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The Shadows of the Vampires
The vampire plague had its origin in mortals dabbling with the dark arts.
In the wake of the Corpse War, several humans began practising forms of necromancy for one reason or another.
Some saw the seemingly overwhelming powers of the undead and desired them for themselves. Others desperately tried to discover some countermeasures for the undead threat.
Researching for either good or evil, a small cabal of people studying necromancy became infected or cursed, slowly turning them into ghouls themselves. The change was slow enough for the necromancer fledglings to try to avert this change with any means possible. They came up with several methods, mostly based on alchemy. At long last they turned distilled human blood mixed with several forbidden ingredients of demonic origin into an effective potion. Not only did the potion end the rotting transformation, it also revitalised the drinker, making him feel healthier and stronger than ever before. It seemed to be an immediate success.
After the entire cabal received the 'cure' it quickly became obvious that the success was only temporal at best. Soon they began feeling weak. Human food offered them nourishment no more. Again and again they were forced to revert to their potion. Trying desperately to find a permanent cure, they varied the original formula, to no avail.
Two of the brightest minds of the cabal finally joined efforts in their research, refusing to let others participate. This slowed them down in their experiments. At long last they came up with a theory that the blood of one of their 'kind' just might be the cure they need.
Instead of carefully draining themselves and exchanging the blood, they started an argument over who should be the first to be cured. Soon the argument got out of hand, resulting in a fight about who had made the discovery and who deserved the praise. A fight of words turned into a fight of fists, one of them ended up dead and the unwilling donor of the much needed blood.
The survivor indeed felt cured, even better than before. He disclosed his research to his fellow necromancers, declaring the death of his colleague an accident. The others were too interested in the cure to truly care, eager to be cured themselves. Though blood was gathered and exchanged it did little to cease the transformation, let alone stop it. The 'cured' necromancer soon figured out the blood had to be taken from a living donor in such a mass and speed that the victim would surely die.
Secretly he shared this knowledge with his most trusted brethren. They slew the others by night. After the initial shock the victims fought back. More than half of the cabal met its demise in this fight. Only few escaped, doomed to become nearly mindless ghouls.
The others learnt soon enough that the supposed cure only stabilised their semi-undead state in some way. Though no longer dependent on complicated alchemical potions, they knew that only the blood of the living would quench their thirst. Also, they were able to infect their victims with some strange strain of their own illness, making them the first true vampires with the attributes and vulnerabilities that are known to us today. It was not possible to recreate the original illness or curse that in combination with several not documented potions initially turned the cabal into unliving things.
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