With everything in the whole fucking world happening in the game all at once, we ended up all agreeing to run long. It also helps that my roommates weren’t home and everyone was wired as shit, from caffeine, adrenaline, or both (after we ended the Elysium scene I was literally shaking). We HAD to push this through, at least for a bit.
How long’s a bit? Well our normal evening game sessions usually end around 11.
This night we didn’t end till 2:30am.
Everyone turns to Bell. I meet his eyes from across the room.
The Prince sputters. “You have no authority over–”
The Prince stops as Bell leans down and picks his sword up. “You don’t wanna have this talk with me,” he growls at the Prince.
Bell strides toward me. The guards pull back slightly. I stand my ground, still looking him in the eye. “You’re coming with me,” he says. “Now.” He beckons and strides from the room. I hesitate briefly, then follow.
Bell walks wordlessly through the foyer. As we pass under the chandelier, I glance up. There’s no eagle visible there, but the chandelier is tilted. It’s subtle, but obvious if you know what to look for.
Georgia watches us leave, as stunned as everyone else, and jumps when she feels a hand on her shoulder. Max is standing there, face blanched, looking like the literal grave. His hand is shaking slightly.
“I think…we need to talk.” He mumbles. “At the Chantry. Right now.”
“…Why not here?”
Max’s eyes flick. “…He can hear us.”
“That’s what we need to talk about.”
Max and Georgia retreat to the Chantry, followed by Clarence. Strangely they don’t protest his presence. Max leads them through the Chanty to his office. Guards and gargoyles try to stop them, but Max waves them all off as he pulls Kara and Clarence into his office. (Kara: “Ooh, Max! You’re so eager!”) Max shuts the door, goes to his desk, pulls out a two bottles of blood and a big fucking glass. He pours both bottles into the glass and shotguns the whole thing.
Once he gets ahold of himself, he starts asking about Perkins, specifically where they found that son of a bitch. They say he just showed up out of nowhere, waving the dagger and saying he worked for Hardestadt, in New York. Georgia and Clarence are surprised at how shocked Max is, since he’s met Perkins before, years ago, before he even came to San Francisco.
“Not that… That wasn’t Perkins.” he hisses.
They look at each other. “What do you mean?”
He glances up at them, terror in his eyes. “You mean you didn’t see it? It wasn’t. The same. Thing.”
He says he’s seen him before. Not Perkins, the…whatever he saw in Perkins. A hundred years ago, in Germany. They called him “The Man of Wind.” He had dealings with two of the Tremere high councilors, from the Council of Seven. And by “dealings,” apparently he was locked in a ritual circle by them at the time. He has no idea what he is, but he is absolutely terrifying. When he last saw him, the councilors said he was to be locked away forever, that if he was ever let out it would be the death of the Tremere clan.
When Max met Perkins here in the city, just days ago, Perkins seemed to be the same as the man he had met in passing years ago. But when Perkins was standing over Marcus’s body, Max saw part of him turn into something else: this Man of Wind from a century ago.
They decide that the best lead to figuring out Perkins is to figure out why he was after Marcus. And the best way to figure out more about Marcus is to ask his BFFs. Georgia pulls out her phone to call Paul.
Bell leads me to another conference room in the hotel. Paul has followed us, followed by the Prince. Bell lets them both in and closes the door.
Bell asks us what the hell Walter Perkins was, since it’s obviously the question of the hour. We don’t know anything but we point out that Clarence was trading eyes with him before shit went down and Max was pulling a lot of weird magic shit in the background the whole time. Bell says we need to get more information from the Tremere.
Paul pulls out his phone to call Georgia.
(We assume that there’s a few moments of Georgia and Paul calling each other simultaneously and reaching voicemails before one of them finally gets through to the other.)
Georgia and Paul decide that since everyone has similar questions maybe we should bite the bullet and actually get the party altogether in one place. All of us in Bell’s posse pick up to head to the Chantry.
When we arrive in Russian Hill, guards come out to escort us inside with barely a cursory security frisk. Before I enter the building, I glance up at the sky. The buildings around me are fairly well lit by streetlights and decorative floods, but a dark shape is perched at the edge of the roofline on the building across the street, silhouetted against the stars.
It’s round and hunched, like a very large owl. Or maybe a condor.
I smile to myself and head inside.
Everyone gathers in a large conference room. The decor is predictably-gothic, with large pentagrams embedded in the floor and on the walls. Max tells us to just ignore those, haha, nothing to see here…. But there’s also some technology about. Large, high quality flatscreen monitors hang on a couple of the walls.
Max calls the meeting to order, says that there’s some crazy shit going on, so perhaps its time everyone put their cards on the table and share everything they know. He volunteers to start (Chris, Jim, and I immediately start making continuous empathy truth-check rolls). He shares what he knows about Perkins, which is that he seems to be part normal guy and part some hideous soul-rending monstrosity that even the highest wizards of the Tremere are afraid of and can barely control. Since Max is not just a dick but a paranoid dick, he also posits that Perkin’s next move will be to remove all witnesses of his actions, which includes everybody currently in the room.
He opens the floor for more discussion, which becomes an excuse for everyone to interrogate everyone about everything they’ve been struggling with for days/weeks now. Clarence asks Max about gargoyles, in the process revealing that the Sabbat are apparently doing something with gargoyles down in the South Bay. People wonder if it’s related to the rogue gargoyle running around. Bell grumbles about the town being overrun with rogue gargoyles, flame-wielding Englishmen, and more werewolves than he’s ever seen.
Clarence talks about the dagger, saying that he, Georgia, Max, and Perkins didn’t mention it to anyone before this because they wanted the credit for killing Marcus. But Clarence also points out that the dagger was last left at his place, under lock and key. He has no idea how it suddenly appeared out of nowhere in his pocket tonight. Multiple people also confirm that Perkins seemed to move around the room faster than he should have been able to.
Everyone is suitably creeped out. No one has heard of anything like this before.
There’s a moment of thoughtful silence, then Bell speaks up. “Mr. Lytton….” he says, turning in his chair to face me. “Do you have anything to add?”
Until this point I have been quiet, but now I suddenly have the entire room’s attention. I hesitate, then raise an arm to point at Max. “The Tremere are doing creepy shit on Alcatraz.”
Everyone turns to Max. He sighs and waves his hands placatingly. “We have a facility on Alcatraz to conduct research, but it is under the full knowledge and authority of the Prince. Yes, we don’t want people…observing what we’re working on, but I assure you it has nothing to do with this.”
The conversation moves on. Clarence mentions that Perkins told him there was a bounty on the head of The Englishman, set by the Prince of London, since apparently The Englishman made an attempt on the life of the Prince of Birmingham. The bounty was 50 million pounds, or a favor from the Prince of London. Clarence has been scheming ways to kill The Englishman and claim this bounty ever since he heard.
So you can guess how much I loved it when our Prince told him there is no Prince of Birmingham, that’s a Sabbat town, and he hasn’t heard anything about a bounty on The Englishman.
Of course people ask about Marcus. Paul mentions that Marcus has been known to pontificate about how many hells he has been through, literal and non, and so perhaps Perkins is some sort of demon from one of them. People say maybe, but demons usually don’t work the way he did. They ask Paul what else he knows about Marcus Sertorius. Paul shrugs and says besides him being Roman, and supposedly a founding member of the Sabbat, he doesn’t know much else.
Once again everyone turns to look at me. I blink for a couple seconds.
“Uuh…I know he doesn’t like gladiator movies. He’s more into Kurasowa.”
Bell rolls his eyes. “Something about him doesn’t add up. Sabbat don’t act like this. Methusulas don’t act like this.”
I decide to venture some useful information. “I’ve gotten the sense over my recent…nights…with him that he is somewhat disenfranchised with the rest of the Sabbat. He seems frustrated with them”
Paul agrees. “He has either drifted from their ideologies over time, or they his.”
Bell sighs. “He came after me. Why?” He turns to me.
My eyes widen in genuine surprise. “You mean…you don’t know?” Marcus has been ranting about Bell and the incident with Aitor for so long now, it never even occurred to me that Bell wouldn’t have any idea what was going on.
Bell glares. “The first time we met, he didn’t talk much, and this time it was a bunch of blood-price bullshit.”
I hesitate. “The man you Summoned, after our phone conversation–”
“–Never showed up,” Bell snaps. “What about it?”
I look him in the eyes. “He died,” I say flatly.
Bell scoffs. “Well I certainly didn’t kill him.”
I continue staring at him. “He met the sun, rather than meet you.”
“…What??” Bell barks incredulously. “He walked into the sun to avoid my summons? What the hell did Sertorious have over that guy?”
I shrug. “Their blood bond was strong,” is all I can say. “And there was probably some measure of respect as well as magic.”
Bell glares and looks away.
Someone floats the idea of whether this Perkins is even a problem for us at all. Everyone viewed Marcus as a threat but he took care of him for us, and should we even care that he’s supposedly a threat to the Tremere? (lol, no) But the general sense is that there is something else going on which might indicate more of a threat than is currently apparent.
Paul carefully brings up the fact that if we found Marcus we might get some answers. Bell scoffs, says only if you could keep him from swinging things. Paul says that Marcus may have a temper but he also has conviction, especially when it comes to people in his employ. He flicks a glance at me.
Bell doesn’t like it, says that even if we recapture (IMO he mis-pronounced the word “rescue”, but whatevs) Marcus from whatever the hell Perkins is, we would also have to figure out a way to restrain him. We might be out of the fire but back in the frying pan. Paul points out to Bell that Marcus was fine to leave well enough alone until the shit with Aitor went down, and maybe if Bell participates in his recovery then Marcus will consider the blood debt paid. Bell seems to consider this.
I chime in. “It wouldn’t be the first time he pardoned someone who shot him in the face.”
Once again the room turns toward me. I’m getting pretty good at getting that to happen.
Bell raises both eyebrows. “You didn’t….”
“What? I TOLD you I knew from experience!”
“I assumed you were speaking metaphorically….”
“Tom doesn’t use metaphors,” Paul adds. “You’ll discover it’s quite distressing.”
The question, of course, is how to find Marcus. Paul points out that he is supposedly still blood-bound to Marcus, could they track him using that? Max grudgingly admits that they could, or at least try, but he will need to call in help from a more senior Tremere.
Bell calls for any last bits of info-dump. Georgia brings up the Nosferatu, and how even despite their lockdown, members of their clan are apparently being abducted from the city, which who wants to bet is connected to the Sabbat attempts to make gargoyles? Oh, and on top of this, Max gets flustered and slips a bunch of statements that immediately make everyone suspicious that the Tremere are still making gargoyles themselves, probably not in San Francisco but somewhere.
Paul admits to everyone that though he is not working with the Sabbat in San Jose, Andre has declared Monomanse against him, to occur in six days time. He doesn’t mention, though, that Marcus was supposed to help him prepare for it AND referee the thing, which is yet another reason Team Marcus needs to get ahold of our captain ASAP. He also brings up Sebastian, which also brings us back to the video recording taken at the Shark Tank.
Paul kind of has an alibi for being in the video, since he was open with everyone from the start that Andre had attacked his company and abducted his people. What’s less clear is why the second part of the video shows me sprawled out in the bleachers chatting with a bunch of Sabbat guards who are apparently hanging on my every word.
I throw up my hands. “Look, I went to help Paul, I didn’t expect them to have a fan club for me!”
Clarence glares at me from across the table. “Why do they have a fan club for you?”
I hesitate. “It…might have something to do with the werewolf I killed last fall….”
The table looks skeptical. “We’ve all heard the story,” says Bell, “But I’d like to hear the reality. How did you supposedly kill this supposed werewolf?”
I shrug. “I punched him.”
“I’ve killed more than one werewolf in my time, you don’t kill them by punching them in the face. What did you do?”
I sigh. I’m probably going to lose street-cred for this but there’s nothing more I can do. “I punched him in the face…with silver.”
Bell raises an eyebrow. “A knuckle-duster?”
“No, just this shard I found.”
“Hmm. You’re a lucky man.”
I shrug. “It was a lucky shot.”
(Jason: *stage whisper* “IT WAS.”)
Unfortunately, bringing up werewolf’s brings other things to mind. He asks me about my full involvement with the werewolves. When I’m evasive, Bell turns to Paul and admits that he’s been searching around Paul’s house in Portola. Some of the mess from the incident with Sophia and Isaac was cleaned up, but obviously enough was left for Bell to gather some information. He knows that Isaac was killed by a werewolf, and that we were there at the same time, but we somehow walked away untouched. Oh and strangely enough, Carlos was also killed by a werewolf, and I also was present at his death, yet somehow I also walked away from that. He asks me to explain how this is possible.
He already knows, of course, but now I have to talk about Sophia in front of the Prince, Max, and basically every other high-ranking asshole in the city.
Me: “…We had a debt to settle.”
Prince: (jumps to his feet) “Why is this the first I’m hearing of this???”
Me: (under my breath, partly as myself, but partly as Tom) “Cause I don’t respect you……”
Prince: (doesn’t hear me, continuing) “The policy is to kill them in self-defense, cause they WILL kill YOU! Don’t you know what they did to Chicago?? How the hell did you end up in debt to one?”
Me: (looks the Prince right in the eye) “She…had a debt to me.”
Silence at the table. The Prince stares at me a moment, then sinks back down to his chair. He rubs his face with one hand. “How the hell is anyone supposed to run this damn city,” he mutters.
While we’re on the subject of werewolves, Clarence brings up the Talons’ visit to him last night, how they came right through the walls (Prince: “Yeah, they do that….”), kidnapped him, and dragged him to Berkeley, where the shit with Everton went down. (Incidentally, IRL we all laugh at the idea that maybe Everton did come to Elysium tonight, only everyone had left by that point, and he was left standing in the doorway with his sword lit, looking around sadly and being like, “Where did everybody go??”)
“Well,” Bell says, “Since we’ve been having such…friendly dealings with the werewolves, I think it’s about time we had a word with a…certain Lupine.” He turns to me. “Who else knows this werewolf? Who else has met it?”
My eyes narrow. “Her.”
His narrow as well. “It.”
We stare at each other. Over the last few weeks, Bell has yelled at me, commanded me, and threatened me with every weapon that he owns, but this is the first time I’ve felt a genuine flicker of dislike for him.
Paul takes over, gives a summary account of how we accidentally kidnapped Sophia and then set her free to deal with Isaac when he turned on us. In an effort to ingratiate himself and/or spin it properly, he also refers to Sophia as “it.” I grit my teeth and say nothing.
Bell brings it back around, insisting again that he will speak with the werewolf and get some direct answers. He asks me if I have a problem with this. I shrug and say that I can’t force her to do anything, she’s a teenager, you know how they are. Paul leans over to Bell and whispers in his ear, saying that I am particularly sentimental about the werewolf, so perhaps a more indirect approach will make me more amenable.
Bell sighs. “All I want to do is talk to the werewolf. If it’s willing to talk to you, it should be willing to talk to me. What’s one Brujah from another?”
I relent. “Alright, I’ll try.”
The Prince throws up his arms. “He can summon werewolves. Anything anyone else want to tell me about this damn city??”
There’s another long pause. We seem to be running out of conversation topics.
I half-heartedly raise my hand. “Can someone arrange to feed Norton’s dogs while he’s missing? It’s a little hard for me to get out to Land’s End right now.”
Yep, everyone once again turns to stare at me. “Wait, Norton’s missing?” Clarence says.
“How?” The Prince says.
I look at Max. He glares. “Don’t look at me, I haven’t seen Norton in days.”
“Yeah, but your friends on Alcatraz weren’t too happy about our visit.”
Max’s jaw drops. “You WENT to Alcatraz??”
I throw up my hands. “How else do you think I know about the facility there?!”
Max sputters in shock, then buries his face in his hands. “Oh, crap, god… What happened?”
“Well, Norton and I were looking for Sebastian and Norton suggested that maybe he was there and I was like sure, why not, I got nothing to do till Elysium–”
“NORTON went to Alca–” Max stares at me, almost as panicked as he was at the start of the night when we were talking about Perkins. “…Fuck,” he says in a small voice.
I continue. “Yeah, we met your boy Leopold. Nice guy, blew up our boat on the way home.”
Max shakes his head. “Leopold doesn’t work for me.”
“Interesting, cause you said it was your facility–”
“It’s the Tremere CLAN’S facility, not mine personally! The Tremere selected Leopold, not me! What were you doing going there… That’s beyond my Chantry’s jurisdiction! Even I have to apply for permission to go!” He rubs his face. “He blew up your boat, you said? Hence…” he gestures at my chest. “…This?”
I look down. My heart sinks again as I remember my ruined jacket, and the fact that I have to track down a new phone. “Yeaaah…”
“Your lucky he didn’t do worse. He’s been known to.”
I remember the conversation I had with Norton on the terrace, before we got on the boat. “Yeah, Norton wasn’t fond of him. But then neither was he of Norton.” I shrug. “I don’t know, I won’t be going back for the tour anytime soon.”
“Leopold…is a special case. The exigencies of…” he trails off, then waves his hands. “Doesn’t matter. He’s a prickly bastard who thinks he runs the world.”
“Ha, I don’t know anybody else like that.”
Max glares. “You think I’m bad? Wait till you piss him off.”
Georgia has been looking thoughtful. During the next lull, she turns to Max and speaks up. “Speaking of trying not to die, is there anything you can do about canceling the Assamite assassin on me?”
Now everyone in the room turns to look at her.
“Why is everyone so surprised?” she asks, genuinely bewildered. “It’s not a big deal. Vampires try to kill each other all the time!”
Unfortunately, though, it seems that one does not simply “call off” an Assamite assassin, so Georgia will have to deal with her for awhile yet. Fortunately, though, this Assamite doesn’t seem to be very good (also fortunately, Kara knows now to take the fucking leads that Jason gives her).
Also fortunately, the Prince starts screaming at Max for hiring an Assamite without asking or informing him of it and threatens to report him to the Tremere high council. We all sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude of Douche v. Tool.
Bell shuts it down, says alright, from now on, everyone, but EVERYONE, is done with politics in this city. No more Assamites, no more pet werewolves, no more secret projects. We are to find Norton, find Everton, find Marcus, and maybe somewhere in all of that we will get some fucking answers. Are we together on this?
The Asshole Fellowship of the Ring is back.
Incidentally, we also get some info on what the hell is going on with Oakland. Apparently there’s some sort of Anarch revolt in progress, lead by this guy Helge we keep hearing so much about, what may or may not have stolen/gotten ahold of Baron Esteban’s Semtex. Their Prince is inexperienced (ha, wonder what that feels like) so things aren’t going well. She and her sheriff have taken on a siege mentality, which explains why they’re so paranoid about people wandering through their territory.
The Prince’s description of the East Bay situation brings up something in my mind. While he’s talking, I slowly raise a hand.
He glares at me. “Yes?”
“…Where’s the Sheriff?”
Our sheriff, I mean; the stern woman normally always at the Prince’s side, who never talks and whom no one has seen in weeks, since the night Carlos tore up the Tenderloin.
The Prince’s face drops. He looks around nervously. “The Sheriff is…absent.”
My eyes narrow. “…What is the Sheriff?” Many people have suspected that she is…something other…for some time now.
The Prince looks down at the table. “…I don’t know,” he whispers.
Everyone raises their eyebrows. Many glance at each other.
Max jumps on the opportunity to return some schadenfreude. “You don’t know what your own sheriff is??”
The Prince sighs and launches into a weird, vague story, about how he had worked with her some time ago and when he took the position of prince she agreed to help him solidify his position here, at least for a couple decades. He doesn’t know much about her but they work well together and so he doesn’t ask questions.
We ask what happened the last time anyone saw the Sheriff, when she and the Prince went to deal with the Carlos rampage personally (Chris is DYYYYING to know because whatever happened there happened off-screen, for all of us). The Prince says that, as we thought, Carlos was on a frenzied rampage, but that he and the Sheriff probably could have handled it…
…if the gargoyle hadn’t shown up.
The gargoyle was the one who tore the Prince to pieces. The last the Prince saw the Sheriff, she was distracting him while the Prince crawled to hide in the trunk of his car before passing out. He doubts that she was actually taken out by the gargoyle, but…you never know.
Bell summarizes the situation again, and reiterates that we need Paul to be alive to run the blood-bond tracking rotation, so we need to protect Paul from Sebastian until the Tremere can collect the resources required to run it. Hopefully they can get all their shit together before the Monomanse goes down, but if not, then Paul had best see fit to ensure he survives that too, cause he doesn’t really look the Monomanse-type.
Clarence: (sneering) “Maybe he can talk his way out of it.”
Georgia: “Well, it worked for the Assamite.”
Before we break, I bring up one more thing, since we’re all making wish-lists. When I was trapped in Marin and my apartment-lease lapsed, apparently my stuff was impounded not by the police, but by vampire society. Apparantly it’s standard procedure to help prevent Masquerade slips and the like. I say that wherever my stuff is, if there’s anything left (the vinyl was valuable so I assume it got sold), I don’t really care about most of it, but my prize possession was one simple watercolor painting and I would consider it a great service if it was returned to me, from wherever it might be.
Unfortunately, where my stuff apparently appears to be is in the possession of Clarence. Which explains how he knew to tempt me with my perfect dream bike that he promptly lojacked. Clarence gives me an oily grin and says he will make sure the painting is returned to me.
Clarence’s glee is short-lived, though, as he realizes that his own house is still vulnerable to werewolves. He asks about security services that can help him, but the Prince says he’s largely S.O.L. If he wants a secure place to stay, the safest place is probably the Chantry.
Clarence hesitates. Leaving oneself to the care of the Tremere might be worse than leaving oneself vulnerable to werewolves. Still, he’s nervous about going home tonight.
I have a brief moment of pity. After all, douche that he is, he did give me a place to crash when I came back to the city and found myself homeless. I speak up and say look, if he wants to hide out somewhere the werewolves would be unlikely to look for him, he can crash with me.
He looks down his nose at me. “I prefer not to slum it, Mr. Lytton.”
Aaand we’re back to this.
From here, the conclave breaks up, with plans to start moving on our various plans tomorrow.
Georgia and Max have a private scene, the details of which I cannot know yet, but watch this space for possible future developments.
I too, actually, have a private scene. See, at some point during the meeting, my phone buzzed with an incoming text message. This is odd, since the last time I checked my phone, the screen was shattered and the motherboard dead from salt water. Still, during a moment when everyone was distracted, I pulled it out to check.
Against all logic, my screen was now on, showing a text message from an unidentified number:
What’s going on???? -Sophia
Ironically, it came through right about when Bell was breathing down my neck for me to get in contact with her.
I shot a text back as soon as I could: Very. Bad. Things. 😦 Will update later.
Once the conclave breaks up, I step down the hall to a private room. I text again, saying my situation isn’t ideal but I have some time to talk. My dead phone rings in response, and though I am hesitant about taking an audio call with so many other powers lurking around, time is of the essence and I get the feeling Sophia and I are going to need more than just qwerty and emoji to communicate the things we need to.
We talk for almost half an hour, during which I learn a great many things. Unfortunately, many of these things are also classified at the moment, so watch this space for further developments. ;D
END OF NIGHT.