For fans of Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Dresden Files.
Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters, only demons are the ones hunting him.
A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike. Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis. Being a Venator is perilous and every new mission could be their last.
Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon magical creatures and shoot Spellzookas, Evan encounters a dangerous rival and meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way. He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.
Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.
Targeted Age Group:: 11 and above
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
After my love of reading turned into a love of writing, this particular story just yearned to be written. The idea of a magic school for demon hunters fascinated me and it's definitely a school I'd want to attend myself.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Most of them sprang up organically. I'd plan out how the characters react but when it came to dialogue they seemed to come up with the words themselves.
The three hunters stood silent and sentinel, watching from the shadows for the one they sought. The writhing mass of humanity jostled one another in their hurry to enter the warehouse.
“Her,” Lok said, pointing at a provocatively dressed girl as he exhaled purple smoke.
Arantay smiled and replied, his voice velvet soft, “No, Lok. As much as you would want it to be, no.”
“Perhaps she’s already inside?” Tyrell said.
“Let us find out,” Arantay rasped, his eyes flashing crimson.
The deafening music pumped in time to the rhythm of her heart. Green, red, yellow and blue lights shone and flashed all around, illuminating people one moment, throwing them into darkness the next.
Brooke danced wildly to the techno music booming through the warehouse. Her friends were beside her, but she could barely see them through the press of bodies.
Brooke was oblivious to everything as she moved with the flow of the crowd. The bright lights blurred as she spun her head from side to side. Her vision swam, the room was spinning. Maybe she'd drunk too much earlier.
She'd never felt better. She felt alive.
The music pulsed, the crowd writhed, and Brooke danced.
The three men entered the warehouse.
The other patrons couldn’t help but notice the newcomers, and all who saw them couldn’t help but stare, particularly at their leader.
The three separated, filing through the sweat-filmed dancers as they attempted to find the one they sought. Arantay wrinkled his nose, using heightened senses to find her. As expected it was mainly humans inside, however some moonlight races secretly moved amongst them. The whiff of werewolf lingered in the air, kitsune too.
Finally, Arantay laid eyes on their target.
The music increased in volume and tempo, drowning out everything else. The tide of pumped-up partygoers took Brooke in their current. The multicoloured floor was alive with flailing limbs, sweat drenched hair, and wild cries of delight and laughter that could scarcely be heard through the thunderous music.
Brooke whirled, no longer knowing nor caring where her friends had gone. She recognised none of the faces screaming and shouting around her. The chaotic spinning stopped and one face came into focus, standing out in sharp contrast.
He was the most exquisite creature Brooke had ever seen. He barely resembled a human at all. He was beauty incarnate, yet not beauty as she had ever seen it before.
Hair the shade of blood cascaded to his shoulders, framing a striking, ceramic face. A thin shirt clung to a body made of porcelain, accentuating his tall and slim figure. He appeared both masculine and feminine, both incredibly youthful and terribly ancient.
He was looking for something, she was sure. He stood still, but his eyes darted from place to place. His head snapped around and Brooke realised with a jolt he was staring right at her.
A thrill shot through her body as she met his inhuman gaze and she reeled back, whether from the alcohol or the sheer ferocity of his stare she didn’t know.
When Brooke managed to regain her composure, he was gone. She stared hard at the spot where he’d stood, but he was nowhere in sight.
She didn’t know whether it was beer goggles that made the strange boy look so attractive, or the whole thing was a figment of her imagination. She laughed at her own stupid thoughts.
Brooke looked around in anxiously, aware of her own desperate want to see the boy again. What made his skin so pale? Those eyes! He must’ve been wearing contact lenses.
She realised she was hurrying, craning her neck over the crowd, trying to get another glimpse of the scarlet-haired stranger.
Miraculously, she spotted him again. He was leaning against the far wall, staring at her. Brooke felt a surge of delight. What was going on? When had a boy ever had this effect on her? She felt compelled, an irrepressible need to go after him. As she started to walk, he smiled at her brilliantly. Crimson lips parted to reveal bright white teeth, too sharp for a human mouth.
She walked faster.
Still smiling, the stranger opened a side door and disappeared into the night. Without a thought Brooke followed, unaware of the strangers who stalked out after her.
A terrible feeling enveloped her when she thought she’d lost him, but then she spotted him again at the end of the street, beckoning her to follow.
How had he moved to the end of the street so fast?
She hurried after him, running now.
The ferocious booming from inside the warehouse faded to a dull pounding as Brooke and the enigmatic stranger moved further and further away.
The street lamps flickered and then dimmed, like dying fireflies, and the streets surrendered to darkness.
He turned into a small alleyway then froze, apparently waiting for her to catch up. An uncontrollable urge propelled Brooke to follow.
She wanted to meet this beautiful stranger, to hear the sound of his voice, to see if his eyes were really that red.
He stood, immersed in the shadows like a startling phantom, a ghost with glowing embers for eyes.
A wave of panic washed over her and she felt the icy hand of fear clutch at her heart. The need to see him had gone, she’d come to her senses, and all of them screamed at her to run and never look back. She turned to do exactly that, when she saw two more guys blocking her way.
Trap, was the only thought clawing at her brain.
Brooke screamed as loud as possible and bolted, crashing straight into the strangers. The bigger of the two wrapped his arms around her as she lunged, catching her around the waist and pulling her close. She continued to scream, but he clapped his hand over her mouth.
I need to get away. I don’t want to die!
She bit him savagely and he took his hand away with a yelp, almost losing his grip around her. Brooke tried to escape his iron clasp feverishly, kicking and screaming, her long nails scraping at his hands and gouging his arms.
He held on tight, but she refused to give up, sure someone should have heard her screaming by now. Someone will come to save me?
She heard laughter and thought it was the pale skinned leader until she saw him glaring at the blond boy. The blond stopped laughing and shrugged. “Sorry, Arantay.”
Arantay ignored him and placed a hand on Brooke's shoulder. At his delicate, icy touch she felt calm wash over her.
The sense of danger had left and instead of flailing in her captor’s grasp, she hung limp and exhausted.
“Sssh,” Arantay crooned, “we won’t hurt you.”
His tone was so reassuring Brooke felt convinced he was telling the truth. Though at the back of her mind she had a niggling sensation she was being tricked, that her emotions weren’t her own, Arantay was influencing them somehow.
Now she’d stopped fighting, her burly captor lifted her up and carried her deeper into the alley.
“Why do they always act like that? I swear I didn’t,” the blond remarked. Neither of the other two replied. Brooke recognised the blond from somewhere.
Her kidnapper set her down gently, propping her up so she was sitting against the wall. Emotion flooded back as she realised her predicament, but when she tried to stand Arantay touched her again.
As Arantay knelt before her, Brooke noticed his pupils were vertically slit and his irises were just too red, like clotted blood.
It had to be the alcohol in her system making him so strikingly attractive. Up close, she saw he wasn’t really feminine at all. His slender limbs were corded tight with sculpted muscle. His facial features appeared at once sharp and prominent, but also soft and delicate. His ears were pointed at the top.
He smiled at her again, and this time she knew it was to lull her into a false sense of security. Brooke couldn’t ignore the gnawing sensation of danger at the back of her mind.
“It’s okay, we’re not going to hurt you,” he repeated in his velvety voice. She felt her fears melt away and once again became fascinated with the creature kneeling before her.
“Ah, if only I had Arantay’s seduction voodoo,” she heard the blond say. “The possibilities…”
“Who-who are you?” She managed to get out.
“My name is Arantay.”
“We gotta hurry, Tay,” the burly one said. “It won’t be long before her friends notice she’s gone.”
Alarm threatened to take over again.
“Wha-what are you doing?” Brooke mumbled, oddly overcome with weariness. Why was she outside surrounded by strangers? How did she get here?
The blond sniggered again.
Arantay shot a murderous look at him.
“Shut up, Lok,” said the biggest of the three.
Lok grunted and strode back to the mouth of the alley to make sure no one else was in sight.
“Tyrell,” Arantay urged.
Brooke couldn’t understand. She felt so strange, something was terribly wrong.
The burly boy, Tyrell, nodded and took out a curious object from his belt. As Tyrell raised the object, Lok hissed from the end of the alley.
“Wait! There’s someone coming.”
The other two retreated to the back of the alley, where Brooke sat and Arantay crouched.
What the hell is going on?
Arantay placed a hand over her mouth. His hand was so cold it should’ve hurt, but all she felt was a slight tingle.
Brooke vaguely noticed they had swords sheathed at their sides. Arantay’s looked like it was carved out of crystal as red as his hair, whilst Lok’s sword was golden and Tyrell’s blue.
Raucous shouting stabbed into the night. Brooke turned to see a group of teenagers pass by the mouth of the alley. They laughed loudly and most of them ambled about drunk, their feet going one direction, their mind the other. Her thoughts were screaming at her to call for help, but all that came out was a timid shout, stifled by Arantay’s hand.
Her captors waited in silence until the sounds of the teenage mob dwindled away. She was panting uncontrollably, panic threatening to engulf her. Faintly, Brooke’s mind told her to focus on what her captors looked like. She’d need to inform the police of their descriptions.
Tyrell, the most imposing of the three, looked like he’d just stepped away from a modelling shoot. He was typically tall, dark and handsome. Brown, olive-tinted skin hinted at an Italian heritage. He had a strong square jaw and knife-sharp cheekbones, with long eyelashes that emphasized the azure of his eyes.
Lok, the one who’d laughed at her struggles, was the smallest of them and the complete opposite of Tyrell. His boyish, heart shaped face appeared innocent and his chocolate brown eyes looked like they always sparkled with amusement. He had a nose ring and what looked like a tongue piercing too. His ash-blond hair came down to his eyes, and he was currently staring at Brooke appreciatively through the unruly strands.
Unlike Arantay, the other two wore red jackets with black cuffs, collars and buttons. It reminded Brooke of something someone might wear in medieval times.
“Too many civilians around here,” Lok said as a second swarm of partygoers left the warehouse. “We'll have to move her to a more secure place before we portal.”
Portal! These lunatics must've escaped the asylum.
“There's an abandoned scrapyard nearby,” Lok continued. “I saw it when scouting the area for Dark-Realmers. We won't be seen there.”
“No time like the present.” Arantay slung Brooke across his shoulder without preamble, before jumping inhumanly high in the air. Brooke's scream was muffled by Arantay's hand as they landed on a rooftop, swiftly followed by Tyrell and Lok.
Brooke opened her mouth to shout at them, or maybe scream for her life, but before she could they were racing across the rooftops.
Draped over Arantay's shoulders, Brooke saw only blurred buildings. Seconds later Arantay was leaping through the air again. This time he didn't bother to cover Brooke's scream as they landed in the deserted scrapyard.
“As promised.” She saw Lok smile as Arantay laid her at his feet.
Fear was nipping at her again, but Arantay placed his slender hand once more on her shoulder.
“She’s strong,” he commended.
“And fit,” Lok agreed with a smirk. “We're lucky the Dark-Venators didn't snap her up first. She may turn out to be quite the demon hunter.”
Demon Hunter! These guys really are batcrap crazy.
Tyrell must've noticed her eyes widen, as he said, “Lok, stop frightening her. You're doing it on purpose.”
Lok grinned like the devil. “As if I would.”
“We need to get to Veneseron, now.” Arantay took command once again.
As the three of them assembled, a terrific roar reverberated through the air. Arantay and Tyrell froze and Lok's face flushed with excitement. Arantay moved to stand over Brooke as figures emerged from the gloom.
Standing on top of the broken shell of a truck crouched five youths, glaring at Brooke with glowing eyes.
Simultaneously, the five leaped from the truck to land in front of them.
“I thought I smelt the stench of Venator,” the closest newcomer growled. “And the reek of something…” he glared at Arantay, “rotten.”
Brooke stared, noticing their hands weren't hands at all, but claws.
“Good evening,” the closest boy addressed her directly. “I am Merak, and I will be taking you from here.”
Merak’s lips skinned back into a snarl, fangs bursting from his gums and forked tongue flickering.
“Leave,” Arantay spoke quietly, “and we'll forget all about it.”
The strangers laughed like a pack of hyenas.
“Hand over the girl,” Merak replied, “and we promise only to maim, not kill you.”
“Uh, crap,” Lok sighed. “Just what we needed; blood lusting Were-Beasts.”
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