Worldbuilding: The Origin of Species, Part Two

This section will cover two of the creations of the witches and wizards on the Path of Darkness: the zombies and the vampires. *cues spooky music*

The Origin of Zombies

Zombies are considered by most citizens of Albion, Reme, and Glasonland — indeed, most the Albionese world — to be an abomination, a perversion of all that is just and good within the world. By rights, most Sims feel, they should not exist.

What a zombie is is easy enough to define, strange as the creature itself may be. A zombie is a magically reanimated corpse, equipped with the soul and memories of the deceased person, but with a perversion of their personality. All zombies, upon returning to “life,” find themselves to be extremely sloppy and slipshod in their manner, rather shy, quite lazy, inclined to serious pursuits, and very mean in some ways. Of course, how much of a “change” this is depends on the personality of the zombie in their former lives, though nearly all Sims do encounter a serious personality change upon zombification. Other changes include a persistent and nauseating smell of the grave, a shambling walk due to incomplete reanimation of muscles, sterility (without intense magical intervention, that is) and an immunity to aging. However, despite their non-aging and immunity to illness (the amount of bacteria residing in their partially-decayed forms pretty much kill anything else that tries to take hold), they can be killed in other ways — stabbing, shooting, falling off a cliff, drowning, attack by murderous flies (really, considering their hygiene, it’s amazing this doesn’t happen more often), squashed by satellite, even death by cowplant — though no one has yet been brave enough to actually drink the digested remains of a zombie.

Who first created, or re-vivified, a zombie is unknown. Also unknown is for what purpose they did it. One thing is certain, though: zombies are the creation of witches and wizards who follow the dark path, and zombies have been their servants since time immemorial. In some things, they are quite well suited for the job. Their natural meanness makes them more likely to obey orders to deal death and destruction to others, and even to take pleasure in it. Their very presence serves as a warning and a threat: this could happen to you, or someone you love. Plus, they’re just plain scary-looking.

However, zombies also have a number of disadvantages, so great a number that plenty of more sensible Sims, mage and non-mage alike, wonder why the dark wizards and witches put up with them. First of all, they are not very physically agile; though individual zombies (particularly those who, after their zombification, have trained in the martial arts) can best individual Sims, an army of regular Sims would beat an army of zombies any day of the week. Secondly, their very meanness — and, often, anger at their transformation — make them disloyal servants. Thirdly, owing to their innate sloppiness, they simply are not very useful for the more mundane tasks dark witches and wizards want servants for, namely, cleaning up around the castle.

Dark witches and wizards, though, have a number of ways of compensating for these weaknesses. They do not very often fight pitched battles with regular Sims (and if they do, they hire mercenaries or someone living to handle the living soldiers); those who have megalalomaniacal tendencies prefer to win power in more devious and less overtly violent ways. Furthermore, though useless in real battle, zombies make excellent cannon fodder against, say, a torch-carrying mob of villagers, buying time for the witch or wizard to make his or her escape. Dark witches and wizards also have several different tactics to control for the meanness/anger of zombies. Some threaten the newly-created zombie with the zombification of their loved ones or descendents. Others use a combination of fear, intimidation, abuse and even torture to bend their zombies to their will. Still others make it a practice to routinely destroy all the memories of a newly-created zombie, thus allowing them to mold their new servant however they will. As for cleaning up the castle … well, really there’s very little help for that. Before the invention of the servo, most dark witches and wizards hired or kidnapped sufficiently cowed human servants for that task.

It should be noted, however, that though zombies have a bad reputation throughout the world, it seems that they are not all bad. If they are in a loving environment (very, very rare for a zombie), they can be as pleasant and kind as any fully-living Sim (though, again, there’s no help for the stinkiness and the sloppiness). They are certainly quite capable of love, even if they are a little over-fond of other people’s newspapers.

At present, there is only one zombie in Albion: Accolon le Fay, husband of Lady Morgan le Fay and brother-in-law to King Arthur. Being generally kind-hearted and gentle, he is often seen as the exception rather than the rule of zombies … or is he a ray of hope for all zombie-kind to follow?

The Origin of Vampires

Vampires are another product of dark magic. Unlike zombies, however, it is known who the first of their kind were, and who created them. The emerge from the dark and mysterious region of Transimvania, located in the far eastern marches of the Reman Empire, near the border with Albion.

Approximately three hundred years after the birth of St. Robert (seven hundred years before the founding of Albion), Count Henrik du Magori and Contessa Clemencia of Sparke* ruled a small county in the heart of Transimvania. They were a very happy couple and very much in love. There were but two blots on their happiness: the fact that they had been married for ten years, and that they had no children.

Since they were both devoted acolytes of the dark goddess Geruda, the Contessa turned to her for help in conceiving a child. Alas, no help was forthcoming, and for excellent reasons: Church historians, who gained access to the records of the Gerudan (and all other) temples after the conversion of Reme to the Wrightian faith, discovered that the Gerudan temples were, in their words, “nothing more than a front” for dark witches and wizards, and a way of explaining the strange things that tended to occur around such folks in a way that was palatable to the Reman regime. Other, more even-handed historians point out that “nothing more than a front” may be a bit harsh, and that it was far more likely that at least some, and perhaps most, of the witches and wizards who were adherents of Geruda and other Reman gods and goddesses actually believed that their powers came from the gods or goddesses. In any case, whether the Contessa believed her goddess could help her, or whether she was simply practicing magic and using the goddess as cover, is of little importance. The point is that practitioners of the dark magics, though they can control or impede fertility, cannot enhance it. That province remains to practitioners of the light magics only.

So the Contessa found nothing to help her conceive. Instead, she found something quite different.

They were the merest fragments, hints buried in ancient scrolls and tomes. A type of blood-magic that would bestow immortality (or close enough) on the wielder, but at a terrible price. The texts did not explain what this price was, just that it was so terrible that no dark witch or wizard had worked up the courage to try this particular piece of blood magic just yet.

But the Contessa was getting desperate. Henrik’s relatives were trying to persuade him to annul their marriage and try again with someone younger and more likely to be fertile, or perhaps a widow whose fertility was proven. (Those said relatives had a list of fertile “widows” all ripe for the picking, or so they claimed — with some, the husband was still alive, but that was an easy hurdle to clear.) Henrik was standing firm, but who knew how long that would last? Furthermore, Henrik’s relatives were a nasty bunch, his younger brother — the next in line for the estate — especially. If he grew impatient, there was every chance he would kill, or attempt to kill, either Henrik or Clemencia.

But if we were immortal, the Contessa came to realize, then his brother could not kill either of us. And if we were immortal, what need would we have of an heir?

That was all it took to convince the Contessa that it would be worthwhile to make the attempt.

So she kidnapped several “useless” workers from several different villages: a child too young to work; an old man long past his prime; a wife so beaten and dispirited by her husband that it took all her energy just to get out of bed in the morning; and a young man who was quite strong and capable, but so wild that he spent most working days sleeping off a hangover, in the town gaol for fighting, in the stocks, etc. She added a couple of less-useful castle servants for good measure, including one or two she suspected of being spies for Henrik’s brother. Then she collected a cup of their blood (leaving them alive for the moment), and mixed it together in a large cauldron. To the mixture she added certain herbs and plants: deadly nightshade, asphodel, yew berries. Next she threw in a pinch or two of Viper Essence, three Eyes of Newt, and a few other ingredients of whose existence she was careful to destroy all trace. Then, toasting to her husband, who worked in his study far above her subterranean still room, entirely ignorant of what his wife was up to, she drank.

The change was excruciating and immediate. The blood coursed not through her digestive tract, but through her veins. Even as the various poisonous elements tried to kill her, the blood fought back, running through her in dizzying speeds, killing her, keeping her alive, changing her–

Within an hour, she was a vampire.

And she was hungry.

That was the end of three of the captured villagers and servants. The strong young man nearly made an end of her as he watched his fellow-prisoners be slaughtered, but the Contessa was strong now, stronger than she had ever been. A single blow to the temple knocked the young man out, then, glancing at the old man and two of the servants, she pointed to the young man’s prone body and said, “Pick him up, and follow me.” Too terrified to do otherwise, the servants and old man obeyed.

She went upstairs to her husband’s study. Henrik looked up, smiling at his wife. “Ah, Clemencia, I was wondering when you would join me — oh — sweetheart, are you feeling all right? You look rather pale.”

Those were his last words before the Contessa’s newly-sharpened incisors pierced his jugular.

But she did not drink. No, instead she pressed her wrist — conveniently bitten into — against the two little holes in his jugular. So Henrik did not die; he, too, changed. His change was far quicker and, from what the Contessa could tell, less agonizing than hers. But when he finally came to himself, he looked at her with blood-red eyes, and said, “I’m hungry.”

The Contessa smiled, her incisors gleaming in the candlelight. “I brought supper.”

That was the end of the other servants, the old man, and the strong young man.

The Contessa and the Count spent the rest of the evening celebrating, laughing, toasting their good fortune, and making love. It was not until the sun rose the next morning that they began to learn some of the weaknesses of their new form. No longer could they stand the slightest ray of the sun, it was agony to them, it burned their flesh and sent a trail of smoke rising from their skin. Terrified and in pain, they fled to the basement. Seeking anything to put in between them and those horrible, life-giving rays, they crept into a pair of (used) coffins left over from some of their other dark experiments. And in the coffins, they found relief.

As time went on, they adjusted to their new condition. After that original frenzy of hunger, they discovered that they did not need to kill but once a month, and if they took smaller amounts of blood once a week, they would keep themselves alive and sated. Soon, in their domain, there were no more town gaols, town magistrates or justices of the peace. All those accused of lawbreaking were brought to the Count and Contessa’s castle and kept in their dungeons. Most of them lived there for years, but those accused of serious crimes — murder, rape, theft of large amounts of property — usually died rather quickly. When the bodies were returned to the family, they were but desiccated husks, with a throat slit and a look of horror on their faces. For, though feeding in small amounts would keep the Count and Contessa alive, for optimal strength they needed to kill.

Other changes were made in the castle. All of their servants, from the steward to the lowest scullery maid, were soon found to be fanatically loyal to the Count and Contessa. Later it was determined that the Count and Contessa had made these servants into ghouls. No longer did the Count and Contessa travel long distances to visit relatives or friends, they always preferred to be the hosts. And they never, ever, appeared by daylight.

This state of affairs continued for fifty years, until the Count’s grand-nephew, tired of waiting on the inheritance that had eluded his father and grandfather and thoroughly alarmed by some of the reports coming from his great-uncle’s county, attacked the castle at dawn with a large force of professional soldiers and angry villagers. He was able to force his way in, but it took him until late afternoon to fight his way down to the basement. He found the coffins, forced them open, sword raised to rid the world of these abominations once and for all–

The coffins were empty!

Dismayed, the grand-nephew ordered a search of the whole castle. The search was conducted, but no trace of the Count and Contessa was found. The nephew set about destroying the coffins, and settled in to wait.

Nobody noticed the two bats hanging side-by-side from the rafters in the basement. And when those two bats flew, silent as death, up the stairs and out the still-open gate … no one noticed that, either. The grand-nephew took control of the castle and county and ruled there, happily enough, for three years. He married and his wife bore him a son in remarkably short order. Then, one morning, the corpses of both wife and grand-nephew were found in bed, desiccated, with only two neat little punctures in the jugular to indicate how they came by their death. Gone was all the castle’s easily portable wealth, and the little great-grand-nephew was left with a much-diminished inheritance.

The Count and Contessa were never seen again in Transimvania. Rumor has it that they traveled to the region now known as Albion, which was at that time — and indeed, was for a long time afterward — a lawless buffer zone between Glasonland and the might of Reme, and settled on the northern coast. These rumors were dismissed as just that, rumors, at least until a certain whore acquired a strange pallor and rather sharp incisors

Mirelle Peaseblossom, whore, is currently the only known vampire in Albion. She has, so far, not killed anyone, preferring to take smaller doses of blood from her customers — many of whom are surprised by just how sharp her bite is. She has, thus far, not made any ghouls or other servants.

Rumors, however, continue to spread that the Count and Contessa are getting more and more bold, transforming hapless natives of Albion into their kind … but these are just rumors, right?

Right?

*The names of my Grand Vampires.

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