In the Korean alternate history drama The Scholar who Walks the Night, there’s one completely unexplained artifact: the black robe passed down by the Guardian Hae-seo to Kim Sung-yeol as the (unwillingly recruited) new Guardian vampire. A subtly shimmering translucent black silk that allows a vampiric wearer to walk in sunlight without, y’know, crispifying into ashes.
We never get an explanation for how it exists. Gwi, the enemy vampire, didn’t even know about the robe until much later; he seems to have thought the old Guardian could just do that, walk in the sun when other vampires couldn’t. And unlike many similar plot devices in other stories, the black robe is neither threatened with destruction nor forever lost at a plot-critical moment.
But it is critical, from the very start of the show. Because while Kim Sung-yeol gets dragged into undeath kicking and screaming, including bloodlust and other odd vulnerabilities, he never loses one very basic connection with humanity.
He can walk in the sunlight. He can, if he chooses, keep the same diurnal schedule as every other normal human being.
This is a critically underrated detail. One I think a lot of modern viewers, used to artificial lighting 24/7, may miss. Human beings are vision-oriented. We need to see. Prior to modern lighting, when the sun went down, a lot of life stopped.
A vampire bound to the darkness would be cut off from the mainstream of human life. The only people they’d generally see and interact with would be those rich enough to have light sources and not drop into bed exhausted at the end of the day… or terrified ordinary people all too likely to start at the hint of anything supernatural. Not a good basis for keeping old human relationships going or building new ones.
Kim Sung-yeol gets to keep the light. He gets to keep interacting with normal people, every day, so long as he’s careful about it. He can have allies. Neighbors. Friends.
When you’re a bloodsucking vampire locked in a life-or-death struggle for the soul of your country for over 120 years with another vampire who’s got three centuries of experience on you, friends are important. Not just as allies; although his friends do end up being critical allies, absolutely vital to finally defeating Gwi. But because to keep fighting, Kim Sung-yeol needs hope. He needs someone to care about him. He needs people.
Heroes need light. They go into the darkness, they face the most awful evils – but they do it knowing there is light at the end.
When you write your story, make sure you have light.