Story, Lore & Legend behind Drudge
A Beast by Many Names
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word vampyre entered the English language in 1732 (1734 in some references). Concerning exact etymology, little is agreed upon, but few cultures of the world are without a word that describes a vampire-like entity. In Drudge, we embrace this variety, observing a multitude of vampire types within our mythos that can meet the broader definition: A creature that sustains itself by drawing life from others, usually in the form of blood, but occasionally by inflicting pestilence and decay upon its environment.
The vampires of Drudge
The vast majority of vampires living today are relatively young. Born of the last known Maker (Kill Devil Mary) who walked from around 1855 to 1890. These are the vampires that players in Drudge serve. And it is this modern set of vampires that have elevated the profession of Drudge to such a distinguished position. They are dismissed as a lesser race by older vampires. One of the Reciters of the Sons of Enoch says it best:
“It is now the fashion among this modern breed of vampire, so maligned by their elders, to adopt mortal servants. It is a Faustian bargain. The covenant will always prove too much for the mortal mind to bear. It is the same for all these drudges; a short-lived bliss, a succumbing to lunacy, at last the orchard pit.”
- Anonymous member of the Sons of Enoch
Of course, the Protective Society of Drudges believe this to be a gross overstatement on the fatality of the relationship between Drudge and master. There is a silver lining to working for this new breed. They are rarely man-killers, but are rather known to graze on human blood bags, or “feed and forget”; the forgetting here applies to the human victim, as they rarely have any recollection of the event.
Who are the Makers?
Very few vampires have ever possessed the ability to turn humans into vampires. These few have the gift of the Vital Kiss and are known as Makers.
Who are the Sons of Enoch?
An esoteric order that serves to observe the vampires and demons that traffic among mankind. And when need arises, to banish or destroy them. Their origin lies in antiquity, but the SoE are thought to be a splinter of the early Freemasons. They are also mentioned in letters assigned to members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the late 19th century. Their wealth is something of legend. They oversee the manufacture and distribution of the precious Gold Drach through the Bank of the Sons of Enoch, and provide an exchange service to Drudges. Within their secretive ranks is the House of Glorious Obligation made up of anonymous agents known as Reciters who act as custodians of the knowledge of the SoE — their richest treasure. Rip Pettigrew, once a professor at Georgetown University and freelance journalist Davis Freelove are believed to be actively working within this society. Concerning their view on the nature of vampires, this excerpt is insightful:
“To know is to destroy, or so man proves. For this reason we are allowed scant knowledge of the creature we call vampire. We hold a lantern against the darkness of antiquity, reliant on the oft-erring organ of human discerning and resign to perform our duty in tolerable ignorance. Of their multitude powers, the vampires' mastery of discretion may be most remarkable. Beyond being merely elusive, I remain convinced — as conviction goes at my age — that my work, and the work of the Reciters before me, has been silently and carefully curated by the object of our study — the beast itself. How artfully they shape the perception of their kind, influencing with cunning the layer upon fabulous layer of conjecture. There is in this search — as in all searches for what is sacred and authentic — a dear risk. In time, the devout seeker begins to see through the glass darkly; the very soul is put on trial. Modesty must not miscarry, in what is definitively an immodest pursuit to know this creature.”
- 14th Reciter of the Sons of Enoch, 1901
Who is Inness St. Croix?
Why is she important to Drudge? Inness, perhaps unwittingly, created the demonic Maker called Kill Devil Mary; she is thus responsible for all vampires served in Drudge.
Inness might well have been, as one of her magisterial titles suggests the First Daughter of Innana. Her life is a tapestry that crosses centuries, describing a vampire that haunted the margins of mankind’s most illustrious chapters. A ravishing intellectual muse that charged every life she touched with superhuman vitality, deftly treading two degrees from fame. She is said to have whispered in the ear of Aspasia and served as the midnight liaison of Emilie du Chatelet, among other luminaries. She is a philosopher-siren, scientific dynamo, warrior, playhouse actress, and dream-sage. There is little doubt she is the strongest living vampire. She has loved several mortal men across the ages, but she has loathed vampires as a whole, believing her “innoble race superior in flesh alone." Her beginnings are of great controversy among the Reciters, some assigning her to ancient Sumer, born “from the waters where Ishtar bathed." A few give her more sinister origins; the 11th Reciter wrote of her, “She alone of her race has remembered the way to hell, from whence they all arose." Another Reciter had a different take: “In all manners, beatific, angelic; to see her is to adore her; to adore her is to serve her.” Her first trespasses to the Underworld are said to have been motivated by the death of her beloved mortal husband Etienne St. Croix around 1600. Inness was a silent benefactress of the jardin des plantes de Montpellier where she encouraged the study of vitalism in search of the secret behind the Vital Kiss. It is here she fell in love with Ettiene. She never convinced Ettienne, a man of inviolable grace and Christian faith, to accept the Vital Kiss that would have preserved him, but he nonetheless loved her to his last breath. (Note: the last letter from Inness to Ettiene is said to be held by the Sons of Enoch).
The Prince of Merchants and the Bright Carvers
Following the death of Ettiene, Inness began sleeping entire summers deep beneath a campanile in the Italian countryside. The SoE believes this is when she became a dream-sage, perfecting the shamanistic way of traveling to the Underworld. Her motive for these descents is a matter of conjecture, some proposing that she, like Orpheus of the Greek myth, hoped to find her lost lover Ettiene. Others say she hoped to die; with no one equal to her strength in this world, she might find a foe in the Underworld to give her a more glorious end. Whatever the motive, it is around this time that she meets the Prince of Merchants, a mysterious psychopomp who knows his way around the Underworld. She appeals to the Prince to learn the secrets of the Vital Kiss. With reluctance, the Prince tells her that only the Bright Carvers could provide this answer, a race of demons that dwell in the darkest womb of the Underworld. Inness, never shy, dreams her way beyond the Cimmerian Caverns to find the Bright Carvers. They offer her this: If she endures a ritual known as the Hollowing, they will grant her the secret of the Vital Kiss. The Prince counsels against this adventure, calling the demons deceitful and the ritual too dangerous for even Inness. She does not heed his advice. For moon upon moon she endures the knives of the Bright Carvers that rend her flesh ceaselessly. These demons, artificers of flesh and haters of mankind, are a wretched class. They find great value in the flesh of one as strong as Inness. Already bitter from being cast from the earth by witches in the Ember Wars (around 1430-1580), namely the covens of the Benandanti (Italian precursor to the Grey Hand coven of the game Covens: Tournament of Witchcraft), they see an opportunity to create something that will bring fresh suffering to mankind. They pay Inness no secrets, but leave her for dead, and fashion from her stolen flesh a single worm. It is the Prince that pays for her rescue from the Underworld and returns her to the campanile in Italy to convalesce. It will be more than two hundred years on earth before she learns the true purpose of the Hollowing . . .
What is Kill Devil Mary?
Why is she important to Drudge? All vampires served in Drudge are in the bloodline of Kill Devil Mary.
There lived a beautiful young girl named Mary Rowland in the Outer Banks of America, off the coast of North Carolina. Her family was well-regarded as custodians of a screw-pile lighthouse standing far off-shore by the eponymous Kill Devil dunes. Her father was a respected packet boat captain and fisherman. Around 1858, Mary’s parents left her with her granda at the remote, sea-born lighthouse. It was a summer of terrific storms off the island, and Mary, always a strange and despondent child, would walk the outer decks of the lighthouse against her granda’s wishes. With every storm, he was sure to find her there in the third watch, whispering to the ragged sea below. One night when the old lightkeeper was at work on his Wagner lamp, he looked down to see a ring of flame rising from the decks of the lighthouse. In the dark smoke, to the old man’s horror, he saw Mary standing on the railing the moment before she dove into the sea.
Mary had listened to the voices of the dark water. She poured the oil and set the fire. Now she was swimming as deep as she could with the sound of the storm growing faint above her. She dove over the shelf and into the deep where darkness was absolute. It was here that her breast started to burn and those secret-tellers that brought her so much comfort could no longer be heard. She looked up and saw the inconstant light of the raging fire she had set. She thought of her granda searching for her. She thought of her granda burning. The cold passion of self-preservation seized her, but when she kicked to return to the surface, she found she was caught in soft seagrasses. She writhed and fought with all her heart but only found herself more entangled. This was when she heard the voice again, softer than ever, with a comforting maternal tone. “Calm, child.” She said. And the dark waters around her lit with a strange green light. It was then Mary realized she was not caught in kelp or seagrass, but in the woman’s hair that drifted in dark profusion. “You don’t have the breath to make it up, dear one, but I can help you. If you accept my kiss, I will give you breath.” And a face suddenly took form in the green light before her, and it was a fair face with kind eyes and beautiful lips parted. The girl nodded to accept the kiss, for she had no other choice but death. When their lips met, the water around them became cold and a worm passed between their lips. A worm that was born in the womb of the earth, formed from the flesh of an ancient vampire, ages ago . . .