Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
Junior-most primogen & Vidal's yes-man
Appearance & Attire
Gabriel Hurst is a rectangular-faced man in seemingly his late 20s with thick black hair, a short beard, and bright blue eyes. He usually dresses in slacks and button-up shirts, sometimes with a jacket if he wants to look dressier He only wears ties on the most formal of occasions, and only grudgingly. He keeps his shoes meticulously shined and likes to say he’s made his current pair last decades by taking good care of them.
Name: Gabriel David Hurst
Date of Birth: March 30th, 1931 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Date of Embrace: August 14th, 1957 (Rural Louisiana)
Apparent Age: Mid-20s
Real Age: Approx. 90
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Black
Education: Unfinished degree (Loyola University, 1950)
Religion: Monachal Sanctified
Gabriel Hurst always had a lot on his shoulders. When his father was killed overseas in the Korean War, Hurst dropped out of college to run the family business while taking care of his mother and three siblings. His father had left them a neighborhood grocery store, which Hurst managed capably despite the industry’s low profit margins. The 20-year-old didn’t know much about selling groceries at first, but he was good with people. Hurst was always empathetic and interested in the details of their lives, and was an excellent judge of character too. He could tell the difference between someone going through a rough patch who needed a helping hand and someone who would likely be going through ‘rough patches’ forever. The young grocer turned out to have a real knack for choosing the best employees and getting the most out of them: even when times were tough, he could get his workers to genuinely care about the store’s welfare because they felt their boss cared about theirs.
Success begot more success, and Hurst’s siblings also postponed their college educations to help out with the family business. It wasn’t long before Hurst had opened up several more stores. Before he knew it, he was sponsoring local events and charities, had a board seat on the chamber of commerce, and neighbors all seemed to be coming to him for help or advice with this or that. When people complimented Hurst’s business acumen, he laughed and told them his old man always said Eisenhower wasn’t much of a battlefield general: Ike was just good at organizing and dealing with people.
Hurst didn’t even remember it happening. One hot summer afternoon in 1956, he’d been driving home from a chamber of commerce meeting and looking forward to an evening barbecue with his mother, siblings, and young wife. The next moment, Hurst was sitting in the parlor of a decayed Antebellum mansion. A skeletal and half-dead-looking black man lay bound and unresponsive on the floor. A pallid and even more corpse-like white gentleman was seated across the room from Hurst, whose every instinct screamed he was in mortal peril. The seated near-corpse introduced himself as John Harley Matheson, briefly explained how Hurst would be useful to him, and said the negro was there as “sustenance.” Then he turned the still-shocked grocer into a monster.
Matheson had had several reasons for taking Hurst as his childe. First, the elder Ventrue’s knowledge of the modern world was growing increasingly antiquated and this was proving a liability to the continued prosperity of Whitney Bank, which Matheson had long claimed as his domain. Hurst, who’d become a pillar of his mortal community, was at the epicenter of the modern world. It wasn’t that he was a great thinker, scientist, or politician: he just knew lots of people and all the little details of their lives. Hurst knew who needed money, what they’d do with it, and whether or not they’d be a good long-term investment. People trusted Hurst, too, and would listen to his advice. He had friends everywhere, so he would extend Whitney Bank’s tendrils throughout the city while maintaining a distinct sphere of influence from his sire’s. After all, the college dropout turned small business owner didn’t didn’t know the first thing about running a regional bank.
Matheson also felt the call of torpor looming. He’d made arrangements to ensure the bank ran smoothly during his absence, but such things always went more smoothly with a loyal childe at the helm. And Hurst would be loyal: Matheson had watched him sacrifice his own dreams for his family’s business, and do it all without an ounce of resentment. Matheson was now the young grocer’s family, through bonds of blood against which Hurst’s mortal blood ties were as water.
All of this largely washed over Hurst at first, who was aghast over his frenzy-driven murder. The guilt-wracked fledgling wanted nothing to do with his sire. He was equally appalled at the thought of becoming a parasite upon the community that had done so much for him.
Matheson was largely unperturbed by these objections. They had time. Several years later, Gabriel Hurst was formally presented before the assembled Ventrue clan of New Orleans, and by all appearances as loyal a childe as any sire could ask for. Hurst did everything and more his sire expected of him, with only one exception: he joined the Lancea et Sanctum instead of the Invictus. Hurst saw a higher purpose in the Church Eternal than simple material prosperity and would not even ‘compromise’ by simply joining both covenants. Matheson tolerated this one act of dissent from an otherwise obedient childe and withdrew to take his slumber.
On his Own
Hurst proved as capable a steward for his sire’s business interests as he’d been for his mortal father’s. Like Matheson knew, Hurst wasn’t a banker, but he faithfully listened to the experts (mortals as well as his sire’s ghouls) and excelled at leveraging Whitney Bank’s assets through his community ties. In time, what began as a chain of grocery stories blossomed into stakes in countless businesses from barber shops to apartment buildings to private schools. Hurst owned and operated some of these businesses directly. Others belonged to ghouls, mortal friends and proteges, people who’d taken out loans from Whitney Bank, or people who owed Hurst favors. Some businesses weren’t even directly owned by any of these people, but had simply heeded Hurst’s advice and made decisions that financially benefited him. Outside Kindred could not easily tell where Hurst’s influence stopped. The young Ventrue found his sire’s financial assets vastly more useful than any of his Cainite powers and faithfully saw Whitney capital distributed far and wide.
Among Kindred society, Hurst was initially more withdrawn. His sire had already introduced him to Francesca Dumont and Pearl Chastain, the regents whose territory many of Hurst’s businesses ran through, and the young Ventrue reached favorable accords with both elders. He faithfully attended Clan Ventrue’s monthly meetings to network with clanmates, as well as “Testament study” gatherings with Sanctified Kindred outside of Midnight Mass. He only started to spend significant time at Elysium once he was comfortably established among these peers.
Much like in his mortal life, Hurst’s stakes in so many different enterprises made him a ‘go-to’ Kindred for this or that. The young Ventrue made himself useful to everybody, though he was mindful never to do business with Antoine Savoy’s or the Baron’s people. Even doing so under the table might reflect badly on his reputation, and there was no price you could put on that. Hurst helped the prince’s bloc against both factions where he could, remained deferential towards his elders in all things, and watched his star slowly but steadily rise.
When Matheson rose from torpor in the early 2000s, the elder Ventrue was well-pleased by his childe’s stewardship. Hurst always knew Whitney Bank was his ‘on loan’ and tendered it back without complaint. The truth was, he didn’t need to be ‘officially’ in charge of it. The bank was now thoroughly enmeshed in countless business ventures Hurst had direct and indirect stakes in, not to mention his sire’s already antiquated knowledge was now another half-century out of date. Whitney cash and lines of credit would continue to flow wherever Hurst needed. If anything, giving up the bank was a relief: he could now focus solely on his own business holdings without feeding his sire’s stable of ghouls.
Hurricane Katrina was a terrible time for Hurst. Most of his businesses were predominately smaller ones and were forced to close their doors as a result of the storm. They were, however, comparatively quick to recover: credit and access to loans was never a problem like it was for many minority-owned businesses. In some ways, the hurricane even benefited Hurst. While there was no making up for the loss of revenue, the displaced employees and business contacts, or the costs of countless damages, people needed Hurst’s help more than ever. His assistive hand cemented friendships and racked up favors for decades to come.
Since the Storm
Katrina also benefited Hurst when Francesca Dumont, Clan Ventrue’s then-primogen, numbered among the storm’s many casualties. To the surprise of no small few, Vidal passed over Hurst’s elder clanmates and appointed the former grocer to Dumont’s Cabildo seat. Kindred familiar with Ventrue internal politics were less surprised. Vidal had long distrusted George Smith despite the hotelier’s charming facade, while the eminently trustworthy Father Malveaux lacked Smith’s interpersonal skills. Marcel Guilbeau was a former prince and more than qualified to serve as primogen, but he’d only been a resident of the city for less than a year. He also might still return to Baton Rouge. Pierpont McGinn had already won a regency and seats on the Gerousia and Prima Invicta as a result of his actions during Katrina: making him primogen would signal that he was ascendant over all other Ventrue, and Vidal was not inclined to raise a non-Sanctified clanmate’s star quite so high. Hurst may have been young, but he was a member of the Lancea et Sanctum in good standing, obedient to his elders, and largely free of scandals. He could be counted on to faithfully serve the interests of Vidal’s clan and covenant both.
In short, the prince wanted a yes-man.
Hurst has been saying “yes” ever since.
Hurst holds domain and feeding rights along Magazine Street in the Garden District. It’s largely an afterthought, though, next to his business interests. He holds domain rights in Uptown, Mid-City, the Lower Garden District, and possibly several other parishes. As Hurst himself once explained to Caroline Malveaux-Devillers:
GM: “That’s why, when I want to set up shop in another Kindred’s territory, I ask for pretty modest demands.”
“I don’t ask to take over an existing business there and promise I’ll somehow run it better. Instead, I’ll promise to create a new business out of nothing, in one of the emptier parts of their territory. Say some old apartments have been condemned by the city as unsafe.”
“Well, those get torn down, and I’ll open up a new flower store, pizza joint, new apartment building, whatever looks most profitable. I won’t ask for any domain or authority outside of that place’s walls. I make it an attractive part of the neighborhood, and it’s suddenly drawing more kine and money to the area who weren’t there before. That’s already a good thing. But the Kindred I’ve struck a deal with also gets a cut of the profits.”
“So they can have all those benefits, or they can have none of them. I don’t ask for anything else. Most Kindred are a lot happier to swallow that sort of arrangement than, say, if I can create a few ghouls inside a company they already own.”
Caroline: Caroline nods. “I can see how that would be more appealing, even if it does require a longer vision and one’s thumb on the pulse of each domain.”
GM: “Empires aren’t built in a night, Miss Malveaux,” Hurst rejoinds.
Hurst is known for having one of the most diversified networks of pawns in the city. He has his fingers in countless small businesses, including barber shops, grocery stores, apartment buildings, private schools, ice cream parlors, hardware stores, food trucks, floral shops, and many others. Hurst owns some of these businesses directly, others through proxies, and money or owed favors tied up in others. Together with his sister-in-blood Becky Lynne, Hurst operates what he calls a “one-two strategy:” she oversees Whitney Hancock Bank and the capital that flows from it, while Hurst ensures that capital is distributed far and wide throughout the city by getting his business contacts to rely on the bank for their financial needs. In this manner, Hurst ensures the bank’s financial tentacles are embedded everywhere throughout New Orleans. Becky Lynne, in turn (who now oversees Whitney Hancock on their sire’s behalf), sees that her brother-in-blood’s businesses are granted loans at favorable rates, cuts through red tape, and otherwise lubricates the process of getting capital into his hands. As Hurst himself likes to describe the arrangement, “My sister counts and packs the eggs that fall from the golden goose, and I deliver them far and wide to doorsteps throughout the city.”
Hurst is of good standing in his sect, clan, and covenant. He isn’t a true leader in any of them, but he’s well-respected and largely free of scandal or the appearance of untoward ambition. (Camarilla Status ••, Lancea et Sanctum Status ••, Ventrue Status ••)
Hurst also sits on the Cabildo, though his voice is very much the junior-most one at the table. His centuries-older primogen ‘peers’ accord him little respect, but none of them are known to actively dislike him, and his vote still counts just as much as theirs. (Cabildo Status ••)
Ventrue (e. prehistory, d. millennia ago)
Artemis Orthia (e. millennia ago, d. 146 BCE)
• Unknown sires
• John Harley Matheson (e. 17th century)
• Gabriel Hurst (e. mid 20th century)
• Becky Lynne Adler (e. early 21st century)
Gabriel Hurst is the childe of John Harley Matheson, the second-eldest of New Orleans’ Gerousia after Prince Vidal and the secret hand behind Whitney Hancock Bank, one of the largest banking empires in the American South. Matheson has not spoken of his own Kindred ancestors, but he is believed to be a descendant of Artemis Orthia, a methuselah worshiped as the goddess of the same name by ancient Sparta. Artemis met final death during the Third Punic War at the hands of Troile herself. Artemis’ descendants hold that their ancestor’s valiant sacrifice allowed Rome’s other Cainites to slay the Brujah Antediluvian and shatter the utopia-turned-nightmare that was Carthage. Artemis was childe to Ventrue. The blue bloods hold their founder perished long ago, making them the only clan free of an Antediluvian’s machinations.
Becky Lynne Adler is Hurst’s younger sister-in-blood. She administers his domain over Whitney Hancock and serves as his voice in many matters.