Thursday, November 14, 2013
Author Guest Post : The Keeper: Revenge by O.L. Ramos
We’ve always been thrilled by the supernatural, haven’t we? It’s that sense of mystery, that knowing that “there has to be something more to the story” that always drives us wild. It incites our passions, fears and sense of wonder. But, if just for the purposes of this guest post, I could ask you to forget all the technology and hustle-and-bustle of the world around you. Forget about twitter and facebook (God forbid!)
Imagine what it must have been like for people a thousand years ago, when they couldn’t wiki this or google that. They had to come up with reasons as to why the sun would come up, how pregnancy worked, and even how to act. Our imagination as a people was vivid and we were terrified. The Dark Ages were dark in more than just name.
For instance, did you know that werewolves and vampires were actually the same kind of creature? When you start looking at their ancient origins though… well, that’s usually the point where things get really murky. Vampires specifically have been around since Ancient Egypt, and most likely, even before recorded history. The lore on them is impossibly long.
They’ve been described as astral creatures with no ties to humanity, thought-form creatures that are fully evil and feed on human souls, and they’ve even been considered to be demons. For purposes of this writing though, let’s talk about the most common form of vampire. The revenant.
Even the word sounds a little creepy, doesn’t it? The modern image of a vampire might be tall, dark and handsome, but the roots from which all of this came from… it isn’t sexy at all.
Revenants are a category of undead or unnatural creature. They’re the parent category for nasty things like ghouls, zombies and vengeful spirits. But you wouldn’t want to make out with a zombie though, right? The vampire specifically, has been changed so much throughout history that we don’t even know what was ever the real lore behind the legend.
The weaknesses of a vampire have become pretty numerous: Silver, holy water, holy wafers (a former popular one that has lost a lot of its oomph), crosses, sunlight, herbs, garlic… You name it, it’s probably been added to the list of weaknesses. But, the ancient legends pretty much paint a picture of a vampire being invincible.
So how do we go from invincible to being deathly allergic to pizza toppings and jewelry? I bet it’s because of people who think it’s great to make vampires sparkle in the sunlight. Now! Before you all get incited to riot and barrage me with rotten fruit, it’s important to understand one thing! I’m a huge fan of sparkly vampires; they’re just not vampires. They’re sparkly, super-strong, super-fast, something elses. And that werewolf? Not a real werewolf, but we will have to hit that one on another day.
At this point you might be asking yourself: “Why is he jumping around? What does Twilight have to do with the origins of vampires”
Okay! Here’s the thing: When Ms. Meyer wrote her series, she reinvigorated an entire genre. She also gave a new generation the vehicle to easily enter the supernatural realm. But, if you ask younger kids, they can’t really tell you what is or isn’t traditional for vampires. No biggie, it’s just entertainment. She’s putting her own creative spin in. In her doing so though, she is helping mold tomorrow’s writers and storytellers. So if in a hundred years, all vampires sparkle and their eyes shimmer depending on what kind of blood they consume, we all know why. I’m just saying!
When Bram Stoker wrote his timeless classic, Dracula, he used Prince Vlad Tepes as a template for his monster. And don’t let the modern day vamps misdirect you, Dracula WAS a monster. Stoker used a lot of revenant lore to power his story, and in my opinion, it was pretty awesome. But even when he used it, he was playing a game of telephone with the legend. He helped transform the legend we would recognize a hundred years after him.
In Eastern Europe, around the time Stoker was writing his work, vampires were seen as grotesque, unsightly things. But he chose to make Dracula a really suave dude, in a bad ass cape. The book was literary gold and we all wanted more. Thus, the vampire myth was only attached to Dracula-types and we lost the ugly vampires.
Like I said, it’s just entertainment (or is it?) but it’s pretty amazing that in less than 150 years, an entire piece of very established folklore has been morphed in such a way. I have a grandfather who remembers hearing about Dracula, thinking it was a new idea. He probably thought it was a craze. Yet here we are, dying to get another bite.
After that pun, you can all now throw your rotten produce.
The Keeper: Revenge
The Keeper Series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 296
Word Count: 112,930
Cover Artist: Dane Low
If the world you lived in was someday revealed to be nothing but a lie, would you really want the truth? Elizabeth McBeth did, and she's paid the price for it...
After almost 10 years since Liz's mother was taken from her, Liz finally found her mother, Mary. But Mary has been forever changed, something that Liz will have to accept. The beginning of happier times, one would think...
The conspiracy has been exposed; Liz, Vincent, Mary and Michael had all thought that the vampire plot had been destroyed. They should have never underestimated Klein.
Klein has reinforced his armies, splitting the entire vampire species with the question... is Klein the vampiric messiah? Unfortunately for the heroes and the world itself, Klein has set in motion a plan that will destroy the world and recreate it in his own image.
Will the group be able to defeat Klein and restore the balance to nature? Or are they already doomed?
It had been several months since the uproar at the Coronam estate. Klein had been deemed an enemy of the state for the entire vampire nation, the ones that wanted to stay on Vincent’s good side, anyway. In all honesty, the entire time since then had been both frantic and surreal. Vincent’s declaration before the Coronam asserting that he was Cain’s enforcer had caused a massive schism in the entire vampire race.
The bloodsuckers had always been a chaotic, selfish bunch. But at least with a strong government like the Coronam reining them in, they were fearful of getting tortured … or worse. The idea that mass executions could be a consequence had never entered their minds, however. Yet now, that’s all anyone could think about. The united stand made by Vincent and Michael had finally broken the camel’s back. Some of the more fearful vampires, the ones prone to paranoia, believed it was an example of what Klein had been warning about for over a thousand years. They believed Klein to be the true messiah of Cain, and Vincent to be a mere false prophet sent to lead them astray. This group of vampires announced themselves as the Hand, a creepy mishmash of politics and skewed religion.
They droned on and on about how Klein was the voice of Cain, and they were the ones who would take action on Cain’s behalf. It was all pretty shady, and there wasn’t a thing that we could do about it. Unfortunately, the entire world behind the veil was becoming increasingly unstable. Vincent was forced to allow Algarus to accept the Hand’s request for freedom of religion, even though everyone suspected the whole thing was just a front for a terrorist organization. But nothing could be proven.
Even the werewolves had ostracized Michael. Although he was never truly accepted because of his close association with Vincent, Michael could at least always request help in the past. Now, he was cut off from almost all of werewolf society. Almost all of them resented Michael openly, dismissing his claims that a werewolf was to blame for Klein’s success. They saw his actions as the beginning for a total civil war amongst all supers. When dozens of supers were caught acting as willing slaves for openly rebellious vampires, Michael realized that there might be truth to the charges imposed against him. This caused him no shortage of pain.
I often found myself staring outside my window wondering how things had worsened so quickly. But then again, I wasn’t the same person I’d been before all this started. I was now hardened by the experiences I’d been made to endure, decisions I’d had to make. Things I truly hoped to repress.
In the past months, I had witnessed Mom, I mean, Mary, go through a very thorough and intensive training regimen. The guys had run through everything from battle concepts and strategies to weaknesses of almost every super in existence. I have to say it that way because that was another key point that Michael always stressed to Mary: to be ready for anything and everything. That it was impossible to know of every super in the world. It was crazy, considering Michael had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of thousands of different kinds of supers. But after dealing with the Hela poison, I could definitely see why he was being so cautious.
I guess that brings me to Bobby. Poor Bobby. His entire clan was ousted from the slayer community, even the children who had never known combat. This caused many fights to break out … even one Anvil clan member’s death. The majority of Bobby’s clan blamed him for siding with a vampire and a werewolf. I don’t know the specifics of what happened, but I’m positive that the slayers were just trying to evade the wrath of Klein’s Hand and the Coronam, too. It was generally agreed that the Hela poison was a threat to the entire world, both supernatural or otherwise. Still though, an example had to be made. And so Bobby took his entire clan and relocated all 188 of them to the only place they could safely go. About thirty or so miles from Angel’s Retreat.
And I guess that’s why I’m keeping this diary. It’s cliché as all get out, but for all my big talk … I’m terrified. Everything has changed. And I’m not even sure it’s for the better either. The reality is—
A loud knock announces the presence of a visitor. I turn in my chair to look at my bedroom entrance and see Vincent. He has a curious look to his face as he leans on my door and waits for me to say something.
“Hey Vincent,” I say with a bit of a sigh. “How’s it going?”
“Same old, same old,” he answers as he walks into the room and heads straight to the balcony. He opens it up and sits on the guardrail. “How about you, Goldilocks? You seem to be brooding on a Michael-esque scale lately. The hell’s wrong with you anyway?”
“What do you think is wrong with me?” I reply angrily, the sharp tone in my voice echoing throughout my room. I give it a chance to linger before I continue. “You know … it’s just that I really thought we won. Seriously. You guys kicked some major bad guy ass. I thought that would be that. My mother could come home and be back with Dad, I could have some semblance of an ordinary life, I don’t know.”
“Why be ordinary, though?” he asks with a brief turn to me before he returns to browsing the outside scenery. “You were special before, you were special during. You’re special now. Why all the teenage angst? So everything didn’t end up roses … it sucks. We’re working on it, though. Besides, is this the way you treat me after not seeing me for two days? That’s hurtful.”
He pretends to get stabbed in the back, does a horrible silent death scene and then throws himself off the balcony. I merely shake my head.
“Wow, tough crowd,” Vincent says as he floats up and hovers in the air a little above my balcony. Such a strange sight, but I’m completely desensitized to it. “You really are on a bummer aren’t you? What really gives?”
“Oh, I don’t even know …” I admit reluctantly with a deep sigh. “I decided to keep this stupid diary. I thought it would make me feel better if I could just write out my thoughts. Maybe keep them here, and the negativity would only be here. In secret. Then I could go and live my life as if nothing ever happened. But it didn’t work out like that at all. I wrote everything down and it just upset me more. What good have we done? Everything is just so much worse now. And this stupid diary is just a reminder of how much we’ve failed.”
“If it’s so bad, why not just throw it out?” He asks, as if the issue was a simple one. “Besides, you know that things have to get worse before they can truly get better.”
“If it exists, someone can find it,” I explain, already defeated. I know there is little sense in what I am saying. But it’s the way I feel. “Maybe someone can know the truth about what we really tried to do. If the world ends, I mean.”
“What?” Vincent straggles his question with a chuckle. He stops his silly flying and lands on the balcony. “Seriously, what happened in the two days I was gone? This is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever said to me. And lady, you’ve had your fill.”
I shake my head slowly. I know he’s right. But what a person thinks and feels aren’t always on the same page. I know I’m not helping things. But I can’t just press a switch and change the way I feel.
“While you were gone, Bobby had to make an example again,” I explain as I inhale deeply, hoping to forget about the trauma. “Three slayers came in and tried to kidnap me, or kill me. I don’t know what they were going to do. Before they even had a chance to touch me, Michael was on top of all three of them and was carrying them out like a bunch of … I don’t know, rabbits or something.”
He looks at me in disbelief. He’s clearly angry, but my strangely odd word choice has him a little off balance.
“Michael manhandled them, Vincent,” I say, irritated. “It just looked weird. They were kicking and screaming and they just never stood a chance.”
“And how are you?” Vincent asks as he walks around the room examining it. “The place seems to be all right, so I guess Mikey didn’t wreck the place too badly. By your kinda crazy word choice I’m guessing he didn’t hurt them at all, huh? Knowing him, he probably just dragged them back to Bobby by the nape of their necks. Oh, I get it now; rabbits. Heh, pretty good.”
“Yeah, it was still mildly terrifying, though,” I answer as I start to feel myself chuckle as well. The image in my head about the incident is pretty funny, if you can get past the three guys trying to hurt me part.
“I’m sure it was,” Vincent says as he switches his attention and walks towards me slowly with a warm smile on his face. “But you do know that between Mary, Michael and I, there’s really no chance anyone can harm you, right? I mean come on sweetheart, you’re stacked.”
I laugh a little more before shrugging my shoulders.
“So what kind of example did Bobby make?”
“He killed the one who made the plan. Skyles was his name,” I report, once again feeling the burden of the tragedy. “Did you know him? He expelled the other two.”
“Skyles … never heard of him. Did they at least find out why or what they were trying to do?”
“More or less,” I say as I look down at the ground and inhale deeply again. “They were trying to take me to the slayer leadership and barter for their family to live within their community again. Bobby came by and apologized … he explained that no matter what, what happened had to happen. He said that almost all of the slayer leaders know it had to be done. This was just—”
“Damage control,” Vincent says, finishing my sentence. “Yeah, politics will kill you every time. I knew that something must have rained on your parade, though. Want to go downstairs and get a drink?”
I chuckle. I don’t know if Vincent remembers it, but he drank the entire house dry before he left.
“How are we going to do that, smart guy?” I ask playfully. It was good to see him. Every time anyone leaves the house, I feel vulnerable and lonely … and it was only getting worse. “You drank everything in the house before you left on your little excursion.”
“A, it was not an excursion,” Vincent says with a mischievous smile. “It was a fact-finding mission. Unfortunately, not much of said facts were to be found. I’m kinda in a mood myself, now that I think of it. I did find out that some of the smaller islands of the Dodecanese was hosting a Klein party … the jerk. He’s even got Greek critters siding with him.”
“But why would he be doing that?” I ask, puzzled.
“Not done yet,” Vincent says as he raises a finger to hush me. “And B, you should know better than to think I wouldn’t be prepared. I stocked everything back up and even ordered an underground cellar to be constructed to house our reserves.”
It takes me a moment to understand what he means.
“You’re talking about the booze?!” I say in shock. “Why wouldn’t you just gloss over that and continue talking about what you found in Greece?”
“Far be it for me to allow my reputation to be sullied,” Vincent answers sarcastically before stifling a laugh. “Besides, Greece has been there forever; it’s not going anywhere. Booze has to be maintained and regulated around here. It’s like an endangered species. And besides again, it’s a part of Greece, but if you want to be technical it’s really a series of islands off the coast of Greece. So I didn’t find it in Greece, I found it near Greece.”
I grunt in frustration before slapping him. I examine him to see his reaction but he just turns his gaze up to me and smiles.
“Feeling better, are you?” He asks knowingly. How I hate him and his sneakiness. “That’s more like it. To thy own self be true. Silly, down on her luck Izzy. That isn’t Izzy at all. Wow, say that five times fast. Anyhoo, stop being such a hard luck case and focus on the task ahead.”
I continue analyzing his smile before I sit down again. He’s right. I shake my head because I know that telling him that he’s right is about as painful as a root canal. But not telling him he’s right becomes much, much worse.
“I know,” I say as I admit my lack of options. “You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s been hard. This last month we haven’t sat down as a family, or whatever you want to call our group. Not even one Sunday dinner. We’re not running this like a home. We’re running this like a prison.”
“Well, this is the first I’ve heard of it,” Vincent says as he straightens out his dress shirt. “But have you told the furry boy scout anything about how you feel?”
“No, I haven’t,” I answer with yet another sigh. I suppose it’s not fair to be bothered if I haven’t even given the guys a chance to fix things. But I just felt restricted. I shrug those feelings off before continuing. “I know you both have your reasons to do what you do. Klein needs to be found. The supers are all scared and getting desperate. Everyone is afraid that the humans will find out the truth of the world because the vampires all seem to be getting ready for a civil war. Mary needs to be in fighting shape, my father needs to be watched and guarded, and I need to be protected.”
“All while keeping the balance,” Vincent points out in a matter-of-fact tone. “As you can see, it’s more than a day’s work. You gotta have more faith. This guy had a ton of failsafe tools, people, and secrets to work on. It’s a thousand years of this guy thinking that I was coming to kill him and take his seat of power in the Coronam. He was ready before we ever even thought about going. As much as I hate to say it, the guy’s smart. He was prepared.”
Vincent leans back and stretches his arms; he lets out a yawn. It’s the worst fake yawn in the history of fake yawns. I suppose when you haven’t slept or felt exhaustion in 1600 years, you forget these things.
“Man, this is boring,” he finally says as he snaps to attention. “I feel like I should be asleep. I guess it’s been too damn long … Anyhoo, where was I? Oh yeah, the Dodecanese. Thing about Greece is that it’s relatively close to Romania and it holds a very important position in Europe. It’s a brilliant strategic choice. If Klein wants to hit the Coronam, he can, rather easily. On top of that, there are so many islands out there, not many are gonna find him. I found him because I figure he has vastly underestimated my information network.” Vincent smiles proudly before poking me softly in my right upper arm.
“Come on,” he suggests with a nod of his head. “Let’s have a drink, you could use one. I’ll tell you all about it. We also have to talk about what we’re going to do to liven this personality of yours permanently. I can’t have you slapping me every time you feel down in the dumps.”
I stand up slowly and look at his incredible, deep blue eyes.
“I don’t know why you say that,” I say slowly. “I have no problem slapping you all day long if that’s what needs to happen. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?”
“I suppose so,” Vincent agrees with several short nods of his head. “Of course, you’re just going to end up breaking your hand.”
I laugh a little before I end up pushing Vincent’s chest. We walk out of my bedroom and take the obscenely long journey to the common area of Angel’s Retreat. The place is still as beautiful as ever. The décor is a very classy blending of old European castle with modern Hollywood flair, but all of it seems gray and blurred to me. It has become my prison over these last few months. And I am really sick of it. When we finally make it to the bar, Vincent urges me to sit. A change, and a rather drastic one, from me playing bartender to Vincent’s regular drunk roles.
“Wow ... What a treat!” I exclaim as I sit on the barstool, something I had become increasingly familiar with in times of stress. “I can’t believe we’re having a drink and I’m on this side of the counter. Feels pretty different. It’s nice. If I get Vincent-drunk, will you help me make it to my bed like I always help you?”
Vincent clears his throat before raising his finger again. Oh geez, here he goes again.
“Two things I have to point out again. Apparently I’m gonna be doing this all day here,” he says as he puts down the bottle of vodka he was opening. “A, again, is that you should never make suggestive statements like that to me unless you want sarcasm as a reply. You should know better than that. I.e. you want me to help you to bed, don’t you?”
I slap him in midsentence just for the sake of slapping him. I have to admit, it’s a strange relationship we share.
“And B, again,” Vincent says as he shakes the strike away from his face and continues his rant. “Saying that someone is Vincent-drunk implies that I’m nothing but a no-good drunk. That’s also very hurtful. Besides, you’re the minor here. You should just be glad I’m even allowing you to drink.”
“You? Allowing me? That’s hysterical,” I say as I pick up the vodka cocktail Vincent has slid over to me. “Admit it Vincent, you just love the company. Michael doesn’t drink much anymore and you just want a drinking buddy.”
“Yeah, well, it’s all a part of my nefariously genius plan to get into your barstool,” Vincent says as he raises his own cocktail to me. “And before you think about it, I’m not gonna let you slap me again. You’ve used up your limit for today. Now, as is customary we will follow the beautiful tradition of—”
“Yeah, I know,” I say as I raise my glass and tap his with it. I answer his smile with one of my own. “The beautiful tradition of blessing our drink. It is a beautiful tradition. Salud, Vincent.”
“And to you, Izzy,” he says as he brings his glass to his mouth. “Cent’anni.”
“One hundred years to you,” I say. Knowing him, this is probably a test.
“Very good, you’ve been keeping to your studies.”
“No,” I point out a little sharply. “You just say it so often it’s hard to forget.”
Vincent scratches his head and chugs down his drink. He grabs the vodka bottle and drags it along the counter until it’s in between the two of us. He looks at me longingly, licking his lips suggestively. It was good to see at least one of us behaving normally.
“So, I was thinking about this anyway, before you even brought it up; so was Michael,” he says as he opens the bottle and begins to pour himself another round. “We both feel that a lot has happened in such a short amount of time, we should probably reopen the discussion about what you should be doing with your life in the meantime. I’m not going to say that what’s been happening lately is normal for us, but it has happened several dozens of times in our lives. But we can’t expect you, in your short nineteen years, to be dealing with it anywhere near as easily as we have been. I’m surprised you haven’t snapped like you just did before.”
“Well thanks a lot,” I say before chugging down my own drink and snatching the bottle from Vincent’s hands. He only looks at me and shakes his head. “If you knew I wouldn’t react well, why keep me here?”
“I don’t really know what you expected us to do,” Vincent admits almost in frustration. “You yourself said you were never much of a social butterfly.”
“More like a social spider.”
“Yeah, no kidding,” Vincent agrees before taking the bottle away from me as I was helping myself to another drink. “Everything in moderation there, drunko. What I was getting at was that we didn’t really have a lot of choices here. We could have sent you back to the campus, and you could have kept working, but for what? You never really mentioned liking it there. Besides, everyone in town doesn’t even know you exist anymore. I could try to screw around with their heads again and give them back their memories of you, but that’s a real loose option. I don’t wanna do that if I can help it. It’s too dangerous, even with my newfound powers.”
“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” I answer in more evident frustration. The whole thing sucks. He’s right and I know it. But that doesn’t really matter. It was different when I was still searching for my mother. I had a plan and a goal. We had achieved that goal and my mother was back and safe. Now all I did was take alternating courses of education by the guys … that was losing its fun, to say the least. “It was easy for me to not appreciate everything in my old life while I had it, but it’s all I think about now. I even miss the shrink visits. Don’t misunderstand me, I know what you’re saying, but there has to be something better to do with my life. I love you guys, I always will. You both have saved my life, you saved my mother’s, I mean … there’s no repaying any of that. But when are we going to get off of terror alert red here?”
“I was just getting to that,” he continues as he pours himself another drink. Wow, I never noticed he drank the one he had. Lush. “Michael and I have been thinking about what we could do to make your time pass by a little easier. Michael wants you to be protected and watched over at all times. I disagree with that because you do need some level of freedom, or else you’ll end up resenting the both of us.”
“I would never,” I argue in almost a scream. “I just want some fun. I’ve watched everything I can on TV; I’m caught up on all my reading. I would go back to studying all the supers that you guys know about, but what’s the point? Michael is a rolodex of information on the subject. Maybe if I could get my job back at Jack’s Place? Go back to the university, have a normal life? I’m not going to do anything crazy.”
“You say that, but you don’t know what you’ll do,” he contends firmly. “I don’t have you on a leash. None of us do. But what I’m saying is don’t take this temporary phase of you being down in the dumps for more than what it is. It’ll pass. Deep down you know what the right thing to do is. You can’t really risk too much crazy behavior right now. I bet Klein thinks we aren’t anywhere near here, especially with all the false information and dead ends we’ve been leading him on with. But we can’t risk lives with that type of hunch. Jack’s wouldn’t be so bad, because why would you have a job if you were with us? But on the other hand, there’s nothing to do around here but visit Jack’s. Same deal with the university. We gotta take this slow.”
“Not very,” he assures me before pouring me a little more vodka. “But reasonably slow. So why don’t you start thinking about what you want to do when you grow up, huh? The choice is still yours, eventually. If you wanna walk away from all of this when Klein’s dead, then you have that option open. It’s just not open to you right now because we can’t in good conscience let you get yourself killed.”
“So what are you saying, Vincent? Stop with the theatre and spit it out.”
He grasps his glass and stares me in the eyes before presenting his glass to mine again. “What I’m saying is, give us some ideas,” Vincent says with a smile as he raises his glass. “And you’re free to go do whatever you want. Just don’t skip town, huh?”
I smile back at him and I can’t help hugging him over the counter. He was obviously not expecting this as I sense him almost jerk in place.
Now what should I do?
About the Author:
From what I understand, the first line of this thing is where I say something really interesting that wins you over. After all, they say that you know within seconds of meeting a person whether you like them or not.
So...yeah... I got nothing. But if there is one thing I know, it's that through stories we discover the world, learn about history and traditions; and in doing that, we become who we are as an individual.
Since I was a very young child, my only dream was to become an author one day. I wanted to reach people with my words, maybe even entertain them. I wanted to touch their lives and give them something to think about. After all, I am a loveable blowhard kinda guy... that's gotta be entertaining, right?
In my life, I've done many things; from supervising sales for a retail giant chain to being a Deputy Sheriff. You would think that a person who had been shot at for a living would be brave enough to write a biography without all the sarcastic quips. Unfortunately no, that's one of my main flaws as the above mentioned blowhard.
Anyhoo, please feel free to drop me a line! If you loved the book, I wanna hear about it. If you hated every word of it, please make sure to let me know, but please avoid the CAPS LOCK! The font can be a little... demeaning. Make sure to have fun guys! They say you only live twice; and if that's true, we're at least half done.
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