As the memory of WWII fades, business booms. Vidal seizes influence of the corporate sector. With an influx of steady cash and manipulation, Vidal starts showing the iron fist that many feared would come. The coterie experiences this almost directly; Foucault is banned from all Elysium’s for his breach of the non-violence pact… word leaked by Antoine Savoy. It is clear that only the influence of the coterie’s Elders stopped it from being a sentence of Final Death. Aside from the coterie, Foucault is isolated as Stella returns to live with Aaron Mayfair and the Mayfair children.
With the loss of Stella, Foucault becomes more withdrawn from the world of Kindred and humanity, making plans with the dead in the twilight between this life and the next. He becomes obsessed with wards and amulets, collecting them and bearing them on his person and in his pockets in a vain attempt to protect himself against Aaron Mayfair.
He arranges a meeting with Donovan at the office of Cross and Associates in order to lay down some terms for co-operation and to suggest a plan.
Foucault states that no harm must befall either Ash or Stella and that their return to him be the price for his collusion in defeating Aaron Mayfair.
Donovan smiles thinly, “I expected nothing less. I shall not stand in your way to retrieve the Possessed or the Thing That Should Not Be. I care not.”
Foucault first of all asks if they have any way to block Aaron’s ability to read his mind, for without it they cannot hope to use the element of surprise.
Donovan’s smile disappears, “I can gird your mind against the mage’s predations but only for a short time. I can create false memories and hide your real ones. Repeated probing will reveal the deception though, so you must act fast.”
In particular, Foucault presses Donovan for the secrets of spirit magic that the Brood so obviously flaunted in front of him. If he can resist Aaron’s summons then he can assure them of his loyalties.
Donovan’s eyes glitter in the muted light of the desk lamp, “This is not something to be undertaken lightly Kindred. Power comes with a price. Are you willing to pay it? You must share the Blood of the Beast in the Vaudelerie. Once taken, this step will forever change your perceptions of everything. What you once forgot you will remember and what you once remembered, you will forget.”
Asking for time to consider, Foucault makes his own offer: ‘You want to fulfil the prophecy and Aaron Mayfair is the main obstacle to achieving this. You also fear Ash’s power over Kindred. What if we were able to foil Aaron’s plans by winning Ash’s heart through exposing his Grandfather’s true nature, show that he is being used as a pawn and that he will be discarded when his use has expired? Realistically, your only hope of achieving that is through me. My son is highly intuitive and can sense insincerity. With every fibre of my being I want my family back and Aaron’s hold over the three of us to be lifted. This is something that cannot be rushed, for the weight of evidence must accumulate before Aaron learns of our plans. We need to show him up for the weak, bitter old fool he is so that Ash chooses to return to me and side with us.’
He tries to extract information on the demonic force sucking the aura of vampires.
Donovan stands, his shadow growing massive in the room, flitting across the walls and ceiling. “You have seen them? We are not the cause. We are the effect. The Whisperers are born from unfettered will and the pursuit of desire. You talk about my wanting to fulfil the prophecy but you are mistaken. I want the prophecy to come to pass and will do whatever it takes to ease its passing but regardless of my will, the prophecy will happen. In a sense, it has already happened. The Gathering of Whispers is only one of the portents of Les Enfants Diabolique. When the child takes possession of the heritage of the blood, the Whisperers will serve.”
Donovan walks to the door, turning to face Foucault, “You already know this Foucault. You already know everything but you insist on perpetuating the Lie that masks this knowledge.”
Foucault raises an eyebrow, “And what Lie would that be?”
Donovan walks out the door, his voice carries on the still air, “That you are human”
The Invictus assault begins on the Mayfair family, in vengeance for the death of Felicity Bron. They concentrate on two areas, one masking the other. First is the contentious issue of custody over Julianne Mayfair, the 9 year old designee of the Mayfair wealth. The First Estate wants Sebastian Mayfair, their young neonate under the sway of Pierpont McGinn to be named as guardian. Supporting this, and pulling a great deal of teeth out of Aaron Mayfair’s family, is the subversion of the family law firm Mayfair & Mayfair. In a deft move McGinn turns the firm inward, fighting amongst themselves through the use of proxies. In recognition of this coup d’état, McGinn asks for and is given a position within the Inner Circle.
Kindred begin disappearing throughout the city. Few notice it at first, the missing vampires are Unaligned or too young. Eventually though there is a lack of familiar faces at Elysium. Kindred talk of hunters, VII, Belial’s Brood and the Mayfair curse. Fear starts to percolate.
Savoy starts encroaching upon the socialite scene under cover of a wide number of charities. The disappearance of his lieutenant Rhett Carver causes widespread speculation amongst the Kindred of the city. The consensus is that it was an underhand strike orchestrated by Vidal to gain further control over local government. Donovan publicly announces an investigation into what happened to the Daeva. This quickly comes to nothing but ruffling the feathers and scaring the neonates of the city. The French Quarter becomes a much more dangerous place for the coterie as Savoy’s agents patrol the boundaries of the domain. Skirmishes and random poachings are common.
Tensions rise in the factories as blue collar jobs are fought over by woman and the returning veterans. Intolerance rears its head, stronger than ever as the veterans seek jobs they were promised from the blacks. Baron Cimitiere and his followers become shadowy figures amongst those who seek to take by force and hate. His growing support from the Nosferatu clan means his grip and influence for the first time expands out of the poorer areas and the vodoun community. This scares the Kindred Court. Tensions rise.
Sundown, emerges as the city’s premier Harpy, much to the chagrin of many of the Daeva Clan. He owns and operates a Kindred friendly nightclub in nearly every domain, becoming a centre for gossip and power-brokering. The Nosferatu call him traitor to his clan for insisting on remaining neutral and thumbing his nose at Court, Clan and Covenant.
Hampton Mayfair is mentally broken by Mrs Butler in punishment for trespassing on her haven while searching for information Felicity Bron. He was locked up for 6 months in the very same room before Gabrielle managed to bargain for his release. He doesn’t talk about what happened and he bares no scars. The only difference is an extreme obsessive compulsion for good manners.
With Foucault and Hampton being punished and ostracized from society Jacob’s most basic drive, that of survival, will come to the fore. He does not attempt to plead for Hampton’s release, nor does he add any good words for Foucault. In fact he will eschew the company of other kindred, fearing that his diabalerie will be revealed.
Jacob meets with Sundown at Carnivale, Sundown’s jewel in the crown of nightlife. As a neutral party, Jacob asks Sundown to give information on which Kindred may be capable of reading auras. In exchange for this he offers to use his mortal police influence to ensure that Sundown’s bars receive no negative attention from law enforcement.
Sundown stares at Jacob for a long time, his face impassive. His lips part in a sly smile and he nods once. He adds something else to the bargain, he does not need Cross’ influence with the police. What he wants is a bar in Cross’ domain, he is willing to pay rent… of course. On his chessboard he takes a black knight.
Cross receives a list of Kindred that Sundown knows or suspects reads auras:
1. Prince Vidal
4. Coco Duquette
5. Rosa Bale
7. Antoine Savoy
8. Baron Cimitiere
9. Nathaniel Blanch
10. Marcus and Foucault (And any of New Orleans ‘Secret Society’ Ordo Dracul)
11. Any Mekhet
Cross also receives a list of Kindred who DON’T read auras, ‘the list is shorter’, Sundown says wryly, ‘consider it a lagniappe’.
1. Pearl Chastain
2. Gutterball Elgin
3. Caitlin Meadows (The Prince’s Hound)
5. Father John Marrow
6. Valentine Delacroix
7. Gabrielle Deco and Hampton Mayfair
8. Rhett Carver
9. Sebastian Mayfair
10. Joseph Krieger
With Foucault isolated, Cross presents himself as a friend in exile. Truthfully he is extremely vexed by the continued problems that Foucault has laid in his path, and is attempting to extract enough information in a casual manner to feed information back to the Invictus in order to gain status, or to help them gain leverage over the other factions and ensure that if necessary he can remove Foucault.
Foucault notes Cross’s distance and hides his disgust at the lack of loyalty his coterie mate is displaying, instead making some conciliatory gestures by assisting Cross’s running of their business. He spends a great deal of effort persuading Hampton that an alliance with the Brood is the best way to free the coterie of Aaron’s influence and to reunite their extended family. Most of all, Foucault spends time with the restless spirits of New Orleans.
New building work begins, construction site pop up all over the city, cranes and scaffolds become a familiar sight. Work starts on the 24 mile long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.
Elysiums’ become tense affairs as the triumvirate’s factions begin to circle each other, sniffing for weakness and crossing covenant lines as allegiances are tested.
A Kindred in the Quarter is overheard saying, “The party is over”. The Carthian’s pick up on this as a slogan that Coco Duquette uses to directly question Prince Vidal at Midnight Mass. There are no answers but there are no reprisals and neonates and ancillae start to feel that regardless of politics or ideology, Duquette is on their side.