Frankie heads towards the courtyard; he’s had enough of the warden using innocent women. But he is stopped in one of the hallways by a young woman, she is the Lady Karin’s handmaiden. Her mistress wishes to speak to Frankie and his colleagues. They meet with the rest of the group and the handmaiden leads them to her mistress’ chamber.
Lady Karin is sitting in front of her cabinet mirror, preparing her rich red hair for the day’s rest. As the group enter the room, she watches them in the reflection of her mirror, observing them whilst finishing her hair.
“I am glad you have come to see me” she says
“I believe we may be about to walk a path from which there is no turning back. I want to stop the journey before it begins, for it will lead us all to ruin. And I do mean us in every sense”
She turns toward the group, drawing back her lips in a smile that reveals the sharp fangs of a fellow Cainite. “If you have not already discerned the true nature of myself and Lord Alfred, I stand before you as a child of Caine.”
She goes on to explain that she is here to secure Galtre for an individual who is soon to become Prince of Esztergom. She is of the opinion that there is little the group can do to stop her and Lord Alfred, unless they intend to start a brutal fight, which no one wants. “Let us settle this like reasonable beings” she suggests. “I have no animosity toward any of you, and I would hope that you have none toward me.”
The group engage her in conversation. Trying to pump her for information. They make her a counter offer, pointing out that they are only working for the prince of Bohemia because they wish the blessing from a prince, potentially any prince, to prove they are suitable to be recognised as neonates. The offer they make is for her to speak to the power she is representing, to see if he wants them to work for him instead. Lady Karin is intrigued and agrees to speak to her backer. Before she can say anything else, the door to her room is flung open. Father Lucian, Remus and Lord Alfred enter.
They all look stone-faced. Father Lucien is the first to speak “The Earl” he says “has passed on. I am afraid I have been remiss in my duties… I was not there to give him his final blessing.”
Karin’s face slides into a sympathetic mask as she opens her arms to console Alfred.
“It was his time.” Lucien continues. “his God-appointed hour. At least his soul was given absolution, even if no priest was with him at the end. He granted all his lands to the Church, and God will reward his generosity.” With this, the father proudly produces a will signed just last night.
“I believe you are mistaken, holy father.” Says Lord Alfred, an eyebrow cocked at the old priest.
“No mistake, my son.” Lucien replies. Your father wished for his entire estate to go to the church. He had a will drawn up and he signed it just last night. In my presence.
“You certainly are mistaken.” Lord Alfred interrupts, pulling a rolled up piece of parchment from inside his tunic. “My father willed his lands and titles to me, his only son. And this signed will proves it.”
“Let me see that!” the priest demands. He pales as he reads the document, especially the date. It is signed and dated from tonight. “Your father has condemned himself to eternal torment.”
“He must have seen it differently in his final hours, holy father” Alfred says solemnly.
Anger flashes across Lucien’s face. You don’t understand what you’ve done, boy!”
Alfred bristles in return. “You forget yourself, priest. Whatever you had intended, I am now ruler of Galtre. Go and see to it that my father is properly placed in the family crypt. And be sure to pray over the body!”
The anger on the priest’s face intensifies, but concedes “yes, my lord” he mutters, and rushes from the room, Remus follows him.
Lady Karin makes it obvious that the meeting is over, concluding with “I give you word, we wish you no harm. Consider yourself our guests”. After the group leaves, Berthold takes the opportunity to skulk around, close to the Lady’s room, to listen to her conversation with Lord Alfred.
She runs a hand through his hair while purring “I don’t know what you did, but I love you for it. You have served your clan and our Lord well. The visitors are a group of Cainites. They too came here to secure your father’s lands for their master.” She goes on to tell him that she believes they are civilised beings, that they can be reasoned with, and that they may even be willing to serve the pair’s master. From what Berthold overhears, he believes they are sincere in their offer to work together, or at least peacefully find a resolution, even if they are not entirely sincere about their feelings about the Earl’s death.
The group consider how to allocate the two rooms they have available to themselves. In the interests of decency they opt for Maria to share with the two women the group rescued from Dubois, while Frankie, Berthold and Maledict take the remaining room. Faced with the prospect of sharing with the pair of pious kindred, Frankie elects to go out into the nearby forest and dig a hole to sleep in for the day. Luckily, no animals catch his sent and investigate, otherwise he would have had a rude awakening.
Maria takes the opportunity to snoop around various rooms of the castle. She finds little of any real value to her current problems, but she gets an understanding of the layout of the castle and has the opportunity to search Father Lucien’s room and the library.
Maledict retires to the room he is to share with Berthold, where he begins working on a ritual he has devised. It will allow him to use the stuffed owl Lord Alfred gave him to communicate with his ghouled owl companion, Minerva.
Maria makes her way to the room, where she insists the two injured and abused women sleep on the floor whilst she sleeps on the bed. As is natural for a lady.
The day passes without incident.
Night stalks the lands of Galtre. The group, and any other Cainites in the land, awakens. As they do so, the group are met by Wilfred – the ghoul servant sent by Nicholas. He wastes no time in telling his Cainite superiors that he believes he has found a Kindred Lair. It is the newly constructed monastery. It was built directly atop the remains of the old church, which was burned down many years ago. The monks who built the monastery were instructed to leave the original building’s surviving basement rooms intact and unexplored. Why do this? It would make a fine place for a kindred to secure themselves. Wilfred wants to take them to the monastery right away, to strike while the iron is hot.
Maria is unimpressed with this idea. She doesn’t want to get close to a group of hidden kindred opponents, or even pious priests. She elects to search in the library for some time, then, if the group are not too far ahead of her, she will catch them up. The remainder of the group decide that on their travel they should ensure Jill is still safe, then head to the monastery.
When they get to Jill’s hut, they discover the door is locked. Of Paul and Sir Henri, there are no sign. Yet there is no discernable evidence of a struggle. Somewhat confused about the developments at this location, they head off to the monastery.
They meet Maria at the crossroads that splits off to lead to the monastery. She enquires about the loyal Sir Henri, and finds he is missing. Although she is disturbed by this development, she cannot fathom what she can do to locate her protector. So she remains with the group as they head toward the monastery.
Wilfred opts to take them around the side of the monastery, so they may sneak through the old graveyard, behind the newly constructed building, and gain entrance without alerting the monks.
He dismounts and ties his horse to a nearby tree, advising the others to do the same. All but Maledict do so. He trades a few quiet words with his horse, asking it to stay near the tree, but to come to him if anything suspicious transpires. The ghouled animal readily agrees.
Wilfred takes the lead and advises the group to follow in his footsteps as he sneaks over a low wall surrounding the graveyard, moving stealthily from one gravestone to the next. Maledict opts to disappear from sight, relying on his blood magics to hide him.
The group follow Wilfred, even Maria is able to remain unseen. Or so they believe. As Wilfred is about to sneak to a particularly large, vine covered gravestone, he collapses to the ground with a moan and writhes in pain upon the ground. A crossbow bolt protruding from between his eyes. As the group watch in horror, eight monks step out from concealed hiding places. Each has a loaded crossbow in hand. They fire a volley of bolts at the group, drop their spent weapons, then charge at them while drawing swords.
Each of the kindred faces their opponents in their own way. Berthold uses his powers to drive fear into the souls of the priests, forcing them to turn away their charge or quiver fearfully in place as they contemplate the evils he describes as their imminent future. Maria uses her ability to twist men’s minds to force her attackers to turn upon one another. Maledict remains hidden and watches the combat, choosing not to reveal himself. Frankie takes a rather more direct approach to his attackers. He begins by scooping up the quivering body of the dying Wilfred and smearing him across his own body, turning the unfortunate ghoul into nothing more than a fleshy suit of armour. Taking care to sculpt the dying man’s face so it fits over Frankie’s face perfectly. This bizarre task completed, he turns to the monks, runs toward them and screams at the top of his voice, running toward them with the corpse of a fallen comrade wrapped around him. It is too much for two of the three monks to take, the horrific sight transfixes them in place. The remaining monk attempts to charge onward toward the freakish apparition, but a further intimidating outburst by Frankie leaves him stunned into silence, choosing to turn tail and run faster than any man has the right to do. Frankie begins his pursuit. First, he grabs a young monk who is rooted to the spot in fear, grasping him and drinking deeply of his life’s blood for a few moments. He uses his magical flesh crafting skills to twist the monk’s spine, rending it in two, slaying the monk. Next, Frankie sets about pursuing his two remaining attempted attackers as they retreat to the sanctuary of the monastery.