VENTRUE

exhaustion runs soul deep through veins that ran dry ages ago. and questions loom large through
the nightmare streets that carry the city's lifeblood, clogged by the human debris that
congregates at the edges of the tributaries

I remember wandering in the darkness I remember feeling the power flow smooth cold in its
warmth keeping the silent wolves at bay keeping me alone keeping me safe. It was a
dangerous game but to me it was heaven. When they ask me how long I have been here, I
say, "forever," but I know very well that that is not true – it just seems that it is hanging here
between earth and heaven.


I am Morena Couriene Sangre. I was once Morena Couriene Boulanger, but I changed all that.
Or someone changed it for me. I was born into a busy world, a younger world in the
process of rediscovering itself, its abilities and its boundaries. In those days everything was
young. Everything was exciting, and everything everywhere was full of possibility. Even
then there was a middle class and my family was part of it – one of the evil "bugeoisie" so
despised by the Marxists who have been writing the history texts for the past few decades.
Back then I ran a salon – children these days, the ones I am perpetually grouped with because
of my apparent age, think that their chat rooms and coffee shops are so new and remarkable.
Shite. We did it for years, and did it better than this jaded society can imagine. Like the
parents of this wild "Generation X" my parents saw the salon as a phase, much like the way
they saw the rising tide of rebellion – a fashion of the moment that would fade with the new
day.

That "fashion" took their lives; they were swept away in the tide of revolution. It is
impossible to explain to the people of this time, or indeed to those Kindred new to the game
what those times were like. They are too jaded, the word "passion" has no meaning for them.
I remember when sanity had returned, in the 1810’s talking to a Nosferatu who told me that
if you put a frog in a pot of hot water, he will jump right out, but if you put him in cold water
and heat it gradually he will stay and be boiled alive. That is the best way I can explain what
the world now calls the French Revolution. It was a match become a bonfire, become a
forest fire that became our pyre. We believed we could change the world – redefine it by
changing the way men thought, free our hands and in so doing free the minds of a nation.
The hands were freed, but the minds were as firmly bound as ever and they turned upon those
who had loosed their hands and cut them down.

My family died in 1792. Guillotined. I escaped, moving in on Grub Street living with Jean
Louis Richaud, a poet who had frequented my salon. We were on the way to the
Boulevard San Michel on the way to buy apples when the guard arrested him on a general
warrant from the committee for writing treasonous pamphlets. I was with him, so I was taken
too. The temple prison is not something to be described; it is something to be forgotten.

I did not sleep. I did not eat. I watched. And waited, but I was forgotten – a blessing and a curse.

When he came I thought he was another nightmare, another vision of cruelty in a place
where mercy was a word whose definition had been lost somewhere in the screams and the
dark turnings of the hallways. He looked like many of the nightmares crawling around,
serving the masters who had broken body, will and mind alike in the interrogation rooms. He
was filthy. What hair he had clung to his skull in rotting clumps and his face was lined with
the pen of horror. But he was kind. He brought me scraps of food; he made me talk (and I
believe saved me from madness); he told me of the world beyond my cell. He kept me alive
until the day she came.

She was one of the new nobility, born of money and power, not of title. Her clothes spoke
of taste, and the perfume drifting from her auburn curls seemed an anomaly in that place.
She was a business woman, seeking extra labourers for her work houses. She pointed at me
with her riding crop as I huddled in the back of the cell. They told me to stand, but my legs
would not obey, so they slashed open my leg with a knife and I stood up. I remember
nothing; I must have given in to the warm hands of unconsciousness.

When I came to, the world was soft and white and smelled of roses and lilacs. She was
standing at the side of the huge canopy bed, her hair catching the candle glow; the twisted
nightmare of the dungeon stood beside her. I wavered in and out of consciousness for several
days, and in snatches I overheard, and I learned. Her name was Colleen, the creature I knew
seemed to have a given name, Corin, but she called him more often by his title – Nosferatu.

She nurtured me, eased me back into life, reminded me that I was human, not animal, and
she taught me how to run a life and a business in the new industrial age. And she taught me
that my time in the Temple was not a waste – I had seen the underside of humanity and I now
knew how to exploit it. It was almost a year before she told me to pack – told me that we
were going to her homeland, to Eire.

Eire was not peaceful in those days. Anger against the British was more plentiful than the peat that heated the homes of the villages. My faith was a matter of privacy, but the pointless deaths in the name of the church were more than I could bear.

And the things they did to the women and the little children...

The day they carried me home with a ten inch gash down my leg, she told me we were moving. I said nothing. What could I have said? She had given me everything and I felt that I had brought her naught but trouble.

She told me we were going home. I did not know what she meant, and in retrospect, I am more than glad . The trip was not a long one in physical miles, but mentally, we might have been going to the ends of the earth. Perhaps it did not seem so then, but now as I look over my shoulder across the centuries...

The village was nestled between the gentle swelling of two of two hills like a jewel between a noblewoman’s breasts. There was a small chapel there, and a priest so wizened as to be barely recognisable as human. But the soul of the town did not lie there.

We stayed and I learned to love the easy-going villagers with their thick brogue and dark beer. I met the ones she called her family. And it was less than a week when we had dinner to the house of the dark-haired, blue eyed man she called her prince.

She woke me late in the night and walked me to a ring of standing stones that ringed the summit one of the hills like a worn and toothless crown. She led me to the alter in the centre of the circle and drew me down beside her on the cold stone. She stroked my hair like the mother I had lost almost a decade before and told me that she wanted to make me her daughter. And that night they did. I will never forget the feel of the cold stone, the ancient blood grooves hungry to serve their purpose, the pain that rolled like a curtain of silken knives across my consciousness. And then his face. Where I had expected hers. His blood burning and my voice sobbing.

Her family became mine. They taught me the ways of their people and the ways of ours. I learned the mysteries of the Celtic Bards preserved in the blood of the Kindred, and I learned the ways of my new name – Kindred, Clan Ventrue, Morena Couriene Boulanger of the Eighth generation.

But even there, the hand of the British began to reach. The bite of the Penal Laws touched the poor with little regard for their religion. And hunger is a great leveller. Kindred laugh arrogantly and call mortals beasts – cattle – and yet we are all alike when we starve – we strike out in blind frenzy.

The history books date the rebellion in 1798 with the rising of Wolfe Tone. Fools. History cannot be placed the neat box called time that we stole from the tattered purse of Rome. There were uprisings; there were battles. Their pain slashed at me every time one caught my eye; I ached with the agony of Eireland. I cried out to my elders, asked to be allowed to take care of the suffering children, but I was told not to pay attention to the squabbles of the Kine. And I tried to overlook the pain and I remained and learned.

It was a Thursday, perhaps a bit past sunset. I was walking past the town square when I saw a Kindred in the uniform of a British soldier beating a wee urchin of perhaps five or six. The child was past tears, and lay unresisting, unable to do more than whimper with each kick. I felt a fierce surge. This was not a squabble among Kine. This was a matter of Kindred honour. I approached the man and identified myself, with all proper etiquette and asked that the child be given to my care. He identified himself as Tremere, of the tenth generation, and told me to fuck off, the child was refusing to tell the whereabouts of his father. Shocked by such rudeness, I turned to go, only to discover that he was not alone. I recall little thereafter. They tell me that I was placed in the state our kind call torpor, but I have little knowledge of the passing of time save memory of less than peaceful dreams.