Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Broken-handed pianist & Pearl Chastain's ever-loyal childe
“Primogen Poincaré is a most gracious Kindred, with a talent on the old ivories that would make the devil himself blush. If luck is with us, we may even get to see him play sometime this year.”
“…that she has persisted is a great tragedy for herself, for her legacy, and for her childer. But then, they too lack the strength to resolve that tragedy. Primogen Poincaré is one of the mightier Kindred in the city. Charismatic, likable, strong in the blood and of worthy stock. But he’s weighed down by her like the slave he once was in shackles of iron and pulling a plow. He’s trying desperately to drag her along, and despite her weight he might succeed, if only she were not so occupied making her purpose tearing up the earth around her.
Take note, young one. For all his strength, it is his weakness with his sire that defines him. I expect that should ever I become such a burden you will do me the service of putting me in the ground where I belong."
—Jonathan North to Kyrstin Grey
Accou Poincaré is a moderately dark-skinned man of Creole descent who favors old-fashioned suits with cufflinks and bowties. He is almost never seen without gloves on—his hands were crushed as a mortal and remain scarred and misshapen even after his Embrace. He appears no older than his early 20s in spite of his thick mustache. Those who spare him more than a casual glance can observe a subtle, marble-like pallor to his features and an indelible weight behind his eyes. Events in recent years have given him little cause for joy, but his smile is still quite bewitching when he chooses to show it.
Accou was born a mulatto slave freed but never acknowledged by his white father and master. He was a talented pianist and his mother, a house slave who their master never freed, encouraged his playing in hopes that he might secure a comfortable life as an entertainer. Accou played at some of his father’s social gatherings and it was at one such event that Maria Pascual first saw him. The Toreador elder was sufficiently entranced by the mulatto pianist’s energy and skill to take him as her ghoul.
Unknown to Pascual, Accou’s father was a pawn to Alejandro Rojas y Batiz, one of the prince-less city’s most prominent Ventrue. Alejandro took umbrage at Maria’s apparent designs upon his domain and ordered his ghouls to show her that these kine were his to do with as he pleased. Accou never knew such agony as when the Venture’s thralls crushed his hands. The physical pain was nothing next to knowing he would never again play the piano, for his tormentors had even forced him to burn away the last of his vitae before mutilating him. Maria, furious at this development, prepared for war.
Pearl Chastain, however, intervened to defuse the tensions between the two offended elders. She assured Alejandro that her clanmate had been ignorant of the apparent intrusion and would consider the matter settled—he had taken away her prized pianist and made his point. To Maria, Chastain promised a remedy to this injustice—by offering Accou, whose plight deeply moved her, his hands back. The broken pianist could not refuse her Embrace.
Pearl knew her progeny’s Requiem would be forfeit if Alejandro discovered what she had done. She promised Accou that his time would come and sent him away with two traveling cousins of hers, Maria Rosal and her childe Annabelle Triabelle, trusting them to teach her childe the vagaries of Kindred existence. Accou accompanied the other Toreador for a time, but found he was unable to keep the same company as two white women. He set out on his own and traveled to Havana, where he established himself among the city’s Kindred and free black communities. By the turn of the 19th century he was prince of Santiago, had sired his own brood of childer, and enjoyed an existence of luxury and power beyond anything he could have imagined as a mortal. He never forgot the Ventrue who crushed his hands, however: he still had to agonizingly shatter and mend his improperly healed fingers every time he wanted to play the piano. He remained in correspondence with his distant sire, who counseled him to build up his strength and wait until the moment was right for his return to New Orleans.
That moment came sooner than either Toreador anticipated. A freak accident exposed Alejandro’s haven to the sun during the Union Army’s capture of New Orleans, and his childe Francesca Dumont confirmed that she had felt her sire’s final death. Pleasantly surprised by his old enemy’s destruction and still feeling he owed a debt of gratitude to Pearl for his Embrace, Accou ceded praxis of Santiago to one of his childer and returned to New Orleans, where he assumed a place by his sire’s side on the Prima Invicta.
His timing proved fortuitous, for the elder Toreador was weary from the passing of centuries and required a loyal and experienced lieutenant to manage her affairs after she entered torpor. Pearl carefully re-acclimated Accou to the Crescent City’s political scene over the next three decades, then ceded her titles and holdings before entering the sleep of ages.
All of Accou’s charges prospered under his stewardship. He maintained the First Estate’s centuries-old alliance with Vidal, served several terms as regional grand master of the Guild of Aphrodite, and kept his clan dynamic and politically relevant despite the loss of its two most venerable elders (Maria Pascual also having been assassinated at the close of the 19th century). He Embraced numerous further childer, all of whom would bring credit to their bloodline through estimable achievements and Embrace further descants of their own. After his childe Avoyelles Desormeaux attained praxis over Lafayette, he had no fewer than two foreign princes who looked to New Orleans for leadership and support.
Not to be outdone, his younger childe Marguerite Defallier expanded their influence into the state legislature and established good relations with the new Invictus regime in Baton Rouge under Marcel Guilbeau. His youngest childe Veronica Alsten-Pirrie brought fewer concrete achievements to her name, through her many carnal liaisons with the city’s Kindred won her avenues of influence in unexpected places—including a number of such paramours who attained positions of influence in Houston after the 1910s oil boom skyrocketed the tiny city’s importance overnight. Through it all, Pearl’s other three childer did not fight Accou for dominance, but followed their elder broodmate’s leadership and worked to bring greater glory to their bloodline as a whole.
Accou’s tenure was not entirely without setbacks, however. Castro’s revolution and the subsequent U.S. trade embargo against Cuba was a substantial blow to his economic influence over New Orleans, to say nothing of his personal wealth—he had long built his fortune from mercantile trade with Cuba. Accou worked to replace these lost business contacts with ones in Houston and Central America, but they would never be as profitable, nor would he benefit from a brood of Kindred descendants loyally working behind the scenes on their sire’s behalf.
Accou also made the weighty decision not to cast in the Invictus’ lot with Antoine Savoy’s newly-emergent power bloc, and then had to laboriously convince Vidal over his intentions not to—the hoary Ventrue was suspicious that Accou sought to place an indebted and more pliable clanmate on the Crescent City’s throne. Modern Kindred accept it as a given fact that the Invictus is (loosely) allied with the prince, but that fact was significantly in doubt during a critical period of Accou’s early leadership. The Big Easy’s contemporary political makeup might look very different indeed if the First Estate had backed Savoy early on—and the Invictus and Toreador clan might be a less potent force if Vidal had considered them his enemies.
By and large, Accou handled his duties with aplomb, and freely ceded his power back to his sire when she rose from torpor in the 1970s. He was rewarded for his efforts with a permanent seat on the Cabildo. The Rose Clan would now have two representatives on that august body, clearly signalling their primacy among the other six clans and the success of Accou’s leadership. Most Kindred concur that everything which could have gone right for Pearl went exactly right.
His Sire’s Return
It was a bitter irony when the fruits of Accou’s labors began to almost immediately unravel. Pearl did not adjust well to the vastly changed world of the 20th century. Her disdain for contemporary art and her conservative, hide-bound ways alienated many younger Toreador (who had never known their ancestor before her torpor) into joining the Anarchs, Accou’s own childe Veronica among them. Respect for the Invictus diminished as Pearl’s utter lack of interest in political affairs soon became plain. Antoine Savoy, who had always been Accou’s elder, leveraged greater influence over the Toreador clan. The Ventrue Pierpont McGinn, who had long despised being subservient to a black Kindred but helpless to do anything about it, pounced at the opportunity to further undermine his elder’s influence. Accou’s sister-in-blood Adelais Seyrès seemed to enjoy the strife between her lover and her brother, and actively worked to shield the former in their sire’s eyes. Accou found himself straining to prop up a failing power base that had seemed secure only last night, and doing it all with one hand tied behind his back. The only good thing to come out of Pearl’s rise from torpor was a second Cabildo seat for Clan Toreador—Accou had earned his place among the primogen and was not soon to lose it.
Hurricane Katrina was the nadir for Accou’s Requiem. Pearl was unwilling to flee to Lafayette (still held by their descendants) aboard an “aeroplane” as Accou suggested, and he was forced to devote much of his energies to procuring now-scarce vitae for his lethargic sire and protecting her against the storm’s many hazards. In his absence, Pierpont McGinn heroically led much the Invictus on a perilous overland journey to Baton Rouge, negotiated a “refugee settlement” despite the city’s abrupt change in princes during a coup d’etat, and provided decisive leadership to the covenant during its hour of need.
Even worse was when two other members of the Prima Invicta, Francesca Dumont and Dominique Toutain, both met final death during Katrina. The two rival Ventrue had nevertheless been long-time allies to Accou, and he found he could do little but watch as his younger rival triumphantly assumed a seat on their covenant’s ruling body. Adelais Seyrès, who was also elevated, seemed only further enamored by her paramour’s recent string of wins. Accou quietly supported Rebecca DeMatthews against McGinn in her bid for regency over Uptown, but the younger Ventrue was always the underdog in that struggle despite her greater blood claim. McGinn sent her fleeing to Houston in a cloud of scandal (after one of her ghouls broke the Masquerade and tried to kill her) and added one of the city’s largest domains to a seemingly ever-expanding list of holdings and titles.
Since the Storm
Ten years after the levees broke, Accou is still one of the city’s most prominent elders, but his influence is not what it once was. Many of his descendants, even those who are not Anarchs, deride him for his “blind obedience” to a sire they consider unfit to lead. Pierpont McGinn, whose star remains on the rise, schemes incessantly to erode elder’s power base while Adelais Seyrès raptly watches them fight. Accou continues to manage his sire’s night-to-night affairs in addition to his own: most Kindred know that if they want something from Pearl, they should talk to Accou as well. He lends his counsel when she will hear it, and does what he can to mitigate the worst consequences of her ennui without giving the appearance of undermining her authority (which is in truth little). The city’s older Kindred respect Accou for remaining a steadfast pillar of tradition even as they simultaneously pity him for having tied his fortunes to a sinking ship.
It remains to be seen whether she will drag him down with her.
• 5. Unknown sire
• 6. Pearl Chastain (e. centuries ago)
• 7. Accou Poincaré (e. mid 18th century)
• 8+. The Santiago brood (e. varies)
• 8. Avoyelles Desormeaux (e. mid 19th century)
• 9+. The Lafayette brood (e. varies)
• 8. Marguerite Defallier (e. late 19th century)
• 9. Abraham “Bram” Garcia (e. mid 20th century)
• 10. Maxzille “Max” “Zilly” “Zillah” Babineaux (e. mid 20th century)
Anne Sommers (e. late 20th century, d. 2005)
• 12. David Hansen (e. early 21st century)
• 9. Aniyah Bailey (e. early 21st century)
• 8. Veronica Alsten-Pirrie (e. early 20th century)
• 9. Jade Kalani (e. early 21st century)
• 9. Amaryllis DeCuir (e. early 21st century)
Bruno Courtet (e. late 18th century, d. early 20th century)
• 8. Katherine Beaumont (e. early 20th century)
Pablo Gallegro (e. early 20th century, d. late 20th century)
Rayisa Kostenko (e. late 20th century, d. 2005)
Barthélemy Lafon (e. early 19th century, d. 2005)
Valentine St. James (e. early 19th century, d. 2005)
• 9. Lisette Toussaint (e. mid 19th century)
• 8. Pietro Silvestri (e. early 20th century)
• 7. Adelais Seyrès (e. late 19th century)
Accou is childe to Pearl Chastain, the matriarch and senior primogen for Clan Toreador in New Orleans, the regent of the Lower Garden District, and the eldest member of the Prima Invicta, the Invictus’ governing council. Pearl Chastain has not publicly spoken of her sire, but is believed to be of the sixth generation and a great-grandchilde of Arikel.
The eldest of Accou’s younger broodmates was Bruno Courtet, a poseur of limited artistic talents. He served as myrmidon (a titled position for bodyguard) to their sire and elder broodmate before being destroyed by the vampire hunter Nathaniel Bordruff in the 1920s. His next-youngest brother-in-blood Barthélemy Lafon was a semi-famous Creole architect and associate of Jean Lafitte’s’ who designed much of the Garden District. He was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. Accou’s youngest broodmate Adelais Seyrès is a vicious-tongued harpy and councilor on the Prima Invicta.
Accou has Embraced many times over the years. His assorted childer and their descendants in Cuba are known as the Santiago brood, and still hold praxis over that city since his abdication. His eldest childe in the United States, Avoyelles Desormeaux, rules as prince of Lafayette, Louisiana, and is matriarch to her own brood. In New Orleans, Accou is sire to Marguerite Defallier and Veronica Alsten-Pirrie, two harpies of no small renown. Through them both, he is ancestor to numerous further Toreador.