Knowing Can Be the Battle



“I’d love to know what he was thinking.” 

We’ve all made that statement, although, after exploring the idea of a “mind-reader”, I’m not entirely sure that I’d actually want to be one. However, they can be fun to read and write about; Sage, the Knower in my series, is one of my favorite characters to write. (That might be because I’ve always been a bit nosy and love listening in to other people!)


Explanation:

Knower – A vampire who can hear others’ thoughts and manipulate their memories. Most of the time this requires eye-contact or physical touch, but the thoughts of those with whom a Knower becomes close can often be heard anywhere with in a relatively short distance (up to a half mile). Knowing is considered a gift granted by the Creator because of the importance of this power to a coven. Knowers are usually males and are marked with two scar-like lines in their brows. The gift, which develops shortly after they mature into adult vampires, is not necessarily hereditary, but can be.


Sage Matthew

Born: in Ireland, 1732, youngest of three brothers, (a fourth child, a female, was born after his estrangement)


Physical characteristics: tallest of the males, lean, dirty blond hair, grey-blue eyes, thick darker brows marked with two scar-like lines with denote him as a Knower


Of note: Sage is the coven’s only Knower, and therefore a valuable asset to the Rectinatti and a target to the Vengatti. His gift gives him a stronger connection to Alex, the Seer, so that he can hear her thoughts and she can sense his emotions at much greater distances than usual. He has lived with the Regans (Ardellus and then Darian) since shortly after his maturity.


Just for fun: Sage is fond of calling others by nicknames: Rock-o (Rocky), Twerp (Alex), D (Darian), but wasn’t big on Alex calling him Vanilla, after the one-hit wonder he resembles due to his brows. He now has a steady feeding partner, but has a sketchy history where feeding is concerned which is explained a bit in Unbridled (my newest project, still in editing stages).


Writing Reasons:

Many vampire stories include characters who can hear thoughts or manipulate memories. In some, all vampires have this power. Since the world in my series is based on balance, I knew any vampire who had the power to hear other’s thoughts or manipulate their memories when they wanted to would also have the burden of hearing them when they didn’t. There was no way, therefore, that all vampires could have this power, so I made it a gift, like that of a Seer, that was rare, coveted, and also taxing. Sage’s surly personality and Alex’s often brash reactions are partly defense mechanisms for dealing with their power. It makes scenes with the two of them quite entertaining.


Excerpt from Unveiled…sort of: My love of backstory is not shared with my publishers who have to deal with practical things like production costs and word counts. Go figure, right? So two scenes with Sage’s backstory had to be cut in the final round of revisions. Being able to share them here makes that a little less painful, so I’m posting one today and saving the second for later in the month. Enjoy!


Cut scene:

The heavy metal plates clanged together as Sage loaded more weight onto the bar. It had been decades since he had worked out regularly, but recently he had been retreating to the barn rather than hang around the house. He was taking a page out of Alex’s twisted playbook, trying to exercise to clear his mind, mostly of her thoughts. They had been jumbled and irritatingly unclear before he figured out what she had been doing to herself—but in the three days since he caught her and was projected into a wall for his efforts, it had only become worse. Though she had needed to be stopped, he wasn’t sure he had done himself any favors. 

Her thoughts were no longer unclear, but the rate at which they raced through her head, and therefore his, was like a rapidly breeding infestation. Her essence was recovering quickly, which meant her sense was intense. Though she wasn’t at all interested by it, she couldn’t help but register what everyone else in the house was feeling. Hearing this was invasive to the others, but it was also rather impressive. Even without trying, Alex was reading the nuances of her housemates’ emotions with such clarity and accuracy it was almost as if she were in their heads the way he was. In fact, he was the only one whose emotions she was misreading. He wasn’t entirely sure why, but guessed the reason might have had more to do with his ability to manipulate his moods when he knew she was sensing him rather than any fault of Alex’s.

But the thoughts that had Sage seeking distractions had nothing to do with him or the others. Alex’s thoughts about herself were what led him to flee. Alex’s assessment of herself as dangerous or conscienceless was baseless. The powerful tug of her conscience, her goodness, was evident to everyone but her. No member of the Vengatti, no monster, would waste a tenth of a second agonizing over hurting an innocent victim, never mind a maniacal son of a bitch like Leonce. Her thoughts were ridiculous, her actions unwarranted. Her fear of whom she had become and her inability to face the truth about her gift was bordering on cowardly. Sage knew this with certainty. Not because he was in her head. But because he had lived it.


At first he had thought he would just go insane. The first night he awoke after his gift matured to find his head flooded with the thoughts of four others, his mother, father, and two brothers, he had cried. He was nineteen and had been a fully matured vampire for five months. He remembered his brothers shaking their heads at his shame. His father had slapped him. Matured males didn’t cry. He was sent out of the house until he could control himself. It turned out to be the kindest thing his old man had ever done for him. In the solitude of the woods behind their home, Sage had found a sanctuary. For days he left the house before sunset and returned after sunrise. He couldn’t hear his family’s thoughts when they were asleep, nor did he have to see their reproachful looks.

It wasn’t long, though, before his thirst drove him home early. Being young, and undergoing the trauma the maturity of his gift caused his body, left him needing essence. He hadn’t been matched with a feeding partner from the surrounding farms or village where other vampires of their coven resided. His mother had told him his father had been too busy with the spring planting to make any arrangement. Sage knew from hearing it in his parents’ heads that his father had inquired and been turned down. No father wanted his daughter sharing essence with the odd ‘marked male.’ It left him no choice but to rely on his mother. 

So he crept back into the house after his father and brothers had left to tend the flock and fields. He approached his mother as he had done for months since his maturation. He heard in her head she was glad to see him home and well, and was therefore shocked by her response.

“I can’t, Sage, not for awhile.” She turned from his shocked expression to tend the fire.

“But why?”

“I’m pregnant again,” she said turning back to him with a weak smile. “You’ll finally have your chance to be a big brother.” Or half-brother.

He heard the thought and fumbled the peat he had picked up to add to the flames. It dropped to the dirt floor with a hollow thud.

“It’s not father’s? You’ve been unfaithful?” He hadn’t meant to say it aloud. And he certainly didn’t mean for his father and oldest brother to hear. But they had returned from the fields and heard the accusation against his mother.

He wasn’t even sure which of them dragged him from the house, but before he could even flinch, he found himself on the ground being beaten by them both. Just as suddenly the blows stopped, and his father pulled him to his feet. Sage felt the blood and tears on his swollen face.

“Why would you say that?” He heard his father’s angry curses, but also his doubt about his mate. 

“I’m sorry,” Sage said as a means of comfort, but his father accepted it as an admission of guilt.

“You’d ruin her, ruin me, and this family, your unborn sibling, to draw attention away from your own shame at being unable to control your gift? You’re a coward, a liar, and a freak,” his father spat at him. “And no son of mine. Get gone and don’t come back.”

With a final blow he was knocked to the dirt. The door to his family home was slammed shut in his face. He was left outside, alone, and wondering just how much of what his father said was true. 

He wasn’t a liar but had shown little control over his knowledge of the truth. And he hadn’t been brave enough to face his power, or even fight back against his father, which perhaps meant he was a coward. He had known what he would become, what he was, as soon as he was tall enough to see into the mirror above his mother’s dresser and ask about the lines that marked his brow, lines his mother told him marked him as special. His father wasn’t the first male to whom the female had lied. He was not special; he was a freak. 


At that moment Sage had hated the Creator as much as he hated himself. He could feel no devotion to a higher power who cursed him as a Knower and then had the audacity to call it a gift.

With a grunt Sage dropped the bar into the rack above his head. His chest burned and his arms shook from the exertion. But he ground his teeth out of anger and disgust, aimed, not at Alex, as she mistakenly believed, but at himself. He liked himself now only slightly more than the night he left his parent’s house for the last time.

Because Sage understood what Alex was finally allowing herself to deal with and knew sharing his story with her could help. There was comfort in knowing someone else had walked in your shoes. Comfort he was able but unwilling to provide. He had not only survived, but at times even learned to enjoy his power. He was unwilling, though, to admit to, never mind retrace, the footsteps that began with such shame and horror. It was bad enough just reliving them through Alex’s thoughts.

When Sage first met Darian and Markus in the woods that night, he left behind the scared, abashed boy and stepped into the boots of a cocky, confident warrior. His gift had saved them. He was no longer a problem, a burden. He was an asset.

Alex would get there, too, but it wasn’t his job to see to that. After all, she had a mate. Let Markus be her savior. Sage was content, for now, to stay on the sidelines. He grimaced. In other words, he thought, he was content for now to be an ass.


Today’s question:

Whose thoughts would you most like to probe? Pets are totally legitimate answers here!


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