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CHAPTER THREE
SUBCULTURE

Furthermore, the Nosferatu usually know at least the general locations of other vampires’ havens – and the proximity of those havens to water and gas mains. Many a vampire who annoyed a Nosferatu has awakened at noon to the sound of an explosion and the sight of her haven going up in flames.

Such tactics can even be used during a pitched battle. Particularly paranoid Nosferatu often wire explosives to the gas and water mains at certain preset points that are then designated with an alphabetical or numerical code. A fleeing Nosferatu, passing one of these points, calls out the appropriate code via radio to an ally who lies in wait with a detonator. When the pursuers pass by – BOOM! More primitive, but equally effective, are deadfalls, pits, prearranged cave-ins and other forms of mechanical traps.

The aforementioned fungus gardens provide another means of defense. Over the centuries, Nosferatu botanists have bred a variety of exotic and lethal plants. Certain Nosferatu fungi are exceedingly poisonous, and rumors of poisons lethal even to vampires have recently circulated among the Lasombra and Assamite clans.

Other, wilder rumors suggest the “watering” of plants with Nosferatu vitæ. The spore-spraying “ghoul mush-rooms,” carnivorous slime molds and other creatures allegedly thus germinated are generally discounted as fancy.

Direct assaults are not the only means by which the Nosferatu strike at their foes. The Nosferatu’s control of the sewers makes it ridiculously easy to transport and deposit incriminating items – blood-drained bodies, for instance – onto the territory of an enemy.

DEEPER AND DEEPER

But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating,
to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

      – Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach”

Despite their best efforts, the Nosferatu are running out of places to hide. In recent years, certain warrens have begun to delve away from the hated surface world entirely, carving

new tunnels into the very heart of the earth. Many Nosferatu, weary of centuries of loneliness and abuse, have begun to voice a “manifest destiny” sentiment toward the earth’s core.

After all, these Nosferatu argue, the surface holds nothing for the clan. Perhaps, beyond the deepest caverns, a Xanadu awaits. In recent years, this sentiment has been reinforced throughout the clan. Despite the protests of the more cautious Nosferatu, who warn of the sleeping Antediluvians, great expeditions into the deep are now being planned.

An apocryphal tale has spread through the ranks of the younger Nosferatu. This tale neatly reverses Dante’s Inferno, claiming that the surface world is in fact hell and all its dwellers are devils. In fact, all surface dwellers look like Nosferatu – they merely cloak their loathsomeness with clever illusions in a vain effort to delude themselves. By sloughing off their mortal form, the Nosferatu have accepted their true nature and in so doing seek to transcend it. The Nosferatu must now dig – dig through the purgatory of the underground to the center of the earth, where heaven awaits.

In their excavations, Nosferatu explorers have discovered many bizarre objects and entities. Some of these, the elder Nosferatu feel, should have stayed buried. The Nosferatu do not like to speak of Last Chance Warren in Colorado.

Its members, spurred by similarities between certain legends in the Book of Nod and descriptions of the fabled city of El Dorado, began an extensive foray into the heretofore unexplored cave systems beneath the Rockies. A lone Nosferatu stayed in the upper caves, keeping in touch with the rest of the warren via walkie-talkie. About 12 hours into the exploration, the warren excitedly reported findings of various carved structures – evidently buildings of some sort. The description was interrupted by a deafening roaring or grinding noise, peals of terrified screams, and crunching sounds. Then the walkie-talkie went dead save for static.

None of the members of Last Chance Warren ever returned to the surface, and a frantic rescue squad found the warren’s path into the depths blocked by an enormous cavein. The Nosferatu claim that the warren was destroyed in a landslide, but to this night, the lone survivor swears that no rockslide could have made the noises she overheard.

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