Wednesday, June 13, 2012
One of my most beloved vampires is a man named Triarius. He first appeared in my short story, Beneath the Mask, in the Spiked anthology from Torquere Press. Since then, he's had a sequel, plus cameos in the latest (forthcoming) Mychael/Shayne novel from Torquere. But who is Triarus? And why does he not fit the usual pretty-vampire mold?
Triarius came about when I set out to write a story for Spiked. The anthology's theme was body modification, and I tossed ideas all over the place for it. Then I thought: a vampire! A vampire can heal quickly, which makes body modding a bit easier. Somehow, in the brainstorming process, Beneath the Mask turned into a bizarre twist on the Interview with a Vampire/Phantom of the Opera themes. Lance Shaw sets out to interview the enigmatic (and quite reclusive) leader of the Inferi Brotherhood. All he knows is the name: Triarius.
Lance's first glimpse of Triarius takes his breath away. You see, Triarius isn't pretty. In Beneath the Mask, I'm inclined to say he isn't pleasant in any shape, form, or fashion. He's arrogant, powerful, and scarred. He wears a silver mask over one side of his face to hide a hideous amount of scarring from a potential rapist when he was young (and not yet a vampire). Triarius' soul is, at the start of the story, as black as they come.
But there's something about him that Lance can't resist. Maybe it's the power, or the otherworldly, indescribable allure, but whatever it is, Lance finds himself drawn to a man who could--and most likely would--kill him without the slightest thought.
Why did I write such a morbid, threatening character as an eventual lover? Because I wanted something that blew the whole "beautiful vampire" idea out of the water. Triarius fed me the details of his life, some for Beneath the Mask, the rest for Necessary Evil (its sequel); I merely typed the words. When I wrote him in 2007, I had no idea how readers would react to him. He abducts Lance, keeps the reporter hostage, and tricks Lance into drinking his blood (thus turning Lance into his ghoul--the mortal servant of a vampire in the Romanorum world). Who on Earth would love this creature?
Apparently, many folks do. Including Lance, I might add. I like to think that it's his personality--the ruthlessness--that draws people to him like moths to a flame. It's the bad-boy ideal, is it not?
"You can read minds."
I figured the best step would be to find out more about the man behind it all. "What else can you do?"
Triarius chuckled, still facing away from me. "Much. More than you could ever begin to explain to your readers, Mr. Shaw."
It occurred to me then that I had no idea what this man even looked like. He was here when I'd arrived,cloaked in shadows. "What do you look like?"
"Another question for your story?"
"No." For me...
Triarius turned and my heart nearly stopped. Light glinted off of something silver on the right side of hisface. Like some real-life twist on the Phantom, Triarius had a silver mask --or at least half of one --covering the upper right side of his face. There was a hole for him to see out of, and the mask stopped just an inch or so above his mouth, and then tapered off to the side. The eye peering through the hole in the mask was milky white, almost glassy. His other was steel blue. His lips curled into a twisted smile that said he knew exactly what I was thinking.
"I was disfigured long before my turning. A bit of sparring gone wrong, you could say."
I could tell there was more to it, but he didn't seem inclined to elaborate. He stepped away from the window and closer to the table where I sat. The shadows seemed to move with him, somehow, wrapping around his body like a cloak. I knew some vampires were able to control the shadows. I'd even been witness to the Prince of London toying with them a time or two. These shadows were much different, though --thicker, consuming. Like Triarius, they seemed to draw in the light, engulfing it until there was nothing left. I wanted to say this man was evil, but even that felt inadequate for what I saw in his eyes. There was power behind them, more than I think anyone ever realized, but there was something darker. I knew he was a rogue --he'd said so himself. This went beyond being a rogue. It wasn't blood lust that fueled him. It was the worst kind of power imaginable: unspoken, quiet, calculating.
Triarius settled back into his seat and the darkness enveloped him. His unassuming voice broke the awkward silence. "I created the Brotherhood in 1232. To this date, there are thousands of us, spread throughout the world. We have a network, a system through which we conduct business, recruit, and if need be, dispose of unwanted influences."
"Every organization has its share of bad seeds. We deal with ours effectively --within and without the Brotherhood itself."
"So you are murderers, killing without the need to drink, then."
Triarius clicked his tongue, the sound loud in the small room. "Come now, Mr. Shaw. Murder is such a strong word, don't you think? I prefer... cleansing."
"How do you do it?"
"We receive reports, from our members out in the open. We then send teams to investigate. If we find the reports to be true, the subjects in question to be threats, then we dispose of them --quickly and efficiently. If an answer cannot be determined right away, the subjects are brought to me."
I felt the blood slowly drain from my face and I shivered as the temperature in the room dropped several degrees. "And you hold them prisoner? How do you determine if they are a threat or not?"
"There are many ways to prompt a person to speak when he or she is not normally inclined to do so."
"If necessary, though I find it tedious. I prefer mind over body. The mind does not lie, only the mouth. If I want truth, I need only to see a person's thoughts."
"So you invade their brains, basically?"
"My, but you are abrasive in your choice of words." He sighed. "But yes, I do."
"I guess it's pointless to argue about morals, then."
Triarius laughed. "Mr. Shaw, I have, in my two thousand years, taken great pleasure in watching men die. Do you really think morals matter to me?"
If you're thoroughly intrigued now (and who wouldn't be when it comes to Triarius?!), you can find him in the following stories: Beneath the Mask (Spiked anthology) and Necessary Evil. He has cameos in the forthcoming novel Shayne and I just turned into Torquere, so keep an eye open for that one, too.
Spiked: Necessary Evil: