Caradoc the Celt


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Clan: Gangrel

Nature: Idealist

Demeanor: Guru

Concept: Ancient street person

Generation: 7th

Embrace: 356 B.C. (Born 375 B.C.)

Sire: The Eagle

Sect: Independent

Attributes

Physical Strength 4, Dexterity 5, Stamina 6

Social: Charisma 4, Manipulation 3, Appearance 3

Mental: Perception 6, Intelligence 4, Wits 5

Abilities

Talents: Alertness 5, Athletics (Free running) 5, Awareness 5, Brawl 4, Empathy 4, Expression 4, Leadership 3, Streetwise 5, Subterfuge 4

Skills: Animal Ken 3, Crafts (Mechanics) 2, Drive 1, Larceny 4, Melee 4, Performance (Music) 4, Stealth 5, Survival (Urban) 5

Knowledges: Academics (Druidic Lore) 2, Investigation 4, Law 2, Medicine 3, Occult 5, Politics (Kindred) 2, Technology 1

Backgrounds: Allies 2, Contacts 5, Generation 6, Herd 3, Influence 1, Resources 1, Retainers 6

Virtues: Conscience 5, Self-Control 4, Courage 4

Morality: Humanity 8

Willpower: 10

Disciplines: Animalism 6 (Animal Succulence), Auspex 5, Celerity 3, Fortitude 6, Necromancy (Sepulchre Path) 2, Potence 3, Protean 6 (Blissful Slumber, Flesh of Marble), Thaumaturgy 4 (Green Path 3, Neptune's Might 1, Spirit Thaumaturgy 2, Weather Control 4)

Capsule

Most of London's Kindred know "Doc". He's a neonate Caitiff who apparently arrived in the city some time in the 1970s. He ekes out a marginal existence amongst the city's homeless; he may be the only Kindred in history to be a Big Issue badge holder. He's remarkably well informed; some Kindred who aren't willing or able to pay the Nosferatu's prices come to him for the latest gossip.

The few Kindred who've ever bothered to inquire into his background believe he was a Welsh medical student in the fifties or sixties who was left partially amnesiac by the trauma of his Embrace, although the evidence is sketchy at best; little more than the fact that he sometimes speaks with a slight Welsh accent, his nickname, and the fact that he frequently offers first aid to the homeless people who he associates with. He's remarkably human; his body is warm, he eats the occasional Big Mac, and he even takes mortal lovers. All of which has led to a widespread belief that he's a thin-blood, but he escapes most of the abuse usually directed at the thin-blooded because he's considered to be marginally useful and totally harmless.

It suits Caradoc to have them believe that, primarily because he finds the vast majority of his fellow Kindred unutterably tedious. They spend eternity either manoeuvring against each other in endless, pointless petty scheming, or wallowing in self-loathing angst what a bore! After watching the passage of more than two millennia, he's come to the conclusion that the simple pleasures are the ones that make existence worthwhile - good food, good sex, the guilt-free pleasure of feeding from a willing vessel, uncomplicated friendship, the intellectual challenge of a well-played game of chess, losing himself in music or dance, or the wild joy of free-running through the city, leaping from building top to building top.

He keeps no permanent haven, often using his power of Blissful Slumber to sleep through the day in the form of an invulnerable mist. He's well known and well liked in the city's homeless community, but his true friends are the dozen or so ghouls who have been with him, in some cases, since the early Middle Ages. His "húskarls", as he usually calls them, are all free-willed, since Caradoc belongs to the line of the Winter King and can't form a blood oath. Because of that, they're able to relate to him as true friends rather then enthralled slaves, although all are hopelessly addicted to his potent vitae, and all but the youngest depend on it to stay alive. Maintaining such a large group of ghouls is taxing, and Caradoc feeds heavily from animal vessels as well as human prey

Aside from his húskarls, the only person in London who knows his true identity is Ranulf Fitz Rufus, who recognized him from memories shared by Pryderi centuries ago. The two have formed a slightly uneasy friendship; Caradoc thinks that Ranulf is enmeshed too deeply in Kindred machinations for his own moral good, and Ranulf sometimes considers Caradoc's attitudes to be close to an abdication of responsibility. But there's a sometimes-grudging bond of friendship and respect between them nonetheless.

Character History

Caradoc was born within the great earthwork ramparts of Maiden Castle, in Dorset, England - although those names belong to a time many centuries in the future. He was a clever child, curious and imaginative, but the bearer of a curse. He possessed a rogue magical talent that allowed him - and sometimes forced him - to peer into the spirit world, but also sent him into violent seizures resembling epileptic fits. To the people of Maiden Castle, it seemed obvious that he was touched by the gods - a mixed blessing, but a blessing nonetheless. Caradoc was taken as an apprentice by his tribe's priestly caste, the group that later writers would call the druids.

By the time he'd reached his nineteenth year, he had learned enough about magic to reduce the frequency and intensity of his fits, but however hard he struggled, he couldn't overcome his disability entirely - until he met the Eagle.

Maiden Castle was the largest and most powerful settlement in England, and it traded extensively with other Celtic communities throughout England, Wales, and Europe. The Eagle was the nominal leader of a delegation from the Welsh island now called Anglesey - a young warrior and orator in the service of a cabal of priestesses and sorceresses known as the Circle of Nine. As a night-walker, a being poised between life and death, he was largely shunned by the common folk of Maiden Castle, dealing almost exclusively with the druids.

Caradoc was fascinated by him from the first. They spent long nights in conversation, becoming inseparable friends and companions. It wasn't long before Caradoc's obsessive curiosity about the Eagle's nature led him to take his first taste of the young Gangrel's potent vitae.

It was a revelation. The power of the vitae proved to be the missing element that allowed Caradoc to control his erratic gift, freeing him at last from the debilitating seizures that had plagued him all his life. The Eagle, in turn, found Caradoc's blood inexplicably delicious.

Their craving for each others' blood lasted for several months before the Eagle lost control and drained Caradoc to the point of death. He came to his senses just in time to save Caradoc with the dark gift of the Embrace.

Caradoc accepted his transformation philosophically. He wasn't completely happy about it, but he was fundamentally fair-minded, and recognized that it was at least as much his fault as the Eagle's. He'd always felt isolated and shunned by the society around him, so he didn't feel cut off from human companionship - the closest friend he'd ever had was the Eagle, and now that precious friendship might last for all eternity. And his new nature, despite its dark thirsts and violent appetites, fascinated him.

The druids of Maiden Castle were furious that the Eagle had taken one of their own, but Caradoc's impassioned insistence that the blame lay equally with him cooled tempers. The Eagle was asked - rather forcefully - to leave Maiden Castle. Caradoc chose to return to Anglesey with his sire.

He spent almost three hundred years studying with the Nine. He frequently accompanied the Eagle on embassies throughout the British Isles and Europe, but he spent more time in Anglesey, honing his supernatural skills. Unlike his sire, who was a scout, warrior and sometime diplomat, Caradoc was a scholar and philosopher. Under the guidance of the Nine, he learned to adapt the mortal magic he'd leaned from the druids to his new nature, eventually becoming a highly proficient blood sorcerer.

When the Romans began to arrive on the shores of Britain, the Nine started to grow concerned. They dispatched Caradoc and the Eagle, their premier scouts, to find out more about these invaders. Caradoc saw Londinium before and after Boudica destroyed it, and developed a strange fascination with the place, so like and yet unlike the great earthwork settlement where he'd grown up. The Eagle, who saw it merely as an enemy stronghold, didn't share his interest.

When Mithras and his allies in the Cult of Mercury attacked the Isle of Anglesey in 60 AD, Caradoc and the Eagle were elsewhere, rallying resistance to the Empire. They were assisting Boudica's revolt when word reached them of the Circle's defeat. They rushed home to discover their masters fled, the Winter King in torpor, and the sacred groves despoiled by Roman troops.

The Circle had survived, however, and were in the middle of an agonized post-mortem, trying to determine how Mithras and his Mercurian servants had breached the supposedly impenetrable wards protecting Angesey.

They identified the culprit quickly enough; a mortal Mage who was later to take the name "Pryderi". Caradoc and the Eagle tracked him down and managed - with some difficulty - to capture him and bring him back to the Circle, who were hiding out in the mountains of North Wales.

It didn't take long for the Circle to discover the Blood Oath that Mithras had placed on Pryderi, once they knew to look for it. They severed it and gifted him with a strange new form of immortality - ostensibly to give him time to forgive himself, but in reality, Caradoc more than half suspected, to create an indestructible thorn in Mithras' flesh. That feat of sorcery, impressive though it was, was the easy part. The larger question of what to do next proved more difficult.

The eventual answer was a policy of infiltration. The mortal followers of the Nine started to work their way into the new Romano-British ruling class almost at once. The Cainites faded from sight for more than a century before gradually introducing themselves into the society of the Roman vampires who followed Mithras. They posed, for the most part, as vampires far younger and weaker than they truly were. It was during this period that Caradoc first appeared on the streets of London posing as a neonate vagrant.

By the time that Rome collapsed and Britannia was overrun by barbarian invasions, the Circle of Nine had quietly faded into the ream of legend. Rome's fall temporarily stalled the encroachment of Christianity, but as the Saxon Kingdoms gradually converted, the Nine elected to remain a hidden, secret pagan presence rather than fight the new faith directly. The fall of Anglesey and its aftermath had taught them a bitter lesson in the value of subtlety.

Caradoc and his sire became messengers, linking the various pagan hold-outs together in a loose network. On occasion, they granted the Embrace to a particularly worthy mortal who could act as both a local vampire potentate and a leader for the old religion.

Ailith of Mercia was one such. Born around 600 AD in a village near modern-day Lichfield, she was a midwife and wise-woman, a phenomenally skilled herbalist and respected community leader. Caradoc Embraced her around 642 AD, leaving her to fend for herself for a while in the customary Gangrel fashion.

Unfortunately, Ailith refused to accept what she had become, starving herself until she lost control of her Beast and killed two villagers who were out gathering firewood. She bitterly resented Caradoc both for her Embrace and subsequent abandonment, and in the course of a few decades, her resentment turned to hatred. Outwardly, she played the role her sire demanded of her, that of vampire suzerain and priestess for the capital of the Mercian Kingdom; in reality, she was working to undermine the hold that the old religion had on the population. Half a century after her Embrace, Caradoc and the Eagle paid her a routine visit and found themselves ambushed by royal troops and priests wielding the power of True Faith. They escaped, but barely, and the Eagle slipped into torpor a few months later. Ailith abandoned Mercia soon thereafter; in later centuries, she was to take the name "Chalice", an ambiguous piece of symbolism which, like the Arthurian Grail quest, embodied both pagan and Christian elements as well as expressing her preferred vocation as a herbalist and apothecary.

Ailith's betrayal and the loss - albeit temporary - of his sire, plunged Caradoc into a crisis of faith and confidence. He spent almost a century and a half drifting in and out of torpor, or wandering alone, largely forsaking human or Cainite contact.

He started to involve himself in mortal affairs again as the Viking raids on the English mainland began to escalate. He took the role of protector to a scattered group of villages along the Northumbrian coast. These new invaders seemed savage and cruel at first, but something about them intrigued him. When spying on their camps, he saw and heard hints that these were no mere barbarians, but a people with a deep and rich culture with an appreciation of poetry, music and craftsmanship.

He was wintering in a village in north Wales, one of the remaining strongholds of the Circle of Nine, when fate gave him a chance to indulge his curiosity.

The young stranger named himself Eirik Haraldsson. He called himself a "skald", which, Caradoc discovered, was similar to what his own people would have called a bard, perhaps even a druid. He'd travelled widely, and mastered some of the rune-based magic practiced by the Norse sorcerers. He was passionate about his pagan faith, which held some intriguing similarities to Caradoc's own. And he was a superb chess player. It didn't take Caradoc long to decide that he'd be an ideal candidate for the Embrace. This time, though, he was determined not to repeat his mistakes with Ailith. He openly discussed his own nature with the young explorer, only to discover that Cainites had a place in Eirik's religion, as the chosen warriors of the gods. Eirik gladly accepted the Embrace in the first months of 897 AD.

As the Viking and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms gradually (and bloodily) melded together into a nascent kingdom of England, Eirik proved his worth as a valuable intermediary between the native Celtic and Anglo-Saxon vampires, and the Norse Cainites who had followed the invaders to England. Mirroring the events of the mortal world, the integration of the two communities was neither easy nor bloodless, but a reasonably coherent English vampire community had coalesced by around 950 AD.

Caradoc was involved with this process, but only at a remove. His interest and attention were focussed on a remarkable new phenomenon in the human world. An organization of Magi, the Order of Hermes, was expanding across Europe and beginning to establish communities - Covenants, in the Order's parlance - in the British Isles. Although primarily descended from the Roman Order of Mercury that had spearheaded the assault on Anglesey so long ago, the Order included a druidic community, House Diedne, which Pryderi had joined.

The Order of Hermes didn't care for vampires, and Caradoc had to keep his association with Pryderi secret for the most part, but he quietly liased between Pryderi and the Circle of Nine, supporting House Diedne as a quiet bulwark against Christianity and Rome.

That effort came to naught as the Order of Hermes, prodded into action by House Tremere, declared war on the Diedne. The House was, according to the Order's official histories, almost wiped out, although Caradoc and Pryderi were instrumental in helping a large number of its magi to escape and hide. In exchange for sanctuary, the surviving Diedne mages helped the Circle of Nine to consolidate its power base in Wales and northern England.

The Norman Conquest, and William I's near-genocidal "harrying of the north" reversed some of those gains. Cainite hangers-on, who displaced many of the native Saxon vampires from their positions, accompanied the new Norman noble class. The Circle, still a hidden and anonymous force in British Cainite society, was organizing the native English vampires into a resistance movement of sorts when the return of Mithras wrecked their plans. Unaware that they already had a powerful, secret patron in their struggle against the Norman Triumvirate, many of the Saxon Cainites joined forces with Mithras, believing that they had no alternative. In a choice irony, Caradoc's own childe, Chalice of Mercia, was one of the leaders who brought the Saxon Cainites into Mithras' camp.

Faced with a fait accompli that effectively removed it from power in the south and much of the north of England, the Circle decided to concentrate on entrenching its position in Wales and gradually re-establishing itself in the north. But they didn't wish to be cut off from the south altogether, so they sent Caradoc to London as a spy.

At first, Caradoc simply adopted his familiar role as a vagrant neonate, but that didn't allow him inconspicuous access to the upper reaches of Cainite and mortal society. As the troubadours and the chansons de geste rose in popularity, he hit on a solution. He found a young, poor troubadour, Simon du Poitiers, and offered the man immortality in exchange for his help. Having ghouled the young entertainer, he began adopting his appearance using Loki's Gift, and reinvented himself as "Simon the Troubadour", a talented musician. He found that his early training as a druid - encompassing public performance, music, and oratory - could be applied in new and interesting ways in his new role. He had to keep a low profile, since his childe Chalice was resident in London and one of Mithras' most trusted lieutenants (insofar as Mithras ever trusted any other Cainite). If that wasn't hindrance enough, his younger childe Eirik and his coterie began operating in London on a semi-regular basis. To remain inconspicuous, Caradoc began recruiting ghouls - young, resourceful, adaptable and poor - to serve as his eyes and ears. A few of that original group remain at his side today.

That phase of his existence lasted until the Black Death reached England in the middle of the fourteenth century. The purely mundane aspects of the pandemic were horrific enough, but worse were the aftershocks that such a vast wave of premature deaths created in the supernatural world. The Shroud frayed in many places, opening a path for hordes of spectres to invade the world of the living. Sorcerers, living and undead, made demonic pacts to exploit or escape the disaster. The Kindred, deprived of half their human herds as a stroke, fell into vicious infighting over the kine who remained.

Struggling - often vainly - to stem the tide, Caradoc found himself in an unlikely alliance with a group of Mages who called themselves Craftmasons. They didn't like or trust each other, at first - the Craftmasons tended to see Caradoc as precisely the kind of supernatural menace that they were trying to protect humanity from, and at best, a lesser evil. But grim necessity forced them to co-operate, and the mages gradually developed a grudging respect and even affection for the ancient vampire. Eventually, the Craftmasons were betrayed and destroyed by the Order of Reason, the very monster that they had themselves - unwittingly, and with the best of motives - created. Caradoc helped a few of the survivors to escape the purge, and retained tenuous contact with them after they were absorbed into the Traditions. Even now, he has a few weak ties with a few Mage chantries, although mostly as a name in stories told by a Mentor or a Mentor's Mentor.