Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Vampire:??The Endless Waltz


Episode 6: Dancers in the Shadows???????Part 2


???? ?? ??Following the issue with missing ghoul Kane headed down to the loading bay of the shopping centre while Dimitri informed Patrick Falken of the issue and that he will try and and get everybody to leave before there are any more problems. Meanwhile Thessaly was still at the hospital for the insane and was breaking into filing cabinets.
???? ?? In the loading bay Kane and the other vampires and ghouls on security discovered the missing ghoul. He had been burnt to death. Splitting up they went looking for the reason why. But things just got worse as the other vampire soon went missing. Kane and a ghoul found blood stains and then his body, hidden away. He had been staked and beheaded. There was also a van that looked suspicious and Kane was certain he could see containers in there that looked like it was a bomb. Kane then watched as the ghoul on look out was consumed in flames. Kane hid and watched the hunters kill the ghoul with the flamethrower. Kane could barely keep the fear in him down, taking the shape of a raven and flew away before regaining his composure.
???? ?? ??Dimitri had just got the guests to leave, and the drugged up Annabel Barbican taken to a taxi. But he was confronted in the club and before the other Kindred still present. Patrick's rival, Julia Reinhart, demanded to know what was going on. However, Dimitri was not taking any crap, and knowing he had the support of those guests still present, just said it was his party and would do what the hell he liked. Julia, seeing how she had no command of the situation, stormed off, leaving Dimitri to go and find Kane.
???? ?? ??Thessaly opened the cabinets and found files on medical blood experiments, Astra Zenca drug trials, autopsy reports on Kindred, and also files stolen from the Ordo Dracul, and information taken from the Sanctified and Acolytes. She read through some and grabbed what she could, noting a CD that bore the same code as the piece of arabic manuscript they found in Dr Tobin's abandoned car. It was just in time as she spotted issues with the security cameras. Some one was burning them out with flares. And that some one was Lauren Esten and her Ordo Dracul friends. Thessaly acted quickly and made an escape, knowing the main entrance to the wing was blocked off, she found an old laundry chute and escaped through the boiler room of the hospital.
???? ?? ??In the loading bay of the Great Northern shopping centre, Dimitri and his ghoul Karl, watched as the hunters made their escape, they took the vans with them, knowing that the party above was over and they had lost their opportunity. Dimitri then noticed the other ghoul security come out of hiding as the vans left, and a strange raven that flew over their heads, Dimitri's and then went flying off following the ??van.
???? ?? ??Kane arrived at an old metal working factory near the canals and so he approached, his form offering him the element of surprise. Inside the hunters were removing the explosives from the van. But also the leader of the hunters mentioned that their contact had better have some more information on when to hit the bloodsuckers next. Within the factory there was also a cage which held a bloody and battered woman. She was clearly a vampire who had been captured and the leader of the hunters was questioning her, before beating her again.
???? ?? ??Kane landed down on the factory floor and shifted back to human form, before shifting to his cat form. Playfully he tried to get the attention of the hunters, before making such a distraction by which he could steal the key to the cage off the table. With the key in his mouth he once more made his way to cover and shifted back to his human form. He had a plan. Kane had earlier contacted the Constable about the hunters, and that a police strike team would be there to apprehend the men on grounds of terrorism. Kane waited.
???? ?? There was then a commotion as the police stormed the factory. Gas grenades were fired in, giving Kane the cover needed to get to the cage and release the female vampire. But as he did so Kane was shot in the back by one of the hunters. Undeterred by the shotgun slug Kane opened the cage and released the woman he launched herself at the hunter and tore his throat out. Kane Grabbed her and they fled, just in time as the entire factory went up in flames.
???? ?? ??On the streets Kane and the woman hid in an alleyway, the police helicopters had not been able to track them. Kane called Dimitri to get picked up as it was an hour before dawn. But as Kane put the phone down he felt the pain of a piece of wood being rammed through his chest. The woman turned on him and sneered. "Thanks for the help". Dimitri arrived to find the body of Kane left behind some rubbish bags. Dimitri removed the stake and fed Kane some of his blood.
???? ?? ??Meanwhile Thessaly tried to put the clues together. She was researching in her haven, the cold of winter not affecting her. There she learnt more about the daemon Si'lat, about the book the Kitab Si'lat, the myths of the Tremere, and wondered how all this linked to the Ordo Dracul, the Coil of Blood, stigmata and the Lancea Sanctum.


Upcoming things

Ok on the gaming front from this blog we shall see some more gaming advice. I was going to move away from chronicle/story structure, and look more at characters. In particular what I think about player character design, playing a character, playing the non-player characters, designing non-player characters and stuff like that.


Also I will be putting out notes on the upcoming chronicle, Changeling: the Lost - Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams. This is a chronicle for CtL set in Venice and I will be looking at the city itself and the interesting facets of the real world location, the supernatural elements of the city, and how I have taken these things and used them in the context of the game. I will also be presenting some example NPCs for the setting as, like Vampire, this game requires a certain level of preparation to get characters ready.


Right well that is all for now. Expect on here and the Etheric Labs livejournal the next Vampire actual play post.??

This Episode...

???????????????????? So Episodes, and their structure. Last time was looked at taking the chronicle pitch and planning out the series of events that would tell this story. Now we have a series of events that tell a particular story that we wish to run, we will now look at exploring a few of these events that take place together, or almost together, and now plan an episode about these.

Show me a Film, Tell me a Story

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So last time I went on about chronicle structure. How to put together episodes of a chronicle to make a coherent whole that tells a main story and follows sub plots, in such a way that it allows for the players to have as much influence over the direction of the plot as possible. This time we look at taking that structure and using it for a chronicle idea. But first we must consider the main issue. Just what do you want to run for your chronicle?

The chronicle follows a pitch, a main idea that will sell the chronicle to your players. So for example let us take a few chronicles and games that I have played in. Firstly for Vampire: the Requiem the pith was simple;

"The players are a group of recently embraced vampires who become involved in the deadly political games of the Carthian Movement, an election for a position of power, and the power games between the Covenants."

Pretty simple. So far the players have been working for one of the Carthian election candidates, and have seen firsthand the benefits of change and conservatism within the Carthians, and all this occurring before the larger back drop of intra-covenant power games, elements of which that can be investigated in sequel chronicles.

Another example is a Technocracy game for Mage: the Ascension in which I played;

"The players are a task force of operatives using enlightened science, combating a variety of threats, including a conspiracy within their own department."

Again simple.

Another, this time for Fading Suns;

"The players are a group of Questing Knights and their entourage, having set out from Byzantium Secundus, to investigate the claims of a lost house of nobles on the recently rediscovered world of Iver."

This last one is for something I am planning for Geist;

"The players are a Krewe of Sin-Eaters in Paris, and must deal with the needs of the dead that haunt the city, and also the insane plans of a ghostly mage who plans to rewrite the face of the city and the world itself".

So those are all pitches. In a sentence or so your chronicle has a definite concept, the players a purpose, and of course there is an end. So now we must take these pitches and elaborate on them in order to fill out the potential 7-10 episodes of the chronicle.

First and foremost be flexible. Episodes contain events. Some of these events occur only due to player interaction. Others occur even if the players do take action. Some events will occur with the player???s knowledge, others will not. So across the 10 or so episodes will be a series of events that can take place, and it is these events that push the story along. They also are the frame work for the chronicle's start, middle and end.

For example, in Vampire right now there are three main events that define the player's chronicle and journey. In the start they are presented to the Chairman of the city (the Carthian equivalent of Prince). In the middle we have the assassination of the Carthian Prefect. The final event is the election and the consequences for the players. These events are set in stone. They occur regardless of player interaction, and are the result of NPCs acting, rather than reacting. The players react to these events, but have freedom in how they get from one event to the next.

Other events can then be added along the chronicle timeline. They can be things like people having secret meetings, murders, thefts etc. Now these are events that can be discovered or simply the effects of them felt (for instance the Invictus and Ordo Dracul team up in my chronicle and the meeting of course takes place secretly. There is then a later event, an Ordo Dracul ritual, which the players drop in on as they follow clues. If they didn't discover it a vampire would have died and they would not have known why).

Once these key events have been put in place, and others littered throughout (or at least ideas of events for a chronicle can move direction dramatically due to player involvement) you are now in the position of putting these events into episodes.

The other advantage of this event planning is that you take a simple pitch and can elaborate upon it easily. For instance, going back to the Vampire election plot as you have noted there are interactions with the Ordo Dracul and Invictus. Now these were not in the original pitch, but have been added as the event time line, based upon the pitch, has been laid out. But how?

Well NPCs are not static reactionary plot instigators. They are characters like the PCs. They too have plans and react. They also have history. So the looking at the Carthian election plot the questions were who would want to interfere and what do they want to get out of it. This is where event planning becomes a two way street of ideas. Some events are based upon background material you have developed already for your game setting. Some events ideas will in fact shape this material. For instance the Ordo Dracul, why do they want to be involved in the election plot? Well they are banned from the city for some reason. Now this reason was either a) already written down by me or b) (and this is true) was an amendment to the background based upon the desire to have them act as an outcast group.

So from pitch to chronicle is about planning events (not too rigidly though) that lead the main plot (and eventually sub plots) from set events that occur at the start, to the end, via events in the middle. By looking at these events, their source and results, you can further expand upon the pitch and the background material of your setting, leading to a plot that has internal logic to why things are occurring.

Next time we will look at episode planning, taking events from our timeline and expanding them into entire episodes.

The best laid plans of mice and men...

Vampire - Dimitri and Annabel

((As requested: what went on behind the curtain at the party.))

I take a look around - Patrick's mingling with the crowd, sweet-talking. All eyes are on him; no one notices me slip to the back of the room. The two ghouls are still guarding the closed curtain, stationary and not speaking a word. "Stay here," I instruct, "and don't let anyone past, you got it?" Both of them nod, almost in unison. I sweep back the drapes, stepping into the makeshift tent.??

Annabel is feeding again, though lazily. The young man (I forget his name) half-awake yet seemingly unaware of the vampire clamping her mouth around his wrist. A trickle of blood leaks onto the chaise-longue. Otherwise his neck and arm are covered in bites, dark and congealed. The fresh blood is inviting, but I already fed on someone earlier. Besides, I don't want to get fucked on morphine. If you'll excuse the pun...
So I sit down next to Annabel, and she acknowledges me with a slight moan of satisfaction as she pulls away from the guy's wrist.??

"Annabel. You alright?" I inquire, wondering how messed up she still is. When I touch her thigh and she doesn't react, I get my answer.??
She looks up at me, eyes misty. "...Dimitri. Yes. I feel much better now..."
"Do you?" I ask, raising an eyebrow.??
"Yes, yes... I feel just - perfect. You have..." she gestures to the boy, now passed out again, "good taste." She finds her joke quite amusing, and giggles.
"I know. You're glad you came to the party, then?"??
Annabel nods. "Yes."
"I'm glad, too." My fingertips stroking delicately, the cool flesh of her leg. This time, she notices.
"And what does that mean?" She asks the question flirtily, coyly.??
"Oh, nothing. You just look very beautiful tonight." I bite my tongue a little. Not that Annabel's not beautiful, she's just a vindictive bitch. Though it's hilarious that she doesn't seem to recall how much she hates my guts. If I can push her this far...
Surprisingly, she just smiles. "Thank you..."
My lips poised over hers. "If I didn't know better..." I wait for the slap to my face. It doesn't come.

Annabel's tongue curls forward, "Oh, I don't think you do..." Another giggle. Well. This is pretty hilarious...??
I take a chance, and our mouths meet. She doesn't hiss, fight, or scream. Just purrs, and it's the sickest joke I've ever made, but I kiss her like we're mortal. Like she's one of the girls I pick up to feed on, or like the girlfriends I had before I was turned. She doesn't realise that I'm laughing for all the wrong reasons. She joins in.??
Her hands pull off my jacket, then tease at my shirt buttons. She tugs at them, and I freak out. "This is McQueen," I snap, and she laughs again. I take the liberty of unfastening the buttons, so I'm shirtless, and she rakes her fingernails over my chest. I can't believe how wasted she is. Jesus Christ.??
I hear feet outside the curtains, not close, but still. The ghouls are still stood in place. I'm aware that people might miss me; if this is going to go down, it has to be fast. "You want it this way?" I ask her, unhooking my trousers. Hell, I'm asking.
Annabel's hands are under the hem of her dress. Her underwear is purple lace, and drops to the floor around her heels. She kisses me hard. "Why not?" Fair enough. Is this too easy? Probably.

It lasts fifteen minutes. It's forced and cold, but I get some kind of twisted pleasure out of watching her practiced expressions of lust. They're sketched on her face like shadows, she can't feel anything. The harsh contrast between her regular, ice-queen demeanour and feigned passions. She's soft as putty underneath me, and I smirk thinking of her high-and-mighty falsehoods. Weak as a kitten, and it's fucking priceless.
Afterwards, she stretches out on the chaise-longue, eyes closed, the drug still in play. I feel as though I wasn't even here. I dress, and wonder if she's going to pull up her underwear. When she decides to move, that's what she does.
I don't know what to say. Normally I have Karl to usher chicks out of my room. I can't send her out like this.??
"I should get back to the party," I explain. "If that's OK."
"Mmm," she replies, flicking her tongue over her lips. Tugging on the sleeve of the guy she was feeding on. "He'll keep me company." She's still laughing. I leave her to it.


Vampire:??The Endless Waltz

Episode 6: Dancers in the Shadows???????Part 1

Following the events at the labs and the junk yard the coterie had revealed what they had discovered to Patrick Falken and Chamberlain Odans, who both advised that with respect to the issues with the Ordo Dracul that they should continue as if they were not aware of them. Instead they should lure them out and their Invictus allies. As for the traitors to the Carthians, Lauren Esten had gone to ground and was currently being sort out by the Myrmidon so that she could be questioned over the events of the Prefect???s death. As for the final death of Jacob Lewis as Kane???s hands, the issue was to be brushed under the carpet by Patrick Falken, Kane having previously revealed this issue to him.

It was December now and the nights were getting very long, the perfect time for any real chaos to occur within the ranks of the Kindred. Kane awoke and met with Constable Ihram in a church grave yard to discuss the issue of the Ordo Dracul and Lauren Esten. Lauren had still not been found and Kane was ordered to keep an eye out. Kane then received a call from an old work college who said that he had just met Kane???s sister and that she was in the city and she had been looking for him as it had been some time since they had last spoken or seen him.

Following this meeting Kane headed to the Great Northern centre where Club Hangman???s was located, and where he would meet Thessaly, Dimitri, Patrick, Spokesman Rain and a few others to discuss last minute preparations for the following night???s party. Happy with the arrangements Patrick congratulated Dimitri and the others before they were interrupted by Dr Hugo Emris Auldwyn. He wanted to meet with Thessaly, and in a curtained off area he asked if she, being a member of the Crone and so with not real ties to the party tomorrow, would go to the asylum and keep watch over a patient and observe him. He needs someone to watch and she will be compensated by the Chairman. But he also wishes for Thessaly to give her insight on the man, her knowledge and skills being of use.

The next evening Thessaly arrived at the Cheadle Hulme Hospital, a psychiatric centre and the former Manchester Asylum. It was a dark and imposing red brick Victorian building, and the rain only made it seem more sinister. She had been given by a ghoul of Hugo???s a uniform and access cards, and a map, that would lead her to the hidden research wing maintained by him. She walked through corridors that at this time of evening were now fairly empty. The odd orderly wheeled a patient to their room, another patient would be walking about, barely noticing her presence. As she got nearer to the west wing she noticed an empty recreation room. It was dark and then the TV blinked on. The screen was just static. It blinked off. Then on again, and from down the corridor Thessaly could hear someone moaning. She went to look, and on a bed, almost forced into the mattress, was a man, his eye wide open looking straight up. He turned to look at Thessaly and spoke.

???One who stands in the helm of shadows and the cloak of nightmares. He is seeking his name, the fallen angel, the bringer of pandemonium, he shall take your souls and lay them bare to the beast. The crows circle and blood will seep from the land and he shall rise!???

The man then went quiet and Thessaly watched as shadows cast by the tress outside, like fingers, fell across his body and then, by some manner, began to creep closer to her. She stepped back and cast a circle of protection. The shadows backed off and all went quiet once more. Thessaly hurried on to the dining hall.

Back at Club Hangman???s the party was just getting started. Dimitri had got there early and was dressed up in a smart McQueen suit and a Venetian mask. The other Kindred present were also smartly dressed, some more than others, and they too wore masks for Dimitri had said the party was also a masquerade party and also his death day party.

Eventually the club was filled up, and Kane and Dimitri conversed with Priscus Neils of the Daeva, the Myrmidon, Chamberlain Odans, Spokesman Rain, some of the neonates and ancillea of the Carthians. A few punkish Kindred turned up at the doors, but were soon turned away by security. They were anarchs, those Carthians willing to go to extreme measures for a change in power. But then one person arrived who caught the attention of Dimitri, Annabel Barbican. It seems that the Invictus had taken his bait and accepted his invitation. He proceed to talk to her and to the Chamberlain, exchanging biting remarks until the Chamberlain reminded Annabel to be more courteous in the presence of their host. Kane then received a voice message from his sister. She said that she needed to see him and gave him an address that was located in the suburbs. Kane ignored it and continued with the party.

It was now that Dimitri hatched his plan, and offered her one of the nicest of the herd to feed on that night. Unknown to her, Dimitri had drugged the man with morphine. He took Annabel to one of the curtained areas and privately watched as she fed on the drugged man. Soon she too was feeling the effects. But before Dimitri could carry out his insidious plan, Patrick Falken had arrived and Dimitri had to present him to the gathered Carthians.

Meanwhile Thessaly had made her way to the secret underground hospital rooms. Accessed from a false freezer door the underground hospital wing was a dim and dark place. It was damp and cold, and deadly quiet. Gone were the mad ramblings of the patients from above. As she made her way down the corridor Thessaly passed a number of empty rooms and then came to the office from which Dr Hugo worked, his laboratory and a room with a large steel door. Within Thessaly could see a padded room, stained with damp and blood and bile. On the walls were things written in blood. Dr A, Dr R, Dr H, and tallies next to them. There was also the name Williamson, and one word that was new to Thessaly. Tremere.

Suddenly at the view hatch her eyes met those of another. His eyes were yellow, his pupils fully dilated. She could see little of his face and so a conversation began. The man spoke of strange things, of experiments, elixirs, his father (who he did not name), and of the things waiting in the shadows. Thessaly could see from his aura that he was quite mad, but also truthful.

Back at the party Dimitri introduced Patrick, first thanking everyone for coming and attending the party, his death day party, and of for showing their support for Patrick. With the pleasantries over Dimitri return to the curtained booth to find Annabel still intoxicated. It was now that he committed his perverse act.

Meanwhile Kane was in the club and over the radio he had heard that one of the ghouls on security in the loading bay below was not responding. Something was not going to plan.


Vampire:??The Endless Waltz

Episode 5: The Price of Blood???????Part 3

Kane, Dimitri and??Thessaly??sat in the shadows watching the Kindred of the Ordo Dracul leave the Wyrm Nest, heading back up to the surface and the junkyard. Some remained with Zahred Zilber in the pit for a moment. He regard one, a man called Oliver, a man dressed in red with a gold stitched emblem of a dragon holding an axe, and addressed him as Companion of the Sworn of the Axe. He asked that he be vigilant. With the possible chaos that the Carthian election will cause they must now prepare for the Invictus to do what they do best, look out for their own and destroy their allies. Kerkoft must not know of his identity and their dragon nests must be protected from those Sanctified and Acolytes. He then addressed Lauren Esten, and though distraught at the loss of Liza, she agreed to do her best to ensure that the nature of the Ordo Dracul remained secret within in the Carthians. She understands that she must go before the tribunal and do her best to make the most of this distraction and point the Invictus out as the true culprits who destroyed the Prefect.

Once the Kindred had left the basement??Thessaly, in the dark aided by her heightened senses, went over to the pit and looked about. She studied the strange sigil on the ground, the broken vials, the bowls left about holding fluids. The sides of the pit bore Enochian runes while the sigil on he floor, scratched into the dirt, was a mix of Latin, Greek and Hebrew. To her trained and educated mind the whole things made no, and??Thessaly??got out of the pit more confused than ever. She then heard movement from above, and the entrance that they had taken in was opened and there was the sound of footsteps.

Dimitri, Kane and??Thessaly??moved quickly into the dark, finding places to hide. Kane had his rending claws ready, and??Thessaly??watched the wide figure move in the dark, sniffing at the air. His hair was long and matted and his eyes glowed with an eerie green hue.??Thessaly??watched the figure in stalk about in the dark. She could hear the whispers of Gregorian chanting from somewhere. She spoke to the dark. She called for Pan, the horned god to come to help her. She slit her hand and made the sign of the horned god.

The entire chamber dropped in temperature, and in the dark was heard a deep sorting. The a loud roar and bellowing. Like jack hammers some thing stamped about in the dark, and??Thessaly??watched the green eyed Kindred shrink back into cover. Then she saw it. It was a bull, and she could smell meat and rotting flesh. She watched as it???s innards dripped top the floor and the horns were serrated blades. It roared again. There was more movement as more Kindred came down from above and the place was lit up. The green eyed Kindred attacked the beast, his claws gripping the blade horns of the bull. He struggled in the face of the creature, eyes meeting the bone crushing mincing grinders that the bull has for teeth. Kane,??Thessaly??and Dimitri broke cover and ran. Kane was first, his big cat form bounded up the steps and out of the junk yard. Dimitri and Thessaly were just behind, and??Thessaly??shocked those ghouls outside, bearing her fangs an unleashing her inner beast, terrifying the on looking mortals.

The next evening the group reconvened and met with one of Nails??? associates. They were told to go to a car park where they were shown to Dr Tobin???s car. With a bit of work the car was opened and they were able to search around inside. In the boot they found a pass card to a carpark at the Cheadle Hulme Hosptial, what was once the Manchester Asylum. They also found crumpled photo copy of a page from a book written in Arabic. The label of the page bore two numbers. One began with MMU, the other with AZ. Another lable gave a page number and the name of the book, Kitab Si???lat. They were ready to go to the asylum but another call forced them to take more immediate action. Dr Hugo called them to say that a silent alarm had been triggered in the UMIST bioresearch labs and that they should get there immediately. As it was closer than the asylum they headed here first. They also learnt that they had been given permission by the Chairman to count this as a bloodhunt and that the third tradition was not in play for those who had broken into labs.

At the Mill, the biochemistry labs, the coterie headed to the front door and gave the security code to the guard on the night shift. They were let in, given the appropriate security cards and allowed to make their way to the fourth floor on their own. At the fourth floor, before going into the Astra Zeneca labs, Kain once more shifted form to that of a panther and began to search for a scent.??Thessaly??and Dimitri made their way past the security double doors and could see the lights on. They all walked in just as they caught a large biker type walk out of the labs holding a cool box.????Behind the vampire was Robert Woking, the business man lacky of Kerkoft and also coterie member wiuth Annabel Barbican and Jacob Lewis. The biker fled, using preternatural speed, and Kane lept forward giving chase. Meanwhile Robert fired a pistol, hitting Dimitri in the shoulder, and Thessaly lunged forward. Enraged Dimitri charged Robert, his vitae fuelling his blow, and sent Robert flying backwards through the door. Both Thessaly and Dimitri then lunged at Robert, Thessaly taking a gunshot to the shoulder at close range. Both vampire began to grapple and bite at Robert, tearing bloody chunks from his neck and throat until he was drained of vitae and Thessaly devoured his soul.

On the roof Kane, in panther form, chased down the biker, his claws cutting into his arm. There was a scuffle but the biker just fell backwards off the roof. Kane lept after him but realised that he had disappeared, and so midair shape shifted to his raven form.


In a dark tunnel the biker opened the cool box and looked at the vials of blood, and overcome with hunger he gorged on the blood in the vials, feeling his body crack and shift, bone bursting from his body.


Vampire:??The Endless Waltz

Episode 5: The Price of Blood???????Part 1

Following the break in at the museum much had to be done. Dimitri was organizing his election party for Patrick Falken. Kane was spending time with the Gangrel Priscus, learning more about the ways of the Gangrel blood and the city domains. Kane also took the chance to use his raven form to fly over the Fletcher Moss manor house. But at every opportunity he was being watched as he flew over the manor house. Almost as if they knew he was watching. As for??Thessaly??she had much to do. Halloween had taken place, requiring much preparation on her part as she attended to the rituals of her grandsire Magus Gregor, and also witnessed the powers of a Mekhet guest to the city, a vampire capable of summoning and manipulating ghosts. Thessaly also took the time to investigate the history of the Ordo Dracul in Manchester, finding out about what little is know about their chapter houses, their roles within the covenant, and the links with Manchester???s infamous Hellfire club. She also looked into the symbolism that had been seen in her own visions and those of Desdemona. There was elements of Mithraic mythology, Assyrian cults, Roman history, fallen angels and the history of??Manchester. There was something else at work along with the Invictus and Ordo Dracul.

At the Great Northern shopping centre, the converted warehouse of the Great Northern Railway company, a massive Victorian building, Dimitri was with Max Neils going over the security concerns of the venue. The shopping centre, which was also home to a cinema complex, was mostly empty, not every shop was in use. Max Neils owned the club on the top floor, known as Hangman???s. Outside of the club was a red neon sign in the form of a stick man at the gallows, swaying from side to side. Inside the club was lit with sparing amounts of white and red neo tubes, and what reflective metal surfaces there are had all been scrubbed to stop clear reflections. Happy with the arrangements Dimitri was all ready to leave when Myrmidon Estabelle Duncanson arrived. She asked if Dimitri had time to be questioned and asked Priscus Neils if they may use his office.

In the office Estabelle and Dimitri were sat opposite each other while one of her bailiffs stood watching and another stood outside on guard. She then proceeded to question Dimitri, asking him about the events that led to the death of the Prefect and what Lauren Esten meant when she accused him of being a traitor. Dimitri kept his cool and dodged the difficult questions, but Estabelle informed him that she would be seeking to question Kane and Thessaly now and it the best time for them to come forward with any information before a tribunal is held. Lauren Esten and Liza Smith would also be question before the tribunal, but these two had now been keeping a low profile and so were difficult to pin down.

Following the meeting at the club Dimitri headed to Patrick Falken???s office where Thessaly and Kane were waiting. They had been given a list of people to meet to win over to Falken???s campaign and so promote him to others to ensure his election.

The first person they chose to meet was Vicky Baker, a Mekhet Carthian and a tattoo artist. She operated out of a palor on Oldham Street. There in the studio, with some rock music playing, the sound of a buzzing needle. The guy on the desk fetched them Vicky while a person in one of the rooms screamed in pain.

Vicky was short, had close cropped hair, wore combats and had a leopard print on her hair. She looked at the three of them and led them to the staff room and locked the door. She was expecting them to arrive and knew they worked for Falken, but wanted to know what was in it for her? Kane explained the differences between Julia???s and Patrick???s goals, but Vicky was not bothered. She explained a little about her work and how it helped many Acolytes in the city, but they had never budged to trust her. But based upon this Thessaly, stating she in fact worked for Magus Gregor, could change the situation, get her more work and prestige and maybe even some form of membership in the Crone as well.

With Vicky satisfied the group then headed to the Circle Club in town. The Circle Club was run by Spokesman Rain, and it was situated under the Victorian shopping mall, the Barton Arcade. Here they were let in through the tight security, and made their way down into the club. The club was dimly light and was like something from 1920???s film. Many of the cities Carthian Kindred were there.

Spokesman Rain approached taking the chance to speak to Dimitri in order to find out how the party and campaign were taking shape. He also directed them to the fact that one of the Kindred that Patrick wished for them to see was present, and that after they could use the entrance to the canals, there in the back of the club, to go and find Nails. The Carthian on their list that was in the club was Brad Pale, a Daeva, a party kid and a brash neonate, not much older that the coterie.

Thessaly, Dimitri and Kane sat down with the Daeva, who was also accompanied by a couple other young Kindred and their own ghouled women who giggled at each sentence that Brad uttered. Brad was dressed much like many of the emo/new rave kids seen in town, wear a pair of shades and a loud t-shirt. He was also happily snorting coke and feeding on his ghouls. He greeted the coeterie with his usual brand of ego and proceeded to listen to Kane, but butted in when he disagreed, suggesting that Falken had no plans to make things better for the neonates of this city and that they were just lap dogs. The argument soon caused Kane to rise to his full stature and proceed to shout down the foolish and arrogant vampire whelp, suggesting that if Julia did get her way then the city would be ripe for the Invictus and other Kindred.

With Brad cowed into submission the coterie left him to contemplate his decision. Kane was then approached by Sister Rebecca Castle, a power suit clad woman who applauded him for his strength of convictions and asked if he was going to take up the offer of coming to a Sanctified mass sometime soon. Kane however was not interested. They had other things to do.


Vampire:??The Endless Waltz

Episode 4: Live by the Sword???????Part 3

Now aware that Natalia Kerkoft had her ghouls break into the office at the museum to steal the briefcase (and whatever was within it), Dimitri and Thessaly were ordered by Patrick Falken to go and meet with the Invictus Lady so that might discover the identity of the ghoul so that they can better understand Natalia???s interest in the Chairman and the Astra Zeneca laboratories. Patrick instructed the two to go to the manor house of Fletcher Moss in Didsbury, a region of??Manchester??that falls into the domain of Natalia Kerkoft, the so called Duchy of Kerkoft. Patrick instructed them to go to the court of Kerkoft with a gift, under the guise that they are seeking the acceptance from the Court of Kerkoft for Patrick Falken???s election campaign. The gift that Patrick has been holding onto for just the right moment is a small music box dating from the time of Louis the 13th.

Meanwhile, still in the form of a small black cat, Kane made his way into the Buddhist temple. First he leapt up to the fir escape, clambering up to find a way inside via an open window. Once in and timing his movement, Kane was able to make his way back down within the building. At times he had to wait for a person to go by and open a door, but eventually he reached the temple. Incense and chanting emanating from the temple, monks sat cross legged before images and statues contemplating. Kane slinked in, his cat form keeping close to the walls and sniffing the air. The Beast, so close to the surface, made Kane growl. There was a vampire close by.

Kane made his way towards the back of the temple. The smell of burning herbs and spices were unable to mask the faint smell of death that his feline nose could detect. He found a door, it was closed, but after a number of jumps his cat paws were able to twist the door handle and he discovered a staircase leading downwards. The smell was now slightly stronger. Kane headed down into the dark.

At the bottom of the stairs Kane found a corridor that led into the dark. His cat eyes were able to discern his surroundings from what little light there was. He made his way down into the bowls of the building, passing rooms filled with crates of cheap imports. But there was one room that was different. He crept into the room, the door being ajar, and he found a small chamber where a strange figure stood over a cauldron. The room was cast in a red glow and the figure, slender, skeletal and dark skinned, loomed over the cauldron. Blood was bubbling and all about were hung scrolls of some oriental dialect. Behind the figure was the sword and fan that had been taken that night. Kane looked upwards and on the ceiling could see three figures moving, strange dead beings that appeared stitched together, clinging to the ceiling.

Dimitri and??Thessaly, in Dimitri???s Porsche 911, approached the fenced estate of Fletcher Moss. At the gates they pressed the buzzer and were admitted in. The Porsche crunched up the gravel road to the Georgian manor house. A number of cars were parked outside and at the front of the house a valet parked the car for Dimitri. The ghoul butler of the house asked for their names and blood lineage and then proceeded to lead them into the main entrance hall of the house. There in the hall a number of Kindred were gathered chatting, including some recognisable faces, Lady Tabbitha Gao, Robert Woking and of course Annabel Barbican.

Before??Thessaly, Annabel asked if Dimitri was here to finally confess what happened to Jacob Lewis and finally join the Invictus and prove his worth. Dimitri denied any knowledge of what she was talking about. Then Annabel turned on??Thessaly.??Thessaly??had been given more striking and impressive clothes by Dimitri to wear for this meeting. Annabel just looked the Nosferatu up and down and sneered, unimpressed by this change in presentation. But then, to their surprise it was Lady Gao who came to their rescue. As the harpy in the city with the highest status she immediately humiliated Annabel, pressing the fact that until she had the honour of hold the title of Lady of the Dynastic House of Kerkoft that she should remember her place and treat guests appropriately or else the very honour of the Invictus would be sullied. Annabel hissed at the Dimitri and walked off but not before Dimitri had the chance to pat her on the ass, leading to Robert having to restrain her and dominate her mind to prevent a very costly breach of courtly etiquette.

Thessaly, Dimitri and Gao sat on a sofa awaiting for their turn to be called to see Kerkoft. Gao, now acutely aware of??Thessaly???s ability of foresight, mentions that she is not the only seer present in the house of Kerkoft. There is another, a Rachel Witten, apparently a member of the Circle of the Crone.??Thessaly??said she did not know her, nor was she aware that there were Acolytes offering services to the Invictus. The butler then returned and we led further into the manor house.

Before the dark figure in the basement Kane kept rigidly still, watching it???s every move, listening to each syllable of the invocation. But then it stopped moving, the figure with its arms outstretched. It loomed forward and gracefully pointed towards where Kane was stood in the dark. It asked for him to come forward and reveal his true form. Kane obliged and shifted form and met the cold dead eyes of the vampire. It stood up, shorter than Kane, and presented itself as Tetsuro, of Clan Nosferatu and of the Burakumin bloodline. Tetsuro went on to explain that he was simply recovering the items that were rightfully his family???s, items stolen over a hundred years ago by Kerkoft. However their recovery has only occurred now after determining the most auspicious time to do so. Kane revealed that by some means Kerkoft had also known of this moment to break into the museum. Tetsuro asked Kane to tell his superiors that the items were now lost and in return Tetsuro would
allow Kane to leave, alive, so long as they were both committed to bringing Kerkoft down. To seal the pact the Burakumin extended a long talon into the cauldron of blood and using it inscribed a tattoo onto Kane???s arm.

At the manor house, in the dining room,??Thessaly??and Kane were presented to Lady Natalia Kerkoft. With Natalia were a number of ghouls and behind her was sat a woman wearing a pendant in the shape of a bull???s head. This was Rachel Witten. The butler presented the gift to Natalia who then went on to explain that she would support whomever won the Carthian election, but that she would look kindly upon Falken as he has given her a wonderful gift.

Leaving the dining room Dimitri and??Thessaly??remained at the house, taking the time to speak to those Invictus who care to talk to them. Dimitri then spotted the ghoul, and after a few minutes was able to find a moment to speak to him. His name was Gyle, and worked for one of Kerkoft???s construction companies, Dimitri???s powers of the blood loosening his tongue.


Vampire:??The Endless Waltz

Episode 4: Live by the Sword???????Part 2

With the silent alarm triggered, Constable Ihram, along with Kane, Thessaly and Dimitri headed to the Natural History display. Kane shifted form, the power of the blood causing his form to contort into that of a large black puma.

They entered the display room, passing the cabinet containing the stuffed skin of a tiger, it???s form having been position to appear as if it was leaping at some form of prey. Looking up at the upper level of the room nothing unusual was spotted. Inhumanly agile, Ihram seemed to glide up the stair case to the floor above, followed by Dimitri and Kane. Thessaly remained on the lower floor keeping look out. Looking upward at the skylight Ihram and Dimitri noted that a window had been forced open. Ihram regarded the black cat and asked Kane to go and check the geographical display room while Dimitri and himself will go through towards the Egyptian display. Thessaly was ordered to go back and head through the party and meet them at the other side.

Dimitri and Ihram passed through the Lizard room. The displays of live animals, snakes and lizards and frogs, hissed and chirruped. Green light bathed the room. They then entered the Egyptian room and from above they could see the cabinets filled with mummies and coffins, all illuminated dimly. Dimitri headed down the stairs to the lower level and started to look about the displays while Ihram continued onwards towards the main entrance of the museum and the displays of weapons. Dimitri spotted that there was a door open that led into the hallways of the staff only sections of the museum. The door would normally be hidden by a curtain. Dimitri was then joined by Kane. Kane had followed his scent and now here he had picked up another scent.

????????????????????????Meanwhile Thessaly re-entered the party and quickly made her way through it and made her way to the main entrance of the museum. Here, near the gift shop and stairs to the part of the museum devoted to weaponry and unique displays, Thessaly could hear the crunching of glass above. She headed up the stairs and quietly made her way up. She could hear glass breaking and muttered voices in a language that she could not make out. She crept up on the intruders and found that there were three of them. They had broken into the Japanese weapons display and had removed a sword and a ceremonial fan. They spotted Thessaly and went to attack her. Thessaly, noting the one of them had a crowbar, fled to get the others. As she made her way out of the display room she was met by Constable Ihram. She also saw that has gnarled nails had extended into crooked and cracked claws. Ihram met the crowbar wielding man (they were Oriental) and sparks flew from the iron bar. The intruder was well skilled and fought Ihram with a flurry of kicks and swipes of the bar. Thessaly, summoning her courage, launched forward at the man, landing a blow to his side. Turning to retaliate the man missed with the crowbar, ad seeing his opening Ihram struck with his claws, raking them up the front of his chest. His rib cage was gouged apart and his entrails spilled to the floor. He slumped to the floor dead.

????????????????????????Dimitri and Kane moved down the corridor and found an office that was open. It was labelled as being the office of Dr Gorten, and it was filled with filling cabinets, a well stocked bookcase and a few cases displaying relics of Arabic origin. Kane picked up the scent, noting it was completely different to the scent from the Animal display. The scent seemed to originate within the museum. Kane followed the scent and found that it led to an open fire escape.


????????????????????????With the party over, and the guests escorted via a different exit it was found that the Oriental men had escaped. But there had been another break in at almost the same time. CCTV showed that neither group were Kindred. Ihram, Chamberlain Odans and the coterie discussed the issues of the night. The weaponry display was a personal collection of the Chairman???s and so Odans had been ordered to recover the items. As for the second break in it seems that the Chairman had been targeted twice. The coterie were to remain quiet on this matter and recover a briefcase and it???s contents that had been removed from the office. The briefcase is the possession of Dr Tobin of Astra Zeneca, a local pharmaceutical company that the Chairman has influence within. This was the main priority but the recovery of the sword and fan was to be made known to the Kindred of the city so to act as a decoy for people???s attention. Dimitri was asked to look at the CCTV images of the evening???s events as they needed to spot who the intruders were working for at the party.

????????????????????????Looking at the CCTV images, and with some time wasted replaying segments, two faces are made out in the corridor to the office of Gorten. Comparing to footage of the party (a very confusing mixture of images and blurs, but also of those Kindred making their reflections and images appear, Dimitri works out that the two men were the retainers of Natalia Kerkoft.

????????????????????????Kane meanwhile takes the form of a small cat and follows through the city the trail of the Oriental intruders. Earlier Ihram had shown them all a piece of skin he had taken from the dead man. It was a tattoo of a phoenix which Thessaly had identified as being the emblem of a Triad gang in China Town. This was further confirmed by a book of matches on the man. It was from the strip club in Chin Town called ???Long Legs???, and had a phone number for a girl called Ebon Jubei. Kane cross numerous busy roads to get to China Town and found the scent ended at a large building that was once a warehouse and now was home to a few shops and a Buddhist temple.

????????????????????????Thessaly and Dimitri had made their way across town to the office of Patrick Falken. He had called them concerning the nights meeting, their opinions, and then he showed them some pictures. They were of one of the men they were seeking. It was a different photo though and then they were shown the same picture zoomed out. It was of the man talking in a caf?? to another man and a file was being handed over. Falken said he had seen the man at the meeting last night. He revealed that the photo was one of a number that was on the hard drive that they coterie had recovered. He knew the man worked for Kerkoft. He wanted Dimitri to do his work on the photo and find out what else was going on.

????????????????????????That night Dimitri used his techinal skills to improve the resolution of the photo. It seemed that the file was from Astra Zeneca. Why was Natalia Kerkoft interested in the Chairman???s business there? Why were they at the meeting? How did they know the Oriental men were going to break in? What is in the briefcase? What has it got to do with Arabic history? How does this all link to the death of the Prefect???





Vampire:??The Endless Waltz

Episode 4: Live by the Sword???????Part 1

It was Monday evening, the 25th??of October. It was a cold evening and the last vestiges of life on the trees were disappearing. Halloween was coming, and of course the chaotic night of Devil???s Night, known in the north of??England??as Mischief Night. Kane emerged from his haven in the earth. His new haven, a section of a park in Newton Heath, with lots of cover, was allocated by the Priscus. He went to dig up his trunk and went to get ready for the evenings meeting.

Meanwhile, Thessaly was back in her creaky old house in??Salford, sat reading from the dusty books. With the festival of Saimhein coming she was busy preparing, knowing that she would be taking an active role in the rituals performed by her grand-sire, the Magus Gregor. Aware of the time she tidied herself and for once wore something more presentable for this meeting.

Dimitri awoke hungry. He got out of the bath in the windowless bathroom, and quickly sort out Karl, and taking him to the bedroom, he fed from Karl???s wrist. They lay together as Karl was taken by the euphoria of the Kiss. Dimitri has been had at work these last few weeks. He had been planning a party for Elysium where he might be able to better push Patrick Falken???s agenda, and also increase his own prestige. Following his feeding, Dimitri is quick to get onto the streets, and soon finds an appropriate girl at a bar and is able to feed once more in the toilets, drugging her with coke.

Later, at the museum, Dimitri, Kane and??Thessaly??are waiting at a side entrance so that they can be let in. The party at the museum, hosted by the Chairman, is to showcase a new collection of Roman busts on loan to the museum, and also a chance for the Chairman and the Board of Representatives to discuss business and influence people with the city council and companies located in the region. They are greeted by one of the Chamberlain???s ghouls and are led through the museum caf??, and then through the display on dinosaurs, before being led up into the display of animals. All about, on two levels were stuffed examples of mammals, monkeys, tigers, exotic birds and a model of a whale hanging from the ceiling. Above a skylight let in the orange of the city, staining the displays in a dirty umber. Walking along??Thessaly??thought she saw one of the Amazonian horned birds move, watching Dimitri. She did a double take and stood against the glass of the display looking at the inanimate bird.

They carried on, walking through the glass bridge that led to the next building and the display of Mediterrainian artefacts. Beyond was the main room being used to host the Roman busts, and within were almost 100 people, waiters with hors d???oeuvres and trays of champagne. AS they approached the door they were asked to wait and Patrick Falken met them. He explained their goal of the evening, which was to gain the support of the Board of Representatives and more importantly the Chairman. He reminded them that this was not Elysium and so the Masquerade was to be maintained. They also learnt that in a few days they would be interrogated by officers of the Myrmidon as the case of the death of the Prefect was investigated. Lauren Esten was being watched and that the truth would come out in the end.

Through the evening the troupe spoke to a number of Kindred. Kain had a brief talk to the Lancea Sanctum Bishop, Michael Kenner, a bearded and rotund man in a tweed suit. He tried to convince Kain to come and join him at one of the Sanctified midnight mass. Kain said he would think about it, Kain knowing that it would be just the thing to learn more about the Covenant and possibly get some more votes for Falken. Kain also had a chance to speak to the Chairman himself. He was congratulated on his acceptance into the Carthians and that he would like to see Falken take the position of Prefect, but of course cannot influence things directly.

Dimitri spoke to the Daeva Priscus, Max Neils. Max made it clear he had no enmity to Dimitri, and that their confrontation at the caucus was simply so that the laws of the Carthians were upheld and that the Spokesman did not overstep his position. Neils then goes on to offer the use of his club, Hangman???s, for Dimitri???s party, in exchange that he may in turn gain the help of Dimitri in the future, possibly with regard to Carthian policies on domain and Elysium. Dimitri then had an encounter with the Invictus lord, Advisor, the Good Alder Lady, Natalia Kerkoft, Viscountess of the South of Manchester. She kept the formalities at a minimum and brought up Dimitri???s possible deal with the Invictus if he was able to give them the information regarding the final death of Jacob Lewis. Dimitri did not budge, he wanted to know what Kerkoft was willing to give him in exchange. She was insulted that this neonate, an upstart, a traitor, and a murderer, was wanting to haggle with her. He would get what he deserved, and she simply told him that he would be lucky to survive to see the election of his patron.

Thessaly, not being the most sociable, spent her time near to the Egyptian exhibit, looking at the mummies. It was here that she was approached by Desdemona, the leader of the Acolyte Cult of Hathor. She spoke to??Thessaly??about the upcoming election and the effect that it would have on the Crone if the Lancea Sanctum was able to gain the favour of the Carthians. She also spoke of the unease she felt knowing that there were potential Ordo Dracul within the city. Finally she revealed to??Thessaly??that she had been using the Blood to speak to the aethers. She had a vision of three things. A lion, an angel and a throne.

However,??Thessaly??was not just spoken to by Desdemona, but was also approached by the Harpy and Invictus lord, the Daeva, and Gulikan, Tabbitha Goa. She at first hoped her perfume would overpower the mind of??Thessaly. Failing at this Tabbitha applied a small amount of further perfume to her hands and touching??Thessaly???s own hand. In moments??Thessaly??was overcome and began to talk about practically everything to the Daeva.

As the evening wore on the Chamberlain gathered up the troupe and took them to one side and there they came before the Constable, Ihram. He was urgent. A silent alarm in the museum had been triggered.


Vampire:??The Endless Waltz

Episode 3: Puppet Show???????Part 4

While the gathered Kindred headed into the cinema to watch the film, the ghouls stood at the entrances of the building providing security. Upstairs Dimitri, unaware that the????film was about to start, was feeding on one of the herd that had been provided for the evening. Both himself and the ghoul were high on cocaine, Dimitri feeding from her intoxicated blood. They were then disturbed when Lauren Esten and Liza Smith barged into the toilets where Dimitri was feeding. There was a small face off and then they left, with Dimitri realising that the film was about to begin.

Outside the screen room,??Thessaly, Kane and Spokesman Rain awaited for Dimitri while within the room, with the Kindred seated, the Prefect stood up in front of the screen to announce the film and present the producer of the film. Rain was some what annoyed by Dimitri???s attitude to the evening???s affairs, and hoped that he would not be causing trouble and be on his best behaviour. The together they went into the room and took seats towards the back to the room where they could watch the door and the gathered audience.

The film began and it was clear that the Kindred were sitting in particular groups. Max Neils sat apart from the Prefect. The Prefect was sat with Patrick Falken and the Myrmidon, while Julia Reinhart and Mizuki Xin sat a few rows back together with their small collection of revolutionaries. Priscus Kollins and Priscus Stewart sat together quietly discussing matters. But it was clear to??Thessaly??that Nails and Lauren Esten were not present. She was also overcome with a sense of d??j?? vu as she watched the film, the ticking of the film resonating in her mind.

Thessaly??got up to leave the screen, with Kane asking what was wrong. She simply said that it was going to happen now. What it was. Noticing them talking, Rain took them to one side, and though sceptical of Thessaly???s vision, ordered her, along with Kane and Dimitri to go and find them and the Prefect. The Prefect in the screen was in fact a fake, making use of the Obfuscate Discipline.

Out of the screen??Thessaly??headed to the basement, while Kane headed to the camera room and Dimitri headed up stairs to check the other screens and offices. Walking up to the ghouls guarding the way into the building,??Thessaly??asked if they had seen Nails. The ghouls acted with disrespect, of course thinking that they only answer to the Spokesman Rain. Insulted,??Thessaly??called upon the power of Nightmare, and with fangs bared, her voice a rasping hiss, she cowed the ghouls into submission and learnt that they had not seen anyone go past them of through the main hall.

In the film room Kane found nothing, noticing that the projector was quite antiquated. Upstairs, in the stinking disabled toilet, Dimitri spotted that the sink was stained with blood and recently, as if someone had been washing their hands. He then found under the toilet bowl, with blood stains and cellotape stuck to it. Dimitri walked back to the staircase, spotting Kane in the hall. At which point the lights went out. The building was in total darkness.

Spokesman Rain came out of the screen room and found that the hall was totally dark. He called out for the ghouls to bring a torch and Kane and Dimitri replied. Rain asked that he and Dimitri go find the Prefect while Kane stand guard here and not let anyone out of the screen. Meanwhile??Thessaly??was in the basement and could hear scuffling from one of the store rooms. She listened at the door, and then burst in to find Nails hunched over the body of one of the herd from the evening, gnawing at their face while feeding. He turned and was unaffected by??Thessaly???s mastery of Nightmare, her eyes reflecting Nail???s Beast. ???Thessaly??can???t you see I???m busy. Now fuck off! He growled and then went back to feeding.

In the gloom Kane stood before the gathered Kindred who were now beginning to become concerned that the film had stopped and that they wanted to go. But Kane had been ordered by the Spokesman to not let them leave and so he stood his ground. Some had descended into bickering, critiquing the film and arguing over the organisation of the evening.

Upstairs Spokesman Rain and Dimitri find the office where the Prefect had been holding a secret meeting. The door is locked and the key is still in the lock and so a ghoul is asked to go and bring Kane. While Kane goes to help the Spokesman Patrick Falken takes over Kanes position guarding the door. After a few attempts Kane is able to break in the door just as??Thessaly??arrives to see the scene. Inside the office they find there is a dead body, the throat torn out, and next to it another body, the ashen remains of the Prefect.??Thessaly??quickly scanned the room and discovered some photos on the floor under the desk, and noted that there were two types of blood. The dead mortal was the PI from the other night. On the window sill of the room there were bloody hand prints. But there was no sign of how the assassin got into the room. As they checked the body of the Prefect a moth was released form his remains.

The Spokesman, enraged that such a thing had happened ordered for them to find Lauren Esten. In one of the toilets upstairs they soon found her with one of her ghouls, feeding. The Spokesman demanded that she come with him and they led her down into the main hall, just as the power came back on. In the main hall the Kindred were gathered and watched as Lauren was pushed forward by Dimitri into the shocked crowd.

Julia Reinhart demanded that they be free to leave the cinema, and that this was once more a sign of the tyranny that the Chairman allows within his city. ???See how we are once more dominated by fear!???

???Enough Julia!??? retorted the Spokesman. ???The Prefect is dead and the murderer is amongst either amongst us, or their accomplices are! I bring before you a traitor to the Traditions of the city and the laws of the Carthians.???

Panic rippled through the gathered Kindred, and Max Neils walked forward and confronted the Spokesman. He looked at Lauren. ???As representative of the Clan Daeva, and as an elected member of the Board of Representatives, I demand you tell me what evidence you have????

???She and Liza Smith were trying to find a place to go so they would not be in the cinema screen and so could go and kill the Prefect.??? Dimitri said.

Lauren looked at Dimitri and replied. ???You accuse me of being a traitor. Let me tell you I know who the real traitor is.??? Dimitri was shocked by this.

???Words will get us nowhere. What physical evidence do you have? After all the powers of the Blood are open to abuse??? Max Neils asked.

???We believe that this bloody phone,??? Dimitri held it aloft as the Spokesman spoke, ???was used just before the Prefect???s death, planted by the killer or accomplice to allow them to communicate within the building. Dimitri if you could dial the last number used.???

Dimitri did so, and expected for a phone to ring, a phone on Lauren Esten. Kane patted her down and found nothing. ???Well Spokesman? Where is your proof? Where is your proof that the Laws of the Carthians have been violated? How can we trust your word???? Asked the Myrmidon Estabelle Duncanson. Dimitri could see in the crowd of vampires that Liza Smith was scrabbling to turn off her phone. Dimitri moved through the crowd, quietly as the elder Carthians faced off. But when he got to her he found that there was no phone.

Meanwhile up in the office??Thessaly??used the pool of blood from the Prefect???s body as a mirror to scry within. She had a vision of a snake, a snake who???s skin pealed away and from it???s mouth a rat was vomited forth. With that she headed downstairs, past the gathered Kindred and back to the basement. The killer was still here, and was a Gangrel.

The Myrmidon continued her attack on the Spokesman. ???With the Prefect dead, I, not you, speak for our Covenant. And so for now I declare that a full investigation be conducted, but by the rules of the Carthians and not the Chairman. I and those officers under my command are the only trusted investigators and so I take this matter seriously. All Kindred here are suspects, even you yourself Spokesman. Lauren Esten will be watched, mark my words. But for now we must also concern ourselves with the matter of the upcoming election.???

In the basement??Thessaly??found the a number of ghouls dead, their bodies torn apart. Rather than face the threat on her own she went back upstairs, hoping that the killer had left the building.

With the election announced the Kindred were permitted to leave while the Myrmidon gathered together her own investigation team. She had announced that if any Kindred try to leave the city they would be treated as guilty and hunted. Patrick Falken approached the troupe. He could tell that they were frustrated with the current situation with the death of the Prefect upstairs, and that Carthian Law prevented them from using their abilities from getting the evidence they needed. But this is the democracy that they exist in and that these are the very Laws that stop the elders of the Invictus from acting like real tyrants. Now with the election declared the stability of the Carthians was in danger. With Julia Reinhart as one of the obvious candidates Patrick announced to Kane,??Thessaly??and Dimitri that he too would be running for the position of Prefect. They would be his campaign team.

But there was still another matter to deal with. The photos that??Thessaly??found had shown the junk yard where the PI had gone to. They also showed a house with a post box outside. Somehow these, the PI, Liza Smith, Lauren Esten and the death of the Prefect were all connected.


Vampire:??The Endless Waltz

Episode 3: Puppet Show???????Part 3


????????????????????????The PI left the Odeon cinema and headed to his car, while Kane followed in his bird form. The PI drove east out past Castlefield and into the suburbs. MeanwhileThessaly??made a few calls, and on the advice of her sire, Adam Dunkirk, she headed north, in the domain of the Invictus Judex Lord Peter Hawkins, and to the abandoned church to see the Acolyte Haruspex, Michelle Quinn. Meanwhile Dimitri remained at his flat, planning for any possible outcome of his meeting with Annabel Barbican.

????????????????????????Kane perched atop a house and watched as the PI found a spot to watch a dark and foreboding junkyard. The chain link fenced yard was home to piles of scrap metal, towers of abandoned, rusting, cars. Kane took to the air and swooped over the yard and was immediately hit by a feeling of fear, unease. There were Kindred in the yard. Kane put some distance between himself and the yard, getting a grip over the avian mind that he was inhabiting. Kane then returned to the yard in time to see a car pull in and four people get out. One was easily identified by Kane, it was the platinum blond, Lauren Esten. They were soon joined by three more people from within the yard, and together they began to scout about the yard, Lauren scanning the streets for any sign of other Kindred. Kane took flight and moved away but was soon drawn to the cries of the PI. The spy was being savagely mauled by a large dog, a wolf, and was then apprehended by two of the gang. Lauren Esten looked on as the man was dragged back to the yard and she stooped down to taste the blood from the wound to his arm. Unimpressed they drugged the PI into the yard and into the porta-cabin office. Kane flew closer, once the coast was clear and landed on top of the car and hopped down behind it, transforming. He crawled forward and opened the boot of the car, only to find a freshly drained corpse of a young man, contained within a black bin bag. Kane was confused and once more took the form of a crow and flew off to tell his findings to the others.

????????????????????????Thessaly??entered the church yard and was immediately aware of the power of the location, of the feeling of death and pain associated with the location. She could hear the faint echoes of the screams of those that had died in the flames, of a fire that is now only remembered by the scorch marks on the walls. She entered the church via the western gate, the roof of the church missing and allowing the burnt umber sky to illuminate the toppled pews. Shuffling down the aisle came a hooded figure who recognizedThessaly??as the grandchilde of Magus Gregor. He led??Thessaly??to the north end of the church and uncovered a stone staircase down into the ossuary. Further down the dank cold corridors, past the bones of the dead, was the chambers of the Haruspex. Attended by two members of the Choir, the Haruspex sat in green robes on a roughly made wooden throne. Before her a pool of blood rippled, and about her there was only a few candles for she herself was blind. Speaking softly the Haruspex spoke to??Thessaly, asking her of her vision and what had been happening. She gave warning of the Stryx, not of what they are but what they represent. She spoke of the Ordo Dracul, something that the aether had whispered to her, that they would be returning and that a time of chaos was at hand. The Haruspex noted that it was??Thessaly???s role to act as guide in these dark times to the Carthians.

????????????????????????Two days on and Dimitri waited in a pub just near the town hall, and here he was soon joined by Kane, and the Spokesman, Mathew Rain. They awaited for??Thessaly, and Rain gave a run down of the members of the Carthians who would be attending, along with his own opinions of them. Rain warned them that they had better be certain the location was secure.

????????????????????????Together they walked to the cinema and they noted that the gang of bikers had taken up positions to watch the cinema. Inside security consisted of neonates and ghouls of the Carthians, and the main hall of the cinema had been redecorated, with drapes of cloth, tables and chairs and sofas. Light music played and candles added a soft light to occasion. The Spokesman, as Master of Elysium, gave the collected ghouls and herd a dressing down before the doors opened for the evening.

????????????????????????The first guests began to arrive and they filtered into the cinema. These initial Kindred were some of the least important and youngest of the Carthians, but as more arrived, and the importance of the guest grew, Spokesman Rain and Patrick Falken made more of an effort to greet each of the guests. Clan Prisci arrived, their childer and their own select ghouls and herd. The hall was filling up and the music was barely heard over the chatter of the gossiping undead. One particular guest was more of surprise than any, the Circle of the Crone representative for the occasion, the sensual and eastern looking Desdemona, adorned in gold and Egyptian jewellery that matched her prestige as High Priestess of the Cult of Hathor. Her presence drew the attention of many Kindred in the hall, male and female alike. But there were those who also despised her being there, another sign of the elitism that the Chairman had allowed to creep into his council.

????????????????????????Finally with much bravo the Carthian Prefect, Simon Arken, arrived. The gathered Carthians applauded him and cheered him, and as his coat and top hat he walked in the throng of Kindred, who parted to form a circle about him. He spoke of his joy to see so many old and new faces gathered together, joined in their brotherhood as Carthians, and announced the pleasure he had of acting as patron of the event and it???s artist, the Daeva, Bethany Eringer. He then called for the Chain to be formed, and each of the Carthians about him formed an unbroken chain, holding the hands of their neighbours. Only Desdemona and??Thessaly??stood apart from the Chain. They looked on as from
member to member of the Chain a small piece of paper was passed, a ballot paper, blank but scorched, was passed about. The Prefect asked for those present to look at and witness the possibilities and freedom of the Carthians and their right to a say in the future of their Clan, their Covenant and their City. With the ritual over there was another round of applause and the Chain was over, with the Carthians breaking up into small groups to discuss and conduct business.

Kane took the chance to approach the Gangrel Priscus, Bartholomew Kollins. The man was a brutish look person, tall, a cropped hair cut with the sides shaved even closer, his clothing functional and typical of a man who worked the streets. He regarded the approaching Kane and looked him up and down, assessing his abilities. Happy with the neonate Kollins greeted Kane, and mentioned that he had heard good things since he first saw him back during Kane???s presentation to the Chairman. He also spoke of his knowledge that Kane had some part in the security in the event, something that Kollins was happy to have happen as he made it clear he was not a fan of either the Constable or the Spokesman, both of whom he regarded as nothing more than lapdogs of the Chairman. He then offered to show Kane the boundaries of the territories of the Kindred, the Gangrel in particular, and that he would consider him in the future for matters of Carthian security and martial action.

Meanwhile??Thessaly??had gone to approach the grim being that was Nails, the Nosferatu representative amongst the Carthians, and the unofficial Sheriff of the undercity. He was talking to a half dozen more Nosferatu, learning what issues they had and how the Carthians could aid their Clan. The presence of??Thessaly??intrigued him as he asked her for a favour, that she may organise a meeting with her grandsire, expressing that the Crone and the Carthians had something to gain if the Nosferatu Priscus, Mother Amanda Heath of the Lancea Sanctum, were to be removed from power.

All the while Dimitri just sat backed and watched. He was still awaiting a reply from Annabel Barbican and her master, the Invictus Noble, Lady Kerkoft. But Dimitri also noted that Liza Smith was present, sat with Lauren Esten, both of them feeding on a young man who had been provided for the evening. Liza was a friend of Annabel, at least by association.

Patrick Falken was doing the rounds about the hall, taking compliments humbly, Spokesman Rain was likewise listening in to all conversations and organising meetings before the Chamberlain or Chairman while also offering those who required it an audience with the Board of Representatives. Likewise the other Prisci were listening to the needs of the Clan mates, and the Prefect and Myrmidon were listening to the needs of their Carthians. All the while the pale, auburn haired, Julia Reinhart, looked on. She stared intently at those in power, especially the Spokesman and the Prefect. She sat with her friend, the small oriental woman, Mizuki, and about them were chatting a number of Carthians. Kane spotted this and walked over to introduce himself.

Julia, seeing Kane approach, asked for quiet amongst her followers. Julia greeted Kane, and acknowledged that he had been instrumental in the organisation of the venue. But she also pushed further for Kane???s views on the Spokesman and the Chairman. She warned that with each passing night the Chairman was becoming more a tyrant and that change was coming. Kane was aware of her political goals, for a system of proportional representation, as Kollins had taken the time to give Kane a brief overview of the politics going on. Kollins himself was only interested in the safety of the city and his Clan and nothing more. But Reinhart had ambitions.

The Prefect raised his voice and announced the film was ready to be shown.??????????

Vampire - Dimitri

I'm don't think I'm actually bi-sexual. I guess that makes me a cheat for striding into clubs on Canal Street all the time like I own the place. Admittedly, something I only started doing after I was 'turned.' (Hate that term, plus any of the other related descriptions).

I met Karl two months into my new 'lifestyle,' he was the loneliest-looking and least camp guy on the scene... and I didn't mean to do anything more than give him a hour or so in my company. He looked at me like I was Jesus and there was something there, for him at least. I didn't drink from him at all that night. Just gave him my number, feeling a little terrible that he was expecting something different than I was offering.??

It was two weeks later and I'd met him six times already, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. He was something else, not just one of those chicks I take home every other night. Karl is a pretty guy, about 5'8", brown hair, hazel eyes, actually nothing special, but he cared about me from the start. It seemed right, and I ghouled him, probably the best night of his life. We kissed; that was all, and then I asked him. Bit of a strange thing to ask, maybe. I had to tell him the truth. I don't think he believed me at first; soon enough he did.??

He's at my beck and call; I love him, and I don't mean 'love' in the traditional sense. He's important. I was overwhelmed that he would do whatever I said, but only for a while. I got used to it. I'd like it if he knew me inside out, but he doesn't. I can't tell him everything. Where would I be if I didn't keep secrets? He knows all that is required.


Vampire:??the Requiem

Manchester: the Endless Waltz

Episode 3: Puppet Show ??? Part 2

??Following Dimitri???s meeting with Zahred Zilber at the Ascension Club, Dimitri headed out into the night to find another a club to go hunting. Meanwhile, following Thessaly???s revelation, Kane headed out into the streets of??Salford??to hunt. Stalking the shadows Kane was able to single out a hoodie, following the mortal to an alleyway where the boy was going to take a piss. Kane simply grabbed him from behind and slaked his thirst before returning back to his churchyard haven and merging with the soil to sleep for the day.

??The next evening, the 9th??of November, a Saturday, Kane awoke and texted Dimitri. They needed to all meet. By 7pm all of the coterie had gathered in Kro Bar, just a few yards away from the museum. Verity had already met with the Chamberlain???s assistants and obtained the passes that would get them into the building site of the cinema. The security and building company had now been swapped over to a company run by one of the Prefect???s ghouls. It was agreed that the interior of the building would be investigated, searching for any possible entrances to the sewers or canals. However Dimitri had other plans and as they left the bar Dimitri left to attend to other matters.

??Arriving at the cinema Verity showed the pass to the bumbling old security guard and they entered the site via a side entrance. Inside they found the cinema abandoned, but not utterly dilapidated. There were signs of vermin, birds, and that homeless people had gotten in at some point. Looking about the cinema there was the lobby and three screens on the ground floor. On the upper floor there was a place which would have functioned as a bar, and another four bars and offices and store rooms.

Meanwhile Dimitri had gotten into contact with Zahred Zilber once more. This time he wanted a meeting at his flat.

Verity went into the basement of the cinema, looking about in the boiler rooms and Verity is able to find the wall which would be nearest to the canal, however it was impossible to be sure, even with her Auspex enhanced senses.

At Dimitri???s flat his ghoul, Karl, welcomes in Zahred Zilber and Annabel Barbican. Dimitri, fully aware of Annabel???s status and sire, the Invictus head, Lady Natalia Kerkoft, Dimitri explained to Annabel that he knew important information regarding the Final Death of her coterie and Covenant associate, the Nosferatu, Jacob Lewis. Annabel demanded to know whom had killed her friend. But Dimitri was not just going to hand over that bit of information. She of course needed to know how she could trust Dimitri. Dimitri reassured her that he was present for the event. Annabel, furious, raged at Dimitri, screaming that he should not have let the Traditions be violated. Zahred told Annabel to keep her nerve and calm down.

Dimitri, seeing he had the upper hand, would reveal who killed Jacob Lewis but only in exchange for something. Annabel, still enraged, was not thinking clearly enough to make a deal, especially on behalf of the Invictus and her sire. Annabel then realised that it was Dimitri and his coterie who were at Club Quicksilver when she had come across??Thessaly, and that it must have been one of the coterie that had thrown the bottle at her. She asked Dimitri what had happened to the hard drive and what was on it. Dimitri, smugly, said that the hard drive was with Falken. Annabel got up to leave, but turned on Dimitri.

???I will speak to my sire,??? she hissed, ???and you will have your deal. But mark my words Carthian this won???t be the end of it between you and me.??? She turned about and slammed the door as she left the apartment. Zahred shrugged his shoulders and made to leave the flat, ???I???ll see if I can calm her down. I???ll be in contact on her behalf I guess.???

Meanwhile back at the cinema there is a loud knocking on the firedoor and Kane, Verity and Thessaly go to find that awaiting for them is the Moorish, Constable Ihram, and with him the ruddy face and almost foppish, Prefect Simon Arken of the Carthians, and of the Daeva. Ihram introduced the Prefect, commenting that this was the coterie that was performing further sweeps of the building. The Prefect thanked the coterie for their efforts and then asked if they would show him the building so he could work out how much work needs to be done to prepare the venue for the caucus. He also wished to see which office would be of best use for him to use for private meetings during the caucus.

While in the bar area, the Prefect took the time to sit and chat with the coterie. He was appreciative of Kane???s desire to formally join the Carthians with Falken as his patron. He also acknowledge the work of the two Crone Acolytes and that they would be considered honorary members of the Carthians. It was at this point that Kane asked what would anybody have to gain from attacking the Carthians at this meeting. The Prefect explained that though the Chairman has Carthian interests at heart, his approach in recent years has become a little heavy handed. There are those that would like to see the Chairman become less of a tyrant and to simply perform the role of a Chairman, and not of a Prince. But there are those who wish to see the entire governmental model torn down. These Carthians are also a problem as what they desire would lead to a city where nothing would be done and the Masquerade would be in danger.
So attacking the Carthians could either give the Chairman reason to use his executive powers, something that the Prefect has been wanting to remove for years. This in turn would lead to outright rebellion by the more revolutionary Carthians. However, attacking the Carthians could also lead to mobilizing them as a whole, and unify them against a common cause. This would be the last thing the Invictus would want. So an attack, if it does occur, would need to target the right people.

Leaving the building the Prefect went to meet a man, whom he handed over a brown envelop to and in return received a folder. Verity was able to listen in on the conversation and heard the man, referred to as Mr Smith, had been watching someone for the Prefect and that he wanted the rest of the money before he got the remainder of the photos. The Prefect, satisfied said he would be in contact. But across the road, in amongst the throng of students and people who were on a night out on the town, Verity spotted a man photographing the meeting. Verity pursued the man, leading to a chase through the streets. She tackled him to the ground and as he wrestled her off she slammed a kick into his gut. She demanded to know who he worked for and why he was taking pictures. He said he worked for Robert Woking. Verity then let him goes, but took the memory card from the camera. Kane, taking the initiative, had gone to transform into his raven form and flew up high, spotted Verity and the man, and then once she had left, followed the photographer.

Elsewhere, Zahred Zilber passed on a message to Annabel Barbican from Dimitri, who said that they could come to an arrangement soon.

ST Note - Best Session to date!!!