Ottawa By Night
Charles de Rohan
A serpent in the Camarilla's garden.
Charles is a Setite who has infiltrated the city of Ottawa while pretending to be a member of clan Ventrue.
Charles secretly aids The Followers of Set while also exercising influence over the local Catholic diocese.
CHARLES: If you read the biography of Hercule Mériadec de Rohan, Prince of Guéméné and Duke of Montbazon, you will see that he had many children, three girls and four boys. Some of them died in the revolution. Others, they died of old age. One girl, Marie Louise, it is said she died in infancy. She did not. And I know this because she is my twin. Of me, you will find no mention at all.
We were born in July of 1728, the result of Hercule Mériadec’s celebration the previous October. His father had died, leaving him to inherit the title of Duke of Montbazon and bestow the title of Prince of Guéméné on my older brother, Jules. His celebration with maman, well, it led to my sister and me. As the second son, I was, of course, expected to become a priest, and I did, I did. But something happened along the way and it diverted the outcomes of everything that my life had been.
ANTOINE: We had our eye on the House of Rohan for many, many years. They invariably gave an indifferent second son to service in the Church, and a Churchman was what we wanted. The indifference helped immensely. Their ancient close ties with Scotland imbued them, on occasion, with a glorious red hair that doubly caught our attention. We spoke to Hercule regarding his second son, Charles Xavier Louis de Rohan, in 1738, when the boy’s extreme personal charm and magnetism became apparent. Hercule told us no. Us! We decided we would take both of them.
CHARLES: My sister and I were educated side-by-side because we were twins, we were inseparable. It was quite unusual for a girl at that time to be educated with a boy in this way, but our combined will was stronger than maman and Father was, at this time, tres genial, a good-humored man full of largesse. When my sister would turn her large brown eyes to him, he could deny her nothing. Our tutor was an old Jesuit, a man called Victoire. He taught us our letters and the classics and to cipher.
One glorious day at the end of May in the year of our Lord 1740, we pleaded with Victoire to let us study in the gardens. Prevailing, we ran and skipped into the hedgerows and meadows, finally stopping near the orchard. Victoire finally bustled up, puffing and warm in his black cassock. He scolded us, and we laughed at him, gently mocking him, or at least we pretended it was gentle. We settled him, and began reading our lessons to him, and in the cool shade of an apple tree, Victoire fell quite asleep.
Marie Louise and I, of course, slipped away into the orchard. It was too beautiful a day for books! Marie Louise was too beautiful for books. Her hair was the darkest auburn, in the house it looked almost brown, but in the sun it burst into a glorious spun-metal sheen, curls cascading around her face and its few scattered freckles as we ran through the trees. We took care to keep quiet — at first. Soon our romping and chasing about became boisterous and loud and we heard the voice of Victoire calling after us, scolding again, calling us back to our lessons, but we ran further into the orchard and, clasping hands, looked at each other in a moment of pure and complete joy. I remember that moment well, as it was the last such moment I ever had.
Marie Louise stumbled, and cried out, and a small viper slithered off from under her skirts as she fell, arms outstretched to catch herself. She wept and whimpered as we pulled up her skirts to check the small bite, which was already beginning to swell and turn red. Charles, she implored me, help me, it hurts! I tried to pick her up, but I was not much larger than she myself. Screaming for Victoire I ran from Marie Louise’s side, which I regret to this day, for she died alone. By the time I found Victoire and returned, the venom of the adder had done its work and her body had swollen. Her face was so swollen her tongue protruded, and she had lost control of her bowels and bladder.
I fell by her side, shrieking in alarm and panic and pain and anguish. Victoire could not remove me. It took a long time for him to return from the house with Father and a retinue of men to help. The entire time he was gone, I held my dear twin and prayed for God to take me as well. I prayed for the return of the viper. I begged my sister to forgive me. When they tried to take her away from me, I quite lost my mind.
I am not sure I have found it since.
ANTOINE: At the lavish funeral of the girl, Marie Louise, which had to be with a closed casket due to her terrible appearance, I stood, heavily cloaked in spite of the weather, a servant with a dark parasol over me. I stood in the edges of notice and made sure that Hercule saw me, so that when I visited him that night he was not surprised. He did not look up as he sat at his fire with a large glass of wine. I told him which school to which he would send the boy. His head dropped lower still and he wept.
CHARLES: I was sent away, then, to school with the Jesuits, as was Victoire. Daily I saw his face. Daily he scolded me for causing her death. I accepted his words; I believed them myself. Maman would write short letters giving me the family news. Father I never heard from again. He sired three other sons who served in the military and who had his favor as they became priests and rose to positions of wealth and power in the Church in France. Me, I was sent to Nouvelle-Orléans. That was in 1757, one of the last things Father ever ordered.
I had been serving at the Église Saint-Louis as a curate for several years when the Spanish arrived, bringing with them, in 1774, Antonio de Sedella, the Capuchin monk who served as the leading religious authority of the Catholic Church in New Orleans..and the officer of the Spanish Inquisition. Commonly called Père Antoine, he has become a noted figure in the culture of the city. His ghost is said to walk an alley now named for him which runs alongside the cathedral. A street and a restaurant in the quartier français are named for him.
However, that is no ghost in the alleyway. It is simply Antoine being careless. This I know because he is the one who Embraced me and made me what I am today.
ANTOINE: Charles’s beautiful insanity is that he does realize just how corrupt he really is. In France, when he was first ordained as a priest, I saw his reaction to the red-haired children upon their First Communions and Confirmations. The girls dressed as brides for Christ. As their ages fluctuated between 7 and 12, his religious ardor did not. Continually he volunteered to shepherd the children, seeking out the girls who most resembled his sister.
CHARLES: I won’t tell you what it was like to be Embraced. You were Embraced. The needs and the sickness. Père Antoine covering for me as needed while I adjusted to my new status. Teaching me the true way of the world. Teaching me to use that instinct for which of the women of the congregation would take me into their beds, and which would be better visited in their sleep. I admit, my taste for young women with red hair was… unseemly.
It took me a few years to realize that, in spite of Antoine’s warnings that I was not ready, I could have children, if of a different sort than I had always thought. Suddenly my fixation on girls who reminded me of my poor Marie Louise made sense. I could make one! A companion for me. I spent some years choosing just the right girl. I taught catechism and heard confessions and interacted with the community looking for a girl of appropriate station. I surrounded myself with brown-eyed beauties. I tasted them. I tasted the blood of many of them as they slept, and they felt only the ecstasy, and remembered Père Charles only as the kind-faced priest of Église St. Louis. The occasional bold and immoral girl with the eyes of lust, I might taste a bit more of. Or her mother. Girls like that generally are like their mothers.
ANTOINE: By sternly and adamantly warning Charles against these children, I knew I egged him on. My corruption of him was going splendidly, until the one girl came along. That damnable child.
CHARLES: When the Montcrief family moved from France to New Orleans, and I first met them all, I almost could not speak. It was autumn of 1787. They were at a special reception, given by the Spanish Colonial Governor, Esteban Miró, in their honor. M. le Montcrief was a very important merchant. Not someone who would have been of my station during my former life. He came with a gift for the Governor — his daughter, a perfect age for marrying. But the girl… ah, the girl… she was the very image of my Marie Louise. The same curls. The same large brown eyes. The same scattering of freckles across her small nose. I imagined my father or one of my other brothers having lain on the wrong side of the sheets to create her. She was fifteen and she was… perfect. Her name was Félicité, obviously, as she was a felicitous arrival for me, and only once did I almost call her Marie Louise.
Antoine told me no, I should not, could not make this girl my child. She was promised. She was protected. He knew things about her, he said, things he could not tell me, but I must not touch this girl. I would stand outside the home of this girl and watch as she brushed her hair before braiding it at her bedtime. I found myself seeking solace in the arms of the red-haired women who usually served the military. I sought any pastime to make me forget her for even a moment, but nothing worked. My freckles had faded, but looking into that face was looking in a glass as I had with my sister, and I could not leave it alone.
I began visiting her in her sleep, my hands chaste, my mouth violating her. I forced myself to limit my visits so she would not become ill from my attentions. I went without sustenance many nights to save myself for the taste of her. One night, Good Friday of the year of Our Lord 1788, I realized as I drank from her, that I had taken too much, I had taken it all. I paced the room, trying to remain quiet next to her still, cold body, then knew there was only one thing I could do. And I tore my wrist, and I gave it to her.
ANTOINE: I wonder if he would have stayed away if I had told him why? If I had told him that she was the bloodline of my sire, a fearsome woman? I wonder if he would have been able to control his urges then?
CHARLES: I had never seen a person Embraced before, so I did not know that something was wrong. Antoine arrived in the window then and saw with horror what I had done, what my blood had done. Vitae Infertile! he gasped, and pulled me away, forcing me to leave as I began screaming and wailing with the horror of being torn away a second time. He shook me like a pup and started a fire to cover what I had done and I really was not able to sense anything else for a long time.
ANTOINE: She was there. She had been watching all along. The loudest wails the night held were not his, they were hers. And when she came to me and demanded the insensate young vampire, I had no choice but to give him to her. I would not know exactly what had happened to him for more than 200 years.
CHARLES: When I regained my senses I was in a small stone box and so very thirsty I burned with it beyond even the anguish of my sister and Félicité. When footsteps approached, I tried to call out, but my throat was too parched. A metal grate banged, and a rat was dropped in with me, and I quite drained him to a husk. I starved no longer, but I was still too weak to move. And then she came, the woman whose voice would be the only one I would hear for more than 2 centuries, as she whispered to me about her bloodline, and Félicité, and how she could and would make me suffer for eternity for what I had done. I lay there, and I withered, and every so often, I would hear her voice, tormenting me through the decades that I was sure would stretch into milennia.
ANTOINE: Although I knew she had not killed my childe, I also knew that I could not beg him of her. The voodoo queen Marie Laveau became mighty with blood magic, and I was not supposed to see. I married that woman to her husband on the request of my Sire. And then, when it was thought that I was old enough, I was sent back to France. On occasion, I revisit New Orleans. It amuses me to hear them speak of my ghost in the alleyway.
Then, in August 2005, a thing happened, an extraordinary thing, a Hurricane which inundated all of New Orleans, and in its wake some chilling stories. I hurried there and found my childe. I took him back to France with me and nursed him, brought him back to some semblance of sanity, taught him what a world he had awakened to. Although he has, for the most part, stayed in France with me, doing as he is bid and learning what he is taught, there have been occasions when it was not I but he who haunted the French Quarter of New Orleans, and then I am not the ghost, either.