Pitch-a-Week Part 20: Three Kings, Both Great and High

An aside: I’ve had a fundamental problem with vampires and vampire fiction for quite some time. There are elements of the genre that appeal greatly to me… I like the feel of the Other, I like the opportunity to add some degree of dusty, moss-encrusted antiquity to the modern day and I like the feel of nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw that’s inherent in The Vampire.

At the end of the day, though, the Other tends to be put at arm’s-length when dealing with The Vampire. The creature’s situation becomes less horrific and more… inconvenient. The Other seems to be window dressing covering a story that’s lighter on blood and dusty antiquity than I’d like.

This is an effort to ramp up the blood and age things up a touch.

High Concept: Underworld meets Deliverance, or Vampire: The Requiem if all of the preconceived clan stuff were flushed out, the Invictus were made up of the Daeva and the Mekhet and the Circle of the Crone were made up of the Nosferatu, the Ventrue and the Gangrel

Genre: Supernatural Southern Gothic Western

Overview: Les Pavane des Vampires has held sway over the City since its inception, subtly shaping it over the centuries to reflect its ideals. Under the shadow suzerainty, the city grew and flourished as its undead masters dueled, waged war and made unsteady peace in its shadowed gardens, back-alleys and boardrooms.

Until recently, the network of villages and hardscrabble hamlets nestled into the hills to the east were all but ignored by the vampires of the City. That changed when one of the Pavane’s human cats-paws, a developer, was scalped, eviscerated and left on the site of a planned housing development in the hills.

This was the first message. The second came a few days later, when a blonde-haired youth wearing war paint and scratch-built armor under a battered letterman’s jacket, rode into the City on the back of a Blood-bound hunting mule. He called himself John Barleycorn and he came, he said, as an emissary for the Rapparee, the vampires who claimed the hills as their territory. The body had been left to stake the boundaries of the Rapparee’s territory. Any attempt to cross that boundary, he said, would be seen as “an invitation to further mischief.”

The Maître of the Pavane killed John Barleycorn personally before declaring that the hill provinces would be open to colonization, with the right of domain granted to any who could hold the line and clear the stain to the Pavane’s honor.

And, thus, the invasion began. The jongleur of the Pavane moved swiftly, carving baronies out of the wilderness and bringing the vendettas of the City to a new arena as the stately dance of ages finds a quicker beat in the hills. The invaders found themselves adrift among sullen, superstitious humans who had suffered the Raparee’s predation for generations. They found themselves facing a foe grown strong and strange in the hills, a foe with power over the beasts of the field and the minds of men. As they go to war for their increasingly distant masters, they begin to wonder whether they are truly conquerors or, like John Barleycorn, whether they are part of some ancient sacrifice.

Illustrator: Christopher Shy

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