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15TheDeath(s)ofBabaYaga

TheDeath(s)ofBabaYaga
[ART:ALLALONGTHETOPORBOTTOMMARGINSOFTHISSECTION,IDLIKETEXTASTHOUGH
SCRAWLEDOUTINCHARCOALDARKANDKINDOFMESSY.IDEALLYITWOULDCONTINUEALL
THROUGHTHESECTION,ENDINGONTHELASTPAGE.HERESTHETEXT:
Listenwelltothesewords,ChildrenofAbsimiliard.Youarethefirstamongtheunseen.Theshadowsofthe
mindpartandchangeforyou.Callontheseshadows.Callonthestrengthofthehunter.Callonthebeasts,
thegreatserpents.Whenthestormbreaks,thenthefirstof13falls,thenshallthetrueJyhadbegin.Thefirstto
dieshallbetheNosferatu.Icallthehunt!Isoundthecryforblood!Letthefirstbetheonewhofled,whoused
thelandandcalledontheOneBelowtoescape!Drinkdeepofherheartsblood,andcrushherbody.
[BELOWTEXTFOLLOWSINBECKETT'SDIARYSCRIPT]
TheCallevaArms,Silchester,BritishIsles
Ah,Russia.IfaflatoutweirderplaceinKindredhistoryexists,Icantthinkofit.Containedfordecadesbehind
aShadowCurtain(itsoundsbetterinRussian),MotherRussiawassuddenlyblownopentooutside
influenceswhenamythologicalfiguresupposedlydiedinaremotemountaincrevasse.OrinSt.Petersburg.Or
somewherecompletelydifferent.
ButImgettingaheadofmyself.WeallknowtheBolshevikstoppledtheTsarandkilledofftheroyalfamily,
exceptmaybeforAnastasia(putapininthat,wellcomebacktoit),intheearlypartofthe20thcentury.Thats
allmortalhistoryyouwanttoknowthat,Cesaretellsmethere'sanonlineencyclopediathat'squiteuseful.For
ourpurposes,though,anotherrevolutionwasgoingon,anditactuallystartedbeforethemortalone,fora
change.
FromwhatIvegathered,theKindredRevolution(whichdoesnthaveacatchynamelikeRedOctoberor
BloodySunday,sorry)beganin1900.TheBrujahtookissuewiththeVentrue,Tzimisce(OldClan,forthe
record),andtheToreadorandtheirpompous,quasifeudalmethodofrunningthings,asBrujaharewonttodo.
TherulingClansfiguredtheyhadnothingtofearfromthelowerranks,astherulingClansarewonttodo.But
theBrujahslippedtheiridealsintothemortalsrevolutionarycalling,ormaybetheytooktheircuesfromthe
emergingCommunistprinciplesthatMarx,Lenin,andTrotskyweretossingaround.Whocansay,really?
Inanycase,theBrujah,inadditiontotheirusualstrategyofpoundonituntilitstopsmoving,employeda
muchclevererstrategyofstealthegravedirtfromthereallyoldTzimisceandwatchthemgetweakerfora
fewmonths,thenpoundonthemtiltheystopmoving.Imnotentirelysureiftheyusedsimilarmethodsof
gettingaroundtheVentrueandToreadorbigwigs,butinanyevent,beforetheTsarsbloodhadcooledonthe
floorofIpatievHouse,thevampireswhocalledtheshotsinRussiaslargestcitiesweredust,ash,ordustyash.
[MARGINNOTESINANATOLESHANDWRITING]
Asapointofinterest,theBrujahdid,infact,playonthefeedingpreferencesoftheVentrueinsomeplaces.I
dontrememberwhatcityitwasOmsk?wherewomenwithgreeneyesjustvanishedinthespaceofa
coupleofnights.ItsstillrareashelltofindanyonewithgreeneyesinOmsk.
[ANATOLEMARGINNOTESEND]
Fromthere,theBrujahformedaCouncil.Theyhadlong,longdocumentsdetailingrulesandprocedures,and
lengthytreatisesabouthowtheyweredifferentfromthedictatorialruleofPrinces.And,infairness,theywere.
Iveseenrulebycommitteebefore,butittendstobeakindofImthePrinceandallofyouaremyPrimogen,
andletsmakeahalfassedstabatchecksandbalancesbutreallywellalljustscratcheachothersbacksas
necessarykindofthing.TheCouncil,though,hadatrulyimmensecountrytogovern,andStalininvadingother
countriesandaddingthemtotheUSSRlikesomeimmenseredamoebawasnthelpingmattersany.Sothe
Councilexpandedithadto!andinalotofcasesitwouldkilloffolder,establishedPrinces,installyounger
andmorepassionatevampiresaslocalgovernors(basicallyPrinces,butdontusethatword),andmove
along.
St.Petersburgwaskindofanexception,andIwasprettyunclearastowhathappenedthere,whichisone
reasonImadethatcitythefirststoponmywhirlwindtourintocrazylandwhenIstartedlookingintowhat
happenedtoBabaYaga.
TheLittleGrandmother
BabaYagacommandsaweirdreverenceinRussia.Someoftheoldfablespaintherasthiskindly,
grandmotherlikefigure,butmostlyshesawitchwhofliesaroundinagiantmortarandpestleandlivesina
housewithchickenlegs.Tomortalssheisabedtimestory,appearingonpackagesofsweets,incommercials,
andonallkindsoftoys.KindredfromRussia,ontheotherhand,tendtogetreallytightlippedwhenIbringher
up,exceptBrujah,whotypicallyeitherstompawayorskipstraighttoredrage.
Beforewegoanyfurther,though,itsimportanttoknowwhoandwhatBabaYagawas,absolutelyand
conclusively.Ready?
Ihavenoearthlyidea.Well,thatsnotentirelytrue.Imfairlycertainshewasavampire,andifshewasa
vampire,shewasprobablyNosferatu,andifshewasaNosferatu,shewasprobablyadirectchildeof
Absimiliard.Tofurtherconfoundmatters,Anatoleclaimsshewasseveralvampires!Themysteriescontinue.
MostRussianfairytalesworklikethis:Onethingnestedinsideanotherthingisnestedinsideanotherthing.I
havenoideawhatthefascinationforthingsinotherthingsis,butitpermeatestheculturerightdowntothe
monsters.
FromwhatI'vegatheredfromthefewKindredwillingtobroachthesubject,toomanyofwhichwerelessthan
sober,oneversionofthestorygoeslikethis:
BabaYagatookoverRussiaaftertheBrujahtookitoverfromtheentrenchedKindred,butwhenIsayshetook
itover,IdontmeansheruleditorcontrolleditlikeotherKindredtendtomean.Shedidnttellvampireswho
theycouldandcouldntfeedonshedidntgivepermissionforbloodhuntsandthelike.Imean,sheruled
Russiainthemostovertlysupernatural,Masqueradebreakingmanneryoucouldthinkof.Shecommandedsix
factionsarmiesthatmanagedvariouspartsofherbizarreempire.Someofthesoldiersinthosearmies
werevampires.SomewereLupines,andsomewerespirits(notghostsalthough,hell,whynot).Shehadan
armycomposedentirelyofwizards.Andthatsnoteventheweirdestone.TheweirdestwastheArmyof
Despair,andthatonewasmadeupofdragons.
No,Idonthavepictures.
[MARGINNOTESINANATOLESHANDWRITING]
Theydontphotographanyway.AndIthinktheyrealldeadnow.Ortheywillbe.Itshardtoknow.
[ANATOLEMARGINNOTESEND]
Ifthestoriesaretobebelieved,BabaYagahadsupernaturalpoweratherdisposallikenothingtheworldhad
seenbefore,andnothingseensince.Shewassupposedlymassive,withironclaws,ironfangs,anda
countenancethatwouldputmanyNosferatutoshame.Imnotbeingsarcastic,sothatshouldgivesomesense
ofthegravity.
TheShadowCurtain
IdonthaveanexactdateforwhentheShadowCurtainfell.MostofthepeopleIveinterviewedaboutitsayit
coincidedwiththeIronCurtain,butthatsoundslikepoeticlicensetome.WhatIdoknowistheShadow
Curtainwasametaphysicalroachmotel.Anyonewithanysupernaturalabilitywhatsoever(andthatincludes
ghoulsandghostservants,sosuckit,Ambrogino)couldentertheCurtain,butnotleave,orelse.
Thelogicalnextquestionisorelsewhat?andIdontreallyhaveagoodanswer,becauseIwasneverstupid
orunluckyenoughtogetstuckbehindtheCurtain.ImreliablyinformedKindredallovertheworldsent
emissariesorassassinsintoRussia,andgotnothingbackbutpanickedletters.WhatevertheShadowCurtain
was,whateverpoweredit,itworked.SomemessagesseemedtoindicateLupines,othersspokeofmystical
barriersorevenplainbureaucracy:thevictimsbeingsnaredbygoodoldSovietredtapeuntilsomethingcaught
upwiththem.Overtime,thereputationofRussiaspread.ItwasaprisonforKindred,oratrap.Gettingsentto
RussiawasafateworsethanDetroititwasuncertainty.IcantguesshowmanyKindredwhojustwanted
thetruthcametoRussiaandweresubsumed.Hell,Ihadtobetalkedoutofitonceortwice.
DirtysecretthatsomePrincesandotherhigherupsdontwantyoutoknow:Russiawasalsoatrapforalong
time.Gotarivalmessingwithyourinterests?BuyafewpropertiesinOmskandlurehimtheretoinvestigate.
Gotachildewhoisntallyoudhoped?SendhimtoMoscowonanerrand.WhatevertheShadowCurtain
meanttoBabaYagaandtheRussianKindred,tothoseofussmartenoughtostayontheotherside,itwasa
usefulandterrifyingtool.
Butitsgonenow.Dontworry.ImsurenoneofthoseKindredsenttodietherearestillaround.Iftheyare,Im
suretheyrenotbitteroranything.
[ABOVETEXTINBECKETT'SSCRIPTENDS]
[ARTIFACTLETTERFRAGMENT,STARTINGMIDSENTENCE]
amfrantic.Icannotleave.Icannotleavethiswretched,cold,bloodlesscountry.Everythingispaleanddead,
andyes,IamawareofwhatandwhoIam.Ihavenowishtohavesuchamirrorhelduptomebythevery
landaroundme.
ButIcannotleave,Lucita.IgrowillwheneverItry.Icometothebordersandtrytocross,onlytofeel
impossibly,viscerallysick.Iheave,Iretch,butnothingcomes,andyetIcannotwalk.OnceItrieddriving,
planningsimplytoaccelerateenoughtogetacrosstheborderandthenrun.AsIapproached,though,my
wholebodybegansweatingblood,thecarstalled,andmynervefailedme,leadingmetoturnback.TwiceI
havecomeclosetoviolatingtheMasqueradejusttoseeifaJusticarwouldcometopunishme.Manymore
timesthanthat,Ivewrittentofriendsinnearbycountries.Nooneanswers.
Lucita,Ihavesecuredpassageonaship.Iwillnotsetdownthenameorberthhere,forfranklyIdarenothope
itwillwork.ButIamdesperate.IfImakeitout,wecandiscussthislettertogether.
Yours,
Selene
[MARGINNOTESINLUCITASHANDWRITING]
IhadafriendwhowounduponthewrongshipanddisembarkedinSt.Petersburgin1950orso.Shewrote
methisletter,whichdidntreachmeuntildecadeslater(itwenttoadeaddropthatIdcompletelyforgotten
aboutuntilIgotbacktoVeniceonesummer).
[LUCITAMARGINNOTESEND]
[MARGINNOTESINANATOLESHANDWRITING]
Selenewaslucky.Shediedquickly.TheLittleGrandmotherhadnoparticularinterestinher.
[ANATOLEMARGINNOTESEND]
[ARTIFACTLETTERENDS]
[BELOWTEXTFOLLOWSINBECKETT'SDIARYSCRIPT]
LastthingtoknowaboutBabaYaga:Shesdead.Butwhatkilledher?Thatquestioniswheretherabbithole
reallybegins,andIvesiftedthroughtheinsanity,outrightlies,spin,andobviousfabricationstocomeupwith
thebesttheoriesIcould.Iwasleftwiththreetheorieswithsomeevidentiarysupport.Doesthetruthlie
somewhereinbetween?Probably.Areweeverlikelytoknowthetruth?FortheloveofCaine,Ihopenot.
BeforeIwenttoRussia,IfiguredIshouldfindsomeonewhoknewtheterrainandhadbeenthereforawhile.I
finallyhookedupwithaNosferatunamedAngus.HesaidhewasborninScotland,butreally,itshardtoknow
hespokeflawlessRussianandafewotherlanguages,too.Anyway,AngusgotstuckbehindtheShadow
Curtainforabout20years,butneverquitemanagedtogetunderBabaYagasthumb.Hespentalotoftime
dodgingherinfluence,butgotoutwhentheCurtainfell.ImethimwhenhewaslookingforhissireinGreece,
andagreedthatafterwedidalittledigginginRussiaIdhelphimout.
Itdidntworkoutthewayhedhaveliked.IdedicatethisresearchtothememoryofAngus.
[MARGINNOTESINLUCITASHANDWRITING]
YoudoknowhewasOkuloschilde,right?
[LUCITAMARGINNOTESEND]
[ABOVETEXTINBECKETT'SSCRIPTENDS]
[BELOWTEXTFOLLOWSINBECKETT'SHANDWRITING,BUTWRITTENASANESSAYRATHER
THANINHISJOURNAL]
OntheOneClaw:St.Petersburg
St.Petersburgissituatedfarenoughnorththat,forseveralweeksinthesummer,thesundoesntset.This
phenomenoniscalledthewhitenights,andnaturallyitinvolvesfestivalsandpartiesandallkindsoffunstuff
theBlessedofCainedontgettoexperience.Assuch,theWhiteNightsallbutrequirethatlocalKindredhave
achilde,aghoul,orafriendfarenoughsouththeycanescapethecitiesforamonth.Thatalsomeansthe
deathratesofsouthernRussiancitiesgoup,butsincethefalloftheShadowCurtain,itsimproved.Anyway,
IvebeentoSt.Petersburgafewtimesovertheyears,andoncewasduringtheperiodwhentheBrujah
Councilranthecountry.
Imentionedbeforethat,forthemostpart,theCouncilwouldkillofftheexistingPrincesoflargercitiesandthen
replacethemwithyoungideologues.InthecaseofSt.Petersburg,thePrinceofthecitywasaVentruenamed
AnyaDyomin.WhenshebecamePrince,St.Petersburghadjustbeenfounded,andhersire(whosenameI
dontknow)senthertheretokeepheroutoftheway,butalsotogivehersomethingtodoforafewcenturies.
Andthenwham,St.PetersburgbecomesthiskindofgatewaytotheWest,anditsanimportantcity,butby
thetimetheeldersintherestofRussiafigurethisout,Anyastooentrenchedtooustandshesgotherown
childe,andanywayitwouldbetooawkwardtoadmitohwejustputyoutheretoshutyouup,sosure,she
staysPrince.Imsuretheyhadacoronationorsomething,andImequallysurehersiregaveherathisiswhat
Iwantedallalongkindofspeech.Siresdothatkindofthing,Imtold.
HerchildewasakindofspinelesslittlethingcalledNikolai,who,withapologiestomyfriendVictoria,would
probablyhavebeenbetteroffbeingEmbracedasaToreador.Imean,nottosaythatVentruecantappreciate
beauty,butNikolaiMiloradovwasthekindofvampirewhowouldseeanoldpieceofarchitecture,squeal
Look!Stairs!andthenspendthenexthalfhourtellingyouaboutthebuildinganditshistory.Hewasyoung
andbeautifulwhenAnyaEmbracedhim,andhetoldmethatshegavehimimmortalitybecausehelovedthe
cityandwantedtoseeitdevelopovertheyears.
Thatallsoundsveryfuckingromantic,butyouhavetorememberthatwhentheBrujahcametotownin1920
something,theykilledoffAnyabutleftNikolaiincharge.Moretothepoint,theylefthimtorunthingspretty
muchasAnyaalwaysdidhesthePrince,herearethePrimogen,etc.Why?
BecausetheBrujahknewSt.PetersburgwasaneasypointofingressforotherKindred.Theywantedthe
CamarillafromEuropetohaveNikolaithisoldworld,somewhatfoppishvampireastheirfirstpointof
contact.Hewasoldenoughtobeanelder(St.Petersburgwasfoundedin1703,andNikolaiwasEmbraced
lessthanadecadelater),buthedneverreallybeenawayfromthecityandhehadlimitedcontactwithother
vampires.Thisisimportantbecausea)theBrujahknewwhichsideofthebreadwasbutteredtheyfigured
anyonecominginfromEuropewouldseeNikolaiandfigure,oh,thisisfineandnotworryabouttryingtotake
therestofRussiaandb)BabaYagadidthesamedamnthingwhenshetookover,shejustdidntkillthe
existingPrincefirst.
Anyway,Nikolaimightbesmarterthanusall,becausehesstillPrinceofSt.Petersburg.ImetwithhimafterI
gotwordtheShadowCurtainwasdownandRussiawasstartingtoopenupagain.Idalsoheardhiscitywas
thesafestalotofBabaYagasminionswerestillnominallyincharge,butthenLupineswerepickingoffany
Kindredtheycouldfind,too,sothewholecountrywasawarzone.
[ENDBECKETTESSAY]
[BELOWTEXTPRESENTEDASTRANSCRIPTOFARECORDEDCONVERSATION]
[Recordingbegins]
Beckett:Thankyoufortakingthetimetomeetwithme,PrinceNikolai.
Nikolai:Thepleasureismine,sir.Whatdidyouwishtoaskmeabout?
Beckett:Well,Iunderstandthatformanyyears,youansweredtohigherpowers.
Nikolai:Youarebeingpolite.Iwasnotgiventounderstandthatwastypicalofyou.
Beckett:Itsnot.
Nikolai:Well,then.Ishallsaveussometime.WhenIbecamePrince,Ididsobycapitulatingtothe
revolutionaryscumwhoslaughteredmysire,mygrandsire,andmygreatgrandsire,inadditiontowhoknows
howmanyofmyClanmatesacrossRussia.WhenIdidso,whenIsignedtheirabominabletreaty,thewords
echoinginmyheadwerethelastwordsmybelovedsirespoketome:Outlivethem.
Beckett:ShequotedtheBookofNod?
Nikolai:Toridyourselfofanenemy,outlivehim.Yes.SoIdid.TherewasnohopeforAnyatothem,shewas
asymboloftheoldways,thethingstheywishedtoextinguish.Orperhapstheyfeltbykillingher,theycould
moreeasilycontrolme.
Beckett:Whatthen?
Nikolai:Ididastheyasked.IranSt.PetersburginmuchthesamewayAnyaandIalwaysdid,keepingup
appearancestovisitors.SometimestheBrujahwouldsenddissidentsandenemiestothecityduringtheWhite
Nights,becauseitwasasimplewaytogetridofthemwithfewerKindredaround.Beyondthat,though,very
littlewasaskedofme.
Beckett:UntilBabaYaga.
[pause]
Nikolai:Yes.
Beckett:Andwhatdidsheask?
[lengthysilence]
Beckett:Ifthisistoodifficult
Nikolai:Ifanything,itmaybedifficultforyou.BabaYagadidnotaskanything.BabaYaganeverappeared
beforemeinperson,andyet,onthefirstnightofeachmonthIwouldwakeintheeveningwithherbloodonmy
lips.Ifollowedhercommands,butIneverheardhervoice.IspentmostofmytimeonmyshiporonVasilevksy
Island.IdidntknowIwasdoingherbidding,notuntilaftertheCurtainfell.
Beckett:Andwhathappenedwhenitfell?
Nikolai:BabaYagadiedinJune,duringtheWhiteNights.ManyofherservantsincludingViktor,Generalof
theArmyoftheNight,interredthemselveshere,nearthewater.Somethingdugthemupandburnedthemin
thesun.BabaYagawaskilledsomemonthslater.
[MARGINNOTESINLUCITASHANDWRITING]
GeneraloftheArmyoftheNight?IassumethissoundsbetterinRussian.
[LUCITAMARGINNOTESEND]
Beckett:Where?
Nikolai:Beneaththecity.
[Recordingends]
[ENDTRANSCRIPT]
[ANGUSJOURNALDIRTIERPAGES,SPIDERYHANDWRITING]
WarsawStationclosed,asatrainstation,manyyearsago.Itsamuseumnow.Gettingintothetunnelswasnt
hard,butwhenIwasdownthere,IfoundtheremainsofBabaYaga.
Ifoundadoor,obviouslydisused,andrippeditopen.Guardscame,soItookcareofthem,andthenwent
below.Normallookingtunnels,old,unusedtraintracks,andthenasectionofthefloorthattheratstoldme
wasweak.
Kickeditin,andfellmaybethreeorfourmetres.Wholeroomtastedofsalt.Ilookedaroundandrealizedthat
alltheratshadfledneveragoodsign.
Walkeddownthecorridor,andthesalttastegotstronger.Thetunnelendedcavein?
Againstthatwall,Ifoundsalt.Hugesaltcrystals,andinsidethem,bones.Inthemiddleofitall,theskeletal
remainsofavampirebasedonthefangsontheskull.Imnotsurewhathappenedorwherethesaltcame
from,butItooktheskullandleft.
[ENDANGUSJOURNAL]
[BELOWTEXTFOLLOWSINBECKETT'SHANDWRITING,BUTWRITTENASANESSAYRATHER
THANINHISJOURNAL]
IexaminedtheskullAngusfound,calledinafewfavors.Itsfromanoldwoman.Doesthatmeanitsfrom
BabaYaga?IgotmyhandsonpolicereportsfromtheWhiteNightssomeyearsback,and,indeed,found
evidenceofamassgravewithnobodiesnearthewaterfront.MightthatbetheslaughteroftheArmyofthe
NightNikolaimentioned?
Ifthatsthecase,thenitwouldmakesomedegreeofsensethatBabaYagadiedalongwiththem,orshortly
thereafter.Doesntexplainthesalt,butsaltiswidelyregarded,theworldover,asacurativeandpreventative
measureagainstmagic(like,say,fromwitches).Ontheotherhand,saltdoesntplayintoBabaYagaslegend
atallthoughitdoesfigureintoanother,kindofsimilarstoryaboutaSaltQueenfromPolandcalledthe
Gutka.Similarlegend?BabaYagamakingsidetripstoPoland?Unrelatedvampireor,worse,related
vampire?Whoknows?
KindredinSt.PetersburgareprettyconvincedtheskullwefoundinthetunnelsisBabaYaga,andtheydonot
wanttohearotherwise.Itdidraisethequestionofhowshedied,though,andsoIsentAngusonandkept
askingaround.
Afewnightslater,IfoundaletterwaitingformeatabarthelocalKindredfavoredasawateringholeand
huntingground,invitingmetoMikhailovskyCastle.TheinvitationmightaswellhavesaidTHISISATRAP,
YOUWILLBEFLAYEDonit,butitalsoincluded,atthebottom,aquoteIcouldntgetoutofmymind.
ART:APIECEOFPAPERWITHTHEINVITATIONIDEALLYINRUSSIAN,JUSTSAYINGSOMETHING
LIKEHOPETOSEEYOUTHERE,REGARDS,MARASH.BUTTHENBELOWTHAT,INENGLISH:
WHENTHESTORMBREAKS,WHENTHEFIRSTOF13FALLS,THENSHALLTHETRUEJYHAD
BEGIN.
ThenshallthetrueJyhadbegin.Idheardrumors,before,ofascroll,datingprobablytothe11thcentury,
passedoninafeverdreamfromaNosferatuwhoimmolatedhimselfthenextnight.
Supposedly,thescrollelaboratedonthewordsoftheNosferatuClanfoundertohischilder,andoneofthefew
storiesIdheardaboutthatIhadanykindofcorroborationforwasthatitmentionedatrueJyhad.Traporno,
IfiguredIdbettergiveitalook.
Ididntevengetintothecastle,though.IsawtheguyIwaswaitingfor,andhedidnotsmellright.Hedidnt
smelldead,exactly,justweird,andwhenIstartedtoapproachhim,Iheardhimwhispersomethingunderhis
breath.InSumerian.Itwasaninvocation,andthethingbeinginvokedwasBezariel.
Ididtalktotheguy,though.HecalledhimselfMikhail,buthelookedupatthecastlewhenhesaidit,likeha
haImSaintMichael.Hekepttryingtogetmetogoinside,butIvebeenaroundenoughofustoknowwhen
Imbeinghustled.Hedidfinallyadmitthathedseenthescroll,butthatagroupofus(meaningKindred)had
removeditfromthecitysomeyearsback.HesaidhedmadenotesonitandIcouldseetheminside,andas
muchasitpainedme,Itoremyselfaway.IlefttownthenextnighttomeetupwithAngus.
Ivesincedonealittledigging,andthenameBezarielcomesupinacoupleofveryunsavoryplaces.Best
translationIvefound?TheBloodAngel.
[ENDBECKETTESSAY]
[BELOWTEXTFOLLOWSINBECKETT'SHANDWRITING,BUTWRITTENASANESSAYRATHER
THANINHISJOURNAL]
Interlude:SewerRatsofRussia
Itsnotopenlyspokenofinthemodernnights,butifyouspeaktotherightRabbletherightwayattheright
time,youllhearthatbackinthedaysoftheCouncilitwaspopularforNosferatuinSt.Petersburgtoclaim
descentfromtheHag.Ifgenealogyistrue,halfofthewarrensunderthecityarepopulatedwiththosecarrying
herBlood.LikemostofRussia,shehadafairlylargepresenceinthemindsofRussianKindred,excepta
grandandterriblefigureisnotablymoreattractivetovampires.Whetherornotshewasonesinglevampire
didntseemtomatterforamortal,itwouldbelikeclaimingdescentfromCharlemagne.
AbsolutelynoNosferatutodaywillacknowledgedescentfromBabaYaga,thoughtofindoutwhy,AngusandI
hadtohikeintothewoodsrightnearUfalej,atownofabout30,000peopleinsoutheasternRussia.Wedidnt
evengetthetipfromaNosferatuourselvesaRavnoswhousedtoruninacoteriewithafewNosferatutold
usaboutthegraves.Twonightsoftravelbytraininblackedoutcarstookustothetown,andwehadtowait
anothernighttoventureintothewoods.
[ENDBECKETTESSAY]
[ANGUSJOURNALDIRTIERPAGES,SPIDERYHANDWRITINGBRITISHENGLISHISDELIBERATE]
LosttrackofBeckettafterwalkingwestfromroadabouttwokilometres.Foundwolfspoor,butalsoevidenceof
humanfoottraffic.BeckettexplainedthismeantLupines,sodisappeared.Keptwalking,perplan.Foundhuge
clearingintrees,probably20metresindiameter.
[ENDANGUSJOURNAL]
IttookusawhiletofindwhattheBrujahwastalkingaboutastoneentrancetoalongbarrow,carveddeep
withclawsfarlargerandsharperthanmine.Evenyearslaterandexposedtotheelements,thescratcheson
thethingcarriedwiththemthescentofiron.Afewsimpletestsindicatedthatitwasmerelysealed,ratherthan
Thaumaturgicallytrapped.Ittookbothusagreatdealofeffort,buteventuallytheentranceyieldedtobrute
force.
LikemostlongbarrowsofRussia,itwasdividedintochambers.Likemostlongbarrows,itwasaplaceforthe
deadratherthantheliving.BurieddeepbelowtherichloamweredozensanddozensofmummifiedKindred,
paralyzedandtorpidtothepointofdecay.Somelookedmostlyfresh,butseveralwerebutfewscrapsof
decayedflesh,andoneortwowereashcoveredbones.Manyshoweddisfigurementsontheirbones
nodules,severearthritis,asymmetricaldevelopment.EitherthoseKindredhadbeenEmbracedwithsevere
deformities,ortheywereNosferatutoabody.
YetnonesavethefullydecayedseemedtohavemetFinalDeath.AngusandIproddedasmuchaswedared,
butwefoundneitherstakenorwoundtoexplainthetorporofallthevampiresinthebarrow.Theydidnt
respondtoafewdropsofbloodspilledfrommytrustyflask.Theydidntrespondtoanything.
Weleftandresealeditseveralhoursbeforedawnneitherofuswantedtospendthedaytherebutit
raisedmanymorequestionsthanitanswered.Clearly,atleastsomeofthebarrowsNosferatuclaimeddescent
fromBabaYaga,butwhopurgedthem?Theirkin,eagertodistancethemselvesfromatyrant,ortheHag
herself?Andwhatmagickeptthemtorpid?
OntheOtherClaw:EndoftheLine
ImmoreenamoredoftheothertheoryofBabaYagasend.Itmakestheleastsense.ButitsalsotheoneI
believeistrue.
Beforewestart:whatsmissingfromthistheoryiswhatkilledBabaYaga.Thisonesmoreaboutwhereand
whenithappened,anditssomethingIve(well,we,butAngusisntaroundanymore)piecedtogether.Lets
pickupwhereweleftoffnearUfalej.
ThetownsufferedanearthquakewhichroughlycoincidedwiththeShadowCurtainfalling.Correlationisnt
causation,butthisisntascientificinquiryandmynameisntNetchurch,soImwillingtoseethatasnota
coincidence.
AfterourinvestigationofUfalej,AngusandIdecidedtosteerclearofthewoodsasmuchaspossible.We
headedinsteadintothemountains.Anguswentupintothefoothills,whileIstayedaroundthebase.
Aweekwentby,thenanother,andthenanother.IfiguredAngusgotlostorstuckorkilledbywerewolves,butI
couldntquitebringmyselftoleavehim.Bloodwasntaproblem.Iwasfeedingoffanimals,butIrealizedthatI
didnthavetofeedespeciallyoften.ThebloodofthedeerandrabbitsthatIsummonedwassustainingmejust
likehumanblood.IdontknowwhyandIdidntthinktobringarabbitbackwithme,butittastedalmostlike
ghoulblood.IdidntseeanyotherKindredoutthere,though,andIwastheremorethanamonth.Imusthave
killedtwoanimalsanight(evenpotentbloodedrabbitsarestillrabbits,theydontholdmuch),andwhointhe
worldwouldwastethatmuchoftheirbloodmakingghoulsofalltherabbitsinthewoodsatthefoodofthe
Urals?
IthoughtbacktotheRavnoswemet,whoreferredtothewoodsasbeingfullof[BabaYagas]beasts.Atthe
timeIassumedthatmeantvampires,becauseGrannysuredidliketousevampiresasservantsandhunters.
Butwhatiftheywereliterallybeasts?AvampireasoldandpowerfulasBabaYagacouldsureaffordtofeed
herbloodtoalotofanimals,especiallyifweassumethat,asaNosferatu,shehadsomeswayoveranimals
already.SoIstartedlookingforweirdwildlife.Andoh,boy.Heresapictureofafootprint.
[ART:PICTUREOFARABBITPRINT,BUTGROSSLYDISTENDEDANDWITHLONGERCLAWS]
Thatsarabbitprint.IdidntfindthebeastitbelongedtothatIwouldhavesavedbutIfoundprintslike
thatallovertheplace.Deerprintswithtoes,bearprintswithbackfacingclaws(alsoalotofweirdwolfprints,
butIdiscountedthosebecausetheymightjustaseasilyhavebeenLupines).
Slightdigressionhere:Weknowghoulscanbebredintoghoulfamilies,thankstothesterlingworkofour
friendstheFiends.AndherewehaveaforestareawithnoKindred,butathrivingghoulanimalpopulation.My
theory?BabaYagahadghoulanimals,theyescapedwhenshedied,andbredtheirconditionintothelocal
species.
Thatwasmymonthonthemountain,though.Anguswell.
ImpiecingthistogetherfromevidenceIfoundafterIdecidedtofollowhistrailasbestIcouldandseeifIcould
discernwhathappenedtohim.Ifoundhisstartingpointeasilyenoughitledupintothefoothills.Afterthat,
though,itwaslikewell,liketrackingaNosferatuoverunevengroundamonthafterthefact.Igaveitacouple
ofnights,andthensaidscrewitandstartedjustlookingaround.
Ifoundevidenceofadriedupstream.Thebedledtoarockslideitlookedlikethesourceofthewaterhad
comefrominsidethemountain,andwhentherockslidehititburiedit.Judgingbythegrowthofvegetation
aroundthearea,IfiguredtherockslidehitaboutthesametimeasthequakesinUfalej,surprise,surprise.But
stillnosignofAngus.
Itriedtofindanopeningintothemountain,andthattookmethebetterpartofaweek.Ifoundalotofholes,
sure,buttheywereeithertoosmallortoounstable,andIwasntatallsurethatIdbeabletogetoutagainin
theeventofacavein.Ihavenodesiretogetstuckinanancientvampiresmysticalhideout,evenadead
elders.
[MARGINNOTESINANATOLESHANDWRITING]
AtthispointIfeelcompelledtopointoutthateverythingseemstohappenincycles.
[ANATOLEMARGINNOTESEND]
Finally,though,Ifoundanaperture,butitwasntnaturallyoccurring.Therockshadbeenpositionedinsucha
waythatsomeoneroughlyhumansizedcouldgetin,buttherockswerefartooheavyforapersontohave
movedthem.IfiguredeitherAngushadgoneintothemountainandgottenlost(ordead),orIdmissedhim
andhedalreadyheadedbacktotown.Eitherway,Idecidedtochanceacaveinandgointothemountaina
ways,justtoseeifIcouldfindhim.
Thescrawlonthewallsstartedaroundthefirstbend.Listenwellthesewords,childrenofAbsimiliard.And
thenitjustcontinued,writteninEnglishItranscribedithereasIwaswalking.Iwanderedthroughthe
tunnels,lookingupatthewriting,wonderingwhowasscrewingwithme,butthinking,well,Angusmusthave
seenthis,too.
AndthenIreachedtheend,inmorethanonesense.Ifoundtheendofthetunnel,anotherrockslide,blocking
amuchlargerentrancetoacaverninthemountain.Ifoundtheendofthescrawledwords.AndIfoundthe
endofAngus.
[SCRAWLEDWORDSMENTIONEDATTHESTARTSHOULDENDONTHISPAGE.]
Hisclotheswereshreddedandscattered,andhisbody,ofcourse,wasnothingbutash.Writtenonthewall
wasthis:
[INTHESAMEHANDWRITINGASTHEMARGINSCRAWL:]
Curseanddamnyou,Beckett,forbringingmehere.Nowherelefttorun.Nowheretohidefromthepredator
thatlivesintheshadowsofthemind.WeNosferatuthinkwehidefromsight?Ourobfuscationisnotthatofthe
MalkavsortheSetites.Oursishidingfromthesightofmortalsbybecomingvisibletonightmares.
Beckett,youbastard,ifyoufindthis,takethismessagetomyClan:Theyarecoming.Theyarecomingforus
all.
Angus,childeofOkulos
Surroundingtheshredsofclothesandthemoundsofashwere10teeth,biggerthanhumanbutnotquiteas
bigasours,madeofiron.Ipickedoneup,andfeltitburnmyflesh,andIrememberedthatmythologyrefersto
BabaYagaashavingironteeth.AndthenIgotthehelloutofthere.
[ABOVETEXTINBECKETT'SSCRIPTENDS]
[ENDTHEPROTOENCYCLOPEDIAENTRY]
[START:THEFOLLOWINGYELLOWSTATIONERYPAPERSTUCKBETWEENDIARYPAGES.
BECKETT'SHANDWRITINGANDSKETCHES.THESEARENOTYETENCYCLOPEDIAENTRIES,BUT
MERELYBECKETT'SNOTES.]
Okulos
Nosferatu,Salisbury*1628,Oxford#1665.Unknownsire.
OkuloswasEmbracednearthesamelocationandyearasmyself.Indeed,itseemswesharethesame
circumstancesofEmbrace,makingmeoftenwonderwhereIwouldbenowifIhadtheNosferatusire,andhe
theGangrel.OkuloswitnessedthesamemortalandKindredpolitickingasIasafledgling.Likemyself,hewas
putoffbytheentirerigmarole.Further,discoveringtheCamarillaviewofhisthinbloodandlackofsire,he
becameadeterminedautarkis.
Asanantiquarian,Okulosisunsurpassed.Ifhespendslongenoughwithanartifact,hefindsallitssecrets.
Impressively,thisgiftdoesnotcomefromanyKindredgift.He'sspenteveryyearunderthenightrefininghis
skills.Heclaimstomehe"eschewsthesupernaturalinfavorofmortalprinciples,asonenightwe'llfindthose
giftsdeniedjustaseasilyasthey'vebeengranted."
Whenwewereyounger,OkulosswoopedintodenymeaprizemoretimesthanIcanremember.Itwasone
sucheventthatledmetoofferhimpartnership.Ourphilosophiesdidn'tappearatodds,andbothofusdisliked
theideaofreportingtoanyoneelse,soweequitablyagreedtoworktogether.
Okulosembracesthetechnologicalage.He'sfascinatedbytheinternetasaninformationresource,andaway
ofexploringlocationswithoutthedangerofactualproximitytopotentialcurses,sleepingelders,andrival
archeologists.Forthelatterpartofthe20thcenturyitwasraretoseeOkulosoutinthefield.
IpriedOkulosawayfromthesafetyofhiscomputerhiveforthesakeofadangerous,yetvaluableexpedition.I
acceptresponsibilityforhisbecomingtrappedwithinKaymakli,andthetragicdestructionofhischilde.Idid,
however,endeavortofreehim,andafterfouryearshereturnedtomyside.Henowsuffersfrommental
maladiesavampirecouldonlyacquireafterbeingentombedinthelargestmassgraveofourkind.His
temperamentismoredetachedandacerbicnow,hisboldnesstakingaknocksinceKaymakli.I'mconfidentit'll
return.Hestillremainsfirmlyapolitical,angeringbothSabbatandCamarillawhentheyfindhimskulkingon
theirterritory.
Oflate,OkuloshasworkedhardwithCesareonchroniclingmanyofourfindingssothey'remoreaccessibleas
aresearchresource.Anatolehassoremisgivingsaboutthis,growingespeciallycoldtoOkulossincehis
freedomfromKaymakli.Anatole'smumbledtomeabouttheriskofputtingallmyfindingsinoneOkulos
shapedbasket.I'mforcedtorespondthatIoweOkulosmytrust.Afterall,hewaitedformeinKaymakli,and
forgavemefortheeventsleadingtohisbecomingtrappedthere.
[ARTNOTES:OKULOSISDESCRIBEDINTHEGEHENNANOVELAS"HISGRANITEGREYSKINWAS
PALER...ANDCLUNGTOHISBONESLIKEWETCOTTON.HISVARIOUSSCARSANDBLEMISHES
WEREMOREPRONOUNCED,INSOMECASESOPENANDOOZING.SEVERALOFHISTWISTED
ANDUNEVENTEETHWEREMISSINGTHEOTHERSPROTRUDEDDIRECTLYFROMBONE,FOR
THESKINOFHISGUMSHADCOMPLETELYROTTEDAWAY."]
[BEGINBECKETTSDIARYSCRIPT]
TheCallevaArms,Silchester,BritishIsles
DoesmyaccountofRussiaseemdisjointed?Asifwholepiecesweresimplymissing?Itcertainlydoestome.
Theflowisoff,andIcannotaccountforitinthesafetyofmytemporaryhaveninSilchester.
ExceptthatIcanaccountforit,andthatdeeplyworriesme.Ivefelttheraw,raggededgesofaVentrues
wordsinmymind,thefaintitchofapowerfullyhiddenKindredbefore.WhenIrememberwhatIcanofmytime
inRussia,IaminevitablydrawnbacktomemoriesofmytimewithKemintiriorMenele,anditdiscomfitsme
greatly.EvenifBabaYagastrueidentitywas,say,severalelderNosferatutakingadvantageofalegend?They
wouldstillpossessaterrifyingfacilitytoconcealtheirexistences,andademonstrabletalentwithcertain
ThaumaturgyPaths.IfBabaYagadidexist,thespiderinthecenterofatrulymassivewebofpower,an
Antediluvianschildewieldingmagicsancientandhorrible?IsawtheeyesofLupinesinthedarkforestsof
Russia,andtheywereutterlyandcompletelyterrifiedofsomething.Coveringtrackswouldbewellwithinher
power.
IvehadCesaremakeafewinquiriessincereturningfromRussia,andtheyseemtobestymiedthrough
disconcertinglyfamiliarmeans.ItwouldntbethefirsttimeaMethuselahfakedtheirFinalDeathtothrowoffthe
playersintheJyhad.
TheJyhadIcannotsayinthesepageswhereIpreciselydecidedtheJyhadwasmorethanafancifultale
concoctedbyneonatestoexplainwhyeldersweresomuchsmarterthanthey.Ibelievedittobenothingmore
thanthemanyandvariedmachinationsofpowerfulelders,stretchingbacktoahandfulofantecedents,butto
deemthisJyhadwouldbetoascribemythicalmovementtosomethingthatisultimatelysomewhatmundane.
TobelievetheBookofNodandfragmentsofloreasanythingmorethanallegorywouldbetoacknowledgethe
eschatologicalbentwithin,andthatsimplywouldnotdo,notforthecenturiesofunlifeundermybelt.
IsuspectIdecidedtheJyhadwasrealsomewhereinRussia,butIveryliterallycannotrememberwhereand
when,andthatdrivesmetobloodytears.
[ENDBECKETTSDIARYSCRIPT]
ToGrandmothersHouseWeGo
FollowingthedeathofBabaYaga,theShadowCurtaincollapsed.BeckettiscorrectinstatingthatBabaYaga
hadavastnetworkofsupernaturalagentsvampires,ghouls,andstrangerthingscorruptedwithherblood
andmagicthatsuddenlyfounditselfleaderless.ForeignKindredwereslowtoenterRussia,though,since
fordecadesdoingsohadbeenaonewaytrip.
ThismeansRussianKindred(andvampiressentortrickedintoRussia)havehadtimetoconsolidatepower
bases,makealliancesandenmities,andotherwisegetusedtotheirfreedom.Russiaisahugecountry,andit
doesntbehavethewaytherestoftheworlddoes,fromasupernaturalstandpoint.BabaYagasshadowisstill
felt,andsomebeingsdontevenknowsheisgone.Theykeepdoingwhattheybelieveisherbidding.
Noteverythingismysteryandmagic,though.TheAnarchsareslowlybeginningtorealizewithoutBabaYaga
inpower,theycouldreestablishtheCouncil,butwithoutthechokeholdofStalinismorClanBrujah.Asmallbut
growinggroupofAnarchsseesRussiaasthepotentialfulfillmentofallthattheyhaveworkedfor.Iftheycould
unitethisimmensecountryinthecauseoffreedomfortheKindred,thentheircomradesinarmstheworldover
wouldhaveamodel,asymbol,andahomebase.
StoryHooks
BabaYagawasthoughttobeaFourthGenerationNosferatuwhousedmagicandspiritualacumentotake
overRussia.AsBeckettmentions,shecommandedarmiesofvampires,werewolves,mages,spirits,atleast
onedemon,andhorriblespirithumanhybridscalledfomori.
Forourpurposes,theactualdeathofBabaYagaisntterriblyimportant.Theaftermathofherdeathlendsitself
toanumberofinterestingplothooks,regardlessofwhetherornotyourchronicleissetinRussia.
TheCurtainFalls:BabaYagasShadowCurtainkeptalotofKindredisolatedfromtherestoftheworldfor
decades.Russiaisaprettybigplacetobeisolated,ofcourse,butevenso,herdeathallowedvampireswho
hadntbeenabletoescapethecountrythechancetogetout.Nativevampiresprobablywouldntleave
anywayKindredarenotoriouslyaversetotravel.Butwhataboutdignitaries,emissaries,andthelikestranded
inRussiawhentheCurtainrose?MighttheynowbeattemptingtoconcludebusinessbegunwhentheSoviet
Unionwasyoung?Likewise,whataboutvampiressentherebytheirsiresasameansofdisposal?Nowthat
theycanleave,theymightreturntotheirnativelandsforalongoverduedoseofrevenge.
TheTrueJyhad:ApackofSabbatNoddists,havingsomehowobtainedthetextoftheWordsofAbsimiliard
(thetextrunningatthetopofthissection),havedecidedtheJyhadcantrulybeginiftheytaketheinitiativeand
startkillingNosferatu.Theystartwiththeantitribuoftheircity,butthenbranchoutandstarthuntingdown
individualvampiresandtorchingundergroundnests.
TheBloodAngel:Bezarielisapowerfuldemon,boundintoadaggerandhiddenbehindafalsewallin
MikhailovskyCastle.Itcommandsacultpronetohumansacrifice,runbythreelesserdemons(including
Marash).BezarielwouldbequitehappytoallywiththeBaali,shouldtheyfindthemitknowsmoreabout
vampiresthanmanydemonsdo,becauseofitslongassociationwithBabaYaga.
TheCultoftheLittleGrandmother:Bloodbondsdiehard.Usuallytheyfadewiththedeathoftheregnant,but
BabaYagawasanythingbutusual.Acultofvampires(andperhapsothercreatures,dependingonthe
Storytellersdesires)istryingtofindBabaYaga.Theycant,buttheymightfindapowerfulNosferatu
pretendingtobeher,orsomeotheropportunisticbeinghappytousezealotstoherownends.
TheLupines:TheinfluenceofBabaYagagone,theLupinesgoonthewarpath.Theydigancient,torpid
Kindredoutoftheirtombsandburnthem.TheysmashtheirwayintoElysiumsandslaughterallpresent.The
ferocityandhatredwithwhichtheyactisterrifyingtoKindred,especiallytothosevampireswhofeltsimilarly
oppressedbyBabaYaga.Canttheymakecommoncause,oratleastatruce,withthesemonsters?

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