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Timjames

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The Northern Giovanni

An account by Justus Giovanni of his tenure as Prince of Lübeck

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Table of Contents
Prologue
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Epilogue

Other Useful Links
Clan Giovanni
Princes of Darkness
Version on Princes of Darkness Wiki
 
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Prologue
I was born in 1070, to Claudius and Bria Giovanni. I remember growing up in the large palace on the shore of the Adriatic Sea. I remember playing in the gardens with the other children, being sang to sleep by my mother, the taste of fresh bread in my mouth, and the feeling of sunlight on my skin on a summer day.

I also remember my embrace.

"Since the time of the Romans, we had control over the powers of life and death", the older relatives of the family would tell me and the other children, while watching us carefully so see which ones sat down to listen and which ones ignored them to go off and play.

The year is now 1229. I look as I did when I received the embrace from my father at 25. Most of my playmates are dead now. My mother is as well. So many years passed.

"Here we are", my father said coldly, shaking me out of my train of thought.
Claudius2.jpg

I stand before the large bronze doors leading into the office of Augustus Giovanni, the Patriarch. I understood that utmost respect was required in his presence.

I entered, bowed in deference to the eternal head of the family.

Augustus2.jpg

"Justus, nipote, I have an important task for you."

I nod, allowing him to describe it.

"While the Mediterranean is the commercial center of Christendom, trade is growing in the north. I need you to travel to the Baltic Sea and oversee our family's infiltration of the Hanseatic League. You will be far away from the family, so I need someone I know will not put himself first. That is why I chose you specifically for this task; you know your place."

It hurt to hear this, but he is right. I am not an ambitious man. In fact, this is why my father embraced me; he wanted someone he knew would not betray him. And indeed, I lived up to this expectation.

"Go to Holstien and establish yourself there. We'll give you a few mortal relatives to follow you, and some agents, but that's all. Don't expect further support from the family - we're busy as it is without having to bail you out."

"I will not fail you", I say, my lip quivering. Despite my age, when I stand under this man's gaze I feel like the young boy I was so long ago.

"See to it that you don't. If you fail then don't bother to come back at all!"

With that, Augustus went back to the paperwork at his desk - ignoring my father and I completely. Father led me out of the room.

"Come, there is a ship ready to take you to the Baltic Sea. Don't let us down."
 
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This is the World of Darkness mod, right?

It looks interesting. Subscribed.
 
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He made several discoveries on the voyage, including the sites of present-day New York Harbor, Block Island, and Narragansett Bay, and was the first European explorer to name newly discovered North American sites after persons and places in the Old World. regards
 
Chapter 1: Mad Princes

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Chapter 1

The carriage ride was uneventful. By day we traveled in coffins in windowless carriages, and by night I sated my thirst in the cemeteries and mausoleums of the Holy Roman Empire. I made it my habit to feed from the dead, to avoid harming the living unnecessarily, and as a result acquiring vitae was a trivial matter.

When I finally arrived in the duchy of Holstien, I was summoned to the city of Hamburg. However, I researched the area well before my arrival and knew better than to walk into a trap. Duke Midian, Prince of Hamburg, was a known diablerist. Not one kindred lived within the city besides him, and I was not about to surrender my soul to him. So instead of walking into a trap I countered his offer; I would meet him on neutral grounds or not at all. Perhaps impressed by foresight, or perhaps hoping to toy with me further, Midian granted me the Princedom of Lübeck as his vassal. Here I found that a handful of leading merchants of the city already knew to pay a portion of their profits to the princedom, but this city only had a few kindred under it. Some would scoff at such a paltry domain, but I saw the potential in it - it was poised to profit from the rising Hanseatic League.

The first night I arrived there, I told one of my human followers I intended to survey the city. I decided to go alone, hoping as a new arrival I would attract little attention. This was a mistake that almost cost me dearly. As I was examining a vender's stall, a vampire assassin charged at me. I ran for my life back to my haven, and once the door was closed behind me, I pretended not to notice when my kine adviser sighed disappointedly.

I realized I would need allies to survive. I began by reaching out to Yannis Lu Grico, my second cousin and my father's only other embrace. He was Prince of Knin, so I hoped we could support each other. But when my messenger returned it was with bad news; Yannis was ousted and forced to flee. Running out of options, I reached out to the Prince of Nürnberg. He agreed to an alliance, on the condition that I marry his childe.

When the carriage arrived, his childe stepped out. Her name was Froizza Yima, from Clan Nosferatu. Her body was covered in open sores and scars, and her face was so disfigured she wore a mask to hide it. Taking a deep breath, I tried to give her a chance.

"Welcome to my Princedom, my bride", I said to her. "Are you collecting a royal duty?", she asked. I shook my head. I had decided to let my people enjoy the celebration without financial woes.

Froizza scoffed. "I married a weakling! Ugh! Let's get this over with."

The wedding was conducted in a Catholic Church and officiated by a kindred who had been a priest before his embrace. I hoped we could at least get along.

Soon after, Sarus, the Prince of Dithmarschen, rose in revolt against Duke Midian. I joined him, and together our armies marched on Hamburg. Sarus and I watched from a hill as hundreds of kine tore into each other in the grassy field outside the city. Beggars, criminals, mercenaries, all hacking and stabbing and punching at each other. By the end of it, Hamburg's rabble fled the field and Duke Midian agreed to surrender control of the Duchy to his childe Wichbert.

"We know when we're not wanted!", Midian said.

But peace would not last. Reports came in or gruesome sacrifices and rites in Hamburg, and of the desecration of churches and synagogues. Sure enough, one spy confirmed my suspicion - Wichbert was an Infernalist.

I met with Sarus at an abandoned mill between our two realms to discuss how to handle this.

"Ready for another war?", he asked, a strange smile on his bearded face.

So it was that we declared war once again - this time for Independence. Our rabbles forced open the walls of Hamburg and a large battle took place in the city. Kine historians would call this a riot, and attribute it to excesses of a brutal street gang. But in the end Wichbert fled the city in the night as his haven burned, and his mortal supporters were slain. Infernalist Books and parchments were sent back to Hell in a large bonfire, and the Midian bloodline left Europe - hopefully never to return.

I was very vulnerable on my own, so I appealed to the Fiefs of the Black Cross for vassalage. When I entered the throne room in Frankfurt, I was surprised to see not Hardestat the Master but his childe - Michael Scot. This man was a genius mathematician in life, but he was still a neonate and ill-equipped to rule over so many elder kindred. Nonetheless, once I knelt before him my Princedom was added to the Fiefs.

I was ill at ease with Sarus so close. After all, he was a Malkavian too - the same blood that flowed in Midian flowed in him as well. So, with the help of my ally, I declared war on him. I marched out at the head of my rabble, and met the rabble and great rat horde of Nürnberg. Unfortunately, this proved to be too much for us - the Dithmarschen swamps slowed and cut down our rabble with disease, while the locals waged a guerrilla war on us. By the time Sarus' forces fell upon us, we could not fight back. In order to let the Prince of Nürnberg and I return home with our lives, he required a great deal of gold from me and a promise not to attack him again for half a decade. I returned to

Seeing so much suffering, I realized I needed new answers that Via Mercator could not provide. So I chose to adopt the path my wife and her sire trod - Via Humanitas. I read books on the teachings of Dionysius, and I made an effort to relate to the kine of my city. This would be the best decision I ever made, and one that would set me on a good path.
 
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Well, someone likes debauchery... or will, soon enough.

Trading one overlord for another might have been unwise.
 
Chapter 2: Bullions and Buebos New

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For a time, things began to slow down. I collected gold tribute from the kine merchants under my influence, then invested it back into the local economy. Went out at night alone and held fine Elysiums to rebuild my reputation in the eyes of my peers, and convinced the Monarch of the Fiefs to fund the development of Lübeck. Settlers were sent from Frankfurt to make their home in this land, and the Monarch even built a trade town closer to the shore - Femora. I used my gold to build an abbey town - Kiln - and to invest in the growing Burgher Class of the cities. As majority shareholder in most of the trade companies in Lübeck and its immediate surrounding areas, I paid off my debts and made wealth.

Giovanni managed to convince the head of Clan Cappadocian to focus more on finances, so I was able to build seneschal offices - places where my own businessmen would operate, make investments, collect interest and shares, and generally help the whole country prosper. In turn, I worked to develop the county and required my court to make regular contact with the kine of the city from different walks of life and to learn from them. Over time I became a beloved leader in the county, and a proponent of its prosperity. My wife Froizza constantly complained that I showed too much care for the kine, but I put up with it.

One day, I received a message from the King of Burgundy, Guillaume.

"In a few days' time my vile vassal, Duchess Alacrinis, will travel through Lübeck. If you orchestrate an ambush and capture her, I will reward you generously. If you accept my offer, you will get half of the money now, and the other half when you turn over the prisoner."

My wife advised me take the offer. My heart told me to reject it out of hand. But my ghoul, Hals, suggested a good compromise - I accept the first half of the money, but instead of ambushing Alacrinis I should warn her and pretend the ambush just failed. Burgundy is outside the Fief, so he can not reasonably retaliate.

I went with this, and summoned Alacrinis to my court. She arrived in my haven. She was a beautiful woman with blond hair like gold, eyes like stars, and red lips. She wore a black habit and a red cross, a sign of her Noddist faith.



"Prince Giovanni, why have you summoned me?", she asked.

"Your liege tried to hire me to ambush you and hand you to him in chains. Why he wanted this I do not know."

I handed her the letter and saw her eyes narrow in anger.

"You are a most honorable man, Prince Justus Giovanni. I owe you my freedom - perhaps even my unlife. Who knows what that impotent leech would have done with me had I needed up in his dungeon?" She shuddered, clearly imagining possibilities and finding them gross.

"I will return the favor, I swear it!"

I smiled. "Well, I know one way you can. I am isolated up here, with mad Quiritares for neighbors and cruel norsemen across the sea. I need allies."

She put her hand on her chest. "I am honored by your request, and I would be glad to call you an ally."

She returned home, and I declared another war for Dithmarschen. This time I was joined not only by Prince Nürnberg but also by Duchess Alacrinis. Our three armies overwhelmed the Dithmarschen, going from village to village and removing the mad ghouls and mortal thugs who worked for Sarus. Those agents who surrendered were allowed to leave with their lives intact, and even in villages where the thugs fought on I made sure my men would spare the civilians. When I arrived at Sarus' haven, it was abandoned with only a note on the door.

"The county is yours."

"You have my thanks", I told my two allies. "Come, let us celebrate." The three of use went to my haven for a small, impromptu Elysium. Herdsmen, corpses from the battle, and cows were gathered to feed on. Musicians began to play. But it was interrupted with news.

"My Prince", the messenger said, "Patriarch Augustus Giovanni has been killed."

"Who rules the family now?", I asked.

The messenger paused before answering. "Nobody. The family is scattered, with every scion for themself. Your father and sire, Claudius, still holds Krete, and many relatives fled with him there. But others seek to live with you."

"They shall find shelter here. Now let me think ... this changes much."

The little Elysium was cancelled prematurely, and my two allies returned home. Alacrinis swore to make her liege pay, and Nürnberg had his own plans. I did not enquire what they were.

I will not lie - my grandfather's death was a relief. It felt as though a great weight was lifted from me, and I would no longer have to fear the wrath of the Anziani. Moreover, whatever terrible plans Augustus had would follow him to the grave. But when you spend so long with your destiny in the hands of others, suddenly gaining the reigns for yourself can be a frightening prosect.



I sat down to think, but I did not have long to do so. Froizza came in, irate. "Why have you cancelled the celebrations!"

"I have much to focus on-"

"Enough of your excuses! All you care about is this pigsty and the kine! You really are pathetic!"

My head was throbbing, my hands were shaking, and something snapped in me. "Leave."

"Oh no, you are going to listen to all my-"

"Leave! That's an order! Guards, escort this woman out of the room."

They dragged her out, with her screaming that I'd hear from as soon as she saw me again. It occurred to me that I liked freedom after all, and I wanted more of it. I called the kindred priest who officiated my ceremony and requested an annulment - he agreed in exchange for six months of free rent for his haven. A fair trade.

Froizza only learned of this when my messengers met her while she was out feeding and told her to leave the city and never return. I am told her reaction almost violated the masquerade. Of course, my alliance with Nürnberg ended, but I couldn't care less.

I declared myself Duke of Holstien, to celebration and joy. I spent then next year focusing on my realm. Part of that duty was meeting with my new vassal - the revenant Grimaldi family. They were driven out of Italy and scattered, with their last holding being a barony my new county. The Baron Grimaldi was a cruel and vile man, but his younger son was a kind soul - he was the only one in my visit who asked me how I was. Thus, it was to him that I granted the county of Dithmarschen.



After a year, I decided I no longer wanted to be alone. But this time I would not marry for politics; I would marry for love. I began by turning my eyes to Burgundy, but unfortunately that was not an option. The perfidious King Guillaume met his ends at the hands of the Shadow Inquisition, but sweet Duchess Alacrinius failed in her revolt and was imprisoned by Guillaume's childe. I could only mourn and look elsewhere.

Finally, I found her. Her name was Gunebrith Medon, and she was everything my ex wasn't. She was calm, patient, and forgiving. Not to mention she was pretty too.

When she gave me a proper bow. "I accept your proposal for marriage", she said respectfully like a true Ventrue. We were wedded that night, and I made sure every night since to show her courtesy and romance. I remembered her favorite songs, I picked flowers for her, I wrote her a love poem under the base of a beautiful oak tree, and we conversed for hours on end. When I could cause her to naturally smile it made my heart flutter.

Finally, one night I heard screaming from her chamber. I entered it to see her struggling for her life against a kindred assassin, one holding a knife to her throat. My vision turned red, but when I came to my Gunebrith was safe and my clothes were covered in dust. The two of us spent the night in my chamber, and only learned the next day that my servants found among the ashes a letter from the assassin's employer. It was my ex. I mailed the ashes back to Nürnberg with a letter firmly demanding this not happen again. I don't know what the Prince of Nürnberg said to his childe, but I know Froizza never bothered either of us again.



I found my soulmate! I never thought this would happen, but now that it has I do not know how I lived without Gunebrith in my life.

With a new wife, one I could love, I decided to expand my family once more. I would finally embrace a childe. With the influx of refugees and migrants from the northern Adriatic, my city was now more Italian than Saxon. It was like the Venice of the North, a place of art and commerce. And among this throng were several kine Giovanni. I chose one of them for my embrace. Her name was Elisabetta, and she was a distant cousin. She was an excellent steward, diligent like myself and single-minded, and she knew how to lie and keep secrets too. I believed she could survive in kindred society without losing her soul, and so offered her the embrace. She quickly proved herself, and became my new steward.

Elisabetta
For a time, things went very well. Gold flowed into my pockets and was reinvested, the people were happy and loved my court, and the city was booming. Every month it's development rose.

But then a disease spread across the continent, a horrible ailment that caused those so afflicted to grow horrible buebos and then die in pain. The streets filled with corpses and entire households emptied. I had to enforce a curfew and station guards to prevent retaliation against the Jewish quarter and to squash apocalypse cults that began to emerge. The city of Femera was entirely wiped out, with its infrastructure falling into ruins.

I would have much work to do to restore the city, my city to its former glory, but it was a trifling matter. I rebuilt the seneschal office in Femera, and by petition even convinced Monarch Jurden to grant me the county of Ribe.

I also decided to expand the kindred side of the family by embracing more childer. I already lined up some candidates from the Giovanni kine, all skilled with money. They are Stentore, Ferruccio, Enzo, and Benedetto. I shall embrace them soon"
 
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Chapter 3: The Childe Ascends New

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"My Sire has been murdered!

My name is Ferruccio Giovanni. I was embraced last year by my sire, Justus. He taught me how how to be a good prodigal, how to keep track of coin, and how to manage a court, and now he is gone.

He was diablorized by his own childe, Benedetto. The man was old and nearing death when he was given the gift of eternal life, and he rewards the granter of it like this!? I swear he shall pay.

I sent guards to arrest Benedetto, but he escaped their grasps and fled the court. I am plotting to send assassins after him, to chase him to the ends of the earth of I must. But first I will lay my sire to rest, place his ashes in the mausoleum, and allow a priest to conduct the accorded rites.

At the funeral we all sat respectfully. Even Guenbrith, ever upholding her dignitas, was solemn and withholding her tears. She would weep and rage, but in private.

Shortly after the funeral concluded, I launched a plot to slay my sire’s murderer. The plot was to burn him alive in his makeshift haven. But he survived and fled to the Courts of Love in France. So I waited until I could plot once more. Until then, I worked to rebuild my sire’s city.

As I rebuilt it, I buttered up Benedetto to make him think all was forgiven and even that I desired his friendship. He came back to my court, happy to take a place at my right hand. Instead I bloodhound him, imprisoned him, and consumed his blood as he did to my sire. Vengeance was wrought.

Traitor Jailed.jpg
Once this was done, I felt in a celebratory mood and decided to marry. I chose Pora Vola, a Gangers from Scotland. She was ambitious and diligent like me, a far better fighter than myself, and perhaps a bit paranoid. Once we married I began to romance her, wooing her as my sire wooed his own beloved. One day I walked into her room to find a ghoul assassin dead at her feet, slain with his own sword. Pora’s blood was so hot she took me right there on the floor! That was a night I remember fondly. I learned the Norse language just so I could recall correctly what she shouted as we worked off her excess adrenaline.

With revenge carried out and my family secure, I decided to expand my domain. The Kingdom of Denmark was weakened by a war against Midgard, so I and my father-in-law waged a war to take the county of Slevig. Fortinbras Antasia was not so strong as I thought, especially not with his army depleted.

This wetted my appetite, and I sent my people to establish claims over all the counties in the Kingdom of Denmark. I also arranged for the ruler, King Fortinbras Antasia, to be assassinated by being dragged towards the sunlight while asleep. I of course took care of the traitor among Fortinbras’ guard too; true to my word, he received a manse in my city and a pile of gold.

Now that Fortinbras is dead, his alliances are shattered and his childe is alone. I declared war upon her for my claims. It was hardly a war - with 100 trebuchets in my army I was able to bring down all her havens and batter her cities into surrendering within less than a year.

It is time for House Giovanni to again rule a Kingdom!

Throne.jpg
 

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It's too bad that Alacrinis failed. Still, at least did find someone to marry before he died.

Ferruccio appears cunning. He should be a good ruler...
 
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Chapter 4: Profit and Pain New

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The century wore on, and though it was a turbulent time for others it was not of great excidement for me. I handed out my new titles to fellow Giovanni Kindred. I built up my holdings, settled more Italians in Slevig and Zealand, and built up Seneschal offices. I also waged a war to take the rest of the Danish Penninsula from Pomerania, and gave those new titles to Revenant Families - one to Crassus, one to Gravenor, and one to Bratovitch. I also embraced three childer. Two of them were from the Giovanni kine living in Lübeck, but one of them was not of Giovanni Blood. His name is Lodewyk van Bercken, and I embraced him because of his talent as a jeweler. This caused an uproar in the family, so I married him off to a Giovanni Kindred just to shut up the hardliners - now Lodewyk is part of the family by marriage. Some eastern European slaves, both human and ghoul, fled from Andalusia and sought asylum in my realm. I agreed to settle them in Lübeck and Zealand, and married the leader of the freed slaves to a Giovanni Baron in my realm after she was embraced by a two-bit Gangrel in my city. I mastered Architecture and Avarice, and now will focus on Administration.

I also found out sire's widow, Gunebrith, has a lover. She swears she only got together with him after my sire died, and while I can not prove this is true neither can I disprove her. I choose to give the benefit of the doubt because I could never face my sire if I inadvertently put her for death for a crime she didn't commit.

While I enjoy peaceful times, the wider world is losing its mind. A Lasombra mercenary captain, Alam Khazruid of the Union of Swords, lead a his company on an attack on Castel del Ombro and slew Lasombra himself. Meanwhile, King Kartarirya 'the Many-Armed' of Lanka lead an attack on the Monastery of Semog and slew Tzimisce. Younger Kindred all over Europe are questioning the status que and declaring themselves Free Anarchs.

I reflect on how the fortunes of my house have changed already. The founder of my house is dead, as are all but one of his childer. The sole survivor, Ignazio Giovanni, is confined to a one-county Duchy in Istra. He launched a holy war to take the Kingdom of Sicily from the heathen Nosferatu of House Trajan, a war which I subsidized with gifts of gold, but he failed. The Shadow Inquisition took the island of Krete, driving out the Giovanni from that place as well. It seems that my family, if it should survive, must survive in the North. It bitterly ironic; when my Sire was sent to the north of the continent Lübeck was just an outpost of the family and a small town. Now it's the family's beating heart and perhaps it's last true refuge.

The century came to a close with the Council of Thorns. I was there as an observer, though as I was not the head of the clan I had no say in the outcome. The Camarilla was proposed as a great plan to suppress the Anarch revolt, but in the end little came of it - only Clan Tremere and Clan Nosferatu joined this project. The rest of the clans either remained neutral, like my own Clan, or joined the Anarchs. A few, like Ventrue, went further and joined a sinister cult called the Sabbat. This was too far for me, so I launched an independence revolt with the aid of King Rutor of Poland. We besieged a number of castles around the Elbe river, then while that distracted the Ventrue armies I sailed across the north sea and laid siege to Aachen and the other great castles of the Rhine. In the end, the Ventrues let me go free.

Still feeling vulnerable on my own, I swore fealty to Midgard. The century drags on, but I suspect there is still much for me to accomplish. Torpor can wait.
 
Chapter 5: The Valkyrie's Court New

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I began by striking up a friendship with my new liege; she was appreciative, giving me a sword in a show of appreciation for my work. Next I continued to economically develop my capital city. Every building I had in Lübeck was upgraded to the fullest amount, and all that remained to me was to grow its population. I shall fulfill my father's dream of turning Lübeck into a metropolis. Forget Venice; it shall be a greater city than even Enoch!

I also saw Selvig grow from a small town into a true city, though it is still only a third the population of Lübeck.

I had more gold than I knew what to do with, so I commissioned artifacts. I filled my court with chests, drawers, coffrets, jewelry boxes, and the like. I created more of these than I needed, and gave the extras to foreign Kings as gifts. For my patronage of art I gained the nickname 'the Poet'; with an epithet like that one might mistake me for a Toreador!

For a time I plotted to assemble the Book of Nod, and perhaps even to become a great scholar of the night by taking one of the ashen libraries. But this proved difficult, so I delayed this ambition for a time and instead focused on expanding into Scandinavia. There were several small Princes in southern Norway, and I soon conquered their lands and filled them with Giovanni and loyal household servants.

One of them was Götz von Berlichingen, a great knight and mercenary of the Holy Roman Empire. I did not feel able to embrace him - creating 'Giovannis by marriage' was something which, while occasionally accepted, I did not feel comfortable normalizing as the hardliners were already groaning enough as it is. So instead, I made Götz a ghoul and granted him a northern duchy, making him my vassal. This, combined with restoring his hand via blood-healing, won his loyalty. I hope his military acumen will serve me well.
 
Chapter 6: Mediterranean Ambitions New

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When I was first embraced, I felt the promise of immortality and power. But after two centuries I find it difficult to find motivation to stay awake. Yet even so, I am not ready to enter Torpor yet. There is still much to do.

I began by asking my wife, Pora, to teach me the disciplines of Animalism and Protean. This opened a new field of research to me, and I began hunting every night to drain blood of animals and learn their ways.

“Hah, you could almost pass for a Gangrel!”, my wife told me once while watching me drain the blood of a stag.

The first thing I used my discipline for was to ghoul a cat, Fortunata. This name was a joke, because she was a black cat and thus believed by kine folklore to be unlucky. She was sweet, but it turns out Pora has allergies and so I had to rehome my pet with one of ky vassals. So next I ghouls a white furred dog, named Inverno. His hair is short enough that it will not upset my wife’s allergies.

Not everything is good. My liege, Brunhilde the Valkyrie, denounced my friendship and declared me a rival. I do not know what caused her to do this, but I will not lie and say that this does not grieve me.

To distract myself, I began to search for knowledge. My clan is known for knowledge and scholarship, so I shall become a pinnacle of it by assembling the book of Nod! I began scheming to steal copies of the relevant chapters from other kindred in Europe, and to seize the island of Malta for access to it’s great library.

My Councillor could not reach Malta, so instead she fabricated a claim on Genoa. I assassinated that city’s prince, a Nosferatu of House Trajan, and sent an army to take the city. At the battle of Genoa my forces were victorious. Now I can use Genoa as a base to take Malta and to steal the Erciyes Fragments, but it occurs to me I could use this land for more. Holding Genoa places me close to Venice, and the fallen capital of House Giovanni. Perhaps I could do what Ignazio failed to do, and retake the family’s heartland? The thought tempted me, and in the end the temptation was overwhelming.

I declared war, attacking Prince Anicius the Golden. This heir to Narses managed to hold a corner of the Adriatic despite all the turbulence of the centuries, but he will not hold forever. My army was able to take Veneto, and Giovanni kindred walked through the halls of Agguatus’ palace for the first time in centuries. But the first assault on Venetzia was a disaster. My army fell, having lost 3000 of my 10,000 men. Gotz von Beelichingen died bravely, holding the rearguard so the rest of the forces could escape. His son Folmar was embraced by a Gangrel of little renown as a gift for his father’s valor.

My forces regrouped at Genoa, and I personally lead them at the second battle of Venato. War has changed since I last took part in a true battle. The mobs of commoners were still the same, but now there was the thunder of occasional gunpowder weapons. I let a cry of “For Gotz!” as I rode into the fray, my lance crushing a neonate through the chest.

Once the battle was won, the city of Venetzia was defenseless. We marched into the haven to find a grizzly sight. Hundreds of Anicius’ herd and ghouls lay dead, having taken their own lives in despair. The floor was awash with blood and some ash. Anicius himself was nowhere to be found, having fled the city and abandoned his authority. Good riddance.

With this area secure, I can reestablish the title of House Giovanni. A new Patriarch has arisen, one who will not make the same mistake as the last one. I began with rebuilding the Giovanni Palace, renovating and expanding it. Such was my reputation for piety that I didn’t have to spend my own gold - the house loyalists contributed material and labor.

I also sent an army to Malta. Simon ben Jacob held this island for a long time, but he could not withstand the army I sent.
 
Chapter 7: Eternal Knowledge New

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My quest for knowledge continues unabated. I have not only stolen the Erciyes Fragments, but also began an upgrade on the Library of Malta

My liege must have been impressed by my recent conquests, as she agreed to end the rivalry between us.

My quest for knowledge would drag me into a war with Lysander of Croatia, one which would last several years and cost thousands of lives. But in the end we were victorious and Lysander handed over the desired tome. By the time the war ended his economy was in turmoil as well, with the cost of mercenaries driving him deep into debt while my balance remained in the black. Perhaps this can open a window of opportunity to expand into Croatia.

But for now, I ran into some difficulty. The last two tomes I need to complete the Book of Nod are in Arabia, beyond my influence. So I would need a Black Sea port to liberate those books from their owners. The best candidate I could choose was Wajh, in Arabia. This county was ruled by the Subrextrix of Cyrenaica, whose realm stretched from Cyrene to Gaza. I declared war upon her, and laid siege to many holdings. I gazed upon the ruined lighthouse of Alexandria, and upon the mighty pyramids of Giza. Finally I met the inquisition army at Tobruk, and through my victory proved that God loved Clan Giovanni more.

The ignorant kine historians will record of how a Condottiero turned Pirate ravaged the coast of Egypt before returning home to Venice with a large tribute in gold and an Ottoman Princess for a bride, and of how the Ottoman Empire sold a port in Arabia to the Kingdom of Denmark to recoup its losses.

The port of Wajh was assigned to a lesser Scion of Clan Giovanni. Truth be told, it will serve me little use once I have achieved my goal.

I schemed and plotted, and soon had the two books in my possession. Thus, in the year of our Lord 1626, I completed my great library of the night. Soon kindred from all over Europe we’re coming to me to request a copies of the books in my library, or for aid in their research. This I was glad to provide, so long as the customer could pay well and was not a Sabbat or Infernalist.

Once more, I read from the completed Book of Nod and pondered how it is that my dynasty achieved this power.
 
Chapter 8: The City, the Master, and the Master's Childe New

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When I read from the book of the First City, I became enamored with the culture described. In many ways it was heartlessly evil, Canoe’s sin writ large … but there was also good within it. I wondered - could not one so wise as I, with the benefit of all my knowledge, do it right? Create a great city of the night where humans and kindred could coexist together, not in arrogance and cruelty but in love of each other and of God Above? Could Lübeck perhaps be this city? Could I succeed where Brujah and Michael failed?

I began by recreating the culture of the First City on the island Sjaelland, in Denmark. This place would be the tidepool from which this ancient culture would be grafted and tweaked, before being brought to Lübeck. At first the Italian communities in Denmark were wary of these strange people with their strange ways, so I worked to foster acceptance between them. Kine intermarried, learned each other’s languages, and prayed together in the same places of worship.

I also took this opportunity to declare independence against Midgard. The High Valkyrie Brunhilde, my former friend, was distracted by another civil war against some petty vassals. Because of this, I could capture so many of her castles that she gave in before our armies could ever meet the field. Kine historians would tell of how a Catholic pretended to the Danish Throne seized power and waged a war against Protestant Sweden to hold his claim.

I was not at peace for long after this victory, as I saw another opportunity. To the south, Clan Ventrue was weakened by a war against Romagna for control of Bavaria. I declared a war for the duchy of Ostfalen and laid siege to several of their castles. My army met theirs at Hamburg. As I took to the field I remembered how my sire had fought there so long ago, with far fewer soldiers and a far smaller chance of success. Would he be proud of how far I’ve come? I hope so. In any case, the battle ended in victory and the Giovanni Family expanded south along the Elbe river.

Five years later, when the treaty expired, I launched another holy war for the Duchy of Angria. Fighting was hard, and my soldiers froze to death in the countryside. At Uelzen and Hoya my army and that if my ally Combria met the Ventrue forces. By the end of both fights the ground was covered in gore and ash, but I was victorious! I could now form the Kingdom of Saxony.

This war I won, and with it control of the area. The Sabbat counts would not be my vassal, and so they revolted against me. Of course they fared little better than their former liege, and I crushed them. Folmar von Berlichingen joined the rebels, but out of respect for his late father I let him live. However he lost his titles and was exiled. His sister-wife, Luitgatd von Berlichingen, continued to hold the county of Seleyjar. But only as a vassal to a Giovanni Duke.

The other rebels, for their Sabbat theology, were put to death by beheading. All but two. One of them was a minor Scion of House Hardestadt, a mere Caitiff as well. But the other was Hardestadt himself.

When I entered the dungeon, I saw the fabled Master on chains. He had fallen face from grace. His Fiefs were under the control of his childe, and now he is in my dungeon.

“Make it quick”, he says bitterly, glaring at me with pure hatred. “Power belongs to the powerful.”

“I thought you abandoned Via Tyrannus?”

“You never truly leave it.”

I could behead him, but I decided it would be a shame to let his blood go to waste. I sank my fangs into his throat and drank greedily, claiming his vitae for myself. He struggled, but in the end it did not matter. He was gone, and his power was mine. The rush I felt was like nothing else.

I felt as if I could achieve anything, and I intended to try to.

Once my truce with Clan Venture expired, I launched another holy war. Except this time not for a border duchy - this time I wanted them whole kingdom of East Francia. This war was descided, apart from sieges, by two great battles the battle of Hildesheom and the battle of Halberdtadt. The snow was left red after both of them, but the Ventrue were broken. The region was mine!

Evicting the local princes to make room for Giovanni scions proved to be another war in itself. But in the end that land was filled with members of the family. To celebrate the occasion I hosted a grand Elysium in the great palace at Lübeck. There, before the whole of of my clan, I declared the founding of a new Empire. It would be called Clan Giovanni, and would represent the height of our power. This was met with celebration, especially when gold and silver bowls of high-quality vitae were wheeled in for all my relatives to sup upon. I have now reached a height that Augustus could only have dreamed of. I hope, wherever he and my sire are, they are proud of me.
 
Chapter 9: The Codes New

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Though I have a great deal of knowledge, one thing still knows at my mind. The Sargon Codex, the prophecies of Cappadocius, is still missing. As the foremost mind of kindred knowledge, it fell to me to gather it.

I began with an expedition to conquer Rhodes. This would give me the base I need in the eastern Mediterranean to expand the necessary locations to hunt the pieces of the codex down. I thus began a war against King Sarrasine, the Snake among Snakes. He was a former Setite of high rank who has since abandoned Egypt and the worship of his false god in favor of Krete and chivalry. He was a man I held some respect for, but for the sake of the knowledge I craved he could part with a county. My army met theirs at the battle of Rhodes, where my forces cut down Sarrasine’s men. By the end of it ghouled gunners were drowning each other in the tides. We clashed again at the battle of Athens, where the ex-Setite’s army was routed and I had to ride before my men to prevent them from sacking the city. The havens of Athens were looted for all their worth, but the kine were left unharmed. Soon the serpent knight conceded, ceding the island to me. As I rode amongst the ruins of the Colossus, I wondered if my own accomplishments would meet such an end.

I spent the next few years fabricating claims and building up my treasury, so in 1670 I could launch a large invasion of Egypt. The inquisitors who ruled this land formed a kingdom, but it was no match for me. I landed a force of skilled ghoul warriors at Damietta and began capturing castles. The inquisitors met me at the battle of Bilbays, but my ghoul knights made quick work of them.

I beat them again at the battle of Rashid, and the Rector of Egypt agreed to cede the lands I demanded. When the land was cleared of Inquisitors, I began distributing it among worthies. Many Giovanni Scions faithful Ghoul and Revenant servants gained new homes for their valor. New branches of the Cassius, Gravenor, and Grimaldi families were set up in far away Egypt. I spent a year after the war in the region, ostensibly to keep order while my relatives established themselves, but in truth to spend time enjoying myself. I went to the Azhar University and had every book therein translated to Enochian and Italian and had copies sent both to my havens and to the great library of Malta. I also wandered under the shadow of the Great Pyramids, taking notes of the accomplishments of the ancients and finding the first piece of the codex.

Next, I headed to Constantinople. The dreaded Ottomans still held the city by day, but perhaps by night it could be mine and I could uncover its secrets. I declared a war against the Kingdom of Nikaea for control of the city. My army met theirs at Smyrna, filling the air with smoke and screams. Ghouled raiders stop their mutated ghouled horses charged the field, chasing down panicked mortal mercenaries who saw their bullets fail to dismount these riders. My forces triumphed. At Miletopolis we met them again, and once more the day ended with Greek and Turkish mercenaries laid low before Enochian and Italian warriors. Finally, at Nikaea itself, I laid siege to the haven. A disgruntled blood doll opened the gates for my soldiers and they swarmed in. Queen Eirene Antonian, grandchilde of the late Queen Anna Comnena, surrendered the ancient city I desired. My men marched in triumphantly. I again spent much time in that city, exploring the palaces, cathedrals, and mosques there. I also examined the tomb of Michael, that great methuselah who tried to create a utopia. I again find myself wondering if I am more chosen than he was. What if my desires to turn Lübeck into a new Enoch are as mad as this dead Toreador’s ravings? What if my sire feels in heaven does not feel joy at my accomplishments, but shame at the measures I took to achieve them?

Whatever the case may be, these events were again covered by ones on the other side of the masquerade. Kine historians would report how a Venetian pirate, inspired by the raids on the Egyptian coast earlier in the century, captured the city of Constantinople and established a Catholic city-state for himself separate from the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Sultans moved to Chalcedon, but every attempt by them to retake the city will end in mysterious failure.

My next target was the Erciyes. The Cappadocians were driven from Anatolia by the Salubri Samielites, and I sought to take it back. I landed at Caria and dug in for a battle. I was not disappointed; the army of Anatoli, Nikaea, and Krete all converged upon my force. But we closed ranks and won the day, routing the enemies and leaving a field of corpses and ash in our wake. My dynasty was quickly becoming known for our Ashen Knights as well as our Seneschals. My forces broke the Salubri at Lycia and Pisidia as well, and soon they lost the will to fight.

The Erciyes was once again in Cappadocian hands! I entered the library, set my scribes to work translating the works within to send back to Lübeck and Malta, and began plans to upgrade the monastery into a beating heart of the clan. Oh, and once again more Giovanni scions became princes. I also gave the baronies around the county of Cappadocia to some of my loyal ghouls who kept my sire and I company through the centuries.

The last place I needed to conquer before I could complete the codex was the county of Vaspurakan. This was deep in the Khazarian Empire, under the rule of Warmaster Oderic. On his own he wouldn’t be too difficult to defeat, but he was allied to Midgard and the Norse pagans might attack me while I am distracted. Therefore Oderic had to die. I began a plot to end the Gangrel’s life. I schemed for twenty years, and in the meantime stole the Holy Grail from some unlanded kindred who held it in his possession. It was difficult to be patient while I waited for the scheme, and when I was just three away from completing the plot he discovered and ended it. Well, time for the less subtle approach.

I declared war in the Khanate. I marched east into the Armenian hills, and Oderic’s horde met my army at Musch. The army of Midgard was not far behind. Thankfully they did not unite but arrived separately, so I could crush them separately. Gone were the days when ferocity and personal strength carried the day; it was now a time of strict organization and discipline. These savages were living in the past, and would not stand in the way of my ambitions. Fittingly, I met them again at Vasphrakan and once more they fell under volleys of gunfire. Soon Khazaria let me keep the county I desired. I didn’t even want that windswept track of land, just the piece of the codex buried there. As soon as I had the pages I abandoned it. A revenant, a bastard of the Grimaldi family, took up power in the there. I doubt he will hold it for long, but I will not stop him from trying.

With the last piece of the codex, I returned home to read them all. I open the pages and decide to read the whole thing
 
Chapter 10: Halting Apotheosis New

Timjames

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It is all clear, so clear, so painfully clear! Why can’t anyone else see it?! Why … why did it take until I read the codex for me to see it …

I … it is so hard to focus, but I must … for the sake of all, I must … something is going to happen that I must not allow to happen …

Everyone looks at me like I am a lunatic. Some view me with contempt or fear, those close to me view me with sorrow. No doubt you, as you read this, will believe I am insane as well. But who wouldn’t be if they’ve seen what I have?! If you knew what was coming you would be afraid as well.

My antediluvian, Cappadocius, plans to diablorize God Himself. I’ve read his codex, and I fear it can be done. Even if it fails, it will bring God’s wrath upon the entire kindred race. It will a disaster so horrible that the predicted Gehenna would appear to be a mere light breeze.

I must stop this. I must prevent this from happening. The blood of the savior has opened the gates of Heaven, so now I must save him.

I called a meeting of the most trusted Giovanni clan elders, those who knew Agustis personally, and told them of what I discovered. They did not believe me, of course. Though my father reformed this clan from sadists to humanists, many of them are still cynical and self-interested as kindred are want to be. But I still had their support - after all, if Cappadocius was gone it would strengthen the Giovanni position.

Next I wrote to Cappadocius, told him that I knew of his plot, and wished to aid it. The wait for his response was long and perilous. Did he see through my lie? Did he not believe me? Was he sending assassins after me already?

But then a reply came. “Conquer the land of Romangia, then meet me.”

He believed me, that I really wanted to aid in his monstrous plan. Very well then, I shall secure the lands he plotted out and carry it out. Once I meet him, I will have only one chance to deal him a fatal blow.

The Italian peninsula was under the rule of Prince Menele, the famed Pale Wolf. But he is not the only one the kindred of Italy would accept as a ruler. His childe, Theoktiste the Impaler was wandering between courts. Despite the nickname, she is a good woman - content, generous, and forgiving. I still wonder if the epithet is ironic, or if someone pushed her beyond her limit once before. But I married her to one of my own childer - Geraldo Giovanni. Then I waged a war on her behalf to place her on her father’s throne.

Though Menele was a great warrior, he was in debt and his armies were distracted when I waged war upon him. Our armies met at Ostia, and I dealt him a crushing blow. By the time the sun rose, the Pale Wolf was limping away and the field was scattered with the gore of his men. We fought again at Siena, but it was clear by then who the winner would be. Menele was deposed, and his childe swore fealty to my realm. Soon after, I received a package from Strumica in Greece. It was a bundle of roses from Helena, with a letter of thanks.

With my task completed, I made the journey to Cappadocius’ haven deep in Anatolia. It was well-hidden, and my party could not have found it if not for the guide the ancient kindred sent to lead us.

When we entered the room, I saw him myself. He was was withered and frail, like those of his clan often are. I do not know how the Giovanni were spared from this effect, but I felt glad for it.

“Come in, my descendant”, he said. I entered the chamber and stepped closer to him.

“So you read my codex, my prophecies.”

I nodded.

“And you know what I can accomplish.”

Again, I nod.

“Well, then, the time has come. The lands of Rome are secured, and the Vicar of Christ will not be able to interfere with my plans. Soon I shall rise even above Caine. Now, drink of my blood. I will ascend and fulfill my prophecy."

No.

Very quickly, I drive a stake through Cappadocius’ heart before he knows to block it. He stands there, paralyzed, staring at me in shock and betrayal. He truly did not expect this.

“I will not let you Diablorize God. I cannot.”

With that, I swung my sword at him, severing his head from his body. The antediluvian of Clan Cappadocian withered away into ash before my sight. It is done. He is gone.

The journey back was difficult, as I was looking over my shoulder the whole way. For what, I know not. Until now, writing these words, I have told no one of what transpired that day, of what Cappadocius planned. Nobody except my soulmate, Pora.

With Cappadocius in final death, only I know how he could have done it. And that I will never write here or share with others. The codex is stored away in a secret place, I will not tell anyone where.

God Above, I hope you see my loyalty to you. I hope you look kindly upon me, or at least with pity.
 
Epilogue New

Timjames

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I have been spending more time traveling into the shadowlands. I have seen the great streets and walls of Stygia, and gazed up upon the Oynx Tower. I have also met with wraiths of my clan, to provide aid to them from the skinlands.

On one such encounter, I was approached by a ferryman.

“I … I mean no … no harm …”, I told him.

He approached me, and pulled back the hood on his robe. The man underneath was changed much by death, and by his occupation, but I could still recognize that face.

“Justus?!”

Justus Giovanni, my Sire, nodded. “Fenn, I have heard much of your actions in the skinlands.”

I turned my gaze away from him, toward my feet. “I am sorry. I only wanted to make you proud, but I could not always see the right way. I tried to create beautiful things, to bring about peace and secure a home for our clan, but I shed too much blood! I’m sorry!”

Justus knelt before me and smiled in the kindly way I remembered.

“Do not despair. All I have wanted was for you to be kind and to protect others, and that I have seen you strive to do both. Even if you have stumbled, you still learned from it and did better than befpre. Remember, compassion is what keeps us from falling to the beast.”

“I love you, sire.”

He nodded. "I love you to, childe. And I always will." When he said this, he boarded his reed boat and sailed back into the sunless sea.

With this last meeting, I left the Shadowlands with a renewed purpose. I was greeted by my soulmate.

“You’re awake”, Pora said. “I thought you were going into Torpor.” I hugged her tightly.

“No, I have much to stay awake for. Come, let us serve humanity.”

We set out into the night, into the city my sire and I built, ready to face all the nights to come.
 

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Nice job finishing this!

The vampires appear divided, and knowledge is jealously guarded.

Cappadocius's plans are insane...