Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
Aimery de Versey
A smooth and unassuming Settite who masqueraded as a member of the Clan of Kings, this ancilla served his clan through his infiltration of the Crusader Ventrue. He was executed for his crimes in AD 1203.
Aimery de Versey wore his dark brown hair long- unusual given his soldierly bearing. His brown eyes revealed a keen intellect and great perception. He dressed simply, with a focus on casual taste and functionality over ostentation, but once he joined the Fourth Crusade he wore his coat of arms openly. In addition to an antique curved knife, in the final months of his unlife he took to bearing a sword and dagger.
The coat of arms of Aimery, Chevalier de Versey.
(Expanded from the character as presented in Bitter Crusade, pp. 80-81).
For more than fifty years, Aimery de Versey served the Levantine faction of elders and ancillae known as the Crusader Ventrue as their liaison with the Cainite powers of Venice. Putting himself across as a carefree soul, happy to serve his clan quietly within his meagre talents, he freely spoke of his past throughout the course of his inveterate networking. Of course, in the final nights of his unlife, his story was proven to be a lie, or at the least a melange of truth and deception.
To hear him tell it, he was born in AD 1076 to a French Norman noble family of wealth and influence. As a youth, he trained hard and became a knight and, when Pope Urban II called for a crusade to liberate the Holy Land, he left the family lands near Caen and joined the pilgrimage willingly- to see a wider world as much as for the love of Christ.
Aimery’s entry into the Jerusalem with the triumphant armies in AD 1099 opened his eyes, for the Week of Blood that followed brought countless atrocities down upon the captured city. Rivers of blood ran in the streets as helpless men, women and children- Muslim, Jew and even Christian, were brutalised, raped, robbed, and slaughtered. By his own guilty admission, the madness that gripped he and every other man who marched through the Zion Gate drove him to do those vile acts. It was as if an animal, a mad beast, had taken command of his body and he was a helpless witness to his crimes. His faith and self-respect were shattered when he came to his senses, and Sir Aimery stumbled from the Holy City and wandered the Levant as a lost vagrant for more than a year before he was found by the one who Embraced him.
Aimery spoke of Sir Robert de Calais with shining eyes. Grandchilde of one of the leaders of the Cainite expedition of the First Crusade, Sir Robert found him near Antioch and took Aimery under his wing. The Ventrue was a knight of little account, a poor scion of greater sires, and he was determined to prove himself in this newly liberated land of opportunity. He was a kind master and a goodly man, and he did not abuse the young, broken vagrant that Sir Aimery had become. Sir Robert only wished to know what had become of his lord: Sir Gavriel de Bougniac, Knight Companion of the Order of the Lilly, who had vanished during the Week of Blood. He soon Embraced the dispossessed Norman, seeing his quality, and the two returned to Jerusalem to try and pick up the trail where many before them had failed.
Sir Robert was assassinated on a desert road near Jerusalem by an Assamite less than a year after Sir Aimery’s Embrace. The fledgeling was not with him at the time, else he would have shared his sire’s fate. Since he was not yet released, he was not accepted by the Cainites of Jerusalem and was soon moved on. He wandered farther afield as a mercenary and guide for Cainite and mortal pilgrims, and eventually found himself in Egypt after a few decades. Determined to find a purpose with his life, and enchanted by that ancient land, he took to adventuring down the Nile and exploring the ruins of antiquity. After a while, he amassed a small fortune in “liberated” treasures, incurred the enmity of several Settites and Assamites (for differing reasons), and made a firm friend in the younger Ventrue Roland and his sire, Sir Udo of Kerak. The two Ventrue neonates shared a love of ancient Egypt, a foundation that existed right up until Sir Roland’s murder some five decades later.
Sir Aimery eventually tired of the conflict in the Holy Land, and retired to Venice to pursue mercantile activites with the contacts that he had made amongst the Narsene Lasombra. Sir Roland stayed on, and over the latter end of the 12th century the two built up their credentials amongst the Crusader Ventrue- one on a genesis of the pilgrim route, and the other at the destination, and both working with words, not swords, to get results. It was because of this connection that they were used by Lanzo-von-Sachsen as his subordinates during the Council of the Fourth Cainite Crusade. Together they ‘defanged’ the demagoguery of Tomasso Brexiano, and the destination of Egypt was all but assured.
Then, Sir Roland was murdered, and Sir Aimery survived an attempt on his own unlife a scant few days later. The Assamite Ziyad al-Djahiz drove Sir Aimery into torpor and would have finished him off but for the intervention of the Concord. In return, after his recovery, Sir Aimery readily offered his services for the remainder of the crusade, and he even took the cross himself for the first time in a century. Over the coming months he was a constant companion to the Saxon Gangrel Sir Gunthar, assisting him in networking and carousing among the other Cainite crusaders. His ready smile, roguish wit, and thoughtless generosity also disarmed the rest of the Gangrel’s coterie and their mortal followers. When the road of the Concord required them to take a harrowing winter journey back to Transylvania, Aimery was only too happy to step forward and offer his stewardship of their mortal followers on the pilgrimage. They trusted him, of course, for not only did he appear amiable and harmless (for a vampire) but he also owed the coterie a life boon.
This turned out to be a grievous error.
Within weeks, word returned to the camp at Zara that Gunthar of Sankt Wolfgang had perished in battle with Dalmatian rebels on a snowy cliff road in the Dinaric Alps. Gabriel, Bernerd, and Sherazhina were all struck by the grief of his loss and good Sir Aimery, of course, commiserated with them and promised to see to their welfare in their time of need. The Ventrue Paladin known as Martin of Toulon also agreed to take some responsibility for the youths, but in truth his duties to Guy of Provence kept him quite busy, while Aimery was very much at loose ends.
Unfortunately for the grieving youths, Aimery was lying. Now free from the potential repercussions of Gunthar’s vengeance, he elected to “free them from the ten commandments” by inducting them into the twisted worship of Typhon, a Greek aspect of the dark god, Set, that held both as pale reflections of Satan. In his own debased mind, the Typhonian heresy of the Children of Judas had made him strong and free to decide his own destiny free from morality, and now he wished to make his new charges just like himself. Over the following months of winter and on into the spring, Aimery used his Dominate discipline to force the three of them to demean and degrade themselves in all manner of ways, both with each other and with a multitude of others that he sought to corrupt through his influence in the crusader camp.
His depredations would break the minds of all three of the youths and do untold harm to the moral fortitude of the mortal soldiery of the Barons’ Crusade.
By the time that the Concord could return from Transylvania and take ship to rejoin the crusade in Corfu, it was April of 1203. Armed with Sister Maude’s empathy and Veceslav’s Aura Sight, they noticed that something was terribly amiss with their mortal friends. The Concord investigated quietly and quickly, and they soon discovered the truth of Aimery and his growing cult. The traitor fled, but he was out-classed by the wrathful coterie of battle-hardened vampires and quickly brought to heel. When they captured him, he simply shrugged, offered them an insouciant smile, and said, “well, you’ve got me.”
“Put to the question” by the insistence of Guy of Provence, he confessed all after his will to resist collapsed after five hours under the ministrations of Veceslav. Aimery was indeed a Follower of Set who had masqueraded as a Ventrue for decades. Further, unknown to the Hierophants of his own clan he was also a Typhonist heretic who had diverged from the pure faith of Set. In addition to contacts to other Typhonists throughout Italy, Friuli, and Dalmatia, he had links to the Children of Judas of Constantinople, though not so many as his murdered friend, Roland du Rochere, who actually was a true Ventrue that had betrayed his own clan to the Settites. And lastly, Aimery’s role on the crusade was to ensure that it found its way to Egypt where it would weaken the Ashirra and the Assamites in particular. The rest of it — the corruption of other crusaders and the degradation of the Concord’s mortal charges — was just to “keep him busy.”
He told them everything they needed to know, and a good deal that they didn’t. Among the stories that he willingly gave up was the tale of his own Becoming. The story of his mortal life up until the capture of Jerusalem was unchanged, for his faith and his self-respect were indeed destroyed by what he witnessed and perpetrated there. Obviously, however, his sire was not the late Ventrue Robert de Calais but instead the Settite elder Kadjadja, who taught the disillusioned Norman that Christianity was nothing but a sham, a mask of kindness used to hide man’s true nature as a ravening beast. Those who adhered blindly to God’s Commandments had already failed at the most important lessons that life had to teach: know your limits and know your heart. Morality imposed from on high doomed men to slavery, but Typhon offered liberation through degradation. Only when one found the bottom of their soul were they free to build themselves up in strength and truth. Delirious with pain and drooling madly through his broken teeth, the Settite claimed that he knew himself better than any of the fools who would consign him to the Final Death, and he was ready to meet it however they chose.
Every part of his existence as a vampire had been a complete, century-old fabrication designed to lull the Crusader Ventrue into clutching a serpent to its breast. And so they did, for many years.
And now the Concord had done the very same.
Disgusted, Guy delivered unto the prisoner the sentence of the Final Death for his crimes, and gave his new friend Veceslav (as leader of the Concord) the honour of carrying it out. Much athought, this the Tzimisce did with none of the expected cruelty or panache that the witnesses to the execution thought to see. Rather, he carried out the sentence with a single stroke of his sabre and wordlessly walked away from the headless, already mouldering corpse of Aimery de Versey.
Embrace: AD 1100.
Final Death: April 26th, AD 1203.
False Lineage: Aimery purported to be a Ventrue of the 9th generation. He claimed to be the childe of the Norman knight and crusader known as Sir Robert de Calais (d), who was the childe of the eminent knight and diplomat Sir Guillaume de Marseilles (d?), who was in turn the favoured childe of the noted elder Sir Gavriel de Bougniac (d?). All three of these Ventrue were prominent pilgrims of the First Cainite Crusade. Gavriel was the childe of Marius Romulus, who has resided in the city of Alexandria since the reign of Emperor Claudius. He in turn claimed descent from Nefer-Meri-Isis, a legendary childe of Ventrue who has wandered the African continent for thousands of years.
Actual Lineage: The only truth in Aimery’s lineage was his generation. In reality, he was a heretic of Typhon descended from a line of such. His sire was Kadjadja, a Settite elder active throughout the Principality of Antioch and the County of Tripoli. She in turn was the childe of Julius Gestinius (d?), a Roman Decadent who was active in Alexandria for more than four centuries before his disappearance during the rise of Islam. He was one of the oldest childer of Khay’tall (d), and an early adherent of the Typhonist heresy. Khay’tall was the childe of Nehsi. His further lineage is unclear, but the Concord is aware that Petronius speculated that Nehsi might be the childe of Heqaib, an ancient Hierophant of the clan known to be headstrong. Heqaib was the childe of Set.