The Transylvania Saga

Chapter 12-3 - The Fifth Tradition

October 20, 1493, 10:00pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

As with the night before, the third night of the Convention of Thorns began with a summary of the previous night’s speeches and debates as reported by the Archons to the Founders and it was clear that, while consensus was all but impossible, it appeared that some common threads were beginning to emerge.

The first speaker was Husayn al-Fatin, who spoke with a softly confident voice, begging the convocation to show leniency upon the Banu Haqim.

“The talk of the Children of Haqim that I have heard here, and in domains across the Continent, is filled with gross exaggerations and insulting prejudice. We of the so-called Clan of the Hunt carry out a necessary service for those vampires who do not wish to dirty their hands with the blood of their Cainite brethren. Our traditions are both ancient and honorable and are governed by rigorous discipline in order to prevent spurious and unauthorized Murder.” – Husayn

The entirety of the assemblage seemed to scoff at once.

“We do not wish to submit to an authority that we neither recognize nor comprehend. Can you truly blame us for exacting payment in the blood of those who would have us kill for them? We consider this price an appropriate one the risk that we take, both to our undying existence and our eternal souls, as well as a means of paying respectful tribute to the essence of a worthy adversary.

“We do not oppose your “Camarilla”. We do, however, wish to remain outside of it. Do any of you truly desire an army of Holy warriors and slayers in the command of your elders? I beseech you to think on these carefully before voicing your own opinions before this august body.” – Husayn.

The professorial Assamite had not yet stepped from the Dais when Mistress Fanchon, the intense and imperious Tremere Justicar stormed the stage amidst cries for the destruction of the Turks and their fortress in the Persian Desert.

“The Turks would have us sympathize with their murderous ways. They would have us pity they for the “risk” they take in drinking our Hearts’ Blood! To allow this farce is beyond madness. No that they have practiced it over the last century!” – Fanchon

The Tzimisce delegation, led by Velya and Lambach Ruthven began to laugh derisively.

“Yes, for surely no Tremere would dare Drink the Hearts Blood of so many Cainites, nor would the Nascent Camarilla allow even one Clan to fall to the Greedy cravings of such devilish diablerists!” – Lambach

Soon the whole of the Courtyard was up in arms, trading barbs and death threats in equal measure. It was quickly becoming clear that should the assemblage fall to frenzy no one, no matter how ancient or puissant they might be would survive let alone keep the peace.

Suddenly, from the crowd a young, earthy looking woman with long brown hair and a round face obscured by a hood leapt from the crowd, charging the founder’s place amongst the northern wall. The Anarchs rallied around her, bellowing forth an impassioned cry that was touched with the fervor of a century of hard fought battles.

Before Hardestadt could even reach for the bejeweled hilt of his great sword, she was one him, her hood falling away to reveal a pretty face with blue eyes bright with passionate zeal as she brandished two strange wooden clubs from beneath her coarse cloak.

“May your arrogant, black heart be sundered and your soul sucked down to the deepest pits of Hell, Hardestadt!”

“Tyler!” – Hardestadt

Hardestadt’s entourage closed in on the Arch-Anarch but she was too fast, using her preternatural speed to give the appearance of retreat even as she advanced past the High-Lord’s personal guard, reappearing on the Ventrue’s flank, the strange weapons were pointed directly at Hardestadt’s dead heart.

“And this time stay dead!” – Tyler

There were multiple flashes of flame and gouts of black smoke accompanied by the deafening sound of shots ringing out.

As he was turning to face his attacker when she opened fire, Hardestadt was forced to stumble back, falling over his own feet before falling under his own weight.

Smoke rose from to black holes, the smell of gun smoke hung heavy in the air.

The Anarch crowed triumphantly over her fallen enemy.

“Hardestadt is dead! Long live the Movement!” – Tyler.

The Anarchs’ cries of victory died in their throat even as Tyler escaped the Founders and their entourage.

Hardestadt was rising to his feet. His hand cover the smoldering wounds even as he stood to his full height. The wounds obviously pained him but he was in no danger of final death.

Tyler, seeing that she failed howled in rage, cursing the name of the Founders and their Camarilla before vanishing into the night. Rafael and Sanchez attempted to give chase but she was too fast even for them.

October 21, 1493, 12:24am
Beneath the Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

“Lady Teresa Balgrad? I had thought I saw you in the Courtyard.” – Husayn.

Teresa was surprised to find herself standing face to face with the Assamite Consul.

“It has been too long, Husayn.” – Teresa

“Yes, since Timisoara, I believe, when we met beneath the little church.” – Husayn.

“Oh, yes, I’d forgotten. It seems that you didn’t make many friends tonight, Husayn.”

“Indeed, I thought for a moment that the Tremere witch would destroy me where I stood.” – Husayn

It seemed as though the Diplomat had run out of diplomacy. Teresa was careful not to enjoy it too much.

“I would say that you should feel safe here in my haven, but the truth is that we’ve never been exactly allies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish you ill personally, our enmity has long since cooled, but that does not mean that we are friends.” – Teresa

The Assassin nodded gravely.

“The funniest thing about all of this, of course, is that we were invited here by Hardestadt himself, along with your masters in the Sea of Shadows, after the end of the Bitterest of the Crusades. And now we are forced to sue for peace because we have done as was asked of us. The Tremere and Ventrue, together, have taken my homeland and now we face extinction.”

“Your clan might have been invited, but it was you and your kind that decided to debauch yourself on the blood of our elders, including, I might add, the one who founded my line.” – Teresa.

“I understand that our position is precarious. The survival of my Bloodline is dependent upon our willingness to accept the terms dictated by this gathering. I had simply hoped to ask your assistance in our attempt to gain the most favorable decision possible.” – Husayn

“Again, Husayn, while I understand you plight, and may in fact be sympathetic to it, I still cannot understand how it affects me.”

The Assamite’s face dropped.

“I’m aware that, for many years, one of my brethren has been at the disposal of your Conspiracy of Romania Princes.” – Husayn

“And?”

“Should we survive that relationship wouldn’t need to change, but should the Banu Haqim fall, what then? What would become of your ally when we are hunted like the Cappadocians who scurry away from their Giovanni successors?”

“So I should protect you so that I may have one of yours at my beck and call?”

“Would you have us placed under the rule of those who might order us to serve their own purposes? Or would it not be preferable for us to conduct our own affairs unaffected by the politics and concerns of the Camarilla? There may come a time when you may need the services of one of our Kind? Would you rest content with the suspicion that one of your enemies might hold power over us?” – Husayn.

“You are wiser than I have given you credit for, Turk, I’ll give you that. I have an ally within the Founder’s Entourage who has considerable pull with the Toreador, Rafael de Corazon. I will speak to him. But I make no promises.”

The Assamite bowed deeply before fading into the darkness of the corridors.

October 21, 1493, 1:13am
Outside the Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

Sanchez was staring out at the garden kept by the monks of the Sacred Crown when Teresa seemed to materialize beside him, her white skin practically aglow in the moonlight.

“I’ve been waiting for some time, Teresa.” – Sanchez

“I have been approached by an old acquaintance who would like a private audience with you and your friend, Rafael.” – Teresa

“Is this about Tyler and what tonight’s incident means for the Anarchs?” – Sanchez, never taking his eyes off the garden.

“No, it actually has to do with the Turks.”

The Mason’s shoulders slumped.

“I know you hold no love for them after what they’ve done under the cover of the Turkish Wars, however they do still serve a purpose when controlled.” – Teresa

“That’s a hell of a caveat.”

“But what happens when they decide to declare war? Do we run? What could we possibly do to subdue an entire Clan? Usurp them as the Giovanni have the Cappadocian Clan?”

“I’ll not run from them, nor will you. And as to the “purpose” that they serve, I have no need for it, nor does any vampire who claims membership to the Camarilla. The Masquerade has no place for their “Holy War”.” – Sanchez

“I understand that –”

“Do you? I cannot think that you do if you are here asking me to support their “cause”.” – Sanchez

Sanchez gestured for Teresa to be quiet.

“It’s a beautiful evening for a stroll through the garden isn’t it Ibrahim?” – Sanchez

Teresa looked out of the corner of her eye and saw the black-clad figure standing not six yards from her. His skin was a dark shade of mahogany which nearly blended with the shadows even under so bright a gibbous moon.

“Honored friends, how did you know I was here?”

“I recognized your Childe, Robi Bartok, as a member of the delegation and he let his thoughts betray you. I have been aware of you for some time now.” – Sanchez

“I had not expected to make myself known to you, content with letting people see what they wanted to, but I couldn’t allow my weak Brother, Husayn, prattle on any longer in the name of our Lineage.” – Ibrahim

“No one would expect you to.” – Sanchez

“It is clear to me that the Lady Teresa has been speaking with my wayward brother and has allowed his weakness to sway her. Understand this, honored friend, you do well to deny your ally’s request for aid in this matter for we are here under duress and do not intend to accept the rulings of this gathering of infidels as binding.” – Ibrahim

“Why don’t I believe that you speak for the rest of your clan?” – Sanchez

“How dare you, Remember that I am Abdul-Haqim Ibrahim al-Rashid and I have served my Lineage faithfully these three centuries and do not intend to see the walls of our holy fortress crumble under the weight of foreign demands. It is not we who began this fight! You Europeans came to our lands and slaughtered our people in the name of Your God and we responded to that offense!”

“Ibrahim, hold –” – Teresa

The Assamite was on the verge of frenzy

“You will hold your Slatternly tongue! If you do not wish to become the next victims of your leaders’ shameless desire for unlimited power over all of the children of the Banu Kayyin, you will support our insistence on complete and unfettered freedom to conduct our affairs! You will demand that your pitiful Camarilla withdraw their forces from the Holy Lands and seek not to meddle in our traditions and customs. There can be no compromise between your rulers and the Children of Haqim!”

Ibrahim was, by now, barely keeping the beast at bay and Teresa prepared for the worst. But before she was forced to act the vampire turned and melted into the night.

“Who knew that the Turks had firebrands?” – Sanchez

Teresa laughed.

“Let’s hope that the Founders know what they’re in for.” – Teresa

Sanchez joined her in her mirth.

October 21, 1493, 2:03am
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

Kyrillos had promised Vykos that he would meet with him three night prior and had finally made good on it only to find his way blocked by Alexander, the oafish Ventrue he’d met when he was introduced to the prince.

“Lord Vykos says to tell you that it was a mistake, you’re not who he thought you were.” – Alexander.

The Anarch sneered as Kyrillos turned to walk away.

“On second thought, dear boy, perhaps it is you that we should be speaking to, as it seems that our old friend is not quite himself.” – Kyrillos

The look on the young Anarch’s face was one of abject fear.

“I will not.” – Alexander.

“Fear not, young man, for we mean only to enlighten and educate you in the ways of the Long Night.” – Kyrillos

“I’ll learn from you, Uncle.” – Qamar

Kyrillos set a finger over the girl’s lips.

“Hark; do you hear what we hear?” – Kyrillos

“No.”

The Malkavian elder’s eyes became unfocused as he concentrated.

What he heard were the errant thoughts of the young Brujah with whom he kept crossing paths:

“I wish to learn from you, Master Vykos, it is said that of all the Cainites in Christendom you are the most knowledgeable of our dark Father and his time in Nod.

“While I am sure that our time together would be both fascinating and illuminating for both of us, now is not a good time, little one. However, this is neither the time nor the place for such a conversation. Should you wish to continue it; we are planning a grand spectacle to end these festivities. If you joined us, afterwards I shall give you all the time in the world and would even take you on as a student if you so wished it.”

“Thank you, sir, I would be most honored!”

Kyrillos blinked once and then again.

“Are you okay, Uncle?” – Qamar

“Yes, my child, it is a sad truth that insight comes with a price.” – Kyrillos

October 21, 1493, 10:00pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

When Kyrillos entered the Courtyard there was already someone upon the Dais. He wore little more than a burlap loin cloth and some ancient looking jewelry. His skin was dark and weathered and what little hair he had was white and as wispy as smoke.

This was Unmada, the oldest waking Malkavian in the entire world.

“I foresee a rain of blood and fire that consumes us all if we do not unite. My Clan, the Children of Malkav, shall perish utterly if we do not make common cause with those who seek to end senseless warfare and destruction. We must overcome our blind, unreasoning hatred for those different from ourselves and accept our childer back into our hearts, lest we destroy them and destroy ourselves by our unthinking cruelty to our younger brethren.”

The elder was helped off the stage by his Childe, Vasantasena, before an open forum was called.

A few vampires attempted to make a speech but were quickly booed off the stage for various reasons before Sanchez demanded to be heard.

“We who have gathered here have done so in the promise that we will finally see an end to this bitter crusade. For the last three nights, we have come to this place and those with something to say have stood upon this stage and spoken their minds, for good or ill and yet by the coming of each dawn it seems that we have taken two steps back away from any sort of accord. So I say enough! If we’re going to do this, then let’s do this! Get over our damned pride, our anger our jealousies and all the petty shit that the Beast that gnaws at our breasts feeds on and just do it, broker the peace, do what needs to be done and be DONE!”

Sanchez stepped off the stage to a rather large applause, passing his ally, Rafael de Corazon as he did so.

The Founder seemed glide onto the stage as a feather on the breeze.

“The Man who just spoke up and demanded Peace is brilliant! Master Sanchez has, for the last fifty years, ruled his fiefdom of Sibiu from the shadows. He is the Architect of our future! A century ago, I met him whilst visiting Bavaria and as we spoke he taught me many things, he reminded me of something that I want to reiterate to you everyone here.

“Shut your dandy ass and give the stage to someone who matters!” – an anonymous Anarch bellowed.

“The Fifth Tradition commands us: Thou shall not reveal thy true nature to those not of the blood. Thou shall not reveal thy true nature to those not of the blood! Thou shall NOT reveal thy true nature to those not of the blood!”

Hardestadt himself approached the stage to pull him off of it.

“Do Not Seek To Drag Me From The Speaker’s Stair. You Elders, who seek to force me to silence, YOU are to blame for abandoning our sacred Traditions. It is YOUR fault that the living seek to slay us, reviling us for our excesses! You are to blame as well, Hardestadt. WE are to blame. WE have lost our claim of blood by existing so conspicuously among mortals. Living openly amongst them has been our ruin! WE violated the spirit of the Fifth Tradition, and we pay for it in blood.”

Rafael paused, no doubt expecting derisive heckles from those present, but was met with wrapped silence.

“How many of us have lost a childe or an ally to the fires of the Inquisition? How many have had to flee, leaving behind everything one we valued? Mortals are too numerous and too jealous of our power. They will try to destroy us as long as they know of us. We must hide from their envious eyes. From this time forward, we must no longer live openly, but remain hidden, pretending to be no more than mortals when we interact with them. We must adopt what my friend, Master Sanchez, refers to as a Masquerade, pretend that we are not vampires, ridicule the idea that there ever were such creatures as ourselves. This is the only way we will survive the Inquisition’s incursions. We must disappear if we are to remain in existence.”

As Rafael stepped from the Dais the crowd broke out into applause, which turned into an ovation.

During the display of solidarity Kyrillos saw a number of Tremere he had not seen in prior nights, led by none other than Etrius himself take their leave.

October 21, 1493, 10:43pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

Teresa had spent centuries keeping her distance from monasteries such as these having never understood her Clan’s propensity for the cloistered life. Now, though, she thought she understood. There was a serenity here that she hadn’t found in Alba Iulia; a sense of calm that pervaded the whole of the environment and set her beast at ease.

That was why she was so very perturbed now as she stood face to face with the Vampire that had tried to destroy her less than a generation ago.

“You have some nerve, Gypsy.” – Teresa

“You know quite well that I am no Rrom, my Queen, and casting all of the dispersions in the world at me will not make what happened any easier.” – Sabela

“So you admit you tried to destroy me.”

“Yes and no, I did set things in motion to destroy as many of the elders present as possible, but I knew that, should you show up, you would escape with ease. Now, can we please dispense with any murderous intent?” – Sabela

“Says the woman who tried to set me ablaze.” – Teresa

“I have never held a grudge against you, Lady Teresa!”

“Of course you don’t! I didn’t try to set you on fire!” – Teresa

The shadows erupted into life as if of their own accord, shaping themselves into tendrils of black ichor that plunged towards the treacherous Ravnos only to meet in the middle, finding nothing but air.

Sabela had never been there at all.

“Clever girl.” – Teresa

October 22, 1493, 3:16am
Beneath the Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

Word had spread quickly that Etrius, arguably the most powerful Tremere not yet in torpor, had arrived not for political reasons but to perform a grand ritual to insure that the Assamites would never taste the blood of another Cainite ever again.

It occurred to Sanchez, and more than a few of the other members of the Camarilla faction that the Anarchs might attempt to sabotage such a rite and they had posted a number of four man shifts to protect the Warlocks for four hours each. Fortunately at the end of his own shift it had become clear that nothing was going to happen.

He just hoped that the next shift would be as uneventful for Kyrillos.

October 22, 1493, 4:19am
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

Kyrillos sat sullenly upon a rather uncomfortable bench outside the chamber where the damned Warlocks were casting some rite that would protect all of Christendom from the blasted Turks. He had yet to figure out just how he’d been talked into not only standing guard like some pathetic Brujah or Gangrel thug, but he’d also agreed to take the last shift before dawn.

He’d watched countless monks making their way through the corridors and was not surprised to see yet another. His attitude changed when the monk took a seat next to him.

“You should not be here, it is not safe for the living! How may we help you?” – Kyrillos

“The Founders make pretty speeches don’t they?” – The Monk.

“Indeed, especially Hardestadt.” – Kyrillos

The Monk laughed.

“I have heard the blow-hard wax poetically about his myriad achievements for nights on end and we’ve all heard de Corazon praise himself for the brilliance of the Masquerade.”

“They do think very highly of themselves, an unhealthy habit to be sure. But they are good with all the talk, which makes up for the lack of anything actually being said.” – Kyrillos.

“Ha! I knew you would understand, Lord Kyrillos! Still this plan of theirs, though flawed, is better than no organization at all.”

“Indeed, but we must interject for I seem to be at a disadvantage. How do you know me, monk?” – Kyrillos

“Lord Kyrillos, forgive me. I have heard so many stories of the infamous Mad Count of Timisoara from your ally Niccolo diVenizia that I forget that we have not yet become acquainted. I am Federico.”

“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance and it has been many years since we have spoken with the old Ferryman, but as you were saying.” – Kyrillos

“What? Oh, I understand the need for order; in life I was a soldier, a mercenary in fact, selling my services across the Italian peninsula. Methodology is important even in our sordid existence, but a good soldier can think for himself. Please understand, I support the Camarilla and have since my Becoming half a century ago, but I do not blindly subject myself to its whims.”

“Good! One must test everything and accept nothing.” – Kyrillos

“Exactly! It helps to listen to the other side as well. They make their points, after all. The Elders cannot enjoy the loyalty of their childer and use them as pawns in petty displays and labyrinthine schemes. We cannot prey haphazardly upon the Living without diminishing what is left of our Humanity. The Founders have made a start, but do not expect them to carry the entire burden of responsibility.”

“No, that way leads to slavery.” – Kyrillos.

“Which in turn, leads to revolt, I knew you’d understand.” – Federico

“So, young man, what did you think of those handgonnes that the Anarch wielded against Hardestadt.”

October 22, 1493, 9:46pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

Teresa hadn’t fed since she’d arrived at the Abby and she couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone so long without blood. She could only thank God and Caine that there were so few mortals wandering the grounds to tempt her. As her mind wandered she began to think on how tedious it was to have a solid physical shape ever since she transcended it more than a generation ago.

She thought of how easy it would be to let her consciousness expand the bonds of her corporeal form, to release herself from the confines of this facsimile of her long dead body crafted from dust and Vitae.

“Lady Teresa! You would not believe who we conversed with last night!” – Kyrillos

“Who would that be, Lord Kyrillos?” – Teresa, her consciousness reasserting itself within her flesh.

“None other than your treasonous seneschal, we forget her name, the one who attempted to burn us to ash.” – Kyrillos

The room darkened ominously.

“Of course she is; how could she help herself? I must be sure to have a word with her before returning to my city.” – Teresa

“We must confess that we nearly lost control.” – Kyrillos

“She tried to destroy us, Kyrillos, it is completely understandable. These Anarchs aren’t making any friends with their antics are they?” – Teresa

“They are entertaining though.” – Kyrillos

“At least you’re enjoying yourself.” – Teresa

“How could one not enjoy last night’s exhibition? These handgonnes, even their name is guttural and ugly, what did you think of them?”

“Underwhelming.” – Teresa

“I could see their use as a party favor or as some sort of loud practical joke.”

The Black Queen smiled.

“I can imagine our Artisan friend wishing to find out how they work. Perhaps he can make use of the technology.” – Teresa

“Ha! I’ve no doubt. Blast it, milady, we’re late!” – Kyrillos

They arrived in the Courtyard to find the pulpit taken up by a crooked, ancient looking woman dressed as in the clothes of a beggar. Even from the edge of the courtyard her eyes seemed to shine with unwholesome green light. She was currently speaking with a voice far more powerful than her frail from would suggest over a hostile crowd of hecklers.

“…de Corazon has proposed that we hide from the Living, that we make them forget that we ever existed and it seems that many of you agree with him…”

Teresa looked at the assembly and realized that those vampires loyal to the Camarilla had grown by half, leaving a shockingly small sample of Anarch Delegates who continued to strut bombastically despite their dwindling numbers.

“…Others among you think we should crush them. I would argue for a third course: Let us leave the Living alone. We shall not hide from them, nor shall we seek to revel in their fear of us. You who want to compel their obedience, what fools you are! You cannot even govern your own childer, much less thousands of mortals. And you who seek to bury the knowledge of our kind and hide your face from mortal scrutiny, you, too are fools. Once known, always ready to be rediscovered. But play your game, indulge in this Masquerade of yours. It shall serve you – for a while – and be all the worse when your true nature is revealed. No mask lasts forever. Take care lest when the Masquerade ends the Living hunt you again – not because they fear you, but because you have lied to them and made them look the fool. I call for leaving the mortals alone, but I am only one woman and a Ravnos at that. No doubt you tired of listening to such a low clan long ago.” – Durga Syn

Teresa was impressed by the White Mother, whom had writhed her way into the Founders’ bosom as the Ravnos stepped off the dais.

Once she was gone the conversation turned to the Justicars and their succession before Eleanor de Valois once again returned to take the stage to announce that there would be one final open forum for delegates to make any final statements before they cast their votes.

After the votes were cast the crowd dispersed, the Founders and a chosen few elders taking part in the Drafting of the Treaty of the Convention of Thorns while others still finalized their plans for a statement of protest.

All the while the Tremere continue to cast their ritual.

October 23, 1493, 2:32am
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

Alexander walked out of the Courtyard with Lupe as she railed against the Camarilla. He was still having a hard time believing that the nun that he’d met a so many years before had become this iconoclastic rebel. Though he’d long sympathized with the Anarch cause he couldn’t help but blame them for his current state and had long decided to always be on the side holding the reigns, meanwhile the Spanish nun had fallen in with the Fiends and the other Antitribu.

“Don’t believe a word of it.” – a voice from the shadows.

“Lord Vykos! It is an honor and a privilege to be graced by your presence again.” – Lupe

Alexander recognized the vampire before him as the one who had castrated himself.

“Its all a mockery of course. These strutting peacocks truly believe that by enforcing their pretense of a Masquerade and ruling the actions of their childer with fists of iron that they can delude the world into ignoring our existence.” – Vykos

“Do you believe we still have a chance milord?” – Lupe, hopefully.

“No, sister, our cause is indeed lost. They will seek to crush our spirits and tame our actions so that we become mere extensions of their power!” – Vykos

“But you’ll show them!” – Alexander

Vykos sneered at Alexander’s mocking tone.

“How can you just return to the sheepfold like a lost little lamb when you know the glory of living like the wolf?” – Vykos.

“Perhaps they believe that by aping the Living they might rejoin them.” – Lupe

Vykos cackled at the thought.

“My, but you are a lovely girl!”

“I’m sorry, Lord Vykos, but I intend to be on top when this is all over.” – Alexander

“Then why pretend to be something less than yourself?” – Vykos

“Not revealing your nature as an Immortal does not preclude controlling them from the shadows. Aren’t we immortal? Aren’t we possessed of eldritch power over ourselves and others? Why do we have to put all that in jeopardy by revealing our natures to the Living?” – Alexander

The Tzimisce scoffed.

“Well, if you change your mind some of us are planning a grand spectacle to celebrate our refusal to submit to their decrees. If you wish to join us in exploring the fragility of the Camarilla’s so-called Masquerade join us in Silchester tomorrow evening. The mortals here will never forget that we are immortal blood drinkers and madness made flesh!” – Vykos

Vykos turned to leave and Lupe followed, leaving Alexander alone with his thoughts.


“But, Myca, we love you as if you were our own blood.” – Kyrillos

The Malkavian had cornered his old ally as the Tzimisce fled the courtyard, challenging him for his cowardice in their earlier meeting.

“If you truly had any affection for me, Kyrillos, you will join me tomorrow night otherwise I shall treat you as an enemy to my cause.” – Vykos

As the angry and misshapen vampire stormed off Kyrillos couldn’t help but notice the fear he felt beneath the bluster. Fear of being bound to the elders, fear for his own existence and something else, on the very edge of his conscious thought, a fear so dark he’d hidden it even from himself.

Kyrillos couldn’t help but pity the Fiend.

*

“I’d thought we’d never get a moment alone my dear girl.” – Teresa

Sabela looked desperately for an escape but could see nothing through the curtain of darkness that the Black Queen had surrounded them with.

“It’s been far too long, my lady, how goes it in Alba Iulia?” – Sabela

“It goes very well, though your absence is felt very deeply.”

“You’re too kind but I am sure that you have handled it with all the grace that befits a lady of your station.” – Sabela

“Indeed, but without you I fear that I may grow complacent. No other Cainite dares to raise their sword against me. I cannot remember the last time one of my friends tried to burn me alive.”

Sabela let out a pathetic sort of laugh.

“Oh, don’t fret, dear heart, I hold you no ill will. You are ambitious and I have nothing but respect for that. However, it saddens me that you did not have the nerve to come at me directly.” – Teresa

“My lady, I… I have no apology for that. What I did I did not do out of malice for you, for I have held you in eternally high esteem. My actions were a necessary evil, a machination set forth to destroy the ancient vampires, Cretheus and Rustovitch. When I learned that you and the others had arrived my hands were already tied. There was no way for me to undo it. I did pray, though, that you would all survive and have cried tears of joy since learning of your fate.”

“Yes, well, be grateful that I am in a forgiving mood, lest the Legendary Ravnos survival instinct be truly put to the test.” – Teresa

The Black Queen turned on her heel to leave then and there when a figure manifested within their abyssal shroud.

The figure was male and had, in life, been well fed. His eyes were the color of roasted almonds and his skin was the color of honey. His curly black hair was pulled back no doubt by a silk ribbon.

He dressed in the finest Spanish fashion.

“Lady Teresa Balgrad, Black Queen of Alba Iulia and Scion of the Fallen Sea of Shadows, I am called Gabriel and I pray that you can give me a moment of your time.” – The Vampire in German accented Spanish.

Teresa did not say a word, she was strangely hesitant as he spoke.

“I apologize for interrupting you but time grows short and I have much to do before the coming of the sun.” – Gabriel

“Go on.”

The vampire laughed.

“I concede that you have amply demonstrated your power to dictate terms for us. However, you must understand that some of us will not bow to your rule. That is not to say, though, that we wish to draw an irrevocable line between us, but there are issues at stake here that the Founders do not fully understand.” – Gabriel

“And what, exactly, is it that would mystify the Founders?” – Teresa, noting that Sabela had fled as they spoke.

“For one, we need to break free of the chains that bind us to the sleeping ones, the ancient founders of our clans. The dangers inherent in an organization like the Camarilla, which attempts to keep younger Cainites enthralled to their elders, cannot be overstated. You are making a mistake if you believe that you will find safety within such an organization of puppets who refuse to acknowledge the most ancient of us.”

She liked this Anarch.

“Please, reconsider your motives for quashing the actions of those of us who disagree with you. Whose hidden schemes dictate your actions? Do you know who your masters truly are? Think on it before you destroy your own chance for responsible freedom.” – Gabriel

Teresa was taken aback by the statement. Like the Tzimisce, the First Lasombra had long ago gone on to whatever hell awaited it, but what of the Founders? None of them so much as thought of such a thing, and she’d met Tremere, she saw the eldritch power that came off of him in waves. What must the first Brujah be like? What of the Ventrue… or Malkav for that matter.

“Milady, we’ve learned to undo the power of the Blood Oath. Loyalty cannot be bought, it must be earned. It is the first lesson we learned in the endless war. The second is that slaves do not make the best soldiers. Come, join us in our army, for when Gehenna comes we will be ready to make war against the Ancients and their pawns.” – Gabriel

With that he vanished once more into the darkness, leaving the Black Queen to ponder his words.

October 23, 1493, 10:00pm
The Abby of the Sacred Crown
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

The arguments had been made, heard and the final course of action had been decided. Eleanor de Valois read from the newly finished Treaty of Thorns.

“Many years have passed since the start of our current conflict, now called the Anarch Movement. Be it known that on this night of 23 October, 1493, the Jyhad has ended. The time for self-destruction is over.

“This Convention, bound in the Covenant of Caine by sacred vow, represents an unyielding, vigilant truce between the Kindred known unto themselves as the Anarchs, the Clan Assamite, and the free-standing Kindred bound under the title of Camarilla. Henceforth, the parties shall be recognized by faction as the Anarchs, the Assamites and the Camarilla.

“Each of the parties agrees to the responsibility of maintaining peace. Each shall lay its censures upon any who breach or oppose this sacred Agreement. Accounting will be made of all parties for violations by them to either the letter or the spirit of this Agreement. This document is legally binding under the accepted Lextalionis of all Cainites as it has passed through the ages. All Kindred are entreated to accept and gain pleasure from this peaceful accord.

“Be it known that the Anarchs will enjoin with the Camarilla as an accepted part, making it whole. Anarchs are expected to work peacefully to achieve their own ends. They must become defenders of all, and they shall receive full entitlement to all rights and privileges belonging to all Camarilla Kindred. All Anarchs shall be accepted back unto their elders and their formerly denounced clans without any fear of reprisal. Only the most vicious of atrocities shall not be forgiven. These shall stand written for the Justicars to hear within one year, after which all allegations are no longer valid. All Anarchs shall reclaim all remaining and rightful property confiscated from them. In return they must turn over any war gains taken during the conflict by giving them to their sires or any recognized Clan Elder.

“Know also that if the Anarchs are further warred upon, this open jyhad invalidates their responsibility to maintain peace with their attacker. They may act freely without fear of reprisal from non-active members of the Camarilla. Anarchs are guaranteed the freedom to act as they please, short of breaching the “Masquerade” imposed for the protection of all Kindred from the kine.

“It is also noted that any member of any other self-proclaimed sect must openly declare this before his elders and renounce this relation. Failure to do so will result in the destruction of any deemed guilty. No Kindred may be sent unknowingly to his death by an elder or sire, unless the security of Clan or Camarilla outweigh the possible loss of unlife.

“From this night forward, the Assamites shall henceforth no longer commit diablerie upon members of other clans. The Assamites must commit themselves to this acceptance by a mark of assurance placed upon them in the form of a Thaumaturgical limitation. All members of the Assamites will become unable to drink freely of the vitae of other Kindred from now until forever. In addition, the Assamites shall pay the elders of Clan Brujah of Spain two thousand pounds of gold, in ransom of the five Assamite Elders captured committing diablerie. Also, the Assamites may no longer participate in Blood Hunts.

“Be it also known the Assamites are guaranteed complete independence from Camarilla demands. The Assamite fortress, Alamut, shall be free from any further assaults. Assamites are also granted, out of respect of their beliefs, the freedom to commit diablerie within their own Clan without restraint and the right to commit diablerie upon all Kindred not recognized as holding membership within the Camarilla.

“It is rendered that all parties involved and all showing allegiance to any of these parties shall be held responsible for all aspects of this Convention brought forth here, in the neutral Kingdom of England, outside the hamlet of Thorns, near the town of Silchester. May Caine hold truth and peace for us all.”

Eleanor finished reading and placed the parchment down upon a small table set before the dais.

“All who accept the provisions put forth by the Treaty of Thorns may sign the document and all Anarchs who agree to end the hostilities with their elders must drink the blood of all elders present.” – Eleanor

The Anarchs who remained in the courtyard grumbled loudly at the pronouncement, one or two even threatened to storm out, but they would acquiesce, they had already done so simply by remaining behind when the others fled into the night.

Suddenly a voice called out from amongst the crowd. The body turned to see Vasantasena, the beloved and devoted childe of Unmada.

“We are a wounded people, and this agreement is no balm to sooth us. This is a thorn in the heart of all Kindred…”

When she was finished speaking Vasantasena turned and walked out of the Convention. Seven vampires followed her, three of them belonging to the Founders’ entourage, all of them Malkavian.

The rest of the Convention watched impotently, incapable of acting, or of even thinking. When they were gone none could even remember her statement clearly.

As they queued up to sign the treaty, first the Founders, then their fellow elders and loyalists and finally the Anarchs who were made to drink from a silver chalice to prove their commitment to peace. Sanchez couldn’t help but be sickened by the whole affair, and no more than by his own actions. He also noticed the complete lack of certain members of the Anarch delegation, specifically the Tzimisce contingent and their hangers on, but also of the Black Queen.

“Look how far we’ve come.” – Sanchez, to no one in particular.

October 24, 1493, 8:07pm
The Ruins of Silchester
The Domain of Father Samuel
Prince of Southampton

When Lupe agreed to follow Myca Vykos and his fellows into Silchester she had done so to ingratiate herself to their cause and make them trust her enough for the exotic Tzimisce to take her under his wing and teach her what she knew of Cainite History. She had not expected this.

The once quant village was in flames. Many of the city’s denizens had escaped the carnage but far more died in the bloodbath that began as the sun buried itself beneath the horizon. Dozens of vampires raced wildly through the streets and the hills, butchering any of the Living that they found. Only last night rebels numbered fifteen but Vykos revealed a dark and twisted sorcery that allowed them to damn their victims with a horrific half-Embrace that left them as little more than mindless blood drinking monstrosities.

The young Antitribu couldn’t pretend to be innocent in these affairs, she herself had taken more lives than she could keep track of. In fact she was only now coming to her senses after being overwhelmed by her Beast.

It was the sudden lucidity that had shocked Lupe the most. She’d thought that she could hide from all of this by giving into her passions but something had grabbed her and dragged her back to consciousness against her will.

Before she could take the time to mourn her own humanity, which she felt must be hanging perilously over an abyss, instead she couldn’t take her eyes off of the Romanian vampire she’d met on her first night in Thorns.

The bearded monster strode through the carnage with an aura of calm that was almost unreal and despite the serenity that marked his face and posture his eyes were filled with a kind of feral madness that she could barely withstand.

“Vykos!” – the man barely spoke at all but Lupe could hear him clearly over the din of screams and feral growls.

One of the monstrous Tzimisce, a great horned gray creature, stepped forward, his steps falling heavily and crushing the corpses it trod upon.

“You have come to join us, Kyrillos?” – The creature in Greek.

“No. I’ve come to put a stop to this abomination.”

The creature rippled, flashing blood and bone and viscera and then it was Myca, standing naked before the Count.

“Abomination? This spectacle is nothing short of the glorious product of our work, old friend!” – Myca.

“No. We’ve only ever used the Larvae in such a way once before, and that was only because of the desperate need of our survival.” – Kyrillos

“But so is this! Our cause is more important than any one of us and any number of this chattel.”

“And then what? What are you going to do after this bloodbath comes to an end? You’ve created dozens of those monsters without any way of controlling them. Are you going to raise them up? Make them like us? How much of your soul are you willing to part with?” – Kyrillos

The Fiend only laughed.

Lupe watched from her vantage point, unseen by anyone as a number of the mindless beasts… Vykos called them Larvae… began to converge upon the two vampires.

“Ah look, Milord, it seems that these poor souls have come looking for you to nurture them!” – Vykos

“We’ll not forgive you for this, Myca.” – Kyrillos

The Tzimisce laughed again as the Larvae honed in on the Malkavian.

“ENOUGH.” – Kyrillos

The Tzimisce’s laughter came to a sudden stop at his opponent’s ever so soft words. Lupe didn’t know how the monster weaved a spell with his words but its effect was apparent.

“Get Out Of My Head!” – Vykos

The fiend covered his eyes and tried desperately to cover his eyes and ears, smearing his flesh as he did so and wiping his features from his once beautiful face.

“NO.” – Kyrillos

His voice was no more than a whisper and Lupe could see streaks of red blood pouring down his cheeks but even from her vantage point she could feel the Monster’s voice twisting through her mind like fingers through clay.

Below Myca Vykos began to Roar in fear and pain. The last Lupe saw of him before she had to flee was his frenzied retreat into an already burning building.

Lupe, horrified by the destruction of her newest teacher took solace in the fact that, when she fled the Count was being set upon by a host of Larvae.

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