The Children and the Crusade - Preview
The Children and the Crusade is a Netbook currently being made by Tobie Abad as add-on material for any Wraith Game that wishes to explore the limits and boundaries of human emotion, atrocity and hope. Although the book hints at cross-over information with other World of Darkness books, it does not require such cross-over material to be used. Rather it implies that the information within can be used for other gamelines as well.
Mature themes and scenes shall be mentioned in the Netbook. Further chapters shall be submitted depending on the response of the readers on the content.
During the Dark Ages, a series of wars intending to secure the right of Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Sepulchre occurred. Many could only see the acts as motions to recover the Holy Land from Mohammedan rivals. From 1095 till 1272, the series of wars occurred and were named Crusades.
On 1212 a Crusade unlike any other occurred in history. One where over 40,000 German children, led by a misguided zealot named Nicholas, set off on a Crusade of their own. It was believed that this Crusade, fueled by the innocence of the youth, would ultimately bring victory. After all, God would never forsake them and allow children to perish. In real world history, few of the children reached Genoa and Rome, where the current Pope Innocent III ordered them to return home. Sadly, barely a handful did. Most died of slavery or perished in transit.
In real world history, no real benefit was ever attributed to this Children's Crusade. The closest would be great folklore material such as the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
In German folklore, The Pied Piper was a stranger who came to a town (Hamelin) plagued by rats. Agreeing with town's officials, the Piper used his magic music to lure the rats into water to drown. But when the townsfolk were unwilling to pay him, the Piper paid their treachery back by playing his flute once more, and luring the children away with him to vanish at a door that appears impossibly at the side of Koppenberg Hills.
In the World of Darkness, on the other hand, the story has a second act. And is far darker than one believes..
The new crusade began 1212, when Stefen, a young Shepherd boy from Cloyes (near Vendome) claimed to have received a message from Jesus Christ, ordering him to crush the non-believers who were taking over the Christian lands. With many still ashamed by the failure of the Fourth Crusade, a young innocent's voice sounded like a spark that burned into a new fire of hope. Over 30,000 children were escaped, asked, cajoled, forced, and permitted to join Stefen in his "Crusade" to recover the Holy Sepulcher from the Muslims.
Strangely, about the same time, a 10 year old peasant boy in Germany, near Cologne, named Nikolai attracted over 20,000 children for his crusade as well.
Both claimed to have seen a cross of light in the sky. A vision as well of Jesus Christ urging them to deliver the Promised Lands to freedom. And were to bring forth a Crusade of children to win the hearts of their enemy with pure love and pure faith.
Historically, the hordes of French children died of hunger and disease during their march. After all, one can only expect so much from a child whose actions were fueled merely by faith, fear and pressure from others. Thousands of German children perished as well as they traveled the Swiss Alps on their journey. And although Stefen had promised them that God would allow the Mediterranean Sea to part for their Crusade, it did not.
Two men, Hugh Ferreus and William Porcus, supplied seven ships for the French contingent. With each ship carrying approximately 800 children, they continued their journey only to have two ships break apart in a storm and the rest to find themselves in Egypt for slavery and other illicit acts.
Reaching the borders of Genoa, on the other hand, the German children found themselves instead being forced apart, taken for slavery or sex or even simply killed. The few that made it to the Holy Land found themselves ignored, or sent away.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin was real.
Back in 1209, Two individuals were having a discussion that raised many interesting ideas. Their names: Ferrero Porcusiano and William Hugh. Both were Cainites whom have found an alliance together gave greater hope of survival in these tumultuous times. With the crusades raging, and the Inquisition searching the ruins for any Cainites who were still about, the two decided that the best way to survive was to leave the troubled lands and make their way home.
Ferrero Porcusiano was an Italian Toreador. William Hugh was a Setite.
Both devised an articulate plan as to how to find safe passage to their desired homelands, but knew as well that for it best to work they had to take separate trips. Carefully manipulating things for the next two years, the two prepared for a grand journey to leave the danger of the Inquisition behind as well as create a suitable herd for the months, if not years to come. They decided to fake the visions that would fuel children to take with them the journey home. And they knew that by doing so, they would go with the blessings of the church, the blindness of the inquisition and easy access to a suitable source for herd.
After much planning and careful coordination, the two went their separate ways, and on 1212, enacted their plan. Using magnificent and carefully planned exercises of Presence, the two inspired two children to a divine mania to begin a Crusade. And When the discussions were growing at earnest, both permitted the French contingent to use their ships for the journey.
Seeing more potential than originally realised, the two began to sell off children to the highest bidder, both to mortal and Cainite requirements. Ventrue blue bloods would demand specific children. Nosferatu would desire the sick and lame. Toreador elders would silently ask purchase for the beautiful ones. And although many did die of starvation and the like, most were sold for boons, blood and passage.
And in the end, Ferrero Porcusiano disappeared into the streets of Italy with a throng of impoverished German children. And William Hugh was home at Egypt, with his harem of young children at his beck and call.
But the Pied Piper of Hamelin was real.
Some say the Pied Piper of Hamelin was one of the Gentle Folk. Or the Wee folk as others called them.
They say he was displeased with the manner in which children were abandoned by the people in Germany and called upon them a huge plague of rats to punish them for their ignorance. For their blindness. And that when they begged him to turn back the curse, he visited the town of Hamelin to see if the people truly were penitent.
He called the rats back. They revealed their true selves.
In anger, the Pied Piper used his magics to lure the children away from their parents. Away from their money-grabbing hands and their selfish ways.
They say the Pied Piper opened a doorway on the side of the mountain. A door to a land everyone has visited but none have seen. A land where Dreams come true.
And left forever.
Others say the Pied Piper of Hamelin was actually an elder Cainite. Tremere. Salubri. Nosferatu. The clan changes with each tale. But the story remains the same.
The Piper was not happy that the children were being fooled by the Setite and the Toreador The Elder did not like the fact that these children were dying. Were being used. Were being manipulated.
They say it was not an ordinary storm that took away two ships of children. They say that it was not the crew's intent to appear upon the shores of Egypt. They say that the blame was given on slavery and death because none truly recall where the children went.
They say all they have left was the robe of an Italian fold discarded upon ashes in the streets of Italy. As well as a pillar of ash upon the ports leading to Egypt. And a tale of a similar sudden loss of children, somewhere in Germany, where a hideous Piper sung a song to lure the rats away.
The Pied Piper was real.
And all the rumors above are wrong.
Ferrero Porcusiano was never one of the Undead.
Neither was William Hugh.
It is said that at the Pass of St. Gothard, one can still sometimes see hundreds of ghostly images of tired, weary children marching off into the mist. At the shores of Genoa and Marsielle, it is said that the tired and despairing eyes of thousands of children can sometimes be seen in the shadows of the shore of the beach, as if eternally awaiting the day the seas would part.
The only memorial left of this army of infant martyrs is an old ruin on the island of San Pietro. It is the ruin of a church built by Gregory IX, on the spot where the little shipwrecked ones were buried. It was called the Church of the New Innocents, and for three centuries was a favorite shrine; finally it fell out of favor; the monks left the island, and when in 1737 a party of Christian captives, escaping from Africa, landed there they found no trace of human habitation excepting this old ruin." (Culture and Progress at Home, Scribners monthly, Volume 2, Issue 2)
"Veni Creator Spiritus" can sometimes still be heard in the village, sung by a thousand invisible soft voices.
And it is said that any child who hears the
song is driven to tears without ever knowing why.