Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
An uncanny member of the Michaelites, the "Fallen Angel" was notorious in the city for his delusions of angelic grandeur and feared for his effectiveness as the Arbiter's agent. He was terribly burned during the Great Sack and vanished afterwards.
A pale, brooding young man of unearthly, angelic beauty. Long, loose blonde hair frames his fine jaw and high cheek bones; his face is all planes and shadows. Bright blue eyes, at once compelling yet forbidding, stare at you. He goes unshod, wears loose trousers and hooded robes of drab, grey cloth cut for ease of movement. His weapon, an antique spatha sword of exquisite craftsmanship, rests in an ornate scabbard and sword belt.
Certain obscure scriptures hold that that there was once an angel called Sariel, whose name means “Prince of God”. Some believe that he was a benevolent Angel of Death, and other that he was in fact an Angel of Healing. Others say that it is written that he was an archangel tasked with punishing other angels and spirits that had sinned against the purpose of God. Still other scholars of celestial lore claim that Sariel was also one of the twenty “chiefs of tens” amongst the Egrḗgoroi, also known as Grigori and the Watchers, who lusted after the beauty of mortal women and sinned against the laws of Heaven by laying with them to beget the race of giants known as the Nephilim. Among the many variations on names that the archangel in question has been given through the ages are Suriyel, Esdreel, Sahariel, Juriel, Seriel, Sauriel, Surya, Saraqael, Sarakiel, Jariel, Suruel, Surufel and Sourial. And a very, very few ascribe an even more readily recognisable moniker… Uriel.
Since he first appeared in Constantinople in the middle of the 9th century, the Michaelite called Sariel has done much to add further fire to the legends. Bathed in the light of Heaven, Michael the Patriarch summoned Petronius, Malachite and Magnus to his subterranean church, and after a speech heavily laden with the virtues of holy forgiveness and righteous fury, he presented the comatose form of the beautiful young man to them. The Patriarch proclaimed him “Sariel, the Sword of God (Spathi tou Theou). Let him be our righteous Hand of Vengeance upon those who who would bring Hell to our Heaven; Nightmare to our Dream!”
From the moment he opened his eyes, the vampire Sariel displayed abject horror at the depths to which he had fallen, the curse that he must suffer as penitence for his sins. As one who should have punished the fallen Grigori, his sin at joining them was tenfold more grievous. God had clearly denied him Grace for his crime; he who had once been privileged to stand in God’s presence had become numbered amongst those cursed with Caine’s even greater folly. And yet, all was not lost. Michael too had been cursed in the same manner, and the Patriarch believed he could regain God’s favour by building an earthly tribute to God’s plan: the Dream of Constantinople.
Sariel quickly built a reputation as a the blunt instrument of the urbane and subtle Petronius. The Quaesitor taught him of his nature, the society of the Families, and something of the Disciplines. When Michael was awake, he also gave his lesser kin the benefit of his ancient experience. Under their tutelage, Sariel would grow to answer violence to the Michaelites with violence, sin amongst the mortals and unaligned Cainites of the city with judgement, and evidence of infernalism with destruction. Naturally, the majority of the vampires of the Queen of Cities thought him to be dangerously insane, but they kept a wary distance when the unstable Toreador was about the business of the Patriarch or his Quaesitor.
By the beginning of the 11th century he had branched out to hunt the Baali with other demon-hunters, taking the fight to the far borders of the empire to keep the infestation in the further East, away from the Dream. His mentor in these endeavours was the Salubri Warrior known as Kenaniah, a Blooded elder who had been about his business since the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Rumour has it that Kenaniah’s large coterie of allied Salubri, Toreador, Brujah and Assamites visited great destruction upon the nests of the Baali in the desolate places of the East, from the Taurus Mountains to the Caucasus and beyond. The attrition rate in the legendary band was high, however, and Sariel was plunged into lengthy torpors on a number of occasions during his association with Kenaniah. Despite these long absences from the fight, for nearly 100 years the Spathi tou Theou hunted the Infernalists, learning their wiles and methods in order to better combat them.
Alas for Kenaniah’s band, disaster befell them a score of miles from Aleppo in early October of AD 1138. Little is known of what happened that fateful night, other than the legend that Kenaniah and his followers sought the source of an infernal disturbance that had been causing tremors throughout the region for more than eighteen months. It would appear that the coterie found what they were looking for, but failed to overcome the demons that were at the root of the infestation. The result was an unimaginably terrible earthquake that destroyed much of Aleppo and numerous settlements surrounding it. Some say that more than 200 000 people perished in that earthquake. It is unknown what became of the nest that caused the seism, nor is the fate of Kenaniah and his followers known to those outside the Salubri clan. Whatever the case, Sariel himself survived the destruction, although he was in torpor, burnt, and crushed almost beyond recognition when some two years later he was delivered to Petronius by Drufiel, one of Kenaniah’s progeny.
The Fallen Angel lay in torpor for more than fifty years, slowly recovering from his terrible wounds. When he finally awoke in 1191, the Queen of Cities was greatly changed from his memories of two centuries earlier. Many Cainites, even among his own brothers and sisters had strayed from the true path, the Families had become fractured in their purpose, and the Latin Quarter had grown to become like an immense tick, feeding on the blood of the Dream.
After a period of rehabilitation, Sariel rededicated himself to the Michaelite cause under Petronius. He struggled nightly against the tide of hopelessness and short-sighted ambition that beset the city, running errands and completing tasks that his master felt would benefit the Dream. The Sword of God also took up his old role, judging and punishing those mortals who transgressed against his city and his Family. On the orders of Michael himself he stayed his hand against the Children of Judas as they still served their purpose after a fashion and in any case, Sariel came to see the Latin Quarter as the main threat. When he was not busy on Petronius’ business, he patrolled its borders with regularity.
Of course, Sariel left the policing of the Codex of Legacies to the Baron’s Gangrel, but he was known to provide information to them that amounted to causing the destruction of a number of Cainites that strayed in one way or another. Impulsive and unbalanced as ever, however, some speculated that it was only a matter of time before he stalked the Latins himself, meting out justice with his own righteous hand as he once did centuries ago.
He was first encountered by the formative Concord in AD 1196. When they visited the palace of Petronius, several of the young Cainites noticed a flitting shadow pass behind them as they entered the gate. Sir Gunthar and Maude were observant enough to see the Toreador make a leap from a rooftop to that of an outbuilding of the palace, covering a distance that should have been impossible. It may have been a trick of the light, but they both fancied that they had seen the beat of a pair of snow white wings in the middle of his leap. He stared at the two of them impassively for a moment, then made another leap to the roof of the palace itself, disappearing from view. When they inquired as to who he was, the Arbiter simply said that Sariel was his “Angel of Vengeance.”
Lotario Acuto had much more to do with angelic ancilla throughout the course of his years in service to Petronius. Rarely, he was called upon to investigate existential threats to the Michaelites. At these times, he would be paired up with the Sword of God, who would enforce the will of qauesitor if the outcome of Lotario’s work required it. The younger Toreador frankly admitted that he was afraid of Sariel, not just because of his obvious potency and righteous fury, but also his utter disregard for the lives of those that he deemed to be sinners or agents of the Devil.
This vengeful disregard was demonstrated late in AD 1203. The Concord and Lotario had been called upon to find Gregorius Dimities, the Muse of Performance, who had been abducted by the Chosen of Calomena. Using methods both arcane and mundane, the foreign coterie tracked the trail of clues to a ruined mansion in the nearly abandoned suburb of Arcadius. There they discovered that the prophet of Calomena had established a following of no less than thirteen vampires (including seven who appeared to be of the Romaioi Families) as well as scores of mortals, and they appeared to be preparing a stake and fuel for the purposes of immolating the muse. The Concord realised that this time, despite their strength they were outnumbered and unlikely to win in a straight-up fight, so they infiltrated the lair, rescued the muse, and fled back towards the safety of the Great Palace.
As they did so the Chosen pursued them, cleverly using the many torch-wielding mortals of their cult to corral them through the forlorn streets of Arcadius. Luckily for the Concord, Petronius had been following their progress using his masterful command of Auspex, and he sent Sariel to assist them. The vengeful angel suddenly appeared in the midst of the fleeing coterie and their breathless retainers as they ran through a rubble and weed strewn field. His usual brooding countenance was replaced by a mask of controlled fury as he walked calmly towards the mob of torch wielding cultists and their Cainite masters.
The Concord expected to assist the Spathi tou Theou in turn, but as they halted and readied themselves, the Toreador unloosed the awful power of his Majesty. Both they and their enemies were struck by it, and while the touch of its effect was comparitively light on the Concord, all the enemy mortal cultists fell to their knees in abject terror. Sariel then moved at speed, ruthlessly butchering them one by one as he muttered the accusing word “sinner” time and again. Two of the Caitiff cultists struggled through their fear to attack him, but they were destroyed in pitifully short exchanges before their brother and sister vampires fled for their unlives. In all, no fewer than fifty-four of the mortal cultists and two of the immortal ones fell before him in just a few minutes. The Concord looked on, their emotions a mixture of pity for the mortals as well as fear and respect of the Spathi tou Theou.
Months later, during the Great Sack, he was present with the Concord, Lucien, and Petronius as they made their way to the haven of the Patriarch. When the Arbiter collapsed, stunned by the destruction of Michael, Sariel must have felt it as well for he drew his sword and plunged ahead at preturnatural speed. Totally heedless of danger, and moving faster than any of his allies had a hope of matching, he was unprepared for the potency of Mary the Black. Having freshly diablerised the Patriarch, the ancient Baali had grown unspeakably powerful and she easily neutralised the puissant warrior. As the Concord caught up to Sariel, they found him on his knees in a daze as Mary caressed his cheek with her hooked claws, drawing blood in an impure parody of affection, whispering to him in a tongue that sent chills down their spines. Quite unlike the sight of the avenging angel that they had witnessed months earlier, they saw the Sword of God trembling, staring at the sarcophagus of Michael in shock as he silently wept bloody, bitter tears.
Then Mary the Black looked up, took in the Concord, and narrowed her eyes hatefully at Sister Maude Khlesl.
“He is within you!” she accused as black fire erupted from her hand and caught in the flesh of the kneeling Sariel. Engulfed, he screamed in agony as Rötschreck came upon him and he somehow rose through the air towards the ceiling.
All save Maude then attacked her in turn, surrounding the ancient infernalist and doing everything in their power to bring her down. Meanwhile, the Cappadocian called upon her rituals of Mortis to try to save Sariel. Enacting the Ritual of the Pallid Flame she ran after him and, with a couple of great, vitae-fulled leaps she was able to first make the gallery, then the ceiling of the half dome where he fruitlessly sought a nearby apperture that opened into darkness. She reached out and managed to touch him with the blue fire, and then fell back to the gallery. The pallid flames ate away the infernal flames of the Baali Ancient, and the Toreador warrior calmed briefly as he found the tunnel and disappeared.
Later, after Mary had fled the scene and the Concord had paid their respects to the ashes of the Patriarch, a number of them decided to find Sariel and see to his welfare. After finding a number of secret doors, tunnels, and ramps that honeycombed the walls of the massive subterranean church, they found him in what was obviously his haven, a small room decorated with mosaics and icons. Sariel lay torpid, collapsed roughly on his simple palate. He was a smoking, charred ruin, his eyes boiled out of his sockets and what was left of his clothing fried onto the remnants of his skin, but he still gripped the antique spatha that was gifted to him by the Patriarch. The Concord did their best to make him comfortable, fed him what Bloody Teeth they could spare, and left him to rest.
The next night, several of them returned to check on Sariel, only to find him gone.
Embrace: Unknown, but he was first active in AD 868.
Lineage: Adopted childe of Petronius; further lineage unknown, as is his generation. It is worth noting that Sariel truly believed that he was an incarnation of his namesake, the archangel that betrayed his vows and joined the Grigori. As such, he did not actually believe that he was Embraced, but rather that he was created by the wrath of God.