Spiked is a body modification anthology coming out next Wednesday from Torquere Press. My novella, "Beneath the Mask", is one of four novellas that make up the antho.
Out of all the men I've written, Triarius is one of my all-time favorites. He's my beloved anti-hero: cruel, ruthless, and downright sex on legs, if you ask me. But...don't take MY word for it. Just ask Lance Shaw, the reporter who managed to get an interview with one of the most dangerous vampires in the world.
"Dio knows we exist, Mr. Shaw. The Romanorum knows. At this point, I would daresay the entire world knows. The fact remains, however, that they cannot find the worst of us. And by that, I mean those of us who actively kill humans."
Fuck. I was in over my head. What was I thinking? Here I was, in some nondescript ghost town in the middle of nowhere England, with a man -- a creature -- who could easily kill me. And no one would ever know. Curiosity, however, is a strong influence.
"I know the Brotherhood is underground -- both figuratively and literally, and no, I won't ask where. I am curious, though, as to why the Romanorum can't find you. Can't every vampire -- even a rogue -- trace his or her blood back to the sire?"
"Not all of us are rogues," he said. "It is true that I myself am, by Romanorum standards, but you forget that the oldest of us did not take the formulas required to make that distinction. It is by name alone that I am known for who I am, not by any taint to my aura or soul."
"So... there are those who are not rogues within the Brotherhood?"
"Yes. The Brotherhood is not based on killing humans. We are gods, Mr. Shaw. Descended from gods, created by them. Human are cattle, put upon this earth for us to use as we see fit."
"The Romanorum would have something to say about that," I said quietly.
"You are not writing. Is my tale that uninteresting?"
I blinked down at the paper. A large stain spread out from where the tip of my pen rested, but there were no words. What was I supposed to say, how was I going to write any of this into a news story? I stared at the blotch of ink and wondered why I'd even asked for this meeting.
"Perhaps you were curious, more for your own sake than that of your readers."
"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 his face. 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.