Providence by Night – Digital Witness/Paint It Black (Interludes)

Welcome to Providence by Night, the continuing recounting of our tabletop Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle. Providence by Night is a low-powered, “street-level” game featuring a group of very new vampires adjusting to unlife in Providence and the vampiric condition. You can read the whole story so far on our main Providence by Night page.

This week’s update consists of a pair of interludes, one featuring Tony, one featuring Beth, that take place between Session 10 (last week’s update) and Session 11. At the behest of his Nosferatu superiors, Tony looks further into the assassination attempt on Justicar Warwick. Meanwhile, Beth – busy focusing on the business end of opening the coterie’s nightclub – has an unusual experience. As the saying goes – if a Malkavian hears a tree fall in the woods, was there really a sound?

Interlude 2 – Digital Witness – Early February 2015

During the next few weeks, Tony received additional visitors to his haven.  Mortals showed up, delivered a message, and then became very confused as to where they were. One such unwitting courier gave Tony a task to check if anything suspicious showed up in surveillance footage of Washington Street on the night of 23-24 January. Tony recalled that weeks earlier, Nosferatu Primogen Mr. Densch mentioned that he was putting Tony at Justicar Warwick’s disposal and so the neonate got to work. Tony researched ATM and traffic cameras near the location of the attempt on Warwick’s unlife, but could not locate any signs of surveillance. To be safe, Tony procured some bottles of hooch and met with his homeless contacts, Rage and Boone.  The vagabonds reported that while there are several ATMs on Washington Street, most are inside of buildings to prevent weather damage. Tony asked them if they had heard anything about some guy getting shot at a while ago and Rage responded that “People get shot all the time.” Tony got more specific with his query and Boone reported that he recalled sounds of automatic fire on the 23rd, but the boys had made scarce when the sirens showed up. Someone got a look at a few motorcycles before they left, but no plates or meaningful descriptions. Tony thanked Rage and Boone and walked off, leaving them to finish off the alcohol. He reported to the Justicar that the hit job was clean: the perpetrators were organized, knew his route and where he would be, and knew where to do it to keep away from prying eyes. Furthermore, they had cleaned up after themselves real well.

Interlude 3 – Paint It Black – February 2015

There were, Beth had decided, far too many forms involved in opening a nightclub. Who would have thought that you’d need one permit to sell alcohol, and then a separate permit to have people dance in the vicinity of alcohol? She knew the time spent wasn’t a waste. If the club was successful it could provide both social capital and plain old capital. Plus a convenient, reliable source of  lovelies to sate her hunger…. an activity Beth enjoyed more than she was able to admit to herself. But for now, the time she was spending surely felt like a waste. The early part of her evenings were usually occupied with mortals. Teaching class. Trying to forge some connection with her niece Rina that could encourage the girl to be a bit more responsible. And, more recently, the happy process of rekindling things with Tracy, which had so far involved fewer uncomfortable questions than Beth had feared. But the deep night was still her time to work on her studies of vampiric history and society. That was meaningful work. This was tedium.

But it was a necessary tedium, and so Beth turned her mind away from daydreams (or was that nightdreams?) and back to business. Forms, resumes, remodeling contractors, vendors – Beth methodically worked her way through the paperwork with meticulous attention to detail. At least Spencer was dealing with the musical side. The abandoned warehouse where she worked was rapidly coming to embody the musician’s vibrant vision for the club. Beth had only needed to make a few minor adjustments so far to ensure that the design blended with, instead of working against, the existing mystical layout of the space. Perhaps someday Beth would figure out how to manipulate the reality behind the physical, but for now she had to be content with being able to see and work around it. But, as Beth sat in the office, she could still feel the center of the web in what would soon be Quintessence. Out of sight, but not quite out of mind.

As the night wore on, and the stack of unexamined paperwork grew smaller, the feeling developed into a throbbing in the back of Beth’s skull, rising in intensity. She closed her eyes, as if this might dull the sensation. When that didn’t help, Beth opened her eyes and return to the papers, only to find the words unreadable through tight web of micro-fractures that filled her field of view. Alone among the fragmentation, a blue trail of light shone clear. Beth rose and followed the flowing color, down the stairs, out of the office space, and into the cavernous heart of the soon-to-be-club. She knew without looking where the trail would lead, wending around and up and around, but inevitably reaching and then disappearing into the center of the web.Excited, Beth began scrambling up the stairs into the catwalks that spanned the length of the club. It could be described as undecorous, but no one else was here and Beth was in too much of a hurry. With appropriate safety measures installed, the primary use of the catwalks at the club would be to provide access to an upper VIP area.

But this night Beth moved to the center of the web, along one of the walls to the office space, where an unblemished patch of blue so dark it was almost black served as the endpoint for the trail of light, stretching from the level of the catwalk floor up almost as high as Beth could reach, and perhaps four feet wide. Beth knew it was unblemished because it was not a part of the world unaffected by the fragmentation, but rather part when the veil had been peeled back. She did not know what the source of this nexus was, or the significance of the information it imparted, but she would find out.  Despite a brief vision of Spencer’s arm burning in the wards at Kevin’s haven in the back of her mind, Beth reached out to touch the inky-blue patch. It was solid and cool to the touch. Beth laid her hand flat against the surface, and a series of yellow lines began to form a pattern against the blue.

Beth stood, still alone, on the catwalk, beholding a perfectly normal visible world – no cracks, no trails of light. The space was at peace. Beth looked down and realized she held a mostly dry paintbrush in her hand. Blotches of paint in a variety of colors spotted her hands, arms, her three-quarter sleeve blue blouse, her brown twill skirt and, she realized, her seemingly-disheveled hair. Scattered on the catwalk were half empty paint cans, skins forming on the surface of the paint pooled within, along with a roller, brushes of several sizes, and a pan with colors spread and mixed like an overgrown palette.

The result of all this mess had taken the blue patch’s place on the wall. A painted door, simple in appearance at first. But when Beth looked closer a microcosm of detail was visible, minute patterns scrolling across the length. The door handle looked almost real enough to grasp, turn, and pull. She knew that now was not the time, however. The door opened out – she would have to wait on something else. Turning from the door, Beth ungracefully dropped the brush into the pan, the clattering sound reverberating through the empty space. Pains of hunger clawed their way up her chest. How much time had she lost? Light was beginning to pour in and Beth needed to get to cover quick. One last look back at her work.  But now there was something different. The door was cracked open–just a hair–and Beth could hear something. A voice or a soft torrent of voice was screaming in the near audible range. Beth put her ear to the mural and the words were clear:

Hunt the shadow-sleepers /Think not on fear or hate / Hunt them for blood / for Kindred’s sake

End Interludes

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