See the martyrion church, its mosaics charred and broken, its bells cracked and silent. Hear the whispered prayers and dread hymns of its empty grave. Here worship the Nephilim, childer of Michael in blood or baptism.
The Nephilim Edit
O sire, send to us thy Song and lead us to salvation. Witness thou the gathering of thy blood. With thy wings we ascend. With thy blessing we die.
Few know the fledgling Toreador bloodline as anything more than a handful of delusional holdovers of the Dream clinging to their dead idol. On the surface, these devotees seek reunification in death, and so they’re known to outsiders as the Martyrs. Paul Bathalos, the sect’s bishop and a master sculptor, and his right hand the painter Pakourianis the Dove were Michaelite muses during Constantinople’s golden age. Like their Toreador peers, they came to believe Michael was the Archangel of the same name, come to Earth to guide his chosen Cainites until his ascension back to Heaven. Now, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition of theoria, they lead their fellows in ecstatic prayer and meditation to seek a true vision of the Archangel, to be reunited with him through the mystical transformation of theosis.
After several decades of failure, the Toreador accepted that, as the Damned, they couldn’t achieve this on their own. They believe a Cainite prophet of their Clan, whom they call the Song of Michael, will inherit the Archangel’s divinity and raise them up. The Song will appear to them in the purification of the blood, as their dreams have revealed. To find this prophet, Paul and Pakourianis aim to bring every Toreador in the city to their haven in the ruined Church of St. Demetrios for the katharsis. This baptismal rite of their devising is supposed to reveal the divinity in the Song’s vitae. In those others who are not the prophet, it cleanses them of impious passions and prepares them for their eventual deification, christening them childer of Michael in spirit, if not literally. No one has quite yet caught on that the sacrament itself is transformational, changing these Toreador into something else.
Bishop Paul Bathalos could almost be mistaken for a Nosferatu, to those who know no better. Hideous of face and monstrous of form, he begged a Tzimisce fleshcrafter to take away his ethereal beauty to stop the Archangel from wanting him. With this sacrifice, Paul removed himself as an obstacle to Michael’s ascension to glory, and the Nephilim consider him a martyr in spirit for this, the ultimate renunciation of his earthly Aesthete nature. His broodmate is the Presbyter Pakourianis, also called the Dove, a perpetually childlike Cainite who despairs over his failure to learn how to fly, that he might follow his sire into the heavens. His meditations temper his anguish, but the flight of birds, Tremere gargoyles, and other winged things fascinates him.
The Nephilim keep their true name and liturgies secret, lest the heretical Latins interfere. They communicate with one another across the city in encrypted letters marked with their sigil: a stylized humanoid form with wings and fangs, befitting those who will someday ascend as vampiric angels. All Nephilim come from Toreador stock and start off on the Path of the Archangel (below), on the Road of Heaven. Whether the bloodline will breed true for their childer remains to be seen.
Sobriquets: Martyrs (to outsiders), Childer of the Archangel
Weakness: The Nephilim are afflicted with a profound ache, a yearning for the touch of a departed sire they can never know in the flesh. Heaven is not a place, but an angel with a vampire’s face, and they exist only to join with him. To be found unworthy is anathema. The base difficulty of rolls made when a Childe of the Archangel sins against her Path is 7 rather than 6, and losing a dot of her Path inflicts a +1 increase in difficulty on all actions she takes for one full chapter thereafter.
A Nephilim who becomes an Apostate suffers the difficulty increase at all times until she becomes at least an Adherent on another Road or gains a dot in the Path of the Archangel. However, she doesn’t increase the difficulty of sin rolls on any other Road.
Path of the Archangel Edit
The Nephilim are the primary devotees on the Path of the Archangel, but not the only ones. Other Toreador who have so far avoided the cult’s baptism nonetheless remember their godlike patron and quietly strive to emulate him still. Foreign Vanitas come to Constantinople and find the tragic romance of the Archangel irresistible, falling into step out of fascination.
Cainites of other Clans who were loyal to Michael or one of his scion families, or those strongly dedicated to the Church but seeking vampiric inspiration in it, follow this Path when they reach the end of their rope and seek an example to uphold for themselves. The Nephilim’s aggressive proselytizing snares others with their ability to appear as truly divine messengers.
Following in Michael’s footsteps means acting as muse and shepherd to all, and as martyr when need be. As adherents to the Road of Heaven, the Archangel’s Faithful view Michael as the risen Christ of the Damned and believe vampires must act the part of angels to the mortal herd. Some even believe all the angels were vampires, with Michael as their greatest example.
Virtues: Conscience and Self-Control
Aura: Melancholia. A Childe of the Archangel applies modifiers whenever her great loss and longing would engender a reaction, or when being seen as a martyr is relevant.
SINS AGAINST THE ARCHANGEL Edit
Score Minimum Wrongdoing Rationale
10 Indulging in any temptation True katharsis purges all passions.
9 Going one day without performing any creative work In art, we illuminate truth.
8 Turning away from those who need inspiration An angel’s work is in guiding the lost.
7 Refusing to make a minor sacrifice Shedding earthly things brings us closer to divinity.
6 Leaving fellow Toreador to languish unbaptized We are all Michael’s chosen.
5 Going one week without performing any creative work Art is how the soul worships.
4 Indulging in temptations of the flesh In katharsis we renounce carnal passions.
3 Abandoning any in your charge We must earn the worship of the flock.
2 Giving in to your Beast, such as frenzy Katharsis purges our basest urges first and foremost.
1 Refusing to make a major sacrifice We follow Michael’s example in all things.