Character Intros we did for The Prince’s Will, which we participated in as players.
Over one hundred and fifty years ago, I was born – I cried and squealed and kicked my feet. I was helpless and tiny, but I was still covered in blood.
One of the more wearying questions Kindred ask me is where I came from, what I think about the changes in life and society since the times when I walked in the sunlight. The simple fact is that I remember little. Mortals can barely remember a decade ago, but my fellow monsters expect me to provide heartwarming stories of growing up in a time they know only from grainy photographs.
Blood. I still remember the blood, a time when life meant so much less than it does now. Factory workers cut to pieces, children with bloody fingers. I wonder now if my memories being so dark and sanguine prove I was always meant to be cursed like I am now. I fear that the answer is yes, but I also fear that, instead, my memories have been washed out, soaked in blood and left red and terrible.
Slave ships. I remember them, cries for mercy, men and women chained together to die like animals. I think we thought of them as such, but my perspective has changed so I can’t remember . I am as much animal as man now, and more monster than either. Trading people for crumpled up bits of paper and for gold. I remember that. A fortune.
One of the slavers was the one who Embraced me, said he was giving me a great gift… immortality. A permanent home on this rock, trapped away from the sun. But still, now the Sea called to me, I was a Red Duke and we sailed the high seas, taking slaves and other captives as we willed. It was profitable.
I suppose I was wealthy, and I would belabor a theme to point out that it was, literally, blood money. I must have thought it belonged to me; I fought to protect it, we all did, resisting Mr. Lincoln’s soldiers. I killed, many times. Some in self-defense, some… not. It was during the War that things began to change, I began to try to wake from the nightmare. Each death that I had inflicted, each life I had ended with murder or enslavement, had taken part of my soul with it.
It wasn’t that I felt regret, it was in fact a lack of regret that filled me with doubt. Could I possibly look at another man’s intestines, flick his blood and bile from my claws, and feel nothing? The monsters were horrors, but at that time I learned that the mortals and their causes could be worse. So, I turned back to the wilderness. I stayed in the form of an animal as long as I could; I fed on animals. Their blood was weak and bitter, but I knew my soul was intact.
Redemption is a selfish exercise and I, Vampire, am only able to turn my mind to it so much. I fear the Beast, it is true, but it is an abstract thing compared to the overwhelming need to survive. When the animal blood ran thin, when it no longer filled the dried, desiccated, dead mass I call a belly, I had to return to humanity.
New Orleans was a home for a while. I sailed again, for the first time in decades, trading in gold for a small, but sturdy wooden boat. I ferried people here and there. I made a living. I even had friends, of a sort – Antoinette, with her pale eye and obsession with the (human) dead. Mac, and his obsession with the living, and their care and feeding.
Antoinette has a duty that keeps her mind busy. Mac has his concerns with the herd. I watch them, and I feel that surely they have something I have lost. Though it would be fundamentally inaccurate to say that I feel a great affection for them, I do depend on them, and they give me something to think about other than blood-washed memories and a vague craving for rest. I fear Torpor. To scramble my mind further is something I would avoid if at all possible.
The flood drove us out – drowned the rats and the poor, washed out the dead and damned. The old neighborhood lost, vampires moving in to take advantage. I feared war, a resurgence of causes and damnation. I helped as I could, ferrying the living at night, Charon the Ferryman, but in reverse. Once Antoinette, Mac, and I stayed on the boat and just… kept sailing.
Charlotte. Another home. Roots to blood-washed memories. A different place now, a better place in most ways. They say their lives mean something now, and that they are free. Mac and Antoinette decorate the bar, they entertain people and draw crowds. I am up above, in the back, working on spreadsheets and accounting forms. The others have no particular instinct for such things, but my mind is still limber in some ways.
Below, a crowd of people, cheering. I try to think of them as more than food, for Mac, if nothing else.
Now, a Sheriff. Power. Of a sort. Danger, as well. A trap, maybe.
This time, I will not sail away. I will make my stand, I will keep us safe.
Is that enough to count as caring about something? Or is it just another cause, another reason to go to war?
I sit upstairs, and I wonder and think sanguine thoughts and walk through blood-colored memories.
Jessi starting coming into the bar a couple years ago. Her fake ID didn’t really fool me, I’m an old hand at that game, but it was pretty damn good. Mac would probably be mad if knew I was the one that let her in. But there she was, in her black skinny jeans, vintage Smiths t-shirt, stompy boots, and a belt that screamed “I am trying to be a badass”, trying not to show how eager she was to see her favorite local band that night, and I couldn’t help myself. And yes, that adorable purple pixie cut and cupid’s bow mouth painted to match didn’t hurt either. Don’t judge, as the kids like to say.
Anyways, a few more Saturdays of that game and it was pretty clear she wasn’t just another goth groupie girl. I kept an eye on her, bought her a couple drinks. She always came in alone. She would have been easy prey, but that seemed like a waste after just a few minutes of talking to her. This darlin’ had plans, with a capital “P”. Within a couple hours, she was slinging the questions at me. How did I find bands and DJs? Why Saturday nights? What was up with my Baron Samedi pin that I always seemed to be wearing? Did I need a personal assistant?
Ok, that one got me to thinking. Juggling my club duties, trying to make some contacts with the local kin, and finding enough voodun minded folk to have proper celebrations of the Baron was pretty time consuming, especially when you can only work nights. Sure, why not Sugar, you can be the Huckleberry Finn to my Tom Sawyer. But first we had to… get to know each other better.
She took it all in better than I thought. I think she had suspected a bit. This girl knows her Anne Rice if nothing else. Smart girl, that’s why she’s got a scholarship at UNC. Wants to be a music mogul when she grows up, wants to get into concert promotion, that kind of thing. I pay her a decent salary – I know that ain’t the norm, but it keeps her from having to contact her family back home for money. We got a good thing going.