The Monster Dolls

“If the world is full of monsters, the only way to defeat them is to become one yourself.”
Bane

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Perceived Goals: Performing dance shows
Meeting Place: Unknown
Prerequisites to Join: Ownership of a monster doll or providing some useful service to the coterie.
Required Backgrounds: Status (Monster Dolls) •+


History


The Old World

It started, as these things to, with a lie, a dream, and a romantic.

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte III was the first President of France. When that title no longer titillated him he became Emperor of the French… at least until 1870, when he was defeated, captured, and exiled.

But this story isn’t about Napoleon. It’s about the concubine Marguerite Bellanger, actress and acrobat, and the line that she bore from his seed.

Because Napoleon wasn’t exiled alone. He was kept comfortably in England until his death in 1873, and his mistress paid him frequent visits right up until the end. After his death, Marguerite settled down with a British Army officer, one William Louis Kulbach, and scant months after their marriage she gave birth to a daughter: Mary Louise Kulbach. Marguerite kept the girl’s true parentage to herself until 1886. Only on her death bed did she tell Mary Louise the truth: that she is the daughter of the Emperor. William said that he had always known, that it didn’t change anything between them, but Mary Louise no longer felt as if she were anything more than a burden to the man who had raised her. It seemed a good a time as any to leave England for the New World.

The New World

During her trip, Mary Louise decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and changed her name to Charlotte Louise Bellanger, and it was Charlotte who fell in with a theater troupe. She was a better actress than her mother had been (the woman was always more cunning than talented), and soon secured a starring role with the troupe that traveled down the coast performing at various stages. By the time they hit New Orleans in the 1890s, Charlotte was the leading lady. She could act, she could sing, she could tumble across the stage with the best of them in acrobatic glee; but it was the dancing that truly drew in the admirers.

When she danced, it was as if the whole world ceased to exist. There was just her, the music, and the sinuous, winding pattern her body created. She was more than graceful; she was sensuous, lissom, sylphlike.

The kine were not the only people to notice.

The First Doll

Charlotte was approached one evening by a handsome fellow in well-made clothing who offered to put her up in New Orleans indefinitely so that she could perform at the French Opera House full time. Enchanted with the city, and moved by the thought that she, like her mother, could command hordes of suitors, Charlotte accepted his offer. For years he was her patron, doting on her, spoiling her with gowns, jewelry, and a posh apartment with the nicest view. At night she knew pleasure in his arms.

She fancied herself a woman in love.

And perhaps, if this were a fairy tale, she could have died an old, rich woman with memories of the stage. Perhaps her “prince charming” would have been exactly that: a charming, handsome man she could marry.

But he wasn’t.

One evening her paramour revealed the truth of his nature to her: Kindred. But not just any Kindred; his was the worst sort, the kind that scurried beneath the feet of the others, the kind with festering wounds and deformed faces. Rhett Carver was no different than any of the other Nosferatu once he let his glamour drop.

Charlotte was horrified. She refused his advances, called him a monster, and told him that she never wanted to see him again. Rhett didn’t give her a choice. He gave her his blood, three draughts of it over three long nights, and she was his.

And though the Blood made her obsessed with him, he could still see the revulsion in her eyes when she looked upon him. It could not erase the years of superiority she had always felt towards those she deemed as “lesser.” Even as a blooded ghoul, the lowest of the low among Kindred society, she did not let her shoulders hunch or her spine bow beneath the predators that stalked the night. She was chained, but she was not broken. Worse, she looked upon her domitor with pity, and her feet had turned to lead.

Rhett could not stand the sight of his failure. Rather than suffer the fool he found another performer, a male just as talented, and bred the two kine. He would do it right this time. Raise the child from birth to know him as their patron and guardian angel.

His patience paid off.

The Second Doll

The girl born to Charlotte and the stud was no less beautiful than her mother. She danced before she walked, her form nimble and graceful. Rhett had her taken away from Charlotte as soon as she was born—the mother was given to a groom to do with as they willed—and placed her with a family that owed all they were to Rhett. They raised the child as their own, and for years Rhett was the silent guardian, the doting uncle, the friend in the shadows.

On the cusp of adulthood, Rhett took the girl for his own. Unlike her mother, Eleanor had known Rhett’s nature and had seen his true face for years. She was unafraid of the Nosferatu and what he offered. She danced for him. She danced so well that Rhett took her to meet his Toreador friend, who declared that he had “never seen such grace.” Soon she danced for the entire clan at their balls and guild functions, fueled by the blood her domitor regularly spoiled her with.

A new troupe formed, ghouls given blood to keep them young and spry enough to entertain for decades, and Eleanor was their star.

Donning Masks

Unfortunately few ghouls can long survive with a normal appearance when they’re fed a diet of sewer rat blood. Eleanor was no exception. Even night doctors could offer her no recourse: with enough time her body would simply revert to its new, cursed appearance.

The fickle Toreador no longer wanted her to dance for them. They said that her skill could not make up for her unsavory appearance, and Eleanor fell from grace.

The answer came, as these things do, with death.

The early 1900s saw the Embrace of Katherine Beaumont, another performer who stole the spotlight from her aunt-in-blood Marguerite Defallier. When the opera house burned in 1919 and Beaumont suspected her jealous clanmate, an “accident” to befall one of Defallier’s beloved performers. Though there was no proof that it was anything more than a late night mishap, the clan cracked down hard. After all, to destroy art is among the greatest of crimes to the clan of the rose.

The troupe and their domitors would not stand to see their members slaughtered for petty grievances. Thus they came to the idea of masks. Each of them would don a new identity on stage, kept separate from their real personas. These artists alone would not be drawn into the feuding of their masters. They would be neutral, entertainment their only task.

So began the Monster Dolls, and Eleanor took her place on stage once more.

Modern Nights

Tonight, the Monster Dolls are the city’s most well-known performance troupe, at least among the Damned. Their studio is located in Marigny, where one of them is thought to own a dance studio that serves as recruitment grounds for promising young artists to be snatched up by the city’s Kindred.

They use a combination of shadow dancing, prosthetics, makeup, and, in some cases, surgical alterations to obscure their identities. Over time their masks have become more and more elaborate, entire personas and works of art in their own right.

Though the dolls began as a dance troupe, over the decades they have branched out from their more traditional roots to bring in new forms of dance, acrobatics, and performance. In recent nights they have even added a singer, and they have their own in-house band (also masked, though not as elaborate). They combine the classical and traditional arts of ballet with Middle Eastern and Latin dance, as well as more contemporary forms (even hip-hop) that blend seamlessly to create masterpieces.

The dolls are careful to never perform anything that they deem “too political.” Their inspiration mostly stems from the classics, though they have also been known to perform completely original works.


The Dolls


zara.png Zara, The Storm Born

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Zara is not of this world. She was created when a storm crashed into the veil that separates the lands of the living from the lands of the dead, and sprang, fully formed, from the energies thus created. The storms themselves brought her to New Orleans, where she “follows the song of wind and rain, and lets thunder rule her steps.” Zara is one of the troupe’s strongest dancers and unofficial spokesperson, her specialty contemporary and traditional ballet.


serena.png Serena, Poseidon’s Gift

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Serena was born to the god of the sea. For eons she roamed the oceans with her sisters, who one by one fell to the human hands that worshiped them. Serena was caught in a fisherman’s net when she wandered too close to the boat; hauled onto land, she fell for the kindly man who took her in, and turned her back on the sea when she gave him her heart. For love, she performs. Serena, like the sirens of old, is a singer, though she also has a unique form of underwater dance and is known to be an escape artist.


mikhael.png Mikhael, Lord of the Abyss

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Legend says that when a soul shuffles off this mortal coil, some don’t go to Heaven or Hell, but a black realm of utter nothingness in between (or perhaps beneath). Things that go in don’t come out; everyone knows that. Except this thing. Mikhael is what crawled out of that abyss, a man made of shadows and nightmares. He is a strong soloist and performer who favors large, full body movements to show off his powerful physique.


fortuna.png Fortuna, Lion Heart

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Spry, nymph-like, and agile, Fortuna was an acrobat in the circus when a lion escaped from his cage and began to devour his handler. Fortuna intervened. She dove between the lion and his prey and was swallowed whole; while inside the beast she cut her way out with her teeth and ate his heart, absorbing the strength and speed of the great cat. Though she dances with the best of them, her true passion still lies in acrobatics.


echo.png Nyxenne, the Echo

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Fortuna’s twin brother, polar opposites in every way. He does not speak, and some say that he is mute, but wherever Fortuna goes her Echo is sure to make himself known. Dark where she is light, soft where she is hard, Nyxenne is a master of shadows and illusion. He mirrors his sister’s steps during their performances, no more than a shadow at her heels, and has never been known to partner with anyone else.


mavrosh.png Mavrosh, the Un-Summoned

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Mavrosh did not originate on this world. A careless sorcerer left a portal open when they sought to summon a demon from the depths of Hell, and Mavrosh slipped through. When the sorcerer sought to banish him back to his native dimension, Mavrosh broke the circle that the magician thought could bind him and cut clean through the mortal’s head with a swipe of his claws. His preferred performance style is contemporary and classical ballet.


huntress.png Deidre, the Huntress

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
They say that no mortal can stand against the might of Deidre’s arrows. A martial artist in life, Deidre stole immortality from an un-man made from writhing thorns and brambles; she bested him in single combat using just the string from her bow. Now she spends her days tracking down prey that have eluded other hunters, and is said to keep a collection of trophies from her kills. She has a strong background in classical dance.


dren.png Dren, the Sheriff in Town

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Dren was a gunslinger in an Old West town, a man of law where chaos reigned. It was Dren who kept the peace and ensured that those in his town would prosper. One night the saloon went up in flames and Dren dove in to save countless lives, though he was scarred from the experience. He still likes to whip out his pistols to make the bad guys “dance, fucker, dance,” and is otherwise flexible in terms of style.


calico2.png Calico, the Feral

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Calico grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, the byblow of a woman and a tiger. Though both his parents abandoned him for being neither one thing nor the other, Calico landed on his feet. The city was his playground, and he learned to dance for his dinner with the buskers and other street performers. Calico brought hip hop with him to New Orleans and is thought to be one of the founders of “bounce.”


bijoux.png Bijoux, the Bull

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Legend says that the Greek hero Theseus traveled to the center of the labyrinth to slay the minotaur. What they never mention is how the monster’s mother, Pasiphae, wept bitter tears over the loss of her child, or how the gods themselves were moved to pity by her grief. Where her tears mingled with the blood of the beast they crystallized, and from the crystals emerged Bijoux. His cloven hooves lend well to the jazz, tap, and stepping style of performance he prefers.


sina.png Sinafay, Sultan’s Treasure

Ghouled: Unknown
Status: Ghouls •••
Sinafay was a snake charmer plying her trade in the streets when a palace guard happened upon her using her body in a serpentine fashion to control the beast. Alarmed by the clear devil worship, the guard hard her arrested and charged with witchcraft, but the sultan himself was present at her would-be execution and ordered things to a halt when Sinafay began to dance. He was entranced within moments; he took her for his consort. Sinafay excels at Middle Eastern dance, including belly dance.


The Owners


The dolls’ Kindred domitors are unknown to the public at large.


Rumors


The following are a collection of speculation, hearsay, and the occasional fact about individual dolls.

• After her domitor’s death, Eleanor passed hands to Lord Savoy.
• After her domitor’s death, Eleanor passed hands to Sundown.
Katherine Beaumont brought a doll back with her from New York; that’s the real reason she fled home to New Orleans, because she stole some primogen’s favored ghoul.
• One of the dolls was once in service to a Lasombra who taught it Abyss Mysticism.
• Three of the dolls were classically trained at Julliard.
• The twins aren’t actually twins. They’re not even related.
• The twins are actually twins.
• One was picked up for trespassing and had their identity blown to the corresponding regent (which was the only thing that saved them).
• Dren is the sheriff‘s ghoul; that’s why he plays a sheriff.
• One of the dolls is not a ghoul at all, but a lick playing at performance.
• One of the dolls is not a ghoul at all, but a thin-blood that has infiltrated their society.
• Bijoux belongs to Jade Kalani; his name means “jewel,” after all. It’s not particularly clever.
• There used to be a monster that called himself “prince of nothing,” but after Katrina devastated the city no one thought it was funny.
• The dolls change stage identities after every performance.
• Years ago half the dolls were executed for overly political comments they made about the prince.
• Sundown knows the identities of all the dolls.
• One of the dolls had surgery to look more like their stage persona.
• Eleanor’s father is still performing with the troupe. They often partner during performances.
• Not a single one of the dolls perished during Katrina. They were among the first evacuated.
• Ghouls that are accepted into the group are jumped by the members; blood in, blood out.

The Monster Dolls

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