Negative Man Wednesday – Dungeon Bay #2

So, I’m trying to get caught up from the days missed due to the hurricane and fall out. Issue #2 will drop today and #3 will come in tomorrow, during its regularly scheduled time slot.

Before we get into the story, I wanted to take just a few minutes to talk about my book schedule for the remainder of this year and then next. The Daemon Within drops on 10-17 all you Cactus Killer fans and there’s a possibility that Drakovia: Malice of the Cross comes up sometime in Nov/Dec.

As for 2018, I’m cutting back. Instead of the normal 3 novels, I will just be releasing 2. The reason behind that is each series is up to its final book. I don’t want to rush, as each book not only needs to do justice with the plot, but tie up all the loose ends. The way it looks now is that The Negative Man is going to get first bill with a late January or possibly early February release. Then, in the fall, The Inglewood Chronicles will get it’s normal close to Halloween release date.

Fear not Ragnarok on Ice fans! The sequel to Hat Trick will be coming, just probably not until Jan/Feb of 2019. Obviously, this is all just tentative talk and as things flesh out, I’ll give you more info.

But enough talk! On to the story!

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Issue #2 – The Informant

**Erin Cieslik**

I knew it wouldn’t take long to get my old friend Davy’s attention. No one, and I mean no one, had been down into Dungeon Bay since Victory’s death. The place was in shambles, the back-up generator’s barely keeping the lights on. Using my power from my titan form, I was able to give them some more juice, enough to get all the computers back up and running.

I sent a decrypted email from one of the computers Jeremiah Presley once used. It was a simple one sent to my old friend that just read, ‘Come to where endings meet beginnings.’

Not even two days later did a submersible dock outside the facility. The president himself was on it and he walked it, alone. “Erin, how the hell are you?”

“Davy, bro, it’s been too long.”

He reached out and we shook hands like it’d been yesterday that we last grabbed a beer or something. “I’m not surprised to be back here, yet you’re not the one I was expecting to see,” he let on.

“No, but Clickbait, Old Rich, and Andy weren’t coming down here until I vetted this myself.” His eyes got really wide. “Yep, I’m part of their group.”

Davy began to walk forward, waving for me to follow him. “You will need their help if this is to be successful, Erin.”

I wasn’t sure what the hell he was talking about. What was to be successful? “Dude, care to let me in on the big secret?” I asked.

He didn’t say another word – not as we passed Presley’s old lab, Victory’s communications room, or even the old holding cells that they kept the test subjects in. Davy finally stopped at the elevator that led to the lower levels of Dungeon Bay, the one place none of us were ever allowed to travel to.

The place where Victory had brought me back to life.

With the power to the generator’s being sufficient, he pressed the bottom and the doors slid open. “What you’re about to see may be a complete shock to you.”

“Something tells me I’m going to regret this.”

I got in and he pressed the last bottom on the panel – B4. The doors closed ominously and we took the slow ride down into the depths of the bay in which the research facility was built in. We passed B2 where I’d been brought back to life and sunk even further. When we reached our destination, Davy led the way off the elevator into the dark, cold, and damp laboratory.

He took out his cellphone and used the flashlight feature. “Welcome to Hell, Erin. This is where Victory conducted one of his worst experiments,” he told me. “This is also the place I need your team to venture to. I need the information off that computer.” He pointed to the far wall; the damn thing took up the entire section!

There was a noise that broke up the silence. “What the hell was that?”

Davy waved his hand off. “An old remnant of Victory’s deranged mind. He shouldn’t give you any troubles.”

I sure didn’t like the sound of that. Changing the subject, more for my own sanity, “What’s on the computer that’s worth all the trouble?”

“There’s a file, Twilight Days, that’s on it.” That sounded easy enough. “The file is massive, but located in it our coordinates to another of Victory’s black sites.”

Man, this was the last thing I wanted to be a part of. “Victory is dead. Who cares about locations to other secret locations?”

Davy avoided the question. “With those coordinates, I need a team with the knowledge to break in and steal a piece of tech he was working on, a suit based on Jericho Staley’s unique powers.”

“What did you say?”

Davy grabbed me by the shoulders. “I know Jericho was your friend, Erin. The people who still work for Victory would use that tech for some very bad things. Do you want that on your conscience? I don’t.”

I turned away from Davy and looked at the computer that held the information he wanted. “I’m in.”

**President Davy Whisnant**

I was back on the submersible with my team. Presley was standing beside my new head of security, Christopher Bain. Both were eager to hear if I was successful. “Erin will recruit his team to handle the job.”

Smiles were all around. “I told you he was gullible enough to do what we needed,” Presley said.

“Not gullible, Jeremiah, loyal,” I corrected him. “You don’t understand the depths people will go for you when you save their life a time or two.”

Presley was, and rightfully so, irritated that we needed the help of a gang of common criminals. Victory must not have trusted us fully, not like we thought. This was the last piece of the puzzle that we needed and only the skills of a man known as Clickbait would suffice. “Don’t worry, Jeremiah. Once the prototype is in your possession, you will be known as the man who brought about the biggest change of them all.”

The mad scientist smile at that proclamation. “It will be my finest hour.”

“Project Twilight Days is almost complete then,” Bain observed.

He was right; everything was within grasp. “Once we get the suit Victory almost finished developing, our countries super problem will soon become just a memory.”

-Jeremy

You can find all my books at http://www.boltbookspub.com!

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Negative Man Thursday: Dungeon Bay #1

Hey guys. It’s been some time hasn’t it? Good old Hurricane Irma sort of put a damper in my writing plans this month, which is why Dungeon Bay has been delayed for a few weeks. Good news is that I took this week to play catch up and I should be getting us back on track soon.

This story is going to be the bridge that leads us from Legends Can Die and into Twilight Days, the last chapter of our series. And I have a feeling this last book is going to be epic. I started some storyboarding the other day with author, A.L. Mengel and what came out of that #Writestorm session was pure gold. I look forward to sharing the details with you a bit later in the year when I reveal my 2018 book lineup.

And now, for your featured blog presentation, Bolt Publishing Presents

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Issue #1 – The Job

 **’Old’ Rich Shock**

“Wade, this doesn’t sound legit,” I told him.

The man known as Clickbait didn’t even look up from the computer he’d been working on. “Rich, this email came from one of the highest security clearances out there.”

That didn’t really mean shit to me, but it meant a lot to Wade. “Can you tell me who wants us to break into some secret underwater facility?”

Before Wade could properly answer, Andy and Erin walked into the room. Each had a beer in their hand and it wasn’t even eleven o’clock in the morning yet. “I’m telling ya, Erin. English football is much more exciting than this American nonsense.”

“No way, bro,” he responded. “You can’t even properly tackle and there’s no legit scoring.”

“Guys,” I interrupted. Both of them stopped their discussion and gave me their attention. “A job came in. We need a group vote on this.”

Wade wheeled his chair around with a printout of the email he’d received from the secure, yet secret account. “Someone, and by that I mean a very powerful person, has reached out to us to check out a place called The Dungeon Bay Research Facility. If we accept the job, they’ll send a USB drive that we need to attach to the server. The pay is outstanding.”

Something was wrong. I looked over at Erin’s face and it was stark white. “What’s wrong with you?” I asked.

“Dude, I’m never going back to that place.”

Well then, so the place did exist. “Hold that thought, Erin.” I grabbed the email from Wade’s hand and shook it in his face. “You need to find out who sent this to us. Whoever it is, they must know something about our little group – this ain’t no coincidence.”

Wade rolled his chair right back around began doing his thing on the keyboard. I rounded back on Erin, who still looked like he saw a ghost. “Deep breathes big guy,” I tried to reason with him.

I was looking to see if that monster inside him was about to come out. Erin generally had control over the Titan part of himself, but there was a foul energy in the room. “You don’t understand, man.” He slapped himself across the face, which was quite a scene to witness. “I was dead when Victory dragged me into that place. The stuff that happened after… no way. No way am I going back.”

None of us knew a whole lot about Erin’s past. He joined up with us about a year ago, after what the media called Victory’s Defeat – The Assassination of Ronald Victory. With nowhere left to go with Jericho’s death, we kept him with us. Since then, we’d done some odd jobs for a few of my old contacts. Nothing serious, just enough to keep us floating above the poverty line.

So when he told me that he’d died and that Victory dragged his corpse into a secret facility, well yeah, that caught me off-guard. “Damn – we didn’t know.”

He was calming down, thank God. “It’s okay. No one really knows.”

When he didn’t offer any more information, Andy’s glance to me told me not to push it. “If there’s anything we can do, yeah, just ask.”

Everyone knew there wasn’t a damn thing anyone could do. The guy just admitted to us he’d been dead for crying out loud. Hell, with that revelation, I went to the kitchen and grabbed a beer myself. I was halfway through when it truly dawned on me just how much a victim of everything Erin had been.

The only sounds you heard in the common room of our safe house were the clicks from Wade’s keyboard. Erin’s backstory sobered the mood, which was ironic as we were all trying to get drunk. Then, he stopped abruptly. “None of you will believe this.”

“Considering we just found out Erin had been dead and brought back to life in an underwater black site, try me,” I said sarcastically.

Wade looked at me like I was crazy. “What do you mean Erin had been dead?” Apparently he missed that one. “Never mind actually. It took just about every trick I know, but I traced the IP address of the email. It comes from the freaking White House.”

“Holy shiitake mushrooms,” our British comrade dropped on us. Leave it to Andy to use weird phrases.

“Not just the White House, guys – the oval office. This email came from President Whisnant himself.”

That’s when Erin’s eyes got really big. “Don’t reply to that email. I’ll handle this myself.” That’s when he grabbed his coat and left, leaving the rest of us in shock.

First he was dead and now he was going to handle something with the president? Just what the hell was going on here?

-Jeremy

You can find all of my work at http://www.boltbookspub.com!

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Creating a Horror/Fantasy Novel: Chapter 5 and Historical Research

 

One of the most fun parts of this project to date has been researching the historical accuracy of the content in the book. I’m not talking about Wikipedia, people! I’m talking about books, historical society web pages, and trolling Facebook groups dedicated to the memories of some of the places that are visited in the story.

Unfortunately, research tends not to be a key component in a lot of books I’ve read. I do believe some authors assume 99 percent of their readers will never look into any of the subjects they touch on in their books. And, you know what? They’re probably right. I recently read a fictional book that delved into the life of the Vikings. That author made a lot of false assumptions I knew from my own studies. It didn’t necessarily take away from the plot, but it did linger a bit with me that things were presented as true that weren’t.

For me, that’s the reason that I want to be as accurate as possible. Plus, you learn a ton of fun stuff! Did you know that in the 1700’s, the only book most people ever had a chance to read was the Bible? Or that if you were a bastard child, nobility had the right to strip you of a family name? Hell, I didn’t either! Research has given me these facts, facts that I introduce in my story.

So yes, research seems so ‘tenth grade history project’ in terms of people wanting to do it. Yet, if you choose to write a book that’s not entirely made up and uses time periods to convey a story, I feel it is a great necessity. However, these are all the ramblings of a mad man – you’re just here for the story 🙂

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Chapter Five

Three days had passed since our encounter with The Jackal. We were on the traveler’s road to Budapest, hunting the creature before he had a chance to recover, both physically and with superior numbers. Werewolf bites were highly infectious, so within a small period of time, The Jackal could rebuild an army of daemons. We’d been lucky so far in our encounters, but the one thing about luck is that at some point, it runs out.

As always, we were traveling in the evenings. During the day, we’d rest in secluded places just off the road. Radu claimed he could go further into the morning than we currently were, but I wasn’t going to call his bluff. The last thing we needed was a severely weakened companion when we caught up to the werewolf. The Jackal was strong; a coward, but even cowards find their true strength when cornered. And that’s exactly what was happening; we were cornering him.

Daylight was almost upon us. “Gabriel,” I said, using his preferred name. “It’s time to seek shelter.”

We were close. I knew Radu wasn’t willing to rest. “We can catch him. He has to rest as well – this gives us a chance.”

“Max is right,” Abigail said, supporting me. “Your weak from lack of nutrition and the sunlight will wipe out the rest of your strength.” Abigail’s knowledge of vampyres was quite vast, as I learned over the past few days. Her company had caught and tortured one in their travels and the daemon revealed much to them.

“I relent, for I do need to feed.” Radu’s fangs were starting to worry me. Would he try to feed on one of us? “Find adequate shelter, I will worry about my nourishment.”

Neither one of us said a word to that. Personally, I was glad not to have to witness what Radu needed to do. Looking for shelter for the day was a good way to keep my mind occupied from imagining the horrors that may be unleashed. Abigail’s silence seemed to match my own. With Radu heading back down the road, the two of us ventured off and into the wooded area running parallel.

Once out of earshot, Abigail voiced her displeasure. “We give him too much leeway. How do we know he’s not biding his time to eat us?”

“He needs us,” I told her. Even though Radu hadn’t told us his story, I was under the belief that if he could’ve killed Vlad, he already would have. “He might be Vlad’s younger brother, but he’s cut from a different cloth.”

“If you say so.”

Abigail and I had been talking more and more as our journey together began. I was a bit more forthcoming about my past than she was, but I was starting to get somewhere. For instance, I knew she was from the northern reaches of Moldavia and that her father was part of the Vatican’s army as well. The need to fight for the honor of our Lord ran strong in her veins. That’s why she was with us, even if she pretended to be mad at God for her handicap.

To me, she had no handicap. Her skill with a crossbow was proof of that. She may have used her hands, nose, and ears to help her navigate, but her sight was as good as anyone’s. Even if it didn’t originate from her eyes anymore.

Off to our right, I saw a rather large wild boar foraging for bugs. “That’d make a tremendous meal for us, wouldn’t it?”

Her nose wrinkled as it caught the scent of the creature. “Father, guide my arrow true.”

She was almost as quick as Radu when it came to movements for her crossbow. She could load an arrow and fire it with speed and accuracy unmatched. No sooner did the bolt leave the firing mechanism of the crossbow, it found its mark in the boar’s head. The poor creature stumbled forward and dropped dead in the grass not even a stone’s throw from us.

I knew what was coming next. “I killed it, you butcher it,” Abigail said dryly.

My knife was in my hand even as she said it. “Of course, dear,” I said with jest.

Butchering a wild boar is a bit of a tedious task. The skin is tough and then once you get through, finding the best parts of the animal to eat can be annoying. The problem with boar is the worms. You need to stay away from the stomach area, focusing on the back and shoulder regions.

Tearing away the skin, the pungent order of the innards hit me. I made quick work, getting the parts we could cook and that would taste well. Once the meat was procured, knowing the dead carcass could attract unwanted attention, I grabbed some branches and a rock. Working quickly, I was able to get a spark from my blade and the rock to fall on the wood. The boar’s organs were rather flammable and it didn’t take long for the creature to catch fire.

With my work done, I hoisted our dinner up and began to walk over towards Abigail. It looks like she found a good spot for us. Coming from the other way was Radu, looking a bit more refreshed. He saw me coming as well, and quickly wiped away the blood that was still on his face. Privately I was concerned what he had just done. Of course, the same could be said of Abigail and I of the boar.

Radu didn’t say a word as he entered the sheltered encampment, instead lying down and rolling over just before the sun peeked over the horizon. While he slept, Abigail and I built a fire and began to cook our own food.

Looking back at the sleeping vampyre, “I wish I could say I wasn’t disturbed by his actions.”

“If we weren’t disturbed, Abigail, I doubt we’d be considered humans,” I explained to her.

“Our humanity, the one thing that keeps us from joining the daemons.”

It was an interesting choice of words. Years ago, when my grandfather was the Brinza who was fighting the daemons off, people who lived around us believed us to be part of Satan’s forces. There was no way a mortal like Denis could battle those creatures, they would say. Some theorized his fighting prowess came from bathing in Satan’s own blood. It was only when Denis fought and killed the Witch of the Wild to save the village’s children was he finally recognized as a hero.

Even then, there were some he spoke ill of him.

When my father, Ivan, took over, popular opinion begun to shift in our favor. My father was a charismatic man whose words were as quick as his sword. He won over Stefania’s loyalty with excellent tales and a generous tab of the local bars. When he left on his ill-fated journey, he was at the height of his ability and popularity. His loss was a difficult one, for everyone.

I was more like Ivan than I was Denis in the people’s view. I knew the importance of plying people with ale and stories of my achievements. However, deep down, I’d rather be hunting creatures than telling tales in a bar. My mother, before she died, told me I was as powerful as my grandfather was. Those who were in the know knew Denis was the pinnacle of daemon slayers. My father was no slouch, but Denis’s skills were incomparable.

“You sad your father was in the Vatican’s army, no?” I asked.

Abigail was in the middle of chewing a mouthful of boar. Like the crude woman she was, she answered with no regard of manners. “Yes,” she mumbled. She swallowed her bite, making it easier to understand what she said next. “The Vatican came to Moldavia to recruit God fearing soldiers to combat the growing darkness. My father believed in the mission, as did I.”

“That’s why traveling with Gabriel makes you a bit uncomfortable.”

“He wouldn’t be my first choice of companions, yet I know what’s at the end of this road. If he truly is on our side, we will need his skill as much as he’ll need ours,” she reasoned.

The boar was a tad tough, more like jerky. Ripping off a piece and eating it gave me a moment to collect my thoughts. “I fought him, back when he came to Stefania to recruit me.”

“You fought Gabriel?”

“Sword against sword. He was toying with me, of course, yet through it all, he could’ve killed me with ease.” I spoke truthfully to her. “I’m not saying he cares for us, but as you just admitted, he needs our skill. I believe we’d be fools not to trust him completely.”

With food on our stomachs, I could see that Abigail’s eyes were starting to get heavy. “Do you think we’ll catch The Jackal tonight?”

As she asked the question, a foul wind rushed through camp. It chilled me to the bone. “We’re close. I think The Jackal knows that and is leading us towards an area that’ll be more suited for him to fight us.”

“I too have ill feelings about tonight.” She kicked some snow over the fire, putting it out. “We should rest, Max.”

Abigail’s instincts were correct. “It will be okay,” I told her.

“You say that now, but when The Jackal makes his final stand, how can we be so sure?”

I pulled the Bible that Julius gave me the night I left out of my jacket. “God is on our side. He brought the three of us together as his champions.”

She put her hand on the old book. “The word of the Lord, it shall guide us.”

I placed mine on top of hers. “If we believe the Father is watching us, his protection will see us through.”

“That reminds me of a passage, 2nd Thessalonians 3:3 – But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil on,” she quoted.

I was highly impressed with her Biblical knowledge. With those reassurances, the two of us joined a sleeping Radu inside the shelter and did our best to rest as the sun hung in the sky like an ever present guardian.

***

They we have it. Tune in next time for more blood, Bible verses, and crazy vampire action!

-Jeremy

You can find all my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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Creating a Horror/Fantasy Novel: Chapter 4 and Marketing!

It’s been a few weeks everyone and for that, I apologize. In that time, my son turned 1, we all experienced a bit of the summer plague, and I was also finishing up my actual next book release – The Daemon Within. However, with all of that going on, I still took some time to read my old manuscript and keep going with it.

Before we get to the chapter, today’s behind the scenes look is going to be with book marketing. Ahh yes, the dreaded marketing campaign. Most authors hate this part of the process but, my word, it is the most important part (next to writing the actual book, of course). For me, marketing is something of a science of which I actually have a degree in.

The first thing authors need to do is create the buzz well before you type the words “The End,” and send it off to your editor. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube are all there for you to promote yourself, so do it. I recommend starting at least a month or two out from your even possible release date.

**Important** When the advertising starts, I 100% support having an anchor point. This means have your book either set up for pre-order to send the good folks to, or using a blog (like this one) to support information to keep everyone informed. Without that, the readers will slowly lose interest and move on to the next thing.

Speaking of moving on, it’s time for me to get on to marketing and for you to enjoy the next chapter…

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Chapter Four

“Radu!” a voice bellowed. “I know you are in there, worm!”

From the hay loft, I could look down and see The Jackal and the horde of wolves he brought with him. The Jackal was an impressive figure – tall, muscular, and covered in jet black fur. Blood was dripping from his jaws. How many men did he kill on his way to our hideaway?

Radu walked out of the barn. “It’s Gabriel, mutt.” He was pointing the Dragon’s Fang at the beast’s chest. “Last time we met, I made the mistake of not killing you properly. I shall not do that again.”

The Jackal slapped the sword away. “You don’t remember it the way I do, Radu. I remember you barely escaping my minions with your life.”

Great, it was a dick measuring contest. I didn’t care much though, my role was to light and throw the torch in my hands when Radu gave the signal. He found an accelerant in the farm’s main house that he promised would set the wolves into a blaze. He also warned me that burning werewolf fur smelled like a shitter that caught fire. I can’t say I was looking forward to that.

The wolves behind The Jackal began to encroach on Radu’s space. The stoic vampyre didn’t even move. No, all he did was give a slight smile and pull out the glass bottle. Removing the stopper with inhuman speed, I lit the torch as he instructed me to do. The moment the glass shined in the pale moonlight, I tossed the torch towards it. Both the accelerant and the fire landed on the same time, just in front of all the wolves. Splashes of the flammable liquid hit them and soon most of the pack was howling in pain.

He was right, the air soon smelled of burning feces. Radu was gleeful is his slaughter of the scrambling wolves. I jumped out of the loft’s window and soon joined in the fun. One wolf ran right towards me, not knowing I was there. He was rewarded with cold steel between his eyes, splitting his skull open. Removing the sword as quickly as it entered, I found my next target and cut off its front paw. It yelped and tumbled to the ground, the fire finishing him off.

A giant paw grabbed me from behind. The Jackal, who had successfully avoided the fires, had me in his grip. “So, the little whelp has a helper? Not for long.” He reached back with his free paw, those needle like claws ready to gut me and spill my intestines all over the ground.

I tried to punch him in the nose, which stuck out further than any other part of his body. He caught my fist and sent it back into my face. My next desperation attack was to try and kick him in the groin. Even as I connected, The Jackal just laughed at my pathetic attempt.

There was murder in his voice. “It is time to end this, you worm,” he snarled.

The Jackal dropped me. He hadn’t made a noise, but I saw an arrow head sticking out of his other paw, the nasty barbed steel having ruined it. I looked up and on the barn’s roof was a hooded figure wearing the mark of the Vatican on her tunic. She cocked another arrow in the crossbow and fired at The Jackal. The werewolf didn’t want around to be struck again; he took off into the forest to leave his comrades to suffer their fate.

Saluting to the blind archer, I rejoined Radu in finishing off the rest of the wolves. The moment that shocked me the most was when he picked up one by the spine, ripping it out. With the lifeless husk, his fangs sunk into its neck and he drained it of as much blood as possible. When he threw the corpse to the side, he looked crazy. Blood stained his face and the red liquid was dripping off his fangs. Whatever hope the werewolves had was lost when they looked at him.

I finished the last wolf off with Crescent Moon splitting one open from its shoulder to its tail. This pack was dead, but The Jackal was still at large. Radu cleaned both himself and his blade off before coming over to check into the archer.

She gracefully jumped off the roof on to the second floor before one more jump brought her to the ground. “Can’t say I was expecting that when I followed the wolves out here,” she said.

“Ahh, the blind seer,” Radu greeted her.

“Please, call me Abigail. To call me the blind seer is an insult, vampyre.”

Radu seemed genuinely impressed with her. “Your eyes are lame, but you still possess sight.” He then addressed her Vatican symbol. “Your company was spearheaded by Bishop Brandon, if I’m not mistaken.”

She drew in a sharp, short, gasp. “How does one like you know of the Bishop?”

“Short, fat, Englishmen who takes the pleasure with men?” She nodded in surprise. “Yes, I know of him. He’s a blowhard and a hypocrite. That’s the problem with the church, too many hypocrites in important positions.”

Both Abigail and I roared to the defense of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church. I was surprised Abigail came to their defense, as well, based on the fact she’d been left here and turned bitter. This just proved that the belief and love of our Lord was too strong for even the most hardened of hearts to turn away. Eventually Radu apologized.

His apology was total horseshit, but he at least played us lip service. “I didn’t mean to offend. Sometimes, when you’re as old as I am, you forget tact.” He sighed in annoyance. “Strike that. Honestly, I just don’t care, but you humans need affirmation when someone is supposedly wrong.”

The second part was more in character. “Were you not human once?” Abigail asked him.

“Over three hundred years I’ve lived with this curse. My lifespan as a man was just a flicker compared to my eternal sentence as a monster,” he lamented.

Abigail grabbed her crossbow and quickly fired off another arrow. At first, I thought she was going to kill Radu, though I doubted an arrow would do the trick. Instead, the bolt fly by both of us and struck something in the tree. It fell out, colliding hard with the ground. It looked like some daemonic bird with three eyes.

Radu ran over to it and stomped on its head until the center eye burst like festering blister. “Damnit, Vlad knows where we are.”

“What in God’s name was that thing?”

“That, young Maximus, was one of Vlad’s parlor tricks. He can take over the minds of creatures and use them as far eyes. That center eye was the one he could see through.”

Abigail, for good measure, put another arrow in it. “Its evil aura spiked, giving it away to me.”

“This village is no longer safe for us to stay.” Radu gestured into the woods. “We leave now, before he sends more minions.”

It was just like when I had to leave Stefania. This village would be better off without us here. Well, two of the three of us agreed with that sentiment. Abigail dug her heels in. “I’m not leaving this town to the fate of Vlad The Impaler. He could send that monstrous werewolf again.”

“The Jackal? He won’t be alive long enough to exact any revenge upon these people,” Radu promised. “If you come with us, we will see that abomination dead.” Then he added, “Even if you don’t The Jackal won’t live to see another season.”

“What do you have to gain by staying here?” I asked Abigail.

She turned back, as if looking towards the tavern where we first met. “This was where I was discarded like a piece of trash. I’m not sure I’m ready to venture back into the world.” She ran her hand over her eyes. “I’ll only be a liability.”

Radu smacked her hand down. “You saw that raven before either of us and we each have two worked sight organs. If you are fine with selling yourself short and being a mope, then I have no need for you.” He stormed off towards the forest. “Come on, Brinza. We have a Jackal to kill.”

I heard the snap of the crossbow and this time it was pointed at Radu. “Never touch me again like that.”

When he turned around, his red eyes were alight with joy. “It’s about damn time you found your spine, girl. Fall in line with Brinza and let us be off.”

Abigail looked at me. “Is this how he always is?”

“He’s actually in a good mood. Killing daemons does that for him.”

Radu wasn’t wasting time. He’d already walked into the dark forest, leaving the two of us behind. Not wanting to get left without our vampyre, Abigail and I hustled to catch up. When we did, I could’ve sworn I heard something like a laugh. Maybe he was finally getting used to having human companions.

“Just a warning to the two of you, I’m soon going to need human blood.” That wasn’t a good sign. “Don’t get in my way when I need to drink.”

I pretended that I didn’t hear that warning. The thought of him feeding on a human was quite disturbing. Instead, I went with logistics. “Where are we headed next?”

“The Jackal will need to regroup and create more wolves.” Radu stopped for a moment. “Yes, he’ll most likely be headed off to Budapest. If we keep a fast pace, we will be able to head him off before he makes it to the city.”

“He’s injured and alone. We have no reason not to catch him,” Abigail agreed.

With a sense of urgency, we stopped talking and kept pace with Radu. The hunt for The Jackal was on.

****

As always, I enjoy hearing your feedback, so let me have it! I’ll holler at you guys later.

Jeremy

You can find all my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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Creating a Horror/Fantasy Novel: Chapter 3 and a Reader Question!

Good afternoon everyone! It’s that time for another edition of creating a horror/fantasy novel. Before we get to the meat of the material, I got a question from a friend/reader over the weekend.

Jeremy – how do you come up with the settings for stories?

This is a great question. The setting of the story is one of the most crucial elements to the preplanning phase. Picking the appropriate era and place for your book pretty much lines up the rest of the novel. Obviously for this story, I’ve picked Europe and the late 1700’s.

Here’s the problem with a lot of settings out there; the authors don’t really know much about a place they’re trying to describe. If you’ve never been to Paris and suck at doing research, a romantic novel underneath the Eifel Tower is not a great story for you to write. You either need an intimate knowledge of the place, have studied a time/era to the point where you can make it completely believable for the reader, or need to invest research time before you start your novel.

That, or make up your own damn world and become a GOD!

For me, I pick settings I know a lot about. My 11th grade world history teacher pushed us to learn about multiple times, countries, etc. Thanks to his nonstop projects and tests, I have so much useless knowledge that writing books is the only way to use it. And that’s where I get my settings from.

dracul cross

Chapter Three

**Hungaria; 1775 the year of the Lord**

Winter had given way to springtime as we left the very northern tip of Wallachia and entered the Kingdom of Hungaria. What hadn’t given way was the evil that gripped Europe. No sooner did we cross the border than we ran across a pack of werewolves. Not just any werewolves mind you, ones left behind by Vlad himself, led by a vicious creature named The Jackal.

The five werewolves left as a welcoming party for Radu (a name we will use between ourselves) and I attacked with a viciousness I’d never seen from daemons. Even the gargoyles, eaters of man’s flesh, were more civilized than these heathens. With my sword held high, I gutted the beast that had leapt at me from on top of the tree I was standing beside. His viscera oozed out of the wound.

One more quick movement from my longsword cleanly removed the beast’s head. To my right, Radu was in full vampyre mode. Even as the sun began to rise, its power had little control over the Dracul I traveled with. His fangs ripped the throat clean away of one of the werewolves that chose to attack him. As the creature fell to the ground, he stabbed him in the heart with his impressive longsword. I was thankful to God that Radu was on my side. Seeing him in full action let me know just how little he tried when he fought me.

There were three wolves left. Not wanting to wait for another to attack me, I released the axe I carried on my back. Its blade had also been forged in the same steel/salt forge that my sword had been. I aimed my throw perfectly and the axe rotated in the air before finding its mark, burying itself into the wolf’s forehead. He dropped to the ground, blood gushing over what snow was still left on the ground.

The last two wolves were Radu’s to slay. He jump kicked the first one to create space. With a full arm’s length to work with, he thrust his sword forward into the first wolf. When he whipped his arm backwards, the tip of the blade pierced the second’s eye. As both wolves dropped to the ground, he made quick work of them. Soon, two decapitated wolves twitched their final movements. Radu cleaned their blood off his blade in the snow before sheathing it.

“It appears the further east we venture, the more our enemies will come out of the shadows,” he told me.

“Let them come,” I said. “I’d rather deal with enemies in front of me then those who choose to hide.”

Radu stepped over the dead bodies of the wolves and sniffed the air. “A village is close. I can hold off the effects of the sun for a bit but we need to take refuge soon.”

In our travels, I’d come accustomed to sleeping during the day and traveling at night. Radu, as he said, could hold off the effects of the sun, something most normal vampires couldn’t do. However, it took much out of him and was unneeded if we could avoid it. That was one of the few things I learned about him. He once slipped and said he was married before his turn, but didn’t elaborate. I knew not to press, but my curiosity was certainly piqued.

As he said, there was a village just around the bend. To keep a low profile, we found an abandoned farm on the outskirts and set up our camp in one of the barns that was still standing. With the sun as our guardian, we rested as best we could.

I woke up a bit earlier than I hoped. I soon realized it was due to the scent of cooking meat finding its way into our hiding spot. Radu was fast asleep up in the loft, so I figured it was fine for me to venture out and get a real meal for once. He may’ve been fine supporting himself on animal blood, but I was tired of hunting and eating game meat. I wanted something cooked well and expertly seasoned. And a mug of ale would be nice, too.

It was midafternoon and the taverns were just opening. No one made eye contact with me, as a stranger to a small outpost in a very dangerous area. These people feared for the nights, that much was clear. Everyone was armed in some way, be it a dagger, sword, or bow. That didn’t change as I entered the first tavern I came across.

Behind the bar was a beautiful blonde woman. Sitting on the bar was a rare weapon, a crossbow. As I entered, the woman didn’t look up. She looked like she may have once been in the army of the Vatican, as the crest of her overcoat was easily identified. If a woman was in that army, she must’ve been tough.

I casually walked up and sat down. “Is it too early for a mug of ale?”

“Depends on what coin you got in your pockets.” She looked up, her blue eyes were touched with defection. The bartender was blind! “Gold coins and it’s never too early. Silver coins, come back at sunset.”

Quickly, I tossed two gold coins on the wooden counter top. It was just the two of us and it couldn’t be a coincidence that I ran across a blind woman. Not after the prophecy Julius informed me of. The bartender scooped up the coins and bit them. Satisfied they were true gold, she filled a mug up and slid it over to me.

The ale in some of these low key settlements was truly divine. “I haven’t had ale this good since I left my own home.”

“And where might home be?” she asked.

“Stefania; I’ve traveled from Moldavia and am headed towards the Vatican on a spiritual pilgrimage.”

She snorted in her own cup of ale. “Bullshit. You may be a man of God but you’re a warrior, not a religious scholar.”

“How can you tell such things?” There was no hiding the disbelief in my voice.

She reached out with her hand and ran it over mine. “Just as I thought. I might be blind, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see.”

The blind seer… yes, this was the Lord at work! He brought me to the third companion. “As a bartender,” I started cautiously, “I’m sure you hear all sorts of tales, don’t you?”

She sipped her ale. “Before those flea bitten creatures showed up, I heard a lot of stories.” She slammed the mug on the counter. “These days, we get the scared farmer that comes in who claims the pack ate five of his sheep. The only sheep around here are the ones unwilling to fight back.”

“And you’re willing to fight?”

“Before this happened to me,” she gestured to her eyes, “I was a member of the deadliest archer company the Vatican ever produced. With this condition, I can barely defend this hell hole that I was left in.”

There was quite the story to be told. “Your company left you in this little outpost? They didn’t even take you home?”

“My commander, a stern man, said he couldn’t care for the weak. In exchange for blessings and continued prayers, I was left with the people here. Instinct and skill haven’t left me, but without my sight, what good is an archer?”

“Your handicap isn’t a handicap. It is a gift from God,” I declared. Before she could voice her opinions about my proclamation, I continued on. “My name is Maximus Brinza, guardian of Stefania and slayer of unholy creatures. A great prophecy was written in regards to me… and you.”

She picked up my mug and sniffed it. “Nope, just standard ale. You just must be a special kind of insane.”

“No, I’m far from insane. I’m traveling with a man named Gabriel and we’re headed towards the Vatican to end the threat of Vlad Dracul.” I’m not sure where this confidence was coming from, but it was there. “The great prophecy speaks of a false angel, the heritage of hunters, and a blind seer being the ones to bring back the light.”

“Leave,” she said. She picked up the crossbow. “Leave now before I put a bolt through you and let you bleed out on my clean floor.”

I got up and backed out slowly. “Is it crazy to think that we were chosen by God to put an end to this creature?”

“Don’t talk to me about God! I gave my life, devoted everything to Him and the teachings of the Bible! If God wanted me to be a part of something, He wouldn’t have taken away my eyes.” Tears were coming from the useless organs. “You’ve had your ale – leave.”

There was no forcing someone to accept their destiny. “Very well, miss, I’m leaving.”

I backed out of the bar and into the lonely street. With nothing left to do, I made my way back to the barn. Seeing where the sun was, it was only a matter of time before Radu woke up. The few people who lingered on the street watched me walk off back out towards the outside of the village.

Upon arrival, Radu was awake and sitting in a shady spot. “Where were you?” he asked quietly.

“I went for some ale and meat. All I got was ale.”

He opened those red eyes of his. “Ale wasn’t the only thing you discovered, Brinza. I take it she reacted poorly when you told her of our task.” Then he adopted a sarcastic tone. “You uneducated fools, always using the Bible as a means to an end. Lord above, would it kill any of you to read another book?”

How in the name of God did he know the extent of my conversation? “Eavesdropping on me now?”

“I don’t need to; your aura gives off everything one needs to see.” He stood up and stretched out. “Put it out of your mind for the moment. When night falls, we stay here. Something tells me The Jackal is going to send some more wolves for us to cut up.”

If that was the case, I needed to sharpen the edge of my blade. I removed my sword and began to smooth out the rough spots from the tip to the pommel. Radu walked over to inspect my work. “What is the name of this blade?”

“My sword doesn’t have a name,” I replied. No one named an unknown sword, that was common knowledge.

He removed his own. “This is the Dragon’s Fang as Dracul means dragon.” He stabbed it into the ground not even a foot length from me. “Your father hadn’t named his either, until he met me. He settled on the name Star Light when he looked towards the Heavens for an answer.”

“Are you telling me I need to come up with something?”

“What if this is the weapon that kills Vlad? The world won’t know what weapon to honor.”

If my dad named his weapon at Radu’s suggestion, then I too would name mine. Just as he did all those years ago, I looked towards the Heavens in the hopes of finding a name. The sun was giving way to a crescent shaped moon in the night’s sky.

“Crescent Moon,” I told Radu. “The name of the blade to kill Vlad The Impaler is Crescent Moon.”

-Jeremy

You can find all my work at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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Review – The Europa Effect

The Europa Effect by A.L. Mengel

europa

In the sequel to The Wandering Star, The Europa Effect picks right back up where we left off. As always, I’m going to keep spoilers and plot details to a minimum to ensure no one’s reading experience is ruined, but I’ll give you the best review possible.

One of the things A.L. Mengel is known for is his brilliant usage of the environment as a major player in his books. That doesn’t change in Europa. Brief backstory from The Wandering Star, the Earth stopped rotating and the sun is about to die. The inhabitants of Earth need to get the hell out of dodge and that’s where we are.

This is 100% a cosmic mission of discovery. This might be a weird comparison, but The Vega Chronicles (the title of the series Europa belongs to) reminds me of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Exploration, mystery, the unknown, these are all integral parts of the story and blend together a fascinating plot.

To sum this up, A.L. Mengel has invested a lot of himself into this science fiction story. If you enjoy stories that take you on an adventure with the destination unknown, you’ll love The Vega Chronicles. Here is the link to the series for your reading enjoyment: A.L. Mengel’s Amazon page.

-Jeremy

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Creating a Fantasy/Horror Novel: Chapter 2 & Formatting!

Welcome back my current blog series, writing a fantasy/horror novel. For those of you who might be stumbling into this either for the first time, or by accident, I’m writing a story and keeping you up to date with just about everything! I’d also like to thank everyone who commented on Facebook, sent me an email, or just liked the first post. We had a very good opening post.

Some behind the scenes stuff first. Formatting both an e-book and paperback is incredibly important. Not only do bookstores wants books that are formatted within certain guidelines, but they want to see a bit of uniqueness blended in, too. What can separate an author from the pack is finding a formatting solution that matches the tenor of the book. We’re crafting a fantasy/horror novel, so the formatting needs to match that.

How I’m trying to do that is use a gothic font (one that doesn’t show up on WordPress unfortunately) with the first letter of each chapter given special prominence. When you flip the page to a new chapter, I want it to smack you in the face. The font I’ve used for the opening letter is Old English Text, at 18 point, and for the body is Garamond, at 11.5 point.

My coup de grace is the cross above the chapter heading. Religion is steeped into this book, as the setting is 1775 Europe and at that time, the Vatican was a major player in events. I felt it truly captured that gothic feel that I wanted; what do you guys think?

Even with all of that, there was one thing I’d love to do but just can’t. I wanted to go with black pages and a red font. Apparently, going that far outside the box is frowned upon.. 😦

That’s it for the technical stuff. If you’re just here for the story, well here it is.

dracul cross

Chapter Two

The moment I entered the village, I was surrounded by those I was sworn to protect.

“Is the creature dead?”

“Where’s his head, Maximus?”

“Long live the Brinzas!”

I gave short, discreet answers. I needed to find Julius immediately. I knew he would have left the tavern and gone to his church the moment I went after the vampyre. I pushed through the crowd and stormed my way to the church. My different demeanor put the rest of the folks following me on edge, but that was neither here nor there. The information the vampyre gave me was most disturbing.

At the church, I turned to address the villagers. “A scion sought me out in the hopes to end this great darkness we live under. Until I have more information, please just trust me.”

Rumblings broke out amongst the people, but no one stopped me from entering the church. Inside, at the altar, was Julius. He was kneeling, praying at the moment. I walked to the front and took a seat on the wood pew. I picked up the Bible and flipped to verse Job 27:6.

I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go. My heart does not reproach any of my days.

As I closed the Bible, I thanked the Lord for his blessings. When I opened my eyes, Julius had joined me on the pew. “There is great trouble in your eyes, old friend,” he observed.

“The vampyre I went out to slay, he’s very much alive.”

Julius bowed his head. “As I assumed. What happened?”

I retold the story. Julius followed along as I recounted the battle and the subsequent conversation thereafter. I finished with the knowledge the vampyre gifted me with. “He claimed to be Radu Dracul, brother to Vlad, The Impaler.”

“Radu, a name I thought I’d never hear again.” Julius got up and went up to the alter once more. From under the Bible, he opened a small hidden drawer. When he came back over, he showed me the black book. “Inside these pages is what the previous leader of this church gathered on the Dracul family. Radu is mentioned just once. I assumed it was because he died.”

The vampyre told me the truth. “Radu, or Gabriel as he goes by now, wishes to recruit me against Vlad, as he did my father.”

“He was with Ivan when he went after Vlad?”

“That he was, old friend,” I confirmed for me. “Radu also knew my grandfather. It seems he has taken a vested interest in my family.”

Julius flipped to the second to last page. “I oftentimes wondered what Elder Darius meant with this passage, but maybe it has more to do with you.”

He laid the book down in front of me. The handwriting was a bit hard to read, but I was able to make it out: From the lineage of hunters, with the help of a false angel and a blind seer, will the light shine.

“Are you saying Radu is a false angel?”

Julius pushed his glasses up his nose. “He took the name Gabriel, after one of the Lord’s most trusted Arch Angels. With your family’s lineage, I would say Darius was on to something.”

Maybe that was true, but what in Heaven’s name was a blind seer? “That second part, the blind seer, that seems to be a bit of a complexity.”

A harsh wind blew through the windows of the church, taking out the candle light that we had. It was a cold, evil wind. Something foul was afoot. I unsheathed my blade, ready for anything at a moment’s notice. That’s when the panicked screams started outside. It was going to be a very long night.

I hustled outside the church with Julius right behind me. The villagers were scattering as a gargoyle had a hold of one of the farmers, tearing him apart. It was much too late for the older man. However, the creature made a mistake coming here. He would never hurt another soul, as long as I drew breath. When he saw me walk towards him with my sword drawn, he dropped the pieces of the farmer.

He dropped to all fours, like a dog. Its cold grey eyes showed much intelligence. It was no surprise when it spoke. “You are not the one I want.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, monster.”

The gargoyle rose up and tried to crush me with its front legs. The claws missed as I rolled away and dug into the ground. The trenches left behind showed just how dangerous this creature was. Giving up on that strategy, it used its wings to heft itself into the air, hovering about three heads above me. It swopped towards me, only to be met with my sword.

The damn thing was made of stone!

My sword bounced out of my hands and flew back towards the church. Thinking I was weaponless, the gargoyle flew at me one more time, murder its only intent. Unfortunately for it, I was always prepared. I pulled a large hunting dagger out of my boot and aimed it for the soft underbelly of the creature. The blade spun in the air and hit true. The gargoyle’s guts spilled out from the wound and it crashed into an unfortunately homestead not too far from the church.

Julius had my sword in hand as I walked over to get it. “It seems Vlad has found his brother.”

“You want me to join Radu, don’t you?”

“What I want is not what matters, Max.” It was clear that my God fearing friend was going to tell me what he thought anyway. “I would be remiss not to tell you that these attacks have gotten worse lately. Vlad knows you’re here and will stop at nothing to kill you.”

These creatures were my fault. Before, the rogue daemon that wandered in was to be expected. The situation was beginning to escalate. “I couldn’t bear the deaths of anyone I cared about because of my hubris. Staying in Stefania when I could do more good in the world? That seems selfish, doesn’t it?”

“Those are your words, not mine,” he smiled.

“It seems like the debate is settled. I go with Radu in the hopes to end this. I just pray that this is the path the Lord wishes me to take.”

He handed me the Bible I’d been reading while he was praying. “The Lord will watch over you, always.”

I took the old tome from him and placed it inside my coat. “Very well, I’ll seek the vampyre and join him on his quest. Not just for us, but for the chance to avenge my father.”

“I finally see the anger you tried so hard to keep buried.” Julius placed his hand over my heart. “Anger is not a sin, Max. You must learn to embrace it, accept it.”

Maybe that was true. I’d think about that as I ventured forward. With a plan made, I sought out the high chairman of the village. Julius offered to tag along, but I told him he’d be needed at the church. As soon as I left, villagers flooded inside to hear the word of the Lord and get reassurances. In this time of great need, the verses in the Bible would be their greatest source of comfort.

High Councilman Roman was out front of his home on the southern side of Stefania. Roman was an older man, one whose life was pretty close to the end. He raised a gnarled hand in the hand as a way as signaling me to come forth. When I got there, he finished his mug of ale, discarding the mug behind a bush.

“Me wife don’t like it when I drink,” Roman hiccupped.

I could see why. The man reeked of ale. He always reeked of ale. “I have to leave Stefania, Roman.”

He pushed himself off the stone wall of his dwelling. “Going after the daemon himself?”

“Yes.” There was no point not to be God’s honest. “I have found an ally that will help me avenge my father.”

Roman nodded a few times. “Your dad, he’d be a good man, that he was.”

The old man had been around Stefania for so long he actually knew my grandfather, too. Roman was well trusted by the villagers and when time caught up to him, it’d be hard to see who would replace him. I knew it wouldn’t be me and Julius was too dedicated to the church to ever leave. I pushed that thought from my mind, I had to worry about what was in front of me.

“If all goes well, you’ll be alive to see the end of his reign, Roman.”

He clasped my shoulder. “Good luck to ya, laddie.”

With that last declaration, Roman fell back against his house, passing out from the amount of ale he’d consumed. I patted him on the head and left to go to my home. If I was to follow Radu on this journey, it was time to gather up my most precious belongings. It didn’t take long; I gathered my knives, a small axe, and bottle of holy water. These were the tools of a vampyre hunter.

By the time I reached the place I first met Radu, snow began to fall yet again. The moon was still bright in the sky, illuminating the white flakes as they floated to the ground. He hadn’t moved, snow lying on his black coat.

When he saw me, he shook the snow off. “It’s about time,” he griped.

“Sorry, I had to take care of a gargoyle that wandered into the village. It was looking for you.”

“So Vlad’s minions have tracked me.” He twirled his coat around himself, supernaturally fast. When he was no longer blurry, “I can send phantoms of myself to act as decoys,” Radu explained.

“Speaking of that, how do we ensure the safety of Stefania while I’m with you?” I asked.

He laughed, a cold and miserable laugh to match the weather. “Just like your father, I see.”

“I’m proud to be a good man like my father.”

“Your family makes everything so hard,” he sighed. Taking a small dagger out of his jacket, he sliced his hand open. “My blood will mark this area to minor daemons and they will leave. As for Vlad’s forces, the best thing we can do is leave and defeat him.”

Julius had said that it was me the vampyre thought of as a threat. Maybe if I did leave, the worst of the monsters would follow me and leave Stefania alone. “Very well, your words have merit.”

This time Radu’s red eyes showed a bit of leniency. That was certainly something. “Where do we go from here?” I asked.

“My brother takes over castles in places he’s conquered. Most of northern and western Europe is under his control.” Radu pulled out an ancient looking map. Many of the names didn’t mean anything to me, just the one in the circle. “Vlad’s gained enough power where he might finally go after the Vatican.”

That was insanity! “No daemon could breach the walls of the Vatican.”

“I know my brother better than anyone.” Radu kicked snow over the fire, putting it out. “We head south, to Italia. There, we will seek out those who can get us into the Vatican and we will meet Vlad head on.”

If it wasn’t for the words Julius read me about the lineage of the hunters joining a false angel, I’d return to Stefania and keep the village safe. “I’m trusting you, Radu.”

“As you should.” He began to walk off, leaving me to follow him. “And never call me Radu, my name is Gabriel, understand?” he said quietly. There was something dangerous to his voice.

“I understand,” I replied.

“Good. If you ever use that name again, I will kill you and find another.”

-Jeremy

You can find all of my work at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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