Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
Seneschal of the city & Vidal's right hand
“To be is to do.”
Philip Maldonato is a slender and exceedingly tall individual who stands around a head over most men. His skin is dusky and smooth, with only the merest hint of the wrinkles of age around his deep-set almond eyes, which sparkle faintly whenever he thinks hard on something.
When seen in public or by the prince’s side, he favors hand-tailored business suits in muted tones (gray and navy, mostly) and double-breasted cuts, usually with a handkerchief in the front pocket. A silver pocketwatch on an attached chain and cufflinks of the same material offer several further concessions to the past. A gold signet ring set with a sapphire and traced with Arabic script rests upon one of his long, slender fingers. In private, Maldonato is a child of tradition who collects fine furniture that is now considered “antique” and prefers the loose fit of the traditional galabiyya, almaizar, and fez. In such surroundings, he enjoys walking barefoot so that he may feel the ground beneath his feet.
Aliases: Philip Maldonato (probable)
Nationality: Granadan. Maldonato was born and Embraced in the Emirate of Granada, which is now part of present-day Spain. He does not consider himself Spanish.
Date of Birth: Circa 14th century (Granada)
Date of Embrace: Circa 14th century (Granada)
Apparent Age: Early 40s
Real Age: Uncertain; popular estimates range from approx. 500-600
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Black
Education: Maldonato has earned postgraduate degrees in an enormous variety of fields over the centuries, the majority of these from local New Orleans universities.
Religion: Monachal Sanctified
Moor of the Moorish people,
on the day you were born,
there were great signs!"
“The sea was calm,
the moon was full;
a Moor born under such a sign,
should never tell a lie!”
Then the Moor answered,
you shall hear what he said:
“I will tell you the truth, my lord,
though it cost me my life,
for I am the son of a Moor
and of a Christian captive;
when I was a child and a boy
my mother used to tell me
that I should not tell a lie,
that it was great villainy:
so ask me, King,
and I will tell you the truth.”
“I thank you, Abenámar,
for this your courtesy.
What castles are those?
High they are and shining!”
“It was the Alhambra, my lord,
and the other the mosque;
the others, the Alixares,
wrought so marvelously.
“The Moor who wrought them
earned a hundred gold coins a day,
and the day he did not work on them
he lost as many coins.
“When he had finished his work,
the king took the man’s life,
lest he work others such
for the king of Andalusía.
“The other is Generalife,
garden without peer;
the other Bermejos Towers,
castle of great worth.”
Then spoke the King, Don Juan,
you shall hear well what he said:
“If you were willing, Granada,
I would marry you;
and I would give you for dowry
Córdoba and Seville.”
“I am married, King Don Juan,
I am married, and no widow;
the Moor to whom I belong
loves me very well.”
Little is known of Maldonato’s mortal life, although ‘Philip Maldonato’ is almost certainly not the name he used as a living man. New Orleans’ future seneschal was born in the Emirate of Granada during the late Middle Ages, then the sole Moorish kingdom not yet reclaimed by the Reconquista. Al-Andalus’ glory days under the Cordoban caliphs had long since passed and Granada was a vassal state to the Kingdom of Castile, paying yearly tribute to forestall the Christians’ armies. Nevertheless, Granada remained a culturally and economically prosperous kingdom described by Ibn Battuta, the Muslim Marco Polo, as the “metropolis of Andalusia and the bride of its cities.”
Maldonato was a scholar, polymath, and court official at the Alhambra palace during his mortal days. He had risen to high office among the ruling Nasrid dynasty, fathered children and grandchildren, and lived a full life by the time he received the Embrace. Maldonato has never publicly named the Cainite who made him immortal, but in his more loquacious moods, he has spoken of a wise, erudite, and compassionate sire who instilled a deeply abiding respect in his childe. Maldonato spent his early Requiem learning from his sire among Granada’s Ashirra, the still-extant sect of Islamic vampires that long predates the Camarilla. For a time, he was as content as any of the Damned could be.
The Anarch Revolt
Iberia was hit hard (perhaps hardest of all) by the twin firestorms of the Inquisition and Anarch Revolt. After the final death of his sire, Maldonato was forced to flee Granada. Anarchs hungry for the ancilla’s potent vitae tracked his flight and set up what amounted to a dragnet that would have snared its target before he could escape to his intended sanctuary in North Africa. Maldonato may well have ended his Requiem diablerized by Anarchs if one of the myrmidons, proto-archons in service to the Camarilla Founders, had not assisted his flight and saved his unlife. That myrmidon’s name was Augusto Vidal.
Bound by a life boon as well as simple gratitude, Maldonato pledged his sword to the nascent Camarilla. The two ancillae fought side by side against the Anarchs for many years; in time, Maldonato’s life boon would be well-repaid. What began as an alliance of convenience and obligation turned to unshakeable loyalty, and then finally something more. The two lovers were appointed archons (then called sheriffs) under then-Justicar Hardestadt when a formal “constabulary organization” and quasi-military force was created in the late 15th century to assist the first justicars in their duties.
The following centuries were a busy time to be archons. The Protestant Reformation, expansion of the Ottoman Empire, and rise of the modern nation-state gave impetus to innumerable European wars, every one of which had Kindred puppet-masters and profiteers maneuvering behind the scenes. The Anarchs who’d refused to bend knee at the Convention of Thorns coalesced into an increasingly monstrous new sect known as the Sabbat, now swollen with Lasombra and Tzimisce elders who saw no place for themselves in the new Camarilla. Though the Sabbat was largely pushed out of Europe’s cities, this victory was only achieved through great effort and sacrifice from Maldonato and his fellow archons.
The Moorish ancilla continued to keep abreast of affairs in his homeland. In 1491, the Granada War ended with the kingdom of Maldonato’s birth annexed by Castile, officially concluding the almost 800-year Reconquista. Although Muslims were still allowed to dwell in the former emirate under their new Catholic sovereigns, two Morisco revolts in 1501 and 1571 did much to turn the increasingly centralized Spanish crown against this remnant of Arab culture. In 1609, the Expulsión de los moriscos saw hundreds of thousands of Moriscos forcefully expelled from the Iberian peninsula.
Maldonato was pained by his people’s plight, but found he could do but little to aid them. Justicars changed, but there was always some new enemy to confront and some new crisis the Camarilla needed him and Vidal to attend. This state of affairs persisted until the Thirty Years’ War. The conflict was a world war of its era and embroiled a panoply of mortal nations and Kindred factions ranging from the Lancea et Sanctum to the Invictus to the Acolytes to the Ordo Dracul to the Anarchs to the Sabbat and countless more. Seemingly every player in the Jyhad was engaged in a deadly game of move and counter-move across the Holy Roman Empire’s ravaged corpse, all playing out in the dizzying span (for elders) of three decades. The war’s death toll was catastrophic and killed one in every three people to reside in Germany. Maldonato and his lover were there in the fighting’s thickest and knew few peaceful nights. New Orleans’ seneschal has otherwise spoken little of his role in that bloody conflict: he has long demurred that Elsbeth von Steinhäuser, “as a native daughter of Germany,” is a better authority on it than he.
By the time the Peace of Westphalia was struck in 1648, Maldonato’s resolve was sapped by over two hundred years of war. He succumbed to torpor, prompting his lover Vidal (also weary from his own long years of service) to resign his commission as sheriff. (It would not be until 18 years later, at the Venetian conclave of 1666, that the justicars’ sheriffs would officially be called archons.) Vidal made his way to a corner of Spain unclaimed by the Sabbat to watch over his torpid paramour.
The New World
Maldonato awoke nearly a century later into a world irrevocably transformed. The last mass prosecution against Moriscos for crypto-Islamic practices, Vidal told him, took place in Granada in 1727. Most of those convicted received relatively light sentences. Indigenous Islam and Morisco identity were thereafter considered to have been extinguished in Spain: Maldonato was now the product of a civilization that no longer existed. He had truly become an elder.
For a time, he and his lover were content to enjoy quiet retirement together. Their seclusion did not last, however, before the Camarilla approached the former archons with a new mission and mandate. A growing city in the New World was overrun by lawless Kindred who paid no heed to the Traditions, and a prince’s firm hand was required to govern them. Maldonato crossed the Atlantic in 1769 with Alexander O’Reilly and his lover of three centuries.
Maldonato has faithfully served as New Orleans’ seneschal in the nearly 250 years since O’Reilly’s fateful voyage. As Prince Vidal’s right hand, Maldonato administers many of the archdiocese’s night-to-night affairs, including holding court, coordinating the activities of Vidal’s servants, chairing meetings of the Cabildo, controlling access to the prince, and otherwise freeing his oft-preoccupied lover’s time to be spent on other concerns, not the least of which are those demanded by his position as strategos for Clan Ventrue. These considerable duties often leave Vidal unable to micromanage his domain to the same extent as many princes, and between this fact as well as Maldonato’s own age and close relationship to the prince, he exercises a great deal more power than is typical for a “mere” seneschal (who in some cities function as little more than glorified secretaries). In many ways, Maldonato’s role is more akin to a sub-prince, and other diocesan officials obey his orders unless countermanded otherwise by Vidal—a rare occurrence. There are few, if any, decisions over which the prince does not consult the Kindred who has been his companion, lover, and brother-in-arms for over half a millennium.
Since Hurricane Katrina, Maldonato’s duties have only increased as Vidal has withdrawn from nightly affairs. The hoary Ventrue now only appears in public to call blood hunts and perform other functions from which the prince’s absence would be completely inexcusable (such as presiding over the 2015 trial of John Harley Matheson). Otherwise, Maldonato is seemingly left to administer the city in Vidal’s name. While the prince presumably still grants (or denies) permission to Embrace and sentences Kindred to final death, even these decisions are now announced by Maldonato. More than one Kindred has wondered how many recent edicts from Perdido House are truly the prince’s own. Other Kindred scoff at this notion, and hold that the two elders have been allies, lovers, and boon companions for the unthinkable span of six hundred years—there are likely few decisions they have ever made without one another’s consultation. Still other Kindred claim that even this fact is irrelevant if Vidal has effectively ceded to his throne to his seneschal, who may as well now be the city’s acting prince.
Indeed, an elder of Maldonato’s age, generation, and political connections could easily rule his own city as prince, and in his own name—were it not for the matter of his lineage. Maldonato has refused to disclose which clan he hails from, or even whether he belongs to a clan at all and not some esoteric bloodline. The subject remains a topic of frequent (though by this point worn-out) gossip at Elysium. Surely the seneschal’s lineage must be a damning secret if he refuses to disclose it—but if the truth were actually so damning, how did he earn the prince’s trust at all, never mind serve for centuries as an archon?
Whatever the answer, and whether out of devotion or simply no alternative, Maldonato appears content to serve rather than occupy the throne.
In 2016, that long outstanding question was finally answered: Maldonato hailed from Clan Lasombra. This revelation came in the wake of the 2016 Cairo Accords, during which a significant contingent of antitribu sought entry into the Camarilla after declaring themselves the “true” clan and their Sabbat clanmates antitribu. Maldonato has been heavily involved in efforts to integrate these keepers into the Camarilla and has emerged as one of the highest-profile Lasombra elders in North America’s Camarilla—as well as one of the highest-priority targets for his Sabbat clanmates.
Maldonato seems to consider this an acceptable risk. Since his “coming out” as Lasombra, he and Vidal have gone to great lengths to make New Orleans an attractive destination for keepers seeking entry into the United States. Maldonato promises generous grants of domain, protection from the Sabbat, political representation (he recently joined the Cabildo), and fair treatment under a prince who doesn’t require the same onerous demonstrations of loyalty as other Camarilla princes.
Maldonato’s long-term goal is to build up his clan’s presence within New Orleans, prove they can be useful and productive residents of the city, and contribute towards the normalization of Clan Lasombra’s presence within the larger Camarilla. In the immediate term, if he can draw upon his clanmates to help stabilize Vidal’s increasingly uncertain reign, so much the better—he’ll have killed two birds with one stone.
The only problem is that Antoine Savoy seems like just as welcoming a patron to individual Lasombra as Vidal—and increasingly likely to wind up prince himself. The Clan of Shadows is nothing if not ruthlessly pragmatic.
Maldonato is regent of the Central Business District and its sub-district, the Arts District. The CBD is second-most important territory in the city (after the French Quarter), and is where City Hall, Perdido House, and many corporate headquarters and cultural centers are located. Still, most elders find the sterile district “too American” for their sensibilities, and Maldonato is no exception. He makes his personal residence in the Lower Garden District and prefers to spend his time there when not attending to the archdiocese’s affairs at Perdido House. He and Vidal largely run the CBD jointly.
Maldonato is known amongst mortals as a local historical and geographical expert on New Orleans and is regularly consulted by eminent city officials and academics. He has a prolific writing career under a series of pseudonyms on a variety of specialist subjects ranging from poetry to theoretical physics. His lifelong love for learning did not end with his death, and he’s made a habit of collecting degrees from the city’s universities over the centuries (some of them more than once as fields evolve). His current mortal identity is usually a professor or PhD student. To his regret, his increased duties since Hurricane Katrina have left him with less time to attend to mortal affairs.
Maldonato is a pillar of the Camarilla. He’s served the sect for most of his centuries-spanning unlife as an archon, regent, and seneschal. Even when Vidal was a more visible prince than he is now, Maldonato managed much of the city’s affairs. Since Katrina, more than one newcomer has mistaken him for the prince. He’s widely regarded as an even-handed and capable administrator. Most Kindred can’t imagine what the city would look like without him. (Camarilla Status •••••)
Maldonato is an equally stolid pillar to the local Sanctified and is one of the covenant’s three elders (two if one excludes Antoine Savoy, who has split the Sanctified into its Bourbon and Hardliner factions). It’s the fact he is a deacon and lay member of the covenant, rather than a true priest, which makes his standing somewhat lower than in the larger Camarilla. (Hardline Sanctified Status ••••)
Maldonato is a respected elder within his clan. It’s presumed that “Philip Maldonato” is a pseudonym he adopted after the Anarch Revolt or upon crossing the Atlantic—there have been no known assassination attempts made against New Orleans’ seneschal by his Sabbat clanmates. Nevertheless, his centuries of loyal service to the Camarilla have done much to facilitate Clan Lasombra’s entry into the Ivory Tower, as did his more recent role in orchestrating the Cairo Accords. He is also a battle-tested elder of many centuries, and the Night Clan respects nothing if not power. (Lasombra Status ••••)
Quotes by Philip Maldonato
“We are all of less than we strive to be.”
—Philip Maldonato to Abélia Devillers
“For some, the Embrace is a curse, a wholesale ruination of their mortal lives. For others, it opens their eyes to aspects of the human condition they have previously failed to appreciate, yet are forever barred from acting upon in their new state. It is debatable which is the more tragic.”
—Philip Maldonato to Caroline Malveaux-Devillers
“Justice, Miss Malveaux, does not guide the hand of the Camarilla. It was founded to protect Europe’s elders from the Inquisition’s pyres, and continues to ably serve its function of maintaining and perpetuating the power of its ruling elite.”
—Philip Maldonato to Caroline Malveaux-Devillers
“Time lays waste to all things, but we fight it for as long as we may.”
—Philip Maldonato to Caroline Malveaux-Devillers
Quotes about Philip Maldonato
“Few Kindred I have met possess any sense of compassion, but Seneschal Maldonato is one of them. Perhaps through strength of spirit, or perhaps simply by virtue of his outright strength, he has been able to cultivate a measured sense of justice and mercy that makes him a rare bright spot in the rolling mass of viciousness and self-indulgent cruelty that is New Orleans. There’s no ill words I could—or would—speak against him on those merits alone.”
“Prince Vidal is fortunate to ’ave such wisdom at ’is side.”
—Cletus Lee Boggs
“I could always tolerate him. The rest still disgust me, and it is his vestige of decency they hide behind, like so many termites in hardwood.”
“Seneschal Maldonato is oft underestimated, his easy and reserved manner lulling others into a mistaking this lion for a lamb. Canny Kindred would do well to remember that few of the meek survive centuries, and fewer still spend many of them as an archon. In truth, the seneschal’s gentle demeanor is a facade: he is no velvet glove around Prince Vidal’s iron fist, but simply more iron painted a velvety red. Those who place themselves within his reach would do well to remember that his ‘mercy’ often takes unexpected (and undesired) forms. After all, it is also a mercy to put down those who can only suffer.”
“The seneschal is the embodiment of God’s mercy.”
Lasombra (e. prehistory, d. 15th century)
• 4. Montano (e. millennia BCE)
• 5. Unknown sire
Sharif al-Lam’a (e. 6th century, d. 15th century)
• 7. Fatimah al-Lam’a (e. 10th century)
• 8. Munther al-Asward (e. 15th century)
• 9. Christobal Almenara (e. early 19th century)
• 10+. (Christobal’s descendants)
• 8. Suleiman ibn Abdelmalek (e. mid 18th century)
• 9+. (Suleiman’s other descendants) (e. varies)
• 9. Conroy Westphal (e. early 21st century)
• 10. Roger Ferris (e. 2016)
Mirri al-Lam’a (e. 12th century, d. 2011)
• 8+. (Mirri’s descendants)
Shu’ayb al-Mohager (e. 8th century, d. 15th century)
• 7. Philip Maldonato (e. 14th century)
Maldonato is the childe of Shu’ayb al-Mohager, a scholar Embraced during the Ummayyad Caliphate. He resided in Granada for many centuries and met final death during the Anarch Revolt. Maldonato has not named his grandsire, whose identity remains unknown. Maldonato claims his sire was grandchilde to Montano, one of the clan’s eldest methuselahs, the voice of his sire, and the de facto ruler of the Sea of Shadows, the alliance of Lasombra princedoms across the Mediterranean, during the Middle Ages. Montano has not been seen since the Anarch Revolt, but it is widely known that he escaped the fall of the Castel d’Ombro, Clan Lasombra’s ancestral fortress, through shadowy arts unknown to any of his lesser clanmates. Montano was childe to Lasombra.
It is unknown whether Al-Mohager Embraced other childer. Maldonato has spoken of none.
None known. Maldonato has seemingly never taken advantage of his position as the prince’s right hand to sire any progeny—certainly, if he wished to Embrace, it is presumed he could obtain his lover’s permission with ease. Some Kindred have speculated whether Maldonato Embraced prior to coming to New Orleans, but if this is the case, no such childer (who would by now be elders in their own right) have claimed him as a sire.