New Orleans by Night

Chapter 4

While Hutch leaves with his brother to enjoy the first night of Voodoo Fest weekend, his friends Conor, Savannah, Terrence, and Belle go down to the river to try to find Dutch, the leader of the Brujah clan. Conor ends up getting them all lost in a bad part of town, where they eventually encounter Richard and Ottis. The two goons approach the companions, thinking this to be easy prey. But Savannah uses her Eyes of the Serpent power to immobilize Ottis. Richard's argument with Conor leads to the former going to the van and getting an orange to eat. After more arguing, Richard draws a pistol and shoots Conor, who slugs him in the face. Richard runs back to the van, but Terrence tackles him and holds him down as he screams and howls that his head's going to explode if he doesn't get vitamin C right now. Belle gives him his smoothie, which calms him down some. Then Terrence uses the Bone of Lies to get more information out of Richard, who admits that he's a ghoul but won't say who his master is. Belle asks to meet his master. Richard is uncooperative at first, but Belle and Savannah convince him otherwise.

And so Richard and Ottis take them to Mardi Gras World, a giant warehouse full of floats, costumes, and other party stuff. Inside, they find this building's sinister secret: a vampire named Raymond keeps about a dozen people here locked in cages. Conor Auspexes them and realizes that half of them are vampires themselves. After the visitors ask more than a few intruding questions about what's going on here, Raymond asks them to leave. During the exchange, Ottis mentions something about "the mage." Raymond promises that his two goons won't bother them ever again.

Next the companions go visit Marcel — or, rather, his childe, Anthony, who takes care of things in his absence. Morgaine is there, as well as a Brujah named Jake Almerson; another vampire, the painter known as Josua, sits in the corner tuning his guitar. As the party enters the prince's mansion, Jake takes his leave. Morgaine greets Belle and introduces her to Anthony. Savannah tries to introduce herself, but Anthony makes it known that Setites aren't welcome in New Orleans. Anthony seems annoyed at being bothered like this, and more annoyed that Conor hasn't gotten to the bottom of the abductions yet.

On the way out, Morgaine speaks with Belle about the Camarilla Traditions, and about keeping the Masquerade and not talking about vampires with mortals. Belle is curious about Julia's relationship with Karen and Morgaine, but when she brings it up, Morgaine gets so distressed that she breaks the window of her own car. After she calms down, Morgaine informs Belle that Anthony wants them to be a part of the Prince's Council. She explains that this council may not have Marcel’s best interest at heart, that maybe Dutch even put Christopher up to killing Detective Carter, and that the council might end up throwing young Christopher to the wolves, so to speak. Anthony wants Morgaine on the council to keep their power in check. Since he’s making a huge gamble here, placing her in this position of power and knowing full well that the Prince’s Council is indeed Marcel’s greatest antagonist, Anthony asks for the Toreador’s unflinching loyalty to the prince. The next meeting will be tomorrow night.

Belle goes home to check on Aunt Alma, but is horrified to discover her aunt cold and dead in the shower. Conor and Savannah investigate the house for clues and learn that whoever had been here left evidence from the Garden District Bookshop and the Lafayette Cemetery. Belle suspects that this was the work of Julia, who'd returned here to kill Alma out of spite.

As Friday night reaches its end, Savannah goes shopping for heavy curtains and feathers for her ritual. She and Belle go to the Bourbon Orleans Hotel and checks out a room for the next couple nights. They talk with Manon briefly, then go to their room. After securing the room against the sun, Savannah casts Wake with Evening's Freshness, and they both settle down to the sleep in the bathroom.

The search for Dutch continues Saturday night. Belle mentions that the Brujah might have ties to the Buck Kreihs Marine Repair, which is a front for a shady business; Savannah chimes in that she heard college students talk about a dog fighting ring there. Terrence gets angry at just the thought of it. After speaking with the gang outside, the companions are allowed an audience with Dutch. They're led inside the shop, where in the back they find a crowded room full of shouting, cheering people, and two dogs fighting in a ring. Dutch makes some rude comments about Terrence and Laura being "little dogs," and Terrence challenges the Brujah to a wrestling match. Dutch takes him up on it but uses Dread Gaze on him, which ends the fight rather quickly. After Conor suggests how unfair that was, Dutch assures that winning is more important than being fair. He agrees to sell Conor a box of silver shotgun shells. He looks to Savannah and claims that he’s not happy with the monopoly Sebastian and the Tremere have on magic in the city, and it would be nice to have more variety. He cuts a deal with Savannah: In exchange for her cooperation, he tells her that he will put in a good word for her with the Prince’s Council and allow her to stay in the city, despite what Marcel says. If Marcel raises a fuss about it, she can always come to the Brujah for support.

Shortly after their meeting with Dutch, Belle accompanies Morgaine to the Prince's Council meeting at the Preservation Hall. Situated in the heart of the French Quarter on St. Peter Street, the Preservation Hall venue presents intimate, acoustic New Orleans Jazz concerts almost every night. On this night, the Prince’s Council has arranged a private concert for themselves. Dutch’s ghouled bouncers see to it that no one else is allowed inside to disturb their meeting.

Karen, Dutch, Avery, and Sebastian start their meeting out by discussing what each of them knows about the abductions, and their concerns that Kindred are being abducted, too. Dutch asks Karen about Josua Cambridge, but she seems offended and silences him. Sebastian expresses anxiety over the Setite woman in the city and whether or not her influence might threaten his own.

Avery starts the conversation about Christopher; she thinks of herself as a protector of the weaker elements of the city, going out of her way to aid runaways. Dutch accuses her of taking in stray cats. Avery asks Dutch why Christopher has been hanging out with the Brujah so often instead of his own clan, and Dutch explains that it’s because Chris and Anthony don’t get along. While Chris is Marcel’s first childe, he has proven to be a failure. Anthony’s Embrace was meant to provide a more suitable successor to the prince.

Dutch votes that the Blood Hunt be called upon Christopher for breaking the first tradition. Because of this, Christopher must renounce his claim to the blood and meet his Final Death. Karen agrees that Christopher must be destroyed, but she also votes that Prince Marcel be held accountable for his childe’s actions, since technically Christopher has not yet been released; as such, his sins are Marcel’s to endure. Ever the conformist, Sebastian declares that Christopher be destroyed. Avery is upset by how easily the other three turn on their own. She leaves in a huff, disappearing into the shadows.

Seeing her opportunity to split alliances here, and gain the favor of both Marcel and Anthony, Morgaine offers to clean up this mess herself. She explains that she can use social media to make it seem like Christopher’s attack at the Café du Monde was just a publicity stunt put on by some amateur filmmakers at the university. She can even “encourage” some students to create the film. Sebastian loves and supports the idea. While Dutch is frustrated that there will be no Blood Hunt, he agrees that this could work. Morgaine says she admires his wisdom as much as his enthusiasm, and he graces the Council with the martial leadership it needs. Dutch responds positively to the flattery. Karen doesn’t like Morgaine’s idea one bit, but since the others are in agreement, she goes along with them. She asserts that her own Georges Enterprises would be more effective at spreading this fake news than Morgaine’s; after all, her company controls two of the biggest media outlets in Louisiana.

Sebastian brings up the Setite problem again, but Dutch shuts him down.

After the council adjourns, Belle meets back up with Terrence, Conor, and Savannah, who are about to head over to Nine Mile Point to meet with Uriah Travers.

Uriah’s rickety old mansion is half sunk into the bayou, its front door secured by a metal gate, the blackened bars of which have been sharpened into jagged edges. The windows, in addition to being bricked up, are blocked by heavy furniture and years worth of junk. The interior of the mansion is mostly hidden beneath cluttered filth. Uriah is more than just a packrat. His Malkavian delusions convince him that he’s a werewolf and he leaves behind portions of his soul on whatever he touches (including furniture, papers, bits of trash, knickknacks, and even people). To protect himself, he collects, buys, steals or kidnaps anything he enjoys or might happen to touch, thus keeping his “soul” from scattering into a thousand tiny fragments.

Uriah is suspicious of Terrence — and his friends — and doesn’t trust their reasons for coming to visit him. He refuses to come close or touch anyone. At the mention of the disappearances in the city, however, he talks much more freely. Uriah is already well aware of the regular visits by the elder representatives. Moreover, he is also partially aware of the reason why. From his own sources around the country, Travers has learned that a growing number of elders are engaging in diablerie. He has also been told that the elders’ vampric vitae supply originates in New Orleans. The question is: who is providing the supply for the elders?

Uriah can provide a lead. He knows that the Nosferatu are known to be the eyes and ears of the city, but they have been strangely ignorant about these abductions. Perhaps his guests tonight would get more answers out of Avery, Martin, and Roger. Terrence explains that it was the Nosferatu who sent them here in the first place. Uriah smiles at that.

As there are many tribes of Lupines, Uriah knows about the Uktena, masters of the dark and forbidden knowledge, the foul Black Spirals, and the extremely honorable Silver Fangs from the West Coast. When Terrence explains that he and his friends would like to find the NOSTF safehouse and Mr Grisham, Uriah suggests a route that will allow them to avoid the Uktena tribe altogether.

The companions thank Uriah for his time and his help, then they wade back through the labyrinth of junk to the exit.

Belle really wants revenge for the murder of her Aunt Alma, but killing Julia would be defying the Sixth Tradition. Savannah wants to speak with Sebastian about learning new rituals. Terrence wants to find Charlie Grisham, the witness kept at the safehouse who might be the final clue in this abductions mystery, but he's cautious about traveling through Lupine territory.

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