Venetians Blind

[the following letter needs to look stylish, in copperplate.]

Beckett

What is Beckett? Is he scholar or savage? Antiquarian or troublemaker? Player or tool of the Jyhad?

None know his origins, his true identity, or why he commits the acts ascribed to him. Yet his acts are deemed great.

Why does Beckett do what he does?

The Capuchin knows. Beckett needs answers as the fledgling needs blood. His obsession will one night lead to his knowing too much.

That is the moment Beckett will know God, Caine, the Alpha and the Omega. He will know the truth of how our world begins and ends. He will not share these revelations for, like the Capuchin, he will know that by sharing, the end will begin.

Beckett knows the danger, but is compelled.

He must travel to the Black Monastery. There, Ambrogino Giovanni found his evidence of the end, and has been maddened ever since.

Would Beckett turn down this chance at a mystery?

Sincerely

The Capuchin

[Letter ends]

[Art notes: A detailed map showing a route from basel to an unmarked part of the Jura Mountains]

[below text follows in Beckett's diary script]

The Black Monastery, Jura Mountains, Switzerland

Okulos didn't at all appreciate our heading here. He's been reticent since the Capuchin's letter found its way to our Cairo lodgings, calling the expedition "a clear idiot trap." One reason I brought him, Anatole, and Lucita along. If someone plans to ambush me in the Swiss Alps, I have the support of those I trust.

Since landing in Basel, Lucita's sure we've been followed. Despite her concerns, there's no trace of a stalker. We made introductions to Frankel, the sole Kindred resident of Basel. In rather ominous fashion, the Nosferatu refused to grant us hospitality when we made our destination of the Black Monastery clear. Our subsequent journey to the monastery was eventful, driving on closed mountainside roads through a blizzard.

In all, everything leading to the Black Monastery has seemed quite portentous, to those who believe in omens.

The Black Monastery is an intact complex, the appearance of which reflects a château-turned-fortress in the Middle Ages. It overlooks an Alpine pass, sitting on a crag concealed in the shadow of a mountain. We could only drive so far, before having to hike two hours to reach its sealed gates. It's clear this fort's remained hidden for years.

Weather and time were the greatest impediment in our reaching the monastery. No sooner had we arrived than we were forced into sleep. The interior of the compound is reachable via a tunnel, leading to a building with no windows, clearly designed for the resting of our kind. Lucita barred the tunnel door from the inside once we entered, before finally resting.

[above text in Beckett's script ends]

[Art notes: a "photo" or sketch of the black monastery in a position as described in the above text would be excellent. Make it look ominous, near-inaccessible, and imposing.]

[below text follows in Beckett's diary script]

Roaming the halls of the monastery this evening has been as fascinating as searching any sunken tomb. It's a treasure pit, somehow undisturbed. Anatole was quick to mention "there may be a reason nobody comes to the Black Monastery," but even Okulos' caginess is dissipating as we study the old literature within, some in languages we can’t identify. Much has been destroyed by damp, but a quantity remains.

Lucita's been drawn to the chapel, identifying tools necessary for archaic versions of Sabbat ritae. Anatole's discovery of a hidden chamber containing a werewolf subjected to taxidermy brightened his mood, until an hour later the silence we've all been experiencing was punctuated by bestial howls from the mountain. We've again sealed ourselves in, and Lucita’s given us handguns with clips containing silver bullets.

[above text in Beckett's script ends]

[Art notes: a "photo" or sketch of the vast library of the Black Monastery, with Okulos and Beckett rummaging within. The same of a bastardized christian shrine of worship, adorned with chalices, torture devices, and a depression where a fire pit once sat, as lucita examines the room. Another of The stiff werewolf as anatole beholds it, and foreign lettering marking the walls of the small round chamber surrounding it.]

[below text follows in Beckett's diary script]

Anatole was the first awake, rousing us all. Something was hammering the thick, black, iron doors from outside, making dust fall from the ceiling as the compound itself appeared to shake. None of us were keen to investigate the source. We heard no howling and only one point of impact, to my mind ruling out a pack of lupines.

An hour's passed and the banging’s subsided. Unable to do much about it, we all return to our rest.

[above text in Beckett's script ends]

[Art notes: The thick iron tunnel doors from without, bearing christian symbology and a massive dent. The dent isn't a small area - it appears the doors were being caved in entirely, as if subject to a great external force.]

[below text follows in Beckett's diary script]

The doors appear to have been subject to an indefinable external force — less the hammer blow I saw in my mind than an immense pressure of equal dimensions to the doors. They won't stand another day, so we've requisitioned the stuffed werewolf's home. It's snug, but will do the job.

Searching the libraries and studies has revealed texts referencing all manner of significant tomes. While nothing here stands as the final piece to some unsolved puzzle, many of the works written by such luminaries as Mateusz Gryzbowsky assist a great deal in furthering our knowledge.

Lucita and Anatole have likewise discovered much regarding the former inhabitants' interest in the Paths of Enlightenment. It appears the Black Monastery was the haven of several pioneering philosophers among our kind, experimenting in Paths now practiced in Sabbat circles.

Lord Mendel was the keeper of the library, and has extensively chronicled the timeline of the vampires here. The Warlock's journal abruptly ceases in 1896, wherein he writes about the familiar noises we heard during the day. He writes plainly as a Tremere not bound by Clan, and makes frequent references to having had ownership of the Book of the Grave-War. The fate of Lord Mendel is something to research further, along with his ties to Dr. Mortius.

Of interest to me — given the Capuchin's communication — is my discovery of a hidden cache of documents penned by Ambrogino Giovanni. Tightly bound, and hidden in a simple Old Testament, Ambrogino seems to have been in communication with something writing responses to his entreaties here at the Monastery. Many of these documents were unreadable, but one remains.

[above text in Beckett's script ends]

[Art notes: The below documents can be overlapping in places. They represent a fraction of the documents taken by Beckett from the monastery, and need to look old (from the 17th and 18th centuries). I've called all of them "treatise" so you can identify them ]

[Treatise: Below text follows as a fragment, handwritten by mateusz gryzbowsky]

Caine be thy paragon thou shalt emulate or surpass, not worship.

No end be served when thou crawls and grovels at thy Dark Father's feet.

Thy hierarchy and elders' writ enforces frailty.

Caine is thy Father, yet Caine be elder, and due subject of thine rebellion.

As Caine rebelled, thou shalt rebel.

Understand thy form and role under God, embracing thy predatory role, for it be divine.

The predator doth not swallow pride and accept naught as elder deigns it so.

Weakness be imposed on thee.

For thee to surpass Caine, thou shalt study Caine and surpass all weakness.

The Path of Caine leadeth us to rightful divinity.

Strength be the core of all Cainites.

Thou must consume the weak to become strong.

The Amaranth be a single path, yet not thy single journey.

Let the snake, spider, and crocodile be roles that guide.

Eschew the fury of the wolf, lion, and bear.

The studious predator be thine model.

[Above Treatise in Grysbowsky's handwriting ends]

[Treatise: Below text handwritten by Lord Mendel]

1662 - 1667

Among the departed were Ambrogino Giovanni and Marianna of the Clan of Death, not simultaneous, and both seemingly headed to London; Lady Melisande of the Clan of the Rose, subjected to experimentation by Lady Vadislava, and now a torpid stump within our chapel; a coterie of ancillae seeking Giovanni, not all of which confirmed names or Clans, now also headed to London.

Among the arrivals were the aforementioned Giovanni and pursuers; three score Carthusian monks and nuns; Dark Selina of the Learned Clan.

[Above Treatise in Mendel's handwriting ends]

[Treatise: Below text handwritten by Lord Mendel]

1892 -

Among the departed were Ambrogino Giovanni of the Clan of Death, known to be headed to the Carpathians; Lady Vadislava of the Clan of Shapers, known to be traveling with Giovanni; Julian Sanders; fell to his Beast for the final time, his existence extinguished by Giovanni.

One arrival being the Capuchin, seeming interested in Giovanni's studies before disappearing without graces.

The Monastery now haven to only three, and a low number of kine, Master Frazier volunteered to take his leave and find new minds in time for the next century.

Mendel

[Above Treatise in Mendel's handwriting ends]

[Treatise: Below text handwritten by Lord Mendel]

1794

The Book of the Grave-War makes plain the need for diablerie to survive the coming Gehenna. My communications with Vasantasena corroborate the book's belief, even though we're in agreement the consumption of souls will weaken the resolve of a vampire's humanity.

Vasantasena travels here to view the Book of the Grave-War. We intend to discuss how a soul can be consumed while humanity retained.

[Above Treatise in Mendel's handwriting ends]

[Treatise: Below text handwritten by Lord Mendel]

1803

The ritual is complete. When a mortal leaves the monastery, he finds it impossible to reenter. This location is now concealed entirely from mortal eyes, and the eyes of my Camarilla brethren, so Windham claims. His debt is now paid.

Vasantasena agrees with me a Cainite's best hope for victory over the Antediluvians is through humanity. Gryzbowsky argues for the eminence of the predator within.

Duality is sought by Vasantasena and I. We explore meditation as a method of suppressing the Beast until a time comes to unleash it.

[Above Treatise in Mendel's handwriting ends]

[Treatise: Below text handwritten by Lord Mendel]

1896

The noise in recent days and nights has disturbed our rest to an unparalleled degree, forcing the Lady Veridis to depart and investigate the source.

Veridis has always been stoic. As she begged for sanctuary from without, I realized the threat beyond must be terrible indeed. I attempted to save her, but her body was missing. The sound of her voice seems produced by the darkness itself as a lure.

I am greatly afeared. Despite being surrounded by the annals of Cainite research, and possessing Thaumaturgies unmatched in this land, I cannot cease the uncontrollable trembling of my soul as spectres rage outside. The book confirms Antediluvians rise to strike those who know how to eradicate their number. I have made of myself such a target.

[Above Treatise in Mendel's handwriting ends]

[Below text handwritten by Ambrogino Giovanni, with responses on the same paper by someone using a different hand. Ambrogino's lines in plain text, replies in italics. Paper should have tight creases across it, as if it's been folded many times into a small square.]

Sacrifice of vitae call you to this place so draped in spirits of the dead.

I am here.

I seek the Sargon Fragment and apotheosis.

You shall not have it.

The Fragment survived Lazarus and Mallotte. You will reveal to me its location.

I shall not.

You will be bound and pained until its location is revealed.

I fear not your torture and invite you to bind me.

What do you desire in exchange for the location of the Sargon Fragment?

For you to bind and torture me, Ambrogino Bastard Son.

Reveal to me the location of the Sargon Fragment.

Sacrifice to me the heart blood of an immortal and you shall receive answers.

[Above Ambrogino Treatise ends]

[below text follows in Beckett's diary script]

Despite our having mere hours before dawn, Okulos' recent discovery has us packing. Beneath a flagstone, he discovered a funerary urn. Upon removing it from its position, I witnessed the urn leap from his hands and shatter upon the stones. The scattered ash contained another bound document of Ambrogino's.

The exchange gets increasingly disturbing. Initially I assumed the writer on the other end some manner of spirit, but I'm beginning to suspect otherwise.

We're taking what we can. I'm prepared to dig deep into the frozen earth to give us a place to rest that isn't here, should the need present itself.

[above text in Beckett's script ends]

[Treatise: Below text handwritten by Ambrogino Giovanni, with responses on the same paper by someone using a different hand. Ambrogino's lines in plain text, replies in italics. The replies get increasingly scratchy and frightening on this one - Don't feel the need to capitalize where i capitalize. I'm doing so for emphasis, but the finished work can just look like an angry hand has grabbed the pen. Paper should have many creases across it as if it's been folded into a small square.]

Sacrifice of endless life call you to this place so draped in spirits of the dead.

I taste the soul as it joins my ranks.

I seek the Sargon Fragment and apotheosis.

Augustus' Endless Night will bring forth Gehenna before your divinity can be reached.

The Khazar's Diary shows me the Endless Night will bring my divinity.

The Khazar's Diary lies.

What is the truth?

The DECEIVER Augustus Giovanni knows the Diary's LIES and will hide his CORPULENT form in the Shadowlands to outwait Gehenna. He will be the SOLE RULER once annihilation is assured. He is TREACHERY INCARNATE!

Give me proof the Endless Night will cause Gehenna.

For that you must seek one of the Cainites who CONSPIRED against ME.

The members of the Conspiracy of Isaac were eliminated once their purpose was served.

At least one remains in the house within which it began.

How does the Conspiracy know of the Endless Night?

Claudius persuaded the Conspiracy to accede to my DIABLERIE by convincing them the Endless Night was MY construction! LIES! ALL LIES! MY DIVINITY DENIED ME!

You will be bound to this place for as long as the urn of my sacrifice stands.

When it empties I shall be seeking YOU first, AMBROGINO BASTARD SON. Until then, any who make domain in THIS PLACE shall be given one day and one night before I DEVOUR THEM.

[Above Ambrogino Treatise ends]

[below text should be presented as an email chain]

From:                   magnusal@sunburst.de

To:                       beckett@schreckNET.nod

Cc:                       aisling.sturbridge@fiveboroughs.com;

Subject:               RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Conspiracy of Isaac

Babbling tongues cut out, electronic ears and eyes removed from all but we three, yes, I can tell you where the Conspiracy of Isaac met.

A town in the Carpathians housed the manse of one Claudius Giovanni. I know, for my once brother — Marchettus the Bold — was put to death by our grandsire for his involvement in the affair.

You will not find Stavlachia on any modern map, for it fell to Inquisition and then plague, which struck people and land. It has not been inhabited since. To my knowledge the buildings yet remain, though Marchettus spoke of the entire region being haunted by terrible demons. He was quite mad by the time his head was removed.

You may find it some 10km north of Neagra. I trust that whatever you discover, you will share only with myself, Aisling, and your boon companions. Do not print this, as I am given to understand you print every other damned piece of correspondence.

Albertus Magnus

Childe of Procet

Childe of Critias

Childe of Menele

Childe of Troile

 

 

From:                   h.ruhadze@bloodspot.eg

To:                       beckett@schreckNET.nod

Cc:                       aisling.sturbridge@fiveboroughs.com; magnusal@sunburst.de;            eyeonyou@schreckNET.nod

Subject:               RE: RE: RE: RE: Conspiracy of Isaac

There are members of my line who also desire that information. We will pay highly for it.

Ruhadze Imports & Exports

 

 

From:                   beckett@schreckNET.nod

To:                       aisling.sturbridge@fiveboroughs.com;

Cc:                       h.ruhadze@bloodspot.eg; magnusal@sunburst.de; eyeonyou@schreckNET.nod

Subject:               RE: RE: RE: Conspiracy of Isaac

Aisling — for once, it's not your Clan. Your persecution complex is not required.

Anyone else?

 

 

From:                   aisling.sturbridge@fiveboroughs.com

To:                       beckett@schreckNET.nod

Cc:                       h.ruhadze@bloodspot.eg; magnusal@sunburst.de; eyeonyou@schreckNET.nod

Subject:               RE: Conspiracy of Isaac

Has Anatole accessed your email, Beckett? I'd prefer my Clan's name not being dragged through the muck.

Aisling Sturbridge

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

Christopher Hitchens

 

 

From:                   beckett@schreckNET.nod

To:                           h.ruhadze@bloodspot.eg; magnusal@sunburst.de;    aisling.sturbridge@fiveboroughs.com

Cc:                           eyeonyou@schreckNET.nod

Subject:               Conspiracy of Isaac

Dear all,

I apologize for the mass electronic mail.

You all know me to not be one of Gehenna's many prophets. I would hope that in our dealings, you have found me to be trustworthy and not prone to exaggeration. I believe you to be the foremost experts in our shared field. We have Okulos to thank for collaborating our addresses.

In short: I need to find out where the Conspiracy of Isaac met to plan the destruction of the Cappadocians.

Why? I suspect — and it's a strong suspicion — one Clan is planning something that may hurry what our "oracles" are terming Gehenna. I cannot release my evidence for this reasoning, but ask sincerely that if you know where the Conspiracy met, you pass that information on.

Sincerely,

Beckett

[above email chain ends]

[below text follows in Beckett's diary script]

The Giovanni Manse, Stavlachia, Romania

None of us were sure of what we'd find in the manse. Ambrogino's communication alluded to a member of the fabled Conspiracy of Isaac remaining here, but with no local kine from which to feed I doubted that would be the case. Additionally, Ambrogino's communications must have taken place over a century past. Much can change in that time.

We've been discussing at length the being with whom Ambrogino was conducting his exchange. Anatole immediately muttered "Cappadocius." Lucita shot him down. Okulos opined Ambrogino may just be insane, which we can't rule out. I've yet to find definitive proof of any Antediluvian's existence, but I concede that for the other party to hold any weight with Ambrogino, he must at least be an ancient spirit. Certainly it follows that the same spirit was responsible for battering the doors during our stay. Perhaps the fabled Capuchin was sending Ambrogino on a merry chase, just as he does with us.

The manse itself is a miserable place. Built in the Venetian style and seeming wholly out of place in this dreadful mountain range, the crumbling home of Claudius is what I would gather to be the prototypical "haunted mansion." It would likely draw more attention were the Kindred of these parts more inclined towards the dark arts.

We split into pairs to search the manse. For my part, I turned on my recorder, not that the transcript reveals much.

[above text in Beckett's script ends]

[below text should be presented as a transcript of a recorded conversation]

[Recording begins]

Beckett: The ceiling within this once-grand dining hall has caved badly, and if not for the support beams would likely fall at the slightest provocation. Make a mental note not to enter the rooms above this one without due care.

Anatole: Noted. What's this?

Beckett: Anatole has lifted from the rotten rug a metal collar, sized to fit a human.

Anatole: It still bears the stain of blood. I can see its former bearer before me. She's a sad beauty, and frightened. A Cainite feeds from a tap inserted through the hole in the collar, here.

Beckett: Interesting. The furniture hasn't fallen to woodworm too badly. The table is actually amazingly pre —

[loud crackling]

Anatole: The table speaks!

[loud crackling]

Anatole: O-ho! Rest your hands upon it, Beckett!

Beckett: I pick up nothing.

Anatole: You do not? The table speaks to me in the tongue of one Lord Leopold Valdemar, formerly of the Conspiracy of Isaac!

[loud crackling]

Anatole: It's very unhappy, Beckett. You try being a haunted table in an empty house.

Beckett: Ask it — no, ask him; what does he know of the Endless Night?

Anatole: Lord Leopold Valdemar, I hear your words. Tell me what you know of the Endless Night and Gehenna.

[loud crackling continues for in excess of 10 minutes]

Anatole: I know I say it a lot, but Beckett — Gehenna is here.

[Recording ends]

[transcript ends]

[below text follows in Anatole's handwriting]

As commanded, so shall I write. Beckett the skeptic requires I write what I recall of Valdemar's rant, as apparently my vocal impersonation of a 700-year-old Dane wasn't helpful.

Valdemar spent much of his time begging to be freed from his tortured imprisonment in the house. He claims his spirit is in fragments around the entire building, Ambrogino having split him thus to ensure his constant punishment. I didn't think to ask how this freedom could be attained, which was regrettable, thinking back on it.

He states he's being punished on behalf of the entire Conspiracy, the majority of whom have met Final Death. Valdemar says that for years Ambrogino's worked on supporting the Endless Night, which he believes will allow wraiths to pass freely from their world to ours, thus positioning the Giovanni as gods. What Ambrogino only came to realize, by questioning Valdemar's ghost, is that Uncle Auggie — the pointman for the Endless Night — actually plans for it to scour the world clean of all Cainites. Valdemar was told by Claudius and Augustus how this grand ritual would allow what he called "reapers" to claim all the spirits caught in situ — being Cainites — while Cappadocius and Japheth ascended to divinity as the survivors and perpetrators of this genocide. What poor old Valdemar and his fellow Conspiracy members didn't know was the Giovanni bloodline just needed the Cappadocians out the way so they could perform the ritual, or specifically: so Claudius and Augustus could perform the ritual.

My take: The Cappadocians weren't entirely innocent victims. Sure, the majority didn't care or know about any of this, but those in Cappadocius' circle knew he was a maniac happy to sacrifice his entire Clan if he felt it'd draw him closer to godhood. He planned for "divinity," even if it wasn't the kind of divinity Auggie and friends wanted with the Endless Night.

Understandably, Ambrogino felt snubbed by Valdemar's revelation and vented his ire. The Endless Night was apparently quite close in the 19th century. The wars of the 20th century have helped even further. The more violent deaths, the closer the Endless Night comes to taking place.

This isn't the Gehenna prophesied in the Book of Nod, but as Beckett points out — why should there be only one end? The Antediluvians rise and eat us all. Caine wakes up and destroys us all. Sutekh enslaves us all. God judges us all. Our ending is coming.

I'm going for a lie down.

[Anatole text ends]

[below text should be presented as a transcript of a recorded conversation]

[Recording begins]

Lucita: Neither the Regent of the Sabbat, nor the Inner Circle of the Camarilla are going to act upon a penned exchange between one Necromancer and an unidentified correspondent, or the notations of a known Gehenna prophet. Your trail ends here.

Beckett: Gehenna is not preordained, but we know Ambrogino's ability. If he's taking this seriously, we should also.

Okulos: Lucita's right. What do you think either of the Sects are going to do with this information?

Beckett: Is it naive of me to think they'd investigate the Giovanni?

Lucita: The Promise of 1528 forbids the Camarilla from doing so. Convenient for the Giovanni to arrange such a contract.

Beckett: The Sabbat hold no such accord.

Lucita: The Sabbat can't take their eye off the Camarilla to throw the Black Hand at Venice on two flimsy pieces of evidence. Sejanus is too occupied with his own grandstanding. I'm sorry. Whether truth or not, you can't go to the Sects without expecting to be laughed down or betrayed to the Giovanni.

Beckett: I'm beginning to see the Capuchin's point about not being able to share this information.

Okulos: In his letter he said sharing would lead to the end of all. Perhaps if the Giovanni found out you knew, they'd hurry the ritual. Perhaps start it early. Do you think it beyond that family to set off a bomb if they thought their nights were numbered?

Beckett: Fuck it all.

Lucita: There's only one vampire who knows what we know.

Beckett: He's an egomaniacal psychopath.

Lucita: He's the only Giovanni who might discuss the true nature of his Clan.

[Recording ends]

[transcript ends]

[below text follows in Beckett's diary script]

Guggenheim Museum, Venice, Italy

I've achieved many things since our trip to Stavlachia. Meeting Ambrogino has not been one of them. Elusive in the extreme, my desperate curiosity had me contacting the Baron Samedi.

I received nothing from the Baron himself, and Cesare has not yet returned. Yet, this week I did receive the attached letter.

[above text in Beckett's script ends]

[the following letter needs to look stylish, in copperplate.]

Beckett

The Capuchin is pleased by your hunt. It is as the Capuchin said it would be.

Ambrogino visits the Peggy Guggenheim Collection the last Sunday of every month, without fail.

Sincerely

The Capuchin

[Letter ends]

[below text should be presented as a transcript of a recorded conversation]

[Recording begins]

Ambrogino: Answer my question. You think this place devoid of spirits that could rip you to shreds?

Beckett: I came here seeking you. Not to be threatened.

Ambrogino: Do you intend to return what you stole from me?

Beckett: That was months ago, and has long since left my possession. It wasn't theft. I found it on the dead bodies of —

Ambrogino: Two of my retainers.

Beckett: I know of the Endless Night. The Capuchin told me I could meet with you here.

Ambrogino: The Capuchin does not speak for my whereabouts. The Endless Night! You know little, indeed.

Beckett: I know of your chat with Cappadocius and Leopold Valdemar.

[sound of glass smashing followed by an alarm]

Ambrogino: Back off, and silence the alarm! You will fix this frame once I am done!

Security: As you say, signor.

Ambrogino: I will snap your neck against this wall and have ghosts devour your soul!

Beckett: You ignore the claws I could be using right now to cut through your admittedly strong arms, Gino.

Ambrogino: You set that spectre upon me! For months I have been forced to watch my every move!

Beckett: Perhaps binding it to the monastery was a bad idea.

Ambrogino: Tell me what you know!

Beckett: Put me down and we will talk. Put me down. Down. Thank you. I've come to the conclusion Augustus intends to demolish Kindred worldwide and bring about Gehenna.

Ambrogino: The Endless Night is not Gehenna.

Beckett: Cappadocius seemed to think so, if that was him writing to you.

Ambrogino: It was a piece of Cappadocius. The part that entered the Shadowlands millennia before Augustus devoured the other half. The part I now elude by setting it upon others from my Clan.

Beckett: That's how you lose your tail? You must love your family. For how long does it last before this remnant of Cappadocius hunts you again?

Ambrogino: Weeks at the most, but I am strengthening my defenses. I will bind it yet. You tell me now your intent.

Beckett: My intent is to present this to the Camarilla Inner Circle or Sabbat Regent and direct them to your founder's actions. To do so I need a respected member of your Clan as support. Reluctantly, that brings me to you.

Ambrogino: Do you not think I've thought along those very lines already?

Beckett: Then which Sect meets your preference? Together, we can reveal Augustus' plan and leave it to the Sects to take action as they see fit.

Ambrogino: I did that half a century ago, ciuccio, when I exhausted all other options.

Beckett: The Camarilla didn't believe you?

Ambrogino: I took it to their Inner Circle when they held their meeting in this city. Shortly after Cappadocius' destruction, an apparently more reliable informant told them the Endless Night was his scheme, now thwarted. This is why the Cappadocians were never invited to the Camarilla’s table. The Camarilla was loud in its proclamations that we Giovanni were Devil-Kindred, but the Founders had already made their minds up. They knew Cappadocius was mad, and wanted him and his brood replaced with a more reliable, self-contained group. Exeunt Cappadocians. Enter Giovanni. Only Camilla Banes of the Malkavians believed me, and a Malkavian hardly makes sturdy support. I left in a rage and was fortunate Augustus never heard of the events. The Inner Circle has a leak directly to the Mausoleum, but he's long been within the Shadowlands, biding time for what we know will come to pass.

Beckett: And the Sabbat?

Ambrogino: You have heard of the Harbingers of Skulls?

Beckett: My knowledge of them is limited, but more seem to appear every year.

Ambrogino: Cappadocians hidden away in the Underworld long ago. I could not find an audience with any Cardinal. They care only for Antediluvians. To their mind, ours was destroyed along with Lasombra and Tzimisce. The Capuchin arranged my meeting with one of these Harbingers. I knew him — this Gentleman — in the 13th century. His face changed but not his voice. Unlike others, he believed what I said. His request was for the location of each Giovanni actively pursuing the Endless Night ritual's completion. I still feed him this information to this night.

Beckett: You sell out your line to diablerists? I implore Augustus' destruction, but not your entire Clan!

Ambrogino: This is where we differ greatly, Beckett. You are shortsighted. I see opportunity. The Harbingers strike whomever I so choose. If another Necromancer possesses something I want, has angered me, or does — as I say — pursue the Endless Night? He can expect a visit from beyond the Shroud by hungry Lazarenes.

Beckett: Are you satisfied your method will stop the Endless Night from taking place?

Ambrogino: [laughs] No. But the Red Sign will help me survive it, should it come to pass.

Beckett: You've secured your own existence and to hell with the rest of us.

Ambrogino: Did you truly expect anything different? If you want to be assured of the Endless Night's failure, cross over to the Shadowlands and destroy Augustus. Of course, for that you'd need competent and trustworthy necromancers. I understand they're difficult to find.

[Recording ends]

[transcript ends]

An endless Gehenna

The Mnemosyne seek truths as bees seek pollen and nectar. Aristotle de Laurent would have vampires believe that, like him, Beckett is one of these rare Mnemosyne. Possibly a bloodline, more likely a cult, the Mnemosyne are compelled to solve mysteries related to their kind. Beckett is lured into such a hunt by the Capuchin, his curiosity forcing him across Europe on a journey taking him into some of the murky depths of Clan Giovanni's past, and possible future.

The Black Monastery was a site of study and experiment. Used by pioneering Sabbat to analyze and codify the Paths of Enlightenment, the denizens of the monastery met with mixed success and frequent danger. The Sabbat who sequestered themselves within the monastery were often of disparate philosophies and temperaments, resulting in frequent bloodshed. The successes from the monastery were lauded by the Sword of Caine, until civil wars afflicting the Sect made philosophy a lesser focus. By the close of the 19th century, the Black Monastery was abandoned. No vampires visiting it after that point are known to have returned, possibly due to the presence of the powerful spectre of an Antediluvian believed to be devouring all who remained for longer than a night.

In 1444, the Conspiracy of Isaac met at Claudius Giovanni's manse in Stavlachia to plot the fall of the Cappadocians. As far as the vast majority of the conspirators were concerned, Cappadocius and his childer had to die to prevent Gehenna from taking place. As far as Claudius Giovanni and his sire were concerned, Cappadocius was obstructing Giovanni ambition. The Conspiracy successful in its motives, the next stage for Claudius was to begin removing the conspirators who still existed. The majority were handled at a dining extravaganza held at Claudius' manse, as the centennial celebration of the Cappadocian purge. Of those who escaped the trap, most remained plagued by spirits until mad. Only two made it out unscathed, their fates mysteries to all as they spend their nights hiding from the Giovanni who know what they know.

At the height of the Inquisition, members of the Red Order swept through Stavlachia and put innocent and guilty alike to the torch. Claudius retreated to Venice as plague hit the suffering population. Wild spirits of murdered Cappadocians sometimes rise to ravage the area. Even the Tzimisce Bishop of the surrounding region — Lady Zara Slatikov — sees the empty place as a tomb, advising those travelers she permits in her domain to afford it a wide berth.

In Giovanni domains, the Necromancers pursue the cause of the Endless Night with an unmatched dedication. If the ritual is completed, the world will become a plaything to the Giovanni. If others were to realize the Giovanni aspire to hold command over all life and death, it's likely the Necromancers would be met with severe reprisals. Not many know the motives of Augustus Giovanni or his anziani. Few would believe it without proof.

Ambrogino knows the Endless Night will signify a Gehenna of sorts. Despite his bravado he's far from keen on the ritual's completion. Carefully, he plans an escape route, perhaps recovering mortality via the mysterious Red Sign, or fomenting dissent within his own Clan and recreating the Conspiracy of Isaac, with him in the role of Augustus, and Augustus as Cappadocius. Beckett, meanwhile, is left with the most damning information he could hold, and while he'll likely leak it to influential vampires, few will take it seriously.

Chronicles ooze from the cracks of Giovanni aspirations. Following are ideas you could utilize:

• A coterie of prominent Boston Giovanni disappears overnight and wraithly servants seem unwilling to trace them. Fellow Necromancers are forced to investigate the group’s preferred haunts to discern their whereabouts. Within one haven the profane Book of Coming Forth by Night is recovered. No sooner do the Milliners discover the book, than word leaks of Harbingers of Skulls being sighted within Boston. A panic falls across the Giovanni as this bloodline picks off those who make contact with the book, said to include part of the Endless Night ritual. No response is sent from Venice when urgent aid is requested, leaving the Milliners to look outside their Clan for allies.

• For centuries, tales of the Black Monastery have tantalized philosophers from all Sects. The monastery is a nigh-mythical pilgrimage destination for any who wish to walk a Path of Enlightenment. Now the Ventrue antitribu Master Frazier wishes to charter an expedition to rediscover the monastery and its contents. Time and again he’s searched the Alps, never to locate it. He knows it’s hidden from the eyes of mortals, but seeks a coterie or pack of enterprising vampires who can locate the hidden complex. The reward on offer is to be the first vampires in over a century to read the secrets within its walls. Frazier knows of the dangerous number of lupines in the region, but does not make this clear to his charges. The monastery itself is now haunted by a multitude of hungry ghosts, left in the wake of the spectral Cappadocius rending a tear in the Shroud as it recently broke free.

• A mortal makes a foolhardy investment in the barren region of Stavlachia, intending on prospecting and opening a series of salt mines. When the mining crew unearths a mass grave, they casually throw the bones on the slag heap and continue their dig. The horde of spectres rising following this deed is unheard of, even in Venice. The entire province is swiftly befouled, the miners paying the price for their ignorance. Few remain sane enough to accurately report on the events following, but news reaches several Cainites with local interests. Zara Slatikov is convinced the land bears the effect of the demon known as Kupala, and wishes for a pack to see to its purification. Necromancers take notice when it’s heard Claudius Giovanni once made his domain in Stavlachia. With a potential cache of his compiled knowledge there, and wraiths to be harvested, Venice sends forth childer to investigate. Meanwhile, the investor relays all he can to an immortal relative before being driven to psychological extremis by the spectres dogging his every step.

• One of the Camarilla Founders was the Malkavian Camilla Banes, who even now preaches adoration for "the martyr" Cappadocius. Her collected mental infirmities blind her to the Antediluvian being a delusional, unscrupulous, and vindictive cult leader. When she became aware the Giovanni hoodwinked the Camarilla — the Endless Night being their scheme rather than that of their forebears — she pledges vengeance for her beloved. Banes begins to engineer the systematic persecution of Giovanni within Camarilla domains, through orders passed to Malkavians within her expansive web. Some commands are filtered subtly, where others are blatant in their discrimination. As various Camarilla cities become pointedly cold toward the Giovanni, Banes doesn’t realize or care she’s gradually pushing the Clan to the welcoming arms of the Sabbat. Very few vampires are aware of the political stakes at play, but those who are face a series of dangerous choices. Some wish to discover who’s perpetrating this campaign against the Necromancers, while others vigorously utilize the excuse to eliminate Giovanni enemies. The question of how the Inner Circle will react when they realize the Camarilla is being steered without their consent may soon be addressed.

• The Sargon Fragment was destroyed in 1666, but Ambrogino Giovanni never stopped his quest for apotheosis. Giovanni’s confident a reflection of the Sargon Fragment exists on the other side of the Shroud: a shadow copy of the Chaldean text purported to contain Cappadocius’ ritual of the Anointing. He also knows Augustus and his small legion of bound childer, wraiths, and other monstrosities awaits him there, and is reluctant to make the journey himself. If he can find dupes willing to cross the Shroud and explore the shadow reflection of London, he will amply reward them with whatever is in his power to give. They won’t be the first vampires he’s sent on this insane mission. It could entail crossing paths with one of the most powerful Necromancers to have existed, in the form of a hungry, violent Uncle Auggie, whose own minions seek the same text.

“Everything will be perfectly quiet…”

Should the Endless Night come to pass, Gehenna will have arrived in a form unpredicted by the majority of seers. Antediluvians do not rise, Caine does not emerge, the young do not devour the old — God does not sit in judgment. The world we know changes completely. When the Shroud ceases to exist, wraiths do not pour from a singular source. The Skinlands and Shadowlands merge; wraiths instantly possessing the living, structures crumbling beneath the weight of shadow architecture extant for millennia now made manifest, souls becoming the only currency, and Augustus Giovanni sitting dominant. This is an outcome few desire. Here are some ways it can play out:

• The Endless Night arrives exactly as Clan Giovanni intends. As wraiths appear in the Skinlands, the Clan stands ready to bind them all, forming an army with which to dominate the world entire. The first targets of the Giovanni are the pillars of the Sects, who become subject to unpitying torments until finally being put to Final Death, at which point their souls are bound. Other Kindred are forced to flee the suddenly godlike Giovanni. Several small resistance groups attempt to take down the Necromancers, but none stand a chance. Only when former enemies from all sides of the Jyhad come together do the remaining vampires gain a single hope. To survive, they must steal the knowledge of Necromancy from the Giovanni and beat them at their own game. To do so will require perilous feats and more time than any remaining vampire believes they have, but by destroying Augustus and his lieutenants, and repairing the Shroud, they may be able to return the world to a semblance of normality.           

• Cappadocius was correct in his assessment of the Endless Night. The Shroud drops, and the wraiths — rapacious and merciless — commence freeing the souls from the living and the dead. The first to fall are the Giovanni, the wraiths swift to remember centuries of torture at their hands. The wave of death spreads, infecting living and undead alike. Spirits are liberated from bodies, most being consumed by Oblivion. Augustus is the only vampire immune to the plague, due to a deal struck with powerful wraiths in the Underworld. This Endless Night lives up to its name, representing a hopeless situation in which the struggles to endure are the sweetest, and most desperate. Kindred and kine alike thrash for survival, some burning out like stars, others trying every trick to maintain their existence. They watch all life crumble away before them, as every sanctuary falls to the Endless Night.

• The Endless Night releases the spirits of the dead, just as the Giovanni hope — but what follows is a great "fuck you" to the Venetians. The wraiths turn on their masters, revealing heretofore underplayed abilities in soul manipulation. The true masters of Necromancy are the ghosts. Now that there's no barrier between the land of the living and that of the dead, the dead feel it's time to play. The Giovanni collapse in the course of nights, few outside the Clan understanding what befalls the ever-introverted Clan. No army of wraiths takes over the world. The spirits prefer to observe and manipulate the living, using the resources, rites, artifacts, and information inherited from the now enslaved or destroyed Giovanni. The "Clan" that emerges is made almost entirely of puppets of the dead, only some of the minor families of the Clan avoiding notice.