The Tale of Horace Slater, Lorekeeper of Chatamauga Warren

I'm telling this story like I heard it from my sire, who said he heard it from Vechi in Amsterdam, who we all know's full of it for all he brags about his Auspex, so take it for what it's worth. Still, over the years I've heard enough corrop - corrobor - enough stuff like it to make me think there's a grain of truth in there somewhere. Hey? You think you know any better, you get up here and tell it, smart-ass! You comin'? Huh? Yeah, didn't think so. Anyway, IF everyone's through interruptin', this is what I hear tell about the guy what made us. The Eldest, the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Nosferatu himself. What? A woman? Well, I don't know, maybe Nosferatu was a girl - I'm just tellin' this story the way it was told to me. Male, female - don't matter nohow. Now shut the hell up! Anyway...

In the early days of the world, Nosferatu - or whatever he or she called himself back then - was the greatest hunter of the land. He'd walk out of the caves - yeah, they was still in caves back then - armed with this big ol' flint spear. He'd go alone, 'cause he said everyone else'd get in his way, and he'd track down game for the tribe.

Now by game, you understand, I ain't talkin' about piddly little varmints - like that rat I saw you suckin' the other night 'cause you couldn't catch no kine, Herman. I mean BIG game, safari-ho game like lions and tigers and bears and bison and woolly mammoths. No, no dinosaurs - they were all dead. Even Caine ain't that old. Yeah, it was the Ice Age or somethin'.

Anyway, Nosferatu'd always catch whatever he set his mind to catchin'. He'd always bring back enough game to feed his people, and the all respected him. Notice that I said "respect" - I didn't say like. Way I hear it, no one liked Nosferatu at all - yeah, yeah, the more things change and all that. He was a scary guy. Kind of a freak, like those Malkavians. Guy hunted because he liked to kill - more violent than a constipated Brujah on speed. Yeah, I know vampires can't get constipated - it was a metaphor, you Philistine. Anyway, AS I WAS SAYIN', ol' Nosferatu was a real S.O.B. Yep, just goes to show ya: we were outta luck from Day One. Stop interruptin' me, dammit!

Anyway, one night ol' Nosferatu was out huntin' a sabretooth or somethin', and he chanced to come across one of Caine's childer who was also out huntin'. Actually, he didn't so much come across her as she kinda sneaked up on him. Well, yeah, I mean, he was sharp, but he was still a mortal at this point. Anyhow, she kinda licked her lips and got her claws ready to kill Nosferatu and do us all a favor, you know, but then he walked out under the moonlight, and she got a good look at him. And she froze in her tracks.

Now I bet you're expectin' me to say that Nosferatu was so butt-ugly that she was petrified with fear, but that weren't it. Nope, she'd never seen a mortal man that good-looking before. Yep, Nosferatu was a regular Adonna or whatever that Greek guy's name is. And she knew, hell or high water, Caine or no Caine, she had to have him.

So she followed him, creeping through the undergrowth while he hunted that sabretooth. And the more she watched him, the more she wanted him. But she wanted to see whether he was as tough as he was handsome. So she waited while he tracked that tiger down and killed it in one-on-one combat. Nosferatu was good. Didn't get a mark on him - just stuck that spear in and dropped the kitty.

Now that was kinda a mistake, 'cause Caine's childe had been following Nosferatu a long time, and she was gettin' hungry. And when all that vitae oozed outta the cat, she freaked. Charged outta the jungle screaming like a banshee for blood.

Nosferatu was a hunter, and real defensive about his kill. And he was a real arrogant bastard too. So instead of doing what anyone with a grain of sense would've done - which is, in case any of you idiots don't know, get the hell out of the way - he stood his ground. Now, like I said, Nosferatu was a great hunter, but he weren't no vampire. Caine's childe busted his spear like a Tinkertoy and backhanded him across the clearing and into a tree. Broke his spine.

When she'd finished drinking from the cat, she turned around. Nosferatu was writhin' like a maggot on the ground, gaspin' and moanin'. She was full now, and thinking rationally again, so she decided to finish what she'd been intending to do. She Embraced him then and there.

Nosferatu loved being a vampire. Made his hunting even easier. Didn't have a problem with killing folk, either - in fact, he got off on it, 'cause it was more of a challenge. Got real good at it, too. He was the first vampire to develop Obf'scate powers, and the best, and don't believe them Assamites when they say different, 'cause Nosferatu taught Assam everything he knows. He used Obf'scate to sneak into the middle of a tribe, then reappear and kill the lot of 'em. Yeah, like I said, Nosferatu was a sick S.O.B. and going through his growing pains.

There was only one problem. Nosferatu hated his sire with a passion. Not 'cause she'd showed him up when they'd first met - although that was part of it, 'cause Nosferatu wanted to be the best warrior in creation. No, he hated her 'cause when she popped him that one time, one of her claws left a mark on his face, and make a scar. Yeah, yeah, innit just tragic? Prissy as a goddamn Toreador. Not even a big scar, just a little white mark on his cheek that you could barely see even in bright torchlight - but as far as Nosferatu was concerned, it ruined his perfect mug. This, by the way, was another reason he started gettin' so interested in bein' invisible and changing his looks. All he thought about all night long while he hunted was how he was gonna get his sire back when Caine wasn't looking. 'Course he had to keep his thoughts hid, but since he was sneaky anyway, and the only vampire what used Obf'scate, it weren't too hard.

Anyway, Nosferatu was arrogant, but he wasn't stupid. He knew deep in his black heart that he couldn't take his sire, even though he was now a vampire. So he mulled it over, and he realized that one of his kin - I think it was Tzimisce, so we'll say Tzimisce, 'cause it's not really that important - had discovered how to control his progeny through feeding 'em his blood. Nosferatu sneaked up on Tzimisce one night and saw how this was done, so he started wanderin' the world, staying as far away from Caine and Company as possible, and makin' childer and Blood Bondin' 'em. Most of his childer were just like him - vicious and cruel. One was a mistake - an act of passion, when he discovered a beautiful woman bathing in a stream in the deep forest. He Embraced her, but she fled from him before he could Blood Bond her. She must've been fast as hell to escape. He chased her, but she lost him, and he finally gave up as the sun started comin' over the horizon.

After a while of doing this, he started thinkin'. Most of his childer weren't as powerful as he was - not that they could be, of course, 'cause he was the Great and Powerful Nosferatu - just like he weren't as powerful as his sire, who weren't as powerful as Caine. And he started puttin' one and one together. You see, back then, everyone believed in spirits and totems. Everyone and everything had a spirit, and you could catch other folks' spirits and bind 'em and all kinda craziness. Nosferatu had been a hunter and he firmly believed that when he caught and ate a bison he gained the spirit and power of the bison. And when he killed and ate a tiger, he got that tiger's spirit. So if he could get a hold of a see where this is going?

So he gathered his "best" childer, the ones who were the fiercest and cruelest and most depraved, and left the rest to wander the world. He and his brood made a beeline back to the cave where Caine and his three childer and their childer were at the time (yeah, it was a cave - the Brujah and Toreador can talk up their First City crap till the Last Sunset, but it was just a cave). But he didn't show himself He told his childer to stay hidden. Then he made himself invisible and spied on the others. And a real nasty plan popped into his head.

Nosferatu used his powers to mess himself up real bad - at least to make himself look like he'd been hurt bad. He waited till Caine was alone and then limped up to the Father, gaspin' and moanin' like nobody's business. Well, Caine got kinda concerned, 'cause none of his childer or his childer's childer'd ever been really hurt before. He asked what happened. And Nosferatu said:
"O my Father, long I wandered in the far south. And whilst I hunted I came upon a creature the likes of which I had never seen - a beast half of wolf and half of man. And I approached it without malice and spake the words of peace unto it. And it heeded them not but sprang upon me and did to me what thou now seest."
Now of course, any of us modern Kindred woulda seen that story for the garbage it was, but things was simpler back then, and Caine was right taken. He rose up in a fury, swearing to find the wolf-man and destroy it. Guess he did, too, sort of, else why're them Lupines always howlin' for our hides?

So Caine took off a-rantin' and a-ravin', like that Tasmanian Devil on the cartoons, swearing vengeance on the wolf-creature and leaving the Three and the Thirteen on their own. Then ol' Nosferatu went off and hid in the bushes. He waited for a while, and then he started changin' his shape, like you and I do when we gotta go into a kine buildin'. 'Cept Nosferatu took the shape of his sire. And in that shape, he sneaked up on the other Twelve, one after the other, while they were out hunting. Then he jumped his brethren, knockin' 'em down and clawin' 'em up, but bein' careful to let 'em get away. Needless to say, they were scared bloodless by this turn of events - one of the Three tryin' to kill 'em. The other Twelve ran wailin' into the jungle, hiding in caves and holes.

Nosferatu tracked 'em down - he was the best hunter of the bunch - and took back his reg'lar shape. He spun a wild story about the Three goin' crazy - 'bout how they weren't content with the mortals anymore, but had a craving for vampire blood. He said that the Three wanted Caine's love all to themselves, and then he said how he thought the Thirteen oughta join together and do unto the Three before they got done unto. Like I said, those was simpler days. The other Twelve got all worked up, sayin' how, yeah, now that they thought about it, they had noticed that the Three had been lookin' at 'em funny the past few nights. Nosferatu had been spyin' on the others for quite some time, and he knew all their little annoyances and id - idosintricities and stuff Huh? Yeah, that's a real word! I heard the Tremere say it! Shut up! Anyway, he kinda started insinuatin' things about the Three, and the Twelve, and Caine, and twistin' the conversation around to his own ends. Most of all, he was lookin' to make his sire seem like the villain of the piece. He said she lusted for vampire blood and had gotten Caine's other two childer in on a little scheme to wipe the Thirteen out.

Nosferatu organized the other twelve, sayin' that there was safety in numbers and all that. He led 'em back to the cave - oh yeah, the First City - where the Three awaited Caine's return. Nosferatu took charge of all his brethren and taught 'em the secret of how to hide (though most of the other stupid bastards forgot later). Then they all jumped the Three in a big ambush.

Now there was a fight! Not all the wars in history were as savage as that first vampire fallin'-out. Nosferatu waited in the bushes with his childer while the Three slugged it out with the Twelve. When he saw his opportunity, he ordered his own childer into the melee. Then, while everyone was distracted, he jumped onto his sire's back and sank his teeth into her neck.

Right about then, everything kinda froze. Even the birds and bugs stopped chirpin'. The only sound was the slurping noise of Nosferatu suckin' the life outta his sire. He was real bloodthirsty, was Nosferatu, and as he drank he kept clawin' her face up, same as she'd done to him. Thought it was a good joke. She had a lot of blood, and it took her a long time to die. By the time she was dead, Nosferatu had carved her face up into something unrecognizable. He was feelin' real good too, and I don't gotta explain why. He was feeling power.

Nosferatu stood there, clutching his sire, getting ready to drink the last of her blood and get all her power, when he was knocked down by a blow like a dozen elephants or mammoths or whatever they had back then. Caine had returned, and he was pissed. He looked down at his dead childe, all mutilated and disfigured, and he looked at Nosferatu and for the first time noticed the tiny scar. And he understood.

"For thy vanity thou hast committed the greatest crime of all," Caine said. "Thou takest pride in thy mastery over beasts I take thee and make thee a beast. Thou takest pride in thy form - I take it from thee." And Caine touched Nosferatu's face and turned it into a living reflection of his anger and hate. He was the first and the worst of us. Ain't nobody in the world even been as ugly as Nosferatu. Then Caine said, "Thou hast created childer. I curse them, and thy entire line until the end of all things, as I do thee." And all across the world, the childer of Nosferatu fell to the ground in agony as they changed. Even the one childe who remained free of the Blood Bond, the woman in the stream, was cursed. It was she who sired us all, all who now call themselves Nosferatu.

Nosferatu staggered to his feet, and all the other vampires blanched. He turned his face from them in shame and ran howling into the deepest caves, where he will lie until the end of time. But he wasn't through - not by a long shot. He had Blood Bound all his childer, except that one I mentioned earlier, and through them he vented his wrath upon mortals and vampires alike. His Blood Bound childer's curse was stronger than ours. They took on all of Nosferatu's crimes and became the Nictuku, who hunt us until the Last Night.

Nosferatu himself's still down there, lyin' in the caves somewhere. I hear that Caine cursed him so that even in torpor he has nightmares of his own face. He sends out dreams and nightmares to the Nictuku, and he hates us - the Nosferatu clan, that is. 'Cause see, somewhere in his madness, he got the idea that if he can destroy all his progeny and present the deed to Caine as a sacrifice - just like Caine gave Abel to God - Caine will forgive him and remove the great curse. Even now, he's out there somewhere, commanding the Nictuku to hunt us down. They and their childer have been seeking us since that night, trying their damnedest to devour us all. But we're pretty good at staying hid ourselves, and until the coast is clear we ain't never gonna come out.
This info is ©1994 White Wolf. It is currently used without their blessing or permission. I'm real sorry 'bout that...but I mean 'em no harm. And if they say to remove it, I'd be happy to. I'm not doing this for money, or glory, or anything except to further the reach of their already incredible game system, and probably making 'em even MORE money...but still...