Arcanum

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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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.

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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.

[Epilogue]
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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Chapter 2 Interlude: What happens in Vyšehrad
Sinead and Riina's adventures in Tzimisceland

[tibert]
Riina moved to Prague from Pardubice after the tragic death of her childe, Mikulaš, to seek solace and counsel from her clanmate, Josef, and the Cappadocians Garinol and Serena. Meanwhile, Sinéad arrived to the city, and, having been acknowledged as an acquaintance by Riina, was allowed to stay as long as she wished.

While Riina and the Cappadocians sought reasons for the spectacular failure of her Embrace, Sinéad established her presence in town; she also took the habit of visiting Riina at the library, trying to socialise and glean stories of the city and its inhabitants, present and past. For Riina, such talks became a welcome distraction from ever-present grief and guilt.

Sinead seemed inspired by the stories of old Prague and, after much wheedling, managed to convince Riina to consider exploring the ruins of Vyšehrad, where the Voivode of the West and his son, Velimir, had been buried during the Night of Fire. Feeling that she had nothing to lose (except perhaps a journey to Cappadocia), Riina agreed to ask Josef for consent; as an elder and clanmate, she got a tentative permission, though she had to pledge to do anything in her power to protect the people of the Jewish ghetto from whatever might emerge from the disturbed ruins. Garinol and Serena, warned about the expedition in advance, leave town to visit an old friend – Balthasar.

After gathering enough supplies, not the least important being a band of well-fed mortal misfits from Prague, Sinéad and Riina set camp near Vyšehrad. They left appropriate orders to mortals to wait and found an entrance to the caves underneath the castle, from where they planned to make their way into the castle proper.

The caves at first appeared spacious and manageable, though damp; the breach through which Riina and Sinéad had entered was caused by running water, connecting with an underground stream. The two companions decided to follow the river, which grew wide and strong, soon engulfing them completely. Sapped of their strength and drenched, Riina and Sinéad eventually found their way to an entrance to what soon proved to be an extensive system of caves. Unfortunately, the strong current swept away their torches, depriving them of their source of light. Fortunately, Sinéad, ever creative, devised a solution – she conjured a cage filled with soft-glowing fireflies. Thus equipped, the adventurers entered the labyrinth.

Soon enough, they found the first cave-dweller – a strange, goat-sized chitinous creature, closely resembling a black mantis. The critter did not seem hostile, but rather curious at the light source in Riina’s hand. To divert its attention, the illusory lamp was left behind, devoured by the cave-dweller. Equipped with a new source of light, Riina and Sinéad carried on throughout the maze, encountering more of the strange, insect-like animals, and losing their lamp again; the creatures themselves seemed to progressively become bigger in size, as well as more numerous. The adventurers eventually arrived at a spacious chamber, where perhaps hundreds of the beasts nested. They managed to distract them by releasing some of the remaining fireflies from the lamp, which left them with but a dim, pale light.

And so Riina and Sinéad ventured farther into the empty corridors and eventually fell asleep, wary of what could greet them when they awoke again. And so it happened that the next evening they found themselves not quite alone in the poorly-lit corridor – another strange creature was lounging nearby, looking at the adventures curiously. The beast was unlike those they had encountered before – graceful and sleek, it much resembled a cat, though its smooth, scaly skin was more akin of a snake; it seemed intelligent and friendly, and after examining its “guests,” set out to lead Riina and Sinéad through the dark tunnels as if it knew them by heart. The kindred followed the creature until they spied a soft light in the distance, which turned out to be another cavernous chamber, this one filled with glowing egg-like orbs. When Riina, fascinated, tried to touch one of them, the creature retaliated swiftly, attacking though not persisting after the Nosferatu had retreated, never having intended to anger the creature.

After a while, the feline creature stirred, obviously unnerved at a distant sound. It let out a call and stood at the entrance to the chamber, listening intently. After a while, Sinéad and Riina heard it too – the sound of chitinous limbs scraping and clicking against stone. The Graceful One (as Riina dubbed it) readied for a fight; the adventurers followed, intrigued. It turned out that the graceful One, joined by its companions, was indeed waging a battle against the mantis Riina and Sinéad joined the side of the cat creatures, though the chitinous carapaces proved to be hard to break, and the hulking critters surprisingly agile and strong. Riina was wounded, and Sinéad decided to retreat – they have both abandoned the battlefield as well as their remaining source of light. Alone and in the darkness, they made slow progress and finally succumbed to yet another bout of enforced sleep.

On the third night of the expedition, Riina and Sinéad woke up battered and tired, but they walked on relentlessly, having nothing to lose. Riina handed Sinéad one of the stakes prepared for the journey, just in case the adventures would lose themselves in the maze, ant the Nosferatu, wounded in the fight earlier, would feel the pull of frenzy drawing near. On the same night, however, the two companions sighted light in the all-encompassing darkness. Having followed the glow with renewed hope, they arrived at the end of the tunnel, where they found an ornate wrought-iron gate, decorated with spindly openwork of ankh crosses and floral motifs, closed shut. Framing it were twin fires, lighting the room, burning seemingly without fuel and rising from decorative vases at the sight of the gate warningly.This time it was Sinéad who succumbed to curiosity and, having burned herself on the flames, lost her mind to frenzy. Only Riina’s strength and resolve kept her from getting lost in the tunnels they had left behind.

After some consideration, as well as an appeal to the host to let the weary travellers inside, Riina decided to try and pry open the gate, which might have been relatively easy for the Nosferatu, but would have been impossible for mortals or even some Kindred. Thus, after many tribulations, Riina and Sinéad entered the infamous Vyšehrad Castle. They ascended to the dungeons underneath the keep, and as they were blindly exploring the old cells (finding nothing but a few old bones and rotten pieces of wood), they felt the castle lurch and move. Worried that the foundations would not hold, they sped up the stairs; indeed, any further exploration would have been inhibited by gravel and rubble blocking many of the corridors. The only bounty Riina managed to recover was a curious, out-of-place piece of cloth found on one of the metal pats on the way to the ground floor of the Castle.

With the first floor blocked off, they slowly, methodically made their way to the corridors on the ground floor, where they, to their astonishment, found traces of fresh interference – a breach in the thick wall of the keep. Someone had obviously been there not hours before they reached the exit. Riina and Sinéad quickly surmised it was probably the source of the quake they had heard perhaps an hour before. The hole led outside, to the moonlit plain stretching before the Castle – they followed the traces of a solitary, prowling figure, who seemed driven by only one thought in mind – indeed, when they tracked the unknown entity to the camp where they had left the well-fed, full-blooded misfits of Prague, they found a site of carnage and whatever, or whoever, broke out of Vyšehrad was long gone.

Later, when Riina relayed the strange, convoluted tale to Josef, the Prince seemed pensive and relieved that the city was left undisturbed by the newly awakened individual (which was what Riina feared might have happened while she and Sinéad were delayed at the Castle). Nobody could know for sure who it was that exited Vyšehrad that night, but Sinéad was convinced (and Riina hopeful) it was the Tzimisce heir Velimir, who had been missing since the Night of Fire centuries before. Still, no matter whether that is true or not, whoever it was is still at large, free to do as they please…

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Chapter 2, The Rising Tide. Father II.
A summary post for the seventh game of the second chapter of Book II, and all that happened within

In which our heroes get to ponder on the sins of the fathers, the end of the world as they know it and whether the world does, as a matter of fact, run in circles.

(pending)

[tibert]

The game’s afoot!

Our noble warriors arrive to Lisbon for different reasons – some to spy, some out of curiosity, some are summoned.

Some – and here by “some” I mean Marcus – come to take the long-coming revenge on those who used and humiliated them in the most hilarious atrocious way possible.

Rumour is Rainerio Claudio del Sannio himself – a Lasombra elder supporting the Anarch cause and Marcus’s old flame – will visit the city. And you know what they say about Setite rumours, right?

And so Bianca and Riina arrive as Caspar’s guest, while Sinead and Marcus follow separately. Marcus takes on the guise of Claudius the Fool – an insipid, mild man with an uncanny knowledge of ancient cities.

Meanwhile, Kindred of all clans (except the Tremere; and Assamites, of course; ok, and the Cappadocians; well, the Salubri are dead and gone anyway; and so are the Baali) meet to discuss pressing matters – the rising tide of the Anarch revolution, the changes that are about to come, the strange and clandestine dealings of the Ventrue…

And the distant past, the old hurts that still cast a shadow on the relations between various clans, as well as the secret history of Kindred. There is also open talk of sedition against the Antediluvians, supposedly invincible, and yet at the time of the meeting, two of them have already been toppled. Perhaps there is hope for more?

After the meeting, when several of the clan delegates have already departed from Lisbon, Marcus shows his true face to his friends, who agree to help him hunt down the traitorous Raine.

Later, on the same night, a powerful storm breaks out, wreaking havoc upon the city; amidst the lashing rain and howling wind that bring destruction wherever they unleash their anger, a ship arrives at the harbour. The passengers escape the tempest quickly abandoning the ship, while a certain Nosferatu, looking for shadows of the Lasombra in the city, calmly observes the spectacle. She soon boards the mysterious ship, just to look around, really, and discovers that the ship came from Rome; it probably carried Regulus’, the local Lasombra representative, childe – Francesca.

Riina accidentally picks up a silver dagger and takes it to the meeting, where it’s decided that the knife will be planted in the chamber of the Ravnos representative…

[koala]

… tempted by one and only Sinead, who convinced her that the representative in evil incarnate – a wicked man who brought a curse of Caine upon her. Not that she is complaining about that part, but his intent has to be malicious! She intends to spoil his plans and feels that this is time to take action. If only the manhunt for Raine did not stand in her way…

[tibert]

The ploy, however, quickly gained a life of its own – as the missing dagger was found in the chamber of the Ravnos representative, his patron, the Ventrue Olivier, came under suspicion of plotting against the city and acting as a spy for the incoming invasion.

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Chapter 2, The Rising Tide. Father.
A summary post for the sixth game of the second chapter of Book II, and all that happened within

(pending)

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Chapter 2, The Rising Tide. Old Friends, Old Debts II.
A summary post for the fifth game of the second chapter of Book II, and all that happened within

(pending)

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Chapter 2, The Rising Tide. Old Friends, Old Debts.
A summary post for the fourth game of the second chapter of Book II, and all that happened within

(pending)

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Chapter 2, The Rising Tide. The Dream of Vienna II.
A summary post for the third game of the second chapter of Book II, and all that happened within

Ash dances in the air above the burned, molten mess that was a peaceful village but a week before. The land seems restless.

The citizens of Vienna go on about their matters.

Waters flows in Danube.

The Eastern wind blows.

(koala)

As mentioned before, Riina wasn’t quite herself when she came back. She was terrifying and ugly (not that she isn’t normally…). She had this crab-like shell which made terrible noises when she was trying to move. Crab-Riina (let’s call her Crabiina) told us it’s a gift from a friend. Nice friends she has, doesn’t she?

And so we chased off to Vienna to anounce a presence of Tzimisce in the area. Despite being hot news nobody was really shocked (and by that time Sinead gathered being harbinger of doom isn’t a cool job, because nobody really pays attention). It turned out the Tremere have already started preparing their defence by locking themselves in the Chantry, sending the Prince to far away lands and ordering Bianca to take care of moving books from Otto’s library into city one and guarding two of three of their clanmates, new arrivals, who didn’t fit into Chantry. Bianca carried the news to Marcus’ humble abode, where TFG was gathered.

Crabiina was overjoyed to move to the library, Sinead less so. While Marcus&Company headed for the monastery, Sinead dawdled a bit with intention of feeding. Her streak of bad luck didn’t end and accidentally she scared a priest, who concluded there are monsters in the city. As a result Karl Schrekt got embraced… but this is a completely different story.

The Tremere who weren’t performing a ritual – namely Demetrius and Johanna – were packing up the books, which caused Crabiina’s outrage. The furious little crustacean didn’t allow any text to be moved, as brother Otto wished for them to stay! How could those pesky Tremere think of disregarding Brother Librarian’s will?

The ruckus caused by Crabiina stalled the situation long enough for Sinead to catch up. Redheaded Thug has met Johanna in the garden and instantly befriended her and decided she is the most kind and lovable creature in Vienna and whole Roman Empire, but the beautiful friendship was not given to them. As they moved to from Kloisterburg to Vienna, something was off… Marcus felt danger and went to check it… Bianca went to check on gates to the city under the shape of night bird… and we went inside. Wild display of Tzimisce magic turned the place into death trap. The team barely escaped alive, Riina and Sinead both were badly burned.

It turned out Riina’s old friend, Veri of Tzimisce, wanted to have revenge on Tremere Johanna and Demetrius. She has burned the village to draw attention and when she met Riina in there, she explained her plan and demanded to not interfere or die. TO make sure her companions won’t suspect anything, she turned her into Crabiina, knowing that curse of Nosferatu does not allow powers of Vicissitude to last for long on their body.

Then she has infiltrated the city and smuggled her henchmen to help her perform her deed. They locked off exits from the library and when their victims entered the building, set it on fire. Veri has fought Demetrius and put him down while fight between Riina and Sinead with help of Veri’s minions finished Johanna. Then she escaped the building.

Riina explained the situation to hte group when they met after the fire. Despite Marcus’ and Sinead’s grudge, she allowed to leave unharmed because of Caspar’s and Bianca’s will. She has left Vienna next evening, wishing to never come back.

But that is not the end of the story. The Ventrue had huge gathering and a party attended by TFG and by Prince Lotharius. Nobody expected him to be stabbed by one of servants, who was apparently controlled by Tzimisce Veri…

Soon after Sinead left Vienna and moved to Prague.

(pending)

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Chapter 2, The Rising Tide. The Dream of Vienna.
A summary post for the second game of the second chapter of Book II, and all that happened within

On the banks of Danube rises the city of Vienna, for centuries now a constant on the changing map of Europe. A lonely island among a sea of chaos, changing and yet unchanged, it is a true haven for all those who dwell therein.

(koala)

Oh, what a glorious day, spent in the dungeon once used by the Prince Valerianus of Vienna himself… The evening was almost as good as the day, with Marcus looking for traces of his long-gone Prince, Caspar being not amused and Riina… Riina being interested in a new arrival, whom was just uninterested in getting to know her better. Wild chase happened once again. The arena wasn’t as spacious as the last time, therefore it was a short and tragic endeavour.

Bianca wasn’t locked up, as she was member of a ruling Clan of Vienna and was tasked with digging through our little magpie’s belonging (and changing some of them’s locations, but shhh, it wasn’t a theft!). After concluding she isn’t dangerous, but dashing, Bianca went to release her friends, including newly aquired one, from detention.

After being released we learned of great many things that happened during that short period of time, including the Prince of Vienna, Lotharius, to be busy and mad and Ventrues swarming in the city. There were other peculiar events going on, for example, a volcano erupted in a village not far from the city. Normally we wouldn’t bother, but if we’re being asked to investigate on behald of Prince of Vienna…

And so we left the city and reached the village in question, which was, as mentioned before, quite thoroughly erupted by a volcano, covered with lava and generally burned to the ground with exception of a single wall. Someone was barbaric enough to put a graphiti on it. A foreigner, I tell you, we couldn’t understand it. Bah, we couldn’t wash it off, it was burned into the stone! Riina was exceptionally outraged by it and chased to the forest shouting something about oaths being broken.

So scouted the area and waited for her, but when she came back she wasn’t quite herself…

(pending)

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