These vampires live exceptionally long lives thanks to the "second heart", a gland that constantly regenerates their blood and revitalizes their bodies. The Dissolution (the only disease a vampire can get) shuts this gland down. The oldest vampire lived to be 895, and they can walk in the sunlight. They aren't immortal. They typically die in accidents or from old age when the second heart wears out. They rule Valladora because of their long lives, and not everyone is happy about this, though it's a generally peaceful world. Humans can be turned because they also have this special gland, though it remains dormant until they ingest enough vampire blood.
They have whites irises, which change color according to mood. Only two colors mean the exact same thing for every vampire: red and black. Red indicates the need to feed, and black indicates sexual desire. Aside from the white irises, they can be identified by the flowing robes they wear. They do not have to eat, but they can if they wish to. They live off human blood but can stay alive drinking animal blood. Because drinking another's blood causes sexual arousal, it's taboo to drink from family members unless it's an emergency.
But the drinking of blood also plays into the most important event of all, finding one's fated mate. The blood of a vampire's fated mate tastes different, and both partners are dramatically affected by the exchange. A vampire's fated mate can be another vampire, a human, or a shifter. It can even be a demon if some human blood is in its lineage.
Human society on Valladora is very similar to our world in the 16th century, most humans working as farmers, craftsmen, or servants. Not all humans are happy with the feudal society the vampires rule, but uprisings and dissent aren't common. While some humans resent vampires, others are obsessed with them. Many humans long to be a vampire's mate, and sex with a vampire is always extremely erotic for a human if blood is exchanged. Once bitten, humans have to obey physical commands for a time. It wears off in an hour or two. This power was once greatly abused by vampires, but the present king, Jareth, has enacted many laws to protect humans from this.
Some humans resist the mate bond, and a vampire is not allowed to force a human to accept the bond. If a human rejects a vampire, there are laws to protect the human. Humans voluntarily donate blood, which is stored by the stewards serving the vampires. Mated vampires drink only from their mates, most of the time, and the stored blood is drunk by unmated vampires. The stewards keep careful records, and often fated mates are discovered when donated blood is traced back to a human.
For the most part, they consider themselves human and do not separate themselves from human society. There are many different kinds of shifters in Valladora: lycans, foxes, and leopards. Leopards come in all colors, but with fox shifters, red ones are common but white ones are rare. Dragons, tigers, and bears are supposed to be extinct because of the hunting both humans and vampires once did, but occasionally one of these types of shifters surfaces. Shifters have to be born--being bitten by a shifter does nothing. A child can usually shift if at least one parent was a halfling. Beyond that, the power usually doesn't emerge.
Lycans have their own society. They are rare because, unlike other shifters, they have difficulty reproducing. Other shifters mate with humans and vampires alike, but lycans can rarely produce even one healthy child from such a union. Almost all lycans live in the dominion of a vampire named Kyo, whose ancestor helped outlaw the hunting of lycans.
They have a shamanistic society, and their holy men and healers are one and the same. They believe in visions and fate, and they let their beliefs about the gods and destiny guide their lives more than any other group on Valladora. Every generation has a seer who shares visions with the clan, and these visions are rarely ignored.
Demons have their own realm, but they can come and go between it and Valladora by forming a bond with a human or vampire. Full-blooded demons do not possess souls and are almost all evil and depraved. Demon halflings do have souls and thus aren't touched by this evil, but they are typically treated badly because of ignorance and prejudice.
Demons feed off others in many ways, drawing out their energy or even drinking their blood. Over time, contact with a full-blooded demon can warp a human's mind and body. They can often use the blood of shifters and vampires to obtain special powers. Demons draw their power from one or more of four primal elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Each elements has its own characteristics and mix of powers. Men and women with demon blood are the only ones who can completely defeat a demon most of the time. Like vampires, they have extended lives.
Valladora is a polytheistic society. Their priests are celibate and live in temples. Priests can fight demons in some ways, but only people with demon blood are likely to completely defeat a demon. Seers aren't religious figures in the official sense, but they are seen as vessels to connect people to the gods. Those born in the year of the gods often make more offerings in temples because they believe the gods ordained their birth for a special purpose. This old belief is fading somewhat, but many born in that year of the zodiac are more religious.
Good and bad deeds can create "floating memories", which can invade people's dreams and even appear as visions to seers and others who are sensitive to the supernatural. Vampires and shifters are not considered supernatural beings in this world. Modern science and medicine explain their powers easily and logically. The Eternal Eye (which can be seen on the cover below within the zodiac circle) is a symbol of the watchfulness and omnipresence of the gods. However, many humans do not put much faith in the gods. Vampires are more likely to believe not only because the blood gland or second heart is said to be a gift from the gods but also because vampires who find their fated mates are usually so happy it inspires them to believe the gods actually handpick mates for vampires.
The only group that worships different gods are bear shifters, though most of their clans have died out. They were a close-knit, shamanistic society, like the lycans, and each clan was ruled by a council. Vaen is the primary bear god, and bears have fated mates just as vampires do. However, bears find their mates based on their scent.
Valladora has a seven year zodiac, which is where the name of each trilogy is drawn from. Each year has its own birth stone.
Hearts - aquamarine
Stars - diamond
Eyes - turquoise jewel
Moons - emerald
Gods - orange fire opal
Suns - yellow jewel
Blood - ruby
Each year contains 12 months, though these months are shorter than ours at only 21 days each. New Year is the most important event of each year, and the celebration typically lasts two weeks. Other than that, the only holidays are holy feast days and charitable festivals organized by vampires within their own dominions.
Many flowers and other items have special meanings in Valladora, the same as in our world.
Moon blossoms - eternal love
Tiger blossoms - fraternal affection
Red clover - love that can withstand any trial, based on a vampire legend
Alia's comets - perseverance (twin comets, the smaller one always just behind the larger one)
Sundrop vines - second chances
Lilacs - unrestrained passion
Purple opals - protection from demonic powers
Eternal Eye - A triangle with a swirl in the center, represents the gods' watchfulness and omnipresence
Foxglove - good luck
The Blood Clan
The Blood Clan is a band of gypsies who purposely breed with demons and don't mix with humans outside their clan without a reason. For centuries, they've hated vampires, but at present relations are improving. "Soul thief" is a derogatory word used for vampires by members of this clan. They are powerful and dangerous because all of them have demon blood and believe they're superior to everyone.
When a vampire finds its mate, two things happen. A huge celebration is planned and jewelry is commissioned for the couple. Vampires don't have weddings, but they publicly declare their mate bonds with a celebration that all are welcome to attend. They mark the mate bond with jewelry: necklaces, bracelets, or rings. The jewelry is ornamented with jewels marking the birth year of each person. They're also often decorated with either the vampire's family crest or a symbol that has special meaning for the couple.
Each vampire has only one fated mate, but many still find love and happiness if the mates dies or if the fated mate is never found. The present king and queen, Jareth and Julianna, are not fated mates. They both lost their mates to tragic accidents, and this mutual loss led to first friendship and then love when they united to help another vampire.
Tasting Cherry Blossoms
Saving His Mate
Needing His Demon
The Wolf's Mate
The Dragon's Lover
The Vampire's Kiss
His Reluctant Tiger
His Wild Wolf
His Defiant Leopard
Chasing His Mate
At His Mercy
Possessing His Demon
His Insatiable Bear
Desire and Duty
Bound and Bitten
Owen and the Beast
Catching His Fox