The Past Through Today

 Demifiction, Writing  Comments Off on The Past Through Today
Nov 261998

Dictated by Sören Dukovni
in the Copenhagen Chantry Library, 1843

The Tremere have asked that I transcribe my History for the Chantry records. I suppose that they do not trust my Oath of Fealty. I presume that they intend to conduct some sort of tests on this text to confirm its veracity. Whatever. I have lived too long on my Path to practice duplicity.

How long have I lived? Yes, that could be relevant, I suppose. I was born in 1192 and given The Kiss in 1238. In that era, a forty-six year life was considered to be a full one. I had been a successful merchant on the Baltic and North Seas, shipping wool and timber to the Normans, Scottish, and Dutch. I had seen the birth of human rights in the great Magna Carta and I had witnessed their disparagement in territorial wars. I had worked and lived hard and forsaken family for finance. I was ready to retire in the new village of Copenhagen, founded by the Danish soldier Absallon, Archbishop of Lund, and watch the calm Baltic flow away to the Latvian shore.

Events of the year of 1238 conspired to arrest my retirement and force me into retreat, fear, and uncertainty. Norse raiders lay siege to Copenhagen’s ports in the spring of that bleak year and many of the residents of the village were driven south across the Baltic to the German shore. Though most of us spoke the old High German dialect, as well as Slavic and Norman tongues, there was confusion upon our landing and we were taken prisoner as spies or illegal immigrants or soldiers, depending upon our age or sex. I was herded with the younger men to be sent to Novgorad and traded into slavery to the Mongols ruling Poland at the time.

The thought of being worked to death, rather than drunk to death, so angered me that I attempted to escape from the slavers escorting us along the Baltic coast. I made a break for freedom in the middle of chilly night, intending to find the Wisla River and follow it into the Carpathians, where I was certain I could lose what little pursuit I thought would be sent.

How naïve I was, to think that the slavers would even follow! Those dark mountains, with their windy passes and year-round snow, were the death of many a well-prepared and -rationed traveller. There was little hope of me making it the whole way to the relative safety of the Christian Magyar Kingdom without provisions or adequate clothing. And the longer I stayed in occupied Poland, the more likely I would again be captured and back on the road to Novgorad.

Reaching the Carpathians in just under twelve days, I endeavored to steal supplies and a horse to carry me over the mountains. I was in Kraków and made my way to the paddocks of the Ducal Livery one afternoon. I sized up the sentries and waited for an opening which would allow me to lead away one of the fine Arabians that the Mongols favored. The paddock was not fenced and was only staffed with guards near the tackhouse on the northern end of the field. I was certain that, if patient, a chance to trim a mount from the edge of the herd would present itself.

Evening faded and died into night and still I hid near the paddock. Two hundred years of occupation had, apparently, not made the Mongols lax in their guard duties; I waited until long after midnight for my chance. I listened to the guards tell each other stories in their fluid, yet guttural, tongue, only making out the odd word or place name.

Eventually, the sentries’ fire died down, the early dawn chill descended, and I could see that no one had an eye on a thin mare near the periphery of the paddock. I sneaked around the camp and untied the horse. She started a bit, but certainly no more than any Arabian will when strange hands grip their reins. I cared not for a saddle, but I thought that I would be well-served by one of the horse blankets in the livery. So, carefully stepping over the now sleeping guards, I entered the tackhouse and snatched up the first blanket upon which my hand fell in the darkness.

Perhaps this moment was just a continuation of the terrible fortune that befell me over that whole year. Perhaps some sort of Karma, of which the Hindi speak, was searing its brand on my life. Whatever the circumstances that conspired against me were, at that moment they placed a rack of what I later was told were “spurs” on top of that blanket.

I heard the metallic clash and clatter at the same time that the sentries did, and before I could even step out of the tackhouse, they had risen and rushed me, bearing me down to the rocky ground and binding me fast with thongs and a bridle. They bombarded me with what must have been questions but, realizing that I could not follow their meaning, they broke off speaking to me and instead launched into a heated debate. A lot of gesturing ensued, most of the fingers being pointed at the Duke’s palace but many of them rising to the snow-capped peaks to the south. I was not consulted again, virtually ignored, and began to fear for my future at the hands of these alien men.

Little did I know that they debated the means of my doom.

Little did I know that they were weighing the strength of my back against the worth of soul.

After nearly ten minutes of arguing leading to shouting leading to occasional slaps and pushes, the apparent leader of this band of guards reached a decision. Before I could protest or attempt a defense, I was hoisted onto the very mare I had thought to steal, bound hand-to-foot under her belly, and lead away from the village, towards the mountains. Even then, I hoped that my plight was not as dire as it seemed: I was not being handed over to the true authorities of the province, nor was I being killed out of hand, as these Mongols were wont to do for nearly any transgression of their holy law. I was even bound to an obviously valuable horse, so they surely could not intend to just strand me in the mountain snow to freeze to death.

Rather, they had a very specific plan for my disposition. Had I spent more time learning about the countries and peoples outside of my trade routes, I might have know sheer terror as they lead my horse down the southern road to a fork in the road that wound easterly up a steep ridgeline and around its crest. Instead, I thought I was getting an odd sort of ironic justice when the leader slapped the mare’s rump, sending her scrabbling and clopping up the rough path. I thought that I was to die from exposure while the horse made it rounds of the high pastures, before she headed back to her masters.

Some people are always optimistic. I learned to forget such illusions the next night in those mountains.

Over the next day, the mare plodded further east and up, winding out of sight of the valley in which Kraków lay. The cold winds off the higher snow blasted me through my thin tunic and leggings, chaffing my skin as if the sun in summer. Though I warmed somewhat during the afternoon, by nightfall of that day I was shivering, and by the time the moon rose, I could not move at all and was hearing things that could not be real. I heard a screaming through the rocks. I heard singing in the thinning forests. I prayed for release to the Old Gods, and then to the New God.

Finally, the horse seemed to tire of its course and wandered off the trail into a cluster of boulders. By this time, I was at Death’s Door and only paid any heed to events because I wanted to see Its face when It finally took me.

Suddenly, the mare cleared the boulders and stepped over the ridgeline. A vale lay spread out below. Near the snowline stood a large keep or tor; not so much a castle as a fort, built out of roughcut slate and packed earth. By outward appearances, it was unoccupied. But the sounds of singing and wailing again swelled, and they clearly originated within the tor.

The mare walked down the slope of the vale, only slipping a small bit on the blown snow and ice, heading for the tor and the unearthly, unholy songs. I watch our approach as best I could from my position on the horse, expecting at each moment to see a bean sidhe or some other noisy horror. But my caretaker, my host, was very silent in his approach.

Rounding a small stand of scrub pines, I hear the rattle of stones and suddenly felt an icy hand on my cheek. My eyes flashing right, I saw the most beautiful creature I had ever witnessed; within an instant, it appeared to melt and shift and then was easily the most foul apparition I had ever seen. Curious, I strained at my bindings, trying to get a closer look at the amazing creature coming to deliver my death. I never had known of nor had heard of Kindred at that time; I thought I was witnessing the Reaper himself, come to sow an old merchant, an old cheat, a worn-out fugitive from peace.

Even as I watched its arm shift and melt into the traditional sickle, I watched Death’s face for a sign of intelligence, of reason. Not so much to try to argue for a stay of execution, but to ask it about its existence and how it felt having to be the one to cut each mortal skein. As its glinting white sickle blade/arm rose over me, I finally made eye contact with the beast. “Tough job,” I managed to mumble to it, before the edge fell.

No strike came. As I looked at the being, its arm resumed its normal shape; its face untwisted and settled into rather typical, dark Slovenian features. It was a man about two meters tall, with thin arms and chest and long, rippling black hair. In his eyes burned an intelligence of ferocious intensity. “You may explain yourself at the donjon,” he said, then turned and lead the Arabian up the slope of the vale to the craggy pile. I took me a moment to notice that he neither took the reins nor clucked to prod the mare to follow; she came to him like a pet.

Going into too much detail at this point would be not only very personal, but also disrespectful of that now-gone and burned Kindred. Suffice it to tell that he was called Koronov and that he was of the Old Clan Tzimisce, which your Clan Tremere now seems to so hate, if my capture and incarceration here in your Chantry is to be any indication. He nursed and warmed me in his simple keep, sheltered under eight feet of dirt and two feet of stonework, for that entire night and the next, only leaving me when I slept at dawn, and returning from further below in the earth each dusk.

The reason I was spared, it turned out, was because I had shown no fear in the face of death and had sought knowledge with even my final sight. Koronov explained to me that he was on something called The Path of Cogent Wisdom and that its ways were those of reason, courage, and knowledge. He explained to me about the Kindred’s damnation and the Beast within and how he hoped to ascend from this plane by adhering to the Path and its truths.

He then offered to bring me across, to give me the Dark Kiss that ends life but begins eternity. He warned me of the risks, of the loss of the soul, of the Beast; but he also explained the power, the magic; he showed me the abilities he had by virtue of the Blood. And he offered to share, should I swear fealty to him for 99 years and help him along the Path. Considering that my alternative was to be a sacrifice to him by my Mongol captors, I thought the option quite generous. I swore to the Path, drank deeply, and began my new unlife.

Being the Childe of Koronov proved to be both taxing and inspiring. Each night we spent in contemplation of The Three Pillars of Strength, by Belorinus, a Tzimisce elder and founder of the Path of Cogent Wisdom. We drove ourselves to states of calm lucidity, struggling with our individual Beasts and their carnal demands. Or we worked on the Arts of Seeing and Not Being Seen. And we fed, of course; more often upon the animals of the highlands than Humans or other Kindred.


Eh? Why yes, there were times that weaker Children of Caine stumbled upon our keep, seeking aide or wisdom or a free lunch. They usually failed to prove their mettle, either cowering before Koronov in supplication (which he despised) or blustering about in pride and anger. Since the Path only brooks reason and courage in the face of opposition, Koronov would slay these weak Childer to spare them a descent into the Beast’s depravity.

Least you think us diabolic or demented, allow me to remind you that this was in the middle of the 13th century. There was not yet any Inquisition, of which your Clan has told me much; there was not Sabbat or Camarilla. Only Kindred and Faerie and Garou and a limited source of sustenance. We could not allow our privacy to be breached, and never met another Kindred with the strength of spirit to entrust with the knowledge of our Haven. It was just those sorts of days, that kind of era. One did what one must or died with dawn. Though I know it rankles your now-refined sensibilities, even your old clan was known to take liberties with thin-blooded Beasts, the better to purify and rarify Caine’s Gift.

Over the decades, we came to love each other, Koronov and I, even as we both wrestled to snuff out our emotions, as per the Path. When my servitude was up, in 1339, I stayed on at the keep, helping guard our myth, protect the Haven, and expand our understanding of the Road to Golconda and Ascension. Perhaps our connections to the world became to thin and febrile, perhaps the pace of Science and Faith outside of the high Carpathians was too quick for our measured analyses and studies. Whatever the cause, our peace and isolation was shattered by stomping boots, smelly Humans, and the creak of wagon wheels.

Romania and the present Ukraine was under invasion by Germanic Poles. Kievan Rus was falling before  aggressive expansion and even the high mountains were being purged of Slavs. A large mounted troop, apparently an advance party, came to our vale to camp late one afternoon in the summer of 1340. As we lay sleeping, we could hear them scrabbling and scratching around the tor, seeking its entrance. When we woke, we discussed our options even as the party found the heavy stone which sealed our Haven. A group of them managed to harness their horses to the stone and grind it from its bed.

In an instant, Koronov and I set upon them, wincing with the pain of the evening light still bleeding from the west. We assaulted them with an almost transcendent ferocity; I felt divorced from my actions, like an impassive observer to my slaying, not its actor. The Path of Cogent Wisdom, while rational and calm, does not resent violence or fail to use it when it is appropriate. And if we were to keep our Haven, none of the troop could survive the night to tell of it. Though the Poles were at least five score strong, we waded into their midst, using our Arts to confuse them and beguile them and then slip away into shadow to attack again from a new direction. It was a horrid slaughter, but it could only be called self-defense.

Nevertheless, the Poles overwhelmed us. Apparently, they at least knew of Koronov from the Mongols they captured in Kraków; knew of the sacrifices made to appease him, the very sacrifice that I was meant to be a hundred years past. I can only surmise that the Human mythology of Kindred had finally gleaned some truth from the legends, because after regrouping from our initial onslaught, the Poles armed themselves with pole arms, spears, and nearby branches. In other words, they prepared to stake us upon our next press. But we could not stop at that point; our Haven was about to be lost forever. We marshaled our wills, suppressed frenzy over the pools of blood we had already spilt, and charged again into their midst.

Unlikely as it might seem, Koronov, a millenium old Vampire from the ancient line of Tzimisce, was staked through by a 14 year old squire with the broken shaft of a halberd. As Koronov fell, I tried to reach him and whisk him away into the snowy peaks to heal and rebuild our Haven. But then I too was overwhelmed, by three of the men, and placed into torpor unceremoniously with a pine branch. Even now, I can remember the small cone still attached to the bough, bouncing over my face as I shuddered and writhed in what would be the last actions I took for the next 500 years.

Since that night, I have slept. The torpor closed down my keen senses, so I do not know what befell me, or even how I came to be free of torpor and in a marsh of the Odra River on the Prussian border. I, further, have no knowledge of the fate of Koronov. I know only that I was healed, regaining my strength, and lost somewhere south of my home country and long-missed Copenhagen. I made my way with utmost hast to Denmark and the now-capital. That is pretty much where you picked me up, I presume. You imprisoned me with guile and weirding words and now you interrogate me about things that mean nothing to me: a Sabbat, some Camarilla, Traditions, the Inquisition. None of these things mean anything to me; all of which I am certain is that I am very alone in a much smaller world and no closer to Golconda for being held in your clutches. Now tell me what I must do to be rid of you Tremere and your whole, dark world….

Interviewer’s Notes


The subject, Sören Dukovni, is certainly of unique origin and clan, if only because of his Old Tzimisce lineage.

The admixture of Arts in which he is trained is unusual to find in a non-Malkavian, but is a useful combination.

He seems to be willing to abide by the Traditions, if not swear by them, and he is certainly NOT a Sabbat puppet. His Aura is marked by the Kindred blood he has drunk, but given his essentially ‘backwards’ education and upbringing, it is hard to press the issue in good conscience.

I intend to subject his words to the usual tests for veracity. Then, if he is not lieing through his pointy teeth, I will extend an offer of clemency to him from the Tremere of Copenhagen.

In conclusion, his age and unfamiliarity with this world make him a risk to the Masquerade should he be just set loose without proper coaching and guidance. Conversely, we can not Destroy him out-of-hand unless we are willing to take an innocent’s unlife. Our only route is forbearance of aggression, forgivness for his ignorance, and education for his future conduct once we release him. I believe he will be more than willing to follow our laws, if he is, in turn, allowed to pursue this Path of Cogent Wisdom which is his driving goal.

Finally, I am sure we should investigate further this Koronov personage, hopefully determining his current whereabouts, if only to be sure he will not attempt a claim on Sören.

Magus verMagnusson, May, 1843

Such Is Gorbo

 Demifiction, Writing  Comments Off on Such Is Gorbo
Mar 051998

Note: The following passage is for general consumption by all Childe with any ties to Camarilla structure or society. All other readers are at risk. You have been warned.

transcribed from Middle English by David Artman

You see, I was the greatest! Positively. No one could turn a phrase like the Great Gorbo. Back in those days, being a Fool was an honor, yes. Folks looked up to the court Fool. Dukes envied me my voice in the ear of the good Queen and manipulated the King to get rid of me. I was a noted advisor, yes. Sure I looked a little silly, made ribald jests, capered about during feasts. I did that racket, baby. But I was the right hand of the Queen (and stood in its stead some nights, I can tell you!).

What Queen, you ask? The only true Queen of that day, Isabella the Catholic, Queen of Castile and Spain. Who the hell you think? … Oh, I see. Yes, this was in 1492. So what?

Anyhow, she’d just sent -that’s Isabella, not my sister- had just sent that smarmy Portugese over the edge of the world— What? … My sister? Who brought her up? Is this my show or yours, baby? Don’t like to be called “baby,” huh, mook? Not “mook” either, huh, couchon?

No, it is not going to stop. Weather it, bubbie. Transcend it.

So, Isabella had sent that Portugese over the edge and was generally getting abuse from Ferdinand, her husband, because of the Inquisition and she’d appointed me to her court in Castile to keep me out of harm’s way. HA! That’s kind of funny, now that I hear it aloud. Don’t worry, you’ll understand the irony shortly. … Er, you’re rather tall, actually; perhaps you will understand before long, yes?

So, she sends me to Castile—lovely place, by the way, in the Southern Pyrenees, with tall, narrow towers, now torn to rubble from some Worldwide War that happened while I slept. Shame, really. It had some of the finest apple orchards in Spain, really about the only to be had until you reach Lyon. And clean! My word, neat as a pin.

So, there I was, in Castile, far north of the screams of Jews, but nearer to their cause that I could imagine at the time. See, I’d been sent to Castile because of my sympathies with Isabella’s Inquisition—but really my heart was with the dear Isabella, her faith be damned. Hey! That’s a pun, too. The old juice is coming back, slowly but surely. Huh? … Yeah, well, you try to be witty after sleeping for 400 years. No, not 500, 400; what, were you there? Yeah, I didn’t think so. … Damnation! You made me lose my place; where was I?

Right! I was sent to Castile to be sheltered from the jealousy of Ferdinand and the irritation of the Inquisition’s petitioners. Did you know that no fewer than half the petitioners to beg for their lives before Isabella appealed to ME as well? Minge, did Ferdinand get angry when they asked me for sympathy before him! Those idiots were invited to the Inquisition for the LOOONG haul, I can tell you, yes. Ferd didn’t like the Inquisition very much, but he liked being marginalized even less.

Now, I admit that I sometimes dallied in the lower dungeons, passing the time before or after a banquet discussing the anatomy of pain with the various workers down there. And those men loved their work, with the fervor of the righteous. You ever had a job you enjoyed, Chaucer? Not this one, eh?

But you’ll never guess who also was cloistered up in those drafty hills. … Yes, I know I said it was lovely; beauty on the eyes is not wool for your bollocks, sport.

So guess! Go on. Try. … Mmm, hmm. I thought as much. You think you know it all because you know a good way to phrase it all. By God, I am glad that my puppets were not such pains in the arse in court as you are in here! I’d never have finished a performance. Anyway, you give up yet?

No, no, no! Say “Uncle, I give up; I don’t know.” … Well done, but I didn’t say, “Simon says!” Go to the back of the line. Go on! I’m not going to let you cheat, you bastard. You blew it, you go back to the back of the line. That’s better.

… What?

… I am sorry, I can’t hear you very well from way over there. Come here, already; I said move to the back of the line, but you are the only one in line, pomegranate. That means you can come to the front. So come here.

Okay, okay. Simon says, “come here.” Yes, you are learning, yes.


I’m sorry, what? Yes, THE Torquemada was in Castile, running the whole grand show from the sanctuary of the hills. And let me tell you, the man was a visionary. Folks today seem to think he was some kind of monster. Like us. But he was just a man trying to save the world. Well, his world. Er, well, the Catholic world. The Church was under duress at the time, you know. Protestants roamed the land like packs of wild dogs, spreading foolish dogma about “individual relationships with God.”

I can tell you this much: God’s far too busy to deal with anyone without an agent. You try handling 500 million call-ins a day. The Big Guy needs his space and time to think. Rabble-babble in his good ear is a real waste, yes.

Did I mention that Thomás was one of us? Well, I mean he was then, but I wasn’t. That is, Torquemada was a Childe of the Night. Er, is one. Well, maybe he’s dead now, I don’t know. I ran away from him when the trouble with the Camarilla started. Oh, I haven’t covered that yet? Well, hang on! Damnation, why do you persist in interrupting? It’s confusing me.

So, after Torquemada brought me across, I had very little time left to myself. Because he was my Sire, he was my Master; he had many things for me to learn and do in those early nights. But the timing must have been bad -bringing me over, that is. The heat was on us. When the shite hit the fan, he dragged me away from my now-belovéd Castile to some hole in Germany. He called it “hiding in plain sight,” though we were never really much in sight. Too much time with ceremonies and pagentry and the Church.

No, idiot! Not the Catholic Church. You try taking Communion after nightfall. Easy, huh? Try doing it for months without the priests noticing something strange. And I didn’t look so human in those days, no. I was a sickly-looking thing, lost 30 pounds in all the wrong places, pale as ale. Torquemada helped me along with that as well, teaching me how to push blood into my withered capillaries, stomach the strong German beer, swallow those spicy sausages without vomitting blood for hours.

You look queasy, son, you one of us, too? Mask slipping?

Okay, let me back up a bit, I was sent to Castile and I filled the days with riding, whoring, drinking, and minor dramas and jests around the banquet hall. When Isabella vacationed in her home castle, I enjoyed her company and love. All in all, it was an engaging lifestyle and one which I was prepared to pursue until my dotage. But then Thomás suggested a new path for me.

You realize that, when I say suggested, I mean just that. Suggestion. Mind manipulation. He twiddled my head and I woke up dead. Of course, my position with the Church was quite elevated. No longer one of the flock, I was now being groomed as a Bishop. I never knew that Thomás was a Cardinal until those early nights. Of course, he explained to me how he was with a secret sect of the Church and how no one was to know of my training, including the Church itself. In fact, he informed me that most of the powers in the local Church were unaware that he was of this secret sect and was watching them for Jewish sympathizers.

Yes, he had many lessons for me before he finally let me out to feed myself for the first time. I was to be his slave for 99 years. I would help him “cleanse the fold of lost causes”—his phrase for diablerie. I would promote the general welfare of the Church, to the exclusion of myself. I would worship my Sire as my Lord.

Then he started talking about Caine. He spelled it funny. … Yes, like you just did on your notepad. He started talking up that murderer as if he were the Messiah. Said we’d feed him upon his rebirth and other frightening things. See, I could live with there being mortal threat to my unlife only if I lost control of myself; that was okay and was a tradition in our Church. And it makes sense, you know? Culling the weak. But feeding some dark beast that claws its way out of millenial-old soil? Soiling it, as it were, with the blood of Able? No thanks, I’ll be walking from here, cabbie. See, that’s what I said to Thomás. As you might imagine, he did not much like that.

No, Thomás de Torquemada would brook no insurrection—”heresy,” he called it. I ran like hell for the high Alps near Alsace, his hounds hot on my heels.

Ever heard of the Wild Hunt? Hmm, well, count yourself lucky, squidly. I ran with the full fear of God, probably the closest to His Power I had ever been. And I was clever. I was able to dodge the Hunt for nearly 70 years.

… What? … Did I say 7 or 70? You tell me, I am just the talker here, you’re the writer. I am pretty sure it was 70. It was long enough to get control of my abilities. Do you know how hard it can be to find a Malkavian when he doesn’t want to be found? Hell, I spent 30 of those years in an asylum in London. Met some of the finest men and women I have ever know in that hole. Thank God they kept them so dingy and dark, I’d be sure-dead by now if not for the merciful darkness provided by my jailors. And their blood, of course. … The blood of the mad has a certain twing to it that reminds me too much of home.

Home? … Where’s that, you say? Why, merry old England, of course. Born 1463 to peasants. Left the 2 acre farm in Sussex for Spain when I was 12. Became a clown for the city of Madrid and worked hard at playing. I think it was a Duke who introduced me to the Court of Ferdinand in 1489. Isabella secured my commission, in part due to the eclesiastic bent of my humor. I don’t think she ever knew the bent of my humour, though. Certainly not after my death. I never saw her again after the Hunt was called.

You know that we all loved her, back then? She was a paragon. To press lips to her face was to kiss the Virgin. To be at her side was to be on the right hand of God. She was His Betrothed on earth, even as she was the belovéd mistress of Spain. I would never forget her as long as I live.

Which is to say that I started to forget her in the first days of my unlife and could not even conjure an image of her face once under the press of the Hunt. Did I tell you about the asylum? That’s when I learned that I could only survive on drunken blood. They gave very few members of that club alcohol, let me tell you. So I got to be close with the guards. I used to put on my old act for them—in English, of course—and one in particular became very close, enthralled with me, you might say. He kept me fed, to the dereliction of his own health, poor lad. I kind of missed him once I had gone. … Well, of course, I got away, dolt! I am here aren’t I?

It turned out that I had to escape, back into the Hunt, or risk my jailors discovering my true nature. I was living too long and too well in there. My “friend inside” left my cell conveniently open one evening and I stole out, into the bleeding dusk, back on the Devil’s Road.

I needed a pastime, but first I had to shake the Hunt. Then it hit me! Where better to avoid the Inquisition still cleansing the land than in the arms of Protestantism? I was a great Fool. I could be again, just not in the reach of the Church. That was about the time that King James Stuart had assumed the throne. I had been running for 70 years and had left my reputation in the dust, turned to dust, ashes to ashes, baby. But I was a great Fool.

I worked my way up over the next 20 years, careful to play my role well, to turn heads, to capture the ears of power and hold them in my sway. I worked at it with the fervor of the damned, and I, finally, found myself performing in a play for James himself. Some guy named Bill had written this little history about one of the Henrys and needed a stand-in for the guy who played Falstaff. That was all it took, cousin, yes. No one can belly-laugh like James Stuart, by the way. And such a drinker, fortunately for me! Yes, there were some nights, late in my tenure for the court of the King of England, when I supped on that royal, purple blood and knew the greatest ecstasy that our foul lot can encounter! A taste of POWER!

Of course, then I got caught.

No! Not by the Hunt. By some chambermaid, curse her eyes. Actually, they were pretty tasty, and I’d hate to curse a past dinner. But, yes, before I poked her, she pegged me; screetching through Buckingham about demons and vampires. Hey, she had it half right, who could blame her a bit of hyperbole? I, of course, made it out of the Palace, but I was hell-bent on getting revenge on the oafish cow who had cost me my job and standing. So I ate her eyes.

While her husband staked me through the heart. Unlife’s a bitch, yes?

They dumped me into the Thames, apparently thinking running water would hold me in my torpor. Actually, it was the stake that held me. Well, it didn’t actually hold me, because I drifted down the Thames to the Channel and out into the North Sea.

Did you know the mean annual temperature of the North Sea is 35 degrees? I didn’t either. Life is wierd. Or, rather, death is. And I thought I was quite dead. My only sorrow was that I did not just let the Hunt get me so that I could be rightfully destroyed by my Sire, returning his blood unto him.

Instead, I was a coral bed.

Yes, I was a coral bed. For 350 years. See, it takes about 50 years to establish a full-fledged bed, so I don’t count them. Oh! And now you see why I said 400! See? I told you everything would work out in the end. Thanks for the interview… and for your sacrifice.


What? You aren’t here for my dinner as well? Just the story? You little shit! I should kill you. … Huh? How’d I awaken? Deus Mio, you are a bit dense, aren’t you?

Offshore oil drilling.

Offshore oil drilling churned me loose with enough blood from blended fish and crustaceans to snap me out of torpor. Maybe the stake had rotted by then and I just needed a cock’s crow. But it’s still been a tough few weeks dragging myself from the North Sea, south through England, and onto that terrifying device that carried me over the ocean to this New World.

I thought I’d start in Raleigh, since Sir Walter was such a funny-assed old fart in his dotage. I thought I’d see his burg.

January 9

Me-oh-my, the year’s unclear, but I know it’s day is late:
the sun is down, the moon’s come ’round, yet no dew’s on me pate.
My dawn is come, with setting sun; the city spreads it plate.
I must hie hence and find the Prince before it gets too late.

Ah, there’s the lad! Face like a shad. His bearing: calm repleat;
how sits that crown, above that frown? He must himself defeat.
I bow quite low, give pride a blow, and fold there at his feet.
I tell my life, my skill and strife, and check my jests are meet.

But laugh he can’t: the Ventrues pant, no Fool has court in here.
That Jonas chump shifts on his rump, and looks at me quite queer.
Does he know me? Or me, myself? I feel a twinge of fear;
but, no, he’s only tired of fun, and doesn’t want me near.

For a time, I sat, I watched the course, and no one paid me mind.
I watched a dog, a cat, a frog, a Nos come from behind.
I heard a fray, some Childe at play, and peeked in through a blind.
A battle thick, the Kine drop quick; I thought it quite a find.

So, looking neat, mostly like meat, I stepped into the pub.
And dodged a bolt, ignored some dolt, and skirted past the hub.
I pulled a draught, and kind of laughed: a Kine was gi’en the drub.
So soon it ended, the pub was mended, but herein lay the rub:

Who in hell told such violent soldiers as these where to find our ilk and, further, why by hell isn’t the culprit drawn on four stakes, slit from gorge to crotch, and feeding the injured at this very moment? Could so much have changed since last I lived in this dark world?

January 30

The Life of Riley, I tell you; The Life of Riley! They may not know how to run society, but minge, these Kine can throw a party, yes! I’ve not slept a wink all night these past weeks!

So I met this guy, golfer, a “duffer”, he says. I never much got into golf as a lad, though I’d know about it from its inception. Seems the Spanish thought it a fool’s game, being Scottish. Since I was a fool and Scot-Welsh, I figured I’d keep my head low, you know? Better than it being TOO low; in the dirt; under a skirt; no, I do not flirt.

“Lop off ‘is head, and toss ‘im in bed,”
“We married ‘im off to a shrew!”
“And don’na he clef, use narry a breath,”
“‘Cause SHE’ll tell ‘im what to do!”

HA HA! Heh, heh, heh… -sic- ‘Scuse me, bitte.

Great old drinking song! La Belle Primogené de la Toreadore put it to my mind. What a dear! I never knew many Orientals in my days in court, but I met a couple of withered ambassadors when Marco returned. Their language is as fluidly jangling as the Old Cant. I recall getting in a long debate about Being with one of them. Shame we weren’t speaking the same tongue; we might’ve made some headway.

Where was I? Oh, yes! The beauty! Oh, nevermind; she thinks I’m an idiot. When really I am a fool. Ah, well, she’ll see my worth soon enough. Soon enough.

Besides, she let herself be AUCTIONED! I couldn’t believe it! A Primogen! Leave it to Ventrues to come up with a charity auction which manages to objectify their peers! Disgusting. And they’d prolly call the tortures of the Inquisition disgusting, in spite of their holy goals. Fools. No, idiots.

But anyway, I fell in love with the golf thing. Nothing like it for concentration and frustration. Concentraton of frustration. Frustration of concentration. But I don’t ever have to pay greens fees, since I always tee off after midnight. Kind of handy, when you’re unemployed. Of course, my “duffer” buddy didn’t understand why I invited him to a midnight tee off. But he showed up. Shame, really, that he did. I got a bit peckish at the ninth, dontcha know. And he was having schnapps after each hole.

Lovely stuff, schnapps. Puts a tang on the tongue unlike any other liquor. I’ll have to find a biergarten in this burg. ‘Course, the stuff is like candy straight from the bottle, so I’ll stick to lager for the lips, yes.

Did I have a point to this? I am sure there was a point, it just won’t prick me again.

Oh! Right! There was very little in the way of events, these past weeks. I can’t find a court to fool; these common house managers, to whom I have petitioned for stage work, are more uppity than the Burghermeistergruppen; and my pro golf career is looking dubious. I can drive the buggery ball 400 yards when I’ve a mind to, but I can’t ever make a tournament tee time, due to obvious circumstances, you understand.

But I’m STILL looking, yes. Someone will give me shelter (or the gold for it) one day soon, I just know it. I believe, baby. And it’s not like I’ll starve in this Southern New World. Not with ‘Beam and Daniels’ more common than water.

February 6

Transcribed from an ‘audio taping’ of my morning babblings

Do not go gentle into that good night;Our age will burn in rage at close of day.

Rage, rage against the lying in the fight.

Twisted Methuselah’s, their bower come at last,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Dazzled Caitiff, soaring, boring, lower class,

They do not go gentle into that good night.

The mangy Garou, pet of Gaia (slutty lass)

Does not go gentle into that good night.

And you, My Sire — to bleed me, coming fast:

Do not expect still further flight,

Do not seek mercy in our timeworn fight,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

My, but that Mr. Thomas had a way with meter. And so I borrow Mister Thomas to speak to Master Thomás.

Do NOT expect fealty, if you still live. I know what your “Church” is now and how truly dastardly it is! I know you raised me well, and taught us our power; but your failure to bend me to your dark purpose is complete.

They say you are gone; so why do I shudder to wakefulness, clawing the sand that is my home, for now?

Anybody got a light? How about a drink?

What was I just saying? Was I talking in my sleep? Am I now? Am I awake yet?

Deus mio, I hope I haven’t been thinking out loud!

HEY! You! With that microphone! Was I talking out loud…? HEY! C’mere… dinner!

February 27

Oh, my deary-me, little Journal! I have had a stroke of genius! Shear GENIUS! I couldn’t wait until later tonight to tell you!

For weeks I have racked my brain to come up with the most clever prank I could imagine, something befitting my re-awakening and re-entry into society. I have know for some time that I want the jest to be aimed at the city’s best and brightest, the Camarilla Council.


It’s very simple, requires minimal support tools, and will really liven up the next Council meeting.

The salient “point” of the prank is a syringe, filled with what they call ‘endorphine’ in this Latin-loving modern world; we remember it as Blood Humour, my pretty little Journal. I know where to find vials of the stuff, just waiting to be shot into… Oh, I don’t know… maybe the Garou Representative to the Council?

Yes, loyal Journal, I will sneak into the Council meeting, watch for optimal timing (Comedy is all about timing; have I told you that lately, Journal?), then drive the point home!

TA – DA! Instant frenzy, ready while you wait!

It’s going to be smashing! LITERALLY!

I am off, now; going to work at the Starlight Lounge! Stage gig, vaudevile, Fridays and Saturdays, twice on Sunday. Then it’s off to the races – the weekly Gathering!

I’ll tell you all about it at dawn.


and sounds described varyingly as “manical cackling”, “moaning wails”, and “muttering or gibbering”. Researchers are considering a number of causes for the rash of encounters: hallucinations, local college pranksters, and El Nino have all been proposed.—(see Feature: Spirit Science, A3)

Local Comic “Bombs” For Last Time

TRIANGLE CITY (AP) – The Triangle suffered a blow to its funnybone last night.

The up-and-coming stand-up comic Gorbo the Mad (Jim Carruthers) was tragically killed in a freakish fire at the notoriously-dangerous nightclub Dante’s Inferno.

Witnesses to the catastrophe, asking to remain anonymous, claimed to have seen two leather-clad men approach Gorbo while he was engaged in discussion with an associate. The sequence of events is unclear, but apparently the men were carrying some type of aerosol dispensers filled with a highly-combustible liquid, which they discharged onto Gorbo.

The happy Fool’s characteristic dangling cigarette ignited the substance, engulfing him in fire. The assailants escaped during the clamor to quench the persistent flames.

Police are investigating a possible connection between this attack and last week’s violence at Dante’s Inferno, but so far have no leads or suspects that they are willing to share. Nearby business owners have filed joint complaints against the nightclub with the Triangle Chamber of Commerce, fearing the possibility of damage to their establishments should the poor security and misadventure at the club persist. Lord Ashby, its owner and manager and man-about-town, was unavailable for comment.

—(see The Mourning Laughter, A7)

Historian Proves Merit Insufficient In Politics

TRIANGLE CITY (Local Press) – Noted art historian, philosopher, critic, and philanthropist Dr. George Kiel will be returning to his Triangle home this week after a disappointing bid for the N.C. Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate. Though he scored high marks with regional electors and won crushing victories in public debates, Dr. Kiel’s repeated cancellations of popular rallies and tardiness for dinner engagements shattered the febrile faith of his constituency. Instead, Representative Jesse Helms will again be straining the back of the Party Pachyderm as he rides it into the mud-slinging pits of the General Election. Though Dr. Kiel…

Last Updated on March 2, 1998

The Life & Unlife Of Joerghen Kielvonbroud

 Demifiction, Writing  Comments Off on The Life & Unlife Of Joerghen Kielvonbroud
Nov 221997

Note: The following passage is for general consumption by all Childe with any ties to Camarilla structure or society.
All other readers are at risk. You have been warned.


“Life is hard for us, boy, so you’ve got to be harder.
You’ve got to stand up and claim the soil for your own!”

Geoffrey Kiel, Landholder, 1704

I was born Joerghen Kiel in 1698 to a large Germanic family living in what is now called Alsace-Lorraine but was then just Strasbourg. My father provided for our large family by brewing, if not the best lager in the region, at least the strongest and I grew up in an agrarian tradition of family, hard work, and God. Since my older brothers beat me while my sisters looked on laughing, I had little love for the first tradition. My predilection for the product of the farm left me rarely in any shape to do the second. The high-handedness of the Huguenots who had assumed control of the region taught me little but scorn for the third. In all, I had an unexciting youth which spiraled lazily down into a dull manhood. I sought and gained employment in the city as a clerk to a banker and slowly amassed a small fortune by taking advantage of the information with which my position provided me. I would note which locals were most in debt and buy out their obligation in exchange for their paying a minor rent to me for the items used as security. A shame that most of those long dead wretches never knew enough math to realize when they had paid over their debts in rent.

Such behavior earned me little favor with my parents, family or anyone else in that low class and I soon found myself without a friend. Sure I had wealth, but no one with whom to share it. I turned inward, lacking any outward way to turn in my narrow world, and therein I found a friend: logic. I pursued the philosophies of thought, metaphysic, and ethics through every printed book I could afford. Those I could not buy or which were not yet being printed on Guitenberg’s new engine I solicited from fellow bankers, the new University, and even the Church, when I could stomach their proselytizing long enough to make off with the text I needed. I found my calling in those waxy pages and turned away from my land-lording to begin writing.

It was then that I met Broud, one night in Paris as I traveled seeking a patron for the publication of my first treatise. He stood speaking in a Rive Gauche cafe, expounding up the fallen state of Man and his subsequent inability to ever be good enough for God again. He was a striking man, but it was his mind that enthralled me as I sought holes in the mortar of his logic and found naught but stone. When he finally surrendered the floor, I told him as much, with words of praise and respect and only the slightest fishing for patron information. He likewise seemed impressed with my comportment and education (and my pride swelled as I was the only one to thank for having those two) and invited me to dine with him the next night, where we could look over my manuscript and discuss corrections, oversights, and the future of the work. In my youthful ignorance of things dangerous, I agreed. No, insisted.

Those Childe reading this will recognize the name of my newest fan, Broud, and can guess what happened over dinner the next night. To those who find that last sentence confusing or know not if they are ‘Childe’ and, thus, if they should get the joke, I say you are not of our Kine and should not be reading further. You are being watched& take care not to react with surprise to what follows.

The Most Thoughtful Kiss

“I have much to offer your career,
should you be interested in a bargain&.”

Broud, Philosopher, 1723

That dinner was enlightening in may ways. I learned many things. I learned that I was to be the host. I learned that I would eat very little and would not keep it down for the day. I discovered that I would become a philosopher for my career, and that that career would be a most long one. I found that I would be assisting Broud for many of the early years in that career.

But not all that I learned was so good.

I learned that my nature is that of the murderer, one who takes without compunction or thought, as if the victim were a hare or sheep bound for the boiling pot. I learned that Broud was quite famous among his peers and that the same peers would not appreciate my new ‘status’ with him. I discovered that dawn ended my day and dusk awoke me. And finally, for those of you who think eternal night is eternal revels, I lost the need, ability, and desire for those things which make night light on the soul. My ladyfriends learned that I would never call on them again, if they were lucky. My associates by pen watched the letters stop as their eyesight failed. My family learned of my death and threw a wake which I found, on the eve, vulgar in its gaiety and the constable found, in the morn, mystifying in its violence.

Yes, my gains on one front were lost on another, and my life changed forever on that November night, 1723.

The Unlife and Times of vonBroud

“I’ve had worse!”
Joerghen Kiel, Fool, 1723

Let it be know by the reader that I was overjoyed with my new existence, in spite of the initial revulsion, and I threw myself to the assisting of Broud and the unlearning of all that I thought I knew about religion, society, and metaphysics. I quickly accepted what I had become and embraced its truths as I had one devoured the Dialogues and Metaphysics. I was so pleased with the favor of my new master that I took his name and flaunted it on both banks of the Seine. When my family sent a brother to inquire about my return, I had Broud tell them of my name change and of my death. In that order, obviously. I danced the nights through on an intellectual high.

But I soon learned how difficult being the follower of a great man can be: how demanding, how thankless, how tiresome. And I was not the only one to gain his lifelong favor; I had to share his thoughts with two Parisian tarts and a quiet old man from Holland named Rembrandt. I found out that they were of my ilk when I sought to strike the old man for some insult now forgotten and came away with a stump. I actually coined that now-modern phrase ‘you gonna draw back a stump’ one melancholy night when I was drunk on sailor in Boston and thinking back on my life.

I withdrew into myself again, on a higher level than before, taking a vow of silence that I swore I would not break until “Men fly as we!” I kept that vow for a hundred years. I held it through the death of my siblings and father in the War of Austrian Succession, though I bent it some when I wrote to Broud from my new home in America that I was reassuming my given name of Kiel, with the vonBroud appended in memory of his gift. I kept it through my Acknowledgment by Prince Crowley (much to his irritation). I kept it clear up until, on the dunes of Kitty Hawk, I watched two brothers make a fool of me one cloudy, barely-tolerable day. That night, I scraped together all of my possessions and writings and started to forge a name of my own for myself: Kielvonbroud.

And On Into Dawn

“Uh, well, sure I have heard
of Raleigh, My Prince. So what?”

Joerghen Kielvonbroud, Well-Traveled Fool, 1997

And so, now, I have lived long, gained and lost faith, lost and gained trust. My Sire accepts my choice to live in the New World and honors me with the renewal of his favor. I have been assigned by our Justicar to a new territory for our Clan to try to bring it under some control and introduce the Arts there before other, less graceful Clans establish their marks. I have been entrusted with this because of my steadfastness in the face of untasted pleasures (a trait much sought, seldom found, in my Clan).

I have also been sent to watch over Darius, a somewhat acquisitive member of our Clan who somehow persuaded the Justicar to assign him to the post as well. I am to be his assistant while at the same time reigning in his dash for glory should it proceed at too breakneck a speed. I am to aid without compromising the Clan. I am to support when his voice sings in Our Chorus.

What follows is a more detailed account of the proceeding in Raleigh concerning myself in particular and broken down by logical periods between Greater Raleigh Primogen Council meetings.

FIRST SESSION – The Council has been formed, and I have been, of course, named to the Primogenicy for Clan Toreador. Thanks to efforts on both my and Darius’ part, he has been made Prince, but a shakier throne I have seldom seen outside of Revolutionary France. He has appointed a Sheriff which answers to no one, allowed a former Sabbat member to be the Primogen of Clan Gangrel, and forbidden Embracing without his clearance. I have a particular problem with the latter, since I thought to bring across a companion in my old age, a nurse for my dotage. Still, the Council brings some order to the vacuum that is Raleigh, and should there be any problems with Darius’ rule, I will, regretfully, be willing to step in to protect the reputation of ours, the oldest of Clans.

Outside of the Council chambers, I had an interesting discussion with the Chief of Raleigh’s Police Department, but one which did not result in him recognizing my bribe for what it was or accepting it. There will be more work on that front, but another time, later, once the iron is cooled, to twist a phrase. Among Childe, I seem to have the respect I am due for my station and death, though many do not seem to recognize my Prestigious Sire, Broud, or are too foolish to care. Still, my word is attended to and the other Clans offer, so far, their support for Clan Toreador’s model for Raleigh territories.

BETWEEN – I have moved my possessions to Raleigh and live now in a small house near the Beltline where I maintain my library and struggle with the Beast. My home is watched over by three Neapolitan Mastiffs: fine young dogs, not one under eleven stone, which know when to guard and when to hide. My neighbors are quiet and, more importantly, inattentive. Our Clan Sanctuary is the Museum of Modern Art and surrounding territories and I will be seeking the University of North Carolina as well, though I suspect the soon-to-arrive Tremere will have something to say about that.

SECOND SESSION – The night’s Council meeting went slowly, but securely. None entered that did not affirm their name and clan and loyalty to the Council, though some were there that Darius and I approved prior to general admissions. All new arrivals to the city were welcomed and Acknowledged and the basic accord of our community was forged. Outside of Council Chambers, I continued to bore and distract the Chief of Raleigh’s Police, and he just as diligently as before missed all suggestion I made to securing his support in questionable circumstances. Oh, well, I shall try once more, then resign myself to dealing with the police in more traditional manners. Unfortunately, I failed to get to meet with the Night Editor at the News & Observer, though I plan to do so next time. Furthermore, the Childe seem restless with the city’s arrangements. The Gangrel clan, in particular, is putting pressure on Our Fair Clan to seek their services. Their Primogen actually attempted a thinly-veiled extortion on myself IN OUR VERY DOMAIN, the Art Museum. This grievance will be addressed in Council and out, next time.

BETWEEN – I have done what I can to secure my haven and get employment as a professor in night school at the North Carolina State University. Oh, how the youth there tempts my hunger! And the minds there! No such work was done at my old Alma Mater. If only I can resist the urges.

THIRD SESSION – That infernal Police Chief is inscrutable and insurmountable! I damn him to his dreary paperwork! I contented myself with enthralling two of the loveliest curators at the Art Museum and presenting them to Darius. They make for light dining, but their swoons are delightful and passionate; I would increase my herd, but Darius advises prudence and a careful pace in such matters. He is still my Prince (though for how long remains uncertain; the waters are darkening), so I defer to his better judgment. Further, under advisement from Darius, I did nothing to pursue the Gangrel’s insults. He ameliorated my fury by maneuvering me into the position of Chief Curator of the Art Museum.

This restraint turned out to be fortunate for the whole Council, since we became embroiled in a mystery focused around the old labs at Burroughs-Welcome. After a somewhat tedious trip through many, varied extra-dimensional chambers, we arrived back in Raleigh, unharmed, and having in our possession an old Giovanni’s Little Black Book. The trip withered my left foot, then sucked the skin off of it, so I felt that I had a strong claim to the influences available in the Book. Unfortunately, there was no time that night, after the long trials, to resolve ownership, so the Book was placed in the Reverend Shackleford’s hands and we vowed to hold Council next time as soon as possible.

BETWEEN – I occupied my nights and dawns much as usual. The ambition that drove me to accept my Justicar’s appointment to this city is cooling and puddling in the pit of my stomach, leading me to wander aimlessly at night and only casually involve myself in the city’s organization. Success breeds complacence, especially in politics, and my position on the Council is the most secure of the lot. No one seems to count me among their enemies and few even disagree with my plans for the Camarilla here.

FOURTH SESSION – Very little of interest happened this week, in or out of Council. I was introduced to two new Toreadors: thin-blooded, high generation cretins who had little to say and less to show me. I welcomed them through clenched teeth and immediate strove to forget them. The Giovanni’s influences were divided up amongst the Primogen of the city and I managed to secure Influence over Raleigh’s City Council and the Mayor of Durham. Late in the evening, these two new Political Influences were augmented by Darius: he transferred to me, with little ceremony, four entire Influences in Finance. Now, I have never been terribly rich, though my skills with Finance always kept me sheltered and covered my travel and education expenses. The possession of millions of dollars has a calming effect, however, that can not be equaled by mere fiscal prowess. My delight at becoming instantly wealthy was dulled by the reason for this generosity: Darius has been called back to Europe, it would seem to become a Justicar on that continent. Though I am pleased with his success, I know that I will miss the one other true Toreador in the City and my first friend in this country. He made his arrangements to step down and the Council, with no small amount of prodding by me, appointed the Ventrue Primogen to be Prince. The Reverend Shackleford, Primogen of Clan Brujah, was appointed Sheriff and Protector of the Traditions, placing a lesser in his vacated Primogenicy.

BETWEEN – I maintained the security of my little home, played some with my dogs, and enjoyed the life of a popular professor at NCSU. Only the smallest drinks passed my lips, and those from the most discreet sources. Late in the week, I received a call from my Justicar in Germany; I took the first plane out that night to meet with him.

FIFTH SESSION – I was not available to the Council during this entire week, as I was reporting to my Justicar in Germany. All went well and he approved of my political prowess and handling of my charge. Also, during my stay in my old home country, I encountered Broud and a few Siblings and we threw the most extravagant party seen in Germany since the Wall fell. At that party, some of my Siblings enjoyed something which at first revolted me, then intrigued me. They were eating pizza! Great, round, Italian imports, flown in by helicopter for the party and smothered with gourmet and traditional toppings. With their encouragement and the aid of a complicated Telepathic link via Broud, my Brothers and Sisters of the Kiss taught me to Eat and Drink again! After over two hundred years, I was able to dine on delicacies, drink the most subtle vintages and most heady brews. I know not whether my preternatural senses or lost remembrances made the dining so rich, but I am addicted. I drink constantly now and take about five meals a day. I may yet regain my humanity& and keep my godhood!

BETWEEN – STOP TIME due to an incomplete battle involving the Sabbat and several varieties of undead.

SIXTH SESSION – I met with two fine new members of Our Fair Clan, Vanessa and Leander, and saw to it that the Ventrue Acknowledged them: basically a formality. I spent many hours attempting to commune with the mute Vanessa, but was finally frustrated and left her to her own devices. Leander seemed good-natured enough, though a Poseur and collector –I have always been irked by non-producers. Criticism has its place, but it is not a profession. And the boy is as obsequious as Lucifer himself! I say boy because his generation is high; he actually seems to have been brought across late in mortal life, in that robust ground between middle age and venerability. Still, he is tolerable and means well; he should be a good addition to Our Fair Clan.

Many people marveled at my new-found ability to Eat and Drink, many abhorred it; Darius, still not away yet, in particular expressed his envy that I could drink his beloved French vintages. Blowing foam off of my stout, I pitied him. The throngs in town swell and burgeon; there are so many undead roaming about that I rarely can go a block at night without hearing one’s sobs or catching one’s blur of speed in the corner of my keen eye. In chilling counterpoint to this influx of new Blood, an Irish detective began to snoop around the city, seeking the cause of “human spontaneous combustion” the previous night. On our first, chance encounter at the coffee shop (where I was having cinnamon-schnapps-spiked mocha blend& sticky delight!) I believe I managed to convince him of my ignorance concerning the odd deaths by combustion Downtown. Though I knew of the great struggle the previous night, it took little acting prowess to feign lack of knowledge: I had no idea WHAT had happened, only that an infernal conflict had lasted unto dawn and taken some of its competitors into blazing night. Further, I believe that I convinced him of my humanity, since we spoke at length and he never seemed the least unsettled. We met again, later, and I drove him away with irritated castigation& but not before attempting to name the Gangrel Primogen, Eric Brock, as his prime suspect. He responded properly: with offense for my brusqueness and a secretive wink for my whispered accusation.

The only business I sought to complete involved securing a silvered wakizashi and a Grendel P30 polycarbonite pistol. For those, I went to one who has, of late, become a strong ally: Red of the Clan Ravnos. Though the initial price he quoted for the pistol is high, my accountant assures me that my millions will survive the cost (really only a few thousand dollars, a pittance). I must, however, await his suppliers, so I spent yet another week unarmed against Kine. Well, unarmed within the Masquerade, that is&.

BETWEEN – I began to frequent a new bohemian club in Durham, Area 51. Their proprietor turned out to be amenable to the company I keep and the crowd I draw and entertained me most of the week. I confess that I can remember only very little of those nights, as the drugged blood which flows therein and the beers peddled across their bar has addled my brain.

SEVENTH SESSION – Most of what happened during this meeting of the Council had to be related to me as I changed clothing and poked at closing wounds. But I get ahead of myself.

It would seem that my new “friends” at Area 51 had managed to get some sort of influence over my thoughts. Nothing so crass as mind control or zombification, but a subtle, soul-rending sort of influence under which they set me loose on Raleigh. I was withdrawn, cared not about my appearance or my jobs at the University and Museum, and spent most of my night brooding over burnt coffee. Apparently, I lost control of my feeding and began squirreling loners out of the museum tours and night classes and feeding on them unto death. In keeping with my new-found messiness, I had littered my inner offices at the Museum with their remains and penned a verse or two on the wall with their blood: doggerel I would be ashamed to repeat herein.

Needless to say, when the Council held session in, as was their wont, my inner offices, most of them were shocked with my redecorating. One in particular, the Good Reverend, was so shocked and moved by his own emotions that he assaulted me, there in my own Domain, spurning my Hospitality. Being a powerful Brujah, it was all I could do to avoid most of his blows. Still, somehow, I faltered; that was all the time he needed to stake me through the heart, plunging me into Torpor for the first time in my life. The Doctor, a Malkavian and my ally from the start, established a Telepathic link. Yet, all my addled and shocked brain could convey was the litany of “Domain& call Broud& Domain”. The Prince, so passive in the face of blatant violations of Tradition, deigned to call Broud in Germany; I don’t think he got through to the real Broud, though, since the beast with whom he spoke came not to my rescue and, in fact, seemed rather non-plussed that one of his most illustrious Childer was staked into Torpor. It was, in fact, probably one of my Siblings, jealous of my success in the Camarilla, playing a joke upon me. I did not laugh, as I recall.

Yet, out of nowhere, an ancient and wise Childe of Night came unto the Council Chambers where I lay in my own clotting blood, and placed onto my lips such bright and pure Blood that I was transposed straight from Torpor and neigh unto giddiness, in spite of my blood loss. This great old one, Lord Ashby, so startled me when I awoke — now freed by he and the Doctor of my rapture — that I thanked him, barely, and lurched into the night to feed. I paused only long enough to damn the Prince and renounce my Primogenicy. Unfortunately, my gesture of disgust turned out to be without thrust, since Leander, the only one of my clan whom I could locate to appoint in my place, showed his true colors as Sabbat a mere hour later and was destroyed. The mute could not be found, so I suspect that I shall remain Primogen, for now. Our Fair Clan has been reduced to two, a mute and an emotional cripple. Fortunately, my Grendel has come through, and with 2 clips, to boot! On into dawn&.

BETWEEN – I managed to recover from my week of depravity and keep both of my jobs (though saving the Museum appointment required much assistance from the Reverand and the Doctor to get my office cleaned). Not surprisingly, the Council has elected to move meetings to across town for the duration; the relocation took nearly a month. Because my susceptibility to the Sabbat influences at Area 51 had cost me dearly in prestige and influence, I spent the extra time shoring up my reputation in Kine social circles and reassuring my accountant and lawyer that I was not about to become a casualty (and, to them, a loss). One week of revels and insanity has cost me a month of apologies and will surely lead to greater expense still.

EIGHTH SESSION – Oh, what irony! What a lark! The Ventrue Prince, Jonas, rode into the Council Chambers on his white horse, brandishing a stack of photographically-copied pages which detailed his model for the city and the Traditions! HIS model! HA! This youth would dare to tell the Primogen that HIS is the only approval possible for Progeny. That HIS is the final word on the future of the Camarilla in Raleigh. That HE is the authority for Domain and its proper respect! This thin-blooded wretch in Armani suits would tell me, Joerghen Kielvonbroud, where to live, who to invite there, and how to treat them once trusted. When I petitioned him concerning the Domain violations which he allowed at the last session, he claimed that it was ‘all I deserved’!

Now, gentle reader, understand that I am a peaceful being, if only by virtue of not having the means to do real violence to those of my kind. But when I looked upon that fat, smug face and listened to his disrespectful disdain, I snapped. Yet I found that I could not move, could do nothing violent towards him, could not even fully form the notion which now burns so brightly in my mind: to tear away a leg of my chair and plunge it into his breast! Let Jonas enjoy Torpor for a day, let him feel the vulnurability and frustration. Let him watch as his ‘protector’ ignores his plight and leaves him to flounder!

I seethed! For months I had thought to seek approval from Broud to bring across Melissa, one of my assistant curators and most beautiful of my small group of thralls. When Jonas thought to command how and when I choose Progeny, I resolved to give her the Dark Kiss. I even made certain that it was her wish, explaining all that I am to her and offering her the same. She accepted, the deed was done, and I brought her before a gathering of the Council.

The cretin renounced my Acknowledgement and called for a Blood Hunt! No, not a Blood Hunt vote; no, he simply let loose the dogs. I had no choice but to flee, screaming to Melissa to find safety and rejoin me near dawn.

BETWEEN – STOP TIME due to an incomplete pursuit of myself and a battle which resolved after my departure from the scene.

NINTH SESSION – Ah, what an evening. Such a swing of power, such disappointment; an agony of manipulation and torment.

While I fled the scene, Melissa was being fearfully tortured by the malificent Jonas. She, like some foolish child (which, I suppose, she is), instead of fleeing to me, her protector, fled instead to the Domain of the Prince, to throw herself upon his ‘mercy’. Leave it to a conniving Ventrue to require a Blood Bond to cement his mercy! Yes, the scum Blood Bound Melissa to himself as ransom for her unlife! I still have no idea WHY she would do such a foolish thing, against my direct instructions, but she did and, worse, still, she and he FLAUNTED it before me this night. Apparently, before I could so much as collect my wits and marshall some defenses, Jonas had stepped down as Prince, and the Malkavian Doctor assumed his place. There was never a Blood Hunt, my Acknowledgement resumed virtually uninterrupted, and I was left, within hours, with a Childe scorning me because of the tainted Ventrue blood in her newly-withered veins. All of the Petty Prince’s pomp and ceremony boiled down to mere extortion and kidnapping. Oh, his knavery drives me mad!

Of course, no recompense awaited me in the Council Chambers. Apparently, the Doctor finds Princehood to his liking and would dictate unlife in the city in much the same way as Jonas would have. This conservatism left me with no justice or recourse for justice; in fact, I found myself having to APOLOGIZE just to sit in my rightful seat in Council. Of course, when I arrived in council, my young Childe sat in my chair, goaded into it by her new puppeteer, Jonas. Wiser this night than the last, I strolled to the far end of the chambers, drew my Grendel, and fired upon Jonas from beyond the range of his damnable and undeserved Majesty. Of course, the coward commanded Melissa to interpose herself and block the shots I fired.

None in that fray were my equal in speed, however, so I merely concluded the altercation by maneuvering out of reach and leaving the Council Chambers. Needless to say, the meeting was in total disarray, and was rescheduled for later in that night. As it reconvened, I called for only Primogen to be present and argued my right to the Primogenicy before the assembled Council with success. Melissa was lead out by her strings and the Council meeting proceeded as normal.

A few attempts I made to persuade Melissa to return to me proved futile and, in a rage and hoping to jar her into remembering her original blood, I renounced her rights as a Toreador, driving her ungrateful ass from my Domain, inwardly screaming at the Bond which was her master. Trying another tack, I began to publicly disparage Jonas (now not even a Primogen) as the leader of the Camarilla’s newest clan: the Puppeteer Clan. With scathing wit and furious mockery, I proceeded to dub him ‘Puppet’s Primogen’ and congradulated him on the rapid growth of his clan (refering to Melissa). My rage muddled my sarcasm a bit, but its point must have found the mark, for Jonas released the Blood Bond upon Melissa.

Then (for some reason still MYSTIFYING to me) she proceeded to renounce ME! It would seem that she took offense to my strong-arm and tough-love tactics to free her and would not return to Our Fair Clan! She would rather roam a Caitiff –or worse, a beggar to the Ventrue– than return to her family and friends and profession! I am amazed and astoundingly depressed by this illogical, unforgiving reaction. I even caught myself beseeching God for aid, as if His ears could hear my wailings from the pit in which I exist.

Now, just before dawn, I can hear the soft babblings in the back of my mind, can feel the heat of the sun again, and know fear. For my mind is trembling with the same chord it sounded before my earlier madness and depravity.

BETWEEN, TENTH SESSION, BETWEEN, & ELEVENTH SESSIONS – I know not where I have been, or what I have done there. Time is melting and I see only my boots below me and the morning’s glow. I think I was in Ontario for a time. And Nevada. I distinctly remember being fascinated (as is Our Fair Clan’s wont) with a huge row of glistening slot machines. Their ringing and clanging, the gaudy lights, like rouge on a dead cheek, beckoning one to revel in losing. I have lost many weeks.

But I have found clarity; I am awake again. While passing through Texas, en route to somewhere, I stumbled across a miniature forest of signs in front of a high school. Perhaps it was their patriotic colors; maybe their directness and force; possibly their implied promises. I do not know. All of which I am now certain is that those election placards, those simple ‘Vote For Bob’s cajolong children to persuade parents, have shown me a way, a purpose in unlife far nobler than learning, art, or wisdom.


Yes, at the next Council meeting, I will announce to the Camarilla, then later to the state of North Carolina, that I will be seeking the office of Senator to the United States Congress.

Enough squabbling over Domain and Progeny and feeble, immortal egos. No more trying to elevate the existances of the damned. Henceforth, I will devote my unlife to the betterment of my hosts, humanity. I will lend my wisdom, experience, and voice to the highest Legislature in the land, the better to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of Liberty.

This is my sworn duty, and will be my driving goal until all Americans are truely free.

Then, of course, the U.N. appointment will come….

A Moment Of Culmination

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Nov 221993

In that moment of seizure, Hunter’s sturdy, powerful heart contracted and froze, drowned in chaos’ thick malaise.

Undaunted and chastised, Hunter Scales’s consciousness sunk penitently into that unwholesome mire, the past poised in suspension through the dissolution of his senses. ‘Curiously like the tales of life passing before one’s eyes….’ He—if enough remained of this ego to earn a gendered pronoun—marveled that introspection held any temporal sense now. Then his thoughts were drawn to wonder at the enormity of imaginative energy spent through all persons back into simian antiquity in each one’s final mind’s cinema. That he could pen but one long-pondered verse on this, his last moment’s lucidity.

That one phrase could have wrought more desecration on the charnel edifices of Modern Man than any long-fused dynamite stick he threw in his unfocussed youth.

The frames of his jumpy reel fluttered forward to jeer and accuse his unblinking, yet myopic, mind’s eye. They do not come like some burst of newsreel, captioned and accompanied by off-key, staccato ragtime trinklings. Rather, they were edited by the eternal, infernally pious director into a melodrama nearly as lampooning as the cartoon.

Like a jaunty and careless Bosco had young Scales strolled onto Yale campus; entering class of ’18, stress on ‘class.’ Gently cushioned from the suppurating carnage of Europe, while funded by his father’s arm sales to the same Five, he was at leisure to pursue what course he would—as long as it was Economics. Not to be daunted by the acquisition of a mere diploma, he had fallen ravenously to studies of the capitalist technique, keeping always an eye on industrial developments throughout the Eastern Seaboard: from noble Boston’s shipyards to flogged Charleston’s reconstruction.


In all though, the cruelly simple manipulations and machinations of the free market refinery interested him not one whit. Early in his education, he petitioned the Elders of the University to allow him, effectively, to ‘test out’ of his Economics degree, using the weight of his family, “so instrumental to the effort of our old friends” (as the Chancellor had remarked, referring either to the Unionists or Allies or both) and the logic that he was, after all, the third son of his father and would need little business skill to manage what inheritance would some day—”God forbid!”—be his to manage. This rational, so weak in his father’s glutted eye, washed over the Elders; he had enrolled, by semester’s end, in a hodgepodge course he dubbed “Metaphysical Studies.”

The whine of surging blood filled his senses; the Old One’s crushing vengeance had pulsed to his dissonant brain and was causing multiple strokes. To Hunter, there could be no more bitter scene than that last recollection: his vision quest for a grail beyond the bottomed Christian one—for now not the least tatter of that idyll remained to furl before his darkling sight.


There had been an instant, not an hour earlier, that the pure brilliance of his long-subsumed dream had pierced the leaden mantle of its perversion. Hunter had stood amid the clutter and piles of books in his sanctum, one book split open in his wide, smooth palm, and seen the text’s encryption for what it was: an ashamed misdirection, the self-conscious warning of a guilty malignance. Behind the coded Arabic lurked the greatest of dynamite, a powderkeg unconserved and riotously neglectful of spatial bounds. He glanced over its instruction fleetingly, never dwelling on a particular phrase or incantation lest the cognition loosen the forces so tautly bound in the phonics… and in himself. Yes, in that instant, he had felt again, at last, that profound disturbance with his impending intentions that had nearly frozen his arm in mid-throw a cloudy eleven years ago, outside of Tanner’s Pub, even as its hand held a sparking, pregnant stick.

Scales’s liberal but intent studies had pulled him from Yale’s polished austerity to Middlesex’s vibrant passion. There he found the right alloy of modernist angst and revolutionary fervor to fuel his first meritable works. He even shortly won a critics post on the magazine which first published his pastiche of Gothic and metaphysical poesy. His Americaness, it was hoped, would provide a needed injection of modern cosmopolitanism to the pulp. Yet Hunter fell quickly to Marxist disparagement of the very new order that he was, as Yale and entrepreneur, to propound. It was merely that, in contrast to the chance elitism of capital enterprise, the communal ideals of the enlivened radicals around the cafes struck a far more sonorous chord with his quest for universals; he more and more often was to be found in pub, cafe, or den, surrounded by like-impassioned youths and speaking with intensity of the ascendancy of the ubermenshen.


It was at one such congress that Scales first met Illya Regis. Their attraction followed the course of frank abandon that was so popular to the licentious energy of the subculture. Soon, however, the fine difference in their drives was to begin a corrupting effect on his Glorious Evolution; her particular deepest bent was for destruction, pure and simple, of the entire social edifice, “worn and weary in its ruts;” and as for what followed: the strongest would decide for the best. “Feudalist retro-evolution” (as was argued by one pedant of their circle) meant nothing to her overmen; they were strong through wisdom as well as daring in the face of flaming deconstruction. They would slaughter the weak out of compassion, not powerlust.

Slowly, insidiously, Illya’s twist on Neitzschean ‘progress’ burrowed into the crystalline core of Hunter’s vision of psychic evolution. His pure and disciplined method and myth of the Ancient Asians slowly was encumbered by Illya’s rarefied and dogmatic occultism. Not content to channel her spirit, she would vent it: one day in furious deliberation over some Cabalist tome, the next in delicate alchemy in the university labs where she labored to breed the perfect detonator: her own fanatic quest for a higher order of magnitude.

In time, he began to perceive more and more of the skulking dread entombed in the dead texts and was seduced closer to the aberrant rage that lurks in all who have seen the onslaught of the industrial age, that revolution of finance without conscience. Within months, it had taken little more than three pints and one rallying tirade from Scorsby—Illya’s mentor—to bring him swaggering and pregnant with bitter power to the entrance of the lawyers’ local, Tanner’s. His wind-chilled hands did not even tremble as he struck a spitting match and ignited his charge.

Yet, as he arched his back and channeled his frustration along his taunt arm, he had seen, even across the flurry-driven street, a relaxed and stately man leaning on the pub’s bar and laughing. That humanity-pervading signal of communion and peace, upstaged by his stick’s spluttering menace, called down to the so newly grown crystal of his dream’s core and froze him on the brink of infamy.

Cool waves of pain streaked down his limbs, convulsing them and forcing the surrender of their balance on the rocking sloop; Hunter began a slow-motion decent to the boat’s deck. The beast of entropy, which his focussed utterances had drawn up from the murky depths of the ocean, moved around the bow to study each twitch and flail of his dragging tumble to the deck. It sent forth tendrils of potential, tweaking his motion an inch this way, an inch that; now—this very slit second—the right foot freed from friction, lifting arduously away from the possession of gravity, the first fraction of a wind gust providing the last causal link to his impact on the salt-washed paneling. He finally lands, each ounce of his weight now transferring to his ill-positioned left arm. One of the series of gravid additions begins the fracture of both his radius and ulna; the point of searing pain is almost holy in its transcendence over the general agony of his apoplexy and subsequent strokes.


He felt, through the chorus and solo of his penance, a hollow, angry laughter flash from the dissolute entity as it lapped a splash of brine across the compound fracture’s torn flesh. The mirth, and Hunter’s drawn scream, cued a gel haze from which the memory of similar amusement and agony panned and resolved.

Illya had merely chuckled at Hunter’s vacant boggling over her revelation. “It’s how these times are, chuck!” she had dismissingly admonished him from across the lamp-lit table. The shadows of the pub closed around his vision, only his inspiration’s becalmed, patient expression swam amid the taunting recollections of shared ecstacy which wrestled for his chagrined attention. “How could I not ‘be’ with Scorsby? He embodies the nihilistic passions which must purge this tepid world.”


“And, ergo, I do not….”

“Embody…?” here one brow on her Hellenic front arched. “Not hardly. You love the middling good of the present too much.”

And she stood and strode boldly off to the last three weeks of her life.

For a long while after her death by a dropped vial, war raged in the conscience and consciousness of Scales. One faction marshaled argument from his tenacious reason while another pumped his softened soul for emotion. He had given an ever-swelling part of his five years at Middlesex to her arcane and violent quest. But he had always held back on the rage; she was right about his stubborn compassion. But he had gone along with her and Scorsby’s conspiracies, sabotages, and murders. Yet he had still wrote and published his concerned admonishment and behests to the yoked masses. Nevertheless, he had always found time to risk translation of those Middle Eastern texts which exceeded Illya and Scorsby’s linguistic abilities.

“Damn all that has past!” he had screamed, grimacing tear-streaked at the pub’s smoke-darkened rafters. No one stopped the man that rose from his seat to ask him about the black smoulder in his eyes; all knew at their innocent cores that the glow was but the last light of the soul interred behind those orbs.

Raindrops eased down from the moon-marbled sky to sculpt fluted red bowls from Hunter’s pooling blood, and the ancient impatient menace which even now absorbed his tattered essence assumed a diffident air. The agony of this frustrating man could be milked no more; the genetic blessing of shock, common to these frail beings, had enshrouded his sparking nervous system. There remained now only the last bilious second or so, that insignificant summation of the closing life, the denouement of derangement and obsession.


The fury of all evils reclined beside the slow-settling form of his severed puppet. It had shown promise of liberation, after centuries, millennia, aeons—no difference—for the envoy of jealous entropy. Wound deliberately into impetus, it had jerked admirably along the prophesied path, in the beast’s planned cadence. Such concentration of purpose had not been seen in nineteen centuries on this planet, and the destroyer had ensnared this one soundly, much to his Nemesis’ sadness. Though a few moments of awareness had slowed the tool’s forging, the final artful influence, in that drinking hall some several eternities ago, proved the last juncture for redemption.

But no, it actually had not, and the chaos meanly parceled out an extra second of quivering breath to the dying human; it raged anew and branded the gasping spirit with its last desperate years of degeneration.

No arcane tome remained unlocked before the voracious appetite in Hunter for vengeance and validation. His first essay was to complete the fatal experiment that had claimed Illya Regis; it done, he coolly, dispassionately, utilized the compound to blast one wing of the Asylum in London. The Nazi party, a perverted phoenix rising ill-smelted from the injured ashes of German nationalism, polished the buttons of the cloak of armageddon which he had donned. His once-caring verse dispelled his audience with a pained yet vitriolic ejaculation in what became his last published editorial. He folded in upon his cold contempt and let it fester, mulching it occasionally with the vision of exploded gentlepersons or bobbies shot dead with an expensive import he order from his brother.


His public identity was, unfortunately, never linked to the Bombardier, hated and erratic anarchist. He was nothing but a rapidly aging curiosity to those few who would listen in the seedier pubs of the East End as he ranted of final judgement, where all but the warrior-saint would drown in their own bile. Those lads who felt the thrill of his words quiver through the feminine back of their companion would cast the occasional copper his way as recompense for necessitating their cloistered consolation.

It was his hungry bending for these coins which would send him home, not exhausted and angst-ridden, but newly fired to his study and rage, the two of which would toss him to and fro until dawn. The compounded humiliation, frustration, and obsession of his graduation into Hell’s honor role set before him, finally, one task.

In a text which possesses no English equivalent for a name, he stumbled across a reference to a ritual which would, for the truly impatient, usher in the era of the Old One, an era which would last but an instant, if time is at all to be considered, but which would release, in a cascade, every imaginative kernel with a jangling note of despair and failure, a note which would sound until Time saw fit to bother with its release and decay. In the rank mire of his ambition, Scales saw this as the Grail for which he searched, an Unholy Grail that would not deign to ally itself with one febrile morality or another but would merely clear the way for the cleanest, most just, most bitterly expedient ethic that wrest hold of the whirling oblivion. The way would be utterly open for the wronged to wrong the slavers, and the masters to cull the inefficient. The quest for this promised procedure caked the last rot on the smeared gem of the once proud Hunter’s soul; it absorbed every waking hour and the last of his father’s bequeathment.

But he did not fail; he ripped the tome from the grappling clutch of a dying Shao Lin priest.

At ten-forty-three p.m., as the winter solstice swept tearfully across Britain’s dales, Hunter Scales sailed from a private pier, aboard a stolen sloop, a stolen apocalypse on his smooth palm. The rain was light enough that it did not soil the thick pages, sheets which little resembled linen stock, had more the texture of murdered hide. By now, the misleading text’s communication was well interpreted by Hunter; he had not parted with his intellect on the same evening which he had mislaid his sanity. Their message seethed with potential and foreboding.

He stood upon the pitching deck and let the wild night surround him, caress him imploringly, as if—rightly so—it had a stake in his eminent profanation. He heard its murmured pleas, felt them echo opposite words spoken by Illya from across white down, and cursed their futility. He was lost, and no weak example of the awful might of the vital world would stay his tongue and psyche. He began the incantation even as his pocket watch chimed the proper moment, Greenwich Mean Time.

The words staggered off his tongue, trying desperately to twist into discord and fling free from the dominance granted the reader in their proper utterance. Hunter held fast to the building power, all the while a bit put off by the lack of apparent effect in the surround nature; in shouting the culminating chant, he expected some herald of the coming purgation.

But Chaos waits on no ceremony.

In front of him, where before there was only white-crowned fluid peaks, an amorphous form resolved and advance deferentially forward. Hunter’s mind reeled as his eyes realized that the form, which had seemed only man-sized, appeared so by foreshortening; its obedient advance had covered over a mile and it now loomed taller than the sloop’s mast. The water from which it vaulted seemed to abhor touching the entity, preferring to cease existence in an annihilating whirlpool around it. As to its composition, it was nothing more than the reflection of a glimmer of wan light subsumed in an inky appetite. It exuded a baleful anxiety subtly tempered by the patience of an immortal. It radiated an interrogative; with that question—not to be?—it tuned all of its force into a silent cyclone of doom shrouded in its wide volume.

And Hunter knew finally what that request meant, really and ultimately, and the pure and persistent crystal that was ever at the throne of his mind and spirit shattered in righteous denial. The ascendancy of man could not, it decried, be on the laddered ribs of its starving obsolete. True ascendancy of the son does not come with the death of the father, but with pitied solace beside his deathbed. These again proud and passionate—not just furious—exhortations pummelled the waiting swarm of chaos; it reared and drew its warhorn from its swollen, cracked lips to let it sink back to the sea.

And the Ancient One, master of all save one force in the universes, reached out with a quivering claw to encompass Hunter’s freed heart and vengefully crushed it into a messy clod, even as the collapsing muscle shook loose the sole virtue it interred.

Blood rushed from Hunter’s seizing heart, causing multiple strokes which killed him in the space of three seconds.

Affidavit Of The Defendant

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Jan 151989

Affidavit – Criminal Court of Oslo, Norway

The following testimony of Richard Straffborn, accused of murder in the first degree,
in the case of Norway vs Straffborn, case number CC-113/092189
is hereby given freely, under oath, on this the Nineteenth of September, 1989.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, though I realize that my future—nay, my very life—rests upon the proceedings there today in your esteemed courtroom, I fear that I will be unable to attend the trial on my behalf. To step out of the confining safety of these hard bars would mean my certain destruction, as you may soon understand if you will keep open minds and read this testimony with unprejudiced eyes. The tale I have to tell of the events of July 19, 1987 is one of dark history and the folly of the naive. Much, though, leads up to the crescendo for which I must bear witness; the recounting of it all is crucial for your understanding.

On May 5, 1987, the archaeological book concerning Ardurst Castle was reopened by an student of Norwegian history named Josh Sturguild. It seems the boy, in his curious studies of the more arcane and mysterious pages of this land’s past, uncovered references to the ancient owner of the keep, Anathor the Outcast, in those yellowed records. The information he uncovered told of the expulsion from court suffered by Anathor, once a powerful and respected advisor to the thirteenth century King of Norway, Olag. It was here, however, that the name Anathor disappears from the annals of time… until about forty years ago. If you will recall, Ardurst Castle was discovered, in ruins, in 1946. A fisherman out of Belivack noticed the main tower of the structure peeking over the crest of a cliff along the shore of northwest Norway, near the Russian border. Though the scientific community was in as much disarray as every other element of society following the second World War, a team was dispatched by the NAC—the Norwegian Archaeological Community—to set up a dig there.

As a purely inquisitive venture, the dig was a striking success. The existence of such an isolated, yet strong and obviously self-sufficient, miniature fiefdom surprised the NAC’s team. To enumerate the many finds would require, essentially, rewriting the 127-page report which the team eventually submitted to the NAC after “completing” their study. Suffice it to say that the centuries-dead owner was a learned, just, and intelligent man. His name, they discovered, was Anathor: a personality unheard of until Sturguild’s hapless discovery.

Josh was one of my students at Middlesex at the time of his findings. Knowing that I hold a profound interest in Mideval history, he came to me to tell of the connection Anathor had with the old Norwegian court. A great connection it was, too; Anathor’s past and therefore Castle Ardurst’s prenatal history was a grand curiosity among scholars of such musty things. Needless to say, my imagination was sparked by the boy’s report. Unfortunately, being still a fledgling in matters of comprehensive research, he failed to reveal the whole story behind Anathor, or, more specifically, Anathor’s expulsion from Olag’s court. It, therefore, took me nearly a week of tedious cross-analysis and historical backtracking to procure the complete history. It seems that Anathor was involved in experimentation with mystic or magical forces which Olag could not accept or comprehend. His departure was not the expulsion of a counselor fallen from favour, but rather the banishment of a feared “warlock.”

I am not certain at what point I was enchanted by the mystery and intriguing implications of my study. I only know that, once finished with it, my resolve to journey to Norway to conduct my own research on site was adamant. I hurriedly contacted my friends Doctors Kierkegard Brozney and Henreich Dovensh and, having told them of my findings, asked them to travel from their respective countries to meet me at the closed site. They agreed to the importance of further investigation—Henreich especially—and we arranged for Kierkegard to travel from Poland to meet Henreich and myself there in ten days, on May 22. I, myself, traveled then to West Germany to join forces with Dr. Dovensh. Together, we journeyed by train, auto, and foot until at last, on May 23, we stood on a bluff locked in perpetual conflict with the Arctic Sea and overlooked Ardurst Castle.

The weathered keep stood upon a craggy, broken cliff nestled in a wide, south-facing notch. My heart leapt immediately; the cracked, brown photos from the Forties’ dig had done little to exhibit the exquisite architecture and ingenious design of the fortress. The rock notch’s north wall defended the rear of the castle, thus explaining the lack of defensive emphasis back there, while the steepness of the slope leading up to the fore provided certain security from the rush of hordes. Viewing this awesome spectacle, I could little comprehend the archaeological evidence I had read, as well as obvious visual evidence, that the place had been besieged and over-run.

“I wonder at the magnitude of the army which brought down that place,” I commented to my German companion as we descended down to the ridge joining our bluff with the cliffs. He did not immediately reply, though, as he was lost in distant thoughts, his gaze locked upon the keep. I knew not to bother him further, for the many years of friendship we shared taught me to recognize this, his far-staring, glassy scrutiny. You see, Dr. Henreich Dovensh was, aside from being a noted Euro-Slavic historian, a great sage in arcane matters. He exhibited unparalleled prowess in parapsychological and paranormal comprehension and ability. You may scoff… but I knew him. He was gifted in ways of which the average man merely dreams. It was for this reason that I had invited him to join us, considering the curious facts of Anathor’s past. I felt he might notice evidence of the mystical before a historian or a linguist.

In time, we reached the base of the slope which vaulted up to the bailey and moat of the structure. From this nearer vantage, the cracks rending the exterior walls resembled great slashes in the hard stone.

“Those cracks, there, Henreich… Something is strange about them.”

My friend returned from his mental “wanderings” and looked towards me with a curious expression on his face.

“Why do you say that?”

“Well,” I replied, “if the place was besieged as the NAC dig supposedly revealed, wouldn’t the cracks cleave inward?”

“That is your field, friend. I could not say.”

“Yes… yes…. Well, these cracks appear to yield outward, and directly from the ground. How could this be? Or, rather, how could this have gone unmentioned by the NAC?”

“Why don’t we head up and check it out ourselves? I’m anxious to see Kierkegard, anyway.”

We began the wearisome trudge up the rise, our feet skittering and sliding out from beneath us with each step. Before too long, we gained the top and stood beneath the tall, dark, basalt walls and parapets. Even in the failing light of coming evening, the walls’ rifts revealed themselves to be protruding both out and inward and beginning at ground level.

“If I did not know better,” I proclaimed, “I would swear that these cracks were seismic in origin.”

“What, precisely, is your ‘better’ knowledge? Forty year old reports from rushed Norwegian geologists?”

The truth of Donvensh’s statements was, as usual, incorrigible. The NAC team had been hard-pressed to wrap up the dig, though for what reason, no text could say.

“But no fault lines lie along this coast.”

“At least, no tectonic fault lines…,” Henreich replied cryptically before lapsing into another trance-like silence. Shrugging, I reached into my pack for a lamp, but found I did need it. A yellow glow slipped around the edge of the fallen front gate to bathe the two of us in light.

“Always a day late, Richard. Never a pound short, though, eh?”

The glare of the lamp flashed into my eyes, blinding me, though I needed no vision to recognize the man behind it.

“Kierkegard!” I cried, striding toward him. “I must beg your apology, noble Pole, for I fear that our rental gave us a bit of trouble in Grathnow. We would have—”

“Offer no excuse, mate,” he interrupted, “the spare day has not been an idle one for me! I’ve something quite interesting to show you, come morning. For now, though, enter, enter. I’ve set up camp in the courtyard; some bean stew is burning as we speak.” He ushered me past the gate, then turned back to Henreich, who was staring, apparently unseeing, at the ground before the walls. “You also, old friend. Leave your augury to come sit by the stove. I’ve need of your special advice this evening.”

Starting as one frightened out of a deep sleep by a nightmare’s terror, Henreich looked, wide-eyed, at Brozney.

“Uh, yes… of… of course,” he answered. Then, a smile smoothed his previously drawn and worried visage. “Although I worry about your infamous bean stew.”

Later, reclining comfortably about a small fire and enjoying the aftertaste of the heavy dinner, our talk turned from the cheerful banter of reunited friends to the solemn discussion of professionals.

“Kierkegard, tell me of your findings,” I opened. “Are they anything new?”

“‘Are they anything new?’ Hah! You’d better believe they’re new. I don’t know how the NACs missed it—maybe they were too busy poking about for bright gold or antique blade—but at the rear of the main tower,” he pointed over his shoulder to the black cylinder jutting up against the dim sky, “I noticed some interesting runes written in an old Norwegian script.”

“What did they say?” asked Henreich, a curious glint in his eye.

“Essentially they were the equivalent of an ‘Authorized Personnel Only’ sign. What was so confusing about them was that they rested over a mound of rubble: fallen masonry from higher up the tower. Anyway, I spent all of today moving it out, and you’ll never guess what I found.”

A stillness had crept over the courtyard; not even the once-ceaseless howl of the offshore wind echoed through the area. I shifted uncomfortably, wanting the Pole to continue his narrative, yet inexplicably afraid to break the silence to encourage him. The others seemed to be equally affected by the foreboding quiet, and it was only after a long moment that Kierkegard resumed, in a hushed murmur, his story.

“There is a doorway, still locked, there. I’ll need your expertise to get it open,” he said, looking to me. The strange dread again brushed my heart. I shrank away, inside, from the request.

Then, feeling quite silly at being spooked by the Pole, I loudly proclaimed, “Certainly, certainly! We tackle it first thing in the morning.” I then, with much bluster and pomp, commenced curling up in my sleeping bag. “Good night, lads!” I said, looking at each. Kierkegard smiled and nodded, but when I looked to Henreich, I met only that piercing gaze of his, the one that feels like it is boring into one’s very soul. I glanced away after being momentarily transfixed by the depth of his eyes, the purity of their blue. “G’night, Dr. Dovensh,” I mumbled.

“Try to sleep well, Richard,” he whispered.

For a time, the camp was quiet; then, comfortingly, the wind’s cry returned, filling the dark vessel of silence. The other two spoke softly for a bit about the evolution of the dialect used in this area of Norway, but after a brief, pensive lull in the discussion, Kierkegard skipped to a different subject.

“You know something of the nature of dreams, don’t you?” he asked Henreich.

“Something about some types of dreams, though I don’t want to hear the sordid details of your latest REM romance.”

The Polish linguist laughed hollowly; it failed in the air, dropping to a nervous chuckle and finally dying in a long pause. “No… no, it’s nothing that… good, I fear. You see, Henri, I had a pretty bad… uh, I guess, nightmare last night.”

“Why do you ‘guess’ it was a nightmare?”

“It seemed so… real… or surreal. It was simply unlike any dream I’ve had in my life. The intensity….”

There was a long pause during which, though my back was to the men and the fire, I was certain that Kierkegard was under one of the Guru’s piercing stares.

“What happened?” the German eventually muttered.

“Well, it’s not quite clear to me. All that I remember is terror… and pain… searing, frigid pain. And I couldn’t wake up, Henri! I was… trapped… doomed. I was helpless.”

Throughout this discourse, Kierkegard’s voice had developed a tremble, and the closing “helpless” came out as a squeak, his voice cracking. A thrill ran down my spine; I empathized with the Pole; I chilled at the imagining of anything which could so shake the unflappable, ever-jovial Brozney.

I heard then a rustle from where Henreich sat and heard him say, in a intoned, uninflected voice, “It is no more; it is not real. Sleep.”

I softly rolled over to see him leaning towards Kierkegard. His right arm was outstretched, the fingertips of its hand rested lightly on the Pole’s forehead. Beneath them, Kierkegard’s eyelids had begun to droop and, within seconds, he slumped slowly sideways and lay still on his blanket. Henreich covered him, then laid down himself and, humming his mantra softly in his chest, he drifted off.

I awoke the next morning in shadow, though bright blue sky smiled over the walls. The day was no more than an hour old, meaning I had slept but six or seven hours. I, nonetheless, felt curiously refreshed—as if rousing from one of those Sunday twelve-hour sleeps—and, though I remembered the previous night’s talk, I could hearken no dream to the forefront of my mind.

Henreich was still in the same position in which he had fallen asleep, but his eyes were now open and his light gaze rested upon my rising form. The air of mystery from the previous evening was burned away like the moors’ fog, and I asked him, jokingly, about his “magic trick.”

He looked thoughtfully at me for a heartbeat or three, then asked, “Why don’t you ask Broz about that?”

I shook the snoring Pole out of his slumber, greeting him to the new day. He was slow to awaken, but once he did, his eyes shone brightly and a grand, silly smile bloomed on his face.

“Ingred came to me last night. Wonderful as ever, she was.”

Laughing, we began preparing breakfast. The darkness, the silence, and their numbing grip fled to catch their departed mother, Night.

We cooked and ate quickly, and while we were busy cleaning up the dirties, I ventured a suggestion.

“Well, what say we do a survey of the rear courtyard and towers; try to find something of interest?”

Henreich looked at me and said, “No, I think we need to look into Kierkegard’s door.”

To this day, I know not if I had forgotten about the discovery or had merely hidden it from myself. A brief revulsion at its mention, though, stirred my breakfast. Yet the sun shone now, warm upon my bald, scientific head; I cheerfully consented, and the three of us shouldered our daypacks and headed for the high wall dividing the fore and rear courtyards.

The back yard was a far worse sight to behold than the one in which we camped. Much more evidence of the raiders’ destruction was revealed by stone piles and, strangely enough, jagged crevices which broke the dirt and rock ground into four islands. The northeast tower was no more; strife and time had reduced it to boulder, rubble, and dust.

Kierkegard led us around the curve of the center tower to a large stone door recessed into the corner where the tower and east wall met.

“Here it is,” the linguist said. “Notice the writing above it? Though the message is clear enough—to one who understands it, of course—the etching seems a bit extravagant, eh? I suppose its merely the engraver’s flourish.”

“I don’t think so, Doctor,” said Henreich. His face was chiseled into stern concentration, an unnerving duplicate of the classical mask of Banquo’s ghost in theatre. He reached up to trace the swirls of the rune, but sharply retracted his hand upon touching them. “No, no. Most definitely something more. I think we should proceed with extreme caution, gentlemen. These words do not offer a shallow warning.”

“Well, whatever you think is best, Herr Doktor,” I replied, feeling more than a little exasperated by his theatrics over something so straight-forward. I stepped up to examine the lock and hinges of the portal. “It opens out, so I anticipate stairs beyond. The lock is quite amazingly preserved; must be something in the air.”

“Right, salt…,” the German mumbled with the tone I knew he reserved for children and “non-believers.”

Undaunted, though resentful of his condescension, I reached into my bag for a lockpick and screwdriver. After about fifteen minutes of fruitless struggle with the lock, I cast down the pick in disgust and, proclaiming the lock’s tumblers to be rusted, I dug into my pack for a chisel and mallet. A sigh escaped Henreich’s lips, and with an effort I suppressed the urge to lay into him and his mystical mumbo-jumbo. After a few moments of chipping at the doorjamb, I was able to break out the bolt’s slot. It was with a smug smile of success that I turned away from the effectively unlocked door to face the two men.

Henreich’s face clouded upon seeing my smile, and Kierkegard seemed suddenly quite interested in a bit of mortar protruding from the wall.

“After you, O Cautious One,” I sniggered. The German stepped up to the door and, grasping its ring, hauled it wide.

The first thing which I noticed was the stench that billowed out of the dark beyond the portal. Its fetid talons snatched out at the pit of my stomach, twisting and clawing my gut without remorse. I remember Dovensh retching and doubling over, crying out something about death. The fear which had but visited me the previous night assumed residence in my heart; and there was a moment where, had my reason not been my master, I would have turned and ran the entire route back to London.

Covering my nose with a kerchief, I stepped up abreast of Henreich and peered down into the gloom. For down it was, because beyond the thick oaken door was a spiral staircase boring into the rocky ground. The air in the stairway carried a cold moisture which, even under the late spring sun, clung uncomfortably to my skin and felt as if Death himself had wrapped his heavy cloak about me. Brozney drew an electric torch from his pack and stepped around us to shine it on the stone steps. They were smoothly chiseled, polished, and surprisingly clean.

“Hmmm, friends,” said Kierkegard. “Shall we descend?”

No was whole-heartedly my vote, but I feared embarrassment more than the unknown, so I nodded quickly. Henreich’s response was to step through the door and begin walking softly downward. Brozney followed, and I took the rear, feeling quite reluctant to leave the sun’s shining gaze for the lamp’s hazy glow.

The stairs twisted down for many steps, soon passing the line of permafrost and still winding towards Hell. Part of my mind tried to keep count of the stairs—for the record—but the building reek of decay and increasing chill smothered my attention. Each step down, I could feel, brought me closer to something unspeakable. I was about to suggest abandoning the whole thing when I noticed the echo of our steps swell and saw Dovensh step onto a level floor. I reached his side, and in the dim yellow light, I saw the chamber into which we had arrived.

It was but a short room—almost a hall—running away from the stair’s exit and ending, thirty feet away, in the most amazing set of doors which I had ever seen.

The double doors stood nearly eight feet high and seemed to be made of solid, polished steel. A brass ring was set in the center of each door, and intricate engravings coiled out from their fastenings like the serpents of Medusa’s hair. Most of the etchings appeared to be just decoration, yet some consisted of what obviously were runes. It was these features that made up the doors’ creation; more still made up their present form. Along the seam of the steel slabs there was a dried line of red wax, completely covering it. Furthermore, scrawled runes blazed in some kind of yellow paint on each door. My gaze drank in the scene of these doors in an instant then traveled right with the beam of Brozney’s torch to fall upon the cause of the room’s stench. Lying prostrate against the right wall was the remains of a man, wrapped in a purple and white robe. Henreich strode up to the body and rolled it over to expose the face.

The face was exposed… twice. First when Donvensh turned it; the second time when the head, which separated from the body, complete one roll across the floor.

Kierkegard dropped to his knees, tears dampenning his eyelids, and began mumbling some Polish prayer. Henreich stared at the corpse for a moment; I stared at him. He looked to me, a frightening, stern expression on his face. He then turned to the kneeling Brozney, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Come, Kierkegaard, can you weep so for such an ancient death?”

Looking up with shining eyes, the Pole replied, “When unconsecrated, yes!” He cast his gaze downward again, and shrouded it with respectful eyelids. He continued his prayer, shifting at one point to Latin. I was recovering from the gruesome shock by this point; and though none too steady yet, I was intrigued by the massive doors and what untouched mysteries they so stolidly interred.

“Hey, so what have we here… other than preserved organic material? No offense Broz.”

I stepped up to the wanly shimmerring brass and picked at a hardenned rivulet of wax.

A slight shock stung my fingertip just as Dovensch bellowed, “STOP THAT NOW, RICHARD STRAFFBORN!”

I froze with surprise, whether at the shock—which I presumed to be static—or at Henreich’s harsh words, I am not sure. Then I bristled.

“Just who are you to order me around, Doktor Dovensch?” I snapped, turning on my heels.

“The one you invited to advise you on paranormal phenomena, Doctor Straffborn,” he replied calmly, if a bit coldly. “That wax is a material focus for a psionic seal on this door. You distub it and those yellow wards on the doors’ faces will have their way with your body and leave it a little, smouldering cinder slowly cooling and dampenning on this chamber floor.”

The chamber suddenly seemed quite cloistering, stifling.

“Conversely,” he continued, “if you disturb said wards, the seal will flare, heat, and weld these doors permanently closed, probably also impacting your body and ours in much the way the wards would, only incidentally.” He must have seen my apprehension, for a long, quiet, low laugh echoed from his broad chest. He was not, however, smiling.

“Well,” I retorted weakly, “I don’t know if I believe all that, Henreich. I invited you here for your knowledge of folklore”—I was lying now to save face—”but, just in case you’re right….” I stepped to one side to let Dovensch through to further inspect his hoodoo.

He peered closely, his nose inches from the wax, eyes squinting tightly. I realized, after a moment, that he had shut his eyes. He hummed quietly to himself, a rhythmic throb that seemed to amplify, though I knew it did not. It got warmer… from our body heat, no doubt.

Suddenly, Henreich stood, knuckled his eyes and behind his temples, stretched, then turned to me and said, “You may remove the wax now and begin working on the locks on the door. I’m going to get some air.” He stepped over to Brozney, who all the while had been watching the two of us as if we were playing tennis. “If you would like to come along, Kierkegaard, bring the remains as well and I will assist in their burial once I’ve rested a bit.”

Brozney nodded after glancing red-eyed at me. He seemed to be somehow apprehensive of me, perhaps because of my outburst, my strangled outburst….

To quell this, I cried, “I’ll be up once the doors are unlocked, lads! We’ll all relax a bit and have a bite, eh?” I heard the quiver in my voice, and was embarrassed.

But my collegues looked back at the stair bottom and smiled calmly at me, nodding slightly.

“Yes, Richard,” said Brozney. “But don’t be too long, alright. This place is doing more than ‘preserve organic matter.'”

Their light swam around the stairs’ centerpost, faded to brown shadows. The echo of their footsteps blended with the occassional drip of white damp, then died.

. [Work In Progress]

Dr. Richard Straffborn

Witnessed by,
David Artman