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A supernatural alternative history thriller featuring vampyrs, revolution, ancient history and the foundations of modern geometry

Spanning a thousand years, Irrational Numbers is the story of four people whose disparate hungers — for knowledge, for freedom, for power and to be remembered — led them to a deluge of bloodshed and anger.

Pythagoras was a skillful mathematician and philosopher who saw something special in a rebellious slave named Zalmoxis. Together they traveled the ancient world looking for answers, and along the way they were joined by another freed slave and a powerful priestess of Hecate, and together they founded a nation that stretched across centuries and a legacy that was a blight on mankind.

PYTHAGORASpic

Pythagoras of Samos
Occupation: Philosopher, lover of wisdom
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 165 pounds
Hair: Blond
Eyes: Brown
Unusual/Habitual Gestures: His left hand is most often on his chin
Ethnicity/Nationality: Caucasian/Greek
Known relatives: Mnesarchus (father, deceased), Pythais (mother), Theano (wife, philosopher), Telauges (son), Damo (daughter), Arignote (daughter), Myia (daughter), Milo of Croton (son-in-law)
Education: Initiated into the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries, schooled at the academies of Athens, disciple and apprentice to the great Kemetic scholar and arch prophet Sanu (Soches)
Aliases/nicknames: None
Distinguishing characteristics: None
Skills/abilities: Pythagoras was a skilled mathematician and philosopher who greatly advanced the understanding of geometry and the human condition north of the Kemetic Sea, also called the Mediterranean.
Best known for: the Pythagorean Theorem, which he assembled from standard proofs used by his master
Place of birth: The island of Samos in the eastern Aegean
Marital status: Married

Pythagoras was born the son of a gem merchant in the northern Aegean Sea on the island of Samos. From the time he was a toddler, he reached for the printed word and was reading aloud by age three. His parents encouraged his voracious hunger for knowledge and he flourished under their indulgence.

Knowing the schools on Samos could not support his quest for learning, Pythagoras was taken to Athens to learn the Eleusinian Mysteries. He excelled and passed the initiation into the Lesser Mysteries by the time he was eleven and passed the Greater Mysteries two years later. His father Mnesarchus was very proud and retrieved Pythagoras, taking him across the Kemetic Sea to the great schools of mathematics in Het Ka Ptah, called Memphis by the Greeks. There, Pythagoras studied intensely, keeping up with the highly gifted Kemetic students in two of the core academic disciplines but eschewing the more rigorous priesthood path and its more esoteric knowledge.

Colleagues from his time in Athens heard of Pythagoras’ scholarship and invited him to join a symposium of former Kemetic students and great thinkers in Athens. He stopped at home in Samos for his parents’ funeral and passed a slave auction on the docks. One of the slaves — a pale slip of a boy — stood so proud and sure that he seemed unusual. Pythagoras inquired and found the boy’s father sold him to be free of a debt and the incessant questions had been a bother ever since. Pythagoras was able to buy the boy, named Zalmoxis, for thirty shekels of silver and instantly was elated with the slave’s curiosity and cleverness.

HASDRUBALpic

Hasdrupal of Khart Haddas
Occupation: Mathematician, student, administrator
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 143 pounds
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue
Unusual/Habitual Gestures: None
Ethnicity/Nationality: Hasdrupal is from a Phoenician colony called Khart Haddas in what is now called Tunisia
Known relatives: None
Education: Hasdrupal studied mathematics and philosophy at the great schools of Khart Haddas and took introductory studies at the Kemetic Mysteries Schools before enrolling full time at the Pythagorean Society on Somos.
Aliases/nicknames: None
Skills/abilities: As a human, Hasdrupal had an enormous faculty for memorization and spatial relationships. He had the average strength and speed of a normal human who engaged in moderate regular exercise. As a vampyr, Hasdrupal shared the standard suite of powers available to their kind, including enhanced speed (able to run 40 yards in 2.2 seconds), strength (being able to press 1,250 pounds) and durability (he can heal from a wide variety of normally lethal wounds, including amputations and even beheading if he can have his head reattached within a day or so). He likewise is especially gifted at the vampyric skill of mesmerism, allowing him to take over the minds of humans with ease. With great effort, he can perform the vampyric ability of shapeshifting, but only into a cloud of bats and only for a few moments.
Place of birth: Khart Haddas
Marital status: Single

Hasdrupal was a middling student struggling with the course work at a Kemetic Mysteries System school in what would now be called Libya. He heard some other students were heading north across the Kemetic sea to study with a Greek mathematician called Pythagoras who had studied in the Kemetic system but had a less intense academic regimen. Hasdrupal, tired of the equatorial heat, jumped at the chance and headed to Somos for this new opportunity.

Easily able to pay the tuition charged, Hasdrupal became fast friends with Zalmoxis, the disciple of Pythagoras. They both shared an intense passion for order and attention to detail, and in short order Zalmoxis drafted Hasdrupal into administrative roles for the school in addition to his studies. Hasdrupal often assisted the priestess Medea in preparing for her Hecate tributes and rituals, finding the details of it familiar to his own spiritual upbringing in Khart Haddas. Likewise, he made friend with the enormously genial Sofia, who loved to hear his stories about his homeland, enlarging her curiosity about the world after being limited in her earlier life.

As time went on, Hasdrupal and another student named Melete were promoted to become teaching assistants and help with the administration. This meant a significant reduction in a tuition he already felt generous, so he leapt at the opportunity for more responsibility. When any of the principal actors of the Society traveled, Hasdrupal and Melete acted as representatives for the school.

When Zalmoxis, Sofia and Medea synthesized vampyrism from the magicks of many traditions, Hasdrupal was the first they approached to offer conversion. When he looked at the mathematics of mortality, he easily accepted and was the first vampyr they sired. He quickly helped develop a list of students that could be used as food and which ones would be best for conversion, cementing his value with the three of them.

As time went on, Hasdrupal tried to maintain a record of who sired whom, but was challenged in this effort due to the sometimes promiscuous tendencies of vampyrs to spread their gifts. Once the division between Akousmatikoi and Mathematikoi began, Hasdrupal remained neutral and stayed close to Zalmoxis, uninterested in partisanship.

MEDEApic

Medea of Macedon
Occupation: Priestess of Hecate, patron of scholarship, horse trader
Height: 5’7″
Weight: 155 pounds
Hair: Red
Eyes: Brown
Ethnicity/Nationality: Greek of Macedonian extraction
Known relatives: Janos (father, deceased), Lyta (mother, deceased)
Education: Raised in the worship of Hecate, Medea has been groomed to be a priestess since her adolescence, educated in the spiritual beliefs of the Hellenes, an equivalent of sociology and psychology, philosophy and literature.
Aliases/nicknames: None
Skills/abilities: As a fully trained priestess of Hecate, Medea is fully trained in spell craft and magic, capable of calling on boons from her patron goddess, making potions for a variety of purposes and manipulating life force for a multiplicity of effects. As a Lamia, she is capable of shape shifting and mass displacement.
Best known for: Running the Hecate temple on Kameiros
Place of birth: Pella, Macedonia
Marital status: Single

Born in the seaside village of Pella in Macedonia, Medea was the daughter of a Priestess of Hecate and a prosperous horse rancher. She was born with very pale skin, and was unable to play for long in the sun with the other children. She was considered very beautiful and inherited her parents’ brassy red hair and striking features.

Her mother Lyta taught her to read using the scriptures of Hecate, and Medea was able to do rudimentary spell craft by the time she was seven, calming animals with her words and gaining vision in the dark of night. Her father doted on her when he was home, spending much of his time traveling in the service of horse trading.

Tragedy struck when Medea was ten. Her parents left her at home when they attended a social function at a neighbor’s home. A storm came in, and lightning struck the neighboring home. The lightning ignited a fire that swept through, killing all the inhabitants. Medea awoke an orphan and an heiress, forever begrudging Zeus and his Olympians for taking her family away.

The Church of Hecate took in Medea and she embraced the faith wholeheartedly. She was one of the youngest to ever be named priestess, also gaining the rank of “lamia” (specially trained shapeshifting witches who could augment their power by siphoning the life force of others) and eventually received her own temple on the island of Kameiros.

During her tenure, she was very successful but word came back from the high priestesses that numerous secular philosophical societies were on the rise, threatening the credulity of commoners’ faith. Priestesses were instructed to infiltrate and subvert them to the worship of Hecate.

When Pythagoras made landfall on Kameiros, word of his fame as the lost philosopher chief of a society on Samos reached the temple of Hecate. Medea was among the first to greet him at the local symposium presenting herself as a visiting scholar and insisting on funding his travels. Pythagoras was grateful but seemingly immune to her womanly wiles, focused on some new work he wanted to present. One of the young acolytes traveling with the mathematician, though, was clearly smitten and Medea pledged to make use of his attraction.

SOPHIApic

Sofia of Dacia
Occupation: Former slave, student, administrator of the Pythagorean Society
Height: 5’1″
Weight: 112 pounds
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown
Unusual/Habitual Gestures: She often looks down and then back at people when speaking or being spoken to
Ethnicity/Nationality: Caucasian/Greek/Dacian
Known relatives: None
Education: Before meeting Zalmoxis, Sofia had only a rudimentary education in service. Once she began to learn to read, she started devouring information, gaining the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in the space of two years.
Aliases/nicknames: None
Distinguishing characteristics: None
Skills/abilities: Sofia is enormously intelligent and able to absorb and comprehend vast amounts of data. She is skilled in recognizing relationships between pieces of information and speaks six languages, having a facility for both vocabulary and syntax.
Place of birth: Kallatis in the region of Dacia
Marital status: Single

Sofia was orphaned at a very young age, having no memory of her deceased parents. She fell into the clutches of slavers as a child and performed scullery duties for a variety of masters throughout the Mediterranean. Despite being considered beautiful, she was fortunate to not be owned by anyone who took advantage of her sexually. Like all slaves, she was beaten periodically, depending on temperament of owners more than through her own mistakes, but she accepted her lot in life and suffered under it stoically.

She was lost in a bet to a cruel Persian merchant who, despite her learning his language in just weeks, called her a “dolt” and beat her mercilessly for minor infractions. On a trip to India, she fell behind a step when she was a fakir spitting fire on the docks, and began to receive a beating in broad daylight. As she fell into a fetal position, she heard footsteps running towards her and a young voice pleading for her. She looked up and saw a young man who looked like he was from her homeland, who offered a box of valuables to buy her from the merchant. The merchant’s eyes went wide when he saw the value held within the box and ordered her to go with the boy.

VLADpic

Vlad Tepes the Third
Occupation: Former ruler of the Romanian region of Wallachia
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 145 pounds
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown
Unusual/Habitual Gestures: None
Ethnicity/Nationality: Caucasian of Romanian descent
Known relatives: Vlad Tepes the Second (father, deceased), Eupraxia Tepes (mother), Alexander Tepes (older half-brother, deceased), Mircea Tepes (older half-brother, deceased), Radu Tepes (younger brother, deceased), Alexandra Tepes (younger sister, deceased), Jusztina Szilagyi (wife, deceased), Minhea (son, deceased), Vlad Tepes the Fourth (son, deceased)
Education: Raised in the household of the king, Vlad received the finest education a boy could get in the 1420s and 1430s. He went on to study political science and military science as an adult.
Aliases/nicknames: Dracula, The Dragon
Skills/abilities: An exceptional administrator, Vlad had a keen mind for organization. He was unmoved by enormous amounts of bloodshed, called “Vlad the Impaler” during his rule of the Romanian region of Wallachia, and was both a keen swordsman and a skilled melee combatant. With his vampiric powers, he excelled at shapeshifting and feats of strength.
Place of birth: Sighisoara, Romania
Marital status: Widowed

After a brutal and bloody reign as the ruler of the Romanian principality of Wallachia, he was approached by Sofia during his third time on the throne while he lived in a small house in Pecs, Romania. She was concerned about his damage to the Romanian community and abducted him by force, leaving a hypnotized lookalike in his place that she’d groomed for years.

Little did she know that mere months later, her doppleganger would die in pitched battle with Ottoman forced supporting Basarab Laiota, the man ho would ultimately succeed him. When Vlad was shown the savagery with which his body had been destroyed, with his severed head sent to the Ottoman sultan Mehmed the Second, he was beside himself. He stopped his forceful resistance to being imprisoned and sat quietly in his cell for months. When Sofia finally came to see him, she found him unkempt and broken, realizing that she’d likely saved his life in her attempt to serve the Romanian people.

Sofia asked him about his commitment to protecting his people, recognizing his enormous popularity in some corners. He told her he’d done terrible things but always to make certain that he was seen as strong so Wallachia could be seen as strong and stave off invaders, especially the hated Ottomans. Sofia offered him a chance to serve her, and he admitted to having heard of the greatness of the Akousmatikoi and the deeds they did, and said he wanted to learn more. She told him he could stay with her, but that he’d have to pledge himself to her service and give up some things, explaining vampyrism. He balked at the idea of drinking blood at first until she showed him how she fed and found it less grotesque than he expected. Sofia sired Vlad in the winter of 1478.

Vlad studied under the Akousmatikoi, carefully assigned far from Wallachia and Transylvania so as to not be recognized, and fared badly at roles serving people or helping in the community. When a Mathematikoi group attacked the Akousmatikoi caravan he rode with to bring food to impoverished peasants, he leapt to the fore, defeating most of them on his own and using several quick shape shifts to throw off their defense and drive them away. Sofia recognized his skills and moved him into a more defensive position.

Within a year, Vlad overtook about half of the military actions against the Mathematikoi and developed intelligence assets that helped thwart hundreds of attacks. By the 1700s, he essentially served as Sofia’s right hand and personal body guard after an assassination attempt when she went to visit Denmark in the 1600s.

ZALMOXISpic

Zalmoxis of Dacia

Occupation: Former slave, cult leader, magician
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 155 pounds
Hair: Black
Eyes: Green
Unusual/Habitual Gestures: Zalmoxis was a master orator and often punctuated his points with forceful hand gestures
Ethnicity/Nationality: Caucasian/Greek/Dacian
Known relatives: Cartophanes (father, deceased)
Education: Zalmoxis had the equivalent of a collegiate education studying as an apprentice of Pythagoras, one of Greece’s finest mathematicians and thinkers.
Aliases/nicknames: Zal
Skills/abilities: Zalmoxis was an extraordinarily gifted learner, able to assimilate vast amounts of data and complex concepts in a relatively short amount of time, as well as being able to relate that new learning into existing understandings to form conclusions. .
Place of birth: Tyras in Dacia
Marital status: Single

Zalmoxis was born in the slave pens of the island of Fourni. His parents were apparently indentured, but his mother died in childbirth and his father was sold before his first birthday.

He was first sold to Demetrius of Sparta, a cruel and humongous man who helped make sure supply lines to Sparta stayed open. Demetrius treated Zalmoxis poorly, including beating and sexual abuse, until he was accidentally killed by a falling pillar in the marketplace while Zalmoxis was cleaning the house. While playing no part in the death, Zalmoxis felt the gods favored him at last.

Demetrius’ assets were all sold and Zalmoxis found himself in the slave pens again, this time on the island of Samos. At numerous auctions, his haughtiness deterred many buyers until a thoughtful mathematician named Pythagoras purchased him. Zalmoxis was predisposed to resisting the man, but Pythagoras asked so many detailed questions about Zalmoxis’ life that it disarmed the boy. Pythagoras promised that not only would Zalmoxis be well treated, but he would support the boy’s education as well. Zalmoxis cautiously accepted this and thanked his new master.