We start with the vampire. His name is Daniel. Born a Dhamphir, Daniel was turned full vampire as soon as he could be. (Thanks to his aging at human rate, this was determined to be his 21st birthday.) While most vampire children age quickly, Daniel's growth was a bit more gradual, thanks to an accident in his youth stunting his accelerated growth. (In other words, instead of aging rapidly to adulthood, he aged like a normal human.)
He was tutored by Victor Zu, who happened to be his father's sire. His father died in the accident, leaving him in need of one. This means Victor is in human terms both a grandfather, foster-father, and private mentor. (Vampires' relations are sort-of difficult to relate to human equivalents.) He's about the same age as Richard, with them having grown up together.
Fighting-wise, he's just about Lord-level ability-wise, thanks to a transfusion he received when a child to save his life. (A result of the accident, yes.) Also, by having had the accident, by traveling during the day, and with him having undergone the black cave training as part of his ritualistic turning, not to mention feeding consistently from a SOLID source of blood, he's pretty tough.
His friend and traveling companion, Richard, is the descendant of the victor clan's first grandmaster. (I think adding names to the clans was one of the changes I made in the notes file not on the blog, so, uh, that you'll need to know. First clan, viper. Second, wasp. Third, gentlemen. Fourth, rose. Fifth, dragon. Sixth, guy. Seventh, victor. Gentlemen's rapiers for obvious reasons, fourth is rose because of symbolism, fifth is dragon for elitism, sixth is named after the clan founder, seventh is named after the friend of the clan founder.)
Unlike most blood masters (who mostly remain stationary, relatively), he travels across the world. As a result, I made the call that for pragmatic reasons, he's a gun-and-knife wielder rather than the fully-traditional bow-and-sword(katana) of the clan. (However, he has also been trained in bow-and-sword, having them available to summon.) This is actually considered an acceptable, albeit unusual, combination, as of the 1950s:
Most clans, if they were to decide to travel, aren't that suspicious. The vipers can easily. The wasps, not too much harder. They don't attract attention. The dragons' weapons are too small to attract attention, and while the guy clan's drill is certainly unusual, it doesn't actually draw attention. (People just kind-of filter it out.) But when it comes to the gentlemen, rose, and victor clans, they carry actual, very visible, weapons. Gentlemen generally only leave for special affairs and in such situations make sure they don't attract attention. Rose clan members always stick together, so they don't leave too much.
...But the victor clan actually has tradition in traveling. Before the victor clan's first grandmaster settled into the role, after all, he was a traveling warrior. So come modern days, and they are the clan most likely to venture out, yet also the clan with the most visible weaponry that is unusual, noticeable, and not exactly subtle and in many cases not even legal.
So that's why they allow for the substitution: guns preserve the intention and feeling of using a bow, while being generally more legal and more easily concealable. A combat knife, when applying blood to it, preserves the intention and feeling of a katana, while certainly being more legal and easily being more concealable. The clan, after all, has always been one of the most pragmatic clans, and while they have traditions, they're the most loose about enforcing them, ironically out of tradition. (Because the first grandmaster was notably not exactly a part of the tradition.)
There is another important blood master in their lives, though. Her name is Miranda, and she's a rival of equal strength to Richard. (Well, Richard's stronger slightly, but Miranda has much better technique...so if anything, she's better than he is, to his chagrin.) She owes this to her hybridized style of dragon and guy origin. Her parents were from each clan, and rather than choose one (as all other prior blood masters of mixed clans had done), she trained extensively in both, eventually crafting a customized dagger that allowed her to combine both clans' styles in her attacks.
She is therefore unique among blood masters in being the first person in blood master history to have ever combined two clans' styles. Richard's ancestor came close to that definition, as he was proficient in multiple styles. People other than him have done similarly in blood master history. Yet even he didn't actually hybridize styles. When he formed a clan of his own, he used his own style, not relying on the others at all.
This makes Miranda an abnormality, but while it's something new, it's not something she can exactly pass down easily to form another clan. (Realistically, rogue blood masters existing outside the seven clans hold a better chance of becoming an eighth clan than she ever could.) Like Richard, she travels a lot.
This stuff will only get a passing mention in-canon, though. Speaking of which, today, I wanted to explain a concept in the Rubyverse, soul severing, but to do that, first you need to know how souls work. Basically, souls are the primal, ethereal, essential core of a being. Everything alive has a soul--even things questionable: AIs do, golems of sufficiently advanced design (basically, magical AIs rather than tech-AIs) do, even undead do.
They exist outside the boundaries of space and time and plane, transcending all of existence. (A consequence of this is that, yes. Albeit extremely rare, it is possible for a soul to exist twice in the exact same time just in two different hosts.) They serve as a unifying force, bonding people together, creating life. But because they exist outside our understanding, they need an intermediary--the spirit.
The spirit is what passes to the afterlife that being is destined for, existing outside of space, but not time, and with a built-in transition between planes. As such, the spirit contains imprints of the mortal realm, making each spirit sharing a soul a different person: they're different, but linked.
Then, when it comes to our world, the spirit is separated into body and mind, here in the mortal realm. This link is flexible--death is cheap, with beings that never had a body/mind existing purely as spirits being able to manifest, and with people who have died able to come back, and for people not dead to be able to visit these planes, and so on and so forth. Basically, spirits can become flesh and blood, and minds/bodies can die and become their spirit form.
Important to note, though: The Mind Is not A Plaything Of The Body. Nor is the body entirely controlled by the mind. Both have some independence, yet hold a combined form of the spirit, which merges them. Spirits are thus the true "essence" of what we know as a person. It's what they are, who they are in their entirety.
But since the mortal realm may not necessarily reflect their full self, spirits can be different from bodies, and often are. An easy example would be the death of an old person; their spirit will retain their form from whatever they truly identify as, usually a younger self of some kind. Another example: any transwoman would be a woman in spirit, because while their body might not match, their spirit manifests in their mind.
So basically: souls are things that are very, very sacred. (Spirits are important, but risking them is merely risking your afterlife, akin to risking your life but moreso. Risking your soul is so much more than just you.) Things that endanger them are appropriately incredibly desperate and dangerous if self-inflicted (you're basically risking not just you, but every person your soul's ever been in or ever would be, a really, really big thing when you consider the length of time), or appropriately despicable/reviled if invoked.
(Incidentally, selling souls is something that nobody actually does. Bargains on souls, sure, but actual sales? It's hard enough for a demon to enforce a contract on a spirit, yet alone, an eternal soul. Even if they COULD, though, most demons wouldn't. They universally find the idea of damaging a soul despicable, and buying a soul they know always carries that risk of harm, which they do not want.)
So with that in mind, what is soul severing? Considered second only to soul destruction (even soul consumption/absorption is considered less-abhorrent, since the soul is almost always restored eventually), it is universally considered the cruelest thing that can happen to a soul. And in many ways, it's actually worse than soul destruction. Why?
...Because it's actually something that is outside the control of any force. As you might be able to infer from this exposition, soul severing disrupts the natural order of the soul. It permanently renders the soul cut off from the ethereal, essentially meaning each reincarnation has no ties to the previous, which creates broken, wrecked, and weak spirits. (They need that bond to their past spirits in order to get "proper formatting", so to speak.)
A secondary consequence of this process is that the soul severed can never use magic again, ever. This is so strong, beings that aren't strictly magical like vampires cannot turn them. They're completely unable to process magic, of any type, good or bad, whatsoever. While this does give them a limited form of anti-magic, they can never extend it to others; it is purely on their own body, and they can be indirectly affected by bad magic but not by good magic. Meaning that, basically, all the bad stuff of magic happens to them, yet none of the good.
The soul of a soul-severed person has essentially become trapped, its sense of transcendence permanently altered into a flawed, warped state. The spirits they reside in often live miserable lives, holding similarly-poor afterlives, unless special care is taken for them to be raised and nurtured back to health.
Basically, soul severing is considered the ultimate nightmare, full of suffering. (This is one reason it's arguably worse than destruction: souls destroyed can't feel the pain. Severed souls can.) A soul can never be more damaged than by being soul-severed. It is the one thing. It is the one and only thing about a soul that is truly irreversible, because this damage exists outside the control of powers.
Heck, even destroyed souls exist within the realm of controlled powers, but soul severing defies existence. Merging, splitting, birth, and destruction, all fates for a soul are considered more preferable. Destruction might be the worst fate a soul can have inflicted on it, but near-universally, there's a way to reverse that. (Think Chrono Trigger, for saving Chrono: difficult, but not impossible. He was utterly disintegrated, obliterated, erased from existence, but because he was important, it was possible to bring him back.)
That's because, though, the soul's destruction happens within known forces (even if said known forces are incomprehensible), all tied to the ethereal. Destroyed souls retain their connection to it, thus, by using it, they can theoretically be brought back...yet soul severing is absolutely, entirely, permanent. And in a world filled to the brim with exceptions, I use that word sparingly.
It does hold some rather large plot significance, as something that a 1,500-year-old necromancer warns Ruby of. (Basically, he's afraid that she might suffer it if she's not careful; he has very good reason to be afraid.) He's one of less than five people who knows souls intimately enough to know what he's talking about. (Lucy, as in, Lucifer, that Lucifer, is a second, and Saul the Seller, one of Ruby's rogues, is a third.)
Unrelated, but...If you're wondering about necromancy: it's actually pretty ethical when done right. It binds a soul to a body, which sounds bad, but the soul is asleep, used just as a conduit to grant life to the undead being resurrected. (Because Undeath Always Ends, and souls transcend the boundaries of time, this is absolutely harmless to the soul. It's something unnatural, but not abominable.) The main difference between these undead and living is that the necromancer creating the undead is the one to create the spirit, with the spirit not inheriting traits from the soul.
There's a bit more to it than that, but basically, the necromancer is artificially making an entity of their creation with a random soul yet with a spirit of their choosing, usually loyal. These undead can actually eventually develop: most if destroyed disappear into nothingness, their spirits having been artificial. However, undead that are of sufficient intelligence and/or age can, upon their death, maintain their spirit, coming to whatever afterlives are available to them. They can also develop their own soul, at which point the necromancer is forced to release them from control.
There is a slight risk of the undead with its artificial spirit bonding to the sleeping soul, essentially leaving the soul packing "extra baggage" that is likely not properly imprinted, but such cases are rare, and easily healed for the soul, given that the spirit would not mean harm.
It's still a taboo, of course, but it's not nearly as evil as its reputation suggests.