Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
Gauthier de Dampiere
A fanatical vampire hunter, knight, and crusader, Gauthier is aware of and battling the dark forces that bedevil humanity. He has organised a cadre of like-minded knights, priests and soldiers to assist him in his holy mission.
When he was encountered throughout the Fourth Crusade, Gauthier of Dampierre was already a middle-aged Frankish knight of medium height and a strong, athletic build. He was fairly plain looking, with a high forehead, a strong jaw, and dark hair that was swiftly succumbing to grey. He kept his hair very short; cut in a functional, military style to interfere less with his helmet. The knight’s eyes were likewise dark, but they possessed a lively, darting quality that drew the eye and told of a deeply fanatical nature. He dressed simply in the garb of a poor knight in the service of Christ, and his drab surcoat displayed no device other than a large russet cross on the chest. Strangely, in addition to a plain, functional dagger he favoured the weapon of the enemy, for a curved Damascene sword, clearly of great craftsmanship, rested at his belt.
Although none of the Concord have yet seen Brother Gauthier on the Fifth Crusade, the old hunter must now be close to sixty years of age. Ramir de Cavaillon, the Provençal vampire who spotted him from afar, reported that the Templar now had long, iron grey hair, that he was a little thicker about the trunk than in years past, and that he moved a touch stiffly despite his still impressive physique. However, the aura of dangerous True Faith along with his weapon and his maimed left hand left no doubt in the Toreador’s mind as to Gauthier’s identity.
The uniform coat of arms of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Knights Templar.
(Expanded from the character as presented in Bitter Crusade, Under a Black Cross, Dark Ages Clan Novel: Settite, Dark Ages Clan Novel: Ravnos, and Dark Ages Clan Novel: Malkavian).
Gauthier represents what the more cautious Cainites truly fear: a resourceful mortal, driven by True Faith, with a knowledge of the Children of Caine, the will to fight, and a capacity to draw others to his cause. It is certainly true that he is a fanatic (and likely more than a little mad), and seemingly unconcerned with the repercussions of his actions so long as he follows the plan that God has set for him.
Little is known of his background or motivations, although Bernhard mentioned that his name identified him as belonging to one of three families that are prominent (and wealthy) in the lands of eastern France. One of these families rules as the counts of Dampierre-en-Astenois, a border march between the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire. As the lords of Dampierre-sur-l’Aube, the next line are important vassals of the count of Champagne and a noted crusading family with links to the Knights Templar. The last family are the lords of Dampierre-sur-Salon, serving as prominent vassals of the counts of d’Atuyer and through them the dukes of Burgundy. Lord Richard II and his uncles, Renaud and Guy, were crusading pilgrims of the Fourth Crusade who deserted the army before the Siege of Zara. Notables among the pilgrims before their leave-taking, with their strong jaws and severe features it could be said that they bore something of a resemblance to Gauthier. When first encountered at Venice and Zara and many years later near the city of Acre in the Holy Land, he wore the simple surcoat of a penitent knight that seemed reminiscent of the Templars. If he belongs to the first family, it is odd that he would throw it all away to become a simple penitent knight, but if either of the latter, his vocation would make a good deal of sense. Obviously, none of the Concord were fool enough to look too closely into the puissant hunter’s background.
Brother Gauthier was first observed by the Concord in Venice, preaching on a street corner to a mass of natives and pilgrims. He exhorted them in broken Italian to “recognise the evil in their midst”, to seek out those monsters and to smite them “as Judas Machabeus did to the Greeks.” Amongst the crowd was none other than Roderigue de Navarre, although the nobleman made no move to approach the Templar. Gauthier’s rant ended with a passionate plea for those gathered to “go forth and destroy evil wherever you find it!”
Naturally, the crowd turned into an ugly mob that attacked anything and everything that they felt threatened them. Jews, foreigners, vagrants, and even some of their own number fell prey to the mob that night.
He was seen again at Zara, this time in company with a number of other knights, priests, monks, and common soldiers. During the sack of the city, this company attacked the Obertus Monastery, slaying all the Cainites and their servants within and putting the abbey to the torch. At least four Tzimisce were destroyed in the attack, including Farkas Toth, which directly caused the attacks by his father Bodor and his sister Erzebet that almost completely derailed the Fourth Crusade altogether.
During the second Venetian sack of the city months later, it would appear that Brother Gauthier and his cohorts were also responsible for the destruction of Gari, the mad prince Zara. Several among the Concord speculated that the mortals may have been manipulated by the Narsene Lasombra in that matter, but as the leader behind the slaying of no fewer than five vampires in just a few months, the Cainite Crusade marked him as someone to be avoided at all costs.
The Concord next encountered Gauthier on the first night of the Great Sack of Constantinople. As they sought to make their way into the Monastery of St. John Studius, they found the fanatical knight and his Templar and Hospitaller allies fighting several members of the Sodalicium of Swords. Ironically, the hunters had interrupted the Tremere while they were setting fire to the monastery, but after the Warlocks fled the knights continued the work of putting the buildings to the torch. As they did so, the mortals spotted the Concord and attacked them too. Brother Adalbert struck at Gauthier with his Dread Gaze, only to find it utterly ineffective against the power of the penitent knight’s Truth Faith. The mortal spat on the ground, then eyed the vampire monk with disgust before pointing his sword at the abomination and charging at him. Naturally, the wise Ventrue fled before the dangerous, fanatical hunter.
The next night, the Concord saw Gauthier and his hunters once more, this time near the Great Palace. They had cornered the ravening, furious Basileus Caius of the Antonians, and the coterie had the dubious distinction of watching them destroy the indignant elder. Before Gauthier finished Caius, the vicious old Ventrue did manage to bite several of the fingers from the dreaded hunter’s left hand.
After the Great Sack, he was not encountered again in Constantinople, but the notoriety of the hunter only continued to grow in the years to come. It is known that he was active throughout the Albigensian Crusade, hunting the undead throughout the Languedoc, Provence, and as far to the east and north as Savoy and the Dauphiné. Throughout courts as far afield as the Latin Empire and the Kingdom of England, rumour circulated of a Truly Faithful Templar bearing a Saracen sword, who was hunting the Children of Caine beneath the fog of war throughout southern France. Further, word had it that he had found many brothers of like mind across the organisational boundaries of the other Military Orders, and that monks wearing red robes had been spotted hunting in company with him as well. The only consolation to the news of his hunts was the understanding that Gauthier had discovered subtlety, perhaps hoping to avoid creating panic among the mortals.
In November of 1217, Gauthier of Dampierre was spotted among the ranks of the Fifth Crusade armies gathering outside the city of Acre. Such is his reputation that as word circulated among the Cainite Crusade, even the most cavalier and brutish of the undead resolved to exercise more subtlety in their hunts and their intrigues. Of course, the dissipation of the curtain of True Faith utterly dashed that intent, as dozens of vampires then rushed the city, hoping to secure Domain ahead of their fellows. A breach of the Silence of the Blood occurred during the frantic grab, as a Brujah fledgeling attacked a lay sister of the Benedictines, and the victim slipped through the fingers of the Order of the Black Cross and into those of Hermann von Salza, the Grandmaster of the Teutonic Order. The primogen council of the pilgrimage expressed their concerns that the breach might bring the two Truly Faithful knights together, as it would greatly enhance the danger that either man presents on their own.