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Blood tithes are a form of tax rendered periodically by the vampyre rulers of Morytania. At the direction of House Drakan, blood tithes have been extracted from various non-vampyric races of the region for several thousand years, since the fall of the Hallowland during the early-to-mid Third Age. By the law of Morytania, humans and werewolves are expected to periodically forfeit a certain portion of their blood, which is extracted from the body through a variety of different means.
Because blood is the vampyre race's primary dietary staple and energy source, its regulation has become a central objective of House Drakan. After Lord Lowerniel Vergidiyad Drakan conquered the Hallowland during the God Wars, he converted its capital, Hallowvale, into a massive bloodfarming ghetto known as Meiyerditch. The tithes were then imposed on most non-vampyres in Drakan's control, both within and outside of the Sanguinesti region. The arrival of many human settlers in the late Fourth Age eventually prompted Drakan to expand the tithing system, allowing it to encompass these settlements as well. The oppression of these settlements proved highly detrimental to their inhabitants, and ultimately led to the disintegration of most civilization outside of the Sanguinesti region.
Blood tithing, apart from sustaining the vampyre race, has also historically caused fear, suffering, and poverty amongst its victims. Those that pay blood tithes are usually left in a state of physical and mental weakness. Blood poisoning and anemia are common amongst tithe victims. Settlements subjugated to blood tithing have typically not survived long.
It is unclear whether organised blood tithing existed prior to Lord Drakan's conquest of the Hallowland. The vampyre race first arrived in Gielinor during the early Second Age, at which point they became key figures within the civilization of the deity Zaros. It is unknown whether the race used a tithing system in their homeworld, or whilst in Zaros's service. Feral vampyres, a less intelligent relative of the vampyres, are known to actively hunt prey in the wild, directly feeding from those they kill. Similar tactics, such as those used by Count Victor Draynor Drakan, are known to have been adopted by vampyres in the past, although usually only in a less controlled setting.
Establishment of Bloodfarming
The first and only known civilization to use an organised blood tithing system is that of Morytania. Because Lord Drakan had aided the Mahjarrat Zamorak in his actions against Zaros during the Second Age, Zamorak granted him permission to invade the Hallowland. After a drawn-out war, the region's Icyene leaders, King Ascertes and Queen Efarity, were dethroned, and control of the nation given to Drakan. Drakan proceeded to redevelop Hallowvale, razing it to the ground. A ghetto known as Meiyerditch was built over its ruins, and the survivors of the invasion imprisoned behind its massive walls.
The ghetto itself was divided into six sectors separated by run-down housing developments and artificial barriers. The ghettos were scheduled for tithing on a rotational basis so as to ensure that most residents would have time to recover from their past tithing before being taxed again. To control the ghetto's residents and manage the tithing process, Drakan created the vyrewatch, a force of vampyres capable of flight and nearly immune to conventional weaponry.
Following the fall of the Hallowland, the majority of the vampyre race remained within Sanguinesti, where they survived off a plentiful supply of blood. Settlements established outside Sanguinesti, such as those of the werewolves, were taxed as well, but were usually without a large vampyre presence until tithing became necessary. In these cases, representatives were sent to exact the tithe. Though these were usually vampyres, humans were at times forced to tithe other members of their race, usually upon being threatened with punishment.
Drakan attempted to expand beyond Morytania several times during the God Wars. Settlements were, at various times, established in what is now Misthalin, and tithes were presumably demanded of those in the region. Similarly, Drakan was involved in the Kharidian Desert Campaign that engulfed the northern Kharidian Desert from the Years 3,000 to 4,000. However, neither expansion was successful long-term, and by the end of the Third Age, Drakan's attention was settled primarily on tithing those within Sanguinesti.
Settlers Enter Morytania
Drakan's control of Morytania was virtually absolute throughout the God Wars and into the late Fourth Age. However, in the Year 1777, human settlers from regions such as what are now Misthalin and Asgarnia entered Morytania hoping to escape the violence that dominated most of Gielinor. Because Drakan's subjects had mostly become centred in and around the Sanguinesti region, northern Morytania was largely peaceful. Settlements such as the Lordship of the North Coast, Port Phasmatys, and Mort'ton were established at varying times, and thrived in Drakan's absence.
It was only in the Year 23 of the Fifth Age that Drakan began a campaign to re-establish his influence over the whole of Morytania. Vampyre representatives were sent to the human settlements, at which point they re-asserted Drakan's control and demanded blood tithes. The settlers, who had come to believe the vampyres to be either a myth or long-gone from Morytania, were taken by surprise. Some were able to flee over the River Salve, where the discovery of runes had made humanity the dominant race in much of Gielinor. Those that remained, however, were subjected to the tithes. This oppression rapidly led to the disintegration of many settlements, which could not survive the demanding taxes.
When threatened with the tithes, these settlements responded in a number of ways. The only humans to openly resist the tithes were the inhabitants of what is now Castle Fenkenstrain, which dominated the Lordship of the North Coast. The castle's inhabitants fought Drakan for generations, firmly refusing to pay the tithes even as the Lordship of the North Coast disintegrated and a werewolf settlement, Canifis, was established near its western fringe. The werewolves of Canifis willingly paid the tithes because of their support for Drakan. The werewolves usually provided the vampyres with captured prey as a means of payment; however, when they were unable to catch anything, a werewolf was selected instead.
The people of Port Phasmatys initially succumbed to the tithes, despite the damaging effects they had on the port. The port's residents eventually turned to Necrovarus, a mage from the Eastern Lands, who used a deposit of ectoplasm to create a barrier capable of preventing the vampyres from entering the settlement. Shortly afterwards, however, the inhabitants of Port Phasmatys found that, upon death, they were trapped in Gielinor as ghosts, and were in turn forced to worship the ectofuntus to increase Necrovarus' own power. The vampyres lost interest, as the ghosts lacked the blood needed to fulfil tithes. Gradually, the port fell into ruin.
Mort'ton, the southernmost settlement established during this era, gave in to the tithes. Though these tithes were damaging to the village, Mort'ton was able to survive with relative prosperity for more than a century.
In the recent Fifth Age, the vampyre race began to suffer from a blood shortage. A variety of factors, such as the disintegration of so many human settlements, may have played role in this shortage. Shortly thereafter, House Drakan began a research initiative focused on improving the means by which blood tithing could be conducted. A subterranean laboratory was established in a cavern beneath Meiyerditch, in which vampyres and selected humans began to research a branch of science known as Haemalchemy.
The main focus of the initiative was to find means by which blood could be extracted more efficiently from humans. In order to study this, a large number of ghetto residents were taken from Meiyerditch and imprisoned in the caves adjacent to the laboratory. Inside the caves, the vampyres conducted violent human experimentation on live captives. A variety of cages, restraining devices, surgical tools, and mangled corpses have since been found in the cave.
The vampyres' efforts to improve tithing through Haemalchemy ultimately appear to have been unsuccessful. Several years ago, the vampyres discovered something in their research that had the potential to compromise their hold on the region. Shortly thereafter, the laboratory and its findings were destroyed, as were most humans involved in the study.
Resistance and Other Modern Developments
In the last decade, blood tithing has undergone a number of changes. Several years ago, Castle Fenkestrain's resistance to Drakan was finally overcome. The castle's doctor, Fenkenstrain, convinced the then-master of the castle, Lord Rologarth, that the tithes must be paid in order to escape eventual destruction at the hands of the vampyres. Fenkenstrain, in reality, sought to claim the castle for himself, and was promised control of it by the vampyres should he help them to claim its other inhabitants. Rologarth reluctantly began to send residents into the Haunted Woods, where they were claimed by the vampyres as payment. Fenkenstrain eventually murdered Rologarth and turned out the remaining castle residents, effectively leaving the castle empty save for Fenkenstrain himself.
Similarly, tithing in Mort'ton was reduced drastically by an outbreak of a disease known as the Sanguinesti Affliction. The disease, which appears to have spread from the Sanguinesti Region, reduced most of the villagers into nearly-mindless afflicted. The town quickly fell into ruin, and although tithing is still conducted on any healthy survivors, the afflicted's blood has proven distasteful, if not completely poisonous, to the vampyres.
The only modern settlement to escape the tithes is Burgh de Rott, a village near Mort'ton inhabited mostly by escapees from the Sanguinesti Region. Under the guidance of a woman known as Elisabeta, the village has managed to escape the vampyre's notice. During the In Aid of the Myreque quest, the town is discovered by a human tither known as Gadderanks, but the player's intervention prevents knowledge of the village from reaching House Drakan.
Organised resistance to tithing, as well as to the vampyres as a whole, first developed recently in the form of The Myreque. Led by leaders such as Safalaan Hallow, Calsidiu, and Veliaf Hurtz, the Myreque have established an organised resistance effort throughout Morytania. During the Myreque quest series, the player lends their support to the Myreque in their war, which in turn leads to the direct involvement of Misthalin. After River of Blood, blood tithing seems to have ceased.
Modern Tithing by Settlement
Currently, blood tithing is conducted in a number of settlements throughout Morytania. The following table illustrates the status of the region's settlements in relation to the tithes.
Settlement Pays Tithes Notes Burgh de Rott No Despite its relative proximity to Sanguinesti region, the vampyres believe Burgh de Rott to be abandoned, as it was prior to the refugees' recent arrival. The town is tithed once during In Aid of the Myreque, but its discoverers are killed before their knowledge can reach Sanguinesti. Canifis Yes Werewolves pay the blood tithe willingly, as they support the vampyres' control of the region. In most cases, werewolves pay the vampyres with the meat of captured humans, but if none can be found, a werewolf will be selected to fulfil the tithe. Darkmeyer No Darkmeyer is a primarily vampyre settlement, and so tithing is not conducted there. Fenkenstrain's Castle No Lord Rologarth was recently convinced by Dr Fenkenstrain to pay the tithe. Later, Fenkenstrain is revealed to have done so after being promised ownership of the castle by the vampyres. Since Rologarth's murder at Fenkenstrain's hands, no castle inhabitants remain to be tithed. Meiyerditch Yes Meiyerditch is the centre of blood tithing in Morytania. Human residents inhabit one of six ghetto districts, and are tithed rotationally. Mort'ton Yes Mort'ton is currently infected by the so-called Sanguinesti Affliction originating from the Sanguinesti Region. The afflicted villagers' blood has since been rendered undesirable to the vampyres. During Darkness of Hallowvale, it is mentioned that tithes are still taken from Mort'ton, although presumably only healthy villagers are tithed. Port Phasmatys No Necrovarus' use of ectoplasm has created a barrier keeping the vampyres out of the port. House Drakan has since lost interest, as Phasmatys' settlers have since been trapped as ghosts lacking any blood to give.
The vampyres are known to use a variety of methods to extract blood from tithe victims. When tithing for personal sustenance, vampyres are known to directly suck the blood from their victim's neck in much the same way wild vampyres do. While this is probably the fastest and simplest method of tithing, blood extracted in this way cannot be gathered or stored. Because of its limitations, this method is usually only used by vyrewatch patrolling Sanguinesti.
More frequently, blood must be stored and brought to Sanguinesti, and so other methods are used. Often blood is gathered by making some type of incision on the victim's body, in much the same way real-world bloodletting was performed. The desired portion is then drained from the wound and stored in some type of container, such as a barrel. The vampyres are also said to be capable of extracting blood from victims without making any physical contact, using some type of magic. However, this has yet to be observed.
Although the vampyres may have discovered other methods of tithing in their Haemalchemical research, none are known to have been implemented since the end of the project.
Physical and Psychological Effects
The victims of blood tithes suffer physical and often psychological side-effects. After being tithed, victims are often left weak and fatigued for an extended period of time. The skin of victims often appears pale, and their weight often drops drastically. The wound, as well as orifices such as the nose, are known to continue bleeding for some time after the tithe itself is over. Blood poisoning, as well as the development disease, is not uncommon.
Blood tithing has been used as a psychological threat for centuries. Settlements and individuals threatened with blood tithes are often left in a state of fear that leads to their easy manipulation and abuse.
Players travelling in the Sanguinesti region can also be subject to the tithes administered by the Vyrewatch, though Vyrewatch clothing reduces the chance of being seen. At random, nearby Vyrewatch can land and ask for a tithing, at which point the player can choose one of the following options:
- Take the tithe, which does 60 life points of damage to the player.
- Be sent to the mines to mine 15 Daeyalt ore (after reaching a certain point in Darkness of Hallowvale).
- Attack the Vyrewatch. This is not advised unless the player is wielding an Ivandis Flail (created during the Legacy of Seergaze quest, or any of the weapons created during Branches of Darkmeyer. The player will not be able to kill or even hurt the Vyrewatch unless wielding an Ivandis Flail or such).
- Attempt to distract the Vyrewatch. The success rate depends on the player's Thieving level; an unsuccessful attempt will result in a forced blood tithe.
- After the release of Quick Chat, a blood tithe pouch could be found in the item list. No such item can be found in game, and its significance is unknown, though it was likely an item intended to be used in Darkness of Hallowvale concerning blood tithes, but was not released in the final iteration of the quest.
- After reaching a certain point in The Branches of Darkmeyer, the player will no longer be stopped by vyrewatch for blood tithes, as Vanescula Drakan claims the player as her personal blood tithe.
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