A New Vampire Series, Based in Fact
From Author Tony-Paul De Vissage
“Shadow Lord will draw you into a world where love, vengeance and honor intermingle. It will change the way you think about vampires.”
--Tony Eldridge, author of The Samson Effect
It was a lovely Southern summer afternoon—late afternoon, in fact. What the townspeople called “evening,” that time before day turns into night and the sun begins to dim. It was around six o’clock when Warene de Vissage stepped from the dining room of the house onto the back porch, calling to her child to come in for dinner. The sinking sun was shining on the back side of the house and Warene was sheltered from its rays by four walls and a roof. Nevertheless, she could see the heat rising in shimmering waves from the sidewalk fifteen feet away behind the barrier of a running rose-covered picket fence. She could also feel that same heat touching her skin and surrounding her like a prickling aura.
Wrapping her arms protectively across her chest, she hurried back inside not waiting for the child to obey.
The next morning, Warene awoke in agony. Her skin burned, felt hot and tight. Staggering out of bed and to the mirror above her vanity, she stared at the horrorific image before her…its skin crimson and scorched, blistered and scaling, the burst edges of blisters curled and inflamed. As if someone had held her over an open fire. To touch her face brought excruciating pain. To look at it brought tears. It itched, it burned, and the awful part was…she knew why.
The sun…reflecting off the pavement.
Hadn’t she felt its heat? She’d dared step outside during daylight, thinking just this once, it wouldn’t matter…just this once, so late in the day, she wouldn’t suffer, but though she hurried back inside, that damnable sun still found her, and did its work.
It would be weeks before she would heal.
This may sound like the beginning of a vampire story, but it’s true, taken from my own mother’s life. Maman suffered from PMLE. Polymorphic light eruption is one of the less virulent forms of XP, xeroderma pigmentosum…a condition in which an individual’s DNA cannot repair the damage done to the skin by ultraviolet rays. There is also the danger of cancer ( 2,000 times stronger than for an unaffected individual) or progressive neurological damage.
Not much was known about it back in Maman’s day and she was given no treatment, except the usual and customary treatment prescripts for an “allergy,” which did absolutely nothing in the way of alleviating her pain, and definitely didn’t provide a cure. One doctor actually suggested ultraviolet treatments, and the result of that…you can imagine.
Although they now say that PMLE generally resolves itself by age 30, there’s no cure for XP. XP suffers never come out in daylight; they live their entire lives after dark. Maman, however, refused to do that. Probably because she had no true knowledge of what she was suffering from, and because she had a family to take care of, she simply forged ahead with her life. She was never able to go into the sunlight without being completely covered from head-to-toe, even on the most overcast days. Long pants, knee socks, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, a neck scarf, and a wide-brimmed hat were her usual attire when leaving the house, plus the addition of an umbrella…and still, she could be touched by sunlight reflecting from the pavement or any surface, and going through her clothes to cause first degree burns.
PMLE/XP appears to be hereditary, though the occurrence is one in a million, so I was lucky; even with my blond hair and fair skin, I can walk in sunlight with no more than the normal fear of getting a sunburn. SPF-70 sunblock and I are old friends, however, and I use it faithfully. My mother’s skin, where it wasn’t scarred by old, healed burns (mostly on her arms), was as pale and translucent as a piece of alabaster.
In hindsight, I imagine this condition also contributed to her death of ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.
Okay, you’re probably saying about now. This is all very interesting, and you have our sympathy, Tony-Paul, but… What does this have to do with vampires? I want to hear about your latest novel, not your familial illnesses.
The inference is obvious, and may be one of the ways the vampire myth began. If you were a superstititious person living in a primitive time when it was believed the sun sank into the sea every night and rose from it every morning, and you saw someone actually burned by that same sun…someone who was only comfortable after dark and only felt he could safely come out of his dwelling in nighttime…what would you think? Other opinions have been offered: premature burials, porphyria, lycanthropy. I’m certain all these—plus PMLE and XP—attributed to the legend a good many of us who are writers have used to our advantage.
When I began my series The Second Species, I wanted my vampires to be different, not the usual Undead, sleeping-in-a-coffin type. So I made them a living people, a second species of Mankind, divorced from their human brothers because of their differences. They have many characteristics of the Undead but I’ve given them acceptable reasons: the entire group suffers from XP, therefore they can’t emerge into sunlight. I explained away other vampiric characteristics. They have allergies—the most powerful one being to garlic and certain herbs. Their refusal to look at crosses, etc., is not because they are repulsed by them but because their own religion demands they not look on the sacred objects of other faiths, and so on. They have certain Laws, Canon handed down from their gods, to govern their behavior, especially in regard to humans. Understanding how normal people fear them, they have hidden themselves away in the cloud-covered peaks of the Carpathians where the sun never penetrates and whenever they emerge, tragedy inevitably follows.
That is the story behind the creation of my “vampires,” based in fact, elaborated in fiction. The first novel in the series, Shadow Lord, is now available from Double Dragon Publishing. Look for it…I think you’ll enjoy it…and feel a little sympathy for those true suffers “deprived of God’s holy sunlight.”
Though the sun had been down for many hours, Elsabeta Suvoi was still abed. Her lover liked her that way, wanting his woman where she was convenient whenever his lust seized him. Elsabeta was slavishly in love with Mircea Ravagiu. He was violent and insatiable, as cruel in bed as out of it, but she worshipped him. It had been so from the moment they met, after her father’s reluctant invitation to a banchet at his castel. Elsabeta had taken one look at the black-eyed warrior, saw the lustful gleam in his eyes, and left with him that night against her parents’ wishes. She’d sullied the Suvoi name to become his iubita...and she didn’t care.
He never spoke aloud that he loved her, though often he praised her body for the satisfaction it gave him. He said straightaway she should never expect marriage or offspring, but Elsabeta was a female of her time from a family of women considered mere chattels to their males, so she accepted his domination without argument. Running away with Mircea was her one independent act.
At first horrified by the bloody orgies and attacks upon the deomi, the humans living on the edges of his estate, she now ignored his rapaciousness and his brutal games, letting his prowess in bed distract her. When her lover and his soldati returned from their hunts, she locked herself in her bedchamber, its thick walls drowning out the screams from below. It was the cries of the children cut most into her soul. At those times, she thanked the Oracle Ravagiu swore he’d never get her with child, for it came into her mind should it happen, it might be her own infant shrieking out its life in the castel banquet chamber.
To Elsabeta, Mircea Ravagiu was like one of the dreadful Ancient Ones who devoured its own offspring. She truly believed he wouldn’t hesitate to rip out his own child’s throat and drink its blood should the thought come to him. Yet, with that perversity Nature renders some, she loved the man and never thought to leave him.
She was jerked from her semi-slumber by the chamber door being kicked open, sat up to stare at the figure in the doorway...Mircea, upper body bare, wings hovering around him. They were still quivering, evidence he’d flown rapidly and had just landed. From where she sat, she could hear his harsh panting. He held something in his arms.
“Get dressed.” No words of greeting or love. Just an order.
“Why? What’s the matter?” A loud crashing came through the doorway, voices crying out. “What’s that noise?”
“My men are disposing of the vanjosi.” He answered as calmly as if merely announcing the moon had risen. “Strigoi’s freak’s on his way here and we have to go.”
“You should’ve expected this.” She dared remind him of what he’d done, though it jeopardized her own life. “Did you think you could slaughter his family and he wouldn’t retaliate?”
She’d been horrified when he returned from his brother’s castel announcing they’d been executed by the Prince’s Taietor, didn’t believe it when he said he planned to kill the Shadow Lord and his family. She hadn’t thought he’d succeed and waited to be told he was dead,
resigned to living the rest of her days as an outcast for the choice she’d made. And then, Mircea returned, bloodily triumphant...and Janos Strigoi and his wife were dead and their children carried away to be tortured before their blood nourished their father’s enemy.
“I never thought that book-bound scholastic’d have balls enough to take a sword in his hands.” He stalked into the room. The sounds from below got louder, women screaming, men shouting, voices abruptly cut off to be replaced by others just as terrified. “Get up or you’ll join my servants.”
Sliding from the bed, she hastened to obey but as she reached for her chemise and overskirt, he said, “We’re flying. Make certain your wings are unhampered.”
The bundle he held began to move. It squirmed, kicking itself free of the swathing
blanket. A plump little leg, an arm...a baby, a little girl-child, tiny and out of place in Mircea’s deadly embrace.
“Dear one.” Elsabeta stopped with the garment in her hands. A sick dread twisted inside
her. “W-who’s that?”
“My daughter.” His answer was as short as if he’d bitten the word. “Now.”
Daughter? How can he have a child? Hadn’t he told her he wished no brats, that the only thing he wanted from them was their sweet, immortality-laden blood?
Shrugging her wings out of their concealing pouches, she peered at the infant. The child
whimpered, turning her head and holding out her hands. She was blond and blue-eyed, not quite a year old. This is Janos Strigoi’s child. Elsabeta’s heart felt as if it had been wrung dry.
“What are you going to do with her?” Even as she asked the question, she knew she had to prevent it. If she had to risk her own life and finally brave Mircea’s wrath, she couldn’t let him harm this child.
“It’ll be fitting, don’t you think?” His laugh was harsh. “Raising the Shadow Lord’s brat as
my own? Teaching her how to be a Ravagiu and some day, letting the survivors know?”
“No! Please…” A woman’s scream floated up to them, dying away in a bloody wail.
“Are you ready?” He thrust the child into her arms. Elsabeta cuddled it against her naked breast, holding the little body tightly. I must do whatever it takes to protect this baby. If it kills me.
He held out his hand.
“Where are we going?” She placed her own in it. He led her toward the window.
“I’m fortunate my brother saw fit to have holdings in other countries and I’ve traveled to them.” One fist struck the shutters, sending them flying. He climbed upon the sill. “We’re going to Budapest. Hold tight to the brat. If you drop her, I’ll kill you.”
He flung himself through the window into the air. Naked as she was, Elsabeta was pulled along, clutching the child. Releasing her hand, Mircea circled and rose swiftly, his body completing a graceful curve as he aimed himself over the trees, Elsabeta trailing after him.
Below them, the killings continued for another hour.
Shadow Lord is available from Double Dragon Publishing.
Buy at Amazon:
Buy at Double Dragon Publishing: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=Shadow%20Lord