Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Caroline 6.11 Log
Monday night, 21 September 2015, AM
Caroline: Caroline watches most move, lets the crowd seek its rightful place, before she rises in search of the Storyvilles.
GM: She finds Jocelyn and Roxanne after several moments. They’re both wearing church-appropriate dresses in light colors, cyan for Jocelyn, back for Roxanne.
Caroline: Caroline takes a long-deferred breath away from the filthy old woman and puts on a smile.
“This has certainly been something.”
GM: “Yeah, I’ll say,” Roxanne scoffs. “I can’t believe they even let that crawfish in.”
Caroline: Caroline’s eyes settle on the raven-haired Ventrue’s sharp gaze.
“He’s certainly said his peace,” she agrees evenly.
GM: “I suppose he helped make Smith look bad.”
Caroline: “The gator felt a bit over the top to me.”
GM: “That was gross,” Jocelyn agrees, looking towards the front of the cathedral where ghouls are already cleaning the mess up.
Caroline: “And bizarre. How did he even get it here? Talk about commitment to making a point.”
GM: “Probably sleeps with it. You know what those Gangrel are like.”
Caroline: “Like Hound Agnello?” Caroline offers pointedly.
GM: “He seriously isn’t a Toreador?” Roxanne asks Jocelyn.
“No, though he comes to a lot of our balls.”
“That Boggs seems like a Gangrel. Or Caitiff.”
Caroline: Caroline’s gaze sweeps forward, to where Boggs stands near George. She bites her lower lip.
“Assumptions are dangerous, and prejudices all the more so.”
GM: “You aren’t seriously saying that most kaintucks are better,” Roxanne answers.
Caroline: Caroline arches an eyebrow. “I’m observing that Mr. Smith probably wrote off Mr. Boggs just as quickly as you did—and that it does not seem to have worked out for him.”
GM: “Who said anything about writing him off? I’m observing that some lick who’ll drag around a rotting gator carcass is probably a kaintuck.”
Caroline: “I apologize then, Ms. Gerlette,” Caroline replies. “I thought when you called him an ‘inbred hick’ you’d assumed he was such, with all the trappings of such a lofty title.”
GM: Roxanne doesn’t roll her eyes, but the thought looks like it’s crossed her mind. “So what are you assuming, that he’s a blue blood? Yeah, that actually wouldn’t surprise me at all.”
“Roxanne…” Jocelyn interjects.
Roxanne looks at her, then back to Caroline. “He is a hick. That doesn’t mean he can’t still trip up Smith.”
Caroline: “And it means that he’s likely to hold a grudge,” Caroline follows, unoffended by her mocking. “See case and point, the trial of Mr. Smith and ‘Mr. Hick goes to New Orleans’ to ‘drain the swamp.’”
GM: “Guess I can call the cleaning service in case any more gator carcasses get dumped outside my haven, then. Holland is my great-grandsire. I’m not about to let a kaintuck like Boggs insult him in public.”
Caroline: Caroline bites her tongue and falls silent for a moment. “I suppose I hadn’t considered that. I just remember something my father said once, about rural folk: ‘Small torches are the brightest light in their lives.’”
She shrugs. “They don’t have anything better to do than hold a grudge and make it the center of their attention. Not that I don’t think you could take care of yourself, but weeds like that tend to crop up at inopportune times.”
GM: “Hm, I suppose they don’t. The Storyvilles will just have to pull him up if he makes trouble.”
Caroline: “I’m sure you’ll prove up to the task,” Caroline replies. “On a less morbid note, have you ever heard of ordinary mortals puking up other people’s blood and body parts with no memory of how it happened?”
GM: Roxanne and Jocelyn trade baffled looks.
Caroline: Caroline gives them an amused look. “It’s been a weird sort of night.”
GM: “Ask a warlock, maybe,” Roxanne ventures.
“Yeah, if she doesn’t mind losing her soul,” Jocelyn retorts.
“The warlocks don’t steal souls,” says Roxanne.
“Maybe not,” hedges Jocelyn, “but I hear they turned Matheson into a vitae addict.”
Caroline: “Is that the going theory?”
GM: Jocelyn shrugs. “Don’t ever trust the warlocks.”
Caroline: “Where’s everyone else?” Caroline asks, gesturing to the empty spaces on either side of the two.
GM: “Off doing their own things.”
“Like me. Later.” Roxanne heads off into the crowd.
Caroline: Caroline watches her go, but her attention is clearly more split between Jocelyn and the prince.
“So, this is crazy. I had no idea there were this many Kindred in the city. Or that the prince was so… yeah…”
GM: “Princely?” Jocelyn fills.
Vidal, from what Caroline can see, is engaged in conversation with Maldonato and Antoine Savoy. Donovan and Gus Elgin appear to have moved elsewhere.
Caroline: “That’s a good word. He certainly knew how to make an entrance.”
She looks at the three.
“That’s an odd couple.”
GM: Jocelyn looks ahead towards them. “Talking about elder stuff, I guess.”
Caroline: “I guess on some level they have to talk, and if not about the Traditions, what could they agree on?”
GM: The conversation between the three elders does not appear to last overly long. Antoine Savoy says something inaudible to the other two, smiles, and departs. Vidal and Maldonato remain in conference. Neither is smiling.
Caroline: “So… these Toreador balls you mentioned…” Caroline keeps one eye on the prince.
GM: “Yeah, we’re gonna adopt you into the clan at our next one, since you spaz out just like we do,” Jocelyn dryly replies.
Caroline: Caroline laughs. “Sorry, this is all a little overwhelming, especially after the last few nights. When I don’t feel like a kid in a candy store I feel like a foreigner in the states for the first time.”
GM: “It’s a pretty big party, yeah. There must be like a hundred licks here. Leaving out the ghouls.”
Caroline: “In every shape and size and odor,” Caroline offers. “I can’t for the life of me understand why someone would Embrace a withered old woman with three teeth, but I guess to each their own.”
GM: “Haven’t heard of her. Maybe she was an accident.”
Caroline: “How do you accidentally Embrace someone?” Caroline asks.
GM: “I dunno, honestly. I’ve just heard of accidents happening.”
Caroline: Caroline nods. “Is your sire here?”
GM: “Nah, she doesn’t live in New Orleans.”
Caroline: “Houston?” Caroline fills in.
GM: “Sometimes? I’m not always sure where she lives.”
Caroline: The comment piques Caroline’s interest. “A drifter between cities, then?”
GM: “She’s an archon. It means she has to move around a lot.”
Caroline: “Is that a Toreador thing?”
GM: Jocelyn looks like she could sigh.
“No, it’s a Camarilla thing. But, Caroline… you really need to find someone to get you up to speed on, well… everything. You’re just gonna keep getting in trouble if you don’t.”
Caroline: “I did. Lessons start next week.”
GM: Jocelyn looks mildly surprised. “Oh, that’s good. Who with?”
Caroline: “Ms. Adler,” Caroline replies quietly.
GM: “That’s good, I guess, she is an elder’s childe.”
Caroline: It’s a subtle knife that cuts deepest. Caroline tries to keep a completely straight face.
“The price was less than that of another mistake.”
GM: “Yeah, I bet for sure in the long run…”
Caroline: “So, what do you think so far?” Caroline asks.
GM: “Of what, the trial?”
Caroline: Caroline nods.
GM: “I don’t really know, to be honest,” Jocelyn admits. “I thought it was mostly gonna be about Matheson.”
Caroline: “It is though, isn’t it?”
GM: “Well, I think it’s mostly been Smith so far.”
Caroline: Caroline shrugs. “Mr. Smith is deeply involved in the whole issue though, isn’t he, since he was the one recruiting neonates to visit Mr. Matheson, among other things?”
GM: “Yeah, he was. But if Matheson’s innocent then so’s he. Well, of anything to do with neonates,” Jocelyn says slowly. “Prince Vidal isn’t gonna be happy he was covering up for Hurst…”
Caroline: “Right… and given the crowd and how they’ve reacted already here… you have to figure that they’re going to want someone’s blood…”
GM: “Oh Hurst’s totally gonna get ashed, breaking the Masquerade like that.”
Caroline: Caroline bites her lip.
“What I don’t understand is why they made no effort to clean it up.”
GM: “I think there was a fight. Some of them might’ve gotten torped. But I guess we’ll hear a bunch of testimony in a bit.”
A figure emerges from the crowd. It’s Donovan’s mimic. The ghoul’s dead eyes flatly stare into Caroline’s.
“Regent Donovan has not received your corvée.”
Caroline: That’s certainly not because he and the other agents of the prince abducted all of my ghouls, took all of my means of outside communication, staked me, and kept me prisoner most of last night, Caroline all but snarls internally.
GM: Jocelyn looks between Caroline and the ghoul.
“Right, I got somewhere else I should be.”
The Toreador heads off.
Caroline: She instead bites her tongue.
“I can make payment in the standard amount immediately following the conclusion of the trial, but must request to take a drink in place of Sheriff Donovan’s previously leveled punishment.”
GM: “Then you have failed to obtain the vitae regent Donovan required for your corvée,” the mimic intones hollowly.
Caroline: “You already said that.”
GM: “I will notify Regent Donovan of your rudeness and disrespect to his person and station,” the mimic recites in the same bland monotone.
Caroline: She doesn’t have to look up at the sheriff for her hatred of him to burn, looking at his pathetic mirror image provides ample fuel for the fire. She hates him. She hates everything about him, and everything he has ever done to him. Every way he’s ever treated her. Hates the pettiness and cruelty of this action. Hates the lies about plentiful hunting grounds, hates the demands of service. Hates the callous murder of someone she considered a friend without so much as a word of warning, and the vindictive and defeating demands he made upon her for that murder. Hates the recommendation that her ghouls be executed. Hates the very idea of having to see him or do anything for him ever again.
And this doughy, pathetic, hollow creature that shares his shape. Hates how he threw her into René’s arms. Hates how more than once he’s held a sword over her head. Hates how he’s set her up for failure at every opportunity: with Savoy, with René, with his ridiculous demands. Four people in two days—days spent in the captivity of elders as well he knows.
GM: The empty-eyed mimic only stares at Caroline with all of the interest that watching paint dry might evince.
Caroline: She wants to plunge her nails through his fake gray eyes. Wants to sink her teeth into his too-flabby throat and rip it out. Wants to spit his blood all over the floor because it isn’t good enough for her consumption. And she can’t pretend, in this moment, that it is the Beast driving that desire.
Not that the Beast isn’t tearing at the thin layer of skin between it and this wet bag of flesh. It’s been pushed too far, abused too much, in the last day. It doesn’t care where they are. It doesn’t care who it is. It seizes her rising tide of fury and tries to ride it to freedom. Her fists ball as she fights for control under that hollow creature’s stare, and she all but unconsciously bares her fangs, wroth written across her face. Another insult. Another indignity. Another humiliation. Another promise of servitude extorted from her at the point of a gun, after their very own manipulation.
It was supposed to be better after she caught René. It was supposed to get easier. Instead every night just brings more reasons to hate, more soul and spirit crushing oppression and abuse. She knows the words to speak. Knows what she’s supposed to say…
The Beast surges against her, drowning out speech, drowning out thought, behind nothing but anger. She drowns it, smothers it, and finds as she stomps out the last embers of it, that she too has stomped out the last embers of her own passion. She was angry that it wasn’t fair, she was furious that it wasn’t just, she was wrathful that it was directed at her, but in an instant she’s just tired of it all. Utterly exhausted and spent by this Requiem. A walking corpse that should have been buried weeks ago, and which has found nothing but ruin since.
What point is there to it all? Clan of Kings? Childe of the prince? Even her sire, wrapped in darkness itself, cannot drag her from the wet slithering pit of despair she finds herself falling down. She has no sire. She has no clan. She has no respect, or authority, or even friends. She is nothing but a whipping girl, and they’re never going to let her claw her way off the ground, not matter how many times she lays there and lets them hit her or how hard she tries to rise to her feet.
Caroline genuinely doesn’t know why she’s even bothering. What she hopes to achieve at any point: another night as a monster, trying to survive just so others can take their amusement from her suffering? It’s all that’s awaited her every night. And all that ever will. The prince will never claim her. The Ventrue will never accept her. And she’s dead anyway. That execution hanging over her head. The setting only beats it further into her how low she is. There was no trial for her. No justice. No defense. Just at every turn elders and elders breaking into her mind. Taking from her even her thoughts.
Seconds drag on, but something speaks with her voice. She doesn’t know why she bothers. Doesn’t know what compels her to speak. Maybe it’s just been conditioned into her. A reflex. An involuntary reaction. It’s all she seems to do of late.
“Then convey to him as well that I intended no offense to him, and would offer him my apologies for any slights given by my tardiness in delivering my corvée, along with the aforementioned proposed alternative.”
GM: “A single boon is the normative surcharge for tardiness in paying corvée. A second is required for any additional favors or services,” the mimic hollowly recites.
Caroline: “Then convey to him a boon for my tardiness and another any offense and my proposed alternative.”
The Ventrue’s teeth all but crack and snap when she closes her mouth.
GM: “Regent Donovan will decide whether to accept a single debt for two services,” Donovan’s halfhearted double blandly answers.
He turns and leaves without further word.
Caroline: Caroline turns and walks in the opposite direction, away from the bulk of the crowd and the ghoul. She needs to get away from it all.
GM: No one stops her as she makes her way past the last of the benches and the cathedral’s double doors. Outside the hall of worship proper, there is a comparatively modest atrium. Rows of extinguished candles sit near a statue of the Virgin Mary. A white-lettered black sign says “welcome” and explains the cathedral’s history in brief. Another set of double doors leads outs to the Central Business District. Several more halls wind away to sections of the cathedral which Caroline has never visited. A few doorways are barred with iron grills.
Several ghouls are also present in the atrium. They watch the Ventrue with detached interest.
Caroline: The Ventrue eyes the barred doors and the exit from the church proper, eyes with longing, but instead stops here. Among the ghouls, but not the Kindred. The oppressive weight of the statue’s gaze weighs on her, and she desperately wants the freedom of the night’s air, but she’s not willing to tempt fate with it. She wants to get away, to truly get away.
GM: Caroline observes that the double doors leading outside the church proper are not barred, only those hallways leading to portions of the church not generally seen by visitors. If the indifferent expressions upon the ghouls’ faces are any indication, security seems more concerned with keeping undesirables out than keeping Kindred in.
The noise of footsteps is eventually audible behind the second set of double doors that lead to the cathedral’s hall of worship.
Caroline: There’s no real escape. Not from any of this. Not from the monsters in the next room. There’s only the slightest break in the action that she might eke out.
She turns and rejoins the cathedral of monsters.
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