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Love Among the Damned

by: Benedira A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

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The myths and legends of vampires have their basis in truth, even if many of those tales have strayed far from fact. The picture painted of the classic romantic vampire also springs from truth.

Save for those who actively toil to rid themselves of any feeling, Kindred are emotional creatures; perhaps even more driven by their emotions as humanitarian ethics begin to slip away with nothing to replace them. No longer do the human social protocols serve to mitigate the feelings of Kindred, and emotions like hate, fear, lust, and love are thrown into the light of startling clarity.

This treatise deals only with the machinations of romantic love, as it is the purest and most powerful positive emotion a vampire can experience. While the normal evolution of romance is changed for Kindred, the raw emotion of love is not. The immortal heart still falls prey to notions of passion and fulfillment, acceptance and invitation, grace and desire.

It is no secret that many human beings suffer under the notion that they are incomplete without a spouse or lover; that only through another can they be made whole. There is no magical property of the embrace that changes this quality, and those who experienced the driving need for companionship in life may still in death. Their search is made more difficult, perhaps even more tragically disappointing, by their new condition as it inhibits their ability to fulfill this need. They cannot seek love in the human quarter, for what human would love a creature that preys upon their very race? Even if love could transcend that perceived shortcoming, no such relationship could truly be shared without the human discovering the true nature of the vampire. Two options are left then: the vampire must risk both her own life and the life of her lover to the first Tradition, or her lover must be made a ghoul. Obviously the latter of the choices is more reasonable and more likely, and both may be happy with their romance for a time. As the slavery of the bond becomes apparent, however, this happiness will begin to ebb. The Kindred will eventually be left no choice but to realize that she does not know if it is love or simply the chains of her blood. The ghoul will come to realize that her choice to love has been taken away, perhaps eventually driven mad by the resentment of her situation warring with the love she can no longer escape. Inevitably the relationship turns sour, and the vampire must again look for the love that is the only thing that can make her whole. When this new love is located and likely also enthralled, she is often brought home to face the former lover she is replacing. So begins the jealous rivalry among the Kindred's thralls, and the self-defeating cycle is cemented.

Perhaps the vampire will come to realize the painful futility of this process before it ever begins, and shy away from considering humans as possible lovers. Perhaps she will instead turn to her own kind, seeking the redeeming grace of love in the arms of another Kindred.

Such a backbiting and deceitful lot are the kindred that it may be nigh impossible to find even one who inspires such dedication and devotion in a kindred heart without the aid of the blood bond. The possibility of romance is decreased even further when that devotion must be returned. There is the rare instance when it does happen though, and those who find their true love among night's children are undeniably in for a bumpy ride.

In the most basic terms, love is a weakness; a chink in even the most carefully constructed armor. A significant other is precisely the kind of leverage other Kindred wait for.

Perhaps you are too difficult to reach and influence, but your lover is not. Perhaps someone has the ability and drive to put puppet strings on your spouse that even you could not detect. If it comes to it, they can always take your loved one from you and use her as a bargaining chip, for you have already made it publicly known that whatever else you may care about, you care about her. Your lover will be the first target of those who seek to wound you or gain power over you without striking you directly.

There is also the strain of Kindred society on the relationship itself. If you are of different clans, pressure may come from your elders to break your ties with the rival bloodline. You might lose face and standing for consorting with the inferior clan at best, and be marked a traitor to your own clan at worst. Kindred who seek to weaken the position of both you and your spouse simply to assure that you cannot rise above them may orchestrate situations that will place you in direct competition or conflict with your loved one, knowing that the emotional and social turmoil that follows will keep you occupied for quite some time.

Eventually the physiology of Kindred will factor in, and the blood bond will become an issue. Kindred are known for their propensity for distrust, and perhaps neither in the relationship will wish to become enthralled to their lover. Conversely, perhaps both desire to bind their lover, to ensure their beloved cannot break their heart. There is also the danger of frenzy, and the horrible impact such a loss of control could have on the union.

If the relationship survives all these trials - the possible estrangement from clan, the perils of treachery from your enemies, the basic facts of unlife as a vampire - the Kindred may find herself in a long and somewhat happy relationship. That is, until ennui begins to set in. Vampires are notorious for boring easily, and the strange and meticulous obsessions they develop are proof of that fact. Kindred who overcome the tribulations of having a Kindred spouse often have drudgery to look forward to. They can likely anticipate the day when their lover no longer quickens them, no longer serves as a shining point of fascinating light in an otherwise dark night.

And so one or the other tires of their lover first, as synchronous boredom is almost too kind to hope for. In this way the vampire will likely create their greatest enemy, for the wrath of a Kindred heart scorned surely makes their human equivalents seem little more than pouting children in comparison. Amidst the myriad possibilities of war waged by their estranged lover, the Kindred must begin their search anew. But where to look now?

To seek refuge in mortal arms? No, the error in this choice is clear now. To seek acceptance in the kindred heart? No, her head still reels from the last undead lover. The Magi, the changing breed, the fae, perhaps the dead? No, for if she knows of them at all she knows there is no quarter for the waking dead in their ranks.

This may well be where derangements begin, where a frantic and desperate need that seems to have no hope of fulfillment drives the Kindred to ever more extreme ends. This may be the point when a simple desire becomes a consuming obsession that will color the vampire's every dealing and thought. Conversely, this may be the point where emotional isolation begins. Perhaps the Kindred has faith in the utter futility of the search for something she needs so badly, and contrives to remove herself from the possibility of experiencing the pain of failure. Perhaps this is the point when the Kindred heart and mind are torn, one seeking affection while the other rails against the very notion.

But not all Kindred harbor such a consuming obsession, and not all persons who receive the embrace buy into the dogma that one must have a significant other to make them complete. Some are perfectly content to be alone in that respect, feeling like they are in no way lessened by their single state. That does not, however, mean that these Kindred are immune to cupid's arrows. It does mean that these vampires are in a better position to see the folly of playing at games of love when other, more deadly games are constantly at hand.

The Kindred who suddenly finds themselves enamored of another is no doubt in for hours of self analyzation, wondering at the wisdom of exposing herself in such a fashion even while she does so. She may develop a strange love/hate relationship for the object of her affections, damning them for their alluring qualities even as she damns herself for falling victim to them. Perhaps she will decide to be content with secret admiration from afar, refusing to take notice of the fact that her favor for this Kindred or Kine is slowly being detected by her allies and enemies alike. Perhaps she will suffer months of personal failure, resolving to divorce herself from such paltry desires and having those resolutions shattered each time the irresistible other is near. If she is an older Kindred, become accustomed to the devious games of intrigue and manipulation so common among her kind, perhaps she will attempt to use these same games to draw the object of her desire close to her.

If the one that catches the kindred eye is human, fantasies of love and acceptance may inspire the kindred to embrace the mortal. This too usually ends terribly, as the loved one realizes what they have become and how closely bound they now are to their significant other. Worse off still is the Kindred whose love is embraced by another, for the sire may ask whatever they like in return for even allowing the enamored Kindred to speak to the object of their affections.

The potential disappointments and heartaches of kindred in love are as numerous as the means to manipulate and prey upon the weaknesses of others, and the victory of Kindred love is rare at best. The more that love becomes a driving force, the more difficult the Kindred's situation will become because of it. Love among the humans is never an easy thing to manage, and that one emotion can drive even the most stable and reasoning mind to acts of insanity or desperation. Among kindred, where extreme behavior is easily the norm, those acts can become equally extreme.

Whatever the root, whatever the cause, and whatever the target, love is a many headed beast that harries any Kindred who dare enter its lair. Once a vampire falls victim to such powerful emotions, they are likely not to see themselves free of it any time soon.

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