Dead of Night: Tales from the Big Easy

CHAPTER ONE: The Nature of the Beast

The Pursuit of Belial's Brood

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The coterie wake. The stakes have been pulled from their chest, leaving a gaping hole. They are tossed on the table lit by the overhead, tungsten lamp.

A hulk of a man walks along the length of the table. His eyes are dead, his head closely shaven and his lips are sewn shut, nostrils flaring. He wears a cheap suit, ill fitting his massive frame. He growls at them as he steps backwards into the shadows. He smells mortal.

The coterie take the chance to look around them. Each are chained to a steel chair bolted to the floor. They look at each other and there is a glimmer of recognition in their eyes.

The room is oblong in shape, the walls are thick, grey breeze blocks. The floor is rough concrete. There is a stained glass window of a sun rising over a hill. The windows are shuttered.

A candelabra in the corner illuminates an elderly man in a monk’s cassock, waiting patiently at a lectern. His eyes are sewn shut. The Beast stirs at the sense of weakness but there is no fight or flight instinct.

The door behind them opens, a cool breeze ruffles their dirty clothes.

“How the mighty have fallen”

Their Beasts cowers…

The Kindred walks around the table, impeccably dressed in a black suit and open collared green silk shirt, his black hair is slicked back from his face. His eyes survey the three figures in front of him. His eyes are the colour of stormy skies.

He pulls the chair in front of the three out, takes off his jacket and places it on the back of the chair. He sits, crossing his legs casually while staring at the three bloody stakes on the table. He sweeps them off with the back of his hand.

“So why did you do it?” – The Kindred

The three Kindred exchange glances.

“Do what?” – Willem Foucault

“Is this how you want to play it, Foucault?" – The Kindred, disappointment in his voice.

“If you have a problem buddy, I’m sure we can work something out” – Jacob Cross

“Do you know who I AM?” – Hampton Mayfair III

“I do” – The Kindred

“I’m Hampton Mayfair the Third"

“That surname has no power here” – The Kindred

The Kindred bangs his fist on the table. Hampton locks eyes with his unnerving stare but the others look away. Foucault, trembling.

“Can you explain precisely what it is I am supposed to have done?” – Hampton

Foucault concentrates, trying to reach out to find any ghosts in the room but fails, either too weak or too scared to focus his senses.

“So we ARE going to play this game? Last night Philip Maldonato, Seneschal of N’Awlins was found murdered. You were found in the room covered in blood with a stake in your (points to Jacob Cross) hand" – The Kindred

“What the hell have you got me here for?” – Hampton

“You were in the room. All three of you were in the room. You are the prime suspects in the final death of one of the city’s most prominent Kindred” – The Kindred

“Quite besides which, I don’t know what or who a Seneschal is” – Hampton

The Kindred back hands him in a blur of motion, rocking him back in the chair, the metal groaning from the blow.

“Don’t. The Prince wants your heads. Given our past relationship I have extended to you this mercy. It can’t last long. Unless you give me a reason for why you did what you did. You. Are. ALL. Going. To. Meet. The. Sun." – The Kindred

He suddenly claps his hands together, his demeanor shifting.

“But first lets get the pleasantries out of the way. May I introduce Mr Speak (indicates the hulk with his mouth sewn shut) and Mr See (indicates the elderly man behind the lectern, a quill in his hand), they are associates of mine.” – The Kindred

“And their purpose in this… grotesque charade is?” – Hampton

“They are associates of mine” – The Kindred, coldly

“Friend, you have me at a disadvantage. I’m feeling a mite fuzzy. Who are you?” – Cross

The Kindred shakes his head.

“I had hoped we could do this civilly. My name is Donovan – The Kindred, watching their reactions closely

Foucault feels a presence in the room but he can’t pinpoint it. The hairs on the back of his arms stand straight.

“If we have to do it this way, lets do it this way. Whats the first thing you remember?” – Donovan

Silence.

“I think it began in a hotel room. In 1946, a few days before Mardi Gras…” – Hampton

Blood trail

Hampton is hungry, Gabrielle Deco refused to let him feed, told him to wait. They have been sitting in the hotel room at the Inn on Bourbon for the past hour. No explanation and less conversation. Foucault and Marcus stand on a rooftop opposite the Inn on Bourbon, they have been there since just after sunset, simply watching the hotel room and the surrounding neighbourhood of the French Quarter.

Jacob Cross is driving Valentine Delacroix. She wears dark glasses, refusing to look out the window and cowers in the passenger seat, shielding her face from the neon lights outside.

Jacob puts a hand on her knee.

“There is no need to worry Miss Delacroix" – Cross

“I know, boy. I know… its just so bright” – Valentine

Foucault and Marcus haven’t spoken for the past 2 hours. Foucault is used to his sire/ mentor’s philosophy of simply watching and observing until they know as much as possible before taking action. Marcus draws Foucault’s attention back to the second floor hotel. Inside stands Hampton Mayfair, a tall thin young man with white hair and a pallid complexion in a worn shabby suit, pacing in a clearly agitated state and Gabrielle sitting with her back to the window.

Foucault makes out a sound with his Heightened Senses, a sound of a slow, bass sucking sound, he recognises the sound from being around his sire. It is the sound of The Blood shifting in a Kindred body… there seems to be a third person in the hotel room, Obfuscated to the mortal eye.

“Marcus, there is a third Kindred in that room" – Foucault

“I do not need to see this third person. I know who it is. His name is Mr Dimanche, a member of the Primogen of the city and we are due to meet with him. This is the beginning of your next step. I have been very pleased with your progress so far, Willem. Very pleased" – Marcus

Marcus takes out a battered, thick book from his overcoat, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It is weathered and used, the pages marked by pieces of paper with passages highlighted, and writing in the margin.

“A gift. From me. If you can tell me why I’m handing you this, I’ll see about your initiation” – Marcus

Foucault examines the book and looks up about to speak. Marcus holds out his hand to silence his student.

“Not now, not now. Examine it, study it, make sure you know everything about it. Look around it. We need to go.” – Marcus

Marcus looks down onto the street just as a dusty ’43 Ford sedan pulls up outside the Inn on Bourbon.

Jacob Cross looks out the front window and notices two figures on the roof of a tenement opposite the hotel. They step back from the edge. Cross has been here in mortal days, he favoured it for several of his mistresses. Valentine sits patiently in the car waiting for Cross to open the door. He opens the door and takes her hand.

“Guide me boy, guide me” – Valentine

“In your own time, Miss Delacroix. I won’t tell anyone" – Cross

Blood trail

Marcus leads the conversation but the strength of the group is obviously in Gabrielle. Valentine shrinks into her high backed chair. There is the suggestion of deference from both Gabrielle and Marcus.

At one point in the past Valentine was more than she is now.

Marcus explains why they have met. Cross, Foucault and Mayfair will work together to get back at the Sires collective enemy, Donovan. Fifty years ago Donovan was in a coterie with the three sires, using all their resources and contacts they worked together to improve their position in the city. Donovan betrayed them and the sires having no position or status were forced to seek shelter and protection from their covenants.

Fifty years ago they served Antoine Savoy, Lord of the French Quarter. When he found out what had happened, he disowned them in anger. They believed Savoy was a hero standing up to the oppression of Prince Vidal. Over the last fifty years however, they learned that he was nothing more than a politician, saying whatever he has to and do whatever he has to, in order to get what he wants. What he wants is to be Prince of New Orleans.

It is clear that the sires are cynical about Savoy and any ‘cause’. All they want now is to get a small chunk of domain, to get a step on the political ladder and to protect themselves from their enemies. They no longer trust each other and so they need a coterie of childer to run the domain on their behalf.

While Marcus talks, Foucault notices Hampton trembling and his gaunt complexion. He silently hands Hampton a hip flask. Mayfair sniffs it suspiciously and tastes a drop. His fangs extend as he senses blood but he controls himself.

“You have a name?” – Hampton

“Willem” – Foucault

“How about a surname that goes along with that?” – Hampton

“Willem Foucault” – Foucault

“Hampton Mayfair. The Third.” – Hampton

The two neonates shake hands.

“The old family of N’Awlins?” – Foucault

“I’m an Uptown Mayfair" – Hampton

“Now we cannot do what we are about to do without patronage. May I introduce Primogen Dimanche?" – Marcus

Everyone is suddenly aware of a figure sitting on the chaise lounge. He is dressed in a charcoal pin stripe suit, with thick framed glasses and a rigid side parting. His dark eyes take in the room, his face impassive.

Marcus had already mentioned Mr Dimanche, his grand sire, Foucault’s great grand sire. Foucault can sense the tingle in his blood at Dimanche’s presence.

“So. These are the neonates” – Mr. Dimanche

“A pleasure to meet you, sir” – Cross

There is a pause. Suddenly Dimanche clicks his fingers.

“The Invictus one" – Mr Dimanche

Cross nods

“Thats good, thats good. Always know where you stand with the First Estate…”

His smile fades.

“… as far away as possible usually” – Mr Dimanche

“A cutting sense of humour you have there sir” – Hampton

Mr Dimanche’s gaze flicks to Hampton and a look of utter distaste fill his face and his gaze slide to Foucault.

“(to Foucault) And you are?" – Mr Dimanche

“Willem Foucault” – Foucault

“”Marcus has told me quite a bit about you. Although I don’t approve of some of Marcus’ hobbies we have worked out a relationship of mutual benefit. (to the coterie) How much do you know of our purpose?" – Mr Dimanche

“We know we are to carve out some territory in the city” – Foucault

“That is more the end than the means. Every year, at this time, the city ushers in Mardi Gras and the city comes alive. Which is good. For feeding. However, at this point as well we get… (lips twist) Belial’s Brood. Do you know much about Belial’s Brood?" – Mr Dimanche

“The Semitic name for the Devil?” – Hampton

Mr Dimanche refuses to acknowledge Hampton directly but he nods.

“Devil worshipers?” – Foucault

Mr Dimanche frowns and looks at Hampton properly.

“A little educated for a heathen worm aren’t you?” – Mr Dimanche

“Troublemakers? You want someone to take care of them?” – Cross

Mr Dimanche snaps his fingers.

“Exactly. Now normally we don’t know how or where they strike but Marcus has come across some information, he approached me to broker a deal with the Prince for a portion of domain in order to sort out these troublemakers" – Mr Dimanche

“There are three in the city , a Daniel Carver, a Rita Taylor and a Seth Mayfair” – Marcus

He throws a dossier on the table, three photographs fall out.

“Seth used to be a lawyer with Mayfair and Mayfair working out of the Central Business District" – Mr Dimanche

“I’m familiar with them, we’ve met at a society function before now” – Hampton

“Daniel was a student at Loyola University in Riverbend" – Mr Dimanche

“And finally a very sad case of a former Sanctified childe, Rita Taylor, 16, Embraced, followed the faith and betrayed us" – Mr Dimanche

“All of these Kindred have disappeared over the last 18 months and we have got word that there is a ritual or initiation about to start” – Marcus

“We want you to stop whatever these pagans are doing, bring them in, preferably with evidence in order to smooth the transition of domain” – Mr Dimanche

“Is there anyone we can talk to about Belial’s Brood?" – Foucault

Mr Dimanche suggests an unaligned Mekhet calling himself Azazel. He owns a bookshop somewhere in Mid City. No one seems to know where but they should be able to find it. Mr Dimanche has already pre-arranged that they will talking in exchange for a favour. Azazel knows a great deal about the occult but has refused to give any physical help, just information.

A loud knock at the door disturbs the conspiratorial atmosphere.

Mr Dimanche is startled, he stands and straightens his suit, walking into the bedroom closing the door behind him.

Marcus looks non-plussed, Valentine scared and Gabrielle is clearly annoyed.

“Do we have any idea who this could be?” – Hampton

Another knock, louder and clearly frustrated.

Hampton Mayfair opens the door a fraction

“You’re intruding upon a private…”

The door flies open, Hampton takes several steps backwards, keeping his feet from the force. Cross reacts, activating Celerity and taking Valentine into the bathroom, returning in a blink of an eye.

Donovan steps into the room, dressed in formal black tie, a white silk scarf draped around his shoulders and whites glove, which he picks off hand, finger by finger. He is accompanied by a mortal, 30 something and nondescript, also dressed in formal black tie.

Donovan sits on the chaise lounge where Mr Dimanche was sitting several moments ago.

“I do love reunions, Marcus you’re keeping yourself well, Valentine… where is Valentine? Gabrielle… so I thought the lack of invitation must have been an oversight on your part so I decided to find out what the hell is going on?!" – Donovan

Silence festers in the hotel room.

“(indicating the coterie) Who are these” – Donovan

“My name is Hampton Mayfair III and I’d be pleased if you addressed me courteously sir” – Hampton

Donovan rises and walks to stand in Mayfair’s personal space

“I’ll address whoever I want, however I please” – Donovan

Donovan blurs, a glittering point of metal suddenly in his hand. Hampton steps backwards and blocks the blow to his side with his hand.

Earth trickles from Hampton’s eyes, ears and nose. His skin becomes drawn and translucent, his fangs extend and he snarls at Donovan with his Monstrous Countenance

Donovan raises an eyebrow

“Put it away… worm” – Donovan

Donovan sits down again the blade disappearing. He addresses Gabrielle.

“Gabrielle, put your get on a leash. I’ll let this slide one time because its obvious he does not know who I am, which pains me that you have not told him about your erstwhile comrade in arms, coterie mate and SHERIFF OF N’Awlins… (to Hampton) which means I own you!" – Donovan

Hampton straightens his suit and enters the bathroom, splashing water on his face to remove the earth. He sneers at Valentine, huddled in the bath.

“Perhaps we have gotten off on the wrong foot?” – Cross

“Have we been introduced?” – Donovan

“Jacob Cross. I speak for Madame Delacroix.” – Cross

“Ah Valentine, how is she?” – Donovan

“As well as to be expected” – Cross

“Pity” – Donovan, without sympathy

Marcus and Gabrielle simply sit, faces impassive. Gabrielle’s jaw clenches.

“Why has this gathering happened? What is going on? Is it something I should know about? Ya da. Ya da. Ya da.” – Donovan, boredom in his voice, hand waving in the air

“Sir, our sires are but out patrons who have introduced us in order to have a sense of solidarity. We are but small cogs in the machine” – Cross

Donovan pauses, measuring Cross

“By the Dark Prophet, you’re not forming a coterie are you?” – Donovan

Hampton Mayfair fires the dictionary definition of coterie from the en suite.

“Coterie, an arrangement or engagement of witches, much like a coven. A Latinate noun.” – Hampton

Donovan stands again, walks to the bathroom door and pulls is shut with a meaningful BANG.

“So you are. Dear me, I credited you (indicating the Sires) with more imagination” – Donovan

“We seem to have offended you in some way. If there is a matter of tribute, we are your servants” – Cross

Donovan closes one eye, looks first at Gabrielle and then Marcus.

“Have these Embraces been… authorised?” – Donovan

Marcus is stony faced and gives a single nod. Gabrielle tenses.

“Hmm, interesting. So you were saying tribute? For this I would be looking for a favour” – Donovan

“Name it” – Cross

“What is going on?” – Donovan

“I must confess sir, I don’t know what you mean. We are attempting to survive…” – Cross

“Tell me have you accepted Longinus as your saviour? Do you understand your role in the great Tapestry of God’s plan for the Damned?”- Donovan

“I am sorry sir but my understanding is woefully neglectful. I intend to remedy this, as I’m sure we all do” – Cross

Donovan has his fingers steepled, his gaze lying heavily on Cross.

Cross shifts uncomfortably… before spilling his guts, telling Donovan everything, why they are there and what they plan to do.

Donovan soaks up the hesitant Cross’ tale.

He laughs loudly.

“Good luck with that. I think we’re done” – Donovan

He stands and walks out.

Jacob looks panicked, from Marcus to Gabrielle. Hampton walks out of the bathroom, toweling his hands, the door flying off its hinges.

Cross walks past him to check on Valentine.

“(to Hampton) Make friends wherever you go!" – Cross

“That is the most vexing person I’ve met and I’ve been mixing with niggers lately” – Hampton

Gabrielle bristles

“I must admit Mayfair, he is not a pleasant creature” – Cross

“Silence is golden” – Foucault

“Yes. I appreciate that” – Cross, annoyed

“It appears we have lost the element of surprise, I do know that despite Donovan seeming to be amused, he will try and stop you. As a matter of principle. And to spite us. Consider this a good test for you to carry this out quietly and discreetly. Gabrielle, we need to talk about sorting out Hampton’s Embrace. Make sure you and he aren’t put to Final Death" – Marcus

“You are quite serious, aren’t you?” – Hampton

“The Embrace without permission is punishable by Final Death. In New Orleans the sins of the sire also fall upon the childe and vice versa” – Marcus

Hampton faces Gabrielle, shaking with anger.

“My disgust at your existence and your overwhelming temerity and above all your foolishness has reached untold levels and if I somehow survive your misguided adventure with deluded notions of …” – Hampton

Gabrielle flies across the room, grabs Hampton by the throat and lifts him bodily into the air crashing his head into the ceiling.

Mr Dimanche walks out of the bedroom and looks at Cross, shaking his head.

“I… sorry” – Cross

“Possibly you will be. Donovan now knows my involvement in this matter and I will have to work extremely hard to make sure my position remains unassailable… why is there a hole in the ceiling?" – Mr Dimanche

Hampton nurses his head.

The sires and Mr Dimanche assemble to leave.

“Good luck boy. I’ll be downstairs.” – Valentine

“I’ll be along presently” – Cross

“Don’t worry yourself Jacob. I’ll take Valentine home." – Marcus

“Thank you” – Cross

“Gentlemen, you have 7 nights until the next Elysium. That is where the justice will happen” – Dimanche

The door closes.

“FUCK!” – Cross

“Discretion should be the first thought in everything we do” – Foucault

“If they can pull the words out of our mouths, we’re not going to have much of an option when it comes to discretion” – Cross

“If we don’t talk to them, they won’t be able to know what we’re doing” – Foucault

“(muttering)Someone could have told me before” – Cross

“We still have our contact Azazel and we still have the identities of the Brood. There is the possibility before we start that we could misdirect him. Presumably these names are not the only ones connected to the Brood. If we make some clumsy attempt to find out about others in the Brood and then approach our contact subtly, then that will hopefully direct his attention away from what we are doing" – Foucault

“Right. Maybe I could talk to Sundown?" – Cross

The coterie arrange to meet the following night, setting up a drop box for messages with the hotel clerk. Cross is to be the lightening rod, pulling attention away from the coterie’s real investigation. Hampton is to use the family name to gain access to Mayfair & Mayfair while Foucault is to meet with Azazel.

Blood trail

Cross charges Awe before entering Carnivale, The Afterhours King’s newest Kindred friendly club. He finds the Nosferatu sitting in a corner playing chess with himself. There is no second chair forcing Cross to stand. He talks loudly, drawing attention to himself from Kindred and kine alike.

Sundown refuses to look up, he toys with a pawn in his fingers.

“There’s no Belial’s Brood in the city, they visit at Mardi Gras and go" – Sundown

Cross squats on his haunches, trying to catch Sundown’s eye.

“Popular haunts, places they’ve been spotted? Come on help me out here” – Cross

“There is one place, the Rising Sun. In the Bayou St. John” – Sundown

“I’ll check it out, thanks Sundown" – Cross, sliding a 20 across the table.

Sundown stares at the bill, he gestures for more.

Cross slowly flicks through notes and places on the bar. His shoulders slump.

“Call that a down payment” – Sundown

“Yeah I love you too” – Cross, walking away

Sundown blows a sarcastic kiss in Cross’ direction.

Outside Carnivale, Cross checks to see if he has a tail. A man in a Packard sits watching him, he has an injury to his ears, they seem to be sewn closed. Cross sees him make a note but pretends he hasn’t noticed his shadow. He climbs into his car and heads to the next bar.

Blood trail

Hampton calls the home address of a clerk from Mayfair & Mayfair using the phone directory at a payphone. He wakes the clerk up and insists he open the offices and spins a yarn about having heard some concerning news about an inheritance.

The clerk, sleepy and confused crumbles at Hampton’s veiled threats and the sheer anger in the Mayfair’s voice.

Hampton hangs up before the clerk can react further, checks to see if he has a tail. Sure enough, a thickset man in a bad suit leans against a lamp post reading a paper. His lips are sewn shut. Hampton takes the tail on an extended tour of the city losing him in a packed out music hall somewhere in the French Quarter.

Blood trail

“Show me Seth Mayfair’s office” – Hampton, to the sleepy eyed clerk at the offices of Mayfair & Mayfair

“Mr Seth Mayfair hasn’t worked here in 6 months. He disappeared, they shut up his office” – Clerk

“Show me his files then, he was working on this same case” – Hampton

The clerk returns with a storage box. He pops it open.

“Nothing in here really, he was just handling a sale of an old house” – Clerk

The clerk starts lifting files and papers out

“Where was this house?” – Hampton

“In the Garden District (checking) no it was Mid City" – Clerk

“(noting address) I’ll return these tomorrow” – Hampton

As Hampton turns to leave he spots a book at the bottom of the box. It’s leather cover has been bound with string, scrawled on the front is the moniker ‘Duvalier’… it looks about 200 years old. Hampton picks it up, it is warm to his touch, his Beast suddenly feels soothed and calm, he can think clearly for the first time in a year. He smells the book… a strong perfume of blood.

“I’m a bibliophile, please, excuse me” – Hampton to the clerk’s weirded out expression.

Hampton takes the book, clutching it to his chest. He flicks through it as he leaves Mayfair & Mayfair. It is made up of random words and images that make no sense. He gets the impression that one page is some kind of ritual. He ducks down an alleyway close by and licks a page of the book. It doesn’t taste of blood but a tingle of static runs along his tongue.

The ritual has clumsy diagrams next to it, depicting grotesque acts but seems to promise the ability for the practitioner to get whatever he wants. Hampton’s mind starts racing.

Blood trail

Foucault gives the address of the best place to start looking for Azazel’s book shop to his blood addicted driver, Marcel. Relaxing in the back seat of his car he concentrates on channeling any ghost of victims connected to the expected atrocities committed by Belial’s Brood.

With a great effort of will, Foucault manages to reach out to an entity that manifests on the car’s backseat. The car becomes cold, Marcel’s breath steams in front of him and the car windows condense into small rivulets of water vapour. An insubstantial figure of a woman in her mid thirties, high cheek bones and sallow cheeks wearing an expensive evening gown and a gold necklace with a huge green emerald materialises next to him.

Her throat has been cut wide, severing her arteries and vocal chords, blood staining her neck and dress. Her intense eyes stare at Foucault.

“Good evening. I sense that you have something to share.” – Foucault

The ghost’s voice is weak, barely a husky whisper. Her lips fail to move.

“Justice. Mayfair” – The ghost

“Seth Mayfair?” – Foucault

Every single pane of glass in the moving car suddenly shatters. Foucault instinctively raises his hands to protect himself from the lethal shards that suddenly fill the car. Marcel loses control of the car as it careens across the road into on coming traffic.

“Marcel, pull over" -Foucault his face and body lashed with welts and embedded glass.

Despite the serious wounds to his upper body, Marcel pulls the wheel over, narrowly avoiding a car its horn blaring going past. Foucault’s car mounts the curb coming to a sudden stop as it hits a lamp post.

The ghost’s fierce eyes are on Foucault

“Remain calm, I want to help you. I want to kill the Mayfair. Help me” – Foucault

The ghost nods and vanishes. She appears down the street beckoning him to follow.

Foucault starts to follow but remembers Marcel wounded in the front seat. He opens the driver’s side door and bites his wrist, thrusting it at Marcel’s mouth.

“Drink” – Foucault

Marcel laps at the blood oozing from the wound. Foucault concentrates on imparting some of the power of the Blood to Marcel, ghouling him to his service.

“Heal and wait for me here” – Foucault

Foucault follows the ghost, first taking a can of gasoline from the boot of the car. She leads him out of Mid City to a massive Greek Revival house in the Garden District. The house is old and faded, its pillars and columns a testament to its former grandeur. Somewhere inside a clock chimes 9pm.

The house gives Foucault pause for thought, his sire had warned him that no Kindred had dealings with any of the Mayfair family. Those that did either disappeared or went mad. It all centered on this house, on First Street owned by reclusive patriarch Aaron Mayfair.

“Is this where it happened?” – Foucault

The ghost nods

“How many of them?” – Foucault

The ghost raises a single finger

“I’ll make sure you are avenged, thank you” – Foucault

The ghost appears on the porch. She beckons

Foucault cautiously approaches, walking through the rusted iron gates.

“I need help to do this properly” – Foucault

The ghost gestures at the door. It unlocks and swings open.

“Will you help me now? I believe there is more. I’m going to kill them all” – Foucault

The ghost turns and walks into the hallway, a grandiose staircase rises up from the polished wooden floor.

Foucault enters the house. There are paintings of men and women, from every imagined age, all dressed in finery, all with high cheek bones and sallow cheeks. Scratchy gramophone music spills out from the door on the left mingling with the subtle clink of coins.

Peering through the gap in the door Foucault sees a comfortably furnished parlour. A young man, in his mid 20s, dressed extremely well in a white wool suit and string tie sits at a desk counting coins, he takes a slug of whiskey. His cheek bones mark him as a Mayfair but Foucault quickly realises he is not Seth Mayfair.

Foucault Obfuscates the can of gasoline.

“(to the ghost) Is this the one?” – Foucault, whispering

The ghost shakes her head and points up the staircase.

“Lead the way, I will follow” – Foucault

The ghost appears at the top of the stairs. The staircase is wide and is coated in a deep, thick pile red carpet. The bannister is highly polished oak. It curves around at its end to meet the landing. Further ahead is an iron gate, leading to a small elevator.

The ghost moves to a ladder that presumably leads to the attic. Foucault climbs the ladder.

Halfway up, he spots a door ajar, at the far end of the landing. A light is on and steam curls around the door spilling into the landing, a woman sings.

The voice fills Foucault’s mind, his body flushes with The Blood and he notices abstractly that he has an erection. The ghost fades, silently screaming. He climbs down the ladder and approaches the door like a sleepwalker, placing his can of gasoline on the landing. The door creaks open, droplets of warm water form on Foucault’s cold skin.

In an ornate free standing bath is a beautiful woman, in her early twenties. Her deep green eyes look invitingly at Foucault. Her black hair is bobbed to her neck, accentuating her high cheek bones. The water in the bath is clear, steam shimmering over her naked body.

She smiles slowly.

In a daze, Foucault gets undressed.

Blood trail

Jacob Cross, unable to directly contact the others, leaves a message to meet at the Rising Sun at 10 pm and stops in to visit his mistress Tania. Using his supernatural charm he quickly cuts through the pleasantries. In the middle of the act Cross feeds, he loses himself in the sensation. He is suddenly aware of Tania’s dead eyes staring at the ceiling.

He unconsciously licks his lips, savoring the final taste of Tania.

Cross feels no remorse, oddly divorced from the situation. The only thing he is conscious of is the warmth of Tania’s blood in his body. He reaches over and closes her eyes before licking the wound closed. He hoists the naked body on his shoulders, places it in the bath and runs the water, he finds Tania’s razor and cuts two deep furrows in her veins.

Before leaving he collect his personal effects from the bedside drawer taking Tania’s purse for good measure.

Blood trail

Cross parks outside the Rising Sun scoping the area. Its a large impressive plantation building incongruous to the surrounding swamp land. Its dilapidated state shows it clearly has fallen upon bad times.

From outside Cross can hear music and laughter, every single window is lit. The door seems to be always open. Local legend says this house was built by a vodoun bokor Papa Iblis who disappeared over 100 years ago. The house is now owned by Madame Gage, an elderly, enterprising madam. As Cross watches, he seems crowds of men and woman leave and enter, all of them solicited by prostitutes hanging from the porch.

He becomes aware of a creeping warm sensation over his body. He feels an urge to walk in, a smile playing on his face as he thinks of screwing Tania, even though she is dead. He can’t help but idly think how it would be interesting now that she is dead.

A smoky haze fills the house as as Jacob Cross walks in, the faces of the visitors blur together. The room to the left appears to be a gambling room, the room to the right seems to be a makeshift bar. A corridor stretches out ahead while a battered staircase without a bannister leads up to the second floor.

Screams of pleasure drift down from upstairs, an involuntary chill of satisfaction runs through Cross’s body.

With little choice in the matter, Cross heads into the gambling room and moves to the blackjack table. He takes in the rubes in one minute and gives a big shit-eating grin.

Blood trail

Cross counts his winnings, $500 and as he does so he looses the sensation of warm comfort replaced by sudden feelings of claustrophobia. He moves to another table, playing conservatively refusing to sucked into the game, keeping a line of sight to the door.

Blood trail

Hampton stakes out the house mentioned in the papers of Seth Mayfair. The house is anonymously suburban but there is a great deal of activity in the house, people going in and out, shadows in the windows… Hampton concludes there are at least 10 people are in the house.

Seeing the house calls forth a memory of the building, infamous now in New Orleans. It was owned 10 years ago by a man named Samuel Balkan, a prominent business man in the local area. His mind and will was destroyed by the death of his wife, becoming a shell of the man he once was.

Balkan had two daughters, Collisa and Anita. They fought each other to take the place of the wife as the woman of the house. Colissa murdered Anita, in order to sleep with her father. She gave birth to a child from this incest who dies when Colissa killed herself in shame when the father was arrested and sent to prison. The house has been empty since then… until now.

Hampton pulls out, heading to the Rising Sun to meet Jacob Cross

Blood trail

The fog affecting Foucault lifts, he quickly realises he has just slept with a demon, more than likely of lust. The demon towels herself off and introduces herself as Stella Mayfair, the daughter of Aaron Mayfair. The daughter who died in 1928. Her death was followed by rumours of her father knowing her in a biblical sense. Foucault beckons Stella back into the bath, willing The Blood to quicken his body.

“Are you hungry?” – Stella

“I am” – Foucault

Stella cranes her neck to one side, keeping her eyes on Foucault’s.

“Go for it” – Stella

Foucault advances on Stella, who lies back. Foucault sinks his fangs deeply and tastes of her demonic blood, which seems to be endless, nearly overwhelming Foucault, blood spilling from his mouth. He breaks satiated.

Stella smiles. The wounds heal as Foucault dresses quickly. Stella smile suddenly drops and she looks to the door.

“Get out. Now” – Stella, fearful

Foucault senses something wrong, he bursts through the bathroom door, his senses reeling. All around are sparkles of light drifting in the air, centered and concentrated on the door in front of Foucault.

The door opens

The ghost materialises behind Foucault, the sudden cold of her presence forces the steam escaping from the bathroom to hit the floor, creeping through Foucault’s feet.

An old man stands beyond the door. He is tall and thins, with thick white hair and a busy beard. He is dressed in a white suit and string tie. He leans on a metal cane.

His eyes shimmer as Foucault reads his aura, it glitters and is a deep, deep angry red.

Aaron Mayfair reaches out with one and flexes his fingers. The shape of the landing distorts, bending around Foucault and folding in on itself.

Foucault finds himself for a moment in a small oubliette, brick walled without doors or windows.

And then he is outside. The front door of the mansion shut fast. With a sense of something missing Foucault walks calmly to the street.

He makes his way to the car. Marcel waits patiently, his face a picture of worry but before he has the chance to speak.

“Lick my boots clean” – Foucault

Between boot licks, Marcel asks where Foucault has been.

“That is not your concern” – Foucault

“Very well master but you have been gone for a night and a day” – Marcel

Foucault pauses.

“What??? Stop that… what do you mean a day and a half?” – Foucault

Marcel clambers to his feet

“I have been here a day and a night” – Marcel

“Today is Sunday” – Foucault

“Today is Monday night” – Marcel

“That is … irksome. Get in the car” – Foucault

Foucault gives directions to the rendezvous and hands Marcel some money looking at the car.

“Get this fixed” – Foucault, shaking with anger

Blood trail

After Foucault fails to turn up, Hampton studies the book in detail. He finds the details of the ritual, he needs to find a place that resonates with what he actually wants… then torture someone for 48 hours straight and intone the name ‘Alaemon’.

Hampton’s hand shakes and he pushes the thought of his brother out of his mind.

Blood trail

The coterie meet up at an abandoned newspaper office Foucault knows about in the Central Business District. Cross arrives late having shaken the tail he had been successfully cultivating. They swap stories.

“I have gained access to the office of Seth Mayfair, having disappeared 6 months prior I read his papers and found he was working on the sale of the renowned Balkan murder house. Its been on the market unsold for years except recently I found that there were people living there. I suggest we pay them a courtesy call” – Hampton

“Did you get a good look at some these people Hampton?” – Cross

Hampton shakes his head

“Where is this house?” – Foucault

“It’s a brownstone in Mid City” – Hampton

“We talking people or are we talking Kindred?” – Cross

“I assume it has some sort of connection” – Hampton

Cross raises his finger to his lips

“Wait a minute” – Cross

He searches around the offices, findig an old AM radio and switches it on, dialing up the volume. Jazz blares out, punctuated by bursts of static.

“Best we be safe, yeah?” – Cross

“I agree. Hampton, the Mayfair House in the Garden District?” – Foucault

“The Garden District Mayfairs?” – Hampton

“Yes” – Foucault

“The oldest and most prestigious branch of the Mayfair tree?” – Hampton

“Indeed. Seth it would appear is connected also to that house” – Foucault

“On what basis? Except him being a Mayfair and probably attending the Annual Mayfair Season Ball?” – Hampton

“Well I consulted one of his victims…” – Foucault

This gives the coterie some pause.

“What?” – Cross

“One of Seth’s victims?” – Hampton

“I asked her and she…” – Foucault

“You can speak to the Dead?” – Hampton

“I’m speaking with the dead now but yes… in a wider sense. She led me to the house and I almost tracked him down. I wanted to find hard evidence but you can’t always trust ghosts” – Foucault

“No. No. Of course not, of course not” – Cross, tongue in cheek

“But I was… waylaid” – Foucault

“I hope you didn’t cause a disturbance in the Mayfair household, they are notorious for their privacy and discretion. Generally the reason for this is anyone who does cause a disturbance gets FUCKED with” – Hampton

“And anything you call down on your head, may fall on his head (points to Hampton) which means it lands on my head” – Cross

“Well I’m trying to avoid anything landing on any of our heads and this is why… Basically, have you heard of Stella Mayfair?” – Foucault

“Stella? Yes she died tragically. There were rumours of incest with her father” – Hampton

“Well. I may have met her” – Foucault

“Another one of ‘the Dead’? Wait, we need to come up with a codified system here, our variety of the dead, you’re variety of the dead or some kind of tertiary variety of the dead?” – Hampton

“The third option” – Foucault

“Oh grand” – Hampton annoyed

“She is now, how can I put this…” – Foucault

“A mummy” – Hampton, mocking Foucault

“No. Better than that” – Foucault oblivious to Hampton’s needling

“A werewolf?” – Hampton

“Better than that. She is a form of demon” – Foucault

“Oh Ok then…” Hampton, tongue in cheek

“Right well, er fantastic” – Cross

“A bestiary of medieval Europe has been upended in N’Awlins” – Hampton

“Foucault, I hate to bring us rocketing back on course but what did Azazel say?” – Cross

“I didn’t get to Azazel. Thing is I left the house and the last thing I saw was Stella, I appeared outside the house. I have no idea how I got there and when I returned to my car my driver told me I’d been gone a day and a night” – Foucault

“Does anyone know if the curse of undeath prevents us from imbibing alcohol?” – Hampton

“(to Hampton) Since some cooze put a spell on him and fucked with his brain, did you have any success?” – Cross

“Well aside from the house, no… This ghost killed by Seth Mayfair? Could this have been done in some ritualistic manner? For instance I have heard the Mayfairs have involvement with such things” – Hampton

“I get the impression that yes she had her throat lit straight across” – Foucault

“Any indication of duress or torture?”- Hampton

“No. She was dressed up in evening wear. To the nines” – Foucault

“Rules out any possibility of torture” – Cross, sarcastically

“Well it would suggest she’d have been misled and taken somewhere, maybe Seth had her trust? We’re back, to my mind…” – Foucault

“Yes, lets get back to that” – Cross, dryly

“What precious little there is of it” – Hampton

“(to Hampton) You have connections with the Mayfairs” – Foucault

“Yes. I know well to let sleeping dogs sleep” – Hampton

“Quite. But if one were inadvertently to wake the dog, how would we get the dog back to sleep?” – Foucault

“Cuddles?” – Cross, stony faced

“You’re still alive, pardon the expression, and leave well enough be and perhaps a large token of your gratitude although I would trouble to imagine what you can present to the Mayfairs?!… besides, it s hardly the point you haven’t spoken with Azazel” – Hampton

“Not yet” – Foucault

“We need to get on finding these three Brood.” – Hampton

“I realise I was only the diversion in this particular plan but Sundown suggested there was something about the Rising Sun, I stopped in for a spell, seemed pleasant enough but there’s something wrong there. (to Foucault) you clearly have the ability to see beyond what we see” – Cross

“I do. My suggestion, we leave Seth Mayfair alone” – Foucault

“May I suggest we check out this house? It may contain the entire Brood” – Hampton

“We should arrange an ‘accident’” – Cross

“That would be gratifying, given my family’s connection to the place but I think we should attempt to collect evidence first” – Hampton

“I’ll explain. The ghost took me into the Garden District Mayfairs house. That is where Seth killed her. Which means if we have to deal with Seth we might have to go through the Garden District Mayfairs. Which I think is a bad idea” – Foucault

“Not necessarily, you don’t know when in the continum of events he murdered her. Before or after his Embrace. Or for that matter whether it was committed under the patronage of the Patriarch of the Garden District Mayfairs” – Hampton

“Quite possible” – Foucault

“Gentlemen, we’re looking for information or evidence, ghosts… I don’t know if they’re admissible in this kind of court. Maybe we should focus on the physical things” – Cross

“Ok” – Foucault

“Mayfair, you know that family better than us…” – Cross

“Alright! Gawddammit I thought to keep this a secret” – Hampton pulling out the Duvalier Codex

“I found this in Seth’s personal effects. Its a demoniacal codex of some sort. Does it mean anything to any of you?” – Hampton

Foucault examines the book, it feels warm to the touch. His eyes suddenly roll back in his head

1850 – A black man wearing a suit with no shirt and a cane topped with a human skull pens the book. He looks around and stares straight at Foucault “we’ll meet again”
__
Seth Mayfair finds the book in an old attic, amidst rubbish and decaying boxes. When he touches it he shudders suddenly
__
Valentine Delacroix Embracing Seth Mayfair on the porch of her old plantation house
__
A Kindred in a Civil War Great Coat, dust encrusted on his hair and clothes talks to Seth, now a vampire.
__
The coterie gathered round the book… someone is watching

“We’re being watched right now” – Foucault

“How’d you know?” – Cross

“From the book” -Foucault

Cross quickly covers the offices, making sure everything is secured, windows and doors.

Foucault triangulates the position of the viewer and points to the ceiling, in the corner of the room. He can make out a heat haze, a slight distortion in space.

“Someone on the ceiling?” – Hampton pulling his long barreled revolver

Cross unloads his .38 at the approximate point on the ceiling Foucault points to. He’s firing blind.

Hampton sees…

[hears a quill stop in mid stroke, then it continues writing]

… a black man, midnight black, stares back at Hampton through the distortion. He has a cane with a human skull as the head piece. He wears a suit without a shirt. Space collapses around him and the black man grabs Hampton by the lapels.

“Do not fuck with the prophecy, you had you’re chance” – The black man

The heat haze disappears, the static from the radio disappears.

Hampton can’t help but shake the strong sense of deja vu. He trembles and clutches the edges of the desk in front of him

“Hampton, you still with us?” – Cross

Hampton nods

“What did you see?” – Foucault

“A Catholic saint, distorted through the eyes of a barbarian negro slave” – Hampton

“I used to be a salesman, my friend. Use smaller words” – Cross

Baron Cimitiere, I think’ – Hampton

“Interesting, thats who I think I saw through the book” – Foucault

“The voodoo priest?” – Cross

“I wouldn’t be surprised, it was some mockery of such a man” – Hampton

“He’s connected to the book, connected to Seth and connected to (to Cross) your sire” – Foucault

“How?” – Hampton

“She Embraced him” – Foucault

“Is it entirely… I may be leaping to a conclusion here but what is the guarantee that we are the first coterie created by our collective sires to fulfill their plans?” – Hampton

“Why would they only have tried once before? Why not have tried many times?” – Cross

“Precisely and what has happened to them?” – Hampton

“If we explore this theory, we have been asked to kill three Kindred, one of whom we know has been created by one of our sires” – Foucault

“We’re mopping us the mess, the mess from the last time this happened” – Cross

“Someone has an agenda in ensuring whatever purpose there is in the the three is not allowed to come to fruition, after all assuming these three are our forebears, it would seem they have been corrupted in some way. Certainly in the case of Seth” – Hampton

“By this book” – Foucault

“And perhaps by the agent behind it” – Hampton

“(to Foucault) Do you trust Marcus?” – Cross

“Within reason” – Foucault

“I despise the nigger bitch” – Hampton

“Madame Delacroix was kind to me when I needed her to be, she is a sick woman” – Cross

“Then perhaps she is being manipulated?” – Hampton

“Of the three of them, she is the one most likely to divulge the truth. IF any of you had questions, perhaps I could lead that” – Cross

“Perhaps we should see to disposing of our predecessors” – Hampton

“Do we want to do that without evidence” – Foucault

“Hampton, that probably… we have no way of knowing if we are being observed. I know what you’re saying but perhaps not here, not now” – Cross

“And just so we are clear, you two come at Madame Delacroix, I’ll bury you” – Cross

“Even if we wanted to, how could we do that?” – Foucault

“Gentlemen, we are all in the same lamentable position. We have all had our fates taken away from us, to become pawns in some larger scheme” – Hampton

“We’ll have to keep playing the game until we can change the rules, we need to find… lets leave Seth for now, he seems problematic. Lets go for the other two. If we find similar connections with the other two, Hampton you can use…” – Cross

There is a sudden knock at the door.

The coterie tense. Cross lifts his fingers to his lips.

“Hello? Hello? Hello? Hampton? Hampton? Are you in there? – Voice

Cross moves to the far side of the door, hand on pistol.

Hampton recognises the whining, pathetic voice.

“Seth Mayfair?” – Hampton

“Bonus” – Cross

“What the fuck!” – Hampton

“I don’t know” – Cross

“Hey, hey there, is that you Seth?” – Hampton, gesturing for Cross to stay at the door.

“Yeah” – Seth

“Do you want to come in?” – Hampton

“I’m not armed, I just need to talk” – Seth

“Sure, Sure” – Hampton

Cross hides behind a shelving unit while Foucault fades into the shadows.

Hampton pushes The Blood to his muscles, while Foucault concentrates on healing some of the serious cuts he suffered at the hands of the ghost.

“Seth, why don’t you come on in here?” – Hampton

The door opens gingerly and Seth steps in, his suit is tattered to ribbons. A smear of blood runs across one side of his features. His dark eyes take in Hampton standing before him.

He shuts the door behind him, leaning heavily against it. His hand fumbles around the handle.

“Is there a lock?” – Seth

“What you worried about Seth?” – Hampton

“You alone?” – Seth

“No, but I trust the people I’m with” – Hampton

“Belial’s Brood (turns lock) I want out” – Seth

“You want out? (laughs) What got you in Seth?” – Hampton

Seth struggles to find the words

“How’d you find me here?” – Hampton

“Took me a while, but they know where you are, they know what you’re doing. They want you” – Seth

“No they don’t Seth, I really don’t think so” – Hampton

“They want you. All of you and I’m scared cousin, I’m really scared” – Seth

“Oh yeah?” – Hampton

“I was turned and I thought I could live forever, downside I have to drink blood but … small price you know? Tasted better than I expected. Fine. But then I found the book” – Seth

“Yeah, the book” – Hampton

“And the book, it led me to him, them and I’ve done things. I can’t go any further, I can’t do anymore. They want me… I’ve got to prove myself. I’ve got to do things. I can’t do that. All I want was a decent life, enough money to not worry, a couple of mil” – Seth

“Hey Seth, what they turn you to? What are you Seth?” – Hampton

“You know that itch that we all have?” – Seth

“Oh yeah” – Hampton

“Our sires they say don’t scratch too hard, don’t give in to it. They say don’t give in to your conscience. The conscience is evil to them. The ability to do things… one of them said… Azazel ‘do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the lore’” – Seth

Hampton finishes the sentence

“Quoting Crowley” – Hampton

Cross gets a good grip on a leg of a wooden chair and shifts position to see whats going on.

“I want out cousin, listen if you guys can get me out, I can give you the whole covey” – Seth

“Oh yeah?” – Hampton

“All of them. I know where they are… Can you get me out?” – Seth

“Come on cousin, look we all got a bum deal, huh? Look at me I was expecting the Mayfair life, I get bum rushed by some nigger bitch, how’s that huh? I know how you feel. It doesn’t work out how you expect” – Hampton, putting a hand on Seth’s shoulder

“Hampton, you have no idea” – Seth

“Yeah” – Hampton

“You were special to them, the nigger she stopped that, they can’t use you anymore. I don’t understand most of it but they can’t use you anymore” – Seth

Hampton snarls, using his grip on his cousin’s shoulder to dislocate his arm, pulling it round to his back, lifting him off his feet.

“He might have been followed, we should check” – Cross whispers to Foucault

Cross draws attention to the chair leg.

“We should be ready to take him down” – Cross

“(to Hampton) What the hell? We’re family” – Seth

Foucault steps out of the shadowy office.

“(to Seth) There is a woman I know, who is keen to meet you again” – Foucault, describing the ghost

“Listen, friend…” – Seth

“You’re going to meet the sun, fucker, if you don’t tell us everything you know” – Hampton’s face changing with his Monstrous Countenance

Foucault begins whispering in Seth’s ear the details about what the ghost wants to do with Seth Mayfair.

Cross steps out, watching the scene play out

Seth spills his guts, Mayfair feels a pang of remorse as he feels Seth’s body shake. It needs to be done… and he can’t help but feel a smug sense of satisfaction at breaking a Mayfair’s will.

Foucault draws out a switchblade marking a line of blood and flesh across Seth’s throat, smiling a little at the look of terror on Seth’s face. It helps to mask the stab of guilt he feels.

Cross walks up to the group inspecting his nails, looking around casually. There is a prickling heat in Cross’ Vitae as he approaches Seth.

“Hampton. Foucault. Ever heard the expression ‘more flies with honey’?” – Cross

“No” – Foucault

Hampton chuckles and turns his Monstrous Countenance on Cross.

“… when you’re done with him” – Cross, hands raised

Foucault backs away slowly

’Belial’s Brood are based at the Balkan House, in Mid City, they are all there’ – Seth

“Seth, you feel that? You feel a connection?” – Cross

“I feel my arm ripped out of my socket” – Seth, weeping dry tears

“Hampton, a moment please” – Cross

Hampton gives Cross his Monstrous Countenance again

“(to Hampton) Just relax, yeah? (to Seth) We’re brothers you and I, I want you to tell me about our mother” – Cross

“She comes on weak but she is strong buddy” – Seth

“I know” – Cross

“Don’t trust her” – Seth, whispering

Cross pushes Awe out

“She’s working with them, I don’t think she knows but she is. Her mind is Swiss cheese, full of holes. Don’t trust her” – Seth

“I appreciate the advice, got anything else to give me” – Cross

“What do you want?” – Seth, spellbound

“You’d better think quickly because they’re (indicating Hampton and Foucault) next. Lets try, the sire of Daniel Carver?” – Cross

“Some drifter, he came through, Embraced Carver and then disappeared. I don’t know his name. Daniel didn’t know his name!” – Seth

“Describe him” – Foucault

“I don’t KNOW. I wasn’t there” – Seth

“Rita Taylor” – Hampton

“I don’t know who Embraced her. I do know Donovan picked her up, she was round and about. Brought her into the Church. What about the other two?” – Seth

“Two?” – Cross

“Yeah in our covey there’s two more” – Seth

“You want to tell us who they are?” – Hampton

‘Abigail Beloche, she was Embraced by Nathaniel Blanch. She’s scary. The folks in Treme call her Mother Abigial, thinks she’s looking after them. She’s not. She’s building a cult. Then there’s Dr Abner. Abner Broadbank, he got done by Tobias Grout, he’s part of that secret Kindred society. Word is he is high up in it. The ones that were created by Dracula’ – Seth

“What?” – Cross, scornfully

“I can give you them all. They’re at the Balkan House, they’re performing a Vaudelaire ritual. I’m supposed to be there… someone got the time?” – Seth

Cross holds his watch out

Foucault remembers Marcus talking about an Abner Broadbank, as a poor student of Marcus’, a real ‘disappointment’.

“You’ve just got a stay of execution” – Hampton

“Really?” – Foucault

The coterie nod at each other. This canary has sung all it can sing.

“All yours guys” – Cross, walking away

Foucault slashes Seth across the throat before Hampton rams Seth’s head through the floorboards.

Blood trail

Foucault explains that the Sanctified don’t care about evidence it cares about justice. If Seth is handed over as Belial’s Brood, he will be publicly executed to prove Sanctified might. Cross points out that they can’t risk him giving the information they’ve been given. Foucault’s switchblade work served a good purpose severing Seth’s vocal chords.

Blood trail

Seth Mayfair gets staked and buried, Hampton ensures he gets the first shovel of dirt, chuckling to himself quietly

Blood trail

At a back alley dive in the French Quarter, Foucault pushes a chunk of dollars toward three negros, thin and in rough clothing they obviously need the money. On top of the dollars he puts a small folded piece of paper. The address for the Balkan house can be clearly seen.

Blood trail

Foucault leads the coterie to find Azazel. Using a combination of instinct and observations of occult graffiti they find themselves down an alleyway in Mid City, turning left and right and down stairs, through a buildings service entrance to an unmarked road with closed shops and shuttered buildings. All except the bookshop, the name long worn away by weather. The lights are on but the sign says ‘closed’.

Cross opens the door, a small bell rings above it. A young Creole boy, about 16 is asleep by the counter. The shop is lit by oil lamps.

The books are stacked on the floor and on tables some reaching as high as the ceiling. Amid this labyrinth of occult literature, in a threadbare armchair sits Azazel. Foucault’s blood vibrates as it reacts to the blood sympathy between them.

Azazel sits in his chair, Civil War great coat thrown over his shoulders, his hair is bushy and thick, uncombed it reaches his shoulders, mutton chop sideburns stretch across his cheeks. A thick layer of dust sits over the Kindred’s clothes and hair. It looks like he hasn’t moved in 10 years.

His eyes open slowly, watching the coterie enter.

“Ah so, you are the ones Dimanche said to send. I bid you welcome” – Azazel

Foucault takes in the aura of Azazel. It is clear he is lying or hiding something

“What would you care to know about the Brood of Belial” – Azazel

Hampton wanders the bookshop, tutting at the poorly kept books, the entire bookshop is made up of occult literature from glib spiritualist texts through his rare, first edition books on demonology and Gnostic lore.

Hampton grows angry at the condition of some of these rare works, the Beast claws at his brain. He can feel his fangs extend in his mouth, the sweet coppery taste of Vitae on his tongue.

“Is this an original printing? King James Demonology? Being stored in a musty pile? Frankly sir that is a revolting way to treat such a text” – Hampton

Azazel has been watching Hampton. His eyebrow raised. He shrugs at Hampton’s words, a cloud of dust is thrown into the air.

“My bookshop, you don’t like it, get out” – Azazel

Cross moves in between Azazel and Hampton holding his hand out.

“Of ocourse our mutual friend would have clued you in to certain details of our task” – Cross

“Mmmhmm… I repeat, what do you want to know?” – Azazel

“As much as you have available my friend, as much as you can give us that can help us with this task” – Cross

“Stop your Daeva charm… they accentuate the pneuma, the spirit, the Godhead, that part which is eternal and constantly seeks to realise its potential, the will to an end. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the lore. They believe that the material is immaterial, it is of little consequence so the traditional vices (winks at Cross) Greed, Gluttony, Lust and Wrath mean nothing. What matters is Pride, Envy… Sloth. I would suggest you hit the books to understand what you are dealing with. I must insist on direct questions, I could talk for eons about the Brood.” – Azazel

“Does Belial’s Brood believe the Devil really exists?” – Foucault

“They believe more than that. Have you accepted Christ as your saviour?” – Azazel

“I remain agnostic” – Foucault

“(to Hampton) How about you?” – Azazel

""I’ve never given the question much thought" – Hampton

“He’s certainly the poster boy for humanity and we’re not human” – Cross

“Exactly! We are not human, for us we would need a figure the opposite of the Christ. The question I asked is a useful frame of reference to understanding the Brood. They believe that the Anti-Christ ‘Belial’, has been once before, like Christ but unlike Christ he was not a model of chastity, no he rutted and his bloodline continues till today. The Brood believe a mortal not a vampire will usher in what Judeo-Islamic-Christianity believes is the End of Days” – Azazel

Azazel lets the information sink in before continuing

“There are bloodlines of the Devil spread throughout Christendom (chuckles to himself) and they seek to bring these bloodlines to their birthright, numbering now in the hundreds of thousands. Quite a scary thought…” – Azazel

“What can you tell me about demons of lust?” – Foucault

“If you can you should. Next question?” – Azazel

Cross gives Foucault a strange look while Foucault can’t help grin at Azazel’s words.

“If I was interested in saving some of these unfortunates from their mouldering tomb, do they meet for sessions of… study?” – Hampton

“They come to N’Awlins for Mardi Gras, why do they come?” – Foucault

“To run havoc on Carnivale one presumes” – Hampton

“That is the traditional view of the Brood but I believe there is a rite of initiation that is central to progress in the Brood. Normally, they come, raise some hell and some horrendous things in the eyes of outsiders but most Kindred don’t appreciate or believe they are always here” – Azazel

“Are they merely adverse to showing themselves?” – Hampton

“(nodding) Everywhere” – Azazel

“You seem to know a lot about this, you must have studied extensively” – Cross

“I have read ans I have spoken to people, forgive me if I can’t give name… on the subject of names do you know where the name Azazel comes from?” – Azazel

“I believe it is one of the fallen angels with Lucifer in Paradise Lost?” – Foucault

“You are correct but a more detailed response would be he was the teacher, giving the arts and crafts to the kine and became Damned for it. Given my current condition it seemed appropriate; I’m here, always, to answer questions”- Azazel

“A fine choice for a non de pleume I’m sure” – Hampton

“If there is nothing more” – Azazel

“Given the stage of our investigation that can’t be guaranteed” – Hampton

“How far are you with your investigation?” – Azazel

“We’ve got nothing” Jacob, storming out the front door bell ringing madly

“Could you recommend a text for research?” – Foucault pulling out his money clip

“I have just the thing. It was written by Papa Iblis, the infamous vodoun bokor” – Azazel

“Why that would be the founder of the house of the Rising Sun would it not” – Hampton

“Not quite, it was his house and then became the Rising Sun after his disappearance” – Azazel

Azazel stands and starts looking for the book.

“There is an interesting prophecy in there that relates a little to the Brood” – Azazel

Azazel hands over a small, leather bound journal, it feels warm to Foucault’s touch

Blood trail

When the coterie get to the car, Foucault reads the prophecy aloud:

“When the Unholy one walks the Crescent,
and the idealist slays the righteous
and the Beast stalks the streets
and the Unconquered are beaten
Then may the fair child of the 7th generation
In the district where tales are told
Find a birthright
And the Heavens will wail and weep”

The coterie know that the Unholy one refers to the infamous Kindred bogeyman, the Unholy. Cross knows that another name for the Invictus is the Unconquered. Hampton realises that the ‘may the fair child’ probably refers to the Mayfair family and that the ‘district where tales are told’ could mean the demolished district of Storyville. Foucault tells the others that the children of the 7th generation is an old term for the Devil’s bloodline.

Worried about Seth’s involvement with the prophecy they resolve to execute him in front of the Prince, at Perfido House, a 20 story black stone building in the center of New Orleans where Prince Vidal holds court.

Blood trail

They were taken up to the 12th floor where Prince Vidal, Philip Maldonato and Donovan were waiting. Donovan was furious to Cross and Hampton, glaring at them. They felt a wave of deja vu.

To Foucault’s memory though Donovan appeared to be smiling broadly. Prince Vidal, Spanish, with slicked back hair, vibrant blue eyes and a neatly clipped Van Dyke beard exuded power.

Maldonato had a Moorish cast and was heavily built with an understated tailored suit. He nodded at the coterie as they entered but remained silent for their short interview.

They threw Seth Mayfair down to his knees in front of Vidal. He was impressed, telling them they had won a small domain for their sires. They received a formal thanks on behalf of the city for bringing justice to this foul plague of heresy.

“Are you sure there are no more” – Vidal had asked

“If we can uncover any more, we will bring them to you to dispense justice” – Foucault had answered

“That would be most appreciated” – Vidal

“Sheriff, would you care to take this Kindred’s head off to showcase that prodigious strength of yours?” – Hampton had asked, offering the muddied spade he carried

“That, is very kind of you” – Donovan had replied

In a blur of motion Donovan had scissored Seth Mayfair’s head off with two blades that had appeared from nowhere.

Seth Mayfair’s body had crumpled to the floor, it and his head had quickly decomposed, a scream frozen on his face.

‘Donovan… please. Clear that up’ – Vidal had asked, ending the interview

Blood trail

Back in the interrogation cell, Donovan leans forward

“Why was this found in Maldonato’s hands?”

He throws a small, leather bound book at Hampton Mayfair. It hits him in the face and lands open on the table, the pages fall like leaves, resting on the page with the prophecy.

Codex

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