Vampire the Requiem: Court and Commonwealth
Circle of the Crone
Few vampires outside the Circle of the Crone have anything even approaching a complete
understanding of the group’s secretive beliefs and behaviors. As a covenant, the Circle is as devoted the Carthians, more tightly organized than the Invictus, and as often as not, more feared and misunderstood than the Lancea Sanctum and the Ordo Dracul. For many neonates, these mysterious Kindred are the “bogeymen” of vampire society — those who gather in sequestered cabals, where they practice ancient and eldritch rites in reverence to bloody gods and goddesses of cultures forgotten or shunned. These are the vampires about whom elders warn their childer: the political outcasts, iconoclasts and, to some, heretics of the Damned.
The Circle of the Crone claims a more naturalistic origin for vampires, that they have always been a part of the world, spawned in the dark places where mortals fear to tread and where guarded suspicion yields to open fear. Their origin stories invoke such names as the Russian witch Baba Yaga, the horned god Cernunnos, the Thracian goddess of moon and magic Bendis, the animal-god Pashupati, bull sacrifices in the name of Mithras, and the bloodier incarnations of the Morrigan. Acolytes, as members of the Circle are often known, reject vampiric notions of penitence entirely. Instead, they take a more organic approach
to unlife, one that allows for all creatures — even the living dead — to continue to learn, grow and find enlightenment over time.
While much of Kindred tradition places emphasis on guilt and penance according to the Judeo-Christian model, the Circle of the Crone sees itself as outside that framework. Members of this covenant maintain that the primary lesson to be learned from whatever
origin of the undead any given Kindred espouses is that a vampire, though damned to an eternity of unlife, is no more or less a victim than he chooses to be. Empowerment and enlightenment are both well within the reach of any creature, vampire or otherwise, who is truthful and dedicated enough to attain them. Although the Circle is primarily a vampiric phenomenon, its ideology extends beyond the worldly borders of the Kindred plight and is attractive to non-Kindred as well.
At the core of Acolytes’ belief sits the Crone, a sort of vampiric mentor and lover of mythological “monsters” during various stages of history and among innumerable cultures.
Obviously, reverence for the Crone is the source of the Circle’s name, and she is by turns an amalgamation of spirits or gods from whom vampires originated, or a literal figure. Acolytes revere the image and teachings of various mothergoddesses, who, according to a variety of mythological and religious texts, was cast out of the company of fellow gods for seeking to better herself by consuming the blood of those whom the gods had made in their image. Through trial and pain, the Crone managed to uncover the secrets of creation, and to survive the harsh wasteland that was life outside the gods’ own paradise. All on her own, the Crone is said to have created form, shape and beauty out of the barren nothingness that lay beyond the ken of men and gods, and her Circle seeks to emulate her experience so that it too might achieve her wisdom and power. Branching out from this core precept are two underlying themes.
Creation is Power
Vampires of this covenant are perhaps the most honest with themselves about what they believe to be the truth of the Kindred condition. They recognize that the Requiem tears
them from the natural world and suspends them in a state of eternal stasis, forever unable to create life. For those who let the truth of this realization destroy them, existence becomes an unending spiral of manipulation toward destruction, with resources being allocated merely to fuel the perpetuation of the cycle. Creation, then, becomes both the source of true power and the only way a static creature can otherwise remain a vibrant part of the earthly order. Some Acolytes practice this ideology in small ways, tending gardens or breeding animals, while others take the broader view, seeking instead to create things of lasting beauty or utility such as art or invention. Whatever form it takes, all Acolytes strive to emulate creation in their own way.
Tribulation Brings Enlightenment
Acolytes believe that any creature can overcome its own weakness and moral failings by continually testing its physical, mental and spiritual limitations. Only through ongoing
tribulation can one’s consciousness expand, and thus true understanding be reached. Cultists empower themselves by alternately exciting and challenging the senses, and through the newfound comprehension that results, they finally transform the static nature of undeath into the miracle of creation. Many cultists take this to a literal level, engaging in bouts of flagellation and other self-abuse that would make a mortal’s stomach churn. Others simply put their bodies in new and difficult situations so that they may better understand themselves and their fears and limitations. Whatever the motivation, the results are undeniable: Those who endure are tempered by their experiences, making them ever more capable of enduring whatever comes next.
The Circle of the Crone in the DMV
Members of the Circle of the Crone live in hiding within the Court of DC and are found primarily in the commonwealth of Baltimore. The Lancea Sanctum while weakened, is still powerful and still vengeful towards members of the Circle of the Crone. Some say due to events preceding the Schism, but others say their animosity is due to conflicting ideologies. Whatever the reason, the Lancea Sanctum had always hunted members of the Circle before they lost power and as such few members of the Circle live in DC.
As the entirety of Baltimore was treated as a regency for a servant of the previous leader, it was harder for the Lancea Sanctum to root out the Circle of the Crone. The regent never ruled with an iron fist and maintained order more from fear of reprisals for any threat to the previously established order. With the Carthians in power, the Circle of the Crone have been allowed to settle freely in charm city and as such has seen a large influx from survivors from DC and neonates and foreignor circle members who choose to settle in Baltimore.