A lost city in the jungle…a safari of scientists…a stolen artifact… A curse is exacted upon the thieves, with the hero struggling to save his friends before the sacred object is returned to its home.
How many times has this theme been played out in books, movies, and television? It’s a standard script for a late night SYFY Channel flick. Also, the theme of my latest vampire novel…up to a point.
There’s a lost city and a sacred object is stolen from the city but there the similarity ends. The stolen sacred object is the Emperor himself–Semris II, son of the god of Death, a demon godling with too much curiosity about the Outside World. An intelligent, articulate being, Semris is befriended by the man guarding him.
Tucker Upchurch is a graduate student, accompanying his professor on the safari which will change his life forever. All he wants are enough credits to graduate and marry his girl. What he gets is something far better, and far worse. Ordered to stand guard over the imprisoned demon, he immediately questions the morality of kidnapping Semris and once he begins to communicate with his captive, agrees to help him escape. From that moment on, Tuck’s life will never be the same and he’ll lose everything he holds dear–his girl, his place at the university he attends, his livelihood–while gaining the friendship of a creature who shouldn’t exist. Semris is also changed by his knowledge of those in the Outside. He will learn of human love and human sacrifice, and also the depths of human cruelty.
Others are also changed by their association with the escaped demon. Along the way, they add two more passengers in their voyage toward freedom–Tuck’s girl, Shannon, and Shannon’s brother, David, a repressed doctor who considers himself without imagination or humour. David’s transformation is both amusing and heart-warming as he finds himself a “permanent resident of the Twilight Zone.”
Dark God Descending is the story of a friendship between two men separated by thousands of years, customs, and cultures. When Tuck, Shannon, and Semris–and even David–reach the end of their journey, they find that it is only the beginning, for all of them.
I hope my readers will agree.
Tuck walked over to the cage.
Oh, God, did that last shot kill him? As far as he could tell, Semris hadn’t moved.
When he saw the slow rise and fall of the bare chest, he felt abrupt relief. He also saw the golden amulet, recognizing it as the twin of the one that had started all this unpleasantness in the first place.
The fruit hadn’t been touched, was rapidly darkening, the sweet, overripe smell permeating the cellar, attracting flies. How the Hell did they get in here, anyway? Several big bluebottles were buzzing around inside the cell, hovering over the peaches, a couple crawling along the edges of the plate. One was floating in the water glass, wings fluttering and making little splashes.
Tuck knelt and opened the little flap, reaching inside to remove the glass. As he reached back in for the plate, it happened. so fast he didn’t even realize Semris had moved until he felt the iron grip upon his wrist, saw the fangs drop and the dark head covering his hand.
He screamed as twin razor slashes struck through his wrist…knowing no one could hear, struggled desperately to get away. Frantic, disbelieving thoughts whirling through his mind. Oh, God, this is why he didn’t eat the fruit. He’s a vampire! Sweet Jesus, he’s going to kill me! Help someone, help me! Why should they? I didn’t help him.
The pain went away, his arm numb from wrist to fingertips.
He knelt there on the floor, watching the pale body crouched so near he could have reached out and touched his shoulder…his bare, wingless shoulder.Where did his wings go? What happened to them? All he could do was watch those shoulders heave with the strength of each deep swallow, feeling his life ebb away, and a vague surprise that it didn’t hurt at all.
Eyes rolling up, Tuck gave a little sigh and collapsed against the bars. He was barely conscious as he saw Semris raise his head and release his arm. In spite of being only slightly aware, he felt a stab of surprise as the quiet voice whispered, “Gracias. Gracias por su sangre.”
He’s thanking me? Thanking me for letting him kill me? With an effort, he made himself withdraw his wounded arm, cradling it against his chest with his other hand. Forcing his eyes open, he stared at his wrist, fighting the wave of blackness floating before his eyes.
There was no bloody ripped-away flesh as he’d imagined, only four deep punctures. Two of the five little veins had been pierced, but the wounds were clean and already clotting. Tuck forced himself to take a deep breath, then let it out, and repeated the procedure. Keep breathing! Don’t pass out. He might decide to have a second helping.
“I took too much. I am sorry. I was too hungry.”
There was such concern in Semris’ voice that Tuck found himself replying, “That’s all right. I-if I’d known, I… Oh, God, what am I saying?” He fell silent, feeling a bout of hysteria galloping toward him.
Something was thrust into his hand. One of the peaches. Semris’ hand, between the bars, holding it out to him. “Aqui. Come. Pronto.”
So he took the peach and bit into it, choking slightly as the rich, sweet juice slid down his throat, but forced himself to keep chewing and swallowing. As the fruit sugar hit his stomach, he began to feel better.
“That was good.” With a sigh, he tossed the peach pit aside.
Through the bars, hands helped him to his feet. He leaned against the door, hanging onto it to keep his balance as dizziness flooded back.
“Again, I am sorry. He looked up, meeting Semris’ eyes, startled at the concern in them. “It has been so long since I have had the living wine.”
Living wine…what a beautiful way to describe it. Tuck still felt a little groggy, wondered if he was now under the vampire thrall. He decided to find out. “Am I your minion now?”
“Why would you think that?” Semris sounded genuinely puzzled.
“Well, you’ve taken my blood. Generally, when a vampire–”
“Vampiro! Donde?” Semris looked around quickly, arms crossing over his throat in a protective gesture.
“You.” Tuck answered, feeling he’d made a mistake. “Aren’t you a vampire?”
“Of course not!” The answer was disdainful that Tuck might mistake him for such a vile creature. “I am a Dark Lord. Un demonio.” The pale chin lifted proudly. “Los vampiros are creatures accursed.”
Tuck thought that over. “And you’re not.”
“No.” Semris shook his head, the dark hair swinging. “I am not.”
Tuck realized he must be feeling better, to be able to marvel at the absurdity of this conversation.
Dark God Descending will be available from Class Act Books on November 15, 2012.
Author website: http://www.tony-paul.com
About Tony-Paul de Vissage
One of Tony-Paul de Vissage’s first movie memory is of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter, on television, and being scared sleepless–and that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires.
This was further inspired when the author ran across a band of transplanted Transylvanian vampires who were sightseeing in the South. Thinking nosferatu were getting a bad press and in need of some favorable publicity, he decided to do what he could to change that attitude through his writing. Though it may be argued his efforts have probably done the opposite, no vamp has complained…yet