13: YOU CAN’T MAKE ME
“So, this potential source is a ghoul...”
Alvarez looks over Pavel’s report (which on paper avoids such terms).
“She left the city the day of the attack. Checked herself into rehab.”
“In Reno. Not technically an enemy, but not an ally either. I cannot guarantee safe passage.”
“Yeah, we would rather not - ”
“ - cause a political shitstorm,” Arthur interjects. “As far as I know I’m the only member of the Circle who made it out, that’s the best claim we have on her.”
Alvarez gives him a “that’s pretty thin” look.
“And there’s stolen property as well, a tablet...?”
“Yes, we stopped someone else stealing it from the stolen goods seller, and, erm, stole it.” Pavel looks at his feet.
“The translations are... rather worrying.”
“Yeah.” Arthur nods.
“So we didn’t break the tablet open and unleash ancient evil.”
“... I appreciate it.”
Alvarez grimaces at the X-ray of the small stone owl head and puts the file down.
“Question. How badly do we want this?” Arthur asks. “What can we provide?”
“I’ll see what I can do. Can you travel during the day if I provide a driver?”
“How long have you worked for Mr. Alvarez?”
Anton the driver shrugs. “A few years now. It hasn’t been any worse than driving anybody who needs protection. Easier in a way, less traffic to route around at night.”
“And the fact he’s a vampire?”
“I’ve had worse.”
It’s getting dark as a van reaches Reno, and fully dark as the van with tinted windows pulls up outside a ‘gentleman’s club’ at the edge of the city. The bouncer directs them to the pool tables.
What appears to be a man of about thirty looks up from the table and adjusts the grip on his cue, like he might have to use it as a spear. At the bar behind him, a large man with a jagged scar on his neck observes.
“New in town?” asks the vampire at the table.
“We’ve come to make a request.” Pavel steps forwards, palms out to show he’s unarmed.
“We felt it polite to ask.” Arthur follows suit.
“I’m glad you did.”
“We’re from Carson City.”
The vampire looks up.
“Good of you to say so.”
“We got out before... and so did a ghoul, who came here. We’d like to bring her back into the fold.”
“So she’s been under our protection for a while now. A potential threat to our little secret.”
“And we’d like to offer a small gesture of our appreciation.”
Pavel picks up a copy of his file, places it on the table. The vampire looks through it.
“This is some quality doublespeak here, Officer... a science report?”
“One of us will recognise the infection if he sees it.”
“And if you have any local werewolves...” Arthur adds.
The vampire nods to the other, who has been silent throughout.
“Bobby here’ll go with you, check your story out at the clinic.”
“That’s fine,” Pavel nods. Doing his best to look casual.
Arthur gives the attendant a winning smile and assures him that he’s family, and yes it’s after visiting hours but surely he can make an exception.
Charlotte Donnelly is already looking right at Arthur when the door opens. She’s lying on a gurney, in soft restraints.
“You can’t make me go back.” She glares at him. “I was safe here. Another few weeks, sedated when it gets bad...”
“You’ll be safe with us. Trust me.” Arthur pushes out his Majesty.
She narrows her eyes and looks away.
“We both know that’s not true.”
“Yeah, well, the locals know about you now, and they don’t have a reason to keep you alive.”
She curls her lip in disgust. “Better sign me out then.”
She has only a messenger bag and the clothes she arrived in.
“So. Homeward bound?”
“We’re not going to Carson City,” Pavel assures her.
They share a wary glance.
“How did you know to get out?” Arthur asks.
“How did you?”
“One of the Circle...”
“The elder’s eldest. Good, she passed it on. There was some private...” She pauses and looks sidelong at Pavel. “And you saw it too. Did you see the eyes in the dark?”
“I... don’t remember.”
“The smell of dust?”
“We’ve noticed it since.”
“So they’re on the move as well. You didn’t need me to tell you that.”
They lead her to the van.
“I’d prefer to sit at the front. I can see the sun.”
Bobby calls this in, and lets them go.
Charlotte doesn’t flinch when she sees Dr. Barrow. He looks her over.
“You’re in withdrawal.”
Arthur watches her thoughtfully, and starts to roll up his sleeve.
She flinches away. Shivering. Pupils dilating, licking her lips involuntarily.
“We need you capable.”
“You need me clear-sighted. When I drank from the elder, for a week or more, all I could see was her. And you need me to see what’s coming...”
He lets it go at that, and lets her sit in the passenger seat as the vampires get in the back.
She looks up as they drive off, at the telegraph poles and streetlights.
At an owl sitting on a rooftop.
Alvarez helping make arrangements and giving the PCs a driver is a reaction to the Prince (or other powerful NPC authority figure) who forces the PCs to take on a vital mission and provides no help at all.
I’ve had a ghoul trying to escape the addiction before. Is she telling the truth about being a ghoul affecting her visions? Maybe.