Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
Gregory Lakeritos, the Wondermaker
This remarkable Ravnos was a member of the Antonian family. His wondrous creations are much in demand by Cainites throughout the lands of the central and eastern Mediterranean, especially since his demise was reported in recent years.
When the Concord met him, Gregory was an awkward-looking Greek wearing heavy cloth of gold and crimson robes adorned with small examples of his crafts. Brooches moved of their own volition, rings glimmered with invisible power and torchlight danced about his body. He wore his black hair long, kept a full beard, and moved with some difficulty, leaning on a walking stick. After the fall of the city, what wealth remained to him was spent in trying to keep he and Zoë alive, so he took to wearing simple robes.
(modified from the character as presented in Constantinople by Night, pp. 102-103, and Dark Ages Clan Novel Settite).
A monk of the Akoimetai Order in the early 7th century, Gregory was particularly drawn to studies of the esoteric as well as enlightenment beyond the physical plane. In AD 626, he was sent as part of an Obertus delegation to the Great Library of Alexandria in order to copy certain valuable tomes. Apparently he discovered something in the library that changed him profoundly, and caused the genesis of his work in clockwork automation. Gregory’s sleepless wanderings also drew the attention of the Alexandrite Ravnos. He was taken by the Charlatans while pacing the docks, and subsequently Embraced. After many years spent wandering in the company of his jati, towards the end of the 8th century he found himself back at the gates of Constantinople and realised that he could not bear to leave his home again.
Unfortunately, the Dracon declared that the Ravnos had fallen from the pure faith and cast him out of the Akoimetai. The Antonian Palace Prefect, Caius, saw potential in his clockwork creations, however, and interceded with Antonius the Gaul on Gregory’s behalf. Of course, the basileus of the Byzantine Ventrue was eager to sting his hated rival, so he accepted Caius’ petition more to thumb his nose at the Dracon than out of any regard for Gregory. In any case, Antonius would soon find the Final Death at the hands of his childer, and Caius’ hope that he could use the creations of Gregory to win Michael’s heart would be in vain. The Ravnos was soon largely left to his own devices, but he remained a quiet member of the Antonian family for more than 4 centuries.
He pursued his intense spirituality, strove to remain outside Family politics, and filled his nights pursuing his wondrous crafts on commission from various elders within and without the Queen of Cities. In the course of his long existence, he would make many treasured friends, numbering both Malachite and Petronius among his dearest, though he resisted the Arbiter’s entreaties to abandon the Antonians and join the Michaelites. After the second half of the 12th century and on into the beginning of the 13th, Gregory was even allowed to visit his beloved Monastery of St. John Studius to speak with Gesu and his former brethren in the Akoimetai, who had since evolved into the Gesudians. Welcome in his old home once again, he would go on to join the Dream Circle of Achmet the Dreamer, bringing him into close association with Irene Stellas, Theresa Kymena, and Myca Vykos also.
Before the turn of the 13th century, Gregory took on a young mortal protege, who he jealously kept from the attentions of his fellow Cainites. The talent of this young girl, Zoë, reportedly approached that of his own with regards to clockwork creations, and the Ravnos elder feared that his own kind would try to steal her or exploit her potential in unwholesome ways.
The formative Concord met Gregory the Wondermaker at the blood feast in their honour. He stayed close to Malachite much of the evening, and was quite grave and retiring in character, though he was observed to burst into laughter at one of Petronius’ jests. His demonstration of clockwork birds with their own animated faces startled and impressed them, and he later offered to accept a commission from each of them, should they think of something they might like. He did add that he had a significant backlog of commissions, however, and it would take some years for him to “get around to them”. Gregory left the feast quite early, politely resisting Petronius’ blandishments to stay and enjoy himself.
He was seen again when the Concord returned to Constantinople in company with the 4th Crusade. This time, he avoided most of the coterie, seeing them (as he was meant to do) as agents of the Latins. However, their meditations as associates of the Dream Circle allowed Iulia and Veceslav to pierce his suspicions, and both vampires would enjoy extensive conversations with the Wondermaker. Unfortunately, as the times grew more tense over the following months, he and his charge grew ever more reclusive, and the Concord did not see him again when the city fell.
Throughout the course of the many years since, rumours have reached the ears of those members of the coterie who have an interest in the fate of the exiled and broken luminaries of the city that was. Apparently, Gregory fled the Queen of Cities in the wake of the Great Sack, and together with Zoë he eventually found himself in the refugee camp outside Adrianople. At some point in these desperate straits, although it would have been very much out of character for the old Ravnos, it is known that Gregory actually Embraced his mortal charge, bringing Zoë across into undeath. At length, they would find a place in the Cainite caravan of Andreas Ægyptus, who sought to transport them to a new refuge in the West. And finally, it is said that Gregory the Wondermaker would meet his end there in AD 1208, in the city of Chambery, at the hands of vampire-hunters.
Although none gave him succor at his time of need, and as ill fortune would have it his closest allies also fled or perished, the news of the Wondermaker’s demise was met with universal sadness by the surviving Cainites of the broken Dream. He was among the best of them, they said. Pious, humble, interested only in transcending the limits of the curse (as he always called it) and lightening the souls of other immortals with extraordinary works.
Truly though, if Cainite was capable of moving beyond the limits of even Final Death, or more accurately the appearance of it, it must be Gregory the Wondermaker. There have been sightings of him in recent years, once near Mt. Athos, and once again near the Church of St. Nicholas in Myra. As is often the case with such matters, reliable witnesses are scarce, so tales of his survival could just be thin rumour. Only time will tell…
Embrace: AD 626.
Final Death: Likely May, AD 1208.
Lineage: Childe of Icarus the Fool, of the line of Ramessu, Childe of Zapathusura; Gregory the Wondermaker was of the Alexandrite bloodline, and he claimed to be of the 9th generation, although many of his abilities seemed to surpass mortal limitations, and some claim his generation was markedly stronger than he purported.