Jyhad

Many vampires seek to have nothing to do with their kind, choosing instead to exist and hunt in solitude. However, the civilization of the undead is a manipulative and poisonous dance, and few vampires are left entirely untouched. Since the nights of antiquity, the Kindred have stmggled for supremacy, in an ancient and many-layered struggle known as the Jyhad. Leaders, cultures, nations and armies have all been pawns in the secret war, and vampiric conspiracies have influenced much (though by no means all) of human history. Few things are as they seem in the vampires' nocturnal world; a political coup, economic crash or social trend may be merely the surface manifestation veiling a centuries-old struggle. Vampire elders command from the shadows, manipulating mortals and other vampires alike - and the elders are often manipulated in turn. Indeed, most combatants may not even realize for whom they fight, or why.

Reputedly begun millennia ago, the Jyhad rages even today. Though skyscrapers take the place of castles, machine-guns and missiles replace swords and torches, and stock portfolios substitute for vaults of gold, the game remains the same. Kindred battles Kindred, clan battles clan, sect battles sect, as they have for eons. Vampiric feuds begun during the nights of Charlemagne play themselves out on the streets of New York City; an insult whispered in the court of the Sun King may find itself answered by a corporate takeover in Sao Paolo. The ever-swelling cities provide countless opportunities for feeding, powermongering - and war.

Increasingly, vampires speak of Gehenna - the long-prophesied night of apocalypse when the most ancient vampires, the mythical Antediluvians, will rise from their hidden lairs to devour all the younger vampires. This Gehenna, so the Kindred say, will presage the end of the world, as vampires and mortals alike are consumed in an inexorable tide of blood. Some vampires strive to prevent Gehenna, some fatalistically await it, and still others consider it a myth. Those who believe in Gehenna, however, say that the end time comes very soon - perhaps in a matter of years.

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