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 is our final prelude flashback before returning to the ongoing narrative. This final prelude is for Beth’s, the Malkavian member of the coterie. I have to say it felt kind of creepy just going over these events again, and I hope the write-up does the situation some sort of justice.
Beth’s Prelude – Smaller God – Early 2014
Beth had always risen well before Rupert, awakening when the sun was still above the horizon and its rays limited her to the more secure parts of what had once been her home, but had now been their home for the past nine years. She did not ordinarily find this time lonely, knowing that he rested nearby. But she felt a pang this night, because this was the third night in a row that Rupert was not there, and Beth still didn’t know why.
But she carried on as she always he, as he had instructed her to. It was a Wednesday, which meant that the class she taught this evening was an installment in her Pop! Archaeology seminar series. It was New England, and students could never seem to get enough of the Salem Witch Trials, so tonight’s seminar was titled “The Real Crucible.” Her willingness to personally continue teaching an entry-level course, rather passing it off on graduate students, plus her pull with the administration, enabled Beth to keep her scheduled responsibilities to the one evening seminar, four nights a week, alternating between the pop classes and graduate level offerings focusing on her specialty of Mesoamerican Anthropology.
Once, Beth had been foolishly proud of her career for its own sake, how she had been able to turn her stunning discoveries in the Central American jungle into respect and, eventually, a tenured position at Brown at a remarkably young age, still in her mid-30s. Now, Beth was still proud of her career, because it was of use to Rupert, and nothing gave Beth greater pleasure than being of use to him. Now, everything she did, she gladly did to advance his vitally important research into vampiric history. It was so important to preserve what little information was available, especially with some few of them left in the world.
Later that night, after the classes were done, Beth visited the artifact storage rooms, wanting to look at an original carving again to verify a possible translation. On her way in, she encountered Steven, one of the Anthropology graduate students, who was anxiously searching for a fragment of ancient pottery he had managed to dislodge with an errant sneeze. Ever since her Embrace, Beth had been gifted with the ability to see the reality behind the everyday reality – connections, ominous shadows, fractured shards of personality and motive. It was always there, opening her perceptions a bit wider, she was able to sense the location of the missing fragment, and Steven expressed his undying gratitude. Tenured professor she may be, but let it not be said that Dr. Mary Elizabeth Winston was above actually helping the students.
Days passed, and then weeks. Every night Beth rose. Most night Beth called the blood to fill out her cheeks, pump her heart, and provide the other signs of life needed to go out among the mortals. Every night, the supply of bagged blood dwindled, consumed two at a time. Normally another delivery would have arrived, but Rupert always handled that – Beth didn’t know where to begin to have shipments of bagged, whole blood delivered to one’s house. And for nine years, that had been the only source of blood she needed. Except, of course, for those luscious evenings when Rupert permitted her to drink from him.
Eventually, Beth’s fear of running out of blood overcame her fear of having to find an actual human to drink from. She had even tried to run the license plate of Rupert’s SUV, only to discover that it had been registered to some other dead man. Wishing she had watched more movies about vampires, Beth decided that finding a likely target at some bar or club would be her best bet. She found one that seemed to cater to the thirtysomething professional set that matched Beth’s apparent age – certainly nowhere a student would attend – and picked out a short, but professional-looking skirt, along with a sleeveless cream blouse. The sort of ensemble that could say sexy while also conveying the impression that, like the finance bro patrons of the establishment, she had been hard at work almost up until it was time to go out.
The whole idea made Beth nervous, but it was easier than she had imagined. Sure, she knew that guys could be suckers when pursuing a companion for the night (that was one reason Beth had picked this sort of bar, although it would not otherwise have been her preference). But the supernatural charm that infused her, that helped make her lectures so popular, felt overwhelming when she brought the full force to bear singling out one of the yuppies and luring him back to the men’s room. Beth felt a rush as her fangs sank through the dark skin of his neck, a heady mixture of alcohol-infused blood rushing into her mouth. A few minutes later, she exited the restroom, having left her victim passed out, slumped against the wall. With a quick “your friend couldn’t hold his liquor,” to the man’s companions, Beth strode out into the night, almost exultant.
But still yearning for her Rupert.
End Beth’s Prelude