Mirror mirror on the wall…

Everybody turns at the sound of breaking glass. There’s something dramatic about it, irreparable, frightening even. Broken glass is a symbol for the point of no return, a change so drastic it’s impossible to fix; that was why everybody turned at the sound of the fallen picture frame.

“Thank God it’s not a mirror,” somebody exclaimed trying to see the up side, because what’s worse than broken glass? Broken glass with a silver backing…

Superstition is a funny thing. It’s the sum of a random act with negative societal associations multiplied by the person’s fears and added to a number thought to have mystical properties. Superstition is so powerful it would make the person responsible for the break watch their every step and attribute all negative experiences between now and the next seven years to the broken glass, the one with the silver sprayed on the back of it.

People are born not knowing what they look like, which I find extremely poetic. You can form an impression from people’s descriptions, but getting to look into our own eyes is impossible without the help of a reflecting device. When I was four I used to love looking at the little girl inside my closet door so much my parents actually thought I had a narcissistic disorder. No one ever thought to ask if I understood it wasn’t somebody else.

Beyond children, to the unknowing people of the past it is understandable how an object that reflected a person’s image could be captivating. Without knowledge of light waves it’s not difficult to attach magical properties to such a thing. It’s easy for us to forget how the manufacture of plate glass was a relatively late discovery and that in order to turn that glass into a perfect reflecting surface, a currently simple, yet formerly complex chemical process is required. Imagine the excitement and the novelty of seeing your image in a plate of silvered glass as well as the terror experienced when the “magic” that held your face within it shattered to a million pieces.

Mirrors have held mystical attributes ever since antiquity and in fact, the ancient Romans believed that the mirror reflected a part of your soul. A broken mirror, presumably obsidian, signified a break in the person’s wellbeing. Some say seven years was the time it took for the soul to renew itself after the break. To some even now, a mirror’s fall from the wall means a death is imminent and in fairytales they know true beauty. In Jewish tradition mirrors are covered when someone dies in order to avoid their soul getting trapped in them or so that demons are not attracted through them by the void left by the death. And not forgetting my personal favourite of course: Vampires cannot be reflected in mirrors for they have no soul.

In 15th-16th century Venice where the science of mirror making was the most advanced in Europe at the time, mirrors were astronomically expensive. Any servants discovered to have broken a mirror were forced into indentured servitude for seven years in order to pay back the cost of the object. Add that to the centuries of awe caused by the mystical qualities of the reflected image and a powerful superstition takes shape.

What’s the most enduring fact of all? Fear of ill luck can race through the generations, fuelled only by the power of the spoken word, without a shred of proof other than what we interpret as misfortune. We can find bad luck in anything if we search hard enough or if we are looking to confirm what we think we know. As it turns out, the impact of words is more powerful than a thousand broken mirrors…

In the Presence of Blood…

…A Vampire is Born.

Without further ado, here’s the final cover for the third book in the Affliction Series.

With some luck and more hard work, it will be coming out in April provided both my editors are done on time and my ARC reviews don’t take too long. I’ll be sending ARC copies by the end of March so anyone interested comment below or contact me via all other available channels and I’ll put your name on the list.

In other news, Bathory’s Secret print version has been a little delayed, but will also be available in the coming weeks. I’ll send out notifications as soon as that’s nearing completion as well. Vampire Edifice will follow but not before the end of spring.

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Affliction Series gets a facelift!

You’ll be happy to know that after a brief hiatus my cover designer is back to work on my covers. After some thought I decided that though the old look was very beautiful, it didn’t scream Vampire Hist Fic so we decided to tweak the look a little. The cover for Bathory’s Secret has received a face lift and Vampire Edifice has been given a new cover altogether, and one that I was initially going to go with before opting for the current one. Having thought about it however, I came to realise that the initial one was better so we went back to it.

Book three, which will be titled In the Presence of Blood, is in the final stages of editing and with some godspeed and luck will be out by April. I will share the cover as soon as it is finalised but for the moment you may feast your eyes on the first two, which will be going live in the coming week.

Without further ado I present you with the new covers:

Tada!

Brief update-Affliction book #3

It’s officially been a year since the release of Bathory’s Secret and never in my wildest dreams did I think that I’d be sitting at my desk putting the finishing touches not on book #2 but book #3 by now! Say it with me: “Whoop whoop!”

I have almost completed the first edit and taken out as much of the roughness as I can at this point. After that I will let it sit for a week or so before going in again for more fine tuning and corrections. I hope to have it with my editor by December, preferably earlier December rather than later December but sadly that’s more up to him than me. Fingers crossed!

I’m pretty sure I’ve settled on the title too, but will reveal it when I’m 100% sure it’s right. The cover is also in the works.

In other news, the paperback versions of the other two books are getting finishing touches and I hope to have Bathory’s Secret, at least, available by January. Someone please send me a little additional time in the post… There’s so much to do!

Final bit of news is the inception of book #4 in the Affliction series and hopefully a little surprise story. We’ll see how I get on with time and will update accordingly.

To Blurb or not to Blurb? -To Blurb, Duh!

I’m starting to put together a blurb for Vampire Edifice.
Here is what I came up with just now.
I suspect I’m going to have to change a lot of it as I’m not sure it’s concise enough.

If you have comments feel free to share them, the floor (or comment section) is yours.

Vampire Edifice: Affliction Series #2

As soon as Kati escapes death at the clutches of Countess Erzsébet Báthory she realizes she risks detection by Palatine Thurzo who is investigating the murders of the countless girls that died at her mistress’s hands.

Intent on finding the missing victim everyone is talking about, the Palatine searches the castle and uncovers hints of possible written evidence. Wanting to protect Afflicted Vampires, Kati risks being caught in order to hide the journals.

When one of the Countess’s conspirators threatens to expose her to the Palatine she is left with no choice but to leave, making her way to Vienna to see if everything the Countess described in her journals was true.

There, she finds an Afflicted Paradise where she is accepted and helped to deal with the pain of her past. When she discovers that Báthory’s ill son is secretly being held in a Sanatorium for the marginalized and depraved however, she comes to the conclusion that all is not as it seems and her life might be in danger once more…

Dracula Vs Penny Dreadful…

…The evolution of story telling or just plain laziness?

Be warned there will be spoilers for both shows below:

A couple of months ago I saw the first season of Dracula starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers after a friend recommended it.

The story had promise despite being yet another rehash of the book. Dracula was painted as a modern day (late 19th century) mogul (with a dual identity) who is trying to take over the world by way of this new-fangled magic called electricity. The story has all the usual characters of course: Mina, Jonathan, Lucy and even Renfield who takes the more lovable guise of the indispensable butler/legal genius as opposed to the mad, fly eating, straight jacket wearing asylum resident. There is even the ubiquitous secret association which has infiltrated the highest levels of society and part of its duties is to collude with vampire hunters and occultists in order to find the Father of all Vampyres (who they suspect is in London) and put an end to him. Passion, revenge and pseudo-science trail the plot and the show has all the hocus pocus goobly-goock we all love so much, including the relics, the incantations and magic mixed with just a pinch of steampunk to bring it all together and help it set in the fridge.

Though enjoyable enough to make me sit through the entire first series comfortably, after it ended I felt no inclination to watch the rest. For me this a bad sign, as any good series is immediately addictive and must be watched serially until all available episodes are exhausted. In fact, I didn’t even know whether there was a second season until I researched it for this post. Only then did I uncover that it was in fact cancelled by NBC (not much surprise there) though it might be coming back for a second season on Netflix later this year. Needless to say I will not rushing to my nearest couch.

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At the end of the day the plot was so “true” to the book in its fundamental principles that I didn’t see the point of continuing even if it did have a second season. In all it felt flat and dare I say unimaginative despite the Gothic tinge and vampiric essence which pull very much at my entertainment heartstrings.

The gap that Dracula left was more than filled by Penny Dreadful. Upon discovering this show on my streaming service I set about watching the first episode without much research. As with books, I sometimes dive into something head first and decide to continue if I am sufficiently drawn. Needless to say I was chuffed to bits to discover yet another Vampire focused programme, though not excited by the prospect that more Stoker lore was being put into play.

My WTF-o-meter rang off the hook however when we were introduced to Viktor Frankenstein and even Dorian Gray, yes that Dorian Gray, of aging picture and despicable character fame, though we’ve yet to see any of those character traits. Currently he is only a little “immoral” (by Victorian standards always) and thoroughly cute and cuddly.

At first the show appears perfectly light and entertaining, though like Dracula, which had more reason to do this, I did wonder at the need to rehash popular characters from classical literature in reinterpretation after reinterpretation. I wondered about that Monday morning Network pitch meeting where the creator and the writers got together to discuss the reasoning behind this moth eaten tapestry of classical literature.

Does it have to do with our modern day need to get through everything quickly? We know for example that Frankenstein created his nameless monster and that said monster came back to ruin everything he held dear, but are we told this so that we can perhaps expect it in the future or so that the show’s creators didn’t have to go to the trouble of creating characters for which they would have to write backstories? If not, does it mean that they’ll use the character as a frame and change the story as we know it? If not, then what’s the point of making the show? If yes, then the authors are turning in their graves. I know I’m contradicting myself, but I am a purist about certain things.

Speaking of backgrounds, there is none more varied than that of Vanessa Ives who has gone from child/teen seductress to lunatic asylum resident to Vassal of Lucifer to trainee witch only to end up as the Devil’s intended once again. I mean she’s already fucked the dude so what’s the big deal? Her background story couldn’t be more turbulent and confused if they tried, and sadly it does not give her any gravitas whatsoever. It’s like they don’t really know who or what she is and are adding or subtracting supernatural elements as the series progresses.

What about Dorian Gray? We know him as the essence of decadence and corruption so it should come as no surprise that he fucks everyone on the show, staying true to the popular culture perception of his character. Why though have him seduce Ethan Chandler, who up to that point was the voice of sobriety and sensibility and have it come to nothing? Perhaps it will be revealed later on but as it stands it seems simply as character contrivance without purpose.

And if the “plagiarising” of classical literature wasn’t enough, they’ve gone and made Frankenstein create the elusive bride to the beast, or John Clare as he prefers currently, only to fall for her himself. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Pygmalion (who was Cypriot might I add) who fell in love with the ivory statue of a woman he had carved. I won’t even go into the misogynistic undertones of grooming the whore into a lady after you have wiped the hard drive clean. I thought we were past the whole “My Fair Lady” vibe. That said, I reserve some judgement, the end is yet to come.

As the series is still ongoing and will presumably continue to do so for some years, I don’t know how to conclude but I am left with several questions. Have we become so flippant as a culture that we cannot be bothered to delve into the classics by ourselves and expect a tv show to chew and half digest them for us, or are we simply too lazy to immerse ourselves into new and original characters? The success of GOT would suggest otherwise (Historical similarities with real figures not withstanding).

I would love nothing more than to see some true original Steampunk story telling (Victorian setting or no) without having to stoop to appropriating the fictional characters of the past however well it is done. Perhaps it was an attempt to expand further on these beloved characters who do in fact have incredible potential for further exploitation. The original books were great, which is certainly why they became classics, but it feels a bit hubristic to revive them like this. I’m half expecting Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to show up in future seasons. If they do you heard it here first.

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Having said all this, where Penny Dreadful wins over Dracula is in the philosophy. Victorian poetry, about which I admittedly know very little, permeates throughout the show and existential issues are always central, no doubt due to its supernatural theme. Death and rebirth are highly prevalent, as is faith, predestination and freedom of choice vs animal instinct. I’m also quite taken with the fact that Ethan Chandler frequently discusses the injustices perpetrated against the Native Americans, an issue rarely discussed on any programme be that fiction or factual as in the case of Finding your Roots for example.

Social issues such as feminism and homosexuality are also shamelessly put to the fore and not just in the style of Tru Blood where the gay sex is done purely as a lure with little social commentary. The sex scene between Dorian and Angelique was both sexy and loving and the ball he held in her honour speaks very much about modern day issues of equality and acceptance in a society, particularly in America, where in many places, the ethos has not evolved much since the days of the Victorians. For that Penny Dreadful deserves some applause.

On a closing note, I await to see if race will be highlighted beyond the token black guy servant…

Your thoughts, as always, are very welcome.

Dead Until Dark Review

Though a big fan of Tru Blood I’d never actually read a Sookie Stackhouse book before. I’m not into modern Vampires as I am into historical ones, my book case in point, but this has been in the ‘To Be Read pile’ for quite some time and will be part of several upcoming reviews on Fantasy books, primarily Vampire.

‘Dead until dark’ is essentially a supernatural murder mystery. It is written in the first person in the voice of Sookie and though I tend to shy away from the first person usually, this one gradually grew on me. As a rule, I have a hard time relating to first person character narration. Lines in the vein of “my eyes seemed brighter,” or “these pants show off my legs,” are not what a person would say in real life so I can rarely relate. As an author, hyper sensitive observation goes hand in hand with writing and as I don’t observe others in the first person, there is always a disconnect for me. I understand that for lots of people books in the first person offer a very personal experience so I appreciate that it’s very much a matter of taste. In addition to that narration style I also found the first few chapters a little awkward in style, maybe even a little wooden but that soon worked itself out.

Besides Sookie, the telepath waitress with the fascination with Vampires, the book deals with a series of murders that take place in Bon Temps at a time when Vampire emancipation and mainstreaming is in its infancy. The Vampire transition from hiding to mainstream was handled very realistically, and if they were ever to come out of the shadows, I expect that people’s reactions would not differ much from this book.

As the days pass, Sookie becomes embroiled in the murders by conducting a little side investigation of her own because they slowly start taking over her life. First an acquaintance is killed, followed by another waitress, both of which have had dealings with her promiscuous brother causing her to worry about his involvement with the murders. When finally Sookie’s own grandmother is killed the onus is taken off Jason, at least in Sookie’s eyes, and the plot thickens when she too becomes a target for the murderer who seems to target women who have had sex with Vampires.

As the murder story slowly unfolds in the background, we are shown Sookie’s blossoming romance with Bill Compton, a Vampire from the time of the civil war. As Sookie is unable to hear his thoughts, unlike most other men, she is able to relax in his presence and build a relationship with him, though not without its complications due to their biological differences. Things take a turn for the worse when during an expedition to a Vamp club, Sookie reveals her abilities to a higher ranking Vampire called Eric, who takes a particular interest in her and begins to interfere in her life and relationship with Bill.

As a result of this, towards the end of the book, Bill is removed from the scene in order to take care of some ‘business’ leaving Sookie to deal with the fang banger murderer on her own (with only the protection of a dim witted vamp guard). Though I’m all for women’s lib and self-determination, I always find character removals at critical times a bit of cheap shot, so points were definitely lost there.

For the sake of spoilers however I will leave this here and say simply that it’s well written, moves quickly and is definitely a very enjoyable read. Despite its lightweight veneer it is imbued with a subtle political narrative about how we treat those different to us whether they are black, gay, shapeshifter or Vampire.

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Night Watch Review Guest Post.

A few weeks ago I was invited to write a review on a movie of my choice for the Doom Generation review site, which in their own words is a site of “movie reviews for the sublimely weird.” The site is a real treasure trove of quirky movies and offers an eclectic mix of mainly horror but also other titles which divert from the main stream. As an added bonus it has really high production values (if that term is applicable for a site), a clean look, and is super user friendly.

I loved the experience of guest writing for another site and it is definitely something I’ll be repeating in the future!

My movie of choice was Night Watch, a Russian language film with a supernatural theme. Feel free to read the review below or on their site which features pretty pictures and the trailer too!

Night Watch
Russian Language
Original Title: “Nochnoy dozor”
Director: Timur Bekmambetov

As long as humanity has existed there have been others among us. They are human yet they have abilities beyond those of ordinary men. Witches, sorcerers, shape shifters, the others are as varied as stars in the sky. The others are soldiers in the eternal war; the struggle between dark and light. Light others protected mankind from dark others who plagued and tortured humans…

Night Watch begins with a scene of two fantasy/medieval armies marching towards each other as the above narrative takes place. One is the army of light Others while the opposite is the army of dark Others. As the two armies cross paths on a gothic style bridge a battle erupts.

Geser, the leader of the light Others realizes mid battle that the two forces are equally matched and that mutual assured destruction will be the only outcome of this war. Geser and Zavulon, the leader of the dark Others, agree to a truce under the condition that a body of light Others (the Night Watch), will be formed whose task will be to protect mankind from their dark counterparts. Equally an opposite body of dark Others (Day Watch) will do the same, though it is unclear who they’re protecting.

Fast forward to Moscow in 1992, where a man named Anton tries to procure a supernatural abortion for his estranged wife’s bastard foetus under the pretext that he wants her back from the lover she’s eloped with. The witch who performs the deed, (a dark Other) is interrupted by the Night Watch (in invisible form) in the nick of time, and thus the child is saved. During this exchange it is revealed that Anton is a light Other and can see the response team as they write up the witch for violating the truce. Fast forward another 12 years and now Anton is an active member of the response team and his particular duty/skill is to catch Vampire Others. He tracks a Vampire and his illegally turned girlfriend to an abandoned building as they attempt to drink from a child. In the scuffle that ensues Anton accidentally kills the male Vampire while the boy escapes. Anton must now find him before the starving Vampire girl does. Injured and upset at having killed an Other, Anton returns to Light HQ and is healed by Geser. In assistance to his quest for the Vampire, Geser gives Anton an owl and together they try to find the boy Yegor and stop the Vampire girl. They trace him to his house and there Anton realizes that the boy is in fact the son of his former wife and also an Other.

Night Watch is one of those movies that I’ve wanted to watch for a while but after seeing it I was in two minds about writing a review on it. Visually it is not in the same calibre as a Hollywood blockbuster but it definitely holds its own. It is gritty and pungent with a wonderfully European aesthetic, which was probably the most interesting thing about it. It is peppered with striking details that give it a very quirky feel. When Anton rejects the owl for example, she follows him home and messily takes human woman in the middle of his kitchen. After a bath for which she has waited decades, Anton asks his neighbour for women’s clothes so the owl woman ends up with a 70’s wardrobe and is left wondering if she’s in fashion. It was little touches like this that made an otherwise disjointed movie worthwhile.

I say it’s disjointed because in the middle of trying to find and protect the boy, the narrative appears to go off course. After losing the boy, Anton happens to see a woman on the train with a vortex above her head and reports it to his boss. Gesel tells him the story of a legendary cursed virgin whose powerful spell once opened a vortex allowing the forces of evil into the world. The prophecy forecasts that a cursed virgin will walk the earth once again and a final battle between light and dark will erupt, disrupting the balance forever. In the midst of all this a Great Other will appear and if he takes the side of light, then light will triumph, but there is also the risk he will choose the dark. With a storm brewing and the city plunged in darkness by a power outage Anton and his Other buddies manage to find the Cursed Virgin and undo the spell saving the city from the Vortex. While Anton’s attentions are on the Virgin however, the Vampire girl finds the boy Yegor and a fight ensues in order to save him from her desperate clutches.

The impasse is ended by the arrival of Zavulon who attacks Anton and suddenly the battle of the prophecy between light and dark erupts on the roof of Yegor’s building. In the final scene as Anton and Zavulon fight, Yegor tries to give Anton a protective charm against the Overlord Of Darkness, and in the confusion that ensues the child is almost killed by Anton. Feeling betrayed he asks Anton if he really intended to kill him when Zavulon reveals his trump card, the arrest report of the witch hired 12 years earlier by Anton to perform the supernatural abortion on Yegor’s mother which convinces the boy that Anton wanted him dead and which inevitably forces him to join the forces of Darkness, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

As far as Sci-Fi films go, Night Watch it is unusual and entertaining (though with similarities to Star Wars), but it leaves the viewer with several unanswered questions which is my bugbear with movies of any sort. Never the less, the story had potential and had it been done a little bit differently it could’ve have been an epic film. As it stands however, many parts of the story needed tightening in order to reel the viewer more convincingly into the narrative and the overall universe. I frequently found myself wondering how certain parts fell together as some scenes left me with a sense of the ridiculous rather than in awe; case in point the war on the roof and Zavulon’s use of his own spine as a sword. (Yes seriously!)

Even though it was a really good effort, there were several instances where I felt like I could virtually see the screws that held the plot together and though I wanted to be reeled in, hook, line and sinker, I felt myself sitting on the shore waiting for the line to tighten. Never the less, the atmosphere and the visuals created a movie good enough to be a cult classic and one which is definitely worth a watch.

Little bit of Ro News this week!

Not a very long post today, just a quick stop to update you guys on news of the book:

This week I’m happy to announce a KDP Select countdown promotion of the book, in time for Christmas, though please accept my apologies for not getting round to posting this sooner. At the moment it is available at $0.99 and will remain at that price for another five hours or so when it’ll go up to $1.99. It’ll go on like that until the 29th of November when it’ll return to its regular price.

Also I’m very pleased to say that I’ve been featured on reading deals, a list that features all sorts of books on promotion. Check it out if you have the time.

Ultimate Teazer of all time. My real life book prologue.

After 2,5 years of hard work, probably something close to seven drafts, a ton of delays and a steep scrivener learning curve later I’m proud to say that I have finally published Bathory’s Secret, the first book in a series I’ve called Affliction and a re-examination of the Vampire genre from a more human perspective.

Below is an actual excerpt from the book, the prologue over which I fought with both my editor and my beta readers. I am quite fond of it as you’ve probably gathered. I hope you enjoy it.
The book is available here.

There are a lot of things that can kill you in life, germs, chemical imbalances, poisons, accidents, people. The things that can kill you, can also kill us, we’re just as vulnerable as everyone else to life’s threats, even though popular belief would have you think we’re invincible, uncatchable and most of all, already dead! It was many centuries before I learned about viruses, and what they can do. The VN73 virus as it has come to be known, only lives inside us, the infected. It can’t survive outside the human body for longer than a few seconds and it’s almost impossible to see under a microscope. Only one person has been able to see it, and he was the one that also gave it its name. I will talk about this man, but now is not the time.
VN73 has been around for millennia and can only take hold of a host if they have certain genetic mutations, the most common being the chromosomes for blue eyes and black hair whether they manifest or not. When it does manage to take hold, our lives and bodies are transformed in a way that serves only to preserve it. I could go as far as to say it is the most powerful virus unrecognised by man and when we become its hosts we are entirely ruled by it.
In the past we didn’t call ourselves infected of course, as infection is a modern concept, but we went by the title of Afflicted. A subject with the appropriate mutations can only be changed when they are bitten by one who is Afflicted, provided that the predator does not completely exsanguinate the victim, in which case they will simply die. If they leave a little over a quarter pint of blood in them however, the virus, which is most prevalent in the mouth, will slowly take hold, and over a number of days begin to overwhelm the victim. Initially a grasping chill sets in, which is much like the symptoms of a simple cold only it gets worse and worse until it permanently settles the body’s core temperature to about thirty five degrees centigrade and leaves it permanently cold to the touch and extremely pale. Then the heart rate slows so much that it is virtually imperceptible which is what has led the public to the erroneous conclusion that people like us are dead. In fact it is as if we are frozen and living by a much slower clock; the belief that we do not age for example is also incorrect, we do, only where a healthy human being will age in forty or fifty years it will take us a hundred times longer to reach the same level of body fatigue, and even then it depends on the individual’s constitution. I’ve seen some who have lived to be six hundred years old and not need any kind of artificial quickening to keep them going and others burn out as early as two hundred. It all depends on your intrinsic make up, and just like anyone else, maintenance and a healthy lifestyle are crucial to a long and prosperous Affliction.
Certain quickening methods do exist, but the really good ones are secret, myths even. This knowledge is held by very few of us, those that have come to be known as the Protovamps. The rest live their mindless and very often reckless existences in the knowledge that their lifespan is multiplied by about ten times that of the average human, and that is enough for most. As with unafflicted people, each deals with their aging any way they can. Also just like ‘normal’ people, there is no particular or universal solidarity amongst our kind. Some acquire wisdom with age, others remain as stupid as the day they were born, and life goes on.
As a result of the slow aging our metabolisms are affected, which is why only fresh blood is concentrated enough to offer the nutrition we need to keep going. Food can and is consumed but does not offer the nourishment or pleasure it once did, though for some of us some habits are hard to break. I knew this Bulgarian many years ago who when he was healthy, used to love the taste of sweet Turkish coffee. After he was Afflicted the taste was so altered for him that he used to drink up to 20 cups in one sitting, just to gain the satisfaction that a singular cup used to offer him.
Another untruth is the fact that we cannot survive in sunlight. The fact is that sunlight is not actually harmful to us in small doses, the only problem is that we cannot abide it. Due to the sensitive nature of our eyes and skin we prefer to only appear in overcast or dark conditions. The Affliction affects our eyes in such a manner as to enhance their capacity for vision, especially in low light conditions and for reasons we have yet to discover, also alters their initial color. Though it remains as is, it acquires a crystalline quality, which I believe is related to the predatory skills our condition imparts.
Further predatory characteristics also develop. Some acquire excellent hearing while others develop the eyesight of a hawk. Some have a sense of smell so powerful they can smell blood two kilometres away and many grow razor sharp claws that sever skin with the ease of a freshly sharpened butcher’s knife. The skills are as varied as the individual and very rarely one can develop all these traits at once. Occasionally some acquire them from others.
Garlic is one of those anecdotal stories that peasant lore has proliferated over the centuries through their ignorance and fear. Just like any other root, herb or vegetable we are completely indifferent to it and it does not make us recoil nor does it keep us away from anyone brandishing it or hanging it to their doors. In fact, some Afflicted sects use it as their emblem in jest.
Crucifixes and mirrors are more of the same superstitious lore. The virus has existed long before the inception of any religion and if that were the case, faith alone would have cured all the ills known to man by now. Mirrors work on us just as they do not any healthy human being.
Silver like light is a whole other story. Perhaps because of its antiseptic qualities and the high concentration of virus in our bodies we have a strong aversion to it, very much akin to an allergy. Like a healthy person, and by healthy I refer to the unafflicted, could develop an allergy to copper or brass, we cannot abide silver. Its effects are felt instantly and painfully. It burns the skin, though it does not smoke like popular culture would have you believe, and saps our energy almost instantly, but the minute its effects are removed the body heals one hundred times faster than that of a healthy person, provided that the damage was not fatal. Our healing is by no means immediate. If our internal organs are damaged enough we die, if our heads are severed we die, if we are exsanguinated we die, if we do not consume blood or any other nourishment for prolonged periods of time we die-in fact the virus requires constant sustenance otherwise it turns on the body and begins to consume it from the inside if left unnourished. We cannot survive underwater, in oxygen depleted conditions or in freezing weather. We are different, we are superior, we are predatory and often base but in no way are we undead or immortal. Simply put, our bodies acquire different properties as these exist in nature and all for the proliferation of VN73.
History is written by the victors, and even though Erzsébet Báthory’s story has been told countless times before by those that survived her, it was never told by anyone who experienced it all first hand and who remembers it all clearly. For those unfamiliar with this formidable woman, she was a Hungarian Countess who lived in the 17th century and who was rumoured to have tortured and killed over six hundred young girls in order to bathe in their blood to maintain her youthful appearance. Her myth has been greatly embellished over the years, untruths were added and crucial facts were taken away which would have helped clarify who this woman really was and why she behaved the way that she did. Simply, the truth lies in the fact that she was Afflicted by VN73.