kismet's world of darkness title

Samedi: A View From Within

by: Cesare Caligari A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

Settle down. Don't be afraid of me. I'm not a violent man; I'm not a pervert or a monster. The things you think about my clan are false: propaganda against us, and our beliefs. I just want you to know some things. Before I tell you, however, you have to attempt to answer a few questions for me... Tell me, what game is always played but never won? Who, then, is the visitor who always comes but is never welcome? Well, what is the riddle that nobody understands, but all correctly answer?

The end results of these questions are all the same in principle: the principle of death. These descriptions, however, are but a few possible philosophical and metaphoric examples; death can be likened to so many things. Mankind is a powerful candidate, including friends, family, and loved ones, for as men grow up, so too do they grow old, and from the moment they begin to live, they begin to die. Nature places a bid, also; it is only natural for things that live to die, and such is dictated by their life span. Planets are birthed and die, much as humans are and do, although they are not capable of either. Even the things that hold no corporeal form are born and eventually die, including ages, emotions, epochs, and ideas. Revelations and revolutions alike hold no sway versus time immemorial.

I am the playing cards with which the game is played. I am the path on which the visitor makes his journey. I am the silent air who hears but never tells the riddle.

I am dead, that is for certain. Yet, somehow - although I no longer play - I will not leave the table. Although I do not welcome the visitor, I will not allow him to go. Although I understand the riddle, I will not answer it. The single quality that sets me apart from the others is that I am cognizant; I know what I am. I do not hide behind facades of violence or art or magic. I do not pretend to be living, or mortal, or even human. I am undead. I am a vampire. I am a Samedi. And, I am 'cursed' by Cain, just as you are.

I often hear Kindred speak of the Curse as though it were, well, a curse. They see themselves, horrid creatures of the night, forever ill fated to drink the blood of the living and sustain themselves as parasites would. However, they have their own ways of hiding this nature. The Brujah take up arms with and against their brothers, seeking any ideal that shadows that of their own being, fact or fiction. The Toreador believe that we are graceful, artful creatures, entities of utter beauty and distinguishable character, rather than deceitful monsters. The Tremere hide behind their Thaumaturgy, under the false assumption that somehow their powers of magic will overcome the inevitable. Malkavians, Nosferatu, Assamites: these clans, and many more, base their lives around foolish secrets, veils, and lies, and little else. The chaos amongst the order, the scandal amongst the royalty, or the highest bounty amongst the highest bidders; all these guises are little more than altered states of denial regarding the fact that we are paradoxical in nature. The fact that we are not alive denotes us as dead. Yet, we walk. We eat. We think. We think, therefore we are. Aren't we? There are so many questions, so many riddles with riddles for answers. I ask myself, what is 'dead'? All I have for an answer is; what is 'alive'?

I am as much a vampire as any Brujah, Toreador, or Tremere; the difference is, I do not hide behind false realities. I know what I am, and I choose to remain such. Had I wished to be human or dead, I would be dead.

The only question left that one can truly pose is, why? Why do I continue as I do? Why do I hide behind this guise, when I reprimand all others for doing the same?

The death amongst the life. All clans have their secrets. Ours are just a little more gruesome.

In this flesh, in these hands, as dead as they are, lies a secret and ancient power, a terrible power that you can only ever see in your dreams, although you may have it visited upon you in reality, in my reality. We call it Thanatosis. You may call it death.

Imagine if you will, lifting the curse of Cain for just a moment. No longer chronologically immortal, your body will age and, inevitably, die. All the time that you have managed to elude will catch up with you in a horrid display of death taking what was rightfully it's to belong with. Years, centuries, millennia catch up in an instant, aging the cells, and then rotting them, finally reducing them to dust all in a heartbeat. Or, rather, the halting thereof. Now, localize that effect to my touch. Can you see it now?

Do you see my face? Do you see this rot, this decay? Can you smell it? Imagine your body under these conditions. Imagine suspending the curse for you, so that you rot and decay and carry the stench with you. What do you think of this? What do you consider this to be?

This is an opportunity. No other clan displays such physical characteristics as we Stiffs, and thus, no other clan is as adept at studying the processes of death as we, and no other clan has the powers over the Curse like we. We are perfect scientists, researchers, philosophers, artists; few know the passions that are roused by this visage. We share much with the Nosferatu; they, and they alone, know the pains of being what they are; unaccepted by a society that accepts only normality. The norm is always the standard, which leaves me to wonder why you are so apprehensive, considering death is a very normal phenomenon.

Is it this hideous visage? Is it our belief system? Is it our control of the physical representation of death? The studies we do, they are secret. The beliefs we have, they are secret. The powers that manifest themselves, they are secret. We are, indeed, a secretive bunch, as all of you are. Thus, we do not reprimand others for being secretive. We prefer to keep to ourselves, and search for what we long. This is where we differ; others, they seem to display their secrets to the general public, then attempt to hide them, in some sort of infantile bid for power over others through secrets.

Our secrets are our own. We share them with those who wish to know, and we hold nothing over the heads of others, although we do not appreciate their being taken. But then, of what concern are you to us? Why should we take any interest in you? Well, why shouldn't we?

There are so many questions out there - many more than there are answers. Listen closely now, for this will be the only advice I give you before you make your decision: the trick in life is not to answer every question, but to question every answer.

Apparently, your answer seems to involve lynching me. Remember my death-powers. If I am to die, then I will take as many of you as I can with me, and you will go much more painfully than I.

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