Ideas Gleaned From The Mind of Conrad Quintano
1. When you live forever you’re bound to make a few mistakes. It goes with the territory, especially if you’re still partly human. To err is human—isn’t that how the saying goes? It doesn’t matter how old or how careful or how intelligent you are. Every now and again there’s going to be something you fail to take into account. It’s inevitable. There’s really very little in this world more prone to miscalculation than the human heart…or even the mostly human heart.
2. Vampires are nothing if not adaptable. It’s a survival skill; as crucial as fangs. Either you learn early on to blend in, to fold seamlessly into the mise-en-scene, to successfully “pass” as mortal, or angry mobs armed with torches and wooden stakes are likely to figure prominently in your sure-to-be-short-lived future. Conrad Quintano knew this as well as anyone could. Over a thousand years as one of the blood-drinking undead had taught him that nothing was so constant as change.
Still, some changes were indisputably harder to adapt to than others…
3. You can choose your food, but not your family. It’s a fact of life that mostly holds true for vampires and humans alike. There are always exceptions, of course. Rare instances where you get to decide with whom you will ally yourself. Less rare occasions when you find your dietary choices have been reduced to “this or nothing”.
But, for the most part, who you are is a given, a fait accompli. Who you eat, on the other hand, that’s largely up to you…
4. Regret is a common human emotion, one that afflicts almost everyone from time to time. And periodic bouts of introspection, especially in the winter months when the old year wanes and the days grow short, is a common human pastime.
Vampires would do well to avoid them both. When one’s existence is shaped and colored by loss, such things are foolish expenditures of one’s time and energy. Prolonged introspection is a trap that can lead one into despair. While regret is a vain and frivolous indulgence, a luxury no one who might possibly live forever can afford.
5. There is a very simple reason for all the myths and misconceptions regarding vampires, one simple truth beneath the falsehoods and the fears. The truth and the reason is this: there is nothing simple about vampires. They are amazingly complex creatures, an amalgam of man and mystery first spawned on some dark, forgotten dawn in some dim, forsaken corner of the globe.
Every vampire carries the mark of both parents within its cells—or upon its soul, if you believe in such things. Each is stamped in the image of the man or woman it once was and infused with the essence of that creature who sired it.
It is fashionable these days, among humans, to say that when you take someone to bed, you are bedding not just that one person—or the two, or three, or however many your personal taste dictates—but everyone they have ever bedded as well. Vampires have always known this to be so.
6. Humans talk about love as though it’s the only thing that matters. Vampires know better. Love is a strong root. It runs deep. It resists frost and drought and is capable of surviving decades, sometimes centuries, of neglect or abuse. Yet after all of that, if given just the smallest bit of encouragement, love is always willing to send up another green shoot of hope.
Love is tough. It endures. That’s part of its beauty, what makes it so important. Trust, on the other hand—that fragile flower with its sweet perfume—is a far less hardy specimen and much more difficult to cultivate.
Once damaged, in even the slightest degree, it can be very difficult to coax trust back to full health. It’s susceptible to cold. It’s easily stunted. It’s prone to an early death. All of which would be bad enough on its own, of course, because without trust the world is made a bleaker and more colorless place. But it’s seldom the damage stops there.
A lack of trust is one of the few things capable of blighting even the deepest love. It can turn love bitter, can twist it into something evil, ugly, obsessive. It’s an insidious change, one that often appears to strike without warning. In many cases, you realize what has happened only after the fact, when you wake up one evening to discover you’ve somehow unintentionally destroyed everything you once held dear.
7. If there was anything Conrad Quintano excelled at—aside from sword play, of course, and the acquiring of new languages—it was hiding in plain sight. Given his nearly twelve hundred years of practice, how could that not be the case? Misdirection was second nature to him at this point, discretion as effortless as breathing.
But everyone makes mistakes, every now and again; and the likelihood of it happening only increases when one is hungry, or tired. Or lonely. And Conrad was very much alone.