The Hollow Crown
Moda Center – Portland Maine
“In nomine Caine; et Patris, et Gladius, et Sanguis Sancti…” the dissipated libertine that is her pack’s priest concludes his convocation. He steps from the arena, as a cage falls across the ring.
Across the arena the assembled packs begin to bay and howl. At least she thinks that is what some of the Cordwainer’s handiwork are doing. Its never certain what he intends his war ghouls parts to be. She suppresses an involuntary shudder as she surveys that section of the crowd. She wonders at the Panders and the Toreador that have eagerly seized on his clan’s offer to train them in Vicissitude, is he arranging a coup? He now has allies in almost every pack in her bishopric.
Mentally she considers if she should encourage a few of the more cocky pack leaders to have a tilt against the antitribu bastard and his bitch daughter in Boston. They have proven remarkably lucky to date and this would thin the ranks of stalking horses for the Cordwainer to use against her.
“Panem et Circenses” her priest mutters in her ear,“you need to throw something to the pack. You never know the childe may yet prove wothy of his blood.” Even with the lilt in his voice, he never quite manages to lose the casual arrogance or the sardonic tone when he talks. Normand looks at him cooly, after all who knows which other kindred might be listening from the shadows.
She draws gossamer-like tendrils of shadow around her, barely enough to cloak what she would once have called her modesty. She stands in the glare of the spotlights. “Lucas of the Lasombra, stands accused by the Quereshi and Wiley, loyal sabbat, of cowardice in the face of our enemies that led to the death of four of our brothers.” She pauses, allowing the crowds geers to subside, “They died as befits the sword of Caine, victims to the dupes of the Antideluvian’s in Boston.” her voice reaches a crescendo, she subtly uses her abilities across the crowd.
“Lucas disputes this charge, and as it is a capital offence, opts to face his accusers in Monomacy.” Lucas glares his defiance at the crowd, she looks at him, wondering if the training in shadows she has provided will be enough, "As such I have granted his request, he faces both of his accusers at the same time. " the crowd bay with blood at thought of seeing a Lasombra brought low. She wonders if Lucas strategy is sound. “Will either accuser consider their charge?”
“No. The whelp left ours to die. He left without a scratch. This can only be cowardice. We are the Sword of Caine, he either returns with his shield or upon it.” The old Pander screams to the crowd. The assamite stays mute, his hand leaving a blood trail down his sword. The scene is set as she predicted, it all depends on whether Lucas can be quick enough.
“Then let it begin.” She steps back into the shadow – overlooking the arena – and gestures to the Priest. “Light them up.” She steeples her hands as she contemplates the intial sizing up of the combatants. The priest gestures, and the cage is bathed in flame. The surrounding kindred let themselve fall to frenzy, riding their Beast, primal instincts overriding emoton at the thought of blood. With an luck that gives Lucas the advantage, he knew this was coming.
Her Priest had done his task well, leaking the details of the botched operation in Boston to these two. She knew them to be loyal to the Cordwainer, and eager to affect her standing. The old bastard sat close to his own priest, clearly calculating the permutations of the event below. In theory, this shouldn’t be a close fight, but were Lucas to show his strength, and survive she would capitalise on hi success.
The opening moves, Lucas edges towards a corner, wary of the fire at his back. The Assamite and the Pander come in from either side. The initial tendrils seem weak, the Assamite contemptously spitting blood at them to destory those going to him. The Pander swats his to either side, using the sharpended Bo quarter staff he enters the ring with. Its clear his intent is to stake Lucas and diablorise him.
“Why did the ritual fail?”
“The ritual didn’t fail.” The response she expected, the same arrogance and overconfidence had caused his fall almost a century before. “There was nothing there to raise. The trap should have sprung the minute shadows were called in the graveyard. Is it possible they destroyed the showvelheads? They have had twenty years to search.”
“Perhaps.” She turned back to the fight. Whilst her Priest was her closest advisor, in this case she feared something else explained this. Even if Lucas fell, it would not be in vain. his foray had confirmed that the Morrigan for the thrid time had not responded to a Sabbat incursion. It would appear their intelligence was accurate, the court was in dispute against each other.
The crowd grew slightly restless, wondering why the lasombra was still standing. The two kindred began to crowd him, confident of their victory. It is then that Lucas chooses to strike, a swarm of tentacles sprout behind the assamite and drag him into the flames, his screams as he burns echo round the hall. Lucas grabs the fallen assamites sword, and impales the pander on sword. The Pander looks surprised, feeling the Assamites blood burn through him. Lucas grabs his throat and rips it out as he takes his soul.
“I am cleansed by the blood of my enemies. We stand as the Sword of Cane.” He brandishes the bloodied sword above his head as the crowd erupts.
Normand stifles a smile, as she looks out over the crowd. “Justice has been served. Rejoin your brethren Lucas.”