High atop Montmartre, the loftiest hill in Paris, sat Chateau Beaumonte. The majestic abode was constructed a century before Arnaud Beaumonte took the seat of patriarch, and its position symbolized the place that vampires held in France. It became the fortress of vampire aesthetics, the governing palace of the Black Coat Society and the most respected structure in the country, sapping the prestige from Versailles and silently staring down the gentry. Its presence was challenged only once in its lifetime. The French army, prompted by the ruling powers, stormed Chateau Beaumonte in the early 1730s. The Society had failed to meet with the royal family at Versailles for a semi-annual assembly, which alarmed the powers. Attendance was law, and the vampires hadn’t once defied it, knowing that the military would assume the worst and Chateau Beaumonte would fall under siege. The Society, however, was not openly ignoring the law, and the royal family had changed the date of the assembly one month before. The courier who was sent to inform the Society never conveyed his message. Why he did not, neither party could account for. To this day, the French government persists in declaring the courier was killed by vampires and the Society used his disappearance as a scapegoat for the massacre. The Society, in contrast, accused the ruling family of conspiracy and held firm to the belief that France had an agenda—to exterminate the superior vampire class and appear to have none of the blood on their hands.
When the French army mobilized, they chose the lesser of two evils: attacking during daylight hours. They had no advantage of cover, but it was certainly wiser to disadvantage the vampires as well. To the soldiers’ surprise, the Society met them at the door. The patriarch, Bernard Beaumonte II, was later quoted as lamenting the notion that the royal family was so disturbed by his absence at their home in Versailles, that they would mar the front doors of his, and that he had no other choice but to “water the lawn” with mortal blood in order to keep the weeds from “cracking the marble of his front step.” Two hundred soldiers lay dead on Montmartre that evening, and the people living around the hill said that after the sun set, the lawn was spotless again. The defeat was forever after known as Hell’s Feast, and it marked an immediate and permanent decay of immortal relations with the French powers. For decades the Beaumonte family conceded to France’s retaliatory mandates, but despite their submission, the stigma survived. The death of Arnaud Beaumonte, to many, was the harbinger of the Black Coat Society’s darkest days. Most were suspicious of the Order of the Blood Moon and the arrival of Jack Darcy in Marseille. Others were prepared to assume that the revolutionaries had assassinated Arnaud. Fewer still rejected those notions and cast their suspicions on the House of Roses and Corvessa, but they didn’t publicize this theory. It was under this blanket of revolution, distrust and decay—darkness—that Leon Beaumonte would return to Paris with Lucia Vasquez.
Before its end, the Black Coat Society of London underwent a violent and rapid change in attitude and purpose. The original Black Coats, as I have said, first came to England from France because of the good relations the Beaumonte family established between Parisian cults and the Red Legion and Sons of Nyx (both English). After the death of Arnaud Beaumonte, the noble house of vampires fell to pieces, for there was no son beneath Arnaud to inherit the title of patriarch of the Black Coat Society. (Leon Beaumonte, the inheritor, was missing.) Arnaud’s brother, Rene, died under mysterious circumstances shortly after his brother’s passing, and the title of patriarch was quickly swept up by young members of the London house—many of whom succumbed to their prideful natures and encouraged fierce loyalty to the house among their peers. It did not take long for the new Black Coat Society—The Black Coat Nation—to make enemies with several European powers. Their numbers and their influence grew, nearly to the point of diminishing the power of already long-established cults such as the Red Legion in London and the House of Roses in Paris. The Black Coats exercised their will over their territory often by seizing control of the magic trade in major European cities and settlements, but often by illegal, bloody means. At the height of their power, some of the Coats, including the serpentine Simon Jykes, advocated feeding on human blood instead of animals. The Black Coat Society would be the first cult to do so in centuries.
April 26, 1833