Mithras (World of Darkness)
The cult of Mithras quickly spread in the Orient and when Mithras heard of Rome, he chose to travel there. The Roman armies fascinated him, as he had been a soldier himself in life, and he accompanied them to the various corners of the Empire, preferring it to the stale Cainite politics in Rome itself. His cult spread through the military and became one of the great mystery religions in the Imperium Romanum by the time of the Roman Emperors.
Mithras himself settled in Londinium in 71 CE – the constant warfare against the barbarians pleased him. He wandered around the island for a long time, encountering native vampires that were not pleased with the intrusion. Through shrewd manipulations, Mithras managed to ascend to a position as “First Among Equals” among the native Cainites. His haven at the Mithraeum in Londinium became a meeting place for various scholars…
Embraced in 1258 BC, Mithras was a Ventrue Antediluvian who
Ventrue are also knows as: ‘The Clan of Kings,’ ‘Blue Bloods,’ Patricians, Warlords, Ambitiones, Power Mongers, and Monarchs. Its members work hard to maintain a reputation for honor, genteel behavior, and leadership. A sense of noblesse oblige has long pervaded the clan, accompanied by the genuine belief that the Ventrue know what is best for everyone. They not only consider themselves the oldest clan, but see themselves as the enforcers of tradition and the rightful leaders of Kindred society.
They remain the largest supporters of the Camarilla and the Masquerade , believing both institutions to be the surest means of protecting vampires from the growing mortal masses, and of guarding their own power.
To hear them say it, their claim to fame begins in the early days of vampire history with Cain himself commanding his eldest childe Ynosch to Embrace the Ventrue Founder, who they believe to be the first member of the Third Generation and who is often called Ventrue. He was to be Caine’s advisor in the nights of the ‘First City,’ and when the Dark Father prepared to leave he chose to hand the burden of stewarding his people to Ventru. Through this story the Ventrue justify their position of superiority and leadership over the other clans, just as they believe their progenitor led the other Antediluvian for a time.
The first major achievement of the Ventrue is attributed to Artemis with the creation of militant Sparta. Wary of the mortal masses even in those ancient nights, Artemis saw promise in the ideas of the philosopher Lycurgus and supported him, seeking to make the humans a tool to be used rather than fought, and eventually making herself Sparta’s patron goddess. They would soon become the perfect example mortal potential in her eyes: loyal, brave, and completely devoted to self-perfection. Sensing the rising power, other Ventrue gathered to become a part of the Spartan war machine, urging the neighboring City-States to ally with Sparta while establishing their own domains within the Peloponnesian League. This also made possible the rise of the mercantile city of Corinth and its Prince Evarchus, who exemplified the power of wealth in a role for all Ventrue to follow.
The growing power of Sparta and the Brujah alliance in Athens would lead to the first Brujah War , a conflict that would set the stage for a bitter rivalry between the two clans millennia afterwards. Though the Brujah or Ventrue never came directly to blows in the conflict, the eventual invasion of Athens led by Lysander caused many Brujah and Toreador to regard the Ventrue as power mad barbarians, while Spartan Ventrue considered the Brujah dangerous idealists.
After Sparta’s fall, the rise of Rome signaled one of the clan’s greatest ages. Many Ventrue had long settled in the region and lived relatively quietly while it was ruled by the Etruscans.
Recognizing the mortals of Rome to be a proud and superstitious people that would sooner stake any vampires than consider living with them let alone beneath them, Collat did not seek to rule the Romans directly or make himself a deity as vampires in the past had done, but influenced events from behind the scenes by collecting favors from the city’s citizens. This system would later be refined by Camilla… who replaced his sire and set about establishing political connections with the patrician families of Rome. Instead of using ‘Disciplines’ to force his will on the city’s leaders, Collat ruled through ghoul proxies delivering favors and contacts, allowing him to grow rich and powerful while the mortals remained ignorant.
This strategy would be widely adopted in the centuries to follow and would serve the clan well once the Masquerade was adopted. The second Brujah War would parallel that of Rome and Carthage, where Brujah, Assamites, and even Baali ruled the mortals openly, demanding blood and sacrifices while living as gods. In such contrast to what the Patricians had fostered in Rome, the African nation was seen as a den of infernalists and monsters.
Cainites largely avoided direct fighting during the first two Punic Wars , but in the final assault Ventrue, Toreador, Malkavians, and Gangrel of Rome battled openly alongside the Romans against the people of Carthage. In the end both sides were greatly wounded, but the Ventrue prevailed, and the Brujah would never forgive them for destroying their fabled city.
In the years that followed Rome prospered. The Ventrue shared its power with many of the other clans that had taken part in the wars against Carthage, establishing friendships with other Cainites even as the Ventrue themselves began squabbling with one another. Most Patricians of the time were independent, with the only organization of the clan being a largely ineffectual assembly that eventually fell out of practice. Following the cue of Julius Caesar, Camilla reorganized the Ventrue into a structure that gave authority over the clan’s members to the most important Ventrue in the region. While the power over the younger and less important Ventrue was not absolute, it did create a means for settling disputes, establishing connections, and identifying friends and enemies of the clan. These reforms served the clan well, and the Patricians prospered for several centuries until the empire itself dissolved.
The Dark Ages
When Rome fell, most of the Ventrue elite abandoned the ruined city to establish new centers of power elsewhere. During the rise of the Merovingian dynasty in Frankia (later the Holy Roman Empire), the Ventrue began infiltrating existing government as feudal lords, thus taking credit for the creation and expansion of the medieval feudal system. As the Frankish state expanded into Germany and Italy, the Ventrue began to prosper once again. When the Holy Roman Empire was dispersed, the Ventrue moved their center of power to Italy.
Posing as kings and merchant princes, the Ventrue expanded their influence across the Mediterranean through trade routes and crusades, thus becoming again a force to be reckoned with.
During these times, many Ventrue were influenced by the laws of chivalry and personal honor. Some of these separated themselves from the main clan during the founding of the Camarilla and turned to the Sabbat.
The man who would become Mithras was born in the territory where Iran is now located, and served in the military as a general of one of Indo-Iranic tribes.
Mithras has always been a soldier.
Even as a youth in ancient Persia, he played strategy games with the other youngsters, testing out different weaknesses in both the game and in his opponents. It was rare that he lost, though one time he did, he lost his temper and nearly beat the other child to death. From then on, nobody would play games with Mithras anymore.
Mithras joined the Persian army and rose quickly through the ranks. Military life suited him, and he found nothing more satisfying than fighting alongside other soldiers, employing tactics he gained increasingly better mastery over as time passed. He was sent against rebels that hid in the mountains. After a long and bloody campaign, all the rebels were decapitated except one, who walked into Mithras’ tent unmolested. With his supernatural power, he silenced the general and explained himself to him. He held no ill will, but rather was impressed by the general’s capabilities and offered him everlasting life or a quick death. Mithras chose to live and bide his time to return, faking his own demise and exploring his new powers. When he returned to human civilization, he was revered as the living “war god” of various peoples. As the Lord of Light, Mithras portrayed himself as the bringer of civilization and morality, who spent his days guiding the sun through heavens and thus only appeared at night.
The Cult of Mithras quickly spread in the Orient and when Mithras heard of Rome, he chose to travel there. The Roman armies fascinated him, as he had been a soldier himself in life, and he accompanied them to the various corners of the Empire, preferring it to the stale Cainite politics in Rome itself. His cult spread through the military and became one of the great mystery religions in the Imperium Romanum by the time of the Roman Emperors.
71 CE – the constant warfare against the barbarians pleased him. He wandered around the island for a long time, encountering native vampires that were not pleased with the intrusion. Through shrewd manipulations, Mithras managed to ascend to a position as “First Among Equals” among the native Cainites.
His haven at the Mithraeum… became a meeting place for various scholars, among them his clanmate Bindusara and the Assamite Antediluvian Haqim.
Mithras’ reign was, however, challenged by a similar mystery cult that would later be the new state religion of the Empire. When Rome’s attention no longer reached to Britannia, many younger vampires blamed their sires for the decline of their herds and a civil war shook the Cainite ranks of Britain. Although Mithras remained victorious, he was wounded and retreated to torpor for a long period of time.
The mages of the Celestial Chorus honor Mithras as an early Singer. Some, particularly some of the Sons of Mithras faction, go so far as to represent him as a deity. On the other hand, the earthbound demon Asmodeus uses worship of Mithras (in the form of the Mithra’s Wisdom cult) as a front for his activities.
Bindusara is a Cainite scholar from India.
He did not concern himself with the political intrigues of the time for long and left India for the occult secrets of the world. He reached the Roman Empire and there watched over historians. He traveled more than most of the others of his clan, undertook and financed excavations, and invested in the endeavors of grave robbers.
He studied the ‘Book of Nod’ with the help of the Cappadocians. In Egypt, he visited Neferu’s ‘Fire Court’ to find answers to his questions. While many Kindred claim the Ventrue to be motivated only by lust for power, they could accuse Bindusara of being dominated by his thirst for knowledge and understanding.
Today, Bindusara resides in Alexandria studying the patterns of the Jyhad and the omens of Gehenna.
‘The Hunter’, is an antediluvian and the founder of the Assamite clan.
Haqim was a warrior-hunter who, after being embraced, made havens in both the First and Second Cities, promoting neutrality amongst bickering Kindred brethren. Haqim was mainly known for forming the Assamites out of three divisions: scholars, warriors and magi, who were originally used to fight in the Baali conflict. After training leaders out of the Second City Haqim had taken leave on several occasions to wander around Akkad, in preparing the Middle East for his children. When the time was right, he led an exodus to the ‘Alamut’, where the Assamites are centrally located to this day.
10,000 years ago, there were hunters who followed the migrations of animal herds across the Fertile Crescent, into Asia and North Africa. A certain warrior-hunter who migrated with the herds, had dedicated himself to scholarship during his travels. He learned to read, write and speak the language of the dead. This attracted the attention of one of Caine’s childer. Being eligible for the embrace, this warrior-hunter took on the name “Haqim”. The First City became his first haven where he became one of its defenders.
Some centuries after the Great Deluge, Haqim came to the Second City where he was promoted as the city’s “law-keeper”… Haqim created three Castes of warriors that the Assamites recognize to this day: the Viziers, Judges, and Sorcerers. First, Haqim organized his first childer into a caste of viziers, who were an intellectual group of scholars that could help him organize and strategize. He assembled the Second City’s first judges, who helped control the stirrings of the War of the Ages. Then, due to the Baali strikes, Haqim brought in the Second City’s first blood magicians… Eventually, Haqim and his three castes of childer abandoned the Second City, as well as many other Cainites, who lost faith in the city. Mainly, Haqim was sick of the constant bickering between the Antediluvians and even members of his own house. After a treacherous exodus, Haqim and his children finally settled at the Eagle’s Nest in the mountainous regions of Alamut. This location became the Assamites’ spiritual, physical and official home, where they took control of the Middle East and gained the reputation of being “fearsome black-skinned demons of the East”.
Haqim’s last visit to Alamut was in 68 BC, where he stayed in the Great Library for six months. There is also a record of him being in Antioch a century later. The last time anyone has seen Haqim was in the British Isles in 121 AD, where he was engaged in philosophical conversations with the Ventrue Prince of London, Mithras—which is interesting by itself, since Mithras would be diablerized in 1996 by one of Haqim’s own descendants.
Most believe these god-like beings to be either in torpor, manipulating the Jyhad, or dead, but there are a large number of myths and prophecies surrounding the clan founders, many of which are contradictory and suspect. However, certain beliefs have prevailed throughout vampiric history, particularly in regards to their actions in Gehenna.
While some clans regard their progenitor favorably, as a whole the Antediluvians are often portrayed as boogeymen that will one day rise and devour their descendants.
There are rarely reasons given for this, but clan-wide purges have occurred in the past and Gehenna is seen as a time of blood and reckoning for Cainites.
Presumably the Antediluvians are of such age and potency of blood that they possess nearly god-like power, and in fact some of them may be deities. Very few records of such power being used exist, but legends typically portray them as undefeatable. Some even theorize that the only way for such creatures to be killed is if they desire it or if it is at the hands of another Antediluvian. Whether that is true or not, they seem to suffer from at least some of the traditional curses of vampirism, namely the thirst for blood, the ravages of the Beast, and vulnerability to sunlight, although their mastery of the Disciplines may have mitigated these weaknesses to some degree.
If the Antediluvians survive in the modern nights they must possess sufficient abilities to hide their existence and activities from the world, particularly considering the monumental effort that has been put into locating their havens by Cainites of many different factions. As they are commonly believed to be directing the Jyhad, they must also possess an incredible level of influence or knowledge, and perhaps even the ability to manipulate those who bear their blood. In fact, blood lineage is often cited as a factor in an Antediluvian’s power, and most assume that each is concerned most of all with their own clan. There are also some examples of ancient vampires bestowing portions of their power to other vampires, and while few of the ancients are described as being actual Thamaturgists , they seem to possess a great deal of versatility, which is evident in the various artifacts said to have been created by the clan founders. Otherwise, members of the Third Generation are often attributed to having complete mastery over their clan disciplines, though this may not be true for the youngest of the Antediluvians, and it is difficult to state clearly which disciplines apply when considering bloodlines and clans that have changed disciplines over the millennia.
According to the Noddist lore, the thirteen original members of the Third Generation were Embraced in the First City. Their Sires were the Second Generation, the three childer of Caine: Enoch, Irad, and Zillah. After the First City was destroyed in the Deluge, they came to be known as the Antediluvians.
As Caine had left his childer and grandchilder shortly before the Flood, the Second and Third Generations were left untended. The Third Generation rose up and slew their sires in rebellion. They then sired their own childer, the Fourth Generation , beginning the lineage of the thirteen clans. The clans built up the Second City, but it fell to infighting and rebellion. The most prominent casualty of this revolt was the founder of the Brujah, who was killed by his own childe.
The Camarilla asserts that the Antediluvians are dead or never even existed, and actively persecutes those who publicly say otherwise. This is part propaganda part genuine belief on their half. Those Kindred who believe the Antediluvians are alive rarely have any real information regarding them and are prone to act rashly and with paranoia, such as by joining the Sabbat or a Gehenna cult. Furthermore, very few of the sect’s members are over five centuries old and have thus missed the last period during which the Antediluvians were visibly active. As secular knowledge becomes prevalent, more and more Kindred view the story of Caine and the Antediluvians as creation myths, nothing more.
The Sabbat adheres to a pseudo-religious creed claiming it as their duty to destroy the Antediluvians and their servants. Most believe they are in a war for their very survival and that if the ancients are not stopped all vampires will be enslaved or devoured by them during Gehenna. The sect preaches that the Antediluvians manipulate all Cainites through the Jyhad, and that the Camarilla and surviving Methuselah are their pawns. While generally accepting of the Antediluvians’ existence, the knowledge of the average member is not necessarily much greater than their Camarilla counterparts as much of what they are taught is meant to ensure their fanaticism in going to war. Despite the theoretically god-like power of the Antediluvians, the Sabbat claims the noble heritage of having slain two during the Anarch revolt and most members truly believe they can be defeated.
Leave a Reply