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Hunt for Human Souls Begins in NIGHT PLEASURES

After setting the web community ablaze a year and a half ago with the early launch of www.Dark-Hunter.com, Sherrilyn Kenyon's 'Bad Boys of Immortality,' her deliciously dangerous Dark-Hunter Warriors, finally hit the shelves this month to battle for your soul...

by Cindy Schwalb

After the longest countdown for any series launch, nearly 600 days, the wait is over for online paranormal romance fans. The first Dark-Hunter is here, bringing a host of other mythic worlds and immortal creatures. Kyrian of Thrace, Dark-Hunter since some one hundred years Before Common Era and a former Ancient Greek general, has saved thousands of human lives, but is known to none. Like most other Dark-Hunters, he was transformed into an immortal warrior by the Greek Goddess Artemis to destroy Apollo's cursed race of Daimons (vampires). Artemis came to him, as she had the others, when he was dying from the mortal wounds caused by betrayal, and offered him the power of vengeance and the powerto save other souls in jeopardy. Accepting this pact, Kyrian was given immortality, extrasensory perception, unlimited wealth and power, and the ability to summon the gods.

In NIGHT PLEASURES, Kyrian will need every ounce of strength to battle the oldest and most dangerous Daimon, Desiderious, who has made it his quest to kill every Dark-Hunter he finds.

Kyrian is tricked in his first attempt to bring Desiderious down and awakes handcuffed to what he believes is his worst nightmare: 'a smart, conservative woman who wears her shirts buttoned up
to her chin.' Amanda Deveraux and her twin, Tabitha, a self-professed vampire slayer, have become Desiderious' next targets, along with Kyrian himself.

The Dark-Hunters and the other packs of Hunter-Warriors (Dream-Hunters and Were-Hunters) that are introduced in NIGHT PLEASURES have been waiting in the wings since 1986, when Sherrilyn Kenyon (aka historical romance author Kinley MacGregor) first began mapping her vast and dark realm of sexy, tortured and sarcastic warriors. Her layered worlds, with their own history that intermingles with ours, are complex enough to keep her writing well into her next life—and it looked as if she might have to wait until then to find a publishing house for these immortal bad boys.

Then at once everything changed. After NIGHT PLEASURES and its prequel, Fantasy Lover (Jan. '02), finally sold to Jennifer Enderlin at St. Martin's, Sherri couldn't wait to begin building an online version of her warrior worlds, and created three interlocking sites to showcase her hunters—the primary Dark-Hunters, Were-Hunters, and Dream-Hunters.

However, when she asked a reader for feedback on the site in February 2001, the link was posted on several message boards and her test-marketing spun out of control. The next thing Sherrilyn knew, she was receiving 500 e-mails a day and had trouble keeping her site from crashing. No doubt her pictures of scantily clad warrior hunks had something to do with all the fuss. Since then, www.Dark-Hunter.com has received more than two million hits.

For those unfamiliar with the Hunter-Warriors' online domain, join Sherrilyn for a tour—past and present—of the 'movers and shape-shifters' of her Hunter-Warrior worlds…

Enter Sherrilyn Kenyon's Hunter-Warriors' World...

Daimons: The Curse of Apollo

Centuries ago, the Greek god Apollo created a race that he boasted would be superior to mankind. Made from his own flesh and blood, he dubbed the new race Apollite and gave them superior strength and psychic abilities.

It wasn't long before the Apollites decided that they, because
of their abilities and powers, should be rulers over mankind and began a war with the Greek humans that lasted for centuries.

To attract the mercy of Apollo, the Greeks offered the god the most beautiful woman among their kind. And it worked! Ryssa instantly charmed Apollo and won his heart. In time, she bore him a son and the tide of war changed in favor of the Greeks.

Furious over their creator's betrayal, the Apollites decided to destroy Apollo's link to the Greeks by assassinating Ryssa and her son. In retaliation, Apollo cursed the foolish Apollites. They were given the fangs of a beast and the eyes of a predator. They were banished from the gift of the sun so that Apollo would never again have to look upon any of them and be reminded of their treachery. From that day forward, they would require blood to live—Apollite blood. If they fail to feed from each other, they will die.

The worst part of the curse is that since Ryssa was 27 at death, no Apollite could live past this age, but on the 27th birthday, would age and painfully decay over a 2-hour period. The only way for an Apollite to live is to steal human souls. Once they begin doing this, they are then classified as Daimons. But as soon as a human soul resides inside a Daimon's body, it begins to die. The stronger a soul is, the longer it lasts, but even the strongest of souls can only last at most five to six months. At this point, the Daimon must find another soul.

The Dark-Hunters: Artemis's Darlings

The other Greek gods, as well as Apollo, didn't want the Daimons
to destroy mankind, so Artemis created the Dark-Hunters to hunt them down and destroy them, releasing whatever human souls reside in their Daimon bodies.

Dark-Hunters are created from ancient warriors who have been wronged. When they were dying—from an act of betrayal or brutal treachery—the screams of their souls echoed through the mountains of Olympus. When Artemis heard that sound, she'd go to the one who made it and form a pact. In exchange for a single Act of Vengeance against the one(s) who wronged the dying warrior, the warrior will swear his fealty to her service, thereby spending the rest of eternity hunting down the Daimon menace. Since the creation of a Dark-Hunter warrior is situational and consensual, they come from all walks of life and all cultures. Some are human (including women), some are Apollites, Were-Hunters and even gods.

Because every Dark-Hunter is so different, so are their powers. Their psychic abilities and physical powers hinge on what skills they had developed during their mortal lives.

Squires: The Human Players

When Dark-Hunters were created, Artemis made a pact with Acheron, the original and only DH for two thousand years, that she would provide for them so that they could maintain their focus on killing Daimons. To help them, they were given human servants/employees originally called Shield-Bearers, but now called Squires.

Squires are either the children of other Squires or they are recruited by Squires and Dark-Hunters.

Squires have an elaborate set-up that can quickly obtain anything a Dark-Hunter or another Squire needs. They have lawyers, doctors, bankers, pilots, etc., as well as establishments such as hospitals, restaurants, and libraries that appear to serve humans as a front, but in reality were established solely to serve the Dark-Hunters.

Were-Hunters: King Lycaon's Magic

About five thousand years ago, King Lycaon of Arcadia, a powerful magician, had unknowingly fallen in love with and married an Apollite. Naturally, on her 27th birthday, his beautiful wife began to quickly decay. It was then he realized she was an Apollite and that the two sons she had borne him would also die at age 27.

Unwilling to give such a fate to his beloved sons, Lycaon set
out to use his magic to find some way to elongate Apollite life.

By combining their human life force with that of an animal's he was able to break the curse. Instead of living only 27 years, they now had life expectancies of close to a thousand years. And because they were born of magic and are descended from the psychic Apollites, these beings ended up with a lot of extras such as telepathy, telekinesis, time-travel abilities and shape-shifting.

But theirs is a complicated race: because each person and animal was split in half, Lycaon ended up with two beings instead of one. One creature was human-based, meaning it held the heart of a human, while the other was animal-based with an animal heart.

Those of human hearts are called Arcadians and those with the animal hearts are dubbed Katagaria, meaning rogue. There was conflict from the very beginning between the two races. The Arcadians believed the Katagaria were lesser beings because they allowed their animal instincts to rule them.

The Katagaria were mistrustful of their human counterparts because humans are often deceptive. If a wolf dislikes you, he attacks you openly. If a human dislikes you, he can smile to your face and stab you in the back.

It wasn't long before war broke out between these two groups and it continues on into today. There are villains and heroes on both sides. And when not fighting each other, they will assist the Dark-Hunters.

Dream-Hunters

The Dream-Hunters are the sons and daughters of the gods of sleep: Morpheus, Hypnos, Phobetor, Icelus, Phantasos, and Thanatos. They are themselves gods and demigods depending on who their mothers were. Long ago, they angered Zeus by toying with his sleep—they had only wanted to make mischief by playing with their uncle. To punish them for it, Zeus banished all emotions from them.

The only way they can experience real emotion is to enter someone's dreams and syphon emotions from them while they sleep. They are only supposed to be observers in a dream—unseen phantoms who only visit a living host a time or two and then move on. However, the act of syphoning can become so addictive that they begin to feed off the dreamers and to manipulate dreams to heighten the experience. In some cases, they even become addicted to a host.

Whenever this happens, the offending Dream-Hunters are then classified as Skoti and are marked for punishment. They are hunted down by the Oneroi and brought before Hypnos for punishment.

In dreams, they can only be fought by others of their kind. They are gods and have the full range of god powers. When in human form, they are still gods and are very much omnipotent. They assume human form to 'mark' a host, meaning they scope the host out and follow them with a psychic link that enables the Dream-Hunter to infiltrate dreams later.

Hunter Branches

The three branches above form the Pyramid of Protection that keeps mankind safe from all the different kinds of psychic predators who could easily kill or enslave us—despite the fact that some of our protectors might not be entirely pure themselves. Dream-Hunters will mark you but can protect you from Skoti; distinguishing the good and the bad among Were-Hunters could be anybody's guess; but two things always remain the same: the Daimon will always take your soul, and the Dark-Hunter will always be your salvation.

Most often the branches work alone, but they do team up together for not only human protection, but were-hunter and god protection too.

To read an excerpt of NIGHT PLEASURES, meet the Dark-Hunters, read their profiles and—of course—start the countdown all over again for Sherri's next DH title, visit www.sherrilynkenyon.com or www.dark-hunter.com. You can even apply to become a Squire and learn the Dark-Hunter's creed.


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