Maria D'Agostino was a Lasombra active in the Levant during the Dark Medieval. An amibtious agent of her Elders, she sought to secure Lasombra prominence in the Holy Land.
Born to the family of powerful merchants in Genoa, Maria Isabella d'Agostino grew up with the sensibilities of one born to rule. Genoa was beginning its growth as a trading power, and the wealth brought to House d'Agostino bought her servants, rich clothes of silk from Constantinople and all the things that she grew to regard as her rightful due. The success of her family showed its natural right to rule, and the d'Agostinos were leaders in the resistance against Fatimid raiders and in the city's commercial expansion.
Although she was taught that a woman's proper place was as a wife, mother and household supervisor, Maria was fascinated with trade and the arts of commerce. She showed an aptitude for mathematics and business, which was considered unseemly by many in her family. Her father, however, indulged her, not the least because she wan more apt pupil than her dolt of an elder brother, Rogerio, the nominal heir.
But a stroke felled old Don Carlo one summer's night, and Rogerio became head of the house. Viewing his sister as just another commercial property, he arranged for her marriage to the heir of the powerful Fieschi family in return for trading concessions in Constantinople. Brother and sister had a fierce fight in the family library that ended with Maria stabbing Rogerio through the heart with his own dagger. Rushing to the sound of their master's scream, the servants restrained her and turned her over to the authorities. Within days, the magistrate had pronounced a sentence of death by strangulation.
The night before her execution, she was visited by Father Pietro in her cell. While she made her confession, he spoke softly to her, telling her that there was no great sin in what she did, since fate had placed an inferior ahead of her and all she did was to take her rightful place. He claimed that he had the power to restore her to the place that God meant for her and to put her among Europe's natural rulers, if she would only agree to further the interests of a new family, one that lived in shadow.
She agreed eagerly, and Father Pietro left without a further word. The next day, instead of being taken to her execution, she was released and restored to her home and servants. It seemed that a sailor from Sardinia had confessed to the murder and already been put to death. The contract with the Fieschi was broken, too. Wondering how the debt she owed this mysterious family would be paid, she buried herself in her work of running the family businesses. Of "Father Pietro," no one she asked knew a thing.
Yet he returned a few months later, surprising her in the study where she had killed her brother. He reminded her of her debt but reassured her that she was merely assuming her rightful role within her new family, the Lasombra. Held by his soothing words and a dominating presence, she stood paralyzed as his teeth sunk into her neck and drained her lifeblood. She then drank eagerly of his.
In the decades since, Maria came to believe that that night was the beginning of her real life. In the years that followed, she made ghouls of her whole household, ensuring their loyalty. To maintain a proper image, she took a husband from a minor merchant house and made a thrall of him as well. When the years passed and her apparent youth began to draw questions, she faked her death and, ruling from the family crypt, placed another ghoul as her "heir."
Eventually, the elders of the clan felt that her talents would serve them best elsewhere. They sent Maria to establish a branch of her family's trading empire in the Second Kingdom, arriving in 1199. Since then, she had been there, supporting Lasombra and Christian interests with all her skill, from the family home in Haifa. Her contacts within the Genoan quarter of Acre and other trading ports long the coast were unparalleled.
When Jürgen von Verden and his army traveled to the Holy Land in the wake of the Fifth Crusade, Maria saw a chance to redirect it against Jerusalem to destroy the powerful Ravnos Varsik. After the barrier of True Faith that had once hindered vampires from entering the city had been lifted, Maria moved into the genoese quarter. She supported Aram Hovannes as the new prince over Etienne de Fauberge, hoping to rule behind the throne. A pact between her and Kara Lupescu, ambassador of the Voivode of Voivodes. Her fate following Etienne's confirmation as prince as a vassal of Lord Jürgen is not recorded.
Character Sheet Edit
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