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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.
- 1 Life cycle
- 2 Stages of Vampirism
- 3 Vampire powers
- 4 Secondary Vampire Creatures
- 5 Identifying a Vampire
- 6 Vampire Diet
- 7 Vampire Diseases
- 8 Wamphyrii societies
- 9 Vampire Habitat
- 10 Vampire Psychology
- 11 Killing a vampire
- 12 External links
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 or bodily fluids from a vampire (usually sex or biting), 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 (via bite or sex), 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. Typically though weak for vampires, thralls are significantly stronger and with greater stamina than when they were human. Some thralls possess other abilities, usually ones characterized in their masters. Thralls are also psychically slaved to their creators. Vampires who are spore created or Bloodsons/daughters 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. Should it ascend then it will find life much longer and easier in general than general thralls do.
Occasionally it occurs that a vampire either during early infection, or through deliberate and intense self-control during intercourse, fathers mostly human children, however these children typically do have either esp, vampiric mindsets, or both. There are two known cases of vampires fathering mostly human offspring in the Lumley novels, one was Faether Ferenczy fathering Janos, who at least in his early years was human but with strong esp and a vampires lusts and amorality, and Jasef an old seer in the tribe of the Szagany Lidesci, whose father had been recently vampirized but hadn't yet shown symptoms.
Stages of Vampirism
Lesser vampiric creatures. Wamphyrii are well known for creating, either deliberately or by accident, lesser vampiric creatures. These include Siphoneers, flyers, warriors, werewolves, gas beasts, and multiple other types of creature. These creatures are sometimes accidents where a vampire attempts to feed on an animal and it escapes, or an animal becomes infected by spores, a leech, or an egg, and at other times they are deliberate acts of breeding a creature for a specific purpose.
Thralls. Thralls are the lowest form of humanoid vampire. While faster, stronger, and harder to kill than humans they pale in comparison to later types. These are the cannon fodder of Wamphyrii wars, often newly created. Their powers are generally limited, unless bred specifically for a task (such as being a telepathic watchman) in which case they might have significant abilities in the areas related to that task.
Lieutenants. The next phase are vampire Lieutenants, who are basically vampire thralls with increased attributes and abilities. Lieutenants often put on mass similarly to, though not as extensively as, lords do. Additionally their lifespans extend far beyond those of generic thralls, often extending into Centuries. They are stronger, larger, heal better, 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).
Eggson's/Eggdaughters. - Egg transformed offspring typically pass out when the egg is infused. They skip the thrall stage, as well as lieutenant stage and go to being full blown Wamphyrii, though not quite lords/ladies in their own right quickly, sometimes in a matter of days. They add on mass rapidly, as well as fully developing powers much more quickly than other means of transformation. They are prone to rapid development though the precise speed is variable, ranging from days to a few months or years for full transformation and final form to settle in.
Bloodsons/Blooddaughters. - These are born vampires, as such there is, as a rule, no transformation period, though their development is often slower than that of eggchildren in terms of powers. This is largely due to having to mature as opposed to being "born" with an already mature host. They are often weaker than egg children. Additionally, in some cases such as that of Janos Ferenczy, it is shown that powerful sires can control, at least to an extent, how much vampirism infects them.
Lords and Ladies. 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.
Vampires in Lumley's work enjoy a number of superhuman abilities. The specifics vary from vampire to vampire, but as a rule, the higher in vampire society or evolution, the more powerful a vampire becomes. Age also brings greater skill in use of the powers they possess as a rule.
Some of the powers vampires possess in the world Lumley created are as follows:
The ability to conjure a mist to hide
Metamorphosis for fighting or flight
It is not uncommon for lords and ladies to specifically breed certain thralls, or shape their transformation, for specific powers such as telepathy. However, the mutation caused by vampirism is not entirely controllable even by the greatest Wamphyri. This fact leaves a certain element of chance to what the end result may be.
Secondary Vampire Creatures
Warriors. Created by the Wamphyrii as their primary battle creatures warriors can best be summed up as living flying biological tanks. Rivalling small tanks in size, built with armored hides for war, and the ability to fly through the use of gas bladders and exhausts these creatures are armed with pincers, claws, mandibles, and every possible biological tool to inflict carnage at their lords command. Warriors typically eat raw meat and have very limited intellect.
Flyers. Flyers are aerofoil, manta like flying beasts that the Olden and Turgosheim Wamphyrii breed as a means of transportation for themselves and their troops. While Flyers are typically lightly armored at most there have been exceptions which were more heavily armored and even armed. Even these armed flyers are no match for even small warriors though. Flyers as a rule are mostly fed vegetable matter.
Siphoneers. Used to transport water from the wells in the Aeries of starside lords and run it through pipes throughout the aerie.
Gas Beasts. Gas beasts are used to create heat and light for the aeries, being fed grains and bred to generate massive amounts of methane, they are the fuel that lights and warms the Aerie's of starside.
Werewolves. Infected foxes and wolves can shapeshift, assuming a somewhat human appearance to lure human prey, however, despite carrying leeches and eggs, they are not true Wamphyrii. They have cunning but not sapient intelligence, and as such are a lesser form of vampiric creature.
When deliberatly bred these creatures are in general bred within certain "rules" of Vampire society. Limits on intelligence, size, etc. are commonplace, due to raw materials, the prevention of an uncontrolled arms race, and also the wisdom of not bringing anything into the world which you cannot put down. While the rules are rarely broken it should be noticed that occasionally they are, with results often being horriffic even by the most grotesque of standards.
Identifying a Vampire
Thralls and vampires can pass for humans if their appearance is 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 or yellow 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, however all vampires are omnivores to some extent or another. Specifics of diet vary from faction to faction and individual to individual based on tastes, faction, and circumstances.
There are three different "factions" of Wamphyri, each adhering to different general dietary standards though. See vampire society's section below for further discussion.
Leprosy - the hundred years death. Leprosy is particularly feared by vampires as it is typically a slow, but unavoidable death by depletion. Infected vampires can, in some cases, take centuries to die from it, growing ever weaker and more ostracized as they do.
Bubonic Plague - As seen in the Jake Cutter trilogy, and in Necroscope the Lost Years, Bubonic Plague is also known to be lethal to vampires, though slower than how it progresses in humans.
Other possible infections - It is possible, though unconfirmed, that other diseases could infect a vampire. Given their healing ability though such diseases would need to be particularly virulent and resistant to immune response, POTENTIALLY including Syphillus, AIDS, and the common cold, though in the latter case the vampire could easily compensate by simply causing the release of additional hormones.
Agromaly - Uncontrolled growth, either in general such as with Fess Ferenc, or in specific body parts, such as with Vasagi the Suck before he tore out his jaw and formed his probiscus, is a common "defect" amongst the Wamphyrii.
Uncontrolled metamorphisis - While rare some vampires over time lose control of their metamorphosis, this condition is not fatal directly but can reduce a vampire so afflicted to a blob like creature with little or no skeletal structure, and unable to pass for human or beast. This makes the afflicted vampire uniquely vulnerable, and complicated feeding for it.
Dwarfism - while rare amongst the wamphyrii it is not unheard of for some lords, especially those descended from trog wamphyrii, to be far shorter than average. While they would still be average height for a man, they would, among wamphyrii, have to be considered dwarf.
Beastial traits - Some wamphyrii, without being lycanthropes, show extreme signs of beastial traits such as bat like ears or muzzles like wolves. This may be due to distant ancestry from an infected animal, or simply due to the leech adapting features its host considers beneficial or desirable.
Lycanthropy - Vampires really have two types of Lycanthropy in Lumleys world. The first type, an infected wolf or fox, is discussed under lesser vampiric creatures. A true Lycanthrope Wamphyrii is a humanoid vampire whose sire - either by blood, egg, or bite, was an infected wolf/fox, or was descended from one. Examples of this include Radu Lycan, Canker Canison, and their thralls and lieutenants.
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. The Olden Wamphyrii are mostly in control of their world, having cowed MOST of the szagany (gypsy) human population. However it should be noted that some tribes, such as the Szagany Lidesci, fought back fiercely, even killing some Lieutenants and lords on occasion so their rule was not entirely unchallenged.
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. Zolteist Wamphyrii had completely cowed the szagany in their region into subservience to the tithe system and as such did not have to hunt at all anymore.
Earth Born Wamphyri
Earth Born Wamphyri are descended from the banished lords/ladies of starside, as such they philosophically resemble the Olden Wamphyrii, but have lost much of their "history" and are far more solitary owing to the more vulnerable status of Wamphyrii on earth due to shorter days and higher levels of technology among humans. Blood and human flesh are the preferred food, but taken in secrecy and thus in some degree of moderation, as the earth vampires never had the numbers to take control of humanity in the way the Olden Wamphyrii did in Starside. As even the strongest castles owned by any earth vampire than a starside lords aerie is (not least because of the shorter nights) earth vampires were forced to learn that secrecy and longevity were inescapeably intertwined.
Whether in starside or on earth the Wamphyrii seek luxurious, and fortified, homes. Seeking this for safety from enemies as well as the luxuries provide the key difference lies in extent. Starside Vampires reside in Aeries which are built to the maximum size and impressiveness the Lord can support, on Earth Vampires live in castles and/or mansions, but tend to favor small fortresses which are difficult to attack but draw less attention as opposed to lavish palaces.
Castles - Earth vampires tend to prefer small castles and fortresses in isolated mountain ranges. Tibet, Romania, Russia, Greece, Sicily, Australia. Invariably these are built in isolated areas, with heavily fortified defenses. This serves the purposes of remaining relatively anonymous, as well as maintaining defenses. Additionally by building into the sides of mountains and cliffs it assists Wamphyrii in attaining flight in the event that they need to retreat swiftly from their home.
Aeries - Starside vampires in ancient history began construction of the Aeries of starside. These natural castles were much larger, and built over generations, using both natural and metamorphic construction. Using various creatures in the maintenance of these giant stacks, they were large beyond the concept of even the most ambitious human structures on earth. Their vast labyrinths and structures supported hundreds, perhaps thousands of thralls at any give time as well as lieutenants and the Wamphyrii themselves and all their myriad beasts.
Wamphyrii psychology is based around a combination of their intensified emotional states and fear. As a predatory species they are without doubt apex predators, but seldom social with equals, and therefore constantly fearful of anyone they consider a threat. This results in various behaviors, depending on circumstances, ranging from murdering threats, to hiding their nature, to avoidance or others of their own kind except for slaves, and even in many cases to not even being able to trust their own slaves. Lesser vampires also are frequently ambitious to rise in rank, partly out of lust for power, but also partly from desire to be less subject to the abuse higher ranking vampires heap on lesser. Vampire society rather resembles the pack structure of wild social predators. Needing social interaction, but also within rigid structures of control and dominance, and fearful of rivals.
Some members of the Wamphyrii, especially early on, strive to maintain as much of their humanity as possible. While this usually does not last, it is possible, if ones will is strong enough, to control the vampire urges to a remarkable degree. Examples of this include Turgo Zolte, The Dweller, Harry Keogh, and others.
Vampires in Lumley's novels are most often bisexual to some extent and frequently engage in various forms of incest and abuse with their offspring either by blood or by egg.
Among Wamphyrii culture the most desired treat is to eat another vampire's leech, or drink the blood of another vampire, so caniballism is also common.
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.