AD 1656. Travelling through what once was a Republic and now is the Grand Duchy of Toskany, you look surprised at the changes that have come over Italy as apocalyptic news spread left and right. The great plague sweeping through Naples is on everybody’s mind and you can see that people look at the southern road with distrust and fear and at you, taking that very road to Rome, as if you were mad men. You hear whispers of terrible accidents having happened from the table where merchants coming down from Milan seat and gossip of bloody riots erupting in this or that city of old Rome circulating all around the common room. Apparently, even it’s old capital of Ravenna did not manage to avoid bad luck. No city did… except for Venice.
Still, the inns are as full as ever, and, as always, a good place to encounter the unlikely and the bizarre. With the city of Florence being next on your way, you prepare to continue on your way, to glorious Rome and the unknown dark corridors of Vatican, mapped on an old, tarnished piece of paper.
Year 1656. Bianca and Marcus decided to take a break from their nightly routines and embarked on a picturesque journey across Italy. Having visited the university of Padua and numerous sites connected to ancient Rome, the two stopped in a luxurious inn near Florence, where they chose to rest for the day.
There, the following night, they met a suspicious kindred gentleman, who joined them after eavesdropping on a conversation ridiculing one “scientific society” that was being formed in Florence. After a brief exchange, the two travelers reluctantly agreed for their new acquaintance, Apollonius, and his cat, Vally, to accompany them on their journey into the city, which was known for its rich cultural life, beautiful architecture and many mysteries.
Upon arrival, Bianca embarked on an immediate quest to investigate the local sewer system, hoping to introduce new infrastructure to Boston. During her search for the entrance, she encountered a concerned Italian architect who, in the course of the conversation, revealed that he was just going to attend the gathering of the new scientific society. Excited by the prospect, Bianca convinced the gentleman to allow her and her husband to join.
Back at the inn, overhearing that Bianca, already with Marcus in tow, were about to leave for the meeting, Apollonius chose to accompany them and introduce himself as their cousin. After an awkward but thankfully brief exchange at the society’s door, the three were at last admitted inside to meet the scholars of Florence.
There, hoping to conceal his lack of scientific experience, Marcus politely explained that he was a freelance anatomist, and that Bianca was his well-educated wife – much to everybody’s surprise. While the two struggled with nonexistent knowledge and prejudice against women, Apollonius had an opportunity to save the day and shine with his expertise in the field that would soon become chemistry.
After the society was formally established, the foreign visitors were invited to a celebratory dinner, which gave them an opportunity to discuss a number of fascinating topics raging from Italian cuisine to mining. While Bianca was doing her best to convince the esteemed gentlemen to treat her and her research seriously, Marcus’ attention was caught by Apollonius’ accurate description of a town he recognized as Temesvar. That, combined with an earlier revelation that “Vally” was in fact short for Valerianus, prompted him to believe that the dubious traveler was in fact Riina in disguise.
When the meeting was at last coming to a close, the topic of the new opera house and an upcoming performance resurfaced, gaining mixed reactions from the group, especially after the architect, known only as “Camilla” mentioned his concerns regarding the event’s security.
However, against their better judgement, the travelers made a last minute decision to experience the recent artistic invention. The following evening, they purchased tickets for the event, hoping to use the occasion to introduce themselves to the local Prince.
After the performance, the three began their search for the local ruler whom they had missed before. Noticing two separate groups of kindred, they split, with Riina leaving the auditorium, and Marcus and Bianca staying behind to talk with a man and a woman who also appeared to be looking for something.
The woman introduced herself as Tamara of clan Toreador, and informed the two that unfortunately, his highness, her sire, had not attended the spectacle for unspecified reasons. Despite the initial concern, the topic soon switched to the spectacle and the opera house, and while Marcus entertained Tamara by drawing the building which she had designed, Bianca was becoming acquainted with the forthcoming Brujah.
Meanwhile, Riina reached a dead end when a woman she followed walked into a room, closing the door behind herself. However, determined and curious, the Nosferatu chose to enter nevertheless, and was immediately assaulted by a group of three kindred, including a Tremere, a Lasombra, and a Brujah. After a swift struggle during which the door was shattered, Riina found herself captured with the tentacles of Obtenebration, and subsequently wounded with a sword.
When the dust settled, one of the assailants revealed himself to be her former accomplice, Tremere Petrus, who finally found an opportunity to exact his revenge. Immobilized and alone, Riina had little choice but to comply…
Back at the auditorium, Tamara, alarmed by her sire’s prolonged absence and the mention of unknown kindred being present at the spectacle, excused herself and, together with the Brujah, went to look for the Sheriff. Left to their own devices, Bianca and Marcus began to argue whether or not to search for Riina.
On their way out of the building, the two bumped into the familiar Italian architect (now known as Santino) who intended to warn Tamara that the city, and the opera house in particular, may have been infiltrated by the Sabbat. Startled by the news, Bianca insisted on finding the Nosferatu, while Marcus sided with Santino, proposing to wait for Tamara to return with more people.
The party gathered at last, although without the sheriff, and Tamara ordered a search of the building, which eventually lead to the now empty room where Riina’s struggle had taken place not long ago. There, Marcus, Bianca, and Santino were left once again to investigate the scene. As Marcus Auspexed the remains of the door to confirm that Rina went into the room, Bianca examined the footprints visible in the flour which had been spilled on the floor as an Obfuscate precaution.
Combining their findings, the two concluded that while at least one of the culprits escaped through the window, the rest may have used a Thaumaturgical ritual to flee the scene together with Riina, as no trace of ashes had been discovered. Content with the conclusion, Marcus was ready to return to minding his own affairs, but Bianca, guided by a sense of comradeship, insisted on checking a few remaining leads and hopefully informing the local Nosferatu of Riina’s sudden disappearance.
Unfortunately, the plan was foiled by the escalating Sabbat threat, which prompted the characters to flee the city the very same night. Before the three parted, however, Santino, who intended to leave Florence and travel north, was convinced by Bianca to go to Boston where he could redesign the hospital. Once the agreement was reached, Bianca and Marcus continued their journey to Rome, followed by the Nosferatu’s ugly cat…
As for Riina, no news of her predicament were to be heard for another year.