“Grandfather: it’s time for my story.  Today I want to know about the history of our family.  The redcap side, not the archer psilos side.”

“What would you like to know? Shall I tell you of Eban, who used to claim to know where Diedne had hidden wealth, and scam noblemen with his reminiscences?  Shall I tell you of Roberto, who travelled to Serica and returned with the wolfberries so beloved of House Tremere? Shall I tell you Mercere’s son Arcadius, and the dreadful punishment placed on him?”

“Oh, that sounds interesting.  Who punished Arcadius?”

“The Founder Jerbiton.  People assume Jerbiton was a sunny, cheery sort of fellow.  All that art.  Nice wife, nice house. Pleasant people. Gentle Gift. They are, of course, but Arcadius crossed Jerbiton terribly. Jerbiton’s wife was bitten by a faerie adder, and was transforming into a rosebush. He sent an urgent message to Bonisagus, to come and use all his skills to prevent the transformation from becoming complete. Arcadius, who was carrying the message, became drunk on evening before going to bed, and his messages were stolen by faeries. Arcadius did not continue on his journey and deliver the message to Bonisagus verbally: instead he followed the faeries and recovered his message pouch.  This would have been laudable, if time did not, sometimes, travel faster in Faerie than in the mortal realm. He delivered his message to Bonisagus far too late, and Miriam had become a rosebush. It is still said to grow in the gardens of Valnastium.”

“And Jerbiton’s dreadful vengeance?”

“He cursed Arcadius, and all of his descendants, with the Melancholy.”

“What’s the Melancholy?”

“Any descendant of Arcadius who stays in one place more than a month begins to become depressed. If they stay longer, they become progressively more deranged. Eventually they either commit suicide or become homicidal and are killed by their fellows.  They are cursed forever to travel.”

“That doesn’t seem so bad.  Our people travel all the time.”

“Ah, but there’s a second catch. It’s not just places they come to loathe, and feel oppressed by. It’s anything. A shirt, a caravan, a horse…”

“So they need to replace everything, all the time?”

“Not just things.”

“Other people?”

“Yes, other people too.”

“So they hate people if they spend more than a few months with them at a time?”


“How do they have families?”

“By accident, generally.”



“So, they can never enjoy having a family? That’s terrible.”

“Yes, having no family would be horrible wouldn’t it, Grand-daughter?”

“Ah. Moral.  Too simple. Yes. It would be, but I have one and so I’m all right, thanks.”

“Good.  How about another moral?”

“Don’t annoy the magi?  Oooh, no!  Everyone should visit Valnastium, because there’s a famous rosebush there?”

“Heh. I didn’t plan a moral for this one, but that will do.”

“So, what happened to Arcadius?  Death or suicide?”

“Suicide, eventually.  He was caught by a faerie again, and killed himself when driven mad by their ceaseless, repetitive games.”

“Faeries steal people away all the time!  Arcadius’s people must die this way a lot, Grandfather!”

“Oh, yes, the Bee Queen I told stories to for years?  She had caught one. That’s why I needed to tell her stories, initially. To get him to let her go.  Have I told you this story before?”


“Are you sure?  I thought I had. You don;t recall it at all?”

“No, but you can tell it to me now!”

“Ah, no. Nice try: naps and supper.  Off you go.”

* * *

“Grandmother. I’m finding it harder and harder to spot the false bits in Grandfather’s stories.”

“Ah, yes. They tend to blur out each other’s false parts.”

“He told me about Arcadius and Jerbiton.”

“Ah, yes.  There he just left the horrible bit out.”


“Arcadius’s ghost is still in Faerie.  No-one is sure where. House Jerbiton has done its level best to make sure no-one ever finds out.”

“So, he just keeps killing himself, forever?”

“Yes, child.”

“That’s terrible.”

“Yes.  Try not to think about it. Eat your dinner.”



2 replies on “Marco’s Story About The Melancolia of Arcadius In Which A Vengeance Is Described

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