by Allen B. Ruch (11 May 93)
The Lamiae are a new bloodline, a cross between demon and vampire, muse and succubus. I am indebted to the great author Tim Powers for the idea. If you haven't read his novel, The Stress of her Regard, I heartily recommend it to you. It is a vampire story like no other...
The clan is not really intended to be a character clan, but is more for the Storyteller or to create atmosphere.
She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, all crimson barred;
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolved, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries -
So rainbow sided, touched with miseries,
She seemed, at once, some penanced lady elf,
Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self.
The Lamiae are a bloodline of vampires that exist outside all rules of the Kindred; be it the Camarilla, the Sabbat or the Inconnu. In many ways more demon than vampire, they have remained aloof from the ranks of the Kindred, maintaining a secrecy and mystery that intrigues and mystifies the Kindred much in the way they themselves are beheld by mortals.
The Lamiae are exclusively female, and it is believed that there are no more than between three and nine of them in existence. No one knows how they engender their race - for they do not feed on the mere blood of a mortal, but upon his very life-essence, and these mortals invariably perish or commit suicide. This has lead to speculation that they are truly immortal, and either unable or unwilling to beget progeny. Simply put, a Lamia will target a mortal and form a supernatural bond with this intended "lover." Once the bond is sanctified by a marriage ritual, the mortal begins to die. The Lamia begins the process of slowly draining the life-force from her target - a process that may take up to decades. This unholy matrimony, while obviously ultimately destructive, grants a tremendous boon to her lover, for to be wed to a Lamia is to be in the permanent graces of a muse. From the bond with the Lamia springs forth a font of divine inspiration, a creative flow that floods the lover and causes him to produce poetry and prose that far exceeds his previous work. Another benefit to the lover, of course, is the rapturous act of feeding. Unlike other vampires, a Lamia loses only one blood point a week, so she needs to drink less often than her vampiric cousins. When she does feed, it is always with her mortal lover - and the act of feeding is erotically charged far beyond the sphere of any mortal sex. These twin addictions - the wellspring of inspiration and the dark bliss of sexual fusion - are enough to ensure t hat her lover will cleave to her scaled bosom . . . until death does him part.
When a Lamia initially targets a mortal, she'll make her first appearances in his dreams. Series after series of erotic dreams, many containing serpent imagery, continue to rise in intensity until the intended lover often feels he's going mad. Soon after the dreams begin, exhausting periods of inspiration will fill his waking hours, and he'll glimpse the potential of unlimited creativity, his work hitting new heights of inventiveness, skill, and lucidity. Soon after this, the Lamia chooses a night to visit the mortal, and during a dream she manifests and feeds. It is in these throes of passion that she reveals herself for what she really is, often taking on half-serpent form. If she can get the (by now half-mad) mortal to pla ce a gold ring upon her finger, the pact is sealed.
Soon after that, the full effects of the "marriage" begin to be felt. While the spring of inspiration flows freely, her lover's body begins to deteriorate. Depending on his normal state of health, it may take from a few months to a few years for the first effects of ill health to be felt. Commonly these debilitating effects are consumption, blindness, and/or insanity. (The latter affliction leads some to speculate that the Lamiae and the Wissengeist are related.) While her lover may be completely aware of the reason for his decay, more than a few consider the combination of inspiration and sexual passion to be worth their early death. What usually causes a mortal the most pain is the Lamia's insufferable jealousy.
A Lamia will never have more than a single lover, and they are jealous to the extreme, often to the point of willfully destroying her lover's mortal relationships. While marriages to a mortal wife have been permitted, the Lamia periodically attempts to stir things up as much as she can. Sometimes, this is carried to the point of injury or death, and in rare cases the Lamia will persecute her lover's family for several generations. It is usually this jealous lashing out at his loved ones that causes a Lamia's lover to regret the marriage. . . .
Upon death of her mortal lover, the Lamia is forced to assume serpent form for seven years. This period - called the Widowing - is often spent grieving her lost lover, but her astral body is free to roam the earth, seeking out a new lover to court, or sometimes mercilessly haunting her dead lover's family.
Breaking a marriage with a Lamia is possible, but very difficult. Legend has it that there are only a precious few ways to sever the bond. The most common story is that of a magic fountain or well, located high in the Alps and kept well-hidden. Drinking from its waters will dissolve the marriage. Another story tells of a spear of white gold deep in the Amazon which can shatter the wedding ring. Other rumors exist on how to break the vow, most of them involving near-impossible acts or arcane artifacts. One of the Dead Sea Scrolls supposedly relates that a flower grows once every century, each time in a different part of the world. Plucking this flower will break the vow. Standing in the shadow of a virgin harlot cast against the Wailing Wall will also free a mortal from the Lamia, as will finding the r ight letter amongst all the books in the Library of Alexandria. Of course, there is always suicide.
A Lamia who is divorced, whether through magic or suicide, is forced to grieve as a spurned wife for seven times seven years, so one can see that the Lamia wish to keep the secrets of divorce we ll hidden. . . .
Not all vampires are completely aware of the Lamia, but belief is exceptionally strong among the Toreador, the Tzimisce and the Assamites. Of all these, the Tzimisce seem to know the legends best. When a Lamia is found, it is an unwritten rule to leave her and her mortal lover alone. The consequences of breaking this sanction are unknown, but it says something that the Tzimisce follow it without question.
Many believe that the myth of the Muses has its origin in the Lamiae, and there are some which contend that the number of Lamia are nine: Euterpe, Terpsichore, Thalia, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Urania, Clio, Erato, and Calliope. Others feel that there are too many inconsistencies between the Muse myths and the Lamiae; and still others conjecture that the Lamiae are the twisted children of the Muses. There are of course the actually legends of Lamia, Mormo, and Empusa - Greek demigods with shapechanging ability, and it seems obvious that the Lamiae formed the basis for tales of Succubi as well. Another theory, put forth by a Tzimisce priestess from the Fifteenth Century, is that as Vampires are the children of Cain, Lamiae are the children of Lilith - Adam's first wife before Eve. If this is true, it means that the Lamiae actually predate the Kindred.
O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!
-William Shakespeare Henry V
Exactly what effect the Lamiae have had on the literary world throughout history is hard to say. They invariably choose writers and poets, but no one is sure of their criteria. It seems obvious that Keats, Shelly and Byron were no stranger to their seductive lure, but many Toreador feel that Byron was "divorced" in the Alps. Legend has it that Milton also fell prey to a Lamia, creating Paradise Lost as he went blind; but afterwards he freed himself using a fragment of the True Cross. And remember that Homer, too, was blind.
Authors, too, are not immune to their charms. The Tzimisce claim to have a series of letters written by Franz Kafka, letters he intended to destroy, letters that deal with his seduction by a mysterious woman he calls die Lorelei, a magical temptress which he several times refers to as das Schlangeweib - or the "serpent-wife." The letters indicate that in 1913, upon writing The Judgment, his abilities took a sharp rise . . . and in 1917 he was found consumptive. He ended his life, after a series of heart breaks and affairs, in a sanitarium.
Kafka is certainly not the only recent victim of the Lamiae. James Joyce, with his turbulent relationships, family misfortune and prolonged eye problems is said to have had Lamiatic inspiration - also a good explanation for the progress of his work from Dubliners through Ulysses and finally to the mad genius of Finnegan's Wake, a work Carl Jung believed to be written to stave off impending schizophrenia. And Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinian fantasist, found that his work entered new realms of creativity only after a head injury brought him close to death and madness . . . and therein met the Lamia? Given the labyrinthine nature of his later work, his eventual blindness, and his death in Switzerland . . . could he have been seeking out the fountain that Byron found?
Nickname: Muses, Succubae
Appearance: The Lamia have three forms: that of a normal woman, a glittering serpent, and a woman with a serpent's body. In serpent form, she is scaled in vermilion and patterned brightly, a lush snake that twines with sexual promise and Freudian eroticism. In human form, she is a beautiful enchantress, appearing as if she'd stepped from the innermost desires of her intended lover. Her eyes burn like hot sparks, her hair borders on the wildly animate, and her lips are full and heavy with ripe sensuality. Still, it is said that the half-woman, half-serpent form is the most alluring guise of the Lamia; a sensuous woman's body extends from a powerful serpent's trunk, and often glowing wings sweep out from the Lamia's back. Her breasts and torso are perfectly formed, and in sex she is as irresistib le as a cyclone. In human form, a Lamia will dress on the bohemian edge of the current style, always conscious of fashion, but willing to show a slight contempt for it as well. In any age, she would hardly be called proper. . . .
Haven: A solitary and reclusive bloodline, it is not known where the Lamiae tend to lair, although the Toreador contend that they dwell in the shadow lands between the Silver Realm and the Faerie.
Background: As mentioned, the Lamiae select a mortal intended and visit them in dreams, slowly allowing their power to manifest. Upon their "engagement" night, they manifest in an erotic incarnation, explaining their existence and purpose as a muse; conveniently failing to mention the long-term physical effects of their love. Once the intended realizes that his new-found creativity will vanish with the Lamia, the placement of the gold wedding ring is almost a certainty. If the mortal refuses, the Lamiae will never visit him again.
Character Creation: It is not known how or even if the Lamia create progeny, as they seem to eventually kill all their lovers.
Clan Disciplines: Protean, Vicissitude, Succubae.
Weaknesses: The Lamia are bound to their lovers with a supernatural intensity. If that lover commits suicide or finds a way to break the marriage, the Lamia will revert to serpent form and spend forty-nine years in a painful limbo. They are also sensitive to cold iron and salt, both able to cause aggravated wounds.
Organization: According to the Tzimisce, there are only a few Lamiae: between three and nine is the usual number given. They have no known organization.
Quote: "There is no eternity , my beloved, but what springs from the seeds of your work. And I, I am your muse. I am your love, your wife, your mistress; and, yes my love, in the dark hours when the wind whispers doubts into your ears, I am your goddess and possessor."
What the Undead think of the Lamiae:
I hope you enjoy this clan, and it is my intention to eventually submit it to those great individuals over at White Wolf, so if you pass it along, please leave it intact. I claim all rights, so please don't publish any of it without my permission. Enjoy, and beware the Illuminati.
Allen B. Ruch 315 Second Street Enola, PA 17025