From the writings of Victoria Stone, noted Vampirologist (date unknown):
“The Succubus as we know her is a recent development. Though the term has existed in folklore since before the 15th century, modern historians now suspect that the legend began as a mythologized interpretation of straightforward vampiric activity which conflated the occult with sexual promiscuity. However, others believe that the Succubus was in fact a distinct class of vampire (possibly innovated by a matriarch known as Meridiana, a benefactor of Pope Sylvester II). If so, it is reasonable to assume that the original breed is extinct, their remnants either hunted into oblivion or voluntarily drifting into space, as ancient Strigoi were prone to do before the blood of Khazandra enabled them to mitigate the malaise of ages through the power of sleep. This theory suggests that the current generation of Succubi are not an unprecedented mutation, but rather the result of latent supernatural genes becoming triggered by magic, reviving a withered branch of the vampire family tree. In any case, the beginnings of the contemporary Succubus are, like many modern monsters, found in the Land of Miscellanea, Pennsylvania.
“The vampiress Michelle is a noteworthy fixture of the Pointed House. A local administrator, close confidante of Khazandra of the Eastern Lake, and a founding member of the residential vampire community, she is distinguished not only by her accomplishments but by her unique origins. For it is told that in the time before the dragons, before the Wooden Castle was even a castle, Lady Michelle was a mortal male who, for reasons which are unclear, pursued the supernatural (which was, as we know, far rarer and less amenable to human contact in those days). During the ascension of Khazandra he became a vampire and attacked the Tartan Wizard (again, for reasons which are unclear). He was overwhelmed by magic and transformed in a manner which suited the legendarily lascivious magician’s proclivities.
“The years that followed required adaptation and discipline. Though unhappy with her forced transition, she ultimately saw fit to identify as a woman and renamed herself Michelle. She became one of the first students of Rebecca Lochtern’s incipient moral reeducation program, now a core facet of standard vampiric adjustment therapy. But Michelle’s orientation was complicated by changes to her undead condition which surpassed the more obvious consequences of her visible transformation.
“Her body temperature had risen. She felt frail, significantly weaker than the average vampire (though still stronger than the average human), but also more acutely aware of physical stimulus. Her skin was sensitive to an erogenous degree. Her libido was abnormally active. Even her hair was oddly voluptuous, and attempts at barbering caused it to grow back more fully and stubbornly than before. But the most remarkable trait of her altered biology was only revealed when she begat her own progeny.
“The changing of humans into monsters has always been strictly regulated under Khazandra’s law, and the identities of those involved are closely guarded whenever discretion is desirable. But we now gather that roughly twenty years after Michelle’s conversion she resumed contact with a former acquaintance who expressed interest in becoming a vampire (possibly after being seduced by Michelle, who must by then have felt the ingrained urge to tempt mortal prey that would become a trademark of the Succubus). Whatever the reason, Michelle petitioned Khazandra for approval and proceeded to grant the man’s request.
“But the man did not remain a man. A metamorphosis took place within Michelle’s penetralia. Her scion was entirely reconfigured and disgorged with a woman’s body, with each of Michelle’s biological peculiarities. It became clear that a new (or resurgent) species of vampire had come into being, one which may induct either men or women into its ranks, but always converting the former into the latter.
“Still, while this aspect of the condition is noteworthy, it is also easily overstated. Rumors that all Succubi are transexual are false (or quickly became false as new Succubi were made by Lady Dame, Michelle’s first and only offspring). Though exact statistics are currently impossible to attain, it is estimated that only a small percentage of their population has experienced this transition, and it is rare for Succubi to be sought out for such a purpose. Certainly, most people who desire to change their body’s gender in this day and age would simply hire wizards to perform surgical sorcery rather than submit themselves to the unpredictable nature of the Succubus transformation (and the rigorous coursework currently in place to test prospective vampires).
“Unlike the Strigoi, whose outward appearance is mostly unchanged during the transition from mortal to immortal, there is always a pronounced physical alteration during the incubation of a Succubus. Even those who were originally biologically female experience extensive adjustments which enhance secondary sexual characteristics and eliminate any blemish which may interfere with conventional notions of beauty, presumably informed by subconscious standards gleaned from the psyche of either the ‘mother’ or the ‘daughter’.
“If the former takes precedence over the latter it may contribute to the general fact that domestic ties amongst the Succubi are comparably stronger than in other vampire ‘families’. Since their inception their population has grown into a small but cohesive clan with their own standards and practices. They are generally governed by Lady Dame, who leads the clique in civil matters and is often mistaken for their Eldest by outside observers and younger Succubi, a misconception which she tacitly encourages. They are visually distinguished by their noticeably conservative mode of dress. Some have said that the archaic clothing is meant to defy preconceived notions regarding the wanton reputation of their namesake, while others claim that they merely enjoy the ’schoolmarm motif’ for its distinctive communal aesthetic. Still others admit that their concealing gowns are worn to facilitate a more refined method of titillation.
“Succubi are highly disciplined, but also every bit as lascivious as the legends suggest. They pride themselves not only on their decorum but on their carnal gifts, potent enough to rival the bawdy Vorpal Pook. But while the Sharp-Toothed Rabbits tend to celebrate their sexuality with wild abandon, the Succubi eschew such displays to instead embody the sensuality of withholding gratification. Their power lies in a talent for dominating their prey with unspoken promises delivered through a thousand subtle signals, patient strategies which come naturally to their specialized instincts. While blood remains a staple of their diet, it is the psychic connection formed through the obsession of their victims that truly invigorates these vampires, rather than the actual act of sex. In fact it is quite rare for anyone (besides other Succubi) to successfully achieve intercourse with a Succubus, though the journey is always a harrowing erotic adventure.
“Naturally, this is not to say that all Succubi are evil, any more than all monsters or humans are evil. They are often straightforward in stating their intentions when approaching a person of interest, although they do make an art out of omitting certain details, and their talent for inducing curiosity borders on the hypnotic. But such effort is not always required, as they fill a niche which other people are anxious to take advantage of (though Succubi commonly state that they gain greater pleasure from exercising their talents on those who do not seek them out). They are the ultimate dominatrixes, and many of their former victims have expressed gratitude for their experiences in spite of the ordeal. Others, naturally, do not.
“Michelle, for her part, prefers not to take an active role in their society. She has declined to comment on her status as the progenitor of a new race of vampire, and rarely shows pride in her accomplishment. The dispassionate and collected demeanor of the Succubus is an affectation which they initially adopted in imitation of their aloof founder, who demonstrates no amusement with the games her daughters play with mortals. But the masters and mistresses of each brand of vampire are classically expected to be the pinnacle of their breed, and the Succubi who acknowledge her as their true Eldest whisper amongst themselves that their mater’s humorless poise is merely part of a grand maneuver spanning years, a sustained performance designed to seduce Khazandra herself.
“Or perhaps Michelle is simply repulsed by her legacy. While the opportunity to study the primogenitor of a burgeoning strain has rarely presented itself, some vampirologists have speculated that when a new species of vampire is created their development is influenced by traces of dishonor which echo from their point of origin, making them a lasting punishment in the eyes of their maker.
“Do the Succubi offend Michelle? Do they remind her of old sins? It may very well be that she is disgusted with what she has made, a lineage which thrives on manipulation. Research into this rare example of the first vampire of a kind will continue, but as is often the case, the truth is shrouded by the privacy so jealously guarded by politicians, celebrities, and monsters of all persuasions.
“Incidentally, the question of whether or not it is possible to create a masculine equivalent of the Succubus, an ‘Incubus’, is an intriguing but currently entirely hypothetical avenue of discussion. Khazandra herself has expressly forbidden any such experimentation, even going so far as to decree that the term is never to be uttered in her presence.”
Note: Oh, man. This started as a writeup for a sketch of Michelle (formerly Mike), and it just kept growing into a big old chunk of world building! I didn’t even originally plan for her to be a Succubus, it was just a passing thought that made more and more sense. I ditched the sketch and drew a portrait and then drew some more and thought some more and wrote some more and the whole deal snowballed into a bestiary. This might become a new thing, these files from the Stone Society, painting a picture of the age that Zebra Girl grew into. I think there’ll be more!
Though I’m feeling a little cautious about posting this, since my handling of Mike/Michelle’s condition has been a bit of a sensitive subject for some people. So let me just assure everyone that none of this is meant to be an indictment or commentary on the transexual condition. Michelle’s choices and feelings are not intended to be emblematic in any negative fashion. In the future world glimpsed in Zebra Girl’s final pages there are many resources which allow people to pursue their needs in matters of physical identity, and their choices are widely accepted. It’s a world I’d like to live in. Which, I guess, is why I’ve been building it.
In addition to the lore, this was a great opportunity for me to practice using those Prismacolor pens. I’ve been relying more on traditional crosshatching since the comic ended, but I don’t want to stop using the grey tones. Just wish the damn things weren’t so expensive! But it’s good to know I’ve still got the touch.
And this really was fun. I never expected to get so deep with a writeup of Michelle’s condition! Wish I’d had this done in time for Valentine’s Day. But there was always more to do! I kept coming up with stuff to add. I’ve been giving them names… can you guess who’s who? There’s Lady Rose, Lady Dame, Lady Lock and Lady Key….
Of course, I’m still trying to keep my eye on making my Omnibus, but it’s impossible to resist the muse when it hits (and it tends to sucker punch). It’s part of being an artist, and I could say that just drawing and writing has provided a lot of needed distraction! On that note, I’d like to thank all of you who offered kind words regarding the recent trials I mentioned earlier. I’m alright, my Mom and Dad are both strong, capable people, and I think we’re getting through all of these ailments very well. I’m proud of them both, and I’m glad that we have the support of people like you, in whatever form it takes. I’m glad to know you!