Victor Decimus was once a ruthless officer in the Roman Legion—but all his power couldn’t make Jesus of Nazareth love him the way he wanted to be loved. Seeking solace and escape, he finds release with a seer who is something more than human.
Turned into a vampire, Victor is filled with rage and a lust for revenge. In two thousand years, he has honed these emotions to a razor-sharp edge, his thirst for vengeance matched only by his thirst for human blood. He takes pleasure in infiltrating monasteries and corrupting young monks, slowly undermining the Church of Christ.
Victor finally finds the perfect lover to replace him as a vampire and ultimately to join him in the Dark Kingdom, a young monk named Michael. Just as Michael’s initial resistance weakens, the local authorities begin investigating a ghoulish monster who has left a trail of bloodless victims. Victor must convince Michael before the investigation unravels his plans, depriving him once again of the man he loves.
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The sheriff and his men found the remains of two more bodies, and their investigation turned up 15 more missing people. Although it had been a couple of months since I'd preyed on the mountain dwellers, the new findings alarmed the community. The sheriff had us assembled to warn us to stay in after dark and never to wander in the woods alone, even though no recent victims had been discovered.
That night I was taking some air at the edge of the woods, deliberating whether I should feed in the city or wait until the next night when the monks might be less alert to nocturnal comings and goings. It was August and still warm, though I smelled rain in the heavy air, and a breeze stirred the branches. A circle of light suddenly glowed near the monastery and grew larger and larger as it approached me.
"Who's out there?" Michael called when he heard me snap a limb. He scanned the trees with his flashlight.
Of course, the darkness had not shielded him from me. I watched his athletic form, dressed like me in jeans and a T-shirt, hike with determined strides toward the forest.
"You're blinding me, for God's sake." I said.
"Brother Victor?" He shone the torturous light in my face and lowered it when I cursed. "What are you doing here?"
"Taking a walk. My usual midnight stroll."
"I see. You're not afraid of the lunatic roaming the mountainside." His tone was lighter, more agreeable than it had ever been with me.
"I'll take my chances. Where are you going?"
"I'm worried about a couple of kids up there. Their father went down to the city to find work. They're alone. He called just before compline from Knoxville. Said people were talking about the new bodies, and he got worried. He thought it was safe now, you know, that with the sheriff on his trail the killer had run off."
"I thought the bodies they found had been there for quite awhile. The man probably has disappeared now."
"Most likely. Mr. Benton is worried all the same." Michael's eyes had evidently grown accustomed to the darkness. He switched off the flashlight and gazed at me in the meager light of the moon, his eyes bold, but no longer full of loathing.
"Do you plan to stay up there with them?"
He shook his head. "No. Just to walk them to a house about a half mile from theirs so they can stay with someone. The man there's a big guy with a lot of guns."
"I'll go with you."
"It's quite a trek. Up by that radio tower." He pointed to the north, maybe three miles from the spot.
"Good exercise," I said.
We wound through the thicket, tree frogs and cicadas clamoring, probably in anticipation of the coming shower. Lightning seared the sky in the direction we were heading, followed by a crack of thunder.
"Looks like we'll be soaked," Michael said, stopping to catch his breath. Guided by the flashlight's beam, we'd been steadily climbing toward a footpath.
Once we reached the path the hiking was easier, though we continued to move up the incline through heavy growth. Big drops of rain sifted through the branches, and then poured from the sky. Even under the partial shelter of the foliage, we got drenched. But Michael forged on, not the least hindered by the storm. His stride was big, his muscular arms steadily swinging. I thought he could wrestle his god if he wanted, like Jacob of the Hebrews.
It took almost an hour to reach our destination, a shack nestled in the thicket not far from the path. No lights glowed in the house. The screenless windows beneath the shaky roof of the porch were wide open.
"Watch your step," Michael said, whisking his light across gaps in the rotting planks of the porch. He hammered on the door with his fist.
The white face of a little girl appeared at the window.
"It's Brother Michael, Dora Anne," he said.
"Ginny, Brother Michael's here!" The girl disappeared from the window and the door swung open. She was 5 or 6, with a missing front tooth, limp blond hair and a pale face splattered with freckles. She hugged Michael's legs excitedly.
"Brother Michael?" A girl of 16 or 17 appeared in a T-shirt and cut-off jeans, folding her arms as though she were cold. Her short hair was tousled from sleeping. "What's the matter? Something wrong with Daddy?"
"No, no." Michael entered the cramped living room, and I followed him. "He's just worried about you. He thinks you'd be safer staying with the Jacksons."
"They ain't found another body, have they?" Ginny asked.
"I'm afraid so."
Ginny shivered and lit an oil lamp on a shelf. The pale light washed over a table with mismatched chairs, a sagging arm chair, and two mattresses on the plywood floor, where water had puddled from our shoes. "Gives me the willies. We thought that crazy man done took off. Sheriff and his men been patrolling the woods."
"Did he cut off their heads?" Dora Anne looked up earnestly at Michael. "Ralph Jackson says he did. Then he stuck little needles into their body so they looked like porcupines."
"Ralph Jackson's just trying to scare you, Dora Anne. You just don't pay him any mind." Ginny turned to me, suspicion in her eyes. "You a brother too?"
"Yes. Brother Victor."
She nodded, as though she had her doubts. We'll be just fine, Brother Michael. Ain't no need to bother the Jacksons this time a night. I got Daddy's shotgun here, and I can use it."
"How come you ain't never come up to see us before?" Dora Anne said to me.
"I'm new at the monastery." The little girl roused my appetite. Perhaps I would go down to the city to feed, I thoughtif enough time remained.
"You wanna see a snake?" Dora said to me. "I got it in a jar."
"You can show him another time." Ginny grabbed Dora Anne's arm as she started toward the back door.
"Your father wants you to go to the Jacksons," Brother Michael said to Ginny. "I think it's a good idea."
Ginny nodded. "Well, if you say so, Brother. Just hate to put 'em out. And Dora Anne ain't got nothing but flip-flops for walkin' in."
"I'll carry her," I said.
Michael looked at me with curiosity, as though I continued to surprise him by my benevolence.
"Ya-a-ay! A piggyback ride!" Dora Anne jumped up and down, clapping her hands.
We waited until the rain slackened before heading for the Jacksons. Dora Anne chattered the whole way, tugging at tree branches, squirming excitedly against my back, despite her sister's reprimands. Once we delivered them to the family at nearly 2 in the morning, we tramped back to the monastery. As I followed him, Michael, in response to my question, explained that many of the destitute mountain people chose to remain so far from civilization after the mines closed due to ignorance and fear of the cityand because of incestuous relationships they wanted to safeguard from the authorities.
"I know one girl with three babies by her father."
"Surely the sheriff must know about it?" Following Michael's lead, I stepped across a large puddle.
"He knows. But he knows how life is there. The girl wouldn't leave her father if you paid her. And if they took her by force, she'd probably kill herself."
"That's a pity."
Michael reeled around. "You don't really mean that, do you?"
"No, I don't. Do you think it's a pity?"
Michael looked hard at me, despite the darkness. He could not make out my expression, but I could discern his, a gaze of recognition of an affinity between us. "There are worse things," he said and turned away.
We made the rest of the trek in silence, I savoring our new intimacy, Michael no doubt pondering it. We spoke only to warn each other of a treacherous limb or gully. But when we reached the fringe of the forest where we could now walk side by side, he spoke again.
"Thank you for being stern with Luke. I'm sorry if I misjudged you." He kept his eyes forward.
"And what if you didn't misjudge me?"
"Then you deserve even more credit for cutting him free."
I smiled in the darkness, though he had spoken quite seriously. "Have you talked to him? Is he still desperate?"
"He'll get over it. It's just infatuation."
"You sound as though you speak from experience."
Michael stopped. We were on the monastery property now. Our sneakers were sopping wet from the marshy ground. Michael steadied himself on my arm to remove his shoes. "It's no secret that monastic life attracts homosexuals. Men get to live with men, with impunity, with praise, at least from the Catholic world. I've had my share of attractions. Thanks." His eyes turned to mine when he straightened up, and then they darted away in discomfort.
"But you are dedicated to celibacy?" The opportunity seemed ripe for pressing him.
"I'm dedicated to God."
"And what does that mean, to be dedicated to God?"
"I discover it, day to day, like everybody else.
I grabbed Michael by the arm and stopped in my tracks, turning him toward me. "Let's stop playing games now, Michael. The intensity between us is as palpable as this flesh." I squeezed his firm arms. "You accused me of seducing Luke, but I wouldn't even attempt to seduce you; I desire you far too much for that. Why are you struggling, not against me, but against yourself?"
"I thought that amused you." Michael didn't flinch.
"It's only made me hope. May I hope?"
"Do you know why I struggle? It's not against my attraction to you. It's against the evil I find in my own soul, the same evil I see reflected in your eyes. Both of us are proud, rebellious, but it's not just that. It's a coldness, like the ice trapping Satan at the bottom of Dante's infernocoldness that cuts us off from everyone."
"You've cared for Luke."
"I had a duty toward him. That's different."
"We're not sentimental types. Our hearts bother with nothing short of passion."
He continued gazing steadily into my eyes. I pulled him to me and kissed him. His full lips responded, his body pressed against mine. For a moment we merged with the loftiest mountain peak behind us, now star-crowned in the clearing skies.
"We can leave this place," I whispered in his ear as I embraced him.
He made no answer.
We kissed again in the dark entrance hall of the monastery and separated. My soul blazed for him. I longed for blood to calm myself, but dawn was too close now, and I retreated to my cell. A figure sat wrapped in shadows outside the door.
"What are you doing here, Luke?" I nudged him with my foot to awaken him.
He shook off his sleep and got to his feet. "Where did y'all go?" he said accusingly.
"Go to bed." I opened my door, and he followed me into the dark chamber.
"You was with Mike. I seen him going out to you."
He grabbed my arm. His eyes were filled with desperation.
I shook off his grip. "I said go to bed."
"No, Victor, you ain't gonna get away with this. No, sir, you traitor. Both of you. You ain't gonna do this to me. Know what I'll do?" He was nearly hysterical now, his voice trembling, his hands making fists at his sides. "I'll go to the abbot with everything. Hell, I'll confess everything about you and me. I'll tell him 'bout every time we fucked, every time you sucked my dick. You'll be outta here so fast you won't know what hit you."
I grabbed him by the shoulders. "Listen to me, boy. You'll keep your mouth shut or you'll be out of here too."
"No!" He tried to free himself from my grip. "I'll tell him now, you bastard. You think I care what happens to me?"
Despite all my resolutions, I had no choice now. As he struggled in my hands, in the darkness of my cell, I plunged my fangs into his throat. For a moment he melted into my arms, as though once again I were mounting him, and I felt his desire for me flare. But as I siphoned the warm, young blood, he collapsed, unconscious. I continued drinking until his heart, whose rhythm had moved from a frantic speed to the tempo of a solemn war drum, sounded a final beat.
Deep into the woods I carried his body, hiding it in the underbrush. I made it back to the monastery just as faint light rimmed the mountains and slipped into my tomb, as filled with dread as with the blood of my victim.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
After ordering this book based on the synopsis and the one review displayed, I was entirely disappointed to learn that I was the proud owner of a gay porn novella. (An extremely poor one at that!) In my opinion the author would be hard pressed to produce a high school diploma on demand much less the PHD in English he professes to hold. The prose was so poor that I find it difficult to justify spending any more of my time discussing it. I offer for your review a few sentences, that in my opinion represent the merits, or lack therof of this bit of muck called Vampire Vow. 'Our last night together, I was horny as a satyr and thought, To hell with it, I've been a Stoic long enough--and when he feels my xxxx inside him he'll forget his scruples. When he refused me, and cut me off, my rage knew no bounds.' My rage also knew no bounds when I realized I paid $12.95 for this!
Michael Schiefelbein writes one of the best and one of my favorite gay vampire books ever. I've read them multiple times, and continue to read them again and again, especially with the anticipated new book, "The Vampire Maker" now out! Victor is a Roman soldier who is sent to serve in Judaea. It does not live up to his luxurious Roman expectations. His temper and rage escalates to a point were he seeks an elixir from an old hag. She offers him so much more. Victor has never gotten over his only failed conquest of love Joshu, the Jesus Christ. He is the only one to refuse Victor. Even though they love one another truly and deeply. For 2,000 years Victor takes his rage against Joshu's refusal by hiding within the Christian monasteries. As always, his hunger forces him to destroy the cloister in order to hide his tracks (and the bodies) when his true nature is found out. Then, Victor moves on to the next, each adding another victory to Victor over Joshu. Now in America, the New World, Brother Luke a young boy porter falls hard for Victor, but Victor favors the resistant Brother Michael. Brother Michael has better self control against his homosexual desires, but harbors a supernatural secret of his own. Brother Luke's broken heart brings about his death, and a chance for Victor to pursue Brother Michael, when Luke's carelessness is evident to all. Will Victor be able to get through to Michael, and convince him to accept the transformation, so Victor may be able to pass on to the Dark Kingdom for all eternity, after two millennium of loneliness?
I get it, I do. There's vampires, priests, and Jesus (oh my.) Wonderful character progression and real 3-dimensional characters. It's hard not to like this book, but I manage. To be honest, it was the ending that got to me. There seemed to be all this pushing and shoving of the main character, via flashbacks and killing and plot devices. But for what? At the end, he was still the same person. And that irked me. Nothing changed even though the author piles the reader on with all this development! I felt cheated.
I'm not really that much of a reader however after reading this book made me love too! Its full of everything you could ask for in a book, just simply amazing!
Wow. My friend lead me to this book and I thank him for it. I adore the book and highly recomend it to anyone. It's not a hard read and it's very entertaining. The book leaves you wanting more!
It took me less than 2 hours to tear through this book. Yes it was too short, but nevertheless it enthralled me beyond words. The story was unique and the characters original. Purchased on a whim, its one impulse buy that was worth it.
What a great read! I have found few 'vampire' books tha have kept my attention, in fact other than Ms Rice's Vampire series I have never been 'hooked' as I was with this one. Perhaps most startling of all was the first chapter romanance with Victor and Joshu (The christian's saviour, Jesus Christ). I have read very few stories with such power; this author is one to keep an eye on- He will undoubtably be listed with worthy authors such as John Preston, to name one of many.
its a very good story
This book is moveing and well get your blood pumping. The portrail of love is very detailed and could make you cry. Victor cant seem to keep hold of the pepole he loves. No mather how hard he trys they leave him. Its a twist of a romace and vampire story. The fact hes a vampire lets him live forever and find a love who well stay with him in the vampiric world. I cryed at the end and im not a crying person. It was so sad how nomather how hard victor tried he was alone. I wanted to scream out to Victor DONT GIVE UP! His fealings were so emoshonal I could feal his pain, his joy, his madnes. It truley opened my eyes. I well never forget Victor. Its like he is real. He lives im my heart forever.
This is one of the best, most exciting novels I have ever read. Could not put it down. Thrilling!
This book was utterly divine. The english is wonderfully challenging, and the ideas are engrossing, and i couldn't put it down. I just wish it was longer, i loved it to no ends. I was really able to connect w/the character, share in his pain, drink of the night as if it were a drug that could make everything "all better". And the eternal struggle for love, felt by all...but for him, he has to face it for eternity. And loving exactly what he can't have...Now that is personally hell in my perspective. He is Damned, and i sympathize for him. Can't wait to see what else is in store from this wonderful actor.
This is a great book. It is well-written and simply delightful. Every page is exciting. This is a must-read for anyone whoever had a homosexual fantasy!
The novel's protagonist frightens and intrigues me. He is ruthless, but he longs for what everyone longs for: love and immortality. His fiendish vampire existence is a continuation of his existence as an empire builder for Caesar, but with an important difference: he has discovered Jesus and the monastic life in which Jesus is the center. Warning: this novel contains graphic depictions of sex and violence.
It's always easier to criticize than to create, so I'll keep my review brief. I ordered this book on-line and wish I hadn't. I was really disappointed with the writing. It's a great idea for a novel though--a vampire whose spiritual darkness stems from unrequited sexual love for the historical Jesus.
In his first published novel, Vampire Vow, Michael Schiefelbein has employed the conventions of gothic fiction with wit, passion, and intelligence, a combination that will render his book a crossover success because these qualities will appeal to a wide range of readers, including those (like me) who would not normally read vampire novels. Vampire fans will love the renate lore; gay readers, the homoeroticism; scholarly readers, the philosophical and theological themes. The sly Dr. Schiefelbein has managed to create (without letting his readers know it explicitly) a debate between Christ and Nietzche's Anti-Christ, the novel's protagonist and uebermensch, Victor Decimus. Without my giving away the ending, suffice it to say that Schiefelbein has left the crypt door open for a sequel, which we await like a vampire with a blood 'jones.' --Thomas L. Long, Editor, Harrington Gay Men's Fiction Quarterly
Nice easy read. Good story.