Watch Chapter 4 part 3. Arianne dropped to the floor, grabbed Seth’s gun and fired up at the hoody with the cricket bat. Watch Chapter 4 part 4. She shot him in the side a couple of times. He struck her with the cricket bat in revenge but she soaked the damage. “Is that all you got from that angle?” She taunted the teenager. “I think you need to go back to school and learn how to play cricket.” He glared. “What did you say to me, you little bitch?” She laughed. “You’re not doing very well here. I suggest you go home and watch CBeebies instead.” Meanwhile, Seth ripped out the sword hoody’s throat then used him as a human shield as he ran at the guy shooting at him. He paused and flung the corpse at the shooter. Both hoodies crashed into the van.

Alessandro scrambled to his feet and spotted Nadia coming at him with the needle. He whacked it out of her hand and it embedded in the confessional with a twang. “Judas!” Jezebel yelled. There was a sound from inside the confessional of someone being disturbed in their sleep. Nadia ran for the doors. Alessandro shot at her. Jezebel continued messing with her attackers minds, informing the guy with the fire torch that the sword guy knew he was onto him and would attack him soon. “You need to finish him. Look at the way he’s looking at you. He doesn’t trust you. He’s definitely going to make a move soon. if you value your life, I’d do something about him.” Fire torch guy yelled at her to shut up and took a step toward her. Sword guy panicked demanded to know what he was doing. Jezebel cackled as their attention turned from her to each other.

Arianne shot her attacker twice in the kneecap. He dropped to one knee. Arianne “Aw no, I can’t marry you, we’re in the middle of a fight. This is the worst possible time.” Furious, the hoody grabbed her wrist and attempted to wrestle the gun from her hand. Seth barreled the hoodies into the van then attacked the gunman, who was trapped under the corpse. Seth’s claws ripped through the gunman’s face and his other claws pierced his head, ripping his head from his body.

Alessandro fired at Nadia as she was running. The recoil sent him backwards. Despite having never fired a gun before, his shot exploded a pew, struck a pillar and shards embedded in Nadia’s leg. She ran outside, leaving a trail of blood. Jezebel bashed the torch hoody with her mace, cracking his skull. She swung the mace at the other guy and…booped him on the nose. He turned and fled. “Bye!” She called after him. “Nice of you to come to my church! We have weekly meetings on Sundays!” She drank from the other one.

Arianne jammed the gun under the hoody’s chin and pulled the trigger. His head exploded, showering her in blood. She drank it, managing to heal. Seth heard distant sirens and an engine around the back of the church.

Alessandro chased Nadia out of the church, but he wasn’t sure where she’d gone. He heard the engine around the back so headed in that direction. Jezebel finished feeding then yelled for Judas to come and get the fire torch. He did and extinguished it. He then dragged the hoody away, fetching handcuffs to secure him.

Seth yelled to Arianne to get into the van. Seth climbed in, leaving the hoody embedded in the door and the other two corpses sprawled in the road.

Alessandro was startled by a motorbike light and tripped. As he hit the dirt, a motorbike careered around with Nadia on the back. She flicked a lighter, throwing it on the sword hoody Jezebel scared off. He burst into flames. Jezebel helped Judas move the hoody down to the crypt, where they handcuffed him.

Seth gunned the van, heading towards the back of the church and spied the motorbike. He gave chase.

Alessandro staggered up as the flaming hoody stumbled towards him. The fire caused Alessandro to go into frenzy. He freaked out, fleeing through the graveyard and fell over.

Seth sped up to catch up to the motorbike and told Arianne to shoot at the motorbike. She fired but the bullet pinged off the bike, creating sparks. It looked pretty but wasn’t effective. Hollywood special effects in Bristol.

Alessandro, in his frenzy, crashed into a gravestone and landed in a large muddy patch, ruining another suit.

Seth yelled at Arianne to shoot at the wheel. This shot was successful. The wheel exploded and the rider struggled to keep control of the speeding vehicle as it skidded across the road.

Jezebel left the crypt to find the church silent and deserted. Alessandro got up and continued running through the graveyard. He leapt over a grave and reached safety at the other end of the graveyard.

Seth increased the van’s speed and told Arianne to grab Nadia and pull her into the van. Arianne climbed into the back of the van and opened the sliding door. Grabbing one of the corpses, she hurled it out towards the bike. The corpse hit the riders, sending the bike crashing along the road and killing the driver. “Stop the van!” She yelled to Seth. “Stop the van, I got her.” Seth “let’s try to keep her alive.” He brought the van to a sudden stop. Luckily they were in a quiet street, although there were a couple of drunk people watching them. Arianne assured them they were filming a movie. She jumped out, dragged Nadia into the van and lay her by the corpse, facing it so when she woke, it would be the first thing she saw. Seth pulled Nadia’s hood down. It wasn’t her. Arianne was tempted to shoot her in the face in disgust.

She suggested they head back to the church to make sure Alessandro and Jezebel hadn’t caused too much chaos. Seth thought they should keep away from the church, as they’d just been part of a massacre there. He hoped the others had the sense to get away. Arianne suggested torching the van, or at least dumping it,as they’d find it difficult to use fire. Seth put the bike in the back in the van and check the driver wasn’t Nadia. They weren’t.

Alessandro, now no longer frenzied, heard sirens. He peered over the church wall to see police cars and an ambulance pull up beside the corpses in the road. Two police officers headed for the church. He decided to hide. As there were police heading for the church, which smelled of cordite, and he held a shotgun, he figured hiding in the church was a bad idea, and crept through the graveyard, hiding the shotgun as he went. He headed back to his hotel, removing his suit jacket so he wasn’t quite so covered in mud. Jezebel also heard the sirens and told Judas they should hide. Judas carefully pointed out that he didn’t need to hide, he could talk to the police. Jezebel thought it would be more fun to hide then jump out on them yelling “surprise motherfucker!” Judas reluctantly agreed, if that’s what she thought best. She told him he could talk to the police and she’d hide in the crypt, because she had food down there if she got hungry. Judas did his best to talk to the police and convince them he was but a humble priest who had been hiding when the events transpired.

Seth and Arianne decided to take the van away from the city, but Arianne wanted to stop at The Lone Wolf to fetch her bike so they’d have a mode of transport to get back. They weren’t planning on taking the woman back with them. They discussed going to an industrial area, or Redcliffe Caves. Arianne suggested her flat, but it was above her shop and too public. As they approached The Lone Wolf, they noticed it was closed and there was police tape across the door. Arianne wanted to take the impostor in there, as it was quiet, but Seth thought there might be police lurking. Arianne put her bike in the van then looked through a window but it was too dark to see anything. She kicked the door in. An alarm blared. They legged it to the van and sped away.

As Seth drove, Arianne slapped the unconscious woman until she woke. The woman groggily asked what happened, so Arianne explained she’d thrown a corpse at her, knocking her off the bike. The woman spied the corpses in the van and started freaking out. Arianne demanded to know why she was impersonating Nadia. Apparently, Nadia said she needed her help, but she didn’t know what was going on. She then spied the headless corpse. Arianne “these things happen in a fight. People lose their heads, corpses get thrown. It’s a normal Saturday night in Bristol.” She admitted she sort of knew Nadia, but seemed confused when Arianne asked if she had a blood drop tattoo. She confessed that Nadia had been going around collecting people. A guy had approached her, offering her money, as she was the same height and build as Nadia, so she just had to pretend to be her. She met Nadia at The Lone Wolf.

Arianne asked why was Nadia doing this, why did she want this woman to impersonate her. The woman didn’t know. She needed money and bared enough of a resemblance to Nadia. She was told she would be used to provide an alibi for Nadia. A friend of hers who was on the street knew someone who knew Nadia. She now regretted getting involved. Most people would regret it, after being knocked off a motorbike by a hurled corpse. She just got a call saying they needed her and told her to meet them at the factory. “I was told to get on the motorbike and ride around, make sure I was seen,” the woman said. “I was paid £200.” “I’d ask for more if I were you,” Arianne replied. “You got hit by a corpse. I’d ask for compensation. Can you take us the factory?”

The woman showed her where it was on Google Maps. Arianne knew the area. It was cheap and rundown. The woman revealed that everyone had arranged to meet at the factory on Saturday at sundown. Seth pulled over to the side of the road and Arianne let the woman out. She fled. Seth and Arianne abandoned the van and got on her motorbike. Arianne took him home then drove to her flat above the tattoo parlour.

Judas found the Countess and said the police had gone. “Well done Judas, I knew I could rely on you.” She smiled. He said they may be back as they were still investigating and he told them he was working late on his prayers, heard noises in the church and hid as they hoodies looked dangerous. They thought a gun had been fired in the church so would be back in the day to have a look. Judas assured the Countess he would hide her. She fed him some Skittles and a fly.

Watch Chapter 4 part 1. Chapter 4 part 2. Arianne had headed upstairs. Lighting was dim, hiding the slightly rotten floorboard. Three bikers were playing Pool. Alcoves lined one wall. There were two exits – a balcony smoking area and a fire escape. There was a bar. An old ratty guy with a trench coat and a beard, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Mr Twit, was sat at the bar downing shots. A couple were having sex in one of the alcoves. Arianne sat near the guy at the bar. Then she noticed a guy in a booth next to the stairs. He was tattooing someone. She approached and watched him. He was tattooing a heart bound in flaming chains on a young guy.

Arianne “nice work. I don’t recognise your work. Are you new here?” The guy changed his ink for a different colour. “I know you. You have that tattoo place.” Arianne “yeah. Ink Panther.” He’d been around Bristol for a while. She asked if he normally tattooed in pubs or if he had a parlour. He explained that he got a lot of business from people who don’t want tattoos done officially in shops. She told him that she’d seen a tattoo on several people and didn’t recognise the work. She showed him the photo on her phone of the blood drop tattoo and he confirmed it was his work. A guy who’d had the tattoo had attacked her, so she was trying to trace it. He claimed that was nothing to do with him, but that the people who had it were a mismatched group. They always came in with someone – Nadia. She’d vanished for a bit but had been back a bit more recently. He asked if she was after a tattoo, so she explained that she’d had an altercation with Nadia and needed to find her.

Seth entered the bar and took a seat in an alcove where he could see the doors and Arianne, if she needed help. Arianne asked the tattooist if Nadia was coming in later. He didn’t know. He found it strange that Nadia was always with different people. Loners, mostly. He asked if there was a particular reason she wanted Nadia and he could pass a message on. Arianne said she didn’t want Nadia to know she was looking for her. It was a surprise. The tattooist was suspicious that first Arianne said she had an altercation with her, now she wanted to surprise her. In that place, it didn’t bode well. Arianne confessed that if Nadia knew she was looking for her, it wouldn’t end well. He said that at first when he saw Nadia disappear with a different person every night, he thought ‘good on you’ but now he thought it weird. Arianne told him she thought they were getting the tattoos against their will.

He reckoned that it didn’t seem to be bad for them. There was one guy, Daniel, who was on the streets and had a nasty cough. It sounded like he was going to cough up his guts. He saw him talking to Nadia then a few days later, she brought him in for a tattoo. He had never looked healthier.

Arianne returned to sit by the guy by the bar and discreetly looked to see if he had a blood drop tattoo. His thick coat prevented her from seeing anything. Seth noticed that a hooded figure sat in the shadows of an alcove further down. Seth moved to the bar to keep tabs on him with a view of following him. The guy at the bar finished his bottle of shots. Arianne “fun night?” Barfly “it’ll be more fun if you buy me another one.” Arianne signaled the barman, who looked at her in surprise. She nodded. The barman shrugged and put down another bottle. Arianne grudgingly payed the barman £20. Arianne “do you know Nadia?” Barman “yeah she’s in here all the time. Thought she was in tonight to be honest.” The barman revealed that Nadia was usually with different people. The doorman wasn’t overly picky about the sort of people he let in. Apart from Seth. But if they were with Nadia, then they were accepted. Anyone who was cool with John the Bastard was cool.  Arianne “Where is John?” Barman “Left town, I heard. Don’t give a shit really.” She asked if he’d been tattooed by Nadia. He hadn’t.

Arianne left the bar to see if she could find Nadia. She spied a figure run out of the alcove at the far end and head straight out through the exit door. Arianne immediately gave chase. Seth followed. As Arianne reached the door, a nail embedded itself in the doorframe, right by her face. “Bitch! I thought I hit that fucking gun out of your hand!” As Seth headed for the door, a hoody dived out from the alcove. Seth side-stepped him and he barrelled into the pool table. Arianne gave chase. Nadia leapt off the fire escape. Seth side-stepped again and a blade got stuck in the doorframe. The hoody had recovered. Nadia was now running down the street. Arianne jumped off the fire escape and did a superhero landing. Seth grabbed the hoody and threw him off the fire escape. He hit the building opposite and dropped to the ground. They continued to give chase.

Alessandro and Jezebel decided to go and see Archie. His shop said he was a clothesmaker. Antique clothing from all eras. The shop was shut. Jezebel knocked. There was no answer. She knocked harder. Alessandro peered through the window but couldn’t see anything. Jezebel used her Auspex but her low roll meant she also failed to see anything. Alessandro spotted opening times on the door. He should be open. Jezebel wondered about picking the lock. Archie was scared of something and his shop being closed seemed unusual. She tried to pick the lock and failed. She tried again and as she started fiddling with the lock, she realised it wasn’t actually locked. It swung open. She told Alessandro she had successfully picked the lock. As she tried to use her Auspex to see in the dark, Alessandro flicked the light switch on.

Jezebel crossed through the front of the store, through a beaded curtain. The rear of the store had been trashed. Blood spotted the floor. Jezebel called to Alessandro and he joined her. She dipped her finger in the blood and tasted it. It was Kindred blood. Alessandro readied his shotgun and had a look around. He found something partially hidden under a shelf. It was the Magnum. Blood stained it. He grabbed a cloth, retrieved the gun and cleaned it before pocketing it. They had a look around. Alessandro noticed some blood spatter was in one direction and quite dry, whereas Jezebel spotted blood in a different area. It seemed to come from someone else. It had an element of Kindred blood to it. Ghoul blood perhaps? Alessandro had a bad feeling. It seemed they’d taken Archie. He suspected their target was trying to raise an army of ghouls. Jezebel lamented her need for an army of ghouls but her old parishioners would probably break a lot of hips.

Alessandro examined the computer. It wasn’t password protected but it was a mess, trying to boot up several things at once, including a few virus scanners and old programmes. He managed to find the accounting files. The Magnum was a recent purchase.  He managed to access Archie’s email. One was to Milo, asking how soon he can have the item he wished to purchase. He stressed that he was nervous. There was also an email to the council, complaining about hoodies always lurking outside his shop. Alessandro wondered if Archie had been taken in Lenny’s place. He said they needed to tell Tyrone. They headed out. Jezebel stole a fancy black Gothic dress on her way out.

Back to the chase scene. As Arianne rounded the corner, she came to an alley. Nadia was at the far end, unscrewing the cap of a water bottle. Arianne readied her bat. Nadia threw the bottle at Arianne. The liquid spilled out as Arianne ran towards it. She paused and struck at it with her bat. She hit it, sending the bottle careering back towards Nadia. It struck the wall and burst. The contents weren’t water, it was petrol. Nadia was pulling something from her pocket. Arianne grabbed a knife from her coat and threw it. It embedded in Nadia’s thigh. Seth drew his gun and shot her, knocking her down. She still had hold of the lighter. Arianne ran at her and tried to kick the lighter out of Nadia’s hand. She failed but managed to jump over her and run. She did get singed in the process as Nadia ignited the lighter and went up in flames.

Seth ran through the fire then dived on Nadia with his coat to put out the flames. He succeeded. Now she was pinned down, Arianne grabbed the hand that was reaching inside her jacket. She had a Taser. Arianne stole it and tasered Nadia until she fell unconscious. They picked her up and called a taxi, pretending she was drunk. They messaged the others to say they were taking Nadia to the church. Alessandro and Jezebel were already heading there to drop their weapons off.

Arianne’s herd reported that while they didn’t know who was doing the blood drop tattoo, they’d heard of rumours of someone doing a symbol. Meanwhile, Seth was integrating himself with the homeless. He learned that some of them were being offered the chance to improve themselves. He decided to offer himself up as a target, using his ex military persona to pretend to be homeless. He noticed someone watching him but when he approached them, they vanished. The next night, he heard his name come up in general conversation. He got the sense that he was gradually being accepted and believed. Watch Chapter 4 part one.

The following night, everyone was summoned to The Eclipse. Alessandro arrived first to find Tyrone waiting. Jezebel had finally got herself some transport – a hobby horse called Jonathan Harker. Arianne patted the horse on her way to get a drink and head upstairs. Seth stood in the doorway, in his usual bouncer pose. Tyrone greeted them all and asked where Jezebel was. Arianne “she’s stabling her horse.” Tyrone was uncharacteristically speechless. “I think she’s been raiding the collection plate and has bought herself a hobby horse.”

At the bar, the barman stared incredulously at Jezebel. “All inns have stables, I don’t understand why you don’t.” Barman “did Seth put you up to this?” Jezebel. “No. Jonathan Harker needs a stable.” The barman offered to stable it behind the bar, so Jezebel agreed and warned him not to walk behind Jonathan Harker or he’d kick him. The barman tossed the hobby horse behind the bar. Jezebel was horrified and went upstairs to join the others.

Tyrone explained he’d summoned them to find out what they’d learned. Arianne revealed that nobody knows who is doing the tattoo, but whoever gets them, disappears. She believes that they are the ones being turned into the mindless attackers. She told Tyrone that she’d had to almost kick someone’s head and had ruined her boot, so she hoped Matilda would replace it. Tyrone told her to keep hoping. He asked Seth for updates. Seth “you seem to know what we’ve been doing, so how about you tell me what I’ve found out.” He then said there was definitely someone taking or recruiting the homeless.

Tyrone asked what they knew about John the Bastard, so Arianne summed it up. They knew he and his ghouls were attacked and he was killed. There was also a scandal about his illegitimate child. A kindred had been sent to kill him because he wasn’t happy about Matilda taking over his turf. Tyrone reckoned that Bristol was free to take and John the Bastard didn’t want to pledge his loyalty to his rightful prince. One of his ghouls, Nadia Bishop, is the one who killed Toshiko. Tyrone explained that ghouls see to the day to day running of business for their kindred and if Nadia wanted to cause trouble, she’d have to up her game. He was concerned she was planning something and wanted them to find out what it was. He also wanted to know the significance of the blood drop. Arianne asked if he knew where Nadia was. He didn’t, but she was often seen at Full Metal. John the Bastard’s old haunt was burned to the ground, but he often frequented a rough bar in Southmead called The Lone Wolf. He’s also heard that someone was buying weapons from a dealer in St Nick’s market.

He asked if they had any more questions. Jezebel requested he build stables out the back. He told her she was fecking loopy. Insulted, she reminded him that all inns used to have them and not having them was like not having beer. Arianne suggested they turn a storeroom into stables.

Arianne figured she’d be best going to the weapons shop, as she has weapons and likely bought them from there, so would fit in. Jezebel suggested she’d be better going to The Lone Wolf, as it’s a dive and Arianne’s a thug so she’d fit in. Jezebel reckoned that she’d stick out in her ballgown. Arianne knew that the weapons shop was called Quartermasters and it sold replica weapons and old clothing by day, but at night it had a sideline in genuine weapons. Tyrone asked if there was anything else they wanted to tell him, so Jezebel admitted Judas had been attacked. Tyrone “You’re doing an alright job so far.” Arianne “Is that praise? Are you alright? Are you sickening for something?” He was impressed they hadn’t died. Arianne reckoned she’d be pretty hard to kill. He asked if there was anything else. Arianne “Are you free Saturday night?” Tyrone said to ask again if they survived. He winked at Arianne then left.

They discussed who was going where. It was decided Arianne and Seth would fit in better at the Lone Wolf. Jezebel “I might go to Full Metal. Kaitlyn liked me.” Arianne “No she didn’t.” Jezebel and Alessandro decided to go to the weapons shop.

At St Nick’s, they encountered the eye patch wearing doorman. Jezebel asked if he was a pirate and where was his parrot. He shook his head. She said it was false advertising. He lifted his eye patch to reveal the healed over empty eye socket. She peered closely at it. He opened the door. Jezebel “aye aye Captain.” She saluted as she passed. They spotted Quartmasters, the weapons store. Jezebel rode Jonathan Harker over. In the window were mannequins. One wore a very old military uniform and the other wore a Victorian red lace dress. There were also swords. Jezebel dismounted and led her hobby horse inside.

All the weapons inside seemed to be replica, film memorabilia and decommissioned weapons. A man appeared. Jezebel asked him how much was the dress. Him “More than you can afford.” Jezebel “I’m a Countess. You don’t know what I can afford.” He checked his books. “£500.” Jezebel “I haven’t got any money on me so can I borrow it and bring you the money back?” He refused. Alessandro eyed Jezebel’s shredded dress and handed over his family’s credit card. Jezebel headed over to the dress and managed to climb into the window display and take the dress off the mannequin without knocking anything over. Alessandro explained they were looking for ‘hardware’. The owner, Milo, started showing him film replicas. Alessandro said “Something a little bit harder.” Milo”I need to know you’re not…” Alessandro “We’re not.” Jezebel “We’re not what?”

Alessandro explained they were having problems with someone who was better equipped than they were and they wanted to even the score. Milo suggested they go to the police. Alessandro said if the police had done something about it, they wouldn’t need weapons. Alessandro’s poor explanation convinced Milo he wasn’t police and he relented. Alessandro “I’m assuming you know what we are.” Milo “trying my patience, apparently. I don’t know what gang you’re part of. I don’t ask any questions, I don’t answer any questions.” Jezebel asked if anyone had been buying weapons, because someone had attacked her priest. Milo was confused as to why a countess had a priest, so she explained that she wanted a church and he came with the church. Milo turned to Alessandro “is she…?” he twirled his fingers by his head. Alessandro “yes.”

Alessandro then gave Milo a name – John the Bastard. Milo laughed. “I heard he left town.” Alessandro “he did. His guys didn’t.” Milo then admitted that a group of hoodies had been in recently buying real swords that could take someone’s head off. Jezebel asked if they’d left names, but they hadn’t. She wondered how they paid for them, as their choice of apparel indicated they didn’t have a lot of money. They paid cash. Alessandro offered a deal – if he helped them find the hoodies, he would receive more money from Alessandro than he did from them. Milo didn’t need any more money, but did give them a name – Archie. He owned the clothing store where Milo got the dress Jezebel was now wearing. Archie had been in a few days ago, buying a Magnum for protection. Jezebel “how can an ice cream protect people?”

Milo was still suspicious of them. Alessandro said he wanted weaponry and information. Weaponry of the gun variety. Milo said Archie had his last Magnum. Jezebel requested a Morning Star. Milo brought out a Mace. It was lined with silver and cost £1000. Jezebel sighed and tutted at the expense. Alessandro decided their lack of weaponry – Jezebel having a candlestick and nothing else – warranted the expenses being put on his family’s credit card. He purchased a shotgun and shells as well as the Mace. Two thousand pounds later, Milo revealed there were murmurings of potential trouble brewing. He asked to be kept out and said if they really wanted the Magnum, to speak to Archie, but due to his jittery state, he’d be unlikely to let it go. Jezebel “We’ve got a Morning Star now, he’ll let go.”

Meanwhile Seth overheard some people talking. A friend of a friend of one of these people mentioned someone disappearing and also mentioned the Lone Wolf. Seth continued on. A tall, intense staring guy was guarding the door. Arianne was waiting outside. Seth told her what he’d learned and suggested they didn’t start a fight immediately. They approached the door. The guy blocked it. Seth “Is it busy here tonight?” Doorman “I haven’t seen you here before.” Arianne “New to the area.” Doorman “Then you probably want to find somewhere different.” Arianne “No, we’re good here, thanks.” The doorman wasn’t convinced so Arianne used her Presence, which turned people to her point of view. It worked and he let her in. But not Seth. Seth said someone at the Eclipse recommended the Lone Wolf. Doorman “Who at the Eclipse would recommend us? They’re all a bunch of wankers.” Seth “Just let us in.” Doorman “I’m letting her in. You look like you don’t belong here.”

Seth walked off and put his jacket on the ground. “Right, let’s have you.” The doorman clicked his neck, cracked his knuckles and rapidly threw a punch. Seth successfully dodged out of the way. Arianne drew her bat but Seth shook his head. She paused. Seth “I’m going to give you three swings, then I’m going to kill you.” Arianne slipped into the pub. The doorman threw another punch. Seth dodged it. The doorman tried again but this time he hit Seth. Seth “You’ve got one shot left.” The doorman “I haven’t got time for this shit. You’re not getting in the pub. Any more trouble for you and I’ll get more people involved.” He turned and started walking back to the door.

Seth pulled him around. “I’m being generous. Take your third shot or let me in.” He took the third shot. And missed. Badly. Seth used his momentum against him to push him to the ground. There was a crunch as his wrist snapped. Seth broke his other wrist then lifted him by the collar as he crouched beside him. “This is really embarrassing. I said I’d kill you and you’ve made me out to be a liar. I’ll let that go if you let me into the club.” Doorman “Fuck off.” Seth “If the other people come out, I’ll do the same to them and make you watch and then I’ll kill you.” He put his jacket back on and headed into the pub while the battered doorman laughed hysterically.

To be continued…

 

As Judas’s photo was among the ghoul hit list, everyone arranged to meet at the church to discuss a plan of action. Watch Chapter 3. Jezebel stood outside with a collection plate, ready to receive their entrance fees. “Pay for Jesus or you’re not coming in.” Arianne refused. Seth told her Jesus wasn’t their god, so Jezebel explained the parishioners hadn’t been overly generous on Sunday and she needed money. She patted Arianne down, who threatened to use her bat on her, or pull out her hair. Brujahs aren’t the most co-operative of Vampires. Arianne then donated some Skittles. Jezebel decided to use them to treat Judas when he does good. Alessandro arrived with his Lasombra friend, Rose, and tried to sneak past. Jezebel put her arm out to stop them. Alessandro tried to step around her, so Jezebel tripped him. Rose found a £1 coin and paid their entry.

Once everyone was inside, Jezebel summoned to Judas to say “we are all gathered here today.” She tossed him a Skittle and dismissed him. The plan was to use Judas as bait. Seth thought they should use their various skills to keep an eye on Judas as he goes about his routines. Jezebel assumed they’d tie him to a cross and leave him dangling somewhere. Seth liked the idea, especially if Judas was injured in some way. Arianne pointed out that Judas would then know he was bait. Jezebel said she wouldn’t tell him why he was tied to the cross, but then worried he might be eaten by crows. She didn’t want her beloved pet hurt.

Rose asked if Jezebel would mind if Judas was taken. She said she could just get a new one. Rose thought it would be better to get him to run an errand then wait for him and watch. Alessandro pointed out that they could be waiting in the church all night but wouldn’t get a lead until anyone actually came for him. If they did know where he was, Jezebel could be in danger. Arianne suggested they find the other ghouls and each watch one, as they didn’t know when they’d be coming for Judas, or if they had their own order of which ghouls they were taking. All the ghouls had been taken from their homes, so it was more likely they would come to the church for him. Seth suggested Jezebel followed Judas but use her obfuscate power so nobody would see her.

Seth decided to hide in the rafters, Arianne hid in the confessional, Rose went to hide in the graveyard near the back door, Alessandro went to sit in Rose’s van with a view of the church. He checked to make sure they all had mobile phones. The DM questioned if Jezebel would so made her roll for it. At the moment, she hasn’t lost it. At 10 p.m., the police drove up and tapped on the van’s window. They’d had reports of suspicious looking characters in the area. He asked why Alessandro had been sat outside the church for the past hour. Alessandro told him his wife had kicked him out and he was collecting his thoughts before finding a hotel. “I’ve got the suit on my back and the van I’m in.” The officer was dubious, seeing how expensive Alessandro’s suit was and told him to move along.

Alessandro asked where the cheapest hotel was. The officer directed him to the station. Alessandro said he’d get himself together then head there. He texted the others saying he had to move the van. Rose replied saying she would move the van. As Rose was heading to the van, she spotted something moving by the woodlands around the church. She hid and let Alessandro move the van. Then she noticed someone wearing a hoody slip around the corner along the side of the church. She texted everyone to alert them.

Arianne’s phone bleeped in the confessional. Judas poked his head in and asked if everything was ok. Arianne “I’m…making my peace with God.” He asked if she’d like to make a confession. She agreed. He sat in the other side. “What is it, my child?” Arianne “I killed a man last night.” Judas “That is a grave sin indeed. And you wish to be forgiven for this?” Arianne “Well, no. To be fair, he grabbed my arse. So I gutted him and put him in a dumpster.” He asked if she’d like to be forgiven. She felt she should be as he’d molested other women. “I got rid of a sinner. I was doing God’s work. Saint’s work.” He forgave her then got distracted by an insect and ate it. Then he heard a noise and wandered off.

Outside, Rose spotted the hoody heading for the gate. Alessandro was completely oblivious. Rose wondered if the hoody was going to piss on the church. She watched him. He appeared to be watching the church. At 11, the hoody slipped into the graveyard. Alessandro texted everyone “Get ready.” Arianne readied her bat. Jezebel replied “what shall I wear?” She’d borrowed Judas’s ceremonial robes as Mabel was fixing her dress. A glass bottle smashed not too far away from Rose and Alessandro. Two seventeen year olds, drunk on cider, staggered into view.

Inside the church, Jezebel heard the commotion. She knocked on the confessional door. “Punky fish! There are people outside. I’m hungry.” They headed for the door. Seth texted them: ‘Stop :(‘ Alessandro put his arms around the teenagers, used Dominate and told them to go with him. He steered them towards the church. Jezebel ran out, grabbed one of the boys, dragged him into the church and started drinking from him. The other boy started to react so Arianne struck him across the face with her bat. A little bit too hard. His nose shattered. Blood spurted out, spattering Alessandro’s suit. Arianne licked the blood off her victim. Alessandro “I bring you food! And you do this.” Alessandro dragged him into the church and also fed off him. Arianne then hauled the body into the confessional.

Arianne then noticed Judas was missing. She yelled to the Countess, who went to look for Judas. Seth noticed the back door was now open. Jezebel ran down the aisle, tripped over her robes and face planted, smacking her face on a pew. Arianne leapt over her and kept running, Seth close behind. Arianne burst into a large room. There were cupboards, a drum kit and other musical instruments, no doubt used for getting the young ones hooked on Jesus. There were also fuzzy toy bats. Alessandro also ran down the aisle and managed not to trip over the sprawled out Countess.

Someone in a hoody approached Arianne, wielding a large wooden cross. He swung it at her. Seth pulled her out of the way so the hoody, unbalanced by his target being snatched away, face planted. Arianne retaliated by kicking him in the face. Hard. So hard that his head whipped back and his neck snapped. Arianne “I did it guys. We’ll have no more trouble from him.” She then whipped his hood off to see who she’d killed. Although Seth was pissed off at the turn of events, he claimed the hoody as his meal. Alessandro checked to make sure there was nobody else in the room. Meanwhile, Jezebel finally got up from the floor and yelled for Judas. The hoody was a 20 year old man with a shaved head and multiple piercings, but Arianne didn’t recognise him. She and Alessandro tried to search him while Seth was feeding but neither of them found any ID. Arianne took a photo of his face to show Tyrone.

Rose ran in through the back door and managed to avoid tripping over something that was lying in the corridor. She stopped to examine the object and found an unconscious Judas. She shouted to Jezebel that she’d found him. Jezebel ran into the corridor and saw Rose crouched over Judas’s crumpled body. Jezebel “get away from, evil!” Rose “I got him.” Jezebel “you’d better not have drunk him.” She rushed over, crouched protectively over Judas and growled at Rose. She licked Judas’s wound, healing it then fed him a drop of her blood to wake him. Judas woke and stared up at her. Judas “you look like an angel. Have I died and gone to the great beyond?” Jezebel “no, but I’m your guardian angel.” She put a Pringle in his mouth. She gives him blood with a communion glass and the Pringle is the communion wafer.

Seth threw the body at Arianne. “Not much use now, is it?” Arianne searched the body again for distinguishing marks and found a small blood drop tattooed on his wrist. She guessed that meant he belonged to someone – she tattoos her herd – but it wasn’t her work. She summoned Jezebel to use her auspex to determine whether he was a ghoul. Jezebel took a deep sniff and confirmed he was a ghoul. Jezebel “did we kill someone we were supposed to be protecting?” Arianne “he broke into your church. And he hurt Judas.” Jezebel “that’s true. I’m glad you killed him. We should string him outside for the crows.” Arianne “as a warning to the others?” Judas said that whilst it was a wonderful idea, when the parishioners arrived on Sunday, a hanging corpse might be a bit difficult to explain. He offered to put the corpse in the crypt with the rats. Jezebel agreed.

Alessandro “wait. He might have secrets.” Jezebel “should we shake his secrets out of him? Do we need to cut him open and search for secrets?” Alessandro “that’s what I intend to do.” Alessandro used his necromancy power of Witness of Death to see if the corpse’s ghost was still around. It was still loitering but was beginning to disappear. Alessandro put his hand on the body and pulled his soul back to question him. He demanded to know the ghoul’s name, but all the ghost said was “Nadia.” Alessandro asked who was next on the list. Ghost “all.” Alessandro asked why were they doing this. The ghost replied with one name: “Nadia.” And she wanted revenge for someone being hunted and killed. Alessandro asked where Nadia was. All the ghost would say was “Lone Wolf.” The ghost was sent to the church for Judas. “All will burn.” Jezebel “Judas is harmless. All he does is preaches and eat flies.” Arianne reckoned they were targeting ghouls to punish the Kindred. The ghost revealed the blood drop tattoo was something to do with an army.

Alessandro asked the ghost where they met up. “The Lone Wolf,” was his answer. He said he lived on the streets in Southmead and his name was Ben Smith. Alessandro’s head started to hurt badly from the strain of using blood points to keep the ghost on this earth. He became dizzy and the ghost disappeared. Arianne sent the photo to Tyrone and told him what had happened. Jezebel summoned Judas to take the body to the crypt. He whistled ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ as he worked. He then put the two teenagers in the local park. It’s his usual dumping place for the people Jezebel drinks from. Jezebel fed him more Skittles as a reward. Seth suggested that they start interviewing the homeless to see if they know anything. Arianne wondered about asking tattoo artists if they’d been doing blood drop tattoos recently. Alessandro wanted to speak to Caitlyn at Full Metal. Jezebel decided to stay and keep an eye on Judas just in case more ghouls return.

At the end of Chapter 2 part 1 Jezebel struck one of the men in the apartment. Watch Chapter 2 part 2. Seth took time out to heal so Jezebel decided to pull the man’s balaclava off. She failed. She followed it up with a strike to the head with her candlestick. He retaliated by attacking her with his knife, which luckily just ripped the front of her dress, much to her fury. She whacked him on the head so hard, he crumpled to the floor in a bloody heap, his jaw practically hanging off. Jezebel “Teach you for ruining my dress.” She leaned down and moved his jaw while saying “I’m sorry Countess.” Seth decided to drink from the battered body. Jezebel joined in, taking a sip from the other one.

Arianne and Alessandro headed for the pub. Alessandro loitered at the bar having a drink while Arianne went to introduce herself to the sleazy casting agent. As she started talking, he put his arm around her. She told him she was an actress new to the area and was looking for work. He boasted about work he’d cast people in and said if she cleaned herself up, she could get a part. She had to stop herself punching him. He stroked her face, much to her disgust. She suggested they talk outside. As she followed him out, she beckoned to Alessandro and slipped her knife out from her sleeve. The casting agent grabbed her arse then when they were outside and put his arms around her from behind. She drove her knife backwards into him, stabbing him in the stomach. Brujah are known for their ‘kill first, ask questions later’ technique. She kicked him off her blade and stabbed him again. He collapsed in a pool of his own blood. She photographed his corpse to prove to Tatiana she had killed him.

Alessandro “You’ve made a lot of mess here.” They threw him into a nearby dumpster. An arc of blood spurted out, all over Alessandro’s nice clean suit. They returned to the shop. Alessandro stayed hidden while Arianne found Tatiana and showed her the photo. She also paid the £200 fee for information. Tatiana revealed a bigshot called John the Bastard used to be in control of Bristol and would stomp on anyone who got in his way. Then Matilda showed up, claiming the area for her own. Officially, John and his supporters were attacked and killed. But one ghoul escaped. Her description matched the ghoul who’d killed Toshiko. She looked round nervously then left.

Arianne deleted the photo from her phone then beckoned Alessandro down an alleyway and relayed the information. Arianne was suspicious about John the Bastard’s death, wondering if he faked his own death or hired a stand in who died in his place.

Jezebel and Seth finished their feast then Seth decided to have a shower to clean the blood off him. Jezebel had a look around and wandered into a study that had sporting certificates and medals on the walls. There were some papers, but her low investigation and perception roll meant she didn’t deem there to be anything of importance in the room, though it could do with more cobwebs. In the living room were just generic photos. It looked like the kind of place where the owner was away a lot. Seth finished his shower and investigated the bedroom. Under the bed he found a large box filled with porn magazines from the 70s and 80s. Seth decided a thorough investigation of the porn mags was required and unearthed a folder, a wad of £100 notes and a cooler bag.

Seth looked in the folder and found a lot of photos taken as though the subject was being followed. He immediately recognised Melissa. There were also photos of Toshiko and a large, white haired vampire with an eye patch. The cooler bag contained an IV bag of blood. He put the blood back in the cooler bag and hid the photos in a magazine. He returned to the living room and told Jezebel to find something to wear, as her ripped dress was very distracting. Jezebel went into the bedroom and rummaged in the wardrobe, but only found dull grey business suits. Dismayed that they didn’t go with her dress, she donned a jacket.

Seth decided to check the study, as he didn’t believe Jezebel when she said it was boring. He found papers that appeared to be bills and itineraries. It appeared the man who lived there – Jack Holmes – was some sort of investigator. He found an old computer and while it was booting up, checked out the certificates on the wall. One was for shooting and rifles. Jezebel stole two medals. She felt she deserved them for crippling the intruders. Seth and Jezebel both failed to enter the correct password to access the computer. They tried again but without success so elected to head out, Jezebel jangling as she walked.

Arianne phoned Jezebel to share information. Jezebel fished the phone out of the top of her dress. Arianne relayed the information she had learned while Jezebel informed her she got two gold medals for killing two people. She passed the phone to Seth who arranged to meet back up, as he didn’t trust the phones not to be bugged. Seth then decided to blow up the apartment to cover up evidence of them being there. Jezebel followed him out. He hit the fire alarm as they left. Just because he’s a vampire, doesn’t mean he’s a heartless monster.

They regrouped in an area populated by students. Seth showed Alessandro the folder containing 80s porn mags. Seth “Check out the centrefold.” Arianne “Is this all you got? Were you just robbing medals and porn mags? Did you find anything useful?” In the centrefold were photos of ghouls – Lenny, Tatiana, the guy with the eye patch and Judas. Arianne suggested they return to the market to warn Tatiana and the eye patch man that they were targets. From the looks of the photos, the apartment owner was either investigating them or hunting them. Alessandro suggested contacting Tyrone. Seth was against it, on the account of Tyrone being a dick.

They decided to go and speak to the man with the eye patch at the market. He gave a little wave to Arianne so she went over and explained they’d found his photo among photos of ghouls who had been killed or were in hiding. She asked if he knew any of them. He shrugged and indicated to the door. Alessandro suggested giving him something to write on, Arianne had paper and a pen with her. The doorman said everyone comes through the market. She said they think it’s a hit list and asked if there was anyone who would want to kill him. He laughed and shook his head. He gave her a business card that said Big Guy with an email address.

Arianne went back to the group and said he didn’t know why he’d be on a hit list. Jezebel “Probably because he’s a pirate.” Arianne “He’s not a pirate.” Jezebel “He has an eye patch.” Arianne “He doesn’t have a parrot.” Jezebel “He’s not on his ship. The law is always after pirates. I’d better hide my medals.” Tyrone rang to see if they’d found out anything.

Jezebel had a look at the photos and was horrified to see Judas among them. She wanted to head back to the church to make sure he was ok. She knew he’d be there as he’s not allowed to leave. They all arrived at the 17th c grey stone church. Arianne “You live here? How did you afford it?” Jezebel “I just took it. Judas was alone and I convinced him to be my ghoul in exchange for me not killing him. He lets me snack on his parishioners when I get hungry. They keep it clean, they fix my dress and Mabel does the flowers every Friday. If I need money, Judas sends round a collection plate.”

Judas beamed when he saw Jezebel and shuffled over, bowing. Jezebel “Judas! You’re ok!” Judas asked who her friends were. Jezebel “Punk girl, suit man and animal man. I can’t remember their names. Has anyone tried to kill you? Apart from me.” Judas said no then became distracted by a fly buzzing around his head. He caught it and ate it. Jezebel disappeared to remove her dress and leave a note to Mabel to fix it. Seth questioned Judas to see if anyone would want to kill him. Arianne asked if he’d had any dealings with altar boys. Jezebel said Judas wasn’t allowed fun. Arianne asked if he’d heard anything interesting in confession. He revealed 90 year old Mabel is having an affair with her 75 year old neighbour. Arianne wondered if Mabel was after Judas to stop him revealing her secret. Seth doubted Mabel would be a ghoul serial killer.

Arianne asked if any ghouls had come to confession. They had. Toshiko. She told Judas she was trying to find out about a lie. Something to do with an illegitimate child of someone called John. John the Bastard perhaps. Judas “I don’t know if John had a bastard or was a bastard. I didn’t really listen. I had a sleep. It’s very comfy in there.” He wandered off to clean the rectory. Alessandro said Kindred can’t have children in the traditional sense. Seth wondered whether Judas heard the name ‘John the Bastard’ and presumed it’s an illegitimate child. Ghouls of Malkavians inherit some of their madness and Judas didn’t seem like he had all his coins in his collection plate.

Alessandro suggested they inform Tyrone of developments because Matilda had the manpower to protect the ghouls on the list. Seth wanted to use Judas as bait. Jezebel was worried he would hurt and she’d lose her church. She decided to ask the gargoyles for advice. She failed her roll. The gargoyles were asleep. Seth said they could give the information to Tyrone but remove Judas’s photo so they could also do the bait plan.

Will Seth’s plan work? Will Judas Priest die? Or will the team reveal themselves to be superheroes with fangs?

A few nights later, we were all summoned back to the Eclipse. Watch chapter 2. Jezebel was the first to arrive. Tyrone was not pleased at them being late and wouldn’t accept Jezebel’s argument that being first meant she was early. Jezebel “Judas Priest was misbehaving. I had to lock him in somewhere. It took a while because he struggled.” Tyrone was not surprised a Malkavian would have a ghoul. Tyrone “let’s just wait for the others. Preferably in silence.” Jezebel was thirsty and asked if she could drink from him. He refused, as the Prince, Matilda, would not be happy about it. Jezebel reckoned that a Countess was more powerful than a Prince, especially if she killed the Prince. Tyrone reminded her Matilda could have Jezebel’s church bulldozed to the ground. Horrified, Jezebel deemed that harsh.

Arianne arrive to find Tyrone looking increasingly fed up at being stuck with the Malkavian. Arianne demanded to know why they had been summoned, so Tyrone explained it was to let them know they’d followed up on the information and to give them a new task. Arianne “do I get a reward for being the only one who actually did any decent fighting?” Tyrone informed her the reward was being given another job. Arianne didn’t think it was good enough and said she’d settle for a gift voucher. Tyrone relented and claimed he’d send her a fruit basket.

When Alessandro arrived, Tyrone revealed why he’d summoned them all. After their antics, it was decided that they needed someone with a cooler head, who wasn’t only out for their own family. The new member of their team, Seth, was a barman at the Eclipse and was ex-military. Tyrone “these are the newbies?” Seth “the B-Team?”

Whoever murdered Toshiko has now murdered another ghoul, Melissa, who Seth was involved with. Matilda is growing concerned. Tyrone reminded them about the information they found about Toshiko’s meeting at St Nicolas Market. There was also an address that needed checking out. He gave the information Seth, as he deemed him the only competent member of the team. Tyrone “any questions?” Jezebel “can I have a mode of transport? I was thinking of a horse and carriage.” Tyrone “no.” Alessandro asked after Lenny, the Nosferatu they rescued. Tyrone said he was recovering and sends his thanks. Jezebel thought he should give them an apology for trying to kill them. Arianne reminded her they did beat him to a pulp and stake him, but Jezebel thought that was deserved.

Tyrone revealed that Lenny had provided the address he’d been imprisoned at. He’d been expecting to meet a Ventrue who never showed. He was heavily drugged by tainted blood. Tyrone gave Alessandro a warning – a lot of kindred have long memories and aren’t particularly happy about the Giovanni involvement in the slave trade. Others are intrigued by the business potential. He warned Alessandro to watch his back.

Seth had been given an envelope that had an address that was on the other side of Bristol, and the name of a bookshop, Twilight Bookstore, where Toshiko was due to meet someone called Tatiana. The team decided to split up. Seth wanted to go to the apartment, while Alessandro was happy to go wherever the Malkavian wasn’t. So he teamed up with Arianne to go to St Nicolas’s Market. They travelled on Arianne’s classic Triumph motorbike. A Giovanni in an expensive suit on a motorbike was a sight to behold. Seth ‘borrowed’ a Range Rover off a colleague who hated him.

At the market, Arianne led the way to a side door which was guarded by a hulking figure with an eyepatch. He searched Alessandro then gave Arianne a little salute and let them. St Nicolas’s market is an indoor market with old book store and alternative shops. By night it becomes a haven for Kindred. They entered Twilight book store.  Alessandro kept an eye on people in the shop in case they proved worthy of a future business deal. In the shop, a man with a pointy black beard watched them. Arianne asked him about the meeting. He said people meeting in his shop was nothing to do with him, as long as they bought a book. She grabbed a random book and paid for it. Alessandro meanwhile, was looking for a necromancy book. He reached for a book and managed to bring the stack crashing down.

Seth and Jezebel parked a little way away from the apartment. Jezebel decided to start pressing all the buzzers but Seth grabbed her and pulled her away. Jezebel slapped at him. “I’m a countess, unhand me!” Seth “I’d rather everyone in the building didn’t know we’re here.” Jezebel “They might think it’s a pizza man. We should’ve brought a uniform.” Seth headed around the back with Jezebel doing an elaborate tip toe walk behind him. The door round the back was ajar and appeared to have been messed around it fairly recently. There were scuff marks on the floor, along with large, muddy boot prints.

As they entered, the lights came on. Jezebel “Wow, it’s like magic! How did it know we were here?” They headed for the stairs. Both of them were armed: Seth with a gun and Jezebel with a gold candlestick she’d stolen from the church. On the stairs was another muddy boot print, heading up. Jezebel tiptoed up the stairs and stopped at the top. The door was ajar so she edged it open with the candlestick.

Meanwhile, in the bookshop, Arianne was flicking through a pop-up porn book she’d found while Alessandro found a book on learning Italian, 2nd edition. They noticed a young red haired lady moving shiftily around the books, as though pretending to scan them while looking for someone. Arianne approached her. “Hi, are you here for the meeting?” Tatiana seemed a bit uncertain about her and asked who she was. Arianne introduced herself as Juliet and claimed Toshiko had sent her in her place, as she couldn’t make it. Tatiana became very flustered and couldn’t understand why Toshiko couldn’t make it. She started backing away, demanding to know what was going on. Arianne asked how well she knew Toshiko. Alessandro prepared to chase her if she ran. Tatiana revealed she had information but would’ve give it unless Arianne told her what was going on. Arianne told her that Toshiko was dead and she was sent to investigate it. Tatiana became scared.

Arianne said she’d found another ghoul with Toshiko’s body but the ghoul attacked her and got away. Tatiana noticed Alessandro and started to freak out. She asked Arianne if she knew him. Arianne claimed she didn’t, but he was probably just a pervert and nothing to worry about. Tatiana wasn’t appeased, so Arianne went over to ALessandro. “Psst. Bugger off. She’s sussed you.” Alessandro went to leave the bookstore, but the shopkeeper noticed he hadn’t paid for his book and stopped him. Having made a scene, Alessandro paid for the book and left. Tatiana was grateful Arianne had got rid of him.

Tatiana revealed she was part of a group of kindred who were hunting John the Bastard. She refused to tell Arianne anything else until she did something for her. Arianne then noticed that Tatiana’s makeup was peeling, revealing green skin and she wore contacts. Arianne “who are you?” Tatiana “don’t worry about this, this is my professional face.” Tatiana pulled off her red wig, exposing her bald head. Arianne “what are you?” Tatiana “Nosferatu.” Arianne told her she’d rescued a Nosferatu, Lenny, from the place she found Toshiko’s body and that was he now recovering. Tatiana looked relieved and horrified. Lenny had been missing for months and it was unusual for him not to make contact. As Arianne had helped Lenny, the monetary price was now £200 instead of £500, but she still had to do her a favour: kill someone.

Tatiana used to be an actress before she was turned and wanted Arianne to kill her old casting agent. He exploits, manipulates and molests young actresses. Arianne “I’ll see what I can do.” Tatiana “I want it done now.” She told Arianne the casting agent was currently getting drunk in The Crown. Tatiana would wait in the bookstore for Arianne to return. Arianne headed out to find Alessandro, who was loitering within eye line of the shop, but not so Tatiana would see him. Arianne motioned for him to meet her down an alley. Alessandro waited for her to go then followed. Arianne filled Alessandro in. Alessandro didn’t see a problem getting the money but was uncertain about the casting agent. Arianne wondered if they had a licence to kill. Alessandro agreed that letting him live would be bad for business so they headed to The Crown, formulating a plan.

Meanwhile, in the apartment, Jezebel pushed the door open with her candlestick and paused she she heard something. Seth entered first and noticed a torchlight in the pitch black. Jezebel snuck in behind him then used her obfuscate power to make herself invisible while she stood still. Seth noticed another torchlight in a different room so Jezebel crept towards it. She tripped over a table and both torchlights whipped around onto her. She stayed still, believing she was still invisible. She wasn’t.

Seth ran and slammed into the first man, knocking his torch out of his hand. Jezebel, pumped on adrenaline, successfully ran through the darkness to help. Seth then whacked the man over the head with the torch, dealing a vicious blow. Jezebel struck the man in the balls with her candlestick. Her swing was so powerful, his balls burst and he collapsed in a bloody mess. Seth headed to the other room and used his Eyes of the Beast to make his eyes glow red. Jezebel followed, licking the blood off the candlestick.

As the other man reached for the light switch, Seth punched him. Jezebel moved to be near Seth and went to batter the man with her candlestick. She missed. And hit Seth so hard, she dislocated his shoulder. Whoops. Jezebel “Sorry! My bad!” The lights came on and the opponent looked scared to find Jezebel wielding a candlestick that was dripping with blood…

Having successfully finished our first combat with a suit of armour, the team discussed their next move. Watch session 3.  Crank returned to the servant’s bedroom to inspect the foot lockers by the beds. Oriana wanted to go upstairs. She’s convinced that baby Walter is a demon and if she defeats him, her god will forgive her. Zeddimander tried to dissuade her, as he wasn’t convinced that going upstairs alone was a good idea. She pointed out that she wouldn’t be alone – Dante had agreed to go with her. Sir Andrew can’t climb the stairs without Zeddimander’s ‘sorcery’ so he elected to stay on the second floor. Dante suggested chopping him up and putting him in the dumbwaiter, as that had proved successful with Crank, but Sir Andrew protested that he needed his extremities.

Crank gave Oriana 200 ballbearings so they could drop one down the stairs every five minutes to let the team know they were ok and once they stopped, the team would know they’d died. Or had run out of ballbearings. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, a chill crept up their spines. It was noticeably colder on the stairs. Unusually cold for inside a house. Unless your central heating’s broken, in which case houses get pretty damn cold.

Crank and Zeddimander headed to the servants’ room to investigate the footlockers. Zeddimander opened one. Inside his was half a shoe. The back half. Inside Crank’s was three buttons and a shirt cuff. A very disappointing find. They put the items back then checked out the wardrobe. It contained household uniforms, men’s clothes, which had gold sewn into the hems and were all repaired at the knees and elbows. Zeddimander suggested Crank wear a jacket as a cape but he was worried Sir Andrew would stand on it.

Sir Andrew and Desdemona entered another room. Gossamer drapes covered the windows. A brass-plated chandelier hung from the ceiling. Upholstered chairs lined the walls and beautiful stained glass wall hangings depicted beautiful men, women and children singing and playing instruments. A harpsichord with a bench stood in one corner. A large harp stood near the fireplace and alabaster figurines of dancers adorned the mantlepiece. Sir Andrew opened the harpsichord and had a look inside. There was nothing of interest. So he sat on the bench and started to play. Dante sent his skeleton hand in to join in the jaunty melody. Zeddimander cast Minor Illusion to make birds dance on the harpsichord. Sir Andrew “Dance for me, birds.” Crank lit a candle on it.

Suddenly, the birds disappeared and the harpischord lid slammed shut. From a shadows, a voice spoke. “My, my, my. Such festivities.” Sir Andrew “Thank you.” Voice “You are of course, most welcome in Barovia, friends. I hope you will have a most…pleasant stay.” Zeddimander used Minor Illusion to create a lantern in the corners to find the voice. It revealed nothing. Voice “I hope you continue to be this jolly as you pass through the rest of Barovia. For now, have fun.” Sir Andrew “Thank you, nice man.” Voice “And I do indeed hope that I get to see each of you again.” Sir Andrew “Before you go, introduce with name please. Is only polite.” The voice didn’t respond. Sir Andrew “Asshole.” The voice grew louder. “You will refrain from speaking about myself and the others in my care that way, half being.” Sir Andrew gasped. Dante “He’s dissing your mother.”

Oriana, Dante and Elena headed up the stairs. Elena was determined to stop any harm coming to the baby. With every step, the house got colder. Dante and Oriana were oblivious to anything except the cold. Elena could hear a baby crying. Her heart and ovaries melted. She asked the others if they could hear it. Dante “If it’s anything like those creepy kids, I’m going to pull my crossbow on it.” They reached the landing. The balcony overlooked the floor below. A suit of black plated armour with a bear helm stood in front of them. Cobwebs veiled it. Oil lamps were mounted on the oak paneled walls, which were carved with trees, falling leaves and tiny critters.

As Oriana moved to pass the armour, she heard a familiar rattle. The armour was alive. Its spear dropped down and it turned to look at Elena. It missed. It then rotated slowly to look at Oriana. Oriana “Bring it, bitch.” She readied her shield. Its spear crashed down onto her shield. Then it turned to Dante. Dante cast Dissonant Whispers. He whispered and the painful words resonated through the armour. There was no outward sign but inside, it was screaming in pain. It staggered backwards. Elena attacked it with her mace but the armour hit it away. She shouted for help. Crank “They didn’t throw any ballbearings down! They must be in big trouble.” He and Desdemona rushed to help. Oriana moved closer to the armour and struck it hard with her mace.

The armour, pissed off at being attacked, looked away from Elena and again attacked her with its spear. Again, it reflected off her shield. Dante cast his reaction spell, hellish rebuke. Fire shot out from Dante, down his arms and out through his hands, surrounding the suit of armour. Dante, “burn, bitch!” Unfortunately, the armour’s dexterity save meant it only took half the amount of damage.As the armour raised its spear to attack Dante, Oriana cast her protection spell, giving the amour disadvantage. The armour rotated then smashed its spear into Dante’s side, dealing him 6 points of damage. Elena hit it with her mace and this time, was successful. Oriana swung her mace again, but this time, it skimmed past the armour. The armour cackled. Oriana raised her middle finger. “Swivel on it.”

Desdemona and Crank appeared at the top of the stairs. At seeing more people, the armour switched from being upright and proud, to slumping slightly. It raised its spear above its head and brought it down on Elena’s head. Oriana cast protection again, which saved Elena’s life, so despite the hit of 22, she only took one point of damage. Crank crouched, aimed his hand crossbow through everyone’s legs and fired. The bolt passed through everyone’s legs. Including the armour’s. Dante cast Chill Touch, sending his skeleton hand to the armour. He succeeded and the hand grabbed the armour, covering it in spectral frost. It jolted and slumped into an odd position. Desdemona cast Ray of Frost. She shouted for everyone to duck and threw her hand forwards. A white blur flew from her hand, straight into the armour. It shivered and vibrated then dropped, crumbling into ashes. Oriana “flag planter.”

Downstairs, Sir Andrew and Zeddimander noticed that the figurines of dancers were actually well-dressed skeletons. They moved to another room. Red velvet curtains covered the windows. A mahogany desk and matching chair faced the entrance. Above the fireplace was a picture of a windmill. Two armchairs flanked it and a ceiling-high book case with a rolling ladder lined the wall. Sir Andrew noticed the windmill matched his swords so he held his swords up to the picture. The badly tied knots undid and the sword fell back, hitting the desk. The drawer popped open. The desk drawer was empty except for an iron key. On top of the desk was an oil lamp, quill, jar of ink, tinderbox and a letter kit containing a red wax candle. And four sheets of parchment with a sword sticking out of them. There was also a wooden seal with the windmill crest.

Sir Andrew wedged his large frame into the mahogany chair. Zeddimander examined the bookshelves. As he touched the books, he heard a click. Part of the bookcase sprung open, revealing a secret room. He found a book written by someone called Volathan. It had a stone giant on the front and was illustrated inside with tables of numbers and pictures, including a beautiful illustration of a froghemoth. He gave it to Sir Andrew. The secret room contained bookshelves and a heavy wooden chest with iron feet. Its lid was half closed. A skeleton wearing leather armour stuck out of the chest, clutching something in its left hand. Three darts were lodged in the skeleton’s chest. Inside the chest was a mechanism.

Zeddimander took what was in the skeleton’s hand. It was a letter with fine penmanship. My most patient servant. I am not a messiah sent to you by the dark powers of this land. I have not come to lead you on a path to your immortality, however many souls you have bled on your hidden altar, however many visitors you have tortured in your dungeon. Know that you are not the ones who brought me to this beautiful land. You are but worms, writhing in my earth. You say that you are cursed, your fortune spent. You abandoned love for madness, took solace in the bosom of another woman and sired a stillborn son. Cursed by darkness? Of that I have no doubt. Save you from your wretchedness? I think not. I much prefer you as you are. Your Dreadlord and Master, Strahd Vonserovitch.

Zeddimander used parchment to pull out the darts and wrapped them in a shirt. Using his trident, he poked the mechanism in the chest. There was a strange noise but nothing happened. He tied his grappling hook to his rope which he then hooked to the corner of the chest and used to try and pull the chest out of the room. He failed. Sir Andrew came to help. He also failed. They then combined their strength. Zeddimander got too excited and pulled early, dragging the chest into the library. The skeleton tumbled out en route. Inside the chest was three blank books with black leather covers, three spell scrolls, the deed to the house, the deed to a windmill, a will signed by Gustav and Elizabeth, which left the house, windmill and all family property to Rose and Thorn. The scrolls were a Bless spell, Protection from Poison spell and Spiritual Weapon spell. He used the Protection from Poison spell before going back into the secret room to investigate it.

The books in the room were dark and smelled strange. In fact, they smelled like his companions. Zeddimander decided to remove all the books and arrange them by smell – that little known book cataloging system that is second only to the Dewey Decimal System. The lighter ones smell like humans, the heavier ones like orcs. None of them smell like merfolk, tieflings. or gnomes. You’d have to skin a lot of gnomes to make lovely book covers. Zeddimander handed Sir Andrew Norcs for Orcs, but he immediately closed it when he saw the filth inside. Sir Andrew “this book feels like Aunt Nora. I’m unsettled slightly that this book is covered in me.” Zeddimander borrowed Sir Andrew’s mage hand to help him carry the 200 books out. The mage hand grabbed books and threw them into the library. Sir Andrew examined the chairs, but upon finding nothing interesting, destroyed them.

Upstairs, everyone entered the master bedroom. Feeling it was too crowded, Oriana and Dante left to explore rooms on the other side of the landing. As Oriana went to push open a door, the air felt cold. Subtle electricity crackled in the air. Her lungs burned with every breath. Behind the door, a baby cried and a woman desperately tried soothing him. She sounded fearful, as though the baby’s cries would have grave consequences. Unnerved, Oriana summoned Dante. Elena, whose entire concern was for the baby, rather than her fellow heroes, rushed to the door. Dante joked about using his skeleton hand to slap the baby into silence. Elena clenched her fists and pursed her lips, barely able to conceal her fury.

Oriana prayed to her god. She felt they were about to walk into a trap and asked him to forgive her and protect her team should the baby be a demon. Dante and Elena heard the baby cry and the woman saying “Walter ssh, she won’t stand for this, she won’t have it in the house.” Panic strained her voice as she paced the room trying to soothe the baby.

Downstairs, Sir Andrew decided he wanted to bury the orc skin books to give them a proper funeral. Zeddimander scanned the orc books. They were filled with fiend summoning rituals and were paired with necromantic rituals written by a cult called the Priests of Ozzibus. The rituals were all bogus. Essentially, a pyramid scheme for wannabe necromancers. None of the rituals would ever work. Enraged, Zeddimander used Eldritch Blast on the books. The room stank of burning flesh. Smoke filled the room. Sir Andrew was upset at him damaging the orc books he wanted to bury and collected the singed books.

In the master bedroom, Crank investigated the dresser and found a jewellery box, made of silver with gold filigree. He opened it to discover three gold rings and a thin platinum necklace with a topaz pendant. They looked valuable. He gave them to Desdemona to check for magic. She doesn’t sense anything and turned to Crank. “Jewellery doesn’t suit you, mate.” She slid the gold rings onto her tail so she jingled as she walked. Crank went to look at the mirror. The mirror slid to one side, revealing a dusty, empty cupboard. He went into it. Desdemona shut the door. Crank sneezed in the dust then discovered he couldn’t open it from the inside. He knocked on the mirror. “I can’t get out.” Desdemona. “Huh. That sucks doesn’t it?”

He reminded her he gave her jewellery. Desdemona “Got anything else?” Crank “I have ballbearings.” Desdemona “You gave everyone else ballbearings. I’m not interested in ballbearings.” He sneezed again. That one hurt. Desdemona offered to let him out in exchange for a favour. He used his crowbar to prise the mirror open and stumbled out to see a satisfied looking tiefling. Crank “I’m allergic to cupboard.” Desdemona “I’ll remember that.”

Back with the books, Zeddimander cast a fire at them. Sir Andrew slapped a heavy hand on his shoulder to calm him. Zeddimander turned to glare at him and cast another flame at the books. The room reeked of death and decay, burning skin and scorched hair.

Will the house burn down? And who or what is Walter? Find out next time.