Nightfall Over Peridus

Game Eleven: The Man in the Box

A night at The Fallen Prince.

Ring-O Ring-O Rosie’s
Flánnan

Upon finding himself lying on the cold stone floor, Flánnan realised that he had been kidnapped. Again. Someone really had it in for him, and even if it killed him, he was going to get to the bottom of what the hell was going on in Peridus. He was supposed to be the big-shot criminal, the one who people feared… he was not supposed to be the one that kept being kidnapped. He brooded, in the darkness for a short while, before it came to his attention that he should probably be looking into finding a way out of this joint, and not smoldering in the darkness.

Looking around, Flánnan took in his surroundings: there was a large boxy shaped item in one corner, the place had no windows, and a very small light source coming from a small hole in the brick wall standing opposite him. With this shadow on the floor, and the light coming from the other side, Flánnan could ascertain that the room his was in was an attachment to this other room. Taking a closer look, he could see long and tall wooden shelves, and a set of stairs on the far side. As his eyes became accustomed to the dank and dingy gloom he evaluated his options. Number One: Escape. It appeared that his captors had already thought of that. Escape. As he walked towards the small aura of light that was being cast onto the floor, he felt the restraint around his ankle. What he did notice, however, was the fact that his ankle had been in much less pain that it had been the last time that he has walked on it… almost if someone had turned some medical attention to it, whilst he was in his forced unconsciousness. Number Two: Untie himself. This was going all well and good – Flánnan traced the rope restraint around his ankle back to the box in the corner. Feeling around, his fingers touched the cool steel links of a long chain, and the rough texture of concrete. This was a box, he could feel the lip of its lid. As he was hunting in the dark for the end of his tether, he was aware of a hand on his shoulder, pulling him to his feet. Untying himself. It was Rosie Wickens, his former lady-friend and acquaintance, and the woman that had saved him in the hospital. He owed her quite a lot, come to think of it. She pulled him to his feet, and began striking up conversation, before another hand was on his shoulder, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Turning around, he saw her again, Rosie, now stood (somewhat impossibly) in two places at once. Another female voice for the corner of the room: Rosie’s voice. Flánnan was worldly wise: he knew that only one was the real Rosie, and the others were just… well he put it down to smoke and mirrors.

Okay, Rosie’s… I am going to ask you a question. It will be a question that only the real Rosie will be able to answer. A few weeks ago, you and I went out to a… to a cultural festival and there was a man there with whom I did not get on. What was his name?

Another voice answered, speaking just one word in deep, dangerous, male tones. “Pete,” said the voice, and Flánnan found himself falling into darkness once again.

Hungry Like the Wolf
Charles, and Sybil

Waking up next to Sybil for the first time in nearly three months was sheer bliss. This cottage finally felt like home again, and Charles realised that it was Sybil that made this place feel like home. After all, a house is made of brick and stone, but only love can make it home. Charles smiled, and nuzzled into Sybil’s shoulder, planting a small kiss on her neck before swinging his legs over the side of the bed and forced himself to sit up. He had the animals to tend to – twenty-one hungry beaks, two little mouths, and Sir Bennett. Getting a mixture of bread crumbs and the last of the oats, Charles scattered the feed onto the stone floor downstairs.

Just enough to keep them hungry, and keep them here, and maybe a few will fight to the death…

It wasn’t that he felt callous towards them, or hated them, but there was an awful lot of them, and they were really rather messy. He feed a much nice meal to Mickey and Minnie – he had grown to enjoy keeping mice, and so prepared them some small pieces of fruit and vegetables, and some of the cheese that he had brought especially for them. He went to greet Sir Bennett, and shared his plans for this evening. Heading back inside, Sybil was up and busying herself around the house, before Charles told her to go and change into her new outfit, ready for the evenings festivities at The Fallen Prince. With eyes full of enjoyment and excitement, she went back upstairs, a spring in her step. Charles, too, goes to change. Choosing a tweed jacket in brown, with a darker silk lining. A crisp white shirt. Red patterned tie. Cuff links. Shiny black shoes… the works. 25 minutes later, Sybil appears and looks simply ravishing.

Charles confesses his hunger, and with Sybil stating that she could eat, the two of them plan a route to the centre of Peridus, where Sir Bennett could take them most of the way, whilst taking a detour through a place where the two of them knew that they could feed before heading to their destination. And they were in luck.

A group of nine homeless men where sat around a fire pit that burned bright and orange against the night. Knowing that nine was too much to handle, Charles put on his best most convincing dog voice, and barked and yapped viciously making seven of them flee as fast as they could. Two remained; two that hand more than a good skin full. They were barely conscious, lazily sipping at a bottle of spirits, concealed in a crumbled, grubby, brown paper bag. With their backs to where Charles and Sybil crouched, concealed in the shrubbery, Charles stole some ground and crept closer. Slowly, quietly, arms poised for destruction, his hands came down hard, and collided the heads together with an audible crack. Springing up in a drunken stupor, one of the tramps went to run forwards but instead stumbled through the fire pit, his threadbare coat catching light at the bottom. Panic-stricken, he tripped on one of the log sections that was being used as a seat and ended up face down in the dirt, out cold… except for his coat which was burning up nicely. The other slumped down, toppling backwards, and landing face up, eyes closed. Both kindred drink their fill from the two men, leaving them enough vitae to remain alive. They do however find that they take on some of the alcoholic effects that this meal has previously been consuming, though both are able to hold it well.

It is a full moon, and the way it lit well. Helping his lady onto their mount, the two continue to ride pillion, staying nice and close to one another on the ride into the town.

Paranoia
Arthur

Arthur awakens, immediately feeling the crushing anxiety of needing a fix. And it was dreadful. Eventually able to drag himself for his bed, he gets up and goes downstairs, putting on a blue-striped dressing gown as he leaves his room. He finished tying the cord as he entered the kitchen, to see his ghouls seated at the dining table, gossiping together, with their final cups of tea for the day. Lavender Elslow, Karen Porter, and Marjory Saxton all close together, around one end of the table in their nightclothes. Anna Marcella Barnham was the only person who was dressed. Her hair was scraped back into a tight pony-tail, plain black cigarette trousers, a black leather jacket… all completely out of style for her usual fashion, as she looked almost masculine. Arms crossed, a lit cigarette in one hand, Anna was stressing, clock watching. Tonight was the night.

Lavender was a little distant, listening to the chatter of the other two women, blowing the steam of her tea. As Arthur entered the room, she jumped. Even though she was trying not to make a thing of it, Arthur had already noticed. Wondering if everything is alright, Arthur’s curiosity got the better of him, and he verbalised his concerns. Confessing everything, Lavender tells him that she had been plagued by the feeling of someone watching her, constantly. Shadows in doorways, and as she took fresh air out in the grounds. The creak of a floor board, the shuffle of a footstep on carpet down the corridor… Noticeably stressed, Arthur holds his hand up to stop her before she had the chance to break down on him. He didn’t have time for that. Once she had regained her calmness, she offered an apology and also admitted that she didn’t come to him with her concerns because he had enough on his plate with his current… condition. She worded everything carefully, not wanting him to unleash his anxiety as an angry beast on her for saying the wrong word.

If I were you, I’d keep a candle with you, just in case this is the work of some kindred who thinks that stalking around my property is an acceptable form of gathering information on others.

After announcing his plans to the room, Arthur retreated back upstairs to change and prepare himself for the nights activities; {he uses blush of life at this time.} Not choosing his usual dress, he decided he was going to play it cool tonight, choosing more casual attire. More trendy musician than rival club owner. A long leather jacket over a white shirt, no tie, top button undone. Heading back down the stairs, jacket swooping as he does do, he sees that Anna had already left. She was to be protection for the relocation of her family, protection for those that now had no idea that she existed. Arthur would have liked to have been there, to help, and yet he was getting ready… to go out to a bar. Unable to shake the anxious feeling, Arthur left the house at 2030, even though the official opening was happening at 2200. Sat in his car, knuckles turning white with the strength that he was gripping onto the steering wheel, giving him cramp in his knuckles.

Parking up in an empty side road, Arthur begins to start a Theban Sorcery ritual. Taking a deep breath and holding onto it, he tries to focus on the vitae coursing around his body. Willing it, Arthur’s depravity of the red stuff means that his focus on it was impeccable. After fifteen minutes, he was ready to continue. Inside, his blood began to congeal and turn stringy. After a further thirty minutes, Arthur could feel the tension inside him, and his vitae was poised like a coiled snake ready for the opportune moment. With forty-five minutes until the doors to The Fallen Prince were officially opened, Arthur pulls out of the side road, and begins cruising around, looking for Harriet Taylor or Patrick Cattedown. There are lots of crowds around, which Arthur presumes are whittling time until the opening. Many many faces, none of which he recognised. Giving up, and not wanting to be late, he parks up and heads towards the address listed on the leaflet that came through his door.

The Man with the Eyes
Patrick

After Patrick decided to murder his ghouls and leave their bodies in the woods the situation with Patrick’s ghouls, he had no need to feed when he woke up, feeling utterly sated. Waking up on the dusty, dirty floor, Patrick realised he was surrounded by corpses, paled and rotting. The face of the lady next to him had a bluish tinge, with sunken eyes, with lips taught into a cruel smile as the decomposition process had tightened the skin. He heard rustling in the far corner and, whilst there was no trace of the scent of blood, two of the bodies were rising off the ground. A hideous sight – skin too tight, nails long, hair unkempt. Eyes black, lips pale, the definition of cheek bones visible so strongly, that they might rip through the papery skin. Standing silently, the two Revenants caught sight of each other and, filled with the innate want to destroy anything and everything that is remotely in their way. Black eyes met with black eyes. Cruel lips smiled at cruel lips. And a savage onslaught of bites and kicks and scratches. Seizing his chance, Patrick ran up the wooden staircase to gain a better view at this death match.

The factory was old, the stairs rickety. Every step on the wooden boards, a risk. Leaning against the banister, the Revenants were just out of sight. Stretching out further, placing all his weight and trust in the rotten, weak wooden beam. Tumbling down, he fell in a empty space on the floor. Around him, the bodies were lain in pattern, though Patrick was too concerned in watching the fight to pay much attention to how the dead had been positioned. One devastating blow to the neck, and a pitiless hand burst through paper skin and chalky bone, a black gullet flying forth from its tubular casing. The victor turned, eyes of obsidian staring around for it’s next target. It was at this point that Patrick clapped his hands, drawing the attention of this monstrosity, this beastly creature not of this earth. It was then, unfrightened, that Patrick spoke in a voice that echoed around the cold air.

You shall follow me.

Eyes locked, the blackness almost faded, arms and head drooped in defeat, and the walking corpse staggered towards Patrick, mesmorised. A new little foot soldier, Patrick was thrilled. The two compadre’s traversed the room, heading towards the exit. More stairs, though better made this time. They didn’t creak as they were walked up, they showed no hint of breaking or giving way. Sending his new friend, Patrick’s Revenant, hereby nicknamed ‘Bloody’, first, it quickly became apparent that they were not alone.

On the staircases above where Patrick and Bloody stood, many sets of eyes loomed down at them. Not dark eyes, not ebony like Bloody’s, but eyes of all different colours. The final pair at the top, belonged to a tall, skinny looking man. They looked a bit… wild. But perhaps the most striking, was the fact that one of them was a gentle blue and crystal waters, like sapphires, the other a harsh shade of vitae crimson, rubies glittering, the jewels of his face. He cackled loudly, drawing the attention of all around him. Then he waved his hand towards the two intruders, and the swarm snapped into action. Further up the stairs, Bloody was first in line for attack. Five of them surrounding him, grabbing arms and legs, and all pulling in opposite directions. Judging by the look on Bloody’s face, if he could scream, he would have. This just made the man with the eyes cackle harder and louder, as he enjoyed the show. And then, as quickly as the cackling started, he stopped. Glowering, he directed his waves towards Patrick, stop up, made as if to run behind his minions… and then disappeared.

Commanding Bloody to take a stand, he won the grapple and broke free, taking a destructive swipe at one of the kindred swarm, a hefty blow. Stealing away, pumping his arms as fast as he could, Bloody ran, following his new leader as they fled the scene. As they get to the exit of the Tolgasia Tin Mine, the walls were plastered with flyers, advertising the opening of a hip and happening eatery… that was having its opening night, on this very night.

Chess is War over the board.
Flánnan

The floor was cold on his cheek as he began to come around. The back of his head was sore, pounding. Sitting up slowly, he noticed that the room was slightly different. For one, there was what looked like a bathtub in the corner of the room, and upon further investigation, Flánnan could see that the chained up box actually had a lid. A lid that had been disturbed in the time that he was out cold. Listening out carefully, he could hear the quiet rumblings of chatter, music and footsteps from somewhere above. Peering out of the small brick opening, there seemed to be no evidence of anyone there. Following the bindings on his foot back to its roots – he was attached to the box! Turning the knot over and over in his hands, he spent a long time teasing at the twisted twine. At last he felt it loosen, spurring him on. Oh so gently, Flánnan followed its contours, flexing it in his hands. Finally, after nearly an hour, the rope gave out in his hands and he was free.

He felt a presence in the secret room. A hooded, roped figure stood there, arms in it’s sleeves. It gave no hint as to it’s gender; it did not speak. Ignoring them, Flánnan went over to where the wall was knocked through. Getting onto his hands and knees, he surveyed the room on the other side: a cellar. The room was full of wooden shelves, stacked with smaller-than-normal wine glasses. Tucked away on the bottom shelf of the wooden structure in immediately in front of him was something made of silver. Crawling out through the hole, he went towards it. From this height, it really stuck out. It was an ornate chalice, etched and molded with precision and perfection. There was a space where something once sat – a ruby jewel to offset the silver. It was put back on the shelf, with no more attention paid to it.

The room really was boring. Shelves and a set of wooden stairs. Taking a glance up the stairwell, Flánnan takes his rage out on the wooden banister struts, knowing that the figure it watching him. He was to use it as a weapon, to break him out of here. Using his feet, and a few well placed destruction maker, he felt a hand on his shoulder again. He wasn’t about to be knocked out again, so rather than whirling around, he continued his assault; the wood was splintering, he was not about to give up now! All of a sudden, he felt compelled to stop and turn around. His hands fell to his sides, his demeanor changed, and his body language conveyed placidity. He could not see the face of his controller, his watcher. And his mind was still aflame with fury. Flánnan lay down a challenge. A game of chess. The object? To crush the opponents mind. The figure walked Flánnan back to his ‘accomodation’. As the robed person left the room, they uttered one word.

Yes.

Meeting the Prince
Arthur

Arthur makes it to Number One, Coldhardbour Lane at near enough 10pm exactly. Coming up to the entrance, he saw a man and a woman standing on the door. The man was holding a small silver tray with one hand, the other tucked neatly behind his back. He was wearing a black tuxedo with tails, a crisp white shirt and had neatly styled hair – all in all, very smart. Looking Arthur up and down, the man on the door held the tray out to Arthur as he approached, offering him a drink.

As a kindred, Arthur deliberates over taking up the over, his hand hovering over one of the glasses. The next thing he remembers, Arthur is inside the threshold of the door, glass in hand, taking a sip of the wine-coloured liquid. With a smug smile, and as a fellow user of this discipline, Arthur realises instantly that he has been dominated and can’t help but have a small amount of admiration for the man. Turning back around, holding his glass up in a mock toast, Arthur drinks to his good health before going back to surveying the room. It is early, and not many people have arrived, though it gives him a chance to really thoroughly look around the place: the decor is modest, minimalist in comparison to his own, with the walls a mixture of duck-egg-blue and wooden cladding. The walls are framed with plaster alcoves, forming little white plaster archways with golden detailing in the alone the middle, about hip-height. The bar, a long curvature piece, looking like the cross section from a particularly old and large tree, rustic and yet stunning to observe. Behind it, sleek black shelving, jarring in comparison to the blues, but totally eye-catching at the same time. The staff all dressed in modest black clothing, small apron pouches, shirts and ties. He thinks he recognises one of the women… and old fling perhaps? But he couldn’t be sure. He’d known a lot of women.

It was at this point, that Arthur realised that there was something… odd about the wine contents of his glass. Which each sip, he was feeling almost nourished, fulfilled. A familiar texture, warmness, the caress inside the neck. This most certainly was not your ordinary vintage.

Meeting the Prince
Charles, and Sybil

Strolling up to the doors of The Fallen Prince, arm in arm, Charles and Sybil were greeted with the two staff members on the door. With one arm tucked behind his back, the Doorman held out a small silver tray dotted with glasses filled with a wine-coloured liquid. A little hesitant to take their glasses at first, Charles and Sybil deliberated to each other in hushed tones. The next thing Charles remembered, he was inside the threshold of the door, glass in hand, taking a sip of the wine-coloured liquid., with Sybil just behind him and doing just the same.

Scanning the room, Charles immediately spots none other than Arthur Bexley, walking woodenly around the room, seemingly on edge. Lolloping towards him, Arthur managed to turn just in time to see his acquaintance as he was entering his personal space. Had Arthur not seen Charles, his anxiety and paranoia would have gotten the better of him, and sent him into a vicious frenzy.

ARTHUR BEXLEY!

From what he could see, Arthur was not best pleased to be in the company of someone he knew. In fact, Charles saw a totally different Arthur immediately from just the way he was dressed – casual, and not one bit the smart and polished man that usually graced the floors of The Hemlock Heights. This man in front of him was on edge, looked uncomfortable in the presence of others, and looked rather ragged.

With some small talk between the three kindred stood in the centre of the room, allowing the opening night to go on around them. Members of staff, ferrying silver trays with more glasses of wine whirl around them, kine and kindred milling together in one room. The air was heavy, heavy with suspense. After some catching up, Charles taking control of the conversation, Arthur giving closed anwsers… Arthur finally breaks the ice between them, by uttering the thing at the forefront of his mind.

Charles, we can drink the wine.

That thought had already occurred to Charles, but he was far more interested in spending the night in the company of the beloved. He was totally in awe of this woman, who had suddenly been so much in such a short amount of time, and had gone missing seemingly without a trace… but now she was back with him, back in his company, and that made him feel alive. It was at this point that he decided that the way Arthur treats women, chiding him. Keeping on the reserved verbal bombardment, Charles brings Mistress Charlotte into the conversation, at which Arthur visibly tenses – he simply wasn’t in the mood to talk about her. Agitated, Arthur is adamant that he did the right thing at Paradise Estate, adamant that by giving Charlotte a subtle telling off by removing one of her pawns from the situation, and that he must surely be allowed to not see the funny side of her trying to marry off his ghouls to some weirdos. For what? Her own personal gain? He couldn’t help but crack a smile on his china countenance. Deciding that this was the time to leave the conversation, Arthur bid his friends farewell with a simple “excuse me,” and a directional gesture with his right hand, and sauntered to the bar, in the hope of getting another drink – this time, one that he wanted.

To his annoyance, the two of them followed. His addiction was drawing him tighter than the skin of a drum. Too tight, and he was going to break.

Shadows in the Woods
Patrick

He broke into a run. Was there someone following Bloody and him, or was that just the rising feeling of paranoia? In the woods, it felt like hundreds of eyes followed your every move, watching your fate unravel. Many a lost wanderer had met their end in Peridus Woods. Casting his eyes behind him fearfully, Patrick could not be certain that he wasn’t being followed by the fledgling kindred that he had mistakenly come across in the abandoned tin mine. The uncertainty bit at his heels, so much so that Patrick diverted his route so that it would take him through the darker parts of the woods, where he could move about the shadows as close to unseen as a kindred could get (without obfuscate of course…). He picks up the pace. By his rough estimations, the positioning of the stars, and the growing light pollution visible on the horizon, town was still a fair way away. And he still had to find the exact location of the place. Grasping in his pocket for the flyer, he pulled out the crumpled, slighted faded paper piece. Number One, Coldharbour Lane, Rough Town. He could make it there in a little over thirty minutes.


He strolled, as casually as he could, up to the front door of The Fallen Prince. He had taken the time to brush the dirt and twigs from his hair, and dusted off his clothes but, the true fact of the matter was that he looked a little bit… scary. This, however, was overshadowed by the truly monstrous appearance of his plus one. Pale, gaunt, evil black beads set deep in the cavities where pearls of white and blue should be. All the same, the lady on the door greeted them with a warm smile, and the gentleman dressed in a tux held out a silver tray dotted with small glasses of a burgundy-wine liquid. Unsure of how Bloody would be, Patrick took two glasses and passed one to his friend. The next thing he knew, the two of them had crossed the threshold to the club and were taking long sips of their drinks. Red. Room temperature. Just as it should be except… something in the drink made Patrick feel… different. Red, thick and body temperature. Pure delight.

Scanning the room, the first person he thinks he recognises is none other than Rosie Wickens, the young kine woman he had frightened on the night that the elder members of the Circle situated within the Devon area met at the Elysium. Striding over to her, Patrick attempts to strike up conversation.

Don’t you recognise me, Rosie?

She politely declines the invite to chatter slightly perturbed that this stranger knew her name, yet she truthfully did not recognise the man but feeling a little intimidated by him all the same. Staring right at her, Patrick attempts to mold her mind to his whims, but there was another more powerful hold over her that he had first imagined, and without the skills needed to overthrow this power he simply has no choice but to let her on her way. Frustrated, Patrick put his eyes to the floor, and indicated that Bloody should follow.

There must be someone in this damn establishment that knew who he was.

Life isn’t Black and White
Flánnan

How long had Flánnan been down there, waiting, listening, he could not tell. His own thoughts for company, he began to plan potential strategies for winning the games of chess, and subsequently his freedom. Was he going to start with Ruy Lopez, or Sicilian Defense? Middlegame strategies came in the forms of Boden’s Mate or the Lasker-Bauer combination? And for endgame? Could he promote a Pawn to the eight rank, or would it end with Zugzwang? He could only dwell on moves, but ultimately, he decided that his tactic was to be fluid. Always planning three or four strategies for each move placements but with a total pokerface, not giving away any of his thoughts through the muscles in his face.

A gentle pad of footsteps on the stairs. The rattling of porcelain pieces knocking against one another. His opponent had finally come.

In through the hole in the wall slid a wooden box, with that same familiar porcelain clink. Next came a foldable table, the metal legs scraping horribly along the rough concrete floor. Then too small stools, and finally a figure dressed in a familiar brown robe. Genderless, faceless, voiceless, noiseless, the table was set up, the box opened, and the figure took his seat.

Not being funny, but I am going to be at a disadvantage… can we move closer to the light? I am playing for my freedom after all.

Turning their head towards Flánnan, the person said nothing. Long moments of silence ticked by, before the figure stood, and shifted the table carefully towards the brick hole. Without a word, the pieces were set out, before outstretched hands offered Flánnan the choice of queens. White or Black, it was almost saying. Pick your poison. Without hesitating, as Flánnan had spent his time alone deliberating over the colour choice, his hand flew to the white queen, gleaming with innocence and the ability to destroy all at once. The robed figure {henceforth referred to as Gabriel Hallion because one gets tired of writing ‘he’, ‘the figure’, ‘the person’, not to mention how shite, jolting and totally not fluent and flowing it makes the writing: Flánnan does not know that it is not the same person, and would not know the robed figure’s name, I just can’t do it anymore…} would take the black, a shining piece of obsidian, it glowered in the half-light with malice and cruelty, with the will to dominate all life should it win and crush it’s opponent in calculated warfare. Gabriel sat at one his side of the table and gestured Flánnan to do the same. Leaning his face on his knuckles, and his elbows on the table, it was his move, the first dip in the waters of freedom.

The room was a cacophony of silence. The steady beat of piece placed on the checkered board keeping time, a low lumbering metronome. The high shrill of metal chair on sandpaper floor cut through the air, the restlessness of the orchestral players becoming obvious. The gentle and constant hum from above, the pluck of a string being left to reverberate in the air. The great crescendo as the black king conquered the white, time slowing as they struck one another, a great clatter as the white fell to its knees, defeated. One game to Gabriel. The board was reset swiftly, and this time Flánnan’s opponent ready to begin. One move after another, innocence and malice danced together on the board, and elaborate tango with twists and turns. One moment, black was leading white, the next white leading black. Flánnan feel his heart beat quickening with the pace of the dance. A warm flush on his neck, creeping onto his face as a smirk as good ruled bad, and ruled triumphant over the broken ebony. One game to Gabriel: one game to Flánnan. With his heart clapping syncopation as the board was reset again, and it really was all to play for. One well placed strike after another black was hammering white like a peg into the ground. Nailing hit after hit, moves not preempted, counter-strikes parring left right centre. The final curtain was drawn, rouge velvet dropping phantom-like with an eerie silence over the room.

Packing up the pieces, closing up the board, and one step away from taking a bow, Gabriel left the room with the same silence that he entered. With a sense of fulfillment, gratitude in finding a worthy chess opponent, Flánnan couldn’t help but calling out as he was being left again, this time at the mercy of his captors folly as per the arrangements for losing, but his mouth ran away from him.
‘When all of this is over,’ he began cautiously, ‘when all of this is over, I would very much like to play again.’ Without so much as a second glace, Flánnan was left alone once again.

Lead us not into temptation
Charles, and Sybil, Arthur, Patrick

Leaning against the bar, with Charles still wittering on behind him, Arthur waves the bartender’s attention. Asking for a whiskey with ice, the lady behind the bar simply laughs, and says back in a floral tone that ‘they only serve one drink here, but with the leaflet you’re entitled to a large refill.’ Unhappy, and with a look of distaste spreading on his face, Arthur simply accepts the glass that is placed in front of him. Charles and Sybil, too, except their large freebie, and begin conversing as a trio again. Arthur, not paying any attention whatsoever, misses Charles mention that the wine does appear to be… on tap, as it were, as there are no bottles behind the counter, or anywhere. Charles, out of the corner of his eye, catches the lady on the bar {now known, out of game, as Calin Ward} having a glass of the red stuff to herself, slyly and around the corner, out of sight… or so she thought. Sybil, giddy and a little tipsy, leans on the bar for support, and whispers in Charles’ ear to bring up Arthur’s offer for taking Anna. She struggles to talk about this, though it is unclear whether it was the alcohol or the difficulty and awkwardness in talking about this subject. Shortly, frankly, and matter of factly, Arthur offers up Patricia, his horse, as fulfillment. Sybil straight away speaks up!

Whilst it is ever so nice riding with you Charles, I would very much love to have my own horse. We could ride out places together, and it could… it could be like the good old days!

Her voice grew distant, somewhat nostalgic. Knowing that the deal was closed, and that the conversation was over, Arthur bid farewell again, more curtly this time, and went and sat on a stool in the corner.


After a few minutes, brooding in the corner, Arthur sees someone who looks how he feels. And someone some thing that looks even worse than that. Scurrying across the dance floor comes none other than Patrick Cattedown himself, followed closely by a god awful wretched looking creature, with midnight eyes and skin that had been kissed by the harsh embrace of death… even Arthur could see that in the pale green-blue hues of his hideous skin. What was possibly the worst part of Arthur’s current situation was that Patrick had seen him, was heading towards him, and had nowhere to go.

You look bloody awful.

Those were the first words that Arthur uttered as Patrick tried to start up conversation. Enthused by his new companion, Arthur is introduced to Bloody, a poor soul tortured by Procella. Unfortunately for Patrick, Arthur sees through this lie straight away and grounds him with some simple witicism, led to the truth come pouring out, like diarrhoea. Patrick confesses that he had not been at home recently, that he had been finding city life hard and looked for solace in Peridus Woods. He also went on to flippantly tell Arthur about his note that he had received. In truth, the note that caused this. Arthur uses this point, to say in a total deadpan tone, ‘Harriet is looking for you,’ just to see Patrick squirm, but he holds it together.

{It’s 2330, the lights get turned down a fraction, and everyone seems a little bit closer, almost like the walls are moving in.}

Freeze
Flánnan

Pacing, pacing, pacing. Around and around, taking in the same scenery over and over again like a goldfish in a bowl. Then, all of a sudden, his feet were frozen to the floor, heavy like they were made of lead. One thing was for certain, they were immovable. Then his whole body began to follow suit, invisible chords keeping him still, binding his mouth tight shut. The only thing free were his eyes, wide and scared as his body entered a type of paralysis akin to rigor mortis… {without the mortis, for now}. Eyes fearful and flicking, an entire troupe of figures in brown robes descended upon the dank room. Removing their hoods, Flánnan saw the faces of his captors for the first time. Two women, four men. All heaving at the lid of the box. One of the women Emmie Moulson taking the lead, Flánnan could see the muscles in her slender arms flex as she heaved the hardest of the group. One man Aldrich ‘Frag’ Rossiter was standing back with arms folded, waiting. Watching. As the lid of the box shifted, Flánnan saw the treasure inside for the first time. It was a man. Upon closer inspection, the man in the box and the man with folded arms looks quite similar: white hair, white facial hair, muscular arms and shoulders. The man in the box had a scar across one eye and a smaller scar along his forehead.

The next events happened is quick succession, one things after another struck fear into Flánnan’s heart as the beat of the muscle set the beat like a metronome. First, the group of six bowed their heads and began to chant words in foreign tongues that he did not understand. Then, the man who previously had his arms folded across his chest, stepped forwards holding a thin sword that had been concealed in a cane. Walking towards the man in the box, he spoke softly to him even though he knew there would not be a response. It was quite obvious to Flánnan that this man was deceased. Placing a hand on the cold chest, the words in foreign tongues grew louder and more hypnotic. Flánnan found that he was unable to look away. Even when the man took his sword and planted deeply through his hand and into the chest of the other. Even when the blood filtered from his hand and sank into the cavity in the chest like wine into carpet. Even when the coppery smell filled his nostrils.

But deliver us from Evil
Arthur

That is when he smelt it. The coppery deliciousness that clawed at his throat. His whole body ached with the temptation that he was trying so hard to ignore. The itch, the burn. He was instantly drawn from his conversation with his associates like a man in hypnosis. Walking slowly, he headed towards one corner of the room, towards one of the alcoves that sunk backwards. He had to get to that vitae, even if it meant tearing through the walls or ripping up the floor. He was a man possessed.

Charles, Patrick

Before the two of them can approach Arthur and find out what on earth was going on with him, they were suddenly aware of the fact that the establishment was absolutely rammed with people, kindred and kine. The room all of a sudden seems tiny, and very over capacity. You could barely see the door through the never ending torrent of people. It was a sea of bodies, pushed together in a small space. All it needed was one hungry kindred and one paper cut, and that would be gunpowder to the spark. With that, they had lost Arthur to the waves.

Arthur

Arthur’s mind was no longer his own. His hands found the small push-button in the gold inlay, and the secret passage opened up before him. His feet found themselves crossing the threshold. With the door shutting behind him, his eyes found him in momentary darkness before they adjusted. He was in a corridor, before him were some wooden stairs. Entranced by his own hunger, the temptation was nearly unbearable. But he kept his calm and followed his sensitive nose. Down the stairs, step by step. They creaked under his weight, even in his hurry he didn’t stumble. He found himself counting the stairs in sevens, maybe it was something to do with the fact that periodically a stair was painted red – every seventh stair in fact. He was being lead towards a a shelving unit and, with a little investigation he discovered that it was acting as a poor barrier to another room. Getting on his hands and knees, Arthur looked into the room. His curiosity, and hunger, got the better of him and he began to scrabble through. Just as he was about to change his mind, a force from behind him made him pressed forwards. As he was through, he was grabbed by the shoulder by a feminine hand, his arm forced behind him. He hand no choice but to let himself be steered forwards. Soon enough, he came face to face with the man in the box, his chest punctured and painted with red. As he was marched past, he caught sight of eyes gleaming in the darkness – the terrified eyes of Flánnan Kelly.

A small man with slicked back black hair and beady eyes approached him, his robes too long in the sleeve, covering his hands. He reached out to Arthur, and the lady holding him forced his hand out to greet the other, against his will. As quick as a flash, Arthur felt the lick of a knife against his finger tip, a bead of ruby collected on the tip. Grabbing Arthur’s finger fervently, the small wicked man put it into his mouth and sucked the ruby away, eyes brightening as he tasted the vitae, rolling it around his mouth like a finely aged red. Glinting and gleaming, with teeth stained crimson, he spoke, relishing on every word as they dripped from him mouth.

I know all your secrets. You are the one we have been looking for.

Arthur then received the awful notion that he may now be part of a ritual.

Patrick, Charles

{0030, and the room is noticeably smaller}

Upon some investigation (namely dropping to his hands and knees to look for a pair of shoes the he might recognise), Charles feels a breeze coming from the wall, and he knows instantly that something is amiss. He is far to far away from the door, and the place is far to crowded for it to be a breeze from the front of the place, and so he comes to the conclusion that it must be coming from elsewhere. Beginning to follow it, still on his hands and knees. It is easy to follow, the trail being marked as the breeze gets stronger. It is at is strongest and coldest as Charles comes face to face with one of the alcoves. He gets to his feet, calls Patrick, Bloody, and Sybil over, and starts giving the door a jolly good pat down. Looking for… something, anything. Initially unable, Sybil steps in and takes the lead in the search, her slender fingers tracing the gold inlay for a concealed handle or button. Patrick knocked on the alcove, and a hollow echo bounced back to them. They were on the right track. Charles instructs for Patrick to feel the breeze too, to ensure that there wasn’t another door, but he only came to the feet of Charles, confirming that this was definitely the place.

With a simple click, the door creaked open.

Arthur

With his hand being forced upon the pallid, clammy chest of another kindred, Arthur didn’t have the strength nor will to fight back or resist. Enamored by the whole situation, and being held in a wanton state craving kindred blood, Arthur too just watched the events unfold. The flash of silver, a stabbing pain, vitae flowing from him and into the chest of the man who lay there still and unmoving. As the last drop of Arthur’s vitae was drawn out, the man’s eyes flickered open, he sat up and grabbed Arthur’s hand. He flung him aside like a cheap whore, with no more need of the vessel as the ritual was over. He had awoken. And it was all because of Arthur. Exchanging brief conversation, the other man with crossed arms even broke a smile at the sight of this man being awoken. They looked almost similar.

The smiles and small talk stopped when they heard footsteps at the top of the stairs.

Charles, Patrick

They found themselves at the top of a flight of wooden stairs, that seemingly descended down into the cellar of the place above. They went down together, scanning for something that might lead to finding Arthur. The room was full of shelves, stacked with glasses, but still there was no sign of the wine that they had supped on all evening. Striding to the shelves, Patrick confidently picked up a wine glass and began inspecting it. It was just simply a wine glass, one which had not yet been used. He decided, at this point, to send Bloody back to the floor above to create a distraction, allowing them plenty of time to investigate the basement.

Arthur

And then just just… disappeared, and Arthur was left in the room with a frozen Flánnan. Grabbing him, Arthur began the difficult maneuvering process of fitting Flánnan out of the hole. Crawling through himself, he was suddenly face to face {well, face to _feet_} with Patrick, as he was examining another set of shelves, looking for something out of place of off with the reems and reems of glasses.

Arthur, Patrick, Charles, Flánnan

With the four together in one room, Arthur irately quizzes Charles and Patrick about the seven kindred that just came past, assuming that as they left the room with Arthur, that they must have crossed paths on the stairs. With blank faces, and no clue about what Arthur is talking about, Arthur sarcastically japes that they must have turned into mist and just floated away. What Arthur fails to mention, however, is the fact that he had just taken part in a weird blood ritual to awaken an elder vampire without his consent. They had no answers, and took him for being mad. Together, they took the stairs back to the floor above.

That was when they realised that all was silent. Bloody was just lying there, being used as a comfortable seat for a maniacal looking slender man, well-dressed in a suit. Bloody had a stake through him, and finally looked at piece. As they entered the room in turn, he began to clap, his hands ringing out around the room and his two-tone eyes glistening in delight and insanity. He clapped his hands a final time, and his entourage of twenty-one fledgling kindred split themselves into three groups. In one quick movement, the mekhet moved away, behind his ranks to lead from there, ensuring his safely. Turning to the group, Arthur speaks out.

I need to keep Mr Kelly safe – else I’ll lose my head. He’s a friend of mine.

Running over, Patrick slips on some split liquor and careers into him, knocking him flat. Flánnan glares, but remains unhurt. Standing up to allow Sybil behind him, he blocks the doorway to the cellar. Sybil begins working on Flánnan, trying to break whatever it is that is binding him. In defense of his wife, and not willing to lose her to anyone again, Charles’ claws tore through his skin.

I need to protect my friends. And my wife.

Arthur picks at the hole in his hand, it doesn’t take long for fresh blood to rise to the surface, before a long tendril coiled out of the hole, cracking in the air.

It was obvious that these fledglings had no skill and had not been well versed in the kindred society of skills and disciplines, but they had no finesse. and no real clue what they were doing. They moved in unison, like sheep being herded by a yapping sheep dog. Crushing together, one of them tried to make a break for it as Arthur’s blood whip snapped at their heels. It was at this point that the man with the eyes { Earth Baines } grabbed her Rebecca Lindley. There and then, with everyone watching, he committed the worst sin in kindred politics – Diablerie. A shocking scene to all, especially to Rebecca’s husband Norman Lindley who tried to launch an attack on Earth, which landed him with the same fate. One thing was made quite clear; this man had very little humanity.

In a flurry of claws, parries, blocks, whip cracks each side were taking damage. Getting cocky, Arthur flailed the whip in the air without looking directly at his target and instead the end of of the tendril made contact with Charles ankle, wrapping around with vengeance. With one flick of his wrist, Arthur flung Charles several feet into the air before launching him towards where Earth was seated. Charles did not sausage roll away. Crashing and skidding to a stop, Charles saw evil eyes looming down on him, hand poised ready to strike.

A gun shot from the back of the hall. Ashes falling on Charles’ face. Earth was gone, and it all seemed to be over. The leaderless group fled from the hall, in tatters, and with nowhere to go. Standing up, and brushing himself off, Charles turned to see the killer. Standing in the doorway of The Fallen Prince stood a tall man. He wore a stetson, a long coat. He wore his hair long, and had a patch over his eye. His voice boomed around the hall.

I know what you are, and I know what he was. I have been sent from a Hunter’s Society based in London. This… thing caught our attention. Earth Baines is his name: and he was ousted from the FIfe of Plymouth for necrophagia. He looked to the weakest fife to create an army to retaliate.

It would be wise to rethink your political structure Vampires, or your names might well have contracts on them.

With that, he left. Those left in the room, stunned to silence. Hunter’s knew about Peridus, and that Peridus had no Prince, or law enforcement, that Peridus was weak. The movement of someone entering the club broke the silent spell. People began to disperse as Baroness Isabella Bexley made her way towards Arthur. Speaking briefly, Arthur could see that she was happy with him, as she ensured Flánnan’s safe passage for the next week. She bid him goodbye with a light touch of her hand. And she was gone, taking Mr Kelly with her.

In the combat, one of The Band of Broken Men lay trapped under a piece of bar surface that had come loose. Arthur took him, a man named Raymond Kinney to the cellar, telling his friends not to wait for him. Patrick was having none of it, and followed tenaciously. With the power of the mind, Arthur gave Patrick an simple instruction:

Turn around.

Without the watching eyes of Patrick, Arthur finally got the release he was looking for. Sinking his teeth into the stranger’s fleshy arm and let the hot wet vitae run into his mouth. Feeding had never felt this good. Shaping the mans memories to forget the feed, he closed the wound and gave Patrick the go ahead to turn around. In the meantime, Patrick had fashioned himself a stake out of a splintering piece of banister that seemed to have already taken damage this evening. Upon turning around, he unleashed his fury on this man. The end of the banister reaching its target – just. The man fell into a light torpor, with Patrick feeling shocked at himself that he mustered up the strength to do that to another. He was going to take the man back with him… for questioning. He heads back to the tin factory, where he intends to stay for just another night.

With Patrick gone, Arthur stands a lone vigil at the concrete casket, swearing vengeance upon its ex-occupant and his merry men. He too then takes his leave, and heads home.

Leaving The Fallen Prince arm in arm, Sybil rests her head upon Charles’ shoulder, and sighs a contented sigh. She would return to their cottage with him, and spend the night again.


The Jewels of their Faces

Lurching back to The Fallen Prince, clutching where his arm should have been, he scorned that he was not able to move fast enough {with celerity}. Picking up a pinch of his ashes from the floor, he placed it in a phial. The anti-vampire weapon had done too much damage to him, and without some other-worldly magic the arm would not regenerate. He called forward the member of his group whom he had taken as his lover. A very valuable lover, some collateral should things go awry… again. He laughed out loud, his insanity sparking in sapphires and rubies. He would enjoy toying with the hunter, having him chose between his contract… and his daughter. This woman, was Marsha Yarona daughter to the esteemed hunter Mister Abraham Hern Yarona. Oh how wicked he had been, finding her, tantalising her, embracing her.

He fed on her, right there and then, over his ashes. She had the blood of the hunter in her veins. And his blood: mekhet blood. She would be his weapon. As the bond between them strengthened, as he encouraged her to drink from him, her eyes began to flourish. Passionate red, innocent blue. The perfect combination.

There they were, in all their glory. Together, entwined, united, basking in rubies and sapphires.

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