Vampires Under the Effects of Law One
“Law One: No being of magical decent or Occult blood may reveal the knowledge of the existence of magic to any member of mankind. Failure to adhere to this most important law is punishable by execution before your peers.”
~ Official Book of Occult Law, Ordained by the Eastern European Magic Regime
In all my years of scouring foul weather and stalking the dingy side streets of secret, magical cities around this world, I have yet to come across a cursed man not negatively affected by Vladislov’s ruling.
Vladislov, the one responsible for the horrid oppression in magic kind. The one who has instituted a war on darkness and all those who oppose him. He is the highest branch of an oligarchy of Wizards who’ve named themselves The Regime. Elder Elves. Entitled Elves.
And, I refer to the Vampires as cursed men and women, for cursed is exactly what they are. Perhaps, being hexed by the dark gift is the reason for these poor creatures being so unjustly outcast and tormented by the Regime—the Elven kind look upon mortals as lower life forms. And what are Vampires other than simply mortals, transformed?
Or, perhaps the Elves react this way to the Vampire-kind because they fear things they do not understand—which they consider a danger to their magical society. The darkness. Dark magic.
Usually, one would not refer to such a perfect predator as a “poor creature,” nor would they empathize with beings considered to be the most ruthless killers in the world.
But I do.
For the things I’ve seen done unto them would cause any person with a beating heart to feel pity for these creatures. They are victims of outcast. Of genocide. They are highly misunderstood, and not only by Elven kind, but by the world.
Namely, one dreary night, lonely and hopping the British rails from Cardiff to Nottingham, and then London, I stumbled across a man so lost—so affected by the restraints of Law One, that I gathered the gall to approach him. He slumped crooked in the farthest booth of the sterile train car.
The weather outside was relentless, hail and rain clattering against the windows. The train wheels clacked and jumped every now and again, causing me to lose balance and catch myself on one of the leather chairs.
Our gazes locked on one another a few times, and a suspicion flashed in his eyes before he quickly dropped his focus. I continued to move forward, knowing he had the power to vanish rather quickly, but refusing to allow him to do so. I had seen many of his kind lurking the shadows since I began my studies. I’ve watched them hunt and disappear within a blink of my eye. I’ve even gotten close enough to their discarded victims, and lingered long enough to sketch crude images and track down notes, but never, until this point, did I have the intrepidity to approach the fiends themselves for questioning.
The train car bumped once more, and I clutched my bowler to my head, holding tightly to my umbrella and briefcase in my other hand.
I had known exactly what he was when I laid eyes on him. His abnormally pallid skin, like onionskin, revealed the snaking, purple veins beneath. He continued to keep his gaze low, as if not wanting to reveal the unearthly glow of his blue irises, or perhaps, a thirsty-black glare. I knew he sensed my revelation the instant it hit me, for all Vampires had the ability to mind-read.
His reaction to my knowing was nearly undetectable, but I knew what to look for. The twitch at the corner of his mouth, suggesting his amusement. The slightest shift of his gaze across the floor, moving toward where I was creeping. The uncomfortable fidgeting of his claws laced in front of him. I knew he was deciding whether or not to kill me, but I stepped closer, anyway.
Perhaps, he might have heard it in my mind I only wished to help him—to gain knowledge and advertise the truth necessary to save him. In a flash almost too
quick for me to notice if I’d blinked, his scowl touched my briefcase, and then away. Perhaps, by me publishing my studies, the Occult-kind would learn not to fear the darkness, but rather accept it as an equal part of magic kind.
The Vampire remained eerily still. I pulled up my case, gripping it firmly, my pulse hammering loudly in my ear. I became painfully aware of it throbbing in my throat, and realized how difficult it must have been for him to be contained in the same compartment with me. I squinted at the subtlety of his jaw muscle tensing. Proceeding slowly and with more caution, the realization reached me. My life could be over with any one of those steps I took. I said, “Good evening.”
The cursed man still did not lift his gaze to meet mine. With his claws folded, his thumbs persistent in fidgeting, he said, “Indeed.”
I don’t believe there had been a moment before that point where I’d heard a Vampire’s voice in such a close proximity. There had been other times when I’d heard a growl from a distance, and perhaps some violent argument, which of course ended in the demise of the weaker fiend, but this was exhilarating. The deep, melodic sound caused little, chilling bumps to trail up my spine and across my arms. This sound somehow took on a sweet quality, and with a depth that reminded me of the luxurious low end of a cello. And though I reveled in the company of women, the sound of this man speaking did something to seduce me as I stood there. It was all part of what made him dangerous; the ability to draw people close, to lure them to their fate, to madden them with lust. I blinked, immediately enamored and excited by the notion he might actually allow me to live long enough to take notes on this experience.
And I’ll also go on record saying the only real thing I lusted after in that incredible moment was knowledge.
“May I sit?” I asked.
Finally, his magnificent eyes locked with mine, revealing the full threshold of their illumined, icy color. It did something to cause the sterile lighting and the bland fixtures around the cabin to become more mystifying, simply because he was there, glaring at me. It was brilliant. Breathtaking. Another layer of chills laced over my skin. His focus flickered once to my briefcase and then back to my face.
“If you must,” he sighed, and leaned back deeper into his seat. He rested his chin in his gloved hand, gazing weary-eyed out the foggy window.
I exhaled, still not totally relieved of my fear, but growing more relaxed the longer I was close to him. I set my case in my lap, not taking my eyes off of him. Perhaps I made him uncomfortable, but I was just taking in too much information. He seemed drawn, but more so than what I believed was typically normal for someone like him. The circles under his glassy gaze were deep and dark. His posture was crooked, like an old man lived beneath his eternally young flesh. His hair was course and brittle, though long, as it hung past his shoulders around his jagged cheeks. And his clothes were tattered, a few areas haphazardly patched where the holes were large.
Some might have thought him to be a sort of rogue traveler, starved by his own wanderlust and chosen poverty. But I knew the truth.
There was no other being in the car with us, so I opened my case and pulled out my leather-bound journal, plunging him into my questioning.
He knew it was coming. I saw it in the way his expression tensed at the stormy night. I didn’t ask his permission before I began. He would either give me answers, or he wouldn’t. It was as simple as life and death, and considering the fact I was still sitting there; I already knew what his answer would be.
“You seem tired,” I began with pen in hand. It felt hot in my grip, my heart continuing to pummel. I held my breath.
“You seem eager,” he muttered. His eyelids drooped halfway, and I could see a new thought being born. “There are new laws. New statutes, in our world, friend. And they are taking their toll,” he sighed. “I trust you know what I’m speaking out.”
“Yes.” I nodded, the words feverishly pouring from the tip of my pen. “Yes. Law One, put in place by the Central European Magic Regime. But yet here you are, in a mortal passenger car, making your way across England in full disclosure. Are you not afraid of being caught?”
Law One was a newly instated measure of ridiculousness set by the light sight of Occult-kind, namely the Wizards, locking the magic folk within the borders of
their respective, secret cities, thereby making it impossible for any cursed man or woman to hunt mortals. Simply, they were starving them out.
The Vampire smiled, though the grin did not reach his tired eyes. He hesitated a moment and said, “I find the best place to hide is in plain sight. They won’t find me here, because they are not looking here. The Regime and their idiotic force are too busy guarding city borders.”
“I see,” I said, continuing to scribble. And though I didn’t look up at him, I could feel his glare piercing my skull. I dared not meet his gaze, praying he would continue to let me be. Though, my prayer may have fallen on deaf ears, for I could see how starved he was. “Why are your eyes still blue?” I asked, head down at my journal. He would know what I was implying.
He chuckled briefly. “You needn’t worry, friend. This train is infested with rats and pigeons, and luckily for you, I’ve had my fill just before you arrived.”
“But does it satiate you in the same way human blood does?” I prodded.
“No. Not at all,” he answered and paused again. We studied each other in silence for a few moments, save for the low rumbling of the wheels over the wet rails. The gentle rocking of the car made me queasy. “Tell me something, now,” he queried, finally. “How did a man as…usual as yourself come to know so much about my kind and those immediately surrounding us?”
My throat closed over my words, my mouth going dry, but I spoke regardless. “My wife was altered by your kind.”
He paused for another moment, rubbing his index claw against his lower lip. “My condolences,” he said with sincere reverence, from what I could detect. He frowned. “So, you wish to know me before you hunt me, then? You seek revenge.” It wasn’t a question.
“No. I’m sorry, can you not sense the intentions in my mind?” I was confused. Why should he question me when he should instantly have the answer?
He shook his head. “Yes, I can. But I’m afraid I still do not understand. So, you have no vendetta against what I am? You only wish to…learn?”
“Yes.” I nodded. “I’ve made it my business to learn everything I can of the Occult and of the darkness. I no longer want to be afraid and I know my wife is not evil.” My pen had stopped. Our conversation had turned personal.
“No more evil than I, I’m afraid,” he breathed. “How recently was your wife…changed?”
“Not too long ago, at all.”
“Ah. And I imagine she has tried to kill you?” He nearly giggled, folding his hand over his mouth, his eyes revealing some apology under his amusement. “Actually, yes, she has. Her cravings are insufferable. But her attempts are
paired with regret. I know somewhere in her mind, there still lives humanity and compassion. I left to discover more about the truth, so I might be able to help.”
“There is no help,” he muttered, shaking his head. His scowl darted to the grim world outside the window, again. The hail had stopped, and all I could see were the streaks of rainwater sliding against the glass. “And where is she now?” He continued, frowning again.
“Taken. A platoon of those you mentioned, the Regime guards, appeared in the night at our home to drag her off to one of your hidden cities. It wasn’t a full week since she’d been changed when they came for her. I, of course, kept out of sight.”
“A good decision. They would have killed you instantly.”
“As I imagined,” I said. “But this didn’t occur before she received a curious letter from something called the Parliament.” I shrugged slightly. “Not even she knew what it meant, but they knew rather quickly she’d joined the ranks of your kind.”
“Ah,” he said again, his two index claws becoming a steeple before his pursed lips. “Yes, we all receive our letter of acknowledgment when we change. Consider it a rebirth certificate, of sorts.”
“I see.” A new thought flashed through my mind, and though I felt foolish, I had to ask my next question. “Do you think she is safe?” I might have appeared daft, but my worrying about her fate kept me up at night. And I needed to proceed on this venture with a clear head. This devilish character might provide some insight.
“I do believe she is alive, yes,” he answered. “The same happened to me, but the memories of the night I was taken from my family are much grimmer.” He did not divulge any more details, but my imagination answered for me. “They’ve probably taken her to the Occult City nearest wherever you lived. I would imagine
she is there, attempting to stumble through what life means for her now, and how she will continue on with what she has become.”
The corners of my eyes pricked, and I clenched my jaw, swallowing back a few tears. I needed to remember my mission and not let the emotions muddy what I was there to accomplish.
“Right,” I mustered stoically. Clearing my throat, I swung one leg over the other and proceeded with my pen gripped tightly in my hand. The new lump in my throat made it hard to talk. “I would like to return to the topic of Law One, if I may.” The Vampire nodded politely for me to continue. “This, the most important law of magic society, makes it impossible for your kind to hunt, does it not?”
“Yes. You are correct. Another assertion of Law One means none of Occult kind, be it Elves, Witches, Phasers, or…Vampires, are allowed to set even a single toe over the designated Occult City borders. Results of being caught, especially for our kind, are most lethal. Burned to a crisp at midday.”
I shuddered, furiously dashing my pen across the paper. “And what sort of physical results does this harbor? I mean, the effects of not being able to regularly feed on mortal blood.”
He smiled again and mirrored my action, crossing one leg over the other. “You are brave to approach me and ask these questions. Aren’t you concerned a topic this morose could whet my appetite?”
“It has crossed my mind, yes,” I admitted flatly, but I was no longer concerned. After swapping stories, I considered this man more or less an acquaintance. I knew he was only speaking ironically and for his own amusement. I offered a confident grin up at him and again, he nodded in response.
“The feeling is a gruesome one. Even my human memories do not contain a situation to which I could effectively compare this. It is something like starvation. However, no.” He closed his eyes and shook his head, deep lines forming along his brow as his own pain bubbled to the surface. “No, it is much different. Much worse. It is like swallowing bags of sand, and somehow surviving. You are forced alive, but you in your entirety are dry and burning from the inside. There is no water around you, and even if there were, no amount of it could cool the incineration turning your insides to ash. Yet you live on. An eternity of hell fire.
Killing one after another after another, and though you feel compassion and regret in doing so, it is in your will to survive. Death and evilness are forced down your throat, just like the blood. Law One makes this life—if you even want to call it a life—nearly impossible.
“Once in a while, the Wizards take pity on us and round up groups of the Earth’s heathens and bottom dwellers, and throw us a meal. Of course, I am speaking about the drug lords and whores who pollute cities. People who would never be missed. The Regime captures them and delivers them upon the doorsteps of various Occult cities. But this is a rarity, and they advertise their actions as a humanitarian effort, so they maintain even the most liberal followers. But I find their efforts unnecessary. Nothing in this world could ever overthrow them. They are too powerful. Popularity seems oddly irrelevant.” He turned his focus out the window, again. This time, a new bitterness appeared behind his dark lashes.
The tip of my pen moved so quickly, my notepad nearly caught fire. “So, you would say the Regime is tyrannical and Law One is the direct cause of your suffering?”
“But something you said strikes me. Most people would never believe you feel compassionate for killing and feeding. Society, or those who believe in your existence, view your kind as ruthless and dangerous—bloodthirsty and emotionless.”
“Dangerous, yes. Ruthless, well, perhaps sometimes. Some of us are ruthless. But do not forget so quickly what we used to be. You. There is a parallel between you and I, my friend. Our humanity. We do preserve our emotion. Our memories. Some of us become hungry with power and vanity, and those are the ruthless killers. But they are no different than the fiends existing in your world. Am I correct?”
“Yes,” I breathed. “Yes, of course.”
I did not realize it then, or maybe I did, but the Vampire from the train bestowed upon me the greatest gift I could have hoped to find that evening. Understanding. Acceptance. The revelation he and I were more similar than I
could have ever imagined. His society was oppressed, starved, and in poverty, just like many societies of the world I lived in.
A lack of human blood poses some very serious threats to a Vampire body. He explained the feelings of being burned from the inside out, but let us not forget these physical and scientific occurrences are the direct consequence of the lack of life and vitality. Dying organs. Brittle hair and yellowed teeth. Decaying bones. It is something similar to the process of aging in mortals, though faster. For you see, Vampires are none other than human beings literally drained of life. They are human corpses, animated by a dark and ancient magic and they are kept animated by regularly refilling themselves with that which was taken from them—life.
Unlike our sustenance, going straight through our digestive systems and being converted into energy, blood to a Vampire is absorbed almost immediately by their bodies and sent to their deadened circulatory systems. This reanimates their heart, pumping the stolen blood out through their veins and arteries, so they are, for lack of a better term, kept alive. In order to sustain themselves, killing is something absolutely mandatory and should be done without discretion. As we harvest sustenance, so should they. It is not good, nor evil.
It simply is.
Law One makes it nearly impossible, and so many of them are kept weak and vulnerable, feeding on rats and wandering deer. Though animal blood will keep them alive, barely, it is not by the same level of comfort deemed necessary to live a remotely happy existence. Put most bluntly, Law One is weakening the Vampire kind.
THE ANTOMY OF VAMPIRES
IS COMING JUNE 17th!!!