Malkav recalls the early nights of the First City and how the curse of Caine fell upon the 13.
My father was a kennel master…
I was born humble and plain of face, my sister, Arikel, my twin – was fair as the dawn. We shared a womb but little else. We were the first of our brethren to be given the dark gift of eternal life – plucked up by the the king of Ubar – for our golden heads and the talents born to us. I was torn from my mother with a caul – a portent of spiritual gifts, my sister could boast no such curiosity, save for her milk-white skin, fair hair, and the amber hue of her eyes. She was as fickle and elemental a mistress as the sea, a creature of terrible vanity and an insatiable appetite to love and be loved.
We were the first…
And then they came…
Eleven others, only eight short years from the eldest to the youngest. The fruit of Zillah’s mercy – Irad’s ceaselessly desire to subjugate his equals – and Enoch’s obsessive collection of every curiosity that came under his careful eye. The Dark Father had warned them, railing – deep in his cups about the evil and damned nature of our cursed race. He commanded no more than we thirteen should be given to the Blood and in that same breath would coo over each new childe presented to him by my pretty sister or by Brujah, the only creature that could soothe him in his black rages – a man of silence and dispassion that soaked up the mire of all emotion he encountered. The One Above had cursed him to an unending life of loneliness for his arrogance, he would never sire true born children, nor see the world blossom from his seed as Seth had been so blessed. So we – born of his blood if not of his body – were his familia – his children constructed but naught of blood and hunger – whom he chastised and beloved as the turn of the moon suited him.
It was the Feast of the New Moon and we were but a decade into the blush of immortality and our dark father did not sit upon his dais with his wife and sons but removed himself from us for a year and a day, troubled by some slight than none could guess. In those days, and I still marvel to remember it, the sensations as vivid to me as the Beast does howl in my ears – we were not as we are now – not as we became…but capable of the pleasures of mortality: food, drink, love making… though we still bore the hunger of our father’s curse, the fear of the hated sun and the death it wrought – the mad clawing of the beast – we were not dead – but diseased as he would say when he had grown displeased with us – with himself.
The Queen, Zillah, sat beside his empty throne as the criminals were brought forth along with the wine and the fruit – for there was nothing as sweet as the blood of a living man. Enoch and Irad watched as we took our places at the high table, not so grand as they but more beloved than those we brought into the blood.
There was Veddartha – my golden brother of the sword and spear, handsome of countenance and fierce of gaze whom my sister desired to make a plaything of. He was clever, careful, a man who summed the odds of one’s destruction behind a diamond hard smile.
There was Saulot, my beloved brother, who toiled through the night to keep us from our baser natures and doted upon the mortals as his own sons and daughters – for at that time he had never given of his blood to another.
There was Absimiliard – the most beautiful youth I ever saw – even to this night – a face that women would cast themselves at his feet for – a face that men despised for leading their daughters to ruin. A ruinous creature nigh as vain as my sister.
There was Lucien – I longed for him but so like Veddartha I was beneath his notice. He was a man of ruddy skin, ebony eyes and a short beard. He had the smile of a demon, wicked and tempting and could move high and low to act for his desires with naught but a veiled promise and a shadowed influence among us all.
There was Ashur – his honey colored flesh had paled to the color of moonstone and he worried himself with the corpses of mortals – so frail and fleeting. He knew of the One Above, though the Dark Father would not speak of Him and sought his own understanding of that great eventuality that now eluded him – death.
There was Ennoia – dark and beastial – a huntress who slinked between the pillars of the city and in the lush wilderness beyond it’s walls – all were prey in her eyes – all were hares to be chased into the waiting snare of her jaws. Of all none had refined the animal within to such deadly precision.
There was Tzimisce – that was not his name then – it is buried somewhere in the ether of my brain – replaced by not a sound but a sensation – a muscle drawn too taught – the tingle of fingers through one’s hair – the wet heat of seed against a thigh – he was not a monster then – but a man – bearded, thick oiled coils of hair – a perfumed elite – so ordinary to behold – so frightening to feel.
There was Sutekh – a serpentine man of crimson hair – a snake bathing in the heat of his own grandiloquence. He kept himself aloof and though he knew better, took the words of the Dark Father to heart and reveled in his damnation – setting himself up as a dark god for his thralls to worship – since none of his brethren had the patience to humor his delusion.
There was Zapathasura – a tricky man, to be sure. He had the look of a vagabond, a Philistine thief of the lowest order – all sharp angles twisted into a vulpine mouth and yet when he spoke it was a siege engine of hammering wit. He would sculpt you a stele of words and then slip his fingers in your pocket while you marveled at them.
There was Haqim – a man of great silence – both in his step and by the inclination of his tongue. He spoke the language of the sword and arrow – one word kept retribution close at hand, the other could see it sail across the world. He had a love of gold and everything that glittered under the earth – things to be earned by the blade or by a careful eye and a light step.
We did not tell my sister of our deception right away. Indeed it would have been foolish to bring Veddartha before her again as he was in such a state of black rage. Absimiliard swallowed whatever ire he held for our forbearers and was the first to make pledge his sword – but I smelled a malodorous fear that worried at his heart. We could not simply confront the wife and sons of the Dark Father, they would lay us low before our steel reflected our terror. We would have forge ourselves – each of us – into a spearpoint of strength and even then we could not be sure of victory.
We agreed to hold our tongues – but as the year passed, Veddartha set in motion the gears on the great machine of our victory. There was a cabal of silent dissidents among us: Ashur, my sister, Absimiliard, Ennoia, all slowly diverting power from our Elders. We set the mortals to vital civic works, the seed of the great tree of true civilization and they praised us for it. But the rest of our brethren, remained outside our Camarilla of subterfuge.
I did not know why, other than perhaps that I wished to save him before even myself, that I pleaded with my sister to take this matter to Lucien. I knew Veddartha would never consent to ask for his aid, for that was at the heart of our plight – there were too few of us. I begged her to reason with Veddartha, for only she could have persuaded him of anything, and to make a tentative peace with Absimiliard for the sake of Lucien.
My father was a kennel master…
And we were naught but dogs.
My father was a leper….
My father was a beggar….
My father was the barbaric apothecary, the thief in the shadow, the monk, the knight on the field, the scholar scribing, the widow weaving, the Harpy…
My father was Caine.
Such was the power he commanded, to assume the face of any he desired, such secret things he learned in the Land of Nod…such terrible things he saw when those who committed evil did not know their Dread Lord was watching. He would wear the face of a man you knew to be dead a life age ago and reforge your memory to suit his deception. All the long years of his absence, all the those times we revelled in joy that we were free from his watchful eye…a celebration of idiocy – he was always watching – judging us as we judged others.
The hubris of our kind is a disease that attacks the perspective and shrivels it to the understanding of a babe at the breast. Our childer have never known the rage and despair that we saw that night. Our childer have never been the object of such calamitous vengeance. He should have killed us, we would have died then and perhaps the world would not be colored by so much red.
I record this for you, father, not as Luthienne De’Loncre, not as Typhoid Mary, not as Jane Pennington, not as Lambiel, nor the Eater nor the Plague-Bride….
Not as any one of them, those who have devoured me and been devoured in turn…but as I was before you cursed me to madness…
And I have scattered traces of this story to be misinterpreted and falsified among your children for millennia. They will turn themselves round and round to understand it, to find our graves, to find THEIRS, and even yours…but they shall never know the truth. I have seen to that.
They say you are dead, or that you never existed at all. They construct the cleverest devices to explain you away – philosophy, their new deity of science, anthropology, psychology – the fruits of a meager harvest of their collective mortal minds – the arrogance of their futile pursuit to quantify the divine.
But I know better…we know better….even if we have forgotten. I think I still feel you in the death throb of an artery, in the distant roll of thunder that sounds so like your feet on sandstone, the evil grimace of the wight, the salty flavor of old blood under my nails, and the circus of death and deceit that our children play at every night.
You are always watching us, while we are watching them.
Malkav scratched the last of the words and set the quill gently to the side. She watched the ink bleed into the paper and disappear, staring now at a large tome of empty parchment which she locked away in the Great Library of Hunedoara. She closed her eyes, the ghost of Luthienne rushing up to swallow her brain. She never knew what she wrote when the moon’s face was full – so carefully constructed was the Curse of Caine.
She said something to herself then as the thick syrup of her endless confusion coated her tongue. She only remembered a single phrase…
“My father was a kennel master…”
– VIDEOS –
The Kennel Master