“Needing a place to rear fledglings in safety, the Vampire Clans constructed underground compounds. Here newly sired soldiers could mature, away from the deadly effects of sunlight. One by one, Nosgoth’s major Human kingdoms fell – mortal soldiers slain in battle were dragged to these dark places beneath the ground, only to awaken with inhuman purpose, hungry for the blood of their former comrades.
As Nosgoth’s hinterlands also began to fall under Kain’s rule, these complexes expanded to become fortified subterranean cities. Prior to the construction of the smokestacks that would come to blot out the sun from the sky, these cities were used to house armouries, gladiator pits and hunting mazes, as well as storehouses full of plunder. Thousands of Human slaves laboured and died to build each cavernous metropolis.”
[from the Clan Razielim background blog]
While the existence and location of the majority of the original Vampire underground cities were known to the other Clans, others were kept secret within a Clan (although not from Kain himself of course). These latter locations were primarily those sites used for the safe creation of new Vampires and the pupation of existing ones to more evolved states, since both were vital to the continued survival of each Clan. Missions of espionage and even sabotage were carried out by every one of the Clans against the others, although any attempt to do serious harm to a Clan’s ‘birthing sites’ attracted swift and harsh punishment from Kain – there was only so far he would allow his children to squabble among themselves, and this would not include allowing them to endanger their race’s dominance of Nosgoth.
Once the hateful sun was obscured and Vampires freed to roam the surface of Nosgoth at will, these underground havens lessened in importance, and for some Clans became relics of a past existence which they had outgrown. Enslaved Humans now laboured to raise the Sanctuary of the Clans at the heart of Kain’s empire, and the territories around it were shared out at his whim among his Lieutenants. Human settlements were razed to the ground and new strongholds erected in their place, erasing Humanity’s history and mocking their defeat. Raziel in his pride ordered his Clan to abandon their buried cities and dwell above ground to display their mastery for all to see.
The fall from grace
Centuries passed, before Raziel’s blasphemous evolution led to Kain ordering his execution, and the world the Vampire Clans had come to take for granted began to fall apart. The Elders of the Razielim struggled to cope with this unprecedented situation – for some, the idea of a world without their patriarch was literally unthinkable and they fell into madness and despair. Others, more resilient, dared to contemplate the future of their leaderless Clan and, fearing the worst, took steps to ensure its survival. The almost forgotten underground cities of their past were key to their plan. Two Razielim with close ties to this past were instrumental in this: Lailah and Sarakiel. Lailah had been one of the last to abandon the greatest of the underground cities of the north where she had overseen the secret pupation vaults buried under the Erebus Mountains; Sarakiel was once prime custodian of the Eternal Shrine built above those vaults. Together they harangued and persuaded the others of their Clan to organize the covert evacuation of their pupating siblings back underground. Whether any such action could truly be hidden from Kain was something the Razielim barely dared to discuss even now – how could you hope to lie to a god?
Then Kain, emperor and god to his race, vanished from Nosgoth.
The Razielim were suddenly no longer the only Clan questioning what they knew of the world, and while the others contemplated what their future might bring the children of Raziel worked hard to safeguard their own. While Sarakiel began to have doubts, Lailah was adamant that the danger had if anything increased. However even her warnings were not enough to prepare the Razielim for the fate that awaited them at the hands of their erstwhile allies. Lailah herself was among the first to die. Travelling from the capital stronghold of the Razielim north towards the Erebus Mountains where she intended to take up her old role as matriarch of the blood-bringers to the newly evolved Razielim, Lailah’s convoy was set upon by a mixed force of Dumahim and Zephonim. As she saw the oncoming attackers, Lailah is said to have despaired not only for the Razielim but for the whole Vampire race. She swore with her dying breath that their actual destination had been Coorhagen, and the hidden vaults remained undiscovered by her interrogators. Her head was torn from her shoulders by the Zephonim commander Jehoel and kept as a trophy while her body was reduced to ashes.
As the armies of the other Clans invaded their territory on every side, the Razielim were swiftly overwhelmed. Sarakiel, one of the Elders who had already evolved his own wings, looked down on the burning corpses of his kin from the battlements of Raziel’s former capital. A flight of winged Elders took to the skies and beat for the north, but everywhere they passed over the combined armies of the other Clans seemed to already be waiting. Abandoning any hope of reaching their underground bolthole undetected, Sarakiel led his colleagues north east instead, into the inhospitable terrain of Dark Eden. Even here there was no respite however, with hostile Vampires, feral Humans, and ferocious ice storms combining to whittle down the numbers of the fleeing Razielim. Separated from each other, hungry and increasingly despairing, the last of the Elders died one by one. Sarakiel’s corpse was one of those never found, but the winged Elders were never seen again. As the Vampire Clans returned to the heartlands only to in time turn against each other, the Razielim were thought to be no more.
The changed world
In the darkness of the vaults under Erebus the pupating Razielim lay in their dreamless shifting sleep. They eventually emerged to a world which had changed almost as much as they had themselves, where Vampire Clans warred among themselves and, neglected and overlooked, Humans had become capable of fighting back for the first time in centuries. The surviving Razielim were no longer a blasphemy or liability, but instead a weapon which could be used in the war for control of the world. Soon the upstart Humans came to fear the sound of mighty wing-beats overhead, but it was precisely their effectiveness which was to lead to the Razielim facing a threat on their final home ground for the first time.
The Razielim, now serving as Sentinels in the combined armies of the Clans, had deliberately not attempted to re-occupy their most recent birthplace. As the only remaining intact part of their former glorious Clan territory it was too precious to bring to the attention of the upstart Humans and so risk destruction. The Razielim were deliberately vague about its precise location to the others of their own kind too, wary of the past even as they sought to prove their continued loyalty. Privately, their new leader Eskandor had his suspicions that the Zephonim for one had sent spies to seek it out, but in public he said nothing.
What was not in doubt was that Humans from Dark Eden had begun scouring the mountains separating their land from the Vampire stronghold that used to be the town of Coorhagen. This is where winged Vampires had first been spotted by the Watchers, and small bands of Scouts had since been searching for what they believed may be a stronghold of these enemies hidden in this harsh region. It was mere chance however that led them to find what they were seeking.
A trio of Watchers led by a veteran named Tychard were exploring one of the remote high valleys of the Erebus range when they were caught in one of its frequent avalanches. The others perished, but Tychard somehow survived. When he dug his way out of the suffocating snow, the Scout found himself gazing up at a cliff face swept almost clear of its previous blanket of snow, where a cave mouth was now visible. Tychard dragged his bruised and aching body up the slippery cliff, into the darkness of the cave, and along the tunnel that led inside the mountain. Daylight faded but new light – icy, blue, and flickering – came into sight ahead.
Tychard ventured no more than a few hundred feet into that eerie dead city, but that was long enough for him to be sure it was indeed deserted despite the sulphurous flames that still burned in sconces, and the un-melting blood-wax candles nestling at the feet of images of the Vampire lords carven into the walls or from the living rock. The air was still and cold but the city was untouched, preserved by who-knew-what black art of its former masters. Tychard made the sign of the lost sun over his heart, and crept back out into the suddenly welcoming freezing fresh air. When he returned, it was to guide an army hauling siege engines to crack open the mountain side and deny this remote fortress to the enemy. Unsurprisingly, such a movement of men and arms did not go unnoticed, and at the politely frantic urging of Eskandor the Clans dispatched their own raiding forces back into the mountains of Erebus.
The war for secrets
Now the enemies fight over the outer area known as the Fane, a district of temples and shrines dedicated to Raziel, the Clan Patriarch, and Kain the immortal god-emperor of the Vampire race. Close to one of the concealed entrances from the surface, the Fane was designed to impress new arrivals with the splendour of these mighty Vampire lords, as well as provide a first line of defence against potential attackers. Deeper in are the blood pens, the sorcerous labs, and storehouses of plunder, while hidden at its heart are the secret Vaults where the Sentinels were reborn. The Vampires battle to prevent the Humans plundering this site of lost knowledge, with the Razielim especially determined to eradicate their presence no matter what the cost. While the Humans may not realize its true significance, they can nevertheless sense the opportunity to take control of a valuable fortress, while the Prophets dream of the ancient secrets it could be hiding. The long-deserted city of the Razielim now echoes again with the screams of the dying.