“So, how do we approach this? Above? Below?” Pavel looks at the map.
“The sewers?” Dr. Barrow suggests, a little reluctantly. “And, er, what’s the protocol for waking an elder? Since we didn’t really discuss it last time.”
“I think... we let Enrico do it. Would he let anyone else?”
“Good point. Sound thinking. Knew I liked you.” Arthur nods.
“And if needs be, we can run away while the Cardinal eats him...” Dr. Barrow points out.
“I’m just not very keen on waking ancient sleeping vampires.”
“You’ve seen too many horror movies.” Arthur smiles, rather weakly.
Enrico now looks haggard and gaunt rather than actually dead, as he leads the way through a closed-off section of sewer, pausing at a rough wall, marked with a scratched symbol of a rat.
“The brood mother’s mark...” Dr. Barrow frowns.
“We should look around - ” Pavel starts, but Enrico starts pulling out the loose bricks.
He reveals a narrow, partially collapsed tunnel.
The group have to crawl through, one at a time.
Dr. Barrow advances carefully, gripping his bag - it’s full of blood bags.
And he would swear he can hear heartbeats coming from inside.
“Well, no quick way back. And if this tunnel collapses, no way back at all.” Pavel scowls.
They press on, looking warily at the tunnel ceiling.
The tunnel opens out into a narrow cave, more like a fissure.
A body in black and red rags lies at the bottom, curled up in rigor mortis.
Enrico climbs in, reaches to push back the ragged shirt... reveals a small, carefully cut off end of a wooden stake. It would have to be pulled out with pliers.
He leans back to let the others see.
Dr. Barrow instinctively clutches his own chest.
Enrico lifts the body with great care, as blood long pooled where it lay seeps out of tears in the papery skin as reddish black dust. He sets the body down, opens a clenched hand to pull out... a black feather, broken and tattered.
“He said this was like the cross to other devils.”
He takes it.
“Do we... wake him?” Pavel asks quietly.
“Not here. A safe place.”
Dr. Barrow is the first out.
“What are you doing here?” asks a rough whispering voice.
“Ahh... my name is Dr. Leonard Barrow. I am here with the sanction of the brood mother.”
The tall, imposing figure leans in, blocking the tunnel mouth with his bulk and resting clawed hands on the walls... revealing a deathly pale face and bloodshot eyes.
“I am called Loss.”
Arthur follows him out, then Pavel. Enrico stops, staying in the tunnel unseen.
“Loss? Ah, yes, we’ve heard of you.”
“This is your territory? We’re, ah, ready to be on our way. Would you like us to go?” Pavel smiles nervously.
“Do you have what you came for?” Loss asks quietly.
“Ahhh, yes. Yes.”
“Then tell Cairns she will not see me again. She calls herself ‘mother’ now. But she is no mother to me.”
With that, he steps back into the shadows, and is gone.
Enrico emerges, carrying a heavy burden with ease.
“How do we go?” Pavel asks. “Up, or by sewers?”
“The mother’s brood know the sewers better. She guided us here, but... maybe she just wanted us to do the hard part.” Dr. Barrow frowns, and every muscle in his face twitches a different way. “Come on... I made sure to note all the exits.”
They reach the van, looking around warily.
An owl sits on the roof.
Pavel draws his revolver and fires at it.
They run to the van, Enrico placing the body down in the back.
There are more.
“It’s in the trees! It’s coming!”
Owls slam into the windows, blocking Pavel’s view as he tries to drive, bleeding black over the windshield.
Enrico grips the feather and raises it like a shield. The black owls peel away from it.
“They’re still coming!”
“They’re like us, right? Vampires? The sun drives them off too!” Arthur says, trying to sound confident.
“At least we’re inside.”
“I can stay awake through the day...” Dr. Barrow says. “I just need blood.” He looks down at the bag.
So they drive until dawn.
The owls swoop away into the retreating darkness, or vanish like shadows themselves.
Enrico, Pavel and Arthur fall into a sleep like death.
Dr. Barrow rips open the first blood bag with his fangs and squeezes the contents into his mouth as he moves Pavel out of the driver’s seat.
He takes them to the warehouse where they caught Jonas and sits up through the day, emptying blood bags and making notes.
Pavel wakes first, to see Dr. Barrow slumped in a corner, surrounded by empty blood bags.
“We need to replace these. I don’t really have a plan for that.”
“You stayed up all day?”
“I considered calling the ghoul, but... that didn’t seem quite fair.”
Pavel stumbles to his feet and heads out, looking for a criminal he can feed to the Cardinal with a relatively clear conscience.
On the way, he calls Valia, and then Charlotte. Valia agrees to come. Charlotte thanks him for the warning.
Dr. Barrow finds a suitable pair of pliers in his bag, and Enrico slowly, carefully removes the stake from the Cardinal’s heart.
The Cardinal’s eyes open and he lets out a furious scream.