Heretic Song: Iberia By Night
Following the long-ago destruction of Carthage, Clan Brujah has spread throughout much of Europe. Many Brujah traveled to Spain during the Muslim Invasion of the Umayyad Dynasty. Though they do not have as strong a hold over northern Spain as the other High Clans, some of their Christian members have spread through Aragon – specifically into Barcelona which, until recently, was an independent city-state. The Brujah have always wanted to reinstate the dream of Carthage, and it’s well-known that one of the Elders of Barcelona has been testing the waters to see if that can be done in the Iberian Peninsula. She is primarily looking at Andalusia, which has always been a rebellious and fiercely independent state. There is a major divide within the Brujah of Spain and Southern France, in that there’s relatively no middle ground between Neonates and Elders. Most Brujah who live around the Pyrenees were Embraced centuries ago, or within the last handful of decades. Though this has worked out for now, tensions are starting to mount within the Clan, which may lead to an eventual revolt of the younger generation — especially with some of the younger Lasombra joining them in their frustrations against the Elders.
The Graverobbers have a very small presence in Spain and France. One of the most secluded Clans of all Cainites, the Cappadocians primarily maintain their Havens away from large cities and large groups of other vampires. With their homeland of Armenia being relatively far from the region, the largest group of Cappadocians in the region come from scions of the mercantile necromancer family of Cappadocians: the Giovanni. Only a handful of these Giovanni Cappadocians live in Barcelona, working in close collusion with Prince Juan Mercedo. Considering the Prince’s fascination with seeking (some would say heretical) approval from the dead before committing to a plan, the Cappadocians are in a high place indeed, despite their few numbers. Unlike their fellows back east, the local Cappadocians have worked out a truce with the local Tremere Chantry, and rumors persist that the necromancers and magi are forming an alliance — a terrifying prospect, indeed.
Outside of Rome and the Vatican, Spain is the bread-and-butter of Clan Lasombra. They are the most numerous and influential Clan in the Iberian Peninsula, with their members spread across the entirety of Spain and Southern France. Though they have made some concessions to the Ventrue in allowing them Princedoms and petty fiefs, the Lasombra retain control of major cathedrals and aspects of faith throughout Spain. The Amici Noctis have a stronghold in Barcelona, which unifies the Clan in the face of the Cathar Heresy. However, the Lasombra are a clan divided, specifically along lines of faith. There are two core groups of Lasombra in Spain: the traditional Clan that belongs to the Catholic Church, and the Ashirra, the Muslim Lasombra that swept into the region from Africa and the Middle East. Though they present a united front against all potential usurpers of their power, some wonder whether the Clan’s power can hold in the face of such a divide. Like the Brujah, some of the younger Lasombra are beginning to question their Elders, growing tired of being held down due to age and generation. The Lasombra claim ownership over Barcelona through the influence of Pablo y Concerella, who maintains control over the Catholic Church in the city. Many other Clans see this as shared power with the Ventrue, with Prince Juan Mercedo handling affairs of state, and Archbishop Pablo y Concerella handling affairs of spirit.
Like Spain for the Lasombra, France is the traditional homeland of the Toreador. Ruling from Paris and the Courts of Love, the Toreador maintain a stranglehold over France’s political structure and have coaxed it into a bastion of culture and art in the Dark Medieval world. Through their following of the code of chivalry, the Toreador have donated many of their Frankish knights to fight the Cathar heretics in Albi. There is a divide here, however, as King Etienne of the Courts of Love has accused the Toreador general, Esclarmonde the Black of treason through conspiring with the Lasombra to sweep into France upon completion of the Crusade and replace the leadership of the Courts of Love with Esclarmonde herself. Spain is not the type of place that the Artisans would venture to were it not for a higher purpose. While Islamic Spain and Christian Aragon were strongholds of art and beauty, the strict and stringent tenets by which many live through their faith often puts the Toreador off, due to their penchant for acting as muses. Although not a heretical Clan by nature, some of their actions could be called into question due to the often-grandiose bacchanalia that the Clan often hold. Toreador knights are not an uncommon sight in the Pyrenees — the biggest question is whether they owe their loyalty to Esclarmonde or King Etienne.
The Ventrue do not traditionally have a place in Spain or France, as both places have been claimed by other High Clans. However, like any other Ventrue enterprise, many Ventrue princes have been incorporated into cities throughout both the Kingdom of Aragon and the various French duchies and counties. The Prince of Barcelona is a Ventrue who is known to have been around since the fall of the Roman Empire. Prince Juan Mercedo is the most powerful Ventrue in the Iberian Peninsula due to his influence over the strong trade networks that make their way through Barcelona into greater Europe, Aragon, and Islamic Spain. It’s said that he keeps a small contingent of Ventrue as his protegés, and maintains a wide network of spies throughout Aragon and Navarre. With that in mind, it’s rare that a Ventrue gets into any trouble wherein she can’t find a sufficient and safe method of egress. While Prince Mercedo has maintained a truce with the Lasombra “archbishop” of Barcelona — Pablo y Concerella, who some call the true Prince of Barcelona — the two Clans are at their usual bickering within the halls of power.
Like any place in the Dark Medieval world, the Iberian Peninsula is a place of massive wildlands with little oversight. It is here that the Gangrel thrive. In fact, Spain and the south of France are almost ideal for the wild Gangrel as it appears no Lupine tribes call this area of Europe their natural home. As the Clan that most commonly runs up against the werewolves, it’s been reported by Gangrel that the local packs are simply trying to survive while outnumbered by the Cainites. Clan Gangrel is very organized in Spain (as much as they can be). There are often moots held in the hinterlands of Aragon, where Gangrel from miles around come to partake in Clan meetings, sharing knowledge, and spreading information without concern of whose ears will inevitably hear what’s said. Most Gangrel have no issues with the other Clans. The same cannot be said of them, but they are held in higher esteem than their other Low Clan contemporaries in this region.
Of all the Clans that populate the Iberian Peninsula, the Malkavians are the most enigmatic. No one is quite sure what to do with them. Several Princes maintain Malkavian seers in their courts, but the usual discrimination and separation from them keeps them from getting too close to the halls of power. It’s widely believed that anyone who spends enough time around a Malkavian will take on aspects of the Lunatic’s insanity. Prince Mercedo tolerates them in Barcelona, and has given them a sizable Domain within the city among the various cloisters that take care of the insane and invalid, but he rarely affords them any real respect. Considering that these cloisters are nearly outside of the city limits, this places the Malkavians that populate those areas into a serious predicament. Rumors abound that the Prince is simply waiting for large-scale breaches of the Tradition of Secrecy due to overfeeding and will call a wholesale Blood Hunt on the Clan. These rumors are unfounded and unsubstantiated, of course, but the whispers persist. The most powerful Malkavian in the region is a Welsh ancient called Anwyn. She claims descent from the Saxon invaders several centuries ago, however there’s no real way to verify these claims.
Barcelona is similar to many old Roman cities. It contains a labyrinthine sewer network that doubles as sewer and is separated into underground aqueduct. There has never been a sure count of the number of Nosferatu in the city. Conservative estimates place them at around ten to twenty, but wild rumors from the Clans who’ve run afoul of the Lepers swear that at least fifty live beneath the city. Rumors of the Noctuku — an ancient myth of Nosferatu enforcers Embraced by, or one generation removed from, their Antediluvian — indicate that at least three of them are active in the area. With their boogeyman status and their ability to acquire almost any sort of secret, most Clans attempt to court the Nosferatu. Like usual, it’s impossible to tell whose side they’re really on even half of the time. Most Nosferatu that are active in “public” are younger. Few are older than a century, and most of them walk the Road of Heaven. This may simply be a political feint by the Nosferatu to gain social acceptance among the other Cainites, but who knows with the doubly-cursed?
The Ravnos are a virus. Though they’re afforded some amount of respect by some of the High Clans — specifically the Lasombra of the region — the Ravnos swept into the Iberian Peninsula like locusts. Many live in their own communities with their mortal Rom cousins, some actively attempt to penetrate the halls of power. Prince Mercedo tolerates two Ravnos courtiers in Barcelona, and Archbishop Pablo y Concerella has even gone so far as to give one Ravnos, Carlos Quesada Moreno Villalobos, a church knighthood. Views on the Ravnos contribute to the tension between the Lasombra and the Ventrue, with the Ventrue foolishly ignoring them and the Amici Noctis attempting to ally with the Charlatans. Many Ravnos in the region follow the old ways of the Clan and focus on the Road of Paradox. The Ravnos seem to have connections to almost every other supernatural group in the Iberian Peninsula, with ties to the Wizards and Fair Folk, as well as some ties to members of Lupines who live close to mortals. It’s unclear how they managed to gain so much influence with these groups, but it does give them an edge that forces many to go through them in order to cultivate relationships or ensure safe passage from the others.
The youngest Clan, after the initial war with the Tzimisce in their Eastern European homeland, the Tremere began to branch out to other places throughout Europe and even into Asia and the Middle East. A very strong Chantry sits in Barcelona, and another resides in Bayonne. Though somewhat detached from the political struggle between the Cathari Princes and the Christian Princes that are fighting against them, the Clan has taken a largely mercenary approach to the Crusade, striking alliances with Cainite lords that will allow them to exist freely without persecution for the dark history of their Clan. With Prince Juan Mercedo’s Sire — the Ventrue Elder Hardestadt — being a strong supporter of Clan Tremere due to his own fight against the Tzimisce in Transylvania, Mercedo has allowed the Tremere in Barcelona to remain unmolested, and has even gone so far as to give Goratrix, the founder of the Chantry of Barcelona, and his Childe Epistatia who manages the Chantry as much leeway as possible to conduct their studies. Beyond this alliance, the Tremere of Iberia are working closely with the Cappadocian family of Giovanni. Some say they are attempting to bridge the gap between Blood Magic and Necromancy, but both clans are viciously secretive about their chosen occult disciplines, leading some to wonder exactly what each gets out of their continued cooperation.
The Children of Haqim are not an uncommon sight in the southern reaches of the Iberian Peninsula, but have not pushed far into Aragon or the other Christian petty kingdoms and duchies of Iberia and Southern France. The most common Saracens seen north of Al-Andalus are the most stereotypical of the Clan, being mercenary assassins, working for the various Princes and Barons in order to destroy their enemies without making it seem as though they raised their hand against one another. Most of these mercenaries are younger members of the Clan that have no real tie to their Clan’s history. As such, they’re generally considered to be outcasts and miscreants, and — unbeknownst to the Western Kindred of Aragon and France — would seldom be admitted back into the core areas of Clan Assamite’s sphere of influence.
Followers of Set
It’s a fair assumption that wherever a large collection of mortals and Cainites coexist, the Setites will be there in some form. Heretical beyond all measure in Europe, the Followers of Set are disliked and often hunted when they emerge in Cainite Domains. While there are no outwardly active Followers of Set, the Setites are rumored to have built a temple somewhere in the County of Urgell, to the west of Barcelona. Though this has not been verified, a small section of the Pyrenees foothills in the northern part of Urgell is almost completely inaccessible, despite not having any visible structures. Cainites who go there simply wind up gone. Whether it’s Final Death or something else, no one has been able to figure out what’s going on there. Rumors, of course, indicate that the Temple of Set has been established underground in that region. It’s said that they have a large collection of ancient crafts from Egypt, as well as several vampiric relics from the Second City. Despite the danger involved in going to look for the rumored temple, many Cainite treasure hunters brave the risks to seek out occult power.
The Tzimisce are the most restricted of the High Clans, which is likely good for the rest of Europe. This is mostly a logistic issue, since their Clan’s great flaw prevents them from moving far from the Carpathian Mountains. There are, however, a handful of Tzimisce that travel to Iberia, mostly to keep track of their hated enemy, the Tremere. One young ancilla diplomat in particular, Sascha Vykos, has been seen attempting to bargain with Prince Juan Mercedo for the right to hunt down the Usurpers Goratrix and Epistatia. So far, the Tzimisce hasn’t been able to offer much to Prince Mercedo, but with the decades-long Shadow War with the Cathar Cainites and the slowly-brewing cold war with the Courts of Love, the Tzimisce have a good bargaining chip in their vozhd and revenant servants.