Category: Gladius

Oct 10 2015

Vampires in the Tellus Arc

Given the theme of this week’s movie reviews, I thought it might be nice to go into detail on the rules for vampirism in my stories. At present, vampirism only exists in my Tellus Arc stories. I suppose in a roundabout way it crops up in a few Earth Arc stories and could potentially present itself in the Cross and If Arcs as well, but for now, it’s restricted to the Tellus Arc, hence the title of the post.

I’ve already depicted the process of turning into a vampire twice: with Flavia Sapphira in The Three Warriors and with Narkissos (better known as Sir Caligo) in TTWC2, so let’s start there. First off, to become a vampire, you must drink the blood of a vampire. Typically, you are first drained of blood to just shy of the point of death as the admixture of essences eases the transition. The process of being reborn into unlife is very traumatic and it takes great force of will to maintain your mind. Should you fail, you’ll becomes a ghoul, a mere ravening beast. Ghouls have all the powers of a vampire, but they don’t tend to live very long because they have nothing more than animal instinct to guide them. Hunting them is comparatively easy.

The powers of a newly born vampire are relative to its sire. In other words, should you be turned by an ancient vampire, you would start out much stronger than if you were sired by a younger vampire. There is also the matter of your innate abilities. A turned archmage will have even stronger magical powers, though someone like a white mage would have their alignment flipped, but more on that later. The basic abilities include increased strength and speed and heightened senses. Other abilities such as flight and shapeshifting manifest later. Lestat’s comment from Interview with a Vampire holds true. “The Dark Gift is different for each of us.” Different abilities will manifest for different individuals. For instance, if you are a latent telepath, that ability would manifest itself after you were turned. Even the slightest latent potential will be drawn out in the due course of time. As your vampiric powers grow, all your abilities, both natural and supernatural, are amplified and enhanced.

As for weaknesses, light is the great vampire killer. Sunlight is the most obvious, but light magic is also effective. Even for a newborn vampire, exposure is not immediately fatal, but the resistance depends of the power of the individual vampire. Vampires are also vulnerable to water, the purer the better (hence the effectiveness of holy water). The same applies to silver. For wood, it must be fresh, no more than a day or two since it was cut, ergo a makeshift stake broken off from a piece of antique furniture wouldn’t do you much good. Garlic and certain pungent herbs can have a warding effect on weaker vampires but will not stop a determined one. As for the effectiveness of holy objects such as crucifixes, it is the person’s faith rather than the object itself that has the warding power. (As a result, a committed atheist can’t expect to hold up a cross to save himself.) The vampire’s heart is the source of his powers. Using a wooden steak blocks the flow of energies that sustain the vampire, but this isn’t enough to kill it. If you remove the stake, the vampire will reanimate. Cutting out the heart is more effective, but if the heart is reunited with the body (or even the ashes of the body), the vampire can be restored. To completely and permanently destroy a vampire, you must stake the heart, sever the head, then burn it all in the light of the sun. However, less thorough measures are normally sufficient as the average vampire isn’t going to have anyone working to restore him.

The vampire’s thirst for blood is the basic means by which he gains and sustains power. The longer a vampire goes without drinking, the weaker he becomes and the more susceptible to a vampire’s vulnerabilities. It is also important that the blood be fresh or else the life energies will dissipate, which happens quickly as the blood is separated from the body or the body approaches death. (As a result, the modern vampire drinking from blood packets wouldn’t be viable under this system.) The more potent the blood, the more power is derived from it. The blood of the young has more vigor than that of the old, the blood of a mage more than that of a commoner, and so on and so forth. All else being equal, a vampire who feeds on humans is going to be stronger than one who feeds on rats. It is possible to slow the atrophy by entering into a state of hibernation and there is also something of a rubber band effect where an atrophied vampire can regain power faster than it was first acquired. Beside basic life energies, abilities and experiences can be transmitted via the blood. We saw this in KoG3 with Adrienne picking up Byrnan by drinking Mark’s blood and in TTWC2 where Caligo was able completely read Sir Telemachos’ mind via his blood. As a result, the drinking of blood is more than just a matter of acquiring energy and makes active vampires all the more dangerous.

Dhampirs, or half-vampires, are an interesting case. They are as varied as full-blooded vampires in terms of their abilities and vulnerabilities. It’s an oversimplification to describe them as having half the power and half the weakness, but it provides a conceptual starting point. The more blood a dhampir drinks, the more their vampiric side comes to the fore, but only by drinking vampire blood can they be fully turned. Only some ancient vampires have the ability to breed, so typically the only way a dhampir can be born is if the human mother is turned while pregnant, as was the case with Flavia Sapphira. Unsurprisingly, dhampirs are exceedingly rare. The Cadmus twins shouldn’t be seen as typical examples of dhampirs because of Shadowblight’s extensive experimentation on them. Vincentian had a natural affinity for regeneration, so this was amplified to the point where he could regenerate more quickly and completely than even many full vampires. Adrienne pushed the physical limitations of a dhampir’s body without a significant increase in vulnerability, but she lacked any higher level abilities like shapeshifting and suffered a thirst for blood nearly on par with a a full vampire. Before Shadowblight’s experimentation, they both had a higher thirst for blood as a product of habit because their mother raised them as full vampires.

Lastly, we’ll discuss psychic vampires. These aren’t necessarily vampires in the traditional sense, though it’s possible for a conventional vampire with psychic abilities to become a psychic vampire. Basically, a psychic vampire feeds on the astral energies of others as opposed to blood. This could kill the mind just as extensive exsanguination can kill the body. For dual vampires, there are two options for gaining power. A dual vampire could hibernate with his physical body while continuing to feed psychically and awaken even stronger.

When I had a friend read T3W, he noted the peculiarity of Flavia Sapphira being able to see herself in the mirror after she was turned, as opposed to the common trope of vampires casting no reflection. At first I considered going back to change it but decided instead to leave it in. My post facto reasoning is that only vampires of a certain power level cease to have reflections.

Well, hopefully this has served to be an illuminating post (apologies to the vampires for whom illumination isn’t a desired state of affairs). Perhaps I’ll make another similar post on werewolves later in the month. Stay tuned.

Mar 04 2015

WIP Update – 03 Mar 15

I did a little writing on Rowland’s Chapter 3 of TTWC3, but most of my time was spent in the peripheral materials. I cited a number of troops under Rowland’s command and I’m having to go back and work the numbers to see that it’s actually accurate. You see, I originally just had statistics on relative troop strengths by year, but I’ve been working on a complete battle record for more accurate calculations. I may or may not have said this before, but I don’t believe in throwing out numbers at random. If I cite some figure, there’s going to be some documentation to back it up.

Also, because I was working in the peripheral materials, I was browsing my archives of older versions of my files (I try to preserve copies of earlier versions after a major change, such as my first and second compression of the Tellus Arc timeline) and I found myself writing a bit on The Knight’s Twilight. Having spent so much time on the Trident War, I’m starting to miss our friends in Gladius. I can afford the occasional detour, but now that I’m putting Tellus Arc stories on weekly serialization, I need to stay on target. I’ve got a few months of lead time, but that could get used up rather quickly if I don’t stay on top of it. Stay tuned.

Sep 23 2014

WIP Update – 22 Sep 14

Inspiration took me in an unexpected direction and I did some writing on the Cross Arc story Child of Promise. Also did a little bit of dialog for The Boy King’s Madness. Where will the whimsy of my muse take me next? Stay tuned.

Sep 13 2014

WIP Update – 11-12 Sep 14

We have another instance of me missing my quota and then having to pay it back with interest the following day. I had a lot of work-related stuff going on Thursday, so that made it difficult. It’s not that I did nothing, mind you. I did a fair bit of work in the peripheral materials, working out the order of succession for the Hua Dynasty and getting their family tree started. However, as I’ve said time and time again (and this’ll be the last time I reiterate it, I swear), the quota system applies to story content only. The peripheral materials are just extra as far as all that’s concerned. Now, I’ve been above quota all week, so I can technically afford to slack off a day or two, but I’m really enjoying this boost to my productivity, so I intend to continue to put my nose to the grindstone.

The actual story progress came from KniTwi. I think I’m going to start mentioning which chapters I’m working on from now on since I have the structure established. The CeleKing stories aren’t quite as well-formed yet, though.

I’ve got the weekend before me, so I should be able to continue chugging along. Stay tuned.

Sep 11 2014

WIP Update – 10 Sep 14

I did some writing on KniTwi, but most of the day’s work was done in the peripheral materials. I got an outline sketched out for KniTwi and also solidified the one for The Boy King’s Madness. A lot of work on the military ranking structure for the Celestial Kingdom duology, which involved adapting the New Earth Empire’s ranks to Chinese. Also worked on the patrician families of Gladius, working out some of the details of the various family branches and their history. It all may sound boring to you, but I love getting elbow-deep in all this worldbuilding stuff. I might have teasers for the Celestial Kingdom books up in the next couple days. Stay tuned.

Sep 10 2014

WIP Update – 09 Sep 14

More work on that Cross Arc story and a little more progress on KniTwi. I really need to start formalizing the former and squaring away the outline for the latter. Fun, fun, fun. Stay tuned.

Sep 08 2014

WIP Update – 07 Sep 14

I really shouldn’t put off my writing to the end of the day. I didn’t get a word written Saturday because of it. I know I said I’d meet my daily quota no matter what, but there’s not much you can do when you pass right out in your chair.

However, I more than made up for it yesterday. I made progress on Chapters 15, 17, 19 and 23 of Tico4, did some more work on KniTwi, and also started jotting down dialog for new Cross Arc story I was recently inspired to develop. Rather busy, perhaps to the detriment of other priorities, but so it goes.

I guess I’ll be switching back over to TTWC2, but I imagine I’ll be doing some more work on KniTwi as well. Stay tuned.

Sep 01 2014

WIP Update – 31 Aug 14

I did a little writing on The Knight’s Twilight. I don’t have it quite organized enough to say which chapter is which yet, but it’s still fairly early on in the process. Maybe if I start devoting more energy toward the story, I’ll get things more squared away. For now, though, we’ll be switching back over to Tico4. Stay tuned.

Aug 29 2014

WIP Update – 28 Aug 14

I pretty well finished up Caligo’s Chapter 3 of TTWC2, wrapping up his section, and then did some writing throughout Orguz’s section. Chapters 1 and 3 are already pretty well finished and I was just doing some light editing. The prologue, Chapter 2 and the epilogue got a little a work done on them.

I also did some work on The Knight’s Twilight. For some reason, a bit of inspiration struck me and I jotted down some dialog. I’ve decided to completely rewrite the story from the ground up rather than struggle to rework the previous version into the current plan. It feels really nostalgic going back to the Gladius Cycle after spending so much time on The Trident War Chronicles. Maybe instead of moving directly on to TTWC3 after I finish TTWC2, I’ll work on some of the Gladius stories. That or I may start mixing it up more. I have plenty of lead time as far as serialization is concerned. We’ll see. Stay tuned.

Jun 30 2014

WIP Update – 29 Jun 14

Perhaps in part due to yesterday’s post comparing KoG to the Hero’s Journey, what writing I did yesterday was mostly in the peripheral materials with a Gladian bent, but I also piddled around a little in The Boy King’s Madness. I started adding charas to the cast and such, thinking more on the millieu of the kingdom during the time the story takes place. I’m getting a bit of a Game of Thrones-ey vibe off this one. There’s political intrigue and such in my other books, sure, but the tone that’s developing is different and that’s the best way I can describe it.  “Oh, great. I hope you aren’t inviting Mark’s son to any weddings.” Ha ha ha.

I kinda wish I’d finished Chapters 4 and 5 of Tico4 and I may actually devote a little time to doing that because I’m so far ahead on TTWC1. Finishing a chapter or two there would also be a nice goal for the week. Stay tuned.