The first book in a series to follow, of a saga of a man’s quest to be loved by the woman he loves, yet cannot have. Marcusio is a man first and foremost, an immortal man who was created by a sadistic Vampire, Lorean. Lorean wants Marcusio all to herself and will destroy anyone or anything that comes between them. He is in love with a woman he cannot have due to his brotherhood with the Anuket, a secret society of other immortals whose mission is to protect mortals from the Vampire. If he breaks his oath to the Anuket, he will be put to death. If he does not tell his beloved, she will be unaware that Lorean seeks to destroy her. Will his immortality be his gift or his curse? “What is forever, if you cannot be with the one you love?” – Marcusio
Acknowledgments: I would like to first dedicate this novel to my only son, Alex “Xander” who has been my best brain storm person I could have. My mom, Carol who has stood by me through thick and thin. My cousin Cornelia, which I used her and my son as two of the vampires in the story. My canine daughters, Bella and Dakota who have been my most loyal of companions anyone could have. They bring me joy everyday. And, to my dear sweet grandmother, Frances who has went on to be with God. Grandma, I love you always.
Destiny, what does that really mean? It was my destiny to be something different or was it my destiny to be as I have become? Who knows? She came to me like a shadow and changed me forever. I wasn’t even aware I had been changed until it was too late. Even with her extraordinary ability to see the future or the possibilities, as she likes to call them, she couldn’t foresee this life, if you can call it that, the life that is mine. My life was a simple life. But my life before her, was my life, not hers to take away. She considers what she has done to me, for me, a gift. I didn’t, I don’t see it that way. I was not given a chance to decide.
For the record, I am a man, first and foremost. The type of man is questionable at times. I have forever, if forever is truly forever, to be whatever and whomever I want. Some would call it a gift. I call it a curse. I have been many names throughout history, and yet have not found fulfillment, not until she came to be. How can one enjoy forever, when forever is a sentencing of never seeing the ones you love in this life again in the hereafter? I am doomed to walk as one who cannot suffer death or age. Frozen in time like a relic from the past. A memory of what was, not of what is. Yet, she continues to be reborn to me over and over, a love I cannot escape, nor do I try. A brief life, with her by my side is better than an eternity without her.
Chapter One – Marcusio
“Duck down boy!” I hear my infantry commander call out. With no fear of death, I proceed and stand to my feet and run across the blazing bullet ridden battlefield towards the opponent. After all, I had faced death a hundred upon a hundred times before, and death did not win. I had faced the enemy, men of many faces, and been victorious in the fact that I was still standing when the air cleared. I had served under some of the best and worst of history. From the battles in Bologna and Florence, the French Revolution, the various battles in Ireland, to the American Revolution. Now, I was fighting in the War Of The States as most called it. The South wanted and was demanding their independence from the North and the Union States. The South called them selves, The Confederate. I was not fighting for or against anyone exactly, even though I had elected to be on the side of the Confederates, it was a positioning for me to be closer to her.
“You stupid-“ before my commander can complete his sarcastic remark to me, a stray bullet pierces through his dirty war torn hat and a trickle of blood comes flowing down as his lifeless young body falls to the ground. Oh how I envied him somehow. One single shout to that small and tender cranium and his life is extinguished. How remarkable that now, as I plant one foot in front of another, charging on like a stallion into the wild, trampling over dead bodies, some with missing body parts; engaging the enemy in hand to hand combat, I know that his soul, my commander who was all of sixteen years of age, has now left his poor lifeless body and is heading toward whatever afterlife awaits him. What type of judgment can one, who has lived such a short and useless life as he, be judged? And yet, in that moment, I feel jealous of him.
I am about to share with you a secret, a secret that means my death if told. However, since it is death I seek, then I am doing what I must.
You wonder why would I feel jealous of a dead man? You try living for over five hundred years, seeing death all around you and never able to reach out and touch or be touched by it; with no end in sight, and then see how you would feel. It’s like dangling the thing you want in front of you, and then just as you are about to grab it, it goes away from you. With death, I can sense it, see it, touch it, and even taste it. I can even be it. I just can’t have it. How much of a twist is that for a situation?
As I approach my enemy’s encampment, I see the terror in their eyes. I do not feel it, but I have been mortally wounded, if I had been mortal. I have several shots in the chest that would have ceased a normal man. The look of pure terror in the eyes of my enemy as I approach them is more than any words can explain. Imagine for just a moment, you see a man, if you can call me that, running toward you. My eyes are red as embers, my mouth wide with the look of terror that a grizzly bear would have, I have shots being fired into me, and I am still en route toward them with my saber in hand and the butt of my gun held fast in the other; swinging as I approach, slicing down soldiers as I make my way through the war ridden battlefield. Their limbs and heads being detached from their lifeless bodies as I blaze forward taking down the biggest in my path. My battle cry sounds like the ascent of a cannon and I run at a speed of a stallion across the field. There are many men who have wondered, as I charged toward him, “What can I do that no man has done before me?” I hear their thoughts, as is one of my various gifts, I have learned to utilize. They wonder if they can take me down? With despair and hunger in the pit of their belly, he aims the weapon for the center point of my head and hopes beyond hope that his shot will stop me. He holds his place as I make my way closer toward him. I can see him, as if time has stood still for that moment, his hands trembling as I gain on him, closer and closer. Still he waits, knowing he will only have the one shot to do what he hopes is the one that none have been able to do before him. Shaking, he holds his trembling finger on the trigger. I can see the saliva dribbling from his mouth in anticipation. My saliva is dripping and slinging from my lips that are ruby red, to match my burning eyes and my thirst that has grown so intense I am almost unable to control my desire to end this charade and dine on half the men on both sides.
My eyes narrowing in him and he can see the demonic look as I hurl my body toward him. He fires his one sure shot! But, alas…his shot does not take down the beast and I spare him much pain and quickly twist his head around backwards so that he can see for that one moment the men standing behind him, who will now face my wrath as he did. I feel like I spared him a more horrific death that he could and most likely would have faced at the hands of a mortal enemy.
In your eyes, if you were this man, I would be seen as a terror or worse. In my eyes, I am not evil. I am not all about war. I have compassion, even though my creator tells me that it is my compassion that is my downfall. I have depth, and love the arts and science. Of course, that is the Italian side of me, if I still have Italian bloodline still left in me? It has been so long since I was recorded as a being Italian, I wonder. I do miss my homeland, I must return soon, as I have many times before. But, not before I find her here and hope against hope that she will have me, once more. My love for her, whoever she is now, has not changed. Only the package to receive it has. I love her with no less heart or soul for that matter, than you or any other man would. I probably, no I do definitely love her deeper and more than any man could ever hope to. I know her, more than she knows herself.
Until then, I search and search, seeking my love wherever she is in this life, whoever she is this time. In the process, I must pass the time, so I fancy wars. It is the best way someone such as I, can have fun and of course, feed without remorse, at least much remorse. And, there are many, many, many more like me. We try and stay to ourselves, not hidden in shadows, but out of the limelight. Except when mankind has need for us to be more on the spot. Some of us have been elected to be apart of the arts, some apart of the sciences and some apart of the political scene. Politics is not my thing, too much work for someone who does not like to be in the spotlight. Not me, I choose to be in the laboratories or museums, or the galleries. I prefer to be sitting on French terrace admiring a new artist work or inspiring them. I do not like giving speeches or making promises I am not sure I can keep. But, there are those in human histories that have been of my kind, elected to serve the people. Some were good and some were not. Some served many lifetimes. There are talents my kind has to disguise themselves and make themselves appear to age or even change their look entirely. I have learned to do it somewhat, not at the same as some can and have.
In war, we are given the go ahead like an arena of warriors to take the spoils of war, the bloody bodies that lay in wait for us to finish their lives, sparing them any further pain and suffering. My kind, we are not all predators and wild, uncaring incarnations of evil as some have portrayed us to be in literature or plays. Most of the ones who have decided to write about us, are either my kind trying to scare away those who would embark on a journey to discover who we are and expose us, or those would want to have us make them as we are. Being like I am, does not just mean being immortal and impervious to death, disease, famine and such. It comes with a price. A price much greater than one can expect.
At night in the camp, sitting around a fire shared by young men of the ages of fifteen, seventeen and up to the tender age of twenty, I listen to them talk about what they hope to do after this war ends. They discuss their futures with women, children and having a life. How optimistic they are, seeing how short their lives really are. I have learned a great deal from humans. They are resilient and persistent to the very end. I was once human; I feel I have taken some characteristics with me to this life I lead now.
“When I get home, my girl Sarah…she’s gonna be my wife. We’re gonna go and get us a piece of land and farm it.” Johnny is a young soldier I am a friend with, even though I try and not make friends. Their lives are too short to involve myself with. I tried that and it never works. But, Johnny is seventeen and reminds me of myself at his age. How long ago that was.
“Me, I’m gonna get with as many of those women you can pay to be with.” Sergeant William Marks says. He is the oldest of the group of boys. He is nineteen and his woman sent him a Dear John letter and told him she was marrying his younger brother Daniel.
“Why would you get a paid for woman?” Troy asks. He is from Tennessee and has a very strong accent. I suspect his family never learned to read. He never gets a letter from home.
“Because…”Marks begins, “That way I don’t have to worry about her complaining about my…” He motions toward his amputated arm. He had lost the lower half of his left arm in battle two months before.
I sit and listen and suddenly,
“So…what about you Mark? Whatcha gonna do when this confounded war is ended?” Jacob Mareshe asks me. He is around eighteen, intelligent for the most part and has a desire to learn. He talks about wanting to be a writer when the war is ended. Being from Louisiana means he has French ancestry, he speaks with a defined slang and Southern draw. And, his last name is French and means, “wet lands”. Not sure how or why a family would choose that last name, but his ancestors had. Most times, when the name doesn’t reflect on a real thing, it was probably someone who stole the last name in an effort to hide. I knew all about hiding.
‘Not sure…maybe go home.” I smile. I was being honest with them. I wanted to so badly to go back home to Italy. Like many of my kind, I tried to stay at a level of not drawing suspicion to me, by not appearing to have too much wealth or personal gains. However, I had amassed a good size fortune that I had spread out over several lifetimes. Currently, I had enough monies to buy a small country if I desired. However, I kept the money as a means to travel and resettle myself each time. When it was time for me to locate her again, I had to have the funds to do so. Once I located her, I had to get a home, get my pretense of a life established in the area, and begin my life as that new alias. It takes funding to do such a thing many, many times. And, I had and will continue until God decides that she and I are to be no more. I would do it for as long as it takes. Until she and I are together, forever.
“This is my day!” I call out to the young boys, as I cross over into the enemy’s territory and take my weapon and smash their foreheads hard, caving in their skulls and bringing death instantly to them. I am not hungry, therefore I just engage in the act of war. If I were hungry, I would just critically wound them, and return for them later when the other soldiers were asleep. I know how far to push my luck and not be discovered. But this day, I fight as a soldier and,
“Today, you shall die!” I scream to them as I charge on them. They do not stand a chance against me. Not just because of my strength or speed, or even my agility. I have learned over the past four centuries how to fight very well. I have learned from the best. Caesar was a great tutor, as was many more warriors of human history.
It is difficult enough for them to see me as I sprint toward them like a deer; I am nothing more than a blur at best to their human eyes. Yet for them to try and engage me in hand to hand or to get a shot off at me is near to impossible. Try taking a hard piece of steal from your pocket, dropping it into the end of your riffle, pouring gun powder and packing wad in and then using your bayonet to pack it good, and then pulling it to your eye and firing while running in the same way the shots are being fired. Not an easy task by any margin. I miss the days when men fought hand to hand or with swords.
These weapons that men have now, will only make me stand out more when I do not fall in battle. I have, for the sake of not being discovered, taken the fall. Not many can play dead like me. I do not require to breath and my heart does not beat, not in the same way as a mortal heart does. My heart and lungs can sustain long periods of not breathing, much like a fish. My body stores up the oxygen. I give off a very limited body heat because of the slow speed of my heart and this can seem to the common person, I am dead. The pupils in my eyes are changed to reflect light, like a wolf, and they appear to glow or change colors in the dark. During the day, they can appear to be small or lifeless if I put myself in a state of sleep.
I am aware of those who are like me; we have a way of knowing our kind; like an extra sensing. We smell different and because our hearing is finely tuned to hear the faintest noises, I can hear when someone has a slow, very slow, heart beat like mine. And, we are as different as night and day from humans. We move faster and have reflexes that are unlike mortal beings. Our bodies are accelerated and yet slowed down at the same time. An anomaly of science, at least that is what Copernicus thought of me when I studied with him. That was a lifetime or two back.
“FIRE!” I hear the young man to my right call out as he lights the cannon to fire directly at me as I charge over the hillside, teeth showing and eyes all a glow in a fiery red. I definitely appeared as Satan himself to them as I approached with hell and furry behind me. My arms were moving faster than they could see, swinging my rifle in one hand, dismantling the soldiers on my left. Swinging my bayonet in the right hand, decapitating the men who were on that flank. Their bodies falling like rows and rows of pigeons on a fence post. How many lifetimes had I encountered young men, ready to die for their cause, and yet when I approached them in my truest of forms, they suddenly had decided to reconsider dieing? Too late, death had come for them that day. I am death and yet cannot experience that which I can offer.
I was not always as I am now. Once, a very long time ago by a human recount, I was just a man, just a man who was loved and loved that woman with all his heart. Our love was a love stronger than any I had ever known before. It was strong enough to overcome death itself, or so I thought. Let me explain.
Picture a beautiful countryside, flocks of yellows and lavender and a sunset that I have not seen since. Not the way it was with her. I have seen a hundred, perhaps thousands of sunsets since then, but non-like they were when I shared them with her. You ask, how can one like you see the sunset? As I have explained, we are not allergic to sunlight, as mortals have claimed. That is another myth that man has created to try and explain us. The truth is man made us the way they wanted us to be. My kind did not do the horrible things they had accused us of, until man described things that my kind decided to try after they had heard of it and been accused of it.
During the time I was from, the people are still engrossed in myths and legends leftover from the century before, when man believed in multiple gods and such. It is thirteen hundred and thirty-nine. The world is ending, or so we thought. Death is all around and no one is being spared. There is a disease that has taken the people and is causing them to succumb to death within just a day of coming in contact with it. No medicine can cure it. Not that any had discovered at least. The rumor this death has a name. Its name is The Black Death.
I am a young man, at that time, who is near my twentieth birthday. Still a boy in so many ways, what did I know? Yet, as many at that age, I believed I had all the answers. I had taken a wife, Rosselina. She was beautiful, long dark hair and eyes that were as green as emeralds. She had a smile that could melt a man’s heart with just one glance. We were expecting our first child any day now. The disease had taken our village near Bologna, and we were traveling en route to the Adriatic Sea shoreline to board a ship for Athens. From there, we would make our way to any place that this disease had not visited. There were multiple islands that would shelter us from this dreadful disease that had taken her parents and mine.
I press hard for us to keep time and make ventures into the markets nearby to steal bread and vegetables for her to eat. I did not feel a need to eat; yet, she insists that I need to if I am going to lead us to safety. So, I eat. The dry bread, crusted from age, is better than starving. The fruit is rotten on portions of it, but endurable when you are hungry enough. Some had taken to eating rats and such. Not much else to eat. However, I am hoping it does not come to that for us. Not sure my stomach could stand if had to eat a pestilent such as a rodent. However, with each day, the thought grew less and less upsetting to the pallet.
Days have gone by and Rosselina is heavy with child and is near her delivery. We have come upon a farmer and his wife who have allowed us to stay in their barn. It is warm and dry, and I search the other farms nearby for food, with the help of the farmer. His wife has taken ill and his children are not looking well. I fear the worst for them. Rosselina, dear and sweet Rosselina has taken to the children. The farmer has two, a boy and a young girl. They are like cherubs, with golden hair and eyes of blue. Rosselina and I hope we have a child as beautiful as they are. Rosselina, she is my world, my only tie to this world filled with death. I cradle her, trying to give her comfort as best as I can. The child is sitting wrong inside her, and causing her extreme pains. I wish I knew what to do for her, to give her ease from her endless pain.
After a few days, the farmer’s wife has passed. He buried her today in a spot behind the farmhouse. He has instructed me to bury him there as well when death comes for him. He is showing the signs of the disease. This woman has come to the farm today. Her name is odd, it almost sounds like a melody when she says it. She must be in mourning, wearing her veil and clothing of black as a woman would in mourning. She seems to be very kind, offering to take care of the farmer, whose name I never even asked, and his two small children, allowing me the time to take care of Rosselina. My fear is Rosselina has come in contact with this disease. I pray every spare moment, when I am not trying to ease her pain and find food and drink for her. God cannot take my Rosselina. She is my life, my existence, and my reason for being.
Days have gone by and the farmer has passed, in spite of the great care that the woman whose name is like a song has shown to him and his children. I buried him outback near his wife, as he had instructed. The children, I fear are next. They are lying listless and not being as children. The kind woman, she is tending to them and has told me to care for Rosselina. I am unsure what else to do for Rosselina. Her temperature is rising, causing her body to sweat and then have chills. Her eyes have a fixed glossy look, as one who is extremely sick. “Please God” I plead, “Please spare my Rosselina and unborn child.” I wonder if my prayers will be heard. I dare not to close my eyes, even as tired as I am, less Rosselina should need me. The kind woman, whose voice sounds like an angle’s voice, has offered to stay with Rosselina through the night while I sleep. However, I know that the children require her attention and ask that she stay with them. They are getting worse; death is near for them I fear.
There is hope. The children have made a turnabout. They are up and playing in the courtyard today. The sky is overcast, the smell of death and rain are in the air. Rosselina still suffers. I have decided that I will allow the kind woman to stay with Rosselina while I go search for food nearby. The thing I have feared may be a reality. We may have to dine on rats if there are no vegetables in the fields. I notice that the children are very high-spirited now. They seem to run at a very fast pace. This is unusual for children as sick as they were. Their color is very pale still and their eyes seem to have lost that spark as they once had. But, seeing how they have beaten the odds and not joined the dead, I would say that God had spared them and a celebration is in store, if we had anything to celebrate with. My only gift to offer for dinner tonight is three hefty field rats and a rabbit, along with a rotten head of lettuce. The kind woman, who stayed with dear Rosselina today, has decided she is not hungry and told me to eat all I need. She says a man came by today while I was out and he fed her and the children. What a wonderful man to do such a thing. If he had stayed till I returned, I would have offered him my appreciations. But, the kind woman says he had to be on his way and they thanked him for feeding them. There was not enough to feed us all, but that is fine, more for us. Rosselina and I will dine on what I have supplied. Once you skin and boil the field rodent, they are almost like the rabbit. Rosselina has been having stronger pains and the kind woman says that the baby is lying in a way that is causing her the pain. I have to take her word, for I know nothing of child birthing. Being a woman, she must be familiar with this process. Her touch seems to sooth Rosselina. I fear the worst. The fevers are harming Rosselina and the child inside her. Nothing I can do to cool her.
By morning, I look at Rosselina and her pale skin barely stretched across her bones, as a life inside her desperately tries to come forth. What will I do, if it comes to making a choice? She would insist I take the child and let her pass. But, how can I stand to think of one day without Rosselina? She is the love of my life. I look over at her and try to offer a smile. She can barely pear through her eyes that once shown so brightly. Almost like light had gone out in them. Her smile that once had stolen my heart is now over-shadowed by a staunch and painful gasp as she clutches onto my arm. I feel her life leaving her. The kind woman comes and pushes me back and tells me to go and sit outside. I do as she instructs reluctantly. “Rosselina, I love you!” I cry out as I am ushered outside. The children must be playing elsewhere, for I do not see them as I enter the courtyard. I walk around back and see the graves for the farmer and his wife. It is then, I see the children. They are nearby. Fever must have taken me as well. They appear to be moving at a very fast speed, almost like blurs of light moving about. Surely, I have succumbed to the fever. I feel ill as I sit down beside the edge of the house. Their tiny voices are so shrill and high pitched like birds. My eyes are aching as I have been trying to stay awake for days now. I hear Rosselina in the distance, calling out my name. I want to rush to her, but I know that I would only be in the way. I hear her breathing harder and harder, grunting and moaning. She screams loudly, and I wait. Moments and moments pass; I wait to hear the sound of our child. Stillness and silence fill the air. Rosselina must have not delivered yet. Suddenly, I see the kind woman walk out. She has blood on her hands and she looks at me with sorrow in her dark eyes.
“NO! NO!” I cry out. I know that look. It means that the worst has happened. I have no strength left in me and I fall to the ground. Not sure how long I am out. Could have been days or weeks, I was not sure. When I awaken, I see the kind woman and the children are standing not far from her. Fever has taken me, I am going to be joining my Rosselina and unborn child soon, and I see the look in the woman’s face.
“Please, please….”I try and ask her to be sure I am buried near to my Rosselina. But, I am weak and fall into slumber once more. As I am falling into sleep, I begin to have a dream. I see Rosselina, looking as beautiful, if not more than usual standing at the foot of the bed I lay in. She is cradling a child, our child in her arms. I call out to her as I see her standing there with her long brown hair encompassing her beautiful face. Her attention is focused on the child, our baby that we made. Finally, she looks up. The fever must have me mad beyond anything could for her eyes are dark, not emerald colored as they had been. Her lips are parted and appear to be as rubies, bright with color. The color is that of bright berries, except it is not berries that she has been eating. Tears fill my eyes as I can then see her completely. She turns toward me and I see the child she is holding and there is blood all over it. I see her mouth closer now and she has the blood of the child on her mouth.
“NO!” I call out. “Dear GOD NO!”