Art by Doug Alexander
Gratiano de Veronese
|“||“I changed it! I turned a handful of whining children into something that could pull Antediluvians off their thrones! Me! Every vampire there ever was marched to the founders' beat all the way back to the Flood. I decided to do something else, and did it. Without me there'd be no Sabbat. And without the Sabbat there'd be no Camarilla. The entire face of Cainite society is what it is because of me."||”|
|— Gratiano de Veronese|
Gratiano was born into Italian nobility, the Veronese family. He had come to know all the advantages of wielding power, which came useful in vampiric politics. After his Embrace, Gratiano delighted in the routine use of Abyss mysticism and desired immediate respect, hating the thought that high status would take centuries to earn. He became jealous of his vampiric brother, Montano, who was highly popular in the Lasombra Court, due mostly by his military victories.
In the 15th century, when the Anarchs made appeals to Gratiano, he was very tempted. It was not until he learned that they could break his blood bond that he was compelled to join their cause. They held a secret midnight ritual which involved twelve anarchs to help break Gratiano's bond with his sire. Released from his bond, Gratiano was now in a position to plan a sinister plot to bring down [Lasombra].
In 1413, he aligned with the Assamites to setup an anarch assault on his own castle, the Castle of Shadows, in Sicily, where [Lasombra] was in torpor. Gratiano's well devised plan allowed the Anarchs to succeed in over-running the Lasombra Clan's High Court. Most of the elders were killed and anyone left was converted. Gratiano and his men infiltrated the Antediluvian's tomb and destroyed whatever was there. It is unclear whether or not he committed diablerie on his master, as there are no eyewitnesses around.
Later Gratiano convened the Amici Noctis ("Friends of the Night") and presented them with the deed already done. They could condemn him. Indeed, he dared them to do so, taunting them that if they did not stop him now, he would remake the clan into something altogether new. The Friends listened and stepped aside. Some Friends chose to join with Gratiano's revolt. Others kept quiet and let events unfold. The great rebel announced that unlike Augustus Giovanni, he would not claim the status of clan founder. He was, he said, quite content being a member of clan Lasombra, now that the monster which once defined the clan was gone. Now every member of the clan could decide for himself what the lineage meant and act accordingly. No single will would thereafter run the clan. Gratiano explicitly rejected the role and "suggested" that the Friends of the Night not anoint a successor. Montano frantically campaigned against this step, but to no avail. He and a handful of his supporters became a roving clan-in-exile and were dubbed by some unknown wit among the Friends as an "anti-tribe."
Conspiracy theorists often wonder why someone as potent as Gratiano would settle for the rank of Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, and a footloose existence (although he admits one place does not hold his attention for long, considering that when he had seen all of what he could do with the area's Lasombra, he would be on his way somewhere else).
Gratiano de Veronese seldom stood out in a fashionable crowd, even halfway around the world from his home. In the centuries since he drew his last breath, aristocracies had intermingled... until he unleashed his powers, he was just one more short man with long brown hair and wearing this season's second most expensive suit from Yves St. Laurent. He walked confidently and (this was the only unusual touch) quite conspicuously turned to look at his fellow pedestrians. He wore a flashy silver suit with metallic threads in the seams. He also wore a broad smile.