2/09/16

Jason: “First off, let us have a moment of silence for the passing of Dr. Corwin Everton.”
Kara: “…You guys! We killed the Englishman! We completed our initial quest!”
Me: “ONE quest checked off the list!”
Chris: “Level one! Done!”
Jason: “Oh good, I can give you the level 2 quests now.”

***

THERA

Georgia climbs up through the caverns of the island, finally reaching the entrance cave looking out over the sea where sunset colors still stain the horizon. She watches them fade, then pulls out her phone. There’s only about a half-bar of signal, but it’s enough for her phone to update and inform her of about a dozen missed calls from Paul.. She does some quick timezone math in her head and calls him back.

“…Georgia!?” he answers.

“Paul! Were you trying to get ahold of me?”

“Yes I was! The werewolf cub has been kidnapped and taken to someplace in Marin!”

“Marin,” she repeats flatly. “Who took it?”

“Uh, a Nephandus, possibly Perpenna, uh, angry werewolves—”

Georgia tenses. “I thought a Nephandus was a mage?”

“It is. An evil mage, or a crazy mage. I’m not sure what the difference is.”

“So, a Nephandus is holding the werewolf cub?” she asks carefully.

“Yes. Along with Perpenna and the Spiral Dancer.”

She stares towards the darkening horizon a long moment. “I have to kill it.”

“…The Spiral Dancer?”

She frowns. “No, the Nephandus, keep up! Are you going after it?”

“Uh, yes. Sophia is involved too. Where are you right now?”

Georgia hesitates. “…Out.”

Silence hangs as Paul waits for her to continue the thought. “…Okaaay,” he says finally, “Well I’m at Leeland’s….”

“Let’s meet tomorrow night,” Georgia suggests.

“That may be too late—”

“I’ll try to be early then.” Georgia hangs up.

(Kara: “Can I configure where the moonbridge goes?”
Jason: “Configure it? You have no idea.”
Kara: “But I have so much teleportation experience.”
Jason: “True, and perhaps if you had a sphere of Prime, you could wield the stuff of raw magic and redirect it yourself. However, you do suspect that the bridge goes where it went.”
Kara: “…Which is back to the Chantry.”
Me: “Which is full of Vannevar Hughes.”
Jason: “You do have the gargoyles.
Chris: “And Bob.”
Me: “And the space whale.”
Jason. “And a tiny clockwork dragon who wishes to nom on you.”
Kara: “That’s not helpful.”
Jason: “…Isn’t it?”)

Georgia sighs and settles herself on the cavern floor, pulling out her notebook to continue practicing her true-magic by mapping the cavern system.

(Jason: “Okay, give me an extended arete roll, for however long you want to extend it. Your difficulty is six.”
Kara: *rolls* “…Whoah! Three successes!”
Jason: “Sweet, you want to keep going?”
Kara: “Yep!” *rolls again* “…Botch.”
Jason: “…You just botched?”
Kara: “Yep.”
Jason: *grinning evilly* “This is where the hubris aspect of Mage comes in, cause you know what happens when you botch an arete roll? Every success you have previously amassed becomes a botch. And Paradox.”
Kara: “…Oh boy….”
Jason: “Okay, Kara, you’re not going to exactly understand what this means at the moment, but for now, I’m going to need you to take your character sheet out and record that Georgia has amassed three dots of Paradox.”
Chris: *stage-whisper* “I don’t think that’s good.”)

Georgia sketches quickly as she stares through the rock, the subtlety of pushing her sight through the layers coming more and more easily, when she finally pauses to look down at the map.

The lines on her paper are moving, twisting in on themselves like a labyrinth—

(Me: *gasps* “It’s the Marauder’s Map!”)

—As she watches, the dark ink suddenly turns red and leeches from the paper, rising up as a red mist, dissipating into the ocean breeze and leaving her with nothing but a blank page.

(Kara: “Well. That sucks.”)

Georgia stares forlornly at the sheet when she suddenly feels a nudge. The mechanical dragon has climbed out of her bag and is staring up at her. As she gently pats it on the head, it twists around to nom at her fingers.

(Jason: “Kara. Erase one of your Paradox points.”
Everyone: “Whoooooah!
Kara: “……Iiiiinteresting—”)

A sudden lightness comes over Georgia, as if a weight she wasn’t even aware she had has lifted. The dragon stares up at her, then crawls away to curl up in her bag, eyes dimming as it shuts down into a sleep mode.

Georgia stares at her fingers, then gently strokes the metal scales. “Good…dragon,” she murmurs awkwardly.

(Jason: “So all your previous willworking map-making has been erased. Do you want to start again?”
Kara: “…Yes.”)

Georgia concentrates, retracing the steps in her mind, pouring in her will—

—This time, the results are more successful than ever before

#

ANSTIS’S HELL

Anstis thrashes in agony in the boiling-blood sea, hot enough that he should have burnt to a cinder the moment he broke the surface, but instead the agony lives on, ceaseless and unspeakable.

In his flails, his hand finally brushes the rotting wood of the hull. He scrapes together just enough presence of mind to dig his claws in and haul himself out to sprawl on the deck as the fire lancing through his nerves eventually fades. He lays there a long moment after it’s gone, listening to the distant screams of his dead crewmen trapped below.

“Well, that was unpleasant,” he mutters, then hauls himself back to his feet.

A new shape has appeared on the horizon. Another ship, though a different shape than the Edmund Fitzgerald. Anstis watches it a long moment, then lopes up to the wheel to steer his ship toward it.

The other ship rides low in the water, storm-wracked, one of its two masts down and trailing in the water, sails tattered and burning in the blood. What wood isn’t rotted is covered in carvings, Celtic by the look of them. A figure stands in the bow, staring away over the endless sea.

Anstis pulls his ship up alongside and the figure turns. An older woman, with wild hair and wilder eyes, staring at him with the same intensity she watched the horizon, heedless of the boiling blood spray splashing around her.

“And who be ye?” Anstis shouts over.

Her weathered face hardens. “Sail these seas forever, you’ll never find a way out, Englishman!” she shouts back in a thick Irish brogue. “Drown yourself and let all Devon drown with you. Tell your harlot queen I’ll see her at the world’s end!”

“Where you headed?”

She turns back to the horizon. “The Emerald Isle, if she be found here.”

Anstis follows her gaze, then around at the featureless sea. “Which way to Rome?”

The woman laughs. “Rome will not save you now, Protestant! We held to the true faith and found Hell all the same.”

Anstis frowns. “I’m looking for one from a much older Rome.”

The woman laughs again, almost maniacally. “Old Rome, new Rome. No Romes roam these waters.”

Anstis frowns and tugs the wheel to pull his ship away. It coasts off, driven by its own ethereal momentum, but a few lengths away the woman shouts something again, this time in Gaelic. Anstis turns to look back.

Just in time for her ship to fire a full broadside at him.

Anstis ducks as langrel shot tears up the quarterdeck around him and her laughter echoes over the waves. He pulls the wheel hard, swinging as far from the direction of her drift as he can. More booms echo behind him, but he quickly outpaces her crippled ship.

“Where are you going, Thomas?” a new voice says from behind him.

Anstis sighs. “Who be it this time?” he mutters, turning. The man behind him is garbed in similarly rich dress as the other ghosts of pirates past. His face is not one Anstis recognizes from life, but it’s still one he recognizes instantly. Captain Henry Every, Pirate King of Madagascar.

(Jason: “Next to Morgan, one of the greatest pirates of the 17th century. Stole so much from the mughal fleets of the Indian Ocean to set himself up as the ruler of the Madagascar pirate kingdoms. A legend among pirates. Died thirty years before your time, but you recognize his face from the wood carvings.”)

Every shakes his head at Anstis sadly. “They always come and think they’ll sail away. But it won’t save you here. Wicked sinners we all be, Thomas.”

“So where ye going?”

“There’s nowhere to be gone.”

Anstis looks at the empty sea before them. “Then I would be going to the same place, it would seem.”

“It would indeed. Sailing a ship full of damned men.” Every taps his heel against the deck. “Know ye what yer cargo is?”

Anstis glances to the entrance to the hold, from which the wails of his crew drift ceaselessly. He grins. “Traitors.”

Every chuckles darkly. “Wicked men we be, but honest pirates, at least, get to stay above board.”

“And where is your ship?” Anstis asks.

Every nods to the empty horizon. “Out. Across the seven seas.”

“How’d you get here?”

Every smiles. “I have my means, Thomas, I’m a dead man.”

“What means are those?”

“The means afforded the damned.”

Anstis spins the ship’s wheel. “But not afforded me.”

Every’s smile vanishes. “Your soul is black, Anstis, but you’ve stuck it to yerself with a hairpin,” he growls.

Anstis grins. “Then perhaps I’m not as damned as thee.”

“Twice and thrice damned, Anstis. I raped and pillaged my way across the Indian basin and the Spanish Main, slew hundreds with canon and cutlass, stole and profaned…but I never stole the soul of another.” Every takes a step forward, levelling one blackened finger to Anstis’s chest. “When finally that hairpin of yours comes loose, it’s not above board you’ll be walking. Nor even below decks. But down to the endless depths with ye, and nothing but the Devil to keep you company till Judgement Day.”

Anstis just grins wider. “That’s what I get for being a good, honest pirate?”

“You’re no honest pirate, Anstis. Yer a monster.” Every’s image shimmers and vanishes.

#

LANDS END

(Jason: “Colleen, what are you doing?”
Me: “Am I out of the ocean yet?”
Jason: “Yeah, you climbed out on a beach.”
Me: “…Crap, is my phone dead?”
Jason: “Yup.”
Me: “…Then fuck Rabenholz and whatever he’s doing, I’m going back to my hotel room.”)

Scout arrives at the Seal Rock Inn still dripping, ignoring the stares of the teen working the counter as she walks past to the stairs. A few minutes later, she comes back down dressed in a robe, drops her suit onto the counter, tells the kid to send it to the dry cleaners, then heads back upstairs to go to bed early.

#

MARK HOPKINS HOTEL

Meanwhile, back at his hotel on the other side of the city, Rabenholz is examining Everton’s cane sword, finally casting a ritual to confer with the history of the blade.

(Jason: “It’s a ribbon-steel sword, forged in 1919 by Leferton and Sons steelmill in Sheffield, England. No enchantments, simply a sword. Exceptional quality, very well maintained, and it’s killed a whole lot of shit. Everton used it for many terrible things, mostly just by surprising people with it and cutting them in half. It does strength+3 damage.”
Chris: “That’s standard for a sword, isn’t it?”
Jason: “No, standard is strength+2”
Chris: “Oh, my!”
Jason: “It’s very, very well made.”
Chris: “Not better than mine, though?”
Jason: “Not really. More…different, even for its time. It was a custom job.”
Chris: “Well obviously. You don’t just buy swords off the rack!”)

Everton does a few practice katas with it, then resheathes the sword into the cane, places it carefully on his desk, and goes to bed.

#

ANSTIS’S HELL

Anstis prowls through the ship. With no sign of Marcus, or Helgi, or anything he came to Hell to search for, he’s now looking for a way out. The cries of the crew and the groan of the crumbling wood echo through the ship, but he ignores it. Finally, he finds himself back in front of the captain’s cabin, still bound shut with chains, but the chains are no longer red-hot. Anstis slashes at them experimentally and they crumble under his claws. Grinning, he kicks the door open.

The space beyond looks much like the cabin he remembers, though the books and maps are molding, and the window draperies heavy with salt. Someone is standing at the window, arms folded behind him, staring out at the sea. As Anstis strides into the room, he turns.

It’s the one-eyed wraith. The one he thought was Tuke.

Anstis grins. “Fancy seeing you here. You’re not the man I thought you were.”

Hot rage boils under the surface of the wraith’s scarred face, but he remains still, standing with military bearing. “You don’t care what manner of man I am,” he says, voice laced with malice. “You’re a predator, nothing more. A creature of instinct and barbarism.”

“And you think you’re better than that?”

“I know it.” The wraith reaches out to pick up a strange blade from the desk, a simple design made of clean, fine steel. He examines it a moment in the grimy light. “Funny. We’re not in your world now. Necromancer.”

Anstis grins, popping his claws. “Any world I’m in is my world.”

“Then come forth and show me your power, Britannian.” The wraith lifts his other hand. Ghostly chains tear themselves from the rot lining the walls and wrap themselves around Anstis, pulling him back against the wood. Anstis snarls, pulling and tearing, finally ripping out a chunk of wall to release himself and slashes the chains away.

The wraith sneers. “Brute force won’t save you now. You’re in my realm.” He lifts the knife and jams it into his chest, prying out a chunk of his own flesh. Lifting it in his other hand, the flesh melts into translucent ectoplasm and he throws it at Anstis. Anstis ducks and the plasm splashes on the torn wall behind him, the wood fizzling and burning wherever it strikes.

With a snarl, Anstis launches at the wraith, claws out—

(Jim: “—Eight agg.”
Jason: “Ooooo! And you know what wraiths can’t do?”
Jim: “Soak?”)

The wraith screams, the sound lifting to the ultrasonic, then evaporates into a green mist that twists through the cabin before dissipating.

(Chris: “Nice work, Egan.”
Jason: “Yeah, well unfortunately you can’t really kill a wraith like that. You know enough that he’s only dissipated for now.”
Jim: “Yeah, he gonna be maaaad.”)

Smirking, Anstis searches the cabin, tearing through the desk and chests scattered throughout, but finds nothing but more rusting, rotting gear. Frustrated, he gives up. His eye is drawn to the traces of ectoplasm still dripping down the wall.

(Jim: “Is ectoplasm good for anything?”
Jason: “Well…so actually, down here it’s just plasm. Plasm is the raw stuff of the underworld, it can be converted into any form. Like the stem cells of the dead. You don’t have the necrotic capabilities to work plasm, that’s a wraithly thing, but it is bound to this wraith. And here’s an idea: You’ve summoned this wraith before, you’ve had dealings with him in the real world, you’ve also got plasm of his down here. A trick you’ve heard about Necromancers who get stuck in the underworld for too long is they find a wraith they know from the real world and blow it apart to get the plasm. Then they do a necromantic ritual that basically lets you summon the wraith back to the real world, to the last place you met him there, and piggyback along for the ride.”
Me: “But…then the wraith is in the real world.”
Jason: “Yes, but in the real world you have the advantage over it again, cause it can’t do its wraithly bullshit up there. Also, just to point out, this ritual gets you out of Hell.”
Me: “Always a good choice.”)

Anstis considers a moment, then pulls a jar out from his coat to collect a sample of the plasm. He grabs a piece of soggy paper from the desk, sketches out a few notes, then—jar of plasm in hand—begins tracing out a ritual circle on the cabin’s floor.

The necromantic magic builds, crackling through the cabin like St. Elmo’s fire. Anstis closes his eyes as the energy releases—

—When he opens them again, he’s back in the Pyramid bathroom.

Anstis grins and slips into necromantic sight, scanning the room. The one-eyed wraith is there too, staring around disoriented. He sees Anstis, but before he can react, Anstis strides forward and grabs him.

(Jim: “Torment. I’m sending him back to Hell.”)

The wraith shrieks again and disapparates into an ethereal haze.

Anstis grins to himself, gropes in his pocket for his Marcus-rock, then frowns and gropes again. It’s gone. After a moment, he remembers that the last time he had it was when he tried to cast his location ritual while in Hell, before being tossed into the boiling sea. He must have dropped it then.

Grumbling, he pulls out a blank consecrated rock, bites his finger, scribbles “SERTORIUS” on it, then casts again for Marcus’s location.

This time, two voices whisper back to him, their words tangling up in each other. Anstis pieces words together from the mess, but they indicate that Marcus is in two places at once: One, right here in front of him. The other, at Land’s End.

Anstis stares at the rock, checking to make sure he didn’t accidentally reuse another named rock, then shrugs and shoves it away.

Stepping over the caution tape still blocking the doorway, he swaggers down the hall to the Pyramid’s circle room to head back to his submarine.

#

THERA

Georgia is hanging out at the entry cave, settled on the floor amidst the folds of her robes, adding finishing touches and flourishes to her complete will-worked map of the island, when suddenly her phone rings. She gropes it out of her bag and answers.

“Where are you?” Bell’s voice barks at her.

She puts the map down. “Is it very pressing that you know?”

“You have a real habit of not answering the questions a Justicar puts to you.”

“That’s true, I do.”

A pause. “…So you may want to tell me right now before I find out other ways.”

She sighs. “Europe.”

“…Not very helpful,” Bell growls.

“Okay.”

Another long pause as the waves boom below. “…How the hell did you get to Europe?” Bell asks.

Georgia hesitates. “…Sorcery?”

“And where did you get sorcery good enough to get you to Europe?

She beams. “Ah! My Chantry.”

“You don’t have a Chantry.”

Her smile fades and she sighs again. “Well, I guess it is Vannevar Hughes’s Chantry now—”

“Right now it’s my Chantry, cause I seem to be the only one standing in it.”

Georgia sits up. “Really? You’re in the Chantry right now?”

“You know of a better place to find a Tremere?”

“No, but…Hughes isn’t there?”

“If he was, I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you.”

“How did you get in if he didn’t let you in?” Georgia asks skeptically.

“I’m a Justicar,” Bell growls.

She blinks. “Okay, well, I can meet you there in…15 minutes.”

“Would you.” Bell hangs up.

Georgia gathers her bag and rushes back down through the island, moving a lot more quickly now that she knows the direct routes. She informs Bob and the gargoyles that she’s taking the moonbridge back to San Francisco and will be back soon.

As she hurries out of the office, she calls back over her shoulder that while she’s out, the space whale is in charge.

#

TWILIGHT’S FORTUNE

Anstis arrives in the wet, dripping bowels of his submarine and climbs his way up to the main levels, surveying as he goes. The ship is in working order, rumbling through the ocean’s abyss, and the mindless crew are going about their work as normal.

But something is wrong. He’s not sure who, or what, but something tells him that someone has been here, and some of the zombie crew’s movements look out of sync, as if someone interfered with their routines, or moved things from places they were supposed to be.

Anstis stalks up to the captain’s quarters, where he finds his ghouled lieutenant, Luke, looking over engineering records. “Report,” Anstis growls.

Luke looks up in surprise. “Nothing to report, Captain. We’ve been underway as ordered for nights—”

“Someone has been here,” Anstis growls again, carefully examining the quarters around them.

Luke shrugs. “I haven’t seen anything, sir.”

Anstis stares around another long moment, then nods. “Keep your eyes open. Let me know if you see anything.”

With that, he stalks back down through the ship, taking the circle once again to head back to the mainland for the day.

#

THE CHANTRY

Georgia steps out of the other half of the moonbridge in the basement of the Chantry (—cause we forgot the Thera-side was supposed to be covered with avalanched rock, sorry about that—) and is immediately hit by a wave of exhaustion indicating the rapid approach of the dawn. She yawns, moves to the door of the dungeon, then stops.

Bell is standing in the doorway, arms folded.

“Oh!” Georgia instinctively curtsies. “Justicar Bell! Good to see you. I apologize for my tardiness.”

“Johnson,” he rumbles. “Where you been?”

“Greece. I’m sorry I didn’t say earlier, I wasn’t sure how secure our phone line was.”

Bell’s eyes narrow behind his sunglasses. “Vannevar Hughes wants you dead.”

“I’m aware of that.”

“You got plans against it?”

“Well, there’s the staying where I was option, then there’s the killing him option, which I rather like—”

Bell holds up a finger. “Did you just tell a Justicar you’re planning to murder another member, in good standing, of the Camarilla?”

Georgia hesitates. “….I said that I would like to kill him, not that I am planning to kill him.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Bell leans forward. “See, Vannevar Hughes and you are going to make peace.”

Georgia sighs. “I tried that, he didn’t seem keen.”

“I don’t think you understand me. You tried that, it didn’t work, now I’m doing it.” He steps closer. “As long as I am in this city, you will refrain from whatever little feud you have going on, because if one of you should die from any manner of circumstances—no matter how unforseen—the other dies within the hour. Understand me?”

Georgia nods silently.

“Good.” Bell steps back to the doorway. “Today you are going to sleep here, and tomorrow, we’re going to talk about this further.”

Georgia glances around, wringing her hands. “I have a slight concern with that. My wards are gone.”

Bell glares. “Most vampires sleep without wards.”

“Most vampires aren’t Tremere.”

His glare deepens. “Rough it.”

She glances around again. “Would you mind if I sleep somewhere else?”

Bell rolls his eyes. “Go wherever you’d like, within the bounds of the city, but your ass better be in the Pyramid offices by eight-pm tomorrow. If you are there by 8:01, you will not survive to see 8:02.”

Georgia hesitates again. “I’m concerned I might not be awake that early—”

She stops as Bell leans close again, gritted teeth an inch from her face. “Set. An. Alarm.” With that, he turns and walks away.

She pauses, then waves cheerily after him. “It was lovely to see you!” He doesn’t respond, disappearing up the stairs at the end of the hall.

Once he’s out of sight, exhaustion hits her again. Georgia lingers another moment, considering her next move, then goes down the hall to a regular circle and takes it to sleep in one of the spare rooms in the Pyramid.

#

MARK HOPKINS HOTEL

The next night, Rabenholz exits the bedroom of his suite to find Rhona waiting for him to go over the business of the previous day.

(Chris: “What’s Bev’s real name?”
Jason: “…Fuck if I know, did we give him a name?”
Chris: “…Ben.”
Jason: “Ben Smith, sure.”)

Rabenholz listens as she discusses business matters, slowly pacing the room. He stops in front of his desk, eying Everton’s cane laying on top. “A Mr. Ben Smith should have reached out to you yesterday,” Rabenholz says suddenly.

Rhona pauses mid-report, but rolls with the subject change professionally. “…Yes, I got a call.”

“Set aside some time each night for him. He will become a student of sorts.”

“Yes sir.” She frowns. “Time…with you?”

“Yes.” Rabenholz picks up the cane. “How are the plans for my gathering tomorrow night?”

She looks at her notes. “Plans are progressing, no delays.”

“Excellent.”

Rhona watches him tensely a long moment, as if debating something internally. Finally, she speaks, “Sir? Did you have anything to do with that fire at the Legion of Honor?”

Rabenholz carefully places the cane back down on the desk. “Do you want to know?”

Rhona falls silent. “No. I suppose I don’t.”

“Let me know what you need to do your job well, you will have it.” Rabenholz picks up his own cane sword and begins his practicing for the night. Rhona nods then bows herself from the room.

#

FORT FUNSTON

Anstis digs himself out of the sandy dirt outside Fort Funston and sits for a moment on the cliffs, watching night gather over the ocean as he considers his plans, and the strangeness of the Settite attack. Finally, he gets up and goes into the tunnels to take the circle there to the Pyramid.

As he steps out of the Pyramid circle, he notices Georgia asleep in a nearby room. More specifically, he notices her bag tucked under her arm and the glint ot something gold-colored sticking out from it. Grinning, he sneaks over to investigate, carefully lifting the edge of the bag to peer inside….

…And the tiny mechanical dragon sticks its head out to stare back at him.

Anstis stares a moment, then reaches a hand toward it. The dragon stares at his fingers…then noms on them toothlessly.

Anstis frowns, pries his fingers away, then leaves the circle chambers to go find Bell.

#

SEAL ROCK INN

Not long after nightfall, Scout exits her room at the motel and almost trips over a plastic-wrapped lump outside her door. It’s her suit, back from the drycleaners with a note saying there’s too much salt damage to save the silk-blend fabric. She glares, tosses the suit back into her room, then leaves.

Her mood improves once she’s able to get to a Verizon store a mile or so down Geary and replace her phone. As the data transfer completes, the first notification to pop up is a text message, timestamped just an hour or so before:

CONTACT ME —R

(Jason: “The ‘douche’ just pours off the message.”)

She rolls her eyes, pays for the phone, and downloads car service apps as she leaves the store.

Outside on the sidewalk, waiting for a car, she scrolls through her phone to check her contacts and call-logs, then stops. She has two missed calls—one from the night before and one from earlier this evening—both from the same number. A number she recognizes. She stares a long moment, then dials back, lifting the phone to her ear with a shaking hand.

The call connects instantly, without even ringing. “My child,” a male voice sighs. “Tell me the tale.”

“Of what happened last night?” The voice doesn’t respond. She closes her eyes, takes a breath, then continues. “Rabenholz made an attempt on the Toreador, Dr. Corwin Everton. I was there for it, but things went weird. He launched me into the sea, and by the time I climbed back out of the water the museum was on fire. I haven’t heard details but Rabenholz has contacted me since so I assume he’s still alive.”

“Excellent,” the voice sighs. “You have done well, my child. I am pleased.” There’s a pause. “You do wish me pleased, do you not?”

“Yes,” she responds automatically. “But I don’t see how this is excellent for you, since it only seems to help Rabenholz’s plans.”

“His plans are nothing. His desires are all. He will consume, and consume, and be consumed thereby. And I shall be the one who gives…and who takes. As I always am.”

Scout shudders, ducking her head as if to turn away, but there’s nowhere to turn.

“And what will you do now, my child?” the voice continues. “My beautiful, wayward Scout?”

She grimaces. “I’ll get back in contact with him, and smile like nothing happened.”

“Do not make it so easy upon him. He will suspect if you do.”

She nods vacantly, staring at the passing traffic. “Well, I need to give him the bill for the suit he ruined anyway.”

“Appeal to his vanity. Insinuate yourself with him, ensure his appetites are furthered.”

She tenses. “I don’t know if he’s as enamoured with…appetites…as others are—”

“He shall find himself enamoured,” the voice says sharply. “And the more he consumes, the less remains to stop what must come. Do this, my child, and I shall—”

Suddenly a loud slam echoes in the background of the call. A moment later, the connection cuts out.

Scout slowly lowers her phone, staring at the screen.

(Me: “…Well. I’m going to assume he’s busy with whatever is happening there. And if he needs my help…I’m not going to give it. Not unless he orders me to.”)

A car pulls up at that moment, the blue Uber logo glowing in its dash. She shoves her phone away and jogs swiftly to the curb to meet it.

#

THE PYRAMID

On her cot at the Pyramid, Georgia wakes up—

(Jason: “—And does what?”
Kara: “Goes through her evening routine? You know, brushes her hair, puts on her robes….”
Jason: *mutters to himself* “Why does it always have to be red….”
Kara: “Well there are different shades of red. There’s Tremere red, and…slightly darker Tremere-red….
Jason: “Blood red, and dried blood-red….”
Me: “…Those are all the same shades of red….”
Kara: “Georgia actually has a lot of robes in orange. She’s sort of strayed to that end of the spectrum. So, let’s say she’s in a black robe with orange piping. …Orange AND red. Cause…you can’t stray too far from the colors.”)

Georgia moves to sit up but something shifts on top of her. She opens her eyes and looks down. The mechanical dragon has crawled out of the bag and is curled up asleep on top of her.

(Everyone: “Awwwwwwwwwwww!”

Kara: “…Okay, that’s adorable.”)

Next to her, her phone buzzes with the alarm she set. As she reaches for it, the dragon lifts its head and starts nomming on her hand.

(Jason: “Kara…gain a blood point.”
Kara: “Sweet!”
Jason: “Jim? Loose a blood point.”
Jim: “Goddammit!!”
Jason: “It stole a blood point right through your Fortitude.”
Kara: “Good! Don’t touch other people’s shit!”)

Gathering her dragon and things back into her bag, Georgia heads towards Bell’s office. The door is cracked open and Anstis is already inside, sprawled on a chair and giving Bell a rundown of the events of Candlestick Park.

Bell holds up a hand. “Stop right there. Anektahken is dead, and there was an imposter there?”

Anstis nods. “Aye. We dealt with him.”

“Define ‘dealt with’.”

“Sertorius killed him.”

Bell slowly lowers his hand. “Okay, that part I believe. But someone killed Anektahken, took his place, and sent the Settites out to do God knows what?”

Anstis grins. “Aye.”

“Did you figure out who this asshole was?”

Anstis’s grin falters. “Nay.”

During the awkward pause that follows, Georgia decides to sweep into the room. “Good evening, gentlemen. Mr. Bell, it is before eight.”

Bell glares at her and gestures to an empty seat. “Nice job. What have you been up to?”

She settles her robes around her. “Well, I’ve been in Greece—”

“Yes you mentioned. Why?”

“I was following some trails that Max left.”

Bell leans back in his chair and folds his arms. “Really? Cause Max got himself involved quite deep in a situation that involves demonology and the Sabbat.”

Georgia nods sagely. “Yes he did. Also my clan, or large parts of my clan, seemed to be involved in making illegal gargoyles.”

“I remember,” Bell growls. “Speaking of your clan, I’ve invited Vannevar Hughes here tonight.”

Georgia tenses. “Ah. To tell him the same thing you told me?”

“Oh, he already heard the same thing I told you last night.”

“What did he say?”

“Various things that were unwise to say to a Justicar,” Bell growls. “If he does not show up in the next twenty minutes, I will go fetch him, and then he will be having a very bad day.” Bell turns back to Anstis. “Captain. I also need to know your intentions moving forward, besides fucking around with Settites across half the city.”

Anstis shrugs. “I am looking more into Flowers.”

“Flowers is in Indonesia,” Bell says.

“I have reason to believe his forces have been here.”

“Well then I would say that’s your problem, isn’t it?”

Anstis glares, then continues, “I’ve also been working with Rabenholz on his upcoming shindig.”

“Yeah. About that.” Bell leans over to pick up his phone.

#

MARK HOPKINS HOTEL

Almost done dressing, Rabenholz is fiddling with his cufflinks when Rhona appears in the doorway holding the hotel phone. Rabenholz accepts it from her. “Yes?” he says as Rhona steps forward to take over the cufflink operation.

“Mr. Rabenholz?” a voice asks shakily.

Lord Rabenholz.”

“I-I’m very sorry sir. I’m calling from the Pyramid. Mr. Bell would like to speak with you. Imminently.”

Rabenholz nods. “I will arrive in ten minutes.” He hands the phone back to Rhona. She takes it wordlessly, then dials the front desk to ask for a car.

#

THE RICHMOND DISTRICT

Scout is still in the car, making its way slowly down Geary, when her phone rings.

“Caitiff Scout?” a voice says. Unknown to her, it’s the same one that called Rabenholz, but this time his tone is a lot more curt.

“Yes?”

“Your presence is requested by the Justicar. Now.”

She smiles grimly. “I’m already on my way.”

#

THE PYRAMID

Scout and Rabenholz’s cars arrive at nearly the same time and the two meet in the elevator lobby. “Ms. Scout,” Rabenholz nods to her as she crosses the polished marble. “I hope you have recovered from last night.”

She nods back. “I have recovered but my clothes have not. I will be sending your people the bill for their dry cleaning and replacement.”

“I shall have three new suits sent to you.” The elevator arrives with a ding and Rabenholz steps in.

After a moment, Scout follows. “Thank you. And what were the results of the evening?”

Rabenholz hits the button for the 40th floor. “Dr. Everton will not be a threat.”

Silence falls. Scout eyes him but he doesn’t continue, staring at the door as the car rises.

“I trust you can be discrete and follow my lead,” Rabenholz finally murmurs.

Scout nods silently.

More silence lingers.

“I hope you find the suits to your liking,” Rabenholz says suddenly. “I will spare no expense.”

She smiles thinly and turns to the door as it dings their arrival. “I prefer Theory.”

They step out and walk down the hall to Bell’s office, finding Georgia and Anstis already there. Bell leans back as they enter. “Lord Rabenholz. What do you have to tell me about your activities lately?”

Rabenholz nods to a ghoul, who closes the office door behind them. He paces to the middle of the room, his cloak settling around him. “I wish everyone in this room to swear themselves to secrecy on this matter. Justicar, you may of course use your own judgement. You will understand my reasons in a moment.”

Bell glares, but everyone else in the room nods.

Rabenholz grips his cane in front of him. “Dr. Corwin Everton is dead.”

Georgia gasps. “What happened to him?

“He set himself afire rather than allow himself to be captured by me,” Rabenholz replies.

Bell lowers his sunglasses, eyes narrowing. “…The Legion of Honor,” he mutters. It’s not a question.

“Capture?” Georgia blurts. “Why would you want to capture Dr. Everton?”

“Because he’s a wanted criminal,” Bell snaps at her.

“If that were not enough,” Rabenholz continues, “Prince van Nuys and I had an arrangement, and the Prince wanted Everton’s fangs in exchange for it.” Rabenholz pulls two small lumps of ivory out of his pocket and sets them on the desk in front of Bell.

Bell stares, then picks them up to examine. He eyes Rabenholz over his sunglasses. “Avoiding capture, huh?”

Rabenholz meets his gaze. “Yes.”

Anstis gropes at his pockets. “Would you like confirmation?”

“No, I don’t think that will be necessary,” Bell says, handing the fangs back to Rabenholz.

Rabenholz tucks them away. “I will present them to the Prince at my party tomorrow night.”

“Yes, let’s talk about that party of yours.” Bell leans forward. “This isn’t a formal Elysium, but it’s the nearest enough thing, so I want to be clear on something. You wanna make announcements, you gotta cement your authority, you gotta do whatever you gotta do, that’s fine. But no. violence.”

Rabenholz bows. “That is my intention as well, Justicar. I have taken steps to ensure security.”

“Glad to hear that.” Bell stands and turns to the rest of the room. “I’m going to make something clear to everybody right now. Everton made his bed and that’s fine. But there’s no be no more. No more feuds, no more vendettas. I’ve said it before but now I’m enforcing it. The next Kindred who winds up dead is going to be joined by the one that killed him.” He levels a finger. “I don’t care what it is, I don’t care how self-defense it is, if someone tries to engage with you, you disengage and you report.”

(Me: *snorts* “This peace will last about…ten minutes.”)

Anyone violates this,” Bell continues, voice canted suddenly louder to be heard over the fourth wall, “I will come down on them with the wrath of God. Understand me?”

In the long silence that follows, a knock suddenly echoes at the door. It opens and Vannevar Hughes bustles into the room. “Justicar, I received your summons and I have arrived.” He glares at Georgia and Rabenholz as he crosses the floor. “I understand we need to have a conversation about the propriety of certain—”

Just then, Vannevar is interrupted mid-sentence as Theo Bell, with the speed of a springing cobra, blinks across the room and decapitates him.

(*Silence in the room*
Jim: “Oh, shit….”)

Bell’s sword is already back in its scabbard as Vannevar slides to the ground, body disintegrating.

“Have I made myself clear?” Bell growls.

Another silence. “Yes, sir,” Georgia says, curtsying.

Bell turns and points to her. “Set the Chantry up properly. I want full reports.”

“Absolutely.” Georgia turns to walk out of the room.

I didn’t dismiss you yet!” Bell shouts. Georgia stops and comes back.

Bell turns to Anstis. “Handle your business with Flowers outside my sight, or so help me, there’s no ocean trench deep enough for you to get away.”

Anstis nods, for once lacking his trademark grin.

Bell turns to Rabenholz next. “Hold your party, restore things to some semblance of order, and I will personally ensure you don’t have to worry about what van Nuys thinks. Screw this up, and they will never find you.”

Rabenholz nods graciously. “My gratitude.”

Finally, Bell turns to Scout, standing back from the group, staring woodenly at the crumbling body on the floor. “Anything I need to know?” he growls.

There’s a moment’s pause, then Scout blinks and looks up at him. “No, sir.”

Bell’s eyes narrow. “What have you been up to the last few nights?”

“Helping Lord Rabenholz.”

“Did you see what happened with Everton?”

Scout glances at Rabenholz. “I saw part of it, but then I was sent for a swim.”

Bell exhales. “Alright. Keep a low profile and you won’t have to see what happens when I get upset.”

Scout eyes him, then nods curtly.

Bell scans the room. “Are there any questions?”

“May we ask what Mr. Hughes’s specific crimes were that lead to his judgement?” Scout says, staring at the body again.

Bell stalks back to the desk. “I instructed him that this city was off-limits to his personal vendettas. He stepped in, tried to continue old habits, thought the fact that he is in with Vienna would protect him. It didn’t. I am a Justicar of the Camarilla and I supercede all protections and all requirements. Fuck with me and you’ll feel my wrath. And no one is immune.” He sits down heavily in the chair, leather creaking against leather. “Now get the hell out of my office.”

The four file out wordlessly. In the antechamber outside, Rabenholz approaches Georgia. “Ms. Johnson, I hope this means you will reinstate yourself as Regent.”

She fusses with something in her bag. “Maybe. I mean, Hughes wasn’t alone—”

“I think you will find Hughes’s people are quite capable and will assist in your securing of the Chantry.”

Georgia sighs. “Well, I suppose it’s worth a try. Though I worry about their loyalty. You know what happens when you try to trust and it turns out you’re wrong.”

“Ms. Johnson, trust is something for the weak,” Rabenholz says firmly. “And as a mark of leadership, the absence of a staff suggests you are incompetent or unable to govern others. You should keep them, if for nothing other than show.”

Georgia considers this, then nods. “Thank you Lord Rabenholz.”

He bows. “I shall call upon you later this evening. There is the matter of transporting Mr. Lytton to arrange. Till then, it was good to see you again.”

Rabenholz turns to leave and finds Scout has appeared at his shoulder. “Lord Rabenholz, do you require my assistance this evening?” she asks.

“Perhaps. Do not go far away. Stewart may need something.” Rabenholz looks her over. “Ms. Scout, you still haven’t mentioned what you really want here. I may be able to help you with that as well.”

She glances back at Bell’s door, then smiles. “I have been continuing to survive in uncertain situations. That seems to indicate things going well.”

He nods curtly. “Your service has been noted. It may come that I can provide you with some legitimacy. Or lineage, if you so desire. Provided our arrangement continues being mutual and profitable.”

She bows. “That is most generous of you.”

“Good evening, then. We will be in touch.” Rabenholz nods and strides to the elevator.

Meanwhile, Anstis has approached Georgia. “Ms. Johnson. I am hoping to track down another Tremere. One Oliver Thrace.”

Georgia sighs. “Yes, I have heard he may be around.”

“As the returning Regent of the Chantry, perhaps you can make an introduction?”

She shrugs, shifting her bag on her shoulder. “I’ll have to see if I can even contact him.”

Anstis nods. “Keep me apprised.”

“I will.”

“Thank you.”

(Me: “Waaait a minute, we’re all working together…?”
Jim: “We can talk to each other??”
Kara: “Whoaaah…are we on the same…?”
Me: “—Are we all in the same room?
Kara: “Are we on the same quests?
Me: “Yeah, see, we had to complete the Everton quest to even unite. It only took us…two and a half years.”
Jim: “And four characters.”
Jason: “My god…I have a party.”
Jim: “End of night?”
Jason: “No…one more thing.”)

As Georgia walks away, Anstis’s phone rings with an unknown number. He answers. “Speak!”

Anstiiisss,” a low voice greets him.

Anstis’s claws pop. “Flowers,” he growls. “I figured you’d be calling.”

Flower’s voice chuckles. “Tell me something, Anstis. In all this time, haven’t you learned a little thing or two about picking your ships? A pirate must take what he can, but this one’s as ugly as your last.”

“Aye, you seen it, then?”

“Seen it?” Flowers laughs. “Captain, I’m calling you from it right now.”

 

END OF NIGHT

This entry was posted in Story. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 2/09/16

  1. Colleen says:

    Today, in celebration of my birthday, is a double post day 😀 It is also our actual game night, and I celebrated by going even more out on dinner than I usually do (partially cause now with summer break, I have the time again)

  2. ExecuteDumbo says:

    I can actually hear the innocent glee when Jason says he finally has a full party.
    Then the slightly more evil glee when he gives Anstis that phone call.

  3. Seth says:

    Pretty dice! And an amazingly made menu. 🙂

  4. samjackson01 says:

    You were right Colleen that was totally worth the wait! I believe I have Ms. Scout figured out now. I was pretty sure I knew. Now I’m 83.7% sure. Kinda surprised The Dread Captain didn’t frenzy the second he answered the phone…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s