Modern Times

From London Requiem

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By the start of the 20th century, we might recognise much of kindred society as it exists today. The authoritarian centre of trade in the City of London, disparate areas of greater or lesser influence throughout the wider city for different Covenants. Lucius remained Lord Mayor, the Lancea Sanctum sought leadership for their reduced numbers.

The biggest change in the kindred demographic of London occurred following the publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897. The Ordo Dracul, a solid but quiet grouping in the 18th century, and near hidden in the 19th, suddenly saw their numbers explode. London found itself inundated with younger kindred, suddenly intrigued by the beliefs of the Ordo Dracul, and a significant number of kindred who had not been seen for years also made their presence known. Indeed, many previously Unaligned kindred began to claim membership of the covenant, and the coterie of "Circle of the Crone" led by Astrid Graves also appeared to switch allegiance.

Perhaps even more interesting is the suggestion that Stoker was not entirely unknowledgeable about the existence of kindred, and that his book was not entirely a fiction. Whether the rumours of sightings of Vlad Tepes in London around this time were provoked by some over active imaginations, or were events Stoker used in his books is a subject open to debate.

Though the increased numbers of Ordo Dracul offered an increase in influence, they were also younger, less educated in the true ways of the Covenant, their interest based on a novel. Some elders attempted to educate the newcomers, others withdrew from their company. Many of the newcomers were tourists, for want of a better word, their stay brief. Others remained, however, entranced by the new legend, and at the very least their numbers created a dominance for the Covenant within the East End of London. Their presence so close to the City of London caused a dilemma for Lucius, who perhaps feared a threat to his power base. He met with an Ordo Dracul named Brandon, apparently senior within the covenant in London, and it was announced that the Invictus had reached an agreement with the Ordo Dracul;

  • The Ordo Dracul agreed not to involve themselves in the politics of the City of London or seek influence which might threaten the Invictus.
  • The Ordo Dracul agreed to reside some distance away from the centre of London.
  • It was agreed that the Dragon would deal with matters of discipline among their own.

The agreement seemed to calm any tensions, and the members of the Ordo Dracul largely vacated the East End, with many moving towards the north of the city.

The first and second world wars were a time of less upheaval for kindred than for mortals. The Blitz, it is true, caused numerous problems for individuals - and a number of kindred were lost in the bombing raids - but it was by no means as devastating as the Great Fire had been. In some ways the Blitz allowed kindred a return to the old ways - street lights were doused, a death could be easily hidden - the many things that kindred had to learn to maintain the masquerade could, for a short time at least, be to some extent unlearnt. Of course the wars had great impact on individuals, but on kindred society as a whole in the city it had a surprisingly light touch.

Of a greater impact were the decades following the war. The Invictus found that as Britain's Empire crumbled, so did the influence of the City of London. More slowly, perhaps - it remains an important centre for the kindred population to this day - but as the Port of London declined and London no longer acting as such an international hub, Lucius and his supporters could do little more than maintain control and wait for developments. The 1980s were better, the expansion of global financial markets re-established the Square Mile as an international centre. It was a new kind of power though, and some older kindred found it difficult to adapt.

The 1960s and 1970s were a time for the Crone and the Unaligned. New ideas and new fashions changed city life so that it became unrecognisable. Numbers of the Circle of the Crone exploded in the 1960s, though how strongly held this interest was among many of its ostensible members is open to debate. Certainly a large number of young kindred claimed allegiance to the Covenant without showing great signs of seeking deeper knowledge within it. Camden became their centre, and it is perhaps a sign of their fickleness that many of those who made it their home in the 1960s are no longer to be found. Indeed, since the 1970s Camden now seems to be a growing centre of more specific occult and voodoun beliefs, led by a kindred named Father Gabriel Montoya and his coterie, with the kindred presence more closely linked to the immigrant population than the New Agers of the 1960s. Gabriel has managed to gain a relatively significant amount of control over the area, at least to the extent that visitors to Camden might be advised to offer a courtesy call.

What few Carthians remained in London also grabbed hold of the changes in society in the 1960s and 1970s, becoming more anarchic in their beliefs. Tensions grew with the remaining centre of formal authority, and indeed for three years between 1971 and 1974 the Covenant was all but banned from the City of London. Numbers of the Unaligned grew, though even within this group (if it can be called such) there was some division between a loose coterie of those who claimed a strong allegiance to London as a city, and those who were considered outsiders. This division remains to this day.

The 20th century saw a growth in the number of kindred of ethnic minorities, in a greater disparity of beliefs and attitudes. The collapse of traditional social structures within Britain as a whole led to tension between the younger kindred who had no experience of the sometimes more formal and traditional nature of vampiric society. Yet numbers continued to grow, and as we reach the present we find London a city with the largest kindred population in Europe. They have had to learn to change their behaviour to deal with increased surveillance in recent years, but they do so. The Invictus remain strong in the City, Lucius still rules, though once more its influence seems to be waning. The rest of the city exists in an ever changing form. Covenants maintain influence in different areas, as they have historically done so - the Ordo Dracul in Cockfosters and to some extent in Tower Hamlets, Gabriel and his coterie in Camden, but none claims wider domain. It is a city full of life, and of change, and power within the kindred society alters within historical boundaries.

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