Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Page Straight From... #apagestraightfrom

The Night Man Cometh by Tony-Paul de Vissage

Meet Damian la Croix…
Immortality with a vengeance.
A new novel by Tony-Paul de Vissage, in the tradition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.
A return to the traditional vampire, who neither apologizes nor regrets what he is….Immortal…Undead…and Loving every century of it.
…for when The Night Man Cometh, Death is never far behind.

“Nothing Like It Anywhere, 5 Star Epic” --Douglas C. Meeks, Book Reviews@Large

Vlad Tepes, Voivode of Tara Romaneasca, and Prince of Wallachia and Transylvania,
was allowing himself a rare moment of relaxation in his private study. He was examining a gilded and bejeweled cross, a gift from the local priest for his contributions to the church,
rumored to be the voivode’s attempts to buy his way into heaven. It was a lovely thing, hand-crafted and precious, and he was trying to determine where it should be kept.

There was a sound at the window but he paid it no mind. Doubtless some bird striking the outward-opening shutters.

When the sound came again, he gave the window a negligent glance, and stiffened as he saw someone standing there, an extremely pale young man looking about the same age as himself. His unexpected visitor closed the window. He was dressed in a split-skirted riding coat and thighboots, the heavy ringlets resting upon his shoulders as dark and lustrous as the Prince’s own.

“How did you get in here?” Vlad demanded, placing the cross upon the desk. “Did you fly?”

“As a matter of fact, I did.” At the look of disbelief on the voivode’s, he went on. “You shouldn’t leave your windows unshuttered, Sire.”

Vlad chose to ignore his statement, knowing full well  no human had wings. If the stranger had somehow managed to scale the castle walls, he might be someone to reckon with. In a disdainful tone, he asked, “What do you want? That you brave my guards, and my own wrath, no
matter how you got here?”

“To offer you the services of myself and my men.”

“A mercenary, eh? If you wish to join my army, see my recruiting sergeant.”

“Ah, but he’s probably sound asleep at this time of night. As are all your soldiers, except for your stalwart sentry...and yourself. Besides—” The broad shoulders shrugged negligently. “—recruitment’s for peasants. I prefer to speak to you directly, my Lord. As noble to noble.”

“A noble, you say? And who are you?” It was a challenge, intimating the young man's nobility was of such a low degree he wasn’t worth a glance from the Prince, that no one was of the same status as the voivode, and so could not speak to him as a peer.

“Marquis Damian LaCroix, Le Chevalier du Morte.”

“The one they call L’homme de nuit?” Vlad managed to hide his surprise. His Transylvanian accent mangled the French pronunciation.

“You’ve heard of me, then?” With a flourish, the stranger bowed. He appeared slightly gratified.

“I’ve heard of you. And your garde noir. But I thought you a fable.”

 “Hardly, my Lord.” The young man smiled slightly, revealing slender, needle-sharp fangs.

“Sweet Jesu!” The Prince reached for the crucifix, thrusting it toward his visitor who immediately put out a hand to shield his face, turning his head.

“Put away that holy relic, Sire.” The words were soft but anxious. “You’re in no danger.”

“Why should I believe the word of such a despicable creature?”

“Because I was once a noble such as you and, in some ways, still am.” As the Prince placed the cross behind him on the desk, the stranger straightened and continued, “I’ve come to offer you my services, and that is all.”

“So you did fly through my window.” The Prince stared at him, barely hearing his words. “I always thought those tales were just that...stories to frighten children into obedience. Nevertheless, I prefer proof of my own eyes. Let me see your wings!”

“If I must.” With a slight sigh, the creature calling itself Le Chevalier turned his back.

The voivode saw that the riding coat was slashed from shoulder to waist on either side. As he watched, the broad shoulders flexed and twisted, there was a ripping sound and through the long, narrow slits, slender wings protruded. With the crackle of sails unfurling, they opened, to swirl about him like a wide and fluid cloak.

“Is your curiosity now fed, my Lord?” He whirled to face Vlad again, the wings disappearing in a whispered rustle. “Do we have an accord?”

“All mercenaries serving me are paid on their skill. What is your kind’s price?”

“My kind—” Briefly, the words had a venomous edge. “—wishes only one payment, Sire. That which all men have in abundance.” Briefly, the blue eyes seemed to hold a scarlet tinge. “We'll fight for you, my Lord. For your glory...and all the blood we can drink.”

The Prince forced himself to stifle the shudder that statement caused. Instead, he nodded and held out his hand. With startling swiftness, Le Chevalier seized and pressed it to his forehead as he dropped to one knee. A second shudder threatened to escape and was quelled with difficulty as the back of his hand touched that chill flesh.

Blessed Christ, he’s as cold as a corpse! And why not? This creature kneeling before him, who looked like a man. Wasn’t he, in reality, one of the nosferatu, the walking dead? And he had just received them into the ranks of his army. Dear God protect us all!

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