Jason: “Soak eleven lethal.”
Jim: *rolls, stops* “Look at this roll. I want you to look at the shit I’m dealing with.”
Me: *stares at dice* “….What the hell is wrong with you?! 10, 3, 7, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1!”
Jason: “Yeah, so…Jim completely fails to soak any of that lethal damage.”
Me: “You’d better not fucking die before one of us can kill you.”
Rabenholz goes to a small private airfield on the shores of the delta to meet the forces mustered by Rhona. A small crop-duster airplane sits on the tarmac, its vats being loaded with silver nitrate solution, while a few groups of hired mercenaries patrol nearby. Rabenholz speaks with the leaders, then steps away to call Rhona and check on the status of Mount Diablo.
“It’s…strange, sir,” she replies. “Our observations from Chabot Observatory report figures gathered near the peak of the mountain, dancing around a huge bonfire.”
“Werewolves?” Rabenholz asks coolly.
“It was too far to tell.”
“Hmm.” Rabenholz watches as the men test the chemical nozzles on the crop-duster.
“My lord?” Rhona continues after a moment. “Is this actually the end of the world?”
“In full honestly, it is actually two apocalypses at the same time. One on Mount Diablo, and one in Marin. We need to stop them both if we are to survive.”
Rhona takes a slow breath. “How are you planning to deal with the one in Marin?”
“That one for the moment is beyond our reach. Let me know the moment any new developments arise.” He hangs up with Rhona then dials Anstis.
The dark winds of the Shadowlands rage around Anstis in a tempest as he stares at Flagg and the hundreds of tortured spirits chained to him, writhing and shrieking louder than the winds. Flagg grins and lifts his Bible, shining through the chaos. “I have come to show you the glory. Do you accept the blessings of He?”
(Jim: “Can I break those chains somehow?”
Jason: “Only one way to find out.”)
Flagg–aka, Jim Jones–steps toward Anstis. “Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, because thou art with me!” The Bible erupts into flames.
(Jason: “Hey Colleen, congratulations! Flagg’s not your problem right now!”
Me: “That’s true! I do enjoy it when he’s irritating other people.”
Chris: “So charitable.”
Jason: “This is not a game of charity.”
Me: “Because that’s a sin on the Path of the Buccaneer.”)
Anstis snarls and lunges forward, intending to cast Torment to burn Jones and toss him down into a hell-dimension. But before he can touch him, one of the chained spirits whips down to absorb the blow. A piercing shriek echoes across the dimensions, then the spirit withers into dust.
Jones’s grin widens. “I am the many. What hope can you have against the armies of righteousness?”
Rabenholz waits as the call rings and rings. Finally, it’s answered by the voice he now identifies as Everton. “Captain Anstis’s phone.”
“Mr. Everton, is the captain available?”
“I’m afraid the captain has encountered something of a difficulty. He attempted to engage in rather potent necromancy and the spirit he conjured up is one of tremendously powerful and retributive vengeance.”
“Ah,” Rabenholz says. “Would you put him on the phone?”
“Unfortunately I’m not entirely sure where the captain is right now. He disappeared right in front of me not long after he summoned the spirit.
Rabenholz watches the bustle on the tarmac. “Well, how very awkward.”
“Yes, but he is a most accomplished necromancer, as my own return to the mortal realm would attest, so I have every faith he will prevail,” Everton says with an air of disinterest.
“Well if you see him again, let him know preparations in the East Bay are already underway. Events should begin in the next two hours and he should have treated with Orlando by then.”
“I’m sure he has everything under control.”
Nothing is under control.
Flagg stalks forward, chanting brimstone epithets as the fiery Bible in his hand rages and the chaos around them intensifies. Anstis, though, stares at the spirit-chains, unlike anything he’s ever seen before.
(Jim: “I would like to find a way to cut them.”
Jim: “…Occult knowledge?” *grins hopefully*)
Slowly, a fragment of knowledge bubbles to the surface, torn from the memories of the Giovanni Anstis ate centuries ago, and the scene resolves into something familiar. The chains, the spirits…. This is a mortal necromancer who has died and has used his necromancy to bind wraiths to himself to obtain a power from beyond the dead. The Giovanni had heard of them binding one or two, or even a handful.
Jones has hundreds.
(Jason: “What are you going to do?”
Jim: “Uh…eat him?”
Jason: “Well, you can’t diablerize a wraith.”
Chris: “Do you know any other helpful wraiths who could help?”
Holding a hand up to shield his eyes from the increasing light of the book, Anstis mutters some words and summons Carlos.
A moment later, Carlos appears, hands clasped demurely in front of him. “Yes, captain?
Anstis gestures to Jones. “We need to deal with this.”
Jones sneers at them. “You bring forth abominations to halt the righteous? I shall cast the both of you into the lake of hell!”
(Jason: “Carlos, you are a necromancer of some repute, are you not?”
Chris: “He was promised those talents by McMannus, but McMannus pretty much kept him around to amuse himself.”
Jason: “Okay, well you’ve been around the underworld for a while now. And you know this guy. And…oh, oh no….”
*Jason takes Chris into a side-room for off-screen discussion, but brings the recording with them*
Jason: “…Okay, so, Carlos has been busy in the Shadowlands, gathering information from his Sparrows, and all the wraiths whisper about this one. The Reverend. They say he was a madman, a necromancer perhaps, or just a fanatic. He performed a terrible ritual, wherein he sacrificed all of his followers at once, so they would serve him in the afterlife. Why he did this, no one knows. He’s a terrible spirit. Not a spectre per say, but he is a master spirit, with his harem of a thousand wailing damned and tortured souls. The ones he betrayed and murdered in life and now rules despotically in death.”
Chris: “That’s exciting.”
Jason: “Yes, but here is why I took you off-screen. You can’t absorb Flagg’s power, but if you find a way to dispel or destroy this wraith, it is possible you could take up the chains and acquire his menagerie for yourself.”
Chris: “Oh my god, that’s horrifying. That’s fantastic. I wonder what Colleen’s reaction is in the future when she hears this. Colleen, are you crying? Are you cold with fear?”
Jason: “She might be, and she should be. Now, it would be unwise to attack Flagg yourself, since you are a wraith and he could simply add you to the menagerie. But there’s a necromancer here, and a necromancer is a very interesting thing….”)
Carlos eyes Jones and the spirits with his yellowed eyes. “Captain. That one has a reputation here. Do you know how to strike him down?”
“Aye, I’ve tried, but he keeps rising again, protected by his spirits.”
“You’ve tried in the Skinlands, but never tried here,” Carlos suggests.
“And you never will!” Jones shouts and raises his arms. A massive, burning cross explodes into being behind him and the shrieks of the spirits rise in an unholy choir. “I am the Alpha and the Omega! The beginning and the end!!!”
Anstis pops his claws and lunges forward again.
Jones whirls, parrying his attack with the Bible. Agony lances up Anstis’s arm, burning like the cross behind them. Anstis snarls and lunges again, striking harder, ignoring the pain. Jones gestures and one of the chained wraiths is jerked down to intercept the blow, shrieking as as it explodes.
Jones grin widens, firelight glistening off his teeth. “I shall give to him that is a thirst at the water of life!”
(Jim: “Do you just, like, listen to an audiobook of creepy Bible quotes on your way to and from work?”
Me: “He IS an audiobook of creepy Bible quotes.”)
Anstis gathers for another attack, but before he can, Jones lifts the Bible and slaps him with it again.
(Jason: “Soak eleven lethal.”
Jim: *rolls, stops* “Look at this roll. I want you to look at the shit I’m dealing with.”
Me: *stares at dice* “….What the hell is wrong with you?! 10, 3, 7, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1!”
Jason: “Yeah, so…Jim completely fails to soak any of that lethal damage.”
Me: “You’d better not fucking die before one of us can kill you.”)
Searing pain overloads Anstis’s vision, there’s a sense of falling, and then nothingness.
SPIRAL HIVE: PAUL AND TOM
The chaos in the arena continues. Once Paul’s werewolf is down, Tom turns to try rescuing the unconscious prisoners on the dias, starting with Bell.
(Jim: “Because its always obnoxious to be rescued by someone you put a Blood Hunt on.”)
Tom grips the chains covering Bell, fumbling for weak points and straining against them–
(Me: *rolls* “…Okay, so that’s three successes, plus Potence, plus Powerful Arms is….eight successes! On four dice!”
Jason: “See, why can’t you roll more like this, Jim?”
Me: “Sweetheart, here, come look at this. These are the dice you want.”
Jason: “Jim, can you recite those numbers for the recording?”
Jim: “I don’t know what those numbers are because I have never seen those numbers rolled before.”
Jason: “Anyway, Tom breaks the chains with such force that two things happen–”
Jim: “Your shirt rips.”
Jason: “…Okay, three things happen–”)
Metal shrieks, chain-links pop and fly off like bullets, and the black shirt under the tattered remains of Tom’s jacket bursts like an over-ripe melon. The werewolves under Paul’s Majesty-control stop and stare.
(Me: “…Did I just turn everyone around me gay? Just for a moment?”)
Tom pulls the rest of the chains off Bell and lays him down gently. Meanwhile, Paul directs the rest of the Majestied werewolves to break everyone else out.
Meanwhile overhead, the Harumph continues to launch volleys across the writhing horde covering the tiers of the arena. Snodgrass is perched on the bowsprit with his blunderbuss, firing down on what one can only assume are unorthodox targets. Each each shot sends a thermite-hot beam of light down into the chaos, but Snodgrass stops after each to reload with ramrod and powder. Reginald stands behind him, holding extra bags of gunpowder on a silver tray.
Heydrich stands in the midst of the chaos, hands dripping with felfire. Dr. von Natsi is engaging him with a variety of scientific devices, only some of which involve colanders. They shout at each other in German as Heydrich lobs balls of flame limned with darkness and von Natsi draws and discards an unending succession of deathrays from the pockets of his lab coat.
(Jason: “As for Professor Lovelace…I am open to suggestions.”
Me: “It have to be understated, yet powerful—WAIT! The umbrella!”)
Lovelace stands calmly next to von Natsi, firing bolts of flame from the tip of her umbrella with one hand, while casually sipping tea with her other. One werewolf lunges from the mass, snapping at her. In one move, she folds her umbrella and raps it sharply on the snout. The werewolf freezes, then inverts in on itself and melts to the ground.
Seeing that the mages are taking care of Heydrich, Paul scans the chaos for Perpenna. There’s still no sign of him.
So, naturally, Paul decides to just Summon him.
(Chris: *rolls* “Does ‘Persuasive’ count for summoning?”
Chris: “Okay, then that’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten successes. To summon Perpenna.”
Jim: “See, these two are absorbing all the good rolls and leaving me all the bad ones. There’s some sort of mage bullshit going on here and I don’t like it.”)
Feeling the success of the spell, Paul allows himself a smirk. “Tom!”
“What!?” Tom yells back, hoisting Vera as he fires randomly into the crowd.
“We got incoming!”
Tom blasts the jaw off a werewolf and kicks it back. He pauses briefly to scan the chaos. None of it looks particularly more chaotic than anything else around it. “Where?!”
“Give it a second–” Suddenly Paul tenses. His Summons is still going, but another sensation now tugs at him: another Summons, just as strong, pulling in the exact opposite direction.
Paul finds himself stepping off the dais. “Tom! Tom, help me!”
Tom turns around to see Paul staggering woodenly away. Realizing what’s happening, he hoists Vera into one hand and grabs Paul with the other. Paul struggles, compelled to follow the Summons no matter what, but is helpless against Tom’s grip. Slowly, though, he finds his gaze drifting up to meet Tom’s eyes as other defenses instinctively kick in.
(Chris: “…Entrancement.” *rolls*
Me: “What?! Do I get any chance to resist?”
Chris: “No, but the difficulty is your current willpower.”
Me: “Okay, then that would be…three.”
Chris: “…Okay, then that’s seven successes. And considering how the chart in the book says that just five successes means you love them for one year….”
Jason: “You know, Tom, you never noticed how beautiful Paul’s eyes are!”
Me: “…I don’t want to love you.”
Jason: “Welcome to Vampire!!”)
Tom tenses, blinking in confusion. His grip slackens.
“Tom, he’s Summoning me,” Paul says. “He’s summoning me. Let me go. Don’t let me go. He’s Summoning me! I have to see him, don’t let me go, Tom!”
Tom stares, slack-jawed, as conflicting and unfamiliar emotions roll through him. “Paul, what the fu–”
Paul grabs his arm. “I have to go, Tom! Let me go, but whatever you do, don’t let me go!!!” He stares pleadingly into Tom’s eyes.
(Me: “…I shoot his legs off.”)
(Now, once again, the true humor of this situation is also enjoyable while listening to the audio segment of the incident.)
Blood sprays, bone shatters, and Paul collapses to the sand. “WHAT THE FUCK!!! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING!?! WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO THAT!??”
Tom glares down at him. “You told me to stop you from moving! Clearly it worked–”
Jason: “You know all those werewolves Paul had Majestied?”
Jim: “You just harmed their god.”
Tom trails off, suddenly noticing the eerie calm that has erupted around them, like the eye of the storm. More fighting rages in the distance, but in the immediate vicinity, all the werewolves Paul had under his control have stopped and turn to stare. A low growl rises from dozens of throats. The wolves crouch, slathering, then almost as one, tense to leap–
(Me: “GAH!! Shadownova!!!!”
Jason: “…Actually that’s not a bad idea.”
Me: “Cause this is what I made it for!!”)
Tom hunkers down over Paul as he summons the Shadownova. A dark shockwave rolls out, but far less powerful than the one he called on before. The wolves stumble back, but from confusion more than injury. Perplexed, Tom tries to call upon the Abyss once again, but this time it fizzles and dies completely. The power recedes from his mind, as if something was redirecting it….
Suddenly darkness boils forth from a portcullis on the far side of the arena. The werewolves battling in front of it stop, stepping back, as the shadow tears the grate off with a shriek and flows into the arena like a storm. As it approaches the miasma peels away, revealing the suited form of Perpenna strolling in its midst.
Holding the werewolf cub.
Perpenna stalks across the gory sand, eyes boiling with hate, intent on Paul and Tom. Werewolves scurry from his path, and those that don’t move fast enough are torn back by the shadow. Silence falls across the arena in a widening circle.
Paul heals his legs and scrambles back to his feet. “Hey, that’s my houseguest you’re holding!”
“You think yourselves clever,” Perpenna whispers, but the sound carries as clear as a gunshot. “Both of you. Neonates play-acting in the realm of your elders. You know how to make a mess. But not how to achieve true greatness. Why are you here? Industrialist…and the Sodomite.
Glaring, Tom swings Vera around.
“Do not threaten me with that toy of yours!” Perpenna drops the cub at his feet and raises his arms. A swarm of tendrils tears from the darkness, tree-trunk thick. Tom dodges back but one grabs Paul, dragging him through the air to hover in front of Perpenna.
Perpenna stares into Paul’s face and smiles. “You would match will with one such as me?”
Paul stares back. “You mean a dick?”
Perpenna snarls. With a gesture, the tendril throws Paul at Tom.
(Jason: “It’s dark. It’s cold. Captain…how do you always get into these situations?”
Jim: “My fucking dice! I have put away my regular dice and am using backup dice for the remainder of this session. They have earned a time-out!”)
Anstis comes to in a stone-walled cell. Dark, dank air fills the room, drifting in through an iron-barred door. Manacles weigh down his hands and feet and as he struggles against them, he realizes he’s dressed in rags.
(Jim: “They stole my clothes!? Oh heeeeell no!”)
Drums echo in the distance with a military cadence. A hangman’s dirge.
Footsteps approach down the hall and a figure appears in front of the door, dressed in clothes even finer than the ones Anstis just lost: Bartholomew Roberts. His old captain. “Anstis,” he says with a sad chuckle, “So it’s come to this.”
Anstis jerks against the chains. “Did you bring me here?”
“Nay, Captain, you did it yourself.” Roberts pulls up a rotted stool from somewhere and eases himself down on. “Why did you do it, Anstis? Why did you betray me? With my own ship, my crew, my treasure?”
Anstis shrugs. “It was time to strike out on me own. The ocean was big enough for both of us.”
“The ocean is big enough for many raiders, but not ones who steal from their own. The prizes weren’t enough for you Thomas?” Roberts peers at him, then shakes his head. “Nay, of course they weren’t. You weren’t interested in gold, or women, or sunshine anymore.”
Anstis glares back. “You wanted to leave, and there was no treasure where you were headed.”
“In Madagascar?” Roberts chuckles in disbelief. “Nay, just the wealth of the Indes! The Mughal’s fleets.” His humor dies in the silence and he leans forward. “You abandoned me, Thomas. You weren’t there when the Royal Navy sent their warships against us. When they cut me in half with a broadside and hanged the rest of the crew. And what did it get you? A few scarce weeks of unlife before you were betrayed in turn.”
Anstis spreads his manacled arms. “And is this what you wanted?”
“What I wanted? What I wanted, Thomas, was to be king of the rogues, if a rogue I must be. A fleet of my own. And for a time I had that.”
Anstis grins. “And what if you could have that again?”
Roberts shakes his head sadly. “Far too late for that. I’m dead, Thomas, dead and gone. You’re dead too, though not quite gone. Dead and damned, and you’ve damned the rest of us with you.” In the distance, the drums grow louder, steady as a heartbeat.
“Do you know what happened to Morgan?” Anstis asks.
Robert’s face darkens. “Aye,” he says softly. “It wasn’t pretty.”
“He still around?”
“Of a sort.” Suddenly Roberts stands. “You’re a monster, Anstis, but there be greater monsters than ye about.” He turns and starts to walk down the hall.
Roberts stops, then returns to the cell and eyes Anstis. “What do ye care about Perpenna?”
Anstis meets his gaze. “No man should have what Perpenna is about to have.”
Roberts watches him a long, silent moment. “Well then. What do you propose to do about it?”
Anstis grins wide, the tentacles on his face writhing in rhythm with the drums. “What we do best. Take.”
(Jason: “Jim. Conviction test.”
Jim: “One success.”
Jason: “Good. You’ve made the proper justification. Which means I don’t have to dock you Path points. Do you know why I might dock them for you?”
Jim: “I’m not sure?”
*silence in the room*
Jim: “…In what way?”
Jason: “You just told Bartholomew Roberts that someone has to stop Perpenna, for the good of the world. The weight of the world may not be on your shoulders because you’re going to arrange it that way, but it does have to be carried. Charity.”
Jim: “That’s…fair enough.”
Jason: “But no worries, you justified it to yourself properly. All’s well with rogues and monsters.”)
Roberts grins. “Well then, Thomas. You best go do it.”
The light fades again, sinking into black, but as it does the drumrolls increase. Now their sound isn’t so much a call to death as a call to war.
SPIRAL HIVE: PAUL AND TOM
Paul flies through the air. Tom catches him awkwardly and stumbles back to fall in the sand. Above them, the mages are still battling, occupied with Heydrich, and apparently haven’t noticed Perpenna’s arrival or his encroaching shadow.
“Tom,” Paul whispers as they scramble to their feet, “I’m going to distract Perpenna. Get the cub, take it to Lovelace.”
“And when you distract me, Mr. Stewart” Perpenna yells across the arena, “Am I to emit a scream and cry and rend my hair? Just what is it you think you face?”
Paul glares at him a moment. “Well….” He pulls out his phone and holds it to his mouth. “Siri, launch In Case of Vampires Break Glass.”
Two tendrils lunge at Paul. He throws himself out of the way as his phone beeps in acknowledgement and begins cycling through a loading screen. Paul clutches it to himself as he scrambles away from more tendril attacks.
(Jason: “The app will take a minute, reception is poor down here.”
Me: “And it probably has to download updates.”)
Finally, familiar cartoon letters load on the screen and cheerful voice plays: “Thank you for selecting In Case of Vampires Break Glass….”
Paul holds his thumb to the screen and launches himself at Perpenna just as Tom regains his feet and throws himself forward as well. Perpenna stands as vampires approach, smiling…
…As a thunderous Shadownova erupts from him.
(Me: “What the hell!? THAT’S MY THING!!!”)
Energy echoes through cavern like a thunderclap. Tom holds his footing but Paul is smashed back against the far wall of the arena, eardrums ruptured, werewolves and crates piled next to him. Paul checks his phone but it’s destroyed in his hand. Overhead, the ethership has smashed up against ceiling and lists to the port side.
(Me: *arms folded, grumbles* “It’s my thing….”
Jason: “It is, and Perpenna liked it so much.”
Me: “So, what, he saw it once and decided to do it too?”
Me: “I don’t understand….”
Jason: “No, you don’t.”)
The dust finally settles. There’s no sign of the mages. Tom stares around, bewildered…
…And stops as he finds Perpenna standing right in front of him.
Tom stares a moment. “…How did you do that?”
Perpenna smiles. “You have tasted shadow. I am shadow.”
Shadows boil up around them. Perpenna’s form begins to swell….
Paul climbs to his feet, healing his ruptured eardrums, then tenses. A spiral dancer is crouched next to him, staring at him over a slavering maw. The werewolf cocks its head.
“Paul?” it asks in Sophia’s voice.
Paul stares as the image of the spiral dancer flickers, then disappears, revealing Sophia’s red werewolf form underneath. She grins a wolfish smirk and holds up a small hockey-puck shaped device with a lens on top.
“Is that what I think it is?” Paul asks.
Sophia nods. “A holographic projector. Sort of. Are you alright?”
Paul looks at the remains of his phone, then dejectedly tucks it away. “I’m woozy, but I’m okay.”
She stares across the arena, where Perpenna has suddenly grown seven feet tall. “Paul, we gotta get out of here right now….”
Perpenna’s form rises to tower over me. I’m still equal parts angry and worried that he seems to have copied my Shadownova trick, but worry is starting to win. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Paul getting to his feet and decide to distract Perpenna as long as I can. “If you’re gonna eat the world, might as well start with me.”
Perpenna smiles. “I will not devour you.” He leans down closer. “I will make you beg me for it, then deny it for a thousand years.”
Neck craned, I stare back up at him. “…So you’re into edging, that’s cool.”
Instantly his humor evaporates. “I am your lord and master. The blood you stole is mine by right. I shall drag it from you, drop by drop.”
“What blood I stole?”
“You have that which is mine, given to you by an unworthy benefactor. And mine it shall be again.”
One of the tendrils lunges toward me. I heft Vera and open fire.
Paul and Sophia watch as this unfolds. Sophia grabs his arm. “Paul we have to go.”
Paul shakes his head. “We need to get the cub.” The cub is still behind Perpenna, huddled against the sand, half-shrouded by the growing shadows.
Sophia shakes her head. “I couldn’t find the cub, but—”
“What do you mean? She’s right there.” Paul points. “Can you use the hologram to project a fake cub so you can go grab the real one?”
Sophia shifts nervously. “…Look, Paul, none of this has gone the way I wanted it to. Since I met you’ve I’ve had to do things I never thought I’d have to do, made choices I never imagined….”
Paul turns to her. “What are you talking about?”
“I need you to tell me the truth.” Sophia takes a slow breath. “Can you tell me if I did something I shouldn’t have?”
“…What have you done?”
“I couldn’t find the cub, but I found something else.” She lifts the holographic projector. “And I had a spare one of these….”
Vera herself seems angry as fiery rounds leap from her maw. Each blast shudders through me, awakening new rage. Perpenna writhes under the onslaught, shrinking as pieces of flesh fly off to evaporate into shadow….
….Then he straightens, smiling, and walks toward me.
Screaming in anger, I step forward. Slugs strong enough to kill a semi-truck unload into Perpenna at point-blank range but still he strides forward, a malicious grin on his face and his body and clothes untouched by damage. Finally, he stops in front of me and lifts a hand.
Vera’s ammo belt snaps. Slowly, she clicks down to silence.
Perpenna smiles. “Now…kneel.”
A wave of psychic will overwhelms me, freezing my muscles and forcing me down. I struggle to resist but slowly, inevitably, I sink to my knees in the blood-soaked sand. Perpenna lifts Vera from my shoulders, one handed, and tosses her away like a toy. He lifts his hand. Shadows encompass it and flow out, forming into a blade of pure darkness. I’m still frozen as he places the solid shard of shadow against the base of my throat.
“I have suffered you and your ilk long enough,” he says, a sick hunger on his face. “Your blood is mine. Your soul is mine. Your very essence shall dance at my command until the end of time.”
(Jason: “Got a line?”
Me: “Actually no, in-character I am way beyond wisecracks at this point.”
Jim: “He did tell you to kneel.”
Me: “I know, and the fact that he set me up like that and I’m not saying anything should tell you how terrified I am.”)
My eyes dart around, looking for anything that could help, some hope hidden amongst the snarling ranks of werewolves. Vera lies in the sand nearby, broken. I catch a glimpse of Paul and Sophia watching in horror on the far side of the arena. But there’s nothing they can do. No one is coming. Not this time.
(Me: “…I mean, I have some ideas of what to say, but they might be too bad.”
Jim: “Well, the situation couldn’t get much worse, so….”)
Muscles trembling, I venture cautiously, “Is this my last moment of self-will?”
Perpenna grins. “Yes. Scream defiance, Brujah.” The blade presses deeper, piercing my skin. “Scream for me, your master.”
I close my eyes a moment, feeling the grit of sand under my knees, the stinking breeze stirred by the breath of monsters, trying to absorb as much of the last few pitiful sensations of life I can. Then I take a deep, slow breath, open my eyes, and meet Perpenna’s gaze. “…Considering how much Marcus’s father fucked you, I assumed you’d be a bottom.”
Silence falls. Time seems to slow. For a moment, Perpenna’s form shrinks, as if in shock that this nothing of a Brujah neonate would continue to talk back to him, even now.
Then white hot rage engulfs his face. But even in the face of an imminent methuselah frenzy, a brief spark of triumph swells through me. At least this way I’ll die quickly now–
But before Perpenna can drive his blade home, the cub behind him stands up and clicks a small device held in its paw. The illusion dissolves, revealing Marcus. The real Marcus. He meets my eyes as he draws his sword, and opens his mouth to speak:
Then in one movement, Marcus leaps and plunges every millimeter of his blade into Perpenna’s back.
(Jason: “Now, I wanted to end the night there, but we have a little bit of extra time, so instead I’ll do one final thing….”)
ANSTIS’S UNKNOWN LOCATION
Anstis wakes up once again in the dark, but bound in thick chains, with a gag in his mouth.
He struggles. By the feel of it, he’s in a coffin. But before he can focus on breaking free, there’s the sound of approaching footsteps. Long, pale fingers reach under the lip of the coffin and open it, revealing a richly-decorated room above.
And the grinning, genderless, elegant face of Orlando.
“Captain….” the Tzimisce Voivode says with a sigh.
Anstis mumbles a greeting.
Orlando reaches down to pull the gag out of his mouth. “So nice to see you awake. You had me worried that I had made a bad bargain.”
Anstis frowns. “A bargain? But we haven’t yet made a bargain.”
“Oh, the bargain wasn’t with you. See, you’ve been offered to me. As a welcoming gift.”
Anstis falls still. “…From whom?”
“Why, Dr. Everton of course.”
Anstis lays another moment in shock, then fury burns across his face.
Orlando chuckles. “Oh, Captain.” It reaches a long finger down to stroke Anstis’s skin, his flesh rippling under its touch. “You and I are going to have so much fun!”
(Me: “It’s just what you wanted! Hanging out more with Orlando!!”
Jim: “…I blame my fucking dice.”)
END OF NIGHT
Yes, after a crazy summer, we’re finally getting back under way here, but with a subtle twist. Next time I will post an update with an important game announcement that I think many have been waiting for….