This is an account of my studies of vampirism. I lay down these words in the hope, that they will be used for the cause of Good. For is it not said, that without knowing an enemy, one cannot defeat him? I went through many sources of knowledge, known and forgotten, kept and lost, I have even consulted those loathsome creatures. Alas, I have learned much, perhaps too much, and I feel the lure of darkness gnawing at my soul. I trust that the reader will exercise wisdom and caution, and protect this text from the unwary and weak of mind. Even more should it be protected from those of a strong will, but weak morals.
The Origin Of Vampires
The vampires that really exist are distant relatives of those from legends. To the common man is known a little about their weaknesses and nature, most of the stories are nothing but hearsay. I am writing here everything that I have learned, as close to the truth as it is possible to know.
Of all the tragedies that befall mankind, few are as sad as great minds falling to evil, due to pride, fear, or even noble intentions.
The first dhampiri were such inquisitive minds, intent upon discovering the last secret, and crossing the final frontier: the death. First interested, and as their age advanced, becoming more and more desperate, they dabbled in dark, occult teachings, in the mystical and magical, and increasingly foul.
Finally, they have experimented on themselves, and a few went beyond any definition of normality, and, perversely, achieved the eternal life they longed for - for the price of their soul.
The legends I will not mention here speak with more colour, this seems to be their true origin.
Powers and Weaknesses
Vampires, as they see their kind, are not mere blood-sucking monsters, but philosophers of a very peculiar breed. But enough has been told about their beliefs, and philosophy. I shall inquire into the most disputed topic. There are too many legends, and too many misconceptions.
The key to their supernatural potential is their immortality. But how is it achieved?
An adept of vampirism has to learn the basic mystical techniques, with which he practices the refusal of Fate, and the binding of his life force to himself. These techniques are said to be sufficient for maintaining eternal life and great power, if one masters them to the uttermost level.
The practicing indeed offers some powers, but no known vampire has ever lived beyond death based on it alone, legends not considered. Only a legend claims, that Ur, the first vampire, that vanished aeons ago, become so powerful, and independent of the rules of this universe, that he has simply gone beyond it, and created a world of his own, a better universe. This they report as truth, providing no evidence.
Therefore, when the force of life threatens to leave their bodies, they resort to another technique: the transfer of life from other sources. Vampirism makes its practitioners greatly sensitive to their life force, and if it seems to dwindle, they will take it from elsewhere. And as the intelligent reader will have guessed, the most akin beings provide the best source of this power.
Romantic novels and popular tellings describe in detail, how a vampire will sink his teeth into the neck of a victim, and drain it’s life and blood to sate its eternal hunger and preserve its immortality.
The truth is, that it is not necessary. This hallmark of vampires is only one of many rituals, preferred as it may be. For instance, records exist of a ritual of war, where a battlefield with warriors clashing, and the wounded and dying, all have become the feeding ground of a vampire. How effective are this other rituals at harvesting power, and how preferable, is a matter of some debate among the vampires themselves.
The "Bite" is one of possible ritual transfers of the life force. Some victims claim it is an ecstatic experience, some are horrified from it, a few unstable natures were driven mad. The loss of one’s very Life is certainly unsettling, and can make a victim easier to beckon on the path of darkness.
The sun defines the cycle of Night and Day, a rule vampires cannot avoid in any way. Also, their very existence is a lie. Therefore, by entering the sunlight, the Vampire must confront the complex lie he has used to shield himself from reality, from death. ‘The Light of the Sun,’ so speak the holy texts, ‘is the natural light of the Universe, it illuminates Truth and banishes Illusion.’
As vampires mature into their immortal roles, they become more and more averse to the day. Sunlight is a powerful source of life, a source they cannot use, and it will burn them if they are not careful to hide from it. But one day, they will become powerful enough to endure sun itself, or so they say. Be warned: the young vampires do tolerate sunlight.
The moon, in turn, changes constantly, defying rules, and that is much more to their liking. Thus they can tolerate the Night. Be informed, that eclipses are for many of them of the holiest significance- the darkening of the sun, a sign that He is calling out to the strong.
Stories and Truths
Many tales are told of vampires, and to explore them all would take many more texts than this one. I shall explore only a few.
The aging vampires begin to have a feeling for other old things. It is only natural that they prefer items, that have survived the test of ages, and many enjoy them, or even feel drawn to them. It is not rare for a vampire to collect or deal with antiques. Such items may reveal glimpses of their past to those more powerful, by feeling, or visions.
Some reports I could not verify, only doubt them. It may be only folklore, or worse, misinformation spread by the vampires themselves. Spreading grains around them does not make them count it. I have worn garlic on myself, when conversing with the creatures. But did they not harm me, because they were afraid, or merely were amused to keep this myth in circulation?
There is one last thing I must mention: holy symbols, and holy water, both are anathema to vampires. Gods do not tolerate creatures, that aspire to be gods themselves, not for anyone’s good, but for their own power. Important is not present the divine by itself, but with strong faith, or the symbols become mere annoyances.
The Essence Of Vampires
Now I must reveal the most unsettling of their secrets.
It is not true, that vampires can spread their curse by biting, sharing their blood, or by a mere look at a pregnant woman.
Vampirism is a supernatural teaching. It is based on the philosophy, or as some say, a demented religion, of those unwilling to obey the eternal laws of the universe. Mortals become old and weak, and die in the end. That is one of the rules, and vampires have self-appointed themselves as supernatural rule-breakers. Their defiance to rules extends but further, and any rule is likely to be considered annoying, to be broken, or by-passed. Therein lies their danger to the peaceful society: that there is no deed evil enough to evade, or a moral principle holy enough that they would not break at convenience.
What separates this "religion" from others, is that its followers believe in the chance to become gods themselves. It is a worship of power, pure and unlimited. There is no greater blasphemy a mortal mind could bear in itself.
Vampirism is a teaching, therefore it must be taught - and learned. It does not pass to innocent victims from inhuman monsters, it is accepted willingly, it is a decision. Vampires spawn by having students.
"Think.", told me one of the creatures, a man of stature and good reputation, whose name I promised not to reveal. "If a bite is enough to increase our numbers, would not the world be overrun by our kind?"
And I pondered on this matter. Most vampires draw life from mortals, blood is the medium of choice. They are not animals, they are something worse, but few would choose to live in wilderness, with little comfort for study, and few chances to find prey. Therefore, the most likely place for vampires to live out their accursed lives is next to the living. They are not many, but they are among us.
How the undying live
If their beliefs are said to be a religion, then their church is not a solid institution, but rather a myriad of splintered sects that differ on the teaching, ways, mysterious rituals called Blood Riddles, and more.
Unless vampires choose to be completely alone and fend for themselves, cells are formed, that cooperate and squabble with other cells of their sect.
In this group, there is usually one leading vampire, and a few students, ‘vampires-to-be’. The group protects its members, supports the students and their master in research and warns other cells of danger or trades with them information.
There can be numerous servants and protectors, who aid the vampire in daylight. Maybe they were promised immortality, even bitten to make them think it is enough, so when they die and are lucky, they will rise. Of course, they are not taught the necessary rituals. Then there are people serving as fodder, of which I learned little, except that many like, or end up liking their fate, and do so for years.
The Lure of Damnation
When discovered, vampires can be surprisingly open about their existence, and willing for discussion. This is how they find new students as well.
I talked to a man, an adventurer-upon-return, who survived an encounter with a vampire. He and his comrades fell to a trap, and were imprisoned. The creature would talk to them, explain its existence, apologize, that it has to feed to survive, and then it fed off them. It made a point, of how easily life’s power is lost, and that they will be losing it for every day of their lives… until they die. And thus it would torment them, teasing with immortal life. It must have derived great pleasure from tempting heroes with the Darkness.
My contact was friendly as well. He was very supportive to my research, and interested in its outcomes. He talked at length about his existence, answered most of my questions, and allowed me to study some of his records.
And then, from one day to another, he declared that we shall not speak for a whole year.
Still present, I could see him at times, he refused to exchange even a word. My most reliable and exhaustive resource was at hand, and not reachable. I was dumbfounded, shocked, outraged! Only later that year I began to understand… it was not a whim, but a definite purpose. He teased me, with all that knowledge I so desired, and showed me how fast the time can be. He can wait a year, or a decade, for me it was a torture. Clearly, I was what they call a candidate.
I have found other sources later, but decided to abandon my research. Now, I have put my knowledge on paper, and will forget, if it is possible. It is years, since I have spoken with any of those creatures, and yet I feel their call. And be assured, dear reader: it is not the work of dark magic. It is simply a part of me, a very human part, that yearns to continue, to not feel old age coming, to avoid death…
I pray to the gods for my soul.
(This submission is actually a remake of a remake, of the great Dhampiri ( http://www.strolen.com/guild/index.php/topic,1440.0.html ). The mythical history, the bloodlines, even the Riddles can be integrated here seamlessly. Special thanks belong to the Captain and Siren!)