Linda Robertson writes the Persephone Alcmedi series for Pocket/Juno books, the fifth book was released just a few days ago, Dec. 27. She hails from Mansfield, Ohio, is a mother of four boys and is currently a guitarist in the band Hagatha’s Bluff. Her website is: authorlindarobertson.com
These creatures of the night have seized their iconic status and are running like hell with it. Some folks love ‘em when portrayed as romantic. Some folks want ‘em to be written more like the classic predator from the old silent film Nosferatu.
Me, I like something a bit more in the middle. I mean yes, I like my vampires to be old but to look young. I like them to be powerful and intelligent and have a penchant for badness–y’know the Machiavellian vamp—but to show that he/she is not locked into that behavior.
When a character can surprise you without losing the character that is uniquely theirs, will keep you guessing, keep you interested, and keep you coming back for more.
So what is it that intrigues me about the agelessness of the vamp? The idea that they’ve existed long enough to have mastered all the cycles and patterns of life. I mean they are still human at their core, still subject to the memories and temperament of the person they were in life. I figure that in the same way that regular mortals study their heroes (such as an athlete to emulate) as they aspire to be more like them, vampires have had to study humans. Not only to hunt them better, but perhaps in an ironic “grass is greener over there” way…as in now that they are lifeless, the living are more exotic.
But I say that to say this: if you were undead and had power, intelligence, and wealth, wouldn’t you mess with the mortal people around you? In the least, after centuries of existing, and with all those aforementioned abilities at your disposal, combating the boredom could take on some twisted notions.
Hence…Menessos. He’s been around so long he’s damn good at predicting the behavior of others and uses this to his advantage. He’s usually a few steps ahead of those around him, and as this excerpt shows, how he speaks and what he doesn’t say, can be as important as what he does say.
The stage lighting lowered. A spotlight illuminated Seven where she stood just in front of them. “Meroveus Franciscus, Advisor to the Excelsior…and party,” she announced. She stepped out of the light, allowing Mero and [his female guests] to replace her in the glow and on the viewscreens placed to either side of the stage.
He felt the scrutiny of the haven members from the darkness below them. Seven gestured for him to descend the steps. Mero preceded the women down into the midst of the haven members at their tables, crossing the floor and pausing before the stage. He admired the set up. Most havens he’d seen of late had the master on a dais of some kind, but this, this was tactically superior. One had to climb a ramp to get to the otherwise railed-off stage. Retreating would involve ascending the equivalent of three flights of stairs just to make the hallway.
And anything could be behind those stage curtains.
Knowing what he had been sent here to do, and how outnumbered he was, understanding the security and the location of exits was necessary. There weren’t any good, immediate options…but Menessos was in attendance. He has to know why I’m here. Whether he fights this or not, he must know there is only one way for this to end.
Mero stopped a few yards away from the ramp that led to the stage. “Greetings, Quarterlord, and Hail to thee, Menessos, Magus Periti Nocte.” Mero bowed low, as did those with him, as the formal greeting between wizards was spoken. The wizard greeting was not required, but it would force Menessos to greet him in kind and that would make everyone here knew that Mero was a magical force equal to their esteemed master.
“Hail to thee, Meroveus, Magus Periti Nocte. I extend the greetings of this court to you, Advisor to the Excelsior, and to your companions.”
Mero tilted his head in acquiescence of the greeting.
“What brings you, Meroveus Franciscus and party?”
He noted that Menessos had also carefully avoided acknowledging him as a friend from centuries past. At least Mero had some time to play diplomat and consider what that meant. “The Excelsior has noticed that your behavior has had a rebellious flavor of late.”
“Rebellious?” Menessos’s mouth crooked up on one side. “Have I…provoked…our Excelsior with such actions?”
The emphasis gave Mero a clue. They used to play such games in the courts of deviant masters. One of them would infiltrate the haven, suffer the rise to some authority. When the other would appear, the first engaged him in a fiery debate in court. They emphasized certain words to signal each other on how to respond or to conduct an underlying conversation that others were oblivious to. Sometimes their purpose was best served if the newcomer lost his temper, and sometimes the newcomer had to incite the mole. It was a ruse that required deep trust between the two of them.
But this was Menessos’s haven. The authority was his, so…Do I trust him that much still? Would he use our past to play me? Is he this far under the thumb of his witch? “You didn’t seek the Excelsior’s…consent…before relocating your haven.” His timed glance toward the witch meant his single word was a question about her. He hoped Menessos understood it as, “Do you consent to her?”
“It is my haven. To do with as I see fit.”
Mero understood that to mean that Menessos was still the master here, and that whatever show was to occur would be for the benefit of his haven. Or his witch.
Mero nodded once, shutting his eyes to indicate he understood the message.
In a monotone, Menessos added, “Chicago had become tedious.”
Speaking without inflection and using a plain verb like “had become” instead of something more telling meant the message was complete. Mero continued, ready to provoke Menessos. “The Excelsior expects to be apprised when his Quarterlords make such changes.”
Menessos waved dismissively. “I sent him a change of address card.”
Quiet laughter swept through his court.
Mero waited until the crowd had quieted once more. “Indeed, but only after this property was purchased and renovations had begun.”
“Ah…had I asked the Excelsior to bankroll the move, then I would have needed his permission. As I require no financial sponsor, I personally paid the expense of all aspects of the relocation. Therefore, I am at liberty to do as I please.”
“To do as you please?” It was a striking statement; repeating it made the crowd stir uncomfortably. Mero knew when talking with Menessos it was he who did all the conversational navigation. Mero just had to keep up and do his part.
“Within my jurisdiction, of course. Cleveland is well within the borders of my quarter of the United States.”
“That is true, but a decision such as this forces the Excelsior to ask what other broad decisions you might see fit to—”
“Do you mean to imply that a Quarterlord has not earned the right to make such broad decisions? Does the Excelsior plan to micromanage the Quarterlords now?”
“No, my lord. I mean to imply only that the Excelsior finds the relocation of a Quarterlord’s entire haven to be noteworthy prior to the move.”
Menessos was quiet for a heartbeat. “Have you come to censure me, Meroveus Franciscus?”
My sincerest thanks to Lori Devoti for having me on her blog!
Web Site: authorlindarobertson.com