Delphine d’Orléans

suspended_autumn
image by Grinch7 @DeviantArt

Character: Delphine d’Orléans
Clan: Salubri
Childe: Mason Land

“Evil is the name we give wounds we think we cannot heal, and so cut at it, spreading this sickness, rather than heal the fissure within. I cannot heal you. But you, you can heal yourself.” – Delphine d’Orléans, spoken to Marcel Durand, Toreador, regarding the matter of his Baali apostasy.

Quotes about Delphine: “Quite a rarity. Though I imagine it must be difficult to remain so utterly righteous in the wake of so much desolation. Given what she is, it’s a wonder she’s survived this long at all. However, I rather admire that indomitable spark she keeps veiled under that saccharine sally-do-right facade. She is a woman of Faith and that I can respect but better she had remained Kine and saw to the suffering of the mortal throng she is so concerned with. ” – Katerina De’Lavez, Lasombra.

“Ahh Delphine, Murderess of the Lady of New Orleans. You know, I didn’t take a liking to her at first. But she has a libertine soul beneath it all. After all, whether the soft croons of the sodomite, the shrieks of the coward or the blessed glow of the healed–we all take our pleasure from the herd.” Victor, Nosferatu and Bonafide Heathen.

Appearance: A beatifically serene face that seems as though painted by the Renaissance master Raphael with soft cerulean eyes. Her angular eyes give her, at times, a more severe countenance than the kindness flowing behind them, and her sinuous lips are eternal reminders of a more lurid past. She wears modest clothing in neutral colors and is rarely seen without a head scarf that hides the snaky tendrils of her dark hair and her third eye. She wears no adornments, save for some small article of faith, like a St. Christopher’s Medal, the patron saint of travelers.

The Ancient Healer: Delphine d’Orléans is perhaps one of the last Salubri, if not the last ancient Salubri. Though, few, if any, can say exactly how old she is, whispers say she may be as old as the Innconu itself and perhaps had even once peered into the third eye of Saulot, though such stories seem the things of myth and legend. Perhaps because of the resilience of her tremendous faith, she managed to resist the siren summoning of the Tremere who devoured the rest of the ancients. It is quite possible she also had protection or some assistance from another ancient clan now thought extinct, the Cappadocians, as the Tremere pursued the Salubri relentlessly.

Though seeming like she just came out of a dark ages convent, Delphine has been awake for more years than not and contended with the thorny challenges of this world while surprisingly managing to stay devout, healing those she can, and encouraging the faithful. Beyond healing, her legacy has been to encourage humanity and kindred to “do better” and some of the social progressions and quality of life advancements over history may have been helped along by her gentle hand. The few who may know she still exists claim that it was Delphine’s voice that Joan of Arc actually heard. Delphine is a tiny beacon of hope in an otherwise smothering darkness. But, in some ways, it is a fragile light.

The Struggle Is Real: Maintaining true faith and walking the path of a healer is not an easy one, especially with Caine’s blood in your veins. It is exhausting and takes constant vigilance, which almost always results in her spending some willpower just to get through any night, especially when around other kindred. Despite her spiritual attunement, there is still a nightly fight for her soul. Though it may be less visible in her than other Cainites, if the rock of her faith and humanity were to crumble, she might become the sickness she hopes to cure in the world.

It’s Not So Great to Feel Your Pain: Staying close to humanity, truly empathizing with people, feeling their wounds, carrying their burdens, has also meant exposure to their passions, violence, and the nastier parts of human existence, and she is not wholly aloof to these passions herself, which leave cracks in her soul where these temptations could fester, despite her own careful mediation, prayer, and vigilance. It is the price for continuing to help the world that you cannot ultimately be always above it or removed. You must live it, and this she accepts. and tries to emulate the life of Jesus.

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image by Andre Benge @AndreBenge

Reformed Sinner: Such passions are also difficult because they are a reflection of Delphine’s own past, involving extreme poverty that drove her to prostitution at a young age and a host of abuses, perversions, addictions, and vices. For some time, she didn’t even have a roof over her head and was forced to sell herself if she ever wanted a bed to sleep in. When the roof over her head finally came, it was packed with other women and their men, and more than once she was raped, beaten, and her hard-earned coin taken. All this while she was packed right in that room with other people who did nothing to stop it, the crimes happening just as easily as they did in the dark alleys she frequented. It was in one of those grimy alleys that she miscarried a child, nearly bleeding to death, after taking a draught to get rid of the baby, so she could continue her rough trade.

But there was something about Delphine’s face, the mixture of her full lips and strangely exotic almond-shaped eyes that men liked, and just by chance, that face hadn’t been wholly ruined yet. So more coin came, and she attracted some wealthier men who retained her services longer, one or two at last arranging lodgings for her so they could debase her there at their pleasure, sometimes making her part of a show for a small audience of acquaintances to enjoy. With this came a whole new level of wicked pleasures, better drugs, beautiful gowns, and a style of living she hadn’t known. She grew to thrive and enjoy even their most salacious requests, seeing it as a mark of success and insurance toward keeping this comparatively incredible style of living. Delphine even began suggesting new perversions, anticipating their needs, all the while they got more strange and decadent.

She kept their interest until the syphilis and other diseases began to ravage her. Then, she was unceremoniously kicked out of the place she had come to think of as her home right into the streets. And there she watched from the filth as another girl was taken inside to replace her. She could have easily died there, but for the charity of an unknown stranger, who collected her after she had passed out and had taken her to a festering sick house crowded with the anguishing poor slowly dying around her, overworked nuns attending them. She began to hallucinate and saw all manner of feverish visions as she was dying herself, culminating with the visit of an angel with black wings that hovered over her. When she awoke, she was completely healed, the sores closed, fever broken, the nuns thought it was a miracle. Delphine knew it was one.

Sister Delphine, the Living Saint: She devoted her life to becoming a nun herself and made it her mission to heal others as she had been healed, to give them the second chance she was given, and had a reputation for courageously walking among the plagued to heal them or ease their deaths. In her time, some began calling her the “Living Saint,” which made members of the church uneasy, given the rigorous beautification and canonical process to name saints. While her gift was admired by some, others viewed it with suspicion as witchcraft. Her name was stricken from records, and those that referred to her as the “Living Saint” were threatened to have their tongues cut out. And so her mortal life nearly ended on a pyre and not in an embrace. But all the same, her faith was strong enough to endure the embrace, and she unwaveringly believed in the Christian God above all others, finding other religions flawed paths to true divinity. However, in her vast travels, she spent time among those of misguided faiths in hopes that she could ultimately show them the way.

What’s in the Past: Delphine has come to terms with her long distant past, but always remembers what she was and, while her mercy is seemingly unending for others, she is not quite as kind when she considers what she’s done, no matter the centuries ago it has been. While this stern outlook can do damage, it also keeps her from placing herself too highly over everyone else, keeping her grounded.

A Crusade of Warrior Salubri: Though no one can say for certain, it’s possible Delphine embraced some Salurbi herself who ended up following the warrior’s path, Valeren, and joined the Sabbat, perhaps with the idea of joining some Crusade against evil with her as inspiration. If this is true, they almost certainly would have been slaughtered, and she would likely feel great responsibility and sorrow. If other healing Salubri still exist, who knew this secret, they may denounce her too for not giving these childer proper direction in the true way of Saulot.

A Failure by Salubri Standards: Salubri often view existence as a curse, and seek Golconda and the release of death upon obtaining enlightenment. Even without the Tremere hunt, it might be odd to see a Salubri as ancient as Delphine, given these impulses. Perhaps it is her own nightly struggles and refusal to separate herself from the worst and best of humanity that have kept her from reaching this enlightenment and end, or perhaps it is, as whispered, that once she had achieved Golconda and teetered on the brink of final death only to look back at humanity and see a greater need there and so denied the release of death and sacrificed the peace in her soul.

The Beast and Golconda: She will do almost anything not to frenzy because of her love of humanity and her own faith, spending all her willpower if needed to avoid harming others. Her high-level of humanity helps make it easier to resist frenzy than some kindred, along with the path she continues to follow to Golconda, which she has achieved in points of her long existence, although she was not able to maintain it until the end. Due to the trauma of nearly meeting a fiery death on a heretic’s pyre while mortal and seeing other innocents burn, for most of her existence, she has had greater difficulty resisting the beast.

The Order of the Venerable Dead: In the modern nights, Delphine’s routine of healing and guiding those she could while staying on the move across the globe to ever avoid discovery by the Tremere shifts when she partakes of a Vaulderie with a handful of other elder kindred with the purpose of defeating an immeasurable number of Baali in New York. During the course of their difficult battles with the Baali, she finds herself often at odds with the morality with her Brethren, but then a doctor does not go to where people are well to treat the sick. And so she forgives them, as she believes God would, while trying to encourage them to listen to their better angels. Along the way she forges deep relationships with each by virtue of blood and experience.

Heinricus von Verden, Ventrue: Delphine felt an immediate kinship with Heinricus who, below his cold and distant exterior, ultimately retained the faith of his mortal days when he was a Crusader. And she saw something in his leadership that reminded her of Prince Camilla in Rome. He in turn saw in her a trove of lost knowledge and a surprisingly gentle kindred both worth preserving. However, she was at odds with his strategy and pragmatism when it resulted in the loss of human lives, which was never more apparent than when the Order was surrounded in a rave at the cemetery by the Baali and their ghouls. Heinricus commanded those still human there to kill the others, resulting in the deaths of all, expect the Baali Lykenia. When Heinricus begins to question whether or not he is a Ventrue, Delphine helps him through this time, and after a bout of madness the two share, courtesy of his trauma deepening the mad blood Luthienne spread to them in the Vaulderie, they realize each were ready to stand up to Antedivulians themselves if necessary for the sake of the other. Later, after Delphine’s memories are torn from her as she’s cast out of the Order, it is Heinricus who carefully helps her put what was lost back together.

Marcel Durand, Toreador: From the moment Delphine was kind to Marcel in the church where the two shared the Vaulderie, the two seemed to hit it off and had a rapport that was often characterized by acceptance in the other.

Sphinx, Reformed Setite: Delphine and Sphinx often found each other at extreme odds, but surprisingly through their interaction, Sphinx ends up breaking from the vile worship of Set, returning to the more wholesome worship of Ra. In a surprising turn of events, the two end up going on a healing spree at local hospitals, cleansing mind, body, and spirit in New York. In a dramatic moment of sacrifice, Sphinx envelopes hundreds of Baali in the light of Ra, sacrificing himself, after tricking Lykenia, his former ghoul in ancient times, into believing he was joining her. Delphine and Marcel are untouched by the light, as their brother expended himself around them. Delphine is devastated by this loss, especially when it’s revealed later that each Baali the Order killed brought their master, Moloch, closer to awakening.

Blyte Kanker, the Nosferatu’s Obfuscated Tragedy: While still recovering from Sphinx’s death, Delphine is further torn apart by grief for Blyte, who had been missing for some time, but when he was discovered again, he was no more than ashes. Delphine and Marcel in particular are enraged when they discover a perpetual thorn in their side, the Lasombra Eustacia, seems to have inadvertently killed Blyte when he tries to reclaim the Amulet of Shadows which was stolen from their Malkavian sister, Luthienne. To compound matters, it is revealed that while Blyte was in the Abyss, he had accidentally read some corrupted orders which compelled him to try to kill Eustacia. This intense grief combined with Eustacia withholding information from everyone that could have averted a significant amount of tragedy makes Delphine’s blood boil for justice, which ultimately comes in the form of Marcel getting Luthienne to break Eustacia’s mind, pitting her into the insanity she has always feared.

The Dark Deception: In her wish to heal one of the Baali Founders, Moloch, and perhaps change the fate of his future childer, Delphine devours his heart with the intention of cleansing the awful sin of it and return it to him in the manner that only Salubri can. Moloch allows her to eat the heart, but he has tricked her. The heart was not his but his brother, Nergal’s, the 2nd Baali Founder. After she eats the heart, Nergal’s soul attacks hers, and in the battle she nearly succumbs to Nergal but her own determined faith combined with Heinricus’ risking the very foundation of his own mind to reach hers, turns the tide.

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image by Grinch7 @DeviantArt

 

The Empyrean: However, what comes to pass is something more than diablerie, instead it is her transformation from Salubri into Empryean, a new pure bloodline characterized by azure flame. She forgives Moloch and shares this transformation with him in a fiery kiss of blue and green flames so that he might still have a second chance. She shows up later, bathed in cerulean flames, and helps to heal Marcel and Domino of their Baali apostasy. She longs to reconcile her brethren with Moloch, but that falls apart quickly when she takes them to meet him. The situation escalates further when the demon Baal Haamon arrives and tries to collect on the payment of Moloch’s heart he’s owed. After a massive fight, Delphine reveals a sliver of the True Cross she has kept and lets Baal Haamon consume both she and Moloch as they both their bodies start to become pure Empyrean azure flames. Baal Hammon bellows and falls back to Hell, and a brazier in the ancient ruins of Carthage shifts from orange flames to blue flames which can’t be extinguished as they leave the collapsing ruin, leaving everyone uncertain of Delphine’s ultimate fate, who may be in the belly of Baal Hammon, or slumbering with Moloch beneath the ruins, or if what’s left of her spirit was inhabiting the stones there, or if she is simply dead and is finally worthy of the Grace she always desired with her God. But whatever else it might mean, the survivors are left with some sliver of hope for the future.