Booze in the Blood
Any story of Chicago’s Kindred begins with it’s Prince.
Born in 1823 in upstate New York, his parents christened him Maximilian Milton Macanary, naming him after his fathers Grandfather, Maximilian Henry Macanary, the firebrand preacher of New Salem, Mass. Reverend Macanary’s sermons were great epics of hell and damnation, and it was said that during the course of his five hour long services that people would faint from exhaustion and black out, only waking upon the walk back home, not remembering the wild and frenzied spells they participated in. The Reverends teen aged son was less than saintly and left town in the middle of the night one evening. When a young woman of supposed virtue soon started growing bigger in a familiar way, it was finally understood why the preachers son had fled, but James Macanary never came back to New Salem.
He kept moving, doing odd jobs and picking a few pockets until he found himself in the city of New York. Young, enterprising and with few morals, James soon made a name for himself among the saloons and houses of ill repute. He killed his first man when he was 19; stabbed him eight times over the matter of the fellows pocket book. His first murder netted James $3.47 and he spent it all in one night in a booze filled haze. His reputation as a cutter quickly grew and by the time he was 21 he had claimed to have cut, stabbed, and slashed to death over a dozen men. Unfortunately for James he never learned to control his drink, and his enemies stole upon him one night as he was passed out in stupor and slit his throat with his own knife.
In addition to killing and boozing, James enjoyed the delicacies of the flesh and had one particular favorite named Ruby, though her Christian name was Cordela Wainscott. James had spent the night with Cordela the night he died and was in fact in the bed with him when his assailants killed them, but they left her alone as gentlemen did not murder women. Cordela eventually named her son Clarence after her own father, but she never told Clarence that he was conceived in the same bed that his father was murdered in, and on the same very night.
Cordela vowed that she would raise her son in a decent and Christian manner, and as soon as she found she was pregnant she left the brothel and escaped from the city to a house upstate that sheltered young unwed mothers. The headmistress of the school was a devout and fierce woman whose mission was to save as many souls from the pits of Hell as she could and she instructed, beat, and cajoled the young women under her towards leading a better life. She worked with the pastor of the town in finding upright young gentleman that could be convinced to marry the women after they had reformed, and that’s how Cordela found a father for Clarence. John Michaelson was a fair man, hardworking and sober, but he never disguised his disgust for the boy, the product of sin and debauchery.
James had told Cordela stories of his Reverend father and she passed these on down to Clarence, the only knowledge of him that John Michaelson would allow her to retell. He forbid her from saying how they met, or what profession he was, so Clarence’s only thoughts and images of his father were of a fire and brimstone preacher somewhere up north. No matter how much Clarence tried to please his step-father, John Michaelson hated the boy and on Clarences 16th birthday he gave him a thin billfold, informed him it was the only inheritance he’d ever receive and kicked him out of the house. Cordela cried, but Michaelson was stonefaced to her pleas, and Clarence went to the only other place he knew of, a small town in Massachusetts called New Salem.
To his surprise, his grandfather was still alive and still preaching at the church. The Reverend instantly recognized the boy as familial and took the boy in, both to do his Christian duty to the needy and to determine whether the boy had inherited his fathers wicked morality. To the Reverends surprise, Clarence had weathered the spite of his step-father without malice and the kind and gentle teachings of his mother had instilled in him an upright, moral character. Having no other training or ability, Clarence fell under his grandfathers wing and soon devoted his life to the church. Parishioners were amazed at the resemblance between the two, both in their fiery orations and physical characteristics. By the time Clarence was 27 his grandfather was considering retiring and handing over the needs of his church to his prodigal grandson. Clarence was a well-respected man in the community, known as a honest dealer and plain talker, and had taken as his wife the daughter of the school marm, Sarah Macanary, né Toreken. It was the birth of his great-grandson that convinced the Reverend to step down. Though he was one of the oldest men in the town he was still hale and hearty, but he had convinced himself that it was time for Clarence to tend his own flock. The happy couple named their son Maximilian Milton Macanary after the Reverend, and the old man found himself spending more time with his great-grandson and less time at the church.
Maximilian’s baby years were bliss for his parents and great grandfather. The child was the scion of two of the most important and well-respected men in town, and he never knew want or need. It wasn’t until he was a lad that things began to go wrong from him. By the time he was 8 he was the spitting image of his grandfather, the scoundrel James, and when his voice broke at 15 it was James’ voice that the Reverend heard. The bond between them was broken, as the Reverend could only hear and see his own failed son. Without knowing why, Maximilian saw his loved great-grandfather increase the distance between them, the Reverend becoming ever more hostile until Maximilian finally gave up trying to understand and returned the spite tenfold. Maximilian was not completely unlike his father, however. When he had a mind to he could speak with the same passion and fervor that Clarence espoused from the pulpit, but the echo of James soul within Maximilian twisted this ability, and the young man used his compelling voice to his own advantage. In the end, Maximilian left town the same way his grandfather had, and for the same reason.
He unknowingly followed James footsteps and wound up in New York. However, Maximilian was not solely his grandfathers shadow, he had inherited some matter of his mothers temperance spirit, and as a result he never found himself at the mercy of the drink. Maximilian kept his head and picked up where his grandfather had left off, but times were different in New York. Maximilian fell into a different crowd, one that was into seances and other blasphemies as much as they were into regular vice and sin. Maximilian was a natural at convincing people he was telling them what they wanted to hear and he quickly ascended the ranks, bypassing the weak-willed and the charlatans. Within 2 years he had learned to distinguish between chicanery and true rituals and had participated in a number of them himself. He was a rising star, but unfortunately for him he caught the notice of the wrong sort of person.
Maximilian was Embraced at the height of a bacchanalian ceremony. The other participants were too out of their minds in ecstasy and madness to perceive or understand what was happening to Maximilian, but they quickly sobered when they saw the frenzy in his eyes. Unfortunately for them, they were too weak from the revel to fight him, and he slaughtered them to the last.
When he woke up the next night his clothes were covered in blood and his skin was cold. His sire hadn’t cared to clean him up or even remove the evidence of Maximilian’s killings. He woke up on a couch in the same room where he had died. His sire had spent the time arranging and decorating the bodies of the dead occultists, and when Maximilian woke, his sire smiled and asked if he liked his new artwork. The bodies were arrayed horrifically, for no purpose that Maximilian could
understand, and seeing them released the memory in his mind of what he had done, that he was responsible for their deaths. A moment before madness overcame him, he locked eyes with his sire and transferred his hate to him. This thing had made him do this, so it must be the one to pay. His sire’s smile faded and fear took hold.
When Maximilian left that room, he set fire to the whole building, ensuring that none would see the evidence of what he had done. His sire’s blood still on his lips, he faded into the backstreets and lost himself. Eventually he found other vampires and he learned that they hated and feared him for what he had done to his sire. As far as Maximilian was concerned, that was what happened when someone tried to control him. No one told him what to do, and when some of the vampires in the city took issue with that, he convinced them to kill each other, and then themselves. As his power in the blood grew, so did his distrust of others. Those who did not have his power were jealous, and though it was understandable that they should be, he could not stand their behind his back machinations and schemes. He began to assign blame and see conspiracies where there were none, and drove away all attempts at partnership or alliance. His delusions became so intense that he was forced to flee New York and travel west, looking for a place where he could be free of the other vampires plots against him. He needed to be alone, away from the vampires that wanted to control and rule him. A place not already infested with the damned.
What he found was Chicago.
Maximilian Milton Macanary arrived in Chicago in 1851 by steamer ship across Lake Michigan. Chicago at that time had little more than 30,000 people living in short buildings and walking in the mud streets. The people of this town had taken to vice and corruption with such an enterprising spirit that Maximilian had not seen before, even in the streets of New York. Determined to protect this place from the depredations of other vampires, he devised a ritual that would recognize the predators taint and let him work his will upon the subject. For three years he labored on it, devoting everything to its preparation. He invited other mortal occultists he knew and had heard of to the city, to learn from them, but never telling them his purpose. By 1854 the ritual was ready.
Every ritual requires sacrifice, something that acts as the metaphysical fuel for the fire. Max wanted protection and power over vampires, he had no use for the mortals in the city. They were food, caught in their own trap of civilization. What other use did they have than to serve him?
They were his sacrifice. Not their physical bodies; the mortals blood was weak and thin. He sacrificed their spirit, their essence. In one horrible night he tapped into the collective unconscious of the city, the mindless mass of human will formed by thousands and thousands of people living together. He captured the amalgamated spirit of every person in the city and he Embraced it. The burgeoning soul of the city was killed and then infAused with his own vampiric will.
While before Chicago may have been a rough town, even corrupt by mortal standards, that night it became truly Damned.