by Timothy Toner (18 Nov 93)
Well, I've been a bit on the sick side as of late, but managed to lock this together. Need a new group to menace your coterie? Need a new source of comic relief? Need a justification for all the space the Caine Files take up? Here you are! Comments, questions, everything accepted. Enjoy.
"Why, Natalie, I wasn't expecting you..."
The vampire pursed his lips, watching the girl slip through the doorway. So delicate... "You aren't wearing the clothes I bought for you..."
"Sire, I've-I've brought a friend."
He watched as she reached beyond the threshold, and gestured. Some pale trash from this century strode defiantly through the door. "Hello, Mordecai."
The two engaged in a fierce staredown, neither flinching from a terrible rivalry in its infancy. Finally, Natalie stepped between. "Uh-This is Jack."
"Jack? How unexpected. How--ordinary? Well, what do you want with me, boy? Natalie and I have to get to a meeting."
"She's coming with me-"
"Jack!" She glared at her friend, trying to hush his open hostility. "Sire, I--I want to go with him. He's going to take me to Chicago, to see the museums there."
Mordecai stared at her in shocked bemusement, then finally laughed aloud. "Well, the little bird think's she's ready for the bitter, bitter world. I've allowed you to spend too much time on your own. You've lost your sense of decency. This... thing is beneath you."
Jack clenched his fists. His cheeks grew flushed, and his intent was apparent. Still Natalie begged for peace. "Please, Sire. I love him. I-"
"You love him? Trollop! I gave you anything you desired: power, money, a place by my side! And you spit in my face with him. How dare you, bitch! Very well, why don't you go with him?"
Natalie flinched under the barrage, feeling the force of the words pound into her savagely. It was Jack who came to her aid. "You know very well, Mordecai! The Bond. She couldn't take ten steps out of this pathetic town without her resolve crumpling. She's too good for a sick old toad like you."
"So I should just give her to you?"
"And if I don't?"
"Then I take her."
Mordecai smiled. "Only over my dead body."
"A possibility I not only have anticipated, but I eagerly await."
The elder vampire took a step back, apparently in defeat, and strode leisurley over to the small, nearly empty Kitchenette. He plucked up a strangely sharp butcher knife from the counter, and walked back to the two. It was not held threateningly in any regard. Rather, it seemed that he was going to give it to one of them.
He offered the blade to Natalie, and she accepted it, confused. He touched her cheek lightly. "My Natalie. You know his cruel words hurt me terribly. He's threatened me most gravely, and I'm afraid there's only one answer.
"Kill the bastard."
Jack moved to assault Mordecai, but Natalie moved faster. She caught him right below the ear, and plunged the blade straight through to the other side. It lacerated his windpipe, and the sudden gurgle of surprise was trapped by stainless steel.
She wrenched the blade forward, and Jack collapsed to his knees. The fight was almost over. Blood tears staining her cheeks, she brought the blade down again and again across the nape of his neck. It took more than twelve strokes, but the bone gave way with a splintering crack, and the head lopped onto the floor.
It was over. Mordecai returned from the part of the Haven he had turned into a wardrobe, fully dressed. "Finished? Good. I'm going to go out and get something to eat. Clean up the mess, eh?"
"Yes, sire." Her tears began to bleed into the starched white blouse Jack had bought for her after that first night. The two things that were hers and hers alone were comingling, and thinking on it was perhaps the only thing that was keeping her from plunging the blade into her eyes over and over.
Mordecai, passing close to her as he stepped out, glanced at the spectacle she was making of herself. "And clean up yourself. Honestly, with tears like that, I might question you loyalties.
"And burn that ratty blouse. It doesn't become you."
He was gone, leaving Natalie to soak her shoes in the blood of her lover. She couldn't weep. She couldn't moan. Part of her mind raged with mute fury, but that was a small part, far away from the reality of the day. Still, it was hers, and it was free. And that quiet part, after it had sobbed itself hoarse, made a wish. It was a small one, but it was very powerful. And like all small wishes, it came true.
It began with the sound, not unlike a small fire catching suddenly in a pile of dry twigs. It grew in intensity, filling the room with myriad echoes of crackling and crunching. Natalie, unaware of the source of the noise, could only gaze in utter astonishment.
The next thing to happen was the violation of the corpse. The bones of the rib cage snapped and shattered like an egg under the persistent assault of a chick. The legs quivered and shook, jerked about by unseen forces playing at the tendons. The arms, however, reamined horribly still, as if refusing to take part in this desecration.
Finally, the body stopped its frenetic motions. And the man stepped out. "Natalie?" he asked, almost whimsically.
"Yes? Who are you?"
"Natalie, I've come to help you." He spoke in a rich, thick German accent that reassured more than threatened.
"Yes. But as is true with all things worthwhile, you've got to want me to help you. What do you want?"
"I--I want... to be free of him."
"No." He clucked his tongue reproachingly. "That's not what you really wanted."
She fell silent. "I can't say it."
"Yes you can. You can't do it, but you can say it. You've thought of it. That's already something you 'can't' do."
She stared down at the floor. Jack's blood was all but gone, no longer a staining puddle. Where had it--
"I want to kill him."
"Good. Now, it only becomes a little more complex. Think of him, this man you wish to kill. Now think of his memory, his hateful existence, flowing through your body, like the blood that ebbs and flows. Focus that hate into the smallest part of you. A finger. A toe. Focus!"
She knew what to do next, as if it was instinctual. Natalie extended the slender pinkie across the oak table top, and severed it cleanly with a single stroke. There was a sudden void within her, a good void, as if a terrible boil had been lanced.
She heard Mordecai return, his seal skin boots scraping on the landing. The stranger was still there, looking supremely pleased with himself. He nodded to her, touched his index finger to the side of his nose, and winked. He seemed to explode in a torrent of blood, as all that was Jack spread into a ever widening puddle on the ground.
The door swung open, and Mordecai stepped in. "Bloody Hell!" he screamed. "Natalie! Look at this mess. What the devil happened to your finger? Can't you do anything right?"
She struck him right below the chin, and continued to drag the blade down, down, down, until he was properly gelded. It wouldn't kill him, not right away, but it sure would hurt. She had to lean his twitching form against her once or twice, but she didn't mind supporting him now. There were things she was good at...
Of all the Clans, the most predictable and least predicable are those that call themselves Malkavians. They are predictable in that they are all insane, and they are unpredictable in how they use that insanity. But there are always exceptions to such rules.
Within the clan Malkavian, a less than secret clique has existed over the past 500 years. They share a single group dementia which causes some Kindred to shake their head at the seeming lack of imagination, so distinctive in this clan. Those who try to study this group know that they are far from powerless, and are dangerous in their own right.
Put simply, they as a group, individually and collectively, actively believe that they are Caine. They refer to themselves as the Children of Caine, and travel the world, seeking those interested in the Progenitor, and actively making their lives miserable. The Children do not discriminate in regard to politics. They equally terrorize the Camarilla, the Sabbat, the Inconnu; anyone curious enough to wonder how it all began is the target of their inquisitive nature.
The response of the different factions is curious, to say the least. The Camarilla is angered by the intrusion of the Children in their cities (since the Children never feel the need to present themselves, and when they do, the answer is always the same: "I'm Caine), but the Children seem just as concerned about the preservation of the Masquerade. They will do nothing to embarrass Kindred in front of mortals, but will come very close to it at times.
Because of the Path of Caine, the Children of Caine are revered, almost worshiped by certain members of the Sabbat. With the influence of the Cainites, the Children can get away with just about anything. It is believed by the Cainites that the Children of Caine possess secret information regarding the First, and that anyone that harms a Child endangers the information. Which leads to the other significant factor: their virtual martyrdom. The Children tend to wander into dangerous areas, where their presence is neither desired nor needed. They seem to face hostility with a child's innocence, not understanding that they're angering those with which they speak. They have no fear of the most maniacal Sabbat, or the most powerful Prince, or even of the most omnipotent Antediluvian. This attitude has cause not a little fear amongst groups unfamiliar with such open-faced bravery.
The history of the Children of Caine is as straightforward and convoluted as the Children themselves. Those who speak only do so after the scholar has been sent on a wild goose chase thousands of miles long and months in duration. In short, the petitioner must be able to show that she really wants to find out the truth. Only after she has been taken past her breaking point, does the "true" tale come out.
Their history, they say, begins with the history of Malkav and the Third Generation. The Second City was burning, the Third generation having taken their bloody vengeance out on the Second Generation. Those who survived howled in delight as the blood of their Elders soaked the streets. Then the door opened, and Caine awoke.
The Third Generation froze in panic. They had hoped the First would sleep, and sleep long enough for the Third to rally their courage to take even him out. He walked past them, neither looking nor caring about the carnage that surrounded him. As he walked out of view, the Third, expecting to be killed, shook their head in confusion. It was time to leave, they said. Let the Old One wander into the pits of Sheol for all they cared.
Not so Malkav. He had howled with his brethren all the same, but had read something mysteriously powerful in the face of his Grandsire. Something that haunted him, distressed him. He knew he could not rest until he knew what that secret was.
And so he journeyed all over the world, following in the spirit and the footsteps of the Wanderer. Wherever he went, there were tales of the Sad One, who brought a small bit of suffering with his arrival, and left a small bit of bliss with his departure.
At last, after years of fruitless searching, he came upon Caine. It was in the mountains, where the cold, hard rock provided little protection from the rising sun. It was suicide, following him up this far, but Malkav had to know.
He found him on a rocky ledge. "Why have you followed me. Why have you become a partner to my suffering?"
"When you left, I--I saw your face. It was-"
"Sad? Pathetic? Boy, I don't need your pity. Leave this mountain while you can."
"What do you know? I will not leave until I know it!"
"You are willing to die to learn the secret that destroys my soul? What kind of fool are you?"
"The worst kind. The inquisitive kind."
And then the First... smiled. "Yes. You deserve something for your hard work. As I was rewarded for my tilling of the fields. Very well, I tell you this. In that place, from where I slept, I finally have been given the vision of totality, of pasts, present, and futures. I know all the things I am responsible for, and all thing I cannot control. I was going to climb up this mountain, and toss myself off, so that the secret would die with me. If such a fall could kill one such as myself. But I doubt it. It honestly never occurred to me that someone else would be interested. I am flattered."
He held Malkav tightly, and whispered half the secret into his ear. It bled into his soul, and infected the blood which ran deep in his veins.
"There. Now all your children will know a fraction of the mystery. It will run in your blood, and infect their souls as well. They will burrow deep within their psyches to escape the horror, but there is no escape."
And then the First kicked the quivering mass of Malkav down the mountain, until he nestled in a crevice, safe from the sun's rays. He awoke... changed. Renewed. He passed through India, and made his first Progeny there. They used the madness wisely, enriching their existence.
After thousands of years, after witch hunts and pogroms against their kind, a group of Malkavians, fifty in number, clustered together to talk of old times. The reason for the gathering mystified them one and all, until Kerwyn stepped forth.
He was not a Malkavian, but rather a Brujah who had heard the legend of the secret. If it were true, each Malkavian possessed a fraction of that secret. Bring enough together, and perhaps someone could divine the secret from the mish-mash.
The Malkavians were impressed. No one had ever sought to take them seriously before. They smiled at the thought. As a one, they decided to put his theory to the test, and submitted to his questions.
One by one, Kerwyn reached into their minds, and uncovered that fraction of the secret. The moment it hit the conscious mind, something extraordinary happened. Their derangements evaporated when there was nothing left to hide.
And finally it was done. The grand experiment completed, the Malkavians turned to Kerwyn. He shrugged mightily, and explained that it just didn't make any sense. Perhaps a bigger pool was necessary. Whatever the case, it was over.
The Malkavians disagreed. It made perfect sense... to them. Once they began assimilating it all, the pieces started falling into place. They thanked Kerwyn, patting him on the back for his troubles. So demeaning were they, that Kerwyn began to lose his composure, and demanded to know what it was. They reminded the Brujah that it wasn't his place to know such things. Then, quite unexpectedly, they turned on him, and knocked him unconscious.
According to the story, they then formed a circle, with Kerwyn at the center, and through his blood, summoned the First. He smiled at them warmly, and congratulated them for deciphering the first part. He then asked them if they were ready for the last. As a one, they replied, "No."
The First was more than confused. "Why then was I awakened?" They pointed at the prostate form of Kerwyn. "He has awakened us, at much cost to himself. He wants to know the second part. We think he should know it."
He bent low, and tasted Kerwyn's blood. It was, as they said, deep, rich, and inquisitive. "Very well. I will grant it unto him. Realize, however, that such knowledge will make you subservient to him."
"We are but your Children."
"Leave us now. You know my secrets, thus you know a secret part of me. Go in my name, and seek those who dwell in darkness."
They left, to find others and to free their minds.
The rest is speculation, based on what Kerwyn told his successor, and what his successor has told the successor, and so on. Caine walked to the form, and asked him if he wished to know the great secret. Kerwyn, licking his lips at the thought, agreed.
"There are burdens to such power."
"I don't care! I've suffered so! Let me know!"
And Caine told him. And Caine gave him. The blood, tricking from the source, was too much for Kerwyn's humble form. It ruptured and cracked, split apart. But the form that arose from it was mighty indeed. And at last, Kerwyn understood...
When Kerwyn rallied the first Malkavians, and exposed their horrid little secret, his work did not go unrewarded. Whether the true Caine stepped forth, or he was the target of a new dementia, the result was undisputed. He was reborn into a new form, and his life would never be the same.
According to the legend, Caine bestowed upon Kerwyn not only the second half of the secret, but all the burdens that went with it, the knowing that all the petty little crimes they committed in the name of the blood, and with the blood, were all his fault. With that knowledge, that burden, came an incredible level of control over the blood. Further, the frail human shell he once inhabited could not possibly support the level of power he was to inherit. Caine forged a new body from the blood that flowed in Kerwyn's veins, adding a drop of his own in the bargain. Now Kerwyn had complete control over his own form.
Kerwyn became the Inheritor, the most potent Kindred to walk the earth. But he knew that he could not hold on to the secret forever. The need to tell, to impart it, was overpowering. He commanded his children to go forth, to find those who burned to know the secret just as badly as he once did. And, in time they did. Kerwyn told the secret, and waited for Caine to come, to take him, and to pass on the Inheritance.
And so it has been, the mantle passing through five Kindred. Little is known about the current holder, only that he was once called Wilhelm. He is comfortable in the position, posing as a normal Child, even as a Malkavian, as it suits his purpose. It is rumored that he has already set the plans in motion for his successor. All copies of a work he once created, the Caine Files, has been destroyed, except for his personal copy. He ripped the pages out, and passed them out to his Children, telling them to disburse them all over the world. The Kindred obsessed enough to gather all the pages together will earn the right to learn the Secret, and become the next Inheritor.
Unbeknownst to Wilhelm, another copy of the Files has survived. Whether finding it will impart any power is unknown. It can act as a key to finding the other pages, since the average Kindred has no idea how many pages there really are. However, word that a single page exists has been known to cause open fighting amongst interested parties.
Being the successor to Caine, applying game stats to the Inheritor is futile. He is privy to the minds of every Kindred on the planet, knowing their desires, their fears, and their deepest secrets. Further, he is formed wholly of blood, and possesses any Discipline that utilizes blood, being able to invoke it at will.
The Inheritor has so completely accepted his role, that he has reached Golconda, and only requires one blood point per week for sustenance. He does not need to feed, merely using theft of vitae wherever necessary. Assigning a Generation is difficult, since no one has ever pushed an Inheritor hard enough to discover the true extent of his power. However, he possesses Iron Will, and laughs at those who try to use Majesty on him.
A few of his powers:
Permanent Pavis of Foul Presence: All attempts to use Presence on the Inheritor end up rebounding, including the ever popular "summon."
Blood Walk: A bizarre form of transport that shows just how well linked the Inheritor is to the rest of his "children." The Inheritor can reform anywhere in the world, manifesting a body out of the vitae in an area. The vitae can be in a puddle on the ground, a bottle on a table, or even coursing through a Kindred's veins. The Inheritor can remain in the body for a number of turns equal to the points of blood in the pool. Entering a living Kindred usually kills the vampire instantaneously, but the Inheritor seldom uses this power, deeming it too cruel. It is said that the Tremere have developed a ritual which requires a point of blood from all 13 clans. When cast, the Inheritor is forced to appear and answer 13 questions. The truth of the matter is that the Inheritor appears out of idle curiosity, and his answers are seldom straightforward, if even truthful.
Blood Denial: The Inheritor has complete control over the vitae in one individual who is in line of sight. He may force the Kindred to use blood, he may deny the use of blood, he may undo the effects of blood. It is said that he can suspend, or even nullify the effects of a blood bond, though only does so in extreme cases. Keep in mind that this power is only to be used to punish those who commit truly aggrevious sins in the name of the blood. Generation Jumpers are one example (serial diabolists), as are Kindred who savagely abuse blood bonds.
Lack of Heart: Because of the nature of his body being formed completely of blood, the Inheritor has no heart to stake, thus no terror from the stake.
No Fear of Diablerie: Anyone foolish enough to try diablerie are welcome to it. The Inheritor can freely reform anywhere his blood goes.
Immunity to Sunlight and Fire: No one truly knows whether or not the Inheritor has this power. He does not seem to have to sleep when the sun rises, and can temporarily suspend the need to sleep in others. Further, he openly gloats that he is immune to sunlight and fire, being "Caine." Whether he actually walks in the sun, or merely transport between places, is unknown.
As you can see, the Inheritor is incredibly potent, but there is no fear of abuse of power. First, the selection of an Inheritor tends to weed out those who do it strictly for the acquisition of power. Only those who seek knowledge for knowledge's sake, as Malkav once did, are capable of learning it. Second, it is said that the nature of the second part of the Secret prevents the Inheritor from abusing the power; frankly, it doesn't make sense anymore.