Image by Nolife-Edi. Please do not use without permission
In 851 A.D, a fleet of Viking ships sailed up the river Thames and burned London. Hidden in the remains of an old Roman temple which miraculously escaped the fire, a Saxon noblewoman gave birth to a son even as her husband died fighting the Vikings in the city above. She named the boy Alfred.
The experience unhinged her slightly. In the modern era, terms like "post-traumatic stress disorder" might be used to describe her condition, but in the ninth century, her condition was interpreted as a religious experience. She believed herself to have been touched by God.
Her son was brought up believing that, too. A quiet, biddable lad, he followed his mother's wishes and entered the Church. His noble blood helped him secure a prestigious position as a priest in the old, Saxon St. Paul's cathedral.
Unfortunately, he was a little too devoted to the Holy Church for his own good. In the chaos surrounding the Viking invasions, clerical standards had slipped quite badly, and many of his fellow priests in St. Pauls were scheming, power-hungry men who saw the Church as a mere vehicle for their own ambitions.
They indulged in all manner of corrupt scheming, even resorting to assassinating inconvenient nobles so that they could lay claim to their lands and power.
Alfred, an innocent, realised little of what his colleagues were up to, but he had seen and heard enough to be dangerous to them. In 886, when King Alfred the Great took control of London and began an ambitious series of reforms designed to curb the corruption in the church, the schemers realised that Alfred could lead his royal namesake straight to them, were any investigation of their activities to be mounted. So Alfred was fed a dose of poison.
He lay for two days, sweating and moaning at the burning agony in his stomach. As he was on the point of death, though, a hideous emaciated creature resembling a dessicated, crumbling corpse appeared at his bedside. Smiling a ghastly rictus grin, the creature spoke to him in a deep, mellow voice, as beautiful as its appearance was ugly. It offered healing, a relief from the pain, and a chance to purify the church of the evil into which it had fallen. Delirious and half-dead, Alfred accepted without realising the full implications.
Although initially horrified when he realised what he had become, he managed to rationalise it, as so many vampires have before and since, by imagining himself to be God's Scourge upon the wicked. . He became more ruthless, more focussed, than he had ever been in life. If God had chosen him to be a warrior in His cause, then a warrior Alfred would become. He also realised that he had lost his life through his innocence - or perhaps willfull blindness - to the perfidy of others. Never again, he swore. From now on, he would know all that transpired around him. Thus was born a fixation - indeed, a near-pathological obsession - with collecting and hoarding information.
He could have killed the faithless priests who'd poisoned him, but he found it more satisfying to expose their corruption to the King and the Bishops. All were removed from office; two were murdered by the vengeful families of those they had schemed to disinherit.
He has lived in London throughout most of his unlife. For his first couple of centuries, he worked under the guidance and protection of his sire, Marcus of Ostia, a Roman legionary who had lurked in London from its earliest days as the Roman township of Londinium. In 1087, Marcus drifted into torpor, and Alfred was the natural choice for his successor amongst the London Nosferatu. He became a generous parton to London's stonemasons, often influencing them to add secret chambers or extra cellar space to their designs. His willingness to take on such administratrative burdens did much to secure his position amongst his follow Nosferatu, who appreciate the safe havens which de Worde's allies create for them.
Although nominally a follower of the Road of Heaven, he was becoming dissatisfied with its precepts, which he felt were too passive, too unfocussed. He sought a more disciplined and martial philosophy, and in the 1140, he found it, under the guidance of a young Norman noble named Richard de Worde. The emergent Road of Chivalry perfectly combined religious precepts with a warrior ethic, and Alfred became an enthusiastic follower of this new code. When Richard was killed by an Assamite assassin, Alfred took his name to honor him.
When Mithras rose to power, the newly renamed Richard de Worde was amongst the first to swear loyalty to him. He believed that his motives for doing this were his own - Mithras promised stability, order, and discipline to a Cainite community long rent by the squabbling of the Norman vampire factions. De Worde was unaware that he was following the subtle prompting of his sire, a follower of the cult of Mithras in his mortal life in the Roman legions.
Now de Worde serves as Mithras' intelligence chief, and head of the London Nosferatu.
Agatha de Bray was a beautiful, eligable heiress at the court of King William Rufus. In due time, she married a young, handsome, adventurous husband and they spent a happy life together moving between his extensive estates in England and France. On occasion, they ranged even more widely, to Rome, Spain, and even Constantinople, the Queen of Cities.
Unfortunately, her own good fortune didn't make Agatha any more concerned for those less fortunate, quite the reverse in fact. Her servants were regularly beaten, her serfs half-starved, even her confessor intimidated and disregarded.
Her sire objected. A follower of the Road of Heaven, he believed that Agatha was damning her soul with her pride, and determined to "save" her - even if he had to damn her in the process.
He certainly didn't expect Agatha to thank him for what he'd done, but she did. The trauma of the Embrace focussed the noblewoman's attention on matters of spirit, soul and eternity which she had never seen as worthy of attention before, and the state of her own soul was something she dreaded to even think about.
Lady Matilda allowed Agatha to settle in Southwark because the Nosferatu was so manifestly apolitical. Agatha took the unconsecrated graveyard where the prostitutes from the Stews were buried as her territory, feeding from rats and sometimes, from the fresh corpses of those unfortunates laid to rest there.
Agatha's flesh goes through a monthly cycle, gradually building up until she is swathed in a rippling mass of fleshy folds, and then sloughing off to leave only a thin layer covering the bones. She has nails permanently embedded in the palms of both hands, part of the ritual scourging taught by the Path of Penitence.