World of Darkness 20th

Session 14

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.

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Session 13

The party are at Hardestadt’s castle, enjoying his ‘hospitality’. The celebrations are swiftly forgotten, and Hardestadt shows the true reason he invited the players to his fortress. He gives them a task, telling them that for them to continue their undead existence they must seek the patronage of a Prince (a leader of kindred of a particular location). He has found a Prince in need of assistance, and Hardestadt has recommended the group. If they complete his task, the Prince will vouch for them and give them the backing they need.

He arranges for Roderigo to drive them to Prague castle in Bohemia. There they will meet Nicholas, the seneschal of Prince Rudolph Brandl, who will tell them more of the situation. They are to leave tonight.

Despite their reservations, the group leave that night – and within a few nights’ time they arrive at Prague castle. After making enquiries, they are escorted to a labyrinthine series of corridors, which lead to Nicholas’ chambers. The group find him awaiting them in his offices. He sits behind his large desk, luxurious animal skins and pelts lining the floor and walls. He sits in stony silence, staring at them. ‘Be seated’ he says, his body immobile, staring at the group. Maria and Bertold take a seat, Malefact sits upon the floor. Wilfric and Frankie stand insolently. After staring intensely at them, Nicholas outlines the issue that has bought the group before him.

Galtre is a border region that is under the control of Prince Brandl. The earl of Galtre is dying. This would not normally be a problem as his rulership would either pass to his son, or to the crown of Bohemia. But, unfortunately, recent activities in Galtre have lead the Prince to believe that Kindred operatives (most likely acting under the orders of nearby Princes) are working to undermine his leadership and ensure Bohemia loses control of Galtre. This will not do.

The group are to travel to Galtre and ensure it remains under the control of Bohemia. Nicholas will provide them each with a specially trained mount and reward them if they are successful. They must ride tonight, as the Earl’s health is deteriorating rapidly and he may die very soon. He provides the group with two letters. One stating that the bearer of the letter is acting as an agent of The Prince Rudolph Brandl, and the other is from a mortal friend of the old Earl. The second letter will ensure the group bypass any mortals who may attempt to block their path.

The group take ‘refreshments’ and leave immediately.

Their travel to Galtre is uneventful. Once they reach the boarder of Galtre, the forest quickly thickens, soon mighty trees loom overhead either side of the road. Their dense foliage blocking out the moons light. From somewhere to the group’s left, a lone wolf howls melancholically at the moon.

Are their eyes playing tricks on them? Is someone, or something, following them? ? What’s causing the growing sense of dread? The road bends sharply to the right ahead of them, making a perfect ambush spot.

They make some preparations to ready themselves for the ambush they expect as they round the corner. As they do so, raucous laughter echoes around the trees. Cutting through the near-total silence.

The group see a small, basic wattle and daub cottage further down the road. A gang of about 5 men are on horseback, each clutches a lantern mounted to a long wooden pole to ward off the darkness. Their leader, a bald, cruel faced man, mounts his horse while slurring something to a young woman. She clutches a blanket, keeping it wrapped around her to protect her virtue. Her mental turmoil is obvious to behold, even at this distance. As the men begin to ride away, their leader lets out another of his raucous bellowing laughs. The strain is all too much for the young woman. She sags against the door frame, nearly fainting from the strain the group of unwelcome visitors have put upon her.

Seeing this, the party gallop toward her at full speed. Wilfric leaps from his horse and catches the young woman in a dazzling blur of speed. Bertold also moves to assist the young woman, he finds himself deeply moved by her beauty; she is the most beautiful creature he has ever laid eyes upon. Her very presence stirs powerful feelings in him.

As the majority of the group gather around her, to ask what is wrong, Frankie slips by and enters the cottage. He finds a dimly lit dwelling. The majority of the space in the cottage is taken up by the animals the family own. There are two cows, five goats and a number of chickens. At the far side of the single room that comprises her home, three boys huddle together in a threadbare bed. There is very little in the way of furniture, and no luxuries, but what few possessions they do own are well cared for and clean.

Initially, the young woman tries to tell them that nothing is wrong, that it is nothing to concern folks such as them. She assumes they are gentry due to their horses and fine clothing. She does her best to introduce herself in a manner that gentry would find acceptable. “My lords and lady, I am Jill. I’m sorry to have distracted you from your travels…” she trails off as she attempts to choke back her tears. Despite suffering silently under great burdens for such a long time, she’s desperate for help, desperate for someone to talk to. Within a few moments she breaks down and tells them of her plight.

“My parents died of the fever this spring. It was horrible. One day they were healthy, and then they just got weaker and paler with each passing night until they died. I prayed to the good Lord for the sickness to take me instead, but my prayers were for naught. Their deaths must have been part of His great plan.”

“So I was left to bring up my three brothers. We’ve been doing our best to tend our field so we could feed ourselves and give the Earl his due. All the while, Warden Dubois has been making unsavoury proposals and lustful advances toward me. Of late, he has threatened not only me, but my brothers.” Horror taints her beauty as she continues her tale “He wants that I should give myself to him, and maybe even to his men. Yet, none of them have any desire to wed me. They only want to rob me of one of the few things I have left to cherish in this world, my virtue. And if I don’t surrender it, they intend to rob me of the three other things I cherish in the world, my brothers.”

Jill begins to cry in earnest; the tears rolling down her cheeks and falling from her jaw. “I pray to God for deliverance every night, but I am beginning to lose hope. And Warden DuBois is beginning to lose patience. I’m at my wits end. I have nowhere to turn.”

As she recounts her plight to the group, an idea forms in her mind. “Would you be willing to speak with the earl on my behalf? Perhaps you can convince him to allow you to take my brothers, and possibly me, with you to your own holdings? Please, I need help milords.” After no more than a moment’s consideration, the group agree – they will speak to the Earl on her behalf. They ask her how much further the Earl’s castle is. They are dismayed to discover that the castle is over an hour’s ride away – and there is roughly an hour till sunrise.

Jill happily offers for the group to stay in her cottage. She will soon be moving the animals out to graze, and her brothers will help her. So the characters can rest in her cottage, as long as its meagre hospitality will be acceptable to a Lady and Lords of such obvious calibre. The group swiftly accept and enter the cottage.

It is small, cramped, and smells of the animals which shelter in there. At the far corner three young boys huddle together. Eyes staring defiantly at the group, they expect the worst from them and assume they must be part of Warden DuBois’ group. When they see the relief on their sister’s face, they realise that the group are not here to hurt them, and may even offer assistance.

As the rest of the party do their best to settle down in the humble room they will be using as sanctuary from the sun, Frankie and Wilfric take a walk in the forest – to discuss Wilfric’s slaying of Lord Mieczyslav, Frankie’s sire and the one who Frankie hoped would teach him greater control of the Discipline of Vicissitude and flesh crafting. The talk is tense and filled with the possibility of imminent violence.

Meanwhile, Maria is struggling to make do with the cottage. How is a lady of her breading supposed to cope with squalor such as this? Her thoughts are interrupted by the family sheepherding the animals from the house.

Frankie and Wilfric return from their talk. The air has been somewhat cleared between them. But there is still tension. Can Frankie find it in himself to forgive Wilfric, or will things devolve to a point of no return?

As the sun starts to cast its rays over the forests, the group prepare to sleep. Wilfric asks Paul to guard the cottage as they sleep, Maria instructs Sir Henri to guard her. He promises to protect her virtue as she sleeps. Paul and Sir Henri eye each other up warily. They do not trust one another, just as the Kindred they represent don’t trust each other.

The day passes uneventfully. As night envelopes the land, the party begin to awaken. They promise Jill that they will speak to the Earl on her behalf, they then set off for Millstone castle.

As the group approach, they see the castle looming out of the darkness. Millstone castle consists of a three story stone tower surrounded by a stone wall. There is a chimney at each compass point of the roof. The castle’s main keep is a drafty building with arrow slits for windows. Although glass is becoming increasingly common, the earl has yet to use any of it in his ancestral home. A wooden structure is built into the main exterior wall; the stable for Warden Dubois and his mounted assessors. It also houses the earl’s aging warhorse. A young stable boy is always on hand.

No guards patrol the wall, but the gate is closed and locked at night. The warden’s raucous laughter echoes from inside the keep, followed by the laughter of his assessors.

The group pound noisily on the door – this is the only way to get the attention of the warden and his men. They are too involved in whatever sport they have found. After some time, a slit is pulled back from the gate. A pair of eyes stare out at the group “What d’you want?”

The group tell them that they have travelled far, that they bring news of an old acquaintance of the Earl’s and they would like to speak to him. After some debate inside, the group are admitted to the dismal courtyard. The scruffy looking assessor who opened the gate slurs ‘You’ll have to clear it with Warden Dubois”.

The party find the castle’s courtyard is in a dismal state of disrepair. By the light of a small campfire and several torches they can see several figures gathered before the weather-beaten door that leads into the keep. Four men sit on barrels and stools around the fire, while a fifth sits further away. Two young women, both partially naked, wander from man to man. Each man cuts away a little more of their clothing with a dagger, or runs his hands over the women’s exposed skin and laughs loudly. One woman looks frightened, while the other has a blank expression on her face. Both women have tiny cuts on their arms, chests and legs, and both are haphazardly smeared with blood.

The man who admitted the group sits heavily on a barrel as he says “Dubois, we got some late night visitors here.” One of the men rises slowly. It is Warden Dubois, and he regards the characters through narrow eyes, grimacing. He offers his dagger to the fifth man and says “Would you like to take my turn, Wilfred?”

Wilfred shakes his head and takes a deep drink from the flagon he is holding “No thanks, Warden, I gave it up for lent”. Dubois laughs, and the man seated to his right pulls one of the women toward him “Let’s see what we can do about the rest of the skirt, dear.” he says.

Meanwhile, Dubois has been sizing up the characters. He approaches them, his grimace becoming a scowl. He snarls “Who are you people, and how dare you disturb our fun?” Alcohol taints his breath.

They show him the letter from the aging earl’s friend. Huffing about their ignorance for turning up at this ungodly hour, the warden eventually agrees to allow the group to pass, so they may pass their message on to the earl in person. Frankie offers his hand to the warden, in a gesture of friendliness. As the inebriated warden grasps his hand, Frankie pulls the warden toward him, grasping him around his chest. He uses his vampiric powers of vicissitude to subtly shift the earl’s diaphragm, to stop him from laughing his bellowing, raucous laughter.

After extracting himself from Frankie’s strange embrace, the warden orders one of his men to show the characters to the Earl’s chamber. But Wilfred leaps to his feet, swiftly offering to take the characters to see the earl. The earl is happy for Wilfred to carry out this errand – all the better if it means he and his men can continue their fun. But, as the group pass the campfire, Maledict and Wilfred each grab one of the women. The look in their eyes warns the warden that to attempt to take the women from them would be a terminally stupid mistake. Probably the last mistake they would ever make. The assessors and their leader stare daggers at the backs of the group as they leave.

While guiding the characters through the narrow hallways of the keep, Wilfred turns to them and speaks in a quiet voice. “Soon after you left Bohemia, word reached the prince that there are indeed other Cainites in Galtre. They may cause problems. I have been sent to help you address them.” He shows them a ring he keeps secreted on his person. It bears the seal the characters saw in Prague castle during their meeting with Nicholas. He continues to tell the group that he has been instructed by Nicholas to help the group in any way he can. Frankie and Maledict ask for private rooms, to tend to the young women. Wilfred shows them two rooms they may use for their needs and leaves them to whatever they wish to do. He had been posing as a brutal ruffian, like the scum in the courtyard, to get their assistance in exploring the region for suitable Cainite lairs. “It’s such a relief you finally arrived. I don’t know how much longer I could have carried on this pretence. They disgust me.” They continue onwards, to their meeting with the earl.

As they reach the earl’s door, some of the party catch sight of a young woman gazing at them from the room across the hall. As they look in her direction, she lowers her eyes and swiftly closes the door. Wilfred knocks upon the door to the earl’s room, a moment later a muffled “enter” is heard. Wilfred opens the door and bows deeply. “M’lord, I bring visitors, they have travelled far to bring you a message from an old friend.

The earl’s bedroom is opulent. Fine animal skins cover the floor. A large fireplace blazes in one corner of the room, casting dancing shadows across the people and furniture within. Over the mantle hangs a shield that displays no coat of arms, but has a pair of long swords crossed over it. An exceptional tapestry showing knights in combat with their foes covers the entire eastern wall. A writing desk and a chair stand near an arrow slit, and a tall lacquered cabinet stands in one corner, but the dominating feature of the room is a large four-poster bed. The earl rests on the bed, looking pallid and discomforted. Three other men – a young monk with dark circles around his eyes, Father Lucien, and Lord Alfred – stand around the bed. The smell of death is thick in the earl’s room. He is an aged man, his skin is as white as the sheets of his bed, and wisps of thin, white hair cling to his bony pate. He has all but wasted away under the weight of old age and disease. Even so, it’s plain to see that he was once a physically powerful warrior.

“Who is that?” the old man says “is that the devil, coming to take me away?”

“No Father” Lord Alfred says turning his attention back to the old man “It appears you have some late-night visitors. And they are not devils.”

Bertold scans the men with his Auspex sharpened senses. He swiftly deduces that Lord Alfred is a Kindred, that Father Lucien is a Ghoul and the tired looking monk is also a Kindred.

Once the group introduce themselves to the earl, he becomes visibly excited. He remembers his old friend and wants to hear how he is doing. As the group speak to the earl, they hear the sound of DuBois’ men laughing in the courtyard drifting through the arrow slit. It mingles with the sobbing cries of a woman. Obviously the assessors have found another victim to entertain themselves.

Lord Alfred singles out Frankie, and talks to him while the rest of the party talk to the Earl. He hopes that Frankie will do him he personal favour of extending his best wishes to Frankie’s master. Lord Alfred continues, saying that he would like to continue the relationship between the two families that his father had once he inherits the title of Earl. Frankie is understandably confused by this conversation.

Once he has had the letter sent from his old friend read out to him and made some small talk, the earl swiftly loses interest. Very little the group has to say piques the earl’s interest. His excitement swiftly wanes, and it becomes clear that he fears death more than anything. He tells them that he intends to will all his properties to the church so that his immortal soul won’t burn in Hell. He doesn’t fear death as much as he fears what may follow if he doesn’t take steps to undo all the evil deeds he perpetuated during his lifetime.

After the meeting, Lord Alfred shows the group around the castle on a brief tour. During the tour, Maledict notices a stuffed owl. He talks to the lord about it. It was hunted by the lord’s grandfather. Maledict asks if he may have it, as it is beautiful. Feeling flattered by this glowing praise, Lord Alfred agrees to this.

During this time, Maria takes the opportunity to seek out Father Lucien to confess her sins. Bertold decides to snoop around the confessional, and if he hears a few interesting titbits about Maria, then all the better…

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Session 12

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.

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Session 11

The Group watch on as Claudius plunges his fangs into Japeth’s chest and begins consuming his ‘brother’s’ blood. Only Japeth’s clenched fists and the blood running down his chin as he bites deeply into his own lips give any indication of inner turmoil.

Maria glances nervously to the grotto where The Founders are hiding. They realise something foul is afoot, and charge out of their hiding place – to catch Claudius in the act of diablarie. All, but one, of the monks drop to their knees and begin chanting and wailing. The one remaining monk dashes towards Japeth and his would be slayer.

The Founders and The Conspiracy of Isaac clash in combat. Violent combat breaks out across the once peaceful garden. Figures blur in celerity boosted super human speeds. Shadows writhe and come to life, grasping their opponents. Individuals vanish and reappear in different locations. It’s impossible to follow the desperate struggle taking place. The only stillness comes from the bodies of the fallen.

Wilfric attempts to attack Claudius from behind. But he is intercepted by the Ravnos, Gabrin, and Tzimisce, Lord Mieczyslav, representatives of The Conspiracy. With a wave of his hand, Gabrin implants suggestions of spiders, scorpions and other creatures attacking Wilfric. Lord Mieczyslav uses his vampiric powers to convert himself into a towering monster of destruction.

Matron Violetta faces off against Josef von Bauren. Hardestadt engages Lady Jadviga, Sire Wenceslas and Lord Casmir. His physical prowess balanced by the skills and otherworldly abilities of the three Kindred. Frankie moves to help his colleague, striking against Gabrin with his wickedly sharp axe.

The combat ebbs and flows, individuals clashing as opportunities present themselves. Lady Amisa is the first to fall. Her throat ripped out by the diminutive Josef von Bauren, as the little Nosferatu strikes at her from behind.

Lord Mieczyslav and Gabrin continue to press their attack against Wilfric. Yet despite outnumbering the younger vampire, they are unable to overwhelm him.

Sire Wenceslas engages his childe, Bertold, in mortal combat. The two Toreador kindred face one-another in mortal combat. Bringing their vampiric disciplines to bear against one-another. This is to be a battle of wits and willpower, rather than strength and savagery.

Milov Petrenkov, the Gangrel Founder, falls to Lord Bajazet Al-Nasir’s powerful blood magics. But before he can deliver the coup de grace, he is interrupted by the brash Adana de Sforza leaping to her companion’s aid. Lord Casmir summons lightning to strike against Wilfric from the clear skies above multiple times, but each time the speedy Brujah is able to evade the lightning bolts before they strike him.

Frankie continues raining blows upon Gabrin. The trickster attempts to confound the wrathful Tzimisce, but to no avail. He unleashes a series of staggering strikes against the ill-prepared Ravnos.

Wilfric is making headway against the towering form of Lord Miecyslav. The latter’s monstrous form seems to be more suited for defence than offensive capabilities.

Benedict finds himself in combat with Lord Casmir. Somehow overpowering the haughty Tremere and devouring his lifeblood to the last drop. Even going so far as to commit the ultimate sin – diablarie.

Frankie’s ferocious onslaught sees Gabrin driven further back. The Ravnos tries one last illusion as a means to save his unlife. But it provides no benefit. Frankie sees through his trickery and sets about the distraught vampire with a renewed ferocity. The sharpness of his axe is tested as it slices through flesh and bone. After a particularly well placed blow, Gabrin sinks to the ground. The spark of life fading from his eyes as Frankie stalks after his next opponent.

Wilfric lands a number of lucky blows against his opponent in a super human flurry and downs the battle-weary Tzimisce, but he pays a heavy price for his victory. He is running dangerously low on blood and gives himself over to the beast – wilfully entering a blood frenzy.

Lord Leopold Valdemar sees the battle is not going well for The Conspiracy, he decides to retreat, better to pull back from the field of combat now and strike again at a more opportune time.

Bertold, through a combination of trickery and luck, downs his sire. Sire Wenceslas does not die easily. He fights for survival until every ounce of his strength is spent. He dies cursing the fates that bought him into the ranks of The Conspiracy and his eventual demise.

Maria sees her nemesis – the Lady Jadviga – attempting to flee from Hardestadt’s assault. She stalks after her creator, murder glinting in her eyes.

Wilfric’s blood frenzy gives him the strength he needs to overpower the elder Tzimisce. A few moments after giving himself over to the beast, he overcomes Lord Miecyslav, slaying him and regaining precious little of the blood he craves. He catches sight of Lady Jadviga Almanov and joins the race to slay her.

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Session 10

The beginning of the 10th session sees the victorious party standing around the corpse of Redteeth. After a moments discussion, Wilfric slashes Redteeth’s enormous gut open. Its entrails spill upon the floor. A foul pool of ichor pooling around the disgusting mess. Benedict steps forward and begins searching through the creatures guts. He’s examining the disgusting mess to determine if Redteeth ate Marianna. After sifting through the grizzly contents of the troll’s stomach Benedict has found:

• The semi decomposed corpses of two children
• The rotting cadaver of a man
• The skeletal remains of a deer
• A collection of fist sized stones and other objects

After verifying that Marianna hasn’t been eaten by Redteeth, Benedict offers the corpses the nearest thing to a burial he can devise, by throwing their remains over the side of the bridge, into whichever nether realm it spans.

The group decides to collect some ‘mementos’ of their kill. Benedict, Wilfric and Bertold each hack off a horn, tusk or antler. Bertold chooses to ‘liberate’ Redteeth’s jawbone as a ‘momento’. Frankie joins the group in time to help himself to a particularly large horn from Redteeth’s head.

Benedict returns to the monastery with Paul. Upon returning, Benedict seeks out Japeth. He is somewhat surprised to learn that Japeth was planning on speaking to him soon anyway. Japeth tells Benedict how proud he is that Benedict has chosen to follow the path of bones, and that his studious efforts to learn the discipline of Necromancy have paid off so swiftly. It is because of these factors that Japeth has singled out Benedict from all the group to speak to about a most delicate matter.

He says the following to Benedict “When one thrice drinks the blood of a kindred, one becomes bonded to them. One must obey their word, even if one were to disagree with them, one is compelled to obey. My sire, cappadocious, is a good man; he wishes to unify the living and the dead. But I fear he trusts the Giovanni in error.

He has asked me to let Giovanni be, to trust in Giovanni’s sincerity. It fills my heart with sorrow to speak these words aloud, but Cappadocious is in error – Giovanni plans treachery, of this I am certain. But my sire’s forbids me from acting against him.

Fortunately, he said nothing of you and your companions. And so, I have bought you a gift. A shroud and boots woven from spiritual essences that even I little understand. They will allow the wearer to move and act during a maelstrom. I have a set for you and your companions. Please, take them and perhaps you can make a difference in the coming storm.

I’ve tarried too long, I have preparations to attend to for the meeting tonight. No matter what happens, I’m proud of your studies, and proud that you have decided to walk the path of Bones with us.

We shall speak again soon, after this dreadful matter is behind us and Giovanni is unmasked before my sire.“

Meanwhile, the other members of the party travel to a nearby village, in search of Marianna. They find the majority of the villagers have barricaded themselves in their homes for the night. That the only places still open are the blacksmith and the two pigs inn.

When the blacksmith sees Frankie, he hands over the modified brass knuckles he ordered as a gift for Benedict. Wilfric orders a weapon, and pays for it with a golden necklace. Maria takes the opportunity to ask for a dagger and some throwing knives, for which she hands over one of her silver coins. Their enquiries about Marianna prove fruitless, so they move their search to the two pigs inn.

They find the two pigs to be a disgusting backwater dive. An old, drunk, couple sit in the middle of the room noisily arguing. The group attempt to make sense of their argument, but find it to be nothing more than drunken swear filled nonsense. Attempts to talk to them about Marianna yield nothing more than a vulgar rant by the couple, swiftly followed by a resumption of their seemingly never ending bickering.
Attempts to talk to the innkeeper also fail to lead o any promising leads. Maria is offended by his attitude, and she Dominates him into constantly drinking – until he eventually passes out. She also subtly manipulates the drunken couple into escalating their fight until they start attacking each other.

With the realisation that no useful information will be gleaned from the Inn, the group decide to return to the monastery and rest for the day, in preparation for the big meeting tomorrow night.

As the group begins to awaken, Benedict visits each of them in turn. He gives them the gift of the shroud and boots and explains something about the meeting he had with Japeth. Each dons the items under their usual clothes.

Bertold hatches a scheme to trap his sire. He uses the jawbone of Redteeth as an arch in a display he creates utilising statues and other beautiful works of art he scrounges together from the Giovanni mansion. He places this work of art near the main entrance for the monastery, in the hopes of distracting his sire as he arrives for the meeting.
The shout goes up from a watcher – The Conspiracy are coming. Now, the time for planning is finished – it is the time for action!

As the Conspiracy approaches, benedict flags down Claudius. Claudius is glad of this, as previously he had offered Benedict the opportunity to hold a dove of peace, which will be presented to Japeth as a sign of good faith. After carefully taking hold of the animal, Benedict asks Claudius an unexpected question. As Claudius looks disdainfully at him, he tells the Giovanni how loyal he is, and asks if he may begin the process of being blood bound. Claudius understands this action – a demonstration of loyalty on the eve of his plans coming to fruition. And so he grants this boon to the hideous Nosferatu. Benedict takes a mouthful of blood – but does not swallow.

After the procession of Kindred passes him, he carefully spits the blood onto the bird – therefor rendering it useless for the purposes of trapping Japeth’s soul. But, in the excitement, Benedict does not consider the few drops of blood that will remain in his mouth unless he washes it out carefully. Next time he drinks he will accidentally take the first step towards being blood bound to Claudius. Is this price too steep?

Bertold tries to lure his sire over to the shrine he built, but the Toreador is unimpressed by his childe’s efforts, and continues onwards.

The Conspiracy gather together in the courtyard of the monastery, before continuing towards the garden where the historic meeting will take place.

The grotto is large enough to accommodate over three dozen individuals comfortably. It is surrounded on three sides by grey stone walls. Only the rock formations delineate its northernmost side. That winding wall includes several hidden grottos, a small cavern complex (the entrance is located beside the smallest member of the Trinity), and a natural spring.

The monks have collected a variety of spine and thorn covered plants and planted them in the garden to remind them of the pain all people must suffer before they can reach the perfection of God’s eternal embrace. Roses also cover the garden’s grounds.

The gardens largest grotto is cradled gently by a semicircle of rock. The monks chipped away for centuries to make benches from the living rock. Three seats in particular are impressive. The largest is flanked on either side by the two smaller. Japeth sits in the stone seat to the right. A hard faces old man with a deformed right arm sits in the left-hand seat. This is Augustus Giovanni, Claudius father, and sire. A gathering of monks stand to one side of the entrance to the grotto, chanting and praying peacefully.
Claudius and the surviving members of The Conspiracy boldly enter the garden and ‘meekly’ confront Japeth. Wilfric ensures he is standing with The Conspiracy members, Bertold lingers near the entrance of the grotto, the remainder of the group hide behind the large stones, near the hiding place of The Founders. Japeth rises and accepts the dove from Benedict (who is very careful to ensure none of The Conspiracy sees the blood on the creature). Augustus remains seated.

Japeth beckons to Claudius to come forward.

Claudius strides up, a mock penitent smile on his arrogant face. His pack of conspiritors stay at a respectful distance. He kneels before Japeth. “Forgive me, brother, for I have sinned against you.”

“Aye, that you have, brother.” Says Japeth. After a long pause, he continues “But my sire forgives all, as does my Sire in heaven. And so I forgive you.”

Claudius rises, making a show of flicking dirt off the knees of his silken hose.
Japeth clasps Claudius’ with one hand, holding the necromancer at arm’s length. He holds the dove with the other in front of his chest, almost protectively.

“Go forth,” Japeth says “and sin no more.”

“Whats this? No kiss for your brother?” Claudius taunts. “No kiss of peace and forgiveness?”

Japeth releases Claudius’ arm. Claudius moves in toward Japeth’s chest. Suddenly, Japeth catches Claudius’ head in his hands saying “Hear me well ‘brother’. I am he who sits at the right hand of our Father. I obey his will and his word. Remember well the fate of those who forsake his path!”

Sighing, he releases the necromancer “Come, Claudius. I await your kiss of peace. Let us know each other’s souls and have done with it.”

Claudius grabs Japeth and pulls him near in a single violent motion. The dove is caught between them. It falls, its neck broken, as Claudius plunges his fangs into Japeth’s chest.

View
Session 9

The Group set off to Durga Syn’s village, to ask if she knows of any pagans looking for a new home. They find Durga Syn inside her hut, making healing poultices for the villagers. She is delighted to see the Group, and chats with them about what has occurred since last they met. Maria mentions her on-going research into maelstroms. Durga Syn elaborates on Maria’s discoveries thus far. She warns the Group that a soul storm is coming that threatens both the lands of the dead and the living. Furthermore, she explains that Giovanni is planning not only to diablerize Japeth, but to trap his soul. To accomplish this, Giovanni will require an animal, directly after the diablerie he will bind Japeth’s soul to the animal’s body. This must not be allowed to occur. His plan may be thwarted by spilling the blood of a Giovanni on the animal’s body before the diablerie takes place. She reminds the Group that Marianna was embraced by Giovanni at the time of their creation. If she can be found, her blood may be used to thwart Giovanni’s plans.

The Group discuss their nightmares with the wise old kindred, and ask if there is any way they can protect themselves from having their dreams hijacked in the future. Durga Syn doesn’t know of any methods to accomplish this, but she recommends that they team speak to a Malkavian, as they deal with madness, dreams, illusions and delusions – so a skilled Malkavian may be able to help. She also shares her thoughts on the entity – she believes it is a member of the Fae; a powerful spirit attached to one of the four Fae courts. These courts are based upon the seasons of the year. The Spring and Autumn courts are most likely to pay attention to the lands of humans, so she believes the entity belongs to one of these two courts.

Durga Syn informs the Group of a band of homeless travellers that she believes are pagan. They have been driven from their lands by Lord Giovanni. They are making temporary residence in a forest an hour’s ride from the village. She gives the Group some of her healing poultices as a gift for the pagans. They will recognise the pungent odour and know the Group can be trusted. Benedict helps her with the preparation of the poultices, because of this she is able to make more poultices than usual and makes a gift of these extra poultices to Benedict.

Benedict opts to travel to the farm to ensure it is ready for the villagers and to see if there is anything the Group missed last time. After travelling to the forest and following a trail deeper into the woods, the Group find the makeshift camp of the dispossessed villagers. The camp seems deserted, but the more perceptive members of the group call out to the villagers until a spokesperson emerges. The villagers are delighted at the opportunity the Group present to them; they are packed up and ready to travel within the hour.

When Benedict sees the villagers being led by Wilfric and Maria, he obfuscates and watches them from the treeline. The villagers are delighted by their new lands, and promise to continue worshipping the old gods and tend the land.

While Benedict, Wilfric and Maria busy themselves with the entity’s demand, Burtold follows up on something he and Frankie set in motion a few nights previously. But first, he disguises himself and frightens some locals, guiding them to a nearby monastery – so as to alert the Templars to the vampires nearby. Next, he follows one of the modified horse tracks – and discovers the daytime dwelling place of Sire Wenceslas. It is the Monastery of St Stephen (the same monastery about which Maria was able to get detailed information, from one of the Templars who attacked the Group with Brother Clement some time ago). This is the same monastery he guided the frightened villagers just a few hours earlier. He accidentally alerts the guards, and decides discretion is the better part of valour, so he retreats for the night.

The following morning, the Group have a strange dream. As before, they are surrounded by lush trees bearing fruit and vegetables. The entity is observing them still, but it seems less hostile than before. It tells them that it is pleased with their efforts, and gives them their second task. They are to travel to the bridge of stone and brass, an hour’s ride south from the farm, and step upon the bridge ‘when the shadows of the tallest trees touch the end of the bridge’. Then, walk along the shadows to be transported to the spirit realm version of the bridge and slay Redteeth – a foul creature that lives under the bridge. It delights in torture and murder; especially when it involves children.

The following night, the group discuss what to do: Should they attempt to slay Redteeth now? Should they search for Marianna? Should they follow up on the information about the lair of Sire Wenceslas? Eventually it is decided – they will focus on the most important of the three tasks – discovering the whereabouts of Marianna before the meeting at the Cappadocian monastery tomorrow.

They return to Giovanni’s mansion – where they were deceived, abused, brutalised and eventually turned into vampires by the conspiracy of Isaac. Paul elects to stay outside, he cannot bear to return to the place where he was beaten and left for dead. The Group find evidence that Marianna followed the Conspiracy, and made her way to a main road. Unfortunately, they lose her track at the road, and elect to follow up on the second of the entity’s tasks and slay Redteeth. They follow the Fae creature’s directions, and find themselves standing on a bizarre reimagining of the bridge of stone and brass. What was once a small bridge which would struggle to hold two carriages side-by-side is now the largest bridge the Group have ever seen. It stretches off into the distance, disappearing into the horizon. Flickering fires are housed overhead in brass braziers. As they glance around, a deep rumbling laughter emanates from under the bridge. A huge corpse white fist slams onto the ground from underneath the bridge. Redteeth hauls itself into view. It easily stands 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide, with dark, disgusting tusks and horns protruding at obscene angles from its squat face. Its immense gut drags upon the ground between its obese legs. Some of the Group attempt to talk to Redteeth, but find it has a one track mind – food.

Redteeth hauls a massive weapon in front of it. The object is immense, battered, broken and rusted. Redteeth heaves the immense sword over its gut while eyeing the Group hungrily. As it lumbers towards them, Benedict runs towards it and dives between its legs, somehow squirming past its gut to come up behind it. Wilfric unleashes a dazzling flurry of blows, and Paul, his ghoul, joins in the fray – giving Redteeth a wicked wound across its gut. Even Maria produces her dainty dagger and joins the fray. She is unable to pierce the foul, corpulent flesh of Redteeth, but her presence is a distraction it can ill afford. Bertold uses his powers of Domination to cause Redteeth to stumble in fear, reducing its ability to fight.

Redteeth screams its anger while attempting to bring its weapon down upon Paul’s head, luckily the crippled ghoul scrambles out of the way, and a flurry of sparks shower the group as Redteeth’s weapon glances off the stone floor. Wilfric takes this attempted assault upon his ghoul personally, and cleaves through Redteeth’s arm. The severed appendage flops upon the ground. Foul ichor gushing from its stump.

Minerva, benedict’s ghoul owl, circles overhead, looking for an opportunity to strike, but sees no such opening. Benedict lunges at Redteeth from behind, but his punches glance off its fat hide. Wilfric senses Redteeth is struggling to cope with the unexpected ferocity of the assault and launches a punishing assault upon the monstrous creature. With a huge effort he rams his bastard sword through its throat, neatly separating its squat head from its foul body.

The creature collapses upon the ground, a flood of rotten ichor spilling from its corpse. Chunks of fat and rotting meat float in its foul blood. Some of the braver members of the party decide to sample its blood. They find it makes their Disciplines easier to perform or more effective.

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Session 8

Wilfric is troubled by strange dreams – he witnesses the farm building burning again, but this time he is in the fields behind the back of the farm compound. He is not alone; something is there – watching him.

Upon waking, he discusses this with Benedict. Meanwhile, Maria chats with Brother Yackmann – the monk she met a couple of nights ago. He has nothing new to tell her.

Benedict asks Japeth if they may conduct a summoning of a recently passed soul, to reassure him that the practice of Necromancy is not inherently evil. Japeth acquiesces, and arranges a Necromantic summoning in the catacombs of the monastery. The spirit of a recently departed monk is summoned, and Benedict asks it some questions. He is happy to see for himself that the spirit is not in any pain or duress, and he feels reassured that the practice of Necromancy isn’t inherently evil. The spirit of the monk becomes agitated and imparts a warning to Benedict – that something is coming, something that disturbs the forces of the spirit world. He warns Japeth ‘beware the betrayer. Beware!’ before vanishing.

Wilfric returns to the Inn, to meet his sire for sword training. Marchettus the Bold presents Wilfric with one of his two bastard swords while they walk to the edge of the forest besides the Inn. Unbeknownst to The Founders, Benedict has been busy in the forest – he has summoned an owl (One of the animals that helped him track two of the founders to the farm compound), and Ghouled it by feeding it his blood.

As Marchettus and Wilfric began to duel, Benedict gave the word for his newly created owl to attack. It swoops down and attempts to attack Marchettus, but the powerful kindred easily avoids its swooping attack, before dealing it a wicked blow with his bastard sword. Wilfric was waiting for an opportunity to pounce, but he didn’t feel the time was right. Obfuscated, Benedict leaps upon Marchettus’ back and attempts to wrestle him to the ground. Marchettus easily throws Benedict to the ground, but the distraction is enough to allow Wilfric to deal a series of savage blows upon his sire.

Marchettus calls upon his reserves of will and stolen blood to deal with the wounds. As he prepares to deal a death blow to the prone Benedict, the wounded owl flings itself at him. This unexpected attack catches Marchettus completely by surprise – the savage creature uses its newly gifted strength to pluck an eye from Marchettus’ head. This grievous wound distracts Marchettus long enough for his childe to physically overwhelm him and drive a stake through his heart. As Marchettus slips into Torpor he balefully stares at his childe and managed to say ‘coward’. Wilfric drains his sire dry of the last vestiges of his vitae, then continues to suck, until he consumed the very soul of Marchettus. The corpse of his former sire withers into nothing more than a pile of dust, to be blown away by the wind. Wilfric and Benedict took his few worldly possessions, including his horse. As Wilfric consumes the soul of his sire, Benedict offers the owl enough of his blood to heal itself of the wounds inflicted upon it. He names the bird Minerva, and keeps it as his Ghoul.

During this time, Maria was stalking the night for prey of her own. She searches the lonely, windswept roads for something, or rather someone, that suits her specific needs. She happens upon a dying man lying in the side of a lane. He tells her that he is a disposed earl. He had been ousted from power by his brother many years ago. He was attacked by brigands and left for dead while travelling to a meeting of locals to build support for a popular uprising to restore him to power in the region of Galtre. Before dying, he tells Maria that his daughter is at the Inn of the Lion, his last request was for her to deliver his signet ring, the only worldly possession he was able to hide from the brigands, to his daughter.

Maria travelled to the inn. After talking to the nobleman’s daughter, she discovered that the young woman had no inkling of the identities of the people who were supposed to lead this uprising, or even her own uncle’s name. Maria decided such a simpleton didn’t deserve to live, and slew her – by consuming her life’s blood, and stealing her possessions; a beautiful hairbrush and hand mirror, and three exquisite ball gowns.
They return to the monastery, to sleep away the daylight hours in safety. But they are each troubled by powerful nightmares; Wilfric’s seems especially troublesome. Benedict and Wilfric discuss what they can do to resolve this puzzling problem, while Maria pretends she was unaffected. Benedict and Wilfric agree to return to the farm compound, to visit the site of their dreams. Maria feigns indifference. After they depart, she discreetly follows them from a distance.

When they near the farmland, Benedict sends Minerva the owl to search the area, but she doesn’t check the path behind them, so she is unaware of Maria. She sees nothing she deems important and tells her master so. Wilfric boldly strides forward, and Benedict obfuscates; all the better to watch his friend’s back. While keeping watch from his vantage point, Benedict spots an unexpected figure – Maria. He creeps behind and grabs her. She keeps her cool, swiftly grabbing him by the testicles and begins squeezing. After a tense moment, they agree to release one another.

Wilfric returns to the site of his nightmares, where he discovers a large old oak tree with a pagan alter carved into it. Figures crafted from straw and carved wood are scattered about the altar. Offerings of food surround the tree. Someone has desecrated the altar.

Behind the tree is a family graveyard. It is obvious that many generations of the farmer’s family are buried here. Wilfric calls the others over. They notice that the children they saw burned to death in the fire are not buried here.

Benedict begins digging up one of the oldest graves, as he is doing this he notices the wind intensifying in a most unnatural way. He stops digging, but the wind intensifies further still. He begins piling the dirt back on the grave, but the wind increases more and more. Benedict turns around and discovers he is standing in a field. Rows of plants bearing succulent fruit and vegetables stand either side of him, blocking his path. A large ominous figure stares at him from the distance. It watches him, waiting.

Wilfric and Maria find themselves in the same place, surrounded by rows of plants, being watched by the figure, but unable to see one another. Maria begins to consecrate the ground, but her attempts are stymied by the growing winds buffeting her, making it almost impossible for her to speak. Benedict experiments by walking backwards, then forwards, to see how the strange figure will respond. A heartbeat later, the creature stands behind him, his voice coming from the winds rustling through the undergrowth of the hedgerows.

The entity blames the group for what has happened to the farmers. It reveals that the family were pagans, that for generations they lived on the lands, worshipping the old gods and leaving many offerings. Since their children died, the family have lost their faith. They have turned their backs on the old gods, embraced Christianity and moved away – to escape the constant reminders of their loss.

The figure will only forgive the group if they perform three tasks. The first of which is to find a pagan family to move into the farm, work the land and honour the elder gods. He will not tell them what the remaining tasks are until the first is completed.

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Session 7

The Group take the opportunity to talk to The Founders. Wilfric spends the night chatting to Adana de Sforza, a powerful Brujah member of The Founders. Benedict seeks the council of Josef von Bauren, a small, hideously deformed Nosferatu. Maria searches the library of the monastery. While reaching for an interesting looking tome, she meets an old monk, Brother Yackmann. They begin a conversation about theology and Maria is able to glean some intriguing facts from the elderly monk. He tells her he is haunted by terrible dreams of a coming maelstrom. He feels that important facts about maelstroms are buried within the book. Maria takes the book with her and studies it whenever possible.

The group travel to the gypsy village Durga Syn calls home. She’s happy to see them, and feels vindicated that her premonition about the Group seems to be coming true. They take the opportunity to talk to her about many subjects, but crucially Maria does not ask her about Maelstroms. As such they do not learn the secrets the wise old kindred knows about them.

The Group travel to the Inn the conspiracy of Isaac use for their meetings. Frankie and Burtold take a disliking to Burtold’s sire – Sire Wenceslas. Frankie reshapes the hooves of the mounts of Lord Giovanni and Sire Wenceslas (to make them easier to track). Meanwhile, Wilfric nearly comes to blows with Frankie’s sire, the Imperious and Haughty Lord Miecyslav. Wilfric’s sire, Marchettus the Bold, steps in to try to calm things before they come to blows.

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Session 6

The Group search the farm compound. They find two buildings which they believe contain Members of the Conspiracy of Isaac.

They barricade the door of the older house, pile straw around two of its sides and Wilfric sets it aflame. Wilfric, Burtold & Benedict hear the sound of children screaming and sobbing, but choose to do nothing to help them, each finds justification for their actions.
Wilfric is able to overwhelm and murder Lady Theophana (with a little help from his cohorts). They also kill two of Lord Bajazet Al-Nasir’s ghouls.

The lady’s high dementation abilities leave Wilfric in a near catatonic state. He is rescued from approaching reinforcements by Benedict, who won the friendship of a horse who had been stabled in the farm. Benedict returned them both to the Cappadocian monastery, where monks tended to Wilfric until his abnormal mental state subsided.

Maria and Burtold make their own way back to the monastery on foot, and are able to arrive slightly before dawn.

Japeth Cappadocian makes an offer to most of the party, he is willing to teach many of them the founding concepts of the Road of Bones, Burtold and Benedict are also offered the opportunity to learn the first level of the Necromancy Discipline, and the Knowledge Thanatology (the practice of preserving corpses, and the metaphysics of death).

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Session 5

The Group dispose of the corpses of the Templars by hiding them so they will not be seen by any other travellers. They then travel onwards to the monastery. They are nervous about walking upon consecrated ground – how will it affect them now they are damned? They pluck up the courage to enter and eventually speak to Japeth. They deliver the message, a troubled Japeth feels the need to speak to his sire, cappadocious. The founder of the Cappadocians appears before them, and asks them for an act of contrition – they are to return to the site of the templar’s ambush and give them a Christian burial.

They return, and carry out this request. They are astonished to see the knight’s climb from their shallow graves and begin wordlessly praying. Upon returning, they are given an audience with Cappadocious himself. He speaks to them, but they are not reassured by his words.

Despite his reservations, Japeth agrees to the meeting with Claudius. Cappadocious will not allow a brother of the blood to be turned down in a time of need.

Frankie and Wilfric return to Casa Giovanni. Frankie gathers earth (which he needs to sleep because of his clan weakness), Wilfric searches the Castle, and discovers Paul, he survived his severe beating, but is dying. Wilfric gives him some of his blood, and Paul takes the first step towards becoming Wilfric’s ghouled servant.

Benedict and Helzabub talk to some local animals, convincing them to try to track the movements of the members of the Conspiracy of Isaac. The birds are able to lead them to an abandoned building. Following tracks left by their sire’s fellow Conspiracy members, they eventually come to a large farm compound.

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