The Truth About Vampires

Dear Herald,

Vampires are considered by many to be nothing more than kender tales. I admit I once counted myself among them. Recently I had an opportunity to sit down with a mysterious stranger and listen to his tale of how vampires came to be.

This stranger joined me as I made camp for the night. At first I mistook him for one of the dark-skinned Kagonesti; however, I soon realized my error as he stepped closer into the firelight. This stranger had midnight blue skin, silver eyes and a face to rival any elf’s. His style of dress was what one would expect for courtly life. His appearance immediately led me to think of descriptions I’d heard about the mythical Irda. Naturally I was excited.

He took a seat near the fire and introduced himself as Kharsten. A million and one questions flashed through my brain but like a giggly elf maiden, the one first out of my mouth was "Are you an Irda?"

Kharsten laughed. The laugh was eerily cold and devoid of true emotion. It frightened me. He didn’t answer the question, but instead asked one of his own, "What do you know of vampires?"

I drew on my rather limited knowledge of the subject, limited in having never studied them in depth as they are said to be only myth and legend; stories as the old ones would say, fit only to frighten children. I related what I knew which wasn’t much.

Kharsten laughed again. This time it really unnerved me. I felt as if I was sitting down with Chemosh himself and having a discussion. I resolved to make the best of it and learn what I could from this mysterious stranger.

"What you and other so-called sages know of vampires is wrong," said Kharsten. "You believe them to be mere legends, but dragons too were once considered just legends. As with dragons; vampires too are real."

The passion behind Karsten’s words lent credence to what he said; however, it also terrified me. For all I knew Kharsten was a vampire.

"You asked if I was an Irda," said Kharsten. "That’s insulting. To equate me with one of those blood traitors is unthinkable. My bloodline is pure! I can trace my lineage back to the founding of Takar, before the traitorous Igraine brought the wrath of the gods down upon us. But that is a tale for another time. Allow me to tell you some of what occurred after the Fall."

Kharsten told me of the Curse levied on the ogres by Paladine. This curse led to the fall from grace of the ogres. The ogres lost their beauty and their power becoming more and more misshapen with each passing generation until they resembled the creatures we know today.

Apparently at first the ogres attempted to offset the curse, by killing any infant born with the slightest deformity or imperfection. While such actions served to temporarily sustain the purity of the ogres; it was unsustainable. Thousands of infants were killed in the name of racial purity, but with few ogres being born of pure blood, their population began a steep decline.

Kharsten said that as the culling of deformed infants continued, most ogres set about searching for some means of preserving their own bloodlines. Many things were tried to break the curse, but to no effect. It wasn’t long before the ogres turned to the gods for a solution. Chemosh answered the call.

Chemosh created the first vampires from the ogres. The transformation preserved the forms and powers of the ogres, but at the cost of their lives. The vampires were freed from one curse only to be afflicted with another curse – thirst un-ending. The curse required of the vampires to feed upon their fellow ogres for sustenance further reducing their numbers.

The other gods saw what Chemosh was doing and each wanted vampire servants of their own. The secret was shared but each god put his own stamp of approval and developed new strains of vampirism. Some such as the Nosferatu of Morgion seemed to be especially susceptible to the curse of Paladine and became extremely misshapen over time.

Realizing the number of unliving ogres was starting to out number the living; the vampire houses came together in a moment of unity and forbade further feeding on and conversion of other ogres via the Accords of Blood. The vampires instead turned to their former slaves for sustenance and servants – humans.

According to Kharsten, things continued much like this for a thousand years. However, whatever unity had been achieved with the signing of the Accords, was short lived as the vampire houses began warring among each other. Evil once again turned on itself; this time in the name of blood purity, with each vampire house claiming itself as the "true" vampire strain.

The vampires likely would have survived even this squabble had not the other races gotten involved. For the first time ever humans and elves came together to wage a war of genocide on the vampires. There were successful to a large degree and many vampire houses were wiped out. Lesser members of each vampire house survived though to carry on the legacy. Kharsten says some of the vampire elders are said to still be in hiding.

After the disappearance of the vampires, the ogres continued their fall. Nothing they did could abate the curse; though many attempts were made.

Kharsten told me about a particular vampire he’d heard rumors about. He claims that the Blue Lady, Kitiara uth Matar was turned into a Pennaggolan after her death. He described the Pennaggolan as a vampire whose corruption in life cause its insides to rot, but leaving a flawless outer shell. He says that when it feeds its head detaches and drags the entrails with it to strangle its victims. Worse he tells of Pennagolan Lords that can animate their corpses and attack on two fronts. I pray these are just rumors, but I have no reason to doubt Kharsten’s words.

After writing all this down, Kharsten turned to me and said, "And now Kaithanelas, you die!"

Kaithanelas Nightsinger
Frostkolt 6, 432 AC

Found pinned to the body of a dead elf discovered near the town of Pashin.

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    — Raph Tanglemop, The Dawning of a New Age