The court reconvened a week after the Battle. The wounded still required constant treatment, and tradesmen would be busy repairing the city for quite some time. Chax’s creatures had inflicted a fair amount of damage, Emrys responsible for more still. There was no celebratory spirit in the aftermath, only the grim determination to return to normalcy. I did receive one piece of good news. Nosferatu develop a thick skin regarding disdain, which apparently Menw took quite literally. Though sorely wounded, he survived the fight.
I arrived in the Court Annex of the Cathedral and was surprised to note three chairs on the dais, with two benches in front. Ettori had already arrived and was standing by himself. Kordell, Dayna and Menw sat on the Benches, whilst Emrys stood impassively in his shadowy corner, wearing an identical set of robes to those he normally wore. He must have many sets, given the size of his transformation, I assumed. Launce and Guenhav were dressed for the occasion, looking every bit the noble courtiers and nothing like the merciless killers of the battle. Guenhav made some effort at concealing her disdain. Launce nodded in acknowledgement. Progress. Garronwy was about his business sweeping a floor that was clean hours ago, and ignored me.
Dandrain hurried up behind Ettori and I. “Good, you are both here. You are to be the guests of honour today, sitting with the Prince. Ettori if you would take the chair on the right, Ethan on the Prince’s left.”
He exited the annex, presumably to the courtyard and guardhouse.
“Do you think he means now?” I looked around at Ettori and the other court members, and received no answer but a smirk from Launce. Ettori shrugged and simply climbed the dais and took his seat. Seeing no other option, I joined him.
I did not like all the attention on me. In retrospect, fixing the image of Ethan in the mind of the court was actually not a bad thing, a fixed false impression would force assumptions on the court. Assumptions I could later use. The Prince entered ten minutes later which came as something of a relief. Ettori leapt to his feet, Kordell and Dayna rising with slightly more dignity. Menw stood, aided by a crutch. Realising I should do the same, I rose too.
The Prince took centre stage and bid everyone but Ettori and I sit. I also noted three strangers had entered the rear of the court, accompanied by Dandrain. Interesting. Daeryn took position behind the Prince to his left, whilst Khonsu stood back and to his right.
“Kindred of Cardiff, honoured guests, Welcome. This evening we have a number of issues to discuss. Firstly, I wish to report that repairs to the city are progressing, and the wounded are receiving care. Second, I wish to announce that we have collected the ashes of the creature Chax and split them into eight portions. We have kept one to monitor and the other seven have been sent to the furthest reaches.”
Silence fell upon the court as everyone present took stock of the Prince’s words; the only sound the clattering of Garronwy’s broom. Ettori and I destroyed Chax’s body, though Daeryn had confirmed that a being such as he could not be so easily killed. Banished, perhaps, but not killed.
“As you all know, the men standing with me, Ettori of the Lasombra and Ethan of the Nosferatu, were instrumental in this monster’s defeat. We only welcomed them to the court a short time ago, however they have more than earned their place as prominent members of this court. Kindred of the city, esteemed guests and new arrivals, please show them due honour.”
Menw was the first to clap, followed by Launce, Dayna and the rest of the court. Ettori, to his credit, did not look smug. He glanced at me, and I could see he was proud. Not sure where to look, I settled for my boots, murmuring my thanks before the Prince instructed us both to sit.
“Next, we move to new arrivals. Kordell and Dayna answered my call. They have both petitioned to remain within the city. However, as they are both established, I require a member of the court to second their request. Will anyone second Kordell?”
Kordell had kept himself busy over the last week, providing special sermons to the citizens of Cardiff. In a few weeks, with wounds treated and buildings repaired, there would be little evidence of any attack on the cities and fewer memories. He also supplied the weapons that aided in destroying Chax. He would be an asset. Unsurprisingly, Ettori spoke.
“I presume I can second?” The Prince nodded. “I second Kordell. He fought hard, helped in the aftermath and wouldn’t look out of place in a Cathedral.”
“Good, Ettori. I extend to Kordell my permission to make a haven within the domain of Cardiff. Welcome.”
There was an approving murmur from the court, though less energetic than when Ettori and I were given honour. I can only assume we gained such positive response because we were young and haven’t made enemies. Yet. Kordell probably has alliances with kindred and to approve of him might be politically trying for some members of the court.
“Dayna also seeks permission to Haven in Cardiff. Will anyone speak on her behalf?”
My eyes fell on Dayna still garbed as a Nun, her forehead conspicuously covered by her attire. I sought her out the night after the battle, finding her at the Inn treating the wounded. I found her, arms covered in blood and other bodily fluid and still looking serene for it. She reluctantly consented to speak to me privately, not wishing to be away from the wounded over-long.
We took a table in the corner, in deference to her need to remain close to the patients. It was of this compassion I wished to speak. “I wanted to properly thank you. You saved me from the curse Chax put on me. You probably saved my life. If ever you need my help, you have but to ask.”
Dayna seemed genuinely pleased at my offer. “Thank you, Ethan, I am sure I will take you up on that.”
Of course, my motives were never as simple as thanking her. “I was very surprised you were able to do it. I wasn’t aware that our kind had the healing arts.”
She smiled. “Yes, in the rush to prepare, I was never properly introduced. I am Dayna. Of the Salubri.”
My sire told me of the Salubri. Vampires with a third eye; a third eye covered, in this case, by her habit. I do not know if he ever met one. “I had heard Salubri were warriors.”
“Some of us are Healers. Others are warriors.” The warmth had gone from her expression. I decided that pushing further was unwise.
“In this instance I am glad my information was incomplete. My thanks again.”
She nodded and returned to her patients. I left her to it as there was much to do.
“I will speak for Dayna,” I said. “Her arts and her compassion, will help heal the wounds of this city and we would be foolish to turn her out.”
“Thank you, Ethan. You are quite correct, and I am happy to accept Dayna as a member of this court.”
There was another murmur of approval. Dayna inclined her head in my direction, which I acknowledged with a nod.
“Next, as we have recently seen, there are benefits of adding younger blood to our number. As such, we have three more petitioners wishing to make their haven in Cardiff. Present yourselves.”
The three newcomers approached, shepherded by Dandrain. A man and a woman both wearing travelling clothes of sturdy weave, hers more like armour than anything else. And the third, a woman, set apart from the other two as she was wearing a long red dress. More curious, she was breathing.
The first girl presented herself. She was just a bit grubby as I was before my embrace, a sure sign of hard living and poverty. “My name is Elspeth, of Clan Gangrel. My companions and I heard your call for Cainites to join your court, and we come in response.”
A Gangrel. My sire had a lot of respect for them, as the only clan absolutely associated with wilderness living. Where a fraction of my clan are at home with nature, for them it is life. It breeds hardy folks.
The gentleman stepped forward. His garb was slightly newer and in better state, and where dirt left black marks on Elspeth’s face, he was clean. “I am Hurin, of the Ventrue. I too seek to reside within your domain, Prince Emerick.”
Emerick seemed pleased with their introduction and gestured to the girl in the red dress. Where the other two looked like commoners, she appeared almost regale. Where they were dirty, she was clean. She joined her companions and spoke softly. “Prince Emerick, I am Soni. I have no clan as I am not of your kind, I am a sorceress. I have reached a mutual accord with Elspeth and Hurin, which we have all benefited from. I seek shelter in your court and offer my services in exchange for your protection.”
“Soni, so long as you offer no threat to me or my court, you and your comrades are welcome here.”
A Gangrel travelling with a Ventrue was strange. A Gangrel and Ventrue travelling with a Sorceress was stranger still. Things had just gotten much more interesting.
“I recognise Kordell, Dayna, Elspeth, Hurin and Soni as members of my court. May they be protected by my laws, and justly punished should they defy them.” The Prince stood, clapping and smiling. Launce and Menw joined the Prince, and even Guenhav and Emrys managed to appear enthusiastic. Ettori and I took to our feet joining the applause.
New arrivals. It was only a week before that had been me. It was not the first time I learned that a lot can happen in a week. Nor was it the last.
“My final order of business this evening relates to Ettori and Ethan. It was right and proper to acknowledge their contribution by making them full members of this court as the first order of business, however it is also right and proper that we come back to them now.”
I could see a toothy grin on the scarred face of my elder; he wasn’t even trying to hide it. Menw either knew or suspected what was coming. Truth to tell, I had an inkling even back then.
“In the face of great danger, neither ran. Whether this was bravery or pragmatism doesn’t really matter. They both stood their ground, and as such I now name them Defenders of Cardiff!”
He did it. Made us Kindred of station within the court, exposing us to scrutiny, the politics of the powerful, and more danger most likely. Still, I felt just a bit proud at that point. Menw nodded his approval at me and Launce’s smile appeared genuine. Even Guenhav appeared less hostile than usual.
“Kindred of Cardiff, please acknowledge our new Defenders!”
Friends, I feel I must close this chapter at this point. I have shared the story of how I became Mycroft, and Ethan. I have shared the story of my first major trial, the trial of Chax. And I have shared the story of how Emerick thrust me into courtly politics leading to my interest in hunting in that setting. I still have many tales to tell, but I have been writing for many hours. And my Prince expects my counsel in court this eve. I do not like to disappoint her.
Elder of the Nosferatu
Childe of the Old Man of the Woods
Here ends volume one of the Mycroft Journals
The Mycroft Journals is a serialised fiction, written in response to a roleplaying game I play in. It serves multiple purposes. It acts as a permanent reminder of what happened in the story (so, it helps us players), it acts as an advert for the game, and I think our Games Master has provided us with a compelling story, which other people should get to experience.
Featured artwork is by Barry Martin. Check out his page