CAST OF PLAYERS:
Ezrandi Shadowheart……Andali…………………………………Eshu Changeling
Mia Schubert……………….Marlboro…………………………….Satyr Changeling
Jera Morrison……………….Alseyne Aulaudin…………………Sidhe Changeling
Carol Hart…………………..Janneth Jones………………………Troll Changeling
Kendall Nye…………………Joseph McAdoo……………………Ronin Garou
Rob Bennett………………..Arian Plicare………………………..Ananasi
Suz Dollar…………………..Samantha Reese…………………..Human Guardian
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
Arian turned his gaze to Andali as well. “How can you reach this place?” the Spider asked.
Andali nodded to Myrle . “I…We can…” she said, correcting herself. She looked back to J.J. with concern…and then said, “If J.J. Can get the ok from Makebetter, I’d like her by my side.”
J.J.’s eyes were huge. “Really?” She looked surprised, but had a large grin on her face. Her eyes were dancing. “Cool.”
Andali shot a smile at J.J.
“Pfah!” Myrle snorted in disgust, “The physician is a waste of time. There is nothing can be done for her that has not already been done. If she wants to live she will. If she wants to whine and complain, she will be deader than disco by day’s end.”
“And Marlboro,” Andali added, ignoring the dragon and nodding to the satyr. “We have always worked better together then apart.”
Alseyne cleared her throat. “If JJ wants to go with you and can get clearance from Makebetter to attend, then she has my blessing. HOWEVER, given recent events, I also want either Claws or Yggthor to accompany you as well.”
“No qualms there,” Andali said. “Alamus holds six, comfortably.”
“Thank you, I appreciate that,” Alseyne responded. “I’ll let the two of them decide which one will accompany you.”
J.J. looked over her shoulder at Alseyne, and raised an eyebrow. She then looked back to Andali. “I’d love to join you,” she says once more grinning from ear to ear. She sat back in the chair. “Since I have to go to Dr. Makebetter’s anyhow…do you think we’ll have time for him to fix me up a new hand? I do think a chemerical hand would work.”
Myrle offered, “I can assist with that. I can kit you out with a new hand.”
“You can? Great!” JJ said with a bright smile. “Thank you,” she added ecstatically. “Right now?”
Alseyne glanced sideways at Marlboro, “You know…the last time I saw Marlboro today he burst into flames and turned into that Burns fellow. I realize it wasn’t really Marlboro and probably just that Burns had taken on Marlboro’s appearance but you can understand my caution at sending my squire off with him.”
JJ looked back to Alseyne. “What do you mean?”
Andali looked to Marlboro. “What does she mean? You were Mr. Burns?” she asks, poking the satyr in the chest.
Alseyne shrugged. “All I know is that we were down by the lake about dawn this morning and we were fighting werewolves. Marlboro was hurt and after I healed the wound I realized he was feverish and sweating. I thought it was Cold Iron poisoning from before — especially since he’d been acting oddly even before the fight started — so I started pouring glamour into him to try to help him fight it off.” She shifted uncomfortably at the memories she was describing, “Suddenly I felt like I was being…drained is the only word to describe it and then Marlboro suddenly turned into that Burns creature. That was the last time I saw Marlboro until he showed up here tonight. For all I knew, he hadn’t survived the transformation.”
“You speak of the fire elemental which had possession of the satyr,” Myrle explained. “I expelled the spirit when Marlboro and my Sam came to visit.”
“Ah, that explains it. I had thought it might be something like that but wasn’t sure if he was just temporarily safe or if the elemental had left him.”
Sam cleared her throat, and began speaking. “More importantly than any pandering to delicate sensibilities would be focusing on our heretofore separate efforts towards a common end, battling that which threatens that which we hold dear, and bringing some unity to our efforts else we fail utterly.” Pause. “I do not sense that being thus ‘Awakened’ has in any way made us more likely to shed our individual prejudices, suspicions or dislikes. Some ‘awakening’. Make us even more ‘different’ and foster such evils. Tsk. We will get nowhere if we cannot set aside these things and work together.” She looked around the group. “Make no mistake, I will face Kilarothes alone if that is what comes, but I would prefer not to. And now, beyond him is something else and if we focus solely on the immediate threat, most assuredly that which comes behind will finish us. You cannot afford to allow me to stand alone, nor can you afford to give my battles your undivided attention. And with all certainty, we can accomplish more together than ever we could apart.
“A little focus might be in order?” she suggested finally.
The dragon on the table seemed to puff with pride.
Yggthor scowled. “Our enemies then are this Kilarothes, the Red Talons, Prince Bronwen and our green-eyed mystery man, right?”
The notepad reappeared and Arian started to take notes again.
“If Mr. Houseman is still alive,” Trevor said, voice tremoring with emotion, “We have to save him.”
Casey scowled silently at her tabletop.
“You could certainly try,” Myrle responded, “You might even succeed. The effort expended will bring you naught. Resources squandered here cannot afford to be lost. Houseman is dead. Mr. Plicare has the right of it as does the enigmatic Falco. All that is left for the noble vampire is suffering and shame.”
Arian nodded in his clockwork way.
“NO!” Trevor slammed his fist into the table, sending the napkin holder clattering to the floor.
So much for immortality, Casey thought with a kind of fierce scorn. Looked like Mr. Trevor was fresh out of vampire blood. Good.
“Easy now,” Yggthor rumbled, stepping between Wynne and the ghoul. “Keep it polite.”
“Houseman’s bait,” Pip said softly to Houseman’s man.
“Bronwen and his associates just want to lure as many of Houseman’s allies out as possible.”
“They call it a Bloodhunt,” Falco offered.
“That they do,” Pip nodded.
Unexpectedly, Casey found that her anger had transformed into something else. Restlessness, impatience. Suddenly she was tired of all the talk. They were all here, this strange, mixed collection of warriors, and from the sound of it they all had common enemies. Casey wanted to go fight something, and at the moment she wasn’t all that particular what. Vampires would be best, but werewolves or a demon prince would do in a pinch.
It hadn’t escaped her notice that she was the only moving person in the room the dragon hadn’t spoken to, looked at or acknowledged in any way. No doubt she was just an incidental consequence of Falco’s presence here. He was an important part of this war; she’d simply tagged along for the ride. It was a liberating feeling, she discovered. She was a free agent, unencumbered by anyone’s expectations for her. Except maybe Falco’s, but he’d forfeited his claim on her the moment he’d chosen to selectively edit the information he gave her in order to gain her cooperation.
Arian shrugged. “I will be in the kings stronghold tonight to reclaim my possessions that were stolen. I could investigate further if you wish.”
Casey’s head turned sharply at that. She studied the spider-creature for a long moment, weighing her discomfort with his lack of humanity against her desire for action. “You’re talking about the Vampire Prince? You’re going to fight vampires?” The desire for action won out. “May I come too?”
Falco turned his attention to Casey. His eyes were dark, scrutinizing his apprentice. She felt his gaze settle on her, but kept her own eyes determinedly on Arian. Falco probably disapproved of her taking off without him. No doubt he’d had his own plans for her time tonight. But he’d said it himself: the unique nature of their relationship only worked if she trusted him absolutely, and that was no longer possible. It was time she found her own way in this new world.
Arian lofted his brow and considered Casey for a long time. This time she managed to meet that black, inhuman gaze steadily, though she flushed uncomfortably after a moment.
“I have a vampire guide. And we are intending on being discreet. I do not believe I will be allowed to bring visitors,” he stated simply.
“Oh. Okay.” She tried not to let her disappointment show.
“A vampire guide?!?” Trevor was incredulous. “Who would be crazy enough to turn on the Prince?”
“A warped creature in the sewers. He seemed to know that his king was a pawn. Of course, it is equally likely that he is leading me into a trap to gain favor with his liege. I will risk this to reclaim what was stolen. And I bested him in combat once, I could do so again,” Arian stated, ever the calculating creature.
“A Nosferatu?” Trevor shook his head. “Watch your back.”
Arian turned abruptly back to Casey. “However…if the building were to come under siege shortly after we ventured inside….” he pondered again. “A pincer technique could prove most effective.”
She brightened. “A pincer technique? What’s–”
“I will join you,” Trevor said.
Casey’s eyes snapped over to the ghoul, a hot protest on her tongue. But an instant later she choked back her objection. The odds of Trevor actually not coming along just because she told him he wasn’t wanted were vanishingly small anyway. She was starting to think the whole thing was probably a bad idea.
“I hesitate to start a daytrip,” Arian stated.
Casey settled back into her booth, knowing when she was licked. “Alright, never mind.” So much for vampire hunting. Maybe she could enlist with whoever was going after the werewolves tonight. She looked around to the others, wondering who that might be. The big blue guy with the axe looked likes he was spoiling for a fight.
McAdoo spoke up. ” Will this be a unified assault while Arian backdoors it?”
Pip considered, “What do we know about this place?”
“It’s a fortress,” Falco answered. “Defenses are significant — both in terms of structure and personnel. Court is held at the uppermost levels, but Bronwen dwells in the basement sub-levels. Getting in is easy. Getting out… there’s the trick.”
“What do you mean?” Arian asked, again taking notes.
“I mean that once his men get their hooks into you, they are disinclined to release you. Casey and I had some bit of difficulty liberating Mr. Houseman from them last night.”
Casey looked up in surprise at that. Had they been at Bronwen’s actual headquarters last night? Somehow she’d pictured the Vampire Prince’s abode looking more…gothic or something. Not like an ordinary high-rise business building. Of course, she’d only seen the parking garage; the inside of the tower might look like Castle Dracula for all she knew. Useful information. She could find the place again herself, if need be. Always good to know where to find one’s enemies.
Arian nodded, unconcerned. “If a concentrated attack could successfully pierce into the heart of the king’s stronghold, the loss of that piece would greatly weaken whatever it is we fight. I suspect that while the nightwalkers dance in the webs of our grand manipulator, we will be fighting a war on too many fronts to win. Best eliminate your enemies quickly, efficiently, and systematically. Remove the head…” the spider left the rest to fall.
“Blow it up,” Wynne suggested darkly.
Arian nodded slowly.
“What?” Pip asked. “The Tower?”
“Yes,” she nodded.
“Bronwen’s not the only resident,” Falco offered. “Beyond the Vampire Prince and his retainers, there are any number of innocent people within.”
“Acceptable losses,” The Sluagh conceded.
Again, Arian nodded.
Casey frowned. “But…”
Pip shook his head, “Wynne…”
“NO!” She cut them off. “If what the dragon says is correct, if what is at stake is EVERYTHING, then yes — by damn — they are acceptable losses. Blow it up. Burn it down. Burn the whole cursed thing down!”
Yggthor placed a hand on her shoulder, attempting to calm the agitated Sluagh. She shrugged it off. “Don’t!” Her eyes smouldered with rage. “There are too many questions… too many mysteries of who our enemies are. Well, we know who this one is and where he hangs his hat. Kill him now and all of his crew. It’s kill or be killed time.”
McAdoo hesitated and then nodded slowly.
Sam looked doubtful.
Pip was clearly shaken by Wynne’s bloody manner. He whispered to Alseyne, “Ya’ll have a fight before you came?”
“For once, no,” she muttered back. “She actually cried in my arms in reaction to everything that’s been happening to her lately.
“What’s happened?” Then he shook his head, “No. Fill me in later.”
“This is probably a response from that,” Alseyne murmured. “This outburst sort of relieves me, to be honest. She’s been very quiet — too quiet — and actually accepting comfort from ME? She really had me worried.”
“Must be snowing in hell,” he muttered, nodding. In a more conversational tone he added, “I’m hearing three plans here: Mr. Plicare thrusts secretly within Bronwen’s Tower with his vampire guide; meanwhile, a more direct assault is made on the exterior of the Tower; Andali and company seek the Lord of the Brotherhood. Do I have all that right?”
Casey looked around in growing alarm. Had they really all just fallen in with Wynn’s plan of mass murder, just like that? Heaven knew Casey had no love for vampires, but from what she’d been hearing Bronwen was just one of many pieces in this game, and not even one of the most dangerous. If these warriors were prepared to kill an entire building full of innocent people just to try to stop one relatively minor enemy, what destruction would they unleash on this city when the stakes became truly high?
At what point would it become impossible to tell the two sides of this war apart?