I cannot imagine how the papers reported our little rampage; the carnage could not have escaped notice, no matter how much control over the local media the Camarilla enjoyed. Perhaps they wrote it off as a gang war, though I doubt any mortal gang has ever shed so much blood. In fact, I doubt there truly is such thing as a mortal gang – all are likely cover for some supernatural activity in the end.
It did not take Darine long to unify the city behind her, leaving her Anarch “ideals” behind her and taking the mantle of Prince for herself (the Camarilla name those that rule a city “Prince”, regardless of gender.) Very few opposed her; the Anarchs that remained all loved her, and the Camarilla recognised her role in driving the Sabbat from the city. The fact that she had the most intact power base of any surviving Cainite was not-insignificant either (nor was it entirely coincidental, for Darine was a master of manipulation.)
With so many Ghouls counted among the casualties, it came as little surprise to learn that I was possibly the oldest, strongest and most capable still remaining in Toronto. I was older than all of the city’s remaining Anarchs, and older even than many of the Camarilla. Naturally, I quickly became the leader of Darine’s Ghoul enforcers, called her “Goons” by the city’s Kindred. She never went out in public without two of us at her side; one of those was always me.
I was privy to Darine’s most private moments, her fears and doubts (and her rages, for she was still Brujah despite her Machiavellian machinations.) She kept me close by her side, and rarely trusted any other to guard her as she slept through the day. To her credit, she was a kinder master than Eric ever was: the tenderness she showed her Ghouls was not wholly affected, and she was as likely to reward success as she was to punish failure. For one unaffected by the power of the Bond, her Presence, blood, and genuine emotion almost made the servitude enjoyable.
While she had the services of a vampiric Sheriff, in practice she usually trusted her Goons (all Bound to her by blood) to enforce her edicts. As her closest confidant and most trusted servant, I was often tasked with seeing the punishments executed, and so I was often the face of her ire and disappointment. She rarely tasked me with punishments against the Traditions of Camarilla law – she cared little for them, except inasmuch as they benefited her – but more with slights of her own personal edicts.
I was oft tasked with policing the ranks of Toronto’s Ghouls, seeing that their masters kept their leashes well-oiled, to preserve the Masquerade that hid us from mortal eyes – one especially thin, given recent events. In this way, then, did I, all but a slave to the blood that kept me young, ensure the other slaves as well kept their place. For the sake of her blood, and the life it granted me, I did this without complaint.
Despite my position and my responsibilities, my status as a “mere” Ghoul measured me no more than a second-class citizen in vampire society. While this had always been true, it chafed all the more now that I was so close to the centre of power. Though the blood that powered me made me mightier than fully half (perhaps even more) of Toronto’s Kindred, I was considered lower than the lowliest among them, subject to the barest whims of the greenest fledgeling. By mere virtue of their unbeating hearts, newly-Become Childer could treat me with utter disrespect, and for all my power and prestige, I was forced to accept it. Only when their demands ran directly contrary to Darine’s command could I refuse them (it is fortunate, then, that one of her commands preserved me from the fangs of any other.)
Though her Sire was truly ancient, Darine was younger than I. A child of the Boom, she was Embraced in the late 60s when her Sire rose from torpor and fed upon her family. As the Hunger left him, he experienced a twang of guilt for their deaths, and saved Darine, the only one not yet too far gone to awaken at the taste of vitae. He taught her much out-dated tradition, including the secrets of the Roads that later became the Sabbat’s inhuman Paths of Enlightenment, in the brief few years he cared for his Childe, before he grew bored and left her to fend for herself.
Bereft of the benefits of Humanity (she walked the Road of Heaven, an archaic version of a similar Path that exists today,) she had much initial difficulty adapting to her new life. Eventually, the Anarchs had taken her in, and she had bounced from “lover” to “lover”, exchanging the promise of the Bond and tying herself to one cause after another. Damon had been the latest to catch her fancy, and she felt her position as Prince was fitting legacy to his memory.
In a bit of a perversion, Darine considered herself incomplete without such a Bond-mate, and more than once in my servitude to her would I be asked to sever a Bond she had hastily made. She thought I Bound to her, of course, and unable to refuse. I agreed largely because of her poor choices, for no partner she took offered any benefit to the city. As the only way to surely sever a Bond is the death of the Regent, I became Darine’s erstwhile assassin. A few times, she never even asked, but always thanked me afterwards.
Eventually, rumours circulated of the fate of Darine’s trysts, and the Kindred of Toronto ceased to respond to her beckoning. No amount of power or influence was worth the surety of a soon-to-come Final Death, and Darine’s boudoir grew dusty with disuse.
I had hoped to wean Darine from her sick dependency and force her to finally step up to the responsibilities she had undertaken. Instead, all I did was drive her to depend upon me in the same diseased way, and that would change everything.