The Hollow Crown
Baby its Cold Outside
Boston – 1/2/01
The snow meanders down the hill – fading before it reaches the bay that overlooks Providence – she sits contemplating an old artefact. Two family trees grow on an old bible, hands prismed in front of her, she contemplate both.
The last of her kine descendants died in the last century, just after the last world war, she looked over the other side. She filled out the date of death on the other side. The ink on her quill dripped onto her blotter after she completed an entry, J.C 1960 – 2000. She looks towards his PHD thesis ‘Civil Disobedience – a pluralist view of a localist future’. Ironic really. Had a Gangrel bothered to read his work before they saw their precious trees ripped down under the trees of the Ventrue they would have embraced him first. It might have saved him.
The event was a risk, a lasombra antitribu jumping up to scream ‘kill me’ to her blood thirsty brethren, might have been considered an error in judgement. Deciding to throw the party with a drugged up assassin and a cast off blue-blood was a touch that took her back to her youth. Winthrop would be spinning on the, what was it the young ones called it, ah yes – the pole up his arse.
Of course the world plays tricks on you, she looks down the list of names on the right hand side. So many initials and dates marked for the last half century. Too many of them during 1968 to 1980. The tree has large gaps, the consequence of some of her childer’s interesting views on the traditions. The initials HP are marked with the date 1728? 1910, the dates being her best guess on his embrace by a long-dead childe that returned to the Old World and the date she had recognised him in her brood.
She tries to convince herself that she is not to blame for all of the deaths. Joshua had spent 40 years using himself as a crucible to try his latest theory. She perhaps could have stopped him, could have provided more guidance, but inevitably he would have tried to far, a creature of Genesis 11 if ever there was one.
Then there are the errors, the mistakes in judgement, she looks at the two greatest mistakes, almost half a century apart. One where she moved to early, one where she moved to late. In a faded ink, they read PJ 1786 and JVB 1826.
But this time it was both her error and her mistake that cost Joshua his life.
She looks up to the shelf where her most precious possessions lie, a run down and dull taw with marbles and a simple wooden game of nine-men morris. This last a simple game, a favourite of her dear Henry, involved the subtle movement of men to trap an opponent and slowly remove his pieces from the game. A suitable metaphor for the jyhad in many ways.
Joshua fails to feed, he tries to feed on a friend of an Assamite. The Assamite intervenes, but stays on the correct side of Elysium. He leaves to feed. In the game, this would be the equivalent of a player making a mill. She smiles briefly at that, William had always liked the idea of mills providing power even as his brother would remove his pieces from the board.
Of course seeing the fragile Crouch flee the scene, she had requested Doyle to go and search for him. She left with Kingston, two pieces in play.
Meanwhile on the other side of the event, Mary had heard the threats of the Gangrel against Johannes, a clear breach of Elysium. The Gangrel had left shortly after, and she had unwittingly agreed with Gaveston when he sent the Scourge and the Sheriff to recover the trespasser. Had she realised then that Johannes had been tormenting the Gangrel, she might have held back on that request.
For no other reason then it would have broken the chain of coincidental events that would have the rest of the court speculating. She looks at the lines on the morris board, considers this is how the Ventrue think. Lines link, and because someone is on that line, there must be causality, although they no doubt play it out on a chess board.
Of course there are some uncertainties, some matters to be resolved. It was too coincidental that the Kindred had followed each other in a hunt. She looks up from her book as Johannes enters the room.
“Why did you do it?”