Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
The heraldry of the Árpáds, based upon a symbol that they have used since the early years of the 11th century. Common Cainite variations on this heraldry include the addition of a black wolf (Bulcsú), a griffon (Zombar), a lion (Vencel), a cross (Géza), a tower (Nova) or the combination of several of these motifs.
The Man of Blood
The Horka (war chief) known as Bulcsú emerged in the years after the Battle of Pressburg in AD 907. A talented captain and a master of intrigue, he became known as an indispensable aide to his kinsman, the Grand Prince Zoltán, who was the son and heir to the great warrior known as Árpád. It is thought that by this time, Bulcsú was already the ghoul of Dominic, whom he must have met in the earlier Magyar dealings with the Byzantine Empire. The great Carthaginian warlord used his mastery of Auspex to direct Bulcsú in battle, and together they led the Hungarian Tribal Confederation to stunning victory after victory against the arrayed forces of Europe. For the forty years of Zoltán’s rule and on into that of Taksony, Bulcsú was a willing thrall to the will of Dominic, hoping for the Embrace that the Carthaginian dangled before his eyes. The Brujah warlord’s great enemy, the Ventrue lord known as Heinrich von Volstag, had waged a long and skilled fight against Dominic, but he was losing. However, he had one final gambit to play. Somehow, the crafty methuselah managed to break Bulcsú’s blood bond and turn the horka with promises of the Embrace into the Clan of Kings.
On the eve of the Battle of Lechfeld in AD 955, Bulcsú staked Dominic before he could rise. Believing him slain, the ghoul and his retinue then entered the castle to swear fealty to the German methuselah. Without the leadership of the horka and the genius of the Brujah, the Hungarian Confederation was defeated and forced to turn from their ambition of conquest. And when Bulcsú emerged, he did so a Ventrue and a vassal of Heinrich von Volstag
A New Realm
Bulcsú spent less than a year learning at the feet of his sire, before travelling back to Pannonia, where his people had elected to settle and build a homeland. He was accompanied by his consanguineous brother Gregor von Naumberg, a fellow neonate and advisor on all matters German and Christian, as well as a coterie of Heinrich von Volstag’s loyal vassals. Together they swiftly established Bulcsú’s claim over Esztergom and Gregor’s over Pressburg. Many of Heinrich’s other vassals would soon establish demesnes further east and south.
During this time, Bulcsú also Embraced his son, Zombar, who had replaced him as horka after Lechfeld. Zombar was fearless, intelligent and possessed of a similar flair for intrigue as his father. He swiftly established Domain over the old Avar fortresses at what is now Buda and Pest, making his own haven on the northern tip of the long Danubian island between them. The next forty years saw constant conflict with the Tzimisce voivodes of the region, and Zombar sired freely among their kin to bolster the ranks against the constant attrition, and also to eliminate familial threats to the gradually centralising Magyar state. Through skill, ingenuity, the backing of Heinrich von Volstag and more than a little luck, Bulcsú and his allies succeeded. Indeed, not a few Tzimisce voivodes farther east took the opportunity to weaken the holdings of their western brethren while they were indisposed with the new Árpád threat, thus critically weakening the politico-military structure of the Transylvanian Basin for the conflicts to come.
Unlike Zombar, Bulcsú had been hesitant to bring across more progeny at first. However, he watched the career of the Grand Prince Géza closely, and was deeply impressed with the moral flexibility and creativity of the would-be king. He considered Géza to be a fine and worthy prospective childe and Embraced the dying ruler on his deathbed in AD 992. Unfortunately, in this case Bulcsú had underestimated the apparently cavalier manner in which Géza had adopted Christianity. The newly created fledgeling had, in fact, expected to find his rewards in heaven, and though he was horrified at his new “life” he elected to settle sullenly into his new existence rather than condemn himself to certain hell by committing suicide. Bulcsú allowed Géza to risk the Sixth Tradition and continue openly as grand prince for a number of years, and eventually rewarded him with Esztergom when he decided to concentrate once more upon conquest.
He found a more able and suitable childe in Vencel Rikard, a young Bavarian knight that had served in Géza’s royal bodyguard. The honourable and skilled soldier intrigued the Man of Blood, and he elected to Embrace Sir Vencel despite Géza’s protests that he wasn’t family. The resulting rivalry between Géza and Vencel quickly descended into acrimony, but both Ventrue followed the lead of their older brother-in-blood, Zombar, and busied themselves with the birth of the Hungarian nation.
Expansion, Consolidation and Setbacks
In the years to come, the now-powerful Árpád faction would push their mortal dynastic pawns to step up their campaigns of conquest into Slavonia, Croatia and the eastern Transylvanian Basin. This put them into further conflict with the scattered, feuding factions of the Tzimisce Voivodate, as well as the Narsene Lasombra of Venice and other elements of the fractured provincial Scion Families of the Byzantine Empire.
Lord Bulcsú himself led cadres of his kin, as well as those German Ventrue that had not elected to return to Heinrich’s lands, on scores of raids against Tzimisce, Gangrel, Lasombra, and Brujah interests in the south and east. He first contrived to have the armies of King Salomon and his cousins, Duke’s László, Lampert and Géza, push into Transylvaniain after AD 1068, which was over-run by Pecheneg hordes that were now threatening Hungary’s eastern borders. His grand-childe Jelek, then the Cainite Dux Bellorum of Hungary, cleverly used the Magyar armies to scour, pillage, and plunder those Vlach and Slav potentates that resisted, thus rooting out or weakening dozens of Tzimisce knezates. When the Pechenegs were soundly beaten back, the Hungarians decided to stay, over the objections of the weakened local Vlach and Slav nobles.
This strategy caused massive internal disruption among Clan Tzimisce, as weakened voivodes and their subordinate knezi were displaced or destroyed not just by the Ventrue, but by their own opportunistic clan-mates. The policy was a success, and the region was completely subdued and incorporated into a Greater Hungarian nation by AD 1070. Then, news of the sudden death of his treasured son, childe and second, Zombar, reached Lord Bulcsú while he was encamped at Nagyvárad in the winter of AD 1071. Witnesses claimed that the Yuletide festivities had sent the ancilla into a brooding melancholy, and he was overheard to whisper numerous times “Eternity in front, Eternity behind”, “Is there nothing else?” and “Slave; nothing but a pathetic slave!”. As the new year passed, Zombar erupted into a terrifying frenzy, slaughtered his entire court and retinue, and then met his Final Death at sunrise in the public square of Buda. This disruption of the Silence of the Blood and the Árpád hierarchy could not have been more poorly timed, and they required the Man of Blood’s personal attention. He and his loyal bodyguard, Vencel Rikard, rushed back to Buda to halt any fracturing of the Árpáds in the wake of this disaster. The cost was heavy, for while the East had been beaten, it was far from broken.
As a delaying tactic, Bulcsú soon had (now) King Ladislaus invite the Szeklers that formed the vanguard of the armies to stay in the east of the region, not just to form a bulwark against the Cumans and the Byzantine Empire but also to keep the rebellious Slavic and Vlach magnates and communes in check. The Szeklers served as able pawns to keep the Tzimisce Voivodate off-balance but, even then, Lord Bulcsú knew that this strategy could only delay a counter-attack from the Clan of the Dragon. The Árpáds were too few, and too young, to face the entirety of a massed and united Voivodate. They needed the armies of the King of Hungary to give them mastery of the daylight war on the Fiends, but the kingdom had grown too quickly, and had become unstable.
Dynastic intrigues (with more than a little urging by Bulcsú) caused King László to declare the union of the Kingdom’s of Hungary and Croatia in AD 1091. In the wake of the Árpád armies, Dux Bellorum Jelek Árpád was sent to pacify the Cainites of Slavonia and Croatia. At length, his campaign was successful, and many more Tzimisce knezi as well as Brujah and Lasombra princes fell to he and his skilled coterie. Jelek would continue with the armies all the way to the Dalmatian Coast, and finally declared his mission a success with the capitulation of the Prince of Zara in AD 1096. A significant asset to his coterie was the neonate Karol Borbás, a talented soldier and captain who had been Embraced by one of Jelek’s coterie-mates, Rachel Eisenberg. The Dux Bellorum returned to Hungary a hero, every bit the redeemer of his failed father and sire, the tragic Zombar.
By the turn of the 12th century, Bulcsú was one of the wealthiest and most promising Cainite Lords in Europe, and he had begun testing the leash of Heinrich von Volstag, who had taken to spending considerable periods of time in torpor. As the power of the Árpáds waxed, the power of the Lord of the Eastern Marches (only recently redubbed Brandenburg) was clearly on the wane. Wolves were circling the methuselah’s holdings in the west, and Lord Bulcsú was heard to say that it was only a matter of time before the minions of Hardestadt struck. Should the Árpáds not stand alone? The Man of Blood had already outstripped the power of his ancient sire, having already made himself Lord of Hungary, Slavonia, Croatia, Dalmatia and Transylvania. Why not make his ascendancy official? The Man of Blood was soon ready, and in AD 1118, he publicly broke with his sire and led a bloody purge of his own ranks, thus ensuring that their loyalty was to him alone. Even his brother-in-blood, Gregor of Pressburg, readily bent his knee in order to keep his head. Bulcsú crowned himself king of his lands, signalling a shift in Cainite political dynamics that would eventually trend across Europe with the eruption of the War of Princes in recent times.
For his part, the venerable Heinrich von Volstag rebuked and disowned both Bulcsú and Gregor, though he was too weak to truly do anything about it. His power continued to dwindle over the course of the next few decades, until he surrendered his title and lands to Lord Jürgen von Verden of Saxony in AD 1162. He would soon retire from Cainite politics, and in the many years since, nothing has been heard of the once powerful Lord of the Eastern Marches. Some say that he has surrendered to the weariness of the truly ancient and entered the Sleep of Ages, while others claim that one of such cunning would never take such defeat and humiliation so meekly, and even now he must be engineering the downfall of Bulcsú, Gregor and Jürgen from the shadows. Whatever the case, only time will tell.
The Vengeful Dragons
Unfortunately, no sooner had Bulcsú crowned himself king than a familiar enemy from the east roared a new challenge. A new voivode had arisen in the wilds between Arad and Varad, where the plains of the Alföld met the foothills of the Apuseni Mountains. This voivode, Vladimir Rustovich, was every bit as ruthless and treacherous as Bulcsú himself. He managed to unite more than a dozen knezi behind his banner before launching a horrific “Trial by War” against Joachim von Bayern, the prince of Arad and one of Bulcsú and Gregor’s original brothers-in-arms. After a protracted conflict, Rustovich took Arad in AD 1128, claiming Joachim’s demesnes for his own and making a grisly example of the Ventrue. The Árpáds, even King Bulcsú himself, were shocked by this outcome, though not enough to bring the full force of their power to bear. The Man of Blood instead began mobilising his mortal pawns as he had done in the past, and sent his Dux Bellorum to the east to deal with the matter.
Jelek based himself out of Varad, in the domain of Prince Guntbert von Sachsen, another companion-at-arms of old. Unfortunately, the expected mortal aid did not arrive in sufficient numbers to provide a telling advantage, and the skirmishing only prompted Rustovich to declare a new Trial by War on Prince Guntbert and his city. This time, several other voivodes entered the fray, but as Rustovich’s sworn vassals, not to take advantage of his preoccupation with the Ventrue. Even more disastrously, Hungarian knights and soldiers that should have been loyal to Bulcsú’s pawns rose up on the Tzimisce’s side as well! Varad fell in the summer of AD 1131, and this time, every Árpád paid attention. While Dux Bellorum Jelek managed to flee to safety, Prince Guntbert fell while defending his dominion.
A package was soon sent to each of the Árpád courts of Esztergom, Pressburg, Veszprém, and Székesfehérvár, each holding a magically preserved and still twitching extremity of the fallen Prince of Varad. A final delivery arrived in the court of Prince Vencel in Buda-Pest, where King Bulcsú was holding court. The delivery was an urn holding the animated head of Guntbert, which recited the following:
“The Hungarian occupation of Pannonia and Transylvania will end immediately; All Ventrue must immediately quit our lands after removing their armies; renewed acknowledgement of the sole rights of the Tzimisce to these lands must be given immediately; if any of these conditions for your surrender are ignored, you will suffer a fate far more dire than that of this worm.”
With the end of the recitation, the eyes of the severed head of Guntbert took on the awful recognition of his surroundings and his condition before the remains swiftly crumbled to dust.
The gauntlet had been thrown. The war in the East was back on, and would not end while Voivode Rustovich continued to exist. King Bulcsú’s deepest fears had also been realised. Not only had someone apparently managed to unite the fractious Clan of the Dragon, but if the events of Varad were to be believed, they had also bested him at his own game of manipulating the mortal nobles, chiefs, and captains of the kingdom. A message went out to the Árpád princes, offering rich rewards and the domains of Varad and Arad to those who accepted the call and brought the humbled Rustovich (or his remains) before the king. Many ambitious neonates, and not a few ancillae, answered.
The late Jelek, Prince of Sopron and Dux Bellorum of Hungary.
The War of Griffons and Dragons
In AD 1133, Dux Bellorum Jelek led a new Cainite army to the borders of Transylvania and a terrible war for rulership of the night raged for nearly eight years. Under the pretext of ambitious vassals either taking advantage of the weak provincial rule and later the increasingly drunken incapacity of King Béla the Blind, the shadow war was the most vicious yet to plague Hungary at the instigations of the undead. The conflict was one of bloody attrition and deadly ambuscade, betrayal, intrigue amongst the mortal nobility, and of willful slaughter of the peasantry that provided the sustenance to both sides. It was the finest hour of Jelek and the bloodline of the late Zombar, for they had always been chosen for their skill at war-making and they fought the Dragons well. The griffon standard of the dux became synonymous in the courts of the East with courage, cunning, and prowess, even spawning a small secular order of Cainite knighthood in Hungary. Alas, however, brave Jelek, Dux Bellorum of the Árpáds, was slain in personal combat with Vladimir Rustovitch himself in AD 1139. After his destruction, Vencel Rikard was named his successor and the war ground on for two more years.
Finally, the Árpáds were thrown back, unable to contend with the strange magics of the Fiends’ koldunic sorcerers. However, while the Ventrue lost the war their sacrifice was not in vain, for they managed to mentally exhaust and disastrously winnow the ranks of Rustovich’s army. It would take many years for the newly-proclaimed Voivode of Voivodes to recover, for while he had won a moral victory against the Hungarian Ventrue, he also had to contend with his opportunistic rivals among the Fiends.
Jelek and his followers had bought the Árpáds time. Now, they needed a plan to use it…
The Council of Ashes
Nova Árpád, the brilliant childe of Prince Gregor of Pressburg, was the first to find advantage with the situation. Her pawns in the Hungarian court discovered that the Árpád king, Géza II, was dissatisfied with the tenuous balance of power in the Transylvanian basin and was considering his options. Among them was the possibility of inviting eager Franconian, Lotharingian, Saxon, Bavarian, and Thuringian settlers into the region to bolster the borders against the Cumans in the south-east and the remnants of the Pecheneg clans in the north. An experienced intriguer who had served her sire as seneschal for decades, Nova eagerly made her plans for placing pawns amongst those Germans that arrived in Hungary to petition for King Géza’s favour.
The brilliant courtier moved slowly, using guile and initiative to outwit the other Árpáds over nearly ten years of court and foreign intrigue. She enlisted the aid of Karol Borbás, who was still spoiling for vengeance for the loss of his friend Jelek, as well as many other sword-brothers who had gone to the Final Death at the hands of Rustovich and his minions. It was he who suggested that plans be made to establish their dominion well behind the borders of the arrogant so-called “Voivode of Voivodes”. Heinricus von Ballen, a Franconian Toreador related to several of the mortal lobbyists, also proved receptive to her overtures of alliance. Numerous merchants, landless but ambitious Holy Roman Imperial knights and edlers as well as more than a few Hungarian nobles, greedy for the abundant resources and land of Transylvania, were gradually brought under their sway.
Even so, the serendipitous disappearance of the powerful Tzimisce methuselah known as Ionache in AD 1149 forced the hand of the nascent alliance before they were strictly ready. It would only be a matter of time before the dangerous calmness that settled over central Transylvania would be shattered by the internecine power struggles of the Clan of the Dragon, as younger knezi gathered the courage to make a play for the territory of the absentee former Voivode of Voivodes of yore. Time was of the essence, and Nova presented ‘her’ plan for outflanking the Tzimisce to Bulcsú. The Man of Blood was impressed and quickly granted the ancilla a charter.
Géza II soon made an offer to the Germans, who quickly fell under the misleading term of ‘Saxon" due to the large and familiar numbers of men from that land who had already long worked to bring the king’s mines up to standard. The only obvious weakness in the plan was the allies of convenience that Nova, Karol and Heinricus were forced to adopt in order to move into the region with the alacrity that was required. Very few of the Árpáds were prepared to risk their reputation and unlives on such a risky undertaking, so the newly formed Council of Ashes was forced to take outsiders for allies. The Tzimisce Radu proved to be a surprising asset, and the respected elder Rowena d’Alexandre of Clan Cappadocian lent an air of legitimacy to the enterprise. The Nosferatu Marusca was far from ideal, in spite of the contributions of her sire, Zelios, and her extensive information network, but her knowledge of the region proved to be an asset. Only the venal, petty Charles von Stablo-Allstedt merely made up the numbers, for the knight was clearly unequal to the task of carving a settlement from the wilderness.
In spite of its hasty implementation, the plan was a success. The Council of Ashes performed admirably, and the Seven Fortress cities quickly eclipsed any attempts at regional order, civilisation, and trade that had come before. The Tzimisce were on the back foot, the coffers of the Árpáds (both living and unliving) swelled with silver, and the reputation of Bulcsú and his kin was unparalleled. The Man of Blood, perhaps bored with his success or simply reverting to type, began to delegate more and more duties to Vencel, Gregor, Nova and even Géza while he began to retire into the shadows to enjoy the fruits of his labours. His intrigues henceforth would be conducted through proxies, most notably his beloved childe and sword-brother, Vencel Rikard, and his appearances in the courts of his lords and princes became fewer and fewer. By AD 1170, the speculation of his whereabouts became a common pastime in the courts of Greater Hungary.
Factionalisation and Failure
Alas, by 1190, the failure of the Council of Ashes was strikingly apparent. Karol Borbás had fallen, and failed to contain the threat of Vlad Ionescu, Rustovich’s lieutenant. Meanwhile, Charles von Stablo-Allstedt, Heinricus von Ballen, Rowena d’Alexandre, and a number of their replacements had perished among a spate of failure, infighting, petty ambition, and misadventure. The expected materialisation of the Man of Blood to deal with the matter did not, however, take place, and the advantage against the Clan of the Dragon was lost. Brought across from a family renowned for their treachery and greed, the majority of the bloodline have embraced their own pettiness and waste their time engaged in factional politics and pointless diversions. The Árpáds have lost their cohesion, given the lax hand of their master, and they have become mired in trivial intrigues and useless rivalries.
They have become loosely divided into three camps. Géza sits in the capital, preoccupied with his designs on the Archdiocese of Esztergom while his descendants vie for supremacy with the supporters of Vencel, who advocate the unity of the bloodline behind Bulcsú’s favourite. Buda-Pest is strong economically, and Rikard’s reputation for honour and wisdom is unrivalled, but he is an outsider: a Bavarian, not a Magyar, and certainly not a true Árpád in the minds of some. Gregor, the Prince of Pressburg, is King Bulcsú’s powerful older brother-in-blood, and some look to him for leadership in these troubled times, yet he seems content to stay focused on management of his own city, and he readily courts the favour and friendship of the Holy Roman Imperial Ventrue (especially Lord Jürgen’s Eastern Lords). Released from a long and secret imprisonment in AD 1199, Lady Nova faces an uphill battle with diminished resources to keep the Council of Ashes viable, and she is currently considered a spent force.
Meanwhile. certain among the most bellicose of the Tzimisce close in on the borders of Hungary proper, pushing ever further westward onto the Alföld and making their presence felt among the Saxon cities of the Siebenburgen. Rustovich, the Voivode among Voivodes, and his unusually united supporters continue to contend wth their Ventrue rivals in both regional and royal politics, largely countering the advantage that Bulcsú’s minions once took for granted. It is clear to their more westerly clanmates that the divided and beleaguered Árpáds lack the strength to hold the line. Retreat and consolidation is the order of the night, and the reputation of the Árpáds of Hungary is suffering among the princes of Europe and especially amongst the Cainites of Clan Ventrue, who are intolerant of failure and defeat. Speculation abounds in the West regarding just how long it will take the Árpáds to find their backbones, or how long they can survive the ambitions of the Tzimisce (or, indeed, the Eastern Lords and other Holy Roman Imperial Ventrue) if they fail to do so…
With the strong pressure being brought to bear by the Clan of the Dragon, a formative alliance sprung up between Jürgen von Verden and the Árpáds in AD 1210. His envoy to the court of Esztergom, Baron Heinrich managed to convince King András II that the Teutonic Order would serve the throne by countering the Cuman threat in the south and east of Transylvania. In a rare moment of unity, elements of the Árpáds saw the potential to throw back the Tzimisce momentum and regain the front foot on their second front. For now, the courageous and bellicose stratagems of the Order of the Black Cross, the military arm of the Eastern Lords, has stabilised the Burzenland, and things might finally be looking up for the Árpáds. Some worry, however, if this is just the first volley in a larger war that will leave the bloodline increasingly irrelevant.
A List of Prominent Árpáds in the Kingdom of Hungary.
Throughout the western provinces of the realm, the hegemony of the Árpád Ventrue is still unchallenged. Although Bulcsú has seemingly slipped into the shadows and Vencel and Géza ceaselessly intrigue for the upper hand in their rivalry, the strong foundations set down by the bloodline throughout the 9th-11th centuries hold them in good stead against their many enemies. Here the oldest, strongest, wisest, and most cunning princes of the bloodline have established their power, often by claiming an influential noble family (or three) and subborning the royally appointed ispáns who rule over the mortal folk of their counties. Hungary is a land of villages more cities, and these ancillae use the military strength afforded them by their influence to rule over lesser princes either of their own descent or of clans not so august in their local pedigree. In addition ot Ventrue of other bloodlines, numerous vassal princes (snidely called “princelings” by some Árpáds) of Toreador, Lasombra, Gangrel, Nosferatu, Cappadocian, and even Tremere are known. No Brujah take their places among these vassals, for the agitations of the Brujah warlord Dominic have left the Hungarian Ventrue mistrustful and intolerant of the Zealots.
Bulcsú, Monarch of Hungary, Transylvania, Slavonia, Dalmatia and Croatia (6th generation ancilla, childe of Heinrich von Volstag, e. 955). The Man of Blood is the progenitor of the Árpáds; their mastermind, puppetmaster, captain-general, and king. In times past, he travelled widely between the demesnes of his underlings, coordinating their influence over the highly changeable potentates of the provinces and manipulating his royal kin directly to ensure courtly appointments that benefitted the bloodline. However, he has long since stepped into the shadows to leave his lessers to engage in their petty intrigues and rivalries, and little substantive sign has been found of him since the turn of the 13th century. Some believe he has stepped behind the curtain to draw out his enemies, while other, darker rumours suggest that his carnal nature has finally overtaken him and Bulcsú spends his time in a never-ending orgy of blood and sex. Bulcsú’s current whereabouts are unknown, but he was known to favour Esztergom, Buda-Pest, and Székesfehérvár above all other settlements in Hungary. Since his relationship with Géza was far from warm, it is speculated that he makes his haven in either of the latter two cities.
Géza Árpád, “Archbishop” of Esztergom (7th generation ancilla, childe of Bulcsú, e. 992). The oldest of the surviving progeny of the Man of Blood, Géza has a reputation for being both puritanically religious and a scheming, petty manipulator. His allusions towards the sainthood and salvation that he felt was his right in life have found purchase with obsessing about the state of his soul in undeath. Indeed, he sometimes holds court in the Church of the Magdelene, apparently for the benefit of all the souls of the Cainites who would attend him. At such times, particularly sensitive Cainites have been disquieted by the young choir boys who appear to serve as the prince’s herd. Géza never leaves the episcopal district of his city, but he need not do so to make his influence felt, for like a bloated spider he sits in the middle of an immense web of vampire descendants who hold court over many of the towns and cities of the land. Although he has never declared himself as such, he is recognised as the Vampire Lord of much of the central and certainly the northern heartlands of the kingdom. Esztergom (population 8600) stands on the east bank of the Danube, thirty miles north-west of Buda-Pest, seventy miles east of Posony, 111 miles east of Vienna, eighty-five miles west of Gyöngyös, and 116 miles west of Eger.
Vencel Rikard, Prince of Buda-Pest & Dux Bellorum of Hungary (7th generation, childe of Bulcsú, e. 1013). A valiant Bavarian knight who once served the mortal Géza when his consanguineous brother was yet the mortal Grand Prince of Hungary, Sir Vencel was brought across for his stalwart loyalty, courage, skill at arms, and stoic constancy — notably all traits that Géza lacked. He would serve their sire as bodyguard and champion for decades before the suicide of Zombar placed Vencel in the position of de facto and later actual prince of Buda and Pest. Over the course of the 12th century, Rikard has developed a reputation for being not just an able and just ruler but also a noted mentor for many who walk on the via equitum, also known as the Road of Chivalry. Though it has never been officially proclaimed, through his many loyal progeny, he is effect the Vampire Lord of much of central and southern Hungary in addition to parts of Croatia and Slavonia. His touch is light, but he has considerable status and influence as King Bulcsú’s Dux Bellorum and also as sire to Joszef Erdei, the Knight-Captain of the small but impressive fellowship of Cainite knights known as the Order of the Griffon. Rikard is a popular Paladin, known as the Lion of Buda for the songs that are sung of his deeds in the Cainite courts of Hungary and the Holy Roman Empire. Buda and Pest (population 12100) stand on either side of the Danube, forty miles north-east of Székesfehérvár, some thirty miles south-east of Esztergom, 100 miles east-south-east of Posony, and 141 miles east-south-east of Vienna.
Gregor von Naumburg, Prince of Preßburg (6th generation elder, childe of Heinrich von Volstag, e. 930). The oldest of the Árpáds, albeit only by a couple of decades, the sly and charming Gregor was an early advocate for his consanguineous brother, Bulcsú, as well as serving as a tutor in German custom, language, and politics. When the kingdom took shape, he was rewarded with the border castle of Posony, but Gregor has always preferred use of the German name of Preßburg for his domain. He proved to lack the courage of his convictions when the Man of Blood broke with their sire, choosing his head and his domain over loyalty to Volstag, and this capitulation emboldened a number of their companions to do the same. Under his smooth guidance, his border city has gradually grown to become one of the most prosperous in the entire kingdom, and his wealth and influence have grown alongside them. Like Vencel and Géza, his reach extends to other counties through his loyal childer, and he is de facto Vampire Lord of the counties that border Austria and Styria, even if he has never declared such. Posony (population 10300) stands on the banks of the Danube, just forty-one miles down-stream of Vienna, seventy miles west of Esztergom, and 100 miles west-north-west of Buda-Pest.
Jutas Árpád, Prince of Székesfehérvár (8th generation ancilla, childe of Zombar Árpád [d], e. 972). The oldest surviving and most influential of the progeny of the late Zombar, first childe and son of Bulcsú, Jutas is very much the quiet power among the older princes of the Árpáds. In life, he was the son of Grand Prince Fajsz, who was himself the grandson of great Árpád and cousin to Géza, an egotist who would go on to hack many of the limbs from the family tree in a bloody purge before eventually finding the Becoming at the fangs of Bulcsú himself. Zombar brought Jutas across after an assassin’s blade found him, just as he would go on to rescue others from Géza’s murderous designs over the following years. His sire would later set up Jutas in Székesfehérvár as a guard against outside meddling on the royal residence there, and Jutas has reigned as prince in that capital ever since. Although he has few vassals, many of the other descendants of Zombar follow his lead, making him a noted power among the Árpáds. Jutas has never forgiven Géza for his mortal assassination, and thus he and his fellows are valuable allies to Vencel Rikard against the designs of the prince of Esztergom. Székesfehérvár (population 4420) stands twenty miles to the north-east of the shores of Lake Balaton, twenty-seven miles east of Veszprém, and forty miles to the south-west of Buda-Pest.
Mihály Árpád, Prince of Sopron (8th generation ancilla, childe of Zombar Árpád [d], e. 985). In life the younger brother of Grand Prince Géza, who would go on to find the Embrace at the fangs of Bulcsú, Mihály was ever the loyal sibling. A somewhat retiring soul despite his intelligence skill at war, he was content to work for the benefit of the much older brother whom he worshipped as a father figure after the death of Taksony. He accepted a dynastic marriage to a Bulgarian princess, subdued the restive Slavs of Nitra and Trencsén, and worked ceaselessly for the benefit of the family in support of his brother, even through Géza’s cruel and bloody purges upon their cousins. Mihály’s loyalty appealed to Zombar, and he brought the young man across in AD 985, a full seven years before Géza’s own Becoming. Perhaps owing to the gentler and more informed circumstances of his Embrace, undeath suited Mihály markedly more than his brother, and in the early years he was an asset to the Árpád bloodline. He would establish himself as Prince of Nitra for a time, where he quietly worked to ameliorate the damage done by his brother and see to the survival of his own mortal descendants. However, in the year 1060 he was almost slain by a werewolf attack, and he slipped into a heavy torpor for many years. Upon his reemergence, whatever ambition he formerly had seemed to have deserted him, and rather than seek his city back from his son and consanguineous brother, Ladislas the Bald, Mihály happily served him as a seneschal and advisor for much of the 12th century, attempting to salve the worst of the hate that he held for Géza. It did little good, and when Ladislas made it clear that his advice was no longer welcome, Mihály quit Nitra and made his way to the domain of Jelek, where he served the Dux Bellorum as seneschal of Sopron until his heroic demise in 1139. Despite his apparent reluctance, he was the natural choice for the throne afterwards, and Mihály quietly rules there to this night. Although he doesn’t involve himelf in the intrigues that otherwise bedevil the bloodline, he is still nominally an ally of Géza of Estergom, for whom he still harbours great affection despite the bitter years and the trespasses of grievous intrigues. His filial love is returned, and indeed it is thought that his advice is perhaps the only thing that can gentle the cruelties of the “Archbishop” of Esztergom.
Ladislas Debroi Árpád, Prince of Veszprém (8th generation ancilla, childe of Zombar Árpád [d], e. 1028). Called László the Bald or Ladislas the Pole by his kin, in his mortal years the prince of Veszprém was the duke of Nitra and the nephew of Grand Prince Géza, who sought to imperil, disinherit, and even murder him on several occasions. The last of these attacks necessitated László’s flight to the court of Bolesław the Brave, Duke (later king) of Poland. There he lived in anonymity for years, going by the name of Ladislas Debroi and fully adopting Slavic custom and language, before returning to the stage as a vassal of the Duke of Poland in his wars against Géza’s son, István I. His mortal intrigues were eventually undone, and Ladislas returned to Poland and anonymity, hiding under the protection of his undead father, Mihály. In due course the machinations of Zombar would cause him to be brought across into the ranks of the Árpád undead to serve as a diplomat to the bloodlines of Polish, Czech, and Silesian Ventrue, who then had the potential to be strong allies against the Tzimisce. He would eventually replace Mihály as the prince of his beloved Nitra, and would preside over that prosperous town for more than a century in its prime. Resentful of the travails of his mortal life, Ladislas always agitated against Géza of Esztergom, and in return he would eventually be ousted by the intrigues of the “archbishop” and his progeny, István the Monk. It would take another thirty years for Ladislas to recover his resources, but instead of a useless attempt at regaining his old domain, he instead took the more vulnerable Veszprém from Judit, another childe of Géza, thereby securing the flank of his new ally Vencel Rikard and gaining control over the prestigious cathedral schools sponsored by the royal family. He has a reputation for being unusually morose and humourless among his sybaritic kin, a tendency confirmed by his devotion to his Cappadocian Keeper and consort, Gizella. Veszprém stands twenty-seven miles west of Székesfehérvár and perhaps nine miles north of the nearest shores of Lake Balaton.
Béla Árpád, Prince of Visegrád (8th generation ancilla, childe of Géza Árpád, e. 1046). In life the obscure son of Levente the Pagan, Béla was the great-grandnephew of his eventual sire, who forced the Becoming upon he and his young twin sisters Anikó and Judit because he felt that as devout pagans they would not face damnation for the act. Indeed, to this night Prince Béla remains a quiet believer in the old gods of not just the Magyars but also the Slavs, and alone among his kin he and his sisters are known to have allies and contacts among the Gangrel and Nosferatu who keep to the old ways. He is also an authority on the Lupines, whom he holds in particular fascination, reverence, and fear, and he, his courtiers, and their ghouls are never without sharp silver weapons in expectation of an attack. Like his sire, Béla is a lover of intrigue, and his petty disputes with other Hungarian princes are well known throughout the Cainite courts of the East. Visegrád (population 1280) is a formidable castle on a hill over-watching a bend in the Danube and a large service village of fishermen and herdsmen. It lies just seventeen miles to the east of Esztergom and twenty-six miles north of Buda-Pest.
Berthold von Wels, Prince of Győr (9th generation ancilla, childe of Eberhard von Scheyern [d], e. 1098). The childe of one of Bulcsú’s original coterie-mates, Berthold was lucky enough to be fostering at the court of Gregor von Naumburg when the Man of Blood made his move against Volstag. Much more of a scholar and a sybarite than a warrior, Berthold readily swore loyalty to the new order rather than lose his head, and for his loyalty he was rewarded with his sire’s domain. Over the many years that have followed, Prince Berthold has proven himself to be a canny manipulator of church politics in service to the designs of the Árpáds, and It is widely known that under his guise as an administrative deacon, the prince makes a habit of subborning each cleric who succeeds to the influential episcopal seat of Győr. His favour is courted by those of his kin who find the influence of the archbishop (and “Archbishop”) of Esztergom to be both pervasive and unwholesome, and the Bavarian has proven able at quietly deflecting or diminishing the worst excesses of Géza. For his part, Berthold is too subtle at the game to give anything away, but the other Árpáds tend to think him to remain comfortably in Gregor’s camp. Under his watch, Győr (population 3820) has grown steadily and it is now one of the wealthiest settlements in the west of the kingdom due to the river trade with Styria and the Burgenland. It lies roughly halfway between Posony and Esztergom, on the confluence of the Rába, the Rábca, and the Mosoni-Danube, which flows into the true Danube some seven miles to the east.
Koppány Árpád, Prince of Kaposvár (8th generation ancilla, childe of Zombar Árpád [d], e. 998). Descended from the line of Tarkatzus, an older son of the great Árpád, in life Koppány was a rival against Géza’s son, István I, for the throne of Hungary. After a brief civil war waged along religious lines, the pagan army of Koppány was thrown down by an army led by the mortal Vencel Rikard, and legend holds that the anachronistic warrior was mortally wounded in battle. History holds that Koppány’s body was quartered and sent to the strongest citadels of the realm as a sign of King István’s authority, but in truth Zombar rescued him and replaced his corpse with that of a double. Several years after his Becoming, Koppány vanished, and when he returned sixty years later, his ambitions seemed to have altered considerably. Now a stalwart supporter of his undead kin, he established his power in the south of the kingdom. Indeed, it would be fair to say that in the counties south of Lake Balaton, his influence reigns supreme, and he has used it to keep the ancient Magyar pagan traditions alive. The people of Somogy, Zala, and Baranya counties may be Christian by day, but many of them also offer prayers to the old gods and spirits by night. Additionally, his mortal descendants continue to haunt the lands around his ancestral seat, no matter whom the king appoints to administer the region, and Koppány seems content to guard the borders and ignore the petty intrigues of Vencel, Géza, and the others. It is worth noting, however, that of all the Árpád princes, it is his one-time mortal enemy Vencel Rikard whom Koppány regards as an equal and fellow soldier. His castle and small town (population 1640) stand in fairly wild country some thirty-five miles south of the shores of Balaton, and a like distance from Pécs to the south-east.
Anikó Árpád, Co-Prince of Gyöngyös (8th generation ancilla, childe of Géza Árpád, e. 1046). In life the obscure daughter of Levente the Pagan, Anikó was the great-grandneice of her eventual sire, who forced the Becoming upon her, her twin sister Judit, and her older brother Béla because he felt that as devout pagans they would not face damnation for the act. Anikó and Judit always shared a special rapport which survived the transition to undeath, and they have always been among the most vicious and wild of Géza’s offspring, more at home on the hunt or running through the moonlit wilds than playing staid, cold games of intrigue. This has made them inattentive princes at best, problematic for the ambitions of their sire and brother, neither of whom could ever entirely break their wild ways. For her part, Anikó is unusually charismatic and despite her wilfulness she has always been the favourite “daughter” of Géza, who is indulgently forgiving of her trespasses. He gave her the episcopal town of Vácz to hold in 1082, and she ruled there (poorly) for over a century before giving it up to her own progeny so she could instead join Judit in the rougher town of Gyöngyös (population 1830) on the doorstep of the wild, forested hills, mountains, and valleys of the Mátra. The settlement stands seventy-three miles east of Vácz and the Danube bend and twenty-nine miles west-south-west of Eger.
Judit Árpád, Co-Prince of Gyöngyös (8th generation ancilla, childe of Géza Árpád, e. 1046). In life the obscure daughter of Levente the Pagan, Judit was foreably Embraced along with her brother Béla and her twin sister Anikó because Géza felt that as devout pagans they would not face damnation for the act. Even wilder than her sister, Judit resented being coerced by their sire into taking up praxis over Veszprém in 1094, and her eighty year rule of the town could most generously be described as inattentive. Instead she busied herself preying upon the hunters, herdsmen, and foresters of the Bakony, and consorting with numerous Gangrel and Nosferatu who dwelt in the rugged lands there. When Ladislas the Pole came for her domain in 1189, Judit was privately relieved, and she quit Veszprém with hardly a fight and returned to her sire. Lacking Anikó’s graces, she was unable to allay Géza’s fury, and she fled his sight upon pain of Final Death. Gyöngyös, with its neighbouring wilds, became her home soon afterwards, and there Judit remains to this night. Her dominion there was unoffical until her sister joined her in 1192, and they now rule effectively as co-princes, with Judit enforcing their rule with her strength and Anikó insinuating influence throughout their domination through her social finesse.
Zsófia Árpád Hont-Pázmány, Prince of Hont (9th generation ancilla, childe of Béla Árpád, e. 1110). Illegitimate by birth, the mortal Zsófia was the fourth daughter of Béla I the Wisent and half-sister to Géza I, Saint László, Zsófia, Lanka, Ilona, and Lampert (the last two of whom would also be Embraced by their undead kin). Through the marriage of her half-sister and namesake to Magnus of Saxony, this also made her the mortal sister-in-law of Bernhard Billung, who would find the Embrace of Clan Gangrel. Despite her illegitimate origins, she was beloved of her father and half-siblings, who called her Zsófika to differentiate her from her older sister, and she grew to adulthood as a princess of the blood. In time, she married Lampert Hont-Pázmány, one of the wealthiest landowners in the kingdom, and their descendants would go on to become one of the most prominent noble families in the land. She was eventually made a ghoul and then later Embraced to bring her influence and wealth into the bloodline of Géza of Esztergom, and she has been a quiet supporter of her sire and grandsire ever since. Zsófia is a mean-spirited creature, skilled in the petty intrigues that characterise the Árpád Ventrue. She is also a social chameleon and a brilliant huntress, equally at home chasing her prey through the countryside as seducing a priest or pilgrim in a tavern. Indeed, only her mortal sibling Ilona of Posega receives Zsófia’s unconditional support and affection. She makes her home in the bowels of the Hont-Pázmány ancestral stronghold, an earth and wood fort built onto a motte peninsula of the River Ipoly, but she can be just as frequently found in the court of her grandsire.
Adelaida Árpád Přemysl, “Princess” of Vácz (9th generation ancilla, childe of Anikó Árpád, e. 1140). In life the daughter of blind Prince Álmos and sister of King Béla II, Adelaida become the Duchess of Bohemia upon her marriage to Soběslav of the House of Přemyslid. She would go on to bear the duke five children before voluntarily retiring to a monastery upon his death, only to seek the Embrace at the fangs of her old patron, Géza, who then gave her to his favoured daughter, Anikó, instead. Her children would variously go on to rule Bohemia and Olomouc for the next fifty years, as Adelaida plotted against Tzimisce interests in those lands in hopes of claiming them for the Árpád Ventrue. She failed, losing two of her sons to the Tzimisce Embrace. Upon her broken return to Hungary in 1192, she faced derision from her kin but charity from her sire, who gave her Vácz so that she might instead make her haven in the wilder settlement of Gyöngyös. Now quite unstable, Adelaida still dwells in the small episcopal town (population 2300) on the Danube, attended by her ghoul grandaughter, Sister Ágnes, and the Toreador illuminator and Keeper, Mátyás.
Silas Bubek Árpád, Prince of Gömör and Rozsnyó (8th generation, childe of Zombar Árpád, e. 1060). The youngest of the late Zombar’s creations, Silas was the natural son of King András I, conceived by his Greek mistress Maria during the prince’s early exile in the court of Duke Oldřich of Bohemia. He had little contact with his father but after his coronation his mother and her husband László were rewarded with estates and mining rights in Gömör, a north-eastern county of the kingdom. A mountainous land peopled by larger numbers of the industrious Slovakian peoples, Silas grew to adulthood along with an understanding and love of the melting pot that was his home, and he had little interest in living anywhere else. He knew his place and never sought to make waves as to his true parentage, choosing instead to build up the family estates, develop a reputation for competency, and one day be named ispán of Gömör. He was well on his way to do so by the time his father lost his life in an insurrection raised by his uncle, who would be crowned as King Béla I, and Silas began to fear for the secret that guarded his life. Zombar arrived the same week as the coronation, beating the new king’s assassins to Rozsnyó by mere hours, and he gave the young man undeath in return for his life. Never to be an ispán, Silas instead contented himself with controlling the royally appointed counts stationed at Gömörvár. For centuries, he has split his time between the castle and Rozsnyó, growing immensely wealthy from the fruits of his mining and mercantile concerns and earning the thanks of his kin by funnelling gold and silver to the Árpád coffers for their wars against the Tzimisce and other Ventrue magnates in the East. Since the quiescence of King Bulcsú became common knowledge, Prince Silas has carefully alternated his support between Géza and Vencel, seeking to enforce a balancing act upon his fractious and treacherous kin. Gömörvár (population 940) and Rozsnyó (population 3130) are under his absolute control, littered with his agents and strengthened by an army of mercenaries and thugs generously paid with his silver. He is also a firm ally of Prince Gisella of Eger. This is well, for the county is much coveted by Vladimir Rustovich, whose own borders stand not thirty miles distant from theirs.
István Árpád, Prince of Nitra (8th generation ancilla, childe of Géza Árpád, e. 1131). It is generally accepted among the Children of Caine that Embracing a king is a bad idea. Not only do monarchs tend to be wilful, conceited, and all too proud, their fame makes them extemely inconvenient. So it was that when Géza of Esztergom took it upon himself to bring King István II across into their undead ranks, his decision was greeted with great dismay by his kin. An especially belligerent and stubborn soul who had waged war incessentaly since taking the throne at the age of fifteen, István had served his role as dupe well, allowing Bulcsú much room to cast down Hungarian princes and knezi of rival clans, but he seemed an especially bad choice for the Embrace. With his many victories and successful break with Volstag, however, the Man of Blood was feeling generous and he told Géza that he would grant his diversion provided he justify it. The old prince stated that he felt the young king reminded him of himself in his breathing years, for the king was a contradiction of piety and profligacy; he raised up churches but preferred the company of his concubines to his wife, made charitable donations on one hand but unjustly confiscated wealth on the other. Also like Géza, he cared deeply for his family but had no qualms as to spilling their blood. And finally, just as the grand prince had been denied Heaven, so too should István II. Amused, Bulcsú gave his permission and the “archbishop” gleefully made sport of destroying the young king’s health and confidence, culminating in a mortal sickness, abdication to his blind cousin Béla, and finally retirement to a monastery. Several months later, his pride humbled and his faith shattered before the horror of his undead great-uncle, István the Monk became a vampire. Géza hoped to remake the neonate in his own image, and he would indeed prove to be an apt disciple, every bit as insidious as his sire. Within thirty years of his Becoming he had successfully unseated Ladislas Debroi as prince of the prosperous and populous city of Nitra (population 9450), and he would later be instrumental in furthering Géza’s designs over the northern counties of the kingdom. Since the turn of the 13th century, however, Prince István the Monk has cooled in his affections towards his sire and indeed, many of his kin. For decades he has walked the Road of Heaven and he is now known as an influential Ashen Priest, with many disciples of his own. Some speculate that he learned Géza’s lessons only too well, but his sire’s manipulations of the church disgust the humble monk, and it is only now that he considers himself to be secure enough in his power to rebuke the “archbishop” of Esztergom. István the Monk is also notable in that no fewer than seven of his bastard children found their way into the ranks of the Árpád Ventrue, and perhaps owing to his troubled conscience he is known to have a difficult relationship with all of them.
Borisz Miskolc, Prince of Moson (7th generation ancilla, childe of Gregor von Naumburg, e. 1135). In life, Borisz was the son of Margret, the obscure youngest daughter of Prince Álmos, who was blinded along with his son (later King Béla II) by his own brother, King Kálmán, to preserve the succession of István II. Margret would later marry Domonik Misckolc, the son of a powerful noble, and young Borisz was eventually entertained by certain treacherous factions in the troubled later years of King István’s reign. As a result, he was forced to flee to Byzantium, where he was warmly received by his blind uncle. Humbled, he would spend years as a carer and protector of Álmos the Blind, tending the prince even on his deathbed. As such, when Prince Béla later ascended the throne, loyal Borisz was recalled to serve him. He settled in Moson, a strong castle and town in the swampy western borderlands of the kingdom, and there began to raise a family, only to find the Embrace of Prince Gregor awaiting him. Borisz was chosen well, for he is intelligent and even-tempered, and he honours his sire by doing his best to guard the kingdom’s western border. His descendants remain loyal partisans of the crown, as well, and he has brought a number of them across into undeath as a reward for their service. Although his appearance is almost effete, Borisz has a reputation as being the finest swordsman among the Árpád Ventrue, and he is a proud knight of the Order of the Griffon who fought heroically against the Tzimisce in Jelek’s campaigns. His progeny and mortal descendant, Domokos, who once served as the mortal Judge Royal of the Kingdom of Hungary, has recently been tasked with holding their family demesne from the minions of Rustovich.
Joszef Erdei, Prince of Pancsova and Lándorfejérvár*, Knight-Captain of the Order of the Griffon* (8th generation ancilla, childe of Vencel Rikard, e. 1105). As a mortal this scarred, intensely honourable knight was a descendant of one of a Bavarian who had served in the bodyguard of Grand Prince Géza and King István I alongside Vencel Rikard. The Lion of Buda watched the career of Sir Jozsef with interest, and chose to bring him across into undeath when a wasting disease threatened to snuff out his spark before his true potential was reached. The stalwart Jozsef would go on to serve his sire well during the War of Griffons and Dragons, and later as Warden of Buda and Pest for some decades before none other than King Bulcsú appointed him Knight-Captain of the Order of the Griffon, a small secular order of Hungarian vampire knights. As such, he serves as the de facto captain-at-large of the Man of Blood, directed to move his order to the places deemed most troublesome to the stability of the realm. Since the middle of the 12th century, this has been the unstable (both literal and figurative) riverlands surrounding the ancient city of Belgrade (called Lándorfejérvár by the Magyars), which has long been contested between local belligerents in addition to Hungary, Byzantium, and now Bulgaria. As such, the troubled settlement has been known to suffer raids by ambitious furores and others who would act in detriment to the interests of the Árpáds. Belgrade is little more than piles of rubble inside constantly repaired walls, and Jozsef has long preferred to make his seat in the more secure and prosperous castle and village of Pančevo (Pancsova to the Magyars) a few miles to the east. At present, he and his coterie frequently clash with the ambitious Bulgarian Tzimisce Teodora and her followers, who have taken advantage of the Bulgarian ascendancy in the region to establish themselves in the ruined city. The Order of the Griffon considers the security of the area to be paramount, particularly as Teodora’s sire is the terrifying Sevar, an ambitious and potent elder who (as a mortal) ruled the Bulgarian Empire in the 8th century. Sevar arose from a long torpor in the 1190s, and he has established himself in the ancient city of Sirmium just 65 miles upriver on the Sava. A number of dispossessed ancillae and neonates of the Tzimisce, Brujah, Nosferatu, and Gangrel clans have flocked to the charismatic elder, and he firmly set his will to adding Belgrade to his demesnes.
Gisella von Merseberg, Prince of Eger (7th generation ancilla, childe of Gregor von Naumburg, e. 1102). Mistress of a settlement where the Great Alföld gives way to the foothills of the Bükk Mountains, Gisella is closer to the fangs of the Tzimisce than many of her kin. Indeed, the furthest patrols of Rustovich’s minions reach a mere forty miles from her town, and Prince Gisella is thus mindful of danger. Her court is unusually cohesive and well-drilled to prepare for attack, and their prince is known for capably leading her coterie on vicious hunts against those who interlope on her dominion. Although she is relatively young in the Blood she is potent, shrewd, and experienced, having been a ghoul and lover to Gregor for more than a century prior to her Becoming. Gisella otherwise shares her sire’s sybaritic and generous nature, although it is thought that her loyalties have shifted to Géza of Esztergom owing to an old quarrel over Gregor replacing her with a Gangrel consort in the mid-12th century. Her city (population 4840) is an episcopal see, and considered one of the wealthier and more progressive in the kingdom. It is a centre of Wallonian culture and vinticulture owing to successive waves of Lotharingian immigration since the late 10th century, and it is not at all uncommon to hear French and German spoken here in addition to Hungarian.
Elek Sapanyi, Prince of Pech (9th generation ancilla, childe of Koppány Árpád, e. 1053). The progeny and indirect mortal descendant of the terrifying prince of Kaposvár, Elek is very much the political animal that his sire refuses to be and he is the secret power of Baranya County. His influence derives from his domination of trade in the wealthy town, but also through the political manipulations of his equally talented progeny, Aliz, who reigns in the comital seat some thirty miles distant. Elek’s town (population 3808) has been constantly inhabitated for centuries, and is noted for its having been constructed from the ruins of five ancient Christian chapels from the Roman era. Due to its location at the base of the mineral rich Mecsek hills, it is a centre for mining and smithwork of all varieties, and it is a prosperous and cosmopolitan town indeed. Many Saxon German miners migrated here in the 10th century, and they still form a significant, clannish minority in the town.
Dénes Katapán, Prince of Komárom (8th generation ancilla, childe of Géza Árpád, e. 1061). One of the more able progeny of the influential “Archbishop” of Esztergom, this soldier is most known among the Cainite courts of Hungary for being the oldest surviving example of an Árpád Ventrue Becoming from outside their mortal bloodline. Descendants of the legendary chieftain and horka known as Ketel, Dénes’ kin are the founders and most notable landowners of the settlement of Komárom, and under the clan name Koppán they remain as the most influential family of the area. The castle of Komárom and its client village (population 3815) stands on the Danube, just thirty-one miles upstream of Esztergom, and in the days of yore it stood as a notable river safeguard on the approaches to the capital. Aware of the young warrior’s reputation for martial skill and loyalty, Géza is known to have brought Dénes across in order to give himself a strong right hand to meet any potential physical threat posed to his own power. He would serve his sire as warden of Esztergom for many years, all the while secretly supporting and influencing his mortal kin in their stronghold, before the expansive machinations of Géza caused him to send Dénes to secure Komárom in 1148. He has remained there ever since, restless and bored in his power, as his sire uses him to recruit warriors of quality in order to gift ghouls and potential progeny to those who support him in his designs against Rikard.
Beled Súryi, Prince of Szombathely (8th generation ancilla, childe of Ludwig von Altpold [d], e. 994). A retiring member of the Árpád faction, Beled is one of the few remaining who remember the Battle of Lechfeld firsthand. The son of Súr, a companion and subordinate of Bulcsú, he fought in that disastrous conflict and was one of the few commanders who was able to lead his beaten men to safety from the Germans who pursued them after the battle. His father was not so lucky, for he was captured and soon executed at Regensburg. However, Bulcsú soon reappeared as the leader of a vampire coterie of Bavarian vampires, all of whom set to the task of subborning the new Magyar state. As an emerging leader in his own right and a fast ally of Grand Prince Taksony, the warrior was quickly made a ghoul of one of these Ventrue. Owing to his martial expertise he would later earn the Embrace and serve first his sire and also the Man of Blood himself throughout the rise of the Árpád Ventrue power in the region over the course of the 11th century. When Bulcsú broke with his sire in the 12th century, the conflicted Beled chose his master over his sire, who refused to repudiate Heinrich von Volstag, and he soon faced the unenviable choice to mete out Ludwig’s destruction. In return for his loyalty, “King” Bulcsú rewarded the ancilla with the ancient settlement of Savaria, known as Szombathely to the Hungarians. Beled rules there still, quietly holding the market town (population 3680) of Vas County while his vassal, the Toreador Dénes, oversees the comital seat of Vasvár. For the most part, since the retirement of the Man of Blood Beled has chosen to keep clear of the intrigues of Vencel and Géza, choosing instead to forge links with Germanic Ventrue in Austria, Stryia, and Carantania. He and his small court, which includes an 800 year old Cappadocian, receive few Cainite visitors, but they are thought to be a particularly cruel lot.
Tamás Kanizsai, Prince of Nagykanizsa (9th generation neonate, childe of Beled Súryi, e.1214). One of the younger and more dynamic princes of the Árpád faction, the brilliant Tamás holds a castle on an island in the River Kanizsa, opposite a village (population 812) that guards an important trade route crossroads linking the Adriatic to Graz, Vienna, Buda-Pest, and points further north. Only relatively recently Embraced, Tamás has the advantage of being both known to be alive and well-connected to aristocratic families dating to the Magyar Conquest. After his fosterage in his grandsire’s court ended in 1219 he swiftly returned to his family to add his undead might to their ambitions of becoming a dynastic power in the southern borderlands. Already their castle has become an important way station on the Slavonian borderlands south-west of Lake Balaton, and he aims to elevate their fortunes in Zala County further. His ambitions are not appreciated by his consanguineous brother, Wolfger von Hemburg, who reigns as prince over the county seat of Zala and the trade town of Egerscug, some miles to the north. Tamás is a distant mortal cousin of János Oszol, the prince of Schäßburg, whom he holds in high esteem.
Wolfger von Hemburg, Prince of Zala and Egerscug (9th generation ancilla, childe of Beled Suryi, e. 1161). Along with his younger brother, Wolfger was one of the Swabian progenitors of the noted noble houses of Héder and Kőszegi. The brothers rode to the support of King Géza II in his conflicts with the Holy Roman and Byzantine Empires, and they were rewarded much land and status. Héder was often judged to be the more talented of the brothers, but it was to Wolfger that Beled Suryi was drawn, and his mentorship encouraged the older brother to seek out the shadows. Known for his courage, organisational ability, and ruthlessness, Beled thought he might make a strong bulwark against the growing power of the Styrian Ventrue known as Dieter von Karlach. Indeed, Wolfger soon established his domain at Németújvár with the construction of a family castle, and for decades he served his purpose well before he developed ambitions of his own. With the threat of von Karlach abated, he now makes his haven in the comital seat of Zala and market town of Ecerscug. This was against the wishes of his sire, as was Wolfger’s backing of Vencel Rikard in his intrigues against Géza of Esztergom, and something of a feud has erupted between sire and childe as the 13th century has progressed. In response to his “rebelliousness,” Beled brought across Tamás Kanizsai in 1214, and Wolfger now finds himself beset and outflanked by intrigues to the north and the south.
Hahold Hahót, Prince of Alsólendva, Muravidék, and Ojvduor (9th generation ancilla, childe of Ignatz von Trattenbach (d), e. 1172). In life a German mercenary knight thought to be related to the Thuringian House of Orlamünde, Hahold was a supporter and later friend of King István IV during the internecine conflicts of the mid-12th century. In return for his loyalty, he was granted much land in the sparsely inhabited borderlands between Hungary and Croatia and later, after the failure of his king, managed to gain the trust of their foe, István III, in order to keep them. His political finesse was enough to earn him the attention of the Árpád Ventrue, and he was eventually Embraced because of his interest in strengthening the borderlands. He is the grandchilde of Vencel Rikard, who installed him in the south to protect the trade routes between Hungary and Croatia, although Hahold now aligns himself most closely with Dávid Árpád and Beled Suryi. As part of his duties, he claims lordship over extensive lands in the south of Zala county, north of Varasd county, and the west of Somogy, but in truth these estates remain sparsely populated, so he travels between them to make use of his extensive herd. In order to further the power of his descendants, he meddles heavily in regional politics throughout northern Croatia, Slavonia, and south-western Hungary, and he is increasingly marked as a Cainite to watch.
- Domokos Miskolc, Prince of Miskolc* and Borsod (8th generation neonate, childe of Borisz Miskolc, e. 1199). A brilliant politician and cunning warrior, Domokos served Béla III as Ban of Slavonia and Judge Royal in his breathing years. He was much loved by the king, who recognised Domokos as his second cousin and dear friend, and in thanks for his loyal service the gens Miskolc became very wealthy during the latter half of the 12th century. His grandfather Borisz mentored Domokos in his early years, and as soon as Domokos’ son, Bors, was old enough to take over the reins of the family the Prince of Moson brought the old nobleman across into undeath. It is the design of Borisz that the Miskolcyi prosper as a cadet branch of the Árpád Ventrue bloodlinel Domokos is the second progeny of his grandfather behind Géza, his father, and in due course it is expected that Bors or his brother Péter will find immortality as well. To cut his fangs, the neonate has been charged with making safe the ancestral home of the family from the minions of Rustovich, who took the unwalled town in the 1180s. Having made overtures to Gisela of Eger and Silas of Gömör and Rozsnyó, Domokos plays a cautious game for the area is largely overun by hostile Tzimisce. He and his able coterie are safe in the nearby comital seat of Borsod, but for now he treads carefully in Miskolc itself as the Tzimisce Mok Ják also claims the domain for his own from his strong position in the bowels of the local royal castle of Diósgyőr.
Note: Titles marked with * indicate that they are contested in some way.
A List of Prominent Árpáds of the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia
The Árpáds of this land are a minority, embattled by enemies from the far more numerous clans and bloodlines of the Brujah, the Lasombra, the Tzimisce, and the Gangrel. They also face challenges from canny werewolves who inhabit the wilds of the foothills and mountains of Dinaric Alps. Generally speaking, the closer the domain of the Croatian Árpád prince is to the lands of Hungary, the more secure they are in their power
Dávid Árpád, Prince of Zagreb (9th gen. Ventrue, childe of Martirius Apafi [d], e. 1093). This charismatic, likeable, and mild-mannered prince has ruled his city wisely and quietly since quite shortly after his Becoming. Retiring in his ambitions and supportive of his fellow undead magnates, he is the wealthiest, most influential, and most popular Cainite prince in all of the Kingdom of Croatia, but it is in the north where his influence is most widely felt. Zagreb (population 6905) is quite the brisk, cosmopolitan trading community, and the prince uses his influence to promote the area to encourage immigration from Styria, Carinthia, Istria, Slavonia, Dalmatia and, of course, Hungary. His neighbouring princes appreciate his efforts to grow their own wealth and herds, and they tend to his follow his lead as a result. Dávid is a fast ally of László Lasničić in Varaždin forty-six miles to the north, Spomenka Althan (a Toreador) in Krapina, thirty-five miles to the north-west, and Béla Erdödy (a Lasombra) in Križevci, thirty-seven miles to the north-east. He is also friendly with Hahold Hahót, who monitors a wide swathe of territory in the borderlands between Hungary and Croatia. All credit Prince Dávid with the fast and stable growth of their own demesnes, making him powerful indeed throughout the borderlands of Croatia and Hungary. He does not advertise it, but in life he was a prince of a different kind, son to King András I, brother to King Salamon and also to Adelaida, who would one night be granted the Embrace as well. Those were painful times for the family and the kingdom, and the mild-mannered Dávid dislikes discussing them.
László Árpád Lasničić, Prince of Varaždin (9th generation ancilla, childe of Jelek Árpád [d], e. 1038). A descendant of Előd, the most obscure son of Árpád, the infant László escaped Grand Prince Géza’s purge only because his widowed mother fled with him to the court of King Stjepan Držislav of Croatia. He grew to adulthood there, obscure but safe, and became a prominent military leader in the south before graduating to being an elder diplomat in service to the Croatian king. At length, he was sent to the Hungarian court on a diplomatic mission during the reign of Peter the Venetian, and there he ran afoul of the legendary Jelek, who swiftly reclaimed him for the family through the Embrace. Under his guidance his descendants, the Lasničić family of Biograd and Zara, became influential in the kingdom and he would later spearhead the successful Árpád efforts to annex the Kingdom of Croatia at the beginning of the 11th century. László has brought across a number of his descendants, and his cadet Ventrue bloodline is well-known throughout the Adriatic lands of the crown.
Lajos Árpád Lasničić, Prince of Modruš (9th generation ancilla, childe of László Árpád Lasničić, e. 1099). A brilliant politican and cruel knight who cut his teeth in the anarchy following the fall of the Trpimirović dynasty and his fangs against the Tzimisce during the War of Griffons and Dragons, Lajos’ domain is the westernmost of all the surviving vampire princes of the Árpáds. Indeed, Modruš (population 1990) stands a mere thirty miles from the Adriatic coast, which is infested with Lasombra pirates and Brujah furores still resentful over the loss of their warlord, Dominic. Lajos holds court in an ancient labyrinth beneath the castle of Tržan, which is currently a stronghold of his mortal kin. Isolated from the nearer bastions of Árpád Ventrue power, he has attacked his insecure position with the tenacity typical of a Knight of the Griffon, engineering marital alliances between the Lasničić and the more powerful houses of the Frankopani, the Gusić, the Šubić, and the Mogorović in hopes of strengthening his position in the decades to come. Lajos is subtle and tactful, and he has managed to reach an accord with Maximarius, the Brujah prince of Rijeka, as well as the Lasombra Templars in Senj, to protect each other against the furores that seek to tear all of them down.
Ilona Árpád, Prince of Posega and “Duchess of Slavonia” (9th generation ancilla, childe of Martirius Apafi [d], e. 1090). In life the daughter of King Bela I the Wisent and sister of Géza I and Saint László I, Ilona was accounted the greatest beauty in the East in her day. She was also remarkably influential, for through dynastic marriages of her siblings she was also intimately linked to the ruling dynasties of Byzantium, Bulgaria, Poland, Swabia, Olomouc, Istria and Carniola, Volhynia, and Saxony. The last made her the mortal sister in law of Bernhard Billung, who would find the Embrace at the fangs of the ancient Gangrel known as Lucien long before Ilona entered the ranks of the Ventrue. Though many vied for her hand, the match made for her was that of the Ban of Slavonia, Dmitar Zvonimir of the House of Trpimirović, who would soon go on to be crowned King of Croatia and Dalmatia. The marriage sealed an alliance between the two nations. Little did King Dmitar know that his Queen Consort had been instructed in the finer points of intrigue by her undead kin, and Ilona soon ruled the land through the heart of her husband and those of his people. They called her Jelena Lijepa (Helen the Beautiful), devoting songs and poems to her beauty, grace, and generosity, but Ilona hid daggers in her smile, even before she had fangs in truth. Before long, Martirius Apafi and László Lasničić arrived to begin the true subbornation of Croatia’s Long Night. Within two decades the House of Trpimirović had failed and the Árpáds engineered the union of the Crowns of Hungary and Croatia. For her dramatic successes, Martirius granted her immortality, and Ilona has reigned as the preeminent Prince of Slavonia ever since. Since the 1190s, she has followed Lady Nova’s example and, with the support of several willing vassals in Valkó, Osijek, and Viroviticza, Ilona has declared herself overlord of Slavonia. Her domain, the castle and town of Posega (population 2280) was a gift from her mortal husband and she resides there still, strong and treacherous in her power. Her one failure lies in her mortal daughter, Klaudija, whom the queen raised to be just as perfidious as she. Without her mother’s knowledge, the resentful princess eventually accepted the Embrace of the Tremere Martin Lapčan, and she has spent more than a century contending with her mother for the destiny of Slavonia.
- Beloš Vukanović, Prince of Osijek (9th generation ancilla, childe of Martirius Apafi [d], e. 1162). In life this clever ancilla was the son of Grand Prince Uroš I of Serbia and brother to Jelena, who would reign as Queen Ilona of Hungary first as wife to Béla II and then as queen-regent for Géza II. Beloš accompanied his sister to the Hungarian court in 1129 and he would spend most of his remaining years away from his home. He received the honourary title of duke and, after the death of Béla the Blind, looked to the interests of his sister and nephews as co-regent for the kingdom as well as Ban of Croatia and Dalmatia. The challenges of his positions were manifold, for he had to deal with a newly resurgent Byzantine Empire in the south while simultaneously provide safety for his nephews and stability in the north. For his skill and loyalty he was rewarded with the positions of Count Palatine and Ban of Slavonia for more than a decade. His intellect and skill at managing the many challenges of rule, drew the attention of Martirius Apafi, an intriguer who held special esteem in the eyes of Bulcsú. A great mastermind who engineered the subsumption of the Cainite demesnes of Croatia and Slavonia beneath the aegis of the Árpád Ventrue, and by the late 1150s Martirius had set his eyes on adding Serbia to their quiver, and he had decided Beloš would be his man. The tumultuous following years would see the duke in the thick of his domitor’s intrigues, even briefly becoming Grand Prince of Serbia himself before growing entangled in the mortal Árpád dynastic strife then returning to his position as Ban of Slavonia. One night, a wounded and desperate Martirius appeared at his estate outside Osijek and demanded that he summon his guards. Bosnia and Serbia had been lost to the Tzimisce, the Gangrel, and the Brujah, who had put aside their ancestral animosities to throw down the Ventrue. Further, he claimed that enemies were on his heels and would arrive within the hour. To bolster their chances of resisting the attack, without warning he then gave the Embrace to the stunned Beloš and his two best warriors. Beloš’ first night among the undead is a haze of bloodlust and fury and all perished save he. In confusion, disarray, and fear of further attacks, Beloš abandoned his holdings and fled to the court of his consanguinous sister, Ilona, there to remain for many years while he built his power anew. Since 1183 he has returned to his estate and taken the praxis of Osijek for his own, and he now plots to return to Serbia and finish what his sire started.
Note: Titles marked with * indicate that they are contested in some way.
A List of Prominent Árpáds of Transylvania
If the Árpáds of Croatia are an embattled minority, those of Transylvania are an endangered one. For a time after the establishment of the Council of Ashes, the Hungarian Ventrue had effectively bearded the Tzimisce Voivodate in their own heartland, but the reversals of the final decades of the 12th century found them on shaky ground indeed. Only two of the remaining princes of the Council belong to the Árpád bloodline, and several of the cities of the Siebenburgen are now in Tzimisce hands. Lady Nova and Prince János are fastly loyal to each other, but in order to create a bulwark against the belligerence of the Fiends they find themselves increasingly courting dangerous allies such as the Tremere. Since the turn of the 13th century, a number of other Ventrue factions have stepped forward to “assist” them in their mission. Under the personal leadership of their lord, Jürgen von Verden, the Germanic Eastern Lords brought their pawns among the Teutonic Order to the East in order to make war against Vladimir Rustovich. Secondly, a heretofore unknown coterie of secretive Székely Ventrue called the Brotherhood of the Black Stallion was forced into the open by the conflict. These Árpáds, for the most part of minor bloodlines, now stand ready to assist Lady Nova and Prince János, but they are loyal to their patron, Vencel Rikard, rather than to the spent Overlord of the Siebenburgen. Only several of the Brotherhood hold settlements, for the Székely remain semi-nomadic. As some are not princes in fact, the Brotherhood have taken to naming themselves primor instead; the title is intended to convey praxis over extended clan units throughout a larger territory rather than a single town. Each primor of the Székely Árpáds is able to cover significant ground at speed due to the nature of their herd, so despite their relatively small number they can project considerable military force to each other’s benefit.
Nova Árpád, Prince of Mediasch, Lord of the Siebenburgen* (7th generation ancilla, childe of Gregor von Naumberg, e. 1050). Brilliant, dynamic, and imperious, Nova had the boldness and vision to shame the Fiends and establish the Saxon settlements in their very heartland beneath their noses. Although the temerous move has since floundered and failed, it made Lady Nova something of a cause célèbre among the Ventrue courts of Western Europe, and her name is still recognised as far away as Iberia, England, and Outremer. Few among her kin can make such a claim, a fact of which she is quick to remind them should they dwell too closely on her recent “setbacks.” Lady Nova was secretly imprisoned by a conspiracy of her Transylvanian peers throughout the 1190s; much of her remaining influence over the mortal nobility was fragmented, most of her wealth was stolen, and her dignity was torn from her. She has spent the early decades of the 13th century seeking new alliances and rebuilding her base, and she may yet return to power in time. For now though, any claims she has for being the Lord of Transylvania are nothing but a hollow boast. Mediasch (population 3900) is very much the hub of the Siebenburgen, standing more or less in the middle of the radial fortress towns.
János Oszol, Prince of Schäßburg (9th generation ancilla, childe of Karol Borbás, e. 1135). This saturnine and ruthless Siebenburgen prince returned from exile to recover his fallen sire’s demesne in 1199. He has defended it from the minions of Vladimir Rustovich ever since and has earned more than his fair share of hatred from the Shapers for his trouble. A fast ally of Nova Árpád and the Szekler primi of the Brotherhood of the Black Stallion, he also quickly made an accommodation with Jürgen von Verden and the Order of the Black Cross when it became clear that the Germans would be necessary to throw down his enemy Vlad Ionescu. János is neither subtle nor diplomatic in his methods, preferring the use of brutal examples and ultimatums to get his way. Although he has reigned over Schäßburg for a mortal generation, he considers himself nothing more than a place-holder for his sire, whom he hopes will emerge from torpor soon. He is a knight of the Order of the Griffon, and he wants nothing more than to lay down his praxis and take the war directly to the Tzimisce once again. Prince János works closely with his brother-knight Simon Losonci, Primus of the Szekler territory of Udvarhely, and he is also loyal to Lady Nova; the two cities coordinate their military and trade activities closely indeed.
Wiprecht von Lübben, Prince of Szentgyörgy and Primor of Sepsi (10th generation ancilla, childe of Hermann von Teupitz [d], e. 1055). A brilliantly secretive yet noisomely paranoid Lusatian descendant of Erik Eigermann through the Nordmarker magnate known as Ilse Reinneger, Wiprecht is the product of a failed Germanic initiative to move on the territory of the ailing bloodlines of Polish Ventrue. He and his eminently capable Silesian progeny, Brother Adalbert, were forced to flee to the courts of Hungary when the intrigues of their masters fell apart under the dual pressure of the belligerent Polish Tzimisce together with their own stubborn cousins. They swore loyalty to Vencel Rikard, and quietly relocated to the Sepsi region of the Szeklerland in 1199 when it became clear that Lady Nova (actually the imposter Ruxandra) was ignoring an obvious asset in the traditional tribes that roamed the land there. He soon invited a number of equally cautious and pragmatic Hungarian Ventrue to form a conspiracy with him, and the Brotherhood of the Black Stallion quietly influenced the Szeklers for a dozen years before the machinations of Jürgen von Verden forced them to reveal themselves. They now exist in an uneasy alliance with their fellow Ventrue against the Tzimisce, and Wiprecht, despite his weak generation, serves as their spokesperson.
Simon Losonci, Prince and Primor of Udvarhely (8th generation ancilla, childe of Vencel Rikard, e. 1137). A skilled and careful knight very much in the image of his sire and mentor, Losonci is accounted the most active and visible of the Brotherhood as he is a fast ally of Nova Árpád and János Oszol. He is an insightful captain with an intimate understanding of the often vague and amorphous military structures of the Kingdom of Hungary, and it is for this reason that as a condition of his patronage Vencel Rikard foisted Sir Simon on the Brotherhood of the Black Stallion, knowing that the comital seat of the Szeklers at the castle of Udvarhely would require a strategist of his ilk to properly guide the war machinery of the Szeklers. A knight of the Griffon and a man of action, Losonci disliked the secrecy of the Brotherhood (even if he recognised its necessity), and he was grateful to step out of the shadows when von Verden forced the hand of the coterie in 1211. Once free to take an active hand, Sir Simon became a fast ally of his brother-knight Prince János of Schäßburg in the conflict against Voivode Vlad Ionescu, and he closely monitors and Dominates the royal appointments of the Count of the Szeklers in order to meet any Tzimisce threat with a coordinated response.
Lőkös Bő, Prince of Csíkszereda and Primor of Csik (9th generation ancilla, childe of Matthius der Haas von Nitra [d], e. 1168). The most brutal and unsubtle member of the Brotherhood of the Black Stallion, this Szekler chieftain nevertheless managed to hide his presence from the Tzimisce for decades until he was forced to reveal himself in 1211. Before his Becoming, he was long the ghoul of Matthias, the “Hare of Nitra”, who was himself the progeny of Ladislas Debroi Árpád and a noted freelance knight and messenger. Lőkös keeps to the old ways as much as his condition allows, sometimes following the semi-migratory patterns of his clan around the northern Olt Valley. It is known that he resents the Siebenburgen somewhat, for he believes that the land the king gave to the Saxons should have been bequeathed instead to the Szeklers. He is known to make his stronghold in the wooden castle at Csíkszereda, which is itself built upon the ancient foundations of a Romano-Dacian fortification. When he must treat with envoys from the Brotherhood or the other Árpáds, he makes arrangements to meet them there.
Bardól Kó, Primor of Orbai (9th generation ancilla, childe of Levente Árpád [d?], e. 1104). A wrathful and treacherous yet undoubtedly courageous and talented vampire, Bardól spent nearly sixty years in torpor owing to wounds sustained during the War of Griffons and Dragons. His tribe was also decimated in that conflict, and they have thus far failed to become major players in the tribal political culture of the Szeklerland. Likewise, while Bardól slept his sire and his consanguineous brothers and sisters were thrown down and destroyed by the machinations of Vladimir Rustovich. Upon awakening, he found himself with a cold welcome among most of the Árpád Ventrue, who saw him as lesser kin for his lack of royal ties. Only Vencel Rikard accepted him as a brother and equal; he supplied the vengeful warrior with the wherewithall and allies to make a new start in Transylvania as part of the Brotherhood of the Black Stallion, and the impulsive warrior kept the bond of secrecy faithfully as a result. Bardól is deeply loyal to the Lion of Buda because of this generosity, but anyone else can burn in the dawn’s light for all he cares. He is wise enough to follow the lead of Wiprecht and Simon, but he spoils for vengeance against the Tzimisce, and now that the Brotherhood is out in the open he often leads his men on raids into the valley knezates of the Clan of the Dragon. Anachronistic even as a mortal, Bardól was Embraced because of his stubborn refusal to give up the old pagan gods of the Magyars, and he cleaves to these beliefs still. Indeed, though they would not be so foolish as to draw the correlation in his presence, it is not lost upon his brother Ventrue that his methodology and beliefs are not at all dissimilar from the Fiends. Bardól is most closely allied with Kálnok, who shares his pagan beliefs, and it is rumoured that both of them take counsel with an old Gangrel named Apor, who dates from the Magyar Conquest.
- Kálnok Kálnokyi, Primor of Kezdi (10th generation ancilla, childe of Béla the Cruel [d], e. 1110). Having arrived in 1204, this potent warrior was the last addition to the Brotherhood of the Black Stallion. Kálnok’s mortal descendants had previously roamed the lands of the Sebes, but in the 1190s they journeyed to the Szeklerland along with many other clans to answer the threat of the Cumans. Kálnok had lain in a decades-long torpor suffered at the hands of Gargoyles who were preying upon his people, and he is still quite hostile to the Tremere as a result of his injuries. Like his close ally Lőkös, he is very much a traditional Szekler who looks down upon the occidental training and methods of the Kingdom of Hungary. He believes that mobility and ambuscade are still the keys to victory, and Kálnok has chosen to apply these rules to his dealings with his fellow Cainites. The ruthless Kálnokyi horsemen were instrumental in the strong role that the Szeklers played in the final defeat of Kordönül, the Devil Khan, during the final weeks of the autumn of 1214. His stronghold is a small castle of earth and wood about 22 miles north-east of Szentgyörgy, although he and warriors roam as far west as the trade road between Kronstadt and Reps. He is the great-grandchilde of Rikard, and he is loyal to his bloodline, if not necessarily the Lion of Buda himself. Kálnok’s demesnes abutt those of Apor, an old Magyar Gangrel who holds a castle called Bálványos, atop a steep mound in the foothills of the Carpathians.
Note: Titles marked with * indicate that they are contested in some way.
Prominent Roving Agents of the Árpáds
These Cainites are all skilled mediators and diplomats who frequenty find themselves abroad on behalf of the noted potentates among their kin. Of them all, Lord Miklós is the most well-travelled, and he makes a point of not serving the interests of any one Árpád faction. Rather, he attempts to make consensus and alliance between disparate factions in order to deal with outsiders for the benefit of all. Ormos serves his sire, “Archbishop” Géza of Esztergom, while Jadwiga is the avowed agent of her mentor, Prince Vencel Rikard of Buda and Pest. At times, they might be found agitating as visitors in the same farflung court, conniving to achieve an advantage for one master or the other. Roland Gravois has long been the chief procurer of the Man of Blood, and while he possesses almost no power of his own he frequently drops Bulcsú’s name to get his way. And finally, Pedrag Harsányi is the childe and personal agent of Lady Nova, the beleaguered nominal Overlord of the Transylvanian Siebenburgen. Certainly there are other diplomats, procurers, and proxies of note within the kingdom, but it is to the reputation of these vampires that these lesser Cainites aspire.
Miklós Árpád, envoy to the Eastern Lords (8th generation ancilla, childe of Zombar Árpád [d], e. 1019). One of the oldest surviving progeny of Zombar, the diplomatic and congenial Miklós has always been regarded well by his kin. As such, he has an unusual amount of mobility in which to move through the fractious courts of the other Árpáds, many of whom have now taken opposite sides in a feud between Vencel Rikard of Buda-Pest and Géza Árpád of Esztergom. A born diplomat and intriguer, Miklós uses this freedom of movement to work as a mediator between the factions and also as a bipartisan envoy to foreign courts as well. In addition to his native Hungary and Croatia, he is well-known among the Cainite potentates of Bohemia, Bavaria, Austria, Styria, Carinthia, and southern Poland, and indeed Miklós is often the first of the Árpád Ventrue that any outsider is likely to meet. As such, he shapes the foreign perceptions of his kin somewhat; it might even be said that his urbane, personable demeanour and his exotic Eastern mannerisms have done much to raise the stock of his kin in the eyes of others. Even though he lacks significant domain of his own, the rest of the Árpáds refer to him as Lord Miklós in thanks for his fine works on their behalf. Lately, he and his progeny István have been active among the Eastern Lord Ventrue.
Ormos Árpád, courtly conniver of Esztergom (8th gen. Ventrue, childe of Géza Árpád, e. 1157). Another of the bastards of István II, this time with the courtesan known as Emese, Ormos would join six of his half-siblings in undeath. As a mortal, he lived a life of obscurity, making a living as a gambler and trying to advance himself through attaching himself to wealthy patrons. Eventually, he managed to enter the ranks of the clergy attached to the cathedral school of Esztergom and, despite the secret patronage of his undead father István and his own gifts as a scholar, his sybaritic lifestyle soon threatened his place there. On the verge of censure and potential expulsion, an ill-advised drunken rant about his true parentage earned the attention of Prince Géza as well, who was intrigued by his intelligence and natural charm. The vampire soon revealed himself and against the entreaties of István he made Ormos his own, instilling him with purpose for the first time in his life. Under the old vampire’s apt tutelage, the young ghoul soon became Géza’s main agent in the king’s court. By the time Ormos was eventually given the Embrace (once again over the objection of István), he had come to view the “archbishop” as the father he should have had, even as he rejected the love of the Monk who had ignored him in his childhood. The wedge between them remains, and could indeed lie at the root of István’s break with their sire, for Ormos is Géza’s creature in truth, even briefly risking his own existence to follow King András II on the Fifth Crusade.
Jadwiga Árpád, Lord Vencel Rikard’s diplomat (9th gen. Ventrue, Childe of Lampert Árpád [d?], e. 1138). Once daughter of Prince Almos, grandaughter of King Bela I, wife of Adalbert Babenberg, Jadwiga was brought across by Lampert, who in life was her uncle. After a short instruction at the hands of her ruthless sire, she was sent to Buda-Pest to begin a fosterage under Vencel Rikard, only to discover a number of months later that Lampert’s demesnes of Munkács and Lampertszász had fallen to the Tzimisce. The short fosterage became an exile, which then turned into a long mentorship, followed by Rikard adopting Jadwiga as his own progeny in 1150 once it became clear that Lampert would not return. She has long served her adopted sire as a diplomat, travelling among his contacts in the eastern reaches of the Holy Roman Empire and also the demesnes of his own faction to ensure friendly relations and understanding between his vassals. In particular, Jadwiga enjoys friendly relations with the Austrian magnate known as Konrad von Babenberg, a link that was used to brilliant effect during their mutual pilgrimage on the Fifth Cainite Crusade.
Roland Gravois, The Royal Procurer (10th generation Ventrue, childe of Otto von Karburg, e. 1103). A French vampire of little account and less ambition, Roland’s chief virtue lies in sniffing out the most unusual, exotic, and delectable of vessels for his betters. His early history is quite obscure and little is known of him before he drifted east and into the service of Bulcsú in the middle of the 12th century. He maintains a mortal facade as a courtier and discrete panderer who travels all over the north-west of the kingdom, although he most frequently seems to turn up among the courts of Esztegom, Buda-Pest, Preßburg, Székesfehérvár, and Veszprém. It is known that Roland is always seeking delights for the voracious hunger of the Man of Blood, and some among the Árpáds make a game of trying to discern the current location of their elusive leader by tracking his movements. Those who think Roland to be of any influence or importance quickly find themselves disabused of the notion, for he is purely a procurer so heavily Dominated that he actually falls mute when asked about Bulcsú, and he appears to know and care little for the intrigues of the courts that he visits.
- Pedrag Harsányi, envoy of Nova Árpád (8th generation, childe of Nova Árpád, e. 1179). One of the more well-travelled of the Hungarian Ventrue, the sybaritic Pedrag is known in many courts not just throughout the Kingdom of Hungary, Croatia, and Slavonia but also the Holy Roman Empire, northern Italy, and southern France, and he delights in sharing first-hand anecdotes of both mortal and Cainite alike from such great cities as Venice, Milan, Marseille, Toulouse, Frankfurt and Rome. He was absent from the Siebenburgen for the entirety of the last decade of the 12th century, which doubtless prevented his destruction at the hands of Arnulf, Mitru, and Marusca, but he was quick to return to his sire’s side once Lady Nova was freed from her secretive, debased imprisonment in 1199. Over the many years since, he has been a constant visitor to the cities of Schäßburg, Kronstadt, Mühlbach, Bistritz, and Weißenburg, working the will of his mistress among the disunified Council of Ashes while also putting himself forward as a procurer of the highest order. Among mortal society, he is known as a well-travelled panderer with an excellent stable of young courtesans, and he is known for being able to find anything (and anyone) that the rich and powerful might desire, given the right coin. Pedrag has a compimentary working relationship with Roland Gravois and Orsi of Vienna, and they have been known to trade vessels and information over a very large geographical area.
The Honourable Mention
It is very unusual but by no means unknown for one of the mortal Árpáds to find their way into the ranks of other Cainite clans and when they do, they rarely find themselves in any position of prominence in the kingdom. Their undead kin attempt to keep a strict control over the fates of their descendants, perhaps feeling that the honour of the mortal dynasty strictly reflects the prestige of the Cainite bloodline. Early on, it was not unusual for close relatives of the grand prince and later the king to find their way into the ranks of the undead of Hungary, but as time progressed and the Árpád Ventrue grew ever more subtle, it became rare to seek the Embrace of such worthies so that the Silence of the Blood might be ensured. Instead, younger sons and daughters or more often cousins of the royal family became the preferred choice for the Becoming. Both legitimate and illegitimate mortals of the dynasty were considered of equal worth in this regard. Of all the past kings of Hungary, only István II is reliably known to have entered the ranks of the Árpád Ventrue, but there is another who made his way into the ranks of the undead. He, however, is no warlord…
Kálmán the Learned, the castigated seer (7th generation Malkavian, childe of Draco, e. 1116). Hunchbacked, comically hirsuite, and extremely near of sight, Kálmán was an unlikely king, but he rose to the challenge of becoming one of the more exceptional specimens the House of Árpád would ever produce. In time, he would be renowned for his command of the liberal arts and the nuances of rulership and war, but also notorious for the paranoid and bloody lengths to which he went to secure the rule of his son, István II. Following many years of war and dynastic strife, King Kálmán would find himself dutifully ignored by the Árpád Ventrue on his deathbed. In this they followed the wishes of Bulcsú, who was known to find the notion of delivering the Becoming unto a king to be more trouble than it was worth. In any case, it is said that Kálmán’s end came from extreme otitis, which brought on weakness and madness from swelling of the brain. Out of desperation, he sent for a doctor named Draco who claimed he could heal the condition, but the zealous cure is thought to have delivered the death stroke rather than the healing touch. Little did his undead kin know, however, that Draco was in fact a Lunatic elder and mystic who had developed a keen interest in Kálmán’s extraordinary intellect. With the gifts of his Blood, the Malkavian broke what was left of the king’s mind but healed his body even as he took his life by granting the Embrace. Kálmán was buried and forgotten, only to return decades later to the court of his son, now undead himself and ruling as the Prince of Nitra. Like István the Monk, Kálmán the Learned walks the via Caeli, and even beyond the joyful welcome of long-parted father and son his insights and visions granted him the protection of the powerful prince. Kálmán resides in Nitra still, and his reputation for accurate predictions and sagely wisdom has made him increasingly welcome throughout the Cainite courts of the land. When he can overcome the extreme paranoia and paralysing guilt that bedevils him, Kálmán journeys most often to Pressburg and Székesfehérvár at the request of Gregor and Jutas. However he will not go to Estergom because Géza apparently terrifies him, and he is loathe to journey to Buda-Pest because he has been harrassed by the mysterious Havnorduring past visists. Although he is not Ventrue, he has earned his place among his kin and none would gainsay the welcome given by his betters to the forlord and castigated former king.
Prominent Fallen Árpáds
These Ventrue were one notable among the bloodline, but they have since fallen to their enemies or else vanished from their demesnes. At any rate, in the eyes of their judgemental kin the latter amounts very much to the former. Most of these vampires fell before armorial trends made their way to the Kingdom of Hungary, but in order to show due honour to the Árpád bloodlines, certain seneschals and keepers have agreed upon posthumous badges for them.
Zombar Árpád, Prince of Buda and Pest, Dux Bellorum of Hungary; suicide (7th generation, childe of Bulcsú, e. 960 – d. 1071). The first of the progeny of the Man of Blood, Zombar also enjoyed the prestige of being his mortal son. Before his spectacular and damaging immolation in the public square of Buda at dawn on New Years Day of 1071, he was also the most active, admired, and influential among his kin behind Bulcsú himself. Even the rivalry between Géza and Vencel was little more than a studied antipathy under the watchful eye and tactful tongue of Zombar, who was widely acknowledged as the chief aide-de-camp of his sire-father and heir to the Blood if misfortune or murder should fall upon the Man of Blood. In the early nights of the Grand Principality and then Kingdom of Hungary, he was also the primary proponent of ensuring that those members of the treacherous family that would otherwise meet their end by an assassin’s dagger or a poisoned chalice would instead find their way into the undead dynasty that his father-sire was determined to build. He served Bulcsú wisely and well for more than a century as his second and his warmaster, always encouraging his kin towards cooperation againt the manifold threats that assailed the Árpád Ventrue. Indeed, it was largely the leadership of Zombar, not Bulcsú, that welded what was essentially a series of ancilla and neonate coteries into the Scourge of the Tzimisce in Pannonia during the early years of the kingdom. Gradually though, despite his success he began to grow morose and fatalistic, eventually withdrawing to his haven near the castle of Buda and venturing out but little by 1060. In his last years he even gave up his coveted position as dux bellorum and, aside from penning a few philosophical letters to his childer, entirely took his leave of Cainite society outside his own court. Instead, he spent long hours brooding upon the nature of life, death, and freedom, which ultimately ended in a great frenzy and suicide. His end would prove costly to the bloodline, for it destroyed all sense of hierarchy, fellowship, and momentum among his fellow Árpáds began to erode soon after, and it has never recovered. Although it cost much to preserve the Silence of the Blood in the wake of his spectacular end, Zombar’s memory is still revered by many of his undead Árpád kin, who look back to his leadership as a golden time.
Jelek Árpád, Prince of Sopron and Dux Bellorum of Hungary; personally slain by Vladimir Rustovich (8th generation, childe of Zombar Árpád, e. 991- d. 1139); The son, favoured progeny, and protege of Zombar, eldest and most prized of Bulcsú’s childer, Jelek was a noted captain, skilled politician, and exalted leader of the bloodline for many years. Already a prince in his own right, he stepped into the vacuum left by the suicide of his sire to take up his role as warmaster of the Árpáds, and in this role he excelled for more than ninety years. He was not the oldest of Zombar’s progeny, but he was the finest warrior in a coterie of warriors. Jelek’s planning was responsible for the successful annexation of Transylvania into the Kingdom of Hungary, which led to the destruction of dozens of calcified and anachronistic Tzimisce knezes, and he and his war coterie also ensured the success of the Árpáds in their drive on the demesnes of Croatia and Slavonia in the final years of the 11th century. In honour of his bravery and accomplishments, King Bulcsú gave Jelek leave to establish the Order of the Griffon, a select organisation of puissant Cainite knights. Membership is available only to the best of the warriors among the Árpád Ventrue. However, he is best known for prosecuting the War of Griffons and Dragons against the demesnes of Vladimir Rustovich, a terrifying conflict of attritious night raids and bloody skirmishes that exhausted both sides. It was in one such pitched battle that he met the Final Death in combat with the Voivode of Voivodes himself.
Lampert Árpád, Prince of Munkács and Lampertszász; Missing and presumed destroyed by followers of Vladimir Rustovich (8th generation ancilla, childe of Zombar Árpád [d], e. 1070, d. 1139?). Son of Bela I the Wisent and brother to Géza I and Saint King László, Lampert was the last known progeny of Zombar Árpád, having been embraced a mere month before the scion of the bloodline committed suicide. Unusually, as the Duke of Tercia pars Regni he persisted discretely in the public eye for more than twenty years after his Becoming, assisting first one of his brothers and then the other to the throne while he quietly pursued his own interest in the mystical heritage of the East. Lampert was a known diablerist and a skilled hunter; he made no apologies for his black deeds, belieiving that his efforts would strengthen the Árpáds against their myriad enemies. In particular he made a habit of hunting Tzimisce mystics with the stated aim of tearing the knowledge of their sorcery from either their minds or their souls. Whether he gleaned any of their secrets from the torture rack or their souls is unknown, but in the months before the minions of Rustovich finally took the castle at Munkács and he vanished, Prince Lampert had received a number of overtures from Clan Tremere. No word has been detected of him in many decades, and of all his descendants, only Jadwiga is known to have survived.
Priska von Zeitz, Prince of Trencsén; slain by Bulcsú for disloyalty (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, childe of Gofram [d], e. 852, d. 1118). Another of the original coterie who originally came east with the Man of Blood, Priska was noted for her unusual height, brawn, and proficiency in battle. She was quick to stake her claim on the Slavic lands north of Nitra and Posony, and there she set about building her power-base as an intermediary between the Árpáds and several of the strong bloodlines of Ventrue active in the Kingdom of Poland and Duchy of Bohemia. As the oldest of formative coterie of the Árpád Ventrue, the Falcon of Trencsén was always reluctantly subordinate to Bulcsú’s leadership, especially since she enjoyed the favour of Volstag himself, and she was known to keep up a correspondence with the Ancient and several of his advisors. Over the 150 years of her praxis over the County of Trencsén, she Embraced liberally and used her progeny to extend her influence across a wide swath of territory between her castle and that of the fortification at Sáros. As a walker on the Road of Kings who was deeply loyal to their weakened master, Priska would never have thrown in her lot with the Man of Blood when he broke from Volstag. She and most of her descendants were destroyed in the vicious purge of 1118, while a few bent the knee, more fled to the demesnes of the failing Silesian and Bohemian Ventrue, and a number found themselves back in the Nordmark, eventually finding a place among the Eastern Lords. Ironically, the weakening of the north brought on by the fall of the Red Lady of Trencsén and her followers allowed the Tzimisce to resurge in those counties, and the Árpáds remain weak there to this night.
Joachim von Bayern, Prince of Arad; Imprisoned and executed by Voivode Rustovich (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, childe of Rolf von Herberstein, e. 903, d. 1128). A Bavarian knight who was a particularly bellicose Cainite warlord, Joachim spearheaded many of Bulcsú’s early assaults on the Slavic, Vlach, and Avar coteries that still claimed much of Pannonnia in the wake of the establishment of the Hungarian state. A thoroughly sadistic vampire, Joachim delighted in the chaos and spoil of war, and he especially rejoiced in the capture of Tzimisce so that he might learn more of the fine arts of torture from them. He established his praxis in distant Arad, far from the strongholds of the ever-expanding Árpád bloodline, attracted numerous Gangrel, Nosferatu, and even Caitiff who were of similiar dispositions to himself. Indeed, for much of the 11th century he was almost a power unto himself in the south-eastern Alföld and it was this, ultimately, that led to his undoing. Joachim’s expansionistic tendencies brought him into direct conflict with the even more ambitious Rustovich, and he was the first of the Hungarian Ventrue to fall before the rise of the voivode.
Guntbert von Sachsen, Prince of Varad; creatively slain by minions of Vladimir Rustovich. (9th generation Ventrue ancilla, childe of Rachel Eisenberg, e. 924, d. 1131). One of Bulcsú and Gregor’s original coterie-mates, Guntbert was always an adventurer at heart, possessed of a powerful love and fascination for the mountains and hills of his adopted home. For a very long time, Guntbert and his castle acted as the boss of an Árpád shield that kept the off-balance Clan of the Dragon from striking back at the Ventrue, allowing the mortal Magyar armies to complete the annexation of the Transylvanian heartland of the Tzimisce. As such, after Vladimir Rustovich accrued enough power to to take the city of Arad, the domain of Varad and the head of its prince were very much a priority for the rising voivode. Guntbert hosted Jelek and his coterie for nearly three years as they struggled against the brilliant warlord. Ultimately, however, they failed, and Prince Guntbert and his retainers went down fighting in order to facilitate the flight of the Dux Bellorum. His sacrifice would purchase a terrible fate. Tortured and dimembered, by some foul sorcery his head retained his consciousness long enough for messengers to carry it to the capital in order to transmit a message and warning to his fellow Ventrue. As the horror of his predicament dawned across his features, Guntbert’s head finally disintegrated into ash.
Martirius Apafi, Prince of Kecskemét, “Ban” of Bosnia* and Lord of Serbia* (8th generation ancilla, childe of Bartholomäus von der Feder, e. 937, d.1163). Among the youngest of the Man of Blood’s original coterie, the incorrigible Martirius was the first of the German Cainites to fully adopt Magyar custom, language, and dress, going so far as to bring several of his mortal descendants into the fold of the new realm. Although he held praxis over the small domain of Kecskemét, he left the management of it to childer and mortal assistants, for he was seldom there. Indeed, Martirius was an obscure traveller among the Árpád courts for centuries, always it would seem on the business of the Man of Blood. Very much a lover of intrigue and conquest by subtle means, he chose to move this way and that at the bidding of Bulcsú so that he might expand the domain of both mortal Hungary and the undead hegemony of his master. It is the brilliant Martirius who can be directly credited with engineering the subsumption of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia to will of the Árpáds, and his strategies were also useful in the annexation of mortal Transylvania to the kingdom. Unfortunately, in due course he was also a victim of his own success, for Martirius grew conceited in his brilliant successes. By the middle of the 12th century, he had grown greedy in his desire to pove his worth, choosing to recruit coteries of young and ambitious vampires to press his intentions towards claiming the lands of Bosnia and Serbia for the Árpád Ventrue. He chose his agents well, but did not consider the charisma and vision of Mutimir Vlastimirović, a Tzimisce elder who had spent centuries building his dominion over the latter state. Uniting the disparate local coteries of Tzimisce, Gangrel, and Brujah, Mutimir beat Martirius at his own game, routing the foreign coteries and hounding the puppetmaster all the way back to the fringes of Croatia. Outside the small town of Osijek it is said that Apafi made his last stand and met an honourable end. He is remembered both as an aspirational tale and cautionary lesson by the Árpáds.
Karol Borbás, Prince of Schäßburg; torpor in Pressburg (8th generation ancilla, childe of Erik von Geltenberg [d], e. 1094). Tenure: 1150-1175. A formidable and highly honourable warrior who had earned the acclaim of his fellow Árpáds during the War of Griffons and Dragons, Prince Karol was Nova’s earliest supporter. In thanks for his loyalty, she named him Warmaster of the Siebenburgen and he enjoyed much early success subduing the fractious Tzimisce of the Carpathian basin. Unfortunately, his success earned the envy of his brother-in-arms Heinricus of Kronstadt and the enmity of Vlad Ionescu, a particularly clever and belligerent voivode. After several Trials by War, he was defeated by the Warlord of Mureș in 1175 and taken prisoner. It is known that Karol was tortured for weeks before he was finally fleshcrafted into an unliving box by his victorious captor so that he might deliver a warning and rebuke to Lady Nova. His progeny, János, recovered Schäßburg in 1199, and rules there still in hopes of returning the city to his sire at some point. The fallen Prince Karol survives, but it is said that he remains in a mutated, torpid state to this night, tormented by the agonies that he suffered all those years ago.
Mátyás Árpád, Failed Pretender “Prince” of Schäßburg; slain by Vlad Ionescu (8th generation Ventrue neonate, childe of Nova Árpád, e. 1151, d. 1177). Tenure: None, although his claim lasted from 1175-1177. One of many Árpáds brought across in the honoured family tradition of granting the Becoming to obscure sons and daughters of the ruling house of Hungary, Mátyás was the bastard son of King István II and Ursula, one of his many mistress’. Indeed, Steven’s sexual appetites supplied the Ventrue of the Árpád line with a rich source of potential recruits, for no fewer than six of Mátyás’ half-siblings would find immortality at the fangs of the Árpád Ventrue. Lady Nova took him as her own in hopes of taking advantage of his budding sibling network, and also because his skill at arms and quick mind would make him a very fine warden for Mediasch. Mátyás proved to be an apt student and an able officer of the court, exceeding even his sire’s expectations. When Schäßburg fell to Vlad Ionescu she named him as Karol’s replacement provided that he could retake the city. The knight was given ample resources and the freedom to Embrace suitable candidates in his campaign against Ionescu, and Mátyás strove against the Tzimisce for two years before he was outfoxed, ambushed, and destroyed.
Éliás Orseolo, Prince of Clus; Missing, presumed destroyed by Mitru or Arnulf the Goth (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, childe of Nova Árpád, e. 1122, d. 1190?). Tenure: 1170-1190. Despite his Italian name, the pedigree of this Árpád Ventrue was undoubted for as a mortal, he was the great-great nephew of King Peter the Venetian, the second king of Hungary. Unlike his predecessor, Sir Charles, Éliás was quite skilled in the management of estates and townships, having served his sire and mistress as seneschal first as her ghoul and later as her progeny. His unilateral appointment as prince of Clus by Lady Nova marked a turning point in her relationship with the rest of the Council, as it signalled her willingness (and perhaps even eagerness) to replace each of them with a servant of her own making. Out of resentment for her actions, the hapless Éliás was mostly ignored by his peers save for his sire (who treated him as a yes-man) and Prince Karol of Schäßburg. This was unfortunate, for while he lacked imagination, his practical organisational and financial suggestions made good sense for the future of the council, and might even have borne good fortune in the decades to come. He was a decent prince, save for doing a progeny’s duty by unreservedly backing his sire and catering to her often unsavoury needs. Prince Éliás vanished in 1190, and it is now thought that he was hunted and destroyed on the same night as his sire was captured by Mitru the Hunter.
- Matthias der Haas von Nitra, Freelance Knight and Messenger; thought slain by followers of Dominic the Warlord near Timișoara (8th generation ancilla, childe of Ladislas Debroi Árpád, e. 1079, d. 1192?); Although he was never invited to join the Order of the Griffon, Matthias was accounted the most skilled horseman and one of the finest lancers among the Ventrue of Hungary. He was far more comfortable in the saddle than anywhere else, moving between the demesnes of the Árpád princes rather than settling in any one city, and indeed he had a reputation for being able to carry messages between the princes of Hungary at great speed, thus earning the moniker “Matthias the Hare.” Deeply amused by the imagery and the heraldic connotations, especially given his towering height and impressive musculature, the mirthful Paladin later took the symbol of three hares boltant as his personal badge. Matthias enjoyed the company of Pechenegs and Szeklers over the more staid and westernised Magyars, and it is thought that his feeding proclivities may have been predisposed toward nomads and other constant travellers. At any rate, it was observed that most of his retainers and herd seemed to be of those peoples, and together they moved between settlements selling their lances and bows to the highest bidders among his kin. Unfortunately, he and his retainers were vanquished while fighting the followers of the Brujah warlord Dominic in 1192, and it is almost certain that he either perished in the fighting or was cruelly executed by his foes afterwards.
Concept and Directions
The Árpáds are of Clan Ventrue, but any Cainite that is sworn to one of them is nominally considered to be of the faction as well. Toreador are common, particularly in the larger cities of Esztergom, Pressburg and Buda-Pest. A number of Cappadocians serve in the same cities, often in competition with the Artisans for the station of Seneschal, Keeper of the Lore, or Keeper of Elysium. Several Nosferatu have offered their services to Árpád princes, and it is currently quite fashionable to have Gangrel serve as scourges or wardens. Finally, the hated Tremere have embassyies in a number of Árpád settlements, and their is talk of alliance in the near future. Already they enjoy formal relationships with all three factions, and a number of chantries have sprung up in the Siebenburgen as well.
In general, the Árpáds are known for their wealth, opportunism, and treachery both against each other and to those whom they choose to ally with. Their nearest neighbours of any strength, the Eastern Lord Ventrue of the Holy Roman Imperial borderlands, treat with them readily enough but tend to look askance at them for being “New Men of a New Kingdom” rather than inheritors of the glories of Imperial Rome. Several failing bloodlnes of Bohemian, Polish, and Rus’ Ventrue also consider the Árpáds allies of a sort, although they are in little position to be of benefit to the Hungarian Ventrue, let alone themselves. Indeed, those bloodlines have almost as much to fear from the Holy Roman Imprerial Ventrue as the Tzimisce.
In spite of their poor reputation a few, particularly those belonging to Vencel Rikard’s lineage, have gained some recognition in the West for their valour. Most of the Árpád undead are actually related to the royal house in some manner, with the remainder being descended from either Bulcsú’s original coterie or else German and Italian knights that assisted the Hungarians in their wars of expansion. By virtue of their royal and noble connections, most Árpáds have access to extraordinary wealth, powerful allies and considerable influence should they choose to exercise their birthright. However, at the express order of the Man of Blood, it is forbidden to Embrace the king and his immediate, legitimised heirs, so the majority of those brought across since the turn of the 12th century tend to be obscure bastards or cousins rather than princes and princesses of the blood.
Although they are also bound by the standard advantages and disadvantages of Cainite age, generation, and societal rank, throughout the 12th and 13th centuries a distinct pecking order has taken shape among the faction. This order falls thusly:
- Firstly, those who can confirm both mortal royal status or descent from the House of Árpád and undead descent from Bulcsú enjoy the most prestige among the bloodline;
- These are followed by those who can claim one or the other, a station which is matched by the surviving members of his original coterie of the Man of Blood or, failing that, their foremost heirs.
- Behind these worthies can be found those Ventrue who have been adopted by the Árpád undead or, more rarely, those members of the mortal family who were brought across by vampires of other clans.
- And finally, the servants and vassals of any of the above, who then follow a like pecking order all their own.
The Árpáds are of Clan Ventrue, but any Cainite that is sworn to one of them is nominally considered to be of the faction as well. Toreador are common, particularly in the larger cities of Esztergom, Pressburg and Buda-Pest. A number of Cappadocian’s serve in the same cities, often in competition with the Artisans for the station of Seneschal, Keeper of the Lore or Keeper of Elysium. Several Nosferatu have offered their services to Árpád princes, and it is currently quite fashionable to have Gangrel serve as Scourges or Sheriffs. Finally, the hated Tremere have embassy’s in a number of Árpád settlements, and their is talk of alliance in the near future. Already they enjoy formal relationships with all three factions, and a number of chantries have sprung up in the Siebenburgen as well.
Among the weaker generations of the Holy Roman Empire and northern Italy, the Kingdom of Hungary is still seen as land of opportunity. A number of magnates, includiing Rikard of Buda-Pest, Géza of Esztergom, and Nova of the Siebenburgen actively seek recruits from foreign lands, and many have answered over the years. Indeed, virtually any ambitious Ventrue might fight their way into the Árpáds, providing they are willing to pay the price of admission. Such prices vary by magnate, of course, and so the generous Vencel Rikard is the most likely patron for émigré Ventrue.
By default, most of the Árpáds still follow the via Humanitatis as they tend to be relatively young to the blood and, largely unschooled in the wider world of Cainite ethics, they cleave to it instinctively. Generally speaking most of them do not have a high standing on the road, and certainly the older Árpáds can be every bit as cruel as the Tzimisce in pursuit of amusement and prey. Since the turn of the 13th century, an interest has grown in the various Cainite viae, and other philosophies have begun to take root within the kingdom. However, they have not yet even come close to displacing the Road of Humanity as the primary path of the Árpád Ventrue for in truth, a good many of them are just too damned lazy.
Increasingly, taking their cues from some of those descended from the knightly vassals of Heinrich von Volstag who accompanied Bulcsú on his initial forays into the East, some older vampires step on to the via Regalis or its offshoots among the via Consuasor or the via Tyrannus. Prince Rikard walks the via Equitum and his fame as such has grown enough that he is considered an Ashen Priest or even Paragon of that philosophy. His descendants and some other Árpáds of a more martial bent have grown to emulate him to the point where they choose to step onto his road. Seldom, though, do they come to rule. Paladins are far more common among the foreign adoptees into the Árpáds rather than the native Ventrue.
Early on, one or two Árpád courtiers were exposed to the decadent courts of Southern Europe and they came to follow the via Peccati. As is the wont of those who walk this individualistic path, they sought few recruits to their road but this has begun to change. Perhaps taking note of the sybaritic and sensualist behaviour of their younger kin, some of these ancillae have begun to instruct those whom they feel have the strength of character and worldliness to take up the challenge. In particular, some of the younger Árpáds seem taken in equal measure by the via Voluptarius and the via Crudelitas, and Ashen Priests from distant lands have increasingly been noted among the courts of Hungary. The Road of Sin and its offshoots are a difficult road, however, and few among the Árpáds appear to have successfully stepped onto it.
The least common paths among the major roads are those of the via Bestiae and the via Caeli. While the former is an instinctive path, it seldom finds purchase among the High Clans and even less so among the langourous, sybaritic, and social Árpáds. The exception to this rule tends to be in the east of kingdom proper, where the Alföld meets the foothills of the northern inner Carpathians. In particular, the twin sisters Anikó and Judit, co-princes of the town of Gyöngyös, are thought to adhere to the Road of the Beast and their entire small court walks it alongside them. István the Monk and his father-vassal Kálmán are noted ashen priests on the Road of Heaven; they are developing followers among other demesnes but so far few of them happen to be their undead kin.
Isolated walkers on more obscure roads doubtlessly exist, but if so, they either do not advertise their philsophy or it has yet to be noted by their friends or their foes.