Dead of Night: Tales from the Big Easy

JOURNAL: 1946 - 1953

Seven Years of Plenty

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1946

As promised Maldonato calls a bloodhunt on the Kindred known as Azazel for the Final Death of Primogen Dimanche. Although known on the fringes of Kindred society, no one know where he has a haven, not even his Kindred lord John Polk, Priest of Mid City. No one can find his bookshop. It is clear that the Brood are keeping their heads down, the subtle threats of Abner Broadbank stopping suddenly

Stella accepts Foucault’s offer of a haven. She is unusually quiet, her eyes seem wide and fearful, staying inside for most of the time, occasionally weeping silently. Her libido vanishes although she still enjoys teasing Foucault with complicated sexual innuendo. Her appetite is voracious during the pregnancy, with a preference for rare steak. Her only interest during the 9 months is jigsaw puzzles. She completes one every day, by the end of the pregnancy she has completed over 250. Her favourites she has framed and hung in the haven, but usually only after taking some pieces out first.

Hampton Mayfair doesn’t witness his mother’s death in childbirth, appearing at the hospital after the sun has set. Remembering Pierpont McGinn’s threat he kidnaps his baby sister, Julianne Mayfair, on an impulse, guided by the spirit that is with him to hand it over to Foucault who gives it to Stella to take of. No Invictus will tell a Mayfair what to do!

Cross confesses to his wife Rebecca that he has been living a lie, his life as a travelling salesman has been a cover for his role as a classified military intelligence operative keeping track of Communist activity in New Orleans. He needs them to move to Baton Rouge for their own safety as he is worried that his cover has been compromised. Only his supernatural powers help convince Rebecca of his story.

Realising that he might have unwittingly contributed to the prophecy of Papa Iblis, Foucault begins to establish a cult with the express purpose of protecting his unborn child. He doesn’t tell his proselytes this, only that they have been selected for a special purpose.

Hampton meets with Baron Cimitiere, participating in the vodoun rites the Kindred hougan leads, performing whatever part he is given despite his deep intolerance, guided in equal parts by the spirit that accompanies him, his sire Gabrielle Deco and his warped memories of his time as a Catholic altar boy.

Low on cash, Cross rents out Talya’s apartment, using his supernatural charisma to jack up the prices and keep the tenants happy. He pushes the money into bars in the coterie’s domain, quickly establishing the start of a legitimate business empire. And a lucrative source of income, feeding off the debauchery that exists in New Orleans.

The coterie gets a substantive boost to their status when the French Quarter is declared an area of historic status and protected by the city of New Orleans. Antoine Savoy benefits the most from the increase in the influx of tourists and a degree of protection from the Prince’s efforts to oust him. The deal agreed between Rhett Carver and Valentine Delacroix means that the coterie cannot benefit from the increased feeding opportunity but the fact that a portion of their domain has such prestige rubs off in Kindred circles.

Hampton willingly helps in both Foucault and Cross’ efforts. Foucault keeps the real reason for the cult a secret but Hampton acts as Foucault’s hand in the night, spying, intimidating and murdering. He performs a similar role for Cross in his dealings, business owners falling quickly to the combined love/ fear tactics of the duo. Hampton enjoys every minute of this, relishing both the power of his terrible curse and the anguish of his tortured soul, beginning to comprehend the Circle of the Crone’s teachings that in suffering there is enlightenment.

Cross meanwhile ingratiates himself in Invictus circles, bending his knee to Pearl Chastain. He grudgingly serves as an errand boy to the whims of his Elders, consolidating his Unconquered status and attempting to wipe away the humiliation of his first Elysium. His efforts are unrewarded but do not go unnoticed, becoming known in Invictus Circles as a smooth talking neonate. Cross quickly learns that the First Estate is divided along two lines. Those that tenaciously cling to the white supremacist values of the Old South led by John Harley Matheson, a cultured if bigoted Gangrel Elder and those that are willing to accept that the South lost the American Civil War, led in lack lustre way by Pearl Chastain. Both are members of the Primogen.

A member of the Primogen, Raoul Korda calls Donovan’s adherence in the beliefs of the Lancea Sanctum church into question at a public Elysium, claiming that the Sheriff had lapsed into heresy. The Prince immediately backed Donovan but asked for Maldonato to investigate the accusations. Maldonato returned with a report that he could find no evidence of a lapse of faith against the Testament of Longinus, the Prince’s law or evidence of heretic beliefs in the Sheriff. The coterie hold their tongue.

After solving the first enigma of the Ordo Dracul in ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’, that all things must be observed before action should be undertaken, Foucault is initiated into the secret society by Marcus and introduced to Tobias Grout, his sire’s tutor in the mystic secrets of the Order and the Grand Wyrm, the Kindred with the highest supernatural insight and powers. He learns of the existence of the Coils of the Dragon, the mystical ways in which members can overcome the vampiric Curse of Undeath and the purpose of the Great Work of the Order; nothing less than the transcendence of vampirism and the cheating of the will of God. Foucault quickly grasps that New Orleans is rife with supernatural energy, ghosts in particular and that the Order is focused on the study and experimentation of supernatural activity. In particular the Ordo Dracul is interested in the exploration of ‘Wyrms Nests’, areas of prolific supernatural activity that is somehow linked to the process of learning the Coils of the Dragon.

Papa Iblis’ prophecy and its oblique reference to the Mayfair family leads Hampton to exploring the genealogy of his family, stealing late at night into the homes of his family members to read diaries, memoirs and stare at photographs. He traces their lineage back to St Dominique and further back to France. He learns that the animosity between the Mayfair’s and the Gage’s has not stopped romance to occur between the two families but that it always ended in bloody tragedy and any offspring of the unfortunate coupling either disappeared or died in mysterious circumstances. The last known blending of the Mayfair and the Gage lineage occurred in 1869 with the birth of Aaron Mayfair, the feared patriarch of the Mayfair family.

Jacob leaves his sire Valentine to wallow in isolation after her release, knowing that she is blood bonded to Donovan he feels that he cannot trust her. He is cautious not to antagonise the Sheriff, letting him lord over his triumphant put down of the ‘upstart neonate’. However, behind the scenes he uses Pearl’s disgust of the Daeva Sheriff to collect information on the mysterious Donovan and others who share his burning hatred of the arrogant Succubus. He learns that Donovan’s sire was none other than the Lord of the French Quarter Antoine Savoy and that due to some undisclosed rift he used his coterie, the sires, to betray Savoy and swap allegiance to Prince Augusto Vidal. The list of Kindred who harbour some enmity to the Sheriff include:

In his pursuit of the Mayfair genealogy Hampton successfully tracks down Azazel’s bookshop, mostly guided by memory and instinct he follows the labyrinthine path. He expects the shop to be vacant, its carcass picked clean by other more powerful Kindred. Although the book shop is clearly unoccupied, the contents are surprisingly intact. Hampton spends many hours pouring through occult texts and oblique histories of New Orleans. It is only here that the raging power of the Beast is dimmed, a welcome relief for the Nosferatu. He comes to feel that the shop is his. A sanctuary from the political infighting of the Danse Macabre. Although he finds little about the Mayfair family, he does come across an interesting correlation. Papa Iblis arrived in New Orleans from St Dominque in 1790. This was the same year that the Gage family was first reported in any of the city’s records. The year the Swamp Mansion of Papa Iblis was purchased for the sum of one dollar by a Rachael Gage.

Most disturbingly, the one time Hampton forgot to carry the Duvalier Codex when heading for Azazel’s bookshop he was unable to find it.

Blood trail

1947

With the boost in tourism, feeding has become easy in the French Quarter, attracting poor and desperate Kindred. Although Savoy maintains a friendly facade his followers, with feeding and domain rights, protect their abundant ‘crops’ with ruthless energy. Some of it spills over… requiring the coterie to undertake ‘measures’ that ensure the security of their border.

The birth of the Mayfair child is completely silent. Stella pushes without a sound, the baby Astaroth ‘Ash’ Mayfair is born without a sound. He doesn’t cry or scream. He only watches the world around him in fascination. The doctor who attended the birth at the haven, a Mayfair by the name of Mallory, is a little concerned with this but can find nothing wrong with the baby boy. The baby is clearly very intelligent at even a young age, learning to walk at 6 months, learning to speak and hold adult conversation (though with a heavy lisp due to his unformed palette) at one year. Astaroth or Ash as Stella insists in calling him, has the Mayfair cheek bones but has Foucault’s eyes. Stella is an attentive mother but with a selfish streak. She often employs babysitters and nanny’s while she goes out to socialise, usually during the day while Foucault sleeps. Ash is extremely attentive of his slower developing cousin, Julianne, quickly forming a protective brotherly bond. Foucault finds the child fascinating, understanding that many secrets lie behind those wide eyes, he talks with Ash often, attempting to fathom the answers to so many questions. The baby is clearly a puzzle, wrapped in an enigma, encased in a mystery. Foucault finds the challenge invigorating.

Hampton is enthralled by his younger sister, utterly absorbed by her. He does not notice Stella’s disgust at his presence when he makes his nocturnal visits. He knows, now and always, that no-one ever, ever will take this, his final shred of family, away from him. Oddly enough he is equally enthralled by her cousin, the young Ash. Something about him, his precocious talent, his overly large head, his pure innocence awakens a protective instinct in Hampton. Ash will be an outcast due to his intelligence, like Hampton. He will have to struggle with the exclusive membership of the Mayfair family, like Hampton. The Nosferatu vows that he will ensure that Ash will not suffer as he has. This protective instinct somehow nourishes Hampton, something different from the hate and the spite that has marked the last 3 years of his Requiem. It is something… pure.

Although Cross has begun to develop the wealth he has always longed for aided a great deal by Foucault asking favours from his Mafia contacts to support a ‘friend of his’, its immediate pleasures leave him feeling cold and empty, yearning for more. He becomes concerned with his own undead nature, fearful of losing what he has gained. He begins to have constructed small back up havens in the properties he has managed to get a hold over.

Hampton having read the entire contents of Azazel’s bookshop selects the choicest volumes to share with Foucault, claiming that they have come through his contacts among the ‘Worm Underground’. In exchange Foucault is to aid in Hampton’s genealogical research into the Mayfair family and his own lineage in particular.

Primogen Raoul Korda stands up in Elysium and issues a public apology to Donovan. He confesses that he was wrong and misguided about the Sheriff of New Orleans and continues by extolling the virtues of successes of the Daeva in the defence of the Masquerade and the spreading of the Testament of Longinus. His words are sincere if a little wooden and rehearsed. Cross, in particular, is interested in this sudden 180 degree U-turn by the Primogen who so virulently condemned Donovan only one year ago. On further subtle questioning Korda’s point of view doesn’t change. In fact, it remains EXACTLY the same. Word for word.

Foucault finds a deserted building on the edge of the Central Business District firmly in the coterie’s territory. He sets up his Shadow Cult ritual space ready for his first cultists. He finds willing participants in David Grant, a Lieutenant in the NOPD Vice Squad and Sheila Delgado, the wife of well connected City Councillor, Martin Delgado. Seeking a little more protection for his ritual space he convinces a security guard, Vern Pepper to become the third member of his burgeoning cult.

Cross having got a little security behind his Requiem, begins looking for suitable kine servants to increase his influence and serve his purposes. Having Foucault look over them for signs of betrayal or treachery he expends a portion of his damnation to ghoul Laura Lee, a beautiful socialite in the New Orleans high class night life and a Vito ‘Bull’ Minacore, a mid level Mafia enforcer. Pearl Chastain approves of his choices for ghouls, advising that it is wiser to spread a power base rather than focus. She takes some time giving pointers to ensure Cross maximises his ‘investments’ and informs him of an Invictus strategy called ‘Advancing the Pawn’, whereby an Invictus may use their supernatural powers to influence events around a ghoul or thrall to ensure that their status, position and power increases. This is wiser than going straight for the top as these pieces are often areas of heavily competitive influence amongst other Kindred.

Foucault, rankling a little of his title of ‘Slave’ in the Ordo Dracul decides the best way to improve his status is to find out what creature it is that appears to be feeding off the aura’s of the Kindred of the city. What he finds is interesting:
• It does not appear to be a single creature or organism but rather a phenomenon or effect
• It does not seem to be solely Kindred that are affected, it is simply concentrated on the Kindred. Foucault witnesses a few kine with the same leaching stain on their aura
• The following Kindred that the coterie have met or are aware of are affected:
o Prince Vidal
o Pearl Chastain
o Antoine Savoy
o Nathaniel Blanch
o Gus ‘Gutterball’ Elgin
o Pierpont McGinn
o Marcus
o Hampton Mayfair III
• The Kindred do not seem to be adversely affected by the phenomenon
• The Kindred and kine affected all display certain extremes of temperament

Foucault discusses the issue with Marcus, leaving his sire out of the list. Marcus advises that Foucault develop a theory and an experiment that could test the theory. In the conversation, Foucault expresses his desire to advance in the Order. Marcus informs him that progression is based solely on a member’s mastery of the Coils of the Dragon. Marcus feels that Foucault is not ready yet, the process of changing one’s own undead nature (referred to by Marcus as the Chrysalis) to form a Coil is taxing and not without risk.

With Hampton and Foucault spending so much time with their respective children, Cross feels the pain of Tommy’s puberty even more so now. His absence and the difficulty in getting to Baton Rouge has meant the separation has festered. When they do see each other there is resentment and anger often erupting in shouting matches. It comes to a head when Cross discovers that Tommy has had a tattoo of a triangle scripted on his left forearm. Cross grabs Tommy’s arm in a rage and breaks it, Tommy howls in pain and in tears scrambles away from his father. Rebecca, normally warm and loving, coolly orders her husband to leave ‘her’ house. Cross barely makes it back to New Orleans before dawn.

Hampton, frustrated by his Clan’s reluctance to engage him in conversation makes a serious effort to find the ‘Worm Underground’ that he continually boasts about. His efforts are aided by a tragic event recounted at Sundown’s. Miss Opal, Priscus of the Nosferatu, succumbed to frenzy and killed a Nosferatu Hound of the Court by the name of Isaac Goldfish. Realising the danger she was in, she fled to Whit’s boat L’Egalite, a Priscus now in exhile. All the Nosferatu are talking about the event, Hampton picking up some names and places. Some think they could use it as a rallying point to stand behind their Priscus against their unfair treatment. Others believe that Miss Opal should take ‘her medicine’, she broke the law she should face the consequences, otherwise it’ll come down on all their heads.

Using the information and a few of Azazel’s texts to sell, Hampton makes some introductions to Nosferatu at a gathering of the clan, nicknamed ‘the Freak Show’, held in the loft of a packing plant in the Warehouse District. He establishes working relationships with Andrea Oulette of the Ordo Dracul and Bernard of the Sanctified Lancea Sanctum, selling several texts with promises of more ‘if he should come across any’. He also meets Hashcha, a friendly if expressionless Native American who has heard of Hampton from his coterie mate, Nathaniel Blanch. Hashcha, in broken English tells Hampton that the Nosferatu he should be talking to are:
Gus ‘Gutterball’ Elgin and Vince Friendly of the Sanctified
• Felicity Bron of the Invictus
• Mike French of the Carthians

A hurricane hits New Orleans, threatening to drown the entire city. All three of the coterie tense at the coming storm as they can’t get the final words of the Prophecy out of their heads… “And the Heavens Shall Wail and Weep”. It does considerable damage but nothing that the kine cannot recover from. Foucault’s perception however, gives a little more insight. ‘Something’ arrived under cover of the storm. Something old. Something powerful. Something wicked.

During this Hurricane, Hampton finds himself caught outside in Baron Cimitiere’s domain, without shelter or succor. Casting aside his pride he asks for help from the Nosferatu Hougan. With a single nod the Baron lets his followers stand aside for ‘Cheval Legba’, apparently the name the vodoun community has given Hampton and the Nosferatu witnesses his first large vodoun ceremony.

Cimitiere is holding a great gathering of Kine and Kindred in the Hounfour, a ceremony of songs and invocations so loud as to defy the storm. The temple flickers with the streaky light of candles, the smell of rum and gunpowder mingling with hot cooked meat and flowing animal blood. The Baron is dressed head to toe like his namesake, painted to carnival excess, his Nosferatu nature heightening his resemblance to the Baron.

As the evening progresses, possessions afflict the Kine. Some of these are auto-hypnotic, pseudo-epileptic trances – but some, Hampton realises, without knowing how he knows, are the real thing. As the Kine eyes roll upwards, whitening like glasses filled with milk, some other essence pours into them. They become tempestuous, erratic, hurling themselves around like dervishes, spitting foam – and doing stranger things, vomiting first the contents of their stomachs and then litres and litres of dirty water, howling so loud that they block out the singing and the storm outside.

The Baron greets these guests respectfully and offers them sacred food and drink. He addresses them as the messengers of Oya. He offers them great rewards if their mother will redirect her fury away from Treme. This is all very public, loud and bombastic – a show for the Kine.

The possessed of Oya speak to the Baron in a language that Hampton has not heard before. Yet he understands …somehow. Knowledge comes unbidden that this is the language of the Hisil. The Other Place. The Shadow of the World where the spirits and ancestors live. A language not spoken by man or Kindred. They tell the Baron that ‘the Spider has arrived, his Web has yet to be spun’, they ask the Baron for his assurance that he will do everything to protect New Orleans from the Spider, in return for their protection of Treme.

With a creeping certainty Hampton realises that if he wishes to remain on this path to power, he may need to act on their behalf – or on behalf of other, stranger things.

The Baron agrees to the loa’s requests although it is clear to Hampton that Baron Cimitiere has little idea what the loa speak of.

Blood trail

1948

The end of Mardi Gras is marked by a considerable blow to the Invictus. Primogen and Inner Circle member John Harley Matheson is stripped of his Court position and is banned from the city on pain of Final Death. The Harpies claim that Matheson was about to challenge the Prince but was beaten to the punch. The joint hand of Maldonato and Donovan is seen by all in this gross and subtle use of the Prince’s praxis.

Foucault uses Hampton’s growing closeness to the Mayfair children to ask him for the favour of looking after them while he takes Stella out to entertain them both. The first time they go out together, Stella looks a little guilty and is rather awkward. Foucault takes her to a high-class bar with lots of alcoves and a rather loose code of conduct. After an adventurous encounter with another couple, he takes her out onto the balcony looking out over New Orleans and, turning to look her in the eye, he says “You don’t have to feel guilty for doing what’s in your nature. I consume life, while you enjoy it to the full. Since I was turned I’ve had to do some terrible, sick things. The more I do them the further I move away from the world. Being with you is the only thing that brings me happiness, makes me feel alive or something equivalent, makes me enjoy being what I am. You are far more than just the mother of my child.” Stella takes a breath to say something and then obviously thinks better of it. She caresses Foucault’s cheek with her hand and gently kisses him.

Foucault teaches Ash to read and write, building a strong bond with his son, but also watching and observing his reactions to mentions of occult lore. Ash is fascinated with the occult and has a natural talent at deciphering meanings and subtext. Foucault wants to see whether his child brought past memories into the world with him but it is clear that despite his precociousness, he is tableau rasa. Perhaps most disturbing is that he quickly works out what Foucault is getting at; bombarding his father with questions that Foucault struggles to deflect.

By the age of two Ash has learned to read and write. He enjoys long conversations with Stella who is clearly enamored by her little companion. As he is often asleep when Foucault rises, he starts writing letters to his father. They tell Foucault about his day and the interesting things he learns. In the pattern of his writing Foucault detects a barely discernible pattern and he examines the letters thoroughly for secret messages and meanings but with no success although he always feels oddly refreshed after doing so. It is in one of these letters that Ash reveals he has met his grandfather Aaron Mayfair and his uncle Junior, regularly going out during the day to the house in the Garden District.

Hampton delights in “looking after family.” He is also delighted by his distant cousin Ash’s disproportionate intellect, and begins to school the infant in the gentleman’s arts. What’s the point in being able to read if one cannot recite the Iliad? He also takes pains to teach the boy as much as he can grasp about the great (and tragic) fall of the South in the War of Southern Independence. Where possible, he stresses the deep and abiding rights the little child has, the great entitlement, how anyone who tries to take that away from him – or who, unfairly, has things that should be his – is a sinner and a thief.

His sister is a charming little dullard in which he takes great delights – though he understands her more as a kind of ambulant doll than a little person. It is understandable from a member of the weaker sex. He decides that she will need schooling as well, though in her own slow precious time. He begins a hunt for a suitable tutor – someone who will teach her how to be a real Southern belle. To support her education, he puts extra weight into supporting Cross’ business. He is anxious that there should be a good nest egg for her.

Though Cross sees, and outwardly approves of the changes that their infant charges have fostered in Hampton and Foucault, he cannot help but feel a little bitter. The steadily worsening relationship between him and his son have put a strain on his marriage, one which has opened up deeper cracks from the years he has spent on the road. He feels that something important has passed beyond his grasp. The coterie’s highly unorthodox family is as far away from his as possible it seems, until he catches sight of Ash and Foucault together, the sight of the young infant recalls to Cross the early years of Tommy and his role as a father, he can’t help but feel something for the child, a paternal love that somehow nourishes his soul. To bury the regret for his own son he redoubles his efforts to seek out somebody to call him “sire”.

The hopefuls that Cross had been watching as suitable candidates for the Embrace begin to fall off one by one as the combined reading of their characters by the members of the coterie leave them wanting in one way or another. A lone prospect continues to give him hope. The disgraced former catholic priest Joseph Rieger is drinking himself to death in one of the crumbling tenement blocks within their domain. Before his Embrace, Cross ensures that he fits the appearance necessary for a nomadic Sanctified kindred, he arranges for the “disappearance” of anyone who knows the man and presents himself as a friend and confidant, gaining his trust. Finally he offers him the gift of eternal life.

He subjects his childe to the vinculum as soon as possible, and begins a strict regime of conditioning to teach him the role he must play. In doing so he begins to extend his command of the subtle discipline of Majesty. However, Cross lacks anything but the surface knowledge of the Sanctified to correctly induct his childe, without which any pretense of covenant affiliation is likely to fail. This challenge occupies Cross considerably; how can he get the information he needs in order to create Rieger’s Sanctified identity without compromising his own agenda?

Cross’ only main distraction from the pull of Ash Mayfair and the needs of his new childe is Valentine Delacroix. Word reaches him that she has been seen in the city, wandering after Donovan, the blood bond causing her to act as a lost puppy… a puppy that Donovan seems to enjoy kicking. Her ‘broken heart’ is a favourite topic of conversation amongst the Harpies of Elysium and they coin the mocking label ‘a Valentine’ for anyone acting according to unrequited love. The Invictus, practically as a whole, turn on Valentine, sensing weakness and an easy ‘kill’. Valentine however does not break as she predicted she would. Rather she finds some comfort and allies amongst the Baron’s circle, most probably through introductions by Gabrielle. Her forced obsession with Donovan continues unabated but with unintended consequences. At Sundown’s club Carnivale, Valentine publicly confronts the Sheriff for his cruelty, his mocking taunts light a flame within Valentine and she loses control to her Beast, grabbing Donovan and beating him into a short torpor. The Prince deals with the matter harshly. He sentences Valentine to 25 years in staked torpor. Only the intervention of Pearl Chastain saves Jacob from a similar fate but he has to deal with a little loss of face within the Invictus as well as moving further into Pearl’s debt.

1948 shows the growth in power of Antoine Savoy with the boost of tourism to the the Vieux Carre, as a Sanctified Ancillae named Carmine Gibbs switches allegiance from Vidal to the Lord of the French Quarter in return for luxurious feeding rights. The fact that he is a Ventrue, kin to the Prince, causes tongues in Elysium to wag constantly with rumours of plots, conspiracies and other shifts of allegiance.

Using his own methods, Foucault attempts to find recorded documents of inter-species supernatural offspring in order to learn whether this has happened before and, if so, how things played out. He finds not a single reference to a vampire and a demon producing offspring. The three references he does find is to the Nephalim, the outcome of angels and mortals mating, resulting in cruel giants with superhuman strength and a flood sent by God to stop their spread; the Cambion, the outcome of demons and mortals mating, resulting in a child usually devilishly cunning and angelically beautiful, able to persuade even the most strong-hearted individual to do his or her bidding. In literature, Caliban in the Tempest was a Cambion, as was Merlin. The final reference Foucault finds is to the Dampyr, the outcome of vampires and mortals mating, featuring heavily in the mythology of the Balkans and resulting in offspring of that were typically said to possess some or all of their vampire parent’s power and vitality, without the usual assortment of conventional and unusual weaknesses, and further were driven to hunt and slay the undead. Usually for money. What is a certainty is the explicit forbiddance in Kindred pursuing natural-born offspring found in the older canonical writings of the Lancea Sanctum, the mysteries of the Ordo Dracul, and the lore of the Circle of the Crone.

Hampton begins a hunt for a Spider; starting in mythology, then expanding to the Circles of the Crone, the myths of the savages and the slaves. What fresh mystery is this? How does it connect to the riddles in the blood? He makes his enquiries through the Worm Underground, at least as he understands it, and through the tiresome business of research. Azazel’s stock is becoming sorely depleted in his exchanges.

In occult texts Hampton discovers that the spider has symbolized patience due to its hunting technique of setting webs and waiting for prey, as well as mischief and malice for its poison and the slow death it causes, its venom often seen as a curse. He finds reference to Anansi, the trickster, a spider that appears in the form of a man, and one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore, often celebrated as a symbol of slave resistance and survival. Anansi is able to turn the table on his powerful oppressors using his cunning and trickery.

Foucault hides his irritation at Marcus’s cryptic advice and desperate to prove his sire wrong in underestimating his talents, he begins researching phenomena that can alter the mood of supernatural creatures. He is aided by the ghost of a dead occultist whose grave he located, Aldous MacArthur, and together they consider the possibilities of a spiritual or demonic force in New Orleans.

The duo make a strong team, MacArthur’s academic nature and considerable expertise balances Foucault’s analytical nature and new found talent as a medium. They quickly concede that the phenomena is not caused by Kindred disciplines, even the strongest powers evidenced do not correspond with the timescales involved. MacArthur directs Foucault’s attention to the journal of Papa Ibis that Foucault still carries. They manage to decipher a small portion of it that seems to point to the cause. It seems to be a form of demonic influence, exploiting weaknesses in character and amplifying them within the individual. These ‘Whisperers’ as the journal refers to them, subtly nudge individuals toward their dark desires. Foucault drafts a small chart of people affected and their particular weakness. He finds that those individuals that display a measure of Pride, Envy or Sloth are those that are affected. The journal is unclear whether the Whisperers are an outside sentient demonic force or a creation of the individual’s own vice, manifested by some extreme act of evil and given demonic force.

A worm, a ghost – Hampton feels a great kinship with those Mayfair who have already gone to their graves, Hampton busies himself in finding the Mayfair family graves – and the locations of any Nosferatu so gifted to have seen the restless dead of the city. He finds the Mayfair Mausoleum in St Louis #1, an impressive construction of weathered marble and covered in thick ivy. His perceptions are challenged as he can almost taste the weight of death around the building as a bitter, tangible thing. This resonance almost crushes Hampton and he stumbles back from it… straight into Baron Cimitiere, who seems to be watching ‘Cheval Legba’ and warns him that to dig into the past is not always a wise thing to do. The spirits can lie as well as tell the truth, even the restless ghosts of ancestors. The Baron then walks on, leaving the Nosferatu alone. Undeterred, Hampton inquires among the Worms about Kindred who can talk with the dead, no Nosferatu (other than the Baron) has a reputation for speaking with the restless ghosts that plague New Orleans. However, he discovers that there are two Ventrue in the city that has the talents he seeks. One is a mysterious British neonate named D’Arcy. Known in Crone circles as a grim and sombre individual, possibly because of the scandal he fled London, he gravitated to the Baron’s circle but not as a member of the covenant. He claims allegiance to the same occult secret society Foucault claims membership in. The other is the mambo Rosa Bale, an acquaintance of Hampton’s from the early nights of his Requiem. She is notable for being one of the few vodouisants that are critical and hostile towards Cimitiere. Her medium ship is extraordinarily powerful, with strange phenomena occurring in her presence. Hampton passes this information onto Foucault.

Privately, Hampton renews his acquaintance with Miss Opal. She was kind to him not long after his Embrace – in this regard he now considers her foolish. But he understands the sting of losing that which belongs to you by right. He commiserates with her – or perhaps, merely adds his strength to her bitterness. He meets with her often on the L’Egalite, playing hands of poker with the Priscus and Whit, slowly gaining her trust. In this, Hampton is successful, gaining a little measure of respect amongst the Nosferatu of New Orleans that still acknowledge Miss Opal’s position, as he acts as a messenger for his clan Elder. To better effect his passage, Miss Opal draws Hampton a map of the ‘Worm Underground’, actually existing across the rooftops of New Orleans due to the high water table. His closeness to Miss Opal means that Hampton is present when a small group of Sanctified Nosferatu led by Antoinette Xavier attack the riverboat, baying for justice and blood. Hampton fights at the side of Miss Opal, loyal Nosferatu and the Carthians of the city. Kindred are injured on both sides but none are slain. Hampton and the other loyal Haunts, however are marked by the Sanctified Nosferatu and a festering enmity is created, splitting the clan in two.

Blood trail

1949

Foucault becomes concerned that Cross is becoming isolated from he and Hampton due to their focus on raising their strange family. When Hampton discusses his plans to seek the secrets of the Mayfair dead, Foucault recalls his effective work with Cross in dragging the details of Donovan’s schemes from Azazel. Noting Cimitiere’s warning to Hampton that the dead can lie, he proposes interrogations conducted by himself and Cross, forcing the dead to offer up the horrific details of the Mayfair family history to Hampton.

Hampton insists that any “interrogation” conducted on revenants of the Mayfair family be respectful in tone, as befits his august family. But he is eager too to learn what might be hidden in the minds of his ancestors.

With his wife and son becoming more distant Cross has lost an anchor to the world he inhabited in mortal life. The effects are subtle at first, but over the course of the year begin to manifest more strongly.

Both Foucault and Hampton are engaged in inherently supernatural endeavours, and the more Cross assists them in their conversations with the dead or the raising of their unnatural family unit the farther he roams from the life he once knew.

The night is dark when the three figures of the coterie meet at St Louis #1, outside the Mayfair Mausoleum, for the third time after many failures. They are cautious, looking out for agents of Savoy and Vidal. The cemetery is in the French Quarter and the Sanctified don’t look favorably on Kindred disturbing the restful dead. Foucault concentrates on the Mausoleum, casting his senses into the shadows. An ethereal female figure appears through the doorway, she is dressed in an expensive but sombre high collared dressed. Around her neck she wears a large emerald on a gold chain. It is the only thing that appears solid somehow. Foucault describes the woman to Hampton. It is Marie Claudette Mayfair, the Mayfair Matriarch responsible for moving the family from St Dominique to New Orleans.

Cross pushes out with his charm, thawing the icy glare of the ghost. She materialises, allowing the others of the coterie to see her. Hampton ask his great great great grandmother for the truth of what is going on. Marie Claudette reluctantly tells them what she knows, her voice full of shame and bitterness.

Hundreds of years ago in France, the Mayfair family were once ghouls of a group of undead known as ‘the Nameless’. They had identified them as scions of a man known as Belial. The Mayfair’s were worshipped by these undead, obeying every command, fulfilling every whim. With their aid the family found fortune and with their Blood many ‘chosen’ found a form of immortality. However, their Blood was also a curse, creating unnatural love and affection for the perverted ‘Nameless’. With it they forced the family to incest and murder. They used them to find more information on other families who also carried the curse of Belial.
The Mayfair family had to flee France under suspicion of witchcraft from the Inquisition. Many of the family were burned at the stake, their ‘Nameless’ protectors vanishing into the night.

Only a daughter, Charlotte escaped with her ailing husband Antoine. The family had a plantation in St Dominique and they found sanctuary. They lived for a while in happiness and simple luxury, until Peter van Gage arrived portraying himself as a ‘family friend’, rather than the father of Charlotte. Antoine shortly died of a wasting sickness. Peter made Charlotte his wife. It was no act. Peter was a monster who broke the will of his daughter. He also managed, somehow, to make contact with the ‘Nameless’ and they made their way to St Dominique in the form of a slave bokor known as Papa Iblis. With his arrival and control over both the slaves and the family things proceeded as they did in France but this time without any interruption or threat as the plantation owners lived as kings, their word as law.

The Nameless had learned prudence though. Mayfair’s married outside the family and kept the incest behind closed doors. It was with Peter’s daughter/ granddaughter where the split in the family happened. Jeanne Louise, after giving birth to Angelique, became fascinated with voodoo, believing that in the loa there was a chance of escape from the ‘Nameless’. She was not one of the ‘chosen’, as it was known that the Blood poison’s the womb. Jeanne Louise had her own mind and kept her own counsel. In this she had one ally, a slave hougan who knew that the Mayfair’s were evil and that their patrons were… unnatural. It was all for naught however, Iblis found out about Jeanne Louise’s planned betrayal and killed her, blaming the hougan. He fled to a distant corner of the island.

At this time, the instability of the offspring of hundreds of years of selective inbreeding became apparent with birth defects and madness becoming common. The Nameless were forced to allow Angelique to breed outside the family. It was she that protected Marie Claudette from the worst of the Nameless’ influence and encouraged her to leave the island.

Marie Claudette had the aid of the hougan, this time changed horribly. He was like the undead of the Nameless yet unlike. Despite his fearsome visage and creepy demeanour he was kind hearted. The last Marie Claudette saw of him was fighting for his existence on the shore of St Dominique, against Papa Iblis and the Nameless.

With this memory Marie Claudette starts to fade, spectral tears rolling down her pale cheek. Her last words to the coterie are ‘the stone is missing. Find the Mayfair Emerald.’

Foucault spends more time with Cross, assisting him with his business endeavours and learning about his new childe. Foucault offers Cross a deal: in return for finding out the correct protocol to allow Rieger to pass in Kindred society, he will assist Foucault in a personal project, once again involving the spectral inhabitants of New Orleans.

Foucault and MacArthur will discern the resting places of known occultists in order to find out what they know about the Whisperers while making enquiries into Papa Iblis’s demonic affiliations using leads from his journal. Cross cannot hear what Foucault says to the ghosts, as they communicate in some other space, but is unnerved by the roiling darkness that swathes his associate when he talks with the dead.

On the personal front, Foucault finally decides to make his formal introduction to Aaron Mayfair, asking Stella whether her father/creator would be willing see the two of them. Foucault’s motives are divided between the desire to build a relationship with the powerful mage for political purposes and to pave the way for him to be able to marry Stella in some twisted ceremony.

The response he receives is less than warm. A letter he finds in the inside pocket of his coat. The coterie don’t see it but for days afterwards he is in a dark mood. With little notice he arranges to take Stella for a fairly debauched holiday in New York. On his return he says little, other than telling Cross he saw Arthur Miller’s new play on Broadway… “Death of a Salesman”.

Stella is clearly enjoying returning to her old ways. Foucault knows for sure she has had several lovers but doesn’t keep them long. Ash’s capacity for learning is insatiable and he has by this time already devoured all the books in the house and most books in the library. Stella insists he has a home tutor who can keep up with his burgeoning intelligence and keen insight. It is at this point that he starts keeping secrets. The letters to Foucault continue but they are not as open as they once were. Where Ash used to talk about himself and what he is doing, now he asks a barrage of questions about Foucault, what has he been doing, why doesn’t he come during the day?

A slight set back to Foucault’s connections with the New Orleans Mafia troubles him slightly. Silver Dollar Sam, the boss of the Family is finally deported to Sicily. After much manoeuvring among the Capos, Carlos Marcello is made Don. He instantly takes control of the lucrative French Quarter, pushing his uncle to the Fauborg Marigny. Alphonse Marcello approaches Foucault for a favour. He needs a sit down with the nightclub owner Sundown if he is going to manage to fend off Dominic Gage, the shadowy criminal figure behind much of the areas gambling and nightlife. Only Sundown can match Gage in terms of cash and influence but he refuses to take Al’s calls.

Hampton spends the year learning under Cimitiere and Gabrielle, as best he can. If an opportunity arises, he attempts to push the discussion in the direction to the myths of the slaves, particularly Anansi. He learns little to nothing. Anansi is not a part of the Kindred Loa and of little interest to either of the Nosferatu. Gabrielle does mention however that there is word among the unbound of a strange Ventrue that has been slumming it for the last year. The only reason she mentions it is that some of them refer to him as Spider.

In kindred society Hampton attempts to cement his ties with the Unsanctified Nosferatu and split the Freak Show along the lines of this new political divide as well. Those who are high should be brought low. In exchange for supporting Miss Opal, he asks her to use whatever connections she may have to ensure his brother is observed. While he still loves and dearly misses his brother, he also burns to know what rich pickings he has inherited along with his title. But he dare not approach… for now. He learns that Sebastian has settled in well and is being coached by Pierpont McGinn to enter the Invictus. Vinter acts as his manservant and has been looking for both Hampton and Julianne. Their father hasn’t been seen except for an occasional glimpse for about a year now. Rumour is that he is a sick man.

Miss Opal delivers a shocking piece of news to Hampton. She is going to voluntarily enter torpor. It is only right that she as Priscus do all she can to heal the divide she has inadvertently caused. Her terms to the Prince are that a Nosferatu be raised to the Court. Something that has never ever happened before. She already knows who it will be. Gus ‘Gutterball’ Elgin will be made Master of Elysium at the next Midnight Mass. The Priscus should be Baron Cimitiere but he has refused, then Tobias Grout but he has refused. It will fall next to Andrea Oulette.

Oulette uses her status for her own ends and that of the secret society that she is allegedly a key part of. The casual discipline that Opal held over the Haunts of New Orleans slowly break down. There are a rash of illegal Embraces across the city. The Worm Underground swells with fresh neonates.

With his wife and son becoming more distant Cross has lost an anchor to the world he inhabited in mortal life. The effects are subtle at first, but over the course of the year begin to manifest more strongly.

Both Foucault and Hampton are engaged in inherently supernatural endeavours, and the more Cross assists them in their conversations with the dead or the raising of their unnatural family unit the farther he roams from the life he once knew. No longer a salesman, barely even a husband or father, who is he? His search for identity leads him into the seedier parts of the French Quarter where, consumed by a need to reclaim some sensation from mortal life, he feeds on a prostitute. It is through this girl that he discovers the joys of opium laced through a mortal’s blood.

By the years end half a dozen of these new medicated “Talyas” have perished from overdose or exsanguination.

The puppet childe Rieger’s education progresses far quicker with the aid of the rest of the coterie, and Cross is under the impression that the service he is providing for Foucault is yielding results, although he cannot reliably say what these are. By the end of the Rieger has the knowledge and ritae to pass himself off as one of the Sanctified. Now all he needs to do is present himself to the Prince, who has been cracking down over the past year in order to stall potential supporters of Savoy.

Cross’ command of the discipline Majesty has grown considerably over the last few years and using the ability around Foucault allows him to subtly practise using the skill on his coterie mate. He does not truly wish to control Foucault, but needs to be sure that when the time comes he can use his power on rival Kindred.

Cross has invested wisely over the past seven years and now has a steady income from multiple properties, all of which are outfitted with hidden, daylight proof areas. After a mortal mugging forces him to kill three men Cross begins to travel with hired human bodyguards. These blunt instruments have no understanding of the supernatural, but the two ghouls Cross has created are well aware of their master’s nature. Cross has bestowed wealth and property on both of them, advancing them in mortal areas so that they will be more effective tools when the time comes.

Blood trail

1950

The rash of Nosferatu Embraces continues until Donovan re-emerges from Torpor. He then quickly takes care to punish the Nosferatu sires. He does this all by himself, overstepping the boundaries of Sheriff, revealing a dark sadistic streak. No one dies but all are physically assaulted and publicly humiliated. The Court silently approves and Sheriff Donovan starts using his additional powers.

At the age of four Ash has a tutor appointed, a friendly though matronly woman named Mary, she acts as a governess while Stella enjoys her time out of the house, sometimes not returning for several days. Mary is extremely intelligent and challenges Ash for the first time academically. His attitude changes considerably, his reading slows but his understanding increases. His letters to Foucault also peter out. Mary encourages Stella to allow Ash to mix with other children his own age, in the park and at social gatherings. This doesn’t go well. The young infants attempt to bully Ash but instead he manipulates them, learning quickly to bend people’s weaknesses to his own ends, creating a small gang of young, surly children.

In response to the rapid expansion of the French Quarter, Prince Vidal takes a radical but brilliant approach. Capitalising on the historic status of the area he lists a circle of buildings in and around the French Quarter. This creates a noose around the boundaries of Savoy’s domain, not only limiting any further growth but also making a host of reasons to embarrass and distract Savoy with the responsibility of policing the buildings.

Foucault, with the guidance of Aldous MacArthur structures his cult a little further. He decides on a name: ‘Keepers of the Ninth Gate’ and scribes a cult text, using 200 year old paper found at Azazel’s Bookshop and provided by Hampton. The cult text, hidden in the rambling quasi-gnostic prose, spells out that the ‘Enlightened’ are on a special mission to defeat demonic forces at work in the world through the wisdom and power of the restless dead. The cult’s actual purpose is make sure that no one enters or investigates the safe house in which Stella and the children live. The security guard protects the perimeter during the day, the police official makes sure that he investigates any reported crimes in close proximity to the safe house and the councillor’s wife keeps the cult informed of new legislation and manipulates her husband into liaising with the relevant departments to acquire the necessary certifications and payment of all money due to City Hall and utilities companies.

Cross puts his mind to building his reputation in both Kindred and Mortal circles as ‘someone who can get things done’. People start coming to him to sort problems out and he manages to expand a little influence into both the street level Mafia and the echelons of high society.

Hampton spends his time on two things. First he continues training with Cimitiere, starting to grasp the principles of Kindred Vodoun, growing spiritually but moving away from his own Humanity. He indulges darker pursuits in focusing, every year at Mardi Gras, on scalping Belial’ Brood. He picks off a few neonates, recently recruited and going through the initiation but none of the ‘names’ of the Brood. In this he is inadvertently helped by Donovan, information and aid seems to arrive when Hampton needs it. He starts to get the uneasy feeling he is being used.

The Harpies notice the coterie with their rise in status and power. They quickly turn their name from ‘Cross and Associates’ to the Crosses. Jacob can’t help but smile.

Blood trail

1951

Foucault and Hampton engage on a pursuit for information regarding this ‘Mayfair Emerald’. Hampton knows of the stone, its status within the Mayfair family, the fact that the female designee would not only inherit the stone, she would inherit the entire Mayfair wealth and influence. Hampton realises that Julianne, his sister, should have it. Associated with the Mayfair Emerald are rumours that it has mystic properties. It is said to protect the Mayfair family from its enemies, after it was gifted to Marie Claudette by a hougan in St Dominique. Hampton quickly realises that this Hougan was Baron Cimitiere. Foucault tells his coterie mate of the fact that the ghost he saw on the first night was wearing an emerald just like the one the ghost of Marie Claudette was wearing. Hampton puts together that Seth Mayfair his cousin and ‘former’ member of the Brood (slain in Chapter One) killed Belle Mayfair, the then designee and stole the emerald for Belial’s Brood.

Nearly straight after the last Nosferatu sire was punished, DonovanDonovan and Gus ‘Gutterball’ Elgin make their presence known in the French Quarter. Donovan seems to delight in punishing those Kindred who had taken up the Lord of the French Quarter’s offer to take feeding grounds on the edges of his domain, expanding his area beyond the Quarter.

Ash clearly loves Stella and she spoils him with affection and gifts. The child takes to calling her ‘his Stella’ rather than mother or mom. This is the year he manages to escape the haven and follows ‘his Stella’ on one of her trips around New Orleans. Stella catches him and returns him to the haven, dismissing Mary for her failure. Mary is replaced by a Mr Small, a petty tyrant in the disguise of a former university lecturer. Ash looks at Stella and Foucault differently from this moment on, his attitude changing subtly, sarcasm and scorn entering his vocabulary for the first time. He clashes often with Mr Small who can’t seem to stand the intelligent and witty infant, there is some attempts at discipline but despite bruises and marks Ash refuses to let Stella dismiss Mr Small claiming that ‘he amuses me’.

Foucault takes the time to sit down with several occult texts given to him by Hampton from Azazel’s Bookshop and learns that these ‘Whisperers’ are in fact the first supposed stage of demonic evolution. Aldous MacArthur does not know why these ‘Whisperers’ are present to such a degree in New Orleans but from the books say this is the largest occurrence ever noted. What could it mean?

In a scheme he concocted to practice his command of the discipline of Majesty, Jacob Cross kidnaps a neonate Ventrue of the Sanctified, named Santiago Lacoste. Over the course of a period of weeks, Santiago is beaten, tortured and subjected to waves of Majesty and Nightmare (from Hampton). He is made to believe that he has been kidnapped by Hunters and they are trying to pump him for information. He gives the coterie nothing and manages to escape, after learning that Donovan is next on their list… just as Cross had planned. With rumours of Hunters in New Orleans, and they the only ones who know it is false, they have a perfect cover story and distraction for anything they ‘need to do’.

The story spreads through the city, taking on a life of its own. Many are on the look out for these Hunters, that move so quickly and leave little to no trace. Even Donovan is seen to be looking over his shoulder in unfamiliar places.

Blood trail

1952

Donovan becomes a celebrated hero when the reporter who was going to blow in the Masquerade in New Orleans winded up not only not running the story but ended up in the local sanitarium.

Antoine Savoy surprises everyone when he punishes a Sanctified Nosferatu for breaking Elysium. Vince Friendly had taken matters into his own hands in a clash with a Hound of Vidal who was a little overenthusiastic in enforcing borders. He ended up chasing Alice Stable, an Unaligned Gangrel into Preservation hall where he proceeded to beat her close to torpor. This was a blatant breach of the laws of Elysium and it surprised the majority of Kindred that Savoy took the Prince’s laws so seriously.

It is whispered down the halls and alleys of the Kindred Court that the new Nosferatu Priscus is being manipulated by Lidia Kendall, a Gangrel and a member of the secret society in New Orleans. It began with using her clout to aid the secret society but it now becomes clear that it is favouring Baron Cimitiere, Kendall’s lord.

In Foucault’s home, Mr Small dies. Ash, now 6, is the one to find his body hanging from a rafter in his bedroom. Stella and Foucault catches Ash attempting to burn a suicide note where Mr Small confesses to molesting Ash. Ash denies that anything happened. He insists his next tutor should be grandfather Mayfair, ‘the cleverest man he knows’. In an attempt to get Ash to not go to his grandfather as a tutor, Foucault answers Ash’s questions regarding his vampiric condition. Ash solemnly takes in the information and thanks his father for his candour but he makes it clear that his mind is made up, not even Hampton’s entertaining stories of his old tutor Vinter makes Ash shake the conviction that his next mentor should be the ‘old man’.

Meanwhile Jacob Cross does everything in his power to be the fun ‘uncle’, blasting the children with his Majesty. He brings them toys and sweets, almost mesmerising them with fantastic tales that he makes up on the spot. Hampton also throws himself into supporting the family unit by building a shadowy tree house structure for Ash and Julianne. It is not only dark but a death trap. Ash loves it.

Foucault finally manages to pin Sundown to a meeting with Al Marcello. Sundown drives a hard bargain, asking for a favour to be named later. Foucault attempts to put in some pre-conditions but Sundown refuses to hear it. It’s not to Sundown’s benefit, why should he care?

Hampton gatecrashes a family event that Sebastian has organised. His father is not in evidence, apparently too ill to attend the event. Hampton hobnobs with his now estranged extended family who balk a little at his appearance and demeanour but with the amount of incest that has occurred in the Mayfair past, the occasional mutation is nothing to get hung up on. He does not speak to Sebastian, although he watches him closely. Apart from a more pallid complexion, there seems nothing different about him. Their Predator’s Taints clash and both make great efforts to stop their instinctive hostility to take over.

Hampton learns however that Sebastian has been seeking to gain guardianship over Julianne Mayfair, their sister and designee of the Mayfair fortune. None at the party has seen her, although they do get drawings, pictures and stories from Sebastian. Hampton can’t help but let slips a few ‘truths’, not that he tells them where Julianne is but subtly suggesting that Sebastian has no idea about Julianne’s best interests. The rumours spread by themselves and it is quite clear that although most of the family were in favour, they are now suspicious of Sebastian’s motives.

Blood trail

1953

After long rambling discussions and vendetta laden clashes Coco Duquette becomes Prefect of the Carthians. Her appointment brings a sense of calm to the city as the Carthians quickly unite behind their new spokesperson. It is a sad year for Coco as her sire Henri Starkweather leaves, leaving a gap amongst the Harpies.

In her dizzying heights of status and crushing lows of isolation her relationship with Cross deepens, although she voices suspicions that Cross pursued her because of her status.

A worrying rumour is that the Nosferatu are beginning to unite under Baron Cimitiere. The Baron’s faction swells with Kindred looking for protection against Vidal’s wrath. The atmosphere of Treme begins to bleaken as the presence of so many Haunts affects the place.

Ash starts having night terrors and waking up in the middle of the night screaming. He talks of a strange presence at the window and a feeling of impending doom. Foucault tries to find the source of these night terrors but fails. Ash simply shrugging and says it doesn’t matter.

Cross’ power of Majesty deepens. He goes everywhere with his supernatural charisma out and about. Kindred notice him, mortals give him the respect he has long felt that he deserved. He uses it even around the children. Julianne fawns over him while Ash seems a little resistant but still seems to enjoy ‘Uncle Jacob’s’ visits. Stella however, starts to flirt with the Daeva under the effects of Cross’ spell. Foucault notices but says nothing. He watches carefully, the stirring of jealousy in his dead heart.

Another addition to Cimitiere’s court is a Gangrel, named Doc Xola. Of Polish birth he is known in the city as a back-street abortionist and Vodoun bokor, a peddler of curses and poisons. Upon his Embrace and joining the Baron’s Court, the rumours coming from Xola’ surgery becomes darker. One low placed Invictus tells the story that she met the Doc and he was sucking, absent-mindedly on an aborted fetus.

Foucault, upon receiving the letter from Aaron, believes it might be worth the risk to learn as much as he can about his shadowy manipulator. He fails. Or at least he believes he did, yet he comes across notes written to him in, in his own hand. No sense can be made of what he finds but it is clear he has been doing a considerable amount of investigating, leaving notes to himself that he doesn’t remember writing.

Gabrielle and her childe’s relationship deepens. With Hampton’s studies into Vodoun, they spend more time together. Their mutual antagonism to each other flares regularly, usually ending in barely resisted Frenzies and verbal and physical assault. One such fight doesn’t abate and sire and child rip chunks of flesh from each other, lost to the Beast. It ends, to the surprise of both, in bloody sex on the floor of Gabrielle’s Haven.

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