Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
Guy de Provence
This ancilla was an influential force in the Ventrue Crusader movement; he was the most prominent leader of the Fourth Cainite Crusade, and a powerful servant of his master and sire- Lord Dominius of Lombardy. Guy was slain by Belisarius in April of 1204.
A kingly Frankish knight, tall and barrel-chested, with fierce dark brown eyes. His brown hair was cropped short, and he wore a full, immaculately groomed beard. His armour and weapons wereof the finest quality, and his surcoat of good, crimson Flemish wool decorated with the colours of Provence as well as his own personal device. A cross was sewn onto the shoulder of his crimson cloak, which was trimmed with ermine. A silver signet ring set with a black lilly decorated his left pinky finger.
The coat-of-arms of Guy de Provence, Seigneur de Manosque, Commandant de la Quatrième Cainite Croisade, Duc de Corfou, Negroponte, Abydos, Chalcédoine et Scutari. His arms denoted his loyal vassalage to the mortal Count of Provence, as well as the sun in splendour (his own symbol), the sceptre of Clan Ventrue and the golden laurel wreath of his sire, Dominius.
Blazon: Per fess gules and or; in chief a wreath or, a sun in his splendour or and a scepter or, in base four pallets gules.
(Expanded from the character mentioned in Dark Ages Clan Novel: Nosferatu).
Guy de Provence took the cross for every major crusade to the Holy Land. He was a dedicated crusader, although some say that love of war and hatred of the Saracens motivated him more than any true piety. While he served in a a subordinate role on each of the first three crusades, he rose to a position of command in the fourth, having prepared his allies, resources and influence assiduously after Pope Innocent III declared it in AD 1198. Among the kine, he was known as the lord of Manosque and a vassal of Count Alfonso II of Provence, but since his feudal superor was not present on the crusade, he instead gave his support to Boniface, the marquis of Montferrat
In the early stages of the pilgrimage, some 20 Cainites followed his lead, and another 6 nominally approved of his leadership. This was fully four times the support that his nearest rival, Geoffrey of Richmond (childe of the Lasombra methuselah Boukephos) could gather. In the wake of the success of the attack on Constantinople in June of 1203, and the events surrounding Alexius IV’s Imperial Processional, scores of Cainite warriors flocked to the pilgrimage, and his power grew accordingly. He became styled as Duc Guy de Provence, much to the amusement or chagrin of his many detractors. As the crusade progressed, it gradually became clear that Guy’s hold on sanity, or perhaps over his Beast, had grown somewhat strained and when his dear friend Petrus the Troubadour was assassinated, his tolerance for “the betrayal of the Greeks” finally broke. Duke Guy of Provence declared a state of total war on the Cainites of the Dream, leading quickly into the resumption of hostilities and the calamitous folly that transpired during the Great Sack.
It is known that Guy was the natural son of William IV, the Bosonid Count of Provence. A precocious lad, with a great talent for leadership and warcraft, he would have made a fine count but it was not to be. William IV had no legitimate children of his own, and while he did not recognise Guy, he did see to his knightly education and security by placing him in the household of a trusted vassal in Nice. As an unrecognised bastard, Guy could never hope to attain what he felt should be his birthright, but even as a boy he hoped that William would one day favour him with his inheritance, and he worked hard towards those hopes. Alas, when William died in AD 1030, Guy the Bastard’s ambitions were utterly dashed when his uncles took full responsibility as co-Counts.
Fulk and Geoffrey were generous lords to both their vassals and the Church, perhaps too much so. Guy saw their allodial benificence as incompetence, and was proved right when the power of the Count of Provence was eroded. The Ventrue warden (sheriff) of Nice, Sir Hugh of Vernier, took notice of the boy’s talents, and kept an eye on him as he grew to adulthood. Guy’s ambition was undiminished. He became a secret agitator, looking to make friends and contacts who could propel a lowly bastard into political power.
When Guy earned his spurs, Hugh asked his own sire and prince, the elder Dominius, for permission to Embrace the talented knight. Dominius, ever a conservative master, was not so easily convinced, and had Hugh and his other loyal progeny, Sir Virgilio of Cambrio and Sir Gavriel of Bougniac, place innumerable obstacles in Guy’s path over the years. Guy overcame each one, learning the hard way to fight with his mind as well as his sword. As middle-age approached and he became aware that unseen opposition was destroying his dreams, his bitterness and wrath grew along with his cleverness. Soon, he began to hunt his secret tormentors, and with careful diligence, he uncovered them. When he tracked Sir Hugh to his haven one night, the three Ventrue ancillae met him with blades drawn while Prince Dominius looked on.
Guy could not hope to win. The undead knights toyed with him, taunting him for his weakness and bleeding him one small cut at a time. And yet, the mortal fought on with hate in his eyes and courage in his heart, refusing to yield even when hope was lost and he was wounded and exhausted. When he was too weak to lift his sword, but had still not given in, Dominius finally relented rather than let this man of great courage and will pass into death. But rather than let Sir Hugh Embrace him, the elder was sufficiently impressed to give Guy his own potent blood. Guy had finally earned his birthright, not as a noble of Provence but as a Scion of Clan Ventrue.
While Hugh was not Guy’s sire in the end, he was entrusted by Dominius with instructing the neonate in the ways of the Children of Caine, and the two men developed a great bond of friendship over the coming years. Guy served as deputy sheriff of Nice, and became respected for his ability to rally other Cainites and mortals to a cause. When Dominius elected to expand his power base by supporting the forth-coming First Crusade, his childer quickly followed suit. While Sir Virgilio was already inducted into the Knights of Blood and burdened with responsibilities at home, Sir’s Gavriel, Hugh, and Guy were all eager to head to the Levant and do their duty to both Lord and God. Gavriel was now an elder in his own right, and had gained entry into the storied Knights of the Lilly, an Order that was founded by the Ventrue Charlemagne, the same man who had once been Holy Roman Emperor and King of the Lombards and Franks. Gavriel arranged for Guy and Hugh to join the order as well, and the three set off on pilgrimage together. As an elder, a representative of Dominius, and a Knight of the Lilly, Sir Gavriel of Bougniac was one of the leaders of the First Cainite Crusade.
On campaign, the three of them made uneasy allies amongst the Antonian Ventrue of the Byzantine Empire. The alliance did well, contributing to taking Antioch and Edessa from the Saracens, and Sir Hugh was elected Prince of Edessa by the crusading Frankish Cainites. Sir Gavriel instructed Guy to remain with Sir Hugh as his warden (sheriff), and see the domain secured, while he would move on Jerusalem with the main host. While reluctant to lose the glory of regaining Jerusalem for Christendom, Guy understood his duty and was determined to serve his beloved brothers-in-blood to the best of his ability. Months later, word reached Edessa that Jerusalem had been taken, and a great unholy slaughter had commenced. Only one or two Cainites survived that Week of Blood- the rest, including Sir Gavriel and the Knights of the Lilly, had disappeared without a trace. Guy was sent to Jerusalem to investigate, but his efforts were in vain.
After serving Sir Hugh for nearly ten years, Guy was called home to Provence. Dominius, now a great lord among the Lombardic Ventrue and the Holy Roman Empire, had need of his services in the mortal courts. Guy served ably in this function for decades, until word reached them that Edessa had been retaken by the Saracens, and Sir Hugh had been destroyed by the Assamites in a bloody and hideous fashion. The Eastern Empire had promised reinforcements, but none had arrived. Dominius and Guy raged at the loss, and immediately threw their support behind the Second Crusade.
Guy served as a captain throughout the Second Crusade. He formed a small coterie with the Toreador Phillipe of Gresser and the Gangrel Gunthar of Sankt Wolfgang, and together they earned the admiration of their brothers in arms, both Cainite and kine. Sir Phillipe earned the displeasure of his sire, Andrew of Normandy for failing to shepherd the Knights Hospitaller during the Siege of Damascus, but Guy and Gunthar were both lauded for their courage.Gunthar would call upon this bond many decades later, to gain a prominent position during the Fourth Crusade.
On the Third Crusade, Guy once again served as a captain, but this time he had a larger coterie behind him, and was marked as a future leader among the Crusader Ventrue. Indeed, only Geoffrey du Temple, the childe of Alexander of Paris, and Jürgen von Verden, the childe of Hardestadt, outshone him. Guy earned just praise from Lucius Trebius Rufus at the Battle of Jaffa, and he managed to place a few Cainite vassals in that elder’s camp. At Jaffa, Guy also took note of the young hero, Sir Martin de Toulon, whom he would soon Embrace with Dominius’ permission.
Guy was one of the driving Cainite forces behind the Fourth Crusade, dedicated to the safety and reclamation of the Holy Land, as well as revenge on the Saracens for the loss of his beloved brothers-in-blood and countless brothers-in-arms. Aware of the crippling effect that multiple Cainite camps could have on an amalgamated military project, Guy strictly limited the amount of supernatural influence that his followers were allowed to bring to bear on the militi christi. Dominius appeared to share Guy’s misgivings on this front, for he made his progeny swear that no vampire sworn to his banner would exercise undue influence on the course of the holy pilgrimage. Guy chose to interpret this order as the use of Cainite Disciplines, but he was gradually forced to lift this stricture as the crusade spiralled ever further from his grasp.
Cracks began to wear at the army, even from the outset. Obstacles against the Army of God arose where none should have stood, and Guy was reminded of Cainite meddlings in his stymied mortal ambitions. The disastrous involvement of Venice delayed the army too long outside their city, and their machinations diverted the pilgrimage time and again. The mortal barons seemed to be stubbornly resistant to the mundane meddlings of their Cainite betters. The Lasombra neonate Geoffrey of Richmond managed to remove nearly 1000 troops from the crusade with his sly intrigues, and the mortal zealot Simon de Montfort took 2000 more to the service of the insulted Hungarian king, Emeric.
Countless delays and sabotage hampered his army, and wore at the nerves of Guy and his small council of advisors. Unsettling rumours abounded of interference from secretive coteries of Roman elders, and that Assamites quietly stalked the camp- bringing disease and selective murder. Guy became more isolated and careful, even paranoid, looking for enemies and informants where friends formerly stood.
At Zara, the sabotage of a vengeful Tzimisce bloodline almost humbled the army. He was forced to send the powerful coterie known as the Concord into a perilous mission hundreds of miles away to halt the attacks. His brave and knowledgeable comrade, Sir Gunthar, fell on that quest. At Corfu, he engineered the ousting of the obstinate Brujah prince, Aglaia, and later had her executed when she brought disease down on the island and the crusade, then threatened the Sixth Tradition with her vengeful attacks. Again, the Concord was once more instrumental in solving the crisis. Guy and the Tzimisce diplomat Knez Veceslav Basarab of Tihuta became fast friends owing to the exotic easterner’s charm, and Prince Iulia din Weissenburg’s political insights also earned a measure of his trust. The constant meddling, needling and moralising of Sister Maude of Vienna quickly alienated her from Guy, despite her usefulness, and he was glad to see her leave the crusade after the events of Corfu.
Afterwards, having changed his order to prohibit “unsanctioned meddling” on the crusade, Guy and his followers managed to regain a measure of momentum with regards to directing the pilgrimage. While a number of the mortal barons (particularly Boniface of Montferrat, Louis of Blois and Baldwin of Flanders) continued to avoid their efforts at control, some of their fellows fell under the influence of the Fourth Cainite Crusade. The victory over Constantinople in June of 1203 secured his authority over his fellows, and the subsequent Imperial Processional of Alexius IV built his status even higher. Guy placed loyal vassals in control of Negroponte, Andros, Abydos and Chrysopolis, and secured oaths of support from the princes of a number of Byzantine cities as well. By the turn of the new year, he was effectively a Cainite Lord, despite having no city of his own. In October of 1203, Dominius issued a proclamation rewarding his childe with the title of duke, and Guy wasted no time in openly styling himself as such, despite the slight danger to the Sixth Tradition (for Provence had a well-known mortal count, Alfonso II, but certainly no duke).
In the wake of his victories, other Cainite flocked to his banner by the score. It is thought that more than sixty vampires answered to him by December of 1203, and that more than a few of them were little better than mercenaries hoping for a resumption of hostilities. He maintained a core of loyal (and not so loyal) captains that had been with him from the start of the campaign, but there was talk that he would soon promote others to stand with them. His ego grew with his success, and his patience diminished, but he seemed to regain the composure of yesteryear. Publicly stating that the debt to the Venetians must be met before winter’s end or the Cainite Crusade would have no choice but use their infuence on their mortal contemporaries to resume the war against the Queen of Cities, he cynically waited for his demands to be met, though reluctantly acquiescing to the wise and generous temperament of his friend, Petrus, who held out hope that a lasting peace could be made.
His faith was very nearly rewarded. A hastily formed alliance of wealthy Cainites loyal to the Dream approached his agents, and assured them that the debt could be satisfied given a little more time, but they wished a formal treaty as guarantee. It was a clever move for as a walker on the via Regalis, once Duke Guy’s oath were given, it would imperil his sanity and soul if he were to break it. A summit would be held on neutral ground, at a villa on the island of Prínkēpos, the largest of the Princes’ Islands several miles south of the capital.
Unfortunately, the meeting was a disaster for assassins found the villa and attacked both sides. The Lexor BrujahSir Conrad de Monreal murdered Petrus along with Pietro Ancini of the Serene Brotherhood.
With them died the last of the peacemakers among the Cainite Crusade, and despite evidence that Sir Conrad was compelled through Domination, Duke Guy’s patience was exhausted. Grief-stricken and furious, he soon declared war on the Dream, citing old betrayals along with new. His followers needed little encouragement, as all too many of them were far more thirsty for glory, wealth, and domain over a distant war with the infidels. Soon enough, whether propelled by their own venality or manipulated by the vampires in their midst, the mortal crusaders followed suit. By March of 1204, war erupted once more.
Duke Guy did everything in his power to whip both mortals and immortals into a frenzy of bloodlust and hate. When the walls were finally breached on the 12th of April, he was ready. Despite the appeals of his chivalrous progeny, Sir Martin, he attacked the city without restraint and directed his thralls to do the same. He personally led the assault on the Citadel of Petrion that defeated and broke the Baron’s Gangrel. Guy and his followers were also responsible for the sacking of the Senate House of the Lexor Brujah and the Church of Christ Pantokrator (home of Symeon and his secular Obertus followers). On the third night of the Great Sack, he drove his followers on to the Great Palace, hoping for a reckoning with the last holdouts of the Antonians. Instead, he found the complex already deserted and looted, and Caius’ throne room the site of a great slaughter. Evidence was found, however, that some of the Byzantine Ventrue had taken refuge at the Palace of Mangana.
Spoiling for revenge, Duke Guy drove his men hard to make the palace before his prey could escape. Belisarius found him first. Together with a hastily assembled coterie of terrifyingly powerful elders and skilled ancilla, the wily old general ambushed the Latin interlopers. At first Guy and his men seemed to have the advantage, driving a detachment of Varangians led by Edmund Godwinson and Oleg Vladimirovich before them. Once the enemy retreated before the palace entrance, however, Guy realised too late that the retreat of the Varangians was a ploy. The enemy came at them from all directions, attacking with blinding speed and without mercy. In addition to Belisarius, Oleg, and Edmund, their number included the Assamites Shabah and Tegyrius, the Malkavian known as the Nameless and his two elder progeny, a particularly furious Brujah elder they called Phaedrus, and no less than five other Cainites who had once served as Varangians.
At the end of the fray, with Guy’s minions all dead, dying, or slipping into torpor, Belisarius approached the heavily wounded and exhausted duke to finish him off. Legend has it that the duke of the Cainite Crusade met his Final Death with cold rage and determination, still hurling insults and challenges as the old general wordlessly struck Guy’s head from his shoulders.
Even many years after his destruction, Guy of Provence is still a divisive figure. In the Holy Roman Empire and France he is mourned by his clan-mates as the Ventrue who finally broke the back of Antonius’ descendants and revenged the West on the arrogant easterners who abandoned Rome. In the Byzantine East, many Cainites spit upon his memory as a dangerously mad warlord obsessed with revenging imaginary wrongs — a prime examplar of the ignorant, barbaric, and greedy western vampires that despoiled their Dream.
Embrace: AD 1054.
Final Death: 14th April, AD 1204.
(d?)= Probably destroyed