by Richard A Becker

The kiss of the shadows is the kiss of the Dark Goddess. This is what she is called, who was first among us, but she has gone by many names. To some she was the Murga Muggai, the Trapdoor Spider; to others Hekate, the Witch of the Moon and Crossroads; to others Tiamat, the Dragon of Chaos; or Louhi of the Land of Darkness, or the dark Mother, or… all the names by which the darkness is called.


She walked in every land, in ancient times, and was known in every pantheon. The Dark Goddess was the shared dream of every people, in every nation, for she was the one who dwelt in the night and hungered always for the blood of life.


By the light of the moon, she took mortal lovers, bearing their children—demigods neither of the bright world of the living nor of the deep dreaming gulfs of the dead. But all her offspring were stillborn, and knowing that the gods would despise the abominations that she had birthed, she hid them away.


And there she would sing to them, in lightless catacombs, nursing their lifeless husks at her breast. They did not move, they did not breathe… but neither did they decay, neither did they pass out of the cosmos. Their deathly forms grew fat, like worms in the earth. They existed impossibly—profanely. And it came to the Dark Goddess in a dream that one day they might awaken to crawl upon the surface of the world. It was a dream she cherished.


In time the deities who shared creation with the Dark Goddess became aware of her horrifying secret. Outraged at her blasphemy against the order and harmony of life, they sought to destroy her. They warred upon the Dark Goddess, but she could not be destroyed; she might be hurt, but never vanquished.


Yet the gods are sly and wise, and much given to venom. She could not be destroyed, but her children could. The chieftains of the gods drew forth from their brows a terrible strength, which they added to the burning disk of the sun, and from that day forward the light of the daystar would destroy the children of the Dark Goddess.


Knowing that one day her children might wake, only to be annihilated by the conquering sun, the Dark Goddess gathered up her young. She drew from each a measure of their wine-dark blood, and made of it an elixir of unnatural life. When she was done, she cast her nine stillborn godlings into the black void above the world, where they sleep in the shadow of the Earth, safe from the light.


Then she turned her sight upon her enemies and prepared her revenge.


Robbed of her own offspring, the Dark Goddess took the elixir of their blood and found new mortal lovers—each a favorite of the other gods. To each she gave a measure of the elixir. Each died, and rose anew, accursed to walk the night and burn under the sun’s wrath…


…the first Vampires.