Friday, 26 April 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Twenty Six - The Missing Chantry (Part Two)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our campaign is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to search for ways to once again bring the Ivory Tower to dominance under the pretence of being disillusioned neonates looking for the freedom of the Anarch way of life. Now with a barony of their own it's time to consolidate their position and then plan their next move.
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The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
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The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE.
'Infiltrate LA' Chronicle
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
'Foothold LA' Chronicle
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part One

The PC's

Phil as Michael Tomassio - Toreador Baron of Pasadena
and Hope Romero - Gangrel Scourge
Tom as Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian Seneschal
and Marie - Clan Carna
Matt as Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim 'Fixer'
Dave as Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah Sheriff

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested. There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

As I have written out introductions and dialogue for certain NPC's and some location descriptions I'll post these more or less as I wrote them so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style and they'll also be in blue so you can tell them apart from the more traditional write-up sections and occasionally an obscure Malkavian premonition will turn up in purple. If I think something needs a bit of out of character explanation then those will get a storytellers note that will helpfully be in red. Anything covered via player handouts will also be in blue as they're written in the same style as introductions and the like

Introduction
With as much information gathered as possible on the mysterious Banu Haqim so concerning Daniel from the Thin-bloods of Santa Monica Pier, Michael has decided to attempt to obtain further intelligence from the Baron of Santa Monica herself under the guise of a business transaction. Roach meanwhile seems to be preoccupied with the strange vision he experienced in Downtown.

Scene Five - The Baron of Santa Monica
Ellie-May 'Lee' Li - Toreador
Commando Coterie Leader
Michael summoned his driver Dion and told him to get the car ready for a visit to Baron Therese after making the arrangements through the usual diplomatic channels. Though Dion was effectively a spy in the coterie on behalf of Fiorenza Savona, Michael didn't care particularly if he relayed back information that could easily be discovered anyway, besides which, Dion was actually a very good chauffeur.

Leaving his driver with the vehicle at a nearby parking facility, Michael began to walk the rest of the way to Therese's offices above her 'Asylum' nightclub. On the way a well dressed oriental woman who was waiting patiently by a side-street called out to him as he passed. "Your message was received, we're here to escort you to your meeting." Michael politely thanked her for the escort as the commando's leader 'Lee' was joined by a man in greasy hair wearing a leather bikers jacket and an attractive black woman in a casual dress. Behind him a woman with her face half covered by a hooded top and a large red-headed man, in jeans, a plain black t-shirt and a grey greatcoat moved into position. Though Michael didn't have the same tactical awareness as some of his fellow coterie members he could detect the confidence emanating from the group as they made their way towards the club.

'The Asylum' Nightclub
'The Asylum' Nightclub is very busy indeed considering this isn't a weekend and loud music can be heard from within even at this distance. There's a considerable queue outside though your guides take you through a side entrance past a stocky fellow with tattoos across the right of his face who is presumably an employee of some kind. A particularly heavy dance tune is playing through an excellent sound system and there are the usual club mix of dancers, poseurs, drinkers and huddled groups in corners either trying to look cool or avoid being noticed altogether.

The music was very much not to Michael's taste but the mix of fashions and classes amongst the crowds did at least give him something to distract him.

Their oriental leader presses a button next to an intercom speaker by a lift in one corner protected by two bouncers and announces your arrival. An authoritative voice that those who have met her instantly recognise as Therese Voerman says simply "Send him up..." the elevator's keypad is unlocked with a key produced from around her neck and a few moments later the doors open, you are gestured within but only the leader 'Lee' and the hooded figure of 'Chick' enter with you.

After a short elevator ride Michael was escorted to an office door which was opened for him. His guides however showed no sign of entering the room along with him.

Therese Voerman is as usual impeccably dressed in a business-like manner, standing by a desk in what seems to be an odd combination of office and sleeping quarters as if the room is used by two different people for entirely different purposes. A large painting of a man and two young children dominates one wall. "So Baron, what brings you to my club?"

"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Baron Voerman. I wished to discuss some potential business opportunities with you as we both seem to be patrons of the arts in our own ways." "So what exactly did you have in mind?" Enquired Therese. Michael explained that cross promotion between their two galleries would no doubt increase their respective businesses especially as he had access to several target demographics that might not normally make their way to Therese's own 'Gallery Noir' and that several promising young artists were amongst their number.

Taking a chance that Roach's assessment of Therese being open to a Camarilla takeover of LA was correct he steered the conversation to some of the problems experienced by the Anarch State and cryptically added that it was "Almost a pity that the Camarilla failed with LaCroix..." Michael noticed that Therese didn't argue the point he'd made about the Camarilla but did comment that "LaCroix lacked the subtlety needed by a true leader..", "...misused the tools available to him" but that at least "Marius got to buy two thirds of a building on the cheap".

Jeanette Voerman - Malkavian
'Hollywood' Asylum
Michael got the impression that the comments about 'misused tools' and Marius might have been connected. He was aware that Marius did a significant amount of work for both Therese and Jeanette but what form these jobs took was unknown to anyone he had enquired with though he had heard a few interesting theories on how Jeanette paid many of her bills.

Taking the opening provided he spoke of his plans to create an Elysium of his own where meetings could take place in privacy and comfort together with "appropriate refreshments" and somewhat more cultured surroundings for those who appreciated such things.  Therese seemed intrigued by the idea and as she pointed out it had to be more professional than "Meeting in a disused train station...". As the subject of professionalism came up Michael complimented the Baron on the leader of the escort who had bought him here.

"Indeed...She was recruited for her leadership potential and a knack for diplomacy though her combination of combat skills also come in handy. Somewhat of an unusual skill-set for Toreador, don't you think?" Michael confirmed that many of the clan of the rose had a somewhat superficial reputation though there were those like himself and 'Lee' who went against the accepted stereotype. "...and what talents does the other woman who escorted me here bring to the table?" he said, finally getting around to questions that might interest Daniel. "Charlie? Her talents extend to more direct methods of problem resolution, like you I have a variety of ways of dealing with unforeseen problems."

Therese Voerman - Malkavian
Baron of Santa Monica
Perceiving that he'd done enough prying he turned the conversation back to business matters before politely excusing himself after giving his thanks for the audience.

'Lee' was no longer outside when Michael left the office though 'Chick' or Charlie as Therese had called her was there to escort him out. Before he could attempt to make any small-talk of his own, Charlie spoke first. "I hear there's been a significant reduction in the criminal element in Pasadena since you took control?". Knowing a leading question when he heard it Michael attempted to deflect the enquiry but could soon discern from the tone of her questioning that Charlie was herself fishing for information on his own equivalent of her, namely Daniel. A enquiry about methods of "Professional problem removal..." in Pasadena was especially leading.

She was also fishing for information on several gang leaders in his barony who had all had a variety of fatal 'accidents' on the same day. The fact that she was obviously aware of Daniel wasn't the best news he could have left the meeting with and after politely declining her offer of an escort back to his own barony she left him to his own devices and he made his way back to the waiting Dion and returned to his gallery.

Scene Six - Personal Schemes
Storytellers Note - I had a lot of messages from the players over the previous weeks about things their characters were interested in or were pursuing as personal goals. I therefore prepared some extensive hand-outs for them relating to these matters.


Andrew Francis - Ghoul
Investigator
'Daniel'
Storytellers Note - For those of you who haven't read the previous stories (shame on you) the coterie came into possession of a map made by scouting Sabbat logging potential havens of LA kindred. Hence Daniel having a clue about the havens of the two competing kindred in Anaheim, the coterie have of course kept this useful piece of paper to themselves...

Your ghouls investigations into the two potential havens in the Anaheim area have revealed several useful facts. The 'Odd Fellows' Hall seems to have several guardians watching it day and night though your two skilled operatives are reasonably sure they weren't spotted. As these 'guards' were seen day and night they are presumably mortal or ghouls.

A large fellow matching the description you have for Tom Weaver was seen at the location with three others on at least two occasions. As you had informed them to be careful to avoid confrontations they withdrew from the location after the second sighting fearing that the three others may have also been kindred or ghouls like themselves and that was a potential fight they'd want to avoid as per your instructions.

The warehouse in the industrial sector of Anaheim is another matter entirely. Heavy gates and locks, high end security cameras and armed guards patrolling in regular patterns. Both Keith and Andrew are sure that the security guards are actually ex-military in rent-a-cop outfits. There were look-outs along approach roads as well. As short woman with dyed red hair wearing a leather jacket left the warehouse under heavy guard one of the nights but they deemed it too dangerous to follow her presuming she was kindred and may have abilities they couldn't counter. She matches the description you gave them of Alison Maller though she had blonde hair not red at the rant according to your coterie.

Sarah - Ghoul
Personal Assistant to Vin
'Vin'
Storytellers Note - Vin has acquired a ghoul assistant and one of her duties is teaching him to read as he's currently aware that his lack in this area is holding back his progress.

Your education under Sarah has made operating the 'girls' under your control much easier and has also revealed that several of the fences you use have been underpaying you by a significant margin. Business is going fine though one of the more interesting of the high end hookers known as 'Felicity' has gone missing according to Sarah. Though transience is common in that profession her disappearance was quite sudden and possibly worth investigating if and when you have time. You don't really remember her by name or appearance though her blood was particularly interesting in flavour.

Michael's new 'pet' police officer has made use of the brothel's 'services' several times over the last week. You were informed by Michael that this was part of his arrangement with him so his appearances weren't a surprise. According to the girls he has selected his tastes are fairly pedestrian and mundane, he has a preference for chesty blondes which is hardly original.

Susannah - Obsessive Blood Doll
'Michael'
Storytellers Note - Michaels player used 'Lingering Kiss' on a blood doll and due to him pandering to her she has now become an obsessive stalker but his character is too high humanity to have her dealt with.

Susannah has become increasingly obsessive of late and you now awake most mornings to an extensive selection of missed calls either direct or via Lisa as a result of her phoning the gallery. She has also began to claim she is receiving anonymous calls that hang-up without speaking and that she is convinced she's being followed. Whether this is a cry for attention, a sign of slipping sanity or a genuine stalker is debatable however. You have also noticed that Daniel is aware of her erratic behaviour but has shown no sign of acting upon it. Your empathetic nature leads you to believe that Daniel would consider her the 'victim' in this scenario and is therefore unlikely to do anything to harm her...unless the situation threatened his anonymity of course, then necessity might sway his opinion.

In better news Roach has handed over a meaningful amount of cash from his 'operations' to enable you to begin to invest in legitimate businesses and 'charitable' contributions.

Reuben Hart - Ghoul
Leader of 'The Apostles'
'Roach'
Storytellers Note - Roach expressed to Daniel that it might be a good idea if the other three major impediments to his criminal empire went away. A week later all were mysteriously killed in unrelated incidents on the same day...

You now have some one hundred and fifty gang members under Reuben and therefore your control. The operations of Zack John have been integrated into your own giving you extensive coverage over the areas of Pasadena previously out of your range as well as increasing your stockpiles of basic weapons and vehicles of which he had plentiful supply.

The meth and crack operations of Jeremiah Cherry though somewhat unsavoury are unfortunately a necessary evil if your control over the drug trade in Pasadena is to be complete though the amount of automatic weapons his men had between them has shown the wisdom of using Daniel to remove their leader Jeremiah rather than assault them directly.

Vin also seems to be doing a surprisingly good job of running the sex trade aspects of your organisation but this might also have something to do with his new ghoul Sarah's assistance.


Victoria - Marius's Ghoul
Assistant and Psychopath
Vin currently seems content to simply skim off enough money to fulfil his immediate basic needs so the operation is quite profitable.

Regardless your control is bordering on complete and the amount of spare cash has enabled you to give Michael enough to begin to potentially fund his political and legitimate business ambitions. Your 'bar' is also effectively complete to your specifications but doesn't have a large mortal clientele mainly due to it's previous reputation as a dive hangout for psychopathic drug dealers.

Somewhat surprisingly a messenger from Victoria arrived with the legal documentation you need to set up a legitimate drug dispensary. Seemingly this task was given to her at the initial meeting you had with Marius and she has been working on it between other projects as you doubt it was considered high priority as you suspect she doesn't like you very much. As you've watched her skin people alive this might become a concern in the future.

The documents also contain a list of the legal requirements of the dispensary itself such as accurate book-keeping and inspections which you imagine are in the 'your fucking problem' column of her calculations.

Interlude - A War Begins
Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Baron of the Crypt's Sons
Good to their word the Crypt's Sons started their campaign to retake territory seized by the gangs from The Barony of the Angels during the time their numbers were depleted by an attack allegedly by mysterious vampires from the east. Just over a third of their former territory has currently been reclaimed after a series of brutal assaults under the cover of an increase in gang violence. The expected resistance by an alliance of several of those the Crypt's Sons consider invaders was shattered by a completely unexpected preemptive strike by a gang of Caitiff under a Brujah named Priss which has revealed the mystery of what service they traded in return for holding onto their own turf. Effectively they have become vassals of the Crypt's Sons though where they suddenly acquired the skills to launch an effective military assault on their larger neighbours is still open to debate.

Several turncoats from other gangs have joined their numbers and they are making good use of the increased domain granted to them. In fact the gang led by 'Priss' has now increased in size to about a dozen kindred members, they are mainly Thin-bloods and Caitiff though there are also a pair of Brujah amongst them. The gang has been granted a domain by the Crypt's Sons between their own turf and that of the barony of the angels of around three square blocks as well as some feeding rights within The Crypt's Sons own domain.

Though there have been considerable Final Deaths on both sides, the firepower of the Crypts Sons mortal allies and the kindred's aggressive recruiting of late has given them the edge in the conflict Though their leaders considerable grasp of gang warfare must not be underestimated as a factor as it is said that he has personally led many of the assaults.

'Atarah' - Lasombra
In other news of note, Louis Fortier has made it known that he has granted 'Atarah' domain over all churches within west Los Angeles and that these are now off limits to any kindred he grants feeding rights to and also that Atarah has been given permission to punish any transgressors as she sees fit. What he himself has gained out of the arrangement is of interest to many but known only by Atarah and the Fortier's inner circle.

Scene Seven - Vanessa 'Ruby' Rubeus
Heather - Ghoul and Blood Doll
There was a knock on Michael's office door that he recognised as Heather's distinctive 'keep knocking until every-one nearby answers or is rendered deaf' style.

Storytellers Note - Heather is a ghoul blood doll of Marius's that the aforementioned Gangrel's most senior ghoul Victoria blackmailed Michael into employing in return for a favour. He's now stuck with her...she's very good at her job though so that's some consolation I suppose, lol.

"Come in Heather..." Michael braced himself for the inevitable excitable onslaught of information he'd need to filter through..  "Hello Michael...there's some 'special guests' wandering around the gallery, they went to see Marius about three times so I recognised them." "The boss lady is the red-head, her name is Miss Rubeus, I think someone called her Vanessa though so that might be her first name but some-one else called her Ruby so one of those might actually be a nickname but I don't think Vanessa is a nickname unless your actual name was reallllly long..." Michael was now used to Heather's seeming ability to go without breathing for extended periods of conversation so waited for her to finish.  "...not sure about the others, they're from one of the 'new' Tremere Houses, Carna?.." "I thought you might like to know as Roach is on his balcony, in one of his 'fuck off Heather you're an idiot' moods so I told you instead". Heather then left without closing the door which to be fair was marginally better than her usual habit of asking him three times if he wanted the door shut before leaving it in exactly the opposite condition to the one he'd asked for.

Vanessa 'Ruby' Rubeus - Tremere
House Carna
Marie had been teaching Daniel the rudiments of the Auspex discipline in exchange for access to his ability to acquire blood bags from the hospitals he worked at so both were currently on site. Considering Daniel's clan had a habit of craving more kindred blood once they tasted it they had decided to undertake the activity in the relatively relaxed and secure gallery. Michael called Roach to inform him they had guests and messaged everyone else that their presence was required.

Already aware of the exchange due to her habitual habit of using her enhanced senses to eavesdrop on other peoples conversations Marie let Daniel know she was going to make herself scarce till she knew that the visitors really were House Carna. Daniel meanwhile strolled downstairs and after a secretive nod to Heather and Lisa began to walk around the gallery as if he was an ordinary customer. A few minutes later Vin came in through the rear loading bay having left his ghoul to manage the brothel and found a corner from which to observe the area. As prepared as he was going to get, the Baron of Pasadena made his way downstairs to greet his unexpected and uninvited guests.

One of the group, a tall black woman is surreptitiously watching the door while the woman you've been told is Miss Rubeus and another man and woman are looking at some of the sculptures in the alcoves. They seem particularly interested in the two stone statues claimed by Roach you've marked as 'Not for Sale, Display Only'.

Matilda 'Maiti' Beck - Tremere
House Carna
"Welcome to my gallery. What can I do for you 'Special' guests?" Miss Rubeus looked around to ensure that there were no kine nearby before answering "Perhaps you have somewhere we can talk not protected by overlapping blood magic wards?" Nodding in acknowledgement he beckoned them to follow him to the meeting room they reserved for such circumstances. Vin followed them as Roach moved into the room ahead of them and took a seat and then took one himself once their guests were seated. "Should I address you as Miss Rubeus, Vanessa or Ruby?" enquired Michael "I was given all three as an option." "Ruby will be fine" was the reply, then she continued. "I'll get straight to the reason for our visit. It has come to our attention that you seem to be quite capable in the area of problem resolution. Apparently even the resident fixer 'Marius' occasionally has you perform tasks for him?" Roach confirmed that he had called upon their assistance on several occasions and had been more than happy with the results of their work. "So what can we do?" was the next obvious question.

Maximillian Strauss - House Tremere
Regent and Primogen
"Our problem is that a senior member of the Tremere Pyramid before the unfortunate events in Vienna had a Chantry here in Los Angeles years earlier. When he left rather abruptly in 2005 after LaCroix's final death it was believed that the Chantry remained here, sealed and awaiting his return that we would like to claim for our House. Are you familiar with Maximillian Strauss at all?"

As it turned out several of the coterie were aware that Maximillian Strauss was one of the Primogen in Los Angeles during the brief time the Camarilla had taken control in 2004, representing the Tremere. Among his clan, he had held the title of Regent and supervised the local Chantry in the city but following the events surrounding the Ankaran Sarcophagus, Strauss had left Los Angeles. According to gossip amongst the Anarchs the only Tremere left in Los Angeles were now the "marrow-sucking, divine-with-your entrails kind" and even prominent Anarch Damsel had stated that they almost made her yearn for Strauss and his "stupid shades" in comparison. Of course as it didn't pay to show your cards in such negotiations Michael only said that the name was "Somewhat familiar".

"Our issue is that no-one remembers where exactly it is, even those kindred who had visited it several times. It seems that Strauss has somehow cast a ritual that has erased all knowledge of it's location from the minds of all it's kindred visitors and then obfuscated it's physical location" "Though the knowledge required to do the latter exists in several forms, the former is a ritual of phenomenal complexity and power. As you know kindred minds are not so easily effected as those of the kine."

Nicholas 'Nic' Wilkerson - Tremere
House Carna
Both Roach and Michael confirmed that this was true and asked them to elaborate in as much detail as possible. It was obvious to Roach's mental powers and Michael's empathetic abilities that the one male member of the group was not happy that this was being discussed at all, he had also visibly grown angry when Marius's name had been mentioned earlier.

"I'm sure what occurred to us has occurred to you. Why hide it if it is empty? It's contents would no doubt be of little use to you all but our gratitude should you locate it for us would be considerable." "My colleague has voiced the opinion that perhaps Marius has already found the chantry and is keeping it's secrets for himself which might explain his reluctance to offer tangible assistance. I could detect no falsehood from him but it is still a possibility as I understand he has a surprising talent for subterfuge...for a Gangrel that is." "Regardless we would like to obtain access to this location before any of the other houses come to similar conclusions, will you help?"

Storytellers Note - I was about to be thrown completely off guard by the normally diplomatic Michael going straight for the throat, lol.

Michael who had been on the wrong end of many negotiations over the last few months and had had a number of bad experiences with betrayals went straight on the offensive this time. "We would of course be happy to help if the rewards match the risk. What exactly are you offering for our help?"

Marius 'The Fixer' Walker - Autarkis Gangrel
'Unforgiving in the Extreme'
Ruby told Michael that any who helped them would have their gratitude and any assistance would be repaid appropriately. Michael who also had been bitten on the arse before by vague promises was in no mood to be fucked over, especially as he now had title and domain. "I'm sure your offer of your 'gratitude' is in earnest..." His tone indicated he didn't believe that for a second "...but what I'm asking for is for a specific answer of just what exactly we get in return. Marius is unforgiving in the extreme and if we're risking final death then what we get out of it is what decides if we help." The ginger bearded hipster who they later discovered was called 'Nic' was getting more and more agitated and seemed ready to speak but a sideways look from Ruby quieted him in a moment. "What then did you have in mind?" Michael made eye contact with Roach across the room enabling him to use his telepathy to speak to his baron without being over heard.

Roach was firmly of the opinion that they needed to speak with Marie and look into the issue before being tied down to a deal that might turn out to be inadequate. This mirrored the Toreadors own thoughts and he turned back to continue talking to the House Carna faction leader. Vin who had also noticed Nic's agitation readied himself to put him down before he could bring any occult talents to bear should he be foolish enough to try anything aggressive. The fact that he had taken a dislike to him almost instantly may also have been a factor.

Brianna 'Brea' Rush - Tremere
House Carna
Michael had come to a conclusion. "It seems that without knowing what resources we have to utilise, boons and favours we have to pull in and any enemies we might have to make that naming a price is impossible." He paused, presumably for dramatic effect. "Give us two evenings to look into the issue, after which we'll meet again and some to a firm and binding arrangement. agreed?" Ruby seemed to the terms and then added some more pertinent information. "The only useful piece of knowledge passed to us by the Gangrel was that if any-one had access it would be the remnants of Strauss's followers, however negotiations somewhat broke down at this point when one of my coterie accused him of deliberately with-holding information..." She then looked sideways at one of the female members of her party"...his ghoul suggested that we leave...it seemed prudent..."

"I also feel that I should inform you that we've also been in touch with several of the other barons including Therese Voerman and Louis Fortier due to a need to operate within their domains so they're broadly aware we're looking for something. Baron Fortier seemed completely disinterested though he at least made the effort to nod in the right places which was more than we got from the Baron of Santa Monica"."Also, Unfortunately my fellow kindreds premature accusation has removed access to at least two potential sources of information. Specifically the two Verbena mages under his roof and another resource he has access to. Are you aware of the unsavoury practices of a bloodline called the Nagaraja?" Michael would only admit that he knew of Pisha's reputation as an occult expert and that she was in LA under Marius's protection but that was all.

Lisa Irving - Ghoul
Galerie Sanguine
Michael then received a text from Lisa downstairs informing him that a 'Jane Lane'was in reception hoping to further discuss a suggested business arrangement between him and Therese Voerman regarding an exhibition of artwork. He texted back one handed that he'd "Be down in five minutes" and then turned his attention back to Ruby.

With the matter as resolved as it was likely to get under the current circumstances, Ruby indicated to her three followers that they should leave and Roach escorted them back downstairs but remained herself. "I feel I should apologise for the agitation of my follower Nicholas. He was somewhat irritated by having to deal with the Gangrel Marius as he considers that having to negotiate with a kindred of less than a century in age who has gained position by getting lucky a few times is beneath ones of our age and clan" Michael who was reasonably sure that the 'Fixer' was lying about his age to the tune of at least two centuries simply nodded noncommittally before Miss Rubeus moved to join her fellow House Carna mages.

As Michael returned to reception to deal with his second unexpected appointment of the day he passed Heather at the bottom of the stairs who immediately started chatting "They're fairly tolerable for blood witches, at least that's what Marius said and he's not a fan of Tremere for the most part. Though at least those four aren't as bad as the ones in the mountains, they were 'super' creepy..." "oooh, a customer..." She then headed over to a young couple looking at a landscape of a romantic sunset and started to chat with them about it's benefits in brightening up a room. Making a mental note to unravel her comments later he turned the corner into reception to deal with the Seneschal of Therese Voerman.

Scene Eight - Jane Lane
Jane Lane - Malkavian
Therese Voerman's Seneschal
Miss Lane is as usual impeccably but conservatively dressed and is seated in the reception area. She is currently accompanied by a black lady in a dark dress and another woman in jeans and a hooded top. The hood is twisted to one side obscuring the right side of her face.

"I had some other business to deal with in downtown which finished sooner than expected so I thought it would be a good use of the time to discuss the possibility of some joint business ventures. Of course if you're too busy at the moment?"

As Roach glanced in their direction while escorting out the mages of House Carna he noted that the conservatively dressed woman before him was as the others saw her and simultaneously far more glamorous, beautiful and seemed to flow from business woman to socialite before his very eyes. As he probed further he could see she had two distinct auras that seemed to overlap, One was primarily a conservative lavender while the other was the deep red of desire. Currently the lavender was in ascendancy.

Michael switched from the confrontational tone he'd used with the House Carna kindred to a far more diplomatic one and assured Miss Lane that he had more than enough time to spare for a representative of Therese Voerman. Somewhat concerned that one of Jane's bodyguards was the Banu Haqim that so concerned Daniel he decided to keep his guests occupied as long as possible downstairs so that he could get out of the way if necessary.

Amanda 'Mandi' McBride - Tremere
Autarkis, former House Goratrix
This plan was greatly assisted when he was asked about the possibility of a tour of his facility. "Of course, please follow me...". While Michael gave the tour, Roach gathered Vin and Daniel together to discuss some of his plans, especially the ones with the potential for any violence that they'd want to keep from Michael.

Michael soon worked out that Miss Lane had no real interest in art outside of how much money could be made from selling it so switched the conversation to profit margins, turnaround and how easy it was to underpay desperate student artists for their work. As they moved towards the upstairs exhibition areas the group of visitors led by Michael passed the gathered coterie members, including Daniel. As the two Banu Haqim passed one another, 'Chick' smiled in Daniel's direction and presuming that this was somehow a prelude to attack went for his blades.

Roach sensed the sudden flare of red in Daniel's aura and quickly reacted by commanding his impetuous coterie member to cease his action using his powers of dominate. Despite the doctors attempt to resist the assault on his will he stood little chance against against one such as Roach for which such powers were pretty much his entire focus and felt his hands return to his sides. Apologising for his jumpy colleague Michael led the party away from his own coterie as Roach nodded in the direction of Miss Lane and felt himself link to her mind through the shared consciousness shared by all Malkavian's.

Realising that Michael's presumption that Jane was Ventrue was erroneous he added his own mental apology to his Baron's verbal one. Momentarily meeting Vin's gaze, Roach telepathically signalled him to guide Daniel to where Marie had been waiting and ensure that he didn't go anywhere.

Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
Therese's Scourge
"Care to explain, that?" Enquired Roach. Daniel explained that he had left his sire on less than amicable terms and that he knew he was being actively sought out by him and was reasonably sure he would have circulated his identity to any Banu Haqim who shared his viewpoint. Vin who had been under the impression that Daniel was Brujah as that's what he had been told initially started to pay attention, though to be fair it did make a lot of sense to him now he thought about it. The general consensus amongst the rest was that though 'Chick' might be Banu Haqim spy sent to find Daniel and murder him they had no evidence to show she was.

After listening to the debate go back and forth for a while Vin decided to enter the conversation in his usual direct style "Lets just find out!..". When asked how exactly he intended to accomplish this Vin laid out his plan "We arrange a meeting and I just ask her...". The rest of the kindred in the coterie were used to dealing with things in a less direct matter had to admit that the idea had never occurred to them. Though it would need Michael to arrange the meeting it was certainly worth a try. Marie interjected at this point to mention that Therese would no doubt have close control over the coterie under her command and that dealing with her might enable them to come to terms that her underling would have little choice but to obey. As they'd now reached a juncture where Michael's input would be needed, Roach sent him a mental message asking him to wrap up the meeting and join them.

Storytellers Note - It was a less convoluted plan that I was expecting based on previous experiences I must admit...

After finishing the tour and putting forward a number of business idea he wrapped up the meeting as requested, escorted his guests outside and then went to find out exactly what the fuck Daniel thought he was playing at...

To Be Continued in 'The Missing Chantry' Part Three

In Conclusion
Roach Vs. Daniel...re-created with Cats...
I like to do a round-up of how the session went in these features but if you couldn't give a shit what I think then feel free to skip this bit...

Considering that Daniel's player usually considers every decision before making it, jumping straight to 'lets stab the guest in our gallery' was a surprise to say the least.

It did however give the players an opportunity to role-play some strife within the coterie as they've generally been on the same page up to this point so it was nice to see the conversations mixed up a bit.

Having both Marie and Roach in some scenes was amusing considering they're both played by the same player one effectively being the back-up character for combat orientated missions where his social character would have little to do (and vice versa). The player handled it well though so it wasn't a problem...well...not for me at least, lol.

Acknowledgements
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Greene, Therese Voerman is Whitney Moore, 'Lee' is Bai Ling, 'Charlie' is Lena Headey, Andrew Francis is Ray Stevenson, Sarah is Elesha Alice Thorn, Victoria is Lilith May, Hank Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, Heather is Liz Vicious, Marius is Tony Curran, Lisa Irving is Amanda Righetti. Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

V5 Chronicle - Faction Profile - The Fortiers

During the course of the various stories of this chronicle the coterie has and will meet many characters so I'm therefore creating several profile pages for different groups within my version of kindred Los Angeles to help them keep track. I'll also amend these profiles as new information comes to light and old 'facts' turn out to be less factual than originally thought...
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The Barony of West Los Angeles
Although the Kindred of the Free States call the areas controlled by specific gangs 'Baronies,' and the leaders of those gangs 'barons', this is really a misnomer. The Barons of L.A. bear very little resemblance to their medieval counterparts...except in West L.A. Louis Fortier, a 9th generation Ventrue, runs his territory as if he were still in medieval France. If he is shown proper respect, he can be very easy to get along with; in fact he is far more accommodating to other Kindred "hunting on his lands" than many of the others with the title 'Baron'. On the other hand, he can be absolutely ruthless to Kindred who he feels have been disrespectful or ungrateful.

From his mansion in the hills of Bel Air, Louis controls Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, Marina del Rey and Venice (some of the most valuable real estate in the world), though Santa Monica now falls under the control of Baron Therese Voerman. Three of the other four Kindred who live in the barony are all Louis' Blood Bound mistresses, and each is a remarkable woman, as well as a striking beauty. The fourth is a Gangrel Scourge who deals with any problems that may be beyond his small army of ghouls, who act as both retainers and scouts.

It is very rare for anything to go on in West Los Angeles without Louis' knowledge. He is also far more involved in the economics and politics of his area than most barons. His ongoing control of the businesses in West Los Angeles explains the economic stability of that region, in contrast with the insanity of the rest of the L.A. area.

Beverly Hills, The world-famous city, which is separate administratively from the City of Los Angeles which surrounds it, is a favourite place for some of the wealthiest people in the world to make their homes. North and south of Sunset Boulevard, which winds through Beverly Hills, are huge mansions and estates. Farther south, on streets such as Beverly, Camden and the infamous Rodeo Drive, are the wildly expensive boutiques where the rich come to spend their money. Before the Revolt, quite a few vampires made their homes in Beverly Hills and surrounding areas, but since then Louis Fortier has permitted no Kindred to take up permanent residence here without his express permission and the granting of significant boons.

One family recently granted access are the Bartholomew's who have recently evacuated from a London devastated by the Second Inquisition.

Louis Fortier, Baron of West Los Angeles
Clan - 9th Generation Ventrue
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Domain - West LA (Chasse 5, Lien 5, Portillon 5)
Backgrounds - Allies 1-7 (Multiple), Contacts 1-5 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 5, Resources 5, Retainers 1-5 (A veritable army of ghouls), Status 5
Merits - Linguistics 3 (French, Italian, Spanish)
Lores - Sect War Veteran (1: Survivor, 2: Active Participant)

Louis Charles Fortier de la Belliere had the misfortune to be born the second son to the Comte de Ia Belliere in 1726.'His older brother would inherit the title, Unless something occurred to cut his healthy life short, so Louis was left with two legal alternatives: the army or the Church.

At a fairly early age Louis decided that life without women wasn't life at all, so he chose the army. He joined a regiment that appealed to him, based on the high percentage of noblemen's sons already ensconced as officers, and the stunning custom-made uniforms they sported. But the King had other ideas for his pampered toy soldiers: they would go off to the New World,subdue the native tribes and return with wealth beyond reason to stuff into the Royal treasury.

Louis made several forays back and forth between France and what is now eastern Canada, displaying a natural ability as a leader. He was 28 when the French and Indian War broke out in 1754, a tall, handsome man with green eyes that could tum icy when his temper rose. He planned to make one last trip to Canada, then retire from the army and begin his own trading company. His older brother was still very much alive, married and blessed with three sons, so the title was a long way off.

It was a beautiful summer's evening when Louis and a small contingent of his men chanced upon an almost-deserted Indian camp. The warriors were gone, and only the children, the women and an old shaman remained. The Indians offered their hospitality to the Frenchmen, who were reluctant at first but warmed to the kindness being shown them. It was standard Indian fare for the most part, but they had become accustomed to the strange eating habits of the "savages."

At some point, the old shaman began beating a drum and chanting a dissonant but nonetheless hypnotic song. One by one Louis' men drifted off to sleep, apparently unable to keep their eyes open or sit upright,while the shaman kept chanting. Then from the other side of the campfire, a young woman appeared, who was exquisitely beautiful even by French standards. It did not seem strange to Louis that the woman seemed to step towards him through the smoke of the campfire. She was dressed in white doeskin and her long black hair shone in the moonlight. Louis was, above all things, French to the core and he appreciated beauty wherever he found it. The lovely woman danced around the dazzled soldier and then beckoned him to follow her into the woods. As if in a trance, he got up and went with her to a small copse of trees beyond the camp.

'Night Star'
There she stepped out of her dress and stood before him, her skin almost translucent, and he was powerless to resist. When Louis came to his senses, it was still night, the young woman was gone and he was naked. He looked at his torso in the moonlight and was at first amused by what he thought was Indian paint.

A raw bolt of shock ran through him as he staggered back to the camp. The Indians were gone, but his men were not. They lay on the ground, their throats ripped out and bloodstains across their bodies. He touched the 'paint' on his chest, and found that it too was blood. He wiped his hand across his mouth, only to find his face smeared with the vital essence. The Hunger struck him with the force of a cannonball at close range. He was alone and naked in the woods of Canada with a ravening need he barely understood ...

Louis could never go back to France, and he realised it would be useless trying to explain what had happened. People disappeared in the Canadian woods all the time, and he would be assumed to have been the victim of an Indian attack. Louis made his way to New York and happily joined the community of the undead there, eventually becoming a respected elder. When the Sabbat moved in on he city, Louis escaped to the West Coast. he first settled in San Francisco, and then in 1912 moved on to Los Angeles, where he quickly became part of the Primogen. Although Don Sebastian apparently was very fond of him, Louis was never completely comfortable with the prince, having been raised with a strong sense of 'noblesse oblige'.

Jeremy MacNeil - Possibly Deceased
Don Sebastian's careless attitude towards his fiefdom galled the French nobleman, who unsuccessfully tried to convince Don Sebastian to show more concern for me Kindred under his care. When Jeremy MacNeil appealed to the Primogen after being savagely beaten by Don Sebastian's goons, Louis was the only one who spoke up for the wounded Anarch. When the Primogen chose not to take a stand on the issue, Louis broke with them and joined the Anarchs. He fought with Jeremy and Crispus during the Revolt, and led the ill-fated expedition to Malibu. In gratitude for his assistance, the Anarchs have pretty much left him alone to rule West Los Angeles as he pleases.

Louis is the quintessential nobleman, protective of his vassals and gracious to his enemies. His first concern is protecting his domain, and then protecting the interests of the Free States. He has a great deal of respect for Jeremy, recognising a born leader when he sees one, and is anxious to help him further the goals of the Anarchs to whom he has pledged his existence. With Jeremy currently missing he is attempting to guide Nines Rodriguez to take up a more active role in the Anarch leadership. The declared equality between all Kindred on which the Free States rest offends his noble sensibilities, but he is excited by the possibilities of this 'experiment in democracy.' He is one of the few vampires in the Free States who has any interest in the economic well-being of his barony, and under his very tight control the Westside has prospered far better than anywhere else in the Los Angeles area.

Louis Fortier's Mistresses
Louis lives in almost sybaritic luxury, surrounded by the most beautiful objects and people that money can buy. Despite his unlife, Louis never lost his appreciation of beautiful women. He has surrounded himself with three of the most attractive, and deadly, women in the Free States. Louis rarely leaves the confines of his magnificent Beverly Hills home, but his mistresses are often seen at Free States gatherings and are women to be reckoned with in their own right. No one knows how many ghouls serve Louis, but it is believed to be the largest 'army' of ghouls in the Free States with estimates ranging from forty to seventy depending on who you ask. All of the ghouls are young, strong and beautiful, and require little blood to stay that way. Even so, Louis sometimes has difficulty meeting their demands, even with the help of his mistresses, and is rumoured to have occasionally created a vampire to satisfy his ghouls' hunger.

With the destruction of Prince LaCroix, the Gangrel 'Fixer' Marius took possession of several properties in Downtown and Baron Fortier has granted him a domain that roughly encompasses these Downtown enterprises in an approximate eight block square. Though in kindred terms this domain still belongs to Fortier most kindred in Los Angeles consider the area to have become almost a 'mini' barony and Marius considers it and the sewers beneath to be his. With the loss of this area and the gifting of Santa Monica to the Voermans many are beginning to look at Louis Fortier as a kindred whose power is waning however recent events are casting that view into doubt as a far more militant attitude is beginning to emerge in no small part due to his access to a new resource named 'Atarah'.

Childer
Catherine Du Bois - Mistress of Louie
Clan - 10th Generation Ventrue
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Backgrounds - Allies 1-7 (Multiple), Contacts 1-5 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 4, Resources 4, Retainers 1-5 (A veritable army of ghouls), Status 4
Merits - Beautiful, Bloodhound
Lore -  The Circulatory System (1: Tap into the System, 3: Farm Upstate, 5: Blood Sommelier)

Convent-bred Mademoiselle du Bois runs a very special out-call service for a select clientele who appreciate, and pay well for, unique experiences. Her stable of stunning debauched beauties of both sexes provides entertainment on a level of excitement that only the very wealthy and very bizarre can appreciate.

Catherine's delicate, innocent appearance belies the depraved character of a woman thrust into the unlife at a time when her appetites were at their height and her morals undeveloped. Catherine "keeps the home fires burning" for Louis, maintaining the security of the barony and watching after the ghouls. She often acts as hostess when Louis has guests. She has an insatiable appetite for new physical experiences, which even death has been unable to quell. This Achilles' heel makes some consider her a security risk, but so far Louis does not seem to be concerned as she has the resources and contacts to cover her tracks as well as free rein to utilise Louis army of ghouls to clean up any messes.

Elena Gutierrez - Mistress of Louie
Clan - 10th Generation Ventrue
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Backgrounds - Allies 1-3 (Multiple), Contacts 1-3 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 3, Resources 4, Retainers 1-3 (Various servants), Status 3
Merits - Beautiful

Elena, the daughter of a diplomat, was a Spanish exchange student studying interior design when she was invited to a private party in Beverly Hills. Her long dark hair and luminous skin reminded Louis of the Indian woman who had been his sire, and he set about bringing Elena over to the unlife.

Before long Elena was set up in business, using her artistic eye to decorate the homes of some of the most famous people in Los Angeles, who didn't find it strange that she would only visit at night. Elena often acted as Louis' agent in the outside world, both with the mortal and immortal communities but has recently been displaced from the role by her fellow mistress Mariel St John. Louis had a great deal of respect for Elena's intelligence, and usually allowed her to act in whatever way she felt best but a recent indiscretion that forced Louis to bring in outside resources to resolve has lessened her status in the household considerably. No doubt she is already plotting to restore that Status.

Mariel St John - Adopted Childe and Mistress of Louie
Clan - 9th Generation Ventrue
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Backgrounds - Contacts 1-3 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 4, Resources 4, Retainers 1-3 (Various servants), Status 4
Adversary - Marius Walker 3
Merits - Beautiful

Mariel was already a fairly well-known vampire in Los Angeles when her book about the French and Indian Wars was published. Struck by the depth of knowledge and passion she brought to a subject that was so important to him, Louis made arrangements to meet Mariel.

He was immediately impressed by her direct attitude and her intense focus on her work, so rather than perform an elaborate dance, he came right to the point. He offered her support and a magnificent place to live, neither of which would interfere with her studies and she gladly accepted. Not content to be in third place in the mistress pecking order she has made several attempts to raise her status, making an enemy of the 'Fixer' Marius Walker during one such attempt which resulted in many doors being closed to her. This relationship has been repaired in recent times due to an exchange of boons between her and the now Baron of Pasadena, Michael Tomassio during which the lifting of the embargo upon her was part of the arrangement. Though not necessarily happy about it, the Gangrel has nonetheless kept to his word allowing her use of his resources (for a price, of course) and now she often uses the clubs of his ghoul 'Venus' for meetings in preference to those controlled by the Fortiers possibly due to the fact that she's well aware of the number of surveillance devices that litter Louis's clubs.

Now when she speaks at a Rant it is understood that she is speaking with Louis' voice. In fact at the most recent Rant it was she who negotiated with the recently freed Kindred Elder 'Atarah' over her request for domain and feeding grounds. Her resolve against such a powerful creature has also served to elevate her status amongst those who previously considered her to be a glorified harpy.

Retainers
Marco 'Joey' Joseph, Scourge
Clan - 10th Generation Gangrel
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Backgrounds - Allies: Security Teams (Effectiveness 4, Reliability 3) (Multiple), Contacts 1-3 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 2, Mawla 3 (Marius Walker), Resources 3, Retainers 1-4 (Various spies, investigators and informants), Status 3 (Within Fortier's Domains only)

Marco, a  humble accountant dedicated to his job running his own firm was warned by all his friends that his new love was a gold-digger after his money and influence and that she was having a string of affairs behind his back. However love blinded him to all criticism and he married her without any further consideration...or a pre-nuptial agreement.

As time passed and the warning signs became more and more blatant he began to curse himself for being too cowardly to confront either his wife or her lovers and had taken to spying on them of a night causing his business to suffer. On one of his midnight surveillance's of a remote cabin 'love-nest' in the hills he was spotted by a curious Gangrel who embraced him on the spot before watching in fascination as the mild mannered man experienced his first frenzy and tore both his wife and lover into pieces and drained them dry before crawling beneath the cabin and sleeping out the day.

On awakening he was confronted by his sire who unusually for his clan began to immediately educate his new childe seeing that what he had mistaken for a skilled hunter was in fact a love-sick fool. Deciding that as the mistake was his and that he would be held responsible for allowing the childe to suffer the inevitable final death and possible masquerade breach that his lack of practical skills would cause he taught him the basics of kindred existence. Marco employed several new staff via agencies to cover the work he could no longer do during daylight hours, did his own work for a portion of the evening before continuing his education in the ways of Clan Gangrel of a night. This continued for several months until one night he went to the usual meeting place and discovered his sire absent. He never saw him again...

Marco continued his relatively stable nightly existence, feeding in the majority from the vast supply of former lovers of his now deceased wife and murdering the occasional one or two just out of spite. A chance evening meeting with a businessman from Los Angeles named Fortier introduced him to the larger kindred world and he eagerly sold his firm to a subsidiary of Louis Fortier's own empire and went to work for him in a far different role. Preferring to locate threats to the domain of his Baron through more traditional investigative means through a team of mortal and ghoul detectives and investigators he is nonetheless a formidable hand to hand combatant when the need arises. His combat skills are in no small part due to an arrangement between a local Gangrel 'Fixer' Marius and Fortier that included training Marco in the finer points of tracking, combat and interrogation. His preferred meals are still the unfaithful of either sexes but in a city as decadent as Los Angeles he is rarely short of candidates and never goes hungry for long.

Allies
'Atarah'
Clan - Unknown Generation Lasombra
Haven - Various Churches around West Los Angeles
Backgrounds - Allies 1-3 (Various churchgoers), Contacts 1-5 (Various churchgoers), Infamy 3 (Kindred), Influence 3, Resources 3, Retainers 1-5 (Useful Ghouled churchgoers), Status 4
Adversary - Vera Vignes 3
Merits - Beautiful, Linguistics 6
Flaws - Archaic, Obvious Predator
Lores - The Bahari (1: Dangerous Reputation, 2: Ritual Scarification, 5: First Cursed)

Enslaved by the entity possessing Vera Vignes via ancient necromantic techniques her atrophied form was kept trapped within an occult sealed tomb while her spiritual essence was bound to the service of Edward Vignes through a magical focus.

Having lost control of her own creation due to her husband having possession of the occult focus Vera Vignes and her servant and lover Henry began an elaborate plan to remove this weapon from Edwards grasp and destroy him thus freeing her from his influence forever. Using her own whiles and the innocent nature of her host she manipulated the coterie of Michael Tomassio to implement her plan. Though Edward was destroyed and Vera escaped, the creature her possessor had bound to their service was not killed but freed from a century of suffering and abuse.

Despite suspecting that her destruction was part of the plan she parted from her 'rescuers' fairly amicably and took a church in Los Angeles as her new haven. Operating a policy of seeking forgiveness rather than apologising for her preemptive seizure of domain within the barony of another she sought out the representative of Louis Fortier at the kindred gathering known as the 'Rant' and offered her loyalty in return for other considerations. Fortier has granted her feeding rites and control of all churches within the West Los Angeles and Downtown areas he controls in return for a yet unknown boon. Enemies of the Fortiers do however seem to be disappearing with increasing frequency since her domain was granted...though perhaps this is merely coincidental.

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Should you be interested in the chronicles and stories associated with these pages then links to them all can be found HERE.
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