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Abishai

by: Jay Knioum A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

"He'll castrate your soul
And penetrate your mind
Fear his Fire eyes burnin'
Spirits are never destroyed
Fear his Fire eyes burnin'
Lost forever in the void
Fear his Fire eyes burnin'"
- My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, "Badlife"

Bent on spreading filth and putrescence throughout the world, the Abishai are demons encased in a vampiric husk. Through a twisted bonding of infernal spirit and undead flesh, these creatures are free to walk the earth and wreak horrible acts upon her denizens...man or otherwise.

It was a ghoul, a Mesopotamian necromancer named Tlala, who first accepted the Rite of Sarcophagi (now called Corpus Nocta), calling into his body a demon of pestilence and corruption. The Rite was performed by a Baali called Usat, in an attempt to enslave the demon by embracing the blood-bound ghoul.

This arrogance would be Usat's undoing. Instead of embracing a demonic slave, Tlala became something else: an unholy marriage of hellish consciousness and Cainite blood.

At first, Usat reveled in his success, and began to train the new vampire to be the next incarnation of Baali, the one who would usher in the next age of darkness for the glory of the clan.

Tlala had other plans. He learned to control and to tap the energies boiling within him to gain great and terrible power. The worst of it, however, is that he retained the secret to infesting another Cainite with the forces of darkness. He named this infestation the Cauldron.

Tlala secretly began to create an army of childer, taken from his own mortal followers. One by one, the Cauldron spread, until seven childer were made. All the while, Tlala learned the secrets of the infernal from Usat, and told his Sire lies and deceptions in the guise of insight gained from his Cauldron.

It is the Cauldron that defines the Abishai, and it is to spread the Cauldron to other Kindred that gives the Abishai purpose. So it has been for thousands of years, and so it is today.

The Abishai are not completely demons, nor are they completely vampires. They are bound in a twisted sort of symbiotic existence, as each essence is interlocked in a pact of darkness. The two natures think as one, but still compete against each other for dominance. In many ways, the Abishai are cursed with a vampiric version of the Shadow that all wraiths must endure. In this case, the Abishai's Cauldron, as they call it, is a separate entity (or many entities, actually) forced to share this body. Often, the demonic presence is dominant, but not completely so. The vampire becomes depraved, but independently willed. The vampire is not a slave, but tends toward acts of evil. When the vampire is weak, or loses self-control, the Cauldron quickly takes control, if only briefly. All other times, the two "souls" are indistinguishable from each other, even by the Abishai herself.

Some few Abishai loathe this existence. Most embrace it, and revel in eternal evil. The Abishai delight in the pain, degradation, and destruction of others. They exist to spread corruption and strife wherever they spread.

Parent Clan: Baali

Nickname: Husks

Disciplines: Any two, Cauldron (see Society, below)

Appearance: Abishai are freaks, and they look the part. Given what they are, the Abishai tend to revel in things most others find abhorrent. They are sadomasochists, hedonists, and demented in the extreme. For this reason, they will frequently adorn themselves with outlandish jewelry that juts out from their flesh in many places. They scar themselves, burn themselves, and love the pain of a tattoo's birth; many Abishai cover themselves scalp to toe in such art. The expression on most Abishai faces is one of insanity, dementia, malevolence, and self-righteous zeal.

The Way of Cauldron: The Abishai are united toward a dark and singular purpose: to spread the influence of Hell, not by pacts and dark deeds, but by spreading demonic infestation. The bloodline is loosely organized, but groups are tightly knit along a pseudo-religious structure. There is always a "high priest or priestess" leading a "flock" of some kind. These flocks (called "Crucibles" by themselves) will quietly enter a city and start to infect its vampires with hellish influence. Less-powerful Abishai of a Crucible will stalk the city's Kindred one by one and stake them, and drag them back to the High Priestess. This elder then "bestows" the Kiss of the Fallen, occasionally followed by Corpus Nocta (see Cauldron discipline) on the victim, bringing it into the fold.
Once Corpus Nocta is performed, the vampire is granted Cauldron at the expense of one of her previous Clan Disciplines. The "thrown-out" Discipline is still retained, but now advances at non-clan rate. The effect is similar to the Children of Osiris, and how they gain their Bardo Discipline. If the vampire was embraced by an Abishai (thereby becoming Caitiff until Corpus Nocta), then the vampire may select any two Disciplines as the Storyteller allows. These two will advance at the Clan Discipline rate. It all depends on what the Crucible's vampires know and are willing to teach. Since the husks transform vampires from all clans, the possibility of an Abishai with rare, clan-specific Disciplines does exist. There may even be a handful that know Mortis, or countless other Disciplines thought lost to time or extinction.

Society: Crucibles of Abishai, as tight-knit as they are, are each independent of another. Indeed, more than one war has broken out between two or more Crucibles that have staked out the same city as their "breeding ground." However, encounters between Crucibles do not always end up violent, and woe betide any city in which two or more Crucibles join forces.
Crucibles operate very much like a cult. Abishai of such a group (and rare is the Abishai who is not) are nothing short of fanatical in their loyalty. Most Abishai will gleefully hurl themselves to their deaths to protect their High Priestess. There are rumors among certain Tremere Antitribu that the Abishai practice their own version of the Vaulderie to further enforce this loyalty. Even so, it is common practice for every single Abishai of a Crucible to be Blood-Bound to the High Priest, as part of the Corpus Nocta ritual.
Abishai firmly believe that mortals are cattle awaiting Embrace, and that other Kindred are foolish puppets, walking husks awaiting their destiny as hosts of Hell. In this dark quest, the Abishai know no true loyalties, nor do they differentiate between clans, sects, or organizations. To the Abishai, there are only Abishai, those to become Abishai, or food.
Likewise, those Kindred who have heard of the Abishai - or have been unlucky enough to deal with them - know that if one Abishai is found in a city, there is probably a Crucible somewhere, and it had better be eliminated quickly. For this reason, and because of the Abishai intolerance for dissension, lone wolf Husks are virtually nonexistent.
Besides their driving goal of infecting all Kindred with Cauldron, the Abishai revel in their "hobbies." Foremost among these is torture. Abishai love it. Most even love to receive it, having been conditioned to enjoy pain from their nights as Acolytes. Every Crucible has at least one torture chamber in their haven, and the screams of their victims (always those who won't be missed) echo throughout the abandoned areas the Husks so love to roost within. Many Abishai even videotape or record their exploits for posterity. Abishai skill at inflicting pain is rivaled only by the Tzimisce, it is said.
The Husks are rabid diabolists. They will not diablerize any vampire in their Crucible, but anyone else is fair game. It is common practice for Crucibles to diablerize older vampires and convert the younger ones. When Crucibles war upon each other, diablerie is rampant.
This is not to say that the Abishai are completely wanton in their depravity. On the contrary, they usually restrict their worst deeds to the confines of their communal havens, only venturing out to capture more victims. These victims are usually those who will not be missed, or those individuals who are "blessed." To an Abishai, "blessed" means the same as "corrupted" does to everyone else.

Abishai and Kindred Society: The Abishai disregard the ideals or laws of the Camarilla and Sabbat. Many Abishai aren't even aware of the larger sects' existence, having been embraced directly into the insular Crucibles. In fact, it is a rare Abishai that can name even one other clan. The Twisted Upbringing Flaw is as common as a pair of fangs among the vampires of this line. Those few vampires that have actually spoken with an Abishai have found them to be alienated from the world, ignorant of Cainite society, and fanatical.
As one might expect, relations between the larger sects and this bloodline are hardly cordial. Even the Sabbat remember the dogged ferocity and animal cunning displayed by an invading Crucible; more than one pack has met its match when the Husks attack their cities.
Only the Followers of Set have been known to cultivate any sort of relations with this bloodline, and only when they will somehow gain from such a dangerous alliance. Even so, these relations inevitably crumble when the Husks turn their attentions toward "recruiting" such allies.
Modern Abishai and Baali, while very similar to an outsider's eyes, are not allies. The Baali see the Husks as insane, dangerous fools who have no control over the hellish forces they summon. Ironically, the Abishai elders see the Baali exactly the same way (the neonates are unaware that the clan even exists). The only difference is semantic; the Baali seen the Abishai as lunatics, the Abishai see the Baali as cowards.

Haven: Abishai are almost never found alone, if they are found at all. They seek out hidden or abandoned structures large enough to contain their entire Crucible. They will seek out deserted or condemned apartment buildings, warehouses, movie theatres, subway tunnels, and the like. They tend to avoid sewers, for a war with the Nosferatu is never desirable.
Abishai Crucibles are very cunning when it comes to capturing other vampires. Typical methods include opening bizarre nightclubs that cater to an underground or alternative lifestyle, hoping to attract hordes of young mortals, and the vampires that follow them to feed. These vampires learn too late that they are ones being hunted.
The Abishai have learned to use mortals as convenient smoke screens against prying eyes. The Husks are adept at surrounding their havens with groups of mortals that would normally be outside the mainstream social spectrum.
In underdeveloped countries, Abishai are bolder. Prisons, slums, and sometimes entire towns become hives for these vampires.

Abishai and other Supernaturals: The Husks desire to infect all Cainites with Cauldron, but what of the other supernatural creatures? Out of them all, the Abishai find the most common ground with the Wyrm and its minions. Black Spiral Dancers can occasionally be found in the employ of a Crucible, serving as enforcers or guards. The Abishai are not above experimentation, though, and more than one Black Spiral Abomination has been born of the putrid Abishai line.
On the same note, the Wyrm's minions are curious as to the prospect of encasing Banes in the place of demons in the Abishai Cauldron. A few ultra-secretive Pentex laboratories are hard at work researching just that. If successful, they will attempt to encase more and more powerful Wyrm-spirits into the vampires, hopefully creating an Armageddon Bloodline to wipe out all of Gaia's children.
There are a few Wyrm Caerns that are also home to Crucibles of Abishai. One of the largest of these is reputed to be in Mexico, but its location is not known.
Abishai also play a role in the machinations of the Nephandi. In fact, there are some few mages well versed in Cainite lore that speculate the entire bloodline came about because of a Nephandus' manipulations.

Ghouls: The Abishai ghoul quite often, and the treatment their ghouls receive is among the worst imaginable. They embrace the same kind of individual they ghoul: those who are pliable, hopeless, and aching for some kind of purpose. Abishai seek out young runaways, the homeless, and the mad.
When the opportunity arises, the Abishai are quick to ghoul or Embrace those of severe moral impediments, those who thrive and make their living off the misery or death of others. Drug dealers, producers of child-porn or "snuff" films, serial killers and the like are prime candidates for the Cauldron.
Once ghouled, the poor souls are devoured by a world of cruelty, pain and torment. They are bombarded by images and propaganda. A person or vampire lost to the Abishai society will never be the same again, even if dragged back from their pits. Even the most levelheaded of ghouls will not retain their sanity or individuality long in this world. Indeed, those who have spoken with an Abishai ghoul have found them to be dogged, almost beastly. Quite of few of them have learned to enjoy the abuse.
Since the ghouls do not suffer the same unholy aura weakness of their domitors, they are usually the ones tasked to infiltrate a city's nightlife, to root out prospective vampiric victims.

Weakness: Make no mistake. The Abishai are monsters. Even those who try to retain some measure of Humanity after undergoing Corpus Nocta will eventually fall to the dark urgings of the Cauldron. The Husks have several weaknesses, all borne of this cancerous presence within them.
The Abishai are cursed with an aura of unholy energy. As the vampire walks by, animals will go nearly insane with fear. Food will spoil. Holy water will grow hot and steam. If an Abishai stays in an area for a long period of time, nearby plants will die thereby marking the havens of these creatures with dead trees and wilted flowers. Finally, the Abishai's dark emanations will be immediately apparent to any use of Aura Sight, save for when the Abishai may use Obfuscate to enshroud the effect (Level 6 Obfuscate is required to achieve this, however). To one with Aura Sight, an Abishai will be enveloped in black flames, and vermin will be seen crawling just beneath the vampire's skin.
More importantly, however, is that while the Abishai may embrace as can all vampires, the resultant childe will not be Abishai, only Caitiff (called Acolytes by the bloodline). Only those vampires who undergo the level 6 Cauldron power of Corpus Nocta can be granted that discipline. Until this "honor" is bestowed, these Caitiff can expect to be tortured, tormented and completely de-humanized. The Abishai are relentless in their "schooling" of their Caitiff childer, and only when the Acolytes are deemed worthy and ready to receive Cauldron, is the rite performed.
Finally, the darkness of the Cauldron roils within the Abishai at all times. For most Husks, the experience is ecstasy. For some, it is constant torment. Any Abishai with a Humanity rating of 5 or above will have to enter a mental conflict with their Cauldron at least once a night. If they lose, the Cauldron will take over temporarily, and the vampire will embark on a binge of cruelty and depravity, while the vampire can only watch as his body commits these atrocities. After this binge is over (all of which the Abishai will recall in perfect detail), the Abishai must succeed a Willpower roll, difficulty 8. Failure results in the loss of one level of Humanity.

Stereotypes:
All Cainites: They will be ours.
"Gentlemen, we need bigger guns." - Ventrue Primogen of Dallas, upon deducing the true bloodline of a troublesome "Anarch" his underlings had just staked.

Character Creation: Even though Player Character Abishai are not advised (see Final Note, below), here are a few guidelines for creating NPCs of this bloodline.
Even though Abishai may hail from any walk of Cainite life originally, there is a definite profile for those most often targeted for recruitment. Most Acolytes were neonates, without much support or resources, forced to eke out an existence in the worst parts of cities.
By far, most Abishai who were vampires previously were Anarchs before their recruitment. Caitiff are specifically hunted down as prospects, due to their outcast status in virtually all factions of Cainite society.
Otherwise, there are many more Abishai taken from the Camarilla than the Sabbat, perhaps because the former begets far more loners and easier targets than the insular Packs found in Sabbat-controlled cities.
The dominant Abishai Nature is Fanatic, although there is a good spread among Deviant, Conformist, Bon Vivant and Bravo Natures. As previously stated, it is a very rare Abishai who does not possess the Twisted Upbringing Flaw. The Permanent Wound flaw is also common among Abishai who were Embraced directly into the bloodline, due to the tortures inflicted on mortals in their "indoctrination" period.

Abishai in the World of Darkness: Abishai are found throughout the world, but especially favor large cities in poor countries, or those cities without a firmly established vampiric power base. The most infamous instances of Crucible activity have been noted in such places as Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean islands, and many parts of Africa.

Final Note: It should be said that this bloodline is intended primarily as an antagonist for Storytellers to use, and for PCs to deal with. There is much about this bloodline that makes actually playing one a tricky prospect at best. The Abishai are pure evil, and as such, offer little in the way of rewarding role-playing potential. The point of the Vampire game is the internal conflict between a vampire and her Beast. For the Abishai, this conflict is already decided. This bloodline should serve the Storyteller as a poignant reminder to the PCs of the price one pays for throwing away one's humanity.

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