"Age of the Dead, New Dark Renaissance Period" – year 3420 AD
Futuristic setting, massive metropolis, extremely tall skyscrapers and futuristic methods of transportation, including flying and hovering vehicles. Surroundings have been spoiled by the touch of technology and industry. Civilization dominates the entirety of the United Kingdom; the urban area is centralized around what used to be London. The rolling green hills and natural beauty of Ireland and certain rural areas of England remain mostly intact and untainted, but the land in close proximity to the borders of the urban area has been reduced to a wasteland inhospitable to most life, ravaged by violent dust storms. This is due to the basis of much of their technology and religious rituals, the practice of dark alchemy, the unnatural transition of life-force energy from our parallel dimension, referred to as the "Realm of Darkness" onto our "Realm of Light." This energy source is unaccepted by our land, and it has a tendency to bring decay, waste and ruin to the natural forces it encounters here over time. Plant life and natural setting simulation within the city are man-made, genetically engineered to tolerate the taxing conditions of their surroundings, and placed specifically for the purposes of food, material and chemical resources; very little is placed for decoration.
The Vampire race has a constitution and metabolism very similar to our own, so, omnivorous in nature, they eat many of the same foods we do. During the era of their hiding among our people in our own civilizations, they were affected by our culture and became accustomed to our foods. When the remnants of the Vampire race came together in a single empire, the cultural development was very similar to the "melting pot" factor of the United States, a blending of many different subcultures, and consequently, many different tastes and recipes. However, since their resources for genetic engineering were drawn mostly from the natural occurrences around them before the construction of the empire, wheat and potatoes are more plentiful and largely produced in comparison to other crops.
As for meat, large sections of the surrounding untainted rural areas of the UK have been reserved to automated farms, minimally managed and operated by local caretakers, for the raising, slaughtering, and butchering of livestock including cows, sheep, goats, and chickens. These farms are also used for the raising and harvest of natural crop resources in a sealed and controlled climate for year-round maximum production. Anticipating the tainting of the remaining workable land of the UK in the coming decades, during their conquest and expansion over Western Europe, rural areas there have been occupied for the mass expansion of these farms. Over the years, technological and industrial resources will be minimized in the local surroundings and redirected to these new expansions.
And, of course, much to our dismay, the most important part of the Vampire diet is human flesh and blood. Also much to our dismay, this cannot be consumed cooked or prepared; it must be consumed raw and fresh. However, this is attributable to their nature as a species, and not as a culture.
The vampire biology is one of genetic assimilation, and is under a slow, yet constant state of reprogramming and reconstruction from birth, a physical evolution into not only a more efficient predator, but also a more durable mortal casing capable of containing an ever-growing spiritual energy. Because of this physical change, their genetic composition periodically goes through stages of chaotic flux during its realignment to facilitate it, which makes them genetically unstable.
During these periods of genetic flux, a function unique to the vampire metabolism is triggered which instinctively calls for them to feed on human flesh. Because of the genetic similarity between humans and vampires, their bodies are capable of using mass quantities of fresh human genetic material as a substitute for the structural material compromised during the genetic realignment. Later, this material will be slowly broken down into simpler, stored nutrients and absorbed into the blood stream to fuel the healing process that follows.
During the early stages of the healing process, a surge of white blood cells is released into the blood stream in response to the prolonged exposure of many massive internal wounds, and the risk of their infection. By the time the wounds have healed, there has been a huge taxation to the white blood cell count, which must be replenished before the beginning of the next genetic flux cycle. This need is what calls forth the blood thirst.
The complete cycle occurs over the period of approximately two weeks, and repeats itself approximately every three months, resulting in each vampire claiming an average of two human victims every cycle.
Fortunately for us, in this era of the vampire reign, the purebloods are few in number, and they are the only ones who enter human feeding cycles. In previous millennia, humans were captured by the hundreds and imprisoned, stored for the private feeding of the nobility. But in the exponentially lower demand over the centuries, and in the discovery that imprisoned humans suffering from malnutrition are less beneficial, it has been deemed better to actively hunt individual humans, or in small groups at periods of need.
Clothing, outside of military outfitting, is mostly cotton based. Utilizing nearby environmental containment zones for the genetic engineering and growth of cotton trees, designated clothing factories at ground level near the central urban area have been restored for resource efficiency in order to mass produce clothing and fabrics for distribution. All clothing is uniform ceremonial black, accented by the patterns and colors representative of the five Houses. There is little variance in the clothing of the turned and lower pureblood, but the high elders and House Patriarchs wear custom garbs representative of their power and rule. The elders usually wear decorative ceremonial robes, and the Patriarchs usually wear suits of a style referred to as "Neo Victorian" with long capes emblazoned with the crests of their respective Houses.
The entirety of the city is composed of massive, multi-hundred floor skyscrapers. The upper sectors of the city are used for housing accommodations as they are at an altitude safely away from the hazardous dust storms. The lower sectors of the city are industrial districts used for resource processing and product development, run entirely by machine and monitored from designated control centers within the office districts of the central urban area. The lower sections are only visited by the "turned," only for maintenance to the machines, and only in military grade environmental hazard suits known as desert suits.
The hierarchy of nobility resides toward the center of the city according to influential power for the sake of military defense. The "turned" (the undead reanimated by the dark sorcery of the Houses of Dead Gardens and the Pillar) reside on the outskirts of the city in mass-produced, minimal accommodations to assure that they remain healthy and sane at the minimum cost to resources. There, they also run and maintain the surrounding military fortresses that enclose the city. The younger pureblood live on the outer limits of the office districts in well accommodated, yet limited housing.
The elder pureblood live in reserved and secure zones within the entertainment and shopping districts that encircle the central most district, occupied by the private manors of the high elders and House Patriarchs, known collectively as the Fifteen Council. These lavish, decadent, private estates are serviced and maintained by private selections of the "turned," and are guarded as restricted access, maximum military security zones along with the central administrative building known as The Pentacle Tower.
All domiciles are sealed with airlock entryways and reinforced with retractable titanium shutters for the safety of the residents in the event of environmentally hazardous conditions caused by dark alchemy malpractice or dust storm ascent.
The government within the Shadowed Empire is an inherited hierarchy where the power is divided among the Patriarchs of the five great Houses and their advisors, the high elders (the two eldest, wisest vampires of each respected house). They are known as the Fifteen Council, and represent the five great Houses that retain the ancient legacy of the vampire race: The House of the Morning Star, The House of the New Moon, The House of Dead Gardens, The House of the Pillar, and The House of the Prodigy. Each House represents the five greatest families and empires of the feudal era that survived the ages with the greatest contributions to the Dark Arts, the most influential power of their respective world regions, and the only empires with remaining blood descendants of their founders.
The Houses are ruled internally in the ways of the feudal era, wherein the founding family retains blood-right of royalty unless their power is challenged by a family in subservience to inheritor bloodline. If so, the Patriarch will either be overthrown by force, or the challenging family will be disbanded from their positions of power and banished from the realm. If successful, the Patriarch will be removed by assassination, and the remaining royal family will step down from their separate positions of power which will be redistributed among the new Patriarch's family as he sees fit.
The decisions regarding the entirety of the empire and all its people will be divided by compromise between the majority favor.
There is no form of currency, as the ever-subservient "turned" are a source of slave labor and the remaining vampire societies are unified in a common interest and effort. A standing in society is not earned by the ownership and control of resources, but by the amount of respect afforded by age, wisdom, strength, and blood-right. The more useful and more important you are to the endeavor of the empire, the more you are catered to and taken care of. This society is a true hierarchy organized by strength and divine providence.
The common belief of the vampire race in the beginnings of their civilization was in reflection of the beliefs of man. They believed theirs a species of damned souls, forever turned from the eyes God (in all His identities over the millennia). However, as vampire society gazed inward in search of spiritual growth and enlightenment, they facilitated their ethereal control over the Dark Arts, and discovered the existence of the parallel Dark Realm, the origins of their spiritual essence.
Since the beginning of their existence, respect was afforded by age, power, and wisdom. Therefore, they revered the first of their kind, the unnamed "Adam and Eve" of their species, referred to only as the Great Mother and Father, as mortal gods and the shepherds of their souls.
Tales are told of the Age of the Dawn, a nearly forgotten time when the Great Mother and Father actively ruled over and guided their children for thousands of years, and it was a time of prosperity. But over the ages, decadence washed over the vampire race in their safety under the protection of their mortal gods. So, they declared that their children would only find true strength and enlightenment in their absence, and thus afford the right to transgress their mortal forms.
Legend has it that the Great Father took to slumber beneath the land for the remainder of mortal days, and the Great Mother was as his ever watching eye on earth, hidden from yet constantly observing the growth of their children.
Over the ages, they have offered prayer to their sleeping father in meditative connection with his lingering spirit, and ritualistic blood sacrifice in honor of the watchful Great Mother. Prophecy has it that when the Great Father and Mother deem their children worthy, they will return to swallow the Realm of Light in darkness and guide the souls of their children in the pilgrimage to the serene void of the Realm of Darkness in ascent from their mortal forms.
The vampire species does not age in the same manner as humans, nor at the same rate. New children are born to the vampire species only every few centuries, and are few in number. This is because vampires mature much slower than humans, and consequently, their reproductive impulses are triggered only after the first five centuries of life. This is a biological response to the instinct against the threat of overpopulation due to excessive longevity and in favor of the strongest and most highly developed specimens of the species.
Because of this, there is no institution of education for the young. Their education is left entirely up to the designated mentors and the eldest of the bloodline. Before they are given any responsibility as a warrior, scholar, or any decisive power in the family, they are instructed in the arts, in the sciences, in politics, in moral philosophy, in eloquence and in the traditions and practices of the worship of the mortal gods under the tutoring of the wisest in the immediate family.
Over the centuries, advancement in society is only recognized and achieved by many rights of passage, proof of ones mettle and value through ceremonial tests organized by the Patriarchs and high elders.
As stated above, the vampire species does not age in the same manner as human beings. Age does not bring mental and physical degradation, but rather strength, wisdom and integrity. The eldest of the vampire species are the most respected and most honored in their society. While the high elders of the five great Houses are allowed less decisive power than the Patriarchs, this position is only earned by having once passed the title of Patriarch to the next inheritor in the bloodline. Even the Patriarchs owe the high elders a debt of respect.
Death usually finds a vampire in excessive trauma during a feeding cycle, the failure to satiate a feeding cycle, or the willing spiritual ascent from the mortal form, but never in old age.
Song, dance and story telling are very popular forms of entertainment, along with the assimilated technological methods of past human societies, but as a highly aggressive species, they value tests of strength and contests of martial skill as a favored past time. However, unlike in modern human society and due to their collectively ruthless nature, death is a commonly accepted outcome of these contests, as it has been said that you only deserve to retain what you can protect, and the weak do not deserve to survive.
The only sentient outsiders to the empire are of the human race, and those who dare to trespass are handled without mercy. In their technological and physical superiority over the human race in this era, their military is so heavily maintained against another threat known as the vampiel, an evolutionary half-breed species between humans and vampires. Originally, the vampiel were sentient, and were generally passive in their relations with either species. However, a recently developed genetic defect has rendered these half-breeds as blood –thirsty berserkers with an instinctive bloodlust against the vampire species. Conventional projectile weaponry has proven ineffective against the speed and durability of this new threat. In response, the most recent advancement in vampire military technology has focused on the utilization of particle acceleration, outfitting their soldiers with what are known as APACs (Automatic Particle Acceleration Cannons).
Most social rules are instilled through centuries of teaching or by the Fifteen Council. As a highly competitive species who commonly hold the belief that the end justifies the means, rules of etiquette are lenient when relating to peers, but strict when relating superiors. Theirs is a society of strict obedience to the superior, and any social deviance from even the smallest social norm is often punished severely, either in banishment or death. To defy the word of your superior is to defy the word of those above your superior, and to defy their word is to defy the word of the Fifteen Council, which is to defy the word of the mortal gods.
House of the Morning Star
Symbolizes that the clan stands above the sun itself, wielding its rays as a blade to strike its enemies from the earth.
House of the New Moon
Symbolizes the clan's search for enlightenment through their bond with the beasts of nature, giving their minds to the fangs of the wolf, the claws of the cat, and the wings of the bat.
House of Dead Gardens
The emblem of the closed rose, symbolic of the summoning of the dead in both body and spirit to serve the empire to an honorable end, and ultimately find peaceful rest through it.
House of the Pillar
Symbolic of Death's sacrifice to remove himself from both realms and take the burden of the "pillar" of balance between them, to be as the eternal eye that sees and presides over both worlds, but will be of neither.
House of the Prodigy
Symbolic of the philosophy that to find true enlightenment and worthiness of the dark realm is to find the source of the power of the mortal gods, to obtain that power, and to be as one with them.