To most mages, the word means nothing. Those who study the more obscure secrets might learn that some vampires call themselves by that name, but most researchers are discouraged from following that path. To the Order of Hermes, however, the Tremere are a stain, an embarrassment and the shadow that follows every ambitious mage in his quest for Ascension.
That group is the albatross that has hung around the neck of the Order for the past 800 years.
Once, the Order and its exiled, undead cousins warred openly. The consequences of the war were devastating for both sides. Since then, the skirmishes have been few and far between, with each side wary of the other. As both looked to other concerns, the battle subsided. The Order focused on the Traditions and the Ascension War; House Tremere disappeared into the mists of history.
Now, however, Fortune conspires in these Final Nights to throw the ancient adversaries together again.
The following story is from the short story found in Blood Treachery. This material primarily meant as a Player’s Handout.
The lights rise on the Sanctum of one ABRAHAMTHEWHITE, a mage of House Bonisagus .It is a crowded room filled with arcana of all manner. Wearing a purple mask, ABRAHAM sits within a pentode that has been etched in the floor. A smaller pentacle faces him. Candles surround him.
ABRAHAM: (in Enochian) … in the name of all things sacred and divine, and by the oath I have sworn with thee, I compel thee: Appear.
Appear, damn you!
ABRAHAM stands up in a rage, knocking over candles, disrupting the circle.
ABRAHAM: This is inconceivable. Five times I have attempted the Greater Ritual of Summoning; five times I have etched the circles, lit the candles, walked the tree and uttered the invocation, and nothing! NOTHING! How is this possible, that these most ancient of rituals no longer work, even within the confines of my Sanctum? What is happening? I must be doing something wrong. I will go back to the grimoire to make sure I have not done anything wrong — although I believe I have not — and try again. And it will be all right. It will be all right.
The libraries of Horizon. ABRAHAM follows a doddering NICODEMUSMULHOUSE, who also wears a purple mask.
MULHOUSE:.. .and the Latin translation, which came to us in 1104, from an eccentric magus in the Swiss Alps who had sequestered himself for some time. ABRAHAM: Dear Mulhouse, I already have the Latin translation. What I need is the original, the very first edition of the book. MULHOUSE: Well, aren’t we feeling industrious today? The original, eh?
He thinks then starts cackling.
ABRAHAM: What? Is the tome lost? MULHOUSE: Oh, I believe so. I believe it is indeed lost. ABRAHAM: It was on Doissetep, wasn’t it? MULHOUSE: No, no, no, it wasn’t destroyed, as far as I know. But as I recall, the book in question was last possessed by an expatriate-turned-vampire later stricken from our records, in the 10th century. ABRAHAM: So there’s no way to get it. MULHOUSE: You could always ask the vampires. I’m sure they’d love to assist you.
MULHOUSE exits, laughing.
In the library of the Exeter Chantry, in London, around 3 A.M.. AURELIANARCHAMBEAU, PAULCORBIN, REBECCAMITSOTAKAI, EDWARDGREY and JOSIAHLAMB (all masked in purple) speak in hushed tones over liqueur.
AURELIEN: People are beginning to panic, my friends. These events are no longer idle mishaps, but something happening on a larger scale. Even my simplest experiments have fallen prey to this unfortunate affliction. I have been able to compensate, for alchemy is quite versatile, but for those who do not practice the Royal Art… PAUL: Yeah, we know, all right? Not all of us can sit around our labs and make potions and unguents. Hell, I have Constructs to raid, and if my magic’s fucking up on me… I mean, it’s bad enough most of my shit’s risky when I’m in a Construct anyway. Now with this bullshit going on, I might as well not even be a mage. REBECCA: Is this happening across the board? I know that I haven’t experienced too many troubles myself. Then again, I deal with math, not ritual. EDWARD: It’s not like nothing’s working. We’re still able to accomplish things. But what’s unsettling people is how the formulae, the rituals, the seals are no longer reliable. These teachings have been with us for millennia. My pater, Abraham, has fairly driven himself into Twilight over this. JOSIAH: Is it possible that the rituals have been misinterpreted ? After all, we’re dealing with translations of translations. Can’t we just go back to the originals and make sure we’re not doing something wrong? EDWARD: That’s impossible. The original texts we had were in Doissetep. The books in Horizon are translations. The Order didn’t want to give away the secrets to the other Traditions. And every time we try and find other originals, we keep running into the same name — House Tremere. It appears they absconded with quite a few texts. PAUL: Then why not take them back?
Bemused chuckles from everyone except PAUL.
PAUL: No, I’m serious. If they have the books, why not take them back from them? EDWARD: Because we have no idea where they are. It’s been a thousand years. REBECCA: Besides, I have better things to do than chase after myths that may or may not have something to do with anything.
JOSIAH: Any word from Matthew?
PAUL: Nothing. Still. AURELIEN: It has been well over three months. Has no one attempted to locate him? JOSIAH: Of course. Scrying, telepathy… I even went to the police. He’s completely vanished. EDWARD: He was always good at hiding, though. He’ll be fine. I’m sure of it. He’ll be just fine. PAUL: What if he’s- EDWARD: He’ll be fine. He will. I’m sure of it.
The Grand Tribunal of the Order of Hermes, temporarily housed within the Quaesitor Ancestral Chantry, in the Black Forest of Germany. SHARADOSEI, flanked by two other Thigs (all masked in purple), stands before the assembled council (likewise masked), reading a report.
OSEI: We were first alerted to the possibility that this was more than a simple typhoon not only by the unnaturally high death toll of the storm, but also from the huge surge in Technocratic traffic that coincided with it. At first, we weren’t sure what was going on, but after several months of digging through ill-secured Technocracy records, we’ve managed to put together several of the pieces. What we found does not bode well for us or the world. Please pay careful attention, here; many Bothans died to bring us this report.
It appears that there was a gi-fucking-normous Technocratic operation that went by the code name of Ragnarok. And yes, all the implications of that word are spoken for in this operation. What went on in Bangladesh was apparently the work of a vampire. One. As in single. As in one vampire is responsible for millions of deaths, untold damage and worldwide insanity, as well as the deaths of scores of mages from other Traditions and the current state of the remaining Criamon.
To put things into perspective, let me show you what it took to kill this one, solitary God-damned vampire. Pages 23 through 27 of your copies will show you the authorization codes for the deployment of solar mirrors. We didn’t even know the Technocracy had solar mirrors, but I guess they felt this a worthwhile waste of trillions of dollars. They reflected the sun into that precise spot, but apparently this creature had control of the weather, because the typhoon sprung up about a minute after deployment. Coincidence? You tell me. I’m just the Thig.
The typhoon lasted until the date of the memos detailed on page 39. When the mirrors proved ineffective, Technocracy Control apparently gave authorization, under this Code Ragnarok, for nuclear fucking deployment. The Technocracy had to drop three nuclear warheads on this damn vampire, and that only seemed to weaken the thing, because the Technocracy reports that the creature died only after the typhoon weakened enough to allow the reflected sunlight to break through the cloud cover. Three nuclear warheads weakened this creature, after untold numbers of Sleepers, mages and supernatural what-have-yous died trying to take it down.
What conclusions can be drawn from these findings, class? No good ones. I don’t know that much about the ways and wherefores of vampires, but I know that any creature that is this powerful can only be bad fucking news. My fellow Primi, I realize we have our own problems. But if the massasa are this powerful — if, indeed, the house that got away back in the Stone Age is this powerful — then we have a horrifying new front to the Ascension War to consider.
Exeter Chantry. REBECCA, AURELIEN, JOSIAH, and PAUL sit in the study.
AURELIEN: I’ve had some success with the newer theories my fellow Solificati have provided, as well as incorporating some formulae Rebecca gave me. I even did some research with a Dreamspeaker friend, and his insights are astounding. I think we may have something new coming up soon. PAUL: That might help you, but that ain’t doing jackshit for me. I have a scouting job coming up, and I’m screwed. My people have been going off like Roman candles from the ‘dox. It’s insane. Everybody’s flipping out. REBECCA: And talking about the Massasa War. JOSIAH: What? What about it? REBECCA: Where have you been? Everywhere I go, people are talking about all the books the Tremere have, the amount of knowledge the vampires must’ve accumulated over centuries or how they sent a vampire into Bangladesh to kill everything. I’m hearing some truly far-fetched theories. AURELIEN: And yet, the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that they have a treasure trove of texts. Texts that can reinvigorate our praxes. PAUL: So why aren’t we grabbing them? AURELIEN: More and more people seem to be asking that question.
Split scene — the streets of London. EDWARD walks along under the moon, until he spies a familiar figure — but one who wears a bloodied mask.
MATTHEW turns, sees EDWARD and freezes in horror.
EDWARD: Matthew! What the hell?
MATTHEW bolts. EDWARD chases after him. MATTHEW is faster. After a while, EDWARD falls behind, winded and tired. MATTHEW runs for a door, but he turns around to face EDWARD before entering.
EDWARD: Matthew… what… what happened to you? MATTHEW: They took me, Edward. The undead. They took me, and they destroyed my soul. EDWARD: No… no… MATTHEW: No more a magus, Edward. Now I’m one of them. Please, go. List me among the dead. This (indicates the door) is where I dwell now. Forget me. Make sure they all forget me.
The door opens, and a GENTLEMAN, also wearing a blood-red mask, exits the house. EDWARD quickly pulls the shadows over him to hide.
GENTLEMAN: Matthew. Is everything all right? MATTHEW: Yes, yes… I was… startled, I thought someone was following me, but I think I just panicked. Saw something that wasn’t there. GENTLEMAN: You’re still getting used to your power. It’s a common occurrence. Come, you’re expected.
The GENTLEMAN and MATTHEW enter. MATTHEW doesn’t look back. EDWARD emerges from hiding, saddened and furious. He watches the door, then enters the Exeter scene.
REBECCA: Edward, what’s wrong? What happened? EDWARD: I found Matthew… I found… I… JOSIAH: Is he dead? EDWARD: Worse! His soul… his soul, destroyed… the… AURELIEN: Calm down, Edward. EDWARD: The vampires took him! He’s one of them now! They drank his soul and turned him into a monster, and now he’s one of them. He’s a worthless… They killed him and keep him around for their… They just wanted him, and they took him. They killed him, the bastards.
Everyone is stunned while EDWARD weeps.
PAUL: Vengeance. AURELIEN: Paul, calm— PAUL: No! (The air around PAUL momentarily shimmers with flame.) Fuck this! They grab one of ours, our friend, they destroy his soul and turn him into just another bloodsucking piece of shit? And we’re just supposed to take it? We get shit on by the undead, we just take it. We get shit on by the Technocracy, and we just take it. When are we gonna start acting like mages? When are we gonna stop hiding and come out swinging, huh? When, Aurelien?
AURELIAN: We do not have the power to face them! We already reel from broken magic, the press of technology and the loss of Doissetep. We cannot risk picking yet another fight right now. PAUL: Maybe you can’t handle it, but I stand up for my friends. I know I’m not the only one either. If you’re not going to support me, I know plenty of Flambeau who will.
REBECCA:(whispering) He’s right. This fire’s about to rage out of control.
The Grand Tribunal chamber. It is filled with mages who all wear purple masks. REBECCAJOSIAH, PAUL, EDWARD and AURELIEN sit at the Table of the Advocates. MARCUS DE ALLEGRESSE, bani Tytalus, speaks, with his second, JOHANNKURTZWEIL, who stands nearby. JEREMYCHASTAM, bani Quaesitor, faces MARCUS, and ISHAQIBN-THOTH, bani Quaesitor, sits in judgment.
MARCUS: We are not asking for anything that is not already binding to us. House Tremere was tried in absentia for its crimes, and its members were all sentenced to Requital. That judgment has never been countermanded, it has never been overruled, and it has never been enforced. The Massosa War dwindled to nothing, and these snakes
have been allowed to fester in our garden for over 800 years. Surely seeking justice is not merely the act of finding someone guilty of wrongdoing, but of carrying out the appropriate punishment. Now is the time for the undead — and for any of our escaped, errant brethren — to face their punishment. JEREMY: While you may be correct in the guilt of the historical House Tremere, I cannot understand why you request punishment at this time. Surely, one does not need to look very far to see the chaos that is engulfing our Order. The Ars Arcane are shaking apart, unlike anything since the vaunted Scourge was first reported in the 15th century. The Technocracy — our true enemy — comes closer and closer to domination. It eradicates the supernatural on one hand, and these mad fanatics walk the street, ready to destroy anything they perceive as “different” on the other. And now, in our moment of crisis, you wish to distract us with a war against the undead? What madness is this? We must solve our problems, not uncover new ones. This is distraction at best; suicide at worst. I pray, Master Ibn-Thoth, let calmer heads prevail. MARCUS: You speak of the problems that beset the Order currently. What you fail to realize is that these vampires have been jealously hoarding knowledge that was never rightfully theirs. You fail to understand that the traitors have continued to kidnap, kill and convert Hermetic mages and censors for their own purposes over these long centuries. With a victory over the undead comes a victory for all of humanity. We have read House Thig’s report. If one vampire can destroy Bangladesh, what could a house of them do ? Who knows what plans these vampires have for the world, sending their pawns to war? They are a cancer that must be expunged at all costs! JEREMY: Now is not the time to expunge them! We fought the massasa once before, during our time of strength. We are weakened now. There is no sense to another war, especially one that could finish us. We must survive and gather our strength. To chase down a few remaining vampires who were cast from our Order centuries ago — to hunt the undead wantonly, to incite them further — is to bring ruin down upon our own heads. MARCUS: And to stand aside is not? These expatriates have already struck at us. They steal from our ranks and destroy the very Avatars of those they claim. When one mage makes war against them, they make war against us all. Do we stand together as unified houses against their threat, or do we allow them to crush our brethren, separate and weakened as they may be ? Master Ibn-Thoth, I hereby formally petition House Quaesitor to reinstate the Wizards’ March against the rogue House Tremere, and to expand this battle to the undead who unjustly hoard the stolen resources and powers of our Order. ISHAQ: The Council will consider the arguments. This Tribunal will stand under recess.
People file out.
REBECCA: Master De Allegresse… Once again, thank you so much for agreeing to speak for us. MARCUS: Not at all, my dear. I agree with your cause and your passion. Don’t worry, I have a feeling we’ll win. REBECCA: (somewhat distracted) Thank you again, sir.
Exeunt all but MARCUS and JOHANN.
JOHANN: I still don’t understand it, Magister. MARCUS: What is there to understand? JOHANN: Your advocacy for this cause. What good will it do the Order? MARCUS: Ah, dear Johann, you’re still not thinking along the right lines. Think of it this way. The Order is in a panic. Everyone starts looking for a scapegoat. They find these Tremere, but what can be done? By a stroke of luck, a young cabal discovers that one of their friends has been Embraced. One strikes at the undead, and the bloodsuckers push back against others who know nothing about the little conflict. This is nothing new, Johann. They’ve been poaching us for centuries, but an issue was never made about it. The attacks have been only rumors for as long as many of us remember. Now, suddenly, this cabal discovers that the rumors are true, and they drum up a groundswell of support for vengeance. Enter the friendly Tytalan Master with the connections to get their case heard. JOHANN: But what if it doesn’t work? MARCUS: It’ll work, believe me. People are too passionate about it already. This impulsive Flambeau, Paul, has infected many other members of his house with his cry for vengeance. Ishaq, despite his claims of objectivity, is too smart to ignore the voices of such a large house. So if we play our part well — act as the enabling friend, the counselor, the guide… JOHANN: And if the war doesn’t work? What if we start losing? MARCUS: We won’t. Here’s the trump card: Master Hortemone had the old Massasa War-era House Tremere figured out. No one else knows this, but I discovered his private journals in his Earthbound Chantry. He was double-crossing the vampires for about 20 years. According to his notes, they’re easy targets. There aren’t a lot of them, and there’s so much back-stabbing between them that they couldn’t mount a united defense against a termite infestation. JOHANN: But he publicly advocated reinstating House Tremere in the Order! MARCUS: A pawn is still a pawn, even if it’s undead, Johann. There are too many levels to this game. You’ll have to get better at playing. Stay by my side, and you’ll learn the rules soon enough.
REBECCA, PAUL, EDWARD, AURELIEN, and JOSIAH in their private chamber.
JOSIAH: I don’t like this. There’s too much bloodlust in the air. When Marcus was talking, you could practically hear the Flambeau drooling. PAUL: Hey! EDWARD: Do I have to remind you that Matthew— JOSIAH: No, you don’t, Edward. I know full well what happened to Matthew, and I’m as pissed off as you are. PAUL: Then what’s the fucking problem? We’re gonna take care of them. AURELIEN: I believe dear Josiah’s problem is not with the matter of revenge, but with how big our revenge has become. I myself did not expect things to get this far. After all, there’s a difference between a cabal solving a murder and an entire Tradition declaring war against vampires. REBECCA: It’s out of our hands now. PAUL: Not necessarily. REBECCA: No, it is. I can feel it, I can see the fractals in the air. We’re not steering the boat anymore; we’re being carried into the rapids by the current. PAUL: Bullshit. I’m totally in control of my destiny. REBECCA: Of course you are. AURELIEN: But this matter is out of our hands. It is a Tradition-wide issue now. Either we will go to war, or we will not. And every one of us will be expected to do his part. JOSIAH: I’m not sure what I could do to help. EDWARD: You’re a healer. We’ll need plenty of that. PAUL: Are you kidding? This is gonna be like Desert Storm. I’ve heard so much bullshit about these vampires, but you know what? I bet they’re like the Republican Guard. Remember them? The Elite Republican Guard? Well, let me tell you how elite they were. When we were rolling towards Kuwait, the Iraqi army practically gave us an escort there. Same thing with the bloodsuckers. The enemy always seems so much worse than it actually is. REBECCA: I really hope you’re right, Paul, and that I’m very, very wrong. Because I have such a bad feeling about this. AURELIEN: Even though you played your part in bringing this situation about? REBECCA: Especially because of that, Aurelien. Especially.
The Tribunal Chamber, Everyone as before. ISHAQ stands in the center.
ISHAQ: …Furthermore, in its ruthless campaign of enslaving, corrupting or killing magi of the Order of Hermes, and possibly of our fellow Traditions, these undead sorcerers and sympathizers to the outcast House Tremere have set themselves in a state of war long after the original hostilities had ceased. It is an act of aggression that can no longer be tolerated. Therefore, let it be known that on this day, the twenty-first day of January, A.D. 2000, the Order of the Quaesitori hereby declares Wizards’ March against House Tremere and all members and associates therein, living or undead. Their lives, property and souls are forfeit. Let the wrath of the Order of Hermes lay waste to our enemies. Ave Hermes.