Bertena Varney recently launched The Lure of the Vampire, a book about vampire lore to which I contributed an article on vampire legends, in particular those of the east. The Immortyl Revolution vampire culture is drawn from India and the lore of Kali. Here is a short excerpt from that article:
Since our early history, people have understood that if a human being lost a great deal of blood he or she would die. It’s not surprising that similar myths of blood-drinking monsters arose all over the globe. Usually these stories were connected with sudden or early death of a person. Almost every culture has some sort of vampire myth. Some of them are very colorful. In some legends they are portrayed as seductive men or women, while in others they are bloated corpses. In Malaysian stories they can sparkle ala Twilight. The ancient Assyrians believed in ekimmu, emaciated creatures that drank the blood of people about to die. Chinese vampires or jiangshi hop to get around and feed on a person’s “life force.” Russian vampires were said to be witches who rebelled against the church, while the ancient Greeks believed in the lamiae, female demons that drained the life force of males.
However, it is the folkloric tradition of Eastern Europe that has inspired many of the legends we associate with vampires. In Slavic culture, belief in spirits both good and evil abounded. Demons in either human or animal form were said to feed on the blood of livestock and human beings. Vampires were purported to be the resurrected dead, pale of complexion with long fingernails and elongated teeth that sometimes had only one nostril. They preyed upon their own families and haunted their villages. These were bloated, mindless creatures, more similar to today’s movie zombies than the dashing gentlemen of popular culture.
Differing stories surrounded the creation of vampires. The idea of a vampire simply biting a victim and that person becoming a vampire or some sort of blood exchange taking place between a vampire and the chosen human is a more modern development. In some of the older myths, it is said that if one was destined for vampirism if illegitimate or the seventh son of a seventh son. Death in childbirth or a cat or dog jumping over a corpse could also result in a vampire. Heresy, committing suicide, or engaging in immoral behavior was also said to cause vampirism.
According to myth, destruction of a vampire could be accomplished by differing means. In some places, a bullet was shot into the coffin of a suspected vampire or its clothing nailed in place to prevent it from moving. Staking was not to kill the vampire but to immobilize the creature so it can be decapitated. This could be done with everything from a hatpin to the more commonly known wooden stake, and it was usually done in the abdomen not the heart. Burning of a suspected corpse was another method of destruction.
Many of these legends of Eastern Europe, along with the stories surrounding of the real life Vlad Tepes, inspired Bram Stoker to write the most famous vampire tale of all time, Dracula. Vlad Dracul (son of the dragon), or Vlad the Impaler, was a 15th century Wallachian prince. As a boy of eleven, the Ottoman Turks took him hostage along with his brother, Radu the Handsome. It is probable that during his captivity at the Ottoman court Vlad suffered sexual abuse. This may have caused him to develop his deep hatred for his former captors. When his brother converted to Islam and went on to serve the Sultan this served to intensify his hatred. These factors may well have also inspired him to invent a particularly ghoulish way of dealing with his enemies.