Campaign of the Month: October 2017

Blood and Bourbon

======================================== NAVIGATION: CAMPAIGN SIDE ========================================
======================================== NAVIGATION: DASHBOARD SIDE ========================================

Story Four, Caroline I, Louis I

“I guess you gave up on winning and settled for losing more slowly.”
Louis Fontaine


Friday night, 11 September 2015, AM

GM: Aimee retires to a sleep that seems sure to be anything but restful. Caroline seeks out her other ghoul. Autumn has fallen almost asleep on a couch downstairs. She’s washed off the blood and bile from several hours ago and is wearing a different shirt. One of Caroline’s, actually, and it hangs loosely on her shorter frame.

She sits up and rubs her forehead as her domitor approaches. When asked as to the state of the house’s bugs, she groggily answers, “They’re disabled. The ones I planted, anyways. Maybe the Krewe sent other people, but if they did I haven’t seen any trace.”

“Also… one other thing, about boons. A lot of Kindred actually owe major ones,” Autumn explains. “They don’t see it as ‘mortaging their futures’. That’s more like a blood boon.” The ghoul raises her hands. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m really, really grateful for what you did. Agnello would’ve killed me. ‘Thanks’ feels pretty inadequate for that, but… seriously, thanks. I can be useful. You won’t regret it.”

“Anyway, I’m just saying that owing Harlequin a debt that big isn’t as bad, or as rare, as you might think. He owes boons too.”

Caroline: “So I gathered,” Caroline replies. “Though usually Kindred don’t offer them up willingly to elders who make no secret of their distaste.”

She stiffly moves to a chair. Her body doesn’t hurt from the evening’s ordeals or her earlier scuffle with the ghoul. But she feels tired, all the same. Her hunger is still there, roaring in the back of her mind. The headaches facing her only continue to grow.

“Though,” she continues after a moment, “I suppose that should be one of the least of my concerns.” She smiles bitterly. “Worry about the payment on the house when it isn’t on fire.”

GM: “I guess so,” agrees Autumn.

“Also, about that. Turner’s heard too much. She saw Aimee shouting that I’d electrocuted her, heard her raving about ‘the Court’, and then go from totally losing it to quiet as a mouse. It’s… really suspicious. If you can’t erase her memories, you’ll need to ghoul her.”

Caroline: “Turner,” she murmurs as the conversation moves away.

“Is that the Krewe’s normal MO in these situations?”

GM: “Well, this wasn’t a direct breach. But the Krewe’s MO isn’t just to clean up problems as they happen. You nip all potential ones in the bud too. The Krewe grills that into us from day one. Ounce of prevention, pound of cure, and all that.”

“Besides, Turner can’t really do her job if she doesn’t know anything about the threats she’ll be protecting you from. What do you bet the odds are she’ll get sucked into the all-night society if she’s following you around everywhere, anyways?”

Caroline: “Not tonight,” she agrees in part. “I don’t have it in me if it goes sideways.”

How quickly she’s accepted dragging others down this path. No wonder Lou lives alone in his office—the only way to keep people safe.

That isn’t the way for her, though. Pride, that most immortal of sins, wins out over selflessness. In truth, she could probably make it work tonight if she really wanted to. Healing McGinn’s whipping and Autumn’s stun gun took a lot out of her, but she could take a tap off from Turner and feed it back. It is so much easier to justify these compromises when she has Aimee and Autumn to consider.

“Tomorrow might; after I’ve had a chance to feed.”

Turner. What’s one more on this ride down the road to hell?

GM: Autumn initially looks as if she’s going to object to putting off Turner. She doesn’t. It’s been a long night. Caroline can see the exhaustion in her eyes.

So she nods, then asks in a hesitant voice, “So… how often are you going to need me?”

Caroline: “Need you in what regard?”

GM: “Well, to do things for you. I mean, I have school, a job, my family… it’d be easier to plan my life if I knew when you’re gonna need me.” After thinking for a moment, she adds, “And what you’ll need me for, I guess. When I worked for the Krewe, I pretty much just went to school, kept an eye out for Masquerade threats at the student paper, and did the occasional stake-out or other job. So… how’s this gonna work?”

Caroline: She chews on Autumn’s last question. How much is too much? A petty, vicious, hurt part of her wants to lash out, to scream that after tonight she practically owns Autumn. But even now, even screaming, it is a small voice next to the woman’s laughter and the thought of her life. Still…

“I’m going to lean heavily on you this week—and likely more heavily than the Krewe thereafter. If something has to give, call it the job, but use your own discretion.”

GM: “All right,” says Autumn. If she’s apprehensive about giving up her job, she doesn’t say anything. Caroline doesn’t practically own her. Caroline does own her.

Caroline: “First I need you to help get Aimee—and Turner—up to speed. The more quickly you can do so, the more responsibility you can pass off to them.” She looks the ghoul down sharply. “And make no mistake, that’s going to take work. Aimee is… stubborn.” She thinks to the firearm she’s since taken apart and stored somewhere secure. Somewhere else. Aimee isn’t going to have access to the guns in the house anymore.

“It may be better to wait on pushing her until… later.”

GM: “Uh, you might want to talk to her before I do,” says Autumn. “I don’t think I’m gonna get a very friendly reception after tasering her out and everything else just a few hours ago.”

Caroline: “I also need you to do some snooping for me.” She describes the attack on her at Southern Decadence and tells Autumn to check out the coroner’s office. “See what you can find out, if anything, about past cases that match the MO.”

She pauses. “And he struck at sundown. I won’t keep you all night, but I’ll have some business to attend.”

She pauses for a moment to gauge Autumn’s reaction.

GM: She nods at the instructions to scope out the coroner’s office. “Okay, I can do that.”

Caroline: Another thought creeps unbidden into her mind, and her expression softens. “You mentioned the Krewe was financially supporting you. No doubt they will begin cutting their ties. Let me know when it happens, and of whatever you need. I know this will be a rough adjustment, but I’d like it to be as smooth as possible.”

GM: Autumn initially grimaces, then nods in seeming relief.

“They did help out,” the ghoul replies. “A lot, actually, though it probably isn’t a lot to you. I guess we could even think of it as a salary.”

She pauses. “Thanks.”

Caroline: It’s a small thing.

But it’s a lot to Autumn.

“I won’t let this destroy your life.”


Friday evening, 11 September 2015

GM: There’s one benefit to no longer needing to hide her true nature from Aimee. Caroline spends her first night in a real bed… or something closer to one. She brings up pillows, blankets, and bedding to the attic: Autumn judged her bedroom curtains insufficiently thick to block out the sun. The ghoul floats the ideas of buying some custom extra-thick ones.

Caroline sleeps like a dead woman. She wakes up. Aimee is gone, along with many of her things. The reluctant ghoul has left a voice message on Caroline’s phone that she’s moving out. She “needs space.” She’s also afraid that “other vampires” might show up at the house, and she has no intention of being around when they do.

Caroline: Everything still hurts, but nothing so much as the hunger eating at her. She dresses quickly as she contemplates where to start. Aimee’s departure is a headache—she needs to run her down at some point—but she needs something more first.

And she needs to do something else before that. She dials Wright’s number with the provided burner.

GM: He picks up. She can just picture the look on the hound’s face as he says, “This is gonna be fuckin’ rich.”

Caroline: Caroline bites back an instinctively biting response to the hound. Polite, she thinks.

“Good evening, Hound Wright.” She keeps her tone polite. “Should I presume you heard then of last night’s events?”

GM: “You bet I did,” he answers.

Caroline: She explains in as much detail as he requires, before moving onto the next order of business.

“I gather that I have been rather a headache over the last week—I hope to correct that. Is there anything you need of me presently?”

GM: Wright listens patiently to Caroline’s summary of last night’s events. It might just be her imagination that the hound seems particularly quiet at the mention of her new ghouls.

“Heard you made my bud’s job harder,” Wright finally grunts, “so I guess we gonna see.”

“You better have a better gameplan for tonight than gettin’ cold feet ‘round Gutterball Elgin. Clock’s tickin’, girl. The sheriff ain’t givin’ you forever to find your sire.”

Caroline: “I’m going to follow up on some medical records, need to speak with some individuals Father Malveaux recommended, and haven’t given up on other means,” Caroline explains. “Matters last night complicated things, but it is not my intention to take advantage of the sheriff’s stay.”

GM: “You know what intentions count for by now,” Wright answers.

Caroline: That she does.

GM: The hound hangs up.


Friday evening, 11 September 2015

Caroline: The smell of Autumn is enticing. Fresh. Young. Academic. That bestial part of her can barely resist leaping upon her. No protracted seduction, no back alley stalking, just a short and brutal assault in her own home. It would be so easy.

She resists the urge. Autumn is her responsibility, not her victim. Instead she recruits the woman into her cause, setting off with her to the meager hunting grounds her regent has allowed her. She needs a victim, needs the blood, and not only for herself. She’s a danger to others, to her ghouls, and to the Masquerade.

GM: There aren’t a lot of bars left in Riverbend that Caroline hasn’t already visited or aren’t off-limits for her to hunt at. After some searching, she settles on a place called Madigan’s Bar and hails a cab. An underpaid, weary-looking Ryde driver takes them to the drinking establishment. The lights are dim, the conversations low, the patrons quiet and sullen towards non-regulars. The place is as dead as its nonexistent online presence. Caroline and Autumn get shot down several times before attaching themselves to a loud college student who gets it into his head that he’ll be able to fuck both of them at once because he’s the best game in town. Why he’s here instead of a college bar closer to Tulane, Caroline isn’t sure. The Ventrue is by now sick of bathroom liaisons, and the three make their way to the young man’s car, his hands never far from their asses. Autumn stands watch to deter any onlookers who might notice the thrashing bodies and noisy slurping noises from inside the car.

Caroline: She makes her move quickly when she spots the boy. Autumn at her side, a waiting car outside, silky promises. It makes her feel hollow and empty. Her maw yawns wide. Ravaged flesh, ravaged lips, groping hands. It has no meaning, so it can’t hurt her. At least that’s what she tells herself. It works in part.

The ride back in another Ryde is quiet. Caroline works her phone, sending out texts to Aimee and others requesting that she join them at home. She studies Autumn, examining the woman’s reaction to the night’s events thus far. As needed, she probes with questions.

GM: Autumn seems moderately uncomfortable over the boy’s sexual attention, but glad to have helped out her domitor and to feel like part of the hunt. She also thinks the boy deserved it.

Caroline: Back at home, Caroline is fairly quick to business reopening a wound on her wrist—one Autumn used the night before in fact—for the ghoul. The almost business-like quality of the action only underscores how the house, a week ago the sanctuary of two successful young law students, has since forfeited all sense of tranquility and peace. In truth, even Caroline no longer feels safe here. She can’t fault Aimee for her flight, aggravating as it is.

She bids Autumn to drink once more, tying the woman to her more tightly.

GM: Autumn stares longingly at Caroline’s wrist, then falteringly insists, “I shouldn’t… you’re running low as it is, and I’m already good for the month…”

Caroline isn’t buying it. When the Ventrue presses the point, she relents, “Look, in the Krewe… we aren’t collared to any one lick. Harlequin’s in charge of the Krewe, sure, but other licks ponied up their own renfields and resources to found it, and they didn’t want him in total control. We drink a mix of every Krewe member’s blood, twice when we join, then once a month. The other ghouls, they’re not like us. They’re slaves. Their domitors don’t even trust them to do their jobs unless they’re fully collared.”

Autumn’s voice wavers as she pleads, eyes still cutting back and forth from Caroline’s face to her sweetly bleeding wrist, “Look, I… I know how this works. You bought me, fair and square. I’ll do whatever you say. Other licks all know I’m yours. You’re my only source for a fix. I’m not gonna run off or anything. My family’s in town, I couldn’t do that even if I wanted to. And I’m not asking you to take me on faith. The Krewe doesn’t do it, and it works for them.”

Fear is naked and plain on the ghoul’s face.

Caroline: “You’re asking a great deal.” Carolina’s tone is as cold as her undead heart—that is to say filled with fresh blood as it is right now at best lukewarm. “Especially since you are bound to the Krewe as it stands, and since unlike an anonymous ghoul working for them, you are going to be very much exposed, and privy to damaging information.”

She pauses. Principle and practicality war inside. To enslave her, make her a servant, a worshiper. To risk everything and betrayal by letting her run relatively free. It’s wrong, unequivocally wrong. But the stakes here are so very high.

“Do you have an alternative to propose?”

GM: Autumn shrugs helplessly. “My collar to the Krewe will wear off, if I don’t keep drinking from them every month. Don’t… you want someone you can just trust and be honest with? No Masquerade, no mind control?”

Caroline: Caroline’s emerald eyes are as hard as the gems. Pain, fatigue, hunger. Spiritual and psychological maiming. A confidant? Someone like Aimee… Aimee who is near adrift, who she has to enslave. Aimee who she still needs to…

GM: Autumn continues, quietly, “Wouldn’t you rather have a friend than a slave?”

Caroline: She knows what the answer is in her heart. She also knows what the answer would be if she asked Father Malveaux. And God?

GM: Caroline remembers walking into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the sensation of wanting to wretch without even having the bodily fluids to expel. How her heart tried to hammer and couldn’t. How she was sick to her very soul. Jocelyn’s words that some Kindred even burst into flames. God, if He’s there at all, seems to have little love for her kind.

Caroline: Caroline holds up her arm as the blood continues to flow, shifting it to running up her forearm. A friend.

Her tone changes. It’s more conversational now. The Beast slips out through her smile, its will filling her voice with soothing, comfortable tones. Autumn can trust her. Confide in her.

“You aren’t still working for Harlequin, are you, Autumn?”

GM: “No, of course not!” the shiny-eyed ghoul answers, shaking her head. “He kicked me out. He’s done with me. He doesn’t care about me, not like you do.”

Caroline: “So I’m the only person you work for?” Caroline presses. “You aren’t spying on me for any other Kindred? You’re not taking blood from anyone else?”

GM: Autumn shakes her head again. “No, just you. And no, I’m not. You’re the only lick I work for.”

Caroline: She releases her mental hold over the ghoul with a meaningless breath.

Truth? Probably. It may also be that her powers are not strong enough to ferret out deception. But she wants to believe it is true.

“It’s what I would have done,” she gives as a means of answer. “Slip in someone. I wanted to be as certain as I could.”

“I influenced your mind before I asked those questions.” The pause might normally be broken by a sip of a drink, but that would end badly. “Two steps, but no further. For now.”

GM: Confusion is evident on Autumn’s face for a moment. Her breath stills as fear rather than earnestness returns to her gaze, then gives way to some measure of relief… tempered by healthy apprehension.

“Thanks,” Autumn says slowly. “You won’t regret it.”

She accepts her domitor’s arm and drinks deeply, with all the relief of a junkie scoring a hit after a bad day. When Caroline tells her that’s enough, she licks the fang puncture marks clean. Adoration shines in her eyes. It fades as the hit’s rush wears off, but the Ventrue can feel her servant’s gaze lingering.

Caroline: “I know,” Caroline replies mildly as her servant drinks from her.

One way or another.


Friday evening, 11 September 2015

GM: Autumn has more news for Caroline. The man in charge of the coroner’s office, Amos Wilkinson, had evidently suffered some kind of personal tragedy and was taking time off. Things were a mess at the office, but the overworked and impatient staff was still very clear that Autumn needed to be next of kin to obtain a coroner’s report, or no report. Lacking Caroline’s powers over minds, the ghoul simply stole a photocopy. She wasn’t spotted.

Caroline flips through field after field of mundane information on the form. Sex: Female. Race: Caucasian. DOB: June 13th, 1996. Age: 19. Hgt: 66 in. Wgt: 135 lbs. Eyes: Unknown.

Yes. Those would have been unknown.

Neil already told her the gory details. The coroner’s report simply provides more of both. More pertinently to Caroline’s investigations is the fact that the girl (a tourist and college student named Rachel Krasinski) had two parents, an Andrew Krasinski and Megan Krasinski, who are still staying in New Orleans. Autumn also found out through some further snooping that an NOPD detective has been at least nominally put on the case.

A legal bill has also arrived from Denise. Caroline’s former boss has included a separate note wishing her well and stating that she’s still open for lunch at Cafe du Monde anytime Caroline is free.

There’s some other news, too, not from Autumn. Richard Gettis is dead! Caroline reads it on her news feeds. Luke’s sent her a text about it. So has Neil. Carson has left a phone message. After an almost two-week manhunt, the ex-detective was killed in a shootout with NOPD officers attempting to bring him in. He refused to go quietly. He’d even refused to stop presenting himself as an NOPD officer—there are reports about him visiting Tulane Medical Center, where he arrested a patient named Emmett Delacroix. (After some headache for the NOPD, Emmett was re-arrested by proper authorities.) The Whitneys were outraged when that came out. Gettis in the same building as their Sarah.

Carson thinks Gettis’ death is a good thing. It’ll spare the Devillers and Whitneys from the ordeal of a public trial and media circus. There’s no possibility of Gettis ever getting released from prison. The whole thing is just done. The girls and their families can stop stressing about Richard Gettis and move on with their lives. The superintendent might even keep his job.

But that may be cold comfort for the Whitney family. Neil says the doctors decided to take Sarah out of her medically induced coma. She still hasn’t woken up.

Caroline: Caroline writes a pair of rather large checks by conventional standards—for both Aimee and Denise—and makes a note of the detective’s name and forwards it to Denise as another point of interest.

The news of Gettis’ death stirs a number of emotions. But she concurs with her uncle. Good riddance. She’s glad the girls and their families now have that measure of peace and closure—cold comfort that it may indeed be for the Whitneys. If she’d just done a better job, worked Sarah before Yvonne…

She lets the regretful thoughts die. She has problems enough to deal with.

GM: Autumn asks what Caroline is writing her friend a check for, and adds that she could probably look into this guy too if the Ventrue wants.

Caroline: “Mundane investigations.” Caroline brushes off the question. “And there are much better uses of your time. Tell me, did the Krewe to your knowledge ever investigate my sire?”

GM: “I don’t know, sorry. They didn’t tell me about it if they did. And they only told me what I needed to do my job at Tulane.”

Caroline: Caroline nods, running through her mental checklist for the night. Aimee. Marco. School. Her family. Too many uncomfortable questions have been piling up. Too many fires and not enough fire hoses.

She looks over ‘her’ ghoul, trying to judge how close she is to exhaustion.

GM: After a full day away from Caroline, Autumn looks relatively well. There are bags under her eyes, perhaps from little sleep, but she is no longer caked in her own blood and bile.

Caroline: “I had an… unfortunate… no, I mauled a woman last night.” She gives Autumn the address. “I’d like you to follow up, try to ensure it isn’t going to balloon into a problem. Once you have, go home. See your family. Get some sleep.”

The first step in repentance is admission of one’s sins, wholly and honestly. She gives out as many details as Autumn requires.

GM: Autumn asks a few follow-up questions and affirms Caroline’s belief that checking on the woman is the responsible thing to do so far as maintaining the Masquerade is concerned. The ghoul doesn’t voice any further judgment over the savage home invasion.

“So if she’s just lying in a hospital bed, is there anything else you want me to do, or leave it at that?”

Caroline: “Get her information, that of her son.” The shame of the whole affair is clear in her face. “Make sure she is going to recover.” She pauses at the look on the woman’s face. “It wasn’t supposed to happen that way.”

GM: “I guess it never does,” Autumn answers quietly.

“But at least you care. That’s something.”

Caroline: “When things settle, I’ll do what I can.” The last bit is almost wistful.


Friday evening, 11 September 2015

Caroline: Caroline finally broaches the topic of Turner with Autumn. “In your estimation, what is the best way to broach the subject?” She smiles disarmingly. “Does one typically extend an offer, or simply drag others in?”

She digs out the dossier on Turner that Blackwatch provided, to aid in the anticipated ‘job offer’ while she waits to hear back from Aimee, or for her roommate to arrive as the text requested.

GM: Turner responds in a timely manner to her employer, saying she will be at Caroline’s address in Audubon Place soon.

Aimee responds no, she’s feeling sick. She felt light-headed all throughout the day and just gave out when she was moving boxes. She’s taking it easy and eating a lot of scrambled eggs with cheese.

You wouldn’t know anything about why I’m sick, would you? There’s lots of gaps in my memory, her text ends.

Autumn, meanwhile, advises Caroline to “frame it like a job offer. Don’t just tell Turner that vampires are real and she should drink your blood, or she’ll think you’re crazy. Give her a demonstration of what the Blood can do. I bet any merc would kill for a strength boost or healing factor like that. Then show her the other stuff. Your fangs, your disciplines. Let her actually see it’s real. Then explain what it all means, and say she can be part of our world and live forever. Or she can turn you down and not remember any of this.”

The ghoul pauses. “And yeah, you’ll… be better off if you really mean that. If Turner isn’t going to say yes, she probably won’t be very reliable anyway. Bond or not. Renfields who get dragged into this life against their will turn out…” she pauses again.

“…well, like Aimee.”

Caroline: “That’s why I brought you out tonight,” Caroline replies just a quietly. “You should see, and should understand fully, personally, the price of all of this. The suffering in your every drink.”

GM: “I do understand. It’s the Krewe’s job to clean all the messes up,” Autumn answers, her voice as quiet as Caroline’s.

Caroline: “There has to be a better way than this.”

GM: Autumn gives an almost helpless shrug.

“Maybe if they manage to clone human blood someday. I hear some scientists and a famous chef recently ate cloned meat, but it cost a ton of money.”

Caroline: “Do the others just rampage about in the night every night?”

GM: The ghoul shakes her head. “They usually go for more subtlety. And all the elders have herds or tenants who pay rent in blood. I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned up for an elder. Some have ghouls who go hunting for them, too.”

Autumn pauses, then adds, “That’s not what I’m good at, though. Those guys, girls too, are usually either sex bombs or the kinds of creeps responsible for missing kids.”

Caroline: “Tell me about herds.”

GM: “Well, they’re basically ordinary people who let licks feed from them. Though not all are consensual. I hear that some licks have their hands in human trafficking. Either way, herds don’t fight back, and the licks who own them have an easier time feeding.”

Caroline: Caroline doesn’t quite shiver—she’s too worldly for that, not to mention dead—but the human trafficking clearly makes her uncomfortable.

“How is that not a violation of the Masquerade?” She clarifies, “To have free-floating mortals that allow themselves to be fed upon.”

GM: “It… depends. Lots of them don’t actually know they’re being fed on by a vampire. Maybe they’re a circle of kinky clubbers. Some of them do know, but just can’t do anything about it. Like trafficking victims chained up in a basement.”

“I guess saying they let themselves be fed on isn’t accurate. They just don’t resist. I hear that a lot of them are mind controlled. I hear there’s one lick whose herd are all girls he ‘dates’, and feeds on during sex. The kiss also helps, even for licks who can’t erase memories. It’s addictive.” She adds, “Or supposed to be, anyway. I haven’t had any personal experience there.”

Caroline: Caroline frowns, then shakes her head, clearly frustrated by the answer.

“I’ve kept you long enough tonight.”

GM: “Okay. I’ll call you when I have something for…” Autumn trails off. “Well, I guess their names will be the first thing to find out.”


Friday night, 11 September 2015, PM

GM: “You wanted to see me, ma’am?”

Turner.jpg
Lean, fearless, angry. Three words to define 164 lbs of fury wrapped in the shell of a woman. Lean toned body, a face that would be beautiful without the scars, short dark hair, Blackwatch uniform exchanged for a black pantsuit. The swagger of someone confident in their ability to fight anyone, anytime, anywhere. The quick, considering eyes that take in everything and nothing.

Caroline: “Have a seat,” Caroline offers easily.

GM: The bodyguard sits expectantly.

Caroline: It’s late, but not so very much so. The curtains are closed, and the devastated room is illuminated by only overhead lights, the others having been devastated by Wright’s band of thugs.

Caroline’s chair, taken from the remains of the dining room set, is carved rosewood that itself bears scuffs and blemishes of the indiscriminate smashing of furniture. Another in similar condition has been dragged in alongside a black marble side table that proved more resistant to the raid.

GM: Turner seems little fazed by the room’s present condition. It could well be why she has her job.

Caroline: Is there a slight pause before Caroline speaks? If so, it is only slight. She’s had time to consider this course, to set aside her concerns and smoother her conscience. Right and wrong, good and evil, poison.

They float aside in favor of her new responsibilities. She’s a Catholic. Man is fallible, and unholy monsters more so. When this is done, when the conflagration around her doors burns not so bright, she will atone. For now she will set aside her own soul for those already dragged into this firestorm.

“Miss Turner, no doubt you’ve seen some of the irregularities over the last few nights.” Her tone is easy and conversational.

GM: “Blackwatch doesn’t pay me to ask questions, ma’am,” the bodyguard answers frankly. “Neither do you.”

Caroline: Caroline smiles. “Curiosity killed the cat, then?”

GM: “A paycheck did, ma’am,” Turner responds humorlessly.

Caroline: “What if I told you that it shouldn’t? What if I told you that curiosity could bring you more than you ever imagined?”

The room is dimly illuminated without all the furnishings. Caroline is dressed in a crimson top with tight black pants that make her so-pale hands and face stand out.

“I didn’t draw your name out of a hat, you know. "

GM: “Is there something sensitive you want to tell me for my job, ma’am?” Turner asks. Her tone’s frank edge has somewhat dulled, however. There’s a growing… something in her eyes.

Caroline: Caroline’s teeth flash in such a very predatory way, for just an instant, then she is moving impossibly quickly. One moment she is sitting so casually. The next standing beside the solider of fortune.

“You could say that.”

GM: Turner blinks disbelievingly.

“The hell did you do that, ma’am?”

Caroline: Caroline laughs only a little cruelly. “That was very much my own thought at first. Have you really never seen its like before?”

GM: The initial tinge of fear Turner’s voice is still present, but there’s a note of anger too. The ex-Marine does not like being the helpless one.

“Not from a little girl like you, ma’am.”

Caroline: “The world is a different place than I’d imagined, Ms. Turner. A darker and more vicious place. The monsters under our beds were real. Are real. Are sometimes closer than we realize.”

She takes another too-quick step away. “I’d like to pull back the veil for you, if you’re willing.” Another smile. “So tell me, are you curious?”

“This is an invitation, Ms. Turner. An invitation to power you may have dreamed of, to immortality of a sort, and to seeing with both eyes open. But only an invitation.”

GM: Turner’s eyes follow Caroline’s feet. The bodyguard’s jaw clenches at the sight, and Caroline’s acute senses can smell her perspiration, hear her heart pumping in her chest.

“The hell are you talking about, ‘immortality’?”

The ’ma’am’ is finally absent.

Caroline: “Why don’t you find out?” She gestures to the woman’s left shoulder, where she knows she keeps a firearm.

GM: Turner looks as if she’s going to ask whether Caroline is serious, but it’s only for a moment. The ex-Marine pulls out her silence-capped Belgian, aims the weapon at Caroline’s own shoulder, and pulls the trigger.

Caroline: Caroline clenches her teeth when the weapon goes off. Whether it can truly maim her or not, getting shot still hurts.

GM: Little blood flows from the wound, and Caroline merely winces where a mortal might stagger or collapse.

“Vest,” Turner says reflexively.

Caroline: Caroline arches an eyebrow. There is little room for such a thing under her light top. She advances on Turner.

“Why don’t you check?”

GM: Turner grabs the collar of Caroline’s blouse and tears, exposing the blunted, bullet-shaped bruise over her pale skin.

“How?” she asks heavily.

Caroline: Caroline smiles again, inches from the other woman, exposing teeth that are so very long and sharp.

“You seem intrigued, Ms. Turner. Are you interested now?”

GM: “How?!” the merc repeats, her eyes bulging at the canines.

Caroline: “You already know,” Caroline responds evenly. “You can see it, but you have to accept it.” That smile. “Have you ever seen me during the day, Ms. Turner?”

GM: Turner looks like she’s been punched. “You’re fuckin’ shitting me.”

Caroline: “Your lying eyes. Or do you need another demonstration? I confess, I’m running out of parlor tricks. After this it gets more personal.”

GM: “Why. Why me,” Turner says flatly. “Why are you telling me any of this?”

Caroline: “Because you’re good at your job. Few family connections. Experienced. Professional.”

GM: “Why tell anyone this,” the mercenary numbly half-repeats.

Caroline: “Because you might enjoy it, which is not the case for everyone. In simple terms, I’m offering to extend your employment to another degree. In short, my kind can extend a degree of grace to another. The particulars are… well, particular. But you would be more resilient, stronger or faster, and may develop other gifts as well. And you’d never age. Your life would otherwise be very similar to it is now, save that some of,” she pauses and smiles to correct herself, “most of the threats would be a magnitude greater than you have seen. My kind, their servants of a like bearing, and similar… unnatural dangers. Because I need talented people around me, and I’d rather ask than take. Because it would set you apart from the mundane.”

GM: “Show me,” Turner demands, almost angrily. “You really drink…”

Caroline: “Yes,” Caroline replies evenly. Almost too evenly. She’s rehearsed this. “I do.”

GM: “Show me.”

Caroline: Caroline breathes in a whiff of the soldier of fortune loudly.

GM: “Show me,” Turner stubbornly repeats.

Caroline: Caroline wrinkles her nose. “And if I do? You aren’t really my type.”

GM: Turner is too young and fit for a vein to throb in her temple, but one looks as if it could.

“Just. Show me.”

Caroline: Caroline sighs. “Try to relax. Some people enjoy it. At least one of us might.”

She leans in, closing the distance between them, teeth neared for the woman’s throat. The gentle kiss.

GM: The mercenary’s blood tastes flat and unsatisfying on Caroline’s tongue, like tofu leeched of all flavor. Turner stifles a gasp, her cheeks reddening. Caroline pulls back, not licking the wound. Turner dazedly recovers, her mind reeling from the sudden shift between mind-shattering revelation and ecstatic pleasure.

She runs a finger over her neck, drawing blood.

“What do you mean by… grace,” she says slowly.

Caroline: Caroline swallows and tries to keep the distaste that fills her mouth off her face.

“In simple terms, I mean you consuming my blood with some regularity.”

GM: Turner looks at the blood on her finger, then up at Caroline. “And that lets me do the things you do.”

Caroline: “Some of them. The blood touches each in its own way.”

GM: “And I’d be like you. Hunting people for their blood.”

Caroline: “No, you’d be another order of being. You’d eat normal food, walk in the sun. You’d just be… more.”

GM: Turner looks down at the blood again. “And if I’m not interested in your offer?”

Caroline: “Then we never had this conversation.”

GM: “You’d just let me walk,” the merc says flatly.

Caroline: “What use do I have for an employee that hates me? Or did you think I was going to callously try to murder you in my dining room?”

GM: “Walk, when I’ve heard all of this,” Turner repeats skeptically. “How many of you are there? How many people know? Why doesn’t the world?”

Caroline: “We’ll have never had this conversation, so far as you are concerned. As to those other questions, I’m afraid they’ll have to wait. But yes, you’ll walk.”

GM: Turner looks at her for a moment, then says, “Tell me about these ‘threats’, that I’d face. If I take you up.”

Caroline: “It varies. Others of my kind, other servants of them. Some just thugs with power, others more professional. Perhaps more exotic monsters, though I doubt it. Mortals—of every nominal flavor, from bikers, to gangs, to overly curious private groups. I won’t lie, it is dangerous work, or at least potentially so.”

GM: “And in exchange I get to be as tough as you and live forever.” Turner chews that over. There’s still wariness in her slate-gray eyes, but Caroline can see something else too. Not quite excitement. Too disconnected, somehow, for that. More like hunger.

“I want a raise too.”

Caroline: Caroline grins emptily. So disconnected. A face she had to wear. She brings a thin wrist up to her fangs and breaks the skin. She extends it to Turner, blood welling.

“Welcome to eternity.”


Friday night, 11 September 2015, PM

Caroline: Caroline falls onto a tried and true method for Coco as she contemplates Turner and Aimee. She pens a short, polite letter, drawing on any information Autumn has on Coco and her past.

GM: Autumn knows that Coco is the primogen for Clan Brujah and fought in the French Revolution. She has two childer, Micheal Kelly and Roderick Durant. Micheal is an ancilla. Roderick is a neonate not much older than Caroline. Beyond those basics, Autumn doesn’t know a great deal about Coco… what the ghoul does know about Kindred society (still a great deal more than Caroline) primarily relates to the Masquerade and other aspects of Kindred existence relevant to the Krewe of Janus’ work. Autumn knows that Mid-City sees more Masquerade violations than other areas of the city, due to the high Kindred population, the young age of most Anarchs, and the value the covenant places on personal freedom. Coco herself has had fewer interactions with the Krewe… or at least its rank and file ghouls. Most elders are very responsible about maintaining the Masquerade.

Autumn adds that Elysium is usually the best place to meet with elders. Most Kindred of venerable age, if they deign to privately meet with younger licks at all, frequently charge a boon for the privilege and make the neonate wait a few nights, whether they are actually busy or not. Coco, though, is an Anarch, and one of the city’s more accessible elders: snubbing younger licks is a bad look for her, albeit Anarchs more so than Kindred of other covenants. Autumn recommends being polite and respectful.

Caroline: Caroline blends the letter’s contents it with appropriate quotes and references to revolutionary France. It thanks the Brujah primogen for her meeting and requests, at the elder’s convenience, an opportunity to meet with her again, along with any necessary appeals for her to do so.

The letter is sent in a sealed envelope via legal courier to Blaze in search of Coco, by description. It’s probably not even the young courier’s weirdest job for today.

A similar missive is sent to Cartwright, inquiring as to the return of her property, and when she might arrange it.

GM: Cartwright does not write back to Caroline. Dolores does in his place, and informs the Ventrue that her car was sent to a junkyard, where it has likely been scrapped. Autumn points out that the car was drenched in blood and a threat to the Maquerade in it present state. Still, Caroline can still all but see Dolores’ look of smug derision.

Autumn speculates that Dolores sent the car to Shep Jennings, an older Anarch who runs a chop shop that doesn’t ask questions about blood-spattered vehicles. The Krewe of Janus has dealt with him on a few occasions. She isn’t sure if that’ll do any good to Caroline now, but that’s her take.

Caroline: Another grievance. Another petty humiliation.

GM: The courier delivers a missive back from Coco that informs Caroline she’s lucked out. The Brujah primogen is free to meet tonight at Blaze. 4 AM.


Caroline: Caroline journeys to meet her, dressing in understated, more functional clothing. She doesn’t try to mirror the primogen, but rather echoes it, a distorted resemblance.

GM: The Ventrue grinds her way through the bar’s sweaty mass of brawling, cursing, groping patrons, and finds Coco sitting at the table she occupied during their last meeting. The metal’s blare isn’t as ear-splitting this far from the bar’s counter. Smoke from the patrons’ cigarettes, lit and extinguished, congeals into a miasmic cloud that stains the ceiling a rotted-looking black. Up close, Caroline can make out that the Brujah elder is wearing a horizontally striped black and white top, black pants, and matching dark brown leather jacket and boots. She is conversing with Haley, the ghoul with curly blonde hair who Carolime briefly met in Perdido House. Coco idly motions for Caroline to pull up a seat and for the ghoul to leave.

Caroline: The tall pallid Kindred fits in the rowdy bar as well as an ice statue in the desert. Even dressed down she very obviously does not fit in with the crowd. There is a coldness to her that is at odds with the energy of this place. She could fix that, release the Beast’s inner magnetism, become a star, but it would be so needlessly garish. Instead she endures elbows, humps, spilled drinks, and more adulterous advances as she forces her way through the crowd to Coco, and to the center of calm that surrounds her.

“Primogen Duquette, my thanks for seeing me.”

The young Ventrue’s tone not quite subservient, but gone is the brash arrogance of their last meeting.

GM: “It’s Coco here,” the Brujah waves off. Still, her tone sounds friendlier than their last meeting’s.

Caroline: “Coco,” Caroline repeats. “As my letter mentioned, I wish to apologize for my behavior last time we spoke. You were very patient when I hardly deserved as much.”

GM: “The same tends to said for most Anarchs, so I suppose I’m used to dealing with it,” Coco says wryly. “The Voltaire quotes were thoughtful.”

Caroline found one that seemed particularly relevant.

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she must decide how to play the cards to win the game.

Caroline: “All the same. Please accept my apologies for my the trouble, and my thanks for your patience,” Caroline offers. “Ignorance is no excuse for poor manners.”

GM: “Isn’t someone starting to pay attention to how things work,” Coco says with a faint smile. “Those words are usually hard for Ventrue. I accept your apology.”

Coco takes a sip of her rose cocktail, a pinkish beverage with a cherry swimming at the bottom. “I don’t like to keep meetings strictly business. What else should we talk about?”

Caroline: Caroline muses for a moment. “If it isn’t too presumptuous, perhaps we could talk about you? I’m told you fought in the French Revolution. Laying aside how well you wear two hundred years,” she smiles faintly, “it must have been a very different time. Seeing how the world has changed must give you a very nuanced perspective.”

GM: “Mmm. In some ways,” Coco declares. “Many of the ideals my contemporaries fought for have become enshrined on the lips of every citizen in the Western world, if not taken for granted. I don’t know that they’d find any shortage of new causes to fight for, though, or be content not to fight. Battlefields may change, but people don’t.”

Caroline: “So you’re the idealist that saw her ideals become reality?”

GM:A reality. One rarely gets the things one wants as a mortal, I’ve found, in quite the manner one expects.”

Caroline: Caroline pauses. “And an immortal?” A dangerous question, but an invited one. “Did you get what you wanted? Or in truth do we get neither what we want or what we expect? Perhaps only what we deserve?”

GM: The Brujah primogen pauses to swirl her drink.

“That’s a complex question with a complex answer. France enshrined the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in her constitutions, so I’ve transferred my passions to other causes. Granted, chopping off one king’s head didn’t stop France from having half a dozen later monarchs, but you’ll recall what I said about getting things as we expect them.”

“As for getting what one deserves, I don’t think that God, the universe, or whatever higher force you believe in, cares enough to dictate our earthly fates. One gets what one fights for. And just as often, what one knows better than to fight for.”

Caroline: The last bit strikes Caroline. She pauses to bite her lip. “Sometimes the price of victory, if attainable, is worse than the alternative? Discretion being the better part of valor?”

Caroline reflects on what little she knows of Anarchs. “I cannot imagine that is an easy position to hold.”

GM: “On the contrary. It means there are better ways than fighting to get what one wants. Gandhi and MLK effected profound change without deliberately spilling a drop of blood.”

“Granted, one can debate the degree to which Gandhi was responsible for change in his country.”

Caroline: “True. But they didn’t live to see it.”

GM: “I did.”

Caroline: “If you don’t mind me asking, how involved is our kind behind the scenes of history? In the revolution for instance? Or is that too personal?”

GM: Coco takes another sip of the pinkish drink.

“Involved enough. One of my childer fought in the Second World War, although nothing good came of it. We don’t orchestrate those events so much as get swept up by them. We’re parasites more than puppet-masters, in the end.”

Caroline: Caroline’s eyes follow the drink.

GM: It smells like perfectly mundane alcohol, without a trace of the tell-tale coppery scent of blood.

Caroline: She opens her mouth to ask about it, but stops short of asking.

GM: Coco sets it down and regards Caroline expectantly.

Caroline: “I didn’t think we could tolerate anything else.”

GM: “Oh, we can tolerate it. Enjoy it is another matter.”

Caroline: “Then why?”

GM: “Because I come here often enough to be a known face. The kine should see me drinking something.”

Caroline: “The dance we dance. Learning it while on the floor is interesting.” Caroline smiles a bit at it. “Would that childer be Mr. Kelly?”

GM: “That childe,” Coco corrects. “And yes.”

Caroline: “That must be quite a tale.” She pointedly does not ask for it. “I imagine that the Embrace,” Caroline is awkward with the word, “is performed for all manner of reasons and lends itself to producing all manner of Kindred. Each with something they think is worth fighting for. Principle, bloodlust, love, family, power.”

She studies Coco as she lists off motives.

GM: “Certainly,” the Brujah replies. “A sire’s motives to Embrace can be as varied as any kine’s motives to conceive. Arguably even more so, without any biological imperative that compels us to procreate.”

Caroline: “Punishment? Pettiness?”

GM: “Quite. How many kine conceive a child out of spite?”

Caroline: “More than a few,” Caroline admits.

GM: “And that’s from a species which doesn’t view their existence as a curse.”

Caroline: “Do you think that is really why René did it?”

GM: “Were we talking about your sire?” Coco asks with seeming ignorance.

Caroline: “It seemed a fitting transition. Asking an opinion, rather than soliciting information. Unless that is too much to ask?”

GM: “Besides my own, I couldn’t claim to truly know any sire’s motivation for Embracing a childe. I could speculate, based on what I know about their history and character, but without the full context of their full history and character, mine is merely another opinion.”

Caroline: Caroline shrugs. “An opinion based in two, three hundred years of context. I don’t think I could call it just such.”

GM: “Perhaps it was spite, lust, or loneliness. Perhaps it was part of a larger political game. Perhaps it was a meaningless accident and you were simply unlucky.”

Caroline: “Accident?”

GM: “They do happen.”

Caroline: “How does that work?” Caroline asks.

GM: Coco sips her drink again. “My invitation was to talk, Caroline. I’m sure you know by now that information isn’t free.”

Caroline: Caroline smiles easily. “My apologies if you think I’m trying to drag information out of you. If you would prefer another topic, I’m open to it.”

GM: The Brujah primogen idly motions for Caroline to raise another subject as it suits her.

Caroline: “I shouldn’t, you’ve been generous enough with your time, and know how to reach me if you wish it.”

GM: Coco raises her drink in a motion reminiscent of farewell.

Adieu, Caroline. The French was a homely reminder.”


Saturday evening, 12 September 2015

Louis: Several nights after Caroline’s last meeting with the rancid PI, and one night after her audience with Coco, the old man calls. His voice is gravely and terse, like bits of shale being ridden over by a half-ton van. “Hoped you wouldn’t pick up, but I guess you gave up on winning and settled for losing more slowly.”

Caroline: “Don’t we all?” Caroline sounds weary. Pained. “Some games you’ve lost before you sit down to play. All that’s left is to go out with a measure of grace.” There’s a beat of silence. “Please tell me you have some good news.”

Louis: Lou grunts. “I have some news. Whether it’s good or not is above my pay grade. Either way, it’s time for Ms. Silverspoons to do some shopping. Hampson Street, in an hour sharp, head to Yvonne LaFleur’s. Go try on an outfit or two in the fourth changing room on the left. Wear a big hat, tall heels, large purse, and sunglasses. After your little shopping excursion, we’ll meet at Babylon Cafe on Maple. I know the owner. He hand-rolls grape leaves for his kibby.”

There’s a pause, and the sound of a rough chin being scratched. “And last thing, bring the Jewish girl.”

There’s another grunt. “Hour. Sharp. Remember the clothes.” And then, as abruptly as his call began, the old man terminates the call.

Caroline: Caroline’s response is cut off. She grits her teeth in frustration. Her Beast is crawling at the edges of its cage. Hungry, hurt, and long denied. Her will is tattered by days of pain from wounds that never close. But she also needs this. She needs any information Lou has. Needs something to stave off the hounds.

Going out is dangerous, but not going out is potentially fatal.


Saturday evening, 12 September 2015

Caroline: The hunger gnawing at her, Caroline turns to a more simply carnal source of victims. She played around with swiping left and right, mostly as a joke, but it is far less so now as she trawls the app scene for a lost soul.

GM: “It’s like real life, but better,” proclaims the slogan. Caroline swipes around until she finds someone named Trenton Nowak. His profile says he’s a college student at Tulane studying political science. One of his pics also says he needs a haircut.

Pic.jpg
Trenton enthusiastically agrees to meet up at Caroline’s house after she tells him about the home theater system she has. They message back and forth. He mentions he’s a film buff too, and recommends two films that,

I like to show every girl I meet. Freaks and On Borrowed Time. They’re both pretty old, made in the ‘30s. Freaks is pure horror and about how this beautiful trapeze artist interacts with the hideously ugly freaks who are part of the same circus. Can’t say more without spoiling it, but the ending is one of the most chilling I’ve ever watched.

On Borrowed Time is good to watch after Freaks. It’s about this old man, his grandson, and how they manage to trap Death in their backyard—then deal with the fallout when no one can die anymore. It’s really heartwarming. They just don’t make movies like it today. Everything tries too hard and comes off as syrupy. Also, I hate how modern movies always use little girls as sympathy devices. Why can’t they use little boys?

Caroline: Caroline’s messages are sweet poison indeed. It’s a surreal experience, the utterly ordinary chatter against her own dark intentions. It’s almost worse than luring the poor lecherous bastards in the bars. Too personal.

GM: Anyways, I guess I’ve rambled enough about myself. You said you’re graduating this year? What are you doing after that?

Caroline: Does she reconsider? Regret? If so, the thoughts are banished by Beast and beleaguered will.

I’d planned on going into a private practice, but I’ve been reconsidering. It seems so… empty the closer I come.

GM: Don’t really feel you’d be making a difference defending guys like that Saudi prince in the Quarter?

Caroline: LOL. Not even a little bit. There are so many other things I could be doing with my time.

GM: Could always go into politics. Law’s a good background.

Caroline: Hahaha. So you could study me in school?

Another typed laugh. As artificial as she is now, but oh so important.

GM: Lol. I wish, with those pics. But I’m graduating this year. Gonna go into community organizing.

Caroline: Caroline clicks her tongue. Community organizing.

Make a difference in peoples’ lives? That can be difficult work.

GM: Hey, a president did it.

I dunno, maybe I won’t, but elected office doesn’t seem like the way to go. I doubt I’d get many people voting for me anyways in Louisiana.

Caroline: A president did indeed. Caroline clings to that distinction. That petty conflict. The little difference that makes it easier not to car.

GM: You got a favorite candidate in the primaries?

Ah, nvm, sorry. Bad topic.

Caroline: Probably, Caroline agrees.

GM: Trenton admits he’s not from Louisiana. He’s from Portland, Oregon. People are less sensitive about politics there.

Several further minutes pass before Caroline hears her date knocking on the door. She called Blackwatch to let him through.

She opens the door. In person, Trenton looks much like his picture, a brown-haired, brown-eyed, twenty-something with an ovular facial shape. He wears blue jeans, a shoulder bag that some might deride as a ‘man purse, and a dark t-shirt whose letters Caroline can’t make out over the deafening THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP of blood coursing through his veins.

“Wow,” he remarks, looking around, “this place is really…”

THUMP-THUMP. THUMP-THUMP. THUMP-THUMP.

Caroline clamps down on the demon trying burst out of her chest. When it rips apart her conscience’s protestations like so much trash, she desperately smothers it beneath the weight of cold practicality. She can’t just kill him. Not like this, with the front door wide open, where anyone could see.

Trenton says something. Caroline can barely hear him. THUMP-THUMP. THUMP-THUMP. THUMP-THUMP. He holds up something. It’s a DVD case.

Trenton frowns a little. “Hey, you okay?”

THUMP-THUMP. THUMP-THUMP. THUMP-THUMP.

Caroline: If she were still alive she’d be all but gasping for breath, adrenaline tearing through her. As it is, an unliving abomination, she takes a breath and smiles, shaking a bit. Right and wrong flee, and it is only by the narrowest margin of error that will triumphs over bestial desire. She smiles shyly.

“Mostly just nervous I guess, I don’t usually do this.”

GM: Trenton smiles and says something back. Caroline doesn’t hear it.

THUMP-THUMP. THUMP-THUMP.

The sound of the closing door, however, is all-too audible to her strained senses.

Caroline: The Beast quickens as her rational excuses for not leaping on him slide away. Still, she tries to cling to her control. A shy giggle. Always a safe answer.

“Why don’t you come in, I’ll show you the setup.”

GM: Trent sets his bag on the bar’s counter-top as he steps in.

“Wow, you’ve got an actual bar in here.”

THUMP-THUMP.

Caroline: She smiles, she laughs. She fights the Beast while he pours herself a drink and invites him to do the same. And she loses. Like a cracked beam she can only withstand the strain so long. His back to her, a bottle in his hand. It’s instinct now as she slides behind him, sets her lips to his throat, and so slowly and sweetly breaks the skin.

GM: An eyeblink passes. Trenton lies sprawled out over the ground. His prone body, the bar, and the hardwood floors are spattered with messy red gore, as is Caroline. Her Beast’s once-deafening screams have faded to a low growl.

The young man’s still features stare up at Caroline in terror. His neck is ripped almost completely open, exposing wet muscle and white bone. There’s a dark, wet stain on his crotch, and it doesn’t smell of blood.

Shattered bits of glass lie strewn across the floor. Spilled alcohol pools together with spattered blood.

This will not be an easy cleanup.

Caroline: Caroline stares in silence at the scene. She can’t even pretend that she didn’t know what was coming. Murder. This was murder, and even hiding behind the Beast, her pain and her exhaustion does nothing to mitigate it.

GM: The mantelpiece clock continues to tick overhead, its mechanical hands unslowed by the red spattered over its surface. One hour to clean this up and meet with Lou.

The bitter old man’s words cannot help but flash through the fledgling’s mind:

Poison.

Caroline: She wants to burn it. All if it. Ruin this place home to so many painful memories. Erase the evidence of her crime, her shame.

GM: Some of the blood to spatter over the kitchen’s black granite countertop steadily drips like a leaky faucet. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Poison, whispers a washed-up old drunk.

Caroline: She shoves that away with a fury, buries it with her guilt. Something to worry about later. A voice whispers that it’s how a fall starts, with the best intentions, when you allow your temporal concerns to outweigh the spiritual. She looks down at the body again and steadies a trembling blood-soaked hand. Will. She has to get ready. This mess will wait a few hours.

She snags the boy’s phone and removes the battery, washes her hands of the blood and collects her own phone, making calls to her ghouls. Another long night awaits.

GM: Aimee does not heed her domitor. Autumn and Turner both arrive at the scene in short order, after Caroline gets in touch with Blackwatch’s guards to let her ghouls into Audubon.

Autumn takes in the gore-drenched, foul-smelling carnage site, then abruptly turns and retches into the kitchen sink.

“I… sorry,” the ghoul says quietly, turning on the water. She looks Trent’s body over. “Who was he?”

“Was he anyone important?” Turner asks in a clipped tone.

Caroline can see a faint disdain for Autumn in the war-hardened ghoul’s eyes. But there’s something else there too, Caroline can make out… concern, but of a purely self-interested variety. How easily could this happen to her too?

Caroline: “Someone in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing,” Caroline replies stiffly. “I knew there was a risk, and thought it better that he take it than one of you.”

GM: Autumn opens her mouth, but then seems to reconsider. As if just realizing that it reeks, she fills up a glass of water to rinse.

“Where do you want him dumped? Tub?” Turner asks.

Caroline: Caroline nods. “As a short term. His car also needs to go somewhere it’ll be stolen. In the longer term he probably needs to go in the swamp.”

She looks over the body again. It wasn’t so long ago at all that she’d be joining Autumn. As it stands, she settles for spiritual sickness.

“In the short term, we need to go. We have a meeting.” She looks to Turner. “Can you handle the basic cleanup here for now?”

She’s taken the time it took them to arrive to clean and dress. She’s also taken some of the poor boy’s precious blood to close the worst of her wounds.

GM: “Sure,” Turner answers. “Probably safe for a few if he wasn’t followed.”

“I can… take care of the car,” Autumn volunteers, as she sees the other two moving past the murder. “There’s a lick named Shep Jennings who runs a chop shop. He doesn’t ask where his cars come from.”

“The body… there’s a ghoul who works for the Krewe, Maurice Garcou. He’s a cemetery mortician, knows how to make them disappear. He takes payment in cash or boons owed to the Krewe.”

Caroline: Caroline frowns at the idea of involving the Krewe further in her life.

“How much trouble is that likely to cause though?”

GM: “Well, he’ll tell the Krewe about it. But if it’s taken care of, it’s… taken care of.” Autumn still looks a little queasy. “No one would use him if it just got them in trouble.”

Caroline: It feels as though a long moment passes in which Caroline considers the idea, weighing every pro and con to involving the Krewe.

At last she shakes her head. “We have a meeting to attend first.”

GM: “Okay. Well, I guess he’ll keep…”

Caroline: If she could puke, if she were alone, if she had no other agenda for the evening, if she had no other responsibilities, Caroline might be sick.

But none of those things are true. Instead, the sickness ravages her spirit as she turns away from the cooling corpse.

“We’re leaving.”


Previous, by Narrative: Story Four, Micheal Prelude
Next, by Narrative: Story Four, Micheal I

Previous, by Caroline: Story Three, Caroline XV, Rocco II
Next, by Caroline: Story Four, Caroline II, Louis II

Previous, by Louis: Story Three, Louis Epilogue
Next, by Louis: Story Four, Caroline II, Louis II

Comments

Sam Feedback Repost

Pete’s literal play by post: Sorry to hear he’s been rolled for another couple of weeks. I’m glad nonetheless that he’s been able to mail Calder about Caroline, and that the GM has been able to reciprocate. I hope to be able to do the same regarding’s Lou and Rene—although my secondary PC is totally sucking all my time. Personally, I’m hoping that the GM and I (and the other players involved) can wrap up Clete’s party, for good or ill, before Pete returns, and hopefully soon enough that Lou can resolve the slattern slasher plot, for good or ill, that IC and OOC, Lou and I can give Caroline’s case the attention, effort, and caution it deserves.

[…]

Caroline: So glad to have her/Peter back. Will the twice-over blue blood become an Anarch? It certainly would be a weird twist. I’m not sold yet—though granted Coco hasn’t exactly tried to make, much less close, the sale either.

[…]

The scene with Turner was really well done on both ends. Although the outcome wasn’t ever in doubt for me, I was still an avid spectator because of the dialogue and nonverbal actions. The portrayal of someone meeting the Veil, struggling with it, and then diving past it as well as the vampire seducing them to do so was spot on. Dark moral waters, but so well-done all the same. I really look forward to the upcoming Caroline-Lou meeting.

Story Four, Caroline I, Louis I
 

Calder Feedback Repost

[…]

Caroline: Awesome to have you back, man. There’s not a great deal to comment on in Caroline’s room, but it was a pleasure for me to start posting in it again.

Okay, there’s a little. Smoothing over things with Coco was smart. Caroline looks like she’s starting to buy into the Camarilla’s social system, and it paid off when the primogen was willing to sit around and chat.

[GM’s 2021 commentary: This feedback was originally written during the middle of the log. Obviously there’s a loooot more to comment on when considering the full thing.]

Story Four, Caroline I, Louis I
 

Jack Feedback Repost

I missed Caroline. Her story is one of a couple where I feel genuine sympathy for her character (the other character being Lou); although every one of our characters faces some sort of challenge, her lot in life feels really unfair. She’s battling social mores that are alien, petty, and a little bit insane, constantly walking on eggshells when she speaks. I really liked her latest conversation with Coco, being the first time things went smoothly. I did find it interesting how quickly Coco brushed off the subject of Mike. Ouch.

Story Four, Caroline I, Louis I
 

Evan Feedback Repost

That Turner doesn’t know what she’s getting into. I liked Calder’s portrayal of the private soldier hungering for more power. Hopefully Lou manages to get her something to keep the hounds off her back.

Story Four, Caroline I, Louis I
False_Epiphany False_Epiphany

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.