The Concord of Ashes
November 18th, AD 1196
At Balto’s Boarding House
Sir Gunthar returns to Balto’s. He doesn’t wake the others until just before dawn, and listens to Bernard relate brief stories of his visits to the aqueducts and the Hagia Sophia. He then instructs Bernard to ensure that Sir Gunther’s armour is cleaned in the morning. Bernard is to do this job himself and not pass it on to his manservant; if Bernard wishes to become a knight, he must learn to care for his armour. Klaus will be available to help Bernard with regards to technique.
He then goes on to make preparations for the fight against the Children of Calomena. He decided that his new ghoul, Ratty II, is worth keeping.
November 19th, AD 1196
At the Saut Aswad
The coterie meets Fajr early in the evening. A private room is rented and the objects/boxes laid out. Veceslav confirms that he can have more several tomes transcribed for Fajr, so the payment is guaranteed.
Using his Spirit’s touch, the Assamite handles the items taken from the attic hide-out.
The whittling knife has strong impressions, and was often used by its owner to carve crucifixes. The owner of the knife is intensely religious and very angry. He has also been a ghoul for a long time, and dreams of a great reckoning that will soon to come to pass. The ghoul is an old man, and walks with a limp.
The rope with blood on it had few impressions, but the blood that coated the rope gave Fajr some insight. He saw a large man, a Rus. He is also a habitual ghoul, meaning that he has received the vitae constantly rather than every now and then. The brute felt triumphant, having overcome a great enemy (Juliano, obviously) in spite of his injuries. This man had a tattoo of a black sun at the base of his neck.
The blankets gave the Assamite an overall impression rather than particular ones. The men who used them were all ghouls, but not habitual ones, and that they were all Greeks or Bulgars. Many had in their minds images of a beautiful Slavic man with long black hair and bloody tears. All were dedicated to Calomena, and had a sense of community.
Having no more to offer, Fajr politely excuses himself and says that he will return in a few weeks to collect his payment. He will also check in at the Monastery of Christ Pantokrator regularly, to see if they have further need of his services.
At Loose Ends
With a clear enemy to fight but some hours to wait, the coterie parts ways to hunt, take counsel with their sires and prepare for battle in their own ways.
Veceslav heads to the Amalfitan District, only to find that his weapons and have long since gone to rust from lack of care and use. Gabor admonishes him for his laxity, and insists that he go into battle armed only with his wits and his fangs so the lesson would not need to be repeated.
Sir Conrad quickly heads to the Senate House to report to the Lexor Brujah, finding them in a rare, full session. Even the elders Theophilus and Dorotheus are in attendance and listen to his report of the Children of Calomena with great interest. Procet raises a motion that the Family use the investigation to benefit themselves at the expense of the Latins and Antonians by calling a Tribunal. The motion is carried. Procet also argues that the Senate should arrange with the Lord Symeon and the Baron’s Gangrel to provide the coterie papers of safe passage through the city, the better to facilitate their service to the Brujah. This motion is also carried.
Iulia heads upstairs and takes counsel with Lady Katerina, whom appears to be getting ready for a party somewhere in the Greek Districts.
Sir Gunther sits and has a quiet drink with Marcus Musa Giovanni, wishing to improve their acquaintance and perhaps find some trade opportunities for the Dressler family. Lucien eventually arrives on the scene, and he and Sir Gunther excuse themselves from the Venetian and head to a private room.
Lucien sees a way to turn the presence of the Children in the Greek Districts to the advantage of his associate, Petronius. As well as the newly founded coterie. If Byzantine Cainites were slain in a Greek district the response would be sure and clear- the Quaesitor Tribunal would charge the Baron’s Gangrel to hunt the murderer and enforce the Codex of Legacies. However, the Codex of Legacies does not have jurisdiction in the Latin Quarter, and hasn’t since the Eighth Council that was held eleven years previously, after the Latin Riots. Justice in the Latin Quarter is the strict purview of the Narsene Lasombra, as embodied by Bishop Alfonzo. In this case, Latin Cainites (allowed into the city by the Bishop) have murdered their fellow Latins but hide amongst the Greeks. A complicated situation.
Alfonzo has failed to keep the Carrion (aka the clanless) out of the city as he favours allowing as many non-Greek Cainites into the city as possible, but the Baron’s Gangrel have also failed to effectively police the borders of the Greek districts. All are at fault.
Lucien wants to help Petronius give the city a kick up the arse and get the Families working together again. Constantinople is sick, and the old Gangrel has no desire to see the last vestige of Rome die. To make it better again, the city needs new blood and new ideas to mix things up a bit.
A plan is made. Lucien will approach Petronius and ask him to call the Quaesitor Tribunal. Petronius will have the chance to say that the coterie has secretly been working for him all along when they give their report, thus increasing his own ailing status and authority in the city. He will state that as the matter is a special problem it requires a special solution- have the coterie slay the Carrion as they are neither Latin, nor Byzantine. Petronius will look good, the coterie will look very good, and everyone else will walk away with wounded pride and a valuable lesson learned: if they won’t do their jobs then someone else can, and will…
Resolutions at the Saut Aswad
Sir Conrad arrives and gives the coterie the good news: Sir Gunther, Veceslav and Iulia are free to move about the city with impunity for a full month. The news is received with considerable plaudits and kudos for the Brujah.
Sir Gunther explains the plan regarding Petronius and the Children of Calomena, which is also met with approval by all.
The two knights then go over their plan of attack. Assuming the Quaesitor Tribunal is agreeable, the attack on the house in Seraglio will take place tonight.
At ten bells, Anna Sgorina arrives with several others of the Baron’s Gangrel to inform the coterie that a special session of the Quaesitor Tribunal has been called and that they are to accompany her immediately.
At the Old Senate House
The Quaesitor Tribunal consists of Petronius of the Michaelite Toreador, Symeon of the Obertus Tzimisce and Anna Comnena of the Antonian Ventrue. It is a very formal atmosphere, and much decorum is observed.
Petronius is an elegant, dignified man in early middle-age with short, dark hair and intelligent brown eyes. He is so pale that unless he moves, he might be mistaken for a marble statue. His white robes are of the Byzantine court, and he wears no adornment other than a golden ring set with a large ruby.
Symeon is strong and hale, with the aspect of a natural ruler. He has a pale olive compexion, light brown hair confident, compelling brown eyes. Although dressed in the finery of a Byzantine aristocrat and dripping with jewels, he looks like a warrior, and wears a sword and dagger at his belt with practiced ease.
Anna’s beauty defies description, a platonic ideal of royalty and perfection of line and form. Her chestnut hair is long, wavy and carefully styled, and her eyes an intelligent, cool blue. She wears the latest fashions of the Byzantine Court.
Also in attendance are Natalya Syvatoslav, a Frankish knight with gleaming, cat-like eyes and a deep scar marring the left side of his face (Baron Thomas Feroux), and a tall, thin, regal Nosferatu wearing fine robes (Malachite). Also present are a number of ghouls taking minutes of the proceedings.
As agreed, Petronius states that the coterie are his agents, which elicits a raised eyebrow from Symeon (who would clearly know this for a lie). He then asks the coterie to give its report.
Perhaps unsettled by the steady gaze of Symeon, Veceslav falls silent. Instead, Sir Gunther tells the tale, outlining the events of the investigation into the murder of Juliano and Adrianna by the Children of Calomena.
At the conclusion of the report, Petronius stands and says that the coterie should be charged with carrying out the execution of the Carrion, as they are clearly not in either camp of Latin or Byzantine, they can most ably serve both.
In response, Anna stands and berates Baron Feroux, claiming that it is the laxness of his Gangrel that allowed this dangerous situation to develop. For his part, the Baron is clearly angry but accepts the rebuke of his superior without argument. Curiously, Simeon does not defend his scion, seemingly content to see how the drama plays out.
With permission, Sir Gunther speaks in the Baron’s defence, claiming that it was only with his assistance that the investigation could be concluded. He is unsure of whether Anna actually believes him, and Symeon clearly doesn’t but appears to be faintly amused more than anything. Petronius is clearly pleased at the show of solidarity.
The Quaesitor Tribunal then turns to each other and falls silent. For nearly a minute they communicate amongst themselves by some telepathic means.
At last Petronius rises to his feet once again, and asks the coterie to enact a final solution to the problem of the Children of Calomena as soon as practical. Baron Feroux and his Gangrel will assist them and provide supervision in this endeavour, ensuring that no untoward destruction is wrought upon the city and that the Legacy of Shadows is observed. With this, the three Quaesitors leave the chamber, and Natalya immediately follows them too.
Baron Thomas thanks Sir Gunther speaking up in his defence, though he is unsure what effect it really had on the Tribunal. He does not explain the animosity shown towards him by Anna Comnena, nor does he explain why Symeon chose not to defend him. Sir Gunther says that no thanks is necessary as Baron Thomas is a knight, and these things are just done for one another.
He does introduce the Nosferatu as Malachite, Chosen of Patriarch Michael and the leader of the Malachite Nosferatu scions.
Malachite congratulates the coterie on their successful investigation and wishes them well in their execution of the Tribunal’s decision. He says that he and his people will endeavour to watch over them in the attack, but their help cannot be guaranteed. He also congratulates Sir Gunther for speaking up on behalf of Baron Thomas and then leaves in the same direction as the Tribunal and Natalya.
Baron Thomas encourages the coterie to stay in the city after their mission is done. Sir Gunther good-naturedly talks of swordsmanship and says he hopes to spar with Baron Thomas at some stage in the future as his friend Justinian has often praised the Norman’s superior prowess. The Baron is pleased, and says he would welcome the opportunity, but points out that Justinian is just as good, or nearly so, as himself. He then appoints Anna Sgorina and her retainers to help the party and leaves.
Rendezvous with the Seraglio Fraternity
The party assembles, consisting of: Veceslav and his bodyguard, Laszlo; Sir Gunther and Sir Conrad; Iulia and her two northmen guards, Agmundir and Haldir; Anna Sgorina and four of the Baron’s guards called Adriano, Cadmus, Damian and Haman. Anna explains that her guards are all highly trained horse archers and capable swordsmen, formerly of the Byzantine hippo-toxitai regiments.
The twelve-strong armoured party makes its way to the rendezvous. A bright-eyed energetic child, Adrian, waits for them. Adrian escorts the coterie via back-alleys to the temporary house of the Fraternity, a large, abandoned military warehouse.
The party arrives to find that Jason has 12 toughs ready to go, armed with light, quilted armour, cudgels and daggers. He and his men have a soup kitchen operating, and a steady queue of pathetic locals waiting for food even at this late hour. Both Sir Gunther and Sir Conrad are kind of heart-broken at this and insist that Jason disband these non-combatants from the fight. Jason seems a little shocked by the request, clearly surprised that the knights thought he’d be willing to send the sick, desperate and old under his protection to their deaths.
He explains that once each week, according to ancient tradition, all of the Fraternities in the Greek districts (at least, those worth their salt) feed those whom can’t feed themselves. Even in their current diminished state the Seraglio Fraternity must do this.
The misunderstanding cleared up, plans are discussed. Form-up points and routes to the site are planned. The two Crusaders will be in the lead and rest will be the accompanying back-up.
Jason’s men are stood down and relegated to warden duties. They are charged with tagging and following any fleeing cultists. They are asked NOT to fight those fleeing, but merely to trail them and inform the combat team.
Sir Gunther encourages Jason to get an after-party going to celebrate the coming victory. The Fraternity is happy enough to do this, and should be able to find a score of carousers from the neighbourhood even at a late hour because news has spread that the interlopers will be cast out.
The Fraternity members will lead the combat team to the form-up-point (FUP).
Conrad and Gunthar are the front-men. They will walk up to the Carrion compound and speak to them, giving them a warning and a chance to flee. Conrad will carry, in addition to his sword, a javelin with which to engage any Cainites at distance. Once combat begins, Conrad will concentrate on the mortals, mopping them up while Gunther takes on the tough-guys.
Laszlo, Haldir and Agmundir will act in support of Conrad and Gunther with melee and throwing axe.
The Baron’s ghouls will act as a reserve. They will use their bows on targets of opportunity and prevent enemy use of the balcony. If they can get to high ground, they will. They are to act in pairs. When “the time is right” or when called for, they will change to melee and engage.
Anna will stand reserve commander. Should the balcony become occupied, she will change into bat-form and move to engage. Anna fights in wolf form and will engage in close combat when the time is right.
Iulia will cover the attack with her bow and aid in suppression of the balcony.
Veceslav will act at first as a reserve, and then move in when required.
Exits from the compound will be watched by members of the Fraternity. These are to tag and follow any fleeing cultists, and then inform the combat teams. They are to work in pairs, at least. If engaged, they are to flee and fetch the combat team urgently.
Ratty is to act as an advance scout, and will be sent to Gunther to count (maybe) how many people (warm ones and dead ones) and to state where they are (maybe).
Attendance: Jack (Sir Conrad, 2 xp), Greg (Sir Gunthar, 3xp)
Absent: Ben (Veceslav, 0 xp)
Sir Gunther (Greg) 3