Nosferatu, or "true vampires," are a separate species from humans altogether, just as alive as humans but utterly different in many respects. The creatures that humans refer to as “vampires” are often the “undead” variety, the type that used to be human themselves, but this sort have to be created by the Nosferatu, as described later. The Nosferatu are the more abundant kind, but they are far less studied by wizards, in the same way that formerly fully-human werewolves are better known and studied than "true werewolves," or Garou.
They reside in areas all around the world, in groups of about 50 to 100 individuals called clans, run by three to five elders of either gender. In Great Britain and Ireland, there are six main clans: the Nightshades of Northern England, the Darklings of London, the Weirds of Scotland, the Shadows of Wales, the Wormwoods of Western Ireland, and the Nightwings of Eastern Ireland. The clan name serves as a designation for each member of the clan, joining onto their given names the way a traditional "last name" might.
Nosferatu are, without deviation, extremely pale; only if they have just fed or if they are sunburned do they have any color in their skin. Their hair can be any of the natural colors, however, as well as occasionally silver before great age is reached. The eyes of the Nosferatu are rather odd in that they are, without exception, some version of hazel: bluish, greenish, and brownish varieties can be found, but there are no extreme eye colors and a hint of gold can always be found. Some eye colors, such as red or yellow, have been seen also, but these are rare and only seen on those who have changed them by magical means. A slight reddish tint can be seen in the eyes of any Nosferatu directly after they have eaten and for about a day afterward, however.
Nosferatu all have fangs, which are extremely sharp and slightly serrated on the tips, replacing what would be the canine teeth in humans, though slightly larger than most human's canines. They are hidden when the mouth is closed, but show easily if the Nosferatu smiles; for this reason, Nosferatu do not smile or even speak much around humans, in order to avoid having their fangs seen.
The heights of Nosferatu are comparable to those of humans, though the average height may be slightly higher. They tend to be a much slenderer build for their height than humans, however.
The senses of a Nosferatu are slightly keener than those of a human, though not so much that they stand out in all respects. Their sense of smell is probably the one sense that exceeds human capacity by a great deal, followed by eyesight; Nosferatu prefer to be nocturnal, and as such they have a much higher degree of "night vision." Their sense of hearing is only about equal to a keen-eared human, however, and their sense of touch is nearly identical. The sense of taste is improved, but this is mostly due to the improved smelling capacity.
The strength of a Nosferatu is usually greater than a comparable human, in that full-grown females of the species are at least twice as strong as human males and that male Nosferatu are stronger still. The main advantage that the Nosferatu would have against a human in battle, however, would be their speed and endurance: a Nosferatu, if it has just fed, can withstand nearly anything thrown at them (literally, in some cases), and they can move several times faster than even an exceptional human. If they have not recently fed, they will gradually get slower and weaker until even a human child could stop them... if they could avoid being bitten at that point.
The saliva of a Nosferatu has mild healing abilities. These are not nearly as strong as certain wizard-made potions and certainly not even comparable to the properties of phoenix tears, but Nosferatu saliva is capable of healing relatively small cuts and bruises. This ability allows them to feed and leave no trace that they did so, since the small cuts they make in order to feed will be healed by the time they are done.
Nosferatu are unusual in their aging process in that they all die at exactly the same age, 250 years. Their aging process up until that point is slower than that of humans, and once they reach maturity at around age 35, they do not age more until they are around 200 years old. This is likely what led to the myths of vampires being immortal, since even very old vampires of up to about 240 years do not show signs of being any more than the human age of 60. Only in their last ten years of life to they reach "advanced" old age in appearance.
It is possible to kill a Nosferatu in a variety of ways; while they are hard to catch and difficult to break once they are caught, they can still be killed with sheer brute force. The legends of staking vampires hold true for a Nosferatu, for if one can stab them in a vital area they will die if they cannot feed in time to keep from bleeding out. Also, they can be poisoned with any poison that has to travel through the blood to be effective; Hunters have taken advantage of this by poisoning either areas on their skin where they try to lure the Nosferatu to feed or by adding poison to other foods that they might consume. A Nosferatu cannot catch illnesses such as a cold, but any blood-borne illness can infect them. Some which may kill a human might not kill a Nosferatu, but likewise some that may be treatable for a human could be fatal for a Nosferatu. Also, some human recreational drugs are capable of causing illness or even death for Nosferatu.
Nosferatu have their own brand of magic that is more like that of house elves or goblins rather than wizards. This technique is referred to as "blood weaving," and requires blood, either that of the Nosferatu blood weaver himself or that of another being, in order to be performed; the type of spell determines whose blood is needed. Incantations are generally much longer than the spells that wizards use, but they can be used either verbally, non-verbally, or even in written form, using runes in the ancient language of the Nosferatu. All young Nosferatu are required to learn the basics of blood weaving, but only a few go on to master more than this. These individuals who devote their lives to the art are then specifically referred to as Blood Weavers and hold an important place in the clan, rather like the shamans or healers of some human tribes.
Blood Weavers will often specialize in some particular area, just as wizards do with their own magic. The blood weaving spells vary as widely as those performed by wizards: they can be used to heal and destroy, to create and control. There are, however, no blood spells such as what a wizard might use on a daily basis to clean house and other such mundane things. No Nosferatu has ever tried to create spells of this sort, since developing new spells is extremely difficult and often winds up killing or injuring the Weaver. Also, no Nosferatu spell can block a Wizarding spell; the Nosferatu must simply move out of the path of the spell, though this is possible since they are much faster than humans.
Some spells have crept into human legend, such as the ability of vampires to "control" humans. All Nosferatu possess the ability to produce a sort of "luring," which has always been used to help them compel humans from whom they are feeding to relax and submit to the feeder and does not require blood, as a blood weaving spell would. This power can be used, however, to control at other times, too, in a rather more complicated blood spell. This spell actually works in much the same way as the Imperius Curse, in that it can be resisted and in fact broken by strong-willed individuals. Nosferatu have never managed the transformation into animals, not even the way wizards can become Animagi, however, so the legends of "turning into bats" and such is false. It is common for Nosferatu to be able to use the control spell on animals, however, so that they can be used to scout or hunt for their masters, which might've given rise to such legends.
The Nosferatu, while not being as talented as the goblins, have their own methods of metalworking, imbuing their creations with blood spells to strengthen them and/or give them special abilities. Only the metalsmiths know these spells, passing them on in a family line without letting any outside that family to learn them. A Nosferatu sword, while perhaps not as powerful as a goblin-made one, will strike at its victim's very blood and bone, draining them of power with one strong blow, due to the spells within them. In more recent years, the carrying of swords isn't as common, but in the upper classes the practice still survives, and even the lower classes still usually carry a dagger of some sort, if nothing else than for the purpose of performing basic blood weaving.
Nosferatu only have to feed on fresh blood about once every three to five weeks (the way a large snake could go for weeks without eating), as long as they eat other things in between feedings. Going without feeding for longer than this results in the usual sorts of weakness that humans would experience, and if a Nosferatu does not eat within this timeframe, they will show many of the signs of starvation that humans might also show when hungry. This amount of time can be greatly shortened if a Nosferatu is injured or made ill; if injured, they will have to feed right away to avoid the loss of too much blood. However, the timeframe will not otherwise be shortened below the three week mark, due to the Nosferatu's idea that spending time around humans is more like hanging around with animals used for food, the way a human might think of beef cattle.
They are capable of eating human food, but they are quite snobby about it, not preferring the flavor; about the only thing they will truly tolerate and, in a few cases, even like is rare steak, though some also display an odd fondness for dark chocolate, though even they can't describe why. They can also consume frozen blood, such as that found at a blood bank, and Blood Pops to slow the need for fresh blood. They refer to human food and frozen blood/Blood Pops/other such things as Non-Blood and Quasi-Blood, respectively. The main thing to be considered on the subject of what they can eat, however, should more likely be what they are willing to eat: Nosferatu tend to be extremely choosy about their meals, disdaining most items and even being choosy about where their fresh blood comes from. Some of this is due to safety concerns – not wanting to feed from any human that might have a blood-borne illness or have consumed drugs, for instance – but for the most part it is pure snobbery.
For the most part, Nosferatu are also very picky about the method in which they feed. Even though the consider humans to be inferior, they consider them to be more like cows or chickens, animals that supply food and therefore deserve to be treated well. Brutalizing humans before, during, and/or after feeding is considered highly cruel and is shunned, just as if a human treated a cow cruelly before slaughtering it for meat. Generally, Nosferatu of modern day only feed from humans that are willing to offer their blood, though in the past humans were hunted for food the way a human might hunt rabbits.
A few highly radical groups exist that think the old way of feeding should be returned to, but the six main groups mentioned at the beginning of this description all hold to the more modern approach (though a group has split off from the Darklings that prefer the old way of feeding; they call themselves the Darkness and hunt humans for sport all across Great Britain and Ireland). On the other hand, another smattering of individuals, another highly radical one, thinks that feeding upon humans is vile, the way a human vegan would think about eating eggs, meat, or milk. These few try to subsist upon animal blood, but since it does not contain all of the nutrients Nosferatu need, these individuals are usually quite malnourished and wind up having to go back to human blood. They are usually shunned if they choose to feed on animal blood, usually not even allowed back into the clan even if they return to the "normal" ways of feeding.
Feeding occurs as follows: a Nosferatu uses its fangs to puncture a vein in the human they are feeding off of – the jugular is preferred, but other veins such as ones in the arm can be used – and then suck on the wound until it clots. Healing is helped by constantly running the tongue over the wounds while drinking, due to the mild healing ability of Nosferatu saliva explained previously; if a Nosferatu neglects this duty, they are considered to be in the same category as those that "mistreat their food" and are publicly insulted for it.
One meal for a Nosferatu is usually about a pint of blood – equivalent to the amount taken for Muggle blood drive donations – not enough to kill the human but enough to weaken them, usually. The Nosferatu measurement for the amount needed to be full is a "Fill," referring to the fact that one is generally full after consuming this amount, and in human measurements, even with the variation in size and strength of the Nosferatu, it always falls between one and two pints. An honor code has been created around this fact that should be mentioned: the so-called Honor Fill. Should any Nosferatu perform a task that helps or brings honor to their entire clan, they will be granted an Honor Fill, which is a chance to feed a Fill from one of their elders or the specific other person that they have helped. If an Honor Fill is not at least offered to them for such services, most Nosferatu will feel shamed and/or cheated.
One last fact about Nosferatu feeding should be included. There is a belief among them, usually considered just a superstition but sometimes taken to a religious or even cult-like level, that a Nosferatu will gain any powers or traits of the person from whom they get their Fill. This partly ties in with the Honor Fill, as it would seem to say that the reason one is being allowed to feed from ones elders is because you have earned a right to a bit of their power, but the idea has at some times in the past become a truly dangerous one. Entire wars have been fought and factions among the Nosferatu created for the chance to gain a few drops of blood from one particularly powerful individual.
Semi-vampires, called Leeches by the Nosferatu, are vampires that have been created from humans, and the process is actually much more difficult than human folklore would lead one to believe. In order for a vampire to be made, all of their blood must be sucked out by a Nosferatu and then replenished with the Nosferatu's own blood. Since Nosferatu only eat once every three weeks or so and even then only consume about a pint of blood if they have eaten other things in the meantime, they must completely fast for three months in order to be able to drink all of a human's blood at once. These three months are usually dedicated to teaching the human who wishes to become a vampire about what they will face, and a sort of pilgrimage is usually made, in which the Nosferatu adopts the human rather like a master takes an apprentice. At the end of the three months, the transference is performed in a very ritualistic manner.
In some cases, Nosferatu have enjoyed changing as many humans as they can into vampires, but this is generally frowned upon: since humans are looked down on, the practice is regarded by many as equivalent to playing with ones food. "Even humans wouldn't turn an apple into their pet," is a typical phrase that Nosferatu might say if asked about the subject. Individuals who enjoy the process of changing as many humans as they can are considered insane and are generally outcast. In some circumstances, they are even hunted by their own kind, especially if they fail to perform the three months ritual with their transformations.
Some Nosferatu who are more radical in that they consider humans to be equal or nearly so will seek out a human that wishes the change and grant it to them, but even these individuals are rare. As a result, there are not actually all that many formerly-human vampires, quite a disproportion to the human legends, in fact.
Leeches, since they, unlike Nosferatu, are "undead," can only eat fresh blood after the change and therefore must feed much more often and in greater quantity. This is likely what brought about the myth of voracious bloodsuckers that would attack indiscriminately, for at least several months after the change the new-made vampires are nearly animal-like, rabid in their need for blood. Their Nosferatu mentor is supposed to help them through this trial period, helping them to practice control and gain a sense of themselves again, but enough new-made vampires have been abandoned by their mentors that the legends have grown around them.
The main difference between the two types of vampires can be summarized thus. Leeches are the addicts of the group, unable to survive without their "fix" of blood for longer than a few days, even when they have gained a greater control over their cravings. For Nosferatu, the eating of blood is a way of life, to some extent a necessity but not nearly as much of one as it is for the Leeches, since they can consume and gain nutrients from other food. Leeches were alive and are now more dead than anything, but a Nosferatu is a truly living being, as alive as any human, Garou, Veela, or any other magical creature.
Leeches are capable of transforming humans into vampires, as well, but they only require a week-long fast to manage it. The three months training is still required, however. Should any Leech change over a human without performing the three months, they will be put under close surveillance by the Nosferatu, since by their laws Leeches are not technically allowed to make the change without informing their mentors. Should another change without the training be made by the same Leech, the surveillance will be tightened still further, and if a third occurs the Leech is immediately executed, along with all the humans it turned, as an example to the others of what happens when rules are broken.
The dislike of garlic has long been associated with vampires, and while it is true that Nosferatu do not like garlic, it is more because of a health concern than from a sheer hatred of the food. All Nosferatu without exception are highly allergic to the vegetable, much the way humans can be allergic to peanuts or other foods, all by ingestion and touch exposure but some so powerfully as to be effected by mere smell.
If a Nosferatu consumes the blood of a person who has eaten garlic, depending on how much they eat before catching on that garlic is present, they will either become very sick to their stomach, (experiencing the symptoms humans would associate with food poisoning), be bedridden due to extreme illness, or even die. Also, getting any part of a garlic bulb or clove on their skin will cause a Nosferatu to develop a raging rash that will swiftly cover their entire bodies. However, there is not a Nosferatu in existence that would willingly choose any of these exposures, and even holding a garlic clove out to one of them will cause the Nosferatu to step back hastily to avoid contact of any sort.
Another misconception about vampires is their apparent inability to go outside during the day. Whole myths have been written about how a vampire sleeps during the day and only comes out at night, and about how they will "burst into flame" if the sun touches them. While it is true that Nosferatu are more nocturnal than diurnal, the main reason that they prefer not to go outside during the day is a little more embarrassing for them, for it is not nearly so glamorous as bursting into flame. Due to their extremely pale skin, which lacks the ability to tan, they sunburn very easily and very badly, to the point of second- and third-degree burns, within minutes. If a Nosferatu remains in sunlight, uncovered, for more than five to ten minutes, it is entirely likely that they could be in critical condition or even die from the resulting burns.
Whole shops within Nosferatu clans have been devoted to the creation and selling of different types of sun-blocking lotions, potions, and spells. Some have been successful, and are sold throughout the world for the Nosferatu's use, though usually even the most effective sunblock wears off within thirty minutes or so; constant reapplication, therefore, is the norm when using them. Usually, however, the solution is just extra layers of clothing, added until not one inch of skin is showing.
It is possible for Nosferatu to mate with and bear children with humans and other humanoid species such as Veela, though usually inter-species marriage is discouraged. Just as it has been known to be with wizards, blood purity is very important to most Nosferatu, so those who associate with other species in such a way are looked down on. Also, since Nosferatu mating practices generally require the participants to consume large amounts of each others blood, most other species are not comfortable with the idea of marrying a Nosferatu.
Nosferatu and Garou have long been dire enemies, even going so far at some points in history as attempting to extinguish each other entirely. Some individuals and even whole clans have made friendships with individuals of the Garou, and even a few marriages have occurred, but these are always among highly radical individuals and/or clans: no "sane" Nosferatu would ever willingly associate with a Garou. Generally, they either avoid each other as much as possible or hunt each other until one side or the other has control over a certain area.
The Nosferatu do have a written language which they do not share lightly with humans and other species, but they tend to speak the language of the country in which they reside. Most modern Nosferatu do not know more than a few words or phrases in their original language that matches the written one, but some historians of the species do still speak it fluently. In fact, the main way in which the written language is carried on is through intricate tattoos, which is another common art among the Nosferatu. Most Nosferatu have at least one tattoo, usually of a symbol or phrase in the old language, but many, more than half, have two or more. Some dedicate themselves to covering their bodies in old language and other symbols, including ones to show their honors and power, much as some Muggles and wizards have done.