Shadow of a Horned God

Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act II, Session X

Revelations and the Methuselah

The center of Calleva is shaking violently and the central ruin is in chaos. Gaius and Pernik both flee from the sight of the flames while Hector and Fherah enter the building, standing firm in the face of Rötschreck. Octavius, Vivia and Raul hurries to the center. Castor, also caught in the Red Fear, transforms into his Zulo Battle Shape and starts tearing down the wall to escape the flames. He barely notices the arrow fired at Lancius, who is trying to access the crevice into which Hildegard fell. The quake throws rocks around the area and walls crumble, causing damage to everyone near the center of Calleva, which the Cainites only manage to survive thanks to their supernatural resistance. During the fight Hector manages to locate the assassin Demprios, who flees after realizing his attempt at Lancius’ unlife has failed.

The remaining Cainites assemble outside the central ruin (which is still aflame), while Hector tracks Demprios through his Farsight Discipline. He makes a few attempts at intimidation by speaking to the retreating Leper, who appears undisturbed. The coterie speaks with Lancius and Hildegard, and the Elder thanks them for helping him. The group is also joined by an unknown “spectator”, an incorporeal shade (which they agree must be a visitor spying on a Anima Walk). Hector, the only one with the ability to enter the astral plane to identify the visitor, refuses to do so because of the danger involved. The “visitor” disappears after a few minutes (perhaps answering Octavius’ request to reveal himself instead of spying). Castor uses his Way of Spirit koldunism and detects movement deep below the earth. He informs this before commencing a Pool of Secrets ritual to allow the others to see the unknown individual. The individual, supposedly a Cainite, is in the process of arming himself with ancient equipment, probably even predating the Roman Republic, which would make him an Elder at the very least. When Lancius looks upon the surface of the pool he is visibly shocked by the vision. He eventually identifies the Cainite as Gnaeus Septimus Luca, his former Mentor and a Methuselah predating the Republic itself. A childe of the Ancient Augustus himself and the Seneshal of Londinium more than 400 years ago. Realising that this might be the now eldest active Cainite in Britannia, both Lancius and the coterie decides to greet him properly upon his emergence. Castor is able to discern the location of the entrance to the caverns and leads them there.

The group of Cainites are instantly struck with awe of the sheer force of personality from the Methuselah, and actually physically pushed away from him at first. He starts by introducing himself, and asking the identity of the assembled Cainites. He recognizes only Lancius in person, but also knows the names of certain sires, namely Servilius and Minerva. He is informed of the current date, and also wishes to know who or what caused the earthquake which awoke him a century earlier than expected. They talk for a while, and he asks about the status of other Elders from his era, with names such as Pompejus, Antonius and Cletia figuring about. Before answering any crucial questions, he explains that he will need the rest of the night alone with Lancius, and that they will meet again after the next nightfall. He then retreats into the cave again in the company of Lancius.

Upon returning, a few recognizes the need to feed, and also the condition of their mounts (as most were seriously wounded during the quake). Octavius heals most of the damage inflicted on his mount through his Valeren Discipline, while Castor offers to help Fherah with hers. She is quite shocked when he invokes his Way of Earth powers and the Earth devours her horse for several minutes before spitting it up again, completely healed. After consulting with Hildegard, they also find out that a small settlement is located southward from the ruins, where there is some feeding opportunities. Hector, Fherah, Castor and Gaius ventures there.

While on “patrol” around the ruins, Octavius is informed by Pernik that a stranger of some sort has approached the ruins, from the north. He soon encounters the stranger, which proves to be a familiar monstrosity, Khoraxoz. After initial greetings, he explains that he feels somehow obliged to “repay” Octavius for his mercy after defeating Valerius Marcon, as well as apologizing for the “misunderstanding”. He also expresses his wishes to continue living in the area near Deva. Octavius sees the opportunity to gain a valuable ally, and agrees with the condition that he acts as an informer to the prince. He also tells Khoraxos about the awakening of Luca, and offers to write him a letter which to present to Morita, concerning Octavius approval of Khoraxoz resettling in the area. The leper agrees and informs that he will leave the following night.

Vivia continues her education of the Caitiff Raul, after realizing that current events effectively hinders the advancement of her attempt at seduction. As usual, he proves to be very perceptive and intelligent.

As Hector and Fherah approach the settlement (arriving first since they are riding), they find that its consisted of a few tents and shacks circled around a quite large fire pit. After some initial approaches, Hector manages to lure one of the guards outside and kill him. With some simple uses of his Dominate Discipline, he then repeats the procedure with the second while the third goes to fetch help. They leave (with the corpses) just as Gaius and Castor arrive. The returning guard and the “healer” are easy matches for the pair and meet their ends just as surely as the first ones. With Castor’s help they find a small cave where they hide the bodies and await the coming of dawn (as they are afoot and can’t make it back to Calleva in time).

At nightfall the coterie awaken, one by one, engaging in various tasks. Fherah consumes the leftover corpses from the previous night while Hector decides to contact his sire. He manages to reach her by Farsight, even though having taken precautions not to be found. She is traveling by a mule when he speaks to her. He asks her about Rowena and tells her about their reasons to suspect that the “Rowena” in Dubris is in fact the impostor Lucilla. She don’t comment about this, but states that Rowena is in fact in Dubris, and very active. He also tells her about Luca, which she finds interesting but not enough to reveal her plans. He ends the conversation without any real answers to anything.

Vivia decides to seek out Imwreigh, whom she finds in his haven outside Calleva. After a brief resume of their previous “debate”, she agrees with him in that a great injustice has been done, and that the ones responsible are unwilling or unable to acknowledge their guilt, except her. He repeats his demand: only the gesture of her kneeling to kiss his feet is enough to convince him of her sincerity. After some internal turmoil, she accepts. The Leper is shocked, mumbles “Excuse me” before returning to his haven. A few moments later Vivia hears muffled laughter coming from the night, and is approached by Khoraxoz. Obviously a witness to her humiliation, he only speaks for a few moments before leaving. When Imwreigh returns, he officially forgives her and thanks her for her sympathy. She leaves the place with a sense of great uneasiness, very aware of her “sin” against her Via, but also with the feeling that it was necessary, if only to “redeem” herself in the eyes of the Leper Community. Any deed that furthers their goals in the greater picture is worth the humiliation, she believes.

Upon awakening, Castor feels even weaker than the previous night, which Gaius also recognizes but decides not to ask about. They return hastily to Calleva, where Octavius encounters Khoraxoz shortly before he leaves for Deva. The coterie warily awaits the arrival of their entourage and the appearance of the Methuselah. The latter happens first. Hildegard informs the group that Luca have arrived in the central ruin and awaits them. When they arrive, he explains that he wants every Cainite in their group to adhere to the meeting.

After gathering everyone, he informs them that he doesn’t want the news of his awakening reaching any possible enemies before he is ready to make his move, and therefore want the gathered Cainites to swear an oath to him, assuring him of their silence. As they one by one swear the oath, they all feel supernatural bonds enforcing their words, with few exceptions. Being the last one, Hector decides to refuse. He debates the issue with the Methuselah, explaining his reasons for doing so and standing firm on his decision. Luca, obviously unhappy with the disrespect showed towards him, engages in a test of will, locking gazes with the Graverobber. After “passing” the test, Luca lets the matter go and proceeds with other matters.

Octavius tells him about Shaqifa’s vision, and asks him to shed any light onto it. Hector also shows him the “document” which Abrachoz tried to steal from Minerva’s library. Luca tells that he fears that the document might be a Covenant of Death, a kind of magically enforced contract mainly used by the Warlords of ancient times. The document is produced by a complicated ritual known only to certain Cappadocians, and the entire practice was banned for more than 1000 years ago. An agreement between Japhet of Clan Cappadocian and Collat of Clan Ventrue signed then states that anyone forging or using such a document will become targets of a Blood Hunt if exposed. Luca agrees with the coteries beliefs of parts of the vision implicating that Marcon, Rowena and Varro all have been practicing the forbidden art, and with Minerva as the forger of the document. On the question of who the “great shadow” in the vision might be, Luca’s only plausible explanation is an Elder Madman named Rex Noctem, whom once confided in Luca the possibility of him being the childe of Naram-Sin, which might prove the existence of the ancient Methuselah…

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Juniper Juniper

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