Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Shadows of Eastern Europe

Among the living, Saxons, Szeklers, Vlachs and Romanians re-enact their hatred with each passing generation. The Cainites’ clans echo that racial contempt. This is the realm where the Tremere betrayed Saulot and the Salubri. Here, the Tzimisce devolved from their spiritual past into a race of inhuman predators. Hidden in the night, the Ventrue Eastern Lords dreamt of creating an empire that would tame the wilderness.

The legend continues. Over the course of the next few centuries, hordes of Mongols and Turks will threaten Europe, armies of peasants will rise up against their oppressors, and Lambach of Clan Tzimisce and Vladimir Dracul of Wallachia will sire a villain whose bestial ways will become legendary. As the tides of time wear at Transylvania, the Cainites create their legacy of shame.

In the 12th century, the Cainites of Hungary divided the voivodate of Transylvania into seven domains. From the Hungarian Cainites’ point of view, the Arpad Ventrue were fully entitled to rule over all seven realms. Using mortal history to support their goals, they espoused that the fierce Arpad warriors whose descendants formed the Hungarian nobility were the first race to civilize the Transylvanian lands of eastern Hungary. Noblemen supported Szekler tribesmen as the overlords of the voivodate, and enterprising Ventrue secured power on the fringes of Eastern Europe.

Transylvanian Cainites, however, were fiercely aware that the voivodate of Transylvania had always struggled for its freedom. To their way of thinking, the East had to be kept free from the turmoil of Western politics. Mortal rulers who showed reverence for the Catholic Church in Rome had no claim to govern peasants who practiced the Eastern Orthodox religion from Byzantium. According to their history, the original settlers of Roman Dacia were the ancestors of the Transylvanian serfs and peasants. This was their land, and the Vlachs would do anything to keep it.

Nonetheless, the Hungarians encouraged settlers from other nations to colonize Transylvania. Saxons from the Holy Roman Empire and other lands of the West helped build a series of cities in Transylvania. Cainite princes helped these cities grow quickly, and the undead rulers of the seven largest realms formed a coterie known as the Council of Ashes.

Since then, holding on to power in Transylvania has been an arduous task. In 1197, only four of the princes still rule, and three of them scheme against the Ventrue of the West. In their bids for power, they also maneuver against each other, echoing the treachery of the Tzimisce who compete with them for control of these dark lands. In the shadows, ambitious Tremere also watch and wait. Anything that breaks the unity of the Fiends affords them an opportunity to destroy their ancient enemies.

This is a dangerous game. Within a few scant decades, hordes of Mongol warriors will arrive from the East. A bestial Gangrel Inconnu traveling in the wake of the Eastern horde will want no less than the destruction of the cities of both the East and West. If eastern Transylvania and western Hungary cannot work together, all that the Cainites have worked to create will be destroyed.

Not far from the city of Bistria — the domain of Count Radu, the Tzimisce prince — Tihuta Pass affords the most promising invasion route for the Mongol horde. Already, Cainites have called for the construction of a castle to help hold off the invaders. They do not realize, however, the role this fortress will play in history.

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