The Laws of Caine
The First Tradition: Covenant
“Thy blood makes thee my brood, crafted in my image. My curse thine, my salvation thine. I stand before and above thee as god-regent. I am the way, my Traditions covenant. Renounce me and renounce all hope.” Thus spoke Caine.
The notion of covenant is central in understanding the Old Ways in the Dark Medieval. It is through the First Tradition in particular, and all the Traditions in general, that Cainites recognize Cain as monarch of the night and affirm their lineage as sublime beings, both cursed and blessed. Cainites look to the Old Ways and the covenant of Caine to aknowledge their spiritual link to Caine. Through the dictates of the Old Ways, Caine is present and not a figure of myth and legend. In adhering to the traditions, Cainites confirm their faith in Cain and their damned natures – for better or worse.
Those who abhor the curse look to the First Tradition in hopes of finding salvation, that in following Caine’s ways they will find redemption. In turn, those who seek power follow the covenant, believing in its hidden promise of power in return for faithful service. Princes and lords, like-wise, look to the First Tradition to legitimize their rule. Like mortal kings who rule through divine investiture, princes cite the First Tradition, and Caine’s covenant, as proof of their mandate to lead just as Caine “stands before and above” all Cainites.
The Second Tradition: Domain
“As I am master of Nod, thy domain is thine own concern. Thou art its master and all will respect this or suffer thy wrath. All will present themselves when entering, and thou shall protect them in turn. By right, thou art allowed to hunt within the bounds of thy domain, its blood thine own. Accept its responsibilities, minister thy domain and pay others the same respect thou expect.” Thus spoke Caine.
The Tradition of Domain has always been central to Cainites, and such is especially the case in these times of feudal relationships and vampiric overpopulation. For the last 200 years, Cainites of all ranks and clans have been desperately fighting over shrinking domains, reaching a murderous frenzy in the last few decades. Domain often denotes more than influence and protection, it grants the Caonite sole feeding rights within its boundaries. Claiming domain over a tavern means a near limitless supply of victims, while an isolated hamlet would be hard pressed to sustain more than a single vampire. A Cainite will not go without blood as long as she claims domain (regardless of its size) and she can protect it by keeping other Cainites out.
Holding a domain also requires the Cainite, be she prince or neonate, to offer hospitality to those vampires who enter and present themselves. While in the domain of another, a Cainite can expect to be treated with respect. The owner of the domain is responsible for the safety and well being of guests, and she must share her feeding grounds with them. However, guests who abuse their stay may face strict sanctions. Recently as tensions flare between princes and elders, a few have closed their domains to visitors, isolating themselves and sentencing any and all who enter their domain uninvited to Final Death.
Domain is also the feudal cornerstone of the rule of princes. In this age of Cainite lords and monarchs, domain as become of paramount importance. A prince extends his influence by aquiring more domains. Doing so allows her to grand portions of the conquered territories to her loyal vassals, further cementing her power and attracting more and more Cainites to her banner. Just as mortal regends claim ownership over their knights, some cainite lords have gone as far as to claim domain over individual cainites themselves and expect their vassals to supply them with tithes of blood and victims in return for their royal “patronage” or grants of domain.
The Third Tradition: Progeny
“Thou shalt only sire another with the permission and blessing of thine elder. To create is the providence of those closest to me, for they shall be accountable. Break this, and both thee and thy progeny shall be slain.” Thus spoke Caine.
According to the Third Tradition, only the eldest vampire can grant permission to sire a childe. However, for as long as most Cainites rember, the princes have held the privilege of the Third Tradition. The reason is simple – the need to control and limit the Cainite population in their domains. The more childer one’s subjects Embrace, the higher the demand for blood and the scarcer feeding grounds become, taxing a prince’s ability to provide for his vassals. Princes also hold dear the right to create progeny to limit their rivals’ ability to amass legions of newly sired vampires as shock troops. A prince can also promise permission under the Third Tradition as a gift to obtain favors from another Cainite, or as a reward for loyal service.
Those vampires who embrace without permission usually face the destruction of their childer and, if the offence is severe enough,themselves. Few princes waver on this point. In truth, the act of monitoring who is Embracing and who isn’t is impossible. It is often easy for a sire to send his childe away and keep her a secret until the time is right. Therefore any prince who wants to hold his fief needs to severely punish those who are caught. They must serve as an example, or the prince’s other subjects will begin to question his power and authority.
The Fourth Tradition: Accounting
“Those thou create are thine own blood until released from thy charge. Until that moment, their sins, their blood and their punishments are thine.” Thus spoke Caine.
A prince never grants lightly the right to create. Once hequeathed, the sire becomes solely responsible for her childer’s actions. This Tradition warns all Cainites to choose their progeny wisely. The Fourth Tradition requires the sire to both educate and protect her childe, the penalty of doing otherwise is simple – the sire pays for her childe’s indiscretions and crimes. Those who are wayward in their duties as sires, and who give their childer too free a reign, eventually face the ire and condemnation of their prince. Fearful of the consequences, some sires force their offspring to swear blood oaths. These oaths, which involve repeated drinking of the sire’s blood, make the childe into a supernaturally bound thrall, this guaranteeing loyalty. Most vampires bastain from this practice because it also tends to make the childe into a sycophant. The custom of the Fourth Tradition also requires the sire to present their childe to the prince for approval. The prince decides if the childe is worthy of joining the ranks of the Cainites as a neonate or if he should be destroyed. Many princes use this custom to keep their vassals in check – offering the right to Embrace, then destroying the childe citing improper tutelage.
The Fifth Tradition: Destruction
“Forbidden art thou to spill the blood of another of thy kind who is elder. This right belongs only to the closest to me and none other. It is forbidden for those of weaker blood to rise against their elders. This is my final covenant.” Thus spoke Caine.
Princes jealously uphold the Fight Tradition, using it as a buffer to keep their vassals in line and to remove any potential troublemakers. The right to desroy another Cainite is the final cornerstone of a prince’s authority. Not only can a prince sire freely and claim domain, he can also decide who meets Final Death. The prince can use the Fifth Tradition to punish any crime, no matter how trivial or minor it is under the Lextalionis – the Cainite version of biblical justice.
In the feudal climate of the Dark Medieval world, the right of a prince to destroy another Cainite is often conferred as a gift. Cainites of rank, such as the warmaster or sheriff, are usually granted charter of the Fifth Tradition to dispense the justice and enforce the prince’s rule. However, most princes are cautious when ordering the destruction of Cainites who are the vassals of another lord or prince. Although some princes do not hesitate, others who are more guarded send the offending Cainite back to her prince for punishment. If the accused is then not punished, this may be grounds for war.
The Sixth Tradition: The Silence of Blood
“Never shalt thou reveal thy true nature to those not of the blood. Doing so shall renounce thy claims to my covenant.” Thus spoke Caine.
Cainites may be supreme hunters, but being careless and alerting mortals to their true nature never bodes well for them. Vampires depend on a certain amount of secrecy and deception to keep their night time realm secure from the masses of formant mortals that surround them. Most medieval mortals know things stalk the night, but there are much less clear as to just how to deal with these things (other than avoiding them). Were humans to fully understand the weaknesses and customs of the race of Cainse, a greate purge would become possible.
Thereforce, princes enforce the Sixth Tradition in varying degrees. Some, especially princes of large cities, hold the Silence sacrosanct because they wish the mortals to delude themselves that walled cities are somehow safer than scattered hamlets. (In fact, the feeding is much easier with mortals all together in one place.) In other principalities, the Silence is paid lip service and largely ignored. There are places where Cainites boldly and openly attend mortal courts, ruling through terror and confident in their dominance. Unless they are secluded and miles away from other mortal settlements, however, such fiefdoms rarely last more than a few decades before they are put to the flame by the church or other Cainites. Generally, Cainites allow (even encourage) manifestations of their damnation that are likely to keep mortals fearful and cowed, and they ban those that are likely to bring organized resistance. Seeing the difference is the mark of a truly skilled prince.