The Hollow Crown
The Quality of Mercy
The Winthrop Building – Boston – September 1999
I find myself looking out over the City I have created, finding it hard not to feel pride at its shining glory. Looking at my four Aediles, all of my own blood, I cannot help but think how true the scripture was when it said, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
The eldest of them, Michael Tobias begins “Praetor Winthrop, the Toreador ”/characters/marcus-hardcastle" class=“wiki-content-link”>Hardcastle has come to us with a business proposition." To a seasoned observer of board meetings, each tiny movement around the table gave away the listener’s true feelings on the subject. My interest suddenly peaked I looked around at the four Aediles, all of my brood. Whilst many other of our clan have attempted to prove themselves worthy of a seat at this table, none yet had. These four are my Rod and Staff, assisting me in the work I most undertake.
The second of my children, Thomas ‘Bartleby’ Macleod, almost breaks his cane in outrage at the audacity of a Toreador suggesting a business deal to us. His natural conservatism had served all of their interests well in avoiding the current financial crisis. He had a clear knowledge of financial markets and how to exploit this new joint-stock world that had been created.
On the other hand Michael Quincy-Adams seemed more amused than anything. His field of expertise was politics, I’ve ever cared for the mortal’s obsession with votes, but I’ve found a good childe always compensates for one’s own inclinations.
Only the most recent of my childer shows an intelligent curiosity in the proposition. James Konrad was the keenest of the four, quick to sense an opportunity to increase his worth. His appearance as an outsider also helped him garner information from the anarch camp, all the better to thwart that bitch Dyer and her ilk.
Tobias continued, "His proposal would appear to be mutually beneficial to us. He proposes that working with the Toreador, we make significant corporate donations to the local museums and Public Art Galleries. "
“You’ll forgive me for querying this dear brother, but when did sponsoring art galleries become good for business” Bartleby sneers, “We’ll end up paying for whatever effluent the Toreador think is inspired at the moment, or worst yet – Modern Art…” his voice trailed into a sneer as he no doubt contemplated some Rothko inspired colour chart. I swear Bartleby’s never forgiven Hardcastle for selling him a Raphael, for several million dollars, only to find out it was barely greater than his hand. Unfortunately, Bartleby had assumed the actual size colour photograph was a scale replica of the piece in question, and had cleared an entire wall in his mansion. It was all I could do to prevent him from frenzying and ripping the dealer apart with his bare hands. As it was, he destroyed the painting and several canes, in the frenzy that followed.
“Not quite. The gist of his proposal is that we provide funding to inspire a new round of art purchases and expansion in the Boston museums. In return, the corporations get a tax write off, an opportunity to use the venue for meetings and client entertainment, and…”
Konrad intervenes “We get to place our institution’s corporate art on display, massively enhancing its value, as I understand it simply being hung in a major gallery can increase the value by 20%.”
“Indeed, that is exactly his proposition. Hardcastle is also aware of the likely trends in Toreador art, the ”/characters/lady-arabella-stuart" class=“wiki-content-link”>Lady Arabella is a patron of note. For a modest retainer he is willing to advise of which Artists are in her favour, and also which exhibitions the museums she favours are seeking to arrange." Even Bartleby is now interested, the cash plus the offer to gain advance knowledge of the market will do that to an avaricious man.
“And what is his cost for this”, I query the room. “We have no reason to go against the Lady Arabella, and I am reluctant to treat with one who would sell his own blood for mere financial reward. No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot truly serve your Lord and Mammon.”
“Hardcastle is keen that Clan Toreador’s status be enhanced. He seeks your endorsement to be appointed Liege of the vacant domain of Milton and our support in his future political endeavours, as I understand it he seeks Primogen representation for Clan Toreador.” Michael gets to the heart of the matter clearly, I am aware his personal arrangements with this Childe of Arikel have proven profitable, but it is good that he brings this benefit to the wider good of the clan.
“Most enterprising for a Toreador, we can begin with an initial investment in this area, and test his goodwill. Bartleby, can you find an appropriate vehicle”. That should help to dispel any personal gain Michael hoped to make and the profits might assuage Bartleby’s hatred.
Looking down the agenda, I see that we have the upcoming city election to consider. “Aedile Thomas, am I correct in thinking Michael Flaherty is trying to run again.”
“Do you wish us to ensure his candidacy is unsuccessful?” Quincy-Adams looks up from his papers, “His father went against us on the affordable housing issue after all. I’m aware he is particularly obsessed with his son continuing from him.”. He is dispassionate in talking of this man’s future, as if simply moving a pawn forward in an uncertain gambit.
“Indeed, and is it not appropriate that the iniquities of the father should be cast on to the third and fourth generations of those that hate us?” Tobias, as ever, is quick to use a biblical allusion to strengthen his case with me. It is a transparent ploy, but one that usually works, in this case I’m aware he has hopes of placing his own new man into the role, to give him some autonomy from his brother.
“I think not, after all the old man had become rather too fond of his cups by that stage, I suspect it was an excess of sack that set him on. Perhaps his son can remedy his father’s error.”
Picking up on my allusion, Michael is quick to carry on the quote “That’s mercy, but too much security: Let him be punish’d, sovereign, lest example breed, by his sufferance, more of such a kind.”
“Aedile Tobias, I have spoken.” harsh to speak to my childe in such formal terms, but I will brook no discontent in my house. “Aedile Thomas – make the arrangements.”
The meeting breaks up. I return to gazing over the cityscape beneath me, my city on the hill.
The Winthrop Building – Boston – September 2000
“Aedile Konrad” formal this time, as befits such a night. “Bring forth the outcast.” Bedraggled, my eldest childe enters the room, held down by the three brothers who had tracked him down. “The Prince has called bloodhunt upon you, Michael. What can you say for yourself, before I pass judgement?”
“I did it all for the clan, we needed to remove that gibbering lunatic and replace him with someone more fitting.” Defiant to the last, I picked well in some aspects when I brought him into the clan.
“Our clan can forgive those plotting for the greater good, but we cannot forgive being caught. As such you are no longer Aedile, you are no longer Ventrue, you are no longer my Childe, or subject to my protection. All of your assets will be removed from you and returned to the clan from which they came” I intone the ancient words of banishment, harsh as they are on my lips. This I know for certain, as Konrad and Bartleby have stripped all of his accounts dry after liquidating all of his holdings.
“Father, please no!”
I quote his favourite play back at him, “If little faults, proceeding on distemper, Shall not be wink’d at, how shall we stretch our eye When capital crimes, chew’d, swallow’d and digested,
Appear before us? You cautioned me to destroy a mortal once, because of one sin his father conducted. How would you suggest I treat your breach of every tradition we hold sacred.”
I turn away from him, looking out over the city I cherish, “We are Ventrue, the leaders of the Kindred, all the eyes of the other clans are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our kind in this work we have undertaken and so cause them to withdraw their present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of our clan and all of our works; we shall shame the faces of our honourable ancestors and blood, and cause them to turn there curses upon us. Aedile Konrad, contact ”/characters/tobias-ames" class=“wiki-content-link”>Ames and ensure this wretch is picked up for the Prince’s justice"
In my heart I hope the punishment I have inflicted upon him will satisfy the Prince’s desire for vengeance, and I will intervene with him at tomorrow’s event to seek only banishment for his crimes.