Elysium: The Elder War

Journal Entry 10 (362 AD), Nox

Journal Entry #10 (362 AD)

No wound is worse than an old wound torn open again.  Its been 20 years since Narses trespassed in my domain, but it has been constantly at the back of my mind.  It was extremely difficult and humbling to have everything a person could dream of having one day, and to have it all taken from me in the blink of an eye.  My domain is all I have from those days.  Once a hidden retreat full of the finest treasures, now it is a humble domus with simple furnishings in a well-maintained neighborhood.  More than that, it is a home.  A place where my friends and I can be at ease.  It may not be much, but it is all I have left, and I will protect it and the people that live there with every ounce of my being.

Finding Eupraxus in my domain was irritating enough.  Finding out that he had led hunter…HUNTERS…to my domain is intolerable!  I swallowed my anger and, with the help of my friends, tried to move him out of the area as quickly and quietly as possible.  Eupraxus wanted us to escort him to the Necropolis, but there was no way we would lead him to one of the entrances in our territory.  Instead, we led him towards the Flavian Amphitheatre where we knew of a less dangerous access in an insulae from one of our past adventures.

We hadn’t even reached the end of the block when we were set upon by a group of Eupraxus’ cult members.  The disapproval from Petronius as they fawned over the Toreador was impossible to miss.  Before we could deal with the cultists, another group approached from the other direction.  They were the hunters that Eupraxus was fleeing from.  I managed to conceal my presence quick enough to get out of the way.

The hunters turned out to be kindred, a number of whom were skilled in the Gangrel art of Protean.  Even worse, they turned out to be religious kindred in service to our old nemesis, Narses.  Petronius tried to stop them from attacking, but they resisted, and we, as a coterie, were of one mind and leapt into action to protect our domain and those that were in it.

Adrasteia and I managed to take out the kindred at the rear of the pack, quickly and quietly.  Gowan and his guards moved to protect him.  I was shocked to discover that one of them was a Lupine!  Fortunately, Gowan seems to have complete control of the beast.  Petronius and Marcus fought bravely in the heart of the battle between the two forces.

We were outnumbered so badly, I thought for sure that we were going to die that moment.  The enemy, however, underestimated our anger and our commitment to protect our territory.  The enemy kindred were dropped quicker than anyone anticipated.  Their forces on the surrounding roofs thought better of joining the fray, and fled into the night.

Petronius interrogated on of the survivors, and once we had wrung all the information we could from them, I dragged them into a nearby alley and cut their throats.  I hadn’t killed since that night long ago with Diocletian.  The anger I felt tasted familiar.  It was intoxicating at first.  After it was done, when we were returning to our haven, my thoughts kept returning to those moments in the alley and I began to feel nauseous.  Its easy to order soldiers to kill in your name, for your cause.  Its another thing to feel the flesh part beneath your claws, and to see and feel the blood on your own hands.  Just thinking about it now, as I write these words, my hands begin to tremble.

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Journal Entry 9, Nox

Journal Entry #9

I have not felt this king of rage since my mortal days.  The GALL of these trespassers entering MY domain and disrupt MY people.  People that I protect.  People that I have helped prosper.  In the old days, I would have had them beaten, dragged through the streets and then crucified as an example to discourage other rabble rousers.  Apparently, my time in Petronius’ company has helped quell that part of me.

Of greatest concern was the fact that the monk was able to somehow overcome my ability to cloud his mind to my presence.  I have heard rumors of mortals that were true believers that were resistant to our abilities.  Maybe there is some truth to it.  Regardless of how strong his faith was, the gods judged him unworthy and he was slain by rival Christian sect.

I feel bad for Petronius, he tried his best to stop the violence and to save the prostitutes, that the monk had recruited into his cult, from the pyres.  Petronius’ skills as a mediator did prevent the situation from escalating.

 

The wild card in all of this was the presence of the Lasombra Narses.  He violated our domain on multiple occasions, even after my command that he leave and never trespass again.  I would find him and kill him myself, but how does one kill a shadow?

In the days that followed, my friends and I continued our discussions about the looming threat of the Stryx.  We’ve decided that it might be best if we make our way east to Constantinople.  There is still so much left undone in Rome though.  I think it is time to reward Cassius for his years of service and loyalty.  I have been grooming him to take on more responsibilities, so this is looking like the opportune time to put that plan into action.  I’ll have to seek permission, but I believe he will make a good addition to our society.

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Journal entry 5, Petronius

We are moving some of our possessions to Constantinople, preparing for the inevitable attack of the Stryx, and I come across this journal.  I had forgotten all about it, but it remained, wrapped carefully in my desk drawer.  I had intended to keep careful documentation of my time as one of the immortal, but other matters seemed more important.  Now I think I will come back to this journal when and if time permits.  This is one such occassion.

Decades have passed since my last entry.  I am now Consul in the Senex, I maintain my relationship with Decima, I am in regular contact now with the Fellowship of Judas, we have expanded Nox's domain (which we now share as a coterie), and we have prepared for our inevitable relocation to Constantinople, building domain, influence, and allies in this new place.  In other words, we have kept busy.

Protasius proved himself an able retainer, he is an able speaker, calm and reasonable.  He has maintained contacts with various parts of the Roman bureaucracy which has been quite useful to accommodate my influence, he shows what I can only describe as a pragmatic efficiency.  He asked me to make him immortal, and about 15 years ago, I complied with his request.  Having childer has proven to be a time consuming responsibility, but Protasius has shown himself worthy of the effort at this time.

There has been unrest in Rome as it struggles to adapt to Christianity, and we saw such unrest in our own domain over the past few days.  While hunting we were drawn to a large crowd around a blazing bonfire.  We discovered that it was in front of a neighborhood brothel, where the prostitutes were burning all their worldly possessions, and loudly singing the names of their past clients, which obviously included several men in the crowd.

The crowd however was enthralled by a monk, who was the only male in front of the brothel, who was clearly a religious fanatic.  He was joined by a beautiful and very pale woman I had never seen before who spoke only in scripture.  The monk turned his attention to Nox, completely ignoring his ability to conceal himself, and started accusing him of being a sinner, demanding repentance, and further aggressive accusations.  Now the entire crowd seemed able to see Nox as they all stared and began to make accusations.  I have never been so frightened of a mortal before.

I interrupted and used by presence to draw the attention of the crowd away from Nox, and I moved away from him to allow him to disappear.  "My friend, is such a spectacle really necessary?", I asked.  The Monk turned his attention to me, as the pale companion pointed at me and spouted scripture.  It was at this moment that something truly terrifying happened.  A deep well of panic rose from deep within me, and an urge to turn and run became nearly overwhelming.  I nearly succumbed, and later I was told by my companions that they had instead been filled with wild rage, again nearly to the point of falling to frenzy.  I suspect we are very fortunate that none of us obeyed our instincts.

Everything I tried against this monk was ineffective.  He showed complete immunity to all powers of dominate or presence that I attempted to use to calm him.  In the end, I engaged him in debate, but found him a challenging orarator.  In the end, when he found that he could not best me in this contest, he demanded I leave, which is an offer he did not need to repeat as my companions were now safely away.

My companions had found someone else of interest in the crowd.  A young vampire named Narses of clan Lasombra.  He asked our permission to "torment" and "perfect" the members of the convent.  I had him explain what he meant, and a monster was revealed.  Narses wished to torture them, and have them torture themselves for his pleasure.  He felt that vampires were divinely required to harm and victimize mortals, and Narses clearly was all too happy to do his part.  I was disgusted by him.  We told him that he would not have permission and he was to go.  We should have killed him when we had the chance.

The next night we found a Deacon of the Arian Christians named Damasus arrive at the convent with armed men.  There he accused the monk and his companion of witchcraft.  This is a charge, given what I had witnessed, might indeed be true.  The two left the convent, and we followed them, only to be seen by them, at which point they quickly turned about and fled into the convent through a back entrance.  I knocked on the door and asked to speak to them, to see if there was anything I could do to prevent violence, but again, there was no conversation to be had with either.  I decided going to Damasus was my only course.

I did so only to find he had a writ by the Emperor to execute all in the convent.  I dominated him to spare the nuns (the former prostitutes), and found that unlike the monk, he was susceptible.  Returning to the convent, Nox was waiting there, and told us that Narses has disobeyed our commands.  Nox had confronted him and given him one final warning, that he must leave our domain and not return.

Damasus arrived and gathered the monk, his companion and all the nuns and accused them of witchcraft and commanded his men to tie them to stakes.  Had my dominate failed to work, or had this monk somehow had my dominate dissipate into nothing?  Perhaps Narses had done something.  I quickly approached calling for the nuns to be spared, only to have half the armed men turn on me.

I managed to talk the men down, and rather than attacking me, they took me into custody and led me to the front of the convent, where Damasus had the monk and his companion put to the torch.  I stood there helpless, but relieved when the nuns were spared, though they were put to the lash with demands for repentance (had they not repented already?  I cannot believe that if indeed this monk and his companion were witches that any of these woman were aware of such trickery).

The monk screamed as he burned.  I immediately regretted not including him in the command to Damasus, but his companion seemed to not even notice the flames.  When she died all the flames went out immediately and we notice that she was barely burned at all.  Was she an angel?  A demon?  I don't think we will ever know, but I am sure that her death was either a saving grace or a tragedy.  I fear it may have been the latter.

It was then that Narses appeared, none of us, not even Nox or Adrasteia saw him coming.  He appeared behind the deacon and ripped out his throat.  We drew our weapons, but the time they were out of their sheathes, Narses took the form of a shadow and was gone.  Such power in someone so young is humbling and concerning.  We were outraged.

The Senex quickly pronounced the final death for Narses, but he was nowhere to be found.  I suspect should we ever find him that we will test his power, and either he or us shall meet our final deaths.

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Journal Entry 7, Nox

Journal Entry #7

I’m tiring of politics faster than I thought I would.  I do, however, find myself enjoying the research that I’ve been doing and have begun setting up my own network of contacts.  I have added some responsibilities to Cassius’ duties so that I can continue to get information during daylight hours.  I still have a lot to do, and a lot to learn managing such a network, but I find the experience rewarding.

There was an interesting moment in the Senex tonight.  There was a new call to dissolve the Inconnu, and instead of being rejected outright by the assembled members, it seems that such thoughts have taken hold in certain quarters.  There was opposition to it, but it lacked the passion.  Some of the Senex assume the status quo will always prevail, and they may find themselves in the minority soon.

Young Petronius frustrated both sides by bringing up a third option, one of making a series of reforms to the way the Senex conduct business.  I was proud of him for standing up to both sides.

What followed was unexpected and for the first time showed us the true face of the danger facing us.  Petronius received a letter from the Augers asking him to find a mortal named Giaus Flavius, and to deliver him to them.  Marcus received a similar letter asking him to find the same mortal, but to deliver him to the Lancea Sanctum.

Both factions wanting the mortal at the same time was curious, but we were unable to deduce their reasoning until we located him.  Petronius recognized him immediately as his old friend, and son of the emperor, Flavius Julius Crispus.  The fool was traveling undercover with only two bodyguards.

We decided that we couldn’t turn Crispus over to either faction, and sought to get him away from the wine bar he was at, and get him back to the safety of the palace.  Petronius revealed himself to his old friend, and convinced him to go with us.

Out on the street we were ambushed by a Stryx.  I hadn’t realized how powerful they were until that moment.  In a flash, the bodyguards were dead, and the Stryx that had possessed them were somehow vanquished or chased off. 

The lead Stryx abandoned her host body and possessed Crispus, limiting our options.  We were able to subdue and bind her, without killing Crispus.  Hurriedly, we moved the bound Stryx underground and through the Necropolis to Marcus’ sire.  Aelia was furious that we brought the Stryx into her haven, and in hindsight it truly was a bad decision.  I should have known better.

I was also taken about by Aelia revealing herself to be a Ventrue, even though Marcus claimed to be a Toreador.  I’m surprised that such a glaring deception was revealed so openly.  This concerns me greatly.  My coterie and I could be in grave danger now that we know this.

I was shocked by the way in which Aelia dealt with the Stryx.  She slew Crispus by draining his blood, thus driving the Stryx out, and then she embraced him by feeding her his blood.  Unfortunately for Crispus, he was not humbled by his new condition, and proved himself beyond redemption.  His will was then broken by a very powerful kindred, and now he serves in the Legio Mortuum.

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Journal Entry 6, Nox

Journal Entry #6

The good news is the dreams have stopped.  Now I’m haunted by Petronius’ continual pestering over my past.  I kid of course, but it is strangely reassuring that our friendship has survived the revelation of my past.  We’ve had many discussions about it, and where once I was sure about my actions seeking retribution for Numerian and father’s deaths, I now find my self second guessing those actions.  Petronius is a truly gifted speaker.

During one of these conversations, while walking through the Necropolis, we observed a Gangrel named Selbarec behaving strangely.  He was rumored to have knowledge of a hidden barbarian treasure hidden somewhere within the Necropolis.  Before I knew it, Adrasteia and Petronius had set off in pursuit, so I followed behind.

Selbarec lead us on a merry chase through the Necropolis, eventually passing past a shrine that he appeared to have looted as he passed.  So much for the rumors of his great treasure horde.  We finally caught up to him as he entered a new section of tunnel that the builders were working on.  He had joined three other Gangrels.  After listening to their conversation, we deduced that they were Lancea Sanctum heretics, and they were discussing their plans to attack the Senex and cause chaos.

Sneaking away before we were noticed, we met up with Marcus and then sought out and informed War-crow of the discovery, and joined the Legion Mortuum’s squad in confronting them.  My companions were a little too eager to enter the fray than a liked, but the traitors were dispatched quickly and efficiently.

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Journal entry 4, Petronius

One year I have had to discuss with Nox his past, his vengeance and his repentance, and I believe now that his salvation is not only possible, but probable.  I no longer believe he lusts for revenge on those who may have manipulated Diocletion, so I have abandoned my efforts to impede his investigations on this matter.

It was during one of these very discussions when we witnessed Selbaric, a vampire and a savage of ill-repute skulk into a hidden passage within the necropolis.  Andrasteia gave chase, and we followed Andrasteia.  Eventually, the barbarian found himself with a heretical group of Gangrel who believed the lord would channel through them and destroy the Inconnu.  Naturally, we immediately provided Warcrow with this information, and we personally aided the Legion of the dead with dispatching these fanatics.  It was strange to use my sword again in actual combat after years of disuse, yet I found my arm still willing, and years of training came back to me quickly enough.  Combined with the power of vitae I found that I am now a force to be reckoned with, yet remain nothing compared to Marcus, who is lightning fast and has the strength of many.

Learning all we could about the uprising we found ourselves with our first visit to the Lancea Et Sanctum indeed, once again we must speak of fanaticism.  I found neither Rhetrix nor Hostilinus compelling nor worthy examples of Christians.  Two fanatics who I find little in common with.  I will not be attending Mass and the Lancea Et Sanctum soon.

It is these two very fanatics who came before the Senex and demanded the immediate dissolution of the Inconnu.  Replaced with what?  Nothing, anarchy, despotism I suppose.  In response, a tired call to keep everything stagnant, in what we know is a dying world.  I attempted to call for reform, not revolution.  There are many traditions, laws and systems within the Inconnu that are not worth discarding.  Within the Inconnu, despite all its imperfections, we have society, we have civilization.  I felt my words to be some of my best, some of my most compelling in all my speeches to the Senex, but alas, moderation apparently has no place in a modern political system.  We are forced in a dichotomy between fanaticism and blindness.

Afterwards, I received a letter from the Augurs asking I deliver to them a mortal, one by the name of Giaus Flavius.  Seeming like an innocuous request, I agreed.  Marcus received a near identical request from the Lancea Et Sanctum.  What importance could one mortal have?  I was horrified to learn that the demands were in fact for Flavius Julius Crispus, my old schoolmate, the successor of my father, and the son of the Emperor.  Crispus appeared to be travelling incognito, and despite the obvious risk, I decided I must warn him of the danger he was in and try to escort him to a place of relative safety.

It was there that the Stryx attacked.  They are all we have been warned about.  Crispus’s bodyguard were dropped in an instant.  Only together were my coterie and I able to eventually confine Crispus once he was possessed by one of these nightmares. 

Lying dying on the street were the two bodyguards, and Marcus and I decided that we would provide them blood so they might live.  The one who used my blood is Protasius, the more social of the two.  

I decided we must ask for help from my sire Antonius.  We were on the way to my sire when Marcus asked me if my sire was to truly be trusted.  This is a difficult question to answer, for Antonius is one of the more trustworthy elders I have met, yet are any of that age not a mystery?  I replied that I felt he was more trustworthy than most when Marcus made a bold statement.  He claimed his sire was completely trustworthy, and that we should instead take Crispus to her.  Trusting Marcus, I reluctantly agreed.

Aelia was not impressed to see us, nor what we brought, she was filled with anger.  She quickly killed Crispus and embraced him, then told us that this was no longer our concern and banished us from her quarters.  Crispus has not adjusted well to vampiric life, not ready to adjust to being the emperor’s son to a neonate.  I believe Aelia has been dominating him, for he is no longer himself, currently finding a place with the legion.  I pity my childhood friend, but do not know how to help him.

Most importantly, the Stryx have now revealed themselves, and soon, we will find ourselves at the wrong side of an old vendetta against the line of Remus.  Can the Inconnu survive?  Perhaps the Lanea Et Sanctum will get their wish after all.

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Journal Entry 5, Nox

Journal Entry #5

Despite my undead condition, sleep often eludes me.  Those days that I do manage to sleep are fraught with nightmares.  I dream of a day long past.  A day of anger.  A day of retribution.  A day of betrayal. 

With the River Margus protecting my left flank, I deployed my legions in the first formation.  My forces outnumbered the traitors’, the gods are by my side, and the flames of righteous indignation burns bright in my soul.

I rode amongst the center cohorts, the right wing pressing forward ever so slightly in anticipation of meeting the enemy.  The left wing holding steady, ready to repel the enemy’s strength.  The reserves were arrayed behind the center cohorts in case Diocletian’s forces managed to flank the right wing.

As the armies clashed, our superior numbers and the righteousness of our cause swung momentum in our favor.  Still, the battle was hard fought.  I watched on eagerly as Diocletian’s left wing began to falter and fall back.  Victory was ours!  Father and Numerian would be avenged!

Then the traitorous snake, Aristobulus, stabbed me in the back, dragging me off of my horse.  Aristobulus, my trusted ally, my hand picked Praetorian Prefect, was revealed as a traitor.  He stabbed me in the back a second time, but thankfully my armor had deflected most of the damage.  He ranted angrily, frothing at the mouth about how I had seduced his wife and humiliated him.

How DARE that vile snake raise his weapon against his Imperator Caesar!  How DARE he blame me for his own failures as a husband!

I quickly regained my feet, drawing my gladius as I turned to face the treacherous dog.  As my eyes met his, it was not Aristobulus that I faced, it was my friend Petronius.  I attempt to speak to him, but my words are cut short as his gladius slashes my throat and everything fades to black.

This dream haunts me.

I sacrificed a ram to Somnus in hopes that he would grant me peace, but it seems that I am not in the god’s good favor.

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Journal entry 3, Petronius

I am on the edge of a knife.  My destination remains clear, but the path is now obscured.

Due to the testimony of the Augers, our names are cleared, however, their prophecies suggest that the time is at hand, the Stryx come at last for their vengeance, and we all may pay the price for the crimes of the line of Remus.  I have begun to prepare.  No longer do my arms and armor of my days as Tribuni angusticlavia remain in a chest in my haven, but I wear them under my trabea, ready for the inevitable attack.

However, just as our greatest threat comes to bear, so do the strengths I thought I held crumble to dust.  I have facilitated a relationship with Warcrow, the Magistrate of the Legion of the Dead.  This was to be a relationship that could provide protection to all I hold dear, but perhaps not.  Desema showed me a part of the Necropolis that I had never seen, a hidden area where the destitute huddle.  There, kindred unfortunate enough to have been embraced by the wrong clan hide from the Legion of the Dead, as I now understand, they are destroyed without trial, without advocacy, and as Desema indicates, without wrongdoing or ill intent.  The Legion of the Dead, once my greatest protection, may in fact be my enemy. 

My position in the Senex is Paracletus Autem Infirma (advocate of the weak), and for the Legion of the Dead to practice executions without providing me my right to advocate for these kindred is unacceptable.  I must find and change the laws that allow this, and if no such law exists, Warcrow will face my charges on the Senex floor.  This however could weaken our greatest defense.  To Hell with our defense.  I will not lie with the Devil.  To the Stryx I say, come on then!  Here I am!  I have no plan, no weapons, and one other thing…I don't have anything to lose, so come on then!

The one thing that dominates my thoughts, however,  is not the Stryx, not Warcrow, or the ever-increasing thoughts I have that the Inconnu may be beyond redemption.  Instead my thoughts cannot escape memories of my childhood.

"Lucretus Gavrus was the next he had executed.  Again, there was no trial, not even charges laid.", I remember Lactantius well, he was a Berber, a native of North Africa, a scholar, a historian, and a Christian.  He was also my tutor, as well as the tutor of my childhood friend, Flavius Julius Crispus.

"Why did he kill this one?", Crispus loved stories of previous Emperors, particularly the bad ones.  He would then have Lactantius explain how his father, Constantine, our current Emperor, was superior.

"They say that Gavrus had corrected Carinus in front of Aspasius Paternus, and Carinus never forgot a slight.", Lactantius seemed to always learn the most minute details of anything he taught.

"That can't be correct," I would point out, "Paternus died when Carinus was still a child.  He's not going to have Gavrus executed for something he did 20 years before."

"He never forgot a slight.", Lactantius repeated.

Later that day I remember Crispus and I playing swords with sticks we had found in the garden.  Crispus insisted that he was the hero Diocletion, and I had to be the villian Carinus.  "Give up Carinus!  Your whole army has abandoned you!", "NEVER!", I would pronounce with a scowl, "I will kill you, and every good Roman!  Gah!", I pretended to be wounded in the side, "Betrayed by my own bodyguard.  Curse you!".  Crispus would laugh as I hammed up the death scene.

Lactantius would then teach of Diocletion, the hero who defeated Carinus.  He was Emperor for nearly 20 years of peace and prosperity.  Born common, it was the love of Diocletion's own troops that made him Emperor.  His military victories were numerous.  The Samartians, the Carpi, the Alamanni, the Egyptian uprisers, and of course his great victories against the Sassanids, finally bringing peace with Persia.  However, not all his accomplishments were martial.  He expanded the administrative functions of government, reformed taxation, and brought the Empire, on the brink of collapse, back to stability.

"Civil war began after his peaceful abdication, Diocletion became very ill near the end of his reign, and abdicated to Maxentius.  He retired peacefully to his homeland of Dalmatia.  The people begged for him to resume his throne, to which he replied, "If you could show the cabbage that I planted with my own hands to your Emperor, he definitely wouldn't suggest that I replace the peace and happiness of this place with the storms of a never-satisfied greed.", Lactantius would emulate Diocletion as a great Orator, content in his retirement, tending his garden in peace.

Four years later Diocletion died, and my teacher told me it was a peaceful death from old age, well deserved from a long life of service.

Last night I learned that Carinus's death scene was nothing like the childhood games Crispus and I played all those years ago.  Instead he was embraced, and became the Nosferatu Nox.  When I first learned of this I was horrified, but then I couldn't help but wonder, is it true?  Is everything I've claimed about reformation now confirmed?  Could a villain like Carinus really have  seen the error of his ways and finally embraced the virtues of Clementia, Humanitas, and Pietus?  

Nox has had great interest in the influence of our kind on past Emperors.  I asked him if he thought that he had been manipulated, and he said that he thought he had, though the horrible things he had done were his own.  He told me that he was particularly interested in the manipulations of Diocletion, who he said had killed his family.  He added that those who manipulated him would suffer and die as Diocletion did.  I corrected Nox, "…but Diocletion died peacefully of old age."  Nox smiled with great satisfaction.  A smile that showed no regret, no mercy, only a look of one who has caused suffering and took pleasure in that suffering, "No, he died screaming, in pain."  My hopes were dashed.

Nox claims that Diocletion killed his family.  I can only assume he blamed Diocletion for the death of his father Carus and his brother Numerian, though this does not match what I had learned.

His father Carus, who murdered Emperor Probus to become Emperor, ruled for only one year before his death while fighting the Persians.  The exact cause of death is unknown, though he may have been struck by lightning, or died of wounds of battle.  The peaceful succession of power to Carinus suggests that the death was not suspicious.  

His brother Numerian, was murdered by Lucius Favius Aper, his own father-in-law.  Numerian was leading his army back to Rome, when he reportedly fell ill and quickly died (though we now know Aper had poisoned him).  Aper then concealed Numerian's death while he positioned for his own ascent to the purple.  The army discovered the death of the Co-Emperor and Aper was tried and convicted of his murder.  Diocletion himself put Numerian's murderer to death by beheading.

Perhaps the historians are wrong.  Perhaps Diocletion was controlled by vampires.  Perhaps he, under their control, killed Carus and then killed Numerian while framing Aper.  I know firsthand the power of dominate, such a feat is possible by the most powerful of our kind.

Even if that is the case, then Diocletion was not a hero as I was taught, but instead a victim, a common soldier who lost all control of his own life.  Does such a victim deserve a death where he "screamed in pain"?  What kind of monster would delight at that?  It seems the answer may be Nox.

One who I counted on as my closest friend may in fact be a villain.  Obsessed with revenge and sadism over all other concerns, just like the Stryx.  The parallel is alarming to me.  Just as our greatest threat comes to bear, so do the strengths I thought I had crumble to dust.

Nox told me that he was hesitant to tell me of his past lest I judge him for his past deeds.  I am a Christian, I do not judge the repentant on the deeds of the past, however, Nox does not only lack repentance, he smiled when reminiscing of torture and murder, and at the plan to repeat these crimes.  What will his reaction be if I challenge him on this?

The words of Lacantius repeat over and over in my head.  "Carinus never forgot a slight."  Lacantius didn't know how correct he was.  I thought to lust for revenge for 20 years was unbelievable, but now I witness a lust spanning much longer.  I can forgive Carinus for the evils he practiced in life, but can I forgive him the evils he still lusts to commit?  Is there any hope that I might yet reform him?  I must try, but my faith is shaken.

I choose to believe that Nox is still manipulated.  Still a victim of the machinations of those who choose to have him tear down those who might oppose the will of his controllers.  To them I say, you are parasites!  Living on jealously, and envy, and longing for the lives of others.  You FEED on them!  On the memory of love and loss and birth and death and joy and sorrow and so, so, come on then, try me then!  Try me, but I hope you have a big appetite.  I've not lived a long life, but I've lived one that is filled with longing and loss and pain and sorrow and heartache and anguish.  One that may spoil your palate you bastards!  Bring it on, I'm waiting!

I am at the edge of a knife.  My destination remains clear, but the path is now obscured.

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Journal Entry 4, Nox

Journal Entry #4

I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  But instead of feeling relieved, I feel great shame.  My embrace and the revelation of my true monstrous form are a constant reminder of the wrongs that I committed in my mortal life.  That vile Camillus, whose cruel, hedonistic behavior disgusts my companions so, is a reflection of who I really am shames me.  And I have no one to blame but myself, Marcus Aurelius Carinus.

As I feared, the look on Petronius’ face when he learned my true identity was one of disgust.  He tried to hide it, but I cannot blame him.  Better that he, and the others, learned the truth from me than from an enemy trying to turn us against one another.

With our names cleared, we resumed a sense of normalcy in our daily routines.  For the most part, the past week had been mostly quiet.  The coterie met to further discuss the augur’s readings, we agreed that we think they hint at an imminent attack by the Stryx. 

Adrasteia had been helping me prepare for such an attack by planning escape routes and setting up safe houses in the event that things go badly.  During one of her forays in the Necropolis, she stumbled across a cult meeting.  They all bore a symbol of an eye upon their forehead, and were drinking the blood of the leader, but the ritual was interrupted by another group of kindred that collapsed the cavern.  None of the others were familiar with the description of the cult.

I had a surprise visit from Lameth of Clan Cappadocia.  He had spoken with my sire and knew of my mortal bloodline.  He said he needed my help investigating the Tomb of Medon, an ancient Ventrue that Lameth believed was a distance ancestor of mine.

My coterie and I met with Lameth in his haven within the Necropolis, and he led us to the tomb.  Inside I discovered that my ancestor was in fact deceased, and now existed as a wraith, and no longer as a vampire.  This information pleased Lameth, and he agreed to help me research to find out which kindred controlled my family, and most importantly, who controlled Diocletian.

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Journal Entry 2 & 3, Nox

Journal Entry #2

The journey to Mediolanum went better than expected.  I had forgotten the simple joy of being on the road again.  It wasn’t all pleasant though.  No matter how many precautions we took, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortably vulnerable during the daylight hours.  Thankfully two of my companions had retainers that could accompany us and they proved to be quite capable.

We were greeted cordially by the kindred that we met with upon our arrival in Mediolanum.  The city has grown noticeably since the last time I passed through.  Constantine’s decision to rule from Mediolanum is evident by the flow of wealth and flowing into the city.  It is like a small, quaint version of Rome.  It will suffice for the short term, but I miss the timeless grandeur of Rome.

We were directed to the shop of a mortal, Scarnutor.  His odd behavior marked him as a victim of kindred interference.  I wasn’t looking forward to informing Camillus of this possible breach of domain.  Getting to the core of our mission, we secured the package that we were dispatched to deliver to the elder Ventrue. 

On the road, my mind had mulled over all of the possible diabolical items, creatures, and people that the package could have been.  In the end, we were surprised to learn that it was just a lewd statue.  A beautifully crafted statue, but just a large heavy statue.  After loading it on one of our carts, and covering it for modesty sake, we began the return journey.

Despite the unexpectedly mundane cargo, I could see Petronius’ was still vexed by our mission.  His disgust for Camillus was etched on his face.  I sympathize with him, and will continue to try to keep him as far from the hedonist Ventrue’s machinations as possible.

Our return journey was just as uneventful as our outbound trip.  As we neared Rome we debated what precautions we would take, in case we had been set up to be discovered importing such an impure object.  There was also brief talk of destroying the statue instead of delivering it, but thankfully I was able to convince them to abandon such thoughts.  We can’t risk the wrath of one such as Camillus.

Shortly after reaching Rome, we successfully delivered the statue to Camillus’ people and received our payment in kind.  As we were departing, Petronius was approached by Julia Antasia Sabina.  I’m not sure what to make of her.  She clearly wields significant power and influence, but she carries it in an understated way.  She intrigues me, and that scares me to the core.

Attending the Senex, we were forced to remain outside while Petronius faced the ruling council of Rome.  Normally, I would be happy to not be there, but not being at Petronius’ side for this meeting was torturous.  Thank Janus it went well though.  Camillus sung his praises for the young Ventrue, as well as myself and our other companions.

Afterwards, we met to discuss these events, and Petronius shared the information he had found regarding the statue and Camillus’ true motive for the statue as a device to embarrass Tertia Julia Comitor.  Politics are bad enough, but Ventrue clan politics are no place for a Nosferatu.  Petronius wanted to destroy the statue, but I counselled strongly against such action.  I’m glad he has found himself a patron, but I can’t risk losing my own.  I’d rather eyes and ears in both factions.

Ultimately, the problem seemed to have resolved itself.  I suspect Petronius found a creative way to carry through with his plan.  I’m just glad he didn’t try to infiltrate Camillus’ part of the Necropolis himself.

Part of me loathes being dragged into kindred politics.  Part of me finds it intoxicating.  I never learn, do I?

 

Journal Entry #3

A year has passed already, and I feel like I’ve barely shaken the rust off my political game.  And yet, I seem to have ruffled the feathers of at least one bird.  My contacts learned that a Ventrue named Caius Julius Cunctator had gone missing near my domain, and that someone had been spreading rumors that I was involved with the disappearance.

If my path had ever crossed with Cunctator’s, then I was unaware of it.  His name had not come up in my forays into Roman kindred politics. Thankfully, my coterie members agreed to help me look into this disappearance.  I am also intrigued to discover the identity of my new foe.

I tracked down my clanmate, War-Crow, leader of the Legio Mortuum, to see what had been discovered so far.  Cunctator had been missing for 2 weeks, and for a moment it looked like War-Crow seriously inclined to believe the rumors, but thankfully he relented.  He told me where Cunctator’s haven was located, and where his normal hunting grounds were.

Marcus had found similar information, and so we set off to find his haven.  Through an intense night of investigation, we located his haven, and that he was a worshipper of Bast.  Studying the haven, we discovered that he had met there with an unidentified woman.  They had departed the haven, and Cunctator had taken his sword with him.

Searching his regular hunting grounds, we found a caupona that Cuntator had frequented near the Flavian Amphitheatre.  The owner said that he had last seen the Ventrue one week past, in the company of a woman.  Following his lead, we found an entrance to the Necropolis at a nearby an insulae.  There were signs of a struggle, including the ashes of what we believe to be Cunctator.  There was blood spatter on the wall, and a holy symbol of Bast on the ground.  The sword was no where to be found, nor was there sign of the unidentified woman.

Out of clues to follow, we sought a reading from the Augurs.  We each had an augury performed, and the Augurs were willing to provide a statement to speak for our innocence in the Cunctator death.

My search for the mystery woman, and my new enemy have just begun.  I will seek out Clan Cappadocian and ask for their aid.

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