Owls & Ashes
Twelfth Movement: Melodramma Stringendo
After a few more nights of indecision, Sascha finally broke down and brought his new childe to Bishop Esteban, confessing almost everything that had happened of late (and yet, still managing to keep the knowledge of the Sixth somewhat hidden). His own new childe was likewise cross-examined by the Bishop, through both mundane means and Theban sorcery, and both of them kept overday while the Bishop decided what to do with them, leaving a copy of a passage for Sascha to read: the Writ of Golgotha.
Mila continued her search for a new haven and more investment opportunities for herself, while Jan and Violet made a visit to Livia at the Crimson Sky club, where they offered the cobbled-together summoning ritual that the Sixth had given them to draw the attention of
its kin. The Circle priestess was intensely interested in the unusual knowledge, but when she sought to press and then threaten the two younger Kindred about its origins, she was firmly rebuffed by Jan, who found himself on the edge of frenzy when his wife was harassed by the Daeva. The two left with Kerensky’s journals, with Livia left shaken by Jan’s Predatory Aura in their wake.
The next night, Sascha and Jolene were taken before the Prince, and warned beforehand by Bishop Esteban to let him do the talking. However, during a length interrogation, Sascha found himself experiencing the same transient, fragmentary hallucinations that he and the rest of the coterie had noticed from time to time, and decided to call attention to it. Instead of being able to subtly draw out the Strix, Esteban was forced to confront it directly in the room before the Prince and his courtiers, although it turned out not to be the Prince after all, but Samuel Taylor, the Herald. It managed to dispatch multiple ghoul security, and it took Sascha and Jolene’s assistance to bring it down, destroying it (instead of capturing it as the Sixth demanded)—though not before its host was rendered torpid and badly wounded, and not before its shrieking cries, contained as they were in the room, left Sascha badly affected, snappish and on the edge of frenzy.
In light of the service done to the city in removing a dangerous, alien spy and corruptor in their midst, the Prince commuted the more serious sentence, but not entirely: Sascha was stripped of his prestige and his ownership of Bondage-A-Go-Go, and both he and Jolene forced to submit to an Oath of Penance, tithing their blood to the Prince just as the Harpy Miles Barton had been punished for his transgressions. Sascha did, however, notice that this was something that seemingly both displeased and pleased the Bishop to witness it being done. In light of these events, the message went out to report on O’Neill’s location if he were to be spotted, but not to engage with him.
In the meantime, Sacha and Jolene, the most experienced in handling affairs at O’Neill’s club, were ordered to take care of the area until such time as a suitable replacement could be appointed. The two returned, and Sascha gave into his urge to feed, though not without nearly being taunted into a frenzy in the open by his prey, who mistook his attempts at hunting as a seduction aimed at the wrong party. After nearly beating the violent homophobe unconscious in full view of the clubgoers in a Vigor-boosted rage, both he and his victim were summarily ejected by Jolene, who worked to smooth matters over.
The next night, as the various members of the Coterie went about their business in San Francisco, they all felt something that affected their Blood Sympathy with one another and their clanmates. Mila, the most gifted and especially aware, led the way under her mentor Sir Pryor’s orders, finally stumbling across a grisly scene in the woods of the Presidio: an altar constructed by the Circle for some special purpose, surrounded by the torn bodies of several humans and ghouls . . . and those of Kindred, or their ashen remnants.
Li Nguyen was the only one still conscious, albeit missing his legs and one arm, while Livia was found impaled upon a thick tree branch, having been badly battered, fed upon, and hurled aside; likewise, several revenants had rampaged through the area, and even a few remained that had to be put down by the Coterie and arriving security team from the Prince. Mila was able to discover what had happened that evening through the Spirit’s Touch, and in her mind’s eye, beheld a horrific scene of sacrifice led by Livia.
The massive amount of blood and Vitae spilled upon the altar had attracted the attention of the Strix that was riding O’Neill, and she had attempted to bargain, then harangue the entity for more knowledge, mistaking it for the author of the summoning she had been given. It had flown into a rage, turned the forest into a shadowy labyrinth, and set about dispatching several members of the circle; the various mortals it had drained had all arisen as revenants, mindless and violent, and it had taken several of them in its wake, while still leaving many to rampage across the city.