Arcanum Enlightenment Special: Another Man's Cage

AD 1786, Scotland, Edinburgh. As the construction of the New Town is under way, the city finds itself undergoing a dynamic shift where the values and morals of its inhabitants are concerned. The important question of the purpose of an individual’s existence is heard repeated in the halls of the learned and Old Town houses alike, as the Scottish Enlightenment slowly winds down, on its way into obscurity…

Edinburgh – the mismatched city!

A city where the poorest live alongside the wealthiest, much to the latter’s dismay. In the midst of a major development project, designed to impose proper borders between the classes, Edinburgh was at the time perhaps even more hectic than ever before.

Our heroes arrived to Scotland separately: Marcus – because he was spoiling Chris rotten, as usual, Riina, looking for extra money, and Sinéad – also on business, but at least a partially less clandestine one. At the time of their arrival, a fête was just about to begin, with the famous, much revered poet Robert Burns as the star of the show.

Marcus and Chris were invited into the home of a Scottish nobleman in Edinburgh. The man’s architect son, and Chris’s (who had never heard of Stranger Danger or the Internet) mortal pen pal, wanted to design a building that would stand on the family’s land somewhere in the Scottish moors, and asked for a Chris’s opinion and partner ship. Excited, Chris agreed to visit, and Marcus, naturally, allowed his childe to drag him along. In fact, while Chris rode out to inspect the property, Marcus got the shorter end of the stick and was left in Edinburgh to entertain the nobleman and his three daughters, the youngest of which, Rolanda, had taken quite a shining to the dashing, fashionable gentleman.

On the same night, Sinéad, having arrived to the port town of Leith with her ships, was greeted in Edinburgh by her official guide to the city, Alastair, a friendly, courteous Toreador, who gave her a tour around the diverse sights of Edinburgh.

Less officially and quite anonymously, Riina arrived in Edinburgh, as by recommendation of her Primogen of the place she currently inhabits (totally not London), as she wanted to quickly multiply her monetary funds. She found the man she was looking for – a clanmate, one Father Albert – distributing goods to the city’s poorest folk; there she also spotted Sinéad, whom she had not seen in centuries but always remembered fondly. The Ravnos’s companion appeared quite vigilant, and thus Riina decided to postpone the meeting. Instead, she waited until Father Albert stopped giving charity and approached him. After telling him her reasons for visiting, she found him quite sympathetic to her cause to build a school for mortals in London. Father Albert even provided her with a helpful hit list of people he’d like to see robbed off their last penny, and additionally informed her that, for security reasons, the local Tremere would be busy at the fête; he also most unyieldingly outlined the exact location of the chantry.

However, as he did not want her to leave empty-handed (no one leaves Father Albert’s church empty-handed), he offered several interesting items to the itinerant clanmate: a painting, a suspicious iron key, a slightly mouldy tapestry (perhaps one of those made by Count Kalman’s wife, one that showed some interesting things about the portrayed people), a Tzimisce in a box, and various other knick-knacks. Interest piqued, she directed her steps towards the catacombs. Father Albert, before leaving her alone to inspect the finding, shared that the poor, probably young, man was annoyed with the Tremere who had migrated into town some time ago and retired to rest there at the church. Riina indeed found a box and removed it delicately from the recess. Inside, she found a figure of a man, wrapped up in a shroud and deep in the grip of torpor. After a brief inspection, she noted with surprise that she knew the gentleman – it was Vilmos, the Tzimisce archmage she’d met back in the day, when she but a neonate; last time they spoke, she apologised for questioning his ability to sexually satisfy the lady of his heart. (If only she had known that the story of a love-sick Tzimisce was still very much alive at the time!)

Riina wondered if perhaps the gentleman would like to wake up, and so she mentioned Vienna and Lady Alyss, but all she received for her efforts was but an eye twitch or two. Vilmos didn’t awake, or at least pretended he did not. And so Riina, decided to fall asleep right there, in the catacombs, by the body of a sleeping Tzimisce in a box.

Meanwhile, Sinéad and Marcus, who had left the house of his gracious hosts, stumbled upon each other in the inn of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, where Marcus wished to book a room, and Sinéad – join a lively party that was apparently in full swing after one of the Society’s meetings. Sinéad, her Toreador guide, and Marcus then encounter another kindred gentleman, who introduces himself as John Mallory; Marcus identifies the gentleman as one who had, several centuries before, quarrelled with John Dee of the Tremere. Alastair held an obvious dislike for Mallory, and it did not help matters that the group found him drinking alcohol alone in large quantities. Nevertheless, introductions were made and the group proceed to get the mortals in the room blind drunk for sport, by buying several rounds each. In addition, Sinéad gave a riveting singing performance to the drunken scholars, inspiring them to forgo their dreams of flying (from the first floor window) for ones of sailing the seven seas on overturned table and some chairs.

The next night, the weather outside was slowly got colder, with snow falling down in big, messy flakes, presenting a fine Scottish April evening to the newcomers. Sinéad and Marcus woke up to see that their interference had yielded results – the party had entered a phase where a half of the participants were still drunk and the other half were drunk again. Marcus went to pay a visit the nobleman’s family, eagerly awaiting Chris’s return; Rolanda, the youngest daughter, held a hope that the dashing young man visiting their house was not only going to attend the the fashionable fête, but also that he might bring her along. He did not have to feign a disreputable, severe hangover (from one of the infamous celebrations of the Society which he’d incidentally attended) for very long, as soon enough Chris made an appearance, with the family’s slightly inebriated son in tow. And so Marcus and Chris bid goodnight to the company and left, not intending to join the celebrations in the city at all. On their way back to the inn, Chris divulged his plans to temporary move to Scotland, in order to complete the project with his friend, as the inspection yielded promising results.

Meanwhile, Sinéad headed to Leith to inspect how her men were doing, only to discover some disturbing news – apparently, sentries and messengers for Edinburgh had all been waylaid and could not be located. Paired with the knowledge that the city’s kindred were busy at the fête, made Sinéad, a former Sheriff in a Camarilla city, suspect a possible imminent Sabbat attack. She hurried back to town to alert the local Sheriff. She came back to town, where she located her Toreador guide, Marcus together with Chris and told them about a possible incoming attack. They agreed that the Sheriff must be warned, but on their way there, they heard a panicked cry coming from a nearby alley. The four, suspecting it might be connected to the Sabbat force moving in to attack, decided that the best defence is offence and entered the alley to give fight, there they found three kindred and a single mortal…

Hours before, on the same night, Riina woke up wrapped in a shroud and stuck in a box. Apparently, Lord Vilmos had awakened the previous night after all and decided to leave before the Nosferatu awoke; Father Albert helpfully provided him with some clothing. Riina wasn’t very worried, as she knew Vilmos was quite powerful (she had found that out first-hand), and as he had not frenzied the very moment he opened his eyes, there was little worry he’d disturb the city. Thus, after a brief conversation about the newly-awakened Tzimisce with Father Albert, Riina took her Robin Hood list and proceeded to rob some unsavoury people, quickly amassing a small fortune.

After a while, when she was stashing her loot in Father Albert’s church, she saw a group of people she recognised as her old companions – not only Sinéad, but also Marcus; surprised at the amount of truly old acquaintances she had met during those two nights, she only noticed that the group was preparing for a fight with another group of kindred she surmised might be Sabbat. However, she decided that it’d be best if she got rid of the cart full of incriminating evidence first and then assisted her old companions. She alerted Father Albert of the trouble in the city and hurried to help.

Back and the alley, the fight had begun, but before Marcus and Sinéad could have done anything to stop them, the interlopers had managed to do harm – the youngest daughter of the nobleman Marcus and Chris had visited was being fed upon by a kindred who was quite obviously of the Tzimisce clan, not intent on stopping before the girl died. She had presumably snuck out to follow Marcus and Chris to the fête and had caught the attention of the Sabbat kindred. The heroes sprang into action – the fight was short and brutal, with Sinéad effortlessly dispatching the Tzimisce with her sword, even as a cloud of Obtenebration descended upon all; sadly, because of the darkness Rolanda, lifeless and still bleeding, was lost from sight. As the last of the Sabbat strike force, the Lasombra, was making an escape with a clever use of Obtenebration, Sinéad followed, while Chris, Marcus, and Alastair (the Toreador) stayed to assist the dying girl. Unfortunately, too much blood had already been lost, and the consequences of sharing vitae with her would have had unpredictable consequences; Marcus and Chris were faced with a difficult choice, but the Toreador mad a swift decision to take the girl to a hospital.

Meanwhile, Sinéad caught up with the Lasombra, and after a brief session of interrogation peppered with torture, managed to piece the story together: it turned out the Sabbat had found out that there was a Tzimisce elder with incredible powers sleeping in a nearby church; however, when the Sabbat force arrived that very night, the Tzimisce was nowhere to be found. The current group was left behind as sentries and, if need would arise, provide diversion for the main force; the leader of the group had escaped when he had been catapulted out of the alley by the Toreador’s quick Celerity strike; the same leader who was at the moment being stalked by Riina.

The Nosferatu arrived late and saw a cloud of Obtenebration in the alley and a trail of footprints in the freshly-fallen snow leading to a house nearby. She quickly followed and upon entering the house, she found that there was apparently no one there. And so, the waiting game of "they have to break Obfuscate at some point” began; soon enough, a suspicious individual tried to escape by using the window, but after a miserably short chase, was captured and interrogated. As the leader of the Sabbat group happened to be her clanmate, Riina not only did not torture the poor soul, she let him go without much fuss.

With two separate interrogations (and a staked Lasombra for proof), a question still lingered: if the group was just part of the rear guard, where was the main force of attack?

Sinéad, Marcus, and Chris found out sooner rather than later – upon following the tip given by the Lasombra (and the pattern of weather anomalies), they arrived back at Marcus’s inn by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. They were met with quite a sight – a powerful whirlwind of icy air formed a barrier between the streets and the inn, and more than a dozen of kindred lay staked before the establishment, others hiding behind a hastily-erected barricade. Two kindred sat in the open windows of the inn – the cheerful and already a bit tipsy-looking John Mallory in one and the venerable Tzimisce sorcerer Vilmos in the other; the mortal members of the Society, still drunk and getting drunker still, cheered from upstairs, not minding the Masquerade breach too much.

As Mallory waved at Sinéad and her group, exclaiming cheerfully, they were allowed to proceed to the inn unmolested by the ice and wind. Once inside, introductions were made and tentative acquaintances acknowledged, while it slowly became apparent for all members of the group why exactly the alliance was so unusual – the gentleman calling himself John Mallory was, in fact, a member of clan Tremere. Vilmos, still weakened after waking from torpor and fending off the Sabbat attack, discreetly addressed Marcus via Auspex, asking him to assist with an escape, but for one reason or another, the Malkavian’s Obfuscate attempt failed. Vilmos, resigned, silently negotiated an agreement with Mallory, who conceded to some unknown terms. Sinéad and Marcus found themselves Dominated to claim, in case of interrogation, that Mallory had been too exhausted from fighting the Sabbat to stop Vilmos’s escape from the city.

Outside, the remainder of the Sabbat force was decidedly mauled, but persisted in looking for openings in the inn’s defence; Riina, intent on assisting her erstwhile companions, crept to the barricade, where she spied the attackers; they were obviously dispirited, not counting the woman barking orders. The Nosferatu identified her as the Archbishop’s childe – the ringleader who had been so intent on “meeting and talking” to the Tzimisce elder. After some brief consideration of her options, Riina decided to destroy the barrier that kept the blizzard at bay. She pulverised the barricade, escaping quickly, just in time to avoid the river of fire that swept over the leader (courtesy of clan Ravnos), prompting another panicked bout of Obtenebration; when the darkness dissipated, both the remaining force and a good portion of bodies lining the snow were nowhere to be found. Riina, having broken Obfuscate anyway, proceeded to the inn to greet her old allies and pay her respects to Vilmos.

Only to find a Tremere inside with them.

When it became clear as to who is who in the room, with Riina being recognised as a wanted woman, Mallory pledged not to reveal the Nosferatu’s involvement in the incident for a week. He also mentioned that the reward for Riina’s head was quite considerable (in his words: “you’d be able to purchase half of London with the bounty for her head!”), which was, according to him, for the large part because of her involvement in a series of assassinations and Sabbat coups that had happened a while ago in several cities in southern Europe and France, where Clan Tremere had previously held major influence. Riina, however, had no recollection of being part of the spree, and denied having any links to the Sabbat. Though she did admit to have killed numerous Tremere in the past, she stressed that it had been “a long time ago, when it was still legal to do so."

The company disbanded short after, and Riina disappeared the very next night, stopping only to share her hard-earned loot with Father Albert.



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