Public Timeline (Known to all PCs as appropriate based on the events and dates in question)
1705: Helmut is embraced by [Redacted], and becomes a Malkavian of the 8th Generation.
1710: Helmut is released from The Accounting in London, England.
1759: Helmut enters a deep depression upon learning that his sire has been destroyed by hunters. He departs London, moving back home to Amsterdam, and establishing a haven there.
1760: Helmut crafts a masterwork mask of “ironwood” (Lignum vitae), designed to conceal his sadness and further his enigmatic demeanor within the Kindred court of Amsterdam. Over time, among the Kindred there, he becomes known as “Het ijzeren masker” (The Iron Mask).
1789: As “Punch and Judy” puppetry became increasingly popular in Europe, there was a demand for well-made, durable wooden puppets in rod and marionette style. Known in the Netherlands as “Jan en Katrijn Klaassen”, these characters were loved by children and adults alike, and Helmut was sought after as a skilled puppet-maker and stage/booth builder among the elites within the Dutch aristocratic and merchant classes.
1791: Helmut begins to practice the arts of puppetry in preparation for a show he intends to perform at the next year’s Summer Court of Amsterdam’s Kindred Prince.
1792: Helmut’s performance is well-received for the most part, but the local Toreador Harpy later publicly accuses Helmut of mocking him during the performance, calling it “A lazy and uninspired attempt at pointed satire, intended to undermine His Majesty’s Court.” The Harpy’s attempt at Warning Helmut is deflected by his standing as a Loyal member of the Camarilla.
1793: The Toreador Harpy of Amsterdam is removed from his position when it is discovered that he is responsible for the recent rash of murdered nuns and nurses within the city. In shame, the former Harpy flees to his Haven, and barricades himself inside it. Kindred of the city watch in horror as shortly thereafter, the building catches fire from the inside, and burns to the ground. The former Harpy’s screams echo through the night as the home’s blazing flames lick the sky.
1796: The year begins on a Friday. It is a Leap Year. On the 16th of January, The first Dutch (and general) elections are held for the National Assembly of the Batavian Republic. During the elections, Helmut has a crippling vision that terrifies him to his core. Fearing the worst, he sells all of his belongings except for a small collection of his master woodworks (mainly dolls, puppets, and masks), and arranges for travel to Surinam on what would end up being one of the very last expeditions of the formerly vaunted Dutch West India Company (then known as the Second Chartered West India Company or the New West India Company), which had been absorbed by the States General of the Dutch Republic in 1792.
1797: While arranging for repairs of a damaged ship, Helmut provides a list to the ship's Assamite captain. The list contains the names and last known port of operation for a number of slave traders at neighboring Dutch colonies.
1799-1802: British occupiers gain control of Surinam. Helmut serves as a translator and craftsman, a go-between for the British and the Dutch (known at the time as the Batavian Republic), as well as the local population. This lasts until the Dutch regain control of the colony in 1802.
1803: Helmut learns via correspondence with dockmasters in Amsterdam that his old shop and home had been burned to the ground less than a week after his departure in 1796. The cause of the blaze was never definitively determined.
1804-1816: Established as a man of means within the Dutch Colony of Surinam, Helmut’s influence and wealth expand, surpassing their former levels, by way of financing merchant ship fleets that handled commerce between the various Dutch Colonies in what was then known as Nederlands-Guiana (Dutch Guiana). This continues despite the British re-occupation of Surinam which began in 1804, and persisted for 12 more years. Once again, Helmut served as a translator and craftsman during the occupation, proving his usefulness to the occupiers. He managed to convince them that he was English, and merely fluent in Dutch, thus ensuring their complicity in his personal business affairs. The substantial bribes to local officials likely helped as well.
1818: Slavery is abolished in the Netherlands, due to the royal decree of 1814 signed by William I, leading to the Anglo-Dutch Slave Trade Treaty. A great number of local plantations went bankrupt as a consequence of the abolition of slave trade. Without a source of new slave laborers to replace escaped and deceased workers, many plantations were merged to increase efficiency. Helmut seized upon this financial opportunity, buying out a great many landholders’ territories at a fraction of their former value. The former slaves became paid (but obligatory) workers, a status which continued for over half a century in Surinam.
1854: By this time, Helmut was the sole owner of over 60 square miles of land in Surinam (38,400+ acres), primarily in the form of farms and plantations of varying size. This represents nearly 0.01% of the entire colony’s landmass, but only 0.4% of the colony’s total area is cultivable. As such, at the time, he controlled roughly 2% of the total land suitable for farming in Surinam. Crediting his years of frequent, uncanny visions for his great strides and financial success, he takes heed of a seeming ill omen when observing the movement of smoke rising from a bonfire designed to burn rubbish at one of his plantations. He began to sell his holdings and make arrangements for transport to New Orleans.
1856: Helmut purchases a sizable manor home outside New Orleans, with a large expanse of attached farmland.
1861: Southern forces fire upon Fort Sumter, South Carolina. The Civil War has formally begun.
1862: A Union fleet of gunships under Admiral David Farragut passed Confederate forts guarding the mouth of the Mississippi River. On April 25, the fleet arrived at New Orleans, where they demanded the surrender of the city. Within two days, the forts fell into Union hands. Within two weeks, Helmut’s home and grounds were taken from him by Union forces; his possessions were looted, and his crops destroyed to prevent foraging by Confederate Troops. Fearing that his nature as a vampire would be discovered, he flees North with a fraction of his wealth intact, and sends word to his attaché still in Surinam that he will soon need additional funds from the sale of his remaining South American holdings when he becomes settled at his final destination.
1862: Helmut arrives in Wisconsin, and settles in the farming community near Hollandtown, primarily inhabited by the descendants of Dutch Catholic immigrants from the 1840s.
1864: The sale of the last of Helmut’s South American holdings are completed. Over half of the proceeds are lost or stolen in transit, primarily due to the tumult of the American Civil War and its effects on banking and finance in the South and Midwest. His formerly massive fortunes savaged, Helmut falls into deep despair. He turns to puppetry to maintain his spirits, performing small shows for the local populace.
1865: Helmut moves East to Michigan after receiving a mysterious letter in a familiar handwriting, urging him to seek his place among the Kindred of Detroit. He does so, and remains there for nearly half a century.
1890: After repeatedly experiencing visions of winged men shooting and dropping bombs from the air on monstrous creatures made of shadow and blood, one such omen prominently featured a man clearly distinguishable as a
mustachioed, cowboy-hat-wearing Texas Ranger. As a result, he began to travel back and forth between Michigan and Texas frequently over the next two decades.
1910: The first military air flight in a Wright Brothers' plane takes place in San Antonio, Texas. News of this prompts Helmut to finally move to Texas permanently, ending his nomadic existence of the previous twenty years.
1911: Helmut begins to invest in commercial (transport) aviation research and development, with an eye for later expansion into military and passenger utility for these aircraft.
1912: Helmut officially moves to Houston proper, and makes his first entry in recorded Kindred history as a resident member of Houston’s Kindred Court, under Gangrel Prince Gerard of the Camarilla (NPC).
1913: During a gathering of local Kindred, an Elder refers to Helmut as “The Man in the Iron Mask”, rather than his usual alias of “The Iron Mask”. The name sticks, and becomes his de facto designation within the Kindred Court of Houston and the Camarilla at large. Moving forward, he is habitually referred to as either one or the other by Kindred acquaintances, generally based on when they met him.
1957: “The Man in the Iron Mask” is present at a local gathering, and has brought an eerily lifelike wooden ventriloquist’s doll. It is apparently one of his masterwork creations. He introduces the figure as “Bas Vander Linden”. Whispers among the attendees indicated that the doll seemed to be watching them, and occasionally moving its head and hands, perhaps autonomously.
1960: Helmut is chosen to serve as Houston's Seneschal, by word of Prince Gerard.
2001: Mortal Hunters ravage vampires across the country, with many losses in Houston. The remaining Kindred populations find strength in numbers and secrecy. Whenever possible, Helmut passed along pertinent information gleaned from the imagery within his visions in order to prevent needless destruction of the Kindred of Houston’s Court.
2004: Schismatic Assamite Viziers are welcomed into the Ivory Tower.
2009: Worldwide economic collapse occurs but largely passes by Houston. The Red Star “fades” from the sky to the confusion of most, apart from several Malkavian seers and oracles.
2010: With the aid of the Setites, the Giovanni break “the Promise”, and the Independent Alliance is formed.
2010: Helmut, colloquially referred to as “The Man in the Iron Mask”, or simply “The Iron Mask” is recognized as an Elder of the Camarilla after three centuries of active existence as a Kindred of the Camarilla. “Bas Vander Linden”, however, his seeming constant companion, is merely an Ancilla, having been active for 53 years in Kindred society. As such, Neonates and other Kindred who are not Confirmed within the Camarilla may approach and speak with “Bas Vander Linden” in order to arrange an introduction to prominent members of the court and/or sect.
2012: The Iron Mask, Elder of Clan Malkavian, attends and participates in The Chicago Blood Accord.