The Chantry house was quiet, for once. Regent William Michaels was at his desk,
waiting for a most important phone call. It should have come an hour ago. Perhaps
their treaty with the Setites was not going over well. Not that it mattered...the
Camarilla, and therefore the Tremere, had no interest in keeping their side of the
deal. The snakes had to be chased out. Their magic was a serious threat of
competition to that of the "warlocks," as the Tremere were aptly called. True,
the Assamites had their own sorcery. However, with their recent merger with
the clans of the Camarilla, the assassins' magic would be harder to wipe out.
The Setites, on the other hand, were widely distrusted among the Camarilla. It
had only taken some minor convincing on the part of the Regent for the Prince
to believe that the Independent clan had to go. There was simply no place for
them in the area. Their institutions of vice got in the way of the Toreador and the
local Ravnos (even if there was only one gypsy in the domain), and their
evangelical behavior towards other Kindred was an annoyance. The fact that
some of the clan knew the secrets of thaumaturgy was the icing on the cake
for clan Tremere.
The phone call never came. The Chantry stayed still and quiet for the remainder
of the night.
The word was like a poison that was seeping through the dead veins in her body.
"Praxis." It had been whispered at a clan event. The party after Primogen
Peters' new show. The show had been a hit. The gathering afterwards had been
slow. Mortals and Toreador. No real fun to be had...save for overhearing the
wrong...or maybe the right...conversation. Praxis. The Harpy grinned, and her
reflection mirrored the gesture. A praxis wouldn't necessarily be bad. Everyone
knew the Prince was under the control of the Ventrue Councilor. Perhaps one
of the Roses would make a better leader. After all, it was said that the only
difference between Toreador and Brujah was the clan weakness. Both were
full of inspiring passion. However, Adelle knew that Cantley wouldn't give up
the throne easily. Someone would have to speak with him about it, before the
plans proceeded. Being in the position of Harpy, she saw herself as the prime
suspect for such a mission. The Kindred under his rule would not easily shift
their loyalty, either. Cantley was a born leader. His charisma was beyond
compare, and he had a natural air of authority. None of the Roses could claim
such fortunate blessings. None save the Elder, Martin James, but he was far
too arrogant to be good for the domain.
Adelle could think of no one but herself within clan Toreador who had the
experience and the...je ne se quois...to rule. But she wouldn't be Prince. Not
for all the art in the Louvre. Well, maybe for that.
What other clan could be trusted? That was the question she had to ask herself
now. If the Camarilla was truly in need of a new Prince, who would be the best
candidate? Who could she support? Of course, her most public support would
have to go to any clanmate who was up for the job...but behind the scenes, she
had ways of subtlely siding with others.
The Brujah were the ones being Praxised.
The Malkavians didn't have stable enough minds to lead.
The Nosferatu would be worthy, if one would step up to the job. They already
knew all the secrets of the domain, and would have that advantage. It was
also a disadvantage to the citizens. Keeping secrets was vital to most of the
The Toreador...Adelle had thought of them. A Rose would have to prove himself
over and over if in a position of power. They were not viewed as a politically
powerful clan in the domain.
Nobody trusted the Tremere enough to allow them to hold Praxis.
Ventrue saw themselves as the leaders of the Camarilla. They already influenced
the mind of the current Prince. Perhaps Alice, once approached on the subject,
would see merit in claiming Praxis. Adelle knew that clan Ventrue was something
of a "boys club," and the women therein received little respect. Being Prince
would give Alice something to hold over their heads.
As Harpy, Adelle Stuart realized that in the situation of a Praxis, status mattered
little. What was relevant was what was best for the domain. If another could
prove that he--or she--could better lead the Camarilla, then so be it. Adelle,
after all, was empowered by the Primogen and not the throne. It was tradition.
Her eyes opened. She grinned. Surely, the mortal whose body she'd just left
would be very confused. But that was the least of her worries. The word "Praxis"
had been whispered at the Toreador party. They hadn't expected any other
clans to show up--much less in possession suits. The Roses were much too
caught up in their own affairs to concern themselves with something like that.
The only conflict she now saw was what to do with the information. Her clan
would want to go too far with it--investigate the whole affair, find the traitor,
and report to the Prince with the information. Like dogs bringing a newspaper
to their master in exchange for a treat. There would be an issue of granting
status, and she didn't want that. Not right now. She needed to guarantee her
own political situation within the Camarilla before she could allow that. Besides,
Cantley had ruled for several months now. It was about time for someone to
seize Praxis. Right on schedule.
Perhaps the clan would attempt to do it themselves, if they heard the rumor.
It could very well get some of them out of the way, if the Prince knew of their
treachery. The traditions were, after all, against such betrayal of the throne.
They would be destroyed for their treason, and she would be able to seize some
control over the clan...but did she want that? It would make her a high-profile
member indeed. High-profile meant danger. She knew that. Especially for one
in her situation. Taking on a greater role than the one she already had would
provoke investigation. She didn't want that. Couldn't allow it. She knew her
past...and she had to guard it well.
Briggs glanced at his watch. An hour until sunrise. He hurried down the hallway
towards the front door of his haven, double-checking the series of locks on the
entrance. Everything was in order. It seemed that way. Something was pricking
at Henry's subconscious. Something was wrong.
~Having problems, Henry?
He jumped at the voice. "Who's there?"
Just you and me, Henry. Just us.
The doors had been locked all day and all night. There was no way anybody
could have gotten inside. He glanced around. He found himself alone, as
expected. The rooms were all empty. He checked for any unexplained auras.
Nothing. He chuckled. The stress of these past nights must be getting to him
more than he'd expected.
No, Henry. It's not stress.
The voice was starting to sound alarmingly familiar.
So now you get it, Henry. You remember your mistake.
"No...it's not real...you're dead. Lucas is dead."
I'm very real, Henry. And I'm going to be real for the rest of your unnatural life.
Briggs shook his head slightly, trying to force away the demons.
You'll never get rid of me. Never. I'll always be here...
He summoned up all of the willpower he knew he possessed and concentrated
on the fact that he was alone. The voice went away. Shaking, Henry
made his way to the room where rest awaited.