|Vampire History & Stories|
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Are vampires emotionally dead creatures whose passions died along with that once beating lump of meat in their chests? Are they cursed to walk the avenues of night with nothing but the memories and echoes of mortal loves to sustain them through eternity?
If this is true, however, why do the myriad writings speak of the Kindred passions in the hunt, the embrace, the nightly Kiss that prolongs eternal life and brings ecstasy to victor and victim? Why are the Kindred described as feeling desire, remorse, lust, anger, hurt, jealousy, and a myriad of other emotional reactions? Obviously the death of the Vampire heart is a fiction, a lie perpetrated by the old upon the young to explain the ennui and failing humanity that comes with age and moral compromise as the Kindred marches further and further into eternal night, ever more distant from the memory of their mortal existence.
Vampires do suffer the cacophony of emotional turmoil - desire, anguish, lust, and heartbreak are all real companions on the endless dark road of the Embraced. Their bodies may no longer function the way they did in life, but the Vampire still feels as acutely as ever. Love, anger, hatred, lust, and even pleasure. Pleasure, the honeyed cup that passes to our lips in a plethora of forms, whether we are alive or undead. What is pleasure to the Vampire? What is erotic to the children of the night?
What form does Vampiric erotica take?
Many think of pleasures of the flesh when the word "erotica" enters the conversational fray. Carnal desires and gratification are the first, last, and only consideration of the average contemplation of erotica. While the pleasures of the flesh are far from the only form of erotica, this still brings us to an important question. Are carnal pleasures beyond the purvey of the undead?
Yes, and no.
Carnal desire and pleasure is largely a physiological response to stimuli, and is largely sub-conscious. What "turns us on" varies from culture to culture and person to person, but the physical responses to stimulation are universal - arousal. This is true of every relatively functional human being alive. But Vampires are no longer human, and certainly no longer alive in the medical sense. Their bodies do not function, hormones are not produced, their physical responses are truly dead in any erotically relevant terms. In short, autonomic arousal is impossible for the Kindred.
It is possible for a Vampire to simulate arousal through an expenditure of precious vitae. The male can ready himself to perform through an act of Will, and the female can be receptive through a similar moment of decision - although close examination of the "aroused" female Vampire is unwise, since it is blood with which she prepares herself for the act. Neither will respond involuntarily to any amount of physical or emotional stimuli, no Vampire will ever become physically "turned on" unless they choose to seem to be. In the end, it will always be a simulation, and not the hot, sweaty, and steamy coupling of their remembered mortality. The vampire body is cold and unyielding, stiff, dry and dead to the touch. Even more precious blood must be wasted for the Kindred to temporarily do away with these realities as well.
Your average Vampire is reticent to waste so much vitae just to simulate an act which will never give them the pleasure they once felt. They are even less eager to pursue this pointless exercise when they compare fruitless carnal couplings with the intensity and ecstasy of the Kiss - of feeding.
The Kiss has been described by a Vampire himself in this fashion: Ždrinking the finest champagne and the sensation of the most sensual lovemaking you have ever experienced. Overlay that with the rush the opium fiend feels as he takes that first breath on the pipe
A powerful description, and undeniably one that paints an image of the heights of pleasure. Does this mean that feeding becomes the only pleasure in a Vampires nightly existence?
No. Not necessarily.
Feeding may be the epitome of physical pleasure for the undead, but the realm of the physical is far from the summation of all things erotic. The mind and emotions play the largest part in what anyone responds to as erotica, and these faculties are still powerfully functional in every Kindred.
What is erotic and erotica quickly becomes a game of the mind and heart for the undead. Feeding brings them life and pleasure, but the means by which they garner their prey can become a large part of their new erotica.
For some, the hunt becomes an intense rush of pursuit, capture, and sanguine rape. They stalk their potential victims carefully, admiring them, lusting after them, imagining the final moments far in advance, building themselves towards a frenzy of desire. They sweep down upon their intended meal and drag them into their embrace, reveling in a viciously sensual coupling with an unwilling victim that is as ecstatic and erotic for the Vampire as any sexual release.
Others plan their feedings with deliberation, weaving elaborate seductions of the mind and heart that lead to the final willing - even eager - surrendering by their "lover" of both body and blood. The Vampire builds herself into an icon of sensuality and passion in the eyes of her paramour, while elevating her victim on a pedestal of desire. The final Kiss becomes an emotional and physical apex of pleasure for both. Victims of these grand seductions are often helplessly enslaved to the passions and desires of their dark "lover", while the Vampire becomes so intensely focused on her play of pleasure that she may come to love her mortal vessel, or at least believe she does.
There are many ways that this kind of substitute eroticism can be manifested, but beyond even this there are many ways for Vampires to be erotically active and sensual beings.
Beside the means and ways of feeding, there are other forms of erotica and gratification for the Kindred, each of them methods that reach to the mind and heart.
Many Vampires develop voyeurism of one type or another as they find their emotions piqued by visions of beauty. A Vampire does not need to be from the clan of the Toreador to develop a fascination for beautiful things, and in the realm of the erotic it is possible for many Kindred to develop a taste for "watching". This voyeurism may take the form of peeping in windows of favorite victims or enraptured ghouls. In the more brazen it may take the form of staging erotic or sexual "performances" from the romantic to the lurid that the Kindred oversees and watches openly. Or it may simply be long and sensual contemplation of a beautiful figure as he or she lounges before an admiring master.
A step beyond this voyeuristic pleasure is the vicarious enjoyment of sensuality with the intended victim or favored "partner". The Vampire gains their pleasure from watching the effect of their touch or caress on their paramour. This form of vicarious eroticism can take many guises, from the gently passionate lover that brings their partner to the heights of ecstasy through a night of erotic massage, to the sadistic dominant that tortures their submissive into orgasmic release. However it is accomplished, the Vampire participates only vicariously, drawing their own satisfaction from watching the emotional and physical heights of their mortal "lover".
Vampires are not reduced to sexless and emotionless creatures by the death of their mortal bodies, they are simply redefined, and are still capable of living richly erotic and sensual lives. The act of mere sex may no longer play a direct part in their eroticism, but this lack is by no means a death of sensuality, merely a change.
And to some - even a refinement.
The myths and legends of vampires have their basis in truth, even if many of those tales have strayed far from fact. The picture painted of the classic romantic vampire also springs from truth.
Save for those who actively toil to rid themselves of any feeling, Kindred are emotional creatures; perhaps even more driven by their emotions as humanitarian ethics begin to slip away with nothing to replace them. No longer do the human social protocols serve to mitigate the feelings of Kindred, and emotions like hate, fear, lust, and love are thrown into the light of startling clarity.
This treatise deals only with the machinations of romantic love, as it is the purest and most powerful positive emotion a vampire can experience. While the normal evolution of romance is changed for Kindred, the raw emotion of love is not. The immortal heart still falls prey to notions of passion and fulfillment, acceptance and invitation, grace and desire.
It is no secret that many human beings suffer under the notion that they are incomplete without a spouse or lover; that only through another can they be made whole. There is no magical property of the embrace that changes this quality, and those who experienced the driving need for companionship in life may still in death. Their search is made more difficult, perhaps even more tragically disappointing, by their new condition as it inhibits their ability to fulfill this need. They cannot seek love in the human quarter, for what human would love a creature that preys upon their very race? Even if love could transcend that perceived shortcoming, no such relationship could truly be shared without the human discovering the true nature of the vampire. Two options are left then: the vampire must risk both her own life and the life of her lover to the first Tradition, or her lover must be made a ghoul. Obviously the latter of the choices is more reasonable and more likely, and both may be happy with their romance for a time. As the slavery of the bond becomes apparent, however, this happiness will begin to ebb. The Kindred will eventually be left no choice but to realize that she does not know if it is love or simply the chains of her blood. The ghoul will come to realize that her choice to love has been taken away, perhaps eventually driven mad by the resentment of her situation warring with the love she can no longer escape. Inevitably the relationship turns sour, and the vampire must again look for the love that is the only thing that can make her whole. When this new love is located and likely also enthralled, she is often brought home to face the former lover she is replacing. So begins the jealous rivalry among the Kindred's thralls, and the self-defeating cycle is cemented.
Perhaps the vampire will come to realize the painful futility of this process before it ever begins, and shy away from considering humans as possible lovers. Perhaps she will instead turn to her own kind, seeking the redeeming grace of love in the arms of another Kindred.
Such a backbiting and deceitful lot are the kindred that it may be nigh impossible to find even one who inspires such dedication and devotion in a kindred heart without the aid of the blood bond. The possibility of romance is decreased even further when that devotion must be returned. There is the rare instance when it does happen though, and those who find their true love among night's children are undeniably in for a bumpy ride.
In the most basic terms, love is a weakness; a chink in even the most carefully constructed armor. A significant other is precisely the kind of leverage other Kindred wait for.
Perhaps you are too difficult to reach and influence, but your lover is not. Perhaps someone has the ability and drive to put puppet strings on your spouse that even you could not detect. If it comes to it, they can always take your loved one from you and use her as a bargaining chip, for you have already made it publicly known that whatever else you may care about, you care about her. Your lover will be the first target of those who seek to wound you or gain power over you without striking you directly.
There is also the strain of Kindred society on the relationship itself. If you are of different clans, pressure may come from your elders to break your ties with the rival bloodline. You might lose face and standing for consorting with the inferior clan at best, and be marked a traitor to your own clan at worst. Kindred who seek to weaken the position of both you and your spouse simply to assure that you cannot rise above them may orchestrate situations that will place you in direct competition or conflict with your loved one, knowing that the emotional and social turmoil that follows will keep you occupied for quite some time.
Eventually the physiology of Kindred will factor in, and the blood bond will become an issue. Kindred are known for their propensity for distrust, and perhaps neither in the relationship will wish to become enthralled to their lover. Conversely, perhaps both desire to bind their lover, to ensure their beloved cannot break their heart. There is also the danger of frenzy, and the horrible impact such a loss of control could have on the union.
If the relationship survives all these trials - the possible estrangement from clan, the perils of treachery from your enemies, the basic facts of unlife as a vampire - the Kindred may find herself in a long and somewhat happy relationship. That is, until ennui begins to set in. Vampires are notorious for boring easily, and the strange and meticulous obsessions they develop are proof of that fact. Kindred who overcome the tribulations of having a Kindred spouse often have drudgery to look forward to. They can likely anticipate the day when their lover no longer quickens them, no longer serves as a shining point of fascinating light in an otherwise dark night.
And so one or the other tires of their lover first, as synchronous boredom is almost too kind to hope for. In this way the vampire will likely create their greatest enemy, for the wrath of a Kindred heart scorned surely makes their human equivalents seem little more than pouting children in comparison. Amidst the myriad possibilities of war waged by their estranged lover, the Kindred must begin their search anew. But where to look now?
To seek refuge in mortal arms? No, the error in this choice is clear now. To seek acceptance in the kindred heart? No, her head still reels from the last undead lover. The Magi, the changing breed, the fae, perhaps the dead? No, for if she knows of them at all she knows there is no quarter for the waking dead in their ranks.
This may well be where derangements begin, where a frantic and desperate need that seems to have no hope of fulfillment drives the Kindred to ever more extreme ends. This may be the point when a simple desire becomes a consuming obsession that will color the vampire's every dealing and thought. Conversely, this may be the point where emotional isolation begins. Perhaps the Kindred has faith in the utter futility of the search for something she needs so badly, and contrives to remove herself from the possibility of experiencing the pain of failure. Perhaps this is the point when the Kindred heart and mind are torn, one seeking affection while the other rails against the very notion.
But not all Kindred harbor such a consuming obsession, and not all persons who receive the embrace buy into the dogma that one must have a significant other to make them complete. Some are perfectly content to be alone in that respect, feeling like they are in no way lessened by their single state. That does not, however, mean that these Kindred are immune to cupid's arrows. It does mean that these vampires are in a better position to see the folly of playing at games of love when other, more deadly games are constantly at hand.
The Kindred who suddenly finds themselves enamored of another is no doubt in for hours of self analyzation, wondering at the wisdom of exposing herself in such a fashion even while she does so. She may develop a strange love/hate relationship for the object of her affections, damning them for their alluring qualities even as she damns herself for falling victim to them. Perhaps she will decide to be content with secret admiration from afar, refusing to take notice of the fact that her favor for this Kindred or Kine is slowly being detected by her allies and enemies alike. Perhaps she will suffer months of personal failure, resolving to divorce herself from such paltry desires and having those resolutions shattered each time the irresistible other is near. If she is an older Kindred, become accustomed to the devious games of intrigue and manipulation so common among her kind, perhaps she will attempt to use these same games to draw the object of her desire close to her.
If the one that catches the kindred eye is human, fantasies of love and acceptance may inspire the kindred to embrace the mortal. This too usually ends terribly, as the loved one realizes what they have become and how closely bound they now are to their significant other. Worse off still is the Kindred whose love is embraced by another, for the sire may ask whatever they like in return for even allowing the enamored Kindred to speak to the object of their affections.
The potential disappointments and heartaches of kindred in love are as numerous as the means to manipulate and prey upon the weaknesses of others, and the victory of Kindred love is rare at best. The more that love becomes a driving force, the more difficult the Kindred's situation will become because of it. Love among the humans is never an easy thing to manage, and that one emotion can drive even the most stable and reasoning mind to acts of insanity or desperation. Among kindred, where extreme behavior is easily the norm, those acts can become equally extreme.
Whatever the root, whatever the cause, and whatever the target, love is a many headed beast that harries any Kindred who dare enter its lair. Once a vampire falls victim to such powerful emotions, they are likely not to see themselves free of it any time soon.