The Prince of Angels
I am by no means your normal Toreador. The knowledge that I gleaned in the few years since my Embrace has told me that much, little fragments of lore on the Cainite ways. I suspect my sire to be Brujah Antitribu; my lack of inclination toward learning the powers of Auspex adds to my suspicion, yet neither am I preternaturally strong. While I am not as prone to furious outbursts as the Brujah tend to be, I have to admit to a certain short-temper. And my own lapses into Toreador-entrancement could very well be explained as psychological-conditioning picked up from my mentor, even as a mortal, I have always had an eye for beauty. I am far from being exceptionally creative, nor do I possess ethereal beauty.
I am by no means your normal Toreador – yet for a year now, I have been the Toreador Prince of Los Angeles.
Sitting now in my Council Chamber, my eyes linger upon the slow dance of cigarette-smoke twisting gently upward from its ember, so like the raising of a soul to a heaven now forever denied us. The room is in darkness, save for the pinpricks of light sparkling from the city without, the City of Angels, my city. I hear the twinkling voices of my three childer, like the mortal women they so recently were, like all Toreador, engaged in gossip. They sit in leather in a far corner of the room, beyond my throne by a round oak table, and its twelve empty chairs. I do not have to see them to know that their eyes, like mine, will be glowing an eerie red, as the shining of cats’ eyes, the supernatural side effect of sight even in total darkness. Marleen will be sitting straight, as near to me as I would allow, her firearm within easy reach. She takes her duty as my bodyguard a little too seriously – but I suppose, with Steel busy with his own affairs, I would have to endure her maternal overprotectiveness, like I endure the kevlar undercoat she insists I wear. The twins, Virgo and Venus, on the other hand, are perfect in their role as my assistants. Extremely gorgeous, educated and well read, cultured, musically inclined – why, I wonder at my luck at having found them, but, really now, who needs luck when you are a Prince? I sometimes think that, when I send one of them in my stead to a function or another in my honour, the host does not so much mind as is grateful.
The City of Lost Angels
Thinking of my childer reminds me of how far I have travelled. My coterie had arrived here on the run. After committing diaberie upon the Gangrel Mitzi, the Blood Hunt was called upon us in Chicago, then our home. We were Anarchs, and LA was the Anarch Free States, the no-man’s land between the Camarilla and the Sabbat. Marleen was my ghoul back then, before I was forced to Embrace her or leave her to suffocate while we were trapped in a vault during the Blood Rain. I wonder if, without the Bond, she would resent that her Embrace was out of need, and not desire. That was a year ago, and I had been going through a crisis of sorts.
I used to believe myself truly immortal, that eternal life meant nothing, save fire or sunlight, could end eternal nights. I used to take for granted that I was a Toreador and that my clan and the Camarilla would shelter me always, then came the Blood Hunt. I had always assumed that my Presence, the sheer force of my personality, could overwhelm, or at least subdue, anyone, until Mitzi reflected my power upon myself. The helplessness I felt during that battle compared well to the first time I was staked, which happened soon after we left Chicago. My arrival in LA was heralded by an Assamite sent against me by an unknown enemy, with my survival thanks only to the protection of my coterie. I could no long believe myself immortal, but I damned well was going to be.
Mitzi’s dark blood coursing through my veins, his voice whispering to me from beyond Final Death, and all my doubts coming to a crux… As I had no secure haven and could not protect myself during the hours of day, I found Marleen to protect me. As I was unsure that I was Toreador by Blood, I sought an Art to call my own, that I could be Toreador by merit, and since this was Hollywood, after all, I wanted to make movies. But first, if the Camarilla will not forgive me my transpasses, then I will have to make them. And if the Presence of my personality was not enough, then it will have to be the Presence of my power. I will be Prince.
The War in Heaven
My original plan to taking the title was simple and elegant, bordering on naive. We had made a reputation for ourselves among the Anarchs, for the trouble we caused in Chicago and after, and I wanted to use that reputation to summon a gathering of the city’s kindred. With the Sabbat attacks getting more frequent, I would appeal to the Anarchs, as one of their own, to allow me to claim LA as a Camarilla Prince. Their sacrifice of a small measure of their freedom, in exchange for the support of the Camarilla against the Sabbat, necessary to their survival.
I never found out if my brilliant plan would have worked, because that very night the Sabbat launched their Crusade. We banded the few remaining Anarchs into a defence, and sent them to do the best they could. After we ourselves dispatched two Sabbat packs to their Final Punishment, we were confronted by one Christopher Holden, along with his entourage; he was an elder of the city, and, I was later to learn, the secret power pulling the strings of LA. Fortunately, the timely intervention of an old ally of ours sent Christopher into torpor, though our friend was deathly wounded and left us for safer pastures.
The horizon was alight with fire, and there were no Sabbat left, nor, it seems, any other kindred. LA was ours, what was left of it, under the light of the beautiful false dawn.
Those Who Stand by God’s Throne
Midnight nears. I snuff out the cigarette between my fingers, dropping its remains casually into an ashtray and looking up as the twins walk forward, feeling my unvoiced desire for them to attend me. I instruct them to take care of the night’s business, and that I was not to be disturbed, dismissing with a lazy wave their questioning glances. I see the concern in their pale auras at my increasing apathy, my lack of interest in personal affairs, and I assure them it is only because they do my job for me so well.
Marleen locked the doors behind them as they left, and quietly moves into the shadows behind me, slipping on a pair of dark glasses to hide her glowing eyes. My own eyes settled on the eleven empty chairs around my council table.
Directly to my right was the seat of Steel Malone, Brujah Primogen and my closest friend. Like myself, Steel has mellowed in recent times, and he now rules the streets he once so eagerly fought in. I hear his name is whispered in awe by the young punks who think they rule the night, blessedly unbeknownst of our presence among them. It is his own blessing that he does not see the irony in becoming the authority he once so valiantly fought against.
Upon my left is the seat of Clyde Wriek, whom we call the Marquis. Malkavian Primogen, or, as he prefers to be addressed, the “Omnipotent Ruler of All Malkavians”. He is touched by and in touch with madness, and can steal the secrets in man’s minds as well as their hearts. Though he hates to called upon, he is always there to help with whatever matter, however trivial, and we all know he could simply disappear.
The Nosfarutu Gunthar Sly seats on Steel’s right, as Sheriff of my city. Beyond physical might, he is also the Keeper of Mysteries, as Marquis is the Keeper of Secrets. Background on anything and anyone, information spread across the computer networks and thought to be ‘secure’. In that electronic spider-web, the Nosferatu moves on borrowed wires. Though he has left us for other adventures, the air has a certain scent, and I am sure he will return soon, until then, his seat is empty, awaiting its proper owner.
Steel, the Marquis and Gunthar. Were it not for them, I would not be alive, much less Prince. These are the three that have earned my trust. And I can only hope that I do not disappoint their trust in me.
To Marquis’ right seats Dennis Tracer, Ventrue Primogen. To his credit, he recognises power when he sees it, and bows accordingly. Life would be simpler were more of the Blue Bloods to be thus enlightened.
Katherine Giovanni seats next, as the first of my three advisors. Though they tell us to be wary of the Giovanni, Katherine has served me well beyond her position as my financial advisor.
Two of my own clan sit next, Lacroix and Wrothius, both newly rejoined the Council of Angels. Though new to my city, they have proved capable, and, more importantly, perhaps, they make entertaining company.
Again to my left, beyond Gunthar, seats, in their turn, the Nosferatu, Gangrel and Tremere Primogen – “mere players they, who come and go.”
And directly across from me, the last, empty, seat.
The House of God
Marleen walks forward, “Jonathan,” she whispers, and stops a step away as I sigh before looking up. She is holding my oak box, setting it on the table before continuing, “One of the Barons is here to see you, he insists it is deadly important…” Her voice trails off, sensing the displeasure radiating from me.
My fingers run across the old wood, if I had buried my humanity, this would be my coffin. The carvings upon its surface are of roses, and the silver clasp I flip open, an ankh. Lined in crimson velvet, my silver guns shimmer like the ghostly dream they are. The upper left corner holds three sealed test tubes of elder vitae, the right my spare keys, between them three silver bullets, engraved with the names of the three vampires that share my soul. I close the lid and stand, placing the box where I sat and pressing one of the many knotholes on my throne, turning as my seat fell open into a tunnel leading to my underground haven. An escape route serves just as well as a means of keeping your things safe.
“Very well, then, let us see what it is this time.” Feeling weary, I started for the door, Marleen already holding it open. The top floor of my building is divided into four; my council room, my personal suites and offices, a room for private parties and my throne room. The cleverness of the design lie in the lobby at the centre – the express lifts open in such a way that the destination of its passengers is the only route apparent, and the rooms themselves provide an optical illusion, seeming to take up the half the floor, thus a visitor will never suspect more than two rooms on the top floor. Of course, such a design takes up an extraordinary amount of space, and the floor would equal three of any other building.
Through hidden passages and stairs I walk, absently glancing at the monitors that line the walls. The offices within the building proper are only barely subdued, a moneymaking machine that never ceases. The discos, pubs and sidewalk cafes that make up the ground floor of the block, two storey affairs that surround all but one face of my building, are crowded with chine. The twins are laughing as they attend an art exhibition in one of my galleries.
I enter my throne room.