Human Life Marius the Man- The first powerful Roman Vampire.
Marius Flavius Icilius was born in 3 AD to a Roman family who's prestige had been waning since the fall of the Republic. Once a patrician family of senators, equestrians and diplomats, their support for Pompey, popular reform, and barely concealed Republican sentiments had alienated them from the Imperial throne since the battle of Pharsalus; and while Augustus would at least tolerate an old family that meant well, his step-son Tiberius saw to it that no Icilii would ever hold office again. So it was only natural that Marius -- named after the old consul -- grew up in an atmosphere charged with a high degree of political tension.
So young Marius did the one thing that would break his father's heart -- he snubbed his family's world of intrigue and joined the Roman army. Knowing that the Sabine branch of the Flavii Clan, which had remained a solidly middle class family, was in no disfavour with Rome, he dropped his cognomen and replaced it with that of a cousin -- Vespasianus. Marius, contrary to the other Icilii, disdained politics; simply put, he much preferred a life of bold adventure to a nervous and tenuous existence of perpetually scheming against the Emperor Tiberius. Intelligent and brave, he swiftly rose up the ranks from a simple soldier to the rank of Primus Pilum,or Centurion of the First Cohort. Finally, in 30, he was promoted to Prefect of the Camp, and two years later he was transferred to Judea and put in charge of a large permanent fortress.
Mezentius took him savagely.The world was suddenly very different.
Marius was reborn into the world of the Kindred: and then Mezentius left him. Alone, confused, wild, Mezentius just left him.
In Judea two things occurred that were to change his life forever. He witnessed the crucifixion of the Jewish rebel Yeshua ben Yosef, and he met a mysterious Greek nobleman named Mezentius.
Never a cruel man and always open to new ideas, Marius endeavored to learn what he could from the strange Jews. And while he privately thought the Imperial Procurator Pontius Pilate to be a corrupt and weak fool, Marius sympathized with him that day when he gave over the strange "messiah" to be crucified to the blood-hungry mob. But it was when Marius's lover, Gaius Cassius, a representative of Rome assigned to watch over the Nazarene rebel, later pierced his side with a spear to prove that the man was, indeed dead, and saw that "forthwith came there out blood and water," and the failing sight of Cassius was restored --
Marius began to sense the first mixed atoms of doubt and wonder cloud his skeptical vision. He had no way of realizing that soon his mundane world would explode into a supernatural catastrophe.
Marius performed his duties well throughout the following turbulent years. Although he lost touch with Gaius Cassius, he found himself being increasingly more drawn to a Greek nobleman whom he met at one of Pilate's parties. Mezentius was very mysterious -- tall, suave, and graceful, the Greek appeared only by night and appeared to be quite wealthy. Strangers in a strange land, they immediately felt a kinship with each other, and eventually the two men became something of friends. Meeting by night over wine and bread, servants massaging their tired muscles to soothing music, they seemed to talk at length about everything -- business, trade, politics, philosophy, religion, strategy -- and although Marius was no simpleton, he was always aware of his deficiencies when around this elegant patrician. Mezentius was filled with so many stories and experiences; tales of old Greece and Alexander the Great seemed to flow from his lips, told with the detail and clarity of one who had been there to witness them. He claimed to have taken part in many mystery cults and Oriental rituals; that he had drunk the blood of the Mithran Bull and feasted on the wine of the Maenads. His knowledge of these things seemed certain, vivid, but when pressed for details Mezentius would just laugh and introduce Marius to some delightful new diversion -- an exquisite Persian harlot, a strange drug from beyond the Parthian Empire, an evening of exotic music that sounded like a piece of the past drifting into the present. . . .
The next few years were good, and Marius began to hunger for more of Mezentius's powers and experience. He was terribly attracted to the older man, but there was still something so unearthly about him, something that at the same time both scared and exhilarated Marius. He looked forward to the Greek's visits to Jerusalem more than anything else.
In 37 Caligula was instated as Emperor in Rome. Within a year, Marius received word that his father had been executed and his sister had been raped and sold into bondage as a whore. Several of his uncles were accused of treachery and executed. Caligula ordered all traces of the Flavii Icilii eradicated down to the old Republic records, and officially declared them a nonexistent family. All their property was confiscated. The only remaining relatives Marius had left were the Flavii in Sabine -- one of whom had become a military tribune under Tiberius and was now serving as praetor under Caligula.The Emperor was mad. Marius had to return.He was going to return for vengeance.
That night, with Marius weeping in his arms, Mezentius fed him his blood and told him one truth and one lie. Both Marius believed more readily than the Greek had expected. The truth was, of course, that Mezentius was a "vrykolakas." a creature of the spirit world, a descendant of the great Lamiae. When he was a man, he had been a philosopher in the time of Alexander the Great. In the last few hundred years he had amassed a fortune, and he was personally grooming Marius to be his protégé. His current goal was to become the King of Asia Minor -- a ruler among his kind. The lie was this: that Mezentius could not embrace Marius until he had served two decades as an Immortal Servant -- a ghoul. For these twenty years, Marius would not age, but neither would he be able to leave Judea. He would be unable to return to Rome on his suicidal mission of retribution against the mad Emperor.
In that way did Mezentius simultaneously save Marius's life and begin his death.
The Ghoul Legate Marius the Ghoul
Marius adopted very well to his new situation. He agonized over the fate of his family -- particularly his sister -- but another part of him lusted after Mezentius's power with an ambition that would have made his father proud. Mezentius would visit frequently enough to feed his protege his vital blood, and the two would discuss plans. Although Marius still held politics in disdain, he was thrilled that one day he would become master of an invisible empire of trade, commerce, and culture. If Mezentius wanted to be the King of all this, so be it. Marius would be content to pull strings from behind the throne.
Marius held his post and grew in influence. When Caligula was finally assassinated in 41 and Claudius installed as Emperor, Marius found out that his sister had been killed when she attempted to strangle her master. Although Marius grieved, he also half alarmed to discover that his new condition seemed to distance himself from his more gentle -- and more human -- emotions.
Life went on. When Judea was made a province of the Roman Empire, Marius was promoted to legate -- a rare honor, considering his family background. As legate, Marius ruled over his legion fairly and justly. Construction, police duties, riot control, military sorties, all the various functions of the military were coordinated with his signature cleverness and skill. During that time, he also kept an eye on the plebeian remainder of his family, which devoid of Republican ideals but morally strong, was gaining in political prominence; a fact that amused him greatly. It seemed that his cousin, the son of Flavius Sabinus and Vespasia Polla, had recently been appointed Consul, largely on the basis of his military victories in Britain. And even though that same cousin had served under Tiberius and Caligula, Marius was unable to feel any anger or jealousy towards him. His new life seemed to make those feelings trivial as well as grief -- and after all, Marius himself stole his cousin's name just so he could escape from his family's legacy and join the forces of the Empire. He had no right to feel wounded.
Life with Mezentius went on as well, and Marius learned all the secrets of the other world, the invisible empire of the undead. He learned that Mezentius was of a family of vrykolakes that called themselves Venturii, and unlike the vrykolakes of peasant myth -- horrible bloated, corpse-like creatures -- the Venturii were elegant, divine, and powerful, especially noted for their skill at leading others. Mezentius was closing in on his political goals, but the reign of Nero caused enough instability in the Empire to precipitate another delay. Marius begged to be brought over in 58, but the Greek elder put him off. He showed Marius all the ways that an Immortal Servant could evade suspicion: make-up and the discipline of Proteus could cosmetically age him; secret caches of gold, coins, and artwork could bring him riches centuries later; feigning illness, drunkenness, and the occasional lapse of memory would make him seem more human to his legion and servants. . . . All the tricks of the undead world were taught to Marius, all except the secrets of the Embrace and the nature of the Blood Bond.
Marius begged to meet another vrykolakas, but Mezentius put that off as well. Soon, he would say, soon. . . .
As the years passed, Marius watched the world change with a sense of wonder, occasional dread, and avid curiosity. He studied the ways of the ever-more contentious Jews, and he even began to take an interest in the growing cult called Chrestiani back in Rome. He was distressed at the treatment they were getting at the hands of Nero, and actually penned several letters to the Senate explaining more clearly the Christians' true nature. He even turned a blind eye to his own legionnaires that took up the forbidden faith or consorted with Christian women.
But it was the Jews, not the Christians, who would next cause Rome the biggest problem. In 66, Judea rose up in revolt, and Marius found that his hands were quite full. And in 67, he finally had the chance to meet his now famous cousin, when Nero appointed Titus Flavius Vespasianus governor of Judea. He arrived with three legions, remaining in the province until Nero's suicide two years later, when he left the task of finishing off the suppression to his son and cousin. Titus has his own ambitions now that Nero was dead -- and there were people in Rome declaring him to be the next Emperor. But he would have to fight for it. . . .
Like his cousin struggling for the throne, Marius seemed to be at the peak of his powers, and ready for a great metamorphosis. Even though his province was convulsed with brutality and violence, he was on top of it all, guiding his people with a steady hand, almost supernaturally aware of every nuance life had to offer. When Titus Flavius Vespasianus became Emperor in 70 AD, Marius -- now a 66 year old ghoul frozen at a biological age of 34 -- laughed himself into a small fit of amusement and threw a celebration party that was the talk of the legion for the next several years. An Emperor! A Flavian dynasty was to be founded out of a plebeian branch of his own discredited family! The irony was delicious. It seemed that his cousin's transformation had been made: but what about his? Marius was quite aware that he was nearing an age when he would have to "die." He had kept up all pretenses, and even though the rest of the world thought he was in his fifties, he knew that he could not remain legate forever; and a promotion at this point would be impossible to accept. His two worlds were rapidly diverging.
Then came the recapture of Jerusalem. In 70 the Emperor's son, the younger Titus Flavius Vespasianus, effectively ended the Revolt in the province. The Temple fell. Blood flowed across the rocks. Wailing pierced the sky. Three years later the last Jewish rebels killed themselves at Masada.
And Marius was there, observing it all, with his legions of Romans.
And that last night, the night of Masada, something broke.
He was 69 years old and Immortal. He had seen Judea grow as a province, he had learned the ways of the Jews and the Christians. He had seen crucified the man they now called Jesus Christ, and he had looked on as the man's simple message grew increasingly more distorted as it sank deeper in a pool of blood. He had watched the treacheries of men from the corrupt Emperors to the turncoat Josephus to the venomous sicarii. He himself had ordered the murder of hundreds of rebels, and had overseen the crucifixions of hundreds more, and had assisted Flavius Silva in rooting out the very last sicarii at Masada.And what had changed?
That night he cried for the first time in thirty-six years. Standing on the stone wasteland of Masada, surrounded by bodies, he looked down at the body of a small girl in her mother's arms, their blood splashed across the rocks. The wind seemed to strike a deep moan form the rocks themselves, and he suddenly felt every year of his life come crashing down from the night sky.
He was very surprised to find that his tears had a reddish tinge to them.
Afterward, he presented Mezentius with an ultimatum: tonight, or never. If not Embraced tonight, he would leap to his death in the morning.
Just finding different characters who could have influenced Vampire's in history has proven very satisfying. Especially when one takes into consideration that one of the things the Professor has to teach the yoing Vampire's is the richness of the influences that Vampire's have had through the centuries is to put it simply boundless and at the same time riveting. And also the fact to all tense and purposes virutally invisbile to the human eye.