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.
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.”
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