It was totally quiet inside the truck as Semris regained consciousness.
Where am I? Why am I in this cage?
Abruptly, he remembered--the camp, the strange, gray beast, and the strangers, one of them with the odd war club that spat poisoned darts--and he was certain the dart had been poisoned, else why would he have lost his soul to darkness so quickly?
He was groggy and disoriented. His face hurt where the stranger had struck him with the club. He could feel movement, but knew he was lying inside a small cramped space. How can I be moving when I'm lying down?
He couldn’t stand upright, was barely able to get to his knees. Because of the net entrapping them, he wasn't even able to retract his wings to give himself more room.
Slowly, he turned his head. In the shadows, he saw a seated, sleeping figure holding the war club. One of the men who had thrown the net over him, the tall one with the hair holding the color of the noonday sun. Was this some child of Ah Kinchil, come at last to punish Nikte-Uaxac for abandoning its worship of the Sun to follow the Children of Cizin-Yum Cimil-Ah Puch? Did they plan to kill him and thus send the city into chaos?
That is Tucker Upchurch's introduction to Semris, Emperor of Nikte Uaxac, a still-existing Mayan city in the Yucatan jungle. Before the story is over, Tuck will find both his life and Semris' changed forever.
Dark God Descending is tentatively considered a vampire story but it's one, I hope, with an enjoyable twist. It's also a story of friendship--between two men, separated by thousands of years: Tucker Upchurch, an archaeology student from the University of Georgia, and Semris, a Mayan god-king who is several thousand years old.
Tuck and Semris meet when the student accompanies his professor to Yucatan, on the trail of an ancient bat god. Instead of finding a stone statue, however, they find a living being in an extant Mayan city in the middle of the jungle, and as usual when modern civilisation intrudes into the past, disaster results. Tuck's professor is without scruples if it will enhance his own reputation, and this is an opportunity he can't turn down. He and his men steal the city's most prize possession—its Emperor, Semris.
Drugged and caged, Semris is guarded by Tuck who soon develops an emotional bond with his captive charge. The two men communicate through an archaic form of Spanish, and Tuck learns that Semris is the son of Yum Cimil, the Mayan god of death, and is, in the eyes of the civilised world, a vampire. Tuck gives his blood to keep his friend alive, and when the opportunity arises, he helps the emperor-god escape.
Before he manages to once again return to the city in the jungle, Semris will learn of human love and human sacrifice, and will suffer an all too-human grief. Tuck will lose the one person he's loved all his life but will gain something more precious in Semris' friendship, and be blessed with near-immortality. Everyone they touch on the journey back to Yucatan will be changed forever…and the punishment to the villain is both fitting as well as ironic.
Damn, I write a good story!
Two men…separated by thousands of years, cultures, and customs…and in love with the same woman…
All grad student James Tucker Upchurch wanted was to earn summer credit on an archaeological dig to Central America…and to marry his fiancée, Shannon. All Semris wanted was to escape the monotony of a millennia-old life, and the burdens being a demon king, and the son of the Mayan God of Death, have placed upon him.
For five thousand years, the misplaced Dark Lords of Hell have been trapped in this world, ruling the Mayan city of Nikte-Uaxac. While elsewhere civilizations rise and fall, they and their subjects remain unchanged, until Twenty-first Century intruders appear, stealing from them their most precious possession, the Emperor himself…
Tuck never expected to lose his girl to a demon nor to be given immortality, and Semris never thought he’d experience mortal love, but when the current world meets a more ancient one, everything and everyone they know will be changed. Forever.
Tuck walked over to the cage.
Oh, God, did that last shot kill him? As far as he could tell, Semris hadn’t moved.
When he saw the slow rise and fall of the bare chest, he felt abrupt relief. He also saw the golden amulet, recognizing it as the twin of the one that had started all this unpleasantness in the first place.
The fruit hadn’t been touched, was rapidly darkening, the sweet, overripe smell permeating the cellar, attracting flies. How the Hell did they get in here, anyway?Several big bluebottles were buzzing around inside the cell, hovering over the peaches, a couple crawling along the edges of the plate. One was floating in the water glass, wings fluttering and making little splashes.
Tuck knelt and opened the little flap, reaching inside to remove the glass. As he reached back in for the plate, it happened. so fast he didn’t even realize Semris had moved until he felt the iron grip upon his wrist, saw the fangs drop and the dark head covering his hand.
He screamed as twin razor slashes struck through his wrist...knowing no one could hear, struggled desperately to get away. Frantic, disbelieving thoughts whirling through his mind. Oh, God, this is why he didn’t eat the fruit. He’s a vampire! Sweet Jesus, he’s going to kill me! Help someone, help me! Why should they? I didn’t help him.
The pain went away, his arm numb from wrist to fingertips.
He knelt there on the floor, watching the pale body crouched so near he could have reached out and touched his shoulder...his bare, wingless shoulder.Where did his wings go? What happened to them? All he could do was watch those shoulders heave with the strength of each deep swallow, feeling his life ebb away, and a vague surprise that it didn’t hurt at all.
Eyes rolling up, Tuck gave a little sigh and collapsed against the bars. He was barely conscious as he saw Semris raise his head and release his arm. In spite of being only slightly aware, he felt a stab of surprise as the quiet voice whispered, “Gracias. Gracias por su sangre.”
He’s thanking me? Thanking me for letting him kill me? With an effort, he made himself withdraw his wounded arm, cradling it against his chest with his other hand. Forcing his eyes open, he stared at his wrist, fighting the wave of blackness floating before his eyes.
There was no bloody ripped-away flesh as he’d imagined, only four deep punctures. Two of the five little veins had been pierced, but the wounds were clean and already clotting. Tuck forced himself to take a deep breath, then let it out, and repeated the procedure. Keep breathing! Don’t pass out. He might decide to have a second helping.
“I took too much. I am sorry. I was too hungry.”
There was such concern in Semris’ voice that Tuck found himself replying, “That’s all right. I-if I’d known, I… Oh, God, what am I saying?” He fell silent, feeling a bout of hysteria galloping toward him.
Something was thrust into his hand. One of the peaches. Semris’ hand, between the bars, holding it out to him. “Aqui. Come. Pronto.”
So he took the peach and bit into it, choking slightly as the rich, sweet juice slid down his throat, but forced himself to keep chewing and swallowing. As the fruit sugar hit his stomach, he began to feel better.
“That was good.” With a sigh, he tossed the peach pit aside.
Through the bars, hands helped him to his feet. He leaned against the door, hanging onto it to keep his balance as dizziness flooded back.
“Again, I am sorry. He looked up, meeting Semris’ eyes, startled at the concern in them. “It has been so long since I have had the living wine.”
Living wine…what a beautiful way to describe it. Tuck still felt a little groggy, wondered if he was now under the vampire thrall. He decided to find out. “Am I your minion now?”
“Why would you think that?” Semris sounded genuinely puzzled.
“Well, you’ve taken my blood. Generally, when a vampire--”
“Vampiro! Donde?” Semris looked around quickly, arms crossing over his throat in a protective gesture.
“You.” Tuck answered, feeling he’d made a mistake. “Aren’t you a vampire?”
“Of course not!” The answer was disdainful that Tuck might mistake him for such a vile creature. “I am a Dark Lord. Un demonio.” The pale chin lifted proudly. “Los vampiros are creatures accursed.”
Tuck thought that over. “And you’re not.”
“No.” Semris shook his head, the dark hair swinging. “I am not.”
Tuck realized he must be feeling better, to be able to marvel at the absurdity of this conversation.
Tony-Paul de Vissage
A writer of French Huguenot extraction, one of Tony-Paul de Vissage's first movie memories is of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula's Daughter on television, and being scared sleepless—and he’s now paying back his very permissive parents by writing about the Undead.
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