Dead of Night: Tales from the Big Easy

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Elysium is held at Loyla University in Riverbend, ‘The Most Holy Name of Jesus Christ’, a small crumbling church, shrouded in the frosty mist that originates from the Mississippi. The whole neighbourhood seems encrusted in ice and frozen water.

The coterie climbs the steps of the church, the building hunched as if in embarrassment, shrinking against the surroundings of its academic neighbourhood. Its spire is an impotent finger signalling towards a God that perhaps, does not exist.

Outside the doors, the coterie’s sires wait for them with a stranger. A mortal. A young man, dark skinned and dressed in black. He greets them by name, solemnly shaking hands. He introduces himself as ‘Alberto’… Prince Vidal’s assistant.

“You may sit with your sires or as neonates you can sit at the back with the lesser of the Embraced” – Alberto, bowing and leaving

Foucault decides to sit at the back, receiving a nod of approval from his sire Marcus.

Cross refuses to leave his protective stance of his sire Valentine whilst Hampton decides to sit at the ‘high table’ with his estranged sire, Gabrielle.

Cross takes Valentine by the hand and leads her to her seat, becoming engulfed into the upper crust of Invictus society, although they are segregated into White Invictus and Black Invictus. Despite his muted skin tones, Cross sits with Valentine amongst the Black Invictus.

Hampton sits uncomfortably with Gabrielle, who has lifted her veil revealing the shifting network of scars on her face. Her white eyes stare ahead unfocused.

Foucault takes a row at the back watching Marcus sit with a small group of Kindred somewhere in the centre.

The ceiling is domed, stained glass surrounds the small group of the Damned. The Church is cold, even with their dead flesh the Kindred feel the bite of winter.

Valentine stands and leans over one of the pews to talk to another Kindred that sends a shiver of fear down Cross’s spine. Tall and finely dressed in an archaic suit, the Kindred sports a pencil thin mustache and thick eyebrow. His hair is greased black hair with a severe parting. Valentine introduces him as Rhett Carver.

Cross gets a tingle in his blood, the blood sympathy is strong between them. Cross inclines his head but keeps his mouth shut.

“Rhett has an offer that I think we should talk about. He says he can provide anything we want from the French Quarter as long as we stay out of it. He is Unconquered like the rest of us but I thought… I need… your opinion” – Valentine

“Well Ma’am, I’m sure that you’re opinion would have more weight of experience but I’m sure as Mr Carver has been kind to come to us that we should entertain the idea. Perhaps I might be able to confer with my fellow neonates?” – Cross

“Well if you really need to confer with neonates I don’t think that we need to talk Valentine. I appreciate you involving your childe in the discussion but if it really needs to be passed around the lesser Embraced perhaps we can’t do business” – Rhett

“Sir I have the utmost respect for you and our great order and I…” – Cross

“(Interrupting) No Valentine. I believe you’re wrong. This one doesn’t belong with us (to Cross) My apologies. Please continue Mr Cross” – Rhett

Blood trail

A Kindred with an unlit cigar breaks from the huddle of the Invictus and walks purposefully towards Hampton

“You’re a Mayfair, aren’t you?” – Cigar chomping Kindred

“How very perceptive of you sir” – Hampton

“I can tell fine breeding when I see it. Do you mind if we talk for a moment over yonder?” – Cigar chomping Kindred

“Not at all sir, after you” – Hampton, following

When the two are out of sight of the gathering, the Kindred grabs Hampton by the lapels and throws him against the wall.

“Stay away from your family” – Cigar chomping Kindred

Blood trail

Foucault sits quietly and patiently, watching the circumstances of Elysium. A grim voice from behind disturbs him.

“If you want to know the truth Foucault, I’ve left a card underneath your chair. Don’t look now. Wait until after the service. Do you understand? Pick up a prayer book if you do” – Voice

Foucault picks up a prayer book, leafing through it casually.

‘I think you might be one to watch out for Mr Foucault. We’ve met before. Blanch. Nathaniel Blanch’ – Voice

Blood trail

Hampton clamps down on his Beast not flinching from the other Kindred’s stare, for a fleeting moment his mind pictures in vivid detail the Kindred before him strung up and being beaten with a stick, with a whip, with bare hands. The Duvalier Codex weighs heavily in his breast pocket for a moment.

Hampton pushes Vitae into his dead muscles before forcibly removing the Kindred’s grip from his lapels.

The Kindred looks surprised and slightly worried

“You might think I have become a Worm since my Embrace sire, but Mayfairs have a fair amount of steel to them” – Hampton

“The only thing that’s protecting you ‘Mayfair’ is the fact you ain’t a nigger. You want to come back at that… boy?” – Cigar chomping Kindred

Hampton sneers at the Kindred

“Stay away from the family, if you know whats good for you” – Cigar chomping Kindred, poking a cigar into Hampton’s pocket.

Blood trail

“Mr Carver, what exactly are you offering us?” – Cross

“I’ll give you control over the area that is rightfully mine. As long as you stay out of it.” – Rhett

The Prince has already given us control’ – Cross

‘And Antoine Savoy has given me control. It all depends on who you doff your cap to sir’ – Rhett

“Are you seriously suggesting the Prince is on the same playing field as Mr Savoy?” – Cross

“It depends on your point of view. I wouldn’t get angry if I was you” – Rhett

“I’m not angry. I’m just trying to make my way in this strange new world” – Cross

“And doing a fine job, If I may say so myself. Although Valentine, I really don’t think he is one of us” – Rhett

“Mistress, perhaps if you could share the benefit of your experience with this Kindred before I make any decisions” – Cross

“I…I…I… if we want to think about it then I’m sure Rhett will be happy with that” – Valentine, pushing out with Majesty to sway her sire

Rhett inclines his head

“I’ll give you 24 hours Valentine, seeing as you was always my favourite” – Rhett

“Thank you Mr Carver” – Cross, nodding his head leading Valentine away

At the front of the church, Philip Maldonato claps his hands loudly. He stands in front of the altar.

“My friends, we have come here in the light of our Almighty God, thanks to the patronage of our Dark Prophet Longinus. Please take your seats” – Maldonato

Everyone sits. For the first time all evening Gabrielle turns to Hampton as he takes his seat and speaks.

“Mayfair. I know I’ve been very hard on you. There are two things, with what is about to happen, that you need to remember. Tribulation brings enlightenment, and pain is simply… a memory” – Gabrielle

Pieces of paper are subtly passed along the pews. A rough flyer advertising riverboat gambling, the flyer promises free entry. The coterie notice Coco Duquette, a stunningly beautiful Mekhet and a known advocate of the Carthian Movement smiling at them. Its clear that this is an invite to a Carthian event.

Foucault looks around and notices the auras of certain Kindred seem to be eaten into as if something was feeding or leaching on the aura.

“Prince Augusto Vidal” – Maldonato

Prince Vidal rises from prayer behind the altar and walks towards the congregation. He throws his arms open

“Seeing that Christ was dead, the soldiers did not break his legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out. A drop of Christ’s blood fell upon the soldier’s lips, and he wiped it away with his hand. Yet the next day, he slept past the sunrise, and roused from his slumber only at nightfall. And after tasting Christ’s blood, he thirsted for more. These were the words of Longinus, who revealed Christ’s divinity and revealed our place as wolves among the mortal flock. You, now, must take your place among us, the Sanctified.” – Vidal, fangs extending and piercing his lips, blood trickling down his chin

Foucault and Cross half heartedly echo the response “We are the Grandeur. We are the Sanctified”

A few faces look back at Hampton and his lack of the rote response. Their attention is caught by an altar of metal and wood, pushed forward to the raised area. A naked man is strapped to the altar. He is awake and aware, his mouth is gagged. The altar tips him forwards, head lowered and feet in the air.

“This is a reminder of our purpose. The Damned serve as the sign to humanity of the price of sin, and to make mortals fear and to understand that their lives are brief and full of pain, and they can only see the most pitiful reflection of the glories of Heaven, for they do not see clearly, but see as if through a blurred mirror, and the Damned do not see through the mirror at all. And it is the lot of the Damned to take the blood of mortals, that mortals might know that they will die, and that their only salvation is in the next life. And it is your lot to go and give this message to all of the Damned, that they might know God’s purpose for them and rejoice.” – Vidal

The naked man’s neck and wrists are slashed with long knives by the gathered priests. The blood is collected in golden chalices and offered to the congregation by the priests.

With the exception of Hampton, the coterie decide to take the blood offered. It is clear that although there might be slight stigma attached to drinking or not drinking, at the end of the night, blood is blood.

Hampton stifles the whine of his hungry Beast with his refusal to drink.

A curtain drops behind Vidal. On metal crosses there are two Kindred bound. A young man, looking like a student with dead eyes and a mop of dirty blonde hair. The other is a 16 year old girl, eyes terrified. Both have their tongues removed, only capable of making guttural sounds. The coterie recognise the descriptions of Daniel Carver and Rita Taylor, the two other members of Belial’s Brood that were on their hit list.

Vidal claps his hands and a wave of applause echoes round the church. Over the claps Vidal congratulates Donovan, Sheriff of New Orleans for tracking down the heretics to the Sanctified faith. He refers to the coterie’s sires as assisting ably but the coterie are not mentioned.

The coterie resist their Beast’s anger at being snubbed, refusing to embarrass themselves or their sires.

The doors of church fly open and Donovan enters, flanked by three burly ghouls, their mouths stitched shut, holding chains.

They spread out as Donovan stalks down the central aisle. He announces that Primogen Dimanche has been murdered. The three ghouls move towards the coterie’s sires

Donovan turns to face the congregation at the front of the church, clearly reveling in this moment of complete attention

‘The suspects are Valentine Delacroix, Gabrielle Deco and Marcus’ – Donovan

The ghouls move fast, clapping the sires in chains. Maldonato waves his hand indicating to his own thralls, hidden in shadow and flawlessly anonymous, to do the same to the coterie. Donovan raises his hand pushing out his Majesty with full force over the audience

“Wait” – Donovan

Everyone freezes

“These neonates should have the opportunity to clear their sire’s names if they are to suffer their sire’s fate” – Donovan

Foucault and Cross realise that the sins of their sires still fall on them. They are under a sentence of Final Death but Donovan… has given them a reprieve

Valentine and Marcus are dragged out of the church. Gabrielle and Hampton are pushed to the front of the church

“Be strong Hampton. Be very very strong” – Gabrielle

Hampton grabs a hold of his Beast as the priests on the raised area slit their wrists. The Vitae drops from their arms, coiling into solid, blood red lengths of whip

Gabrielle takes Hampton’s hand and they walk forward together. They are chained to the metal crosses, backs facing the congregation

“Look on St Peter” – Gabrielle

The clothes are ripped to shreds exposing bare flesh. Gabrielle looks at Hampton sympathetically, a wry smile on her face.

“St Peter” – Gabrielle

Hampton realises that St Peter is also known as Papa Legba in Vodoun… Loa of the Crossroads and Guardian of the Spiritual Realm

A crack of the whip strikes Hampton, a blinding flash of pain covers his vision. He sees a crossroads on a dusty plain.

Another crack of the whip, the flash covers his vision again. To the left of the crossroads is a dark place lit with fires without heat. On the right is the rising sun, peering over the horizon. Ahead the path is blocked with whips, scourges and chains rising from the ground.

A third crack of the whip strikes Hampton. He becomes aware of a presence behind him.

“Hampton, you had yourself a destiny, the destiny was on the left path” – Papa Legba

A hand enters Hampton’s field of vision. Wrinkled and tanned but oddly youthful, full of vigor. It points to the left hand path.

“That there is not your destiny now. You have a choice. You have already heard the Call but do you answer it?” – Papa Legba

The hand drifts to point to the right

“That is the path of righteousness and let me tell you that is forever beyond your reach” – Papa Legba

A fourth crack of the whip causes Hampton to writhe in agony, dead nerves firing memories of pain. The statue of St Peter seems to turn its head to look straight at Hampton. A blood red tear falls from his eye, rolling down alabaster cheeks.

In his vision, Hampton drops to his knees. Two hands cup his cheeks

Hampton. Do you choose the path of darkness, where everything you ever wanted could be yours but at the price of you. Or the path of suffering and understanding? You will be scourged, you will be beaten, you will be scarred. But ahead you will see the truth. Answer me now Hampton.’ – Papa Legba

The hands seem to burn as the lift Hampton from his feet, hanging in mid air.

In the church Hampton is lifted out of body, looking down on all. He sees Marcus looking straight at him, eyes intrigued. He sees Foucault and Cross’s concern for their coterie mate.

The whip falls again, Hampton loosing his footing.

At the crossroads Hampton’s vision is obscured by Papa Legba an old man on a crutch, wearing a broad brimmed straw hat and smoking a pipe. His lined face floats in front of Hampton’s.

CHOOSE” – Papa Legba, shouting

“I will walk your path of whips and chains” – Hampton

Blood trail

A curtain drops behind Vidal. On metal crosses there are two Kindred bound. A young man, looking like a student with dead eyes and a mop of dirty blonde hair. The other is a 16 year old girl, eyes terrified. Both have their tongues removed, only capable of making guttural sounds.

With the congregation focused on the bound Kindred, Cross decides its time to get some truths from Valentine. He concentrates his will, forcing her to open up to him truly. For the first time.

Valentine shifts on the pew and turns to look at Cross.

‘Your Embrace wasn’t my idea Jacob. Did you know that? I don’t regret it but it wasn’t my idea. It was Donovan’s. The Sheriff. He said that you’d be coming to my house, after he rose me from torpor. After his betrayal 50 years ago, the Invictus ridiculed me. I couldn’t move in society without some taunt or jibe following me. My allies deserted me and my friends didn’t want to know me. Torpor was the only honourable option open to me. An escape from the jibes and a chance to salvage what was left of my dignity. But you weren’t the first Jacob, Donovan asked me to Embrace Seth Mayfair. The power of the blood bond was not something I could control, resist. So I did. When he disappeared I was surprised, when he turned out to be one of the Brood, I was hurt.’

Cross makes soothing noise, internally his mind whirls.

“What of the others? Were they chosen by Donovan too?” – Cross

‘I don’t know Jacob. Gabrielle Embraced Mayfair on the instruction of the Baron, that much I do know. Foucault was Embraced by Marcus because Marcus wanted something. It was part of the deal with Dimanche. He’s related to Marcus. Did you know that? He brokered the deal. The Brood for the domain and a chance to claw back some political collateral and our re-entry into Kindred society. Did you know that Abner Broadbank was a student of Marcus’ before he disappeared? He was sent on some kind of investigation by Marcus into the Rising Sun. That was where he was last seen. Broadbank is trying to push your buttons. The Brood is trying to intimidate you’ – Valentine

Valentine bows her head.

’It’s always wise to have an out Jacob. I know the others must have thought of ways to destroy me so I in turn have worked out the weaknesses of my former coterie mates. Marcus’ weakness is not in politics. He doesn’t care about his standing. Its his sire, Foucault’s grand sire, that is his weakness. He is desperate to find out what happened to him after he disappeared following a falling out with the secret society. Gabrielle is now more powerful than she has ever been both physically and politically. You would need help, most likely from the Church. She is Circle of the Crone, Nosferatu and has made enemies. Show that she has blasphemed not only in her beliefs but in her actions, the entirety of the Kindred court will fall upon her. Not even an elder can withstand that. To destroy me Jacob all you have to do is ruin my reputation with the Unconquered. I’m hanging on by a thread anyway and if that thread would be cut… I don’t know what I would do.’

The doors of church fly open and Donovan enters, flanked by three burly ghouls, their mouths stitched shut, holding chains.

They spread out as Donovan stalks down the central aisle. He announces that Primogen Dimanche has been murdered. The three ghouls move towards the coterie’s sires

Donovan turns to face the congregation at the front of the church, clearly reveling in this moment of complete attention

‘The suspects are Valentine Delacroix, Gabrielle Deco and Marcus’ – Donovan

Valentine is dragged from her feet, bound and chained by ghouls. Valentine struggles near the exit, coiling the chains around her arms and pulling them off their balance. She screams.

“Jacob. I’m sorry, I was the one who told Donovan about your family” – Valentine is pulled back by the ghouls

Jacob stands, the shock on his replaced by anger and he leaps at his sire. spitting blood. Immediately the back rows of Kindred society fall on Jacob, restraining him in his frenzy. Cross snarls and spits in impotent rage. Valentine weeps blood whispering “I’m so sorry” as she is dragged out.

The cold bodies of Kindred society leave Jacob on his knees in the middle of the aisle. He is unaware of Hampton’s flogging, he is unaware of the rank and file walk past him laughing and joking at his expense. The Elysium is over.

Down at the front is a small smattering of applause, a crowd of Harpies clusters around Donovan congratulating him on orchestrating such an impressive display, all for the amusement of the jaded court.

A smell of old dust fills Cross’ nostrils, a flowery cotton dress faded with time, brushes against Cross’ shoulder and a steely hand grips his arm lifting him to his feet. Primogen Pearl Chastain. Priscus of the Daeva glares at him.

“Get up Mr Cross. Give our Sheriff not the satisfaction” – Chastain

Jacob nods, his head bowed.

“If you wish to get even with our Sheriff…” – Chastain, handing over a faded, embossed card

“But for God’s sake pull yourself together. We’re dead.” – Chastain

Cross slumps next to Foucault as Elysium clears and the ghouls begin to clear up. Hampton grabs the closest ghoul.

“A walking cane, if you’d be so kind” – Hampton, through gritted teeth

The ghoul scurries off.

Jacob pats his pockets. Foucault offers a cigarette. Cross takes three.

“That could have gone better” – Cross, lighting up

“It could have gone worse” – Foucault

“How” – Cross

Foucault nods towards the figure of Hampton sitting at the front of the church, slumped over, conspicuously bleeding.

Cross and Foucault both notice that something is different about Hampton. Foucault notes that his aura is exceptionally bright and vibrant, rather than the typical faded Kindred aura. It seems like something is ‘with’ Hampton.

Hampton limps down the aisle, cane in hand. His suit is in tatters

“Lets call a cab, take him home” – Foucault

Hampton approaches, Cross and Foucault are slightly unnerved by the fact that Hampton’s eyes are now pure white.

“Bad luck ol’ boy” – Cross

“Worse things have happened. Worse things might still happen. I’d be powerful grateful if some one could fix me a drink.” – Hampton

“We need to talk somewhere more discreet” – Cross

“Lets do that” – Foucault, standing to leave

“Foucault. What were you in life?” – Cross

“I bought and sold goods. Made deals” – Foucault

“You were a person of influence?” – Cross

“You might say that” – Foucault

“Can you keep my family safe? I’ll owe you big time” – Cross

“Donovan, he’s a real piece of work.” – Foucault

“Yeah. Yeah, he is” – Cross

“Maybe gentlemen, here is no place to talk” – Hampton, indicating Donovan down the front of the church

Jacob leads the way out of the Church. Donovan’s voice is clear as he shouts after them.

“I’ll keep the crime scene clear for the next couple of days. At some point though it will need to be cleaned up” – Donovan

Foucault’s driver is waiting. Cross instructs Marcel to drive to the French Quarter, a particular road he knows that are frequented by professionals. As they crawl along the dark road Cross leans out and whistles softly at a woman shivering in the cold, smoking a cigarette.

“Hey baby, want to go to a party?” – Cross

“I love to party” – the woman walks over

“We’ll need two of your friends to come with us” – Cross

“Sure” – woman, calling over two others

“Hop in” – Cross, opening the door

Hampton leers at the women hungrily.

Foucault tells Marcel to drive to the Grand Palace Hotel. Cross does the talking, putting the three at their ease, despite Hampton’s creepy attempts at being a gentleman.

Blood trail

Foucault gives instructions to Marcel to get Hampton some new clothes.

“I will sort that out for you sir” – Marcel, licking his dry lips

Foucault pulls him to one side and gives him a taste of Vitae from his veins.

Hampton grabs the wrists of two of the prostitutes and drags them into the building

“Obviously we haven’t completed the renovations on the building but the Mayfair family has seen the potential. I’m sure you can see it too. Lets go upstairs” – Hampton

Cross has his prostitute against the wall and whispers in her ear

“Tonight your name will be Talya” – Cross

“Fine sugah, I’ll be whoever you want me to be” – prostitute

“Go and take a bath” – Cross

“Sure honey” – the prostitute follows Hampton and the others up the stairs

Foucault and Jacob walk slowly after them

“If you want your family safe, it would be best if I use my connections in the natural world. The safest thing is if they move to another city… if Donovan should find out where they are” – Foucault

“How am I going to explain this? Is my son going to understand?” – Cross

From upstairs there two brief, heavy thuds. Followed by singing.

Foucault shrugs and this reaction cools Cross on the surface. He begins to relay the information he has found out through Valentine’s confession in a dull, dispassionate voice

“I don’t care if she is convicted or not” – Cross

“And share her fate Jacob” – Hampton emerges from the gloom, patting his lips with a soil laden handkerchief

“Perhaps a better way would be to look at it is as any sense of obligation you might have felt for her in the past is now void so from here on in we can use her for our own ends” – Foucault

“And this is how we use her” – Cross, explaining on how they can sell her out to the Invictus for status

“Perhaps once we are more established” – Foucault

“I’m talking ground work here Foucault” – Cross

“What I would suggest is that, like it or not our main source of protection is our sires. If we attack one of them, perhaps they’ll all turn on us. Its an ace we need to keep a hold of until we play it” – Foucault

“You seem more used to these circles, Foucault, I’ll follow your lead” – Cross

Cross leaves and enters the bathroom, feeding sparingly leaving her dazed in the Kiss. Cross ensures her head is above the waterline.

“Hampton. You want to finish her off?” – Cross, not looking at Hampton

“I’m replete thank you very much” – Hampton

Marcel returns with suits and a change of clothes for the coterie. Foucault instructs him to take care of their guests and then at a payphone at the Nite Owl phones Al Carrollo to deal with Cross’ problem. They talk for a few minutes going over details for Rebecca and Tommy’s relocation to Baton Rouge. He stresses they must be moved during the day.

“Forget about it” – Al says before ringing off

Foucault taps his fingers against the phone after hanging up. He pulls out Blanch’s car and dials.

“The address is on the card, my office is available for a meeting” – Blanch

Blood trail

The coterie pass through an empty secretary’s office into a low lit smoky den that is a weird clash of cultures. Its a typical private eye’s office; filing cabinets, hat stand with trilby and long coat. A big desk take sup the most of the room. not a thing of beauty, marred by knocks, scrapes and chips. Even a dried bloodstain down one leg. A faded green blotting pad lurks under newspaper detritus and a telephone, covered in dust. Its clearly been used recently but not often by any stretch of the imagination. The bay window is open wide, the night air from Esplanade Ridge mixes with the flashing neon signs of the bars and restaurants. Nathaniel Blanch leans back in his chair, watching the coterie take in his ‘office’, not saying a word, a wry knowing smile half hidden by an unkempt goatee.

The other part of the office is decorated with images, charms and artifacts of Native American origin. An ancient totem pole dominates one corner of the room from floor to ceiling.

Hampton is fascinated with this relic of a dying culture. He runs his walking cane along it, sensing the spiritual energy thrumming through it. There is power here.

“Welcome friends, if you care to make yourselves comfortable I believe we will have a conversation” – Blanch

“You are a most surprising man, sir. A pleasure to make your acquaintance.” – Hampton

“And a pleasure to make yours Mr Hampton Mayfair the Third” – Blanch, standing to shake Hampton’s hand

“There’s not many people with he courtesy to refer to me by my full title. Thank you for the kindness” – Hampton

“Mr Foucault, thank you for coming at such short notice. I appreciate bringing not only yourself but the other members of your coterie.” – Blanch

“I thought that maybe you had got wind of what happened” – Foucault

‘I had no idea that Mr Dimanche, poor bastard, had met Final Death’ – Blanch

“Interesting so why did you want to meet us?” – Foucault

‘Word reached me that you were tasked with finding the Brood of Belial and I thought it my responsibility that you know the truth of what it is exactly that you are dealing with’ – Blanch

“Truth is always useful” – Foucault

“And a rare commodity in our society wouldn’t you say sir?” – Blanch

Foucault thinks of what to say mumbling assent. Blanch’s eyes turn to the distracted Cross.

“Please excuse me. Jacob Cross isn’t it?” – Blanch, reaching out his hand

“A pleasure sir. Anyone drinking that?” – Cross, indicating a bottle of scotch on the desk

Blanch nods pulling the cork out with his teeth and tipping a glass of pencils out, fills the glass with the amber liquid

Cross’ face flushes as he up ends the glass

“I tell you what my friend, I’ll join you” – Blanch, pulls a glass from the drawer

“Much obliged” – Cross, pouring another glass

“Now we have the formalities out of the way and before I start my yarn, I warn you all a Kindred of my age is prone to talking, is there anything you wish to ask me?” – Blanch

“I’d be particular interested, sir in finding out when it was the Brood first came to inhabit this city? Perhaps you remember the date itself?” – Hampton

‘The year escapes me but it was an interesting time, St Dominique what you now call Haiti was under some kind of revolution and the Baron graced our presence’ – Blanch

“He came from there?” – Hampton

‘Aye he did. He believes he is the reincarnation or some such of Baron Samedi, the Vodoun loa of Death. Personally I’m more of a grounded kind of guy, I don’t hold much truck with all that but each to his own and if it brings power and prosperity and so on, good luck to him but it was also at that time that a nasty piece of work arrived at our shores called Papa Iblis, Daeva, like yourself (nodding towards Cross), nasty, very nasty.’ – Blanch

“Well I …” – Hampton

“And I believe it was then that the Brood of Belial did first arrive in N’Awlins” – Blanch, nodding sagely

“Now what is the chance that Papa Iblis is still operational in this fair city?” – Hampton

“Now that Hampton Mayfair the Third is a very pertinent question. He caused all kinds of ruckus in N’Awlins, all kinds of ruckus. As far as I was aware he worshiped Kalfou, that’s the loa of bad luck and misfortune, voodoo doll and all that hoodoo, not a nice fella, not a nice fella. So, anyway… I forget myself what did you ask me again?” – Blanch

“I was wondering if, in the intervening years, sir he ever had the chance to…” – Hampton

“Oh that’s right, whether Papa Iblis was still alive. Well, word on the street, you know what that’s like, you can buy it for 10 cents these days… is that he’s dead, gone, disappeared, ‘pfft’. He lived up at that house. The Rising Sun folks call it now a days. That was his mansion.” – Blanch

“Surely, I know it sir” – Hampton

“He set himself up there and got himself a hoop load of nigger slaves and hoopla. Lived like a king, lived like a king. Heap load of foul practices went on there, including human sacrifice and I know we all know what human sacrifice really means… I digress” – Blanch

“So what was Papa Iblis?” – Foucault

“He was a bokor, vodoun heebie jeebie sorcerer” – Blanch

The coterie look puzzled. Foucault in particular is a little non-plussed with Blanch’s answer.

“You have to clarify your question a little son” – Blanch

“Vampire?” – Foucault

“Oh shit yeah” – Blanch

“He came from St Dominique as well. Now I remember there was heap big trouble, if ya know what I mean, between him and Baron Cimitiere, now the Baron he’s a strange sort, Nosferatu like yourself (indicating Hampton) but his beliefs don’t quite sit well with mine. I believe in the power of the land, the power of the spirits and the power of the Great Spirit. But there was heap big trouble, heap big trouble. Basically there was a division, straight down the line and is my want as go to man in our covenant to solve some these tribulations I was bound to try and help. Neither party wanted to hear what I has to say, pissed on my boots” – Blanch

“So what happened?” – Foucault

Blanch’s face darkens, his eyes lose their warmth replaced by a predatory glint

’You’d have to ask Baron Cimitiere ‘bout that. There was a meeting, a parley. Only one person walked out of that room. Only one person walked out of that room’ – Blanch

“Interesting” – Foucault

“This is where it does get interesting… I’m not boring you folks now am I?” – Blanch

The coterie mutter their interest.

“What was I talking about?” – Blanch

“Parley. A meeting. Only one person walked out the room” – Foucault

“That’s right. Papa Iblis” – Blanch

“Papa Iblis?” – Hampton

“Papa Iblis” – Blanch

“He came out that room?” – Hampton

“So what happened to Baron Cimitiere?” – Foucault

“He walked out the room. Papa Iblis did not walk out the room, until last year. Maybe” – Blanch

“Maybe? Is it possible he’s been sleeping beneath the earth for some time?” – Hampton

“Quite possibly” – Blanch

“So he was a diabolist? Belial’s Brood?” – Foucault

“He was all kinds of black son. And he was black” – Blanch

“Is there any way to bring a vampire back from the dead?” – Foucault

Blanch shakes his head slowly.

“Have you fellas heard of the prophecy?” – Blanch

“Surely we have sir, it seems to refer to my family in some small measure” – Hampton

“What doesn’t in this town?” – Cross, drunkenly

‘On that matter do you know a gentleman of this description?’ – Hampton, gives the description of the Invictus Kindred who accosted him in Elysium

‘Nasty piece of work, Pierpont McGinn that one. Invictus, he’s one of these new sort that believe you can solve everything with dollars and cents.’ – Blanch

“How new are we talking? Like us new?” – Cross

“Maybe a hundred, one twenty?” – Blanch

“Not us new” – Hampton

“He’s got an interest in my brother that maybe the normal Mayfair…” – Hampton

“Sebastian Mayfair, sorry to interrupt you there son but elders know best, word has reached me on the grapevine of his Embrace, sad piece of work, sad piece of work. Should have been you. Looks like you got the bum end of the stick there son, didn’t you?” – Blanch

“Life’s a bitch…” – Cross

“And then you marry one son” – Blanch

Cross stiffens. His hand clenches the glass so tightly that it starts to crack.

“Well sir, for my own part I find something intriguing in the prophecy of which you no doubt have uncovered before now…” – Hampton

“You know who wrote that prophecy son?” – Blanch

“No, I do not” – Hampton

“Papa Iblis himself” – Blanch

“Where does a Kindred get off writing his own prophecy?” – Hampton

“Not his own prophecy son, we’re talking the end of days” – Blanch

“Gehenna?” – Hampton

“That’s old news son. No one talks about Gehenna no more, we’re talking about Belial’s Brood, we’re talking about a man named Belial, this avatar, whatever you want to call it. He thought to propagate the world with his seed” – Blanch

“Seems a common drive” – Hampton

Nathaniel Blanch voice lowers, his smile fading

“Not when you’re Belial, not a common fella. The Brood believe that mixed in with the dregs of society is that the seed of Belial carries on. and that he is the one that taught our kind the Disciplines. A man mind you, not Kindred, how we do all the incredible things we do. He was a father of sorts, if you believe in what the Brood says, and by sowing his seed that seed will some day flower. Belial’s Brood believes that unlike the Christ, rather than one there will be many and what they want is to track lineages of the folk. Know much about gardening Hampton?” – Blanch

“I believe it is something you employ poor people and niggers to do” – Hampton

“Well one of the things about gardening is that when you cross one strain with another strain that has a certain quality, that quality gets stronger. And that’s exactly what Belials Brood does. They cross pollinate human kind, to find the seed of Belial. And that is what the prophecy entails” – Blanch

“So… he was a man” – Foucault

“He was a man. But he was not a man of a man. He was a man of a demon. Do you have any experience with demons Mr Foucault?” – Blanch

“I have limited experience” – Foucault

“Now I hope you don’t take this personally, but I’ll call you a liar” – Blanch

“Does it matter? I seem to be devolving into some kind of worm like creature” – Hampton

“Now we all devolve in some fashion. I have lost count of the number of innocents I have killed. And enjoyed killing. I never thought I’d be saying that when I helped lay the foundation of this city. But that is another story.” – Blanch

“One that I’d be honoured to hear if I may” – Hampton

“Perhaps another time” – Blanch

“What then sire is your interest in this prophecy?” – Hampton

‘If Papa Iblis is back, couple of questions need to be asked. What exactly did Baron Cimitiere do at that parley? What exactly is coming. Cos there’s all kinds of bad magic flying around these days. You take a good hard look at people. And when I say people, I don’t mean human kind of people, I mean our kind of people. Something’s got their hooks into our kind of people, feeding off them, all kinds of bad mojo’ – Blanch

“There did seem to be something at Elysium.” – Foucault

“Mmhmm. You saw it too. Heap big trouble” – Blanch

“Could you point us in the direction of what it might be?” – Foucault

“I can ask the spirits. See what they have to say. Though they have been a little reticent of late.” – Blanch

Cross, drunk, laughs. Blanch turns to stare at him.

“Let me see your palm son” – Blanch

Tracing the lines of Cross’ dead flesh, Blanch whistles

“Can I give you a word of advice?” – Blanch

“Yeah” – Cross

“Watch your wife” – Blanch

“You sonofa…” – Cross, on the verge of frenzying leaps across the room. Hampton succeeds in restraining him before he touches the elder.

“Quiet down about your damn wife” – Hampton

“Tank you son. If I may give you another word of advice Mr Cross, control your Beast otherwise it will control you” – Blanch

“I’ll bear that in mind” – Cross, through gritted teeth

“Pardon him. He can’t hold his whiskey” – Hampton

“I don’t care about any of this shit. Belials Brood, the Prophecy, whatever hoodoo is going on?” – Cross

“How do you expect to protect your damn wife when you’re staked out for the sun” – Hampton

“An important point. Let me make something clear…” – Blanch

Blanch launches himself across the desk, grabbing Cross by the throat and lifting him off his feet.

“You’re part of it. You should care” – Blanch

“How’d you do that sir? Is that just the benefit of age?” – Hampton

“I guess you’ll find out Mr Hampton Mayfair the Third. If there is nothing else you wish to know from me I believe our conversation is done” – Blanch, sitting back down

‘I want to talk about Donovan’ – Cross

“Don’t talk to me about that sack of shit Donovan” – Blanch

“That’s the answer I was hoping for. I want to hurt him, I want to hurt him bad” – Cross

“Well hose yourself down you little boy, isn’t it obvious he’s out of your league?” – Hampton

Donovan. Perish the day. Vidal does a good job on top, that Maldonato, he’s a righteous sonofabitch but Donovan is as slippery as an eel and not so nice to taste. I won’t cross Donovan, even though he’s younger than me, he’s a pipsqueak but he’s connected in all the right places. No one even knows where he came from, he just popped out the woodwork.’ – Blanch

“Whose his sire?” – Hampton

‘That is a very interesting question and there’s three people who’d know that answer. Donovan, Maldonato and Vidal. Now I don’t want to be the kind of person that says you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours but if you want my help, and I’m willing to give it, I want to meet with the Baron. He won’t talk to me’ – Blanch

“What you done to him?” – Cross

“Nothing” – Blanch

“Sure about that? How many times you been asleep?” – Cross

“I haven’t son. I haven’t” – Blanch

“Jesus” – Cross

“Not quite” – Blanch

‘Our sires have been accused of murdering Mr Dimanche. Can you help?’ – Foucault

“Poor sonofabitch” – Blanch

“Was he a friend of yours?” – Cross

“Mr Dimanche was not a friend of anyone, he had a lot of dirt on a lot of people” – Blanch

“So, who would potentially want him dead?” – Foucault

“Well what I hear was that Maldonato and him used to be real close, hand in glove, if you know what I mean. In recent times well… in actual fact in the past year, they’ve fallen out so possibly you need to talk to Maldonato himself. By the way I can’t help but notice the connection. You’ve been undead for about one year now I believe…” – Blanch

“That is correct” – Foucault

“All this shit kicked up about one year ago” – Blanch

“Wasn’t us” – Cross

“That Mr Cross is self evident” – Blanch

“Do we come across as amateurs?” – Cross

“Do you want the honest answer to that?” – Foucault

“Lets say you’re a little wet behind the tooth” – Blanch

Cross suddenly feels a wave of nausea. He pushes past the others of the coterie and starts vomiting in the bathroom.

“Apologies” – Foucault

“Pardon me for saying but you seem to be the only one with your head screwed on. The immediate priority I’d say is that you gotta get the noose from around your neck” – Blanch

“I couldn’t agree more” – Foucault

“So what you going to do about it?” – Blanch

’I’m interested to know about Mr Dimanche if you have anything?’ – Hampton

“He was friendly with Maldonato and they fell out in the last year but Mr Blanch doesn’t know why” – Foucault

‘That’s all I’m saying. One other thing though, word on the street and you know its not worth 10 cents, is that the only person that Dimanche couldn’t get any dirt on is our good sheriff’ – Blanch

“Makes sense” – Foucault

“Perhaps you’re next port of call should be Mr Donovan. If Donovan found out Dimanche found out something on him, in particular, who his sire was, where he came from, you might want to call that motive” – Blanch

“Yes, unfortunately we might struggle to get a fair hearing” – Foucault

“All you gotta do is engage the man in conversation an’ you been pretty good company so far” – Blanch

“And if we get Cimitiere in a meeting?” – Foucault

“I’ll be in your debt, and I’ll tell you what. As a lagniappe I’ll let you sit in on the meeting” – Blanch

“I have to confess I’d be interested in hearing what he has to say” – Foucault

“Course you would. Two elders talking that’s manna from heaven. But. If you don’t mind me. I have things to do” – Blanch

“Well it has been surprisingly pleasant experience to make your acquaintance” – Cross

“Don’t let the reputation of our kind precede me. Some of us are quite affable folk. Just don’t get in between me and what I want to feed on” – Blanch

“I’m grateful to you for not snapping my neck earlier” – CrossJacob Cross

“Anytime son. A pleasure for you coming round. Please treat this place as your own when I’m not around. There’s the door.” – Blanch

“Good evening” – Foucault

“Good night” – Blanch, closing the door behind them

The coterie walk down the corridor

“What a nice guy” – Cross

“For that very reason we shouldn’t trust him” – Foucault

Blood trail

The coterie return to their joint haven to discuss there next move. The conversation quickly turns to the prophecy. What they have worked out so far

The Unholy = Vampire bogeyman
The Crescent = New Orleans
Idealist = (possibly a diabolist)
Righteous = Maldonato
The Beast stalks the streets = (The vampiric Beast, the Beast of Revelations,
Gangrel)
The Unconquered = The Invictus
May the fair child = Mayfair child (supposed to be Hampton)
7th Generation = Spawn of the Devil
District where tales are told = Storyville
Heavens will wail and weep = Hurricane Katrina

One of the things that Hampton realises that the black man who threatened him was Papa Iblis

Blood trail

The next night the coterie manage to pull strings to see Maldonato. They meet him at Perfido House, the centre of Prince Vidal’s power in the CBD. The security in the building is unimaginable. They are led by Alberto through empty corridors and anonymous work spaces and are eventually deposited outside an office on the 12th floor.

They are called in by Maldonato who is just getting off the phone. There are three on the his neat and organised desk.

‘(on the phone) Very well then, release Marcus’ – Maldonato

Jacob whistles

“A real nice set up you’ve got here” – Cross

Maldonato hangs up the phone and inspects the three neonates before him.

“You wanted to speak to me. Please take a seat” – Maldonato

There are three simple chairs in front of the antique mahogany desk. Maldonato leans back in his padded leather chair, his back to two long swords in a display case, they point in opposite directions. The coterie sit.

“How can I help you? You have 5 minutes” – Maldonato

’We’re investigating the murder of Primogen Dimanche and we heard that last year you and he fell out’ – Foucault

“When did you last see him?” – Hampton

“Primogen Dimanche was a faithful and valued member of our church. His loss wounds me deeply.” – Maldonato

The coterie can tell Maldonato is telling the truth, holding back the emotion is hard for him. His Spanish accent is audible.

“This cannot go beyond these walls. You understand?” – Maldonato, standing to ensure the office door is shut

“Its our necks in the noose sir, frankly if it can help us understand the situation then obviously we’ll accord to your wishes” – Hampton

Maldonato inclines his head, he stalks back to his desk.

“I know I am under suspicion for Mr Dimanche’s fate but I can assure you and your sires that I did not kill him” – Maldonato

“We didn’t come here to accuse” – Cross

“The only… I’m sorry. Was I speaking?” – Maldonato

“My apologies” – Cross

‘The only person I was closer to than Mr Dimanche was our beloved Prince. He was a good friend. And a valued ally. The only thing that I can think that relates to this is that when our Sheriff was appointed I was not sure of who the Sheriff was. He came from Savoy’s court and as I’m sure you know, the Prince and MR Savoy are not on the best of terms. I gave Dimanche the task of finding out who Donovan was. I am sad to say he found this very difficult. This was a Kindred who knew a great many things about a great many people. If he didn’t know, he could find it out. This difficulty turned into an obsession. He did not neglect his duties, I don’t want to make that aspirtion. He certainly did not. But every free moment was spent looking at Donovan, who he was, where he came from, what was his relationship to Antoine Savoy? Was he a plant? Was he an agent provocateur? And 1 year ago, to this very day he told me he finally found a lead. He found something. He wouldn’t tell me what. And then the lead turned cold, our regular meetings became a memory and he became distant, he wouldn’t take my phone calls. He wouldn’t meet me in person’ – Maldonato

Maldonato turns his chair to look out the window at the deserted city below.

“So when did you actually see him last?” – Foucault

“6 months ago” – Maldonato

“Has anyone seen him?” – Foucault

“Unfortunately I was not privy to his schedule. Although I do know, as so many of become, he was a little obsessive. He kept track of everything, of everyone.” – Maldonato

“Although his body has been discovered. No ones actually seen him for 6 months?” – Foucault

“I simply say that I have not seen him” – Maldonato

“But potentially…” – Foucault

“Yes. If that is all your questions gentleman I must ask you to leave. I have duties to attend to. If you need further information. Here is my card” – Maldonato

He hands over a card

“I am most willing to have the matter resolved. I do believe your sires are innocent. However, the wheels of justice do turn. The facts so far are overwhelming” – Maldonato

Blood trail

At Sundown’s speakeasy, the place is jumping. The music from the jazz band vibrates in the chests of the coterie as they walk into the smoky bar. Sundown sits in a corner playing chess with himself, Donovan sits in a booth surrounded by mortals fawning over him. His eyes are pulled to the coterie as they descend the stairs and clicks his fingers dismissing his flunkies.

The coterie take their seats

“So. Good evening gentlemen. I didn’t expect you so soon. You inspected the scene of the crime I take it?” – Donovan, leaning back into the booth.

Foucault is distracted. Sitting behind Donovan, legs draped over his shoulders is a black humanoid figure with ripples of green, shooting through its corpus. A faint hissing sound accompanies the apparition.

“(to Cross) Why don’t you get us some drinks?” – Hampton

“What do you want?” – Cross

“(to Cross) Bloody Mary. Easy on the Mary. (to Donovan) Sir, I’d like to hear the case against our sires” – Hampton

“They were the last to see Mr Dimanche alive” – Donovan

“When would that have been sir?” – Hampton

“Two nights ago” – Donovan

“Under what circumstances?” – Hampton

“I don’t know. His diary wasn’t clear” – Donovan

“Do you have the diary still?” – Hampton

“At the crime scene. I told you I’d keep it intact” – Donovan

Foucault composes himself, managing to nod at the humanoid figure

“You seem distracted sir” – Donovan

“No. No. I just thought I recognised someone” – Foucault

Donovan turns his head to look at the blank wall

“Its a wall” – Donovan

“We’ve been under a lot of stress” – Foucault

“I can imagine” – Donovan

“Back to business. What’s the motive? Why them? If you meet someone two nights before they’re murdered, what’s to say that they are the suspects?” – Foucault

“You know as well as we that Dimanche was doing very well by them. They had nothing but gratitude for him” – Hampton

“Doesn’t seem…” – Foucault

“Perhaps their purpose was served, perhaps Dimanche was about to betray them. I do not know, all I know is that I have to follow what’s there. They were the last to see him alive so they are accused with his death”

Donovan parts a space on the table between the bottles and glasses

“Now I’ll be straight with you. I do not believe your sires we’re implicated in the crime. That is exactly why I let you investigate. I cannot be seen to be tarnished so I’d appreciate it if you kept your voices on the quiet side” – Donovan

“Of course” – Foucault

‘I believe Maldonato is responsible for this crime but I’m just a Sheriff. I cannot just accuse the Seneschal without something a bit but concrete, especially when he’s so close to the Prince. I believe that the Seneschal killed Mr Dimanche because their relationship turned sour and Mr Dimanche found out something about Mr Maldonato’ – Donovan

“Is that in the diary as well sir?” – Hampton

“Maldonato met with Primogen Dimanche regularly. Every week” – Donovan

“Up until the present day?” – Hampton

“The diary entries were scrawled out but that doesn’t mean that they did not take place” – Donovan

“Presuming it was Maldonato are in a position to pin anything on him or it the case that it would be someone associated with him?” – Foucault

“What’s your opinion of Maldonato, sir? Would you have expected something like this before?” – Hampton

Donovan shrugs then shakes his head. Cross sits down the drinks purposefully

“I’m a private Kindred, I don’t have any secrets” – Donovan

Cross and Foucault exchange a glance. They can tell he’s lying.

“I willingly sat down with Mr Dimanche on many occasions. He seemed… obsessed with me and I fed him information about my life story, he seemed enamoured by me” – Donovan

“What is your life story? Or unlife story?” – Hampton

“What’s in it for me if I tell you” – Donovan pointedly

“You have no secrets” – Foucault

“I’m a private Kindred, sir” – Donovan

“That’s understandable” – Foucault

Cross is staring directly at Donovan. the hand holding his glass is slowly cracking the hiball as he squeezes it. Donovan doesn’t register the involuntary action.

“You’re entirely convinced of Maldonato’s guilt aren’t you Sheriff?” – Hampton

“Yes and what I believe is that I was getting close to Mr Dimanche and Maldonato was threatened by this. I think he was worried” – Donovan

“Do you think he was jealous?” – Foucault

“I’m sure you of all people and you (to Cross) are aware of how powerful our emotions can be sometimes” – Donovan

“I believe the relationship between Dimanche and Maldonato had broken down. I do not believe there is any way in Hell you can prove your sire’s innocence against Mr Maldonato. He is an elder, he has so many years on him he will have foreseen every eventuality. So what I would suggest is if you want to get your sires and yourselves off the hook…” – Donovan

“Plant a fall guy” – Foucault

“I didn’t say that but that could be one way you could get your neck out of the noose” – Donovan

Donovan raises an eyebrow. The interview is over. Another Kindred approaches, the coterie’s hackles rise. He wears a hat over his face that he doesn’t remove as he sits.

‘If that is all I have important matters to discuss with Mr Gus Elgin’ – Donovan

As they walk away Cross leans to Hampton and asks “He one of yours?”

Hampton looks back over his shoulder “He’s a worm”

As the coterie leave they over hear Donovan commiserate with Elgin about the divisions between the Sanctified

Blood trail

Dimanche’s haven is located in the Irish Channel, a rough and tough neighbourhood of German, Irish and Spanish cultures. The coterie walk into the decrepit tenement building and down a narrow corridor to the marked door.

Foucault tells the other to wait outside. He steps in and shuts the door, throwing the room into complete darkness. He lets his senses settle.

The room he stands in is a dirty and dusty space, bed, table and a large dresser riddled with woodworm. Soft marks in the floorboards show the dresser has been shifted recently. It moves easily to one side and Foucault walks into an elegant 17th Century bedroom. The room contains a four poster bed, padded gilded chair, floor to ceiling bookcases and a large wardrobe. A staked corpse, rotted to the bone lies on the bed. His head is severed, marks on the dusty floor show Foucault that there was more than one attacker. It is clear to Foucault that Mr Dimanche has been like this for sometime. An unturned calendar and the amount of dust in the room indicate that is could have been as long as one year.

Foucault opens the wardrobe, two suits, identical presumably to the others, are missing and on closer inspection of the corpse, Mr Dimanche’s glasses are missing. Someone has been impersonating one of the Primogen.

Foucault muses that of the sires only Marcus, his own sire had met Mr Dimanche before the ill fated meeting in the hotel room. Marcus, who of all the sires, has been released.

Foucault sees Dimanche’s appointment book mentioned by Donovan, on the antique bedside table.

In it he finds recent entries, Valentine, Gabrielle and Marcus. Regular entries for Maldonato are scrawled out. Flicking back through the little back book Foucault sees entries for Patrick O’Hara, Dimanche’s childe, Miss Opal, the Nosferatu Priscus and finally Baron Cimitiere… one year ago today.

Foucault memorises the information before calling Cross and Hampton into the room. As they look around the place, they talk about the fate of their sires, whether they should frame someone or turn in their sires in exchange for clemency. Cross makes it clear that he has given up on Valentine and he doesn’t trust Marcus. Hampton confesses that he wants to keep Gabrielle around a little longer, he can’t explain why. Foucault shrugs. He trusts Marcus. Cross leans back against the wall and asks how can Foucault can trust someone who could be in the room with them now? Spying on them?

Foucault stiffens at the mention of someone in the room. He switches off the light, surprising the other two. He settles his senses quickly. In the corner of the room is an amorphous shape, its spiritual form bleeding off as whatever it is strains to be here. Foucault steps forward, focusing on the face and recognises Azazel, the bookshop owner with suspected ties to Belial’s Brood. He starts as he realises Foucault has seen and recognised him and the form shifts to leave.

“Wait” – Foucault shouts, mustering all his will to try and keep the manifestation in the room.

Azazel freezes halfway through the wall. He turns his head, eyes full of hate.

“I sometimes wonder if our friend needs to get out more. Perhaps the theatre or to the public library” – Hampton

“Or the insane asylum” – Cross

“Azazel, I wonder what would happen if I kept you here indefinitely” – Foucault

“You could not keep me here, Foucault. Your will is strong, mine is stronger” – Azazel

“The current situation would suggest otherwise. We know that you are involved with the Brood” – Foucault

Foucault pulls out a chair and sits.

“How are you involved and who killed him?” – Foucault

“Who are you talking to?” – Hampton

“Azazel” – Foucault

“Is he here?” – Hampton

“Yes. In a manner of speaking” – Foucault

Cross stands behind Foucault and pushes out his supernatural charisma

Azazel smiles bitterly. Foucault whispers to Hampton

“I did it Foucault, you ignorant shadow. You have no idea how the Brood connects to this. Its all part of the tapestry. We will have our man. Dimanche got in the way. He nearly found out” – Azazel

“I can’t see you Azazel but I assume you’re making threats. Let me tell you (pulling his Monstrous Countenance) the next time I see you in the flesh, I’m going to enjoy stripping it from your bones” – Hampton

Hampton stalks out to phone Maldonato

“Apart from telling us that we don’t know what we don’t know, could you tell us something useful?” – Foucault

Dimanche got in the way of Papa Iblis. Donovan, you fool! You pathetic Kindred neonates struggling with Beast and Man. You haven’t even found Dimanche’s tape recorder. Hidden’ – Azazel

“Tell us where it is” – Foucault

Blood trail

Maldonato, you need to hurry, meet at Dimanche’s haven. We have fresh evidence’ – Hampton

Blood trail

Azazel’s twilight form pushes upwards through the ceiling, fading from sight

Foucault inspects the area where Azazel disappeared. He lifts a secret compartment and finds a dictaphone. Its voice activate, he lifts it down carefully

“Switch on the light Jacob” – Foucault

Foucault places the bulky machine onto Dimanche’s desk. Foucault rewinds the spools.

The machine has recorded the last moments of Dimanche. He welcomes Azazel into his haven and is then struck, whimpering before being cut off. The tape clicks.

Maldonato arrives, face impassive but his eyes darting all over the room

“Our sires have been accused of this crime, we need you to witness that Dimanche’s body has been here longer than 4 days” – Foucault

“It would appear the Primogen has been dead for a long time indeed” – Maldonato

“We managed to uncover who killed Dimanche, it wasn’t our sires. It was a Kindred known as Azazel” – Foucault, playing the tape

Maldonato nods. He promises to arrange everything. He tells the coterie to keep a low profile.

Blood trail

The coterie decide to attend the Carthian rally on the river boat Legality. They walk from the docks on to the riverboat via a long gangplank that seems to cross the river. In the distance is a ringing bell and all around the sounds of the Mississippi lapping at the shore. A sense of calm pervades the boat . Faint music can be hear from somewhere on the boat, the sounds of a party in full swing.

They are led to a private function room. Walking in they find Kindred relaxing at the bar and causally chatting to one another. As the coterie walk in they are given a small applause.

Coco Duquette walk towards them, her electric blue eyes lighting up

“Thank you so much for coming. Its is so nice to see you all. I understand the stresses and strains of political life especially in our society makes it hard, especially you Jacob” – Coco

“I do what I can Coco, its a cross but I bear it” – Cross, flashing a winning smile

“I hope you don’t have any fall out from attending here. You weren’t followed were you?” – Coco

“Only by these miscreants” – Cross

“You don’t exactly keep your whereabouts secret” – Hampton

“That’s true. I was more concerned with Mr Cross’ wellbeing. It is surprising that more don’t take up our invitation” – Coco

“Just nice to find a place where a Worm can let his hair down” – Hampton

“Oh please, we don’t use those terms here. You are a Nosferatu. Not a worm. You’re a person” – Coco

“More or less” – Hampton

Cross looks at Foucault with a look of disbelief. He smiles at Coco as she tries to catch his eye

“So first, it would be best to introduce you to the owner of this riverboat and our host. Richard Whitmer. Most people call him Whit” – Coco

They walk together to a poker table in the centre of the room. A Kindred sits playing solitaire. He wears his profession on his sleeve. A black cowboy hat with silver studs, white shirt and waistcoat, garters clipping his shirt sleeves and a tooth pick in his mouth. He raises his head as they approach, the Beast distantly raging to flee. His face is clean shaven and strong. His brown eyes crinkle at the edges as the smile hits his eyes.

“Greeting friend. I’m Prince of this here boat” – Whit

Cross can’t suppress a laugh.

“You laugh sir?” – Whit

“Its refreshing to meet someone with a sense of humour. Jacob Cross” – Cross, shakes hands

“How’d you do Jacob, call me Whit” – Whit

“My name is Hampton Mayfair” – Hampton, straightening his suit

“Always a pleasure” – Whit, ignoring the trail of soil that Hampton has trailed in

Whit casts his eyes over the three coterie. His smile broadens.

’I’m Prince of the L’Egalite. I figured way back if any ol’ Kindred can call a city their own and call themselves Prince, shit if I’m going to be free and easy on the Mississippi, I’m gonna be Prince of my own riverboat. Its my domain and my rules apply. My rules say you are all welcome as long as you behave yourselves. Now I have the dubious title of Myrmidon in the Carthian Movement. You know what that means?’ – Whit

“A term from the classics, a soldier or gladiator” – Hampton

“It means I’m neutral. Completely and utterly neutral, as long as you abide by my rules you’re welcome any time. If you ever need to get away you just call on Whit, hear what I’m saying?” – Whit

“Absolutely” – Foucault

“An’ we’ll sail down the Mississippi. I wish you welcome an’ if you ever want a hand of poker I won’t treat you right but I’ll treat you fair” – Whit

“I might take you up on that offer. My real game is whist” – Hampton

“That’s a man’s game” – Whit

“Its the family game” – Hampton

“Well I’d be happy to go up against you, Hampton” – Whit

“You’d probably beat me but I’d love to play” – Hampton

“Lets book that into the diary cos at the moment we have business to attend to. Lets get the others to join us, yeah?” – Whit

“Sure” – Cross

The other Kindred gather around the table. They each take a turn to introduce themselves

“You all know me, Coco Duquette” – Coco

‘Miss Opal, Prefect of the Carthian Movement and momma to you whelps’ – Miss Opal with a sly wink

“Vivian Carter, of Vidal’s court” – Vivian Carter, a stuck up middle aged woman in slightly dated finery

“Jean Paul, also of the Prince’s court” – whispers Jean Paul, a slovenly looking Kindred who fails to meet anyone’s gaze

“Mike French, y’all. One of Savoy’s heavies. You get in trouble round the quarter you ask for Frenchie.” – Mike smiles with his whole body, six foot six and as wide across. He is dressed in the longshoreman uniform of weather beaten jacket and thick woollen jumper

‘Ms Marie Goddard, mambo and servant of Baron Cimitiere’, snarls Marie Goddard a rough and wild looking young Creole woman with charms and bracelets.

Cross gives each a warm handshake and his well practiced salesman smile. The general consensus is that Cross is a really nice guy for an Invictus.

“I try” – Cross

“You don’t yet bring in the same feudal shit smell that most of you bring in” – Mike

“Well this game is new to me and its always nice to meet new people” – Cross

“Shall we start? We welcome our three new friends as we are all friends here. First of all, we’d like to make you the Carthian promise. If you ever need anything from anyone of us, all you need do is ask” – Miss Opal

“That seems a very open hearted promise.” – Hampton

“Isn’t that the truth sugah. Isn’t that what’s wrong with out society. Isn’t it true that there are one to one hundred thousand of our kind in this city? I mean there is less than fifty of us. Is it right that a small minority have the control?” – Miss Opal

“I see what you’re saying” – Cross

“I understand that you’d be reticent my Invictus friend, but what about you two? We’re interested in what you have to say. Would you like to take the power and spread it out amongst the masses?” – Vivian

“I come from several generations of slave owning people. I’m still coming to terms with myself. I believe I have more… fundamental issues. I’ll start at citizen before I concern myself with civis” – Hampton

“I do believe you are correct sir, we should all fit in to what we feel comfortable with. Some of us, we believe that we shouldn’t have to worry about the power structure in place but should we not have our say?” – Jean Paul, awkwardly shifting in his seat

“What do you think? Willem is it?” – Marie

“I feel that with just one year dead…” – Foucault

“We can all remember our time as one year old” – Coco, encouragingly

“I’m not yet accustomed to the current political system in N’Awlins. Maybe its too early to venture an opinion?” – Foucault

“This one would make a good politician” – Hampton

“The Carthians aren’t interest in politicians, what we want is for everyone to have their say. I understand mortal society, its necessary for them to have representatives. There is so few of us, surely it makes sense for all of us to have an equal voice” – Miss Opal

“Communism?” – Cross’ voice is flat

“You say that as a dirty term” – Miss Opal

“I’m not ready for revolution, lady. I may not fully understand this society yet but goddammit I’m an American” – Cross

There is a hush at the table

“I know when I’m talking to a Communist. I hear what you’re saying , we should have a voice. We do. Its called democracy. I don’t have to sit and listen to this. Its been great meeting you but I’m going to play some poker” – Cross

As Cross stand, Coco stands with him. She walks alongside him.

“I’ll be ready to change you’re mind if you ever want to meet up for a conversation… or a drink” – Coco

“If you got a different point of view honey, I’m all ears now” – Cross

“Well, lets just say I’m open minded” – Coco

“I’m good with that. Want a drink? Maybe afterwards?” – Cross

Coco smiles and puts her arm in his. They head off to the main party downstairs.

After they leave the whole table devolves into a passionate discussion. Foucault makes a point of questioning Miss Opal about her point of view. Miss Opal is most concerned about discrimination. The Nosferatu should not be lowered while the Ventrue are raised. The Carthians are more than happy to help those less fortunate. Why should elders have power while the neonates are kept out of the decision making. Everyone should have easy feeding source, everyone should have a voice, everyone should be able to feed where they want.

Foucault plays devil’s advocate by suggesting that the elders don’t maintain power through political mandate, they maintain power because they are more powerful. Miss Opal points out that she is an elder. Foucault counters with the examples of Vidal, Maldonato and Donovan. How could Carthians intervene in this hypothetical society if an elder wanted to do something that contradicted the rights of a neonate.

Miss Opal replies that it is the people who have the power. What is an elder versus the combined support of the neonates and ancillae. Elders still quiver in fear at the weight of Kindred society

While Foucault and Miss Opal engage in debate Hampton oozes out of his chair and talks to Marie Goddard

’You’re in the service of the Baron?’ – Hampton

“I am. I believe in what Cimitiere stands for” – Marie

“His power as a bokor or his position in respect of the negros?” – Hampton

’He’s not a bokor, he’s a hougan. Bokor deal with dark spirits. The hougan deal with the loa as a whole. Baron Cimitiere is an emissary of Baron Samedi’ – Marie, prickling

“Forgive me” – Hampton

“He has a deep connection with the loa” – Marie

“I have seen things I don’t understand. I… would like to meet the Baron if possible” – Hampton

“I can make that happen” – Marie

“I would be grateful, I’m unsure what capacity I could repay the favour” – Hampton

“You don’t need to. That’s not the Carthian way” – Marie

“Thank you” – Hampton

“You are more than welcome. Is there any way I can reach you?” – Marie

“You can leave a message at our office. The alternative is to pass something through the worms” – Hampton

“We don’t like the terms worms here, if you want to shorthand, haunts but not worms” – Marie

“Haunts. I like that. The ghosts of people” – Hampton

“But even that doesn’t recognise them as equal” – Marie

“I don’t know, I think everyone should have a discriminatory word to describe them” – Hampton

Blood trail

Foucault meets Stella for a date. They had arranged to meet in the morgue on Stella’s insistence.

There are no bodies on the tables and all the drawers are shut. Stella looks unusually sombre.

“Willem. I need to speak to you” – Stella

“What’s wrong?” – Foucault

Stella takes a breath and looks Foucault in the eyes

“I’m pregnant” – Stella

Photobucket

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