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Praise for David Niall Wilson

David Wilson has taken the horror genres most v:nerable icon-the vampire-to a new level of transcendence. --Thomas Monteleone, author of The Resurrectionist & Blood of the Lamb David Niall Wilson is one of the genres brightest new stars. Darkly brilliant and intensely literate, his work accomplishesa rare feat-it challenges, it frightens, and it succeeds.I wouldnt miss anything he writes. -Richard Chizmar, editor of Cemetery Dance Magazine

And for the Dark Ages

Clan Novel Series
For Dark A es: Nosferatu by G h e r od Fleming

Well-written [and] by one of White Wolfs best current authors ... -John Margaritsanakis,E x Libis Nocturnis [Fleming] does not disappoint ... Four out of five stars. -Lars
KAre M. Sukka, RPG United

For Dark Ages: Assamite by S t e f a n Petrucha There are quite a few twists and turns and a level of thoughtfulness that take this above the average vampire adventure. Dark Ages: Assamite is an imaginative and grippingwinner. -Jim Brock, Baryon Magazine For Dark Ages: Cappadocian by A n d r e w Bates . An excellent novel.. . very entertaining.. .. -Ralph Dula, RPG.net

Dark Ages and Vampire Fiction from White Wolf

The Dark Ages Clan Novel Series
Dark Ages: Nosferatu by Gherbod Fleming Dark Ages: Assamite by Stefan Petmcha Dark Ages: Cappadocianby Andrew Bates Dark Ages: Setite by Kathleen Ryan Dark Ages: Lasombra by David Niall Wilson

Other Dark Ages Fiction Dark Tyrants by JustinAchilli & Robert Hatch (editors) The Erciyes Fragments by C. S. Friedman To Sift Through Bitter Ashes by David Niall Wilson To Speak in Lifeless Tongues by David Niall Wilson To Dream of Dreamers Lost by David Niall Wilson

The Clan Novel Series Clan Novel: Toreador by Stewart Wieck Clan Novel: Tzimisce by Eric Griffin Clan Novel: Gangrel by Gherbod Fleming Clan Novel: Setite by Kathleen Ryan Clan Novel: Ventrue by Gherbod Fleming Clan Novel: Lasombra by Richard E. Dansky Clan Novel: Assamite by Gherbod Fleming Clan Novel: Ravnos by Kathleen Ryan Clan Novel: Malkavian by Stewart Wieck Clan Novel: Giovanni by Justin Achilli Clan Novel: Brujah by Gherbod Fleming Clan Novel: Tremere by Eric Griffin Clan Novel: Nosferatu by Gherbod Fleming
Also by David Niall Wilson
Childrenof Gaia in Tribe Novel #5: Children of Gaia &a Uktena Wraith: Except You Go Through Shadow (included in The Essential World of Darkness) For all these titles and more, visit www.white-wolf.com/fiction

David Niall Wilson

AD 1206

Fifth of t h e Dark Ages Clan Novels

Cover art by John Bolton. Map by Conan Venus. Graphic design by Kieran Yanner. Art direction by Richard Thomas. Copyediting by Melissa Thorpe.
02003 White Wolf, Inc. All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical-including photocopy, recording, Internet posting, electronic bulletin board+[ any otherinformation storage and retrieval system, except for the purpose of reviews, without permission from the publisher. White Wolf is committed to reducing waste in publishing. For this reason, we do not permit our covers to be stripped for returns, but instead require that the whole book be returned, allowing us to resell it.

All persons, places, and organizations in this book-except those clearly

in the public domain-are fictitious, and any resemblance that may seem to exist to actual persons, places, or organizations living, dead, or defunct IS purely coincidental. The mention of or reference to any companies or products in these pages is not a challenge to the trademarks or copyrights concerned. White Wolf and Vampire ate registered trademarks of White Wolf Publishing, Inc. Dark Ages Vampire, Dark Ages Nosferatu, Dark Ages Assamite, Dark Ages Cappadocian, Dark Ages Setite, Dark Ages Lasombra, Dark Ages Ravnos To Sift Through Bitter Ashes, To Speak in Lifeless Tongues, To Dream of Dreamers Lost, Dark Tyrants, The Erciyes Fragments, Clan Novel Toreador, Clan Novel Tzimisce, Clan Novel Gangrel, Clan Novel Setite, Clan Novel Ventrue, Clan Novel Lasombra, Clan Novel Assamite, Clan Novel Ravnos, Clan Novel Malkavian, Clan Novel Giovanni, Clan Novel Brujah, Clan Novel Tremere, Clan Novel Nosferatu and Tribe Novel Children of Gaia & Uktena are trademarks of White Wolf Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

ISBN 1-58846-820-8 First Edition: April 2003

Printed i n Canada W h i t e Wolf Publishing 1554 Litton Drive Stone Mountain, GA 30083


This book is dedicated to Trish, who makes all things in my life possible, including insane deadlines and creative darkness. I would also like to grateful11y acknowledge Mr. William Hartman for his interest in the World of Darkness, his creative addition to this volume, and his amazing generosity.

Finally, Id like to dedicate this to my little bro ther. It was a long time coming, but when he started I-eading, he did me the extra honor of loving my writing, 1 and the vampire Montrovant from the Grails Yovenant Trilogy. Heres another one, bro.


S I I ~ L Cm

e riiibguiueu rwurui Lrubaut: W L K ~ U

and looted the golden city of Constantinople. T h e Franks and V e n e t i a n s r a l l e d simply Latins by the local Greeks-have carved up the fallen city and empire, founding their Latin Empire of Byzantium. Already they face threats from the Bulgars in Thrace and various Greek successor states, but for now a Frenchman sits o n the throne of the Second Rome. Away from the eyes of men, in the benighted world of vampires, things are n o less chaotic. Michael, the powerful predator who ruled as patriarch of the Byzantine undead has been destroyed, and none have stepped forward t o succeed him. Among Greek vampires, all hopes rest with Malachite, a member of the Nosferatu clan. H e is said to be on a quest across Anatolia to find the Dracon, a n ancient who had a hand in founding Byzantium. Among the Latins, members of Clan Lasombra-an ancient line of Mediterranean schemers and kingmakers-vie for power. Alfonzo, a bishop in the macabre Cainite Heresy, represents Venetian interests, while t h e Lady Gabriella is an agent of rival Genoa. No one has any real handle o n the Latin Empire or t h e bands of vampiric refugees gathering in Adrianople, only a few nights ride away.

The young vampire Lucita of Aragon is afloat i n these

troubled political seas. Far from her Iberian home, she can either sink or swim.

Coming down the stairs she could still hear him. She half-expected the inns thronging patrons to turn to her and fall on her as one, but they only gave her curious glances, as they had all evening. She pushed through them and out, tumbling queasily among the slabs of living, heaving flesh until she fell out the door into the bitter winter gusts. The inns heat remained in her cheeks as she made her way through the narrow streets. Her cold cleft. How dare he! How dare he grasp for her with his skinny fingers one moment and accuse her of inciting his lust in the next. Hed been watching her as the wolf watched the lamb before shed even crossed the common room. Who was he to tell her about a womans desire? Had he ever so much as consulted a woman for her desire? At least the Cainite thirst was a thirst for sustenance, a necessity. These mortal men lusted for flesh no less greedily, whether any necessary purpose could be served or not. It was their delight, this plundering of innocence, and then of the tatters of whatever remained once innocence was gone. Before Gregory took her in, shed seen it. Shed learned from the other urchins how not to be found, where to sleep and where never to sleep. Shed learned from the example of those who fell victim as well as from the wilier, older children. And shed been lucky. Her cold cleft. Natural! So being a vulture, a carrioncrow was natural. He was simply upset because he had run into a stronger beast of prey than himself. She clutched her bundle to her chest. She hadnt even gotten to the second of the two letters. But Isidro, that other vulture, thief and hypocrite, he was on his way to Toulouse. So be it. She would not waste further moonlight in this town. She turned her face to the sky, seeking out Polaris where her foster father had taught her to find it, drawing an imaginary line from the edge of Ursa Major. Her path lay westward still.

Through all her journeys, she was always on the pilgrim road. Shed followed the lecherous boys suggested route from Grenoble to the town of St. Gilles, and never escaped it. If she kept on westward past Toulouse, eventually she would reach Compostela-the Holy Land of the West. Or if she wished, she could go down to the harbor and stow herself aboard a Hospitaler ship bound for the real Holy Land. Either way, God ruled her every step. Lately that did not seem the comfort it should. Supposing she did go on to Compostela, would the Apostle James receive her? Could she stand in the fierce corona of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem?If even the little cross of Isidro terrified her, what was left of pilgrimage? Andreas had his answer. He put his trust in Set, Lord of Storms, and no matter where the winds blew him he went forward calmly, secure in the protection of one little god among a thronging pantheon of little gods. The snake-priest had once said that he could not credit the idea of a Lord of All-or if there was such a Lord, He was clearly fickle, inattentive, even cruel. Unworthy of worship, in any case. The God of the Hebrews and Christians Andreas counted simply another little god, perhaps pettier than most. Meribah-Meribah had always kept rather close about her own beliefs, now that Zoe thought back to it. The little redhead seemed to regard herself as the gatekeeper on Zoes path to truth-inBet, and so said what she felt Zoe was ready to hear rather than what she really thought. Meribahs comfort never lay in words, in any case. It was in a sprightly glance, a wry remark, a sudden appearance at ones shoulder just when she was wished for.. .. Zoe looked over her shoulder, feeling more than a bit foolish for it. No luck. She herself hoped for nothing from Set anymore. If his priest and priestess had both abandoned her, it was useless to look to the little god himself.

She clambered barefoot down the wall on the knotted rope she had left over from the raid at Bergamo and spent what seemed like far too long snapping and working the rope to get the hook free again. If she could only get at a proper hammer, she was sure she could bend it into a better shape. Then she laced her shoes back on and headed for the abbey. Its bells tolled, calling the beginning of some night-service. Isidro had to be there, or had to have been there very recently. Where else would he stay? But as she drew nearer, she heard another sort of music, and a little light blossomed at the far end of the courtyard, a campfire. A lone tinker sat by it, cooking what smelled like some kind of salt pork and singing in a tongue she didnt recognize. As she walked by, she caught the gleam of his tools, laid out with great care on a square of sheepskin. He took a bite of his meal, picked up a tool and began to polish and oil it. The song sounded like a work-song, lively but just a bit monotonous. Gregorys face had been spare and sad, not round and affable, and hed never chewed pork-fat or anything else while he worked. But he had sung quiet songs like that at his bench as he fitted tiny cogs together or drew up plans in lead point. All at once she felt a compulsion, enormously seductive,to join this man and follow him back to wherever home might be. Or maybe he traveled the fairs year round. She could give him the blood and teach him how to make planetariums and mirrored spinning tops and puzzle-boxes for lovers to keep their tokens in. Mortals would cheer when they unfurled their banner, and mighty Cainite princes would be cross at first until she and her new friend delighted them with enchanting presents. Unconscionable. Tonight she would pray her fosterfathers indulgence for such thoughts, whether he could hear them or not. She skirted around the front of the abbey. The best she could hope for would be to catch a

glimpse of red habit in between the arches of an outer walkway, or perhaps to overhear a snatch of conversation. Or-a new thought-there might be servants still up at this hour, squaring away the last horses that had made it in before sundown. She followed the smell of horses to the heavy stable-yard gate. She banged at it, and then hanged at it harder with the soft side of her fist when no one answered at first. A little panel set in it opened. What?If youre seeking lodging, you should go around. Not lodging-I only want to give a letter. She moved her hands up toward the panel; to his mortal eyes, there seemed to he a parchment there, hearing the unhroken seal of the Bergamo monastery. Oh?Cant quite make the name on it out. From the tone of his voice he was clearly fibbing. He couldnt read-that part of her illusion went entirely to waste. Its for Brother Isidro. I was told for finding him here. Is he inside? How would I know?The mans voice turned irritated. Is a tall monk, in a red robe- she began. Oh yes! The odd red habits. Theres a pair of them here, yes. Here, give me the letter and Ill see it gets to the right one. He reached out through the panel. She drew back. No, wait. I have news for him too, is not in the letter. A sigh. Well, if youll give me a moment, I can show you to the guesthouse. All the brothers are saying the office, so youll have to wait. No. Tell him I wait here. Little girl, hes not going to come out here to meet you. Or even if he is, Im not about to he party to it. This is St. Gilles. I come back later, then. Thats fine, you do that. Good night to you- The panel closed.

She hissed a curse in Greek to herself. Then again, perhaps curiosity was among Isidros flaws, and perhaps the stable hand would say something to him about the girl with the mysterious missive from Ekrgamo. She could return tomorrow and see if shed piqued any interest, and if it might be possible to arrange a meeting after all. Even if he wouldnt take such bait, at least he had to leave again before too long. Perhaps she should go now, before the night got any older, spy out the road ahead and try to determine where a pair of monks would most likely take lodging the first night out. The trouble with only being up after sundown was that by then even most of the travelers among the living were ensconced somewhere, and rarely alone. She still had no idea how to separate Isidro and his companion. Or how she could possibly fight the two of them together. If anyone had come with her, anyone at all! But that still hurt too much to think about. No one had come for either her sake or Gregorys. That was that. The sound of pounding hoof beats echoed in the square. She threw herself into a recess in the wall. A lone horse, a great black warhorse, clattered up to the stableyard gate. A helmeted knight called out Open up! and then took off his helmet and shouted it again. The gate was hurriedly thrown open. Sir Gauthier,the stable hand puffed. Back so soon! Hes all done for the night now, said the knigkt, evidently meaning his horse. The stable hand helped the knight swing down and then took the reins. The knights dark mantle moved aside as he dismounted, revealing a white tunic with a red cross at the left breast. The brothers are all at prayer. Good. I should pray also- The knight tucked his bucket-shaped helm under his arm and looked around with a frown, as though hed forgotten something. His face was hard, built in almost crystallineplanes, and he had a long dark mustache. Then his gaze went right toward her.