About Vampires of the Scarlet Order:
Vampires of the Scarlet Order is an action-adventure novel with a touch of romance. It tells the story of an elite cadre of vampire mercenaries who have worked throughout history as pinpoint assassins. Under the command of Desmond, Lord Draco, the Scarlet Order was involved in wars with the Ottoman Empire, The French Revolution and even the conquest of the Americas. Now, at the dawn of the 21st century, vampires are too expensive, too untrustworthy, and frankly, too passé for governments to employ any longer. Nanotechnology can be employed to engineer more reliable super soldiers. However, governments might be tampering with powers they don’t really understand. The elemental forces of the universe bring the vampires of the scarlet order together to put a stop to the humans’ dangerous experiments.
Here’s a sample of what people are saying:
“A novel with bite. An amalgam of Blade and The Name of the Rose with a touch of X-Files thrown in for good measure.” Neal Asher, author of Gridlinked and The Skinner.
“We now have our very own Southwestern vampire lore and tradition thanks to the imagination and painstaking research of Summers.” S. Derrickson Moore, The Las Cruces Sun-News.
“Worthy… the vampires form the Scooby-Doo gang to fight evil. They must infiltrate Los Alamos and rescue fellow vampires being used for government weapon’s research.” Fred Cleaver, The Denver Post.
“Summers writes richly, making us care about and identify with the ultimate group of outsiders who band together to protect the human race from its destructiveness and ultimate lack of humanity… This is a fun book to sink your teeth into and a good addition to the libraries of those readers with a taste for inventive vampire fiction.” Roy Van der Aa, The Ink.
Excerpt from Vampires of the Scarlet Order:
From Rudolfo de Córdoba’s writings of 1491:
“Rudolfo, come quickly, your father has been killed!”
I heard Don Diego’s cry as my hand was exploring a nun’s supple breast and my mouth was caressing the exquisite curve of her neck. Sister Inez gasped and I sat up in a whirlwind of disbelief and distress over the news of my father’s demise. Admittedly, I was also peeved by the interruption of my afternoon’s recreation.
“Rudolfo, where are you?” called Don Diego.
I was behind a hedgerow, against the whitewashed wall of the cathedral of Córdoba in Spain. The year was 1491, and I was hurriedly lacing up my shirt while Sister Inez adjusted her dress and hair. Before I continue, I should explain that Sister Inez was by no means a corrupt nun. Rather, like many of the Castilian clergy in those days, she was well aware that she was a creature of both the spirit and the flesh. Her spirit was firmly committed to Jesus Christ. It just so happens that a few moments before, her body had been committed to me. That day, I had been repairing plasterwork around the cathedral, when Sister Inez brought me lunch and an offer of an hour’s distraction. In many parts of Spain, the Inquisition insisted that nuns wear black robes to distinguish themselves from ordinary parishioners. However, we in Córdoba had run our Grand Inquisitor out of town over a year before. Little did we know at that time how strong the Inquisition would ultimately become.
“Rudolfo!” Don Diego’s voice took on a frantic edge.
“I’m sorry about your father,” whispered Sister Inez sincerely as she brushed my cheek gently with her soft lips. “You’d better go to Don Diego now.”
Taking a deep breath, I stood, then stepped through a break in the hedge. My father’s friend, Don Diego, looked agitatedly along the length of the cathedral as I went up to him. Clapping my hands on his shoulders, I turned him away from the opening in the hedgerow and looked him in the eyes. “My father’s dead?” I asked, not quite grasping the reality of those words.
Don Diego nodded rapidly. Behind him, Sister Inez crept around the corner of the hedgerow, making her way back to the cathedral. “Don Ricardo was shot by none other than Ibrahim Yousef, Vizier to the Granadan Emir,” explained Diego.
My hands fell to my sides and my knees threatened to give way. My father was a captain in the Córdoban militia. He and his caballeros had been sent by the Queen to render aid to the garrison that surrounded Granada: the last stronghold of the Moors in Spain. Don Diego led me to a stone bench and helped me sit. Covering my face, I hid my lack of tears. Though I mourned my father’s passing, few tears remained. A few years before, the black plague had taken many of my family: my beloved wife, my lovely children and my faithful brother. My father and a handful of cousins were all I had left. The church – and Sister Inez – offered some comfort, but I still felt isolated and lonely. “How did it happen?” I whispered.
“It was yesterday evening, shortly after sunset,” said Don Diego. “Your father’s men heard a pistol report and ran to investigate. They found your father atop a knoll, shot in the back of the head. They saw the vizier – Yousef – fleeing to the safety of Granada. Several of the caballeros tried to stop Yousef, but he reached the city walls before they could bring him to justice.”
Many in the church said the Black Plague was a punishment sent by God. I wondered how a benevolent God could punish innocents such as my children; surely they had not lived lives of excess and corruption. I found myself wishing for a way to avenge my wife and children, but how can one achieve vengeance when the punishment comes directly from God “Like any father’s punishments, God’s punishments do not always seem just, but one must trust that they are,” said Father Jimenez when I’d confessed my thoughts to him. Father Jimenez was lucky that there was a wall between us or I would have struck him. Instead, I went home, did my penance, and resigned myself to the fact that there was nothing I could do about the plague, no matter how unhappy I felt. A man, not the plague, had murdered my father. Murder was a crime that could be avenged. “I must join the garrison at Santa Fé,” I told Don Diego. “Only by helping take Granada, can I do justice to the memory of my father.”
“Your father wanted you here,” protested the old man, twisting at the ends of his bushy gray mustache. “You’re his only surviving heir.”
“That may be, but who will inherit the hacienda from me?” I growled. “What will my father’s house mean to me if I allowed his murder to go unchallenged?”
“Your father’s murderer will likely be executed when Granada falls,” said Don Diego, trying to talk sense into me. “The city is surrounded, cut off from supplies. It’s only a matter of time before the Moors will be forced to surrender.”
I stood, stalking off. “I’m going to Santa Fé!”
Don Diego rolled his eyes and leaped from the bench, following as closely as his short, arthritic legs would allow. “When?”
“This afternoon. There’s still plenty of light. I can be there before sunset,” I declared.
“You won’t get there until nightfall, Rudolfo! You’re more likely to be shot by one of the guards than welcomed as a soldier.”
“My father’s horses are fast, I’ll get there before sunset!” I shouted, striding away, leaving a breathless Don Diego in my wake. A short way from the hallowed ground of the church, I found my horse, pulled myself on and rode out to my father’s small hacienda on the outskirts of Córdoba. It was almost a joke to call the property a “hacienda.” We only had a few olive trees and a press for making olive oil to sell at market. Still, the land did have plenty of grass and we were able to raise a few horses. We sold some of the horses to caballeros and would-be caballeros to supplement our meager income. Even with that, I still needed to sell my masonry skills. One man could not support our land by himself.
Within half an hour, I arrived at the hacienda. Without pausing, I led my horse to her stall. A little further into the stables, I found one of the mighty Arabian stallions that were my father’s pride and joy. I saddled the stallion and rode as fast as I could toward the ancient city of Granada.
The sun was low on the horizon and long shadows carpeted the ground as I rode up to the great fortress city of Santa Fé; headquarters of the garrison surrounding Granada. Isabella the Catholic and her husband Ferdinand sometimes called the great fortress city their home. There seemed too few guards around the fortress for the Queen and King to be in residence. Still, I rode up cautiously. “Hola,” I called when I was within shouting distance of the fortress wall.
“Hola,” came the response. “Who goes there?”
“A lone caballero come to join the holy cause of the Reconquest,” I called.
“Wait there,” called the gate man. “The archers have you in their sights. If you move, you will die.”
“I will not move,” I acknowledged, then patted my horse’s black neck, calming him.
Soon, a gate man rode down the trail from the fortress. “It is not wise to approach Santa Fé at night, Señor. Where do you come from?”
“From Córdoba,” I answered.
“You should have waited until morning to volunteer,” he said. “Come, follow me.” The gate man spurred his horse on, up the trail. I followed closely behind. He led me through the gates of Santa Fé. There, he had me dismount at a horse block. A stable hand took charge of my horse while a man in light armor came out to the courtyard and spoke to the mounted gate man. The lightly armored man nodded to me and indicated that I should follow him. We went inside one of the buildings, where I was led down a dark, dank stairway. The guard opened the door of an underground room, went in and lit three candles on a simple wooden table. He motioned that I should sit in the room’s solitary chair. “The Grand Inquisitor will be along to see you shortly,” explained the guard.
The words filled me with dread, though I’m not really sure why. As a devout Catholic, I had nothing to fear from the Inquisition. The guard turned and left the room, leaving the door slightly ajar. I wasn’t a prisoner, but I didn’t feel welcome to leave the room either. From the chair, I peered into the shadowed corners of the room, trying to discern what was there. I grew cold in the dark little room and the hairs on my arms stood on edge.
Hours seemed to crawl by before the door swung fully open to reveal a tall, gaunt priest in austere black robes. The priest’s white hair stood out from his head, as though he were a wild man. I stood, showing my respect, but the priest waved me back into the chair. “I am Father Miguel García, Grand Inquisitor of Granada and Santa Fé. Why have you come at this late hour?”
“I am sorry, Father,” I said, sincerely. “I am Rudolfo de Córdoba, son of Don Ricardo de Córdoba, a militia captain.”
“Ah… The captain killed yesterday morning by Abu Abdallah’s heretical advisor,” said Father Miguel, nodding. “Though your father was not a friend, most Córdobans are not, he was a good commander. He will be sorely missed.”
“I wish to challenge this Ibrahim Yousef to a duel for the cowardly murder of my father,” I said forcefully.
“That may prove difficult,” said Father Miguel. “Yousef is safe inside Granada.”
“I would, at least, like to join the caballeros blockading the city. In some small way, it would allow me to honor my father’s memory.” I said.
“Yes…” Father Miguel peered over his beak-like nose with dark eyes, like a raptor, ready to strike. “Your story is certainly convincing. You even look like Don Ricardo. But, how do I know your story is true?” Father Miguel folded his arms and began pacing. His words took on a hard edge. “I could just as easily believe that Yousef shot Don Ricardo as a ruse. Under cover of darkness he sends one of his people out of Granada, lets him ride off a few miles, then come back, claiming to be the son of the man killed the day before. That man would then be a spy in our midst. It’s a plan worthy of Yousef.”
“I assure you, I’m not a spy!” At that moment, I regretted not heeding Don Diego’s advice to remain in Córdoba.
“Draco?” called Father Miguel, peering over my head.
“He is telling the truth.” A deep, oddly accented voice echoed from one end of the room. I whirled around and peered into the gloom behind me. I could just make out the outline of a man, his eyes reflecting the room’s wan candlelight. I could have sworn the man had not been there before, nor had he entered with Father Miguel. “This man is indeed the son of Don Ricardo and has ridden out to help with the crusade against the Moors.” It took me a moment, but I finally recognized the man’s English accent.
“Indeed!” Father Miguel’s dangerous brooding metamorphosed into an even more dangerous glee. The priest looked from me to the shadowy figure in the back of the room. “Could the Caballeros Escarlata use a man who desires the death of Ibrahim Yousef?”
“I planned to assign the matter to Roquelaure,” said the shadowy Englishman, firmly.
“But you said yourself that Roquelaure is not always reliable in these matters, that he might be better used in other areas.”
“That is true.”
“Would this man serve you better than Roquelaure?” asked Father Miguel.
The Englishman slowly emerged from the shadows. I lost my breath. His skin was extraordinarily pale, almost translucent. He was dressed completely in black; a cloak covered a black jerkin and leggings. These were not a priest’s vestments. Rather they were the raiment of a noble. The Englishman’s hair was short and combed back, giving him a regal appearance, not like the wild-haired Grand Inquisitor. “Rudolfo here is a man of great passion,” said the English nobleman, looking me over. “I sense that he is alone in the world. He may well do.”
As the nobleman spoke, I saw fangs, much like a dog’s in his mouth. I shrank down. “Am I to understand that the Grand Inquisitor consorts with demons?”
Father Miguel chuckled. “Not demonio. Vampiro,” he said, as
though that would make everything clear.
“I am Desmond, Lord Draco – Knight Commander of the Scarlet Order.” The demonic nobleman introduced himself. “My brethren are known by varying names throughout the world. Here in Spain and in Rome we are called vampiro or vampire. Perhaps you’ve heard of the apes of distant India. They are similar, but different, from man. So are we.”
“Apes?” I asked, growing more confused. I had never heard of creatures that were similar, yet different from men. Though I knew of India and the Far East, I was ignorant of the beasts that lived in those places. I looked at Draco’s translucent skin and his animalistic eyes. “I was not aware that creatures such as you inhabited the islands of Britain.”
Father Miguel shook his head. “It is premature to presume that Lord Draco is a natural creature. What’s important is that the Pope has never ruled that vampires are demons.”
“We are not demons,” said Draco, his jaw set. He turned and looked at me. “We are transcendent creatures possessing great power.” Silently, Draco moved across the floor toward me, looking into my eyes the whole time and speaking softly. “Do you know how old I am?”
“I would say you are a man of nearly 40, if I do not miss my guess.” Draco seemed only a little older than I was.
“Ah, but you do miss your guess. I am over a thousand years old.” Draco smiled at my shock, as he put one of his hands on my shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. My shoulder joint felt as though it would snap in his grasp. “Not only are we virtually immortal, we are very strong.”
“Vampires make excellent warriors,” added Father Miguel.
“I have the power to make you a vampire,” explained Draco. “You could join the Scarlet Order and I could grant you the opportunity for the very revenge you seek.”
I stood quickly, upsetting my chair, and backed toward the wall. “I do not want to become a monster – demon or not. Revenge is not worth that price.”
I found myself falling under the spell of Draco’s eyes again. “You would never be plagued by death,” he said.
“What is the price of such a miracle?” I asked.
“You will need to feast on human blood in order to survive,” said Father Miguel bluntly as he stepped to the center of the room and righted the chair. “You will never again be able to walk in sunlight.”
“And what becomes of my immortal soul?”
“That’s up to God and the Pope,” said Father Miguel with a shrug.
Draco looked away, releasing me from the power of his gaze. “This offer is neither given lightly nor should you accept it lightly. You will be able to avenge your father’s death, but after that, what will you do with immortality? Most choose to hide and become true creatures of darkness. A few of us, though, have chosen to serve human causes. Of course, service is fraught with its own difficulties. Though the powers of good and evil do not change, the clothes they wear often do.” Draco inclined his head toward Father Miguel. “One’s loyalties must remain flexible.”
“Are you saying you’re a mercenary?” I asked, finding my tongue.
Draco’s nod was barely perceptible. “Though I must live exclusively at night, I do not wish to remain in the shadows. That choice requires gold. Otherwise, I must live in a cave or worse.”
Slowly, I crept toward Father Miguel. Though he was an Inquisitor, I somehow felt safer by his side than by Draco’s. “This is not an easy decision,” I said. “I would like time to consider.”
“You will have until tomorrow night. If you are safely ensconced in your chambers after sunset tomorrow, we will respect your wish to remain human. If, instead, you are out on the western ramparts of the city, we will know you wish to join our order,” said Draco, simply. “If you do not join us, Father Miguel will take you to the Córdoban militia unit your father commanded. You may join them, if they will have you.”
I swallowed hard and looked to Father Miguel. “How do I choose?”
“Pray,” he said simply.
“And, if God doesn’t answer?”
Father Miguel was as silent as I feared God himself would be.
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