6. Sacred
Tuesday, the 6th of March 1888

[Derpina, 19/11/2017]

With the fires extinguished and the madmen put to rest, a tense stillness crept over London. Accompanied by her butler’s young niece, Sinead chose to use the temporary breather to examine her new predicament, curious whether her Dementation-induced hallucinations would plague her with another person accompanying her throughout the night.

Marcus, having regained consciousness after the previous night’s adventure, went to visit Lilian, hoping to make amends for his horse’s trip to the Buckingham palace. Armed with ink, brushes and an easel, they struggled to force Incitatus to write a proper apology for the Prince. The horse, however, deeply convinced of his royal prerogatives, was reluctant to admit his guilt. Only after several hours of cajoling did he agree to cooperate, and at last a message was written.

As the elders tended to their respective businesses, Emma conducted an inquiry into the strange disappearance of a local property owner, allegedly associated with illegal investments. With the help of Mr. Norton, she managed to establish that due to the owner’s will being out-of-date, the property was split between his family members to avoid taxation. Unfortunately, the discovery was inconclusive and the investigation was suspended.

However, eager to maintain cooperation with a promising contact, Emma decided to hire Mr. Norton for another, more subtle job. He was to investigate the fire which erupted in the city the previous night, and determine whether it was an accident or a deliberate action. Convinced of the mortal’s abilities and aware of the Masquerade breach which occurred at the scene, Emma made up her mind to ghoul the young man and make him her personal retainer.

Norton was wary of the proposal, already harboring suspicions regarding his peculiar employer. When she offered him a drink secretly spiked with blood, he tried to refuse, but to no avail. Despite his strong will, he was unable to resist the power of Presence, and was compelled to fall in love with the vampire. Entranced, he drank from the bottle, sealing his fate as Emma’s ghoul.

Back at her manor, Sinead opted to investigate her flooded basement and spoke with its rat inhabitants, who alerted her to a strange presence in the house. Without the means to further examine the preternatural circumstances by herself, she invited Marcus and Emma to help her learn something more about the premises.

The guests arrived with Christopher and Aaron in tow. Already at the threshold, Marcus sensed the building’s strange, sentient vibe. He contrasted it with Sinead’s personal aura and concluded that it was not the same. While the house radiated with a strong presence, its owner gave off a muted, malicious sensation. Unable to pinpoint the source of the dissonance, he decided to investigate further.

Using the Malkavian’s distraction to her advantage, Sinead tried to interrogate Christopher regarding his implied relationship with Blanche. As always nonchalant, Chris admitted to having known her, but denied any further involvement in the embarrassing spectacle she’d caused. Unconvinced, the Ravnos withdrew, determined to return to the discussion at a more opportune moment.

When the investigation of the ground floor proved inconclusive, Sinead mentioned her grim visions of a woman hanging from a chandelier, and recalled a story she’d heard about somebody dying in the house. She lead the party to the attic, expecting Marcus to spirit touch the potentially haunted object.

While the group admired the armory, listening to Sinead’s tales about her fabulous collection of swords, sabres and firearms, Marcus was overwhelmed with a sense of dread that reminded him of the demonic presence from the century past. Suddenly panicked, he refused to stay in the house even a moment longer, and quickly excused himself, only hinting at the source of his discomfort. After a confused exchange in front of the building, the party agreed to head to the first Elysium to discuss the matter in a safe and neutral environment.

Upon their arrival, Aaron began to laugh hysterically, inevitably drawing everybody’s attention. Despite the group’s efforts to quiet him down, all their threats, pleas and orders seemed to only amuse him further. The change in atmosphere came only when Christopher whispered a veiled threat to the madman’s ear, to which he quizzically replied that he’d have expected Chris, of all people, to have more sympathy in the given situation. Baffled by the remark, Christopher backed away, allowing his sire to take a closer look at Aaron.

Cautious after the events of the previous night, Marcus made another attempt to use his Malkavian insight and learn something about Aaron. Sadly, once again, the visions proved quite overwhelming, and the only one that lingered was an image of the strange kindred laughing at rats.

Unable to have a proper conversation, the party decided to leave the Elysium. As they emerged into the common area, Aaron noticed the Tremere Primogen, and without missing a beat called her “old and ugly.” Appalled by the breach of etiquette, Marcus and Sinead fumbled for words, but Emma saved the situation, chiding Aaron for his behavior – “being dementated out of your mind is not an excuse!” Despite the obvious insult hurled at one of his guests, the Keeper seemed pleased, and the Primogen had no opportunity to retaliate.

Following the embarrassing adventure, Emma made an appointment with Norton to find out what he’d learned regarding the fire. Acting strange and avoiding her gaze, the detective relied that everybody spoke of a man who entered one of the burning houses to save a woman and a child, as well as two women present at the scene, but nobody mentioned the fight that ensued in the courtyard. The source of the fire remained unclear, but local drunkards were suspected of accidental arson.

Meanwhile, having returned to his house, Marcus met with a Roman envoy who was due to visit – a young, good-looking woman accompanied by a photographer. Allegedly, the lady arrived to address a minor issue regarding Incitatus’ membership of the Eternal City’s council, however, something in her pleasant demeanor arose suspicion. Uncertain, Marcus refused to take a photograph with the visitor, but allowed her to take a picture with the horse. Unbeknown to him, the copy of the image gifted to him would soon prove to be an unpleasant surprise for Christopher.

As Christopher was losing his temper over the photograph and Marcus’ pressing questions, Emma found a vaguely threatening note with a sign of a blood oath, left at her haven by Aaron. The suspicious guest was nowhere to be found…

5. Haven
Wednesday, the 29th of February, 1888

"But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us—to know
Whence our lives come and where they go. "

[Derpina, 29/10/2016]

Having recovered from her excursion to the Gangrel, Sinead woke up to a brand new tide of distress swiping over her unlife. Her cozy apartment surprised her with unseemly apparitions, stealthily creeping into her peripheral vision. First, alarmed by an image of an unknown dead woman reflecting in her window pane, the Ravnos decided to investigate further. The inquiry, however, was interrupted by Incitatus – Marcus’s noble steed – creeping around the premises with the gentle stealth only a Malkavian horse could possess.

Luckily for the elder, her resourceful childe arrived just in time to inform her that he had acquired a new house. The dwelling had seen better times, and could use a bit of maintenance work, but the price had been indeed attractive. Unfortunately, the new abode, a spacious manor located in a middle-class, suburban area, did not make the best first impression. With one broken lock and another ghostly apparition hanging from the chandelier, Sinead began to realize that perhaps her problems were not tied to the apartment, but her, personally. Considering the possibility of foul play, she began to suspect her sire, Riina or Lucy.

Meanwhile, Emma continued her inquiries into the strange disappearances. Having left a message for the private investigator Andrew Norton, she headed to the third Elysium to look for Annabelle. To her discontent, it turned out that the Brujah had left the city for a trip to Oxford, and would not be back for a couple of nights.

With her plans temporarily stalled or thwarted, Emma took a trip to the second Elysium to pass the time. Seeing the venue bustle with activity, the ancilla decided to share the story of her supernatural encounter from a few nights ago with a broader audience. Her chilling narrative swooned the visitors, gaining her almost undivided attention of all the thrill-seeking kindred.

However, after several tellings and retellings, each more terrifying than the one before, the tale’s novelty started to fade, and a new guest managed to gain the society’s interest. With the use of bones, the newcomer promised to tell the fortunes of those who were brave enough to hear them. Skeptical but curious, Emma volunteered, asking if she would meet the banshee again. Looking at the pattern, the seer confirmed that yes, she would, although this time, she would accompanied by a man with a guardian angel by his side, and a woman with a guardian devil. The rest of her fate, unfortunately, lied in the dark.

The night at the Malkavian manor began on a playful note, as Marcus discovered that Christopher was composing a libel about the Prince of Amber, with the aim to discredit one of the local Toreadors. Amused by his childe’s attempt at bad poetry, the elder promised to leave the youth to his own devices, as long as he could hear the final version of the lampoon.

The mirth was interrupted when it turned out that Incitatus managed to break out of the stables. After briefly surveying the tracks, Marcus concluded that his horse must have gone towards the city. Alerted, he borrowed Dusk from his childe and set off to locate the unruly beast.

Little did he know that, in his illusion of grandeur, the brief stallion would go straight for the Buckingham Palace. Relying on the naivety of the guards, Incitatus managed to infiltrate the grounds and soon made a run for the building itself. A chase ensued, with poor servants getting trampled and precious vases being broken to spell “peasants.” Convinced that he deserved to rule the country, the horse ascended to the upper floors to seize the throne.

While Marcus was slowly following the trail of his ghoul, Sinead, fed up with the vision, attempted to salvage the day by transporting her valuables to her new haven. Pushing her gold-filled carts through the cobbled roads, she bumped into a quirky man suffering from an inexplicable fear of rats. Through a brief conversation, she managed to establish that the stray’s name was Aaron, and that he had been dementated by a Malkavian during his visit to the New World.

In the interim, Emma became acquainted with a Ventrue Garrett, who offered to help her look for the banshee. The two took a carriage and were moving towards the bridge where the initial encounter occurred, when their passage was interrupted by Sinead chasing after Aaron. As they learned, the unhinged man, triggered by a random remark, decided to find “Sabbat” and fight them. Abandoning their initial quest, Emma and Garrett agreed to help the Ravnos in her pursuit. Unfortunately, as it quickly turned out, the lunatic appeared invulnerable to Chimerstry, and continued his haphazard chase despite a ball and a chain materializing around his ankle.

The chase continued, while Obfuscated Marcus crept across the Buckingham Palace, following the many and varied signs of destruction Incitatus had left in his wake. Failing to get the horse’s attention, the Malkavian was forced to follow the creature to the upper-floors. Now disguised as one of the servants, he was accosted by the guards and ordered to clean after the beast.

Unconcerned about his master’s frustration, the Equestrian Emperor bumped into the Queen’s daughter, who invited him to her room and treated him to a slice cake, much to the guards’ despair. Incitatus, satisfied to be acknowledge as a royal steed, did not even consider heeding Marcus’s call.

Exasperated by the ridiculous adventure, the Malkavian at last managed to persuade the guards to either wake the Queen or fetch the horse themselves. Reluctant to upset her Majesty, the men convinced the Princess that the horse should go to sleep, and allowed Marcus to escort the beast back into the stables, unaware that they would not see the servant or the steed ever again.

Back in one of the poverty stricken district of London, the party at last caught up with Aaron, who’d engaged in a brawl with an unknown man. Surrounded by a row of burning buildings, the three split, with the Ravnos and the Brujah trying to break up the fight, and the Ventrue disappearing in one of the apartments.

Finally disentangled, Aaron was seized by Sinead, while his victim, recognized by Emma to be kindred, attempted to flee the scene. Failing to stop him with the powers of Presence, the ancilla rushed after the mysterious man, but was forced to give up the pursuit once she realized she was being lead into a trap.

While the two struggled to get the madman under control, Garrett emerged from one of the burning houses, saving a mother and a child. With his cloak on fire, he was overwhelmed by the beast and subsequently frenzied in the courtyard, adding to the commotion. Aware of the streak of Masquerade infractions caused at the scene, the two women work quickly to extinguish the flames and soothe their companion in time to escape.

The matters get complicated once the Ravnos realizes that her precious cart had vanished. Enraged, she climbs one of the rooftops and notices Incitatus pulling her valuables away. Abandoning the burning block, she runs after the horse, only to realize she was chasing an illusion, and whoever took her gold must have already disappeared…

Furious, she decided to confront Marcus about his ghoul’s shenanigans, and stormed his house with Emma and Aaron in tow. Surprised by the visit, the Malkavian assumed a defensive pose, demanding respect in his own haven. Already at her wits end and further annoyed by his arrogance, Sinead pinned him to a wall with a sword.

Knowing better than to get involved in an elders’ fight, Emma was left to look after the madman, who found his way into the kitchen. Just as he started rummaging for something flammable to set the house on fire, he was stopped by Christopher and advised to cease and desist. To prevent him from causing further trouble, the Brujah escorted him out of the room, and used her supernatural charm to entrance him.

The fight at the door reached a stalemate, and the elders agreed to talk. Marcus confessed to pranking Sinead with his clan’s discipline and promised that the effects would wear off after a while, and if not, that he would look for a solution himself. The two arranged to meet again four nights later to discuss the matter further if the delusions had not subsided.

Before the visitors could be on their way, the Malkavian decided to use his gift of recognizing patterns to take a look at Aaron. Suddenly flooded by countless visions of what may have been the past, present and future, he dropped unconscious to the ground, unable to process the complex message. He was carried to his bedroom by Christopher, who then thanked the ladies for their visit, bluntly reminding Sindead that her problems were not exactly unforeseeable.

“That’s what you get for being friends with Malkavians.”

4. Mrs Cunningham's Wardrobe
Tuesday, the 28th of February, 1888

[Lisa, 11. 06. 2016, rewritten 4. 09. 2016]

At the beginning of the night, Marcus finds his childe busying himself with repairing furniture from his manor; curious as to the reason, he inquires and is told that this is due to the “lady visitor”, potentially meaning Sinéad who is sleeping off the previous night’s party with the Gangrel. The two chat for a time about Dementation, mostly its effects and the difficulties inherent in learning or teaching it, before the topic shifts towards one of Christopher’s own “lady visitors”, who suggests he might invite the unnamed woman over for dinner with his sire one of these nights before “encouraging” Marcus to leave his house for the night.

Somewhere in the city proper, Emma receives a message related to her inquiries into the missing persons case of the mortal Harris. One of her contacts advises her to seek out an investigator by the name of Andrew Norton, which she does the very same night. She finds him with a young maidservant, a Judy Styles, who as it turns out works in one of Mr. Harris’ guesthouses and has quite a story to share. With excitement at the attention she receives, she tells Emma about the body of a man, found in the wardrobe of a Mrs. Cunningham, who is an old and otherwise unremarkable widow. Judy continues with claims of having heard the voices of the dead from within the wardrobe, which amuses Emma greatly and prompts her to feed the girl a story about how the wardrobe might actually lead into a different dimension, possibly the underworld, with advice to keep away from it and not mention it to anybody else – something that Emma full well knows a gossipmonger like Judy could never keep quiet about. Just as predicted, Judy eats up this story with wide eyes and polite shock and disbelief, a sure sign that she will spread it to everybody who will listen to her.
Norton seems exasperated at Emma for encouraging the wild tales this wardrobe already spawned, but still agrees to provide her with a full report of his findings in the case after proper payment. As it turns out, the maid’s account was flawed and likely contained lies about several details, which he corrects. He also has some additional information to share about Mr. Harris, which Emma happily accepts, hoping that even basic information could help her solve the puzzle of the people who have gone missing in the city recently.

Marcus, after being gently kicked out of his own home, travels to the second Elysium, where he meets two newcomers: one Alexander McCarthy and a woman who is only introduced as “Milady”, both of whom are playing poker together. They talk for a while, saying that Atticus might be in financial troubles because of his generosity and that the Prince might have disappeared again. This gossip is interrupted by the arrival of Atticus himself, who bickers briefly with Lionel before talking with Marcus about the Sheriff competition and the Sabbat which might be lurking in the city.
As the Brujah primogen excuses himself and the talk turns back to mortal affairs, Marcus finds that he isn’t quite caught up with news, a situation which is remedied by Caroline, who hands him a newspaper in which he finds a very high number of articles about scandals involving mortal aristocracts of the greater London area. As Lionel helpfully explains, these scandals are the result of the city’s Ventrue doing what he calls a “spring cleaning”, pruning their mortal aristocratic contacts of those who have not performed to their expectations.
The conversation between the two of them moves on to the topic of the body found in Mrs. Cunningham’s wardrobe, who apparently was drained of all its blood, dressed up oddly, with the cause of death being strangulation. Lionel mentions that the case has been forwarded to the Tremere primogen so that she can investigate the “people-eating” wardrobe – and shortly after this remark, the primogen herself bursts into the Elysium, chewing out Lionel for wasting her time and slamming the case file onto the table in front of him before leaving again, much to the surprise of those present. The Ventrue claims he never touched the file itself and didn’t forward it personally; he merely received the report when Lady Anne was present, who immediately took an interest and had it forwarded to the primogen for investigation. He then cautiously takes a peek into the files before immediately closing them again and excusing himself from the Elysium, claiming that he had to take care of this matter.

Emma is on her way to the third Elysium to spend the rest of her night when she hears a bloodcurling scream somewhere nearby. She wastes no time investigating its source, crossing the river by a bridge, and notices strange mist appearing on it along with an eerie silence, so absolute that no sound other than her own steps can reach her ears. Worried at what she perceives to be supernatural interference, she hurries to the other side of the river, while the temperatures drop rapidly – so quickly, in fact, that the pouring rain turns into snow flakes settling on puddles-turned-ice. As the mist clears and her vision extends, she breaks into a run, turning corners in search of the source of the scream, and suddenly finds herself face to face with what she thinks to be the ghost of a young and once-beautiful woman, almost translucent, with a decomposing face. Emma narrowly avoids running through the apparition, who lets out the same shriek she heard before, and runs as fast as her feet can carry her until she is completely out of range of the weird weather phenomena.
Majorly uneasy and worried, she is at first glad when she comes across Julian, though this relief dissipates quickly when she finds him arguing with a mortal woman named Emily who insults Emma, calling her a side lover of Julian’s, which provokes her anger. The young Ravnos manages to shut his companion up before Emma can intervene less gently, but proves to be entirely unhelpful and just as unhappy as Emily, so Emma quickly leaves both of them to their own devices, wanting nothing more than to end the night as quickly as possible.
However, luck isn’t on her side: just as she hesitantly approaches one of the city’s bridges on her way to the Elysium, she is jumpscared by a blonde stranger, who mocks her for her fear of bridges, crossing easily himself and preparing a prank on the other side of the river – an attempt to make her trip just as she is about to reach the other side, which Emma dodges skillfully. With her patience wearing thin, she tries to learn the stranger’s name, who isn’t very forthcoming and keeps prodding her. Unwilling to test her waning patience, she leaves him standing at the bridge and finally makes her way to the Elysium, where she starts telling the story of her ghostly encounter. The Kindred present seem to enjoy her skillfull storytelling, buying her drinks and asking her to tell it over and over again.

Before Lionel can leave, Marcus asks him for the address where the body was found and decides to investigate the matter himself. He finds a young, thin man resting nearby the house, and, probing his mind, sees his dream involving the wardrobe with golden light shining from within, a heavenly chorus singing, and then the doors opening to reveal a black, menacing figure with gleaming red eyes. Unsure what to make of this, he gains entrance to the building itself from another lodger, who flat-out tells him that he hopes the stranger is here to murder Mrs. Cunningham. Apparently the old widow does not have a good reputation with her fellow lodgers.
Marcus makes his way into the old woman’s rooms, obfuscated and sneaking to avoid waking her, and analyzes the wardrobe for emotional imprints, finding several impressions: an unknown female Kindred who was not amused, several policemen, Judy Styles and a young man, the latter of whom he identifies as the man sleeping outside, and lastly somebody who is slightly familiar to Marcus but also seems strange and who was actively trying to prevent leaving or hiding their impression of emotions on the wardrobe.
With nothing else to be gleaned from without, he crawls into the huge Victorian wardrobe himself, which smells faintly of the corpse, lavender and a cheap perfume. He finds a hidden compartment containing old letters and valuable documents as well as two wedding rings and a diamond ring, but chooses not to remove any of the contents. Further investigation yields insight that the person who was found dead must have been killed before being put in the wardrobe.
Unfortunately Mrs. Cunningham wakes just as he is leaving the wardrobe – though Marcus is obfuscated, the old widow still shrieks since she thinks the wardrobe opened itself in her sleep, waking up the other lodgers, while the Malkavian makes his escape undetected. This incident, in combination with the wild story fed to Judy, ensures the popularity of a new urban legend – of Mrs. Cunningham’s people-eating wardrobe.

3. A Study in Scarlet
Monday, the 27th of February, 1888

“Don’t forget to speak scornfully of the Victorian Age; there will be time for meekness when you try to better it. Very soon you will be Victorian or that sort of thing yourselves; next session probably, when the freshman come up.”

1. Visiting 2nd Elysium (what’s its name?)

Sinéad and Julian entered Vanity early in the evening, followed by Bianca and Ethan. Marcus and Christofer took the rear. The confidence, the extravagance, the glamour!

2. Meeting Emma.

3. We play a game of dare.

4. Marcus goes away, we start to gossip.

5. Ethan, Chris, Julian and Bianca explode something in Elysium, three of them disappear instantly

6. They discovered a secret room in the Elysium, of which even the keeper didn’t know

7. Emma goes to 3rd Elysium, meets Miranda and someone else (was it this time when she has got a loan from Atticus?)

8. something something

9. Sinéad goes to Gangrels, meets Wolfie, gets smashed out of her mind.

10. Sinéad goes to Marcus who was annoyed for some reason, so he dementates her out of her mind.

2. The Wind from the Sea
"Let's go for a ride!"

[Derpina, 9 July 2016]

While Marcus and Sinead were dealing with the consequences of their excursion to the Third Elysium, a ship berthed at the London port, carrying Lady Bianca and her curious new companion, Ethan. Having arrived earlier than expected, the travellers stepped onto the British shore only to realize that traversing the city at night may prove more challenging than they’d predicted.

Loaded with luggage, the two inquired at the port, unsure how to find Marcus’ manor without causing a ruckus. Luckily, thanks to a favorable coincidence or perhaps a meaningful tingle in the Malkavian network, they bumped into a ghoul who happened to be a servant of one Mr. Talbott, also known as the Malkavian Primogen. The dutiful servant had arrived at the port to receive his master’s guest, and agreed to assist the new visitors with reaching their destination.

During the conversation with the ghoul, Bianca and Ethan learned that the Primogen’s new guest was an inventor hoping to present his most recent contraption to the Prince. The massive new engine was supposed to be powerful enough to lend energy to ships, which could provide a considerable advantage to a nation known for its strong fleet.

Meanwhile, Marcus, unaware of his friend’s early arrival, was entertaining a considerably younger guest. Neonate Bethany, who took a shine to the elder during his visit to the Elysium, was now curiously looking at the ground floor of his manor, hoping to peek beyond the veil of normalcy presented by her immediate surroundings. Subtly teased by the elder, she continued to refer to her unnamed sire with whom she seems to share a strong bond.

At the same time, another lady was just stepping out of a carriage, having accepted an invitation to visit the Toreador Primogen at his seaside manor. With the images of her recent exploit still fresh in her memory, Sinead, accompanied by Julian, approached Mr. Montgomery’s manor with caution.

Following an introduction, the two were offered refreshments, and the host entertained them with brief small talk. He shared that, after inheriting his current position, he was an active member of the local community, but ultimately decided to manage the clan’s affairs from a distance.

As the conversation progressed, the elders moved to gaze at the sea from the mansion’s balcony, while Julian was encouraged to take a walk around the premises and visit the blooming gardens outside. Taking advantage of a private moment with his guest, the host at last began to reveal the real purpose of the meeting – the become acquainted with all the contenders for the sheriff post – and expressed his desire to maintain the status quo in the city.

Curious to hear his reasons, Sinead inquired about his motivation to support the Camarilla, to which the Primogen answered quoting the history of his lineage and the clan’s involvement in establishing the sect. Then, learning Sinead’s story, he scoffed at her implied idealism, unimpressed by the personal incentive.

The meeting concluded with a walk around the Toreador’s art gallery, allegedly assembled by his absent sire. There, among numerous landscapes and portraits, Julian spotted one of Marcus’ paintings, depicting a city abundant with ancient ruins. Asked about the details, Mr. Montgomery revealed that the piece had gone a long way before it joined the collection.

In the meantime, to conversation at the Malkavian Manor was interrupted by the arrival of Lady Bianca and her curious escort. Simultaneously surprised and and joyful to see an old friend, Marcus rushed to greet the new arrivals, supplying his young guest with ample gossip material.

Briefly withholding his enthusiasm, the Malkavian introduced the visitors to one another and invited them in, while Bethany got ready to depart. A hefty meal was served for Ethan who, as Bianca quietly assured, was about as unearthly as his appetite, and the evening was spent on cordial chit-chat.

The Tremere was reunited with her dearest horse, Twilight, and a trip to the Elysium was planned for the next night. The mirth was, however, interrupted by the sudden disappearance of Bianca’s companion. Following a brief search of the premises, it was established that the young man was nowhere to be found, and had he wandered into the city, he was as good as gone.

Thankfully, before a consensus to take action had been reached, Ethan reappeared out of his own volition, carrying a beautiful blue dress for his lady. He was then forced to accept a scolding for theft and hear a lecture about the crime he had allegedly committed. Hoping to avoid any more problems, Marcus introduced the troublesome youth to one of his maids and offered him a day trip to London to keep him occupied during the day.

At last, the party retired, not expecting that the next night would bring yet another adventure…

1. New Beginnings.
"It is not important WHAT they say..."

[Derpina, 22 May 2016]

London, year 1888. Following several decades of boisterous adventuring, Sabbat hunting and journeying, now famous Sinéad chose to settle down in the greatest and most likely the smelliest metropolis in the world. With her fledgling childe Julian in tow, the Ravnos established herself in the city, her eyes set on the vacant position of the sheriff.

Thirsty for fresh gossip and insider knowledge, Sinéad got in touch with Marcus, who invited her to visit him in his gargantuan manor outside of the city. There, she and Julian were treated to a brief tour through the house, before settling down for a relaxed chat in the host’s bizarre library. While the elders exchanged gossip and reminisced about nights long gone, Julian and Christopher engaged in a gentlemanly competition of wits, much to their sires’ content.

After the thirst for news had been quenched, Christopher catered to the guests’ other appetites with free-flowing beverages that lightened the atmosphere and multiplied merriment with every emptied cup. Eventually, an idea to visit the city’s neonate elysium gained general acclaim and, after a moment of preparation involving furry pink coats and extravagant top hats, the party embarked on a journey towards its new destination.

Boasting a naval-themed décor, the establishment combined seafaring imagery with the raunchy ambiance of a port tavern. Its keeper, fiery-haired Brujah Miranda, wasted no time expressing her discontent over Christopher’s sudden appearance. However, hearing that the rowdy bachelor arrived in the company of his sire cooled her temper, allowing the evening to return to its course. Upon the elders’ demand, music was brought in and in no time dancing and singing commenced, with Sinéad taking up the role of the lead entertainer.

While the Ravnos exchanged shanties with the keeper, testing her talent and knowledge, Marcus was accosted by Anabelle, a women rights activists with enough temper to lecture a drunk elder. Following an energetic dance, the two retired to discuss wages, working conditions and necessary improvements, before Marcus excused himself to have a chat with the local gossip, Bethany. Meanwhile, Julian and Christopher became acquainted with Cassandra, a Malkavian neonate with a peculiar ability to spot lies.

The conversations were eventually brought to a partial halt as the atmosphere on the dance floor became more competitive. Partners were swiftly exchanged and dancers swirled across the room, creating an array of mixed and same-sex couples alike.

During a playful prance with Marcus, Sinéad spotted her childe flirting with Bethany. Not thinking long, she chose to interrupt the cavorting and, with her superb reflexes, sent the Malkavian spinning right towards the bar counter where the exchange was taking place.

Surprised but alert, Julian made a spectacular recovery and joined the dance with the confused elder in his arms. A struggle for dominance ensued, with the young Ravnos initially taking the lead. Unfortunately, despite his natural flair, he had to admit defeat once his partner’s experience came into play.

Sinéad took that opportunity to survey the competition and chit-chat with Bethany and other present neonates, while Miranda and Christopher retired to the keeper’s private quarters to resolve their previous disagreement.

When it seemed like the evening could not become any more intense, the Ravnos decided to make a lasting impression by challenging Toreador performer Florence to a contest. In a blink of an eye the floor was cleared and the two ladies moved to the center, immediately surrounded by an unsuspecting crowd of kindred.

The audience then watched in awe as the two bodies undulated, collided and flexed during a sensual dance. Surprised stares and heated gasps were heard when the buttons swiftly came undone and pieces of clothing began to hit the floor.

It was known that the evening would be the talk of the town for a long time…

The following night, Sinéad was to learn that among her spectators was the Toreador Primogen, now hoping to meet her for a private talk in his remote mansion, while Marcus, about to nurse a terrible hangover, would be informed of an unexpected visitor he had forgotten he invited…

Arcanum Romanticism Special: The Wake

From Sinéad’s journal:

The tale began in a joyful manner. We had travelled far into Welsh countryside. Why, you ask? We didn’t really know. Sometimes you just set your feet loose and they carry you. Our feet carried us to a mansion, where a noble family dwelled. They were in the middle of the Samhain festival! The common folk were having their own celebration for the end of autumn – there was a joy, singing, and dancing around bonfires. End of season meant end of work for them. Owners of the land watched the celebrations from a porch, drinking whisky and having cultured conversations. The ones that wanted more privacy walked around the mansion gardens, enjoying one of the last warm nights of the years. Some would gladly join the simpler folk in their merry ways, but it was improper. Here we were…

While Sinéad revelled among the commoners, Riina and Marcus celebrated with the gentry, each arriving into the area separately and not knowing about the others. When a scream tore the night, Sinéad and Marcus rushed towards its source. They ran into forest. What they saw at a clearing was a pair of commonfolk, a man and a woman, now fainted and a corpse. The body was cut, with a gaping hole in its chest where the heart should. Its forehead was carved with writing in none of human alphabets. Yet, there was no sign of murderer. Truly, a bloodcurdling sight.

Then, the crowd appeard. Sinéad screeched and fell down. Village folk appeared and recognised the corpse: it was a son of lord’s cousin, who was visiting his family. In face of the tragedy all merriness has died. The festival was over. The commoners flocked for safety. Some were led alongside the noblemen back into mansion to stay there until the investigation was over.

Marcus – who pretended to be a poet suffering from consumption – found a moment to copy mysterious marks inscribed on the deadman’s face. As he did that, the letters turned blood red just for a second… he has decided against sharing it with anyone. Sinéad, who decided to pretend to be a girl from one of local villages used his help to slip into mansion as a witness. She was given a bed in servants’ quarter – a rather inconvenient lodging for a kindred – while Marcus was placed in a room together with other guest who was – as it turned out – Riina.

Everyone gathered in a living room to keep each other company. It was a terrible event. The lord’s daughter, Lucy, was especially shellshocked. The tragically departed was one of her few friends. There weren’t many opportunities to look into the matter, so everyone waited until locals went to sleep. That’s when Sinéad decided to sneak into chapel in which corpse was waiting for a priest to arrive and perform final rites.

So she went through dark corridors into candlelit chamber, where the desacrated body of a victim was left to rest. She approached, saw signs on his forehead and the hole in its chest. The Ravnos checked if it didn’t have anything of importance nearby… and heard “It’s not nice to steal from the dead”. The corpse grabbed her by a hand. The murdered one raised from the cataphalque and walked towards the thief (who, admitedly, denied that she has been a member of that dishonorable profession). Unable to reason with the one that should belong in the afterlife, who apparently was either in love with Sinéad or in dire need of new blood pump, the girl has bolted out of the chapel and blocked the door with a heavy candle holder… only to run into Riina, who as well has snooped around the house. Their sudden meeting almost made her drop a thing she took from the victim’s pocket.

The Nosferatu didn’t appear on the scene by accident. After short and salty conversation with Marcus she left their room and went to investigate herself.
Sinéad told her what happened just a minute ago. Riina wanted to see the deadman for herself, so they unbarred the doors and entered the chapel again. The Nosferatu decided to take the candle holder with her, just in case. As they entered, they noticed body politely went back to the bier and was having a rest, as if nothing happened. Hearing the guests returning he rose almost instantly. Sinéad decided to call it a day. Riina smashed the floor with candle holder on her way back. The zombie was unphased at that, but didn’t chase them out of the chapel. It wasn’t enough to convince Sinéad to leave the doors unbarred.

They had to leave in a hurry, as the sound made when iron crushed stone floor of a chapel alarmed all the house. The women escaped. Sinéad used a moment to hide the thing she snitched from the chapel under a loose floor board – it turned to be a signet, with a clear, black, round stone. Commotion created by Riina prevented from any other scooping. Before the lord was awakened, servants checked the house for any possible suspects. Sinéad, being of rather frail build wasn’t considered one, as the feat performed by Riina required almost a supernatural strength. One of servants noticed somebody really did desacrate the body – it was laying on the chapel’s floor instead of bier, where it was left. The heinous act caused one of elderly to die of heart attack, which weighted heavily on Riina’s heart.

In a meantime Marcus went to check on the place where the corpse was found, to no effect. He has found absolute lack of evidence on the scene of crime unsettling. Upon returning to mansion he met servants, who were more suspicious of him than of Sinéad, who looked haunted and terrified out of her mind. Nobody charged him with trespassing or desacrating the body, but they decided to keep Marcus for further questioning in the morning, when the Lord wakes up. He couldn’t allow that to happen… as the dawn approached he jumped out of the window of his room and earth meld. Sinéad had similiar problem, as her, sleeping all day long in bright room full of servants would be unwise to say the least. She has decided to take a stroll into cellar and find a place to stay in there.

While Marcus idea proved to be moderately reasonable. Everyone was worried about his disappearance, but he managed to explain he decided to take a stroll in the woods and suddenly felt week because of his illness. Sinéad on the other side woke up in the chapel, on a bier, next to the deadman… Indeed, nobody paid as much attention to his absence when third person died within a night, and a witness to the crime at that.

I really can’t tell whose shock was bigger, her, or all the people who entered the chapel hearing her scream, seeing her hiding in a corner, mumbling incoherently. The mood was too grim to question her, or anybody, about what happened. To cater to her supposedly broken state, she was given a room for herself to rest in peace… which conviniently was the room which belonged to the lord’s dead relative.

She used the opportunity to learn more about him from his things. Books, letters… all of that helped her uncover deep relationship with the lord’s daughter, Lucy. Her family was more affluent, but it couldn’t and didn’t want to fulfill her dream of university education and not really womanly career. She has bonded with poor but scholarly cousin, who helped her any way he could, including sending books he barely could afford.

That turned her attention to Lucy, who was vey calm and quiet all the time. Shock might have been a cause to that, but certainly, something wasn’t right. She wanted to know her part of the story. She was ready to leave the room to sneak into her room, when she spoted the very same ring she has hidden before going to sleep. The very ring that should not by any chance be here and had no chance of finding its way into Sinéad’s room.

Startled she run out of the room and stumbled into Riina, who lingered with mortals and made sure nobody suspected kindred of foul play. She was as shocked by the ring as the Ravnos. They decided to keep a closer look at the mortals… but nothing seemed out of ordinary, for now. The trio spent some time with mortals and discussed the matters at hand. Marcus was very skeptic of the investigation, as he thought it was a matter which belonged to expertise of clan Tremere, yet Sinéad didn’t want to stop. She went back to her room to look for more clues… and suddenly, she felt acrid smell. The room was on fire!

She screamed on the top of her lungs. Terrified, she fell to the floor. The servants run into the room. They have managed to contain the fire. This event, a one that denied all logic, made everyone too tired to care. Sinéad had no trouble sneaking into Lucy’s room. What she found there filled the picture she already had with more details, but didn’t explain the situation in any way, except for wild guess that the dead man was in fact a Tremere protegé. She slipped out and found Marcus in the living room. Once more they exchanged information and opinions on the case. He was even more disheartened by her suspicion that the Tremere might have a finger in the case.

In a meantime, Riina wasn’t wasting time. While Sinéad was talking with Marcus, she went to the mansion’s library. What she found there was much more concerning. The lord’s son was not himself. He lost a fight fighting against something invisible, malicious. Something that forced him to set the place on fire and now was forcing him to end his life. The struggle was as obvious as him being overpowered. After that, he tried to end his life, which was stopped by superior force of Riina. Before anything seemed to pass, Lucy entered the chamber and asked Riina to follow her. There was something about her that made “no” not an option… so Riina followed, stoping her only for a short snack. Lucy didn’t seem to mind at all…

She stopped in the living room to ask Marcus and Sinéad to joined them and led her to her room, where they could talk in private. Then, Sinéad felt an urge she couldn’t resist… She produced the signet she had hidden earlier and put it on her finger. Seeing that Riina immidiately grew claws and cut off the finger and the ring all together. Lucy smiled and thanked her for delivering blood of the last of the only one that managed to not give it to her for free. She has said what she truly was – a demon inhabiting body of a poor girl… and then she used her position of power to force a deal on each of the kindred. But how the negotiations went, nobody knows, as there were no witnesses…

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.

Arcanum Baroque Special: Bella Italia
Played on the 6th of September, 2015

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.

[derpina 16/09/15]

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.

Arcanum Renaissance Special: The Lady Doth Protest Too Much
Played on the 8th and 9th of July 2015

All hail Gloriana!

November 17, 1602, England. On the 44th anniversary of our Glorious Queen Elisabeth’s ascension to the throne, sir Robert Cecil, a dutiful minister and the Secretary of State to Her Highness’ government joins forces with his older half-brother, Sir Thomas Cecil, 2nd Baron Burgheley to absolve the Queen from her miserie after the treacherous’ Essex’s execution.

So be invited, noble guests, to the Burgheley family seat in the humble Burghley House, Cambridgeshire, where the host and his dame, the Lady Dorothy Cecil nee Neville, will be entertaining Her Royal Highness for a fortnight. Many noble and learned guests have been confirmed to attend, among them Her Royal Highness’ first cousin twice removed, the dame Arbella Stuart, sir Christopher Hatton the younger, councillor Francis Bacon, doctor John Dee, Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland and Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp with their families and many others glorious guests for listing of whom no paper holds enough space. Rumours have reached our ears that envoys of the Scottish king James VI, the Queen’s cousin, will also present themselves to pay their respects to our Divine Queen.

Deer hunting, bear baits and dog baits are going to be held at court, together with hawking, tennis and jousting tournaments. As Her Grace finds herself partial to such entertainments, this magnificent occasion will be marked by a performance of the much acclaimed Admiral’s Men, who will present “Dido, Queen of Carthage” by the renowned Christopher Marlowe, on the 10th anniversary of it’s publishing.

[derpina 24/07/2015]

It was year 1602. Having completed her research on Loch Ness, Bianca came to Boston to become the new Regent and resolve a problem with the local river. Her meeting with the former head of the chantry was, however, interrupted by Caspar, unexpectedly arriving at her door in the company of his new acquaintance, Anthony, whom he had rescued from a mob of furious villagers accusing him of witchcraft.

Eventually, the reconciliation of old friends led to emptying the former Regent’s stash of alcoholic blood, as a result of which Bianca’s new apprentice became indisposed, and Caspar could solidify his quite unwanted friendship with Anthony, now convinced that the Brujah is depressed and requires urgent intervention.

As it turned out, Anthony, suspected to be a Giovanni or a Malkavian, was not a witch, but he did posses a peculiar ability to speak with spirits, thanks to which he gained knowledge of a mortal ploy which had gotten him in trouble. With the aid of Bianca and Caspar, one of the schemers sent after the kindred was apprehended and forced to confess, shedding more light onto the matter.

Meanwhile, Marcus and Stepano were visiting Lady Seren, the Malkavian baroness of Gloucester, to whom the vampire got indebted during the Convention of Thorns. There, they became acquainted with Lady Hesper, a Ventrue matron taking care of her mortal descendants, and her ever busy ghoul, Tobias.

During a pleasant evening of discussing marriage and the bad influence of poets, the topic eventually changed to politics, and the two visitors were informed that they are to accompany the baroness to a party organized by half-brothers, Robert and Thomas Cecil, to celebrate the 44th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne. During the celebration, the kindred Duke of Amber (childe of Prince Mithras, acting in his stead during his absence) was to announce the new baron of Norwich, as the barony had been empty for a number of years, and a handful of kindred were looking forward to take the prestigious position.

Once at the party, Marcus, until then accompanied by Hesper, was surprised to find Bianca, who had been invited to meet her new Pontifex, and Caspar, who was smuggled in by Anthony, pretending to be the Prince’s secret agent. While the latter disappeared in the crowd, and Hesper excused herself to find her family, the old team caught up on past events and promptly split to mingle with the other guests and exchange gossip pertaining to local politics – the execution of the Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, the event’s gracious hosts and other more and less noble persons present at the party.

While Bianca was on the lookout for the Pontifex and Caspar was having a conversation with two learned gentlemen, Marcus accidentally found another old friend, Dermont, who appeared at the party disguised as a Ventrue neonate, Germaine, and was just enjoying a pleasant talk with Hesper’s granddaughters – to her immediate discontent.

As the party progressed, it became apparent that among the kindred, there were two major parties struggling for the barony – the Toreadors and the Ventrue – and that the execution of Essex may have something to do with their competition for influence in Avalon, as the Earl was rumored to be a Toreador man. Pooling their intel, the team learned that one of the candidates for the barony was lord Oswyn Blackwell, Hesper’s sire, while the Toreador remained unknown.

Meanwhile, Bianca found herself a new acquaintance, Alistair, who was all too interested to hear about her occult research in Loch Ness, even being as kind as to supply her with necessary occult terms to discuss the phenomena – a fairly unusual feat for a random interlocutor. Overhearing the conversation, Marcus stepped in, and recognizing the man to be a ghoul, politely asked Bianca to dance, unbeknownst to the mildly scandalous scene that was about to unravel in a matter of minutes.

Caspar also decided to join the dance floor, being invited by Lady Seren who benevolently taught him the local dances to “prepare him for the Toreadors,” as if she knew who would be his next dance partner. Luckily for him, the Brujah quickly got a hold of the English dance style and was able to awe the ladies with his prowess.

As the tune ended, Alistair, moving swiftly through the crowd, and tailed by the ever watchful Hesper, followed a man who was just about to leave the room. Harsh words were exchanged, although few were heard by those who did not stand sufficiently close to the scene. The last remark, however, was enough to catch the attention of eavesdropping kindred: “Don’t embarass yourself. A Jewish hedge wizard can never become a Hermetic master.”

Shortly after, the display of Dido, the Queen of Carthage, written by Christopher Marlowe and performed by the Admiral’s Men, was announced, and nobody spoke of the incident, as the commentaries on the play dominated the conversations afterwards. Caspar, knowing his Brujah nature and the history of his clan, chose to opt out and left the room before the spectacle to take a walk outside, wary not to cause an unnecessary scene.

Meanwhile, Bianca was accosted by the very same man whose remark caught kindred attention before, one doctor John Dee, not surprisingly looking much younger than one would expect, studying his biography. Having quizzed her on the local politics and other matters, the man left as soon as he appeared, and Bianca was swiftly intercepted by Marcus and Hesper who had been vigorously debating lord Oswyn’s chances for the barony and were curious as to the mysterious man’s identity.

Caspar, having fed in the gardens, was approached or, to be precise, meat balled, by Anthony, who found out that the treacherous woman he was looking for was currently frolicking with Thomas Cecil in one of the bedrooms. Guided by his sense of justice – and an opportunity for blackmail – he nagged Caspar to interrupt the scene, but to no avail.

When that plan did not quite work out, Anthony chose to secretly procure the item which, as he claimed, had been stolen by the woman and, with Caspar’s permission, hid it in Bianca’s carriage to transport it back to Boston. However, concerned about Bianca’s reaction, Caspar chose to inform her of the trouble, temporarily leaving Anthony with Marcus and Hesper.

Suspecting the kindred to be a Malkavian, Marcus peeked at his aura, which showed a myriad of colors changing in a rapid pattern, as well as something menacing poking through the backdrop of irritation, discouraging the elder from further annoying his now confirmed clanmate.

While Caspar and Bianca were discussing possible solutions, Hesper was informed that her youngest granddaughter, Joy, disappeared with one of the young actors. Despite the rush, by the time she found the girl, the deed had already been done, and the matron could only scold the girl’s recklessness, at which point Joy bolted out of the room. Enraged, Hesper sent Tobias to find her and moved on to check on her remaining relatives for whom she had been dutifully arranging good matches.

As the evening was drawing to a close, Bianca made a deal with Anthony, promising that if he returned the stolen item to its owner, she would do something to help Caspar with his depression, to which the Malkavian readily agreed.

Finally, it was time for the Duke to announce the new Baron, and all the kindred present flocked to one of the smaller rooms to hear the decision. Being in a bit of a rush, Marcus left Stepano and Bianca to talk with two innocuously looking mortal gentlemen, and joined Hesper at the gathering, hoping for a favorable verdict.

As the Duke was about to announce that, following a compromise between the interested parties, the new Baron would be a Ventrue, a commotion started at the door, as the two men who had previously conversed with Stepano tried to enter, temporarily delayed by Bianca who wanted to avoid a masquerade breach.

As it turned out, one of the visitors was the Prince’s personal envoy, and the other, no longer innocuously looking, turned out to be the Prince himself. The crowd parted immediately and dropped to their knees as Mithras walked towards his childer. “The new baron will indeed be a Ventrue,” he confirmed, with his gaze seeking out a man standing in the corner. “Step forth, cousin…” he said, and beckoned Dermont to approach.

And thus, accepting the dubious reward, Dermont took the oath, saying a quiet farewell to his anonymity as countless congratulations began pouring in.

Before the party was over, Hesper learned that neither Joy, nor her ghoul Tobias were to be found, the latter apparently having disappeared with one of his kindred dance partners. To make matters worse, her decision to marry one of her granddaughters to a son of John Dee, a Tremere, damaged her sire’s reputation, which eventually cost him his post. Luckily, the remaining two marriages, that of her third granddaughter and grandson were more fortunate.

Back in Boston, Caspar and Bianca found out that the item stolen by Anthony was a necklace appropriated by the woman in question against her husband’s will, thus preventing his soul from finding peace. The Malkavian returned it to its rightful owner – the man’s illegitimate daughter, and announced that he would be leaving on a journey to Istanbul…


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