The End of an Age

  It was the hand of God that reached out to Harold Godwinson, every bit as much as it was King Edward’s hand, Harold was convinced. It was the fourth day of the new year, AD 1066. The King of England had neither produced an heir nor

named a successor, and now he lay

dying. Hovering at his bedside,

Harold saw, in one simple gesture,

the sign he was waiting for.  Harold

Godwinson had become the most

powerful man in England, next to

King Edward. In fact, the King had

long grown weary of dealing with

the affairs of state, and instead,

had immersed himself in his

Christian faith, thus making Harold

the most powerful man in fact,

if not in title.

  Harold’s father, Godwin, had risen

to become the Earl of Wessex shortly

after the Danish King, Canute, seized the throne some fifty years earlier. Through some bold action and very deft political maneuvering, Godwin managed to navigate a rocky period of royal successions, divisions within the kingdom and his own year-long exile to see to a Saxon King back on the throne of England and himself, once again, as Earl. By the time Godwin died in 1053, he had become so powerful that, not only did his eldest son, Harold, succeed him as Earl of Wessex, but he also secured for each of Harold’s brothers earldoms of their own— Leofwine in Kent and Essex, Gyrth in East Anglia, and Tostig in Northumbria.

 With the reign of Edward now seemingly near its end, Harold was in a strong position to claim the throne, though he was not the only one. William, the Duke of Normandy, who was referred to by many—though not to his face—as William the Bastard, was one of King Edward’s nephews, and though illegitimate, he nevertheless considered himself to be in line for succession. Indeed, according to Norman accounts, Harold pledged his support for William’s claim and was knighted for his efforts. Upon his return to England, however, Harold disavowed any such pledge.

  Now, as he lay dying, King Edward lifted his hand and held it out to Harold, who took it in his own. This was all the benediction Harold needed. Less than an hour later, the King was dead, and the English throne had its successor. But for how long? A rebellion in the north inspired his brother Tostig, now under the cruel influence of one Kato Sakros, and the impending invasion by Duke William from the south, threatens to shorten Harold's reign and plunge England into war.

Copyright © Philip D. Adams

A History of Vampires

  The three Magi from Persia were not the only ones following their star charts to Bethlehem in the First Century.  In the days before the birth of Christ, six ancient vampires all found themselves in or near Palestine, and they also were reading the

signs in the sky.

According to an ancient

book, known to the Roman Catholic

Church as The Codex of Qedesh,

vampires had come into being through

the inadvertent summoning of demons

from hell during pagan rituals involving

human sacrifice. These six original

vampires - the Summoned - are as old

as civilization itself. Each was hailed as

a deity in their ancient lands. Each has

sired many more vampires into their

respective bloodlines.

By the First Century, the signs and

rumors were too clear to ignore, and the six discovered that the Son of the Ancient One (or "the Creature," as they called him) had been born into the world. Realizing that they could play a decisive role in influencing events to their favor, the six Summoned (the Evocati, in church parlance) met at a Roman palace in the city of Qedesh, north of Galilee. Over several nights, they held a round table-style meeting, now known as the Council of Qedesh, in which they first recounted their personal histories, describing in detail the circumstances surrounding how they came into this world. They also shared much knowledge about their personal experiences, the triumphs they'd achieved and the dangers they encountered. Lastly, they discussed ways in which they could thwart the Creature in his efforts and, should the opportunity arise, kill him.

A detailed account of the proceedings was diligently recorded by a servant of one of the  Summoned, a vampire named Aulix, who was present at the event, and later transcribed by Aulix himself. The bound manuscript - The Codex of Qedesh - was kept safe and hidden by Aulix for more than three centuries. Sometime around 330 AD, thieves broke into Aulix's home on the island of Crete and stole the Codex, and he has been searching relentlessly for it ever since.

Now living under the name of Kato Sakros, Aulix continues his search for his precious Codex, which has taken him far from his Greek island city to Northumbria in northern England and into the middle of an epic power struggle that will determine the fate of kings, nobles and common folk alike and forever alter the course of British history.