Ars Euthanatosia Mundi loosely means "Arts to Kill Worlds". To those few who are in the know, it refers to a secret Covenant of vampires whose primary goal is bring forth the apocalypse. Practicing a form of necromancy, born of the Theban Sorcery of the Lancea Sanctum, Euthanatosians can see into the land of restless souls, what the believe to be Purgatory. The Euthanatosians believe that when their Purgatory is merged with this world, the dead will rise from the the grave ushering in the return of Christ and the Judgement of man.
The Embrace of Pio Degli EspostiEdit
The Euthantosia's inception is traced back to the 10th century AD, to a christian pilgrim Pio Degli Esposti. Pio in his early life had had been a thief and later a debt collector, and was no stranger to sin. But having renounced his early life, Pio found the hunger and toil of his travels only increased his resolve and faith in God. Each time he sacrificed his comfort for the goal of salvation, he felt a burden lift from his shoulders. Thin and lean, he found himself at a campfire of fellow pilgrims speaking about his transformative experience. As he spoke, the earnestness of Pio's words held the other pilgrims rapt, and gave them a renewed sense of purpose. The campfire was jolly even though they had little food, and as the pilgrims went to sleep, Pio sat watching the fire musing about his new life, and the one soon to come.
It was then that Pio noticed another Pilgrim across from him at the fire, a still and silent man wrapped in a woolen cape with a deep cowl covering his face from the fire. The man broke the silence with a question about Pio's faith and the temptation of sin. His voice was soft and cultured, unlike any Pio had heard along his travels. Taking a measure of pride in his new found faith, Pio answered honestly about his past sins and how his new faith made temptation powerless over him, all the while a growing sense of dread crept into his heart. Was he being tested, he thought. The man pressed with further questions that seemed speak to the fears growing in Pio's heart, and Pio answered again with certainty and even a little anger. At this the man drew back.
He then spoke vaguely of his own war with temptation, with an earnestness that matched Pio's own. Pio tried to console him and urged him to keep strong, but in a flash the mysterious stranger leapt at him, quickly dragging him from the fire. Soon Pio felt the coldness of death, and the fire of the embrace.
Pio's sire was named Ambrosi De Gallo, and had a difficult time explaining himself to Pio, who was devastated at his embrace. Ambrosi tried to explain his purpose, that as a vampire he was part of a christian church that saw no salvation for the damned, but still strove to do God's will. Ambrosi, however, did believe there was salvation for his kind, but had been unable to find it or convince others of his church of its existence. Pio's words had lit the fire of Ambrosi's faith and if anyone could help prove that the damned could be redeemed, Ambrosi reasoned, it was he. Ambrosi's words were a salve to the fears of Pio, and he begrudgingly agreed to help Ambrosi in his quest, or more correctly, adopt the quest for his own salvation.
The Search for Salvation and the Vision of the DeadEdit
Joining the Lancea Sanctum, Pio bent all his energies towards learning the secrets of the Sanctum's libraries, or more accurately the libraries the Sanctum's minions had access to. While the Sanctum's stringent did not appreciate their goals, many in the Sanctum sympathized with their mission. Pio, for his part, took to the mysteries cataloged by the church like nothing else. His insights were sharp and he quickly became versed in the Theban sorceries and its scripts. Ambrosi in the mean time, worked to impress Sanctum leaders with his prodigious childe. 5 years after his embrace Pio stunned his congregation with the news that he had performed a ritual that had given him a vision beyond this life. Pio claimed that he could now see into Purgatory, the world of the unrighteous dead. Heaven, he claimed had been unreachable, and Hell to dangerous to perceive. Warned against the dangers of dabbling with the dead, the Sanctums leaders ordered Pio and Ambrosi to cease their investigations, or face punishment. What Pio did not reveal, was that his vision was irrevocably changed, revealing the land of the dead in the shadow of the living. Pio and Ambrosi resolved then to continue in secret.
Pio and Ambrosi, while immortal, had to work feverishly. As the millennium approached, many predicted the return of Christ. The book of Revelations, by some estimations, had predicted the appearance of the Beast and the final war for the souls of men, 1000 years after Christ's death, which was fast approaching. Finally after much toil and scores of ancient texts, Ambrosi burst into Pio's quarters in their monastery haven, with what he claimed was the answer. Based on an egyptian mummification ritual, Ambrosi would confess his sins, fast for as long as possible and then after falling into torpor, his body would be prepared and burned. Pio was not so sure. Still they had to attempt to prove its validity, or else risk all with the end of the world.
Success and FailureEdit
They agreed to find test subject and give the ritual a try. Ambrosi embraced Ottavia, a pious nun, thinking her the most likely candidate to deserve salvation. She had no knowledge of sin, save that of being embraced, which she could not be blamed for as it was not her choice. She tasted no human blood, but only the blood of her embrace, and then resolved to fast as Ambrosi instructed. All seemed to be going as planned but at the height of the ritual casting, Pio and Ambrosi's haven came under attack from Inquisitors of the Sanctum. Ambrosi tried to keep them at bay, while Pio completed the ritual. Flame was put to the embalmed body of Ottavia, but not before Ambrosi was struck down by the Sanctum's paladins. Pio escaped in the confusion and when he found respite from the chase, he returned to the site of the ritual to see into purgatory and was surprised to find the spirit of his volunteer. Pio rejoiced, and after calming the afraid and nervous spirit, he explained to Ottavia that she had escaped damnation and with penance she might still reach the elysian gates of heaven.
The millennium came, and the apocalypse didn't. Watching Purgatory for signs of the return of christ, Pio reasoned that either something had happened to stave off the return, or that the time estimations of the return has been off. Studying the Book of Revelations Pio came to the conclusion that it wasn't a prophesy, but perhaps a recipe. Pio then resolved to find the recipe, but not before escaping the hounds of his Covenant.
Pio spent years avoiding the Paladins of the Sanctum. He kept a low profile, traveled from town to town, city to city. Developing a strength in the discipline Dominate, Pio let no one remember him even if they had the luck to catch sight of him. All the while he could still perceive Purgatory, with its lonely denizens lamenting their former lives. Pio realized he needed to understand these creatures if he was to understand how the truely fit into God's plan. He did as before and sought libraries to research from.
Skulking the universities of Venice, he found Giovanni, a medical student who he often spied studying alone and at night. Giovanni was a bastard of a wealthy Florentine banker, and like Pio, had little to no family. He also was a keen occultist, who performed secret rituals on cadavers. Pio took an interest in the boy and his late night experimentations. When Pio had seen enough to know that the boy had real magical skill, he approached Giovanni and offered him a devil's pact. Pio ghouled Giovanni, giving him access to Pio's disciplines, while Pio learned the rituals of Giovanni's study.
Inevitably Giovanni fell prey to the Vincullum, but Pio was a giving regent as long as Giovanni's experiements with the occult were fruitful. With Giovanni's help Pio created new Theban Sorcery rituals revolving around the manipulation of dead spirits, and delved further into the possibilities surrounding the prophecies of Revelations.
Giovanni became a successful doctor, and with his disciplines a powerful necromancer, gathering wealthy followers and initiating them to his order. Giovanni eventually took a wife from one of his followers and with them had considerable influence over Venetian politics. Pio However began to feel the wait of his age. Before falling into torpor in an underwater grotto beneath the city, he embraced Giovanni, charging him with continuing the mission to unravel the secret of the Revelations, and the ritual that would bring the second coming.
Giovanni bore in his blood a parting gift from Pio. Pio had changed his blood, binding his powers of Domination to it, to help Giovanni keep control of their growing flock of believers. Giovanni took to is mission with dedication and grew his flock into a family network with himself as the Gran Maestro.
Giovanni's influence could not be hidden forever, and as other Kindred matched wits with the Gran Maestro, they found a spymaster whose spies were never found or caught. Using spirits under his sway, Giovanni could find havens, allies, family of various enemies and use that knowledge to extort them, control them, or kill them. Soon Giovanni claimed a substantial portion of Venice as his domain, and his childer named him San Giovanni Pater Patriae, Saint Giovanni the Elder. This came as a shock to the local kindred power structures already in place.
The Sangiovanni of Venice were largely unaware of their true purpose, as Pio's army of ecclesiastical army of the apocalypse. Plucked directly from Giovanni's network, they were mainly interested in the personal occult power granted to them by their embrace. The secrets of Giovanni's necromatic rituals, converted to Theban Sorcery, were kept in strict confidence, not to be even mentioned in the presence of others. Even still, the staunch members of Invictus, and the rigid Lancea Sanctum, feared the presence of this new line of Vampires.
Giovanni worked hard to put them at ease. He claimed a Sanctified upbringing, not naming his sire. His power and position shielded him from intense scutiny, but did little to calm the fears of the other damned. Both the First Estate and much of the Second kept a wary eye on the Venetian prince and his seeming benevalnce. Many attempted to wrest control from the Gran Maestro but they could do little. To add to the problem, Giovanni's get were particularly ambitious and worked hard to expand the influence of the line, at the same time as they assured others there was nothing to fear. This situation finally came to the brink with the Interdict of Pope Jullius II, and the War of the Cambrian Leaque.
The Cult Exposed and Possibly AbsolvedEdit
Political elements of France, the Papal States, and the Holy Roman Empire surrounded Venice and finally brought its power to halt. Giovanni was captured and brought before the Cardinals of the Sanctum. It is said that under their power, he revealed his past, his sire, and their mission. In exchange for his life, he lead the Cardinals to the crypt of his master. There Pio supposedly met final death, in torpor, and Giovanni was absolved of his sins against the Sanctum. A comforting story for sure.
The only ones who know the truth are Giovanni and his captors. What is known is that the Sangiovanni have survived to the modern nights, somewhat reduced in their political influence. Many are counted among the sanctified, plying the use of their necromatic rituals to make spies of spirits to aid the Lancea Sanctum. As such, the Sanctum still rules the cities of northern Italy, and keeps staunch their defenses from outside corruption or the political games of the First Estate.
Ars Euthantosia Mundi is still whispered there as a deadly shadow arm of the Sanctum, one that is not neccesarily approved of. Many claim that the Sanctum did not destroy Pio or his cult, but absorbed them, perhaps finally interested in his rituals of salvation and his mission to bring this world to its final judgement. While the Sanctum does not believe officially in Salvation, they do believe in good works, and what work could be better than bringing the return of Jesus to this earth.
Whether the Euthantosi are any closer to their goal is not known, but many other stories of them exist. It is said that the Euthanatosi can bind the souls of those they kill and keep them in bondage for eternity. Others claim that they have spies in every parish, plying their arts to report sins to inquistors. Others say that they seek the power to break the barrier between this world and the land of the dead, and when they do it will bring the second coming. Many rumors presist, but none have ever been substantiated, and perhaps never will. The Sanctum's official word is that the cult was destroyed. If a few stragglers escaped their punative minstrations, well that can and will be remedied.
The Ars Euthanatosia Mundi believe in many of the tenents of the Lancea Sanctum, having been born of their teachings. Longinus is their guide, mortals are their tools, and good works are their goal. But where they differ is in their purpose, and the road that takes them there. Their ultimate goal of bringing the apocalypse is actually called the Great Work, bestowing it prime importance umong the Euthanatosi.
There is RedeptionEdit
Euthanatosi do believe in Salvation of rightious whether they be kindred of kine. But for kindred, special rituals must be used to overcome the chains of immortality. God's grace is denied all kindred until such time as they can bring about the return of his son. Until such time, in the face of final death the best they can hope for is to avoid the jaws of hell by remaining as unfulfilled soul in Purgatory. To ensure this transition the Covenant has a complex set of rituals that deal with final death. These rituals don't always work, and the soul of the kindred in question does not appear in the realms of the restless dead. Such a soul is truely mourned, for they are truely damned and art at the mercies of Hell.
Sin in the Name of the LordEdit
To the Euthantosi, the ends justify the means. If that were not so, they would have never have discovered their divine purpose. The laws and rules of the Lancea Sanctum would have ground Pio and Ambosi to a halt and there would be vampiric salvation. The Euthantosi therefore do not hold fast to the ethics of a good christian, where there mission is concerned. As predestined to hell, they have nothing to fear from sin either, unless it is untimely final death. The Euthantosi have a strong tradition of confessions to absolve their burdens and continue with renewed resolve.
Sins perpetrated that have nothing to do with the Great Work, is frowned upon and a sign of a wayward soul. Actions are often taken to bring that soul back into the fold, beginning with observation leading sometimes to domination by a higher ranking member of the order. Such distractions pain the order whose memebers are chosen for their dedication.
The Dead Must ServeEdit
The restless dead, who are anchored to purgatory to resolve their sins are the tools of the Ars Euthanatosia Mundi. God revealed their presence to Pio and Ambrosi who then revealed it to San Giovanni and the rest of the Covenant. The purpose of God was for these souls to aid the Euthanatosi. Thus the arts of Necromantia were developed by order, under the guidance of the Pater Patriae. While not all souls wish to used thusly, the Euthanatosi believe that they must be made to see there place in the Great Work. While a wise Euthanatosi would not try to command a powerful spirit centuries old, lesser souls are afforded no luxury of politeness.
The Openning of the SealsEdit
A euphemism for the Great Work, the Openning of the Seals refers more directly to the works that must be accomplished in order to fullfil the prophesies of the Second Coming. Much of the Covenant's real work is dedicated towards discovering what must be done to bring these elements into alignment. The Euthanatosi are 80-90% of the Great Work is finished or prepared, but there are still missing pieces in the prophesies that must be worked out. Finding these missing pieces includes a lot of detective work, traveling to remote locations, stealing old and important documents and finding their hidden occult meanings. Many of the older members of the Covenant cannot move as easily or as quietly though the masses as the younger members, so often these missions fall to them. However, older Euthanatosi rarely reveal how important the work is until it is completed, as secrecy is of the most importance.
The Shield of SecrecyEdit
The Ars Euthanatosia Mundi are a secret order, who if discovered would run afoul of the Lancea Sanctum, atleast publically. Privately many in the Sanctum are also Euthanatosi, just not those in the more traditional sects of the Sanctified. This duplicity even runs as deep as to be entrenched in the offices of the Inquisition. Indeed it was the Inquisition that could have put an end to Covenant centuries ago. Instead they absorbed the heretical profits of the Euthantosi and hide that fact today. The Ars Euthantosia Mundi call their secret pact with the Inquisition, the Shield of Secrecy and take great pains to protect it. Those who endanger it, are dealt with swiftly and mercilessly, else all their work be discovered and destroyed. The Euthanatosi are warned that anyone caught endangering the Shield will be bound as a thrall in this life and the next.
The last rites of the Ars Euthantosia Mundi, Consolamentum are the rituals devised by Pio and Ambrosi for the passage of a vampiric soul into Purgatory at final death. The rituals have developed since Ambrosi's time and have many variations, ones that work with little worry of failure, and those to be used in dire need when there is no time to prepare. but are less likely to succeed. The longer, more successful versions include a period of fasting and embalming, but in the end all that is truely needed in for the subject to be absolved of his or her sins and for that person to attempt a deep meditation giving oneself over to their faith. Consolamentum is used mostly when a member of the sect is to be unavoidably punished with final death, by the Euthanatosi or Lancea Sanctum or by another Convenant or power structure. Through these rituals a euthantosi hopes to serve the order even in the afterlife.
Necromantia are the Theban Sorcery rituals developed by San Giovanni, and carried on the Euthanatosi. Those who know the Sangiovanni bloodline often mistakenly believe that it is their signature discipline. but the truth is that it is not but a series of Theban Sorcery rituals that deal with restless souls. That said, almost no sanctified, that are not part of the Ars Euthantosi Mundi, have access to these rituals, and those that attempt to escape with them are hunted by the inquisition under the pretense of demon worship.