CRIMSON HOUSE BOOKS
BY SUSANNA SHORE
PARANORMAL AND CONTEPORARY ROMANCES, COSY MYSTERIES
London much like our own. But among humans, the two-natured races—vampires, shifters and sentients—live openly yet largely unnoticed by the one-natureds. Their second form gives them the advantage over humans, but centuries of warfare against the humans has made the two-natureds concentrate on their own kind. But now a greater threat than humans could ever be has risen, putting everyone in danger. Can vampires, sentients and shifters put their differences aside to defeat renegades, the demon vampires?
Here’s a glossary of terms that are unique to the two-natured world. Check out what makes vampires unique and what consciences really are.
Charming is a form of vampire magic that allows vampires to control minds of others, namely humans. It has allowed vampires to feed on humans without their knowledge. Charming humans is forbidden by human law, but since there’s no way to enforce it, vampires mostly ignore it.
Shifters are organised in clans. These vary in size from one family clan to large, vastly influential multi-family units. One of the most influential shifter clans is the Greenwood wolf-shifter clan in Epsom. There are also important clans in London. Those are located in and around the largest green areas. The most important of these is the White Lodge clan in Richmond Park.
Vampires are able to physically control others—their own kind included—by compulsing them, rendering people immobile by solidifying Might around them.
Sentients’ second nature. A being of pure Might that looks like a human. It can choose its form and change its appearances at will. Often a conscience manifests as a younger person and then ‘grows’ with the host. Consciences are unique because they are unable to lie. They are also able to control the emotions of their host.
Crimson Circle is a secret—and secretive—vampire organisation. It was founded in France by Guillaume de Feuilles during the First Crusade, when it was necessary to protect all two-natureds from the crusaders. It relocated to England in the early 14th century and has been led by its current leader Alexander Hamilton, Lord Foley since the 16th century. During the Sentient War, the Crimson Circle sided with the shifters against the sentients, but these days it concentrates solely on protecting vampires from renegades.
Crimson Circle consists of mostly unmarried male warriors, some of whom have belonged to it for centuries. They are elite among the vampires, stronger both physically and in Might than others.
Crimson Circle operates from the Crimson Manor in Epsom, outside London. However, there are small branches all over the world where renegades have been sighted.
The act of magically triggering the gene that makes a human a vampire. Only the strongest vampires are capable of fulfilling the promise.
Host is what the human part of the two-natured is called. It literally hosts the second nature.
Hunger is a special state some male vampires go through when they find a person that could be their potential mate. Its purpose is to subdue the violent tendencies of the rider so that courtship can take place without the emotional upheaval causing the rider to get out of control.
Might is a hidden power generated by nature that surrounds everything living. Two-natured people have the ability to store Might in themselves and it’s the source of their special abilities. The larger the Might reserves a two-natured has the stronger the individual is in their abilities. It takes decades to build large Might reserves, so younger two-natureds are seldom very strong.
The flow of Might and the two-natureds’ ability to connect with it depends on the sun and the moon. The sun interferes with the connection, making it difficult for the weaker two-natureds to keep their Might reserves full. The connection is at deepest during the full moon, during which time even the weakest are able to fill their Might reserves. The strongest two-natures are not affected by the sun.
One-natureds are ordinary humans who have only one form they have to stick to and who are not sensitive to Might. They cannot use it and they are unable to detect the two-natureds around them.
The name vampires have given to the special gene that determines whether a person can become a vampire.
Little is known about the so called renegades or demon vampires. They emerged during the Sentient War perhaps as some kind of cure or remedy for vampires’ struggle with their riders, which includes removing the rider altogether. However, the process disconnects them from Might so completely that they become void of any humanity or life even. What powers them is unknown, but it’s assumed it has to be some sort of demonic connection. It makes renegades cold, evil and single-minded in their hatred of vampires. When renegades die, they dissolve into a puddle of liquid brimstone before evaporating completely, much like demons that once roamed the earth.
There are only male renegades. They are not born, they are made of vampires, and only the men survive the process. They cannot reproduce or cross-breed with other races. Their abilities are unknown, as is their life-span.
Renegades are drawn to City of London, the square mile of commercial hub at the heart of London. As the oldest part of London, it is speculated that they originate from there and that their power source is somewhere within or below the City. Vampire warriors of the Crimson Circle hunt renegades there every night, keeping the vampire population safe from their threat. However, there are renegade cells all over the world where there are vampires.
Vampires’ second nature. Independent entity with a mind of its own. Only communicates with the host after the host has become strong enough to control it. The source of vampires’ special ability like magic.
Sentients are the least numerous and weakest of the two-natured races. They are unique from the other two in that their second nature is a separate, humanlike entity outside them. It’s called conscience and it consists purely of Might. Conscience manifests for the first time during the host’s puberty and from then on the two are inseparable. A tether of Might connects the two, making it difficult for them to be more than a hundred meters apart from each other.
Conscience gives the host the ability to see the two-natureds around them, and they also control the hosts’ emotions, often rendering them almost emotionless. Other than that, a sentient doesn’t have special powers. Conscience, however, is unique in its ability to change its appearance and in its inability to lie.
Sentients are reviled among other two-natureds, because they were used by the Church to reveal two-natureds for execution during the Inquisition. It resulted in a centuries long Sentient War that only ended in 1827. Sentients retired to the American continent and banished all vampires from entering. Sentients rule with iron fist there, keeping the humans around them ignorant of all things two-natured.
Sentients do not breed true, and it is rare for a sentient to have sentient parents or children who are sentients. Also, because of their humanlike constant companion, it is fairly difficult for them to form lasting relationships.
Sentients don’t live much longer than humans, and they don’t have the ability to heal themselves. You cannot harm a sentient through their conscience, apart from separating the two. When a sentient dies, the conscience dissolves back into Might.
Shifters are the most numerous of the two-natureds. Their second nature is an animal form and their name comes from their ability to shift, to change forms between human and the animal. There are various animal forms for shifters, although individual shifters only have one animal form. Predatory shifters include wolves, foxes, leopards, tigers, lions, cats and dogs, and non-predatory forms include deer and rabbit. There used to be more non-predatory shifters, but those have become extinct.
Shifters’ second nature has two forms, the actual animal when the human form gives way to the animal form, and an aura form. This is a translucent 3D manifestation of the animal, like a living holograph, that protrudes out of the shifter’s chest when the host is in human form. Usually only the front half of the animal is visible, but the entire animal can come out too. Sometimes the aura forces the host to shift by pushing out. The stronger the shifter, the better they are able to control their animal in the aura form.
Shifters’ two sides are in constant connection, communicating with each other. The animal form enhances the host’s senses and provides unique input when they are in human form. The human remains lucid—and often in charge—even in the animal form, giving the animal the ability to reason like a human.
Unlike vampires, shifters don’t have the choice to opt out of their second nature. The first shift happens in puberty and the animal form is a cub at first. Once the animal form has reached maturity, the shifter is considered an adult too, which usually happens at around forty.
Shifters’ connection with Might depends more on the moon than the vampires’. The weaker shifters are only able to change forms during the full moon. Since it’s important for their well-being to be able to take the animal form regularly, shifters gather together during full moons to celebrate and shift. Strong shifters aren’t dependent on the moon as much and can change when they like. However, multiple shifts in a short period deplete their Might reserves, forcing them to hold one form until the reserves are full again.
Might influences shifters’ lives through the animal form. It connects them with potential mates, creating a bond between the two that only a death can break. A shifter can choose to ignore the bond, but it won’t be easy. Wolves call this process ‘putting out a call’.
Strong shifters are able to heal themselves with Might energy and together they can heal minor injuries of other shifters too. They are not able to perform magic.
Shifters live longer than humans. They age very slowly and having reached maturity, remain looking much the same until they are about 300 years old. Old age comes at about 500 years, and they don’t live much past 600 years. Predatory shifters live longer than non-predatory ones.
Shifters live in clans, traditionally seeking safety in numbers. A clan is led by the alpha who is the strongest dominant male or female of the clan. Family units within a clan can usually govern themselves.
Tracker is a special kind of sentient that became almost extinct after the Sentient War. Sentients bred them by crossing sentients with vampires in order to create stronger sentients who could hunt vampires. While this was successful, their numbers were never great. As a result of this breeding, there are still those with sentient gene that might manifest as a tracker instead.
Trackers are like sentients in that they have a separate conscience. However, they have more mobility from each other and can have hundreds of kilometres between each other without it affecting them. Unlike regular sentients, the host and conscience are able to communicate telepathically through their Might tether, and the conscience gives the host other abilities too, the most important of which is the ability to track any prey that leaves a track in Might.
Trackers are stronger than ordinary humans or sentients and can live much longer too, although, since they first came about during the Inquisition, it’s not certain if they live as long as vampires do.
After the Sentient War, sentients denounced trackers and banned them from entering their continent, leaving them adrift on the old continent. Most pretend to be ordinary sentients, but some have made name for themselves in law enforcement. Vampires still hate trackers though, and try to eliminate them when possible, making it prudent for the trackers to keep low profile.
Two-natureds are human who have another - second - form besides human. It's a genetic condition or anomaly that is passed to the offspring. If both parents are two-natured, the child usually is a two-natured. However, if parents are different kinds of two-natured, the outcome isn't as clear. A child of a human and a two-natured can go either way, and the gene can skip generations so that a child of two humans can be two-natured, although that is rare.
There are three different kinds of two-natureds: vampires, shifters and sentients. Common to all two-natureds is their sensitivity to Might and ability to sense and use it.
Vampires are the most secretive, most powerful and most influential of the two-natured people. Unlike with the other two-natureds, a human can carry a vampire gene and never become a vampire. The gene has to be triggered to turn a human into a vampire, which vampires call fulfilling the promise. Humans with unfulfilled vampire gene tend to be slightly larger and stronger than the ordinary one-natured. They can also be sensitive to two-natured around them.
Once the gene is triggered, it takes a vampire between one and two centuries to master the control of their second nature, depending on their strength. During that time vampires are nocturnal, because daylight interferes with their connection with Might, shutting them down at sunrise. They are not dead, however, so you’d better not stir a sleeping vampire. Once the vampire is strong enough in Might, they are able to operate in daylight again, which they call winning the sun.
Vampires’ second nature is called the rider. It’s an entity within the vampire capable of independent thought and action with a tendency to violent rage called bloodlust, especially during the first couple of centuries after the promise is fulfilled. In order to avoid this, vampires have to control their emotions carefully. They also keep their second nature secret so that other people wouldn’t be afraid of them. Once a vampire is strong enough in Might they are able to control the rider. However, since the rider is powered by Might, it keeps growing in strength with the vampire, forcing the vampire into a constant warfare with his or her second nature.
The rider gives vampires the ability to do magic. This includes self-healing, healing of others (rare), as well as the ability to control humans with charms and compulsions. The rider also enhances vampires’ hearing, sight, strength and ability to scent.
The rider needs blood to connect with Might, hence the vampires’ need to drink blood regularly. Human blood will do, but the blood of two-natureds is more potent.
Vampires are potentially immortal. They can live thousands of years yet remain looking the same age for centuries with their ability to heal themselves. However, since they are not inclined to revealing their age, no one knows if this is actually true.
Vampires do not form large units and can often be solitary. However, it is common for a family unit to stay together for centuries, and a family can consist of vampires of very different ages, from centuries old grandparents to unfulfilled young adults—all looking the same age.
A rite of passage for vampires strong enough in Might to operate in daylight again. This can take up to two centuries from their promise being fulfilled.
Witches are one-natured who are sensitive to Might, but do not have the two-natured gene. Collectively and individually they have the ability to change the reality in minor ways by channelling Might through themselves. However, unlike the two-natured, they are unable to store Might in themselves. Therefore their magic is strongest during the full moon when Might is strongest too. They also work best in groups when they can combine the Might they channel.
Most witches are white and they work with and for the nature. Their skills and strength varies greatly. Some are only capable of feeling the Might around them, whereas the extremely rare few are even able to change their form into an animal.
There are a few black witches too. They are disconnected from Might and utilise the same dark energy as the renegades do in order to work their magic.
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