Cover Reveal: Pathogen: Patient Zero

•February 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

My good friend Kai Kiriyama has been very busy of late. She’s writing up a storm and has a new book coming out soon, Pathogen: Patient Zero. It’s available for preorder right now from Smashword, with others to follow. Ready for a look at the cover? Sure you are.

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Isn’t it pretty? Now for a little information about Pathogen: Patient Zero.

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Every outbreak starts somewhere…

A young girl, hospitalized with a violent strain of the flu.

The charismatic doctor who promises that she’s going to be okay.

A nightmare virus that threatens to destroy them both.

Reduced to the title of Zero, she is dehumanized by her doctors into little more than a series of charts and procedures. Zero is left to her own devices, telling her story through a haze of drugs, slipping in and out of consciousness, and trying to find some kind of inner peace as the doctors hustle around her to find a cure.

From Kai Kiriyama, author of Blaze Tuesday and the Case of the Knight Surgeon and My life Beyond the Grave: The Untold Story of Vlad Dracula, comes her newest book, this dark, YA medical horror, PATHOGEN: PATIENT ZERO.

From start to end, PATHOGEN takes the reader on a journey through the death of a young woman, struck ill by what seems to be the flu. As she deteriorates, the story follows along from her point of view as she succumbs to more symptoms, and is forced to endure more and more tests while the doctors treating her look for a cure. Heartbreaking and harrowing, PATHOGEN: PATIENT ZERO journeys through the five stages of grief, and explores what it feels like for those suffering from terminal illness.

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PATHOGEN: PATIENT ZERO will be released May 15, 2015, and is available for pre-order on Smashwords.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/522496

About Kai:

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Kai Kiriyama is a writer of many things, mostly novels, of varying genres.

With diplomas in tea leaf reading, palmistry, crystal divination, and crystal healing, it’s no surprise to see novels reflecting the otherworldly with her name on them. Influenced by tales of magic, deception and monsters, Kai takes her genre-hopping seriously.

She currently lives in Canada with her pet snake and a looming deadline.

She can be reached by email at kai@theraggedyauthor.com

You can find Kai on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/raggedyauthor

On facebook: facebook.com/authorkaikiriyama

On her website: http://www.theraggedyauthor.com

Embracing Your YOUness

•February 21, 2015 • 2 Comments

This post is about me, but it’s also about all of us. I mentioned on Twitter a little while ago  that I’d had an epiphany. Today, I’m going to share it with you.

In the course of my recovery, my therapist and I have talked about a lot of things, and one that particularly resonated with me is the subject of self-talk. It’s something we do both consciously and unconsciously. It’s the things we say to ourselves but also how we react inwardly about things we do (or sometimes don’t do).

My self-talk is generally negative. Sometimes it borders on self-abusive even. Through it all is the theme of not being enough. Not tall enough. Not smart enough. Not worthy. Because of this, I’m constantly surprised when people around me express what I mean to them and it’s positing. I’m amazed sometimes that you guys want me around even. Most of my life, I haven’t even noticed I do this to myself. This made it harder to fight or even see what I was doing to myself.

But then I was reading a post about getting back into writing by my friend, Julie Hutchings. She talked about writing 200 words and how you’d never tell a friend essentially “that’s all?” so why do that to yourself? This is so true for me. I tell writer friends all the time that however much they wrote, that’s more words than they had which is automatically a win. I’m learning to do this for myself, to savor just getting some writing done. So far, that’s going surprisingly well.

But as I read Julie’s post, something clicked, something bigger. This is a broader thing. So often I’ve dismissed my own accomplishments as not enough, who I am as not good enough. I’ve constantly demanded more, no matter what I’ve done, how much or how well. It’s like somewhere in my head, I believe there’s some level of perfection I can achieve, even though I know perfect is a concept with no basis in reality. It is impossible. And yet I keep thinking I should do more, that I’m not enough.

In doing so, I’ve missed all the things that I am. All the things that I’ve done. I’ve sucked the joy out of my own life by refusing to appreciate myself. And I’ve decimated my self esteem, not to mention letting others trample it into oblivion, in the process. That self-talk I mentioned? These are things I would never be cruel enough to say to others, all heaped on myself. A small mistake turns into me being stupid, useless and a bad person. Because I forgot where I set my glass of water down, for example. It’s that insane for me.

From talking to others, I am certain I’m not alone in this. So many of the people I know engage in this to some extent. Raise your hand if you’ve ever engaged in this behavior, even a little. Oh my, that’s a lot of hands.

I say that stops here and now. I am at last going to work on giving myself credit for the things I’ve done and who I am. It was a long journey, at times difficult, but I’m here and on my feet. I invite you to come with me. Do it every day. Give yourself credit.

And they don’t have to be big things. Got all your items on your to-do list for today done? Celebrate that. Got the kids fed on a difficult day where you’re not feeling great or things are going wrong around you? Give yourself a pat on the back. Acknowledge the victories, even more so on hard days than easy ones.

Above all, pay attention to how you talk to yourself, the internal monologue that goes on. As I said, I hadn’t really noticed how awful mine had gotten. When I finally really listened to it, I was horrified. But now that I’m aware of it, I’m working to change it. To be less judgmental of myself, and to keep perspective. Would you believe it’s working, and better than I could have believed when I started?

We are all enough, whatever that might mean to you. But we need to acknowledge that to ourselves. To accept that we can be enough, which is a hard one for me but worth working on. This isn’t to say you can’t look at yourself with a critical eye. Doing so is part of growing. But please, let your self-criticism be constructive. “I suck” or “I’m stupid”,  which are frequent parts of my own self-talk, are not constructive. I wouldn’t say that to someone else, so why am I saying it to myself?

I still want to improve, to strive to better myself. But while I’m doing that, I’ll also celebrate myself and my accomplishments. Balance the two, you know? Don’t let the want for more take away from you the enjoyment of who you are. Don’t forget to look at yourself and remember how impressive you are. Give yourself credit for your own awesomeness. Because you are, and the sooner you acknowledge it, the happier you’ll be. And I want that. I want you guys to be happy. I want you to be free from the monumental self-judgement that’s so common these days. You all deserve it.

Just think about it, guys. Listen to your self-talk and see if maybe there’s some tweaking to be done. Some celebrating to be added. And always remember, you are more awesome than you realize.

Finding My Voice Again

•February 16, 2015 • 6 Comments

A bit of an update, and some things I want to share. To begin with, my state of being, beyond just my mind, continues to improve. Therapy is helping, group therapy even more than I ever expected. But I think the biggest reason is me. I’ve changed, and maybe in the best ways.

One of the things that I’ve been doing is talking. I withdrew a lot when things started to get bad. And then there was this gulf and I didn’t know how to bridge it or how to talk about it. How to even begin.

I lost my voice in a very real, if not so literal way.

Thanks to some very good friends, I’ve found it again. Therapy has helped with that, but I really owe it to friends who listened, who let me say what I could and not push for more. Who let me open up more as time went on and I felt up to it. Friends who reached into the darkness and have been my lifeline. Thank you. You know who you are and I’m sending you all my love.

I’m trying to take good lessons away from what’s gone on and one of them has been the importance of letting people in. Of talking about not just the good things, but also the bad ones, the imperfections and vulnerabilities in my life, with those who care about me.

I lose perspective so quickly on those bad things, both events and things others say to me. They become all consuming, larger than life and overwhelm me. Talking about it, especially with friends who are supportive and love me, helps me regain perspective, even if it’s just because they remind me that not everything that happens is my fault. Also that I’m not a horrible person. Yes, I have often thought that about myself, in the last year particularly.

Learning to talk about my recent experiences has helped in so many ways. The most important is that I feel like myself again at some moments. They’re brief, but real. In those moments, I am again the me that  was able to do things and be happy no matter what, who was and felt capable of the things she wanted to do. Reconnecting with that self has been a blessing. I’d nearly given up on the idea that I could be that person again, so finding I am still her… Wonderful.

But I’ve also learned that I need to be careful and set boundaries. I took on too much, both personally and professionally and I crumbled under it after a while. I’ve got further thoughts on this, and an epiphany to share, but I want to keep that for it’s own post. It’s important enough for that, I think.

There’s more than one voice I need to regain, of course. My writing voice is the other. It’s proving a bit more elusive, but there are signs of its return. I’ve got a story drifting around in my head about a city in a valley, one that harbors secrets. I’m writing a short story for my friend Julie’s blog. Any of you writers out there who want to put a flash fiction out there, you should go here for details.

It’s nice to feel some inspiration again, and it’s nice to have a place to share the result. Talking about this on Twitter has yielded a fair bit of support and I have to say, it’s nice to know people want to read my stuff. Energizing, really.

So while I’m not all the way back yet, there are signs of it. I’m going to be okay. I’m going to be myself again. Maybe I’m even closer to that than I realize. Some days I feel like it. Hope is a good thing, right? :)

Thanks, guys, for sticking by me through this. You’re awesome. All of you.

The Garden of my Peace

•February 4, 2015 • 9 Comments

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about what’s happened recently. The short version, that I’m doing better now than in months, really doesn’t cover it as well as I’d like to. But I’m not sure that I can express adequately the changes in thought that have led to this. Yeah, I know, I’m a writer, I should be able to do that, but right now I’m not confident in my ability to paint the picture. I’m going to try and maybe I’ll be able to feel a bit of my old faith in my words.

As I said, I’m doing better. Not 100%. That will take months. Maybe even years. I don’t know, and for the moment, I don’t care. I’m not going to worry about that right now. Instead, I will appreciate what I have, how I feel and so many other things about this moment.

That’s really one of the things that has allowed me to improve and feel this way. It’s called mindfulness, a living in the present and I’m practicing it consciously. Both in my individual and group therapy, we talk about it a lot. It’s not easy, but has made all the difference.

I was doing better, but then had a very painful couple of weeks where it felt like all the progress I’d made over the last month or so had been wiped away. This only made it worse, because I began to wonder if getting better was even possible.

One morning, about a week ago, I woke up and decided I had to change things. I had to let go. Of the things that had hurt me. Of the people involved with that. Of the past. Even of all ideas of what the future should hold. How things should have been.

I’m not sure that really conveys what I did, or how hard it was. I don’t know if I can really make anyone who has not been through something like this understand. But maybe you can a little?

It was more than just letting go of the pain and the things I feel like I’ve lost, even if some of it may never have been really real.

I decided to be grateful for even the simplest of things in my life. Sitting and patting my fluffy cat, Zedd, or burying my face in his fur as he purred away to me. The taste of my coffee. Sunshine. The sound of rain falling.

The amazing thing was how immediately it made a difference. By the end of that first day, I was smiling again. By the second, I felt like my brain, my poor overloaded, exhausted brain, was actually working again as it hasn’t for a long while now.

This isn’t to say it’s been easy. Sometimes “should have been” comes up and bites me in the ass. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping because I wake in the night hurting. But it’s progress. And every time this happens, I practice mindfulness. Zedd’s very helpful that way, often coming over in those difficult moments to bump my hand with his head for pats, his purr going full out. I love my cat so much.

I’m also grateful for the friends I have. The ones who send me a note to say they’re thinking of me. The ones who have commented on the painful posts here to tell me I’m not alone, or even just to offer hugs. The ones on Twitter who have accepted how much or little I was able to be there. The truth is that until this past week, I haven’t felt comfortable there. That’s a bit of a story all it’s own and the truth is that I don’t want to share it here.

More than anything, I am grateful for the friends who, over the past several months, have taken it upon themselves to check in with me, on FB/Twitter/Text, when I withdrew from everything. Most of those weren’t questions about how I was. They were just being there. Sharing a funny picture, or catspam or just talking with me about their stuff. I suspect I owe a lot to those people, maybe even my life, and I am so deeply appreciative of the effort these people have made. Truly, I am lucky.

I’m on the road to getting back to work. I feel like I can maybe handle it again now, especially after talking with my manager. Life is starting to move forward. I even have a story I’m slowly toying with. I’m not trying to dive back into the torrent as it used to be. I may never get back to that and I don’t care. It’s just nice to feel the stir of a story again.

Every day, I work at my mindfulness and gratitude. At recognizing the good things in my life, focusing on that rather than the things that went horribly wrong. I work at my peace. It’s like a garden to me now. I tend it and it grows. One day, it may cover my whole life, my mind and my heart. One day, but this present is enough for me.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck by me, who has helped me through this just by caring.

Heartbreak

•January 19, 2015 • 5 Comments

Please bear with me through this post. I need to get some of this out of my head, but I’m struggling with how to talk about it, so this might be a bit of a disjointed mess.

I’ve recently decided to remove certain people from my life, and it makes me sad to have done so. I had to though, because I can no longer afford to have people in my life who prove to me over and over that they don’t really care about me, or those who damage my sense of self-worth (which often is precarious to begin with). That doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. I do, because I still care about them. My mind and heart just can’t take anymore.

The most basic truth right now is that I am heartbroken. Truly and completely heartbroken. No, I don’t want to talk about why. Or at least I’m not ready to do so here, and I doubt I ever will be.

I’m working on getting better and my state of mind slowly coming around. Therapy and meds are helping, but the last week has been rough. Some days, the past year and a half come back to haunt me, to taunt me with every mistake I made or all the times I believed people who clearly weren’t what they presented themselves as. I feel stupid and foolish and naive for believing them. No amount of telling myself faith in others is always a good thing eases that feeling.

I think the worst part of it is that I’m now wary of letting new people into my life and I’m taking a long hard look at some of those who are there right now. I don’t like feeling this way. I liked who I was and I’m not sure how I feel about who I’m becoming as a result of what happened. But I’m not giving up on other people. I won’t. Maybe in time this will ease. I hope so.

It’s going to be a while before I feel like I can write again. I toy with ideas now, but don’t actually feel capable of writing any story right now, no matter the subject or length. Even the few blog posts I’ve written have been difficult (which might be why there are so few lately).

I’m trying to be around on Twitter, and I’m answering messages and mentions now. But even that is sometimes difficult. I feel cut off, unable to bridge this chasm to reach anyone entirely. But I love you guys. And I’m trying, really I am.

I’ll get there one day. I keep telling myself this.

 

In The Silence, There Are Glimmers

•December 5, 2014 • 9 Comments

This is going to be another difficult post. Part of me doesn’t want to write this, and part knows that I need to, for me.

Things have not been good for me. Maybe some of you guessed that, based on the silence here and pretty much everywhere else. I’ve been scarce for a lot of reasons, but they all come down to this: Things were so bad I couldn’t be anywhere I didn’t have to be.

My new therapist says I have an attitude of “never let them see you sweat,” (he’s right) and I guess that’s one of the reasons for my retreat from all things involving communication. The other is that I just couldn’t cope with anything. But that still comes back to maintaining the facade that I was managing when I haven’t been. The effort of trying to keep going the necessary things in my life, like work, got harder with every day. And of course, I look back now and realize that I wasn’t keeping up the game face as well as I thought I was.

What happened? I broke down. Lost it completely. Worse, I did so in the one place that I swore I would never do that, where no one would suffer for my personal problems. I broke down at work.

Crying.

Couldn’t stop.

Curled against the wall.

Huddled.

Exposed.

I haven’t been sleeping well this year. It’s gotten worse as 2014 has progressed, and by the time I broke down, it was as bad as it’s ever been before, maybe worse. That always makes coping harder, and I was exhausted. Mentally. Physically. I was also exhausted from a long fight with two lung infections back to back. I was done, not that I was willing to admit that to myself.

Worse, I felt so alone, even though I know in my head I’m not. People here and on other social media have made it clear I’m not, that they’re there if I need them. But I felt alone in my heart. Some of it was from being so sick in a city where I only know people at work. I hadn’t felt alone here, physically alone like that, until now. My family and all my friends are physically far away and something about being so ill made me realize it more. Or maybe it just bothered me more? I’m still sorting through that.

In any case, everything piled on and I was at the end of my ability to hold it together. I lost that little bit I was holding on to somehow.

I was lucky enough that a work friend was there, that she realized how bad it was and offered to take me to get help. She said it’s an indication to her of what rough shape I was in that I didn’t argue with her about that. She’s right.

So I checked myself into the hospital. Psych Emerg.

It was scary, and in some ways embarrassing. But it was the right place for me to be that day.

It’s not a place I’d want to visit casually, but it was the only thing to do that day.

It wasn’t a long stay, but the effects of taking that action are reverberating through my life in a way that is leaving me with a little hope. I haven’t had much of that for the last few months. Maybe longer. I sometimes shy away from admitting the truth to myself, especially when it’s about how bad things are.

I may be gone a little while longer. I don’t know. But understand that I am getting help. A team’s worth of help. I have the grace of being employed by a very caring company and having a compassionate manager and coworkers. Each one of these things I am deeply grateful for right now.

I’m trying to find my feet again. That’s going to take some work, and I don’t know how long that’ll take. It’s going to require some changes in my life, and I’m not sure yet what all of them will be. The biggest, and frankly the hardest, is starting to take care of myself and my needs. Man, that was hard to even write. I need to assert in my own head that I am worthy of self-care.

For those wondering, writing is on hold right now and for the foreseeable future. I’m sorry, but I can’t. I’m not sure when I’ll get back to it. At the moment, I’m not even sure if I will.

I miss you guys, and I hope I’ll be back. But I don’t know. I’m mostly trying to deal with today. Every day, I deal with today. Plans will have to wait for a more whole me, one who can be present for them. Who may one day even be able to enjoy whatever the future might hold.

NEW RELEASE: My Life Beyond The Grave, by Kai Kiriyama

•October 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Now, you might recall me sharing with you the wonderful cover for my friend Kai’s upcoming novel, My Life Beyond The Grave. This fictional memoire by Dracula looks fabulous and I can’t wait to give it a read. It’s definitely next on my TBR list. I love the concept, an account of Dracula’s life from his own perspective. You may have noticed my general love of vampires and I’m eager to see what Kai’s done with it. I know it’ll be good, because she’s a very talented writer.

The good news is that your wait for this book is over! Yes! Today is the release day for My Life Beyond The Grave! And I even have a treat for you, an excerpt from the book. Read on.

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TITLE: My Life Beyond the Grave: The Untold Story of Vlad Dracula (A Famous Monster Memoir)

AUTHOR: Kai Kiriyama

GENRE: Fiction – Memoir

 

From Kai: MY LIFE BEYOND THE GRAVE is a project dear to my heart, a pet project that combines my love of vampire mythology and my love of macabre history. Dracula has always held me in thrall, ever since I was first introduced to him when I was 10 or so. (And it was, I must admit, through Dracula Dead and Loving It that I really fell in love with him.) This book represents a love affair that I’ve had with Dracula ever since. I’ve taken history and given it a new life in this book. This is my coming of age Dracula story, a look at the history and an examination of a man who must forever live with the sins he committed as a human. I hope that this book will rekindle your love for Dracula, and for vampires. Thank you for checking me out.

 

And of course, a HUGE thank you to my lovely, gracious, wonderful hosts here. I couldn’t do this without your support. Thank you. xx

-Kai Kiriyama

 

SYNOPSIS: “I have lived a life worth speaking about, and have seen things that would leave a modern man weeping in fear. I have outlived my entire family and have lived to see a time that one could not think possible. I have traveled the globe, and I have spread an empire greater than anything that I could have ever accomplished in my mortal life.

I am here to speak of these accomplishments, to tell my story for once without the smoke and mirrors of the silver screen, or the whispers in the dark of a pub where it’s better that you pretend you don’t notice the regal, pale man in the corner who hasn’t touched his drink. I don’t expect you to believe everything that I say here in these pages, but this is my truth as I know it to be.

My name is Vlad Tepes Dracul, and I am here to tell you my story.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Kai Kiriyama is a Canadian Asgardian geek with an affinity for Pokemon and Shakespeare. Accomplished at divination through crystals, pendulum, tea leaf reading and palmistry, Kai oftentimes frightens herself (and her clients!) with the accuracy of what she predicts. Convinced that both her to-read and to-write piles will never be completed, Kai tries not to worry too much about it. Oftentimes, you can find her hanging around on twitter and dispensing dubious advice through her blog.

 

WEBSITE: http://www.theraggedyauthor.com

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/raggedyauthor

TUMBLR: http://www.theraggedyauthor.tumblr.com

YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/thekiriyamaheir

 

ADD ON GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23303143-my-life-beyond-the-grave

 

Buy on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/483291

Buy for Kindle on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OC2X93M

Buy on kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/my-life-beyond-the-grave-the-untold-story-of-vlad-dracula

 

Read another excerpt on Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/story/25029410-my-life-beyond-the-grave-the-untold-story-of-vlad

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

MORTAL DEATH

 

As with all men, even I had to die.

According to the history books, and yes, I am narcissistic enough that I went back and checked the facts to see what people have been led to believe about me, I was killed in a skirmish somewhere that no one is quite certain of, and that the exact date of my death is up for debate.

They also say that the men who killed me took my head back to Constantinople. Obviously that is a damn lie. Immortal though I am, removing my head will kill me permanently. That was one of the first things that I was taught when I awoke as a vampire for the first time. Furthermore, I didn’t die by the road in a skirmish when they say that I did. There’s a reason that the history books have no accurate date for my death. Did you ever think to question why?

The scholars believe in part that it was to keep morale up, that the men fighting with me during my short third reign didn’t want to admit that I was dead, and that they fought hard to keep my death a secret, and to keep my remains from being taken to Constantinople.

That was not true. Well, it was partly true, but my head was not removed from my body.

The person who was killed and thought to be me was one of my doubles. I had hired three men to pretend to be me. They were given explicit instructions and were made up to resemble me ever more closely than they already did.

My wife was not aware of this fact, however, and I made sure that she believed me to be dead when the reports reached her ears. As soon as that part of the ruse was completed, I never saw my wife again.

It pains me to this day that I was never able to live a life with her, and I don’t know if I was ever a father, or if she remarried. I chose to leave that part of me behind when I became the thing that I am now, and I have never even considered the thought of finding a woman to bring into this new life of mine. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone who I cared about. It isn’t as glamorous as the movies make it seem.

My death as a mortal happened at the end of October. It was when my contract was set to expire, and when my reign as Prince Dracul would end forever. I made the deal when I was in prison and feverish and I don’t remember what the terms were, I was convinced that I was talking to myself the whole time, but here I am.

The only regret that I have is that I was not given more time.

I suppose that, looking back on it, I would have been killed sooner than I would have liked had I not been given over to the unlife I live now.

I was just beginning to enjoy being Prince again. The old bloodlust returned, the fierce pride in my kingdom, the desire to make it better. I am, after all, my father’s son.

I was not ready to go, and two months into my final reign and I was forced to give it all up, instead of using my powers to rule as an immortal Prince and put and end to the fighting once and for all. Alas, I was unwelcome in my homeland once the deed was completed.

So I allowed my death to be exaggerated and my doubles were killed in different skirmishes. My “head” was brought to Constantinople when my third and final double was killed and it solidified the end of Vlad Dracul.

I was, however, already dead by the time this was happening. I died on the night of October 31 and was reborn in the early hours of November 1 in the year of 1476.

My mortal death was one that was not greeted by a funeral. Neither deaths that I suffered through were particularly peaceful or celebrated in the way that you would want it to be. The men who were my doubles were treated poorly, hastily buried when it was realized that they were not truly me, and spit upon and cursed for their treachery and lies. My first two doubles were left in shallow, unmarked graves where they fell. My men in both skirmishes were beaten back as the Ottoman forces grew more determined to take the body of Vlad Dracul back to their leaders.

When it was discovered that I had tricked them, the Ottoman forces were in such a rage that stories of their anger spread across the country like wildfire. I had tricked them, twice, and sent them into a howling fit. I had made them a laughingstock across the country and word of their stupidity passed the lips of everyone who had once feared them. This would be the quiet legacy of mine that would colour the stories of my brutality. Vlad Tepes was as clever as he was brutal, and not even the Turks were safe from my trickery.

I watched these things happen from a distance, unable to help, unable to interfere lest I truly be caught and killed. I was already living on borrowed time, and I had so much to do to set my affairs in order before I was to be whisked away from my mortal life and taken into the clutches of the dark of night as a vampire.

I certainly did not get everything done that I had wanted to and the creature who had offered me immortality came to collect his due right on schedule.

I fought against him for a week.

“Mortal one, it is time,” he said the first night he found me. I was going over military strategies for the next leg of the fighting that I was about to lead.

“I cannot come with you right now,” I argued. “We are winning for the first time in weeks, and I am desperate to take this next leg of the journey. What is one more night without me when there are hundreds of men, my own and Ottoman alike, upon whom you may feed?”

“You drive a hard bargain, little Mortal, but I will allow it.”

I argued with him this way for a week. Always one last thing to do. One last leg of the battle, one last conquest, one last woman. One more night, master, please, I beg you.

I was taken in the night, without warning. I had no time to argue with him when he had made up his mind that I had to be stopped. At this time, my “head” was just arriving in Constantinople, and I hadn’t seen my men that day. As far as they knew, I had been killed on the battlefield, when really I had been in a small hovel, hiding and trying not to let my men know that I had not been killed. My master came upon me that night as soon as there was no one around. I was reading by candlelight, waiting for my men to arrive with reports. I had two men I trusted with the plan of my doubles, and they had been keeping me abreast of all the happenings of the war in my absence. My master arrived and startled me.

“You are not who I was expecting,” I told him, brusquely.

“Your men believe you dead.”

“Not all,” I snapped. “I have men who know the truth.”

“And I have stepped in and bent their minds. They now know you are dead, there is no more time to stall.”

Whatever he did to me, I could not argue. He was upon me in a flash. I could not scream, I could not fight back, I had lost control of my body and my mind and I fell into stunned silence as he fell upon me with the swiftness of a wolf. I sat there, reeling from the wounds inflicted upon me that would grant me my immortality; I felt that I had not accomplished enough. I was forty-five years old when I died. I was alone, in a hovel, left to die as my blood seeped out from two delicate holes in my neck. I was left to suffer through the slowing of my heart; with nothing to keep me company except the memories of life only half lived. I hoped that I would see my brothers soon, that I would join them in death to be welcomed into their embrace in the afterlife, but that was not true. I forgot that, as my life drained away and my breathing became shallow and laboured, that I would not be joining them. Not yet.

I still had a contract that needed to be fulfilled.

 
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