Saulot, also known as Zao-Lat, Zao, the Dragon, or the Warlord, was an Antediluvian who was diablerised by Tremere (possibly voluntarily), in 1133 CE. The warrior and the healer Salubri are his main progeny, who were nearly destroyed after his diablerie; the Warrior Salubri recently resurfaced in the Sabbat. The Malkavians consider Saulot and Set to be brothers to Malkav, and that the third eye was given to Saulot by Malkav himself.
The history of Saulot is obscure, but summarized as follows: in the First City of Enoch, the ancient Enoch Embraced a young man with prophetic gifts. This seer differed from other Antediluvians in his explicit disquiet with the Kindred state. He focused on meditation, prayer and other abnegation techniques, often in tandem with his mystical siblings Malkav and Set. Nothing could quell the Beast for long, however.
Still, Saulot had his duties to his kin, and he Embraced a clan of healers, the Salubri. These vampires were unique among the Kindred for their compassion – the Salubri were healers of Kindred and kine, unable to take blood unless freely given. Sometime after the Deluge, Saulot gave up on the disciplinary techniques he had developed and sought enlightenment in the East under the tutelage of Indian gurus. He disappeared from the sight of all for centuries, only to return, worn and weary, but now with a third eye and claiming a new path to enlightenment: Golconda. With this wisdom, the Salubri claimed a new role to healer – teachers of enlightenment and the guides to mastery of the Beast.
After Saulot returned, demonic creatures arose in the East – these were vampires sired by an unknown elder and named Baali in the service of their lords. At this time, Saulot's childe Samiel, never at peace in the role of a healer, took up the sword and became the first of the Salubri warriors. Samiel led the troops of the Antediluvians against the Baali, eventually defeating them at Chorazin. With the collapse of the Second City, Saulot wandered and taught Golconda, eventually falling into deeper and longer torpor. Some time after the Crucifixion, Saulot disappeared.
Until 1133, the fledgling bloodline of the Tremere sought legitimacy by claiming the blood of an Antediluvian for their own. After much scrying and searching, the mages came on Saulot's torpid form. Unguarded, lord of a relatively passive clan, and unable to move, Saulot was the perfect target for the ambitious Tremere. A party of Tremere raided Saulot's tomb and the founder himself drank the Antediluvian's essence. The Tremere, flush with the power of an Antediluvian now found themselves marked as diablerists, usurpers, and dangerous. They reciprocated by launching a slander campaign against the Salubri, always feared for their strange spiritual powers, and eventually won over the rest of the Clans, who were always willing to sacrifice principle for present advantage.
In 1998, Saulot took control of Tremere's body after quite a struggle, he then broke the wards set to hold him and is now free again. He has since taken up residence in Hunedoara Castle, though none residing within know of his presence, disguised with his massive powers as a mortal servant named Stefan. He hopes The Twelve in residence there will put aside their differences and grudges and turn back to the path toward Golconda.
What the Kuei-jin Know
The name Saulot is unknown to the Wan Kuei, who generally view the barbarian "Kindred" with their homicidal farmer stories as so much unenlightened trash. However, the Wan Kuei do know of Zao-Lat, a student of Xue, a thief, a despicable creature who benefited from Xue's compassion, learned Ch'iuh Muh, sat at the feet of the master and stole his wisdom. Zao-Lat was not one of the Wan Kuei, and when he left, he left behind his messes.
Now inhabiting the East are the two families of Zao-Lat, the Wu-Zao. These two families are descended from two living beings twisted by Zao-Lat: Zao-Xue the scholar and Zao-Zei the thief were once captured by the Wan Kuei, but escaped and their progeny have since popped up throughout the Middle Kingdom. As for Zao-Lat, he has not been seen in millennia, and the world is better off for it.
The Kuei-jin never refer to Zao-Lat without some sort of epithet attached to the end of the name; the most common is "Zao-Lat the Traitor".
What others might suspect
Saulot's darker history appears in several locations, most notably in the stories about the odd progenitor of the Baali. It is universally accepted that the Baali founders were three demon worshippers who were tossed into an organ pit and thrown some vampire blood, told by a contemptuous vampiric ancient that they understood nothing about the true nature of evil. The Baali claim that the elder came from the East. The Baali claim that elder was Saulot.
An additional witness for the prosecution may be Haqim, whose judges worked with the Salubri Warriors during the Baali Wars. Haqim himself did not trust Saulot, who seemed obsessed with exterminating the Baali. Tremere himself may have something to say, since due to a miscalculation he found out that Saulot had played him for a fool, and for eight centuries fought the Salubri Antediluvian for control of his own body, only to lose. The passive founder of the clan might not be so passive after all.
Finally, a small coterie of vampires who have wandered through Transylvania might mention a document they found from Saulot, where he claimed that he would survive the Wheel of Ages and control the world. That might be considered a bit... cackling mad, though.
Between the extensive retconning and the somewhat fuzzy nature of dating in the Second City era, Saulot is open to a variety of interpretations. We outline the more common ones here.
Horribly Evil Antediluvian, Somewhat Evil Antediluvian
- The name probably based on two hebrew names - Saul (שָׁאוּל), which means 'asked for, prayed for' and Lot (לוֹט), which means 'veil' or 'covering'.
- Saulot is one of the most prolific of all the Antediluvians, having formed the Wu-Zao, the Salubri, (possibly) the Baali, the Nkulu Zao, the Tremere (loosely), and (possibly) the Salubri antitribu. He may have been seeking something, and each line failed him in some fashion. Saulot may be most dissatisfied with the Salubri proper, and the antitribu may reflect his view on what his clan should really be like.
- Saulot studied enlightenment under Xue. That means that Golconda might be equivalent to one of the Dharmas. Certainly, Saulot exemplifies Devil Tiger behavior with the Baali. Saulot may be powerfully enlightened, and may have achieved Golconda, only it may be something more terrifying than anyone conceived.
- Saulot may have flaked out in the East, and what happened with the Baali was an aberration from a personality genuinely seeking redemption. Or the formation of the Baali may have been, in some incomprehensible way, a service for good in the long run. Clanbook: Baali suggests the Baali's ultimate purpose is the sating of chthonic entities (called Children) with sacrifice. Without these sacrifices, the Children would awaken and devour creation. Thus, the Baali's seeming evil protects humanity from a worse fate. Saulot may have sired the Baali to serve this purpose.
- In two of the four scenarios for Gehenna Saulot saves the world, with the players' help. He is present in a third, and is mentioned in a fourth as passively accepting his own failure and destruction. He is described in the book as a classical "ends justify the means" Machiavellian, and the implication is that he sacrificed his own enlightenment and his clan to save the world from the worst effects of Gehenna.
Interpreting Justin Achilli
When Saulot was introduced in A World of Darkness he was treated as noble. This interpretation ties in with the First Edition's propensity for highly humane, good vampires who have reached Golconda with relative ease. Saulot darkens progressively with the Second Edition of Vampire, notable jumps including:
- Kindred of The East: Introduces Zao-Lat
- Transylvania Chronicles: Much of the series covers revelations about Saulot's unsavory activities.
- In the Revised Edition, Saulot appears in Gehenna and Lair of the Hidden. In Lair of the Hidden, Saulot is a deus ex machina and generally portrayed as frustrated with his straying school of Golconda-seekers, while in Gehenna, Saulot appears in two scenarios. In both interpretations, Saulot is portrayed as a redeemer for the vampire race, but generally not exemplary or noble (although he is a pre-adolescent clone in one, which may limit his Messiah-potential).
Saulot's darkening goes hand in hand with the general reinterpretation of Golconda in Vampire: The Masquerade.
V20 presents an alternate continuation of the events detailed above. Here, Goratrix already claimed during the Dark Ages that he was, in fact, Tremere, having been forced outside his body after he was possessed by Saulot and that the thing that the Clan served was an abomination (likely referring to [Tzimisce] and Saulot struggling for control over the body). In this case, Saulot would have overtaken Tremere immediately and would be the force that sent Clan Tremere against the Salubri, joined the Camarilla, and would have defeated Tremere when he destroyed the Tremere antitribu.