Vampires: the Earth Reborn
The stench of blood and holiness was in the air, and the light could not penetrate the tall and wide curtain. Vile and malign, holy and sublime; praise be unto those who make the mountains bow and the oceans roar; praise be unto those that stand as pillars made of alabaster stone, besprinkled with diamonds black as night.
Monsters of the Vulga Valley
The first vampire, Elvira, appeared about two hundred fifty years ago, at the end of the Blood Wars and at the beginning of the Empire of Juraedon's rise to power. He first arose in the fertile region now known as Vulga. Following his example were dozens of others. The method to attain a vampiric life and its attending powers and immortality quickly spread throughout the region, and a vampiric infestation had begun.
It was a fortunate thing, then, that the newly created vampires, so overcome by the carnal delights and the desire for violence inherent in their kind, quickly turned on each other, and it seemed that this problem would extinguish itself. It was around this time that the three strongmen of the region came into power and reigned in the bickering vampiric warlords. Their names were Elvira, Cruzinear, and Pelefinn.
But though the vampires were united, there was still the matter of the Sun. That great orb, the dawnstar, was anathema to the vampires, and the Sun would burn their flesh. So, under the direction of Cruzinear, the vampire lords took their aligned powers and created a great veil of mist around the vale of Vulga, so that the sunlight and her harsh rays would never burn again in that region.
It was a worrisome time, but the vampiric tendency rose up again, and the three new vampiric lords returned to war against each other. The Empire breathed a sigh of relief and returned to her conquests. There arose a tacit understanding between the Vulga and the Empire. Neither would harm the other; each would leave each other alone. An unsteady peace arose and has remained ever since.
How a Vampire Comes to Be
The research is scanty on vampirism and its methods. Sages cannot simply walk into Vulga and study a vampire. What is known is difficult to find and, even then, is filled with more superstition than fact. The very name, vampire, is a mere folk-name applied to creatures who have certain, similar, traits but are altogether different beings. Still, the general knowledge of how a vampire comes to be is not an entire mystery. Much like how it is common knowledge that a lich requires souls, it is common knowledge that vampirism requires a deal unlike any other to be made.
Spirits in the Earth
The world is inhabited by spirits invisible but real. Some spirits, like the angels, are spirits of intellect: their knowledge of things is instantaneous; there is no thought process between item and understanding. Some spirits are more akin to the animist's or naturist's ideas: spirits that inhabit the very soil itself. The flowers breathe with delight; the mountains can be beseeched. It is also taught by the Church that there is a war going on behind our vision. An invisible but bloody war between the forces of Hell and the forces of Heaven. These categories can go on for a list as long as your arm, but among these spirits, there is a category of beings that stand apart. These are called the Earth Spirits, and they are also what we may call the Horrible.
Dark Things that Lurk in Places Unexplored
These spirits of the earth are a varied bunch, but often they are fallen Principalities that had thrown their lot in with the Dead God Gendûet. They have since migrated into the earth’s crust and core after His defeat, and are, like the earth itself, immortal. But they are also mindless. Their descent and later attachment to things of this world destroyed whatever semblance of a spiritual mind they had. All Earth Spirits are insane, for lack of a better word. And, as Principalities and therefore true gods, their insanity produces disturbing effects.
Earth spirits can also be called the usurpers of the Seats. The Seats, or the gods on high, are the governors over their respective dominions, and the spirits of the earth latch onto those dominions in an attempt to become that dominion itself. They push out the Actual Substance of some sort of matter, but leave the Accidents of that matter intact. As an example, if an Earth Spirit were to attach to a tree, they would push out the substance of 'tree' from that item, so that, in truthfulness, that tree can no longer be properly defined as 'tree'. But the bark, the leaves, the roots, indeed, the physical appearance and effects of that tree will remain intact. This is their method of usurpation.
Who knows, then, what has been infected and what remains pure? How many things have been perverted by the inhabitation of the Earth Spirits? They lie asleep, insane but for now at rest, possibly hidden in all things that are no longer themselves. It is a dark thought.
A Vampire proper is a being that has sold either body or soul to an Earth Spirit. Hypothetically, any race can become a vampire, though Humans make up the majority of the vampiric population. The exact method is unknown, but what is known is that to become a vampire, you must trick an Earth Spirit. One must trick the spirit into thinking that the man beckoning them is their natural abode, and then that spirit will shove the intended part out of the man and replace it. Much like how they replace certain aspects of the natural world, although this process is more violent and removes entirely the sold object. The Earth Spirit will either remove the person's soul, creating a Soulless Vampire, or the person's body, creating a Bodiless Vampire. While the Soulless Vampire's appearance is almost identical to its original appearance (besides the paling of eye color, the cooling of body temperature, and paler skin), the Bodiless Vampire can appear as anything. Sometimes they will be encountered as freaks of flesh, other times they will take the form of a large moth or cockroach. The two vampire variants are discussed in detail below.
As mentioned above, the Earth Spirits are mindless and insane. Any will they have and any desire they may hold is incomprehensible to the rational mind. This mindlessness affects the vampire, and so they must constantly feast on Human blood for humanity and sentience. Their bites drain intelligence and imbue a pale version of their dark powers onto the bitten, creating vampire-esque creatures that cannot think: these are called vampire spawn. In a fit of irony, even the Earth Spirits within the vampire seem to desire blood. The madness of those gods is bolstered by the rationality of mortals laden in their blood, trying, desperately, to comprehend and fight the darkness. Thusly, even Soulless Vampires, whose will is that of the Earth Spirit's, drink blood.
The Kinds of Vampire and Their Natures
The Bodiless sell their bodies to the Earth Spirits in exchange for the spirits to take up residence where their bodies once were. The Earth Spirits then try to mimic a fleshy body, but, more often than not, create a monstrosity. The Bodiless, when older, become too lethargic to go out and feed, so they become slower, until eventually, they transform into a large bog of fetid flesh, waiting for unwary travelers. There is a benefit to this, though, a benefit that lasts for only a short while, but a benefit nonetheless. The Bodiless vampires act of their own Human will. Those who take up this pact will, for a short while, gain great powers while still remaining in control of themselves. It is only later when the body slowly rebels against them, and the will is overcome by the divine flesh.
Vampires who sell their bodies become reclusive. Bodiless Vampires, even when too much time has passed and they become too lethargic to hunt out prey, are pushed on by instinct to consume blood. Their sputtering soul hopes with all its flickering might that a little bit of blood, a drop of crimson red, will give his body the strength to stand up, and will restore its mind to some useful form. It is a dream that a vampire so far gone ought to give up.
The Bodiless Vampires are often used by their more intelligent masters as brutal enforcers or strongmen to quell the commoners in Vulga. Peasants, terrified for their lives, will worship these Bodiless Vampires as Saints or Gods, sent to cull the sinful and wicked. These poor people recognise the oft unsaid truth: that the Terrible is closest to the Holy.
The Soulless sell their souls to the Earth Spirits in exchange for the spirits to take up residence where their souls once were. The Earth Spirits will invade and remove the person's soul. Effectively, that person no longer exists. Their will has been superseded by that of the Earth Spirit's. The Soulless Vampire's heart stops beating, and their body becomes cold. But then, it is like a fire is awakened in their blood. A carnal appetite beyond reckoning flares up in the Soulless Vampire's mind. This carnal desire is an unseen side effect. It is the vampire's body lashing out in rebellion against its host, and is also why the vampires are so prone to bickering - meaning that the Earth Spirits cannot use the full extent of their dark powers.
A person wishing to become a Soulless Vampire must be someone with great hubris, believing that they, and they alone, are capable of fighting off an Earth Spirit and are capable of co-inhabiting with that Earth Spirit, gaining all the boons of vampirism with none of the banes. The Soulless Vampires tend to gather large harems out of the commoners they rule in Vulga. They will take any lover that comes to them. They will decorate their houses in gaudy and terrible things, often of a sexual nature. They delight in food and drink, though they need neither these things.
The retaining of the full capacity of their bodies and brains means that Soulless Vampires are much more capable at ruling than their Bodiless counterparts, though they may be less physically strong. Indeed, the three Vampire Lords are all Soulless Vampires.
It is unknown if a Soulless Vampire can reproduce.
Neither sort of vampire is very friendly. Both sorts are dangerous. Adventurers unlucky enough to be in the Vulga ought to avoid them at all costs.
The Things They Do
Vampires generally prefer solitude. But they do not idle. They plan and experiment, and push the boundaries of their strengths. Or they play and hunt the commoners that are in their lands. But around every four years, a major conflict will break out, and the vampires become like dark lords, brooding on the horizon, assaulting each other or the city of Otto with thousands of minions and dozens of lieutenant vampires on each side.
In times of peace or war, their influence is felt throughout the region. Ever watchful are the pale vampire eyes. Their subjects have long given up any hope of freedom, and they freely worship their masters as gods. The vampires enjoy the worship and their hoards of adoring common folk.
Vampires play in bloody cycles of sport and war.
The three vampire lords of today, Cruzinear, Elvira, and Stearne, control three equal parts of the Vulga valley, the borders between their kingdoms defined by the river that runs throughout the land. While what the Vampire Lords do is, for the most part, unknown, they being above the petty things their subordinates do, the vampires under them act as governers, albeit poor ones. The vampires collect taxes from the peasants in terms of food, drink, and blood. Coin has little meaning in this land. These kingdoms are awful places to be in, and the peasants would run away if not for the choking mists that surround the region of Vulga. Instead, peasants surrender themselves to the various fantasies their vampire overlords want to play out. The peasants will subjugate themselves towards their effectual gods and do as their lords wish. This is the peasants' method of survival. Sometimes, though, the peasants begin to believe their lies and truly begin to love their dark lords.
In general, vampires wish to keep their peasants alive and happy enough to produce pleasurable things for the vampires to use -- food and drink top this list. So, a vampire will often defend their subjugated village from any monsters that may invade. The vampire will make a contract with the village, dictating their terms, and the village, once it accepts, can expect a relative peace.
Their Cursed Influence
The very existence of vampirism is anathema, and reality breaks like a cracked mirror against their appearance. The region of the Vulga is mired with their cursed influence. Unnatural things walk openly across the face of the earth. The air has been poisoned. The land is broken. Only Otto stands as a bright spot in this place.
Besides the vampires themselves, the land of Vulga has become inhospitable. The mist has stopped the purifying effects of the Day, and now the land is dying. The woods have become forboding places crawling with large spiders, spinning webs to ensnare the foolish. The trees grow ears, and they whisper the deeds of all to their vampiric masters. Rats and bird crawl and sneak, out of the brush, peering with bright eyes, keen with intelligence. They say fell things to those who may listen. Trampling the land are monsters that the vampires either created through experimentation, or those who simply appeared one day, creating carnage throughout the land and layering another curse upon this already cursed place. Villages, though oppressed, are usually 'safe' places to be in. But an occasional bubble of evil rises from some forgotten cavern, and the village inhabitants are transformed, unwillingly, into monstrous entities.
There are Elves in Vulga. They are called the Lorwen, and they are of the Morgondi race. While they were once strong, now they are weak. The land is sick and the Elves die with it. Now, the city of Nellothrop is all that is left of this once proud people. They hide in the Forest of Mirable, a dark forest, today.
Quirks in a Vampire's Nature
Soulless and Bodiless Vampires have traits that their original persons didn't have. These traits are listed below. If a trait is only found in Soulless or Bodiless vampires, then it will be mentioned as either Soulless or Bodiless.
- SHAPECHANGER | Soulless: while the Vampire isn't in sunlight or running water, it may transform into a bat or into mist or back into its true form
- MISTY ESCAPE | Soulless: if the Vampire is rendered incapacitated, and is not in sunlight or running water, it may transform into a cloud of mist and travel to its resting place
- REGENERATION: the Vampire may regenerate itself from wounds or fatigue
- SPIDER CLIMB: the Vampire may climb surfaces as easily and deftly as a spider
- FORBIDDANCE: the Vampire can't enter a residence without an invitation from one of the occupants
- HARMED BY RUNNING WATER: the Vampire will be harmed if in contact with running water
- STAKE TO THE HEART: the Vampire will be rendered paralyzed if staked through the heart
- WEAKNESS TO SUNLIGHT: the Vampire is harmed by Sunlight
- DARKVISION: the Vampire can see in shades of grey in darkness
- RESISTANCE TO DAMAGE: the Vampire takes less damage from non-magical weapons
- IMMORTALITY: the Vampire is immune to the effects of aging, though they can still be killed
Admittingly, there may be many exceptions to these traits. All information has been compiled by the reports of adventuring groups that have entered the Vulga and successfully escaped.
An Inability to Cast Magic
Vampires have either a split body or soul. This means that they cannot cast any form of Magic as Magic relies on the tension body and soul apply to each other. The Earth Spirits within each vampire do not seem to apply this tension. This means that neither Bodiless or Soulless Vampires are capable of casting Magic.
Notable exceptions to this rule are Cruzinear and his apprentice, Alshod Sildressi. They have harnessed the power of a faux-Earth Spirit. It isn't known if this faux-Earth Spirit was manufactured or is merely a cousin of a real Earth Spirit, like an Abolith is.
To Kill a Vampire
In the Vulga, vampirism is tantamount to godhood. They revel in the dark powers of blood and the ancient, eldritch powers of the spirits of the earth. Soulless Vampires are fiercely intelligent foes with the ability to enthrall their enemies. Bodiless Vampires are war machines, capable of leveling villages, and can take terrifying forms. Both kinds of Vampire are violent and physically imposing
But a vampire is still, in the end, a being of flesh and blood. With enough skill or brute force, a vampire's body will break and the Earth Spirit will be sent scurrying into the dirt.
Now, the powers of a vampire is dependent on the Earth Spirit imbibed, and, therefore, also dependent on the original personality of the vampire. The more powerful a vampire, the more difficult it is to kill them. Their bodies are more resilient, their ability to suffer fatal wounds more potent, and they are more intelligent if they are of the Soulless variant. At the higher levels of vampiric power, some of the negative traits of vampirism do not have an effect anymore. For instance, the Vampire Lords may enter any household without requiring an invitation. It is important to remember that sunlight will always harm all vampires, as they are creatures of the night.
To properly kill a vampire, you must be able to first defeat them physically. At this junction, all Bodiless Vampires should be defeated permanently. But if you are dealing with a Soulless variant, then you must follow their body-now-turned-mist until you reach their coffin. It is here that one must stake the body and cut off the vampire's head, at last ending the threat. For Vampire Lords a further step must be made. Each Lord has crafted for themselves a heart made of crystal. This heart, so long as it exists, may store the Vampire Lord's soul and regenerate a new body. This heart must presumably be shattered before any attempt on the Vampire Lord's life may begin. But as to how to break it is unknown. Only Lady Stearne has ever slain a Vampire Lord, and she slew her old master.
The Vampire Lords
We should go on loving, so long as the Sun brightly does shine.
There are three Vampire Lords in the region of Vulga. They are immortal beings who command great power and respect. Their works have twisted the valley into a damned place. Their reign has led to the tyranny and subjugation of tens of thousands. Commoners are hunted like beasts for sport by their minions. A darkness has set on this land, and even if Vulga is freed the stain of evil will never leave it. If one should ever get the upper hand over the others and so unite the Vulga, then the Empire may face extinction.
Elvira is an omnipresent shadow in his domain. He is Firstborn, and he has long lost his Humanity. He revels in his vampirism. His strength is unmatched. His goals are unknown. Elvira leads his armies from the front, and his fighting style is renowned throughout the Vulga for its brutality and extraneous violence.
But recently he has disappeared. His castle has vanished. But with his disappearance, an even deeper shadow lengthens across his domain. The villages are now uninhabited. The horrors are multiplying. What has happened?
Cruzinear and his apprentice, Alshod are the only vampires capable of producing magic. Cruzinear is Secondborn among the vampires. He is called the Dread Lord. His presence inspires a speculation of further doom. His mind is of science and Magic. He works towards some mysterious purpose, letting his commoners groan in the dust of his kingdom. His vassals act in his stead, commanding the legions under his name. Perhaps, if he finally leaves his castle to go on a campaign, the entirety of the Vulga would fall beneath his reign.
Stearne is the youngest of the Vampire Lords. She is also titled the Usurper, as she killed her former master, Pelefinn, and took his spot as Vampire Lord. Her goals are clear. She wishes to find and experience all the pleasurable sensations. Stearne has succumbed entirely to her carnal desires. The pleasures are blinding, and she plays sick sport with her commoners, goading them with promises of freedom from the Vulga, only to set impossible tasks for them to accomplish. All she does, she does for the sake of filling her bottomless appetite. But do not take her for a fool. She has eyes and ears everywhere, and her lusts do not blind her ambition.
Some say (at least, those commoners who have managed to escape Vulga somehow, say) that she became a vampiress to save a lover, and that lover is now the hooded man who follows her around wherever she wanders.
Surrounding the region of Vulga is a perpetual mist that blocks out the harmful rays of the sun and ensnares all who dare enter it. It is an unbeatable fence. The Vampire Lords may, in their respective territories, choose to let in or out any whom they deign fitting. In this way, they prevent dangerous foes from entering Vulga, and they prevent commoners from leaving. This mist is the final challenge for any adventuring party that enters Vulga. Most will make some sort of deal with a vampire to pass through.
This strange place contains an evil both old and strong. Maybe we should turn back.
From the earth comes a drum, drum, drum. It is the beating of a gestating heart. The Vulga beats to the rhythm of the heart. The land writhes and shakes with the beating of the black heart of oil. It rises up and falls down like the writhings of a snake. This is the land of Bosheth, the land of Tanit, the land of Moloch and Baal.
Do you hear them? A billion engines roar in the distance. They are fueled by evil things. Beware that Industry. The Evil Industry of the Vampires. They creep, like the Old Gods, under the brush. They will slide under you with their minds of gears and machinery and chemicals and upturn you. Be faithful. Adhere to the Holiest of Holies. Adhere to that most dreadful of Holy Places: the hidden shrine to the dark god Unthir. She will show you the bloody way. What does the marble offer, that the blood, thick like wine, does not do better? HOW HOLY IS THE BLOOD!
Do you see the folly of reason? To reason is to grip water. To hold to truth is to pile sand upon the waves. What has happened never will and never is to come or be. HOW HOLY ARE THOSE WORDS: from earth you came and to earth you will return!