The Bedlam's Rest Correspondence

This covers Rebecca's tenure from May 1999 to May 2000, when Bedlam's Rest faded with nary a whimper. That chronicle has been removed from Rebecca's continuity to allow me to play her in another game, but I don't like throwing away anything I've written.

5/10/99

Dear boss,
        Sorry I haven't written sooner but, as you can imagine things have been quite busy. The new chantry is alright - very well equipped and well funded, but a much bigger crowd than I'm used to. Eight Tremere (including myself) in the territory, alone!
        The chantry head is Alessandro DeMedici - he's going by Alex, here - and he seems to be your typical elder example of the clan - bloody well educated, but a tad anachronistic. When all is said and done I think I'm settling in quite well with the clan.
        The rest of the court is another story. Christ, I may as well have worn a shirt that said "Bumpkin". I was a nervous as hell all night and damn near made a fool of myself in front of the Prince... Sure, sure I can hear you saying that we don't need to worry about princes, but down here, people live a lot closer to each other, even the kindred, it seems.
        I followed the prudent course of doing a bit of judicious sucking-up with anyone of rank who gave the time of day. I'm sure that irritates you no end, but I thought it would be a good idea.
        However, I think I may have succeeded too well. My intention was to look like any other loyal neonate, but I seem to be standing out - just what I didn't want. The court Herald - a prominent Toreador - took notice of me, which isn't too big of a deal as she seems to taking an interest in all of the Tremere women. It still bears watching, but I don't think she's a threat, yet.
        The other person who's interest I would be happy to avoid is the Prince. Yes, you read that right. I sent the man the usual token of esteem - after performing the usual research - and now I have been invited to tea with him. A private tea no less... Fortunately, his reputation says he is a fairly devout Muslim, so while I may have to worry about playing the part of the teapot, I don't think I have to fear rape on top of it. Mind you, apparently he practically crawled down the front of my clan mate Lily, when they met, but she's extremely pretty and none of the males in court could keep their eyes off her. If only she wasn't such a shy mouse, I'm sure her good looks could be used to the clan's advantage.
        Other than that, work is normal - thank god. The clan has pretty tight ties with UC Berkeley, and I'm hoping to extend that to Stanford, as they have a much better anthropology lab. The Chantry head is encouraging me to continue my studies with the local tribes, but there's one slight problem in that they're almost completely exterminated - not even a reservation left.
        The chantry's library situation is one of an embarrassment of riches, but Lily is a damn good librarian, fortunately, so the bulk of that job has fallen to her. I'm instructing our IS manager about why you don't use a 486 as a network server - and installing my bootleg copy of Quake 3 on every desktop in sight. By the way they're reacting, you'd think the Tremere had never heard of computer games before…
        Just wait 'til I suggest a round of golf.
        Thinking of you and wishing for the small-town life.

Rebecca.

6/2/99

Dear boss,
        I thought I had better let you know that I survived tea with Prince Audran, although I may not survive the task he has set me. Guess who has to go investigate the lupine? I think my little gift to the Prince either flattered him beyond all proportion, or scared the hell out of him to have a neonate so aggressively up-sucking. I'm sure you can guess where my money is, can't you? Alex isn't too pleased about it, believing that perhaps the Prince has found a new way to thin out the Tremere ranks before we're perceived as a threat by others. Why is it that our clan is considered such a threat to the clans of the Camarilla? We're its backbone for heaven's sake!
        Still, I got myself into this, and I'll get out of it. I've received my orders, so I have no choice but to get cracking.
        During our little tea, I did my best to appear the loyal neonate without seeming entirely braindead. I suppose I couldn't have struck Audran as a complete invertebrate otherwise he wouldn't be trying to foist me off on the werewolves. Like any man in charge, he seems to like the fact that I'll follow orders. On the other hand, I don't think he appreciated an early part of our conversation.
        "So how is your elder?" he asked.
        "Happy to have so many new students, I think" I reply.
        "And how are his students?"
        "They're happy to have such a good teacher."
        I know it was coy, but I couldn't resist. The clan is operating within standard parameters, which means the Prince doesn't need to know anything about what the clan is up to unless it concerns the clan as a whole.
        I'm trying to sort this Prince out. Of course, my impression of his is very scanty, and the fact that he's ancient and from another culture makes things that much more difficult. He seems very pleased by outward shows of loyalty and respect to one's superiors, but his behavior towards Lily during their introduction at court - as you may recall, I mentioned he practically leered at her - makes me wonder how far that facade of formal civility goes.
        I think the important thing to keep in mind with this man is that he is a Toreador. He probably has a dresser full of personas that he can don as easily as a suit, and moves from one to the next as he wishes. The Toreador are traditionally unstable, so how does he manage to keep his throne? By being more stable than most, I suppose. I've never resided in close proximity to such senior kindred before, I think observing them may become an interesting side project...

        The chantry is looking good. The network has finally been established, and some of my clanmates have discovered the delights of networked computer games - although Alex is invariably reduced to a puddle of goo within three rounds of Quake. I'm getting the impression that he's actually much better with techinical matters than he pretends to be - but prefers to keep to the image of the anachronistic elder. I've heard that older vampires have a difficult time adjusting to new times, but surely they must have a tiny degree of flexibility left within them, otherwise how could they survive?

        Thinking of you and still feeling homesick - although I'll admit the nightlife is more interesting here...

Rebecca.

6/15/99

Dear boss,
        Another court meeting has come and gone and I certainly have a better understanding as to why we avoided them so assidiously up there. It seems that Elders have all the manners and tact of a pack of children, and the insults were flying thick and fast. I suppose if it keeps their attention off me, I shall be happy.

        Lady Bannister - I've mentioned her before - has been revealed as even more dangerous than previously thought. Not only was she able to follow me while I was hunting, not only does she throw around far more weight than the simple title Herald would suggest, but she apparently also suffers from multiple personality disorder. The personality that was encountered during court distinctly referred to Elizabeth Bannister as a different identity - whilst acknowledging that it was an indentity within herself. At least she knows she's crazy, I suppose.

        Some courtiers are alarmed by Bannister's mental state, others are shrugging it off with a complacent remark about all Elders being a little crazy after the first couple of centuries. For the moment, I will avoid her as much as possible, but I have noticed that she can be dam' quick to take offense. She had the nerve to ask me about a private task set to me by Audran - when Audran himself had not told me that she knew of the matter - and she was quite vexed when I told her that not only could I not speak about it in public - I can't believe she had no idea of security - but that as far as I knew, she was not cleared to know about it.

        Since I don't want the Prince's friend - and that friendship casts an interesting light on the Prince, no? - pissed at me, I sent her an apology. I hope it sticks.

        Regarding the advice given in your last letter, I've realized that in the case of Prince Audran, you're right. Curiousity not only killed the cat, but dismemebered it, burned it and scattered its ashes, too. I can't gain anything by curiousity about the Elders, and if I can't squelch it, it would be far better if I exercised it on Regent Merrette.

        I'm hoping to suck up to the local lupine via some work I'm doing on a dig on the north side of Mount Diablo - a recently discovered native settlement - and it's giving my thesis a shot in the arm, too. I know, getting a PhD seems kind of pointless, now, but since I started it, I may as well finish - someday!

        I've managed to save up a decent bundle of money and I'm hoping to find my own place fairly soon. The chantry is as safe as Fort Knox and a damn sight more comfortable, but with so many Tremere around, I'm feeling crowded. A nice little place that I can retreat too and entertain guests without running them past the door guard would be nice. Don't worry boss, I'm not planning to hang out with a forbidden crowd, I just don't like having other people prod at my dinner.

        And I finally got my membership at the local golf club approved, but I'm so out of practice, I'm too ashamed to go!

        One of these days, you have to come down for a visit, if the clan will let you - or I'll see if I can get a weekend off and come up there. I really miss you, some nights.

Rebecca.

6/30/99

Dear boss,
        I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I'm in trouble already. Not serious life-on-the-line trouble, but I seem to have a sign over my head saying "Fresh meat" so a few sharks have cruised by to check me out. Look up Jericho Nunez in the clan files, and I think you'll get an idea of what I mean. He's a charming, good looking guy with Trouble written all over him. Anyone who tries to hustle a woman into going out with him has to be trouble. So, of course, he threw a hook and I swallowed it. He baited it with a very interesting - and mysterious - native fetish, and let my curiosity do the rest...
        However, I am keeping Merette informed of what's going on. He's pulling a sour face at my involvement, but I think he's curious, too. If Merette wants me to steer clear of Nunez, then all he has to do is tell me to leave him alone, and I will.

        Things are pleasantly quiet, otherwise. Merette felt the need to give me a lecture on the "Perils of Frivolousity" the other night, just because I made a flippant remark about The Beast. I really should watch my words, better, but watching one's tongue makes one look ridiculous. Still, Merette had a point when he warned me that there are a lot more dangers on the ground than I'm used to. I'm having to dredge up everything you told me in the early days in order to get by.
        Although I bet you wouldn't approve of the fact that I left two attackers alive the other night. Two goons came after me and Jericho while we were in a restaurant - see what I mean about trouble? - and my options were limited. I don't like killing humans, even when they're goons of someone who means me serious harm, but I had to get out of there fast. So I settled for blowing out their kneecaps so they couldn't pursue me, and following Jericho out of a plate glass window.
        When you Embraced me, you didn't warn me about the action-movie turn my life was going to take! Not that I'm complaining. After three months of nothing but studying and stilted conversation in that dratted court, a random attack and firefight was a bit of relief.

        And now I know my butt-kissing of the elders was a hit. Merette wants me to gently instruct one of the new chantry members in the art of upsucking - it seems his technique is a bit obvious and Merette's getting sick of finding the neonate's face on his ass whenever he sits down.
        So what if 'accomplished sycophancy' wasn't a skill either of us expected me to acquire? Given the concentration of touchy elders and ancilla in this area, it's a valuable thing to know. Wasn't it you who has told me many a dreary tale of the importance of keeping the higher-ups happy while getting on with your own business? Yeh, I thought so...

Missing you,

Rebecca.

7/26/99

Dear Boss,

        Was it just two months ago that I complained about being bored? Your warning of being careful what I wished for came through in spades.
        Since my last letter, I'm now tangled with lupines, Asian vampires (called Cathayans, and bad news all over) and some snake-worshiping cult that is not related to the Settites, but I'm sure they'll be joining in sooner or later.
        And to top it all off, some idiot sent a pack of assassins after the Prince during court. You would think that, if a person wanted to murder his opponent, he'd try to get the guy alone - or at least not entirely surrounded by his supporters. I admit, I rather hoped it would thin the Toreador ranks - who now hold all court positions - but there was no such luck. I know I should stay out of politics, but it bloody irks me to hear courtiers snipe about the 'proliferation of Tremere' when we're about as threatening as the damned chess club. It seems that this court is making the mistake of assuming the Toreador are harmless - even when they're in control. I think time will prove them wrong soon enough.
        Given the courtiers worry of our clan's 'abundance', all the courtiers are only too eager to talk to us now - but it's only because they're trying to figure out where to stick the knife. Even the Harpy - a Toreador so fastidious you could cut paper with the creases in his pants - was trying to ingratiate himself with me the other night. The poor sod didn't know what he was letting himself in for, though, and now he's promised to let me teach him how to golf. One way or another, I will get a decent golf partner!
        By the way, I need your advice on security procedures. I've been caught with my pants down thrice now and that's enough. Getting my head caved in by a would-be kidnapper is a hell of an incentive to learn better protocols.
        I've not been hearing anything from the Seattle Chantry, lately. I think Merrette is probably sitting on any news from them, to stop me from looking backwards too much. I understand the reasons - if that's the case - but I would like to know what happened with that little dust-up that we both know was brewing. Do you know anything about it?
        What's this about a new course of study you mentioned? I can remember half a dozen things you said you were going to get to 'one of these days', but never did. Can I at least hope that you've continued to study the Toppenish - to spare yourself being assigned another assistant, if naught else?
        I'm afraid I haven't been able to find much on that subject you asked me about in your last letter. It seems that all the books on demonology are kept on reserve and I haven't got the strongest reasons to be checking them out. Give me a couple more days to devise a story, and then I can take a look. I wouldn't really worry, but if I don't give Lily a more robust reason than "Oh, just curious", she may mention it to Merrett, and you mentioned you wanted me to be discreet. It's a shame our little place doesn't have much in the way of resources outside of it's speciality, but I was surprised to hear Seattle didn't have any help for you either.
        Well, I can't sit here writing all night, I've been press ganged into a number of tasks for our dear Prince, and I have to put in my pound of flesh for the night.
        If things ever quiet down, I'll see if I can get permission to take a weekend off and come visit. Especially if I manage to dig up something for you.

Rebecca.

10/25/99

Dear Boss,

     The Tremere couriers have the worst sense of timing... It's not that I'm not glad to hear from you, but your letter arrived at the worst time.
     The last few days have been a bit rough. An egomaniacal Mage - the self-styled Dr. Chaos - managed to round up the neonates (myself included, dammit) and held us hostage until an item that had been taken from him was returned. The details aren't relevant, but his threat to destroy everyone was valid (take a look at the copy of the Oakland Magus Report I sent you a couple of months ago) and it took some serious scrambling to placate him.
     Of course, no-one was happy to hear that the Ventrue had been sitting on the device for nearly six months, while this Dr. Chaos raised merry hell in the area with his demands. He was far more of a threat to Masquerade than the greenest neonate in court. He's dead now, and some of the culpable Ventrue might not be too far behind him - I can hope.
     The clan didn't cover itself with glory. In fact, it's my opinion that we came out of it looking like fools. There was nothing we could to to combat Chaos' magicks and, somehow, one of our own clan members went missing during the fray.
     As you might imagine, Merette is on the warpath.
     And then your letter showed up, and what a cheerful little missive it was, too.
     Dammit, boss, I'm moving as fast as I can on those matters you want researched but the materials you want are restricted. Down here, that means more than being kept in a locked case... I have to wait until the librarian is feeling frazzled and is willing to let me relieve her for a few hours. Once I've circumvented any alarms on the shelves - physical, magical and bureaucratic - then I can start opening books and taking notes for you.
     Merrete's already noticed, and I think it's only because he's got far more important things to worry about that he's even listened to my excuse of curiosity. Curiosity about nature sprites is one things - I'm studying Spirit Magic with him, off and on - but curiosity about demons is entirely other. If he seriously pushes me, he's going to learn the truth.
     And why do you need me do all this? Why can't you do an inter-chantry requisition and get it legitimately? And don't tell me it's simply 'intellectual curiosity, that's not going to hold any more water with me than it will with Merette. If you were just passing curious about demonic pacts and practices, you wouldn't be pushing me to dig up a copy of Maleficus Malfarium or those half-dozen other epics of Bad Advice...
     Wait, scratch that. I don't want to know why you're on this kick. It's probably best if I don't know. But damn it, I worry about you, and I can't help wondering what you're hoping to gain from this research.
     The least you can do is help me cook up a better story for Merrete, rather than bitching at me about my apparent lack of progress. If Merrete decides I'm dabbling in things Kindred Are Not Meant To Know, he'll lock those materials up in his private chambers, and there's no way I would be able to get hold of them after that - and don't you even dare suggest how I could. The last thing I need is a slew of ethics charges levelled against me...
     I'm sorry, I'm taking my anger at the local mess out on you, I shouldn't do that.
     I'll keep working, but I don't think I'm going to be able to make it my highest priority until we find out what's happened to the missing chantry mate...
    
Look after yourself, you coldhearted bastard.

Rebecca.

1/23/00

Dear Boss,

     That saying about Dead Men's Boots is being played out with alarming speed down here in Alameda. I was assigned to this chantry in May of last year and was barely one step up from the bottom of the totem pole. Now I'm the clan whip and second-in-command! Not bad progress for eight months - although it's meant bad news for our clan as our numbers are half what they were when I joined.
     Amongst other advantages, I'm now the keeper of the chantry library, so I no longer have any problems with access to research materials. My latest batch of notes will be sent via the usual route and should be substantial enough to keep you happy for a while.
     I wish I could say that pure research has been tying up my time, but that's not the case. This area is a cauldron of supernatural activity - which makes me wonder what Sacramento is thinking by reassigning my chantrymates all over the landscape. The current count includes demons, werewolves, Asian vampires (known as Cathayans), mages, hunters, a mystical barrier that none of us can name, let alone breach and let's not forget the dragon in San Francisco. And that's just what I've heard about. No doubt there's plenty more I haven't heard of.
     And there's four, count us, four Tremere available to deal with all this. Naturally, the court is expecting us to have solutions to every magickal problem up our sleeve and get highly pissy with us when we explain that lasting solutions take time to accomplish. And do they remember us when it's all done? Like hell they do. Saving the world on a regular basis is apparently part of my job description now.
     It's having an affect on me, Boss. You know me, I'm a follower - a superior gives orders, I take 'em. I have a purpose and direction, and I'm happy. But lately I've been bitten by the worm of ambition. Oh, all vampires have some ambition, of course but I've always been happy as the second banana - until now. I blame the rapid promotion through the ranks - at this rate, I'll either be chantry leader or dead by the first anniversary of my arrival. I won an increase in my clan status for something I considered a blatant failure, so god only knows what's going to happen when I actually pull off something impressive - not that that's an easy task.
     Of course, I don't want to displace Merette, but I can't help but wonder why he's in this relatively podunk territory (so sayeth the Crown Princess of Podunk Chantries). Sure, there's the demons, dragons, et cetera, now, but they weren't here - or weren't detected, I should say - as of a year ago, and assigning someone of Merrette's stature to this territory reeks of overkill. I suppose he'll want to stay now that there's the chance of glory to be had.
     So, if you're in a gambling mood, you had better put your money down on your favorite protégé being dust by May. Especially given the fact that there were at least two hunters (now deceased) infiltrating the court last night... And guess who gave one of them far too much information? If the elders get wind of that, I might not have a chance to enjoy my new status - although the bastard had the aura and manners of a vampire...

     Sorry for the depressive bitchery, but current events haven't given me much to be cheerful about - just greedy. I wonder if ambition is the opposite of contentment? I really enjoyed our situation in Yakima - just the two of us doing our work and dealing with the occasional life-threatening crisis. I didn't want to leave the station, nor be promoted above you. Not to embarass you, but those years really were the best of my life, so far. Now I'm here in a full-blown court and I immediately start clawing for prestige and worrying about potential competitors.
     I'm just growing up, aren't I? I'm sure the other neonates are riddled with ambition and paranoia as soon as they are Embraced, but I'm not going to resent my arrested development - if that's what I have. So I guess I had better quit looking back over my shoulder and get on with more important things. Wow, even when you're not with me, talking to you helps me see things clearly.
     On other related topics, the Ventrue clan might finally become a force to be reckoned with - and, more importantly, an ally worth our clan's time. A new Primogen, Murdoch, was sent from Chicago and word has it that he started laying down the law with a very firm hand the moment he walked into court. Naturally, the elders love him - as opposed to his neonate predecessor who was elected to the post - and most of the neonates are cautiously optimistic. What can I say, we like firm leadership. Murdoch strikes me as an intelligent man and, if he can keep control of his new charges, I think the Tremere will be working with him in the future. The burgeoning Toreador presence has to be countered somehow.

     Duty calls, as usual. I might be able to get some time to myself in the middle of February, I don't suppose you could haul yourself away from the outpost and meet me in Seattle?

Take care,
        Rebecca.

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