The letter arrived, your Sire ‘requesting’ your presence at a secret meeting at the Buda Castle to listen to a proposal from an ally.
Of course your Sire, Kara had accepted this proposal on your behalf. Your attendance, a mere formality.
Accompanied by your loyal servant, János, you travelled through the streets of Buda towards the castle, sitting proudly atop the eponymous Castle Hill. Crossing through the bustling market-place, you spot a slave auction that goes from routine to comical in the blink of an eye; one of the female slaves kicking the legs out from underneath the auctioneer and dashes away as fast as she can to the sound of the crowd’s mocking laughter.
Spying a noble, clearly out of place in the more common rabble that litters the market, you made a mental note and saunters across through the crowd, intending
to cut-off the fleeing slave.
Calm, and collected proved to be a fortuitous pursuit choice, easily outpacing the panicked girl, you cornered her, intrigued by her surprisingly well made, expensive looking clothes. Whilst the slaver guards continued their futile search for the girl, you agreed to offer her sanctuary as she had requested, interested in learning more about the girl and her unusual past.
Before the girl could begin to explain what events brought her from her home, all the way to Buda-Pest; a figure stepped out of the shadows and bowed politely to you.
“Good evening mistress. I see you manage to bring down the filly, well before the dolts the auctioneer hired to protect his wares, have even come close to finding her”.
“I have no intention of disturbing you on such a pleasant night, perhaps we can come to… an accord concerning this recalcitrant young woman. I have coin a-plenty, and am willing to make a generous offer for such a wilful slave”.
Whilst the pompous noble continued to prattle on, you allowed your senses to transcend the mortal realm and gaze upon the noble’s true form – his very soul.
Sensing the Mark of Caine upon him, as well as anger, ennui and trepidation, she smiled as politely as she could before speaking;
“Greeting to you, sir. I regret to inform you that the young woman isn’t for sale. She finds herself under my protection, and I intend to see she remains that way”.
Seemingly undeterred, the nobleman continued to attempt to bargain with you, going so far as to offer you great sums of money to relinquish your claim upon the slave.
Unwilling to continue debating with the unperturbed nobleman, you continued your way towards Castle Hill and the meeting with your sire.
At last, the nobleman showed his true colours. Gone was the amenable façade, replaced by the snarling, bestial countenance that his soul revealed him to be;
“You would do well to relinquish the girl to me. I know what you are, sister of the night, and know this. I serve a power greater than you could comprehend. Should the Prince hear of this affront to his most trusted servant, the repercussions would be terrible to behold”.
More amused than intimidated, you were well aware of the bluff that the irascible nobleman was attempting, your own Sire was close to the Prince – despite the tensions between Ventrue and Tzimisce – and she certainly did not recognise this blustering toady. With one last dismissive word, you left the nobleman growling in anger as you progressed up the steep, looping road that terminated at the Buda Castle.
With only a short distance remaining, you felt the hairs on the back of your neck begin to prickle in the familiar sensation of being watched by an unknown, and hidden observer.
Employing the powers of your Auspex second-sight once more, you broke through the Obfuscate being employed by the nobleman who had been quietly trailing the trio.
“Come now, your deception has failed, is there any need for you to continue embarrassing yourself. I have no intention of handing over the girl, and my Sire – who does hold the Prince’s confidence – would be displeased, pointedly so, were you to continue hounding us”.
At that, a slow, scraping sound rang out through the quiet street as János drew his sword slowly from its sheathe, looking in the direction that you smirked in.
With a cry of impotent rage, the nobleman turned and fled into the night, strangely the young slave girl seemed wholly unperturbed at the events – even the sudden appearance of the nobleman.
With no further distractions, the remaining journey to the castle proved to be uneventful.
Once inside the castle grounds, you were approached by a cloaked man, carrying a lantern in hand. Bowing respectfully, the man introduced himself as Hadel, “A servant to your patron to-be”.
Leaving behind you retainer, János, and the slave-girl, you were lead to a small postern gate built into the castle’s foundations, almost invisible amidst the stonework.
Lead through a labyrinthine network of tunnels and stairs, labyrinthine you were thoroughly impressed with the intricate, maze-like defences.
Eventually, and with little ceremony, you and your escort reach a small, iron-bound door. Rapping on it twice, Hadel opened the door and stood aside, his head bowed slightly to the you, the young Tzimisce neonate.
Having stepped the small room, you discovered your sire and an unknown Kindred already present.
With a deep, respectful bow, you introduced yourself in the proper fashion – naming yourself, your Sire and your Grand-Sire.
The unknown Kindred, your supposed patron, introduced himself as; Mircea Dzardescu, the Lord Protector of Dzardrev Castle.
In the corner of the room, a stone sarcophagus, at Mircea’s unspoken command three young serving girls stand up from within, as if drawn by marionette strings.
At this, you were invited to dine, allowing Mircea unveils his reasoning for requesting your presence.
Having been well trained by your Sire, you were confident that this was some form of test, or trial. As politely as possible, you sampled the vintage on offer, eliciting a satisfied smile from your Sire, Mircea – and the meal.
“I have summoned you here, young neonate, to offer you a great opportunity. Your Sire and I have long been friend and trusted allies, she is convinced that you would be perfect for this task. Abutting my demesne, upon the eastern borders of great Hungary, in the region known as Transylvania sits a strategic mountain pass. This gateway from the east is known as Tihuta Pass I would task you with building a fortification there, to tax caravans and to guard access to the great kingdom of Hungary. I am willing to advance you certain sums of money to cover the cost of hiring guards and skilled workmen, but my ally assures me that you have enough resourcefulness to complete the work yourselves. Since you will be taking charge of the lands and nearby villages, you may tax the peasantry and use their labour in your building as well. Luckily, the foundation is already there, as an old wooden tower once stood on the spot. You should be able to utilize the stone foundation and build upward from there. I shall expect you to have the ground floor, at least, completed by winter".
Agreed to the proposition – a chance to increase your standing, as well as personal wealth and power – you listened to the remainder of the proposition;
“There is one other small favour you can do for me, a matter of little import to anyone but me; it has been rumoured that among the ruins of the tower, there might be some old writings — documents or tablets in forgotten languages. Should you locate them, I desire them for my collection. Frivolous, I know, but such pastimes often alleviate the occasional tedium of our existence. Please advise me if you find these writings and I shall send an agent to collect them from you. Should you hear of other such writings and learn who has them, I would also offer my gratitude for that information as well.
Succeed in these tasks, and I and your sires shall be most pleased to offer you as candidates to rule several fiefdoms in Transylvania. Four of the seven cities known as the Siebenburgen currently lack princes. Young Cainites who prove their loyalty, intelligence and ability to rule shall find that we are not miserly in our rewards to you".
Suspicious of Mircea’s mention of the writing, you appeared outwardly agreeable, arranging to meet your Sire the following night to receive the Librum to hire the workman and to organise any final details; you took your leave, escorted back to the surface by the servant, Hadel.
As the light from his solitary lantern bobbed in front of you, you wondered what the true value of the ‘frivolous’ writings might be.