The Dead Walk

[BELOW TEXT FOLLOWS IN BECKETT'S DIARY SCRIPT]

Marche de Fer, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

I try to keep up with the trends of the kine, but more and more their developments and innovations bewilder me. I had to be helped by a mortal to the website Okulos suggested. She could only see error messages on the screen, but immediately I spotted an invitation in the otherwise jejune internet diary entry Okulos asked me to review — an extract from the Shaal Fragment in my possession, accompanied by my name and a location. I don’t recognize the name of the writer, but Port-au-Prince is a city I’m excited to be revisiting.

Haiti's a country contested by Followers of Set, Serpents of the Light, Samedi, and Lasombra antitribu. The turbulence is ever-present. The kine in Port-au-Prince are a people marred by poverty, stuck in a depressing position of constant civil unrest. Street violence is commonplace away from the few upscale districts. Rolling blackouts keep things interesting in this crowded port city, to say the least.

This former tourist hub no longer receives cruise liners packed with Americans; the crime levels put off all but the most adventurous travelers. The masses in this city therefore provide an adequate, if stagnant, herd for the vampires who prey upon them.

I visited the country during the slave revolt of 1803; I was a different vampire, more compelled to insult my hosts. I recall impressively offending the Setite commissioner Jean-François. I’ll keep my head down, for experience has shown that Snakes harbor grudges.

[MARGIN NOTES IN LUCITA’S HANDWRITING]

The last I heard, Jean-François spurned his Clan and joined the Black Hand.

[LUCITA MARGIN NOTES END]

These nights, the Samedi of Haiti are a great source of conjecture. Oddities find their way into the vogue of our kind until their destruction, it seems. For bloodlines lacking allies, extinction looms around every corner. They’re outsiders, after all.

To interview an aged member of one of these groups is beyond tempting. Bloodline genesis is an intriguing field of research, and the Samedi are fascinating.

Without grandeur, I'm confident I can track the elusive Baron for an interview.        

[ABOVE TEXT IN BECKETT'S SCRIPT ENDS]

[BELOW TEXT SHOULD BE PRESENTED AS AN EMAIL]

From:             eyeonyou@schreckNET.nod

To:             beckettmnemosyne1@schreckNET.nod

Cc:    

Subject:    RE: My email

You show the technological aptitude of a Luddite. Evidently the purpose of a password escapes you, as you've added it to the end of your email address.

I'll change them both, and call Cesare to confirm your new details. He’s booked in the Coconut Villa on Vitel’s dime. We might as well use it until he ends up ash on the White House lawn.

[MARGIN NOTES IN ANATOLE’S HANDWRITING]

Don’t get in debt to Lucius Sejanus.

[ANATOLE MARGIN NOTES END]

Talk of Samedi presence is high on the NET. Refugee camp numbers increase along with — get this — "zombie sightings." I've attached a photo of one of these "zombies" for your amusement. Some Ivory Tower high-ups believe the Samedi are systematically eroding Haitian political stability, the economy, and general public health, just so their prey becomes more pliable and desperate.

Personally, I think the mortals are as much to blame as any Kindred.

It may have been the chief Samedi writing the blog entry. Maybe he wishes to discuss your Shaal Fragment. If so, I don't know how he found out you obtained it.

There's a code in the blog entry that implies you should meet at Le Palais National d'Haiti on Saturday evening.

Okulos

[ABOVE EMAIL CHAIN ENDS]

[ART NOTES: SHAKY PHOTO OF A ROTTING ROMERO STYLE ZOMBIE CHOWING DOWN ON THE NECK OF A VICTIM - ACTUALLY DRINKING BLOOD RATHER THAN EATING, BUT BE AS CLEAR / UNCLEAR AS YOU LIKE. THIS IS A NIGHT-TIME PHOTO WITH A DISPLACED PERSONS CAMP AS THE BACKGROUND]

[BELOW TEXT SHOULD BE PRESENTED AS A TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDED CONVERSATION]

[Recording begins]

Beckett: The National Palace is a deathtrap. Severe cracks cut through the structure and deep into the earth. The Palace was hit by God knows what when this country got torn between Sects, Clans, and bloodlines. The way the air rushes down there, and the earth contracts and expands, make for eerie sounds. Some Serpents of the Light saw fit to destroy the Haitian president's former seat, among countless other things. No sign of the vampire who invited me.

[MARGIN NOTES IN LUCITA’S HANDWRITING]

What do you suspect are at the bottom of those deep fissures? Wasn’t this place an Elysium when the war started?

[LUCITA MARGIN NOTES END]

Talley: I tend to use the names of mortal killers for aliases.

Beckett: For the purposes of the recording, a conceited Lasombra just poured from the shadows in a way not dissimilar to effluence from a sewage pipe.

Talley: Hardly fair, old boy.

Beckett: I'm here researching the Samedi bloodline, Talley. You may have invited me via an unnecessarily convoluted route, but my actions here serve my own purposes. I already passively do your master's bidding in my every action, compiling information on the Jyhad, which I'm willing to share with any Kindred — not just Vitel. The tabs you're keeping on me are starting to piss me off.

Talley: There are no tabs on you, Beckett. I’m not here at Sejanus' behest. But he does theorize that forging a bloodline prevents one from being beholden to a Clan founder. It's an interesting hypothesis, shared by your friend Aristotle. I brought you here because I thought it would be enlightening to test the theory. You’re more likely than a known Sabbat button man to gain an audience with the Samedi anyhow.

Beckett: So now you're working for someone else. Your steadfast loyalties must win you many friends.

Talley: I take contracts from multiple sources. Haven't you seen the stories in the newspaper?

Beckett: I have, in my first week here. Nevertheless, I'd prefer to work without your company.

Talley: We'll both go in the same direction. Better we watch one another's backs in a country of hostile Cainites. The Cobras are attempting to rout spies working for their Setite cousins. You won’t be exempt from their persecution, and they’re among the most unpleasant Cainites with whom I've had the displeasure to associate. Recall that I worked as bodyguard for Vykos, to put that statement in its correct context.

[MARGIN NOTES IN ANATOLE’S HANDWRITING]

Serpents of the Light are an awful breed. Fanatical in their devotion to Caine; He speaks to them both night and day.

[ANATOLE MARGIN NOTES END]

Beckett: If I see so much as a flickering shadow, I'll be moving to rip your arms off.

Talley: I'll be on my best behavior. Consider this an exploratory expedition into the heart of darkness. The horror. The horror!

Beckett: For the purposes of the recording, the self-amused Keeper just disappeared. I’ll be staking him by the time we’re done in Haiti.

[recording ends]

[MARGIN NOTES IN LUCITA’S HANDWRITING]

As a skilled bodyguard, Talley is unmatched. But would I trust him to not stab me in the back? Hardly.

[LUCITA MARGIN NOTES END]

[ABOVE TRANSCRIPT ENDS]

[ART NOTES: THE FOLLOWING EXTRACTS NEED TO READ LIKE TORN OUT COLUMNS FROM NEWSPAPERS. THE ARTICLES GO ON, BUT HAVE THE ENDS CUT OFF. THEY CAN BE PLACED THROUGHOUT THE CHAPTER, UP TO THIS POINT.]

Children go missing from SOS camp

By Clément Duval

A group assumed to be representing The National Front for the Creation of Future Haiti abducted more than 100 children from an SOS camp near Croix-des-Bouquets. Heavily-armed militants arrived at night to steal supplies and kidnap the children. No ransom demands have been released.

The rebel group has killed and maimed thousands of people since its inception in 1993. The abducted children are predominantly Christians. The reasons for the kidnapping are unknown, but witnesses assured reporters and law enforcement that this group is responsible.

The militants have attacked schools before, but this is their first attempt on one of the SOS camps since freak natural disasters and the recent instances of mass urban violence broke out. It's alleged the group has taken the children into the hills north of Boucan-Carré.

Prominent Houngan claims the return of children within a week

By Laurent Ojeda

In an exclusive interview, respected Houngan Papa Emmanuel has declared Haiti's missing children will be returned within the week. We met Papa Emmanuel upon his boat, where he assured us he'd tracked the perpetrators and would see to mediating the victims' release.

In his decades of service to our country and faith, Papa Emmanuel has never before given us reason to doubt his devotion.

Children returned to SOS camp - A nation celebrates

By Michele Girard

Haiti celebrates and mourns as 98 of the 110 missing children abducted from the Croix-des-Bouquets SOS camp have been returned physically unharmed.

All the children appear to have undergone a psychological trauma, as they've said little of their terrible ordeal. One girl said "the 12 others won't be coming back," but then became increasingly upset and was heard to scream about "the Bokor's zonbi."

The 98 brave children will be treated to the best care the Red Cross can provide.

[NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS END]

[BELOW TEXT FOLLOWS IN BECKETT'S DIARY SCRIPT]

Barbancourt Rum Distillery, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Neither Talley nor I found joy in tracing the trail of the Baron in “traditional” vampire nightspots. Being in a country where the Kindred suspect everyone is a Setite means spying, asking extremely circumspect questions, and engaging with mortals in the patois of our kind.

We were fortunate to discover one of the Giovanni, who saw more benefit in assisting than selling us to the Lasombra antitribu on the coastline or the Serpents of the Light in the city.

[MARGIN NOTES IN LUCITA’S HANDWRITING]

Talley’s lucky you didn’t sell him out. The number of antitribu he’s responsible for murdering is obscene.

[LUCITA MARGIN NOTES END]

Stephanie de Horacio Pisanob explained every single Elysium of Port-au-Prince fell victim to the conflict between Haiti's Kindred players. The Baron hasn't visited the capital since. Apparently he blames the majority of the violence on signs of ancient vampires showing their displeasure. Stephanie believes he's not returned due to Cobras suspecting his alliance with the Setites. She's his only contact with the city. We’ve been told the Samedi these nights now prey on the widespread camps set up for displaced Haitians.

[MARGIN NOTES IN LUCITA’S HANDWRITING]

I’ve heard the Baron knows a thing or two about Serpentis. I doubt the Serpents of the Light taught him.    

[LUCITA MARGIN NOTES END]

Stephanie provided coordinates of the domain of one of his childer, named Josette, and advised we head north, into the wild. She encouraged us to avoid vampiric werespiders and a bloodthirsty mortal militia.

Stephanie's stare convinced us of her seriousness. We paid her well with Vitel’s money.

[ABOVE TEXT IN BECKETT'S SCRIPT ENDS]

[ART NOTES: BECKETT'S PHOTOGRAPHS OF BOUCAN-CARRÉ, THE RIVIERE DE LA ARTIBONITE, AND THE WILDERNESS NORTH OF IT. LOOKING FOR A REALISTIC, MILITARISED FEEL TO WILD HAITI. A MIXTURE OF CAMOS, GUNS, VODOU, CHURCHES, AND PERSECUTED PEOPLES. NONE OF THE PHOTOS SHOULD SHOW TALLEY (HE'S A LASOMBRA,) BUT TALLEY MAY BE THE PHOTOGRAPHER IN SOME OF THESE, SO SHOW BECKETT. REALLY AIMING FOR A PHOTO COLLAGE OF THEIR ROAD TRIP FROM PORT-AU-PRINCE TO TREKKING IN THE WILDERNESS, DRINKING BLOOD FROM BAGS.]

[BELOW TEXT SHOULD BE PRESENTED AS A TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDED CONVERSATION]

[Recording begins ~ distorted due to high volume of car engine and roughness of road]

Talley: Firstly, don't mistake Sejanus for some Lasombra antitribu. He's definitely not [unclear].

Beckett: Do you take issue with the antitribu?

Talley: Certainly. They betrayed my Clan by not supporting the Sabbat in its time of need. The unruly Anarch Revolt scared them. My great-grandsire Boukephos was a childe of [unclear] had reason to fear diablerie it would be him. Yet he joined the Sabbat. He recognized the right of it. None of this one true [unclear]

[MARGIN NOTES IN LUCITA’S HANDWRITING]

Boukephos was destroyed in Philadelphia during the Camarilla-Sabbat War last century, I believe. As much a philosopher as he was a tyrant, it’s in some ways unfortunate he fell to assassination. The Malkavian antitribu Abraham Wolff turned out to be an agent for the Camarilla. Such is the way of things when you let Lunatics get too close.

[LUCITA MARGIN NOTES END]

Beckett: Your loyalties to the Sabbat remain [unclear].

Talley: [unclear] scheme of things, the Sabbat are right. They desire the elimination of the Antediluvians. Why would we not wish for the cutting of ties to such primordial monsters? But that's [unclear] collapses.

Beckett: How so?

Talley: Over the millennia, death cults have sprung up to dictate the end of the world and give themselves to their deliverers. Has the world ended yet? No. Have those deliverers ever been anything other than hungry bastards? No. Take the Tremere antitribu.

Beckett: [unclear].

[recording ends]

[ABOVE TRANSCRIPT ENDS]

[BELOW TEXT FOLLOWS IN BECKETT'S DIARY SCRIPT]

Approximately 20km north of Boucan-Carré, Haiti

We deposited the 4x4, paying the militia handsomely for its safety upon our return. To say they regarded the two of us incredulously would be an understatement.

No sooner had we arrived than we witnessed two women with children being brutalized. Bloodshed is commonplace. Talley — being inured to such activity — found a healthy mortal from which to feed. I fought back the urge to break necks.

I recalled rumors of the Tonton Macoutes’ reign of terror over these people. The names of the oppressors have changed. Their practices have not. I denied my Beast the desire to feed. These people have suffered enough, and likely continue to do so under the Serpents of the Light. I won't contribute.

Talley and I raided a Red Cross blood bank in Port-au-Prince before setting out. Cool box still on hand, I drank from the preserved stash.

[ABOVE TEXT IN BECKETT'S SCRIPT ENDS]

[ART NOTES: SKETCHES OF AN EMPTY VILLAGE, LEADING TO A MASS GRAVE ON ITS EDGE CONTAINING COUNTLESS INTERTWINED BODIES. ON THE GRAVE'S EDGE A CEREMONIAL DRUM AND A STANDING MIRROR WITH ELABORATE FRAME. ONE SKETCH SHOULD SHOW SUCH A PIT, EMPTY BUT FOR A FEW BONES, WITH CLEAR FINGER MARKS AND SCRATCHES UP THE SIDES WHERE THE DEAD HAVE BEEN COMPELLED TO LIFE AND CLAWED THEIR WAY FREE.]

[BELOW TEXT FOLLOWS IN BECKETT'S DIARY SCRIPT]

Approximately 40km northwest of Boucan-Carré, Haiti

Refreshing as it is to see even Talley recoil, the stench of death in this place is horrifying. You can't swat the flies away fast enough. Our cameras have stopped functioning for a reason neither of us can determine, so I've taken to sketching the sights.

We passed through two abandoned villages with the dead ignominiously displayed in mass graves. We discovered a further commune containing another pit, this one empty. There were marks where it appears the inhabitants of the pit climbed free. At the side of each pit, a ceremonial drum and wide mirror with elaborate frame.

[MARGIN NOTES IN LUCITA’S HANDWRITING]

The Samedi I’ve known are more adept at destruction than reanimation. It reminds me more of the Iberian Cappadocians.

[LUCITA MARGIN NOTES END]

We've crossed the paths of no one living.

[ABOVE TEXT IN BECKETT'S SCRIPT ENDS]

[ART NOTES: SKETCHES OF TWO KINDRED SKULLS MARKED WITH ELABORATE CRUCIFIXES PAINTED ON THE FOREHEADS.]

[BELOW TEXT FOLLOWS IN BECKETT'S DIARY SCRIPT]

Somewhere between Cajou Brule and the Riviere Mourne Rouge, Haiti

We slept in the earth of a gulley, covered by a dense canopy of trees. As night fell, we woke to find skulls atop our burial spots, both of which were adorned with Vodou or Christian designs. The skulls had fangs. As we examined our grave decor, an ambush was launched.

[ABOVE TEXT IN BECKETT'S SCRIPT ENDS]

[MARGIN NOTES IN AISLING’S HANDWRITING]

Beacons or wards. You don’t mark an area in such a way without good reason.

[AISLING MARGIN NOTES END]

Talley was staked with devastating swiftness, our attackers clearly identifying him as the combatant to eliminate first. With at least a dozen attackers in the trees, my first instinct was to flee. I could take the form of mist, yet instead I fought. It's been a long time since I've bloodied by claws.

 This is a diary account, and not some penny dreadful into which I'll pen heroics or the fulfilling taste of my attackers’ warm blood. Any such lurid account would be quickly cut short, as I became transfixed by the gaze and scaled body of one Jean-François, now a Serpent of the Light, it would seem. Hypnotized, I was forced to watch the Cobra take the huge form of his bloodline's epithet, jaw distending, fangs dripping acrid fluid as he approached. His retainers celebrated my impending doom.

That's when the zombies arrived.

Necromancy is a disgusting practice. Never before was I so grateful for its existence. From the tree line and the earth itself, the dead attacked Jean-François' retainers, some of the ghouls crumbling to dust when bony fingers encircled their limbs. These were animate corpses with vampires of the Samedi standing alongside.

Jean-François had trespassed. He slinked off as his militia fell, but I doubt this is the last time I’ll see him.

[ART NOTES: SKETCH OF A HAITIAN RIVER BARGE, FESTOONED WITH MORBID DECORATION. HAITIAN ZOMBIES SPARSELY DOT THE RIVERBANK, A FEW ARMED AND ON BOARD THE BARGE. A GLIMPSE OF BARON SAMEDI SAT ON A THRONE NEAR THE BARGE'S PROW.

SKETCH OF BARON SAMEDI ON HIS CHAIR. DESPITE HIS DECOMPOSING APPEARANCE, HIS CLOTHING SHOULD BE MADE UP OF VIBRANT COLOURS - SEE HTTP://THEMODERN-NERD.COM/THE-REAL-ZOMBIE-CULTURE/.  WE'RE NOT AIMING FOR THE LIVE AND LET DIE BARON IN THIS CASE.]

[BELOW TEXT SHOULD BE PRESENTED AS A TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDED CONVERSATION]

[Recording begins]

Josette: If he refuses to answer your questions, do not press him. Also, he prefers to speak in Creole, but will talk to you in French.

Talley: How can we express our gratitude for the rescue?

Josette: The Baron trades in favors.

Beckett: Wonderful. Beholden to another elder.

Josette: Bokor Samedi, our Baron and protector, I introduce the archeologist Beckett and the Hound, Sir Talley.

Beckett: We've travelled a long way to meet you, Baron.

Baron: Sit. We travel to an encampment near Martin, a settlement on the river. You have until we reach it to come to business. Kreyol pale, kreyol komprann.

Beckett: I'm chronicling the actions of Methuselahs, and veracity of the prophecies of Gehenna. You’re a rarity, as a bloodline founder who can be interviewed.

Baron: [laughs] The Baron, yes, but the first of his line? Surely you'd do better seeking Marconius in Strasbourg. I understand he's quite accessible for Sabbat of high standing, even if he calls himself Prince.

Beckett: We're not both Sabbat.

Baron: You're not talking like Camarilla. Gehenna? Methuselahs? All myths, are they not?

Talley: I’m Sabbat, but Beckett here is a leaf on the breeze.

Josette: We heard from Stephanie you were coming, hence the wards on your rest sites. She’s a rare flower in a garden of decay. [laughs]

Beckett: On the subject of decay, your appearance is not in keeping with the Baron Samedi so often described.

Baron: The top hat, cane, and so forth are obfuscation. When away from home, those I visit expect a show. If I were to apply makeup to this rotting visage, it would appear cracked and terrible. A fine suit would be ruined with leaking fluids. We know to disguise our nature in the courts of kings. Santi bon koute che [laughs]. But this is my home.

Beckett: To my original question, are you not the progenitor of the Samedi?

Baron: It’s a grand claim to make before my houngan, mambo, and zonbi. For what do you require this confirmation?

Beckett: A theory holds that a bloodline is no longer snared by the strings of Clan founders. The branching of the blood destroys the Clan curse some ascribe to Caine. If true, when the original curse stops, and where the new one begins, along with how that new curse is formed, are intriguing quandaries.

Baron: Mwen konprann. What if the Samedi are merely an offshoot of the Nosferatu? Surely our curse is identical, albeit with the strength of Samedi vitae forcing a similarity in appearance throughout the line. Have you considered that, zanmi?

Beckett: I find your bloodline possesses less commonality with the Nosferatu than the Giovanni.

Talley: Or Cappadocians.

Josette: A word not often used. Have you heard of the Infitiores?

[MARGIN NOTES IN ANATOLE’S HANDWRITING]

Have you noticed how he and Josette answer questions with questions?

[ANATOLE MARGIN NOTES END]

Talley: It's suspected they became the Harbingers of Skulls, now members of the Sabbat.

Baron: And who suspects that? Why would Cappadocians threatened with entombment by fanatics of their own Clan do anything other than welcome House Giovanni's purge? Byenveni, Mr. Giovanni! Pran tòch mwen! [laughs] The Harbingers are cousins. You can tell by our shared countenance! [laughs] But they are not those who escaped the purge. At least, not in the way the Infitiores did so.

Beckett: According to legend, the Infitiores were advised to not attend what became known as the Feast of Folly. Are you confirming they are the root of the Samedi?

Baron: I confirm nothing, zanmi. The only one who could confirm is the Samedi précurseur, and she is old. She sleeps. She is the greatest of the Mambo. She foresees the coming of the tide, from Peru, Mexico, the rainforest, and the earth beneath us. She blessed this place and called on Bondye and the Lwa to protect us. The Pisanob and Sabbat will have more to worry about than shapeshifters and civil war [laughs]. She’s keeping the tide beneath at bay. The recent civil and geological unrest was a prelude.

[ART NOTES: PHOTOS AND DRAWINGS SHOWING THE DEVASTATION WROUGHT BY THE EARTHQUAKE OF 2010.]

Talley: To what tide do you refer?

Baron: The houngan tell of a time before the Conquistadors, before the natives of these islands and the mainland were enslaved. Native blood-drinkers, zanmi. The Infitiores show you do not just wipe away millennia of monsters in a couple of centuries. The Giovanni are just the latest in the line of arogan ewopeyen. Gehenna comes, but only to those who cannot embrace the new age. My people have sung this song for generations.

[MARGIN NOTES IN LUCITA’S HANDWRITING]

Rubbish. There are no more than 13 Clans. Caine didn’t travel that widely.

[LUCITA MARGIN NOTES END]

[ABOVE TRANSCRIPT ENDS]

[BELOW TEXT FOLLOWS IN HANDWRITING ON BURNT-EDGED BROWN PAPER]

The Song of the Samedi

The tide is rising

Oh-oh-ohh

The sleeping dead awake

Oh-oh-ohh

From the cracks in the earth

They’ll be reborn

Pour the rum

And say the prayers

Oh-oh-ohh

Pour the rum

And say the prayers

Oh-oh-ohh

From Taíno, Yanamamo, Tepanec, Inca, Huancas, Hoche, Cañari

The tide will rise

The blade will fall

We pour the rum

And pray for everyone

[ABOVE TEXT ENDS]

[BELOW TEXT SHOULD BE PRESENTED AS A TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDED CONVERSATION]

Baron: Many know, but choose to forget. The Camarilla choose which Traditions to enforce. The Sabbat choose which prophecy to serve or denounce. Ou we sa ou genyen, ou pa konn sa ou rete. You know what you have, but you forget what is coming.  

Beckett: On the subject of the bloodline's founding —

Baron: [shouting] Ti moun fwonte grandi devan Baron! Do not press me, Gangrel!

Beckett: I apologize.

Talley: If I may rephrase: We gather you are not the founder, and the mambo to which you refer is torpid. Can you direct us to her sire?

Josette: If the Mambo Asogwe had a sire, it could be said to be Lazarus, the father of many bloodlines, or Strohmann, the hateful one.

Talley: Strohmann’s a powerful Nosferatu antitribu who claims Archbishopric of Berlin, despite it being a Camarilla domain. I could reach him.

[ABOVE TRANSCRIPT ENDS]

[THE BELOW SIDEBAR SHOULD RESEMBLE A TORN OUT ENCYCLOPEDIA ENTRY IN ARISTOTLE’S HANDWRITING]

Strohmann

Clan of the Hidden (antitribu); Ornbau *ca. 1245, Istanbul #1283, Childe of Alexius

S. was one of the first European vampires to captain a vessel to the New World, becoming known as a Cainite adept in moving vampires overseas. His covert sideline in escorting vampire refugees earned him a wealth in territory and boons, some members of Clans Salubri and Cappadocian parting with all worldly wealth to buy his services. S. also trafficked in humans, running a slave ship from Africa to the Caribbean. S. is known to have Embraced bound slaves, to see a fledgling turn and feed on the mortal fastened beside, thus replicating the Embrace repeatedly down a line. For unknown reasons, S. was forbidden from the North American continent by a near unheard of joint agreement by Cardinal Radu Bistri and Hardestadt in 1820. Since that time, S. has concentrated on marshaling Sabbat forces in Central Europe.

 [ABOVE ENCYCLOPEDIA ENTRY ENDS]

 [BELOW TEXT SHOULD BE PRESENTED AS A TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDED CONVERSATION]

Beckett: That leaves me with Lazarus, who, if rumor holds, was a subject of the Egyptian Setites. That's a lot of ground to cover.

Baron: [laughs] Think on this. If Lazarus had the power to deny his sire's wish, turning hundreds away from Kaymakli when the Antediluvian wished for his Clan to be corralled, did Lazarus not there and then make a bloodline no longer Cappadocian? The same could be said for those Lasombra who raged against the darkness, those Tzimisce who consumed their father. Strohmann is said to have played a part in the fall of the Hag. The river forks and the flow’s forever altered. The proof is always in the blood. Papa Emmanuel — bring vessels from which these two can feed.

Beckett: So these are the infamous zombies. They’re not as rotten as I suspected. They look like they've been subjected to mental conditioning.

Baron: Zonbi come in many forms. Some rot. They bring terror. Others serve. They are trapped behind their eyes as punishment. They also taste better.

Beckett: Samedi do not possess the gifts of mental domination. How do you produce such a placid response?

Baron: Vodou, zanmi. These zonbi are not the products of vampiric gifts, but the parting of body and soul. The Bokor such as I know well how to practice such arts.

Talley: Papa Emmanuel, eh? I read of your exploits. I assume you wear a kinder face when meeting the mortal press.

Emmanuel: Since the Serpents of the Light play for dominance in Haiti, we Samedi have been forced to war with them in our own way.

Talley: Your bloodline is at war with the Sabbat? You'll be crushed.

Emmanuel: Only the Cobras who overreach, Keeper. If they remain in Port-au-Prince, our conflict is done.

Beckett: If the tales are true, you've been creating armies of zombies to secure your domains, in Havana, Arequipa, Yucatán, New Orleans, and here. The Masquerade is failing wherever you send your decaying legion.

Baron: [laughs] Media loves our zonbi. They're masqueraded by popular culture. If the Camarilla deign to send a boy our way with a message of reproach, we will turn him grey and soulless, before returning him to his masters. The Camarilla have no place in our home.

Beckett: Were the empty villages, mass graves, and kidnappings the doing of the Samedi? Or did you rescue the children from the militia?

Talley: That appears to be Martin in the distance. It's been a pleasure, Baron.

Josette: He's about to —

 [sounds of crashing and shouting follow]

[recording ends]

[ABOVE TRANSCRIPT ENDS]

[BELOW TEXT FOLLOWS IN BECKETT'S DIARY SCRIPT]

Amani-y Beach, Saint-Marc, Haiti

Talley wasn't lying when he mentioned having a contract.

Our discussion was disrupted when he struck his target, Papa Emmanuel. I don't know if he was serving the Serpents of the Light, but he quickly decapitated the Samedi and immediately dove into the water.

I likewise jumped overboard as the barge capsized, becoming a mist before hitting the water. I could see the Baron falling to frenzy and didn't wish to become a target. I lingered, wanting to corner one of the Samedi who remained once the Baron had calmed.

It wasn't until near dawn that I was able to speak with Josette. I pled ignorance and innocence to Talley's actions. To her credit, she believed me, apparently having been a follower of my work for some time. She couldn't say the same for the Baron.

Recalling the Baron's preferred method of trade and knowing my precarious place in this country, now despised by Serpents of the Light and Samedi both, I offered any favor within my power.

The following night, Josette confirmed the Baron wanted me gone immediately, and I was escorted to the coast. For his time and the insult, he requested the entire content of Aristotle's research on the Samedi copied and sent to him, along with silence on the matter of our ever meeting.

[MARGIN NOTES IN ANATOLE’S HANDWRITING]

Too bad for Aristotle. I’ll head to his library and get what you need.

[ANATOLE MARGIN NOTES END]

I agreed to both of these things and called Cesare. He will box me up and store me in the jet in advance of flight tomorrow. It occurs to me that the Baron didn’t give me one straight answer. I seem to have made a friend in Josette, but I can see myself sifting through this enigmatic vampire’s words as we cross the Atlantic.

[ABOVE TEXT IN BECKETT'S SCRIPT ENDS]

[BELOW TEXT IS A LETTER IN TALLEY’S HANDWRITING]

B.

By the time you read this I’ll have already struck. No hard feelings. I wasn’t going to get close to Papa without the reputable Beckett by my side.

T-

[ABOVE LETTER ENDS]

[START: THE FOLLOWING YELLOW STATIONERY PAPER STUCK BETWEEN DIARY PAGES. BECKETT'S HANDWRITING AND SKETCHES. THESE ARE NOT YET ENCYCLOPEDIA ENTRIES, BUT MERELY BECKETT'S NOTES.]

Talley

Lasombra, *1324, #1355. Childe of Lord Leopold Valdemar.

This vampire is well known for his prowess in the field of murder, and occasional guard-dog duty. His battles with Lucita are widely known, now numbering half a dozen. Their clashes could be compared to sport, as certainly the two seem to revel in them. Lucita denies she enjoys such collisions, but in truth few test her in a way similar to Sir Talley.

If de Laurent's notes are to be believed, the mortal Talley was in some fashion kin to werewolves, albeit to an aberrant and shunned Lupine group. This perhaps explains his predilection for hunting them on their own territory whenever he has the opportunity.

Talley told me of his time as a knight during the Hundred Years' War, his activities against the French continuing before and after Embrace. His association with his sire was a brief one, as he swiftly came under the stewardship of the renowned Boukephos. Talley's acts on the battlefield were much acclaimed during that tumultuous period, pursuing the agenda of his Clan under strict commands of his Methuselah mentor, swaying battles and even assassinating monarchs — or so he claims.

Talley's best known for his service to notable Archbishops of the Sabbat. While recently he's appeared distant from the Sword of Caine, he refuses to assist the Ivory Tower in any capacity, still upholding the ideals of the Sect he joined upon its founding, even if he displays antipathy towards many of the vampires who populate it. Though he may disrespect a ward or boss, Talley would never renege on a contract. His "honor" won't allow it.

When a long-term employer meets their end, Talley always seeks a strong new leader. That spot is currently filled by Marcus Vitel, putting Talley in a peculiar position given his Sabbat rank and status. I suspect he works for another beyond Vitel, as it’s unlike Talley to hedge his bets with a wild card. The question of whom is one that Lucita’s keen to see answered. In the meantime, he travels the world performing tasks, never claiming more reward or acclaim than is necessary, before moving on to his next target.

I can scarcely imagine one such as Talley ever settling for domain and powerbase, despite his impressive age and ability. It's a rare thing for a vampire as old as Talley to still be consumed by wanderlust, but my suspicion is that if he were to remain static, his truly cold colors would rise to the fore. If he has a philosophy beyond “just following orders,” I’ve yet to witness it.

[ART NOTES: THERE'S A VTES CARD OF TALLEY, THE HOUND. PLEASE CHECK FOR REFERENCE. NOTE HE HAS SIX FINGERS ON EACH HAND AND THE BLACK SPIRAL TATTOO]

[END THE PROTO ENCYCLOPEDIA ENTRY]

[BELOW TEXT SHOULD BE PRESENTED AS AN EMAIL CHAIN]

From:             eyeonyou@schreckNET.nod

To:             beckett@schreckNET.nod

Cc:            h.ruhadze@bloodspot.eg

Subject:    RE: Lazarus Cappadocius

I find your formalities charming.

No need to pull strings — I’ve already been contacted by a Setite who wants to meet you. It seems your activities in Haiti bloodied the nose of a prominent Cobra.

I’ve copied the Setite in on this email. You’ve met.

Okulos

From:             beckett@schreckNET.nod

To:             eyeonyou@schreckNET.nod

Cc:    

Subject:    Lazarus Cappadocius

Dear Okulos,

We need to meet in Cairo. The bloodline trail leads to the Cappadocian known as Lazarus. I believe the Followers of Set are most likely to know of his whereabouts, if legends are true to history.

Correction: make that bloodline trails. No other vampires outside the Second Generation have so many bloodlines attributed to them. In his case the Samedi, Lamiae, and Harbingers of Skulls all potentially hold his blood.

Pull some strings to get me an audience with a Setite of note. I’m prepared to negotiate my research on the Eye of Hazimel, as a gift to assist in our parley. I know they’re interested in it.

We can meet at Naguib Mahfouz. I’ll be sure to drop in at 22:00 each night.

Sincerely,

Beckett

[ABOVE EMAIL CHAIN ENDS]

[ART NOTES: PHOTOGRAPH / SKETCH OF A HALF-BURIED TEMPLE IN THE DESERT SANDS OF EGYPT, ITS ROOF CAVED IN. BECKETT AND OKULOS WORK TO EXCAVATE AN ENTRANCE. LIT BY A FULL MOON.]

[ART NOTES: EGYPTIAN RELICS ADORNED WITH SETITE AND CAPPADOCIAN MOTIFS – THE SET ANIMAL ALONGSIDE SKULLS, OR SOMETHING MORE SUBTLE.]

[BELOW TEXT FOLLOWS IN BECKETT'S DIARY SCRIPT]

The Lazarus Temple, Saqqara, Egypt

I wonder what Marcus Vitel thinks when he checks his bank statement.

We’ve utilized an archeology crew, supplemented with Setite ghouls, and overseen by Hesha, Okulos, and myself, to excavate the reported temple of Lazarus. Hesha’s assured me that while the contents of the temple would belong to his Clan, I’m permitted to photograph, sketch, and note whatever I happen to see. Okulos is doing likewise.

Setite records assert that Lazarus sought succor with the Snakes due to their connection to Duat. His expertise assisted their own, and the two held a cordial relationship even as he invited the pilgrimage of others from his Clan to settlements surrounding Saqqara.

His temple was destroyed in a conflict with other Cappadocians, who sought to steal one of his most treasured artifacts and claim renown in the sight of their Antediluvian. If they were successful in retrieving this Sargon Fragment, their Antediluvian’s favor only persisted a short time. Cappadocius was destroyed two centuries later.

Hesha explained the temple was looted once in the 19th century by common thieves, as was another Cappadocian site in Luxor, after which they fell under the protection of the Setites, due to an accord held between the Clan and Lazarus, which appears no longer extant.

[ABOVE TEXT IN BECKETT'S SCRIPT ENDS]

[BELOW TEXT SHOULD BE PRESENTED AS A TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDED CONVERSATION]

[Recording begins]

Okulos: Mummified bodies. At least 30, by my count.

Beckett: There are more than 30 skulls.

Hesha: The dead are nothing compared to the relics in this chamber. Come, look at these wonders.

Beckett: Stop moving, both of you.

Hesha: What is it?

Okulos: Oh Christ.

Beckett: We're all going to want to back out of here very slowly.

Okulos: My leg is right up against one.

Beckett: Some of these "mummies" have stakes in them. If they're dislodged, and some of these are torpid, hungry, old vampires-

Hesha: I take your point. I'm heading back to the entrance. We'll formulate a plan —

Okulos: Oh Christ, it moved!

Beckett: Run!

[recording ends]

[ABOVE TRANSCRIPT ENDS]

[BELOW TEXT FOLLOWS IN BECKETT'S DIARY SCRIPT]

Abo Regaila, Ḥelwān, Egypt

The scene earlier was something from an old horror feature. The emaciated corpse shambled after us at speed. Hesha commanded one of the laborers to offer himself to the woken nightmare. We watched from a distance as the creature drained him dry and then moved on to the next man.

Two sacrifices later, the vampire was still more bone than flesh. Despite our tricks, we couldn't suppress its Beast or compel it. Hesha had his ghouls put it to the torch. By my calculation it must have been staked at least seven centuries ago. To remain paralyzed yet aware for that long would erode anything resembling sanity.

We shall return to the dig site tomorrow, Okulos with his flare gun. There's much to discover within, but I'm doubtful the residents will be giving us a guided tour.

[ABOVE TEXT ENDS]

[BELOW TEXT IS A LETTER IN ANGELIQUE’S HANDWRITING]

Mr. Beckett,

An invitation and a warning.

I invite you to continue excavating my sire's temple, though you shan't find him within. He's awake and busy, and interested in your activities.

Do not steal from the temple. My sire's artifacts are intended for the Typhonic childer, and you are not one.

Do not make me hunt you.

Angelique

Childe of Lazarus

Childe of Cappadocius

[ABOVE LETTER ENDS]

Death’s Grim Legion

Armies of corpses rise. Vampires familiar with the Baron’s bloodline see his bony hand in these events, recognizing the rotting flesh of these zombies as that of the Samedi. Kindred see these incidents as evidence of Samedi aggression, and blatant disregard for the Traditions. The Baron claims differently. He makes clear the dead rise to protect Samedi territory from a greater threat, long buried and now stirring in surrounding lands.

The Camarilla laugh off the Baron’s words. The Sabbat — with their dominance over the South American continent — pay close attention, as the ground beneath them starts to shake.

The Samedi are testament to the potency of vitae. A bloodline formed half a millennium ago, none can accurately pinpoint their genesis. They share similarities with Nosferatu through their horrifying countenance, but that’s where the parallels conclude. The bloodline demonstrates how the splintering of a Clan can produce something no longer bound to the Antediluvians or whims of Methuselahs. The forging of paths not laid down by Caine or his grandchilder may be a way to circumvent the Jyhad, and stand removed from its influence.

Any reputable vampires who make the journey to the Baron’s domain in Haiti may find an audience with him, as the Stiff wants conflicting information regarding his bloodline out in the world. He tells a different tale every time; part truth, part falsehood. In this way he restricts power over the Samedi. With each pilgrim making the journey, the bloodline’s aura of mystery and fear grows.

The Kindred political situation in Haiti mirrors that of the kine population, in many ways. The spiritual center of Samedi Vodou has remained in place for centuries, at times supporting the kine, but typically acting as a parasite to their faith. The country moves back and forth between Setite and Sabbat dominance, usually enforced through vice, petty militias, and terror groups. The Serpents of the Light operate a secret police in Haiti against possible foes. In the neighboring Dominican Republic, a Setite named Sergio Bueno holds the title of Prince of Santo Domingo, with nominal backing from the Camarilla. Lasombra antitribu maintain a nomadic existence, offering mercenary aid to whoever on the island of Hispaniola can afford their assistance. Otherwise, they take what they want from whoever stands in their way. In the middle of it all, the downtrodden people of Haiti suffer under the rule of mortal corruption, shocking natural disasters, and inadequate health care.

Beckett discovering the Samedi link to Lazarus or Strohmann opens fissures that soon widen. An exploration into the Egyptian Lazarene tombs draws attention from the few active Cappadocians, including one named Angelique. The enigmatic entity known as the Capuchin also takes notice, rushing to the Giovanni to inform them of the archeologist’s discovery. The Giovanni are forbidden entry into Saqqara by Cairo Prince Mukhtar Bey, triggering a situation involving subterfuge and bloody violence. Strohmann’s connection to the Samedi is more obscure than that of Lazarus, but Talley’s hunt for the Nosferatu antitribu in Berlin reopens old wounds the Creep would rather remained sealed.

Following are chronicles stemming from the events Beckett encounters in this chapter:

• Few question why Kindred were completely absent from the Americas before European colonization. The Baron tells one enquiring coterie the indigenous vampires foresaw the arrival of Europeans, and voluntarily took to torpor until the passing of Gehenna. He tells another they fought the arriving vampires and the conquistadors, their struggle scrubbed from the pages of history by Lasombra and Brujah scholars. The survivors roamed as solitary predators, but now ready themselves to drive the Sabbat from their continent. It sounds fantastical — but vampire domains in Arequipa, La Rinconada, and Ecatepec have all fallen suddenly silent in recent weeks. Scholars and Sects both wish to discover the reality of these tales, offering sizeable boons to those who can authenticate the Baron’s claims.

• The sightings of shambling corpses in Central American locations are reaching fever pitch, with even the RED Network reporting on “zombie syndrome” being a real illness. Before blame can be placed on the Samedi, Archbishop Claudia of Tijuana sends the message across Sabbat and Camarilla cities alike that the Pisanob of Clan Giovanni are responsible for this plague of the undead. The repercussions are instant. The Pisanob are harried into unfamiliar domains, as their parent Clan seeks coteries to stop these rumors, discover which party is truly to blame, and whether the Harbingers of Skulls have some role to play. Caught in Haiti, Stephanie de Horacio Pisanob is looking for a quick way out of the country. She knows the truth behind the tales, but will only reveal it if she can be taken directly to the Mausoleum in Venice.

• Prince Sergio Bueno of Santo Domingo seeks a capable coterie for the task of recruiting the Lasombra antitribu of the Caribbean islands. The Magisters are notably hard to pin down given their near-constant persecution by Sabbat brethren, yet Bueno is adamant their assistance is required in routing the Serpents of the Light from Haiti. Outside the Dominican Republic, the Camarilla is unsure whether Bueno acts in the interests of his Sect or his Clan, so a secret counteroffer has been laid on the table by Justicars Lucinde and Iadanza for the coterie prepared to work for Prince Sergio. They’re to ensure the Setite doesn’t claim power in Haiti once the insurrection is complete. A competent Ventrue or Toreador must instead be placed in power.

• The Mambo of St. Mary and the Petwo are a mortal organization of Catholic Vodouists based in Port-au-Prince, critically aware of the existence of the Samedi since the return of the 98 kidnapped children. They see the Baron’s activities as a subversion of their faith, dangerous and deserving of disintegration. The group possesses one member who holds True Faith, being Mambo Asogwe Garcelle. She leads her followers in an unquestioning pogrom of fire against the Samedi, who seek help in subduing these women without killing them. To the Vodouists among the Samedi, the organization is a holy one, albeit pointed in the wrong direction. Josette wishes to find a way into the group so it can be redirected towards the Serpents of the Light, but it’s a tall order. The Mambo of St. Mary and the Petwo are dead set on extinguishing every one of the walking cadavers they find. The Baron suspects a vampire sponsors the group, although he’s yet to discern who it might be.

• Despite the Setites’ best efforts to keep the excavation of Lazarus’ temple silent, word escapes via the inscrutable Capuchin, who, through unknown means, becomes aware immediately as the dig begins. Months of conflict ensue as the Setites declare the temple theirs, while the Giovanni maintain Lazarus is technically of their Clan and his haven belongs to them. The necromancers make increasingly violent attempts through various agents to disrupt the dig, until the mortal archeological crew become convinced of a “mummy’s curse” on the excavation. The Clans reach a standoff; Mukhtar Bey commands both Clans issue representatives to his court to debate the matter. Accompanied by entourages of trusted vampires, the infamous Isabel Giovanni is sent by her Clan, while the Setites are represented by Hesha Ruhadze. The two groups clash with words before the Prince of Cairo, as in Saqqara the Cappadocian Angelique begins to remove everything of value from the barely-guarded temple. As she departs with her loyal cohorts in tow, she leaves clues to implicate the Giovanni in the theft.

The Rising Tide

Bloodlines are an outstanding tool for diversifying a chronicle. While a few can clearly be attributed as offshoots from the lines of Caine, others — such as Baali, Lhiannan, the Legacies of the African continent, and even the Followers of Set — cite different progenitors entirely. Bloodlines are mere steps away from becoming as powerful as longlived Clans; the Tremere and Giovanni started as bloodlines, after all. The rising tide alluded to by Baron Samedi can introduce more blood with which to contaminate the waters:

• The Samedi aren’t a bloodline. They’ve always been present on Hispaniola and the other Caribbean islands, merely adapting to fit in with the beliefs of the West African slaves as they arrived. While their peers on mainland Central and South America were driven to near extinction by the settlers, the Samedi persisted in small numbers for centuries. A Clan in their own right, the Samedi and their Baron await the time when their torpid companions on the continent begin to rise, and seek them out for centuries of accumulated wisdom.

• Strohmann made a habit of Embracing the most beautiful slaves on board his ship, delighting in watching their features warp and corrupt. One such victim was the first daughter of her lineage, titled Queen Mother by her family for her position in their Ghanaian Vodun faith. Following her Embrace, Strohmann beheld in horror as she rotted before him, spreading a fatal wasting sickness rapidly throughout the rest of his human cargo and crew. The Nosferatu antitribu staked and deposited her on one of the many islands within the Caribbean. Rumor holds that under the tutelage of the Cappadocian refugees he’d left there years before, she founded the Samedi bloodline.

• The Drowned Legacies of the South American continent are advised by the Baron on when and where to make their presence known. He speaks with the reptilian Cipactli, the bestial Karai Pyhare, and the wicked Kalku, among others. Vampire families long thought dead begin to reveal themselves to the Sabbat occupants of South America, shortly before brutally eliminating their occupiers and reclaiming their herds.

• There are no vampires indigenous to the South American continent or the Caribbean, but there are many Methuselahs of Clans predisposed to migration. Ancient Ravnos, Gangrel, and Followers of Set begin to stir from their long sleeps as the Sabbat spill copious volumes of blood above their resting places. When these vampires awake, they will be hungry, and unlike any other member of their Clan. Should they Embrace, an errant bloodline will almost certainly follow.

• The mummified vampires staked within Lazarus’ temple are all elders of unknown Generation. With permission from Angelique to remove whatever he sees fit from the tomb, Hesha Ruhadze commences the delivery of torpid vampires to the Hierophants of his Clan. The Followers of Set frown on diablerie, but such raw power contained in prone vessels could be the fuel the Setites need. Drinking them dry, each diablerist becoming closer to Sutekh; some members of the Clan hypothesize this may be exactly what’s required to wake up their Clan founder.