The Aventurieri: More than Human, More than Vampire
At last, I’ve got a series…about vampires…and I’m going to give you the facts…just the fact, ma’am…
The Premise: Humans call them vampires; they call themselves aventurieri. They have their own feudal-based government and laws more stringent than their human brothers, based on a much harsher religion. They do not kill humans for their blood but have a retinue of servants who supply them in exchange for their protection and care. Faithful retainers are rewarded with enthrallment which bestows upon them an elongated life span. Their religion has given them a Prince --the Domnitor--to rule over them, and the myth of a one-eyed king who will deliver his people from the tyranny of their ruler while betraying them to the world of humans. They fear humans and even those who live in the outside world do so in disguise and caution. They also have their feuds, romances, insecurities, and secrets.
The Settings: Carpathius in the Decebral Valley, within the crags of the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, Romania; Europe: Vienna, Austria and Paris, France
The Time: 1794-1810
The Story: The Shadow Lord focuses on one family--the Strigoi--and its leader, the Prince's assassin--the taietor--sent to execute those who break the Principiu, laws handed down from the gods. This act will result in the murder of the Taietor and his retinue, and send his eldest son on a journey of revenge and self-discovery. With his younger brothers and sister, Marek Strigoi is banished from Carpathiusm traveling to Vienna and on to Paris, seeking his father's murderer. He will discover love and a long-hidden family secret, and eventually the strength to accept the fate the gods have chosen for him.
In the midst of this turmoil, a romance blossoms for the still-naïve Marek, his first true love which will stay with him through the centuries,
Commanding them to partake of all that was offered, he climbed the dais to his own seat.
The girl was sitting on a stool at the head table. As Marek slid into his chair, she stiffened and turned to face him.
Gods, she looks terrified. Must be her first outing.
He smiled to put her at ease, "Good evening, Nurliu," using that little affectionate because she was the prettiest female he'd seen in a very long time. He placed his forefinger under her chin, tilting her head slightly.
She relaxed just a little, smiling timidly. "Good evening, Your Lordship."
Marek leaned forward to kiss her. She started to pull away, then forced herself to be still.
The next moment, he nearly recoiled as her fresh, unsullied scent flowed over him. What the Hell--? Taking her in his arms, he pressed a kiss against her bared shoulder, inhaling deeply the delicate female fragrance of her skin.
"You're human," he whispered the words into her ear so no one else could hear. "How'd you get here?"
Releasing her, he leaned back to look into her eyes. He was startled to see that they were a blue, so pale as to be almost colorless. How could those fool soldiers see those and her red hair and think her one of us? No aventurieri had eyes that color.
"I-I'm the kitchen maid for Madame Lubos." She avoided his gaze. "I heard her girls talking about what they would be paid for tonight, and I-I wanted the money!"
"You'll have to earn it," he told her solemnly, already envisioning her naked in his bed and surprising himself with the thought.
Her chin went up, though it trembled slightly. "I'm quite prepared to do that, my Lord!"
"Good!" Marek turned away, seizing the leg of a roasted bird on the platter before him and wrenching it free of the carcase. "You'll get your chance soon enough!"
He bit into the drumstick, hearing a slight gasp behind him.
He swallowed and looked at her, asking sardonically, "You didn't know we ate food, also? Did you think the meals you prepared were just for Madame Lubos' human customers?"
Pulling a silver of meat from the bone, he offered it to her, and after the slightest hesitation, she opened her mouth, allowing him to place it on her tongue.
Chewing daintily, she swallowed and ate the second piece he held out also. She selected a pitted cherry from a bowl of fruit next to the fowl, but as she started to eat it, Marek caught her wrist, bringing it toward his mouth.
"I have a particular weakness for cherries." He bit the little fruit off the stem and released her hand, wondering why she blushed so.
In spite of that, she smiled a little easier and picked up another cherry, rubbing it across his lips and smearing them with juice. He ate that one, too, and for several minutes, was content to sit there and eat the fruit from her hand. Her fingers became stained and he licked the juice off them, his tongue lingering against her fingertips.
When he kissed her again, he could taste her own sweetness under the flavor of the cherry juice.
The Shadow Lord is the first in the Second Species series, published by Double Dragon Publishing (Canada).
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Buy at Double Dragon Publishing: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=Shadow%20Lord