Lucas the Redcap

Loukas Angelos ("Lucas"), [strike]Lone[/strike] Redcap, Exiled Prince

Age: 47 (30? he looks sort of ageless)

Decrepitude: 1 (0)

Characteristics: Int -2, Per 0, Pre +3, Com +1, Str 0, Stm +2, Dex +5, Qik 0 (Great Dexterity, Increased Characteristics)

Confidence: 2 (5) (from Heroic Personality)

Virtues and Flaws: Blood of Heroes; Lone Redcap > Redcap*; Invisible to Magic, Wealthy; Affinity with Concentration, Affinity with Legerdemain, Educated, Gift of Tongues, Great Dexterity (x2), Improved Characteristics (x2), Light Touch, Puissant Concentration, Puissant Legerdemain, Unaffected by The Gift, Unaging (free), Venus's Blessing, Well-Traveled (free); Curse of Venus, Enemies*, Proud; Heroic Personality, Illegitimate Lineage, Lesser Malediction (will never get the respect he craves, will be overlooked and forgotten in favor of others less deserving), Weakness (pretty women)

  • gained after Gauntlet

Reputations: Illegitimate 2 (House Mercere), Stole from the House 2 (House Mercere)

Personality Traits: Brash +5, Stylish +3, Misogynist +2

Abilities: Artes Liberales 2 (deciphering handwriting), Awareness 5 (casing a scene), Brawl 7 (grappling), Bows 2 (crossbow), Carouse 5 (games of chance), Charm 6 (seduction), Code of Hermes 1 (depriving members of the Order of their magical power), Concentration 9+2 (being invisible to magic), Constantinople Lore 2 (personalities), Cult of Mercury Lore 1 (how he might benefit from it), Etiquette 2 (nobility), Folk Ken 2 (men), Greater Alps Tribunal Lore 2 (personalities), Greek 5 (shorthand), Guile 7 (disguise), Iberian Tribunal Lore 2 (Hermetic investigations), Intrigue 2 (gossip), Latin 5 (academic usage), Legerdemain 9+2 (breaking and entering), Music 2 (wooing), Order of Hermes Lore 5 (wealth and power), Rhine Tribunal Lore 2 (personalities), Ride 2 (speed), Stealth 7 (breaking and entering), Survival 2 (mountains), Swim 1 (rivers)

Prince Loukas was born in 1183, the youngest son of Byzantine Emperor Isaac II's first wife Herina, a hedge witch and former Redcap who had tried to leave the Order to marry outside the House. Herina had inexplicably been struck with irresistible love for the young lord, and refused to serve the Order any longer, preferring instead to be with him. She gave him four children, two girls and two boys. In 1183 the Prima of Mercere finally proclaimed her Orbus and struck her from the rolls. At almost the same time, as she presented her husband with Loukas, newly-born, her husband declared he no longer loved her and wished to be free of her forever. Because of this, their mother bitterly cursed the young prince to forever remain a shadow in the eyes of God and his ancestors, as she had become, so that no one would remember his name and he would be constantly overlooked for others less deserving than he. But she also blessed him that he would always be loved, even when he did not desire it. Herina disappeared after Isaac's coronation and wedding, and left her voting sigil and several letters in Latin to her children, telling them of the Order of Hermes and urging them to leave Thebes, but only Loukas ever read them.

The letters said that the prince's royal blood and the blood of all of his siblings was mingled with the blood of the ancient gods in a strange magical birthing ceremony. She told how each of them possessed the essence of the god Hermes, just like the heroes of old. Neither Loukas nor his brothers and sisters ever gave that idea much credence, though they did joke about it amongst themselves. As an imperial prince of Constantinople, Loukas was generally treated like a demigod regardless. He did notice that his father's children by his second wife seemed to be somewhat less favored by fortune than they, and perhaps that comparison helped to give him his very high opinion of himself. However, he was rarely noticed at court or praised by his father, he was often ignored by his brother, and at times it was almost as if men looked right through him. His stubborn streak ensured that he got a fine education, despite the fact that his tutors often forgot he was present. And women, at least, fawned over him, to the point that it almost became embarrassing.

Constantinople prospered and thrived under their father's rule until 1195, when the emperor's brother Alexios overthrew Isaac and blinded him to solidify his position. Loukas and his brother Alexios were imprisoned in the palace, though Loukas had no trouble slipping from his cell at night and sneaking about the city in attempts to sabotage his uncle's rule. He managed to steal nearly the entirety of the imperial treasury, though he also accidentally started a fire that nearly burned down the city. He finally brokered a deal with two Pisan merchants in 1201 to smuggle him and his brother to their sister in Germany, who in the intervening years had been married to the new king, Philip. Together, they convinced Philip and his cousin Boniface, leader of the Fourth Crusade, to divert their knights to Constantinople instead of the Holy Land and depose their uncle. Loukas stayed behind with their sister, as surety that his brother would repay the debt this action incurred, but he was generally forgotten by his brother-in-law in light of other pressing matters, left free to wander the palace and wreak havoc on the hearts of noble ladies of the court.

Loukas soon made other acquaintances in the palace, including a visiting scholar named Horst of Fengheld and his daughter Penelope. What caught Loukas's attention was that the corpulent courtier wore a familiar symbol on his red cap, very like the one his mother had left behind. The prince sought them out and asked them about the Order of Hermes, and while Horst was vague and distant, his daughter was ebullient and very forthcoming. Loukas put it to her that he would like very much to speak to others in the Order, and that he would reward them handsomely for their trouble if they would come to him at the Holy Roman Emperor's court. Captivated, the young girl promised she would do whatever she could. From the looks her father gave him, though, Loukas was regretfully certain that she would not be able to visit him again.

Meanwhile, Alexios's counter-attack on Constantinople was successful in 1203, and Loukas's brother was crowned emperor that summer, though much of the city had been sacked and burned by the Crusaders. Over the course of the year, however, the situation deteriorated quickly, and enraged mobs seized and murdered any foreigner they could find. By 1204 they received no more letters, though through other channels they learned that Alexios had been rejected by the populace, set upon by his European allies, and finally captured and killed by one of his advisers. The Crusaders established a new feudal Latin Empire, and it seemed Loukas was no longer needed as hostage. There was nothing left for him in the East, and very little for him in the West, apart from entertaining his sister and staying out of his brother-in-law's way.

Opportunity found Loukas in 1205, however. An old crone of a woman, who introduced herself as Frau Botin, requested an audience of him. She said she had heard of his offer, and was willing to accept him as her student if he would pay her-- but that unless he agreed to serve as her apprentice, she could not tell him anything about the Order of Hermes, and no one else would either. She required an exorbitant amount of money, half of it immediately, but promised that what Loukas would learn from her would return to him a thousandfold of its value. He agreed, as he felt he had nothing better to do with his wealth. She was indeed a Redcap, one who made her living obtaining information and selling it to the highest bidder, and a thief and a blackmailer. Once she finished training her protege, however, she planned to give it all up and retire.

Frau Botin was officially a member of Rorschach covenant in Bavaria, part of the Greater Alps Tribunal, where she was disliked by all the other Redcaps but had a close friendship with Mary, one of the magi who lived there. For this reason she enjoyed a lot of freedom, and so often spent half the year in Germany and the Rhine Tribunal, where there were juicier pickings for gossip and secrets, and fewer Redcaps. The other half of the year she spent in the Alps. Ostensibly she traded vis between covenants in both Tribunals, but also carried news and messages. Loukas would give her contacts at court, she believed. For his part, Loukas was content to accompany her and learn all he could about the Order, and get closer to these magi who seemed even more wealthy and powerful than emperors and yet gave him no notice. The idea began to form, possibly from Frau Botin's influence, that these magi would be worthy recipients of his developing talents.

This is not to say that Loukas and Frau Botin did not have their share of disagreements. When Philip died, Loukas insisted that they move to Hohenstaufen Castle to be with his sister the widow, and Frau Botin refused. Loukas went anyway, declaring that their arrangement was terminated, but his sister died in childbirth later that year, and Frau Botin chose to say nothing about it when Loukas returned to her as if it never happened. Loukas was always looking for future opportunities, impertinently questioning magi and continually discussing the fall of Constantinople and the empire and plans to return despite her explicit instructions not to do so. He did not ingratiate himself with others of his House and refused to wear the cap, but he often made quite an impression on the magi (and magae) they visited. In particular, a magus named Pythos of Criamon, who lived at the Cave of Twisting Shadows, was struck by what he called a "family resemblance" in the apprentice Redcap, and surprised Loukas by telling him that much of what his mother had said about him having blood of the gods was true. Pythos, too, claimed to be descended from one of the gods, Apollo. The two of them had a very pleasant conversation, like two business associates... despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that Loukas had broken into his sanctum without setting off his wards.

For his Gauntlet, Frau Botin set Loukas a great task, what she called "the heist of the century." She required Loukas to break into the Mercere treasury at Harco and steal as much as he could carry. Loukas took his time, planning the caper for almost a year, and essentially succeeded. He was only able to make off with fifty pawns of vis, however he also got their entire mundane treasury. As Loukas was not yet a member of the Order, he could not be charged with depriving them of their magical power, and Frau Botin was able to claim that she had only required Loukas to steal the gold, not the vis. He had to give the vis back, but was officially declared a Redcap at the Greater Alps Tribunal of 1221. Needless to say, House Mercere was not pleased with either of them, but for some reason did not cast Loukas or his mater out of the House, though they are still considered pariahs, and many of the important people at Harco now consider them Enemies. Frau Botin retired soon after, and now lives comfortably somewhere in the Greater Alps.

After swearing his Oath, Loukas decided he had to go to another Tribunal where he was less well-known. He wished he could return to the East, as he has no place in the new empire and could actually be in danger if the new powers that be realize that he is the last hereditary emperor. Instead, at Frau Botin's advice, he found his way to Doissetep in the Provencal Tribunal, as it was the largest covenant in the Order that is also politically estranged from House Mercere. Coincidentally, his old friend Pythos happened to be stationed there as well, and when informed that Loukas was somewhat at loose ends, offered to hire him to assist with his current endeavors. This fell out rather well, as the Criamon magus was performing an official Quaesitorial investigation, so Loukas's service would fulfill his yearly obligations to the House. The exiled prince was most useful to the magus in gathering information, particularly from women, as he seemed able to speak any language like a native and they would tell him things they wouldn't tell their own family. His specialty (as Pythos knew firsthand), though, was breaking into the sancta of magi, or former magi.

By the time Pythos's investigations were concluded, Loukas had made a plan for the future. On his many visits to Doissetep, he had often met Mercuria, a maga of House Mercere, who seemed quite taken with him. They often discussed the notion his mother had planted that he was descended from Hermes, which seemed to impress and excite her. Eventually she revealed to him that she belonged to a cult that revered and encouraged such heroes, and invited him to join them. He agreed, on the condition that she would also sponsor him as a full Redcap, so that he would receive the same benefits as others in his House -- magic items, vis, and especially a Longevity Ritual. She agreed, and confided that she would be leaving soon to join a new covenant, and he was welcome to accompany her and serve as Chief Redcap in the Mercer House they would eventually create. When he told Pythos of his plans, the great magus hinted that he might also travel to Andorra to help rebuild the covenant.