We do bite, of course.
But there’s no reason it can’t be fun!
If you can’t see the fun in the Shadow’s Kiss, you’re probably not a Lilin, though. You’re one of those others who call themselves Vampires, but are really something a little less. Maybe you’ve been called to the drudgery of being one of the Elect, struggling to be a hero or villain to a world that’s lost all faith in heroes and villains outside of children’s stories. Or maybe you’re trapped in the haunted house with the Verdilak, pretending to drink tea with dead people when it’s only a broken china cup full of dust. You could be a “Shadowfiend,” scaring others with help from gods too stupid to open a door for themselves. Or worst of all, you could be a… yawn… Amaranthine, and pad around in fake Egyptian robes during the daytime.
(Spoiler alert for the Amaranthines: We were all able to walk during the daytime at one point. It’s called “being a boring living human being.” Try to remember how dull that was sometime, ‘kay?)
Points to the Elect for at least having a sense of style, but in the end, you know who the real Vampires are: Us, the Lilin. The only ones who know how to enjoy it all, and know it’s all meant to be enjoyed.
Decadence? Cruelty? Well… yes!
But we’ll get into that in a moment. First, a little bit about how our Long Celebration began.
Lilin and Lilu, Not Lilith
It sounds like “Lilith,” doesn’t it? But we don’t have anything to do with sitcom ex-wives or anything else with a similar name. Lilu (the older term) and Lilin (the adaptation by later cultures) is merely a term for us that was coined in long-ago empires of the Middle East that have long since crumbled to dust. To them, we were “night demons” that plagued humanity, which is probably a fair statement. Later cultures got into the sexier details of our plaguing—specifically, screwing the brains out of lucky mortals, at the cost of nothing more than a little life and a little… soul… but they got a lot of things wrong, too.
Those old societies with bearded men scratching cuneiform into wet slabs of clay weren’t where our existence began. That part is a mystery, no matter what the other Destinies’ long-winded blather may say. We’ve probably always been a part of the world for as long as humans existed, or maybe even before then. Which species do you count as human, anyway? Does it begin with homo sapiens sapiens? Or is it an earlier make and model of humanity? Maybe we were having fun with our former kin while there were still only proto-humans knuckle-dragging around the deadly veldts of the prehistoric world. I think maybe we were there—maybe hunched-over primates with the first rudiments of opposable thumbs were haunted by pre-human Lilin in the night, sleeping in trees and waking to indescribable horrors and pleasures before they could even use language.
But I’m a romantic that way!
One of the ways you can tell an outsider from a Lilin is in their misunderstanding of gender. They will regard gender as nothing more than a set of genitals, secondary sexual traits and some leftover ideas from their upbringing. Lilin are too experienced to see gender as anything but a fluid self-expression described (but never defined) through social constructs. In short, whether you are Incubus or Succubus is a matter of temperament, not body parts. Among ourselves, it’s clear that you are what you see yourself as being—but when you meet others, wait to hear what they call you. To them, “Incubus is blue” and “Succubus is pink.” It won’t take long to catch them out.
And what is the actual difference between Incubus and Succubus? Nothing more than whether you want to take a more “active” or “passive” role in how you interact with the world around you. Traditionally, human societies associate “active” with Big Hairy Man and “passive” with Little Squeaky Woman, but thankfully you don’t hold with any of that tired old shit. You couldn’t if you wanted to be part of this Destiny. So you’ll know it’s a matter of temperament, and that means it’s also temporary. (See what I did there?)
You see, temperament changes from moment to moment. You may decide which you are, and you may be that temperament most of the time. But every Incubus is sometimes a Succubus, and every Succubus is sometimes an Incubus. This is hard for the outside world to get. (If you choose to pair off with another Lilin, which is only one of infinite possibilities, wait for some dipshit to ask you which one of you is the Succubus and which one is the Incubus, or to just assume the answer from your outward appearances. It will happen!)
Turning into Dracula and All That Shit
You might remember something about how you were minding your own business one night in between eating/taking a crap/falling asleep over and over again (that’s life!) and a naughty bloodsucker grabbing you and murdering you, before you woke up and said OH SHIT I’M A VAMPIIIIIIIRE!!!
After that Shadow’s Kiss, you went around and did stuff for a while until you said, “Fuck this, Imma go grab somebody else and murder them so I can give them the Shadow Hickey too.” So you did that and everybody was like ooh you are totally Vampire now, and you did more stuff.
But at some point, after turning into Dracula, you started getting some funny ideas in your head and started seeing things here and there. Déjà vu, coincidences, fortune cookies, stuff like that, and it all clicked and you said, “Dude, I wanna be a sexy, super-cool Lilin Vampire. That is my Destiny.”
You have to go through some stuff to take the Last Exit to Lilin-ville. Call it a “quest” if you want to. When it’s done, if you’re still surviving, you’re one of us and ready to party! I can see you made it through yours, and you’re itching for Initiation.
Well, slow down there, bucko! Not just anybody can put on the makeup and tights and ride with the Lilin gang. You might want your Initiation right now, and who wouldn’t with a name like the Feast of the Passions, but first you need to know about what we do.
We’re described as having a “Demon-like quality” after we learn to be super happy with decadence and cruelty (yayy!), but you know, everybody likes decadence and cruelty. (Oh yes they do!) That won’t do it by itself. That’s why they say that we “master the infernal Nethersoul” and “find joy in this horror through the Feast of the Passions.” Wouldn’t you like to know more about our buddy Mister Nethersoul? Of course you would!
Okay, somebody wrote this melodramatic passage about how “the infernal Nethersoul” (which is really important to us) is “the closest spiritual realm to the undead.” I think the Verdilak might take a little issue with that, and even the Shadowclowns might, but it’s really a weird way of explaining what the central part of our Destiny is actually about.
“Spiritual realms” are part of everything that is anything. If you want to know what “hell” is like, just go feel suicidal depression or utter screaming delirium or all sorts of other things that you keep pushed away into the far corners of your head. (If you’re lucky.) “Heaven?” Same idea. You visit them all the time, you just don’t live there permanently until you transition to them. (We think that might be what happens when you die. Maybe!)
It’s complicated, I know, but you’re asking me to explain something that’s like poetry or intuition, not GPS coordinates or how to make rice pilaf. This just isn’t going to be very precise, but you need to know something about it.
“Nether” and “higher” are bullshit ideas that shape the world because we’re thinking animals that live under the Earth’s gravity. There’s no reason why “better/nicer” ideas and feelings are “up” and “worse/awful” ideas and feelings are “down” except we monkeys can’t seem to think any other way. If you saw Cousin Bonzo the Apeman fall out of the sleeping tree one night and get eaten by a sabertooth kitty cat, you’d start to see bad as down and good as up, too!
But it’s the language we use, even after we die and get back up again. So let’s call it a “Nethersoul.” The Nethersoul exists outside the campfire light of civilization and being “righteous with other people.” It’s beyond your comfort zone. It’s where the interesting things happen. It’s Hell. Yayyyy!
Red flag alert: This is not the Hell of the faiths of the book. It resembles that idea, but it partakes more of the Underworld that Eset and Ishtar knew, and the realm of Hades that claimed the bride of Orpheus. But all of these are considered “worlds of the dead”—erroneously. The dead have their own fields, far away from ours. The Nethering that we revel in is somewhere between life, death and undeath.
It’s where your “dark side” exists, Dr. Jekyll. You know—those things no one is supposed to know about, but you just can’t seem to ever stop thinking about when you lie awake at night? Some of them arouse you sexually. Some of them turn you on in other ways. You know what I mean. It’s the predatory fun that nobody should want, but everybody does.
Everybody else takes a quick splash through the shallow end of the Nethersoul, or Nethering, then runs out all dirty and ashamed and scared. We, the Lilin, are like fucking mermaids in this stuff. This is our ocean and we love it.
Now hear this: Nethering does not equal the Fear Worlds of those Loa Master assholes, or the weird-ass “outer void” that our friends the Shadowgoofs say they know about. I mean, there is a clear resemblance between the nightmare worlds of the so-called Loa Masters and the dark delirium of the Nethering. They are obviously neighbors separated by the stirring of a breath! But the same thing? No way.
The Vibrational(!) Planes of the Single Universe
It’s probably important to clarify something about cosmology here (ooh, cosmic). There’s just one universe. Don’t listen to some of the crazier other ideas about this. It’s one universe by definition, got it? So what about all these different “dimensions” or “planes of reality” or whatever? They’re all just part of the same thing. All of them. What separates you from some whole other reality is a lot of drugs (kidding, maybe) and “vibrational frequencies” (hot).
I have no idea what this means. I guess everything vibrates one way and you see this version of reality, but if you shake it another way you see some other shit. Maybe! Practically speaking, whatever makes the vibes do their vibe will get you “somewhere else.” But not really.
You metaphorically “travel to another plane” or “open a gateway to another plane.” But in actuality, you aren’t automatically “going” anywhere. You are becoming more like that plane, and it is becoming more like you. You are exploring the facets of that plane that most closely resemble facets of yourself. You are changing and so is the world around you, until things become… different.
It can look like you’re traveling, feel like you’re traveling, and if you really want to, you can even think of it as traveling. But you are not traveling. Nobody is, when they move between planes of reality. There is only one universe. You see it differently depending on a lot of things. To “visit another vibrational plane of reality” is to transform and be transformed, not call yourself a ride and go over the toll bridge to Poughkeepsie.
This is important, because when I tell you of an Everlasting Abyss that we align ourselves with, I really don’t want you to think we bungee jump into a big ol’ quarry pit full of oozy emotion-sludge, ‘kay? The Everlasting Abysses are not a place, class, so remember that for the test we have at the end of this period!
The Feast of the Passions
So all right, you’ve been on the Lilin Diet for a while now (quest, quest, quest) and you’re ready to get jumped-in with your Initiation. It’s your debut as a Lilin, or possibly how you wash out and die forever, so you need to do it right.
The Feast is in two parts. The first part you do alone, the second part you do with friends. When you’re done with both, you’re either called to the Abyss or you’re not. If not, hey, you went out like a champ, not a bitch! But if you make it, you’re one of the few, the proud, the Lilin.
The first part of the Feast is the Overture. You sequester yourself away from the world for as long as it takes to withdraw into yourself and away from all stimulation… total mental masturbation time. You enter a liquid-tight vessel, curl up inside it, and rip open your flesh with your teeth. The blood comes out and you lie in it, hungering and empty, moaning in the darkness. You drink and re-drink the blood you had inside you, ripping yourself open again and again until the memories fill your mind.
You will remember everything you ever did, or failed to do, said or failed to say, thought or felt or failed to experience. Every last goddamn thing, it’s all in there. You’re hooked up to what some creatures out there call an “Akashic Highway” or something. All the knowledge of what you’ve been. And there is some ugly-ass shit in there.
Look at the ugly-ass shit. LOOK AT IT. Feel it all. Remember all the things you hated in yourself. All your shame. Right down to the most terrible regret that leaves you trembling and crying…
AND LOVE IT. LOVE EVERY FUCKING BIT OF IT. TAKE JOY IN IT. SAVOR MOMMY’S TEARS. LAUGH AT THAT PUPPY YOU HURT. ORGASM OVER THE HELL YOU PUT YOUR BEST LOVED ONE THROUGH. OWN IT. LOVE IT!
Stop apologizing. Stop pretending it was somebody else. It was YOU and YOU ARE NOT SORRY, in fact, YOU FUCKING LOVE IT NOW.
And then go further. Let yourself dream big… think of how good it feels to make others feel things. All kinds of things! Pleasure, yes, but also pain… mortification… depression… suffering of any kind. You’re an agent of engagement, baby! You grab others by the face and say YOU ARE ALIVE (or something like being alive) and WE ARE HERE TOGETHER NOW. In the Overture, you need to accept that you will make others feel good and feel bad… but most of all, those motherfuckers will FEEL.
Can’t do it? Sorry, you are not Lilin material; go buy a condo and get a 401(k) and be a nice cog in whatever society floats your coffin.
Can do it? Good. Ride it out to the end and learn from it. When is it done? When the tears won’t come, just the smiles. The Overture takes as long as it takes. It takes decades for some Vampires. Some of them get found while they’re Overturing, and not always by nice creatures who let them lie there in a puddle of blood screaming. Oh well, sucks to be them!
At last it’s time for the second half of the Feast of the Passions: Breaking your fast and indulging the fuck out of yourself and as many friends, enemies, victims and bystanders as you can assemble. What does that even mean, you ask? It means what your inspiration tells you it means. A feast of blood in a refugee camp, an orgy on a bed stuffed with a hundred thousand hypodermic needles, a masquerade of death, an art gallery opening where each artist commits suicide as they unveil their masterpiece… you gotta get creative, baby. This is your party, for your coming out. If you don’t reach inside your guts and pull out some creativity and some emotional resonance—and I mean screaming raw emotion—you will not be called to the eternal joy of the Lilin. You’ll be just another bloodsucker with a velvet couch and a pretty butler in a dog collar. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you could be so much more…)
How long does the Feast take? Shit, do you need a schedule for everything?! It also takes as much time as you need! You will know when the party is peaking and you will know when it is over and it’s time to boot the guests’ asses (alive and dead) out the door. You will know when you have indulged in every nasty little trick and treat to get every moan and plea for mercy out of the celebrants. If you didn’t know… that’s right, you wouldn’t be Lilin.
So you purge yourself of regrets and you refine your sensibilities up to the fever pitch you need. And then?
Then it’s time to buy your ticket to the Abyss. But which Abyss?
Three Abysses, One Choice
After the Initiation comes the Price. Oh, you knew there’d be a price, of course! To attain the Everlasting Abyss that best suits your own ineffable, eternal spark of self, you have abandon the ability to feel the thing you’re called to give. It’s how you make room for the collective darkness of the Abyss you choose. Each Abyss is a concentration of primal emotions and energies associated with those emotions. You already have some of those feelings inside you. You choose your one Abyss and carve out a part of your very self, letting the murky, primitive, beautiful flood of Desire, Melancholy or Dread blot out the light from your heart. When you pay the Price, you become less than human. When you receive the sweet venom of the Abyss, you become something much more.
The Abyss of Desire is the world of madness that’s composed of WANT. Every living thing has wants, and every living thing wants more than it has. Every bodily and emotional need—there’s never enough! Some of this is cast out in life, some of it’s shed by the spirit upon death. It settles away from the conscious world of reality into the Abyss of Desire, and it becomes one of our bottomless pits of joy.
What is the Price of the Abyss of Desire? You must abandon want and replace it with satiation (what some boring people call “decadence”). You’ll have something like hunger, but really, it’ll only be a delicious craving. You’ll do what you like only because you like it, and you’ll never need it again.
The danger of the Price of Desire is that you will become obsessed with trivia, arranging the pillows on your wanton bed, and lose your sight for bigger designs and greater plans.
Once the Price is paid, you attain the kewl powerz that go with Desire—the means to find what others want, make them want it more, make them want it the way you want them to want it, and even fulfill them beyond their wildest imaginings. And you get to enjoy every bit of it… just not anywhere near as much as they do. You’ll serve the feast, and dine casually on the hors d’oeuvres. But take my word for it… it’s delicious and you’ll never want it to end.
The Abyss of Melancholy is a realm of insane longing and pain, and it’s right next door to Desire, because what is Melancholy but Desire that can never be fulfilled? Desire can lead to satisfaction, even if it’s too little, too late or too bad. Melancholy is different. Hope has gone. The things you want most you can never have. And you know what? There’s only one way out.
Cruel?! Oh, come on! Everyone gets that urge to jump off a tall building sometimes! Living things want to die! Dead things want to live! And here we undead things are, we’re the cat meowing at the universe to open the door, but we don’t go outside. Or maybe we do!
Despair leads to death, because life without hope is unbearable. They don’t say “where there’s life, there’s hope” for nothing!
What is the Price of the Abyss of Melancholy? You can’t feel real pain any longer, only a little bruising. No matter the wound or the loss, you’ll never break under its crushing weight. More decadence! So jaded and detached you’ll be, I know you can’t wait.
The risk you face from the Price of Melancholy is to become isolated, unable to care about the woes that drive them. It would be so tedious to be nothing more than an angel of death.
But a little detachment is just fine, and it wouldn’t do for a Lilin to go around blubbering and crying about making poor widdle other people feel all sad. So you get a full panoply of crazy superpowers that let you spoon-feed misery to others, give them a taste of bitter numbness, cleanse their palate with blank emptiness, make them lick up agonizing pain and even look again… and again… and again… at that nice tall building they can jump from.
The Abyss of Dread is where your fears go. No, not spiders or speaking in public! All that shit is just mundane reality that doesn’t mean anything unless you let it mean something. Leave warehouses full of evil bogeymen to the Loa Masters and other losers. The Abyss of Dread is where actual fear lives and breeds. The fear of pain… oblivion… humiliation… abandonment… the unknown… you know, the good stuff! In other words, as much fun as the stimulus is, the real fun is in the wiring that sparks when the stimulus happens.
What is the Price of the Abyss of Dread? You will never know real fear again. The most you can register from this point onward is shock, surprise, maybe a tiny bit of anxiety, but horror and terror are as far away from you as the center of the universe. You’ll understand fear in others… but you won’t taste it yourself.
The hazard of the Price of Dread is that fear is a warning of danger, and if you can’t feel fear anymore, you’ll need to have an intellect that’s on guard for trouble forever. A fearless person could become easy prey to things that should command fear.
After you pay the Price, things change for you. You gain special abilities and insights into fear and how it can be used. The question is not “what are you afraid of?” That’s for kids. The question is… “what can I make you afraid of? And how can I make it just as advantageous and enjoyable for me as possible?” Have you ever seen a total badass suddenly afraid of the sound of their own heartbeat? Would you like to? Here’s your big chance.
One thing all the Abysses have in common is that they bring us happiness. Yep, total happiness with fangs! If this wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t do it. Or maybe we couldn’t do it. Maybe! So it’s natural that we should want to share the pleasure of our Destiny with others, and thanks to our new abilities, we can do just that. But maybe there’s something we need to think about when it comes to pleasure. Hmmm…
The Paradox of Pleasure
You’d think pleasure was an easy idea, wouldn’t you? But on top of saying yay, sex! and yum, nice food! there are other ways to look at pleasure. Let’s put it this way: There’s the pleasure of stimulation and the pleasure of satisfaction, and as it turns out, they’re not always connected.
So while most of us like “the right kind of stimulation” until we achieve satisfaction, most of us also like the satisfaction of putting off stimulation or never letting it happen at all. I know this really broadens the definition of “pleasure” until it stretches into something like peace and contentment as well, but it does work. Think of it like a piece of music: There are notes (correct stimulation) and pauses (correct satisfaction). Together, they make a song (pleasure).
The practical use of this whole idea is that you may think that somebody with great self-discipline is immune to pleasure, when what you’re actually seeing is that self-discipline is their pleasure. You can also apply the idea to concepts of excess and over-stimulation. You can even let it guide you as you pursue your Lilin Destiny.
We’re famous for the Long Celebration, as we call our unlife, but it doesn’t have to mean party hats, lingerie or any other obvious choice. They, too, are Lilin who seem like virgin bookkeepers. Remember self-discipline? That’s their good times. It’s a surprise to outsiders expecting Incubus in his leather pants and Succubus in her leather panties to come over and offer them a nice threesome in a room full of warm blood-flavored gelatin. We’ve got more in our repertoire than just that (but there is that, too!).
Die Another Night
I said we are agents of engagement and I meant it. We never know the boredom of immortality because we are here to grapple with our world in the most interesting ways. We challenge, we torture, we tantalize and we stay interested. You won’t catch a Lilin floating off to Mars like a Shadownaut; we stay here and pour fuel on the fire. We can lead you, but we’re not like the Elect—we don’t want you to get comfy in your role. Shit will change if we’re in charge. The Verdilak can keep their ghost party, that’s too dusty for us… we need some hot blood. And all the Amaranthine really need is a push in the right direction, ‘cause don’t forget those old-fashioned fun and games in the ancient world—it wasn’t all reverencing the sun and chanting and blah.
We stay involved and we stay relevant. That keeps us interesting and interested. I’m more than 250 years old, prithee good sirrah, but you either keep up or you get your ass left behind. It’s a Long Celebration and you can be a superstar in it.
See you in Hell!