Emerian Rich, who is affectionately known as Emz, has guest contributed for us before, has a story in our Shadow People and Cursed Objects: 13 Tales of Terror Based on True Stories…or are they? anthology, has been on our show…and will be back November 14, 2017 to discuss the book in this post. It’s her newest release, Dusk’s Warriors (Night’s Knights Vampire Series) (Volume 2).
Courtney was kind enough to let me share an excerpt from my new book Dusk’s Warriors. One of the locations in the book is Hell and here is my vision of what it’s like.
Excerpt from Dusk’s Warriors:
It wasn’t pleasant for Ridge, lying in a puddle of mud, the pungent liquid drenching his skin, the cold night air pushing through his worn clothes, but it had to be endured. The Drog left him with no other escape. They’d never chance a trip below.
So, Ridge sunk into the dark soil, feeling his skin crawl as insects passed, scurrying away for fear they may get sucked into the underworld. The darkness touched Ridge, filled him, and consumed him with the thought of dying. Then the pain came, but he was able to concentrate enough to pull himself out of the mire. He crawled from the hill of the damned and made his way on to the muddy path. He knew the place too well. Through the cave, over the cavern of burning lava, and into the tunnel would land him right into the heart of Hell.
The kids were always on his tail. You do one bad thing for the devil and they think you’re a lifer. When he’d burnt down his orphanage, he thought it would be the one and only deal he’d make with the bastard from below.
Approaching forty, Ridge knew it had been a downward slope. Mr. D. had promised him freedom, a home, and a good family to live with if he did one little task. It seemed too easy, but how did Ridge know it would lead to a life on the run?
The tunnel glowed a little brighter than usual and as Ridge walked near the arch, stumbling over wailing souls only long ago human, he could see the cause. Although only as bright as the dullest city light, Satan’s fake sun looked brighter. It shone like an old porch light with dead bugs caught inside, blocking out sections of light, or a molded orange with only small spots of bright light remaining.
“Yessss, it is beautiful, isn’t it?” Satan’s voice broadcasted across Hell, demanding the attention of all in his realm. “It is bright! I can feel the warmth coming to me, touching my soulssss. I will feel it again, the one up there, but for now we must make our own and thissss… This is spectacular.” Satan’s large, robed form faced the patchy orb. He held his hands up as if the dim light soaked into them like campfire heat.
As he approached Satan, a cold dread crept up Ridge’s spine. The Devil had a presence beyond dark and foreboding. His lengthy frame stood tall among his minions, his build a perfect human form. With a bald, tanned head and black eyes shiny like beetles, he instilled fear at first sight. Yet, in his presence, Ridge found it hard to determine if the demon wanted to devour or seduce him.
“Ridge!” A grin spread across his face, revealing double rows of sharp teeth. “The Drog on your tail again, boy?”
Ridge didn’t have to answer. The only reason he ever journeyed below of his own accord was the Drog.
“Admire my ssssun.” The word ‘sun’ curled into a laugh as it escaped his lips.
Ridge obeyed, studying the orb. It did seem brighter than weeks before. What powered it? More accurately, what deed would Satan expect him to fulfill to make the sun brighter? Protection in Hell wasn’t free, he knew all too well.
“Ah, the price. So soon in your journey? You are getting jaded, young Ridge.” Satan locked his long fingers together and stood as if about to give Mass.
“Not jaded, just realistic.” Ridge pulled a cigarette from his jean jacket pocket and lit up.
“Let us retire to my quarters. We will have a glass of wine, speak of old times…” He led the way, his brown velvet cloak dragging on the rugged path and his Cuban heels leaving pits in the soil.
Ridge would never drink his wine. He’d tried that trick many times, but it didn’t work. Drink wine from the Devil? Never.
“I hate that name,” Satan said. “It’s so… Well, I don’t like it. My name use to be Jonathan you know? Why don’t you call me Jonathan?”
“You’ve told me that story before and I still don’t believe it.”
“Believe it. My name was something else before, but I try to forget that word too.” He smirked, pressing open the door to his chambers. “Take a seat, boy. By the way, like my new decor? Top of the line in your world. The artist had a few favors to repay me. Of course, you know my interest is sssky high!” His menacing chuckle reverberated in the cavern and several demon laughs echoed back.
“At such a rate, one could lose his life.” Ridge sat in a brown leather chair facing a lacquered cherrywood desk. “So, what do I owe you for this little stay?” Ridge asked, ignoring his antics.
“Hum…let’s see… Perhaps something to make my ssssun a little brighter? You do know what makes it shine, don’t you?” The Devil grinned, his eyebrow cocked.
Ridge didn’t give him the satisfaction of saying ‘no’.
“The ssssouls of children!” He laughed.
Ridge breathed deeply. His jokes got old real quick.
“You know me too well, Ridge. Really you must become my assistant. If not, one day, I’ll have to kill you.”
Despite his joking manner, Ridge knew he wasn’t joking. Every time he ventured into the underworld, he risked not coming back out.
“My sssun is made of immortals. Too bad there are so damn few of them left, but there are a few yet. Your job is to find them and bring them here. That’s all.”
“That’s all? Just bring immortals here? You are insane.”
“You forget I can give you an advantage over them. I have power, too.”
“No. I won’t use your evil powers to lure people here. You might as well do it yourself.” Ridge had made himself a promise from the start. He would never get into the ‘power’ stuff. At least in the mortal world, Ridge was still his own man. He didn’t want to get hooked, become a power junkie.
“Well then, I’ll give you an easy one, a newborn babe. Yet his brightness will strengthen my ssssun more than the others perhaps.” The Devil’s eyes sparkled deep red in the dim light. “You will need this.” He pulled out a long gold chain from around his neck. At the end was an ornate skeleton key. A symbol like a Celtic knot flowed into the stem of the key, which ended in a fearsomely sharp point.
“What’s that for?”
“To transport the sssouls to me, pierce their ssskin, let it taste a little blood, and the sssoul is mine.”
Ridge took the chain and instead of wearing it around his neck, put it in his jacket pocket. He didn’t want to take a change the thing might scratch him and take his soul.
“You will find the details in your inside pocket, and please, take the street scum you lured into my world out with you.”
“Someone followed me in?” Ridge hadn’t noticed anyone on the docks but the Drog. Had one of them? No, they wouldn’t dare.
“Yes, your new assistant. Now go. Bring me the ssssoul.”
Ridge ran down the tunnel toward the mortal world for fear the Devil might burn him there, turning him into one of the charcoal and pus atrocities he jumped over to get out.
Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich
Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.
Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.
Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?
Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:
“All hail, the queen of Night’s Knights has returned! Emerian Rich’s unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shaurette, Lilith’s Love
“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won’t be able to put down.”
~David Watson, The All Night Library
Praise for Night’s Knights:
“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor
“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder
Emerian Rich is an artist, horror host, and author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights. She is the hostess of the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net. Under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal, she writes the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and she’s the Editorial Director for the Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.