Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Egotistical art thief
“The thief, as will become apparent, was a special type of thief. This thief was an artist of theft. Other thieves merely stole everything that was not nailed down, but this thief stole the nails as well.”
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
“No one can fault his taste. He stole me, after all."
Pietro is a rakish young-looking man with olive skin, a thin mustache and goatee, and a thick head of curly black hair. His frame is short, slim, and sinewy, like a cobra with four limbs. His dark eyes often glint with amusement, and his full lips quirk in self-content smirks. He likes to dress in leather jackets stolen from Brujah (“everything tastes better stolen”), designer clothes, silver Rolexes, and numerous gem-set gold rings. His jewelry changes frequently. In his more retrospective moods, he’s known to enjoy zoot suits from the ’20s and leisure suits from the ’70s. More tasteful individuals have snubbed his fashion sense as tacky. Pietro is completely and utterly unashamed. People can take him or leave him.
Pietro grew up starving and uneducated in an impoverished Sicily that had nothing to offer except unbearable taxation imposed by Italy’s newly-unified government. His story was the same as many other poor Italians who immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. For the most part, Pietro doesn’t like to talk about it. He finds it a “boring story that’s been told a thousand times already."
Like many of his countrymen, Pietro was one of the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” who passed through Ellis Island and fell into a life of crime. Pietro, though, never had what it took to go far in the Mafia. He wasn’t interested in taking orders and made no bones over the fact he valued his own skin over most everybody else’s. He didn’t need the Mafia to make it in this country, anyway. Pietro was already accustomed to stealing to survive in Sicily, but in America “people actually had things worth stealing.” The young immigrant was soon making a steady living as a pickpocket, house burglar, and occasional mugger when pickings were slim. God bless America.
If someone asks Pietro how he left New York, he’ll smile and weave any of a dozen stories. The unifying thread to all of them is that at some point he robbed the wrong mark at the wrong time. New York got too hot and he skipped town. New Orleans seemed like as good a place to go as any. There was a sizable Italian-American community there, and even 100 years ago they still told stories about the things that happened in the French Quarter.
Pietro’s stories grow even more outrageous after he arrives in New Orleans. He says he discovered the Kindred all on his own, and stole the vitae that Embraced him right from his sire’s sleeping lips. He says his rakish looks and peerless skills captivated the entire Toreador clan, and that they all fought over the right to Embrace him; that’s how Bruno Courtet actually met final death. He says he impersonated the artist who won the clan’s Halloween Ball and stole the Embrace meant for them. His cousin Veronica, when she’s in angrier moods, says he was an accidental Embrace after Barthélemy Lafon fed on him too deeply. It was dumb luck he didn’t become Caitiff and pity that made his sire keep him around.
At the end of the night, they’re both liars.
What’s indisputably true is that the Embrace made Pietro an unstoppable thief. Robbing mortals blind was too easy; the trickier part was maintaining the Masquerade, and he found that more tedious than enjoyable. It was cleaning up after himself rather than actually stealing things of worth. Stealing from other vampires, though, proved a more exciting challenge. Flirting with danger got his dead heart pumping like nothing else.
After landing in hot water with several elders, Barthélemy suggested to his childe that petty theft would only take him so far. Pietro thereafter expressed himself among the Toreador by becoming an accomplished art forger. Many of them considered such work “derivative” but he said, “Who cares? It sells. Money is beautiful, too.” He still likes to point to his “artistic growth” as evidence the supposedly static Kindred can learn new tricks. Forgeries were also better for the Masquerade. Pietro could steal prized artwork to his heart’s content when he replaced pieces with forgeries. He still gets a kick out of seeing how long it takes curators to catch on. He claims the hapless kine have yet to identify dozens of fakes in their galleries.
He also credits his success, at least partly, to Barthélemy. That credit is possibly the only thing he hasn’t tried to steal completely for himself.
Pietro’s brand of art never won him acclaim among his clan, but they tolerated it, especially when he also proved a fair hand at restoration work (there was a lot of overlap with forgery). His sire, a “gentleman scoundrel” who style Pietro greatly admired, possessed extensive criminal holdings and always had another burglary or forgery job for his childe. Unlife was good.
That all changed when Pearl Chastain rose from torpor and made clear she viewed her grandchilde as a low-born poseur of the worst sort; he would need to change a great deal about himself if he were to have any place within their clan and covenant.
Pietro sneered at the idea he owed his grandsire anything: he was a half-century dead and hadn’t once laid eyes on her. He’d have probably jumped ship from the Invictus even if his sire hadn’t. He wound up with the Anarchs, whose sensibilities were always more in line with his own. Katherine Beaumont was quick to besmirch his name and claim he was an “unreformable scoundrel,” but others countered that Barthélemy (who’d earned Pietro’s respect) was able to influence his childe’s artistic sensibilities in a more productive direction, or at least less personally dangerous one. Pietro was just another descendant who the out-of-touch Pearl had needlessly alienated.
Looking back isn’t for Pietro, though, especially when the Anarchs admired his exploits. Pietro was happy to bask in his newfound popularity with the covenant’s younger members, though like his cousin Veronica, he makes no bones over the fact he doesn’t care about the Movement’s larger cause: he just wants the freedom to do what he wants. For decades, that was enough for Coco and Miss Opal. Better to have him on their side than someone else’s.
Pietro likes to say a good thief is also a faster runner: it’s inevitable they’ll get caught at some point. Katrina “caught” everybody. Stories say that Pietro stole a helicopter from the feds and took it on a joyride. That’s how he got out of the city.
It’s other licks, though, who tell those stories.
Pietro doesn’t talk about Katrina. There aren’t any Kindred who claim to have seen him in Houston or Baton Rouge, so he doesn’t seem to have fled there. He didn’t remain in the city, either: why would he, when there was nothing but danger and next to no blood after the kine all left? Veronica, the lick who’s closest to him, just gets nasty (even by her standards) when the subject comes up. Katrina wasn’t a happy occasion for either of them: Barthélemy was a lover and mawla to both Toreador, and destroyed during the flight to Houston. Some licks wonder if that’s why Pietro doesn’t like to talk about it, but he doesn’t talk about the next two years, either. Katrina is the one story he refuses to boast about.
Since the Storm
Two years later, Pietro returned from wherever he’d been without explanation and resumed his old ways. There was plenty to steal in the rebuilding city. By 2009, he and Veronica were back together.
To this night, Pietro remains New Orleans’ premier Kindred thief. Whenever something goes missing in the city, other licks assume Pietro is involved.
He often is.
Pietro holds a moderate stretch of domain in Faubourg Marigny and (since the 2015 Anarch split) the French Quarter. He enjoys picking up vessels at bars and clubs, though many Kindred suspect that with his skills he could easily feed as a sandman too.
The Julia Street Panthère is said to be an art forger and thief of preternatural, if not downright impossible, skill. The Panthère is considered an apocryphal figure, if not ludicrous urban legend, by mortal authorities.
The Panthère, of course, is Pietro. While he’s not so gauche as to leave calling cards, there are some individuals who believe (or at least half-believe) that a ghost haunts the city’s art museums, or at least Julia Street’s. Pietro regards the whole thing with amusement, but he’s vain enough that it tickles his ego, too. It’s well that the kine should be in awe of his skills.
• Alan Thomas (g. late 20th century, Ghoul Status ••)
Alan has one of those smiles that makes you want to punch the guy in his face. The smarmy kind, like he thinks he knows more than you. He’s charming, though, and he’s probably got what you need. Art? Cars? Jewels? Drugs? Guy could sell ice to an Eskimo in the middle of winter. Was a used car salesman at some point, but Silvestri obviously liked the cut of his jib since he took the guy in. Always trying to sell something to someone, whether it’s physical goods or an idea. “Do it for the commish,” he’s fond of saying. Gets on well with most people, honestly, silver-tongued flatterer that he is. Some people think he’s pretty stand up. Or maybe he just pulled the wool over their eyes, too. Has the hots for Clementine Jasper-Kumar. “She only looks underage,” but apparently that’s how he likes them. Serves as a herald of sorts for his domitor, Pietro, and talks about a million miles an hour.
Others: Pietro employs a variety of ghouls. Some aid in his criminal endeavors. Some are pretty faces he enjoys for a while and then abandons; Pietro might not be an artiste, but he’s as fickle as any of his clan. He’s particularly fond of “untouchable” pretty girls who he can “steal” from their boyfriends. Especially if they’re Christians saving themselves for marriage: he gets a kick out of “stealing” their virginity too.
Pietro goes through identities like snakeskins. He’s posed as countless different people over the years. One of his favorite is a suave and debonair “gentleman thief” from a fantastically wealthy upbringing who steals for the thrill of the heist (“James Bond without the government authorization”). He also impersonates a flirty cat burglar who always wears an impractical leather catsuit. He’s amused at how many people fall for both guises. He sometimes allows himself to be spotted while wearing them, or even leaves calling cards. He always gets a kick out sending the authorities scrambling after thieves who don’t actually exist.
If someone knows a fence, chances are that fence knows Pietro or knows a guy who knows Pietro (at least through one of his guises). He still doesn’t have any desire to join or run the Mafia (plenty of other Kindred splitting that pie between themselves), but he knows quite a few criminal contacts and has stolen things for many of them. He also has contacts among art dealers and auction houses that open doors to surprisingly respectable circles.
Pietro is a figure of high standing among the Anarchs. He doesn’t actually do a lot for the Movement, but his deeds are famous among its members. Quite simply, they love his style. Sometimes Coco can convince him to pitch in for things. (Anarch Status •••)
The Ravnos respect him a lot for the same reason. He’s learned a few tricks from the clan, and taught them a few of his own, too. The Ravnos don’t have a constant presence in the city outside of a few members, but many of the ones who pass through meet Pietro and know him for a friend to their clan. (Ravnos Friendship ••)
Pietro enjoys minor standing among the Camarilla. Some might suspect otherwise, but contrary to what younger Anarchs might say, his nights of stealing from elders to blow the Camarilla a raspberry are long past. He’s of a respected lineage, moderately old, and many Kindred find cause to deal with him sooner or later, though usually out of sight. He hasn’t gone out of his way to establish his name among the sect. (Camarilla Status •)
Among his clan, Pietro is seen as a poseur. Most of them don’t care that he sells forgeries to mortals, but they don’t see it as a respectable vocation. His restoration work has won him a few plaudits. (Toreador Status •)
George Smith briefly spoke to Pietro over an exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Center. It involved a live performance piece that Pietro deemed impractical to imitate or steal. George joked with him not to disturb the “faux-liage.”
Micheal Kelly encountered Pietro feeding on Veronica and promptly threw off the thief to claim her as his. Pietro insulted Micheal and called him a “monkey”, but declined to get into a physical altercation with the hulking Brujah, instead slinking away to plot revenge. Veronica seemed to enjoy watching her lovers fight over her.
Caroline Malveaux-Devillers briefly met Pietro during the Trial of John Harley Matheson. To no one’s great surprise, he’d sided with his cousin Veronica and jumped into bed with Antoine Savoy during the Anarch factional split. Caroline saw Pietro gathered among Savoy’s partisans, trading quips with the French Quarter lord and amusing themselves as they waited for the proceedings to begin. Caroline thought Pietro reeked of tackiness and new money and declined to directly speak with him.
Celia met Pietro at Saints and Sinners after a disastrous date with Emmett Delacroix. Drunk, high, and emotionally exhausted, Celia let Pietro talk her into getting into his car after showing her a few “magic tricks” and the pair lied to each other about their names. They had another drink back at his place and fucked on the kitchen counter, after which Celia promptly crashed. She woke some hours later to hear Pietro and Veronica arguing about a body in the next room. After attempting to go out the window to get away from the murderers, Celia was dragged back inside by the pair and witnessed her first glimpse of Kindred sex before managing to escape.
The next evening Pietro showed up with Veronica when Celia called the bar after her mother went missing in a plan that, at the time, she even thought of as “a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.” He and Veronica shared Celia’s blood when she tried to convince them to steal her mom back from Maxen. It was Pietro who kept Veronica from Embracing Celia right then and there, and Pietro who gave Celia his blood to ghoul her when his cousin took enough to send her to an early grave.
Jade came across Pietro at Lord Savoy‘s Bacchanalia party. He and Reynaldo Gui were happy to have Jade join their twosome to turn it into a threesome. Following their tryst, the three discussed plans to take over Harrah’s from Rocco Agnello, with the thief promising to do what he does best once Jade does a favor for him.
More to come.
• 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” Babinfeaux (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. 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)
Pietro is the childe of Barthélemy Lafon, an architect, engineer, and planner who designed the Garden District. He also led a double life as a pirate, smuggler, and associate of Jean Lafitte’s. He continued both vocations into his Requiem after Pearl Embraced him to save his architectural talents from yellow fever, and walked a skillful line impressing scoundrels and proper society alike. He perished during Katrina. Barthélemy was childe to Pearl Chastain, the matriarch and senior primogen for their clan 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.
Pietro has yet to Embrace. “Too much hassle,” he likes to say. Some Kindred joke he prefers to be the “cool uncle,” as he seems to have a soft spot for Veronica’s childe Jade, a few other neonates among their clan, and the Caitiff Zofia.