“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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