Vampire: the Requiem – Promise of Deceit (Session #56)

Participating Players
Storyteller – Kai
Pierre Bouchard – Freddie
Shane Power – Michael
Vashti Meshcheryakova – Leonie

Date played
15 March 2022

Date in-game
Saturday, 4 March 2006, 17:55 – Sunday, 5 March 2006, 23:10

The next night proves uneventful, so when Shane rises in his bookstore basement on Sunday evening, he goes over the things he needs to do. One of the things that are still on his plate is getting the book from the New York Public Library for Maxine. There is just one problem — how to go about this? He doesn’t have any way of accessing the library on his own during the night, which makes it difficult to actually get inside. Should he break in maybe? Or hire someone to do it for him? He also recalls that Pierre called someone named Liliane when they wanted to enter the library at night, and there is probably only one Liliane among the Kindred of New York, so maybe he should just call her? That’s what Pierre did after all, and it worked out quite well. Still, that’s only step one, because step two is getting away with the book. If she can get him into the library though, then she can probably also get him into the special collection. And while she most likely wouldn’t be pleased with him stealing a book… would she even notice? If he puts another book in the spot he took the one that Maxine wants from, then the theft would probably go unnoticed for at least several months, and might even be written off as the book having simply been misplaced. 

„Yeah, that might work,“ he says to himself with a light smile on his face. „So… step one would be finding out who this Liliane person is, and whether or not she grants me access…“

Grabbing his jacket from the chair, he heads out and makes his way over to the Carthian territory.


After rising from her daytime slumber on this Sunday evening, Vashti decides to give Gene a call. The phone rings four times… five times… six times… and then someone finally takes the call. „Yes?“

„Hi Gene, it’s Vashti. Am I disturbing you?“

„It’s still fairly early, so, yes, slightly, but since I’m on the phone now anyway, might as well just chat with you. What is it?“

„Just wanted to give you a heads-up that I’m actively working on getting into the Carthians.“

„Well, I’m glad to hear it. I hope the Prince is not asking too much of you?“

She shrugs: „Well, I’m not sure what ‚too much’ is… let’s say, the first task seemed impossible, and somehow turned out to be incredibly easy! So, I’m not trusting it.“

„Yes, I think you should be worried.“

„Anything specifically?“

„No, just a general word of warning.“

„I see,” she nods. „Well, I have no chance but to go through with this.“


„So, yeah, we’ll see how that ends.“

„Keeping my fingers crossed,“ the Carthian curtly replies.

„Say, have you seen Steve lately? Is he his usual firebrand self, or is he keeping a lower profile?“

„Can’t say I have, but, from what I know of him, I don’t think he has adjusted his attitude at all.“

„So he’ll be planning something?“

„Make of that what you will.“

„So he’s not patient?“


„Oh, I… no, wait, never mind,“ she stammers, „I’ll need someone else for that. I’ll keep you up to date and hope to have more good news soon.“

„Do that.“ By now, Gene sounds like he couldn’t care less.

„If you want, that is! I mean, if you want me to keep you updated…“

„No, no, it’s fine.“

„Okay, talk to you soon then.“ She hangs up and then sighs — in her opinion, the Carthian didn’t sound overly interested in hearing about her progress.


When Pierre rises on Sunday evening, he can immediately feel the pangs of hunger, telling him that he really needs to feed. After taking a quick shower and getting dressed, he puts the boiler suit he bought in a backpack and heads to the Barrens. As he’s walking to the pedestrian bridge that leads to Randalls and Wards Island, his smartphone rings — it’s Vashti. With a slight sigh he takes the calls: „Hi Vashti, what’s up?“

„Hi Pierre… Bouchard… whatever. Sorry. Uhm… I have a question for you. You have some time?“

„Yeah, well, make it quick, and I’ll see what I can do.“

„What do you know about my dad and his wife, from what I’ve told you so far?“

„Very little,“ he replies, slightly confused. „I know you have a dad, and he’s married, that’s about it.“

„Yeah, okay, well… he’s married to what turns out to be an FBI cop.“

„I see…“

„Who got him now into prison!“

Now the Mekhet raises an eyebrow — why is Vashti’s father in prison? „Maybe you should explain in detail.“


„Well, I assume you ring me up for either advice or for help with something, so…“

„I need someone to keep an eye on her.“


„On my stepmother,“ the Nosferatu snarls. „At the moment, she is staying at a hotel in Manhattan, and I need someone to keep an eye on her. And since you still owe me, let’s say it helps towards paying off that debt.“

Pierre frowns: „What do I still owe you for?“

„Well, the big one fell through, so that’s one still up in my book!“

„What favor fell through?“

„Look, I had to get the briefcase myself,“ the Nosferatu points out. „No thanks to you, okay?“

„Ah, okay. Well, then that has all resolved itself, hasn’t it?“

„Yeah, but I still need something! And this is part of it! Look, if it helps, I’ll help you out at some point too, okay?“

„Then we can work,“ he agrees.

„Okay, then, please, keep an eye on her… a close eye…“

„How long for?“

„As long as she stays in New York,“ she shrugs. „Which won’t be long, I think. But if she decides to skip town, I’d like to know, because I don’t want her to skip town!“

„That could be quite some time, Vashti!“

„I don’t think so, because she’s no longer tied to New York.“

„Well, I can only keep an eye on her for so long,“ Pierre points out.

„We’ll see how long is needed. We don’t know yet.“

„Just send me the address of the hotel, and I’ll see what I can do.“

„Okay, will do. Thanks, Bouchard.“

„See you later, Vashti. And, remember, a favor for a favor.“

„Eh, this is just a mino…“ She doesn’t get to finish the sentence though, because he ends the call, just as she’s saying that.


It takes Shane almost an hour to get from Williamsburg over to Harlem, meaning that it is shortly after seven when he arrives outside the ‚Pool on the Hill’ — he probably shouldn’t have gone by car, because he gets caught right in the tail end of rush hour. The pool bar is still fairly empty this early in the evening — he recognizes two people from the Carthian meeting, but other than these two there are mostly kine present, it seems. Sauntering up to one of the Kindred, he recognizes Wassili, who appears to be reading some kind of printout.

„Evening,“ Shane says. „May I join you?“

The man looks up from his papers: „Ah, Shane! Yeah, sure, have a seat.“ He pushes the printed-out pages together into one neat pile and puts them away.

„What are you reading?“

„Nothing, just… nothing.“ With the way, the older Carthian says this, the Daeva is pretty certain that it’s not nothing.

„Doesn’t sound like nothing, but… your business, not mine.“

„Yeah.“ Wassili sighs. „So, what’s up? What can I do for you?“

„Well… since I’m new to the club, so to speak, is there anything I should know about… well, everything?“ He makes an all-encompassing gesture. „This?“

„Well… you’ve seen the situation, right?“

„It’s a mess.“

„Yes, it is. There are three factions within the Movement basically, and it’s… well, currently, we feel, or at least, I feel that there is some divide and conquer going on. Someone from the outside is playing all three of the factions in an attempt to keep us down.“

Shane frowns: „Wait, from the outside?“

„I’m sure you’ve heard talks about… well, that we should ask for a bigger share of the territory in New York. I mean, it’s what the Radicals are on about constantly.“

„Yeah, I did.“

„Okay. So… to some extent, that demand is actually quite reasonable,“ the older Carthian explains. „We should have a bigger share of the territory, simply because we are the biggest covenant in this city. You’ve seen our numbers at the meeting.“

„Yeah, they are substantial, comparatively!“

„Exactly. So there is no conceivable reason why we should be stuck in Harlem and some territory over on Staten Island, right? We’ve been handed the scraps! I mean, okay, Harlem is not scraps, but Staten Island is! There’s just not that much there that we as Kindred find appealing or can work with! So we are confined to these two areas, and if you want to get a decent Haven and some decent feeding territory, then you are stuck with just Harlem. So, yes, we should be getting a bigger share!” Wassili’s voice has been getting a bit louder by now. „Parts of Brooklyn maybe, you know, maybe the old Prince’s territory! I mean, why not? Why not grant us that?“

„Power play,“ the Daeva suggests.

„Yeah, probably. So some of the more moderate members of the Movement have been making demands. You know, go to the new Prince and ask him if, under this new regime, we were going to get a bigger territory.“


„Well, we’ve basically been put on hold. Told to wait. You know, been told that he needs to consolidate his new regime first, and then we’ll see. And now this starts happening! ND is suddenly acting up like he owns the place! The Radicals have always been like this, but now we suddenly have a third faction that is acting up, and that’s new! There have always been gangs that were part of the Carthians… I mean, it’s a bit of a Kindred habit, but never like this! They have never been in it only for themselves, they were always part of the bigger Carthian Movement. And, yeah, of course, everyone tries to use the Movement to further their own ends, but… this… no, something like this hasn’t happened before. And that’s worrying. And this is why this feels like someone is feeding ND’s ambitions.“


„And that’s what I’m worried about. If we can’t even make up our minds during our own meetings anymore, then how are we supposed to speak with a unified voice when we make demands of the Prince?“

„True,“ Shane nods. „Stand together, fall divided?“

„Yeah, something like that. I mean, we’re not falling…“


„Yeah, yet. But with this…? Nah, with this, we will fall eventually. If this truly is the state the Movement is in currently, then the Prince has every right to tell us that he doesn’t even know who to talk to. Who is speaking for the Movement currently? The Prince could simply claim that he can’t be sure he’s speaking with the right spokesperson, so he could demand that we make up our minds first, and only come back once we have decided what we actually want. And I’m sure that Ludwig, who, and I will readily admit that, is a very smart man, will say just that. And that’s why I’m thinking that he is actually fueling this dumpster fire. Maybe not directly, but I’m sure that the Invictus are involved in this on some level.“

„And if it’s not the Prince himself, then it’s someone else who has to gain something from it.“

„Could be Lana,“ Wassili remarks.

„Could be Lana, yes.“

„Could be the Sheriff, could be one of the Primogen. I mean… the Don has been trying to expand his territory and take back Harlem for decades.“

The Daeva raises an eyebrow: „Has he now?“

„Harlem used to be his.“

„Oh! Okay?“

„Harlem was one of the Don’s territories until a few decades ago.“

„Oh, I didn’t know that,“ Shane calls, still quite surprised. „How did he lose it?“

„Must’ve been after the downfall of the big Italian families. There was a time when the Italians wielded incredible power in New York. You know the story, you’ve seen the ‚The Godfather‘, and all that, right?“

„I did, yeah.“

„And, at some point, their power base started crumbling away, and that’s when the Don’s sway over the mortal Italian families started to wane, and his territory fell apart. Shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s not too happy with that, and he’s trying to regain what he once had. He has never outright said as much, but if I was in his place, I’d know what I’d want.“

„Yeah, if I learned one thing it’s that our kind tends to hold a grudge.“

„Oh, yes!“ Wassili laughs. „And there were Carthian’s involved in his downfall at that time.“

„Oh, okay, that makes things worse, I guess!“ Then something occurs to the Daeva. „Wait, there were Carthians involved back then? Are they still around?“

„Sure, at least some of them.“ The older Carthian sighs. „Now, here’s something that the Movement would like to keep under tight wraps: for quite a few people, the Movement is just a transitory covenant. You have lots of Kindred that join the covenant shortly after they’ve been Embraced, when they’re still fledglings, but once they reach a certain age, they leave the covenant and join something else.“

Shane frowns: „Is that even possible? I mean…“

„Why not? Of course it is. I mean, what’s the point in forcing someone to stay who doesn’t want to be a member anymore? If the Movement wants to be true to its ideals… you know, freedom of choice, democracy, and all that, then you have to have the freedom to leave at any time as well. And we adhere to that. If you don’t like the Movement any longer, then you can go.“

„Makes sense.“

„Of course you may not be accepted back in, if you don’t like your new covenant either, but if you don’t like it here, then you can leave, it’s your choice. And, in fact, there are lots of people that are doing just that. Members that have stuck with the Movement for thirty or forty years, maybe even fifty years… but that’s the reason why we have so few Ancillae or Elders amongst our ranks. They are simply not interested in joining what they think of as kindergarten.“

„Yeah, I can see that.“

„There are people that think that the Movement is spinning its wheels and that staying won’t get them anywhere.“

The Daeva nods: „I mean, can you blame them? I see the point.“

„Yeah, I know.“

„Because the way you say it, people join when they are young and full of ideas and ideals, and when they essentially get smoothed over and their edges torn off by harsh realities, when their enthusiasm dies down…”

„Yeah, then they decide that maybe the grass is greener on the other side, and they’ll get more out of joining another covenant.“

„Well, not necessarily the grass is greener, but ambition gets them.“

„Indeed. And that’s the situation the Movement finds itself in. So, yeah, there are people around that were members of the Movement back then, but the problem is that most of them are no longer members of the covenant now. You could probably ask Midori, she was around back then already, and she stuck with the Movement, as has Gene.“

„Man, this really is a messy situation!“

„Yeah, I know.“ Wassili leans back. „So did you just come by to discuss the current state of the Movement?“

„Not necessarily. I mean, it gets awful lonely outside, doesn’t it? So… kinda wanted some company.“

„I get that. Do you plan on moving into the territory at some point? I mean… you can make your Haven here, without paying tribute to anyone else.“

„Here as in…?“

„In Harlem, or on Staten Island, if that’s what you prefer. Any Carthian has the right to make their Haven anywhere in Carthian territory.“

„Right. But what exactly does that entail though?“

„What do you mean?“

Shane sighs. „Well, first I lived with my sire, and then… well, basically, at the moment I’m trespassing.“

„Well, just rent an apartment. Buy a house. Do whatever you want, it’s up to you. You can make your Haven anywhere in Carthian territory, and you can feed anywhere in the territory as well. Those are the rights you have as a Carthian.“

„Any advice on how to achieve that when I… when I plan on ending my mortal existence?“

„What do you mean, ending your mortal existence?” Wassili gives him a confused look. „You wanna stage your own death?“

„Technically, yeah. I mean, technically, I’m still alive, so…“

„Arrange for a car crash, or some kind of accident. Get shot. Simply disappear.“

„I mean, after,“ the Daeva calls. „Because after my supposed death, I’ll be out of money!“

„Well, buy a fake ID. Or get some pawn to buy the apartment that you want for you. You know, a straw man. There are lots of people out there who are willing to do something like that, and all they want is a bit of money here and there. Or ghoul someone.“

„Again, there’s the money bit!“

With a sigh, the older Carthian remarks: „It always comes down to the money, doesn’t it?“

„It does. It kinda does.“

„So… do you need money?“

„Not right now, but… eventually, I guess.“

„Listen, there’s Carthians that own apartment blocks in Harlem. You can ask them, if you can rent something there. It’s a convenient source of income for them, and they might not ask you for money, but for favors instead. If you decide to rent something there, maybe just don’t feed on the tenants.“

„Yeah, that would be bad, I get that!“

„People can become very protective when it comes to that.“

„Especially if you mess up,“ Shane nods.

„Yep. But just ask around. I know that Gene owns not one but two apartment blocks.“

„Okay… that’s not so bad.“

„Maybe he’s willing to rent out an apartment to you. Just ask him.“

„It’s worth looking into, yes. Any advice on… finding a job after…“

The older Carthian raises an eyebrow: „A job? You wanna work nine to five?!“

„No! That’s why I’m asking! Because if I want to rent something, then I need to have money again! And in order to have money, I have to have something where I can get money from! Hence, a job, right? Or am I still thinking like a mortal here?“

„Yes, you are.“


„Listen, do you seriously think, these hands,“ Wassili raises both hands in the air, „have done any manual labor over the past twenty-five years?“

„The way you set up that question, I’d say no.“

„Indeed, they haven’t. Some people set up bars or clubs. Evgeni is one example, with his…,“ he grimaces, „well, let’s not talk about that. It’s a shitty place, it’s just sex, drugs, and booze, but it brings in a lot of money for him. And I man, a lot of money, every fucking night. So you could try something like that. This place here,“ he makes a sweeping gesture, „it’s owned by a Carthian. She doesn’t need to run this place herself, and she doesn’t need it to bring in any money, it’s just because she likes it. She likes having a bar where people come to and hang out. Other Kindred run investment companies, or shipping companies. There are smuggling operations, drug trafficking rings, criminal operations! The Don still pretends that he is a mobster from the 1920s. And you know what? It brings in money. Shitloads of money. When it comes to money, the Don is one of the richest people in New York, and that means he’s also one of the most influential. But, in the end, it’s up to you. I mean, take me for example. I have a few operations going, a bit of money in stocks based on some advice I got from a friend who told me that I should invest in fruits. And, since then, Apple Computers really took off. I don’t have to work. But I can, if I feel like it. And so can you. There are other people around that are doing something similar, investing in stocks. There was a Kindred some time ago, very smart, she knew a lot about the stock market, a financial genius. She had been an investment banker, and her advice… it was worth her weight in gold.“

Pensively, Shane says: „Okay… I see…“

„You know, and if you’re really in dire financial straits, just ask someone to lend you some money, get some solid advice on which companies to invest in, and then watch it take off. And we can be in it for the long run.“

„Yeah, obviously. Close to the chest, playing it safe.“

„Yeah, well, if the market plummets, you’ll just sit it out.“

„Makes sense. Yeah, makes sense… hadn’t thought of that!“

„Question is, will it make you feel good? Well, only you know the answer to that question.“

With a sigh, the Daeva says: „Yeah, well, I don’t know. I used to run a bookstore, you know?“


„Yeah, but… kinda hard to run a bookstore now, isn’t it?“

„Why? Get someone to sit behind the counter during the daylight hours. Problem solved. Hire someone, maybe two or three people. Don’t hire people that you know, you don’t want friends to work for you, you just need some employees.“

„Right, but that’s conflicting again with the part where I’m dying, right?“

„Well, then sell the bookstore to someone else.“

„And then buy it back from them?“

„Well, you could have them be the straw man that owns the store and runs it for you, while you’re the one sitting behind the curtain and pulling the strings. You could even have a ghoul run the store for you. That’s what they are for — do those things during the daylight hours that we can’t do. Reliable servants, that’s what they are.“

„Yeah, kind of too reliable, isn’t it?“

Wassili frowns: „Huh? Sorry, can’t help you with that. That’s something you need to decide for yourself.“

„I mean… so far… well, at the moment I’m at a point where I don’t really want a ghoul.“

„Okay, then find someone else, someone reliable that you can work with.“

„Yeah… well…“ Shane sighs deeply and leans back, as he thinks things through once more…


It’s already 18:45 when Pierre arrives on Randalls and Wards Island, where he then goes looking for some dogs to feed upon. His tactic is the same as last time — he puts out some dog food and waits for some strays to be drawn to it. After a little while, he can see a German shepherd approaching — it doesn’t look overly healthy, but he can’t be picky tonight, so, with a bit of struggling, he grabs the dog and starts drinking. Unfortunately, he gets so lost in the sensation of feeding that just can’t stop — the world disappears in a sea of red, as he gorges himself on the dog’s blood.

When the Mekhet finally comes to again, he is surrounded by the cadavers of about five dead dogs, each of them literally torn to shreds. His boiler suit is stained with blood, as are his face and hair, and he even has bits of fur stuck in between his teeth. On the upside though, he is no longer hungry — in fact, he hasn’t felt this sated in a long time. Nervously, he checks his watch — it’s half past nine already, which means that he lost more than an hour.

Looking around, he can see that he is kneeling on a small clearing amidst several large bushes — it seems that he acted like a wild animal, dragging its prey to a concealed area where it then can feed on them at its leisure. Then he notices something else in between the carcasses of the dogs — it’s a dirty and smelly sleeping bag, next to a damaged shopping cart. It seems that this is the sleeping spot for some homeless person. There is no dead body of a human visible though, which indicates to him that this person was not present when the massacre occurred, or they fled. Still, they will come back at some point, and then they will find five or six dead dogs in what is probably their bedroom.

Grabbing a plastic bottle from the shopping cart, Pierre is about to spill its contents over his hands and face to clean up a bit, but at the last possible moment he notices that the liquid in the bottle is yellow. Hastily, he puts the bottle away again, and instead peeks out from the bushes to see how far away from the waterfront he actually is. It’s probably less than a hundred meters away, so, after making sure that no one’s around, he makes a run for the riverfront, keeping his head low and his body hunched over, so that he looks like a hobo himself.

Once he has washed his face and hair off in the river, he carefully gets out off the boiler suit. With the amount of blood this is soaked with, it’s probably ruined, he thinks, so he just tosses it in the river and makes a note of buying a new one.

Now that he resembles a human being again, Pierre sits down on one of the benches and sighs. Granted, he feels a lot better now, but this still brings him to a crux point, which is finding a sustainable source of blood that allows him to keep himself going without going hungry all the time and then frenzying. He feels a little bit guilty about what he did to the poor strays — he doesn’t want to outright kill them after all, but at least it wasn’t a human that he killed this time. Also, the fact that he frenzied yet again and lost more than an hour is very frustrating — it presses home the point that he needs to learn how to control his Beast somehow.

Then an even more worrying thought occurs to him — when he arrived on the island it was still pretty early, which means that there might have been other people around. Did they spot him during his frenzy, tearing dogs to shreds, and running around smeared with blood? After all, both the Penitent One and Sanders have mentioned several times that the beast doesn’t care for the Masquerade — when it feeds, it acts on instinct, and it doesn’t care if anyone’s watching. So the question then is: did he actually cause a Masquerade breach here?


After her phone call with Pierre has ended, Vashti feels that she should feed as well, so she leaves her Haven, gets on the subway, and heads over to Randalls and Wards Island as well. When she sets foot on the island, she hears some strange noises — it sounds like the panicked yapping and barking of dogs, coming from somewhere further up towards the playing fields. Curious, she moves a bit closer, because she wants to know what she might have to avoid while she’s here, only to hear a whining yowl coming from somewhere nearby, after which the barking stops. Strolling around a bit, she tries to figure out where the noise came from, but with the barking now gone, it’s impossible for her to locate the exact spot.

With a shrug, she decides that this is probably none of her business anyway, and instead focuses on finding a suitable victim of her own, hopefully a loner who is walking by the riverfront. As she’s roaming the area, she can see a massive pickup truck standing on one of the parking lots with its engine running. The car looks brand-new, with lots of chrome, and there is someone sitting behind the wheel with a blissful expression on his face. Occasionally, the man moans loudly, letting the Nosferatu know that he’s probably not alone in the car — and, indeed, after a few minutes a female head pops up, the guy hands some money over, and then the streetwalker gets out of the car and walks off. Instead of driving off, the man stretches and sits there with a stupid grin on his face for a moment, before he gets out of the car as well and walks down the street for a few meters. When he comes past the bushes she’s hiding in, Vashti quickly grabs him and sinks her fangs into his neck. As she’s drinking, she notices that this guy is still quite young, probably in his early twenties. His clothes look very expensive — must be a rich college student, she thinks. With someone as healthy as his person, she has little qualms about drinking from them, so she gorges herself on his precious Vitae until his heart rate goes up significantly Only then does she lick the wound closed and pushes him back towards his car. The man stumbles forward and mutters to himself: „Whoa… she was good… damn good…“ He remains sitting in the car for a few more minutes before he eventually engages first gear and drives off.

„He,“ Vashti chuckles. „I should try and remember that car. If I ever see it around again, I’ll know what to do!“


After about a minute, Shane looks up: „That’s quite a lot to think about actually.“

„These are decision that every single Kindred out there had to make at some point,“ Wassili replies.

„I guess…“

„Okay, so now I have a question for you. You’ve been to the assembly, you have seen the meeting and the different groups. Where would you say you’d feel at home?“


„Better get used to this question, because you’ll get asked this one a lot until you have come to a decision. So, what’s your political stance?“

„Well, thing is, back when I was not Kindred, I tended to avoid politics, so it’s kinda hard adjusting,“ the Daeva points out.

„I’m afraid that this stance won’t cut it here.“

„Yeah, I thought as much, but… well, I don’t think I see myself with the Radicals, that’s for sure.“

„That’s good to know,“ Wassili says with a relieved smile. „But what do you think we should do now? Should we be satisfied with what we’ve got? I mean, Harlem ain’t bad, there’s lots of kine around, but we are a big covenant with lots of members, and this is a confined space.“

„What about Staten Island?“

„Eh, nobody wants to go there, even though it’s part of our territory.“

„And why is that?“

The older Kindred laughs: „You know, there’s people out there that consider Staten Island not even to be part of New York. And it’s on the other side of the Hudson, it’s on the New Jersey side… and, yes, I know that it’s one of the Five Burroughs, but there are many Kindred that disagree.“

„Okay, but does it have to be part of New York? I mean, it’s our territory!“

„True, but what are you gonna do out there? You’re away from where the action is, because the action is here, in Manhattan, in the Bronx, and in Brooklyn, and, for us, in Harlem! We don’t want Staten Island, we want Manhattan, or Brooklyn! Hell, a larger part of the Bronx would be nice.“

„I get that, but… do we really want in on the action?“

Now Wassili looks confused: „Why wouldn’t we?“

„I don’t know! Aren’t there some of us who just want to… well, exist, for lack of a better term?“

From one of the other tables someone calls over: „I think you’d fit right in with the Staten Island crowd!“

„Thanks,“ Shane smiles.

„That was not meant as a compliment,“ Wassili explains.

„Oh…“ He sighs. „But there are some of us that make their Haven on Staten Island?“

„Of course. If you’re looking for a quiet neighborhood, you go to Staten Island.“

„But that also means being cut off from pretty much everything else, right?“


„All right. Not necessarily what I want, but… again, something to think about!“

„Okay, but you didn’t answer my question: should we be satisfied with what we have? If the Prince came to you and asked you ‚do you think I should give you more‘… what would you say to him?“

„Hm…“ The Daeva thinks about this for about half a minute. „It’s a tough one… I mean… I’m not even half a year in this business, so… for me to say yes in that situation… probably not the right choice, right? No matter what I think, it wouldn’t be the right choice to say it.“

„Maybe,“ a clearly disappointed Wassili replies.

„What I think is… well, we are the largest covenant, so by default we should have at least some more. Not necessarily the largest portion of New York, but, still, something.“

„If you say so.“

„But going about getting it, that’s… that’s probably a way different story!“ At this moment, Shane’s phone starts ringing — it’s Leslie. „Err, excuse me, I need to take this.“ Shane stands and heads outside. „Go for Shane?“

„Ey, my man,“ Leslie greets his friend.

„Hey Leslie! How’s it going?“

„I was about to ask you the same thing! For me, pretty well, I’d say! At least, for now, pretty well. But, listen, Shane, I’ve got good news for you, I have finally managed to get a hold of Angelica and talk to her… and… well, why don’t you come over to my apartment, and we have a quick chat? I don’t think this is something we should discuss over the phone.“

The Daeva quickly estimates the time it’ll take him to get from the pool hall to Red Hook. „Sure, gimme an hour.“

„Okay, works for me.“

„See ya.“ He ends the call and heads back inside, where he says to Wassili: „Listen, something came up, I gotta leave.“

„Yeah, sure,“ the older Carthian shrugs. „We can continue any night, usually you’ll find me here at some point.“

„Okay. Just one more thing, real quick. I’m looking into research for a book I’m writing and I’ve heard that there’s someone at the New York Public Library that can get me access to it at night. Is that correct?“

„Yes…,“ Wassili slowly nods. „Her name’s Liliane Chastain.“

„Any way I can contact her?“

„She’s an Ordo member. I haven’t had any dealings with her, but, if you know someone within the Ordo, maybe they can help you out? Doesn’t your friend… the bald one, isn’t he a member of the Ordo? Maybe he can help you out?“

„He is, yeah,“ Shane nods. „Okay, that might work.“

„Just be careful. She is a Dragon.“

„Yeah, and they’ll probably ask for something in return.“


„Eh, we’ll see how that shakes out.“

„Best of luck with that. See you around.“

„Yeah, thanks. Bye.“ With that, the Daeva heads out and walks back to his car.


It’s shortly after 21:00 when Shane parks his car outside the building where Leslie’s apartment is located. When he looks up, he notices that no light is on inside the ‚penthouse‘ studio, which is a bit of a surprise. „Huh, weird,“ he mutters to himself, and then gets ready to ring the doorbell. There is no doorbell labelled ‚Quinn‘ though — the doorbell for that apartment says ‚Somers‘. Checking left and right, he can see that he is indeed on the right street, so he steps back and looks up at the building once again — it is definitely the right building. „But… but I’ve been here before just recently,“ he whispers. „I’ve stayed here…!“

Taking out his phone, he calls Leslie. „Yeah, Shane,“ the artist says, when he takes the call. „What’s up?“

„Uhm… you home?“

„Yeah, of course.“

„At the loft?“

„What loft?“ Leslie sounds genuinely confused.

„The one on 416 Van Brunt Street, of course!“

„Uhm… Shane?“


„I moved out of that apartment half a year ago. You helped me packing up my stuff!“

Shane frowns: „Seriously?“ He doesn’t remember any of this.


„And to where exactly?“

„Closer to Williamsburg, because we wanted to live closer together.“ After a moment, a very concerned-sounding Leslie asks: „Are you all right, Shane?“

„We’ve had this conversation before, didn’t we?“ The Daeva hoarsely replies. „I mean… not really…“

„Yeah, I know. We met at McGinty’s a few nights ago. So… you’re in Red Hook, at my old apartment?“

„Yeah. Sorry. It’s…,“ he laughs in disbelief, „I… I can’t even remember the move!“

„Okay.“ Leslie gives him an address that sounds strangely familiar. „That’s where I live now.“

„Ah, yes, that does ring a bell, now that you say it!“

„See? I’ll see you there.“

„Yeah, gimme a few minutes.“

„Sure. Talk soon.“

Once the artist has ended the call, Shane lets the phone sink and whispers: „What the fuck?!“

At this moment, the door to the building opens and the old man that Shane saw a few nights prior steps out. He gives the Kindred a curt nod: „Evening.“ There is no sign on his face that he recognizes the Daeva.

„Evening. Uhm, excuse me, sir?“


„We’ve met before, haven’t we?“

„Yes… yes, I remember you. Weren’t you the one that was making all that noise up there?“ The old man points to the loft.

„Yeah, when was that again?“

„Well… a week… maybe two weeks ago?“

„All right… yeah, that sounds about right,“ Shane nods. „Again, sorry for that.“

„Eh, well if Mr Somers said it’s okay, who am I to complain!“

„Still! Wasn’t the best day I had, so, again, sorry.“

„Don’t mention it. Good night.“ With that, the old man walks off.

Even more confused now, the Daeva mutters: „So I have been here… but… how?“ He reaches into his pocket, where he actually still has the key for the apartment. „No, that’s for later. I have to leave now.“ He gets back in the car and drives over to Williamsburg.


Over on Randalls and Wards Island, Vashti decides to call Ryszard again. Her ex-boyfriend takes the call almost immediately: „Hello, dear.“

„Hey, sweetheart!“ She’s still not quite sure what to make of his attitude towards her — it sounds a bit like a relationship, but she can’t be certain.

„Calling again so soon?“

„Yeah, I’ve got some news. Maybe you want to hear that?“

„Of course. Was my gift well received?“

„That’s what I was going to talk to you about,“ she calls. „Can we meet up?“

„Certainly. The usual spot? I mean, it’s our place by now.“

A shiver runs down her spine, but she nods nonetheless. „Yeah.“

„In an hour?“


„See you then.“


When Shane gets out of the car at the address that Leslie gave him, he slowly nods to himself — the building definitely looks familiar, but the memories are hazy and feel incomplete. It’s almost like a flashlight’s illuminating certain details of a picture, but never revealing it in its entirety — a semi parked out on the sidewalk, or the Daeva himself carrying a cardboard moving box upstairs, or Leslie at the wheel as they’re driving the truck around New York, but there are no memories of the actual apartment itself. These strange memories are actually giving him a headache, so he just stops thinking about them and instead walks to the door, where he rings the doorbell for ‚L. Quinn‘.

„Okay, this is the right building,“ he mutters, giving himself a pep talk. „This is the right number, and there is his name. So why the fuck don’t I remember?“

Leslie’s voice comes on an intercom system:  „Yeah, who is this?“

„Yeah, it’s me!“

„Okay, I’ll buzz it open!“


The door buzzer goes and Shane quickly pushes the door open. In the hallway, there is a list of the tenants on the wall, giving the floors they live on, as well as the apartment numbers. According to this list, Leslie lives on the sixth floor, which is also the top floor, so the Daeva takes the elevator instead of the stairs. While the cabin is moving upwards, he invokes the Blush of Life, just to make sure that Leslie doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

With a ding, the elevator doors open, revealing a short hallway with only two apartments — lofts, probably. One of the doors is standing slightly open, allowing a thin beam of light to shine into the corridor. Before he enters the apartment though, Shane checks the doorbell, just to be sure — it says ‚L. Quinn‘. Politely, he knocks, and the door swings slightly open.

„Come in,“ Leslie’s voice calls.

When Shane enters the loft, he again has flashlight memories of the place — large windows, an open space where Leslie does his art pieces, but little else. „Hm… kitchen!“ He points towards several door in quick succession. „Bedroom, living room.“

„Yes,“ his friend nods, holding tow bottles of Guinness in his hands.

„What, yes? I’m here!“

„Yeah, and you’ve just told me where the rooms in my apartment are located, which is nice of you, but I knew that already!“

„Oh,“ the Daeva looks down for a second, „well, yeah… uhm… like I said, I don’t really have any memory of the move, so I… well, some things are coming back!“

„Okay. Guinness?“ He offers him a bottle.

„Err, got my car downstairs, so… maybe not.“

„Come on, just one half-pint!“

Thinking back to the incident at McGinty’s, Shane shudders slightly and says: „I really don’t know… eh, maybe. Okay, I’ll take it.“ The artist pours him a glass and then motions for the couch. As they sit down, the Daeva remarks: „The couch is new, right?“

„Yeah, I bought it after the move.“ Leslie crosses his legs and turns to face the other man. „Shane, you said that you stayed at my apartment.“


„And you have no recollection of this place?“


The artist nods slowly to himself and then asks: „So… where did you stay?“

„That is a fair question. I’m afraid I stayed at the old place.“

„But that has been rented out again, I think!“

„At least there’s a name on the door, so… yeah, I think it’s rented out.“

„Right.“ Leslie leans back and puts his hands around the back of his neck. „Okay, so… ever since we met at McGinty’s I’ve ben thinking about what you told me there, and… well, I’ve talked to Angelica about this as well. It took me quite some time to actually get a hold of her and get her to talk to me, and only thanks to Drew was I able to get in contact with her.“

„Oh crap! You called Drew?!“

„Yeah, I did, and she was actually very helpful.“

„Yeah, but I’ll never hear the end of that, no matter the outcome!“

His friend leans forward slightly and gives him an intent look: „Shane, she’s just as worried as I am. As is Angelica, to be honest.“

„Drew is worried about me?! Well, that’s a new one!“

„She was very worried about you. And, yeah, maybe she doesn’t show it the same way as I do, but she is worried about you. You’re her… hell, you’re her baby brother still.“

With a massive frown, the Daeva calls: „Since when?“

„Shane, to be frank, I don’t think you really know your sister that well.“

„Sorry, but I do know my sister! I know we get along swimmingly most of the time.“

„Maybe, but I still think you don’t know her that well.“

„All right, I’ll take your word for it.“

„But, anyway, this is not about Drew,“ Leslie replies, „this is about you.“

„Yeah, so? Hit me.“

He takes a sip of beer. „Took a lot of convincing, but… Angelica is willing to talk to you.“


„From what she has told me, I don’t think things can be mended though.“

Shane lets out a deep sigh: „I think I feel the same way. We’re past that point, yes.“

„So this is not about fixing your marriage, because… well, I don’t think that’s possible anymore. But… I think you need to come to some sort of agreement, mostly for Kyle’s sake. And I think that Angelica has now gotten to a point where she is willing to discuss these matters with you.“


„And I also think that, at least for that first meeting, I should be there as well, as a mediator.“

„Yeah… yeah, that makes sense,“ the Daeva slowly nods.

„Is that acceptable?“

„It is, totally.“

„Okay. So… well, it’s Sunday evening now, so… Tuesday, for lunch?“

Immediately, Shane shakes his head: „No, no. Not lunch.“

„Why not?“

„It’s complicated. Why not Tuesday evening, at 19:00?“

„She’ll need a babysitter for Kyle then, but I think I can ask a friend to help her out.“

„That’ll be appreciated.“

„Okay.“ Leslie looks at his best friend quizzically for a few moments, but then he just nods: „All right then. I’ll make the necessary arrangements.“ When his phone suddenly rings, he takes a look at the number and stands. „Sorry, need to take that.“ He walks over to the kitchen. „Hello?“ Then the door closes and all Shane can hear is quiet mumbling.

Now alone in the living room, the Daeva looks around. There are several framed photos arranged on a sideboard, and there’s one face that Shane immediately recognizes and that most definitely doesn’t belong — it’s Patricia Milton, the bookstore owner! The picture is fairly new, and shows her leaning against a tree and smiling for the camera, meaning that she is not just randomly in the picture, but that this is an actual picture of her. „That’s kind of disturbing,“ he whispers. Then he quickly feeds about half the beer to a potted plant.

About half a minute later, Leslie comes back, and when he sees his friend looking at the picture of Patricia, he smiles: „She’s pretty, isn’t she?“

„Kinda, yeah. Who is she?“

„I haven’t told you this,“ the artist laughs slightly,“ but… that’s my new girlfriend, Patricia.”

„Oh, all right!“ Shane forces a smile, but he suddenly has a very bad feeling about this. „Congratulations in order already, or not that serious?“

„We’ll see, we’ll see…!“

„She a local, or from L.A.?“

„No, she’s a local.“

„Oh, so long distance?“

„Yeah, for the past couple of weeks.“

The Daeva frowns: „How did you meet then?“

„Yeah, well… this may sound a bit strange, but… we actually met through a mutual acquaintance, and… she… well, she organizes a reading circle, and I went there once. You know, that acquaintance of mine they invited me, and… well, didn’t really care for the books, and the I wouldn’t argue that her taste in decorations for her shop is questionable, to say the least…“

„She has a shop?“

„Yeah, she runs a bookstore.“

„Oh, which one?“

Leslie sighs: „I keep forgetting the name. Something something mysteries. It’s made to look like it’s an old 19th century bookstore with some fake trees in it. Like I say, her taste is questionable, but she is really nice as a person. I think that, since she has a way with kids, she might look after Kyle on Tuesday evening.“ 

For a second, Shane just stares at Leslie in utter shock, but his best friend doesn’t seem to notice, because he’s looking at the photograph again. „Err…“

„Are you all right?“ The artist shoots him a curious look. „You look pale.“

„I… I don’t know… I mean, I don’t know her, so… handing my son over to a stranger…“

„You can trust her, there’s nothing to worry about. She’s really really nice!“

„If you say so. I’ll take your word for it. But if something happens, you owe me!“

„Don’t worry, it’ll be okay. It’s not like she would let Kyle play with a hammer and a stake.“ This is a very strange thing to say for Leslie, but he just continues: „Anyway, I’ll make the necessary arrangements, and then I’ll let you know where we’ll meet.“

„Yeah, sounds good. Can you send me a text with the details?“

„Sure, can do.“ They both stand and shake hands. „Take care, Shane, and see you soon.“

„Yeah, see you around.“

When they’’re standing by the open apartment door, Leslie pats his friend on the shoulder: „Good hunting.“

„We’ll see,“ the Daeva just replies. Moments later, the door closes behind him, leaving him standing in the hallway again. Shaking his head, he mutters to himself: „What the fuck was that?“ He checks the name on the doorbell again, which still says ‚L. Quinn‘. Once he has left the building, he also checks the outside doorbells, and here it also still says ‚L. Quinn‘ as well. 

He has never heard Leslie mention a girlfriend though, he had been single ever since Shane first met him. Sure, he has had some girls, he’s a good-looking man after all, but it never was something serious. 

„Something is off,“ Shane whispers, as she walks back to his car. „I mean, I’ve been out of the loop for three months now, but, still, a couple of weeks? Could be, give or take, three months as well, so… could match up… but he would have told me… he most definitely would have… something fishy is going on here…“’’


About ten minutes later, Shane parks his car on the street close to Leslie’s old apartment again, after which he walks over to the door to the apartment building. The key he has in pocket still fits, and he quickly makes his way upstairs to the loft, where he listens at the door for a moment. There are no sounds coming from inside, so he puts the key in the lock and carefully turns it…


Shaking his head slightly, Pierre decides that he can’t do anything about a possible Masquerade breach anyway, and so he will instead look into that thing Vashti asked him to do for her, which is keep an eye on her stepmother. The address she texted him is for a hotel in Downtown Manhattan, but, except for the name Cathy Brown and a photo, there is nothing else to go on. What’s more, how is he even supposed to keep an eye on her? He can’t do it all day long, after all, and, since this Ms Brown is not a vampire, she will probably be most active during the daylight hours. He heads to the hotel anyway, which is an upmarket boutique hotel located in a small side street. The entire building is mostly glass and steel, all of it looking very modern and stylish. Indecisively, he then just stands there for a minute or two — he has no idea what to do now. Through the slightly tinted glass front on the street level, the Mekhet can see the reception desk and a small bar to the left. A businessman, probably in his mid-forties is checking in just now.

For now, Pierre sits down on a small bench opposite the building and just watches. Not that much appears to be going on though — it’s a Sunday evening after all, and it’s also pretty late already. Once the businessman has walked to the elevator, the receptionist returns to the back office, leaving the lobby unattended for now. Still, the Mekhet remains where he is — there are probably cameras all over the place, and he won’t do anything stupid tonight, not after what just happened to him while feeding.


While he’s waiting, Pierre gets out his cellphone and calls the Penitent One. His unofficial mentor takes the call after the first ring, as usual, and says: „Yes, Pierre?“

„Good evening,“ he replies. „I’ve got a question that you may be able to help me with. I need to organize a regular supply of blood, and I am trying to figure out how to do that. I have considered looking at slaughterhouses, or something similar, or blood banks, but there are logistical difficulties in… acquiring the blood. If I was still a researcher, I could request it for research purposes, or… if I was a maker of blood sausage, I could acquire as much animal blood as I want… but I am neither of these things at present.“

„I can see the difficulties, yes,“ she says, chuckling slightly. „It’s a real shame that we can’t subsist on blood sausages.“

„Yeah, I know. So acquiring a source of human blood would be preferable, but…  well, I did have someone who might have been able to help with that, but I think that ship has sailed.“

„There are other options if you want to acquire human blood. I think you mentioned already that your friend has access to a blood bank.“

„At the university, yes.“

„So, a blood bank is a decent option, but what happens if they discover that blood bags go missing on a regular basis? The problem lies not so much with acquiring the stuff, it’s more about organizing a decent coverup. And, well, I’m afraid I can’t help you with that, because that is something that needs to be set up at the hospital or the university directly. You need someone on the inside for that, and it has to be someone who not only has access to the stored blood bags, but who can also falsify the records.“

He pensively nods: „Yeah, not somebody easy to come across.“


„But I’m sure somebody amongst our kind probably has that kind of access!“

„Yeah, I tend to agree, there probably are Kindred out there that have that kind of access.“

„But involving yourself with them would be playing into other people’s hands.“

„It would again mean that you are owing favors. Favors that they will call in at some point,“ she agrees. „And, ask yourself, the people with that kind of access… are they the people that you want to get yourself involved with?“

„Exactly. Then… if that’s ruled out then… well, then sourcing animal blood might be an alternative option. But how to go about doing that is, again, a difficult question.“

„I probably should not suggest this, but have you considered finding people that are willing to be fed upon? It’s not an option that I personally would recommend, but… it might make the transition to feeding only on animals easier, while you’re setting up a more permanent solution.“

„True. I’m hesitant though, because of what has happened recently, but it may be something to explore.” He sighs uneasily. „But how would I go about this? It’ll be difficult to find someone that is willing to be fed upon.“

„Depends on how you go about this. There are Kindred that have cultivated what they call ‚a herd’ — a group of people that is willing to freely give their blood to them.“

„Something to look into, but, again, something that is gonna require time.“

„And it’s also, depending on how you set it up, considered a breach of the Masquerade.“

„True.“ The Mekhet sighs. „Surely though, ghouls could also be considered a Masquerade breach?“

„Oh, ghouls are a Masquerade breach! There’s no two ways about it!“

„Something to think on. But time is a luxury that I don’t seem to have at the moment.“

„There are also Kindred that are dealing in blood bags,“ she points out.

„I might know somebody who might be able to… or at least knows somebody who might be able to supply blood bags. Although I imagine they will come with a cost.“

„Yeah, probably. But be careful, there are certain Kindred who like to spike their blood bags.“

„With their own blood?“

„Of course.“

„To put people under a vinculum,“ Pierre nods understandingly.

„Not necessarily a vinculum. If you add just a drop or two of your own blood, it won’t be enough to create a full-fledged vinculum, but it’s enough to make other Kindred suggestible.“

„Okay, that is good to know! So I shouldn’t go overindulging, is that your recommendation?“

„Yeah. Be careful and always doublecheck what you’ve actually been given. With tiny droplets of Vitae, it can be very difficult to detect them.“

„Even more things to look into then,“ he smiles. „And I’m doing a favor for that particular person right now, so… maybe can do a tit for tat.“

„Best of luck with that.“

Out of the corner of his eye, the Mekhet suddenly sees a woman that kind of fits the description Vashti gave him step out of the elevator and walk over to the reception. The receptionist hands her a letter, after which she walks back to the elevator and heads upstairs again. On the digital display right above the elevator, he can see that it stopped on the fourth floor.

„Thanks for your advice this evening,“ he says to the Penitent One. „New things to look into, as always.“

„My pleasure.“

„There are things I should be doing as well.“

„Then best of luck with that as well,“ she replies.

„I should like to continue our training at some point as well.“

„Whenever you feel like it.“

„I’ll call you soon.“

„All right. Take care, and good night.“

„Good night.“ Pierre ends the call.


After his phone call with the Penitent One, the Mekhet walks across the street and goes inside the hotel. The receptionist looks up when the Kindred enters and nods: „Good evening.“

„Good evening,“ Pierre replies. „I was wondering if you know if anybody’s stopping here by the name of Cathy Brown.“

„And why are you asking?“

„I’m just trying to get in touch with them.“

„Aha. Lemme check.“ The man types something on a keyboard and then looks at the screen. „Sorry, there’s no guest by the name of Cathy Brown staying here.“

„Ah, no worries. Maybe they haven’t gotten in yet, they are supposed to have arrived earlier today.“

„Well, there are no further bookings for tonight.“

„Ah, well, maybe I got the hotel wrong then,“ Pierre says with a sigh. „Thank you for your time.“

„Of course. Good night.“

Heading out again, the Mekhet sits down on the bench once more and keeps on watching the building.


It’s a quarter past ten when Vashti arrives at Ground Zero, and this time, because she is a few minutes late, Ryszard is already sitting on that bench, waiting for her. Next to him, on the ground, stands a briefcase that looks identical to the one he handed over to his ex-girlfriend yesterday.

When she approaches him, she points at the briefcase and calls: „Don’t tell me you got it back!“

He smiles: „And what if I did?“

„Did you?“

„Maybe.“ His smiles gets wider. „Maybe I never gave it to you.“

She frowns: „But if you didn’t give it to me, what did I give…“

Now it’s getting interesting, isn’t it?“

„But it looked and felt like a briefcase! It was even accepted as a briefcase!“

With a chuckle, he replies: „Well, then it must’ve been a briefcase, right?“

„Hm… probably not!“ With a sideways look, she adds: „You’re not telling? Okay…“

„I never do, dear, you should know that by now.“

„Eh, on occasion you do tell something! But fine…“

„So, what’s up?“

The Nosferatu sits down: „I didn’t give it to the Prince directly, by the way.“

„And who did you give it to instead?“

„Ms Englehart.“

„That’s even better,“ Ryszard says with a chuckle.

„Yeah, and she… she asked how I got it…“

„And, of course, you told her.“

„That you freely gave it to me, yes. But I’m not sure that she’s going to tell the Prince.“

„Now, isn’t that wonderful?“

„It’s interesting.“

He leans forward slightly: „Vashti, I think I need to educate you a little bit, if you don’t mind. What is power?“



„No?! That’s for the regular people in their daily lives?“

„No, Vashti. Power is knowing more than your opponent. Now, what have you done yesterday, when you gave the briefcase to Ms Englehart?“

„I gave her more knowledge than the Prince,“ Vashti shrugs.

„Indeed. And now she knows something that Ludwig probably doesn’t know, and that does grant her power over him. Now, that’s obviously a good thing.“

„I guess that depends.“

A strange glint appears in his eye: „I creates openings… opportunities… and opportunities are good, because opportunities mean that people come to me and they will ask for more. Opportunities are good for business, so I have to thank you for that, dear. Good job.“

„Ha, so you say owe me,“ she calls excitedly.

Coldly, he replies: „I never owe anyone anything, Vashti.“

„Yeah, I wish, but let’s say your gratitude might come away once… or some time when I might need it!“

„Vashti, I gave you the briefcase,“ Ryszard reminds her. „Isn’t that gratitude enough already?“

„But you told me it was very valuable!”

„Yes, I did. And I gave it to you free of charge, so don’t tell me that I owe you, when instead you owe me for handing it over to you.”

„Can you at least give me some more info then?”

„Information on what?”

Frustrated, she calls: „Who is Marlena Englehart, for example?”

„Marlena Englehart…,” her ex-boyfriend chuckles slightly. „All right then, Vashti, I’m gonna give you a tiny piece of information, but not the whole picture. Still, might be something for you to look into. Ms Englehart… is not who Mr van Ludovic thinks she is… or who the vampires in this city think she is. She is the childe of a very powerful Kindred, but even she herself isn’t aware of that.”

„Wait a second, she doesn’t know who her sire is?!”

„No, she doesn’t. Now, have fun with that.”

„But… it’s still… no, I mean… is she important?”

„She’s the Prince’s consort, but I will say no more,” Ryszard calmly shuts her up.

„I don’t even know who she is! And I… apparently she… no… and that’s annoying!”

„Well, then maybe you should try and find out. But I won’t hand you the information that you seek on a silver platter.”

„What do you think I’m doing?!”

„Dear, not by asking the wrong people.”

„Everyone is wrong,” she snarls.

„No, you’re just asking the wrong people, Vashti.”

Pensively, the Nosferatu says: „I can’t ask the Prince…”

„No, of course you can’t ask the Prince.”

„I can’t ask her, because that would be weird… Thomas… was surprised I didn’t know her, but he didn’t…”

With a deep sigh, her ex-boyfriend cuts her off: „Vashti, Thomas is not the only vampire servant in this city.” He seems actually almost disappointed in her.

„You mean ghouls?”

„Is that what they’re called? Okay, ghouls. But, tell me, who do you ask, if you want to get the really juicy gossip, dear? You don’t ask the lords and ladies, because they won’t talk with someone like you. No, instead you ask the servants. Now, do with that what you will.”


„So, was that all?”

„Do you think she will contact me to get information to you?”

He frowns: „Who?”

„Marlena Englehart.”


„Is there anything you think I will have to bring from you to them?”

With a shrug, Ryszard replies: „Maybe.” When he sees the annoyed look on her face, he adds: „Vashti, I don’t know how things will play out either. I adjust my plans daily.”

„So envious of you! You can live during the day!”

„Yes, I can. But that’s the way it is now for you — you can’t anymore. But there are other opportunities for you out there. All you have to do is grab them.”

„We’ll see what happens then.”

„Yes, we will.”

„Damn politics,” she whispers.

„It’s always about politics.”

„Just one more thing: do you actually know if the former Prince, Victor… if he’s actually dead? Did he die permanently in that fire? Do you know?”

With a smile, Ryszard stands: „Good night, Vashti.”

She sighs deeply: “Good night.”

„Do you seriously think that other vampires haven’t asked me the same question as well?”

„Yeah, probably.”

„See? So the price for that piece of information is very very high indeed.”

„Otherwise it would’ve been out to the world.”

„Exactly,” he nods. „But, so far, no one has been willing to pay my price.”

„Hm, that’s also interesting!”

„Yes, indeed it is.” He gives her a quizzical look. „But maybe you are?”

„Nah, I don’t care.”

„Yeah, I thought so as well.”

„This is not important enough to me.”

„I know it isn’t, but it’s important to some other people in this city. But for now, good night, dear.” He smiles and walks off into the night.

Vashti, meanwhile, tries to remember if she has met any other ghouls in New York City so far — there was Johannes, Maxine’s ghoul, and she’s not quite sure about Mr Wolf, but, with the exception of Thomas G, that’s all the ghouls she has met, she thinks.

56-16: Pierre informs Vashti about what he has seen at the hotel

After some time, Vashti’s train of thought is interrupted by the ringing of her mobile — according to the number on the display, it’s Pierre. With a slight groan, she takes the call: „Hey Pierre, nice to talk to you again…”

„Hey Vashti. I’m at the hotel, but there’s no Cathy Brown stopping here.”


„So, given the fact that you said your stepmom is a FBI agent, I imagine she is using a fake name.”

„Possibly,” the Nosferatu agrees, „but I only know her as Cathy Brown. Or Cathy Meshcheryakova.”

„There is somebody matching the description here. She’s stopping on the fourth floor. Still in the hotel.”

„Interesting! Well, that’s nearby.”

„So what are you planning on doing?”

„I don’t have any plans… oh, wait, are you still in contact with Maxine’s ghoul?”

„Johannes? Well, every time I ring Maxine he answers, so… I can get in touch with him. Why?”

„Maybe he has some information that I can get… on Englehart. Because, so far, the ones I’ve been asking, they’re not really helping. And maybe he’s more willing to share something with me.”

The Mekhet frowns — he has heard the name Englehart mentioned at Ordo meetings, but he knows next to nothing about the woman, and he also can’t see why she’d be important, so he asks: „Englehart? Who’s that?”

„She is close to the Prince.”

„And what’s her business to do with you?”

„Well, she was mentioned… or, at least, I got her name from someone, and they were rather surprised that I didn’t know her! She seems to be some kind of celebrity.”

„Well, can’t say that I’ve come across her that much, other than hearing her name in passing.”

„It almost seemed like I’ve been living under a rock not recognizing the name, and… that’s kind of nagging a bit,” she calls. „But if you don’t know, then maybe the ghoul does.”

„And why is she of such importance to you?”

„Because it’s nagging! Just… I’m trying to get information on… whatever!”

Pierre obviously couldn’t care less, so he asks: „Okay, and how long do you want me to keep watching this ‘Cathy Brown’?”

„Well, you know she’s there, and you know she’s on the fourth floor, so that’s one thing!”

„So you just want me to keep watching her then?”

„Well, if you think she might be heading to bed, then it doesn’t matter for today anymore.”

Looking up to the fourth floor, the Mekhet sees that no lights are on behind any of the windows. „Maybe she’s gone to sleep,” he remarks. „Do you want me to get in touch with Johannes and see if I can find out about this Marlena Englehart?”

„That’d be nice.” Under her breath, Vashti adds: “And if Cathy ever finds death, I’d be fine with that.”

„Yeah, sure, I’ll give him a call and see what I can dig out for you.”

„How was your night so far?”

„Boring,” he lies, obviously having no intention to reveal what happened during his feeding attempt.


„Yep. I’ve been sat here for quite some time, just watching. But the lights on the fourth floor are out, so perhaps it’s time to call it a night.”

„At least she’s there, so that’s one thing.”

„No promises that she can’t move during the day.”

„I know,” the Nosferatu nods.

„So how do you plan to keep tabs on her?”

„That’s a good question. I’m open to suggestions.”

„Cathy Brown isn’t my primary cause for concern at the moment,” Pierre points out. In his opinion, ‘Cathy Brown’ is probably one of the most generic names the FBI could’ve come up with — it’s a very forgettable name, which is probably why they picked it in the first place.

„I know. Ah, I’ll figure something out.”

“Okay, talk to you soon.” With that, he ends the call and leaves his observation point outside the small hotel.


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