By Aristotle deLaurent, Beckett, et al.
The Book of Nod is not designed to be the definitive book on the nature of vampires and their founder, Caine. There are no game mechanics within. The reason behind this is that The Book of Nod is meant to be 100 percent setting material. Ideally, Storytellers will use The Book of Nod as a prop in either their Masquerade Mind's Eye Theatre game or their Vampire:The Masquerade chronicles. They may also use it to seed their games with an authentic culture: the culture of the Antediluvians which filters down from Caine himself. Want to make an EIder seem ancient and ultra-conservative? Have him quote from the Chronicle of Shadows. Want to give players the sense that they are close to the Antediluvians? Have them find a tablet with a fragment of the Chronicle of Caine on it. Want to scare them with threats of Gehenna? Have a Malkavian quote the Chronicle of Secrets to them.
I cannot tell you the naked fear I feel, putting down these words for once and for all. Perhaps I will regret them. Perhaps they will never see print. Yet, it is my nature to report this. It is, as they say, in the blood. My Sire, and his Sire before him followed this great and glorius work. Indeed, our very nature has been shaped by this quest; we are unable to stop searching for knowledge.
We are of the Mnemosyne, the Memory-Seekeers. Specifically, we have been commanded to search for the Book, the tome of all Kindred lore, which is a collection of writings by Caine, his childer and his grandchlider. It is this Book, supposedly first written in the land of Nod, east of Eden, that captures our daytime nightmares and makes every night a painful journey from ignorance towards truth. Still, I savor every moment of my unlife. I savor the feeling of the crinkly old skins through silk gloves, turning them page by page. My hands shake with pleasure while holding soft cool lights and reading ink that was newly dried when Charlemagne was young. I savor the gentle, quiet terror of reading cuneiform tablets that threaten to crumble at my very presence. More than that, perhaps more than immortality itself, is the quest that burns within me. It is the search.
I have traveled all over this world, perhaps even more than any other of my bloodline. Where my eternal quest takes me, I shall know no fear! Though small of frame and frail of body, my heart is strong and my blood stronger. I am not afraid to go to those shadowy places where the far-flung fragments of our Father's teachings lie resting! I have gotten lost in the raw brutality of New York, sipped tea with the Governor of Kingston, made life-long enemies in Johannesburg, hired the best diggers in all of Cairo, fought to get through to Casablanca, learned about ancient steel and ancient monuments in Toledo, dug in the white cliffs of Dover, barely avoided a deadly brawl in Dublin, sneaked past watchful eyes in Brest, and liberated ancient tomes from a monastery in Cologne. I have saved fourteen sacred scrolls from the torch in Berlin, sipped the best coffee and talked to the greatest Austrian scholars in Vienna, learned ancient Sumerian from a Methuselah in the hidden tunnels under the University of Prague, and braved the coldest winters Oslo had to offer. And yet, I did not to this by my wits alone. Barely a night goes by that I do not thank our Founder for his foresight in providing me with the secret ways of hiding, the way to see beyond sight, and the voice of command that seems to come so easily to our line, and I have long blessed my warrior friend Karsh who taught me the secret of seeing in the dark and sleeping in the earth. And yet, I wonder what else our Founder provided us with. My sire and his sire seem to have fallen under a horrible curse. A madness, dark and quiet at first but soon growing to a terrible loss of coherent thought and communication, has seemed to strike them. Can I be far behind? My Tremere friend has written me, saying that the burning need driving my bloodline might be the cause of the madness. It must be true, for I cannot fight the burning desire for more knowledge, it is as difficult to resist as the need for sleep or the need for blood. It is perhaps this madness, that which I fear the most which has compelled me to go to press with this translation in haste.
Know that I do not intend to break Raphael's fragile Masquerade by putting these words in print. It is my intent that a scant ten score of these books be printed, and that none of the copies of this book be given into the hands of the sons and daughters of Seth (as our Father commands us in The Chronicle of Shadows).
I must publish this now, however. It is the most complete collection of the Chronicles of The Book of Nod that has ever been gathered. No other translation, not even Critias' Codex of Caine, has been as complete. And yet it shames me to say that this is not the complete text. Far from it. I have seen whole fragments go up in smoke as flames consumed ancient buildings. I have touched a complete Book in the tomb of an Antediluvian, and watched it crumble to dust. I know that in the catacombs under the tabled Los City of Gold, hidden deep in the Amazon jungle, there are thirteen stone fragments said to contain specific words to each of the 13 tribes of Kindred, but I only glimpsed them once before I was forced to flee. And so I can only boast to having part of the puzzle: the largest part to ever be assembled, true, but still only a part of the whole. I have chosen English as it is my native tongue, it is, in my opinion, the one language which most ably dances between the ancient concepts of Sumer, the noble language of Ancient Rome and the stentorian incantations of Medieval Germany. I must beg forgiveness for its glib simplified action in some cases. However, I will forever defend my choice. The King's English will serve well, especially since so many of the original texts are forever lost to me.
It is perhaps particularly perverse that I follow the threads of memory to each fragment of this Book, and yet I know that there are those out there who harry me at every step. I know that Amelek has himself had a hand in thwarting me once, and other Methuselahs as well. It is difficult to find, for example, lists of the names of the Antediluvians and the Methuselahs, for they know that in names there are power and they, out of fear that some mage would learn to control them with it have blotted their names out of the histories, where ever they have been recovered. I have luckily managed to discover a few of them, but I suspect these to be falsified names that were created by the Antediluvians to throw me off the trail, so I offer them here. This may be the only way in which we may identify certain Antediluvians. Furthermore, I have fallen into the habit (regrettably) of referring to the founder of a clan with a nominative of the clan's name. For example, Malkav equals Malkavian. This is, admittedly, sloppy scholarship but I have been left with no choice. Once I learned the true name of Brujah's Antediluvian and discovered my own name carved in my forearm the next evening, I promptly swore to never again seek the names of those founders. I am quite sure that, even as I write these words, there are agents of the Jyhad who are following me. I will not join the common room downstairs tonight for last night. I indulged in some wine-sotted blood and saw a woman with silver-grey eyes looking at me. She was wearing Ventrue's scepter-sigil on her cloak, I know it was her watching for me, searching for me, sent by Ventrue to harry me. No matter.
I will write the truth and the rest of you be damned!
I have attempted to compile these textual fragments into some kind of coherent story, at least within the contexts of the various Chronicles. Where you see an ellipsis, know that there are more words on that particular scrap, but that it has somehow been lost, erased or hidden from me. I wait now only for a package from London to finish this missive and have done with this book. This package will carry one of the only copies of the Codex of Caine left in existence, and will be the last piece in my complex puzzle. I look forward to touching it, holding it, with great expectation. And if any of my brothers or sisters comes near it, I will ...I will send them to the death of Fire! Let Michael’s holy sword brand them, for all I care. No one has come this close. I will reign triumphant amongst my kind.
Aristotle de Laurent
It is unimportant that this part of the Book of Nod is not comparatively accurate with the standard biblical canon. What is important is that we have, perhaps for the first time, a personal viewpoint on the events surrounding the days after the Fall. Caine tells us in his own words what his motives were, and although it is quite possible that this story exists only to shape our idea of him, we can assume that there must be some element of the truth his tale. His account is, after all, the only eyewitness report we have to rely upon. Ah, our dear Father. In some Islamic myths, the translated Satan figure is thrown from Heaven not because he hates mankind, but because he loves God too much to bow to any other but God, and he will not serve man. It is perhaps that Caine shares in this love he so loves his brother that he cannot think of any other worthy sacrifice to the One Above. Surely Caine could not have had any other reason to sacrifice his brother. He could not know death, having been born before Death was something humanity had experienced.
Other figures of that time also play instrumental roles in the Book. Surely it is not purely mythological transliteration that causes Lilith to appear in this story, for she is a figure in the oldest of the Hebrew Midrashim. Having been cast out of Paradise first, she would recognize Caine for one who had been in the light of heaven and subsequently cast out. There are those among my colleagues who believe that this stanza should represent the idea that Lilith, mother of magick and demoness herself, taught the first Disciplines to Caine. Others see her role as being a midwife to our Father's awakening to his own magickal potential. What remains to be discovered is the fabled "Cycle of Lilith" which supposedly describes the time Caine spent with Lilith as her servant and lover. Was it merely a dalliance, or could it have been some kind of mystical apprenticeship, during which Lilith gradually drew out of Caine the limitations that the Divine had placed upon him and slowly Awakened him to his own magickal powers? The fact that she shows trepidation at his drinking her own blood from the Awakening cup might point to her lack of total understanding as to what, exactly, this might do to the First Son of Adam. We cannot afford to speculate heather the cup causes a hallucination in Caine or whether Caine is actually physically transported to a wilderness somewhere in the Darkness. This is not understood, neither is it explained by the translation of the original text. The original phraseology essentially means "breathed in" or "moved". Both meanings of the word point to either explanation. And we cannot gain much in the debates: it matters not whether Caine was physically transported. Like shamanic visions recorded as a result of ritually consuming hallucinogenic, Caine's experience was as real to him as any journey might be to you or me.
My childe, Beckett, continues to restate his opinion that the Chronicle of Caine is a vampiric parable. I totally disagree, but Beckett is a beloved childe. I will include his studies and findings here, below. Because of the literary distance between the current translations of the text (Dr. deLaurent's translation included) of The Book of Nod, the original intent of the Book has been lost. It is my theory, based on my own researches, that the stories of Caine and Abel, Caine's curse, and his subsequent meeting with Lilith are parables created to tell the tale of the first Kindred in such a way that even the simplest of us can understand them. Through my own scholarship, and drawing upon the work of the fundamental Caine scholars in the world (including some captured writings by a Black Hand worshipper of Caine), I have created a story which I believe harkens back to the original parable of Caine. In the time after humanity went from a hunter/gatherer society to cultivating farm animals and developing agriculture, there were two tribes, named for their chiefs. They were called the people of Caine and the people of Abel.
The people of Abel were herders and animal husbanders, and were more primitive than the people of Caine. They worshipped a great Sun God, who was a warrior who lived in the sky. The people of Caine were agricultural, and were more civilized than the people of Abel. Because it was so important to time the harvest, the people of Caine worshipped the Moon Goddess, the Dark Mother who was both the fertility of Earth and the mystery of the Moon. Yet, not all of the people were happy. Chief Abel attacked Caine's people, telling them that they were inferior and cursed because they did not hunt like their Sun God hunted. Caine's people did not know much about fighting, but Caine taught them how to use the sharp things that they used to till the soil to kill. When Abel's people came back to torment them again, Caine's people fought back. All of the men, women and children of Abel were killed. The Sun God of the people of Abel then called them cursed as a people, and laid a blood-curse on all of them that they would wander without a home in the wilderness. He burned their villages and salted their fields, and told all to turn away from the people of Caine. The people of Caine were unable to recover. They wandered in the curse for many weeks, until they had no food to eat and had many troubles. Then the priestess of the Dark Mother, who lived beyond the Moon, came. The priestess offered Caine's people respite, succor and surcease. She taught them magic, taught them how to hunt, and taught them to drink blood. The Sun God came to Chief Caine in dreams, and told him and his people to return and subjugate themselves to the will of people of Seth. Chief Caine refused. Then the Sun God told him that all the people of his tribe would be cursed forever, and it was so. But the Dark Mother said that there would always be a way to overcome this curse: if the people of Caine would come to Her, through her mystery, she would free them from the curse of the Sun God. In this parable, Caine’s people (and Caine) represent our need for civilization, the Humanitas that we constantly seek. Abel’s people (and Abel) represent our animal natures, our wild selves, the Beast that lies within us. The Dark Mather represents the mystery that guides our very existence: the magic of our blood, the power of Disciplines. We must seek the mystery of Dark Mather while dealing with the legacy left behind by the Sun God ---the curse. Ergo, "A Beast I am, lest a Beast I become." Golconda is held out as a final goal, perhaps balancing all these things and showing the transcendence of the Beast Within.
I dream of the first times, (1) the longest memory
I speak of the first times (2) the eldest Father
I sing of the first times and the dawn of Darkness In Nod, (3)
where the light of Paradise lit up the night sky and the tears of our parents wet the ground.
Each of us, in our way, set about to live and take our sustenance from the land.
And I first-born Caine, I, with sharp things, (4) planted the dark seeds, (5) wet them in earth tended them, watched them grow. And Abel, second-born Abel, tended the animals, aided their bloody births (6) fed them, watched them grow.
I loved him, my Brother He was the brightest. The sweetest. The strongest. He was the first part of all my joy. (7)
Then one day our father (8) said to us "Caine, Abel, to Him Above (9) you must make a sacrifice - a gift of the first part of all that you have."
And I, first-born Caine, I gathered the tender shoots the brightest fruits the sweetest grass.
And Abel, second-born, Abel slaughtered the youngest, the strongest, the sweetest of his animals. On the altar of our Father we laid our sacrifices and lit fire under them and watched the smoke carry them up to the One Above.
The sacrifice of Abel, second-born, smelled sweet to the One Above and Abel was blessed. And, I, first-born Caine, was struck from beyond (10) by a harsh word and a curse, for my sacrifice was unworthy.
I looked at Abel’s sacrifice, still smoking the flesh, the blood. I cried, I held my eyes I prayed in night and day.
And when father said (11) "the time for Sacrifice has come again", and Abel led his youngest, his sweetest, his most beloved to the sacrificial fire, I did not bring my youngest, my sweetest, for I knew the One Above would not want them.
And my brother, beloved Abel said to me "Caine, you did not bring a sacrifice, a gift of the first part of you joy, to burn on the altar of the One Above." I cried tears of love as I, with sharp things, sacrificed that which was the first part of my joy, my brother.
And the Blood of Abel (12) covered the altar and smelled sweet as it burned. But my father said "Cursed are you, Caine, who killed your brother. As I was cast out so shall you be." (13)
And He exiled me to wander in Darkness, the land of Nod. (14)
I flew into the Darkness I saw no source of light and I was afraid. (15) and alone.