Featured Character: Marcel Durand

Character: Marcel
Clan: Toreador

Quote about Marcel: “Of all his cons, the worst by far is the one done to his heart.” – Delphine d’Orléans, Salubri.

Bio: Marcel was born a precocious commoner in Orleans in 1734. While intelligent, he grew up poor and got in with a bad crowd enjoying drinking, gambling and whores. To provide for his lifestyle, he turned to cons. His jobs were small at first but eventually he found himself on the run from a noble with no sense of humor about some ”priceless” Roman artifacts which turned out to be fakes. Running for his life, he joined the army and fought in the Seven Years’ War. While he took well to being a fighter and army life allowed for him to take part in his favorite vices, he still had a bit of a problem with authority. His back is still scarred from the many floggings he received for disobeying orders, and if not for his silver tongue and all its myriad uses, he would have surely been shot for insubordination. He spoke often with the army chaplain, trading stories of bawdy misadventures for training in Latin and etiquette. The war did not end well, and when a cannonball took the old priest, Marcel deserted his post.

He went into hiding in Paris, plying his coins from the naive and unwary when he heard that a Duchess was seeking an eligible husband. He used the last of his ill-gotten gains on fine clothes and books that he might play the true courtier. He send florid letters to the Duchess boasting of his vineyards in the country side and his family’s illustrious name (pity, their last son was actually killed in the battle he fled). After a few weeks, he was contacted and informed he could meet the Duchess and her father at a grand ball at their estate. Throwing caution to the wind, he put on his finest garments and prepared to seduce his way into the aristocracy.

And so he began to court the Duchess and sweet talked her ever-doting father. In his elation at his great fortune, he never even stopped to ask why she would only see him at night. And so the hunter became the quarry and Marcel the Toreador was born. The Duchess was a cruel mistress and enjoyed playing games with Marcel and her retinue of fawning mortals. Truly powerless before his mistress and unable to enjoy the taste of wine or the touch of woman, Marcel’s bitterness grew. One night, after a particularly cruel joke at Marcel’s expense in front of her favorite ghouls, Marcel finally let go to the beast. He diablerized her there and ran into the night. As he hid beneath the streets of the city, he heard marching and rage. Surely, the powerful Toreador of Paris had set their minions upon him!

Marcel was always lucky and providence had come through again. The peasants had risen up in revolt that very night and began storming through city. The rich holed up in the manses and none even noticed the Duchess’ disappearance before the revolutionaries set upon the nobles and took them to the dreaded Bastille. As he learned from the Nosferatu, a few valuables lighter after a game of chance, a fierce band of Brujah Anarchs had taken up with the revolution and killed high-blooded kindred where they slept. Prince Villon declared a blood hunt on the Anarchs and not even diablerie was forbidden. The Anarchs were strong, however, and killed many of the Prince’s remaining minions.

As the years wore on, Marcel continued in hiding. Order came to France as the ”revolution” was spread to Europe by Napoleon. One quiet evening in the countryside, Marcel heard a great commotion. He feared the chapel of Society of Leopold hunters nearby were preparing to attack. He had hid here in hopes that no other kindred would venture too near them. He crept up the hillside to see a gory melee that put the battles of his mortal years to shame. Hoping to free the resources of the church for ”the people,” the Brujah renegades has rushed unaware into the Society of Leopold’s gathering.

The Anarchs were slain but only a few battered and bleeding hunters remained. Marcel dispatched them quickly and gathered the Brujah remains. He presented them to Prince Villon’s court the next night. He enraptured his audience with the grand tale of how the Brujah had slain his sire when he was but a fledgling. How he swore to avenge his love and after many years tracked down the creatures and challenged the lot armed with only a rapier. He destroyed them all single-handedly, powered beyond his years by the love for his lost sire. It was in the battle with the leader, one-on-one, where he nearly met his final death! But as the creature crushed his bones, his sire’s voice rang out from beyond the grave ”you must feed my love!” And so he sank in his fangs, fighting the stronger creature the only way he could and, unable to stop, had taken the monster’s soul as well as its body, for this is why he had the black marks in his aura. The crowd cheered, and Marcel was greeted as a conquering hero, finally bringing order back to Prince Villon’s domain. Some may have been skeptical, but the Tremere verified the Brujah’s remains and the menace was defeated.

Over the next century, Marcel traveled charming courts across the continent. When his schemes were brought to light, he would return to Paris with ravishing stories for the court. But all things must end. And so, Marcel’s enemies in the court began to investigate his past and follow his comings and goings. Upon hearing that some had learned his heritage was not a noble as he had led on, he decided it was time to disappear again before more secrets were unearthed.

He took a ship to the New World, settling first in New Orleans. He took the revels in wild abandon and traded stories and new debaucheries with captivated neonates. It was strange, this new world. He was an ”accomplished” Ancilla in Paris but to these American kindred, he was an elder in his own right. He took to the games of the elders he had seen back home, taking influence in saloons, high society establishments, and even dabbled in politics. He built up an impressive fortune over the years, but grew bored with his success and a deep melancholy overcame him.

Then came an offer he hadn’t expected. The Camarilla, long closing in on itself, had decided to take New York City. He jumped into the fray with glee and when the ashes settled, began anew with his fortune in his strange new city.

Character: True to his conman roots, Marcel is a deeply pragmatic kindred. He plans and schemes with the best of them and treats his plans with the singular focus other Toreador apply to the sculptures, knitting, shit painting or whatever the fuck those pansies do. But as the melancholy of age overtakes him, he fights it more and more with hedonism and forced levity. He jokes and seduces with every word he can, raising the spirits of those around them or at least provoking some surprise in the dead eyes of his fellow kindred. For if he were to stop, he would have to face that despair in his own dead heart. And what kind of unlife would that be?

Since sharing the vaudlerie with Luthienne, his penchant for gambling and risk-taking has grown. No longer a simple joy to stimulate his dead senses, the risk has become a compulsion.

Relationships: Marcel maintains cordial or competitive relationships with his clan mates in the city but hasn’t really been close to anyone in a long time. The games of the dead leave no room for friendship or even empathy. The one exception: in the church when the Baali’s thunderous drums deafened him, Delphine showed him kindness. Something he hasn’t seen in centuries. Her warmth showed him how cold he has become. He is quite protective of her now, especially after being forced to hurt her by the abyssal creatures. What shocked him most is that he can still feel shame. The idealism of this relationship, of trying to see some of the humanity Delphine sees in him has already started to collide with his deep pragmatism and selfish nature. He loves feeling closeness and responsibility for another for maybe the first time. He’s also very afraid her idealism will get them all killed. And when the chips are down, he’s always looked out for number one. At least so far.