Ever wondered what it would be like to live, unchanged, throughout history? Imagine if you were born in the 3rd Century BCE, the 1st Century BCE, the 6th Century CE, or the 9th Century CE… what would your life have been as a mortal? How might that life change upon becoming a blood-drinker? How would you adapt to living so long? How would becoming a blood-drinker affect your beliefs? How would long lives affect relationships with mortals and other blood-drinkers? These questions and more Heather and I seek to explore in our writing of the Morrigan’s Brood Series.
Life as a mortal
Depending upon your social class, gender, age, period in history, and other factors, life as a mortal could be quite an experience. One day, you could be a wife of a wealthy senator, but soon after his death and exclusion by his family, you may be forced to become a prostitute. You could also be a nun or an actress. In a certain time in a certain place, you could have even been a chieftain. As a man, you could be a warrior or a soldier, a farm hand, an alchemist, a cavalryman, or almost anything.
Change is upon you
Then one night, maybe in a time of desperation for you, like you have been beaten or are near death, you just vanquished a village of innocent people, you are about to marry someone you suspect of killing your previous betrothed, or you just stumbled drunkenly down the wrong alley, a blood-drinker takes interest in you and decides to make you like him or her. Now you become a Deargh Du, a Lamia, a Sugnwr Gwaed, an Ekimmu, an Ekimmu Cruitne, or one of may other races of blood-drinkers. Now what?
Maybe you wanted revenge, and this “gift” of becoming a blood-drinker allows you to get that revenge. Maybe you were dying, and this was your only chance to live. Perhaps your transformation is a means of punishment of wrongs you committed against the innocent. Suffice it to say, you are no longer what you once were, and the rules of mortality no longer apply.
Assuming you can complete whatever it is that you wished to accomplish after becoming a blood-drinker, then what? Depending on the line of blood-drinker you have become, there might be a moral code, such as eliminating a blood-drinker sibling to keep the numbers controlled, our you might have to follow some superior moralistic code, such as maintaining the Balance, participating in the Wild Hunt, or seeking to control the seats of power by deftly employing your innate manipulative skills.
Figuring out your life after
What about your life as a mortal? Can you go back? Can you stand to watch your family members, such as your aunt, your daughter, or your brother grow old and die? How do you explain the fact that you can’t eat food, you can’t be in the sunlight, and you don’t grow old? How a new blood-drinker interacts with their mortal family often relates to the prevailing beliefs, whether or not the family members will condemn you as evil or satanic.
So, this leads to religion. Let’s say you grew up in the pre-Christian era, raised up to believe in the gods and goddesses of your ancestors. It is easier for these individuals, upon becoming a blood-drinker, to adapt to life after mortality; you already believe in the myths revolving around god- and goddess-derived races of blood-drinkers, so it is easier for you to accept what you have become. Now, if you grew up in the Christian era, and you were not secretly brought up believing in the old gods and goddesses, you might have a difficult time with your early life as a blood-drinker.
Every day of your mortal life, you were taught how to be a Good Christian, that there was only one God, that everything not understood was evil, and that a woman’s place was either at the hearth or in the bed chamber, among other things. Well, your first night as a blood-drinker would be a splash of water in your face that much of what you were taught as a Good Christian was a lie. The old gods and goddesses to exist (you may have met one when you became a blood-drinker, but certainly what you now are is derived from a god or goddess), unless you were evil before, you are not evil after your transformation, and if you are a woman, you are now a force to be reckoned with.
Adapting to the immortal life
Your life as a mortal is over… you know that now, and you know that you cannot go back. Hopefully, whomever made you into a blood-drinker is sticking around to teach you about your gifts and about your moralistic code. Of course you may be unlucky enough to be banished from your new immortal brethren, forced to eek out a living without fully knowing who and what you are.
Your daily life has changed; it is now a nightly existence. Instead of preparing and eating food, working at some laborious job, soldering, or whatever it was that you did as a mortal, you now hunt during the night for blood, but does not this thirst for blood make you evil? No… it is what you need to do to survive these long nights. Besides, most blood-drinkers don’t kill mortals or animals when they feed, and many have gifts which render the victim forgetful or believing that the experience was part of some dream. Therefore, as a blood-drinker, you do not live in a constant state of angst, worrying about the evils you have committed and whether judgement awaited you after some kind of final death like some damned vampire… yes, they exist too, but more about them and how they differ from blood-drinkers in another post or novel.
One thing you learn in this life after is the importance of accumulating and safeguarding wealth. Many blood-drinkers do not have the luxury of their mortal wealth after transformation, but the innate gifts of many lines of blood-drinkers will enable you to coax money out of mortals’ hands, win their money through gambling, or take over the Church of Rome and siphon money from their coffers. Another thing you learn is to keep busy. Since you do not have the day-to-day activities that keep a mortal busy, such as holding a job, preparing food / eating, or taking care of domestic chores, you have lots of time on your hands to do stuff, whether exploring the world, learning old knowledge from the great libraries, or having coitus with every lass in Bath.
What a life it is to be a blood-drinker… You can still drink beverages (imagine what life would be like if you couldn’t imbibe the occasional mead or wine? Boring!), you can still engage in coitus (yes, imagine living forever without the ability to have sex… Many blood-drinkers would dance in the sun after a few years), and you will live until you dance in the sun or someone severs your head; from any other wound, you would heal… you also won’t get sick.
Contrary to popular belief that blood-drinkers are undead, they are, in fact, living beings, derived from the blood of gods and goddesses, and because of their deific blood, they are magical beings. It is this magic which gives these blood-drinkers their gifts. Depending on your particular lineage of blood-drinker, you may be endowed with one or more gifts. One only needs to examine the “Lines of Blood-Drinkers” section in any Morrigan’s Brood novel to see which lines have what gifts. Suffice it to say, these gifts may include the ability to heal, fly or run fast, manipulate or use glamoury, affect games of chance, communicate with beasts, fight really fast, sense things at great distances, see things far away, and of course see well at night.
First, cleanliness is all-important. Imagine living in catacombs underground with a hundred or more fellow blood-drinkers where no one bathed? (Remember, blood-drinkers have super-human senses… many, like the Ekimmu Cruitne, could smell a rotting piece of cheese from ten miles away.) It just would not work out that way. Even if you are sleeping outside and must take shelter in the ground, you should still bathe after the sun sets. There is no excuse for poor hygiene, especially if you are from one of the Celtic lines (those Celts and their nails…).
Second, monogamy is dead and gone. Could you stand being married to the same woman or man for two-hundred or more years? No. You can’t become pregnant or make some pregnant, and you can’t contract sexually transmitted diseases, so have fun. If you are particularly amorous, find one of those Deargh Du… they have fae blood in them, and they are always looking for some good coitus. Don’t be surprise, also, to find more demented means of engaging in sex, means that would kill a mortal. Some blood-drinkers have to go to extreme measures to get off, but those individuals seem to be in the minority.
Third, blood-drinkers have long memories, but sometimes old wrongs seem to pale in comparison to events occurring tonight. So, even though the man across from you may have been indirectly responsible for the deaths of your uncles and your betrothed, it does not mean that after three-hundred years that you need to kill him for vengeance; he may be your best ally tonight. Still, it might make you feel better to beat him up every once in a while, just don’t get suckered into his bed.
Fourth, you have a purpose in your life after… fulfill it to the best of your ability. Whether you are maintaining the Balance or trying to tip it, stay true to your calling as a blood-drinker. To go against your line’s moralistic code could lead to your exile, the confiscation of all of your possessions, or even execution. Worst of all, you could invite the wrath of your god or goddess creator and suffer a fate worse than death.
It is also important to stay in touch with the here and now. This means learning new languages, adopting local customs, upgrading your clothing, and in general, fitting in. The last thing you want to do is walk down 9th century CE Aachen wearing an ancient Roman haircut or, if you are a woman, letting your hair to roam free. It is difficult, if you are a woman who lived in a time when equality existed between the genders, to constructively interact with a society that sees a woman as either a wife and mother, a nun, or a whore. Still, it is important to not reveal what you are, unless you can control the situation. It is, after all, sometimes necessary to create new blood-drinkers, but in the later Christian era, it becomes problematic at best to find new recruits, as I had mentioned before.
Should you die in the service of your god or goddess, you won’t go to heaven or hell, but you will go somewhere, and that somewhere depends upon your line. Most blood-drinkers will travel to the Otherworld, although this place outside of normal perception is known by many names, such as Tír na mBeo, Mag Mell, Tír na nÓg, Elysium, Tech Duinn, Hades, Annwfn, Asgard, and many others. Some may even make their journey back to the World to serve their god or goddess in a different form.
What a different life it is to be a blood-drinker… living for a long time, witnessing civilizations rise and fall, learning lost knowledge, traveling beyond the span of the known world, watching history unfold before your eyes, and making a difference in how history unfolds. Still, you might have to fight wars against other blood-drinkers or face off against ancient evils which still resonate through the bed-time stories of mortals, but the life after is not a bad life. If you follow this guide, you should be alright.