Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Iron-fisted prince of New Orleans
“The reputation of power is power.”
“Perhaps it is because I’ve spent so many of my nights in cities on the verge of chaos or collapse, but I can name few princes of such enduring strength and capability as Augusto Vidal. More than two hundred uninterrupted years of rule in one of the most challenging cities in the New World, amid a court beset by elders in rare numbers and of impressive age for the New World, is a number all but unmatched. Were I to hold up an example to others of a prince, I can think of no stronger candidate. His reign, one blemished only by a disaster of such a magnitude as to lay waste to Kindred and kine alike, is a testament to his will, wits, and skill. Indeed, were one religious, one might ask if Hurricane Katrina were not almost a challenge from God against the long-reigning prince. Not that I am. And not that I’m impartial in the matter…”
“There may be those in New Orleans who think themselves pretenders to the throne. Prince Vidal is no actor, no pretender, no phantom soon dismissed. All know the score, and it is clear. Vigila semper, semper paratus, semper fidelis, et nune et semper.”
Vidal is tall for a Spaniard, with crisp, Mediterranean features and broad shoulders. His slick, black hair always appears wet, and he still wears the neatly trimmed Van Dyke he kept as a mortal. Unfortunately, the maintenance of this perfect facial hair takes up a considerable portion of the first hour of every night when Vidal rises, due to the fact that he was Embraced scraggly, without being given the chance to first tidy his appearance. Vidal dresses to impress in dark, hand-tailored suits of the finest cut, but he never forgets the lesson of function before form. He speaks with the sharp, authoritative staccato that characterizes his countrymen, and even after so many decades in the New World, has never shed his thick accent… or even cared to.
Augusto Vidal is almost certainly not the name he was born with, but it was all so long ago. Some say he was a petty Castilian noble, an infanzone who married into greatness. Some say he was the fifth son of an already great line whose only hope for glory was to earn it in battle. Some say he was the nephew of Alfonso VII and a knight within the Orden de Santiago. Whoever he was, his steel ran red and slick with Moorish blood.
Why did he do it? Why did he hate the Moslems? He seethed when they conquered his family’s lands after the Disaster of Alarcos. Or he watched as they raped and butchered his wife and children before his eyes. Perhaps he simply sat and listened at his father’s knee when the man told him to hate them. He no longer speaks of the reason. Maybe he no longer remembers. It was all so long ago.
He fought in a crusade called by a terrified pontiff. The battle was glorious. It slit the throat of the Almohads. The Reconquista would carve Cordova, Jaén, and Seville from the caliphate’s rotting carcass within twoscore years. Nearly all of Iberia would be Christian again before the thirteenth century was out.
The victory was not without cost. A stray arrow pierced his leg. A felled horse crushed his flank. Or a Moor’s scimitar split his gut. It was all so long ago. He lay in the dust gasping for water when the victorious army quit the field, his throat as dry as the rust-red mountains beneath Andalusia’s setting sun. Content to have given his life in Christ’s service, the dying crusader made peace with God and waited for death.
Death found him first.
She silently strode through the field of corpses, a grim harbinger before whom even the crows and buzzards took flight. It was no coincidence that she found him where he lay. Battlefields were good feeding for her kind. She sped those waiting for death on their way, glutting herself on lifeblood that would have otherwise watered Andalusia’s parched soil. She saw something in him. A noble spirit. A valiant heart. A skilled swordarm. Or perhaps she was simply no longer hungry. Whatever the reason, the fallen warrior was spared one death. He received another.
Thus was the future prince of New Orleans brought into the Clan of Kings by Urcalida, childe of Tiamat, childe of Ventrue. Urcalida, Celtic warrior-queen of a city forgotten by time. Urcalida, goddess to Iberia’s Phoenicians under the name Astarte. Urcalida, veteran of the Punic Wars. Urcalida, methuselah-queen of Madrid.
Among the Camarilla, the name of Augusto Vidal has come to be synonymous with two things: the city of New Orleans and the determination of Ventrue superiority. Few cities in the New World can claim so many trials and tribulations as can New Orleans, and yet through it all, Vidal has endured. He is the first and only prince the region has ever recognized, and as a result, he has come to be seen as something of an icon among clan members across the United States and beyond.
Vidal’s history and that of New Orleans are one and the same after 1769 and need not be repeated here. Since Hurricane Katrina, however, their once inextricable paths have seemingly diverged. Vidal has always been a distant prince, and it is well-known among his clanmates that much of his time is occupied by his considerable duties as strategos for Clan Ventrue’s interests across the Southeastern United States. Vidal has grown even more remote in recent years and now makes public appearances only rarely, delegating much of his duties to Donovan and Philip Maldonato.
More to come…
Ventrue (e. prehistory, d. unknown)
Tiamat (e. millennia ago, d. 3rd century?)
• Unknown sire(s) (e. unknown)
• Augusto Vidal (e. centuries ago)
Emmanuel Costa (e. 18th century, d. 1815)
• Sire(s) unknown. Vidal has little cause to recite his lineage among Kindred who are his inferiors. It is relatively common knowledge among the city’s Ventrue that he claims descent from the methuselah Tiamat.
• Childe of
Tiamat (e. millennia ago, d. 3rd century?) The monstrous Tiamat is considered one of the most terrifying examples of Ventrue’s blood to have ever been Embraced. She is said to have butchered whole Sumerian cities, drunk the souls of her childer, consorted with Strix, unleashed plagues of demons, and to have slaughtered so many kine that she became worshiped by the Babylonians as a deific embodiment of darkness, death, and primordial chaos: Tiamat. Modern scholars agree that stories of her exploits are likely exaggerated, particularly those concerning her role in shaping mortal history. However, there is little doubt she was one of the most dreadful Cainites active during a savage era when the Masquerade was still a formative concept.
Tiamat notably resented Mesopotamia’s transition away from warring city-states into unified empires, and bitterly fought against every mortal nation-builder from Sargon of Akkad to Cyrus the Great. Her efforts came to naught and she was eventually lured away from the Seleucid Empire by the promise of greater bloodshed in the Punic Wars. She became enamored by Roman military power as a means to wreak further carnage, and (allegedly) whispered in Crassus’ ear that great riches and glory could be won by conquering Parthia. She spent the next four centuries traveling between Rome and Persia, fighting on the sides of both empires and reveling in the bloodshed. She finally disappeared during the Sack of Ctesiphon in 283 and was hoped destroyed by her contemporaries.
• Childe of
Ventrue (e. prehistory, d. ?) Clan Ventrue holds that their founder perished long ago, making them the only clan completely free of an Antediluvian’s manipulations.
Emmanuel Costa (e. late 18th century, d. 1815) Emmanuel Costa was a gifted architect and civil engineer partly responsible for rebuilding New Orleans after the Great Fire of 1788. Though Vidal initially had high hopes for his childe, Costa’s involvement in Du Valle’s rebellion and assassination plot prompted a mortally embarrassed Vidal to personally behead him in an open court. The prince subsequently swore never to Embrace again.
• Others? (e. unknown) Many Kindred have speculated whether Vidal sired other progeny before Emmanuel Costa. After all, he was some five centuries old when he first came to New Orleans. The prince, however, has never publicly spoken of any other childer—and none have have been foolish enough to ask.