Let’s be real. You’ve probably already met a Leo or two in your life. You know, those people who describe themselves as “aspiring novelists.” Their heads are either in the clouds or buried in their notebook, and they’re always asking deep, probing questions about your personal life for the sake of “generating story ideas.”
You would think that people would get more realistic about their publishing prospects after they cross over into the spirit realms, but according to Leo, his life’s work is only just beginning. And after meeting a young, would-be babaylan and her loudmouthed anito, Leo’s may have just discovered the perfect inciting incident for his next great page-turner.
Old School Style
One of the first things you should know about the spirit realms: the longer a spirit hangs around before finally retiring into the Beyond, the more they start to decay and decompose. It’s not a pretty sight.
And yet, Leo has managed to retain his youthful appearance for . . . well, for however long he’s been working as a spirit guide. If we had to guess, we’d say he’s been exploring the spirit realms for more years than any of us have been alive. And no, it’s not his traditional barong or wire-rim glasses that give him away. It’s the fact that he still uses pen and paper to write down his thoughts. Good luck finding another tour guide who doesn’t need to constantly consult their smartphone to tell you where you’re going.
So how does Leo manage to stay so youthful while his contemporaries are rotting away and pulling clumps of hair out of their spectral scalps? Just like in our world, eternal youth comes at a heavy price. Leo won’t reveal exactly what he had to give away in order to retain his mortal appearance, but according to him, it was totally worth it.
After all, how could he maintain his job as a tour guide if he didn’t look presentable? And how could he ever finish his travel memoirs (read: inflated fiction) if he couldn’t show tourists around the spirit realms? How else could he finally uncover the one thing he’s been searching for all these years: literary inspiration?
You never know when a tourist is on a life-or-death journey. Take Corazon Lopez, for instance. She’s trying to retrieve the only object capable of bringing her parents back from the grave. Now that sounds like a juicy novel! If Leo doesn’t write her story, someone else totally should.
Ghost of the Town
As an unofficially licensed tour guide, you can rest assured that Leo knows all the best spots across the vast spirit realms. Such as the floating waterfalls above the Spirit River (located just beneath the Midnight Bridge), the ocean of stars just beyond the mountains (keep an eye out for the great sea serpent), and an entire island made of desserts (it takes a few days to get there, but it’s worth it for the buko pie alone).
Exploring the spirit realm all by yourself can be as lonely as it is dangerous. But Leo doesn’t seem to mind. Not only do these landmarks provide great research material for his memoirs, but he’s also not too anxious about dying twice. Mortal tourists may not be as easy-going about venturing beyond the Midnight Bridge, but as a writer, Leo is excited for any opportunity to build “dramatic stakes.”
We have a hard time believing he would be so gung-ho about encountering the many dangers of the Spirit Realms if, you know, he still had skin in the game. That, and for a ghost, he does seem a bit frightened of Corazon’s manananggal friend (look up a picture if you don’t mind losing sleep for the next few nights).
History in the Faking
Leo may know a lot about the ins and outs of the spirit realms, but his knowledge of the mortal world is rather limited. This explains why he’s so curious about Corazon’s life (What does she do for fun? How many friends does she have? What does a twisted ankle really feel like?). We’re still not sure why his own memories of being alive are so fuzzy.
The only information Leo is willing to divulge about his mortal life? He was “really good at tree-climbing, and most likely wrestled crocodiles barehanded.” Despite his insistence that “all writers are completely honest,” we have a hard time believing his stories to be entirely true.
Unfortunately, there’s no one to help verify Leo’s past or fill in the blanks of his memory. When he arrived in the spirit world, he was all alone. He thought that eventually, someone would find him. But no one showed. And so, Leo waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . .
Tragic and depressing? Yes. Just between us, that also sounds like a really boring biography. Editor’s note: could definitely use more talking lizards.
Want to get the full story on Leo? Be sure to pre-order your copy of The Spirit Glass today!