Evelyn Chartres Author
The Van Helsing Paradox – Page 2

Les Filles de Jeanne D’Arc – Part III

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

The next day Clara returned to her classes. There was a renewed fire within her heart, especially when it came to matters of faith. Clara was very keen to ensure that creatures like Jack would have a natural aversion to her. If all it took was a little faith, then she would make sure to have plenty on hand. All she needed was to change her perspective, such as dismissing the will of God as blind luck; that in itself was starting to seem unlikely that luck was the only factor. After all this was her second encounter with one of them where she got away.

Once the sun had set, Edith came down the stairs and went straight for Clara. It was rare for Clara to come across the older students since they were often out on advanced training. Edith was especially difficult to keeps tabs on for reasons that she never knew.

“Clara,” Edith said to get her attention. “You’re being transferred,” she added.

“Where to,” Clara asked.

“Les Filles de Jeanne d’Arc,” Edith said.

Clara’s eyes brightened, but did not let any more than that betray her composure. She had heard of this group named after Joan of Arc. The only woman in history to have lead a nation’s armies into battle.

It was said that these were an elite group of girls who advanced quickly through the ranks. Their training was rigorous and secretive, in fact even publicly admitting to being a part of that group meant dismissal.

Clara often wondered just what could be learned as part of that group. Up until now she had no particular affiliation, even though she had progressed at a faster pace than her peers. Her youth was seen as a serious hindrance to joining such a group. That is until now.

“When,” Clara asked.

“Immediately,” Edith said with a smile.

This was an opportunity of a lifetime and Clara silently hoped to avoid the fate of their namesake. Tied to a stake and burned as a heretic for her faith, Clara could not think think of an outcome that was less desirable.

“Very well,” Clara said. “I suppose,” she added with a wink.

Fortunately her attempt at humour had been well received. Since Edith was directly involved with this group, it paid to have a friend within their ranks.

Les Filles de Jeanne D’Arc – Part II

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

“Why has Clara returned late from her sabbatical,” the Reverend Mother asked.

Clara was about to speak, to explain her situation but Edith jumped in instead. At least this time Clara did not need to talk her way out of trouble

“She was attacked by one of them Reverend Mother,” Edith said in a formal tone. “She claims that a former student who was known as Jonathan Carmichael was responsible,” she added.

This was the first time that Clara had seen a change in the Reverend Mother’s stoic mask. This time her eyes went wide with surprise; of all the times to wish for a camera!

“Is this true child,” Augustine asked.

“Yes Reverend Mother,” Clara replied.

“Clara also discovered that Jonathan had been responsible for the disappearance of at least six other girls over the past two years,” Edith said.

The Reverend Mother cocked her brow. That sort of information was hard to come by and easily appeared to be far fetched. This was precisely the scenario that Clara had wished to avoid.

“Sometimes truth was stranger than fiction,” Clara thought.

“How child,” Augustine asked.

“I got lucky Reverend Mother,” Clara replied.

“Surely there is more to the story than mere luck,” the Reverend Mother asked.

Clara took a deep breath and began to recite her sordid tale. She went over the details on how Jack set a trap, how she gained the upper hand and cleared up the evidence. The Reverend Mother hung on every word in awe on how calm Clara appeared to be, or at least on the outside.

She then went on to describe the artwork and focused on the portrait she brought with her. Evidence that provided a vital link to the Father Michael’s death, recent whereabouts of the one responsible and hinted at the scope of their intelligence network. To be honest, it left them with more questions than it answered.

Clara doubted she would be involved in any effort to tie all of this information together. Although she was certain that Tower was marginally safer, at least for now.

“Please leave us please child,” the Reverend Mother said.

Clara nodded and left without saying a word. All the while she wondered why Edith would remain.

On her way down the stairs, she saw several members of the staff hurry on by. It seemed that Clara had created a bit of a stir; a rare occasion where this type of response did not land her in hot water.

A Quick Revision Update

Since Revision 3 was completed on 22 Jan 2018, three more revisions were completed for the Van Helsing Paradox. These revisions all aimed at improving the overall readability of the manuscript.

Of note there were 1827 revisions and a averaged 38 words between corrections for Revision 3. This followed the trends noted during my review of the Grand and that remains true with this project. The particulars of the cycles are as follows:

Revision 4

  • Revisions – 928
  • Revisions per Word – 70

Revision 5

  • Revisions – 825
  • Revisions per Word – 78

Revision 6

  • Revisions – 788
  • Revisions per Word – 147

The Revisions per Word metric is the most telling, every additional revision leads to fewer corrections to make. While corrections do tend to be grouped together in the manuscript, I can now read pages at a time without making any notes. This trend is expected to continue until the Revisions to make number under 100. That’s normally my cue to send it off to my editor for polish prior to release.

 

Les Filles de Jeanne D’Arc – Part I

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

Clara had no idea what to expect once she got back to the Tower. Full-fledged hunters with years of experience often disappeared without a trace, so for an acolyte to return where so many had failed? Now that was bound to get some attention.

Clara knew that her credibility would be questioned. Others had claimed kills that were not their own to progress through the ranks. Such a lie would be far more plausible than returning as the victor after walking into a trap.

Clara took a deep breath while focusing on the door leading into the Tower. While this area had no defences beyond obfuscation, Clara was certain that something would happen once she opened that door. The question was what?

Clara closed her eyes, let out her breath and recited a prayer. With one push of her hand the door gave way and she crossed the threshold.

~ ~ ~ ~

Blinding white light greeted her on the other side, Clara struggled in vain to keep her eyes open. Even during that brief attempt her vision was marred with deep purple streaks.

So that particular door led to other destinations? Clara had suspected that direct and unfettered access to the Tower would pose a security risk. In a way, it was reassuring to learn that the Tower had a few more secrets left, especially those which favoured self-preservation.

Clara did not move, because she felt the sharp edge of a blade touch her skin. A thin rivulet of blood ran down her neck but she was not worried. This had been a warning, if they wanted her dead, Clara would have never known what hit her.

“There are very few ways to trigger the Tower’s defences,” Edith said.
Clara said nothing, since speaking would only worsen the bleeding. If Edith was interested in an answer, she would have to permit it.

“Traitors are not welcome here,” Edith said. “So why are you still alive,” she asked.

The blade remained firmly in place. Chances were that Edith had expected Clara to be a smouldering heap of ash right now.

“I wonder if that would the best time to cook a marshmallow,” Clara thought.

At this moment Clara was in Limbo, caught in a state between life and death. Clara needed to convince Edith that she was not here to betray them.

Clara reached into her pocket in a slow and deliberate manner. She then found her prize and dropped them onto the floor. The two bloodied fangs made no more sound than a pin drop. Wherever they were it had to be spacious to dampen the sound to this extent.

“Where did you get those,” Edith asked while she sheathed her blade.

Clara turned around and felt something being dropped into her hands. Her fingers probed the metallic, glass and leather device. Without a second thought she slipped them over her head to protect her eyes. Now she had the opportunity to take a look at where she was.

Edith stood before her while sporting spectacles fitted with onyx coloured lenses. They looked a bit like welders glasses and assumed she had been given an identical pair.

“Jack surrendered them,” Clara said.

“Jack,” Edith asked with a hint of confusion.

Clara nodded before she said, “Must have been turned a couple of years back.”

“Jack? We had no intelligence on this,” Edith said.

Clara pulled out the folded canvas portrait which contained the list of girls killed. The portrait had the same effect on Edith as it had for Clara.

“He was careful on who to ambush and when,” Clara said. “He even painted a tableau mort for every one of those poor girls,” she added.

“You got the better on him,” Edith asked.

“I got lucky,” Clara said. “So what now,” she asked.

Edith focused intently on Clara’s facial features. In that moment her fate was being decided based on very little evidence. Clara hoped that this glimpse at the truth was enough.

“Follow me,” Edith said.

They walked away from the blinding light until the levels dropped to a manageable level. Both Edith and Clara removed their glasses and hung them against a whitewashed wall. It took a moment, but Edith found a hidden latch which enabled her to push away a portion of the wall.

Clara had visited many fortifications as part of her training. She saw arrow slits in the rock and larger openings that would permit a small cannon loaded with grapeshot to fire salvos. Simply put, this was a killing field designed to prevent entry.

At the end of the tunnel there were heavy steel doors reinforced with massive rivets. Clara had never seen those doors before. Once they walked through, Clara found herself safely within the confines of the Terminus.

“A pocket of reality to keep undesirables away,” Edith said.

That was a detail that Jack would have wanted to get his hands on, so Clara would have died for nothing. Another reason why Clara should have been thankful that her strategy had worked out after all.

A moment later they were back in the Main Hall. No one seemed to be paying her any particular attention so no alarms had been raised. Edith moved at a frightening pace, so Clara did her best to keep up even while they made their way up to the Reverend Mother’s office.

Clara had been to see her before, to clear up some misunderstandings. Old habits did die hard after all, but this time there would be a lot of explaining to do.

Two Ships Passing in the Night – Part V

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

Clara sat at a table by her favourite café. She observed the morning crowd flow while they made their way to work or school. There was a certain sense of satisfaction for not being bound by the clock.


Busy sipping on a latté, Clara closed her eyes and relaxed. While she was not bound by time, she knew someone whose time was about to come at an abrupt end.

The first break in flow started with a few hushed voices. With every passing second, the crowd grew larger until people began to panic.

“Fire! Fire,” a man exclaimed marking it as the first coherent statement yet.

Hurried footsteps passed by, close enough that clara felt the rush of air pass by. Within five minutes she heard sirens approaching in the distance.

Clara opened her eyes and saw a mob surrounding the bistro. She feigned curiosity but knew exactly that was going on.

“Sir,” Clara asked in an alarmed voice. “What is going on,” she asked.

“The Cabaret down the street is on fire,” the man replied without taking his eyes off the carnage.

“A shame,” Clara thought, seeing how that would delay breakfast.
“Is anyone hurt,” Clara asked, but was ignored.

For the next several hours the crowd grew and contracted like the tide. Men fought hard to save the building but the fire ultimately claimed its prize. Eventually the stone structure was reduced to a smouldering heap of broken brick and stone.

“That should take care of all evidence nicely,” Clara thought.

She got up from the table, paid her tab with a generous tip and melted into the crowd. Today was a new day and seeing that traitorous bastard burn made things right as rain.

She thought back over one of Professor Stephen’s lectures. Many of the students had chosen to ignore his wisdom, discounting it as a work of fantasy.

Clara had known better and paid close attention to the lecture on the effects of daylight for these creatures. Direct light could sear flesh or during longer exposures cause the body to erupt in a fiery inferno. In that moment, she knew that their bodies could easily be disposed of.

All she needed was a clear head and a little forethought. That knowledge had certainly done the trick this morning.