Kogaion Thomas Wyncham

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Image by Sarah Evans. Please do not use without permission

Philosopher of the Burning Terror

Sworn of the Mysteries

Voice and founder member of the Temple

Clan: Gangrel

Sire: Simon Mercadier

Embrace: 1639

Apparent Age: Mid-teens

Covenant: Ordo Dracul

Virtue: Charity. Compassion for others has defined Thomas Wyncham since his childhood, and it continues to be the driving force of his existence and the core reason for his involvement in Kindred politics. Sometimes, compromises are necessary, but when that happens he tries to act according to the Ladder-Sworn's definition of morality calculated through aggregate harm, and ensure the good that results from his actions outweighs the evil.

Vice: Lust. Bluntly, Wyncham likes sex, and he likes feeding, and he especially likes both at once. Partly, this is a matter of practicality - he's never learned Dominate or Majesty because he's phobic about wielding power over others, so sex became his preferred feeding technique by default - but it's also a very definite personal preference.

Fate Card: Queen of Coins

Attributes

Physical: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 2

Social: Presence 3, Manipulation 3, Composure 4

Mental: Intelligence 5, Wits 3, Resolve 4

Skills

Mental: Academics (Psychology) 4, Computer 3, Investigation (Research) 3, Medicine 1, Occult (Kindred, Ghouls, Wyrm's Nests, Geomancy) 4, Politics (Kindred) 4, Science 2

Physical: Athletics (Free running) 2, Brawl 2, Drive 1, Firearms 1, Larceny 3, Stealth 2

Social: Animal Ken 1, Empathy 3, Expression (Dance, Sketching, Erotic Techniques) 3, Persuasion (Negotiation) 4, Socialise (Brothels, Society Functions) 3, Streetwise 2, Subterfuge (Hide Emotions) 4

Merits: Allies (Midnight Garden Pack) 3, Contacts (Ash Lincoln) 1, Encyclopaedic Knowledge 4, Haven (The Wyvern - Size 3, Security 3, Location 4), Eidetic Memory, Herd (Midnight Garden Pack) 3, Languages (Latin, Ancient Greek, Ancient Egyptian, Romanian, Spanish, French, German), Resources 5, Retainers (Mother, Nick Owen) 2, Status (Ordo Dracul) 5, Status (London Kindred) 4

Humanity: 7

Willpower: 8

Blood Potency: 6

Disciplines: Animalism 4, Auspex 1, Celerity 2, Nightmare 1, Protean 5, Resilience 3, Theban Sorcery 4

Devotions: Forced March *, Instantaneous Transformation, Unflinching Eye *, Repulsive Vapor ****

Coils of the Dragon: Coil of Banes 2, Coil of the Beast 3, Coil of the Heart 2

Theban Sorcery Rituals: Vitae Reliquary (1), Hauberk of Blood (1) **, Liar's Plague (2), Blandishment of Sin (3), Gift of Lazarus (4), Purifying Light (4) ***

* Carthians sourcebook
** Lancea Sanctum sourcebook
*** Fall of the Camarilla
**** Requiem for Rome

Character History

Thomas Wyncham was born in 1625, to a family of wealthy London merchants. He was the third son; his father already had an heir and a spare, so young Tom was left to do much as he pleased as a child.

Prior to his adolescence, he was a quiet, studious child. His intellectual brilliance was apparent from an early age; he could speak Latin and ancient Greek by the time he was nine. His tutors - all priests, naturally - also took approving note of his piety and Christian charity. By the time he was ten, Thomas had decided to become a priest. His father, a hard-headed merchant, was proud and supportive (he already had two sons to carry on the family business, so he could afford to let Tom go) , but somewhat baffled. Tom's brains came from his mother, the daughter of another merchant house, the Eswys, who was the only one in the house who could really talk to Tom on his own intellectual level.

At the age of thirteen, Tom's life started to fall apart. His burgeoning adolescence brought his face-to-face with the realization that he was gay, just as his mother caught consumption and started to die in front of his eyes.

Analytical even in the midst of his emotional turmoil, Tom struggled to work out whether his anguished prayers for his mother's recovery were going unanswered because of his sinful and unnatural lusts, whether his mother's illness was a punishment for those lusts, or whether both lusts and illness were a punishment for an unrelated sin - perhaps his pride in his academic accomplishments. With the unconscious egotism of an adolescent, it never quite occurred to him that nothing that was happening to him was actually his own fault. He tried prayer, fasting and even scourging himself. His father and brothers put a stop to that when they could, but the usual way of disciplining an erring child - a sound beating - was a rather counter-intuitive punishment when the child's offence was to have beaten himself bloody. Eventually, his mother found out, and forced him to stop with what amounted to emotional blackmail.

Tom's mother died just a couple of months before his fourteenth birthday. And Thomas Wyncham became very, very angry with God.

Shortly after his fourteenth birthday, he decided to give that anger expression. If he were Damned by his sinful desires, he decided, he'd be good at being Damned. He wouldn't whimper and cry like a child, he'd stand and spit in the face of a cruel and capricious Creator.

He wasn't very streetwise, but he was very clever, and very observant. It took him less than a month to discover that London housed a hidden underworld of cults and secret societies that pursued knowledge forbidden by the Church, and less than two months to persuade a likely prospect to accept him as an apprentice. His father and brothers thought that young Tom was merely out late drinking and whoring to drown the sorrow of losing his mother, and indulged him out of sympathy.

The London of 1639 was still in the vicious grip of the corrupted Lancea Sanctum, and most of its occult societies were fronts and patsies of Archbishop Mercadier's regime. The group that Tom found, the Order of the Ruby Chalice, was a thinly disguised Blood Cult. Its members came from much the same kind of social background as Tom himself, law students and younger sons of merchant houses with too much time and money on their hands. By modern standards, the cult's rituals - basically, parodies of High Church ritual ending in group sex - were an embarrassing farce, a Renaissance version of a Frat House comedy. Certainly the Kindred who used the Order's rituals for an occasional easy feeding would have categorized its activities in those terms. But some of the older and more intellectual members of the cult did have a genuine interest in occult matters, and the Order did possess what, by the standards of the day, was a fairly impressive occult library. And Thomas Wyncham was a voracious reader with a brilliant mind and an eidetic memory. Within three more months, he had managed to do what no other member of the Order had done for forty years - teach himself the basics of a ritual casting, and make it work. Unfortunately for him, the particular ritual he chose was one that allowed the caster to perceive "the true nature of the world", by which it meant the ability to perceive supernatural creatures and phenomena for what they truly were. At the cult's next meeting, Tom spotted the vampires lurking amongst the membership. He was terrified, but fascinated. The two reactions warred within him for the next two weeks, leaving him unsure what - if anything - to do about the revelation.

He was still wondering when his father and both his brothers were taken by a sudden, virulent plague, and died within a few days of each other. This final "evidence" of God's cruelty was enough to make up his mind. At the next meeting of the cult, he walked up to a vampire and asked to be either slain, or made undead. He didn't much care which. He just wanted to escape from a mortal existence that seemed filled with nothing but pain and loss, and if that meant becoming an abomination in the eyes of God - well, so much the better. He was done with God, and God, if Tom's unnatural desires were any indication, was done with him as well.

The death of Tom's father and brothers actually had little to do with God. Simon Mercadier had seen the boy at the meetings of the Order of the Ruby Chalice, and become infatuated. Tom's youthful looks, his passion, his vicious rage at the world, his mental brilliance, and of course his prodigious (homo)sexual appetites, unusually strong even by adolescent standards, made him the very definition of the perfect childe in the Archbishop's eyes. His ties to his mortal family were an obstacle, but given the disease-inducing powers of Mercadier's Morbus servants, hardly an insurmountable one.

Tom wasn't especially happy with the Lancea Sanctum's core doctrine - that vampires existed to serve God's purposes - but initially, he was perfectly comfortable with the Covenant's other key tenet - that vampires were irretrievably Damned, and should act accordingly. For three years, Mercadier's insidious programme of desensitisation steadily eroded the young neonate's Humanity. Tom robbed, killed, occasionally tortured, and enslaved others - especially priests - as sexual playthings, using the crimson chains of the Vinculum. The Archbishop was well pleased.

Careless and arrogant with power, Mercadier hadn't done a good enough job of covering his tracks. A few years into his Requiem, Tom discovered who was really responsible for the deaths of his father and brothers, and the revelation was like a knife driven into his unbeating heart. The knowledge that Mercadier had killed them to sever Tom's ties to the mortal world - that, if Tom hadn't joined the Order of the Ruby Chalice, none of them need have died - shocked him into taking a long, hard look at what he was turning into, and he was revolted by what he saw. He realized that he didn't want to be a monster, that he'd prefer to be the compassionate, charitable person he'd been as a child. Not to please God, this time, but because it was what he, Thomas Wyncham, wanted to be.

By now, Tom had seen enough to realize what would happen to him if Mercadier suspected that he'd had a change of heart. If he were to pursue some measure of redemption, he'd have to do it in secret, without allies. In the meantime, he very carefully kept up the fašade of a loyal Sanctified monster, and he fooled almost everyone with his act.

Everyone, that is, except Matilda de Bray. The last survivor of the old Sanctified regime which Mercadier had ousted in 1295, she had been carefully eased out of any position of power by the Archbishop. He probably would have killed her, except that she was the most powerful and knowledgeable Theban sorceress in the city, and that made her too useful a resource to dispose of casually. For her part, Matilda had kept a low profile for hundreds of years, leading Mercadier to discount her as a threat. That was one of his greatest mistakes, for Matilda's hidden hand was behind almost every significant defeat his regime ever suffered, all without Mercadier or his Sheriff, Roger de Courcey, ever realizing it.

Now, in Mercadier's new childe, Matilda sensed a potential tool against her rival. In his overweening arrogance, Mercadier saw her offer to tutor the boy in the Theban arts as a further sign of her submission to his authority - the greatest sorceress in London, reduced to the role of tutor to the Archbishop's little catamite! Besides, Mercadier reasoned slyly, Wyncham's undoubted brilliance would make it almost inevitable that he'd outstrip Matilda as the city's most powerful practitioner of the Theban rites, given sufficient time and training. At which point, Matilda de Bray and her insufferable self-righteousness would finally be dispensable. Matilda let him think that. It was she who had secretly revealed Mercadier's involvement in the deaths of his family to Tom, planting a signet-ring belonging to Tom's father in the chambers of one of Mercadier's Morbus servants for Tom to find. His reaction was all she could have hoped for, and she knew that his loyalty to Mercadier was finished.

Thomas Wyncham proved as gifted a student of Theban Sorcery as both Matilda and Mercadier had anticipated, achieving in mere years a level of proficiency which other Kindred had taken decades or even centuries to attain. He also proved as inclined to rebellion against Mercadier's excesses as Matilda had hoped. He started small at first, helping a few families escape the Archbishop's agents, or dropping hints to various interested parties that disrupted Mercadier's schemes in minor ways.

In 1646, on a visit to Southampton, he discovered that his sister Sophia was dying from complications of childbirth, and Embraced her, unable to bear the though of losing the last member of his family (their sister Anne having died from pneumonia a couple of years before). Unable to care for her himself, he approached the Prince of the Saxon Shore, offering any boon in his power in exchange for his protecting her. The Eagle, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, accepted his terms, and took Sophia into his court.

Wyncham returned to London, and in 1648, he made his first Kindred kill, a Morbus ancilla who liked to feed on otherwise beautiful young women covered in plague boils. Other quiet assassinations followed. Matilda occasionally used her powers to conceal Tom's actions from the other Sanctified, but she never revealed to him that she knew what he was doing, nor did she aid him directly. Let the boy prove his worthiness by bearing the burden alone, she reasoned.

In 1652, the Invictus started to make their first tentative moves towards overthrowing Mercadier and replacing him with a Prince from the First Estate. The Eagle called in his boon, demanding that Wyncham assist their efforts. Wyncham, more than willing to comply, established clandestine ties with their agent, a man named Clavain. Matilda was happy enough with that, but she was less pleased with Tom's other Kindred ally, a newly arrived ancilla named Susanna Thane, who served an ancient Crone called the Seer. The Seer hadn't been seen in London since the Norman Conquest, but her presence had been felt, all too often. Mercadier had long since declared a Blood Hunt against her, a largely futile gesture in view of her age and power.

Still, Matilda had chosen to let Wyncham work on his own, and so she wasn't really in a position to protest. Then in 1653, she suddenly started to find it much harder to keep track of what the boy was doing at all, as if some other power were shielding him.

Some other power was. Tom had met the Mage Harry Lynton, forming the basis of the Temple alliance. Later, the Uratha Stephen Eswy joined their alliance, a move that went more smoothly because Eswy was a distant cousin of Tom's beloved mother, and the two had occasionally played together as boys.

Tom's existence was a long ordeal of unending fear through the middle of the seventeenth century, but he felt his lost Humanity slowly returning as he secretly worked to mitigate the Lancea Sanctum's cruel excesses. And he was no longer alone. Susanna Thane, Jonathon Clavain, and an ambitious young Invictus strategist named Hugh Marlowe were his allies amongst the Kindred, and with Lynton and Eswy bringing their own supernatural communities into the fight, overthrowing his sire no longer seemed an impossible dream. In a few more decades, the Temple might have managed the task on their own. As it was, the Great Fire did most of the work for them, although they still had to deal with Simon Mercadier himself.

And that was a close-run thing. Tom attacked his sire as Mercadier was watching Sicarius' death-throes, attempting to drive a stake through his heart while he was distracted. The attempt failed miserably as Mercadier sent his treacherous childe flying twenty feet back into the tunnel beneath the Cathedral in a single, smashing blow.

Fortunately, the Archbishop failed to realize that Tom's "ghouls" were in fact Mages of the Temple. As Tom sailed through the air, one of them conjured a Ghost Gate directly in his path. Tom passed into the spirit world of the dead, and Mercadier, enraged, charged through after him... only to find himself in the middle of a mob of his own victims.

The Mages pulled Tom back through the Ghost Gate. Mercadier fought his way through the mob and followed, making it through the Gate just as it closed. Badly mauled, unable to do more than crawl, he collapsed at the feet of his childe and pleased for mercy.

Without speaking, Tom grew claws and literally tore his sire's head off. He stood and watched as the body crumbled away to dust and ash, then turned and walked out of Mercadier's haven forever. Less than half an hour later, the Cathedral finally collapsed

In the wake of the fire, Wyncham gladly abandoned the Lancea Sanctum and accepted Hugh Marlowe's long-standing offer to join the Invictus. Together, the two of them formed the core of a new, young Kindred leadership. Clavain's House preferred to maintain its formal neutrality, but House Skade's voice was often heard amongst their counsels. Tom preferred the role of vizier to that of Prince, allowing his friend Marlowe to take the lead and quietly building alliances and support behind the scenes.

The first problem they faced was a lack of numbers in relation to the other two major supernatural factions. Either the Mages or the Uratha could easily drive the Kindred from the city altogether if they were provoked - or even, perhaps, if they weren't. Conferring on their situation, Marlowe and Wyncham agreed on a twofold strategy. Firstly, the Temple alliance would have to be maintained and strengthened, to defuse any hostility from the other two powers before it had a chance to get out of hand. Second, the Kindred would need to adopt a very low profile. Although couched in terms of pragmatism and realpolitick, the unstated assumption was that the Kindred from now on would need to pay attention to their Humanity - no torture, no maiming, as little killing as possible, nothing that would provoke the other factions - particularly the still-human Mages - to recoil from their excesses and move against them.

Initially, they believed that older and more powerful Kindred from outside London would attempt to move in on the city, but such was the scale of the devastation that they were left relatively unmolested - all the Kindred who might have been tempted to claim London simply didn't think it was worth claiming any more. Certainly not if that meant risking their existing domains.

The Kindred population remained under two dozen until the middle of the eighteenth century, when it saw a steady increase, mostly under the Invictus. The Mages and Uratha claimed the greatest short-term benefit from all the wealth flowing into the city, but the Invictus could afford to take the longer-term view. And Tom had had a sizeable nest-egg to invest, in the form of his sire's treasury. By the time Victoria took the throne, all the survivors of the Great Fire, including Tom himself, were phenomenally rich from the proceeds of Britain's burgeoning Empire.

In 1703, a Kindred named Lisette arrived in London on a ship from Paris. She didn't speak openly of her allegiance at first, simply saying that she was a scholar who sought a deeper understanding of the Kindred condition. Marlowe merely shrugged, uninterested, and granted her leave to remain as long as she didn't disturb the peace of the Domain. Tom was more intrigued by what she had to say, and spend several long November nights in conversation with her, growing more and more fascinated with the practical and philosophical arguments she was making. Eventually, Lisette revealed her true affiliation, and Tom, lured by the promise of a means of controlling his hated Beast, became her secret sponsor and student. Lisette was far too canny to tie herself to a single patron, and was careful to establish an Ordo Dracul presence that was independent of Wyncham's patronage, but Tom's support was nonetheless immensely valuable in the Order's first nights in London. Tom, in turn, was careful that his involvement with the Dragons did nothing to jeopardize his position in the Invictus.

The Ordo Dracul at the start of the eighteenth century was still wracked by schism. Lisette had come to London in search of a major city which had been largely depopulated of its Kindred population, where the Sworn of the Mysteries could pursue its own vision for the future of the Order without challenge from the other two orders of Sworn. Although she inducted members into both the Axe and the Dying Light throughout the eighteenth century, it was the Sworn of the Mysteries who remained the dominant faction, with Lisette herself as their unquestioned leader. Tom was again quite content to play the role of lieutenant. His natural affinity for blood magic served him as well in learning the Coils as it once had in learning Theban sorcery (which he continued to do in a sporadic fashion after Lisette put him in communication with the Parisian Nosferatu, Fouchard).

As part of his training, Lisette assigned Wyncham the post of Balaur Gard for the London Ordo Dracul. Tom had always avoided creating ghouls himself, having developed a Phobia Derangement relating to untrammelled power over others in his time in Mercadier's court. But he found the subject intellectually fascinating. His aversion to enslaving others with the Vinculum suggested an interesting sideline of research - what was the effect on a living psyche of prolonged ghouldom without the side-effect of emotional bondage? That, he knew, could be achieved with the Vitae Reliquary.

In 1726, events forced him to put theory into practice. London had many "molly houses", (gay brothels), and Tom was accustomed to using them for feeding. But when his favourite molly house, Mother Clap's in Holborn, was raided, its proprietor, Margaret Clap, was savagely assaulted while in the stocks and ended up dying of internal injuries in Newgate Prison. Getting her out was relatively simple, but her injuries presented a simple choice between ghouldom and death. Mother Clap was happy to take the first option.

In 1732, Wyncham took the Oath of the Mysteries and started to assume more of a leadership role in the Ordo Dracul. That made it easier to juggle his dual allegiance to the Ordo and the Invictus, since he was able to steer the policies of both in such a way that they avoided coming into conflict. Lisette approved - Tom could protect the Ordo Dracul much more effectively as an Invictus than he could as a declared Dragon. But his preoccupation with Kindred politics left him distracted from his Temple duties, so that when a dispute between the Mages and Invictus blew up in 1742, he was caught by surprise. Hastily refocusing his attention, he helped the Uratha Iron Masters devise the Court of Others system and head the crisis off. Sobered by how close things had come to open conflict between Mages and Kindred, he started to concentrate more on Invictus and Temple matters than the affairs of the Dragons, and his studies and prestige in the Order suffered as a result.

One of Lisette's objectives towards the close of the eighteenth century was the establishment of a more secure system of communication between London's Dragons and those on the Continent. Tom, having placed his Invictus and Temple affairs on a more secure footing, volunteered for the job as a way of making up lost ground with the Dragons. His strategy was to infiltrate the smuggling networks on the south coast, using them as couriers who operated far from the gaze of London's Kindred.

Even as he set the operation up, he was contemplating another way to restore his status and make up for lost ground with his studies. The Ordo Dracul believed that torpor could offer profound insights if entered under the right conditions. After a century and a half of unlife, Tom could feel his blood thickening and his enthusiasm for his endless existence waning. Perhaps, he reasoned, he needed renewal. Unfortunately, that left Mother. Without a regular supply of vitae, she'd age and die, and without the Vitae Reliquary, she'd be enslaved.

That problem answered itself when Ralph Treganan, lieutenant to one of Tom's agents, was shot during a chase by a pursuing revenue ship. He was too badly injured to live... but the Embrace might save him. And it did. In 1793, Thomas Wyncham Embraced his second childe.

After a few years of training Ralph, including in the Vitae Reliquary, Wyncham first entered torpor in 1811. He emerged in 1814, having experienced visions which led him to suspect the presence of an undiscovered Wyrm's Nest near London. He found it, and purchased it - the future site of Pan's - before relapsing into a more extended sleep between 1818 and 1869.

He awoke to find Lisette had largely withdrawn from the leadership of the London Ordo Dracul, and the organization was starting to drift. Tom, now its oldest active member after Lisette herself, took the helm, with his teacher's full approval.

She might not have approved so strongly had she know that Wyncham had fallen under the influence of the Ladder-Sworn. He was approached for membership of the first rung in 1871, although he carefully deliberately avoided learning too much about the Upright. In fact, when he was offered membership of the second rung in 1911, he refused. While he accepts much of the Upright philosophy - and has in fact done a lot to implement it during his time as the leader of the London Order - he disagrees with the Sworn of the Ladder on one fundamental point. They seek divine forgiveness. Wyncham isn't even sure that God exists, and if He does, Tom thinks that the apologies are at least as much owed as owing. Although he has strong suspicions - and has promoted Dragons based on them - Tom doesn't know for certain just who amongst the London Ordo Dracul are Ladder-Sworn. For once, he's content to remain ignorant.

He resumed his usual feeding techniques, exploiting a number of illicit brothels throughout the city. When the scandal over one of them, the Eastern Palace, destroyed the career of Katherine Shaw, Tom quietly sponsored her membership of the Ordo Dracul, motivated largely by guilt. He didn't tell her that the Mages had asked the Kindred to protect Richard Bosworth, the man responsible for her fall, and he never spoke to her of his suspicions regarding the man's untimely death. But he asked Ralph Treganan to keep an eye on the family.

He began to explore the potential of the Durfield Estate, the future site of Pan's, laying the theoretical groundwork for the Coil of the Heart. Between that, reinvigorating the Dragons, and restoring his position in the Invictus, Tom was busily, and for the most part, happily, occupied during the later decades of the nineteenth century. Lisette left London in 1889, leaving him as the city's senior Dragon.

Then came the publication of Stoker's novel.

The London Dragons had always followed the Wallacian rite, with its emphasis on secrecy. But as the Invictus investigators closed in, the Sworn of the Mysteries concluded that secrecy was no longer sustainable. The Order of the Dragon emerged from the shadows and took its place as a Covenant in its own right. In 1898, Thomas Wyncham formally renounced his membership of the Invictus in favour of the Ordo Dracul

The initial political effect on London's Kindred was little short of cataclysmic. Several of Tom's fellow Primogen moved to dismiss him from the council, but Marlowe refused to bow to their demands. And in truth, Tom was too prominent and well-established an elder to be easily sidelined. Yet after the shock died down, the long-term effects were surprisingly small. Tom's duties - Primogen, Temple member, advisor to Prince Marlowe - were essentially unaffected.

Up until the end of the Victorian era, Hugh Marlowe had been a somewhat enlightened ruler. As an Invictus, he was certainly no democrat, but he did believe that the best prop for the continued dominance of the First Estate was the calculated self-interest of the Kindred community as a whole, rather than terror and oppression. Around World War One, however, he finally succumbed to the Ventrue curse of mental degeneration, just as the rise of the Carthian movement marked the first real challenge to Invictus dominance since the Great Fire. The two factors combined to make Marlowe's Princedom increasingly harsh and tyrannical.

Tom was torn. He felt deep ties of friendship and loyalty to Marlowe, who had, after all, stood by Tom when the Dragons had emerged from the shadows. But he could see that, if Marlowe kept on the way he was going, the Prince would likely find himself destroyed in a very bloody coup. Tom did his best to stabilize his friend's reign, working hard to mitigate his more egregious excesses, especially towards the Carthian Movement, but as time passed, Marlowe became more and more deaf to appeals to reason as his sanity gradually slipped.


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Andrew Fairburn, the leader of the Carthians, started to make subtle overtures to Wyncham, intimating that a bloodless coup would be better than one that left the Prince destroyed. Tom couldn't really argue with the logic of that, but he didn't trust Fairburn to deliver on his promises, and he still clung to hopes of pulling Marlowe back from the brink.

The deadlock was broken by the Seer, who had been exiled from London by Marlowe in 1911 for an alleged offence that neither was willing to discuss. Marlowe's blood was already thickened from his centuries of unlife and refusal to enter torpor, and the Seer claimed to be able to perform a Cruac ritual that would make the siren song of torpor irresistible to the Prince. Wyncham would be given custody of his friend's sleeping body, while the Carthians took Praxis. Reluctantly, Wyncham accepted the bargain and became a double agent against his long-term friend.

The plot, like its predecessor in the seventeenth century, was pre-empted when London was consumed in fire. The Blitz wouldn't have had a huge long-term impact if a well-organized plot to overthrow the Invictus hadn't already been in place, but as things stood, it allowed a nearly bloodless Carthian takeover to happen almost overnight.

Tom was the only "survivor" of the old Primogen, but he'd done enough favours - visible favours - for the Carthian movement, that his continued presence on the Council aroused no real animosity. He decided that it was prudent, though, to keep a low profile for a while.

When Emily Parkes, who took over from Arthur Fergusson as Herald to the Kindred after the latter's death in 1941, asked him to approach Ralph Treganan for help smuggling an SOE unit into and out of France, the reason she gave was that a young Mage with connections to the Consilium's leaders was a member of the unit. Tom didn't attach any particular significance to the request until he learned that Christopher Bosworth, Richard's grandson, was part of the same unit. Then he got interested. Interested enough that he actually chose to accompany the SOE group into occupied France, despite the danger, in an attempt to learn more. Ralph Treganan, whose pre-war contacts in France had largely joined the Resistance, was sympathetic enough to their cause, eager enough for excitement, and sufficiently pissed off with the Germans for disrupting his smuggling rackets, to come along as well.

Corwin Grayson, the SOE Mage, (although he used the alias "Russ McMaster" around the Kindred, a floating "cover identity" used by the Silver Ladder), was happy enough to have backup from two vampire elders while operating behind enemy lines in occupied France. He almost certainly knew the real reason for Ralph and Tom's presences, but neither he nor they ever acknowledged it. Christopher Bosworth remained blissfully unaware of all the activity centered on him for the entire length of his SOE service.

One particular mission did have a supernatural element, an assignment to assassinate an SS officer named Schanburg, who had been active in the Thule-Gesellschaft society and was known to have a variety of occult interests. Mindful of the brutal retaliation that had resulted from the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, they chose not to kill him themselves. Instead, Tom used his ability to adopt mist form to sneak into Schanburg's private quarters and plant documents which fframed him as a fraudster who'd been skimming SS funds for his own pocket. Schanburg was executed by an SS firing squad in 1944.

Directly after the war, Wyncham repeated his post-Great Fire strategy of investing in property, earning millions from the post-Blitz reconstruction. As the decades turned and the sixties swung, Tom swung with the best of them. Through the 1970s and 1980s he was deeply immersed in disco, counter-cultural rebellion and the Age of Aquarius. Most of the prevailing Zeitgeist was pure nonsense, but he found an occasional insightful mind to debate with amongst the dross - and feeding opportunities galore.


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As the moral climate gradually grew more censorious, though, feeding opportunities became rarer, and by the 1990s, Wyncham had decided to transform the Durfield Estate into a brothel of his own, one which would allow him to feed freely. The end result was Pan's. Wyncham gained considerable status amongst the Ordo Dracul for coming up with such a simple yet ingenious scheme to maintain and increase the Durfield Estate's potential as a Crucible. Unfortunately, after the Asylum Incident in February 2008, Wyncham was forced to close Pan's for good and turn the Durfield Estate over to the Uratha.

There was anger in the Ordo Dracul at the loss of such a potentially valuable resource, but he could have weathered that. Unfortunately, "Bloody" Mary Aldridge became curious about what had happened. She sent her agents to the Durfield Estate to investigate. After a couple of weeks of spying on the Uratha (who by now were swarming all over the place), she pieced together a fairly accurate picture of what had really happened, and approached Wyncham with a bargain: accept the vacant Kogaion position (and the reduced political role which it implied), as the price of her silence. Otherwise, she would reveal the existence of Heart's Desire to the Academy, and Wyncham could find himself facing a Juris Draconis on a charge of subjugating himself to spirits.

Wyncham considered the situation, but Bloody Mary held too strong a hand. If she made good on her threat, it might discredit not only Wyncham himself but also the Coil of the Heart, and the hope it held out to restore a Kindred's connection with humanity. Besides which, after having seen Nick almost tortured to death at Matthew Wynter's hands, he had reconsidered his priorities and decided to place his "family" first.

A far more adept politician than Bloody Mary, however, he was able to use the potential threat from Wayland's Smithy to push a new raft of restrictions on Kindred behaviour (particularly feeding behaviour), through the Council, making her victory more than a little hollow.

As part of the deal to hand the Durfield Estate over to the Uratha, Wyncham got agreement from the Uratha that some volunteers from their Polis would serve as his vessels. When the Temple ended Caspian's reign of terror and a Verge was discovered under his headquarters, the Wyvern pub in the London Docklands. Caspar Van Lutyens saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. He manoeuvred a group of three young, newly Changed Uratha into forming a pack to guard it, and then persuaded Tom to adopt the pub and the surrounding Old Town shopping mall as his new headquarters, with the pack - provisionally dubbed the Wyvern Pack - in residence there as his new Herd. The practical upshot of which was that Tom found himself footing the bill for keeping an Uratha guardian pack in residence.

He didn't mind. Actually, he was quite amused by Caspar's ingenuity and flair, and a Haven with a live-in werewolf pack as guards certainly had its advantages. With the pack united by their common love of, and talent for, music, he even got a house band for the pub out of the deal, not a bad result. At Nick Owen's suggestion, the pack renamed themselves the Midnight Garden Pack, a name they also adopted for their band. The in-joke - Tom's Midnight Garden - wasn't lost on anyone.


Image by Ulysses0302. Please do not use without permission


Since perfecting the second tier of the Coil of the Heart, meanwhile, Wycham has begun to contemplate a deeper betrayal - teaching his new Coil to his sister Sophia, in the hope of repairing their relationship by restoring the feelings they had for each other as mortals. At the moment, this is nothing more than an idle fancy, but the urge to do it may grow stronger in time.