The Third City

Mission accomplished

From the chronicles of Zadok Solomon, son of the Brujah.

My lord Barocles had assigned me the task of investigating the city of Thebes in order to gather knowledge in regards to the activities of the Settites. I believe I have uncovered a great deal of interesting intelligence in that area. From tablets and papyrus hidden beneath the palace of Sobek, I have learned that the temples of the gods have all been constructed in a specific arrangement, a pattern that is to serve a particular purpose. What this purpose is I have yet to learn, but I do know that it involves all of the vampiric clans, including those wretched Nosferatu. How any can stand to ally themselves with their ilk is beyond me.

This job has been met with considerable difficulty. I have been forced to bunk with those vermin in the necropolis, engaged in battle with crazed Malcavian pseudo-gods, crawled through sewers and been attacked by a Settite man-beast. I have not struggled alone, however. I have recieved support from a fellowkind, a Greek lady known as Arabella. Her assistance has been invaluable and she has my grattitude, though she is on an assignment of her own and must also report to her sire back in Greece. It seems I am to be joining her on this voyage as my lord Barocles and I now sail with her to her land. I am all too intrigued by what awaits us across the sea.

On this expedition, we bring a human in tow: a slave called Pyre, whom Arabella and I liberated from Thebes. He has provided adequate assistance to us during our time in Sobek's midst, and so I felt I owed it to him to help him as he has helped us. As a former tool of the Gods, I am all too familiar with the sufferings Pyre has been forced to endure. It is a miserable excuse of an existence that none deserve, and so I take pride and joy in freeing poor Pyre from his bonds. Unfortunately, it seems I may have removed one pair of shackles from his arms, only to put a different pair on them. As a slave, Pyre is uneducated and will probably not survive independantly. For now, he is in the service of Arabella. I hope I can trust her to treat him with less cruelty than the Settites have, I refuse to see him suffer any further than he has already, and I do not wish him to be snared into this unlife I find myself chained to.

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100 Years Later...

From the chronicles of Zadok Solomon, Son of the Brujah…

Much time has passed since the mission in Thebes, and so much has changed. New truths discovered, new enemies made… and already unsteady loyalties have been broken.

After returning to Phineas Island, we were soon ordered back to Thebes along with a group of servants hired by Arabella's grand-sire. What we saw upon the Egyptian shore when we arrived was a nightmare. Like a wildfire, the Greek god of war, Ares, has stormed through Thebes destroying all in his path. So many dead as far as my eyes could see. Yet this massacre provided cover for us as we went about our mission: infiltrate the Settite temples and liberate the ancient tablets that my master wishes to obtain. In this struggle, we encountered an unlikely ally: the Settite king of death, the necromancer Anubis. With his assistance we uncovered the tablets and liberated the insane Malcavian prothet Panacles, who was being drugged and manipulated into the Settite's service as their Thoth. Though the recovery of Panacles was successful, we suffered significant losses during our escape as Ares turned his wrath on us. It was only through the efforts of Arabella that Ares was convinced to spare us that time, but should we encounter him again…

Once we returned to Greece along with Panacles and also Anubis and a group of his wretched Nosferatu, I was stunned and outraged to discover that my master Barocles and Anubis had met before… and were on friendly terms, no less. How can this be? This monster is our enemy, how can my master be in league with him? This did not bode well.To make matters worse, it seemed that the tablets we had recovered were all fake, and master knew this before we had returned! My fury burned within me; I wanted nothing more at that moment to seize my master and Anubis by their throats and rip their heads right off. Unfortunately there and then wasn't the time, I had no choice but to obey his instructions.

Eventually new instructions came. Arabella and I were to take Panacles home to his 'owner' in Sparta. When we arrived, we informed the lord of Ares' activities and he told us about the Olympian Council. However, our discussions were interrupted by an intruder on the grounds. Arabella and I went to investigate, and we encountered a man, nee a behemoth, who had come for the sole purpose of killing us all. It seemed he was a slayer, one dedicated to the eradication of our kind. The beast was strong, but we prevailed. I managed to stake him and we left Panacles to take care of his burial.

That was a mistake.

When we settled in for the day, we were rudely awakened by the sound of a struggle. Arabella and I investigated the main hall of the retreat, only to find Panacles' keeper slain, apparently killed by the knife I had left embedded in the heart of the brute we had defeated earlier. Panacles had actually released him from his torpor rather than finishing the job by decapitation and allowed him to kill his master. We were then attacked by the brute himself. Taken by surprise, we were unable to prevent his and Panacles' escape, who made off with a jar which he claimed contained a 'special blend'. Arabella and I were soon in pursuit, following their tracks all the way to Athens. After questioning some of the locals, we were directed toward the Temple of Zeus where sure enough we found them. However, we were expected…

Which brings us to the here and now. Arabella and I were kept in a century-long torpor. Upon awakening, the truth was revealed to us: Zeus had been behind everything, all of our past actions. Lord Barocles is in league with him, and he is planning something on a massive scale. I know not what precisely, but the king of Olympus expects me to obey. Which brings us to our current situation: we have been ordered to the ruins of Troy to recover, would you believe it, the Settite tablets. The genuine articles have been moved to this continent during the events of the last century. It seems the Settites have been dethroned and many have gone into hiding, and they have decided to seal away their greatest treasures in the stronghold of Apollo, which is where we are now.

Upon our arrival, who should we have the misfortune to encounter but the Nosferatu? Anubis was after the tablets for his own purposes. Eager to learn of these purposes and toobtain the tablets myself, I struck a deal with the Nosferatu. If we aided them in the tablets' recovery and saw them safely to Anubis, we could have the tablets once he had deciphered them. It wasn't that long until we had recovered the tablets and brought them before the necromancer, where we learned the awful truth: Anubis was going to use the tablets' power to remove the hearts of his Nosferatu and keep them alive with their hearts seperated from their bodies. With that kind of power, Anubis could create his own immortal army. I would not stand for that. The tablets' power is too dangerous for anyone to use. I disrupted Anubis' experiment and fought him, and although he and his followers escaped, they left the tablets behind.

I have had enough now. I cannot trust anyone in this tangled web of deceit. I have been played like a pipe by Settites, Olympians, my own master… NO MORE. I had hoped that one day I could find the opportunity to sever my bonds of servitude forever, to be truly free, to live as I wish. Well now, I realise that is never going to happen unless I take action immediately. Barocles and those behind him have manipulated me for long enough. Whatever Zeus wants with these tablets, it cannot be for any noble cause. So I have taken it upon myself to see that no one can usurp their power. I have destroyed the tablets, I will need to keep Zeus from suspecting me so I shall tell him that it was necessary to prevent Anubis from fully unlocking their power. It may already be too late for that though, so I intend to find Anubis wherever he goes… I will follow him around the globe if I have to, but I cannot allow him to create this army he seeks. Anubis must be destroyed.

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The Great Pilgrimage

From the chronicles of Zadok Solomon, Son of the Brujah.

With the escape of Anubis, Arabella and myself returned to Athens to report the incident to Zeus himself. I must proceed cautiously from this point onward; Zeus will not be so forgiving next time if I destroy any more of his coveted tablets. He bought my story this time, but most lies only work once.

Zeus has ordered me and Arabella to the eastern lands, where another Settite treasury is located. To aid us on our journey, Arabella felt the need to hire one of the locals and blood bond with him. I don't really approve of such methods, but in this case it may be necessary. In the meantime, during the voyage, I've just been feeding off of the rats infesting our ship. Not very appetising, but they get me by.

We took a detour on our voyage and made port at Carthage. Zeus informed us of a Brujah pilgrimage to this land and requested that we… inspect. We Brujah are considered firebrands among the other vampiric clans and the Olympian Council obviously wants to keep us on a tighter leash. Not if I have any say in the matter…

After making port, we encountered on of the Olympians in the city: Hades. I was less than thrilled to meet him, seeing as how I absolutely despise what he and his Settite counterpart practise. He seemed to see right through me, he knew I wanted to meet with the others of my clan. I don't trust him, I have the feeling he might be trying to use me in some way. Whether he's acting as a pawn for Zeus or working to his own agenda, I am uncertain. But I refuse to be toyed with by anyone.

Arabella has remained at Hades' retreat while I seek out my brethren. I met with the clan leader and discussed with him my present line of work and my disgust with constantly being manipulated. My desire for freedom and justice is something he and others seem to share, it seems. He has pointed me in the direction of a possible mentor, a swordsman by the name of Abdul Hasan Haqim. Perhaps with his help, I will find the strength I need to liberate myself from Zeus' shackles. One can always hope…

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The Belly of the Beast

From the chronicles of Zadok Solomon, Son of Brujah…

My training under Master Haqim goes well, despite certain misgivings from some of the other students within the master's abode. One insolent whelp, blinded by envy, provoked me and challenged me to combat. He paid the price for his impudence with his life. I never even found out his name. Of course, it matters not now.

Not long after that incident, I had to return to my previous mission alongside Arabella. We were to venture to Damascus in order to recover a cache of Settite tablets for Zeus. Zeus is mad, his gaining the tablet's power can only spell disaster for the entire world. Unfortunately, how am I supposed to keep the tablets out of his hands and still feign loyalty to him? I cannot openly oppose him now, he is far too strong and his resources are plentiful. I must be patient and pray that Brujah will guide me down the right path.

After retrieving Arabella from the manor of Hades, we have set sail for Damascus. The voyage was long and uneventful, though that soon changed when we arrived. It seems we were expected by one of Hades' servants… as well as the ilk of the one who possesses the prize we seek.

We have discovered that a vampire monarch and his clan, the Zinassi, have sealed the Settite texts away within the vaults of their castle, not far from port. They knew we were coming, and merely as a warning, their beastly servants massacred an entire village. It was like gazing into the netherrealm itself. This was beyond even vampiric decadence.

In order to gain access to the castle, we posed as slaves to be sold to the Zinassi. After gaining entry, we were plucked from the meat pen where several humans awaited a most gruesome end. We were put to work servicing one of the Zinassi's many mistresses and have been granted access to most of the castle. I attempt to find out as much as I can about the castle and what goes on within, hoping that my discoveries will lead me closer to the Settite tablets… and further away from the bloody debauchery that the castle's residents regularly get up to.

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Straying from the path

From the chronicles of Zadok Solomon, son of the Brujah…

Our latest mission has taken a dire turn. Mistakes were made, people have died… and the blame falls solely upon my shoulders.

Within the Zinassi stronghold, Arabella and I have fallen into service with the castle's lord. His name we never discovered, he has always simply been referred to as The Master. He took favour with us and was aware of who we are and why we are here. He took quite a liking to Arabella and adopted her as some kind of apprentice. I think he was just trying to keep us under his thumb, but he claimed to possess knowledge in regards to Arabella's background which she has been desperately seeking for some time now.

The Master brought us down to the castle's lower levels, his inner sanctum, where we discovered the cache of Settite tablets that we have been ordered to retrieve by Zeus. Beneath the sanctum, however, was what appeared to be a Settite library, identical to the one we saw back in Thebes hundreds of years ago. Clearly the Master has had some dealings with the Settites, and the Olympians as he claimed he had been in contact with Hades before.

I was only permitted limited access to the archives before being sent back up to the castle. Apparently the Master's eyes were focussed solely upon Arabella. I feared she may very well turn to his cause, vampires like the Master are devious and manipulative, their powers of persuasion are often formidable. My fears were fueled further after hearing one of the human slaves being dragged down to the Master's sanctum. I had been locked within my quarters when this was occuring; it seems the Master really didn't trust me at all. He was right not to.

I managed to break down my door in hopes of finding out what was happening to the girl who had been taken from the pen, maybe even save her. I also saw an opportunity to bring about a little dissent within the castle. I located one of the vampiric beasts which serve as the Master's attack dogs and guards and killed him, attempting to make it appear that he had tried to kill me in my sleep.

From there, things went terribly downhill, and even that is an understatement. Looking upon the broken body of the thing I had slain, its blood trickling down its body from its freakish mouth… I was overcome with a weakness I never knew existed, that I had never concieved before. In that moment, I sampled the creature's blood… and before I knew it, drained it dry. This moment of weakness was the greatest mistake of my life.

He is inside me now. I can hear him. While appearing to be a feral creature, this vampire very much had a mind. And now it occupies the same space as my own. It has no name, it has no control of my body… but its presence greatly disturbs me. It sifts through my mind, my memories. I cannot stop it. I cannot silence it. It mocks me incessantly, even now as I write I can hear its snide and sinister whispers reminding me that I have faltered from my path.

I could not let this presence impede me, however. Arabella would be depending on me, I had to make sure of what was transpiring down in the sanctum. The slave that had been taken down there was dead, partially deformed by the Master's fleshcrafting. I could not allow Arabella to aquire such knowledge. Even if she claimed never to use it, if she possessed such power, there would always be temptation. Power corrupts, it is the nature of humans and vampires alike. I confronted Arabella and the Master on this matter and they could immediately detect the scent of the vampire I drained, despite my pathetic attempts to hide it. No matter, what was important was that the Master's works were brought to a halt. The Master and I drew swords and fought. The struggle was brief and I emerged victorious. To think a vampire as powerful as he could be defeated so easily. Perhaps I am unaware of my own strength.

Upon the Master's demise, the sanctum began to collapse around us, and the creatures in the castle had turned bestial and mad. Wild dogs without a leash to hold them back. We had to grab what tablets we could and make our escape, but as we fled the castle we witnessed the slaves being savaged by the dead Master's crazed minions. There was nothing we could do. It was my fault. I took the Master down, I made all this happen. I wanted to save these people… but all I did was doom them.

As we ran for the harbour, we witnessed the man we met in the village observing our flight. An emissary of Hades, I believe he was. He seemed to disappear before our eyes just as we cast off from Damascus, never to return.

I tried to explain myself to Arabella, but I don't think anything I said or could say will make a difference. I dashed her hopes of ever finding out about her heritage, of discovering her true potential. I thought I was doing her a favour, maybe I was. Time will tell, for for now I will have to suffer her scorn. She considers me a liability and she is correct. I faltered, I allowed myself to feed on kindred blood even when I didn't need to feed. I cannot be trusted alone anymore and so, from this point on, I dedicate myself to Arabella's whims. For the time-being, she will lead me, at least until we are free of our service to Zeus.

We have returned to Athens and have surrendered the tablets we managed to recover from Damascus. They are incomplete, however, and are written in a most complex language. We do not fully understand them and I hope Zeus will not either. There is one Settite cache left to find, far up in the north. What awaits us beyond the misty horizon, we can only guess.

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Scandinavia

From the chronicles of Zadok Solomon, son of the Brujah.

 One last Settite cache remains to be recovered; far off to the north in the land of Scandinavia. Although my mind is now in the perpetual company of the jackal I foolishly consumed back in Damascus, I shall not let it impede me in my task. However, I am uncertain as to proceed once we have the last tablets. I cannot allow Zeus to obtain such vile knowledge and power, he is threatening enough already. We cannot simply flee, Zeus's agents are spread far and wide and will surely hunt us down. Besides, doing that would only mean Zeus sending others to retrieve the tablets. There must be a way to use these items against him somehow…

Upon arriving in Scandinavia, Arabella and I sought out a guide who can lead us on the right path and translate our tongues into the local language. We found our guide, who warned us of ferocious creatures that dwell in the hills and woodlands: savage brutes capable of becoming either man or animal. I have fought several varieties of dark monstrosities already, these "wolf-men" as the locals call them should be no problem.

As we made our way toward the northernmost hills where pillars of smoke arose, we soon became aware that we were not alone. As it turned out, one of the wolf-men had intercepted us and made an ambush attempt. I was not caught off guard and I successfully dispatched the attacker, who as it turns out is actually a vampire. However, I am unfamiliar with any vampiric clans capable of transforming into wolves.

After I had killed the attacker, I left Arabella to dispose of the body. She took it into the underbrush, and when she emerged I could smell him on her breath. It seems we both have a weakness for feeding on kin. She dared to berate me after my feed in Damascus, but she is a hypocrite, she is no different than I! She tried to deny it, but she could not hide the fact that she fed on another vampire, just as I had. I suppose she too has a strange voice in her head now. Hopefully it's less annoying than the voice I am cursed to spend eternity with.

We continued toward our destination and eventually happened upon deep tracks in the snow. Something had been pulled through this area recently, like some sort of chariot. That wasn't all we discovered… A pungent odour hung in the air, much like the sewers back in Thebes. There was no mistaking that stench: Nosferatu. Anubis is here, undoubtedly seeking the last of the Settite tablets, as we are. It seems we are destined to keep running into each other. This time, however, I'll make sure only one of us walks away. I will find you, necromancer, and when I do… your head will be mine.

 

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A Series Of Incredible Events

From the chronicles of Zadok Solomon, son of the Brujah…

Much time has passed. But from my perspective, centuries seem only to have been minutes.

It began when Arabella and myself had found the Settite cache in Scandinavia. Our old 'friend' Anubis was already there with his horde of Nosferatu. With them was another vampiric clan known as the Gangrel, led by a diminuitive old crone that they call The Hag. It seems these two forces had forged some kind of partnership and were aiding each other in unearthing the Settite tablets. We had hoped to enter the cave before they made their way inside, but we were ambushed by a group of Nosferatu.

The urchins' attack was for naught, we easily managed to dispatch most of them. Arabella used her talent for dominance to frighten the two surviving wretches into aiding us. However, during the scuffle, Arabella drained one of the assailants and now has both a Gangrel barbarian and one of those sewer filth occupying her mind at once. (How she could stomach that sickly Nosferatu swill, I'll never know.) Before we could venture into the cave, we had to erase our guide Skulder's memory, who had the misfortune to witness our struggle and see me and Arabella for what we truly are.

With the two Nosferatu guiding us, we followed our foes into the cave. As we made our way inside, the cave became more and more familiar to us, the chambers and corridors constructed in an identical manner to those of the Settite libraries in Thebes that we raided centuries ago. We soon found the main library, and like the one in Thebes, the tablets were all fake. The real archive was behind a door with a strange lock. Luckily Arabella remembered the combination from the one in Thebes and this one was the same.

After gaining entry, our Nosferatu guides bolted, scurrying back to their dark master. We hadn't the time or manpower to completely loot the chamber so Arabella and I each took a tablet and made our escape. When we emerged from the cave, we found that Anubis's carriage was unguarded. Fools! I immediately took the driver's seat and easily coerced the horse to obey, and we were on our way.

As we rode back toward port, Arabella took the time to study some of Anubis's notes regarding his necromantic practices. Among these texts was a spell that could allow one to travel across the spirit realm. A truly fascinating power, and one that could be immeasurably useful… if the spell was performed correctly.

The snow began to pick up the closer we got to port and the horse was showing clear signs of fatigue. We could hear the Gangrel approaching. We decided to take the risk of using the spell that would allow us to cross the spirit world and get us back to Greece in the blink of an eye. That was the result we hoped for, at least… but not the one we got.

Arabella's incantation wasn't precise, and so our course through the spirit realm was altered. The spirit realm was truly a sight to remember, whether one would want to or not. It seemed to appear as a darker version of the material world, with all forms seemingly constructed from the souls of the dead. All the more astonishing was the appearance of a figure who resembled the ancient lord of the Underworld, Osiris. It was incredible… but it was really him. He approached us, spoke to us, told us it was not our time. He opened a pathway for us, and so we set off.

Something went wrong as we passed through the passage. We did not emerge in Greece as we had hoped. Instead, we appeared before a large, dark temple where the mist of souls seemed to be drawn. At this point we became seemingly stranded as the horse seemed to charge forward toward the temple in blind panic. As it ran it seemed to deteriorate and die before us. Something about this place was bringing out the creature's fears… and mine, as well. I found myself facing what I perceived to be the tortured, vengeful soul of my long-dead mother, reaching out to me with decayed hands and even reaching with her exposed innards.

Arabella managed to help me awake from my nightmare, luckily she did not seem to be as badly affected by this place as I. I was not the only one, however. Looking off into the distance, we witnessed the arrival of Anubis and several of his ilk, no doubt in pursuit of the stolen carriage. The Nosferatu were going mad at the sight of this realm. I dare not imagine what they were seeing, but I could clearly see them killing each other in blind panic and rage, until only Anubis himself remained.

Anubis approached us, clearly thirsty for blood and vengeance. If he wanted to fight, I was only too happy to oblige, drawing my blades and preparing to end this bastard's unholy existence once and for all. Our conflict was unexpectedly interrupted, however. No one would believe it, but only the mightiest and most divine of all the Gods had intervened… Lord of the Sun, mighty Ra himself. I bowed before him… he urged me to rise. Anubis could not bare to stand in the mighty one's presence, vanishing and cursing us as he did so.

A great light tore through the darkness of the realm, the brightest sunlight I had ever experienced in life or unlife, and yet I did not burn. I felt comfortably warm, still able to see the Sun God's stunning visage in the all-encompassing light. And high above Him, where the black sky had torn and the light was shining through, was the magnificent Golden Barge. With a strong yet compassionate voice Ra beckoned us on our way.

And then the light was replaced with darkness again, but not the shrill void of the spirit realm. We found ourselves in a strange street, surrounded by soldiers emblazoned with a red cross on their uniforms. We know not who they were, but they were ready to execute us right where we stood. However, we were led away toward a chapel which, for reasons unknown, Arabella and I could not enter. We were then led toward a house where we were questioned about the circumstances of our arrival. I asked the priest who was present what year it was, and while perplexed by the question, he answered: 1100 AD.

That couldn't be possible! That would mean we had travelled centuries into the future! However, the priest and soldiers were not interested in further questions from us and were preparing to kill us. Fortune smiled upon us though, as the humans were assassinated before us by fellow kindred. Our saviours led us away to their hideout, which is where we currently take refuge.

Yes, much time has passed. 1300 years, if what the Christians tell us is true. So much has changed. Greece has been invaded by a force known as the British Empire, a power rapidly expanding throughout the world and spreading the gospel of the 'one true God'. Humanity has now become well aware of the existence of vampires and work to exterminate our kind. Though the clans have united against the humans, we remain divided by our choices of faith. Several vampires have converted to Christianity, which the Brittons follow also. It is clear that Christianity deems our kind as monsters and sinners, so how any of us can follow this kind of faith I have no idea, but I intend to find out.

Other vampires have converted to the word of Islam, which my short-term mentor Haqim followed. From what Necrohotep tells me (he now serves the Christian cause), he is commanding the Islamic movement against the Christians, and apparently Anubis has joined him. I was hoping I had seen the last of that Settite filth, but it seems our fates are intertwined. I find myself caught in the middle of this holy struggle, uncertain of which side to take, if indeed any. I require some perspective in these current matters. I've heard one side of the story, but what of the other? I need to find Abdul Haqim, find out where he stands in all of this. Maybe then, I will know where I should stand.

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Solomon's Quest

From the logs of Zadok Solomon, misplaced child of the Brujah…

In this new and strange time, I find myself at a crossroads. With the Kindred clans dividing between two religious factions, I am uncertain of which side to take, if either. I have only heard one side of the story, that of the Cainites who rescued me and Arabella after our sudden arrival in this alien time period.

I require perspective in these current matters, and so I have decided to seek out the Islamic zealots and learn what I can from them. I am especially eager to find my former mentor – Abdul Hasam Haqim. His whereabouts are presently unknown, though Father Lucius has graciously informed me of my old teacher's last known location. In return, I have agreed to share my findings with him and his kin. Of course, precisely how much information I dig up remains to be seen, and even then he need not know the full extent of the knowledge I gather.

Unfortunately, Arabella has not opted to join me in this endeavour, instead remaining in Lucius's hideaway in order to continue her studies, perhaps even try and track down her former contact, Hades. I am saddened by this parting, Arabella has been a great companion up until now. I can but hope that we will meet again soon, and I intend to make that hope a reality once my sojourn to Antiok is concluded.

I have snuck away within the cargo hold of a trading vessel headed to Antiok. The humans have become more wary of our kind now and have ways of recognising us, so I must be extra cautious. It seems on this voyage, however, I am not alone. Something is here with me. It does not identify itself and so I do not know whether to regard it as friend or foe. I shall keep my sword drawn…

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