Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
An idealistic, generous and willful clan advocate of the Brujah, known for his desire to see his fellows spread further into Eastern Europe. He perished at the hands of Kordönül in AD 1212, sacrificing himself so that Helena might escape.
A middle-aged aristocrat of means, perhaps a judge or low-ranking noble. He was short and wiry, with the build of a student, but he wore sword and dagger at his side with practiced ease. There was a curious intensity to the man, as if of barely contained anger. His short black hair and beard were both dusted with grey, but he moved with the vitality and determination of a young man. There was a tendency for his hazel eyes to seem like they were boring through those that had the courage to meet them.
Dmitar was born in the Year of our Lord 1066, a member of the landed aristocracy of the land of Garestin, a border march in the west of the failing Kingdom of Croatia. Garestin was a troubled land, lying close to both the expanding Kingdom of Hungary and the March of Carinthia, and Lord Saronja was a warlord tasked by his king with holding the borders however he might. Little was expected of Dmitar for he was the 3rd son, and too small and puny to make a good warrior. However, even then the boy was possessed of a formidable will, and he was determined to better himself. Gifted with a sharp mind, he applied himself to learning as much as he could from his father’s limited library, and trained assiduously to hold his own in battle. In due course, his father would realise his potential, and used him as a diplomat with the foreigners at his doorstep. War constantly threatened, danger and intrigue were ubiquitous, and negotiators were needed to win battles of a different kind. In this role, young Dmitar would excel.
He would go on to serve the king in a similar manner, journeying as far as Veneto and Milan on this diplomatic mission or that. However, when Hungary and Croatia united, he was left at loose ends. He settled in Padua, a city to which he had always felt oddly drawn. Of course, the prince of Padua had been watching him, and had sounded out the diplomat’s ethics in a number of seemingly chance encounters over the years. Now that Dmitar was free of his official duties, Prince Teofilio offered the passionate idealist the Embrace, and Dmitar accepted. He would receive a round education in the history and ethos of his clan. The experience left him with a powerful sense of legacy and responsibility that would come to dominate his existence.
Dmitar spent more than a century serving the interests of the clan. First, he was Seneschal of Padua, then a diplomat of the allied Cainite princes of the Lombard League, and finally as a general advocate for the advancement of the clan into new regions further east. Always he was cognizant of the need to use his gifts and advantages for the benefit of humankind and the harmony between Cainite and kine, and wherever he travelled he put forward these beliefs in lively debates with others. His ideas were heavily influenced by, and influential to, the clan philosopher known as Ecaterina the Wise, an ancilla who has since become quite influential in the city of Prague. Another Cainite who was drawn to his words was his consanguineous nephew, Karsten von Hornburg, who would one night go on to rule Kronstadt. Another acquaintance from these travels was the Ravnos envoy known as Vassily Taltos, who became the Brujah’s fast friend after many late night conversations concerning the hopes and dreams of both Cainites.
In order to further his goals, he journeyed to the Brujah Banat of Timișoara to treat with the warlord Dominic on a number of occasions. There he urged the ancient Carthaginian to accept diplomatic overtures from the Ventrue and Lasombra, and work for the betterment of all in peace. Dominic enjoyed the verbal sparring, but was scornful of the notion that the Warlords and Magisters would ever make room for the Brujah in Eastern Europe. For him, the only way forward was through war and conquest; pursuits to which he was well suited. The tale of their debate spread, and lent considerable cache to Dmitar’s growing reputation.
When the Banat failed with Dominic’s disappearance in AD 1199, Dmitar started journeying more frequently to the East. The desperate straits that his fellow Brujah were in distressed him, and he often found himself acting as their advocate with numerous princes of the region, securing a number of them stable roles and domains as additions to existing Cainite courts. He would discover word of Karsten claiming the princedom of Kronstadt in AD 1208, and immediately made his way across Croatia, Hungary and Transylvania to treat with his cousin.
There he found the city uncomfortably full of vampires; servants of the Ventrue Lord Jürgen von Verden and warrior-monks of the Order of the Black Cross. While he enjoyed assisting his kinsman with advice and a sense of camaraderie, he decided instead to make his way to Szentgyörgy (Sankt Georgen to the Saxons), a relatively empty settlement some 20 miles away. Little more than a frontier town, marketplace and military way-station, the settlement was protected by a wooden palisade and peopled by the rough and uncouth Szekler merchants and craftsmen who had elected to try their hand at a more settled life, as well as a great many refugees taking shelter from the Cuman threat.
He was quickly greeted by the only other Cainite permanently resident in the town. The Ventrue Wiprecht von Lübben, a vassal of the great Árpád lord Vencel Rikard, had dwelt in the city for years, choosing to hide in plain sight rather than actively claim the domain. However, in AD 1211 Wiprecht had been forced to declare himself prince because of Jürgen von Verden’s belligerent claim of Lordship over the Burzenland. The younger Ventrue was furious at the development, as it forced him out into the open for the first time since his arrival in 1199. Nonetheless, the die had been cast and without his open claim on the domain, Rikard might have lost his grip on authority there altogether. The gambit had paid off, and Lord Jürgen had been forced to limit his plans for expansion.
Nonetheless, Wiprecht had quickly grown nervous with the understanding that the Cuman raids were growing closer to the town, as well as the concomitant realisation of the lack of numbers available to him to defend it. Sensing something of a kindred spirit, he invited the Brujah to stay for a while and assist him in strengthening the domain. Despite their clan differences, the two Cainites developed a cautious friendship based on pragmatic concerns and respect for each others competency. In the eighteen months they worked together, the two resident Cainites of Szentgyörgy were subtle and secretive, making use of their social skills and Disciplines to control the southern Szekler nobles and restore a measure of security to the domain. They resisted too much collaboration with the Eastern Lords and the Order of the Black Cross, but agreed to limited cooperation with the permission of Rikard.
Over the course of his stay in Szentgyörgy, Dmitar became aware of a Hungarian noblewoman, recently widowed, by the name of Helena Korosi. Rumour, confirmed by subtle inquiries, had it that her skill at management had brought her late husband much wealth and prosperity, and she was known for her strong will and compassionate views. Unfortunately, Helena was bedevilled by the custom of her time and place, for she was expected to remarry in order to keep her property and yet, she also had a daughter, Margit, of marriageable age. She could easily have one, but not the other. Over a number of months, Dmitar watched Helena from afar as the lady skillfully played off one suitor against another while entertaining options for her daughter as well. Still, it was obvious that her situation would have no happy outcome. He became entranced by her poise under pressure, and for the first time in his century of existence as a Cainite, felt a strong desire to sire. As Wiprecht owed him a substantial boon for his assistance, he approached the prince with the offer of adding a third Cainite to their ranks. The Ventrue was hesitant, conscious of the low numbers of mortals in the settlement and concerned over the lack of immediate utility of adding a mere fledgeling to their numbers.
The two Cainites reached an accord that permission to Embrace Helena would be granted to the Brujah, provided she could impress Prince Wiprecht with her potential on their first meeting. This she did, and at a soiree attended by some of the highest ranking Cainites in the region, Dmitar brought her across in the Summer of AD 1212. She would continue to be “alive” so far as the mortals of Szentgyörgy were concerned, so for the benefit of her reputation the two were married in a simple ceremony conducted by Brother Adalbert. At the same time Helena gave up her estate, Zoltan, for her daughter’s dowry to a wealthy young landowner, Sandor Maksa and moved into Dmitar’s house. Over the next year the two vampires were happy; the fledgeling was taught the exhilaration of the Hunt and the exigencies of the Blood, and also inculcated with her sire’s views of legacy and responsibility. All his many years of knowledge and experience he sought to pour into the sharp mind of his brilliant childe, and in return he simply delighted in her company.
It wouldn’t last. One night, while returning to the town after a visit to Zoltan, Dmitar and ‘Helena were ambushed by some Cuman vampires led by none other than Kordönül himself. The Brujah used Summons to inform Prince Wiprecht of the threat, and then they drove their horses hard, making for the walls of Szentgyorgy. Alas, it was soon apparent that they had no chance of outracing the hardy ghoul horses of the Cumans. It was obvious that Helena’s skittish mount was stumbling, so Dmitar told her to keep riding and then slipped off his own steed, turning to confront the Gangrel.
“Keep going! Don’t look back! Prince Wiprecht and his retainers ride hard to aid us! I’ll join you shortly!”
As she crested the hill, and saw the torches of the prince and his men on the next, Helena had time to wheel her horse and look for her sire. She saw him standing there, surrounded by several wounded wolves and many men on horseback. A Cuman warrior bearing a silver war-mask dismounted to face him, drawing a straight edged sword as he did so. Kordönül saluted the Brujah, and closed in. The dust and the press then obscured her vision and she rushed to bring Wiprecht and his soldiers closer. She was heartened to see Vassily and Adalbert with the prince. They quizzed her on the numbers, and it was soon clear to them that even reinforced, they were outmatched. To the horror of Helena, the pragmatic Wiprecht announced that he was disinclined to further aid his erstwhile Brujah ally.
“His sacrifice is pointless if we all go to our Final Death in a futile attempt to rescue him from his. I’m sorry.”
Vassily then had the idea of using his Chimerstry to conjure a wedge of charging Teutonic knights in all their glory. The phantasmal reinforcements charged forward with a thunderous shout, their hooves and war cries echoing across hill and wood. As they crested the rise where Helena had last spied her sire, they saw that Kordönül had already reformed his men, and they were withdrawing in small groups. In their wake, the prince’s party saw the remnants of Dmitar Saronja, his sword still clutched in his lifeless hand. The clever gambit of the Ravnos had been too little, too late. The Brujah was no more.
His legacy too, fell into disarray. Helena mourned her sire for just a week before Prince Wiprecht ruthlessly, if politely, evicted her from Szentgyörgy. The Ventrue inferred in his cool, pragmatic way that she required further training, and such was neither his responsibility nor his inclination. Instead, she would be sent to her consanguineous cousin, Prince Karsten of Kronstadt, to complete her education. In time, if she proves herself worthy of inheriting the mantle of Dmitar Saronja, she may yet return to her home and resume the role that he intended for her.
Lineage: Dmitar was of the 8th generation. His sire was Teofilo Camposampiero, the esteemed prince of Padua. Teofilo is very much a clan architect in a similar vein to both Dmitar and Karsten, having sired a handful of notables including Ladislaus, who ruled the city of Krainburg for centuries. Teofilo is renowned for the justice of his rule, but also his extreme vengefulness when wronged. He is the childe of Maximarius of Rijeka, who has ruled that city since Carolingian times but was resident there since before the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Maximarius is the childe of the mysterious elder Antonius Caracas, who is thought to make his lair somewhere in or around Naples.
Embrace: AD 1103.