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Authors: Jeff Gunhus

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Jack Templar and the Lord of the Vampires

BOOK: Jack Templar and the Lord of the Vampires
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JACK TEMPLAR

 

and the

 

THE LORD OF THE VAMPIRES

 

Book 3

 

 

A Novel

 

By

 

Jeff Gunhus

 

Kindle Edition

 

JACK TEMPLAR and THE LORD OF THE VAMPIRES - Copyright 2013 by Jeff Gunhus

 

Kindle Edition, License Notes

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. And resemblance to actual persona, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright 2013 by Jeff Gunhus

 

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Seven Guns Press. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

Cover design by Eric Gunhus

Cover Art by Nicole Cardiff

Edited by Sheryl Hartwell

Formatting by RikHall.com

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Gunhus, Jeff

Jack Templar Monster Hunter: a novel / Jeff Gunhus

 

 

ALSO BY JEFF GUNHUS

 

 

MG/YA FICTION

 

Jack Templar Monster Hunter #1

Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy #2

Jack Templar and the Lord of the Vampires #3

 

ADULT FICTION

 

Night Chill

 

NON-FICTION

 

Reaching Your Reluctant Reader

No Parachute Required

Wake Up Call

Choose The Right Career

The Little Book Of Secrets

 

Praise for Jack Templar Monster Hunter

The Templar Chronicles Book 1

 

Selected as a 2012 Finalist for the Book of the Year Award
. –
 
Foreword Reviews

 

"Gunhus brings young readers a monster-filled romp to read at their own risk.
  The tone is set--sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and likable; rooting for Jack is easy...Gunhus masterfully introduces fully realized characters with whom readers can connect almost instantly. The pacing is quick but not rushed, and events seamlessly progress, complete with action, cliffhangers and surprise reveals. " -
 
Kirkus Reviews

 

"The action starts right from the first chapter and doesn't let up until the book ends.
This is the first book in a series, and I look forward to reading the rest of them."
 
-The DMS

 

"
Jeff Gunhus has made a terrific fast paced fantasy
. I even wanted to bolt my doors and lock my windows! Five stars for the best book of the year."
 
-Elizabeth A. Bolt

 

"
Everything in this book was something a reader could love - action, adventure, mythical creatures, mystery and even a touch of romance
.”
 
-
Sandy @ Magical Manuscripts

 


Move over Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, there's a new kid in town - Jack Templar
, and he will take you on a wonderful adventure of good vs evil, with friends and enemies at every turn.”
 
-
Penny Brien
 "

 

Praise for Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy

The Templar Chronicles Book 2

 


Jeff Gunhus has crafted another winner in the sequel to Jack Templar: Monster Hunter
…in another captivating story filled with plot twists and turns.” - Mother Daughter Book Reviews

 

This book is spellbinding
…Please hurry and finish the rest of the series. – Charlotte Edwards

 

I would highly recommend these books to anyone who loves adventure and fantasy.
Riordan fans will definitely love this series! It's exactly what a middle grade fantasy should be. – N. Hewitt

 

Holy cow, this book was amazing, just amazing!
I don't even know what else to say other than to fangirl all over the place…You have to read this book. Just ... read it. – K. Sozaeva

 

The characters leap off the page and grab the reader and draw him or her into the always dangerous, sometimes deadly adventures
. This is a series that demands to be read. – Michelle S. Willms

 

I think anyone who loves an action packed children's book should read this one
. You won’t be disappointed.– Christina Condy

 

 

 

For my own little monsters:

 

Jackson, William, Daniel, Caroline and Owen

 

And for Nicole: who always smiles when she tells me to go write

 

 

My name is Jack Templar and I am an orphan.

 

Just before my fourteenth birthday, I discovered that I came from a long line of monster hunters. You know, vampires, werewolves, zombies, all kinds of evil creatures called
Creach
.

 

Not only that, but if monsters around the world could choose one human to kill, it would be me. Why? I used to say I didn’t have a clue, but that’s not true. Not anymore.

 

As the last Templar Knight, I’m on a quest to reunite the five mystical Jerusalem Stones so that I can defeat Ren Lucre, the Lord of the Creach who holds my father hostage and threatens to launch a war against the human world.

 

Only a few months ago, I was just a kid worrying about school. Now I’m a monster hunter with the fate of the world on my shoulders.

 

It’s been quite a ride.

 

WARNING

 

S
ince I can’t be certain that you read my first book about the night I found out I was a monster hunter, I should start out with a warning.

First, monsters are real. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons; you name it. In fact they are more common than you could ever imagine. Second, this book is not make-believe. This is a truthful account of my life as a monster hunter and the mysterious circumstances that seem to constantly surround me. Third, reading this book makes you fair game for monsters.

You heard me right: the simple act of reading this book will attract monsters to you and give them the go-ahead to attack. Usually, if you were under fourteen years old, you would be safe by the Law of Quattuordecim, an ancient truce between man and monster that protects non-combatant children on both sides until sundown on their fourteenth birthday. I blew it by attacking a monster that was trying to eat someone I knew the day before my birthday. You’re about to blow it by reading this book.

If you’re over fourteen, you are already at risk for monster attacks, but in reality they are few and far between. Still, by reading this book, you are guaranteeing they will come after you. So don’t come crying to me if a rock troll chops off your feet or a harpy eats one of your eyeballs. The choice is yours.

However,
 
if
 you decide to turn the page, you’ll be reading about the Monster Hunter Academy, a place no
 
non
-monster hunter has ever seen or heard about before. What happened there is not for those with weak stomachs or for those who are easily upset. There is blood and gore and death and, like it or not, some kissing. But there is also an adventure unlike anything you have ever seen before.

So turn the page if you dare. The adventure starts now.

 

Jack Templar

 

P.S. Go to
www.JackTemplar.com
for hunting advice and to see photos of some of the places I visit in this adventure. Use the password MONSTER to enter the secret Hunters Only area for extra treats. See you there.

Prologue
 

A
s the man staggered into the narrow corridor of the castle, he knew the woman he left behind would be dead within minutes unless he did something. The thought of losing her gripped him by the throat as strongly as if a hand seized him and sought to wring the life from him. He tore at the tight collar around his neck and ripped it open, gasping for breath. His fingers brushed against the wound there, two deep punctures that seeped a slow trickle of blood.

“Vitus!” he cried. “I need you!”

His rushed down the stone hallway, bent over and running his hand along the wall to keep his balance. Since his birth in this castle, he had spent countless hours running through its many rooms. But tonight it felt as disorienting as one of the mazes the workers made out of the cornfields for Harvest Festival.

“Vitus! Show yourself!” he bellowed.

Stairs. Narrow and steep. The man half-ran, half-fell down them, growing more desperate with every step farther from the room where he had spent the last three days caring for his wife. Once the essence of life, she was now no more than a brittle husk, a frail body with a withered soul. He could still feel the damp on his clothes from holding her fevered body next to his as he gently rocked her, singing her the soft songs of their youth. But her breathing had only gotten worse, now a faint rasp of air, so strained that he feared each would be her last.

Finally, as the shadow of death filled the room and hovered over her, something had broken inside of the man. The promise he had made to her—no, more than a promise, a solemn oath bound by the strongest words her dying mind could conjure—suddenly seemed a transparent lie. In a flash of clarity, it appeared so obvious that he lurched from the bed, calling himself a fool, and ran from the room.

If she died, nothing else mattered.

Even if she hated him for what he intended to do, he didn’t care. He could not let her die.

The man came to the enormous oak doors of the banquet hall. He lowered his shoulder with a snarl and barreled into them. The doors flew open on well-oiled hinges, revealing a massive room with a soaring ceiling supported by rows of thick stone pillars. Tapestries and banners covered the walls. A long table, enough to seat dozens at a feast, filled the center aisle. Platters of food and goblets of wine sat atop the dark, polished wood. Fanciful flower decorations served as centerpieces, alternating the length of the table with candlesticks made of the finest silver. Every chair was filled with a gentleman or lady wearing the most fashionable clothing. Vests embroidered with gold and silver. Dresses assembled in layers of sheer fabrics. Cloaks of ermine and mink draped over the chair backs in case a draft should appear.

But a draft would not bother any of the assembled guests.

Even the coldest wind will not bother a corpse.

The dinner guests were all frozen in a dramatic tableau of death. Some lay facedown on the table. Others leaned back, dead, open eyes staring at the ceiling. The worst ones, someone had propped up as if they were still conversing, but pale white skin accented the bright line of red blood across their necks.

The room was dark, the candles long since melted into puddles of wax on the table. The only light came from a small fire burning in the giant hearth in the center wall of the room. A solitary figure sat in a wooden chair, rocking back and forth, keeping pace to music only he could hear.

“Vitus, I know you could hear me,” the man shouted. “I need you.”

Vitus cocked his head slightly toward the man as if picking up only the slightest creak of the floorboards in the middle of the night, but he continued to stare into the fire. Vitus’s beard grew down to his chest and stood in contrast to his clean-shaven head. The fire cast odd shadows across a weathered face, chiseled deep by time and pain. Vitus looked no different from any number of old men lost to his thoughts deep inside the flames of a hearth fire.

No different that is except for his eyes and stains of blood that ran down both sides of his mouth. His eyes were black wells that seemed to suck the light from the air and give nothing in return. No reflection from the fire or glistening from moisture, just dead endless darkness that saw both nothing and everything. For the first time since leaving his dying wife, the man paused, terrified at what he intended to do.

He reached up to his neck and felt the open wound there. Every scratch on his skin and aching muscle in his body had healed almost immediately after the bite. But not his neck. Three days since it had happened. Three days since he’d left behind both his faith and his family. And still the wound remained open, a reminder of his terrible decision.

It was not supposed to be like this. This was never his plan. The man felt the hot burn of anger build in his chest. “You know what I need,” he said.

Slowly, Vitus turned his head back toward the fire. It was the tiniest of motions, but the man, being a lord himself, knew it for what it was. A dismissal. Vitus had both denied his request and signaled no notice of a threat in one smooth motion.

A rush of anguish and rage blocked out all the man’s reason. He ignored the macabre death scene at the table, the way one might pass by a painting that has grown to become part of the background, and strode to the old man. On the way, one hand swept across the table and took hold of a carving knife. This he held up in front of him, ready to attack.

“I said, you know what I need,” the man growled.

But emotion made him clumsy and predictable. His target leapt from the chair, moving with blinding speed. In a second, the old man threw him to the floor, the knife skittering across the ground, and jumped on top of him, his full weight pressing down. The man was helpless. Unable to breathe.

He looked up into Vitus’s face, horrible and grotesque as he sneered at his prisoner, lips curled back to reveal two perfectly white incisors.

“You think to attack me, boy?” Vitus hissed. “
Me
?”

“You leave me with no other choice,” the man cried.

“You knew of the rules. And you knew of the payment,” Vitus said, nodding at the table of dead nobles. “The clock cannot be turned backward.”

“I have to save her,” the man said.

“Save her? Even now you believe this is salvation?” Vitus sneered, spittle dripping from his lips. “I knew you were foolish, but I never suspected you were a fool.” He raised a clawed hand in the air as if to strike. “Perhaps justice would be to take back what I have given you.”

“Father?” A young girl’s unsteady voice came from behind them.

“Are you all right?” asked a second voice, nearly identical to the first.

Vitus loosened his grip just enough so that both he and his prisoner could turn around and see the twin girls who stood behind them in floor-length sleeping gowns. Their long dark hair hung over their shoulders. Their faces were identical with high cheekbones and aquiline noses common in the French nobility. While these features could sometimes take on a severe quality, the proportion was just right to create great beauty, enough to give a hint of the powerful women they would become.

For two girls who looked identical, coming face to face with such evil had a far different effect. One wept uncontrollably, her entire body shuddering as she looked at the dead bodies all around her in wide-eyed terror. The other stared at the situation, her eyes narrowed and lips pressed together.

“Caroline,” the man said firmly. “Take Angelica away from here. Right now.”

The quiet one, Caroline, slowly turned to the table of dead nobles and then back to the two men. “Did you do all that, Father?” She thrust her proud chin toward Vitus. “Or did he kill them for you?”

Angelica whimpered beside her sister, pulling at her bedclothes. “Let’s go. Please, can we just go?”

“Caroline, your mother’s very ill,” the man whispered, the strain in his voice begging her to leave the room. “There’s not much time. I need you to—”

“She’s dead,” Caroline stated, her eyes cold. “Our mother’s dead.”

“No, that’s not possible,” the man said. He looked to his other daughter who met his eye only for a moment, but it was long enough. In her eyes, he saw a stark pain of a child’s loss of her mother. He fell back to the floor, defeated, Vitus’s weight still on top of him. But a second later, he thrashed and flailed, trying to force the old man off of him. “I must go to her! Get off me!”

Vitus seemed barely bothered by the man’s struggles. He held him in place as if to wait out the violence, his face betraying no emotion. As he waited, he turned and studied the two girls, especially Caroline. She stared at him curiously and gently pushed the crying Angelica away. Alone, she stood facing the old man. Angelica staggered to the side and slumped against the wall, wracked with grief.

“Are you not afraid, girl?” Vitus said to her.

She shook her head. “Should I be?”

The man weighed the question before answering. “Yes, you should.”

Caroline walked a few steps toward the table and took her eyes off Vitus long enough to look down the length of the banquet of terror. Rather than disgusted, she looked intrigued, almost impressed. She turned to him and nodded once.

 Still holding down the man who kicked and twisted furiously beneath him, Vitus managed a slight bow, his lips upturned in a sly smile.

“Were you the reason my mother died?” Caroline asked.

“No,” Vitus said. “That was from the birth. It is not uncommon.”

“But you could have saved her,” she stated.

“I suppose so,” Vitus admitted.

“Then that’s the same as killing her,” Caroline said. “Morally, it is the same.” There was no emotion in her voice, only cold logic.

Vitus nodded, his full attention on the girl now, his hands easily controlling the man beneath him. “How do you feel about that?

“Feel?” the girl asked. “My sister feels. I know.”

“Interesting,” Vitus said, glancing behind him to where Angelica sat curled against the wall, sobbing. “Emotion and logic. Separated in the womb. I’ve never seen such a thing. And I have seen more than you can imagine.”

“You say this because you are a vampire,” Caroline said. “You came to our castle because my father sought you out. He desired everlasting life, but you brought death with you instead.”

Finally grief overtook the man Vitus held down, and he stopped struggling. Tears flowed down his cheeks, and he mumbled over and over, “What have I done? What have I done?”

Vitus loosened his grip, his attention still on Caroline. “What you say is true. I came to kill your father, but he convinced me to make him part of my family instead.”

“Liar,” the man snarled, but both Vitus and Caroline ignored him.

“Will you make me part of your family as well?” Caroline asked.

“Perhaps someday, child,” Vitus said. “I gave your a father a greater gift than he knows. More of my blood than I have ever given one of my children. He will not only be strong. He will be a like a god.” His voice grew weary. “I admit the transformation took more from me than I imagined. Changing you now could be dangerous for me. But one day. When you’re ready.”

“And my sister,” Caroline asked. “Will you change her as well?”

Vitus shook his head. “She is too weak. Only the strongest can survive my ancient blood.”

For the first time, Caroline smiled slightly. Vitus cocked his head at the gesture. “You find that amusing?”

“No,” Caroline said, “I find it…comforting.”

“Comforting? You do have an unusual mind, don’t you?” Vitus said. “What are you thinking right now?” he asked.

“I’m thinking about your overconfidence and your misjudgment,” Caroline said. “And how it allowed us to get the better of you.”

Vitus grinned. He opened his mouth as if to laugh at her, but blood came out instead. He looked down at his chest and blinked. The point of a spear stuck out through him.

He twisted around and gaped at Angelica standing with the spear in her hands.

“I’m the one you needed to worry about,” Angelica said, twisting the spear. “Emotion can be even more powerful than logic. Especially when it’s anger.”

The man immediately tore himself out from under Vitus and got to his feet. Lightning fast, he retrieved the carving knife from the floor and gripped Vitus in a chokehold with the blade to his throat.

“I know the spear in your heart will only weaken you, but don’t forget I know how to finish the job,” the man spat. He turned to his daughters, wasting no time to applaud them for executing their part of the plan so well. “Your mother?”

BOOK: Jack Templar and the Lord of the Vampires
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