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Concept: Cancer Nurse, Pagan Priest and Camarilla Court Sorcerer
Fellowship: Old Faith
Born: 1082 A.D.
Physical Strength 3, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3
Social: Charisma 4, Manipulation 3, Appearance 3
Mental: Perception 4, Intelligence 4, Wits 3
Talents: Alertness 3, Awareness, 5 Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Empathy 4, Expression (Music) 3, Leadership 2, Streetwise 3, Subterfuge 4
Skills: Crafts 2, Drive 2, Etiquette 3, Firearms 1, Larceny 3, Melee (Sword) 4, Stealth 1
Knowledges: Academics 2, Computer 2, Finance 2, Investigation 3, Occult 5, Politics (Kindred) 3
Foundation and Pillars: Spontaneity 5, Spring 3, Summer 3, Autumn 4, Winter 5
Virtues: Conscience 4, Self-Control 3, Courage 4
Morality: Humanity 7
Backgrounds: Allies 3, Contacts 5, Influence (Medical Profession) 2, Resources 5, Status (Camarilla) 3
King William II of England, called Rufus for his red hair, wasn't what anyone could call a devout man. He was wild, hedonistic, greedy, amoral, and naturally inclined to rebel against authority and convention. It was that, rather than any true interest in the Old Faith, which prompted him to become involved with one of the few surviving pagan holdouts of a land which had been at least nominally Christian for well over five centuries. But become involved he did, and on the night of Beltane in 1081, he conceived a son in the arms of a green-eyed witch with hair that shone copper in the light of the bale-fires.
Conceived during one pagan festival, Beltane, Ranulf was born during another, Imbolc. His mother, a minor member of the old Saxon nobility displaced by the Normans, was a Lady-in-Waiting at the Court of William's father. She made no effort to conceal her pregnancy from William, and neither of them hid the truth from William's father or the Court. The King was, in truth, delighted. He'd long suspected (correctly, as it happened), that his son preferred to receive men into his bed rather than women, and Ranulf's arrival helped to quell the suspicions that the King refused to admit, even to himself, that he harboured.
It was ironic, then, that Ranulf was named for one of his father's long-term lovers, Ranulf Flambard, who was then the King's Chaplain
Ranulf was raised as a Norman nobleman. As a bastard, he could never inherit the throne, but his father and grandfather made sure that he wouldn't lack for prospects. But when he reached his teens, his mother introduced him to the world of the Old Faith, a secret, enthralling society of magic and paganism. Ranulf proved a prodigy, swiftly surpassing his mother, a witch of fairly minor skill, and then all his other teachers. All his other teachers but one.
It was no accident that Ranulf was his father's only child. Although William Rufus was primarily homosexual, he was by no means averse to female company as well, and Ranulf's mother was far from the only woman he ever lay with. But William Rufus was naturally sterile. Ranulf owed his conception to an ancient magic, the Ritual of the Sundered Soul, which had quickened his father's barren seed and gifted him with a soul grown from a fragment of another. Ranulf was one of the avatars of the ancient mage Pryderi, the first in generations to be born with magical abilities of his own, and the first ever to be born in such a prominent, socially powerful position.
A coterue of powerful vampires had come to England with Ranulf's grandfather, displacing the old, Saxon Cainites who'd held power in England for centuries. This coterie, the triumvirate, was the primary obstacle to the ambitions of Pryderi's ancient enemy, the newly reawakened vampire Methuselah Mithras. The Methuselah played a subtle, behind-the-scenes game, helping the surviving Saxon faction against the Normans.
Pryderi began to use Ranulf against the Saxons, and Mithras, when Ranulf was just thirteen. Ranulf revelled in what he was doing, as any teenage boy might have done when introduced into a secret, magical conspiracy. To him, the whole thing was a vast, thrilling adventure, and his attitude infected Pryderi when their consciousnesses were merged. The elder mage grew reckless, sloppy, and overconfident. Mithras discovered what Ranulf was doing, and why, and struck back by sending assassins to kill the King.
The first two attempts were thwarted, but the King knew that it was only a matter of time before one of them succeeded. And after he was dead, he knew his son would be next. He went to Pryderi, and demanded that the old man find some way to protect Ranulf.
There was a way, Pryderi told him, but at a terrible price. The death of a King was a mystically significant, magically powerful event, symbolising rebirth and renewal. If William Rufus were willing to sacrifice his life, Pryderi could use his sacrifice to re-enact the Ritual of the Sundered Soul, granting Ranulf immortality. Rufus agreed.
Ranulf found out about the plot too late, and came upon his father as he lay dying in the New Forest, with Pryderi already intoning the ritual over his body. Ranulf sobbed and raged, demanded that Pryderi use his magic to heal the King instead, but William Rufus refused to be dissuaded. Ranulf felt the agony and ecstasy of his soul being torn apart and reformed as the last breath left his father's body.
Suddenly, the game wasn't fun any more. Guilt and grief and a lust for vengeance became the sum total of Ranulf's existence. Consumed with guilt himself for what he had blindly done to the boy, Pryderi left him.
Without Pryderi's knowledge and experience to guide him, Ranulf's first attempts to strike back against Mithras were absurdly clumsy, as he helped to stir up a mortal rebellion against his uncle, the new King Henry I. Ranulf worked principally through his beloved foster-"uncle", his namesake Ranulf Flambard, who was now Prince-Bishop of Durham. When Flambard was imprisoned in the Tower for his efforts, Ranulf came to his senses. He refused to allow his "uncle" to die because of him, as his father had done. He helped Flambard to escape, and abandoned his scheme. Then he returned to his uncle's Court under an assumed identity, having used magic to alter his appearance, to look for new opportunities.
He befriended his cousin, the young Prince William, without intending to. William reminded him of himself when he was younger, and Ranulf became a sort of elder brother figure to the Prince - until William was lost in the disaster of the White Ship, a disaster that Ranulf suspected had been deliberately arranged by Mithras. Ranulf interpreted the death as a warning from the Methuselah - back off, or see your family die one by one - and took it seriously. He abandoned the Court and went to Southampton, with vague thoughts of French invasions running through his mind. But in Southampton, he found a new solace - a daughter of the Fortyn merchant family. They married, and had three children together. The third killed his mother in childbirth.
His wife's death prompted a new realization in Ranulf - he was immortal, and doomed eventually to lose everyone he loved. The thought ripped open the half-healed emotional wounds left by his father's and cousin's death, and he returned to his campaign against Mithras with even greater ferocity. During the civil war in the reign of King Henry's successor King Stephen, he struck out more or less indiscriminately, slaying Mithras supporters almost at random, until a Blood Hunt in the 1150s caught up with him and left him burned to death in an abandoned barn.
It was the first time he'd experienced physical death, and the experience tempered him somewhat. He realized the opportunity he'd gained from Mithras believing he was dead, and he was determined not to waste it. He planned slowly, and carefully - establish his grandson as a London merchant, suborn a disgraced Templar named Godfroi to steal the Holy Lance, form an alliance of convenience with his kinsman John, and John's lackey Hugh de Nonant.
And then all his plans were wrecked when his avatar Philippe de Poitiers prodded his conscience into action, and two Cainites reminded him of everything he'd forgotten about compassion and honour. A renegade Tremere lifted away the memories of a century of hate and loss, allowing him to become the carefree young lad he'd once been, for a time. And when his memories were restored and he was himself once more, a pair of gentle, compassionate green eyes stared into his, and offered him friendship and sanctuary for as long as he needed it.
As fell into an exhausted slumber on the Devil's Night, the last thought in Ranulf's mind was that he had somehow managed to gain a circle of friends who would not grow old and die, who he need not lose.
The next morning, he opened his eyes, and started to laugh and cry at the same time.
It was almost two hours before he stopped.
Pondering his situation, he realized two things: first, that his hatred had almost eaten his soul, and second, that the only way to defeat that hatred was to deny it, absolutely. He went to Mithras, his better enemy, and offered to serve him - in exchange for certain considerations
Unable, for all his power, to either destroy Ranulf or control his mind, Mithras was willing to accept the offer as a way to bring a dangerously unstable random element under control, and perhaps even use it to benefit the fief. He accepted Ranulf's offer, and almost immediately sent him away from London, to the York Conclave. That proved the start of a pattern. Mithras proved quite adept at finding ways to send Ranulf away from London - to the Tiranul domains in Transylvania, to the Fiefs of the Black Cross in the Holy Roman Empire, and to the lesser fiefs of Britain.
The War of Avalon forced Mithras' hand. He might not like or trust Ranulf, but he needed him as a means to broker a peace with the Mages and keep an eye on their activities.
What Mithras remained unaware of for some time was that Ranulf had been more-or-less "expelled" from the Fellowship of the Old Faith. His static, unchanging nature was in any case at odds with the Old Faith's belief in death and renewal; that was one strike against him. His century-long campaign of revenge against Mithras, neglecting his responsibilities to living and dead alike, was another. For Ranulf to turn around and swear alliegance to one of the undead was the final straw.
The rejection hurt Ranulf, but less than he was expecting. He had, at last, found a place in the world, a measure of peace and closure, and a way - by helping to temper Cainite excesses - that he could actually do some good, instead of merely settling a festering grudge. And he was - reasonably - content.
When the Camarilla formed, Mithras was initially skeptical, but wary enough to keep an eye on it. Ranulf was one of several representatives of the fief of London at the Camarilla's earliest Conclaves, and attended the Convention of Thorns alongside his longtime ally, the Gangrel Marc de Brabant. The massacre at Silchester coloured his view of the Sabbat forever after, He started working actively against them, rescuing the future Alastor Sebastian Moran in an early operation against them, before being sent by Mithras to disrupt Moncada's growing web of influence in Spain; an operation that Hardestadt unsuccessfully attempted to co-opt after the fact.
During the English Civil War, Mithras found a use for his talents a little closer to him, manoeuvering him against both the Toreador of Edinburgh and mortal witch hunters. Ranulf crossed swords several times with John Thurloe, Oliver Cromwell's master spy, and Gabrielle Lemor, the rebellious childe of his old friend and ally, the Gangrel elder Eirik Haraldsson
His duel with Thurloe gave Ranulf and appreciation of the potentialities - and dangers - of mortal intelligence networks, and he retained an informal connection with them from that point on. Through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there was frequently an overlap between occult secret societies and spy agencies, and Ranulf was able to exploit that connection to infiltrate both
As Victoria's Empire expanded across the globe, and the New World opened up, Mithras was able to find ever more distant locales to which his not-completely-trusted court sorcerer could be dispatched. Ranulf was largely unconcerned with being exiled; this vast and expanding world fascinated him, banishing and danger of ennui even after his centuries of life. But he was back in London in the late ninteenth century, dabbling in the Great Game during the high point of the Victorian Age
The twentieth century and its two world wars shook Ranulf's complacency badly and made him reassess his life. He spent the First in a field hospital, tending to the wounded and dying of the trenches. During the second, he joined the S.O.E. under a false identity, operating under cover in occupied Europe.
He returned to England in 1945, sickened by the slaughter, returning to a London that, for the first time in centuries, was no longer ruled by Mithras. The Prince's disappearance and presumed Final Death was the trigger for a crisis of confidence and faith that had been building up for half a century
By the 1950s, Ranulf had reached a decision; he'd been neglecting his true responsibilities, as a priest of the Old Faith and shepherd of the dying, for far too long. He largely withdrew from Kindred society, apart from the few old friends, and reinvented himself as a simple nurse, working in terminal cancer hospices.
The Glastonbury Incursion in the late 1990s prompted another reassessment. For better or worse, he was a part of the Cainite world, and he had responsibilities to it as well. He started to become more active in the Camarilla Courts, taking part in the Camarilla offensive that re-took New York from the Sabbat before temporarily going rogue to deal with the threat of the Sabbat Archbishop, Hugh Mortimer
In the wake of Mithras/Coven's attack, Ranulf resumed his de facto position as court sorcerer to London's Kindred. The new Prince and Primogen don't trust him, for the most part, but neither is their power so secure that they can afford to do without his help. For the moment...