Unconquered

Letter to the Duke

My Old Friend,

Things have become a mess. Marthanes is still missing and this has lead me to some rather eccentric behavior. None of our leads have produced any signs of the Viscount. My companions have grown to fear me. Good. I mean to do awful things and this likely will not bode well for them. For starters, I have convinced a large number of Nosferatu that it is time for them to take out Bishop Anaximander. Of course, a straight up assault just wouldn’t d0. I’ve taken Solomon off of his leash and he’s collected a large pack of wolfs to rampage over this city’s structure. The chaos will be immense and the cost to rebuild will likely be beyond what the current residents can afford.

Ah, but a proper rampage couldn’t end with just a slaughter and the death of one bishop. No, this city is far too disgusting to get away with so little. So many grudges with no steps towards resolution. So many unstable elders left to their own ends because nobody is willing risk ending them. It’s time for real change, the change that can only happen when grudges end in blood, blood, and more blood. Topper and Briar Jack should do. It would be a shame if Topper won though, I could have a lot of fun with Jack. Oh, I hear them fighting now. I think Jack just bit off one of Topper’s fingers. Ah yes, Anaxmander. I was a bit distracted. Obfuscating writing a letter while holding up a conversation is a bit tricky after all.

He’s still focused on what drove me to this. Perhaps he thinks he can pull back my madness for long enough to prevent his death. It seems Ovidius has arrived through his weird blood door and is trying to do the same. It seems he thinks he’s discovered who is behind all of this.

Just as planned. Whoever this shadow player is should be far too entrenched for us to win a secret war. This is his terrain and it would be his game. No, showing a weakness and forcing him to make a move, that’s the play. Of course this meant going a bit insane, not the first time I’ve driven myself there in the name of a mission. That doesn’t matter, by the end of the night we should know the identity of our mystery player and thus so shall you. If they slay us, then you know exactly who needs to die to take Rome. If we survive and drive out this other force, then I will certainly need to be punished for my many breaches of the masquerade. Of course, not many can put a duke on trial, which means that you would need to send a highly trusted representative. Just like old times.

As always your loyal sociopath,

Jacob

View
Storm's Rome Journal, Third Entry
May 5, 2012

The city is in chaos. It has been a long time since I have felt powerless, and last night brought to the fore feelings of insecurity and doubt I would not feel comfortable sharing, not with the kindred of this city, and certainly not with my Invictus employers. They respect power, and I will not allow them to see me as a worthless tool in their arsenal.

But how can one feel powerful when events in this city spiral so rapidly out of control? I ran security for the event, damn it. I was supposed to be the threat that kept everyone in line. As if mass frenzy in the streets can be stopped. What fresh batch of Masquerade breaches are out on the streets, convinced of our reality, ready to descend upon us with fire? What new punishment shall the Bishops mete out, after we made such a farce of their trial?

Aye, we. I’ve come to respect the Invictus, and perhaps they have come to respect my abilities. In these uncertain times, I feel myself in need of safe haven from outside forces, and heaven help me but the eye of the storm seems safest. With Marthanes missing in the aftermath, they may just welcome the assistance.

I’m not so faithless that I’m ready to jump ship on them. I told them I would protect them, they’re just making my life difficult. The kindred of the city might just be expecting me to jump to safety soon. Perhaps I can surprise them. Loyalty is more complicated than anyone can suspect. Though I suspect a few already do.

View
Storm's Rome Journal, Second Entry
April 14th, 2012

Things have been busy since I last wrote in my journal, but there is time before sunrise, and I know the carpenters have not finished my new door yet. Let me catch up a bit before I hit current events.

Everything in this city is just a bit wrong. I’d though a non Invictus city would have a lower population of elders compared to what I saw in Constantinople, but there are a handful of the old and a small handful of the truly ancient stalking these streets. The Lancea Sanctum survived the fall of Rome for a reason, and the Bishops hold power like they know what they’re doing with it. Perhaps the Invictus and the Sanctum are more alike than they know, replacing the absolute power of a deity figure for the soft power of rulership. It’s all just power to us.

Duke Brightstone attempted to explain my “misunderstanding” of the situation back in Constantinople. While I don’t picture myself ever going back to that city, Brightstone made it clear that he didn’t want to kill me, he wanted me to work for him. Okay. I could stand to get paid again.

That was a little while ago. Since then I’ve been escorting Notaries, setting up meetings, providing protection, and soon going on an expedition. Alder Ovidius found a guide among the local Nosferatu willing to bring us to the ruins of the Camarilla. It’s probably plenty dangerous down there, as the other contractors hired on are a pair of ancient and powerful Nosferatu. No sense discounting our guide either, if she’s old enough to remember the way down.

All of this in the middle of juggling Bishops. His Grace of Ankara sent a politely worded refusal of Bishop Anaxamander’s invitation to have the killers bear witness for their crimes in killing Kenneth. The rest of the night he was out, pressing hands and selling the story I guess, because as I hear it the plan is to hold a real trial, with an authority other than the Bishops present. I don’t know about you, but I figure every trial needs Justice.

I got the job with Appolio, and he likes how close I’m getting with the Invictus. Horses and people, and I’ve got the time I need to groom something good together for him. In return, he’s going to help accommodate my feeding habits, introduce me to a few kindred he thinks wouldn’t mind being hunted for sport.

Safe haven, good food, money. Going to have a wealth of man and horse flesh at my disposal, once I set up shop. It’s not smart to ignore an old Ventrue too long, Rome. They might just remind you how they got to where they are.

View
Dear Journal,

Dear Journal,

We’ve been framed for murder! Well, we did the killing part, but it wasn’t our fault, honest.
It was this jerk named Kenneth, he started accusing us of burning down his haven for no reason!
We didn’t burn it down! At least I don’t think we did. Some of the older ones look shifty but
I think they’d want to take credit if they went to that kind of trouble. So now everyone’s on their best behavior, even the little ones. I’ve never seen them so well behaved. Must be all the beatings. So then the Shy one appears and tells us someone big is going to be murdered too! Tomorrow night! Of course, our main concern is alibis, so the Sun Poker starts talking about throwing a party. I love parties! Too bad he talked to the Gory one and found out about a game night that the smelly old Uglies were having. He makes a point of telling everyone to be there, even the really weird one with blue hair, to make sure we’re all accounted for. For extra insurance, he even invites the one with all the Keys! I wish I could’ve talked to him more, but he ran off to mess with the Seeing one and the Pretty Pagan and The Wolflord and the Sun poker wouldn’t let me get a word in. It’s ok, I’ll visit him later when no one is looking.

We show up in the underground like a marching army, and all the Uglies are mean and bickering and laughing like a bunch of monkeys. We introduce ourselves, and make new enemies. And Friends, probably. The Carpenter explains the weird stick game we’re going to play, and the Uglies insult him for his effort! Not Invictus at all! Because there are so many of us we have to share the weird sticks. That’s ok, it’s an opportunity to make friends! Or alibis, as the oldies say. The Wolflord get’s paired with the Honest one, the Pretty Pagan with the Tasty one, and the Sun poker with the Pissy one. I get paired with the really Cool one. Wow he was so cool! He even let me use the weird stick the whole time because his legs were just like weird sticks! He only disappeared a few times but that’s ok, Cool guys have things to do.

The game is finished and we all got to make new friends! Quality time. The weird one even got a new house. Funny looking key though. The one with all the Keys comes back to return the sword, and they get him all riled up about sword time. Oh well, I’ll talk to him when I seem him next.
We settle down for coffin but before that we send out the Spying one to see who got ashed.
She didn’t see anything in the short time she was out, but who knows! Maybe I’ll get to attend another funeral besides my own.

View
Idle Thoughts

I still miss the good old days. Sure there were hardships, but I would take pride overcoming them. Every elder bettered was a mark of achievement. Sure their goals were wrong, but they were willing to set their will on the line for them. That is how a kindred should live, as a manifestation of their own beliefs, and whoever believes strongest and best wins. This is not the case in Rome. The inhabitants are so listless, its… pathetic. I wouldn’t underestimate the elders, especially Justice and the Bishops. They are most likely competent, its just their aspirations seem to end at their footsteps.

Justice seems especially sharp. He’s made Storm out as a collaborator. This doesn’t disrupt plans too much, Storm’s mission is more to win over the masses as a symbol rather than a pawn to use against elders. I think perhaps it’s time for Storm to offer an inappropriate bribe to convince Justice that he is harmlessly incompetent. Perhaps if the bribe is in silver, Justice will realize that Storm is using Justice’s paranoia to insinuate allies that the wolf does not have. After all, Storm has done a magnificent job of earning Justice’s mistrust. Perhaps Storm’s plan to use this fact to get closer to Maxiander and the other bishops will work. If not then my compatriots and I will find a way to use this folly to our advantage. Sometimes I wish ole Quint or Steff were here with a plan. They were always better at this stuff than I.

I don’t know how well my own ruse is working, not that it matters. Whether Justice believes me to be a slow witted neonate with a loose tongue or a spy feeding him information, he’s receiving the message that the Invictus has resources and that he has an in. He is rather tight lipped, but he has revealed that he, Mariander, and Oppolo are old enough to remember Rome. All it cost me was a shipment of pearls and silks to arrive in the city in two months. Easily doable and irrelevant once our little The Horror plan hatches. I think at that time I may have to drop my disguise as fun as it has been. Without Eugenis here we need an individual to rally around. Marthanes is competent, but her prestige and cover makes her a slow play, and considering how she does not intend to stay and rule, this makes her less than ideal. My cover however cannot be maintained indefinitely. This fact added to the reality that the longer we hide who I am the more it will compromise our reputation. Better to reveal myself as an infamous elder tourist who cares about the city early rather than let a scandal develop.

The truth of the matter is that Rome is not the conquest I have dreamed of. It is a recruitment drive. As much as I would to subvert and conquer the cities power structure, it just isn’t centralized enough. We need to convince the inhabitants that it is in their best interest to follow our leadership. This starts with convincing the locals that our lives are better and that we ware willing to make theirs better as well. We made starts, establishing local ghouls, creating a communal haven, presenting a gift of a mortal to neighbors. Next is proving that we can make limited resources work for us followed by showing how structure benefits the community. I heard a rumor of Ovidius being involved in a faus paus with Mariander, that the matter for the most part is resolved. I need to hear the details, but perhaps a public display is in order. After all, it won’t do to have us accepting of the Sanctum’s justice for our misdeeds. I think a voluntary display of contrition should do. This of course annoys me more than anything, having to create harm for my loyal Invictus brothers and sisters, and for what? Claiming a city of the directionless. Even is this is Rome, our success will not honor her for the gem she is. We are merely ending her disgrace, and while I know in my heart that it is necessary, it leaves the taste of ash and gold in my mouth. Tonight we are not the Invictus’s champions, we are her custodians.

View
Storm's Rome Journal, First Entry
February 18, 2011

I brought a new journal, for Rome. I’m going to confess my reasoning for writing all of this down, and nothing more need be said on the matter. I have consigned myself to the fact that this collection of writings will eventually be collected, possibly condensed, into what will be my Requiem Diaries. I know no art of Resilience that preserves the mind through our long eclipse, and I will not end up like Atticus.

Invictus arrived in town not long after I did, trailing me by days. I am not surprised. The revelation of my lineage would have sparked riots among the Ventrue, and by extension the Duke’s entire entourage. Whatever reasons they have for coming here, it is their ulterior motives I fear the most. I have seen sleeper agents roaming the streets of Constantinople, kindred by the dozens acting on orders they do not remember receiving. He is an incredibly powerful man, and I a foul tempered by-blow of his now quite dead under circumstances he will not discuss WIFE.

The situation is more grave than I feared if Invictus agents are here to seek my head. I am not a pious enough man to convince the Sanctum that I am loyal enough to join them or their cause, and I do not know how much aid they will be willing to render an aged Nomad who does not align with their political and spiritual ambitions. They are kindred, like any other, and many among them are quite aged and powerful themselves. To say nothing of everything else that being kindred means, and the dangers that our kind face to one another.

There is a prison kept in the city from which I was permitted to feed. Until I can secure embrace rights and manage my own hunting once more, I will be at the mercy of still blood from veins that do not sing with the acidic thrill of terror and the chase. And too, a local Bishop has taken me under his… I’m not terribly certain what he’s done for me. But he sees me, we have introduced ourselves, and he warned me about my pursuers and which Bishop they seek counsel with.

A single kindness does not make a man my ally. But it’s a good start, and I thank him all the same for it. Now to find out just what he wants in return.

View
Written Account of Randulf Storm, Thirteenth Entry
Feburary 11th, 2012

We prepare and gather our forces. Rome is our first port of call, and though myself and the good Viscount Honoris bid for Milan, we understand the strategic importance of Rome. My childe, dutiful girl that she is, will travel with myself and our servants to our destination. She is young, but I was younger still when I marched from home to war. Still, a sire worries.

Kindred of the First Estate rally behind banners, bid influence and minions, back plays and fund expeditions. Many will remain and hold down the infrastructure of Constantinople, and provide for the needs of His Grace, so he may focus on the war effort. Many others comb the streets robbing, embracing, seeking alliances, shoring up power for a mass exodus. I do not envy the logistical nightmare the Earl of the Harbor Sophia must be facing, with so many households suddenly uprooting and pouring out from the city into the bright blue waters that await.

I once told His Grace that it is not proper for a Ventrue who does not know his lineage to reach beyond his station. Had I known what awaited me, I would have held fast to my beliefs even still. My grandsire, the sire of Alder Jason Atticus, is none other than the disgraced ex-wife of His Grace. The subject is one that seems to anger and unnerve His Grace. But there is a peace in knowing.

I wish that I had met the Atticus who could still tell me stories of her. But he is gone. And my efforts to reach out to him pushed him further away. I have raised my concerns with His Grace. I have raised my concerns with the Earl Steward. They know how unbalanced he is, and how dangerous it is not to reintegrate him with society. Would that my skills as a tracker were the equal of this task. I would do whatever it takes to bring my sire with me, and perhaps, away from the madness that has claimed him.

One cannot expect too many miracles from family. Finding my lost lineage at the hands of a Great Great Uncle of sorts was miracle enough for my years. I stand on the shoulders of giants. I am ready to show the world what I can do. I am ready to show Rome what I can do.

Watch closely.

View
Written Account of Randulf Storm, Twelfth Entry
February 4th, 2012

I did not know what it means to hunt, and I am humbled. We set ourselves free, and His Grace began to choose targets, and we complied. He had been secretly Dominating us for so many years, gibberish phrases that could not possibly be uttered randomly triggering Commands buried deeply. I am not shamed by this. To be chosen for such an honor is liberating. That His Grace chose me for his assassinations shows what a well-groomed hunter I am.

For centuries I have played at hunting with my clients and peers and servants. Chasing game and men and kindred until His Grace showed me a better way. One can hunt for food. But what a pointless use for a hunt! If one is going to bear teeth and draw blood, it should be done for the betterment of the Invictus.

I kept my claws sheathed and played my games for so long, that I did not realize what I was training for. Or that I was training. Targets on a map, cities parceled out to Alders, Constantinople wiped clean and purified of those who plot against His Grace. I see now that it was loyalty to Duke Trianuis that kept me from setting my hunts loose. Without the law of a prince I respect to keep my leash in hand, I find myself thinking fondly of Milan, Rome, Paris. No rules, new faces, surprise hunts.

I can’t wait to get started.

View
Scratched Desperately Into Bark
January 7th, 2012

Hunt went bad.

All frenzied.

Run.

View
Written Account of Randulf Storm, Eleventh Entry
Dec 3rd, 2011

Progress on the Hunt, critical staff and guests:
Mister Harpy – In charge of selling the hunt, managing the guest list and guest expectations.
Mister Kade, Harpy – In charge of setting the price of admission for prospective ticket holders.
Alder Irena Valentinus – In charge of providing mortal herds appropriate for a hunting scenario. More importantly, my guest and a lovely woman.
Meister Doren, Meister of Grooms – In charge of providing interesting hunting animals, as trophies for the hunt.
Duke Quintus Claudius Trianuis – Guest of honor, the reason we’re able to sell these invitations for what we can.
Baron Namtar, Senator – A wealthy foreign information broker. He has purchased a number of tickets.
Alder Ovidius – Purchased a ticket from the wealthy Baron Namtar for a price they agreed upon.

I’m done tracking my notes for the Faro case. Though Lady Giovanna will be disappointed that I did not find her Faro, I cannot say I am giving up. There is more to it than this, and if our enemy has the means, power, and knowledge necessary to strike at us in the way they have, we can only anticipate worse. We deprived them of a number of powerful resources. But they are not gone.

The Harpies I have enlisted are attracting my kind of Clients exactly. Neonates I can coerce into the hunt, or perhaps form into a coterie. Information brokers, new contacts, peers. People my speed, now that my star is rising.

I owe so much to the Invictus. My education, my exemplary training, my exposure to the civilizing influence of the courts. A higher ideal and an opportunity to stand for them. Powerful kindred vie for the opportunity to make a client, or perhaps a protege of me. Loyalty to the Reeve, I think, is the correct response in this climate.

New kindred in the city, led by Baron Namtar, whose reputation as an information broker I have a passing familiarity with. Already they have been directed to my party as the social event new kindred should take interest in, and the tickets they’ve bought up are driving up both the price and the interest from young neonates.

There are only a few tickets left to be sold for the event, and interest is already picking up.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.