Transcript – The Vampires of Toor

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The existence of vampires is a well-known fact in Toor. There are not many places in the world that do not tremble in fear at the idea of these creatures that come in the night to feed on living blood. Most places have, at one time or another, come under the sway of a vampire lord or a blood coven – groups of vampires all working towards a common goal – which is generally the subjugation of anything that isn’t themselves for their own benefit.

Yes, these things are well known but what is less well known is more or less everything else about them. So here I shall set down all that I can, starting with how vampires are made.

A common misconception is that the taint of vampirism is transmitted through biting. I have heard more than a few tales that make this claim but there is no truth to it. This seems obvious since, were this the case, there would by now be more vampires than anything else in the world.

The bite certainly seems to play a part, at least it does not appear that a turning can occur without a bite, but vampirism is not a disease that can be passed on. Its nature is far more… esoteric. As far as I can make out, the bite merely marks an individual, signifying that they now belong to whatever power it is that manifests itself as these creatures. And it is for that power to decide whether the marked one is better suited as an instrument of its will, or simply as food.

But once the power acts, the victim’s fate is decided. The turning is done by means of a ritual. According to those who know of such things, this ritual can only be performed by a High Blood vampire. The covens keep their secrets close so the exact details of the ritual are unknown, but it is generally understood that the ritual culminates with the death of the one who is to be turned. They then rise again as a new vampire, a fledgling.

A fledgling vampire will possess abilities superior to the mortal races. Their senses are enhanced to far more sensitive than those of a mortal, and they are much stronger and faster than they would have been when alive. I do not know what it is about their undeath that grants them these abilities. I can only assume that the power that works its will through these creatures grants them these abilities so that they might better enact its will. Another advantage the fledglings possess, though this time it is over High Blood vampires, is they have a stronger resistance to the sun. That is not to say they can go out in the middle of the day and even in dim sunlight they must cover their skin. But they may go out in the half-light of dawn and dusk without any fear, something which the more powerful vampires certainly cannot claim.

We don’t know what it is that allows a fledgling vampire to rise to the rank of High Blood, such things are kept secret by the blood covens. Perhaps it is an extension of the original ritual or it might be a completely separate process. It could even be that it is simply a natural progression that occurs over time.

All that is known is that it is a great risk for a fledgling to attempt to rise in power and become a High Blood vampire. Whatever is required, it has the possibility to warp the mind of the fledgling, robbing them of higher thought, making them little more than animals, capable of feeling nothing but the instinctual urge to hunt.

These creatures have, over the ages, come to be known as Thirsters and they are often used by vampires in the same way hounds are employed by hunters. Their extended limbs allow them to move as a much faster pace than fledgling vampires, especially when running on all fours, and their elongated teeth make them deadly if allowed too close.

Should the changing be successful, however, then the fledgling will rise as a true High Blood. These creatures do share some physical similarities with Thirsters. Their limbs are longer and thinner, to the point that the vampire looks like they’ve been stretched. The skull elongates and the teeth lengthen. Unlike the Thirsters, the eyes also become bigger, so as to see better in the dark.

But the most notable change is the power the High Blood can now call upon. It is not magic, not really. It certainly does not come from the Opposite, the Fae Realm. But High Blood vampires do appear to be able to wield something similar. They are able to affect the minds of those around them, making others think what they wish to think, or see what they wish to see.

This is probably how Seregoth convinced the lords of Vypanakra that he was a mage, by using a glamour to make them believe they saw him using magic. But the power of the High Bloods is nothing but illusion. Though that is not to say there is no danger to it, an illusion can be truly dangerous in the hands of the wrong person. But I shudder to think what a High Blood vampire might do if they were able to use true magic.

But how did they come to possess this power? Where did vampires even come from? Unfortunately, the only account we have is based on hearsay and is likely apocryphal if not entirely inaccurate.

The tale begins in the Dawn Age of the world, around the time that the Fae made their war on the Mortal Realm. The story goes that a lone elf found themselves wandering in the northern wilderness, perhaps in the area that would in time come to be called Weisscrag.

It is not known what the elf’s name was. In the tales that are remembered, they are named Saeriath, for the bitterness that lay in their heart.

In some stories, that bitterness came from the elf being the scion of a lesser family, sometimes even a fifth or sixth sibling, a noble with no chance of inheriting any real wealth or reputation. Feeling cheated, the wandered into the north. In other stories, the elf was a common foot soldier who had lost all of their fellows to the stupidity of their noble-born commander.

But whatever their background, this elf, this Saeriath, wandered the frozen wastes of the north, warmed by nothing but their bitter anger at the injustice of life, that they should be given so little in it.

And a voice in the dark cold felt this bitterness and was drawn to it. For in it the voice saw potential. The voice spoke to Saeriath and asked why they felt such anger. Saeriath answered. Then the voice asked what Saeriath would do were they to be given the power they sought. Saeriath answered. And the voice asked if that power must be claimed at the expense of others, would Saeriath still want it? And Saeriath answered.

We cannot know for sure how much truth there is to this tale, though we have Witnessed an event which may show the truth of it. For the Monolith is closely tied to the power that would have whispered to Saeriath all those years ago.

For many years, the vampire threat went more or less undetected. Elves and dwarves do not die easily and so the taint took a long time to spread. The first blood coven worked in the shadows, as a secret society that worked its way into many influential positions across the world, wielding power behind the thrones of many cities.

This changed with the turning of the ages and the arrival of the short-lived peoples. With the world now populated by peoples who lived quickly and died easily, the vampires now had a way of multiplying far faster than they ever had before.

By the middle of the Second Age, the blood covens dotted the world, still operating in secret, but more out of tradition now than any real necessity. Stories of vampire sightings became more commonplace but the average people generally thought them to be nothing more than stories.

Then, with the rise of Seregoth, the traditional secrecy was lost completely. Vampires were no longer a secret, believed to be no more than a story. Now the fact of their existence was common knowledge, and the vampires revelled in their new position. The blood covens no longer ruled behind the thrones, whispering in the shadows, now they ruled in truth, raising castles and palaces in their own honour from which to reign over their mortal subjects.

But all things that rise must eventually fall, and when Seregoth finally fell at the hands of the Wanderer and the warrior Temulen, the blood covens also lost their power. And the downtrodden are always ready to take advantage when their oppressors show any weakness.

Vampires may be extremely hard to kill but enough angry peasants armed with pikes can overcome any imbalance of strength.

Vampires are now greatly reduced in number and have returned to operating from the shadows. The remaining high-bloods ever seek to return things to the glory they enjoyed in more ancient days but, frankly, are unwilling to take the risks it would take to make that a reality.

So they lurk in the dark corners of the world, weakened but still a threat that should not be taken lightly.

But while there is much darkness in the world, there is also light. And throughout the long ages of the world, there have always been four consistent shining beacons standing against the darkness, bringing their Light to the world.

But of these things, we shall talk another time.

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