OOC wrote:Kinda like Smyg's, this playthrough is sort of a crossover. Unlike Smyg's, I'm borrowing heavily and discarding what I dislike. But the name of the game here is, as I'm sure many of you might have assumed, a crossover with the Classic World of Darkness game Vampire: the Masquerade. If you're not familiar, not only is it my favorite tabletop game (despite it being terrible at times and very, very 90s at others, but it's famous for its convoluted metaplot. In the Stellaris version of the setting, it is 196 years since the Final Nights, a world-shattering event which led to the death of several vampire progenitors (called Antediluvians), including their father Caine (as in the Biblical Cain) when global society fell apart. Leaders of the Cult of the Dark Mother, called Bahari, aided Lilith -the lover of Jehovah, mate of Adam, inspiration of the Morningstar, and snake in Eden- in her return to greatest. And as humanity is brought under tow, made stronger by the Mother's blessings of pain and tribulation, our story begins.
"May those who know me see the marks of biting. And bruises which betray a happy love! In love I want to weep or see you weeping, To agonize or hear your agony." -Propertius
In the lash, there is love; a tender reminder that even gods can be hurt. In a lover's embrace, there is pain; the knowledge that this too will not last.
Romero Mardi (Father Mardi, he called himself now), a fledgling turned a step closer to divinity on the streets of old Cumana, reminded himself of these words. It had been nearly two centuries since the Red Star had risen over the sky and refused to leave until the Mother had tasted the blood of the First Murderer, and even in its absence, the bloody sigil had become a rallying cry for the children of Caine and those who claimed Lilith's heritage by birth or boldness alike. Sure, their flag was the wreath of thorns -it seemed fitting, for as Christ had been condemned to it, so too had He gained his wisdom- and it was that which rose over their newest corvettes, small, mobile ships piloted by human (kine, that was what they were called- a fitting term for those destined to be little more than cattle) sailors. It was fitting for the way the children of the night had claimed dominion over humanity, first with the seductive beauty of the rose, and then, drop by drop, by the blood pricked from the thorns, until the nations of old were no more, the Second City of the pretender Caine destroyed, and the Garden of Bahar -where Lilith had once met Lucifer- rebuilt.
But the lesson in thorns was one of brute pain. It spoke little of true suffering, one found not in a lover's embrace, but the lack thereof.
His maker, Eudocia, had climbed through the ranks of the cutthroat Circle that shadowed the priesthood of the Bahari. She was wise without mercy, committed to reform without idealism, and far more pragmatic than most of the would-be sorcerers and vampires that were more content to study the arcane or harangue their kine servitors over the vagaries of what the Mother of Monsters taught. In truth, it was simple: the strong survived, and thoe strongest of those learned only from pain, pleasure, and the wisdom to be had in both. Only eternity could provide that lesson, and that was why the Bahari remained dependent on their human chattel: beyond the Final Nights, the Blood still called to them. They were not true immortals, not with their petty squabbling and the shortage of decent feeding opportunities.
And it would continue to do so, even as the Children of Lilith, the blood-seeking monsters of old, sought a future beyond the stars. Even as Father Mardi waited, for the affection of a woman that would never come. In these times, he remembered the oath of old.
When first I tasted the Fruit of the trees, felt the seeds of Life and Knowledge burn within me, I swore that day I would never go back.
When first I tasted the flesh of the kill, felt the tang of the blood and the crunch of the bones, I swore that day I would not die.
When first I tasted my own blood, felt the surge and the stir of my own life on my lips, I swore that day to love myself.
When first I tasted the light of the moon, felt it's glow in my womb and it's wild tenderness, I swore that day to walk in Night.
When first I tasted the love of a god, felt the tearing rise of song and fire, I swore that day to cherish the flesh.
When first I tasted the salt of the sea, felt my blood become water as the sky fell behind me, I swore that day to descend and return with wonders.
When first I tasted the love of a child, screamed with the joy of new life and wept for what I had lost and gained, I swore that day to nurture life even as I cherished death.
I swear by three times three times three that these seven moments shall remain my own, and whatever may transpire, no beast nor god nor man shall take them from me. I swear by myself and my immortality.