Jack Templar and the Lord of the Werewolves
Fresh from confronting the Lord of the Vampires in the limestone catacombs beneath Paris, Jack Templar faces his toughest challenge yet as he searches for the next Jerusalem Stone, this one being held by the Lord of the Werewolves. But the narrow escape from the vampire lair came at a great cost and Eva battles to survive the new vampire blood in her veins. The only chance to help Eva is to continue their quest and find the Jerusalem Stones. Reuniting the Stones will not only stop Ren Lucre’s coming war against mankind, but also transform Eva back into her human self. From the ruins of ancient Delhi to the depths of the Black Forest in Germany, Jack and his friends face monsters, bewildering riddles and treachery from the most unlikely of places. Through it all, they are plagued by the Oracle’s prediction that at least one of their group with not make it through the adventure alive. Worse yet, they know that Kaeden, the Lord of the Werewolves, will do his best to make sure none of them do. But they are monster hunters of the Black Guard… and they will do their duty, come what may.
I drew my sword and held it in front of me, cursing my big mouth. I had no clue why my belief that I could be the One meant anything to her. Or how giving her that belief gave her permission to test me. Still, I should have seen that the Oracle was searching for a way to get me to agree to this confrontation. Obviously, she operated under some kind of warped system where she couldn’t force people to do things, only accept what they were willing to give her.
And I’d just accidentally given her the fight she wanted to see.
This dragon was very different from the ones I’d faced before. I mean, even outside the fact that the others had been made of flesh and blood and this one still appeared to be made of stone.
It was smaller than the dragons at the Academy. Those had been like prehistoric creatures, the size of small buildings. This one was on more of a human scale, the head like that of a large lion, with a thick, serpentine body and long tail that tapered off into a nasty barbed spike. I took special note of that and all the other parts of the dragon’s body that might kill me. Its enormous fangs, curved claws, hooks on its elbow joints and probably the ability to breathe fire.
Piece of cake.
“This is Python,” the Oracle said. “Once faced by the god Apollo himself. Can you defeat him, Templar? Do you think of yourself as a god?”
“Uh, no. But I am pretty good in a fight,” I replied.
She scowled. I guess she didn’t like my sense of humor. And neither did the beast coming toward me.
The dragon let out a deafening roar, so loud that I opened my guard to cover my ears. This move was exactly what it wanted me to do, and it charged the second I did.
But I was ready. Covering my ears was just a feint to lure the monster in. I spun to the side and brought down my blade as hard as I could.
As the dragon realized its mistake, underestimating me, it bent its body away. Just in time. Still, my sword struck a glancing blow off the side of the dragon’s body, sending a fountain of sparks into the air.
Pythia cried out, and I couldn’t tell if it was concern for me or for the dragon. I sensed it was because she didn’t want this contest to end too quickly.
The dragon took up a position on the far side of the garden, its body and tail swirling in the air behind it like a propeller. I think it realized I wasn’t just some person off the street. I was a monster hunter, and this fight was not going to be easy.
I held my sword in front of me, pacing the area, getting a feel for the fighting surface with my feet.
“This isn’t necessary,” I said to Pythia. “Can’t we just talk? If you have questions, I can answer them.”
Pythia laughed. “We are talking. Everything we do is language. And you know the old saying – actions speak louder than words.”
The dragon charged. There was no roar this time or any indication before the attack. Its speed was amazing. It was on me before I took my first step to brace myself.
I managed to duck just as the dragon’s claws tore through the air over my head. It was so close that I actually felt my hair move. I thought I was in the clear, but the dragon’s tail whipped at me and struck me across the chest.
I tumbled through the air and slammed into one of the pillars. On reflex, I jerked to the side and felt the dragon smash a claw into the column where my head had been a split second earlier. Shards of shattered marble stung as they hit my cheeks and arms. This was no idle match. The dragon was out for blood.
I used the next pillar to brace myself and get my bearings. Sliding behind it, I had at least a temporary shelter as I took stock of my situation. Turns out, it was even worse than I’d imagined.
All of the other statues in the courtyard had also come alive. They stood on the opposite side of the rectangle, arraying behind the row of columns, craning their heads for a good look at the battle. They seemed content for now to be spectators. I just hoped it stayed that way.
The dragon lashed out again, using its tail to whip around the pillar I was hiding behind. I jumped out of the way but felt a searing pain on the back of my leg. The razor-sharp point of the dragon’s tail had sliced through my jeans and cut my calf. It wasn’t bad, especially since I had so much adrenaline rushing through my system. But the living statues on the far side of the courtyard howled and shrieked with excitement. I realized with a shudder that they must smell my blood in the air. The last thing I needed was for those others to get carried away and join the fight. If they did, I was a goner for sure.
I needed to finish this fight. Fast.
Author Jeff Gunhus
Jeff Gunhus is the author of the Amazon bestselling supernatural thriller, Night Chill, and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book of the series, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. Killer Within is his second novel for adults. As a father of five, he and his wife Nicole spend most of their time chasing kids and taking advantage of living in the great state of Maryland. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel. If you see him there, sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. You just might end up in his next novel.
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