[ By Daniel Harms ]

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A few weeks before his untimely departure at the hand of a deranged holy man, I was speaking with Ryan Copeland, Baali of the Southeast Cabal. Midnight was rapidly approaching, and we had spent most of the evening discussing various matters relating to vampiric history and traditions. The subject had moved to Mithraism, the Roman mystery religion based around a Ventrue elder who later became prince of London.

"He's been missing since the Blitz, but I wouldn't write him off entirely," Ryan was saying. "After all, he was a member of the Inconnu before they were the Inconnu."

"But why would a member of the Inconnu be allowed to become prince?" My attention had begun to wander, and I was trying to keep awake.

"Well, he split from the group when their mission changed just after the Anarch Revolt. I take it you haven't heard that much about it?"

"No one seems to want to talk about them. I've read the 'Vlad Tepes' document where the Inconnu are only elders hiding from their childer and each other --"

"Ah yes. You know, some believe that your friend Sarkov might have been responsible for that. A source of useful information, but rather inaccurate on that point."

I almost asked about Sarkov, but decided to continue. "And there are some Kindred I've talked to who say that the Inconnu are actually the guiding forces behind the Jyhad and the servants of the Antediluvians."

"The rumors our younger ones start! Well, I can hardly leave you ignorant on such an important point of our history..."

Since that night, I've cross-referenced what Ryan told me with what little else is known about the Inconnu. For the most part, it seems to go along with what little I have been able to find out about them, but I leave it to the reader to judge the information given. (And since he was a Baali, any tidbits you could pass on would be appreciated.)

The Inconnu, as they were called later, were originally a coalition of Ventrue, Lasombra, and Malkavians, and a few True Brujah, who controlled various factions among the Romans. Though spending a good deal of their time squabbling with one another, they were able to present an united front for long enough to maintain their position of power. With the secret aid of these generals and statesmen with their millennia of experience, Rome was able to obtain unquestioned dominance of the Mediterranean.

One of the most important acts undertaken by the Inconnu was the destruction of the Brujah center of Carthage following the Third Punic War. Though it was hinted within the Inconnu that the Brujahs had dabbled with infernal matters and Carthage must be destroyed to be purified, the logic behind it was probably more economic than anything else. Whatever the cause, the city's destruction led to centuries of strife between the Brujah and the Inconnu nonetheless. After the Punic Wars, the Toreadors began to move to Rome in force, and many of them joined the Inconnu.

It was not until the first century AD that the Inconnu began to have true dissension within its ranks. The exact events are lost to history, but some time after the reign of Caesar Augustus the Toreador, along with a few Malkavian allies, wrested control of the Empire from the Ventrue. The coalition who gained power lasted for quite some time, and was able to perform such coups as conquering the Tzimisce-controlled region of Dacia to the north. The long-term conflict which resulted form this would eventually lead to the fall of the Roman empire to Alaric and other barbarians led by the Ventrue and the Tzimisce. After Rome's destruction, the Ventrue reformed the group, but the Toreador held a grudge against their returning lords and deserted them.

During the Dark Ages, the former Roman backers fell back, trying to engineer another centralized imperial government such as they had enjoyed in Italy. They backed various individuals, including the French Merovingian line, but it was in the Roman Catholic Church that they found the closest parallel to their former glory. Their aims were often frustrated, however, as various manipulators worked behind the scenes on plans that often conflicted with those of others. So confusing did the newer Kindred find this, and so little was known of these secret powers, that the term "Ignoti", meaning "The Unknown" (but also implying "Ignoble"), first came to describe them. Those within the group, however, often referred to themselves as "The Order."

It has been said elsewhere that the shock of Saulot's diablerization was the force that drove the Inconnu together. This is only partly true. Saulot's death did come as a great blow to the order, and the group did become more centralized after his death. This was mainly the result of anti-Tremere sentiment among the group, however. Efforts were made to damage the Tremere's standing, but the Inconnu were hampered by Clan Tzimisce's decision to exclude them from their homeland where the battle was raging, as well as a faction within their own group that held that Saulot's death was in fact planned by the Healer and therefore should not be avenged. For the most part, though, the Inconnu were too busy within their home provinces to cause the Tremere much trouble at that time.

What truly brought the Inconnu into their present form and purpose was the Anarch Revolt, along with the diablerization of Cappadocius. The elders who survived saw that their attempts to gain more power for themselves had in the end resulted in chaos and destruction. Diablerie, which had been a rare occurrence previously, suddenly became an omnipresent threat. The group had become more and more disenchanted with pursuit of material matters, and more interested in higher truths. Even the more pragmatic considered a withdrawl from the Hyhad wise, if only as a way to preserve their own existences.

The rise of Augustus Giovanni was also a matter of great concern. They, like the Tremere, attempted to destroy the clan of the Founder they killed. The Tremere, however, set out to do this by discrediting and demonizing their foes in a propoganda campaign that lasted centuries. The Giovanni had not gained the same connections within the Kindred community, so were instead forced to hunt down the Cappadocians themselves. To do so, they made use of a special ritual that allowed them to detect Kindred of the Clan from a great distance. [DH -- I asked Ryan whether this was the same as the Tremere ritual that found Saulot. He told me that the Tremere magic, which was more tied to nature, could only detect the massive amounts of energy around the Antediluvians, while the Giovanni's was more tied to the life and death cycle and could more easily pick out "anomalies" (vampires).] It was this innovation that led them to perform the ritual at Hunedoara Castle which shielded it from all intrusion.

The newly-formed Council of Twelve sent the word out through the world about the sect's new policies. Many of its former members, among them Mithras, Prince of London, were unwilling to give up their temporal power and involvement in Kindred affairs, but at the same time the new message had appeal to some in the Brujah and Toreador communities. Over time, more of the Ancients who had grown tired of the Jyhad were won over, until the Inconnu reached the strength that it now possesses.