Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
One of the less redeemable of Marusca's Brood, this coarse creature is almost as savage as their Hell Hound enemies.
A nightmarish creature that resembles a lurid caricature of a middle aged peasant woman. Her cruel brown eyes peer from hollow sockets, while her sharp, pointed nose, long drooping ear lobes and shaggy, thin, salt-and-pepper hair all seem oddly incongruous with each other. They marry together into a monstrous whole that glues your eyes to her awful countenance. Although she is large and round-shouldered, the monster is fleet of foot and strangely agile for her ungainly appearance. Her homespun dress, decorated with scroll-work and flowers, is in in excellent condition, once again oddly out of step with her ragged, horrid appearance.
Certainly the most crude of Prince Marusca’s Brood, Oana was quite similar to her enemies among the Hell Hounds in nearly all respects save one — her loyalty. Unlike her enemy, Marelle, the prince of Hermannstadt had little interest in compelling her followers to take the Blood Oath in order to enter her service. And yet, over the short period of their association, the Concord observed that Oana veritably worshipped her sire, seeing in Marusca some sort of unliving paragon of the Nosferatu. In service to that ideal, this somewhat unstable Leper warrior appeared to hang on ever word that her sire uttered, and she seemed to hold very dearly indeed Marusca’s ambition to protect and prosper the city in her own unique way. Even so, it was clear to a number of the Concord that something about Oana was more than a little… off.
One of Prince Marusca’s older progeny, Oana was long a mortal friend and retainer before being brought across. She is terse in the extreme regarding her origins and Embrace, but it is known that at the time of her mortal death she was a wise woman who lived simply and alone on the wooded slopes of the mountains overlooking the Olt. Oana says nothing as to whether she ever had husband or children, but despite decades walking the via bestiae and revelling in her Cainite nature, she still appears to be a deft hand with needle and thread, and she seemed to find the occupation of making children’s clothing singularly calming. Indeed, Oana often donates such garments to poor families or the parish, leaving them to be found by the doors of hovels or outside the narthex of the church. She also regularly mends the clothes of the Brood., and will go so far as to badger them for the ruins of their clothing so that she might attend them. Of all the Nosferatu of Hermannstadt, only Nicu spurned her attempts to properly garb him.
For some time, the savage Oana was something of a rogue among Marusca’s servants. Her chief value to her prince appears to have been that of bodyguard and companion. Too reckless to serve as a sheriff, too uneducated to stand as seneschal, and lacking the shrewd hunting skills of a good scourge, she fell into the role of being a one-woman brute squad backing up all three. Ultimately, Marusca released the neonate to find her own way on the fringes of the emerging margraviate, as the once-wise woman was never comfortable within the walls of the city. There she remained with her herbs, her needles and her cloth, hunting the herds of the Saxons and taking the life of the odd fool who crossed her path. She even Embraced several of her own progeny, Gertrude and Ulka, and taught them to live rough in the valleys and hills. They too chose the via bestiae, and the three of them plagued the borders of Făgăraș county for some years, revelling in their power and savagery.
Then the Sculptor of Wolves came.
They were the first to contend with the Tzimisce and her Hell Hounds, and they were the first to lose. By 1193, Oana and her progeny were forced to abandon their havens and flee to the city. They each turned to their more brutal temperaments to stand as defenders of their fellow Nosferatu and the people of Hermannstadt, but they were always outsiders even among their brothers and sisters of the Brood. They longed for the fresh air and the darkness beyond the walls, and the three of them often urged attack throughout the protracted conflict. More and more, they embraced their own Beasts with wanton abandon, often descending into frenzy on the battlefield and losing themselves to the thirst.
When her consanguineous brother, Nicu, was grievously wounded and driven into torpor in 1209, Oana lobbied her sire for his position, and it was given. She led the Brood in numerous assaults against the Hell Hounds that year, but what victories they had were hard won, carried only by the potency of their blood and their capacity to hit and fade using the arts of Obfuscate. Even so, the Brood, and Nicu’s people in particular, were gradually winnowed in number. It is likely that only the equally uninspired tactics of the enemy war-master, Ghenadie, staved off disaster in short order. However, her stratagems eventually became predictable to the canny bandit-lord, Corneliu, who organised an ambuscade of his own. The Brood fell for the trap, and only the selfless sacrifice of Ulka and Gertrude allowed Oana to escape.
Oana was clearly rattled by the experience, even several years later. She gave up the position of war-master to Gustavus, and returned to her former role of bodyguard, although her nervousness and instability made her a questionable guardian for Marusca. When the Concord made her acquaintance, they found Oana to be skittish and unpredictable, quite close to her Beast most of the time. In council, she vacillated between advocating an all-out assault on the Black Cave and then shrilly discounting sound advice from several parties on how to proceed.
On the fateful night itself, Oana seemed as likely to flee as fight, jumping at shadows and raking her claws along trees and rocks as they passed. She was close to frenzy well before the battle, baring her fangs hours before in anticipation of blood, and she led the way towards the Black Cave, goading the Brood forward with her hisses and growls. When the foot of the hill below Marelle’s cave was reached, and the sounds of the Hell Hounds emerging to do battle drifted through the benighted woods, the wide-eyed Nosferatu savage appeared to finally lose control. Letting loose a howl of challenge, she charged up the hill-side in ignorance of the carefully laid plans of both Brood and Concord.
As the latter coterie looked on in frustration, the former stood for a moment in shock as she disappeared into the night. Then, they took up her howl as their own Beasts stirred at the challenge, and the Brood charged on. They rushed to back up their brood-mate, and battle was joined with the Hell Hounds enjoying the advantage of higher ground. Oana was unlucky enough to run headlong into the powerful two-headed hell hound ghoul known as Cerberous, and she proved unequal to the task of bringing the mutated wolf down. After raking one of its eyes loose, she was caught in its jaws, and the beast mercilessly shook her back and forth, tearing her leg off at the knee and savaging her arm into uselessness. The distraction was enough for Nicu to get underneath Cerberous, and sink his own claws into its soft underbelly. Baying in agony, the hell hound flung Oana over its own flanks and towards other approaching Tzimisce and Gangrel enemies.
Barely conscious, and fully now in the throes of frenzy, Oana dragged herself towards Marelle, who was now arriving from the rear. In response, the koldun Vasilica called upon the Earth Ways to bury Oana in heaving earth, doing further devastating harm to the already grievously wounded Nosferatu. Almost contemptuously, Vasilica turned her attention elsewhere and left Oana in the teeth of her spell, and the Nosferatu did not manage to break loose throughout the remaining moments of the battle. There can be little doubt that Vasilica’s magics drove Oana into torpor, but were insufficient to give the fallen wise-woman the final death. Lacking the time or luxury to rescue her after victory was attained, the Brood and the Concord would leave Oana buried there as the werewolves closed in. Some nights later, when the wolves had departed, her brood-mates returned and reclaimed her broken body, taking it back to Hermannstadt for safe-keeping.
Given her feral nature, even for a walker on the via bestiae , it is probable that Oana will not rise for some years, or perhaps even decades, to come.
Lineage: Childe of Marusca, Childe of Zelios, Childe of Hannibal; of the lineage of the Hag, also known as Baba Yaga. As Marusca is known to claim the 8th generation, Nicu must be of the 9th.
Embrace: circa AD 1140.