Saturday, May 13, 2006

Dominic's Background

I have been roleplaying in an Ars Magica saga with a few friends. This has been my first game of Ars and I have been thoroughly enjoying it - story telling is a huge component. Below is the background for one of the characters I play in the game, my companion Dominic.

Dominic’s History

A Short History: The son of a mother who had ventured to far into woods of the next valley, Dominic was born into an ill-fated village; overcome by Diabolists and the machinations of the infernal. Rescued by a secretive Holy Order devoted to protecting humanity from the Infernal, Dominic was raised to fight the darkness. But he outlived most of the order which adopted him; it was largely destroyed by the diabolic machinations of an unseen and still undiscovered foe. Despite this Dominic maintains the mission of his order: to seek out and destroy the infernal.

The longer story:

After his birth it was apparent that Dominic was no human baby, decried by some as a demon and attacked as ill-fated by others. Dominic and his mother would likely have been cast from his village but for the intervention of Demonic machinations – something had decided that it had a use for Dominic and it came for him through the villagers.

The place where he was born was a small town situated within a wooded valley amongst the beautiful rolling hills of Northern Italy; Dominic’s family was part of a village which was consumed by the infernal. Those within the village who had resisted the gradual onset of this had been by turns sacrificed, strengthening and binding the creeping darkness that rolled wetly across their village. Eventually the village was shrouded in a thick grey cloud which buried it within the darkened valley and neither sun- nor moon-light fell upon it – it was hidden from the sight of God.

Only the local priest had held out within the village’s small stone church, eventually starving to death sitting at his table, the bible open before him as he read passages to stave of the mist, darkness and infernal beasts scratching at the church doors and prying at the shuttered windows. He died gripping his staff, wearing his voluminous robes, mouth agape in final horror as his soul failed to penetrate the evil surrounding his church sanctuary.

While the priest had starved, the villagers had consumed each other, fey beasts and creatures unfathomable to the human eye had grown and now roamed the mists within the dark vale searching for their prey.

To this darkness a Holy Order of Knights and Priests had been drawn with their retainers; forming a small but formidable army. Blood-filled visions and dark premonitions had brought word and they gathered to engage this dark hole opening in Italy, to destroy it and maybe fathom why it came upon this village.

This scattered secret army had protected Europe since the birth of the Holy Roman Empire; they kept watch for the darkness and gathered, moving on words and visions that few but they saw. Staying separate from the vagaries of biblical interpretation and the machinations of religious politics the order instead focused on a mission - though believing it would ultimately fail utterly - of preventing the consumption of all humanity by the infernal; it was this singular focus that likely lead to their ultimate undoing.

This army slowly gathered to the south of the darkened vale, knights readied armour and whispered to their horses; priests blessed their fellows and conducted ceremonies in preparation for the coming battle. Relics, great and minor, gathered over the centuries, were brought forth and readied for the charge into the heart of darkness.

Finally fifty-three Knights, Priests and foot soldiers entered the darkened vale, their movements stirring the edge of the black mists. Through the deathly quiet they slowly gained momentum the strike of hoof and the clank and squeak of boot, armour and weapon, echoing behind their movements, gathering urgency as they gained pace, growing and rolling until a storm had gathered and it passed them with a thunderclap, breaking a whole in the mist.

The Holy Army stormed through the fog. Rising up before and around, visages of horror - the grotesque grinning gaping maws of villagers transformed by consumption of flesh, dark clawed horrors of fur and fangs - reached out snapping, chortling and scratching at the soldiers of God.

Mounts were dragged down horses screaming, men of god reaching for the mist filled air, red fountains filling the skies, thickening the air before wetting the cobbled streets. But the thunderous wedge of soldiers charged on for the church which they knew held the village and their salvation.

The stone church loomed. The wedge of soldiers crushed the gibbering masses before them. But, behind them a horde filled their wake, many more beasts than they crushed before them. The mist and darkness was a creature itself, breeding, and the soldiers would need the strength of the church, both brick and faith, to turn back this propagating tide.

Sundering the doors barred to the evil that had stalked the village, the small army burst into the dead Priest’s sanctuary. With a wail, the departed Priests soul was sucked into the black maw that was now the church door. The priests gained the altar, marking out symbols on walls and floor around it, placing bells and igniting incense sticks that flared with rainbow halos. Soldiers and Knights stood fast before the broken door.

As a tinkle of bells began and the bright incense cast rainbow halos the blackness at the door came alive, with slurping pops soldiers where sucked from the doorway, others seized by teeth, tentacle and claw, limbs rendered from torsos, red painted the threshold.

But each sacrifice bought time and as more frenzied became the consumption of soldiers so the bells rang louder, incense flared and a chanting rose with a clapping begun to feint to hear but which rose to a roar then all exploded. White light blinded all of faith, exploding the shuttered windows and ringing the church bell in great peels. The blindness passed in a moment and when it passed the blackness had given way to bright morning light streaming in form doorway, window and lofty stained glass.

With the sunlight streaming in the attention of the surviving members of the group found their attention drawn to a church vestibule, within the vestibule they found a baby wrapped in warm clothes. Despite the fearful appearance of the baby the priests quickly determined the he was untainted by the evil that had infested the town and though they found something intangibly disquieting about him they took him into their order and sent him back to Rome as an adopted member.

Dominic was trained in Rome, under the tutelage of first, Father Aimé Sanxay from whom he learnt French, Latin and Italian along with church lore and the humanities, then Father Lucius Olivé from whom he learnt combat and the skills to hunt the infernal, then finally Bishop Maximillian Aurelius Quintus from whom he learnt about the order and its mission and mentored Dominic until the fall of the Order.

In 1215 the Order was destroyed. Dominic does not know the how but news was brought to him by Brother Jakob Nachtmann, a Sergeant in the Order of Sanctus Pessum d’Diabolus. Jakob had responded to a call brought to him by one of the birds of the forest, he had gone to join some of the Order to investigate a duty. When he arrived in the area he grew suspicious and only warning carried by an owl saved him from being surprised by a group of assassins, he fought his way out and escaped. Since then he had been attempting to find other members of the order, Dominic was the first he has found, after discussions it was decided Dominic would continue the Orders work and that Jakob should return to Rome to seek answers, but Dominic has not heard from Jakob since. Before parting with Dominic Jakob entrusted a Holy Relic into Dominic’s safe keeping.

Years after the destruction of the order a premonition brought Dominic to the North of Italy, to a small hamlet on the North-East coast. Dominic’s earliest memories where dark ones, even in the womb he had dark disturbing dreams and could sense the growing evil in the village that he and his mother lived in. This instinctive sense grew very strong in the vicinity of this village. Normally a group of the Order would assemble, between 20 to 30 members, depending on the drawing power of the darkness that members felt or learnt through the different senses they possessed, this would allow a full survey of what they faced and a proper cleansing, if necessary with no survivors. But this time it was only Dominic that arrived.

Dominic waited; with growing disquiet he watched the hamlet. At night he would see dark figures visiting different houses, in the daylight all looked normal people walking between houses, visiting the market. In the darkness he would see fires glowing and hear the cries of the infernal pledges, but again in daylight only normalcy, children playing and farmers tending their flocks.

He resolved to cleanse the village in the daylight.

Starting before dawn, just after total darkness had passed, Dominic moved from house to house, invariably sensing great evil and then killing every occupant. But singly he could not work fast enough and as the sun lifted in the sky people began to see what was going on, this strange foreboding evil figure, drenched in blood moving from house to house in armour carrying weapons, cries of fear and pain emanating on his entry, only to be cut off. People began to flee, some to fight back, and eventually Dominic realized that though he had killed many in the village he would not get them all and he was forced to leave the town, heading west, making his way from Italy towards Spain.

Additional Background

Dominic’s diabolic past

The infernal growth amongst the village of Dominic’s birth was not a coincidence; it was coming for Dominic and had even entered his house. His Mother’s husband – not his true father – a Diabolist himself, who had sacrificed many in the village, was eagerly awaiting the birth of his son, it was foretold his son would be taken and great reward bestowed upon the giver. Dominic’s mother had given birth outside the Town’s church; her son was rescued by the Priest, Father Christoforo Adalgisa who had divined that the child was something special, she wasn’t so lucky.

Dominic’s Sidhe heritage

Dominic’s mother had been taken by a Sidhe while she was picking mushrooms in the nearby forest, she never revealed this to anyone and her husband did not know.

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