Tour Through Time
Covenant--Keepers of Knowledge
Not many kindred outside of the Custos Gnaritas know of its existence. Even fewer know that it contains members who are not kindred, through every level of the hierarchy. The Custos Gnaritas exists to ensure that what was is not lost.
It is said that the Custos Gnaritas started in ancient Rome, possibly a century before the birth of Jesus, although some suspect that it is much older. Allegedly, a small group started to make provisions to catalogue and retain knowledge over vast periods of time. This group was headed by the original (and it is whispered still current) Baphomet but included some other impressive talent from in and around Rome. Some say only the Ipsimus know the identity of the Baphomet and the origin of the covenant and others assert that not even the Counsel of Nine knows.
The Custos Gnaritas philosophy is that existence may be fleeting, even for the immortals, but knowledge should be eternal. This includes all sources of knowledge from books and scrolls to cataloguing verbal information and protecting the very old and wise who hold secrets of times long past. In exchange for protection, those with the roll of Scribe in the covenant seek to interview and record on papyrus or other medium tidbits of lore.
Members of this covenant place the preservation of knowledge above all things. The needs of the many out-weight the needs of the few and faced with the situation of a substantial knowledge loss or the loss of themselves, sacrifices must be made, whether it be my a Protector, Scribe or even higher levels.
Knowledge that is lost must be re-learned, if that is even possible. Some of what is lost over time cannot be replaced. Dead languages litter the landscape of history and much was lost with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. Since the burning of the Library was supposedly after the creation of the Custos Gnaritas, there are theories that Julius Casesar’s “accidental” burning of the Library was an elaborate ruse such that the Custos Gnaritas could relocate the countless valuable artifacts, scrolls and other founts of knowledge and move to the Temple of the Akkadian. At some point in time, knowledge may reach a critical mass to the benefit of all. Other kindred covenants are strangely xenophobic to members of the Custos Gnaritas. The world does not exist merely for the kindred but for all beings, supernatural and mundane.
The Good of the Many Outweigh The Needs of the Few
Preservation over the ages requires sacrifice and this sacrifice can come in many forms, whether it is self sacrifice or that of others. Covenant members are expected to exercise great wisdom in knowing the difference between necessary sacrifice and needless bloodshed. To the extent the knowledge is meant to raise all of existence at some point, saving unnecessary loss of such existence is also quite important. The better this difference is judged, the higher up the ranks a member may progress.
Only the Penitent Being Shall Pass
Penitent to knowledge, that is. In order to be admitted to the covenant initially, a prospect is observed for a period of time and tested in their commitment to knowledge. This test can take many different forms depending upon the prospect and those judging. A minimum of three judges, two of at least Keeper rank and one of at least Archon rank must be unanimous in their decision. Once these individuals are admitted, their existence becomes one of service to the Covenant in which they exercise their duties depending upon their expertise for the preservation and protection of knowledge.
Rituals and Observances
In order to facilitate cooperation among the covenant and different clans, beings and beliefs, there are a number of observances which must be kept for proper functioning.
Oath of Preservation
Due to its hierarchical nature, each new member must swear an oath to the preservation of the Custos Gnaritas and all it upholds. It is said that the Baphomet is aware of each oath as it is taken, but some say such thinking is folly. At the time of the Oath, a being’s true name must be given to represent their loyalty and trust. This is a carefully guarded secret out of respect to the being but if proven disloyal, this true name can be used against them. Once the true name is given, a covenant member must never again go by this name to protect themselves and the covenant.
Each member of the Custos Gnaritas must present whatever hospitality they can to any visiting or traveling members of the Covenant, befitting their status within the covenant. This includes, shelter and food, if required, and access to knowledge. This also includes joint protector, as both the visitor and the host must protect each other and their stored knowledge against any threat. As part of this process of hospitality, the visitor must always present themselves to the member of highest standing to an area they visit, whether they avail themselves of other hospitality or not. At such presentation, the visitor and host each must exchange their status and their lineage within the covenant (i.e. who inducted them and who inducted those who inducted them).
In order to have a covenant that includes all beings, the Custos Gnaritas members must believe or come to accept that all beings are created equal. Some may have more raw power, some may exist much longer, but in essence none are superior. Only in working together can all things be understood since every being has its limitations and these limitations are different.
Titles and Duties
Because of the hierarchical nature of the covenant, there are a number of titles, each with corresponding possibilities. While there is a path for progression up the ranks, not all beings wish to do so.
Each level in the Custos Gnaritas is represented by the Status-Covenant merit, 1 for Protector, on up and the merit affords benefits as stated below.
At this level the Custodian can enter the regional safe-house or may travel. They are expected to handle any militant issues the Scribes may hand down.
At this level the Custodian is in charge of handling delicate information. Keepers operate out of a safe-house and are also expected to handle directives that the Archons hand down to them.
At this level the custodian is called upon to actually maintain all aspects of the safe-house, librum, and armory. With vast support of the Custos Gnarista, they are expected to collect and preserve information and maintain order of safe houses.
Archons are the main governing body of the covenant on the ground level and are some of its most wise members. An Archon runs a large regions of the Custodians. In the Modern Era this may be like “Archon of the Great Lakes” or “Archon of the Eastern Seaboard”. The Archon runs vast regions for the Custodians and is in charge of guiding the Scribes in their duties and calling on the Keepers in the field to follow orders and missions. They must also gather the most powerful artifacts and tomes of knowledge and put them into the hands of the Council of the Ipsimus.
There are only 9 Ipsimus, the Pinnacle of the Custos Gnaritas for each being type that participates. They include (a Mortal, a Vampire, a Werewolf, a Mage, a Daemon, a Qashmallim, a Promethean, a Geist, and a Spirit of Creation). For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as the Counsel of Nine. This council meets at the Secret Halls of the Custos Gnaritas in the Temple of the Akkadian in the vast deserts of Iraq. They also have the Grand Citadel, a secret meeting location in the city or Rome. It is said that there true purpose is to preserves all knowledge of the Mortal Plane that exists so it shall not be lost like the library of Alexandria, though many suspect far darker intentions. The Council of the Ipsimus receives dreams and visions from a being they call Baphomet, though some suspect this is a phallacy and they act on their own accord. Only the Council of the Ipsimus knows for certain. If a member of the Custos Gnaritas has achieved Archon status, they must await the retirement or passing of the Ipsimus in their seat, and then the council will meet to choose the most worthy Archon to raise to that stature, a dubious political process filled with many intrigues and machinations.
Only one individual occupies this slot, this is his Covenant, and he directs the members of the Custodians as he will usually via dreams, but if need be he will make a personal appearance which is said to be both Overwhelming and frightening. It is rumored that Baphomet has found a way to make himself a hybrid of all beings and has powers of the vampire and mage, the werewolf and the demon, and on and on. No one knows for certain, no one knows where he dwells. The only thing that is certain, if you defy him or his Covenant, you will get the chance to meet him, briefly…