[This draft will need to be edited down, but I hate rewriting on trains. Once I find somewhere to work in NYC I can revise. —PH]
Sacrifice is, unquestionably, the defining aspect of Kindred existence.
Now, I can hear your protests already. We are predators, I hear you say. Wolves among sheep. The Beast defines us, not some Judeo-Christian claptrap about right and wrong. The Lance says we are made predators by God, the Circle gives the Crone (or Goddess or Hag or All-Beast or whatever theosophical nonsense they’ve cooked up lately) the same authority, but they are wrong. Dead wrong.
We have sipped from a poisoned chalice, Kindred, and only that same chalice can lift from our shoulders the burden of sacrifice. Only the Grail offers salvation, that keystone of history on which both Crochan and Christ shed their Vitae. From which my line, the Bron, in their hubris drank when they were Not Worthy to do so.
Sacrifice. We all give up so much, and so my tale began…
In Philadelphia at this time, the Cult of the Goddess had seized autocratic control in a city that had been, since Franklin’s day, ruled by the Esoteric Companions of the Mystic Dragon (a Masonified offshoot of the Ordo Dracul). And among their beloved rituals was the idiotic perpetuation of an ahistorical practice called the “Oak King”. Essentially, a male Kindred is selected to live a life of privilege and luxury for one full lunar year until the day when he is messily devoured on an altar at midnight as the divine goddesses cavort in his blood, feminine power, the Sacred Crone, vagina-penis-baby-envy, yes yes yes it’s all very dramatic and would make for gripping television.
Quite serious for Mr. Eisenstadt, but still, almost comic in its purpose. They really thought that was something integral to Kindred existence? This was old, deep magic? Please.
I’d been catching up on my correspondence and conducting research for the Quest that night. I was, in point of fact, preparing a thank you note for Ms. Romano for obtaining Vatican Archive Lot #3009 for me with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of efficiency. Fascinating Gnostic text, might have some coded references to the continuation of Classical Kindred pagan religious practices into some aspects of Cruac and Crone Worship. Glad I managed to take it along before, well. I get ahead of myself.
[Should still mail that thank you note, it’s only courtesy. Wonder if she survived. Doubtful. Ah well, I’ll just not sign the thing and leave the details vague, they likely won’t know it was me. —PH]
Shockingly, the Oak King was running late and her grand-high Self Righteousness wanted volunteers to go on blood hunt for the bastard. I’d hoped Otto had made it to Newark by the time they sent up the flag, but I volunteered anyway for an excuse not to be at Oak Park. Far too much to do. I went straight home, naturally. Best decision of my unlife, as it turns out.
They must have taken all of them, it’s the only explanation. They wouldn’t have come after me if it wasn’t done whole and properly. Tear the Circle out by the roots and then burn the roots. I wonder who they’ve picked for Prince? Baltimore? Probably not, too intellectual. St. John, God the Creator, there’s a terrifying thought. That man would turn up his nose at Strom Thurmond as a bleeding liberal. Likely him, then. Invictus are so predictable.
The call was from Jake Pulaski and was brief. Ten minutes. Ten minutes, I had, because the firebomber was stuck in traffic, otherwise I’d already be ash. I have not survived in the Quest this long because I have a knack for hesitation. I grabbed the stash of Krugerrands, my laptop, my wallet, Lot #3009 and my personal effects. The rest be taken by fire, and may God damn them all.
I bought my ticket in cash and now sit here, writing this missive, waiting for the train to leave. They’re just finishing boarding now…
Well, well. So Ms. Rurik did survive. Blood flows thicker than coin after all. This should be interesting, to say the least.
By the Holy Grail, Yours,