"Yes, I know it’s said the first organized vampiric society was the Camarilla, but my investigations lead in Persia and Mesopotamia lead me to think otherwise."
This bloodline has its origins back in Justinian’s Eastern Roman Empire, during the 6th century. It sprang from a group of Mekhet led by Makkarius Christopoulos – a monk during his mortal days – who felt heavily struck as he saw the decadence of the Western Empire under barbarian influence. And even though the decadence of the mortal government was heartbreaking, more so was the Kindred’s one. The Camarilla had ceased to exist, and lots of secrets kept in western libraries were lost; many vampires ignored their own genesis myths and their ancestor’s deeds. Fearing so many knowledge would in the end be forgotten, Makarius – together with some of his felows – decided to organize themselves and form a web designed to preserve as many records from their past as they could, in order to avoid them to be forgotten, and to keep records of present things, in order to kepp at bay the Fog of Ages.
The Agosnists decided, for practical reasons, to be organized as a religious order. In the East it did indeed flourish, but in the West they only prospered after the rise of monastic life. In due time, this decision proved to be the best choice, as the Agonistes would now be granted access to a large amount of manuscripts and other documents. The Agonistes’ headquarters were originally kept in Alexandria, inside the Great Library. Somewhat later, the rise Arabic peoples worried them, and they started moving their documents towards Constantinople. But they had benn too optimistic in their previsions, so they had miscalculated how long it would take the Arabs to reach Egypt. During the taking of Alexandria, the Agonistes' Great Library was laid waste and many knowledges were for ever lost. The new Agonist library secretly built in Constantinople, away from both mortal and vampiric eyes. Also, in order to prevent such a wreack as Alexandria’s, they made copies of all documents, establishing secondary libraries.
The islamic conquest also created the first major division of the bloodline. Those Agonistes who stayed in recently conquered land eventually Embraced new Childer, who in turn Embraced their own progeny, and so on. Many of these new Agonistes had been muslim in life and saw no reason neither to pay obedience nor to send knowledge to such an unfaithful group. And so the christian Agonistes were banned from the knowledge and histori of a culture they had previously ignored and despised.
But for the islamic faction a whole new world was set before them. They could learn legends of Arabic vampires, and even from the Persian ones, for even though the Persian Empire was no more, many Elder still abode there, and they could provide access to ancient and mysterious secrets; and further beyond laid india, together with other strage and unknown lands, all of them previously unknown to western vampires. The islamic faction left behind all kind of formal organization, though they kept a somwhat informal one. In the beginig, they tried to found their own secret library in Alexandria, but due to the Caliphat’s disgregation and their own loose organization little was achieved. Still, Alexandria remained a reference for all of them.
In the christian world the bloodline went on under its monastic structure, In the East it allowed the Agonistes to remain organized after ther Empire’s crumble caused by Slavic invasions, and in the West it granted them access lo large and numerous libraries. But in 1204 the 4th Crusade got to Constantinople. After being taken the city and getting enthroned a puppet emperor, the people rebelled against the crusaders, and in the resulting conflict the city was razed, pillaged and ransacked, and its streets were bathed with bloodshed and gore. The mortals were not the only ones to suffer the consequences, for most of the local vampires were destroyed or sent to torpor, some at the hands of mortals and because of the fires and destruction througout the city, and some at the hand of their western pairs. And even though it was in a secret haven, the Library of the Forgotten could no escape the same destiny as the rest of the city. Fortunately for the Agonistes, and unlike what happened in Alexandria, they were ready for it, and since the crusaders’ arrival they started getting out of the city copies og the books, or the originals themselves, to be distributed troughout Europe, and although not everything could be saved the loss had benn much lessened. In the saving of the books together collaborated both catholics and orthodoxes, thus preventung furthur schisms between the Agonistes. After the greeks conquered back Constantinople, the Library was moved back there.
During the late Middle Ages the Agonistes lived a golden age due to the expansion of universities, and some of the began to leave the strict monastic structure, which had so much conditioned the bloodline. But it was during the 15th century when their ascendence reached its peak because of maily two facts: the appearance of Guttenberg’s Printing Press and the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks. The Printing Press gave the Agonistes an easier way to copy manuscripts, providing more copies in much less time; and the Turks’ conquest, far from causing havoc amongst the Agonistes – as had happened before when the Arabs got into Egypt – planted the seeds for the reunification of the Agonistes tho factions. They both decided to preserve, and to keep safe, all the documents they had come across trough the ages, regardless of who ruled the mortals and where lied the borders. And so the Library of the Forgotten in Constantinople became the headquarters for both factions, who slowly began to reunify themselves, thus providing great benefits for them both.
In time the bloodline began to secularize itself, first because of the foundation of more and more universities, then with the expansion of Reformists through Europe; and so the monastic structure was getting meaningless. Nowadays it’s still kept, but maily as a formal title with little practical effects, a thing many bloodline’s Elders surely regret.
Parent Clan: Mekhet.
Monastics: It’s the name the eldest and more traditionalist members of the bloodline give to themselves. Now a minority, they still however hold great power amongst their peers. Monastics normally consider the Agonistes a Covenant unto itself, and although they admit the value of trading knowledges with other Covenants, they consider becoming a member of another Covenant nearly akin to treason. Some of their numbers are former members of other Covenants (mostly the Lancea Sanctum and the Invictus), and nearly all Abbots and Librarians are counted as Monastics.
Lancea Sanctum: By and large the most popular Covenant among the Agonistes, it originally attracted them because they held lots of documents and relics dating back to the glory days of the Camarilla. It does not mean, of course, that the Agonistes who are members of the Sanctified lack any amount of faith in the teachings of Longinus.
Invictus: They are second in numbers after the Sanctified. In their case, was their love for traditions what resulted attractive to the Bookworms.
Circle of the Crone: There have never been many Adepts amognst the Agonistes, although eventually some of them has decided to join the Circle. The reasons why an Agonist whould do so vary form the chance to get access to cultures lost long time ago, to getting a better position to succeed the Apothecary.
Carthian Movement: Few Agonistes ever decide to form fart of this Covenant, for even the more reformist Agonist is considered traditionalist by Carthian standards. Many of them are youngsters who after some decades get tired of too much conflicts beetween vampiric social classes, and finaly go somewhere else, where they can study undisturbed.
Ordo Dracul: For most of the Agonistes, it is a forbidden Covenant, because too many Agonistes have been condemned to Aposthasis and even have been named Anathema as they entered this Covenant. But there is an exception: the monastery of St: Catalina. Abraham ben Joseph, the monastery’s Abbot, gave shelter to a Dragon while he has drawing lay-line maps in the late 18th century. There the Dragon stayed for several months, and as he departed, Aboot Abraham sent a messanger to Mount Athos with a letter explaining that he would join the Ordo Dracul, toguether with the most prized books he had kept in the library in order to protect the most secret knowledges of the Agonistes from being made public. But he would never abandon his monastery. Finally, toguether the Abbot of Mount Athos and the Great Patriarch of Constantinople decided, out of respect to one of their most loyal members, to allow any Agonist who desired to be a Dragon to become one, if he had Abraham's approval. And in Sta. Catalina has since then existed a tight and reduced community of Agonistes who study the Coils of the Dragon. Ashirra: Only muslim agonistes belong to it.
Appearance: Those Agonistes charged with the keeping of monasteries an libraries wear allways monastic robes while perfoming their duties, and some of the Bookworms who stay for some days in such a place normally wears also robes, out of respect both for those charged to the keeping and for the bloodline’s traditions. In any other moments, they tend to cloth themselves as formally as the can, changing their suits to something more informal if needed.
Haven: Agonistes normaly choose as havens places of learning, or with a large history, such as universities, churches, museums and the like. There is always haven available close to the “public” libraries of the bloodline. The Monastics agonistes use to sleep in their small monastic comunities as a acommunitary haven, where any Agonist is always wellcome.
Background: Normally they come from the accademic world, and are mostly chosen from histiry students and professors, though other specialists (in art, theology, philosophy, anthopology) are also appreciated.
Character Creation: Mental Attributes and Skills are usually primary. The most favored Skills are Accademics (with spacialities such as History and Archeology) and Investigation, though among the younger Agonistes Computers is gaining more adepts. It’s also common to have wide knowledge in languages, specially dead or ancient ones (such as Latin, Ancient Greek, Egyptian and the like).
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Obfuscation, Rego Tempora.
Weakness: Agonistes suffer the same weakness than their parent clan, the Mekhet. Also, Agonistes are specially obsessed with history, and they get an obsessive-compulsive derangement related to it. Every time the get a chance to acquire more knowledge a roll must be made to overcome their derangement, or they leave behind any loyalties.
Organization: The Agonistes mainly keep a very loose organization, or even no one at all. Only among the Monastics and those charged to take care of the common libraries can one find any kind of organization, and even those Agonistes of muslim origin with any major responsibility in the bloodline use one akin to the Monastics’ one, for they lacked any during the bloodline’s reunification after the taking of Constantinople.
The Agonistes have a main library in Constantinople, and another one is being created in Alexandria. They also possess libraries inside their monasteries and others are scattered throughout the Mediterranian; of them the most important ones are those inside Mount Athos and St. Catherine.
The chief lieder of the Agonistes, the Patriarch of Constantinople, is chosen amongst the Abbots (somehow like the Pope is chosen amognst the cardinals). He keeps his title theorically for his entire life, but if he eventually enters torpor another one is chosen. From that moment on, he is considered to be High Counsellor, and needs not to be an Abbot to be chosen Patriarch once again.
Regarding the other Agonistes, they keep no formal organization, but groups of research are created if needed to. Even there can be confronted factions within the bllodline, each one with differents points of view in some field. All Agonistes are expected to share their new dicoveries with the rest of the bloodline, but they can always keep them for themselves. Still, an Agonist who does not so probably will not be granted access to the most secret documents of the bllodline, in the keeping of the Patriarch and some Abbots.
- Abbot: One of the keepers of a given monastery. To become one, one must be firstly recommended by another Abbot, and then go to Mount Athos, where the candidate is trained for several years. Formerly, Abbots were also trained in Cluny, until that monasterie’s destruction during the French Revolt.
- Apothecary: Originally one of the counsellors of Mont Athos’ Abbot, and a member of the Circle of the Crone. After the taking of Alexandria in the late 7th century, the Abbot, toghether with him, tried to find a way to provide a more reliable sustanance for isolated monasteries, who only received new supplies of blood through the occasional peregin. Thus, he created a ritual to make a means to preserve blood from decaying. Several years later, he found a way to create a kind of powder (made of vitae and some herbs found in Mount Athos) able to preserve blood intact for some years; and eventually he found a way to preserve vampiric vitae for those elders who could not drink human blood anymore. Nowadays this charge is still held by an Adept, chosen by the Abbot from the monks in Mount Athos.
- Librarian: A keeper of a library. Some are the true masters of their libraries, and others are second to Abbots or the Patriarch.
- High Counsellor: A former Patriarch, and a member of grat influence in the bloodline.
- Patriarch: The chief lieder of the sect, and ultimate keeper of its innemost secrets.
- Apostate: Someone who has decided to abandon the ways of the bloodline, and who no longer has access to its libraries.
- Anathem: Someone who has given some of the Agonistes innemost secrets away to aoutsiders. Apart from being considered Apostate, he can even be hunted down because of his treason.
Concepts: Librarian, historician, archaeologist, antropologist, theólogist, priest.