Deep within the Lincolnshire countryside.
Baylor stood watch from just outside the grove while their horses were tethered in a thicket a to the south. Hans had brought his own saddlebags with him to the ancient clearing in which he now stood. He remembered, when this was a place of power, before William’s arrival. Druids had consecrated it as a grove at the behest of Lycans. Now, the oaks would tower over the mast of any ship of the line, but without Lycans or Druids to tend them, the trees had sickened. If Siguardson’s research proved correct, once felled, this sickly grove would provide Hans with the heartswood that he needed.
In these most recent nights, Hans rarely ventured forth in this fashion. Baylor was nominally more active, having traveled to the Americas, and Canton for his own affairs. Hans had focused upon hiding his powerbase in plain sight. A Lasombra amidst the most powerful Ventrue realm, seemingly loyal and antitribu. Yet, Mithras lay in slumber once again, and in his sleep the ancient’s lands had become restless with growth. This in turn affected the world at large, for their was no greater power than the British, and in their growing empire, no power greater than Mithras. Proof of this was shown by how deeply the Treaty of Nanking took the headlines and attention of the mortals and Cainites alike. The world seemed under British control, and Mithras’ servants were always at the forefront, though not always carrying out the exact orders that they had been given by the ancient. His hold was slipping.
With over eight centuries of perspective he could now see that events had become cyclical. There was a natural ebb and flow to the world, one that even a mortal could detect if they looked closely enough. He had seen it in the black forest during the renaissance. Wolves would hunt their prey to near extinction, only to find themselves hunted by humans. Nearly wiped out, the remaining wolves would move into the deeper woods and whelp pups. In that time, hare and deer would return in force, and the cycle would begin again. The Cainite world was no different, the duration of the cycles was merely longer.
A Cainite would beget Childer if they were powerful enough. The Childer rose in power if they were deserving, and in time they would embrace in turn. With their own Childer under their control, the strongest would overthrow the weakest elders, and take their place. He had seen this thrice already, and soon it would happen again. As he settled his saddlebags upon the ground, he mused over his own line. It now ran further than he had intended, and like this grove it must be culled. So many years ago, his own Childer’s efforts had bore fruit in ways that he had not imagined at the time. That had taken both time and secrecy.
Focusing his vitae, Hans summoned forth several tendrils of shadow at the base of each tree in the grove. They would serve as his silent billhooks. No rapport of axes would echo throughout the night. The grove would merely fall in silence, seemingly from a force within.
Baylor approved of what he intended, but his closest companion still did not understand why he must do this. He merely accepted it. Tonight he would begin to silently cull the rot from this grove and then collect what he needed. Then from his line, then from Baylor’s line. In time they each hoped to continue culling, each from his own Clan, leaving only the strongest to grow.