As the sun creeps over the horizon in the east, Omar as-Sahab gathers his coterie together in their sunken hovel on the outskirts of Salzburg. The only light visible inside is a scattered few candles whose flames seem ready to be devoured at any moment by the forboding darkness around it. The sweet aromas of incense mixes with the foul stench of the Tzimisce workshop, resulting in a putrid essence frightening enough to insure no mortals will interrupt their meeting.
Omar, dressed in his finest black silks, seats his comrades around a long, wooden table and stands at the head of it. From his cloak, he produces a tattered scroll and unfurls it onto the table, revealing to the others a map of Europe. Several blood spatters stain the document, falling strangely enough exactly where the cities and capitals would be.
“In the name of Haqim, most wise and aged, we have much to do, Kindred.”
He looks around the table and locks eyes with Ostvel.
“Sir Ostvel, lord of Finstergrün,” Omar closes his eyes and bows his head slightly with inhuman precision. “As we speak, your army makes its way toward Innsbruck, trampling the fields and forests underfoot much the way our enemies will soon be trampled. However, the safety of your ward is paramount, lest our campaign be held hostage to petty blackmail…or mourning.”
Omar turns to Jozef, cocking his head to one side.
“Jozef de Veuster, servant of the mortal prophet,” he says, pausing a moment to let the heresy hang in the air.
The insult of Omar’s words were about as subtle as the effects of his blood-boiling dagger. Jozef’s calm demeanor flickered imperceptibly, his expression twice-hidden behind the ravages of leprosy and the blighted nature of his clan.
An instant of anger was quickly quelled as Jozef recalled the words of the disciple Matthew-
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
-and he was much comforted.
Omar continues, “Your fraternal order is under siege by the violent radicalism and blind zealotry of the Inquisition. We must reclaim St. Sebastien’s and return it to its mission of peace and mercy, or the fanatics in Rome will turn your superstitious flock into a stampeding herd no Cainite could hope to control.”
Jozef pushed the heresy aside for the moment, aware that there was precious little time to afford any thought to such wanton blasphemy. The Inquisition, the mysterious red salts, the remaining fragments of Foust’s damnable book; For every answer they sought, a dozen new questions arose around them. But seeking out answers was Jozef’s forte, and besides, as Balzac would say, the winter nights were long…
“What’s more,” Omar added, “Alamut has taken a special interest in your cult. Your colleagues are in contact with the Order of the Crescent Moon, who serve a similar aim to the Inquisition under the skies of Shatt al-Arab. They must be eradicated alongside the Roman terrorists to prevent any further collaboration which might taint our own herds with their foul human mysticism.”
“As I have served and fought along side you all, so I shall continue,” said Jozef, pulling his lips back in what no sane person could recognize as a smile. In the back of his mind he wondered if his mortal correspondents would be up to the challenge of the tasks ahead.
Omar’s eyes dart to Hanz, and an eerie, alien smile creeps across his lips.
“Hanz Freud, slayer of Garou and Roman terrorists…where might we be without your mastery of the forests and hinterlands, or the inescapable death grip of your predator’s talons? With the aid of your noble brothers in Clan Gangrel guarding our armies and supply routes, we, your loyal packmates, will ensure that the majestic swaths of land you wander remain forever in Cainite hands.”
As he turns to Victor, Omar’s smile disappears, and a cold, blank stare washes over the elder Kindred’s face.
“Victor Foust. Usurper.”
Victor returns his gaze, narrowing his eyes and raising his chin just slightly. “Lord Omar,” he says cautiously.
In an almost imperceptible motion, Omar leans in, putting his hands forward and resting his fingertips on the table. “The knowledge contained in your book will be our greatest adversary. The kine now have our most basic secrets in their posession, and they will use it to wipe our existence from this earth. It must be recovered, with or without the help of your forsaken bloodline.”
Victor rubs his chin a moment, eyes still locked with Omar’s. “Sondheim will be consumed, and the family will no longer be able to ignore my power.” He answers Omar’s gesture with his own slight bow of the head.
“My blood magic will always be a part of this coterie, as well as the resources of my knowledge,” Victor says as he looks around at the other Kindred. “We must do what must be done to put an end to all of this, whether it be by blade…or by fang.” A small outline stretches across his face as he ponders on his idea yet again.
The coterie glances around nervously at this comment, but the cruel smile returns to Omar’s face. “Very good, Foust.”
Omar straightens and looks at the entire group seated before him. “As I said, we have a long road ahead of us. With such an uncertain future, I would suggest that our first destination be the court of the old Prince. Perhaps the revelations of the mirror we found there might tell us something about the fate of our mission.”