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Dark of the Sun: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain
     

Dark of the Sun: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain

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by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
 

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It is the 6th century of the common era. The vampire Saint-Germain, known in this time as Zangi-Ragozh, is peacefully doing business in Asia when the island of Krakatoa explodes in a massive volcanic eruption. Tidal waves swamp harbors hundreds of miles away, destroying trade ships and their cargoes; tons of ash and dirt are flung into the air.

In the

Overview

It is the 6th century of the common era. The vampire Saint-Germain, known in this time as Zangi-Ragozh, is peacefully doing business in Asia when the island of Krakatoa explodes in a massive volcanic eruption. Tidal waves swamp harbors hundreds of miles away, destroying trade ships and their cargoes; tons of ash and dirt are flung into the air.

In the months to come, the world grows colder and darker as the massive volcanic cloud spreads across the globe, blocking sunlight. Sea trade is ravaged. Crops fail. Livestock, and then people, begin to starve. Disease spreads. Panic rises.
As always in times of trouble, foreigners-and the vampire is always a foreigner-become targets. Fleeing toward the West, where he hopes to find safety and sanity, the vampire travels with a nomadic tribe led by Dukkai, a female shaman who soon becomes Zangi-Ragozh's lover.

But Zangi-Ragozh's problems are far from over. His vampire nature is discovered by an enemy; he begins to starve; he is betrayed by one he cared deeply for; he loses everything, even his last sack of his native soil.

With the True Death looming, Zangi-Ragozh tries to reach sanctuary in his ancient homeland.
Transylvania.



At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429996716
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
11/01/2004
Series:
St. Germain , #17
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
464
File size:
743 KB

Read an Excerpt

Dark of the Sun

A Novel Of Saint-Germain


By Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2004 Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9671-6



CHAPTER 1

Rising out of the East China Sea beyond the mouth of the Yang-Tse River, the sun was brass over a world of bronze. Though it was midwinter, the port of Yang-Chau was bristling with all manner of ships, and the cold wind off the distant mountains served to drive the larger craft into groups, as if they were seeking warmth. Clustered around them were masses of small boats offering every conceivable service to the crews of the seagoing vessels; the noise of shouts, calls, and the groaning of battened sails shuddered on the air. Along the wharves men scurried and struggled, some off- loading cargo, others preparing to take to sea, and all with the underlying urgency that came with the shortened days, as if everyone was determined to make the most of the sunlight.

"How soon until rain comes?" Ro-shei asked his master in the language of Imperial Rome.

"Another day or so," said Zangi-Ragozh, the broad sleeve of his thick black-silk sen-hsien almost touching his sheet of paper on which he had just entered a column of figures drawn in Arabic numerals. "The Black Pheasant and the Morning Star are due back in port shortly. I hope the weather holds long enough for them to return." He sounded doubtful as he spoke, but not worried, either.

"The Morning Star hasn't been away very long," said Ro-shei as he removed the paper from danger, taking care to move it very gently until the ink was dry.

"You weren't here when she left, were you? Her task is a specific one. She has gone over to the northernmost port on the east coast of Korea to pick up furs from the peoples of the forests."

"But the Koreans charge high tariffs for their export," said Ro-shei.

"And they charge the men from the forests who bring the furs to store and market them," said Zangi-Ragozh. "All in all, a fine business for Korea." He smoothed the next sheet of paper and sketched his eclipse sigil on the upper right-hand corner with his brush, indicating this was a personal document, not an official record.

"So furs will be here in good time, and eventually dyes and spices. How many other ships are still unaccounted for?" Ro-shei inspected the pigeonholes over Zangi-Ragozh's writing table. "I make it seven."

"Yes." Zangi-Ragozh tapped the paper in front of him.

"I thought you had determined to purchase a tenth."

"That was before you left on the voyage to Saylan. I had hopes that there could be an arrangement made that would —" He stopped.

"And doubtless worth the two years I had to be away," said Ro-shei. "Still, it is good to be back in Yang-Chau."

"Yes; and I am relieved that you have returned. I thank you, old friend, for all you accomplished," said Zangi-Ragozh with quiet conviction.

"It was prudent to make such arrangements, and it was more sensible for me to do it than for you," said Ro-shei, dismissing the praise. "I hadn't realized you had decided against adding a tenth ship to your fleet."

"Hu — my clerk; you know him — warned me that my taxes would have doubled on all the rest if I purchased a tenth; you know that foreigners in Yang-Chau aren't encouraged to have large merchant fleets," said Zangi-Ragozh. "Hu was right: doubling taxes would delay actual profits for decades." He pressed his lips together a moment, then added, "I doubt we will be here a decade from now."

Ro-shei did not question this decision, but wanted to know, "Have you decided where we will go next? Saylan may be a good choice now you have a business established there."

This time Zangi-Ragozh hesitated a bit longer before he spoke. "No, I do not know, not yet. I will make up my mind shortly."

"So you still think we should leave," said Ro-shei.

"I think it would be wise. I've been here almost eight years, and I've been trading in the region for nearly thirty years. It's time to depart, or I may overstay my welcome." He began to make more notes to himself, summing up his plans for the year to come, as he had done every year since his arrival in Yang-Chau. "The Golden Moon should be back in port here by April — the Fortnight of the Flower Rains, perhaps — and the Bounteous Fortune has only been gone six months. According to the reports, the Bird of the Waves and the Dragon's Breath are only halfway through their voyages, so we will not see them for another ten months at least, and the Black Pheasant is laid up for repairs in the Indian islands; they are almost finished, according to the message brought to me last week, and the ship will come directly here. The Phoenix is somewhere in the Bay of Bengal, the Joyous Winds should be in the Southern Islands by now, and the Shining Pearl is on her way to Vijaya. The Dragon's Breath is due for a refitting when she returns. And every ship will need a full inspection."

"Small wonder, when you consider all they go through," said Ro-shei. "Besides, it doesn't pay to skimp on maintenance."

Zangi-Ragozh frowned as he stared at his schedule. "Do you know if Chiu Tso-Feng will be available to repair sails for us? If the storms have been as bad as we've heard, there will be much to mend and replace."

"I'll send word around to his warehouse, to find out," Ro-shei offered. "And I'll put a deposit on his labor for this company. He will have a great deal of work to do."

"And I would prefer not to be at the end of his list. I'll give you money for the deposit — it may need to be substantial." He looked down at his notes to himself; he had written them in Chinese characters so that no official suspicions would be raised about him. "I'll prepare a work order for him, as well, so that we needn't spend days squabbling."

"A good notion," said Ro-shei. "I'd prefer to spend my time at the house rather than this office."

"Yes. This place is too exposed," said Zangi-Ragozh. He shook his head. "Here, at least, the clerks know they can order every aspect of the business dealings. At the house, the servants fear there may be something too foreign about me, and that frightens them." He chose another sheet of paper and began to write out his instructions to the sailmaker, pausing thoughtfully over the amount of money he was prepared to advance to Chiu.

"But you've entertained almost all the important officials here in Yang-Chau. You have guests coming tonight, and they must not fear you if they accept your invitation, no matter how much trepidation they may harbor toward other foreigners."

"Personally of me, perhaps," Zangi-Ragozh allowed, "but the policy toward foreigners remains the same, and a pleasant social association will not change it. As much as Councillor Ko and Professor Tsa may like my company, it is not the kind of contact that will stand much testing, particularly with the current dynastic conflicts, for knowing strangers can appear sinister to those whose hold on the throne is shaky. As far as is prudent, the local officials have come to like me as well as tolerate me, but the liking is superficial: no friendship will supersede patriotic duty, not when the friendship is with a foreigner with whom there is no larger obligation than good manners." His face took on an ancient exhaustion that vanished almost as quickly as it appeared.

"I've spoken to Meng about dinner," Ro-shei said, aware that it would be unwise to pursue their discussion. "He assures me the kitchen will have everything ready on time. Nine courses, and rice wine throughout. By anyone's measure, a handsome offering."

"Thanks to Meng." Zangi-Ragozh smiled, and the reserve that had claimed him eased a little. "Splendid. That man is a treasure — a prince among cooks. I wish I still ate when I smell the dishes he has concocted."

"Even his treatment of raw meat is wonderful. On my return, he prepared a marinated loin of beef that was astonishing," said Ro-shei.

"So you said at the time." Zangi-Ragozh finished making notes to himself and remarked as he held up the paper to help the ink dry, "You know, I like this better than parchment and vellum. Or papyrus."

"It doesn't endure as well," Ro-shei said, reaching up to pinch out the oil-lamps that hung over the writing table. Now that the sun was a bit higher in the sky, the office had sufficient illumination to make the oil lamps unnecessary.

"No, perhaps not. But with reasonable care, it could hold up for some years, I would think." He laughed. "A few centuries, at least, provided it is kept dry. The surface does not crack. And the ink stays with it, soaked in."

"It does the same on silk and cotton," said Ro-shei, not to argue, but to point out the comparisons.

"Yes. I still prefer this," said Zangi-Ragozh. He reached out for the red inkpad and his chop to fix it on the sheets of paper he had used. "This will keep Magistrate Lin satisfied when he makes his semiannual review of my businesses."

"Do you think he will be inclined to adjust your taxes yet? You met the residency requirements three years ago. He has the option of adjusting the percentages you pay, doesn't he?" Ro-shei glanced at the stack of receipts that lay under a paperweight in the figure of a naked dancing dwarf. The little statue was Roman, and Zangi-Ragozh had had it for almost five hundred years, a gift from Titus Petronius Niger after he had fallen from Imperial favor.

"Ah, but since that would mean lowering what I pay, I doubt he will exercise that alternative scale of taxation." He printed his chop on the three sheets of paper that would be part of his official record of transactions, then added a dollop of sealing wax and stamped his sigil into it as well. "There." Zangi-Ragozh handed a small string of cash to Ro-shei; the coins clinked softly as Ro-shei slipped the string onto his wrist. "For Sailmaker Chiu. And here is my work order."

"Very good. I take it you're going back to the house now?" Ro-shei was already busy tidying the office, imposing a strict order on the room.

"Yes. With guests coming at midafternoon there are a few preparations I still need to attend to." Zangi-Ragozh started toward the door. "You'll make sure the dancing girls and musicians are prompt."

"Of course. I've arranged for Yei-Lan to remain for the night; with Dei-Na leaving, you need not deny yourself," Ro-shei said. "You'll like her. She's a very capable young woman — not jealous or too greedy." He rolled the work order and secured it with a narrow silk ribbon, then tucked it into his capacious sleeve. "Will you change clothes for the dinner?"

"I may," said Zangi-Ragozh. "It depends on how much I have yet to do."

"Are you still planning to present your guests with gems?" Ro-shei asked.

"I know you do not approve. Can you tell me why?"

"Well, such generosity can create more envy than you think it will," Ro-shei said cautiously. "You know how venal some of your guests are."

"This isn't Rome, and these men aren't Senators, and the Emperor is not a young, capricious degenerate, as was the case when we were last there. The Wen Emperor in the west may be new to the throne, and as much Turkish as Chinese, as are many men of rank in the north, but he has capable men around him, which counts for something," said Zangi-Ragozh with a touch of impatience. "In the two years you were gone, I have done much to improve my dealings with my fellow-merchants and the authorities, and I hope that will hold me in good stead now." He smiled briefly. "I will not rely on them, but I will not despair, either."

Ro-shei did not quite smile. "You said yourself that they are not staunch in their support."

"No, but they are not malicious, either. That would take too much time, and they have better uses of it." Zangi-Ragozh opened the door and stepped into his outer office where two junior clerks were busy calculating on abacuses. "What news?" he asked the nearest clerk.

"Four bales of rough silk arrived in the warehouse," came the answer. "Hu is there now, inventorying them."

"Has it been paid for yet?" Zangi-Ragozh took a step toward the long writing table.

"Yes; three months ago. Shipment was delayed because of hard rains," said the clerk. "It is scheduled to be shipped out for the Southern Islands."

"That won't be for several months," said Zangi-Ragozh.

"No, it won't," said the clerk as if expecting a rebuke.

"Then make sure it is properly stored in the warehouse. I would rather not lose the cloth to rats or rot or moths." He nodded toward the little oil-powered stove. "Have you enough tea?"

"Yes, thank you," said both clerks almost in unison.

"Very good." Zangi-Ragozh made a sign of approval as he crossed the rest of the outer office to the door that led down a flight of stairs to the street. He squinted at the sun's glare as he stepped into the light and was glad once again of his native earth lining the soles of his leather boots. Still, he kept to the shadows as much as possible as he made his way to where he could hire a sedan-chair to carry him to his house.

The bearers accepted the coins he offered and went off at a jog as soon as he had climbed into the covered chair. They made their way through the traffic of the waterfront and the markets to the broad roads that led to the city gates, over the great bridge spanning the river, turning along the north bank of the Yang-Tse toward the part of the city where prosperous merchants had their extensive homes.

Zangi-Ragozh's house was in an extensive park, set back from the road and surrounded by a high wall. At the gate he got out and tipped the bearers before entering the grounds of his compound, then paused to ask the gatekeeper if anyone had called.

"Yes. The foreign merchant Lampong-Chelai is waiting for you. He arrived a short while ago."

"Thank you, Sung," said Zangi-Ragozh. "I'll just go talk to him now."

"Do you expect anyone else?" Sung called after him.

"I had not expected Lampong-Chelai," said Zangi-Ragozh. "But no, I expect no one else until my guests arrive for dinner. Oh, Ro-shei will be back shortly, with musicians and dancers."

"I will see they are admitted," said Sung.

Zangi-Ragozh nodded and walked up the long, curving path that led to his house; around him, the gardens were murmuring in the cold wind, many of the trees with bare branches, and only a few, hardy shrubs showing much color. As he reached the front of his house, Zangi-Ragozh paused to survey the building, then trod up the broad, shallow steps to the door, where his steward, Jho Chieh-Jen, admitted him promptly.

"You have a visitor," he announced.

"So Sung informed me," said Zangi-Ragozh. "I suppose you have seen to his comfort?"

"He is in the main salon; I have sent in oil cakes and bitter mountain tea." Jho ducked his head respectfully. "If you would care to see him now?"

"I'll go," said Zangi-Ragozh, waving away Jho's offer of escort. He noticed that the Roman painted-plaster panel was askew on the wall again and reminded himself to reweight the frame so it would hang evenly. As he opened the door to his salon, he straightened the red-edged cuffs of his black-silk sen-hsien. "Good day to you, Foreigner Lampong-Chelai. I trust fortune smiles upon you."

"Good day to you, Foreigner Zangi-Ragozh," said his guest, rising from a rosewood chair near the window. He was a middle-aged man, round-faced and plump, also in a sen-hsien, as law required, but one of persimmon-colored silk decorated with embroidery in the style of Vijaya, his home: Lampong-Chelai was the Chinese version of his name, just as Zangi-Ragozh was of his.

"I am delighted to see you," Zangi-Ragozh went on, following the dictates of good manners, "and I wonder what I am to have the honor of doing for you?"

"I was hoping I might ask a favor of you," Lampong-Chelai admitted, getting down to business without the usual social persiflage expected of morning visitors. "As you must know, there have been reports of rough seas and other dangers in the vicinity of Krakatau, the large volcano in the middle of the Sunda Passage."

"I know the mountain you mean, and I have been one who has had reports concerning the troubles there," said Zangi-Ragozh, aware that his visitor was truly worried.

"Ah. That makes my visit a little easier." He sighed. "It seems that some traders are avoiding ports in the region, and that is causing many problems for the merchants in the area."

"I can well imagine," said Zangi-Ragozh.

Lampong-Chelai paced the length of the salon, then came back toward Zangi-Ragozh. "And no doubt you have seen how it can damage trade far beyond fears justified."

"I have; but I have also seen situations when the dangers exceeded fears, as well." He kept his tone completely neutral, not wanting to offend this fellow-foreigner.

"I believe this may be one such instance where the postulation of danger is far beyond any actual risk," said Lampong-Chelai. "You know how the stories of such things are exaggerated. You must have seen volcanoes from time to time and know what one can expect from them — not like the merchants who have only traveled the rivers and never venture more than two days upstream. Volcanoes can be unpleasant; mostly they smoke and bellow, but nothing much happens."

"True enough," said Zangi-Ragozh. "But occasionally, they do erupt."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Dark of the Sun by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Copyright © 2004 Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is the author of more than twenty novels of the life and times of the Count Saint-Germain and other vampires, including Night Blooming, Midnight Harvest, A Feast in Exile, and the classic Hotel Transylvania. She has also written novels in a wide variety of other genres, including SF, fantasy, mystery, horror, western, and young adult adventure.


CHELSEA QUINN YARBRO has been nominated for the Edgar, the World Fantasy, and the Bram Stoker Awards.  She has been named a Grand Master of the World Horror Convention and a Living Legend by the International Horror Guild.  In 2014, she was named Lifetime Achievement Winner of the World Fantasy Award.  Author of many novels of horror, dark fantasy, mystery and more, including the St. Germain series, Yarbro lives in Berkeley, California.

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Dark of the Sun 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of my favorites of Yarbo's works. It truly highlights just how terrifying the world can become when things change, and how terrifying people can become. As a historian I read about events like this often, but this book made me FEEL it. It is a thick read and I finished it in two days because I could not put it down! Love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LindaSuzane More than 1 year ago
Fans of Saint-Germain will be absolutely delighted at this addition to the saga of the legendary vampire. It is the year 535 AD and Saint-Germain, aka Zangi-Ragozh, is a successful merchant in China. Called to wait upon the Chinese Emperor, Zangi-Rogozh starts to cross China with a small caravan and his faithful servant, Rojeh, when distant Krakatoa erupts in a mighty volcanic explosion that is even heard in distant Peking. Following the eruption, tsunamis destroy coastal towns and much of the shipping. (Shades of what recently happened in that area.) Tons of ash and sulfur are thrown into the atmosphere, ringing the world and causing severe weather changes. The sun dims. Burning sulfur rain and yellow snow fall. There is no spring, no summer, crops fail, famine and fevers plague not just some of the world, but everywhere. Many people believe that the end of the world is coming. Zangi-Ragozh decides to return to his homeland, the book covers his long and perilous journey. Those who know the series will find the glimpse afforded into Saint Germain's beginnings fascinating and the trials and tribulations that the hero must overcome interesting reading. Those new to the series may be surprised, for this series certainly is not like any other. Be prepared for a rich historical novel where the hero just happens to be a vampire rather than a vampire novel. There are no bloody animalistic feeding frenzies. While Saint-Germain does enjoy sex with his food, the heightening of emotions increases the power of the blood to sustain him, the stories lack the elaborate sexual fantasies of the typical vampire romance. And while Saint-Germain has his past anguishes, he is no brooding hero living in the throws of despair. In fact, having lived 2500 years has made him rather cautious and conservative. He tends to plan for the worse and believes in taking extra precautions. Still, he is very much a hero for the kindness and generosity that he displays, especially towards women, making him much more human than the humans around him. Nor have his vampire powers made him something of a super hero battling evil. No extraordinary powers such as an ability to change form or control minds. He possess the usual strengths, imperviousness to cold, excellent night vision, and an amazing ability to heal himself. But he is not dead to the world during the day nor does he burst into flames when touched by sunlight. He is weakened by running water and sunlight, but that can be countered to some extent by his native soil, which he keeps in the heel of his boots, stuffed into his saddle, and in a crate to sleep on. But Saint-Germain is more than a mere vampire. He is an intellectual, an Alchemist capable of changing lead into gold and making precious jewels, and a healer, who makes what he calls the sovereign remedy out of moldy bread. While we care about Saint-Germain, the author tells more than just his story as she blends letters from various ship captains, merchants, and friends to tell the story of the people he comes in contact with and the world in general during this time of crisis. This is not a fast read, but it is an interesting read, giving the reader a feel for a time and place from long ago. It is a worthy addition to what may possibly be the longest vampire series. Reviewed by Linda Suzane March 20, 2005 First published Vampire Books and Authors at Suite101.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
Twenty-five hundred years old vampire Count Saint-Germain uses the name of Zangi-Ragozh in Yang Chou, China where he heads a shipping and trading business. With him is loyal ghoul five hundred years old Ro-Shei. Wen Emperor Yuan Bou-Ju summons Zangi-Ragozh and other merchants to come to Chong¿en; none realize that half a world away Mount Krakatoa erupted and will change the world for several years afterward................................. Zangi-Ragozh gets his first inkling of the change when the sun fails to rise above the volcanic ash that seems to be all over the atmosphere. Being out in daylight does not bother the Count as much, but along with this benefit comes the downside that travel to Chong¿en is impossible. Crops fail and famine becomes the norm. Zangi-Ragozh returns to his place of birth by joining the caravan of the Desert Cats. He earns passage by bartering his medical skills, but is tossed out when the clan bans foreigners. They meet again in Tak-Kala where a magician who he trusts betrays him even as danger from the famished survivors mounts............................... Never in the long running series has Saint-Germain come closer to the True Death than he does in this time of the DARK OF THE SUN. He has lost much of his native earth, willing donors are rare, and has a potentially lethal wound. The Krakatoa effect on the world adds depth and turns the novel in many ways in spite of a vampiric protagonist into more a historical than a supernatural tale. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro provides another fantastic reading experience for her fans....................... Harriet Klausner