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Dark History of the d'Ambreville Familyby Andrew Theisen
Since time immemorial, Sodaqua (Tsathoggua) has been slumbering deep beneath the land now known as Averoigne. (See here). Early pagans cavorted with inhuman minions of this dark being, creating powerful, long-lived part human servitors for the sleeping god... much as happens in many parts of the world (such as the port town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts.)
As time went on, and the land was conquered and settled- first by the Roman legions, later by the Franks, and missionaries converted the pagans to Christian beliefs, the worship of Tsathoggua was largely forgotten, and the bloodlines thinned. The dark god's servitors seemed in danger of extinction.
Such it was until the late 12th century, when Richard the Lionhearted and Philip II proclaimed a Holy Crusade. Among the many knights who answered the call was a young man from Averoigne named Edoard Amber. Not the most pious of Christians, Edoard nevertheless found himself compelled to join the Crusade when he began hearing voices telling him it was his mission in life. Convinced it was the Lord himself speaking to him, Edoard left his wife and children and headed to the east.
Along the way, Edoard met with many shady folk and came into contact with unheard of lore and even darker whisperings. All of his experiences culminated in his arrival in the eastern lands, where he came into contact with... something. Something that changed Edoard utterly and irrevocably. Something man was not meant to know.
For his service on the Crusade, Edoard was awarded a fief in the County of Averoigne- Ambreville- and all the privileges that go with nobility. Little did anyone know that this was all according to Tsathoggua's plans- for it was his voice that drove Edoard eastwards from his homeland, his voice that compelled Edoard on the path that would bring him knowledge of the ancient rites and dark magicks of the Great Old Ones.
Edoard contacted those few in Averoigne who recalled the old ways, and recruited new followers. Gradually, through arranged marriages, the old bloodlines were re-established, stronger than ever. Worship of the elder dark resumed, albeit under the guise of legitimate nobility and religion. For the worshippers of Tsathoggua were ever aware that they might be caught out and labelled as heretics- such as happened to the Cathars to the south of Averoigne in the 13th century.
During the Hundred Years' War, the name d'Ambreville came once more to the awareness of the monarchy of France. True, they came to the aid of the throne during those trying times- even losing the head of their family, Michel d'Ambreville, during the Battle of Poitiers. But there were also rumours that certain members of the family had had dealings with the Black Prince... not to mention the ever persistent tales of heresies practiced in the valley of Averoigne.
Eventually convinced that the rulers of Averoigne were heretics and traitors, King Charles V mobilised his armies and went to war with many of the southern rulers. Unable to stand against the forces of France, the d'Ambrevilles and their allies were certainly going to be eliminated- but for the save of the black sheep of the family, Etienne. A wizard of no small means, Etienne had discovered a way to transport the family to a far distant world, one where they would not be subject to persecution, and would be free to study magic however they wished. They agreed - some more reluctantly than others- and all uneasy that their safety and well being lay in the hands of Etienne.
Thus, in the year 728 AC on the Mystaran calendar, the d'Ambrevilles and a large retinue of exiled nobles and common servants alike arrived in the highlands of Braejr...
Comment by the Author
Basically, it stemmed from my interest in the Clark Ashton Smith short stories of Averoigne (and, by extension, the Cthulhu mythos), my love of the Chronicles of Amber series by Roger Zelazny, and this passage from module X2: Castle Amber:
(p.3) "... This family was noted for secretly practicing magic. In their search for power, the d'Ambrevilles began to study black magic, especially magic that dealt with certain dark elder gods whose worship was forbidden."
Bearing this in mind, my d'Ambrevilles took on a slightly more sinister and Machiavellian bent than those depicted in Gaz3 and later products. Etienne, as per his description in X2 and elsewhere, as well as his youngest son, Claude, are both sort of the "black sheep" of the family... or maybe the "white sheep".
That's basically it, history wise. I have other bits and pieces, a lot of which are (as seen above) tied into actual historical RW events and places. The family IMC is not terribly different from their descriptions in the established products- mostly because of their "eye opening" experiences in the Land of Gray Mists (timeless eternity and magically enforced madness can cause quite the re-evaluation of one's life, I'm told), and the elements of Tsathoggua worship aren't as strong as they once were (being so far distant can do that- although Outer Beings might be a bit more in the "general awareness" in New Averoigne than elsewhere on Mystara). But the old elements of Machiavellian plotting against one another remain, and there is a tendency to delve into the study of "that which is not known" heedless of the danger. Not to mention that the old breeding processes still go on- though the bloodlines are in danger of getting thinner once more, as there isn't that large a population left to selectively mate with... at least not without getting into inbreeding, and the family is mad enough as is... there is a definite and noticeable decline in the longevity of the average Averoignian nowadays.
I've also done some things such as thrown in a lot of "illegitimate" children, and tried to tie in all the various d'Ambrevilles out there. For instance, "Countess" d'Ambreville (See Focus in Freeport #15 at Greenronin's site- http://www.greenronin.com/freeportfocus.shtml) is the full sister to Michel and Marcel d'Ambreville. Dubricus d'Ambreville from Return to the Keep on the Borderlands is Charles and Isabelle's son, and Petit-Singe- unknown to all but a few members of the family- is actually Marcel d'Ambreville's illegitimate son by a member of the house staff.
May 7, 2004 1
(With thanks to Giulio Caroletti aka Iuliusscaevola, for keeping the lore on this for perpetuity).