“Pomegranites Full and Fine” by Don Bassingthwaite

[amtap book:isbn=156504889X]

Set in the Toron­to of White Wolf’s orig­i­nal “World of Dark­ness” game cam­paign world, this nov­el is of two women, one strug­gling to for­get her vio­lent past and one try­ing to escape her vio­lent present. The fact that the first, Tan­go, is a Faerie Changeling who is pressed into search­ing for her kid­napped friend ( and fel­low Changeling ) Riley while the sec­ond, Miran­da, is a Sab­bat Vam­pire involved with a Satan­ic cult leader com­pli­cates things.

Descrip­tion: Tan­go is in trou­ble: her friend Riley is miss­ing and she’s been ordered to com­plete his assigned task of orga­niz­ing the Mid­sum­mer fes­tiv­i­ties for the Toron­to Faerie court, a task she hates. But her search for Riley will lead her into areas and encoun­ters with some of Toron­to’s vam­pires, espe­cial­ly Miranda.

Miran­da is in trou­ble: being a Sab­bat vam­pire means she should­n’t care about such pet­ty con­cerns as moral­i­ty, only pow­er, but she finds her asso­ci­a­tion with a Nephan­di mage too much even for her. The mage’s scheme to use his influ­ence to pro­voke a riot of mas­sive pro­por­tions to demon­strate his pow­er dis­gusts her, but she can’t oppose it on her own.

Toron­to is in trou­ble: the machi­na­tions of a Satan­ic cult, sense­less, ran­dom mur­ders, and an atmos­phere of fear and des­per­a­tion, all have set the nor­mal­ly sedate city into a pan­ic. No one feels safe, and ele­ments of the cult are fan­ning the flames of unrest and unreason.

Tan­go has to over­come her past and make her own peace with her­self. Miran­da has to escape her con­nec­tions with the mage in order to stop the mage and his fol­low­ers. And, with a lit­tle help from the Faerie court, stop a city-wide riot from start­ing. All in one night. And when changelings and vam­pires com­bine, the results can be very unpredictable.


Near the end of the book, Tan­go res­cues Riley, only to be unable to awak­en him from the unnat­ur­al sleep the cult leader has placed him in: the Glam­our [the mag­ick­al pow­er of Faerie] she uses to heal her­self refus­es to work on him, and the only rea­son she believes is that she some­how can­not con­nect with him to make it work. Miran­da thinks of a way around her dilemma.

… “What if you thought Riley’s body was yours?”

Tan­go stared at the vam­pire. “What? How?”

“I could hyp­no­tize you. You’ve seen stage-mes­merists make peo­ple act like they’re some­body else? If you thought you were Riley — sort of like an out-of-body expe­ri­ence — maybe you could make the Glam­our flow. A real­ly deep trance might be enough to make the con­nec­tion. It would be tricky. I’ve nev­er actu­al­ly done any­thing quite like it before.”

Tan­go con­sid­ered the idea skep­ti­cal­ly. “What would it involve?”

“A deep trance, a lot of sug­ges­tion.” Miran­da shift­ed a bit. “And you would have to trust me enough to let me do it.”

Tan­go is ini­tial­ly reluc­tant, because her trust in Miran­da was severe­ly shak­en by events ear­li­er, but for Riley’s sake she even­tu­al­ly consents.

Miran­da looked like she was about to say some­thing more, but stopped. Gen­tly, she lift­ed Tan­go up to sit on the edge of the pool table. Then she caught her gaze again. Abrupt­ly, Tan­go found her­self falling into Miran­da’s eyes. It was like div­ing into a warm swim­ming pool at night. The sen­sa­tion was com­fort­ing, embrac­ing. She did­n’t fight it. Instead she dove deep­er into the shad­ows. Miran­da was speak­ing to her, the vam­pire’s voice a dis­tant, eerie mur­mur of com­mand, encour­ag­ing her to remem­ber every­thing she knew about Riley, all of the expe­ri­ences they shared. Obe­di­ent­ly [sic], Tan­go remem­bered. The recent evening in Pan’s. Win­nipeg six years ago. Boston before that. A wild road trip in the ear­ly eight­ies. The first time they met, 1978 in Mon­tre­al. Things she’d thought she had for­got­ten: post­cards, Christ­mas gifts, tele­phone calls.

“Now,” instruct­ed Miran­da’s ghost­ly whale-song of a voice, “imag­ine all of that from Riley’s point of view.”

The imag­in­ing came eas­i­ly. Riley’s end of the tele­phone calls. Riley writ­ing post­cards. Riley laugh­ing uproar­i­ous­ly as he steered the car off the road and they went jolt­ing into the rough desert in the wilds of New Mex­i­co, with her grab­bing at his arm and yelling at him.

“Become Riley,” Miran­da said. “You are Riley. You are …”

***

“Just a lit­tle longer,” hissed the vam­pire. Riley [Tan­go] con­cen­trat­ed, the rip­ple of Glam­our becom­ing a rush.

His oth­er body opened its eyes. “Tan­go?” he asked himself.

The vam­pire smiled. She turned Riley’s head to look back into her deep, dark eyes. “Tan­go, come back.” Riley blinked.

There are oth­er episodes of direct vam­pir­ic mes­merism but this is the most inter­est­ing and most drawn-out exam­ple of the whole book.

Com­men­tary: As I expect to be spend­ing a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of my week­end attend­ing a gam­ing con­ven­tion, I thought it appro­pri­ate to write about a nov­el tak­en from a gam­ing product.

Rec­om­men­da­tion: One of the best of the solo game adap­ta­tions from White Wolf, writ­ten by Don Bass­ingth­waite and well worth seek­ing out and pick­ing up even if the read­er isn’t famil­iar with the cam­paign world. The first chap­ter of the book can be found here.

Adden­da:

  • Nephan­di mages in the “World of Dark­ness” are demon­ic mages, Satan­ic in the sense they traf­fic with dark­er pow­ers that most sane mages would rather leave alone. They’re also known for their cru­el­ty and lust for power.
  • Changelings are mag­i­cal crea­tures of Faerie from var­i­ous tra­di­tions and sys­tems from dif­fer­ent cul­tures. Riley was a pooka, a shapeshift­ing trick­ster from Celtic leg­ends; Tan­go was a knock­er, an earth-based changeling.
  • The Sab­bat is one of two vam­pire fac­tions in this cam­paign world: more anar­chis­tic and free than the Camar­il­la fac­tion, but with that free­dom also comes a lack of any social order and a strong obe­di­ence to any old­er, stronger vampire.

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