Lakes of Pontchartrain

And I rode the roads ’til evening and I laid me down again
All strangers here, no friends to me ’til a dark girl towards me came
And I fell in love with a Creole girl from the Lakes of Pontchartrain

Any sensible route to this place called Veil takes me via New Orleans, which suited me just fine, as I had not looked in on my pied-à-terre there in some while. Most sensible routes also take me by the shores of Pontchartrain, and even if they hadn’t, I would have diverted to make sure they did. I can never resist the call of the lake. Sadly, these days, I don’t get to enjoy it by daylight – sunsets and sunrises were my favourites – but I have happy memories of days there before I entered this world of darkness, and I still enjoy walking the shore by night.

Unlike the man in the song, I don’t think I ever fell in love with a Creole girl. I’ve taken a few to my bed over the years, and fed on more than a few, but I can’t say I’ve ever fallen in love with one. Come to think of it, I haven’t fallen in love with anybody much, save for Renée, but that was over 200 years ago, when I was 14 and she was 17. She was also my cousin, so that wasn’t going to go anywhere, even if she had looked upon her bratty cousin with anything other than condescending amusement. After that, I never really had the time, nor, I must admit, the inclination. Perhaps I am not built for love, at least, not in that soppy romance sense. Certainly not since I became what I am. Mortals are too ephemeral and I generally do not seek the company of my own kind any more.

Having said that, my reasons for being here in my pied-à-terre, aside from breaking my journey, are precisely because I am seeking the company of my own kind, although, in this case, not for any romantic reasons. In truth, I am not entirely sure why I am seeking them out. The traditions say that I should be responsible for my childer, and I was, for a while. But, when the Civil War ended, I had a hankering for my home down here in the south, while they, not having any ties, did not wish to leave. I did not press the matter, as I considered them sufficiently “adult” to make their own way, and left them to it.

Perhaps I should have made more effort to stay in touch, but I was weary of war and conflict, weary even of senseless killing. I had also developed somewhat of a distaste for Jacobi, who seemed to revel in the Sabbat way of things a little too much for my liking. Looking back, I wonder if my motivations for embracing Abigail were perhaps touched with a desire to spite him by depriving of a kill. It is possible. I did not think overly much about it at the time, save that I swooped in like a guardian angel and offered her a chance of a new life, a choice between that and certain death, much as Maximilian had offered me. Jacobi was angry, but what could he do? I was his sire, and he was still beholden to me. It did not take long, however, for him to realise the advantages of having a playmate nearer his own age. Abigail, in her turn, took to her new life rather more easily than I might have imagined, and the two of them quickly formed a bond of something akin to friendship. They did not, so far as I knew, form a blood bond other than the Vinculum that we all three shared.

Either way, they seemed to work well together, so I was reasonably comfortable leaving them to it.  This may have been a mistake. From what I could learn from my Lasombra informant, they created some havoc for a while and ended up in torpor for many years. As I said before, what brought them to the south, I did not yet know. Perhaps I will find out when I get there and find them. Or find Abigail anyway, since it seems that Jacobi has done a vanishing act. From what he could tell me, that might possibly be a good thing for Abigail, though not necessarily good for kindred in general, should he go even more rogue than he had in the past. Nobody noticed much, back in the days of the war, because there was so much killing going on anyway, so what were a few extra bodies to anybody? These days, on the other hand, things are different. I may have found my place among the Sabbat for much of my unlife, but my roots were originally Camarilla, and I have enough sense to know that the Masquerade has its place. I am told that both sects are present in Veil. Which way I will go, I do not yet know. I have had little contact with either for many years and I am perhaps too much my own man to commit either way. I will see what I find when I get there.

 

 

 

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Born on the Bayou

Wish I was back on the bayou rollin’ with some Cajun Queen. Wishin’ I were a freight train, oh, just a-chooglin’ on down to New Orleans.

So runs part of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, Born on the Bayou. I know not why I like this song so much, for am far from being born on the Bayou. Having spent so much of my life, or perhaps I should say unlife, in these parts, I sometimes feel as though I had been. But no, I was not. I had 30 summers under my belt before I came from the family estates in Languedoc to take charge of our holdings here in Louisiana.

I cannot even claim to be reborn on the bayou. No, that new birth, that entry into this darker world, took place far to the north, in a field hospital in Pennsylvania. I had taken a full musket blast to the chest in a skirmish against the British and was not expected to last the night. All I knew for much of the night was agonising pain and cold from the blood loss. I was delirious from the pain, and so not overly surprised to suddenly see the face of Maximilian Reichard, an old friend of our family, looking down at me. I had not even known he was in the Americas, much less that the family had asked that he keep an eye on me. He offered me a chance – a cessation from the pain and the chance of a new life, a life without death. I took this as part of the delusion and agreed. The pain came then, worse than any I had borne, that took me into the blackness of death. And then, as all was about to fade, a burning bliss unlike any pleasure I had known before. Such was my entry into this new, darker life.

That said, I suppose in one way, I was born here, in so far as here is where I came into my own life. Freed from the strictures of my family, from Papa’s ever-present hand on my back and eyes over my shoulder, I at last came to be my own man. So, in that sense, yes, I can claim to be born on the bayou.

Why I should be reminiscing on these matters now, I do not know, save that the song came on the radio as I was contemplating how I might learn of the fate of my two older childer – Jacobi and Abigail. Thinking of them sent my thoughts back to my own embrace and to the area around Gettysburg, for it was there that I last had contact with my childer. That would, perhaps, be a natural place to start looking. How, I did not know, for I am no detective or investigator, so I resolved to seek help.

And help I found, through one of the few friends I have left among the kindred, Michel. It has been many years since I spent any regular time among the local Sabbat, more years again since I was anything remotely resembling a regular visitor to the Camarilla. I had precious few contacts left, still fewer any who owed me a favour. Michel was the only one who stayed in touch. When I spoke of my quest, he put me in touch with a Lasombra by the name of Guillaume. In all honesty, I do not much like the Lasombra at the best of times, and this Guillaume did little to help that. However, he was, according to Michel, one of the best. And so I put away my personal feelings, gave him what information I could on Abigail and Jacobi, gave him his 30 pieces of silver, and sent him on his way. I did not like trusting the man, but I trusted Michel and that sufficed to overcome my qualms.

His journey was not short, nor without additional expense, but eventually, it brought fruit. To my considerable surprise, my childer were not even very far away, in a small town by the name of Veil, just an hour east of New Orleans. How they came to be there, Guillaume could not say. He could tell me that they had both been put into torpor not long after I left them, and had only fairly recently returned to the fray, so to speak. He could also tell me that Jacobi had become a danger to himself and others of our kind, especially to Abigail, his sister in blood. I thanked him for his services, paid him a bonus and sent him away. Now, it was down to me, and it seemed an opportune time for me to reconnect, and perhaps intervene.

 

Tabula Rasa

I remember the first time I saw snow as a child. Our family estates were in Languedoc, so snow was not a common thing, but nevertheless, it happened occasionally. I remember that I had been fevered, which had disturbed my sleep, and I had woken early, before even the servants were about setting the fires and making breakfast. I went to my window and looked out on a silent, magical landscape.  The courtyard, the stables, the fields and woods beyond, were all draped in white. I dressed quickly, pulled on the boots Papa insisted I wore when I was outside and ran down to meet the snow. I let myself out into the courtyard, savouring the chill, the crunch beneath my feet, and the silence.  Here was a sea of unmarked white.  It would not remain so. The estate workers would soon be about their business, tending to the horses and to the fields, tracking through it, churning the shining crystals with grey and brown. But for now, it was all mine, pure and unsullied.

I feel much the same way now, looking at this empty sheet of paper, this blank canvas, this tabula rasa. A field of white, as yet unsullied by ink. But, sully it I must. I have heard writers speak of how the blank page is the most terrifying of things they have to face, and I can understand why. It is no small thing to start a journal or memoir, and yet I find myself compelled to begin one. For why, I do not know. I have spent so long alone with my thoughts, away from the company of my own kind, with naught but the affairs of business to occupy me and little to record beyond the minutiae of production and trading. And now, circumstances and boredom have compelled me to end this self-imposed exile and to seek out what little family I have left. Of my biological family, I have little left, for I left no sons of my own to carry on the Durand name, save the fictions necessary to conceal my longevity. It is my blood family I seek, to see how they fare out there in the world. And so, I must step out also, to find them, and make what reconciliations I may.

Such journey merits a record, I think, hence this journal. What eyes shall see it, beyond my own, I do not yet know. Very few, I suspect, for there will be things I record here that would be dangerous to me, to my childer, and to others like me. It is in our nature to conceal ourselves and our nature from ordinary men, lest they seek us out to destroy us. The very existence of this journal would be a threat to that concealment, should it fall into the wrong hands and yet, I shall set my story down.

It was the summer of the year 2017, that I set out to find my childer. Fruit, not of my loins, but of my veins. My most recent childe fares well enough in New York, but others I had not seen in many a year, not since the end of the Civil War. It was about time I found out how they fared…