“Bargain not with the darkness: in time it will take us all.”
Saturday night, 20 February 2016, PM
GM: Mid-City’s dingier, lower-story buildings give way to coldly sleek high-rises and brutal skyscrapers. A few pings go up from Jen’s phone in the back seat.
Eventually, the car approaches a soaring black and gray steel monolith that surveys the city beneath it like a grim sentinel. Fearsome gargoyles jut from crenelations, baring their claws and fangs to the night sky with muted howls.
Driving into the underground parking garage is like descending into the belly of a great beast, past an iron-grilled jaw filled with checkpointed teeth. Armed, grim-faced, and black-uniformed security guards wave Coco’s car on through.
Amelie: Amelie watches the city go by. Now that things are so different, the city itself feels less alive in the sense of culture and life itself and simply more predatory. Every alleyway they pass makes her itch at the absence of a weapon, and she wonders who might attack the car. But she tries to relax and goes through old words and political battles in her head, wondering if there is something applicable here. But most of the instances she can think of illegal bastards being brought before royalty result in exile or death.
They arrive at the castle unmolested however, and she keeps her hands tightly gripped in front of her.
GM: Coco and Jen get out. They’re met by two waiting Kindred. The first is a tall, broad-shouldered, and powerfully muscled man who looks a few years older than Amelie. His face might be passably handsome if he was smiling. He isn’t. He wears a loose jacket, cargo pants, and baseball cap, all in dark colors, and heavy work boots. Gold glints from his rings, watch, and necklace with a tiny spear or lance.
“Coco,” the vampire nods.
“Wright,” she answers.
Rocco: The vampire next to him is shorter and slimmer in comparison, and looks no older than Amelie. He is wearing a maroon v-neck shirt, black jeans, and white Adidas shoes. His hair is dark brown, wavy, sitting atop a boyish and angelic face. A devilish half-smile appears on the young man’s face as he greets Coco, though.
“It’s good to see you, Primogen Duquette,” he addresses her more formally, albeit there is a glint of playfulness in his brown, piercing eyes.
GM: “Hound Agnello. Seems we’re receiving quite the honor guard,” the Brujah primogen remarks as she strolls towards the elevator.
“Caught us both leavin’,” says Wright. He glances at the still-masked Amelie. “Who’s he?”
Amelie: Even as they approach two other Kindred on the way there. Both looking in quite better condition than she, and putting another nail in her coffin. ‘Him’ despite wearing heels and a fucking peacoat. Still, she gives a small nod of deference to the two men Coco deigns to call ‘honor guards.’
“Good evening. I’m Amelie Savard, here to be presented to the seneschal.”
Rocco: An amused twinkle appears in Hound Agnello’s eyes, and he studies Amelie Savard with unabashed openness. A grin cracks his features. “Good evening, Miss Savard,” he replies, deducing Amelie’s gender. “I am Hound Agnello. Good luck with your presentation.”
GM: “Ditch the mask,” Wright grunts as he pushes the button for an elevator.
Rocco: He turns back to Wright. “You can go on ahead, Hound Wright,” he says, looking back to Coco and Amelie with a welcoming expression. “I can escort the primogen and her charge up to see the seneschal on my own.”
Amelie: Amelie gives the House Agnello a light bow, and reaches up to pull the handkerchief away from her face as asked. Revealing more than a bit of battle damage from her good old gunshot to the face.
GM: “Holy fuck you’re ugly,” Wright says.
Rocco: The angelic fiend simply takes in Amelie’s visage with the same neutral smile, and speaks easily. “I suggest healing at the earliest convenience for the Masquerade.”
He looks back up to Coco. “No doubt the good primogen has already suggested the same, of course.”
Amelie: “Thank you, Hound Agnello. The damage however will take awhile to smooth over. Until then, so stood the point of the mask.”
Rocco: He nods, making no further comment.
GM: “She’s one of ours. Sireless, if either of you are in the market to adopt,” Coco says.
“Huh. Guess we’ll turn fuckin’ anyone these nights,” replies Wright.
Rocco: Rocco simply laughs.
Amelie: Amelie looks to Wright as well, looking to his necklace a moment, before letting out a small smile at Wright’s put down.
“I’m a real catch on the inside, promise.”
Rocco: Rocco, taking in the self-deprecating remark, regards the fledgling for a small moment with a smirk.
GM: Wright doesn’t quite laugh. The sound resembles one, but the lack of accompanying smile gives it an odd effect.
“I bet you are. That coat looks like somethin’ you nabbed off an FAO Schwarz doorman.”
Amelie: Amelie notices and gives him a small smile back.
“It’s from a Malveaux. Way I see it, you have to look like an ass to take it up the ass.”
Looking to the both of them, she gets a small realization in the back of her head.
“If I do survive tonight, by the way, and either of you need anything built or fixed, I’d be honored if you called on me. If it’s made I can make it.”
GM: Wright openly guffaws as Amelie says ‘Malveaux’ and looks at Coco. “You’re fuckin’ kidding me.”
Rocco: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Miss Malveaux wear anything like that,” the hound muses to himself.
GM: “Dead serious,” Coco says.
“Oh, boy,” Wright answers.
The elevator doors ding and open.
“A’ight, later,” he says, exchanging a fist bump with Coco before heading towards a parked black Esplanade.
Rocco: “Ladies first,” the hound says, indicating for the pair to enter.
GM: “Age before beauty,” Coco retorts as she steps inside.
Amelie: Amelie senses a bit of bad blood towards Caroline, and logs it away for later.
“Good night, House Wright,” Amelie offers, going where she is lead.
Jen files in last. The elevator travels up.
Rocco: Rocco chuckles at Coco’s remark, but ultimately falls silent as the group finally ascends the monolithic tower.
GM: After a moderate wait, the doors ding open, revealing an expansive reception area. The minimally decorated room is dominated by sterile grays and blacks. Letters on a wide steel plaque behind the receptionist’s granite desk coldly spell out ‘Centurion Investment Group.’ Apart from a lone receptionist, who smells like a ghoul to Amelie, the room is bereft of any further presences save the unblinking security cameras’.
The three get into another adjacent elevator. Rocco swipes a keycard for a higher floor. The floor under them travels up.
Rocco: As the group continue to travel up, the hound breaks the silence. “You said you could build or fix anything before, Miss Savard,” he says as he regards the fledgling. “What did you mean by anything?”
Amelie: Amelie perks up a bit at the question, wondering how she should answer it.
“I’m a blacksmith. So I create my own parts and tools. I’ve experience with cars, antique restoration, chemistry, and quite a few other fields as well. I grew up in a community in the middle of being built, surrounded by artisans. Though my main passion is as an armorer.”
Rocco: The hound seems intrigued by the mention of the word ‘artisans’. “What does being an armorer entail?” he asks, looking interested.
Amelie: “Arms and armor. Their research, refining, and production. I’m considered a master. My commissions used to go up to thousands of USD.”
Rocco: The hound appears to give her a skeptical albeit impressed look upon hearing that claim.
Amelie: “If you have a cellphone, you could look me up, if you want to verify it. I have only one of my pieces in this country, and it’s not in my possession.”
Rocco: “Okay. You have my interest, Miss Savard,” Rocco declares, pulling out a black smartphone from his pocket. He offers it for Amelie to take.
Amelie: Amelie gently takes it and it only takes her a few moments to bring up a Facebook page, all in French, of a place called Biccoline.
She points out a post from roughly a year and a half ago saying goodbye to master armorers Amelie and Felix Savard, before opening a gallery of photos for him to flip through.
The Amelie Savard of the past is big, shown in pictures handing steel bare handed while the other end glows white hot, thick arms swinging hammers. There’s pictures of walls of assorted weapons, of a sweaty Amelie kneeling with a sword taller than herself and looking right pissed as she wraps the handle in strips of leather. Others show her in full armor besides a helmet, showing off full suits, or looking like she’s taking part in mock battles. In many pictures she looks tired, coated in sweat, or dipped in soot and grease.
A man who seems to be the strong girl’s father is… a bit shaggier. He wears a huge braided beard and wears only ren-fair clothes. He looks none too involved in his child’s work. But the pictures roll back in time, and shows the duo bent over paintings, hauling lumber, one ridiculous picture of an Amelie with hair down to her thighs in a braid on top of a carriage with a hammer.
Rocco: Notably, Rocco has trouble flipping through the images when Amelie tries to direct the hound. He frowns and looks a little agitated, but manages to do so albeit a little clumsily.
“You look different,” he observes, taking in the pictures.
GM: Coco shows him how to do it.
“Hold down your finger and pull it across the phone’s surface, like this.”
Rocco: He thanks her, quietly.
Amelie: Amelie nods with a small sigh.
“I was struck by an entity while alive, much before my Embrace. It put me into a coma. But I will look like this again someday.”
Amelie gives a thankful nod to Coco as well, and narrates some of the more important pictures to her as they go along. Especially her best projects and how much they sold for.
Rocco: He glances at Coco, but continues to listen to Amelie.
“I’m impressed. What do you think, Primogen Duquette?”
GM: “They’re good work. There’s an eye for detail,” Coco concurs. The elder Brujah has otherwise been apparently content to watch over the pair’s shoulders without comment.
“It’s always telling how the kine try to recapture the past.”
Amelie: “I was raised on stories of the past. I’ve admitted to Coco, and I will admit to you, Hound Agnello, that I find myself excited to be a Kindred. Gifting an elder weapons and armour from their time periods would validate all my work and study.”
She pauses on a strange curved sword, with a thicker bit at the end, smiling wide.
“Ah, there’s my favorite. I could never sell it. I painstakingly recreated an Ottoman Killij from the time period Vlad the Impaler was prince of Wallachia.”
Rocco: Rocco frowns at that comment, but doesn’t say anything for a moment. They are all Damned. There is nothing to be excited about in this new ‘life’. “This is all well and good, Miss Savard,” he says, “but how are you with computers?”
Amelie: “I’m passable. I ran the storefront and social media for years, and grew up around them. They’re second nature to me as much as anyone of my generation.”
Rocco: The hound nods, looking up from his phone as he finally pockets it.
GM: “Good answer,” Coco remarks with some amusement.
Amelie: She finds herself slightly confused by Coco’s quip, but nods. “As for building and repairing them, I can do the hardware just fine, but would need to outsource for software issues.”
Rocco: Rocco looks a little blank-faced at that answer, but continues to nod as if in understanding.
Amelie: Amelie gives him an understanding smile.
“If you ever require any small favor regarding computer, Hound Agnello, I will give you my phone number. If I survive this interview.”
GM: “‘Judgment’ is the word you might be looking for,” Coco remarks.
Rocco: “Primogen Duquette is correct.”
Amelie: “And I stand corrected. My apologies.”
GM: The elevator doors ding and open.
Rocco: The hound smiles at that answer, and leads the way out of the elevator.
GM: Rocco leads the four down a cold and empty hallway lined with rows of featureless wooden doors. Cavernous windows overlook the CBD’s sprawling cityscape below.
Rocco: “You’re still new to the Blood, Miss Savard, but your contrition will serve you well in this unlife.”
Amelie: Amelie follows, wringing her gloved hands slowly, watching out the windows as they go.
“Thank you, Hound Agnello. Is there any special manners I should adopt with sir seneschal?”
GM: “Don’t call him ‘sir seneschal,’” says Coco.
Rocco: Rocco cringes in agreement.
“Seneschal Maldonato will likely appreciate you all the more if you refrain from asking any questions unless he specifically gives you leave to,” the hound suggests, continuing with, “and when you speak to him or answer his questions, make sure you are detailed but remain on topic. I also suggest listening to and taking in whatever wisdom he deigns to share with genuine interest. The rest is simple courtesy.”
Amelie: Amelie nods along with his advice. Do not speak until spoken to, do not ask questions without permission. Seneschal Maldonato is very wise, as well. She hopes this bodes well for her.
“Such as you’ve shown to me, Hound Agnello. Thank you. I will take your advice to heart. If he is wise, I look forward all the more to meeting with him.”
She almost says that last bit to herself, the hallway feeling longer and longer as they proceed down it.
“Thank you, as well, to both of you. You’ve both shown me a great deal of kindness. I look forward to repaying it.”
GM: “All kindness comes with a price tag,” Coco agrees.
Rocco: Rocco chuckles.
Amelie: Amelie makes no comment and simply looks out the window as she has been. With a start, she spots it, moving closer to the wall away from the windows and averting her eyes now. She hopes the room she’ll be judged in doesn’t have such a view. Saying nothing. She can almost feel its eyes on her.
GM: The dome looms silently in the distance. No motion disturbs its smooth, lit-up surface. Not like last time. Amelie can make out ant-like figures of people on the street. Cars, too. There are so many of them, all clustered around the glowing lights at the structure’s base.
Neither Coco nor Rocco spare it a second glance.
Amelie: She hates it. Amelie cannot look at the dome without feeling at least a fraction of the horror presented to her while she was still alive, clawing through a ruined City of Dis, fearing the hammer of some unknown angel or devil to use her soul as a nail to keep it’s horrific tower standing. The people around it don’t know what it really is, and she hopes to God that Coco and Hound Agnello do not either. She remains quiet if not spoken to for the remainder of the walk, looking off to the side and trying not to catch the cursed place in her periphery.
GM: The four’s walk finally comes to an end as Rocco raps his knuckles against a door.
“Enter,” bids a male voice.
The office the hound admits Amelie into has little in common with the rest of the skyscraper’s barren corporate decor.
A silver lance set over a wooden crucifix-like support is mounted near the top of the wall opposite the door. It looks similar to the lance that Wright wore around his neck, but the fanged skull fashioned into the top portion is more clearly visible. The lance rests over a cross-shaped bed of smaller skulls, none of which possess canines.
The room’s wall paneling is a dark and somber brown wood interspersed with tall, full bookshelves. A bonsai weeping willow and cherry tree rest between several of them, along with intricately patterned blue, white, and gold Islamic and Chinese vases. Two paintings are visible between the shelves of books.
Amelie does not speak Arabic herself, but she recognizes the characters from other Islamic works: “La ghaliba illallah,” or “Only God obtains victory,” repeated twice.
A Victorian oak desk with Green Man and floral relief carvings sits directly beneath the lance. Its contents consist of a lamp, desk phone, several trays of papers, and an old-fashioned globe with predominately bronze and tan rather than blue coloration. There is no computer.
The sole figure seated behind the desk and slender and exceedingly tall vampire who looks around a head taller than most men. His skin is dusky and smooth, with only a hint of wrinkles from age round his deep-set almond eyes. He wears a double-breasted navy business suit with a black tie and white handkerchief in the front pocket. A silver pocketwatch on an attached chain and cufflinks of the same material offer several further concessions to the past. A gold signet ring set with a sapphire and traced with Arabic script rests upon one of his long, slender fingers.
The vampire rises from his seat as Coco enters the room.
“Seneschal,” she greets him.
“Primogen,” he answers.
Rocco offers a short bow.
“It’s been a little,” Coco remarks as she sits down in one of the chairs across from the desk.
Amelie: Amelie quickly bows as well, dipping lower than Rocco and holding it for a moment more. She doesn’t take her eyes off the floor, as well, waiting to be addressed. It’s difficult with how beautiful the room is.
GM: The seneschal inclines his head at this statement as he resumes his own seat.
“Please seat yourselves,” he indicates to the still-standing Rocco and Amelie.
Amelie: Amelie gives another shorter bow and walks to her seat, taking the one next to Coco and folding her hand sin her lap. She stays silent for now, looking up to the seneschal.
GM: “Ruby’s teaching at Delgado,” Coco says.
“I am afraid that little of my time has been my own of late, primogen. Perhaps Mr. Bornemann may yet join her,” Maldonato answers.
“I’d supposed so. Invite’s open.”
“A noteworthy choice of institution. It has been some time since she taught at Tulane.”
“I think it’s more informative to have one’s finger on the pulse of the sorts of students who attend community colleges right now. Although only just. The people at Tulane are also worth keeping an eye on. We live in interesting times.”
Maldonato inclines his head again at this statement.
“But so far as why we’re here,” Coco says. “Go on and introduce yourself, Amelie.”
Amelie: Amelie listens closely to the conversation, but finds herself sneaking glances at the wonderful desk, art, and other pieces around the room. It’s been too long since she has been able to enjoy looking at anything tasteful.
But she’s on the ball immediately when she is introduced, giving the seneschal a small bow.
“I am Amelie Savard, Seneschal Maldonato. Thank you for taking the time to see me. It is an honor to finally meet you.”
GM: “You are welcome, Miss Savard,” the tall vampire answers. “Hound Agnello, is there business you wished to bring before me?”
“I am considering taking Miss Savard as my charge, Your Grace,” the hound answers. “I had hoped to observe her conduct towards you before deciding.”
“A potentially efficacious litmus of character, Hound Agnello, but Miss Savard and I may be here for some time. Sheriff Donovan has informed me that his plans for the hounds this evening permit only a small allowance of their own,” Maldonato states.
Rocco bows his head. “Of course, Your Grace. By your leave?”
“May God go with you,” the seneschal bids.
Rocco rises from his seat. “Primogen Duquette,” he nods.
“See you around, hound.”
The hound exits the room and offers another inclination of his head to the two older Kindred as he closes the door.
Amelie: Amelie looks surprised when House Agnello says he’s considering basically adopting her. It’s an incredible thought. He seems to be in good standing.
She’s disappointed when he goes to leave but gives him a small bow as well.
“Please have a pleasant night, Hound Agnello.”
GM: “You are fortunate that another Kindred is willing to consider accepting responsibility for your existence, childe,” Maldonato states. “Please relay the circumstances of your Embrace and subsequent activities to me.”
Amelie: Amelie nods respectfully to the seneschal, and takes the hounds advice in matters of answering questions to the elder Kindred.
She stays on topic, detailing her waking in the morgue, who and where she attacked. What she took, what evidence she left behind, along with her escape. What route she took, briefly explaining it was to avoid as many humans as possible. Her encounter with police and their exact reaction to her escaping from them.
GM: Just as Coco did, and just as Autumn before her, Maldonato interrupts Amelie’s narrative in the morgue to request that she detail the circumstances which led to her being there.
Amelie: Amelie cringes slightly at her mistake, and rewinds as he asks immediately. She is succinct in her descriptions. The trip to LaLaurie, Tantsy’s warning after her conversation with Father Malveaux, her going anyway thinking she could protect the others. The attack from the entity that sent her into a coma, as the cause of her pathetic form. The false charges due to the fury of the Devillers and Whitney families for actions of a police officer, and immediate imprisonment in the male ward of OPP. And finally, her subsequent death after being assaulted by the two inmates.
And of course, everything that happened in Algiers. Her stride, however, is halted by a snap of the leash around her neck. Caroline’s face pops into her head, and it feels like piano wire wrap around her cold unbeating heart. Her gloved hands grip each other tight at the taste of betrayal. She looks up at the seneschal and the aura of power emanating from him. Then to Coco, the cool casual ice that that rolls off her like smoke. It feels like she’s being pulled in half.
It hurts. Hurts like betraying her father, seeing a scar across his face every day while wiping the vomit from his beard. Were she alive, she would sweat. She clears her throat, and slides the gloves from her hands, posing a small polite ‘excuse me’. She feels hands trembling as she metaphorically claws at the collar, as her thin hand clamps around her wrist, clawing into dead flesh. It’s an uphill struggle, punctuated with forcing herself to curate the memory of the soft kindnesses of Caroline Malveaux with Coco’s words on the collar. With the crushing reality of her situation in her judgement. Caroline wouldn’t abandon her like this. The boons are just to keep her around. Aren’t they? It feels like bile should be rising in her throat as she continues speaking, meeting the horrific throbbing sickening pain in her chest with the very real pain of nail on skin.
It is barely enough. Just barely. If not for this being a great judgement, if not for Coco’s presence to give her a sickening reminder that her the feelings are not REAL, she knows the desperate hoping of a crushing loneliness in her chest would push her to lie to protect a rare angel in her existence.
She starts back up, shakily, with her encounter in the gas station. Their encounter with Nathaniel Blanch and her dear relief that a blood cost was a clear way to repay her debt to him for her transgression. And finally, her stint as Caroline’s ward, and their investigation and failure to track a loose end in Dr. Wilson due to the sudden attack on her and Caroline’s decision to have her kept for the day. She does so in as much detail as she can without getting off-topic, and falls silent at the end for a moment, trying to remember any detail she’s left out before nodding. It’s everything she’s already told. She dares not leave out any details from the seneschal.
“Apologies for the length, Seneschal Maldonato. That is my entire catalog of the events to the best of my memory.”
GM: Maldonato patiently listens to Amelie’s version of events without further questioning. He does, however, briefly request that she pause her narrative while he picks up the phone and dials an individual whom he addresses as “Bishop Malveaux.” He requests that the father join them before bidding Amelie to resume her tale.
Amelie: While she is asked to stop, Amelie keeps her mouth shut tight, looking down and letting him speak to someone else. She spends the few moments tracing the reliefs of the desk with her eye, noting all the details of the oak. It’s beautiful. Obviously well-restored and kept. But the decoration in the room makes her wonder how old the seneschal is. It feels too easy to assume him a Moor. Especially with his surname having Spanish roots. Not pleasant Spanish roots, but Spanish roots nonetheless. The Moors and the Spanish weren’t known for being friendly with each other.
GM: She is nearly finished when a knock raps against the door.
“Enter,” Maldonato invites.
The individual who enters is clad in a priest’s plain black habit, but trimmed with red at the edges, and walks with a slender black cane that almost resembles a shepherd’s crook. A silver ring set with a ruby rests on one of his fingers. He is notably shorter than Amelie, but cadaverously thin like she is, with stick-like scarecrow’s limbs. His skin is so pale she’d think he poured flour over it, and his short, slicked-back hair is similarly white. His eyes are an unhealthy reddish-pink. His nose is just a little large, his features just a little off: an albino. His exact age is difficult to pinpoint. But Amelie can scent that he, too, is… Kindred.
“Your Grace,” he bows.
“Primogen.” He inclines his head.
“Hello, Your Excellency.”
Maldonato motions. The pallid vampire seats himself as Amelie finishes her story.
Amelie: The introduction of a figure even more physically pathetic than her draws her attention for a moment. She stops her story for just a moment to give the man a small respectful bow as he comes to sit, before going back to the story so as not to waste the seneschal’s time.
GM: “Retrieve the chalice and proffer your wrist over it,” the albino vampire orders Amelie when she is finished.
Amelie: Amelie bows lightly and carefully stands up, leaving her gloves on the seat and walking to retrieve the chalice that’s been sitting by the willow bonsai tree even since she has stepped into the room. She brings it to Father Malveaux, undoing the buttons of her peacoat and leaving the right side of her white blouse exposed, pulling back the sleeve. She carefully kneels to his side, holding her wrist just above the chalice and over his lap where he has ease of access. Gritting her teeth all the while. She’s already got a pretty good idea what goes into the chalice. It’s always blood with their kind, she’s starting to realize.
GM: The chalice is made of gold and resembles a traditional eucharist chalice, but with four tiny, spear-like points around its rim. A tiny relief depicts a dark figure stabbing a crucified Jesus’ flank with a lance.
The vampire addressed as ‘Bishop Malveaux’ produces a small ceremonial-looking knife from the folds of his robe and slashes it across Amelie’s wrist.
He waits as blood pools into the cup, then draws his blade over Amelie’s already cut and bleeding wrist a second time. It hurts.
Amelie: Amelie looks at the albino a bit closer as she kneels next to him, as though searching his face. She remembers Caroline’s words, that there are many ‘Father Malveaues.’ In New Orleans at least that proves to be correct. This is surely not the kind cousin in that hall of ghosts. His skin’s as white as Nathaniel Blanch’s was. Whether this is albinism or a shared trait of the truly ancient she doesn’t know. But she does know that the name wouldn’t have gone all the way back to the Gauls. Either way, it’s markedly strange to see a long-dead relative to people she has seen alive. Unsettling, almost.
Her eye is quickly drawn to his hands as he produces the knife, and her teeth grit harder when she realizes its intent. She knows this song and dance. The scar on the hand holding the chalice knows it all too well. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. The slash wakes every other hurt she’s had roiling in the background since she woke up this night, like an electric current through her body waking up everything wrong. But she grits and bears it like so many other pains she’s woken to. She even thanks it for the sudden surge of life she can feel through her bones. But most of all, she holds it there, and buries her face into the crook of her arm to cope with the hurt and leave it to drain.
But… it hurts. It hurts, and her form is so weak. It hurts and she has already endured enough. The sudden and careless slash across Amelie’s wrist, and the THEFT of her precious precious blood feels as though a foot has stepped past the line, intruded into her corner. The poor neophyte watches as the world spins away from her control in a vortex or RED and HATE as the cowardly parasite hijacks her senses and lunges at the form sitting before her. Teeth gnash towards the first arm she’s seeen that’s thinner than hers. It’s prey she can easily take down, says the Beast. Prey that can slake the thirst they forced onto her. Amelie’s body snarls and gnashes down at Bishop Malveaux’s wrist in a blind fury.
GM: The fury rocks through Amelie’s emaciated body like a burning geyser, incinerating all rational thought in its path.
When the red haze clears, there’s an iron pressure clamped around her neck, and her face is pressed flat against the surface of Maldonato’s oak desk.
“Do you thirst, rabble?” rasps Father Malveaux.
The priest is sitting a short distance away with the same knife in hand.
Amelie: Amelie blinks as the haze clears. It’s jarring, suddenly being in a new position, and she slowly registers the feeling of being pressed into the desk. Her eyes darting immediately to Bishop Malveaux in wide horrific regret and worry, going over him a moment before seeing him unharmed. The look transitions harshly into one of pure regret. She’s nearly not only struck a man of the cloth, but struck an advisor of a powerful man judging her very existence.
There’s something else as well, she doesn’t take her eyes off of the priest but the desk feels slightly cooler to the touch than it should. As if there is moisture underneath a sealant. This poor poor desk.
“I’m so incredibly sorry, Your Excellency! Yes. I’m very injured and thirsty, I beg your forgiveness. Thank you for restraining me.”
GM: “Then may your thirst be sated,” the priest hisses.
Amelie feels a bleeding wrist pressed to her mouth.
Amelie: Smell and taste both hit Amelie at the same time, and violently. She doesn’t know if she can refuse, what’s more she decides after only a token hesitation she doesn’t want to. Opening her mouth, she gently clamps her teeth along the priest’s wrist and takes in the leaking blood, shuddering at the taste. It tastes like power. Like millions of vibrating reactions inside a tiny droplet of something that can explode on demand, and it’s all hers for the moment.
She drinks what he allows, almost desperate to not let a drop slip as she digs her nails into the carpet, trying to contain a voice threatening to humiliate her at the feet of this skeletal man.
GM: The priest’s blood is rich and thick on Amelie’s tongue, yet somehow reticent. There’s a bitter aftertaste like dust or ash, and the somber tonalities of a Gregorian chant almost seem to reverberate at the edge of her hearing.
“You may thank your primogen for restraining you,” Bishop Malveaux rasps.
Amelie: Amelie is surprised with herself that the blood carries so many hints to it. She’s been in such a flurry of late, she’s never really paused to consider it. But Bishop Malveaux’s blood echoes. It simply echoes inside of her. At the mention of who held her, her eyes flick up to Coco’s in gratitude.
“Thank you, Primogen Duquette. Dearly.”
She very slowly picks herself back up, looking to see if she’s spilled the chalice and needs to be drained again.
GM: Somewhat remarkably, the chalice does not appear to have lost any of its sanguine contents.
“Further lapses of control will not be dealt with so leniently, Miss Savard,” Maldonato states. The seneschal’s tone is mild despite his words, but the stare Coco gives Amelie is not. “You may resume your seat. Your Excellency, please continue your prayer.”
“Of course, Your Grace.”
Bishop Malveaux closes his pinkish eyes, clasps his skeletal hands over the chalice, and intones a deep and sonorous prayer in Latin to a string of figures, including “the Dark Prophet,” “Amoniel,” “the Dark Apostles” and “St. Micah.”
Amelie: Amelie resumes her seat as she’d bid to, and gives Coco another apologetic look before clasping her hands onto her lap and keeping eyes there, waiting for the prayer to conclude.
GM: A ripple spreads through Amelie’s pooled blood, and then a flashing current of images, as though glimpsed through a tinted and blood-stained mirror.
Figures with burning eyes and gleaming fangs, too brief and too dark to ascertain the features of. Whispers sound from the chalice, too soft to ascertain the words of.
The bishop’s eyes suddenly snap open. The prayer dies. The chalice’s bloody currents still.
Silence stretches the still air.
Then, “This information is unsuitable for her ears, seneschal,” Bishop Malveaux rasps.
“Please wait outside the door, Miss Savard,” Maldonato requests.
Amelie: Amelie keeps her seat. Even when the images come up. Even when the whispers are here. It sends a shock of anxiety up her spine that borders on fear, and extends past and into fear itself as she’s asked to leave the room. But she doesn’t argue. She stands and bows lightly to the group, before excusing herself out of the door. Posting a few feet away and with her forehead against the wall, not willing to look out the window again.
She wonders if this means she’s different. If fate will have an execution today. If her fears aren’t mis-placed, and she is indeed not a ‘Kindred’, but instead a demon in costume that a prayer has revealed.
Amelie just keeps her head against the wall, muttering a prayer that her existence not be snuffed out again while ancient beings decide her fate.
GM: The corridor outside of Maldonato’s office remains bare and empty except for Jen. The ghoul is leaning against the wall, but stuffs a phone in her pocket and stands up straight when she sees the door open.
Amelie: Amelie just gives her a small nod, and muttered ‘Sorry’ on her way out, facing away from the window.
“Coco will be a small while, I think.”
GM: Jen leans back against the wall and pulls her phone out when Amelie closes the door.
“It’s already been a small while, but thanks for the status update.”
Time passes as Amelie mouths her own prayer.
Then, “I’m sure you have a lot of questions about a lot of things right now. Maybe I can help.”
Amelie: Amelie looks to Jen as she speaks the first time, nodding simply and leaving her to her phone. But the later offer is a small surprise. She looks up at Jen a moment and nods lightly. It’s a welcome distraction from her impending second death.
“I’d like that. Thank you. I’ve been wondering about a lot. Like… does Coco have her own faction? She said we were all equal in Mid-City, but that sounds like she meant only Mid-City.”
GM: “That’s a bit of a longer answer,” Jen says. “Trade me a hit of your juice, and I’ll answer most anything you want to know until they send for you again.”
Amelie: Juice. That word has been used by Coco before, she assumes now to refer to blood. And after Caroline’s talk, it makes sense she would want some of Amelie’s.
“I’m running on fumes myself, unfortunately. I had a close encounter with something with lots of teeth and claws. Don’t suppose you do IOUs, huh?”
GM: Jen shakes her head, then seems to think. “You have any collateral I could hang onto?”
Amelie: Amelie looks herself over and chuckles a bit.
“You want a rib? Oh, wait. How about this, or even the cash I got.”
The young corpse slides a phone out of her pocket and shows it to her.
GM: Jen looks it over. “The cash is probably better. How much do you have?”
Amelie: Amelie shows off the bills.
GM: “All right. Hand that over and you can have it back once you have more juice.”
Amelie: Amelie doesn’t know whether she’s going to survive the next hour or not. It’s not a great deal, but it’s a deal. She walks up to Jen and puts cash in hand.
“So… tell me about the ‘licks’ in this city.” She wants to say ‘vampires’, but that’s the word Coco used. “Coco said she was an Anarch. What’s the rundown on them? Are there any other groups?”
GM: Jen sticks the ten Andrew Jacksons into a wallet, then answers,
“Coco’s part of the Anarch Movement. They believe, in short, in inherent equality between all Kindred. They want to democratize the all-night society’s politics and reform its culture by bringing both into the 21st century.”
“Mid-City is Anarch territory. They call the shots there.”
Amelie: “Do the Anarchs have to pay respect to the Lance because the ‘prince’ is one? Or are they completely separate?”
GM: “What do you mean by ‘respect’?” Jen asks.
Amelie: Amelie motions to the nearby office door.
“Do they get a say in what the Anarchs do, mostly. Does what they say go?”
GM: Jen nods. “New Orleans is a Sanctified city, so the prince is the final law on things. But the Anarchs take care of Mid-City’s local concerns. A close analogy might be a county government that’s run by a different political party than the state government.”
Amelie: “That’s how things work in Canada, so… perfect,” she muses. “Are there any groups besides the Sanctified and the Anarchs?”
GM: “There’s the Crones, the Invictus, the Tremere, the Ordo Dracul, and a couple weirder ones,” Jen ticks off.
Amelie: Amelie nods. There are a few weird names in there.
“Dracul? Like… Dracula?”
GM: “That’s what they say,” the ghoul nods.
Amelie: Amelie remembers talking about Dracula earlier today. It has her curious.
“What are they all about? Shoving people on flag poles?”
GM: “If they are, they haven’t done it here, at least that I know about. There’s not really that many in New Orleans. It’s Houston that’s supposed to have a ton of them.”
Amelie: It really doesn’t answer her question, but the historian in her wants to dig deeper.
“What do they do then? If Anarchs want to bring the species into the 21st century, what’s the Ordo Dracul’s goal?”
GM: Jen shrugs. “I think worship Dracula, as the biggest and baddest of all licks, and to try to overcome their weaknesses and limitations. Honestly, I don’t know that much about them.”
Amelie: “If there’s only a few of them, you probably couldn’t name any, huh? Vlad the Impaler being an actual vampire kinda has me wanting to know more.”
GM: “There’s one I might be able to,” Jen says thoughtfully. “That’s definitely another hit, at least, to introduce you.”
Amelie: “So far as to introduce? Hell, if I survive tonight I have a feeling I’ll be filling pitchers for you eventually.”
GM: “I’ll keep my fingers crossed then.”
Amelie: “Let’s move on before I get called in though. What about the ‘Crones’. Like… Baba Yaga crones?”
GM: Jen gives Amelie a bit of an odd look, then says, “Here they’re Vodouisants. They and the Sanctified don’t really get along.”
Amelie: “I imagine not, Catholics and pagans rarely do. I didn’t think there were that many real Vodouisants left in New Orleans, though. There’s enough to have their own group?”
GM: “Things are different with the licks. And if vampires can be real, well, why not Vodoun?”
Amelie: Amelie nods and taps her fingers along her jaw, wondering if that means the other groups have many more ‘older’ vampires.
“Who was left… the Invictus and the Tremere?”
GM: “The Invictus are essentially the 1%. Wall Street, multinational corporations, Southern aristocracy, and the Mafia all rolled into one.”
Amelie: “Gross,” she mutters.
GM: “The Tremere are wizards who practice black magic. Their elders are supposed to own their souls. There’s not that many of them either.”
Amelie: Amelie nods lightly. It sounds like that’s a rundown of the ‘major players’ in the political theater. The Sanctified as the ruling body, its enemy in the Crones, and those scattered in between.
“Not that many Tremere either. Are the Tremere allied with the prince, or are the wizards just too dangerous? I have a hard time seeing black magic being well regarded by ‘the church.’”
GM: “The prince tolerates the Tremere, because I guess persecuting them would just drive them underground. If you legalize it you can regulate it. He doesn’t trust them, though. No one does.”
Amelie: Amelie nods and keeps tapping along her jaw.
“Then who would you suggest going to ask about ghosts… the Crones or the Tremere?”
GM: Jen gives Amelie another odd look before repeating, “No one trusts the Tremere. There’s a few Anarchs who know about ghosts. Some Sanctified too.”
Amelie: Amelie slowly looks towards the window, and the damned Superdome. It sends shivers up her spine.
“I’ll start with the Anarchs then. I’ve got… a lot of questions about that shit.”
GM: “Well, be prepared to pay up for that too. Nothing’s free in the masked city.”
Amelie: “I might have information to trade there. Maybe. About the Anarchs… you guys have any handy-men? Anyone who fixes and makes gear or houses or cars or anything?”
GM: Jen shakes her head. “Not really any dedicated ones. I mean, I’m sure there’s licks who know how to do that stuff, but none who really advertise it.”
Amelie: Amelie cocks a brow slightly at Jen. “Sore spot with you or something, there?”
GM: “Sorry?” the ghoul asks.
Amelie: “Feels like you’re holding something back, is all. I won’t pry if it’s a touchy subject, but I want to know what I can do for the Anarchs.”
GM: “There’s things I shouldn’t go into without Coco around,” Jen simply says. “But if you’re a handywoman, there’s definitely a lot that you could have to offer them. Just off-hand, every lick needs to sleep somewhere light-proof if they don’t want to be brightening sunsets when they wake up.”
“I’m sure you’d know how to finagle that if you’re any good with home repairs. Most licks have a lot of other ‘nonstandard’ modifications they like to make to buildings.”
“Anarchs tend to be young too, compared to licks from other clubs, and to care more about cars and other ‘new’ forms of technology.”
Amelie: “I understand. Consider it dropped. But those all sound like easy jobs. Push comes to shove, I know materials that could make emergency sun-proof sleeping bags. I can do a lot of things with cars too, but mostly I’m good at repair and making metal parts. If you mean they want kit work, I’d have to make connections at a body shop. But… good tips. I hope I’ll have no shortage of work.”
GM: Jen nods. “You’ll have plenty among the Anarchs. Coco could make a few calls.”
“Plenty among your clan too, come to think.” The ghoul smiles faintly. “You hellenes tend to break a lot of things.”
Amelie: Amelie nods slightly, remembering Coco and her handling of such an easy slip. Her face went right into the desk.
“Hellenes. It’s assumed that our clan has Greek roots, then?”
GM: “The clan draws a fair bit of its culture from classical Greece, or at least the older generations do,” Jen nods. “Coco had me read a decent amount of Aristotle when I started working for her.”
Amelie: Amelie mentally sighs at the thought. She’s read a lot of Greek… everything.
“If my clan is Greek, maybe that makes me New Orleans’ Hephaestus. But I’m stuck on something you said. There being vampires in Austin. Are they ‘everywhere’? Like… Quebec City? Montreal?”
GM: Jen nods. “Where you find breathers, you find licks. They tend to stick to cities, since that’s where the juice is.”
“I said there were licks in Houston, but I suppose you’d find them in Austin and Canada too.”
Amelie: “Ah, sorry. That’s… a lot of vampires though.” It’s not a comforting thought, even if she’s now one of them. “How haven’t they figured us out?”
GM: “It’s called the Masquerade. The Cam covers the existence of Kindred completely up. Anyone who sees or suspects vampires are real gets silenced—however we have to do it. The lick responsible for that oops gets staked and left for the sun, most of the time.”
“The Anarchs aren’t much kinder than most princes there. It’s the one rule that almost every lick can agree is necessary.”
Amelie: Amelie nods. She’s heard that word before. She doesn’t know what Jen means by ‘the Cam’, but moves on.
“Well there’s Dracula, Nosferatu, Lestat, and we stand in the city of Anne Rice. Sounds like there’s been some pretty high-profile ball drops. Not that I’m one to talk, considering.”
GM: The door to Maldonato’s office opens. Jen immediately stuffs away her phone and stands to attention as Bishop Malveaux emerges. She does not meet his gaze. Amelie’s too-keen hearing can make the sudden spike in the ghoul’s heart rate.
The skeletal vampire does not once look at her as he slowly perambulates away on his cane. He does not look back at Amelie either as he rasps, “The seneschal desires your presence.”
Amelie: Amelie straightens up in tandem with Jen, bowing lightly when Bishop Malveaux passes.
“Yes, Your Excellency. Please have a pleasant night.”
The young lick gives one last thankful nod to Jen before heading into the office once again, closing the doors behind her. She gives a small bow to Maldonato once more, and quietly takes her seat, attentive and on bated breath about the fate coming to her.
GM: Bishop Malveaux offers no response as his gaunt form disappears down the bare corridor.
Coco and Maldonato, meanwhile, remain in the seats where Amelie last saw them. The blood-filled chalice, too, remains where it was.
Both Kindred silently regard her as she re-assumes her chair.
“It is courteous to request the leave of one’s elders before seating oneself, Miss Savard,” the seneschal reproaches mildly.
Silence stretches between the three.
“Very well,” Maldonato finally states. “You may rise, Miss Savard.”
The elder vampire’s tone remains patient and level. But somehow it feels to Amelie as if an imperceptible shadow has fallen over the room—one that has her already agitated Beast pacing even more anxiously. It scents something in the air.
Something it has scented before.
Something it instinctively knows to beware.
Amelie: Amelie looks like a deer in the headlights as her mind comes back to her. It was a moment of stark relief when she came into the room, but here she sits like a lemming. She knows she should ask permission to sit, and yet she does anyway. Her eyes stay stock still on the seneschal’s desk for a good moment until she hears his voice again, as if shaking her out of her stupor.
She darts up, her cheeks would be red if she was not a corpse.
“Seneschal! I’m so sorry, I’m… standing in the hall where the tower can see me, it must have…” she searches for words, “affected me much more than I thought.”
The fear and her own embarrassment has her bow low, hands wringing so tight together it adds to the constant background noise of bone-deep pain.
“I’d never dare disrespect your station intentionally.”
GM: “One’s intentions matter but little next to one’s actions among our society, Miss Savard,” Maldonato answers gravely.
Coco says nothing.
He steeples his long fingers as he regards the standing vampire.
“I have considered all of the pertinent facts of your Embrace and subsequent actions. Your primogen has also given me her own recommendation as to your fate.”
“If you believe there are any further salient factors that merit my consideration, or if there are any final words your conscience demands you give utterance to, you may speak now.”
Amelie: Amelie bites her lip and nods slowly. She’s fucked this up for herself, and badly. That awareness does nothing against the billow stoking the smoldering fear-coal in her chest. But it’s not like other fears she’s conquered. Not her battles with fire, not her father screaming and swinging bottles, and not the sweaty awkwardness of her first social year with her scarred-over back. It’s a post-mortal fear. Towers of screaming souls pulling at hers. Eternities without the sun.
She thinks about her aunt and hopes her death is just a road bump for the poor woman. She thinks about her mother, and wonders if the older Savard’s fate lies in the City of Dis as a warbling vorpal blade, or if she herself is just insane. She thinks about Oscar. Mrs. Flores. Ms. Perry. Miranda and her father. She regrets not being able to see any of them even one more time. But another fear tugs at her conscience. How could she ever betray them, and pull back the veil hiding this dark and terrible world by being in their lives?
There’s only one thing she can think to say as she maintains an iron-straight posture. It’s almost funny. She’s sure it would be to anyone but her. It reminds her of bringing up dead New Orleans madams when her aunt yelled at her for eavesdropping.
“Your desk. It’s truly beautiful, Seneschal Maldonato. As is your whole collection. But if I’m to die again today, please let the reputation of whoever repaired your desk die with me. They applied oil varnish over water-based varnish too quickly. The wood of your desk will bloat and may suffer structural damage as a result.”
Her hands don’t unclench. She’s sure they look white as pressed sheets as the skin pulls taut against her bones.
“Just have him sand it off and re-apply them at least 48 hours apart.”
GM: Silence stretches between the three.
“Please retrieve the second chalice, Miss Savard,” Maldonato finally requests.
Amelie espies another one on a bookshelf. It looks similar to the first, but is made from silver rather than gold.
Amelie: Amelie feels like she’s on a razor’s edge during the silence, left alone with the dull constant hum of her ravaged body and swimming mind.
Still, she acts on the order immediately. She turns on a heel and quickly retrieves the chalice off the shelf. She’s very careful as she brings it to the desk and holds it at the ready.
GM: Maldonato extends his wrist over the chalice. A heady-smelling, tantalizing red drips into it.
“Drink,” he bids.
Amelie: Amelie bows lightly and does as he says immediately.
It hits her like an anvil. It feels as though the single drop that slides down her tongue is oil in water. A pebble in an ocean. It’s so thick it’s almost solid as it pours down her throat and soothes everything it touches until detonating in some unknown pit. The Beast seizes it like a piece of precious treasure as she just stands there in shock at the seneschal’s puissance. Truly he must be ancient. An ancient Moor born around southern Spain, or maybe a warrior prince from Greece. She stands agape, just staring at the man in reverence. Hoping for another order.
GM: “The normative penalty for violations of the Masquerade is final death, Miss Savard,” Maldonato states. “Others have advocated for your clemency and labored to repair your transgressions. This latter state of affairs, however, is not well. Primogen Duquette, what is the state of Levi Stevens’ body?”
“My licks took it off the Krewe’s hands. He’s on ice in a bathtub.”
Amelie: Amelie takes a small step back from the desk to give the seneschal ample space, but afterwards just stands there with the goblet listening, giving small nods of affirmation to his words.
She takes hound Rocco’s advice as well, and stands quietly until she’s asked a question, hoping she has a chance to pledge she will also be looking for her sire. Or that she will be asked to put the chalice back, where she might be able to sneak her finger in to gather the last bits left in the cup.
GM: Maldonato’s gaze returns from Coco to Amelie.
“Very well. Mr. Stevens’ earthly remains are hereafter your responsibility to dispose of, Miss Savard. His family members’ and work associates’ unanswered questions regarding his apparent disappearance are yours to satisfy as well. You may discharge these duties however your conscience dictates, but the Masquerade must be observed. None may know of our kind’s existence, nor of Mr. Stevens’ death by your hands.”
Amelie: Amelie bows lightly as the gaze pans to her. It’s a grim responsibility. Disposal of a body, it sets a shiver of revulsion though her soul. Just getting rid of a man like that, it’s madness. She only thinks back to Hound Agnello, and how he may be able to help. If he can help. Disposal of the body itself is trivial next to his family and friends. She feels guilt as well, that she’s apparently being allowed to live while this man hasn’t been so lucky. But then, maybe it’s a lesson for her.
“Yes, Seneschal Maldonato. I will not rest until the damage I caused to the Masquerade is repaired.”
GM: There’s also Caroline, part of Amelie can’t help but think. She made all of those bodies disappear.
It’s an excuse to call that phone number. To see her face again.
Caroline would help, wouldn’t she? She’s been so good to her already.
Amelie: There’s a lot of lessons she’s sure Caroline could teach her. She dwells it on a moment in her own head, feeling the internal struggle pulling her in, and a tinge of annoyance remembering that other hound scoffing at Caroline’s name. Maybe if Caroline helps her, it’s also a chance for the older woman to show even more how dedicated she is to the Sanctified, and Kindred society in general.
Her gut twists as she thinks more on it as well. Equal parts of her fight in the back of her head. Logic yanks her by the hair, screaming in her ear Coco’s words on ‘The Leash’ and Hound Agnello’s station, while another deeper part tells her that leash is just speaking to the deep horribly lonely parts of her soul. Caroline could smooth over so many old hurts, like she does with other problems. Maybe it’s a chance to make up for betraying her actions to the seneschal. Maybe she can ask both. Maybe she’s being greedy, or an idiot.
On the surface she keeps her eyes on the seneschal, waiting for his words, but in the back of her head Caroline is well seated on a gilded throne as the topic.
GM: Maldonato’s gaze rests ponderously upon Amelie for what feels like another precious handspan of a moment. His next words, however, are addressed to Coco.
“What is the state of the Anarchs’ investigation into Dr. Wilkinson?”
Coco gives a faint shrug. “We’re keeping an eye out, but we’ve mostly passed the buck there to the Krewe. It’s anyone’s guess where he is right now. Our sorcerers will forward whatever they get off those blood samples.”
“Very well. The apprehension and silencing of Dr. Wilkinson is also your responsibility, Miss Savard—as is any further damage to the Masquerade that his actions should cause.”
Amelie: Amelie doesn’t just hear, but feels the name Wilkinson break through the dialogue in her head. Caroline’s car and safety were breached by whoever attacked them at Wilkinson’s homeless shelter, and it’s undeniably Amelie’s job now to go forward and find this man.
“Yes, Seneschal Maldonato.”
GM: “She could use a time frame for all of this,” Coco says.
“What would you propose, Primogen Duquette?”
“The Midnight Mass after this week’s. Eight nights to find someone who’ll play sire and to repair the damage she’s done to the Masquerade.”
Maldonato appears to weigh Coco’s proposal, but not for overlong.
“Very well. Miss Savard shall be allocated eight nights to succeed in these labors. Would you have her remain your responsibility until and if another suitable mawla may be found?”
“Now that your other fille casquette is mine again, Jen’s time is freer than it was before,” Coco says. “We can manage that, though not for a while tonight. Someone needs to mind her.”
“Hound Wright is due back to Perdido House before the evening’s end.”
“I’m sure he’ll love that,” Coco remarks dryly. “Jen can look after her in the lobby until then, if Your Grace doesn’t object.”
“That is acceptable, Primogen Duquette.”
“Splendid. That should be enough time for Roderick and the others too.”
“Very well, Miss Savard,” Maldonato states, his somber gaze finally returning to Amelie’s.
“You are to be accorded eight nights to find an avus willing to accept responsibility for your actions and education under the Fourth Tradition, or you shall be put to death.”
Amelie: Amelie thinks back to Hound Agnello and his offer. She hopes to God Almighty that it’s still on the table. The idea of being looked after by Hound Wright leaves her half-relieved and half-concerned. She remembers making him chuckle, but also that spear in her heart from his comment towards Caroline. She wonders if they can even get along. Her fingers trace the goblet still in her hands.
“Yes, Seneschal Maldonato. Thank you for this chance.”
GM: “For your violations of the Masquerade that others have worked so diligently to repair, you shall receive a second draught of my vitae following tomorrow’s Midnight Mass. Further terms of your sentencing will be held in abeyance of your efforts to apprehend Dr. Wilkinson and conceal Mr. Stevens’ murder. Your sire’s fate is the concern of others and shall have no bearing upon your own.”
Maldonato examines his pocketwatch. “A momentary window remains in the time we have been allotted together, Miss Savard. Until it elapses, you may avail me of any further questions you desire answered.”
Amelie: Amelie feels a shiver of equal parts terror and excitement at the sound of another draught of the seneschal’s marble-thick blood. She listens intently nonetheless, and bows her head in thanks at his offer of questions. It’s just as Hound Agnello said.
There’s a lot of things on her mind, and so much she’d like to ask about what she now is. But she needs to get in good with these fellow… Kindred.
“Yes, Seneschal Maldonato. Forgive me if this is presumptuous, but if Hound Agnello graciously decides to take me in, would I be directly inundated as a member of the Sanctified?”
GM: “You would not, Miss Savard. You would become eligible to join the Lancea et Sanctum upon your release from Hound Agnello’s or any other mawla’s supervision,” Maldonato answers.
Amelie: That makes sense enough. The question feels almost wasted, though, as she supposes she could have just asked Coco or Wright.
She pauses for a moment in consideration of what to say next. She needs to prove that she’s loyal, however she can.
“I have come to learn the Lancea et Sanctum is at odds with a faction of Vodouisants in New Orleans, the Crones. If I encounter one of their members during my investigation, is there a course of action you expect of me?”
GM: “The Circle’s members are subjects of His Majesty the prince, as are we all. Report any infractions against the Camarilla’s laws to your mawla. Otherwise, treat them as you would desire yourself treated.”
Amelie: Amelie nods and bows her head again. She was not expecting that level of leniency towards philosophical enemies.
That question feels like another missed opportunity, though. Maybe she can ask about…
GM: A knock sounds against the door.
“Enter,” Maldonato bids.
The ghoul who does so appears to be a teenager younger than Amelie. Her milk-pale facial features are beautiful and unblemished, while her gaze is placid and tranquil. She’s garbed in a flowing white gown that strikingly contrasts her waist-length raven hair and gives her an almost ethereal appearance.
“Gisèlle, please escort Miss Savard and Jennifer Haley to the Centurion Investment lobby.”
The ghoul bows, turns, and glides from the room with an eerily silent stride.
Amelie: Amelie steps out of the way for the seneschal to address the ghoul and waits patiently as he issues his orders. Whoever Gisèlle is, the young lick cannot help but feel simultaneous jealousy at her beauty and relief that she no longer has hair that long. She can just picture someone grabbing and swinging it in this brutal new world. She carefully returns the chalice to where it last sat, and comes back to bow once last time before the great and merciful… Kindred who’s given her her life. Or unlife, as the others all seem to call it.
“Thank you for your endless patience, Seneschal Maldonato. I will endeavor not to waste this chance. By your leave?”
GM: Coco’s and Maldonato’s gazes follow Amelie as she returns the chalice. Neither vampire speaks. ‘Gisèlle’ does not speak.
As that seem imperceptible shadow feels as if it has fallen over the room again, Amelie’s Beast growls warningly in her ear. Her eye reflexively darts across her surroundings—and comes to an abrupt halt.
Amelie: Amelie feels as though she’s forgetting some piece of etiquette. Or maybe it’s just something she hasn’t been told. Her heart lurches in her throat either way as that ominous shadow returns. That instinct in her, the… Beast, yanks her eyes about the room. She looks for an exit, a weapon, or just some hint as to what these ancient monsters WANT from her.
“I apologize. It seems as though I am offending with my ignorance once again. I had thought you were dismissing me as well as this… ghoul, Seneschal Maldonato.”
GM: As Amelie’s eyes return to the seneschal’s, time seems to dilate like a wild beast’s pupils, widening from an instant to an eternity. As she hangs suspended in that temporal vista, she almost wonders how she missed it:
The elder’s Cainite eyes lack the black and alien hunger of Nathaniel Blanch’s. But now, as she stares into that gaze’s motionless depths, they do not appear to be other than human—but more than human. Far more. Too much more. Their brown hue is like that of an ancient tree whose rings go on forever and ever and ever, marking lifetimes beyond counting, thoughts beyond counting, thoughts beyond understanding. Their vast multiplicity bears down on her with a psyche-crushing weight that feels all-too physical—and for reasons far graver than mere points of etiquette.
The temporal spell is finally broken by the elder vampire’s somber voice:
“‘Bargain not with the darkness: in time it will take us all.’ Farewell, childe of Troile.”