Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
“Sex and art are the same thing.”
“I’d let him tie me up and make me call him daddy.”
Josua draws looks wherever he goes. He has a boyishly handsome face, charming smile, deliberately tousled ‘I woke up like this’ brown hair, and soulful green eyes. He dresses in casual clothing, usually jeans and t-shirts, with a preference towards tight ones that show off his smooth chest and firm posterior. He worked out regularly in life and it shows in his thick arms. Josua’s body is his temple and he worships it reverently. The Embrace has only further enhanced his beauty, and he can captivate mortals with as little as a passing glance. He speaks eloquently and quietly, if a little ramblingly when he gets carried away, with a soft purr that’s left more than one mortal woman (and the occasional man) shivering with want.
Josua was born and raised in small-town Newberry, South Carolina, and always dreamed of being an artist. He enrolled at Tulane University to begin his art studies, but the professors in his courses never gave him the same “you should consider a career in the arts” praise they bestowed upon his classmates.
Where Josua did get ahead was with his looks. His college application wasn’t nearly good enough to get him past Tulane’s 21% acceptance rate, but that didn’t matter after he slept with an admissions officer. His family didn’t make enough money to set him up with any kind of college fund, but that didn’t matter either after he worked as an escort to pay tuition. He got ahead in Tulane’s arts program, too, by sleeping with the right people. Being the only boy in a family with three older sisters and a single mother made him very accustomed to doting female attention.
Josua’s “efforts” paid off when Professor Hannah Cahn, through her own contacts in the city’s artistic community, managed to get a few of his paintings into a show at the prestigious Gallery Seyrès. Josua’s hopes soared, for they were his very best pieces: he’d lavished upon hours on them, all outside of class, to earn those coveted “you should consider a career in the arts” words his professors never said to the students who were just taking an art course to fulfill their humanities requirement.
The aspiring artist’s hopes were promptly dashed when the gallery owner verbally eviscerated his pieces with the most scathing, soul-destroying critique he’d ever heard. After explaining all the ways his technique was lacking in exhaustive detail, she called the paintings “good for little more than kindling,” and accused Josua of only getting them exhibited by sleeping with people. She seemingly knew exactly what to say to drive the knife deepest as the crowd tittered its concurrence. When she brought up how his deadbeat father had been a great artist and would never be proud of him (that was, after all, why he’d walked out on Josua’s family), the words were like hot knives in his ears. This had to be staged. This entire exhibition seemingly had no purpose but to publicly humiliate him. The young college student fled the gallery in tears as cruel laughter rang after him.
Josua locked himself in his Riverbend studio apartment and stopped going to classes. He swore not to leave (he’d order food and art supplies online) until he produced a work that would earn praise from even his most caustic detractors. It was during those dark months of self-imposed isolation that Josua found his toughest critic to be himself. Nothing satisfied him; nothing was good enough, he felt, to silence the critics.
One night, too frustrated to paint anymore, Josua decided to go for a walk along Bourbon Street, hoping the bright lights, loud music, and crowds would somehow revive his spirit. Returning to his studio in the wee hours of the morning, he was stunned to find a tall, thin woman there, flipping through the many paintings lining the walls and cluttering the floor.
At first the woman took no notice of the young painter except to command him to be still, but eventually she turned to him. The stranger told Josua that she had seen his work on exhibit at the gallery and that she was pleased he had not let the words of a few foolish critics dissuade him. They had “nothing better to do than bring people down.” She introduced herself only as J. C., an art patron, though she looked a bit young to be a serious patron. She promised Josua that if he would consent to paint her portrait, and if the final work met with her approval, she would reward him beyond his wildest dreams.
Her conditions struck Josua as a bit odd. He could only work on the portrait at night and couldn’t show it to anyone but her. In fact, he couldn’t even tell anyone else that the portrait existed or that he was working on it. Still, rent was due and Josua’s savings were starting to dry up, so he happily accepted the project.
The painting took three weeks to complete. Josua all but glowed when he was done: it was, without a doubt, the finest piece of artwork he had ever created. His client would surely like it just as much and pay well for it. When the woman returned that night to pick up the finished portrait, however, she seized Josua and pinned him to the wall. Then she dug into his neck with her teeth.
When he woke the next night, Josua found himself stuffed into a closet but, so far as he could tell, not seriously harmed otherwise. The next few nights and the girl he killed without even meaning to taught him better.
Coming to terms with his new existence left the young artist on the brink of madness, with art his only ally. Josua spent many of those first nights painting. His new vampiric nature gave his art an edge it had never before possessed, while his horror at what he’d become gave it a quality so disturbing that few could look upon his work and not be affected.
His paintings now had a haunting beauty to them. Colors mixed together as though there were no real borders, only varying shades of one color within the entire work. Josua only used darker and lunar hues, mixing them to form frightening portraits of a reality that only he could portray—the vampire’s world into which he had been thrust. Though Josua painted many different portraits, including of the owner of Gallery Seyrès and her hangers-on, he spent the most time on ones of the young woman who had destroyed his life. He painted two exquisite portraits of her, but kept them both locked in a large trunk.
It did not take long for the sireless fledgling to gain the attention of other Kindred, especially when he began standing on street corners in the French Quarter, loudly hawking his paintings as though he were a carnival barker. To the mortal population he was a colorful addition to the street performers and vendors of the area. The Kindred, however, took a slightly dimmer view of the young artist.
Josua was fortunate Marcel Guilbeau had been the first one to leave that night’s Elysium Primo at the Presbytère after one of his ghouls had called him about an incident with Christoper. Instead of being publicly dragged before the harpies and officers of the prince’s court as a sireless fledgling, Marcel took Josua back to his casino. The ex-prince questioned the young artist and obtained what answers his tortured, guilt-fraught mind could give. When asked who his sire was, Josua could provide no name other than the woman’s initials, which he found amusing because they matched his own. He also produced her likeness in a pencil drawing.
It was in that small work that Marcel could not help but see a certain genius. Despite the disease that gripped Josua’s mind, he still had talent. Marcel decided to intercede on Josua’s behalf with Prince Vidal and grant him sanctuary at his casino while he considered the painter’s fate. Marcel had Josua’s paintings, along with the painter’s few other belongings, brought to the Alystra. He also disposed of the body Josua had kept on ice in his bathtub. The young artist took that news grimly, but flew into a frenzy when he discovered that several of his paintings were missing. When Marcel questioned his ghouls on the matter, they confirmed that the door to the apartment had been unlocked. It took Josua only a few moments to identify the missing paintings—among them the portraits he had done of his sire.
The matter of the missing portraits soon became of great concern to Marcel. They had depicted Adelais Seyrès and a number of other Kindred. The portraits, Marcel reasoned, might eventually end up anywhere in or out of the city, possibly even in the hands of a vampire hunter. Whoever had stolen them also knew Josua was a murderer if they’d gone inside the bathroom. To this night the portraits have not been recovered. The Kindred keep a constant watch for them in the city’s museums and galleries. Marcel has also quietly enlisted the aid of Kindred in other cities to watch for the portraits or their subject, who is wanted in New Orleans.
Josua now lives in a small but comfortable cabin on Marcel’s riverboat casino, where he is allowed to pursue his painting. There’s no question whatsoever that Vidal would have executed him if it weren’t for Marcel’s intercession (or Antoine Savoy’s, if the French quarter lord had gotten to him first), but the ex-prince has agreed to serve as Josua’s mawla and to oversee the search for Josua’s sire and the missing portraits. While few of the involved Kindred are satisfied with this solution, they have not complained and instead wait for the sire to be captured. Josua has begun to gain friends and allies among New Orleans’ Kindred and may be granted permanent residence in the city once he is released. For now, he remains Marcel’s ward. He has done his best to avoid Adelais Seyrès.
Josua’s magnetic good looks have only been enhanced by his Embrace, and he now has an ability to seduce that he claims is “completely beyond my control.” The only offsetting factor to this “talent” is the fact that many people view the young artist as a sex-obsessed lunatic. Josua, however, considers himself far from crazy. In the back of his mind he constantly plots revenge against the woman who stole his life.
As an unreleased fledgling, Josua holds no domain beyond his cabin aboard the Alystra. Marcel lets him hunt on the casino’s patrons. Although it offers more than enough blood to subsist on, and is as safe a hunting ground as any fledgling could hope to get (the security are all obviously in Marcel’s pocket, making any Masquerade breaches easy to clean up), Josua likes “variety in my diet.” At his request, his mawla has also negotiated feeding rights for him at Tulane and Loyola Universities, where he can still blend in among the student body. He doesn’t mind performing favors for Donovan in return.
Josua is well-remembered by his art professors at Tulane (he’s since dropped out), as well as the moneyed female clients he slept with while working as an escort. He’s since learned his former madam was Mélissaire Larieux, the herald to Antoine Savoy. Josua’s painting could also potentially garner him significant attention in the art world. However, Marcel has prohibited him from exhibiting his work at mortal galleries, citing that the thief and any individuals connected to them could recognize Josua’s art style.
For a neonate who’s been dead only a few years, Josua has slept around more than many Kindred ever will. He’s shared blood with “more licks than I can even remember” from all walks of unlife who he’s met at Elysium. Veronica Alsten-Pirrie, Reynaldo Gui, Rocco Agnello, Marisol Beaugendre, Accou Poincaré, Pietro Silvestri, Coco Duquette, Jocelyn Baker, George Smith, and numerous other Kindred number among his liaisons. He likes the idea of someday beating Veronica’s “record” and is considered promiscuous even for a Toreador.
Josua is relatively well-known for being Marcel Guilbeau’s current lover, or as he prefers to describe himself, “current boytoy.” He leans heavily on Marcel to get things he wants and his Requiem has undeniably been more comfortable for it.
Josua has exhibited his paintings at some private Kindred functions, where they’ve been better-received than anything he ever created in life. He likely has a future in his clan once he’s released and the matter of those stolen portraits is resolved.
Josua is nominally unaffiliated with any covenant. Marcel might induct him into the Invictus, once he’s released, but he’d be doing so largely for Marcel. Josua doesn’t have particularly much stake in the city’s factional conflict. He’s equally friendly to Vidal’s and Savoy’s political blocs, though finds little in common with the Baron’s. If it really came down to it, other Kindred think his temperament is more suited to Savoy’s camp than Vidal’s, but he largely follows his mawla’s lead.
Josua fed Alice Guillot his blood and made her his ghoul at a college party after admiring her artwork. He later threw her out after getting bored with her in a typical example of his clan’s fickleness. Alice was a little stung, but found she preferred life as an independent ghoul, and was grateful he hadn’t been mindful enough to “clean up loose ends.”
Josua was unaffected by Caroline Malveaux-Devillers’ actions before the trial of John Harley Matheson, which resulted in Vidal making it policy to execute all abandoned fledglings unless they were taken in by a mawla. Marcel had already taken him under his wing.
Caroline Malveaux-Devillers met Josua at an Elysium. The two flirted and hit off, though the Ventrue ultimately turned down his advances out of a lingering sense of monogamy towards her lover Jocelyn Baker (though was jealous at the news Josua had previously shared blood with her). Undeterred, he invited her to stop by the Alystra later so he could allegedly paint her. Caroline later did so after ending her relationship with Jocelyn Baker. The two shared blood after Josua completed a painting that left her (figuratively) breathless.
Jade Kalani ran into Josua at the Midnight Bayou while she was on the prowl for someone else. One look at each other had the two were struck by their clan “blessing;” the pair of Toreador quickly left the club to head back to the Alystra, where they spent multiple hours engaged in various states of undress by themselves and with a handful of the Alystra security personnel. They took a break for Josua to paint Jade, shared blood, and made plans to meet up later in the week so that Jade could turn Josua into a girl for Marcel’s enjoyment and share the Ventrue between them. They also discussed various other elders they wouldn’t mind sharing and made vague allusions to conquering them as a team.
More to come.
• 3. Arikel (e. prehistory)
Amarantha (e. millennia BCE, d. millennia BCE)
• Unknown line of sires
• “J.C.” (e. unknown)
• Josua Cambridge (e. early 21st century)
Childe of “J.C.” Josua’s further lineage is unknown: Camilla Doriocourt performed a theban rite to trace the rest of his bloodline, but its results were largely inconclusive beyond confirming him to be Toreador. Somewhat unusually (for such divinations normally reveal one’s closest Kindred relatives), Doriocourt’s rite also revealed his distant ancestress to be Amarantha, an ancient Greek who was (possibly apocryphally) the first victim of diablerie when a Banu Haqim judge administering punishment to her lost control of himself. Amarantha was a childe of Arikel.
None known. Josua’s sire may have Embraced other Kindred, but this is impossible to verify until any such broodmates come forward or her identity is discovered.
None known. Josua still has yet to be released and is unlikely to be permitted to Embrace for some time.