On The Common Vampyre
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Excerpts from Saint-Emile's Bestiary, Chapter XI: On The Common Vampyre


INTRODUCTION

The Common Vampyre (Vampyrae draculae) dwells in the interior of Europe, most often in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. All Vampyres of the World share several basic similarities, and the current model of Understanding, divined through careful dissection and comparison, has led me to the belief that the Common Vampyre is the common ancestor of all other Vampyre Species1. While all other Vampyre Species have adaptations suited to their environment, the Common Vampyre is the only one with no defining, unique Characteristics — indeed, its notability comes from the fact that it is a Template of sorts, for other Vampyre Species to be modelled off of. Understanding the anatomy and weaknesses of even only the Common Vampyre will give you an advantage over all Species of such you may encounter in your travels, the importance of which cannot be overstated. Even the banal Common Vampyre is many times more powerful than a Human, and poses a significant danger in combat. I suggest you use this Chapter to arm yourself with the knowledge that might one day save your life.


ANATOMY

Vampyrae draculae is largely similar in Shape and Forme to Homo sapiens sapiens - an erect biped, with a wingspan roughly equivalent to its height. The most obvious feature discerning them from a Human is the shape of their hands — the Vampyre's hands are claw-like, with long, hard nails extending up to two centimetres, often sharpened to a point. The muscles in these hands are taut and powerful — they can be quickly contracted to exert immense pressure on anything in the Vampyre's grasp. This ability is commonly used to crush the skulls or bones of prey.

Naturally, the Vampyre's teeth are the second source of notability. The Fangs of a Vampyre are stuff of legend, and it is difficult to extricate myth from fact. Dissection of the adult Specimens have noted sexual dimorphism in the dental region — while males have two-score-and-eight teeth to the females' two-score, they are less dangerous - four of the males' can be described as Fangs, both front-facing, two on top and two on bottom, each a centimetre above the gumline. Comparatively, females have eight Fangs, four in front and two on each side. Her front Fangs are up to one and a half centimetre above the gumline.

The legends have preserved one important bit of truth regarding the Fangs; they are used almost exclusively to suck Blood from the Vampyre's prey. They bite into the flesh, most often of the neck or thigh, and the Vampyre uses its lips to create a seal around the incisions before sucking. However, study of their feeding habits has led me to an intriguing discovery: as soon as the beast separates itself from its prey, its Saliva soothes the wound and encourages faster clotting. While this is pure speculation, your author theorizes that this is an Adaptation to preserve the life of the prey in order to remain a consistent food source.

Throughout its body, the Tissue of the Vampyre is tight and strong — even its Skin resisted dissection from my sharpest scalpels. There is little to no fatty Tissue found anywhere in its body, after thorough inspection; I believe this to be due to the unique nature of its Diet. The Musculature is powerful, and allows the Vampyre to perform feats of strength beyond the capability of the Human, such as high leaps or climbing sheer rock faces. It also provides the creatures with an edge in close combat — despite this, I have noticed Vampyres of all kinds, not just draculae, shy away from personal combat; indeed, combat altogether seems to avoided. Study into this is ongoing.

The Oculus is another point of notability. Survivors of Vampyre captivity report that looking into the Eyes of one puts one into a Fugue, unable to resist or combat any suggestion by the Vampyre, slaves to its will. Postmortem dissection of the Eye reveals no outstanding differences from a Human, and this author is led to believe that this is due to the sheer intimidating presence of the Vampyre couples with the confusion and light-headedness that naturally follows a victim losing a large amount of their Blood.

The innards of the Vampyre also fail to distinguish themselves from a human in structure; however, I have noticed a Phenomenon present in nearly every Specimen dissected. Namely, a black Mold or Fungus, found across several organs of particularly long-lives members of draculae. I remain unsure the Origin or Effects of such a Mold, but have collected several Samples and preserved them in the Cache for future study.


DIET

The Diet of the Common Vampyre is quite simple and is another of the few truths present in the numerous legends and myths surrounding the Species. V. draculae subsists itself almost entirely on the Blood of living Organisms. Near all Creatures are possible prey for it, but the Vampyre presents a preference for the fresh blood of Humans. Whenever possible, it will seek out this food source over easier-to-acquire alternatives. However, if put against the threat of Starvation, a Vampyre will begrudgingly feed from rats, cattle, fowl, swine, and other creatures unrecorded. This distinction appears to be Mental; subsisting off the blood of Animals presents no visible damage to the Health to Vampyres studied in captivity. Vampyres have been seen consuming (in gluttonous amounts, I might add) ale, wines, raw meat, cooked meat, bread, cheese, Human flesh, and, in rare cases, other Vampyres. However, the only Foodstuff needed for survival is Blood.


BEHAVIOUR

The Common Vampyre is as a Wolf among Sheep. It seeks to live among its Prey, accruing note and power to better safeguard its tenous position in the World of Humans. Vampyres are oft found at the highest Echelons of Society; nobles, bankers, men of Means. The massive castles and towers of old have given way to new Lairs. Manors and estates, filled with Humans to serve and feed from. This is a manner of self-preservation. By disguising itself to appear as though Human, the Vampyre secures its position as the Epicenter of its World and masks its tracks from its own Predators.


HUNTING

That Predator is, of course, you. The Vampyre will never be truly Human, no matter how well-constructed the Facade. The Beast will seep through the cracks, appearing in the slightest of movements: a Fanged smile here, a predatory Hunger at the sight of an open wound or cut. To the untrained eye, these actions are invisible; but to the educated Hunter, these are like a Deer leaving prints in the freshly fallen snow: mistakes, accidents, hints it does not even realize it has left. Watch for these; they can be the difference between life and death.

The Slaying of the Vampyre is extraordinarily difficult, mostly due to its uniquely resistant Body. Again, some legends hold true: the easiest way to eliminate a Vampyre is a stake driven entirely through the Heart. This is less a weakness of the Vampyre and more of all Beings; a Hunter would be hard pressed to find an Entity that survives such a fatal wound. The composition of the stake is irrelevant. I have seen wood spears, metal lances, and once even a sharpened Human bone successfully be the end of a Vampyre's long life. Aside from the stake, beheading also functions, though it is obviously more difficult to accomplish. Routing the Vampyre into a position in which you can stake or behead them, though, is the most difficult part of Hunting. They will have both Human securities and Beastly ones; expect to be engaged in a long, slow battle with increasing difficulty. A Hunt I undertook in Paris several years ago lasted a staggering three months. The Beast had built itself as an eminent Parisian socialite with an Estate on the river. I masqueraded as a visiting English minor lord and finally sprung my Attack during one of its parties. I set the mansion aflame and, during the chaos, drove a burning length of oak through its back. This, I have come to find, is a particularly efficient strategy, both literally and metaphorically. Ideally, the Beast will never know it is being Hunted until the moments its World goes up in Flames and it finds a stake through its Heart. This is the ultimate platitude and lesson for the Hunting of Vampyres, friend: find them, study them, and then, once they are truly at their most Vulnerable, set them alight and drive a stake through its chest. Have no Mercy, just like they would have none when sucking on your throat as you hang from chains in its Dungeon should you fail.

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