In my last post, I touched on the story of Tel-Urughs, the creatures similar to vampires who inhabit my imaginary world. I mentioned that they need only a small amount of human blood to live and thrive.
Why did I make them warm-blooded, robust, bursting with life?
Vampires have been populating the world of fiction–and human imagination– for a long time. It’s not easy to come up with new or even modified concepts about them.
I thought a lot about vampires before I created my Tel-Urughs. I found a hole where I least expected to find it: in one of the fundamental and most enduring ideas about vampires as undead creatures, cold to the touch.
Through the entirety of human history, blood has been a symbol of life, not death. If they lose too much blood, people die. Blood transfusions, on the other hand, often save lives. Even in folklore, vampires feed on life essence — blood– of the living. Shouldn’t it make them more alive? And warm?
So I gave the old story my own twist. Human blood is the source of my Tel-Urughs’ energy, vitality and longevity, of their powers. It makes them who they are, and that’s why the connection between them and humans is so important.
It’s a symbiosis, and like every symbiotic relationship, it requires a great deal of balance. Humans are the key for Tel-Urughs’ existence; in return, Tel-Urughs help the progress of their human relatives’ civilization.
For supernatural romance fiction one aspect of Tel-Urugh and human lives is particularly attractive: their sexual interactions. (I really can’t find much correlation between undead and cold on one side and and sexual attraction on the other.) Since a Tel-Urugh hasn’t featured yet as a main character in my novels, this concept is yet to be explored. Stay tuned, because Christian Enescu, a duke, a count and an architect, is about to fall in love…
But there are a few of Tel-Urughs in supporting roles. Among them are Livia and Tristan Blake, from Asanni and Ellida. They’re both doctors: Tristan is a surgeon, and his wife an allergy specialist, currently working on a safe cure for human food allergies. They temporarily put their careers on hold to bodyguard, 24/7, their young wizard friend and fellow doctor, Astrid.
I know everything about them, of course, including their love story, but when I was writing Asanni, I decided to introduce them as complete, finished characters. They’re sort of surrogate parents to Astrid. Their role is to protect her and help her grow strong to face her enemies. And to help us understand the Tel-Urugh way of life.
The following excerpt is from Asanni, the first book of Red Cliffs Chronicles.
“… No one knew how old Livia was, except maybe Tristan. Every now and then she would mention names well-known from history books: her friend Catherine de Medici, King Baldwin of Jerusalem, who hadn’t allowed Liv to cure him of leprosy, Gaius Julius Caesar. Astrid had never heard her talking about the time before Caesar’s Rome, but suspected Liv had existed long before she had helped her friend with the extensive reforms of Roman society and government. Once, Astrid had asked Tristan about that, but he just smiled and shrugged. “Every woman is entitled to her little secrets. In her own way, Liv is a bit self-conscious about her age.”
Similar to wizards, Tel-Urughs also camouflaged their true identities by adopting common human habits. Tristan had been scrupulous about it, resorting to their extraordinary abilities only when it was necessary.
Unaffected by daylight, the Blakes were well adjusted to the human day-night rhythm, taking their short sleeping time in the wee hours of the night.
By their nature, however, Tel-Urughs were nocturnal creatures. For centuries and centuries, and for obvious reasons, their most important activity, feeding, had been during the night, and the burst of energy that followed made them anything but sleepy…
Puncturing human arteries and drinking blood not only kept them alive and vigorous, but could have a great effect on Tel-Urughs’ libidos as well. Humans didn’t suffer through the procedure, of course, unless they were unfortunate enough to come across a rogue. Induced into a dreamlike state, they didn’t remember the experience on the conscious level. To them it seemed like the most beautiful, and sometimes erotic dream. There was no physical damage and they didn’t turn into vampires, at least not through feeding.
A human could become a Tel-Urugh, but that occurred only sporadically and when there was deliberate intention. As human blood was essential to vampires’ very existence, turning them into vampires would be neither practical nor ethical, as Liv had once explained to Astrid.
In spite of the physical pleasure associated with one-on-one feeding, the Blakes, as well as many other modern-day Tel-Urughs, opted for less satisfying yet handier ‘bottled food’ for their bi-weekly intake of blood. Tristan particularly opposed feeding from humans. He called it “a barbarous practice that should be prohibited by law”, primarily because, in the majority of cases, humans were not willing participants.
Fortunately, Tel-Urughs needed only a small amount of blood. A few ounces every two weeks were usually sufficient to sustain them. Between two feedings, protein-rich food did just fine. Tristan and Liv had their favourite food and their dislikes, same as everybody else. Livia loved Italian cuisine and enjoyed fine Central European cakes and pastries. Tristan, with his refined taste, preferred French cooking above any other…”