Prince Marten stood up from his throne-like seat and surveyed the chattering magpies that had entered his Chicago court. Of course tonight it wasn’t court, rather he was playing host to the most important gathering of Kindred since 1493 and the foundation of the Camarilla. The venue was packed with dozens of kindred delegates from every Prince and Primogen that was ‘unable to attend’. Which to every kindred of import, the risk of losing a delegate meant little when weighed against the promise and importance of their own eternity.
The recent troubles had such a reverberating impact across the Kindred world that a conclave had been called to discuss their response. Not only that, but it was rumored that clans Brujah and Nosferatu would lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Ventrue mismanagement. A preposterous assertion he thought.
Giving the assembled throng a few moments to notice him, Marten spoke in a clear voice that projected through the room easily without shouting. It was a skill honed over decades and had been adapted from his mortal days as a ships captain.
“Good evening esteemed Kindred of the Camarilla. Join me in welcoming The Voice Of The Inner Council, His Excellency Louis Alamuerte.”
He bit back a smile at the immediate muttering his pronouncement started. Very few had known that the leader of their sect would be in attendance, and it seemed that the Justicar Cock Robin and Archon Theo Bell were just as shocked as the others. This whole meeting was mostly comprised of older Neonates and Ancillae sent in the stead of rulers fearful of leaving their demesne.
Every eye turned to watch with rapt attention, the noise dying down nearly as quickly as it was struck up. Louis Alamuerte was a figure of awe and legend, one of the few Elders to survive the calling. That he would attend in person showed both the severity of the situation and the leadership of the man.
There was a protracted pause like the calm before the storm and then Louis made his way onto the stage. He was dressed impeccably in a black on black suit, tailored to his surprisingly trim and athletic frame, with a matching overcoat that flowed with every movement. Fine leather shoes made hardly any sound as they stepped across the stage, supernatural intensity seeping from every pore. Icy eyes swept across the entire room as if taking everybody’s measure, his face set in a stoic mask, and a feeling of ultimate authority trailing him as a puppy trails its master.
A few steps behind followed a beautiful woman, her cafe-au-lait skin and long midnight hair complimented by an aristocratic bearing. She wore a fabulous yet tasteful black evening dress, her heels clicking softly on the wooden surface. Impressive in her own right, she was still outstripped by the presence that was Louis.
“My thanks, your Grace, for your hospitality this evening” he said in a velvet and confident voice, motioning for the man to stand aside firmly, yet politely.
If the Prince were perturbed he didn’t show it, bowing deeply and moving to stand off to the side. There was utter silence as the attendees watched on, those still cognizant enough of their surroundings offering a bow to the Voice, the others merely staring in rapt attention.
Seneschal Amarandos of New Corsica was one of the first to offer his respects, obviously aware of who was attending and looking completely unperturbed. He was closely followed by Teddy, Mozart, and Mose of the Brantonites, who adapted quickly to the situation. Others seemed to be dragged out of their stupors, offering their own bows or curtsies more belatedly.
Anatole the Prophet was stood with Beckett the Gangrel lore master, observing this momentous event as they had done countless times together before. He took out a pad and readied himself, muttering lowly to his companion who watched on with a slightly bored expression. Except for the eyes. Wary as a watchful beast, they gave away the lie to the nonchalant posture he held.
Louis surveyed them in silence for a while longer, his imperious gaze looking over the whole of the Kindred present. Presence oozed from his every movement, the supernatural powers a part of him for so long that they were an unconscious constant. He clasped his hands behind his back and began to speak.
“My fellow Kindred” he began in a voice as smooth as ice on a mountain lake. “These are times with few precedents – and all those precedents are grim and unfortunate.”
“As many have heard – and some have had the misfortune of seeing – we are besieged. Not only our sect but our very race is under an attack of a targeted intensity we have never seen… never in modern times, that is. Hunters fan across the globe, felling both young and old alike with terrible effectiveness. Some of our greatest clans have suffered vicious, crippling blows from these mortals.The Camarilla has determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are acting with immense resources and coordination, originating within the apparatus of mortal government itself.”
There were a number of nods agreeing with this point. Teddy pursed her lips into a thin line, a frown furrowing her brow. Stan looked stern at the words, writing quickly as he transcribed the events. Canis grimaced in distaste at their situation, and Amarandos dipped his head in assent.
“None have been spared. We have heard from Camarilla domains, Anarch Free States, even the Ashirra have reached out to us in panic, whom we have long heard little from. And the Sabbat seem to be retreating en masse, leaving territory behind that is under such scrutiny that we dare not even think of retaking it now…”
Louis paused and looked down, his brow creasing as if in concern at a threshold he does not know he can cross. Finally he looked up again and continued on.
“It has become clear that we are in the grasp of a Second Inquisition, as serious and dangerous as the first. For the first time in five centuries, we are faced with the possibility of not only our exposure but our *extinction* at the hands of the mortals which surround us. And unlike the first which came with blades and torches, as we have seen in Vienna, in London, around the globe, these new Inquisitors will use technology and capabilities that would have made the holy warriors of ages past stand in awe.”
Teddy gave a slight startle as the word extinction reverberated through the hall, and Stan’s eyes widened in both frightened surprise and even a little glee. He stopped writing for a minute to calm himself and even Anatole paused from his sketching to consider the words.
Emmett, Ventrue Primogen of Chicago, remained fully focused on Louis’, and Mose watched on in thoughtful contemplation, absently running a hand across his Amish-style beard. Mozart kept his eye on the Nosferatu, alternating between them and the Voice, his demeanor for once matching the gravitas of the situation. Cock Robin was inscrutable, his beak-like face giving little away.
Theo Bell on the other hand stared at the stage in silent disgruntlement, his grimace evident as he shifted in the seat. Dressed in his trademark NY Yankees hat and breathing strip, he had taken off his sunglasses to watch more closely. The other Brujah with him seemed to feed off the mood, Samuel watching closely, and Mikhail cracking his knuckles before crossing his arms across his chest.
“The business of this Conclave is absolutely clear – to propose and commit to the course of action by which we shall survive this new fire which burns through the night. The sin, the oversight, the idiocy, which has brought us to this point has been us thinking the layers and networks of mortal technology and international authority that have developed for the last five decades were ours to control. That we could trust in our mortal power and methods to keep ourselves untouched by these things which so many of us barely understand.”
Louis paused again then, his eyes still seeming to catch every eye as he stood on the stage. Like an actor he fed off the energy of his audience, waiting for the perfect moment to speak or move. Each minute gesture was crafted for effect, and it worked to perfection. When finally judging the time right he concluded his speech.
“The threat has been made plain, the causes made plain. The floor is open, to those of age and station to speak.”
Andrea, had been stood clasping her hands so tightly that the knuckles had whitened. Almost as soon as the Voice had spoken she stepped forward, her voice raised to carry easily through the room.
“The Camarilla must now band together and change the rules in so far as it is needed to ensure our safety” she said in a silky Creole accent. “I, Andrea Soileau, childe of Louis Alamuerte, former Primogen of Atlanta, Clan Ventrue, do hereby propose we make an amendment to the Traditions we hold so dear..”
The Brujah Lucky narrowed his eyes as she spoke, tapping a finger against one thigh. Tap, tap, tap, was followed by a break, and then repeated again a minute later. Marten quirked an eyebrow, leaning forwards to listen more closely. Canis stared openly at the woman, his face revealing nothing, but the intensity of the Gangrel very much evident.
Cock Robin shook his head and muttered to himself in that strange gargling rumble that passed for his speech. “No good. No good.”
Beckett leaned in to Anatole and pitched his voice so only his ally would hear, speaking a hairs breadth above a whisper. “Take note on what it takes for human capabilities to be taken seriously…the complete obliteration of two cities worth of Kindred.”
Anatole half smirked in response, but didn’t look up from his work. “You’d think just one would be enough.”
Louis turned on his heel and faced Andrea, motioning for her to continue. She gave a nod of thanks and looked back to the others, her gaze raking the audience before coming to linger on Theo and the clustered Brujah.
“We will pass a Second Masquerade Tradition. A total ban of ALL technology use. Complete and utter ban” she said, voice rising to take on an impassioned tone. “I hereby also CONDEMN the Anarchs upon whose head this horror firmly rests! It is the fault of those uneducated, undisciplined NEONATES and even their supposed ANCILLA to whom we can ALL turn to point fingers and cast blame!”
A small and yet audible gasp passed through the room. Mikhail’s eyes widened in shock and Boris grunted in anger, looking at his fellow Brujah in shock. Lucky seemed about to say something but barely restrained himself as the tapping picked up a notch. Katia looked even less sanguine, her eyes spitting fury and her temper quite obviously straining at the leash.
Mose sighed, and said nothing, but others seemed in complete agreement. Maris and Amarandos gave a firm nods of support, and Teddy smiled slowly before giving an emphatic assent of her own, muttering under her breath. “Here, here.”
Louis held up one hand to stifle the crowd and there was an immediate reaction as all sound cut off at the gesture.
“The idea has merit. The Masquerade has proven near impossible to keep, and the security of our organization impossible to uphold, in this era of mass surveillance and those who do so. Though we may use ghouls and servants, I agree that from this point onward, no electronic communication – be it by the computer networks or phone networks – can be considered secure, and too easily monitored by these mortal hunters.”
Louis turned on his heel to face the back of the room, looking squarely at the group of Brujah gathered there. “And thus no Camarilla members or any wise Kindred should be using them.”
“So it will be. Shall we put it to the vote?” Andrea asked.
Louis held up his hand again, stalling her, even as Theo drew himself up to retort. He glared at Andrea and outrage dripped from his every word as if it had been marinating the entire time. “If it weren’t for the petty machinations of the Ventrue and their using mortal authorities to hunt an enemy you fucking throw Brujah eternities at, we wouldn’t be in this position in the first god damn place! This rests on YOUR head, the Anarchs at least use their limited resources responsibly!”
Cock Robin rose to stand with Theo and looked from him to Louis and back again. Teddy tensed immediately, going on alert and sliding to the edge of the seat. Amarandos looked absolutely shocked at what Theo just said. Outraged, even.
“Da” Boris said in a guttural approval of Theo’s words, a sentiment clearly echoed by his fellows.
“How DARE you?!” Andrea cried out, heading towards the end of the stage as her eyes flashed with fire.
“Responsibly?” Louis asked. “The Anarchs intrude on domains. They embrace without care. They seek territory and power, and degenerate into little more than gang warfare. And we have long tolerated you advocating for leniency regarding their ceaseless and empty ambitions and belligerence; and ignored how they have gained what little ground they have against us by moving with such impertinence and speed. But now, faced with the consequences, you find a way to blame us once again?”
Anatole raised his eyebrows and cast a quick glance at Theo and the scene, before leaning to his right to whisper to Beckett. “Oh, it’s getting good, now.”
Beckett watched on with detached fascination and replied in the same low tones. “Can’t say I didn’t see it coming from the first accusation.”
Theo looked shocked, his whole body almost seeming to tremble from the repressed rage he was containing. He took an absent step closer, though nothing more, and pointed at Louis as he replied.
“Responsibly! The Ventrue literally led the hound to the hare and now you throw it at our feet!? You put mortals in direct conflict with Sabbat and expected them not to find out what we were?”
Katia folded her arms over her chest, nodding in solidarity with Theo, and Winnona gave a sharp dip of her head in assent. Samuel pointed to Theo and signalled his own agreement, as did Mikhail and Lucky. It was obvious that the Brujah were united in their feelings on this topic.
Prince Marten narrowed his eyes at Theo, and Andrea dropped her fangs. She restrained herself with obvious effort, a stoic look crossing her features, but the elongated canines remained on show. Mozart’s head tennis gazed at them, although Emmett settled a cold stare on the Brujah as his jaw tensed.
Teddy growled under her breath, her own fangs coming into view as the anger and Beasts begin to stir in the room. Mose leaned forward, mirroring Mozart for the back and forth spectating, giving off a sense that if popcorn were on offer it would be doing a brisk trade right now.
“The Camarilla used what resources we had to, to destroy those who would destroy us, despite the children nipping at our heels. And you said nothing, you knew everything but now you blame us? While the networks of our society are laid bare because Anarchs cared more for their cause that they did for the Masquerade, and you could not control their dogs” Louis said, taking a step toward the front of the stage.
Louis eyes flicked with an unusual rage, a fire burning behind the ice. It seemed to burn into those around him, with Marten letting out his fangs and hissing at Theo. Canis shifted his stance and hooked his fingers, readying himself to react.
“It is the fault of the Anarchs and the loose cannons of RABBLE that this has occurred!” Andrea said.
Katia growled in response, her own fangs baring. Lucky gave a guttural sound of disagreement and his whole body tensed. The visage almost shifts, becoming closer to the predator all in this room are. As if the inside beast responds to the bait, he taps faster against his thigh.
“The Anarchs will abide and give up their communications and networks that they have abused without care to our threat, from now until forever, or else they will be considered as willfully in violation of the Masquerade as any Diocese of the Sabbat!” Louis shouts, something that happens so rarely that it lent even greater weight to the gravity of this moment.
“Or are your petty victories and the Brujah’s addiction to spite worth the death of us all?”
Theo gestured around the Conclave with a hand trembling slightly with fury, his lip curled upward in a snarl. “I care for Justice! You used the resources. YOU. The Camarilla, but your petty brat of a Childe is going to blame the Anarchs and you’ll take that way out if it’ll let you look like you never fucked up won’t you? You’ll throw all of our lives away to feed your ego and present the idea that you can’t be wrong Louis!”
Theo spoke in a roar, the hands that had been motioning toward the crowd of people gathered balled into mighty fists as the passionate rage of the Brujah surfaced, radiating from him like a blast furnace. Mikhail rose along with the other Brujah, cracking his knuckles again and this time adding his neck. Winnona joined him, as did Sam and Katia.
“THERE IS NO JUSTICE!” Louis said, fangs flashing. “THERE IS SURVIVAL! Justice is for God and for fools, no others. And you are no gods.”
“You’re being so damn naive” Kyp said to Theo.
“Theo is right! This is your doing!” Katia shouted in retort.
Boris rumbled ominously, his hands twitched as he growled out another “Da…” at Theo’s words, his anger growing, his beast showing through his fangs.
Beckett wiggled his hands around in his pockets as they suddenly became a bit tighter for inexplicable reasons. The Gangrel inching closer toward the exit just in case.
“If I must throw *YOUR LIVES*, MY LIFE, EVERY LIFE HERE AWAY, to ensure that the Race of Caine survives this storm, I will throw the mass into the flame MYSELF.”
Andrea turned around, facing Theo again and is about to speak when Louis’ voice cuts in and she steps back again, hissing like a startled cat. Emmett pushed back in his seat as he felt the weight of the elders pushing forward, his fangs like others are now barred. Samuel wrung his fingers as looked to those looking down upon them, like a cat wanting to pounce.
Mozart took a few steps back as Louis threatened that.. Rage and fear mixing. Anatole’s eyes widened and his beast stirred more strongly within him. He kept his eyes trained on Louis, though did occasionally cast worried looks at the other near-frenzying vampires.
“Its our lives they throw away, then have the cheek to blame us for it!” Lucky said to the other Brujah, not looking at Louis. Unable to perhaps, or not for long so terrible was the fury of the Voice of the Inner Council.
“Sounds like you couldn’t fucking control something and now are pissed when getting some on your boot when getting into the trenches with us” Sam agreed.
“Everything I have learned of spite I learned from the Ventrue! There is no survival with people like you steering she ship! Fuck this, fuck you Louis! We’re out of here” Theo said ominously, and turning his intense glare on Cock Robin. “Right cock Robin? Fuck these idiots.”
Teddy looked incredulous, her jaw dropping, and shouting without thinking. “That cannot happen!”
Cock Robin stared right at Theo, and an inhumane gurgle spills out of his mouth followed by very recognizable “No!”
Louis stepped down from the stage, glaring at Theo. “And faced with the consequences of your actions… you run. The clan of warrior poets is now gutted and gelded, cowards all, too busy playing with your electronic TOYS rather than acting for our survival. And you think the clan of secrets is fool enough to follow you.”
“Camarilla support” Cock Robin said, moving to stand nearer to Louis.
“YOU DARE! You dare leave the Camarilla who has kept you safe! WHOM YOU HAVE SERVED!” Andrea hissed.
“Fuck you all, blaming us for things th..” Katia began before stopping abruptly to stare at Cock Robin
“I can’t support Camarilla when we get blame!” Boris shouted.
Teddy looked at Cock Robin, a slow smile creeping across her face as understanding of what just happened dawned. Theo’s jaw dropped and he stepped back, stunning into momentary silence.
“What do you mean no..?” He managed to get out quietly.
Mozart looked between Theo and Cock Robin and back again. He walked deliberately over to stand with Cock Robin. “We stay with the Camarilla!”
Kyp stepped aside as Louis walked past him, shying away from the sheer power radiating off him in waves. The Voice continued his slow, deliberate walk down the aisle, stopping twenty or so pace from Theo and Cock Robin.
Mose rose slowly to his feet, his eyes locked on the scene, and he moved to stand on Cock Robin’s other flank.
“You thought you had it wrapped, didn’t you Rabble?” Andrea laughed coldly. “As always, you were WRONG.”
Samuel watched the developments grimly, shifting the weight on one leg slightly and putting a hand on Boris’ shoulder. “We don’t get the blame, we ARE the blame.”
Katia felt her beast rising in response, the obvious struggle to fight it down writ plain across her features as she stared at the Nosferatu. “Traitors!”
Louis watched on silently, folding his arms and staring at Theo with imperial aloofness, as if his concerns were so far above the other mans as to make them insignificant. Amarandos gasped in shock and couldn’t stop a chuckle escaping, which got immediately stifled at the gravity of the situation.
Beckett gave an unsettled chuckle and looked at Anatole. “Which number Anarch revolt are we on?”
“The fourth perhaps? It can be hard to keep track of what fight warrants the name.”
Teddy gave them a nervous chuckle, but her attention was immediately returned to the tableau playing out, riveted by these momentous events.
“How much did it cost?? Hm? High price for support, da? Not loyalty, just words” Boris the Brujah spat, thrusting his chin out at the Nosferatu.
Gust gasped, his stoic facade dissipating, unable to fully process the gravity of the situation. Winnona unfolded her arms and placed one in front of the other as she stared at Theo uneasily. She avoided looking at the implacable Louis entirely.
“The Ventrue were once a clan of warriors as well. If you press us, we shall take on the blade once again” Louis said finally, his voice as cold as his visage.
Emmett nodded his agreement to the words, as did the gaggle of kindred that surrounded him like an entourage. There was little expression other than complete assurance and belief in the man who had spoken.
Marten stepped forward and walked to stand just behind and to one side of Louis. “Why don’t you Tweet about it, Theo. Hashtag, not my Justicar right?”
“Holy shit” Kyp said.
“…with cream on top” Canis finished for him.
Eztli grunted, shoving his fingers through his hair to push it out of his face and stalking towards the Brujah. He was joined a moment later by Kyp, who had a feral gleam in his eyes as he edged forward, his fists unconsciously clenching and unclenching.
Charles, Teddy, and Canis shared a look as the tension ratcheted up another notch. Canis moved to join his fellow Gangrel, an almost eager expression crossing his features as he regarded the Brujah.
Boris watched them approaching cautiously, squaring his shoulders and reaching into his coat for a weapon.
“You sell us out?! You weak-willed fucks” Katia shouted, looking on the razors edge of losing control entirely.
Theo was so outraged that he literally shook with shock. Then Marten spoke and his rage boiled over and the Archon’s fangs burst down into his maw. He gave a sudden, inarticulate growl, followed by a rasping roar against the humiliation being heaped upon him. His eyes were wild and showed too much white.
Mose moved closer to the misshapen, Elder Nos and Louis took a step back from the sheer rage of the Brujah before him, flinging up and arm in front of his chest. Marten took a defensive stance as the brunt of Theo’s rage shot at him with enough power to almost physically sizzle the air between them. Andrea took a single step back and prepared herself for battle. Stance wide, fangs out, and looking fearsome as her beast rose to the challenge.
On the other side of the narrow divide Boris pulled out a blade and gave a feral roar, baring his fangs. Samuel stepped to the side to gain some room and reached for his sword, even as Mikhail and Katia drew their own weapons.
Anatole looked about uneasily for the exits, and his companion gave a rough sounding laugh, the oddity of it at this specific moment cracking through the room like a whip. Beckett removed his hands from his pockets, the nails of which had grown to wicked looking claws.
“Fret not, Anatole. This isn’t something we have a stake in.”
“This is intense. Perhaps we -should- get some stakes in something?”
Gust wasn’t listening, moving over to where Stan stood in a relatively untroubled spot to watch the scene unfold with a mixture of fascination and terror.
Mozart pulled his hunting knife at the same time Mose slid out a blade from under his jacket. He shifted into a ‘ready’ stance as the blade glowed with a throbbing, green light. All of the Nosferatu stood shoulder to shoulder, ready to meet head on any aggression thrown their way.
Canis angled away from the Gangrel and headed to stand guard over Teddy, joined by Charles who reached out an arm in a protective gesture, pulling out his own knife with the other. Andrea caught a blade thrown to her from off the stage, wielding it like an expert and ready for battle. Emmett pulled out his own weapon and joined her, taking a ready stance but not engaging yet.
Theo suddenly snapped his full attention to Marten, fixing him with a molten glare and lunged in a movement so fast it was near impossible to detect. He crossed the feet of space between them and wrenched the Toreador overhead with one hand like he was lifting a feather. The other hand reached up and grabbed the smaller Elder’s head like palming a basketball.
There was the audible crunch of bone as his fingers pressed deep into Marten’s skull, followed by a sickening tearing wrenching and popping sound as Theo tore the head off of the Prince of Chicago who turned into a violent explosion of dust.
There was a millisecond of stunned silence at what had just happened, as if nobody quite believed the savagery they had witnessed. Then all hell broke loose.
Lucky lost himself completely and could almost taste the rage as it bubbled up. He launched himself at the Nosferatu, followed at almost the same time as Katia. Both had their fangs bared as they howled with a deep, primal noise. This is the beast unleashed and naked in its unadulterated ferocity.
Katia landed with a dull thud on Crisper, taking them both down and immediately sinking her fangs into his neck. Lucky wasn’t so fortunate, ending up in an almighty tussle with the powerful Nosferatu he had landed on.
Canis placed himself even more squarely between Teddy and danger, his eyes gleaming with an eerie red glow and his own claws extended down. She peered around him at the scene and grabbed his arm tightly as the Prince of Chicago exploded into ash. Andrea raised her sword and advanced towards Theo, covered in the grey-white remains of Marten, outrage etched across her face.
Kyp looked stunned momentarily by the brutal and speedy murder. That is all it could be called. Or an execution. Mose reacted more swiftly, moving to guard Louis. Emmett joined him and stepped into position, his face showing the same outrage as Andrea’s. Amarandos’ eyes widened at the destruction of Marten
“Alamuerte” Amarandos shouted and tossed his sheathed Santiago sword to the leader of the Camarilla.
“Marten ! No ! what have you done you beast !” Stan cried out and aimed his gun at Theo, firing wildly as he shook in rage and fear.
Andrea held her ground in front of Louis, prepared to face off with Theo if he made a move towards them. Mose shifted to accommodate the two, forming a trio of defenders fanned out before the Voice.
Louis snatched the sword and straightened himself. Grabbing the edge of his coat, he smoothed it out and snarled. “ENOUGH.”
His voice reverberated through the room like the crack of lightning in an empty night. The room filled with an awesome feeling akin to majesty, though with a thousand times the intensity. But not with reverence, with fear, terror and everything that made people afeared of the night. The shadows seemed to deepen around his form and the whole of the building, if not the block, was permeated with that feeling of terror. He flicked the scabbard off the sword with a single gesture and held it out towards Theo.
The effect was immediate. Canis held our his hand and pushed there group backwards towards a wall, getting as far away from the sheer force that was Louis Alamuerte. Mikhail cowered down, and even Maris’ growl was cut short by the Presence explosion. Teddy dropped to her knees and goes prone, her wide eyes fixated upon Louis.
Lucky pulled instantly back, growling out in terror, and moving rapidly away from the power Louis flung like a bolt of lightening. Katia had her fangs at Crisper’s throat, ready to tear it open as she pinned him to the ground. Suddenly she recoiled in fear, hissing sharply as she fled backwards.
Cock Robin sank to his knees, shaking in fear and Andrea lowered her sword, turning to face Louis. Before anyone could blink she dropped to the ground, cowed by her Sire’s awesome Majesty. Amarandos was likewise affected, shaking from this sudden explosion of power.
The action was replicated throughout the room, none immune to the effect being projected. Even Beckett reacted, the normally snarky Gangrel crouching a bit and taking on a defensive position as if he were under assault, even though it was Presence alone.
The steel of the blade still sang slightly as silence overtakes the entire room and Louis stared at Theo along its blade.
Theo struggled against the power assaulting him, roaring with the effort and a cloud of dust puffing from his mouth as he expelled the remains of Marten from his lungs like the souls of the thousands he had slaughtered in the name of the Camarilla over the years. Yet eventually the bone-shattering impact almost pressed the mighty Archon to his knees and he scuttled back like a cockroach from the light. Seeking cover from the righteousness that was Louis Alamuerte at that moment, he recoiled in fear.
“Take your children and go. I will not hunt you, unless you fail to honor the First Tradition. But there is peace between us no longer after this. Our domains and powers shall be ours alone, and the masses which you hold so dear – you may try and tend to them” Louis said ominously.
“GO. ALL THOSE WHO STAND WITH THIS FOOL, GO. And know the scepter shall now be crossed with a blade, and no clan of warriors shall threaten us or the Camarilla lightly any longer.”
Theo shook himself and managed to bring himself to sanity at the words, composing himself enough to talk through the railroad spike being driven into his brain. “We will not. We will not honor this -new- Masquerade, but we will uphold the old one. And we will no longer bow to your tyranny. We are chained by the Ventrue no more.”
Louis lowered the sword slowly. “You now have the freedom to be whatever fools you wish to. But should you bring the Second Inquisition upon any city, we shall respond to both them – and to those responsible. GO FORTH, and let them know the price of your hubris and what will bring hell upon them now.”
“We’re already suffering under the yoke of yours, a grain of sand added to that will be born easily by all” He spat and then looked to Cock Robin with a fangy glare. “Congratulations, your stock just went up.
“Hashtagged” Cock Robin gargled out.
“Liberated” Theo disagreed.
As if the cue had been given, or like the Ventrue had used the awesome power of Dominate, the Brujah beat a hasty retreat from the room. Lucky had already been near the door and slipped outside. Katia followed him a second later, and then a furious looking Theo led the remaining battered group outside.
There was a stunned silence as the crowd tried to process the enormity of what had happened. Louis dropped the powers he had called upon, but even the very memory sizzled through the room like electricity.
Canis looked urgently to Teddy and Charles as he retracted both claw and fang. “We need to fuck off sharpish, and I’m not sure the plane is a viable option.”
Teddy looked to Charles and then back again. “It will be. I trust Charles.”
“Get me something to drive and I can drive it.”
“No, we must return to Branton quickly. We fly. Driving will take too long.”
Emmett turned from the exiting Brujah with a fire burning behind his often dead eyes, sheathing his weapon and settling his attire. Andrea smirked coldly and had an air of satisfaction around her. Amarandos gathered the scabbard from the floor and eyed the door uneasily, graciously accepting the sword when Louis returned it to her a second later.
The dark majesty slowly seeped out of the room, and Louis looked over the remaining kindred assembled there. “I call this conclave to a close. The Second Masquerade is now in force, and the Camarilla shall serve itself foremost in this time of darkness. Our Elysiums are now places of exclusion, our influences are to be used for our benefit. And all must obey, or be cast into the wilderness. So be it all.”
Mose offered the Voice a bow before retreating to rejoin Cock Robin. and the rest of the room began to return to a semblance of normalcy. Etzli slipped to the Amarando’s side and leaned in to murmur lowly. “We should leave soon.”
“It will be made so” Andrea said.
Amarandos gave the Gangrel a nod and then bowed his head to Louis. “As his excellency decrees.”
Eztli merely nodded in a small bow to Louis as he departed and now waited outside for a particular hatted Malkavian to join him.
Canis looks to Mose waving him over. He nodded, and held up a hand, glancing to Cock Robin. “Anything else to be done?”
Cock Robin shook his head, but kept watching Louis, and the Nosferatu Primogen of Branton moved to join his colleagues.
Stan stood and pointed to the ashes with a quivering hand, slowly approaching the remains of Chicago’s former Prince. “Why is he allowed to leave ?! He violated the sixth tradition ! In Elysium !! Murdering the Prince of this very city in front of us all !! This !! This !!!.”
“Because I so allowed it. Would you care to shout at me more… whoever you are?” Louis said to Stan.
Stan calm down slightly, but still stared at the remains in horror. “But why? Just why?”
“Who are -you- to question His Excellency? He told you, he allowed it. That is it. There is no more to it.” Amarandos said with finality, moving toward Eztli and tipping the pleasing hat toward those he passed.
Andrea returned to Louis side once more and he glanced at her, before straightening and casting a cool gaze over the Toreador. “Because even my appetite for death is sated for this day. Cock Robin – educate this gentleman in etiquette further. Elsewhere.”
Cock Robin marched over to Stan and grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragging him off and away. Etzli and Amarandos disappeared from view, and a number of the others began to slip out immediately to carry the news to their superiors.
Beckett glanced around and then looked back to his companion. “Well then, I suppose we should call this New Convention of Thorns to an end. I’m so glad I was around for this one. Shall we depart, Anatole?”
Anatole took some final notes, shut his book, and looked to Beckett. “We shall.”
“Beckett, go surprise everyone and do something useful” Louis said to the irascible Gangrel, and then looked over at Teddy. “You… come with me.”
Without waiting for a reply Louis walked toward the edge of the stage, his long coat trailing behind him. Teddy froze for a moment, her eyes going wide. She collected herself slowly and nodded.
“Yes, your Excellency” she said, yet didn’t seem quite able to move just yet.
“Ah, nice try. I saw what just happened to the last kindred that were useful” Beckett grumbled as he existed with Anatole.
Louis continued on walking toward the back stage and glanced behind him at Teddy, “This way.”
Teddy then seems to force one foot ahead of the other and followed Louis, turning to Canis to shake her head to tell him to not follow. The Gangrel gave her an annoyed glare but heeded her wishes and remained stood there with Charles, watching as the Elder Ventrue loomed over the tiny Toreador as they spoke.