Vampires and Lycanthropes

The connection between vampires and werewolves is an accident of history.

Way back in the early days of cinema – the 30’s and 40’s – Universal Studios made a several horror movies, such as Dracula and The Wolf Man. As time went on, Universal made more movies, some of them involving characters from previous ones. Sometimes characters from different series met, in an early example of a cinematic universe.

This early cinematic universe is the reason vampires and werewolves are linked in the popular imagination. However, looking at a list of movies that are considered to be a part of the franchise, I’m not seeing much particular interaction between werewolves and vampires in them. But there are other reasons for the two creatures to be linked.

An element that The Wolf Man introduced into the myth of the werewolf was transmission. The story of The Wolf Man is the story of a man that was bitten by a monster and realizing that he was turning into a monster himself, making it an early example of personal horror. This is similar to how vampires are said to reproduce, an element introduced in the novel by Bram Stoker.

Another thing that was in the novel was Dracula’s ability to turn into a wolf. This wasn’t something Stoker made up; vampires turning into wolves was an element in then contemporary Eastern European folklore, with the vrykolakas of Greece being a notable example. But the thing is, Dracula had a host of magical powers, and his literary descendants have followed suit. So much so, that some works postulate multiple species of vampire, each with their own unique power set, with only the theme of parasitism to unite them.

This parasitism is inherently horrific. Vampires have a need to feed on – and harm – other sentient beings. Even if a writer jumps through the hoops to sanitize vampires, such that they only need a mouthful of blood every few weeks, or even capable of living entirely off of animal blood, the fact that they drink blood from puncture wounds is still a bit creepy. It also gives them a reason to hide their existence from normal people, their natural victims, in much the same way a disease benefits from being asymptomatic.

Werewolves, meanwhile, are defined by their ability to turn into a wolf. Unlike parasitism, this is not naturally horrific. If a man can turn into a wolf at will, painlessly, and keep his mind while he is a wolf, most people would be comfortable calling him a werewolf, even though there’s nothing horrifying about his condition. This is the root difference between werewolves and vampires.

An effect of this difference is in trying to justify why each species would justify trying to hide their existences. As I stated, vampires naturally benefit from trying to hide themselves, in the same way a virus benefits from hiding themselves. Even in worlds where the supernatural is taken for granted, it’s still easy to believe that vampires would try to maintain a fiction that they shouldn’t be.

Werewolves, meanwhile, have the opposite incentive. While it’s understandable that the less dangerous kind of werewolf might go along with someone else’s masquerade, the kind that takes after The Wolf Man wouldn’t. They have every reason to tell people about their condition, so that people know to avoid them on the night of the full moon.

All that said, while vampires and werewolves are held together by historical contingency, I will continue to gleefully use that connection in my work.

Art: Nymph of Light

This woman looks upset about something. That’s something I decided to make her while I was drawing. I made this piece to practice working with proportions, in particular, legs, but my drawings are not complete when I imagine them. Because of this, they are transformed by the act of putting them on paper.

Messengers

Cracks spread across the ice like a spiderweb as the pale woman came towards me, carried by eight black, sharp legs.

“You’re a brave one, if you know whose wrath you invite.”

I said nothing. I simply removed my tunic, showing her the symbol on my chest.

She stopped, and stared. “That symbol…”

“I bring a message,” I said. “From my master, to yours.”

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Dragon Wind & Mountain Death

Dragon Wind was a mighty warrior
Every battlefield knew his power
When he spoke, he was kind and dour
For fate declared that he was a wanderer

Mountain Death lived high above
On bare stone peaks, with ill love
For all who came, flying like doves
Between the rocks, collapsed by shoves

Dragon Wind with sword and lantern came
To the dark windy peaks of Mountain Death’s domain
Neither life would ever be the same
The roof of the world never was so profane

Steel echoes and boulders cracked
Claws of darkness drove Dragon Wind back
Broken metal in Mountain Death’s attack
And the warrior saw what he lacked

No strength of arm could make Death dead
Understanding came from Wind’s dread
Shadows were grabbed and captured, instead
Dragon Wind’s lantern became a prison well-tread

Dragon Wind was a mighty warrior
Mountain Death was much sorrier
The wanderer came down, enemy trapped
With Death ever riding on his back.


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Shattered Worlds: The Gap Between

There are conduits connecting the nine worlds. Some are marked by natural arches or buildings mortals have made, others have nothing marking their presence. Sometimes, the link between the worlds is sudden, engulfing the traveler in a flash of light before leaving them in the new world. Other times, the change is so gradual that it’s impossible to tell when on leaves one world and enters another.

These conduits are vulnerable. When the worlds shattered, the demonic legions of Chaos were trapped between the worlds. Somehow, the fiends have found a way to use the conduits to enter the Shattered Worlds, bringing suffering and death. Every day, their prison grows weaker, and the day may come when reality as we know it shatters.

The servants of the dark gods are coming for you, for your friends and family. Lords, gather your troops. Soldiers, arm yourselves. War is coming, and none can escape its fires. May the gods have mercy for you the day it comes.


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Shattered Worlds: Celestia, the World of the Heavens

In the middle of her domain, Celestia, the goddess of the sky, works at her anvil, reforging reality as the flow of time grinds against it. In orbit around her, islands float in orbit around her, where Celestia’s people live and give glory to her. Bound together by skyship and faith, the Celestians stand ever ready to be transformed into whatever their goddess desires, be it worker, priest, or warrior.

As Celestia taps her hammer on the substance of the universe, sparks fly about her like comets. Sometimes these sparks land on an island, bringing devastation and a small piece of Celestia’s power with them. These sparks are holy things, leaving whatever their light touches irrevocably changed.

Once, a spark landed on a nest of rats. These rats grew larger and, slowly, more intelligent. One day, they began to walk upright. Blessed the rats with both startling curiosity and an aptitude for machines, the rats have built a wondrous city. In the center of the city is a great temple, glorifying and honoring the great being whose power gave the rats the ability to understand the world and their place within it.

Deep within this temple, there is a chamber. The rats do not speak of what is in this chamber, and even then, only those that have been inside know what is inside. But what has happened to those that come out can be seen by everyone. The rats are reforged, larger and stronger, a piece of divine essence placed within them. A few of them grow great wings, like the eagles that preyed on their ancestors, and still frighten the mortals around them.

With wing and blade, they stand against their goddess’s enemies, and then will not be content to merely protect those around them.


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Shattered Worlds: Ichotlan, the World of Sacrifice

Ichotlan is a world forsaken by the sun. Where there should be fields and forests, there are only barren rocks and cliffs, lying still underneath a black, yawning expanse of permanent night sky. Without the nurturing light, nothing living can grow, and no new life can emerge. Unless it comes from somewhere else.

There is a reason for the inhabitants of other worlds to come to Ichotlan. There are strange substances here: metals whose shape changes with the beliefs of those around it, strings like silk that are freezing cold to the touch, black glass that can glow like the sun. It is that last substance that allows a tribe of reptilians to survive, even thrive, in Ichotlan.

When properly charged and placed on high, a disk of that sunglass can replace the sun, providing the light and heat that crops need to grow. The reptilian build great stepped pyramids to house their disks, with channels falling down the sides to carry away the blood.

For it is the blood of mortals that powers the sunglass. The reptilians constantly war with other peoples, looking for supplies and sacrifices to ensure that their artificial suns will rise each day. Once their victims are captured, they are brought to the top of the mound and their necks are slit. Then, the reptilian priests cut open the victims chest, reach in and tear out the heart, which the presiding priest then eats. Finally, the now-dead corpse has its limbs cut off, and the torso is discarded. The limbs are later roasted and consumed in a meal following the sacrifice.

The reptilians have never limited themselves to one world…


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Shattered Worlds: Ainsophor, the World of Knowledge

All of the knowledge of the Shattered Worlds finds its way to Ainsophor. Every book, every letter, every rumor whispered on the wind appears there eventually, sometimes because it was brought there on purpose, sometimes because the one carrying the information got lost and stumbled in there, and sometimes by a mysterious process that no one understands.

The peoples of Ainsophor have built vast libraries to hold all of those words, buildings so large that entire civilizations can live within them. Entire citadels and prisons have been built for no reason that to hold the stores of knowledge of those that live inside them. The thick walls of these buildings are of great use to those that fear the raids of the goat-headed Hrothgors.

The Hrothgors also desire knowledge, but they do not simply read books. Instead of writing things down, the gors carve great stone idols, and place them on high hills. These idols can store knowledge itself, waiting for the gors to place experiences and memories directly into their heads. The gors soon forget what they learn from the idols, but it’s enough for them to build siege engines that can crack the walls of a library-citadel.

And cracking those walls is needed for the idols to work. Each idol is inert until it is filled with knowledge, and this can only be done by spilling the blood of the learned upon the idols. The gors do not raid merely for food and materials, but they also tear scholars away from their work and their homes, all to increase the wisdom of the gors.

There’s no reason for the Hrothgors to wait for scholars to come to their world…


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