Blood & Fire
Dramatis Personae: The Children of Isaac and their Followers
- Chana, a widowed Jewish merchant (Lasombra, Tanya)
- Rylan, an armsman who has fought the Turks (Follower of Set, Josh)
- Mercedes, a young Spanish noble woman (Malkavian, Jessie)
- Velli, a rebellious peasant woman who despises the Inquisitions and Crusades of the Church (Brujah, Amy)
- Gallo, a peasant hunter and trapper (Gangrel, Phil)
- Adrianna, a young street urchin (Toreador, Metellus)
- Paul, a soldier crippled fighting the Turks, now made a ghoul by Rylan
- Enzo, a bandit hired by Lothar to ambush the coterie, now made a ghoul by Chana
Act I: Unholy Bandits
Scene 1: An Impolite Invitation
The coterie, known as the Children of Isaac, went their separate ways after the events of April 1444. Their stories are their own to tell, but in brief, Chana became a protector of her people and had made an alliance with would-be messiah Sabbatai Zevi, Rylan and Gallo both followed the wars across the battlefields of Europe, Mercedes concentrated on building her power in her own domain in Spain, Velli continued to oppose the Church and spent some time traveling the New World, and Adrianna drifted through the cities of Europe for a time. However, towards the end of 1665 and beginning of 1666, all felt an irresistible call pulling them towards Rome – a powerful Summoning.
Before the Gates
The Children of Isaac ended up on the streets of Rome, in front of the gates of Casa Hadestadt on the Capiltoline Hill, on the night of Saturday, February 13th, 1666. They saw the Ventrue motto “Regere Sanguine Regere In Veritate Est” (To Rule By Blood Is To Rule In Truth") on the gates, as well as the coat-of-arms of the Founder Hardestadt, “Vincam Etiam Ab Inferis” (“Even From The Grave I Shall Conquer”). So the coterie was able to deduce that it was the Founders who had summoned them, even though most of them had had no dealings with the Founders in 222 years. They discussed matters among themselves while waiting for their hosts to show themselves.
Eventually, a black-liveried servant came to unlock the gates and show the Children of Isaac inside. The gates were locked behind them. They were shown into the manse, into a dimly-lit drawing room decorated with impeccable taste. Another black-liveried servant brought a silver tray with seven crystal glasses and a hand-cut crystal decanter of blood, which proved to be potent blood of a 6th-generation vampire. Some drank, some did not.
Soon, servants arrived to reveal a trapdoor under an exquisite Persian rug and showed the Children of Isaac into the catacombs.
Into the Catacombs
The servants led the Children of Isaac through the dark tunnels under the manse. The lead servant was clearly a ghoul with the rudiments of Thaumaturgy, and he used the Path of Flames to conjure a handful of flame to light the way. Gallo used Eyes of the Beast (Protean 1) to see in the dark, his eyes glowing dimly red; Adrianna and Mercedesused Heightened Senses (Auspex 1) to help see in the dark, and when it became clear that the servants were intentionally taking them by a confusing route, Chana used Obtenebration to have the shadows themselves trace their path through the darkness.
Eventually, they arrived at a larger chamber lit by torches made from magically-burning femurs. There, at a great slate-topped table, sat the Founders:
- Hardestadt of Clan Ventrue
- Adana de Sforza of Clan Brujah
- Milov Petrenkov of Clan Gangrel
- Camilla Banes of Clan Malkavian
- Josef von Bauren of Clan Nosferatu
- Rafael de Corazon of Clan Toreador
- Mistress Fanchon of Clan Tremere
Mistress Fanchon welcomed them pleasantly, saying that she was glad that the Founders had made the right decision in not exterminating the Children of Isaac for their unlawful Embrace by the Conspiracy of Isaac. Hardestadt then got right to the point, explaining that a book from the library of Cappadocius himself, that had been stored for safe keeping in the Vatican Library, had recently been stolen – followed by reports that many books and documents relating to Cappadocius’ esoteric research into the nature of godhead had likewise gone missing. As terrifying to contemplate as the idea of Cappadocius becoming God might have been, the idea of anyone else achieving that feat would be so much worse!
The Die Is Cast
Therefore, Hardestadt called for a Blood Hunt against the unknown thief, charging the Children of Isaac with discovering the thief and the stolen book, which was to be returned or destroyed (Mistress Fanchon made a telepathic offer to Chana and Adrianna, offering the chance to commit Diablerie and lower generation twice if the book were to be delivered intact to her, personally, however!). The coterie was advised that a bookseller named Alfonse on the Via Frattina often deals with esoteric books of this sort. Then, Hardestadt’s servants showed the Children of Isaac back out of the catacombs and out of the manse.
As the Children of Isaac were being led out, Camilla Banes, who had been completely silent during the entire meeting, suddenly burst out with mad, high-pitched laughter, shocking even the other Founders. She shrieked, “500 years! A half a millennium before the dead saint rests! Oh, my poor darling Cappadocius, only three more centuries before you can rest in the Light!” The tinkle of her psychotic laughter trailed the coterie off into the dark.
Scene 2: The Trail of the Thief
Starting The Ball Rolling
The Children of Isaac wished that they could examine the scene of the crime in the Vatican Library itself, but this was not possible. The Vatican is the focus for such intense Faith that no Kindred can set foot inside without being destroyed. The book had been placed there by mortal agents of Josef von Bauren, and while he was willing to tell them where in the library the book had been hidden, there would be no way to investigate this on their own.
Therefore, they came up with plans. Mercedes wrote out introductions for her handmaiden to visit the Vatican library disguised as a nun, perhaps accompanied by other ghouls. But this would have to wait for morning. In the meantime, Chana decided to seek answers in the Jewish Quarter, while the rest of the Children of Isaac investigated the bookseller, Alfonse.
The House of Adonijah
Chana went to the Jewish Quarter to confer with the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Rabbi Joshua Menaggen. She bore letters of introduction from her ally, the would-be messiah Sabbatai Zevi, who was causing quite a stir among the Jews of the city. The Chief Rabbi gladly received her, despite the late hour, and was able to advise her to consult with Adonijah Ben-Reuven. He also gave her letters to convey to Sabbatai Zevi on behalf of the Jews of Rome, formally inviting him to visit Rome (which he would do in August of 1666).
Having been advised, Chana sought the ramshackle house of Adonijah Ben-Reuven, a bird-like old Qabbalistic scholar. He offered to do her horoscope via gematria, converting her name and birthdate into Hebrew letters and their numerical values, then consulting charts to divine her future (he did not even bat an eye at her birthdate in the 1400s, once he convinced her to tell the truth) – “The sword of Uriel waits for you, I am afraid. I see it here; fire, a conflagration, and in the center of it, pages burning. Avoid the numbers 16 and 9p; be kind to old women and young girls. Take the taste of blood from another’s mouth where it is an abomination but beware the chalice that will be offered you. Beyond that, I see no more.”
Chana discovered that Adonijah was in the process of creating a golem to protect the Jews of Rome, and had traded many of his mystical texts having to do with “The Annointing” to agents of the Giovanni in exchange for Qabbalistic documents, including the notes of Rabbi Loew of Prague. He said that an agent named Bernini had bought the books, and that he was known to frequent The Three Lions Inn. He also suggested that she should seek the bookseller Alfonse.
Meanwhile, the other Children of Isaac came to the shop of Alfonse the Bookseller on the Via Frattina. They found him and his nephew Sigismundo working late, typesetting a copy of the Decameron by Boccaccio. Alfonse had a brace of pistols nearby in case of trouble.
The Children of Isaac questioned Alfonse about the books, but he was unwilling to speak. He said, “You’re putting me in a very difficult position here, you see!” He said that he had sold out of all his stock on those subjects, and that his agents had been unable to locate more. He did let slip, however, that a “young thing of a girl” with red hair had been in just the previous evening asking after the same sort of books – it had filled his heart with regret to send her away empty-handed, so he had sold her a travelogue written in Latin by a soldier describing his journey through the Swiss Alps.
Gallo asked after books with illustrations, and was shown a copy of the Hypneratomachia Polyphili. Rylan used Entrancement (Presence 3) to make Alfonse more cooperative, after which the bookseller explained that he had sold all of his texts on Gnosticism, the Cult of Lilith, Qabbalah, the ritual called “The Annointing,” and the like to “a young man of swarthy complexion and rich clothing,” having been warned “on pain of death not to mention to whom he had sold the texts or detail of his appearance.” He added that Sigismundo had been complaining of chills and odd noises in the shop ever since the wealthy gentleman had visited; Sigismundo then chimed in saying, “I swear, the type re-arranges itself as I am setting it, too!”
Mercedes used Auspex to determine that there were shadowy, unseen presences in the shop, telling Adrianna “We are not alone, here.” More Auspex showed several shadowy forms. Mercedes decided to try spiking the emotions in the room to a fever-pitch, saying, “I see you, come out!” and using Voice of Madness (Dementation 3). As emotional energy swirled through the room, though, it only seemed to fuel the power of the ghostly presences. The candles all blew out, the typesetting was shown to read only “GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GETOUTGETOUTGETOUTGETOUT!”, and Sigismundo fell into a fit, speaking in a gravelly adult male voice, saying, “SILENTIUM SAPIENTIA EST!” (“Silence Is Wisdom!”).
The Children of Isaac pushed for more information. They got a bill of sale made out to “A.V.C.G.” Gallo stole Alfonse’s pistols in the confusion. Having decided that they had learned all that they could, the Children of Isaac left the bookshop. But as they walked down the street, they heard screaming and loud crashing sounds coming from the bookshop. Velli went back to look in the window. She saw that the heavy lead typefaces had been hurled around the shop with incredible force, killing both Alfonse and Sigismundo. The Children of Isaac hurried away from the haunted shop, eager to meet up with Chana.
The Three Lions Inn
The members of the coterie met up and exchanged notes. As it was nearly dawn, they needed to take shelter from the sun until the next night. Their next moves were to have their ghouls investigate the Vatican Library during the day, and to seek Bernini at the Three Lions Inn the next night. As a result, Chana paid for two rooms at the Three Lions Inn – one for herself, and the other to be shared by Rylan, Velli, and Adrianna.
Gallo went out to find a patch of earth in the old Forum Romanum and used Earth Meld (Protean 3) to sink into the ground for the day.
Mercedes found a nice house and invited herself in, using Dementation to force the people living there to give her shelter for the day.
Next Game will begin with the investigation at the Three Lions Inn
- 1 point automatic (all characters)
- 1 point for “learning curve” (all characters)
- 2 point for role-playing (all characters) – Really good job this session!