Elysium: The Elder War
"When they bury you, we will be waiting."
You stumble over it when you turn to leave. You didn't know it was there, much less that there was another one behind you. You flail, and your fingers sink into spongy flesh, rotting yet still moving — a sensation identical to the one in your most common nightmare, where you discover that your own body is liquefying. At this moment, there is only one thing you fear more than what they are about to do to you, and that's how much they already know about you.
In a city of chaos and indulgence, the dead keep their fears hidden away in the dark. Embodying those fears are the Nosferatu, the monsters of Necropolis, who cultivate fear and wield it as a weapon. The Worms arise from the graves of every country, barbarian and Roman alike. Many Roman Kindred do not believe that the Nosferatu are even vampires: their twisted minds and bodies are nothing like those of the Propinqui, who easily wear the mask of life, and the Nosferatu's power over nightmares better suits the Striges than the civilized Kindred of Necropolis.
It is because Julius Senex feared the Nosferatu that he took them to his bosom and welcomed them to his Necropolis, keeping them close. There, he promised them, they would be fed, without the danger of being recognized or having their lairs exposed to the sun. In his arrogance, Senex thought to keep watch over teh Worms. His progeny have found that the Nosferatu watch the Ventrue, instead.
Worms always favored the low places, but it was Senex who set them to dig his pit to Dis. The dead widely know that the Nosferatu still dig in the deeps, but whether they dig for their final reward or something else is a matter for conjecture.
The Nosferatu are ever-present below the first few levels of Necropolis. Silent and often invisible, they hear every conspiratorial whisper, every drop of blood spilt, every grunt of fruitless sex. The Worms know the comings and goings of the dead, but the Worms speak not of what they know, and haunt the passages of Necropolis, glaring at their fellow Kindred in silent judgment.
Officially, the nightly work of the Noseratu is the building of Necropolis. The continuing extension of the underworld requires greater and greater architectural sophistication with every level. Each wave of foreign vampires brings those boasting secrets of foreign technology and certain that they can show the Worms how the city should be built. However, those vampires often find their knowledge of underground construction is exceeded by that of the city's resident builders. Usually, foreign vampire discover that the deep work is too dangerous, that an accidental surface breach or, worse, an eternity entombed by a cave-in is simply too frightening to contemplate.
Other Worms find their calling in military service. The harsh customs of the Worms following embrace prepare them well for a life serving as enforcers or spies. Those who routinely steal to the surface find that whatever trinkets or victims they can smuggle back bring a fortune in trade.
Despite the Nosferatu's panoply of unsettling attitudes, habits and disfigurements, most vampires don't think of the Nosferatu as individuals. That so many serve in the Legion of the Dead only reinforces that treatment. "Maintain your Masquerade," one Kindred tells his childe, "or you will be fed to the Worms." The children of the living do not have to brush past and step over their monsters down every corridor. The Worms are synonymous with the paranoia that infects Necropolis.
The Tale of the Roman Nosferatu
When Julius Senex invited the Nosferatu of Rome to the underworld, there were only five. Five who were already there before him, five who did not protest when he called himself first of the Kindred, or when he laid claim to the tribes of Rome. Despite the power of terror they held over others, the five always acquiesced to the Old Man's mighty will. When he set them to dig his tunnels, or to watch his progeny, the five obeyed. Their motives were their own. Sometimes, a Propinquus would see a Nosferatu whom the Propinquus did not recognize. When he asked the creature's name, one of its brethren would answer. "This is my brother worm," it wold say. If they vampire persisted, the creature would continue. "He crawled from the earth," it would answer, "to serve the Senex."
The Nosferatu eschew identity in the traditional sense. In other clans, fledglings are taught that their mortal selves are extended in undead and taught to adapt to existence in the night and the deep. Nosferatu treat each embrace as a new birth. Sires do not discuss the past with their childer, and by the time the creature is allowed to talk to his peers, he daylight world seems distant and unreal.
Nero's fire gave the Nosferatu their greatest opportunity. The numbers of the Nosferatu had steadily grown in the deep, dark depts of Necropolis. when the Red Fear took the city's vampires, the Nosferatu were least affected , and when the dead ran mad and sought sanctuary in the cavernous earth, the Nosferatu were waiting, their arms wide and their grins full of teeth.
Tonight, Worms sit in the Inconnu with the Senex. Those who serve the Legion take names for themselves. But whenever two or more Nosferatu walk together adn they are asked their names, they answer: "We are brother worms."
Wings: Most Nosferatu are members of the Peregrine Collegia, where they serve as excavators and builders, spies and thieves. The Legion of the Dead attracts many Worms of its own: the rule of law offers them a path to legitimacy and their dark powers qualify them uniquely as enforcers and inquisitors.
The Nosferatu are underrepresented in the Senex, but the fires of Nero allowed several elders to become highly placed, if only because they promised to support the surviving elders of the Ventrue.
Finally, a surprising number of Nosferatu are surfacing with the Lancea et Sanctum, proving that the clan has always been much more populous than anyone ever suspected. The same teachings that appeal to the poor of Rome appeal to the piteous monsters of the Damned, and the world of the Sanctified is carried by many of these anonymous creatures.
Nickname: The Worms
Appearances: Many among the Nosferatu are overtly deformed: a man with peeling, shredded skin or a woman whose features droop like running wax. Others bear subtler sifts… a woman whose neck turns just a little too far, as if snapped, or a man whose eyes are glazed with a dead stare. Some speak with voices like pits of snakes, or are accompanied by grave-smells, which fill the noses of Kindred even in Necropolis, even without the drawing of break.
And there are those even worse: those to seem utterly normal, or even beautiful. The Kindred shudder at teh sight of these creatures no less than the deformed, knowing that such Nosferatu must be broken in another way — a way much deep, much more difficult to see.
Nearly all of the Worms are filthy, bringing the muck of their havens with them where they walk and bearing the soil of their diggings in the creases of their flesh.
Havens: The Worms nest in the very deepest tunnels of Necropolis, where the tunnels are fresh and the gases that foul the air are often quickly and mercifully fatal to human prey dragged into the abyss.
Backgrounds: The Nosferatu embrace those who will not be missed. The poor, the outcasts, the criminals. The Worms pick the trampled fruit as much to avoid detection by other vampires as by the mob. There is strength in numbers. There is greater strength in being an uncountable horde.
Roman Nosferatu Broods:
- Crispus (Nosferatu), Cleopatra (Nosferatu), Flora (Nosferatu)
- Marcus Auditor (Nosferatu)
- Melachoate (Nosferatu), Harrod (Nosferatu), Cailean (Nosferatu), Paula (Nosferatu), Androvikus (Nosferatu), Juna (Nosferatu)
- War-Crow, Helvidius Bassianus (Nosferatu), Varros Dominus (Nosferatu), Galla (Nosferatu)
- Trajan (Nosferatu)
- Servia Maria Pustula (Nosferatu), Albanus (Nosferatu), Januarius (Nosferatu), Florus (Nosferatu)
- Nox (Nosferatu), Cassius (Nosferatu), Loukios (Nosferatu)