Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
The Malachite Nosferatu
(modified from Constantinople by Night, pp. 68-69)
If legends of noble monsters ever held true, Constantinople’s Nosferatu are proof of those legends. Beneath these Cainites’ deformed visages lie many of the virtues forgotten by Byzantium’s other vampires. Most consider these beasts nothing more than scavengers of blood and information. In the Queen of Cities, however, the Nosferatu do more than hoard secrets – they use them to uphold the tenets of the Dream, and work against the rising tide of doom that assails it from every direction. The Malachite Nosferatu, though few in number, hold status within Constantinople as a Scion family of the Michaelites, although it is known that they serve the Patriarch directly rather than his Muses.
The Malachite family was born amidst the Iconoclast controversy of the eight century. The empire’s monastic orders were disbanded by imperial edict, putting the three core families and their adopted kin at odds with each other. Even the Michaelite Toreador, who supported the veneration of icons as symbolic and not literal, stood against its subordinate family, the Magnus Lasombra. Yet, as stout supporters of ecclesiastic and imperials authority, the Lasombra quickly quashed dissension over the issue of Iconoclasm within their own ranks.
One hapless individual undone during the clashes was a Byzantine prelate named Maleki who – though he did not support the veneration of icons – did not agree with the manner in which the monks were treated. Though Maleki had been promised the Embrace by the Lasombra, his outspoken views instead earned him cruel enmity. Through an outside ally, the Lasombra Magnus had Maleki endure the Kiss of a Nosferatu as punishment for his insolence.
The Patriarch was outraged over the matter; he respected the Nosferatu and would brook no insult to their name by having someone Embraced as a form of corporal punishment. He immediately recognised Maleki as a proper kinsman and gave him family status under his protection. Magnus, though infuriated over the slight, was powerless to pursue the matter further.
While the Nosferatu elder speaks little of his first years as Michael’s chosen, a rumour regarding the founding of the Nosferatu family has circulated for many years. It goes that when Michael took the broken fledgeling under his figurative wing and began rebuilding his fractured psyche, he told Maleki that he would be the Rock of Constantinople, the unbreakable base that would stand under which the spirituality of the Dream and the reality of the substance that was the Queen of Cities. His would be the strength that endures, the rare beauty found in hidden and unlikely places, the rock that the enemies of the Dream would break themselves upon. Michael then called his adopted childe Malachite, after the rare and beautiful banded green stone that he favoured. Some believe that it was also a slight play on the word Michaelite. Regardless, the Nosferatu scion family was born that night, and they have proudly claimed their position within the Dream ever since.
Malachite took the Archangel’s words to heart, and has spent centuries looking for ways to strengthen the Dream from within, to mend cracks in its spiritual walls where he can, and plug holes where the enemies from without have found a way to insinuate themselves into the fold. The job of the Malachite Nosferatu has never been entirely clear to outsiders or, in truth, many of their fellows among the Families. If they could be said to have a mandate, it is to pick up the slack between the spheres of the rest of the families, and to solve problems that arise unexpectedly.
In these troubled nights, the plate of the Malachite Nosferatu is very full indeed.
The Malachite Nosferatu consist of only three members, a number that Patriarch Michael himself insisted upon. Having said that, a number of childer of Malachite have occasionally moved on to other cities in the empire, and it is thought that they regularly courier information back to their progenitor and his two aides. In addition, a number of powerful Nosferatu elders of the provinces, including the mystic Vanth and the anti-Islamic agitator, Alexius, are known to consider Malachite their ally.
As one might expect, the workings and organisation of the Byzantine Nosferatu are largely unknown to the other families. Malachite himself can often be found attending Elysium at the Great Palace or the Old Senate House. There he engages in the politics of the families, and is a frequent ally of Autokrator Natalya Syvatoslav of the Lexor Brujah and Baron Thomas of the Byzantine Gangrel. He is easily recognised, choosing to display his true face without shame or fear.
In contrast, Vaclav is almost never seen in Elysium and is thought to haunt the Latin Quarter, spying on the doings of the Narsene Lasombra and the various other factions and independents among the Latins. Zenobios is even more secretive, and has not been seen since the aftermath of the Latin Riots, though Malachite readily admits that he still receives reports from him.
A ROSTER OF THE MALACHITE NOSFERATU
- Malachite, the Rock of Constantinople (7th gen. Childe of Vasilli the Penitent Dog, e. mid 9th century CE); the Patriarch’s chosen one was a force for the Dream for centuries, although even he has became bound up in prideful feuds as time wore on. His heart is still in the right place, and Malachite works ceaselessly to maintain his mandate to head off trouble to the Dream before it disaster threatens. Few Cainites in the city enjoy more respect than he.
- Vaclav, the Minstrel (8th gen. Childe of Malachite, e. early 10th century CE); known among the Families for being Malachite’s eyes and ears in the Latin Quarter, Vaclav is a skilled performer. Indeed, those Cainites who congregate in the taverns all over the city often cast a suspicious eye at whichever minstrel is playing, wondering if he is actually Vaclav.
- Zenobios, the Hidden (8th gen. Childe of Malachite, e. early 11th century CE); much more circumspect than either his sire or his brother-in-blood, Zenobios is a master of moving about the city invisibly. It is said that his specialty has long been a facility for following his curiosity down strange and pertinent leads. He has not been reliably seen for many decades, and some say that he departed the city long ago. Others say the name is simply a ruse for any number of Nosferatu visiting the city on friendly terms to the family. Whatever the case, Malachite has indicated to certain visiting Nosferatu, those with the right character in his eyes, that he just might have an opening in the family…
Disaster looms when the families of the Trinity argue or turn inwards, and the Nosferatu know it. They seek to make alliances amongst the other Scion families so that they might expand their ability to solve the numerous problems besetting the city. Currently, there appears to be an arrangement of sorts with the Lexor Brujah and the Baron’s Gangrel. Members of the three families increasingly work together, although only the most perceptive of outsiders can guess at what they are up to.
The Nosferatu are known to be deeply concerned regarding the vampiric over-population of the Latin Quarter, and the apparent nonchalance with which the the Cainites there appear to hold the Codex of Legacies. Much of their energy is currently spent attempting to gather information about Bishop Alfonzo’s plans.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER FAMILIES
The Malachite Nosferatu remain loyal only to Michael. Petronius, despite all his efforts to gain the favour of Malachite and his progeny, warrants only cool formality as far as they are concerned. It is thought that the Arbiter gave some dire, unforgiveable insult to Malachite centuries ago. The rest of the Muse’s and their subordinates receive even less regard than he, and Malachite has openly called them useless on more than one occasion. Any overtures from their direction are met with suspicion, at best, and scorn at worst.
The Nosferatu also have little time for the other primary families of the Trinity. The Obertus have ceased to perform any functional role in the Dream, and the Antonians have utterly failed in their mandate.
The ascerbic disposition of the Malachite Nosferatu towards the Magnus and the Narsene families is well known in all districts of the city. Magnus hates Malachite with a vitriol reserved for no other, and Malachite returns his hatred with equal fervour. Their progeny follow suit, and the two families actively and pointedly ignore each other at all times. Bishop Alfonzo is considered an enemy of the Dream by the Malachite Nosferatu, and they strive to keep an eye on him above all others.
As for the rest of the families, the Children of Judas are considered part of the problems besetting the city. The Nosferatu have nothing to do with them. The Lexor Brujah and the Baron’s Gangrel are considered to be allies, and the Nosferatu freely share information with them.
RELATIONS WITH OUTSIDERS
The Malachite Nosferatu are very insular outside of their informal alliances. They trust very few Cainites, especially outsiders. They work only with the Lexor Brujah and the Baron’s Gangrel, and individuals of either clan are only trusted when they are actually members of those families. Outsiders are watched and regarded with skepticism unless they prove themselves as beneficent in disposition towards the Dream. Even foreign Nosferatu are watched carefully. Winning acceptance from the Malachite Nosferatu is a long and difficult task, especially for anyone who happens to belong to the Clan Lasombra.
Little is known of the internal relations of the Malachite Nosferatu. As far as the rest of the city is concerned, the progeny of malachite are fanatically devoted to their sire and the Dream. They are united in purpose and monolithic in disposition. Of course, as their are only two of them, this is more or less taken for granted.
CITY SECRETS: THE ST. LADRE NOSFERATU
(the existence of the knights of St. Lazarus in Constantinople is a secret known only to the Lexor Brujah, the Baron’s Gangrel and a select few other allies. It is included here for archival purposes, and for those GM’s who wish to make use of them)
In truth, the Malachite Nosferatu are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the clan’s presence within the city. A second group, sworn to aid Malachite and his family, consists of urban stowaways who have no politicla voice. They are the St. Ladre Nosferatu and they represent one of the few means left by which Constantinople may yet avoid disaster.
The Nosferatu of St. Ladre or St. Lazarus arose out of an auxiliary order of leper knights that were forced to retire from the Templars and the Hospitallers of St. John. Once afflicted with leprosy, a scourge that is rampant throughout Syria, a knight was forbidden to remain in either order, and was compelled to join the order of St. Ladre. However, a knight retired in this manner could still be called up to fight in defence of the Holy Land, and they frequently were when the Templars and Hospitallers were otherwise engaged. Most famously, they participated in the defence of Jerusalem after the disastrous Battle of Hattin, wherein the Templar and Hospitaller orders were decimated.
The Order of St. Ladre established a network of lazar houses throughout Syria and Europe. These places quickly became secret havens of the Nosferatu, many of whom could pass themselves off as victims of leprosy. In order to protect his secret, one Nosferatu took it upon himself to reveal his existence to the order’s master, Fra’ Gerard, hoping that the master, being a leper himself, would understand the Cainite plight.
Fra’ Gerard did indeed sympathise, and agreed to shelter the Nosferatu as he would have other victims of physical suffering. In gratitude, Fra’ Gerard was Embraced upon his deathbed in AD 1120 and was allowed to carry on his work as Cainite. When it came time for Fra’ Raymond – Gerard’s successor as master of the order – to pass on in AD 1158, he too was Embraced.
With the deterioration of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the St. Ladre Nosferatu were compelled to find new places to hide. Under the wing of Fra’ Raymond, and guided by the visions of three Nosferatu childer, a small group of leper knights fled to Constantinople.
After successfully petitioning Malachite for sanctuary and pledging the service of his order, Fra’ Raymond called to his brethren to join him in the hidden cisterns and sewers of the huge city. Since that time, knights of St. Ladre have been arriving in the city, and their underground network is now cramped with Nosferatu and leprous ghouls. Only a handful of Byzantine Cainites, including the Malachite Nosferatu, are aware of the groups existence, and they are honour-bound to keep their secret.
Until the months before the arrival of the 4th Crusade the St. Ladre Nosferatu consisted of 15 Cainites and over 50 leprous ghouls. As danger gathered about the city, those numbers almost doubled. They organise themselves loosely along military monastic lines in emulation of their mortal brothers, and look to Fra’ Raymond as both their spiritual and temporal master. They are expected to pull their weight in achieving the Dream, and appreciate that the Malachite Nosferatu do not expect undue deference from them in return for harbouring the order.
A PARTIAL ROSTER OF THE ST. LADRE NOSFERATU
- Fra’ Raymond, Master of the Byzantine Lazarenes (8th gen. Childe of Fra’ Gerard, e. 1158 CE); thought to be the Raymond du Puy de Provence, Fra’ Raymond enjoys wisdom and skill well beyond his relatively few Cainite years. He and Malachite treat each other as equals — partners in defence of the Dream — and they work diligently in their united purpose.
- Fra’ Ignatius, his chief aide-de-camp (9th gen. Childe of Fra’ Raymond, e. 1165 CE); a skilled medic, brave warrior and steady counsellor, Ignatius has long served his sire as lieutenant. For the most part, Ignatius busies himself establishing the subterranean redoubts of the knights, their retainers and their herds. If Raymond were to fall, Ignatius would be the natural choice to succeed him.
- Fra’ Osmund, the wise man (9th gen. Childe Fra’ Raymond, e. 1193 CE); despite his relative youth in the blood, this Saxon by way of Outremer enjoys a great deal of respect among the Lazarenes. In life he was the lord of Dera, a border territory in the east of the Kingdom of Jerusalem which required a very cool head to administer. When his lands were lost to Saladin after Hattin, Osmund joined the Templars, and later the the Lazarenes. In all roles he had proven himself to be a level head, a valiant heart and a steady blade. He is a fast friend to Conrad of the Lexor Brujah, owing to their previous association among the Templars.
- Fra’ Zoticus, the old soldier (9th gen. Childe of Fra’ Raymond, e. 1168 CE); a powerful and brutal combatant, this Cypriot is something of a master-at-arms among the Lazarene knights. He spends much of his time ensuring that the order’s arms and the knights who make use of them are kept ready for action. The survivor of a lifetime of war, he is also probably the most able tactician among the fellowship.
- Fra’ Basil, Chief Scout and Animal Master (9th gen. Childe of Fra’ Raymond, e. 1177 CE); a profoundly skilled scout, Basil is also the most advanced practitioner of Animalism among the knights of St. Ladre. He uses both faculties to keep the band apprised of tidings in the Latin Quarter, and also to provide advance warning of potential threats.
- Fra’ Theodore, talented scout (9th gen. Childe of Fra’ Raymond, e. 1189 CE); cautious and circumspect by nature, this leper knight is an excellent spy and scout. He is frequently to be found as Fra’ Ignatius’ aide and companion.
- Fra’ Armand, zealous scout (9th gen. Childe of Fra’ Raymond, e. 1196 CE); an overly cavalier, sometimes callow scout who contracted leprosy just months after gaining his spurs. Armand certainly does not lack courage, nor nobility of spirit, but he sometimes lets his enthusiasm for battle and justice trample good sense.
- Fra’ Humphrey, the seneschal (10th gen. Childe of Fra’ Ignatius, e. 1188 CE); an avid bean counter if ever the the chivalric tradition could have produced one, Humphrey was once the Castellan of Blanchgarde. He is the true organiser behind his sire’s attempts to establish Lazarene redoubts beneath the city.
- Fra’ Theodmund, stalwart blade (11th gen. Childe of Fra’ Humphrey, e. 1199 CE); a young knight of Aachen who contracted leprosy on the Crusade of 1197, Theodmund was Embraced because he impressed Humphrey with his intelligence. He is a frequent cohort of Fra’ Osmund.
- Fra’ Amalric, the rat-brother (10th gen. Childe of Fra’ Basil, e. 1200 CE); once a household knight to the Bishop of Metz, Amalric also became victim of leprosy on the Crusade of 1197. Like his sire, he has an unusual facility for the Animalism discipline, especially regarding his rapport with rodents. He frequently assists Fra’ Osmund in his work.
- The Three, visionary children that link the Nosferatu leaders (8th gen. Childer of Malachite, e. 1096 CE); a trio of brothers possessed of a miraculous psychic connection, these children were Embraced at the behest of the Patriarch over a century ago. Their existence has been kept secret to all save the Malachite family and, now, the St. Ladre Nosferatu. They can speak to each other no matter the distance; one of them always keeps by Malachite’s side, another attends Fra’ Raymond, and a third wanders the city.
- at least 15 other Leper Knights now take shelter under the city, and are careful to conceal their presence.
Less accomplished as a rule in the arts of Obfuscate than their Byzantine brothers, the St. Ladre knights tend to keep to the sewers and cisterns. When they must move about the city, they do so heavily swathed in company with several of the Baron’s Gangrel. When in the Latin Quarter, they are especially careful, and tend to disguise themselves as beggars. They do so often, attempting to keep an eye on the many intrigues of the Narsene Lasombra.
RELATIONS WITH OUTSIDERS
The St. Ladre Nosferatu have a loose hierarchy, and are prepared to recruit those who can aid them in their task provided they show dedication to the Dream, loyalty to the Malachite Nosferatu, and faith in Christianity. They do not approach outsiders cavalierly, and will watch them for some time to take their measure before considering an alliance.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER FAMILIES
The St. Ladre Nosferatu are known to several of the Lexor Brujah: Natalya Syvatoslav, Procet, and Sir Conrad, who in turn keep their secret and benefit from the association. Most of the Baron’s Gangrel are aware of the St. Ladre Nosferatu, and the two factions often provide manpower when the other requires it.
The St. Ladre Nosferatu are deeply loyal to Fra’ Raymond and Malachite. Perhaps only Fra’ Gerard is more revered than they. Any one of the St. Ladre knights would sacrifice their existence to protect their leaders; their word is law and while organisation is loose, loyalty most certainly is not. There are small conflicts of personality within the ranks, but nothing that could be called dissension or trouble.