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[The Soulless and the Dead] [Fanmade Dark Era Addition] The Commedia

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  • [The Soulless and the Dead] [Fanmade Dark Era Addition] The Commedia

    "Midway upon the journey of our life
    I found myself within a forest dark,

    For the straightforward pathway had been lost."

    Dante's Divina Commedia is a magnus opus with many layers of interpretation. It's a satyre, an epic set within the boundaries of the medieval Catholic faith, a vehicle for theories about poetry and writing so well-thought that gave birth to the unified language of a divided nation, and many more things at the same time.

    One of the ways to look at it, one that was important to the author as much as any other reading key, is the one where the Commedia is, at its core, the story of of a lost man that, travelling where no living man has travelled before while guided by divine messengers, faces terrible dangers. learns secret truths about both the universe and human nature and, in the end, having truly understood the the connection between mortal and divine and accepted the love of God, saves his soul.

    It's an allegorical tale of a man that travels a difficult path to earn his soul. A Pilgrimage, if you want.

    What I'm going for is that, in a world where Prometheans exists and the Commedia is as famous at it already was during the years of The Soulless and The Dead, many Created, especially those who look at their pilgrimage through the experience of faith, might think of the poem as some sort of guide for their own Great Work. The ultimate goal of Dante's character in the poem and Created on their Pilgrimage is the same. It's plausible to think that many 14th Century Prometheans might look at Dante's work and relate to it in some way, What if the fiery hand of the Divine Fire guided Dante as he wrote his poem? Some Prometheans might even believe that Dante was one of the Created and that the Commedia is more real than one might think, either a complex Vision Quest or an actual pilgrimage.

    Whatever the truth, it's still a pilgrimage in the end: within the dark reality of the Chronicles of Darkness any Promethean that takes the Commedia as example and travels through hidden worlds, learning and growing along the way, might do enough to reach the same apex of the protagonist of the poem and earn his blessed soul.

    This thread is essentially me being a literature nerd and playing with the Divine Comedy. It will include stuff related to it through a Promethean perspective. Some things will be more literal, like angels and monsters taken straight out of the poem, others will stretch things more, like a Dead Dominion inspired by the Inferno or a group of alchemists who have a Dante theme. Overall, the ending result I aim for is a collection of situations, NPCs and enemies that would allow a Promethean to have its own little Comedy within the Dark Era setting or to have a bunch of adventures that somehow lead back to the poem (keeping in mind the actual Dark Era chapter, of course). There's not a schedule to this, I'll add things when and as long I feel like, since I already have a big project going on and I know myself enough to know that to spread my attention too much would be a disaster. A lesson I learned through the years that I won't betray, since I do care about that other project a lot. Still. an entry every now and then can't hurt.

    Anyways, let's start with an easy one

    Entry #1: Virgil

    (No, he's not gonna be a qashmal. Be patient with me, that spot is taken by a more heavenly lady)

    As the Promethean runs from Pandorans, a figure approaches. The fiends stop at its sight and flee. He resembles a human being, but at the same time it's clear he is not. If asked, he claims to be none other than the Roman poet Virgil. who lived under Emperor Augustus and sang of shepherds, fields and heroes. He does have both the language and the knowledge to support this claim, being able to cite poems and epics from Ancient Rome better than most scholars of the 14th Century. The entity claims to have been sent to the Promethean by a higher power and that his duty is to guide the Created through occult places so she might learn lessons and be prepared for what the future will require from her. If the Promethean accepts, Virgil will join her Pilgrimage and lead the way.

    What does Virgil actually do? More than anything, he keeps his word. The figure has the uncanny ability to open pathways to the secret worlds of the Chronicles of Darkness and the power to protect the Promethean from most of the dangers. He won't actually attack preemptively other beings and won't defend any Created that goes looking for trouble but, if needed, can respond to any aggression. He also demonstrates a degree of knowledge about the supernatural beings that inhabit the world and their secrets that would have taken centuries to acquire. Overall, the events, people and places to which Virgil leads the Promethean are of the tragic and terrifying type. Virgil puts the Created in front of horrible monsters and the worst the world has to offer, merely telling what they're looking at and leaving the Created to take any lesson out of it. Making examples, in this world he will take the Created to watch the consequences of war and plague, as ghouls and demons feed from the corpses, while in others he'll show horrors like the alien hunger of spirits, the cruel pastimes of the Gentry or the tormented shades of the Underworld.

    Virgil is driven, and will reply to all the questions the Promethean might make, but he won't accept to be denied until he feels like he's done. He'll be kind and helpful as long as the Created follows his lead, but any Promethean that no longer wishes to be guided by Virgil will earn his ire and, if she does not change her mind soon, will be abandoned, probably while in a extremely dangerous place. Those who take the Refinement of Flux will also be left behind: Virgil only accompanies the Created that hope to reach the New Dawn. He also seems to have a predilection for unlit, chtonic places, and feels uneasy when in different environments. Oddly. Pandorans will still show up when Virgil is present, hostile towards the Promethean as they always are, but will think twice before attacking.

    But what is Virgil? In a setting like that of the Chronicles of Darkness, there are many possible answers, the following one only being some examples:

    1st Option: The Ancient Shade

    Probably the most straightforward option, this Virgil is like the one described in the Commedia: the actual ghost of Publio Virgilio Marone that, escaped from the Underworld as commanded by some higher power, comes to the Promethean aid and guides her. This Virgil will be lead by his passions and mortal memories, looking at the struggle, demands and difficulties of a Promethean Pilgrimage through the framework of his work and experiences.

    This being the ghost of an ancient Roman poet, it will look at the world with a perspective that's the result of such a life distorted by centuries spent in the Underworld. Virgil has the necessary knowledge to help a Promethean, but is a detached and at times insane being. He will often lose himself to the memories of mortal life. He'll tend to bring any Promethean under his tutelage towards Italy, passing through Rome and reaching the southern lands he loved so much when he was alive. Actually following this Virgil to his tomb might trigger a strong reaction from his.

    2nd Option: The Elder Vampire

    To history, Virgil died soon after returning from a voyage to Greece, his weak constitution worsened by the difficult travel. This Virgil died too, but only to become one of the Kindred. The nocturnal aristocracy of Rome knew who Virgil was, both one of Augustus favorite poets and a famous member of Maecenas's literary circle. Perhaps one of them decided to spare Virgil from his death, hoping his talent would be better used to glorify the vampires of Rome and survive through the ages. Or maybe the fever Virgil caught while in Greece was the result of vampiric attentions of some sort, which would culminate with his death weeks later. Whatever the truth, this Virgil is one that survived to the current era while feeding on the blood of the living and someone persuaded him to become a guide for one of the Created.

    Virgil does not mention anything about his unlife, preferring to focus on his experiences as a living being. What this implies about his thoughts concerning the vampire existence, it's only speculation. What this Virgil does is to act as a coherent, if cynical and disillusioned, teacher. He clearly has no love for the current age and considers everything to be nothing more than a shadow of Rome at its apex, but he slowly develops an attachment for the Promethean, as the struggles and hopes of such tormented creature are somehow able to awaken feelings and passions the Kindred poet thought to be forgotten.

    3rd Option: The Geist

    The thing claims to be Virgil, and it might actually have been him once, but nowadays that's pretty much a lie. This Virgil is not a living being, but rather a Geist whose identity comes from a combination of memories and thoughts about Rome and its poems who survived and changed through crucibles of death and rebirth. Whether this Geist was the real Virgil, a scholar of Latin literature or even a ghost who somehow attached itself to a role and an identity that did not belong to him while travelling the depths of the Underworld, what the Promethean can see is something whose mortal life does not matter anymore.

    This "Virgil" made a pact with the man with whom he shares a body, but something terrible happened while they were bound and nowadays the poor mortal is nowhere to be found. All that remains is "Virgil" riding his body, driven by its alien mind and byzantine thoughts. For some reason, "Virgil" is obsessed by Prometheans and keeps leading them in the Underworld, Created after Created, trying to achieve something that it cannot even describe. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to free both "Virgil" and the man it's bound with from their current state, but not all Promethean will be able to realize this before embarking on a pilgrimage with it

    4th Option. The Centimanus

    The reason why Pandorans don't attack any Promethean that travel with this Virgil is because the "poet" is able to control them. This Virgil is not the real one, of course, but rather a remarkably knowledgeable Centimanus that took that identity for himself years ago. Maybe he did it during the quest for identity all Prometheans go through, finding Rome and its authors, coming to identify himself with the distant civilization. Or perhaps he has read the Divine Comedy and saw how the poem might appeal to Prometheans, the name Virgil being only a part of a deceitful scheme.

    Virgil is indeed helping the Created with her Pilgrimage, but he aims for a different conclusion than the Final Work. He shows the Promethean the worst mankind has to offer for the simple reason he wants them to look at the prospective of becoming human as he does: something that's not worth the effort. This Centimanus is effectively using his role and his lies as a way to persuade others to embrace the Refinement of Flux. He leaves the Promethean if she becomes a Centimanus for a simple reason: his work has been done.

    5th Option: The Incarnate

    Whether this Virgil was the real one or not, it does not matter: what's important is that right now, he's helping the Prometheans with their own story. This Virgil is an ancient Beast Incarnate that, while having triumphed as a monster ages ago, still carries over a fond predilection for the Created. Those who have heard of him whisper that's because of a promise he made to another Created several lifetimes ago, when they were Family, but there's no true way to know.

    Virgil guides the Promethean because he has some knowledge about the requirements of the Great Work. He might not feel what a Created does, but he understands stories and lessons, knowing well that a creature that wishes to transcend her current state has both to accept its state, learn its lessons and forge a real identity before it can overcome its own limitations. This Virgil shows the Promethean the horrors of the world because his souls is born from nightmares and terrors, meaning he's best suited to guide them through a pilgrimage made of dark and dreadful lessons.
    Last edited by Cinder; 06-20-2017, 05:57 PM.

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