The Concord of Ashes
This inscrutable and terrible elder of the Tzimisce is Voivode of Vrancea, a large territory between the Carpathians and the Black Sea. Unusual for a Voivode, he is also a Master Koldun.
This creature is a nightmare given form. He would be seven feet tall were he to stand at full height, but he tends to hunch forward with hands clasped, his posture reminiscent of a praying mantis. Whisper thin stalks of flesh sprout from atop his smooth head, undulating like submerged reeds. He has five orifices that appear to double as both mouths and eyes: two on each cheek, once centred on his forehead, and on the palm of each hand. Each contains an array of fangs and a tongue-like mass of over-lapping. Hollowed muscle that unfolds like a tulip to reveal an eyeball on each stalk. A breastplate that appears to be a fused spine and rib-cage protects his torso. Although he appears clothed, at second glance it is nothing more than a manipulation of his flesh.
(modified from Bitter Crusade, pp. 91-92)
Perhaps the most feared of the progeny of that villain known as Noriz, the Corruptor of Legions, Koban is a relative rarity for a voivode for he is both a temporal ruler and a master koldun. He rules a massive territory between the valleys of the eastern Carpathians and the shores of the Black Sea, from the northern reaches of the resurgent Vlach voivodes of the Danube borderlands to the southern grasp of the Brodniks and his sire. The area of his demesnes are roughly equivalent to that of the entire land of Transylvania, and thousands of mortals live, and die, under the shadow of his rule. Almost twenty knezi, and many more lesser Cainites, answer to the call of Koban. In practice, they spend much of their time fending off the probes of Noriz and his Brodnik knezi in the north, and the Vlach knezi loosely aligned with Lord Ruthven in the south and west. Voivode Koban makes his own lair in a labyrinthine series of linked caverns called the Vrance, which lie in the shadow of the Carpathians, scarcely a score of miles from the obscure eastern exit of the Bostral Pass. His haven is guarded by all manner of horrors- living, undead and daemonic in nature and its “larder” is well stocked with the pathetic mortals that have been delivered to the Vrance as tribute by his vassals.
Koban’s reputation is that of inscrutability, monstrousness, madness and power over such things that should not be meddled with. When he invaded the Bostral Pass to conduct his Trial by War against Bodor Toth and his people, he did not disappoint. He first sent an expendable childe, Dominik to ritually slay Dévald, Bodor’s mortal son. His blithe unwillingness to hunt Dévald himself communicated the voivode’s distaste for the piddling power of Bodor, and his supreme confidence in his own forces. Upon his arrival, Koban conducted ritual impalements to mark the new boundaries of his territory and begin his campaign of terror against the people of Toth. His command of the wild spirits of the storm, obscure chaos spirits, and the nightmare spirits of fear, rage, disease and famine took a terrible toll on the morale of the defenders. His army consisted of 4 brutal childer, 3 Vozhd, nearly 30 szlachta, two dozen ghouls and hundreds of men.
When the coterie, their ranks bolstered by Myca Vykos and Erzebet Toth, arrived in his camp to parley, the Voivode proved to be surprisingly garrulous and loquacious. He praised their guerilla tactics in the pass, but made it clear that unless Bodor and Erzebet Toth surrendered themselves to him for their rightful execution, the siege would go ahead and everyone in the valley would suffer. This was because Bodor’s sire, the late Zubor, had cursed Koban before he had gone to his own Final Death. Only by eradicating Zubor’s line could the voivode assure himself that the that this dire curse would be lifted. After formalities were out of the way, he seemed eager in his own twisted way to learn about them, and they in turn learned something of his own tale.
Early in the 9th century, the Corrupter of Legions swept through Koban’s village like a scourge, using the mortals he didn’t initially kill as his playthings.When he tired of these games, he forced them to fight one another to the death, pitting neighbour against neighbour, grandfather against granddaughter and parent against child. The last to remain was the augur’s son Koban. Noriz approached the young man with the intention of draining his blood, informing him that he would soon suffer the tortures of all eternity for his actions. The boy spat in Noriz’ face and told him that after killing 33 of his fellows, no torture could break him. Amused, the Corrupter of Legions Embraced Koban and left him to gain a sense of irony.
Koban took to the Cainite ways quickly, applying the knowledge passed down from his mother to his new state of being. He soon became involved in Tzimisce society, clawing his way to power and trading what remained of his humanity for land and influence. Now, centuries later, even Noriz is careful to keep a wary eye on his childe.
Although Koban is quite capable as both a ruler and a warlord, every action he takes is based on obscure mystical perceptions known only to him, rather than out of any personal desire for advancement. Everything he does takes on an aspect of ritual, although this is not always blatant. To other students of the Occult, and even to other kolduns, his rituals seem obscure and even purely symbolic in nature. Some might mistake his behaviour as a holdover of mortal peasant superstition, but his outlook has nevertheless carved him a kingdom and earned the well-deserved fear of Cainite and mortal alike. Even other koldun’s reluctantly admit that Koban’s mastery of the Spirit Ways is equalled by few.
Like Noriz, Koban has designs on expanding his power west of the mountains and into Transylvania. On the Danube borderlands his ambitions have been kept in check (so far) by the designs and forces of the powerful Voivode Tabak Ruthven. The Bostral Pass represents a new front in their savage conflict, and it is only a matter of time before Bodor Toth and his allies must once again defend their valley. Knez Bodor has offered his allegiance to Voivode Ruthven, on the understanding that he will have the protection, and army, of his new lord when that time comes.
Ultimately, Koban’s Trial By War against Bodor Toth was unsuccessful. The Concord helped the young knez defend his valley against the forces of the monstrous voivode, and together they won victory at Toth Castle. In addition to scores of ghouls and mortals, Koban lost two of his vozhd and several talented Cainite servants in the campaign. While he was forced to retreat, his loyal Warmaster,Timur, brought him one small consolation: the ravaged body of the Gangrel Bernhard von Billung, whose brilliant tactics had played a large part in the voivode’s defeat. From afar, Maude witnessed her coterie-mate being impaled before Koban’s throne-vozhd. Helpless to save him, and uncertain if he had suffered the Final Death, with a heavy heart the Cappadocian watched him being carried aloft as a grisly banner while the army of the voivode returned whence they came.
Lineage: Childe of Noriz the Corruptor of Legions; further lineage is unknown, but it is thought to be an obscure line from much farther east.