The alternative history of the Assamite clan that is presented below was originally written by Clayton Oliver for inclusion in Clanbook: Assamite revised. However this chapter didn't make it to the final print. It is undeveloped and unedited, and as such not "official". Nonetheless it's an interesting read. Enjoy.
Many Path of Blood adherents, including ur-Shulgi and the members of the Web of Knives, preach a wholly divergent tale that casts not only the other Antediluvians but Caine and the Second Generation as the villains. According to this story, Haqim was never Embraced; rather, he deliberately made himself into a vampire in order to combat Caine:
Thousands of years ago, a great city stood in what the mortals now call the Fertile Crescent. This city's name was En'esh - "Enoch," to the Cainites. The king of En'esh, a wise and just man, was named Khe-duk. His queen, beautiful and noble, was Liada. As was the city's tradition, the eldest prince had no name but that of his city, En'esh, in order to remind him of the duty to his people for which he was being groomed. And the king's spear and shield, the lord of the armies of En'esh, the most trusted advisor and closest confidant of the royal family, was a man named Haqim.
One night, as Haqim and En'esh were inspecting the guards on duty, a traveler approached the western gates of the city. He hailed the gates, asking the guards to grant him entrance. Despite the law of the city, which required the gates to remain barred through the night as a defense against bandits, the troops opened the gate and allowed the traveler entrance. Haqim was outraged at this gross breach of discipline and would have flown into a rage, but En'esh stayed his hand. "He is one man, alone and unarmed," the prince said, "and the guards obviously saw this and allowed him entry out of charity. Are we so poor a people that we cannot extend trust to harmless vagabonds? Duty must be tempered with compassion; you yourself taught me that." Saying so, the prince approached the traveler and bade him introduce himself.
The stranger bowed to the prince. "My name is Khayyin," he said, "and I have traveled the wastes for weeks in search of the city whose name I heard spoken in distant lands. The greatest city in the world, they called it, and I see that they spoke truth." He continued in this vein for some minutes, lavishing praises upon the city En'esh and the family of the prince En'esh.
The prince was entranced by this glib-tongued traveler and said to Haqim, "Surely one so wise and courtly as this Khayyin must be a noble in disguise. Perhaps he is an exile, expelled from his homeland by some war or coup - or perhaps he has come to us in this guise to seek alliance with En'esh. We must treat him with the respect that he surely deserves." Saying this, the prince bowed to Khayyin and bade him stay in the palace during his time in the city.
Haqim said nothing, for it was not his place to question a member of the royal family - at least, not in public. But his eyes were keen, and his ears were sharp, and his instincts were strong, and he saw the secret smile that flickered behind Khayyin's face when the prince issued his invitation.
Before dawn the next morning, Haqim requested a private audience with the king and queen, thinking to alert them to the viper their son had clutched to his heart. But as he entered the throne room, he saw that he had not struck swiftly enough, for seated beside the king, in the place reserved for visiting nobility, was the traveler Khayyin.
Haqim knew better than to speak out against Khayyin then - he was no coward, and feared no man's wrath for insults real or imagined, but he held to propriety. Quickly, he gathered his thoughts and improvised - telling no lie, as his honor required, but only reporting that part of the truth which would not cause conflict. "My liege," he said to the king, "I see that my audience is unnecessary, for you have already met the man whose entrance to the city I sought to report to you. I came here thinking to forewarn you of the presence of a visiting noble in En'esh, but obviously you have already made his acquaintance. With your leave, I will return to my duties."
The king nodded and bade Haqim return to his
soldiers. But Haqim saw the serpent's smile in Khayyin's eyes again, and he
knew that the visitor held no illusions about Haqim's true purpose in
requesting audience with the king.
Days became weeks, and weeks became months, and the season turned from planting time to harvest time, and still Khayyin stayed within the palace. Haqim often saw him in the evenings when the general went to court. Sometimes, he was playing stones with the king and his other advisors; sometimes, reciting poetry to the queen and her ladies; all too often, keeping company with the prince, whispering advice and observations into the young man's ear. And whenever Khayyin saw Haqim, the visitor smiled his hidden smile, as if daring Haqim to strike at him.
The general was unsettled, for he was charged with the defense of the city, yet he was powerless to strike at the single greatest threat to En'esh. His frustration wore on his temper, and his face became lined and gray, and the soldiers whispered that their general was troubled. This troubled them in turn, for they loved their leader in the way that only men who have shared the terror of the battlefield can love, and not a man among them would not have gladly given his life for Haqim. They plotted and schemed, in their own loyal way, and gradually they reached a decision.
One afternoon, as the lord of the armies watched his soldiers casting their spears against targets of straw, a small band of his lieutenants approached him. These were his most trusted subordinates, men who had fought at his side for their entire adult lives, and there were no barriers between them. Their faces were grim, as if they were reporting the collapse of the army's flank on the battlefield, and Haqim dreaded to hear their words - yet he could not turn them away.
"We have noticed," said one of the soldiers, "that you are not the same man that you were in days of old, when you led us against the tribes and nations that surround the lands of En'esh. Some of the troops think that garrison life disagrees with you, that you fear stagnation and old age and the inactivity of this year's peace. Yet we know you too well, and we know you are as weary as we ourselves are of bloodshed."
"And we know the true cause of your discontent," added a second soldier, "for your soul was not darkened thus before this visitor Khayyin replaced you as the most favored advisor of the royal family. Yet you are too noble a man to fall prey to jealousy, so we know you must think that this man intends to do harm to our rulers."
"And this troubles us, too," a third soldier put in, "for this Khayyin is a most unusual man. The soldiers who take guard duty in the palace return with strange tales of him - no so much what he has done as what he has not done. We have dozens of tablets full of the guard commanders' reports on Khayyin's movements, and in not one of them was his presence at a single banquet recorded. Nor have any of our soldiers ever reported seeing him during the day. What manner of man is this, that does not eat and does not embrace the life-giving sun?"
Haqim sighed heavily. "You are right. I do not trust Khayyin, for he shows us a face that tells us nothing of the man behind it. He came to this city in the dead of night, with naught but the rags he called clothes, but now he is exalted like a prince. His honeyed words charm all those who hear him speak, for he always seems to know more than he should about what will catch the heart of any man. And I, too, have seen these things of which you tell me. I have spoken to the wise women, and I have consulted the oracles and the seers, and I fear that this Khayyin is no man at all, but a demon sent from the lands to the east to bring ruin on En'esh."
At this, the soldiers turned pale, for they all knew the stories of the demons of the east, the servants of the strange gods who held sway over men's souls in those dark lands. But Haqim was quick to reassure them. "Take heart," said he, "for demons can die, too. Do you not remember the tales of demon-slayers, of heroes, of hunters of all the things that would prey upon men? Now we must become hunters, for the sake of our city and our families, and we will stalk our prey in all the dark places it would take as its own. Attend; here is how we shall begin our hunt."
Haqim and his soldiers conferred all through that day and long into the night, weaving the web in which they would entrap Khayyin. No man of arms of En'esh would approach him without a comrade by his side, and the outlander would never find a pair of soldiers farther away than the nearest corner. Haqim's most trusted troops would dog his every move and sound the alarm at the first sight or sound of foul play. The reason for this scrutiny, should any questions arise, would be the protection of Khayyin - for surely a man who had risen through the court of En'esh as quickly as he must have gained many enemies, and sooner or later one of them must strike at him lest he become too great a threat to their own power.
The next night, Haqim was in his quarters in the palace, examining maps with two of his lieutenants, when one of the soldiers assigned to watch Khayyin burst into the room. Out of breath and shaking with terror, he gasped out that Khayyin was attacking Prince En'esh. Haqim took up his spear and raced toward the prince's chambers, his lieutenants and their troops close at his heels. In a matter of moments, they arrived to find those doors closed and barred, the remaining guard hammering at them with his fists.
The assembled troops seized a nearby statue and prepared to batter down the doors - but as they tensed to strike, the doors swung open to reveal En'esh. "What is this alarm?" the prince cried out. "Why do you seek to invade my private chambers?"
Haqim strode to the forefront of the group and replied, "my prince, the guards reported the sounds of a struggle within, and I feared that some assassin had come upon you. Though all here know of your prowess with spear and bow, duty commanded that we attempt to intervene, lest you be overwhelmed by sheer numbers or struck down from ambush."
The prince nodded sharply. "You thought aright, but I fear your response were slower than that of my friend Khayyin, who dispatched the attacker nearly before he could draw his blade." He gestured into his suite. Surely enough, the outlander appeared then, dragging behind him the corpse of a palace servant. He said nothing, merely tossed the body at Haqim's feet and smiled his hidden smile before turning away.
The guards turned away, muttering darkly among themselves. Haqim heard this, but said nothing to quell it, for he could not find it in his heart to reprimand his loyal troops for giving voice to thoughts that he shared. And another thing stayed his tongue, too; for Haqim alone had seen the prince's pallor, the faint, hastily-removed stains of blood upon his clothing, the distant look in the young man's eyes. And a fear coiled within Haqim's breast that the demon Khayyin had made En'esh one of his kind.
Haqim gathered his lieutenants again, in quiet counsel, and told them of his fears. They did not want to believe, at first, but their leader was sure of himself, and they were not ones to question him. They recognized the iron mask his face had become, the mask he only wore on the battlefield when he had taken his enemy's measure, and they knew that the time to strike had come.
Haqim gathered a score of his strongest spears to him and ordered his lieutenants to take the army of En'esh and secure the palace grounds, allowing no man leave nor entry until he returned with the head of Khayyin. They grumbled, for it was not their way to leave their leader to face danger alone, but they obeyed. Then Haqim and his soldiers entered the palace again.
The lord of the armies knew that it would not be enough to simply strike down Khayyin like a dog. The outlander must be exposed for his true self before the court of En'esh. And so Haqim made his way to the throne room - only to find it empty.
Empty, save for King Khe-duk, sitting on his throne - quietly weeping over the limp body of his youngest daughter, cradled in his lap. And then he raised his face and met Haqim's gaze through eyes that streamed tears of blood, and Haqim knew his duty.
The Beast that rode the king's heart reared its head and growled its rage through bared fangs. And then it spoke to Haqim: "There is no place for you here, war-leader. Return to the village in which you were born, forget this city; take up the plow for the spear; and we will be merciful and spare your fleeting life."
Haqim shook his head. "I swore an oath," he said, "and I cannot forsake it."
The king-demon laughed. "If you fear that the gods will turn upon you for breaking your oath, I release you from it."
"You cannot," Haqim said, "for my oath is not to you. It is to the city of En'esh - and it is the city that I now protect from what its king has become." Fast as a striking leopard, he thrust his spear through the king's left eye and shattered his skull like a melon.
With a howl of fury, the creature that had once been Queen Liada leaped at Haqim from behind the thrones, knocking him to the floor. The soldiers rushed forward to rescue their leader, but the combatants struggled so fiercely that they could not use their spears for fear of piercing Haqim. Yet their aid was unneeded; for Haqim gained the upper hand and, drawing his knife, struck the queen's head from her shoulders in a single blow.
"Now," spoke Haqim, regaining his feet and recovering his spear, "we will deal with the thing that brought this doom to En'esh." So saying, he led his soldiers to the doors of the prince's chambers. He did not ask for entry this time, but knocked the door from its hinges with a single blow of his heel, leaping into the darkened room before the massive panel had even struck the floor.
A howling, shrieking thing rushed at Haqim, all slavering fangs and naked talons. The general turned and braced his spear, which sank deep into the creature's breast. As the thing fell back, the light from the open door revealed that it had once been Prince En'esh.
Then a staggering blow struck Haqim from behind, and he fell to his knees, dazed. Dimly, he heard the sound of fighting, as if from a great distance. And when he cleared his head and arose, he beheld the rent and scattered bodies of his soldiers, and heard the footsteps of a fleeing man receding down the corridor. The body of En'esh was nowhere to be seen.
Haqim gave chase, for he knew that Khayyin was the one who had struck him down. The din of battle outside the palace told him he must hurry. He raced down the steps and through the carnage that soaked the palace gardens with blood, snatching up a spear and a handful of javelins from his fallen troops. In the distance, he saw the fleeing form of Khayyin with the body of Prince En'esh across his shoulders. Haqim halted and cast his first javelin, taking the demon through the knee, and Khayyin fell.
Before the outlander could stand again, Haqim was on him, striking again and again with his great spear. Yet Khayyin did not die, despite his grievous wounds. With one hand, he cast Haqim aside like a pebble. And then, as the lord of the armies watched in horror, the demon's rage took him and his blood boiled. With a single stamp of his foot, Khayyin shook the ground, and the buildings of En'esh toppled. With a mighty howl, he breathed out a firestorm and scorched the city's fields. He spread his arms wide and drew in breath, and the blood of the people of En'esh flowed into him like a river.
"Enough!" cried out Haqim. "I will end this now!" He rushed at Khayyin, spear raised high to strike at the demon's heart. But Khayyin grasped Haqim by the throat and shook him like a dog.
"Attend and hear, presumptuous creature," the demon hissed. "I am the scion of a line older than you can imagine. My god cursed me, yet I found older powers than him and made their strength mine. I would have made this city the heart of an empire of the night to last ten thousand years, and your rulers would have lived forever had you not interfered. Yet now your city lies in ruins, for you thought to oppose me. Remember this, in your final moments: you have failed, and I will begin this work again elsewhere, for the strength of a mortal is nothing against that of my blood." And he sank his fangs into Haqim's throat and drained him of his life's blood. Then Khayyin cast the general into the ruins of the palace and fled into the night, carrying the limp form of Prince En'esh.
Haqim's few surviving soldiers gathered around the
broken body of their leader. Haqim still breathed, but his life was ebbing
quickly. He beckoned his three remaining lieutenants closer. As they knelt
beside him he whispered to them:
The soldiers lifted Haqim up and carried him to the throne room, where the bodies of the king and queen lay where they fell. Haqim knelt before them and whispered a blessing upon their souls, for they had been good and just rulers before Khayyin cursed them. Then he opened his wrists with the sharp edges of the king's crown and, as his life flowed away, he lowered his hands to the pool of blood in which he knelt and drank deep of the water of eternal unlife. When Haqim arose and looked upon his soldiers again, he was no longer mortal.
Then Haqim gathered his soldiers and the last citizens of En'esh and led them from the ruins of the city. They traveled into the mountains to the southeast, and it was there that they made their homes. As they traveled, Haqim wrestled with the taint that he had taken into himself, but the strength of his soul was such that the evil of Khayyin, twice removed, was no match for Haqim's will. Eventually, he mastered it and began to learn the power of the Blood. And when he was strong in the Blood, he raised up the fortress Alamut and his people settled in the valleys beneath the Mountain. And then Haqim began to hunt Khayyin and the gods-forsaken brood that the demon created.
In time, Haqim's most loyal lieutenant approached him and asked to be given the Blood, that he might hunt at his lord's side. Haqim studied the man's soul carefully, for he knew well the dangers that lurked in the Blood, but the man's soul was strong. And so the first Child of Haqim strode out from Alamut that night to hunt at the Ancestor's side.
In time, others came to Alamut, and Haqim gave the strongest and most worthy among them the gift and curse of immortality as well. Those whose spirits needed guidance became lesser servants until such time as they gained in strength. And the Children of Haqim learned well how to hunt the Khayyinin, and how to deceive them, and how to drink the Khayyinin's heart's blood in order to gain their power and remove their evil from the world.
And down through the ages, this is what we have become. Our skins grow black with the accumulated evil we have absorbed from the Khayyinin, but this outward blackening shows that our souls are not poisoned inwardly. We are tripartite now, the marvel of geometry, the least number of legs that can stand alone: viziers, to tend to the mortals; sorcerers, to ward us and our charges from the Khayyinin's masters; and warriors, to strike at the rot that has become too great for them to merely judge and punish selectively.
The blood of demons flows in our veins, but it is also the blood of the first nobility to walk the Earth, and it is the blood of Haqim. Those latter legacies give us the strength to shrug off the poison of the gods-forsaken. We are the Children of Haqim: his inheritors, his loyal soldiers, his spears and his hunting leopards.
And we will not fail him.
Interestingly enough, there is some independent support for this tale. Archaeological excavations conducted by a British expedition in 1931-33 indicate that a city existed approximately eleven millennia ago in the area in which legend places En'esh. The ruins do appear to have been destroyed in a localized earthquake and the subsequent fire. The epicenter of the quake was in the approximate location of the palace, judging from the directions in which the walls of other buildings fell.
The few scattered tales of Enoch, popularly held to be the first member of the Second Generation, do indicate that he was of royal blood (as such things were reckoned so long ago). One tale does indicate that he held a particular grudge against Haqim for an incident immediately before or after his Embrace.
One tale passed down by Nosferatu oral historians names Enoch as the youngest scion of the "First Brood." According to this story, Enoch's was one of a trio of Embraces that Caine performed around the same time. Of these three, Enoch was the only survivor; the other two were destroyed by an unspecified "hunter of demons." Zillah and Irad, the other two traditional members of the Second Generation, came some time later.
Contrary to the claims of some ill-attentive clan members, this story does not depict Haqim as a member of the Second Generation. His self-given proxy Embrace from the blood of one of Caine's childer was not an act of diablerie, and this would place him at the Third Generation.
Those who believe this story use its allusions
to Caine as a "demon from the east" to support the Children's
millennia-long grudge against the Baali. These individuals believe that the
Baali are the truest children of Caine, as they are closest to the unholy
root of the first vampire's powers. Some hold that Caine sired one or more
members of the Second Generation whose names are now lost; these, in turn,
sired one or more members of the Third Generation, and these lost ancients
and their descendants collectively form the Baali clan. The distinct lack of
one cohesive story of Third Generation origin among the Baali themselves (at
least, those who the Children have managed to interrogate over the
centuries) can be taken as further support for these claims.
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