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Blood & Bourbon

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Caroline II, Chapter III

Daytime Intruder

“I killed you, I brought you back, and I can do it again.”
Caroline Malveaux

Sunday afternoon, 6 September 2015

GM: Caroline abruptly starts from her slumber. Her body is numb with pain, as if it’s getting pinpricked with a hundred needles. Instinct screams to flail, but her arms won’t move. Then she feels blood shooting through her arteries. Her paralyzed limbs tingle and grow flush. It feels like a heart attack in reverse.

She is still in the closet, swaddled in blankets.

She hears heavy footsteps from beyond the door.

Caroline: Who the hell is in her room? Staff ignoring the ‘do not disturb’ on the door? Someone else? She listens closely, even as she reaches out in the darkness for her purse. She draws out her neat little 9mm.

This really isn’t how she wants to start her night.

But she’ll be damned if she’s going to be a victim again.

GM: Straining her ears, Caroline concludes there is only one intruder in her suite.

Caroline: She waits for the steps to move further away, perhaps out of the room. Bag in hand, hand on firearm, firearm in bag, she pushes the closet door open with one foot.

GM: The footsteps recede after several moments, tromping off into the suite’s other room. Caroline gets the door open, painfully conscious of the loud creak. The intruder hasn’t turned on the lights. It’s nearly pitch dark with the room’s shades drawn. Caroline, though, sees without impediment. It’s like her eyes have been adjusted to the dark for all her life.

The rest of her doesn’t feel nearly so at ease. She’s hot. She feels like she’s in a heated room with the windows closed and no A/C during summer. The room isn’t quick ransacked-looking, but someone has obviously been moving things around.

Caroline: Something’s wrong. Several somethings. No phone. Can’t even check the time.

She resists the urge to curse. She slides back against the wall of the closet instead, waiting to see if they come to investigate the creak.

GM: Caroline does not have long to wait. Foosteps sound again. Then a sharp, quick creak as the door jerks open. The room’s lights flip on. The man in front of her is tall, thick-necked, and wide-shouldered. His bald head and mirrored shades further add to his imposing appearance.

Caroline recognizes him. He’s part of her Uncle Orson’s personal security detail, outside the supervision of Roger Ferris. Ex-FBI. Nominally to provide personal protection, much like Alphonse is nominally a driver. In practice, he’s also a ‘problem solver’ for issues the archbishop wishes quietly taken care of.

“There you are,” he growls. His voice is low and thick, like a pit bull’s.

Caroline: Caroline stares at him, putting on her best blank stare.

“Here I am. And there you are, in my room. Can I ask to what I owe the pleasure?”

GM: “You got your uncle real antsy over that disappearing act you pulled last night, kid.”

Caroline: “What disappearing act?”

GM: “You’re coming with me,” the ex-FBI agent states.

Caroline: She snaps to laser focus. “Someone has a high opinion of themselves.” Her tone has completely changed. This is not the sweet college student, or the conversational young lady. This is her ’I’m better than you voice.’ The voice you use on a disobedient child or disrespectful subordinate. It’s cold and hard.

“What time is it anyway?”

GM: Yet for all the menace of Caroline’s voice, she cannot help but recall this man is her uncle’s man. He pauses for an instant, then seems to recall it as well. He reaches into the closet to grab her arm.

“Two o’clock.”

Caroline: She tries to jerk away from his grab. “Fuck off.”

The profanity must seem so bizarre coming out of her mouth to him.

“What are you thinking? You’ll drag me out of here kicking and screaming like a child? That’ll go over well when I scream for help in the lobby, you creep. I’m sure Uncle Orson wants a scene.”

GM: The man growls as he fumbles after Caroline.

“The archbishop wants you home, kid. You can walk out. I can drag you out. You’re coming out.”

Caroline: “Or you can treat me like a Malveaux and carry word back to Uncle Orson that I’ll stop by to speak with him this evening. And remember that while he’s the archbishop to you, the man who cuts your checks, he’s ‘uncle’ to me, and I’m the oldest niece.”

GM: The ex-FBI agent brusquely grabs Caroline by her arm.

He clearly has his orders.

Caroline: Fear instinctively flashes through Caroline. She’s been manhandled by a larger and stronger man twice in the last day.

She twists against him, trying to fight against his hold. Her bag falls away as the two wrestle.

GM: Caroline finds the big man’s grip quite implacable now that he’s gotten hold of her. He pulls the Malveaux heiress to her feet and out of the closet.

The room’s stifling heat is even worse outside. It’s like baking in an oven. Caroline’s eyes instinctively dart to the light peeking through the edge of the room’s curtains.

Caroline: She loses control. It completely slips away in a heartbeat. Suddenly, it is very, very dangerous for the man to be pulling her towards him.

Teeth flash. She goes for the throat, now a predator rather than victim.

This bag of blood thinks it can control her? It thinks it can lay hands on her?

GM: Caroline’s savage action takes the ex-FBI agent, clearly only expecting a disobedient college girl, completely by surprise. Her teeth sink into his neck with two sharp punctures. Shouts distantly sound. Meaty fists beat against her back. She feels none of it. She only feels hot blood on her tongue and fire in her veins.

Caroline: His fists are nothing. His shouts are nothing. There is only the blood. One doesn’t stalk prey for the fun or the beauty of the victim. It’s for the reward. The payoff. Her fangs rip his neck open further, trying to get more of the blood free.

GM: Flesh audibly tears beneath the vampire’s canines. It’s strange how Caroline seems to hear that more clearly than the man’s screams. Red flies everywhere as she gnaws her prey like a wild dog.

Her ecstasy is rudely interrupted when she feels something hard slam against her chest, throwing her off the man. She stumbles backwards. He draws a suppressor-tipped handgun, aims, and squeezes. There’s a sharp bark. The bullet takes her square in the chest.

She barely feels anything.

Caroline: He missed? Caroline wouldn’t have time to think about it even if she were herself. He tried to shoot her! She leaps on him in a rage, a blind frenzy…

GM: The bleeding man squeezes off another shot as Caroline lunges at him. His aim is high. It clips the side of her head. Pain explodes through Caroline. Red spatters the carpet.

That one hurts.

The man pistol-whips Caroline over her head wound. She crashes to the floor. He’s barely standing himself, though, after what she did to his neck. His white dress shirt is soaked red. He hesitates for a second, as if deciding whether to flee or finish her off, then gambles on the latter.

His mistake.

The next slug in Caroline’s gut hurts about as much as a punch.

Caroline: Rage. Fury. Fear. Fury, mostly.

She springs to her feet and closes the distance against him even as her unholy body repairs itself. It’s a strange thing to survive being shot in the head—or would be if she was thinking rationally.

GM: Caroline all but flies towards her adversary, slamming him back-first against the wall. He might be stronger, bigger, but he’s barely standing. And Caroline isn’t just fighting for survival.

She’s fighting for her fix.

The ex-FBI agent doesn’t even have time to scream before she goes for the throat. One quick, grisly tear, and the big man goes down with a heavy thud. His gun slips from limp fingers. Red flows from the second smile across his neck. Caroline laps it up with feverish glee.

Caroline: Caroline looks down at the man, fighting with the Beast inside her. There’s a bit of terror still there, directed at herself. What is she?

Still, her eyes are drawn to the blood flowing from the man’s wounds. It’s like an addict staring at their fix. It is an addict staring at their fix.

Her medical training says he’s going to bleed out on the bedroom floor. God knows she has experience, too, after last week.

She’s not actually a doctor. She never took the Hippocratic oath. But saving Yvonne felt right. Failing Sarah was shameful. Failing this man would be shameful.

On the other hand… she wants it. She wants to literally suck away his life.

GM: Caroline’s victim stares up at her dumbly. One of the lenses on his mirrored shades has been smashed in. A closed eye stares blindly through. His chest feebly rises and falls. His face is white as a sheet. His neck is an angry red mass of gashes and shredded tissue. Blood freely pools over the hotel carpet. The odor is like fillet mignon to Caroline’s nose. Animal want tugs at her heart. She could take just a little.

The hotel room’s stifling heat is no more comfortable than it was a minute ago. In fact, it feels even hotter. Caroline isn’t sweating, but she can see the skin of her knuckles turning dry and flaky. It’s like she stuck them in hot sand during an already blistering day.

Caroline: Caroline stares at the blood for a long moment before finally snapping out of it. She grabs her uncle’s man by the shirt and drags him into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. She pulls her toiletry bag off the counter and digs out her first aid kit.

She knows the neck wound is bad. Maybe worse than she can treat even with what she’s got. Still, she’s not going to let him die—or worse, suck him dry—without trying to save him. She did at least that much for Sarah. Whatever she might be, she’s not a killer. She’s not a monster.

She digs out a packet of QuikClot as a start and gets to work.

Maybe this time she won’t half-ass it.

GM: The scene feels too much like the police station. Caroline can see Sarah’s face staring up at her from the man’s remaining mirrored shade. Sarah, who might be brain damaged. Sarah, who might never wake up normal. Sarah, whose family wouldn’t be beside themselves with grief and worry, if the almost-med student had only worked her first.

This time, Caroline knows beyond a shadow of a doubt: it will be her fault if this man dies. Carson won’t give her any comforting assurances. He won’t tell her it was another monster’s fault. The monster responsible is here in the room.

But this monster is trying to do something about it.

Caroline liberally applies the hemostatic dressing to stop the man’s bleeding. There’s no foreign object to worry about. All she has to do is apply pressure and follow Dr. Crawford’s advice: “Pack gauze into the wound and keep packing gauze into the wound until no more goes in. Then pack some more gauze into the wound.” Caroline packs in as much as she can, then applies pressure. She waits the three minutes she’s supposed to, counting off the seconds.

Her would-be abductor’s unconscious face is still white as a sheet, but he’s stopped bleeding. Lucky for him. On more than one level… Caroline isn’t sure how long she could stare at pooling blood before losing control. Her nerves are already ragged from the smell.

Still, the almost-med student knows, this man can’t lie on her bathroom floor forever. This is the point where she’s supposed to start transport, obtain IV access, and immobilize or splint the injured area if there were any broken bones. Those might not be a concern, but the gashes on the man’s neck need stitches. Maybe skin grafts. Definitely a blood transfusion, after how much he’s lost. He needs a hospital.

But Caroline can already feel herself growing weary. Silk sheets and a fluffy comforter don’t look half so inviting as the tile floor, right now.

Caroline: Caroline forces herself to fight through the fatigue. Part of her distantly wonders if this is adrenaline. Do such things even apply to a dead being?

She looks down on her attacker and weighs the odds on keeping him alive until nightfall. Not good… and there isn’t exactly anyone she can call about this. Not with the blood splattered across the other room, and her own wounds…

She runs a hand over those injuries, and their exits, while she thinks. Even as she does so, they begin to close at her attention. She has to stop herself from gaping. It’s such a bizarre feeling…

GM: A second later, Caroline’s pale skin is whole and hale, with only dried blood and holes in her clothing to mark that she was ever injured. A faint tink sounds from the tile floor.

She looks down and sees a flattened, red-smeared bullet.

Caroline: She pockets it for now—a bizarre souvenir—and contemplates her position.

She can’t call for help. Roger Ferris and his people would clean up the blood on the walls, along with everything else. But they’d have questions she couldn’t answer. So would her uncles after Ferris’ team reported back.

The man is unlikely to make it until nightfall. That’s too many hours away.

She weighs her options—none—and lets her mind float through possibility and legend. Could she help him in some way? Her blood has already demonstrated abnormal healing properties. There’s no harm in trying.

Or little enough, for a dying man.

She draws out one of the razors from her medical kit and makes an incision along the side of her hand between the pinkie and wrist. It’s a nonthreatening wound. Is there such a thing as a truly threatening one to her now?

She opens the unconscious man’s mouth, hangs her wrist over it, and lets the blood flow.

GM: Soul-deep weariness tugs at the night-old vampire. She can instinctively sense this is not her kind’s time, but she soldiers through the fatigue.

Red drips over the man’s tongue. A few drops stain his teeth. He gives no response. Caroline wonders if pop culture was wrong.

The transformation is almost startling in its abruptness when he jerks upright, seizes Caroline’s wrist with a vice-like grip, and clamps it to his mouth. Moanful shudders course through him. He sucks from the vein like a babe at its mother’s teat.

Caroline: She tries to rip her hand away from him, backpedaling.

GM: The man barely seems to register his injuries. He’s clamped onto Caroline’s wrist for dear life. He moans like a bull in heat as he sucks down the healing ambrosia.

Caroline: Caroline recoils as though she’s been shot—an expression with less meaning given that she’s actually been shot by the man.

GM: Caroline feels an instinctive fury well within her. This fucking meatsack would dare claim her blood for his own? He is nothing—it should be she who feasts on his!

Caroline: She finally shoves him off and retreats as far away as she can. She hides in the corner of the bathtub.

GM: The big man groans, a sound tinged with despair as much as pain. He crawls across the tiled floor on his belly towards Caroline.

“M… ORE…! You… bitch… give me… MORE…!”

Caroline: Caroline’s eyes flash with anger to match the fury of her Beast. This thug. This brute. She stares at him with burning hunger.

It would be such an easy thing.

“Welcome to my hell.”

GM:YOU FUCKING KILLED ME BITCH GIVE ME MORE!” he screams. He clutches at the bathtub’s rim with blood-smeared fingers to haul himself up.

The act of speech sends him into a fit. He chokes and sputters, further blood leaking from his pale lips.

Caroline: Something within Caroline roars in protest, but she wraps it in iron chains. It’s the same iron that fills her voice as she stands to her feet.

“That’s right. I killed you, I brought you back, and I can do it again. Adjust your tone.”

GM: The man feebly clutches at the pant leg of Caroline’s pajamas as she steps out of the tub.

“I’ll… I’ll call off your uncle… just… more…”

Caroline: “That goes both ways, Mr….”

GM: He hacks weakly.

“Pax… ton.”

Caroline: “Blood from blood, Mr. Paxton. I can’t give you what I don’t have.”

GM: He kneads Caroline’s pajama leg in his fist, as if he can wring further blood from the cloth.

“L… liar…!”

Caroline: “Contain yourself.” She jerks her leg out of his grasp. “You painted the bedroom with my blood. You have no one to blame but yourself.”

GM: His fingers continue to open and clasp. He dribbles blood over the bathroom tiles.

“You… fucking… bit me… open…”

Caroline: “And you shot me in the head. After invading my room and trying to drag me out of the hotel.”

GM: “You… were… kill me…” He hacks. “Still… are… the fuck are you…”

Caroline: “That is my problem.”

She tries not to focus on the weak beating of his heart. The fight took a great deal out of her, the wounds more, and his theft…

“But if I wanted to kill you, you’d have never woken up.”

GM: “More… last… chance…” he hacks deliriously, clenching his red-smeared fist.

Caroline: Caroline scoops up his discarded firearm off the sink.

“Last chance? Who the fuck do you think you are? You shot me in the head and I shrugged it off. You think you can threaten me?”

It’s the hunger and that raging part of her, she realizes, the same part that can think of nothing but her next meal. All the same, she’s suddenly furious. Why bother trying to save him? a voice asks.

GM: Paxton rolls over, facing his back toward Caroline. She can see his arm move, grabbing at something in his clothes.

Caroline: She levels the firearm at him, moving to the other side of the room again.

“Don’t try it.”

GM: The second seems to stretch for an eternity.

Caroline sees a cellphone clatter to the tile floor.

Caroline: “Just sit the fuck down, Mr. Paxton, while I try not to rip out your throat. Come nightfall we can sort all of this out.”

Sort it out? the voice inside laughs. How are you going to sort out being a vampire and literally ripping out a man’s throat?

To say nothing of the poor girl from the night before. Two nights, three lives already changed forever.

No. Four lives, counting Sarah.

GM: Silence is Caroline’s only answer.

Caroline: “Kick it over.”

The gun stays where it is.

GM: Paxton weakly jerks his foot. The phone scuffs over to several handspans away from Caroline’s feet. The name on the screen reads “boss.”

Caroline: She picks it up and sticks it on the counter next to him.

“We’ve got some time. Why don’t you explain why my uncle was so eager to see me, and how you found me. What you meant by ‘disappearing act.’”

GM: Paxton hacks again.

“Said you’d… disappeared… from Decadence… brother Gabriel… told him… heard from… some friend… of yours… weren’t at home… calls not reaching… fuck’s sake… kid… just wants… make sure… all right…”

Caroline: Caroline nods. It does make sense.

“You could have come back later.”

GM: Paxton gives a bloody snort.

“He said… bring you back…”

Caroline: “Bad luck. Bad timing.”

GM: Paxton hacks again.

“Won’t be… last… come in… you know what’s… good for…”

Caroline: “I’d planned on it. You’ve made it more complicated, though.”

GM: The sarcasm in the ex-FBI’s agent’s voice is audible even through his coughing.


Caroline: “If I leave you here with your phone, what are you going to do?”

GM: “Call… 911…”

Yeah, Caroline realizes. Them and her uncle.

Caroline: She doesn’t bother with the pretext.

“What are you going to tell him?”

GM: Paxton is silent for a moment, then states,

“Evr… thing… get a… job… I see it… through…”

Caroline: “Including the part about you pulling the gun on me?”

GM: He hacks again. “Self d… were… gonna… kill me…”

Caroline: “I’m sure he’ll believe that. His niece bit you so badly you had to shoot her.” She raises an eyebrow. “Big strong former FBI overcome by a girl.”

GM: “He’ll find you… he’ll… see… the hell you are… freak…”

Caroline: “He’ll see what? He’ll see that his employee has lost his mind.”

GM: Paxton hacks again. The smell from his mouth, and neck, is beyond tantalizing.

However unlikely his claims may be, it’s plain that something happened to him.

“Fuck… this… kill me… or… lemme call…”

Caroline: “How about an alternative?”

GM: Paxton coughs some more.

Caroline: “You’ve seen what I can do… including put you back together. I’ll make this right, you keep quiet… the details. To everyone.”

GM: “H… how…?”

Caroline: “The same way I saved your life.”

GM: “More…?”

Caroline: She nods.

GM: His mouth opens and closes.

“N… now…”

Caroline: “Tonight.”

GM: “F… fine… lemme… call… hosp…”

Caroline: “And tell them what?”

GM: He hacks angrily.

“That I’m… dying…!”

Caroline: “You won’t die.”

GM: “You’re… crazy…”

Caroline: “But not wrong. Just…. let me fix this. Focus on something else.”

GM: “You a… doctor…?” His tone is half sarcastic.

Caroline: She smiles. “Close enough. Closer than you.”

GM: “Then patch me… up… doc…”

Caroline: “I already did. Didn’t you notice?”

GM: Paxton hacks again.

Maybe he hasn’t, after the alternating pain, ecstasy, and deprivation he’s been in.

Caroline: “Not as good as a hospital, but you aren’t going to bleed out while we wait.”

GM: “Get… to it…”

Caroline: She smiles. “I’m getting to it faster than you think. In the hospital that wound will take weeks. Stop crying. I thought you FBI guys were supposed to be tough.”

GM: The ex-agent is still tough enough to flip her the bird.

Sunday night, 6 September 2015, PM

Caroline: Hours pass. Caroline takes advantage of his phone to check some news coverage. She gets him a cup of water from the faucet. She waits. It’s an awkward silence broken by his bloody coughs.

GM: Paxton doesn’t make any attempts at conversation. With his phone and gun in Caroline’s hands, though, it doesn’t seem there’s much the ex-FBI is willing to try. The hours crawl by.

Caroline: She does her best to keep her distance from him. Hunger gnaws at her. She knows what she needs. The only question is how she will get it. What she will do for it. Where she will go…

GM: Caroline can’t see it in the bathroom. But when it comes, she feels it like a great weight being lifted from her shoulders. As if she were inhaling a whiff of fresh air after being cooped inside a hot stuffy room all day. As if she’d just pulled an all-nighter and then swallowed a caffeine pill.


Caroline: “Get up, Mr. Paxton. Get away from the door.”

There is a predatory gleam in the her eyes, like the reflection of light on a feline’s eyes in the dark.

“Be patient. I’ll be back.”

She takes his phone, takes the firearm, and props up a chair under the doorknob when she goes to barricade the door. If he was unharmed it might be an easy thing to beat the door down, kick it in, but that’s unlikely after how savaged he is. She changes out of her bloodstained clothing and heads out.

GM: Paxton sourly moves to do as Caroline asks, though he crawls rather than gets up as he relocates himself from the door. His glare follows the newly-turned vampire as she locks him in.

Caroline finds a metal tray and lid containing the hotel’s complimentary continental breakfast as she leaves. Pastries, fruit pieces, yogurt, and coffee, the last long since gone cold, and all of the items indigestible in any case.

The staff inquires as to the satisfaction of her stay on the way out. They ask when she would like housekeeping to service her room, as the D&D was up all day.

Caroline: She declines the cleaning and leaves the D&D on the door. She otherwise brushes off their questions. Just another too-busy rich client.

She starts her search once she’s out of the hotel. Bar. Dive. Somewhere she can find someone. Some player, frat boy, someone who wants to get her alone or take her away. She’s had hours to think about this. How she plans on doing it, what she’s looking for…

GM: Decadence may be all but over, but the city sneers and spits at that notion. Hundreds of bodies are packed into the Bourbon Heat like sardines, writhing and undulating to pounding club music. Caroline can smell their lust and sweaty desperation. The pungent musk is no less prevalent at the bar. Sharply-dressed, cool-eyed human predators leisurely pick out victims from among the throngs. Other partygoers stare at the dance floor with drooping eyes and pounding skulls. How many drinks get laced? Some of the predators molest them in plain view of the crowd. Others half-lead, half-drag their prey away to bathrooms. Pulsating blue and red lights ghoulishly illuminate yelling, laughing, sneering faces.

The Bourbon Heat feels like the entire club in microcosm. It knows that one day, it will be too old to indulge its appetites. Better to dance, drink, and fuck its way to an early oblivion.

Caroline: It’s startling how quickly Caroline has divorced herself from the disgust such vulgarities would have elicited from her even a day ago. She feels… disconnected. It’s like watching animals breed. Lewd, but not profane.

She recognizes the predators all too clearly now… and singles out her own victim from among them. Play the victim, the lion in sheep’s clothing. Good luck to the wolf. Good hunting either way.

Clubber.jpg GM: Caroline’s victim is a brash-looking punk with frazzled, semi-spiked red-brown hair. His bare chest is draped with chains and Satanic amulets. A too-small leather jacket decorated with metal studs covers his arms and shoulders. He wears skeleton costume gloves over his hands, tight leather pants crisscrossed with safety pins, rusted nails, and black combat boots. His face looks young enough to be here and old enough to fear the day he won’t be. She can see it in his eyes, past the facade of aloof indifference. He wants to live forever, to dance and drink and fuck his life away until the end of time. But he knows, like everyone on the dance floor, that his time is limited.

Everyone but for one damned soul, perhaps.

Caroline: The dance they dance, the game they play. The setting of the hook. Eye contact lasting a moment too long. A shy smile. A giggle. A whisper in the ear. A door slammed open. His warm lips on her cold skin. Her icy lips on his hot neck. A storage closet? It doesn’t matter. They’re alone, and she needs this so badly. A harsh kiss on his neck as his hands roam her body is joined by just a prick of teeth.

GM: Caroline’s witless victim hauls her to the club’s bathrooms. There’s a line of couples impatiently waiting outside. Moans, whimpers, and even muffled screams sound from within. No one does anything. No one cares. Caroline’s partner snarls with impatience, pulls a jagged-looking knife, and
starts shouting he’s going to “open up” anyone who doesn’t get out of their way, “like Bloody Jack.” He kicks the door open. He grabs the crying and delirious-looking girl inside and literally throws her out on her rear. The tattooed punk copulating with the girl curses profusely. He looks for a moment as as if he wants to deck Caroline’s partner. Then he yanks the girl’s hair and resumes penetrating her in full view of the crowd. She screams into his hand and weakly struggles as he pounds her ass. Effete goths snicker with amusement.

Caroline’s partner doesn’t pause to look at the scene. He pulls her into the bathroom. The toilet is an overflowing cauldron of filth missing half its seat. There’s no paper on the roll except for shredded bits someone has thrown all over the floor. The brown, near-black walls are coated with foul-smelling stains Caroline can’t identify. Graffiti reads, “Kill me,” “I’ll stop laughing once you stop screaming,” “You’re not a slut—says nobody,” “See you in hell,” “Faggot,” “I know where you live,” “Fear the end,” “I once fucked a six year old,” “Wolves know wolves,” “I once fucked my dad,” “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow,” “Good,” “You can’t hide,” “It’s coming,” and “Kill the jews.”

Caroline’s date barely registers the squalor as he shoves her against the sticky-feeling wall. His tongue hungrily explores her mouth. She can smell the sweat slick against his leather jacket, comingled with the odor of cigarettes and desperation. He roughly undoes her pants and pulls down her underwear. His hands run along her waist’s naked flesh.

Caroline: She lets out a fake cry of pleasure at his touch, attention all the while on something far different. Her teeth break skin, blood fills her mouth, and suddenly her moans of pleasure are not so faked. It’s better than sex, better than drinks. She loses herself in the feeding, loses herself in the experience.

It’s a gradual thing, like the slow climb to climax. Rather than rip and tear as before, she simply drains… and drains… and drains. It’s the longest beer bong hit of all time as the blood fills her mouth without stop. She finally forces herself to break away, to tear herself from him. He’s grown weak and she can feel his heart laboring. The flow is less steady. His body is shutting down. Still… it’s difficult. She lick around the wound even as she breaks away, desperate for that last drop.

GM: There’s nothing fake about her victim’s cries. He loses himself in sweet surrender, humping against her leg as he moans for more. If he can’t live forever, he’ll die in bliss.

As the vampire withdraws her fangs, the man slumps against the filthy, graffiti-strewn wall. He sinks to the floor like a deflated balloon. He head dully smacks against the offal-crusted floor by the toilet. His face is pale as a sheet and frozen in a rictus-like grin. A low whisper escapes his smiling lips.

Caroline: She leaves him in his filth. He’s a big boy.

Caroline throws her pants and panties so they hang over the divider between stalls. She pushes open the broken door of the next stall over the cursing punk as he works his ‘charm’ on his victim. She lays a hand on his shoulder, another suggestively placed between her legs. “I need you…” she whispers in his ear, trying to lure him away from the crying girl.

GM: Half the man’s face is covered in a mask of grim tattoos. Half his head is shaved, to better show off his inky designs. The other half is styled into nail-like spikes. A black steel chain set with a padlock is clamped around his neck. He wears a red bandanna, further chainlinks over his denim jacket, and lapel pins depicting grinning skulls.

His victim is a short, spiky-haired girl whose lips and cheeks are covered with metal studs. She wears a similar torn black denim jacket to her assailant’s and a low-cut top with some band names Caroline can’t make out. Tattoos crisscross her arms. A spiked dog collar hangs around her neck.

Clubber.jpg The next couple all but shoves Caroline aside in their haste to enter the now-open stall. A second couple fights them to get in. That lasts a moment before they seem to give up on any pretensions of modesty and head in together.

Onlookers roar at the vampire’s lewd proposition. Some call her a whore or slut. Others leer and whistle. Several try to grab her. Caroline’s next victim punches one in the nose, sending him staggering back as blood sprays from his face. Then he punches his own victim in the throat. She gags over the stained floor. People descend on her. Caroline can’t see what happens next as the tattoo-faced man pulls her into the next stall. Coarse hands hungrily fondle her breasts.

Caroline: She encourages him, drawing him in. What is carnality when there is blood? She pulls him close, whispers, licks, kisses, encourages. She buries her face in collar as he tries to penetrate her. Again, there’s little flash of teeth. It’s even easier this time.

GM: There’s soon more blissful punctures. The man is soon a quivering mass of flesh-putty in Caroline’s grasp. He moans for more with flushed cheeks. His crotch bulges before a wet stain appears. Caroline leaves him on the filth-crusted floor in an unconscious heap. Some animal part of her purrs with satiation.

Caroline: Caroline rides that pleasure once again. She rides the thundering beat of his heart. Once again, she draws back only when she feels the heart start to weaken. Once again, it takes strength to pull away… but not as much as last time. She licks the wounds closed, having observed the effect on the first victim. A helpful trick.

GM: The girl bursts into the stall, now topless and missing her shirt and jacket. At the sight of her violator’s still form, she falls on her hands and knees, desperately shaking him to stir, to wake up. She looks up at Caroline through teary eyes and shrieks profanity at her.

Caroline: Caroline turns on the girl, pulling her up and out of the stall’s worst filth. She maneuvers behind the girl as she moves to help her out. There’s that kiss again, that soft touch, that flash of teeth.

GM: The girl tries to swat off Caroline at first, then kicks and bites when her newest assailant doesn’t relent. But she succumbs to the ecstasy of the vampire’s kiss no less swiftly than the two men before her. She moans like an animal in heat as she grinds against Caroline’s leg and gnaws her ear.

When the vampire finally withdraws, she grabs the other woman and screams, “Kill me! FUCKING KILL ME!”

Caroline: Caroline smiles, utterly satisfied at last. She leaves the raving girl in the bathroom with her rapist and his brother in arms.

She’s lost too much time already. She has an appointment to make.

Sunday night, 6 September 2015, PM

GM: It’s several hours later by the time Caroline returns from Bourbon Street to her hotel room. Paxton’s phone has rung several times throughout the night, and rings again as Caroline parks her car. The caller ID reads “boss.”

Caroline: She passes on the calls for now. They need to get their story straight.

GM: Caroline swipes the key card to her room door. The bathroom door has been forced open. Paxton lies face-down on his stomach in the bedroom suite.

There’s a large red stain underneath him.

Caroline: “You idiot.”

She glares down at the unconscious man before recovering the razor from earlier. There’s another slice. More blood trickles into his mouth. The entire operation is…. businesslike.

GM: Paxton does not respond to the blood. His face is appallingly absent of color. He looks horrible. Caroline can barely feel a pulse from his meaty neck.

When the blood finally takes, he looks as if he’s having a heart attack. He gives a great, wheezing gasp. He falls upon the vampire’s wrist like a starving man before a banquet.

Caroline: She lets him drink for a long time—far longer than last time. When she draws away, it’s just as forcefully.

She is giving him a gift, not submitting to some demand.

GM: As before, Paxton does not relinquish Caroline’s wrist. Forcing off the badly wounded man proves child’s play for the sated vampire. The ex-Bureau agent moans with despair.

“M… m… more…”

Caroline: “Why?” She looks down on him with scorn.

GM: “F… u… you…”

His shirt is so stained one would think it was dyed red.

Caroline: “I told you to wait.”

GM: The man dully stares at her.

Caroline: “Twice you’ve ignored me. Both times you nearly ended up dead. Do you begin to see a connection?”

GM: He spits blood at Caroline’s feet.

“Y… re… sick… f… ing… freak… monst…”

Caroline: “That’s right, I’m a monster, and you’re sucking at my wrist like a child on a teat. What does that make you?”

GM: “Th… s… hell…” the pale man wheezes. “K… ll me… or… ge… me out… no… more… th…”

Caroline: “No more?” She waves her wrist in front of his face. “You don’t want any more of this?”

GM: “F… ing… SICK!” he spits, blood trickling down his chin.

He hasn’t cleaned himself. The skin is already crusted over with coppery-smelling red. The new trickle resembles a volcano oozing over a previous eruption site.

“N… MORE!”

The man’s chest heaves. He crawls away from Caroline on his hands and knees. Towards the room door.

Caroline: “Mr. Paxton…” the heiress murmurs quietly.

GM: Her uncle’s man doesn’t turn back.

Caroline: “I want to thank you.”

GM: His red-smeared hands shakily clasp the doorknob.

Caroline: “You’ve taught me a great deal about what it is… to be what I am.”

She leaps upon him before he can move any further.

GM: Slamming the barely-alive man to the ground is child’s play. His moan is so low it’s barely audible. One savage tear of her fangs, and Paxton’s head hits the carpeted floor with a muffled thud.

Caroline: Blood flows as she latches onto him, sucking the life from his reopened wound. A valuable lesson.

They’ll never accept you if you don’t respect and fear you.

Nine hours ago, she was trying to save his life. Minutes ago she still was… but she is no girl anymore. Not even the heiress. This man is no kin to her. He’s a tool, and a broken one.

GM: Caroline drinks deeply. She drinks from him like a hummingbird from a flower. She drinks until he is completely empty and she is swollen flush with stolen life.

Paxton does not scream. He does not protest. He does not struggle. His blank eyes stare dumbly at the ceiling.

Caroline: The slow beating of his heart grows slower still. There is no good answer here. Only a necessary one.

He’ll never do what she wishes. She can’t save him from himself.

GM: The dead man’s phone buzzes again from her pocket.

Caroline: She leaves the phone be, drags the body into the bathroom, and hauls it into the bathtub. A dozen trips to the ice maker on the floor later, and she’s buried him. Anything to keep the smell down until she can figure out what to do with the corpse. She leaves the D&D on the door as she slips out again, past the smiling and tiled lobby, and back into the night.

She’s full, flush with life and strength. The life blood pumping through her veins almost makes her feel normal, until she thinks about how she got it. Her victims. Poor Mr. Paxton, dead in a hotel bathtub. She’s a murderer.

She shakes the thought away and makes her way back towards her home. It’s too late to get a phone. She’ll have someone arrange it. She needs to touch base, see if she can cool down her family’s hunt. No more hounds busting in on her in her sleep.

For their sake, and hers.

Sunday night, 6 September 2015, PM

GM: Caroline drives home without any undue difficulties. The Blackwatch mercenaries boredly wave her through Audubon Place’s gated perimeter when they see her ID. “That wasn’t so fucking hard, was it?” asks Hall before Johnson snaps at her to shut up. The snarly fury of the leashed attack dogs is impotent against a car window.

Caesar’s reception is only marginally friendlier. The mastiff growls low, ears flat against his head, and does not once take his eyes off his owner. Caroline finds little else changed in her home, save for several further messages on the landline. Aimee, Gabriel, and Carson have left numerous worried calls. They express hopes that nothing bad has happened. All of them ask (Aimee and Gabriel fairly plead) for her to call them back.

Her uncle Orson has also left a single message.

“We will find you, Caroline. No matter what it takes.”

Caroline: She frowns. Of course that’s what he’d say. Orson has always been controlling to an extreme. She’s certain he’s furious about the whole Southern Decadence matter.

Did he have anything to say when she put the Whitneys and Devillers in the family’s debt? Of course not.

She gets up and pours some food into a bowl for Caesar before leaving him downstairs alone. She punches up Aimee’s cell on the landline and hits dial.

GM: The phone rings only once.

“Hello, Caroline,” her uncle’s voice sounds calmly.

Caroline: “Uncle Orson. I could have sworn that I dialed Aimee’s number.” Her tone is friendly enough.

GM: “You did, niece. I thought you might.”

Caroline: “Two birds with one stone, then. You were my next call.”

GM: “It’s been some time since your last visit, Caroline. I trust that you remember my address.”

Caroline: “A girl should always know how to find her way home.”

GM: “You have fifteen minutes.”

The line clicks off.

Caroline: It’s a mark of good breeding that she doesn’t chuck the phone across the room. Instead she gathers her bag and heads out the door. Of course he’d have to be a prick about it.

Caroline doesn’t drive often—in fact, she took a cab home. But that doesn’t mean her family hasn’t provided for the need. The 2013 Aston Martin DB9 is a bit ostentatious for her tastes, but it was a gift from her uncle—the non-terrible one. Even as a hand-me-down (he upgrades his model every year, though he rarely drives), it was an extravagant gift. Not that she doesn’t appreciate the precision engineering right now.

She pauses to dismantle Mr. Paxton’s phone for now, hiding it in a ziploc bag under a stone in her landscaping. The car door slams. Tires scratch. In total, she’s on the road within three minutes.

As she drives, Caroline has a moment to think on how quickly events have been moving. Less than 24 hours ago everything seemed so simple…


Pete Feedback Repost

I think I owe you two weeks.

Feedback 11/13

Talk about getting thrown into the deep-end. Newborn vamp gets her room invaded by a dangerous armed man during the day? Youch. Still, it created a fun and challenging encounter, and gave me a good intro to combat. I was surprised at how brutal the critical fail was (3 lethal? Wow!). Overall a pretty fun learning experience, and definitely threw my plans for a loop. Should have asked for a check to negotiate with him before combat started though, and would in the future. Overall you threw some really big wrinkles into my plans, but fun ones. I’m continuing to get more comfortable with the system, though I don’t anticipate a lot of combat going forward. Really a tenuous position though with very low vita left relative to wounds and such, and the possibility of someone bursting in to investigate gunshots is… troubling. Hope she stays awake?

Feedback 11/20

Well, that was interesting. I’m not sure if I super love the nature of the feeding mechanics. While I appreciate the simplification it provides, that it doesn’t neatly allow for hopping onto other targets of opportunity provided is a bit bothersome to me. Not the end of the world, but I thought I’d mention it because it really stood out as hard lining amid an otherwise largely freeform system. I suppose you could argue it just simplifies what would have otherwise been checks to convince home-boy facial-tattoo to go along.

The penalty on subsequent checks struck me as odd, and I didn’t see it in a cursory glance at the rules. Can you give me some more insight on the purpose / planning behind that? Just doesn’t make that much sense to me in a large city. Maybe in Podunk where there is a very limited supply of victims.

Felt the feeding setup though sets a pretty good MO for her going forward (though perhaps not leaving two people drained).

Said when she came back to Paxton being an idiot and nearly dead, but I suppose failures have to have consequences. He went out in a bad way. Still, while I might have liked having him hang around, he served a purpose or three in his life and death.

Her uncle’s call was pretty menacing. I’ll be interested to see where this goes. Have to figure Caroline feels pretty invincible right now with full vita for the first time and knowledge that gunshots aren’t exactly fatal. Biggest danger in her mind going forward has to do with finding a good explanation for this. I’ve got a running thread going that involves some anticipation / planning, but I’d rather see where this goes in the initial before committing to it. Overall fun stuff.

Broader Feedback

Really enjoy the Beats XP system, which hands them out relatively liberally and ensures that every scene can have some degree of meaning, since beats are independent of “experience points” or other similar systems. Question though, how much Experience can you “sit” on? Do you have a more formal protocol for spending it (e.g. you need downtime, etc)? Anything special I should know?

Also, would it be inappropriate to ask for a Willpower refund for feasting until full in the bathroom, in keeping with her Mask, or has that ship sailed?

Caroline II, Chapter III

Calder Feedback Repost

I felt Paxton was a good introduction to the game’s combat system for you, both in how the rules themselves work and how beings within the World of Darkness fight each other. All of Paxton’s combat-related dice pools were higher than Caroline’s, but he wasn’t expecting a fight with her. The fact he could only deal bashing damage and you could deal lethal meant, effectively, you had double Health, all before vampiric healing powers. The surprise round and benefits of frenzy (+1 to all rolls, grapple and damage in the same action) also didn’t help Paxton out. A dedicated vampire hunter using a sword (or who simply tore off the room’s curtains) could have made quick work of Caroline in the same situation, even if he had identical stats to Paxton. The game’s combat system is less complex than PF’s, but tactics still go a long way. Paxton’s tactics against Caroline were objectively bad (if through no fault of his own, he wasn’t a vampire hunter) and they cost him the fight.

Regarding feeding scenes, one thing to bear in mind is that they can be handled two different ways:

The first is organically via in-game events. For example, Paxton. He showed up in your room, circumstances made it convenient for you to feed on him, so you did so. We used full game mechanics there.

The second is compressed into hunting scenes. You roll your dice pool, and if you succeed, you get 2-7 Vitae from a willing victim (exact amount depending on how badly you’re willing to hurt them). If the GM describes other victims being present, they’re window dressing: an hour-long hunting roll netting 2-7 Vitae is just how the system works. Of course, one can also feed on those victims during the same scene with another hunting roll, and external circumstances will result in another hour going by. I was pretty satisfied with our solution there, as it preserved the game’s mechanics but still made sense narratively. We might also try using a houserule next session where a hunting roll simply gives 1 Vitae per success rolled, spread across as few or as many victims as the player describes, and the player can choose to net further Vitae by making a Humanity roll (to represent killing a victim or committing other immoral acts in order to feed more fully).

Vitae is the game’s main resource mechanic, so the penalty on successive rolls is there to put a little heat on PCs and ensure they can’t simply go off hunting whenever they run low on blood—or at least, that doing so will provide diminished returns. It’s also meant to represent how if characters continue to feed in the same area, hunting becomes more difficult (e.g., picking up two girls in the same nightclub is harder than picking up one), or how if they relocate somewhere else, doing so is a minor impediment to their game.

What would Caroline have done with Paxton if he’d done as told and stayed in the bathroom?

I’m glad you’re enjoying the XP system. Giving players a regular stream of XP they can immediately spend on stuff is a lot more satisfying than leveling up a couple times per adventure.

Protocols for spending XP are addressed in the new wiki page you inspired me to create. So far as sitting on unspent XP, I don’t make too big a deal beyond requiring that it be spent by the next downtime interval. Caroline’s starting 4 Merit dots, though, I will mandate allocating by the time she knowingly first meets other Kindred (well, other than Rene).

Feedback is a more than okay time to ask about regaining Willpower (as it’s meant for reflection of in-game events), but in this instance, the bathroom-feasting doesn’t net any. Your Mask is how you interact with mortals in a mortal capacity, and feeding is a Kindred activity (i.e., falls under Dirge instead).

Oh, and add 2 Beats to your sheet for 2 weeks of feedback.

Caroline II, Chapter III

Pete Feedback Repost

Caroline’s tentative plan with Paxton was to heal him up and then use him to get her uncle off her. E.g., he calls in, says he found her goofing off in some way (with a boy maybe), and they go in together that night to meet with him. Thereafter she didn’t have any plans (though I had a hope of ghouling him given that he was a big scary man).

Caroline II, Chapter III
False_Epiphany False_Epiphany