The Concord of Ashes
Roberto di Noldo
An noted historian, genealogist and physician hailing from the Clan of Death, Roberto is the oldest pilgrim of the 4th Crusade. He is neutral in the politics that beset the enterprise, concerned only with edifying his medical knowledge.
A middle-aged Italian with short brown hair and a full beard, both peppered with grey. His complexion is ghastly, waxen and unwholesome, though this is offset my his mild, friendly demeanour and lively brown eyes. He wears simple robes of black over a white chemise, and he would appear to be a scholar judging from the ink stains on his fingers. A simple knife rests at his belt.
Roberto is perhaps the only true elder that has taken the Fourth Crusade. To hear him tell the tale, he was Embraced in the early years of the 8th Century. When he was mortal, Rachipert was a prominent and wealthy Lombardic landowner attached to a now-vanished commune some miles south-east of the city of Modena. While his father was considered an invader, his mother was a native Tuscan, and she instilled in her brilliant son a love of Roman history and a passion for preserving knowledge. Freed from the need to work for his living, he had much time to devote to other pursuits such as the study of the liberal arts, medicine and painting. In these matters he grew well-versed, and Rachipert became known for his works. Unbeknownst to him, his skill in medicine had attracted the attention of several Cainites, his sire Penelope among them.
So it was that when the plague arose in northern Italy in 722 CE (as indeed it had for nine generations, since the Plague of Justinian had almost wiped out the Eastern Roman empire), Rachipert saw it as an opportunity to help his fellows and grow in knowledge. After failing to save his own commune from the ravages of the disease, he journeyed first to Bologna, and then to Ravenna, having correctly surmised (from his studies of the history of the outbreak) that the genesis of the disease in Italy was the ports.
His colleague, Penelope, and her husband, Lucius took him into their home and eventually, their confidence concerning their state. Intrigued by their “condition”, Rachipert hoped to find a way to examine them after he had cured the plague. Alas, for all his good intentions he was unsuccessful. Rachipert contracted the disease himself and fell gravely ill just months after arriving in Ravenna. On his death bed, he accepted his host’s offer of the Embrace, and entered the ranks of the Clan of Death just minutes of he expired in agony from the plague.
Rachipert became an enthusiastic member of Ravenna’s Undead community, and avidly continued his studies in the decades after his death. With the guidance of his sire, he quickly mastered the rudiments of Auspex, and eventually mastered several paths of the Mortis discipline. A generation after his Embrace, the cycle of generational plague was broken, although he freely admits that it may have been through natural processes rather than his own fanatical efforts. By the turn of the ninth century he had exhausted the limits of medical texts and experimentation, and so devoted his efforts to other areas. Amongst the Clan of Death, he is widely regarded for his knowledge of history (both Cainite and kine) and for his understanding of vampiric genealogy (particularly that of his own clan). In time, he would also adopt an Italian name and fully adopt an Italian manner in an effort to keep up with the times, but as the centuries marched along he found himself falling behind.
Roberto belongs to the same secretive society of Cappadocian humanists as Dietrich von Steyer and Rowena d’Alexandre, and has been an active colleague and correspondent of each for centuries. He speaks over a dozen languages, and is unusually well-travelled for a Cainite, having pursued his studies wherever they took him in his fight against the static nature of his condition. Over the course of his near five centuries of existence he has dwelt in Ravenna, Bologna, Venice, Milan, Athens, Thessalonica, Durazzo, Dijon, Paris, Cologne, Brunswick, Hamburg and Lübeck. It was in this last city that he met Justis Giovanni, the dynamic young physician who would breathe new life into the elder’s stale existence.
Justis’ infectious enthusiasm brought a new spring to Roberto’s step. The elder was surprised to find how far medicine (which he had come to neglect) had come in the late 12th century, and the young man’s humanitarian zeal was refreshing as well. It didn’t hurt that the young man was of the Giovanni either, for Roberto had been eager to hear more of their experiments across the Shroud. He advised Justis of the emerging power of the Hanseatic League, and the young doctor advised his family further. Impressed with both of them, and glad for their advice, they were invited to Venice by none other than Claudius Giovanni to speak further. It was not long before Roberto had convinced them to keep him on so that he might trade his advanced knowledge of Auspex and Mortis for that of Nigrimancy. Furthermore, he also managed to secure Justis as his childe, over the objections of Laertes the Physician (an old rival).
The two of them plan to return to the Hanseatic League, just as soon as the Fourth Crusade is satisfactorily concluded. There, Justis will continue his duties as an envoy to the Ventrue and Lasombra merchants of the Hanse, and Roberto will begin an examination of the Shadowlands of Northern Europe. For now, they are both content to oversee the medical needs of the pilgrimage, for war always brings advances to the science of medicine. For his part, Roberto endures Justis’ required membership in the Serene Brotherhood with good grace, but he insists that they both stay out of the dangerous politics and ideological conflict besetting the crusade.
Lineage: Childe of Penelope of Hamburg, Childe of Baldasarre (d), Childe of Parmenides (d?), Childe of Japheth, Childe of Cappadocius
(d?)= probably destroyed