- Born Livia Aurelia Magnus, in northern Gaul, in 55 BC
- Daughter of a Roman Centurion and a landowner
Livia’s mother was consistently ill while she was growing up, and her father almost always away on military campaigns under the command of first Crassus, then Julius Caesar. She was therefore responsible for the running of the land, and for making decisions regarding the welfare and disputes of the peasants and farmers occupying their land. The responsibilities were many and continuous, and as so many men were away at war, she never married.
She was known for being incredibly strict with lazy or insubordinate servants, and used corporal punishment without a second thought. However, in several instances she intervened on behalf of destitute women, including a woman whose husband was executed by the state, and a woman whose daughter was raped and impregnated.
Livia was educated by Greek tutors, and could read and write in four languages. She was interested in science, astronomy and agriculture.
In the summer of her 31st year, she was notified that a carriage of female nobles were passing through the area. She made ready the estate for their arrival. The four women arrived in the night, brilliantly dressed. The Strangers, though clearly wealthy, never supplied their names. They were shown their rooms and brought food and wine. The following night, Livia visited the eldest of the Strangers in her chambers to see that they were pleased with the accommodations. The woman asked her to sit and talk with her. They sat for many hours and conversed about philosophy, astronomy and statecraft. The evening stretched on and seemed, pleasantly, to last an eternity. Just before dawn, Livia felt light-headed, as though she were going to pass out. It was in this moment that the Stranger “sired” her. When she awoke at dusk the following evening, the Strangers were gone, and Livia knew everything would be different.
The following events happened swiftly, almost instinctively, for Livia: She waited for her father’s return home; then murdered both her parents, most of the slaves, and sold the land and cattle. The few young female slaves she spared, she kept in her service as she travelled to Rome.
She conducted much of her business in men’s dress, but revealed her womanly aspect when, after amassing great wealth, she approached the realm of the Caesars. Livia was never a woman of great sensual desire while she breathed, or thereafter, for she had never found a man worth the true effort, but she developed the ability to seduce and manipulate the stoniest of all men. Her chief interest was profit, strategy and the science of winning.
For hundreds of years, Livia bought and sold property, while setting up international trade systems, and moving precious commodities through the Roman Empire. When the Empire dwindled, Livia moved further north into Europe, changing her name many times, and finally settled in Ireland. She found her seat at the sea.
Throughout the dark ages, she stored the great literature, art and documents that were thought lost to the world. She read, she thought, and she feasted on the local villagers. She rarely sought any company, let alone that of others’ of her kind. But she would, very, very rarely, take a particular interest in the plight of a resourceful, young peasant woman who could not seem to transcend the circumstances of poverty. When the family of one of these young women reached the peak of its’ suffering, she would swiftly murder the parents, feast on the brood, and then transform the young woman into one of her own kind. The young woman would do as Livia had done; sell the property and disappear into the world like a ghost. One of these young woman, whom Langstrom found in the early 1860s in the southern United States, was Laura Watson. Though Livia would never have considered it in this sense, she was giving birth to the children she never had… or never even knew she desired.
By the early 19th century, Livia was now living under the name Elizabeth Langstrom. The first name she chose after the most notorious female serial killer in history, Elizabeth Bathory; the last after the English gentleman whose property she had appropriated in Switzerland, and in which she was now living.
One weekend in June, in the summer of 1816 (“The Year Without a Summer”), Langstrom hosted a group of English poets at her villa in Switzerland. Dejected, bored and disillusioned by her too-long life, she usually kept company away, but her interest was piqued by this self-indulgent group of romantics. For three nights, she silently watched the group read from Tales of the Dead, and create horror stories of their own. They were high on laudanum, but their gothic imaginations, and the language they used to express their dark desires, took hold of her. Among this group was P. B. Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and an unassuming doctor and man of science, John Polidori.
Only Langstrom foresaw the massive effect the meeting of these souls would have on the world of romantic poetry. But even she did not realize the obsession that would take hold of her. Long after they were gone, she could not shake the impression that the stern, elegant Dr. Polidori had on her. She felt he kept a secret from her that she had to discover, but did not even know its’ nature. For years, she kept a watchful eye on his life, his family, his literary work. And though she never made her presence known to him, she sensed he was aware of her.
When Polidori died, she stood at his grave during the funeral, wondering at the meaning of her obsession. Polidori’s first-born son looked up at her, and she realized that the chain had not broken.
The next two centuries played out with great ferocity for Langstrom. She did not know what her fate was, but she felt a palpable awakening coming, and she acted with purpose, and with passion. She killed with passion. She exploited with passion. She destroyed and built empires with passion. Her sense of humour returned, and her personal powers grew. And all the while, she knew every step of every son in the long line of Polidori’s descendants.
In 1970, Simon Polidori, the great-great-great grandson of Polidori, emigrated from his home in Cambridge, England, to the East Coast of Canada, with his wife, Sophie. For many years, Langstrom had had her minions report his actions. But their reports came back elusive. He was elusive. It was as if he was intentionally and skillfully avoiding her detection. Shortly thereafter, she was told that he had died. Childless.
In the spring of 1978, Langstrom, who had located to Los Angeles, where she had assembled a massive media empire, travelled to Nova Scotia. She was drawn there, as though her fate was linked with Polidori, despite his passing. When she found herself at Harker’s Cove one evening in June, she felt herself staring at her own fate; at what had led her there after one and a half centuries: The young David Manners, only 8 years old. Here was her soul’s match that she had waited two thousand years to claim.
At this point begins the story of Elizabeth Langstrom, in Eternal Kiss.