On The Origin Of Tremere Liches
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The following information was provided to the PC's by Gilles De Rais, as repayment for all the cabal had done for him, his mistress Erzebeth, and for her entire household of Tremere Liches in Venice.

"In the Dark Ages of Europe the Awakened of the Diamond Orders had lives quite different from our own: Much knowledge about the past, the wider world, the cosmos, and all manner of strange and occult things, had been lost to them, yet the world they lived in could not keep a close an eye on their comings and goings (at least not compared to the world of today!), and there were considerably fewer people and subsequently less witnesses and more unpopulated areas.

In short, they had the incentive and opportunity to explore. They traveled to cyclops-haunted islands, to black forest filled with savage witches, plumbed the depths of mermaid castles, climbed remote mountains to reach fabled monasteries, and delved into age-old Necropolises and long-forgotten crypts. It was in the latter type of place which a cabal of five Moroi accidentally came upon a 'nest' of dark creatures who hungered to consume the living.

Having accidentally roused this ancient evil from its slumber a tense situation arose, as the undead monsters tried to feed off the mages yet were repelled by the might of their spells and sorceries. Being both remorseless and cunning these beings, who introduced themselves by the name of «Tremere», then feigned surrender, bowing before the superior might of the wizards who had stumbled into their midst.

A hesitant truce was settled, and a hesitant exchange of information began. The Tremere soon recognized the unbridled hunger for knowledge and power which is in the nature of all the Awakened, and soon devised a scheme to bring their 'guests' to their deaths: Explaining that the Tremere were in the possession of the secrets behind Immortal Life they offered this gift to the Cabal, in return for being allowed to sup on some of the wizard's blood.

These monsters were what we would today call «Vampires», deceased humans cursed to forever walk the world, feeding from the blood of the living to power their twisted existence, and they claimed that even a small sup from a sorcerer would be a great boon for them. The wizards, being enthralled by the prize offered them, foolishly agreed.

Some sort of occult ritual was enacted then, where the Vampires would feed upon their blood and the five would in return absorb the dark energies required to sustain them forevermore. Yet unbeknownst to them these Tremere were not exactly like other monsters of their kind, for they had learned how to steal not just the life but also the very Soul of their victums as they drank from them. No doubt excited over their unexpected prize, greedy for the exalted power which an actual Awakened Soul must assuredly grant them, they betrayed the sorcerers and set about to take their eternal selves.

It backfired horrendously, for the Supernal energies now coursing through their veins was far too much for their twisted flesh to sustain, and they burned from within and crumbled to ashes within moments, screaming all the while. Yet the mages were did not escape unscathed either, for part of their souls had been ripped away and some of the vile nature of the Tremere had entered into those wounds, festering. Though they still drew breath they had all irrevocably placed one foot firmly into the Grave, and before long they could feel their own Patterns and Souls begin to unravel, to fall apart, to spiral off into the void.

Panic. Dread. Despair. Anger. Regret. Sorrow. All these and more those first ones must have felt, and who amongst us can know what sort of mad remedies or desperate measures they must have tried as that new and unnatural hunger tore at them for the first time? It is said that one among their number died mere minutes after the procedure, his form affected most harsly as he practically disintegrated before their eyes. The second of their number also perished, this time from the slow hunger, for they were not yet aware of what their condition required, how to resolve their pains.

Yet before it was too late three among their number (now known as the Progenitors) somehow found a solution to their immanent doom, that if they were to take healthy souls and add to themselves they would arrest their deteriorating condition, becoming capable of sustaining themselves indefinitely. Indeed, they realized that though it by no means had happened as they had hoped their experiment had indeed given them what they desired at the outset: The spiritual disfigurement inflicted upon them by the vampires had granted them immortal life on earth, provided they regularly reaped the spirits of their fellow men and used them as their own until they too were ragged and destroyed.

Upon realizing the price he would have to pay to ensure his own existence one of those three chose to end his own life rather than inflicting such harm on others. He was known as Lazarus, but before he expired his maddened attempts at curing himself caused him to infect all his apprentices with the same accursed state. Many claim it was this which in the end drove him to his final choice, but in any case it was those who had studied under him who after his passing continued his work in trying to undo the damage done by their great teacher and Progenitor. Of these it is said that Mary Magdalene alone followed in his footsteps, while her brethren Zacchaeus and John the Baptist reigned in unison by merit of their social elevation above the less-acceptable fellow-students; Sariel, Raphael and Azrael.

The remaining two, known to us as Koschiei and Vrykolaka, were not quite so willing to give up just yet. The former instead bent once more over his books and redoubled the efforts in arcane studies and research, for he wanted to explore the full extend of these new powers which the Tremere-Infliction had bestowed upon him. Experimenting he soon discovered many things we today take for granted, and many secrets beyond of which we know nothing even today, and without him would the creation of the Black Grails never have been possible. Yet he could not do all this alone, nor would he survive the wrath of his fellow awakened once they learned of his appetites if he did not consolidate his power, and so it was that his most favoured apprentice, the lauded prodigy Vǎrkolak, became the 'hero' remembered for establishing the occult fraternity serving Koschei and his interests.

The third and last cabal-mate, the dreaded Vrykolaka, instead chose to exploit the cards Fate had dealt him to the fullest extent he could. He returned to the midst of human civilization, going out amongst the people and insinuated himself into the offices of the rich and powerful, and soon their private chambers as well. His own apprentices were carefully trained to spread out and make for him a web of influence with which he could rule as much of human life as possible. They became a nobility unto themselves, accumulating riches and privileges over timespans far beyond what mortals could ever hope for. Promising eternal youth, eternities of time in which to find Truth, and wealth beyond measure the minions of Vrykolaka soon became a force to be reckoned with, and even today his descendants are among the most powerful beings in the world. Of his two remaining mistresses Stheno and Euryale (as he slew their third member when she refused his gift of eternal life) styled themselves «The Sisters Strigoi», and are the ones credited as the fore-mothers of that magical bloodline. Vrykolaka's sole (proper) apprentice, Lord Vanth, was the one to take up his master's mantle when he eventually fell in battle. In time these came to be referred to as Primogen, for they were the leaders and masters directly known to the later iterations of Tremere-Inflicted, and are awarded honor for having helped create the Great Houses. But more of those in a bit.

Up until this point it is hard to be certain of our facts. Though these things have (supposedly) been told to us by the Primogenii themselves, as opposed to having been passed down from generation to generation as an oral tradition or rediscovered by archaeologists or historians or similar, it is still prudent to remain mindful of the fact that their words may be twisted by personal opinions and feelings, not to mention political agendas. These are ancient, powerful, selfish wizards, and it has oft been remarked upon that their accounts do not always agree. Rather seldom, in fact, and given that we cannot verify anything and must simply have faith in their honesty, many still remain a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to our origins and earliest existence. After this, however, we begin to have new sources, and though the exact details won't be covered here the rough narrative is at least rather logical and plausible.

So the situation is this: The original masters are dead. Those they passed the curse on to are competent but not yet entrenched, and they have vastly different personalities, goals, ethical boundaries, philosophies and ideas about what actions are acceptable or not. The apprentices of Lazarus refuse point-blank to infect others on ethical grounds (at least at first). Those taught by Vrykolaka seek to establish enough political power to be unassailable and to assault their enemies pre-emptively, while those of Koschei want to keep their nature hidden from the larger magical society and cut off loose ends and anything that leads to the truth on themselves.

Add to this the fact that they are now predators dependent on a limited resource, a fact which they are eminently aware of, and the results that followed were practically inevitable. If they stayed close together their predations would become impossible to disguise, and no Concilium who discovered the truth about their feeding would refrain from executing every last Lich they found. So the three groups went their separate ways, staying in contact and offering help and advice when needed, but always remotely. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all, and many today can sympathize with the sentiment that even beloved family members are better when encountered only at Christmas instead of every single day.

This gradually grew into what would come to be known as the Three Great Houses of Tremere. Though one would expect this sort of thing to be much more fragmented, with many members going their own ways or schism splitting off, the strict hierarchical and controlling nature of the infliction itself prevented this and ensured a level of cohesion and unity which would strike any given Théarch green with envy. With domineering authority-figures dividing up 'hunting rights' and laying down the law the three Houses became organizations to be reckoned with after mere decades. As the original members passed away their replacements also began to call themselves Primogen, as what had once been a descriptive label had grown to become a title of authority and prestige, and so today any leader or member of the governing body in a Tremere House can style themselves as such. True, as the centuries passed and we spread across the globe there were those who were brave, skilled and ruthless enough to escape the yoke of their mentors and establish their own Houses, but there were many more who made the attempt without succeeding at it, and who invariably died for their failure. Of the few who have won acceptance we find for example House Ammit, who seek a higher purpose by using their powers to fight injustice and cruelty, or House Azrael who exploit faith and religions and the natural fear all humans have when faced with the prospect of death, or House Faustus, who managed to develop new and alternate versions of our powers, and teaches them to his followers.

This, then, is the story of us as a group. There are more details, of course, like how the Lazarites managed to be accepted and respected by several concilii before the Guardians branded them as abyss-tainted, or how Lord Vanth and his disciples fought to prevent the Tremere from being declared Left-Handed at the Grand Convocation, but those are long stories in themselves. In the end we were classified as a Legacy, true, but those who know their history still name us the Tremere-inflicted, and remain suspicious of anything they may encounter in the dark corners of the world."

- As told by Nergal bani Vrykolaka of the Household of Erzebeth, Tremere Genealogist and historian

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House Vrykolaka House Koschiei House Lazarus

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See Also: The Tremere legacy and the Houses of Tremere

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