Hello again. You’ve come back. It’s nice
and dark tonight, but you can hear the Anarch gangs on their motorcycles.
Occasionally there’s wildlife that skitters past and you always have to
wonder is that a Nosferatu commanding a rat? Is it a Gangrel commanding a dog or a wolf? These are the risks you must take.
This is a populated world and it is very rare that a domain holds but a single Cainite, including this one, small as it may be.
Something we need to discuss, something I am told that you do not yet understand,
is the nature of being a vampire. What is a Kindred, a Cainite, a vampire?
What is a blood sucking leech but a walking parasite? Surely there is more to
it than that. After all, we could not have existed for
thousands of years if all we were were base predators. Surely, surely there’s
more to it. It is a problem that has vexed many philosophers among out kind.
Many Cainites have tormented themselves, twisted their Beasts into tatters,
wondering “is there more to it than the nightly grind of having to feed?” And we
have to hope that there is. What is a vampire? A vampire is Hunger incarnate.
It would be all too simple to say that we hunger just for the blood, but let
us focus on the blood first. No doubt you have sampled your first, your second,
probably your third taste. Sometimes you may have felt like you could not control
that Hunger. That is natural. That will always be there with you. When a vampire
claims they have mastered their Hunger I say they have merely found another
crutch. They have found another way of venting that Beast, that animal instinct inside that compels them to do something torturous
and sinful. No. All vampires suffer the Hunger. Every action you take, especially
when you are called to rouse your vitae and compel it into some kind of action.
For instance, you of your clan it is likely that at some point or other you
would have tried to sway the emotions of a mortal, maybe to make them come back
with you to a suitable place for feeding, or to pick their pockets a little easily,
maybe you just wanted to borrow some cash, and so you got in their head, you made
them feel like you were their best friend. When you did that there was a
stirring, a quaking, a quivering inside you, the kind of which you would feel
back when you are alive, when you were going for some intense job interview,
maybe on your wedding day, maybe the first time you made love. That in-built
fear. Maybe it was the fear you felt when you saw your dad, your father, patriarch who used to hit you for reasons you never understood as a child, but you would go
to him when he was an old man, a degenerate, a decrepit husk in a
wheelchair, and yet you still feel that shiver of fear inside, something so
innate, something so tied to the soul. That is our Hunger. We cannot truly suppress
it, we can only sate it. And so whenever we are compelled to do something,
whenever we force our vitae into some grand action, we feel the need to feed. We can suppress that need to feed at great cost or we can indulge it at the earliest
possible opportunity. That has caught many vampires out, but it can also make a
prince of a vampire. It can make a noble of a vampire. A
vampire that is respected with an Elysium. The vampire who can control his
Hunger at least to a limited degree is like the vampire that can control its
Beast, because it is more likely that vampire can hold title, can hold position,
can garner respect and not be prone to flying off into frenzy, into compulsion
as defined by their clan.
Let us talk of compulsions briefly.
All clans have them.
We all belong to different clans, different bloodlines, and all of these
sets of vampires, we all fear a different stirring, a different compulsion to act
in a certain way when we suppress what is base and innate and desirable. That is
when the Antediluvian takes over our body and forces us into action. This is
not the same as our clan banes. We all suffer them, we all suffer curses, and if
you believe some rumours they were curses levied upon us by our Antediluvians. If you believe others they were levied upon us by Caine. Some, some believe that it was God that cursed us each with a weakness, but of course you would have
to be of a certain religion and a certain faithful bent to believe that.
What is definitely the case is we all suffer our own frailty. Some clans like
to style it as a strength. The Ventrue for instance like to say that their
refined taste is, well, a strength. They will not feed off a peasants blood. They
will not feed off diseased blood. They will only feed off this blood, no matter that
this Ventrue only feeds from this type of vessel, in this event or only feeds from that. They claim that is because they have refinement. To the rest of us, we say
no, it is because you are too weak. You must maintain a herd comprised
entirely of that kind of vessel to feel safe and secure and yes, they can feed
off others, but they do not get nearly as much nourishment, nearly as much
satiation when they do so.
The Brujah, they have tendency to frenzy, to lose
control, to rage like a werewolf because perhaps they are more in tune with their
Humanity, their Beast than any other clan. The Brujah when they call it a strength
they say it is because they still have that spark of life within them. They say
it is because they still know what it was to be human. They still feel passion,
they still feel love, they still feel anger. They’re not subdued walking
corpses like some of us. We see it as a liability. Is it any reason so many of
them have gone Anarch? It is because the Camarilla will not have them. And so it
goes, all clans have their banes, all clans have their weaknesses. Some
consider themselves stronger for them, but they are fooling themselves. We must
manage them, we must handle them, but I talk of frenzy and I talk of the Beast and that
may be something with which you are unfamiliar.
When you were first created
as one of us, when you were first Embraced and you awoke to the night, did
you not feel the need to just tear your sire’s throat out? And when you saw the
thick heavy heady pulse of the first mortal you came across in your new
form, you just wanted to eat them alive, rip their heart out, and squeeze it and
make their end painful! “Bring a savage end to that blood bag,” that was your
Beast talking, and your Beast can have come in many forms. Your beast is a
predator. It is the predator inside you. Some are decadent, some are sadistic, some are pure savagery. But we all have a Beast and we are all
beholden to that Beast, and some of us try and put that Beast on a chain. Some try to command it. You look to the Sabbat, the Sabbat believe they have
full control over their Beasts, but all I have to do is point at the Sabbat and
say “well, is that truly the case?” The Sabbat are after all the sect to indulge in
the most acts of blood sacrifice, they are the sect that devours each other, that
are prone to diablerie, they are the sect that run loose on the mortal populace
and tear them limb from limb for fun, and they are the ones who control their
Beast… They say they control their Beast because they feed it when they choose to,
whereas the Camarilla, they just try and keep it bottled up, and we all know what
happens when you bottle up all that stress or anger. All that rage, eventually
it spills out at an inopportune moment, causes embarrassment. So long, Camarilla
There are some Kindred who believe themselves masters of the Beast,
and I have known some, some who have never frenzied, not for centuries. Some
claim they have found a state called Golconda.
Golconda is a semi-mythical
state I have heard many talk of. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts, a state of
enlightenment where you are perfectly in harmony with Beast and Hunger, where you
may even be able to see the sun and tolerate it for a little while without
it scorching the skin from your bones. They call this Golconda. That after great
acts of sacrifice… Self-sacrifice… Of great act of wisdom, of being in touch
with one’s inner Humanity, you could finally find Golconda.
Well that is a nice dream, and whether it is true or not, let us assume that it is,
because it is nice to have hope and some of us pine for the time that we were
mortal. Is Golconda truly a fine state? So few of us can reach i,t but when we do
reach it, is it true that you become an enlightened, holy, pure individual? Or is
it more the case that you become a shark? No longer driven by a savage Beast, you
are a fish or a reptile. You are cold- blooded. You just do what you will. You
still drink blood, you still manipulate the kine, but now you have full faculties.
You can’t blame the Beast, you can’t blame the Hunger, you do it because you
want to. Is Golconda utopia or is it true sin? I am no scholar on these things.
I’m a scholar on many things but Golconda has always seemed a little too
ephemeral for me.
So I’m asked “what is a vampire biologically?” Now, that is a
subject I do know a little about. How do we walk, how do we talk, how do we think?
Our bodies are dead. If you cut us, we do not bleed. We do not
leak blood. We of course suffer the same harm to flame and corrosive material and the like that a
mortal would, but many instruments of harm: Bullets, blades, hammers… they barely leave a dent on our dead skin. How does the
biology work? How do you make it make sense if we are anything other than
supernatural? For centuries I have studied the existence,
the place in the natural cycle of vampires. Are we a natural element on
this Earth, or are we entirely supernatural? Which part of our bodies
are still living to compel us? I have vivisected my share of vampires to find
out what works and what doesn’t, and I am sure the Second Inquisition have done
the same thing, and we all come to the same horrifying conclusion: We are dead
bodies. While the heart clearly contains some great spiritual power because
putting a stake through it does paralyse us, it does not kill us. Yes, if you
decapitate a vampire you will render the body to ash. The skull may survive in
some strange circumstances, but somehow the severing of the head is enough to
kill, so what is it about the head? What is it about the brain? I have cracked
open a vampire’s skull to see whether the brain is active and the rest is not.
The brain is inactive like every other organ in the vampire’s body. It is
withered, it is a husk, it is deprived of moisture. Another question:
Where does the vitae go when we drink? Does it just sit in our empty stomach
until we have cause to use it? Do we absorb it holistically, like a sponge? Does it sit stagnant in our veins? Or is it like so many other things:
Supernatural, ephemeral, it appears when we call to it, it disappears when we do
not. That is a great question. Something I would long for a true answer to and
something I feel we will never find. I have seen vampires bloated like ticks,
abdomen swollen after feeding in a reverie. I have seen vampires fully
fed who look exactly the same as they did before.
It is a great mystery, our kind, and the biology thereof, but I enjoy studying it, I enjoy seeking mysteries, I enjoy seeking their answers, and if you find any of those
answers do tell me.
What is our place in this universe? It is a great question and
many philosophers have stumbled over it. Do we have a role? Did God put us here to
test the kine? If you believe in such things, or are — to go back to my original
point — we just parasites designed to ride on the bellies of mortal
civilisation, drink from them, pass on when they die? I suppose the only way of
finding out is being around long enough to find out what our fate will be. Maybe
when Gehenna comes and we meet our time of judgement, we will find out what God,
what the world has planned for us, but I have a feeling, a fear it is
significantly more mundane. When the world ends, we will end. When we end, the mortals will not miss us. There will be no mourning of our passing, because we hide.
We do not exist according to most kine, and perhaps it is better that way.
Some Kindred like to claim that they are immune to feelings of love, of passion,
lust, but that is clearly not true. If a vampire’s capable of hatred, and a
vampire is capable anger, and we clearly are, of fear, of loathing, paranoia, why
should we be denied those feelings so often associated with positivity? We can
feel loved. We can attach ourselves to companions without the heady rush of
vitae bonding us. We can know love, but can love last as
long as vampires last? Can we feel lust? Of course we can feel lust. Just because
we are dead, does not mean we still lack the attractions that we gained in life.
You could take it to its natural extreme and look at obsession, and say vampires
do not feel these healthy emotions, they feel obsessed, fixated. It is a jaded and a
cynical view of the way we act, but there may be some truth to it. When I
cast my mind back to my relationship with my prince for so many years, was
that loyalty? Was it love? Was it obsession? Was he sneaking me vitae to guarantee my slavery? I cannot know. All I know is that I diligently served
and stood by his side until he had no further use for me. What is a vampire?
There are many pithy responses to this. The vampire is a human being with many
grave and terrible flaws. With terrible urges that we struggle to control. That
some mortals would look upon and think we should not be on this Earth, but this
Earth is ours just as much as it is theirs.
Well, they will not come to know us; we know them. While they will not feed from
us, we will feed from them, because we have every right to survive. We have just
as much right to survive as they do. Whether you believe we are cursed by God
or blessed by Caine, that does not matter. We exist and until some almighty omniescent figure strikes us all down we will continue to exist and we will continue
to prey on the weak, as we are predators.
What are you? You are
a neonate with much to learn. What am I?
An elder with great experience.
But in the end we are the same as we were before we were Embraced, just with
diabolical hungers sinful urges.