The Man From Rome
by Dylan James Quarles
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rome is a city like no other, protected by a man like no other.
He is the unnamed Immortal, the Man from Rome, and he is under attack.
An agent of his secret order has been murdered, her tongue ripped out, her throat coated in molten silver. The killing is meant to be a message, a warning that old enemies have resurfaced to punish the Man for the sins of his past.
Forced to retaliate, the Man sets in motion a sequence of events which pit an American thief, a Roman policewoman, a heartless mercenary, and a fallen Olympian against one another in all-out war. The streets of Rome become a battleground where the supernatural clash with the mortal, and the Eternal City bears witness to yet another chapter in its storied history of violence.
Vengeance reigns supreme in this, the newest Novel from Dylan James Quarles.
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Lofty and grand, the room snapped into focus. On a chair near the door, Cato’s shoulder bag lay where he’d dropped it the night before. Poking out from the open zipper, an unaddressed envelope caught his eye.
Cato felt a jolt as his memory returned. All at once, he knew not only where he was, but why, and with whom. He sat motionless in the bed, unsure what to do with himself.
‘Start with the basics,’ Corallina had taught him. ‘And work your way out from there.’
Slipping from between the sheets, Cato padded to the bedroom door. Just as he’d left it the day before, it was still firmly locked. He was safe—for now. Going to the window, he pulled open the curtains and stared out. The city of Rome was a sleeping giant, wrapped in dreams of faded glory. His eyes strayed back to his shoulder bag, and he thought of the cell phone he’d stolen yesterday at Termini station. Retrieving it, he sat on the corner of the bed and dialed.
“Hello?” Came a voice after the ninth ring.
“Corallina?” Said Cato. “It’s me.”
In the background a radio shut off and Cato could hear Corallina shift the phone to her other ear.
“Well there you are. I’ve been wondering when I’d hear from you. How is everything—are you holding up alright?”
Cato stared at the ceiling, the cadence of his adopted mother’s voice stirring in him a swell of melancholy.
“Everything is pretty messed up,” he spoke at last. “But I guess I’m okay.”
“Good man,” she said. “What’s happening? Is he there with you now?”
“No. I’m alone, it’s like—”
He held the phone out to check the time.
“It’s 4AM here.”
Corallina laughed softly.
“No rest for the wicked, eh?”
“I guess not.”
“So where are you now?”
“I’m staying in a house,” said Cato. “A big house.”
“Yeah—why, is that weird?”
“Not necessarily,” murmured Corallina. “It’s just that—we Orphanus usually stay in a little apartment near the river whenever we come to visit. You must be special, my boy. I told you so.”
“Tell me though,” Corallina went on. “Are there any large—very, very large paintings where you are?”
“Yeah,” said Cato. “There’re these four naked guys—”
“Boreas, Notus, Zephrus, and Eurus,” interjected Corallina with excitement. “My, my, Cato, do you know where you are right now?”
“You’re in his house—his home! How’s that for special!”
Cato felt a cool shiver run down his spine. Growing up, he had heard many things about this house, many strange tales. According to Corallina, it was built upon an intersection of ley lines and constellations—a veritable crossroads of supernatural energy.
Swallowing, Cato cleared his throat. He had been so overwhelmed upon his arrival that he hadn’t put two and two together yet. This was that house.
“So—” he whispered. “You’ve been here too then?”
On the other end of the line, Corallina was slow to answer.
“I was there once, just briefly. It was a long time ago—a long, long time.
“You never told me that story.”
“Maybe someday I will. But—not today. Today is about you and your life, not mine. Now go on, let me hear it. What do you think of our Benefactor? He’s magnificent isn’t he?”
“He’s…” Cato wavered. “He’s real, Corallina. He’s not a joke.”
“I told you so.”
“You told me a lot of bullshit and fairy tales, you never told me any of it was actually fucking real.”
“Do you remember when you were maybe ten or eleven? You used to beg me to tell you stories about the Benefactor--beg me. Of course by that point you’d already heard all of mine so you would ask me to make up new ones. Do you remember that?”
“A little,” Cato smiled. “Yeah.”
“And I would always tell you that it was not my job to make up new stories about the Man from Rome, it was yours.”
Cato’s smile faded. He saw where this was going and he didn’t like it.
“Well,” Corallina said inevitably. “Look at you now, Cato. You’re in Rome with the Benefactor. You’re inside a story. In fact, you’re telling it as we speak. It seems like you finally got your wish.”
Wilting, Cato cradled the phone to his ear.
“Mom,” he spoke after a beat. “I’m afraid. I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Again, Corallina was slow to answer. Hoping for one of her little instructions—one of her perfectly applicable pieces of wisdom, Cato waited.
“I know you’re afraid,” she said at length. “Your whole world is changing and that’s scary. But sometimes we need to be afraid, Cato. Fear is good, it keeps us careful.”
Cato shut his eyes and let Corallina’s words work their magic.
“Besides,” she continued. “Without fear there can be no bravery, and without bravery, there can be no heroes. And when there is no hero, my boy, there is no story.”
Opening his eyes, Cato took a deep breath and gazed at the bedroom door.
“It’s all real, isn’t it,” he stated. “Everything you told me. It’s all real.”
“And now I’m in it.”
“Yes you are, but to be fair, you’ve been in it your whole life.”
Cato bit his lip and nodded.
“So what now?” He asked.
Corallina chuckled once more—a warm, comforting sound.
“This is your story, Cato, I can’t tell you what to do with it. But if I were you, I think I would start by figuring out just exactly what kind of a story it is that you’re in.”
With a passion for films, music and writing, Dylan even had the honor of being featured in the Port Townsend Film Festival for his short film "La Niut Des Vampires".
After high school, he attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia where he directed two more films, "Resurrected", and "House On The Borderland".
Graduating a year early with a BA in film, he moved to South Korea and taught English in an after school academy. Deeply impacted by the experience, he returned to the States a much different person than when he left.
Shortly there after, work began on The Ruins Of Mars Trilogy and the next chapter of Dylan's life opened wide.
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A: I’m a huge fan of bad movies. Everything from cheesy 80’s scifi and horror, to more modern travesties like Birdemic—I love it all. Don’t get me wrong, I like good movies too, but I don’t call those, ‘movies’. I call them, films.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
A: That’s a tough one. My wife and I travel a lot, so the bar for interesting keeps getting raised with each trip. I suppose Angkor Wat in Cambodia will always stand out in my memory. Something about the heat, that intense jungle swelter—it wears away all your defenses, leaves you raw. We spent days exploring the ruins, climbing on top of them, walking through overgrown, semi collapsed corridors. It was like being awake in a dream, surreal.
Where were you born/grew up at?
A: I grew up in a small town on the Olympic Peninsula called Port Townsend. It’s a very picturesque place with beaches, Victorian mansions, and a bunch of old military bunkers scattered throughout the costal forests. The community is very free and accepting, the perfect place for a fledgling artist to spread his wings.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
A: I imagine the answer to this question changes with time and circumstance. Right now, I would want to spend my last day in Rome, exploring like I always do. Nothing sounds better. Maybe someday my answer will be different, but not today.
Who is your hero and why?
A: My wife. She’s a teacher. Enough said.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
A: The kind that gets Ceasar’d by all his so-called friends. Et tu Brute? Next question.
What are you passionate about these days?
A: These days I’m very passionate about…writing. Shocker! Seriously though, it amazes me how deep the well runs. Every time I think I’ve bottomed out, I find I have this secret reserve of passion waiting to take me further. I’ve grown so much as a person since beginning writing, and that growth has been echoed in the content of my novels.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
A: As I mentioned above, I do a fair amount of traveling. Nothing rejuvenates me more than stepping out of my ordinary life, and into a world of new experiences. Each trip I take, there’s this moment where I realize all that the fatigue I felt back at home wasn’t actually a sign of being tired. It was a sign of being bored. For me, travel is like a wake up call; it reminds me that I’m alive, that the whole world is alive—its an incredible feeling.
How to find time to write as a parent?
A: Easy. I don’t have kids yet ;)
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
A: Veni, vidi, amavi.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A: I began to consider myself a writer when my second novel came out. I was working on a trilogy at the time, and right after the second book dropped I realized I wasn’t going to be able to stop. Not just that I’d finish the trilogy, but that I’d keep going after that. Keep going, and going, and going. That’s when I knew I was serious, and deserved to call myself a writer.
Do you have a favorite movie?
A: I have a hundred favorite movies. I won’t bore you with a list of titles, but I will tell you, if you haven’t done so already, watch every film made by Stanley Kubrick.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
A: Honestly, all of them. I studied film in college, and helmed two decently sized productions. I write books, because I can’t direct films. At least, that’s how it started. Every sentence I put to paper is constructed with the aim of building a scene for the reader. I want my novels to project themselves against the reader’s imagination, playing like a film in their mind.
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