“So. Yer the source o’ all this ruckus.”
Friday night, 8 April 2016, AM
GM: 4717 St. Charles Avenue is a gigantic 4-story stone mansion with grounds big enough to be a public park. Even on the millionaire’s row that is St. Charles Avenue, the property dwarfs its neighbors. Elevated on an earthen terrace, the two-and-a-half-story house is built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style with warm-hued beige limestone and a red tile roof. The walls themselves are striking, with stones that are coursed but vary in size and surface treatment across the principal facade, whereas the gables, chimneys, and subsidiary walls are laid in random patterns. Across the front, the one-story porch, with a row of wide arches outlined by huge voussoirs and supported on squat columns, provides a deep, shadowy transition from the dazzling marble steps to the interior.
“It’s us,” the still-bleeding man grunts into an intercom. The gate swings open to admit Victoria’s car.
It clangs shut behind.
Grim-looking men lead Victoria through the palatial house. It is easily the most luxuriant property she has ever stepped foot inside. Rare and expensive-looking ‘flame’ mahogany covers the interior, along with antique tapestries, stained glass windows, and mantels that look from the 1700s.
They come to a stop in a luxuriously appointed living room. Richly upholstered, gold-decorated furniture, persian rugs, and classical portraits dominate the surroundings. Two crossed cavalry sabers hang over the empty fireplace, along with the portrait of a dashing, square-jawed, blond-haired man dressed in the gray uniform of a Confederate military officer.
Most prominently displayed is a family tree with names and genealogies that trace all the way back to Caine. It’s a shorter tree than others Victoria has seen, partly because each name only has one rather than two ‘parents’ listed above it. The genealogy (of the house’s master?) proudly traces back,
Pierpont McGinn (e. 1886)
Troy Hansen (e. 1838)
Alejandro Rojas y Batiz (e. 1445, d. 1862)
Decimus Titus Optatus (e. 210 AD, d. 1454)
Etewoklewes (e. 1100 BC, d. 245 AD)
Medon (e. 4000 BC, d. 900 BC)
Ventrue (e. First City, d. Second City)
Enoch (e. First City, d. Second City)
Caine (e. Genesis 4:1)
Victoria: Victoria has known wealth only through her clients. She’s never been to their homes. She’s never met their families. She’s seen their cars; though, only those crass enough to bring their favorite toys to her humble neighborhood.
This is excessive.
It even smells excessive.
The fledgling stops before that family tree, examining it. It only takes her a moment to process the fact that one parent is missing because vampires only require one parents.
Is it pride in his lineage? Or does lineage matter?
“Caine… the brother of Abel?”
GM: “I suppose that’s the first thing you haven’t gotten wrong,” says a young woman who strides through the double doors, high heels clicking against the hardwood floors. She’s a slender-figured, blue-eyed strawberry blonde wearing a pale blue dress and pearl necklace. A crow sits perched on her shoulder and caws at Victoria.
Victoria: Her eyes flit to the woman, then the crow, then back. She holds out a hand.
Is that how vampires greet each other?
Is she even a vampire?
GM: The woman stares at Victoria’s hand as if she’s just been offered something dirty.
Victoria’s escorts depart. She is left alone with the woman, who makes no move to speak with her.
Victoria: She drops her hand.
“Are you a vampire?”
GM: The woman inspects her nails.
Victoria: Victoria falls silent, her eyes scraping the walls.
GM: The woman rises and opens the doors. Two figures stride in.
The first is a tall, steel-jawed Southern man with dirty blond hair. His white skin is deathly pale and his chalky blue eyes burn with a predatory intensity. He looks like he smiles a lot, but they feel like hard smiles. Cruel smiles. Smiles like a cobra flaring its hood. He wears an immaculate white seersucker suit and white dress shirt contrasted by a jet black necktie. His gray leather shoes look like the thousand-dollar kind worn by politicians and business executives. A gold Rolex sits snugly around his wrist. He does not walk so much as swagger, lord of all he surveys.
Lots of things give it away. The total lack of heartbeat from his chest, that pumps from the woman’s. The aftershave-like scent of blood. Just the way he looks. The way he carries himself. A wolf among sheep. Those things and a thousand other little things make it instantly apparent to Victoria:
He is… like her.
The other figure, a woman, looks little kinder. She’s just as pale as the man, but with dark hair that makes her deathly complexion stand out all the more. She’s beautiful, with high cheekbones and contemptuous, icy features. Unlike the grinning, swaggering man, the woman’s perfect lips do not look as if they have ever smiled. Her gray eyes survey Victoria like a piece of meat. She wears a slim-fitting but conservative black and gray dress. Jewels, tastefully understated, glint from her throat and ears.
Victoria can instantly tell that the woman, too, is like her.
The man lazily plops down on one of the couches, casually stretching and claiming the entire space. The woman gracefully sits next to him. Very close next to him. She surveys Victoria like the other woman is something unsightly scraped off the bottom of her shoe.
The blonde woman, who Victoria is now positive is not like the other newcomers, stares at her and loftily proclaims,
“Kneel in the presences of the Honorable Lord Pierpont McGinn, earl and regent of Uptown, councilor of the Prima Invicta, commissioner, and fellow of the Most Noble Fellowship of Artemis…"
“…and the Good Lady Adelais Seyrès, viscountess of Magazine Street, councilor of the Prima Invicta, librettist, notary, speaker, harpy, and master of the Guild of Nemesis.”
Victoria: It’s become more apparent to her, that lack of tell-tale thumping in the breast; that herald of warmth and wet and salty-sweet nourishment. One doesn’t often consider a heartbeat. Not beyond close moments with a lover.
The silence is oppressive. She doesn’t need to ask if they’re like her.
Victoria’s eyes flit from the smiling man to a woman who seems to see her as evenly as if she were a smear on her otherwise pristine floor.
She’s like her, too; and yet, nothing like her.
With effort, she keeps her words in check, sealed behind taut lips.
It becomes harder to control at the playwright’s proclamation of a greeting; and yet, they seem quite serious.
They’re just like her; and yet, nothing like her.
This isn’t her New Orleans anymore.
She kneels, dipping her head.
GM: “So,” drawls the man.
Pierpont McGinn, if the woman’s greeting is anything to go by.
“Yer the source o’ all this ruckus.”
The woman—Adelais Seyrès—merely stares at Adelais with a look of icy disdain.
“What’s yer lineage, girl?” asks McGinn.
Victoria: She looks up, but doesn’t rise, meeting his gaze.
“You don’t mean my parents, if I’m to judge by your lineage above.”
“I… don’t know.”
GM: Adelais stares at Victoria as if she just confessed that her mother ruts with dogs.
Victoria: She looks to the woman, then back to Pierpont.
“I take it that my current state is usually a more earned, deserved, or otherwise intentional affair.”
GM: Pierpont snickers faintly and shakes his head, as though observing something so pitiful it’s funny.
“Tell us everythin’, darlin’,” he drawls.
“How ya were turned.”
“How ya got here.”
He leans forward.
“All the ruckus you caused along the way.”
“Startin’ with the last thing ya remember alive.”
He makes no move to invite Victoria to sit.
Victoria: She begins with an uncertainty.
“I don’t remember if the last thing I remember alive is a real memory. They were… toying with hallucinations.”
GM: “Then start with those, darlin’. Do kindly start with those.”
Victoria: “I remember… feeling like I was being followed. Almost all of the time. I remember answering the door—and fighting someone; someone impossibly fast.”
She feels stronger, but not quite so blindingly fast.
“I remember waking up. Seeing someone I love tortured in front of me. Being asked questions about me.”
She takes a breath.
“And then… waking up in a hotel room. Like this.”
After a moment of silence, she adds, “I’d been earning the ire of a certain powerful family. I thought they wanted me dead—so I don’t know who did this to me.”
GM: Adelais shoots Pierpont a withering look.
Pierpont drawls, “Bash your head ’gainst the floor ’til ya break yer nose.”
Then Victoria does.
The floor rushes up. Hardwood smashes against her nose. It hurts.
She pulls away. Then the floor rushes back up. She hears a crunch. She feels a crunch. She watches her body, like a marionette dancing to a puppeteer, mindlessly smash its face into the floor again and again, while she helplessly watches, a prisoner in her own flesh.
And she feels a rage, primal and burning and mindless, well up inside her like lava from a volcano. Screaming. Howling. Like a ravenous wolf at the door, snarling and biting and pushing against whatever self-restraint she turns against it.
She feels, too, as her face smashes again and again onto the red-specked hardwood, that she might try to hold it in.
Or let it out.
Pierpont grins from ear to ear.
Victoria: A moment hangs following his words where she considers following his command of her own will. She doesn’t have a chance.
Fire burbles up inside her, and—just as she did when Anna was assaulted so long ago, and just as she wanted to when Anna was threatened with a knife—she wants to let it out; to allow her rage to reign free; to take Pierpont’s head in her hands, and smash his face into the floor over, and over, and over again, until the pool of his life dwarf’s her own.
But she knows better.
She knows that she’s still a small fish in a pond whose bottom she can’t even imagine.
Even if she’s a durable fish.
She holds that rage in check, shaking with the restraint of it. Blood pools down her mouth as she regards him, silent.
GM: Pierpont, Adelais, and the now-seated human woman stare down at her.
“Well, well, well,” drawls Pierpont.
“I s’pose ya ain’t a complete animal.”
“Do not be premature, Lord Pierpont,” Adelais says critically. Her voice sounds every bit as contemptuous as Victoria imagined it would.
“It was still a dull-witted answer so lacking in context as to be useless to a listener.”
“Aye, ’twas still a piss poor answer, Lady Adelais,” the man idly agrees, before shifting his gaze back to Adelais.
“So try ’gain, girl.”
He grins, displaying his fangs.
“Or we can get ta the fun part o’ this early.”
Victoria: The rage burns, but as her mind catches up with her emotion, she begins to feel more: fear.
Why did she do that?
He spoke, she obeyed. No question. No consent. No room for disagreement. Input, output.
He can do it again.
He will do it again.
She begins to tremble.
“Th-that’s the truth! I wanted revenge—revenge on the Malveauxes, for their part in harming people I love,” she half-stammers, half-growls. Emotion tears out of her with that word, more fear than fire.
“They took me at my house—or so I thought. I—I was told that it was all in my head! Honest! My last living memories are of being followed, and exactly what I said.”
She bows her head again, as if it’ll save her.
GM: “Yer gabbin’,” declares Pierpont in an annoyed tone.
“Break e’ry finger in yer right hand.”
Victoria: She tenses, waiting for it to happen.
And then it does.
Her left hand takes her right index finger, snapping it ninety degrees to the right with the nonchalance if she were instructed to pour him a drink.
Her screams fill the hall.
Her fingers look like they were slammed in a car door moment’s before a highway pileup.
She wants to puke, but holds it back. She’s durable, but that doesn’t stop the pain.
Or the rage.
Or the fear.
“The last memory I have of being alive is being tied to a chair being interrogated!”
Is that to the point enough?
GM: “Tell us how ya got there, girl,” drawls McGinn, barely looking up as her fingers break. “Tell us the whole story. A ta Z.”
“If I don’t like yer next answer, we’ll be a makin’ a trip downstairs, hear?”
“You won’t like that none too much.”
The human woman smirks.
Adelais just stares contemptuously.
Victoria: And so she recants the story, from start to finish, pausing only to clear the blood from her mouth. She tells them of her plot to take revenge for what happened to Anna and Christina, of the series of meetings to make it a reality, of coaxing Jordan into abducting the priest, of Jordan’s subsequent episodes, and her attempts to save him, and of her strange encounter with Adam Malveaux, and the downhill journey thereafter—leading up to her hallucinations, the encounter at her house, the torturing interrogation, and waking up covered in excrement in her new life.
GM: The three patiently listen. They don’t interrupt with questions. They don’t tell her to break more fingers. Or say she’s coming downstairs.
Victoria supposes that is something.
“See, girl? I knew ya could do it,” Pierpont smiles indulgently.
“Now, let’s have everythin’ that came afterwards.”
Victoria: Still shaking, but not wanting any more fingers broken—or worse—she continues on to describe her adventures as a newborn vampire. She describes her bits of experimentation, her attempts to keep herself reigned in, her wanderings and subsequent murders—which she admits some guilt for, though tempers that with the knowledge that “they weren’t very good people”—finding Anna again, and eventually coming back to their house.
GM: “So,” drawls McGinn when she’s done.
He looks at Adelais.
He smiles, removes an old-fashioned flip phone from his breast pocket, and tosses it into Victoria’s hands.
“Call yer lil’ kine toy and tell ’er to git over here.”
Victoria: “Kine toy meaning… Anna?” she clarifies, flipping open the phone.
GM: “If she’s the one ya told ya were Kindred to, I most surely do, darlin’. I most surely do.”
Victoria: If the color could drain from her face, it would.
She dials the number, if only to show she’s obeying.
“What will you do to her…?”
GM: “A lot worse, if I’ve got ta send someone ta bring ’er over.”
Victoria: She presses the green phone immediately.
GM: “Hello?” asks Anna after picking up on the unfamiliar number.
Victoria: “It’s Vic. Listen, I need you to come somewhere—don’t ask why, don’t ask anything. Just come, okay? And when you come, be very respectful. Understand?”
GM: “Okay,” Anna says slowly. “Where?”
Victoria: “4717 St. Charles Avenue. Be quick.”
GM: “Okay,” says Anna.
“I trust you.”
She flips the phone closed, handing it out to McGinn.
GM: McGinn offers Victoria one of the coldest, cruelest, most shark-like smiles of her life as he accepts it back.
Victoria: She’s dead. Anna’s dead. In that moment, she knows it.
GM: “Yer future’s gonna depend on somethin’ now, girl,” draws the other vampire.
“Yer lil’ kine’s, too.”
Victoria: She listens intently.
GM: “You’ve left me a great fat stinkin’ mess, see.”
“And ya done left it on ma land.”
Victoria: “How can I make it right?”
Her hand trembles. The pain hasn’t deadened.
GM: “How considerate o’ ya ta ask, girl,” says McGinn.
“How considerate o’ ya indeed. I suppose the last one couldn’t e’en be assed ta ask, now could she, Lady Adelais?”
“No, Lord Pierpont, she could not,” answers the icy-faced woman.
There’s a glint to her warmthless eyes that wasn’t there earlier.
That wasn’t there before the call to Anna.
Victoria: “My lack of understanding does not grant immunity to wrongs on your land. I want to fix it.”
GM: “Well, how could ya fix it,” drawls McGinn.
“I s’pose ya could cover up e’ry one o’ yer killin’s, neat and tidy with no police askin’ questions, pay me fair recompense fer the vessels o’ mine ya killed, and silence e’ry hospital staff member who knows ‘bout that livin’ dead patient they treated.”
“Oh, and ghoul or kill yer lil’ kine.”
“After ya pass the blood test.”
He sounds more amused at the prospect of Victoria doing all of those things than serious.
Victoria: She looks as if he just asked her to speak a dead language and dance a Mesopotamian mating dance.
GM: McGinn snickers.
“I s’pose we’ll do that now. Violet, if ya’ll be so kind?”
The human woman rises and approaches Victoria with a glass.
“Bleed inta that,” says the other vampire.
Victoria: “Is my broken nose blood sufficient?” she asks, taking the glass.
GM: “If ya can get it in the glass,” drawls Pierpont.
Victoria: She leans her head over the glass, tipping her nose down toward it such that it flows from the tip.
The pain there hasn’t deadened, either.
GM: Violet takes the glass and passes it to Pierpont.
“Yer unlife’s gonna depend on how yer blood tastes ta me, girl,” smiles the other vampire.
“Yer lil’ kine’s, too.”
Victoria: Lovely. It’s out of her control.
GM: He holds the glass for several seconds.
Then he tips it back and drains it.
He’s still afterwards.
Victoria: She stops breathing.
GM: Time stretches.
Pierpont and Adelais look at one another.
“Again,” says the female vampire in that same imperious voice.
Violet passes the glass back to Victoria.
“Fill it,” says Adelais, as if Victoria is too stupid to understand.
Victoria: She does as commanded, without complaint or question, then hands the glass back to Violet. She looks to the two, waiting on continued lack of breath.
The silence in her chest is deafening.
GM: Violet hands the glass to Adelais.
She sips it next.
Then she sets the glass down.
She surveys Victoria with an eye that it would be generous to describe as critical.
Victoria: She knows better than to so much as think of asking.
GM: Pierpont smiles.
“I suppose ya can think of yer result as… inconclusive fer now, girl.”
Victoria: She swallows the baseball in her throat.
“What does that mean, my… what do I call you?”
GM: “That means we don’t kill ya right now.”
“But we might later.”
Victoria: They can do that whenever they want. ‘Not now’ is as good as anything.
GM: “Ya’ll call me Lord Councilor, and ya’ll call the Lady Adelais, Lady Councilor.”
“Are you capable of using those forms of address?” Adelais asks critically. She sounds genuinely doubtful that Victoria can.
Victoria: “Yes, Lady Councilor.”
GM: “You may still be put to death, of course,” says Adelais. “Your breaches of the Masquerade remain most egregious.”
Victoria: “You have my sincerest apologies, Lady Councilor. I’ll do anything to make it right. I… didn’t know, and that doesn’t excuse my behavior.”
GM: “What could an ignorant fledgling like yourself do?” asks Adelais. “Lord Pierpont enumerated your offenses. All you could manage was a dull look that would not have been out of place upon a bovine chewing its cud.”
Victoria: Her face tenses. What leverage does she have?
She looks to the Lord, pleading, then back to the Lady.
“I am a woman of my word.”
GM: “If a child gives its word, does that mean it can reproduce the paintings of the old masters? Your word is worth only what it is capable of delivering us, and you have offered us no reason to believe that is not, in fact, precious little,” says Adelais.
Pierpont just grins and watches.
Victoria: It’s the same as Christina.
Victoria shakes like the last leaf in winter.
“I’m—I’m good at getting people to give me what I want. I’ve made my living off it. I tarnished the Malveaux reputation over it. That’s why they were so upset with me. I’m not sure I can do everything you wanted, but I’ll damn well try. What else can I do?”
GM: “Entertain us,” drawls Pierpont.
“When yer lil’ kine gets here.”
“Yer gonna turn her inta yer slave, darlin’.”
Victoria: It takes more effort than she wants to admit to restrain her smirk.
GM: “We’ll probably kill her too if we kill you,” Pierpont casually continues. “If we can’t find a buyer for ’er.”
“Unlikely, Lord Pierpont. She has not even been broken in,” says Adelais. “What Kindred would pay for an untrained, newly blooded ghoul?”
“True ’nough,” says Pierpont. “Maybe we’ll give ’er away fer free, if ya really beg.”
Victoria: That unsmirked smirk dies in a pit.
“H—how will you know? If we’re to die.”
That’s her answer: better death than slavery to anyone else.
GM: It does not appear lost on either vampire.
Pierpont grins widely.
“Oh? Ya wouldn’t like us ta find ‘er a nice owner, if’n it won’t be you?”
Victoria: “No, Lord Councilor.”
GM: “And why e’er not, darlin’?”
Victoria: “Because she’s mine.”
And just like that, more leverage handed to them.
“She’ll listen to me. She always does.”
Most of the time.
GM: “Ya’d rather kill ‘er than let anyone else touch ’er. Because she’s yers.”
Pierpont lets that hang for a moment.
Then he barks a laugh.
“Well, well, well, girl. I suppose ya ain’t all bad.”
“Yer still gonna pay mightily fer what ya done to me, o’course.”
Victoria: She nods. That much, she knows.
GM: “But if we kill you, yer lil’ ghoul will die too. I give you ma word.”
He smiles magnanimously.
Victoria: “What is a ghoul, Lord?”
GM: “Bash your face ’gainst the floor a few more times,” orders McGinn.
“Then tell me what ya did wrong.”
Victoria: Her face crashes into the floor, this time against her forehead.
The thud is sickening.
The second is worse.
She picks her face up, streaming blood.
“I addressed you with the incorrect title, Lord Councilor.”
GM: Pierpont grins widely, showing his fangs.
“Now jus’ look at that. Ya can be taught.”
Victoria: “Yes, Lord Councilor.”
She won’t make that mistake again.
GM: “Am I not generous, ta offer ma word o’er yer ghoul?” he asks. “Ya didn’t sound none too appreciative.”
Victoria: It didn’t click at first. He did give his word.
“That was very kind of you, Lord Councilor. I was… a bit slow on the uptake, with that. It won’t happen again.”
GM: “Would ya like ta kill ’er yerself?” asks McGinn, his fangs again showing.
“Ya could do it by drainin’ ’er.”
“It’s a gentle ‘nough way ta go, if it’s done right.”
“Much gentler than a bullet ta the head.”
“Plenty kine who right enjoy goin’ that way.”
Victoria: “Yes, Lord Councilor. I’d prefer that. Thank you for offering me the choice.”
It’s like she’s joined a world straight out of the Dark Ages.
GM: “How do ya think she’d taste?” grins McGinn.
“You didn’t say if you’d fed on ‘er or not, darlin’. But ya only get the deepest taste when ya kill.”
Victoria: “I haven’t, no, Lord Councilor. Truthfully, I didn’t trust myself not to kill her. I… haven’t quite fully mastered restraint.”
GM: “You don’t say,” Adelais remarks airily.
“Yer gonna feed ‘er yer blood, darlin’,” says the other vampire.
“That’ll make ’er yer ghoul.”
Victoria: She’s much rather be the Lord Councilor’s, but the tide of displeasure is kept stifled.
She trusts that she won’t be made to walk into traffic, given his demeanor so far.
“Yes, Lord Councilor. How should I…?”
He won’t ask her to bite his wife-assumed, will he?
GM: There’s a buzz from Pierpont’s flip phone. He opens the screen.
“Seems she’s ’ere,” he grins.
“Yer gonna make a lil’ show of it, darlin’.”
“All she done got ta do is drink yer blood. Then the next night, and the next night, then once a month ta reinforce it. Keep the leash taut. But with that first drink, the collar, as the young ones like ta say, is already on.”
Victoria: “Yes, Lord Councilor,” she nods.
Her fingers throb.
“May I ask a question?”
GM: “Ya’ve asked so nicely,” smiles the other vampire, motioning for her to proceed.
Victoria: “When I was shot, the wound healed automatically—so quickly. My fingers, and my nose. They’re not. Why? How can I heal them? Provided I have your permission, when I leave.”
GM: Adelais finally smiles at Victoria.
It’s a faint smile.
It’s crueler than any look she’s leveled yet.
“You presume that you can heal these injuries, fledgling.”
Victoria: “Am I to be left like this, Lady Councilor?”
GM: “Are you complaining?” asks Adelais.
Victoria: “No, Lady Councilor, only asking about the world I don’t yet know.”
GM: “What would you think if you were to be left like this? Forever?”
Victoria: “I would think it’s better than dying, but I’d like to earn being healed, Lady Councilor. I understand that my desires don’t matter, though.”
GM: “Your injuries were suffered under the power of Lord Pierpont’s voice,” says Adelais. “As it was his will that maimed you, only by his will may you be healed. There is no other means.”
Victoria: “I see. Thank you, Lady Councilor.”
That’s her answer, in itself.
When he wants to, he’ll correct her. Until then, asking only delays.
GM: “Look at that good girl, not even askin’,” smiles Pierpont.
“Ya have ma will ta heal your nose.”
Victoria: “Thank you, Lord Councilor.”
A mote of glee even enters her words! She wills her nose to heal, but doesn’t so much as think a thought of trying anything else.
GM: It feels like being a submissive.
It is being a submissive.
Victoria feels an odd sensation. Blood rushing to her face. There’s an odd and rather gruesome sensation of bone growing, shifting, mending, unnaturally fast. Skin smooths over. Cartilage folds back into alignment.
Her nose feels whole.
“A word of caution, fledgling,” says Adelais. “Should you attempt this same process upon your fingers, or any other injury suffered under Lord Pierpont’s voice, the resultant scarification may prove beyond even his power to remove.”
She smiles again.
It does not reach her eyes.
“It it not right and proper, that slaves should suffer terribly for disobedience?”
Victoria: It’s unnerving, despite her knowing it’s healing. The human body doesn’t experience this—but, Victoria Wolf is more wolf than human now, isn’t she?
“I understand, Lady Councilor. I wouldn’t dream of crossing either of your wills.”
“And yes, Lady Councilor. Even though I wasn’t aware of the laws, I’m still to be held to them. I accept that.”
GM: Pierpont opens his phone.
“Billy, bring in the girl.”
He flips his phone closed and smiles at Victoria.
“Do make it good, now.”
“It’s only yer lives ridin’.”
Victoria: “How do I make this entertaining, Lord Councilor…?”
GM: “Do you suppose we also wish to tell actors what lines to say and how to say them?” Adelais asks severely. “Are you this boorish in all aspects of your life, or are you merely too boorish to have ever seen a film or play?”
“You will entertain us. If you fail to entertain us, you will be punished. Your ghoul will be punished. It that sufficiently clear, or should I use words with fewer syllables?”
Victoria: She slowly shakes her head.
“Perfectly clear, Lady Councilor.”
GM: The double doors open. Another skinhead strides inside, built like a haystack, and so covered in tattoos and metal studs and piercings that Victoria almost thinks he’s full clothed. Instead he’s merely wearing a pair of cargo pants and black combat boots. He’s dragging along a frightened-looking Anna by her arm, then rudely shoves her towards Victoria.
“Sylvia…!” Anna cries, stumbling into her girlfriend’s arms.
Then she looks at the two.
The vampires, with their deathly pale faces. Their cruel grin and look of icy, complete contempt. Their protruding fangs. The menace that wafts from them like a palpable musk. They stare at Anna like hungry wolves eyeing a tiny rabbit.
Something in those stares seems to make her wilt.
She doesn’t ask who they are.
She doesn’t ask what they want.
She doesn’t say a word.
Just shrinks against Victoria’s side.
It reminds Sylvia of Anna’s first time at a play party.
The sub seeking assurance at her domme’s side.
But Anna was less shy there.
And Victoria was a real domme there.
Victoria: Anna was less shy, because Anna had freedom back then.
As the teacher-no-more shrinks against her side, Victoria shirks her. Her good hand—palm open—crashes into Anna’s cheek, knocking her to the ground.
Her words are ice.
“I gave you clear instructions. Be. Respectful. Were those instructions too complicated for you?”
She kneels, seizing Anna’s cheeks as she would a rebellious child.
“You didn’t even acknowledge our hosts.”
She forces her head to look at them.
“Say, ‘hello, Lord Councilor!’ and ‘hello, Lady Councilor!’.”
GM: The surprise seems to hit Anna as much as as the physical blow.
She doesn’t fight back.
She doesn’t crawl away.
She doesn’t resist.
Something about their hosts—or Victoria—or both?—seems to freeze her in place.
“H-hel-lo, Lord C-Councilor! H-hello, L-lady Council-lor!” she gets out in a high voice.
McGinn grins at her, fangs long and sharp in his mouth.
Adelais looks as if a small dog started yipping.
Victoria: “You don’t listen!”
“You never listen!”
“You didn’t listen when I told you to trust me! You didn’t listen when I told you not to take me to the hospital!”
No slap. No, Anna has been wounded enough.
“You didn’t listen to me when we were equal, and now? Now we’re not equal. Now you’ll never disobey me again.”
Anna’s face is pinched so hard that she can’t form words, one-third for show, one-third for the very real anger Victoria feels at Anna getting them into this mess—in part—and one-third—the largest third—so Anna can’t say something to get both of them killed.
Victoria’s fangs come forth, and she bites her own wrist. She doesn’t hesitate, despite the foreign feeling of intentionally wounding herself so severely.
She forces her flowing wound against her girlfriend’s mouth.
“If you spit it out, I’ll drown you in it.”
GM: Anna crumples to the floor, red welts bright on her cheeks.
“But I d-” she starts, then weakly trails off.
Something about the watching vampires seems to terrify Anna, beyond all sense and reason. She’s even crawling back to Victoria before the painfully sharp pinch registers. She weakly cries out, then chokes off Victoria’s fangs came out. Sylvia remembers how much those fangs unnerved her.
The bite of her own fangs doesn’t feel that bad, despite how deep they pierce. She’s had worse shots.
Anna makes a sound like protest at first, as Victoria shoved her bleeding wrist into her face.
But she doesn’t spit it out.
Something twists her face for a second.
Then she drinks deeply.
She doesn’t stop.
Victoria can feel herself lessening with every sip Anna takes. Like her girlfriend is sucking the food right out of her stomach.
Victoria: She allows her girlfriend to drink, and drink, and drink.
Her eyes flash up to her audience. Will they tell her when to stop?
No, probably not.
She pulls her wrist from Anna’s mouth, shoving her back to the ground.
“I’m disappointed in you.”
GM: Anna swallows and licks her lips.
Then she looks away.
Shame swims in her eyes.
Adelais leans forward.
Anna suddenly looks up.
“A true ghoul’s first words!” laughs McGinn.
Victoria: Victoria smiles faintly up to McGinn.
“Apologize to our hosts, Anna.”
GM: “I’m-I’m sorry, Lord Councilor,” says Anna.
She can’t quite meet his eyes.
But that might be because she’s staring at Victoria’s wrist.
Victoria: “Is her rudeness forgiven, Lord Councilor? Lady Councilor?” she asks, gesturing to the heap of a woman.
“I wouldn’t give her more of what she wants, unless she is.”
GM: “I suppose she is,” drawls Pierpont.
“And I suppose it’s yer blood, girl.”
“Yers ta give away.”
“Yer hunger ta live with.”
“’Til ya feed again.”
Pierpont smiles a wide, fanged smile.
“That won’t be so easy fer ya, though, in the future. No sir-ree.”
“So ba all means.” He gestures magnanimously. “Do as ya like with what’s in yer veins.”
Victoria: Victoria presses the sole of her shoe to Anna’s chest, pushing her onto her back.
“Where you belong. You’ll get more when you earn it.”
To McGinn, “We’ll leave her wanting. May I ask another question, Lord Councilor?”
GM: Anna stares up.
She looks between the three vampires.
She lies very still.
“Go ahead,” grins McGinn.
Victoria: “What is the proper way to feed? I’d like not to make more of a mess on your land.”
GM: McGinn laughs again.
“That’s presumin’ a great deal, girl, that ya’d be able to make any more messes on ma land.”
“But ya’ve left me in a generous mood.”
“Ya kill only those who won’t be missed. Ya take care o’ the body yerself. Ya don’t leave it lyin’ in an alley with puncture marks.”
“Ya don’t kill those who will be missed. Ya drink light, not deep. Ya lick yer wounds closed and ya leave them rememberin’ nary a thing.”
Victoria: “We can alter memories, Lord Councilor?”
GM: “Do you consider yourself finished with your slave, fledgling?” Adelais asks critically.
Victoria: She bows her head.
“Unless you’d like to be entertained further, Lady Councilor.”
GM: “I do not consider you finished,” says Adelais.
Victoria: She dips her chin to the lady councilor, and then lowers her gaze to Anna. Oh, poor Anna.
Poor Victoria. She doesn’t allow the pain to eek through.
“They don’t consider you done, dear,” she breathes, her words acridly mirthful.
The fledgling presses her shoe to Anna’s throat, pressing none-too-gently.
“What is it you want? More?”
GM: There’s desire in her eyes, but fear too. And whiteness in her cheeks.
Anna shakes her head.
Victoria: “Do you think that the lord councilor and lady councilor are stupid? That your pitiful lie hides your desire from them?”
GM: Anna shakes her head again.
Victoria: “Say. What. You. Want.”
She presses down more firmly.
GM: “Y… your bloo…” Anna gets out in a small, choked voice.
Victoria: “I don’t think they can hear you, Anna.”
GM: “Y… our… blood!” Anna gets out, louder.
Victoria: “And what does that make you, dear Anna?”
GM: Anna swallows.
Victoria: “No, dear. You’d be a slave if you’d listened from the start. Now? Now you’re just a bitch.”
She grinds her heel into Anna’s cheek.
GM: Anna winces under the pressure. Her cheeks redden. But she doesn’t say anything. She remains very, very still.
“This grows tiresome,” declares Adelais.
She looks towards Pierpont. “Get rid of her.”
McGinn effects a yawn. “Ah’m well inclined ta at this point.”
“Such a shame. It started off with promise.”
Friday night, 8 April 2016, AM
GM: An eyeblink passes.
Victoria’s suddenly in a windowed room that’s empty but for a blanket and bucket. Anna’s next to her, blinking with a confused expression.
The other two vampires are gone.
Victoria: She opens her mouth to talk, and suddenly finds herself face to face with a wall.
She looks around.
GM: “I don’t know, what did?” Anna gets out.
The question is full of equal parts bewilderment, anger, and hurt.
Victoria: The fledgling glances sideways at her girlfriend.
“…I had to do that, Anna. They’d have killed you if I didn’t. We’d probably be out of here if I’d done worse—but I won’t. I’m not going to kill you just so I can walk away.”
GM: Anna sits down against the wall, wraps her arms around her knees, and starts quietly crying.
Victoria: Sylvia slumps down beside her, wrapping an arm around her.
GM: Anna’s head bolts up.
Her skin feels warm against Sylvia’s. So warm.
“You’re… you’re cold…”
She pulls her arm back.
“…you know I’d never talk to you like that.”
GM: Well, not technically true.
But always from a place of mutual consent.
So maybe completely true.
“Wh… what happened,” Anna repeats.
Something feels odd about the way her gaze lingers on Sylvia.
Victoria: “They are, I presume, the local royalty of my new life.”
Despite the cold of her words, there’s some curiosity poorly veiled.
“And… they wanted to be entertained. In their way.”
GM: “You were going to the house,” Anna says, numbly. “To get… laptops. Clothes. Things.”
Victoria: “They were there. I fought them off—most of them. The normal ones.”
The human ones.
“Then… I had them call their boss. I wanted to end this, before it involved you even more than it did already. I thought meeting him would be… right; would give me answers.”
She swallows a lump.
“Clearly not. Not as I’d hoped.”
“I didn’t expect them to have the powers they do. To have any powers at all. Not like this.”
She shakes her head.
GM: There is no lump.
There’s nothing to swallow.
Just more nothing.
Anna looks even more confused. And scared.
Victoria: “He told me to do something, and I did it. I couldn’t even think of disobeying.”
GM: Anna doesn’t say anything.
She looks at the room’s closed door.
Victoria: “I’m sorry.”
GM: “I don’t understand,” Anna repeats, sniffing again.
“I don’t understand any of this.”
Victoria: She resists the urge to pull her close again.
She resists the urge to be angry, or sad.
She resists the urge to pound on the door she already knows is sealed against their kind.
She resists the urge to wonder what would have happened if she’d sought her ‘friend’.
“I don’t either. Little more than you.”
But Anna is a pebble in an ocean deeper than she can ever fathom. At least Victoria is a fish.
GM: Maybe a pebble can better evade the sharks.
Or maybe it will just get swallowed without thought.
A fish can at least swim under its own power.
A pebble can just sit there.
“Who are they? Why did they want…”
Anna just trails off.
Victoria: “Locals of… my kind.”
Vampires. It still doesn’t feel right to say.
“We broke their laws. I broke their laws.”
GM: Anna looks a little less confused.
Victoria: “Like… not feeding and leaving bodies in the street.”
“And… not telling you.”
“They’re pretty upset about the last one.”
GM: Anna looks at the closed door.
“So what do we do?”
Victoria: Wordlessly, Victoria turns toward the door, trying it.
GM: Victoria’s arms don’t move.
Victoria: She tries to touch the wall beside it.
GM: She does so.
Victoria: “It seems I’ve been told not to open the door. You’re welcome to try, yourself.”
“…though I think that’d matter little.”
GM: Anna gets up and walks towards the door.
Then she just does nothing.
“I… I can’t…”
Victoria: Her lips part in surprise.
“…their commands work on you, too?”
GM: Anna stares at the door with a look of growing consternation, then finally sits back down.
“I can’t. I can’t open it.”
She looks at Sylvia.
“Why can’t I? What’s going on?”
“They didn’t… command me.”
Victoria: “Do you remember entering this room, Anna?” she finally asks.
She regards Sylvia like that’s an odd question.
Victoria: Lovely. Now she’s hallucinating again.
…is any of this real, too?
GM: Anna doesn’t look sure what to respond to that.
Victoria: Victoria pinches the bridge of her nose.
“They want to be entertained, but if I disobey—when I even have the chance—we’re dead.”
She looks down at her broken fingers.
GM: Anna looks at Sylvia, but doesn’t look at her fingers.
But then, the only light in the unlit room is the moonlight and starlight from the window.
Can her weak human eyes even make out Sylvia’s broken fingers?
“So that’s what that was? With me?”
Victoria: “I told you that that’s all that was,” she answers, her words barren of sympathy.
“You don’t need me to tell you again to know that I’d never talk to you that way without a sound reason.”
GM: Anna doesn’t immediately say anything.
But she scoots over and lies her head against Sylvia’s shoulder.
She feels warm.
Victoria: Oppressively warm, and she’s still hungry from feeding Anna.
“Do you… feel any different? Drinking my blood.”
GM: “It… it was incredible, Sylvia….” says Anna, wrapping an arm around her girlfriend’s other shoulder.
Some amount of light returns to her eyes.
“I’ve never tasted anything like it.”
Victoria: “What did… it taste like? What did it feel like?”
She doesn’t seem any more magically subservient.
GM: “It was… sweet.”
“Rich. Deep. It’s hard to describe. I’ve never had anything like it.”
“It was like liquid sex.”
“I felt like I could do anything. Run a marathon. Fight a grizzly. Go all night.”
Victoria: Is it no different for a human than a vampire?
She waits for Anna to continue.
GM: Her girlfriend looks away.
“I wish that hadn’t been our first time.”
Victoria: Victoria’s jaw tightens.
“Virginity is lost only when it’s willingly given.”
GM: Anna looks back up.
“Can I have some more, Sylvia? It’d really make me feel better…”
Victoria: Victoria may not be an experienced vampire, but she does learn.
“Anna… I think that may be why they locked us up together. If I give you too much, I’ll get hungrier. If I get too hungry…”
She doesn’t think she needs to explain.
GM: “What if it’s just a little, then,” says Anna.
Victoria: “Then I’ll be just a little bit hungrier, and you’ll be just a little bit closer to death.”
GM: “You’re not going to kill me. You’d never.”
Victoria: “I wouldn’t kill you, Anna, no; but, I… didn’t have a choice. With the last one.”
Or the one before that.
GM: “That was different,” she says, rubbing Sylvia’s shoulder. “They weren’t me.”
“Just a little. Please.”
Victoria: “They weren’t you, and I wouldn’t place any more risk on you,” she answers. It’s like having a child.
“I’ll give you as much as you want when we get home.”
GM: “But what if they don’t let us go home.”
Victoria: “They wouldn’t have us both alive if they didn’t have some intent for us.”
After all, she’d earned some smiles before coming face to face with a wall.
GM: “I hope so.”
“Please just a sip, though. It’d really make me feel good.”
Victoria: Victoria stares at her as if she’s just asked ‘why?’ for the sixth time.
GM: “A little isn’t a big risk,” Anna presses. “I’m okay with that. Every kink has risk. RACK, right? Risk Aware Consensual Kink? I’m okay with this.”
Lord, is she this addicted this quickly?
“We’re locked in a room in a vampire’s estate, who can command us to do what he wants with no room for rebellion. Magic is real. I’m dead, but living. I drink blood. Fairy tales are real. Our lives are completely flipped upside down and turned inside out, and all you can think about is getting your fix?”
She shakes her head.
“Fuck it. Fine. Come here.”
GM: Anna’s already leaning against her.
But she looks away again at Sylvia’s words. Red colors her cheeks.
Victoria: Despite her chilly skin, she pulls Anna against her.
“I’m sorry. I just… I want to get us home.”
GM: “You’re going to miss even more clients,” Anna remarks miserably into the crook of Sylvia’s neck. “They’re going to think you’re unreliable.”
She gives a weak laugh.
“I don’t know why I thought of that.”
“What are clients going to matter now.”
Victoria: “They’ll live. Medical emergencies happen.”
Of which she considers this as one.
“I think they’ll forgive me. All that matters is us.”
Friday night, 8 April 2016, PM
GM: Victoria feels exhausted. More tired than she’s ever been in her entire life.
Then, suddenly, she doesn’t. She’s swaddled in a blanket and can’t see anything.
Victoria: She thrashes in her sudden blindness, arms flailing about in the blanket.
GM: She hits someone and hears Anna yell. The blanket comes off. Anna was right next to her. They’re still in the same empty room.
Victoria feels hungrier.
She smells piss from the bucket.
Victoria: “Sorry,” she grumps, tossing the blanket off and looking around.
“What happened? Did I fall asleep?”
She wrinkles her nose at the scent.
GM: “Yeah,” Anna says in a weak voice.
“We’ve been in here… all day.”
She looks like she slept terribly.
She looks like she slept without any pillows or blankets on a hard floor.
Victoria: “All day.”
Victoria feels fine.
“It was… instantaneous. I was tired, and then I was out. I suppose I don’t get much choice in that anymore.”
GM: “I haven’t had anything to eat or drink,” Anna mumbles.
“No one’s been here.”
“They’ve just… left us.”
Victoria does feel fine. Not weaker. Not tired. Not in the least bit sore from lying all day on a hard floor.
Victoria: “I know better than to ask for food for you. Even if they can probably hear us.”
She looks up at the ceiling, trying to spot a camera.
GM: She doesn’t see any.
Victoria: She stands, walking toward the window, then presses on it.
GM: Her arms refuse to move.
Victoria: The thinks about wiping a smudge off the window and tries to do so.
GM: She finds herself able to do that.
Victoria: “Anything that might allow us to escape, I can’t do.”
She slumps against the wall below the window.
“They know that I’ll eventually give them the show that they want.”
GM: “W… what kind of show…?” Anna asks.
“I tried the window, too.”
“I couldn’t touch it.”
Victoria: “The show where I eat you. All they have to do is wait. They’ll get their blood eventually.”
Or they’ll forget they exist. Either way, death.
GM: Anna swallows.
“What do we do…?”
Victoria: Victoria snorts.
“They didn’t happen to leave your cell phone on you somewhere, did they?”
GM: “Took it.”
Victoria: “Then what can we do? Any thought we have on escaping, we can’t execute. We’re trapped. We’re fucked. They win, and we can do nothing but wait until they decide to do something with us.”
GM: Despair stares out from Anna’s eyes.
But it’s not a new-looking despair.
“There’s got to be something we can do,” she says. “Something. Anything.”
Victoria: Victoria looks around the room, taking everything. Every tiny detail. Every crack and crease in the wall. Every imperfection of the window. So much more than human eyes can see. Is there anything at all that can help them?
GM: She doesn’t see anything of note.
It’s a completely bare room, but for the blanket, piss-filled bucket, and two occupants.
Victoria: Unless Anna started pissing sulfuric acid in the last day, there’s no tool that can help them out.
Victoria storms toward the door, kicking it out of frustration.
“We get it! You win! You get what you want, whether I give it to you or not!”
GM: Her foot refuses to strike the door.
No one answers her yells.
She can’t even take her anger out on an inanimate object.
GM: The wave of anger, furious and hateful, crests and falls.
There’s the bucket.
But the rest of the world is deaf to her rage.
Victoria: “Fine! Fuck!”
In a motion just as fast, and anger just as hot as a strike of lightning, Victoria’s incisors unsheathe, sinking into her wrist and tearing until life bubbles forth.
“Come here!” she commands Anna, seizing her in one hand, while her wrist is pressed to her mouth.
GM: Anna’s face loses some of its color.
But her eyes set on the bleeding wrist.
She scarcely has a chance to disobey, anyway, before Victoria grabs her.
Her eyes widen as she drinks thirstily, ravenously.
She looks awash in bliss. Completely spaced out to everything else.
Victoria feels herself growing less the longer Anna sucks. She feels pangs of hunger, not in her stomach, but everywhere. She feels like a great cat is trapped inside of her, stalking and pacing, and getting bigger and meaner with every second that Anna drinks.
Victoria: Victoria rips her wrist away.
The predator inside her leaps, the deadbolt to its chains bending under its will. It roars and howls and whines all at once.
“Stop. I can’t… I can’t give you anymore.”
She looks to the door, shouting.
“That was your command, right? To feed her once a day for three days? Well, there’s the second day.”
GM: Anna stares after Victoria’s withdrawn wrist. Bliss mingled with sudden despair plays across her face. An all-too abrupt end to the carnival ride.
No one answers Victoria’s words.
“Sylvia… look, nothing bad happened…” starts Anna.
Victoria: “Don’t talk for a minute. Just… don’t say anything. Don’t move. Don’t think. Don’t even excessively breathe.”
Especially the latter. If she does, that predator inside is liable to finger paint with Anna’s entrails.
GM: Anna doesn’t.
She doesn’t speak, move, or breathe.
But Victoria can hear her heart thumping.
She’s probably still thinking, too.
Victoria: Oppressive thumping.
All of McGinn’s horses and all of McGinn’s men would never put Anna back together again.
The predator inside cackles.
Would just a single bite hurt?
She can control it, can’t she?
It’ll only be worse, if she staves off that hunger longer.
So much worse.
She’ll definitely kill Anna then.
He said she could lick it closed, didn’t he?
He never lied to her.
GM: McGinn didn’t say she couldn’t take any blood back.
It’d be for Anna’s own good.
To keep her less thirsty.
Take a little now to avoid taking it all later.
She can even lick it closed.
He hasn’t lied.
Anna just waits, silent but for the beating of her heart.
The faster beating.
Victoria: She her face crosses the distance to Anna’s shoulder in what feels faster than she can blink.
Her fangs sink into the flesh of that shoulder, stopping halfway as resolve crashes against desire.
Don’t. Lose it. Don’t. Lose it.
If she doesn’t feed, she’ll cave eventually. They’re being left to rot.
There’s not a meal in the world more exquisite than the taste that floods her mouth, and it’s wrapped up in and entwined with all the intimacy of making love to your wife. It’s salty, and sweet, and orgasmic, and—
And if she doesn’t stop, she’ll kill Anna.
A little more?
Just a little more.
A few seconds.
A few pulls.
A few mouthfuls.
She forces herself off, licking the wound closed.
The Beast inside whines.
GM: Whatever Victoria was expecting Anna to taste like, it’s not like she was expecting.
It’s nothing like she was expecting.
It’s warm and soft and brimming with love. It tastes like Mary’s spaghetti and meatball dinner that first night at the St. George house. It tastes like getting the adoption pictures signed and posing. It tastes like that first orgasm she received from Anna’s insatiable tongue. It tastes like that time Anna said, as they lay in one another’s arms and basked in the afterglow of their first lovemaking, that this was the warmest, brightest, happiest spot in the universe. It tastes like the first collar she fitted around Anna’s neck, and the soft click of the lock, and the way her eyes delightfully fluttered—
It tastes like that and more.
Victoria feels warm. She feels whole. She feels satisfied. She feels in control. She feels Anna’s in her hands, in her mouth, in her throat, inside of her, in this gesture of ultimate submission. Putting her life in Victoria’s hands. Loving her for it.
Her blood tastes like love.
It makes everything else she’s tasted taste like piss. Beneath the love, there’s a pleasantly sweet taste to Anna’s blood, too. It’s sweet and bubbly, like italian soda or cotton candy.
But there are unpleasant notes, too, that grow all the stronger the more Victoria drinks. Hunger. Fear. Exhaustion. Deprivation. Misery. Horror. They’re bitter and sour and salty in all of the wrong ways, like someone’s sprinkled sand and dirt into Mary’s spaghetti, or given Victoria a splitting headache during a night of otherwise great sex.
How much better could Anna taste, away from here?
Her girlfriend crumples to the ground with a low moan. She stares up at Victoria with wide, glazed eyes. Her skin is simultaneously paler and flushed, as though from sex. Her mouth hangs open.
“That… was…” she gets out.
Victoria: It tastes like memories.
Like a life not yet lived.
Like looking back at their story.
Like gentle spring, and soothing autumn.
Like a warm cup of tea and milk before slipping into cool sheets.
Next to her. Always next to her.
It tastes like a dream; like they have a chance in Hell of escaping back to a reality before Victoria decided her pride and revenge was more important than her life with Anna.
Horse. King’s men. Victoria. Together again.
Yet Anna never loses a single piece of her.
“We’ll be okay,” she answers.
It sounds half-convincing.
Saturday night, 9 April 2016, AM
GM: It feels like they’ve been sitting there for hours when the door opens.
A vision of beauty strides in. Dead like Victoria, with not a beat sounding from her heart. But perfectly pulchritudinous, a divine goddess; one could doubtlessly compare her to Aphrodite herself. How many people have fallen to her otherworldly looks? She looks like she was born in full glamour: hair, makeup, nails, clothing. Every inch of her is painted, sculpted perfection, from the shade of her foundation to the wing of her eyeliner to the fresh coat of polish on her nails. Everything is in its place.
Her hair is dark and worn loosely curled in the latest fashion, her dark eyes framed by long lashes, smoked out shadow, and impeccable liquid liner. Her waist is trim, her cheekbones high, her nose aquiline; all of these features could doubtless be enhanced even more if she smiled. She looks like she smiles with her eyes before it ever touches her lips.
She must have had work done to look this way. But that’s the key to good work, isn’t it? When it’s bad it’s obvious, when it’s good you cannot tell. And Victoria cannot tell what, exactly, has happened to make her into this exquisite creature.
Victoria: Blood mats her face.
Blood mats her wrist.
Her broken fingers.
She’s a bloody mess, and only half of the mess is blood.
She regards the woman with a note of surprise. Did she even hear the door open?
“You’re one of his?”
“So you’re the vagabond.”
She looks like hell. Her and the face next to her. Prey.
“What dumb thing did you do to end up here?”
The newcomer’s voice sounds amused.
Victoria: “Answer the phone,” she answers. “And fail to entertain.”
She slants her gaze toward Anna, tightening her protective arm around her.
“Who are you?”
Jade: The vampire arches one perfectly sculpted brow. Then she laughs.
“That’s not how this works, darling. Who are you?”
Victoria: Victoria reins in her smoldering embers.
No fire, Victoria. Not now.
“Victoria. This is Anna.”
She winces. Her fingers still throb. They look like a small child bullied its doll.
Jade: “But I already knew that,” the vampire says with an effected sigh. “I want to know how and why you suddenly appeared in my city.”
Victoria: Your city?
“I’m not sure. I woke up like this.”
Jade: The whole city. And why not? She’s beautiful. She’s alluring. She fills the space in the room, a commanding presence with an easy arrogance. Like a big, lazy cat watching mice. He’d sent for her.
The vampire nods. “That makes sense.”
Then there’s a knife in her hand, a sharp white thing grooved on one side and jagged on the other. She slices it across Victoria’s arm until blood coats the edge and steps back as if this were an everyday thing. It’s cool enough. She lifts the knife—are those teeth?—and licks the blood from its surface.
The knife disappears back into its spot on her thigh.
“Where’d you wake up?”
GM: Anna gives a little shout of alarm. Perhaps at the attack. Perhaps at the teeth. Perhaps at watching Jade lick someone’s blood.
But she doesn’t lunge forward. Just sits there against Victoria. Eyeing Jade warily.
Jade: Now that’s a familiar thing.
Victoria: Victoria resists the urge to snatch her arm back. She’s protective. She’s unsure. She’s scared. She’d rather be alone with Anna, locked in a room, than to deal with any of these strangers any more.
She’d rather be at home, never having tried to play the hero; to right the wrongs that happened to Anna and Amelie; to have given in to her pride and flew too close to the sun.
She’d rather be human.
She allows her arm to be wounded, and her blood to be licked clean. Simple wounds don’t bother her quite as much.
GM: “She woke up a in a hotel,” Anna volunteers in a slow voice.
Jade: “Thank you, darling. Which?”
GM: “The Hampton Inn. A little ways from here.”
Jade: “Did you spend the night prior?”
GM: Anna looks at Victoria, then shakes her head.
Jade: “And how did you get involved in all of this?”
There’s a deeper affection present than the bond.
GM: Anna pauses for a moment, then answers,
“She’s my w-girlfriend.”
Victoria: She opens her mouth to speak, but Anna answers first. Her answers are sound and simple, and so she feels no need to interject. This pair is less cold than the previous pair, if still cool, and less overt than her hallucination.
A hallucination she still knows is real out there, somewhere in New Orleans.
Jade: The vampire encourages Anna with a nod. She probes further; she wants to know where they’d been prior. How they got there. Who they were with.
GM: Anna says she isn’t sure. They’d had a fight and Victoria left the house. They weren’t with anyone.
Jade: Useless. Jade breaks a finger to see if she’s holding out on anything.
GM: Anna shrieks in pain.
“She was h-hallucinating! She w-was talking about en-nemies, she had a g-gun with the safety off!”
Jade: She probes further about the enemies. Who? How many? What did she say about them?
GM: Victoria feels it again, with her girlfriend’s scream. The flash of rage. The lengthening of her fangs. The monster within her surging to leap up, to tear the other vampire’s face apart-
With that single action, she coils into a spring, but doesn’t leap. The cat inside her pulls at self-inflicted chains, its bones threatening to snap just as much as the chains themselves. She wants to attack—to reduce that creature before her to a pulp so fine that not even God himself could grant a regeneration powerful enough to make her right again—but she knows that their being here means they are one of McGinn’s, and giving in to that primal will would only serve Anna with more broken fingers.
Trembling, anger unabated and prominent on her face—but restrained—she watches and waits.
Before Anna can speak, she answers. Again, she recounts the story of what happened, from Jordan’s strange return from the Malveaux abduction all the way through waking in the hotel.
Her words are laced with dripping flames, but she practices restrained, if barely so.
“The Malveaux family answered perceived wrongs against Anna and the niece of another—Christina Roberts—in their own way. Anna was fired and effectively blacklisted from her career. Her career meant everything to her. I answered that by having a client abduct, drug and have photos taken in a rather compromising scenario of one of their kin; a member of the clergy. One career ruined for another. When that client—Jordan Ratcliff—returned, he was in a state of paranoia past the point of a mental break. I met him later, and he attacked me, knocked me out, and left me in the street. I woke up there, hours later. I still tried to pull him out of that, and when I found him, he agreed to come with me to church. He did so, had another episode, and ran. It was there that I met the man that I intended to ruin, who… inflicted me with something. Fear? He didn’t sound natural.”
Which makes a hell of a lot more sense, now.
“From then on, I, too, saw things that weren’t there; namely, that I was being followed. Whenever I stopped to look or bait them out, they disappeared as if they were made from smoke. Later that night, I received a knock at the door, and—to my perception—I was attacked by someone impossibly fast. She took both Anna and I, and tortured Anna in front of me.”
The longer she talks, the more the rage subsides; the more she submits.
“To Anna’s perception, we had a fight, and I ran out into the night. She never saw the attack, nor the night of torture. I woke up in the hotel room, and found her. From there, it’s as I described to the Lord Councilor.”
“Please. Don’t hurt her. I’ll do what you say. I’ll entertain him if he’d like. I’ll do anything. I’ll enslave my own wife. I’ll be enslaved by the lady councilor. Just… please, don’t hurt her any more.”
Jade: “The fast one. Blonde?”
Victoria: “Yes, they were blonde,” she answers immediately.
Jade: It’s the only interruption she makes. The vampire’s face otherwise remains as stone, not a flicker of emotion or recognition or anything that even resembles humanity. This is a monster. There’s no doubt about that. No matter how pretty that face is she sucks all the air from the room; what sort of creature can’t muster any empathy for these sorts of atrocities?
Without a word the lick holds out her hand for Anna’s. There’s a pop, a twist, and suddenly Anna can move her finger again. It’s still swollen and red. It still looks broken. But there’s no pain.
Just like magic.
GM: Anna gives a little gasp as the vampire fixes her finger. She tenderly flexes it.
She looks up at Jade. Her face is still wary, as if unsure what to think.
Victoria: Victoria’s eyes flick between the vampire’s face and Anna, desperate for her pain to stop as much as she is desperate not to have reason to lose herself to the animal inside.
At that pop, she almost does, but Anna moves her finger.
Now she’s restoring her? What?
Jade: The pretty girl fixes her gaze on Victoria.
“I am going to torture you.” She says it with all the care of someone discussing laundry detergent. “You will bleed. You will scream. You will break.” They almost sound like orders. “They’ll release you shortly before dawn. Don’t beg for hospitality.”
“I will be highly disappointed if you allow yourself to be enslaved.”
Victoria: Victoria’s gaze locks to their captor as she looks at her.
What else can she do?
“May I ask a question?”
Jade: The vampire waves an indolent hand.
GM: “Torture me,” Anna pleads. “If you have to torture somebody. Please. She’s been through enough.”
Victoria: She breathes a growl at Anna, then turns her gaze back to the vampire.
“Why will they let us go?”
Jade: She completely ignores Anna’s plea.
“The lord councilor is teaching you an important lesson. Once it’s over he’ll have no use for you.”
Victoria: “I see.”
She answers as if a doctor informed her she has a cancer she’s known about for years.
At least she’ll be alive.
Saturday night, 9 April 2016, AM
GM: Victoria and Anna are left to rot in their cell until they’re retrieved by the strawberry blonde and the large skinhead. They’re told not to even think of running and escorted downstairs to the sitting room. Some of the furniture’s been moved around. A plastic tarp has been set up with a stained-looking tail in the center.
Pierpont McGinn and Adelais Seyrès sit together on the same couch as last night, along with the nameless vampire that Victoria spoke to earlier.
McGinn grins as he sees them.
“How’d ya sleep last day, Miss Wolf?”
Victoria: “As if I didn’t have a choice whether I slept or not,” she answers, her words strained, but calm.
She’s obedient, for now, with the rage subsided.
“Lord Councilor, I admire your… tenacity… in making a point.”
GM: McGinn barks a laugh.
“Girl, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
Victoria: She exhales through her nose, shaking her head.
“I imagine not.”
GM: “Yer about ta receive a special honor,” he smiles. “See, normally I’d just turn ya over ta the prince, and have a right chuckle attendin’ yer execution with the missus, or maybe stake ya fer the dawn maself. No one who’ll miss a lil’ nobody like you.”
He smiles and looks towards the newcomer vampire.
“But it’s come ta my attention that Miss Kalani is possessed o’ certain unique talents, and I’m just dyin’ ta see a demonstration o’ them.”
“Could work out mighty well fer her if I like what I see.”
Victoria: “As it could have for me, I’m sure, if I’d better predicted your tastes in entertainment, Lord Councilor,” she answers respectfully, dipping her chin.
GM: “Sock yer lil’ ghoul hard as ya can.”
Victoria: Her fist crashes into Anna’s stomach, strength unabated.
She looks down at her girlfriend, however brief, lips tightening in an unseen apology before she turns back to McGinn.
“Would you like me to strike her face, too, Lord Councilor? I wasn’t sure if you’d prefer the sustained pain of… that.”
She gestures to Anna, now in a heap on the floor.
“…or something more bloody.”
GM: Anna cries out and hits the floor in a heap.
Adelais’ expression looks like something between boredom, irritation, and contempt. She doesn’t even glance at Anna.
“If Lord Pierpont wished to torture your ghoul, fledgling, there are more efficacious means doubtless beyond your limited imagination. He merely sought to silence your prattle.”
“Your ignorance offends our ears.”
Victoria: She falls to silence. Talk more. Talk less. Talk more. Talk less.
She wishes vampires would collectively make up their damn minds.
GM: “It’s a rare occasion ma wife says a word o’ praise, and surely they are rarer and more precious ta the recipient than gold,” smiles McGinn. “But she has given me some idea o’ what ta expect from Miss Kalani, and I am most intrigued.”
“Strip and lie on the table.”
Victoria: Mortal wounds no longer mar her long, unless commanded by the Lord Councilor; yet, pain remains. Pain enough, it seems, from this woman, that it’ll entertain him.
At least it’s her.
She complies, stripping her bloodied clothing down to skin and laying on the table.
GM: “A slave should not enjoy privileges above its master’s,” says Adelais.
McGinn nods absently.
“Strip,” he tells Anna.
Victoria: She tenses, but knows better than to so much as let it touch her expression.
GM: Anna slowly reaches for her top, then when McGinn’s face starts to look impatient, rapidly pulls it off. Then her pants and underwear. She stands naked before the small gathering.
Red faintly colors her cheeks.
Victoria: Victoria ignores her, looking over to their commanders.
GM: “Lesse… hm, _don’t move a muscle,”_ McGinn commands Victoria, smiling.
Victoria: And so she doesn’t, even if she had a choice in the matter.
GM: “Move her head back, slave,” says Adelais. “She must see what happens.”
Victoria’s whole body is frozen. Her neck is stuck looking at the sitting vampires. Anna silently tilts her girlfriend’s head back to normal resting position.
“And there ya have it, Miss Kalani,” drawls McGinn, gesturing widely. “A trespassin’, poachin’, Masquerade-breakin’ piece o’ gutter trash ta do with as yer black lil’ heart and curious lil’ hands do please. If ya would use her ta study somethin’ or other, go right ahead. If ya would use her merely as a scratchin’ post, go right ahead. I desire only ta see how yer methods work with ma own two eyes.”
“Billy, the final restraint now, if ya please.”
The skinhead approaches Victoria with a wooden stake and rams it into her chest.
It feels every bit as painful as she expected having a sharp piece of wood rammed inside of her would feel.
Victoria: It’s worse than being locked inside a cell. She can’t move. She can’t breathe. She can’t shift her eyes. She can’t blink. They dry out. She can’t even shift her gaze to see what’s happening around her.
All she feels is pain; the sensation of a sharp spear crashing through her sternum, nailing her to the table by her own ribs.
She wants to cry, and yell, and let that pain out even if it further rips her lungs, but all she can do is stare.
Stare, and count the cracks in the ceiling.
GM: She doesn’t count any. It’s a well-maintained ceiling.
Her eyes don’t dry out, either. There’s just more of that same feeling of nothing.
Or at least.
Nothing but pain.
“The experience will be diminished if she cannot scream or beg,” says Adelais. “What have we to fear from this nothing?”
“’Tis not us, but our guest I fear for,” smiles McGinn. “I would not think ta have any invited guest o’ mine suffer harm under the aegis o’ ma hospitality.”
“What say ya, Miss Kalani? Stake in or out? The lordly voice will keep ‘er still, but once ’er Beast’s in the driver’s seat, all bets are off.”
“Could not physical restraints be sufficient, Lord Pierpont?” says Violet. “Or the amputation of her limbs? Then she would be physically immobilized and able to scream.”
“Perhaps,” smiles McGinn. “Perhaps. But, darlin’, this here’s one thing I’ve learned, bein’ married ta a rose. Ya leave ’em ta do the art how they please.”
“And this will be art, I do not doubt. If Miss Kalani requires any further supplies or setup, she is of course welcome to them.”
Jade: The newcomer is silent when the pair are brought into the room. She is silent when Victoria slugs Anna. She is silent when Anna strips, silent when Victoria lies down, silent when Anna adjusts Victoria’s head. She may as well be made of stone. Only when the vagabond is bound, staked, and ready to go does she finally animate herself.
“It’s refreshing,” she says idly, strolling forward, “to openly practice my true art. And for such an audience.” She smiles down at Victoria, running a hand down her cheek. “Thank you for the canvas, Lord Councilor.”
Then it starts. Whatever else they say about her, no one can claim she isn’t an artist. Not when they see her with her hands on a body; she touches and the skin moves, she digs and the muscles spasm. A fingertip splits the flesh across her chest. Slowly. Without anything sharp at all, just Miss Kalani’s fingertips. Wolf’s flesh becomes thinner and thinner and thinner until it finally tears.
The artist times the removal of the stake perfectly. It’s just as the skin wrenches apart that she yanks the piece of wood from Wolf’s heart. Skin pain isn’t something that can be ignored. It’s an organ just like everything else in the body. It has nerve endings that Miss Kalani sets alight with a pinch, the sort of shallow pain you can’t release with a stretch or hot towel. It’s crippling. Debilitating. Even if she could move, she wouldn’t get far.
Miss Kalani turns Victoria’s body into a tapestry of agony. She rends strips of flesh from her stomach and thighs in long ribbons that she twists together in her hand, but its use isn’t discernible until the rose forces her canvas’ mouth open and rips out her fangs. Each of them go on the end of her ribbon. Soon has the doctor has Victoria vivisected on the table with flaps of flesh pinned back by nails hammered into the table; a swipe of her hand and the costal cartilage splits into nothing. Victoria’s sternum practically falls out of her body. Kalani wraps it in her collected flesh until the leather is hard and the device comes to life.
She gives it an experimental crack.
Pleased, the rose hooks the whip to her hip. It isn’t done yet. But its creation changes something in her.
She’s lost to the work. McGinn and his wife become nothing but a presence in the back of her mind. Words blur to become the distant hum of insects in the night. Even the screaming fades. It’s just the artist and her canvas.
She paints it red. Then white, when she strips away flesh and shifts aside muscles to reveal the bone beneath. She scratches the bone itself with long talons, leaving behind a mark reminiscent of an X.
Things hurt less after that.
Kalani takes out her lungs and orders her to speak, but with no breath how can she say a word?
GM: Jade’s audience watches raptly.
She can tell they are, until she loses herself in Arikel’s blessing.
McGinn laughs heartily, exclaiming that it’s “Like watchin’ a cat with yarn!”
Adelais merely surveys the unfolding torture scene without criticism, which Jade well knows is compliment in of itself. There’s even a look of smug satisfaction when she extracts Victoria’s lungs.
Violet oohs and ahhs, politely while covering her mouth. “My goodness… she can’t even scream now, can she?”
Billy whoops and exclaims, “Goddamn! Lookit that cunt! She’s fuckin’… FUCK! She’s MEAT!”
He falls silent with a glance from Adelais.
Anna watches no less raptly, too.
Victoria’s girlfriend clutches her hands to her mouth. Her nudity is forgotten. She stares, transfixed, in abject terror. And abject horror. She does not once look away. Tears rim her eyes. Maybe she thinks to do something. But what can she do, one of her against five of them? Against vampires who can command with a word.
It’s over four sets of enthusiastic applause that Anna finally finds her voice and croaks,
“Is she dead…?”
Victoria only knows pain.
Excruciating, blinding, unequaled pain, like nothing she has before felt.
She feels something else, like she did last time. The snarling, raging, spitting monster within her bursting its chains. Sight and sound dissolve into furious red. Mindless red. The onlookers are gone. The vampire torturing her, Miss Kalani, is gone.
There’s nothing but pain.
Pain and rage.
Animalistic. Unthinking. Instinctive. A bloodcurdling, bone-splitting rage from the deepest recesses of the id.
But unlike last time, she is impotent to act on it. Her limbs do not respond to her will. Her mouth does not move. She cannot even scream. She feels like an erupting volano with a blocked geyser. She wants to destroy everything. She wants to drown the world in fire and blood. She is destruction incarnate and trapped in a box.
There is no destruction.
Victoria: How bad can it be? How much can they hurt someone? She was shot, and it barely felt as if her assailant had flicked her. She was cut, and the wound healed almost immediately. She feels pain, yes, despite her apparent immortality, but none of the wounds last.
Victoria stares at the ceiling, unmoving. Unblinking. Unbreathing. Yet, her mind spins as if trying to escape from her head. Somehow, subconsciously, despite all of her justifications, her mind knows that they’ll find a way to hurt her.
It begins with shattered expectations. The brush of a fingertip, ordinarily so pleasant—so welcoming—brings about the shift of skin, the recoil of muscle, and finally, the rending of flesh as if stretched and torn. A scream erupts from her mouth, the fusion of torn skin and searing wood bringing about more pain than she thought possible.
For the first time since her arrival, she forgets about Anna. Her life, and her love, and her health and well-being, and her own life, and her history, and her wants and whims and desires all become meaningless. She becomes meaningless; just a lump of flesh and bones, and a soul trapped therein.
She screams, and screams, and screams, until the halls are filled with no other sound.
Then, with a gurgle and a sputter, her screams cease into an immediate and deafening silence.
The chain snaps. The cage shatters into a thousand shards of rusted iron. The beast escapes.
The beast escapes, and howls, and rages, and spits, and snarls, and claws, and thrashes, but it is alone. Floating, in a void of nothingness; a void of torn flesh and ethereal restraint.
All of McGinn’s horses and all of McGinn’s men would never put Victoria back together again.
And yet they try. Most of her, somehow, comes together again.
Most of her.
A few organs shy.
A few teeth short.
And most of her spirit in pieces.
Jade: No one can tell. As with all her work, Victoria’s outer shell is flawless.
Eventually, the pain stops.
Miss Kalani has used and abused and marked every part of the newly turned Kindred. She stripped the body down as far as she could without destroying the poor soul still trapped inside; most of the lick lay in messy piles on the floor. She had twisted and wrought and tested every organ in as many ways as she could, turned muscles into red sculptures that moved with a touch, and created leather odds and ends from her flesh.
Anyone can destroy. But Miss Kalani, oh, Miss Kalani was invited here for a reason. She’d entertained the lord and lady councilors with destruction and pain, had give herself over to Arikel’s blessing, but now… now she shows them what she can do.
She puts Victoria back together again.
Kalani replaces the severed organs. She unwinds strips of flesh and smooths them back into place. She fixes torn tissue of every variety, then moves the limbs around to ensure they properly work. She doesn’t replace the sternum, nor the fangs that she stole, and she keeps the flesh she’d wound so neatly around them both. Blood flows. Kalani scrapes her nail on the inside of Victoria’s skin before she seals it. And maybe things hurt a little less.
The Toreador silently turns toward her hosts when her work is done. She searches their gaze for approval.
GM: Jade’s audience is every bit as approving as she’d hoped for, and more.
McGinn applauds and grins from ear to ear.
“Took ‘er apart and sewed ’er back up. That’s power, Miss Kalani. Power o’ life and death, it is.”
“My word,” says Violet with a polite gasp, hand briefly covering her mouth as she applauds. “I’d have thought she’d be good for nothing except dog food. Truly, you are as skilled as they say, Miss Kalani.”
“Holy fuck!” exclaims Billy. He claps too, alongside his domitor.
Adelais merely says nothing critical.
That remains high praise in its own right.
She even applauds.
Anna cannot restrain herself. She falls over Victoria’s body. Cradling her girlfriend’s face in her hands. Weeping. Scarcely able to believe what’s in front of her. All thoughts of their audience disappear.
“Sylvie… Sylvie… are you…?” she whispers.
“Unstake ’er,” says McGinn.
Billy rudely shoves Anna to the floor with a crash, then pulls the stake out of Victoria’s chest.
It hurts every bit as much as she’d think having a sharp piece of wood yanked out of her chest would feel.
“Ya can move again,” the other vampire smiles.
“Say thank you to Miss Kalani for puttin’ ya back together, girl.”
Victoria: Like a kaleidoscope rolling its many facets around, the world is a shattered series of times and places, all connected, yet completely wrong. Pain. Heat. Anger. Loss. Love. So much love. So much loss. Broken. Repaired. Broken again. So much anger. The heat becomes hotter, then cools again. Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Colder. Until finally, the room snaps into place with a single searing stake being torn from her boneless sternum.
She screams one final scream, and sits upright, pressing a palm to her forehead, expecting to feel sweat and finding nothing but the cold skin of her undead face.
Ravenous, yet she can’t feed as she should.
She knows that if she doesn’t, she’ll only go through worse.
She looks to Jade.
“Thank you, M-miss Kalani.”
Jade: Jade beams at Victoria as if she hadn’t just spent long hours dissecting her.
“You’re welcome, darling.”
Victoria: She holds her gaze for a moment longer, eyes trembling, then looks back to the Lord Councilor.
GM: “Do ya think this makes up for yer crimes against me, girl?” smiles McGinn.
Victoria: “No, Lord Councilor,” she answers, dipping her chin.
“I think that you’ve made your point, and I think that the only right way to make up for a crime is to right the crime.”
“I would like to earn your forgiveness.”
And her missing parts, but she knows better than to ask.
GM: “What are your crimes?” asks Adelais, sharply. “Do you even remember what they are?”
“Recite them for us. Tell us how many transgressions you are guilty of.”
Victoria: “As I understand it, Lady Councilor, my crimes are all related to making a mess and adding risk to your kin being discovered. I killed multiple people, without disposing of the bodies properly.”
“My crimes are two counts of murder on your land, though I surmise that’s more theft of resource than murder. Additionally, leaving the bodies to be discovered by the non-vampire populace. Additionally, causing risk in the medical center when they discovered my unbeating heart.”
GM: “Beat your ghoul,” orders Adelais.
Anna looks between Adelais and Victoria, then shrinks slightly back.
But she doesn’t raise a hand.
Victoria: And so she does.
Anna only receives an apologetic glance before she’s knocked to the ground, and given a beating that would make even New Orleans’ finest blush.
Victoria strikes her lover with unabated strength. It pains her—as much as it pains Anna—but she understands now that any wounds she inflicts will be less than those they’ll command inflicted if she even shows an ounce of restraint. Her fists crash into Anna’s face, and stomach, and thighs, and arms as if she were the target of all that chained beast’s fire let loose.
She’s only cautious not to strike the same area too frequently, nor to break bones.
GM: Anna cries out and crumples to the floor. She doesn’t fight back. She tires to shield her vulnerable belly, wrapping her arms around that spot. But otherwise, she just curls up and takes it. Naked, Victoria can see every mark, every bruise, every bit of darkened and purpled skin. She’s going to have a real shiner under her eye. She cries and sobs.
But she doesn’t plea for it to end.
She knows it won’t help.
“Enough,” Adelais finally says.
Victoria: She stops, facing the lady councilor again.
GM: Anna makes a choked noise from the floor. She doesn’t get up.
Victoria: Victoria doesn’t react.
Jade: Kalani watches with empty eyes.
GM: “We should execute her now,” Adelais says simply to McGinn. “The prince will not object to this nothing being taken out with the rest of the trash.”
Victoria: Victoria is silent. She knows better than to interrupt.
Jade: “Lady Councilor, if you have no objections or use for her, I can think of plenty experiments I’d love to try.”
Victoria: That invokes a flutter of fear.
GM: McGinn chuckles.
“We did promise ’er that, Lady Adelais. And although Miss Kalani has had chance ta ply her craft, ’tis been but once, and I honor ma deals in spirit and letter.”
“I have no use for this nothing,” says Adelais. “I care not whether she meets her end at the sun’s hands or Miss Kalani’s, so long as it is painful.”
Victoria: Whether Miss Kalani ends her or not, she’s more liable to survive that than another hour with these two.
She remains silent.
GM: “Final death at Miss Kalani’s hands certainly has the potential to be far more prolonged, and painful, than at the sun’s,” opines Violet.
Victoria: “Lord Councilor, is there any way I can set my crimes right?” she asks, one final attempt.
GM: “But you are unable to provide an accurate recount of your crimes,” says Adelais, mockery dancing in those contemptuous eyes. “How can you make right crimes you do not know?”
Victoria: “Excuses are pointless. However, the night my crimes took place was filled with… novel experience, much of which removed entire portions of memory. I may not remember everything—but, if you will set the terms, I will do everything I can to make it right. I may not be the perfect picture of a good impression, Lady Councilor, but damned if I don’t learn quickly and keep loyalty.”
GM: “Do you not wish to know your crimes?” asks Adelais.
Victoria: “It’s the only way I can atone for them, Lady Councilor. Will you tell me?”
GM: “I will not tell you,” says Adelais. “For free.”
“The tedium of providing such a recount must be fairly compensated for. Does that not seem fair?”
Victoria: “Yes, Lady Councilor.”
More so due to her life hinging upon it.
GM: “Hensler,” says Adelais, looking towards McGinn.
McGinn gives a belly-deep laugh and smacks his knee.
Victoria: She looks to the lord councilor.
GM: “On which one o’ ’em, I wonder,” chuckles the other vampire.
His gaze looks over Victoria and Anna.
She hasn’t moved from her place on the floor, but silently watches the vampires through puffy eyes.
“Ya have a preference, girl?” McGinn smiles towards Victoria.
Victoria: “What do you mean, Lord Councilor?”
GM: “You have been asked to name a preference, fledgling,” Adelais reproaches sharply. “If you do not name one, you will be assumed to have named both.”
Victoria: “On me, Lord Councilor,” she answers.
GM: “How touching,” says Adelais.
Dead smiles greet the declaration.
Victoria: She holds their gaze. Don’t let them smell defeat.
GM: “She’s done so well,” remarks Violet.
“Maybe she should get a chance.”
“You don’t want Hensler, do you, fledgling?”
Victoria: “I don’t know what it is.”
GM: Violet smiles.
“Oh, perhaps I was mistaken. So you do want Hensler?”
Victoria: “…I do not want either of us to have a Hensler. I would like, however, to atone for my crimes, and if that is the cost the lord councilor and lady councilor set to know what those crimes are, then I would be in poor manners to fight their ruling.”
“…though I would prefer not to have a Hensler.”
GM: “You make it sound so dignified,” says Violet. “I don’t know that I believe you.”
“Maybe you should convince us. Beg at Lord Pierpont’s feet. Really show us just how much you’d ‘prefer’ not to have Hensler.”
“Would you be moved by such a plea, Lord Pierpont?” she asks the male vampire.
“Perhaps,” smiles McGinn. “If it was, as ya say, darlin’, sufficiently convincing.”
Victoria: She tilts her head a hair, appraising the lord councilor’s seriousness. It’s hard to believe that such a jovial man can be so cruel.
Finally, she lets her emotion flow into her face, and her actions.
Victoria hits the floor, as much a piece of meat as when she was in lumps of flesh wrapped in neat bows only minutes before.
“Please, Lord Councilor, Lady Councilor!” she whimpers, tears of blood flowing down her cheeks. “I fucked up. I didn’t know, but I still broke your laws. I’m not worthy of life, but I beg you to give me a chance to atone for my sins; to take my ghoul home safely, and serve you until such a time as you feel that I sufficiently understand the gravity of the mess that I’ve caused you, and have made up for it! I’m not worthy, but I’d like to become worthy!”
She crawls forward, her face barely enough off the floor to meet their gaze, looming miles above.
GM: McGinn clucks his tongue thoughtfully.
“That was very emotional,” says Violet.
“She did not beg to not have Hensler,” says Adelais. “Clearly that is her wish. What else can we assume from her words?”
“That is a valid point,” says Violet. “Do you think she wants Hensler, Miss Kalani?”
Victoria: “PLEASE! Please! I don’t even know what a damn Hensler is, and I know that I don’t want it! I don’t want Anna to have it, either! J-just t-t-tell me my crimes! I promise I’ll atone!”
Jade: “She doesn’t seem to, my darling Violet. Perhaps she knows she isn’t good enough for Bruce.”
Victoria: Victoria is a bawling, sniveling, sobbing mess.
GM: “Go back ta yer cell and come back when ya see Violet,” McGinn orders, boredly.
Victoria feels her legs carrying her out of the room.
Anna, beaten and bruised, robotically marches after her.
She supposes that no “Hensler”, at least, is a win.
Saturday night, 9 April 2016, AM
GM: Victoria and Anna languish in their cell for hours. Anna drifts off to sleep. She does not look as if she sleeps well. Not between the beating and the hard floor. Victoria can’t catch a wink.
Violet eventually shows up. She orders them back downstairs. McGinn and Adelais are there on the couch again.
“Ya asked ta know yer crimes,” smiles McGinn.
“Well, girl, here they are.”
“Breakin’ the Second Tradition twice, by drinkin’ two vessels on ma land and takin’ what’s mine.”
“Breakin’ the First Tradition twice by gettin’ caught both times by witnesses. Leavin’ me yer messes ta clean up.”
“Breakin’ the First Tradition gettin’ the police called o’er gunshots in a quiet neighborhood. ’Nother mess ta clean up.”
“That adds up to five offenses,” says Adelais, as if the sum were beyond Victoria’s intelligence to arrive at.
“Five so far,” smiles McGinn. “Yer guilty o’ three more.”
“That adds up to eight,” Adelais adds in the same ‘helpful’ tone.
“Breakin’ the Second Tradition poachin’ in the Quarter,” says McGinn.
“Breakin’ the First Tradition leavin’ another right mess in the Quarter, fer others ta clean up.”
“Breakin’ the First Tradition lettin’ those doctors at Tulane do their tests and find out they had a walkin’ dead woman on their hands.”
McGinn smiles at Victoria again.
“Mighty helpful how ya gave ‘em yer name, ya know. Why, all the Krewe o’ Janus had ta do was look up yer address, and then they were in touch with me about the Masquerade breaker who lived on ma land.”
The vampire drums his fingers.
“After the amount o’ trouble you caused, darlin’, the prince’ll have ya executed for sure.”
“But seein’ as yer a nobody, and most o’ yer crimes were committed on ma land, I don’t reckon he’d object if I took out the trash for ’im.”
McGinn smiles cruelly and produces a thick cigar.
“Yer gonna take a walk outside, darlin’. Dawn’s only a few off.”
“Yer lil’ ghoul will walk with ya, o’ course. I’m a man o’ ma word. Ya’ll have time before sunup.”
“There is no atonement for you, fledgling,” Adelais states with a cold smile.
“Only a final death that shall be remembered as a mess cleaned up. That is to be your legacy to the world.”
Victoria: Victoria isn’t sure anyone’s horses and anyone’s men could truly put her back together again.
Even if they have all the pieces.
She closes her eyes and waits.
As she stands before McGinn—again—she holds her silence, respectful as she can be for how thoroughly dismantled she is.
If she could pale, she would.
That confirms the sun.
What can she do? Where can she go?
She can’t fight. Not this many people, nor even the man who can force her to bend and break with just a few words. He could—still might—tell her to walk outside and wait, and that’s exactly what she’ll do.
Can she run? Can she hide? They’re smart enough not to give her an out. Not like this. Not easily.
Do they expect her to beg? They liked her begging—but they continued to mete her punishment, even then.
What is a Hensler, anyway?
Maybe it’ll buy a few, precious moments.
“I understand, Lord Councilor,” she answers, her voice as dead as her flesh. “May I ask a single question before I leave?”
GM: “I suppose ya might, seein’ as ya accepted yer execution so politely,” smiles McGinn.
Victoria: “I don’t think fighting you would earn me many points, nor yield me much success, Lord Councilor,” she answers with a polite smile. “What is a Hensler?”
GM: “If you paid sufficient attention to the word’s context, you would have realized Hensler is a who, not a what,” Adelais states critically.
“You would have found much in common with Mr. Hensler. He would have been well-suited to deal with you.”
Victoria: “I see.”
GM: “He breeds and trains dogs, you see,” states Violet.
Victoria: She doesn’t want to know which would be happening to her.
“Thank you for your hospitality, Lord Councilor, and I apologize for my transgressions. Thank you for the kindness of a quick death.”
GM: “Well, how now about that,” smiles McGinn. “What a gracious and polite way ta go. I think I might e’en be inclined ta honor a last request or two, girl.”
Anna, white-faced, glances at Victoria, then speaks up in a faltering voice,
“Would you accept my life in place of hers, Lord Councilor?”
McGinn’s pleased look turns dangerously irate as Anna speaks.
“I wasn’t talkin’ ta you, half-blood.”
Anna lowers her head and gets out, “My apologies, Lord Councilor.”
McGinn doesn’t immediately answer. Just flashes a fanged smile that makes Victoria’s girlfriend back slightly away.
“Punishin’ you for speakin’ out o’ turn won’t be necessary, I don’t well imagine.”
He turns back to Victoria as if Anna has ceased to exist.
Victoria: “I suspect you’ve ensured that I won’t have anywhere to run to, Lord Councilor.”
GM: “O’ course,” says McGinn.
Victoria: “And there’s no way I can make sufficient amends.”
GM: “Observe the rat gnawing futilely at the trap’s spring,” states Adelais.
Violet holds a hand to her mouth and daintily laughs.
Victoria: She waits as if she’s a child about to be told her birthday party was canceled.
She’s not unfamiliar with that.
GM: “Yer fate’s been decided, girl,” McGinn answers in a warning tone.
“Yer makin’ me wonder if I was o’erly generous ta solicit a last request.”
Victoria: “No, Lord Councilor. Just confirming. I’ll go, then?”
GM: “So now yer not e’en acknowledgin’ the courtesy o’ ma offer? Not so much as a thank you?” says McGinn.
Victoria: “Sorry, Lord Councilor. You’re right—that was rude. Thank you for the kindness of your offer. Sincerely.”
She dips her head.
She did already thank him.
GM: “And yet, you still ask for nothing,” says Adelais. “Someone who believed they were to die would surely have some final request. Are you convinced you can escape your final death, fledgling? Do you believe there is shelter you may run to in sufficient time? There is not. We know every inch of this land. Your demise is as certain as a kine’s facing a firing squad.”
Victoria: “I appreciate your offer, Lord Councilor, Lady Councilor,” she says, eyes moving intentionally to each as she speaks their title.
“My only last request is that Anna is granted as much freedom as one can expect, given her knowledge. She means the world to me, and I would—will—die for her.”
GM: “If I were being charitable, I would say that knowledge of her impending demise has addled her brain,” Adelais says to McGinn. “But I will not be charitable and attribute her poor intelligence to limited circumstance.”
She looks back towards Victoria.
“Do you not recall the promise that Lord Pierpont so graciously extended you, fledgling, concerning your ghoul?”
Anna, still white-faced, looks confused.
The moment stretches.
“She don’t have ta be thrown out the door with all of ’er parts, ya know,” growls McGinn, his tone dangerously impatient. “I ne’er gave ma word o’er that.”
Victoria: The beaten Beast, chained and tied, whines. It’s been beaten so deeply that—for a time—it forgot what it was; forgot who it is.
Victoria Wolf, swept away in a river of change and lost control, dropped unceremoniously into a world of pain that transcends the physical, lost herself. She lost herself from the moment she decided to plot revenge.
Stupid, stupid, stupid girl.
So stupid. So weak. Fragile. Taken apart and put back together as if she were a child’s toy. Literally. Physically. Emotionally. Her pride.
What pride? She doesn’t have pride anymore. She’s a corpse.
The Beast grumbles lazily against its chains.
Her fingers tense into a fist at the lady councilor’s words, that fraudulent veil of control over her emotions crafting a shoddy guise of respect—even unto her death—fracturing.
The Beast doesn’t struggle. It doesn’t roar. It doesn’t whine, or thrash, or buck, or growl.
It stands up.
“You know what? I do, Lady Councilor.”
She looks to the McGinn.
“My last request is that whoever did this to me—turned me into this…”
She gestures to herself. Where she was once a picture of submission, vengeful confidence has kindled.
“…and set me on a path to fuck up your domain—be punished as harshly as you’ve deemed it fit for me to be punished. Better yet, that you let me do it. I don’t care who they are. I don’t care if they’re as powerful as you. If I’m going to die, I want them to rue their decision until their last strip of inner flesh hardens into jerky.”
A pause hangs.
“That is my last request.”
Her hands shake, as much with fear as with anger—not at McGinn, but at the faceless creature who put her here, and who caused Anna to suffer.
GM: McGinn barks a laugh.
“So, ya want ta do it yerself, mm?”
“Well, well, well.”
“Tell ya what, girl.”
“I rightly do like that request. I don’t like how long ya gave me the runaround ta get there.”
He smiles a supple, fanged smile.
“So we’ll make ya do a lil’ runaround, ta earn it.”
“We’ll make a right game o’ this.”
He turns to Violet.
“Violet ma dear, please retrieve a flag. Any lil’ ol’ one will do.”
“Of course, Lord Pierpont,” says Violet. She rises from her seat and departs.
Victoria: “Thank you, Lord Councilor. I do love games,” she says with a playful smile yet unseen by
him. The same smile she wore when she first taunted him over the phone.
“…and fair is fair, of course, on the runaround.”
GM: “I’m a fair man, I am,” McGinn drawls.
“Oh, and I suppose in case ya survive…”
He raises his wrist to his mouth. There’s a flash of fangs, then Victoria smells blood.
McGinn extends his arm.
Victoria: She approaches without hesitation, reaching to drink from his arm.
GM: Human blood was beer.
Anna’s blood was 100-year-old wine.
This is hard liquor.
The good stuff. Stronger. Richer. Deeper. Headier. The flavor is less nuanced than Anna’s blood. There’s none of the love. None of the depth and complexity. This is kick. It tastes like supple fanged smiles and drawling cruelty. It tastes like Confederate flags and fine cigars. It tastes like the Lost Cause and Southern aristocracy.
He’s such a desirable man. So strong. So domineering. So certain of what he wants. He’d never submit. He’s made her submit.
Victoria: It’s better than hard liquor. It’s top shelf. It’s a king’s hoard. It’s a dragon’s treasure. It’s everything. She pulls from the lord councilor’s arm until he wills her to stop.
When she finishes, she speaks.
“I’m a woman of my word. I’ll not betray our little game. Would you like to keep Anna while we play?”
GM: “Oh, that won’t be necessary,” McGinn drawls. In moments, the bleeding points are gone from his wrist.
“But that is mighty thoughtful of ya ta offer.”
Victoria: “Certainly, Lord Councilor,” she nods.
“Do you have an idea who it is that did this to me?”
GM: “Lord Pierpont did not give you leave to question him further,” states Adelais.
Victoria: “Apologies, Lord Councilor,” she answers in response to Adelais.
GM: Violet returns with a Confederate flag. It’s a little thing, small enough to wave in one hand.
“Ya know the history o’ this noble banner?” drawls McGinn.
Anna doesn’t speak, but mouths ‘yes’.
Victoria: “As much as one who paid attention in school in the last twenty years can, Lord Councilor; though, obviously, I wasn’t there.”
GM: McGinn looks disappointed.
Victoria: “I’d love to learn. Is that part of the game?”
Another question. Oops. Oh well.
GM: “No,” Adelais says icily. “It is not.”
“You smell ta me like a Yank,” drawls McGinn. “Who used this flag, girl? From whence did it come?”
Anna, falteringly, raises her hand.
Victoria: She shoots Anna a warning look, and looks back to the pairing.
“A disgusting accusation, Lord Councilor. How can any proud Southern girl—from Louisiana especially—be anything but aligned to the South?”
A pause. She’s about to elucidate on a long point of her textbook knowledge and how it’s probably not what he wants, when she thinks better of it. She’s been rebuked for that already.
“Our ancestors—well, my ancestors—used it.”
Better personal than textbook.
“And it originated because we needed a little less blue in our lives.”
And a Union joke for flavor!
“More seriously, it originated because the Confederacy needed a new flag to reflect its differing philosophies from the United States.”
Now, tell me how I’m wrong.
GM: McGinn smiles, at first.
But not widely.
It’s a waiting smile.
It widens a little at the ‘blue’ quip.
But then, at Victoria’s final answer, the smile turns very mean.
“Ya don’t know shit.”
“Please! I know it!” Anna begs. Anna, the history teacher.
McGinn looks between her and Victoria.
Victoria: “I don’t know as much as I should know,” she relents. A flash of meekness passes, but only a flash.
“My blood’s every bit as red as the rest of those with ancestry here. My adoptive mother didn’t believe so much in the same, and I wasn’t the strongest student in history. That doesn’t mean I’m lying to you about my feelings.”
“It’s a rare person who’s able to talk to someone who was there.”
GM: “Adoptive?” Violet says in disgust, as if Victoria just used a foul word.
But McGinn’s face darkens.
“Break yer nose.”
Victoria comes to on the ground. She smells blood. She sees it on the floor. There’s pain in her face.
“You will address Lord Pierpont by his proper title at all times,” Violet declares haughtily.
But McGinn does not look at the human. He is no longer smiling. Not even a little. There’s anger on his face, for the first time Victoria has seen.
“What were names?” he asks, cold blue eyes boring into Victoria’s.
“Yer real ancestors’. Under whose commands did they serve? What units were they in? What ranks did they obtain? In what battles did they fight? Where are they buried?” The questions ring out, one after another, in iron-sharp staccato.
“Because I do so hope you weren’t lyin’ to me about that red-as-ma-own blood o’ yers,” McGinn whispers, his voice dangerously low.
“I do so very hope you were not.”
Anna helplessly looks between McGinn and Victoria.
Adelais’ face could be made from ice, etched into utter contempt.
Victoria: “I don’t know, Lord Councilor. What I do know is that there’s no way I’m anything but from right damn here. And if I can prove it to you, then I’ll damn well prove it to you. And if it’s not, well, then I’d argue I don’t much deserve anything but the execution anyway, would I?”
GM: “You don’t know your own ancestors?” Violet asks in disgust.
McGinn stares at Victoria. Utterly silent.
Violet looks towards him.
Adelais smiles coldly.
“And you said yer blood was red,” McGinn whispers.
“Red as ma own, did ya say.”
“Red as ma own.”
Victoria: She points at the ground.
“I was born right here, Lord Councilor.”
“My loyalty is to here.”
“And if you’d like to play our game, and let me have my request, my loyalty will remain exactly here.”
GM: “You shut yer filthy mouth,” McGinn snarls. His chalky blue eyes blaze with fury.
He rises from his seat.
He holds out his hand.
Violet hands him the whip. The one Jade made from Victoria’s parts.
“Run, liar,” whispers McGinn.
The whip cracks in his hands, louder than any Victoria has heard. Anna jumps back.
Death stares out from the vampire’s eyes.
“Run fer yer life.”
He raises the whip high.
Victoria: She turns, and runs like the very flames of Hell and gaping maws of Cerberus are at her heels, snagging Anna before she launches off.
She runs, and runs, and runs, barreling toward the exit to the manor so quickly that she nearly knocks into the walls twice while making turns.
The front door crashes open and the two tear out onto the palatial entryway. How near is the sun?
GM: McGinn gives chase.
The whip flashes in his hands. Crack. Crack. Crack. With the first stroke, Anna screams, and Victoria smells blood. Hot and flowing. With the second stroke, Victoria’s back is on fire, and she can’t stop the scream as she crashes into the wall. The force—and precision—behind the blows is incredible. Victoria has used her share of whips. She can instantly tell the other vampire has used one before, but she is not sure if he has ever used one for play.
This is real.
She runs, and McGinn gives chase, like a devil out of Hell. Adelais does too. Even though she’s in high heels. Her form impossibly blurs, rippling in a way that’s utterly disgusting, like she’s trying to bolt out of her own flesh. It’s an obscene video playing at schizophrenic-fast speed. The whip sings in her perfectly manicured hands. Crack. Crack. Crack. Anna shrieks. Victoria shrieks. Exquisite pain blossoms across their backs, their necks, everywhere, as the blood flows. Flecks get everywhere. Copper fills Victoria’s nostrils. Adelais and McGinn take turns with the whip. Victoria even learns to distinguish them. McGinn’s are brutally hard, aimed the back, and send her crashing into the walls as he tears off entire sections of skin, reducing her body to bloody tatters. The pain is incredible. She and Anna scream until their throats are raw and they can barely see.
Adelais’ lighter strokes seem almost like relief, but they’re not. They seem like they might be, at first, and then cruelly disappoint. Where McGinn wrecks as much of her and Anna’s bodies as possible, Adelais is the salt rubbed over open wounds, the pain in new and unexpected places. The whip’s lash takes her face. Her pussy. Her feet. Every stroke making the journey that much more painful. That much more harrowing.
The two vampires kiss one another, as they take turns. Sometimes they hit each other. They rip open one another’s skin and lap from the bleeding wounds, then whip Anna and Victoria again, as they give chase. It’s perverse, twisted love. Two spiders devouring the same fly together, with relish.
Victoria fades in and out. Blacks in and out. Reds in and out. The monster within her chest roars to life. It howls in her ears. Fight or flight. Fight or flight. So she runs. She sees red and she runs, half-carrying Anna. She runs like she has never run before in her life.
She bursts through the mansion’s great doors, bleeding and broken, every inch of her and Anna’s shredded skins on fire. McGinn and Adelais do not pursue. They fall to the floor, snarling and biting and ripping off one another’s clothes, one another’s flesh. They tear each other to pieces. They fuck each other to pieces. It’s like watching rabid animals mate.
Outside, the once-black skies are tinged a deep navy.
Victoria already feels unbearably hot.
Victoria: Every stroke lights an impossible fire under their skin, burning hotter and hotter until all they can see is searing white amid a red inferno. Their screams are a chorus. Their blood paints the walls. Victoria hardly notices the macabre actions and features of their pursuers in the overwhelming presence and potency of their assault, and the pressure of her Beast’s flight.
They crash through the doors, and heat overwhelms her.
“N-no,” she stammers, already aware of what’s happening to her. She keeps sprinting, looking for any semblance of cover.
GM: The mansion’s grounds look the size of a small park. There are gardens. Fountains. Trees. Statues. Expanses of grass. In the distance, high walls.
Anna collapses to the grass, broken and wheezing and bleeding. She looks about to pass out.
The skies look bluer than she thought. The heat is unbearable. Like she’s inside an oven.
With the heat being turned steadily higher.
The mansion’s doors slam shut.
Victoria: “Anna! ANNA!”
She wrenches her to her feet.
“If you don’t get up, I’m dead. You hear me. Dead. Gone. Ash. DEAD.”
“And I am NOT leaving you.”
GM: Anna looks half-dead. Three-fourths dead. Her eyes are out of focus. She’s lost her glasses. There’s so much blood. It’s everywhere. It stains Victoria’s hands and stings her cuts. Both of them are still naked. Their skins are latticeworks of pain.
Thin, pungent trails waft from Victoria. She feels like someone is pressing her to a burner at low heat. The sky is so, so bright.
Anna makes a choked wet sound and forces a bleeding foot forward.
Victoria: Victoria wills herself to heal as she scoops the dying woman into her arms, almost dropping her from the slickness of her bloody form.
She sprints, barely laden by her form.
“You fucking stay awake! Don’t you fucking die on me!”
She can’t die now. She can’t burn. She can’t be reduced to ash, because if she does, then Anna won’t make it to the hospital. Then Anna will die.
And she’ll never let that happen.
She tests a jump with Anna in her arms. Can she vault the walls?
GM: It’s like dumping buckets of water out of a leaking boat.
Her broken flesh mends even as it blisters. It’s so, so hot. Sweat would be pouring from her in buckets, but there’s no relief. Just heat.
Heat. And a losing battle.
The sun grows brighter and hotter every second.
Anna’s head lolls against Victoria’s chest. Her hair’s as blood-matted as the rest of her.
“T… th… en’…” she gets out.
The walls look higher than Victoria’s jump.
Higher than can be climbed?
There’s only one way to find out.
And precious little time.
Victoria: “Save your damn breath!”
Anna in one arm, Victoria vaults the wall as high as she can, slamming her fist into it to try and create a grabbable divot.
GM: She leaps.
Her hand seizes the wall top.
That only leaves the rest of her.
The sun glares down on her. Burns down on her.
Anna, awkwardly cradled in Victoria’s other arm, torturously reaches out both of hers towards the wall.
The blood wafting from the lashes on her limbs—no part of her was spared—is distracting.
But less distracting than burning.
Victoria: Victoria pulls with all her might, every single fiber of dead muscle uniting against the sum of their bodies to mount the wall. The fall will be easier. She just needs to pull them both up!
“Anna! Relax! Let me save you!”
GM: Dead muscles strain. Victoria feels pain. Yes, she has well learned that the dead feel pain. But not soreness. She hauls herself and Anna to the top of the wall, even as the sun bears down.
“Won’… le you… burn…” her girlfriend croaks, craning her neck.
On one side are the mansion’s expensive grounds.
On the other, the street, and a black van.
Victoria: That can’t be McGinn’s doing.
Or is this a test?
The pair mount the wall, and Victoria leaps to the far side, cushioning Anna’s fall as much as she can.
She tears toward the Van, testing a door.
GM: Her scabbed and bleeding feet hit the ground. It feels like the surface of an oven. It’s hot. So hot.
Anna jostles and moans in Victoria’s arms. There’s blood. So much blood. It’s a wonder that it isn’t boiling away in the heat.
The driver seat’s door opens first. A man leaps out. Large, with a curly afro and scar on his cheek.
He grabs the back doors and throws them open.
“IN!” he yells.
Victoria: Surprise registers on her face, but her pace doesn’t stop. She dives into the van.
Who the fuck is he?
He’s saved their lives, either way.
She turns to ask.
GM: Victoria doesn’t get a chance.
As soon as she’s in, a stake drives into her heart.