The Concord of Ashes
A civilised Fiend?
- Two more weeks pass on the construction project, and the tower foundations are beginning to take shape.
- The coterie has busied itself on numerous tasks, including patrolling, tutoring Jals, discipline and ritual training and creation, and treating with the surrounding villages.
- Not long after dinner, a man leading two horses approaches the palisade. He looks to be well, if functionally dressed. He is good looking, with short auburn hair and brown eyes. The first horse is a palfrey, fitted for riding. The second is a rouncey, which bristles with saddle-bags, camping equipment, a tripod, and numerous bound tubes.
- Holding a white baton (the sign of peaceful intent) aloft, he introduces himself in the ritual manner as Galnatz of the Clan Tzimisce, a humble servant of Lord Ruthven. Veceslav quietly explains that Ruthven, a methuselah of the clan, is the youngest of the Tzimisce Founder’s childer.
- Galnatz is admitted, and stays for several nights. He claims to be in the area to survey it, so he can draw maps for his master.
- During his stay he makes a good impression among several of the coterie. He openly professes to follow the via Humanitatis, which gives them hope for Jals. Maude appreciates his championing of science, as a way to give freedom to all humanity, while Gunthar ritter enjoys his warm company, and his willingness to provide them with a rough map (to date) of the surrounds. He asks Veceslav many questions regarding his lineage, explaining that the clan genealogists could use the knowledge. Iulia and Sir Alaric are considerably more guarded around the newcomer, and largely keep to themselves.
- When Galnatz moves on, Jals leaves with him to provide an escort for a time. Jals returns ten days later, pleased with the experience.
The quarry of the Knights of the Blood
*Several nights after Jals’ return, a commotion is heard from the southern trail to Bistritz and Iulia calls the other Cainites are called to the watchtower. Following their usual practice, they gird themselves and their followers for battlle and rush to her side.
*Stretching out their senses with Auspex (except for Maude, who merely peers out into the dark), they watch the tableau unfold. Four horses are seen galloping past along the trail, some of them holding two riders.
- Two other horses chase them, evidently a rear guard. There is much more light, and a commotion of many more riders, farther down the trail.
- As they look on, one of the horses issues a pained whinny as it loses its footing. The riders are evidently battered but otherwise unharmed, but the horse has clearly broken a leg.
- The rear guard riders, both tall, pale men with blonde hair, draw rein at the fallen horse. One is lordly and handsome, the other powerfully muscled and bearing a nasty scar across his cheek. The former is armed with a broadsword and a small shield, the latter with a hand-and-a-half sword.
- They speak quietly to the other riders, evidently asking if they are alright, while they exchange worried glances and look back down the trail. Maude calls out to them from the watchtower, offering the assistance of the coterie as well.Meanwhile Sir Alaric and Gunthar ritter quietly order the horses saddled.
- The two men, obviously Cainites at this point, appear to reach unspoken agreement and the larger of the two slits the horse’s throat while the lordly one helps the injured mortals onto their horses. He removes several quivers of arrows from the saddles and unties a very large bow.
Their tasks done, the two Cainites slap the horses on the flanks to set them off down the northern trail. The lordly one hands the bow and the quivers to the scarred one, then settles in to watch the fort while his friend strings the bow.
- As the light from down the trail grows closer, the scarred one steps up onto a rocky out-cropping and carefully aims the bow, loosing arrow after arrow. Almost immediately, the light begins to dim.
- A minute later, the riders gallop into view, significantly winnowed from the arrow fire. The coterie instantly recognise the standards of Sir Virgilio di Canobio, Franz ritter von Windisch-Grätz and Sir Garnier de Cambrai along with the sceptre, bloody sword and crown device of the Knights of the Blood.
- Instantly, Maude, Veceslav and Gunthar ritter realise that the two hunted Cainites must be none other than the elder Ventrue diabolists, Hrothulf and Siegfried. The first has a reputation for being a brilliant swordsman and a brute. The second is considered to be almost civilised by comparison.
- Sir Alaric also notices that one of the knights, Sir Garnier, is a brother Templar, and immediately leaps down from the tower and orders Mihor to bring the horses up. He is honour-bound to assist his comrade, and the rest of the coterie decide to aid him in doing so.
As the decision is made, the scarred bowman shoots his last arrow, catapulting Sir Garnier from his saddle. The Templar will be delayed from entering the battle.
- Sir Alaric, Mihor, Veceslav and Laszlo form up on their horses, while Gunthar ritter and Maude share a horse. Iulia elects to stay in the watchtower and cover them with her bow.
- The fight does not go well for the coterie. Sir Alaric conducts an almost flawless lance charge, but Siegfried sidesteps it with blinding speed, then leaps into the air and delivers a terrible blow that almost unseats the Lasombra. Mihor lands a telling blow on the Ventrue in response. Maude freezes Siegfried on Sir Alaric’s second pass, and the Templar almost drives his lance through the elder’s heart. An arrow from Iulia also finds its mark in Siegfried’s shoulder.
In response, Hrothulf closes the distance between he and Gunthar ritter’s horse with yet another display of Celerity and devastates the Gangrel and Cappadocian, hurling them from their horse and leaving the Gangrel incapacitated. Rather than fight further, Veceslav and Maude instead work to move Gunthar ritter to safety.
- Siegfried, noting the speed with which Sir Virgilio and Franz ritter were closing, pointed his sword at Sir Alaric and says, “Swear to cease your attack and you and your friends shall be spared.” Seeing the ease with which Siegfried and Hrothulf can destroy them in the next few moments, Sir Alaric accedes to the Ventrue’s demand.
- The two Ventrue then prepare for the charge of the Knights of Blood, whose ranks have been deeply thinned by Hrothulf’s marksmanship. Sir Garnier is one of the unhorsed knights. Meanwhile, Gunthar regains consciousness and drinks from the fallen horse, healing his wounds in the process.
- When it is clear that the Saxon intends to re-engage Hrothulf and Siegfried, Sir Alaric gives Sir Gunthar his horse and lance, as technically it isn’t breaking his word.
- Maude freezes Gunthar before he can attack. The others restrain him long enough to convince him to stay out of the fight.
- The elders ignore him, more concerned with the Knights of Blood. Sir Garnier enters the fight and lances Siegfried, almost impaling him through the heart. The elder strikes back, using his Dread Gaze to send the knight galloping away in fright.
- Hrothulf fights both Franz ritter and Sir Virgilio, hurling the second almost over the lip of the cliff to give him room to fight the first. Meanwhile Siegfried takes care of the horses and ghoul knights and squires.
- Franz ritter screams that Hrothulf “drank the soul of one of the greatest Romans that ever lived!” The Dane responds scornfully, “You didn’t know him. Marius was a pig. I’m glad that I ended him.” Hrothulf then slays the younger Ventrue.
- Meanwhile Sir Virgilio closes with celerity, and the wounded Siegfried struggles to keep the knight at bay.
- Hrothulf leaps to his friend’s rescue, and he and Sir Virgilio exchange a dazzling series of strokes.Both are clearly masters of the sword.
- Sir Garnier returns and Siegfried, already healing from his terrible wounds, beats the Templar down. De Cambrai does not go to the Final Death, but is clearly driven into torpor from his wounds.
- The Dane’s superior swordsmanship narrowly carries the night against the Blood Knight. He is inclined to execute Sir Virgilio at first, but then elects to drop the knight over the cliff. As he does so he murmurs, “Perhaps if your God is kind, you will survive to hunt us again…”
The fight over, the two elders accept the neutrality of the coterie and briefly speak with them before leaving. Siegfried explains that they are indeed diablerists, though their crimes were 700 years ago and the Knights of the Blood hunt them as ‘Daeva’ simply because of the wishes of hoary enemies that still carry the grudge.
- Siegfried was a Visigoth chieftain who fought at the Battle of Adrianople. He consumed the soul of Marcus Atilius Regulus while in frenzy soon after his Embrace. He is sorry for what he did, for Regulus was not a bad man, only a fool for not telling the young Visigoth chieftain what to expect of immortality. He made peace with himself over the act centuries ago, but the other Ventrue will not forgive.
- Hrothulf was Embraced a handful of years before Siegfried, though he seems to defer somewhat to the younger Ventrue’s leadership. He is not sorry for destroying Titus Marius Capito and taking his soul, for he was cruel, craven and depraved. The Dane had spent more than 50 years as the Roman’s blood bound slave,enduring indignity after indignity. It was in a moment of madness that the bond shattered, and he attacked Marius and his brother-in-blood Gracis Nostinus Bassus. He despises his fellow Ventrue for being slaves to their elders, and looks forward to showing them their weakness whenever they find him. The Knights of Blood destroyed his daughter-in-blood at Schaasburg, and he is glad to have avenged her.
- The two Ventrue take their leave, gathering the remaining enemy horses and riding after their herd.
- Maude conducts field surgery on the fallen mortals and Cainites, assisted by the Chrieglers, Iulia and Veceslav. They save a number of lives, and discover that Sir Garnier has not gone to the Final Death.
- Gunthar ritter is withdrawn, sullen and terse after the fight, and decides to see if Sir Virgilio survived the fall after all. He sets off to climb down the cliff.
- Sir Alaric and the ghouls police the dead, looking for weapons and salvageable armour.
- George Davras soon appears to Maude, saying that Gunthar ritter is thinking of diablerising Sir Virgilio if he finds him. The ‘strands of Fate’ indicate that if he finds the Ventrue intact, he is quite likely to do the deed.
- Having done what they can, the coterie (minus Iulia) swiftly use their powers to follow the Gangrel down the cliff. They soon confront him, but he is dismissive of their words. They search the river bed until sun up, before digging into the submerged rubble and passing the day in slumber.
Attendance: Gunthar ritter (Greg; xp3), Maude (Dave, xp3), Veceslav (Ben, xp3), Sir Alaric (Anthony, xp 3)