Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
A callow Fiend who serves as an envoy to Voivodes Tabak and Damek Ruthven. He negotiated the Tzimisce end of the negotiations with the Ashen Band at Castle Argeș.
A young Romanian nobleman; tall, pale, and faintly handsome, with his broad cheekbones, his strong jaw, and a dusting of whiskers on his chin and upper lip. His features are a little too symmetrical, rather too flawless, to be a product of natural means. He has short, honey blonde hair and hazel eyes which he chooses to set off with much adornment of copper and amber.
Like many Tzimisce, Lambach is fond of changing his appearance to suit his whims. On at least one occasion when he visited the knez of Tihuta, he wore a much younger and prettier visage, and sported a shock of lustrous black hair.
Envoy for a powerful Tzimisce faction that dominates the political strata south and west of the Carpathians, this Fiend was encountered by the Ashen Band when they approached the lord of Castle Argeș on behalf of Jürgen von Verden. Disliking the high-handed and fearless demeanour of Count Razvan Basarab, he would rudely dismiss the ghoul so his betters could talk. At that point, he introduced himself as Lambach sin Ruthven, Knez de Hateg, and that he was authorised to speak with them on behalf of his brother, Tabak, the Voivode of Oltenia.
Lambach enjoys the benefits of a very low generation, and he hails from a noble lineage that many vampires would kill to claim. As the childe of Ruthven, he is but two steps removed from the Tzimisce Antediluvian, and his bloodline is storied among the Fiends for having shaped much of the clan culture throughout the centuries of the Gepid, Avar, and Bulgar occupation of Oltenia, Transylvania, and the Pannonian Basin. Ruthven may have lacked the political will of Ionache, the vision of the Dracon, or the raw power of Yorak, but as the youngest of the surviving 4th generation, he more than made up for the lack with energy and ambition. Indeed, Lord Ruthven’s capacity to shape the successive, chaotic migrations of barbarian hordes to place them under the yolk of the Fiends was without peer. By the 6th century, he had taken it upon himself to claim a role as custodian and protector of the traditions of the Clan of the Dragon, a task that he would take seriously, and impart to his own progeny. Centuries later, in the lands of Oltenia and the western Carpathians, the Ruthvenski still reign supreme.
While their elder has long since slipped into the shadows, he has left his lands in the custody of his favoured progeny. Lambach’s consanguineous brothers, Tabak and Damek, claim large and prestigious demesnes. The former can call many knezi to his raven and crescent moon banner, and his power is unmatched by any Tzimisce south of the Carpathians. The latter holds the ancient Dacian capital of Sarmizegetusa as the bastion of his voivodate; there he claims the role of protector of clan tradition, genealogy, and history. He has chosen to rest on his laurels for centuries, but should so choose, Lord Damek could easily threaten the cities of Weissenburg and Hermannstadt, and choke off all trade through both the Mureș/ Deva and the Olt/ Red Tower mountain passes. Lambach exists in mighty company indeed.
Which is why his relative obscurity is something of a puzzle. The village and castle over which he lords is tiny in comparison to the mighty domains of his brothers, and in truth he holds it only at the pleasure of Lord Tabak, who has long since bullied Lambach into service. Of course, as one of the Ruthvenski, he enjoys an enviable circle of allies, contacts, servants, and sycophants, but he holds little true power other than the “dead water” that pools in his unliving veins and arteries. A 5th generation vampire holds extraordinary potential, even for a Cainite but, unfortunately, Lambach appears to suffer from a profound lack of ambition or backbone.
Lambach is happy to claim the trappings of power, and he enjoys the adulation that other Fiends heap upon him in order to gain access to his more potent siblings. He is also unafraid to threaten his lessers, thinks little of disabusing even powerful servants of the clan such as Count Razvan of their actual importance, and is not without charisma or leadership qualities. However, if the clan gossip that Kelemen shared with his coterie mates holds any truth at all, the ancilla is quite the poltroon. He apparently did not desire the Embrace of Lord Ruthven, suffered terribly throughout the ordeal, and in the years since he has assiduously avoided doing anything approaching hard work. Indeed, he is far more interested in passing the time pursuing degenerate pleasures and pointless diversions.
It is perhaps for this reason that he has fallen into the role of diplomat for Tabak. In service to his bullish brother-in-blood, Lambach may travel about the demesnes of other Fiends, enjoying their creative hospitality and their adoration, while also having the opportunity to enjoy the hard-won authority of a voivode. In this capacity, Lambach has visited Veceslav Basarab at Tihuta on a number of occasions, and it was this function, too, that brought him into the orbit of the Ashen Band at Argeș.
Unlike the Brood of Câmpulung, Lambach was uninterested in pantomiming the motions of an invasion by the army of the Swordbearer. While he allowed that Kordönül represented a real and present threat to the stability of the domains of Oltenia, and that Lord Jürgen’s expeditionary army was providing a useful foil for the Gangrel warlord, clan pride would not allow an alliance of any sort with “an invader who had insulted the honour of the Voivodate.”
After much back-and-forth, however, a compromise was reached. If Lord Jürgen were to pay tribute of some sort to Tabak and invoke the sacred traditions of hospitality, he and his army might be allowed safe passage to do battle with Kordönül. Such an elegant arrangement benefitted all; both Tabak’s and Jürgen’s honour would be preserved, and the former would stand a chance of putting down the Cuman threat in a timely fashion. Lambach made it known that the tribute could be made in coin, and the Ashen Band withdrew to discuss the offer.
When they returned to the council chamber, Ulrich von Wettin named the exorbitant sum of 100 000 denars as tribute to Lord Tabak. Obviously aware that Ashen Band were authorised to name terms on behalf of their master, Lambach nonetheless struggled to contain his mirth and amazement at the offer, while the other members of the band stood there equally shocked. After a moment, the Tzimisce offered a sly, knowing smile to the Ventrue, and duly accepted the terms on behalf of his voivode.
In celebration of their new arrangement, over the coming nights Lambach lavishly offered the best hospitality that Count Razvan could offer, while they awaited word form the Swordbearer. Soon enough, a short, terse note arrived congratulating the neonates and ordering them home. Standing at the gates of the castle, Knez Ruthven wished them well upon their departure. His warmth towards them was obvious, perhaps because his diplomatic victory would gain him a great many kudos.
Whatever the outcome of the war with Kordönül and Vladimir Rustovitch, the domain of Voivode Tabak Ruthven would be considerably strengthened to take advantage, and the star of his callow brother-in-blood would rise accordingly. Much status and praise would be heaped upon his name, and it had been won almost entirely without pain or even any real effort on his part. And that was, after all, just the way Lambach liked it.
He smiled to himself as the small coterie of neonates rode away. Yes indeed. Lambach would remember the Ashen Band with much warmth in the years ahead.
Embrace: Either the very late 10th century or the very early 11th century. Lambach’s early years of undeath are obscure.
Lineage: Childe of Lord Ruthven, childe of the Eldest. Lambach is of the 5th generation.