Session Sixty-Two

  • Chaos! Iulia has dropped an Obtenebration Nocturne cloud on the gathered cultists. She remains hidden with Agmundir to the south of the ruined compound behind a low wall. Lotario has instigated a fight with the entire throng and Adelbert is trying to assist him. Veceslav and the ghouls Francois and Alfonse are fighting a pair of vampires on the east side of the compound. Meanwhile, Maude has rescued a reluctant Gregorius and taken him a short way to the east. She implores him to help them if he can, then returns to the fray.
  • Lotario, having thrashed one unwitting vampire and quickly outmaneuvered another, exclaims “Sarrasine sends his regards!” He then grabs Adalbert’s tunic and attempts to push the second vampire into down onto the first. There, his luck runs out. The fallen Chosen lunges at the Toreador’s feet, wrapping them up while the second manages to grab him from behind. Adelbert attempts to aid his companion, but he is intercepted by none other than Stanislav, the Prophet of Calomena, who emerges from the shifting darkness to fix the Ventrue with a furious glare, admonishing that Adelbert will “Burn in Hell for his sins!”
  • Adelbert responds with his Dread Gaze, and Stanislav hisses back at him with a Dread Gaze of his own. Meanwhile, the Toreador bites the arm of the vampire grappling him, attempting to restore his dwindling pool of vitae. The Kiss fails to take effect. His opponent hisses in pain rather than pleasure, and soon shifts his grip into a submission hold that the Toreador struggles in vain to break. Lotario and Adelbert struggle for desperate seconds with the vampires within the Nocturne cloud. Eventually Adelbert is forced to flee in terror when he is overwhelmed by the frightful presence of the Prophet. Lotario falls into serious trouble being simultaneously grappled by one opponent, drained by the other and railed at by Stanislav for his “treachery and pride, which shall surely bring about his ruin”. The Toreador also staves off the ecstasy of the Kiss, and struggles on with increasing desperation.
  • The rest of the coterie are blind to their struggles, obscured as they are by the Nocturne. Besides, they have troubles of her own. Gallasyn has located the Lasombra and moves rapidly to confront her and end her concentration over the Nocturne. However, Maude arrives in time to freeze him with Rigor Mortis, just long enough for Agmundir to nearly split him in two with his axe. Adelbert, fleeing the evaporating Nocturne also joins his companions and they stand as one against the centuries-old Toreador. Shocked at the violence of the blow, and suddenly very afraid, Gallasyn retreats to a safe distance using his Celerity. He then removes the axe, recovers and rejoins his brethren.
  • Without Iulia’s control, the Nocturne is gone. Maude, Iulia, Adelbert and Agmundir turn to face no less than 5 vampires gathered around their Prophet and preparing to charge. Behind them, dozens of mortal cultists have rallied to their leader and are picking their way across the rubble, weapons in hand.
  • To the east, Veceslav and the two ghouls struggle to maintain their advantage against the two Chosen assailing them. The smaller of the two, wielding a short sword, is kept busy by Alfonse, who holds his own barely against the vampire. The other, a large man wielding a battleaxe with considerable skill and strength, reacts with fury more than fear at the Tzimisce’s Zulo shape, calling Veceslav a “filthy demon!” He and the knez are evenly matched, with neither able to get the upper hand until the Tzimisce abandons defense and lunges recklessly at the Chosen, gripping him in a clasp. Francois attempts to stake the Caitiff several times, but fails to find his mark. The enemy succeeds in slipping Veceslav’s hold, and the fight continues.
  • Behind the throng of charging vampires, Lotario Acuto feels his Heart’s Blood beginning to ebb. As Lotario’s situation grows hopeless and his panic causes his Beast to howl, Gregorius suddenly appears in the fray and, with a savage kick, dislodges the Cainite holding the Toreador immobilised. Lotario manages to break free, grabs the Malkavian roughly. They both rapidly flee the scene. Their two opponents seem inclined to pursue them, but with a word from their leader they instead join the others, making their numbers 8.
  • Stanislav rails at the Concord, claiming that Dark Calomena herself will destroy them. The air above their heads begins to roil and spin, as a whirlpool of dark clouds takes shape. The coterie is shocked, and profoundly uneasy. What new and awful power was this?!? As a woman of gigantic proportions begins stepping from the vortex, Maude and Iulia look to each other, shaking their heads in fear and disbelief. Neither of them have ever heard of such a thing! And then Maude realises; Stanislav knows Chimerstry! As the vampires and cultists charge, Maude also realises that many of them are not real either, though more than enough exist to outnumber and overpower the coterie. She summons a horde of the Baron’s Gangrel and their own ghouls to counter the illusory warriors of the Chosen.
  • She overlays the illusion of the emerging Calomena with one of her own, seeking to confuse the Chosen. A duel of Chimerstry occurs between Stanislav and Maude, with both summoning illusory reinforcements, and both attempting to use illusions of Calomena to sway the cultists.
  • The battle descends into confusion and farce, with illusionary troops flailing ineffectively at stationary ones, and images of Calomena alternately fighting, raging and dancing filling the air amidst a phantasmagoria of light, sound and colour. In the confusion, Maude, Adalbert, Iulia and Agmundir manage to regroup with Veceslav, Francois and Alfonse. Maude summons an illusion of Stanislav which orders Veceslav’s two opponents to disengage – they fall for the ruse, and the group promptly flee south.
  • With the help of their Disciplines, the group are able to keep ahead of their pursuers as they make their way back towards the lit areas of the Great Palace. They are met by Sariel, sent by Petronius (who had been monitoring them from afar) to assist them. The Michaelite Spathi tou Theou uses the Presence power of Majesty to incapacitate their pursuers. He draws his ancient sword and walks towards those who do not flee, calmly murdering each one while whispering “sinner!” each time. The coterie are suitably awed by his power, though some are also disgusted by his callousness.
  • Now safe, the Concord report to Petronius. He has already issued a summons for an emergency session of the Quaesitor Tribunal to rule on the matter. The Baron’s Gangrel are ordered to return to siege the Chosen’s compound, but the cult have not only abandoned the site, but expertly cleaned it thoroughly of any useable evidence or clues of where they have gone. One of Maude’srituals allows them to locate their main haven, the ruined Monastery of Saint Luke in Arcadius, but this, too, is found to have been abandoned and “cleaned” ahead of the attack.
  • The affair seems over for now. Lotario Acuto will continue to try to unearth the location of the cult and its leaders, and to use some gleaned clues to identify the cult’s other vampire members. The rest of the Concord whose skills aren’t particularly suited to that kind of investigation, will continue with their own endeavours, but agreed to remain at Petronius’ disposal should he have need of their services once again.
  • The Arbiter has offered the protection of his palace (and his resident Scholai Guard), saying that the city is no longer as safe for them as it was, for if the Chosen of Calomena can disappear with such impunity it follows that it is likely that they can reappear with it as well. And Stanislav will almost certainly want vengeance on the Concord. On a happier note, the obvious deception of Stanislav’s false execution will quickly come to light to the city at large, as the Quaesitor Tribunal will be delighted to circulate the news. This will sorely injure Bishop Alfonzo’s reputation and severely injure his status as the preeminent authority in the Latin Quarter. This is an excellent development!
  • News arrives the following night that a further development has occurred in the mortal sphere; most dire news…

A new ultimatum

  • January 2nd- Fed up with Alexius IV’s stalling and arrogance, a crusader embassy is chosen to speak with the Romaioi. Conon of Béthune and Sir Geoffrey de Villehardouin, the Marshal of Champagne, and Miles the Brabant of Provins; and three of the Doge’s advisors lead the embassy, which is escorted by 60 of the best swordsman available.
  • They are received in poor grace by the emperor’s court. After much negotiation and considerable vacillation, Miles the Brabant steps forward and issues the following proclamation:

_"Sire, we have come to thee on the part of the barons of the host and of the Doge of Venice. They would put thee in mind of the great service they have done to thee-a service known to the people and manifest to all men. Thou hast swom, thou and thy father, to fulfil the promised covenants, and they have your charters in hand."

“But you have not fulfilled those covenants well, as you should have done. Many times have they called upon you to do so, and now again we call upon you, in the presence of all your barons, to fulfil the covenants that are between you and them. Should you do so, it shall be well.”

“If not, be it known to you that from this day forth they will not hold you as lord or friend, but will endeavour to obtain their due by all the means in their Power. And of this they now give you warning, seeing that they would not injure you, nor any one, without first defiance given; for never have they acted treacherously, nor in their land is it customary to do so. You have heard what we have said. It is for you to take counsel thereon according to your pleasure.”_

Alexius and Isaac are outraged. They demand that the embassy withdraw, and the armed party makes it back to their boats only by drawing their weapons and threatening the jeering crowd with death.

Constantinople is once more on the brink of war…

Attendance: Ben (Veceslav, 2 xp), Dave (Maude, 3 xp), Daniel (Adalbert, 3 xp)
Absent: Greg (Lotario, o xp)

Session Sixty-Two

The Concord of Ashes Haligaunt