Destiny: The Amaranthine (The Undying)
Vampires are not monsters, or at least no more so than anything else that exists in the world. To be granted the Shadow’s Kiss is to be made different, not to be damned. Come with me and I will tell you of your Destiny, which is ultimately the universal Destiny: The Amaranthine way.
Our existence is cyclical, like any other pattern of life and existence. We begin as humans, frail and lost. This is the egg from which we are freed by the Shadow’s Kiss. Some who follow our Destiny liken the Kiss to the “egg tooth” that some creatures use to free themselves from their shell, with the implication that we call our murderer to us and give them our lifeblood in order to become more than human.
After we have received the Kiss and been broken free from our human egg, we rove the night as Lesser Vampires, which is to say, a sort of larva. (The ancient Roman meaning is also quite appropriate.) We stretch our limbs, attain knowledge, nourish ourselves and advance until we give the Shadow’s Kiss to another person and metamorphose into true Vampires.
But this is not enough. The cycle continues as we gain experience and scars, doubt and certainty, while omens and visions begin to filter into our personal worlds. At first we ignore or deny them, afraid of some delusion or insanity that may be creeping into us. Soon, though, the signs and portents are clear: We have a Destiny, and it is time to seek it out.
This is a dangerous time. We are called to adventure, with our own destruction or immortality at stake. If we can claim the prize of our quest, we have taken up the Destiny of the Amaranthine—the Undying. And the cycle does not end there.
The penultimate phase in our journey to completeness is the Initiation of the Amaranthine, or Investiture. When it is undertaken successfully, we commune with the Mighty Ones and follow an ancient pathway toward our ultimate fate. To fail… is to be utterly destroyed.
Before explaining Investiture and the Mighty Ones, it is worth considering what our Destiny leads us toward, where we come from in its pursuit, and what guides our way forward.
The Ascent of the Amaranthine: When the Half-Gods Arrive
If you’ve read of the ancient faiths, then you remember the stories of demigods and avatars. One popular belief system tells us that “there were giants in the Earth in those days.” Those days are not over, and we are proof of it. Unlike the others who share our existence in the darkness, we accept and embrace the fact that we have become more than mortal—less than gods, but a rightful and natural phase between the earthly and the divine.
The archetypal nature of our path is obvious, as it echoes all other journeys through existence: We exist, are transformed, and exist anew. We emerge from the womb, die, arise from death as undead—and for most Vampires, this is fulfillment. They deem themselves complete and done. We know this is not the case. As surely as infancy leads to childhood, and childhood to adolescence, and all the stages that follow—to be a Vampire is not the fixed end point of our eternity. We ascend a stairway that leads us to greater mysteries than any we have ever known. To learn the answers is to commune with godhood.
Gods are not as we conceive them in childhood. Simpler minds wish to find an eternal parent who will lovingly tend to them for a span of time that unreels forever. Slightly more complex thinkers choose to engage the gods as the memories of exemplary people, “historical figures” who did small things that were made large by storytellers. A step beyond this takes us to the notion of gods as natural forces given names, with their deeds and misdeeds recounted as colorful explanations of everyday phenomena. And a further step offers the concept of as impartial cogs in an existential clockwork, carrying out their roles in foreordained patterns like ghosts reenacting their suicides forever.
All of this falls short of the truth. It would be too difficult to explain the gods completely in a single easy saying, but as one of the younger Amaranthine put it, “You are the person that thinks of ideas. The gods are the ideas that think of persons.” In other words, one way to look at the gods is to see them as Jung and others saw them: Archetypes. It isn’t all they are, of course, for the gods are more than only ideas. But you might find it easier to think of them as ideas that became persons, in a sort of reversal of the way a person may transcend their mortal life to become an idea.
We revere and examine the gods, imitate and alter them. We Amaranthine are not priestesses and priests, but something purer and different from any dispenser of dogma. We understand why the shaman wears the mask of power and speaks as the power itself. We remember why the wonder-child is born and must wrestle with the world to join the company of the divine. To be Undying is only the beginning. There is much more that we must become. This rising and advancing future is the defining quality of our existence as Vampires.
Origination: Out of Egypt—and All Other Lands
Most of us have been called to the ideas of ancient Egypt, regardless of our living birthplace… but not all of us. Every nation and every people that has ever worshipped gods is fertile soil for the Amaranthine. It must be so, because the urge to worship the gods is the desire to do more than wander, eat, sleep and mate. The mind and spirit seek to understand the world, master it, guide others and shape the story of life. The gods, if they are worthy, provide us with a map leading us toward these things—if we dare.
The Undying are famous for including some Vampires who may walk by day, while no others can. There are Amaranthine who are capable of eating food, of lying with a living human being and procreating, and many more things that supersede our undead nature. This is the power of returning that is hinted at in the resurrection of Osiris by magical Isis, of course, and similar archetypes of death and rebirth into a greater state are found in every culture and era. Our Destiny begins at the return from death and journeys onward from there, but there is no need to assume any single culture or nation is “right” or “wrong” in our worldview. What matters is forward momentum toward greater things.
Oracles: The Sempiternal Tarot
One element of our way is important to know, though it can only come after Investiture and communion with the Mighty Ones: The Sempiternal Tarot, which is unlike any fortune cards known in the mortal world, and is our means of insight into what was, what is and what may be.
What we know now as the Sempiternal Tarot is the aggregation of numberless inspirations accumulated over centuries. There is no single author or interpreter of its cards. It has not always taken the form of playing cards, and it will not always hold this form in the future. Not every card now in the deck was always there, and not every card will remain there in the future. The meanings and images on them have changed and will change again. Simpler creatures think of it only as a “magic card deck” that “tells fortunes.” It is actually the true conduit of divine Amaranthine gnosis: The breath, thought and touch of the gods within and the God Within.
Many, even most Amaranthine have a copy of the deck, but this is no mere packet of thin pieces of cardboard. Every Amaranthine who wishes to have the power of the Sempiternal Tarot must create and paint their own, infusing it with their own spiritual energies and braiding it to the threads of fate, divinity and reality. When this is done correctly, the deck of cards becomes part of the true Sempiternal Tarot. It conveys insights into the past, present and possible future, and it does much more besides.
The face of an earthly king may be its Emperor, the shape of a worldly landmark may be its Tower. Or they may be replaced with simple artworks, or nothing at all. What matters is what the card means, not how it looks.
Most importantly, it is not the copy of the cards made by the Undying Vampire that is immortal, but the single true Sempiternal Tarot that is reflected in every deck that exists. When the archetypal deck—the real deck that exists Platonically and is reflected by all the handmade copies—changes, then every handmade deck simultaneously changes to match it. The true deck of the Sempiternal Tarot is divine in nature, and to read it is to see the guiding power behind everything in reality.
Physical decks of the Sempiternal Tarot are destroyed and defiled seemingly every night. This does no harm to the true deck. It is immortal and all-knowing, but just as our immortality is flawed by comparison to it, so is our omniscience through the cards. We harness its wisdom and consecrated power to our purposes, but this is a two-way avenue. We see and are seen through its imagery. It can be used to communicate with others who hold the deck… and it will communicate with you.
Now that these important matters have been addressed, it is time to consider Initiation and the Mighty Ones.
The act of Initiation as an Amaranthine Vampire is known as Investiture. It is a solemn ceremony, undertaken either alone or with trusted allies and mentors.
The Vampire, having died and risen—and then having acted as the Angel of Death and freed another spirit to die and rise—will have wandered the Earth for many nights, finally questing to become part of the Amaranthine Destiny. This is already discussed briefly, in the notes above. Having survived this quest, the Undying Vampire has found their Destiny but has not yet been Initiated into it. They must wait for correct inspiration to come to them, in order to enact the Investiture.
The ceremony requires these things:
The Undying Vampire must purge herself physically and mentally, clearing the mind and body of all distractions.
The Undying Vampire must gather the objects and vestments that they most strongly associate with the Sacred and the Profane. Golden incense burners and delicate statuary are beautiful and wonderful, but these are not the only means of honoring one’s inner Divinity. A well-loved childhood stuffed animal and a sacrificial handgun are no less appropriate to the altar than an antique obsidian knife and a carved image of a protective spirit.
The Undying Vampire must find a Holy Pilgrim. It may be anyone mortal, if they are right for the sacred role, no matter how foul, oblivious or rebellious they might be. This is a matter of deepest necessity and it requires true inspiration. Selecting the wrong person for this role in the ceremony dooms it to fail—and may doom much more besides.
At a secure place, and with at least one witness who does not understand what is happening (a person who might be kidnapped and handcuffed to a pipe would be perfectly acceptable, as an example), the Undying Vampire sets up their holy place. They mark out its bounds by any means available, calling the spirits of the ancient dead to act as invisible witnesses in the name of Anpu, or Anubis, who is called the Lord of the Dead.
If the spirits come, the Undying Vampire is favored by the Prince of Death, and may proceed.
Then it is time to welcome any mentors, guests and allies to step through the bounds of the sanctified place and act as visible witnesses while the Undying Vampire lays out their altar and its tools and materials. The celebrant undertakes a secret mystery out of the old land—a hidden truth of the Great Art of al-Kheme—and takes a lock of their own hair in their hand, holding it tightly as they focus their will on the rising path of their future.
If they are not shunned by Set and Apep (Apophis), then when they open their hand, they will find a single feather in it which had once been their hair. This is placed upon the altar in a small dish so that it may be burned. Thus the second test is passed, and the Undying Vampire may proceed to the final test of Investiture.
The Holy Pilgrim is brought forth, naked and trembling, to the presence of the Undying Vampire. Half of the Pilgrim’s lifeblood is drained from their body, leaving them helpless, cold, thirsty and in a new state of thought… open to truths they could not otherwise channel. Now the Undying Vampire demands:
“Who is my Maker?”
The Holy Pilgrim replies (in some words to this effect):
“I do not know. But if you are called to Its service, you will not dwell long in mystery.”
This answer infuriates/”infuriates” the Undying Vampire, who drinks half again of the Holy Pilgrim’s blood. On the brink of dying, the Holy Pilgrim pleads, begs for life—and the Undying Vampire rouses them for another question:
“How am I to serve my Maker?”
The Holy Pilgrim replies (in some words to this effect):
“To serve is to inherit.”
Lost in frustration, the Undying Vampire celebrant drains the remaining vitality out of the Holy Pilgrim’s body, leaving only a trace in their heart. This is critical, and demands great care: Too much, and the Pilgrim dies, letting the ceremony fail. Too little, and the ceremony also fails.
With the Holy Pilgrim fallen, near death, his hot blood in the body of the celebrant, the celebrant (Undying Vampire) shouts to the heavens:
“You, Who made me! Will no greater power preserve the Holy Pilgrim?!”
If all has been done properly to this point, a light will enter the eyes of the Undying Vampire, dazzling and blinding them. Only they will see it, but it is quite real. It is the calling of the immortal sun, which dies each night and is reborn every morning. The celebrant will then, without recalling it in any clear detail, place their lips upon the Holy Pilgrim’s wounds and do what no other Vampire can: They will reverse the flow of blood from their own body and into the body of the Holy Pilgrim.
The blood returns, whole and untainted, from the pit of undeath and into the veins of the Pilgrim. Restored of their blood, the Pilgrim is returned from the edge of death. The Undying Vampire, having granted a truer resurrection than undeath, falls back into a vision. And in that vision await the Three Mighty Ones, from which the Undying Vampire must select their Guide, Preceptor, Master and Ideal.
The Three Mighty Ones
Each of the Mighty Ones is a many-faced archetype. We are accustomed to visualizing them as one idea—gods of old Egypt—but there is no reason, for example, that the Eternal Serpent must be Apep instead of Quetzalcoatl, Jormungandr, Danh-gbi or any other great aspect of the divine concept. One must look to see what lies underneath, even while venerating that which is worn as the outward mantle.
By revering the Queen of Magick, the Undying Vampire learns the way of words, numbers and names. All things are defined, shaped, called and dismissed by thought, and thought is itself given form by language. Through the sorcery of symbols, the Amaranthine becomes master of all that can be named.
By honoring the Arisen King, the Amaranthine Vampire finds herself in harmony with nature and its seasons. The natural world becomes an ally, as undeath takes its place alongside death and life, and the celebrant learns that she can encourage beasts, plants and other things to do as she wills.
By adoring the Eternal Serpent, the Undying Vampire becomes aligned with the interconnection of seeming contradictions as surely as the Great One swallows Its own tail in a Knotted Bond that has no beginning and no ending. With this insight into reality, strange delights and agonies become possible as fire may be merged with water to create a new thing, undead flesh and living flesh may entwine to create strange chimerae, and the dead and living may trade places for a time.
The best-known token of the Mighty Ones’ blessing is found in the way the Amaranthine share increasing qualities with living creatures. This is part of the rising path that the Undying tread. Over time and with insightful experience, the Amaranthine Vampire becomes capable of activity during day and night, of sustaining herself with blood and mortal nourishment, falling dead in one’s resting place and sleeping normally.
The changes do not end there. To walk under the sun is not enough. One must go further and become more than mortal or Vampire. Now it is time to understand the beginnings of this mystery.
The Gods Who Once Were, And The Gods Who Shall Come
Ours is the greatest Destiny of all our kind, because we know what we are to become. But let us first consider what the other Destinies make of their followers.
The Verdilak become voyagers along the roads of ultimate death, and sing forth the Unquiet Dead to aid in their plans on Earth. They call forsaken souls to seek new meaning and purpose.
The Tenebrous become intermediaries with faraway alien gods, bargaining as ambassadors of the Shadow that made us all. They trade and walk the bans with cosmic neighbors, defining the borders of our universe and its divinity.
The Lilin tease and torment, exulting in the great, dark bacchanal they would make of the world. They strike the lyre and pour the wine for new Maenads and new sacrifices.
The Elect become archetypal heroes and villains, churning the world with their ambitions, struggles, victories and defeats. They lead the world to become a Passion Play, enacting holy marriage, sacred war and legendary deeds.
Each Destiny’s celebrants think of themselves as random actors improvising on an empty stage. But they are not, and we are not. The One Who made us—the Dark Goddess—is real, and She has unknowable plans. Yet She has not denied us insight into our own purposes within Her plans.
In the time that was ancient to the ancients, in a world that is neither wholly real nor entirely imaginary, there was strife. The Dark Goddess was cast out by the gods… all of the gods, of every land and every people. She was the one never named in their stories and songs. It was forbidden even to know she existed.
And She craves revenge.
How will she attain her vengeance? There is no single answer to that question, but we of the Amaranthine know what our part is in Her struggle. We are to evolve. If a Vampire exists as a mere step on a bridge that separates the mortal from the divine, it is the Amaranthine Destiny to take another step… and another… and another.
For there will be gods, but they will not be the gods who wounded and offended our Maker. No, there will be new gods in their very images—gods who wear their crowns and wield their lightning, but who are the children of the Shadow’s Kiss.
When the old gods fall, the Amaranthine will be the new gods, ruling the Earth as regents in the name of the Dark Goddess. Clothed in the relics and myths of the gods of ancient times, we will sit on thrones made of their weeping flesh. Their agony will be our nectar and ambrosia, as we uphold the law of our Maker over their arbitrary ways. The old gods will not die. That would be far too merciful.
We, the Amaranthine, will burrow into their celestial brains, grow fat on their sacred spirits, and be the new gods… forever.
Let the sun shine bright on your alabaster face, and rejoice.
What Destinies Are, And What They Are Not
A Destiny is a set of special abilities that a Vampire attains as they attain experience in their unlife. They could use these powers in all kinds of ways; there are no “job descriptions” to go with them. Destinies are almost a kind of “maturation” for a Vampire—they are becoming more of what the Shadow’s Kiss has made of them as they take action in the world.
More experienced Vampires who embody these Destinies can teach other Vampires how to be better at them, but they don’t form “guilds” or “tribes” on this basis—this is less about being a plumber (guild) or TV show fan (social tribe or clique) and more about personal development. Destinies create shared areas of ability, not cumbersome sociopolitical affiliations.
As an analogy, imagine learning new languages or going to the gym… nobody forms a guild of French speakers or a tribe of free weights users. When you become a Verdilak Vampire, you are a lot more like other Verdilak Vampires than you were beforehand, but you’re still yourself, first and foremost. You associate with other Vampires who chose other Destinies in the same way you might mingle with any crowd of people that each have their own interests, wishes and tasks to perform. You may have more or less in common with one another, but beyond that, your Destiny does not dictate how you deal with the world.
In game terms, this means that your Player Character is very much a free agent, even with a Destiny. Upon creation, your PC has already finished their period as a Lesser Vampire and given someone in the world the Shadow’s Kiss, to become a True Vampire. After your character reaches the 10th Level of Experience, they must choose their Destiny. They then undertake a Quest, after which they are Initiated with a Rite and choose from the ways of the Mighty Ones. After that, your play in the game will take your PC from Apprenticeship to Mastery in your Destiny.