Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Vampire: The Requiem - Actual Play chapter 24

24: GO HOME

Lang puts a bullet into Pavel’s leg, bringing him down. “No more running, little vampire.”

Then a van slams into him.

“Get in!”

It’s Charlotte.

Pavel does what he’s told.

--

Lang rises as they go, forcing his broken arm and neck back into place.

--

Pavel starts making calls about the other things he needs.

“We need more owl feathers. Enrico gave me one, that means we have three... we need at least one each.”
“I know just the place,” Valia tells him.

--

Police on duty that night report the theft of a piece of d├ęcor from the Owl Tree bar.

--

Henry opens the door for Pavel and Charlotte, scanning the skyline for owls on rooftops.

“Once the sun rises we’re safe. They sleep deeper than you because they don’t have human minds wanting to stay awake.”
“Even the ones in living bodies?” Arthur asks as they sit around the front table.
“Looks that way. They don’t have much hold on them. Can’t feed them properly.”

Pavel finishes soaking the stolen owl feathers in his, and the others’, blood. Charlotte bites her lip and clenches her fists at the smell of Kindred blood.

“We have to leave these in the sun. Can you watch them?”
“Yeah, just... yeah.” She looks queasy and thirsty at once.
“Sorry, seems bleeding on things is something we do. Ironically.”
“It’s how this all started.”
“What else do you need before we can go?”
“One more thing. It’ll be hard to get.” Pavel grimaces. “And... I guess we should tell people.” 

--

Alvarez flips his desk over, cracking the top in two. He looks tempted to take the wooden shards and use them as stakes. He takes a deep breath, stares down at his hands.

“It seems I have a war to fight. And I have to depend on you to make sure it is only one, not two.”

He stalks out to a meeting room.

Elena, Leonetti, Surnow and C (who tonight looks like she’s about to pick a fight in a biker bar), and leaning against the rear wall, Walker.

Pavel retrieves one of the aged black feathers from his pocket, placing it on the conference table.

“Uh... the feathers of owls, with a ritual and soaking in blood for a day - not a night - will repel the Strix. But they won’t drive them out. For that... we have to go back to Carson City and cut their connection to the world. They came here from there... most of them, anyway.”
“And how do you plan to cut the connection?” Surnow asks, picking up the feather, turning it in her hands.
“The seer. The former ghoul. She should be able to work it.”
“Putting a lot of trust in a human,” Elena says quietly.
“I’d trust most humans more than most of us...” Walker murmurs, and stalks out.

--

On the way out, Pavel retrieves his revolver from a visibly shaken Karen, and discreetly hands it to Arthur. He palms the first black feather.

--

A shadow like an owl’s follows Pavel as he breaks away from the group and runs. Arthur chases after him, firing, hitting him in the back, which barely slows him, then runs back to the van.

Lang steps out of a shadow to one side of Pavel, and the apparently human woman who vanished from the house steps out at the other. Both of them have a fiery glint in their eyes.

“The Cardinal is wise to our tricks.”
“We don’t like that.” The woman steps closer, out of the light from a streetlamp, and vanishes, reappearing in the next.
“But we need him for now, to break this city’s back. Do you think the world will thank you for letting him loose?”
“But now you are wise. And we don’t need you.”

Lang steps closer. Pavel raises his hand, showing no gun. Palming the feather in the other.

“You’re right. I don’t want him in power.”
“A little late for wisdom. You woke him to stop us.”
“Let me help. I’ve been running from you for months now. I want to stay.”
“You want us to give you power?”
“And you’re Prince of my city by right. I’m not one of them. I can be yours.”

Lang smiles.

“You can.”

He opens his mouth wide.

Darkness rushes out.

--

Valia meets Carrie at the Alcatraz dock.

“Are you staying?”
“No. I have to make sure this is done. For now, take this.” She hands over the last black feather. “It’s... like crosses are supposed to be for us.”
“Thank you...” Valia smiles weakly as Carrie rests a hand on her arm. “I don’t have anything to give you in return. Something for good luck, but... our luck hasn’t been very good lately.”
“One thing for luck...”

They share a kiss before Valia steps away.

“Are you coming back?”
“If this isn’t the Cardinal’s city again.”
“Guess I have to help stop that, then.”

-- 

Pavel raises the feather and the black smoke coils away from it as Lang hisses and pulls back.

“Very clever.”
“We might have to eat your brain.”

Pavel runs. Lang swoops after him, and he snaps open a switchblade, cutting him across the cheek. 

The van pulls up, and Arthur throws the revolver back to Pavel as he gets in. He turns and puts a bullet through the woman’s neck and another through Lang’s kneecap.

-- 

Dr. Barrow sits in the back, looking at four bowls of dark blood with owl feathers floating in them. 

--

Lang drags himself over to the woman, and starts to drink from the hole in her neck.

--

Charlotte looks back at the five vampires sleeping in the van, then returns to driving through the short day to Carson City.

--

Pavel’s eyes open as the sun falls behind the buildings of the city. He looks at Lang’s dark blood on the switchblade, and at the feathers in partially dried blood.

Charlotte looks back at the vampire rising.

“Looks like some have absorbed enough blood and sunlight... some haven’t.”
“Enough for everyone?”
“One short. Including the old one you still have. I don’t need one as much as you all do, I’m harder to possess.”
“But you’re more important,” Valia points out.
“Then I guess you’d better look after me.”

Now they’re awake, she starts the engine, driving past the sign marking Carson City limits.

--

No sign of owls. Or of vampires. No-one in the Rack, no-one around Elysium, no-one in the old Prince’s house... And no-one in the forest clearing, with a small stone altar in the centre, used by the Circle of the Crone for rituals.

“A circle of fire, a circle of blood inside it. Burn the bones of an owl on the stone altar...” Charlotte trails off as she sees the altar.

The elder of the Circle lies on it. Still recognisable despite being a husk of blackened ash.

“Okay, we need to start the circle...” Dr. Barrow retrieves a handful of bags of blood. “Uh... clockwise or...”
“Clockwise! Definitely clockwise!”

Henry starts to pout a circle of gasoline around the altar, further out.

Charlotte claps a hand to her mouth as the body’s head turns and looks at her. The crone starts to rise, ash flaking from her as she moves. Her mouth drips blood, and smoke rises from her empty eye sockets.

“You told us she was dead...” Arthur gasps.
“She is!”

And all around them, glints of yellow light like embers from a fire... in the eyes of bodies that were once human, or once vampires.

“Draw the circle! Finish it!”

--

Shortly after nightfall further west, the canon hears a heavy knock at the door. Then the door bursts in, Enrico kicking it open. He stands aside as the Cardinal strides in.

“Destroy those who have sold themselves to their sin. Do not allow them to speak to you. Do not hear their lies.”

The Cardinal smiles as he starts to crush the canon’s skull with his bare hands.

--

Outside, Leonetti grimaces.

“Looks like the Cardinal’s done waiting. Do we move?”
“We wait for news.”
“Sorry, canon...”

And at the opposite vantage point, Lang watches the little church beside the Mission and smiles. A dozen black shapes shift and writhe around him.

-- 

Pavel empties his revolver into one of the dead, kneecapping him. He continues to crawl forwards.

Arthur claws his hands and a possessed vampire curls up in rigor mortis.

“How is she still moving? She’s ash!”
“She made a bargain for power... the one inside Lang was already here... it gave her some of its strength, even as it killed her...”

Henry swings a baseball bat, cracking a corpse’s head.

Dr. Barrow vanishes, reappears holding a tyre iron, swings at a dead man’s skull. “Let’s see if your head stays active!”

Charlotte backs away as the ashen body of the elder reaches out to her.

Valia steps in the way, holding her feather in front of her.

Charlotte runs for the stone altar, raises the owl skull over her head and smashes it down on the altar. 

The elder’s body falls apart, dark dust swirling on the wind.

The lights go out in every other set of eyes, and the bodies crash to the ground, collapsing to dust.

--

Hundreds of miles away, Lang winces, baring his teeth in pain.

All about him, the shadows start to disperse, as if a violent wind just caught them.

Suddenly alone, he stands for a moment, looks at the Mission and shakes his head.

Then he turns and walks away. Heading for the bridge, the highway... another city...

--

“So what now?”
Valia looks over at Arthur and shrugs. “I’m going home.”
“Don’t want to be prince of your own city?” Arthur asks with a chuckle.
“Not this one.”

Charlotte looks down at the stone altar, and the dust spreading on the wind.

“A city with no vampires sounds pretty good to me.”
“You saved the vampires of San Francisco.”
“I saved the people of San Francisco. Whatever else you are... you’re not as bad as them. Not all of you, at least.”
“Where will you go?”
“There are more of them out there. Other cities have fallen. Other people need my help.”

She looks up at the sky. Clear, for now.

Pavel steps over to stand by her. “Then they need our help.”

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