Elven House - The Thornfangs
House Thornfang is a drow House on Lothienye famous for being ruled by the same Matron since its founding eons ago. Their Matron is Zestra Thornfang, a wise and ancient vampire surprisingly well loved by her House.
Drow from Thornfang have eyes the color of mithril and occasionally hair that shines like silver.
A set of bared vampire teeth. The upper canines are wrapped in thorny vines.
Two large fang-shaped scars, one on either side of the face. The scars are created using thorns collected from nearby vines. These thorns are known for leaving horrific scars that never seem to heal completely.
Ruled By Vampires
Matron Zestra is not the only vampire with in Thornfang, but contrary to what many believe the vast majority of this House are not vampire spawn. Only a chosen few—mostly members of the Thornfang military— are purposely turned into vampires. Fifty other vampires call this elven House home. Of the fifty, only ten of them are true vampires. The nine true vampires not including Zestra are two of her four generals, two of her Consorts, and a specialized unit of paladins known as the Bloodmoon Knights.
The majority of the forty vampire spawn belong to Zestra. If they prove their loyalty to her over many centuries she will allow them to feed off her blood to become true vampires. Ten of the vampire spawn belonging to either one of her generals or the Bloodmoon Knights, who are are limited to two vampire spawn each.
Due to the many vampires with in this House the entire city runs according to a vampire’s schedule and is thus more active at night than during the day. Living underground this change is hardly noticeable.
An Undead Matron
How Zestra became a vampire is a long held secret only she herself knows. Regardless of how, she became one shortly before founding her House and assuming the title of Matron. Over the course of her long reign Zestra has led her House on many successful conquests in the Underdark. Because of this House Thornfang has one of the largest territories of any elven House, and Zestra is always looking for ways to expand. This is also why House Thornfang has the largest population of non-drow slaves of any other drow House. For centuries that population consisted mostly of duergar and dark gnomes, until the more recent addition of thousands of Cala’di from House Starglass.
Matron Zestra’s Circle of Consorts is a unique one with in drow society, for they are simply her favorite lovers of any gender. Being undead she is unable to have children anyways, rendering the normal function of the Consorts useless. This fact doesn’t seem to bother Zestra. She has never tried to find a way to circumvent this problem nor has she ever appointed anyone to be her successor. Her people fear what would become of their House if Zestra’s reign ever came to an end.
The Sacred War
House Thornfang is a member of the Coalition. In the early part of the Sacred War the Coalition came to them asking for assistance in taking out high elven House Starglass. In exchange, the drow were promised land and high elf slaves. House Thornfang jumped at the opportunity.
To their ire, the bulk of House Starglass lands went to the surface members of the Coalition, not them. On top of that, the majority of the casualties on their side were dark elves. Only in regards to new slaves did the Coalition hold up their end of the bargain. The majority of the enslaved members of Starglass went to them, with a small percentage taken by Sirisea. The whole ordeal left House Thornfang feeling cheated. But they are a patient lot. In time the perfect opportunity to strike will arise, and they will not hesitate to crush the Coalition for going back on their part of the deal.
The high elves now Cala’di to House Thornfang are highly prized commodities, with the most powerful ones sold to Thornfang nobility. The three captured Starglass generals were of particular interest to Zestra herself. To further insult Matron Shalana of House Starglass, and to use their military knowledge to her benefit, she turned every one of them into her vampire spawn.
A Heavily Guarded Secret
A couple decades prior to the Sacred War the Thornfangs, quite on accident, stumbled upon a discovery that could alter the landscape of history forever. The glass-like material crafted from Starglass meteorites completely blocks the harmful effects of sunlight. If made into a suit of armor and a pair of goggles a vampire wearing it can survive the daytime with out burning up. This quality was previously unknown, not even House Starglass was aware of this ability. No one outside of Thornfang knows of this secret, and even then only Zestra and some of her most trusted vampires have been told about it.
The Blood Tax
To keep the vampires and vampire spawn of the city happy Zestra created a feeding process called the Blood Tax. Every living member of the city has a duty to their Matron to allow her and the other vampires to drink from them on occasion. The Blood Tax ensures all the vampires are well fed but also drastically lowers the number of commoners who die from being fed on too often.
The Blood Tax is collected by a special unit of her military known as the Crimson Guard. They keep track of how often each living member of the House has been fed upon. When it is determined a person or a family needs to pay their Blood Tax the Crimson Guard personally goes to their home and alerts them of their payment. The guard then escorts them to whichever vampire or vampire spawn that needs blood. The guard already knows which vampires need to eat prior to collecting the families. After being fed upon the Crimson Guard takes the families back to their homes. Refusing to pay your Blood Tax when you are not one of the exemptions is a hefty crime. This happens very rarely however, since thanks to the Blood Tax each person is fed upon about once every year. Furthermore the bites don’t even hurt. If anything, the drow say the bites are a pleasurable experience.
Certain people are exempt from paying their Blood Tax. Drow children under the age of eighty are exempt due to the difficulty of determining how much blood can be taken with out killing them. The blood of sick individuals has a very unpleasant taste and feeding upon them would likely make them sicker or kill them. Similarly pregnant women do not have to pay their Blood Tax until they have given birth, since feeding could make the mother or the unborn child sick. Having these exemptions in place, as well as closely monitoring how often each person has been fed upon, has made commoners dying from feeding exceptionally rare.
All vampires can hear blood circulating in the veins of living people. They use this ability in a similar manner to the detect life spell. The hungrier and more blood starved a vampire gets the louder this sound becomes. When a vampire first awakens in undeath the sound of pumping blood is nearly overwhelming. With proper feeding this sense lessens to a manageable level but never goes away completely. After some trial and error the Thornfangs perfected a spell that mimics this ability. The spell is primarily used by their healers to find injured warriors on the battle field. The earlier versions of this spell were problematic. Non-vampire casters developed an uncontrollable blood lust for the duration of the spell. While quite unsuitable for their own clerics and healers, the Thornfangs found a way to put this older version to good use. It is quite an effective scare tactic to use against the opposition in war.
Vampire saliva is a potent pain killer and anti-coagulant and the Thornfangs found a way to separate these two traits and use them to heal the wounded.
Being ruled by vampires, many citizens of Thornfang have a natural affinity for blood magic. Anyone who desires to learn the ways blood magic can both hurt and heal attends Agarlok.
The Bloodmoon Knights
The Bloodmoon Knights are five extremely skilled vampire paladins. Their military standing is only outranked by Thornfang’s four generals. All five knights wear a special armor that magically extracts blood when touched or struck by an enemy in battle. The extracted blood is stored in a circular compartment embedded in their chest plates. The chamber’s surface is modeled to look like the moon’s. It is made of a material far stronger than glass that’s transparent to show off the blood sloshing around inside of it. The compartment can pop out of the armor and the blood with in consumed like a potion, or the knights can magically absorb the blood inside the chamber to heal themselves during battle. If the chamber isn’t set in the armor or has been broken the extracted blood still ends up in the spot where the chamber should be, then splatters all over the knight’s chest. Their armor is entirely black except during moments it is extracting blood. A spark of red light erupts at the point of contact between the armor and an attacking enemy. The light snakes its way to the chest compartment where the blood then appears. These red streaks of light look much like veins.
Each Bloodmoon Knight wields a powerful weapon unique to that particular knight.