Vampyres, also known as Vamps, are the signature and primary supernatural beings of the House of Night series and lore. By common folklore, vampires are defined as supernatural creatures, specifically an undead revenant that lives off the nourishment of blood. While vampyres can and do subsist on blood, preferably that of humans, they are not regarded as "undead" necessarily. Rather, vampyres are normal humans who have been randomly and mysteriously chosen or "Marked" by the Goddess of Night, Nyx. Vampyres live abnormally long lives, from two hundred to a thousand.
The Change first takes place sometime after puberty is reached. The person notices the sapphire outline of a "crescent moon appearing on their forehead" after being Marked by a Tracker. The appearance of the Mark itself is a symptom of a biological change that has begun within the body. A fledgling will then begin to experience colds, chills, and coughs before their Mark appears. Around the same time, the body secretes an invisible essence from the endocrine glands called "Alarm Pheromone", which is only present at the beginning of the sequence of events of reactions. Left alone, the fledgling will die. A gifted sect of vampyres known as Trackers have the ability to scent these Alarm Pheromones. As soon as the fledgling is in the presence of a Tracker, the preservation Pheromone, that only a Tracker detects, begins to act on the young fledgling's T-Cell receptors, slowing down the degeneration of the body's pulmonary capillary system. The external evidence of this physiological reaction is the crescent sapphire outline that appears on the forehead. However, the Trackers' preservation Pheromone creates only a temporary respite from the potentially fatal reaction that has already begun in the body, which is the reason why newly Marked fledglings must make their way directly to a House of Night. The Shield Pheromones, secreted by all adult vampyres, bathe the fledglings pulmonary and capillary systems. That minimizes the unavoidable damage that takes place within the body as it attempts to assimilate the necessary changes that happen in order for the body to evolve to the physiology of a vampyre.
The vampyre has decreased sensitivity to the cold due to a lowered body temperature and transition from wam- to cold-blooded. They also have increased sensitivity to light due to a vampyre's nocturnal nature. They have an ability to "cloak oneself in night", essentially become invisible and unheard by supernaturally blending in with the shadows. They also have enhanced senses such as heightened hearing and smell, sharpened eyesight, and night vision. Their hair begins to lengthen and thicken and becomes more reflective, taking on a variety of shades. They are also difficult to photograph due to mutated surface cells. Nails begin a growth pattern with the center of the nail bed laying down a greater thickness at a faster rate which results in sharp, pointed tips. Male fledglings become sterile and female fledglings stop menstrutating, making it virtually impossible for vampyres to have a child. Teeth will be straighter and stronger than human dentation. Fledglings are able to taste foods better than a normal human due to coagulants and anticoagulants developing in their salivary glands. They also have an enhanced metabolism due to their inability to become inebriated. Vampyres also have increased strength, speed, agility and stamina that slowly matures and increases further as they go through the Change until becoming truly superhuman on their fourth year.
One out of ten fledglings on average do not make the Change. Some even die in their early third former year. Those who do reject the Change begin to show the signs quickly and easily. The first sign is a cough, and then several more coughs, each one worsening until at last they catch the attention of everyone else. At this point, it is noticeably heard by everyone in a room and then the fledgling begins coughing up blood. Coughing, spitting and hacking as blood continues to pour out of every orifice: mouth, ears, nose, eyes, etc. The fledgling dies minutes later. Their body has rejected the Change.
When this happens, the High Priestess gives the dying fledgling a vial filled with a liquid comparable to milk in color, which helps lessen the pain. However, those whose bodies reject the Change have the chance to go through a different Change and awaken as Red fledgling, and now begin their "new" Change into adult Red Vampyres.
Abilities and Characteristics
- Vampyre Tattoos: The common trait that all fledglings possess that identifies them as "fledglings" is that their crescent shaped sapphire tattoo on their forehead is un-filled. Adult vampyres have crescent shaped tattoos on their forehead is filled and have unique tattoos.
- Heightened Beauty: Their appearance, as vampyres, become enhanced (all vampyres at the House of Night are much more attractive than humans).
- Heightened Senses: Their senses are very keen, they can smell blood as soon as it is in the air, their sense of sight is almost as good as a cat's at night.
- Accelerated Healing: The rate of healing for a vampyre is much faster.
- Enhanced Physicality: Physical strength, reflexes, speed and stamina surpasses the norm for humans. Adult vampyres can bench-press an excess of 1,000 lbs. with moderate effort.
- Ultraviolet Sensitivity: Vampyres, whether fledglings or adults, cannot go into sunlight, as it will cause them mental pain, headaches, etc. The sun will not burn them though, as it only makes them uncomfortable. That is why the classes, at the Houses of Night, are only active during the night. (Red fledglings and Red vampyres are hyper sensitive to the sun, their skin becomes more flammable when in contact with the sun causing severe burns until they combust. They are also affected by the sun in a drowsying way, "pulling" them into sleep. This sort of matches a lot of traditional descriptions of vampires throughout history).
- Invisibility: Fledglings and vampyres are also able to shroud themselves and make themselves invisible.
- Magick: Vampyres are capable of spells and Magick.
At the House of Night, fledglings are constantly active and involved in physical activities (as a way to help their bodies become stronger and healthier during the Change to an adult vampyre). At the House of Night, fledglings take courses that help them learn more about the changes they will be going through from fledgling to vampyre as well as vampyre traditions and rituals. As most importantly their goddess, Nyx.
As a Sixth Former, fledglings will have developed their taste for blood and it will finally become appealing to them.
Whether they require blood, otherwise they will lose health of body and mind is not known, though it may be for Red Vampyres.
Social History and Traditions
The varied talents of vampyres are celebrated, tested, and displayed by events and honors organized within vampyre society. The Vampyre Olympics and the position of Vampyre Poet Laureate are an example.
There are traditional gender roles in vampyre society. Adult Vampyre women tend not to compete in or pursue careers that involve physical skills befitting a warrior, though they are not barred from such a path. Men traditionally are expected to fill the more laborious roles so they can better protect and honor women, who are held sacred to Nyx. Women normally pursue spiritual, scholarly, and artistic matters. Though there are exceptions to these gender roles, such as Loren Blake becoming Poet Laureate and the famous Vampyre Amazons, religious leaders are always women.
Vampyre government is organized by religion, with the High Council as the highest vampyre authority which is made up of High Priestesses. A High Priestess's role is as political as it is religious as one is expected to guide and lead other vampyres in a way befitting Nyx's wishes. Because only women can be religious leaders, men can only find political power by being the lover, mate, or consort of a vampyre woman.
In earlier times, the inner workings of vampyre society were mostly unknown to humans. In the 1830s, as shown in Dragon's Oath, the only known facts were the fierce reputation of much sought after vampyre mercenaries, the strength and beauty of vampyre women, the worshipping of a dark goddess and Trackers. It was also known, though less commonly, that not all fledglings survived to the Change. To humans, vampyres were strange, mysterious and foreign. Yet by the modern era, human society showed signs of more in depth knowledge about vampyres. Sister Mary Angela knew about the Goddess Nyx, the most famous and celebrated actors and actresses are vampyres due to their beauty, etc.
When vampyres greet one another, they put a fist on their heart and salute as a sign of respect. They also grip each other's forearms, a tradition taken from the Amazon vampyre coven. They also say "Merry meet and blessed be." When they say goodbye, they say "Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again."
The alcohol adult vampyres drink is traditionally laced with blood.
There is a tradition that each fledgling and vampyre has a single cat at a time, an animal strongly connected to Nyx, as a companion and treasured pet. The fact that James Stark doesn't have a cat familiar, but a dog called Duchess, a species presumably not associated with Nyx, is shocking and frowned upon by most of vampyre society. However, it is noted by others that Duchess behaves like a regular vampyre familiar. The bond between a familiar and a vampyre is very strong.