by Steve Gilham (8 Nov 93)
Graf Siegfried von Kirchmöser, Prussian aristocrat, born 1831. Embraced by a Toreador of the Old Anarch persuasion (i.e. antitribu)
Siegfrid celebrated - if that was the word - his 23rd birthday, feeling far older and more tired than his years would suggest. He had exhausted the thrills to be gained from cowed peasant girls, was no longer amused by the simulated lasciviousness of the whores, and the antics of the so-called Hellfire clubs of Berlin and Weimar. What new amusements could he find?
He broached the subject with M. du Bern, one of the guests then at the Schloss, one of the arriviste French upper classes, but one full of tales of the latter days of the Marquis de Sade, which had enlivened some dull nights, and received in return some enigmatic hints of a Hellfire club beyond all the others, who, quite simply, called themselves the Damned.
The usual tactful approaches were made, and eventually some of the members of this club - both men and women - agreed to visit Schloss Kirchmöser, on the night of All Hallows Eve. The newcomers arrived in the late evening, with the revels well into their swing; and quickly took the lead in the activities. Towards midnight, one of them suggested a Black Mass, but this raised little enthusiasm - this was the well tried out path of the Hellfire clubs, schoolboy giggling over stolen Hosts and whores in habits. This one, M. du Bern assured him, would be different.
And it was. Never before had Siegfried attended such a ritual where the black priest and his attendents slit their own wrists to fill the chalice. And what a dark miracle they worked over it - more intoxicating than wine it was.
Soon the sharing of blood was part of the established ritual in the debauches he hosted, whether or not the Damned cared to attend.
As the new year dawned, Siegfried was met by the Graefin Elizebeta who suggested to him that even darker pleasures were possible to one who had been initiated into their set, and that on 12th Night they were prepared to initiate him. He should be at the churchyard, alone, at the stroke of midnight.
The night was cloudy, and snow fell in odd flurries. Amongst the headstones no light showed, but the snow made finding the way easier. There were footprints. He followed and found a trampled area, and a freshly dug grave. An instant of doubt struck, and he turned to flee, but Elizebeta stepped from behind one of the stones and took his sleeve.
"Initiations always mean the death of the old, to give birth to the new," she told him.
"Very well, then have me recite your oath, or whatever it is"
"It is more than that" and she grabbed him. He felt her teeth sink into his neck, but before he could begin to struggle, the rapture claimed him, as if he spent over and over again. Yes, this was what he had sought.
There was the taste of iron in his mouth, a yearning ache, like hunger, thirst and lust all combined which consumed him. He tried to struggle, and found himself in an enclosed space. Padded. A coffin!
Straining mightily, he managed to loosen some of the nails, and loose packed earth began to pour in. Buried alive! Sheer panic claimed him then, and he recalled little until the shock of cold air as he burst free, finally. The desperate hunger was still upon him, as he spotted a shape moving amongst the gravestones; a peasnat girl. He grabbed her, and without thinking sank his teeth into her soft throat, and drank, and drank. The same rapture as before claimed him, and her also, and he felt her body spasm as if she spent as he drained the last of her blood.
"Welcome," the voice startled him, as he crouched over the body,"to the Damned."
Years followed. He learned the facts of his new existence - shunning the burning light of the sun, the lethargy during daylight hours, the need to feed, the nine great clans of the Damned, and the separation into the two factions of the Camarilla, tools of the eldest vampires, and the Anarchs, the rebel faction, amongst whom he and his coterie nominally fell, as they did not care for the stuffy manoeuverings of the Camarilla, but instead sought to enjoy their vampiric state.
There were thrills - the blood, taken from their willing circle of ghouls and blood dolls, the midnight hunts for werewolves, the savage thrills of duels fought at dawn in secluded hollows, on the edge of frenzy from the sunlight and the loss of blood.
The Great War passed almost without incident, though some of the coterie chose to sleep those years; but in the glorious decadence of the Weimar Republic it seemed as if the world would become one long party.
Until the disappearances began. Blame first fell on the Brujah rabble who had joined in the Bolshevik movement, but representations to the Prince of Berlin were met by counter-accusations, and the old moves of the Jyhad began.
The mystery was only resolved when the coterie went to see, and perhaps jeer at, this jumped up little corporal who was agitating about the Bolsheviks. As the little man ranted on, captivating the kine, du Bern whispered to Siegfried "Beware; there is something wrong with his aura. There is magick involved here." The attack of the brown shirted thugs took them by surprise, and for all that they still breathed, their strength and speed was nearly a match for their prey.
This discovery subdued the revels at Schloss Kirchmöser. Despite the ties of blood between them, sever of the group decided to find secret places to sleep and hope to wake when things had settled down. By the time that the Nazi party had come to power, this seemed like a sensible thing to do, as some of those abroad on the Night of the Long Knives did not only seek Jews: a circle of Magi and a sept of Garou were allied and sought vampires.
Reluctantly, Siegfried retired to his family crypt, and settled down to sleep fifty years away.
Ravenous from his slumbers, Siegfried slid the marble slab away, dislodging the debris of dried leaves and the remains of small animals that had accumulated. The crypt seemed not to have been entered or touched during the time he lay in torpor.
Stealing out into the gloom of the early evening, he strode towards the Schloss, which, by the lights at some windows, seemed to be in use. "People's Record Office" he read on the tarnished brass plate by the door. This was terrible - it seemed that the Bolshviks had managed to defeat Herr Hitler despite his Magickal allies.
He strode into what had once been his home. A woman, plainly dressed, sat at a desk in the hall. She protested at his arrival, but he clamped his hand over her mouth, and drank deeply. A man, alerted by her cries, came to investigate. He too provided much needed blood.
The next to arrive was another woman. From her he sought information. He learned how the glorious People's Republic had been founded from the ashes of Hitler's Reich, and how the decadent West would soon fall to the workers.
The decadence sounded perfect to him. But where? Vienna might still be in the West, but the Warlocks, he knew, had claimed that city for their own. Paris, city of the Toreadors of the Camerilla, would not give him a civil reception. Edinburgh, similarly. London, though... he heard tell of the "Swinging London" that had debauched the young people of England. Yes, that would be a fine place to establish himself.