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Lumley has reinterpreted the traditional vampire legend. In his stories, a vampire is a leech-like parasite from an alien world which forms a symbiotic relationship with a host creature, usually a human or sometimes a canine such as a wolf or fox (werewolf). While the symbiosis puts great demands on the host (such as requiring to feed on blood to survive), the benefits include increased strength, speed, and resilience, a seemingly infinite lifespan that stretches into millennia, magnified senses, base emotional stimulation, access to latent psychic power such as ESP or telepathy, metamorphic flesh allowing flight or disguise, and certain narcotic effects.
The vampires in the story have great control over people who are weak-minded, and could easily dominate the Earth if allowed to achieve their full potential. They also have the ability to produce lesser breeds of vampires for different purposes.
The vampiric leech begins its original life cycle as a fungus similar to a mushroom, formed from the decomposed flesh and fats of a deceased vampire. When a suitable host is detected (the ‘mushrooms’ seem to have some form of awareness), the caps burst open, releasing a cloud of spores which are inhaled (or otherwise absorbed) by the victim. The transformation is slow, as the spores must first adapt the body to suit the growth of a leech.
The only other means of infection are from direct transmission from a vampire, or by absorbing a leech’s egg, and becoming a full-blown "eggson" (or –daughter), or to be born the BloodSon/BloodDaughter of a vampire.
The process is slow, and the actual time between infection and full-blown vampirism varies greatly from host to host. Early symptoms include an aversion to light, red tinting of the eyes, a propensity for rare or uncooked meat, as well as developing allergies to silver and garlic.
When the body has grown enough to undergo the first change, or if the infecting vampire has personally seen to their becoming infected, the host enters a catatonic ‘death’ state. They awaken a thrall, and are psychically bound to their creators. This stage is skipped by Egg children, blood Children, and spore transformed, though in the case of egg children they often lose consciousness for a few hours due to the pain of the egg merging with their internal physiology.
This becomes the first stage of vampirism. Thralls possess enhanced speed, strength, and agility, but require more feeding than full-grown vampires. Some thralls possess other abilities, usually ones characterized in their masters. Thralls are also psychically slaved to their creators, unless they are transformed via spores or a leech’s egg. Vampires who are spore created or Bloodsons or are created with an egg skip this phase and go directly to full fledge “-son” stage.
At this point, the vampire takes one of two paths. It either ascends into a Lieutenant, or stops developing and remains as a thrall. This is usually based on the predilection of their master, and the strength of the host.
The next phase are vampire Lieutenants, who are basically vampire thralls with increased attributes and abilities.
They are stronger, larger, and live much longer. In some cases a Lieutenant can even develop into full Wamphyri without any further infusion (such as an egg) if allowed long enough (usually centuries).
The most powerful of vampires are known as Lords and Ladies, and are referred to as true “Wamphyri.” They possess a wide range of abilities: enhanced transformational skills, psychic powers, extreme physical prowess, and a host of other skills. They have fully adult Leeches. They have exaggerated effects from sunlight, garlic and silver, but are more capable of recovery (unless the leech itself is damaged). These are truly monstrous creatures.
Vampire leeches produce only a single egg in their lifetime, except for "mothers," who are highly feared due to their ability to produce a prodigious number of eggs and thus create many true eggsons/daughters to compete with the existing Wamphyri. However, becoming a "mother" is also a highly feared phenomenon, because the leeches of "mothers" (according to the legend of the one vampire "Mother") produce eggs until the vampire was drained to a lifeless husk.
Unless the leech is fully destroyed, the vampire remains immortal, and can regenerate itself multiple times, although the regeneration process from grievous injuries leaves the creature more vampire than humanoid.
The leech itself is a snake-like creature, resembling a shovel-headed worm with fangs and no eyes. If fed, the leech can survive without a host, but lacks high-level intelligence. Leeches can leave doomed hosts (only in extremely dire situations) and seek new hosts, including animals, but animals can only be vampirized so long before they die.
Identifying a Vampire
Thralls and vampires can pass for humans in many cases, provided their appearances have been left unaltered. Here are the most obvious signs of an infected person:
- Aversion to sunlight, garlic and silver.
- Eating raw or extremely rare meats in large quantities.
- Red eyes. In some cases, the eyes also glow.
- Exaggerated jaw lines, and pointed teeth, especially canines.
- Cold, clammy skin.
Psychics can identify infected persons of any stage by a thing known as "mindsmog." This clouds the vampire's mind, and makes their thoughts unreadable in most cases.
The mainstay of the Wamphyri diet is blood.
There are two different "factions" of Wamphyri, both adhering to different dietary standards though.
Olden Wamphyri diet consists of blood and human flesh in copious amounts. For dining and the entertaining of another Lord or Lady, roasted quail, wolf, or smoked hearts, and the occasional small child roasted over an open spit are considered a delicacy and looked upon highly. Additionally the Wamphyri diet includes normal human fare, such as fruits, honey, and wine.
Zolteist Wamphyri out of Turgosheim, allot themselves human flesh and blood on an equal basis, a "tithe system," the equality of which is based on social stature. Standard fare is more typical to be roasted wolf, or other animals, cooked in its own blood along with honey, fruits, grains, and wine. Blood and flesh are considered a delicacy as they strive to maintain a modicum of their former, more human, selves.
Killing a vampire
The only sure ways to kill a vampire are beheading or complete immolation, a combination of the two being most desirable.
Given enough time starvation or suffocation MAY also kill a vampire. Vampires can be killed with normal means such as gunfire, but the level of violence required is several orders of magnitude greater than for a human, additionally in such cases the leech can often still escape from the host.
- Silver causes a paralytic effect on vampires, and can leave burn-like wounds and scars.
- Garlic causes tremendous nausea, inflammation of infected areas, and debilitating illness, especially if ingested or absorbed.
- Sunlight causes explosive immolation to the affected body parts.
- Fire is a powerful tool, as vampiric flesh is noticeably weak against it.
- Piercing the leech with a some sort of object, often a wooden stake, will trap the vampire until the offending object is removed.
Vampires are especially susceptible to leprosy, and it is one of only two known mortal conditions capable of killing a vampire (of any stage), the other being the black death which affected Radu Lykan, one of the first Wamphryi. Vampiric flesh is eaten by leprosy at a nearly visible pace, and once the Leech is infected, death is assured. It is a very slow and painful way to die.
Even after immolation, vampire ashes are still dangerous. Strong Wamphyri maintain their psychic powers to some degree after death, and if enough of the vampire's body remain in the soil, the vampire can eventually be reborn in the fungus stage, with consciousness intact.
Vampirism is highly infectious, and even small touches can eventually cause conversion.
In the case of Lady Karen, if denied sustenance long enough, the Leech may make a desperate bid for survival and flee the human host, leaving them in a mostly human state (presumably, if the leech fled a host in a transformed or mutated form, the host would stay in that form). The loss of the leech and the enhanced emotional states it provided can cause extreme psychological damage, and a grave feeling of weakness, emptiness and inferiority. The exact lifespan of a leech-less vampire is unknown.
There is also the exceptional case of Vasagi the Suck, whose leech was killed but he survived, taking on a mutated form much akin to his dead leech.
These are the full fledged Wamphyri that were spoke of at least once:
- Angelo Francezci Books 9-10
- Antonio Francezci Books 9-10
- Arkis Leperson (Diredeath) Book 5
- Bela Manculi Book ~6,~11
- Belath Book 3
- Black Boris Books 6-8
- Bonnie-Jean Mirlu Books 9-10
- Boris Dragosani Book 1
- Canker Canison Books 6-8
- Carmen Who-Should-Not-Be Books 7-8
- Corlis Book 3
- Daham Drakesh Books 9-10
- Devetaki Skullguise Books 6-8
- Dramal Doombody Book 3
- The Dweller Books 3,~4,5
- Egon and Karl Drakul Books 9-10
- Engor Sporeson Book ~6
- Eran Painscar Books 6-8
- Eygor Killglance Books 6-8
- Faethor Ferenczy Books 1-4
- Fess Ferenc Books 3,5
- Francesco Francezci Books 9-10
- Freyda Ferenc Books 6,11
- Gorvi the Guile Books 6-8
- Grigis Book 3
- Grigor Hakson (The Lech) Book 6
- Harry Keogh Books 4,5
- Ion Ferenc Books 5
- Janos Ferenczy Book 4
- Lady Karen Books 3,5
- Karl the Crag Book ~6
- Kehrl Lugoz Book 5
- Lagula Ferenczy Book ~6
- Lascula Longtooth Book 3
- Lesk the Glut Book 3
- Lom Halfstruck Books 6-8
- Luigi Castellano Books 11-13
- Maglore the Mage Books 6-8
- Malinari the Mind Books 11-13
- Mendula Zolson (Farscry) Book ~6
- Menor Maimbite Book 3
- Morgis Griefcry Books ~5
- Nestor Lichloathe Books 6-8
- Nonari the Gross Books 3,~6
- Pedar Sloughskin Book ~6
- Radu Lykan Books 9-10
- Radu Arkis Book 5
- Shaidar Shaigispawn Book ~5
- Shailar the Hagridden Books ~5,~6
- Shaitan the Unborn Books 5,~6
- Shaithag the Harrower Books ~5,~6
- Shaithar Shaitanson (AKA Turgo Zolte) Books 5
- Shaithis Books 5,~6
- Shaithos - Longarm Books ~5,~6
- Sheilar the Slut Books ~5,~6
- Siggi Dam Books 7,8
- Spiro Killglance Books 6-8
- Szwart Books 11-13
- Lord Tangiru Books 6-8
- Thador Thornskull Book ~6
- Thibor Ferenzcy Books 1,2
- Tori Trogson Book ~6
- Turgo Zolte (AKA Shaithar Shaitanson) Book 6
- Turgo Toothbreaker Book ~6
- Ursula Torspawn Books 6-8
- Lady Valeria Books 6-8
- Vasagi the Suck Books 6-8
- Vavara Books 11-13
- Vlad Zolson Book ~6
- Volse Pinescu Books 3,5
- Vormulac Unsleep (Taintspore) Books 6-8
- Lord Wamus Books 6-8
- Wran the Rage Books 6-8
- Wratha the Risen Books 6-8
- Yulian Bodescu Book 2
- Zack Shornskull Books 6-8
- Zindevar Cronesap Books 6-8
- Zol Zolteson Book ~6
- Zun the Lips Book 7
The '~' symbol means the name is just mentioned.