Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
“I don’t have any regrets, really. The last person I hurt deserved it.”
René Baristheaut before his execution
“He didn’t just torture me—to death. He didn’t just murder me. He didn’t just murder my brother and mind-rape my best friend. He destroyed my life. Destroyed my future. Took everything that I had from me and damned me. And he didn’t even have the decency to do it properly. There may come a night I can forgive him, that I can appreciate what I am and the possibilities open to me because of what he did. It’s not tonight. I hope he’s enjoying his stay in hell.”
Caroline Malveaux-Devillers (on the record)
René is a lean man of slightly taller than average height. Not exceptionally muscled. No excess body fat, though. Lean and languid. Ink tattoos, their patterns indistinct in the dark, coil up his arms like incestuously knotted snakes. His face is long and high-cheekboned. It’s faded to a healthy tan, yet a century of undeath has simultaneously bleached it pale and left it seemingly neither alive nor dead—the struggle of Man and Beast writ across the contours of his face. Wildness dances through his eyes. It’s a mixture of cruelty, amusement, lust, madness, bitterness, and melancholy. His crooked smirk promises equal parts mirth and mockery, gallantry and monstrosity.
Name: Francis René Baristheaut. Creoles born before the 1910s were often named after Catholic saints. Their middle name served as their communal name.
Date of Birth: November 19th, 1868 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Date of Embrace: March 1st, 1898 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Date of Final Death: March 21st, 2015 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Apparent Age: Late 20s
Real Age: 146
Eye Color: Blue
Hair Color: Brown
GM: An email from Denise reports there are no assets or properties attached to the name René Baristheaut, as that man has been dead for 117 years. Caroline is ironically correct in her guess that René was a soldier, for he fought in the 1898 Spanish-American War as a Marine Corps officer and was reported killed in action. He was excommunicated from the Catholic Church before he left for war, though records from that far back are spotty and Denise’s investigators have not been able to determine why. (Nor do they seem inclined to, unless the matter is particular interest to Caroline.)
Denise’s people have determined the Baristheauts were a well-to-do Creole family that prospered during the Antebellum era. Like many of their peers, the Baristheauts’ fortunes were hit hard by the Civil War and steadily declined throughout the Gilded Age. René’s death might have even been a mercy: the family was spared the humiliating generational erosion of their wealth and status that many other Creoles suffered. The Baristheaut name died with Caroline’s sire, for he was his bloodline’s only male heir. He had sisters who married into other families, but his father never recovered from René’s loss, and died only a year later. Father and son are both interred in St. Louis Cemetery.
Caroline: Another reason to visit St. Louis. It’s calling to her.
As most of the masked city well knows, however, René’s grave at St. Louis Cemetery sits empty.
Although Caroline never discovered the particulars of René’s Embrace, she did learn who made him one of the Kindred: the former Ventrue sheriff of New Orleans, Robert Bastien.
GM: Savoy slowly drums several fingers against the table. “My first dealings with Mr. Baristheaut were just after I’d woken up from my long nap, when he was still but a fledgling himself. He was a charming enough conversationalist, though there was a certain melancholy to him, just under the surface. I’m not sure he ever truly made peace with his Embrace. Many Kindred don’t.”
Caroline: Caroline settles in to hear the elder’s tale.
True to Savoy’s words, René was not at peace with what he’d become. He joined a krewe of fledgling who were particularly guilt-struck and traumatized by their Embraces. This sorry coterie dubbed itself Sol’s Grief and included Rocco Agnello, Father Malveaux (not yet a priest), Harlequin, and Pablo Gallegro. These neonates were mostly written off by their sires, who considered them too damaged, sentimental, and attached to human morality to ever become proper wolves of God under the Sanctified.
There was one exception, though: Robert Bastien. René’s sire believed the krewe had potential and took them under his wing. Time has proven Bastien’s judgment to be more discerning than his peers believed: the membership of Sol’s Grief now reads as a who’s who of contemporary leaders among the Sanctified. While Gallegro never went far in the Church Eternal before his disappearance in the ‘70s, his krewemates all went on to achieve great things by the present era: Harlequin founded the Krewe of Janus and joined the harpies, Malveaux became the Lancea et Sanctum’s bishop, and Rocco the long-serving hound among the Guard de Ville. René, too, initially seemed to have potential.
GM: “Upon his release, he was made a hound under his sire Robert Bastien, the city’s previous sheriff. Mr. Baristheaut and I didn’t have too much to do with one another beyond a few conversations in Elysium, which his sire disapproved of—I suppose he wasn’t wrong that I can be a bad influence.” Savoy grins at the statement. “Mr. Baristheaut served as a hound until 1915, when his sire met final death at the hands of hunters. Some of this you may already know, if you were able to interrogate his ghoul Kelford.”
Caroline: Caroline nods. “Their families were executed for it, and very shortly thereafter Mr. Baristheaut departed the city.”
GM: “Yes, some thought that Mr. Baristheaut didn’t have the stomach to take over his sire’s position. Thus it passed to my childe instead.” Savoy smiles with paternal pride.
GM: “In any case, Nat, where was I?”
“Mr. Baristheaut’s departure, sir.”
“Ah yes, thank you. I didn’t hear from him for years and years. I did hear of him, occasionally—he’d been spotted in this city or that, and had apparently taken to the nomad’s Requiem. Not an easy Requiem.”
Caroline: “So he expressed, though not in so many words.”
GM: “He never returned to New Orleans during all of that time, which I found somewhat curious—he’d been spotted nearby a number of times over the years. The earliest date was Little Rock in 1923, and the latest was Houston in 2005. Perhaps important, perhaps not. But then, one night, he decided to return. Nat, when was the date Mr. Baristheaut presented himself to me?”
GM’s Note: Spoilers for the adventure logs follow below.
In 2015, René returned to New Orleans exactly one hundred years after his original departure.
GM: “August 31st, sir,” Preston replies, glancing down at her tablet. “The same date he presented himself to Seneschal Maldonato. Your agents have traced his earliest activities in New Orleans to August 30th, at least several hours before dawn.”
Caroline: Caroline listens as the lord of the French Quarter fills in missing pieces.
GM: “Thank you, Nat,” Savoy replies before turning back to Caroline. “Mr. Baristheaut presented himself to me in this very garden. He’d matured greatly over the years, and was as charming and well-spoken a guest as any I could have received. He told me that he was in the city to enjoy Southern Decadence, and asked for my permission to make his temporary haven in the French Quarter. He intended to leave on September 7th, the night after the festivities were over, and assured me that he had no interest in politics.”
Caroline: “In hindsight, a lie,” Caroline comments.
GM: “Yes. We also had a feeling that he wasn’t being entirely forthcoming with us, didn’t we, Nat?”
“We did, sir. His stated reason for returning to New Orleans, in addition to attending Southern Decadence, was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his sire’s final death. Perhaps the numeric significance of the occasion had changed his prior feelings towards his home and bloodline, for he had evidenced no special sentiment towards either in over a century.”
“It was something to go on,” Savoy picks up, “but not a great deal. I granted him permission to reside in my parish. I asked a few eyes and ears to monitor his movements and dealings with other Kindred. It turned out Mr. Baristheaut was telling the truth about enjoying the Quarter’s pleasures, at least. He made a few trips to the Dungeon—it’s a BDSM club of some notoriety. Nothing of particular note seemed to happen there. As far as I heard, he simply wanted to sample the club’s pleasures too.”
“On August 6th, Mr. Baristheaut approached my herald Mélissaire and requested a meeting at my soonest convenience over a matter of some urgency. We met the next night, and did he have quite a tale for Nat and me. He’d encountered a comely young woman being victimized by one of the festival’s… I suppose we might say harder revelers. He felt compelled to play the role of the white knight and rescue the fair maiden in distress. Nat, what were his exact words there?”
“‘If all the world’s a stage, the set pieces in ours are all blacks and grays. It’s so rare that one gets to don a white costume,’” Preston quotes without inflection.
Caroline: Caroline grinds her teeth.
GM: “Mr. Baristheaut rescued the young lady and drove off her assailant,” Savoy continues. “She asked him to escort her home, and again in his words, ‘it would hardly have done to remove the costume before the scene was played through.’”
“The two of them talked on the way back. He said appeared sheltered and oblivious as to the true nature of our world. He said he found it charming at first, but when she told him he was a decent man and that his sins could be forgiven… it ‘exposed the fantasy for the sad farce it was to me’, to borrow his words again. He decided to show her the true face of evil, and brought her to the city’s worst abattoir of sin that he knew of… the Dungeon. He said that a fury seized him, such as he’d not known in years. He did things to her. Things that it’s perhaps a blessing you don’t seem to remember.”
Caroline: Caroline’s expression shifts. Much of the narrative to this point matches, but this does not. At least, not that she recalls. Just pieces. Flashes of horror…
GM: “He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he came to, and looked down at what he described to me as ‘little more than a dumb, bleeding husk.’ He was overcome with disgust—at the world, at her, and most of all, at himself. He believed she was gone and there was nothing else he could do for her. He told one of the club’s ghouls to dispose of the corpse.”
“Of course, as we all know, that corpse got back up. That was the last René saw of you. He had no idea he’d given you the Embrace—he conjectured to me that it must have been an accident. Some stray blood slipping down your mouth in a moment of passion. Damnation is regrettably all-too easy to inflict in the heat of the moment.”
Caroline: Caroline’s expression is all the more grim as the tale continues. The tale of her Embrace, little more than one as a victim of a deranged and damaged Kindred made a victim over again by his carelessness.
GM: “You came to in Louis Armstrong Park, which isn’t part of my parish. René didn’t know what had become of you, but he fell into a dark mood and requested my permission to stay in the French Quarter for several further nights. I granted it.”
“From what Lord Savoy’s agents have reported, Mr. Baristheaut threw himself into an orgy of further sins in the Vieux Carré’s pleasure dens,” Preston dispassionately notes. “This was concurrently with those same agents spotting your poaching in the Quarter, Miss Malveaux.”
“I’d intended to have my people approach you,” Savoy continues, “as doing a little homework indicated you were a stranger in town… but only as Kindred. Your family name wasn’t so unfamiliar, suggesting you were a new Embrace. Prince Vidal’s people got to you first, however, and not long after that, your existence became public knowledge to the All-Night Society… and to Mr. Baristheaut.”
Caroline: She remembers the near-brush with the sheriff’s sword before the onlookers.
GM: “He was stunned when he came to me, and insisted he’d had no idea you were Embraced. He could have skipped town, but he wanted to find out what happened that night. I agreed to grant him shelter, in return for a debt of some size. Part of its terms included investigating the circumstances of your Embrace. He made a few interesting discoveries. Such as that the ghoul he’d entrusted with disposing of your body had gone missing.”
Caroline: “That is interesting.”
René found his doom in 2015 at the hands of Sheriff Donovan, who delivered his torpid body to the prince for the alleged crime of Embracing an illicit childe.
Unknown to most Kindred, the principal architects of René’s fall were his ‘childe’ Caroline Malveaux-Devillers and Louis Fontaine, the latter of whom defeated René in personal combat. Owing to Caroline’s poor relationship with the sheriff, however, he took the credit for the ex-hound’s defeat.
René was executed before the city at the Trial of John Harley Matheson for his violations of the Traditions.
René had been absent from New Orleans for a hundred years by the time of his return to the city. He is believed not to have held any domain of his own.
René’s faithful ghoul, Kelford Grant, was a veteran of the 1909 Second Occupation of Cuba and served his domitor in a variety of roles for a century. Kelford claimed to Caroline that he was the only ghoul René kept for any appreciable length of time.
René quickly established a place for himself in Antoine Savoy’s court during his brief return to New Orleans. The French Quarter recognized the century-old ex-hound’s value and it’s probable that he could have climbed further still in Savoy’s graces if he hadn’t been caught and executed by the prince. (Bourbon Sanctified Status ••)
René’s nearly score years in service to the Guard de Ville were remembered by the city’s older Kindred. Still, he’d been absent from New Orleans for a century, and his standing was not what it could have been. (Camarilla Status •)
René’s early service to Vidal and his sire was likewise remembered by the city’s Ventrue. His Embrace of an illicit childe did much to tarnish this dignitas, but he met his final death calmly and in a manner worthy of his Blood—in marked contrast to the defiant last words of his clanmate George Vernon Smith. (Ventrue Status •)
Ventrue (e. prehistory, d. millennia ago)
Alexander (e. millennia ago, d. 13th century)
Gaius Pedius Marcellus (e. 2nd century BCE, d. 15th century?)
Dominic de Valois-Burgundy (e. 15th century, d. late 18th century?)
Lothar Constantine (e. centuries ago, d. mid 19th century)
Robert Bastien (e. early 19th century, d. early 20th century)
René Baristheaut (e. late 19th century, d. 2015)
Dominique Toutain (e. early 19th century, d. 2005)
• 9. Slane Holland (e. late 19th century)
Jacopo “Walter” Andretti (e. mid 20th century, d. 2005)
John Polk (e. mid 20th century, d. 2016)
Roxanne Gerlette (e. early 21st century, d. 2016)
Sebastian Baptiste (e. late 20th century, d. 2005)
Jereaux Guilbeau (e. mid 19th century, d. 2005)
• 9. Marcel Guilbeau (e. mid 19th century)
Stanley Dupeux (e. early 20th century, d. 2005)
Glen Hubel (e. mid 20th century, d. 2005)
Stella Maisonnat (e. mid 20th century, d. 2005)
Bryan Caldwell (e. late 20th century, d. 2005)
• 10. Christopher Guilbeau (e. early 21st century)
• 10. Anthony Brodowski (e. early 21st century)
René was childe to Robert Bastien, the previous sheriff of New Orleans from 1815—1915. He met his final death at the hands of hunters exactly one hundred years after assuming his office.
Bastien was the childe of Lothar Constantine, the first of the Lancea et Sanctum’s bishops in New Orleans, and a former member of the city’s Gerousia and Cabildo. Constantine perished at the claws of Loup-Garoux shortly after the Civil War, sacrificing himself to buy time for his descendants Marcel and Jereaux Guilbeau to escape.
Constantine was childe to Dominic de Valois-Burgundy, an orator, diplomat, and philosopher of no small renown. He has not been heard from since the French Revolution and is presumed to have been destroyed in that conflict.
Dominic was the childe of Gaius Pedius Marcellus, a Roman tribune Embraced during the Punic Wars. Marcellus was a patron of the Carolingian Renaissance and an even more revered philosopher than his childe who did much preserve the Roman Camarilla’s history and customs following its collapse. He has not been seen since the Anarch Revolt and is believed to have met final death in that conflict.
Marcellus was the childe of Alexander, the long-time prince of Paris, founder of the Grand Court, patron of Charlemagne, and architect of the ties between the Ventrue and Toreador clans. He was deposed as prince during the 13th century, went into exile, and subsequently destroyed in battle against the Mongol Gangrel Qarakh. Some unsubstantiated stories claim he was the famed Macedonian conqueror of the same name.
Alexander was a childe of Ventrue. The Kingship Clan believes their founder was destroyed millennia ago, making them the only clan free of an Antediluvian’s manipulations.