By Randall Stone
Anita Blake is a fictional character created by an extremely talented and charismatic author Laurell K. Hamilton in her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series of novels. Anita has also made an appearance in the Dabel Brothers/Marvel Comics' adaptation of Laurell’s first novel, Guilty Pleasures.
Set in a fantasy world, parallel to our own, the novels are filled with vampires, shape shifters, werewolves and faeries. Anita earns her main income as a member of the RPIT Agency, pronounced Rip it, its full name being Regional Preternatural Investigation Team. It is an organization that deals with supernatural and paranormal crimes. Any crime, in fact, that may have been perpetrated by dark magic or supernatural entities. Working within the agency as an “animator,” Anita uses her extraordinary talents of Necromancy in reanimating the dead temporarily, to legally question them during her office as a licensed investigator. This also incorporates her duties as an authorized Vampire Hunter/Executioner with her eventual empowerment as a Federal Marshal. All this takes place in the parallel city of St. Louis. Anita's amazing powers also give her control over the Undead, as in vampires and zombies, but she has no power over ghosts or ghouls. According to Laurell’s idea, in the world of Anita Blake, the Four Marks are four favors bestowed upon the faithful, human servants of a Master Vampire and as such, can only be empowered by a Master.
The eyes, ears, hands and voice of the vampire during the hours of daylight, humans see being presented with the Four Marks as a rare and honored privilege. There is also everything for the human to gain by these marks in the shape of supernatural strength, speed, great wisdom and longevity of natural life. So special is this bond between vampire and servant that the Master Vampire can only have one bond at any given time. For a new bond to be taken out, the present servant must first die. Just going off at a slight tangent here, I suspect that Laurell may have hit upon this idea when studying the customs of Ancient Rome. It was common for a long, serving slave to be given his freedom eventually and becoming what the Roman’s termed a “freed man.” Although the man was now free to do as he pleased as a Roman Subject, he often stayed on in the service of his master/mistress until the day one of them died. It was a very special and strong bond between a master/mistress and his/her servant. On the other hand, Bram Stoker states quite clearly in his famous novel, Dracula, that the vampire has a power over the ones he creates and over prospective or half attacked victims. Once this vampire is destroyed, that bond is broken. The would be or half attacked victims recover, the turned die along with the vampire.
As in Stoker’s ideas, Laurell too states that although the vampire is usually present during the bestowing of these marks upon a human, it is not necessary for this to be so. And, although this relationship is usually an agreed upon and consented to arrangement, the vampire can achieve it by force of will on an reluctant partner. Although the vampire gains very little from this relationship, other than having eyes and ears etc. during their more vulnerable times, the human gains resistance to most poisons, is able to heal quicker from wounds, and becomes immune to the voice, commands and glance of the vampire that marked them.
Despite all these added talents however, unless the human is trained to use them effectively, a skilled, average human can beat them. When a human has all four marks, they age almost as slowly as the vampires do. Once the marks are received, they cannot be voluntarily removed and they fully bind the human to the vampire who gave them. Because of this, the Master Vampire does not give them lightly. While a human is in the midst of receiving these marks, other Master Vampires may bestow their own marks upon the same human but once the final mark is given, then the vampire who gave it is in complete control as the final mark eradicates and supersedes all the others.
The First Mark: This is a transference of the pranic life force of the vampire’s upon the human subject. Normally done in the physical presence of the vampire, it does not necessarily have to be so. Human’s who have experienced this have often said, “it is like falling into the eyes of the vampire”. This transference leaves no physical marks upon the servant.
The Second Mark: Flaming Eyes. The human sees, approaching them, twin spots of light, the exact same colour of the vampire’s eyes except in flame. These lights overlap their eyes and for a brief moment, the human looks at the world in shades of fire. Any witnesses to this act will see the human’s eyes glow the flame’s shade. Again, like the First Mark, the vampire does not have to be physically present in order to endow the human with this.
The Third Mark: This is a mark in which the vampire does need to be physically present, for it is the act of taking blood from the human in order that memories and insights may be shared by both parties.
The Fourth Mark: Here, the human partakes in the blood of the vampire while the vampire intones words similar to, “Blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh, two minds, one body, two souls joined as one.” Each vampire may have a slightly different variation on this verse but the meaning remains essentially the same. The two now become one, empathically linked.
In conclusion then, the results of the marks upon the humans are as follows:
- With each mark the human becomes stronger, faster and more resistant to poisons and physical harm. They become resistant to the mind tricks, mesmerism and voice commands of the vampire that created them and also all other vampires. They also have a higher threshold of physical pain.
- On the Second Mark, the vampire can be sustained by the human by feeding from his/her pranic life force, even when kept from feeding on blood. By siphoning off this energy, the vampire can maintain a healthy and sane demeanour and can also enter the dreams of the servant to communicate. Though they can no longer bewitch or trick their servants using their eyes or voice, it is still possible for a highly accomplished and disciplined vampire to apply mind tricks.
- The Third Mark enables both vampire and human a more direct way of telepathic communication between the two. It is also possible for the vampire to communicate with the human when the human is conscious and there is the added advantage of shared emotions and memories. . .empathy.
- With the Fourth and Final Mark, the link between the two is complete. The life forces of both individuals are fully bound now and the human, although retaining all human and mortal traits, becomes immune to the aging process. Injury to either one will have a severe and detrimental effect on the other. However, the human is still able to wear and touch blessed and holy symbols and to enter sacred and consecrated premises such as churches etc. According Jean Claude, the human soul is not compromised by the transference of these marks but Anita is not so sure. Although the death of one usually leads to death of the other, a strong, Master Vampire can survive the death of the servant but it will however, leave then greatly weakened. A servant may also survive the death of the master but this will often result in insanity. The longer the relationship has gone on between the two, the more likely these outcomes have of occurring.
These then are the Four Marks as far as I know them. I hope Saoirse it has been of some help to you and to everyone else, I hope it has been informative. Of course, as much as I would love to take credit for it all the praise and recognition must go to Laurell K. Hamilton for the fantastic world she has created. It is also a perfect example of how the vampire continues to adapt and evolve.
Thank you, Randall, for guest blogging with us today and in future posts.