Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Taste of Blood, Part 1

Hunting the Giovanni has never been difficult.

They concern themselves with only two things in life: money and necromantic power. The former is easier to find than the latter. The Giovanni, after all, are a family of decadent monsters. One need only stand in any market place in Italy and follow the flow of goods and money. Chances are, it will lead you to Giovanni or one associated to them.

They call Venice their home but they are present in every city, residing in ports and merchant houses. They do their best to inconspicous but the Giovanni are proud and their name carries a certain amount of prestige among the merchant class and politicians. Anyone who enters into an agreement with the Giovanni of their own free will can expect to come out with a profit. Those who do not can expect to be either floating dead in the nearest river...or worse, fettered to an object to exist as their servant for the rest of eternity.

The Giovanni trust no one but family. They may hire people of different races and nationality as servants and workers but they will always put one of their own in charge to handle their night to night affairs. They are either members of the clan or those of their mortal family who have been ghouled into servitude. This is both their strength and their weakness. One I am not hesitant to exploit.

Iakov's merchant connections helped me enter the city and deliver me straight into the Giovanni storehouses. It was dangerous but the right amount of coin allowed me to pass without so much as a glance from the dockmaster. After all, what was another cassa da imballaggio of smuggled goods in a city full of smuggled goods? It would have been suspicious if we hadn't paid him off.

I emerged from the container of spices a few candlemarks after sunset. No longer needing to breath helped. I could still hear some of the facchino grunting as they carried the other spedizione into the warehouse but they were some distance away.

The storehouse was large and wide. Goods from all over Italy were here, packed in crates, jars and other types of containers. One could get lost if they were not careful. But experience has told me that the best way to navigate a maze was from the rafters. So I climbed the crates and the wall until I reached the ceiling. There, I allowed the shadows to envelop me and the silence surround me.

Iakov was right; the Giovanni were planning something. Not too far ahead, the facchino were moving crates from the warehouse to a wagon while two men watched as their servants worked. One porter slipped and the crate crashed, spilling the contents inside. From here I could see the glint of blades from swords. One of the two men began shouting explitives at the porter who did his best to put the swords back in th box. That one was definitely Giovanni. He was dressed in expensive clothes and shouted in Italian for the men to hurry. But it was the stylized "G" on his chain of gold around his neck that gave him away.

His companion, on the other hand, looked French. His robes were simple and black yet I could see they were trimmed in gold. The lantern near them swung slightly, the light revealing markings sewn into the material. Intersting. Though I have not seen many in my time, those markings looked like runes. A Tremere? What would a Warlock be doing allied to a Necromancer?

On second thought, it's surprising that the Giovanni and the Tremere aren't better bedfellows. Both explore forbidden mysteries and delve into the arcane. Both acquired the status they have by taking it from the Antedeluvian founder. They are also tight-knit and insular. They would never approach you unless you had something they wanted. The question is, what?

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