Constantinople by Night: Twilight of Glory
Marcus Sertorius Postumus
Do not take me for a child...
Physical (Tertiary, 3 points)
Strength: 1 Marcus’ body is still that of a small child.
Dexterity: 4 There are certain discrete advantages to Marcus’ stature.
(Acrobatic) The immense force Marcus can generate coupled with his small weight and size renders him capable of dizzying feats.
Stamina: 2 Tougher than he looks, not that this is a great achievement.
Social (Secondary, 5 points)
Charisma: 3 Bears himself with the dignity and poise of a Roman citizen.
Manipulation: 3 A steel will mated to a quick mind tends to get what it wants.
Appearance: 3 His childish looks appeal only to those of diseased intent.
Mental (Primary, 7 points)
Perception: 4 Learned early in his miserable unlife to watch everything from the shadows.
(Attentive) Marcus cultivated a keen eye for detail watching the machinations of his ‘betters’.
Intelligence: 3 His discerning mind and classical education have served Marcus well.
Wits: 4 Wits can be sharpened like a sword, by repeated application of a proper stone.
Talents (Primary, 13 points)
Alertness: 2 Always on his guard, Marcus is generally quite conscious of his surroundings.
Awareness: 2 The world is replete with strange and mysterious forces, and Marcus assumes most of them mean him harm. Knowing when they are about is only prudent. And there are so many now who want him ill…
Athletics: 4 Small and quick, Marcus is very good at evading trouble. And when Toreadors with dueling sabres are trying to rip you to pieces, this is a skill to cultivate.
(Dodge) Marcus is a hard target to hit, and does his level best to make himself harder still.
Empathy: 2 The suffering of children still triggers flashbacks to Marcus’ own childhood. And try as he might, he is not as immune to such things as he pretends.
Expression: 4 Classically trained by rhetors and grammarians, Marcus comes from an age of oratory. And despite the handicaps he operates under thanks to his child’s voice and stature, he has studied his field well.
(Oration) Marcus studied from the shadows as Caesar and Cicero addressed the forum. He may not be their equal, but he believes himself to be the closest thing this degenerate age has ever seen.
Intimidation: 2 Despite his small stature and young age, Marcus can make his displeasure very well known.
Legerdemain: 1 His time spent among the lowly has taught him a thing or two.
Leadership: 5 Young though he appears, Marcus still commands the ineffable quality of ‘Romanitas’. His thousand-year-old will flames like a newborn star when the time comes to assert his authority. If he is truly the last Roman alive, then the world will know what it is to encounter one.
(Command) Marcus knows full well that he cuts a ridiculous figure with his child’s voice, size, and appearance. He has studied every trick of psychology and rhetoric to counteract this, seeking to transform himself into a living conduit for his sun-bright will.
Performance: 2 When one looks like a child, it becomes useful to know how to act like one.
Subterfuge: 4 Plunged by himself into the snake’s den that is Constantinople, Marcus is fast learning how to properly mistrust. Such is necessary when one engages the Settites in such games. And Marcus’ need for a bodyguard of lies is only getting greater.
(Selective Omission) Lying is un-Roman, but not everyone is prepared to handle the whole truth.
Skills (Tertiary, 5 points)
Animal Ken: 3 If the manly virtues cannot be found in men, then Marcus has sought for them elsewhere. And an up-and-coming Roman has need of a standard-bearer.
Etiquette: 2 Not every encounter can be resolved at sword-point or with indignation. Marcus has had to learn how to say the right thing. And by and large, has done so.
Melee: 4 All Romans trained with weapons, but few of them had such purpose behind their training as Marcus did.
(Swords) Marcus’ sword, Arx Tarpeia, is his instrument of vengeance. And few can play it with such vigor.
Stealth: 4 It’s easier to hide in the shadows when they obey you. And being hunted through a city of iniquity and pain has a way of focusing one’s attention on said skill.
(Shadows) When all you have is a shadow…
Survival: 1 Children do not have an easy time of it in the dark ages, but one perseveres.
Knowledges (Secondary, 9 points)
Academics: 2 His classical education has the advantage of being vintage.
Investigation: 2 Children see all, and understand far more than they are assumed to.
Occult: 6 Be it stolen from his master or acquired honestly, Marcus understands his condition better than most. His constant researches into the source of his vampiric abilities, and ritualistic prayers and sacrifices to his ancient Roman Gods is beginning to bear fruit. Of course, there are shortcuts to such knowledge, such as consuming the mind and soul of a Settite Heirophant for instance, not that this is a relevant matter.
(Obtenebration) Marcus serves the Cthonic gods of Roman darkness. The pinnacle of his esoteric knowledge is the proper practice of his literally dark arts.
Theology – Roman Pagan: 2 The gods of Rome are abandoned now, forsaken by the peoples that once held them dear. Marcus however, as the last of the Romans (in his own mind at least), still tends their flames and the contracts that bound them to the Roman people.
Politics: 2 Marcus never had the opportunity to learn to navigate the political currents from his father. But immortality has its benefits, and Constantinople does not claim to be Rome for nothing…
Conscience: 4 Having tasted blood servitude once, Marcus will not permit it to touch his life again.
Self-Control: 4 A Roman must exercise Stoic control, and Marcus strives to be nothing else.
Courage: 5 Marcus’ capacities may be in doubt. His bravery has never been.
Willpower: 8 Capable of shattering his own Blond Bond by act of concentrated will.
Via Romanitas: 7 A modification of his own personal concept of Romanitas. Monsters and horrors, to say nothing of the need to confront Perpenna on his own level, has forced Marcus to make concessions to need. But this is the price of playing games of this level.
10: Neglecting your duty for any reason. (Though he tries his best, Marcus has had to modify his concept of ‘duty’ somewhat since his arrival in these new nights. Perhaps it is not Roman to defer his search for vengeance to help the indigent and helpless. But then, as the last Roman alive, is it not up to Marcus to decide what is appropriate in these nights?)
9: Dishonorable acts (ambush, deceit, etc). (Perpenna killed Marcus’ father by surprise while he was unarmed and unable to defend himself. When Marcus repays him, he intends to watch the sword fall from his hand, and stare into his eyes as the life leaves them.)
8: Treating another with disrespect. (Assuming one merits respect, Marcus is too much the Roman to wantonly abuse them. The trick of course is meeting standards that few people could meet even a thousand years ago.)
7: Behaving in an unjust manner. (Marcus hails from a time when Roman justice did still mean something, and this Christianized age has not completely forgotten the time when the writ of Rome ensured justice for the common man.)
6: Behaving shamefully before your peers. (A Roman would rather die than act shamefully. More than one Roman of Marcus’ acquaintance did so.)
5: Failing to come to the aid of those in need. (Having suffered cruelty, degradation, and abuse from a young age, Marcus has half-consciously set himself against those who would re-enact such torments on the children of this period. Though he would never admit as much even to himself, with Perpenna likely dead in modern nights, it is one of the only things besides an empty search that keeps him going.)
4: Treating a superior with disrespect. (Marcus does not recognize that Perpenna was ever his superior, and he certainly did not conduct himself as one. Should Marcus somehow encounter someone worthy of the title, it is likely he would curb his tendency towards summary action and bluntness. But as this has yet to happen, one can only theorize.)
3: Failing to answer a challenge to your honor. (Impugning Marcus’ Dignitas is the last thing that several different individuals did in places as scattered as Naples, Athens, and Thessalonika. Marcus has no problem adding Constantinople to that list.)
2: Breaking your word. (Marcus doesn’t give his word often, but when he does, it is an event worth remembering, at least to him. If only to separate himself further from his hated sire, he does not engage in the duplicitous backstabbing that Perpenna and many other Romans found to be second nature.)
1: Breaking a sworn oath. (A practical society well supplied with laws and lawyers, the Romans saw oaths as legal contracts between themselves and the Gods. To break one was to cut oneself off from the panoply of deities that regulated the vital forces of a Roman’s life. Having had literally everything else taken away from him either by Perpenna or the passage of centuries, all Marcus has left of his Roman heritage is his sword, and his Gods. Giving up either would leave him utterly lost in the decayed world of the dark ages, and he would quite literally rather die than do so.)
Generation: 6 Marcus hails from an age where the blood ran thicker than it does today. And he has taken the necessary steps to ensure that when he finally meets Perpenna, it will be on an even footing.
Herd: 2 A number of urchins, paupers, and pickpockets have occasionally sought his aid in exchange for other payment…
Resources: 1 A child does not have the opportunities for wealth that an adult does, and Marcus has little beyond the barest minimum.
Contacts: 1 Though this is not his city, Marcus has made contact with a few of the forgotten street urchins that people it.
Dominate: 3 Reticent as Marcus is about Dominating others, he is more than capable of doing so.
- Observantiam Verbum: With one word, Caesar felled armies. With one word, Marcus can at least fell his fellows.
- Susurrans Fallacibus Voluntatis: A Roman commands. A slave obeys.
- Memoria Saltator: The Settites have sown the air. They will reap the whirlwind.
Obtenebration: 5 Marcus’ only protection comes from his own wits, and the shadows that dance to his command. His mastery of the darkness has been enhanced by the blessings of his patron deities, Nyx and Erebus, the Lady of Night and Lord of Darkness, and he commands them now as few do, even in these dark ages.
- Ludum Umbralis: The earliest trick that Marcus ever learned was how to wrap himself in shadow whenever his new master was looking for someone to take his frustrations out on.
- Nocturnum: Darkness is not a foe to those who master it. And equalizers are to be cherished by those in positions of weakness.
- Arma Erebi: Erebus, God of Primal Darkness, has for obvious reasons become one of Marcus’ most favored Gods. His diligence and fidelity have been rewarded with the command of these minions of darkness.
- Phantasia Noctae: Shadows can be turned to purposes other than pure darkness. Shadows can be used to generate images in the minds of those who look for what they expect to see.’
- Corpus Tenebrum: To serve Erebus is good. To receive Erebus’ gifts is better. But to become Erebus…
Potence: 3 Marcus may be a child in form, but his soul is as iron-hard as any Roman. And given the need, he will shatter mountains with nothing but the force of his own inflamed will.
Celerity: 3 Having sworn to kill a thousand-year-old Methuselah, Marcus has taken every opportunity to acquire the means. And those means have been sharpened by the need to defend himself against all comers. Unable to rely on size to defeat his enemies, Marcus has cultivated blistering speed mated with preternatural agility, and trusts to the Zephyrs to see him through the rest.
Auspex: 1 Diligent practice and a city full of serpents has led to Marcus diversifying into other skills.
- Sensum Acrior: Children see all. Marcus sees more.
Fortitude: 2 As one acquires enemies in the medieval nights, Marcus has discovered that there are advantages to also acquiring the means to resist them.
Obfuscate: 1 The shadows are the cradle of any Lasombra. But one cannot stay in the cradle forever…
- Pallium Umbras: They say children should be seen, and not heard. Marcus thinks they’re half-right.
Presence: 1 Romanitas is more than simple skill at war or politics. Romanitas is in many ways ineffable.
- Auctoritas: When a Roman speaks, others listen and obey. This was once the way of the world. So shall it be again.
Animalism: 1 The beasts of the world will come to know what men have forgotten: that a Roman’s word is to be respected and obeyed.
- Lingua Maesta: Literal eagle-eyes may prove an advantage in the conflicts to come…
Child (3 pt Flaw): Locked forever in the body of his nine-year-old self, Marcus cannot hide as others do, and even many Kindred refuse to take him seriously. All he can do is try to persevere with the tools given to him.
Vengeance (2 pt Flaw): Marcus’ sire slaughtered his family, and bound him forever into a hellish existence as a creature of the night enslaved to his master’s twisted designs. If it takes Marcus until the ending of the world, he will see Perpenna dead for what he has done.
Outspoken Pagan (4 pt Flaw, provides 2 points): Whether willing to or not, Marcus simply cannot understand the Christian world well enough to blend into it. He could no more disown his Roman gods than he could his Roman nature, and he views the rise of Monotheism with undisguised horror. To him, Christianity and Islam are proof that he is now living in a degenerate age.
Iron Will (3 pt Merit): Marcus’ Blood Bond was intended to last forever. Having found the mental strength to shatter it, Marcus has armored himself against anyone who would clap him back into metaphysical chains.
Demeanor: Tyrant, Roman to his core, and constantly underestimated by his peers thanks to his apparent age, Marcus prefers to rely solely on his own strengths when getting anything done. Allies are generally unreliable and may have their own agenda, and the only people Marcus can truly trust are himself and his shadows. If he wants anything done right, Marcus knows precisely who needs to do it.
Nature: Defender, Buried deep somewhere within Marcus’ external facade of stoic Romanitas, lies a traumatized, terrified child staring down the fangs of the vampire whom he just watched murder his father and mother. All that has happened since that night and this has scabbed over this terrible wound, but the scars remain. Much as he may try to stoically accept the nature of the world, the sight of children or other helpless folk being abused by those with power above them strikes Marcus very personally. Though he would never go so far as to call this sort of thing his duty or mission, at least not out loud, he takes it upon himself to mete bitter, vicious justice to abusers who cross his path. Every one he destroys is one less to spread their pain in the world.
Arx Tarpeia: Marcus has little to his name: a small collection of silver coin from his previous encounters throughout the Mediterranean, a patched-together set of hardened leather armor (adjusted to his size), and the clothes on his back. But beyond this, the sole possession of Marcus’ that he truly values, is his father’s sword, an Iberian-pattern Gladius of tremendous antiquity, the very weapon Quintus Sertorius wore the night he was murdered by Marcus Perpenna Vento, the same sword that Marcus Sertorius raised against his sire on that fateful night in the forum twelve hundred years ago. For more than a thousand years it lay buried beside its torpored master, and with it, Marcus spilled the first blood he would taste in the Medieval nights. The sword has no special powers, no blood-sealed enchantments of damnation and ruin. It is but a simple sword, no different save for age than a hundred thousand like it, yet in one respect it is unique. Embedded within the sword’s hilt is a small chip of granite stone, a tiny fragment of Rome’s infamous Tarpeian Rock, the traditional Roman execution site for arch-traitors. With this symbolic addition, Marcus named the sword Arx Tarpeia, his personal Tarpeian Rock, the instrument with which he would finally punish the betrayal and depravity of his hated sire. And baring death, ruin, or the ending of the world, Arx Tarpeia will not leave Marcus’ side until the day he uses it to cut out Perpenna’s black heart.
More than a thousand years before the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Isaac II, a Roman citizen of Plebian status and rank named Quintus Sertorius rose to prominence during the first years of the first century BC. Winner of the elusive Grass Crown for valor in combat, and cousin to the immortal Gaius Marius, Sertorius gained a reputation for tactical skill and acumen as well as an attachment to the rich lands of Roman Spain, the site of many of his adventures and quaestorian assignments. In the year of the Consulship of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus and Gaius Norbanus Balbus (83BC), the great Roman war between the Populares, adherents of the late Marius, and the Optimates, centered around Lucius Cornelius Sulla, exploded into full flower. Sulla and his army, freshly returned from the First Mithridatic War, squared off against the Populares forces under the command of such men as Gaius Marius Junior and Gnaeus Papirius Carbo. Though the Populares commanded larger forces, Sulla’s troops were veterans, and he and his legates were by far the more skilled generals, easily outmaneuvering the Populares and destroying them in a series of pitched battles up and down Italia. In the midst of this campaign, perceiving the way that the political and military winds were blowing, Quintus Sertorius abandoned Italy for the Roman provinces of Hispania, intending there to raise an army of Spaniards and expatriate Romans to oppose Sulla and his legates and restore Populare control of Rome.
Once arrived in Spain, Sertorius wasted no time in destroying the forces arrayed against him, defeating Optimate generals and armies many times his own size, and establishing a Roman-style regime in Spain with the co-operation of both Populare refugees and local Spanish tribes. By 82 BC, not only had Sertorius established almost total control over both nearer and further Spain, but he had cemented his authority by wedding the daughter of one of the most senior chiefs of the Celtiberian peoples of central Spain. It was from this union that Marcus Sertorius was born in the fall of 81 BC, shortly before Quintus engaged in the first battles of what would come to be called the Sertorian War.
For ten long years, Marcus’ father held sway over Spain, defeating army after army sent to roust him by Sulla and his successors. Even the arrival of the great Pompey Magnus in 76 BC did little to disrupt Sertorius’ control of the peninsula. Ultimately, however, treachery from within did what all the armies of Rome could not. Many Roman nobles had come to Spain to assist Sertorius, and been rewarded with senior commands or positions in his government, but unbeknownst to Sertorius, one such nobleman, Marcus Perpenna Vento, was not what he appeared to be. Known to his contemporaries as nothing more than a Patrician mediocrity with more ancestors than accomplishments, Perpenna believed himself to be unjustly deprived of supreme command by Sertorius, a plebeian hayseed from Samnium with no ancestors worth speaking of. For many years, Perpenna sulked about Spain, periodically attempting and failing to supplant Sertorius as leader of the Spanish republic, until one night, somewhere in the vast expanse of the Iberian peninsula, Perpenna encountered a shadowy Vampire of the Lasombra clan, who promised him the power to obtain his rightful dues in exchange for any number of twisted and perverse favors. Readily agreeing to the Vampire’s requests, Perpenna used his position to provide slaves, wealth, and even sacrificial victims to his master, in exchange for which he finally received the Embrace himself, joining the ranks of the Magisters of the night.
So it was that, in 72 BC, Marcus Perpenna Vento returned to Sertorius’ camp and, with the aid of his vampiric disciplines, suborned a number of Sertorius’ lieutenants into arranging their master’s demise. In the course of a dinner party to which Perpenna and others had been invited, Perpenna and his men fell upon and slaughtered Sertorius himself as well as his Iberian wife and bodyguards, all in front of the horrified eyes of Sertorius’ now nine-year-old son, Marcus. With Sertorius’ death, his army and government disintegrated, leaving the remnants of his army to be crushed by Pompey the great.
History recorded nothing of Marcus Sertorius, preferring to concentrate instead on the careers of the men who had fought against his father, but contrary to all expectation, Perpenna did not slay the only son of Quintus Sertorius, preferring instead to enact a perpetual revenge against the plebeian upstart who had dared usurp the ‘rightful’ authority of a patrician Roman. To that end, Perpenna decided, with impeccable Roman form, to degrade his enemy’s clan for all time through the best method he knew. Barely a month past his ninth birthday, Marcus Sertorius was embraced as a fledgeling vampire by his father’s murderer, and bound to serve Perpenna as his errand boy, retainer and slave, by Perpenna’s intention, forever.
Returning to Rome in the company of his new master, Marcus was forced to watch as his master integrated himself into Vampiric society in Rome, employing Marcus in whatever capacity he chose, from spy and errand-runner to Ellysium ornament, farmed-out slave worker, and even more degrading roles whenever the notion struck or his machinations suffered a setback. Enslaved to his father’s murderer by the power of the blood bond, Marcus could only suffer in silence, subjected to every form of humiliation and insult that Perpenna could imagine, a proxy target for his slain father. But for all his depravity, Perpenna was no fool. A neonate vampire himself, of low standing within the hierarchy, Perpenna could not afford to squander a slave-vampire like Marcus entirely to his own dissipation. What little bits of vampiric power Marcus obtained was given grudgingly to him by his hated sire, the better to enable him to do his master’s will. Protected by the blood bond, and despising his childe as a mongrel wretch, Perpenna thought himself safe.
Had Perpenna only known what churned within the depths of his childe, he might not have been so complacent. The frightened, horrified child Perpenna had embraced, and whom he believed he still controlled, had, under his painful tutelage, grown into something else entirely. Though Perpenna knew that Marcus loathed him, he did not, perhaps could not comprehend the seething, roiling depths of Marcus’ anger and hate. Every degradation, every abuse, every insult heaped upon the child of Quintus Sertorius had sharpened Marcus’ burning desire to avenge his father and himself upon the person of Marcus Perpenna Vento. Enslaved by his blood bond, Marcus dared dream of nothing but the faintest hope of an external salvation, of Perpenna’s demise at the hands of his carnivorous fellows, or some other divine miracle that might free him. Every night, he prayed to the numinous, alien gods of the Roman Pantheon to grant him release, never once suspecting that ultimately, the answer would come from within.
There was no discrete moment when Marcus’ blood bond failed. Like an iron chain slowly corroded by acid, Marcus strained against it night in and night out without even realizing what he was doing, his willpower inflamed by every successive humiliation and wrong. Slowly, he began to realize that Perpenna’s hold was slipping, that the commands and compulsions he used to force the young vampire to his will were becoming less strong, their siren call less alluring. Scarcely daring to hope that it might prove permanent, he hid this diminution from his master, feigning loyalty while working with every ounce of his being for treason. Month after month, year after year, the bond slipped further away, until the night Marcus’ hate overcame all residual bonds of slavery, and Marcus took his bloody revenge.
Near the end of the Consulship of Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus and Marcus Valerius Messalla Rufus (53 BC), the civil disorder that had plagued the faltering republic for three generations exploded in the worst riot that even Roman history records. Following the murder of the demagogue Publius Clodius Pulcher, the lower classes of Rome, whipped into a frenzy by Pulcher’s widow and surviving supporters, erupted into an orgy of violence and destruction unmatched in all the violent years of Rome’s internal strife. And it was during this terrible riot, as Rome clashed and burned around them, that after twenty years of abject slavery and utter degradation, Marcus Sertorius stole his father’s sword from the house of his sire, Marcus Perpenna Vento, and attempted, with every bit of his strength, moral and vampiric, to murder him.
Violent as the riots surrounding them were, they paled in comparison to the ferocity with which Marcus assaulted Perpenna, bending shadow, steel, blood and hatred into a living conduit for his pent-up hatred and rage. All night, the two Lasombra did battle through burning streets and shadow-cloaked rooftops, cutting a path of ruin through the city from the Aventine Hill to the Forum Romanum. With the rest of the city’s Kindred occupied in ducking for cover or trying to seize control of the frenzied mob, Marcus and Perpenna were left alone to wage their private war. Ultimately, though, the power of Marcus’ incandescent anger was not enough to overcome Perpenna’s superior strength, skill, and blood potency. Though Marcus dealt his sire the cruelest blows he could muster, Perpenna ultimately prevailed over his disloyal childe, beating him to his knees before casting him into the burning ruins of the Senate House to be consumed by the flames. Yet before the fires could accomplish their task, the Senate House itself collapsed around Marcus, burying him in an avalanche of marble and brick, leaving him locked in silent torpor beneath its ruins, apparently dead to all concerned. When, the next day, Pompey the Great finally quelled the great Clodian Riots, the Romans set to work repairing the damage caused by the unrest. Leveling off the site and constructing a new Senate House, neither the Kindred of Rome nor the masses they lived amongst had any conception that Marcus still lived, entombed yet alive, apparently for all time.
For twelve hundred years, Marcus Sertorius remained buried beneath the ruins of the Roman Forum, his existence and name forgotten by scholarship and history alike. Above him, Rome fell and rose again only to fall once more, and played host to kings and emperors, warlords and mercenaries, popes and sinners alike. Through sieges, sacks, and celebrations, Marcus slept, until, in 1181 AD, during one of the near-constant upheavals that accompanied the waxing and waning fortunes of the so-called “Commune of Rome”, a young girl fleeing the attentions of a trio of bandits took refuge in a freshly-opened chasm within the ruins of the forum, and discovered something she had not expected to find. That all three bandits died screaming, and not the girl they had chased, was, to be honest, more a matter of luck than intent, but Marcus, newly awakened and re-released back into the world, later interpreted it as a sign from one of his gods.
The world Marcus re-entered was almost unrecognizable. Rome, the eternal capital of the world, was gone, a ruined graveyard studded by lesser men who fought over its leavings. The entire philosophical framework of the classical age had vanished with it, replaced by new and alien faiths and concepts that he could scarcely understand let alone begin to espouse. Of the few Kindred he had known before his epic duel with Perpenna, none remained in these new, degenerate nights. And as to Perpenna himself, he might as well have never existed.
Now truly free for the first time in his life, living or dead, Marcus found himself at something of a loss. He recognized that after twelve centuries, his sire was likely dead, or if not, well beyond the ken of a neonate Lasombra such as himself. Yet for twenty years, revenge against Perpenna for his betrayed father and murdered mother and the terrible degradations he had been subjected to for no reason other than Patrician jealousy had been his all-consuming wish. Unsure of his footing in this Christ-centered world, he drifted away from the ruins of Rome, stopping in Sicily, in Athens, in Salonika and Adrianople, moving on in every case after a year or two, hunting all the while for any sign of Marcus Perpenna Vento.
So it was that in the year 1195 of a calendar he still could not quite get himself to think in, Marcus Sertorius, now cognominated Postumus (having reasoned that he had been reborn after the death of his father), arrived in the grandest city in the world. Constantinopolis, capital of the so-called Roman Empire, bore no resemblance at all to either the city of Byzantium it had once been, nor the city of Rome it now claimed to be. Yet it remained a metropolis on a scale unrivalled within this new, dark age world, and Marcus managed to disappear into it without much difficulty. In one respect, even Marcus had to acknowledge that Constantinople had equaled Rome, for the city was as riven as Rome had been with competing factions of Vampires, locked beneath a veneer of civility already beginning to fracture around the edges. Yet the politics of the Second Rome were of little interest to Marcus, excluded as he was from much of Kindred society by virtue of his child’s body, little wealth, and lack of established contacts amongst the Byzantine Kindred. Ensconcing himself quietly into the midst of the city’s destitute and forgotten, Marcus continued his search for any trace of his elusive, possibly-dead sire, intent even after twelve centuries on finding his sire and avenging himself and his extinct clan, whether in this world or the next.
Of mixed Italian, Spanish, and Celtiberian stock, Marcus Sertorius would resemble largely any other Lasombra, save that he was embraced at the age of nine. Though more than twelve hundred years have passed since Perpenna inducted him into a world of darkness and shadow, he remains locked within a child’s body to this very day. Small and thin, with tanned skin and dark, almost black eyes, Marcus dresses as a commoner’s child, in belted tunics, rough-spun cloaks, and sandals, with little-to-no ornamentation or decoration to distinguish himself. When warranted, he has been known to wear a suit of patchwork leather, hardened and quilted, sufficient to turn a glancing blow or deflect an arrow, but little more. The sole object of note (beyond his clan weakness of course) that would serve to distinguish him from any other poor child on the streets of the new Rome is his sword, a Roman-style Gladius of evident age but maintained with equally evident care, which Marcus generally keeps upon himself at all times, concealing it when necessary within his cloak or tunic.
Though usually quiet and unobtrusive, Marcus has an intensity to him perceptible by those who deal with him, Kine or Kindred. Having torn himself free of his blood bond by supreme and persistent act of will, he has little patience for notions of being told what he must and must not do, no matter how well intentioned they might be. The temporal displacement of his millenia-long torpor combined with the violent and abusive manner with which he was inducted into and previously made to live within the world of vampirism has forced him to construct walls of stone and armor around himself, anchoring himself to his new identity as one of the last Romans alive. Though in life he was merely a half-breed son of a Plebeian rebel, in undeath he considers himself the last embodiment of Romanitas, and having been subjected to terrible degradation for most of his un-life, he is more than prepared to fight to the death in defense of his own Dignitas. To do anything else would be to dishonor himself, and by extension his murdered father, whom he has posthumously invested with all of the proper virtues of a towering Roman patriarch.
But for all his pretensions of Romanitas, Marcus does not share many of the drives typical of his clan, something that should come as no surprise given the odd circumstances (by the standards of the Lasombra) that attended his embrace. Despite the many advantages it has afforded him, Marcus has always seen his vampiric nature as yet another degradation inflicted upon him by his hated sire. As such, Vampiric society as a whole, with its games of politics and influence, holds little attraction to him, something not helped by his young appearance, which often leads to slanders and crude dismissals by kindred who still see him as a mere child. Though he will play the game if he absolutely must, all he sees within it are the same chains that once bound him. This disinclination towards influence games and power struggles has its price, for Marcus has few resources at his disposal beyond his own wits, though he has managed to convince himself, by and large, that this is no flaw, as his primary object is still vengeance.
Yet if Marcus thinks of himself as a typically stoic Roman, he is kidding himself, for beneath his quiet exterior is a seething cauldron of rage drawn less from the Beast than from his own inflamed will. The predations of his sire, and the terrible indignities he was subjected to while still a child, still burn his psyche like a brand. When confronted with acts of what he considers to be manifest injustice, especially against children, Marcus will respond with all the fury of his Roman forebears. Utterly without hesitation or fear in confronting such malefactors, Marcus’ small size belies a towering rage that generally comes to the fore in the presence of such reminders of what was once done to him, and he will pitilessly destroy those who transgress against his unspoken moral sense, no matter their status or power.
Having felt the chains of blood bond before, Marcus does not employ them for any reason, and uses his Lasombric powers of Domination with much greater reticence than most Lasombra would, having never managed to fully convince himself that it is entirely different from what his Sire once did to him. What contacts he has cultivated in Constantinople are among the poor and forgotten, and particularly the gangs of street children, runaways, and orphans that have plied the streets of every major city since time immemorial. Able to easily disguise himself as one of their number, Marcus serves as a sort of protector-of-last-resort to many children who would otherwise have nowhere to turn, and severely punishes any who would seek to transgress with them as his sire did with him.
Religiously, Marcus is scrupulously devout in his own way, specifically in the traditional faith of his Roman forebears. To him, the monotheistic faiths that arose after his torpor are at best perplexing and at worst downright pernicious. His conception of religion is entirely alien to “modern” sensibilities, divorced as it is from all concept of sin or morality. Though he does not make a habit of antagonizing everyone he meets, he does not disguise his paganism, and finds the concept of submission to Islam, Christ, or any other modern faith to be somewhere between an insult to his intelligence and one to his dignitas. And as anyone acquainted with classical Rome knows, insulting a Roman’s dignitas is the best way to escalate the conversation to swordplay.