November 30, 2009

Mixing Mayan Legend with the Vampire Myth and Modern Romance

Dark God Descending by Tony-Paul de Vissage

I wanted to write a vampire story with a difference. So I chose the stories of the Maya as the settig for my story and to fall back on an old cliche in order to tell it.

It's a staple of the SyFy Channel and late night horror movies dating back decades...the lost city in the jungle, stumbled upon by a safari of scientists...they carry away some object precious to the inhabitants. In doing so, they bring a curse upon themselves in particular and Mankind in general as the embodiment of the sacred object--itself mindless except for the desire for revenge, brings the wrath of the gods upon the wrongdoers...the hero struggles to save his friends, perhaps return the sacred object to its home...various minor characters are killed off before this happens and the inevitable happy ending is flashed upon the screen.

Dark God Descending follows this formula to a certain degree. There's a lost city, the city of Nikte-Uaxac, a Mayan civilization existing deep in the Yucatan. A sacred object is stolen from the city and the evildoers are punished, but there the similarity ends. The sacred object is the Emperor himself and it is he who exacts revenge upon his kidnappers. Semris II is no mindless hulking mummy or an animated enchanted dagger or an invisible but deadly plague. He's an intelligent, articulate, supernatural being--a demon godling--who simply wishes to return to his people. Aided by Tuck, the human charged with guarding him, he manages to escape, and thus begins an adventure for both demon and mortal.

All Tucker Upchurch wants is to get his degree in paleontology and marry his girl. Going with Professor Rand Westcott on his latest expedition will do just that. What Tuck gets instead is the adventure of a lifetime as he becomes the friend of a creature who shouldn’t exist, the son of the Mayan god of Death. What happens when a 28-year-old mortal is thrown together with a 5,000-year-old demon? The consequences are what neither of them expect. The story is a romance, to be sure, but a romance with far-reaching consequences for the participants. There's humor involved as Semris and Tuck talk about their respective cultures and their lives, awe when Tuck discovers a city and a people he's only read about in his college studies, pain as he sees the woman he loves walk away. For Semris, there's the fear of discovery by people who consider him a monster, and of never seeing his home again, and the belief that his abduction is punishment for some sin he's unaware he's committed. In his attempt to aid Semris in returning to Nikte-Uaxac, Tuck will lose the thing he loves the most and gain immortality; Semris will witness the depth of human cruelty as well as human love. Both will be forever changed by what happens, they will becomes brothers, each shedding his blood for the other, as they struggle to protect Nikte-Uaxac from the invasion of the Twenty-first Century. And the villain...? He gets what he deserves...and, at the same time, what he most desires...and the irony of it all is terrible and fitting.

Dark God Descending is the story of two men, separated by thousands of years, thrown together by unbelievable circumstance; it is the story of their friendship and what is involved in accepting the events Fate has dealt them. I've tried to entwine the Euopean beliefs in the vampire with the Maya view of the subject as well as their way of life, and I hope the reader will agree that I did a pretty good job.


It was quiet in the cornfield, the only sound the wind rustling through the dried shucks as the three huge crows made their way through the rows, hopping with long-legged leaps. One stopped to peck at an ear of corn half-buried in the plowed dirt, caught it in his beak and pulled it from the soil. With a muffle caw, it rose into the air, circled around and squawked as the cob slipped free, falling back into the field.

It landed in a section where the cornstalks had been broken and crushed to the ground by the force of a heavy body falling through them. The corncob struck a dark wing, bent at an odd angle around an unmoving body which reacted with a slight grunt and a soft groan.

Semris opened his eyes and tried to get up.

Merciful Ah Kinchal, his shoulder hurt! And his side. What had happened? The peon’s shot deadly little pellets had struck his shoulder, their impact causing such a devastating lack of sensation that his wings collapsed, bringing him down.

He couldn’t use his left arm. It hurt too much. So he fumbled around, got the other under him and pushed himself upright. For just a moment, everything swirled away into blackness.

The crows were still flying about, landing nearby, scavenging at the corn. They reacted with startled croaks as he crawled through them on knees and one hand, wincing as the dragging wings collided with the broken stumps of the corn stalks.

Angry at his intrusion, they darted at him. Semris swung his uninjured arm, warding them away.
“Leave me alone, servants of my Father! You’ll not take me back to Mitnal today! Go!” The flailing arm connected with a feathered body, the bird reacting with a harsh croak of surprise as it fell to the ground. It hopped to its feet and flew away. “Tell Yum Cimil I’ll keep my soul a little longer!”

The other birds needed no second urging. Muttering odd little noises that sounded as if they were cursing at the strange winged being, they swooped into the air, circled him once, then flapped away.

Semris watched them go, then shut his eyes and sat there, drawing his knees up and resting his forehead upon them as he waited for the dizziness to abate. When he opened his eyes again, he lunged to his feet, took a step with his wings dragging the ground behind him, and stumbled and nearly fell.

Were his wings broken? Had they been snapped by the force of his fall through the cornstalks before crashing against the hard soil?

Slowly, carefully, he concentrated on lifting the right one, flapping it gently. It moved, slowly, with a slight soreness, but it did move. The left one, however, was a different story. There was great pain as he tried to flex the dark membrane-covered bones, sharp, and wrenching. He would swear he felt them rubbing together.

Gritting his teeth, Semris willed his wings to collapse, tucking them away inside his shoulder-scars. Then, he took a deep breath, and began to limp through the corn rows.

The wound had begun to bleed again. The blood slowly dripped down his side, soaking the blanket loincloth, dying the blue fabric a crimson so dark it was almost black. The many small cuts were drying now, forming thin scabs. Behind him lay a trail of withered weeds and singed earth, corrupted from contact with his blood dripping onto the ground.

Briefly, he was appalled. He, the Emperor of All Creation, barefoot and naked, crawling through the weeds like an animal! At the moment, he realized, he was little more than an animal. To Tuck’s people, that’s exactly how he would appear and he would remain an escaped animal until he was able to find his way home.

Another reason to stay out of sight as much as possible.

(Dark God Descending is scheduled for release by sams dot publishing.)


Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Tony-Paul, thanks for stopping by today. I love your concept for the story. It's sounds very interesting. Can you leave us your website addy so we'll know where to look for further information?


Emma Lai said...

Great excerpt!

LuAnn said...

I found the Mayan culture so fascinating when I took anthropology classes in college.

Tony-Paul said...

Sorry I forgot to do that, AKL! My website is: http:
BTW, my blog this week is a review of the Dracula sequel, Dracula, the Undead.

Mary Ricksen said...

Great imagery Toni. I have to read this!
Hey Anna-Kathryn great blog!

Barbara Monajem said...

That was an intense excerpt - very enjoyable. And I love friend stories.

Mary Marvella said...

Tony-Paul let me read the beginning years ago and I loved it then! It does indeed have a different twist.

Judy said...

You always have something interesting and clever. Sounds like a great story!

Scarlet Pumpernickel said...

Great interview, enjoyed the excerpt. You're a positive talent with a bright future.

Beth Trissel said...

This story sounds very interesting, highly creative. The Mayan culture is always fascinating too. Y

Tony-Paul said...

Merci everyone, for stopping by!

Estella said...

Sounds like a great story!

Detra Fitch at said...

I'm not a big fan of Mayan Temple-like stories, but I must admit it still looks and sounds fascinating.

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