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[CofD] Sir Night Compiles Night Horrors: The Unbidden (In-Character Let's Read)

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
(OOC: This next guy does some pretty awful shit, folks. Warning for rape.)

a_monster_in_every_sense.zip

It could be both. Given how Tryzub is defined by his martyr complex, I can see him executing a Scelestus who damned himself for reasons he doesn't approve of. [Ain't self-justifications fun? Especially if the person is a member of an Order that has an entire cosmological view about being the lesser evil?]

But enough of that. From a cult of worshipers of cosmic terror and negative truth [Old theory I heard from a cabalmate of Cichol's, he's a techgnostic physicist who theorizes the Abyss is kind of like negative charge to the positive charge of Truth we understand.] to all-too-human evil. Behold, why I am glad that Proximi are not the sole source of mages, as that would be almost certain to produce another Theo Cadere, who you may also know as the Bay Rapist, the Municipal Park Rapist, the Demon Nanny, the Hooded Ravager, the Succubus, and a thousand other titles which hint at his depravity. [We really don't like people who violate others that way, can you tell?]

Really, though, I can see where the mad Thrysus is coming from, even if I spit upon the very ground that lets him walk upon it instead of swallowing him up. [Or at least, spraining his ankle. You can do that as compromise, ground?] He was born of the Prosapia lineage, who while not quite Proximi, did have an extremely strong genetic predisposition towards Awakening. How that happened, why, and what occurred that led to them dying out [I'll bet that name means absolutely nothing to many of you, and the ones that do remember have to think about what they were.] is beyond me or any mage I've spoken to. I do know the family claimed that at least one of their number Awakened per generation at its height, probably more, and the rest were inherent Sleepwalkers. In the days of Rome, they were more or less an aristocratic line of mages, a mystical house of Hapsburg. [And had just about as ignominious an end.] At some point, their fortunes took a turn for the worse; their guardian spirit, Pellax (who will be his own entry later in the series; I don't have enough data on him yet) came to resent his service to the Prosapia, and perhaps the magic in their blood started to burn out their vaunted genes. Quite simply, the Prosapia increasingly fond themselves unable to have children, and of the ones they did, fewer and fewer Awoke. [There's even a sixty-year period around the Renaissance where none of the known lines Awoke at all, just the ones who got there before the moratorium.] And around the American Revolution and a discovery that Fate had decreed that the Prosapia would die out, their obsession with keeping the blood going went from desperate to depraved; eventually, even parent-child relationships became acceptable for the holy grail of another generation of Prosapia. [We can't even blame Pellax for that entirely, the few remaining diviners came up with blood purity somehow being a good idea when it has never ever fucking worked for any mortal.] Chistophe Valder - now known as Cadere - is the sole living product of that incestuous death rattle, and from his birth, he was indoctrinated with the idea that magic is a genetic thing and that his purpose in existence was to continue the Prosapia lineage. At any cost.

This is heading exactly where you suspect it is. [For the love of the teotl, what is it about the Adamantine Arrow that attracts the most toxic forms of masculinity!? He's not a member now, but you'd think someone would catch on to he being a desperate little creep and get him some therapy! Gods!]

At first he simply tried to marry early. Thanks to a combination of Pellax [Who he thinks of as a tool, still, the idiot.] and whatever cursed destiny his clan developed, both of his legal wives died, one in miscarriage and the other shortly after impregnation. [The Hedge remembers many things related to Fate-related tragedy, in case you were wondering.] Then he got creepy, and all other potential brides came to realize that Cadere purely viewed them as a means to an end, running away from the cursed mage.

And one day, he snapped. The first scheme that gave him one of his monikers was the mass sacrifice of children to a primal being in an attempt to ensure his next child lived. Then he took someone he called a "blood-wife" after mystically enslaving her will, an undead woman who sweated blood. [I think he heard about dhamphirs and their relationship with Fate, and thought that if he impregnated a vampire, then perhaps his child would be immune to his destiny.] Then he all-but-lobotomized a mage named Eve and made her into little more than his doll, eventually sending her into a coma to protect her fetus better, only for her to be mercifully killed (likely by Pellax) before she could carry to term. And the experiments only get more horrific from there on out; to be frank, I would not be surprised if Cadere has become one of the Mad, a mage who has been so completely consumed by their mystical obsessions they are now little more than sociopathic eyes of mystical tempests. It would certainly explain why he's so hard to track, even for me.

{Cichol here; Mad mages are actually a wee bit misnamed, and the Free Council does everything in its power to change the term to something that does not tar actual mental disorders with the brush. Maybe back to Marauds. "Madness", the condition, is actually the result of going way off the reservation when it comes to adhering to Wisdom; the less you consider the ramifications of your own power, the less control you have over your own Nimbus, your personal magical field, until eventually your Nimbus unnmores itself and it starts leading you around. In effect, you become the avatar of your own magic at its most amoral, and that's a real freaking issue, because being an avatar of a Supernal phenomenon means you're also hidden by Quiescence. Bloody big problem when you're someone trying very hard to contain the walking mystic hurricane with a completely sociopathic mad scientist at the core.}

From what I've gleaned and his hasn't erased, Cadere generally exists in two modes; one is when he's figuring out a new experiment to continue his lineage, and another when he's carrying it out. In his "resting" state, Cadere becomes little more than a homeless wanderer, an almost animal survivalist who keeps to himself, only changing clothes for sanitary reasons and warmth. [And by animal, Night means he, and whatever hidey-hole he has now, stinks. And still stinks a month after he leaves. Because gah.] When he is on a mission, however, he is a master of disguise in ways only a Life-focused mage is, and beyond; if he is a Mad One, I have no doubt the Tulpa they unconsciously cast help him {Those would be the headwinds in the hurricane analogy; semi-sentient autonomous spells that leak out from the rabid Nimbus that serve the Marad's obsessions}, but I know, perhaps through a Legacy or sheer stubbornness, that he is an example of the incredibly rare Thrysus who has developed his faculty with the Mind Arcanum to its fullest potential. [Mind is, for those of you who don't know, a Thrysus' Inferior Arcanum; it meshes so poorly with their native Supernal Realm they need a tutor of some kind to learn anything beyond the basics. I don't know if Cadere teaching himself via grimoire and spirits is more terrifying an idea than somebody actually teaching him to that point.] This allows him to cover up any breaks in his character and conjure a backstory for his role instantly, and even on a mundane level Cadere is a master actor. He even puts one of my race to shame sometimes. [And unfortunately, the fact that he's after something largely tangential to his crimes means he has no modus operandi; I know for a fact he's even willing to turn himself into a woman for a while if he thinks his latest scheme requires his mitochondrial DNA, though he hates it; he's very much a heterosexual man and identifies as such. Really, Bec (Rebecca DeFontaine, kind of Night's heir in the Knights of the Clockwork Heart) only caught he was sniffing around some of our stigmatics because his psionic signature was reeking with body dysmorphia. Since all the T in the LGBTQ segment of her cell is post-op...] (And now you know where part of my own disgust for the man comes from. I have no shame in admitting whatever sympathy I had for his childhood has been pissed away by the fact my friends have experienced his view of everything and everyone as an incubator, raw materials, an obstacle, or all of the above firsthand.)

Having gotten into a fight with him personally, I know Cadere is a wizard of no small ability, even before Pellax's own abilities with Numina are factored in. But he's highly specialized; He's an expert with Life and Mind spells, but I didn't see him tap his natural facility with the Spirit Arcanum at all, which leads me to believe he hasn't really learned how to use it to its full potential. [Not that close to his genetics-focused obsession, I suspect. Pity, he may have killed Pellax himself by now.] He's an expert at manipulating life-forces and especially genomes, being quite able to heal himself on the fly, inflict genetics-changing mutations that remain within normal human limits (we needed the help of Cichol's Cabal to undo that spell lest several of our knights become carriers for sickle-cell and Alzheimer's, which I suspect was a delaying tactic), puppeteer human bodies, transform nonsentient animal life into humans guided by bestial instincts, and even create new life-forms out of local hydrocarbons. [Poor Steve has lynx claws to join his dog bite.] As a master of the Mind, he knows exactly how to attack others psionically and seize direct control of the mind, sometimes even astrally projecting to possess someone close by as per ghosts or spirits. [That was horrifying.] His physical skills are more average, but he seems to follow the jack-of-all-trades principle; he can't shoot you all of the time, or really dance with a blade, but he can do both effectively depending on situation, and he's extremely canny when it comes to ambush tactics. Really, the only way to realistically fight him at an advantage is to catch him by surprise, and as a mage served at least ostensibly by a powerful spirit, that is not an easy task.

He does have one flaw though; he has no idea how to disguise his Nimbus. While I can't detect it, Cichol tells me if you smell dog fur and feel overwhelming desperation and despair, Cadere has been there. So mages, at least, can tell what his actual crimes are.

From a monster in spirit to a monster who is like a spirit, next we will focus on Wildcat, an unliving relic from the early days of the Tremere soul-eaters. [And probably really envies the undying kind.]

---

At his desk, Cato Morgenrot, the favored face of Sir Night, steepled his hands and sighed, his computer screen shining off his glasses as he checked over his latest entry.

"Tim?" Behind him, he heard Nita's own seat roll over, a bit more haltingly than before her pregnancy. "You're doing the finger pyramid of the spymaster again. Work stress?"

"Doesn't this all seem," Night paused for a second, finding the proper metaphor. "A bit too...designed?"

"Sorry?"

"LaToure, Metathron, the Ludins, a flock of shard crows, and now Cadere. The nullifier, the conflict agent, the living buffs to other mages, the double agent, and now the living bang-and-burn." He gestures at the journal. "These all come off as, well, different types of black ops. First comes the relatively more blatant force who disarms the opponent, then the spirit who specializes in causing organizational chaos, then a trio of individuals who would assist potential allies in our destruction, then parasites capable of pretending to be trustworthy agents, and now a walking avatar of chaos who was likely to take down several knights with him. If the pattern's right we should be seeing another more indirect blow, like the Ludins."

"The Ludins are old ex-Nazi hags whose most threatening ability is snide comments," Nita says. Night can feel his wife's eyebrow go up. "I don't think they're really in the pattern of threats."

"Except they showed up just after we started infiltrating the Golden Quorum." Night stares at the data, seemingly trying to glare at it until it makes sense. "If we didn't lose the trail, the Ludins would have proved invaluable in helping them hunt us down after we were burned."

"Sure it just isn't Tim Luck?"

"No," he admits. "But two threats seeking us is a coincidence, three times is odd, and five times? Five times begins to smell of intent. Or curses."

He looks at the antique doll on his table. More specifically, he looks at the minuscule patterns covering its skin. "What were you planning, Arif? And what did you call down?"
 
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Patkin

ougikawa
Validated User
The Prosapia.

I have a colleague who did some exploration in Proximi lineages during his early years in the order. It was his belief, supported by a number of case studies and interviews with Proximi and Awakened counterparts, that an immersion into Supernal magic in a family setting led to a kind of... resistance against further knowledge taking root. The Prosapia were a central part of his thesis, saying that the expectation of Awakening the family put into their children's heads made it more difficult to achieve; and that later this belief in a "sterility curse" that supposedly prevented them from partaking in their birthright, pushed them further away.

(He didn't try to explain the decree from Fate regarding the family, though he proposed that perhaps one of the family, having gone mad, inflicted the curse on their family without conscious knowledge of what they had done. In this way, a curse would exist, while remaining a beast of the Prosapia's own making. That was only a theory, of course, and he only had his intuition to guide him on the matter.)

His later hypothesis was that any lineage descended from the Prosapia would have a better chance of Awakening were they to be wiped of information about the family or subsequently orphaned from the bloodline. This.. didn't go over well in the caucus, you might understand, since it veered so close to a Veiled or logophagic perspective on magic, but I believed that the core idea behind it was sound. Cadere's insane quest for an heir has almost no chance of succeeding so long as Cadere tries to perpetuate the environment the Prosapia lived under.

Gemini.
 

ZiggyZapf

Sorcerer of Autumn
Validated User
From: Dingbat@FontsByThePound
To: Forum
Subject: The biology of magic

Speaking of a supposed genetic component in Supernal magic got me thinking about some documents I read. At one point, the Winter Court got a hold of some Cheiron Group documents on mages. Evidently, someone in the Group misidentified the weird activity here as mage-related. From what I gathered, they're fascinated by mages largely because they have a difficult time finding biological oddities in their mage victims, which makes it hard to transplant anything. (Though I suppose shots in the dark are lower-risk since there might be less chance of rejection.) The alternative to there being a genetic component that immediately comes to mind is that there's something in the family traditions that makes Awakening more likely, and given the family's collapse, they probably lost some vital component. An appropriate irony (fitting with Fate's well-developed sense thereof) is that obsessing over preserving the family line was what did it in, forming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm not a family man, but if I did somehow wind up with kids, I wouldn't pressure them into a family obligation. Growing up means finding your own way in life.

And, of course, to use a bit of outdated ecology talk: Humans aren't r-strategy organisms, and I'd think mages would be even less so than non-mages. Even if Cadere does manage to produce a child, I can't see someone twisted as him raising a healthy individual. If I was from such a heritage, I'd rather have it go out with dignity than peter on using such depraved methods. All good things must come to an end, and this is a family that's gone rotten trying to prevent that end.

--Ziggy Zapf
 

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
running_commentary.zip

@ Gemini: I've heard something similar from Cichol. Apparently revelation is key to Awakening, and it's a common belief among Guardians especially that actual concrete knowledge of the Supernal interferes with that. Thus, why Labyrinths deliberately clamp down on Supernal lore and have flaws in their manufactured lore that those seeking real knowledge instead of just power will crack and look at. [I am not a fan of the Guardians, so I'm skeptical. But not of the mystery cult and especially arcane heterodoxy aspect, I'd be an enormous hypocrite given how I believe the teotl of Aztec myth are of the same class of being as Catholic saints in terms of divine authority.]

@ Zapf: I didn't consider the problem of an actual child, but excellent point. That potential youth does not deserve to have Cadere as a father. {Cichol: Though, r- and K- strategy is outdated? News to me. What replaced it? I took an ecology class and that's what was taught.}

OOC: Cichol's confusion is my own. I was literally taught that last year.
 
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ZiggyZapf

Sorcerer of Autumn
Validated User
From: Dingbat@FontsByThePound
To: Group

Huh. Maybe I misread or misremembered, so I'll humbly defer to someone with actual experience in the field. I'm a game developer and a fae sorcerer, not a scientist, but I try to keep up on some science blogs, one of which is a biology professor who has to deal with a lot of pseudoscience and mistaken knowledge or oversimplifications gleaned from popular culture. (He hates a lot of movies.) Maybe he was referring to something else as outdated. He has mentioned that he's sometimes frustrated by needing to teach Mendelian genetics as a basic model and then 'unteach' it by introducing students to the nuances and mechanics we've discovered since then. Could be a similar case to that, maybe?

---

I think I can understand the idea of concrete knowledge interfering with an Awakening, at least in a Sleeper: The bit of the Abyss in their soul probably is going to work overtime if it suspects an Awakening is going to come.

--Ziggy Zapf
 

The Watcher

Cosmic Observer
Validated User
From: Jacob@TheIsland.net
To: Forum

Ah, The Prosapia. I have not heard that name discussed in quite a while. I think I may actually be one of the few men alive who has had the acquaintance of more than one of their number. It was right around the beginning of their final decline when I first encountered the family. They were researching various methods of life extension and immortality as potential means to prolong the lives and fertile years of their Awakened to increase their chances of breeding more mages. Fortunately both ethical reasons coupled with the metaphysical possibility that a Legacy closely linked to Death might bring with it a resonance that depressed fertility made them reject the possibility of some of their number joining the Tremere's ranks out of hand. In any case, they sought me out to investigate the possibility of translating the means I achieved my immortality to Supernal methodology.

Unfortunately I had to inform them that my form of immortality renders one incapable of bearing or fathering children, so even if one could devise a means for a mage to achieve it and keep their Awakened status it would not suit their purposes. However, thanks to being a practitioner of the mystic arts with more than a couple of centuries under my belt I had extensive knowledge and connections with spirits that I could use to help them. I managed to arrange a meeting between their elders and a receptive Marquis (that's Dihir or Incarnae for those in the audience who use First Tongue or the Uratha terms) of Health which resulted in an agreement to arrest the aging of number of family members in exchange for a certain amount of Essence and specified services provided annually. An arrangement that managed to last for about a decade and a half before falling apart. From what I later gleaned from idle gossip among various nobles of Shadow, I managed to deduce words and actions of the Patriarch's familiar Pellax were a likely contributing factor to this estrangement. No solid proof of deliberate sabotage of course, but enough circumstantial evidence to confirm suspicions I already had regarding the spirit's true loyalties and motives. In any case, as their degeneration grew and their line dwindled I lost track of the family. I can say however that those I knew would have been disgusted and horrified at what their last scion has become.

As far as my take on Cadere, besides the obvious revulsion and moral outrage any decent person would have towards his actions, I also think in strictly pragmatic terms they're incredibly stupid. In this day and age there are more efficient and moral tactics to maximizing reproduction. He could have simply become a sperm donor to a number of fertility clinics around the world. That would have introduced his seed to much more eggs in the same amount of time he has spent in his various depraved activities. Beyond that, by using Life magic as a tool to apply current biological knowledge he could potentially create clones by replacing the genetic material in donated ova with his own and then either using surrogates or conjuring artificial wombs to carry them to term. I suspect his treacherous "servant" Pellax is a big reason he hasn't thought of or explored these options.

Speaking of a supposed genetic component in Supernal magic got me thinking about some documents I read. At one point, the Winter Court got a hold of some Cheiron Group documents on mages. Evidently, someone in the Group misidentified the weird activity here as mage-related. From what I gathered, they're fascinated by mages largely because they have a difficult time finding biological oddities in their mage victims, which makes it hard to transplant anything. (Though I suppose shots in the dark are lower-risk since there might be less chance of rejection.) The alternative to there being a genetic component that immediately comes to mind is that there's something in the family traditions that makes Awakening more likely, and given the family's collapse, they probably lost some vital component. An appropriate irony (fitting with Fate's well-developed sense thereof) is that obsessing over preserving the family line was what did it in, forming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Another possibility is that families like the Prosperia aren't created by anything as material as genetics but due to the mystical Law of Similarity. Like calls to Like. At some points perhaps certain lines evolved (or were imbued with) enough "gravity" in the fabric of Fate that it drew souls with strong potential to Awaken into their "" And just like how astronomical events can change the trajectory of objects and draw bodies into altered orbits, events could have occurred to cause such souls to go elsewhere, escaping the pull those lines exert. Which in turn decreases the family's "attraction" as far as Fate is concerned once Awakened members die and weren't replaced due to less concentration of the "Like" which calls the appropriate souls.

--Prospero
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The immortal known as Prospero stood in front of a chalk circle in a room lit by colorful candles. The smell of incense lingered in the air. Truth be told, he required none of these props for summoning. He had left the need for elaborate ritual behind with his mortality. Now all that that was necessary was a some time, concentration and a small expenditure of spiritual energy. The same could not be said for mortal pupils though, so unless he was pressed for time he engaged in the trappings of ceremony to keep in practice so that he might teach them. And maybe to indulge in a little nostalgia.

He saw the spirit arrive in Twilight a second before it materialized corporeally. A woman with a regal bearing, who appeared to be a once youthful beauty who had managed to age with exquisite grace. Prospero smiled in greeting.

"Good to see you again," he said. "It's been quite a while."

"It is good to see you too," the woman replied. "However, I doubt you had gone though all the time and effort of summoning me for mere socializing. You have news for me, yes?"

Prospero nodded in confirmation.

"The news you have been waiting for. The Prosapia line has been winnowed down to one descendant. Acquaintances I recently made related what they managed to learn about the fellow after a hostile encounter with him. Independent research confirmed their story and the fact he is the lone member of his generation. Goes by the shadow name Theo Cadere and he is quite the monster. No one would mourn his passing."

"And Pellax?" the spirit inquired.

"Still alive and by his side," Prospero answered. "Like a lamprey."

"I suppose it's to be expected that he would make it this far. Unfortunate but expected. Still, altogether what you've told me is good. These recently made acquaintances, do they seek to end Cadere?"

"I don't know if they're actively pursuing it but my impression is they'd be enthusiastically willing to if the opportunity arose."

"Good to hear. I must see to other concerns and make preparations for what is to come but if you would offer them your assistance in any such endeavor it would be most appreciated. The quicker this last son is snuffed out and the ordained Fate of Prosapia is finally fulfilled the better."
 
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Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
on_the_subject_of_immortals.zip

I honestly do not have much to add. Everything I know that could be expounded on in regards to how Awakening traveled along the lines of the Prosapia that I am aware of has been said, and I suspect more complex explanations would only makes sense to other mages. [Not that he wouldn't like to hear them, he just thinks it would take up too much data.] I also wish to apologize for the gap, Nita's third trimester has involved more moving around for security purposes than is probably healthy. [And dear lord, I am waiting for it. I hate jonesing for flying.]

But really, it's also because pursuing information on Wildcat, real name Catarine Beldam (as far as I can tell, I recognize the pun - I've resorted to less clever wordplays in my aliases), has been honestly blessedly boring. Not because she is not a monster, but she a refreshingly mundane and understandable monster. [Which is to say, we get her, we don't really sympathize with her.] She is, quite simply, a Tremere lich, one of those mages who extend their lives through the consumption of souls on a level even I am not capable of (we Unchained are more after the life attached to the soul; I theorize the stuff of eternal life is fine, given how it's known ghosts can arise from those whose souls we devour, though I suspect it's still massively damaging and it's still definitely murder and robbery). Wildcat, however, has a variant of her Legacy's curse; she is also a ghost mage who does not, strictly speaking, need souls to preserve her undeath, but does need them if she wishes to do anything with it. [At all. Including "talk to people."]

(Also, Neferyah's agent informed me just before I posted this that she is a variety of Lifeless, not Deathless, immortal. My apologies to any Arisen and those related to them in some fashion; I'm given to understand it can be extremely insulting to confuse the two.)

From what I know, Beldam was the stereotype of the entitled, socially adept bullying aristocrat from an early age that would eventually lead to the French Revolution (though she is a product of the High Middle Ages). It wasn't surprising to anyone who had the misfortune of knowing her, discovering that she eventually had a vivid nightmare of signing her mark in the book of a "great horned devil" was no surprise. [I feel insulted; we witches are supposed to be rebels, thank you, not power-hungry little rich girls.] Of course, one doesn't actually Awaken without some amount of ability and desire to get to the core of the matter of things, and whatever her faults, the future Wildcat was never lazy or complacent. She was able to find the Diamond Orders {Guardians, Adamantine Arrow, Silver Ladder, the then-separate suborders of the Mysterium - Cichol} of her day through sheer force of determination (and no small amount of money). From there, she set off on her own, and became a luminary amongst the Silver Ladder. [Nice to see poor choice in members is a universal problem among the Pentacle. My guess is that she'd be a Seer if they found her first, and only because of that.]

However, Wildcat always has had a single, driving, flaw; her inability to be satisfied. It's what drove the ennui that provoked her journey to the Iron Gauntlet in the first place, and she saw no reason to change that. In time, this is what gave he renown as one of France's best occult scholars, but as she acquired rank and respect, she only grew hungrier for ways to prove she alone was the greatest magus in the Ladder. Which is, of course, what set her on her ultimately self-ruinous path to encounter the Tremere.

First of all, it bares mentioning that Awakened society does not look highly on seekers of immortality. Longevity, yes, but to the average mage, the search to truly overcome death is a tragic one - or horrific. The term "lich" actually has its origins in Atlantean terminology, a wizard who willingly mutilates his or her own humanity for a chance at life eternal. [See, D&D does have basis in reality.] As I am sure my current patron and Prospero's are aware, on a mystical level to succumb to age is a fundamental aspect of life. To alter the nature of aging, let alone give oneself eternal youth, one must alter the nature of their own life; invariably, this results in grave limitations on what they can or cannot do, or to become a fundamentally parasitic being, stealing life in some way from others. (Given what power I have now, that is likely the difference between what is Deathless and what is Lifeless; to be Deathless, say, is to become part of a cycle of hibernation and amnesia, but one does not rely completely on others to supply the heartbeat of Sekhem. To be Lifeless is to eat souls at the cost of losing all sense of self other wise.) Tremere are simply the most infamous variety, also being Reapers, mages who practice the forbidden art of soul manipulation. [That consumes souls, mind; shape your own to your heart's content!]

I say all this to emphasize that Wildcat never wanted immortality; no, she was always more interested in the Reaper aspect to them. More importantly, how they became Lifeless Reapers. Once, you see, Tremere was the title of a different type of esohuman entirely, a bloodline of vampires intrigued by the arcane and occult. Then the future Tremere, a cabal of mages, interrogated an Abyssal being [Gee, I wonder why things went so wrong.] as to what they could do to truly understand the soul, and to make a long myth short, the mages essentially ate the existence of the vampires, developing their agelessness, their need for sustenance from the living, and diablerie - the ability to devour the souls of others of one's own kin. Since mages are biologically human and because that was the only way the new Tremere could satiate their hunger, the souls of mortals have gone down their gullets ever sense. [And trust me, losing your soul is even less fun than it sounds.] It was this last ability that interested Wildcat, because thankfully, Kindred do not eat souls to live; rather, they devour souls of other Kindred as a quick, monstrous way to increase their own powers.

This sounded like a wonderful idea to the power-hungry mage. As evinced by the fact she is one of the unquiet dead now, though, this did not go as she planned. [Also, other Lifeless probably feel better about themselves after considering her; "Hey, my method of immortality ain't that horrible! I may need destroy a village and sicken its inhabitants with mutant buboes of the black plague that explode into Sumerian demons every seven years or so, but at least I have a body while doing it!"]

Today, Wildcat is what my patron calls one of the Lucid Dead, a ghost who retains her entire soul. {This sounds counterintuitive, but in truth the spirit and soul are two different things. You can live without your soul, and a ghost is a spirit without a body, but you lack a coherent sense of identity and may eventually lose the capacity free will if you're still alive. It's a little more complex than that, but to go into it further would turn half this entry into Iremite occultism. Honestly you need my mistress for that. - Kaden, Second of the Walker} This means that, in many ways, she is still one of the living; she can and does change with the times, and she is not bound to a cycle of behavior remembered from her life, picking up new languages and cultural contexts as needed and fully aware of the passing of time. Unfortunately, how she lost her body has also taken away her ability to attain Essence naturally; the only way she can regain her lost strength is to consume the living souls of sleeping or unconscious humans. [Kind of succubus- or mara-like, in that sense. Wonder if it has an oneriomantic component a changeling could influence.] She can "nibble" on it to allow her victims to regenerate and sustain the harvest, but she likes eating the Awakened whole, as she can convert Mana to Essence if she does so. [More bang for someone else's buck, as it were.]

Still, she's far from a random roving monster. Accidental as her state may be, she is still an ancient lich, which is to say, a sorceress who has had a literal millennium to perfect her art. While she hasn't be able to increase her facility with her Arcana {Influences, technically, she's a ghost with a connection to the Supernal, not a mage. But that is semantics - Cichol}, she has developed several spells that makes due with what she has, and she was a skilled warlock even before she lost her flesh. She is an expert at mind magic, especially emotion-manipulating spells that allow her to convince others to give her permission to nibble on their souls, making the process significantly easier and quicker (though she never makes clear what she's doing), knows enough Prime spells to be able to hide her presence or frame others to magical senses, and is no small talent in the fields of ghost manipulation, especially in regards to healing herself. When push comes to shove, she is also a ghost, albeit an unusually cognent one, and this makes her extremely adept at avoiding danger from the safety of Twilight, and should she materialize she is still intangible to most attacks. Sadly, I don't know her ban or bane (if she even has those, given how she is as much vampire as specter), but I do know she still has several anchors from her living days, fortified with Death magic to resist decay; I managed to break her connection to one, a contract signed in blood as an apprenticeship to one of the remaining truly vampiric Tremere. [No, we haven't found him yet, though we suspect he's an Acolyte if he's still around.] She is even more terrified of the Underworld than most of the dead, since she is not certain she can steal Essence from other unquiet and is certain there's no small amount of the residents of the dead realm who recognize and despise her.

As a side note, though, Wildcat has more agendas than keeping her Essence flow steady; she has never given up on getting her physical body back or something similar, and she is certain Reaper magic is the way back there. Worse, she has a service few others can provide; she is the foremost expert on the Tremere liches in Europe, and her centuries of experience have given her an encyclopedic knowledge on the nature of the soul. So she usually has enablers and clients, as well.

Next, I go from mages to their creations - Artifacts and otherwise. Ab Ia Mu is an example of the latter.

---

The skin of the janitor at Nita's current refuge hung loosely over the banister, hurriedly discarded.

It was a testament to how jaded the skinthief had become that the first words after she found her voice were "Alright, now I suspect you're on to something, Tim."
 

ZiggyZapf

Sorcerer of Autumn
Validated User
From: Dingbat@FontsByThePound
To: Group
Subject: Death and Immortality

It's one of the oldest themes in mythology, backed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and one I've seen reinforced with visits to the underworld: Everything dies. Goes back to the Epic of Gilgamesh and very likely beyond. Death is something we have to cope with, whether we like it or not. I don't know the ins and outs of Prospero's longevity, but I doubt it's perfect immortality (And I won't probe into hypothetical shortcomings). I've got a few cheats up my sleeve, but they have their limits. Got my own snarky psychopomp who checks in on me, just in case I get a little too tricksy.

One of the things they drill in your head when you join the Autumn court: Death isn't scary. Dying is. You need to be alive and aware that you eventually won't be. Despite having fairly concrete experience to verify the existence of souls, ghosts, and even visiting the underworld, I remain skeptical of a 'real' afterlife, largely due to the loss of self that seems to happen. Ghosts aren't exactly 'whole' most of the time, and more like a degraded echo of a person than the person they used to be. From what I understand of the Ocean of Fragments at the bottom of the (known) Underworld, there's a supposed Nirvana waiting at the darkest depths, but you have to lose everything that makes you who you are to get there. The existence of souls doesn't give much reason for me to believe, if they are as interchangeable as some of my research suggests. Don't know where they go, but I'm not sure the answer would even be relevant to the question of an afterlife, anymore. To me, souls just seem to be vague balls o' magic that a person is built around, and needs to be present for a certain level of social awareness and volition, but they are not the seat of consciousness.

I'm a real ray of sunshine, aren't I?

In any case, with Wildcat, here, it looks like we've got a case of 'template stacking,' to borrow a D&D term, which seems to be appropriately rare. I suppose a lot of juju out there just doesn't mix very readily. Though it is interesting there's at least one way to convert Mana to Essence. (Though I suppose that's probably one of the first things a mage with the Spirit Arcana learns.) I've looked into ways to convert different kinds of 'fuel' to broaden the types of magic items we can use here in BV. I think we might be having an increase in spirit activity, so it'd be handy if we could power some Uratha fetishes with Glamour or pay some Uratha consultants for assistance with converted Glamour. It'd also be nice to have more options for harvesting Glamour that are less troublesome to the community.

Back on the topic of template stacking, in the first of these projects I attended, Chrometooth mentioned that some werewolves consider Changelings to be a type of Spirit-Claimed. In my recent spirit research, there might be a grain of truth to that: We can be Ridden by spirits like humans, but we specifically can't be Claimed. Apparently being altered by the Wyrd to the extent we are takes away the 'flexibility' he had as humans. From what I know of the True Fae, they tend to be less interested in non-Changeling esohumans, possibly because they're similarly less mutable. Certainly an interesting thought to ponder for transhumanists. (Though if you're somehow reading this, take it from me, as cool as the perks of being a Changeling are, it's not worth the typical process and the constant hypervigilance that follows. I suspect the only reason I'm as sane as I am now is because I had a friendly Chirurgeon to surgically remove some abstractions most Changelings have to rip out to escape. Try asking the other esohumans.)

--Ziggy Zapf
 

The Watcher

Cosmic Observer
Validated User
From: Jacob@TheIsland.net
To: Group
Subject: Re: Death and Immortality

on_the_subject_of_immortals.zip
First of all, it bares mentioning that Awakened society does not look highly on seekers of immortality. Longevity, yes, but to the average mage, the search to truly overcome death is a tragic one - or horrific. The term "lich" actually has its origins in Atlantean terminology, a wizard who willingly mutilates his or her own humanity for a chance at life eternal. [See, D&D does have basis in reality.]
To expand on the above, Awakened society does not look highly on mages who seek immortality. It apparently has less unanimity of opinion on sleepers who seek or actually manage to achieve that state. Or at least that's my personal experience. I've never had any mages I've interacted with hold my status against me. At the very worst, I was considered a curiosity rather than an abomination, examined and assessed with Sight and spells after obtaining my consent. Granted, that could very well be due to self selection, with any mage who did harbor such sentiments taking themselves out of the pool of potential acquaintances before encountered.

As I am sure my current patron and Prospero's are aware, on a mystical level to succumb to age is a fundamental aspect of life. To alter the nature of aging, let alone give oneself eternal youth, one must alter the nature of their own life; invariably, this results in grave limitations on what they can or cannot do, or to become a fundamentally parasitic being, stealing life in some way from others. (Given what power I have now, that is likely the difference between what is Deathless and what is Lifeless; to be Deathless, say, is to become part of a cycle of hibernation and amnesia, but one does not rely completely on others to supply the heartbeat of Sekhem. To be Lifeless is to eat souls at the cost of losing all sense of self other wise.) Tremere are simply the most infamous variety, also being Reapers, mages who practice the forbidden art of soul manipulation. [That consumes souls, mind; shape your own to your heart's content!]
This is true to some extent, though some forms of immortality are more limiting than others. My own, for example, mostly involved changes at a metaphysical level. Certain mystical practices, such as summoning and warding, became easier and more potent for me, while others from my mortal days, such as alchemy, were lost entirely. I still know the necessary lore, and can even teach it to mortal pupils but I can no longer achieve results while practicing it myself. Psychologically I was unaltered, or to be more accurate my mentality was not changed by mystical processes imposed by my transformation. Any evolution of personality I might have undergone is due solely to natural reactions to a new state of personal circumstances. Of course, I only have my personal perspective to go on, so your mileage may vary as far the accuracy of my self assessment. I definitely can say I am not parasitic in the least. I am not required to steal life in any form in order to maintain myself physically or mentally. I do require Essence to fuel some of my esoteric abilities but that resource can be obtained from loci and other sources without preying on other beings.

Most other forms I am familiar with do impose some need or cost upon those that utilize them. Aside from the most famous examples of vampirism and Tremere soul consumption, blood bathing and body thievery are among the most prevalent forms of predatory life extension. Other, more ethical means of immortality or life extension commonly in use impose various limitations of territory, vulnerability or service. Then of course there's Archmagery, the one socially acceptable means of attaining immortality in Awakened society, though of course not the main goal for those who pursue it. As far as I can tell the only costs for archmages are those imposed by themselves and their peers. As you may be able to tell, I do make it a point to know a little about the types of beings I'll be sharing eternity with.

Spoiler: Show
I believe this and earlier posts made it obvious enough what Prospero is but in case I have been unintentionally obscure with the hints I've dropped I'm going to explicitly reveal here that he's one of the Purified from Immortals. They're not common so most on the forum probably have no idea what he is but those with the right knowledge about Shadow and/or various types of immortality achievable by humans might figure it out.


Today, Wildcat is what my patron calls one of the Lucid Dead, a ghost who retains her entire soul. {This sounds counterintuitive, but in truth the spirit and soul are two different things. You can live without your soul, and a ghost is a spirit without a body, but you lack a coherent sense of identity and may eventually lose the capacity free will if you're still alive. It's a little more complex than that, but to go into it further would turn half this entry into Iremite occultism. Honestly you need my mistress for that. - Kaden, Second of the Walker} This means that, in many ways, she is still one of the living; she can and does change with the times, and she is not bound to a cycle of behavior remembered from her life, picking up new languages and cultural contexts as needed and fully aware of the passing of time. Unfortunately, how she lost her body has also taken away her ability to attain Essence naturally; the only way she can regain her lost strength is to consume the living souls of sleeping or unconscious humans. [Kind of succubus- or mara-like, in that sense. Wonder if it has an oneriomantic component a changeling could influence.] She can "nibble" on it to allow her victims to regenerate and sustain the harvest, but she likes eating the Awakened whole, as she can convert Mana to Essence if she does so. [More bang for someone else's buck, as it were.]
This ability to nibble is not something I believe more conventional Tremere are capable of. From what I understand they have no choice but to consume souls whole to sustain themselves. Perhaps her ephemeral state makes her capable of a finesse in consumption her more corporeal brethren lack. Or perhaps it is a refinement of her version of the Tremere Legacy.

As a side note, though, Wildcat has more agendas than keeping her Essence flow steady; she has never given up on getting her physical body back or something similar, and she is certain Reaper magic is the way back there. Worse, she has a service few others can provide; she is the foremost expert on the Tremere liches in Europe, and her centuries of experience have given her an encyclopedic knowledge on the nature of the soul. So she usually has enablers and clients, as well.
I imagine she's probably gained the enmity of at least some members of the Tremere for the above. I doubt they would welcome someone sharing knowledge of whatever secrets and vulnerabilities they possess. Of course, some would also covet her knowledge on the soul and maybe willing to forgo hostilities in exchange for choice bits of lore.

From: Dingbat@FontsByThePound
To: Group
Subject: Death and Immortality

It's one of the oldest themes in mythology, backed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and one I've seen reinforced with visits to the underworld: Everything dies. Goes back to the Epic of Gilgamesh and very likely beyond. Death is something we have to cope with, whether we like it or not. I don't know the ins and outs of Prospero's longevity, but I doubt it's perfect immortality (And I won't probe into hypothetical shortcomings). I've got a few cheats up my sleeve, but they have their limits. Got my own snarky psychopomp who checks in on me, just in case I get a little too tricksy.
Thank you for the courtesy. While I won't share details, I will confirm that my form immortality, and most others, are not perfect. It may be more difficult, but there are ways to slay immortals. Some are harder than others to get rid of but there's always a potential means.

One of the things they drill in your head when you join the Autumn court: Death isn't scary. Dying is. You need to be alive and aware that you eventually won't be. Despite having fairly concrete experience to verify the existence of souls, ghosts, and even visiting the underworld, I remain skeptical of a 'real' afterlife, largely due to the loss of self that seems to happen. Ghosts aren't exactly 'whole' most of the time, and more like a degraded echo of a person than the person they used to be.
In my experience that mostly holds true for ghosts in the corporeal world. Ghosts in the Underworld seem to retain, and in some cases regain, more of their identity and initiative than those found above. Something about the place enables ghosts to recover and preserve more of themselves, though even there one can find ghosts whose psyche has eroded by the passage of time.

From what I understand of the Ocean of Fragments at the bottom of the (known) Underworld, there's a supposed Nirvana waiting at the darkest depths, but you have to lose everything that makes you who you are to get there.
Speaking of the Ocean of Fragments, from my own research and visits to the Underworld I have learned that immersion can potentially enable one to rid one's self of undesired traits (or potentially incorporate desired traits if you can find them). Even traits as fundamental as being a soul eater. Not that she'd likely be willing to under go it and lose the power it gives her, but there is a potential cure for her condition (as well as those of other Tremere).

The existence of souls doesn't give much reason for me to believe, if they are as interchangeable as some of my research suggests. Don't know where they go, but I'm not sure the answer would even be relevant to the question of an afterlife, anymore. To me, souls just seem to be vague balls o' magic that a person is built around, and needs to be present for a certain level of social awareness and volition, but they are not the seat of consciousness.

I'm a real ray of sunshine, aren't I?
To maybe brighten your outlook, or at least give you another bit of data to contemplate, reincarnation is real at least for some individuals. There is a type of immortal called the Reborn. The name is self explanatory. They are born, live and die like everyone else, except they do so continuously, retaining their skills and memories from incarnation to incarnation. I've personally have encountered two in my lifetime and know other immortals who have encountered others. Whether reincarnation is a cycle only they under go or something universal that only they manage to weather with memory intact I can't say. But that it is a phenomena that exists for multiple individuals is a confirmed fact.

In any case, with Wildcat, here, it looks like we've got a case of 'template stacking,' to borrow a D&D term, which seems to be appropriately rare. I suppose a lot of juju out there just doesn't mix very readily. Though it is interesting there's at least one way to convert Mana to Essence. (Though I suppose that's probably one of the first things a mage with the Spirit Arcana learns.) I've looked into ways to convert different kinds of 'fuel' to broaden the types of magic items we can use here in BV. I think we might be having an increase in spirit activity, so it'd be handy if we could power some Uratha fetishes with Glamour or pay some Uratha consultants for assistance with converted Glamour. It'd also be nice to have more options for harvesting Glamour that are less troublesome to the community.
From what I know of Essence there should be potential means of conversion. From what I understand Glamour is created by intense emotional experiences and those types of events can also create Essence, and even spirits. So there must be some theoretical commonality based on the fact that they can share the same origin (though Essence at least can be generated by other means).

--Prospero
 
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Patkin

ougikawa
Validated User
The ghost mage actually touches upon my own area of study, which I believe I mentioned before. In a couple of interesting ways at that. It's not... uncommon for mages, already a group of people defined by will and refusal to accept the natural progression, to carry on after the death of their corporeal shell. In fact, I'd say the only reason it doesn't border on 100% of the time is our own cultural beliefs about the nature of ghosts being a broken cast-off of the proper soul. In the case of the various soul-eaters and pursuers of immortality, even a cast-off might seem a success when you're looking to defeat death.

From what I've been able to look into regarding the vampires the Tremere claim... would relation be the best phrase (?), they seem almost a ghost-presence themselves. I've seen some connections to the vampires of ancient Rome, a clan officially erased and known as traitors or the sixth. But it's largely as if they only existed in order for mages to subvert them and then, their role finished, disappear. In a way, this means Catarine's true value is as a link to this master of hers.

Gemini.
 
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