Authors: Clay Griffith
The Rift Walker
Published 2015 by PyrÂ®, an imprint of Prometheus Books
The Geomancer: Vampire EmpireâA Gareth and Adele Novel
. Copyright Â© 2015 by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, digital, electronic, mechanical, photocopyÂing, recording, or otherwise, or conveyed via the Internet or a website without prior written permission of the publisher, exÂcept in the case of brief quotations emÂbodied in critical articles and reviews.
Cover design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger
Cover illustration Â© Chris McGrath
This is a work of fiction. Characters, locales, and events portrayed in this novel either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Inquiries should be addressed to
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, New York 14228
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The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows:
The geomancer : vampire empire: a Gareth and Adele novel / by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith.
pages ; cm
ISBN 978-1-63388-094-8 (pbk.) â ISBN 978-1-63388-095-5 (e-book)
1. VampiresâFiction. I. Griffith, Susan, 1963- II. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
“This city is dead. Stop jumping at shadows.”
“It's not dead,” came the return mumble. “I hear things at night; whispers, hissing.”
Ruins of jagged stone surrounded the two soldiers as they made their rounds. Once grand streets overflowed with dark foliage and twisted vines that had reclaimed their territory. Narrow alleys buried in perpetual shadow led to dim warrens and long abandoned courtyards. Debris that littered the ground included long discarded garbage, crumbled walls, and piles of bones covered in ash.
“There are no more monsters here in London,” the sergeant insisted sternly in Arabic. “They're all gone. We're here now to see that it stays safe. What you're hearing is just the remains of the vampires' human herds. They've taken refuge in what's left of these old buildings.”
The second trooper held up a lantern to ward off the shadows that appeared to creep closer. The trembling lantern barely illuminated five feet in front of them as they walked the darkened path. Both men clutched pistols.
The sergeant kicked a skull that hosted sharp canine teeth. “I was at Grenoble. I saw with my own eyes vampires turning to dust before the might of our empress. And she did worse here. None of those monsters can set foot on these consecrated lands.”
A low moan sounded from ahead and the lantern's light caught a pale white shape. The young private gasped and his pistol swung toward the ghostly figure as it shuffled out of sight. “Was that one of themâthe herds?”
“Probably. Let's make sure. The damn fool wasn't wearing a stitch of clothes. It will die of the cold for sure on a night like this.”
“Why bother? If it's stupid enough to stand out here, maybe it isn't worth saving.”
“It's been a slave its entire life. It doesn't know any better. But it's still human. Sort of.”
The two soldiers weaved toward the spot where they had seen the figure. Thin footprints in the light snow led them further down an alley. Amidst the rubble stood a building. The door was nothing more than a plank of wood, but that had been shoved to the side. Shining their lanterns into the dark structure, they called out in English, “We are Equatorian soldiers. We've come to check on you.”
Low whimpers answered, along with some shuffling sounds. The lantern light penetrated a corner where dirty blank faces stared back. Five pitiful human forms huddled together, their bony arms clutching one another. Rationed blankets lay crumpled at their feet.
“Bah. They are even too stupid to know what a blanket is for,” muttered the nervous young trooper.
The sergeant stopped his companion's grumble with a hard hand on his shoulder. There was another noise coming from the dark. A high-pitched keening and then grunts like an animal foraging.
Trying to keep his hand steady, the private swung his light. The yellow beam illuminated a lone woman standing with head bowed. She was nude, swaying on her feet. She was young, maybe twenty. Strands of unkempt blond hair lay in a tangled curtain about her face. This was the pale figure that had led them to this place.
“Here now,” the young man spoke, his tone suddenly softer, feeling ashamed for his prior scorn. “You're safe.”
It was then he realized that the grunting wasn't coming from her. The shifting light caught the sudden reflected glow of an animal's eyes just behind her.
“Something's in here with them,” he shouted.
A clawed hand stroked the naked woman's hair, almost affectionately. The creature smiled a rictus grin, sharp canines flashing, and licked her bare throat. The woman moaned and bowed low.
The sergeant's lantern struck the same corner just as three new figures rose from the floor. Long arms dangled from thin pale bodies. They quivered and twitched, their muscles caught in some sort of palsied excitement. At their feet, four others crouched over a pile of prone bodies. Their heads jerked up and their grunting quieted as gazes locked onto new prey. Gaping mouths dripped black with fresh blood suckled from the torn throats of their victims.
The monsters had lured them here. The soldiers lifted their pistols, and gunfire boomed in the small chamber. The vampires lunged from the circles of light. Screams erupted as weapons and lanterns tumbled to the floor. The naked woman stood motionless, caught in a fallen beam of light, her expression slack as she watched the sickening feast at the doorway. She didn't even blink, but stood waiting.
Then the lantern lights flickered out and the charnel house went dark.
Adele walked through the weedy grounds of Greyfriars kirkyard. She found comfort in the long rows of funerary markers and in the crumbling church. Her fingers drifted across grave markers that were no longer legible. Mossy stone skulls stared at her as she passed. Heavy gates lay askew and black iron cages sat on the ground, mortsafes intended to keep out grave robbers.
A bright moon shone through the leaves, giving her a shadow on the grass. The air was warm and Adele wore only a nightgown, which she briefly thought odd. Buttercups swayed in clumps below the tombs. Crocuses grew along the walls of the church.
Footfalls through the grass brought Adele around. A figure in a long kimono of green silk came through the moonlight. Short, compact, powerful, the man strode toward Adele with a smile on his face.
“Mamoru.” Adele was excited to see her old teacher. It seemed like it had been a long time. His presence usually brought something new and fascinating. He didn't speak, although she longed to hear his deep voice. It was always reassuring.
She held out her hands to take his as he approached. “I'm so glad to see you. I was reading the last book you gave me, and I have a question about the permanent positioning of rifts in the Earth.” Adele felt his strong fingers intertwine with hers and a familiar warmth spread through her. “I have questions about crystallography as well.”
Her hands hurt. Mamoru was squeezing them. He stared at her with eyes like the iron gates on the graves around them. He sneered and twisted her hands. The pain drove her to her knees.
“Don't,” Adele cried in confusion. “What have I done?”
He dragged her toward a stone sarcophagus. She struggled but found herself shoved flat until her back pressed against the cold marble. She didn't move even after he released her hands, her limbs strangely numb. Bewilderment turned to terror.
Suddenly Adele stood beside Mamoru, looking at him as well as down at her own body where he had placed her atop the sarcophagus. She looked so young lying there. She watched as he produced crystals from his robe and placed one on her supine form.
Mamoru turned away and walked about the kirkyard. He carried an instrument that was something like a maritime sextant with crystals at principle points. He took readings with the scryer, set a crystal carefully on the ground, and then proceeded to chart a place for another.
Adele followed him as he went about his complex task. She pointed back at her body lying on the crypt. “I beg you, don't do this. I'm your student. And you taught my mother before me. I have honored you for all these years.”
Mamoru stopped with a yellow crystal in his hand and regarded her. He then set that stone on the ground. Without another glance at her, he returned to the tomb where she lay. Adele could feel the power of the Earth awaken under her feet. The life force of several rifts roared in her ears like the sound of water rushing through hidden pipes.
“Get up!” Adele shouted at her immobile self on the moss-speckled tomb. That version of herself looked so young and innocent. “Don't be afraid. You have the power to stop this!”
Mamoru made one final adjustment to the crystal that rested on the chest of her younger self. Adele stiffened as if she were stone too. Fire from the hungry Earth reached up and seized her. She was dragged down through the graves of Greyfriars. The skeletons stared as she fell far below their loamy houses. She felt the hellish heat and smelled a sickening mÃ©lange of scents from across the world. The normally melodious crystalline tones clanged and smashed around her. The burning silver rifts swept her along.
The power tore at her flesh, eating its way inside. It swirled through her, using her as a lens to focus itself. Then it ripped out, surging back into the rifts, spreading like flaming blood in the veins of the Earth.
Far to the south of Edinburgh, across the border into northern England where the vampires lived, the dying began. The creatures sensed the coming wave only seconds before it struck. From the ground came silver fire that poured over them. They screamed with a horrible agony that none had ever known. They writhed and fell. Their flesh turned to ash leaving white bones scattered across the countryside.