By LD Towers
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
What starts as a simple trip on the Eurostar to the buried trenches of World War One in Northern France is going to take Imperial War Museum expert Dr. Alexandra Horne on a journey she could never have conceived. From the bustling streets of Paris to the azure waters of Collioure and the very Vatican itself, Lexa will discover the Raveners and those who have sworn to hunt them down.
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“I wondered about that.” Another voice behind her.
Lexa turned and coloured, realising that in her wonder she had completely ignored the stranger in the room. “Oh! I am Sorry! Dr. Lexa Horne of the Imperial War Museum.” She held her hand out.
“Dr. Jack Bennett. Pleased to meet you.” Bennett was a large, fit man in his mid fifties with close-cropped, iron grey hair and a face lined from years digging in the sun. He had a bit of the George Clooney about him and Lexa was sure that all the archeology undergrads wanted him as a prof. He was a trifle swoon worthy. “Call me Jack. It was great that you could come out here at such short notice. We will be wrapping all this up in the next week or two.”
“The pleasure is entirely all mine,” Lexa told him in all earnestness. “This is simply unbelievable. This is like walking into heaven for me.” Ok. A small lie. Dead men and unexploded ordinance aside, it was heaven.
Bennett gestured back with his head and stepped aside. “I doubt the major there would agree.”
Lexa gasped as she saw the body at the desk. He was perfectly mummified, just as Darby had told her. He was hunched over, as if sleeping, and his golden hair gleamed in the light. His skin was the colour and texture of tanned leather, and his lips under a large moustache had pulled back to show his teeth. His head lay on on crossed arms, sunken eyes closed in eternal repose. The fingers were slightly curled; a large ring on one hand and a wedding ring on another. His light blue uniform hung on what was left of his frame, but was in decent condition through the shoulders. In fact, there were no real decomposition of the fabric. His side arm rested on the chair, the belt having slid down with time. The silver bullion on his uniform had a dull tarnish and the aiguillettes on his shoulder seemed suspended as if by magic. Beside him, his uniform cap was on the desk.
“Oh dear God!” Lexa exclaimed. “You’ve just left him there? How could you do that?”
“The question is how to get him out of the trapdoor without disturbing him. We have another specialist coming in from Germany. He is one of theirs, after all,” Bennett shrugged. “And you know the Germans. They are trying to find the right person. I would move him, but he is perfectly preserved. Outside of this environment, I expect he would not last long. It seems a shame to compromise his remains unnecessarily.”
The body rooted Lexa to the spot. She felt a terrible weight on her chest. “I’ve never seen a dead body before.”
Darby walked over and put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s ok. He can’t hurt you.”
“It also feels a bit indecent to be looking at him.” But she found she couldn’t tear her eyes away.
“We treat all remains with the greatest respect,” Bennett said quietly. “As you know, there is a lot we can learn from him. He is so perfectly preserved. When we have learned from him, we can return him to his family, if they still exist. He can be reburied with honour. He was lost and we found him. There is nothing indecent about that.”
“I just feel so strange with him there. I feel like a thief in his home.”
“The first time you see remains is always the hardest,” Darby told her. “Just remember that he is gone. What made him a person is gone. He is in a better place.”
Lexa nodded and walked closer to the desk. Her mouth was rather dry but now curiosity was getting the better of her. They were right. She was just being a ninny. Yes. This man was dead and he couldn’t hurt her. “Yes. I suppose you are right.”
Bennett quirked up a little smile. “Just don’t touch him.”
It was the moustache. The moustache was so familiar. Even in death, it had that upwards curl which was so familiar. A vain bushiness. When she had seen it in pictures, it always made her smile. “I think I know who this is!” Lexa exclaimed and reached into her bag for her iPad.
Primarily working in Historical and Military Fiction, LD sometimes sneaks in the odd Dystopian or Modern Thriller piece. In fact, her new book is a complete redo on the vampire concept. Look for The Raveners; coming September 20, 2016.
Werewolf slash selling so much on Amazon about two years ago. Originally it was supposed to be a piece of erotica to cash in on the exploding market. I kid you not. A friend of my sister’s was making a surprising amount of money and I thought- perhaps I can hop on that train. The problem is? That’s not my train. While there are 1.5 steamy scenes in The Raveners, I don’t really like writing erotica. Or at least- pages and pages of it.
I also began to develop my world. I read Dracula when I was about 11 and I loved it. The whole idea of blood-sucking immortality really hits me in all the right places. Sadly, I find a lot of the recent versions of vampires are a little… toothless. I wanted to bring them back to the original idea in a world where the power of God and the Earth are a little more front and center.
The Raveners were a band of Crusaders and their followers who were ordered to retrieve an artifact of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the Pope. Instead of taking it back to Rome, they decided to keep it for themselves and carve out their own kingdom in Judea. The Jews— angry that their artifact is being used against them— and the Church —angry that the knights defied their orders and kept the artifact— band together to call on the power of God to curse these renegades. They are forced to eat the flesh of the living; both a Christian and Jewish punishment as this makes one unclean. But Jewish curses and warnings are very interesting. In Jewish culture, one should have time to remember one’s sin so The Raveners are given immortality to never be able to escape their crimes. Always unclean and unable to die.
In the end, I did a lot of research for this book into curses and spiritualism. I tried to accurately portray the cultures involved and I also tried to express my own feelings on the matter of the Almighty. Don’t worry. It’s not a religious book. :) But one can’t start writing about mysticism without having a few ideas they want to pass along. It’s such an interesting topic to me. There are a lot of threads in The Raveners which I hope to pick up as the series progresses. The book is just a speck in the middle of the story, but there are coming stories which will be set both before and after this one.
When I think back on it being a piece of erotica now, it gives me a bit of a chuckle. It’s become so much more to me than that. Soon, I hope it will be a fandom of its own! In my perfect little dream world.