Mastery, a dark county in old England hides many things
Stories so far
- Lucian's Folly (1198 a.d.): Lawrence, a Ventrue scholar, arrives at Mastery and soon makes the acquaintance with Lucian of Helsford. Lucian introduces himself as Tremere who fears for his life and is unwilling to leave the sanctity of the ruins of St. Helsford. He asks Lawrence to help him in eliminating the nefarious Gangrel heretic who lives in the woodland and kills other kindred. Lawrence ventures into the woods and kills Mathrafal, a Gangrel druid. In doing so he unknowingly frees Guinnwell, Lord of Femor, a mighty demon posing as Tremere Lucian.
- Murder of youth (1199 a.d.): A series of murders brings unrest to Mastery. The people of the county fear the revenge of the bloodthirsty demon Guinnwell so Lawrence sets out to investigate the murders in the south of Mastery.
- From the jaws of Lions (1199 a.d.): King Richard of England sets out to his doomed expedition into France, while at the same time the ambitious Marcus Caelius from the clan Tremere sets out (or is set out) from Meerlinda's grim chantry of Lion's Gate at Durham to find his own place of power. Will Marcus Caelius quest be as doomed as King Richard's ? Marcus Caelius travels to Mastery via Hammerton and establishes himself as a travelling physician and "wise man" of astonishing qualities and strange sleeping patterns. He also manages to get himself deeply mixed up into the internal intrigues of Lion's Gate and cleverly plays off Leontia, the right of the fabled thaumaturg Astor, the Keeper of the Golden Seal, and Stryx, Lion's Gate powerful ambassador and spearhead of Goratrix on the British Isles...
- A noble gift (1199 a.d.): Continuing his investigative journey (Murder of youth, 1199 a.d.) Lawrence sets out in his desperate attempt to undo the havoc he has unwillingly unleashed unto the county of Mastery by releasing the demon Guinwell and is consequently being pitched in the village of Solkirk against ancient forces and cunning from beyond this world. Supported by the Fey Summerqueen, he is able to counter the machinations of the later's eternal rival, the Fey Winterqueen, her dreadful legionnaire Guinnwell and a pawn of these dark forces, the youngling Celine Sandford, a girl gone were-beast on a rampage against other beautiful girls. Returning laden with Dignitas, the gratefulness of the Sandford-Clan, three of the beautiful Sandford-daughters in tow and Weird Ol' Andrew, the wiseman of Solkirk as an at least temporary ally/contact, Lawrence must now face both the burdens of being a temporary vassal and paladin of a fickle fey creature of enormous power and the eternal enmity of the powerful Winterqueen.
- A home and castle (1199 a.d.): Meanwhile, Marcus Caelius tries to set himself up in Mastery and finds out that young ambitions and old desires seldom mingle for good ...
From a mundane perspective
- Geoffrey, Archbishop of York: Geoffrey is King Richard's and Prince John's bastard brother (i.e. the bastard son of Richard's and John's father, late King Henry II). He is proud, vain and constantly at odds with his royal half-brothers and his own clergy. He expects instant obedience from everyone and is accordingly constantly enraged when faced with the relevation that the sun and the moon refuse to set according to his whimps. In short, he is pain in the ass for everyone around, high and low-born. He is usually touring the diocese of York and/or his various estates in the South of England, spending relatively little time in York itself.
- Sir James Gilford, Lord of Mastery: Sir James Gilford is a Norman vassal of the Archbishop of York and wealthy knight. He is directly descended from King William I's sword bearer, Jean de Gilforde.A burly, humorless, stern man in his late forties,he is respected by his peers and obeyed by his people. He has seven children.
- Lady Eleanore Gilford, Lady of Mastery: Sir James Gilford's second wife for almost 20 years, the sole child of a local wealth knigth is a devout wife to her husband. Although of a sickly disposition, she runs daily business at the Gilford-estates and is a trusted councillor of her husband.
- Sir Gerald/Gerold Gilford, Heir-Apparent of Mastery: Gerald is Sir James Gilford's first born son from Sir James Gilfords first wife. He is a powerfully built knight in his 20ies with a fearsome reputation as a brutal and efficient warriour and jouster. He has accompanied King Richard on his ill-fated crusade, but left earlier and - contrary to his King - returned to England with riches (bounty from plundered cities in Cyprus) and glory. He and his father are currently looking around to secure a good marriage for him.
- Weird Ol' Andrew: Weird Ol'Andrew is the local wise-man of Solkirk, knowledgeable in the old ("pagan") ways and a respected, if somewhat feared healer. He is an old, haggard man in good health, emotional and since recent events ("A noble gift") highly esteemed and revered in Solkirk.
- Jeffrey Le Pens: Rector of St. Gilmore Church and St.Mary Church of Mastery, as well as of the smaller St. John & Michael Church in Hammerton, Jeffrey Le Pens is the highest cleric in Mastery. These honours were bequeathed to him as a payment of his official main function as Chaplain of Sir James Gilford. Jeffrey Le Pens is the chief priest in Mastery and a confident of Sir James Gilford. He is very learned, having studied with wise masters both in York and in France (the cathedral schools of Rouen and even the high schools of Paris). Why he has given up the chance of a splendid academic and/or clerical career and bury himself in the relative obscurity of the rural backwater of Mastery is somewhat of a mystery. That he is a cousin of Elanore Gilford has certainly helped him securing his current position. On a personal level, he is thristing for knowledge (especially of the arcane and "secret" kind), tolerant as well as extremely fond of wine. Being also a very wealth cleric (receiving the tithes of three churches and rents from various donated lands and houses in the entire honour of Mastery), he can afford to indulge in his lust for knowledge and has accumlated a sizeable liberary. He corresponds regularly with other academics and clerics in Northern England (particular of the famed chatedral schools in York, Durham and Lincoln) and now and then is overjoyed to receive a letter or treatise from his former masters and co-disciples in Paris or other French monastery or chatedral schools. He is literate in Latin, Norman French and Anglo-Saxon. He is currently engaged in a lengthy horse-trade and negotation-cum-intrigue-cum bribery with various important individuals at the cathedral of York to secure himself a position as a dean.
- Albert: Albert is the vicar of St.Mary church in Mastery, a pious, stern and simple-minded man in his 30ies, tall and gifted with an impressive and booming voice. It took Jeffrey Le Pens considerable effort to teach him the rudimentaries of Latin and the arts of scribery. Now, however, Jeffrey Le Pens' efforts pay off and Albert is often charged to hold mess in both St. Mary and St. Gilmore, as Jeffrey is often engaged in other activities. Albert stems from a family of relatively prosperous freeholders in Mastery. He is a man of high reputation in Mastery.
- Elisa Sandford: Elisa Sandford is the second-oldest daughter of Owen Sandford, 18 years old, a lively and shrewd,red-haired adventorous lady. She has a straight-forward, fresh demeanour and is quick to humour and to anger. Contrary to the rest of her family, she is a devout christian as her wet-nurse (since deceased) with whom she was very close became a stout christian after a miraculous cure on a pilgrimage. She is, nevertheless, gifted with a sharp wit.
- Mary-Anne Sandford: red-haired as her older sister Elisa, Mary-Anne is a good-natured, calm girl with wide and dreamy eyes, kind but a little bit reserved. She cares very much for her family, in particular for her father and her mother.
- Gilda Sandford: a red-haired wirl-wind of 15 years, agile, merry and curious,she is definitely the most lively and impulsive of the entire Sandford-lot.
- Mark of Wellow: a giant of man with a mane of still full and blonde hair, the lord of Hammerton is rumoured to be the strongest man in the entire honour of Mastery, Mark of Wellow is a brave, principled yet hotheaded head of a well-connected and wealthy family, the Wellows, which claim descent from an obscure branch of forgotten Scotish royalty. He is in his forties, although still as healthy as in his late teens. He has accumlated much fame by his courage and his skill with the broad-sword and is known as the "Lion of Wellow".
- Thomas Lundquist: is the chief trader of Mastery, dealing mostly in wool, living sheep and wood which he sells in York and Lincoln and wine, fine clothes and other delicacies which gets from his father and brother-in law which have set up their stores in York and Lincoln, respectively. Thomas, a potbellied man with a long rich beard, who looks much older than his 30 years, is a patient and greedy man. He yearns to return to York and to become his father's heir; however, a much-detested older brother has already carved out a priority position in both his fathe's heart and the family business. Apart from Lady Elanore Gilford and two of her daughers, Jeffrey Lepense and his clerics, and some of the monks of St. Jacob, he is renowed from being one of the few persons in Mastery known to be literate.
- Brother Alan: is the public face of the monastery of St. Jacob. Once in a while this bald, pale and thin monk ventures to Mastery to purchase the necessary mundane supplies for the monastery. A skilled herbalist and healer, this taciturn, humble and withdrawn monk also travels to Hammerton once per month to cure the sick for free. Alan's free administrations of oinments, potions and prayers and the fact that he is a local (his family died in a famine 30 years ago and the urchin was taken in by the monks of St. Jacob) helps to dispell some of the sometimes weird local rumours surrounding his reclusive monastic community.
- Mathilda: is the shrewd and ambitious keeper of one of the two inns of Mastery - "The stag". A fresh-faced beauty in her 20ies, daughter of a small free-holder, she is the widow of the former inn-keeper "Dumpey Gerold", is known for her fierce temper, her charm,her excellent ale as well as her hatred for her brother-law Joan who tried to take over her inn at her husbands death (4 years ago). She has shown a lot of people that she is perfectly capable to take care of herself and is rumoured to have formerly taken her vows of marital fidelity rather ligthly. Her young son Gerald (8 years old) is currrently working as a page at the Gilford manor and is said to bear a certain resemblance to Sir Gerold/Gerald Gilford.
- Robert Marshall: the steward and castelan of Sir James Gilford, his family has been serving for at least 4 generations as servants, confidents and stewards. He is conscious of his rank, orderly and stern with his underlings and devoted to the Gilford family. Robert Marshall is a thick, heavy-set man in his forties with a stiff demeanour and was Sir James Gilfords personal squire and is now in charge of the everyday's operations of Sir James Gilford's manor and estates.
- Gerald: son of Mathilda the inn-keeper of the popular "The stag" inn in mastery, he has been granted the unusual honour to serve in the Gilford manor. Tall for his 8 years, he bears a striking resemblance to Sir Gerold/Gerald Gilford, he is a lively and enterprising youngster.
From a mythic perspective
County of Mastery
The High Clans
- Lawrence de Penly (Clan Ventrue)
- Father Benedictus (Clan Cappadocian)
The Low Clans
- Lyonnesse (Clan Gangrel)
- Marcus Caelius (Clan Tremere)
Minions of Hell
- Guinnwell, Lord of Femor, Bringer of Dissent (Demon)
County of Durham
The Low Clans
- Stryx (Clan Tremere)
- Leontia (Clan Tremere)
Barony of York
- Prince John of York (Clan Ventrue, 6th, Prince of York)
- Eyolf Ivarrson (Clan Gangrel, 9th, Warlord of the Fief of York)
- Sigfrid Redmace (Clan Brujah, Servant of Eyolf Ivarrson)
- Katla Thranddottir (Clan Ventrue, 7th, former princess of York, newly awoken from torpor)
Mastery is prosperous market town, a little bit isolated, in a wooded area in the south of Yorkshire, about 3 to 4 days travel to York. It lies at a ford, where the trading route from the south (from Sheffield and Lincoln) crosses the river Aire to run to the north to York. Its human population numbers about 700, all huddled together in the protection of a wooden palisade. Mastery is graced with the big St.Gilmore church in Romanesque style (the largest stone building in the honour), the main manor of the Gilford family (a large wood structure on stone monuments and a solid but small donjon) and the large stone warehouse-cum-family residence of the Lundquist trading family. In addition, Mastery sports two large (and fiercely competing) inns, a second (wooden) church (St.Mary) tendered by Albert, one of Jeffrey Le Pens' vicars, a just, principled and relatively dumb man.
Most prominent peasants of the beautiful town of Mastery are the Lundquists, a Dutch family offshoot of a huge trader clan, and Chaplain Jeffrey Le Pens, an ambitious but good hearted cleric who is head of the St. Gilmore church and therefore spiritual leader of all of the county of Mastery.
Mastery is also the county surrounding this little town and it is seat of a prosperous honour, making its lord, Sir James Gilford, a prominent knight with considerable influence in the local gentry. Sir James Gilford is a vassal of the Archbishop of York, an archbishoprice traditionally manned by hard-nosed and independent men who often clash with the will of the king and therefore grant their vassals considerable freedoms to ensure their loyalty.
While Mastery is the main dwelling of the honour, the honour of Mastery contains several other smaller villages of at most 200 inhabitants. Prominent among those is Solkirk, the village clustered around the manor of the Sandford family, a prominent clan of free landowners in the north of Mastery county. The head of this family is Owen Sandford, an honest and godfearing man, who donates every now and then to the church.
The southeast is owned at large by the head of the other free landowner clan who goes by the name of Mark of Wellow. Mark of Wellow is a giant of a man and is said to have Scotish forefathers. He is revered by his men and quite influental from Mastery to York. The seat of the Wellow clan is the big village of Hammerton.
Both, the Wellows and the Sandfords are vassals to Sir James Gilford.
About two hours ride from Hammerton is the secluded St.Jacob monastery of Order of St. Jacob, an offspring of the Cistertians. Its monks are famous for being real recluses and for being home to the best healers in the entire county of York.
The county of Mastery
- 1099: With Tremere's corruption at last revealed House Tremere is being cast out and becomes subject to a wide wizard's march. This event marks the official beginning of the Massassa War where Ex-House Tremere and Order of Hermes fight and undermine each other for half an eternity.
- 1190: great progome in London, York, Bristol and other major cities against the jewish community.
- 1194: King Richard returning home from the crusade is captured by his personal ennemy, Duke Henry of Babenberg, Duke of Austria and Styria and staunch ally of Emperor Henry VI of Germany of Hohenstauffen. The Hohenstauffen are engaged in civil war with another prominent German family, the Guelphs (Welfen), the Dukes of Saxony (roughly speaking). While England sides with the Guelphs, France supports the Hohenstauffen. Henry VI and Henry of Babenberg force Richard to pay an enormous randsom for his freedom. The financing of the randsom essentially bankrupts the English crown and severely weakens its power. After being set free, Richard returns shortly to England, crushes a futile revolt by his brother John, appoints a Chancellor to rule (and to tax) England and goes over to Western France to fight his vassals and the French king over provinces in Western and Northern France.
- 1199: King Richard Lionheart of England dies in France in an obscure skirmish against a rebellious minor vassal by a cross-bow bolt. His sole surviving brother, John "Lack-Land" seizes the throne. Arthur, the adolsecent son of the oldest (predeceased) brother of Richard and John's nephew, lays claim to the crown of England.
- 1199 - 1202: Civil war ensures. John quickly gains control of England, while Arthur and his allies fortify their position in Brittany. Using the internal distraction, the French attack English holding on the continent en masse and conquer vast territories in Normandy. Finally John manages to get hold of Arthur, who vanishes without leaving a trace or a body. To reorganise his power, John launches a massive campaign of retaliation against the allies of Arthur.
- 1202 - 1204: Most of his French vassals desert King John, France overruns Normandy and Brittany and force John to evacute France and to return to England. As a side-note, Constantinople is taken and plundered by the 4th Crusade.
- 1204 - 1214: English Vassals rebel against John as do Welsh Chieftains. John crushes the rebellions brutally and desperately tries to raise the monies to finance the mercenary armies necessary for recapturing his lost French territories. He rules harshly and relies on a close circle of personal and trusted friends and allies, some of which stem (to the horror and disgust of the great magnates) from villain stock. He involves himself heavily into the affairs of the Church (mostly for tax purposes and with an eye to instal his cronies/supporters in powerful positions), thereby raising the ire of Pope Innocence III, who finally excommunicates John and places the entirety of England under verdict.