Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Sheltered Tremere fledgling
“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.”
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
“Whatever you did before your Requiem, whatever you felt before your Requiem, you were a lesser version of yourself. This is the real you, Kyrstin.”
At first glance she looks meek, quiet, reserved even. It’s only upon closer examination that it becomes clear what a lie that is. She isn’t meek, no, that silent stillness is stoicism, an acceptance of the world on the terms it offers her and a greeting of it on the best terms she can arrange. As small and slight as she is, she looms like a mountain in the face of the world: accepting, yet unyielding. She might suffer, but like the mountain, she will endure. But go ahead, underestimate her, misread her.
There’s a precise perfection to her appearance. Neatly trimmed hair, long unbroken nails, plucked eyebrows, smooth shaved skin—care was taken prior to her Embrace, care that speaks to her sire’s attention to detail and calculated intentions. Details invisible to the kine, invisible to the trash at the edge of society, but all too clear to those in the halls of power. It speaks to legacy and affection. The same care exists in her appearance each night, manicured and painted nails, carefully styled hair, a carefully styled and conservative wardrobe. Even to the kine and the Caitiff those selections are obvious, and very intentionally so. None will mistake her as less than she is.
That careful attention pays off in her appearance—turning liabilities into assets. It hides her short stature behind gravitas. Her slightness behind slimness. Leverages elegance against any plainness she once had. The finished package is at least alluring, and perhaps more. An intriguing package wrapped in satin and silks that all but begs to be unwrapped. A dangerous package one might mistake for a wrapped doll: a mistake only made once.
The only obvious flaw in her perfect facade is in her scarred palms and fingers, crisscrossed with sharp lines that once bit deep into her flesh. A legacy of violence in her mortal existence. Gloves , especially fingerless ones, are not an uncommon accessory to her wardrobe.
She doesn’t look like her sire. A study in contrasts there. Tall and short, stout and petite, male and female (for what worth such distinctions have amid their kind). They couldn’t look more different, right up until the eyes. It’s the eyes that give it away. Pitch black vice icy blue, and yet oh so similar. The eyes of a born killer, that study the world around her to carefully calculate and measure. Eyes that betray the killer instinct within. The willingness to do, if not yet familiarity with, violence. With success and victory at any cost. Eyes as dead as they are.
Kyrstin’s garb varies greatly depending on her environment. Within the Pyramid—and under Jonathan’s supervision—she tends towards the exceedingly practical, often simple unadorned black shirts and pants, or similarly utilitarian and form fitting clothing without adornment at the insistence of her sire who claims it reminds her of her position at present—that of an unreleased apprentice without privilege. She is to be an ‘empty vessel’ awaiting filling by her master.
In public, and when presented to others (even in private) she dresses quite differently—or rather is dressed quite differently (as she is not permitted choose her own garb). The clothing tends towards formality, eschewing comfort. Colors vary from subdued blacks and whites to deep blues and reds. It’s almost always conservative, showing little and often covering her arms down to the wrist (and commonly including gloves), but quite fashionable. Skirts and pants are typically the order of the day, with gowns far less frequent. Fur fringes around her collar and wrists are also common.
Name: Kyrstin Grey
Birth: July 19th, 1992
Apparent Age: 21
Real Age: 23
Weight: 110 lbs
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Hair Color: Black
Born on July 19th, 1992 to an immigrant Japanese father and a third generation Japanese-American mother, Kyrstin Nakamura was raised in Portland and immersed in the deeply traditional values of her father. The oldest of three children (all girls), she excelled academically and graduated high school as the salutatorian of her graduating class. She pursued an array of extracurricular activities along the way at her father’s insistence, including piano, tennis, and chess, all with the drive so typical of an oldest child.
With full ride scholarship options to a number of schools available, she chose the University of Washington to pursue her undergraduate degree. It was a good school and let her remain close to her family. Less than two hundred miles away, she presumed that she would regularly commute home. Such was not the case. In Seattle, Kyrstin found a degree of freedom from the choking oppression of her home life at school, and throughout her freshman year found herself growing further apart from her family even as she developed a broader social life on campus. For her mother this growing independence was a natural move for her daughter. For her father it was the acting out that he had come to expect from overly ‘Americanized’ children. The subject became a topic of significant tension between her parents, driving a wedge between them over their ‘wayward’ daughter. The conflict got worse over the summer of her freshman year when she returned home for a month of nearly unbearable scrutiny before departing on a ‘road trip’ with several school friends—in truth more than anything a way to get away from her father and the growing bickering between her parents.
Perhaps the friction was inevitable, and perhaps it would have eventually led to outright conflict even under normal conditions. Such was not the case. Late in the first semester of her sophomore year Kryrstin attended an off-campus fraternity party where she was set upon by an aggressive UW football player. He lured into the basement of the house and attempted to rape her. When she resisted, he became violent, first slapping, then striking, then throwing her around the basement lounge as she scratched at his face, struck him with available objects, and kicked him in the groin as she tried to escape and fight back. Ultimately, after throwing her through a glass table, as he moved in on her dazed form, she snatched a piece of broken glass and stabbed him in the throat. Emerging from the basement to the still ongoing party dazed, beaten, her clothing in shreds, covered in blood, and her hands sliced to ribbons by the broken glass she was first taken for medical treatment, then (while in the hospital) police questioning when the body of her attacker was found.
What might have followed had the incident not caught the eye of Jonathan North was a limited investigation that ultimately absolved her of wrongdoing. The Tremere surgeon however was at the hospital on unrelated business when Kyrstin was admitted, and her tale, resiliency in the face of her own wounds, and relentlessness in overcoming her attacker stirred his interest. Thoroughly disgusted by his existing childe, whom the former archon viewed as both indulgent and misguided, Jonathan resolved to see if Ms. Nakamura was what she appeared to be to him: a prospect.
The former archon subtly tampered with the direction of the investigation, pointing police in a more hostile direction. Medical records from her admission and photos of her own wounds inexplicably went missing. Details of her past sexual activities at the University of Washington became public knowledge. The story (already gaining traction locally) started to spin beyond rape on campus to questions of the victim’s own background. Even as Kyrstin’s friends on campus tried to close ranks around her to protect her, the school’s administration and local authorities began to squeeze the group. Friends were pulled out of classes for questioning by campus and local authorities. Administrators and faculty increasingly put pressure on students to distance themselves from her. Once he set the ball spinning, Jonathan needed to little to watch it tumble down on Kyrstin.
The replacement for the slain player on the football team performed poorly, and articles appeared in the school paper on how keenly his ‘loss’ was felt by the team when his stand in at linebacker preformed particularly poorly in the following games. The athletics department closed ranks against Krystin and any supporters, and behind the massive funding the growing football program brought in it was all to easy to throw one shy and unremarkable student under the bus. Her less devoted friends fell away under the weight brought to bear on them. Those that remained her defenders found themselves buried under the pressure and scorn of associating with her, becoming pariahs themselves, much to Kyrstin’s distress. Amidst this college turmoil, Kyrstin received word that her parents were splitting up after 25 years of marriage: someone had delivered the more vulgar reports of her sexual activities to the family doorstep, alongside some poorly-considered drunken photos of Kyrstin in a UW Huskies sweater (and little else) from her freshman year. The fight that erupted in the already tense household blew out of proportion. Her father belatedly communicated that he had disowned Kyrstin and wanted nothing further to do with her.
Still, rather than collapse under the pressure, she fought back, educating herself about her rights and refusing to skip class, hide in her dorm, or drop out. When parties ‘unknown’ tagged her dorm room door with slurs she painted over them. When the school communicated that any drop in her GPA would result in a revocation of her scholarship, she doubled down on her coursework. When she was forced to miss class she begged, borrowed, and stole notes to keep up with the coursework. When her friends increasingly suffered under the attacks of the student body and others for their association she very precisely began cutting them off: better to contain the damage. She refused to change her story, refused to admit to any wrongdoing. For Jonathan North she was, in a word, flawless in her response, a mountain caught in a hurricane that refused to be moved.
The Tremere had been watching her throughout, often from a far closer position than she’d realized. First interjecting himself as her attending doctor at the hospital, he’d treated her lacerated hands, carefully applying stitches and checking for any further damages, not trusting some fresh out of med school attending doctor with what appeared to be a prize. Later, throughout her ordeal, he’d observed her ‘school mandated’ therapy sessions, listening in on her as she begrudgingly offered up her own thoughts on her attacker, and the response she’d received.
It was towards the end of the semester, months after her attack, that Jonathan finally revealed his hand. Kyrstin was angry—always angry—at the school, at the police, at her family, angry at the entire circumstance that had torn her life apart. She stubbornly clung to it, refusing to surrender, refusing to be broken, but was an all-too perfect candidate for what Jonathan offered her. One moment she was walking back to her dorm room from the library, the next she was seated in a comfortably appointed room looking at a faintly familiar face. He spoke as though he could read her thoughts. He was calm, patient, precise. He extended an offer, of fellowship, of purpose, of freedom from the pressures now upon her. An offer that defied all belief and rationality, that all but proved his insanity. An offer she couldn’t refuse.
It took hours. She was seen to by all manner of beauticians as he quietly waited. They carefully trimmed her nails, cut her hair, plucked any unwanted strays. The presentation, he insisted, must be flawless. When they were finished she looked fit for her high school prom: better even. Dressed to kill and ready to die. His touch was surprisingly gentle when he did it. At first better than sex, then ebbing, slowly, as her heart rate slowed, as her eyelids grew heavy, her vision out of focus. For a moment she felt fear, then nothing. When she awoke she was one of the dead, and he was there, her sire, to greet her.
Beyond her instruction in thaumaturgy, beyond the basic of medical knowledge imparted on her, beyond lessons in the intricacies of Kindred politics and etiquette, Jonathan also endeavored to impress upon her the night to night realities of her Requiem. That mortal ties were important in whatever form they might take, but that she must not allow them to control her. That dispassion, rational, and selfish thinking had a place, but must be tempered by a degree of conscience. That she must continue to cultivate her own interests beyond clan and thaumaturgy: in particular he emphasized that the high-level maths she had studied in life were an excellent escape from the All-Night Society and the constant intrigues that would consume her if she allowed them to.
It should come as no surprise, given that it was primarily her personality that led to her Embrace, that Jonathan has gone to great lengths to ensure Kyrstin remains as he desired her leading up to her Embrace. She is reserved, but not shy. Formal but not stiff. She prefers to let others speak first, and offers her on opinion only when she feels particularly strongly or when it is invited. Particular attention has been paid towards cultivating her manners among other Kindred, with particular emphasis placed on not giving needless offense. In many ways it is an upbringing to match that of many Ventrue.
She is inquisitive without being vocal in it, preferring to listen when others speak and draw her own conclusions. On more than one occasion she has been chastised by her sire for ease-dropping—though the gentleness of such chastisements has reinforced for her that her fault lay more with getting caught than with action itself. The same trait lends itself towards being a good listener and offering only insightful commentary, rather than needless babble.
Some have read into these traits as meekness or submissiveness: they are wrong to do so. Jonathan North will never again tolerate a weak-willed or limp-wristed childe. Her patience and politeness is a cover for a Kindred that is firmly calculating in her approach and very capable of shockingly brutal violence. Her comparatively long time as a fledgling, and relative isolation from the world of the kine during that time has intentionally created a distance between her and mortals that most Kindred take decades to develop, a lack of attachment that lends itself towards rational choices.
Having given up her old life, faked her death, and abandoned both her family and her name, Kyrstin has bought into her new existence among the Tremere fully, and her experiences with her controlling and protective sire have taken the edge off of her early Requiem in very precise ways. He’s guided her through hunting, feeding, and killing. He’s precisely coached her in the particular etiquette of a neonate and done everything in his power to ensure not only her survival but her prosperity. Early in her Requiem, when the novelty of it was fresh, she was grateful for such guidance.
As her fledgling months stretched into a year she grew more impatient, the rebellious side of her that reared its head at the University of Washington rising to the challenge. Now, a year later still and perhaps on the verge of her release she has a greater appreciation of all that he has done, all that she has learned, and the opportunity set before her. It has created in her a desire not only to succeed, but not to fail him or cause the sire that has given her everything disappointment.
• She’s Jonathan North’s lover
• She’s Jonathan North’s childe
• She’s actually an elder here in secret with Jonathan North as her bodyguard
• She’s a former member of the Sabbat he captured and blood bound
• She’s not a Tremere at all, just some stray he adopted
• Jonathan North is incredibly protective of her and once dismembered another Kindred for touching her
• 3. Tremere (b. ?, e. 1022)
• 4. Etrius (b. ?, e. 1022)
Lotharius (b. ?, e. 1030, d. 1529)
• 6. Karl Schrekt (b. 1193, e. 1235)
• 7. Nathan Mendelssohn (b. 1576, e. 1634)
• 8. Jonathan North (b. 1832, e. 1864)
• 9. Heinrick Roehr (b. 1901, e. 1942)
Larry Newton (b. 1952, e. 1979, d. 1980)
• 9. Kyrstin Grey (b. 1992, e. 2013)
• 7. Maxwell Ldescu (b. 1378, g. 1403, e. 1882)
• 8. Karl Maria Wiligut (b. 1866, e. 1939)
Generation among Tremere is a notoriously murky matter given the clan’s unusual origins and past history of diablerie. These are approximate and assumed numbers in relation to other clans.
Over the course of her (thus far brief) Requiem Kyrstin has heard limited tales of her lineage from her sire, both directly through discussion and instruction, and indirectly through attention to detail and occasional eavesdropping.
Kystrin’s sire is Jonathan North, a retired archon for his clan Embraced during or near to the American Civil War.
Jonathan is childe to Nathan Mendelssohn, an elder residing in Vienna. Mendelssohn was a Jewish alchemist in his mortal life and in the Modern Nights he is responsible for managing Vienna’s internal security and (unknown to most) heading the Astors, Clan Tremere’s “secret police.” His duties grew notably more onerous in 2011 when Ulugh Begh, his sire’s archrival, was re-appointed to the Justicarate and chose to establish his base of operations in Vienna. Mendelssohn is considered a member of the clan’s Traditionalist faction, which together with his high position in Vienna, cause a number of ominous rumors to surround him. He is said to belong to several secret societies that, depending on the sources, either govern the fate of all Tremere or even all of Kindred from behind the scenes. Only one thing is certain: Mendelssohn hunts renegades who deviate from Vienna’s orders mercilessly and unyieldingly.
Mendelssohn is presumed to be a childe of Karl Schrekt, one of the longest-serving and currently retired justicars for his clan. Rumors and tall tales about Karl Schrekt’s person and achievements have become too numerous to count over the years. In Schrekt’s eyes, the foundation of the Camarilla was the most crucial point of time in Kindred history. The sect’s rules and Traditions are worthy of being protected with one’s own unlife. Schrekt remembers all too well the fires of the Inquisition, and his most fervent goal is to ensure that mortals keep believing the lies they are fed about the existence of the Kindred. Reportedly, he was a witch-hunter who stalked vampires and demons in his mortal days, hence his particular zealotry where the Masquerade is concerned. He is said to have somehow diablerized a Lupine in his undead youth, which could explain his untiring endurance and almost bestial strength of will. The most severe rumors claim that he once met Caine face to face. Schrekt’s air regarding such stories can best be described as nonchalant—he either enjoys the mystery surrounding him or, more likely, cannot be bothered to explain them or deny them. Little is known of his activities since stepping down from the Justicarate.
Schrekt was childe to Lotharius. The prince of Vienna during the Middle Ages, Lotharius was a former magus and one of the first Tremere Embraced into the clan outside of the founder and his original seven followers. Lotharius was no less storied an individual than his childe, and was variously said to have been an oracle as a mortal magus; to be the founder of assorted secret societies that wormed their way into the courts of Europe; to have personally diablerized more than a dozen Salubri; to drink the blood of only mortal magi; to be in league with the dreaded Niktuku; to be an infernalist who served demonic masters; and countless other lurid rumors. He served on the Council of Seven during the High Middle Ages and oversaw Tremere interests throughout the Holy Roman Empire. He and Etrius established a working relationship with Valerianus, the ancient Ventrue prince of Vienna, that would do much to legitimize the still-nascent Tremere clan in the eyes of larger Cainite society. After Valerianus was destroyed by the Tzimisce for the aid he rendered the usurpers, Lotharius assumed his throne and became the first Tremere prince of a significant city, for which he earned the sobriquet ‘the magus prince’. His rule was a stable one and laid much of the groundwork that would enable Etrius to move the clan’s center of power from Ceoris to Vienna during the Anarch Revolt. Lotharius’ last great achievement was his participation in the clan-wide ritual curse the Council of Seven leveled upon the Assamites as part of the Treaty of Tyre. The Assamites accepted its terms bitterly. When the Ottoman Turks poured into Europe and besieged Vienna, Assamite masters were right behind them, hoping to use the city’s conquest to force the Inner Council to rescind their curse. Lotharius is believed to have met final death during Vienna’s 1529 siege at the hands of Thetmes, who subsequently became caliph of his clan’s warrior caste. Lotharius’ destruction remains an unavenged point of honor for his sire and descendants to this night.
Lotharius was childe to Etrius. First among equals on the Inner Council of Seven, Etrius was one of the original eight magi who transformed themselves into vampires on that fateful night in 1022. He is said to be the right hand and most faithful servant of the clan’s night-mythical founder. Rumors claim Etrius dealt directly with Tremere in the house’s (not clan’s) earliest affairs, in the days when they were still mortal, and even that he (somehow) still continues to confer with the founder on matters of importance. His roles in converting House Tremere’s Hermetic spells into Kindred thaumaturgy, converting the house’s magi into vampires, instituting the Pyramid, exterminating the Salubri, establishing the warlocks as a recognized clan in broader Cainite society, and his other achievements in building House and Clan Tremere up from nothing are too many to even list. In the Modern Nights, he oversees Tremere interests across eastern Europe and makes his haven in Vienna’s Prime Chantry. Many of the methuselah’s interests lie beyond Vienna and nightly management of the city falls to his childe Astrid Thomas and great-grandchilde Nathan Mendelssohn. His work as a founding member of the Camarilla is considered his greatest historical feat among larger Cainite society, and he was one of the authors to draft the Six Traditions that would become law throughout the Ivory Tower’s domains. The Code of Tremere sworn by all all initiates into the clan is also his work. Goratrix, the renegade warlock who leads the clan’s antitribu among the Sabbat, is considered Etrius’ greatest adversary.
Etrius is childe to Tremere.
Heinrick Roehr is a German occultist currently residing in Rio de Janeiro. Kyrstin has not met, and has heard only rare tales of, her elder brother-in-blood.
Kyrstin has only once heard discussion of another childe of her sire, Larry Newton, in brief heated tones between her sire and another Tremere in Seattle.