The Transylvania Saga

Chapter 12-2 - Peace and Retribution

October 18, 1493, 10:00pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

The Courtyard was packed tightly with the undead. A dais had been built at its center surrounding an ancient fountain, the step encircled by thirteen sigils that were, according to one of the attendants, supposed to represent each of the thirteen clans of Caine. Kyrillos wasn’t sure how he felt about a cracked mirror being the only representation of the Clan Malkavian. He also wondered how the Lady Teresa would feel about a cross and crown representing her own Clan.

The Courtyard was separated by a gravel path leading from the northern and southern walls to the dais and the delegations used this path to define their loyalties, with the Anarchs standing to the west and those loyal to the Founders to the east.

The distinction between the rival factions was clear, the Anarchs, with few exceptions, most notably their leaders, had taken to dressing as mere commoners, while those who sided with the elders dressed as any lord of the night of any worth would.

At the Northern most wall of the courtyard stood the founders themselves, along with their entourage. Kyrillos eyes widened when he saw, standing close to Raphael de Corazon, a powerfully built figure with weathered features dressed in the finest Spanish fashions. The Madman blinked more than once to ensure that it wasn’t some sort of chicanery before he realized that it was indeed Master Sanchez.

Never in the three centuries that he’d known the Artisan had he ever seen him dressed in such a fashion.

Of the Founders he knew very little that was concrete. He recognized the severe Lady Camilla, with her tightly bound hair and pail eyes. They’d shared more than one Salon over the past few decades and enjoyed a quiet and convivial rivalry. He recognized, too, the boy-elder Milov Petrenkov. Though only from stories of his cunning and the age at which he was embraced. Knowing Camilla it wasn’t difficult to figure out that the jade-eyed imperious woman was Mistress Fanchon and that the young blonde beauty must therefore be Lady Adana. There were too many Nosferatu to tell for certain which was Joseph von Bauren, and of course no one could miss the military bearing of the great High-Lord Hardestadt, his blond hair cut militaristically, his shoulders squared. He wore even these fine clothes as if they were armor.

Kyrillos had never met the High-Lord directly but now, seeing him, he couldn’t help but note how familiar he seemed. He knew that the sense would nag at him for the rest of the night. Kyrillos saw Teresa standing near the front of the throng, her entourage in toe, and decided to join her.

He was pleased as the throng parted to afford him and his entourage room.

Along the Western edge of the path, standing directly across from the count were Myca Vykos, Lambach Ruthven and Velya, the three Fiends who acted as generals for the Eastern Anarchs. It seemed that Lambach was in the middle of telling a particularly amusing story, though the woman acting as his personal guard remained grim as she stared at the Founders.

Kyrillos almost didn’t recognize the woman. She dressed as a woodsman might, in dark leather clothing. Though none at this gathering were armed she stood as if she was used to having a sword at her hip. The Lady Lucretia von Hardtz’s waist-length black hair was braided as it always had been. Her once beatific features were marred with the unending fury of the Beast, her skin bone white, her eyes set too deep in their sockets. She looked like a beautiful corpse and all Kyrillos could think was to wonder what could drive her against the Black Cross.

“Did you see who are acting as the Assamite Representatives?” – Teresa whispered

Kyrillos turned to see four vampires, their black skin standing out in sharp contrast to their white clothing, standing at the southern edge of the courtyard.

He recognized Husayn al-Fatin almost immediately. The two of them had been bitter rivals for centuries, feuding over customers and merchandise alike.

“It appears that the Eastern Cainites have more to offer the founders than had been let on.” – Teresa.

Kyrillos smiled toothily.

Six mortals approached the stage, each standing a distance from the other, and each wore a brown vest with a blood red broach marking their language of origin.

Young vampires on both sides of the divide voiced their confusion at the sight of the translators.

A slender and pretty vampire with bright eyes walked up the path and onto the stage, she stood behind an odd symbol that resembled an incomplete pentagram.

When she began to speak the Count was disappointed to hear that she didn’t address the crowd in Latin but in French.

“I am Eleanor de Valois of Clan Brujah and Declare this the formal opening of the Convention of Thorns!”

“At least she speaks clearly.” – Teresa

“The first decision we face regards the return to the fold of those Cainites who have declared themselves Anarchs. How should this be accomplished in a peaceful fashion? Shall the believes that led to this state of war between generations be allowed to proliferate, and if so, how can this happen without a return to bloodshed? Should Blood Oaths be required of those who recant their rebellion and, if so, who should bind those oaths? What guarantees shall the Camarilla accept to assure the future behavior of those formerly in rebellion?”

The woman paused, allowing for a wave of hackles and barbs to be fired from both sides before continuing.

“There can be only one authority among Cainites, and that authority is the Camarilla. Your presence here testifies to the acquiescence of that fact.”

Another wave of murmurs among the Anarchs threatened to drown her out.

“Should a general amnesty be granted to those whose actions led others astray, or should the leaders surrender themselves to the judgment of the Camarilla’s Justicars and their Archons?”

She paused again before continuing with a southward nod.

“The actions of Clan Assamite require stern measures to curtail. The commission of diablerie practiced by their members must stop. Recently, the Camarilla has discovered the location of their stronghold of Alamut, an action that has convinced Clan Assamite to engage in negotiations as to their status within Cainite society.

“Should Clan Assamite remain independent of the Camarilla and refuse to subject themselves to its rulings? If they do remain apart, how may we ensure that their practices pose no future threat to us? We must seek some sanction or control over the Assamites if they do not join the Camarilla.”

Another pause, this one filled with rumbling agreement from all those present.

“Finally, the Founders of the Camarilla have been acting as Justicars for the Camarilla and taking on assistants to act as their Archons. Shall this system of governance continue? If we agree to abide by the adjudication of a council of Justicars, shall the current holders of that office remain in their positions? If not, who will be the new Justicars? How will we select future Justicars and what will be their duties and responsibilities? Will we appoint a council to oversee the Justicars or shall those justices serve as the highest authority of the Camarilla?”

After a long moment she continued.

“For the next four nights, we shall hear arguments on all sides of the issues. Your voices are welcome in peaceful discussion. We shall convene every evening for a formal accounting of the previous night’s discussions. Afterward, you may talk among yourselves and attempt to reach a consensus. By this time, five nights hence, on the 23rd night of October, in the year of Our Lord 1493, we must reach a decision on each of the issues presented. Thank you for your attendance.”

With her final word the lady bowed and returned to the Founder’s retinue, but by then the discussion had begun.

October 18, 1493, 10:37pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

Lupe, in her quest to learn all she could about the Cainite Condition, sided with the Anarchs so that she could better approach a Fiend called Vykos. It seemed that the ancient monster was among the best versed in the lore of the damned. Only now after speaking with her “fellows” did she learn of another ancient monster called the Black Queen, had joined with the Camarilla and that, to Lupe’s astonishment, she was the mysteriously dark lady that she’d spoken with the night before.

Upon realizing her error, the Antitribu sought her out only to find the ancient with whom she’d shared a cell was looming over her.

“Count Kyrillos, it is good that we found one another.” – Lupe

“Is it?” – Kyrillos, noting her defensive posture.

“Indeed. I had hoped to bend your ear about…”

“So what is your opinion on the what we have just heard? Do you trust this French Clanmate of yours?” – Kyrillos.

“How are you so sure that I am one of the Brujah?” – Lupe

“One notices the signs my girl, so what did you think?” – Kyrillos

“They are… it seems that the Founders view of the world has little bearing on these modern nights. It… I think that they presume much, that their age has, perhaps… separated them from the realities of the plight of those of us who still remember the warmth of the sun. I’m sorry, I am not what you would call a politician or and advocate, I am here in search of a teacher, I want to study our history, to catch a glimpse of what those who have existed for centuries might have witnessed, and what those who came before them saw in the night. I simply thought that this would be a good place to start looking.” – Lupe

The old man laughed, his great bushy beard splitting into a toothy smile.

“You see, perhaps it is that we have been too long separated from the Sun, our Long Night began so long ago, before anyone dared the thought of plundering Byzantium’s riches, but I think that this grand experiment is an attempt by the Founders and the Elders that they represent, to come into these modern nights. Just as the mortal world is amidst an age of Rebirth so too are we…Kindred…in the middle of our own Age of Dark Enlightenment.” – Kyrillos

“Probably.”

The Elder’s smile faded, replaced by a look of distaste.

“What I mean to say is that I think that even if that were true there is a real chance of these Elders seem to be at risk of reproducing the same follies that led to this revolt in the first place as they attempt this experiment.” – Lupe

“Of course they do. This is nothing more than a power play by a group of particularly powerful Cainites to maintain that power far into the future. They wish to take the reins of the past and use them to subdue the future, to conquer it and secure their place indefinitely. I occurs to me that you might be new to this” – Kyrillos.

“What?” – Lupe

“All of this hobnobbery. Rubbing elbows with your fellow damned.” – Kyrillos

“Probably, yeah.” – Lupe

“Let me introduce you to a friend of mine.”

Lupe suppressed a shudder.

The old man, with his bushy beard and his ancient, threadbare clothing, possessed a force of personality that was all but overwhelming, and he wielded it in much the same way that Lupe had taken to wielding her own unholy strength, battening aside loyalists and Anarchs alike as he waded through the throng of living and dead bodies until they stood before the dark skinned vampire from the night before, his robes, of antiquated design, were none the less beautifully crafted and of a particular shade of emerald green.

“Myca, my old friend, let me introduce you to a young friend of mine, we beg your pardon dear, but we’ve forgotten your name.” – Kyrillos.

“I’m called Lupe, lord Vykos.” – Lupe, curtsying.

“It appears that she’s heard of me.”

“I’m not surprised. She seems to feel that the Founders are biting off more than they can chew, a view you share, I believe.”

“I believe that, for all they hope to accomplish they go a long way to separating themselves from the teachings found in Cainite Lore. To turn your back on Noddist teachings, to ape the kine, is folly. Look at the Lamentations of Caine, his parables, I’ve only caught glimpses of those teachings but it seems foolhardy on the very face of it to go down this path that they Founders have chosen.” – Lupe.

“Fascinating, please go on.” – Vykos.

The young Brujah didn’t notice the Count excuse himself.

October 18, 1493, 11:30pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

“Come now, Sanchez, you must let it rest. There is so much here to draw your attention away if you’d only let it.” – Teresa

The Artisan stood quietly in a shadowy recess in the Courtyard’s wall, nursing a bottle of wine. The Black Queen could never understand how he could drink the stuff.

“She should have come. There was a time when she would have come, no matter the consequence.” – Sanchez

“That was before Sibiu, and besides, I think you underestimate the effect travel has on her.” – Teresa

Sanchez scoffed, spilling some of the wine as he did.

“Not so much that Vykos and his ilk could not be swayed from attending.”

“They are here against their want. Sherazhina has no such need to travel so far, especially by water. But if you’ll not be swayed I’ll leave you to your wine.”

The Black Queen turned to leave to find that Kyrillos was standing behind her, the incredibly pale woman they’d met the night before, Lady Ana she was called, was on his arm.

“What say you, Sanchez? How goes the first night of the convocation?” – Kyrillos

“It’s horseshit!” – Sanchez, his words slurred.

The lady’s brow furrowed.

“How does he drink the wine? I was told that we could imbibe naught but blood.” – Ana

“I’ve only just discovered the quirk, milady. It turns out that we can drink libations but only those of the highest proofs. I wonder if perhaps the bastard that made us had a fondness for the grape before he committed fratricide.” – Sanchez

“To be sure, it is possible, but costly, as each drink dilutes the Vitae further, drawing the hunger for Blood to a near frenzy. Most of us prefer to mix wine with blood to counter this side effect. It would seem that Sanchez is beyond that.” – Kyrillos

“Don’t worry, my eccentric friend, I’m not about to risk the lives of the fine people of Southampton over a broken heart. I’m not about to digest the swill, it’s taste just helps me think.”

“Of course, to the matter we were already discussing, are you saying that the convention is a fool’s errand?” – Kyrillos.

“No. I believe in the Masquerade and in the Camarilla’s goals, I simply refuse to believe that Hardestadt would keep his word and stay his hand in destroying those who might disagree. There will be vitae spilt over this yet, no matter what the Founders say.” – Sanchez

“I can only hope that you are wrong, though if the Brujah have taken as great a role in these proceedings as tonight might suggest, I think that you may be correct. I pray that cooler heads prevail.” – Teresa

Realizing that he did not know the beautifully fair woman standing at Kyrillos’ side Sanchez bowed, taking her hand before she even saw him reach for it.

“Pardon me, milady. I am Master Sanchez, architect of the Masquerade and scion of the Clan of the Rose, and who might you be.” – Sanchez

“Forgive our rudeness, Master Sanchez, this is the Lady Ana Golescu of Clan Ventrue.” – Kyrillos

“Golescu, how do I know that name?” – Sanchez

“I would hope so, milord, my family hails from Golesti, in the Făgăraş Mountains. I have spent much of my time since beginning my Long Night ensuring that the name will outlive even me.” – Ana

“Ah, yes, I knew I’d heard of you, they call you the White Mother do they not. This one is a crafty one Teresa, not unlike you.” – Sanchez

Teresa smiled wanly.

“I could only hope to be compared to the infamous Black Queen of Alba Iulia.” – Ana

“Oh, for everything I’ve heard, dear girl, you have the ear of Frederick himself. Surely you have nothing to learn from an old monster like myself.” – Teresa

“I did, before his death. It is Maximilian who rules the empire now.” – Ana

Sanchez laughed drunkenly.

“You, my dear, are the very image!” – Sanchez

Black veins etched their way across the Black Queen’s eyes as she watched Sanchez make a fool of them both.

“I meant no disrespect, Lady Teresa, It is an honor, Lord Kyrillos spoke very highly of you during our time together before Vlad Dracula’s death.” – Ana

“That’s where you vanished to, Kyrillos? But why not just tell me? Why let us think you dead? And where did you go after his death.” – Teresa

Kyrillos glanced sideways at his friend.

“We cannot say, Teresa, please do not ask us again. We can only promise that, in time, it will make sense.” – Kyrillos

October 18, 1493, 10:38pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

Sabela slipped carefully through the crowded courtyard, even with the promise of Elysium and her knack for moving unnoticed through the crowd she feared the Black Queen’s wrath should she be discovered.

She hadn’t expected to be waylaid by a girl who looked even younger than she.

“I am Qamar bint abd al-Haqq, childe of Theophana and ward to the Lady Ana Golescu, what are you called?” – The girl in Arabic

“I am called Sabela, why are you talking to me?”

“Because you seem nice and your trying not to be seen… and you speak my language.” – Qamar

“And you are here against your better judgment as well?” – Qamar

The Ravnos laughed.

“You’re very astute, but I must admit that I am interested to see what happens.”

“I’m just glad the madness will stop. It’s so hard to find a pet, It’s all so stupid.” – Qamar

“You realize that should the Camarilla get its way, they’ll surely abolish any chance you have of finding “pet”. They want us to hide who we are from the world.”

“I don’t see how that would affect me?” – Qamar

“How could it not?”

“All I need is a Knight to match the one I’ve already got.” – Qamar

Sabela wasn’t entirely sure how to respond.

“Do you believe that the camarilla would allow you to collect these knights? They’d demand that you hide behind a mask of mortality, that you act the proper girl and do as your told and never, ever speak out of turn?” – Sabela

“And how better to do that than to be surrounded by loyal pets who would protect me and help me pass as their ward or child?”

“I’d rather we didn’t have to hide.” – Sabela

“You’d rather the living would continue to hunt us openly?”

“I’d rather hunt them, openly and freely… that’s a lie but I do not wish to hide what I am. This farce of a Convocation is ridiculous, the idea that the entirely of those of us who walk the night are somehow of a mind on the subject of this ridiculous “Masquerade” is beyond embarrassing. The truth is that the elders who sponsored this little convention have already made up their mind and will enforce their will through the power of their blood and that of those whose loyalty they’ve already secured.” – Sabela

The other girl shrugged.

“I was under an impression that these are simple guidelines and that –.”

“Oh, no, no, no! What I’m telling you is that what they’re planning is Absolute Control. These won’t be “Guidelines” they’ll be commandments written the stones that they’ll eventually bury you with.” – Sabela

“As long as you don’t flaunt your nature, murdering people in the streets, enthralling and ghouling or even embracing with abandon I don’t think there’ll be much of a problem.”

Sabela was seething. The stolen blood burned in her veins, begging her to bash the girl’s ignorant head in, to enshroud her in nightmares and to twist her mind until it snapped while raptors and vermin ate her undying corpse.

Before she could say one word, before she could act on her darkest desires, a large dark figure appeared at the girl’s side. He was handsome and had the bearing of nobility and Sabela thought that she recognized him, though she couldn’t quite place how.

“You’re not talking politics with this one are you?” – The man asked of Sabela.

“No.”

“Good, because this one’s not been right since the night she was turned, I am Alexander Habsburg of the Ventrue, might I have the pleasure of learning your name?”

“This is Sabela. She’s funny.” – Qamar

It was clear that Alexander was aware of the danger that Sabela posed to the girl. She was also aware that two other figures were approaching. The first was dressed in the robes of a Franciscan Monk, while the other was dressed in the finest French fashion.

“We could not help but notice your philosophical debate, milady, I am Fr. Jean-Marc and this is my cousin Gilbert d’Harfleur and we would love to join in the discussion if you do not mind.”

“Of course you’re welcome, I could use some help in explaining to this fledgling that the measures that the Founders have already taken show what they’ll be willing to do given more authority. That these Laws that they wish to enact will be absolute.” – Sabela.

“I am sorry, but I couldn’t disagree more. We were Embraced under the most dire of circumstances and have been determined these long years to not allow our Clans’ differences to alter our previous ties to blood. The measures being put forth are to protect the Mortals from the depredations of our kind as much as they are to protect us from the living.” – Jean-Marc

“That’s all well and good, but I don’t remember granting them power over me. Indeed I’ve never actually met any of them.” – Sabela

“We came here because we want peace. We were hoping to convince you to approach the matters discussed here with compassion, no matter your view, because punitive measures in this situation would, as you say, be highly out of place. We have a need for the mortals whose lives, have, until now, depended upon the whims of capriciously cruel monsters, they should be allowed to live their lives without fear of our depredations.” – Jean-Marc

“This war must end. Too many of them have died needlessly, to many of us have lost ourselves to the beast and the sun and the flames because we cannot be bothered to remember that life is precious. The Camarilla can act as a forum in which we can air our grievances without bloodshed. – Gilbert.

It was a pretty speech.

“And their solution for all of this, the payment necessary to access this forum is to be subjected to a Blood Oath.” – Alexander

“You have to admit that some of these Anarchs have taken this revolt to far, dear Alexander, after all we are a product of one such act of brutality.” – Qamar

“I do not have to admit any such thing and the result of that brutal act is that, nearly forty years later we are hale and hearty, so to speak, while our families and enemies are dust.” – Alexander

“And besides, until now humanity has thrived under these conditions.” – Sabela

“Yes, until now. But tonight they hunt us. For the first time in all of human history, the mortal world has risen up to smite the monsters in the night, shouldn’t we protect ourselves from that.” – Gilbert

“We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.”

Alexander, Sabela and Qamar all started at the craggy voice of Kyrillos Dimities.

“Alexander, Qamar, it is good to see you both again so soon after our last meeting. And Sabela, We had not expected to find you here, so far from Paris, where We were assured you were. But where are our manners, gentlemen, we are called Kyrillos Dimities.”

“We have heard of you, Lord Kyrillos, I am Gilbert and this is Jean-marc. We did not realize that you knew these three, it is most serendipitous.”

“Indeed, we could not agree more.” – Kyrillos

“You know him?” – Sabela

“We’ve met.” – Alexander

“Alexander is afraid of my Uncle even though I assured him that he was kind.” – Qamar.

Sabela padded the girl on the shoulder.

“My dear, you have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Dear Heart, I’ll explain later.” – Alexander

The Ventrue was surprised that the child-vampire was handling the presence of so many elders.

“Whatever may happen, Sabela, I want you to know that we are glad that you’ve survived.” – Kyrillos

The girl smiled nervously.

“If it’s any consolation, I was unaware that any of you would be there and have since sworn off burning down any more castles, I am truly sorry I put you in danger.” – Sabela

“You burned down a castle? Absolutely stunning!” – Alexander

“Did anyone die?” – Alexander

“There were twelve casualties in total, not counting a multitude of mortals.” – Kyrillos

“Did they scream?” – Alexander, breathlessly.

“No, they – wait, what?” – Sabela

Qamar laughed nervously.

Jean-Marc and Gilbert both flushed in anger, making the family resemblance that much easier to recognize.

“Forgive Alexander, he’s a degenerate.” – Qamar

“It seems to me that the obvious answer to all of this is that the upstarts should be bound to the elders.” – Kyrillos, returning to the original conversation.

“But wouldn’t that only anger them more?” – Qamar

“Only at first, but the fight would leave them after the oath set in.” – Kyrillos.

“I for one don’t believe that God’s yet abandoned us and that there’s still hope for our redemption and that such bondage would weigh heavily on whichever soul were so unlucky to have to bear it.” – Jean-Marc

Sabela and Alexander both began to laugh ruefully.

“Redemption?” – Sabela

“Yes, I for one have remained a priest and have found my faith bolstered by my condition. Before my Becoming I sought power and influence, now I seek only God’s grace.” – Jean-Marc

Sabela and the others thought on his words.

“You know, you make a good point, and I couldn’t agree more that this war must end here and now, but that being said, I think that their grace comes at too great a cost and that I’d rather meet my final death than be bound for eternity to them.” – Alexander

“The Blood Oath is rarely eternal, Alexander, it could only last a year or so.” – Qamar

“That’s not how it works sweetie.” – Alexander

“I don’t believe that the war will end with eternal subjugation.” – Jean-marc

Gilbert grew silent even as his cousin impotently reassured the neonate and Sabela noticed that his faith in his beloved “Founders” motives had been rattled.

October 19, 1493, 10:00pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

The Second Night began much the same as the first, with the delegations coming together in the courtyard, and segregating themselves along lines of loyalty. The makeup was nearly the same, with only a few faces having changed sides, or abandoning the Convention altogether.

The results of the previous night’s discussion are summarized as the night began before Myca Vykos took the Dias to make an impassioned plea in favor of the goals of the Anarchs.

“For too long have we suffered under the yoke of the elders outdated leadership! We are not childer to be forever told to mind our elders and to be punished when we step outside the bounds of what some ancient anachronism considers “Proper”. We are thinking beings. Powerful Beings! And if we are not according the respect we are owed we will take it by force!”

The Anarchs bellowed approvingly while Sanchez smirked derisively.

“So says the five century old Fiend who cut out a domain in the middle of war-torn Transylvania before Diablerizing his sire and taking his domain to score political points.” – Sanchez, to no one in particular.

A particularly twisted looking Nosferatu who wore the emblem of an Archon laughed as the Tzimisce delegate stepped down and then stopped abruptly when Hardestadt himself strode across the courtyard amidst catcalls and heckles from all quarters.

“Let whelps like Vykos yelp and posture! It is age and wisdom that deserve to rule. He and his ilk are fit only to bow down before us, beg our forgiveness for daring to question their elders and receive a good whipping for their impertinence.” – Hardestadt

Roars and snarls from the Anarchs nearly drowned out the High-Lord as he paced across the stage.

“Is he mad?” – Kyrillos asked Teresa who could only watch wordlessly.

“We have already crushed this pathetic rebellion into the dust along with the Saracens and we are only here because they have sued for peace, realizing that they cannot stand against us. There will be retribution, for they have acted like unruly and destructive children. Still they are our childer and we shall forgive them but only when they agree to proper retribution and cease this pathetic rebellion.” – Hardestadt

Sanchez noted that both Eleanor de Valois and her Sire, Adana de Sforza, were hiding their face in shame at the High-Lord’s outburst just as those delegates who came in the name of the Camarilla could not decide whether to cheer or cringe.

Vykos, for his part, was nearly apoplectic, his oft serene features were twisted into a horrific mask as he stepped forward, cursing the ancient Ventrue.

The normally reserved Fiend tore away his emerald robes and, standing naked before the assemblage reached down and tore away his manhood, the sound of tearing flesh and the splashing of cold, dead blood, sent gasps through the crowd even as he through his ragged and bloody genitals at Hardestadt as the Founder stepped off the stage, hitting him square in the face.

The Ventrue wiped the blood from his face with his raven-black cloak before turning on his heel and stepping back onto the stage.

“And another thing! Some here have argued that we fear what the mortals may do to us with their inquisition and their superstitious, torch-wielding mobs. Some otherwise Intelligent Cainites have counseled that we ought to take responsibility for leading the mortals. I, for one, shall not! Why should we better the lives of the living? Do they not hound me and strike at me at every turn? I own them nothing but ashes and spite and would not stoop to help them even if we all became safer for it!” – Hardestadt, once again turning to step off the stage, incidentally crushing Vykos’ manhood under his boot.

Even some Anarchs cheered for the Elder as he returned to his place at the northern edge of the gathering, whilst more than a few supporters seemed utterly turned off by the whole thing.

Eleanor de Valois stepped forward, her obvious anger marring her delicate features as she called for the next speaker. Sanchez was in his own mind and for a moment hadn’t realized that it was his name that she was calling.

Sanchez made his way across the courtyard to calls of “Traitor” and “Sellout” from either side of the aisle. He turned to look back at Raphael to see that the young Founder was smiling.

“As you could hear from my reception as I came to stand here, I’ve never been one for acceptance amongst my peers. In the last three centuries I have had more blood-hunts called on my head than I think, everyone here combined. But the fact remains that we have to find a way to coexist, not just with each other, but with the mortals as well. If we don’t either we will be forced to go to war with humanity, a war that we will not survive, or we go so deep into hiding that our numbers would dwindle to the point of our destruction. They have number, time and the sun itself on their sides! Now, I’m not saying that we need to be friends, or that the Anarchs should bow down to the elders no more than I am saying that the elders must sacrifice their own holdings to ungrateful childer.”

The crowd murmured dismissively, while Hardestadt shook angrily where he stood, glaring at the smiling Raphael de Corazon.

“I know that this is an impossibility for any of you to consider but what if the tables were turned? What if the Anarchs had won and it was the Elders who sued for peace? Would you want them to rape your domains and bind you in blood, or worse? Would you want to be at their mercy? Because I promise you, from experience, that one night, no matter what happens here, you will be at their mercy. Not as enemy combatants, per se, but it will happen.”

“We’d eat them and be done with it!” – it was the violent Ventrue neonate that Jean-Marc had warned him about, the one called Alexander.

“You know what, I give up! If you really want destruction or subjugation than there’s nothing I or anyone else here can do for you. We are here to broker a peace and to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again, because no matter how powerful you think you are there is no way you can win, there is too much against us, whether it is the living the newly or ancient dead, you are all outclassed due to the sheer weight of numbers. But like I said, I’m done here. Good luck with eternity, because it’s going to end too soon.”

And with that, Sanchez walked away, leaving the courtyard entirely. To his surprise he heard the sound of cheering.

October 20, 1493, 4:22am
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

When the speeches had all but come to an end Lupe went off in search of Vykos only to find herself alone in the crowd and wandering aimlessly.

“They tell me we come from a clan of philosophers.”

Lupe turned to find a dark young woman standing far too closely.

“I beg your pardon?”

“The Brujah, we are the Learned Clan, and yet I see an unfortunate trend amongst our ranks toward bestiality and barbarism.” – the girl.

“That seems to be the case, yes.” – Lupe

“Forgive me, I am called Lilika and I serve as Adana de Sforza’s Archon. I have heard that, despite your political leanings, you are possessed of a scholastic mind and that you are open to knew ideas. Do not misunderstand me, my sympathies lie with those that desire freedom, I simply cannot countenance the rash behavior of your fellows.”

When Lupe did not respond the Archon continued.

“I had to suffer many indignities when I lived from those who did not believe that a woman could be educated, and so I understand the arguments of those of you who feel that your sires do not grant you the respect you deserve. Even before my Embrace I sough that respect, and fought for it when newly Embraced as vigorously as the you now do. I have been known to rebel merely for the sake of proving I had the right to disagree with my elders. Still, I would counsel you to prudence.

“I have read the works of the Greek and Roman philosophers as well as the writings of theologians and mathematicians. All wise thinkers counsel moderation and self-control over sheer self-indulgence and extremes of behavior. I see neither of these virtues arising from anarchy. I do believe that the Camarilla is an attempt at self-control and that the Masquerade provides a way for us to walk the middle road set forth by Aristotle. I hope that you, too, can envision the virtue that lies in containment and responsible government.”

“Thank you, Lilika, that was a well thought and provocative argument.” – Lupe before turning and walking away.

Lupe found herself, once again in the Courtyard where Kyrillos Dimities was standing upon the stage.

“Friend, enemies, We are known as Kyrillos Dimities, childe of Gregorius and of Byzantium. We wish to reiterate some of those points made tonight from our own perspective. While we agree that we must hide away from Humanity, which does not mean we must cower. Instead we must use our anonymity to manipulate the world of men to our own ends. To that end, an august body of honored peerage would establish clearly defined rules for Elder and Neonate alike so that the horrors of the past century need never threaten us again. As for the Anarchs we feel that they must be accepted back into proper society with only the most dangerously violent or seditious being bound to a patron until their rage is soothed. Some amongst them may find this harsh, however one must take the long view and remember that the path of violence oft erodes one sense of self. This rings especially true of those who are plagued by the whisperings of a Beast that gnashes its teeth at our soul, struggling to devour the last vestiges of who we once were. That is all we wish to say. Goodnight.”

“Everything that guy just said is horseshit!” – Alexander bellowed as the old man stepped off the dais.

Before she could have words with the boorish knight she caught sight of Vykos and his entourage and fled the Courtyard.

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