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TheButterflyComposer

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Even if there isn't the standard vampire/thrall thing going on, putting yourself in the power of a centuries old vampire pretty much removes your free will...not like you can say no to anything unless the capricious masters you serve happen to be amused by you on that particular day (and they may kill you later for it).
 

Bullfilter

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Suddenly breathless Martin felt the exhilaration of his duty done, of the fulfilment of His Master’s desire.
This addictive dependence is cloyingly disturbing.
Martin stood, not having realised he had knelt.
He is far gone into thraldom.
seems to imply most of his free will getting wiped out and replaced with a desperate desire to please the senior sociopath.
I felt the same vibe. This Family is really a kind of vampire Mafia organisation, with its Dons, Caporegimes, made men/women and soldiers. Bound together through supernatural forces. As if the lead up to WW2 wasn’t bad enough already!
 

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As if the lead up to WW2 wasn’t bad enough already!
With all of the vampire business, one almost forgets that this is where we’re headed! (Presumably.)

So the family have augmented their ranks, and another poor soul is bound them in servitude. There is evidently still a “real world” of sorts going on aside from the supernatural realm. No doubt little good will ever come of the two domains meeting.
 
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stnylan

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Quite. It's certainly a big change. Whether or not the specific text goes into souls, death or whatever, pretty much all vampires across all fiction tend to see becoming one as a big deal, and usually as a kind of transcendence, death or reincarnation effect rather than suffering from a disease like being a werewolf usually is.
I never like the idea of vampirism, or lycanthropy, being a disease like both are sometimes/often portrayed. Whilst, as mentioned, I am generally not a fan of the vanilla werewolves in WoD, one part I do like is that they are just "normal" families, as it were (well, normal if you discount the shapeshifting). Vampires, on the other hand, are created things. Even then though the act of creation is (usually) something determined.

Mr. Williams has saved his life (or what was left of it, anyway), though perhaps at the cost of his soul.
I think more accurately Mr Williams has had his life saved.

I fear for the boy.
Oh, I am sure he has a bright future ahead of him.

He chose... poorly.

Then again this whole "bound" malarkey seems to imply most of his free will getting wiped out and replaced with a desperate desire to please the senior sociopath. While that seems a quite terrible trade to me, if he never much valued his free will in the first place (some people don't) then perhaps it's not quite so poor a choice for him. And of course not everyone can have the equipoise in the face of death that Professor Cannerby had at the start of this work, so I can't judge the man too harshly. I can, and do, pity him though.
I do love that line.

There was this great little reflection in Chernobyl "I've known braver people than you, people who had their chance and said nothing. Because when it is you, and everyone you love, your courage vanishes. It leaves you. And all you want is not to get shot."

Even if there isn't the standard vampire/thrall thing going on, putting yourself in the power of a centuries old vampire pretty much removes your free will...not like you can say no to anything unless the capricious masters you serve happen to be amused by you on that particular day (and they may kill you later for it).
I have something more to say here, but in a more general comment below.

This addictive dependence is cloyingly disturbing.
He is far gone into thraldom.
I felt the same vibe. This Family is really a kind of vampire Mafia organisation, with its Dons, Caporegimes, made men/women and soldiers. Bound together through supernatural forces. As if the lead up to WW2 wasn’t bad enough already!
Martin is, shall we say, very comfortable with his station.

The mafia comparison does make me smile, given how that comparison crept up in my only other long-form narrative AAR (In Memory of France, link in sig)

With all of the vampire business, one almost forgets that this is where we’re headed! (Presumably.)

So the family have augmented their ranks, and another poor soul is bound them in servitude. There is evidently still a “real world” of sorts going on aside from the supernatural realm. No doubt little good will ever come of the two domains meeting.
Maybe not quite WW2 as we know it, as noted some departures have already occurred. But whilst in the game I am still only in mid-37 (playing on speed 1 to make sure I capture lots of info) I can safely say that peace did not magically break out.


All
So I have decided to steal an idea from one of my favourite writers here @JabberJock14 (who is surely not the only one who does this, but is the one I thought of) and sometimes write occasional explainers of the scene and whatnot. Part of what I am trying to do with Martin is explore the reality of his servitude. If all relationships are unique it is also true to say that all relationships echo others, sometimes more and sometimes less.

My "source material" actually had a very well regarded sourcebook, if not quite on par with some of their later books imo, on the existence of vampiric thralls (usually called ghouls in-universe, though I have thus far avoided the term - WoD terminology is very much a product of 1990s USA (for very good reasons)). Of course, in British culture of the 1930s we are still in the so-called time of deference, when concept of service were still very much present. Master-servant bonds could be very strong, in a way that is really quite alien to us not a century later. Therefore I think people of this age would find it easier to slip into this sort of role than any of here would, for example. Easier not meaning easy, of course.

In terms of vampire-thrall relationships though through Albert I hope to be giving a view of it from the other side of the divide. Though Albert is probably not a good example of a "typical" master.

We also here have a concrete linkage between Albert and Martin - Albert met Darius in Chapter 1.1 (which is 2 months away in real-time, amazingly enough)

I hope to get the next update up towards the end of the week.
 
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Le Jones

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I have to confess that a lot of the Vampire stuff is completely lost on me; I had enough on my plate keeping up with ST TNG and DS9 as a teenager and never really took to 'horror' (which arguably this isn't, but is routinely brigaded with it) so the more explanatory material the better (from my POV!). What I will say is that this is consistently well written and very intriguing, one is 'drawn in' by your characterisation.
 

stnylan

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I have to confess that a lot of the Vampire stuff is completely lost on me; I had enough on my plate keeping up with ST TNG and DS9 as a teenager and never really took to 'horror' (which arguably this isn't, but is routinely brigaded with it) so the more explanatory material the better (from my POV!). What I will say is that this is consistently well written and very intriguing, one is 'drawn in' by your characterisation.
I suppose the classic genre for vampire is the gothic. Something of the Castle of Otranto, long before Bram Stoker ever put ink to paper. And besides, I tend not to like "horror" as a modern genre. Of course I might be missing out, I stopped watching it at university. But then it almost seems shallow, especially compared to what can be portrayed in other stories of which horror is but a part, but more powerful thereby.

And thank you for the compliments.
 
Chapter 1.12 - Albert VII

stnylan

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Chapter 1.12 - Albert VII

The rain patters on the glass of the window. The gentle staccato of precipitation marks time to the murmuring of conversation from my fellow celebrants at tonight’s gala. My Lord is not present - Lady Anne is our host tonight, and occupies the Regent’s Seat on the dais. Over thirty of my kind are here - and whilst few will stay all night by the time the gala ends an hour before dawn a goodly majority of our population in London will have been present. I always attend. These are the only formal social events I count as pleasures.

An unofficial sorting has, as usual, taken place. On one side gather those who consider themselves more refined, civilised beings. On the other cluster creatures who might have a word or two to say about what refinement and civilisation actually mean. It is the current echo in a very ancient debate. Then there is the question of how close or far away one chooses to be from the dais, and why. Thus it is that Antony has a place at the table on the disreputable side, but very close to the seat of power. Henri is freer: his role as envoy allows him more movement - literally so - but he always returns to the same general area about half-way down the room amongst those who consider themselves superior. The youngsters, both less certain and less constrained, throng in the middle portion of the hall, through not too close to the dais.

It is a fascinating dance that I observe from my oriel at the far end of the hall exactly opposite the throne, and therefore in the centre ground.

The outer walls are lined by silent figures - conditioned vessels who are our fare tonight. In most venues my Lord will permit the fiction of the goblet, the crimson wine - but not here. Here he offers hospitality according to elder lore. There is nothing coarse, nothing depraved. The vessels are modestly attired, in muted shades designed not to attract attention - but one always knows they are there. If one attends one is expected to appreciate my Lord’s offerings, and in the expanse of this hall there is nowhere to hide. Less notorious than the fevered whispers in foreign Courts, and yet altogether more terrifying. The customs of yesteryear brought into the modern night. It is the Blood Court of London, in its second hour, and I will see the whole night through.

I notice Dara surrounded by a small group of beings younger than he, talking, laughing, almost at ease with each other. One seems quieter, a face I do not immediately recognise. This one offers a comment now and then, but his smile is tight, and fleeting. From Dara’s glances it is clear he is aware of his companion’s uncertainty. In between everything else I keep my eye on them, and Dara notices. He offers me a quick grin. I nod in return, and let my eyes wander further. Henri is approaching Lady Anne, an associate in tow. In the hall, to my right, the Anarch Fowler tells a loud joke to his little entourage of followers, and they all cackle obligingly.

Dara disengages himself from his group, leading the new face towards me. The remainder start a furious bout of whispering. I beckon to the bench opposite, but Dara shakes his head, though he does prod the newcomer to sit. Dara stands over him, comfortable and confident in whatever this is about.

“Sorry to bother you Guv,” Dara says, “but this here is Nathaniel, newly arrived from Liverpool. Was introduced whilst you were away. He’s come to the Water a time or two.”

Which is, at least, part of why Dara has chosen to introduce him to me. “And what brings you to London, Nathaniel?”

“Ah,” Nathaniel starts, stops, and continues, “I had to leave … said I did something which I didn’t.” Unexpectedly he flushes. I look at Dara.

“Was picked on by a group of centurions, he decided it was better to flee,” Dara explains.

“Is that right?” I ask

“I … suppose so, Sir, yes. In essence.”

“One of yours, Dara?” Dara shrugs.

“I don’t know sir,” Nathaniel answers, “never knew my sire.”

“Which no doubt made you easy prey for some bored louts,” I observe. “Why London?”

“I knew someone here, hoped he could help me.”

“Victor Melhuish,” Dara supplied. Well, Victor did some travel at the behest of his sire. “Victor helped present him, and he was told to attend tonight. But Nathaniel here, well guv he’s a bit intimidated, and last night at the Water he asked for my advice on how to handle the whole -” he takes a moment to wave his hand at the vessels, “- business here. So I told him to talk to you, given you are one of the few I know who actually seem to ever relax at one of these. Hope I’m not taking advantage…” Dara lapses into silence.

I smile, regarding Nathaniel. He cuts an unassuming form, maybe my height or a little less, a neatly cut covering of brown hair on his head. He is holding his hands together, the fingers interlaced, his thumbs rapidly tapping as his green eyes stare towards the floor, only occasionally flicking up to look at me.

“No,” I say quietly, “you are not.” I look at Nathaniel a little longer, and then shift myself so I am leaning forwards towards him. “Tell me, Nathaniel, do you wish my advice? I will give it, if you desire - truly desire - the consequences.”

“What … consequences?” Nathaniel asks.

“I do not know.”

Nathaniel jerks his head to look at Dara. “I told you,” Dara says evenly, “that whilst Lord Albert can help you, he’s remarkably honest for one his age.”

I flash Dara a quick, tight, but honest smile. “I do not know you, Nathaniel, so I cannot say. But even now you are being observed. So far you talking to me might be a polite social gesture, engineered by Dara here, by someone who frequents the Water. Go further, and you will cease to be just a clanless neonate refugee exhibiting uncommon social grace, to be a known associate of, well, Dara can probably tell you better than I of how I am described.”

For the first time Nathaniel looks straight at me and holds my gaze. “He did. He told me you were the strangest elder he ever knew, or heard of. He told me … things. I … suppose I do … want … want to be something … else.”

“Leave us Dara,” I say, “but ask if Annabelle is yet taken. If she is not, her and someone as fresh as possible. Let us see if I can help Nathaniel partake of my Lord’s hospitality.”

Dara nods, and steps aside. Nathaniel tracks his movement a moment, until I ask, “How do you usually feed.”

Nathaniel looks down, and then at me, “Animals,” he murmurs.

“Why?”

“To take someone … against their will, I fear … I fear what I might do.”

“And well you should.” I lean back, and whilst Nathaniel’s speech might still be hesitant his back is now a little straighter. “But you will never master yourself if you do not face it, and tonight … ah,” I pause a moment as I note two women approach. “Tonight I can offer a safer experience.”

Nathaniel looks to where my gaze is, and sees them just before them stand before us. The servitor behind them leaves as I signal his dismissal with a wave of my hand. “This,” I say, pointing to the older of the pair, “is Annabelle. She is one of the longest serving of my Lord’s current vessels, would you not say Annabelle?”

“Yes, Master Albert,” she replies, the Black Country imprinted on her speech.

“Whereas I have not seen the other, your name is?” I ask the younger - much younger - woman.

“Jane,” she whispers an answer.

“It’s her first night, Master Albert,” Annabelle says, “she’s just shy.”

“Indeed. Well, Annabelle, it so happens my companion here is a little shy himself. Thinks you are forced to this life.”

Nathaniel looks at me, mouth agape.

“Is that not true?” I ask him.

“Um, yes, but - you talk…” he closes his mouth, and thinks. “I don’t understand.”

“Exactly,” I say. “Annabelle, how came you to this service?”

The older woman turned to Nathaniel, and held his gaze. “I was about Jane’s age here, and I was hunted, and fed from. When I came to, I knew I wanted that experience again. I did not know … stuff, of course. But I asked questions, silly questions, nearly got myself killed, but didn’t, and after wasting about eighteen months was asked a question myself, to which I said yes. Nearly thirty years ago.”

“Annabelle is one of the older vessels, but her story is not that unusual amongst my Lord’s stable. Even this young thing is here because she would rather be here than elsewhere. Am I right Jane?”

“Yes,” she answers.

“Have you ever had your mind played with?” I ask Nathaniel.

He hangs his head a moment, and then straightens, “Yes.”

“Willingly?”

“No!” he says, quickly.

I smile. “That is a tale for another time, but know this - those who open themselves to dominion can be made to the crafter’s needs like a potter shapes clay - but only if they wish to be the vessel that is being made. Try to turn a person in a jug when all they want to be is a plate, and cracks will soon appear.”

Jane continues to look with no expression, but Annabelle smiles.

“Now, onto practical matters, there is no need to make this dramatic. Annabelle, Jane, and the others here are willing vessels. New ones - like Jane I am sure - have their terror controlled and taken away from them. Older ones, like Annabelle, barely require any attention.” I notice Nathaniel has closed his eyes.

“Well, perhaps a little ceremony, for your first Blood Court.” I grin, “Do you Annabelle, consent to be the source of young Master Nathaniel’s sustenance tonight, to be bitten, to be fed from, to be food?” Nathaniel’s eyes are open again.

“I do,” she says instantly, a hunger in her own eyes.

“And do you, Nathaniel, agree to feed from this vessel, under my supervision?”

“I, ah, ah, yes,” he manages “Umm,” he makes no move.

“The practical - nothing obscene. Jane, your arm please.” The vessel steps up to me and holds out her left arm. I turn it over, exposing its underside. “The trick is not to make a fuss, like so,” I say. I bend over the wrist, my fangs extending and they plunge into her flesh. She gasps, a catch of her breath as I consume her offering, followed by some rapid pants. First time.

After what seems like too short a moment I withdraw my head, my tongue caressing the marks I leave behind which immediately begin to heal. Another shuddering breath from the vessel. I draw out a handkerchief and dab my lips, and then wipe Jane’s wrist. “And all done. Now you,”

“Um,” Nathaniel hesitates, but Annabelle steps up.

“Young Master, let me help you,” she says. Kneeling down in front of him, she touches his shoulder, and then the back of his head and draws him down to her neck. I watch, and I see him tense - but she whispers to him. He goes slack, and then he too samples my Lord’s gift. I think perhaps he had fed poorly, for he drinks more deeply. I signal a servitor. There is more though - something relaxes as he feeds. There is no sense of gluttony, and nothing as obscene as lust, but something more … he begins to draw back. Annabelle's mouth is curved in the wide loose smile, and her eyes are half-lidded in pure bliss.

“Thank you, Master,” she offers as she levers herself to her feet, holding tight onto the wall. Two servitors appear. One gently propels Jane away. The other goes to Annabelle. She bats a guiding arm away, turning to Nathaniel. “Please ask for me again,” she says, and then leans in against the servitor who guides her out of the room.

I pass a handkerchief over to Nathaniel, who tidies himself.

“How do you feel now?” I ask.

“Fine,” he says, strongly. He smiles broadly, “I never knew…”

“Of course you didn’t,” I say. “Abandoned, left to survive as best you might. Tonight … you have done well. Tell, Nathaniel, you said you wanted to become something else. What?”

“I don’t want to always be afraid. But I don’t want to turn into a monster. I want to be my own person. “

“Well, you have already begun to walk that road. I might even be able to help you. I am about to go away for a time, but when I return - if you are still walking the night - we should talk again. If you wish it.”

“If?” he queries.

I move my hand in a gesture encompassing the gathered throng. “They have all seen you partake of my Lord’s gift with me. You can be sure you are about to hear a lot of stories about me. When I come back you may think you have supped with a devil.”

“And are you, a devil?” he asked, the thrill of feeding still lending him a confidence that is not yet truly his.

“I am a Satrap of Lord Mithras. Remember that, when you listen to any tales. For now though enjoy the rest of the Court. And remember what Annabelle asked - her favour is not lightly bestowed.”

He looks at me a moment more, rises, and leaves me once again alone. I look across at the dais and see Lady Anne returning my gaze. She has, of course, been watching. Sitting as I am I place my hands one atop the other on my chest and bow in her direction. It is the Blood Court of London, now in its third hour, and I am truly enjoying myself.
 
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Specialist290

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“Indeed. Well, Annabelle, it so happens my companion here is a little shy himself. Thinks you are forced to this life.”

Nathaniel looks at me, mouth agape.

“Is that not true?” I ask him.

“Um, yes, but - you talk…” he closes his mouth, and thinks. “I don’t understand.”

“Exactly,” I say. “Annabelle, how came you to this service?”

The older woman turned to Nathaniel, and held his gaze. “I was about Jane’s age here, and I was hunted, and fed from. When I came to, I knew I wanted that experience again. I did not know … stuff, of course. But I asked questions, silly questions, nearly got myself killed, but didn’t, and after wasting about eighteen months was asked a question myself, to which I said yes. Nearly thirty years ago.”

“Annabelle is one of the older vessels, but her story is not that unusual amongst my Lord’s stable. Even this young thing is here because she would rather be here than elsewhere. Am I right Jane?”

“Yes,” she answers.
I smile. “That is a tale for another time, but know this - those who open themselves to dominion can be made to the crafter’s needs like a potter shapes clay - but only if they wish to be the vessel that is being made. Try to turn a person in a jug when all they want to be is a plate, and cracks will soon appear.”
There is something I find very unsettling about this exchange here. These thralls say they are participating in this affair willingly, and may even believe it on some level themselves -- but can they really say that they entered into this arrangement entirely of their own free will? Their situation seems uncannily like that of someone in a codependent abusive relationship, or an addict in the midst of withdrawal with an insatiable craving for their next fix; this smacks almost more of a surrender to a compulsion, a "choice" made under circumstances where the individual's mental state makes any apparent consent seem quite dubious.

Of course, similar means and methods of control aren't all that unusual for cults and conspiracies in general...
 

DensleyBlair

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This update perhaps opened up more of this nighttime world than I had been able to glean up to now, and (perhaps accordingly) it was also one of the more unsettling passages. The way in which Lord Albert (and he is not alone in this) manages to make himself seem entirely reasonable while exploiting some pretty shady relationship dynamics is, needless to say, a little stomach churning.

Of course, Albert does say to beware stories that he is a devil. One wonder by what parameters exactly he might be able to escape such a charge.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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As soon as a work or world indicates mind control or reality warping in any way, everything is suspect, especially social relations.

Makes the vampires more insidious as a society and as individuals.
 

Nikolai

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This young man is walking a dangerous road, but, perhaps, one he is no longer able to avoid. Or ever was.
 

Bullfilter

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There is nothing untoward or unsettling going on here. Everything is fine. Relax in your plush, comfortable chair. All we are doing is telling a little story. What possible harm could there be in that? ;)
 
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El Pip

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Of course, Albert does say to beware stories that he is a devil. One wonder by what parameters exactly he might be able to escape such a charge.
He never actually denies the charge, or that the stories are untrue. I think Albert has enough self awareness to know he is indeed a devil, even if his work is made easier by maintaining some ambiguity and mystery around exactly what it is he has or has not done.
 

DensleyBlair

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He never actually denies the charge, or that the stories are untrue. I think Albert has enough self awareness to know he is indeed a devil, even if his work is made easier by maintaining some ambiguity and mystery around exactly what it is he has or has not done.
To be clear, I’m not saying he denies the charge. I’m just interested to see how the system lies so that there could possibly be any ambiguity in the matter. (The answer to which presumably goes something along the lines of, They're all vampires.)
 

El Pip

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To be clear, I’m not saying he denies the charge. I’m just interested to see how the system lies so that there could possibly be any ambiguity in the matter. (The answer to which presumably goes something along the lines of, They're all vampires.)
I suspect any ambiguity would come from the deniability. The deeds in the tales will be agreed to be Devilish, but no-one will know for sure if the tale is an exaggeration and who, if anyone, carried the deeds out. There will be rumours Albert did foul things certainly, but there will be no definite witness (none who survive anyway) and Albert does not strike me as the type to make confessions or boast of his doings.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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To be clear, I’m not saying he denies the charge. I’m just interested to see how the system lies so that there could possibly be any ambiguity in the matter. (The answer to which presumably goes something along the lines of, They're all vampires.)
They're all vampires.
 
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stnylan

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There is something I find very unsettling about this exchange here. These thralls say they are participating in this affair willingly, and may even believe it on some level themselves -- but can they really say that they entered into this arrangement entirely of their own free will? Their situation seems uncannily like that of someone in a codependent abusive relationship, or an addict in the midst of withdrawal with an insatiable craving for their next fix; this smacks almost more of a surrender to a compulsion, a "choice" made under circumstances where the individual's mental state makes any apparent consent seem quite dubious.

Of course, similar means and methods of control aren't all that unusual for cults and conspiracies in general...
Well, I would be surprised if it wasn't unsetting, considering the implications. There is meant to be an addictive tone to Annabelle's situation. She was fed from, nearly killed, and has (to a greater or lesser extent) chosen to be food. Yet, between her and Nathaniel, I very much feel that she had the power, and confidence and even pride in her position.

This update perhaps opened up more of this nighttime world than I had been able to glean up to now, and (perhaps accordingly) it was also one of the more unsettling passages. The way in which Lord Albert (and he is not alone in this) manages to make himself seem entirely reasonable while exploiting some pretty shady relationship dynamics is, needless to say, a little stomach churning.

Of course, Albert does say to beware stories that he is a devil. One wonder by what parameters exactly he might be able to escape such a charge.
Whilst through Martin's eyes we have seen the work of a lackey (of a highly prized one) through Albert we have so far seen little fragments of this world. However, apart from the odd touch here and there Albert's various conversations are just that - plots and plans. This was meant to be somewhat more definitely (perhape inescapably) vampiric. He talks to Nathaniel and Dara from a position of power, he refers to the two vessels as that - not people.

As to devilry - see below.

As soon as a work or world indicates mind control or reality warping in any way, everything is suspect, especially social relations.

Makes the vampires more insidious as a society and as individuals.
Very much so. Well, as mentioned far earlier I regard a society surrounded and steeped in secrets would essentially not be a nice society to be in - this is another (if supernatural) element of the same.

This young man is walking a dangerous road, but, perhaps, one he is no longer able to avoid. Or ever was.
Nathaniel had very few choices in this world, given the hand he was dealt.

There is nothing untoward or unsettling going on here. Everything is fine. Relax in your plush, comfortable chair. All we are doing is telling a little story. What possible harm could there be in that? ;)
None whatsoever :)

He never actually denies the charge, or that the stories are untrue. I think Albert has enough self awareness to know he is indeed a devil, even if his work is made easier by maintaining some ambiguity and mystery around exactly what it is he has or has not done.
To be clear, I’m not saying he denies the charge. I’m just interested to see how the system lies so that there could possibly be any ambiguity in the matter. (The answer to which presumably goes something along the lines of, They're all vampires.)
I suspect any ambiguity would come from the deniability. The deeds in the tales will be agreed to be Devilish, but no-one will know for sure if the tale is an exaggeration and who, if anyone, carried the deeds out. There will be rumours Albert did foul things certainly, but there will be no definite witness (none who survive anyway) and Albert does not strike me as the type to make confessions or boast of his doings.
They're all vampires.
Yes, they are indeed all vampires. A certain degree of spilled claret comes with the territory, as it were. And the longer one is around, the more the red stuff will be flung about. Oh, one could always choose not to play, as it were. To decide that continuing is not worth it, and seek an ending. But existence is a habit that is hard to break, and even humans will go to quite tremendous lengths to survive (both good and bad). What then a vampire? But, of course, there are degrees, and Albert has his position...

I think @El Pip is correct in that Albert generally keeps matters to himself. I mean, to whom could he talk? I think though that he does know the value of a reputation. I also see this as a society where information is rarely freely given. As Albert mentioned to Fagin - Fagin remembered Nora, as if quite a few wouldn't know. They might have heard rumour, but not have been present.

All
The "Vampire Ball" is something of a stereotype, but I think it is a stereotype for a reason. A grand social soireé with crimson everpresent, it is a delicious formulation. Though actually would be regarded as quite decadent in universe, as hinted. I also wanted to add something just more vampiric than Albert's conversations. As mentioend elsewhere I think, Chapter 1 has partly been me getting used to some aspects of my characters, and this one has been very useful as I have worked on it to develop Albert's perspective.

I am now on annual leave for a fortnight, and am actually spending a few nights away with my daughter at the end of this week. Also had an excellent, if restrained, birthday. To give a sample (at the risk of sounding terminally dull) the highlight was what I suppose one should really call a High Tea in my mother's garden at 1600 yesterday involving sandwiches and rolls (egg mayo, ham, salmon & cream cheese), fresh scones and clotted cream (jam on first, as is only proper), and cake.

Anyways, the next update will probably happen next week on account of the holiday and days away.
 
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Bullfilter

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How very delightfully English a way to celebrate one’s birthday! Far more wholesome company and fare than Albert was experiencing. Better jam than claret! :D
 
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Le Jones

Protect and Survive
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Whilst through Martin's eyes we have seen the work of a lackey (of a highly prized one) through Albert we have so far seen little fragments of this world. However, apart from the odd touch here and there Albert's various conversations are just that - plots and plans. This was meant to be somewhat more definitely (perhape inescapably) vampiric. He talks to Nathaniel and Dara from a position of power, he refers to the two vessels as that - not people.
I think that you're balancing it very stylishly - it occasionally feels Godfather-esque, and then you drop in something utterly supernatural (although invariably delicately done). Very compelling.

I am now on annual leave for a fortnight, and am actually spending a few nights away with my daughter at the end of this week. Also had an excellent, if restrained, birthday. To give a sample (at the risk of sounding terminally dull) the highlight was what I suppose one should really call a High Tea in my mother's garden at 1600 yesterday involving sandwiches and rolls (egg mayo, ham, salmon & cream cheese), fresh scones and clotted cream (jam on first, as is only proper), and cake.
Well that sounds lovely. Have a wonderful break @stnylan - recharge those batteries!