like starvation. However, no.” He closed his eyes and shook his head, deep lines forming along his brow as his own pain bubbled to the surface. “No, it is much different. Much worse. It is like swallowing bags of sand, and somehow surviving. You are forced alive, but you in your entirety are dry and burning from the inside. There is no water around you, and even if there were, no amount of it could cool the incineration turning your insides to ash. Yet you live on. An eternity of hell fire.

Killing one after another after another, and though you feel compassion and regret in doing so, it is in your will to survive. Death and evilness are forced down your throat, just like the blood. Law One makes this life—if you even want to call it a life—nearly impossible.

“Once in a while, the Wizards take pity on us and round up groups of the Earth’s heathens and bottom dwellers, and throw us a meal. Of course, I am speaking about the drug lords and whores who pollute cities. People who would never be missed. The Regime captures them and delivers them upon the doorsteps of various Occult cities. But this is a rarity, and they advertise their actions as a humanitarian effort, so they maintain even the most liberal followers. But I find their efforts unnecessary. Nothing in this world could ever overthrow them. They are too powerful. Popularity seems oddly irrelevant.” He turned his focus out the window, again. This time, a new bitterness appeared behind his dark lashes.

The tip of my pen moved so quickly, my notepad nearly caught fire. “So, you would say the Regime is tyrannical and Law One is the direct cause of your suffering?”

“Absolutely.”

“But something you said strikes me. Most people would never believe you feel compassionate for killing and feeding. Society, or those who believe in your existence, view your kind as ruthless and dangerous—bloodthirsty and emotionless.”

“Dangerous, yes. Ruthless, well, perhaps sometimes. Some of us are ruthless. But do not forget so quickly what we used to be. You. There is a parallel between you and I, my friend. Our humanity. We do preserve our emotion. Our memories. Some of us become hungry with power and vanity, and those are the ruthless killers. But they are no different than the fiends existing in your world. Am I correct?”

“Yes,” I breathed. “Yes, of course.”

I did not realize it then, or maybe I did, but the Vampire from the train bestowed upon me the greatest gift I could have hoped to find that evening. Understanding. Acceptance. The revelation he and I were more similar than I

could have ever imagined. His society was oppressed, starved, and in poverty, just like many societies of the world I lived in.

A lack of human blood poses some very serious threats to a Vampire body. He explained the feelings of being burned from the inside out, but let us not forget these physical and scientific occurrences are the direct consequence of the lack of life and vitality. Dying organs. Brittle hair and yellowed teeth. Decaying bones. It is something similar to the process of aging in mortals, though faster. For you see, Vampires are none other than human beings literally drained of life. They are human corpses, animated by a dark and ancient magic and they are kept animated by regularly refilling themselves with that which was taken from them—life.

Unlike our sustenance, going straight through our digestive systems and being converted into energy, blood to a Vampire is absorbed almost immediately by their bodies and sent to their deadened circulatory systems. This reanimates their heart, pumping the stolen blood out through their veins and arteries, so they are, for lack of a better term, kept alive. In order to sustain themselves, killing is something absolutely mandatory and should be done without discretion. As we harvest sustenance, so should they. It is not good, nor evil.

It simply is.

Law One makes it nearly impossible, and so many of them are kept weak and vulnerable, feeding on rats and wandering deer. Though animal blood will keep them alive, barely, it is not by the same level of comfort deemed necessary to live a remotely happy existence. Put most bluntly, Law One is weakening the Vampire kind.

THE ANTOMY OF VAMPIRES

IS COMING JUNE 17th!!!

 

Join The Army!

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Good day Oladians!

 

Amazing news surfaced today! With approval from Spectra Records Shayne Leighton now has a Street Team! Army of Revenants was born today to help promote Shayne and her music career but also ties in with her writing as well. The Army is open for anyone to join from anywhere in the world and Shayne hopes that The Army will grow to be an amazing project.

 

Become a Revenant today and help spread the word about Shayne’s music and her future projects and inside to some awesome perks that may become available to members of the team! You can join the Army at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ShaynesArmy/?fref=nf

 

“Forever we live in the darkness, a fearless army; we are The Revenants!”

-Shayne Leighton’s Army of Revenant

 

~Asya

Of Light and Darkness is BACK!!!

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Good eve, guy and gals—lovers of OLAD!

 

Alas, we had disappeared again, but it’s not in vein! Shayne has been working hard as Shayne always does. She has been recently working on some music related projects but in between she had found the time to work on some writing as well.

 

As you may have, or may not have known, Shayne had been working on a companion novella to the OLAD series, The Anatomy of Vampires. And it’s set to be released on June 17th (further details of the release are to follow).

 

On top of that and music, she has also been wrapping up the edits on Of Light and Darkness Book Three which doesn’t have a release date as of yet but is set to circulate this year.

 

So not to fret dearies! There is a lot to look forward to this year and as more details unravel, we will be here to share!

 

Until next time, and remember: Keep Calm and Read Of Light and Darkness!

 

~Asya

AnatomyAD