Hundreds of years ago, there was a time when messages of warning in tunnel sense became commonplace in ratfolk tunnels.
A scourge was spreading in Daritiv and no one was safe from it. Vampirism could affect anyone and the only way of staying safe from it seemed to stick to sunlit places or one's home.
The tradition of Coltiilectia began during these dark times, and although it has been many generations since, the origins of the night festivity are kept alive. After all, no one knows when the vampires may resurface again.
Back then, the vampires used our burrows and tunnels against us. In other places in Tiel, they could not move during the day for fear of sunlight. But here... We gave them the ability to move from house to house without ever having to see the day.
— Mazonn, a coltiilectia afficionado

Dark times yield bright heroes

At the height of the vampiric scourge, it seemed like every night someone's family or acquaintances went missing, often to be found dead in the outskirts (or sometimes, in their own bed!). Those were the lucky cases though, for the alternative was that they had been turned into vampires, blood-sucking undead stealing the life force from the living to stay in their current state.
It was then that a group of cavaliers, inquisitors, and paladins grouped together to hunt these creatures. They called each other "Dawn bringers", although they eventually became more commonly known as "Fang bringers". Their name alluded to their custom to extract the fangs from the vampires they killed and bring them back as proof to the villagers.
A cruelsome trophy
The vampire fangs became symbols of a village's purity, used as talismans, relics, and eventually curious. Then and now they were valued by the villagers as a symbol of their past against vampirism and the undead. Back then, the fangs were often kept by the village heads, those who had folk slain by the vampires, or given to magic users to create magical items which would help deal with future threats better.

A night to celebrate

In return for the service of the Dawn bringers, villagers used to hold a feast upon their return, to thank them for their service. Masses and dances would be held in their honour during the night alongside the feast. Holding these events at night was seen as a defiance against the undead and an exercise of trust in the Dawn bringers' ability to get the deed done.
Over time, vampires became a creature with which to scare children in their beds and nothing else. Coltiilectias were often kept by villages as a yearly event to honour those slaying boars. While less valued than vampire fangs, boar tusks still hold a special place in these villages and are often used as protection tokens against the evils of the night.
My bună gave us this fang when we married.   She swears it's a true vampire fang and we are not going to disrespect her by hiding it. I don't care if you don't believe in its power!

Cover image: by Curious Expeditions


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