War of the Staffs (Book one of the War of the Staffs trilogy) by Steve Stephenson
War of the staffs (book one of The War of the Staffs trilogy) takes place on a world called Muiria, where a powerful vampire wizard named Taza is brought through the void, space between the planets, by a vengeful goddess named Adois.
Taza slowly convinces the Illanni, a race of dark elves, to take on the cloak of vampirism.
Nearly two thousand years pass before the scheming wizard makes his move. But his careful planning is jeopardized when Prince Tarquin is born to fulfill a prophecy and confront the evilest creature Muiria has ever known. The Prince, however, cannot succeed alone, and when Morganna, an Illanni noble woman, threatens Taza’s plans by starting an underground movement against him, she strikes her severest blow when she saves Tarquin’s life.
He is also championed by the wizard Celedant, and the young man is sent to the dwarvan army to learn combat skills. Then the wizard begins his search for the Staff of Adaman – the only object capable of defeating Taza.
Tarquin and Celedant’s epic journey spans the continent where they face not only a vampire wizard, but orcs, demons, liches and other monstrosities. War of the Staffs begins the search for the first of two pieces of ancient staff as Taza’s assassins hunt the Prince to thwart the prophecy. Tarquin, however, is not the only target. Celedant must confront not only assassins, but powerful and dangerous creatures that Taza brings through the void to destroy the wizard as well as the growing resistance among the dwarves and Wood Elves.
By the end of the epic tail Celedant collects a piece of the Staff of Adaman, while Tarquin transforms from teenage boy to a commanding officer.
Targeted Age Group:: All Audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book originated from a creative writing class I had in high school. It was written as a short story and emerged later as a full book. I have to credit this dream to my high school english teacher.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters of the book originated from my own mind. I studied what type of character I needed and mentally designed him/her. It is truly an unimaginable thrill to see the character come to life before your eyes.
Taza, a vampire of indeterminable age, stood in the dark room of the tower. Red tapestries and smoldering torches added to the sense of evil in his lair and he paced back and forth like a caged lion, forever trapped in the tower by Muiria’s yellow sun. It was different on the planet where he had been born. There the sun had nurtured the vampiric nature of his people.
It was not yet time for him to tempt fate again. Doing so then had brought about his banishment to the void from his home world and he would not be so naïve this time. He would trust no one, and he would be sure of success before exposing himself to outright danger.
He decided to strike quickly now in hope of destroying the old prophecy and preventing its fulfillment. He summoned an illanni vampire, an assassin schooled in the dark arts by the evil elves of the underworld. Despres had the platinum blond hair and black eyes of the underground race of elves as well as the bulging muscles enhanced by his vampiric power. He stood in front of Taza, waiting his orders.
Taza motioned to a font and with a tap of his staff, the likeness of a Parthian boy appeared, standing beside a middle-aged man, a wizard by all appearances.
“This boy is part of an age-old prophecy. He must die,” the undead warlock stated. “He is of Royal Parthian blood, and if allowed to live, he will bring peace — curse him — and ruin my plans to transform this planet to a world populated by vampires. He is the youngest son. I send you to Partha to destroy this dire prophecy before it can mature. After you have killed him, use this amulet to return to me.”
Taza extended the Staff of Adois and whispered, “Transportae.”
* * *
Despres was teleported to a rooftop in Partha. He hunched down when he saw a boy fitting the prince’s description approach a carriage. The driver bowed and opened the door for him.
“We’re off to retrieve my lady for tonight’s party,” the jaunty young man said.
“Very good, my lord.”
A moment later the coach took off. The assassin sprinted across the sloping roofs of the buildings that lined the thoroughfare and vaulted across a wide street, advancing a block ahead of the vehicle. As the carriage approached, Despres drew on his magical powers and projected an image of a crowded street ahead. The driver steered toward a side road to avoid the confusion. As the carriage veered in the direction Depres wanted, he cast a sleep spell. The driver slumped over while the horses continued to pull the vehicle down the deserted street.
As they drew abreast of his position, Despres stepped off the building, shot through the roof of the sedan and landed gracefully on the floor in front of the startled passenger. The leather seat barely creaked as the vampire sat down across from the boy, face to face now with his quarry.
“Tis a pleasure to meet you, your highness,” Despres said, his fangs, a gift from his master, glistening in the light of the lantern that hung inside the coach. “And a better pleasure to kill you.”
The boy was quick and pulled out a dirk to strike at the assassin, but he was no match against vampiric strength. Despres caught his wrist and snapped the young man’s arm, catching the knife by the handle as it fell.
“What are you?” the boy shrieked. “Why do you want to kill me?”
“I am your death,” Despres answered and grinned at the confusion on his victim’s face. “As to why I’m going to kill you…let’s just say you’ve been destined to die since birth.”
With a powerful thrust, the vampire jammed the dirk into the prince’s chest.
The urge to slake his thirst was difficult to overcome, but Taza had been adamant. This had to appear as a robbery. The speed that the vampire moved was faster than the human eye could see and in seconds all the boy’s valuables were in a sack.
Depres jumped straight up and landed behind the driver, slit his throat and removed a small leather bag of coins from the dead man’s pockets. Drawing on his power, he triggered the device that Lord Taza had given him.
His triumphant return to Taza’s chamber, however, soon turned to fear.
* * *
The undead warlock stood before his font. It still displayed the young man Despres thought he had just killed.
“Why have you returned?” Taza asked.
“I just killed the boy, master.”
Taza whirled to face him, his eyes blazing red with anger.
“The boy still lives! Otherwise the font would not continue to show him with Celedant the wizard.”
“But I stabbed him in the heart, my lord! He can’t possibly still be alive.”
“The incompetence! You obviously murdered the wrong boy!” Taza shouted as he struck Despres a mighty blow that sent him flying across the room and into the far wall. “Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you where you stand.”
Shaking with a fear, Despres staggered to his feet, crossed the room and dropped to his knees in front of his master. “Please, my lord, he looked just like the boy in the vision.”
“Could he have a twin? No, that’s not possible.”
“Let me return. I’ll kill the other as well,” Despres begged.
“No. It is too late for that. They will double the guard as soon as they discover this body. We’ll have to wait for another opportunity.”
“Then you’ll give me another chance?”
“Yes, but if you fail me again…” Taza’s voice trailed off.
“Yes, master, I understand. Thank you. Thank you,” Despres said as he jumped to his feet and fled the room.
“You were lucky this time, Parthian,” Taza said as he turned to stare at the image in the font. “But rest assured. Next time, I will destroy you and the prophecy as well.
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