Through the Ages

Session 14
1166 AD: Bethlehem: Part 3

The coterie decides to tell the Prince of this potential threat to her domain.

After telling about their investigation Prince Etheria asks them find more information of the Vessel and Kindred involvement. She gives them three nights to do this before she has to deal with the Order of St: Addai as they pose a threat to her domain and kindred in general. 

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Session 13
1166 AD: Bethlehem: Part 2

The coterie decides to wait out another night and observe the order's reaction to their visit.

They approach The Grey Cloak by way of side streets, finding two order members surveilling its main entrance. There is no good way to circumvent them, so the characters simply walk in, as if coming back from an errand. Inside the innkeeper informs them that the order has indeed asked for and about Aziz Khorasani and his traveling companions. Further coin changes hands for the owner's (supposed) tightlippedness.
The Gangrel, Lasombra and Toreador order light refreshments and sit at a table close to a window where they can keep an eye on the observers. Aziz glances over the common room from time to time. It is filled with all manner of pilgrims, though most seem to have some wealth. After a while he spots a man that obviously is keeping tabs on the patrons, nursing his watered wine. The outside order members are persistent. After a few hours the coterie asks the innkeeper for an alternative exit. He invites them to view the wine cellars, where he casually opens a hidden doorway into an alleyway. More coins go into the man's hand.

Colino is overdue to a meeting discussing Felix von Bremen's dealings in the domain with the Prince and rushes through the streets. The Brujah is not pleased to have been kept waiting for her guest. The Toreador's obvious passion for his clansman's work and ambitions soon warms her to him however. They discuss Felix's visits in Bethlehem over the past two centuries for some hours. As a rare treat she shows him a compiled work Felix has gifted her describing his conclusions on Bethlehem's recent history.

Meanwhile, Aziz visits the closed mosque to nurture his faith. Christophe follows along out of cheer listlessness. The Gangrel finds a quiet spot for prayer along it's walls, away from the square and the Church of the Nativity that sets his teeth on edge.
The Lasombra is very soon bored out of his mind. Again, Mercier forces Aziz to explain the use of practicing religion. Yet again, Christophe is not convinced.

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Come another dusk, their small haven guardian tells Aziz that a crooked-snouted man has kept watch from under a close by acacia tree. Sven, who has kept indoors, has seen no one.
The coterie circles the property across the backyards. The man, clearly another member of the Order of Saint Addai, takes off running down the street when he spots Colino. They decide not to pursue him.

They inform Kether of the order's persistence and their compromised haven. The Tremere assures them that new accommodations can be arranged.
It is time to find some leverage on the order. They need to know what is hidden in the mausoleum. Kether brings a worker to carry tools so that they can gain entry.

Past midnight they again find themselves in the outer graveyard, chipping away the plaster on the monument's entrance and prying away bricks. To their surprise, an ancient steep stair leads down into further darkness inside. Some thirty feet down it levels out into catacombs for, judging by the decayed apparel, locals who led humble lives.
Further in, the tunnel widens into a circular room, a tunnel continuing on the other side. The room's floor is covered in deep sand. Footprints trace along its edges, going out into the middle and apparently stop. Suspicious, the coterie discuss what to do. Aziz spots something sticking up out of the sand and goes to retrieve it. He pulls out a bent sword. Suddenly four vaguely humanoid shapes rise out of the sand. An instant later they realize that it is not separate shapes at all but the the sand itself taking shape. The figures pick up disheveled weapons and attack, the closest one ripping the bent sword out of the startled Gangrel's hand.  A desperate fight breaks out. Common blades bite poorly on the flowing sandy shapes. The coterie takes several grievous wounds before becoming separated on either side of the room; Colino and Aziz on the far side, Kether and Christophe where they came in. The shapes do not stray out of their pit, but lash out at anyone who comes near. 
The Gangrel and Toreador decide to explore further down the tunnel, while the Lasombra and Tremere consider what can be done about the adversaries. Some thirty feet further in they narrowly escape a fall trap and arrive in a domed room containing an ornamented stone casket. Its lid is inscribed: ”The Final Resting Place of Sufyan Al-Iskafi”. Something about the room stirs the Beast and makes it hard to focus.
Meanwhile Kether uses his power to stir the wind and beckons Christophe to fling their lantern at the humanoid shapes which shatters upon their sandy exteriors. The gust sets the lamp oil aflame and with inhuman howls the figures disintegrate. The coterie reunites in the innermost chamber. The new arrivals also find it hard to control their inner Beast. Colino, low on blood from the fight, returns to the surface to feed on the worker. The thirst is too strong and Kether’s laborer loses his life.
As Aziz investigates the casket, the others notice a hidden circular cover in the floor. They will need to smash it to reach what lies beneath. The Gangrel pulls out a wooden box from an hidden compartment in the casket’s base. The box holds a few scrolls; the last confessions and fears of Sufyan Al-Iskafi. 
In the text, the former order member explains that he has hidden this account from the others in the hope that someone righteous might find it. It reveals his suspicion that the Order of Saint Addai has divided motivations; on one hand to serve Christ, on the other to please more sinister masters. It mentions ”the Vessel”, that now has been taken from Bethlehem to Jerusalem with what seems as nefarious intent.
The coterie breaks open the cover in the floor. The domed cavity beneath is pitch black. Aziz and Colino, with their improved sight, lay down and peak into the hole. They catch a glimpse of human bones and a rusted three-legged stand for an urn or pot before they are both hit with an overwhelming urge to let loose their Beasts upon the world. The chamber air is saturated with the lingering essence of immensely powerful blood. As it seeps into the upper room, it is instantly apparent that they cannot stay here. They flee the catacombs, back up into the fresh night air.

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Session 12
1166 AD: Bethlehem: Part 1

Over some time, Colino has kept in contact with Kether who finally has arranged for the coterie to visit Bethlehem.
In preparation for the trip, Colino and Christophe send correspondence to Anton and Sabine respectively, telling them of the coterie's intension to travel through Jaffa and Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Colino and Aziz agree that gifts to the Imam - for giving them access to Damascus – and Bethlehem's Prince, Etheria - for when they arrive - would be appropriate. The Toreador aluminates a few apt hadith for Suleiman and copies a historical work for the Prince. Sir Thomas drafts a letter of introduction on behalf of the coterie for the Brujah Prince, of whom he has heard next to nothing.
Anton responds that they will not be allowed inside Jerusalem's walls, presumably due to the volatile situation. No word from Sabine is received before they leave.

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Favourable winds have them dock at Jaffa three days after departure. Christophe instructs du Lac to continue down the coast to Alexandria to keep up trade. He is to return in two weeks time. Amand is not pleased to leave young Mercier's side.
The coterie opts to leave Jaffa the same night, not wanting to stir the ire of the Prince or give the impression that they have unreported business in the port. It is a three day journey inland to Bethlehem, skirting the walls of the Holy City.

Bethlehem is a city of barely a few thousand local residents. It does however have a steady influx of pilgrims come to see the birthplace of Christ and haggle for relics. There is a clear Knights Templar presence in the city, which main objective seems to be oversight and protection of the pilgrims. The city core is walled off, but much of its buildings are scattered outside over a large area. The characters are surprised to see a mosque still standing across from the Church of the Nativity renovations. Kether lives outside the walls in a humble home but has an immoderate workshop inside the city center. Accommodations have been arranged for the coterie in the same area as the workshop.

The Tremere brings the characters to a large villa to see the Prince. The Brujah receives them pleasantly and yet projects a persona that is clearly not to be meddled with. She explains that all are welcome in her domain as long as they don't upset the calm or interfere with the fragile relationship to Jerusalem. She seems pleased with her gift, if not already closely familiar with the author. 
Aziz states his affairs and asks to be allowed to investigate and possibly approach the Order of Saint Addai. The Brujah claims to know little of the outsider sect and allows the examination as long as it is not too invasive. Colino humbly asks to converse with the Prince about Felix's dealings in the region, for his research. Etheria gives her consent.
Christophe requests to have a friend visit the domain, thinking of Sabine. The Prince retorts that if the person introduces herself and keeps to the rules it will not be problem.

Although Sven is along to guard them during the day, Aziz convinces one of the local vermin to keep an eye on the comings and goings in their temporary haven in exchange for food.

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The next night they gather at Kether's workshop. The Tremere has quietly been acquiring information on the order. It keeps mostly to itself and has a compound a few miles out of town. Over the last decade since their arrival in Bethlehem they have preached their message of impending doom and penance only a handful of times in public. More recently they have erected a small monument in one of the outer graveyards to one of their members; Sufyan al-Iskafi.
This peaks Aziz's curiosity since Sufyan is one of the nishapurian students that joined the order a century ago and, if the testimony of a sole survivor of the order's time in Damascus is to be believed, was still a member when it fled to Bethlehem.

The characters visit the graveyard, Kether tagging along. The monument is in actuality a small mausoleum. It's modest entrance is bricked up. At closer inspection it is built upon an older foundation. Close to ground-level, partially concealed by grass, Kether is able to identify babylonian runes carved into the base, warning those that can interpret them to stay away. They discuss at length what this could mean. Is it possible that the cult has discovered a way to prolong life? Kether finds this unlikely. Those with such pursuits are long gone. Could the person inside – most likely Sufyan, or someone claiming to be him – be Kindred, staked by the order? Are there still vampires affecting their dealings? Is the other nishapurian student; Bishr al-Dayah, still a member of the sect and if not what has happened to him? It is decided to leave the tomb unopened for now, until they can find out more about the christian cult.
With the current findings, Kether is eager to report to his superior Priamos and possibly find out if their clan is somehow involved or influencing the Order of Saint Addai. There is after all only one other Kindred that is known to live in Bethlehem; Leopold, a clansman of Christophe’s. He peddles wares to the pilgrims and makes for an unlikely suspect. Mercier writes a letter of introduction to the Lasombra, asking if they could meet.

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The following dusk at the workshop, Kether can report that clan Tremere has had little interest in the Order of Saint Addai uptil now and, should their investigation come up empty, see very little reason to do so in the future.

They discuss their next move. Their priority should be to rule out any Kindred meddling within the cult and possibly find Bishr if able. Both Colino and Kether claim to be able to read an individual’s aura, which could be a useful tool. A Kindred’s aspect pales compared to a living mortal and is easy to spot. This astounds and worries both Christophe and Aziz who are unaware of such abilities.
Aziz proposes that they should visit the compound. In Damascus there was clear evidence that the order dealt in scientific pursuits, among them astronomy. Both Sufyan and Bishr were dedicated astronomers and would not easily give up their research. When they gain entry, the Toreador and Tremere can subtly search for a Kindred presence.

It is a long walk to the order’s grounds. The compound bears a striking resemblance to the one in Damascus. It’s enclosed by a 7’ wall and it’s gates are closed. Undeterred Aziz rings the bell.
Members with guards dogs come to the gate to ask their business. Aziz introduces himself as Aziz Khorasani, a traveling scholar seeking knowledge exchange, having heard of the order's interest in the sciences while in Damascus. He asks to see the Order Master. The order is suspicious, but they are let in. It is soon apparent that most, if not all, members are of european decent. It is an awkward discussion with the master. The Gangrel claims that they arrived at the local inn, The Grey Cloak, rather late yet decided to come to the order at once, excusing the late hour. The order leader becomes very reserved when told that Aziz has heard of the order when in Damascus. Aziz tries to smooth this over offering some basic astronomy concepts, asking if any members with an scientific inkling would like to discuss them. A few younger members are enthusiastic and bring them to the order library. The coterie notices that there is a locked section of the library. While explaining these concepts, Aziz asks for any written work that the order might have created and to see a senior member that pursues this scientific subject. The request is a little too desperate and direct. The coterie is asked to leave.

Neither Colino nor Kether sensed a Kindred in the compound. Before retiring for the day, they order Sven to bribe the inn keeper at The Grey Cloak to claim that Aziz is staying there and to take messages.

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Fifth downtime
1161 - 1166 AD: Five more years pass in the Levant

Colino schools his new servant with the help of Conrad. He corresponds with Maria to verify Sabine's claims that the Jerusalem Kindred conflict is escalating. The Toreador also watches over his shop employee who has married and started a family.

Aziz offers the Prince to help with security at St Symeon, citing concerns with offshore Kindred movement through the port. He grows closer to Abraham, who welcomes muslim company, but will not as yet partake openly in what is clearly his continued religious persuasion.

Christophe continues to grow his shipping business, acquiring another ship. It is also an excellent way to keep clear of his sire for long periods of time.

The coterie's sires have traveled throughout the region during this time. Several envoys from Constantinople have visited Antioch to ensure that their task is continuing.

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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 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 dogma. 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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When they arrive at the Prince’s villa the next night, several other parties are waiting in the gardens at Ahmed’s leisure. Dos Santos commands Christophe to go over to a particularly loud group of nobles – who are complaining that it is beneath their standing to wait – to quiet them. The young men are amused to be told off by a child at first. However, when Colino introduces Christophe as a nobleman(child?) of the Mercier line, the men immediately demand to know the meaning of this confrontation. They too are Merciers. Colino hastily explains that the child is the second cousin of Christophe Mercier who disappeared on his way to Tripoli. He claims that they seek Christophe and his father. The young nobles are clearly troubled by this news and boldly state that they will seek the truth of this. Out of earshot, Aziz sarcastically congratulates Dos Santos for a game well played. 

The antiochians are eventually ushered in to see Ahmed. The hall is empty apart from the Prince, Abraham and a few trusted servants.
With formal ritual Colino and Sven step forward. A servant pierces Colinos forearm and pours some of his vitae into a chalice. The Norse drinks with some predepidation, but the power of the vitae surges through his vains and leaves him elated.
The effect encourages Amand to follow along when Christophes vitae is poured. He too is overwhelmed by the rush of power in his blood.
As Aziz and Hisham step forward it is soon apparent that something is awry. The Gangrel’s vitae reeks like rotten sewage, making the servants gag. Even so, Hisham desperately tries to imbibe the liquid. It is impossible to hold down. He vomits the foul stuff onto the hall floor and collapses. The frightened and bewildered servants turn to their master. The Assamite sternly confronts Aziz, anticipating some sort of plan to shame the Prince. The Gangrel, as bewildered as any one present, panickstrickenly drops to his knees and pleads with the Prince to save the labourer; if the Prophet will not grant Hisham servitude perhaps the Anointed One will show such mercy. Let it be a sign of the power of Christ, he argues.
A fervant assent gleams in the Assamite's eyes as he strides down to the dying Hisham and gives him the Embrace. All present stand back stunned. As Abraham tends to a spent Ahmed the group quietly take their leave. 

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Over the next few nights it becomes apparent that the Prince will have nothing more to do with them. Nor, it seems, will the Merciers. Christophe says his goodbyes to Sabine and they arrange voyage back to Antioch. 

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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 too 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 ad-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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