Lady Jadviga Almanov of Bohemia and Lord Leopold Valdemar continue their escape from Wilfric’s frenzied madness and Maria’s vengeance fuelled hate. Lady Jadviga begins to outpace her lone remaining colleague. Lord Valdemar sends shadows pouring from his eyes, nose and mouth to anchor Wilfric to the ground, but his frenzied strength allows him to pull himself free. Seeing Lady Jadviga Almanov moving ahead of him, Lord Valdemar calls out to her, asking her to wait for him.
She shouts over her shoulder, telling him he’s on his own. She runs even faster, leaving him to deal with Wilfric, hoping he will buy her the time she needs to make good her escape. The Lord decides enough is enough and uses an aspect of his Obteneration Discipline to turn his body to the stuff of shadows. Leaving Jadviga to her fate.
Wilfric bursts through the dissipating shadows, in hot pursuit of his prey – the lady Jadviga. She continues her desperate flight, until her ankle gives out and she collapses upon the ground.
He pounces, grabs the lady Jadviga, sinks his exposed fangs into her flesh, and begins feasting upon her blood. Maria, despite not having Celerity boosted reflexes, swiftly follows behind him and joins in the feast. After a few moments, they consume her remaining blood and feel the tug of her immortal soul. They both continue feasting upon her. This time consuming the stuff of her soul, her spirit. Wilfric, still in a blood fuelled frenzy proves to be the more hungry of the two and consumes the Soul of Lady Jadviga. Committing the worst crime conceivable to Kindred society. Again.
Sated, Wilfric’s frenzy subsides. Leaving the Blood soaked vampire to bear the brunt of Hardestadt’s fury. The Elder kindred has witnessed the brutality of the commoner – the slaying of a member of royalty by a mere bastard, and her soul utterly destroyed. Hardestadt had many exquisite pains and tortures planned for her. Wilfric has robbed him of this opportunity.
Bertold collects the ashes of his Sire into the monk robe he wore. With this endeavour completed, he spirits away the remains inside the monastery. He heads for the monastery’s bakery, where he begins baking the ashes into the monk’s bread and the communion wafers.
Frankie realises that his Sire has met his final death – he has lost his opportunity to learn more of the unusual arts of Viscitidude. How will he continue his training without a teacher? Who will take him to the cathedral of flesh, the bizarre creation of the Tzimisce that Lord Mieczyslav told him of and planned to take him to ‘to witness the true, beautiful horrors our clan has crafted’?
Hardestadt takes stock of the battle. Swiftly determining that almost all of the Conspiracy have been vanquished. But in winning the battle, has he lost the war? Japeth, and more importantly Cappadocious, have been destroyed. The leadership of one of the clans – the fundamental political, philosophical and ideological powerbases of Kindred society has passed from a mostly benevolent, scholarly leader to a duplicitous scheming new leader and his mendacious child. What will this shift mean for the future of Kindred society?
Of the Conspiracy, only its erstwhile leader – now the second in command of his clan – is in custody. Matron Violetta, the hideous Nosferatu representative, Lord Leopold Valdemar, the haughty Lasombra member, and Lord Bajazet Al-Nasir, the Assamite assassin of the group remain at large. What are their plans? How will they respond to the destruction of their fellow Conspirators? Their betrayal by Claudius? Their betrayal by their own children? Perhaps only time will tell?
Despite capturing Claudius, Hardestadt knows he has been denied the vengeance he has planned for him. The villainous Claudius has gone from being a scheming agent of misfortune acting on his own to usurp his rightful ruler, to the second in command of one of the original clans. Who had been acting, and continues to act, with the blessings of his Sire. As such, Hardestadt cannot risk upsetting the delicate alliance of kindred he is forging by slaying Claudius. He must accept the burden of failing the Ventrue council’s wishes to showcase the need for all elders to band together if there is to be any chance of a council of Kindred eventually forming. How can he snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? How can he prove to The Council that he is worthy of the tasks they have entrusted to him? Recognising the need to consider his next move carefully, he takes Claudius with him as his prisoner.
Maria decides to tell Durga Syn about the events that have transpired this night at the monastery and prepares to leave. While riding out of the monastery, she notices a large party of Templars arriving. It is a mighty war party, consisting of monks, men-at-arms, Templars, knights on horseback, archers with flaming arrows and a war master leading them.
Quickly taking stock of the situation, Maria throws herself upon their mercy, pretending to be a damsel in distress. The war master pledges to protect her and sends his force into the monastery to investigate the many sightings of demonic entities, especially vampires, that have intensified in the past week. He leaves three Templars to protect her while she seeks shelter in the courtyard while the rest of his forces investigate the monastery.
At Maria’s behest, he heads towards the grotto. Where he finds his worst fears confirmed. Blood drenched monsters, monks seemingly acting in league with the enemies of God, signs of a mighty battle against the undead menace and so much more.
Realising that even they cannot defeat such a large force of well-armed and prepared knights, Wilfric and the Brujah, Adana de Sforza, use their celerity boosted reflexes to sprint at impossible speeds towards the far wall of the grotto, then their blood boosted strength allowing them to leap easily above walls that no mortal could easily climb, where they make good their escape.
As the knights swarm after their first targets, Hardestadt smiles benevolently and strides confidently towards them, relying on his kindred powers of presence and dominate to smooth the situation and allow him to mould the situation to his liking. Within moments, the war master decides he needs to safeguard the Ventrue and his cohorts. Benedict decides his inhuman appearance will be too difficult to explain to the knights of god, especially after they witnessed Wilfric and Adana’s blood soaked forms acting in such an obviously inhuman way.
Bertold hears the knights arrive and spends a great deal of time and effort ensuring they are spooked and fearful while searching the monastery. He makes spooky sounds. Bangs doors and window shutters and generally ensures the Templars take note of the monastery as a source of supernatural dangers.
Unfortunately, Hardestadt’s Presence of the majority of the Templars and his domination of the leadership of the group ensures that no further action is immediately taken. But who knows what effects Bertold’s actions may cause in the long term? When the Templars have the opportunity to talk to one another, to spread the tales of the haunted monastery, the blood soaked inhuman monsters and the many other strange things they have witnessed this night?
Maria takes the opportunity to talk to the three men guarding her. One is little more than a simpleton, more interested in what he can find while rooting around deep inside his nostril than in talking to her. The other is monosyllabic, uninterested in talking to her while there is the potential for violence in the near future. The final member of the three, however, is much different. After a few probing questions, Maria determines that he is of noble blood. He has sworn himself to service in the Knights Templar. She uses her feminine whiles to ensure he wishes to safeguard her passage for the next few days. At first he says he cannot honourably do so, as he has duties and responsibilities with the Templars, but after Maria convinces him that she needs his services more than the Templars, he agrees to ask the war master if he can accompany her. To her delight, he reports that he is given leave to do just that. He will accompany her tonight as she travels to the village of Durga Syn.
With his business concluded, Hardestadt invites the party to a victory celebration tomorrow night at his castle. He is then escorted by the Templars back to his domain, his fellow Founders and his prisoner following him.
Maria arrives at the village, she asks her Templar escort to remain on the outskirts of the village while she speaks to the old gypsy woman. Durga Syn is delighted to see her. But her delight soon gives way to dismay when she learns of the destruction of Cappadocious and Japeth.
Her business completed, Maria heads back towards the monastery, but her Templar bodyguard needs to report back to the monastery of Saint Stephen before daybreak. He agrees to meet Maria at the village where she placed an order with the blacksmith with a few nights ago.
The following night, Maria heads towards the village. Once there, she collects the items the blacksmith had created for her and her compatriots. Maria now owns 5 well balanced, easily concealable throwing knives and a new, more practical dagger. She quickly visits the inn where she dominated the drunken couple and barkeeper. There is a new barman working there now. He is unwilling or unable to talk. The couple are nowhere to be seen…
Her Templar escort arrives, he has been given leave to escort the lady on her journeys for the time being.
Once everyone meets up, they travel to Hardestadt’s castle. While travelling, Benedict tells his colleagues that due to his damned nature, he has decided that from now onwards he will be called Maledict.