Savannah Masquerade

Session 7
Hellboy Ain't Got Shit...

Fast Forward to Friday, August 3, 1984.

Ellis goes to visit his wife, but after a few days of following her around, he chickens out and settles for leaving her a pack of his former cigarettes where she will find them. He decides instead to communicate with her via her lawyer. Ellis then seeks out a rich guy (ret-conned to someone who tells people what to do) to mug, which he does—earning some blood and $300 in the process. Who knows where the car and the body go.

Hap learns through the grapevine about Marshall Easter’s never-ending party and rise to fame. He is so well-liked in fact that it seems he can do no wrong and is perpetually in a state of decadence. This is causing some strife within the Easter clan purportedly. Hap also manages to track down information on the now-deceased hell hound. After feeding, presumably successfully, Hap follows up on his Grand Grimoire obsession that leads him to the Solomon Lodge—the oldest Masonic temple in existence. He manages to observe William Easter and some of his rich-old-man Freemason friends in the midst of a ritual involving the Grand Grimoire and is convinced that the Masons are summoning a demon. If only the building weren’t warded…

Patrick meets with Yzabel and exchanges information—he learns how to use a splinter servant and that Boss City and its three black-hand members are in town surveying the city. They discuss possible outcomes for the city’s leadership and suggest that the goals of the Black Hand and of the Sabbat may not always be aligned. Patrick grabs a co-ed from a bar and charms her into letting him stick his things in her thing so he can eat.

The group meets at Pirate House and Hap eagerly reports to a moody Ellie that the Free Masons are summoning a demon. Once Patrick arrives, Hap brings the coterie to see the ritual for themselves. Seeing William Easter levitating a few feet above the air, hearing the chanting, and seeing the Grand Grimoire in action leads Ellis to decide to take action: these people were involved with killing the Tremere and it’s time to settle the score. As Ellis readies himself to shoot William Easter in the head, Patrick readies the get away vehicle and Hap obfuscates in order to make a grab for the book should it come out. Ash arrives on the scene as just as things come into play.

Ellis takes aim and shoots William Easter flat out in the forehead, killing him easily. Easter stops levitating and falls to the floor and pandemonium erupts. As Patrick, Ellis, and Ash drive off Hap reports the shooting to the police and calls Daniel to let him know about the demon summoning. Patrick uses his fancy car-phone technology to similarly inform Yzabel of the impending trouble: she tells him to contain the situation.

Speaking of demon summoning, it turns out that there was an evil already living within William Easter: now that his body is dead, the creature is able to burst out of its skin suit and pandemonium ensues. Rich old white guys flee for their lives: those that don’t are quickly attacked—a few are defenestrated. The demon comes to the window and sees Hap. The creature bursts through the window and leaps to the street below as a screaming Hap tries to run away. The creature is nearly upon him and takes a swipe with his claws, but Hap’s tomb-raider training allows him to just dodge out of the way.

Hap is saved as Patrick plows into the creature with his car: Ash, the wizard, uses his magic to summon God’s own thunder and rain lightning down upon the demon who sizzles in torment. Patrick leaps out of the car and touches the creature, melting its skin and bursting its bones and turning it into a pretzel. Ellis grows claws and is able to rake the creature’s face and neck before beheading the demon. Hap looks up in awe at his rescuers, clutching his heaving chest and thankful that he is wearing a ski mask as the group becomes aware of all the bystanders who just witnessed the epic takedown…

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Session 6

Hap attempts to sneak around Minnie’s space and gather information, but is foiled by his inability to stay obfuscated. After offering Minnie some blood, she backs him out of her home at gunpoint. Alas, he was not able to find anything particularly useful and the fire extinguisher has likely ruined his suit! He spends the rest of the night recouping.

The rest of the gang gather in the Pirate House to discuss what to do—Patrick fills them in on the Benjamin situation and outlines the Jo situation. The group decides to adjourn for the evening and head off to sleep.

Meanwhile, Ellis breaks into his own house to find that he has a lot of missed mail. He’s contemplating what to do about his ex-wife and child, as well as grabbing his to-go bag. He then goes to the ex’s apartment and witnesses the two living members of his family involved in a massive argument—and he feels compelled to intervene. He pulls his jacket up and over his head, then breaks into the apartment intending to impersonate a drug user stealing the TV.

Television in arms, Ellis takes off as his son follows behind him. Ellis outpaces him, then ducks into an alley intending to obfuscate—instead attracting the attention of a beat cop. Ellis lures the cop into the alley, then expels his feelings into the cop by tossing the TV at the cop. The cop falls backwards, clutching the TV and dropping his gun in the process. Ellis then feeds and acquires a gun, bad, wallet, and other assorted cop gear. He leaves his feelings and the poor cop behind in the alley. He then finds himself a more permanent place to stay during the day.

Tuesday, July 31st 9:00PM

Elena wakes up hungry and goes searching for a ne’re-do-well. She finds an unsuspecting bully. Easily embarrasses him in a fight, then drinks her fill.

Ash wakes up and crafts the hell out of his apartment, turning it into a magical place (with a clandestine escape route). He then heads to the Tool Box to feed. He finds a willing partner to go with him to the alley, and feeds before noticing a large Huskie staring at him. He talks to the sassy dog, sending a message to Chuck of “I remember.” There is a negotiation about snacks: Slim Jims are the compromise choice.

Patrick goes to the bar and feeds easily, before heading to the Pirate House. He also receives a message…

Hap pays for some company, and hears about fellow prostitute who tried to help a shaggy black dog that looks like s/he is in rough shape. The dog barked at the would-be rescuer, and in doing so barks flames. This all occurs in Lafayette Park.

Ellis wakes up looking for a fight: he finds a fellow deserving of a beat-down. Unfortunately, that fellow is with some friends. Ellis gets into a disagreement with them in a bar, and then steps outside. He gets hit by a pool cue, but is able to shrug it off, before the group falls to ground in a pile. Ellis’s blood-fueled corpse, however, proves to be more than a match even for the frat boys: he tosses his target into a dumpster and roars at the bystanders—displaying his vampiric nature for a moment. Ellis drains his victim until he is no longer hungry.

The group meets up at the Pirate House. Patrick arranges for a van and the group heads to the Tidwell place. On the way there, Hap idly discusses the news of the day (drug addicts stealing tvs, real estate futures in the sea islands, and the Freemasons).

Outside the Tidwell house, Hap fades from sight and scans the area (seeing a blue, “cold” will-o’-wisp following Patrick) while Patrick knocks on the door. He meets with a particularly willful mortal Tidwell and leaves a message for Jo. The group discusses the blue will-o’whisp, after Ash discloses that he can see it as well. Ellis pops it with his claws.

The group then decides to investigate all the Benjamins in Benjamin’s district: this takes a while, during which Ash speaks with a raven and Ellis reveals he thinks everyone is crazy.

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The Pirate House
The walk there, anyway

Running into town gave him a lot of time to think. One thing to be said for being dead. Ellis never really felt tired anymore. He had always been fast, tough, pretty much unwilling to admit to being tired, even in the middle of the night on the third night straight of sitting awake in a bolthole where making any noise could mean being discovered, so the only thing you could do is stare at each other and wait for the all clear.

But now he was never tired. Not from exertion, anyway. He got drowsy when the sky started lightening up in the east every night, and he figured that was pretty clearly a product of his new condition. Ellis didn’t want to think about what it would be like if he waited too long to get somewhere that the light couldn’t reach him in the morning. Just the thought of watching the sun rise gave him the heebie jeebies, not that he would admit that to anyone.

Ellis followed the state route in on foot, doing what he had done most of the way down to Savannah, staying off the pavement, running alongside the road, hidden from sight, just eating up miles and spitting them out behind him. Alive, his best mile ever was just under five minutes. And that was one mile. And it was when he was 25. After he hit thirty, things started to slow down. He started to slow down. Maybe not a lot, but it was noticeable. Now that he was dead, though… he didn’t have a timer, but he was fast. Definitely under five minutes, maybe getting down close to four. And he could keep it up all night. So that’s how he traveled. It wasn’t as fast as a car, obviously. But it had the advantage that he wouldn’t be seen, wouldn’t have to answer any uncomfortable questions, and wouldn’t get into a situation where he was hungry and alone with someone who stood to become his next accidental victim.

Probably the worst part of this new travel method was the time it gave Ellis to think. He’d been back in town about a week, and it had given him an awful lot of time to think, more than he’d been used to having in a long time. He just didn’t have responsibilities the way he used to. Running the business. Taking care of Jax, and all the school, sports, and doctor appointments that went along with that. He hadn’t been good at being at those, but he’d tried to make it to the ones he could. He didn’t really have anything against Shelly. Not anymore. But he also didn’t really want to spend a lot of time in the same room with her, so he’d let her handle all the doctor visits. And now he was wishing he’d went to more of them. It was an odd feeling, wishing he had spent more time taking his kid to the dentist. But that’s hindsight, Ellis figured. When he was alive, he had been so focused on paying his child support, thinking that was the real measure of his being a good dad. And now. Hell, now it was all kinds of complicated.

And it was simple. It was clear now that there was one thing that mattered. Jax. That was what drove him to make his way back to Savannah. It wasn’t like there was really anything else keeping him in town. It’s why he went back there when he got out of the service. And since he’s been back, he hasn’t done a damn thing to go see him. Ellis’s first stop was to talk to an old contact who he always went to on jobs where there was weird shit going on. Turns out, Hap had a good reason for knowing about all this weird shit, since he was already a vampire. And now that visit sent him to another meeting. He’s supposed to meet all these other vampires now, too.

He has one damn thing to do that matters, and instead he’s going to fucking meetings. In some ways, being dead ain’t all that different after all.

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Session 5

July 31st into August 1st 1984

Ellis, Hap, and Patrick converse with Mary-Beth. In the midst of their conversation, a tall, athletic, blue-eyed man walks in and collects Mary-Beth. The two leave together: Hap reads his aura, which is incredibly bright and involves the SkyRim soundtrack.

Meanwhile…
Elena finished working at the clinic. A man (Saul) with parrot (George) (who required her to treat the parrot before treating him) complicated her shift. Yar-har and ahoy! She also deals with the aftermath of a huge at the party of Marshall Easter. Evidently he’s becoming somewhat of a celebrity amongst drunk boys—to the point that he’s causing riots. Curious, Elena swings by the party and overhears some of the frat boys bragging about stabbing her erstwhile patients: Elena swallows her rage and leaves rather than kill.

Ash wakes up in his new apartment (flophouse). He’s hungry and goes to the Toolbox. He selects a ruggedly handsome guy who arrives shortly thereafter as his next victim: but when he goes to suck from the straw, the man stops him. He knows Ash from some time before and alludes to it having been 30 years since they last talked. He warns Ash that he’ll need to choose a side in the coming conflict, then he and his huge dog leave.

Ash wanders over the party and, filled with vice, immediately decides to ruin the hosts’ lives. He uses his vampire powers to start a fight and breaks into a wall safe, stealing documents that will ruin the fate of the couple. He then throws a gun into the fight just to cause more trouble. While reading the documents in the street, he is joined by Elena. The two discuss how to best blackmail the family.

Patrick takes Hap to the phone company in an attempt to track down Minnie. Patrick uses his charm and gets everyone inside. He is able to get an address for the Layton family home, in the name of her granddaughter Mary Layton, and an address for Roth Tidwell. They print out all of the records for Benjamin. They hide the evidence of their intrusion, and Patrick plants a modem.

Elena is teaching Ash about the joy of the copy machine. Ash charms the room…sort of. The group is re-united and Elena and Ash are brought up to speed on the dinosaurs, favors for the Camarilla, etc. They arrive at the Layton home: Patrick goes to the door, while Hap and Elena keep a look out. Ash has a sudden moment of clarity where he remembers Checkili “Chuck”, the half-blooded Yamacraw man he saw earlier: this is his childer.

Patrick notices Minnie escaping and stops her: after a tense stand off with a gun, everyone is invited into the kitchen. Hap remains obfuscated. We learn that Benjamin has claimed the North Historic District (which includes the Pirate House), that he is really good at hiding, and we won’t be able to find him. She talks about the garou being relatively quiet, and seems unsurprised by the moloke. Prince Woodward was the childe of the Prince of Atlanta: which would make Mary-Beth his grandchilde. Prince Hodge is described as “forceful.” Liliana is the prince of Charleston. The sabbat is in Jacksonville. Bradock is described as a rival of Woodward.

Minnie shows Ash, Elena, and Patrick out of the door and the session ends with Hap remaining behind with Minnie. Ellis, presumably, was able to handle some personal business.

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Session 4

Still Tuesday, July 31st, 1984.

The group discusses what to do: Ellis and Patrick call _Bradock_’s ghoul and they are instructed to come present themselves to Bradock at 4AM. Hap isn’t quite prepared for an overnight trip, so he flounces out on his own errands while Patrick and Ellis head in.

At _Bradock_’s Hilton Head estate (a nouveau plantation staffed by only black folk), the group have a conference call with Bradock where they exchange information. Hap rejoins them, having packed and found a place to stay (and stashed his goods). The group is advised that Bradock believes himself to be the only surviving elder, and acknowledges Ellis as well as the rest of the group (Ashem and Elena included).

The group is advised that they would be doing a favor for Bradock if they could report on who else remained in the city—though such a boon would remain informal as there was no one currently able to enforce it. We all learn a bit about the Camarilla and Ellis notices that Bradock is calling them from a yacht in the harbor. We learn to look into the status of Jo (Toreador primogen), Mary Beth, Benjamin, and the prince’s former ghoul Minnie Layton.

Ellis and Patrick accept _Bradock_’s hospitality and stay in a nearbye beach house. Hap finds himself in possession of a lovely letter opener. Before leaving, Bradock arranges for a sketch artist to be available to meet with Hap the following night. Hap then heads out to his own resting place for the day.

Wednesday, August 1, 1984

The gang awakes hungry: Patrick uses his hypnotic abilities to eat; Ellis has a particularly good hunt, finding a distracted criminal to ambush. Hap throws money at the problem and finds a particularly discreet escort. Ellis feels much better, having been able to shower, do laundry, and work all of the spiders out of his hair/clothes/body for the first time in a long while. Hap spends an instructive hour with the sketch artist and gets copies made of The Midnight Sun’s human guise, as the original goes to Bradock.

Ellis and Patrick head to the Ogelthorpe Gallery to track down Mary Beth, who is writing in a lounge chair near some copies of her short-story collections for sale. Ellis buys a copy and the trio talk briefly. Mary Beth makes an urgent-sounding phone call and leads the group across the street to a local cafe. As they cross the street, Hap arrives, parks, and joins the group in a small room in the cafe that affords them some privacy.

Mary Beth confirms that she was, in fact, at Wormsloe and escapes—corroborating *Hap*’s story about the dinosaurs. She adds that Bradock was likely able to escape because he had so many ghouls, and that Jo was able to escape but was badly burned in doing so. She also mentions that Benjamin was on-site, but left before the attack. Minnie was not at Wormsloe, as she was out running errands. She also reports that—in addition to the fire, the heavily armed mortals, and the dinosaurs that the manor was attacked by a necromancer who was the source of heart-seeking ghosts from “a cold hell.” These ghosts attempted to freeze the hearts of their victims. Alas, there is no sign of the grande grimoire.

Hap does get to show off the Wanted Poster he’s created of The Midnight Sun to group, however, so there’s that. ( https://savannahmasquerade.obsidianportal.com/characters/isaac-underwood )

Just then, there’s a knock at the door…

(FIN 12:30 AM, Thursday, August 2, 1984)

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Session 3

Still Tuesday, July 31st, 1984.

The group (sans Ashem and Elena) has gathered around Wormsloe and meets near the parking lot. There is a brief discussion, and Ellis decides to scout out the building. Unfortunately for him, there are spiders all over the place—he manages to step into a large colony web and is inundated with painful bites as his obfuscate is broken.

As the group approaches Wormsloe_, a shot is fired, hitting just in front of them. Everyone gets low and Ellis, fueled by spider-venom, manages to subdue the shooter. Patrick leads in questioning the shooter (_Tucker), who is _Bradock_’s ghoul. Bradock has arranged for a guard on the house in order to see who comes by to investigate—perhaps in his role as Ventrue Primogen. Tucker reports that a woman came by during the day. Patrick convinces Tucker that he’s not seen anyone or anything unusual this night and let’s him know that he can’t see the group, either. This works remarkably well.

The group investigates the house, now that the shooter has been dealt with. Hap describes an ambush wherein the front of the house was lit on fire and the back of the house was set up as a killing field. This meant that, as the vampires and ghouls fled, small army of mortals opened fire killing most of them. Oh, and did he mention the dinosaurs? Yes! The 10 Ft All crocodile/alligator-esque dinosaurs who walk on their rear legs. And wouldn’t you know it—one of them (The Midnight Sun) is also the person responsible for the chantry fire. It seems he has at least one (possibly two) dinosaur friends—the Defenders of the Sea Islands (Moloke). There was also something that caused patches of dead, crunchy, desiccated grass that still feels unnaturally cold.

The corpse of the former prince is found inside: his heart was ripped out by The Midnight Sun. It looks like at least one person escaped, though, as Daniel is able to identify _Marybeth_’s blood on the window she escaped through. He also shares that Marybeth was the prince’s scion. More red root bags (chicken bones, mirrors, etc.) are found to mollify the dead: a mass grave is found nearby full of dead humans (ghouls?). While the graves are being dug up, Hap finds a lovely painting of some slaves working and feels obligated to preserve it (via obfuscate and hiding it in his trunk). He returns just as Ellis finishes digging, to find that the bodies have been “sealed” with a black candle that burned down to puddle on their chest.

As it nears midnight, the group leaves (they don’t want the other guard to see them). Ellis hops in the back of _Tucker_’s truck while the gang tails him. Tucker calls into Bradock to report an uneventful evening (and allowing Ellis to find his number), before going home. The group scoops up Ellis and finds a phonebank: Patrick makes some calls, Hap indicates that Marybeth can be found tomorrow night at midnight at a local gallery. Patrick invites the group back to his home while they figure out what to do.

Having discovered the truth about the dinosaurs, the group gains in power (one additional +1 skill).

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Session 2

Still Monday, July 30, 1984…

Elena finishes a shift at the Clinic and feeds (pretty smoothly), before heading to meet the others at the aforementioned place and time. On her way, she notices a woman being stalked by…a shambling something.

Hap also feeds, but unfortunately gets distracted by a fancy party. While there, he acquires a darling momento and notices that handsome playboy Marshall Easter is engaging in more than the usual parlour trick: he seems to be reading other guests minds. Hap slips out to join the others without being noticed.

Ellis and Daniel leave the chantry Cotton Exchange and and head towards the rendez-vous after completing their investigation and finding a small box hidden behind a night stand. En-route, they encounter Elena, and Ashem also en-route. Ellis notices the woman fleeing the shambling…thing, and decides to intervene with his (very effective) fists. The woman runs off, the gang exams the formerly-moving corpse. Hap arrives and, after stealing a finger from the corpse, encourages everyone to get in his car.

The group arrives at the Pirate House and obtain a back room, where they share information and Hap demonstrates that he is an intuitive. The group learns that something called the grande grimoire is somehow linked to the revenants around the city. They also learned that a magician of some sort (dead but never dying) is responsible for the box and its contents. They decide to re-examine the Cotton Exchange, in case Hap has another vision—perhaps more telling than that of Solomon’s Seal.

At the Cotton Exchange, Ashem and Elena stay out with the car and to keep an eye-out while Ellis, Daniel, and Hap enter the building. Hap shares that the grande grimoire was definitely housed at the Cotton Exchange, on a stand that was strangely unburnt. He also confirmed that the vampires in the former chantry (including regent Augustus Bowles_) has been ashed. The person responsible for their final deaths is a tall, handsome, outdoorsy black-man (_The Sun Shining at Midnight) who Hap feels he would recognize should they meet.

As the group leaves, Ashem and Elena notice a suspicious car who seems to be paying too much attention to them—they run after it and are able to get a partial plate. Ellis makes an anonymous tip to the police that the car is responsible for dumping the shambler onto the sidewalk.

The group decides to re-convene the following night and to check out Wormsloe Plantation—the former elysium. They set a time to meet.Everyone sleeps, even Ashem who has to hide underneath a flophouse mattress after scaring off the rest of the drug den.

Tuesday, July 31 1984

The news is reporting several shambler sightings and some commentators are suggesting that a satanic cult is on the rise in the area.

Ellis awakes, mugs a guy for his blood, and then runs to the meeting place where he waits obfuscated. He’s not fully satisfied with his meal. Likewise, Elena is feeling somewhat grumpy as she wasn’t very successful eating. She drives herself.

Ashem finds it curiously easy to find a bite at the Toolshed, and takes a cab to the plantation. Unfortunately, his cabbie has had a bad day and doesn’t appreciate being stiffed a fare and attempts to shoot Ashem. Ashem manages to prevent this, thanks to some illusory snakes, and not only gets a free ride but also gets a free gun in the process!

Hap orders take-out successfully, then heads to meet the group. Daniel and Patrick may meet them there as well. As the group approaches Wormsloe, it becomes clear the plantation has also been burned.

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Waking up in Savannah

Sound filters through the earth differently than through the air. It’s obvious that it would, but Ellis hadn’t ever thought about it before being turned, hadn’t thought about it before he figured out it even mattered. It wasn’t in his nature to consider things until they mattered. But then, somewhere on his trip down from Detroit, he figured out he could sink down into the soil to stay out of the sun. And it had been a fucking relief to do it, too. No more hiding in dumpsters hoping that nobody looked in there during the day.

So he could just travel after that, and it made the trip a lot easier, not needing to find a place to hide out. Instinctively, he knew the sun would kill him. Even thinking about being outside when it was up made him anxious and queasy. So yeah, being deep in the protective soil was a huge weight off his shoulders.

But he still needed blood. It didn’t have to be from a human. But if it wasn’t, it tasted like shit, and left him hungry. It was weird how he thought like that now. Humans. Like he wasn’t one of them. He guessed it was either considering himself inhuman or considering himself a cannibal. But thinking about that wasn’t go to help him solve any of his mounting problems, so he put it out of his mind whenever it came up.

Not burning to death in the sun. Check. Getting blood to drink every goddamn night was next. He didn’t need it every night, something he learned by necessity, but it was all he could think about from when he woke up until he got it. So on the nights he didn’t… they were long nights.

But he knew how to trap, and animal blood was drinkable. It wasn’t pleasant, but it also wasn’t murder. And it was a lot easier to get ahold of once he started setting out traps before sinking into the ground for the day. And that also meant he didn’t need to go through any population centers. He could just hoof it through the woods, and through fields, and set traps, wake up in the night to feed from whatever was caught in the day, and keep moving. It wasn’t as fast as stealing a car and driving down, but there were no cops involved. He could navigate by the stars and just keep moving. All in all, it took him about a month.

It wasn’t perfect, but nothing ever is. And his goal was to get home, intact and not draw any attention to himself. And that he accomplished. He still had shit to do. A lot of it. And he had a lot of work to figure out how he was going to do that shit with his new… circumstances.

But the trip was good. It gave him a lot of time to think, and to learn how he was going to get his blood. He got good at his traps, and he found with time, he could hear them go off. The scream of the trapped animal didn’t reach him, but the thud of the deadfall striking the ground did, and once the deer or whatever was pinned to the ground, he could hear its panicked heartbeats sure as anything, throbbing through the soil to his ears. It filtered into his dreams, and he would awaken with the sure knowledge that there was blood awaiting him.

And so this night, Sunday, July 29, 1984, started like several others in the past month, with the thud of a trap above him going off, followed by the startled and panicked beating heart of his prey drumming him up from his slumber. Ellis slipped up to the surface of the soil, emerging silently in the darkness to see and hear that, as it happened, this night would be distinctly unlike any previous.

There were two of them, both in shock. The first was pinned with the meat of his thigh skewered through into the ground with a sharpened wood spike, the weight of the log holding the spike in place. He twisted, and then screamed in pain and collapsed back against the ground. The other was incapacitated with indecision. He vacillated between trying to help his friend lift the log off of him, which would have pulled the spike out of his leg and maybe sent him bleeding to death, and running up the ridge to the highway nearby to try to get whatever help could be had by someone stopping for a lunatic on the side of the road.

The smell of blood was thick in the night air, and Ellis could feel his fangs extending unconsciously, and his mouth watering. He could hear the voice in the back of his head saying to just go and drink from him, to put him out of his misery. He was stupid for having gotten caught in the trap to begin with. And besides, he was probably going to bleed to death either way. And even if he lived, there was no way that didn’t end with police tromping all over the area. He almost gave in. He wanted that blood like he wanted nothing else, but he couldn’t just murder some hiker for wandering into the wrong part of the woods. He was not going to just start killing people. He had enough death on his hands already.

The other hiker seemed to have made up his mind, and started making his way up the ridge to the road. Ellis made up his mind as well, resolving to try to save the trapped one from his friend’s stupidity, and followed, gathering the shadows around him as he went, ghosting up behind the hiker, and in one smooth and swift motion, covering his mouth with one hand while wrapping his other arm around his neck, and squeezing. The blood was cut off from the hiker’s brain as the pressure from Ellis’s bicep pressed on his carotid artery, and the hiker went limp in a matter of seconds. He would wake up soon enough with a headache, and maybe some bruises.

But being this close, arms wrapped around this man, Ellis could feel the warmth of his skin, the rushed pumping of his heart, and before he even understood what he was doing, his fangs were out and plunged into the man’s neck. Ellis drank deeply, savoring the taste of life flowing out of this poor soul and into his open mouth, drinking it down into his endless hunger.

He forced himself to stop. Truth be told, he didn’t know how much he had taken. He had been famished, but he was always famished. And now he wasn’t as hungry, but it wasn’t like he felt full. He hadn’t felt full since the first night.

Ellis forced his fangs to retract. He sealed the bite on the hiker’s neck, and then made himself lay the man down on the side of the highway. He turned and stalked back into the woods. The other hiker was where he had left him, still pinned to the ground, still wailing in misery. Ellis felt a mixture of anger and guilt as he cloaked himself in shadow again, and coldly walked around the prone man, passing right in front of him, but completely invisible to his mortal eyes. If these fuckers had just not come this way, this wouldn’t have happened. And there might have been a deer here for him instead. But now he was going to have to try to save this one from dying, and hopefully he wouldn’t lose his leg. And maybe he killed the other one too. And even if he managed not to kill them both, he was going to have to move.

He stepped around the panicked and bleeding hiker and choked him unconscious as well. After fashioning a tourniquet out of the hiker’s belt, he pulled out the spike, and fireman’s carried the unconscious man up to lay him down by his friend on the side of the road. It was a stroke of luck that Ellis could spot a police car within a few minutes of getting there, and was able to flag it down, and then vanish into the darkness before the cop had time to see more than the two unconscious hikers with their flashlights standing on end next to them as beacons.

Ellis still had somewhere to be tonight, and he was already behind schedule.

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Session 1
A Bumpy Start, The Pirate House, and the Cotton Exchange

Sunday, July 29th, 1984

8:30 pm: the sun sets.

Our (anti?)heroes begin to stir and slowly awake over the next hour to another sun-free evening. Ashem, Ellis, and Patrick each begin their nights going out to feed.

Patrick went out to a bar, quickly seduced a woman, fed, and erased her memories of being fed upon. Once he finished he headed to the Pirate House to grab a private dining room and meet with the other kindred left in the city at the regularly scheduled time.

Ashem began the night by smooth talking one of his marks into demanding his investment back before leaving the house to hunt. Ashem then smooth talked a man into following him to an area where they were alone. Once there, Ashem’s supposed victim mugged him. Finally relying upon his vampire powers, Ashem tricked the mugger into running off with chimerical money. He then gave in and stopped into a local bar – “The Tool Shed” – to find some easy prey. Hopefully a meal was all Ashem picked up there.

Ellis went hunting for animals and caught the best animal of all in a bear trap: a human hunter. Unfortunately that wasn’t Ellis’ goal, but his hunger got the best of him and he drank a decent amount from the trapped hunter’s buddy – maybe a mouthful or two too much. He eventually got ahold of himself, freed the trapped hunter, and left the two by the road, where I’m sure they got the help they needed. Right?…R-right?

Saturday July 31st, 1984

12:00 am

Around midnight Ellis showed up at the Pirate House and met up with Patrick in the kindred-only dining room, who he was extremely surprised to see (and who was extremely surprised to see Ellis). As it turns out, the two knew each other from the security consulting world as mortals – and here they are, a little over a year later, meeting as vampires. Small world! After some catch up, Ashem joined them and the three talked about the sudden disappearance of the Savannah elders.

Eventually the trio was joined by Daniel, an obviously wounded man who, when you were near him, clearly smelled of smoke and burnt flesh. Obviously worried about sharing too much, Daniel asked for their help, explaining that the rest of his clan was gone – likely dead – after a fire was set in their Chantry – the Cotton Exchange – during the day. Daniel said that he escaped into the daylight, and the Sun took a toll on him that he found very difficult to heal. With his elders missing and likley dead, he asked for the trio’s help in figuring out what happened.

Throwing caution into the wind, the trio joined Daniel on a trip to the Cotton Exchange that someone who apparently wanted to kill at least some vampires knew to be a vampire residence. This person or group also knew enough to strike during the day. So what could possibly go wrong?

Once inside, Daniel shared that normally everyone except him wouldn’t have been able to get inside the building, at least not without substantial injury, and the same was true about mortals. This was possible because of Tremere Blood Magik. (ooOOOoooOoOO) He guessed that whoever broke in and burned it down during the day knew enough to counter the rituals that had protected the Chantry.

Patrick began to investigate and turned up the source of the fire – two melted plastic gas cans – as well as an interesting fact pattern: who or whatever started the fire appeared to have waited while it burned, trying to avoid burning the room behind the largest door. Then the intruder(s) broke into the room behind the largest door and ransacked the place. (Though Patrick was able to find some kind of fancy, likely magical, stake that he tucked into a pocket inside his jacket.) Daniel said that there were LOTS of magic items in the Chantry that were now gone – either stolen or destroyed in the fire.

Ellis found drops of blood on an exposed nail that had not burnt up in the fire – suggesting that it belonged to someone who came in after the fire, or who was otherwise protected from it (as was her blood). Daniel tasted it and, using Tremere Blood Magik, (ooOOOoooOoOO) determined that it was from a mortal human, but noted that it tasted odd. Daniel explained that the blood was somehow “peppery.” Just then, the three heard what sounded like a woman screaming outside of what was left of the Cotton Exchange. As the trio looked in the direction of the scream, the scene came to a close.

2:00 am

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Ellis's Embrace
Ellis Newton

It took Ellis almost a month to get home, and when he got there, it wasn’t really home anymore. A lot of things were going to be like that going forward.

At the outset, it had been a pretty regular business trip. He flew into the Detroit Metro and the company driver met him at the gate. From there, it was out to the facility. It was some kind of plastics manufactory; there were local environmental activists who claimed the manufacturing process put too many pollutants into the air, saying it was killing the planet. Ellis didn’t know if that was true, but he did know that these activists were breaking into the company facilities and damaging equipment. Pentex employees were showing up for work and all of the forklifts had had their steering wheels hacksawed off and the tires slashed.

It had been escalating. The company had hired extra security guards to patrol the facilities, but it was an added expense that they didn’t want to carry for long, and the turnover for nightshift security was pretty high. It did put a stop to the damage until the activists took advantage of Pentex’s need for new hires and got two of their own people hired in. It took them a while, but they were eventually put on the same shift, and then had unfettered access to the facility for almost 12 hours. They drilled holes in the boiling tanks, derailed the rollers on the feeding lines, dissolved tampons into the gas tanks of every vehicle on the lot. In all, they did a few hundred thousand dollars in damage. Pentext was thanking god for their insurance policy, but if they were going to be covered going forward, the underwriter demanded that they take their security seriously. So, Ellis.

He had the background. He was special forces, a military intelligence officer. He knew how to protect against incursions like this. Some of it was making it difficult to get in. Some of it was making it easy to catch the assholes who did it. And some of it was giving them a honeypot target that minimized the real damage while making it easier to catch the perpetrators. In this case, after three days of evaluation and discussion with management, Ellis suggested a few fixes, including running a 24 hour operation at lower capacity that would keep the facility with more people present than could permit anyone to do too much damage before they were stopped.

It was 12 hour days, followed by evenings at the White Horse, drinking whiskey until it was time to walk over to the Red Roof Inn across the street for the night and up the next morning for more of the same. The last night, after he had finished up business, and was clouding his head for the night’s sleep, there was a long legged woman at the bar with him. She had a wolfish smile and a hint of danger in her eye. Ellis had made the first move, and things had escalated quickly. 

He never actually got her name. They got into the room together, and the wind rustled the curtains as the camera panned away. But things did not go as Ellis planned. There was pleasure, ecstasy even, but there was also blood, and teeth, and ultimately, a long dark tunnel, only there was no light at the end. It only grew darker and darker. Darker than Ellis had believed it could get. And then darker still. Until there was nothing. Death had come. And he felt a presence. An offer was made. He could go back. If he wanted. But whatever lay beyond this darkness was not for him. Be it heaven, hell, or nothing, or something else, beyond the understanding of man. It would be lost to him, forever. But. He could go back.

And he accepted.

The next thing he knew, he was being crushed. He didn’t know where he was, but the smell and taste of filth and dirt was all around him. He could hardly move. He could sense things crawling, near him, on him, his mouth was full, and he tried to spit the dirt out, but there was nowhere for it to go. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t understand. His training had taught him to face the inescapable horrors of war with a cold steely resolve, to slow down, to take a deep breath and count. To closely examine the options he was face with, to truly grasp what was going on. And he fell back on that training now, to take stock of what he knew. And after a few seconds of rational though, Ellis realized that he had been buried alive. And then he panicked. 

His blood boiled, and a mixture of rage and terror and an insatiable hunger filled him with blind strength. He clawed at the soft earth, and snarled and wept and screamed, though there was no way for anyone to hear him. And after a time that felt endless, and which he could not track, he felt the soil give way, his hand breaking the surface of the ground, and he pulled himself up from the shallow grave into the moonlight, the wet, loose soil clinging to his body, his clothes, falling off of him as  he dragged himself loose. 

There were people there. He did not register more than that there were people there. Someone was shouting, cheering. Later, he would dimly recall that there was a fire somewhere behind him. But what he remembers. What he did notice. What he takes with him now, with every time he puts himself to sleep, is the woman who was lying at the foot of his grave. She was tied, hand and foot, gagged with a rope. Terror in her eyes, tears staining her cheeks, her clothes a crumpled and rumpled business casual, looking at him, her eyes pleading for him to save her. But he could not, did not. All he could do was smell the rich, heady blood coursing within her. Her fear only made her heart beat harder. And he knew in retrospect there was no way he could have heard it, but in the moment, and later in his dreams, he felt as though he could.

No hesitation, he had thrown himself on her, sinking his teeth into her neck. She spasmed in his arms, let out a slow sigh, and then went limp. And he drank and drank, until there was nothing left of her, until she was pale and light as the wind. And he felt the rage fade, and the fear recede, and the hunger, at least for that moment, sated. And he let her limp, exsanguinated corpse fall to the ground as he finally stopped and looked around to see the crowd of men and women looking at him, some of them clapping, and some of them engaged in conversation. And then one of them shouted something. And another came forward and clapped his hand down on Ellis’s shoulder and said, “Shit. I knew I should have bet on you. Anyway, welcome to the club.”

Ellis felt that rage again, sudden snarling, ferocious rage, welling up inside him. He wanted to snap this asshole’s hand off at the wrist. No. He wanted to bite it off. And he could feel himself about to. It wasn’t conscious, or controllable. He could feel the fangs in his mouth extending again. Shit. Fangs? He hadn’t even realized he had them until he thought about it. But looking down at the corpse still just at his feet, he could see the two puncture holes in her neck, just above the collarbone, blood smeared on her clothes around the dark holes in her flesh. They were dry as bone.

The crowd around him began to cheer again, this time with more enthusiasm, and he looked to where their attention was drawn. For the first time, he realized he was standing in a graveyard. Behind him, next to the hole in the ground where he had just come from was a headstone. There were headstones all around. And other people tied up and gagged, just like the woman… He shook his head. He didn’t have time to think about that. There was a hand coming up out of the ground three graves over from him, groping around, pulling, and a woman’s head, covered in fresh earth, emerged. She was screaming, dirt pouring off her, in her hair, falling out of her mouth. Her eyes were a bloodshot red, her mouth open, fangs extending, an animal fury on her face. There was nothing human in her at that moment as she struggled to free herself from the ground. Ellis would later learn her name was Shelby.

The people tied on the ground, and especially the man immediately in front of Shelby were squirming and trying to scream, but of course, they could hardly move, and any sound they could make was drowned out by the sound of the cheering around them. Shelby finally got herself loose and leapt for the man. Ellis shrugged off this asshole’s hand on his shoulder and jumped for the forward at the same time. He couldn’t believe what he had just done, and he didn’t understand what was happening, but he could at least keep it from happening again. He tackled Shelby sideways, just before she closed with the man on the ground.

Ellis didn’t see or hear what happened next, but he couldn’t move again. There were four faces looking down at him. One of them was the woman from last night. She was saying something. Another one of the faces looking down on him nodded impassively. He leaned close to Ellis’s face, looking him straight in the eyes, and all he said was “Sleep.” And Ellis slept.

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