An aside from the terrors happening as part of the Rot Under Paris campaign, this short story is intended to provide intrigue and possibly hint at things to come…
The Crown and the Blade
What a mess. What a fucking mess. Bruce was gone, L and Baptiste’s capture was public knowledge to the Unbound in Versailles, the coterie he sent after the ones who stole them went missing in action and he was having to deal with all of this. The figure in front of him, a young looking punk with flaming red hair and a leather jacket, spoke up.
“What are you gonna do Jacques?! What if it’s my domain they hit next?! I can’t keep under the radar forever. I thought you could protect us!”
“Shut it Angel! I’ll deal with it ok? Just relax man, they were only here for Baptiste and L.”
“Oh really Jacques?! Then why the fuck is Bruce a pile of ash in a fucking gutter?!”
“Just get the fuck outta my club, I need thinking space!”
Angel slams the door open and marches off, shouting obscenities over his shoulder. What a fucking night.
Another figure, hooded and wrapped in scraps of cloth and bandages, sidles into the room, shutting the door behind itself with a horrifically clawed and burnt hand.
“And who the fuck are you Mr. Mystery Stranger? And how did you get past my security?”
The figure cocks its head and for a moment a grin filled with razor blades catches the dim light of the champagne room before a voice filled with tar and gravel comes from beneath the hood.
“Lotta questions for an honored guest. Is that really the way to talk to the Butcher of Magdeburg?”
Jacques’ face freezes in a look of shock. He had heard rumors of the newest Scourge of Paris being Nosferatu but the Butcher being in Paris signaled a dark time for the Unbound…
“I-I don’t know who you’re talking about stranger, please I meant no offence.”
“Cut the shit Jacques you know who I am. I’m here to tell you something so listen. If you’re wondering where your little birds that you sent after that van have gone, they’re dead. Made sure of that myself. And if you don’t want to lose anymore of your people you’ll leave that coterie alone, got it?”
“Why the hell do you care about a bunch of neonates?”
The hooded figure hisses.
“Another question, I’m starting to think it might be quicker to just kill you and move on with my night.”
“Alright alright I get it!” Stammers Jacques.
“I’ll leave ’em alone…”
The razor filled grin returns before the figure turns around and exits the champagne room into the empty club.
What a fucking night.
Lights, camera, action baby. No better way of living than this. The Prince of Paris smiled to himself as he watched a host of pretty models posing in front of cameras. He loved photo shoots like this. Oh of course they were officially for his new fashion magazine but really it was just an excuse to look at pretty people wearing his newly designed clothes. He was proud of his work, he had really outdone himself this time.
“Ahem, Mr. Villon.” came the voice of his PA softly next to him.
“What is it?” he replied.
“Someone to see you sir, a Mr. de Veronese, says it’s urgent sir.”
“Intriguing! Show him in!”
Less than two minutes later an austere looking man walked in. The man was fairly short, not exactly fashionable but well dressed in a simple shirt and grey waistcoat. His beard was cut short and he carried himself with the air of a slightly elderly professor. Villon smirked as he caught sight of the man.
“My my, when I was told a de Veronese was here I didn’t think it was actually you, how long has it been old friend?”
“Villon, it is good to see you!”
The man turned to the various models and photographers before waving his hand.
“You can all go home now, apologies but the shoot is over.”
Wordlessly and as one, the various arrayed figures stood up and began filing single file out of the room with blank expressions.
“Aw, I was having fun with those ones Gratiano!”
“Apologies my Prince but there are sensitive matters to attend to.”
“Since when have you gotten into the habit of calling me ‘my Prince’ Gratiano, we both know I’m not your Prince and I’m certainly not more superior than you.”
“The night is changing Francois, the Amici Noctis have switched sides, the shadows have flocked to the Ivory Tower, even the Autarkis are taking sides. The Lasombra in Camarilla territory are no longer Antitribu, yet you still don’t let them into your city. How come?”
“Pfft, as if I can trust those shadow fucks, no offence mind. But really, how can you expect me to believe that centuries of dedication to the Sabbat has led to this.”
“They’re massacring the elders you know. Just as we did in nights before they are pledging allegiance to themselves and finding their own way, and these nights that means the Ivory Tower.”
“Why are you here Gratiano, I know you want something from me”
The old man smiles before producing a cream letter from inside his waistcoat.
“I have a proposition…”
Cover art by Robert Frank