The Eternal City

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That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.


Dr. Mary Witherspoon brushed a lock of her chestnut brown hair over her right ear as she peered at the cargo manifest. A team from the National Museum of Rome had discovered a previously undiscovered section of ancient Rome that had been built and paved over the centuries. Several structures were still largely intact and many pieces were discovered that completely overwhelmed the local staff. They had contacted the British Museum for assistance. Forty eight crates with over 300 newly found ancient Roman artifacts had been shipped to the Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum by Italian authorities to assist with their identification and certification of their authenticity. As one of the chief Professor’s it fell to Witherspoon to log the pieces in and determine which sub departmental teams were best suited to examine the pieces.

She removed her glasses to rub at the bridge of her nose. While she relished the opportunity to be the first to look at the once in a lifetime treasure trove in front of her, by the looks of the manifest it was mostly nick knacks and common items. It certainly would speak to how the ancient people of Rome lived but Witherspoon longed for something unique, something that gave a unique insight a find the likes of Kings Tut’s tomb, or deciphering the Rosetta stone.

“Well, back to work.” She muttered to herself as she removed the top of the nearest crate. Inside were four cases specially designed for the transport of fragile artifacts. The seals also limit the amount of oxygen and erosion from the air after being sealed for so many centuries. Witherspoon took these cases and brought them into the examination room and proceeded to suit up. The manifest listed the items as a box, two vases, and some figurines.

After assembling the pieces along the examination table she marvel at their condition. The vases were still intact and had much of their original artwork visible but it was the box that held her attention. It was made of metal and stone and yet was not terribly heavy. She was able to make out a pair of hinges on one of the longer sides indicating that it was intended to open yet she had yet to figure out how. The tableau of figures suggested to her that they were a collection of the Roman pantheon as if acting as guardians to the contents inside.

“SNAP!” one of her fingers must have triggered something for the lid cracked open just a little bit. She sat the box back down and gingerly opened the lid to peer inside. Sitting on top was a figurine that depicted five individuals. It was of unusual craftsmanship as items this small usually did not have the level of detail of the sculptures and busts that were common of the era, yet this small piece did. However this belonged to knew a very skilled craftsman and likely was quite affluent. Setting the figurine aside she found a medallion with a red cross intersected with a “P” it was laced one both sides by a leather straps and some beads, many of them missing. She knew the symbol was a reference to the early Christians but was unfamiliar with this particular usage of the symbol. Curious, the use of Christian symbols inside a box that had the Roman pantheon on it did not make sense. Who did these belong to? She wondered. Finally the last item she carefully removed from the box.

This was what she had been hoping to find. Several fragile pages were bound together in a folio. The pages were crinkly but seemed to be written on sturdier material then papyrus or paper. The writing was tiny and compact as if for personal use and not for any official capacity. The condition of the material and tiny writing made it difficult to read and would require a linguist expert on ancient Latin. Yet, she wanted an idea of what it was, who wrote it, what was the subject, who was the intended audience? All these questions rattled in her head as she attempted to put together the first sentence.

“I, Claudius Drusus Germanicus Maximus This-that-and-the-other who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and associates as Drusus the Herald,” am now about to write this tragic history of the fall of the Eternal City starting from the height of Pax Romana when a coterie erupts into the Necropolis and continuing year by year until we reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the end of the siege that we suddenly found ourselves caught in whirlwind of deceit and treachery.”

“Dear Lord”, she thought. “It’s a Diary!”

The Coterie - Part 1
Linius Scipio

I, Claudius Drusus Germanicus Maximus This-that-and-the-other who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and associates as Drusus the Herald,” am now about to write this tragic history of the fall of the Eternal City starting from the height of Pax Romana when a coterie erupts into the Necropolis and continuing year by year until we reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the end of the siege that we suddenly found ourselves caught in whirlwind of deceit and treachery.

I suppose it began during the 19th year of Marcus Aurelius Antoninnus Augustus. Yet before that I should introduce the cast that shaped events from the Necropolis. A young man of the Scipio family who were not as powerful as his Patriarch would have him and others believe. Oh to be sure they had held a Governor’s position during the days of the Republic and even now the Patriarch was a member of the Senate. Yet to call that position important would be quite laughable. Yet the Patriarch was ambitious and went about solidifying his gains and seeking to purify his lineage. The elder was groomed as was the custom of the day to be a mighty soldier in the XXX Ulpia Legion in northern Germanicus. The Eldest was everything the Patriarch wasn’t; brave, honest, and a good heart. He was a Roman cut from the days of heroes, Julius, Antony, Pompeii, and others. Tragedy that he was born at a time so rife with personal glory and ambition.

The second oldest Linius was sent to join the Navy, a commission as Tribune was secured. This occupation would tan his skin and make of his physique a sinewy hide of a sailor at sea. Yet the navies had not truly been utilized in quite some time so he was relegated to pirate duty and the seizing, cataloging, and shipment of the valuable cargo of conquest; slaves.
Woe onto poor Linius that his striking looks did catch the eye of lascivious Greek. She collected pretty things and Liniuis was certainly pretty. But as quickly as she had collected him she grew bored with him and dumbed unceremoniously in the Legio Mortuum within Rome. He still had his mortal family and now as an honored ancestor he would see to what heights he could gain to usher in his Patriarch’s grand designs.

Before he could make his moves he knew the taint that was his parentage and lacking the support of his elder brother he would need a moral compass to guide his feet. For this reason before he could make any moves for power and glory he would need an ally to watch his back and counsel him so that he would not engage in the kind of cruelty that his Patriarch displayed on a nightly basis. Additionally if he could avoid the callousness of his Sire, that would be useful too.

Fortunately he had such a source in his shield mate, Gaius Maximillian.

The Coterie - Part 2

Giaus Maximillion was embraced on the fields of Germania. His barbarian sire likely intended for him to be driven by his feral blood to rebel against the Necropolis and it’s Julli masters. Instead a loyal member of the legions was embraced that night. For Gaius was of Italain stock and was loyal to Rome through and through.

His family were landed individuals having inherited their lands during the Punic wars. While not being of great influence they had cultivated many grape fields and had begun to present notable vintages of wine to the citizens of Rome. His father had always stressed simple living and classic Roman virtues. His appointment to Centurion status would provide the finances for the next generation to improve and expand their wine production. So it was that young Giaus found himself in Germania on campaign to push back the Barbarians and conquer more territory for the glory of Rome.

Gaius would fall in within the Legio Mortuum a natural fit for a soldier and sought to in undeath to take on those same duties he had held in life. He was committed to maintain those virtues his father aspired and kept a close eye on his holdings and his family. In those early nights it was by his voice of reason and counsel that would lead the coterie on more moderate and moral actions. He would often advocate mercy and justice over petty revenge.

His was a natural countenance with which Linus could aspire to. A moral compass as it were to guide his actions on his path of ambition. Ensuring that Gaius was in the same squad as Linus, Linus cultivated a friendship and comradery ensuring that the noble Gaius would cover his back for all time.

With his compass in hand, it was time for Linus to work out a path to as seat on the Senux that he felt was his by birthright. Fickle that fate was it was denied to him by the blood of his sire. He would be faced with a long arduous campaign for a seat unless he could ally with a patron that could sponsor his ascent.

He believed he had found such a willing dupe in Dinius…

The Coterie - Part 3
Dinius the Julli

Linus needed a proxy, someone he could ally and ideally influence to sponsor and promote a seat for himself on the Senux. Linus was of noble Roman stock. His Patriarch was a Senator, and ancestor had served as Governor, Linus himself had served as Tribune. His families contributions alone should have afforded a seat on the Senux. But alas his sire was a Greek, and only the Julii were granted seats by birth, all others had to earn by merit. And when you served for centuries then it took a long time to earn by merit.

Dinius was one such privileged personage. He sat in the back of the seats content to let the political play work it’s way out. Lending his support only on matters that affected his personal matters. All others he let it go this way or that as the winds of persuasion played. This uncaring attitude was galling enough but it was the simple background Dinius had that really annoyed the young Daeva.

Dinius traded in flesh, a slave trader of grand influence. He maintained the single largest trade operation in Rome against five other competitors. This was not a recent thing but a profession he held in life having carved out a significant enterprise at an early age. He had many managers but had direct interaction having not obtained the level of success in life that would allow him to disassociate from the profession. In undeath he found he no longer cared and did not bother to make pretense of higher principals.

That is all that is known of his history I am afraid. He never made mention of his human past or of his sire. While few know what it was that caught his sire’s eye, when Dinius rose to speak in the Senux all knew exactly why it was that he was embraced.

Cicero was a pale imitation in the wake of Dinius’ oratory skills. His powers of persuasion could convince the seven hills of Rome to rearrange himself. His darkened Mediterranean skin stood out in the marble white of the Senux, as he forces his will on all in attendance. All were in awe when he choose to lend himself to a cause. By Jupiter, if he had but asked I would have served under him time and time again. But that came later, for now he was patiently letting others do his work.

So crafty he was to this night it is hard to ascertain who was truly the brains behind the coterie. Both Linus and Dinius were skilled political manipulators and it was clear their alliance while hardly noticed at the time sealed the earth shattering events yet to come. Nothing overcame the coterie as long as they stood together. If one fell the coterie would soon follow.

Dinius was fortunate to know Dinius in life and had supplied much of Dinius’ ‘supplies’. The connection proved useful in cementing the alliance and the coterie was finally cemented. Dinius would bring with him a useful Vaticinator, that had officiated over all of his business transactions. Perhaps nothing more than a good luck charm, the man had something useful…true faith.

Titus, Vaticinator of Janus would provide the spiritual guidance of the coterie.

The Coterie - Part 4

Where to begin with Titus? Once it was common that every business transaction, every important vote of the Senux, military campaign, and so on and so forth; was officiated by a member of the Cult of Augurs. It was only natural and right that each coterie have a Vaticinator to officiate and consult the will of the gods. It mattered little who your primary god of choice was, what was important was the ritual and grace granted by their wills.

Not unlike their live counterparts, many could be bribed and corruption rang rampant with the ‘good will’ up for the highest bidder. Yet, many still held true to the old ways. Many were not afraid to present news of bad omens and that things should be delayed or a different action taken. Even if the vision seen was different from the desired outcome it was hard not to admire those true in the faith.

One such true believer was Titus. A man of firm conviction is his primary belief in the order of Janus, the two headed god. Titus was clean shaven in the style of the early Empire and a more wiry man then the others of the coterie. Often contemplative he sought to lead the Cult of Augurs and preached that a Roman life was a godly life.

Dinius had been in need of a Vaticinator to oversee his business transactions. Knowing that a true believer blessing any dealings that he made, few would object to the outcome. Even better for Dinius they would see that a blessed dealing with Dinius was a blessed deal for them, that even in losing they were winning in the eyes and favors of the gods.

The coterie was now at four with two up and coming Legionaries, soldiers to defend and protect the coterie. Direct access to the Senux, and all its official actions. Now with Titus they had spiritual guidance to help direct the path. The only missing component was a means to gather and collect information.

For that the only one to seek Linus and his coterie out and not the other way around, came the spider….Aielith.


The Coterie - Final

Aielith. How the word just fills the mouth with bile. Spider. Thief. Worm. All these things she was called and more. And she earned every one of those epitaphs. She was the only one of the coteries that was not approached as part of Linus’ grand plan. Instead it was she who sought the coterie out. She was in need of protection and this young coterie had a need, a need only she could provide.

She hailed from Hiberia and rumor had it she once had a lovely head of red. All I knew of her was a bald and hairless thing that a sane man would never have trusted. Taken prisoner from Britania to Hibernia before eventually being dragged across Europa, or perhaps it was the other way round? It matters little, what is known is she was not Roman, dumbed in the gutters without family or connection. A bereft worm in our glorious city.

Yet she was a dutiful member of the Perigrine Collegia, that august body to ensure that all had a voice that all may bring grievance before the Camarilla and a just cause would gain redress. But it never hurts to have friends, and so Aielith sought the coterie out. And offer them her skills in information and secrets.

Aielith had many friends in many places across Rome. Many of them were small fries but she was determined to weave a web of contacts and allies in veritable nest of secrets. She’d be the coterie’s underhand and ferret out the things that the coterie would need to maintain an edge against their foes.

The coterie was fully formed and had been working together for a few years but had yet to make a move. It was imperative that they work out a patron, and fortune smiled upon them with an invitation to a party…


First Nights - Part 1
The Invitation

hqdefault.jpgThe invitation was sent out during the fall of the 19th year of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The Emperor was on campaign in Vindobona against the Eastern Germanic tribes. As was custom, a Julli named Marcus Corbollo sought to have a massive fette. It was his emergence into a position of influence and power an opportunity for him to take on clients seeking a patron. The invitation was to come to the Flavian Amphitheater to watch grand entertainment.

The massive coliseum was arranged for a massive night display. There were animals galore and several slaves that would engage in combat. Corbollo promised that the climax of the evening festivities would be a re-enactment of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps! He had invited many to attend, and there was a great showing of the Ancestors both powerful and small. The entire quarter of the amphitheater was filed with the spectators.

The coterie arrived and Aielith, not one for social gatherings, slinked off to explore the grounds. The rest entered the noble quarter of the stands and met Corbollo. He was a fat corpulent man who was gorging himself on food and blood. His hangers on all had the look of sycophants and lap dogs. They recited bad poetry. Yet they had the look of practicality about them and seemed to be made up of those with more mercantile interests.

Linus and Gaius were disgusted and had a difficult time hiding their displeasure in their hosts presence. At first opportunity they excused themselves and mingled with the others before spotting a clear rival faction to Corbollo’s corner. Dinius stayed along with Titus. Neither were particularly keen on Corbollo’s ‘interests’ but Dinius saw a Julli he could deal with and someone that likely he could gain influence over and flip the patron/client relationship. Dinius would be no one’s pawn. Titus was present to smooth negotiations and show how the gods favored Dinius.

Dinius and Gaius went over and were introduced to Julia Commitor. Here they found a more refined entourage who were disgusted at Corbollo’s flagrant bloody display of excess. If the two were expecting to find a kindred spirit regarding humanity, they were quickly dissuaded. Commitor’s faction clearly were into luxury and dominance of their lessor’s. Commitor would sip from a slave’s wrist and speak of vintage of the blood. Excusing themselves they went to take a look at the entertainment.

They did not appear to like their options and choice of patrons. It appeared the coterie would ally itself with Marcus Corbollo by default per the negotiations of Dinius. Yet at that particular moment a roar was heard as at the far end of the field, elephants, lions, lemurs, zebras, and other animals of all kinds came stampeding up from below. As many gladiators were still in the midst of the planned exercise the whole arena became consumed in chaos. An elephant charged at the spectators and the wall that Linus and Gaius stood shuttered. This was the cue to leave as Corbollo leapt to his feet and began shouting order to being things under control.

It took awhile but his men took down the animals and restored order to the Coliseum. Many slaves were dead on the ground in much blood and gore. Corbollo had regained control of the situation but his party was over, ended prematurely and the Coterie among others forced to retire for the evening. They contemplated their next move and how to proceed the night goal a complete bust.

The next evening the coterie was summarily arrested to stand trial…

First Nights - Part 2
The Trial

The coterie was rounded up save Dinius who was afforded house arrest. In time they were brought before the body of the Senux, the Camarilla. There they were accused of crimes of misconduct, having disrupted the party to embarrass Marcus Corbollo. They were charged with having set loose the animals below and risking great expense.

Dinius would speak on behalf of the coterie, a daring move for one so young, but he had the right by virtue of his seat. He stood after Octavius gave a stirring speech with the evidence against them. Aielith had been seen in the lower regions of the Coliseum and had obviously set the animals loose. Linius and Gaius were had been disdainful of the gathering’s host and had obviously been league with Corbollo’s opponent Julia Commitor.

Dinius stood eloquently and used gestures of piercing logic. Firstly had he not personally been negotiating with Corbollo? True Linius and Giaus had been speaking with Commitor, but to do otherwise would have been disrespectful. And the coterie was not never disrespectful. Finally, Aielith had indeed been down below but she had seen that Corbollo’s right hand aide Caius Maltinus had himself let the animals out. It was his act of betrayal that had caused the embarrassment and not the action of an innocent disinterested coterie. If any had doubt, Titus would provide an augury to demonstrate the rightness of their case.

Titus stepped forward and they brought in a goat for sacrifice. Titus took his knife out and did read from the entrails. It was clear from all in attendance, even the head of the Cult of Augurs had to agree that the augury demonstrated that the coterie were in the gods favor. Immediate calls went out to Caius who was quickly tried and convicted. He was stripped of all rank and privileges, tossed to the Perigrine Collegia.

The coterie exonerated triumphantly retreated in the Necropolis. Word reached them that night that Pollia Enapia, an ancient in the Necropolis would treat with the coterie. They were escorted to the oldest sections of the Palatine Hill. Deep in the tunnels below they met with the ancient. They mustered their courage to face her as she supped from her childer.
She was impressed with their defense and as such knew that they had made a powerful enemy in Corbollo and his backers. Commitor had no interest in them and would not risk a direct confrontation with Corbollo. But Pollia had no such limitations and was approaching a time of sleep. She needed good hands to help her children manage their affairs.

However, she had to test their resourcefulness before the pact could be cemented.
Rumors had been heard from the front of Vindobona. A full legion of the Legio Mortuum had gone missing. IF a serious threat was posed to face off against the Propinqui they needed to find out soon. The coterie was to head out to the front and find out the details of the disappearance and return. The coterie having little alternatives accepted the commission.

The next night they packed and prepared to head north our of Rome…

Matter of Horses

Milan.jpgThe Coterie left and headed north along the road. It was a largely uneventful trip on foot towards the next major city of Mediolanum. The only thing of note was a series of crucified criminals that had defied the Empire. Arriving into the city the coterie noted the presence of the Camarilla who aided in providing the information that they knew and any assistance that they could provide to the envoys of mighty Rome. It had been several nights so the coterie was rather hungry.

They had travelled by foot and at Mediolanum it was offered that they might purchase the use of horses to speed their effort at alleviating the scene at their final destination. Linius initially suggested that it would prove beneficial to ghoul the horses to augment them for their purposes. Giaus agreed that this would be quite useful. Aielith protested quite forcibly and that even if the others ghouled their horses she would not do her own and ultimately they would be forced to proceed at the pace of her all to normal horse. With much reluctance they acceded to her request.

They heard word that the legion they were seeking had been called to the scene of the front to pursue the nemesis. Little really information of the nemesis was forthcoming merely that they were ancient enemies to the Camarilla and the Julii specifically. A fearsome enemy that can take on many Propinqui at one time so necessitating the need for a full legion to deal with.
Such fearsome new led the to ride with full haste to their destination…


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