The Vampire Holocaust
From Path of the Vampire Wiki
Rise of the Hunter
It was the late 18th century. America had won its independence from Britain, the French revolution had just began, and steam power long since caused two full industrial revolutions in most parts of the world. It was a time of change. Unfortunately for Vampires, one thing had not yet changed; superstition.
Belief in wicked spirits and vampires were prevalent in all corners of Europe, and even in the new world. Families suffering misfortune or dying from diseases they did not understand. They would exhume bodies of loved ones and cut out their hearts, believing it to stop the nightly rising of the undead. "If a dog jumped over your grave," they said, "you were likely to become a vampire, and would smother babies in their cots as they slept." Superstition grew -- perhaps from the truth of rare vampire encounters, or perhaps from superstition itself -- to the point where a vampire found it impossible to feed in civilized areas without fearing for their life.
Up until that point, vampires had been relatively careful in their dealings with mortals. True, they would often indulge pleasures, butchering young virgins and bathing in their blood in onyx bath tubs while tucked away within their sinister Romanian castle lairs. But death was common in those times, as were Lords and Ladies of cruel persuasion. In order to keep their influence unknown, vampires generally lived by the Old Code, which advocated the siring of few fledglings. Adherence to this code allowed vampires to stay out of the limelight. There was the odd tale of small folk coming together, armed with flaming torches and pitch forks, to storm a castle. To most, those stories were just that – stories to keep children entertained, made more extravagant with each telling.
Then came a vampire who rejected the Old Code. Within 5 years, his rampant siring had created an army of likeminded vampires from all walks of life. Superstition regarding vampires grew, and rightly so, as more and more evidence of the supernatural came to light.
From the days where the oldest vampires ruled supreme, there had always been hunters; those who knew, deep down, what the creatures were, even if the word vampire was not uttered. Those hunters had been rare heroes or considered lunatics by other villagers. Moreover, the old hunters were not often strong or cunning enough to kill a vampire and so the tradition of vampire hunting rarely passed from father to son or master to student.
By 1790, hunters were organized by those in positions of power who had become aware of the presence of the undead in their cities and fought desperately for a way to eradicate this unnatural threat. These leaders, as well as regular mortals, were not afraid to utilize unholy means to achieve their goals. Other variants of trained hunters began to emerge, such as the Sorcerer, the Paladin, and the Blood Thief. Even without those specialist warriors, vampire kind did not stand a chance against humanity, now that humans were aware of their existence.
During their sleep, as the sunlight rose in the sky, hunter groups scoured the cities, decapitating all those thought to be vampires, innocent or otherwise. They acted secretly, covered up by governments and organizations, also now aware of the vampiric threat. Feeding became impossible for vampires, and their places to hide became limited, as they feared the Fae more than any human hunter, so would not dwell in rural regions for long. By the time elders and clans became aware of the extent of the problem, over half the vampire population in the civilized world had been butchered.
The Drake and the Crow
It came in dreams at first. A figure fleeting, always lingering just on the edge of consciousness like some shadowy gargoyle. It was some time before Isabella Drake received her first waking vision, and when she did, the apparition came in the form of a crow. It never spoke, never took humanoid form, never even revealed itself to be anything other than a crow with feathers and eyes as black as the void, but Isabella knew it was more than just a crow. When it appeared, it stared at her for a time, perched atop a window ledge or looming over the curve of a street light, seemingly impervious to the radiating illumination. And then, just when Isabella would convince herself that the creature was a statue, it would turn north and fly away. The visions continued on for weeks, until somehow, instinctively, Isabella Drake began to understand.
The more she experienced the vision of the crow the more she understood without it needing to speak a word. The crow was the spirit of a dead vampire, and it was guiding her to an area to the north, and so she followed it, until she reached a small lake town, named Harper Rock, on the edge of what is now Canada.
At first she did not understand why the apparition had led her here. Soldiers patrolled the streets the same as in any other small city or town, and the cold of the north made it so that one had to be constantly faking their breath. It did not appear to be some kind of promised land. Still, she made her home there for a time, using her wealth and influence to help the town grow, even pouring the money needed into constructing a border fort to help protect it.
Still, she was not entirely understanding why the crow had led her here. There was something strange about the place, though. Sightings of ghosts were all too common, and frequently she dreamed of the crow, who she came to understand was a native vampire that had died many hundreds of years earlier. Three other vampires arrived in Harper Rock (Keara Aithne, Mircea and Habren Ashe), and made it their home, but things generally remained unremarkable.
Until the year 1795, when news from Europe reached her. The remnants of the Al Sultha (coven) had been butchered in a final battle somewhere in the middle east, and only a couple were said to have escaped with their lives, though they were heavily wounded. Vampire kind was being hunted. All those she associated with knew it, even her enemies knew it. Humans were too numerous, and with revolutions breaking out all around the world, even positions of power were no longer safe for a vampire. It was possible that all vampires would soon be dead, but the crow had shown her a way out.
Harper Rock was a weak spot on the fabric of reality; the years dwelling at Harper Rock had allowed her to see the truth. The crow lived here, somewhere beyond the veil between the physical and the shadow -- the realm from which the spirits of vampires would commune with necromancers. No vampire had ever returned from the hereafter, though many had returned as insubstantial ghosts for brief periods of time, but here ... the crow was telling her that here, in the area surrounding this small city, it might be possible to return. It might be possible to rend the barrier and return to life. To be truly immortal.
So she returned south, seeking out her allies immediately to tell them the good news of what she had discovered. She would lead a small band of select individuals to the city of Harper Rock and together they would make a last stand, if need be. But one day they would return from the grave.
Last Stand of the Vampire
The group that Isabella Drake had gathered made their way north to join the two vampires already residing there. It was a small group, made up of a handful of vampires (including Cobb) and a few of their childer. None of them were particularly old, by the standards of many still in Europe and Asia, but they were strong enough that Isabella felt they could either survive or return from the realm of shadows.
It wasn't long after their arrival that they began to hear disturbing reports from other parts of the world. Humans had tracked, rounded up, and slaughtered almost every single vampire that they were in communication with and were now starting their hunt in the Americas. The group did not know how, exactly, humans were tracking them so effectively but they started to believe more and more that the arrival of hunters here, in the small city of Harper Rock, would turn out to be the last stand of their kind.
They occupied a mansion north of the city, fortifying it with traps and barricades, digging tunnels under the earth and hoarding livestock on which to feed when the time came and then they waited, hoping that humanity would overlook them. They made a pact; if but one single vampire were to survive -- any of them -- they would lay low until humanity had forgotten them and vampires had faded into myth and legend. Only then they would find a way to further weaken the veil between worlds, bringing the others back.
Cobb, a young necromancer vampire amongst their number had a particular talent in his path, unknown to the others. Through experimentation with members of his own kind and with his own blood, he had developed a way that made him able to blend in with humans. Where some hunters seemed able to sense the undead, Cobb's talent and research enabled him to appear mortal, even to those mortals spiritually attuned such as the Paladins and Sorcerers. This unique gift, it is speculated, got him thinking. Did he need to make a last stand here with the others, when he could quietly slip away and perhaps forever remain undetected by mortals, if he was careful?
But Cobb went even further than that. Perhaps he made his choice due to a fear of death, realizing that if he left the area, he might not be able to return if he was in fact killed. Perhaps the choice was made out of a hunger for power and the realization that if he was the last vampire alive, he would be far more likely to survive, prosper, and even eventually dominate humanity, when the time came. For reasons of his own, he betrayed his group of friends and allies to their death. He got word to a group he knew to be associated with vampire hunters, gave up the location of the mansion, and slipped away in the early morning, before the sun rose.
The hunters came in the day. They did not burn the mansion to the ground or charge at it with rifles blazing and hounds howling; they slipped in quietly while the sun was high, while all vampires sat in torpor. The battle was fierce and bloody but did not last long. The group of allies who had come to the town guided by the black crow were slaughtered and banished to the shadow realm.
Cobb had no intention of honoring the pact that the group had made to bring the others back after enough time had passed. He had betrayed them to death and the realm of shadows and so he knew that if they ever returned they would try to hunt him. However, he could not leave the area. He was a Necromancer and knew that what Isabella Drake had said was true; that the barrier between worlds was weakest in this area, and if he ever had a hope of returning to life if he were killed, he would need to stay in Harper Rock.
The decades passed and turned into nearly two full centuries, yet Cobb went untracked and unharmed. Eventually, Cobb's experiments with necromancy began to escalate as he grew in power and he began to summon undead minions for further experimentation. Nobody but Cobb knows exactly what happened in that time but in the middle of April 2011, he went one step too far with his experiments and tore a rift in the weakened fabric between the realms of life and death. Spirits poured loose, animating corpses all around the area, creating doors in the shadow realm from which any being with enough power could escape.
Accidentally, it seems, Cobb had set the caged vampires loose from their hell and though it took some effort, a large number of the vampires that had died that day in 1813 were able to return. Scattered throughout the city and disoriented, they stalked off to find shelter, food and to come to grips with a world that had changed beyond their comprehension.