Lure of the Temptress

"Have some more pudding, Jacob. I made it especially for you."

"I am quite satisfied, thanks, mother. It was marvellous, as usual."

Jacob was home for Christmas after his first semester in college. In a vampire’s measure of time, the memories could be considered fresh - a mere 12 years ago - but they felt terribly distant to him, and each brought a small yet sharp ache, like a prickle in his mind. Although they may not show it outwardly, even people as rational as Jacob Hart resented when their world was turned upside down - and his had been, again and again, in but a short five weeks.

He recalled the taste of the pudding, now forever lost to him. This was before his mother’s illness, at a time when his parents had stopped quarreling and seemed deeply in love with each other, Jacob had got into King’s College, Quentin was finishing high school. The World of Darkness cast no shadows on the Hart family then. These were happy times.

His parents had been overall supportive of his choice to pursue an academic carreer, and one in mathematics at that. His father in particular seemed to be wholeheartedly proud of Jacob’s progress, and beyond that, even relieved. Jacob could not know why then. His mother had her natural concern for the son’s future…

"You know, I was looking into the Computer Science courses in Oxford, Jacob, and some subjects seem to match those you are having now. I believe that with your high grades you could switch courses without even losing a year, should you so want…"

"Mother, please don’t go that way. I have told you often I am pleased with my choice. College has been great so far."

"Yes I know, dear, but you never know what tomorrow may bring… if you should ever feel unhappy about your choice, promise me you’ll consider this."

"Of course, mother."

Sitting across the table facing Jacob, his father said nothing, only smiled… while Quentin helped himself to more pudding.

Jacob realized now the reason for his father’s happiness, pride, and relief about his choice. He also realized how that reason had since fallen to pieces. The protective world his father had seen him walk into had shattered around him, and only the World of Darkness remained. He had been drawn into it even deeper than his father. Would Edward ever be proud of him again? How could a mortal father take pride in his vampire son? How could he even begin to understand?

As he parked the Aston Martin, Jacob began to realize the true question was how could he take pride in himself. He had the eternity of time to achieve self-fulfillment in the World of Darkness - but that did not mean he could always go back in his choices. After the momentous events of the evening, he felt at a crossroads a sorts - and an instinct inside him knew he had to choose NOW what he wanted for himself. Two paths lay ahead, ever twisting and turning, but never crossing again.


Jacob turned the key in Rachel’s apartment door, walked in, and took off his coat. As he hung it, a parcel of papers fell off on the floor. Jacob picked it up. He and Ian had bought those in the Floating Market of London only recently. The writings of a vampire couple, he Nosferatu and she Gangrel, as they sought to learn the powers of their blood. With not too much time left before dawn, Jacob sat down and began to read…

The notes were by no means as organized as those in the Dracul book they had also bought, but amongst the author’s reflections, one in particular struck Jacob’s interest:

"The unique Powers of the Gangrel and Nosferatu stand out amongst the Blood for their special relation to the Beast. While other Powers relate the Beast with one or other aspect of perception - free will, pain, injury, strength, sight, trust, etc. - over which it is dominant, Protean taps the aspects of the Beast itself (Predatory, Omnipresent, Destructive, Wild, and Timeless), and Nightmare its sheerest raw power."

Predatory. Omnipresent. Destructive. Wild. Timeless. Such was the Beast within him. Such was the Raven King’s brother, whom he was obliged to hunt. Such was also his power, apparently, the power granted to him by Tom Sheffield along with the terrible curse he had been afflicted with on that fateful December night.

Did Jacob really feel it as a curse? Vampirism had allowed him to know his father better, and meet his own half-sister just when his brother seemed lost and he needed her the most. Vampirism had brought him Rachel, Sullivan, Cunningham, and the distant-but-not-forgotten Sarah. It had allowed him to walk the darkest alleys of Night London unafraid. It had made him step out of the stifling boringness of his academic life into a dog-eat-dog world where, albeit lost at times, he felt TRULY alive. Every evening that he rose from his slumber he wanted to learn more, to master more of the Beast inside him, to be a "better" vampire. He realized now that he had never felt like that before. Jacob was sure that part of the pricklings he felt whenever he remembered parts of his mortal life were due to that single undeniable fact.

He could never deny that he had never felt more alive than when he and Ian had attacked the police station, never more alive that when Sullivan had threatened to denounce the pharmacy, never more alive than when he had faced Monfort in combat, never more alive than when the Seven had proposed he join them while remaining inside the Dracul…

He felt (or thought he felt), "herein lies the answer to defeat the Beast. In order to hunt him, this is what I must understand." He read on:

"By realizing that the Beast inside him is also everywhere around him, and allowing his own caged portion of It to mix with That which is outside, a Gangrel can become one with the earth, buried, for as long as he wishes. This is strangely one of the basic powers of Protean. Higher skills allow the vampire to sprout powerful claws by tapping into the Beast’s need for destruction, or assume an animal form by tapping into Its nature as a creature of the universal wilderness."

Drawn to instant interest, Jacob glanced at the door. He remembered there was a small park just outside Rachel’s apartment. He had but half an hour at most until the sunrise, but the lure of power - in the guise of neccessary knowledge - pulled at him all too strongly. He stood up, and looked at Rachel, lying in the bed, sleep and unaware. Jacob stood there, momentarily, between the bed and the door, between the Mortal and Vampire world, the crossroads which he must now choose. Beyond the door were the Dracul, and the Seven, and Alain, and the Raven King, and the World of Darkness in general. In bed was his father, a quiet life with his computers, maybe teaching again, some research, and Rachel’s companionship. Erika and his brother were in both paths, but entirely differently.

He headed for the door.

Maybe deep down he realized that what he was really after was Power, Power over himself and over Vampires and Mortals, like he had once had Power over mathematical equations or computers or students. Beyond all guises one finds as reasons for any course of action, lies the fundamental primeval Desire that chooses that course of action long before we acknowledge it. But as Jacob headed for the door, and in what himself was concerned, he was merely curious.

He stood in the park and remembered the same manner in which he had begun his path upon this special Discipline. The dream with the Wolf and the Bear. "The Wolf does what he must do". Yes. As a predator…

Jacob focused on the beast inside him, felt it closer, felt it attune with his surroundings.
Every tree.
Every grass.
Every bird.
Every drop of mist.
Every shadow.
The Beast was all around him, all around the park now, and he was falling, falling deep but he felt himself being lifted by that Beast who was everywhere and also beneath him. And his eyes were closed but he felt safe and protected and unafraid of the impending sunrise. He felt he was the park now, he felt every root of every tree and he felt the vibrations as a bird landed on the grass, and he felt the worm burrowing away. And all around him he felt - he saw - felt he saw - the scales and fur and horns of an incredibly large Beast, that could rip his very Soul to shreds in an instant but held him in Its coil instead. And from all around him he felt the powerful cunning gaze of two gigantic red eyes, always following him, watching atently, pure in malice and evil, the same eyes in the Wolf of his dreams…

He attempted to stand up, regain his balance, and was instantly back in the park, standing, unscathed. No proof remained that he had "become one with the earth", as the author had described. But he simply knew. And he knew that he must - for the Raven King and for himself - learn more of this Protean. He was fascinated. It seemed to him right now that no other aspect of the Vampire Blood needed studying, that one could do everything just by mastering this. And he would master it, for his father’s pride, for the Raven King, for one or other covenant or ideal or god. But above all, he would master it for himself. No matter the cost, if he had to lie, cheat or kill. Or even betray.

He rushed back into Rachel’s apartment, and barely made it into the bed as he felt the warmth of the sunrise beyond the closed windows. Quickly he fell into slumber, and called, as usual, to Benjamin…
"I have met a group of vampires who dedicate themselves to hunting your brother, Benjamin. I think they could be interesting allies in my task, and for sure they will never be our enemies. Have you ever heard of the Seven?"

Com as duas partes, este texto quase dava para dois write-ups, não? Se calhar esteve perto disso. Por isso, acho que vale 19 XPs para Jacob, o Gangrel.

No entanto, queria assinalar que nunca me passou pela cabeça o Jacob ter alguma preocupação que o pai se orgulhe dele, especialmente sabendo que o Edward compreende - talvez até melhor do que o filho - o que é a vida de um vampiro e como certamente aprecia os esforços que o Jacob tem desenvolvido. Dito de outra forma, se o nosso Gangrel estivesse, de facto, preocupado com que o pai ficasse satisfeito com a sua nova vida, teria num primeiro momento se mostrado mais disponível para os Invictus e, num segundo momento, mais receptivo aos desejos do pai para se juntar ao Sheffield. Certamente que o Jacob compreende que o Edward daria mais valor a isso do que aos pontos que ele tem a disciplinas - coisa sobre o qual ele nunca se lembrou de perguntar.

I see your point. Sim, claro - se bem que preocupar-se com o respeito do pai e tomar as decisões que o pai quer são coisas diferentes....

Nota contudo que a razão, no final, de "he would master it for his father's pride", é um artifício do Jacob para se enganar, quando o que quer na verdade é poder. Ele subconscientemente acha que precisa pela sua segurança, que o pai fica orgulhoso, que o Raven King o promove, etc...

"Maybe deep down he realized that what he was really after was Power, Power over himself and over Vampires and Mortals, like he had once had Power over mathematical equations or computers or students. Beyond all guises one finds as reasons for any course of action, lies the fundamental primeval Desire that chooses that course of action long before we acknowledge it."

Still, good point. É como disse, gostaria de ter elaborado mais sobre a relação da recordação dele no início com a conclusão final...