Marcus Vitel, a short form of Marcus Vitellius, born Lucius Aelius Sejanus, was a powerful Cainite who spent years masquerading as a Ventrue. His deception was so thorough that he managed to become the Prince of Washington, D.C. without attracting suspicion.
Lucius Aelius Sejanus was born in Hispania (modern Spain) at the start of the first millennium CE. He served the Roman conquerors well and joined their legions in battle. He soon came to the attention of the new Emperor Tiberius, who saw a strange intensity in the young Iberian warrior as well as a remarkable mind for politics and intrigue. Tiberius decided to set Lucius up as his proxy in Rome while he spent his days on the island of Capri, surrounded by the luxury that befitted an emperor.
In the name of Tiberius, Lucius created an organization of secret police who controlled the new Empire through terror. Sejanus ordered the executions of thousands and, as time passed, assumed more and more initiative in running the government. Eventually, Tiberius decided that his Iberian lieutenant was a threat to his position.
Tiberius ordered his legions into Rome to depose Lucius, who declared a revolution. When the legions arrived, they were met by members of the Praetorian Guard, the soldiers of the Imperial palace. But the Roman guardsmen proved no match for the war-hardened legionnaires. Tiberius' men found Lucius Sejanus on the Palatine Hill, and though he fought with the passion of the mightiest gladiators, they managed to cut him down. They carried his body to the Tiber River and dumped it into the water. On the shores of the Tiber, the place where, according to legend, a she-wolf supposedly discovered Romulus and Remus, a member of clan Lasombra pulled Vitel's body from the currents. Finding that the final embers of life still flickered within his breast, the elder Embraced Lucius Aelius Sejanus. She then told him about what he had become, and left him with these words: "You will rule again, as you were always meant to do. Destroy the lords who sought to combat you. You have the potential to become greater than your master. Use it wisely."
Lucius Aelius Sejanus arose from the banks of the Tiber and disappeared from the history of Kindred and kine. He made his way north into the forests of Germany, but the powerful German rune casters drove him away. He continued on to Britain Isles and spent a number of centuries there, advising chieftains on how to breach Roman defenses and helping warlords dispose of their rivals. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, he went into seclusion, studying the mystic arts and eventually learning some of the secrets of Thaumaturgy.
Lucius came out of hiding during the Inquisition, when he saw the Sabbat as a way to gain the power he still craved. His abilities to manipulate ghouls, to uncover information, and to coordinate espionage activities led to the Final Death of many older vampires. However, he soon realized that the Sabbat was not strong enough to overwhelm the Camarilla. He began to see the hands of other, more powerful vampires behind the Sabbat.
Sejanus vowed that he would one day have the power, influence, and control enough to make others tremble at mention of his name; but for now, none should know who he was. He sailed to the New World, disavowing the Sabbat and planning his own rise to power. For several centuries, he traveled up and down the East Coast. As the land become more settled, he decided to rest for a few centuries. He set up residence in the Maryland countryside in a plantation called Rome, next to a stream that he named the Tiber. He re-awoke in 1954, pleasantly surprised to discover that his resting place was now in the center of the most politically important city in the world. He chose to pose as a member of Clan Ventrue, delighting in the irony of using the clan that founded the Camarilla to achieve his own ends. He constructed his story with elements of truth. Sejanus claimed to be Marcus Vitellius, a centurion Embraced in the later Empire, during the reign of Commodus. For the sake of the modern world, he shortened the last name to Vitel.
When he introduced himself to Prince Marissa, Marcus discovered an entirely new emotion. For some reason that neither could satisfactorily explain, Marcus and Marissa were attracted to each other from the moment they first met. He became a constant companion to the Prince, and the two shared blood, but not the reins of power in Washington, D.C, which remained firmly in Marissa's hands. He managed to assume control of the Ventrue in D.C, but while he sought for more power in the city, Marissa would give him none. Gradually, Marcus' initial infatuation began to change, replaced by a slow burn that arose from deep within. Although Marcus cared for Marissa, he could not bear to see a woman in control of so much. She had all the power that he desired – power to make even Europe tremble. As long as she existed, he would never achieve his own dreams of domination. Regretfully, he contacted the Camarilla, through Clan Ventrue, about Marissa's power base. Careful plans were laid to eliminate the Prince. Camarilla elders agreed to let Vitel take over the domain, provided he would concede several areas of government to their control and refrain from interfering in national and international affairs.
The riots following Martin Luther King's death provided the perfect opportunity to set the plan in motion. Marcus lured Marissa away from downtown under the pretense of concern for her safety. She was taken to Arlington National Cemetery, where a set of Archons and a Justicar made quick work of her. Vitel stood by and watched as Marissa went to Final Death. A chill deeper than any he had known passed through him as her form crumbled to ashes. The Archons gave him her remains to dispose of as he wished. Among the pile of refuse, Marcus' gaze chanced upon Marissa's locket, an item of jewelry which she had never taken off in all the time he had known her. While the rest of her belongings went up in smoke, Marcus rescued the locket and opened its delicate clasp. Inside was a hazy daguerreotype. Studying it by the light of the flickering fire, he saw that the image was vaguely familiar. As the last bits of Marissa's dress dissolved in the flames, Marcus realized that the photo was of his own sire, barely recalled from a night almost 2,000 years ago. As Vitel's ghouls wrested power in the city and took advantage of the rioting to dispose of other enemies, Marcus tore through Marissa's belongings for more clues as to the identity of his sire. His lack of success in his search spurred him to make a greater effort to claim the city, and a series of purges shattered most of the opposition to the "Ventrue" Prince.
During the '70s, he tightened his grip, gaining a reputation as a strong but fair-minded leader. It was in this time that Peter Dorfman moved his haven to the city and became Vitel's opponent. His opposition, coupled with the restrictions placed on him by the Camarilla, made his power a shadow of what he had possessed in Rome. Again his rule was dictated by the whims of others. In the '80s, things started to fall apart in D.C. Anarchs moved into the eastern sections of the city. Sabbat attacks became more frequent and deadly. The Prince allowed these crises to continue, because they gave him an opportunity to expand his power base, using the excuse that he was protecting Camarilla interests. He gave permission for foreign vampires to enter his domain, implying that he was responsible for access to the capital.
Vitel attended meetings of the primogen every month under the pretense of listening to their advice. In truth, however, he went to gauge their plots against him and to take advantage of the opportunity to play others off of each other. Still, the rumors of Marcus' powers far exceed their true measure. While princes and primogen from around the globe owed Vitel boons, his influence over the government were little but minor debts.
Vitel meticulously maintained his own image. He had ghouls working as public relations directors and spin doctors. Every move he made and every word he spoke was analyzed, not only in D.C. but around the world. Thus, his conduct more closely resembled that of a President of the United States than a typical prince. He took great pains to ensure that no issue or situation ever appeared to phase him. In his spare time, Marcus pondered who was pulling his strings. He found the circumstances of his Embrace, along with the creation of a national capital over his torpored body, Marissa's unknown ties to his sire, and the success of his masquerade as a Ventrue all too convenient. What bothered him even more is what might happen if freed himself from whatever game in which he was a pawn.
Vitel's answer was to take the Jyhad to a new level. He believed that in the modern era, technology had advanced to a point where it could destroy the elders of Europe and perhaps even the Antediluvians. The Prince wanted to start a nuclear war. If he could destroy creatures like Set and Baba Yaga while ensuring his own survival and that of the human race, then he can recreate the world in his own image. In his twisted delusions of power, Vitel saw himself as the Caine of a new race of Kindred and the god of a new human civilization. Under his beneficent despotism, justice will be swift and sure. Humanity will achieve unimaginable wonders, and the cycles of waste, overpopulation, and crime will come to an end. It may take thousands of years to recover from the war, but when that point is reached, Sejanus would guide the world into an age beyond the wildest fantasies of poets and writers. He would live out his dream: society will exist in utopian bliss. The scenario must be hidden from all, however, or the entire city would certainly turn against him. Such is the blindness of the masses.
Vitel was a paranoid control freak of the first order. The evidence that Marissa was involved with his sire, along with his acquisition of a magical clasp that makes it surprisingly easy for him to masquerade as a Ventrue (Lasombra do not cast reflections, but Vitel's clasp allows him to do so), as well as his rapid rise to power have all made him certain that he is the pawn in some deeper struggle.
Vitel ruled D.C. to a degree that no other Prince would dare (although he never attempted to control the U.S. government, for the Camarilla would squash him if that happened), and planned to use his influence to eventually launch a nuclear war that would allow him to reconstruct the world in his image.
In 1999, when the Sabbat seized D.C. under the leadership of Sascha Vykos, Vitel was able to evade an assassination attempt performed by the Tzimisce and their thrall, an Assamite she called "Parmenides" (apparently, Vitel's ruse was so complete that not even the Sabbat knew his true identity). Sometime later, he attended a Conclave of Camarilla Princes that discussed further steps following the rise of the Ravnos Antediluvian. Vitel proposed amassing weapons of mass destruction and actively preparing for Gehenna, in a manner similar to the Sabbat and its own preparations for the nuclear war.
He was finally discovered as a traitor and met his Final Death through the joint effort of the Ventrue and Brujah. The Ventrue were represented by Jan Pieterzoon, Anton Baas, and a small army of ghouls, while the Brujah were composed of archon Theo Bell, Christof Romuald, Lydia, Frankie, and Baldur. Vitel took several shots to the body and head (with Dragon's breath ammo), but despite his injuries, he ruthlessly killed or maimed most of his attackers before being chopped to pieces by Theo Bell using Christof's sword.
Despite his destruction being a sure thing confirmed by several independent individuals, rumors spread that Vitel had survived. The Justicars dispatched Bell back to Washington to dispel these stories, under the threat of dismiss him from his office.
Bell and Beckett discovered that Vitel, or an entity claiming to be Vitel, had subtly gathering allies among the local Sabbat, including the influential Templar Talley. The creature claims to have fled into the Abyss, leaving a simulacrum of blood and shadow that was destroyed by Bell and his allies. Bell was to serve as his warmaster, reclaiming Washington, D.C, from the Sabbat. Vitel claimed Beckett as his herald, seeking a way to free himself from the Jyhad by making Washington a free city from it. Vitel became Beckett's main financer in his quest to regain the Book of the Grave-War and find a way to avert Gehenna. Likewise, he uses Talley to find other vampires sympathetic to the notion of living independently from the Jyhad and the sect war.
Marcus Vitel dresses in the most expensive suits available, and adds an elegant trench coat to his attire in poor weather. He has black hair and dark blue eyes which burn with a cold intensity. When he steps into a room, all others fall silent.
As of V5 he is confirmed alive and has retaken DC.
Beckett's Jyhad Diary has a possible plot hook: " Vitel is not Vitel. Bell was correct — he did execute the Prince. The being posing as Marcus Vitel is clearly an elder Lasombra possessed of great talent for Obtenebration, and nobody but Sir Talley knows the deceiver’s identity. For his part, Talley remains quietly satisfied as he loyally serves." Chicago V5 has a note from one unnamed Lasombra: "As we were scouting the place out, we found Him. Him. I don’t know if He was our clan founder, just a real old Keeper, or something completely different, but when He saw us, we felt the pull to his gigantic mouth, his all-consuming black hole. The void was callingI wasn’t the only one to see Him out there... Some claim to have encountered Him in Libya, others in Afghanistan. There’s even a report of His presence in Sicily, and some claim the so-called Emperor of D.C. is just Him in another form."
- Note: Vitel's extra level of Obfuscate allows him to cloak his lineage, whether mystically or otherwise. His extra levels of Presence allow him to inspire rage in others and to cut the emotional ties between people. Also, despite his proficiency with Thaumaturgy, Marcus has no knowledge of blood magic.