Nights of the Kindred
This scruffy looking fellow has become something of a fixture in areas that recieve a lot of foot traffic. He's charmed a lot of tourists with his flimsy folding table and worn deck of tarot cards, and projects a polished image of a bohemian nonconformist
Guru 4 / Shepherd 0
The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz
~Howl, Allen Ginsberg
Ben is a man of deep convictions but something always seems to get in the way of acting on them. Sometimes its just laziness; he’s whiled away entire days sleeping and dreaming and sometimes gets the feeling that the waking world is the illusion. He’d probably spend more time sleeping if he hadn’t been seeing such terrible things in his dreams lately. He runs with the Dregs and while it’s not the life he would have expected for himself a few years ago, he wouldn’t have it any other way. Whenever he gets too caught up in feeling sorry for himself and moping around about how bad he has it, all he has to do is look around at the glassy-eyed huddled masses in their prefab corporate housing units. At least his demon is something he can confront and wrestle with directly… the thing that’s possessing them is so big and so pervasive that nobody has a chance in hell of exorcising it. But he’s still going to try his damnedest. 9 OF SWORDS
To serve human need – Although he’d feel pretentious saying it out loud, Ben’s soul has always cried out against injustice. Before he was bit his life was on track to do something about it. As a high priest he visited the sick, ministered to prisoners, counseled those in need, and he was ready to sign on as an Army chaplain when he finished his M.Div program to help fight the good fight for peace and freedom; after he got clued in to how things really work he focused on taking care of people closer to home. At first he took the weight of the world on his shoulders and tried to do everything he could for everyone he knew- the members of his circle, the beggars in the streets, his university pals… they all knew they could come to him for anything and he’d find a way to help. It kept him busy and gave him a reason to wake up in the morning, to set aside the dreaming world and get back to real life. Of course, it didn’t last.
He couldn’t keep it up… at one point he fell into a fugue. Some days he didn’t get out of bed at all, until one morning he woke up in a dingy alley with blood on his hands. He tried to pick up the pieces- he told the people he had let down that he’d been wrestling with depression and had suffered a breakdown and most of them forgave him. Ben still yearns to help people when he sees the suffering all around and does what he can but he’s also more aware of his limitations. He looks at the big picture now. When the Commonwealth makes its move he’ll be able to strike at the root of the problem and make life better for everyone. He’s not under any illusion that it will be easy, but he can’t pass up on the chance to make a real difference. 4 OF WANDS / 10 OF WANDS / DEATH
Ben will make progress toward this desire when he gets off his ass and does something to make a concrete difference in the lives of those around him instead of getting bogged down in the details or making excuses to do something else.
Virtue – Hope
Vice – Sloth
Faith – At its core, being a high priest was little different from being any other sort of clergy. Sure the pay was worse, but when he wasn’t leading the circle he did the same sorts of things as a rabbi, imam, or minister: perform marriages, visit the sick, offer comfort to the dieing, teach others about the religion, and rally people together when someone needed help. When Ben first learned that he could look through the eyes of the demon inside of him to see the spirits he was ecstatic, believing he would be able to see the God and Goddess first-hand. Even though he’s seen quite a few things unexplainable to science in the course of his occult practices, he has never seen the Lord or Lady even when he’s felt their presence during a ritual. Still, he has faith. He doesn’t know all of the answers, but he firmly believes that there’s a higher power out there that nurtures and sustains the human soul.
Glittering Prizes, Endless Compromises – It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s important. The way things work in Pendros, you can’t just get the pack together and rip the arms off of a parasite who’s snacking on some poor soul. For the sake of expediency the vamps were allowed to take whoever they wanted and all the Dregs could do was watch and wait for one of ‘em to step out of line. Course, that had been happening a lot more often lately. Ben harbors a deep certainty that things should be different (VERY different!) but everyone in power in this damn city from the pack alphas to the mayor and the bitch queen seems to be invested in keeping things the way they are, or near enough that it wouldn’t make any real difference. This conflict will come into play when Ben has to choose between doing the right thing and following the rules of masked society. 7 OF CUPS / 5 OF SWORDS / 7 OF WANDS
Ben’s therapist. Doctor Shipley has a number of masked clients whom he assists in coping with their complicated lives and traumatic histories. Allen has taken a keen interest in the Cahalith’s prophetic dreams and (unbeknownst to Ben) the changeling sometimes employs onieromancy to ‘ride’ his visions of the future.
To the extent that The Dregs have a leader, Andy’s it. He took Ben under his wing and showed him how he could still lead a good life with the wolf in him. Ben thought he knew something about hardship from his work as a priest… then he got himself pretty well established on the street, and Andy’s started showing him how to blend in and really just look at what things are like out there. It’s ugly. Ben does what he can, and he and Andy lean on each other a lot to right what wrongs they can.
The Dregs see a lot, and it didn’t take Ben long to figure out that Bell was one of the good vamps. Jason and his “Camarilla” have got to the bottom of a lot of bad situations, and when Ben introduced himself they formed a good working relationship. Ben is generally willing to lend a hand (about as willing as he is to go out of his way to do anything these days) when Jason tells him about someone in trouble, and Jason is one of the people he knows he can go to when he comes across a parasite stepping way out of line.
Lucy and Ben are complete opposites. She’s always in motion, always doing something, never content to just let the day unfold. They met when she volunteered at a homeless shelter that Ben was staying at… she’d thought she was working “in the trenches” with the Freerunners, but was interested to find out more about the kind of life that the Dregs chose for themselves and the things they saw. She’s one of the few folks who really seems to understand what Ben is going through, and will nag at him incessantly to get of his ass and do something. Her good-natured motherly nagging is the only thing that’s gotten him out of bed some days, but she has a life of her own and Ben always feels kind of guilty for relying on her.
That kid is alright. Ben could smell the death on him from the first time he met Bobby, but when he heard from the kid’s friends how he helped so many people get away from the gangs and out of the streets… he decided to give him a chance. He knows that Bobby is older than he is so he really shouldn’t think of him as ‘the kid’, but Bobby plays the role well and it’s easy to forget. They are one of the links that the True Carthians and the Dregs pass information between so they find themselves working together a lot. It makes Ben uncomfortable when he sees Bobby feed, but he’s never seen the kid hurt anyone worse than they needed to be hurt.
Shekar’s good people. He and Ben often work the same area and keep an eye out for each other while they ply their trade. Shekar always knows just the right thing to say to bring a smile to his audience’s face, and he makes so much money from his busking that he sometimes has a hard time giving it all away. Surprisingly, he is also one of the Dregs’s best spies. The man has quite a knack; it’s amazing how someone so ecclectic can just blend into the background when he doesn’t want to be noticed.
Rapport gained through merits:
You Gotta Take Sick an’ Die Some of These Days – Muddy Waters
The Great Song of Indifference – Bob Geldorff
You Can Always Count on Me – Greg Brown
A Song to Pass the Time – Bright Eyes
Calling All Crows – State Radio
Jump on my Shoulders – AWOLnation
Gazing at the Moon – Hopsin
Devils and Gods – Tori Amos
What do you wanna be? – Dispatch