Thousand Year Old Vampire: Guillaume d'Orléans

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
The Rhein, 1346

I stood on the deck of my ship shortly after sundown, shortly after having awoken, still trying to get the taste of smoke and charred human flesh out of my mouth, like always. It was a ghost of a memory I woke with every morning, from before my days as a vampire, I think. Surely I had never dined on human flesh, so why I should have the taste of it in my mouth was always a mystery.

"It's a full moon tonight," Paul Itzig said, standing at the helm. "We should be able to sail all night, as you requested."

"Excellent. With the collapse of the Bardi and Peruzzi banks, Florence should welcome us and our money with open arms."

Paul nodded. This was also an excellent opportunity for him. He had too many brothers to ever be more than a minor functionary in our bank here. But Florence was a new frontier, with an opportunity to make a name for himself. Almost all of those who were coming with me had similar stories.

"My grandfather said you used to be a mariner yourself, sir," Paul continued. "Would you like to take the helm?"

A hired navigator at his side flinched slightly; it would be he who would be responsible if we ran aground in the dark, not me.

I reached out and touched the wheel, finding the feel of the polished wood under my hand unfamiliar. I looked up at the sails and the ropes and realized that I could remember nothing of this, of the past life I had apparently spoken to the late Sigbert Itzig about, once upon a time.

The wheel felt like it was burning in my hands and I half wanted to jerk my hands away, and half wanted to wrap my arms around it, to compel it to teach me how to sail again. I could picture my time in Portugal and sailing to and from the Berlengas, but it was like watching someone else do it. I could no more do it myself than I could grind flour.

"No," I said, stepping away, shaken. How many more things had I lost, without realizing it? How long until this moment aboard my ship would slip away with them? "You have the helm, Paul."
Prompt 26 + 7 - 3 = Prompt 30

What social mores have you forgotten? Lose a checked Skill.

Wilhelm Black

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant;
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampiric anatomy;

Resources:
The Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not die

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (Immortal);
The Itzig family: a Jewish family of bankers and merchants in medieval Cologne;

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: 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;
2: I am le Passeur or "The Frenchman": I retreat to the islands off Portugal with my servant, Juião, and sail to the mainland at night, under cover of darkness, looking for prey; I feed on Juião when desperate for blood and accidentally turn him into a vampire; we relocate to Cologne, a city of gray skies and long nights, better suited for those such as ourselves than sunny Portugal.
3: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
4. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart;
5. I am Wilhelm Black: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence;

Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese orphan Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on battlefield wounded as I tend to them.
 
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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Florence, 1446

I awake, in a room full of candlelight, made more glittering by the light reflecting off gold paint and sumptuous deep red velvet draperies.

"Where am I?" I managed to croak out. I feel weak, weaker than I have since first becoming a vampire, and ravenously hungry. But I am barely able to move.

"Florence, in the sotto palazzo," a man says, moving slowly into my field of view as he circles me, appraising me.

"What happened? I was ... on the Rhein?"

"You were coming to take Florence for your own. You and your," the man -- no, vampire, based on the paleness of the skin and darkness of his eyes -- waved a hand dismissively, "German bankers. And we couldn't have that. This is my city. The banking industry is mine. Not some outsider's."

"What did you do to me?" I turn my head slowly, the feeling like forcing my body through abrasive sand.

"Unlike those arrogant fools in Cologne, we keep track of the vampiri throughout the continent. We knew your preferred feeding habits and it was easy enough to poison people along the way. Eventually, you took the bait and fell into a trance. Your ship ran aground and we killed all your servants." He clucked his tongue. "Very sad."

"Why keep me alive, then?"

"I have heard about the brutality of the vampiri of Cologne, but we are better than that, here. The vampiri, we are born to rule, the natural masters of humanity. If we kill one another, it is better to do it to your face, not through poison. We would fight a duel or there would be a trial followed by an execution. But also, there is no need. Without your bankers, you cannot do anything to hurt me any more. Instead, enjoy Florence, the greatest city in the world. Just, do not challenge us again, and everything will be fine, all right?"

"All right," I whisper, as the vampire pushes an enormous goblet into reach of my fingers. Even before I grasp it, I can smell that it's full to the brim with hot, fresh blood. I force myself up onto my elbows, off of this flat upholstered bed I had woken up on. "What do I call you?"

"I am Averardo de' Medici, but everyone calls me 'il Chiarissimo.'"
Prompt 30 + 4 - 3 = Prompt 1

You fall into a deep slumber for 100 years. Strike out any mortal Characters.

Wilhelm Black

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant;
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampiric anatomy;

Resources:
The Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not die

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (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: 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;
2: I am le Passeur or "The Frenchman": I retreat to the islands off Portugal with my servant, Juião, and sail to the mainland at night, under cover of darkness, looking for prey; I feed on Juião when desperate for blood and accidentally turn him into a vampire; we relocate to Cologne, a city of gray skies and long nights, better suited for those such as ourselves than sunny Portugal.
3: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
4. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart;
5. I am Wilhelm Black: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence; poisoned by Averardo de' Medici, I wake up in Florence 100 years later, the Itzigs dead, my banking empire dismantled in my absence;


Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese orphan Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on battlefield wounded as I tend to them.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Florence, 1446

It was Il Chiarissimo's little joke, or perhaps his warped sense of honor, that he had taken my fortune from me and my bankers, but left me my possessions, although surely he had wondered at them.

In any case, I was turned out into Florence, alone, penniless, with no friends or acquaintances here.

After confirming that no one had ever heard of the merchant empire that I can left behind a century ago up north, I compelled a merchant house sending goods north to take messages to Julian and others I knew in Cologne. I did not ever expect to hear back from them.

So I wandered Florence, which truly was the greatest city I had ever set eyes on. In addition to banking, it was a great center of the textile industry, and all night and day, ships were coming in and going out, laden with traffic. Construction seemed to be underway on every corner, and not the grim gray buildings of Cologne, but red brick and tan stone and nearly every space imaginable was decorate with art works, including bronze bas-relief panels affixed to doors and statues in any intersection wider needed for two wagons to pass.

But I could not focus on the wonders of the city. I was ravenous with hunger and it was almost all I could think about. But this was a city of churches, and, as I discovered as I reeled away from them in pain, some time in the last century, even approaching the threshold of a church or chapel made me feel like my body was on fire. I dared not risk leaping on the little widows, all dressed in black, as they left late night prayers, lest some lingering piety clung dangerously to them.

I fell back into what fell natural, leaping upon the men who seem to lurk in every alley of every city in the world, with knives in their hands and sharp eyes -- but not sharp enough to spot me lurking above them.

I was reckless in my hunger, leaving their bodies where I had drained them and moving on to devour ever more, as though I could somehow fill up a century of appetites in a few blood-soaked nights now.

I slept in dark attics and basements. When I awoke, I would find a dusting of soil beneath me, which had come from some unknown source in the course of the day.

After some number of nights -- perhaps a week -- I was sober enough to clean myself up, put on fresher clothes and try to experience Florence in a civilized manner once again.

But soon I found myself entranced by perhaps the most beautiful people I had ever seen. I do not think my desire was sexual -- I could not now remember ever having had or acting upon sexual feelings -- but the beauty of their forms entranced me, and I followed the young people, chattering happily as they went, down streets and allies.

Finally, they let themselves up a set of stairs to a second story space above some shops.

I scurried up the outer wall after them, peering inside. Although I do not normally breathe, I gave a little gasp I saw them disrobing and a man arranging lights to create interesting shadows on their beautiful bodies as they posed, standing or sitting calmly.

My heart thundered in my chest and I felt a raging desire to do something. Whether it was to kill everyone involved, to join them, to fornicate, I do not know. But the feeling was overwhelming and my head swam. I was self-conscious, terrified one would glance up and see me staring at them, as pitiful as a lovestruck boy or a cat in heat.

The clothed man who had arranged the lights sat now and began sketching them with charcoal. The sound of it moving back and forth, back and forth across the paper lulled me into a state like sleep and I imagined it was me who was putting layer upon layer of charcoal on the page, deepening the shadows of an armpit or beneath the curve of a breast.

My skin began to tingle slightly with the sounds and when I opened my lazy eyes, I saw that I was in shadows myself, deeper and darker than any should have been. As I felt alarm, the shadows began to fade once more and I allowed myself to be lulled into a trance once more, and watched the shadows pour back in, like fog over the Rhein. It was me: I was doing this somehow, some sort of response to my century of sleep or my feral lurking in shadows now.

"Beautiful, aren't they?" a voice came from nearby in the eaves. I had always been quick to learn languages, even in life, I think, and Italian was enough like Portuguese for me to have learned the basics already.

I turned my head and there was a man dressed in black silks -- vampires all over the world seem to find it an irresistible color -- and a slim sword at his side, wedged between gutter and beam of the same roof I clung beneath.

I swallowed and nodded.

"They are off limits, though. Artist and model alike. Under orders of Il Chiarissimo. Ah, I see you have met him. Good. You have the look of a newcomer and I did not know if you knew our ways. Someone is killing sloppily in the city, and Il Chiarissimo will crucify whomever is responsible if he catches them. Pass the word along, will you?"

The other vampire smiled and nodded, and with a last lingering look at the models, flipped upwards onto the roof and, catlike, stole across the red clay tiles off into the night.

I watched the artist sketch the models for hours and knew that, whatever else Il Chiarissimo might be, he was right to preserve this in his city.
Prompt 31 + 10 - 3 = Prompt 38

Your whole being becomes centered in your senses and your hungers. Create a Skill that demonstrates your feral vampire nature and lose an existing Memory.

Wilhelm Black

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant;
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampire anatomy;
I can draw the shadows in around myself, creating supernatural hiding spaces

Resources:
The Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not di

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (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: 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;
2: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
3. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart;
4. I am Wilhelm Black: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence; poisoned by Averardo de' Medici, I wake up in Florence 100 years later, the Itzigs dead, my banking empire dismantled in my absence;
5.

Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese orphan Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on battlefield wounded as I tend to them.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Florence, 1447

I watched the vampires sword fight on rooftop, the moonlight flashing silver off their blades.

I was several blocks away, concealed in supernaturally black shadows, still an outsider in la danza nera of the Florentine vampires. At this distance, I could not tell whether the intricate battle was simply sport of in deadly earnest. I had seen both in the past, including among mortals on the streets on the city.

But the swordfight was so beautiful, it didn't matter whether it was the beauty of art or the beauty of great predators in nature.

And then a silhouetted head and shoulders popped up between the battlers and me, peering into the shadows.

"Who's there?" The tone was accusatory.

I slid down the roof, listening for any sounds of pursuit and headed toward the nearest dark and open windows I could find, landing quietly on the floor of an enormous room.

I waited, unmoving, listening for any signs of life or sense that I wasn't alone. It was a dim space, the walls lined with training dummies and weapons racks. But it was also all covered in a thick layer of dust. An unused space for training and sparring.

A light came from a room at the end of the hall, and a man was illuminated by the light of the candle he now carried. His hair was white, but his back was straight and we walked confidently into the darkness. He wore a sword, although on his right side, rather than his left.

"Who's there?"

I stood up. There was nothing this man could do to me unless I allowed it.

"Is this a fencing school?" I felt the candlelight on my skin as I looked around at the room. This place had once trained dozens.

"It was."

"And what happened?"

"The wrong person got killed."

I looked back at the man and I saw he was holding his candle stick in his left hand. He raised his right, which had been shorn of its fingers and thumb.

"My punishment."

"Leave the great swordsman alive, but deprive him of his ability to be who he once was?"

He nodded, in as casual a fashion as I suspect he could manage. The candle light picked out other scars on his throat. He had nearly had his throat torn out as well, and not by a sword.

"My people believe in a cruel justice."

"It is not for me to say," the man said, who was not as old as he looked. What I took for age was the loss of hope and pride.

"How large is this place?"

I had begun to rebuild my investments, spread out over multiple industries this time, and spread to other cities as quickly as I could manage. I would never again be as vulnerable as I had turned out to be in Cologne, when I had arrogantly thought myself a great master of the night time world.

"It is a large space. Some have asked about purchasing it as a storage place or for weaving."

"And does it have a basement?"

"It does, my lord."

"Good. I will purchase your school and you will begin your lessons again immediately. Florence has enough buildings full of crates of fabric. You will do what you do best, once again."

And so it was that I came to dwell beneath a school of fencing that had but one student, learning how to kill in a more beautiful, more elegant fashion that I had for the centuries of my existence so far.
Prompt 38 + 7 - 5 = Prompt 40

How do you conceal yourself while you sleep? What steps have you taken for protection? Check a Skill and create a Resource. Create a mortal servant Character if you like.

Wilhelm Black

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant (checked);
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampire anatomy;
I can draw the shadows in around myself, creating supernatural hiding spaces;

Resources:
The Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not die
Florentine fencing school

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (Immortal);
Filippo Vadi: a Florentine fencing master with the fingers of his right hand cut off (mortal);

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: 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;
2: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
3. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart;
4. I am Guglielmo Nero: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence; poisoned by Averardo de' Medici, I wake up in Florence 100 years later, the Itzigs dead, my banking empire dismantled in my absence; setting myself up in Florence, I come to own and operate out of a fencing school.
5.

Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese orphan Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on battlefield wounded as I tend to them.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Florence, 1458

It was Carnival, the biggest and best yet. The Medicis viewed it as an opportunity to show off their wealth and power by ingratiating the city with the biggest party it had ever seen, with elaborate parades, people in costumes and wine overflowing every cup.

I leaned in a doorway, a cup in my hand, although not one that had been stained with wine, watching the world go past my mask.

The Florentines had never truly accepted me. There were secrets I was left out of, conspiracies I knew only hints of and family squabbles that I was thankfully completely superfluous to.

But they loved money. And more than the dour vampires of Cologne, they loved what money could do.

Seemingly every vampire who danced la danza nera was by now the patron of one or more artists. I myself sponsored a sculptor of some minor promise. But the vampires also owned vineyards and sponsored schools and paid for beautiful buildings, even churches.

Having learned the lessons of the past, I had also spread my investments around. I had holdings in Lisbon and Paris. The other vampires here had warned me off of doing so in Venice and Rome, as apparently the family squabbles among Italian vampires extended beyond Florence's walls. But for now, three fortunes in three cities in three countries was enough.

I was once again content, and secure.

And yet, I heard crying.

A fair-haired woman half-stalked, half-ran through the crowded streets, eyes streaked with tears. Eyes that I somehow knew, although I could not place them.

Pulling the shadows in around me, I slipped up onto the roofs without attracting notice from the drunken revelers below and easily followed the crying woman from above. She pushed her way off the main thoroughfare, into a neighborhood full of struggling merchants and immigrants.

I could hear her shouts of frustration and rage from the street as she stood in front of an apartment building, picking at bags and boxes that had been thrown out into the street, many of which had clearly already been picked over by the revelers.

I slipped back down to street level and approached.

"Signora, what is the matter?" I had to pull my mask off and repeat the question before she heard me, over the sounds of the party and her own yelling.

"These putain have tossed all of my things out on the street without warning me! I had no chance to collect my things and now some of them are gone, forever!"

I found myself staring at her face, unable to put a name to it, but feeling I knew it.

"Your accent, you are French?"

"What? What does that have to do with anything? My employer paid for this apartment and somehow tells the landlord we have gone bankrupt before even telling me. I raced here to get my things and now ... ugh!"

I helped her collect what remained, scaring away a merry would-be looter with a dark glance.

"That's awful. Will you be returning home?"

"I don't know. My family's business went bankrupt when I was a girl, which is why I'm in Florence instead. There is nothing for me in Orleans."

I felt a shudder move through me. Her face was that of a girl I once knew, who looked at me with fear and terror as I protected her from -- someone. The memories were elusive, but I felt myself wanting to wrap my arms around her and protect her from whatever threatened her.

"What is your name?" I asked, although I knew I would not recognize it.

"Catherina Marchand. If you are here with the bank, I have nothing left for you to take."

"Enchanté, Mademoiselle Marchand. I have no interest in taking from you. Au contraire, I was thinking I might offer you a job. I do business in Paris and could use the help."

"Your French is strange," Catherina said, not withdrawing her hand from mine. "I cannot place your accent."

"I learned it long ago," I said.
Prompt 40 + 1 - 6 = Prompt 35

You encounter the descendant of an old foe and help them in some way. Why did you do this? Check a skill. Create a mortal Character.

Guglielmo Nero

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant (checked);
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampire anatomy;
I can draw the shadows in around myself, creating supernatural hiding spaces (checked);

Resources:
The Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not die
Florentine fencing school

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (Immortal);
Filippo Vadi: a Florentine fencing master with the fingers of his right hand cut off (mortal);
Catherina Marchand: a descendant of Cateline and Anouilh, who works for my Florentine investment company (mortal);

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: 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;
2: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
3. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart;
4. I am Guglielmo Nero: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence; poisoned by Averardo de' Medici, I wake up in Florence 100 years later, the Itzigs dead, my banking empire dismantled in my absence; setting myself up in Florence, I come to own and operate out of a fencing school.
5.

Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese orphan Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on battlefield wounded as I tend to them.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Florence, 1463

Catherina proved to have a capable head for business. Although I could not remember whatever it was in France that she reminded me of, I found her presence a comfort.

I did not share my nature with her, though. But even maintaining my privacy with her over the years, she had questions: Where had I come from? Why had I come to Florence? Why did my accent sound that way?

For the first time in years, I brought out the ledger book I had brought with me from Cologne, to which I had consigned my fading memories. In horror, I realized water had damaged the book, most likely when we were boarded on the Rhein. Words and passages were smeared beyond recognition.

I no longer knew city where I was born, although it was somewhere in France and, given my reaction to when I had met Catherina, I suspected it was Orléans. But my name in life, whom I had known then and now, even the exact circumstances that I had become a vampire, it was all gone.

Perhaps this was the beginning of the despair that Carnutes had warned of, although even that, I only now knew of from my diary, and not from my own memories.
Prompt 35 + 7 - 3 = Prompt 39

Age has damaged your Diary. Strike out three nouns, starting from the oldest entry. If you have no Diary, do this to the first three nouns in a memory of middling age.

Guglielmo Nero

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant (checked);
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampire anatomy;
I can draw the shadows in around myself, creating supernatural hiding spaces (checked);

Resources:
The Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not die
Florentine fencing school

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (Immortal);
Filippo Vadi: a Florentine fencing master with the fingers of his right hand cut off (mortal);
Catherina Marchand: a descendant of Cateline and Anouilh, who works for my Florentine investment company (mortal);

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: 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;
2: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
3. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart;
4. I am Guglielmo Nero: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence; poisoned by Averardo de' Medici, I wake up in Florence 100 years later, the Itzigs dead, my banking empire dismantled in my absence; setting myself up in Florence, I come to own and operate out of a fencing school.
5.

Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other (DAMAGED) 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese (DAMAGED) Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on (DAMAGED) as I tend to them.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Florence, 1472

It was the summer solstice, the shortest night of the year. A time when vampires, even those who rule the greatest city in the world, tend to stay indoors and are wary of surprise visitors.

So the strange woman who greeted me when I woke in my quarters below my fencing school was an unwelcome shock.

"Do not worry," she said, in an accent unlike any I had ever heard, "Your servants are fine. I am quite practiced at slipping in and out of places without notice."

At first glace, she dressed like a wealthy foreign merchant, with unusual fabrics in her dress. But upon closer inspection, what appeared to be a dress like one could find for sale at shops around Florence turned out to be something more practical: flowing pants that mimicked a dress, but which was much more suitable for what I still thought of as more manly pursuits.

She sat at my table, where I both entertained my guests and conducted personal business. There was a stack of my papers near her elbow that did not appear to have been disturbed.

"If you want me to be impressed that you got in here without me waking, I am. Others have managed it over the years, but they were friends who had an idea of my preparations."

The woman shrugged.

"I have lived a long life. I have learned to do many things in that time."

I shrugged.

"And what is it you want of me?"

"You have something that belongs to me."

"I sincerely doubt that."

She sat up, pulling her thick black hair away from her bodice and pulled the fabric down, baring much of her left breast. A long scar marred her caramel colored skin.

"Originally, it would have been in an alabaster jar," she said, pulling the fabric back up, "although the jar appears to have been separated from the heart some time ago and sold separately. I do hope you are not just storing my heart in some burlap bag."

I pulled out a chair and sat down opposite her.

"No, it's not. It's in a secure vault -- not here -- hidden among other, more mundane treasures. It's not in an alabaster jar, but hidden even better. One wouldn't know it was there at all, unless one put their ear up to its container."

She relaxed at this, and smiled, dark lips parting to show white, white teeth.

"Good. When the trail ran cold after Cologne, I assumed you were skilled at shaking off pursuers. I did not know then that your century of hiding was not by choice. Still, it is good to learn you are one who knows the value of subterfuge."

"It's how I've lived as long as I have."

The woman laughed at this, sincerely and deeply, but stopped when she saw my expression.

"My apologies. You are, I'm guessing, perhaps 500 years old? Impossibly for a human, mature for a vampire but not 'long' in my terms. I am about 3,000 years old, sitting before you today."

"Are you a vampire as well?" I didn't think so. She smelled as alive as any human, moreso, in some ways, with blood that practically thundered in her veins and body heat I could feel from across the table.

"No, there were no vampires when I lived the first time or even when I escaped my tomb and began my second life. There were things like them, demons that lived in Sumeria and Manipur, but in this current form," she gestured casually at me with one hand, "that was something the Romans brought back from Judea about 1,500 years ago."

"You know a lot about me, but I don't even know your name."

"I am Meresankh."

"Are you a Moor?"

Her nostrils flared briefly in irritation.

"You would call me that, especially the Portuguese you lived with for a time. Yes, I know all about that, 'Guglielmo' who was 'Wilhelm' and who was once called ... 'Guillaume.'"

She sat back, studying my face.

"So little reaction to that name. So you are already losing your identity, the years unable to be contained in your brain. You think yourselves so powerful, so mighty, but you all end up the same. Barely human, ignorant of who and what you are, unconnected to your former humanity in any way. Pitiful monsters, spreading now like locusts across Europe."

"You're not the first to threaten me with this, Meresankh."

"It is no threat. I did not cause it. I wish you did not inevitably decay this way. It would be nice to have someone to share eternity with. In all my years, I have never encountered anyone who can understand my native tongue or knows the lullabies my mother once sang to me. I have traveled across this world, to continents undreamed of and learned 100 different languages. But as far as I can tell, I am the oldest living being in this world."

"And you predate the vampires? What can you tell me of our origins?"

She waved my questions away.

"I did not come here to be a school teacher. I came here for my heart. I was going to place it somewhere safer than it is, although it sound like it will be safe, for now, with you. Safer than it was with Julian, certainly. What a petty little creature he was."

"'Was?' Did you destroy him?" I knew, from my diary, that Julian had saved me once, or more, as a mortal, but I find that there's nothing in me that still feels a true emotion toward him.

"No, although he showed very bad manners. But I left him alive, once he told he what he had done with my heart. You, though, are much more civil."

"It's how I've lived as long as I have -- such that I have."

Meresankh smiled at that.

"You likely have a few centuries left in you, before you succumb to idiocy. Would you like to come with me and see the cougar-city of Qusqu, or the great statues of Rapa Nui, that look out onto an ocean larger than any you have ever dreamed of, or go south to the endless land of ice, where the night sky burns with green fire and where no humans have ever walked but me? You could be my most trusted servant."

"'Servant?' I am no servant."

Meresankh's eyes narrowed.

"In life, I was a queen, the wife of a living god. I know more things than you ever possibly could. Since my rebirth, I have sailed a ship I built myself across the great western ocean. I have turned lead into gold. I have been the lover of three different gods. I have ruled four different kingdoms on three continents. You are in on way my equal. But I would allow you to be my companion."

"And what happens if a vampire feeds upon you, oldest woman in the world?" I snarled. "What does your blood do for us?"

Her tone rankled me. I could not remember -- literally -- anyone ever treating me with anything other than the deference that comes with knowing I am a deadly predator.

Meresankh laughed.

"My blood is like hot sand in your mouth. It does nothing to nourish you, but burns your mouth and throat."

She rose from the table.

"I have your measure now. I do not think you will harm my heart. And if I want it back, I will be able to find you again now. You will regret not taking me up on my offer. Human lives are so brief and your relationship cannot be anything other than a wolf among the sheep. Perhaps I will offer you another chance some day. Farewell for now, Guglielmo-who-was-Guillaume."

I watched her leave, wanting to chase after her, ask her about the Romans and Judea, and what more she knew about the origins of vampires, about green fire in the southern skies and of what a "cougar city" was. But after centuries of establishing my own little empires of businesses and traders and ships sailing in my name, I could not fathom leaving that all behind and bending the knee even to someone who claimed to have known Sumeria.

I spent decades wondering if I had made the right decision.
Prompt 39 + 3 - 2 = Prompt 40

You are approached by a supernatural Character unknown to you. They take you on a bizarre journey, then offer you spiritual solace in exchange for a terrible pledge. What do they demand? Will you accept? If you accept, gain a Skill.
Guglielmo Nero

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant (checked);
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampire anatomy;
I can draw the shadows in around myself, creating supernatural hiding spaces (checked);

Resources:
The Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not die
Florentine fencing school

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (Immortal);
Filippo Vadi: a Florentine fencing master with the fingers of his right hand cut off (mortal);
Catherina Marchand: a descendant of Cateline and Anouilh, who works for my Florentine investment company (mortal);
Meresankh, an ancient Egyptian queen who has lived 3,000 years as of 1472, and whose still-living heart I have in my possession (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: 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;
2: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
3. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart; Meresankh, the immortal woman whose heart that is, confronts me in Florence, but allows me to keep it in my safe-keeping for now;
4. I am Guglielmo Nero: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence; poisoned by Averardo de' Medici, I wake up in Florence 100 years later, the Itzigs dead, my banking empire dismantled in my absence; setting myself up in Florence, I come to own and operate out of a fencing school.
5.

Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other (DAMAGED) 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese (DAMAGED) Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on (DAMAGED) as I tend to them.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Florence, 1550

I awoke in darkness, the taste of smoke and charred human flesh in my mouth giving way to dust. Normally, the darkness was no problem for me, but this evening, it was like a blanket across my face.

No, not a blanket. Rubble. Stone and dirt. I sat forward, forcing it off me, thrusting it away with desperate hands to find even more rock and stone beyond it. My quarters beneath the fencing school had been filled with fallen rock.

I opened my mouth to call for Filippo or one of his sons, but only a croak came out, and I suddenly realized I was starved for blood, hungrier now than I had been since first arriving, a comatose prisoner, in Florence.

The last thing I remembered was a war council of the la danza nera in Il Chiarissimo's underground palace. We were discussing Savanarola, who was reportedly teaching his followers, il Piagnoni, about the vampires in Florence and planning on doing something about us.

But I remembered returning home before dawn, tired, perhaps, but no more than that. So what had happened here, and why had I not awakened for it?

With all my might, I began to slowly clear my way upward, moving the rubble as far as I could. Many times, I found myself confronted by immovable walls of stone and had to slowly crawl backwards and find another path forward. Other times, I dislodged too much at once and had to prevent a rapid landslide that might crush me, or worse, let in a sudden blast of sunlight for which I was unprepared, not knowing what hour of day this was.

When light finally broke through the rubble, I was so used to crawling in darkness that at first, I mistook it for sunlight and recoiled in panic. But it was moonlight, and as I pulled away the last few stones and pulled myself out, I saw it was a full moon.

I was still in my neighborhood of Florence, but things had changed. My school was in ruins, but other buildings around it were also damaged and some replaced entirely. And then I saw them: cannonball holes in some of the surviving buildings.

But otherwise, the street looked normal. It was clean and there were flower boxes in the windows. This was not currently a city at war. But when had it been? And for how long?

First, though, I needed to feed. Immediately.

I stalked the alleyways as I had so many times over the centuries, dragging unfortunates out of the gutter or even the streets, gorging myself until I could think clearly again.

I had learned from Cologne and had worked to diversify my investments, none of them requiring "Guglielmo Nero" to access them. And Catherina had been a good business manager, further expanding my financial empire and making it less vulnerable to wars or calamity.

I could rebuild, here or in another city. I had long ago created records suggesting I had multiple male heirs around Europe. The question, then, was whom to become and where to resume my long unlife.
Prompt 40 + 10 - 2 = Prompt 48

You awaken covered in dust. Generations have passed. Your sleeping place has been sealed off. How did you escape? Lose a Resource. Strike out all mortal Characters.

Guglielmo Nero

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant (checked);
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampire anatomy;
I can draw the shadows in around myself, creating supernatural hiding spaces (checked);

Resources:
The Spear of Aeolius, an ancient Roman spear capable of killing vampires
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not die

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (Immortal);
Meresankh, an ancient Egyptian queen who has lived 3,000 years as of 1472, and whose still-living heart I have in my possession (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: 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;
2: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
3. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart; Meresankh, the immortal woman whose heart that is, confronts me in Florence, but allows me to keep it in my safe-keeping for now;
4. I am Guglielmo Nero: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence; poisoned by Averardo de' Medici, I wake up in Florence 100 years later, the Itzigs dead, my banking empire dismantled in my absence; setting myself up in Florence, I come to own and operate out of a fencing school.
5. I am Guglielmo Nero: I awake in the rubble of my Florentine fencing school, war having destroyed the building;

Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other (DAMAGED) 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese (DAMAGED) Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on (DAMAGED) as I tend to them.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Nicosia, 1578

After leaving Florence, I realized my best course was to continue moving, to not get drawn into the politics of any local place, mortal or immortal.

As I had hoped, my business interests had survived my absence this time, and was able to freely travel with money that had grown over the decades. All it took was convincing one clerk in Pisa that I was Giulio Nero, the dissolute grandson of Guglielmo Nero and now an heir to his business -- one of a number of male heirs. Letters were then sent around Europe to help establish the existence of these other heirs. And as I traveled, these heirs corresponded with one another, from city to city, over decades, creating evidence that I would then use later on, when I changed names as time went on and my face was too young to be the heir I was claiming to be.

I was guided in my travels by a desire to untangle my family history. Like humans of a certain age, I became obsessed with piecing together what I knew of those who came before me. But in my case, I was interested in vampires. And, according to Meresankh, the family tree would not extend far into the past, although it was apparently spreading quickly now.

I now only know Carnutes from my diary and that he was a Gaul who was turned by Aeolius, a Roman soldier whose spear I still possess. And Meresankh made reference to true vampires first appearing in the Holy Land about 1,500 years ago. So to the Holy Land I went.

I was freely able to travel through the Ottoman Empire -- or at least as free as any living European could. The questions were limited to what any traveler would be asked, and any strangeness in my manner due to my nature was considered to be a European eccentricity.

I spent a year in Jerusalem, a modest and ancient city of about 10,000 people. In addition to Christians and Jews, it turned out to be a holy city to the Muslims as well, something I hadn't realized before traveling through the empire. It took me most of my time there to work through the various Quranic scholars who lived in the city to find one whose interests were more esoteric.

Eventually, I was able to gain audience with Aafiq Al-Nazzal, a Sufi scholar most considered to be a collector of ghost stories. He, too, had heard the stories that the first vampires had appeared in Judea 1,500 years ago.

"A date of great significance among Christians," he said, conspiratorially. "There are rumors, of course, that they were present at the planned crucifixion of the prophet Isa, whom you call 'Jesus.' But Allah saved him, with a miracle. Some say he was bodily raised into Heaven. Others say that another died in his place."

"Christians believe the blood of Jesus was spilled as he hung on the cross, that a Roman soldier stabbed him with his spear."

"Possible. The Romans were cruel and enjoyed torturing their enemies. Likely everyone who was crucified suffered wounds from nearby soldiers."

"Could his blood have somehow turned those soldiers into vampires?"

Aafiq was horrified at the notion.

"Isa was a great prophet, who performed many miracles, including feeding children and curing the blind. He was not some witch cursing his enemies. No, whatever caused the vampires to appear was not his doing."

According to Aafiq, most of the Roman soldiers in Judea at that time were Greeks, specifically Thessalians. And thus, I knew the next stop on my journey.

Thessaly was an uneasy province of the Ottomans at this time, with groups of rebels hiding in the rocky mountains, always eager to fall upon their occupiers in the vain hope of driving the pasha out. A scholar, coming from elsewhere in the empire, was the least of officials' problems.

In Larissa, known to the Ottomans as Yeni-şehir i-Fenari, I sat with an elderly woman, said to be the oldest person alive in Greece, although I was definitely much older. Sophia had been taught all the stories of the old days by her grandmother, who was said to have been the oldest woman in her day, and who had similarly been a link to ancient stories.

Sophia's grandmother had spoken of the vampires, whom she said were Roman soldiers, rather than the native-born lamia, who were beautiful Greek women who preyed on young men for their blood and flesh.

"And do you know any of these vampires' names, grandmother?"

Sophia turned her head toward me. She was blind, or nearly so, and had long ago lost all of her teeth and most of her hearing.

She pointed a wobbly finger at the wall of her dark room.

"One went north, into the mountains, to become a school master at a school for the dark arts by a black lake."

"Wait, who did? Which mountains?"

But I had exhausted Sophia and was unable to get more from her.

So I traveled further north through the Ottoman Empire, into Bulgaria. There, I found others who had heard the story, and referred to the headmaster as Solomonar. But other Bulgarians said the school was founded by the Devil himself. But they all agreed that the school was even further north, near Sibiu in Transylvania.

Sibiu was a charming town on the Cibin River. Many of the buildings had an unusual ventilation system in their roofs that made them look as though they were covered in eyes. Amusing, at first, but over time, the feeling grew and grew that I was being truly watched.

On my third night in town, I was assaulted in the early hours of the morning before dawn and taken by strong hands to a hidden location.

I awoke to find nine vampires, dressed in a variety of styles from around Europe and the Ottoman Empire, glaring at me. I was in a round stone room, chains binding me to a gray stone throne. Most worryingly, I was surrounded on all sides by tall wooden shutters, shut out against the night, but which I could easily imagine being thrown open, allowing the room to flood with sunlight come dawn.

"You are asking a lot of questions," one vampire said, with a thick Transylvanian accent and a long droopy mustache. "Why are you seeking a school?"

"I have questions about our kind's origins. I have been to Jerusalem, where we apparently were born, and traced the path back from there to Thessaly. I was told one of the first vampires came here, to found a school of dark arts."

The vampires glanced at each other. Something I had said resonated with past conversations between them.

"And who was this vampire?"

"He may have called himself Aeolus, or it might have been a companion of his. At some point, he created another vampire, who I knew as Carnutes and he in turn created me. I have come seeking more understanding of what it means to be a vampire."

They conferred among themselves, using a code or language I did not recognize. At long last, the one with the droopy mustache approached me and pulled something from his dark cloak. Before I could see what it was, I was in darkness once more.

When I awoke again, I was conscious that a great deal of time had passed.

I was in a mossy tomb somewhere warmer than when I had last been awake, I sat up on my slab and found my clothes had been sloppily buttoned up at some point in the past. As I redid them, I found new scars on my torso and knew that things had been removed from me and I had been stitched back up with black thread by someone who wanted me to know what happened. What, though, they had taken, or why, I did not know.

I emerged into twilight and what appeared to be a Greek island like those I had visited on my journey to Thessaly. But this one was far larger and beyond its shores, nothing but dark blue waters.

I found I had no more desire to learn about the origins of vampires, but was instead seized with the desire to create a new, great work of supernatural and artistic importance.

I discovered I was on the outskirts of Nicosia, in the Ottoman eyalet of Cyprus, six months after my arrival in Sibiu. In addition to ships going to and from the empire, there were regular trips to and from Venice. I set about my great project, sending for my things from their hidden caches around Italy and hired laborers both from Cyprus and elsewhere in the empire.

Finally, a year later, I had done it. Upon Cyprus' Mt. Olympus, I had erected a structure that combined broken statuary from the slopes of Mt. Olympus, death masks from Egypt and, most importantly, the Spear of Aeolus, which swung freely in the structure, pointing in response to unseen stimulus.

The locals were curious about the structure and insisted on approaching it repeatedly. It took killing all those foolish enough to stay near the summit at night, and tossing their bodies down the mountain, for it to stop.

I left Cyprus with a lightened heart and the whole world open to me.
Prompt 48 + 10 - 2 = Prompt 56 ((Two more rolls like that and the game is over.))

You begin a fantastic construction that puzzles the mortals around you. Give just a hint of its purpose. Lose a Resource and gain the skill Visionary.

Guglielmo Nero

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast;
Skilled merchant (checked);
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampire anatomy;
I can draw the shadows in around myself, creating supernatural hiding spaces (checked);
Visionary;

Resources:
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not die

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (Immortal);
Meresankh, an ancient Egyptian queen who has lived 3,000 years as of 1472, and whose still-living heart I have in my possession (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: 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;
2: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
3. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart; Meresankh, the immortal woman whose heart that is, confronts me in Florence, but allows me to keep it in my safe-keeping for now;
4. I am Guglielmo Nero: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence; poisoned by Averardo de' Medici, I wake up in Florence 100 years later, the Itzigs dead, my banking empire dismantled in my absence; setting myself up in Florence, I come to own and operate out of a fencing school.
5. I am Guglielmo Nero: I awake in the rubble of my Florentine fencing school, war having destroyed the building; I traveled the Ottoman Empire, searching for the origins of vampires before being sent to Cyprus on a mysterious errand, and there I erected a magical structure atop Mt. Olympus;

Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other (DAMAGED) 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese (DAMAGED) Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on (DAMAGED) as I tend to them.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Vienna, 1600

A package arrived at the offices of my Vienesse barrister. Inside, was a note listing a series of names, most of them former or current aliases of mine, and asking if the package had reached these persons, to please respond to an address in Prague, so that the writer and I could arrange to meet, to discuss how Il Chiarissimo had wronged us both.

I suppose I should have been alarmed, but I was not. The additional names the letter was addressed to showed that whomever this writer was, they were fallible and had not completely tracked my moves around the continent.

And if their goal had been to harm me, there were better ways to do so, having found my barrister, than arranging at meeting at a later date.

Intrigued, I agreed to meet.

Vienna was a charming city even then, in the years between Turkish sieges, and before it became the Baroque city it would in the coming years. But I drifted through it, not making real connections with my barrister, Herr Gibitz, despite having employed his father before him. The same went for the modest staff at my house and similar employees at my homes and businesses in Mirandola, Barcelona and Tirana.

The Itzigs of Cologne had all been killed after my disappearance, as had my staff in Florence. I craved getting close to others again -- I now knew the loneliness that Carnutes and Meresankh had spoken of -- but the price for such selfishness for them was a violent death.

Whomever I had expected to meet at that cafe in Prague, I was not prepared for an elderly Italian man with a sad face.

"Good evening," he said, slowly lowering himself into a chair. "I believe we have something in common."

Alessandro's family had been Florentines. More than that, they had been Piagnoni -- the followers of Girolamo Savonarola. After he was executed, his family then followed the teachings of Pietro Bernardino, and his secret band of Piagnoni, carrying out the work of Savonarola, which both included a struggle against what they saw as the teachings of a failed church as well as opposing the vampires of Florence. When they were exposed by the Medicis and driven out of Florence, they ended up in my beloved Mirandola, before agents of the Medici vampires set upon them there, leading to most of them being burned as heretics.

But Alessandro's grandparents had been among those whose identity had not been known to the Medicis, and they remained there in hiding, raising their family and passing on the teachings of the Piagnoni, which included the identities of the Florentine vampires -- including me.

When Alessandro came of age, he intended to avenge his family by destroying the Florentine vampires, and set about studying them to determine their weaknesses. He soon learned that the Medici vampires lorded over all others, just as their human descendants did with the mortal population of the city. And he learned that Il Chiarissimo had orchestrated the ambush against me on the Rhein, ordered the execution of the Itzigs and, later, had arranged to leave my fencing school in rubble while I slept, trapped, beneath it, while he killed off my human servants so they could not aid me.

I had suspected all of this, of course, but hearing it laid out and reading the letters and diaries Alessandro had collected over the years as proof, was like a blow to the chest.

My fury grew in a way it hadn't in centuries. Blood thundered in my ears and all I could think about was my claws and fangs ripping into everyone around me. It took all my self-control to prevent myself from slaughtering the dozen innocents in the cafe. Finally, I pulled myself back under control.

"And what is it you want from me, Alessandro, as I am one that I know you detest?"

"Anything you can offer me to help destroy Il Chiarissimo. Ways of killing vampires. Secrets of his court or his hiding places. Anything you can give me and my followers to help us gain my revenge before I die."

"Nothing would make me happier."
Prompt 56 + 4 - 3 = Prompt 57


Your knowledge of old things becomes a strength. Based on a checked Skill, what knowledge do you share with contemporary mortals? Check a Skill. Create a Resource.

Guglielmo Nero

Skills
:
Bloodthirsty (checked);
Knows the secrets of killing vampires (checked);
I control the beast (checked);
Skilled merchant (checked);
Cook Portuguese seafood dishes;
Knowledgeable of medieval medicine;
Knowledge of vampire anatomy;
I can draw the shadows in around myself, creating supernatural hiding spaces (checked);
Visionary;

Resources:
Diary: A leather-bound German-made ledger book
An ever-beating heart, which magically will not die
Allied with the Piagnoni, a 17th century group of Italian vampire hunters

Characters:
Juião/Julian Black: a Portuguese orphan turned my servant turned vampire (Immortal);
Meresankh, an ancient Egyptian queen who has lived 3,000 years as of 1472, and whose still-living heart I have in my possession (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: 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;
2: I am Wilhelm Black: Brought into the society of the Nachtvolk of Cologne, I watched their leader slowly dismember a vampire, leaving him alive for hours, just in agony; with the help of the mortal Itzig family, I become a rich merchant, with investments across Europe.
3. I am Wilhelm Black: Julian, now a violent enforcer of the Nachtvolk, gifts me an ever-beating heart; Meresankh, the immortal woman whose heart that is, confronts me in Florence, but allows me to keep it in my safe-keeping for now;
4. I am Guglielmo Nero: After Florentine banks collapse during the 100 Years War, I move my banking operations from Cologne to Florence; poisoned by Averardo de' Medici, I wake up in Florence 100 years later, the Itzigs dead, my banking empire dismantled in my absence; setting myself up in Florence, I come to own and operate out of a fencing school.
5. I am Guglielmo Nero: I awake in the rubble of my Florentine fencing school, war having destroyed the building; I traveled the Ottoman Empire, searching for the origins of vampires before being sent to Cyprus on a mysterious errand, and there I erected a magical structure atop Mt. Olympus; I ally with an Italian vampire hunter to kill Averardo de' Medici, the vampire ruler of Florence.

Diary (four memories, up to three Experiences each)
1: I am Guilliame d'Orléans: The night the other (DAMAGED) 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.
2: I am le Passeur or "the Frenchman": The Portuguese (DAMAGED) Juião helps me after I am burned by sunlight, unafraid of my supernatural nature, and I take him in as my servant; Juião teaches me to cook with the seafood I catch underwater; at his urging, I prey on (DAMAGED) as I tend to them.
 


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