Thousand Year Old Vampire: Guillaume d'Orléans

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I love vampires and I suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

I've embraced my gloomy end of the year mood (while still seeking ways to ameliorate it, never fear) in the past by running Do Not Let Us Die in the Dark Night of this Cold Winter as a prelude to Death Frost Doom (purchased before all of the stuff about the writer of the second edition came out). If you're going to have winter-time depression, I figure, you should get something out of it.

I've had a copy of the Ennie award-winning Thousand Year Old Vampire on my shelf for about two years, but work has prevented me from digging into it before now. I wanted to make this a daily writing exercise, like NaNoWriMo, but with no pretensions that it would lead to anything publishable, just (I hope) an interesting vampire story. So from Nov. 1 through Dec. 4, I played one turn each day. Everything is very much a first draft, and if there's things that make you cringe in this, they make me cringe, too.

I approached this like a Dollar Store version of Tim Powers, smashing together everything I thought was interesting. I realized pretty early on that this isn't an entirely solo affair, and that Tim Hutching's prompts in the game were going to drive the story to a greater degree than I had expected at first. I've done collaborative fiction before, so you will see me throwing hooks into my responses to prompts. Often, I initially had no idea what they meant (the thing Julian presents the protagonist, at first, was just "ooh, here's something cool; I'll figure it out later"), only to realize in the shower later in the month "oh, yeah, that's what that is all about." Sometimes, the hooks lead somewhere. Sometimes they don't. (I know what was going on in Rome, for instance, but it never seemed natural for the story to go there.)

The heavy use of the internet to research things on nearly every turn will either impress you with how it makes the world beyond the edges of the story feel fully fleshed out or make you roll your eyes at some of the cheesiness. It does the same for me, too.

The game's mechanism is relatively simple: There are 80 pages of prompts in the book, with each page having between one and three prompts. The first prompt is the player character being turned into a vampire. After that, the player rolls 1d10 and 1d6, subtracting the 1d6 from the 1d10, to figure out what prompt to go to. If the player goes backwards and lands on the same page again, as happened several times to me, they go to the next prompt down on the page, which is usually related to the prompts above it, creating a plot thread.

There are also rules about NPCs (mortal and immortal), resources and the traits that make your vampire what they are. They mostly work very well, although some of them I didn't grasp fully early in play. Those should all be clear enough when you look at my turns and the attached character sheet for each.

There are 35 turns, although one about midway through got eaten by my software, so you just have the character sheet for that.

But that's OK, because one of the biggest mechanisms in the game -- and thus the story -- is about the loss of memory. Your vampire can have five capital-M Memories at a time, each with up to four linked Experiences, and you're expected to write an Experience onto the sheet each turn. In other words, by the end of the game, there's no way my vampire, Guillaume, could remember everything about who he was as a mortal. Up to four Memories of three Experiences each could be shunted off into a diary, but diaries can and do get lost in response to prompts. By the end of the game (which occurs on prompts 72 through 80), it is very likely your vampire will have lost large chunks of their identity over the years, including of once-critical things.

It would not be hard to run this as a game about aging and dementia, although my playthrough is a tiny bit more upbeat than that, as I bring to the game a lifetime of constant moving and thus having people pass out of my life, which this game also does a good job of embracing.

Anyway, if anyone cares about any of this stuff, please save your questions for after turn 35, which takes place in 2022.
 
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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Orléans, 1022

"You seem shaken, Guillaume," Father Guiscard said in my ear, leaning in close to be heard over the screams. "Do you wish the heretics' suffering to stop?"

"N-no, father."

I stammer, covering my mouth and nose with my sleeve, unable to tear my gaze away from the burning cottage.

It was surrounded by soldiers in the service of the Church, who faced both away from the flames, from stopping townsfolk from intervening. very other soldier faced inwards, though, to keep those burning alive from escaping.

"I am shaken by the experience, that's all," I said, my voice thick, untrustworthy.

"So you should be," Guiscard said, smiling as he stepped away to speak to other townsfolk. "Remember this, all the days of your life."

Once he was out of sight, I turned and fled, pausing only to notice the other soldiers, standing shoulder to shoulder, their shields gleaming as they protected a veiled woman standing tall as she watched the flames roar upwards into the dark sky. The crest on their shield was unknown to me -- I had no cause, then, to know of such things.

As I raced home, I pulled my smoke-stained sleeve from my face and gulped air. What would Father Guiscard have thought if he'd known that my mouth watered at the scent of living human flesh cooking? I would have been cast into the fire alongside the heretics -- an abomination.

The flames still danced before his eyes, and smoke obscured the night sky, making the dim, muddy streets of Orléans even harder to make out in the dark.

After several minutes of running, I stopped to get my bearings. I was lost.

This time, it wasn't the priest who spoke in my ear.

"So now," a voice like stone sliding across stone murmured, "the heresy is just us two."

I shivered.

"I never ... I just ... I listened to what the canons said, but I never ..."

The unseen speaker -- it was black as night here, although that did not seem to bother the other -- shushed me.

"Estienne and Lisios were spreading my word and partook in the sacraments as I taught them to. Now, it is only us."

I stepped back. My heel struck something hard and unyielding in the dark, and I almost fell over. A hand steadied my and I almost screamed as arms wrapped around my from behind.

"We must enter into a covenant, you and I. And our covenant is written in blood."

A hand like that of a statue was over my mouth.

Pain like knives cut into my neck.

I screamed and screamed.

But no sound escaped.
 
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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Orléans, 1022

In the days that follow, Father Guiscard is more emboldened than ever, regularly visiting the homes of parish members, giving extra attention to those with teenaged daughters, insisting on questioning them privately for anything they might know of the heresy.

I had begun to work strange hours, leaving for the scriptorium before dawn and the wretched sun, and only returning home after sundown, never leaving the blessed darkness of the scriptorium during the day and insisting on working by the dimmest of candles.

But one night, I returned home to find my father absent, although a candle is burning inside the family cottage. I could hear voices from inside. And then the voice of Cateline, crying out in fear and pain.

Carnutes has cautioned me about controlling myself: We only feast on travelers on the road or poachers in the woods.

But all of that is forgotten in an instant.

Guiscard is on Cateline, who weeps in terror, but is unable to stop what's happening. And then Guiscard is against the wall, now terrified himself.

I sink his teeth into the priest's neck, forgetting the niceties of how I normally feeds, the lies I tell himself about who and what I am.

When I am done, Guiscard is dead, his blood running down my mouth and chest, soaking my clothes.

In the family bed, Cateline lays, pale, eyes wide in terror. Saying nothing. Having seen everything.

I managed to dispose of the body before my father returns and conceal all evidence of the attack. But Cateline is mute, saying nothing, but shaking in fear whenever I draw near.

Prompt 0 + 2 - 5 = Prompt 1

In your blood-hunger you destroy someone close to you. Kill a mortal character. Create a mortal character if none are available. Take the skill Bloodthirsty.

Guillaume d'Orléans

Skills: literate in French; literate in Latin; a capable gardener; bloodthirsty

Resources: a cowhorn inkwell, engraved with a knight; a penknife; a small bronze crucifix

Characters: Onfroi, my father, an ambitious farmer who has pinned the family's hopes on me (mortal); Cateline, my sickly younger sister, my best friend (mortal); Carnutes, the center of the heresy and vampire, a melancholy figure often lost in reminiscences of Rome (immortal)

Marks: My eyes cannot stand bright light and I have to remain in shadows at all times

Memories (five, up to three Experiences each):
1. I am Guilliame d'Orléans, son of Onfroi, a novice scribe born late in the 10th Century of Our Lord
2. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: My father, Onfroi, gifts me an engraved inkwell, which he had to save for months to afford
3. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: I read to Cateline from a book I had been copying in an attempt to teach her to read
4. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: Father Guiscard invites himself into our home, openly lusting after Cateline, which neither my father and I can do anything about; I kill him when I come home to find him raping Cateline, which she watches in mute horror
5. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other heretics were burned alive, Carnutes fed upon me as I screamed in pitch black darkness
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Orléans, 1025

Desperate to escape me, Cateline marries the first man who asks our father for her hand in marriage: Anouilh, an aged merchant who needs a new mother for his children, who are only a few years younger than Cateline. Their mother was consumed by some sort of brain fever; she saw visions and everywhere saw the work of the devil before she finally took her own life.

Cateline is like a ghost in her new house, eyes haunted, still terrified of me, unwilling to be alone with me now, even though I have never shown her any violence nor exposed her to what I am now since the night I killed Father Guiscard. She takes to Anouilh's little boy, whom she carries everywhere, the boy clinging to her like the baby he no longer is, big brown eyes watching me over his shoulder. They whisper confidences to each other and withdraw from everyone else.

But Anouilh's daughter is very different and very strange. Cateline is the third woman of the house in her lifetime, with her mother dying years before her half-brother's mother did. Constansia is literate and musical: She sings sad songs she says her mother taught her, long ago. Her hair is black and long, eyes dark as well. She pays no heed to Cateline, coming and going as she wishes, taking with her a riding crop from her father's stable and savagely beats the men who approach her in the streets of Orléans.

From the shadows, I follow one such man who thought a young girl, alone at night, might fall victim to his lusts. Instead, I drag him into a darkened corner of the church's graveyard, Since Guiscard's death, I have had trouble controlling myself, and I slash open the man's neck and torso with my claws. I am less human all the time and only my elderly father's failing eyesight keeps him from realizing what shares a home with him. I have stopped going to the scriptorium altogether.

As I drink from the would-be rapist's blood, slurping and chewing hungrily, I look up and see Constansia watching me, calmly. My bloodlust sated, for the moment, we sit and watch each other, colorless figures of black and white in the pale moonlight.

Finally, the girl drops to her knees in the graveyard, raising her arms up to me, her face a mask of ecstasy.

"Master," she calls me.

Constansia knows me for a monster and is entranced by it. She believes me to be an agent of the Devil himself, a notion that amuses Carnutes, who quotes some doleful Ovid when I tell him.

In the coming nights, Constansia lures victim after victim to me, wandering along the trade roads or lurking in alleys, enticing soldiers to follow her into the shadows or highwaymen to give chase, each time leading them into my waiting arms. She watches, enraptured, as I devour them in turn. It takes a great act of will to not give into my gluttony and draw the attention of the duke or church upon me.

It is a simple matter to overwhelm the mind of Constansia's father, Cateline's husband, and officially, Constansia becomes my wife, moving into the large, empty house I now share with my father. As I go to sleep each dawn, Constansia is there beside me, whispering blasphemies in the dark.

Prompt 1 + 9 - 4 = Prompt 6

A mortal Character begins serving you. Who are they? Why are they drawn to you? Create a new mortal Character.

Guillaume d'Orléans

Skills: literate in French; literate in Latin; a capable gardener; bloodthirsty

Resources: a cowhorn inkwell, engraved with a knight; a penknife; a small bronze crucifix

Characters:
Onfroi, my father, an ambitious farmer who has pinned the family's hopes on me (mortal);
Cateline, my sickly younger sister, my best friend (mortal);
Carnutes, the center of the heresy and vampire, a melancholy figure often lost in reminiscences of Rome (immortal);
Constansia, Guillaume's first wife, a sociopath who believes her husband is an agent of the Devil

Marks: My eyes cannot stand bright light and I have to remain in shadows at all times

Memories (five up to three Experiences each):
1. I am Guilliame d'Orléans, son of Onfroi, a novice scribe born late in the 10th Century of Our Lord
2. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: My father, Onfroi, gifts me an engraved inkwell, which he had to save for months to afford
3. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: Father Guiscard invites himself into our home, openly lusting after Cateline, which neither my father and I can do anything about; I kill him when I come home to find him raping Cateline, which she watches in mute horror
4. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other heretics were burned alive, Carnutes fed upon me as I screamed in pitch black darkness
5. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: I rescue a dark-haired girl from attack and Constansia pledges herself to me, believing me to be a servant of Satan, and we soon wed;
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Orléans, 1030

The house I had moved my father and myself into was already a fearful spectre in Orléans, a moldering wreck of dark windows and rotting roof timbers.

But Constansia makes it into something even darker. The basement becomes an abattoir. At first, I think it's for my benefit, but I soon realize she's seeking something more, reaching out to powers that I cannot afford to believe are not real, but which I dread her succeeding in contacting.

Many nights, I return just before dawn to hear the sounds of my young wife and her companions -- a coven? a cult? -- chanting in Latin, performing Black Masses and other rituals, beseeching things that make my cold flesh run even colder.

One morning, I lurk in a darkened doorway, sated by drinking from one of the sacrificial victims Constansia has had secretly brought here from another city, when I realize she's using my old penknife from my days at the scriptorium to peel back the skin of another unfortunate. I feel rage flash through me, even though that old life is years behind me, dead and buried, when something begins to fight its way out of the dead body. A black cone pierces the abdomen, forcing its way outward.

A moment later, a black feathery head, streaked with blood follows, and a raven claws its way out.

It takes me a moment to realize its first sound is not the croak of a bird, but its name,

"Raum! For what purpose have you called me up from Hell?"

Constansia positively writhes in ecstasy and the debased men and women who serve her moan and cry out in triumph. It takes all my self-control to not tear their throats out, one by one, disgusted as I am by their presence.

"Great Raum!" Constansia cries, "You are to serve as my great husband's eyes and ears during the daylight hours and provide infernal counsel to him in all matters!"

The raven looks from her to me and cocks its head.

"Of course. Let us begin."

Looking at the creature and this stinking room full of blood and madmen -- and none madder than my wife -- I realize for the first time in years that I want none of this and that if I could take back what Carnutes did to me, I would. But then I remember my father, blind and deaf and near death, several floors above, and the idea of aging and dying like he is holds its own terrors for me, not least because I know that Hell awaits me -- has always awaited me -- and that this existence that passes for a life is the best possibility left for me.

I say nothing and stalk out of the room. Behind me, the cult shrieks praises to Satan before slinking back to their ordinary lives with the sunrise.
Prompt 6 + 3 - 2 = Prompt 8

You are recognized for what you are by another creature like yourself. Create a new immortal Character. Lose a Resource and gain a Skill. What did you lose to them?

Guillaume d'Orléans
Skills: literate in French; literate in Latin; a capable gardener; bloodthirsty (checked); knows secrets he should not;

Resources: a cowhorn inkwell, engraved with a knight; a small bronze crucifix

Characters:
Onfroi, my father, an ambitious farmer who has pinned the family's hopes on me (mortal);
Cateline, my sickly younger sister, my best friend (mortal);
Carnutes, the center of the heresy and vampire, a melancholy figure often lost in reminiscences of Rome (immortal);
Constansia, Guillaume's first wife, a sociopath who believes her husband is an agent of the Devil (mortal);
Raum, a demon in the shape of raven, summoned by Constansia to serve as Guillaume's familiar (immortal)

Marks: My eyes cannot stand bright light and I have to remain in shadows at all times

Memories (five, up to three Experiences each):
1. I am Guilliame d'Orléans, son of Onfroi, a novice scribe born late in the 10th Century of Our Lord
2. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: My father, Onfroi, gifts me an engraved inkwell, which he had to save for months to afford
3. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: Father Guiscard invites himself into our home, openly lusting after Cateline, which neither my father and I can do anything about; I kill him when I come home to find him raping Cateline, which she watches in mute horror
4. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other heretics were burned alive, Carnutes fed upon me as I screamed in pitch black darkness
5. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: I rescue a dark-haired girl from attack and Constansia pledges herself to me, believing me to be a servant of Satan, and we soon wed; Constansia conducts her Satanic rituals and summons a demon, Raum, to serve me in the form of a raven;
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Orléans, 1032

The madness and bloodlust threaten to overtake me.

I go to seek Carnutes, to learn how he has managed this, since the last days of the Roman Empire in our lands. But I cannot find him anywhere; I know he sometimes retreats into caves in the hills and spends weeks there, sleeping and dreaming of his past.

Instead, I seek solace where I once did, in gardening. Our crumbling house has extensive gardens behind it, and I venture out in them at twilight, after the sun has set, seeking to bring order to the gardens and make something grow. Raum hops along beside me, watching curiously, unsure why I would waste my time in this manner.

I spent a week at this, planting vegetables and flowers and pruning back bushes and trees, envisioning a space I can walk through at night to escape the restless need to hunt and kill that's constantly with me, a slobbering hound waiting to be unleashed.

But I am a killer now and death is all I bring to the world.

The gardens sicken and die where I've touched them, plants withering away into shriveled husks as if poisoned. Those plants I didn't touch directly die too, days later, as though salt has seeped from my skin into the earth itself.

One more connection to my mortal life has been cut, leaving me more of the monster I've now become.
Prompt 8 + 7 - 4 = Prompt 11

How did you find solace from the raging hunger within you? You may lose one checked or unchecked skill

Guillaume d'Orléans

Skills:
Literate in French;
Literate in Latin;
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows secrets he should not;

Resources:
a cowhorn inkwell,
engraved with a knight;
a small bronze crucifix

Characters:
Onfroi, my father, an ambitious farmer who has pinned the family's hopes on me (mortal);
Cateline, my sickly younger sister, my best friend (mortal);
Carnutes, the center of the heresy and vampire, a melancholy figure often lost in reminiscences of Rome (immortal);
Constansia, Guillaume's first wife, a sociopath who believes her husband is an agent of the Devil (mortal);
Raum, a demon in the shape of raven, summoned by Constansia to serve as Guillaume's familiar (immortal)

Marks: My eyes cannot stand bright light and I have to remain in shadows at all times; my touch is fatal to plants

Memories (five, up to three Experiences each):
1. I am Guilliame d'Orléans, son of (redacted), a novice scribe born late in the 10th Century of Our Lord; one of the joys of my youth, gardening, slips away as my touch is now fatal to plants;
2. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: My father, Onfroi, gifts me an engraved inkwell, which he had to save for months to afford
3. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: Father Guiscard invites himself into our home, openly lusting after Cateline, which neither my father and I can do anything about; I kill him when I come home to find him raping Cateline, which she watches in mute horror
4. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other heretics were burned alive, Carnutes fed upon me as I screamed in pitch black darkness
5. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: I rescue a dark-haired girl from attack and Constansia pledges herself to me, believing me to be a servant of Satan, and we soon wed; Constansia conducts her Satanic rituals and summons a demon, Raum, to serve me in the form of a raven;
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Orléans, 1060

At last, my father died. Old, blind and deaf. But still my father.

Constansia eyed his withered corpse, little bigger than a child's, some devil's mischief clearly occurring to her. Before she can open her blood-red lips to speak, I cut her off.

"He will have a Christian burial."

My wife reels back as though slapped, eyes blazing with fury.

I send for my sister to take my father's body away, both to keep it out of Constansia's reach and so that he may be buried in the church cemetery by day, as he would have preferred.

Cateline, in turn, sends her servants. She sits astride a fine horse outside my house, a widow now herself, with white hair. but she is tall and strong, the illnesses of her youth burned away over the years, glaring at the house and me with a murderous hatred. I stand in the doorway, letting her servants pass with our father's body. I want to speak with her, but know that my chance to do that died decades ago.

Raum watches her family secretly for me. I know that the two armed men with her are her sons, my nephews, whom I have never met.

After they've gone, I go looking for Carnutes. He keeps multiple lairs, all Gallic tombs from the time of the Romans. I finally find him in one, sitting in the dark, dressed in rusted armor, holding a fragile-looking spear in his hand.

"Why did you do this to me?" I roar, eschewing greetings. "You have damned me, and for what? For what?"

Carnutes says something I don't understand. He sometimes has trouble remembering the French of today and slips into the language of his mortal life.

"I could kill you," I growl, looking around the chamber. There are swords here, some that still look serviceable.

"Not with that," he rumbles. "My flesh is too hard now and the wound would heal soon enough. I would rise from my grave again in a matter of days."

"What a great blessing you have bestowed upon me. My father is dead and in too few years, my sister will as well. I am to do, what, sit with you in tombs until the trumpet sounds?"

"You are no Gaul. These tombs? No. Perhaps a grave or tomb in your Christian church."

"I do not want this! Why did --"

And then Carnutes is up, his spear tip at my breast faster than I can see him move in the gloom.

"I could kill you, just as I killed the one who made me, with this same spear." There is no emotion in his voice, as there so often is not. He is a statue from another time who speaks and drinks blood, but shares few emotions or thoughts.

"Why did you turn me into a monster like yourself?" I ask it calmly, feeling fear replace anger. I have not been afraid for myself in many long years, as I am stronger and faster than any man in Orléans, strong enough perhaps to kill half a dozen of them without serious injury.

"When I killed Aeolius, I was filled with much the same rage you are now. It took me several hundred years to truly understand him."

Carnutes withdraws the spear, holds it loosely with both hands at waist height.

"We were one of the last free Gauls, even as Rome claimed to have conquered our land. They called us bandits, but we were free. My father was our chieftain and we roamed where we wished, robbing merchants and looting towns and slipping away before the local garrisons could respond. But they eventually caught up to us, having lured us into a trap.

"The Romans slaughtered us, getting revenge for years of humiliations and deaths we had heaped upon them. I watched them cut my father to ribbons there in the firelight, unable to help him, knowing it was just moments before my own death.

"And then a figure who looked like a Roman god appeared among them, his antique armor gleaming, flinging soldiers aside with his curved shield, lifting others off the ground with his pilum and flinging them into the darkness. And when he was done with them, he fell upon me, the last of my people, and made me a monster like himself.

"It was years before we were able to speak with each other, as I did not speak Greek or Latin, or he Gaulish at first. He told me he was the last of his cohort and had followed my tribe for months, seeing in us the camaraderie he had gone so long without."

"So," I say slowly, unsure how I feel about this revelation, never having heard Aeolius' name before now. "He made you -- you made me -- out of loneliness? You dragged me into the pit with you, so you would not suffer the Devil's torments alone?"

"You hate this so much," Carnutes says, tilting his head back, looking down his nose at me, sizing me up. "You do not age. You are stronger, faster than any mortal man. If you take care, you will never die, and will see all the ages of the world. I have seen the hated Roman Empire fall and the birth of a new, free nation in my homeland. Who knows what you will live to see?"

"And Aeolius, he did not take care? What is so special about your spear?"

Carnutes makes a noise that might almost be a laugh.

"If I told you the truth of this spear, you would not believe it, despite being a man who could be killed by soldiers and rise from his tomb in three days yourself. But it can kill one of our kind. But so can beheading. Or fire. Or, as you age, sunlight. Or piercing the heart with a wooden stake. I'm sure there are more things. I do not care to investigate such things. Take this --"

Before the next word leaves his mouth, I have the spear, now pointed at his heart.

"I shall, thank you. And I will think on what you've said. But I think killing you would be too kind, old man. Better you return to your lonely travels once more. That seems a more fitting punishment than the point of this spear. But if I encounter you in Orléans once more, I will come up with a worse punishment. My wife has many questions about our kind and would be glad of the chance to examine you on her table."

Carnutes says nothing, a statue once more, looking at me with emotionless eyes.

"Do not test me, Carnutes. Be gone before the sunrise after next."

And then I was gone, out into the night, the ancient spear in my hand and my mind spinning with what he had said and the understanding that a monster other than the bloodlust squatted inside my heart and would slowly devour me in time.

As I lay down in my bed chamber in the basement of my home, Constansia absent, off sulking somewhere, I realize that I can no longer remember my father's name.
Prompt 11 + 3 - 6 = Prompt 8 (each prompt page has multiple related prompts and, if you return to the same page, are supposed to go down the page and choose the next unused one)

You gain an advantage over an immortal Character. What do you take from them? What do you learn? Convert a Memory to a Skill; strike out that Memory. Gain a mysterious resource.

Guillaume d'Orléans

Skills:
Literate in French;
Literate in Latin;
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows secrets he should not;
Knows the secrets of killing vampires;

Resources:
a cowhorn inkwell, engraved with a knight;
a small bronze crucifix;
the Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear said to be capable of killing vampires

Characters:
Cateline, my sickly younger sister, my best friend (mortal);
Carnutes, the center of the Orléans Heresy and a vampire, a melancholy figure often lost in reminiscences of Gaul (immortal);
Constansia, Guillaume's first wife, a sociopath who believes her husband is an agent of the Devil (mortal);
Raum, a demon in the shape of raven, summoned by Constansia to serve as Guillaume's familiar (immortal)

Marks: My eyes cannot stand bright light and I have to remain in shadows at all times; my touch is fatal to plants

Memories (five, up to three Experiences each)
1. I am Guilliame d'Orléans, son of (redacted), a novice scribe born late in the 10th Century of Our Lord; one of the joys of my youth, gardening, slips away as my touch is now fatal to plants;
2. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: My father, Onfroi, gifts me an engraved inkwell, which he had to save for months to afford
3. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: Father Guiscard invites himself into our home, openly lusting after Cateline, which neither my father and I can do anything about; I kill him when I come home to find him raping Cateline, which she watches in mute horror
4. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other heretics were burned alive, Carnutes fed upon me as I screamed in pitch black darkness; I confront Carnutes about him making me a vampire and he confesses he did it out of loneliness and tells me I will suffer in the same way some day;
5. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: I rescue a dark-haired girl from attack and Constansia pledges herself to me, believing me to be a servant of Satan, and we soon wed; Constansia conducts her Satanic rituals and summons a demon, Raum, to serve me in the form of a raven;
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Orléans, 1060

After my father's death, some dam appears to break with Cateline. Raum reports that she regularly visits with church officials and even wins an audience with the duke. I know in my heart that she wants to see me destroyed at last.

And I find that I am glad. This anger, this rage and bloodlust inside me that seems always ready to erupt, even when I am already drenched in the blood of the dead, I realize how much of it is tied up in Orléans and my memories of all that has happened here and the bitter way that it has changed for me over the decades.

Yes, Cateline is right. Whatever thing her brother Guillaume has become must be destroyed.

In the dead of night, I gather Constansia's wretched cult down into my personal chambers in the basement, which so many of them have sought to visit for so long. None of them notice how much has been removed or could guess at the significance, especially when I give them what I have begged to do so many times.

I drink from them.

It's not enough to kill any of them, but I leave them weak with blasphemous joy, praising Satan as they lay limply on the cold stone floor.

And then I leave them behind, locking them in behind heavy iron locks, toss the key down a well and set the building on fire.

Outside, the men my sister and the church have brought shield their eyes from the flame, torches and lanterns in their hands, marveling that the house is burning so brightly and quickly before they've had a chance to do so themselves, not understanding what has happened. Instead, they praise God, assuming the flames to be evidence of His favor.

"They will believe us among those destroyed in the fire," Constansia murmurs beside me, her glossy black hair shining with the reflected light of the fire, watching the house burn from a distance. "A brilliant plan, beloved Guillaume."

I feel the anger and rage I felt toward Guiscard, toward Cornutes, toward Constansia, toward myself, burning up with the house as well, along with whatever feelings Cateline still harbored toward me. I pray that my father, wherever he is now, is unaware of all that has happened.

"Guillaume died in the fire, along with all that he was," I murmur, hearing my voice as cold as Cornutes' now. "I am merely un passeur."

And with that, the barge moves quietly away from the dock and down the Loire, beginning the journey west through France and ultimately, toward the ocean beyond.
Prompt 8 + 9 - 6 = Prompt 11

You discover an internal focus which lets you maintain control of yourself. Lose a violent Memory and take the Skill I Control the Beast and rewrite any unchecked Skill as something new. What new name do you take to distance yourself from what you once were? How is the name symbolic?

le Passeur

Skills:
Literate in French;
Skilled at navigating boats;
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows secrets he should not;
Knows the secrets of killing vampires;
I control the beast;

Resources:
a cowhorn inkwell, engraved with a knight;
a small bronze crucifix;
the Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear said to be capable of killing vampires

Characters:
Cateline, my sickly younger sister, my best friend (mortal);
Carnutes, the center of the Orléans Heresy and a vampire, a melancholy figure often lost in reminiscences of Gaul (immortal);
Constansia, Guillaume's first wife, a sociopath who believes her husband is an agent of the Devil (mortal);
Raum, a demon in the shape of raven, summoned by Constansia to serve as Guillaume's familiar (immortal)

Marks: My eyes cannot stand bright light and I have to remain in shadows at all times; my touch is fatal to plants

Memories (up to three Experiences each):
1. I am Guilliame d'Orléans, son of (redacted), a novice scribe born late in the 10th Century of Our Lord; one of the joys of my youth, gardening, slips away as my touch is now fatal to plants;
2. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: My father, Onfroi, gifts me an engraved inkwell, which he had to save for months to afford; after my father's death, Constansia and I leave Orléans by barge, after setting my house aflame and allowing my sister to believe I was destroyed there;
3. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other heretics were burned alive, Carnutes fed upon me as I screamed in pitch black darkness; I confront Carnutes about him making me a vampire and he confesses he did it out of loneliness and tells me I will suffer in the same way some day;
4. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: I rescue a dark-haired girl from attack and Constansia pledges herself to me, believing me to be a servant of Satan, and we soon wed; Constansia conducts her Satanic rituals and summons a demon, Raum, to serve me in the form of a raven;
5. I am le Passeur:
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Tours, 1060

We got arrogant in the marshy floodplains of the Loire.

In those days, Tours was two cities separated by the Loire. On the eastern shore was the castle, the cathedral, the archbishop's palace and other official buildings. On the western shore was the "new city," the Châteauneuf where merchants and the actual business of the city took place. In between were the vineyards and fields and, of course, the marshes and river.

None could approach us easily during the day and if someone did try to brave the sea of reeds, their passage would be easy for Raum to spot.

Constansia and I came ashore in the evenings, enjoying everything the Châteauneuf had to offer. My wife enjoyed food and wine while she searched for local fortune tellers and wise women, always on the hunt for more occult knowledge. I moved freely through the city, hunting freely in a place where I was no man's son, no woman's whispered-about brother.

We slept securely during the day. Constansia gushing about the forbidden works she had located, including copies of apocrypha banned by the Church. We listened to Raum land on the roof of the barge, keeping watch as we drifted off to sleep.

I awoke shortly after sundown at Carnutes' voice, with Constansia gone.

"You stupid boy," he said, his voice showing only the faintest hint of emotion. "If it wasn't for me, you would be dead. And you have the ingratitude to scorn me for it, to turn against me?"

I looked around, confused. Carnutes was nowhere to be seen in the below-decks room we had created in the hold, the expensive bed Constansia and I shared in the center of what looked as much like an bed chamber as I could imagine. There wasn't a room for a man of Carnutes' size to be here unseen, speaking so closely and clearly.

"I am beyond your power," I replied, leaning up on my elbows. I glanced around the room and found the Spear of Aeolius close at hand, if Carnutes would reveal himself. "Make yourself a new companion. You can have Orléans -- I have left it behind and have no desire to see it again."

"Not until I have taken back what I foolishly gave you," Carnutes replied.

There was a stirring noise and it took me a second to recognize it as the sound of wings. I found Raum squatting in the shadows, staring at me. I raised an eyebrow and shook my head slightly, indicating he should remain silent while I located Carnutes.

The raven opened his beak and barked Carnutes' short laugh.

"I can always find you, boy. Your madwoman wife is not the only one who knows magic," Carnutes' voice came from Raum's black beak. "The penknife you abandoned is connected to both you and your bird. I gave quite a performance for the archbishop earlier. Even now, his men are heading your way, searching vessels in the marsh for the warlock and his wife who dared send their familiar to taunt the archbishop earlier. But I wanted you to know it was I who had killed you, even if it is not my hand that takes back the --"

Raum's eyes grew wide, a choked sound coming from his open beak as I shoved the pilum deeper into the wood. The choking noise was not Raum's voice, however, and I knew, miles away, that the Spear of Aeolius was also piercing Carnutes' breast, wherever he was currently.

"You need not worry about being lonely any more," I said, withdrawing the spear, listening to both Raum's and Carnutes' death rattles a moment before racing up on deck to find Constansia and cast off before the archbishop's men found us.
Prompt 11 + 7 - 4 = Prompt 14

An enemy Character uses a lost Resource to turn your few friends against you. Check three Skills to regain the Resource or check one Skill to barely survive. Which former friend did you kill? Where did you flee?

Le Passeur

Skills:
Literate in French;
Skilled at navigating boats;
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;

Resources:
a cowhorn inkwell, engraved with a knight;
a small bronze crucifix;
the Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires

Characters:
Cateline, my sickly younger sister, my best friend (mortal);
Constansia, Guillaume's first wife, a sociopath who believes her husband is an agent of the Devil (mortal);

Marks: My eyes cannot stand bright light and I have to remain in shadows at all times; my touch is fatal to plants

Memory (up to three Experiences):
1. I am Guilliame d'Orléans, son of (redacted), a novice scribe born late in the 10th Century of Our Lord; one of the joys of my youth, gardening, slips away as my touch is now fatal to plants;
2. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: My father, Onfroi, gifts me an engraved inkwell, which he had to save for months to afford; after my father's death, Constansia and I leave Orléans by barge, after setting my house aflame and allowing my sister to believe I was destroyed there;
3. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other heretics were burned alive, Carnutes fed upon me as I screamed in pitch black darkness; I confront Carnutes about him making me a vampire and he confesses he did it out of loneliness and tells me I will suffer in the same way some day; Carnutes possessed Raum and led the Archbishop of Tours' men to try and killed me -- but I used the Spear of Aeolius and killed Raum and Carnutes instead
4. I am Guilliame d'Orléans: I rescue a dark-haired girl from attack and Constansia pledges herself to me, believing me to be a servant of Satan, and we soon wed; Constansia conducts her Satanic rituals and summons a demon, Raum, to serve me in the form of a raven;
5. I am le Passeur:
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Coimbra, 1181

More than 120 years passed.

Constansia had long ago gone to be with her beloved Satan, sure to the end of her long, wicked life that we were both willing partners in the evils of the world. I remain unsure, to this day, how much of that is true.

Le Passeur -- known locally as just "the Frenchman" -- moved to Portugal during the early days of the Reconquista, when a foreign merchant's presence was something no one paid too much attention to. My ships aided the forces of King Afonso, as well as serving as smugglers in and out of the Moorish cities that were increasingly ignoring the commands that came out of Marrakesh.

By the time they were driven out entirely, "the Frenchman" -- or rather, his grandson -- was well established in the new kingdom. When pressed for a name, I call myself "Onfroi d'Orléans," in memory of a father whose face and voice I can no longer recall, although I still keep the inkwell he purchased for me in another life. I only know his name because I sent merchants working for me to Orléans with orders to research the history of Cateline's family, along with more ordinary work on my behalf. I and Constansia are remembered as a ghost story, nothing more.

My shipping business, up and down the coast, is lucrative and I maintain homes in Coimbra, Portucale (later known as Grande Porto) and eventually Lisbon so that no one spends enough years with the Frenchman that they can notice how he does not age and so that I can change cities as my own son and start anew there. Those employees with me long enough to participate in the ruse are well paid enough that I do not worry much about them saying anything.

I do well enough that I expand from shipping into also becoming a shipbuilder, profiting even from other merchants' success.
Prompt 14 + 9 - 3 = Prompt 20

There is a great shift in the way society moves goods. How does this work to your advantage? Check a Skill. Create a Skill based on a Memory.

The Frenchman

Skills
:
Skilled at navigating boats (checked);
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant;

Resources:
a cowhorn inkwell, engraved with a knight;
a small bronze crucifix, in the French style;
the Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires

Characters:

Marks: My eyes cannot stand bright light and I have to remain in shadows at all times; my touch is fatal to plants

Memories (up to three Experiences each):
1: I am Guilliame d'Orléans, son of Onfroi, a novice scribe born late in the 10th Century of Our Lord; one of the joys of my youth, gardening, slips away as my touch is now fatal to plants;
2: I am Guilliame d'Orléans: My father, Onfroi, gifts me an engraved inkwell, which he had to save for months to afford; after my father's death, Constansia and I leave Orléans by barge, after setting my house aflame and allowing my sister to believe I was destroyed there; I use my father's name when I later settle in Portugal and set myself up as a merchant and shipbuilder there
3: I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other heretics were burned alive, Carnutes fed upon me as I screamed in pitch black darkness; I confront Carnutes about him making me a vampire and he confesses he did it out of loneliness and tells me I will suffer in the same way some day; Carnutes possessed Raum and led the Archbishop of Tours' men to try and killed me -- but I used the Spear of Aeolius and killed Raum and Carnutes instead
4: I am Guilliame d'Orléans: I rescue a dark-haired girl from attack and Constansia pledges herself to me, believing me to be a servant of Satan, and we soon wed; Constansia conducts her Satanic rituals and summons a demon, Raum, to serve me in the form of a raven;
5: I am le Passeur:
 

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