“No, I don’t think you understand,” Bert sighed. “If we have been insulted, nothing will stop us avenging that wrong. We can wait for centuries before taking our vengeance. There is nothing we love more.”
“Well, there is perhaps one thing” Florence interrupted suddenly.
“Ah yes,” said Bert, understanding exactly what she meant. “If there is one thing vampires love more than vengeance, it is their families. They are our one constant throughout the eons. We would run through Hell itself if it meant helping our own kin. I expect you weren’t aware of that, were you? No doubt you’ve just been told that we’re unfeeling, uncaring monsters.”- Excerpt from The Breathing Ghosts, copyright Eleanor Keane 2013.
Apologies for the rather late COTM post, fang friends- I’ve been working like a demon (pun intended) on my collection of short stories, The Ghosts’ Feast, which will focus on some of the minor characters of The Breathing Ghosts- their lives, loves and larger than death personalities. It will be finished and published soon, I promise! In the meantime, here is June’s-belated!- Character of the Month: Bert Wintergrave.
The vampire Bert Wintergrave is the closest thing The Breathing Ghosts (TBG) has to a player. He lives his life to the limit, spending frivolously, dressing expensively and drinking ludicrously. He is also something of a ladies’ man. (Or at least, he thinks he is!) He is a little foppish, vain about his good looks and blonde hair, arrogant and always ready with a cutting jibe- especially about his sister, Florence, whom he is habitually annoyed by but secretly loves.
This bravado isn’t entirely without a reason. Bert, along with his sister, are Borns. The term is used in TBG to denote vampire progeny- vampires born to vampire parents, and therefore able to produce little vampire sproglets of their own. As a result, they are crueller, stronger, swifter and more powerful than their ‘Turned’ counterparts- i.e. mortals who have been transformed into vampires. Still following? Fangtastic!
Bert, like most Borns, is as a result conceited over his inherited so-called ‘superiority’. His outrageously spoilt behaviour is at the heart of many of TBG’s more humorous moments, particularly when paired with his partner in crime, Theo. (I truly believe that together Bert and Theo form the world’s first vampire ‘bromance’, but feel free to disagree if you find any other worthy examples.)
However, beneath the swagger and the humour, beneath the bright blonde hair and the dapper handsomeness, lies a tendency for cruelty and even obsessiveness that could ultimately be Bert’s downfall. As a family, the Wintergraves are proud, aristocratic, vicious and unforgiving, right down to their motto: Wintergraves do not forgive.They stand strong as a family unit, with Bert in the centre as their pampered prince, yet their loyalty hides a wealth of flaws.
Pain, grief loss and an obsession for vengeance all stem from the murder of Estella Wintergrave- Bert’s grandmother- who was killed by a vampire hunter decades before. The lust for vengeance has been passed down through the family line, right to Bert himself. Bert’s path seems clear: avenge Estella’s death by killing a vampire hunter in return. When Rowan Oakwood- that same hunter’s last living descendant- makes her presence known, however, the cracks in Bert’s carefully polished and cultivated veneer begin to show. In true blood-spilling bone-breaking Wintergrave style, he sets out on a quest for murderous vengeance. Yet he is painfully unaware that there is more to his grandmother’s death than first meets the eye, and more to Rowan Oakwood than he bargained for.
Will this footloose and fancy free party boy succumb to his baser instincts, and seek revenge- even though it may be wrong? Or will his higher nature prevail- if he even has one?
Bert Wintergrave may be about to realize that a ready wit can only take you so far…before people stop laughing.
Image is from Svadilfari on Flickr.com, Creative Commons licensed for commercial reproduction. (Apparently, it is an antique photograph taken in 1920 by W. Preede of Riga, Latvia, whose signature is on the back.) It is originally available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22280677@N07/4158482035/)