Cracks

So many fallen. So much lost.

The elders who once filled us with fear and awe have fled in fear or burnt to ashes. The over-proud Julii are in tatters and, with them, the Camarilla. Rome is fragmenting, the strong holding what they can; all struggling to hold together the pieces of what they once valued.

I have, I think, borne the years somewhat better than my… friends. Is that what they are – my companions through the long night? Certainly we have fought and argued for one another and while these are not my skills, I have done what I could to assist, guarded them while they slept and slaked their thirst.

Even in these most dangerous of times, I have more blood than I need and, more and more, those who once hunted the night come quietly and ask in whispered voices for my help. I watch them when they come and worry.

I can see the Beast behind their eyes growing stronger. Fear feeds it, perhaps, and age. Or perhaps our age just weakens our resolve to resist the voice that has always lurked in the darkness within us. Even as a man, holding the scalpel, my thoughts would turn to just how fragile a human life is, how easily ended. Now, when I cut, I feel the Beast rage within me, calling for me to let the blood run free and hot. My fear is not that this Beast will overwhelm my resolve. My fear is that the beast is me.

Such musings must wait for another time, however. Whatever the cause, I see its effect on my friends most clearly. None yet repulse me the way that Marcellarius did but I see their minds beginning to fray and their behaviour grows increasingly disturbing. And I wonder, do they see the same when they look at me?

Caelia and Obayana are absorbed in their own endeavours and I see them less and less. As time passes, however, I worry for them more. Caelia’s humours were already unbalanced when first we met and so much time in the company of the Librarian can not help. Obayana, likewise, lives a life where atrocities become common-place – few of the Legio are more than leashed beasts after even a few decades and Obayana has served for sixty years.

I fear that, of all of their practices, the most damaging is Diablerie. I have seen its effects firsthand now. The strength that it yields is undeniable but the cost is more than I would wish to pay. It is almost as if, in its last, dying throes, one’s victim strikes back, finding the cracks in one’s mind and prising them open into weakness and even madness. And yet, those who have drunk seek to do so again and again.

Even without this, however, I see the cracks forming. My friends tell me that they no longer gain sustenance from the blood of animals – poor Caelia was in tears – and the tales from those few elders who remain suggest that, eventually, even human blood will be as water to them. At this point, the barrier between simple feeding and Diablerie is only as strong as one’s self-control.

In response, I have devoted more time to my studies and they continue apace – well, apace given the nature and pace of our lives. With willpower, meditations and insights from the blood-magic rituals of ancient Carthage, I have discovered that my lessened need for blood enables me to feed from animals still and I have little doubt that this will be true no matter how old I become.

I have also convinced Avitus to begin on my path, although I fear that some damage that we might otherwise have avoided has already been done. I have shown him how to restrain the Beast through a combination of meditations, redirection and force of will. While it is draining, if one is strong of mind, neither fire, blood or even sunlight is sufficient to break one’s reason.

The others have yet to come around to my path – although I suspect that Caelia’s love of rats may draw her to me.

Valentina, of course, is always far too… busy… juggling her new responsibilities to listen to my arguments. I do not blame her for any distrust; I still harbour guilt for the changes wrought upon her, even as I suspect that it was this that saved her from whatever curse has befallen her sire and the rest of his brood.

Of them all, though, I worry most about Severus. Despite everything, he holds true to his faith and, in this time of upheaval, that may be the most dangerous course of action. He is, at heart, a good man, I think, but he has spent far too long alone in the dark. His obsessions grow and, while he thinks that what he does is for the best, I am not as sure. He is unbending and, while that grants him great strength of purpose, I worry that, beneath his hard exterior, he is made of glass, ready to shatter if struck too hard a blow.

And so I watch, and worry. And hope they will come to me before the darkness claims them.

Sp. Veius Medicus

Cracks

Blood of Rome mbwelsh