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Vampire in Rug
01-05-13, 05:06 AM
I thought this would be a fun topic, and it's one I havnt seen discussed before.

What do you think the pheudo-scientific reason is, in-universe, for why vampires turn to dust upon death?

What do you imagine a dusted vampire smells like?

What do you think the dust is made of, and what proporties do you think the dust has?

Do you think the dust from a normal staking/decapitation (not fire/sunlight) is hot/warm at all?

Does a severed limb/apendige somehow know to turn to dust after the rest of the vamp is killed?

How hard is it for a regluar person to punch through a vampire's chest with a stake? Is vampire flesh simpy non-resistant to wood?

Is there any health risk to accidentally breathing in vampire dust?




I know, dust is a pretty mundane thing to discuss. But it's the kind of pointlessness that I love. I've never seen any threads about vampire dust. I'm interested in learning what other people's personal canon about the dust is.

vampmogs
01-05-13, 06:48 AM
Well, typically the characters refer to vampires as "dusting" or being "dusted" but Kendra does say once that "when a vampire dies he leaves ashes" and that's how I've always chosen to look at it to. I like the symbolism behind the vampire turning to ash as the demon is killed. It feels appropriate that the body should disintegrate when no longer inhabited by a demon.

In Spike & Dru: Pretty Maids All In A Row vampire dust is said to smell like old spices and damp wood. I've always adopted that as my personal canon as I think it's a rather great description.

I have fanwanked that a vampire's body is particularly vulnerable to wood. Same for fire as we see some vampires burn up incredibly quickly (although this is clearly determined by the needs of the plot) and in Lonely Hearts Angel mentions that both he and the 'donkey demon' are particularly vulnerable to fire. He could of course just be referring to the fact that fire is one of the few things that can kill a vampire but I like to think they are built to have a particular weakness to it greater even than the average human.

In Intervention Anya mentions how she inhaled a lot of vampire dust and that it "can't be good" but we see no side effects so I assume she's ok. Still, since I think vampire dust is the same as human ashes I wouldn't exactly consider it "healthy" to inhale it.

Yosso
01-05-13, 11:04 AM
As Buffy adopts some Christian-based vampire mythology (the cross burning vamps, holy water etc), the dusting could be a reflection of "sacrilegious" cremation. According to Wikipedia (ever the fountain of all knowledge) most churches initially were opposed to cremation:

"For most of its history, the Roman Catholic Church had a ban against cremation. It was seen as the most sacrilegious act towards Christians and God, not simply blaspheming, but physically declaring a disbelief in the resurrection of the body."

This old-fashioned view of cremation fits well with the similarly old-fashioned view of having to fend off demons with the cross and holy water. Vampire dusting, or turning into ashes could be a reflection of the "sacrilegious" nature of vampires and vampire death, denying them resurrection again come the final judgement, just like how people used to believe cremation was sacrilegious.

I've recently been watching True Blood (spoilers in this paragraph if you're planning to watch it), so I've been comparing the two kind of vampire deaths presented in both shows. True Blood vampires don't dust, aren't affected by the cross or holy water - in essence they don't seem to have much biological link to the Christian faith in the same way that Jossverse vampires do. So I do think that Christianity may be a key part of the biological dusting process.

But maybe on a less religious note, a vampire is essentially a raised corpse, invulnerable to decomposing - something that could be viewed as quite unnatural. On a pseudo-scientific note, vampire dusting could be the body rapidly decomposing once the vampire 'essence' inside has been killed off, in order to sort of 'catch up' with nature.

All speculation and personal canon haha :)

I imagine vampire dust to be like cremated ashes, for the reasons I've mentioned above. Similarly, I think the dust is essentially just like ashes, a burnt corpse. I don't think it's warm, as vampires aren't warm blooded

I don't imagine it's extremely difficult for a regular person to punch through a vampire's chest to stake it. We see the Scoobies do it all the time. I think vampire flesh is just as resistant to wood as human flesh is.

KingofCretins
01-05-13, 08:26 PM
I tend to think of it as full decomposition of bone and tissue to dust, instantly, in a slingshot effect from whatever necrotic power the demon exerts to hold it all together and regenerate it. We often call it combustion or that imagery, but it isn't what I think is literally happening. They are disintegrating, falling apart, even faster than drinking from a false Grail. Think of all the times you have seen then unspool to where there are skull and spine left and those go poof last.

Vampire in Rug
01-05-13, 09:04 PM
Why/how do you think the Master left a skeleton behind?

I've always considered the "whoosh" noise when a vampire is dusted to be the sound of air filling the space where the vampire was previously. That's the X-Men explanation for Nightcralwer makes a "bamf" noise when he teleports.

Did anyone else have any ideas about what that noise was?

I agree with others that say that the dust/ash isn't hot. I think it would feel really weird to be in physical contact with a vampire the moment they dust.

Why do you think the clothing also dusts?

I think that the dust contains genetic info on the person/vampire, perhaps some of Darla's dust was collected to help with her resurection.

KingofCretins
01-05-13, 09:43 PM
Well, my theory clearly doesn't cover everything (or more likely, their mythology couldn't be arsed to have internal logic when it exists solely to avoid dealing with bodies).

I assume the Master's bones had petrified, basically, due to age, which works in my theory. The clothes thing... I got nuthin'. Add to that how stakes sometimes go with the vamp, how some inanimate objects do and don't.

I always thought of the sound as this sort of sighing, dissipation of the vampire demon as its host is destroyed.

Stoney
02-05-13, 04:45 PM
I always thought of it as an instant cremation effect (I wouldn't imagine warm but I do figure it would be gritty!), but it can't be the body doing a hyper speed decomposition to where it should have been because they 'dust' as fledglings out of the grave and they may have only been dead a day or so. In the comics... we see Severin drain the power from a zomp/vamp and manage to return them to their human corpse ...which would imply that the essence or demon that is being taken out in that situation actually inhabits the corpse and sustains it completely whilst in there and so it is something in the actual act of being slayed, whether it is through wood entering the heart, decapitation, fire or whatever, that undoes this 'animated suspension' into the 'dust' effect. But without knowing more about what is going on in that front in the comics yet, if we ever will, it is hard to work out a logic if we are incorporating this aspect too.

The Master was undergoing a 'change' due to his age in the way he was becoming bat-faced so I would just fanwank that the body becoming less vulnerable overall is part of this. So one of the first processes is that the skeleton remains and the vamp can be raised again from it.

Rihannon
03-05-13, 04:58 AM
I tend to think of it as full decomposition of bone and tissue to dust, instantly, in a slingshot effect from whatever necrotic power the demon exerts to hold it all together and regenerate it. We often call it combustion or that imagery, but it isn't what I think is literally happening. They are disintegrating, falling apart, even faster than drinking from a false Grail. Think of all the times you have seen then unspool to where there are skull and spine left and those go poof last.

This is what I always assumed as the official explanation in general vampire mythology. Of course, it wouldn't work with 'freshly made' vamps, what leads to what Stoney mentioned about Severin "draining" the demon and the possible relationship between the 'demon essence' and the fate of the physical body.

In the Buffyverse, I always accepted the dusting as a metaphor of the demon leaving the dead body, that really didn't exist 'per se' anymore. I always figured it was rather cold and not poisonous whatsoever, yet not recommendable if you have allergies. :D