The Concord of Ashes
For the consequences of the search for Sir Virgilio di Canobio, read the Interlude titled “On the river bank below the tower” (Scenes by email section).
Plans, Measures and Progress
- George is careful to relay every word of his confrontation with Gunthar ritter. All are shocked to discover the degree to which Gunthar has speculated on how he might slay his “so-called friends”, even as a “philosophical exercise in power”.
- Veceslav, Maude, Iulia, Sir Alaric and George discuss what must be done with regards to Gunthar ritter, or Bernhard as he now wishes to be called. A consensus is reached that while they should not consider him an enemy, they clearly cannot trust him and must take measures to ensure their security and safety.
- Construction work is carried out on the door of the secret room under the stairs. Two brackets are added, and heavy beams are fitted so the door can be secured from the inside as the Cainite’s retire for the morning. A permanent guard station is also established in the room outside.
- The construction of the tower continues apace over the next fortnight. The ground floor is completed, thus providing a ceiling for the lower level.
- Manfred returns to the tower, troubled by his failing courtship of Sophia frau von Rothügel. He takes counsel with Maude, stating that the old nun is the only Cainite here that he respects and trusts as a true friend to the mortals.
- He says that he is easily superior to most of the other suitors. However, his rival, Burgrave Radu, is winning over Sophia, in spite of her secret professions of love for Manfred. Sophia also appears to be weakening, as if the stress of the attentions of her suitors is taking a toll on her.
- The counsel of an occasional visitor, a French lady by the name of Arianne, has been of comfort to Sophia. Arianne’s advice has allowed the girl to play her suitors off against each other, giving her some breathing space.
- Maude reveals to Manfred that Radu and Arianne are, in fact, vampires. Not only that, but it is likely that Radu has fed from Sophia a number of times, and perhaps even made her his ghoul, given her increasingly slavish devotion.
- The young man’s initial bewilderment at Radu’s daylight appearances and Arianne’s games with the lives of mortals swiftly gives way to rage at hearing of the blood bond. He paces about the room, ranting recriminations about the race of Caine, which Maude, in all honesty, cannot refute.
- She does, however, caution patience and the value of making a good plan over acting rashly and stupidly.
A visit from a rival
- Three visitors approach the tower, dressed as knights. One in the lead carries a white baton, and he introduces himself as Mathias ritter von Bamberg, of Clan Ventrue. The other knights are members of his entourage.
- Mathias ritter and his men enter the camp. One accepts food and drink while the other keeps watch, not even removing his helmet. The Ventrue explains that he is here to build a tower on behalf of the Arpad Prince of Pressburg!
- He is duly impressed that the coterie hazarded the arduous winter journey, as he and his coterie had prepared assiduously during that time and prepared their route through the Polish lands to avoid the worst of the Voivodes. Mathias and his men entered Transylvania many miles west of the Pass, and were currently encamped outside Bistritz. There they were informed that they were too late, and by months at that! He had to come and see for himself, and extend his compliments.
- Mathias ritter and the coterie exchanged news of the hardships of their respective journeys. For their part, the coterie spoke of the Brujah of the Banat, the strained relationship with the Nosferatu of Hermannstadt and the strange audience with Nova Arpad. They also communicated the danger of Klausenburg.
- Mathias thanked them for their news, and told them of the dangers of travelling through Poland, and the feuding Gangrel and Tzimisce knezates there. Indeed, without the smooth words of their Gangrel (!) diplomat, Mathias fears that they would not have made it at all.
- He indicates that in addition to he and the Gangrel, his companions number another Ventrue, a Cappadocian and a Toreador. He takes their own names and lineages with interest and cordiality, then thanks them for the warning about Klausenburg, and also promises to look in on the strangeness in the court of Nova Arpad, since they would be headed that way anyway.
- At length, Mathias ritter and his men take their leave the same night, and he says he looks forward to striving against them in future, since he and his sword-brothers plan to stay in the Siebenburgen as well. The coterie (minus the absent Bernhard) find him to be very amiable, but worry at what he and his coterie might get up to in future. Will they remain on friendly terms, or become foes?
The Ravnos gather
- The coterie awakens to the sounds of merriment and activity. Vassily Taltos, the Ravnos diplomat, has arrived at the construction project. He asks for their hospitality and explains that he carries missives from their sires. Vassily also says that one of his kin would soon arrive from the north, and with their permission the Ravnos would like to stay for a few nights and conduct their business.
- He and his kumpaniya set up outside the walls, and the herd and workers venture out to enjoy the entertainment and trade that the gypsies offer. Vassily tells them the rules of the camp, which they respect.
- Later in the night, another kumpaniya arrives. These are more like the Rus than Vassily’s kin, though both groups greet each other warmly. The leader of this Kumpaniya is called Durga Syn. She is a crone, even older and more hideous than Maude. The Cappadocian and Ravnos witch’s take an immediate shine to each other.
Vassily says that she is an ancilla but greets Durga like an elder. Some of the coterie get the distinct impression that he is having a joke at their expense.
- Durga claims to be a meddler, who works to force other Cainites not to be leeches on humanity. She works through numerous intermediaries (such as Vassily) to keep abreast of developments in Cainite politics, and she then acts to influence them from afar. Her jati, the Berehynia, tend to follow her lead, and have made enemies of the Rus Nosferatu, Tzimisce and Gangrel that serve the Ancient known as Baba Yaga.
- Durga was a sorceress and priestess in life. She dealt with the fey and the werewolves to keep the balance of nature on Moist Mother Earth. She was cursed by Baba Yaga for refusing to work for her, and the Berehynia saved her. She now tries to save as many mortals as she can by mitigating and ameliorating the worst excesses of the Children of Caine. She speaks like she still has allies among the fey and magic workers, but any friends she may have had among the wolves turned on her long ago.
- The gypsies are on reasonably good behaviour, and the coterie and their mortal entourage have a very fine time at the camp. The two gypsy companies remain for three or four days, and a good time is had by all. Durga uses her ‘sorcery’ (read: charlatanry) to tell the fortunes of the individual gypsies of Vassily’s Kumpaniya, telling them nothing but good about their future and sending them off with smiles on their faces and hope in their hearts.
- Maude is very impressed with Durga Syn, and hopes to find a way to be useful to the Ravnos in future, the better to expand her ability to aid humanity against the worst vampires. Iulia is also impressed, though she remains much more guarded around the Ravnos elder, who returns the favour.
- Veceslav spends considerably more time with Vassily, hearing of the political developments from the Arpad and Voivodate courts. He realised that this gypsy would make a useful contact, being able to travel between and through enemy courts.
- Sir Alaric and the ghouls spend their time ensuring that the peace is kept with all of the mortals milling about.
- Meanwhile, Bernhard ritter is busy travelling to the mountains west of the tower project. A little bird has told him that the Gangrel are about to Gather, and he decides that it is time that they knew him.
Attendance: Maude (Dave, xp3), Veceslav (Ben, xp2)
Absent: Bernhard von Billung (Greg; xp0), Sir Alaric (Anthony, xp 0)