City of the Sun

The Egyptian Expedition of 1901
by Giles Wright

8th of July, 1901:
The blistering heat of this damnable country will be the end of me, of this I am certain. I haven’t the faintest idea of how the natives have survived this long so far from the Nile, and for now my only solace lies in the fact that my journey will soon be at an end.

It has been several weeks since we first touched down off the shores of the great river, though it feels an eternity ago. My guide assures me that we are close now, very close, to the tomb that my employer seeks so desperately.

I have decided to pen this record in the off chance that our expedition unearths something worthwhile. I have my doubts, of course; there is very little to be found here, and I am convinced that any “tomb” that has avoided the plundering of treasure seekers has long since collapsed beneath the ever-shifting sands of Egypt.

9th of July, 1901:
Two more days, my guide insisted.

I struck him behind the ear with a balled fist; he crumpled the ground in a cry of agony, yet I felt neither remorse nor any sympathy for the native. They are savages, the lot of them. Perhaps my country’s influence will have a positive effect on their civilization in time, though I doubt I will ever see the day.

“One day,” I replied, as the man shrunk away from me.

“One day,” he agreed.

10th of July, 1901:
We have found our tomb at last. I would be lying if I claimed to feel anything other than disappointment. My frustration led to abuse, and it was the guide who received the brunt of my anger. Did he not deserve it, leading me on with lies of treasure and riches and the object – an object beyond worth – that my employer so desperately seeks?

He yet lives, thankfully, for he is still of use to me.

In regards to the tomb, I regret to inform that it is little more than a broken-down assortment of cairns.

We have set up camp here, and the expedition awaits my decision. I am of the mind to pack up and leave this very instant, but that would prove the entire journey was a wasted effort.

11th of July, 1901:
The guide came to me as I turned in for the night, imploring me to listen to what he had to say. I was ready to strike him once again, but his steadfast resolve quelled my anger; he had a spine after all, and whatever he was about to uncover, it would seem it was worth risking another beating.

“Sir,” he began, “I know how this place appears. Nothing more than a collection of stacked stones in the middle of the desert, yes? It is for this reason that the tomb remains unearthed, you see; for first impressions lead one to believe that this place is worthless. But sir, I know how to find the entrance to the tomb… I know where to dig. And I can assure you that the tomb remains intact."

I could only smile when the guide offered this tidbit of information. For once, I felt something other than apathy in regards to the expedition. I daresay I now find myself excited for the future.

12th of July, 1901:
The guide began this morning by tracing deep lines in the sand between the cairns, and we discovered that they were not placed there by happenstance; indeed, their locations were no coincidence at all.

When the guide had finished drawing his lines, it formed an almost ominous pentagram. As a god-fearing man I at once assumed the guide was playing a trick on me; that the heathen would think I’d overlook such blatant blasphemy due to my eagerness to find the tomb drove me to yet another frenzied beating.

My anger eventually subsided long enough for the guide to explain, through broken teeth, that the center of the pentagram was where we were to dig. He apologized profusely to me, but it fell on deaf ears. My focus was now entirely on the excavation at hand.

So now we dig.

21st of July, 1901:
I have ignored this record as of late; my eagerness to discover this tomb has taken precedence, and I find that writing has slipped my mind. Two of our expedition have died due to heatstroke, and the men feel I am to blame, for I work them day and night with very little rest in between. I say to them: what of it? They are tools to be used, nothing more.

A quick flash of my pistol quelled any ideas of mutiny the men might have had.

In any event, our digging has finally shown some progress. We’ve found an entrance of sorts, and brushing away the years of sand has revealed some ancient images chiseled in the stone. They’re hard to make out at present, and I cannot say for certain whether they can be restored through modern means. Still, it’s a start, and it bodes well for the future.

28th of July, 1901:
Success! A week has passed since uncovering the entrance to the tomb, and a round-the-clock schedule of digging has allowed us to pass through the collapsed entrance. I can only describe the scene as… enrapturing. What I initially believed to be a haphazard assortment of stacked rocks has led us to a vast underground tomb, complete with ornate treasures and ancient artifacts that would drive an archaeologist to the point of ecstasy.

My God… words cannot describe what I have witnessed deep beneath the sands. The entire tomb is intact, with the exception of a few collapsed passages. The amount of treasure and valuables here is staggering, worth more than I can even begin to comprehend.

The lack of enthusiasm from my team has only assured me that these natives are, indeed, savages. How can they look upon these wonders with indifference? Some even show signs of fear. Oh, I’ve spent far too long with them. Part of me wishes I had taken a good Englishman along for this journey, to act as my second; Hell, even an Irishman would suit me better than this lot.

I digress. Even if my cut from the spoils is minuscule, I believe I can live out the rest of my days in luxury.

30th of July, 1901:
We have retrieved a decent amount of treasure from the tomb, but my team seems hesitant to journey any further. When pressed as to why, they cannot explain, and they are reduced to bumbling children when I try to force them forward.

As such, I decided to venture in further by myself.

The passageway leading deeper into the tomb eventually became so narrow that I was forced to walk sideways; even then my chest and back scraped against the walls. Claustrophobia halted my progress momentarily, though I managed to steady my resolve and push forward.

Several minutes later, I came across a vast room. The burial chamber of whoever was entombed here, I assumed. My torch cast barely enough light to make out any features of the area, so I had to explore at a sluggish pace, taking in every detail in small portions.

Most of the artifacts here bore a resemblance to those found near the entrance; they too were exquisitely preserved. The paintings on the wall were of better quality as well… one in particular I have attempted to sketch on the following page.

I eventually moved towards the far end of the room, where I came upon a horrifying sight. A preserved body – a mummy, in every sense of the word – was propped against the wall. Its body was held in place by a collection of sharp daggers, which somehow, impossibly, pierced the stone wall.

I almost laughed aloud. Was this old corpse the reason my men became so fearful?

As I drew my torch closer to the corpse, I could see a slight glimmer from within its open mouth. Its visage, I will admit, radiated a sense of terror – for the expression was that of a man crying out in agony, his final moments forever preserved.

I hesitantly reached into the mouth and pulled out what was inside: a small, jet-black rock with jagged edges. I find myself baffled trying to discern why it was in the mummy’s mouth to begin with, as well as what significance it holds. It appears to be nothing more than a rock; an interesting rock, the likes of which I have never seen, but a rock nonetheless.

I returned to camp without issue, though my men seemed distant when they saw me. I avoided revealing my discovery to any of them.

I suppose that about wraps up the excavation. We’ll try to gather some more things before departing. I am eager to begin my new life of luxury, and to leave this Hell of a desert behind.

serpent.png

August 1st, 1901:
A few more days and we’ll be ready to begin our long journey back. I have mused over my findings and have begun to wonder their significance.

To begin: the drawing I sketched earlier, which was found in several places across the tomb. I suppose the bottom half appears to be a snake, and the top is easily identifiable: the sun, which is featured predominately in tombs such as these. What does the drawing imply, then? Is it the sun forcing its weight down upon a serpent of some kind? I am too unfamiliar with Egyptian lore to even begin to ponder an explanation.

More confusing is the stone I retrieved from the mummy’s mouth. Two nights ago, as I was snuffing the fire in my tent, the stone (which was concealed in my breast pocket) began to heat up… as though it was absorbing the nearby flames.

I decided to test what would happen if the stone were to be placed into the fire itself. My experiment occurred last night, and the result was spectacular. When dropped into the flames, the stone immediately began to glow a deep red. Suddenly, the fire was snuffed – like it had never been there at all!

I don’t know what I’ve found here, but I believe this is the item my employer was searching for.

August 2nd, 1901:
Nightmares. Terrible, terrible nightmares. I’ve looked upon my sketch once more and I see in it the Sabbatic Goat. Baphomet! It was there all along. The serpent is no serpent at all; what I thought was a mouth was in fact a hand. The orb? No sun… a skull? A head?
Am I seeing things?

August 3rd, 1901:
He calls to me. I see a man screaming, bringing up his hands to block the blow of knives. They pierce his flesh and the blades emerge bloodied. He screams some more, and the screams echo throughout the room. After agonizing minutes that feel like hours, he slumps against the wall and finally comes to rest.

The corpse walks to me. He puts a hand on my shoulder – a sickly, decaying hand, with maggots writhing in open, festering wounds. His eyes are hollow sockets; in his mouth rests a heart, a human heart, which beats with each shallow breath he takes.

His grip is tight; I cannot escape. I struggle valiantly, to no avail.

August 4th, 1901:
They have discovered the stone. It was the guide who found it. The bastard went through my belongings while I was out last night – though where I went, I cannot say for certain; perhaps a case of noctambulism? – and now they have become a mutinous mob.

I have disposed of one of them with my pistol and I have barricaded myself in my tent. Damn them all.

They keep shouting about the “right of the Undying King.” What in God’s name does that mean?

I cannot hold out for much longer. But damn if I won’t go down without a fight. Teach these savages a

(It abruptly ends here).

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Chapter One
Harmut's Second Report
LogoClanMalkavian1.png Harmut’s Second Report

I sit on my bed and gaze out across the floor, an endless sea of blood.

The sea recedes; thousands of voices scream out in agony, until the sea is but a small stream.

A man, short of stature and chiseled of jaw, stands in the ankle-deep blood. His expression is one of indifference.

And the Prophet asks: “Do you not see?”


Saturday, August 23rd, 2003:

I have enclosed a page of a vision I experienced during my stay in Prince Winters’ haven. The Prophet has returned; I cannot say for sure who he is, which is why I must pose some questions to whoever this message is intended for.

First, is it true that the so-called Mad Prophet Anatole perished at the turn of the century? Or does he simply rest in torpor? I immediately assumed The Prophet (for this is what he calls himself) was Anatole, or some part of Anatole guiding a fellow Malkavian. But without sufficient proof of the man’s demise I cannot be certain it is him.

If this is intended for the Inner Circle, as is my guess, then I request that my visions be brought to the attention of Mistress Streck. Perhaps she will have the answers.

In any event, my night started early. I took it upon myself to drink my fill of chilled blood before leaving, ensuring that my hunger would be sated for the night. I figured the most likely place the coterie would head would be Talon’s haven, Remembrance Graveyard. I took a taxi cab there before the coterie had left the mansion, and at present they have yet to come in contact with me. All for the better, don’t you think?

The taxi driver was a fool… a kine, perceiving me as something I am not. It took some convincing to get him to drive me to where I wanted to go – a gun to the head, some sweet whispers of insanity – but eventually I did reach my destination. I slunk into the shadows as the cab driver sped away, and waited… waited… waited…

Until finally Marik’s ghoul and the coterie showed up. Oh, what a delight it was to finally see them in person! Seven-foot tall Sidra, a real monster hidden beneath mortal clothes. Cat and Rebecca, vibrant and full of life, and ones easily mistaken for mortals. Grigori, regal and proper in his bearing. And Jacob… ha… Jacob… looking all the part of “computer expert.”

The following is based on my own observations and second-hand information.

  • The coterie enter Talon’s domain and are given two separate tasks by his gatekeeper, Lemmy Bastone (better known as “Lumpy Bastard.”) First is to scare off a couple of gangbangers who are tagging up the graveyard during the day; second is to retrieve a package from one of Talon’s ghouls. Jacob, Becca and Cat take the first task. Sidra, Grigori and Marik’s ghoul Kevin go for the second.
  • SWAT team responds to a shooting at where Jacob, Becca and Cat were directed. Details unknown – local news reported a gang shooting, an old rivalry from the gang wars. Masquerade maintained.
  • Jacob, Becca and Cat return to the graveyard. They disappear in Lemmy’s shack. Lemmy emerges shortly after, in a bit of haste.
  • [Secondhand information] Sidra, Grigori and Kevin arrive at Talon’s ghoul’s home. A woman, recognized as //Daniella Abrantes *// by Kevin, escapes by jumping out the second story window. Inside they find a scene of carnage. Multiple corpses, including a fledgling Nosferatu (not yet old enough to perish in a heap of ash). Only survivor of the massacre: //Frederick Beauregard//, Talon’s ghoul.
  • [Secondhand information] On the drive back, the SUV nearly strikes a fleeing woman. Unknown assailant begins feeding on her, prompting Sidra to leave the safety of the car and attempt to come to the woman’s aid. Grigori implores her to return to the SUV, but it is too late; she is ambushed by the assailant’s comrades (presumably), which are believed to be a Lasombra and a war ghoul. The latter very nearly wrecks the SUV. Grigori is eventually dropped back off at the scene of the crime, where he incapacitates the one remaining (Sabbat?) who stayed behind.
  • Kevin returns with an injured man and a broken down SUV. No Gregory or Sidra to be found. Injured man, presumably Beauregard, heads into Talon’s home.
  • Grigori returns some time later. Claims to have gotten the original (Sabbat?) assailant and wishes to use as a bargaining chip for Sidra’s return. Talon and the rest of the coterie emerge from his underground haven. Nosferatu (friend of Cat’s?) offers his car for the coterie to retrieve the incapacitated (Sabbat?). Talon, Kevin and an associate of Kevin leave in a separate vehicle, headed for the Prince’s haven.
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Prologue
Death of a Primogen
LogoClanMalkavian1.png Harmut’s First Report

I am Harmut Uradel the Third, but my friends call me “Mutt.” Or… wait, no they don’t; I don’t have any friends. Some may call me mad – those among my kind refer to my people as ‘Lunatics,’ and perhaps rightfully so – so it is a bit ironic, being named Harmut. In my native German, it roughly translates to “hardy mind.”

Ha!

Hey, stop writing! You killed me, you son of a bitch! I’m angry as hell, and I’m going to kill all of you!

But you’re writing now, not me, oh wait – now I am writing.

Oh… I better do this tomorrow.


Friday, August 22nd, 2003:
I feel better now. The Prince tells me this is a report going “directly to the top,” whatever that means, but why she chose a Malkavian to do it is beyond me. Whoever this is meant for, you might already know me. My sire was pretty popular in the days of old. Bit of nasty business when he frenzied and started mass-murdering folks, but what can you do? Sometimes these things happen.

He’s long since departed this world, though, and I miss him dearly. He comes to me in my hallucinations sometimes; my favorites are when he and I debate Gehenna with The Prophet. The Prophet usually wins.

Anyway, I may as well explain the earlier writings. You know, I could easily toss that page away, but I have a bit of OCD when it comes to waste. That’s not my main affliction – not by a long shot. I have what we like to call “Sanguinary Animism,” which means if I get a little carried away with my feeding, sometimes the person’s soul takes over my body. An Elder once told me that it was my mind playing tricks on me, not the person’s soul taking over, but that was a lie.

Well, that’s enough about me.

I have been ordered by Prince Cassandra to write about a little coterie she’s developed. Keep track of their movements, shadow them, so on and so forth. I doubt I’m the only one involved; she probably wants you to have multiple reports from multiple sources, which is smart on her part.

Let me begin by introducing the coterie.

First, there’s Rebecca Jones. Fancies herself a singer, and is one of those head-in-the-clouds Daughters of Cacophony. Not even a real Kindred in my opinion. “A Toreador walks into a cave…” Their origin is almost like a bad bar joke!

Next, we have Grigori Ivanovich, calls himself Gregory. Blueblooded Ventrue, hates his sire for being a bit of an asshole, has some difficulty feeding from unwilling vessels. Russian (did the name give it away?) and is quite loyal to the Ivory Tower.

Then there’s Sidra Sweet, the antithesis of our buddy Grigori. A Kiasyd, a freak, a Weirdling. Burn her with fire, I say, but nobody listens to me. I sense in her something hidden… something bad. The voices tell me to keep my distance.

Next, Cat Ballentine. Old cowgirl gunslinger from the Wild West. I think. She just woke up from Torpor, seems real out of place in these modern nights. I’m told she’s a Caitiff, and is the oldest generation of the group.

Finally, Jacob… Calloway? He’s one of those damn Usurpers, and even among them he’s a bit of an outsider. Uses that new path… what do they call it, “Technomagic?” Throw him in the fire with Sidra as well.

How did these five come together? Certainly they’re a mixed bag.

Well, it all started last night.

You see, they were the few Kindred who decided to watch the Toreador Primogen’s concert, Danse Macabre. Suddenly there was a fire, a dead Primogen, and this lot scrambling out of a hidden door.

Now they have to solve this mystery, I’m told.

They spent the remainder of last night here, under surveillance. I talked to the ghoul that drove them here, and he said they were ambushed by a thin-blood and some goons. Sidra had also taken a video of the concert, and it showed a villainous man in a dress talking to the Primogen. Suspicious, much?!

Top that all off, Talon, our Keeper of Elysium and Nosferatu Primogen, is missing. Some weird rumors about him and Bryne, the dead Toreador Primogen, being lovers… disgusting… so that’ll be the first stop for the coterie.

Well, that’s it. Goodbye for now.


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