Session Five

November 20th, AD 1196

Reports and Consequences

Each Cainite is informed by messenger early in the evening that their sire’s need to speak with them. Apparently word was already spreading of the attack, and that Bishop Alfonzo is furious that the Children of Calomena were slain without his involvement.

The Bishop demands that they come before him and give a report on the investigation and the battle, as well as an explanation for why they attacked and executed the Children rather than making a report and leaving it in his hands.

The coterie assembles at the Saut Aswad, where Sir Gunther explains that he will report to the Bishop later, but for now he would like the belongings of the Children as well as the murdered childer so he may have Fajr the Assamite make another reading. Veceslav acquiesces, stating only that the bible and jewellery must be returned to the Bishop soon. Privately, he knows that Sir Gunther is lying as Symeon is the point of contact for the secretive Assamite, and wonders at what intrigue he is up to, for Sir Gunther couldn’t possibly know how to get in touch with the old arab.

Sir Conrad, Iulia and Veceslav head to the Bishop’s mansion to make the report. There they find the gallery deserted except for the man himself and his two eldest childer. Gregorio is a well-dressed, handsome rake with a smug air and Marko looks to be a more friendly sort, dressed in the fine apparel of a successful Venetian merchant.

The Bishop is clearly angry, and allows the full power of his Presence to wash over the coterie. Iulia and Veceslav submit immediately, but Sir Conrad manages to keep his feet for a few seconds before also kneeling.

The Lasombra overlord bites every off every word, clearly controlling his temper as he orders them to give a full account. Only after he has the full story does he allow his Majesty to melt away. Veceslav comments that there are still other Children out there, and that the coterie intends to finish them off.

The Bishop states that he is “displeased with the coterie, who appear to have been doing the bidding of the Trinity Families over his, their patron in this matter. As such, they would have their boon, but as payment in kind for their impertinence it would be a minor, not major boon. Furthermore, as he no longer trusts them in this matter their services are no longer required”. Gregorio adds that he “welcomes another chance to destroy the Children, and that these outsiders have overstepped their bounds”. Sir Conrad rejoins that “if Gregorio had any competence at all, their services wouldn’t have been required in the first place.” The Lasombra warrior bears his fangs, but the Bishop silences him with a raised hand.

Sir Conrad states that he “doesn’t mind this outcome, for he is a Lexor Brujah and his service to the Trinity Families always comes first”. This leads to another challenge by Gregorio, which the Bishop is quick to squash.

Veceslav says nothing to gainsay the Bishop or his childer, choosing instead to place a calming hand on the Brujah’s shoulder.

Iulia says that in keeping with Cainite custom, the Bishop would of course publicly state the recognition of the boon owed to the coterie and their sires.

The Bishop smiles at her, his anger forgotten, and invites the coterie to be the guests of honour at his blood feast for Saint Cecilia, on the 22nd of November. The festivities will begin at 10 o’clock. He then dismisses them.

Sir Gunther reports about an hour later and endures a similar tirade and invitation.

A hunt gone awry…

Veceslav, knowing that Gabor will not arise for the evening for a while yet, decides to hunt in the Amalfitan district. He spies a ragged, bent figure coughing in the mouth of a lane. The Tzimisce sneaks up, siezes the beggar and drags him into the lane.

Instead, the victim turns out to be the hunter. He produces a stake and thrusts it into Veceslav’s chest, only narrowly missing his heart. For almost a minute the Cainite and the mortal struggle as the victim shows that he has a second, and then a third stake. Veceslav’s combat ineptitude might have been amusing if the situation wasn’t so desperate, but finally he begins to take the upper hand as he funnels more blood to his limbs to increase his strength, agility and stamina while also healing his wounds.

Judging by his strength, toughness and familiarity with vampire weaknesses, the mortal is clealry a ghoul. He also swears several times in the langue d’oc dialect of French.

The mortal finally loses his nerve and flees, while Veceslav takes a moment to remove the first offending stake. He then trails the mortal to a flophouse, notes the location and heads off to report to his sire.

The Counsel of the Elders…

Each of the coterie takes counsel with their sires, all of whom have had messengers from Petronius as well. They are all invited to the Great Palace the following evening of November 21st, for a Blood Feast commemorating the Procession of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. The coterie are to be Petronius guests of honour, and many of the city’s elite Cainites will attend.

Lucien comments to Sir Gunther that he expected that the Bishop would likely try to worm his way out of the boon in some fashion. Such are the wages for dealing with Lasombra. However, the feast at the Great Palace would open many doors for them that would otherwise stay closed.
Procet is not at all concerned by Alfonzo’s anger, and in fact is delighted that Sir Conrad’s efforts have raised the stock of the Lexor Brujah at the expense of the Antonian Ventrue. Although Quaesitor Anna Comnena had tried to shift the blame for the free movements of the Children to the Baron’s Gangrel, Autokrator Natalya Syvatoslav had managed to place the final censure on Anna’s own childe, the Domestic Prefect Irene Stellas. This is in keeping with Procet’s and Natalya’s secret plans for the Lexor Brujah.

Lady Katerina simply remarks that she expected the Bishop’s displeasure, as well as his withdrawal of the major boon. She thinks most of his displeasure was a show to justify the action, and that Iulia must learn to anticipate such pretexts, prepare for them and be ready to counter them in advance. Iulia should see this as an educational experience, and learn from it.
While waiting to speak with Gabor, Veceslav spies an Assamite having an interview with his sire. He listens in on their conversation and discovers that his sire is hiring the fellow for 1000 ducats to assassinate Basilio the Elder, Prince of Sophia when the time is right.

Gabor is furious that the major boon is withdrawn, though he has much hope for the prospect of currying favour with the Antonian Ventrue on the 22nd. He has also heard many tales of the legendary parties of the Michaelites and Antonians, and wishes to see such a wonder with his own eyes. Gabor also wonders why Veceslav is leaving Sir’s Gunther and Conrad to do the talking when he is a trained diplomat. In future, he expects Veceslav to remedy this.

Gabor is also angry that Veceslav is injured, though he is disgusted less by Veceslav’s inability to defend himself as he is by his childe not taking the protection of the lazy Laszlo with him on the hunt. He chooses to teach them both a lesson: Veceslav is to learn the value of Vicissitude in disciplining his retainers and Laszlo is to learn that he should not be drinking and whoring but standing ready to assist his Domitor. Gabor then grabs Laszlo and uses Rend the Osseus Frame on the petrified bodyguard’s upper arms. The bones are raggedly detached, leaving Laszlo in agony and wailing piteously. The elder leans in close and whispers to the rake that if he continues to make that mewling sound he will take Laszlo’s mouth away as well. To his credit, the Hungarian swallows his pain and doesn’t utter much more than shallow grunts of pain for the rest of the evening.

Hunting the hunter…

With an evening to prepare for the Trinity blood feast, the coterie comes together at the Saut Aswad once again to compare notes and make plans.

Veceslav confides in Sir Conrad about his encounter with the hunter, and the knight offers to help him finish off the mortal.

The two of them head back to the flophouse, where they find the mortal badly wounded and weeping in his misery. Nonetheless he picks up a dagger and prepares to defend himself until he catches sight of Sir Conrad.

The man utters, “Tower of Arsuf”, and immediately falls to his knees, all fight gone out of him. The knight recognises that the man’s rags are the remnants of a uniform showing the badge of the Count Raymond IV of Antioch, godson of the late Count Raymond III of Tripoli, Prince of Gallilee and Tiberias, who was a comrade-in-arms at Hattin and an old friend.

The two Cainites question the mortal, and discover him to be Francois, a former ghoul of Sir Harold de Ridefort of Clan Ventrue, childe of the Crusader Captain Guy of Provence. Harold was slain by an Assamite in front of Francois’ eyes, and to his shame the ghoul fled and has eked out a pathetic, desperate existence ever since.

Sir Conrad is in favour of finishing off the coward, but Veceslav sees an opportunity and offers a “Devil’s Bargain” instead. He will take Francois on and feed him, but on a trial basis. If he proves to be treacherous or a liability, Francois will wish that Sir Conrad had finished him off here and now. The ghoul agrees without hesitation, and feeds greedily when Veceslav bites his wrist and offers the vitae.

Attendance: Jack (Sir Conrad, 2xp), Ben (Veceslav, 3xp)
Absent: Greg (Sir Gunthar, 0 xp)

Session Five

The Concord of Ashes Haligaunt