MEETING FATHER JOHN
Father John Marrow is out hunting when the characters run across the partygoers. While they feed, he waits to see what kind of Kindred they are. When they have finished feeding, he approaches them. He quickly realizes that they are young and unschooled.
He is dressed in black and wears a priest’s collar. Casey and Katherine realize that they have heard of this priest – Father John Marrow is the pastor at Corpus Christi Church, and Casey also remembers that Father John performs midnight Masses. (A different priest performs the day services.)
Father John is willing to answer questions, but not out in public. He suggests that the group of them retreat to his church.
Corpus Christi Church is a small Catholic church. Unlike the buildings surrounding it, it is clean of graffiti and litter, but needs a lot of repair and upkeep.
The sign out front says: THE SHEEP WHO KNOWS GOD NEED NOT FEAR THE WOLF — MATT. 10:16. Father John leads the characters around to the back of the church and ushers them inside.
Father John answers all the questions the characters ask of him. He knows that they have only a limited time, so he tries to give them information that will aid them in surviving their meeting with Prince Vidal.
He tells the characters the following:
o A stake through the heart merely immobilizes a vampire.
o Garlic has no effect on the Kindred.
o We must sleep by day, and few forces can rouse us.
o We can subsist on the blood of animals as well as mortals.
o Crosses and other objects of the Christian faith repel us, unless we keep our souls pure of sin.
o All of us can bolster our strength and speed with the blood we steal from the living. Some of us can see or hear with perfect clarity, to the point of reading minds. Others can disappear from view entirely. I have even heard tales of Kindred becoming as mist or swaying their direst enemies to their sides with a glance.
When asked about other vampires or leaders among vampires, Father John states:
o Every city has a Prince, the eldest and most powerful Kindred in that city. Our Prince is a Spaniard called Vidal, and I expect you’ll be meeting him soon. If you are Catholic, keep to your faith. If you are not, I recommend you consider conversion.
The clock strikes one, and Father John pauses in mid-sentence. He quietly tells the players to not resist, and although they might be able to fight their way free, “they” will simply call you to them. Before the characters can ask him what he means, a loud knock sounds at the door. John opens the door and moves out of the way to allow another man into the room. The man is wearing leather pants and a white shirt, as well as a gold cross and saint’s medal around his neck. His head is completely shaved. He looks perhaps 20 years old, but he, too, is one of the Kindred. He could conceivably be much older. The flare of fear they felt when they first met John returns, but this time it is much, much stronger. The characters come to know this vampire as Alexander
Alexander motions the characters into his car, from Corpus Christi Church. If they resist, he assures them that they are in far greater danger if they refuse than if they accompany him.
On the way, Alexander doesn’t say much. He replies to the character’s question by telling them that they are going to meet Prince Vidal, who has some questions for them. Alexander drives the characters to an upscale residential area, and pulls into the driveway of a mansion. He steps out of the car and curses. A silver Mercedes sits in the driveway in front of his car. He mutters the word “Maldonato,” then turns to face the characters with a look of pity and resignation, and leads them up the driveway.
Alexander opens a cellar door in the back of the house and leads the characters downstairs. He opens a door at the bottom of the stairs, gestures you through it, then shuts it behind you. The room is pitch dark, but people can be heard moving in the blackness and there is a smell of wood smoke and incense. The characters fight back the fear telling them to flee, knowing that fleeing would only make things worse. After a moment, a deep, resonant voice tells the characters, “Kneel, and prepare to receive the mark of penitence.”
The characters smell ashes and feel fingers smearing something on their forehead. They are told to wear these ashes for the remainder of the night and for the entirety of the day to come, and warned that if they remove this mark and disobey the word of a Sanctified priest, they will feel the pain of fire.
As Vidal turns to face the group, each character feels their Beast cry out in sheer terror at the deadly opponent, who is the Prince. The man is a tall Spaniard, with Mediterranean features and broad shoulders. His slick, black hair appears wet, and he wears a neatly trimmed moustache and beard. He is dressed in a crisp black suit and meticulously polished leather shoes.
He asks for the character’s confessions.
The Prince listens carefully to each character’s confessions and blesses each of them in turn, stating that God forgives them even in their Damned state. He then suggests that the characters undertake an investigation on his behalf. And suggests that, perhaps, once they’ve shown their value on this simple mission, a more challenging, and rewarding, endeavor may be presented to them.
FROM THE GRAVE
Alexander waits outside to drive the characters. Before they leave, however, the characters are given money for supplies and go out into the city to get a change of clothes, a backpack two laptop computers and 3 cellphones. Katherine also pickpockets a wallet and uses the credit cards to activate wireless access on her newly stolen laptop. When they are finished acquiring supplies, they return to the mansion where Alexander waits to take them to their destination.
As the characters ride through the city, Alexander explains that he is taking them to a cemetery – a 18th Century graveyard, and that it means something to the Prince. People he knows are buried there, and someone has been doing voodoo inside the graveyard.
THE UNNAMED GRAVEYARD
The characters find blood on one of the tombs.
• Investigation of the monuments reveals tiny droplets of blood.
• Dimitri, now being a vampire, decided to taste the blood to gain information. This blood tasted good to him, but also flat and uninteresting. It conferred no Vitae and certainly not the quasi-erotic pleasure that the partygoers’ did. (Blood “spoils” very quickly for vampiric purposes.)
• The characters interrogate a local gangbanger, after a brief encounter with his friends, and find out that a woman comes here at night to “do voodoo crap,” which involves pouring blood onto the ground. He can’t describe this woman, however. He has never gotten a good enough look at her, and he actually seems to be afraid of her. He did see her stashing something in one of the monuments, however.
The characters move the great stone lid of the casket covered in fresh blood. Inside this stone casket, is a wooden coffin. Also, there are several plastic garbage bags, apparently containing clothes. The clothes are woman’s fashions, ranging from bargain basement to extremely expensive. Some of the cheaper clothes have blood and white powder on them. Sakura realizes that flour is often used to draw symbols in vodoun rituals, and chicken’s blood is also sometimes used in these ceremonies.
Alexander comes to pick the characters up, helps them clean up the mess they made of the gangbangers, gives them a phone number to contact him and leaves them to their own devices. He suggests they find a haven and keep their noses clean, reminding them of the need to remain hidden from mortals.
The characters find haven in an abandoned sanitarium for the day. Dimitri is awakened by something while the sun was still up. He sees a flash of movement behind him, but couldn’t tell what it was. As he approached its direction, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turns around in fear, but there is nothing there. He tries to wake up his fellow kindred who are still asleep, but they will not rise. He kicks Casey, and he stirs, apparently waking up to Dimitri’s kick. But as Casey turns around, Dimitri doesn’t see the face of his friend, but a hideous monster that makes even Katherine look human. It lunges at him and bites his neck.
Dimitri wakes up when the sun goes down, along with everyone else, unsure whether the episode was real or dream. As they’re leaving the sanitarium, however, he spots a small child’s body laying face down in the corner. He investigates and finds that the child is dead. He calls the group over, but no one else sees anything. As Dimitri looks back at the body in exasperation, he too finds that he sees nothing…
After Alexander listens to the characters’ story the night before, he contacts Maldonato, who asks to speak with the characters in person. The next day, after the characters wake from their slumber in the sanitarium, Alexander drives the characters to the front of a church, and tells them Maldonato is waiting for them inside. A silver Mercedes sits out front. Alexander says that Maldonato assumes many responsibilities, including hearing the characters’ report.
After the characters tell Maldonato everything they learned, he turns to the group, calling the voodoun woman the worst sort of blasphemer, and probably a follower of Savoy as well. He explains that Savoy is nothing more than a pretender, an usurper with a few followers who will be crushed in due time.
He asks the characters to find this voodoun woman defiling the cemetary, explaining that it would garner favor with the Prince.
Maldonato hands the characters a small ivory-colored card with a phone number printed on it. He gives the characters the keys to a fully loaded black van, large enough to transport all of them, which waits just outside the church. The van also contains about $10,000 in cash – a reward for their service to the Prince so far.
Newsgroups: Katherine researches on her computer, finding:
1. The graveyard has been featured on several “haunted places” documentaries and websites. Stories speak of the ghost of a widow who goes to the graveyard to pray.
2. A fire in the District last year claimed the lives of 10 people. The fire department ruled the blaze arson, but no arrests were ever made. Witnesses saw a silver Mercedes speeding away. (Maldonato disposing of their handiwork after destroying the vodoun-practicing Kindred.)
3. Researching similar fires turns up a psychic reader’s store that burned about six months ago.
Corpus Christi seems small and dingy after your visit to Maldanado’s church, but also safer somehow. Father Marrow introduces the character to Savoy.
Savoy explains that Vidal is a bigot — he dislikes blacks, the vodoun culture, and anyone who is different from Vidal. Savoy states that while he might not practice vodoun himself, it is an offshoot of his own faith and he respects it. He believes that Vidal is on his way out and will soon sink into a death-like sleep. (According to Savoy, this happens to most elder vampires.) He intends to take the reins of the city when Vidal sleeps, and he feels that allowing Maldonato to do so would be a disaster of Biblical proportions.
When told about the job given to them by Vidal, Savoy shakes his head, and tells the characters that the Prince is using them. He will help them find the woman they search for, but tells them if they turn her over to the Prince and his lackeys, she will be burned even as she screams for mercy, and if they want her to survive, they cannot tell the Prince her name or anything about her. He also says that if the Prince executes her, he’s doing so only because she follows a faith other than his.
Savoy gives the characters an address to a storefront, where he sometimes sees Mary.
The store is one large room. The floor is covered with soot and bloodstains, and the walls are decorated with strange symbols drawn in flour. At the front of the room, is a semicircle of candles and pictures of the Virgin Mary. Kneeling in front of those pictures is the woman the characters have come to find.
Mary is a black woman, possibly in her late 20s, but the disfiguration of her face makes her true age indeterminable. She wears a short skirt and a halter-top, and she has short black hair. She stares straight ahead at a large painting of the Virgin Mary, never even acknowledging the characters, her lips moving in prayer.
The characters question her, and she states that she didn’t know that the graveyard was special to the Prince and swears to remove her possessions and never return. The characters take Mary to Savoy, ignoring the phone calls from Alexader first, and later lying to him about finding Mary. Savoy vows to look after and protect Mary from Vidal, and he commends the characters for their bravery and charity. He recommends that they not offend the Prince, however, as Vidal is a dangerous enemy. Savoy, in return for protecting Mary, does ask for a favor – he would be grateful to have a set of eyes in the Prince’s circles.
Upon exiting Corpus Christi church, the characters find their van missing, and suspect that Alexander took it back when he discovered the characters gave the Prince’s prey to Savoy. They call Alexander to tell him their van has been stolen, and he offers to replace it if they would like to come to Vidal’s mansion. His voice sounds knowing to Sterling, and his tone is unsettling. Alexander also offers the characters a place to stay the night, but the characters, in fear of their lives at the realization that they’ve betrayed Vidal, and Alexander seems to know, decline all offers.
The characters seek safe haven (by foot) in an abandoned sanitarium, just outside the city. Dmitri is again haunted by the small, monstrous child that only he can see, but his fellow kindred wake him from his delusions.
With less than an hour before the sun rises, Sterling spots a silver Mercedes parked about 10 blocks away from the sanitarium. He recognizes this as Maldonato’s Mercedes. Without time to find another place to rest before the sun comes up, the characters attempt to fortify the sanitarium as much as possible. Before they can finish fortifications, sleep takes them, one by one, as the day comes.