A Taste of Hope
by Lord Lowerniel
The House of Drakan's roots were formed from Vampyrium's tribal system, as is true for all of the great houses. In those days of old, blood was nothing more than sustenance to keep us alive. You were either predator or prey, and the tribal leaders either ruled by strength or they did not rule for long.
Each of the tribes had their own hunting grounds and preferences, and many tribal wars erupted over territory. Though we were a naturally resilient species, average life expectancy was short due to the savagery of our world at that time.
The arrival of Lord Zaros brought an end to the tribal system, with him forming them into the early houses of Vampyrium. He introduced to us alien cultural concepts such as society and art. The more we followed his tutelage, the more refined our tastes became, and blood started to become about more than just a means to live. As vampyric life expectancy was prolonged, so too did our palates become refined, tasting in the blood the essence of a being. Cannibalistic haematophagy was outlawed, and weakened predators became servants, their wings clipped, and their place set on the ground, while the burgeoning nobility rose up both figuratively and literally with the building of many great towers and castles. Blood was no longer just food, but access to blood became a sign of wealth.
As the head of the newly formed House Drakan, I drank in Lord Zaros's lessons more eagerly than my peers. Before the concept of laws were passed on to our newborn aristocracy, I seized an opportunity to co-opt my neighbouring houses...by draining their leaders of blood. These smaller houses fell under my leadership, and the House of Drakan became the prevailing power on Vampyrium. As the wealthiest living vampyre, I tasted many different bloods, refining my palate further still, discovering that food from each of House Drakan's territories held subtle differences in taste.
The ruler of Alzeph was a contemptible vyre. Those they ate tended to be vyres from other tribes, and the other tribes loathed the Alzeph. Such blood is thankfully rare since the birth of the new aristocracy and the Alzeph now being wiped out. I had the displeasure of tasting some blood from their stores, which was disgustingly spicy and held a grainy texture. It is quite difficult to find humans that don't hold some form of contempt for vampyres, but thankfully it requires an intense level of disgust before the taste of the blood is affected.
My favoured blood was always that of my homelands - blood tinged with a taste of optimism and hope. I have trained my venators to be silent stalkers of their prey. When unable to take their prey unawares, they would allow it to escape and feel safe again before bringing it down. If the animal does not feel threatened before death, instead feeling freedom, then the tinge of hopefulness within its blood retains a sweetness beyond measure.
The Ghrazi were the most vicious of all vampyre tribes, priding themselves on their ability to fight rather than stalk. They would not capture their prey so much as bait it, goad it into combat. They would only hunt the most fearsome and territorial beasts of Vampyrium, not the myriad of docile creatures. They believed they were ingesting the strength of all they ate. Personally, I found the aggression within the blood of such creatures to be foul - swill for an unrefined palate, not fitting for a cultured society. The tribe took to our burgeoning society poorly, with the vast majority being clipped and effectively used as pack animals for our hunts. If not for their ferocity in battle, Id[sic] have had them all put down.
Lord Jovkai was the longest ruling tribal leader in the pre-Zarosian age, and the oldest recorded living vyre. He was a beloved leader, and this love was transposed on to their prey. They would treat their food with care and tenderness, allowing it to live among them feeling safe and cared for...before mercilessly slaughtering it behind closed doors. I was pleasantly surprised by the bloods from this region, a bittersweet taste with a lingering finish.
The Myrmel tribe would stalk entire families or social groups, quickly striking down one of their number, yet not feeding from that first kill. Instead, they would hunt down the remaining family members as the cries of their wounded rang in their ears. Their adrenal response of fight or flight, coupled with intense regret that they were leaving a loved one behind, imbued their blood with an effervescent fizz, making it lighter and more aromatic. The process of collecting such blood, however, was very wasteful. When the Myrmel were absorbed into House Drakan, I decreed that the process only be used for special celebrations, with the primary victim's blood used to feed the lower-born vyres.
The Pyrah were a loathsome tribe of carrion-eaters, and their ways had no place in a modern vampyric society. They would capture whole families of creatures at a time, keeping them in appalling conditions until death took the weakest of them. Any survivors would be mournful of such losses, their grief heightened by being left with the corpses of their families in tight confines. Once entire families had died off, the Pyrah would harvest their congealed blood for later consumption. The Pyrah had vast stores of this solidified blood and I'll admit that, out of curiosity, I did sample it. The smell was foul, the texture was greasy and the thought of ingesting it sickened me. The taste, however, was surprisingly complex and rich. Nevertheless, the practice was abhorrent, and thus I had the entire blood stores of the Pyrah destroyed, and the tribe alongside it.
Ah, the Shadum. Their main source of food was from a race of creatures they had enslaved, a subjugation these creatures had willingly entered into, submitting to another so they would not have to make choices on their own. Perhaps they held a symbiotic need to attach themselves to our kind for survival. Regardless, the Shadum were sadistic in their dealings with these beings, breeding them as both subservients and food. The blood of these creatures held a quality both salty and sweet - an intriguing combination, though not to my ideal tastes.
The Vitur were in thrall to their long-dead founder, whom they considered a 'god'. He was a figure of awe and wonder to the Vitur, and there were volumes of histories dedicated to him. Indeed, he was not only worshipped by his vyres, but a number of sapient races sacrificed themselves willingly out of respect for him and House Vitur's opulent culture. These creatures are now scarce on Vampyrium, but I was able to obtain a store of their blood. It holds an incredibly fresh and pure taste - pleasant, if a little bland.