The Age of Ice almost spelt the end of the vampires. When the vast sheets spread over the once-fertile land, their main source of food, humanity, started to become scarce and ever more concentrated in small tribes. Fearing a fate worse than death, the shadowy almost-death of a vampire deprived of fresh nourishment for centuries, most vampires tried to cling to the ever-shrinking communities of survivors. A lone vampire trapped in a small group of people quickly switches from hunter to prey. One by one, the vampires were dispatched to the afterlife.
Of those few vampires who escaped the hunters, most took to a feral existence, living off whatever inferior blood they could scavenge in the wild, preying off the occasional human unfortunate enough to be caught alone. But some wise few realized that the only path to survival lay in making the natural transition from parasite to master.
Lead by the ancient siblings Alexis and Flauros, a small group of surviving vampires “adopted” a rag-tag tribe of humans. Using their powers as immortals, unaffected by cold, or exhaustion, gifted with incredible vision and speed, they made sure the tribe had plenty of food. And all they asked in return was an endless, expendable resource: A few drops of blood. But a vampire’s powers are not restricted to supernatural senses and strength-–their great power is in the mind.
Slowly but surely, using their natural powers of guile and persuasion, and dangling the “Dark Gift” as bait to lure the best and strongest humans into helping them, the vampires wormed their way to the top of their little society. Few wished to oppose them, and risk losing their valuable hunting skills. Those who did had accidents, or simply disappeared.
When the humans finally realized what was happening, it was too late. They were trapped in a hellish situation, little more than cattle for a growing class of parasitic nobility, and they had been trapped there of their own free will.
Now, Flauros and Alexis are the Grand Prince and Princess of a depraved and hopeless society of bloodpets and slaves, controlled by the Grand Broods, the vampire families that rule each city as their own personal estate farms, living in decadent luxury, and sating their lust for blood at will. The Calabim are the apex of vampire evolution, an abomination that is the natural enemy of all holy nations.
10% Vampire (Human)
< 1% Other
40% Lawful Evil
20% Neutral Evil
15% Lawful Neutral
10% Chaotic Evil
5% Chaotic Neutral
< 1% Other
Adult population Lvl 1 or higher: 3%
Barbarian: 1% (Brujah)
Other: < 1%
Vampires and Servitors
Every vampire on Arcanearth can trace their lineage to Alexis or Flauros, the first vampires born in ages past. Some of the first to receive the gift from them live on to the present, ruling clans and cities, and keeping their ‘offspring’ in check. Spoiled and accustomed to power, life under the rulership of a vampire is a harsh existence, with the perpetual dread of being ‘invited’ to a feast. Humans ruled by vampires in the Age of Rebirth responded one of two ways: with resigned depression, or fanatical devotion, joining the ranks of the Moroi in order to prove themselves worthy of the gift. Though relatively few have their wishes so granted, those who do frequently turn their backs on their human lives, becoming as cruel and decadent as the masters they serve. They delight in darker magics and in relish killing, though only when the odds are wildly in their favor do most vampires consider joining the battle.
Bloodpets fit into the Calabim human social ladder somewhere between the oppressed peasant and the favored Moroi. They are kept around the vampiric governors to do all sorts of menial tasks, not the least of which is to serve as cannon fodder. Due to their closer association with the ruling class they are spared the feasting of their peers, but are the first ones to be fed on in a pinch.
The Moroi are an elite caste of once-human warriors suckled on the blood of vampires. The Moroi inherit many of the strengths and weaknesses of their overlords, but are not capable of passing on the ‘Dark Gift’. They are capable of achieving great bursts of strength when needed.
Vampires don’t tend to shy away from brutality, but most prefer manipulation and petty cruelty to outright savagery. Not the Brujah, however. After leading enough battles, the veneer of civilization that the Calabim have adopted as a survival scheme since the Age of Ice crumbles away. These barbaric vampires revel in the carnage of battle, even risking their immortal lives against odds in which vampire lords would be content to send in Moroi or Bloodpets. Their results are hard to argue with, however.
All vampires have unnaturally long lifespans, but the vampire lords have learned to cheat death itself. Whether through massive feasting or some more arcane ritual, the body of a vampire lord is recreated upon destruction. Some spend their stolen years further honing their martial prowess, but many, having experienced everything else in life, master the limits of necromancy. A few take the final step towards immortality, becoming liches.
Adopted daughter of Os-Gabella and elder sister of Flauros, Alexis is the queen and first of the vampires. Raised by an immortal mother, she was faced with her own mortality and unwilling to accept that she would be the first in the Bair of Lacuna to die. To get her over her fear of death, Os-Gabella took her to the crude villages of early men and showed her how they lived and died. Wishing to examine this death more closely, Alexis came to the village at night and killed a shepherd.
The shepherd’s death didn’t answer her questions: she saw no spirit leaving his body and his body grew cool, but if his life went anywhere she couldn’t see the change. Alexis had access to the teaching of Ceridwen, who had built the Bair of Lacuna and had surrounded it in runes that keep the unwelcome from entering it from other planes, and those imprisoned within it from leaving through the same means. These last runes Alexis used at the site of her second killing, a young acolyte of Lugus named Lanthis.
Lanthis lay dying but unable to die within Alexis’s ring of runes, his spirit unable to escape to the vault. Cut and battered within the circle, Lanthis writhed in agony while Alexis watched. When she tired of watching, Alexis stepped into the circle and allowed Lanthis’s spirit an escape, into her. To transition the spirit she touched him, kissing him on his blood soaked forehead. At that moment, at that taste of blood, the first vampire was born. Alexis didn’t become possessed by the spirit, she consumed it and her mortal life was extended because of it.
Over the next few centuries, she shared the secret with her brother and they parted from their immortal mother and began hunting men in a variety of guises. One life could extend their own for 20 to 30 years so they didn’t hunt often but they were a legendary threat to men from creation.
“What do I keep in the pot? The hearts of those that love me.”
“Do you have a name?” the Chamberlain asked her. He had the signs of nobility: the dull yellow eyes, the pale complexion, and most of all, the perpetual sneer. She held back a shudder.
“Taerry, sir,” the young lady murmured.
“Listen close, girl. Don’t give him your name unless he asks. Don’t call him anything but My Lord or Master. And if you ever want to see your family again, do everything he asks. Are we clear?”
“Yes sir,” she replied, and the Chamberlain turned away without another glance at her, shutting the door as he did. Taerry allowed herself a few furtive glances around the bedroom as she sat on the very corner of the bed. It was filled with extravagances she didn’t even know existed. She noticed silk sheets and curtains, tapestries centuries old and still vibrant, furniture carved from ancient fir trees imported from half the world away, and a tall mirror coated in pristine silver. Taerry knew she was out of place as she looked at herself in the mirror, huddled small and dirty in her wool gown.
The door opened suddenly, drawing her attention sharply to him. He made the rest of the room seem as ordinary as the dirt on her boots. He was handsome in a way she had never seen before in the weary folk of her village or the arrogant nobles that lorded it over them. With piercing eyes and a tall, sleek frame, he looked like he stepped out of an earlier time, when men were one step removed from the gods themselves. And he carried himself the same way, with an air that simply acknowledged the rest of the world as belonging to him with no need to prove it.
Taerry felt all the smaller when he stood facing down at her. “Hello child. Don’t be afraid,” he said. “I’m sure you have heard all sorts of stories about me.”
He smiled. “I saw you working in the field, my dear, and asked for you to be brought here. Living in the castle, as I do, can be very isolating. It is not good for a ruler to forget what his people are like. What’s your name?”
“And have you a family, Taerry?” he asked, putting a hand on her shoulder. She started involuntarily at his touch, and his eyes narrowed sharply. “I asked you not to be afraid, Taerry.”
“Milord, I’m not, it’s just… I’ve not been with a man alone before. Since mother died and my father sent the suitors away so I could help the little ones, I mean.”
He grasped her other shoulder now, forcing her to look him in the eyes. “Ah, Taerry, relax. Forget about that now. You don’t need to worry about suitors or your parents any more.”
She wanted to protest, but she saw the menace in her eyes. “Yes, Milord.”
The pain wasn’t as bad as she’d been told it would be. After a bit, she let her mind wander, imagining that she was not being taken in this King’s bedroom, but rather in her own humble, flee-ridden bed, and that this man was not her King, taking royal prerogative, but her husband—
She let out a sharp gasp of pain. “Master, stop!” The pain in her neck intensified and she felt her blood pour down her neck. She cried again, thrashing around, desperate to get away. The man gave no response to her plea for mercy. At last she fell silent, and the world faded to black around her.
The Chamberlain met him as he open the door to his bedroom, clad in a silk robe. On the bed behind him lay a young girl, her skin drained of all color, lying in a puddle of blood. Flauros wiped his mouth.
“Is she still alive, Milord?” asked the Chamberlain greedily.
“As much as she ever was. Do with it as you will.”
Alexis noted his unkempt appearance with a sneer as he walked into the throne room and slouched into his throne. “Must you play with your food, brother?”
“Alexis, if you are around until the end of world, you won’t have lived a day in your life with that attitude. Food is to be savored, and there is no flavor quite as exquisite as a maiden with that heady mix of emotions as she’s plucked. So did I miss the Malakim ambassador?”
“Yes, just. He offered peace, naturally.”
“And you sent him home with a ‘no’?”
“I’m sure Gosam will deduce the answer when his ambassador fails to return. I’d never dream of wasting the food, even if it smells like camel.”
“See, sister dear? I have my games, and you have yours.”
Three generals sat in the antechamber, awaiting their summons to the throne room. One, a battle-hardened veteran, sat cold and stoic while the second man, younger and newer to his position, fidgeted nervously. The woman yawned and gazed out the window. Soon the doors opened and they were ushered in and arrayed themselves before the dual thrones. The guards left, leaving the three alone with Alexis and Flauros.
Alexis arose at once, walking swiftly towards them. “You three were ordered to hold our new settlement of Pavu’nar! Yet before you even returned to me, like beaten dogs, my scouts have informed me that our city is ruined! Tell me what happened and why I shouldn’t consume—why I shouldn’t have you killed.”
“Sheol, your report first,” Flauros interjected. He still slouched on his throne but his gaze narrowed upon the younger man.
“Yes Master, Mistress. We… on Perdion’s orders we split our command into three upon reaching the town. I took charge of the hunters. We headed for the hills and forests, finding the enemy well before they neared Pavu’nar. My, um, I broke my units into small groups to harass the enemy as they marched, and dispatched the scouts with information on their numbers and makeup back to Losha and Perdion. I continued to pick off the enemy through the month as they laid siege to the town. Then, the gates of the town opened! I had not force enough to beat the enemy, Masters… I must report that it was Losha and Perdion that failed you.”
“You all failed, fool,” Alexis snarled. She stomped back to her throne and sat, withering Sheol with her glare.
“Perdion, pray continue the tale,” Flauros said.
“It is as Sheol said, Masters, though I must place the blame squarely on Losha’s shoulders. I took the shock troops and left her the archers and the settlers to arrange defense of the town. She should easily have been able to hold out all season, though the number of the enemy turned out to be larger than we expected. I returned to nearby Acaia to gather more forces, and was on my way back when I received the news the settlement had been razed. I left my men garrisoned there and returned when summoned. So clearly Losha cost us the battle,” the general finished, stepping back and bowing his head.
Flauros smiled. “Losha, it appears as I have often told my sister: the weaker sex lacks judgment as well as strength. But please, tell your story, and we shall see.”
Losha calmly began. “It is as they say, my prince and princess, though they underestimate the numbers of your foes. They had many times the number we set out with. In a battle we might have taken them, but the deaths of our troops would have been a great loss. So I decided that the loss of the settlers was preferable to battle.”
“How dare you! You were ordered to hold the settlement!”
“My Mistress, I have the orders here with me. It says, ‘stop the invading army when they reach our town of Pavu’nar.’ That is what I did.”
“Losha, you just said that you lost the settlers.”
“Oh did I forget to mention? Before I abandoned the town—and its annoying inhabitants—to the enemy, I poisoned the food stores, and the wine, and the water.”
Alexis blinked; Flauros sat upright in his throne. “Sheol, Perdion, you may leave, your orders will be forthcoming. Losha, stay.” The young man skittered out, and the older man followed, but not before giving Losha a cruel smile.
“So have I angered my Masters?” Losha asked.
“Dear Losha,” Alexis said with a smile, “you have redeemed yourself utterly. Come, we have a gift for you.”
The Pillar of Chains
The citizens marched into the city plaza picketing and demanding the liberties their neighbors possessed. They chanted and screamed at the palace as Flauros watched from his balcony. For hours they demonstrated, becoming bolder as the day went on, and more citizens joined.
The Moroi stood their posts, they didn’t threaten or seem aware of the horde of violent protestors before them. The citizens toppled statues in the plaza, destroyed benches and shook the palace gates and still Flauros waited.
A wave of euphoria struck the crowd, they had risen up and Flauros hadn’t responded. They were not powerless, they weren’t afraid, Flauros was afraid of them. This thought intoxicated them, generations of the Calabim have suffered without complaint or voice, complacent in their fear. But their fear was gone now, they were a new people united against their cruel aristocracy.
The sun dipped into the horizon, bathing the protestors in the reds and oranges of evening. Lengthening the shadows of the buildings until they reached out across the plaza like dark teeth on the worn granite cobblestones. For a heartbeat the angry wild cries of the protestors stopped as the shadows covered them, there was silence in the plaza. Then came the screams.
In the morning, where there once was graceful statues and benches there was now a giant pillar of granite, iron and blood. Hundreds of barbed chains were woven around the tower and held fast by those chains were all those that protested the day before. Most were torn bodies ripped to pieces and hung on the chains, but a few still lived and writhed within its grasp.
Flauros would often stand on his balcony and admire what he called the Rose of Prespur. With its thorns and blood-stained top it almost seemed as such. Regardless of its artistic merits, the people of Prespur never protested again.
Writhing bodies clad in black
Flow past me as I stare.
Like beacons on a stormy sea
The lights around them flare.
Leather, velvet, metal, lace—
These ornaments they don,
Yet their necks remain unclothed
For me to gaze upon.
Swirling through the smoke-filled air,
The music lifts their soul.
Succumbing to this sonic drug,
Their minds have lost control.
I pull my cloak in close to me
And drift into the crowd.
I search each ghoulish painted face
As death looms like a cloud.
My angel’s face appears to me
Amidst the swaying mass.
I glide to her through sound and haze,
Ignoring those I pass.
My eyes fixate upon her skin—
So smooth, so soft, so white…
Her naked arms flail wildly.
She waltzes with the night.
I reach out, and I touch her hair
Which has fallen in her eyes.
She sees me for the first time now
And jumps back in surprise.
I grasp her hand and pull her near.
She’s powerless to my touch.
I feel her warmth flow into me.
I want her blood so much.
But I can bring no harm to her,
Despite my deadly urge.
As I stand there with my love,
My heaven and hell converge.
I cannot make her who I am
To live eternally,
Feeding off the innocent
As they die painfully.
And so I share a final dance
With her before I go.
I kiss her lips once, turn away,
And let my hunger grow.
Awaken to darkness, arise from the earth,
One vampire’s bite brings another one’s birth.
A vampire wakes with a passionate need
To hunt those alive to capture and feed
He stalks in the night like a primitive beast,
And what once was alive will soon be deceased.
So when the sunlight disappears from the sky,
Watch well the shadows if you don’t want to die.