Arcanum

17. In Her Wake

Earth, stream and tree encircled by sea
Waves sweep the sand from my island.
My sunsets fade.
Field and glade wait only for rain
Grain after grain love erodes my
High weathered walls which fend off the tide
Cradle the wind
to my island

[Lisa, 5. 3. 17]

Sinead spends some time talking with Marylyn and manages to alienate the Salubri slightly before turning to Aaron to discuss their strategy for the upcoming fight. They are interrupted when their carriage comes to a halt in the harbor, and as Marylyn goes aboard a ship waiting for her, Sinead recognizes a Kindred among the Sabbat near the vessel as a woman whom she had previously seen in a photograph at Marcus’ mansion, where she posed together with him. She doesn’t get a chance to talk to this person, though, as both she and Aaron are taken back to the Sabbat’s lair by Moira, who states that they have to wait for the following night to act. Using the brief window of time they have before the sunrise, Sinead inquires about Stepano, and Moira tells her that he very romantically gave his heart to her for all eternity. After another brief discussion about their plan for the next night, they are forced into slumber as the sun rises.

Back in London proper, Emma wakes up to find Hawke busily barricading the door to her haven, using the floor boards and whatever else he could scrounge to fortify their defenses. After a brief lecture on the lack of safety in her haven, they decide that they might as well try and look for any Sabbat still left in the city to get rid of and make their way towards a church in order to climb its tower, though Emma requests they stop by the second Elysium on their way, as she wants to pick up her blade before any fights ensue.

In the first Elysium, Marcus awakens and finds it empty except for its Keeper, who is reading a newspaper and mentions that while the Sabbat fought in the market square and city center, the media appears not to have reported anything about it. Langley informs him about the results of the attack: the Tremere primogen died and quite a few other Kindred were injured, including Atticus, though it appears that the majority of the Sabbat or at least what was still left of it has retreated from the city.
When he returns to his mansion, he finds Incitatus prancing about outside and a very drunk Christopher having a pity party by himself. After some prodding, he reveals that during the Sabbat raid, he saw his mortal sister among the Sabbat Kindred and had to forcefully prevent Gabriel from attacking her when they came to blows. He seems hurt, disheartened and confused, and while Marcus does his best to change that, first by distracting him with the story surrounding the box and the Salubri they found inside, then by trying to console him and offering help in his quest for vengeance against his sister’s sire, his efforts show very little results. In the end, Marcus escorts Chris to one of his rooms so he can rest for a while and inquires with Charles about the guest Sinead asked him to pick up.

At the second Elysium, Emma and Hawke find only a few people discussing last night’s events, whom they quickly join in conversation; Emma also notices five Malkavians sitting together at a table and silently staring at a coin, and wonders aloud what they could possibly be doing. As it turns out, the Nosferatu helpfully explains that they are trying to decide their new primogen. While Talbott didn’t die during the events of the last night, it appears they believe he will resign from his post soon. The conversation soon turns towards last night’s dragon hunt, and they learn that de Worde was injured in the fight when the Tzimisce opened a crater full of lava in the sewers, and that the Tremere primogen died in the scuffle. They also learn that at least two Ventrue died during the night, one of them in a spectacular fashion as his mansion was completely burned to the ground. Hawke then decides that before they leave, they should have a drinking game with stories being told, which he uses to sneak in questions about the previous night that seem innocuous enough but provide more details on the events that transpired. All of the Nosferatu were involved in one way or another in the fight, the Prince made an appearance in the market square to talk to Joshua about something before leaving again, and it seems to have been an objective-related fight. This leads to the conclusion that the Sabbat have achieved some objective, and that neither the Prince nor the Nosferatu really seemed to mind this fact, as apparently their own objective didn’t conflict with the Sabbat’s, which makes it likely that the whole affair was not a Sabbat-Camarilla conflict at all, but something entirely else.
When they have learned all they can, they excuse themselves and make their way to Emma’s haven, where she writes a curse to the demon and the Sabbat on the wall in ink and holds up her sword to it, yelling at the weapon that the demon should take a really good look at the message. After questions from Hawke, Emma explains that the sword is cursed and allows the demon to watch her through it, to which her mentor tells her to take it with her to their destination. They also find boxes full of animals in her haven, with live rats and mice, which Hawke sets free outside, as well as a box of dead sparrows.
They finally reach the Catholic cathedral that Hawke chose to view the city from above, and while they find no signs of fires or other riots while overlooking London, they do meet a friend of his once they climb back down. Hawke introduces the priest as Lambert and asks him whether he could do something about Emma’s demonically cursed sword. After examining it, the priest proposes to conduct an exorcism on the blade, to which Emma readily agrees, and they immediately proceed with it.

Meanwhile, in the Sabbat lair, the small group makes their way through the similarly-looking corridors of the maze-like structure and find after a while that they are stuck in an endlessly looping corridor. They notice that its length is different for each of them, and Aaron comments that it must have been set up hastily and may come down crashing on them at any moment if they mess with it. Still, as there is no alternative, he kneels down at the point they determine to be the start of the loop and sets the carpet on fire by turning the stone floor beneath it into lava for a brief moment, which breaks the spell and allows them to finally approach the summoning room, where the Tremere are already waiting for them. Combat ensues, and the Tremere manage to trap Moira in one of their circles and turn her to stone, at which point Margot says that she’ll allow Aaron and Sinead to leave. However, Aaron decides to refuse this offer and charges at Margot; he is stopped by the other Tremere before he reaches her, though not before he manages to enter the circle trapping Moira and freeing the demon from her stone prison. She promptly possesses Aaron and uses him to summon an active volcano in the circle itself, which Margot manages to partially disspell before she dies.
However, before the demon can proceed to slaughter the rest of those present, a confused and surprised expression crosses the face of her host as his body disintegrates into dust – just as Lambert finishes the exorcism of the blade successfully and returns it to Emma.
The fight immediately ceases as none of those present understand what just transpired, though they agree to leave the place as soon as possible and go their separate ways. Sinead manages to find Stepano, though not his heart, and drags his body with her out of the Sabbat’s lair. One of the remaining Tremere opened a path for her to return to London, which leads her to the tower bridge and to freedom.

Back at his mansion, Marcus enters the room that was set aside for Norton and finds it empty, with the windows wide open. Before he can call for a search for the man, he follows a hunch and checks beneath the bed, where he finds him hiding away. Norton is utterly unresponsive at first, though Marcus notices the obvious signs of the kind of withdrawal only a ghoul experiences on his face and does his best to convince him that he wants to help him. After a failed attempt at persuading him to drink a cup of herbal tea, the Malkavian explains the withdrawal process in more detail and assures him that there are no strings attached to his help. Norton mentions that he cannot concentrate long enough to do anything but manual labor and asks for tasks that he could perform that include crushing things. Marcus tells him that he will find him something suitable, but excuses himself and finds that he has received a package addresses specifically to him, which contains a painting. It’s a landscape of London, though in a different style and hand than the paintings he previously received, and he finds a strong impression of smugness when he examines it using Auspex, as well as a not quite successful imprint of a memory from the long-ago past which hints at something ugly lying in store hidden within the painting.

Comments

Emma: What a busy night. And such a nice one, too! I can’t believe that nothing exploded in my face tonight. In fact, not just did things not explode, I actually benefited enormously from what I learned tonight. If I put the information that Hawke got from the gathering in the second Elysium into context, it does shine an interesting light on the events of the last month or so. Considering what I heard from Gabriel, I think I may be able to piece together most of everything that happened last night if I dig a little deeper – or, if I am lucky, find something juicy in the process. I would love to know who decided to literally backstab the Sheriff in the middle of a Sabbat attack, and for what reasons. That information could turn out to be worth quite a bit to some people in the city. Even if I don’t figure that out, I may still be able to use the knowledge I gained today to track down the bastard who killed my sire or at least where the rest of them disappeared to. I will have to ask Sinead and Marcus for what exactly happened after I left the first Elysium, but I can’t say I regret not being present for whatever happened. It was a trade of one bit of insight for another.

All that aside, though, I’m extremely happy that Lambert managed to get rid of the curse on Letho’s sword. I will have to find a way to thank him properly for that, and Hawke as well – if it weren’t for him, I would have never met this priest. Of course I can’t know for sure the blade is safe now, but if he only put on an act, it was a very convincing one, and I want to believe that everything worked out in the end. It might seem a very minor thing, to be able to use this blade again, but it means so much to me to not have lost it to my own foolishness. There are only few things I have to remember Letho by, and his sword is not just an object with fond memories, but a proof that he cared for my safety – and taught me to defend myself with this very blade. I would have been heartbroken if I had to destroy it.

17. In Her Wake
 

Sinead: I am free. I have failed at everything but regaining my freedom. I was sure I will die this night. Somehow, I did not. I have no clue what happened and I am not sure if I want to learn.

It dawned on me, just as I left and sized the situation. I have achieved nothing and have nothing. There is Francis, who probably thinks of me as of business associate, or a cheap and effective tool to be more precise. Julian hates me. I am my sire’s disappointment, not that I care about him much. I may have a few friends left in Amsterdam, but most people were happy to have me gone. Hal is the only one that has genuine sympathy and cares for me at all.

I’ve been engine of chaos all my life. I run headfirst all the time and if I got myself into trouble, I run. I wanted adventure and I wanted to shine. I didn’t care what I leave in my wake. I destroyed everything, including my own life.

Right now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t have a slightest clue. Nothing keeps me in London. This place was and still a source of roaring disappointment. I think I should simply leave, but I don’t want to run anymore. I need some time to think it through and cool down.

17. In Her Wake
thelibrarycat

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