Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
Variously known as the Rock of Constantinople and the Chosen of Michael, this proud elder now wanders in search of the Dracon, hoping to bring the Ancient back to reinvigorate the Dream.
This creature’s dead, dry skin is drawn tight over his bones, cracking and splitting whenever he moves or contorts his face. He lacks hair, even eyebrows, and his nose is knife-thin. Yet the scars fade in contrast to his bearing, for despite a touch of rictus he is tall, thin and regal. He wears travel worn and mud spattered clothes, and carries a short, thick bladed sword at his side. He doesn’t avoid eye contact and stares at you with meaningful intensity.
Unlike other Nosferatu of the West, he has never had any shame of his ruined visage, and he has always made a point of wearing his true face in court with his peers.
(Expanded from the character as presented in Constantinople by Night, pp. 100-101, Bitter Crusade, p. 87, Players Guide to the Low Clans, pp. 209-210, Dark Ages Clan Novel Nosferatu, Dark Ages Clan Novel Malkavian, and Dark Ages Clan Novel Gangrel).
Once an ambitious prelate of the Church of Byzantium during the Second Iconoclast Controversy, Malachite (then known as Maleki) was a mortal client of Magnus, the Lasombra custodian of Orthodoxy. Maleki was vain and greedy for power, and eventually became Magnus’ ghoul, but the elder had sorely misunderstood the source of the priest’s flaws. Maleki paradoxically sought greatness to serve the Dream, a concept that he intuited at the time, but did not truly understand. He was beloved of the boy-emperor Michael III and his regent, Empress Dowager Theodora, and he exulted in his lofty status and prominent role within the Hagia Sophia. Unfortunately, not long after he had taken the blood for the first time and shortly before the last embers of iconoclasm guttered and died, Maleki happened to publicly contradict his domitor concerning his objections to the confiscation of certain monastic properties. Magnus was furious at what he perceived as a betrayal, and contrived a terrible punishment to humble the rebellious prelate and destroy his proud spirit. Maleki was tortured and then Embraced by one of the lowest of the low, a pathetic Nosferatu known as Vasilli the Penitent Dog.
The punishment was a success. Maleki was broken. But then an angel came, and delivered salvation unto the stricken prelate. Michael the Archangel, methuselah Patriarch of Constantinople, was outraged by the treatment of this flawed, but good, man. He took the ruined prelate under his care and slowly returned his sanity and self-respect, teaching him that his ruined and wracked body had been a trial sent by God, but that he had passed, and should have no shame for his appearance. The ancient Toreador named him Malachite for the stone that he held to be more precious than any other, although the resemblance between that name and Michaelite was lost on few of the court wits.
Many years earlier, during the Fourth Council held in AD 796, Michael told the Dracon of a vision that he had had of “a rock upon which the Dream might settle — a Cainite of such faith and goodness that his example would serve to inspire all of the families of their golden city.” Although the foretold Cainite had yet to appear, he wished for the Dracon to acquiesce to the creation of a Scion family when he did. Naturally, flush with his victory over the soon to be destroyed Antonius, the Tzimisce would have given him anything.
Now, 46 years later, Michael declared that the appointed one had come. The newly rechristened Malachite became the Patriarch’s Chosen, and from that moment on he made the stability and strength of the Dream his duty and passion. In keeping with Michael’s wishes, he was limited to only two subordinates at any one time, but over the years not a few of his progeny moved on to other Byzantine cities where they continued to serve the Dream in their own ways. In their absence, it was necessary for the Rock of Constantinople to bring yet another worthy mortal across into their family. Malachite served in his unique mandate for some 350 years, loyal to Michael himself rather than Petronius and the other Toreador, most of whom he viewed as decadent and useless.
He worked actively against the influence of Magnus, who despised him more fiercely than ever for the favour he enjoyed, and the Nosferatu returned the acrimony with equal bile. Centuries later, even with the city endangered by the the 4th Crusade the hatred between Malachite and Magnus was undiminished and the two of them rarely so much as acknowledged each other in public. When the Nosferatu or any of his family were forced to deal with the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra, the preferred intermediary was Sarah the Chaste, for he felt that at least her faith was true even if her family was foul.
Malachite became friendly with Baron Thomas Feroux of the Gangrel and Autokrator Natalya Syvatoslav of the Lexor Brujah as the course of the latter 12th century continued. They supported each other in court, and seemed to share a poor opinion of the endless intrigues and bickering common to the Families. In the years before the 4th Crusade arrived before the city, their friendship was formalised in a new, secret alliance called the Covenant of 3, although once it became common knowledge others referred to it as the New Trinity just as frequently. The old Nosferatu had also long been friends with Gregory Lakeritos, and the two of them could often be found sitting in the gardens of the Palace of Daphne within the Great Palace or the Palace of Magnaura, sharing a companionable silence.
In AD 1196 the Malachite Nosferatu watched with much interest the progress of the formative Concord’s investigation into the murders of Adrianna and Juliano of the Narsene Lasombra. Malachite himself attended the Antonian blood feast held in their honour, and spoke with several of the coterie regarding the Dream and the necessity for its survival and renewal. He rarely strayed from the side of Gregory the Wondermaker during the proceedings, and left early.
Years later, after the First Siege of Constantinople in July of 1203, several of the Concord elected to base themselves in the Queen of Cities while other quartered themselves with the 4th Crusade. Their mission on the pilgrimage, given them by the Covenant of Three, had been to prevent any attacks on Byzantine territory, so in this they had floundered most egregiously. The violence-prone Baron Thomas had been philosophical at their failure, as his own agent Anna Sgorina had also failed in this regard, and indeed her blunder had compounded to cause theirs. Natalya too was forgiving, seeing that the actions of mortals beyond the scope of the pilgrimage had unavoidably moved it to the city. Only Malachite proved to be uncharacteristically wrathful, and his biases towards the Clan Lasombra became apparent when Iulia approached him to enlist his aid further.
Hotly and pointedly, he told her that he was unsurprised that the Concord could not counter the Cainite Crusade, for the Magisters were inevitably inimical to the common good. Surprised that the even-tempered Rock of Constantinople could be so prejudicial, Iulia withdrew. Obviously, the scars that Magnus had inflicted upon Malachite were still deep and fresh, even after more than 350 years. By the new year, her efforts to help the city had paid off to some extent, for the Nosferatu elder sought her out to tell her that he had seen her good works, regretted his unkind words, and he asked her forgiveness.
Alas, no amount of good works could save the Queen of Cities. Unknown to nearly everyone but his own family and the Knights of St. Ladre less than a week before the walls were breached, Michael compelled Malachite to leave the city in hopes that he would survive the coming disaster. Unable to resist the awesome compulsion of his master’s Dominate, the Rock gave orders that someone should impersonate him using the gifts of their Blood so that their allies among the Covenant would not be disheartened. Fra’ Raymond agreed, and Fra’ Osmund was chosen to be Malachite in his stead until he could return. Although this order was given with the best of intentions, it would come to haunt the Nosferatu of the city.
Before Malachite could return, the city did indeed fall and the Great Sack began on the 12th of April, 1204. Within the span of a night, the unthinkable would happen. Among a great many other tragedies, travesties, and travails, Michael was slain by the Baali Mary the Black and the Monastery of St. John Studius was burnt to the ground, taking Gesu with it. His sanity already straining at the surety of the former and the rumour of the latter, Baron Thomas snapped when he discovered the benign subterfuge of the Nosferatu. Fra’ Osmund survived only because of the intercession of his coterie-mate Conrad de Monreal, and the baron declared that the Malachite and St. Ladre Nosferatu were to be treated as enemies from that moment on.
Unfortunately for Malachite, when he arrived back in Constantinople on the 13th, his shock at his beloved city in flames and under the sword was compounded by his apprehension by the Baron’s Gangrel. He was poorly treated indeed and may even have met his end but for the ironic aid of Guy of Provence and the Fourth Cainite Crusade, who discovered the secret headquarters of Baron Thomas and his followers that very night. The Rock apparently escaped in the confusion, although exactly how is not widely known, and managed to find his way back to his own people.
It is said that after several misadventures and foiled plans, he quickly made his way first to the burning monastery and then to Michael’s subterranean replica of the Hagia Sophia to divine the truth of the rumours of the Trinity leaders’ destruction. Much to his anguish he discovered that both tales were true. It is known that the Magnus Orthodox priest Libanius attempted to bar his way to the latter location and paid for his temerity and ill-advised use of violence with his own life.
Ultimately, Malachite survived the fall of the Queen of the Cities, but he would not give up on the Dream. In company with Alexia Theusa, Verpus Sauzezh, Fra’ Ignatius, Fra’ Zoticus, and several other of the knights of St. Ladre, he left Constantinople immediately after and made his way to Anatolia in order to consult the Cappadocian seers at Mt. Erciyes as to the location of the Dracon. When he returned many months later, it was with renewed conviction that the Tzimisce Ancient must be found and convinced to return to the city. Despite the protestations of other remnants of the Families, some of whom thought he was the best candidate to replace Michael as patriarch, Malachite immediately began his preparations to track down the Dracon.
Messages were sent to clan-mates throughout the broken empire and old bonds of mutual friendship were renewed, all for the purposes of assisting his search. It would take many months for any sign or rumour to filter back to him, but by the end of 1206 he was ready to begin his quest in truth. His best chance was to seek the Dracon in the West. After speaking with the Ashen Priest known as Anatole, Malachite joined the Malkavian on his way to Adrianople and there they took up the strands of leadership over the desperate folk languishing in the refugee camp outside that city. Together they convinced Cainite and kine alike that they must make an exodus to the West before the powers in the area lost patience and burned them all out.
The refugees began their march in the spring of 1207. Accompanied occasionally by the Cappadocian Markus Musa Giovanni, Malachite left them from time to time to seek out this lead or that as their perilous road wound its way first through the Kingdoms of Thessalonica and Serbia, then Croatia, Istria, the settentrioni of Italy, Savoy, Burgundy, Nivernais, Orleans, and finally the Île-de-France, where their journey ended at another refuge in the forest close to Paris. There, his duty done, the Rock left them altogether telling them that the journey itself had been both the penance for their evils in the past and the school of self-reliance for their future. He then vanished into the night without looking back.
Rumour has had Malachite visiting Cainite courts in the Holy Roman Empire in recent years, again in company with the ever gregarious Markus Musa Giovanni, but it has not been lost on the astute that their long and largely fruitless quest begins to wear on both Cainites.
Embrace: AD 843, although Magnus made him a ghoul several years beforehand.
Lineage: Childe of Vasilli the Penitent Dog; of the line of the Hag, also known as Baba Yaga.