Sneek Peek – The Curse

I thought I’d give everyone a teaser, so here is the prologue and first chapter of The Curse.The Curse kindle cover

The Curse: Origin of the Vampires

Copyright © 2016 Kethric Wilcox

Prologue

Following the Great Upheaval in 2084, the great shifter and vampire hunter Richard St. Martin vanished in the ensuing chaos as civilization crashed back to pre-World War II levels of technology and Victorian ideals of morality. Following the conservative triumph of the Papacy and Evangelical movements, they overturned the significant civil rights victories of the past century. In the aftermath of the electromagnetic pulses that leveled the playing field between the industrial nations and the former third world, new nations arose from the wreckage. The Holy Accord of 2094 banned the redevelopment of all air and space technology to prevent a repeat of the mass missile launch that brought about the Great Upheaval. The new nation states imposed travel restrictions both international and internal. A few organizations were given unrestricted travel permits because they serve as law enforcement on a global scale. One of these agencies, the Order of St. Hubert from the new Holy Roman Empire, investigating leads on the discovery of Richard St. Martin’s secret library on shifters and vampires traveled to Amsterdam, New York in the United States of America and Canada in hopes of laying claim to this treasure. Sadly, unknown forces killed the team. The last known communications were received here at the Mother House of the Order of St. Hubert on January 25, 2111. Sadly, we have only one of the copies sent out to inform us of the secrets St. Martin kept hidden. The copy we received wasn’t intact, and we’re not sure what the actual proofs behind our agent’s claims are. I’ve attached a copy of the late Father Sebastian’s cover letter for the records. Recovery of these journals is of the highest priority to all members of the Order.

Alexander Le Roux,

Knight-Archivist

Order of St. Hubert

Liege, Belgium, Holy Roman Empire

 

 

December 10, 2110

To Whom It May Concern:

I am sorry that I cannot call you by name, but I’ve made and sent so many copies that do not know who will receive these pages. If you have received this package, then know that I am dead or worse, and any further communications after this one are suspect and not to be trusted. I beg you to take all precautions available to you to ensure that these documents reach either the Grand Master of the Order of St. Hubert or the Holy Father in Rome. You must warn Mother Church that an ancient enemy still exists. We of St. Hubert’s Order have always counted Richard St. Martin, better known as Lord Hunter, as an ally. I fear that our trust is misplaced. When Lord Hunter vanished in the middle of the terrible war over a decade ago, we felt the loss deeply. Now that things have settled down enough to allow travel once again between the Holy Roman Empire and the United States of America and Canada, the Order sent my team to recover what we could from Lord Hunter’s last known residence in Amsterdam, New York. What we found horrified us and challenged our faith in our Lord and Savior. This attached copies from one of the blasphemous tomes purport to be from the Journal of Cain, first-born son of Adam and Eve. His vague claims and twisted history challenge every tenant of our faith. His claims to be the first vampire strike terror in our hearts. Worse are the additional notes in the hand of Lord Hunter, which argue that numbered among his early kills was a vampire claiming to be Cain and that he received Cain’s curse as foretold in the Bible.

I beseech you to pass this package on quickly. Whatever the truth maybe vampires have started to come for us and I am the last of my team left as I write this. Warn Mother Church.

Father Sebastian Drummond,

Priest-Scout

Order of St. Hubert of Lieges

Part I

The Atlanta Theological and Archaeological and Conference of 2120

Chapter One

Dr. Jeremiah Banks stood in the line in front of the registration table for the conference. He’d been anticipating this conference for ages and had waded through the reams of paperwork required to get permission to travel from the University of Arizona in the Republic of Texas to Atlanta, Georgia in the Confederate States of America. These two new nations in North America weren’t the best of friends, but they weren’t bitter enemies either. Getting the permission and permits to travel hadn’t been as difficult as he’d expected it to be once he’d presented the invitation to submit a paper on his research on the earliest city-states of ancient Mesopotamia. He was also excited, as he’d learned that one of his idols was also attending the conference and presenting his latest research on biblical archaeology revolving around the legendary city of Enoch. Much of his research into the region used Professor Juan Di Vargas’ work as its base. Jeremiah sincerely hoped he could get a few moments of the man’s time to ask him some questions. Finally, the line moved forward bringing Jeremiah to the front of the table. He brushed back a long strand of copper hair as he handed his paperwork to the registrar.

“Dr. Jeremiah Banks, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Arizona in the Republic of Texas. I’m on the presenter list.”

“Dr. Banks, yes here you are.” The man said handing Jeremiah back his paperwork. “Here’s your conference badge, please make sure you have with you at all times. Now this bag contains all your conference materials including a schedule of events. If you should need assistance in finding your way to events, please ask any member of the conference staff. Green badges and sashes identify all the staff, so please don’t hesitate to stop us. Do you have any questions?”

“No, I think I have everything I need now,” Jeremiah said.

After a quick nod of acknowledgment, the man sent Jeremiah on his way. The young doctor of archaeology headed back up to his room to organize himself for the evening events and to stow the items he wouldn’t need to carry around with him. When he got to his room, he realized he hadn’t asked the man at registration if Professor Vargas had checked in yet. Oh well, they probably wouldn’t tell me, he thought. I’ll just have to hope I run into him during the conference.

****

In his room in a different part of the hotel, Professor Juan Di Vargas, Doctor of Ancient Theology at the University of Madrid in the province of Spain in the Holy Roman Empire, was just settling down with a glass of wine before heading down to the opening banquet. He relaxed in his chair, sipping the wine and reading over the schedule of events. Several names caught his attention, either because of a rivalry in the field of ancient religions or because of fascinating topics. Two names leaped out of the program at him. The first belonged to Dr. Gerard Chevalier, a professor of theology at the University of Paris and a rival in Old Testament studies. The other name that popped out at him belonged to Dr. Jeremiah Banks the young archaeologist who’d discovered the tablets, which finally broke the secrets of Linear A. At the time of his discovery, Dr. Banks had only recently received his Ph. D., and was on his first private expedition. His Alma Marta had quickly given him not only a teaching position but tenure as well. Other universities from around the world had offered him almost anything he wanted to come and teach at their schools. Even the University of Madrid had jumped in on the feeding frenzy to gain the reflected glory of Dr. Banks’ discovery. Juan decided that he would have to catch the man’s lecture on those tablets. Setting down his program and wine glass, Juan rose and crossed to the room’s mirror, where he adjusted his suit, straightened his tie, and checked his hair like he was thirty years younger and getting ready for a date. For an ancient academic, I’m in decent shape. Refusing to sit in dark libraries doing all my research in books helps. Nothing keeps you trim like being out in the field chasing down leads of ancient scrolls or tablets. I think I went into the wrong field. I should have been an archaeologist instead of a theology major. Oh well, I do get a thrill out of making Chevalier look like the pompous idiot he is. I hope that I’ll encounter Dr. Banks, and we can spend time comparing notes on the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia.

Professor Di Vargas made his way to the elevator and downstairs to attend the conference’s opening reception. In the hotel’s grand ballroom, several colleagues from various universities met him. They fell to chatting about a variety of topics when a bright head of long flowing copper hair caught Juan’s attention, and his eyes tracked the owner’s progress across the room. At first, he thought he was watching a woman, because of the length of the hair and the way the person glided as they moved. Juan let his vision scan down from the intriguing hair to the broad shoulders, defined chest, and tapered waist to the delicious looking ass and sturdy legs. All man that one Juan thought as he watched the redhead turn and caught sight of the neatly trimmed beard and pale skin. Quite a prize this one would be, especially if that hair goes further than his head. Juan took in the man’s attire and noted the uncomfortable way he wore the tailored suit. Someone made him dress up for the occasion. He doesn’t usually wear suits or at least not ones tailored to show him off. Wonder where his keeper is?

From behind, the redhead Juan watched as Professor Susan O’Grady glided in and slipped her arm through the young man’s arm as if claiming him as her property. Juan glowered before returning his attention to the conversation around him. He dismissed the redhead as a mere ornament brought to make Professor O’Grady look more important than her colleagues. Across the room, the redhead was caught off guard as a female arm slipped in and latched on to his arm. He turned to find one of his former instructors taking possession of his arm and slipping into his conversation with his old classmate, Dr. Eugene Lanister on the recent decision of the Republic of Texas to attempt the preservation of the Alamo from further decay. What the hell is the professor doing? I just know that Professor O’Grady leaning on me looks totally unprofessional. Jeremiah pondered as he tried to act as natural as possible. Dr. Lanister addressed a question to their professor.

“Professor O’Grady, Dr. Banks and I were just discussing various preservation methods under consideration for use at the Alamo site. Do you prefer an aggressive method or a more holistic approach?”

The woman on Jeremiah’s arm smiled at Eugene like a shark about to feed on a seal pup.

“Dr. Lanister, if you’d paid better attention in my classes as an undergraduate you wouldn’t have to ask such a silly question, you’d know my preference has always been a holistic preservation of archaeological sites and keeping visitation to a minimum. Dr. Banks was always the better student. Come, Dr. Banks, let me introduce you around to some of the prominent attendees at this conference.” Prof. O’Grady said.

Jeremiah extracted himself from Prof. O’Grady’s grip on his arm and turned to face the woman directly.

“Thank you but no thank you, professor. I can manage to introduce myself, although I’m sure most of the gathering thinks I’m some gigolo you hired to look more important. Neither Eugene nor I am your student’s anymore Professor but colleagues so please have a little respect for both of us in the future.” Jeremiah said before turning back to his classmate. “Eugene, I’ll catch up with you later in the conference, I think I’ve had enough socializing for the evening.”

Jeremiah made his way out of the ballroom, once again catching Juan’s attention briefly as he made his exit. It looks like the fluff piece got his feelings hurt. O’Grady won’t look as good without him on her arm. Well, he was likely in over his beautiful head. Juan thought dismissively. The rest of the evening was the usual boring whirl of academics trying to prove themselves to their colleagues and the few wives or husbands in attendance. As he made the rounds, Juan didn’t see or meet anyone who knew Dr. Banks, nor did he cross paths with the man himself. Perhaps he hasn’t arrived yet, or came late and went to his room for the evening. His lecture is after mine tomorrow afternoon so I’ll just have to see if I can catch him afterward.

Back in his room, Jeremiah fumed. I was hoping I could get a chance to be introduced to Professor Di Vargas, but O’Grady had to ruin the evening. I can’t believe she’d insult Eugene like that. No wonder he changed specialties after the first semester of undergraduate classes. If she didn’t hold an endowed chair, I’d file a complaint about her behavior here. Jeremiah picked up his program schedule to make his list of lectures he wanted to attend around the slots where he was either presenting or part of a panel discussion. Oh good, Professor Di Vargas gives his talk before mine tomorrow, and there’s at least an hour in between. I hope I can catch him for a couple of questions before I have to give my lecture. Jeremiah’s thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. He crossed the room and opened the door to find a tipsy Eugene Lanister in the hall outside.

“Lanister, good gods man you’re drunk.” Jeremiah grabbed the man before he could collapse in the hallway. “Get in here and sit down, while I put on coffee.”

“Didn’t come for the coffee, Banks, I came for kind of comfort only another guy can give.”

“What are you talking about, Lanister. Surely, you didn’t get shitfaced because of O’Grady and her stupid comments. You were a top-notch student, and she forgets you changed specialties because of her crappy teaching methods. Hell, I made sure I didn’t take any more of her classes after that first semester.”

“Yeah and got nice and cozy with Professor Adamson. The old man fawned over you and guided your career all the way to your doctoral thesis. Was he any good in bed? I guess it doesn’t matter you’re so fucking beautiful he’d have done whatever you wanted to have you.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Jeremiah growled. “I never had such an unhealthy relationship with Professor Adamson. Hell, the man was a slave driver, and I almost quit school twice because of him.”

“Oh come on, Jere, I know you’re one of those fucking liberal faggots that helped bring down the old United States. I bet you’re gagging to suck my cock. So why don’t you…”

A vicious right hook to the jaw, which sent him crashing to the floor bleeding from a broken nose and missing teeth, silenced Lanister. Jeremiah picked the man up and carried him to the door. He opened the door and then tossed Lanister out into the hall.

“Don’t ever call me Jere again Eugene. Only my friends call me that and you’re not one of them. If I were you, I’d check out in the morning and go home before you embarrass yourself further or end up getting arrested in a foreign nation for unnatural acts or whatever they call it here in the Confederacy.”

Before Eugene could pick himself up or speak, Jeremiah slammed his hotel room door shut in his face. Inside Jeremiah leaned against the door panting in anger and fear combined. How the hell did anyone ever figure out the Adamson had made advances on him. Only by turning the older man down repeatedly had Jeremiah finally earned the man’s respect and patronage. Professor Adamson had made sure Jeremiah had a safe place where he could explore his sexuality and discover his enjoyment of other men’s bodies. Jeremiah knew the older man likely had spied on him with his few liaisons but figured it was the least he could do to repay the man for everything. I wish Adamson could have lived to see me graduate and mount my first expedition. He would have been so proud of what I accomplished. Dr. Banks pushed himself away from the door and stripped down to take a shower and wash away the sweat of fear and anger. Jeremiah let the water wash over his athletic body while he tackled washing his long red hair. Once all the shampoo was out of his hair, Jeremiah toweled off and slipped naked between the sheets. He tossed and turned for a while trying to get used to the hotel bed, but eventually drifted off.

Juan had also returned to his room for the evening and had gone through his usual routine before slipping on a pair of silk boxers and then settling into bed with a copy of Jeremiah’s journal article on his Mesopotamian expedition. Juan had hoped there would be a photo of the archaeologist, but the only images in the article were a few shots of the tablets discovered by the expedition and a diagram of the Linear A characters. Juan’s rugged chest above the edge of the sheets sported a spray of black hair, which like his full head of thick black hair and beard showed traces of silver. He set the journal aside and turned out the lights, settling down to sleep.

****

Jeremiah surveyed his clothing choices for the conference and grimaced. He hated suits, but Dr. Sinclair, the dean of his department, and Mrs. Pike, the dean’s secretary and sort of a second mother to Jeremiah, had both insisted he must look the professional academic. You’re representing the University of Arizona and the Republic of Texas, Dr. Banks. We can’t have you looking like you’ve just gotten off the boat after an expedition. Jeremiah recalled Dr. Sinclair saying as he handed him all of his clearance to travel. Mrs. Pike had said pretty much the same thing when he’d been to her house that night for dinner before she rang her late husband’s tailor and made an appointment for Jeremiah to have some new suits made. Jeremiah wasn’t comfortable in suits, preferring sturdy field clothing, but Dr. Sinclair had been firm no wild field archaeologist attire. He’d finally given in to almost all of the dean’s requirements, only refusing when it came to cutting his long copper locks. Jeremiah ran a brush through his hair to tame it enough to twist into a quick tail and slid a little sapphire encrusted leather tube over it to hold it in check at the base of his neck. The hair binder had been a gift from the Emir, who’d overseen his dig on behalf of the Caliph’s government. The man had been fascinated with Jeremiah’s copper hair and its silky texture. With his hair under control, Jeremiah dressed to impress in a navy blue suit with a subtle white pinstripe. Sapphire cufflinks and tie tack finished the ensemble. The cufflinks were a second gift from the Emir after a night of admiring Jeremiah’s body in all its naked glory. The combination of Jeremiah’s pale skin and fiery fur across chest and torso and pubic region also covered in copper hair, plus the impressive cock and balls in their natural state fascinated the noble. The emir hadn’t touched him or asked for contact; he’d just wanted to see if the red hair was natural or if Jeremiah was darker haired down below. The tie tack he’d purchased recently to complete his ensemble. All three pieces of jewelry helped to highlight his bright sapphire eyes. Jeremiah checked himself in the mirror before picking up his notes and slides for his lecture and heading down to breakfast. During the evening, the staff worked their magic transforming the ballroom from reception hall into a dining room. A waiter led Jeremiah to his assigned table and seat, which was right next to Prof. O’Grady. The rest of the table filled with other scholars from universities in the Republic of Texas. He couldn’t fail to notice that Dr. Lanister’s seat was next to his own was vacant.

“Prof. O’Grady, I’d like to apologize for my rude comments last night at the reception.” Jeremiah began, “I was…”

“No, Dr. Banks if anyone was out of line last night it was me and I should be the one apologizing. You were right to correct my attitude towards Dr. Lanister. I was way out of line. I only wish I could apologize to him in person, but the hotel informed me that he’d checked out late last night claiming illness and was returning home.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. He stopped by my room last night, and I thought he’d had too much to drink so encouraged him to retire for the evening. I didn’t realize he’d caught something.” Jeremiah replied as a waiter came by and filled his coffee cup. “I was wondering professor if you know Professor Juan Di Vargas from the University of Madrid.”

“Only by reputation, Dr. Banks. I know he’s presenting today on how the story of the Great Flood developed in several early cultures.” O’Grady replied as she signaled the waiter to take her plate. “Aren’t you presenting today as well, Dr. Banks?”

“Yes, about an hour after Prof. Di Vargas. I’m hoping I can get a couple of moments of his time between our lectures. He’s mentioned the possibility of a lost city-state in Tigris-Euphrates delta in a couple of his recent papers and I think it may be part of the culture that produced the tablets I found, and I’d like to compare notes.”

“I wish you luck in that endeavor; Di Vargas doesn’t usually deal with those of us who are more physical in our researches. At least that’s what I’ve heard. If you want to speak with a scholar of the period more open to using archaeology, I can introduce you to Prof. Chevalier from the University of Paris.” O’Grady said.

She didn’t notice Jeremiah’s grimace of distaste, which he was quick to hide behind a sip of coffee. Chevalier’s research clashed with every line of the investigation he was currently pursuing while Di Vargas’s was headed in a similar direction if from an entirely different angle. Jeremiah wiped his hands on his napkin, picked up his notes and slides, and rose from the table.

“Thank you for the offer, Professor O’Grady, perhaps another time. If you’ll excuse me I need to make sure; the media team has time to get my presentation set up before my lecture. I’m confident that we’ll see each other at dinner.” Jeremiah said.

“I think they’re planning to mix things up for dinner tonight, but I’m sure we’ll cross paths during the conference. It was a pleasure to see you again, Jeremiah. You were one of my more promising students, and I’m glad to see how well you blossomed under Adamson’s direction.” O’Grady said offering Jeremiah, her hand. “I look forward to hearing your lecture this afternoon.”

Jeremiah shook her hand and then left to track down the media team to get his slides set up before going to attend the other lectures he wanted to hear this morning. For Prof. Di Vargas the morning seemed to drag as it ticked away to his presentation on the Great Flood and its impact on several ancient cultures. When the time finally came to present, he rose from his seat and crossed to the podium while surveying the audience. He spotted the young redhead in the crowd. He must be one of O’Grady’s grad students if he’s attending a lecture. Interesting he chose mine considering O’Grady is in Chevalier’s camp when it comes to the impact of the Great Flood on the cultures of the period, mainly that it was God’s way of resetting the world back to a pure state.

“For centuries faiths and cultures have argued over the myths of the Great Flood. Was it divine retribution for sin, a way for the gods to reduce the population to a more manageable level, or was it just an exaggerated cautionary tale about the seasonal flooding repeatedly occurring in the cradles of civilizations. The Judeo-Christian-Islamic idea of a divine reset is canceled out based on evidence in the Bible itself. Based on lineage records in the preceding chapters of the Book of Genesis, Noah’s family isn’t worthy of the salvation offered by God. While the account proclaims Noah a righteous man, his wife is a descendant of the first great sinner, Cain. The biblical claims contradict themselves in the story of the Great Flood for they say that the flood destroyed the descendants of Cain and their wicked ways, which they clearly did not considering Noah’s children inherit this heritage from their mother.” Juan paused and took a sip of water listening to the gasps from the audience. He let his gaze drift over to the red head and saw him making notes and nodding his head in agreement. “If the Great Flood was God’s method of population control it was a temporary fix at best considering how rapidly humanity has spread across the face of the earth. We need only look at the Greek version of the myth and how so many of the major Greek cities survived the destruction.”

Jeremiah was taking lots of notes as he listened to Professor Di Vargas lecture about how most of the accepted versions of the ancient flood story didn’t play out. It wasn’t until the professor got to the meat of his lecture on the records of ancient cultures detailing the rising rivers and telling stories to caution future generation that Jeremiah focused in on the points the man was making. This theory had led to his discovery of the minor outpost and the tablets that unlocked Linear A. There were hints in the professor’s lecture about the city-states of the lower Tigris delta, which seemed to match up to some of the information contained in the tablets from El-Isin, which referred to a greater city-state. Sadly, the section of the tablet with the name of that city-state had been damaged. All too soon Professor Di Vargas was wrapping up his lecture and leaving the stage. Jeremiah worked his way around to where the professor seemed to be taking questions and tried to get closer to the man so that he could ask a question regarding biblical references to the city of Enoch and its location. For some reason Jeremiah couldn’t fathom, Professor Di Vargas seemed to ignore him deliberately. Juan for his part was trying to see how persistent the young red head would be. Would he follow along hoping he could get his question in along the way to whatever lecture the young man was attending next or would he give up?

When it seemed that he’d never get close enough to the Spanish professor, Jeremiah decided that he’d try a different tactic and called out his question in fluent Spanish over the question of a local Baptist Minister. Juan looked up to see who had spoken as Jeremiah walked past him and made a comment about not ignoring questions from interested parties in Arabic before vanishing into the crowd. Juan was impressed the redhead was more than just somebody’s arm candy of a grad student. There was a brain in that handsome head. Now it was Juan, who wanted to catch up to someone to ask questions. He looked around and realized the man had vanished into the crowd. You’d think a tall man with flame red hair would be easy to spot in a crowd of out of shape academics. Now he’s caught my attention and vanished. With my luck, he’ll be attending some boring lecture on ancient Judean pottery. Still I want to hear what this Dr. Banks has to say about those tablets and the site where he found them. The notes in the journal article said he’d tracked down the location based on something in one of my papers. Juan made his way past one of the many tables set up with water, coffee, and other refreshments, and grabbed a piece of fruit and a bottle of water on his way to the room where Dr. Banks’ lecture would take place. He wanted a seat close to the front so that he could hear and follow the topic. A slide show was running on a loop, showing an archaeological dig going on in what could only be a tributary valley of the Tigris River system. Watching the slides, Juan thought he caught glimpses of the red headed man among the workers on the site. Was he a grad student assigned to Dr. Banks for the expedition? I didn’t think the man was old enough to have student assistants, maybe someone with whom he shared his mentor. Well, maybe I have a chance to see him again here after all. I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated with him, but I want to get to know him better.

The room filled, and if the conference organizers hadn’t closed the doors and turned people away, it would have been packed beyond capacity. Dr. Banks’ discovery had turned the archaeological scene on its head. Linear A had defeated the brightest of minds for over two centuries since it was first discovered on Crete in the first of the Minoan sites ever excavated. Finally, the slide show ended, and a distinguished man came forward to the podium.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce one of the stars of this conference. Dr. Jeremiah Banks of the University of Arizona in the Republic of Texas is new to our distinguished ranks, but he’s earned all the praise heaped upon him. His discovery is changing many disciplines besides archaeology. So, without further embarrassing the young man, please welcome Dr. Jeremiah Banks.”

Juan stood with all the other people gathered in the room to applaud the man who walked out on the stage, and near fell back into his seat as the fascinating redhead walked up to the podium and took the microphone from the man who’d introduced him. Jeremiah waved for everyone to sit, his eyes raking the audience and he seemed to home in on Juan. The professor felt the full intensity of the man’s sapphire eyes, and then came a slightly self-satisfied smirk of a smile as if he knew how much of a surprise this had been to Juan. Once everyone had settled back into his or her seats, Jeremiah nodded to the media crew, and a new slide appeared on the screen. On it was one of the tablets from his find.

Jeremiah began his lecture with a string of words no one in the room could grasp, and then repeated the phrase in English, “On the sixth day, the merchants of El-Isin offered us five slaves in exchange for our pottery. This translation is a rough approximation of what the first line of this tablet says. At this point, the pronunciation of Linear A is pure guesswork as we’ve only been able to decipher a couple of tablets, which have proven to be either trade entries like this one or in the case of this next example a working lexicon of Linear A or Minoan into Sumerian-Akkadian. These tablets found in the ruins of a site we’ve dubbed El-Isin based on other tablets discovered at the same time from a later period in the site’s history that identify the outpost by that name.”

Juan sat transfixed as Dr. Banks continued his lecture on the discovery of the tablets and the mysterious culture, which had built and maintained the site. He caught the mention of his works a few times and was fascinated by the direction the archaeologist had taken his research. When the lecture was over Juan watched as Jeremiah gathered his notes and collected his slides, all while trying to answer questions asked by members of his audience who’d swarmed the stage. He remained in his seat until the crowds began to thin out and that was when he noticed that Dr. Banks headed towards him. The man moved with the grace of a cat on the hunt. He was ruggedly handsome; his square jaw softened by his copper beard, sapphire eyes gleamed with mirth as Juan locked gazes with him. Jeremiah stopped just beside Juan’s chair and extended his hand to the stunned professor.

“We haven’t properly been introduced, Professor Di Vargas. I’m, Dr. Jeremiah Banks, and I’d love to discuss a few research questions I have about your findings regarding the lineage of Cain and the region you suspect he built Enoch.” Jeremiah said.

“Dr. Banks, I’m Professor Juan Di Vargas, and I’m afraid I must apologize from my earlier dismissal of your questions after my lecture this morning. I’d be very honored to compare research directions with you. Will you join me for lunch?” Juan replied while holding Jeremiah’s hand beyond the time required to shake. “I’m not scheduled for any more talks today.”

Juan’s Spanish accent was melting parts of Jeremiah’s brain and sending the blood racing elsewhere. The man’s hand was so warm and sent a tingle up Jeremiah’s arm making him reluctant to break the handshake.

“I’d be honored to join you for lunch, Prof. Di Vargas. I will have to watch my time however as I’m part of the discussion panel at two on current trends in archaeology.” Jeremiah replied as the handshake finally ended. “Perhaps we can make arrangements to be seated together at dinner tonight.”

“Were there any additional lectures you wanted to attend before lunch, Dr. Banks?” Juan asked.

“Not really, I would like to put my notes and slides back in my room if you don’t mind. Shall we meet back in the lobby in half an hour?” Jeremiah asked.

“If you don’t mind, I’ll walk with you to your room, and we can talk on the way. I find now that I’ve finally met you, I don’t want to let you out of my sight.” Juan said.

Jeremiah blushed turning almost as red as his hair. Juan smiled at the man’s reaction and made a gesture for him to lead the way. Jeremiah started walking hoping that his face would cool down and that his tongue would become untied. He hadn’t known the professor more than five minutes and already the man had him crushing like a teenager. When they reached the elevator, Jeremiah was struggling to remember what floor his room was on just from feeling the heat from Juan’s body behind him as they walked. It was strange because older men had never excited him before, but something about the Spaniard had Jeremiah wanting to find out what was under the man’s suit. Behind Jeremiah, Juan was watching the younger man’s ass move beneath his suit. The Texan was everything Juan liked in a partner, he was stunningly handsome, and a brilliant scholar and Juan suspected he was a witty conversationalist once he was comfortable. What Juan wonder was if Jeremiah was a passionate lover in bed? Would he be as fiery as his hair or was he a shy and coy lover awaiting seduction? Juan wanted to see if the Texan was even open to the possibility but unfortunately, the Confederacy had reinstated elevator operators in their high-end hotels and so there was no privacy. He did stand closer than he needed to as they rode to Jeremiah’s floor. Jeremiah wished that the Confederates hadn’t decided to revive the tradition of elevator operators because Jeremiah wanted to drag the Spaniard in for a searing kiss to experience the legendary passion of a Latin lover. With my luck, he’s just messing with me, and he’s got a wife and kids back home in Spain. I don’t remember reading anything in his biography about family. I think it said he was a confirmed bachelor. It seemed impossible to believe terms like that are back in vogue. Jeremiah came out of his thoughts as the elevator settled on his floor and the operator opened the doors. Juan tipped the man before Jeremiah could do so and they exited into the hallway leading to Jeremiah’s room. At the door to his room, Jeremiah almost fumbled the key trying to get it in the lock. He felt Juan’s heat even closer against him as the man’s hips pressed against his ass. The door opened, and Jeremiah found himself inside alone, Juan standing in the doorway. He was puzzled for a moment and then remembered his manners.

“Please come in, Professor Di Vargas,” Jeremiah said as he moved to put away his slides and notes. “We don’t stand on such formality in the Republic at these kinds of events.”

“Old world manners, at the University of Madrid we wait for an invitation into a colleague’s private space because we often have a combined set of rooms that act as office and living quarters, Dr. Banks,” Juan said as he closed the door behind him. ” Please call me Juan. I think we can drop the formal titles.”

“If you call me Jeremiah, I’d be honored to call you Juan,” Jeremiah said as he turned and found himself chest to chest with the handsome Spaniard. “I’m not sure how this works in Europe, but I want to kiss you, Juan.”

“I was hoping you would Jeremiah because I’d like to kiss you as well,” Juan said.

Even after the kiss, neither man could say which of them had initiated it. When they broke both of them were panting and leaning in towards each other. Juan’s hands were lightly cupping Jeremiah’s ass, while Jeremiah’s wrapped around Juan’s waist. They molded into each other as Juan captured Jeremiah’s lips once again. The older man broke the kiss when he felt Jeremiah fumbling to undo his belt.

“We do not have to rush anything; mi muchacho hermoso,” Juan whispered in Jeremiah’s ear. “We have plenty of time later to explore each other properly. For now, I just want to enjoy how well you fit in my arms and how you taste.”

Mi muchacho hermoso, you see me as your beautiful boy already, mi anciano?” Jeremiah teased as he ran his hand over the man’s chest. “Spanish is just one of my languages, Juan.”

“Yes, but your accent is horrible, Jeremiah,” Juan said.

“Sorry, I didn’t grow up learning proper Castilian Spanish. I had a Mexican nanny whose English was barely passable. She taught me Spanish, and then at school, we learned Mexican Spanish because it’s the Republic’s second official language.” Jeremiah said.

“I’ll teach you proper pronunciation of some unusual endearments later,” Juan whispered in Jeremiah’s ear, sending shivers down the younger man’s spine. “For now, we should make sure we haven’t gotten ourselves to out of order.”

The older man stepped back breaking his embrace with Jeremiah, who found he yearned for the man’s touch. Am I that desperate for physical contact or is there something more? I need to get myself under control, or I’ll never make it through the rest of the day never mind the conference. Pull yourself together Dr. Banks you have that panel to get through. I’ll deal with my feelings later. Jeremiah pulled himself up to his full six foot two height and checked to make sure his hair was still under control, before adjusting and straightening his hated tie.

“I think I’m presentable again. Shall we go down to lunch?” Jeremiah asked while grabbing a folder from his briefcase. “My notes for the panel. My departmental secretary had warned me before I left the university to come here that Rev. Dr. Kenneth Coffin would be on the panel. He’s a Southern Baptist minister with an enormous following who opposes using archaeology to dig into the biblical stories.”

“I’ve heard of him; he lectures in the same circles as my professional rival Professor Chevalier. I think we were fated to meet, Jeremiah. It seems you’re developing the same circle of intellectual opponents. Come we’ll talk about some of the weak points of the right Reverend’s arguments over lunch.” Juan said.

Even though it was Jeremiah’s room, Juan ushered them out and made sure the door was locked. The pair made their way back to the elevator and waited for the operator to bring it to their floor. Juan took the folder from Jeremiah’s hand and skimmed over the topic notes and the list of panel members.

“I’m afraid my side of the debate is a little short handed. Dr. Eugene Lanister left this morning to return home to the Republic. He claimed illness, but he came to my room drunk last night, and we had an argument about a touchy subject that ended when I hit him.” Jeremiah confessed. “I shoved him out and told him he should just go home if he couldn’t behave properly.”

“Perhaps, it was fortune looking out for you,” Juan said with a wicked gleam in his dark eyes. “If there is an opening on the panel, we can use it to our advantage.”

“How can Dr. Lanister’s departure be an advantage?” Jeremiah blinked his bright sapphire eyes at Juan, causing the man’s heart to race. “He’s an expert in the field of comparative mythology.”

“Because that allows me to take his place. I’m no slouch in the comparative religion department. I didn’t earn my chair by taking the simple theological path. Here’s a point where Rev. Coffin and Chevalier would have torn your friend Dr. Lanister apart.” Juan pointed to a section of Jeremiah’s notes.

Before Jeremiah could reply, their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the elevator, and they entered and rode down in silence. Both men lost in thought. Jeremiah reclaimed his notes from Juan and glanced at the theory the man had pointed out as a weak spot in his side’s argument. He hadn’t paid attention to some of Eugene’s later papers as he’d been on tour with the Linear A tablets. What had Eugene been thinking, trying to prove, this theory was insane. This panel could be a nightmare and would ruin my reputation as a serious scholar and scientist if they raised this point. I’m not sure I believe in guardian angels, but someone is looking out for me by steering me to Juan. Jeremiah closed the folder when the elevator reached the ground floor and made sure he tipped the operator, this time, letting Juan exit before him. They made their way to the dining room and found a table where they could sit and talk while they ate. Once the waiter had brought their lunch and drinks, Jeremiah looked over at Juan and asked the question.

“Do you want to take Dr. Lanister’s place on the panel? It seems like this discussion was set up to destroy the man’s reputation and possibly mine as well if I didn’t turn on him and side with Coffin and Chevalier. I’m obligated by the education policies of the Republic of Texas to defend Lanister’s theory. What do I do, Professor Di Vargas?”

“I think if I take Dr. Lanister’s place then first off his paper won’t be raised since it would be bad form to attack a theory when the author isn’t available to defend it. Chevalier will go after my most recent position paper on the location and importance of Enoch instead. Rev. Coffin will use his position to bolster Chevalier’s attacks hoping to get me tossed from my chair at the University of Madrid.”

“They’re treading dangerous ground; the Linear A tablets support the existence of an unknown city-state in the region you’ve argued for Enoch’s location. El-Isin isn’t the only outpost of this city-state I’ve found referenced. There’s also mention of one to the east of the central city called El-Kino. The directions are too vague to follow right now, but El-Kino is a target of my current research. I’m focused on the central city-state itself.” Jeremiah said.

“I’ve been following your research because I think we’re both looking for the same city along different tracks. I’m hoping that we can compare notes and share research as we go along.” Juan said although his deep voice seemed to convey more than just a sharing of the investigation. “Now that I’ve met you I’m hoping that I might convince you to come to the University of Madrid to teach and do research, Dr. Banks.”

“Professor Di Vargas, please don’t ruin what I hope is going to be a beautiful friendship with a sales pitch to teach at the University of Madrid. I’ve had so many offers over the last two years that my department’s secretary, Mrs. Pike, goes through my mail and removes job offers before sending letters on to me. I’m happy at the University of Arizona, and since they funded my expedition and technically control the access to the tablets, I really can’t go anywhere else and continue my research.” Jeremiah said.

Juan studied Jeremiah’s face for a moment and noted the sadness had dulled the brilliant sapphire eyes. He reached across the table and took Jeremiah’s hand in his own for a brief moment. Not long enough to be assumed more than a gesture of friendship by those around them, but long enough for Jeremiah to know he had the sympathy and support of a friend and maybe more. Juan received a smile and a brightening of those beautiful eyes. The two men finished their lunch and made their way to the conference room, which would host the debate. There they found the moderator fretting about the departure of Dr. Lanister, affect on the panel. He was greatly relieved when the esteemed Professor Di Vargas offered to take Dr. Lanister’s place, especially with the backing of the noted Dr. Banks. Jeremiah could barely contain a laugh that it was his reputation, which was getting Juan on the panel instead of the man’s own. He turned the laugh into a choked cough trying to save face. Juan looked at him as if planning to spank him for being an unruly child and Jeremiah’s coughing fit continued. The moderator looked concerned until Dr. Banks pulled himself together and assured the man he was all right. Jeremiah excused himself to use the restroom. Juan followed him to make sure the younger man was okay. Jeremiah was splashing cold water on his face to get himself under control when he glanced up and caught Juan attempting a serious scowl in the mirror. The younger man burst out laughing and had to grab the sink to keep from falling. Juan tried to remain serious, but soon his deep bass laugh joined Jeremiah’s tenor laugh.

“I-I-I’m sorry,” Jeremiah got out between laughs. “It’s just too funny hearing him say my reputation was greater importance than yours. Arizona trumps Madrid.”

“I see I have to disabuse you of that notion later. Although I have to say, I love hearing you laugh.” Juan said.

Jeremiah looked up at Juan’s reflection in the mirror and smiled at the man. His smile conveyed a sassy almost childish glee in provoking the older man to take a dominant role in whatever was building between them. He watched as Juan moved closer and jerked upright as the man’s strong right hand connected with his ass in a stinging spank. Juan moved on to the next sink over to wash his face and hands. Jeremiah rubbed his ass for a moment before regaining his composure and drying his face and hands. Before he could escape the restroom, Juan had him pinned facing the door, the man’s semi-hard cock pressing into his ass and forcing Jeremiah to bite his lip to keep from moaning out loud. Juan’s whispered words made Jeremiah almost draw blood as he bit down harder to keep his moan from escaping.

“When this panel is over, I’m going to take total control of you, my naughty little boy, and see that you learn proper respect for your betters.”

The door pushing inwards against Jeremiah caused the men to step apart and back as another conference attendee entered the restroom. The man looked at them puzzled for a moment before nature’s call reminded him why he was there. Jeremiah and Juan escaped and went to take their seats on their side of the debate table.

 

 

Great Professional Reviews

Legend of the Silver Hunter reviewed by Serious Reading Magazine.

I’m excited, to say the least. Tracker, Witch, and Hunter were reviewed by Serious Reading Magazine and received excellent reviews. Tracker 4.5 Stars (90%) and Witch and Hunter both received 5 Stars (95%). You can read the reviews at these links along with my author interview.

I’m back from an exciting vacation in Europe, where I cruised the Danube River from Budapest, Hungary to Munich, Germany with stops in Slovakia, Austria, and a land tour to the Czech Republic. This trip has sparked a few possible ideas for Black Snow (Book 3 of the Legacy of the Silver Hunter series). My plans are to focus on finishing The Goldilocks Pledge and The Curse before starting anything else.

Keep on reading and if you really enjoy Kieran and Cory’s story think about leaving a review where ever you purchased your copy.

Author Updates

Update Time

Hello fans,

Time for some updates on The Goldilocks Pledge. Currently, I’m at 12,000 words and the story will most likely be about 50-60,000 words in length. I’ve set myself some deadline goals to meet for getting the manuscript through editing and formatting and out into the world. The first book in a series seems to take me about a year to write so be looking for a release date in December.

I still need your help in picking names for Kieran and Cory’s twins. You can vote in the poll here –

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I asked for help in choosing a cover design. It was pretty much a tie but I did get some suggestions which helped firm up the cover design so I’ve closed that poll. Thank you all for your input.

While working on tweaking the design for The Goldilocks Pledge’s cover inspiration struck for the covers for the other two books in the series as well as firming up the fairy tale twist for each book and which pairing will face that twist. The only thing that isn’t firm right now is the title of book two.

The Legacy of the Silver Hunter series will be:

Book One – The Goldilocks Pledge – Featuring Ian and Billy – twisting Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Book Two – (tentative title) A Cape as Red as Blood – Featuring Vivian Mason and Kellen (Oisín) MacDonald – twisting Little Red Riding Hood.

Book Three – Black Snow – Featuring Professor John Mason and Uncle Brom (Oisín) MacDonald – twisting Snow White.

For those of you waiting on the Origins of the Vampires series, I promise I’m still working on those as well. I’ve set some deadline goals for book one – The Curse – to release in the first quarter of 2017. At last word count it was 60,000 words and growing. My guess is that it will be 100,000 to 120,000 words in length. The characters are more complex and I keep having to do tons of research to keep this one believable.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Kethric Wilcox

Cover Design Debate

The Goldilocks Pledge: Legacy of the Silver Hunter (Book One)

I’ve been playing around with some thoughts and concepts for the cover of The Goldilocks Pledge and I’ve decided to let you my readers decide what appeals to you. I’ve created a poll which you can find here 

for you to vote on the designs. Below you will find a graphic with larger versions of the designs.

Cover Options

Here’s the teaser blurb:

Kieran and Cory Belle-Cooper are about to become fathers, with the help of Kieran’s distant cousin Angelina O’Donal-Belle. Nothing is ever simple or straightforward for descendants of the House of Beauty.

Angelina’s O’Donal heritage carries its fairy tale roots. Once a Scottish Highlander clan, the O’Donal line runs back into a time of myths and legends. Deep in their past is Ursala O’Donal, daughter of the founding clan chief. Ursala was renowned for her fair hair and was known as Silverhair in the old family legends, to the world outside she became known as Goldilocks.

Ian and Billy Belle-Cooper, Archivists of the House of Beauty in training, have unearthed a part of the ancient secret of Clan O’Donal, and it doesn’t bode well for Kieran and Cory’s unborn children. It seems Ursala made a pledge to gain protection from the bear shifter clan MacMathan, something dealing with the first-born son of the first-born daughter of each generation, the details aren’t clear.

Can Ian and Billy find a way to cancel Goldilocks’ pledge or will the Silver Hunter and his husband have to fight an entire clan of shifters to save their children?

Legacy of the Silver Hunter

The Goldilocks Pledge

As I’ve been working on what was going to be a short Kieran and Cory story to cover the birth of their twins, I was struck with the inspiration to transform it into the first in a new series. This new series will be told by Ian and Billy as they record the events in Kieran’s time as the Hunter of the House of Beauty for the Archives. One of the first things that’s needed for these books are names for the Kieran and Cory’s children. The children are maternal twins (Angelina O’Donal-Belle provided the eggs for both children) the eldest is Kieran’s biological daughter and heir to the position of Hunter of the House of Beauty; the younger is Cory’s biological son, who like his father will be a Silver Shifter. I’ve drafted a few sets of names and created a poll for voting. You may also submit additional sets of names to the poll. The poll will run until midnight on July 15, 2016. The winning combination will be used in The Goldilocks Pledge and other books in the Legacy of the Silver Hunter series. The feature couples in this series will change from book to book and will include such pairings as Billy and Ian, Uncle Brom and Professor Mason,and Kellen (Oisín) MacDonald and Vivian Mason {yes I’m going to try my hand at M/F for one book}. Kieran and Cory will feature in all of these books.

To take part in the poll vote below 

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Thanks for following along.

Memorial Day Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to the 2nd annual MM Memorial Day Scavenger Hunt!

10 Days, 31 Stops, and loads of prizes! The rules are simple: At each stop on the tour you’ll find a military themed picture with a word or words. Collect the words and figure out the secret phrase (HINT: It’s lyrics to a song). Once you think you have the correct phrase, enter it into the Rafflecopter at any of the stops.

Three winners will be selected from all the correct phrases for the three prize packs.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

Our stop’s word is:  IN

 

Handsome male with naked torso
Man in army pants with naked torso. Vertical shoot

 

Prize Lists:

1st Place Prize

– $25 Amazon GC from Sassy Girl Books

– $10 Amazon GC from Aria Grace

– $10 Amazon GC from Two Chicks Obsessed

– $5 Amazon GC from Jessie G

– $5 ARe GC from Kai Tyler

– Winners Choice of 2 Audio Books from Amy Lane

– Winners Choice of 2 eBooks Susan MacNicol’s backlist

– Winners Choice of 3 ebooks from The Rock Gods Series from Ann Lister

– eBook of Trouble Comes in Threes by Decadent Delights

– Winners choice of any eBook on JR Gray’s backlist

 

2nd Place Prize

– $10 USD Amazon GC from NR Walker

– $10 ARe GC from MM Book Escape

– $10 Amazon or ARe GC from Chris McHart

– $5 Amazon GC from Andrew Jericho

– Winners Choice of any ebook on Jessie G’s backlist

– Winner’s choice of eBook from Jaime Reese’s backlist title (ebook gifted via Amazon)

– eBook from Brita Addams

– eBook of The Shape of Honey from Ki Brightly

– eBook of My Zombie Boyfriend by T. Strange

 

3rd Place Prize (US Only)

– $10 USD Amazon GC from BFD Book Blog

– $10 USD Amazon GC from Joyfully Reviewed

– $10 ARe GC from Prism Book Alliance

– $5 Amazon CG from Carly’s Book Reviews

– Signed copies of all three published Kethric Wilcox books

– ebook Hitting Black Ice by Heloise West

– Set of Mile High Romance eEooks from Aria Grace

– eBook of Fire and Rain by Andrew Grey

– eBoook of Unexpectedly Lucky from Carly Rose

Other Stops on the Hunt

May 30
May 31
June 1
June 2
June 3
June 4
June 5
June 6
June 7
June 8

 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway Here

***Note: all graphics are stock photos purchased from Adobe.

 

WIP: THE GOLDILOCKS PLEDGE

Hello Silver Hunters,

I’m still busy working on the new vampire series, but Kieran and Cory have been pestering me in the background about putting their story in one book and giving the fans a special story that picks up where the epilogue of Hunter ends. So because I’m doing deep research to keep the characters in The Curse sounding like they actually know something about their fields, I’ve decided to let Kieran and Cory have their extra story. The House of Beauty is composed of a lot of sub-families and those of you who’ve read the epilogue of Hunter were introduced to Angelina Belle-O’Donal. Clan O’Donal are originally from the Highlands of Scotland, believed in an independent Scotland, and fought valiantly in the defense of king and country. Kieran and Cory’s story in Legend of the Silver Hunter is a twist on the story of “Beauty and the Beast.” Angelina brings the hidden story behind Goldilocks and the Three Bears into the chronicles of the House of Beauty. As a sneak peek, I give you the original version “The Three Bears” by Robert Southey, and a piece of the O’Donal Clan chronicles that twists the tale.

The Goldilocks Pledge

Prologue

In a far-off country there was once a little girl who was called Silver-hair, because her curly hair shone brightly. She was a sad romp, and so restless that she could not be kept quiet at home, but must needs run out and away, without leave.

One day she started-off into a wood to gather wild flowers, and into the fields to chase butterflies. She ran here and she ran there, and went so far, at last, that she found herself in a lonely place, where she saw a snug little house, in which three bears lived; but they were not then at home.

The door was ajar, and Silver-hair pushed it open and found the place to be quite empty, so she made up her mind to go in boldly, and look all about the place, little thinking what sort of people lived there. 

Now the three bears had gone out to walk a little before this. They were the Big Bear, and the Middle-sized Bear, and the Little Bear; but they had left their porridge on the table to cool. So when Silver-hair came into the kitchen, she saw the three bowls of porridge. She tasted the largest bowl, which belonged to the Big Bear, and found it too cold; then she tasted the middle-sized bowl, which belonged to the Middle-sized Bear, and found it too hot; then she tasted the smallest bowl, which belonged to the Little Bear, and it was just right, and she ate it all.

She went into the parlour, and there were three chairs. She tried the biggest chair, which belonged to the Big Bear, and found it too high; then she tried the middle-sized chair, which belonged to the Middle-sized Bear, and she found it too broad; then she tried the little chair, which belonged to the Little Bear, and found it just right, but she sat in it so hard that she broke it.

Now Silver-hair was by this time very tired, and she went upstairs to the chamber, and there she found three beds. She tried the largest bed, which belonged to the Big Bear, and found it too soft; then she tried the middle-sized bed, which belonged to the Middle-sized Bear, and she found it too hard; then she tried the smallest bed, which belonged to the Little Bear, and found it just right, so she lay down upon it, and fell fast asleep.

While Silver-hair was lying fast asleep, the three bears came home from their walk. They came into the kitchen, to get their porridge, but when the Big Bear went to his, he growled out:

“SOMEBODY HAS BEEN TASTING MY PORRIDGE!”

and the Middle-sized Bear looked into his bowl, and said:

“Somebody Has Been Tasting My Porridge!”

and the Little Bear piped:

“Somebody has tasted my porridge and eaten it all up!”

Then they went into the parlour, and the Big Bear growled:

“SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR!”

and the Middle-sized Bear said:

“Somebody Has Been Sitting In My Chair!”

and the Little Bear piped:

“Somebody has been sitting in my chair, and has broken it all to pieces!”

So they went upstairs into the chamber, and the Big Bear growled:

“SOMEBODY HAS BEEN TUMBLING MY BED!”

and the Middle-sized Bear said:

“Somebody Has Been Tumbling My Bed!”

and the little Bear piped:

“Somebody has been tumbling my bed, and here she is!”

At that, Silver-hair woke in a fright, and jumped out of the window and ran away as fast as her legs could carry her, and never went near the Three Bears’ snug little house again.

Robert Southey, “The Three Bears,” Fairy Tales and Other Traditional Stories, Lit2Go Edition, (0), accessed April 28, 2016, http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/68/fairy-tales-and-other-traditional-stories/5105/the-three-bears/.

It’s hard to believe how much the tale has changed over time without any help from the chroniclers of our new patron, Lady Clarissa Belle, Huntress of the House of Beauty. While the tale started out with an old woman in the role, it has changed over time to come a little closer to the truth. Silver-hair or Goldilocks as she later came to be called was born Ursala O’Donal, first born daughter of the chief of Clan O’Donal. What really happened to her in the cottage of the three bears is a tale we’ve kept hidden in our own chronicles. Only the chief of our clan and the eldest daughter of each generation know Ursala’s secret. Our current clan chief feels this secret no longer impacts the few survivors of our clan. So I record in this chronicle the existence of the Goldilocks Pledge, a pact between Clan O’Donal, and the bear-shifter Clan MacMathan. The MacMathan pledged to defend the O’Donal from attack in return for the firstborn son of the firstborn daughter of each generation. The MacMathan failed to come to our aide when our clan was attacked by a group of wolf-shifters who’d disguised themselves as a troupe of wandering players. We would have been slaughtered to the last babe if Lady Clarissa hadn’t arrived when she did. The Huntress of the House of Beauty and her servants destroyed the wolf-shifters and saved our clan. We are now a sub-clan of the House of Beauty.

From the Chronicles of the O’Donal Clan, recorded September 1542, shortly after the O’Donal Clan aided King James V defeat the English at the Battle of Haddon Rig.

Current Works in Progress

Hey Fans,

Thought I’d give everyone a little update on what’s currently going on with my current works in progress. The Curse, book one of my new Origin of the Vampires trilogy stands at 51,000 words written to date. Which means I’m about half way through the story’s first draft. It’s slow going on this one because of the research and efforts to re-craft the world into its dystopian future. I’m also having to research topics like how archaeological digs are done, Islamic naming conventions, biblical myths and interpretations, and a bunch of other things.

My goal is to give you a richly crafted world with believable characters. I want you to fall in love with Dr. Jeremiah Banks and Prof. Juan Di Vargas and the rest of the cast, like you did with Kieran and Cory and their families.

Speaking of Kieran and Cory, I’m working on an omnibus edition of their story to be released soon as Legend of the Silver Hunter. It will also include a new short story that picks up a little bit after the epilogue of Hunter. I also have plans for a Christmas short story.

There are notes and a few scattered chapters already written for Lord Hunter, book two in the Origin of the Vampires trilogy. Now that things have settled down on the day job, I expect that I’ll have more time and energy to focus and write.

I’ve also made the decision to expand my market reach by returning to Smashwords.com and joining AllRomance. I’ll still be on Amazon but no longer in the Kindle Unlimited, with the way Amazon pays out for KU being locked in to them is hardly worth it. I’d rather give my fans and their friends more ways to enjoy my writing and a wider market helps to do that. So you’ll find Tracker already for sale on Smashwords.com and all the places it distributes to, like B&N, iBooks, and others, and on AllRomance, where if you search Legend of the Silver Hunter the series comes up quickly.

I love to hear from you either as comments here or on Facebook, or as a review on Amazon, GoodReads, Smashwords.com, or AllRomance. Fan mail is also welcome at kethricwilcoxauthor@gmail.com

 

Waking the Villian of “The Curse”

Hey fans,

I thought I’d give everyone a sneak peek at the villain of my upcoming novel “The Curse: Origin of the Vampires, Book One”, the Primordial – Bellabarisruk.

Entry from the Glossary of Vampires:

Bellabarisruk: (3rd Generation Vampire) a former Chaldean nobleman and Chief of the Magi, who usurped the Babylonian throne. His usurpation brought him to the attention of Sharru-Kino the second-generation vampire king of El-Abel. Bellabarisruk was given the Gift of Cain and transformed into the first vampire of the third generation. He founded the princely Bel-Kino Clan.

Bel-Kino, Clan: (Vampire Clan) Founded by Bellabarisruk sometime after the great flood. This clan of vampires chooses only those who have proven political leadership skills. They rule over the various clans of vampires in a given city, county, province, or country depending on their age, skills, and power. Regardless of how much territory they control the leader is given the title Grand Duke or Grand Duchess and is addressed as Your Grace.

Primordials: A term used by vampires and hunters a like to identify the most ancient of vampires, primarily Cain, the lost vampires of the second generation Bel-Sarra, Sharru-Kino, Nina-Ishtar, and the original members of the third generation of vampires. All of these vampires existed before the great flood destroyed El-Abel and have powers understood by very few outside their generation. While Izcacus has the powers of a primordial, he is not counted among their numbers because he is many millennia younger than the rest of the third generation.

This ancient vampire, one of the few to have actually lived in El-Abel, considers himself the heir to the throne of Cain and his followers keep watch for those who seek the lost city. He considers Richard St. Martin a usurper and a child and does not fear the man known as both Lord Hunter and Lord Slayer. His clan control the politics of most vampire courts and in many cases the mortal cities where those courts are based. Dr. Jeremiah Banks and Professor Juan Di Vargas, have made Bellabarisruk’s target list because of their quest to discover the city of Cain be it called Enoch or El-Abel. He will use any means at his disposal to prevent anyone from reaching the ruins of the ancient city before he can.

Here’s an unedited glance at his followers waking this ancient horror.

Vampire Interlude: Primordial Rising

Torches flickered and hissed as the procession moved down the rough-hewn corridor towards the great chamber at the end. The members of the procession split as they entered the chamber as those carrying torches used them to light the great braziers before racking them in holders around the outer wall. Three struggling naked young men were pushed to the center of the room and forced to their knees. Their chains rattled against the stone floor. In the center of the room stood a bier carved from the finest marble and resting on top was the desiccated body of a man in blood red robes and heavy gold jewelry. The members of the procession knelt facing the bier with the exception of those guarding the three naked young men. When all were kneeling, they began to chant in a strange and ancient language only the repetition of what must be a name caught on the ears of the chained youths. Bellabarisruk was the only word any of them could make out. The chant had hypnotic effect, lulling the youths out of their terror, until the guard on the youth in the center whipped a vicious knife across the throat of his captive. Blood sprayed over the other youths as the guard lifted his victim up and over the figure on the bier letting the blood flow down and into the mouth of the corpse. By the time, the youth’s heart shuddered to a stop from blood loss the figure on the bier was reviving.

The creature sat up on the bier and surveyed those gathered in his resting place. His eyes fell on the two remaining captives and he gestured for the youth on the right to be brought to him. The guard behind the youth lifted him to his feet and half dragged the young man to his doom. The living corpse on the bier reached out and gripped the chains holding the youth bound and dragged him in tight. The creature’s canines extended into wicked fangs, which it sank into the youth’s throat. The boy struggled for a few minutes before euphoria and blood loss overwhelmed him. He sank against the creature, as he grew weaker, until the monster feeding on him withdrew and cast him aside. The young man was dead before he hit the floor. The ancient vampire descended from the bier and made his way to a great stone throne carved in the wall beyond the bier. The group moved to kneel before the throne, while the guard brought the final youth forward and forced him to his knees beside the throne. Terror and shock were all that registered on the youth’s face. He whimpered and cowered as the monster rested a hand on his head and stroked his hair absently.

“Why has my rest been disturbed?” asked the monster.

“Master Bellabarisruk, in your instructions before you entered languor you requested to awoken should any word of ancient El-Abel be found.” one of the minions said.

“I gather that some mention of El-Abel has come to your ears.” Bellabarisruk said.

“More than word, Master Bellabarisruk. There is news of an archaeological expedition being sent to locate the city based on information discovered in a journal believed to have come from the collection of the Lord Slayer.”

“IS that upstart hunter still around after all these years. He must be drinking from his victims to remain alive for over a hundred years.” Bellabarisruk sneered. “What information on El-Abel do this journal contain?”

“Information gleaned from the Barghest clan, indicates the pages contain information about the city’s exact location written by Cain himself.” the minion said.

“There is no way for a mortal hunter to have access to Cain’s journals. How did Lord Slayer get his hands on them?” Bellabarisruk demanded. “If you don’t have an answer, then find out!”

“According to a source who has seen some of the pages, Master Bellabarisruk, Lord Slayer truly earned his title by slaying Lord Cain. I brought a copy of one of the pages where he admits as much.” the minion said handing the page over to his master. “If this is truth, then the Lord Slayer isn’t a mortal but one of us.”

“December 10, 2001

There are no words to sufficiently curse my own stupidity. I can hardly believe everything I’ve read in this ancient journal. Yet, I felt the curse take hold of me at the very moment my silver blade cleaved Cain’s head from his shoulders. My prayers for salvation were only partly heard by the blessed Goddess and her consort. I’ve chased down these monsters learning every way possible to kill vampires even though they were never my natural target. I’ve been a hunter of shifters since I was a boy of ten. I’ve doomed myself and I still have no answer as to why, my dearest Sarah was chosen. I’ve read and re-read this journal hundreds of times over the last two years trying to take all of Cain’s warnings and lessons to heart.

My powers are greater than Cain’s were. I need only fear the sunlight in its purest form at dawn even pure running water doesn’t hamper my powers. Only the most pure of faith can prevent my passing a threshold. I do not cast reflections on mirrors backed with silver, but now at least technology has caught up to the point where I can still be photographed and video taped. Thanks to this journal, I know searching for a way to remove this curse is a waste of my time. Since I am now Lord of all Vampires, I must build up my own court to control the scattered vampire lords around the world.        

I do not know what my future holds for me. I only know the vows I’ve made to myself. I will not feed from a human and I will not create another vampire. I don’t even know why I’m making these notes, as this journal will be locked away along with my own journals of my life to his point. The shock value of this journal on those of faith will be staggering. I pity whoever reads these words beside me.

Richard St. Martin,

Lord Hunter”

“He doesn’t use the title Lord Slayer in this entry but I recall several of my line issuing edicts to leave this Lord Hunter alone. I do not know how he managed to find Cain let alone kill him but I’ll tear this child vampire to shreds if he gets in the way of my claiming El-Abel.” Bellabarisruk said.

The ancient vampire rose to his feet and seized the chain around the chest of the last mortal in the room. He lifted the youth as if the boy weighed nothing. Fear filled eyes locked on the calm eyes of the monster. Bellabarisruk laughed at the boy’s expression and dragged him in for a kiss tinged with the blood of his fallen friends. The youth sagged as the kiss broke only to feel the vampire sink his fangs into his neck. A scream tore its way out of his throat before the euphoric effect of being bitten took complete hold of him and he pulled himself tighter to his killer. The ancient vampire discarded the lifeless husk when he’d finished.

“We must prepare to travel to Mesopotamia to await our intrepid archaeologist and his team. Who is currently prince in the region?” Bellabarisruk asked.

“Hassam el-Mohammed was the last reported prince of area, My Lord,” replied the minion.

“Contact him and have him prepare his vassals to assist us. They are to keep an eye on this archaeologist but not to interfere unless another vampire faction interferes.”

“It will take some time to make arrangements, My Lord. Much has changed since you entered languor.”

Bellabarisruk waved the concern off and touching a hidden stud on his throne’s arm vanished backwards into the wall.

The Order of St. Hubert

In the future of the world of the Silver Hunter trilogy, things aren’t as peaceful as they were in Kieran and Cory’s time. The future is ruled by conservative factions who have turned back the clock on many of the great social and political gains made during the early 21st Century. Europe’s clock has been dialed back to the Middle Ages by a pair of very powerful popes who took advantage of the turmoil brought on by The Great Upheaval in 2084. Pope Pius XIII, using his great oratory skills persuaded the citizens of first Rome and then the rest of Italy to follow his lead. Legions of priests, monks, nuns, and laity organized relief efforts across Italy and into the rest much of continental Europe. Aiding the effort and keeping a sudden upswing in shifter activity in check was the Order of St. Hubert of Liège, a militant order reporting directly to the pope. Shortly after unifying most of Europe under the control of the Church, Pius XIII died under mysterious circumstances. Knowing that the new age would need a dynamic and energetic pope, the College of Cardinals turned away from their own membership and chose the young Grand Master of the Order of St. Hubert as the next Holy Father in Rome. The former Grand Master ascended the Throne of St. Peter as Innocent XIV at the age of 45 in 2093. One of his first acts as Pope was to bring the leaders of the new nations together to sign The Holy Accord in 2094, in which it was agreed that they would all ban the redevelopment of flight and missile technology in and effort to prevent anyone from launching a new Great Upheaval.

St. Hubert of Liège in the World of the Silver Hunter:

Saint Hubert (c. 656-727 CE) became Bishop of Liège in 708 CE. Saint Hubertus was born in Toulouse around the year 656. He was the eldest son of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine, and spent his youth at the court of Theodoric III, King of the Franks, at Paris. Like many nobles of the time, Hubert was addicted to the chase. Around 682, Hubert joined many other Frankish nobles in departing the palace in Paris for the royal household at Heristal in the Austrasia region of the Frankish kingdom. Here he married Floribanne, daughter of Dagobert, Count of Leuven. His wife died giving birth to their son, and Hubert retreated from the court, withdrew into the forested Ardennes, and gave himself up entirely to hunting. However, a great spiritual revolution was imminent. On Good Friday evening while the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag, the animal was smashed to the ground by a giant black wolf. As the stag was torn to shreds, Hubert heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell.” Sensing a great evil about the wolf, Hubert dismounted, drew his sword, and drove the silver chased blade deep into the wolf’s side and through the beast’s heart. He was startled when the monster transformed back into a man. Hubert prostrated himself, and said, “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?” He received the answer, “Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you.”

He set out immediately for Maastricht, of which place St. Lambert was then bishop. The latter received Hubert kindly, and became his spiritual director. Hubert, losing his wife shortly after this, renounced all his honors and his military rank, and gave up his birthright the Duchy of Aquitaine to his younger brother Eudon, whom he made guardian of his infant son, Floribert. Having distributed all his personal wealth among the poor, he entered upon his studies for the priesthood, was soon ordained, and shortly afterwards became one of St. Lambert’s chief associates in the administration of his diocese. By the advice of St. Lambert, Hubert made a pilgrimage to Rome and during his absence, the saint was assassinated a pack of shifters. At the same hour, this was revealed to the pope in a vision, together with an injunction to appoint Hubert bishop, as being a worthy successor to the see. Hubert was so much possessed with the idea of himself winning the martyr’s crown that he sought it on many occasions, often hunting shifters alone, but his quest to die a martyr was unsuccessful. He distributed his episcopal revenues among the poor, was diligent in fasting and prayer, and became famous for his eloquence in the pulpit. In 720, in obedience to a vision, Hubert translated St. Lambert’s remains from Maastricht to Liège with great pomp and ceremonial, several neighboring bishops assisting. A church for the relics was built upon the site of the martyrdom, and was made a cathedral the following year, the see being removed from Maastricht to Liège, then only a small village. This laid the foundation of the future greatness of Liège, of which Lambert is honored as patron, and St. Hubert as founder and first bishop. Liège offered a better base of operations because of its size. The Hunter-Bishop trained several young men in the ways of detecting shifters, before his death by natural causes.

The Order of St. Hubert in the World of the Silver Hunter:

Pope Honorius III founded the Order of St. Hubert of Liege in 1225 in order to gain the support of the powerful House of Beauty in his battle against a powerful shifter clan near Rome. The Order’s foundational commandery is located in Liège near the cathedral. Pope Gregory IX expanded the Order of St. Hubert into a full martial/religious order in 1229 after the discovery of vampires during examinations under the Inquisition. The training given by the House of Beauty was expanded to take in dealing with vampires as well as shifters. The members of the Order of St. Hubert developed methods for detecting vampires and in rare cases adopted the use of mages they rescued from their more zealous Dominican brothers. Distinct divisions developed within the Order to cope with the various supernatural and natural threats. When the Order was established its Grand Master was an abbot. Over the centuries, the clerical rank of the Grand Master has risen with the Order’s fortunes. Today the current Grand Master is Cardinal Valentine Ketcherside. The Vicar-General oversees the running of the military and hunter arms of the Order. The current Vicar-General of the Order is Bishop Fabrizio Fabbri. A Master and Commander, most often an archbishop, but sometimes a bishop oversee the regional commanderies. The local commanderies are lead by a Master and Commander, who is either a bishop or a monsignor, sometimes an abbot if the location is mostly religious members.

The divisions of the Order of St. Hubert are:

Religious Division: Some members of the Order are strictly religious members; monks, priests, and a small order of nuns. They very rarely leave the confines of the Commanderies unless a powerful vampire or shifter is encountered and someone of powerful faith is required to drive the monster out of its lair or protect the base of operations being used by a team of hunters.

Military Division: Knights, squires, and militant brothers make up the majority of the armed forces of the Order of St. Hubert. The Hunters of the Order are also part of this division.

Law Enforcement Division: By order of the Holy Father in Rome, the Order of St. Hubert took over the duties of Interpol. The Knights and priests of the law enforcement division may cross provincial boundaries as needed and command the assistance of any level of regional law enforcement with in the Holy Roman Empire.