Birth and Apprenticeship
Vocis of Tremere was born near the village of Saint Cirq Lapopie in 1180, the fourth child of peasant farmers. He was noticed at a very young age by a magus from the nearby covenant of Clair de Lune, who convinced his parents that their strange child was best suited for the life of a magus. Vocis moved into Clair de Lune at the tender age of 5. He was fostered to an old serving woman and raised among the children of grogs. Most of his childhood was spent trying to overcome the social difficulties of his nascent Gift, with mixed results.
In his 10th year, Vocis drew the attention of Phineus of Tremere, a veteran artificer of the House. He began Vocis’s training in the hopes he would follow him into the artificers, but Vocis’s inability to use vis effectively led to a change in tactics. Phineus worked to Vocis’s strengths, grooming him for the signaler role and ensuring the young apprentice had ample resources to maximize his talents despite the covenant’s somewhat remote location.
In 1200, a new master carpenter took up residence in Clair de Lune. More importantly for Vocis, he brought along his lovely 16-year-old daughter Amelia. All of the young grogs and male servants made fools of themselves over the girl, with fistfights and other contests of manhood becoming a daily occurrence. Vocis knew he was doomed to lose such mundane challenges and his Gift would make direct seduction difficult, but he had two advantages on which to rely – his magical ability and his willingness to exploit it for all it was worth. He used every trick in his arsenal and several that weren’t – changing his appearance, changing her appearance, deepening his voice, ‘summoning’ songbirds and illusory sprites. His gained his first Warping point trying to create an illusory waterfall into the nearby river. Eventually Vocis’s efforts paid off and the couple wed on the spring solstice in 1201. The bride's ring was crafted by Vocis himself, with a magical stone that changes color at her whim.
Five years (and two children) later, Vocis completed his training and lost a spirited duel to his parens before the Tremere exarch of Provencal, proving his fitness for the title of Tremere magus.
Cycle 1: 1206-1212
Vocis’s first seven years post-Gauntlet were fairly quiet. Most of his time was spent on improving himself as a magus and a signaler. Though the Albigensian Crusade was wreaking havoc in the surrounding area, Phineus largely stayed out of it and Vocis followed his lead. Vocis did travel to Iberia in 1211 seeking a familiar, eventually finding and later bonding the falcon Celeste. While there, he met some of the magi involved in the Shadow War and resolved to join them in ‘the good fight’ as soon as possible. Unfortunately, he returned home to find his beloved Amelia had fallen severely ill and suffered a stroke, despite her youth. Vocis spent months at her bedside, meeting her every need and cursing himself for not focusing on the practical Arts of healing magic. For a brief time he considered abandoning his burgeoning magical career and focusing on healing, but Phineus was eventually able to convince him that his duty to House and Order must come first. Once Amelia recovered in 1212, Vocis volunteered for the Iberian campaign with her blessing.
Cycle 2: 1213 - 1220
[Please note that most details of Vocis's exploits in the Shadow Wars are left deliberately vague. No NPCs or locations are mentioned by name. It's entirely possible some of the PCs who participated in the wars encountered Vocis during that time, but I'll leave that to the troupe (or individual players) to decide.]
Vocis spent his first few years in the Shadow Wars behind the lines, coordinating the war effort and providing support where he could. His activities fell into three general areas: communicating with mundane soldiers either verbally or mentally, casting minor ‘prep’ spells on mundane soldiers, and spying on enemy fortifications.
Vocis used any spare time he could find during these years to prepare himself, both physically and magically, for more direct participation in the war effort. In 1218 the Order commanders placed Vocis in a small scout unit of elite grogs and he began to spend time behind the front lines. His unit won a handful of skirmishes, but the information they were able to provide was far more important. In late 1219, his unit was instructed to reconnoiter a series of Roman ruins around which disappearances and other ‘strange occurrences’ had been reported by the local populace. After external scrying failed to yield useful information, Vocis and his unit snuck into the ruins for direct reconnaissance. The ruins themselves were largely empty, but the unit found a series of tunnels that led them (almost literally) to the pits of Hell.
The creatures living in those tunnels may once have been men, but they had since been corrupted to the point of monstrosity. Vocis fought side-by-side with his men, using magic when he could, steel when he couldn’t. Something in the tunnels was impeding his ability to contact his superiors, but he pushed his unit on despite this. Eventually they found what could only be described as a nest of the creatures. Vocis and the unit’s officer discussed the matter, but before a decision could be reached the creatures burst into the tunnel and swarmed the unit. Vocis fought bravely until his wounds and fatigue caused him to lose control of a Pilum of Fire and he was forced into Twilight for the first time.
The Twilight itself was worse than the situation he left – a true glimpse of Hell itself. The creatures he was fighting and demons of the Pit branded him with hot irons while corrupted flames roared all around. Time seemed to stand still as the brands came down and the flames burned away his flesh. Eventually he returned to the tunnel that started it all, surrounded by a handful of injured soldiers and the stench of two dozen corpses.
Vocis’s men were able to get him back to the nearest camp, where he spent several weeks recovering from his physical and psychological injuries. His exploits were discussed extensively by his superiors, with most considering his actions courageous while others thought them irresponsible. Eventually the former group won the day and Vocis was granted the ranked of skilled magus. Vocis returned to Clair de Lune to find his first grandchild had been born in his absence.
Cycle 3: 1221-1229
Vocis had very little time to rest upon his return from Iberia. As one of a handful of skilled signalers outside Transylvania, he suddenly found his services in demand within his House. He was frequently pressed into service within Provencal, helping to protect Hermetic (or Tremere) interests from both sides of the ongoing Albigensian Crusade. This gave him first-hand exposure to the complexities of Hermetic politics, as the Roman covenants sought ways to profit from the chaos and the magi of Provencal (and to a lesser degree, Normandy) tried to minimize the damage without taking sides. Vocis’s usual responsibilities included investigating Cathar groups for overt infernal activity and leading mundane units in skirmishes with ‘foragers’ from both sides. The low point involved the horrific siege of Toulouse, in which Vocis joined several other magi in attempting to reduce the extensive collateral damage to the surrounding area. The mission was eventually abandoned in order to avoid direct conflict with the crusading forces.
One minor social encounter was of particular importance. In 1225, Vocis and two grogs (Fausto and Liberto, two Spaniards who followed Vocis from Iberia) were attacked by a group of ‘bandits’ in the eastern Pyrenees. While they were able to disperse the attackers, Liberto took an arrow to the chest and was clinging to life. Vocis led his band to the nearby covenant of Windgraven to seek sanctuary and medical attention for Liberto. The three spent a month there, during which time Vocis befriended the Tremere physician Francisco and his unusual daughter Micaela. Francisco was having difficulty related to his daughter, but Vocis’s experience as a family man helped him win the girl over and help Francisco deal with her. The two magi maintained a correspondence and Vocis visited Windgraven frequently, with Micaela coming to refer to him as her uncle.
In 1228, with the crusade winding down as the French Queen Regent exerted her will on the last remaining Cathar strongholds, Vocis was able to step away from the soldier’s life and begin searching for an apprentice. After two fruitless seasons of chasing rumors, he returned home to discover Micaela had arrived several days before asking for him. Apparently her father had opened her Arts in preparation for her apprenticeship, but died in a terrible necromantic accident shortly thereafter. His spirit remained, guiding her to Uncle Vocis to complete her training. Two years later she has become his apprentice and part of his extended family, though most of the family is still adjusting to her social issues.