The Dragon's Trial [ attn: William, Vee, Bertram ]
They are below and the rest of the world is above.

That is as it should be for these five cold corpses animated by what some would consider a curse, others a blessing, and still more some freak of nature or strange disease.

The Cardinal.

The Brujah antitribu.

The Tzimisce Sire.

The Tzimisce Childe.

The silent Lasombra.

But they are deeper than the six feet many would expect (hope) they might (should) be. And none sit in simple pine or finely upholstered hardwood boxes with all the amenities of eternal comfort and decay.

No, they are unliving and congregated in a dark sabbath, a coven in the back of some church to a mythology - a monotheism - so few of even their kind truly understand. This cave-cum-dungeon-cum-temple is past the more fathomable proper of the Cardinal's basilica. Deep below the Lady of the Mountain's chateau.

Simple knee-high slabs of stone serve as five long rows of pews. There is stained glass depicting scenes of the first murderer's passion play out. Abel fallen. The angels' curses by God's word. The wandering to a dark mother. The first city's founding. The sundering of a house and family. 'Windows', except they are far (too far) below ground and instead lit by flickering shadows, the tinted color of lead-bound glass shards casting the room in a kaleidoscope of reds and blues, yellows and greens, oranges and purples. Everything but the pure white light of day.

The sun has never shined in this place.

It probably never will.

But they are even past all that. Past an iron curtain of obscuring (teasing) chainmail ribbon to the next and hidden inner sanctum.

There they have heard a tale of ancients stirring and broods of believers jockeying for an object of some import.

And they have witnessed the transformation that Ioana has commanded at the hands of an initiate into the Sabbat. The faces of captured kine transformed into caricatures - passable sculptures in flesh - of two figures form his past.

William now stands from his handiwork and the Cardinal now ushers the dragon's brood to a freshly revealed alcove behind a false stone wall. To test that his blood runs with fire. To lead him into the Sword of Caine.

Vee, the sire, has been handed that brand for the climax of this rite of creation and passage from nonentity into fully fledged Sabbat brother. There is a torch nearby, lit and blazing, and the Tzimisce sire is directed to it to ready that brand of the spiked and stylized Sabbat ankh.

And once William has been nestled there in that space, in view of Bertram, Vee, Flood, three more Cainites in name and deed, he is again faced with his handiwork.

Their nude forms are led to the portal. With startling swiftness and a practiced knowhow for handling such bindings the chains of their collars and manacles on their hands and feet are fastened in place. The Cardinal leaves them so that William is sealed within behind a wall of two bodies.

A cage of flesh bars so different from the kind of prison he is use to.

It is lucky for William that in the dim light of the alcove those so-familiar faces - faces from dreams of a life old and behind him - are hidden in the darkness.

For now.

Until Ioana's hands clamp on the adjacent wrists of the two breathing statues. Melds their forms there into one. Crouches with poise do the same at their ankles.

It is only then that the two kine begin to struggle.

They seem to finally understand what is coming.

The furthest back wall is a living mural. Where the granite laid stone of these chambers give way and meet the sheer rock of the Elk Mountain Range it abuts. There are many kine bound there, representatives of many races and ages, writhing in some maddened and ecstatic pleasure beneath the rushing of a mountain spring's waterfall. They had only emerged to gasp breathers before willingly plunging back beneath that watery curtain.

Until now.

They lean forward to witness this. Their heads, hair dripping, leans forward out of the waterfall to look and see what will come. The kine should witness the birth of their superiors. Ioana de Moieciu seems to have carefully and painstakingly cultivated all of this.

And they know that is what is coming.

Ioana turns to where William is a giant barred.

"Leave them behind: The fears of your past. The fears of the present," she begins.

"Emerge into your future in Caine. Fearless. Leave behind the progenitors of a life that no longer clings to you. Cease clinging to it," finding William's eyes, one bloodshot and the other not, as she says this.

Giving him a moment to ready himself for whatever horror is coming.
He's tired, William. Not physically...but mentally. He put almost everything he had into making these representations, demonic father and angelic mother. Because it's important to him, both to pass this test and do right by his Sire and his newfound Sect that he doesn't yet fully understand (he's getting there, give him tim) and to do them both justice. Even hating his father, he felt like he should do it right. His father was a demon in human form, no less so for the fact that he wasn't supernatural. And his mother an angel in human for, not a touch less beatific because she didn't have wings.

The mental tiredness doesn't facilitate what happens, but it doesn't hinder it one bit either. He leans against the back wall of the alcove, waiting. He has a thousand possibilities running through his head, each one worse than the one before it. He's on edge, he's nervous. He can't do this wrong. Everything depends on this.

And he cringes, William. He can't really shrink away when they are pressed against him, chained into place. But his head pushes back against the wall and he feels that snapping, growling, snarling thing deep inside of him start to rise, like your gorge rising at something that makes you want to turn and run. Like vomit pushing up from your stomach acids at the worst thing you can imagine. Only ten, twenty, thirty times stronger. He fights back, holds it down.

He is a survivor. He will survive this.

But he's not a survivor. Not really. He is becoming one perhaps, he is certainly more of one than he used to be. But he has not yet survived, and his penitence presses against him like those two nude bodies. And then they are joined. He realizes what his happening...the mother and the father, overreaching archetypes and persons so very personal and tailored to him at the same time, are melded together.

They start to struggle, the conjoined kine. And William struggles deeply against his Beast. He tries so hard to avoid the snap snap snarl of the creature inside and there's a moment where he just


It happens so quickly. At one moment he's back away, keeping even that tiny sliver of space between him and mother-father. And then at the next he has his hands on not-Jacob's throat and shoulders, about to rip his head straight off as he snarls, fangs fully extended and red haze in his eyes. His mind is full with only one thought, shoved fully into his brain and overriding everything else:


It is in this moment, perhaps, that Vee, Flood and yes even Bertram understand William at a deeper level than they have yet. What they've heard from Ioana, what they see now...the pure, unmitigated hatred, primal and bestial, for the abusive man. His face twisted in wrath and rage and fury to be even uglier (or perhaps more glorious) than it's ever been. And there is a fraction of an instant where he is about to pull. And then:


He pulls back suddenly, throws himself against the wall. He needs not breathe but he's panting out of habit. The haze clears through his sheer force of Will; the force that is coming quickly to an end. And his only thought, his only imperative is Survive. You're better than this. And he does hold back, and he avoids destroying his creation (because really, we're all the creators of our own parent's image. Even Vee, William has created his own image for) because he is better than this. What it cost him...well, that will have to be discovered later.

And those eyes, wild and frantic and on the verge of going red again, look to Iona. "Whadda I gotta do?"

It's asked with the implication that he knows, instinctually, he doesn't have long to process as his hands scratch at the sides of the alcove and twitch for kine flesh to rend away from the father figure against him.

Samael (For William Rolls) @ 12:33AM
[[Self Control @ 6, I think it makes sense with things piled on. Go William...don't lose it now! Turn 1!]]
Roll: 3 d10 TN6 (1, 2, 2) ( fail ) VALID

Samael (For William Rolls) @ 12:38AM
[[WP Spent to hold off Frenzy. God dammit dice, what did I do to you?]]

[[EDIT: Joey totally witnessed these but it didn't get added in here. He'll vouch!]]
"The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules."
"Good men don't need rules. And today's not the day to find out why I have so many."
Bertram thinks that William will be forced to kill his creations. Leave it to a Brujah to think in such unsubtle terms. He's not entirely wrong, the smell of death will soon fill this underground basilica to Caine, but just as when Vee and Flood and William hunted down that second wolf, this is not about mere death, this is not about simple brutality. Like a pie, there are layers. Subtleties. Messy, bloody, delicious subtleties.

Vee watches, chin lifted, lids lowered over those glacial eyes, the figure of a fallen angel in a church to those fallen from God's grace. There is a nod, so slight it is nearly imperceptible, of approval as Ioana melds together the forms that William changed so crudely and imperfectly. Not that the Cardinal needs the approval of a mere neonate, but it is there regardless. Not for the skill, which is to be expected, but for what is so obviously about to come.

There is a moment, as Vee accepts the rod just before this Tzimisce fiend places it to the fire to warm and heat and fill it with fire, that Vee pauses. Not in the lighting of the brand, but while, so that it burns a little hotter, perhaps even begins to glow. No, Vee pauses when William snarls, when he lunges toward the throat of the male figure. The look that covers that terribly angelic visage is not one of worry, or concern.

It's disappointment. It's, Hm, I thought you were better than this. Never mind the fight, the battles of wills, the painstaking care he took in creating his little works of art so like a child's fingerpaints in skill (but looked on with no less pride than an actual parent). Vee thought that William could stand up to this, and more. Ah well, in time, he will learn. Vee will mold and craft William into something better and greater than he is currently, something better and greater than he could have ever hoped to be in his mortal life. Because, though Vee may have a moment of disappointment, there is still that confidence, that absolute faith that William will make it through this trial and come out the other side. He will stand by his sire's side.

Whadda I gotta do?

Vee answers first. A smile curling those ethereal features, the fiend says to the childe.

"Simple." Like it might actually be as simple a thing as Bertram thinks. "Find the fire in your blood. Wield it against the chains of your mortal past. And come to stand beside me."

Then Vee looks to Ioana, expectant and unafraid, but waiting. Sire and childe will complete this ritual together, under the benevolent (hah!) gaze of their Cardinal.
Ioana, their Cardinal and Lady of the Mountain, may have had her own answer for William's anger-slurred question. Instead she seems pleased enough with the one that comes from Vee. Before her own had even begun budding on her swarthy yet still pallid lips she hears the Tzimisce sire's illustration of the crucible ahead and instead it blossoms into a smile.

William awaits the horror as his fury will soon overcome. He manages, for only a moment more, to hold himself in place. Shows the extent of his will as he sacrifices the last of it to do well and fight the frenzy.

One facet of the Beast's face.

And it finally comes from all around him.

And from within.

The fire that had been in the alcove only a moment before returns and the other face of the Beast within suddenly bucking on the edge. Terror rising and perhaps already thrown within the burning pit of the Red Fear, Rotschreck threatening to consume him, clawing to get out. The Tzimisce, soon to be True Sabbat, is suddenly within the reignited furnace that had lit that half of the church from outside its stained glass and stone walls. His only escape from the flames is through this wall of recreated once-loved or once-hated ones.

To rip them apart and free himself.

A newborn dragon's trial by fire.
Find the fire in your blood. Wield it against the chains of your mortal past. And come to stand beside me.

These are the last words that William hears before his world goes red, his anger flares white-hot. Which is not to say that there is nothing of his own mind right after...there is a brief second where he steels himself, attempts to figure out the meaning of those words. Is he to just rip through, use his Tzimisce-granted powers, something else? William is a quiet man; he watches, observes, learns.

This is not a time for quiet. And his options are narrowing quickly as the Beast travels up his spine, chokes his esophogus, coils around his brain.

And then there is heat. There is fire all around him. And it's too much; the Beast that was about to take him lunges and snaps into his brain, divesting it of William.

This isn't William. This is Shaitan, the character that William created for his career. Maybe it was always there all along. Ioana knows what he did, what happened. She is the only one in this room besides William who knew what really happened; the others got a brief retelling of the story via the Tzimisce Cardinal. That version told so much and so little. It didn't express how his world went red for the first time, long before he was a vampire, as he grabbed a baseball bat that had shattered his face and given his beloved mother a subarachnoid hemorrhage that she has never (and probably will never) wake up from. That rage, so similar to this one, had guided him as he brought that bat down, forcefully splitting the skin of Jacob Halloran's forehead open on the first swing. Shattering his skull on the second. Turning his face into so much meat-and-blood spackle on the third. And there was a fourth. And a fifth. And a tenth. A fifteenth. When William had finally finished (because the bat had broken), there was nothing recognizable in Jacob Halloran as even human from the mid-chest upward.

So perhaps he had always meant to be a Cainite. Maybe fate guided him to this moment to fulfill a destiny. He came up with Shaitan out of the nickname given to him in prison. Devil, the erudite prisoner had said. He thought that it fit, and it became the creature he took on the persona of when he stepped between the ropes. It certainly fits now, in this instant.

Shaitan takes those words from Vee, and he uses them. The fire in your blood, much different (or is it?) from the fire that scours him. But no less crucial. And he acts.

William is not a survivor yet. He may be some day, but he is not yet. Shaitan is. And that's exactly what he plans to do; survive. With a roar, he plants his foot against the back wall of the enflamed alcove, using the pain of the flames and the searing of his skin to give him extra strength as he just, quite frankly, barrels through.

Okay I guess I need a Courage roll, so...
Dice: 3 d10 TN9 (3, 6, 7) ( fail )


Samael @ 3:03PM
[[-2 BP to Strength, Strength+Brawl, Spec Brute applies, and for fuck's sake if I fail this one I give up.]]
Roll: 10 d10 TN6 (1, 1, 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, 7, 9, 10) ( success x 4 ) VALID

jamie @ 3:03PM

niko @ 3:03PM
5 suxx!
"The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules."
"Good men don't need rules. And today's not the day to find out why I have so many."
[Joey isn't going to be able to post again until late tonight, so he spoilered me on the next part of the trial so that we could keep moving, so, uh, here goes.]

William may not be a survivor yet, but he will make it through this night. He will fight through fire and flesh, he will snap free of his mortal ties, and he will rise as True Sabbat.

The fire licks at him, just inside that alcove. And it burns inside of him. The Beast wraps itself around his brain, and it is Shaitan who barrels through those bars of flesh, bones of innocent kine cracking and splitting, skin and muscle tearing free with a wet tearing crackle. Perhaps they scream, those kine pulled from the waterfall, ripped from bliss to end their lives in brutal, fiery torment.

And all the while Vee watches, the end of that rod held to a fire as Shaitan does as William was asked. He finds the fire in his blood. He has used it to break the chains that held him back. And he goes to stand beside his Sire.

But first...

Ioana turns to Vee, and with a look the Sire knows what is to be done next. Vee's head angles while cool blue eyes survey the Cardinal. Then, oh so slightly, the corners of lips shaped to a perfect fullness quirk upward.

William-Shaitan bursts free of the alcove and finds his Sire waiting for him. Rod lifted, the brand at its end white hot and ready. With flawless precision, Vee places the end of that brand to William's forehead. The fire sears and burns and melts into that soft undead skin.
[ Thanks Niko! MO-MEN-TUM. It is important. Also gives me more to wrap this round with. ]

Flood has been respectfully quiet throughout this. As has Bertram.

A Lasombra as a representative of one of the ruling clans of the Sabbat, cutthroat politicians alongside the overlords and priests of the Tzimisce. A Brujah representative of another of the Sect's founders and of the first anarchs. A clan that makes up so much of the Sabbat ranks. Its strength of sometimes rebellious conviction and martial prowess.

Together it is their presence that connects this rite and trial before them to the Sect as a whole.

But they both seem understand, to an extent, that this part of the rite is between Tzimisce Sire and Tzimisce Childe and even Tzimisce Cardinal.

William is freed. Shaitan frees him and frees itself. The flames barely even manage to lick his heels as he bursts forth dripping gore.

The kine do not scream as much as they had when the rising fire first licked their flesh. No, that sundering of the wall of flesh under the siege engine, this newly forged Sabbat warrior, leaves them in shock and hanging from their shackles. They moan in pain for a long moment and in the next? Dead. Bleeding out and burning and then passed to rest in more peace than they had been offered in life. Or whatever twisted thing passes for it in this place.

The Cardinal looks to Vee and the Tzimisce acts. Presses that brand into the thin flesh of his forehead until the Beast and Shaitan and even William inside can feel the heat in the very bone of his skull. Leaving cold flesh hissing and steaming.

In the next moment she looks to Flood and Bertram. It is their turn to again join the rite that had been an affair of dragons and make it one of shadows and passion as well. As many as it will take to halt this giant as waning frenzy on to Rotschreck to again a reason for the Red Fear leaves him still raging and gnashing for escape.

Will the two arms of shadow the Lasombra summons in that heated moment be enough? Even the suited Lasombra moves forward to hold the newly born True Sabbat until his branding is done. Until the brand is pulled away. And they remain there and holding him fast until he has regained his composure and can be released. Which is mere moments after the burning has stopped.

But in those moments their Cardinal has been busy. There is a last task to be completed. A task for the pack to be formed. More of a respite, really. The lupine that had been William's burden had become the source of her attention. She crouchs beside where it had been laid as a gift for their fiendish hostess and when she rises...

Well, the werewolf is less a head, and that head is being worked upon by Cardinal. They might not have seen this if they had not brought their gifts. Perhaps she would have brought forth some chalice that came with this Romanian keep across land and ocean to North America.

But instead Ioana moves forward with that head and see how those robes she wears suddenly begin to stir. Where the lupine head, a wolfish maw with strangely human features melded into its structuring, is hold in Ioana's dainty and altogether human hands other limbs seem to stir beneath and the robe is unlatched and falls away as she walks forward.

To reveal the rest of her form.

It could be compared to a crab, though erect and elongated and somehow still humanoid in its fleshy vestiges and shape, so perhaps more of a prawn. Her rib cage does not stop at the midsection of her torso, instead continuing down along her spine to where her hips should have been, abdominal muscles stretched and bunched along each prehensile rib bone like the pereiopods of a sea creature. Except they are far more dextrous, sharpened and put to work pulling free the innards - brain, muscle, carotid artery, tongue, eyes, all of it - from the trophy. Her legs continue to carry her toward them, each bent back and carapaced in hardened flesh that is glossy in the firelight.

Those articulated ribs and her human fingers all continue working away at the lupine head, slurped free flesh and blood falling in splats and sloshes on the stone floor until it is picked clean and shaped into a great boney chalice.

Ioana is speaking, despite the revelation of her alien form, in a pleased tone.

"I did not bring my youngest, my sweetest, for I knew the One Above would not want them. And my brother, beloved Abel, said to me, 'Caine, you did not bring a sacrifice, a gift of the first part of your joy, to burn on the altar for the One Above.' I cried tears of love and with sharp things sacrificed that which was the first part of my joy, my brother. And the blood of Abel covered the altar and smelled sweet as it burned," her voice is matronly and solemn, like a women risen to read as a lector for this black mass.

"But my father said, 'Cursed are you, Caine, who killed your bother. As I was cast out, so shall you be.' And he exiled me to wander the Land of Nod. I flew into the Darkness and I saw no source of Light and I was afraid and alone," she continues, and the tone of recounting fades away here.

Thought she continues...

"And so Caine was alone, but as the true Childer of our Sires' Sire, we are forever bound to our fellows. Our pack. And we shall shed our blood, not in sacrifice to the One, but to Caine, as Cainites, and for one another. And in this sacrifice, to and for and from one another, we shall never be alone. And it shall be our strength," holding up the skull cup to initiate the Rite of Vaulderie.

A sacrifice of blood to the vessel for this a new pack.

Flood brings his fangs to his wrist. Bites it deeply and holds his wrist out to let his vitae drip forth into the cup.

Joey @ 11:59PM
[ Obtenebration: Arms of the Abyss. Manipulation + Occult at difficulty 7. ]
Roll: 7 d10 TN7 (3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) ( success x 2 ) VALID

William Halloran @ 12:29AM
[[Courage Roll! *Crosses fingers*]]
Roll: 3 d10 TN7 (3, 3, 3) ( fail ) VALID
The overriding thought within the mind that is not quite William--the mind that charges through bodies and rips skin like paper, cracks bones like peanut shells, rends organs like red dye-filled water balloons--is simple. The Beast may have a name in Shaitan, but it is still a Beast, no complex thinking weaving of thoughts and ideals and synapses but pure instinct, pure emotion. And the thought that races through that mind and overrides everything else is


And escape Shaitan does. It saves itself, saves William as it is intended to do, even as it probably secretly (or not so secretly) loathes the gentler giant. And as the giant form races out there is a lull in the pain of the flames, a lull that very nearly lets William reassert control and take back his unlife, march through with dignity.

But no, not yet. Shaitan the Beast is still in control and the Beast is not so ready to relinquish when a new threat drives forward at the end of the iron rod so dexterously and pinpoint accurately delivered by Vee. The sizzling of flesh begins and the still-new Tzimisce, who once wanted nothing more than to be left alone and live his life until he drowned in a bottomless pit of alcohol, howls and hisses and snarls at his master/mistress who hurts him so. Shadowy arms lash out and hold him there, and even the preternaturally-empowered arms of Flood (and perhaps Bertram) clasp around him, hold his head and his arms and finally he can't move as the brand burns in, marks him Sabbat for the rest of his existence.

And still he snarls and hisses and struggles, a giant dragged kicking and howling into the bonds of the True Sabbat.

And then it's done, and he has been released. Shaitan reluctantly withdraws, leaving William remaining as he slumps toward the ground, singed knuckles hitting the stone floor to stop his sudden descent and leaving him on his hands and knees. He stays there for a moment, shoulders twitching as the remainder of his Rotschreck boils away, taking his anger and physical pain away for the moment. He is one again; he is William.

And when he rises finally, stands to his feet, he is Sabbat.

His shoulders draw back, don't slump. He is mentally exhausted, but he has this final moment in which to show his dignity and his control. An enormous hand rises to his forehead, pulls his hair with its seared ends back over his scalp. He's not sure what the "right" thing to do is in this instant; how does one behave after that and after how he did? Who could know? So he lifts his head, steps to his Sire's right and turns to face the same direction as him. As much of a struggle as it is for him to maintain that semblance of dignity, he will do it or he will die trying.

Ioana steps forward and the robe comes off, and William stares...because frankly, how the hell do you not stare at that? It's something like a nightmare out of the mind of that guy one of his weird demented fans told him about, those octopus gods and things of madness who lived underwater and in the skies. The Things That Man Was Not Meant To Know. He remembers those words clearly, and he knows what it means. Man--mortality--was not meant to know a creature like Ioana and may someone have pity on them if they every do. But he only stares for a moment and then he remembers himself. Because really, after what he's been through--werewolves and fire and ripping through his naked not-parents--can anything really strike him as THAT much weirder.

Well, yes, it can. And it does. But he still doesn't stare. Shaitan did what Shaitan does best: survive. Now William does what William does best: he watches and he learns.

The words are a sermon. He recognizes sermons. But he knows sermons as spoken from charlatans and fakers who don't believe a word of what they say. The elder Tzimisce speaks with conviction, with faith. That's an entirely different thing and it promotes a different reaction in Vee's childe. It's not fervency, but it does impress. He watches, he listens, and he learns.

And then, finally, it's time for something altogether new. Vaulderie, which Vee has explained in theory, is now about to become practice. Flood tears open his wrist and contributes. And William--newly-Blooded William--brings fangs to his arm, shredding skin, and holds the dripping remnant over the cup.
"The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules."
"Good men don't need rules. And today's not the day to find out why I have so many."
This was the side of the Sabbat that Bertram loathed the greatest. This was the side of the Sabbat that sometimes left him longing for his days as an anarch, free to roam the streets of Los Angeles without a care in the world. This was the side of the Sabbat what would have chansed him away long ago were it not for his pragmatic approach to everything.

The Sabbat had strength the Anarchs did not possess. These twisted rituals helped to reinforce the fellowship that kept them from falling upon each other. These rituals had their place within the organization, as they were the very foundation of its strength, but that didn't mean Bertram had to find the same twisted pleasure in them that his peers did.

His eyes were dull and dispassionate as he watched them. There were no smiles, no thrill of pleasure at watching what was unfolding before him. Truth be told, he wasn't watching the beginnings of an individual's liberation... Spin it however they wish, the Sabbat of today wasn't about liberation, the Sabbat was about blind patriotism, fanaticism, to a cause, an idea so strong that it blinded its servants to the truth. This was all fine, and dandy, because you needed some degree of unity in order to hold such an organization together. Bertram wasn't so much opposed to it, as he was capable of looking outward and seeing the situation for what it was. William, Vee, Flood, and yes even Bertram, were nothing more than pawns in the hands of this Cardinal, playthings to be used until she was bored and then they would be thrown into the fire or sent far away where they would never trouble her again. William, more than any, had no idea what he was signing on to, and that thought didn't bring much pleasure to him. The Sabbat was a tool, a means to an end, and that end was the freedom the Anarch Movement could never truly offer him, but most... Would never see that end. Most would throw themselves blindly into the flame expecting that somehow their final destruction in the name of a cause validates their pointless existence. So Bertram didn't exactly celebrate the fact that more kindling is being tossed on the fire right in front of him. Though this shouldn't be taken to mean Bertram had issue with the Sabbat! He simply chose to see the Sabbat for what is was.

Bertram watched the ritual, and he adds how he would have done it differently in his mind. Destruction of something one already hates simply didn't have the impact that the destruction of something an individual truly cares about would. If you want to sever a man's ties to who he was wouldn't the best direction be to prompt him to destroy something he holds to be truly sacred? If you want to teach a man that he was no longer a man, then you ask him to sever his humanity as Bertram already has.

Bertram saw only in gains and losses, benefit vs. consequences. Bertram only saw the brass tacks and how he could use the situation to his benefit. So the ritualistic side of the Sabbat didn't stir him as it had for some. Let them have their moment, however, because Bertram also understood that even though he did not place value in this sort of thing... They did, and what would be the point of living forever, if you couldn't enjoy the time you spent in this eternity? So by all means... Laugh and murder... Feast and be Merry. For if you cannot spend eternity satisfying your own whims, then you certainly aren't free. Not by a long shot. This wasn't for him, it was for morale, and that was a practicality which did not bring Bertram pleasure, but he understood its practicality.

However, when William loses control of himself, Bertram finally DOES smile. This was amusing, in his mind, because as he sees things the embracing of this giant created a severe liability. One which showed itself from the day they met for this journey. "Isn't this an interesting turn of events" He asks as his blood begins to flow, fueling his strength as he begins approaching the scene, already he was stronger, but with each step he grows stronger and stronger. The honest truth was that Bertram was likely the physically weakest of the group, but with his Clan's disciplines his potential strength was terrifying indeed.

His size had made it impossible for them to travel discreetly. His size would have made it impossible for them to go anywhere without drawing attention to them anywhere they went. His size and strength had proved to be a boon when they faced off against Lupines, but now, as they struggled just to hold him down, it was proving to be just as dangerous to them as it had been to the Lupines.

More blood flows, and his strength soon surpasses even Williams, he draws his hand closed into a fist, cracking knuckles as he does so, and by the time he takes ahold of William the beast can likely feel his terrifying strength sinking in. There was nothing normal or natural about Bertram's vicelike grip, his hands could easily crush bone right now, his hands could easily bend a tire iron, and the strength of the Brujah is revealed when he joins the group in restraining the beast. His fear overwhelmed him and he spoke softly to the creature. "Fear is your friend young one, understand it, let it teach you, but do not let it control you." Bertram may not like the fledgling, but then again Bertram doesn't actually like anyone. However, it couldn't hurt to offer his own advice to this one.

This might be Vee's problem, however, right now that didn't change the reality of their situation. This thing could do a lot of damage to them if it was allowed to roam free, this thing could potentially destroy one of them. So to let it run free without offering his assistance would be rather irresponsible of him. So he lends the power of his vicelike grip to the others ensuring the beast's restraint.

Time passes, and slowly William begins to calm. This period of soothing settles Bertram, the immediate fear of William getting lose and ripping someone to a bloody pulp is gone. Still he holds the man fast, and it is likely here that William gets his first realization of just how strong this otherwise unimpressive man can be. His hold isn't intended to harm, or inflict pain, it is intended to keep the giant from slipping free, and it is likely one of the firmest grips he has ever felt. Humans, simply do not get this strong.

Though his behavior might have been mistaken by others almost as one might expect a Ventrue to behave, it is in moments like these that others are reminded he was Brujah down to the very core. For they couldn't possibly know his radical ideas, and his fierce adherence to the ideas of the original Anarch Movements, the movement the Sabbat would eventually become. They couldn't possibly know how firmly he clings to his personal freedom despite the overwhelming pressure from the outside to surrender himself blindly to the cause. All they likely know of him at this point was the fact that he was selfish, and didn't like to lift his hand unless it benefited him directly. So the strength with which he holds William until the time has come for him to be let go would likely be their first impression that this was no Ventrue. That, and the fact that the Ventrue of the Sabbat tend to be the exact opposite of their Camarilla cousins.

When he is certain William has returned to them, he lets go. Allowing the newly accepted Cainite his chance to take part in the Vaulderie. Though he loathed this control mechanism, he also understood it's practicality, and usefulness! Without the Vaulderie the Sabbat would have likely fallen upon one another in a violent rage long ago.

Bertram is not here to join them as a member of their pack. They have already discussed that their directions are quite different from one another... Bertram was, however, a member of the Sabbat, and if the ritual is intended as the shared ritual in which all members take part then he would join, otherwise he would refrain and allow the new pack their chance to seal their bond with each other.

[We'll say Bertram has been burning his blood since William lost control. He just watched William Wrestle a Lupine to death! So... Bertram isn't gonna take any chances with this one! So -3 blood, so it is noted for the scene! Spent over several seconds! And let's add Bertram's roll to restrain! Even though it's technically over... This roll was actually made just before Sam's post so it's still good!]

Umbralwind @ 12:02AM
[Str+Brawl+Potence = 9, added to everyone else's rolls to restrain, tossing in a WP cause William is strong as fuck and I don't wanna get Diablerated!]
Roll: 9 d10 TN6 (1, 2, 3, 7, 7, 9, 9, 10, 10) ( success x 7 ) [WP] VALID
Tithe @ 12:03AM
0_0 Witnessed.
Despite the skill and prowess shown when helping take down a pair of lupines, anyone who looks at Vee can tell the Tzimisce has not the form for combat. Tall, slender, ethereal, that is truly the weakest person in that room this night. The Tzimisce does not even have basic hand to hand skills. A razor? That's a different story, but Vee is not using a razor on their childe tonight. Not here, not now.

Even so, this is Vee's childe, Vee's responsibility. Not a problem, though, never that. Vee may not have the physical skill, but they are vampires. They have other abilities, other strengths. Vee's lies in their blood, old, powerful, potent, filling the Tzimisce with a supernatural strength with each step forward.

With a loud KLANG! KLangrattlerattleclang the rod falls to the floor and clatters away as the Tzimisce steps in to aid childe, brother, and the critiquing Brujah. Vee steps forward, wraps those long slender arms around William's waist while Flood's shadowy companions hold back his arms, while Flood himself comes to their aid. Because even without the rite of the Vaulderie, they have the pack mentality. They key is that they work together, aiding each other to forward their personal agendas or at least not getting in the way of them. They have no need for commands or orders. It's been so since the night they met, when Flood came hoping to claim Vee's dead childe's domain for his own. The partnership is unlikely, but it works.

Vee strains to hold back this new childe as he rages, so that when Bertram, self-proclaimed outsider to the sect he pays lip service to, who agreed this pack was not for him, who stands back and judges the rituals of the sect and this clan, when he steps forward to lend his assistance, Vee all but laughs when he attempts to advise William while they struggle to hold back the powerful childe. Vee's childe, driven to madness by this new world in which he's found himself perhaps a step before he was truly ready.

"Do you think he can hear you?" Vee asks, digging in, pressing forward with one more step that holds the giant in place.

Eventually, William calms. Vee's grip relaxes, until it is finally released and the figure steps back. Looks down at the childe now tested and marked True. He rises as he was commanded what seems like hours ago, but was in fact mere minutes. He moves to stand straight, fully a foot taller than his slender Sire. He doesn't know what's "right" here, but he picks it up fast. Flood adds his blood to the lupine chalice first. Then William. And finally Vee.

And when Bertram makes to join them, Vee, fangs still bared, blood still dripping into the bowl, looks at the Brujah with mild curiosity.

"What do you think you're doing?" And then, "If you take one step closer, Mr. Kohl, I will rip your skeleton from your skin as I did the lupine, and I will leave you that way until some kinder soul decides to put you back together." Lifting their pale wrist, Vee licks the wounds closed, and offers the bowl back to the Cardinal to complete the rite.

niko @ 8:45AM
[I HALP!: restraining Billy-buddy, straight strength (no brawl), -3BP to strength, WP because EEP!]
Roll: 5 d10 TN6 (1, 5, 5, 6, 10) ( success x 3 ) [WP] VALID

niko @ 8:45AM
[and again, -3BP again]
Roll: 8 d10 TN6 (1, 2, 2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 10) ( success x 5 ) VALID

Joey @ 8:53AM
And witnessed!

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