“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.”
[Lisa, 19. 08. 2016]
Emma invites Sinéad and Marcus to visit her mentor and Letho’s former brother-in-arms, Everard Hawke, who offered to share his information on the Sabbat raid in 1860 … though what they learn from him doesn’t seem to add up. He points out to them that the purpose of the attack, which only lasted a single night, is still unclear; the Sabbat obviously could not hold London and didn’t intend to lay siege to the city, though since so many of them were sacrificed, some kind of goal must have been behind it all. The targets hit in the raid seem random, with no crucially important Kindred being killed and no follow-up attacks despite the city’s weakened state. Heavy casualties were incurred by the Brujah and a large number of neonates were wiped out during the raid, but this still leaves the question as to the Sabbat’s goal unresolved.
Hawke also points out that the Sheriff vanished without a trace after obsessively investigating the raid and following up on every lead he could find; the fact that he disappeared is less puzzling to him than the fact that nobody found out when exactly it happened, since he was a powerful Gangrel who was hardly ever alone or without some means of communicating with his clanmates through animals nearby. The old crusader marks the locations of the attack on a map drawn by Marcus and answers their questions, though the party leaves him with a feeling that he didn’t say everything he knew or suspected.
The group reunites the next night in Marcus’ mansion, where they brood over the map, trying to find patterns in it and speculating wildly as to the Sabbat’s designs. The places of attack chosen seem perfectly logical, which strikes them as odd, since this implies a tactic straight from a textbook – certainly not something a seasoned strategist would use when attacking one of the strongholds of the Camarilla. Just as their speculation turns toward the Tremere’s participation in the raid and the conclusion emerges that they are missing some piece of information crucial to solving this puzzle, Marcus surprises the ladies by drawing a rose on the corner of the map while in an absent-minded trance. He tells them a story he heard somewhat recently, that a box with a rose just like this one on it was shipped to the city before the Sabbat raid and disappeared without a trace, including all those accompanying it, including a Toreador neonate who had taken interest in it and was killed in the raid. According to Marcus, a different Toreador by the name Henry reported spotting this very box recently. After their discussion resumes for a moment, they agree to investigate this matter further, especially the issue of the mystery box and its contents, and part ways for the night.
Having arranged a meeting prior to this night, Emma travels to the Third Elysium to speak with Molly, another of her clanmates with a striking personality, and they chat amicably for a time. It has been some time since the last official clan meeting, and Molly mentions that Atticus wants to host another one at an unspecificed time during May, in warmer yet still longer nights, and the conversation briefly turns towards Emma’s encounter with the ghostly apparition before they get to business. Emma offers to feature newsworthy stories in her paper that Molly learns about and would like to receive more attention so that justice can be served; they come to an angreement, as Molly promises to pass along interesting tidbits she hears about that she feels need to be brought to the public more directly than they currently are.
It turns out that Molly is participating in the city’s competiton for a new Sheriff, and Emma curiously inquires whether she is making significant progress in her quest to find out what happened to the old Sheriff, interested due to the fact that Letho was friends with the man. While her clanmate doesn’t offer much new information about this, she lets slip that she believes violent crime has dropped off in the city recently – and when Emma digs deeper, asking whether she noticed this drop-off before the raid in 1860 as well, Molly becomes decidedly vague. The impression that she knows more than she lets on doesn’t leave Emma after this meeting, and she decides to take this matter to a reliable private investigator she has had her eye on for some time.
Meanwhile, Sinéad notices that the missing valuables she inquired about with the Nosferatu are being delivered to her home. She leaves her home, where her childe Julian and Blanche seem to get along quite well, to meet up with Shrew. However, things don’t turn out quite as planned, as on her way to the Gangrel’s place, a figure catches her attention … her sire, who seems strangely interested in a house nearby, and sneaks around to its back door. Torn between continuing along to the meeting and finding out what her sire could possibly be up to, Sinéad decides to stop and investigate the matter further. She breaks into the house swiftly and while looking for her sire finds a sleeping girl, with red curls flowing onto her pillow and a doll tightly in her arms that looks to be some kind of warrior or pirate. The sight gives her pause, yet with her sire nowhere in the room, she turns to the window – only to find him down on the street, heading into London. Unwilling to lose his trail, the Ravnos throws caution to the wind and jumps out of the girl’s window, but to no avail. She turns a corner and her sire has disappeared, nowhere to be found. Was this really her sire, here in London, and for what purpose? Or was it a hallucination, a vision like the ones she has been seeing for some time now due to a prank by Marcus gone awry? Doubting herself, Sinéad continues on her way, the event and its potential ramifications still lingering at the back of her mind.
Shrew turns out to be helpful to Sinéad, charting the route of the Tremere party during the Sabbat raid as she can remember it, since she accompanied the Tremere primogen and her group. She also points out that only a few people are left who were part of this group, as the other Tremere have left the city some time ago; they have been replaced with others, of course, but except for Harlow, the Tremere who aided in the capture and killing of Sabbat during the raid are unavailable for questioning about it. With this lead coming up relatively unfruitful for her, Sinéad decides to pursue the other party that had survivors – the Sheriff’s – and arranges a meeting with a Ventrue who accompanied them.
Marcus is paid a visit by Belinda, who comes to request he stay his hand in a matter involving his childe Christopher; the lady claims that he violated her domain, and though the two of them have already reached an angreement about this, she feels that he should still be taught a lesson – non-lethal, as she assures his sire. She makes this request to prevent any further escalation, as she would have to involve her clan elders if Marcus decided to take action himself, which she would like to avoid. As a gesture of goodwill, Belinda offers to share information about Christopher that he himself might not be willing to share, which Marcus dismisses; how deep could this knowledge be, after all? Still, the Ventrue surprises him by describing several rooms of his mansion in great detail just from hearsay alone, and opts to share a comedical story she heard while in India about a Ventrue with golden hair who came to visit his clanmates. Apparently, the poor fellow got caught up in quite the culture shock, as he maneuvred himself into a number of embarrassing situations due to miscommunication; although both he and the locals acted with an open mind and friendly manner, their different cultural expectations culminated in the foreign Ventrue running away from an engagement he had unknowingly entered into, offending everyone else in the process. Belinda claims that this story has several different endings, wherein the Ventrue either flees, accepts his fate, or is haunted by the lady he unwittingly insulted who seeks to restore her honor.
After a short pause to think, Marcus answers in kind by sharing a story about his meeting with a Tzimisce lord whose identity he obfuscates before he switches the topic in an attempt to make small talk. Belinda proves to be somewhat unresponsive to this, so he returns to the subject of his childe with a temporary promise to stay his hand and reserve judgment of the lesson she intends to teach Christopher for a time, though he makes it clear that he would be happy to talk to her clan elders should he feel the punishment for Christopher is disproportionate to the offense. Belinda takes her leave shortly afterwards, though not before recommending Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” which is currently being performed in the city, as she finds the actors performing it at night worthy of praise.
Concerned about the matter thus brought to his attention, Marcus talks with Christopher the next night, who seems barely concerned with Belinda’s claims and barely veiled threats. He shows polite disinterest in the matter, obviously distracted by something entirely different – and beneath his facade, even traumatized by whatever occupies his thoughts.