And so, the present day finds Marius brooding over the great table in his board-room high above Manhattan. Roman decorations adorn the walls: pennants and standards from his old legions, coins in glass cases, a chunk of blood-stained stone from Masada. Gravitas is still at work, a silent spider spinning its webs of finance. And the Venturi Business Association still controls Wall Street and Madison Avenue. The rest of his Ventrue respect him, and although he allows them much freedom with which to voice their opinions, his decisions are always final and undisputed. The young may find him too patient and agreeable, the old wonder why he still seems so alive. But Marius knows the truth. He has been in charge of legions of men, strangers in a strange land that hated them. He has starved in the desert, drinking mice and spinning strange mythologies out of the threads of Christ's shroud. He has climbed the ladders of the church and state, and has seen the machineries of the Inquisition bent to his will. When all were afraid of the great sea, he poured his money into caravels and looked across the waves for new worlds. He has been a soldier, a mystic, a monk, a god. He has been a kingmaker.
But never a Prince.And never a Sire.
Once he told the Prince a story, about a time when he was a soldier in the legions of the Emperor Tiberius. He saw the sea, the great sea glittering off of the coast of Aquitania in Gaul. A Greek cook was telling him stories from Homer, his accented voice calling the old tales to life -- unbelievable stories about the Golden Age, stories about strange races that lived across the cold, fish-breeding sea, and of strange monsters, of great gods and foolish men, and brave, mad heroes always doomed to die in their tiny boats. And he would gesture out to the water with his wrinkled, bronze arm -- out to the ends of the world. And the young Marius wanted to go there, wanted to cross that great body of water, wanted to find the end of the world and fall off. The Greek just laughed and tussled his hair, saying that man will never cross that barren ocean, and Marius smiled.
That was the part the Prince never understood, why after every defeat, Marius smiles.
When he sleeps, sometimes he dreams of his old house in Italy. He hears his father and uncles discussing the corrupt Senate, their Republican words weaving their own death-noose in the warm Mediterranean air. Sometimes he wonders if Cassius is still alive, and if his Mezentius felt pain when the fire rose up to devour him. He sees his sister violated, thighs bloody, her eyes like the eyes of so many of the women he himself has killed.
And he knows.
He knows that he is a killer, a Vampire -- and that the only true blood is the sheer power of life, the struggle to climb over the kicking bodies of the wretched, their mad eyes like windows into broken souls. And the color of that blood is green -- the color of life, of renewal, of finance. The urge to push out and expand. Once upon a time it was gold, but that too is a myth. There was no golden age -- ever. There is only the drive to expansion. The quest for the new; the desire to stay alive.
He watches as his subordinates begin anew to hatch their endless plots against the Prince. The Sabbat. The Anarchs. The Iconnu. The Lupines. The Mortals. The Antediluvians, the other clans, the countless endless factions, bound to the wheel of history, turning around and around with the inertia of a collapsing sun, rolling over everything with a mindless and pounding repetition.
And he looks up to space, to the glittering stars, like prizes.