Through the Ages

Session 11
1161 AD: Servitude and rebirth

Christophe and Aziz discuss what to do about the note and how to handle Dos Santos's servants knowing about it. The Lasombra is blinded by the possibility of seeing Sabine again and simply does not care.
Aziz decides to come along to the tavern where "Big-Sister" can be contacted, while Colino stays in the accommodations.

The tavern is located in the central part of the city closest to the harbour. It is a three-story stone building with large terraces where wealthy european merchants and the nobles come to drink their troubles away. Christophe asks the guards at the front for Sabine, Aziz playing the servant. They are perplexed to have such a request from a child at two in the morning, but go to check. Soon Fatima, whom Christophe recognizes as Sabine's servant from Jerusalem, comes to let them in and guides them up the stairs to the top floor.
Here the young Lasombra has a less passionate reunion than he had hoped; Sabine treating him more like a long lost friend than a lover. Still, they reminisce and again seek each other's comfort in their shared loathing of their sires. Sabine tells him of trouble brewing in Jerusalem and its escalating Kindred conflict. Abdullah has forced her to seduce many a mortal to let him gain favor and protection with the Knights Templar. She also tells of new business ties at Jaffa, where Christophe too could profit if he would let her. Over the coming nights they come to terms regarding this.
While the reunion is going on Aziz catches one of Dos Santos servants outside spying and sends him on his way, intimidating him away when he hesitates.

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When they get back Abraham tells the coterie that the prospected ghouls need to be made aware of what tomorrow night's ritual will mean.

Aziz decides to tell Hisham as much of the truth as he can handle. The persian wants to save the labourer from certain death by sharing with him God's Gift, as he himself was saved. By the analogy of drinking the blood of Christ at communion, Aziz is able to convince Hisham to literally do the same with his. 

Colino tells Sven that he has been chosen into a brotherhood of blood, also basing his argument somewhat on christian ideology. The norse is suspicious but agrees to at least come along when he is reassured that it is not witchcraft.

Christophe slowly convinces Amad that he will be part of an initiation rite of a secret society which controls those that govern, playing on the captain's greed and lust for power. The franc is overjoyed to be part of it.

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Session 10
1161 AD: Sea voyage and arrival in Tripoli

Christophe's sire has him arrange travel with one of Amand du Lac's ships down the coast to Tripoli. The Lasombra arrives with a cadre of servants and matching luggage. He promptly installs himself in the largest cabin onboard.
The characters on the other hand travel light and share two of the smaller cabins. Amand, Hisham and Sven are of course brought along. To everyone's surprise Abraham also joins them.

A few nights out of port, anchored for the night, Aziz hears sounds of intruders climbing aboard and goes to warn the Assamite. Before he rapps on the door he swears he can make out Shahada being proclaimed in a low voice. The Gangrel and Abraham reach the deck, soon followed by Christophe, Colino and eventually Sven, to repel the pirate boarders. The pirates on the deck, who have already killed the night watchman, are cut down to a man.
Christophe and Aziz hear further assailants in a boat tied to the aft of the ship and jump into it, disabling the remaining two pirates for questioning. As their former friends are unceremoniously dumped into the ocean, the pirates are interrogated. It seems they are a band of brigands who have attacked ships seen from land along this stretch for some time. They seem quite ignorant of the Kindred world and appear to have no other master or benefactor. Dos Santos orders the younger of the two be brought below to him, while the other is worked over by the crew and dropped unconscious into the water, a fate far better.

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By the fourth night the ship has reached Tripoli. It is a large vibrant city influenced considerably by european interests, both religious and commercial. Abraham sees to the accommodations and the servants and prospect ghouls are sent on their way to it.

The five Kindred are invited to an impressive villa at the heart of town. Its surrounding garden is well guarded. On its second floor Ahmed, Prince of Tripoli, is holding court, of a sort. Dancers and musicians are entertaining the guests. The characters are introduced to the Prince by Dos Santos who relishes in this moment to shine. Ahmed welcomes them to his domain with what can only be described as genuine pleasure. Even Aziz is welcomed without a hint of reproach. There is however a slight moment of displeasure at seeing Abraham. The coterie will later speculate on why this was. Perhaps it is the now public failure of not being able to solve this task for his Sire and Saccarias having to resort to mere neonates no less.

Colino is enticed to recite the story of how the valued gift to the northern Prince was rescued and returned – the revised version of course, not a little embellished for the occasion. For his efforts a dignitary from Constantinople; Myca Vykos, later on the balcony calls him a teller of fairy tales, which flares the Toreador's rage. In the game of social insults however, Colino is no match. Vykos calmly smooths the situation over, still letting the stinging words linger.

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The characters soon take their leave of the Prince when the interest wanes, leaving Dos Santos to bask in the sycophancy of a Prince's court.
When they return to the lodgings a gift is waiting for Christophe. It is a bowl of ripe peaches. Its card says: "For little-brother, From big-sister. S" The Lasombra's heart jumps. Could it truly be Sabine?

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Fourth downtime and Session 10 prep
1158 - 1161 AD: New business and new servants

A few months after the characters leave Damascus, Kadir and Sir Thomas return to Antioch; the Gangrel brooding but the Toreador elated. Later, in private, Kadir explains to his childe. 
They were summoned to a cave in the northern parts of Khorasan, east of the Caspian Sea, by a Gangrel clan elder. The ancient one demanded their help after drinking to greedily from the Lupines – as well as, Kadir suspects, from the Kindred - and having his considerable Protean proficiency run amuck on him. What the two Sires were tasked with to alleviate this terrible breach of Kindred power, Aziz is not told, nor how successful they were. 
In return for their efforts however, the ancient one shares with them the story of Ennonia, the founder of the Gangrel clan according to tradition. In ages past and in lands to the east, Ennonia was an influential priestess of nature, who caught the attention of an immensely powerful being. This being gave her immortality and the ability to shape nature. She wandered the earth, settling and mating for a time with some tribes, giving offspring that were mortal, wolven shapeshifters, even Kindred. Thus started the Gangrel line.
When sir Thomas pressed the ancient one to tell them the identity of Ennonia’s maker, they were forcefully removed from the cave.
Sir Thomas of Cornwall is now engrossed in scouring any and all written material for this entity, enlisting anyone (Kindred) who will listen.

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Over the next couple of years the coterie sets up an import of goods through the mediterranean traders in St Symeon. It is carefully double checked with Caspar that none of the Prince’s interests are tread upon. Colino’s local business knowledge is a great help. Aziz’ connections with the trade caravans grant them a competent sea-to-land transportation administrator in Uthman al-Zul, now a grown man and eager to expand on his father’s meager dreams. Christophe learns a great deal about the financial and judicial parts of shipping and earns a pretty penny. Supply of the Damascus Maristan is coming along nicely.

Aziz plans to use this expansion of trade as a staging ground for reaching Abraham with concerns of unchecked seabound Kindred through the port of St Symeon.

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In 1161 AD the characters receive a message from the Prince of Tripoli. For the excellent service of retrieving his gift for his Childe he is granting them each a servant. Saccarias agrees to let the neonates become Domitors.
In a month’s time they are to present their future ghoul for approval before Ahmed ibn Fayyat in Tripoli.

Christophe desperately dodges his Sire’s demand that he pick his own father - who now resides in Tripoli - as a servant and chooses a former sea captain and trader; Amand du Lac, who has taught the young Lasombra the basics of shipping. The man has leadership qualities but a cold heart. Mercier has trouble persuading du Lac and needs to resort to dominating him, twice.

Aziz acknowledges the futility in bringing a muslim before the Prince and chooses a tenacious labourer; Hisham, who has full-blown consumption, wanting to save the man from death as he himself was saved. Hisham is slow to react – some might say even a little dim-witted – and a fiercely devote christian. The labourer knows full well that he is on his last legs and needs little convincing when told that there might be a cure in Tripoli.
Unbeknownst to the Gangrel, he will not be able to make this man his servant.

Colino asks Conrad for help in finding him a suitable candidate to be a bodyguard. They settle on a scandinavian sellsword; Sven Harvaldsson. The norse knows how to wield a blade and when to hold his tongue, but has serious qualms about hurting the innocent. He is simply hired to come along for the trip.

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Session 9
1158 AD: Dubious dealings in Damascus: Part 3

They all meet at the carriage and head home as the morning is upon them. The air is thick with conflict and raw emotions and as the evening comes again. Colino and Aziz refuse to speak to each other leaving young Christophe in an awkward position. Instead they both pour themselves into the books with Colino trying to write his poem to Omar as payment for the sword he is crafting for his Sire.

The night passes in silence and even the servants can sense something is wrong. On the second night Colino, with the help of Christophe, cracks the cipher in the letters and starts to translate them. They tell of a contingent of the cult who have fled to Bethlehem and how to contact them. While Colino and Aziz are both busy with academic work Christophe go to work on the map and finds the location of the final three markings.

While the two adults still wont speak to each other they at least agree to set out to investigate the final locations. The locations are all marked with a fish and the first one is a house with several families living in side. Aziz manages to wake the neighborhood with a spectacular stealth fail so the three flee head over heels into the night. 

The second location is a bakery and Christophe climbs the facade with ease gaining entry by the roof. He find a stack of emergency blankets in the attic in case someone needed to sleep there. They haven't been used in a long while. 

The third marking is outside the city and seems to also be a safe haven in case the cult needs it. They returned home again without much more to go on.

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The characters again try to glean information about Lazlo from Laurence, but he knows precious little. The franc is carted off to the southern harbours of Antioch at St Symeon for departure back to France.

Over the next week Colino's poem takes shape, gaining a proper balance of reverence and flattery. The characters suggest to Omar that it be read at a gathering, in his honor. The smith is pleased. Again, the neonates ask Salah to arrange it.
Colino and Christophe argue about who should perform the work. They eventually decide that it might be perceived as presumptuous to have the author read it to its recipient. Christophe works intently the following few nights to commit it to memory and satisfyingly enact its essence.

In a private courtyard the Lasombra gives the performance of his unlife, thus far. Most of the Kindred population of Damascus is in attendance. Omar is radiant with pride. Some reflect on the boldness of having a child recite such a powerful text.
To their surprise, Lazlo is also at the gathering. He greets them with a strained but somehow reassured smile, commenting on the coincidences of the Lord's making.

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Their suspicions against Lazlo are renewed after seeing him. It is becoming more and more likely that the former trader gained his place amongst the Kindred by acting as an agent for the forces that set upon the caravan all those years ago. It is also likely that he is the one who pushed Muhammed from the Maristan's roof.

Before leaving Damascus, Aziz seeks out Musah to make a deal. He wants the Nosferatu to investigate Lazlo's lineage and activities – subtly insinuating that the Malkavian was involved in Muhammed's death -  in exchange for supplies for the Maristan from throughout the Mediterranean. Musah counters that Aziz be owed a favour to him and the Nosferatu clan. Head clouded from the possibility of revenge, the Gangrel accepts this addition and much larger boon.

Colino writes a letter to Kether in Bethlehem asking for information on the cult and the possibility to access the domain.

The coterie returns to Antioch, sir Thomas' new exquisite blade safely tucked away among their belongings.

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Session 8
1158 AD: Dubious dealings in Damascus: Part 2

A more detailed account here.

Salah has found a survivor from the attack on the Order monastery that is being treated in the Maristan hospital. The characters go to see him and find that the hospital is under the protection of a Nosferatu physician; Musah. The survivor; Muhammed, tells the PCs that the two former students of Omar Khayyam are alive and well – nearly a century after they left Nishapur – but are no longer in town. He also tells them that a Yusuf ibn al-Hakam Kohrasani, Aziz' mortal son, recently came to to see him asking the same questions. The Gangrel is devastated at this news, struggling with his moon rage. He demands that they all stay away from Yusuf.

On their way from the hospital they meet Laurence de Chevalliere, whom Colino accompanied from Constantinople almost a decade ago. He is now a beggar, having escaped slavery. Colino arranges for the former knight to return to France. Laurence also mentions seeing Lazlo, one of the traders from that same fateful caravan journey, who lives nearby the Maristan. Later, Salah confirms that Lazlo is Kindred of the Malkavian line.

Kadir claims he needs to find someone who has summoned him and demands that Sir Thomas come along. The two sires leave for a journey into the wilds that is hardly understood by their childer.

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At the Prince's request, Aziz meets Barqat, a prominent Assamite with ties to the ruling al-Din family. The characters catch a glimpse of a young Saladin as he and his court is entering Umayyad Mosque. The Assamite wants for the Gangrel to find out if the eldest childe of Antioch's heretic Prince, Abraham, still holds to Allah but was forced to convert and can be approached. Aziz promises to instead set up a meeting with Abraham for the clan. He knows he is out of his depth, but does not know how to refuse the Prince of Damascus and by extension Suleiman.

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The monastery of the Order of Saint Addai is a looted and burnt shell of a building that the locals keep well clear of. Most things inside are smashed or rotten. The time measuring device Aziz is after is not present.
Behind a hidden panel in the offices the characters find some letters written in code and a map that apparently shows hidden caches and hiding places around the city. The cypher in the letters proves tough, even for Colino. He keeps at it.

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The next night Musah arrives at Salah's estate agitated. He proclaims that Muhammed has been flung from the roof of the Maristan and demands to know what will be done about this blatant invasion into his haven. The neonates reassure the Nosferatu that they had nothing to do with it, but will look into it. Musah leaves furious, shouting that there must be consequences.

The characters decide that they should investigate the two sites on the map that indicate some sort of written repository. They are both close to the Maristan, within a city block from each other, and turn out to belong to scholarly societies of Damascus.

At the first location they find evidence that the former students kept a spherical object – about two feet in diameter – in storage. This object has been stolen. 

The second location is an actual library. They dupe the night watchman into letting them in and check the ledgers. They are surprised to find that Lazlo has borrowed works from this library. More disturbingly, so has Yusuf, recently. Aziz struggles to keep the moon rage in check at reading this.

Suddenly they hear a fourth unwanted guest on the top floor. They go up to investigate. At seeing his son, Aziz succumbs to loss and frustration and demolishes the room in a frenzy, killing the watchman. Colino and Christophe grab Yusuf and flee.

Afterward, on the roof tops, Colino tells Yusuf that his father is dead and that there is nothing for him to find in Damascus. Heartbroken, Yusuf agrees. The Toreador offers the young man to contact him should he ever need help.
This offer will form a schism between Aziz and Colino that will never resolve, since the Gangrel cannot forgive what he sees as a unabashed invitation into the Kindred world, the very thing he sought to protect Yusuf from.

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Session 7
1158 AD: Dubious dealings in Damascus: Part 1

A more detailed account here.

Aziz has been invited to Damascus by the machinations of Suleiman in Jerusalem to investigate the Order of Saint Addai, a cult the Gangrel sought during his last mortal days. It is decided that Aziz, Colino and Christophe all go, joined by Kadir and – following a tragic incident at Colino's sire's home – also Sir Thomas.

They travel under the pretext of accompanying Sir Thomas the Nobleman who seeks to acquire a fine blade in the city.

They arrive at a lavish estate on the slopes north of Damascus to meet Salah, their guide in town. The man indulges himself in the pleasures of the flesh as well as gaudy surroundings. It is clear that he has claimed the place after the recent change of ruling body in Damascus, like the charlatan that he is, and holds no real power.
Salah introduces the characters and the two sires to the Prince; Bashir. He explains that precious little remains of the monastic Order; a burned down building and perhaps a few mortals who remember its members' dealings.

While Salah finds out more, the group is funneled off to see Omar, a clansman of Colino's and Thomas's and an uniquely talented blade smith, in the hopes of pleasing the elder. Thomas and Omar strike a chord and lose themselves in the intricates of blade making. The characters try to join in, but lack the skill and knowledge needed to keep up.

The session ends with Salah returning with news.

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Third downtime
1155 - 1158 AD: Three years pass in the Levant

Colino solidifies his shop as a reliable supplier in Antioch and takes on a street urchin, promising him an education in return for fronting the shop during daytime. So far the youngster has kept loyal.

Aziz keeps up his scientific pursuits and takes up correspondence under pseudonym with colleagues outside of his former mortal colleagues in Nishapur, in an effort to insulate his wife and son from the curse of unlife.

Christophe continues to struggle under his abusive sire. He forms a bond with Isabeau, trying to learn further secrets of what it means to be Kindred.

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Session 6
1155 AD: A Sire's Gift

The characters are summoned to Saccarias, the Prince, who resides on the garrisoned island in Antioch, atop a large watchtower. Here he explains that one of his long-time servants has been found dead. More importantly the servant's delivery – a treasured dagger gifted to Saccarias from his Sire the Prince of Tripoli – is missing. The circumstances of the ghoul's death points to Kindred involvement. The neonates are tasked with finding out who of the remaining seven Kindred in the city is a traitor. They must report only to the Prince. He trusts the characters since, he proclaims; they are too feeble to have done it themselves. He sends his servant Mekhmet along to monitor their progress however.

The ghoul shows them to the corpse, which has all the trademarks of a clawed Gangrel attack. Next, they are shown to where the murder took place. In the filthy alley they can confirm that the attacker definitely is a Protean-user and find blooded tracks across the rooftops above which lead toward the outer walls. They instruct Mekhmet to bring horses and meet them at the inn outside the gates the next night.

The following evening at the inn, Mehkmet is nowhere to be seen, although the horses are waiting in its stables. The inn owner claims to have seen him earlier on the way to the privy. The neonates get suspicious. Aziz finds drag marks in the soil behind the stables that lead into a nearby wheat field. Some thirty yards into it he finds Mekhmet dead, killed in the same way as Saccarias' other servant. Someone or something else is stalking through the wheat. Colino and Christophe come to the field's edge to look for their friend and Aziz sees an opportunity to circle the unknown assailant. The small Lasombra spots the hunter as it charges him. A chaotic fight breaks out. Their enemy is tough, but as the Toreador and the Gangrel keep it occupied, the Lasombra manages to cling onto its back and bite its neck to pieces. Christophe is drenched in vitae. The assailant slumps to the ground unmoving. Aziz moves to break off the top of a fence post and – hoping against hope that what he has been told is true – drives it into the creature's chest, staking it, with some effort.

Among its belongings they find the Prince's lost dagger, but more importantly, a leatherworked rendering of Aziz's Sire with the caption "Kadir, sire of Ilhu". The Gangrel is adamant that they should now take the incapacitated attacker to his Sire instead. The others agree. They ride around the city to Aziz's and Kadir's haven, a fortress ruin away from the roads.
They show Kadir the rendering. He explains that once he had taken Allah into his heart, he sought out all of his progeny and offered them the chance to convert to the one true faith. His childe Ilhu and her get fled before him. All others met their Final Death refusing the offer.
The Gangrel elder takes a long sniff of their catch and states:
"Ah, this must be Ahbed." and casually rips the heart out of his grand-childe, ending him.

Stunned – none more so than Aziz – the neonates agree to bring the ashes and other belongings to the Prince, telling him they were forced to kill the culprit. Saccarias is quite pleased with having the dagger returned and contented to hear that the Lasombra was instrumental in putting the thief to death. He states that the Monsignore's travel arrangements to Tripoli may yet be possible. It is the first Christophe has heard of it.

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Second downtime
1153 - 1155 AD: Two years pass in Antioch

Aziz learns the traditional ways of the Gangrel hunt.

Colino expands his business.

Christophe is reprimanded for shaming his Sire in Jerusalem before a clan Elder no less.

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Session 5 wrap up
1153 AD: Return to Antioch

The characters send a letter to Antioch informing their sires that the translation is complete. They are ordered to return home. Kadir is to meet them half way.

Wanting nothing to do with his abusive sire, Christophe procrastinates for as long as he is allowed. The three neonates set their affairs in order, taking their leave of the Prince and also the Ashirra. They reassure Maria that their vow of protection will be honored and where she can find them. Christophe says farewell to Sabine, heartbroken. Colino finishes his research so far on Felix and presents it to the Seneschal. Aziz lets the Imam know where he can be reached.

On the way north, the characters are pursued by a trio of huge wolves, at least one of which is also a man. Just as they are about to be caught, Kadir emerges through the brush and takes them on. Incredibly, the Gangrel is victorious but has trouble controlling his inner Beast for the rest of the journey to Antioch.

Upon returning the neonates tell their sires of their time in Jerusalem. What catches their interest varies. All three though are pleased that the text is finally in their grasp. The six vampires settle in to every day unlife in Antioch.

Two years pass.

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