Campaign of the Month: October 2017

Blood & Bourbon

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Master Logs Page

“You want to know how it starts? The same thrice-damned way it always starts. Somebody wants something. Bad. Bad enough to shell out clams, bullets, or blood. Maybe all three.”
Louis Fontaine, retired NOPD detective

This page contains links to all of Blood & Bourbon’s posted adventure logs. Newcomers to the site often want to know: where should they start reading? There are several places they can:

Starting with the best

This option is best for readers who don’t want to immediately commit to reading a thousands-page chronicle.

For such readers, the GM recommends starting with Story 10, which chronicles the journey of Celia Flores from sheltered college student to ruthless Toreador vampire. The GM considers Story 10 to have some of the game’s best writing, tightest plotting, and also considers Celia to be one of the game’s most compelling PCs. Story 10 includes characters and references events from previous adventure logs, but reading those isn’t necessary to understand Story 10.

Once you finish Story 10, you face a fork.

If you want to continue Celia’s story, you can read the rest of her logs in numeric order—Celia Story 11, 12, 13, etc. The GM does not recommend (immediately) reading the logs of other PCs in Stories 11, 12, etc. It will be an inferior reading experience without the context of their preceding story arcs.

If you want to continue Emmett’s story, if you liked the taste of him you got in Story 10, the GM recommends reading Em’s logs in the following order: Emmett Story 3, 8, 9, 12. As with Celia, the GM recommends not reading the logs of the other PCs in Stories 3, 8, 9, etc.

If you want to continue Caroline’s story, the GM recommends reading her logs in the following order: Amelie Story 1 (it sets up the events of Caroline’s storyline), Caroline Story 3, 4, 6, 7, etc.

Reading the whole chronicle

This option is best for people who want to read the whole chronicle from start to finish.

If that’s you, the GM recommends reading the logs in their posted chronological order, starting with Story 1. This order gives the fullest and most complete picture of the chronicle’s events. However, it’s not for the faint of heart! B&B’s posted logs are thousands of pages long in Word/Office and can take quite a while to read through.

Narrative Order vs. Character Order? Readers will notice that the end of adventure every log has links which read “Next/Previous by Narrative” and “Next/Previous by Character.” What are these? Essentially, they let you pick whether you want to cut between different characters as you read through chapters, or stick with a single character for many chapters. It’s like how in ASoIaF, you can read chapters in the order of Arya I, Sansa I, Tyrion I, Bran I, Arya II, etc… or you can just binge through all of the Tyrion chapters.

Reading the logs by Narrative Order will give you a more immediately comprehensive picture of broader events. Reading the logs by Character Order will let you zero in on the story of a particular character. Neither way to read the logs is better or worse than the other. The GM does recommend reading all of the chapters in a given Story before moving on to the next Story, but this isn’t absolute. The chronicle’s overall narrative is bigger than any single PC’s, even if some of them have bigger roles in that meta-narrative than others.

Why don’t green links work?

Links in green are for logs not posted to the site yet. Links in purple are for posted logs.

Story One





Page Count
Amelie I Fresh off the plane from Canada, Amelie touches down in New Orleans to make a new life in the home of her distant aunt, Christina Roberts. Aug. 14, 2015 18 p
Alice Prelude Alice graples with burgeoning psychic powers after a monster replaces her father. Oct. 31, 1993 16 p
Amelie II Amelie settles in to her new home and makes an auspicious purchase from an antique store. Aug. 15, 2015 18 p
Alice I Alice attempts to answer a college professor’s impossible question and investigates several purported hauntings. Aug. 17, 2015 11 p
Amelie III Amelie attends her first day at McGehee, the so-called “Southern belle West Point,” and sets her eye on a purportedly haunted house for a research project. Aug. 17, 2015 31 p
Alice II Alice fends off a petty thief on her way to work and makes a potentially lucrative sale to a rude new customer. Aug. 25, 2015 13 p
Amelie IV Amelie attempts to fit in among her privileged peers. Aug. 17, 2015 23 p
Alice III Alice attends a strained dinner with her mother. Aug. 26, 2015 8 p
Amelie V Amelie sets out to explore the Big Easy’s historic attractions and gets a taste of its equally storied corruption. Aug. 21, 2015 25 p
Alice IV Alice attempts to help a restless spirit pass on, makes a move on a long-held crush, and deals with an angry vampire. Aug. 28, 2015 21 p
Amelie VI Amelie receives a dire prophecy. Aug. 21, 2015 25 p
Alice Epilogue Alice attempts to keep a candle lit in the dark. Aug. 28, 2015 3 p
Amelie VII Amelie makes plans for an overnight stay in one of New Orleans’ most notorious paranormal hot spots. Aug. 24, 2015 35 p
Victoria Prelude I Victoria gets shuffled through the foster system. Oct. 24, 1998 21 p
Caroline Prelude Caroline claims her birthright. Dec. 13, 2003 10 p
Amelie VIII Amelie eavesdrops upon a cruel truth. Aug. 26, 2015 25 p
Victoria Prelude II Victoria finds her family. June 13, 2000 19 p
Amelie IX
Caroline I
Stripped of illusions by her furious aunt, Amelie takes a hard look at the Big Easy’s hidden ugliness. Caroline covers up an embarrassment to her aunt’s alma mater. Aug. 28, 2015 19 p
Victoria I Victoria makes a friend and receives an unusual job offer. Aug. 27, 2007 27 p
Amelie X,
Caroline II
Still determined to get ahead in the city, Amelie attends a privileged lunch. Caroline gives a newcomer some helpful advice. Aug. 28, 2015 19 p
Victoria II Victoria finds out just what she’s capable of. Sep. 19, 2011 25 p
Amelie XI Past and future converge as Amelie braves a night in the infamous LaLaurie Mansion. Aug. 28, 2015 39 p

Story Two

Page Count
George Prelude George plots his rise to power. Apr. 4, 1857 29 p
Julien Prelude Julien tries to make a difference in an uncaring world. Nov. 12, 1912 18 p
Clea Prelude Clea pledges her service to the loa. Mar. 20, 1860 31 p
Emil I Emil receives a mysterious package and responds to a distressed phone call. Aug. 28, 2015 7 p
George I George deals with frenzying guests in his hotel and receives an invitation to visit his exiled clanmate John Harley Matheson from the enchanting young Becky Lynne. Aug. 29, 2015 15 p
Caroline I Caroline gets a 3 AM phone call to bail some family friends out of trouble. Aug. 29, 2015 17 p
Clea I
George II
Julien I
Clea and Julien compete for their sires’ favor and possession of a mysterious artifact. George cuts a deal with a mambo. Aug. 29, 2015 23 p
George III
Julien II
George and Julien pay a visit to the Midnight Bayou and its proprietor Sundown. Aug. 29, 2015 11 p
Caroline II Caroline frantically works to save two lives as new disaster strikes. Aug. 29, 2015 13 p
George IV George searches for companions to entertain Matheson in his exile, but finds not all of the candidates are what they seem. Aug. 30, 2015 35 p
Emil II Emil learns the way things are done among NOPD. Aug. 29, 2015 17 p
George V George violates a new victim, pays his respects to two primogen, and swallows his pride for a miserable trek through Clan Nosferatu’s sewers. Aug. 31, 2015 26 p
Victoria I Victoria helps her best friend through a breakup. Aug. 27, 2015 15 p
Julien III Julien returns to the French Quarter to tie up loose ends, only to receive a lesson in the nature of friendship from Antoine Savoy. Aug. 30, 2015 16 p
George VI George deals with a problematic chauffeur trades truths with an insightful Malkavian. Sep. 1, 2015 24 p
Victoria II Victoria helps out a friend fired from her job. Aug. 28, 2015 19 p
Caroline III Caroline pays a hospital visit to friends old and new. Aug. 29, 2015 8 p
George VII George bears witness to another grim example of Vidal’s justice and smooths over a grudge with the Mafia. Sep. 3, 2015 17 p
Victoria III Victoria locks horns with McGehee’s headmistress negotiating a fired teacher’s severance. Aug. 31, 2015 16 p
Caroline IV
Emil III
Caroline deals with an unexpected fly in her family’s ointment. Emil receives an auspicious visitor. Aug. 30, 2015 14 p
George VIII George receives a warning from an old flame and deals with unforeseen trouble on the road to Matheson’s. Sep. 4, 2015 14 p
Victoria IV Victoria tries to save one life and destroy two. Sep. 20, 2015 22 p
Julien IV Julien meets with one of the Baron’s lieutenants to negotiate a truce between their covenants, only for events to spiral far out of control. Sep. 2, 2015 8 p
George IX George races the rising sun back to the Windsor Court, only to face a second foe he cannot so easily avoid: his own Beast. Sep. 5, 2015 24 p
Victoria V Victoria a consumates a years-old love she never knew she had. Oct. 22, 2015 22 p
Emil IV Emil begins a new investigation into an old mystery. Aug. 30, 2015 11 p
George X George convenes a meeting of Clan Ventrue’s elders to flush out a traitor within the ranks. Sep. 6, 2015 35 p
Victoria VI Victoria enjoys time with her new love and tries to get her released fro a draconian employment contract. Oct. 23, 2015 35 p
Caroline Epilogue A final accounting of what has come to pass. Aug. 30, 2015 2 p
George XI George confronts not one traitor, but three—to explosive results. Sep. 9, 2015 13 p


Page Count
Cletus I Cletus deals with a trespasser on his land. Sep. 9, 2015 3 p

Story Three

Page Count
Louis I Lou descends into the Crescent City’s seedy underbelly to find out who is murdering its prostitutes. Sep. 5, 2015 28 p
Caroline I Caroline finds new troubles trying to forget old ones. Sep. 1, 2015 15 p
Emmett I Em picks an ambitious new mark to con. Sep. 4, 2015 10 p
Louis II Lou witnesses a murder through a dead woman’s eyes, reunites with an old failure, and puts a name to a killer. Sep. 5, 2015 26 p
Caroline II Caroline plunges headfirst into her new existence among the Damned. Sep. 7, 2015 17 p
Emmett II Emmett tries to abort a soured heist while making a few bucks. Sep. 4, 2015 7 p
Louis III Lou turns to the Holy Mother of Church for aid and attempts to pawn off an old keepsake. Sep. 6, 2015 30 p
Caroline III Caroline fights for her unlife when an intruder breaches her daytime haven. Sep. 6, 2015 14 p
Emmett III Concerned he’s in over his head, Em chances a meeting with a crooked cop and walks into a trap of his own devising. Sep. 5, 2015 11 p
Louis IV Lou cases a double homicide and calls up an loa to obtain sorely needed answers. Sep. 7, 2015 13 p
Caroline IV Caroline navigates a tense reunion with her mortal family. Sep. 6, 2015 10 p
Emmett IV Em faces truth. Unknown 10 p
Louis V Lou picks up the pieces of a broken world. Sep. 7, 2015 18 p
Caroline V Caroline faces the Lancea et Sanctum’s judgment for her unsanctioned Embrace. Sep. 6, 2015 18 p
Emmett V Em awakens from his nightmares in the hospital and faces a horrifying loss. Unknown 8 p
Louis VI Lou teams up with a new partner. Sep. 7, 2015 23 p
Caroline VI
Emmett VI
Caroline attends a tediously necessary social function. Em remembers back to better times. May 17, 2014 7 p
Caroline VII
Louis VII
Caroline enlists some desperately needed help in tracking down her sire. Lou takes on a case that makes him question everything he’s ever done. Sep. 7, 2015 7 p
Emmett VII Em gets into further trouble with the NOPD. Sep. 7, 2015 5 p
Caroline VIII Caroline takes a wrong turn in a bad neighborhood. Sep. 7, 2015 33 p
Caroline IX
Louis VIII
Caroline covers up an inconvenient sin. Lou offers guidance to a fledgling in need. Sep. 8, 2015 12 p
Emmett VIII Beset with crushing medical and legal debt, Em strikes a devil’s bargain with the Dixie Mafia. Sep. 10, 2015 7 p
Louis IX Lou reunites with an old flame and confronts a wrathful loa. Sep. 8, 2015 24 p
Caroline X Caroline swears a desperate oath and meets a friendly face among the Damned. Sep. 8, 2015 41 p
Emmett IX Em faces sentencing for his latest misdeeds. Sep. 11, 2015 4 p
Louis X Lou races against time to save a stubborn mambo’s life. Sep. 8, 2015 5 p
Caroline XI Caroline deals with a home invasion, learns an abject lesson in how little her pride sells for, and witlessly crosses a perilous boundary. Sep. 9, 2015 33 p
Emmett X
Mouse I
Em pins his trust on a desperate hope. Mouse helps out a ‘friend’ in need. Sep. 13, 2015 6 p
Louis XI Lou recovers from his previous night’s ordeals and delivers a soul-wrenching apology. Sep. 9, 2015 23 p
Adelais I
Caroline XII
Adelais gives a neonate some lessons in etiquette. Caroline faces a regent’s wrath. Sep. 10, 2015 21 p
Emmett XI A lifetime of lies comes crashing down as Em graples over whether to do the unthinkable: tell the truth. Sep. 13, 2015 10 p
Caroline XIII Caroline frantically tries to stop the Masquerade from unraveling as her mortal loved ones grow too curious for their own good. Sep. 10, 2015 24 p
Louis XII Bereft of allies and options, Lou agrees to a reluctant meeting with the enemies of his enemies. Sep. 9, 2015 13 p
Adelais II
Caroline XIV
Lavine I
Rocco I
Caroline acts fast to protect her loved ones from their exposure to the Kindred world, but finds the price of their safety may be all-too high. Adelais and Lavine puts in apearances at Elysium. Rocco cleans up a neonate’s Masquerade breach. Sep. 11, 2015 22 p
Emmett XII Em accepts his fate. Sep. 13, 2015 3 p
Louis XIII Lou seeks out a long-dead fortune teller for counsel over his ominous new affliction. Sep. 9, 2015 22 p
Caroline XV
Rocco II
Caroline sacrifices a friendship to save a life. Rocco helps teach a neonate a needed lesson. Sep. 11, 2015 28 p
Louis Epilogue A final accounting of what has come to pass. Sep. 10, 2015 2 p
Emmett Epilogue Em adjusts to his new life behind bars. Sep. 14, 2015 8 p


Page Count
Mouse I Mouse witlessly crosses a perilous line. Sep. 13, 2015 14 p
George I George shares a devastating secret with Antoine Savoy. Sep. 10, 2015 16 p

Story Four







Page Count
Micheal Prelude An accounting of what has come before. Jan. 26, 1885 48 p
Caroline I
Louis I
Caroline tempts a witless soul into damnation. Lou tells off a high-profile client. Sep. 11, 2015 21 p
Micheal I Micheal rallies suport against an elder who’s gone too far. Sep. 10, 2015 12 p
Caroline II
Louis II
Caroline repeats an awful sin. Lou settles for losing slowly and stalks a witless pawn. Sep. 12, 2015 23 p
Micheal II Micheal barters with Clan Nosferatu for secrets. Sep. 10, 2015 10 p
Annabelle I
Caroline III
Annabelle plays hostess to some neonates. Caroline clashes with a rival coterie through mortal proxies and shares a bitter drink with her mortal brother. Sep. 12, 2015 36 p
Micheal III Micheal makes an impossible choice between his family and his ideals. Sep. 10, 2015 20 p
Caroline IV Caroline orchestrates a two-pronged hit to reclaim a kidnaped friend, but finds she may be no less a monster. Sep. 13, 2015 26 p
Micheal IV Micheal attempts to sway an intransigent Malkavian. Sep. 11, 2015 5 p
Caroline V Caroline saves a servant and loses a friend. Sep. 13, 2015 23 p
Cletus I
Micheal V
Cletus tests the loyalties of Antoine Savoy’s new ‘ally’. Micheal goes on an alligator hunt with Cletus, only to find his remaining humanity may be the Giovannini’s true quarry. Sep. 11, 2015 11 p
Caroline VI Caroline watches a budding romance bloom full flower. Sep. 14, 2015 22 p
Cletus II
Micheal VI
Cletus and Micheal go hunting for the biggest alligator in the swamp: the Great Honky. Sep. 11, 2015 8 p
Caroline VII Caroline clashes with some twice-slighted rivals for a final time—and the hands behind them. Sep. 14, 2015 21 p
Cletus III
Micheal VII
Micheal attends a birthday party thrown by Cletus’ cannibalistic redneck descendants. Cletus shows his guest the full measure of Southern hospitality. Sep. 11, 2015 22 p
Caroline VIII Caroline interrogates an unexpected captive and tempts a second soul into damnation. Sep. 15, 2015 34 p
Cletus IV
Micheal VIII
Rocco I
Micheal loses more than time at the Boggs’ hands. Cletus celebrates some unexpected nuptials. Rocco issues a warning to a defiant Anarch. Sep. 13, 2015 15 p
Caroline IX
Louis III
Caroline severs another tie to her mortal past. Lou sets out to bring a criminal to justice. Sep. 16, 2015 11 p
Rocco II Rocco passes on some unexpected news to an elder Brujah. Sep. 13, 2015 6 p
Micheal IX The Boggs cross a red line with Micheal. Sep. 13, 2015 15 p
Caroline X
Louis IV
Caroline gets drawn into a perilous game of cat and mouse with her sire. Lou gambles centuries of anonymity over a secret that could change everything. Sep. 16, 2015 28 p
Rocco III Rocco plays a game of cat and mouse with an intransigent harpy. Sep. 14, 2015 11 p
Cletus V
Micheal X
Starving, wounded and out of options, Micheal turns to a seeming friend for aid—only to set and spring a trap of his own making. Cletus exacts vengeance upon a treacherous guest. Sep. 14, 2015 8 p
Caroline XI
Louis V
Caroline faces aprehension for her crimes. Lou takes a once-inconceivable risk. Sep. 16, 2015 12 p
Cletus Epilogue A final accounting of what has come to pass. Sep. 14, 2015 5 p
Louis VI Having exposed his centuries-hidden identity on Caroline’s behalf, Lou withdraws deep into hiding and seeks out an old teacher’s aid. Sep. 16, 2015 33 p
Caroline Epilogue A final accounting of what has come to pass. Sep. 16, 2015 4 p


Page Count
Louis I
Rocco I
An old man tries to save a young boy from sin. Apr. 10, 1888 26 p
Micheal I Bested but not broken by his captors, Micheal holds out for as long as he can. Sep. 14, 2015 4 p
Cletus I Cletus disciplines a wayward childe. Sep. 14, 2015 4 p

Story Five









Page Count
Cletus I
Micheal I
Cletus strikes a new accord with Antoine Savoy. Micheal attempts to make right past wrongs. Sep. 15, 2015 15 p
Jacob Prelude I Jacob suffers for a forbidden love. June 15, 1873 15 p
Lavine I Lavine plumbs the centuries-old journals of Pierre d’Iberville, founder of New Orleans, to uncover an even older mystery. Sep. 11, 2015 12 p
Cletus II
Rocco I
Rocco baits a trap to ensare his new foes. Cletus defends his domain from a dangerous intruder. Sep. 16, 2015 14 p
Jacob Prelude II Jacob makes a devil’s deal for vengeance. Nov. 11, 1880 8 p
Lavine II Lavine runs into several unpleasant reminders of her mortal past and butts heads with a dogged cop. Sep. 12, 2015 22 p
Cletus III
Rocco II
Cletus interrogates his new prisoner. Rocco holds out for as long as he can. Sep. 16, 2015 10 p
Jacob I Jacob comes to New Orleans and receives an unfriendly welcome. Nov. 12, 1880 18 p
Lavine III Lavine journeys beyond New Orleans to seek the wisdom of kowi anukasha, a native spirit of her people. Sep. 12, 2015 8 p
Cletus IV
Rocco III
Cletus continues to enjoy himself. Physically and mentally broken by torture, Rocco entertains a duplicitous offer to yet serve his prince. Sep. 17, 2015 15 p
Jacob II Jacob tries to find a place for himself in a friendless city. July 8, 1916 24 p
Lavine IV Lavine receives a chilling reminder why her race keeps to the cities. Sep. 12, 2015 5 p
Cletus V Cletus prepares a lavish party to host the Camarila’s diplomats, but discovers several flies in his ointment. Sep. 17, 2015 17 p
Jacob III Jacob deals with some hunters. July 13, 1916 14 p
Annabelle I Annabelle aproaches the Ventrue elder John Harley Matheson over a matter of mutual aid, only to find she has struck a devil’s bargain and must immediately pay its price. Sep. 17, 2015 6 p
Jacob IV
Lavine V
Lavine faces arrest by mortal authorities and assumes a grave new responsibility. Jacob welcomes a new addition to his ‘family’. Sep. 13, 2015 6 p
Cletus VI Reeling from a series of new disasters, Cletus shows his mortal descendants the terrible price for disobedience. Sep. 18, 2015 18 p
Baptiste I
Lavine VI
Baptiste offers succor to a wounded soul. Lavine searches for sacrifices to placate a demanding spirit, only to make one of herself as well. Sep. 14, 2015 26 p
Annabelle II
Louis I
Annabelle seeks out an unlikely source of aid. Lou goes against his better judgment to help out a lady in trouble. Sep. 18, 2015 19 p
Baptiste II Baptiste perfects Clan Nosferatu’s underground defenses and trades secrets with his overly affectionate sire. Sep. 18, 2015 13 p
Cletus VII
Jacob V
Lavine VII
Seizing advantage of the conflict among the Circle’s Acolytes, Cletus puts his own pawns into play. Jacob gets in over his head rushing to a distressed ally’s rescue. Lavine turns to the despicable Doc Xola for help with a kidnaping, only to rapidly find his monstrosity too much to bear. Sep. 19, 2015 12 p
Baptiste III Baptiste offers salvation and damnation to a wayward soul and commits himself to a grave new mission. Sep. 18, 2015 11 p
Jacob VI Jacob pleas for his wife’s existence before a pitiless judge. Sep. 19, 2015 4 p
Annabelle III
Louis II
Annabelle plots revenge against those who have wronged her. Lou cases an old murder for new answers. Sep. 18, 2015 22 p
Baptiste IV Baptiste puts into motion a bold plan: the infiltration of Perdido House, seat of Prince Vidal’s power. Sep. 19, 2015 9 p
Cletus VIII
Jacob VII
Cletus receives an early guest to his soiree. Jacob is called upon to provide a sorcerous consultation. Sep. 19, 2015 10 p
Baptiste Epilogue Baptiste faces the consequences of his actions. Sep. 19, 2015 5 p
Annabelle IV
Cletus IX
Jacob VIII
Annabelle presents Cletus with an unorthodox gift. Cletus graciously receives his soiree’s guests and shares an enlightening carriage ride with a disembodied elder. Jacob summons a restless spirit to learn of an ominous intrusion. Sep. 19, 2015 27 p
Annabelle V
Cletus X
Jacob IX
Annabelle searches for allies among the soiree’s attendees. Cletus plies his charms upon his guests and pits the Camarilla against Clan Giovannini in a game of symbolic egg paquing. Sep. 20, 2015 30 p
Annabelle VI
Cletus XI
Jacob X
Annabelle attempts to thwart an assassin’s attack. Cletus moves to conclude his prolix diplomatic deal with the Camarilla, but looming specters threaten to throw all into chaos. Temporarily banished from his domain, Jacob makes provisions for the care of his children and witlessly invites a monster into his home. Sep. 20, 2015 11 p
Epilogue A final accounting of what has come to pass. Sep. 20, 2015 4 p


Page Count
George I George dreams. Sep. 10, 2015 2 p

Story Six

Page Count
George I George enlists legal counsel for his upcoming trial. Sep. 19, 2015 8 p
Mouse I Mouse enlists dubious help to navigate New Orleans’ criminal justice system. Sep. 17, 2015 8 p
Caroline I Caroline deals with a truculent prisoner. Sep. 16, 2015 27 p
Mouse II Mouse faces sentence for his inadvertent crimes. Sep. 17, 2015 11 p
Caroline II Caroline deals with a long-postponed threat to her personal Masquerade. Sep. 17, 2015 29 p
Mouse III Mouse finds himself in dire new financial straits. Sep. 17, 2015 10 p
Caroline III Caroline confronts a dangerous intruder in her haven. Sep. 17, 2015 20 p
Mouse IV Mouse becomes a MeVid sensation. Sep. 17, 2015 11 p
Caroline IV
Mouse V
Caroline punishes a wayward sinner. Mouse endeavors to prove his innocence before two stone-hearted judges. Sep. 17, 2015 14 p
Mouse VI Less than twenty-four hours after his release from jail, Mouse witlessly lands himself in further trouble with the Big Easy’s police. Sep. 18, 2015 11 p
Caroline V Caroline loses a friend and entertains a cautious offer from a powerful new patron. Sep. 18, 2015 29 p
Mouse VII Mouse faces judgment and sentencing for his newest and even more inadvertent crimes. Sep. 21, 2015 7 p
Caroline VI Caroline receives some sorely-needed lessons in Kindred etiquette. Sep. 18, 2015 31 p
Mouse VIII Mouse arrives in his new home. Sep. 21, 2015 4 p
Caroline VII
Louis I
Caroline discovers a damning secret. A wanted man braves too-familiar danger to aid a fledgling in need. Sep. 19, 2015 25 p
Mouse IX Mouse hits rock bottom. Sep. 21, 2015 11 p
Caroline VIII Caroline is called to account for her actions and learns a shattering revelation. Sep. 19, 2015 56 p
Mouse X Mouse makes his final stand. Sep. 22, 2015 5 p
Caroline IX Caroline grants a faithful servant her final reward. Sep. 20, 2015 43 p
Mouse Epilogue A final accounting of what has come to pass. Sep. 22, 2015 14 p
Caroline X
Cletus I
George II
Rocco I
Caroline comes face to face with her true maker. Cletus makes a trip out to the big city. George betrays two clanmates. Rocco pulls some strings to acquire a new pawn. Sep. 20, 2015 38 p
Caroline XI
Cletus II
George III
Cletus hatches a plan to avenge past slights. George is charged with blasphemy against the Lancea et Sanctum. Sep. 20, 2015 44 p
Cletus III
George IV
Cletus develops a newfound apreciation for the arts. George clashes with New Orleans’ dreaded scourge and pledges loyalty to a new cause and patron. Sep. 20, 2015 45 p
Caroline XII
Jacob I
Rocco II
Caroline presents herself before her clanmates. Jacob and his fellow accused face Prince Vidal’s final judgment for their crimes. Rocco invites a neonate to a party. Sep. 21, 2015 34 p

Story Seven

Page Count
Caroline I Caroline reminisces over what might (and could never) have been. Sep. 22, 2015 27 p
Isa Prelude Isa tries to save two brothers. May 12, 2001 15 p
Caroline II Caroline receives a rude awakening and enjoys the hospitality of a powerful new patron. Sep. 23, 2015 21 p
Isa I Isa dies in a bathroom. Dec. 3rd, 2011 19 p
Caroline III
Rocco I
Caroline attends a tediously necessary social function. Rocco entertains a party of neonates. Sep. 23, 2015 20 p
Caroline IV Caroline faces a bitter preview of her Requiem ahead. Sep. 24, 2015 15 p
Isa II Isa walks a social tightrope at Elysium. Jan. 9, 2012 12 p
Caroline V Caroline attends a family funeral. Sep. 30, 2015 10 p
Rocco II
Rocco raids a lawbreaker’s haven. Isa sells out a faithless ‘benefactor’. Jan. 9, 2012 13 p
Caroline VI Caroline works to engender herself to her discerning clanmates. Oct. 4, 2015 38 p
Rocco III Rocco collects an owed debt and receives a concerning warning about his new tenant. Sep. 14, 2015 14 p
Caroline VII Caroline sees to her mortal affairs and attempts to set right some old wrongs. Oct. 7, 2015 24 p
Milo Prelude
Louis I
Milo loses a brother. July 13, 2002 13 p
Caroline VIII Caroline attempts to mend relations with a former adversary. Oct. 11, 2015 14 p
Rocco IV A gathering of old friends goes awry as Rocco plays a game of scopa for answers as to a former coterie-mate’s past. Sep. 25, 2015 17 p
Caroline IX
Emmett I
Caroline frames an old patsy for a new crime. Em takes a trip outside the Farm. Oct. 14, 2015 32 p
Milo I Milo deals with a bizarre home invasion. Dec. 8, 2015 11 p
Caroline X
Rocco V
Caroline and Rocco look into a missing neonate. Sep. 25, 2015 88 p
Milo II Milo attempts to brighten his spirits among friends and strangers. Dec. 9, 2015 20 p
Caroline XI Caroline attempts to help an amnesiac solve her own disapearance to make inroads with the city’s Anarchs. Oct. 7, 2015 63 p
Milo III Milo pays a visit to what’s left of his father. Dec. 9, 2015 14 p
Caroline XII Caroline investigates the circumstances of her still-mysterious Embrace. Oct. 13, 2015 42 p
Caroline XIII Caroline displays the fruits of her agoge before Clan Ventrue. Oct. 19, 2015 15 p
Arthur I
Caroline XIV
Arthur prepares a lavish banquet for some demanding patrons. Caroline attends a celebratory dinner. Nov. 27, 2015 40 p
Caroline XV Caroline receives a mother’s gratitude—and rich rewards long overdue. Dec. 4, 2015 23 p
Milo IV Milo receives a warning from an anonymous benefactor and braves the darkness to take the fight to his tormentors. Dec. 9, 2015 12 p
Caroline XVI Caroline discovers a terrible danger waiting in the wings. Dec. 4, 2015 39 p
Caroline XVII
Rocco VI
Caroline navigates a perilous web of diplomacy and deceit. Rocco deals with an attack upon his domain. Dec. 16, 2015 38 p
Caroline XVIII Caroline learns the truth of her Embrace at long last. Jan. 9, 1815 46 p


Page Count
Caroline I Caroline gets into a bitter family argument. Dec. 17, 2015 29 p
Caroline II Caroline makes some acquintances at Elysium. Dec. 18, 2015 39 p

Story Eight






Page Count
Caroline I Caroline celebrates a birthday. Dec. 19, 2015 46 p
Arthur I
Emmett I
Arthur dances an evening away. Emmett sets his eye on a new conquest. Sep. 7, 2007 16 p
Adelais I A heartless art critic discovers her true calling. Jan. 5, 1870 30 p
Emmett II Emmett snares the object of his lusts with sweet words—and finds himself ensnared in turn. Sep. 7, 2007 19 p
Emmett III Emmett resolves to make a movie and gets in over his head. Sep. 10, 2007 14 p
Arthur II
Emmett IV
Arthur hits on a new acquaintance. Emmett makes a long-planned romantic move. Sep. 11, 2007 17 p
Emil I
Emmett V
Emil auditions for a movie. Emmett reviews a script that cuts too close to home. Sep. 15, 2007 26 p
Adelais II Adelais reaches an accord over a prosperous new domain. Feb. 27, 1975 p
Emil II Emil digs up old graves for answers into his father’s past. Sep. 22, 2007 17 p
Emmett VI Emmett meets the girl he deserves. Sep. 22, 2007 24 p
Adelais III An icy-tempered harpy enjoys her Requiem’s spoils. July 14, 2015 3 p
Emil III
Emmett VII
Past becomes present as Emil relives a horrific memory. Emmett helps a man in need. Sep. 26, 2007 19 p
Emil IV Emil deals with inquisitive police—and parents—in the hospital. Sep. 26, 2007 22 p
Emmett VIII Emmett gets even like never before. Sep. 26, 2007 56 p
Emil V Emil foretells a dire prophecy. Sep. 26, 2007 34 p
Emmett IX Emmett walks into a lion’s den. Sep. 27, 2007 39 p
Emil VI Emil’s parents try to outrun his past. Sep. 29, 2007 27 p
Emmett X Emmett comes to a final understanding with his parents. Sep. 28, 2007 18 p
Emil VII Emil peers upon a foreboding future. Sep. 30, 2007 16 p
Adelais IV Adelais places a “friendly” wager with her brutal paramour. Sep. 15, 2015 5 p
Emmett XI
Emil places his faith in a faithless man. Emmett gets some much-needed legal representation. Oct. 6, 2007 17 p
Emil IX Emil comes home. Oct. 6, 2007 35 p
Emmett Epilogue A final accounting of what has come to pass. Oct. 6, 2007 44 p

Story Nine






Page Count
Jon I Jon touches down in Vienna and receives a new mission. Feb. 3, 2016 23 p
Emmett I Emmett is executed for his crimes by the state of Louisiana. Jan. 5, 2016 13 p
Amelie I Amelie awakens from a coma into a nightmare. Unknown 8 p
Emil I Emil’s troubles follow him to L.A. Oct. 16, 2007 21 p
Jon II Jon uncovers an alarming security breach among Clan Tremere’s secret police. Feb. 4, 2016 14 p
Amelie II
Emmett II
Amelie explores new realms beyond her darkest imaginings. Emmett faces his afterlife. Unknown 24 p
Emil II Emil accepts a devil’s bargain. Unknown 18 p
Jon III Jon plays an unseen game of cat and mouse with a justicar’s agents. Feb. 5, 2016 11 p
Emmett III Emmett faces judgment for his past sins. Unknown 13 p
Amelie III Amelie reunites with an old enemy. Unknown 16 p
Emil III Emil settles in to his aparent new life. Oct. ?, 2007 21 p
Jon IV Jon reminds a long-time servant of her place. Feb. 6, 2016 19 p
Emmett IV Emmett trades a tale for a tale. Unknown 11 p
Amelie IV Amelie gets in trouble with the law over a falsified crime. Unknown 14 p
Emil IV Emil erects the first block in his transyphysical tower. Oct. 16th 25 p
Jon V Dark wings alight upon Jon’s trans-Atlantic plane flight. Feb. 6, 2016 17 p
Emmett V Emmett shares a bitter reunion with his living kin. Unknown 19 p
Amelie V Amelie endures. Unknown 14 p
Emil V Emil journeys into Houston’s labyrinthine underground. Oct. 17th 23 p
Jon VI Jon says a bittersweet farewell. Feb. 7, 2016 11 p
Emmett VI Emmett faces imprisonment by an altogether different manner of gaoler. Unknown 16 p
Amelie VI Amelie begins her jail sentence in Orleans Parish Prison. Unknown 16 p
Emil VI Emil meets a fellow seeker in his quest for knowledge. Oct. 17th 35 p
Jon VII Jon collects his childe and sees to remaining affairs in Seattle. Feb. 10, 2016 15 p
Emmett VII Emmett gets to know his cellmates. Unknown 18 p
Amelie VII Pushed and provoked beyond all endurance, Amelie snaps. Unknown 18 p
Emil VII Emil witensses a hidden wonder. Oct. 18th 5 p
Rocco I
Jon receives a poor welcome in New Orleans. Rocco greets a new arrival to his prince’s city. Feb. 11, 2016 27 p
Emmett VIII Emmett risks all to defy his gaolers. Unknown 11 p
Amelie Epilogue A final accounting of what has come to pass Unknown 2 p

Story Ten





Page Count
Celia Prelude I Celia celebrates the worst birthday ever. July 17, 1997 24 p
Celia Prelude II Celia learns to pretend. Nov. 16, 2003 27 p
Celia I Celia takes her first step outside her sheltered life. June 24, 2008 36 p
Celia II
Emmett I
Celia tries to introduce her boyfriend to her parents. Em submits to his latest indignity. Nov. 10, 2008 35 p
Celia III Celia resolves to stop suffering in silence. Nov. 24, 2008 25 p
Celia IV
Emmett II
Celia sacrifices her dignity to provide for her family. Em fans a spark of rebellion. Nov. 26, 2008 28 p
Celia V Celia meets her boyfriend’s family and searches for her biological father. Dec. 10, 2008 24 p
Celia VI Celia finds some unexpected financial help. Dec. 16, 2008 35 p
Celia VII Celia dares to challenge her father. Dec. 18, 2008 34 p
Caroline I
Celia VIII
Emmett III
Caroline helps her father clean up a mess. Celia works to extricate her family from their father’s grasp. Emmett makes a helpful introduction. Mar. 31, 2009 39 p
Celia IX
Emmett IV
Celia looks for love in all the wrong places. Em tries to do the right thing without it backfiring. Mar. 31, 2009 42 p
Celia X
Emil I
Emmett V
Celia tries to keep her family safe from an abuser. Em tries to give some good advice for once. Emil cultivates an investment. Apr. 1, 2009 34 p
Celia XI
Emmett VI
Celia chooses between a mother and friend in need. Em plans to take down a bastard in need of taking down. Apr. 1, 2009 28 p
Celia XII
Emmett VII
Celia makes a devil’s bargain. Em finds no good deed goes ununpunished. Apr. 1, 2009 32 p
Celia XIII
Emil II
Emmett VIII
Celia watches a loved one pay the price for a fateful choice. Emil and Emmett try to offer what comfort they can. Apr. 2, 2009 34 p
Celia XIV Celia comes face to face with the monster under the bed. Apr. 2, 2009 18 p
Emil III
Emmett IX
Emil and Emmett run for their lives with a tape that may decide everything. Apr. 2, 2009 20 p
Emil IV Emil flees from an unstopable foe. Apr. 2, 2009 2 p
Celia XV Celia decides between fortune and family. Apr. 2, 2009 34 p
Celia XVI Celia confronts her sire. Apr. 3, 2009 34 p
Celia XVII
Emmett X
Celia reaches a bitter accord. Emmett tries to just go home. Apr. 2, 2009 30 p

Story Eleven

Page Count
Caroline I Caroline comes to a reckoning with her mortal family. Dec. 17, 2015 28 p
Jon I Jon reunites with an old friend and colleague. Feb. 11, 2016 29 p
Celia I Celia settles in to her existence among the Damned. Apr. 8, 2009 26 p
Caroline II Caroline deals with her disownment. Dec. 23, 2015 28 p
Jon II Jon and another old friend educate a fledgling. Feb. 11, 2016 37 p
Celia II Celia runs into some unexpected reminders from her old life. Aug. 29, 2010 23 p
Caroline III Caroline celebrates a Christmas Eve unlike any other. Dec. 24, 2015 21 p
Amelie I Free from Orleans Parish Prison, Amelie reckons with her all-too abrupt damnation. Unknown 25 p
Celia III Celia prepares for a child’s birth and celebrates a cheerless Christmas. Jan. 2, 2015 16 p
Caroline IV Caroline sees to her myriad affairs. Dec. 26, 2015 53 p
Celia IV Celia allows herself to be used. Jan. 1, 2010 53 p
Adelais I
Caroline V
Isa I
Rocco I
The city’s Kindred converge upon Elysium—and find much spectacle in a disorderly guest. Feb. 11, 2016 67 p
Celia V Celia breaks a defiant soul and makes a new ally. Apr. 6, 2010 63 p
Rocco II Rocco nurses his wounds and plots a comeback. Feb. 13, 2016 15 p
Caroline VI
Isa II
Caroline looks for a long-found missing person. Isa learns a brother’s fate. Feb. 16, 2016 22 p
Celia VI Celia tries to rekindle an old flame. July 20, 2012 44 p
Amelie II
Caroline VII
Amelie makes a grisly sacrifice for a new benefactor. Caroline deals with a disobedient servant. Feb. 20, 2016 31 p
Jon IV Jon investigates a traitorous clanmate’s haven. Feb. 12, 2016 20 p
Amelie III
Caroline VIII
Amelie comes to a second rude awakening. Caroline curries favor with a primogen. Feb. 20, 2016 21 p
Celia VII Celia confesses to an old betrayal. July 26, 2012 42 p
Jon V Jon twists a seeming faux pas to his advantage and pays a visit to an old friend’s childer. Feb. 12, 2016 18 p
Amelie IV
Caroline IX
Amelie tries to learn more about what she is. Caroline shows a new fledgling the ropes. Feb. 20, 2016 19 p
Celia VIII Celia takes an auspicious spa client. Sep. 2, 2015 31 p
Jon VI Jon plumbs a renegade clanmate’s secret journals. Feb. 12, 2016 17 p
Amelie V
Rocco III
Amelie is presented before the seneschal. Rocco takes an interest in an abandoned fledgling. Feb. 20, 2016 19 p
Caroline X Caroline seeks out lost souls and tries to apease an affronted elder. Feb. 20, 2016 33 p
Amelie Epilogue A final accounting of what has come to pass. Feb. 20, 2016 2 p
Caroline XI Someone close asks Caroline to cover up an unspeakable crime. Feb. 29, 2016 55 p
Jon VII Jon investigates a clanmate’s attack and a faithful ghoul’s more esoteric discoveries. Feb. 13, 2016 15 p
Caroline XII Caroline prunes a poisoned tree, looks for love where she can find it, and uncovers a primogen’s treachery. Feb. 29, 2016 62 p
Jon VIII Jon agrees to perform the surgery of a lifetime. Feb. 13, 2016 18 p
Caroline XIII Caroline comes to a final reckoning with her mortal mother and a long-hated foe. Mar. 1, 2016 21 p
Celia IX
Jon IX
Celia plies her charms upon a potential new patron. Jon tests a promising neonate. Feb. 13, 2016 17 p
Caroline XIV Caroline settles in among her new family. Mar. 6, 2016 29 p
Celia X Estrellado finds a new lover. Mar. 1, 2016 49 p
Caroline XV Caroline crosses her Rubicon. Mar. 8, 2016 18 p
Jon Epilogue Jon is recalled from New Orleans to deal with a new emergency. Feb. 15, 2016 1 p
Caroline XVI Caroline confronts her sire—her true sire—and meets her destiny. Mar. 7, 2016 40 p

Story Twelve






Page Count
Caroline I Caroline brings a dead woman back to life. Mar. 7, 2016 48 p
Emmett I Em gets acquainted with his band of fellow escapees. Unknown 20 p
Celia I Celia reminds her servants of their place. Mar. 4, 2016 30 p
Caroline II Caroline deals with another disobedient servant. Mar. 7, 2016 25 p
Emmett II Em catches up with an old girlfriend. Unknown 16 p
Celia II Celia drinks from the wrong vessel before a poorly-timed family dinner. Mar. 6, 2016 28 p
Caroline III Caroline attempts to enjoy a peaceful day with her new family. Mar. 7, 2016 72 p
Emmett III
Lamarck I
Em spies on a vampire and encounters a helpful soul in the Underworld. Lam finds some rubes to con. Unknown 31 p
Celia III Celia takes up the Nosferatu on a dare. Mar. 6, 2016 18 p
Caroline IV Caroline balances her new duties with increasingly unanswerable personal demands. Mar. 7, 2016 35 p
Emmett IV Emmett graples with his Shadow and spies on his ex-lover. Unknown 18 p
Celia IV Celia tries to smooth things over with her mortal family. Mar. 7, 2016 36 p
Caroline V Caroline contends with the sheriff to sway her sire’s increasingly unstable rule. Mar. 8, 2016 27 p
Emmett V Weary of fighting his dark side, Em strikes an accord with an even greater evil. Unknown 13 p
Caroline VI Caroline stages a mother’s death. Mar. 9, 2016 52 p
Celia V Celia wakes up kidnaped. Mar. 8, 2016 23 p
Caroline VII
Emmett VI
Caroline evaluates a new asset. Em forgives an old sin. Mar. 9, 2016 30 p
Celia VI
Emmett VII
Em and Celia dance through a shared dream. Mar. 8, 2016 20 p
Celia VII Celia interrogates a truculent prisoner. Mar. 8, 2016 42 p
Ayame Prelude Ayame suffers under a cruel domitor. Nov. 11, 2009 13 p
Celia VIII Celia lets her hair down at one of the French Quarter lord’s infamous revels. Mar. 8, 2016 41 p
Emmett VIII Em hunts for souls. Unknown 15 p
Celia IX Celia says a surprisingly easy goodbye. Mar. 9, 2016 24 p
Caroline VIII
Celia X
A children’s playdate turns perilous as Celia reveals her true identity to a dangerous party. Mar. 9, 2016 59 p
Celia XI Celia digs into the past with her mortal mother. Mar. 9, 2016 28 p
Ayame I
Celia XII
Ayame tries to avert a massacre of the city’s thin-bloods. Celia tries to lure an older lover back into her arms. Dec. 4, 2011 47 p
Caroline IX Caroline travels beyond the Crescent City to meet one of the rare few Kindred to enjoy its seneschal’s trust. Mar. 9, 2016 36 p
Celia XIII Celia reconnects with her one-time paramour. Mar. 9, 2016 61 p
Ayame II Ayame reaches an arrangement with an unexpected contact. Mar. 10, 2016 p
Celia XIV Celia receives a dire mission from her sire. Mar. 10, 2016 61 p
Caroline X Caroline battles a Sabbat pack. Mar. 9, 2016 23 p
Celia XV
Emmett IX
Celia deals with some unexpected daytime intruders. Em collects a few more souls. Mar. 10, 2016 23 p
Caroline XI Caroline seals a pact in blood. Mar. 9, 2016 19 p
Celia XVI Celia runs into an unwelcome figure from her past. Mar. 10, 2016 39 p
Emmett X Em hits a potential jackpot. Unknown 26 p
Celia XVII Celia deliberates what to do about hunters and her mother’s new infatuation. Mar. 10, 2016 55 p
Caroline XII Caroline welcomes a visiting elder to Cairo. 12 p
Emmett XI
Celia seeks advice over a soul-eater. Em halfheartedly hopes for forgiveness. Mar. 10, 2016 51 p
Celia XIX Celia puts in an apearance at Elysium. Mar. 11, 2016 56 p
Emmett XII
Lamarck II
Emmett commits his greatest transgression yet. Unknown 35 p
Caroline XIII Caroline meets hew new mother’s sister and considers a marriage proposal. Mar. 11, 2016 29 p
Celia XX Celia shepherds a fledgling into the night. Mar. 11, 2016 55 p
Caroline XIV Caroline’s mother teaches her a horrifying lesson. Mar. 12, 2016 41 p
Emmett XIII Emmett prepares to receive his heart’s desire. Unknown 9 p
Celia XXI Celia hears the last words she ever expected to from an estranged relative. Mar. 12, 2016 64 p
Emmett XIV Emmett battles his Shadow to the death for the ultimate prize. Unknown 27 p
Caroline XV Caroline faces an assassination attempt aiding a clanmate in need. Mar. 12, 2016 58 p
Celia XXII Celia breaks some surprising news to her family. Mar. 12, 2016 45 p
Emmett XV Emmett is reborn. Unknown 9 p
Caroline XVI Caroline interrogates a prisoner and attempts to secure new swords in her upcoming battle. Mar. 13, 2016 40 p
Celia XXIII Celia takes a new lover. Mar. 12, 2016 46 p
Ayame III Ayame gets asked for inconvenient help. Mar. 10, 2016 6 p
Celia XXIV Celia weaves new intrigues with her grandsire. Mar. 13, 2016 37 p
Celia XXV
Emmett XVI
Emmett gets a new face. Mar. 13, 2016 19 p
Caroline XVI
Caroline and Celia share a moment with one of the few Kindred to understand them. Mar. 13, 2016 51 p
Celia XXVIII Celia flees a madhouse. Mar. 13, 2016 21 p
Emmett XVII Emmett decides how to spend his new unlife. Mar. 13, 2016 15 p
Celia XXIX Celia her tries to win her sire’s aproval and stop the Masquerade from unraveling around her mortal family. Mar. 13, 2016 38 p
Emmett Epilogue A final accounting of all that has come to pass Mar. 13, 2016 7 p

Story Thirteen










Page Count
Celia I Celia picks up the pieces of a broken Masquerade. Mar. 13, 2016 41 p
Genevieve I
Sterling I
Genevieve finds a new domitor. Sterling finds a new conscience. Feb. 13, 2013 14 p
Celia II Celia prepares for possible war. Mar. 13, 2016 34 p
Celia III Celia reunites a brother and sister. Mar. 13, 2016 59 p
Genevieve II
Sterling II
Genevieve does her best to please her new master. Sterling rewards and punishes his new conscience. Feb. 14, 2013 16 p
Celia IV Celia breaks in a new ghoul and walks back from a terrible mistake. Mar. 14, 2016 54 p
Celia V Celia attempts to win back an aggrieved friend and cover up a new weakness. Mar. 14, 2016 55 p
Genevieve III
Sterling III
Genevieve gets even with an old tormentor. Sterling makes up with his ghoul. Apr. 17, 2013 14 p
Celia VI Celia deals with a spy. Mar. 15, 2016 43 p
Celia VII Celia feeds an alien hunger. Mar. 15, 2016 89 p
Genevieve IV
Sterling IV
Genieve urges her domitor to do the right thing. Sterling takes his conscience on a date. May 15, 2013 13 p
Celia VIII Celia prepares to seduce an ex-prince with her new lover. Mar. 16, 2016 47 p
Celia IX Celia meets the luckiest man in New Orleans. Mar. 16, 2016 36 p
Genevieve V
Sterling V
Genevieve tries to do the right thing. Sterling pushes the limits of his new conscience. June 6, 2013 18 p
Celia X Celia tries to reconcile two quarreling siblings. Mar. 16, 2016 65 p
Celia XI Celia learns and regrets new truths about her mother and a doll long in her possession. Mar. 17, 2016 59 p
Jean-Marc Prelude Jean-Marc’s sins catch up with him. Feb. 16, 2016 10 p
Celia XII Celia slums it in Rampart Street to question a Quarter rat. Mar. 17, 2016 53 p
Celia XIII Celia takes another lover and gets caught up in a Mafia hit job. Mar. 18, 2016 52 p
Jean-Marc I Jean-Marc entertains an offer to commit his first murder. Mar. 17, 2016 24 p
Celia XIV Celia shatters her paramour’s world with a truth he never wanted to face. Mar. 18, 2016 38 p
Celia XV Celia attempts to comfort a father in his loss. Mar. 18, 2016 51 p
Julius I Julius expels an intruder from his landlord’s domain while grapling with the Beast within. Feb. 25, 2016 11 p
Celia XVI Celia tries to forestall her sire’s wrath with a heart-wrenching sacrifice. Mar. 18, 2016 41 p
Celia XVII
Julius II
Celia taunts a sister and seeks out a Malkavian for answers. Julius acquits himself in Elysium despite his clanless blood. Mar. 18, 2016 61 p
Louis I Lou gets back in the game. Dec. 12, 2015 6 p
Celia XVIII Celia’s lover takes charge of their relationship. Mar. 19, 2016 49 p
Louis II Lou torches a vampire and tries to help a weary ghost find peace. Dec. 12, 2015 21 p
Celia XIX Celia searches for answers among licks who can’t or won’t share them. Mar. 19, 2016 33 p
Celia XX Celia dons a familiar mask as she submits to another abuser. Mar. 19, 2016 57 p
Louis III Lou inducts another hunter into the Vigil. Dec. 12, 2015 14 p
Celia XXI Celia helps her mother forgive her other personality’s misdeeds. Mar. 19, 2016 45 p
Celia XXII
Cletus I
Julius III
Celia cuts an accord with a Caiiff, reports her findings on some hunters, and enjoys herself at a period party. Cletus spends some time with his famiglia. Julius sells a yacht and makes a fashionable debut to Savoy’s court. Mar. 19, 2016 56 p
Louis IV Lou takes a trip up to the Farm. Mar. 20, 2016 14 p
Julius IV
Celia reaches an accord with Reynaldo Gui and gets attacked by a vengeful Gangrel. Julius offers some translation help. Mar. 20, 2016 39 p
Louis V Lou asks forgiveness for killing a mother. Mar. 12, 2015 14 p
Celia XXIV Celia faces kidnaping and torture at the Guard de Ville’s hands. Mar. 20, 2016 45 p
Caroline I, Celia Caroline entertains a messenger from her sire’s archrival. Celia makes a cruel point to her other personality’s lover. Mar. 15, 2016 18 p
Celia XXV Celia heals a divided soul. Mar. 20, 2016 66 p
Celia XXVI Celia clashes with the hounds in Elysium to unmask a spy. Mar. 20, 2016 55 p
Caroline I

Caroline takes an unpleasant phone call. Celia brings another family member in on her secret. Mar. 21, 2016 69 p
Celia XXVIII Roderick gives Celia one last chance to fix their relationship. Mar. 21, 2016 53 p
Caroline II Caroline attempts to reach an accord with her sire’s archrival. Mar. 17, 2016 21 p
Celia XXIX Celia and an ex-lover get even with one another. Mar. 21, 2016 52 p
Caroline III Caroline weighs a marriage proposal in her newfound mission to destroy the sheriff. Mar. 17, 2016 21 p
Celia XXX Celia tempts a once-good man into the blackest of sins. Mar. 21, 2016 67 p
Caroline IV Caroline proves her devotion to her sire’s oldest servant. Mar. 18, 2016 9 p
Caroline VI
Celia XXXI
Caroline deigns to help cover up a Masquerade breach. Celia tries to hold her family together against everything tearing their lives apart. Mar. 22, 2016 62 p
Celia XXXII Celia tries to safeguard her sister from exposure to the Kindred world and helps her mother reach an understanding with her other personality. Mar. 22, 2016 78 p
Caroline VII
Louis VI
Caroline braves a death trap to retrieve a dead hunter’s secrets. Lou pays an old “friend” an unexpected visit. Mar. 22, 2016 20 p
Celia XXXIII Celia takes out her frustrations on someone weaker after an unfortunate lapse of control. Mar. 22, 2016 51 p
Celia XXXIV Celia tries to patch things up with a furious sister. Mar. 22, 2016 45 p
Caroline VIII
Louis VII
Lou and Caroline attempt to reach an accord as a seemingly unstopable foe bears down. Mar. 23, 2016 36 p
Celia XXXV Celia searches for a thin-blooded alchemist. Mar. 22, 2016 63 p
Caroline IX
Louis VIII
Lou and Caroline risk all in battle against the deadliest adversary they have yet faced: Donovan, sheriff of New Orleans. Mar. 23, 2016 33 p
Celia XXXVI Celia runs into an old abuser. Mar. 23, 2016 64 p
Caroline X Caroline battles treacherous allies after a fragile coalition crumbles. Mar. 23, 2016 31 p
Celia XXXVII Celia plumbs her sire’s haven for secrets. Mar. 23, 2016 76 p
Celia XXXVIII Celia awakens in a sister’s care and receives a chilly homecoming. Mar. 23, 2016 23 p
Epilogue Seizing advantage of Vidal’s new weakness, Savoy and the Baron launch major offensives into their archrival’s territory. Mar. 23, 2016 p

Story Fourteen

Page Count
Caroline II, Celia I Caroline tries to warn a lover away from danger. Celia attends to a battle’s fallen. Mar. 24, 2016 43 p
Celia II Celia searches her father’s house for demonic influence. Mar. 26, 2016 33 p
Celia III Celia exposes an old lie about her paternity. Mar. 27, 2016 36 p
Celia IV Celia operates on her mother’s leg and upholds an unpleasant agreement with an ex. Mar. 30, 2016 30 p
Celia V Celia trains under her sister-in-blood, pays a social call to Pierpont McGinn, and delivers a mother her child’s body. Mar. 31, 2016 24 p
Celia VI Celia takes her mortal sister, disguised as a ghoul, on a “field trip” to experience Kindred society. Apr. 2, 2016 73 p
Celia VII Celia meets a long-estranged aunt and her dead sister’s son. Apr. 2, 2016 46 p
Celia VIII Apr. 5, 2016
Celia IX Celia plans her own death. Apr. 9, 2016 51 p
Celia X Celia discovers a group of humans performing blasphemous medical experiments unlike any she’s seen. Apr. 10, 2016 31 p
Celia XI Celia seizes a chance to redeem herself in her grandsire’s eyes by negotiating an accord with a group of hunters. Apr. 13, 2016 46 p
Celia XII Celia seeks out legal counsel from the last person she expected: the spurned ex-lover who was once her everything. Apr. 15, 2016 55 p
Celia XIII, Isadora I Celia smooths over a social worker’s visit to her family; Isadora checks in on a child’s welfare. Apr. 18, 2016 20 p
Celia XIV Celia executes her plot to fake her own death, double-crossing the Guard de Ville in a fradulent hand-off. Apr. 18, 2016

Page Count
Caroline I Caroline forges a despicable alliance. Mar. 23, 2016 15 p
Caroline II, Celia I Caroline tries to warn a lover away from danger. Celia attends to a battle’s fallen.
Caroline III Caroline buries a casquette girl. 17 p
Caroline IV Caroline brings her mortal family under heel. 42 p
Caroline V Caroline meets her new confessor and makes inroads with the city’s magi. 22 p
Caroline VI 18 p
Caroline VII
Caroline VIII

Page Count
Jon I Jon receives a lucrative offer from New Orleans’ seneschal.

Page Count
Nylea Prelude An accounting of what has come before. 34 p

Page Count
Victoria I Victoria celebrates Christmas with two families and comes out of the closet to one. Nov. 23, 2015 14 p
Victoria II Victoria plots revenge against the Malveaux family for destroying her partner’s career. Mar. 14, 2016 23 p
Victoria III Victoria purchases a house of sin. Mar. 29, 2016 26 p
Victoria IV Victoria clashes with her mother over her partner’s future. Apr. 1, 2016 20 p
Victoria V Victoria receives a midnight phone call from a client terrified for his life—and soul. Apr. 4, 2016 16 p
Victoria VI Victoria hunts down a lunatic for answers about an approaching danger. Apr. 5, 2016 26 p
Victoria VII Victoria deals with a client’s mental breakdown, takes confession with a too-knowing priest, and responds to a home invasion. Apr. 5, 2016 33 p
Victoria VIII Victoria endures a brutal kidnapping and torture. Apr. 6, 2016 18 p
Victoria IX Victoria wakes up a vampire. Unknown 27 p
Victoria X Victoria’s incredulous girlfriend tries to check her in to a psych ward. Apr. 7, 2016 29 p
Victoria XI p

Page Count
Zoe I Zoe gets kicked out by her family. Mar. 30, 2016 26 p
Zoe II Zoe finds a place to sleep. Mar. 30, 2016 34 p
Zoe III Zoe finds herself forced into sex work to make ends meet. Mar. 31, 2016 46 p
Zoe IV Zoe gets sent to jail after her doctoral advisor’s demands grow unbearable.
Apr. 1, 2016
42 p
Celia, Zoe V Zoe rots in her cell and thinks back to happier times.
Zoe VI Starving and dead on her feet after three days in jail, Zoe reunites with her sister. Apr. 4, 2016

Tall Tales & Might-Have-Beens

The following logs are not canon. They weren’t played out and are speculative fiction written by the game’s players. Nevertheless, truth may be found in lies, and lies may be found in truth: the “real” logs have misinformation and falsehoods aplenty, while the below logs may contain valid insights into characters’ true selves.

At the end of the night, vampires are a race of liars. Find your version of the truth wherever you can.

By Emily
Whore: Celia learns her place. Sequel to Celia 10.4.
Capes: Celia waits for her sire. Sequel to Story Ten.
Gravestones: Celia pays respects to her lost love. Sequel to Story Ten.
Monsters and Maidens: Celia’s love takes her as a ghoul. Sequel to Story Ten.
Wrists: Celia mourns a wedding that can no longer be. Sequel to Story Ten.
Midnight: Celia celebrates the new year. Sequel to Celia 11.4.
Rescue: Celia prays for deliverance. Sequel to Celia 12.5.
Roof: Celia is too late to rescue a loved one. Sequel to Celia 12.14.
Corrected: Celia’s lover trains out her misbehaviors. Sequel to Celia 13.21.
The Key: Celia saves herself from an abuser. Sequel to Celia 13.36.

By Sam
The Tax: Some hapless tourists hope to win big at the casino.

Story Fourteen, Victoria X

“You need to check in to the psych ward. I am t…. terrified, that you are a d-danger to yourself, r-right now.”
Anna May Perry

Thursday night, 7 April 2016, PM

Victoria: “A-anna?!” Sylvia cries into the phone.

She expects to feel her heart skip.

GM: There’s what sounds like a frown.


Victoria: “You’re alive?!”

She slumps down against the building.

GM: “…yes, why wouldn’t I be?”

Victoria: No. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

“You don’t remember? You’re not hurt?”

GM: “Sylvia, what’s going on?” says Anna, who doesn’t sound on the verge of tears. “Did you see the lawyer? And schedule an appointment with the psychiatrist?”

Victoria: “Wh—”

Is she going crazy?

“Anna, you don’t remember?”

How can she not remember? The pain. The blood. What Victoria did to her.

GM: “Of course I remember!” says Anna. “I remember being scared you were going to shoot someone!”

Victoria: “What happened the rest of that night?”

GM: “Sorry, the rest of the night?”

Victoria: “After you took my gun. What happened?”

GM: There’s a long pause.


“We had a fight.”

“You scared me.”

“You really, really scared me.”

The words are a whisper. Anna sounds like she might be the one ready to cry, now.

Victoria: Victoria sounds mortified.

“I’m scared, Anna. Tell me about the fight. What did I do? Where did I go?”

GM: “Sylvia, do… do you not remember?” Anna asks in a fragile voice.

Victoria: “I d-don’t, and I’m n-not okay, and I’m s-scared. Please. Tell me what happened.”

GM: There’s another long pause.

Victoria has to wonder what’s passing on her partner’s face.

Anna’s voice is tremulous as she continues,

“You came home. You had a gun, that wasn’t yours. You denied it and dismissed it when I brought it up. You wouldn’t tell me anything.”

“You said you were seeing things.”

“You’d turned the safety off.”

“I asked you to give me the gun.”

Victoria: “And I gave it to you,” she nods.

GM: “No. You said no.”

Victoria: “…didn’t I?”

She doesn’t even believe herself."

GM: “No, Sylvia, no. You said no. N-no.”

Anna sounds like she’s suppressing tears.

Victoria: “Anna. When did I leave the house?”

GM: “You said you were going to use it. That you were… that people were after you. That you were going to… kill them. That you were in too…”

“I don’t remember what. I don’t remember what you said. I just remember you screaming, and saying, and s-saying… I remember being s-so scared, Sylvia, that you were…”

Anna gives a sob.

Victoria: “Anna.”

She’s deadly serious. Her voice is that voice she only uses when she needs Anna to focus, regardless her feelings.

“Where did I say I was going when I left?”

GM: “You di… didn’t, Sylvia!” Anna exclaims in a choked voice. “I have n… no idea, where you’ve been, or what you… what you… I s-said I was going to c-call the police, if you didn’t give me the gun, because I w… and you s… said…”

There’s no mistaking it.

She’s full-on crying now.

“You g… gave it… and called me… th… _things…”_

“And I s… said… you… have… to see a lawyer… and a therapist… or we’re… or we’re through, Sylvia, or we’re through…!”

Victoria: “Anna, baby. I need you to listen to me. Okay? I’m not going to make excuses.”

She waits.

GM: She hears Anna’s low crying over the line.

Her girlfriend doesn’t say anything else.

Victoria: “I’m not okay. I will get a lawyer. There’s more to it than that, though. The people after me—they aren’t going to sue or press charges. They did something to me last night, and…”

“I’m not sure what happened. I don’t want to see you hurt anymore.”

GM: “Sylvia. You need… you need to see a psychiatrist. You’re not… you’re not okay…” Anna chokingly repeats those words.

Victoria: “I need a psychiatrist. I’m not okay. I’ll get one. Promise. I’ll become okay. I’m listening, Anna. I’m listening.”

No one thinks they can take a bullet and finds no wound.

No one blacks out and wakes up in a pool of blood.

Three times.

No one sane.

She pulls the note from her pocket.

“I’m so sorry, Anna.”

GM: “Th… thank you,” Anna repeats in the same choked tone. “That’s… that’s all I wanted to hear… I want you to be o… kay…”

Victoria: She reads the note again.

“It’s going to take a while.”

GM: Anna sniffs.

“You… you start where you can.”

“Will you come home, after… you schedule the appointment?”

Victoria: “I’ll come home as soon as I can, Anna. I don’t have my phone or wallet or anything.”

GM: “Wh… why not?” Anna asks confusedly.

“Where’d you stay…?”

Victoria: “There’s a lot that happened overnight. I’m going to get help.”

A pause.

“At a hotel. Listen, Anna—I’m going to come get you, okay? Can you trust me if I promise to get a psych?”

“You can even watch me book the appointment.”

GM: Anna pauses for a moment.

“Yes. okay…”

Victoria: She thinks that through again.

“Actually… with no money and car… could you get me?”

GM: “Okay. Where are you?”

Victoria: She gives Marcus’ address, walking back to the building.

GM: She finds the front doors closed and locked, as before.

“All right. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Victoria: “Okay. I’ll be inside. Just call this number.”

She pushes the buzzer for Marcus.

GM: “That you, Vic?”

Victoria: “Yeah. Anna is coming to get me. Do you want your change? I’ll give you it all back and then some another time, regardless.”

GM: “Keep it. You can pay me back in other ways.”

Victoria: “I’m gonna pay you back in both. You’re the only one who helped me.”

GM: “You’re welcome.”

It’s not long before Victoria gets a text from Anna.

Outside the building

Victoria: She’s still outside.

She hops into the car, still shaking.

She looks pale.

At least there’s no blood.

Not yet.

Not now.


She swallows.

“I’m going to spend the rest of my life apologizing.”

GM: Anna looks surprised when she sees her girlfriend.

She looks like she was crying, earlier. Her eyes are still a bit red and puffy.

Victoria can hear her steadily beating heart.

The thought comes unbidden:

What would Anna taste like…?

“As long… as long as you get help,” Anna answers, rubbing a hand along Victoria’s shoulder. “That’s the important thing.”

Victoria: She swallows that thought as if it were a splinter pool cue, locking it deep inside her.

“I will, Anna. I will. I love you. You’re… all that matters. I’m going to get help.”

“Anna, do you have any perfume?”

GM: “I love you t…. perfume?” Anna asks confusedly as she starts the car.

“Uh, at home.”

Victoria: She cracks the window. The heat is oppressive, but less oppressive than thoughts of Anna’s taste.

“It’s fine.”

GM: The Arts District rolls past the car window.

“Why do you ask?”

Victoria: “You smell good.”

Not entirely a lie.

GM: Anna gives a small laugh.

“Uh, thanks.”

Victoria: She clears her throat.

“I was taken last night, Anna.”

Or was she?

GM: The mirth on Anna’s face dies.


Victoria: “I’m… going to tell you everything. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I’m going to tell you, because that’s what you deserve.”

She rolls the window back up.

Thump… thump… thump…

“In exchange, I need you to do something equally crazy for me. Nothing illegal.”

GM: “Okay,” Anna says slowly.

“And you’re going to call a psychiatrist to schedule an appointment as soon as we get home.”

“And a lawyer.”

Victoria: “A psychiatrist, and a lawyer. I’ll make the appointment, and I’ll allow them to discuss with you.”

So you know that I go, and that I try.

She doesn’t need to say that to Anna. Anna knows.

“I want you to go on vacation for a while. I’ll pay.”

“Just for a week or so.”

GM: Anna sounds puzzled.


“Why do you want me on vacation?”

Victoria: “Because if what’s happening to me isn’t just in my head, then I want to know you’re safe.”

“And if what’s happening to me is in my head, then you get a break to come back refreshed, knowing I’m working on me while you’re away.”

GM: “Okay,” Anna repeats. “I can take a vacation.”

Victoria: “Bahamas?”

Victoria would send her to the moon if she could.

GM: “Uh. I thought you just meant time off from work.”

Victoria: “Nope. You’ve been stressed, and you need to relax. I meant a vacation.”

A pause hangs between them.

“You can lock up the gun and change the combination.”

GM: “I’m a little reluctant to just leave right now, Sylvia,” says Anna.

“You need help.”


Victoria: “I agree.”

Anna doesn’t know half of it.

GM: “And I don’t know that I could really relax anyway.”

Victoria: “Okay—then we’ll get a hotel. Somewhere nice, and local. In the city. Is that a fair compromise?”

GM: “Yes. That’d be okay.”

Victoria: “Okay.”

It’s not okay.

And so she launches into her story.

She tells her everything. The fight. The blackout.

Waking up. The torture.

She obfuscates her forced role in it.

Waking up in the hotel.

Waking up in a pool of blood. Her fangs.

The bite marks.

She shows Anna her teeth. She’d have screamed if she had fangs when she got in the car, right?

The run. The near-robbery.

Getting shot.

Finding no wounds.


“…it’s, fucking crazy. I sound crazy. I think I might be crazy; but, if it’s not, then you’re in danger.”

She pulls the note out of her pocket, handing it to Anna.

“I woke up with this on the nightstand.”

GM: Anna pulls over the car when Victoria starts talking about being tortured.

Her being tortured.

“Sylvia…” she finally interrupts with a pained look.

“That didn’t… that didn’t happen.”

Her voice quavers.

“You’re imagining things.”

Victoria does not feel any fangs in her mouth.

Victoria: “I…”

She swallows.

“I know. You’re probably right. That’s why… I was so scared when I called you. So surprised.”

GM: “You’re not well, Sylvia,” Anna says in a chocked voice, shaking her head.

“None of that… none of that happened.”

“I’m not sure if any of what you’ve been talking about, with… enemies, and…” she trails off lamely, “everything, has even happened.”

“It sounds like paranoid… paranoi… I’m sorry, delusions, it sounds like, _delusions.”_

Victoria: “I… I don’t know.”

“You’re right.”

GM: “I… I think a psychiatrist, I think that’s not enough,” Anna continues in that same choked tone, but growing more firm.

“I think you should check in somewhere. I think you should be under observation.”

“I am scared for you, and what you might do.”

Victoria: “Anna. Baby. Why don’t we start with the psych? See what they say?”

“I’m not going to do anything.”

GM: “A psychia… Sylvia, they’re for getting better. Long term. Not… immediate crisis. Which you… which you’re i…” Anna gives another little sob and briefly trails off before continuing, “I think you are in crisis, and I think you need immediate help.”

“Please. I just want you to get help.”

“I don’t think you want to do an… anything, but I am very, very scared about how you believe… people are out to get us, and kidnapped us, and… I’d do desperate, c… extreme things, too, if I believed that was happening.”

Victoria: “Anna, sweetheart, can we give it one day? Just one day, and if you’re still as worried as you are right now, you can check me in. I won’t fight it then. Okay?”

“I’m telling you what I see and hear because I want you to know and understand how fucked it is. It’s not okay. I’m not okay. But I’m not telling you it’s fine, either. I’m treating you as my equal.”

She breathes a shuddering breath.

“Please. Please don’t abandon me.”

GM: Anna sounds like she’s fighting tears.

No, she is fighting tears. They’re trickling down her face, but she seems to be willing herself not to break down, not yet, as she continues,

“Sylvia, I’ll… I will, I will stay with you, I won’t ab… bandon you, I j… you nee… you need…”

Her voice steadies as she implores,

“You need to check in to the psych ward. I am t…. terrified, that you are a d-danger to yourself, r-right now.”

Victoria: Sylvia sets her jaw, as she would when preparing her rebuttal.

She opens her mouth, and closes it.

Then, she softens.


That’s it. No fight. No pleading. No crying. No explanation, or justification. Just ‘okay’.

“You promise that you won’t leave?”

GM: Anna’s shoulders slump as she makes a chocked sound of relief.

“Y-yes. I promise. I j-just want you to get h-help.”

Victoria: “Okay.”

No jokes. No offered wrists.

Just okay.

GM: Anna pulls out and shakily taps into it.

“Okay… T-Tulane has a psych unit. They’re nearby.”

Victoria: She nods.

“That’s fine. We can do that. I trust you.”

GM: Anna gives a nod of relief and resumes driving.

Victoria: Sylvia doesn’t speak for the drive.

The hole is deep enough.

If Anna is right—and, to any sane person, Anna is right—then Tulane Psych is exactly what she needs.

If Anna is wrong, then people will die.

In either case, the only answer to keeping Anna is to comply. So she complies.

They’ll see if anyone else dies.

Thursday night, 7 April 2016, PM

GM: Anna finds a place to park. She walks it to the ER with Sylvia.

It looks as miserable as Anna feels. It’s like a third world refugee camp, with dozens of miserable and pained-looking people crammed into a hard, cold, and uncomfortable space as they wait their turns to be seen by staff. Some of them have obvious bruises and injuries. Some are curled up on seats and moaning. Some have loved ones. Some don’t. Some are crying. Some stare numbly ahead. No one looks like they want to be here.

Anna and Victoria talk to a harried-looking intake nurse. She asks them in a clipped and impersonal voice to describe their symptoms.

Victoria: “I’m… seeing things,” she says. “Hallucinating.”

She does not immediately launch into detail.

GM: Anna doesn’t say anything.

“Not urgent or life-threatening,” the nurse says in a monotone voice, then directs them to take a seat in the packed waiting room.

Victoria can’t even see an open seat.

Victoria: “N-not immediately, but not unquestionably,” she compromises.

She looks to Anna, then to the waiting room.

“…when I said not leave, I meant me as a whole. You don’t have to wait here. If you don’t want to.”

GM: “Not urgent or life-threatening,” the nurse repeats in a tone that sounds like she wants them to go away.

“I-I do,” says Anna, over the sea of moans from the waiting room. A man on one of the seats starts screaming as he hugs himself. People throw him dirty looks and yell for him to shut up. “I’ll stay.”

Victoria: “O-okay.”

She takes Anna’s hand, and leads her to a corner. The furthest corner from the screaming.

She’s suddenly very aware that hospitals sometimes smell like blood.

GM: She can smell it.

She can smell as strongly as skunk musk, but nowhere nearly as fowl.

It smells delicious.

It smells arousing.

It turns her on.

It makes her hungry.

There’s bits of it, in a lot of places, all throughout the room. Each one pulls at Victoria’s senses like a magnet.

She can smell it’s strongest, too, from the close-eyed woman weakly lying against her partner.

“You’re cold…” says Anna as Victoria takes her hand.

Victoria: It’s like being an alcoholic in the world’s finest bourbon distillery.

She takes slow, deep breaths, trying to ward it off.

It makes it worse.

“I am?”

GM: Anna nods.

Victoria: “I don’t feel cold. I hope I’m not sick.”

Victoria: Sicker than she already is.

Cold. Pale. Crying blood. Hallucinating.

GM: “Maybe we should tell the nurse that too, and see if it gets you moved up…?”

Victoria: “I think you might have to stab me to get me moved up.”

GM: The man who’s hugging himself starts loudly screaming again.


WILL YOU FUCKING SHUT UP!” shrieks the woman next to him.

“Don’t tempt me,” Anna says dryly.

Victoria: Victoria winces. Hospital music is far from her favorite.

“Got a pen? A shot to the jugular might give us an express.”

GM: “No, just a phone.”

Victoria: “Concussion?”

GM: Anna manages a weak smile and looks around for a free chair.

Seeing none, she sighs and settles down on the floor to wait.

Victoria: Sylvia settles beside her, leaning her head on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry.”

GM: “You’re really cold…” murmurs Anna. “You think you might be sick?”

Victoria: “I… don’t feel sick. I actually feel pretty good.”

She rolls her shoulders.

“Better than most days. A little horny? Even for me.”

GM: Anna gives her an odd look.

“Your temperature doesn’t feel normal… that isn’t a good sign.”

Victoria: “How cold is it?”

GM: Anna places a palm against her forehead.

“Enough that I’m worried.”

Victoria: Sylvia whines.

“Will anything at all go right this week?”

GM: Anna’s face says it all.

Victoria: She wraps an arm around her.

“It’ll be okay. Not today or tomorrow. Eventually.”

She believes it.

“…it might be faster to make a psych visit.”

GM: Anna give a little shiver, but her face sets at Sylvia’s next words.

“No. It won’t be. Psychiatrists cannot take you overnight and provide round-the-clock monitoring. And appointments can be days or even weeks away.”

Victoria: “Right. Weeks away might be sooner than…”

She gestures at the room grandly.

GM: Anna gives a very weak smile and settles in to wait.

Time passes.

People come. People go. People cry. People hurt.

Victoria: Sylvia bitches the entire time.

But she doesn’t move to leave.

GM: Seats eventually free up. Anna grabs them and sighs with relief over getting off the cold, hard floor.

Sylvia doesn’t feel any soreness, coldness, or discomfort.

Victoria: If she wasn’t so distracted with the sheer terror of the unknown—whether any of this is real, or all in her head—she might notice that.

She takes Anna’s hand, pulling it into her lap.

“It’s been weeks.”

GM: Anna wearily leans against the seat.

“Sorry, what has…?”

Victoria: Sylvia slumps in the chair.

“Since we got here.”

GM: “Oh. Yeah.”

Victoria: Victoria lifts her head.

“Is someone wounded?”

GM: “Uh. Probably?”

“This is the ER.”

Victoria: “No, like—”

She sits up, sniffing and looking around the room.

“It’s smelled like blood in here for hours. Oppressively.”

GM: “I don’t smell anything,” says Anna.

Victoria: She groans.

“Am I…?”

GM: “I mean it doesn’t smell nice but I don’t smell blood.”

Victoria: Hallucinating.


“It smells worse the longer we’ve sat here. I thought someone might be bleeding around us.”

GM: “Well, wouldn’t surprise me. There’s probably some people bleeding here.” Anna looks around the sea of suffering faces.

Victoria: Why is it so much worse for her than Anna?

She slumps back into the chair, resuming her waiting.

GM: They wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Eventually, a nurse tells Sylvia and Anna that it’s their turn and leads them into an exam room. It has a papered bed to lie down and an adjacent chair. An oxygen tank, tubing, and other medical equipment sit nearby.

“A doctor’ll be with you soon,” the nurse states, then exits through the door.

Anna and Sylvia are left alone in the silent room.

Victoria: To wait.

And wait.

And wait.

It feels like weeks.

“You’re sure about this, Anna?”

GM: Anna’s already sat down on the chair. She looks like she’s starting to nod off.

“Yes,” she answers firmly, visibly sitting up at that question.

Victoria: Victoria can’t sit still.

With her question answered, she lays back on the bed, legs straight up the wall.

GM: Time passes.

And passes.

And passes.

And passes.

“Soon” seems like a pretty subjective phrase.

Anna looks half-asleep in her chair.

Victoria: At one point, Victoria does try to fall asleep.

It’s not like she’ll wake up in a hotel room this time.

Or will she?

GM: Sleep doesn’t come.

At all.

She doesn’t feel even remotely drowsy.

Victoria: She groans.

“The wait is murder.”

Did she really kill that woman?"

She swallows.

And that man.

And the elderly couple.

The man back in Chakras—the man that gifted her her career and all its success, in his own way—deserved what she did. These people didn’t.

But was it real?

Is any of it?

GM: Anna makes a tired noise of agreement.

Answers to Sylvia’s questions do not present themselves.

There’s not even the ticking of a clock.

There’s just nothing.

Just waiting.

“Got some granola bars in my purse,” Anna eventually mumbles.

Victoria: Thump… thump… thump… thump…

There is ticking, but Anna can’t hear it.

“I’m not hungry.”

GM: Anna rubs her eyes.

“When did you last eat?”




Victoria: “When I woke up.”

It’s not a lie.

If it’s real.

The thought makes her less sick than it should.

GM: There’s the sound of crinkling wrappers as Anna fishes around in her purse.

“Eat something. That was… all day ago?”

Victoria: “No, like… in the hotel. I woke up a few hours ago. Maybe an hour before I called you?”

GM: “That was…” Anna blinks dully. “Why’d you sleep so late…?”

Victoria: “I don’t remember going to sleep.”

“Or renting a room.”

“Or writing a n—”

She’s not helping.

GM: Anna starts softly crying again.

Victoria: “I’m telling you, Anna… some of it happened. You can’t explain everything away. I didn’t manifest an entire ho…”

And then it hits her.

“Someone paid for the room.”

“Someone had to have paid for the room.”

GM: Anna just shakes her head.

“Y-Yes. Yes, I am s-sure about this. I am very, very, very s-sure, about this.”

Victoria: “Anna, the Hampton inn just a few blocks from our house. Don’t give a name. Just…”

She looks nervously to the door.

“A lot happened that is in my head. I did not invent an entire hotel. That’s impossible.”

“I went somewhere when I left, and those events led me there. I had no money or credit cards on me. Someone paid for it.”

GM: “Or maybe you don’t remember what you did with your cards and money.” Anna’s voice sounds miserable and tired. “We’ll need to report them as missing or stolen.”

Victoria: “The cards, at least.”

Anna isn’t going to believe her. Not now. Not today. Not without proof.

She sighs.

She’ll have to get through this, first.

GM: “You should eat something,” Anna says dully. “Because it sounds like you don’t remember, when you last ate, if you didn’t have any cards or money.”

She extends the granola bars.

Victoria: She gives Anna a tired look, takes a bar, unwraps it, and takes a bite.

She looks as happy as a child given day-old broccoli.

GM: It tastes somewhere between nothing and horrible. It chews like paper. It slides down her throat like glue. She can already feel her stomach’s roiling unease.

Victoria: It’s the only bite she has.

She sets it down.

“I think it’s rotten,” she says, raking her tongue.

GM: Anna sniffs it, then takes a bite.

“Tastes okay to me.”

Victoria: “I don’t think I’m that hungry.”

She doesn’t take it back.

GM: “Do you remember when you last ate?”

Victoria: “I had O’Tolley’s this—yesterday—afternoon?”

GM: “You should really eat, Sylvia,” Anna says tiredly. “Hunger might be aggravating your symptoms.”

Victoria: “Maybe. But that granola bar is disgusting.”

It was her go-to running-late breakfast for years. They just bought a new box a week ago. There’s no way it’s rotten.

GM: Anna sighs, puts it back into her purse, and re-closes her eyes.

Victoria: Sylvia hops off the bed, settling next to Anna. She rubs her knees.

“I’ll ask for something else after the doctor is done.”

GM: “You should eat something,” Anna agrees.

“Maybe it’s why you’re cold. I don’t know.”

Victoria: “Do you have anything else?”

Thump… Thump… Thump…

GM: “Sorry.”

Victoria: The thought makes her want to wretch, but she speaks it anyway.

“Give me the bar.”

GM: Anna hands it over.

Victoria: She gnaws it as if it’s made from moldy charcoal.

GM: It tastes as filling as paper, goes down her throat like glue, and sits in her stomach like a brick.

Victoria: And yet, she finishes it. The entire bar.

This is her love for Anna.

GM: Sylvia doesn’t think she’s ever forced down such an unappetizing meal.

But Anna looks glad to see her eat.

It’s maybe the first time she’s looked glad about anything since Sylvia called her.

Friday night, 8 April 2016, AM

GM: Without warning, the door to their room opens. A harried-looking, balding and middle-aged man in a white doctor’s coat strides in and closes the door behind him.

“Which of you am I assessing?” he asks brusquely.

GM: “Her,” says Anna, nodding towards Sylvia.

“Okay,” says the doctor. “Routine physical for you first.”

Without waiting for Sylvia’s response, he partly pulls up her shirt and sharply jabs his fingers against various parts of her abdomen.

“How often do you exercise, smoke, and drink? Any allergies, medications, or past surgeries?” he asks absently.

Victoria: It makes Anna happy. That’s all that matters.

She offers her girlfriend a smile.

“Me,” she answers in unison, her smile faltering to a relaxed line.

She isn’t enthused with the intrusion to her physical space.

“Often, and vigorously. Rarely. Sometimes. None, not yet, just bone setting.”

GM: “Mm,” the doctor responds noncommittally to her answers. He takes his stethoscope and presses it to Sylvia’s heart.

He frowns, takes it off, looks it over, and presses it to her heart again.

“Something’s wrong with this stethoscope,” he says. “Wait here. I’ll be back with another.”

Victoria: She complies, if only because Anna wills it so.

The look she gives the doctor at his words are the same as if she was told he’ll be back with a knife to paint her with wounds.

Mechanically, she turns to look at Anna.

GM: The doctor doesn’t look terribly concerned for her as he heads off.

Anna gives her a puzzled look.

“What was wrong with the stethoscope…?”

Victoria: She swallows.

“You’re not hallucinating, too, right?”

Of course, she could be hallucinating this entire visit.

GM: “No…” says Anna. “He said something was wrong with the stethoscope, that he had to get another… did you see something?”

Victoria: “N-no.”

No heartbeat. What else could be wrong with a stethoscope?

GM: “Okay, that’s good,” says Anna. “I guess every doctor deals with defective equipment at some point.”

Victoria: It’s not defective.


She forces a smile. It’s like a terminal cancer patient telling their loved ones it’ll be okay.

GM: The doctor eventually comes back, and with a nurse too.

He takes an identical-looking stethoscope to Victoria’s heart.

He gives Victoria a curiously blank look, presses the stethoscope to the nurse’s heart without a word, and then back to Victoria’s.

He stares at her like she has two heads.

Victoria: She lofts a brow expectantly.

_Thump… thump… thump…

GM: “We’re going to take your blood pressure,” says the doctor.

The nurse fastens the cuff around Victoria’s arm. She feels it snugly tighten.

The doctor reads the monitor.

He wordlessly looks at the nurse.

She frowns in puzzlement.

“Check her pulse,” says the doctor.

The nurse takes Victoria’s arm and presses two fingers to her wrist.

“Nothing,” she says in a baffled voice.

“Try her neck,” says the doctor.

The nurse does so.

“Nothing,” she repeats.

The baffled look on her face deepens.

Anna looks between the two in confusion. “What’s going on?”

“What the hell is this?” the doctor says to Victoria.

Victoria: “You’re asking me? I was told I needed a check up!”

She lifts her arms, as if to display a lack of hidden doubled set.

GM: “You have no pulse, no heartbeat, and no blood pressure,” the doctor says in a flat voice.

“What…?” Anna says confusedly.

Victoria: She knows.

She feigns mock-surprise anyway, snorting.

“Uh huh, and little, pink horns, too. You’ve got broken equipment.”

GM: “Five different tests,” says the doctor.

He’s frowning deeply.

Victoria: It unsettles her, but it doesn’t confirm anything.

What if this is a hallucination?

“Only the best for Tulane.”

She shoots Anna a glance.

GM: Anna just looks bewildered.

“Stay here,” says the doctor. “We’ll… administer some more advanced tests.”

He leaves the room with the nurse.

They close the door after them.

Victoria: She speaks quickly to her girlfriend.

“Now do you believe that something is fucked?”

GM: “Wh… why don’t you have a _pulse?”_ Anna says dumbly.

Victoria: “Anna, we can leave right now, and they won’t know we were here. If you want to stay, I’ll stay—but if we stay, a lot more is likely to go wrong.”

Victoria knows that she’ll be the head of Tulane’s medical mysteries dialogue.

Woman alive! No pulse!

GM: “If… if you don’t have a pulse, something is wrong,” says Anna. “A hospital is exactly where we should be.”

“So you can get help.”

Victoria: “Anna, if I don’t have a fucking pulse and I’m talking to you like it’s a lunch date, I don’t think a hospital is what I need. A church is what I need.”

GM: “Wh… a church?”

Anna looks confused.

Victoria: FUCK!

Panic finally sets in.

No adrenaline crashes through her system.

“Think about the story I told you. Think about what you felt out in the waiting room.”

She hops off the bed, coming to a stop before her. She takes Anna’s hand, pressing it firmly to her chest.

GM: “What… story?”

Anna looks distinctly uncomfortable.

“You’re… you’re cold…”

Victoria: “The story that you thought was a hallucination. Anna, please. We need to go. We need to go.”

GM: Anna throws up her hands.

“Where could we go? Why can’t we just get you help? These are doctors!”

“They can find out, why… why you don’t have a pulse.”

Victoria: “Because I have no PULSE! I have no heartbeat! What do you think they’re going to do? Shock me back to life?!”

“Sure, doctor,” she mocks. “I’ll just settle one paddle here, and one paddle here. There. Look right? No, I can do it myself!”

GM: “I… I don’t know…” Anna says dumbly. “They’re the doctors, not me. Maybe this is… maybe this has happened?”

Victoria: She gives her a withered stare.

GM: Anna throws up her hand again.

“Sylvia, where would you even want to go?”

“Where else can we get you help?”

Victoria: “A hotel. Just so we can think. That’s it. Something isn’t right, Anna. I might be hallucinating, but we both aren’t—and if there’s a chance that some of what happened last night—some of what I did—is real? Then I can’t be locked up in a hospital.”

Because the doctors will be dead. The moment they try to restrain her, she knows it: she’ll wake up in a pool of blood, and some of it might be Anna’s.

GM: “Sylvia, it’s… it’s all a jumble,” says Anna. “What do you think happened last night? I know you think people are out to get us, and kidnapped us, but that didn’t happen. I was back home, wasn’t I?”

Victoria: “And I wasn’t.

“I entered Marcus’ apartment covered in blood with bullet holes in my shirt.”

“It’s still there.”

“Do I look like I’ve been shot?”

GM: “No, you don’t,” says Anna. “You might’ve been hallucinating that.”

Victoria: “Would you like to call Marcus and have him send a picture of the shirt?”

GM: Anna holds up her hands. “Look, let’s just… what are we going to do at a hotel, Sylvia? What are we going to think up? I’m a teacher. You’re a dominatrix. This isn’t our department. We’re not doctors, we’re not psychiatrists. If anyone can help us, it’s going to be a hospital, isn’t it? What’s the harm in staying?”

Victoria: “Because our names will be tied to whatever is going on, and whatever did this to me is probably going to be pissed! You read the note—someone thinks of me as a friend. Have you ever heard of anything like this happening, outside stupid stories? There’s probably a reason for th—”

If the color could drain from such a pale face, it would.

“…my name is on the registration. FUCK! Anna, we need to go!”

GM: “Sylvia,” Anna says slowly, “you’re scaring me. You could’ve written that note yourself. We don’t know that anyone did anything to you, okay? Let’s just… let’s just let the doctors do their jobs and find out what’s wrong, okay?”

Victoria: She groans, tugging her hair and turning to pace back and forth.

They’re going to die.

They’re going to die.

They’re going to die.

She’s going to kill them.

All of them.

Every one.

The nurse.

The doctor.



Not Anna.

Please not Anna.

The patients—everyone in the waiting room.

The receptionists.

They’re all going to die.

GM: Oblivious to such murderous and panicked thoughts, Anna rests her hands on Sylvia’s shoulders.

Her cold shoulders.

“Sylvia. Please. I just want you to get better, okay?” Her voice is breaking again. “This is the best… the only way, that I know how. I’m trying to help. Okay? This is how I’m… how we’re helping. Okay?”

Victoria: “Anna, you can’t heal someone who has every sign of death.

GM: Anna’s heart looks like it’s breaking through her face.

“Sylvia. You’re not g-going to die. You don’t have to die. I love you, okay? We’ll g-get through this, you j-just have to let people help you, ok-kay?”

Victoria: “I’m not going to die! I have. No. Pulse. I’m cold. I can hear EVERY beat of your heart. I’m not going to die, Anna! I am DEAD.

Or otherwise going to spend a long, long time in a white vest.

GM: Sylvia hears more heartbeats than Anna’s.

She hears three.

Approaching the room.

Drawing closer.

Thumping louder.

“Sylvia, you’re sc-scaring me,” Anna says shakily, “you’re not dead, you’re alive, you’re ALIVE, o-”

Victoria: The look she gives Anna is the same she gave her when she told her that party was a bad idea.

“Anna, I don’t know what they’re going to do when they come in, but it’s not going to end well. I love you—more than anything I’ve ever cared for. I haven’t given any illicit, psychological behavior to them. If they treat me with anything other than the respect of a patient, I need you to leave. Okay? I need you to leave, and don’t worry about me. Do you understand?”

GM: Anna adamantly shakes her head.

“Sylvia, I’m not leaving you, I’ll always stay w-”

She’s interrupted as the door opens. The doctor walks inside, along with the nurse and a man with a radio on his shirt who looks like a security guard.

The doctor looks between Anna and Victoria, then says,

“This way.”

Victoria: “Where are we going?” she asks, feigning timidness.

GM: “Advanced testing,” says the doctor, shuffling through some papers he’s carrying on a clipboard.

“Oh, say. We need you to look at these,” he says, extending them towards Victoria.

Victoria: She doesn’t move.

“Why do you need security to run any testing at all? I’ve done nothing to display that I’m unruly.”

GM: “It’s just a precaution,” says the doctor, extending the clipboard towards Victoria again. “Please tell me if these are accurate.”

Victoria: She reaches out to take the clipboard with ginger fingers, untrusting.

GM: She suddenly feels a stabbing sensation in her neck as the nurse jams a needle there.

Victoria: On instinct—after so many years in a career and life set on edge—she strikes the nurse’s arm upon feeling the pinch.

GM: Victoria’s swift chop sends the syringe flying away—just as she feels hard linoleum slam into her shoulder from the security guard’s tackle. Rage courses through her, like fire in her veins. The pain is a dull sensation. She barely registers it. They think to manhandle her?!

GET OFF HER!” Anna screams, whacking the security guard over the head with her purse.

The man’s grab slackens, just as the nurse grabs the sedative and jams it into Victoria’s thigh.

She feels nothing.

Nothing except the rage, hot and hateful like nothing she’s felt.

Nothing except the fangs now oh so long and oh so sharp in her mouth.

Victoria: When Victoria was cornered in Chakras, she felt fear.

When Anna was assaulted, she felt rage.

This? This is incomparable. This is the primal terror of a cornered cub and murderous ferocity of its mother rolled into one single entity, vengeful as the Devil himself.

She burns, hot as a star, and dark as a night without.

They DARE threaten her? They DARE involve Anna?

She maneuvers enough with Anna’s help to slip an elbow, sending it backward with all her might into the man’s ribs.

GM: Victoria’s elbow drives into the man’s abdomen, hard. He gives a yell and goes down equally hard. Victoria scrambles to her feet as the nurse pulls away, gawking at the sedative’s failure to so much as slow her down. The door’s already open. The doctor’s gone. Fled?

Victoria dashes out. Anna runs after her. Their feet pound against the linoleum. Victoria hears her girlfriend’s heart rapidly pounding from adrenaline and physical exertion.

The security guard’s running after them, still clutching his chest. He’s grabbing his radio, too. Yelling into it. Yelling at them.


They dash through the packed ER. A few people, lost in their private worlds of pain, don’t seem to notice. More people yell. One elderly man leaps up and starts screaming and stamping his feet.


Victoria: CRUNCH!

Her elbow sinks into the man’s stomach, and she uses yet more leverage to shove a foot under her, tossing him off her back.

As the pair pass the ER, her gaze lingers long enough to discern whether or not the elderly man’s screaming is to her or not, and—if not—she continues on out with Anna.


GM: The man’s gaze is out of focus. He could be screaming to her. He could be screaming to God and the Devil. She can’t tell, not in the heat of the moment. Anna doesn’t even seem to register her words, wheezing and sweating as she is with her pounding heart. So mortal. So weak.

The ER room’s automatic doors slide open as Victoria barrels through them, dragging Anna after her. Several people outside yell and scatter from their path. Victoria leaps into her and Anna’s car, pulling her girlfriend after her. They slam the doors. Several security guards run out of the hospital with handguns raised.


Tires squeal as Victoria hits the ignition. There’s the crack-roar of distant bullets, and then the city roars past.

Anna’s mouth hangs open as she stares at Victoria.

Wordlessly, she points.

At Victoria’s mouth.

She still feels fangs.

Victoria: He doesn’t matter. He’s insignificant. Maybe he is screaming at her, and maybe he isn’t. Either way, he’s only a cause to distract their pursuers.

The doors to Tulane barely part before Victoria crashes into—and through—one of them, enough of her momentum clipping it that it’ll need a repair.

The moment they clear line of sight to security, Victoria snaps her vision to Anna, her hands shooting out to touch her.

“Are you hurt? Were you struck?! By anything?!”

She’s as frantic as if she’s Anna’s own mother. She feels and looks around, searching for any sight of red—for Anna’s safety from bullet wounds, as much as safety from herself.

She knows what happens when she smells blood.

As she speaks, her tongue runs over those pointed incisors.

Now do you believe I’m not hallucinating?”

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Story Fourteen, Victoria IX

""I… don’t know what’s happening to me."
Victoria Wolf

Date ?

GM: The first thing Victoria notices is the smell.

She’s shat herself. Pissed herself, too. In bed.

Wherever bed is.

That’s the second thing she notices.

She doesn’t recognize the room she’s in.

It looks like a hotel room. It’s night out. The room’s lights feel distant and hollow. The blankets are cold and rough against Victoria’s bare skin. Her clothes lie in a heap on the floor.

Victoria feels cold, hungry, and clear of head.

Too clear of head.

She doesn’t feel groggy or tired. The waste caking her pelvis smells bad, but she doesn’t feel nauseous. Just blank.

She looks down at her body and sees an automaton that belongs to someone else.

Victoria: They say that you evacuate your bowels in the moments before death: one final ‘fuck you’ to the world before you move on to serve your eternity in one prison or the other.

Death is exactly what she feels like. Uninjured, and dead.

She did die.

You can’t live without your heart.

Even a living heart, grievously wounded, isn’t really alive anymore.

The corpse presses a hand to her forehead, wiping away a sheen of—is it sweat? Or did she manage to smear piss up there, too?

It doesn’t matter.

Is this Hell? Trapped in a room with nothing but her own thoughts, lying in a metaphor for her night given physical form, it must be.

She lifts her hips, shifting out of the mess and attempting to stand.

GM: She doesn’t feel anything against her head.

She stands without issue.

Some of the piss-shit admixture runs down her legs.

Victoria: She waddles around in the dark, looking for the bathroom. She needs a shower.

GM: The room is lit, if muted-feeling. She sees without impediment.

The bathroom is darker, but still lit. It’s a standard hotel bathroom. Clean and soulless.

Victoria: Soulless, like her.

Had she betrayed Anna in her kneeling to the blonde? Or had she saved her? Is there anything left to save?

The warmth of a shower is pleasant, but heals nothing.

GM: That’s all showers have ever done.

The water is pleasant. The filth caked around her pelvis and dribbling down her legs swirls down the drain. She’s left pale and clean.

And hungry. Very hungry. It has to have been 24 hours since she ate.

Victoria: It’s halfway through her mechanical scrubbing that she realizes how hungry she is. She didn’t eat much the day before, either.

Did she puke last night?

It’s a blur. Anna. Knives. Copper. Rust. The blonde.

She dry heaves in the shower, falling to her knees and spilling bile down the drain.



GM: Her stomach clenches, but that’s it. Nothing comes out of her mouth.

Her cry is answered by the most resounding silence of her life.

Victoria: Nothing.


Everything she has, everything she is, and everything she wanted to be: empty.

Her stomach lurches again.

GM: She continues to dry heave.

Victoria: She doesn’t remember the rest of her shower. Just the pain. Emptiness. Dry heaving. When she steps out, at least she’s clean.

She looks for clothes.

GM: They’re still there on the floor, along with a folded piece of paper.

Victoria: She opens the paper.

GM: There’s writing on it.

Victoria: What the fuck?

She looks for other rooms.


GM: She doesn’t see any. It’s a standard hotel bedroom with an attached bathroom.

No one answers her.

Victoria: She sniffs her clothes to ensure they aren’t covered in shit, and if not, puts them on.

GM: She finds them clean.

Victoria: One dim glimmer in a night of shit. She dresses quickly and peers out the door to her room.

GM: She sees a plain carpeted corridor with rows of doors that look identical to hers.

A squeaking sound approaches from around the corner.

Victoria: A cleaning lady? She tenses, but waits, door still only partly ajar.

GM: She sees a frumpy-looking Hispanic woman pushing along a cart with cleaning supplies. Her face is lined with the resignation of someone broken by life long ago and faced with no choice but to keep going. Hunger clenches inside Victoria; when did this woman last eat? Does she have food on her? Her dull, cow-like gaze makes her seem like an animal, mindlessly chewing its cud.

Seeing Victoria’s ajar door, the woman wheels the cart towards her room.

Victoria: Her stomach grumbles angrily inside her.


She waves the woman off, grabbing her room key off the table beside the door and pulling it shut behind her.

“Room is clean.”

GM: The woman just rolls her cart closer.

“¿Qué?” she says.

Victoria: A vein throbs in her forehead.

She shoos her off with a hand.

GM: “Voy a limpiar,” says the woman. She gets out a key and starts fumbling at the door.

Victoria: “No,” she says firmly, blocking her from opening the door. “No limpiar. No.”

GM: “Está bien,” the woman shrugs with a dull look as she puts away the key, “pero tendré…”

Victoria can feel the woman’s body heat up close. She feels so cold and empty. The woman is warm and she isn’t. Her heart steadily thumps in her chest, pumping life through fat-clogged veins. She’s such a dull, stupid cow, unable to even communicate intelligibly. The fat along her jugular rolls back and forth as she jabbers.

Then, suddenly, she shuts up.

She’s lying on the ground at Victoria’s feet, bleeding and motionless. The coppery scent is everywhere. Overpowering. The hallway and everyone in it smells like they’ve been drenched in blood; Victoria can’t even guess how badly she must the woman must be bleeding. Her heart feebly thumps. There’s long pauses between each beat.

Victoria feels better than ever.

She feels full. She feels like she’s eaten a sumptuous meal that hasn’t settled in her stomach, but spread through her entire body. Her limbs feel energized. Her head feels sharp. She feels like she just finished a workout and is ready for ten more. She feels horny, like Anna just ate her out.

She feels warm again.

Victoria: She feels a boil of irritation well up inside her. The nerve! As if she’s the first person in the world to decline cleaning service?

That anger bubbles up inside her…

…and then it’s gone, and in its place: euphoria.

Where there was once cold, there is a fire. Where there was once pain, there is pleasure. Where there was once lethargy, there is lightning.

From one moment to the next, the scene around her morphs, and all of her physical woes disappear. She’s strong. Stronger than she’s ever been. She’s the pinnacle of form without trying.

Thump… pause… thump… pause… thump… pause…

She notices the body at her feet, her feeble heartbeat barely keeping her clung to the living. Her fingers begin to tremble, and though she feels the instinct to scream, she covers her mouth to force it down.

No. No screaming. No nothing. She can’t be blamed for this. If she’s blamed for what happened—whatever happened to this woman—she’ll be tied up with the police long enough that she’ll never find her Anna.

Thump… pause… thump…

Shakily, she sinks to the floor, checking the woman’s pulse.

Before her fingers reach that fatty throat, she already knows the answer. She doesn’t need touch to discern her heartbeat.

She feels sick again. This time, she doesn’t puke.

“H-hey…” she stammers, trying to stir the woman. She pats her pockets, looking for a cell phone.

GM: The woman gives a feeble moan, but does not stir.

Victoria finds keys in her pockets.

No phone, though.

Suddenly, one of the nearby room doors bursts open. A 30something man in a hotel bathrobe gawks at the sight.

“What the FUCK?!” he exclaims, looking between Victoria and the bleeding woman.

Then his gaze halts.

“Oh shit! OH SHIT!”

Victoria: “I don’t KNOW!” she shouts back at him! “I opened my door and FOUND her like this!”

Fuck, fuck, fuck. Blood is everywhere. All over the woman. All over the floor. All over her.

“Are you going to HELP?”

GM: The man’s jaw works for several moments.

“I-I didn’t-I DIDN’T SEE THIS!” he shouts in a shrill voice.

The door slams.

Victoria: Fucking useless! FUCK!

She examines the woman’s wounds. Is she savable?

GM: She’s freely bleeding from two deep punctures on her neck. Victoria smells blood far in excess of what she sees.

Victoria: She can’t stay here. She can’t leave. What the fuck happened to her simple life?

Victoria looks at her hands: bloodstained.


She moves back into her room, back into the bathroom, and examines herself.

GM: Two long, sharp, and utterly inhuman fangs protrude from her upper mouth.

Victoria: This time she screams.

GM: The sound endlessly rings off the bathroom tile.

Aaaaa! Aaaaaaah! Aaaaaaah-aaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!

The fanged woman in the mirror screams along with Victoria. They’re hideous, gleaming white things. Killing things. Killing tools. They look like they belong on a snake or vicious dog, but they’re right there. In her mouth. She looks like some amalgam of human and monster. Blood coats her lips as she screams and screams, eyes bulging with madness.

Then she’s gone from the mirror.

All that’s left is an indistinct shadow.

Victoria: Her breaths rattle like chains on broken machinery. The screaming stops, and trembling fingers reach up to touch those teeth—her teeth. Her fangs. Her killing tools.

GM: They feel just like teeth do.

But she’s never felt any so long before.

Or which taper into such wickedly sharp points.

Victoria: Real?

Is the blonde playing a macabre joke on her?

We’ll let you go, but you’ll live as the monster you showed yourself to be.

She presses on them.

They don’t give.

Thump… pause… thump… pause…

It’s in her head—that woman’s heartbeat. Slowing. Stagnating. Dying.

She’s losing her mind.

The disappearance of her mirrored twin makes her jump. She touches the mirror, where her hand should meet her.

GM: The glass is cold against her warm skin.

All she sees is shadow.

Victoria: She smacks the mirror, then rips the water on and tries her damn best to rinse what blood she can off her face and hands.

GM: It comes off.

It smells so strong. It fills the room, even draining away down the faucet.

Victoria: She dries herself with a towel, and searches the room for anything identifying.

GM: All she sees are standard hotel toiletries.

Outside the bathroom, there’s the shit and piss left on the bed, and the unfolded note. Everything else looks hotel-standard.

Besides the savaged cleaning lady lying motionless on her back by the door. The heady coppery aroma wafting from her neck is impossibly distracting. Her heart’s beats are sluggish and faint.

Victoria: She collects the note, leaving the rest. Is excrement identifiable? She isn’t sure—and she doesn’t care.

Victoria tears out of the room, hopping past the woman’s body, and—

Thump… pause… thump… pause… thump…

She skids to a halt.

What are you doing, you dumb bitch?

Yet, she can’t bring herself to ignore the overwhelmingly present thought.

Victoria crouches beside the corpse-to-be, leaning over her throat. Why can she not get the steady pulse of this woman’s heartbeat out of her mind?

GM: The woman’s chest feebly rises and falls as she stares blank-eyed up at the ceiling.





Victoria: She sniffs.

GM: She smells more.

A last bowlful of soup at the bottom of the pot.

It made her feel so good.

So strong. So alert.

So warm.

The woman’s heart continues to weakly beat.

Victoria: So energized.

She doesn’t need to test to know: this is what made her feel so full of life.

She opens her mouth, leaning down.

Before her lips grace that fatty, bleeding throat, she pushes off, tearing down the hallway toward an exit.


GM: She collides straight into several bewildered-looking hotel workers just as the door opens.

She distantly hears something else, too, past the walls.


Victoria: Right outside? FUCK!

Before the group of hotel workers can collect themselves and realize who just barreled them over, she recovers and sprints back down the hallway, looking for another exit.

GM: There’s stairs.

There’s an elevator.

The employees were just filing out of the elevator.

Shouts of “HEY!” go up as footsteps thump after Victoria.

Victoria: Stairs. Stairs work.

She barrels into the stairwell, taking the stairs four at a time.

She isn’t worried about them catching her—she’s faster than most.

GM:STOP!” yells a raggedy voice behind Victoria.

She barrels down the stairwell. Bursts through a door. She’s in a mostly empty hotel lobby. There’s an employee behind the desk. Several people, too. All of them turn and stare at her.

The employees burst into the lobby, too. One of them points at Victoria and yells,


Victoria runs before anyone can. She bursts through the hotel’s front doors.

Victoria: She shields her face as she runs, trying to hide from any cameras.

GM: The city’s night air is warm and humid. It hits Victoria like a miasma. She wants to stop and inhale it, until she sees the screaming red and blue sirens of the cop car. Two police officers are already walking towards the building as they see Victoria barrel past the front doors, taking the steps three at a time.

STOP HER!” yells a raggedy-voiced employee.

Victoria: Her head whirls around, first left, then right—spotting the police. She turns back away from them, pushing off harder than she’s ever sprinted before.

GM:STOP!” yells one of the cops.


The night explodes with gunfire. The sound is like a bomb going off. Several bombs going off. The hot smell of gunpowder fills her nostrils.


The words are lost beneath another gunshot. Victoria staggers. She feels like someone just punched her. Hard and in the back. She smells blood. She hurts. But she doesn’t slow. She doesn’t feel tired. She doesn’t feel a stitch in her side. She doesn’t feel her lungs burning with air. It’s like she’s watching someone else pilot her body.

All she feels is her feet pounding against pavement.

Date ?

GM: After several minutes running, Victoria feels confident she’s lost her pursuers. No one’s calling after her. Or shooting after her.

She still doesn’t feel winded. There’s no urge to catch her breath. She might as well have been playing a video game for all the exertion she feels.

Blood leaks from a hole alongside her flank. Even that feels removed, like she’s watching it happen to someone.

Victoria: She stops behind a parked car, several blocks past the last time she heard anyone shout—or shoot—at her, willing herself to pant out of sheer knowledge that she should be.

The teeth. The blood.

She touches the wound in her flank. Grazing? That’s the only explanation.

Her energy—boundless as the blue sky.

It points to an impossibility.

Just as impossible as the blonde.

But why?

She brings the hand that touched her wound to her face. Bloodied?

Why her?

Why is she alive?

GM: Blood stains her hands.

Questions of why remain hauntingly unanswered.

Victoria: She licks her own blood. That’s decidedly less unsettling to her.

GM: It tastes slightly thicker and sweeter than she expected, but somehow… unsatisfying.

Victoria: She grimaces.

No, she didn’t expect that would go any differently. If that were the case, vampires would drink themselves.

She simpers, shaking her head. Is she believing it now?

I don’t mean metaphors for sin. Real demons. Claws in the night.

Now I own you, body and mind

What’s not to believe, Victoria?

GM: She recognizes her surroundings. She’s maybe half a mile from her and Anna’s house. She recognizes the Victorian bed and breakfast she just passed.

Victoria: Fuck! She can’t go home. She can’t go to Anna’s house. Where the fuck can she go?

She doesn’t even have a phone to warn anyone.

She doesn’t have a clue where her girlfriend is, or if she’s even alive.

If she’s here, and warned against going home—then someone freed her. Did they free Anna?

Hope is all she can cling to.

She walks to the bed and breakfast.

GM: It’s a two-story Victorian house with several trees in the front yard. A sign says it’s called “The Chimes” and was established in 1986. The lights are on.

Victoria: She knocks on the door.

GM: She’s answered after a few moments by a white-haired man who looks old enough to be retired.

He offers a friendly smile, then looks at Victoria’s bleeding flank and exclaims, “Oh my lord…!”

Victoria: Fuck. A wound should concern her more than it does. It’s his concern that really concerns her.

“Help, my girlfriend—she…”

GM: “I’ll call 911!” exclaims the man, reaching into his pocket.

Victoria: She seizes his wrists, her eyes maddened.

“I can’t FIND her. Please. You HAVE to help.”

GM: The old man cries out and tries to pull away from Victoria. Fear flashes in his eyes.

“Let go of me!”

Victoria: Well, now the cops will know exactly where she is.

“Please. Please!

She presses him back into the home.

“It’s me. You’ve seen me around the neighborhood. With my friend.”


“She’s missing, and hurt, and the cops tried to kill me. They’re in on it.”

GM: “Help! Heeeeeeeelppp!” the old man yells when Victoria doesn’t let go.

Victoria: She pushes him inside and shuts the door behind her.

GM: “Glenn!” yells a woman’s voice from deeper in the house.

“Call the cops, Wanda!” cries the old man. “Hhheeeeelllppp!!!!”

Victoria: She grits her teeth in rage, shoves him, and departs back into the night.

Why can’t they see that she needs help?! What is WRONG?!

Shutting the door between them, she kicks it as hard as she can in a flare of anger, and departs back out into the night.

GM: But that’s not what happens.

Fury wells in Victoria’s heart. She shoves at the old man—

—and then he crashes to the ground, bleeding profusely from his neck. Victoria tastes hot blood, wet over her lips. It’s salty and succulent with the taste of… fear? The old man’s heart spasms in her eyes. He raggedly wheezes like a fish out of water. Blood pools over the floor.

An old woman rounds the corner, with her phone out. She’s yammering into it, reciting the house’s address.

She sees the old man.

She sees Victoria.

Her hands fly to her mouth as she screams.

Victoria: It takes three to make a pattern.

This time she feels her foot set to the tiled floor of the entryway, and feels her muscles contract and spring. She feels the old woman crumple against the far wall, her strength and weight landing against her throat.

GM: The old woman’s scream abruptly cuts off with a strangled choking noise. Her eyes bulge as she gags, then hits the floor with a brutal crash. She stops moving.

The old man gives a strangled cry. He weakly crawls to her side, wheezing and bleeding like a dying animal, and tries to position his body over hers.

“St… st… a… way!” he froths.

Victoria: Victoria shakes like a leaf in fear of the wind, brittle and hopeless. Her eyes flash between the two.

Her doing. Her damage. Her crimes. Chosen, or not.

“I’m sorry,” she burbles, half through blood and half through her own choking saliva. “I didn’t mean to—”

But she did, didn’t she? Not the man, no—but the woman? A flash of heat rolled over her, and she gave in—and in that moment, she just didn’t care. The damage had been done to her husband. Why not the wife, too? Would any fewer cops come for her if she’d only harmed one?

And then the guilt came.

And here she is.

“He’ll be—he’ll be fine.”

She tears out of the house.

GM: Victoria doesn’t taste anything in her throat. The words come out perfectly clear—choked only by her own guilt.

The couple does not answer her.

All she hears are their cries. Their pain. Their suffering.

Then she’s gone, the old man’s blood hot in her veins, and she doesn’t feel like she was ever shot at all.

Date ?

Victoria: The night is hot. The night is always hot, but tonight feels more oppressive than usual, steamed by the heat of her own shame.

Still no closer to finding Anna, no closer to finding safety, no closer to learning who her mysterious ‘friend’ is, and only making her situation worse with every attempt to remedy it.

She steers herself into a side street a few blocks away, and sets to examining herself in the dim glow of a distant streetlight. How damaged is her clothing?

GM: There’s a hole in her shirt from where the bullet hit her. The area around the hole is crusted with half-dried blood.

Victoria: She gingerly touches where the wound should be.

GM: She feels fine.

Victoria: She reaches around her back, feeling for where an exit wound should be—or, at least a hole in her shirt.

GM: She doesn’t feel any.

Victoria: There’s a bullet inside her.


The problems mount.

No phone, and she doesn’t have anyone’s number but Anna and her mother’s memorized.

Is her mother’s house a safe place?

Probably not.

GM: Approaching police sirens scream red and blue through the night.

Victoria: FUCK!

She sprints off, away from the sirens.

Her legs carry her away from the din of her would-be incarcerators, aimless. The further she travels—always more unnerved by her lack of fatigue, or any symptom of exercise at all—the more her mind wanders.

She can’t hurt another.

She doesn’t want to.

It’s not her.

She only hurts those that want it; those that pay for her service.

But the thought has always been there, hasn’t it, Sylvia?

Hasn’t it, Victoria?

It has.

Deep, yet present. Why else would she revel in doing what she does?

She doesn’t want to hurt another who doesn’t deserve it, but she knows that someone is going to be hurt.

Best someone who deserves it.

She angles her direction toward Central City.

GM: Without warning, it starts to rain. Fat droplets of water pound over Victoria’s head and plunk against the pavement. That’s New Orleans weather for you. Victoria’s hair is soon wetly plastered against her scalp.

The transition from middle-class Milan to poverty-blighted Central City proves equally abrupt as the weather. On one block, it’s beds and breakfasts in charming, lovingly maintained century-old homes. The next, it’s like Victoria’s stepped off the bus to the broken heart of ‘90s Los Angeles. Rows of homes stand abandoned, with with shattered windows and peeling paint. Graffiti tags the rotted boards. Needles and trash litter the streets. Victoria doesn’t see anyone around her, at this hour, but she hears the screech of a car alarm followed by yelling voices.

That charter school where Anna got threatened at knifepoint shouldn’t be too far away.

She still doesn’t feel any pain or discomfort from where the bullet stuck her. She doesn’t smell any new blood. The rain is cool against her still-warm skin, and dampens her clothes, but it doesn’t bother her. Not really. It’s just there. She doesn’t feel any fatigue or adrenaline crash from her escape with the elderly couple.

There’s just nothing. It’s like this is happening to someone else.

Victoria: It’s like she’s watching a movie about herself, viewed from inside her own head.

There’s nothing and no one.

Not a soul.

Just trash, and trashed dreams, and trashed hope. That’s the Big Easy.

No one will be at the charter school at this hour, either. She doesn’t even know what hour it is.

She wanders further, looking for something open—a bar, or similar.

GM: The blaring car alarm eventually dies.

After a few moments, she hears a distant gunshot, shattering glass, and a screeching cat.

The rain continues to fall and plunk.

Suddenly, like wolves leaping from undergrowth, Victoria sees several dark-skinned youths in hoodies approaching her with grim purpose in their strides.

One of them produces a Saturday night special and aims it at Victoria’s chest.

“Hands in the air, bitch.”

Victoria: She holds her hands up, palms out, chest height.

Her voice is weak. “Please… I’ve already… been shot…”

GM: “Gimme your money,” comes the pitiless response.

The other two youths converge behind Victoria.

Victoria: “Bleeding…”

She has no bag, and the pickings of her pockets look slim.

GM: The gun’s safety clicks off.

NOW, BITCH!” yells the youth in front of Victoria.

Victoria: “I d-don’t h-have anything!” she whimpers, reaching gingerly down to turn out her pockets.

Then, in a snap, she tries her luck.

She pivots on heel, bracing for the impact of the bullet to hit her back, and tries to dance behind one of her nearest assailants before the bullet can explode behind her.

GM: Pain explodes through Victoria’s back as she staggers forward, crashing into one of the youths. Suddenly he’s screaming, too. A coppery scent fills the air as he crashes to the ground in a bleeding heap. The other kid draws another gun. The night lights up like a discount fireworks depot as the guns explode. Distant voices scream. Gunpowder fills Victoria’s nostrils. Rain pelts her face as she staggers off into the night, feet pumping against pavement.

“YOU’RE DEAD, BITCH! DEAD!” roars a voice.

Victoria: Too late for that.

The woman tears off down the sidewalk and out into the night.

Date ?

Victoria: Victoria runs, and runs, and runs, until she can’t hear any screaming or shooting. It probably isn’t far—and she doesn’t expect sirens to come here anytime soon.

She checks herself for holes.


GM: Her fingers come away bloody from her back.

She’s sore there, but it’s not a crippling pain. It feels like she was barely grazed.

Victoria: There’s no way she was grazed from that angle.


Nothing on the front? More bullets stuck inside her.

Double fuck.

“What the fuck!?”

She smacks a nearby door in anger.

GM: Her finger leaves a red smudge soon washed away by the rain.

Her clothes feel wet.

Victoria: More holes. More problems.

She wanted one of their shirts.

This isn’t helping.

She can’t go to the police—obviously—and she can’t call an ambulance. She can break in somewhere.

That’s probably her only option. In her frantic state, that’s all she can envision.

Victoria: And then it occurs to her: she may not have his number handy, nor a phone to call him, but there is Marcus.

She turns around, getting her bearings, then jogs off toward the Warehouse District.

GM: The most direct route that isn’t through Central City takes her straight to the Garden District. The contrast is night and day. Crumbling vacant properties give way to a classically-styled faubourg with tree-lined thoroughfares. Southern live oaks, weeping willows, palm trees, carefully maintained hedges, and expansive lawns fill the neighborhood with green. Attractive rows of Greek Revival and Colonial-style homes, some small enough to be ordinary homes and others large enough to call mansions, are surrounded by ornate cast-iron fences and classical statues of Greek nymphs and muses, lending the district an aura of grace.

Yet, vigilant of the crime and squalor that could spill down from its northern neighbor, the Garden District is well-guarded. Victoria has barely glimpsed a live oak when she sees a police cruiser slowly making its rounds.

Victoria: It’s only just as she turns a corner that she spots the cruiser rolling by, an overweight officer with sleep-laden lids seated behind the wheel illuminated by the dim light of a standard-issue laptop.

She ducks back onto the prior street, aligning herself with a pillar until he passes by.

Her journey through the Garden is much the same, her eyes trained blocks ahead, peering down intersections and ever vigilant for the police—people who would ordinarily be her allies, but who wouldn’t take kindly to the bleeding woman mucking up their pristine streets.

GM: There are two police officers in the patrol vehicle. But neither one looks at Victoria, even when she traipses hair-raisingly close by their patrol vehicle. All they have eyes for is their laptop and the live oaks.

The next patrol vehicle proves equally oblivious.

And the one after that.

The Garden District’s boulevards give way to the CBD’s glass and steel skyscrapers and corporate high-rises. There are still passersby and pedestrians at this hour. No one looks at Victoria or remarks on her bloody clothes. No one hassles her. No one stops her. No one gives a damn.

Office buildings give way to restaurants, art galleries, and finally Marcus Marrow’s condominium building.

The front door is closed and locked.

Victoria: By the time she reaches the other side of the Garden District, she’s in sheer disbelief at the nonchalance of NOLA’s finest. Their jar of fucks to be given is often void—but not quite so void in the places that matter.

She arrives outside the condominium building, and presses the call button for Marcus’ apartment.

GM: “Marcus speaking,” greets the man’s smooth voice.

It sounds the complete opposite of how Victoria looks.

Victoria: “Marcus.”

What the fuck are you doing up?

“It’s Vic. Victoria. Can… I come in? I look like shit. I feel like shit.”

At least she doesn’t smell like it anymore.

GM: That seems to break the club operator’s stride a little.

“Ah, certainly. Let me buzz you in.”

Victoria hears the door unlock with a click.

Victoria: Lovely.

At least something is going right.

Date ?

Victoria: Victoria steps inside and moves to take the elevator up to Marcus’ apartment.

GM: The condo’s lobby is clean and modern, with tasteful art on the walls and magazines by the chairs. There’s a woman at the front desk. She doesn’t pay Victoria a glance either.

Marcus’ unit is on the fifth floor. Victoria takes the elevator up and runs into him in the hallway. He’s a handsome, 30something man with dark hair and a carefully trimmed goatee. He’s dressed down from his usual suit and tie in slacks and a button-up.

He blinks as he takes in the sight of Victoria.

Victoria: Never has Victoria Wolf felt so lucky to be ignored.

She raises a brow at the sight of him in turn.

“I expected pajamas at fuck-o’clock in the morning,” she grimaces.

She does not move to comment on her own sorry state.

GM: “It’s not 9 PM,” Marcus answers slowly.

Victoria: She blinks slowly.

“What time is it?”

GM: “A little after 8.”

Victoria: “There’s… no way.”

GM: “What happened to you?”

Victoria: She pushes past him into the apartment.

GM: She finds the door closed and locked, given that Marcus is in the hallway.

Victoria: “Can we go inside?”

She turns to face him.

She looks like she just left a funeral. Tears are barely restrained.


GM: “What’s going on?” asks her occasional fling.

Victoria: “Marcus. Please. I don’t want to talk out here. I…”

GM: “You look like you should be in the ER,” Marcus frowns.

Victoria: “I’m fine. Physically. I just need a shower. And clothes.”

And a hug.

“And a hug.”

GM: “You don’t look fine,” says Marcus, his voice still wary. “You look sick. And is that… blood?”

Victoria: Her voice is as fragile as a cracked mirror, its pieces already falling.

“Marcus. Please.”

GM: Her occasional lover looks like this is distinctly more than he wants dumped in his lap.

He pauses for several moments, then jabs a finger at Victoria and says,

“You’ll owe me for this.”

Victoria: “Anything.”

And she means it.

She knows better than to ask for the hug yet.

GM: Marcus unlocks the door to his apartment. He still looks like he’s wondering if he’s going to regret this.

Victoria: He won’t.


“Can I… use your shower?”

Translation: Can I look like less shit before I explain?

Alternate translation: I’d like to track less shit all over your pristine apartment.

GM: “Go ahead,” says Marcus.

He’s polite enough not to say she looks like she could use one.

Victoria: She gives him a sympathetic look, and disappears to do so.

The heat is pleasant, but short lived. Thoughts crash against her. Memories. Blood. So much blood. So many people.

So much blood, but none of it her own. No bullet. No hole.

No hole.

No wound.

No blood.


Had she imagined it? She felt the sting—had she imagined that, too?

No, her shirt has a hole. Several holes.

What the fuck is happening to her? Is she dreaming?

She doesn’t spend long in there. She doesn’t want to be alone. Not with these thoughts.

Victoria pokes her head out the door.

“Do you have some spare pajamas?”

GM: Her shirt has one hole in the side and three holes in its back. Some of the water that swirls down the drain is red-tinged, at first. Victoria smells it like the bathroom is doused in it. Eventually, the water is nothing but clear.

The bathroom is neat and clean with chic decor. Neater and cleaner than Victoria’s, in fact. It feels like a hotel bathroom more than a lived-in one.

She doesn’t see any bullet hole along her flank as she bathes.

Marcus isn’t immediately outside of the bathroom door when Victoria pokes her head out. She hears the sounds of TV playing from the living room.

Victoria: “Marcus!”

She walks out, mostly dry. At least she isn’t tracking water through his apartment, aside from the droplets in her hair.

GM: She finds Marcus seated on the couch watching a movie. Arousal is distinctly absent from his face at the sight of her naked body, although there is perhaps some relief that he can’t see any blood.

“You look pale,” he says.

He’s not wrong. She’s definitely lost some color.

Victoria: She slides gingerly into the sofa beside him.

She doesn’t say anything.

GM: “I have a bathrobe,” says Marcus.

Victoria: She nods, but doesn’t move.

GM: Marcus gets up, leaves, and returns with it. It’s white and fluffy.

Victoria: She doesn’t feel very white and fluffy right now. Slipping her arms into the robe doesn’t help.

She sniffles.

It’s a dam against a tsunami.

“I… don’t know what’s happening to me.”

GM: She doesn’t sniff. There’s no congestion in her nose. No moisture welling from her eyes. Just nothing.

“That makes both of us,” observes Marcus.

“You’re not the first person I know who hates visiting the ER, but… why me? I thought you had a girlfriend.”

Victoria: She wants to cry. Why can’t she cry?

Frustration bubbles up inside her, like a clogged sink regurgitating fetid water.

“I… I don’t know where she is.”

She can’t tell him. Can she?

“I woke up, and she’s gone.”

He must not have seen the news yet. Is she in the news?

“I’m not hurt.”

Despite the bullet holes.

Despite looking like shit.

“I feel fine.”

Despite the pallid complexion.

“I just…”

GM: Victoria suddenly smells it again.




Wetly cascading down her face.

“Oh my god!” exclaims Marcus, his face paling.

“You need a doctor!”

Victoria: She sniffs.

The scent hits her.

“Wh—why do I smell blood?”

She wipes her face, the coppery fluid coming off on her hands.

She shrieks.

GM: Her hand is wet with blood.

Marcus pulls out his phone and frantically taps into it.

Victoria: “W-wait!”

She snatches his phone.

GM: “You’re bleeding out of your EYES!” yells Marcus.

Victoria: She blinks. Her vision stains red.

“I… I’ll be fine! I can’t. I can’t go to the ER!”

Anna would understand.

Is Anna even alive?

She starts crying again, harder.


This time, she runs for the bathroom.

GM: Marcus stares at with an incredulous expression, then makes a throwing-up-his-hands expression.

The man’s phone still in hand, Victoria sees a ghastly sight in the bathroom mirror. Exactly like Marcus said, she’s bleeding from her eyes. Bleeding red, fat, sanguine tears.

Victoria: She turns his water on, pressing her body to stop. No tears. No crying. No tears. No crying. Stop.

It still hurts.

She rinses her face off, then looks again.

GM: She looks miserable.





But clean of blood.

Victoria: She reenters Marcus’ living room, this time in better control of her emotions.

“If you lend me something to wear, I’ll leave.”

The words are cold. As dead as her.

GM: “Sure,” says Marcus. His gaze noticeably lingers around Victoria’s eyes. “Do you… want to call someone?”

“Girlfriend, family, whoever.”

Victoria: She shakes her head after a long moment.

She doesn’t want to leave.

She still wants a hug.

“I don’t know where Anna is.”

GM: “How long has it been since your first call or text?”

Victoria: “I… can’t tell you, Marcus,” she admits, defeated. It’s like the blonde is there, smiling at her. She’s still winning.

“You’ll call the police, and the police will make it worse.”

GM: “Okay, no police,” the club owner says in stride. “What do you mean, you can’t tell?”

Victoria: She eyes him carefully.


GM: “Sure. Promise.”

Victoria: “Put your phone in the kitchen.”

GM: He walks to the kitchen and returns empty-handed.

Victoria: That elicits a small smile from an otherwise dead woman.

“We were taken last night. Both of us. They… Hurt her. They made—”

She wills tears to stop. No. No, she doesn’t let them out. Not this time.

“They made me tell them h-how. How to hurt her. They made it my fault. Then, they knocked me out—and I woke up in a hotel. Like this.”

GM: Marcus opens his mouth once, then closes it.

“Maybe it’s better if I don’t know who. Or how.”

“Like… what?”

Victoria: She gestures to herself as if it explains everything.

“Alone. No Anna. No one.”

GM: It explains nothing.

Marcus just continues,

“And you woke up in a hotel?”

“Where do you think your girlfriend is?”

Victoria: “I—I don’t know. She was hurt. Hurt badly.”

Words are hard. They’re harder when she’s spending so much effort trying not to cry.

“Th-they promised me she wouldn’t die. I believe them, but I d—don’t know where she is. And I was left with nothing, and no one, covered in—just naked, on a bed.”

GM: The Corner Club’s owner just takes that in stride.

“Is she missing from your place? Not responding to calls and texts?”

“Or her place, if you don’t live together.”

Victoria: “I g—got a note. It s—said it wasn’t safe t—to go home, or to Anna’s. I d—don’t want to endanger my family.”

A pause.

“I don’t have my phone. Should I try c—calling from yours? They h—have it, though. Then they’ll have your number.”

GM: “Uh,” says Marcus. “Maybe you should just get a disposable one.”

Victoria: “Are you offering to buy me one?”

As she obviously has no wallet.

GM: “Sure.”

He gets up, retrieves his wallet, and offers her $50 in five $10 bills.

Victoria: She takes the bills, in apparent disbelief.

She stares.

GM: “It’s not that much money,” Marcus says dryly.

Victoria: “Do you have something I can wear? I only have my bloody t-shirt.”

GM: “No promises it’ll fit, but sure. Check my closet.”

Victoria: “I’m surprised you don’t have ‘extra’ clothing laying a round,” she manages to tease, pushing off the sofa to go look.

GM: “Depends what day you catch me,” Marcus responds idly.

The walk-in closet, like the rest of the chic and upscale apartment, is clean and neatly organized. There’s a variety of designer men’s clothes and accessories in styles ranging from dressy to casual. It’s a really big wardrobe for a man.

Victoria: She rifles through everything—anything—that might fit her, that won’t look too obviously out of place. Even a baggy shirt and sweatpants will do.

GM: Marcus has a few inches on her. The clothing is sized to match. It’s a little big, but wearable.

His frame, at least, is lean rather than bulky.

Victoria: She snags a shirt, a pair of lazy-but-not-out-of-place-at-a-convenience store pants, and dons her own shoes. She isn’t the picture of modern fashion, but it’ll do.

“Thanks, Marcus,” she murmurs. “I’ll be back in 15?”

Translation: If I’m not, worry.

GM: Marcus has set the cash down on the sofa’s armrest.

“Sure,” he says. “Good luck.”

Victoria: She takes the cash, pocketing it, and leaves.

She hopes she’ll be let back in.

Thursday night, 7 April 2016, PM

Victoria: Victoria pushes the call button on the elevator, waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

GM: Its doors ding open after about a minute.

Victoria: She steps in, and presses G.

The loneliness of an elevator feels oppressive.

GM: It opens at the ground floor. The woman at the front desk and the several people in the lobby ignore her like she’s invisible.

Victoria: Just like before.

Just like she wanted.

She doesn’t want it anymore.

Victoria strides past and out onto the street. There’s a convenience store just a few blocks down from Marcus’ place. It’s not the first time she’s had to visit.

GM: The cashier’s gaze slides blankly past her as she walks in.

Victoria: She huffs, approaching him.

“Where are your cell phones?”

GM: The cashier startles as Victoria talks to him.

“Ov-over there,” he says, pointing down an aisle.

Victoria: She regards him for a moment.


She retrieves a phone, setting it on the counter.

GM: The cashier gives her a mildly surprised look, but rings it up for her, takes the cash, and counts out her change.

Victoria: She takes the phone and cash, pocketing the latter, and rips open the package to the prior.

She has Anna’s number dialed before the door even closes behind her.

GM: A few rings pass on the disposable ring.




They are the longest-feeling rings Victoria has ever heard.

Then they stop.

The calling icon on the phone’s screen disappears.

“Hello?” comes Anna’s voice.

Previous, by Narrative:
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Previous, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria VIII
Next, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria X

Story Fourteen, Victoria VIII

“Which three fingers do you want me to cut off?”
Unknown woman

Wednesday night, 6 April 2016, PM

GM: The wake-up comes so suddenly that Victoria isn’t even certain when she went out. Some kind of chemical in the hood? Hard to say.

She’s handcuffed to a steel chair at both the wrists and ankles. The chair is appears to be bolted to the floor. She still has her clothes, for what it’s worth.

The room is almost painfully bright. It’s the kind of corporate LED ceiling lights that fill the entire room with multiple banks. The polished white tile floor does nothing to help with brightness, nor do the plastic sheets hanging from each wall.

And she’s still there. The blonde. Her makeup isn’t even smeared, or maybe she just had time to reapply it.

Either way, she looks like death.

Her skin is paler than any Victoria has seen, an effect made all the starker by the bright lights and black sweater she now wears. That’s the only thing Victoria can directly put her finger on directly against the obscenely white skin, makeup, and hair. Victoria can’t understand how she didn’t see the woman this way, at first. She looked normal at the front door. Here, there’s a terrible darkness in her eyes. A cruel cast to her porcelain features. The sharp hint to her smile that promises only one thing:


“Welcome back, Ms. Wolf.”

Victoria: Confusion claims her first.

Body and mind.

She recalls the words, and now she’s…

Bright lights. Cold steel. Plastic sheets.

You don’t need plastic sheets to hold someone prisoner. She swallows.


Where is Anna?” she snarls.

GM: The woman rolls her eyes.

“Adorable, if childish.”

“Let’s go ahead and put a pin in the heroic declarations and childish threats, now.”

She gives a savage smile.

“Would you prefer I cut off Anna’s ears or her nose in front of you?”

Victoria: She snarls back at her.

“Leave her alone! What the fuck is this even about?!”

GM: The woman smiles again.

“Both it is.”

She walks over to knock on the clinical white door twice.

Victoria: “W-wait! Wait! What do you want from us?!”

GM: There’s another poisonous smile.

“I want you to understand how serious I am. Don’t worry, there will be opportunities to save the rest of her. I’m told modern plastic surgery can be quite good.”

The room’s lights suddenly dim. Everything is blanketed in shadow. The door opens after a moment to admit two large black men leading in a diminutive female figure from either side. Victoria can’t clearly see her face. What she can see looks like hell. The figure’s face is already bruising from what might be… a few blows? Many blows? One lip looks grossly overlarge. It has to be swollen and split. Victoria smells blood. She’s been stripped of her pajamas and wears a straitjacket with nothing else.

Victoria can’t make out her full face. Or see her eyes. Not beyond terrified glints in the dark.

Perhaps that is a mercy.

The men walk the figure into the room and force her to her knees in front of Victoria. One man produces a serrated knife for the blonde.

She takes it and pauses before Victoria.

“We tried a straight blade for a while, but I won’t lie to you, it was a mess. You have to work so hard. If you’re trying to muscle it, half the time you take part of the lip with it. That’s just sloppy.”

“Serrated takes longer, but the knife does most of the work for you. The key is in holding the subject steady.” She pauses, then shrugs. “Why bother, a picture is worth a thousand words.”

The blonde turns to face Anna. “I want you to know: she brought this on you.”

Victoria: The beast inside Victoria compels her to rage against her bindings. The chair creaks. Her knuckles turn white. Her teeth bare, glinting in the light. The spirit inside her could render every creature in this room to ash, but she’s only human.


When it matters most, helpless.

“I’ll ruin ALL of you!” she snarls, the cuffs bruising her wrists in her struggle.

GM:STOP! PLEASE! I’LL DO-” the bound figure screams, only to be suddenly cut off by a hand over her mouth.

The blonde nods to the two men. The second one also grabs Anna’s head.

“This may hurt a little.”

Victoria can’t see what happens. Not clearly, in the poor lighting. It looks like the woman is grabbing Anna’s right ear. Pulling. Stretching flesh tight from the skull. Then there’s a flash of steel, against the room’s remaining light, and the woman sets to work with all the hesitation of a butcher slicing a piece of meat or a mother cutting the crusts off a child’s sandwich.

The blade nosily slices—tears, really—into the flesh. There’s an overpoweringly coppery smell. Anna’s screams are almost inhuman.

It lasts for maybe four or five seconds.

Then the blonde walks back to Victoria and holds up a grisly, red-stained piece of flesh and cartilage like a trophy.

There’s no mistaking what it is.

Anna’s ear.

“She was prettier with both, honestly,” says the blonde.

Victoria: The bindings tear into Victoria’s wrists in all the burning rage.


She struggles as if the knife were at her own throat—and, really, it’s so much worse than that. She bucks and heaves, a mixture of tears and rabid saliva spilling down her face. If not for the chair being secured, she’d be sobbing into the floor.

“Let her GO!”

GM: The blonde doesn’t even acknowledge Victoria’s helpless fury.

She just repeats the process.

Victoria has only a moment to see the flesh pulled taunt again before the knife comes down a second time, sawing through skin. There’s no scream this time, but another light comes on. Anna’s face is a mask of terror and agony, her head held stable by the two strong men on either side. She brokenly sobs and wails. Tears run down her cheeks. Saliva leaks down her chin.

There’s four, maybe five seconds of wet tearing and bubbling coppery crimson. No longer. Halfway through, Anna’s cries cease.

Then the blonde hoists the second ear. She drops it in front of Victoria next to the first with a smile.

“Two down, one to go.”

She looks back to Anna’s now-motionless form and scowls.

“I guess we’ll have to wait until she comes to.”

Victoria: Her fury rises. Blood drips from her wrists. Victoria Wolf is an animal. Caged. Restrained. Taunted.

She roars.

AGH! STOP! Stop. Please! Please.”

Her rage falters.

“Please, no more to her. I’m who you want. You have me.

GM: The thugs drag Anna out.

“Do I? Do I have your undivided attention now, Ms. Wolf?”

The blonde says the name as if it’s a joke.

She stalks towards Victoria’s bolted chair.

“Every time you lie to me, every time you insult me, every time I don’t like the look in your eye or think you’re telling me anything but the complete truth… I’m going to cut off another part of your little friend in front of you.”

“The nose is still gone, by the way. This little delay didn’t buy it back for you. Next up will be fingers. To save time, we’ll sell them away three at a time. Lips. Nipples. Womanly bits. We learned to save the eyes for last so she can see what’s being done to her as you sell her off piece by piece like a piece of meat.”

“Are you ready to cooperate?”

Victoria: She simply jerks her head in a nod, the rest of her shaking like the last leaf holding against winter.

GM: The blonde pulls a second chair up in front of Victoria and lazily sits across it, facing backwards towards her.

“I suppose you’re worried about your little girlfriend. That she’s going to bleed out.”

The blonde smiles, then shakes her head and waves a hand dismissively.

“Don’t worry about that. We learned that lesson a long time ago. By now they’ve already cauterized those wounds. It might have even been enough to wake her up.”

“We definitely want to make sure she’s completely awake and aware of every single thing that happens because of you.”

“I give you my word, she will not die tonight.”

Victoria: She believes her.


This vile creature before her—this ‘once a woman’—hasn’t lied to her.

Not once.

She knows better than to talk back. She knows better than to speak unless bid to. She knows better than to let that rage show.

She nods again.

GM: The woman smiles.

“Now, let’s start with the obvious. Why did you have a priest beaten, raped, and framed?”

Victoria: She parts her lips to speak, pauses long enough to bid the instinctive lie away, and answers.

“His family had Anna’s life ruined; had people killed. All for a fault not their own.”

GM: The blonde breaths in deeply. She gives what might be the first genuine smile of the night.

“Ah, I do so love poetic justice. For a wrong against an innocent, you wronged an innocent, and in turn have had an innocent wronged.”

“Who can deny the hand of God in the world?”

The question sounds rhetorical.

“Who were your conspirators?”

Victoria: The defeat on Victoria’s face could tarnish God’s own sense of confidence.

“You already know Jordan. I’m sure he’s—”

Stay on topic, Victoria.

I’m sorry.

“Christina Roberts.”

GM: “Who else?” the woman asks, tracing a finger across Victoria’s bound, bleeding wrist and bringing it to her lips.

Victoria: She feels Victoria trembling beneath her.

“Some of Jordan’s associates. I don’t know their names. I wasn’t supposed to know.”

GM: The woman wipes Victoria’s blood off of her finger against her teeth and pauses in thought.

“You wouldn’t be lying to me, Ms. Wolf, would you?”

Victoria: “You are threatening the only thing that matters to me. Why would I lie?”

GM: “What a fascinating question,” the woman asks in turn.

“Why did you target the priest?”

Victoria: “A fool’s errand in revenge. He seemed like a good idea at the time; to tarnish image and c-career. That’s what matters to the el-lite, doesn’t it?”

GM: “How brave and powerful you must have felt, sending men to attack a servant of God. Did you have any direct evidence he was involved in the ‘ruining’ of your little friend?” the woman probes.

One hand reaches out to caress Victoria’s cheek, lightly, almost like a lover.

Victoria: She rests her cheek against that fetid palm.

“No. It didn’t matter. It was stupid.”

In retrospect, it was stupid.

GM: Victoria immediately regrets it. There’s no warmth or assurance at the contact. Just a cold, skin-scrawling shiver up her spine, like she might get from touching a snake.

Victoria: She knows better than to apologize, too.

She doesn’t pull away, despite the revulsion.

GM: The hand cups Victoria’s face and brings her eyes to meet her interrogator’s eyes. The dominatrix feels goosebumps along her skin.

“Oh, darling, spare us both the sob story. Like all victimizers, you regret getting caught and being made to pay for your sins. Not the sin itself. Left to your own devices, you’d be happily planning your next attack.”

“Let’s stick to facts: whose idea was it to target the priest, yours or Ms. Roberts’?”

Victoria: Her expression doesn’t change.

“Everything was my idea. The only input Christina provided was advice.”

GM: The smile vanishes from her interrogator’s face.

“There’s the lie. I knew it was coming.”

Her voice remains soft.

“I suppose we should get your friend back in here to remind you what you’re playing with. Which three fingers do you want me to cut off?”

Victoria: “N-no! It’s not a lie! She w-wouldn’t help me! Said it HAD to come from me! P-pl-please! I’m being honest! You’ve made your point—I have NO reason to lie to you!”

Defeat returns.

“Why would I lie to protect an accomplice when you have everything in my life bleeding in front of me?”

“She validated my plan. Her only input beyond that was to disseminate to media.”

Victoria: She draws a breath, trying to calm herself enough to think their way out of here.

“I wanted revenge. I wanted to give life back to those I love. I didn’t care who got in the way to do it. I used Christina to validate and execute my plan.”

A pause.

“Both pinkies. Left ring finger.”

GM: “And all you gave her was suffering,” says the woman.

She snaps her fingers.

The men half-drag, half-carry Anna back into the room. She looks delirious. Barely aware of her surroundings. She has no ears. Just ugly, pungent-smelling burns where they used to be, over the holes.

“By that I also mean you, specifically,” says the woman. “Obviously, it’s inadvisable not to keep you restrained right now—for your safety more than mine—so we’re going to do the next best thing, to you actually wielding the knife.”

She lifts up the earlier knife and strides up towards Anna. The woman barely seems to register her presence. Her face is smeared with coppery-smelling half-dried blood. Especially down the sides.

“If you want those fingers gone? Tell me. And tell Anna. Do your best to get through to her. Dictate the entire thing, from start to finish.”

Victoria: It hurts her more than anything. She’d rather that drunk client of Émelise’ have taken her and left her dying on the floor.


This is suffering.

She lifts her jaw, weighed by anchors, and speaks with a resolute steel. Not defiance. No, only to date their captor.

“Take her left pinky and ring finger, and her right pink. You’ll find the joint, and slice through cleanly. And you’ll enjoy the feel of her flesh as much as you enjoy hearing me will it.”

GM: The woman snaps her fingers in front of Anna’s face. The woman’s eyes sluggishly follow them.

“I said get through to her, Ms. Wolf. She needs to understand who this is coming from. I’m not convinced she will.”

Victoria:ANNA! Anna! Fucking wake up. Look at me, baby. You need to do this, okay? This is my fault. You can blame me. You can hate me, but you need to do this. Okay?”

Her nerves are beyond frayed. She’s back to trembling. Her words become more and more feeble the more she forces out.

GM: Anna’s eyes blearily meet Sylvia’s.

“Do… wha….?”

Victoria:ANNA. Wake UP! Stay. Awake. Do you hear me? Did you hear what I said?”

GM: The ear-less woman just stares at Sylvia deliriously.

Then, after a moment, she starts sobbing.

“Perfect,” the blonde purrs. She slides in beside Anna, knife in hand.

Victoria’s girlfriend screams and feebly thrashes.

The blonde nods again to the men on either side of Anna. They wrap their meaty hands back around her head.

Anna screams louder. It’s a pleading, almost childish wail of abject terror. When her torturer places the knife under her nose and begins to saw, it gets worse.

This isn’t as quick as the ear: there’s just so much cartilage to saw though. Anna screams with every drop of blood, and there are so many of those too. Maybe it’s for the best that the men holding her look fairly strong. It’s gruesome enough to watch the blade saw through flesh.

Blood flows down Anna’s face and soaks her throat red. There’s so much that it chokes off her screams as the blonde finishes her terrible task. The ruined piece of cartilage and flesh hits the floor with a wet splat. Anna’s ruined face is a hellscape. It’s a human’s face with a skeleton’s empty nasal cavity. She looks like a freak. Some monstrous, abominable unfortunate, caught between worlds, neither living nor dead. She looks like a monster that makes children scream. She looks like something no one could love.

Yet, she remains awake for what comes next.

The blonde frees one arm from the jacket and has her companions hold it straight. She produces a pair of pruning shears and teases one tiny finger away from the next. The shears line up around it. Anna’s screams hit a new high note.

Then it’s over, suddenly. One swift crunch of steel against flesh and bone, and a small finger hits the floor. Blood wells, but there’s scarcely time to register as the blonde moves the garden tool to the next finger. Her ring finger. There’s another snap. Steel sheers through flesh, glances off bone, and cuts through gristle. A second finger hits the ground.

If there’s something to be said for it, at least these actions are faster than the knife.

The second hand is teased free with a quickness as Anna’s eyes begin to glaze over once again. There’s another flash of steel. A third jet of blood joins the first two.

It becomes obvious why the blonde is rushing when Anna mercifully slides back into unconsciousness.

“Damn,” the blonde curses. “Three on two different hands is always a challenge.”

She sighs and waits as the men gather Anna’s severed nose, severed fingers, and what’s left of the woman herself, then carry her out of the room. Blood runs from her mutilated hands and face until the door closes.

“Let’s start over,” says the blonde. “You were telling me about how you and Ms. Roberts conspired to harm a priest because of the part others played in ‘ruining’ your friend.”

She pauses. “I suppose that word takes on a different meaning now. Do you still want to sleep with her? I thought I was doing you a favor by keeping her tongue, but we’ve only gotten started on her new look.”

Victoria: Victoria knows better than to look away. She knows better than to even blink; to zone out; to show any indication that her attention wavers for so much as even a moment.

This is your punishment, Victoria. This is your doing. This is your folly, and you are to reap every ounce of what you sowed.

She watches every schlick of the blade as it saws through her girlfriend’s nose. She listens to her fingers hit the ground with the unceremonious clack of thrown dice. She never leaves Anna’s eyes. Not once.

Her expression, though, morphs. By the time Anna is drawn away, the wolf is more—less?—than defeated; she’s beaten and battered, more than if the blade had been taken to her own face. She’s chained without the need for chains. Beaten without the need for further abuse. She’s sitting outside Death’s door, waiting to be let in, both patient and impatient.

When she’s addressed, those lifeless eyes shift up to the blonde.

Words are a foreign concept, and it takes her a moment to answer.

“Please,” she begs, for the first time in her life. “I’ll answer anything—do anything—if you let her go.”

She doesn’t remember when tears began streaming down her face, but the river is flowing with no sign of abatement.

“You have my life. We both know that. I have nothing to bargain with, but I can promise willing service if you just let her go.

She pauses, knowing that if she doesn’t answer the question, it’ll be more fingers.

“Anna was fired and blacklisted from teaching as a scapegoat for the events of the LaLaurie House. Christina Roberts’ niece was killed for it. I am protective of my own—you know that—and so I schemed revenge.”

The pause that follows is frigid.

“I do still want to sleep with her, yes,” she forces out. “I am s-s-sorry for my transgression. H-how can I make it right?”

GM: Does the blonde take pleasure from Victoria’s surrender? From her tears and begging? From seeing her broken like no one else has broken her before?

If she does, she gives no sign.

Perhaps that’s more galling, in its own way, than gloating.

Perhaps that’s worse for Anna.

Because all the blonde does is keep questioning:

“Who approached whom?”

“What is your past relationship with Ms. Roberts?”

Victoria: Victoria’s expression is pleading. Begging. This woman has everything she is, and is pulling it apart as easily and carelessly as a child eating string cheese.

She scrambles for thought.

“I—I met her. I was upset. I learned the circumstances of Anna’s blacklisting. She raised her niece’s fate. We broached the s-subject together: revenge.”

She swallows.

“The plan was mine. She wouldn’t provide, only advise.”

She addresses the second question.

“Acquaintances in related businesses.”

More information, Victoria.


Is the room spinning?

Why can she hear the ocean?

“She owns a… an escort agency. I provide related services.”

She adds, “That’s how I met Jordan. He’s… one of mine. Was.”

He isn’t here anymore.

She knows that.

Is Anna?

She promised she wouldn’t die.

Does this woman lie?

She’s been honest so far.

So honest.

“I knew of his… connections to the Mafia. I hired him. I…”

She considers asking where they went wrong.

She already knows the answer she’ll get.

Answering the door.

Thinking they were more than goldfish in a bowl adjacent to an ocean they’d never know.

GM: The blonde cracks a smile at Victoria’s haggard expression.

If she’s being pulled apart like string cheese, the blonde is the child gulping down the pieces.

It’s gone after a moment, though.

“You what?” the woman prompts.

“You’ve been doing so well. Don’t stop now.”

Victoria: “I… I… I thought it was enough. I thought I was clever. Using Jordan.”

The implication is written on her face: she had no idea how deep the water went.

GM: “If it’s any consolation, no doubt Ms. Roberts thought the same,” answers the blonde.

Victoria: She almost cracks a smile. A dead, broken smile.


As if afraid the moment’s silence between them might set off a bomb, she stammers, “Wh-what else? What else do you want to know? Anything. Anything at all. I won’t lie.”

The blonde knows she won’t lie.

The blonde knows how serious Victoria knows she is.

GM: Her interrogator, as it turns out, has a great deal she wants to know.

She probes into how and when Victoria and Anna met. When and how Victoria learned of Anna’s woes. When their relationship became sexual.

She wants to know about Victoria’s clients of interest. Their fetishes and desires.

She wants to know details on how the priest was singled out. Why not a Devillers sister? Why not someone more directly involved in what happened? Why not the Whitney family?

Victoria: She shares the story of how they met; of their quick, easy friendship, and Victoria’s protective nature. She recants the story of the golf club, knowing it’ll make it more painful—and give her torturer more pleasure—when they bring Anna back in. She tells the story of their relationship, and of Anna’s ex-fiance, and what Victoria did for her. She shares the story of their first time, and how much she loves the woman.

Victoria thinks for a moment on her clients. She has a fair few clients, and though they’ve become ‘more’ interesting over time, she’s yet to have the level of ‘interesting’ she’s dreamed of. She shares that, too. She shares those she considers the most interesting:

Jordan, and his mommy obsession.

Hugo Cleveland, and his penchant for being dominated by wealthy women.

Lucky Cardona, and his love for innocent interns; and, his true stories of defiling them.

Russell White, and his need for tender touch.

“The priest was singled out because he was accessible, and his reputation would be easy to tarnish at a time when it mattered,” she answers. To the rest, she offers an admission of her own weakness. Kidnapping and ruining lives are not her strong suit anywhere near as much as holding a knife herself.

It doesn’t matter what she asks. Victoria answers everything. Her mouth tries. Her eyes stream. She spills her innermost secrets—her most protected clients—as if her mind is an open text. All for Anna.

What’s left of her.

GM: The blonde listens as she spills every name and secret. She asks probing questions here and there with each topic.

By the end, she doesn’t look gleeful or sadistic. She just looks tired.

“Do you believe in God, Ms. Wolf?” she asks.

Victoria: “I… do, yes. Since I was little.”

She sounds as if she’s talking to her therapist.

Maybe she’s making her peace.

GM: She nods.

“Then you’re fortunate.”

That statement hangs pregnant in the air for a moment.

“Because I believe in God too, Ms. Wolf.”

She pulls up the chair before Victoria again, straddling it and leaning over the back.

“You hate me. Think I’m a monster.”

“Do you believe me a liar?”

Victoria: She looks up to her, death embodied in her eyes. The soul is dulled. The heart is a hole.

“I… believe that you’re doing what I wished I could do; what I would do, if we were switched. No, I don’t think you’re a liar. Not now.”

GM: “And if I told you this,” she gestures to the room, to the blood staining the floor, “was the lesser of two evils, for you?”

Victoria: “I would ask what you saved me from, and why you saved me.”

“Me, who gave you a reason to do what you are.”

GM: “I likely saved you, and your girlfriend, from getting beaten to death with a baseball bat by the side of the road and buried in a shallow grave.”

“I saved you because I needed to question you myself. I had no intention of helping you, after what you did, but I do find a strange providence in how this worked out.”

Victoria: Victoria doesn’t understand, and it’s written on her face as plain as graffiti.

“Why did you need to question me yourself…? What providence…?”

GM: She raises her eyebrows, looking up.

“I’m in the unusual position of having a better understanding of His sense of humor than most.”

Victoria: “Why? How?”

GM: “It usually starts with a terrible mistake that you don’t have enough sense to regret at the time.”

She lets out a long breath.

“So, what do I do with you,” she muses.

Victoria: Victoria almost smiles. Almost.

“You… have everything I’ve ever wanted. What do you want to do with me?”

GM: The cold hand returns, tracing Victoria’s bruised jaw.

“A pretentious assumption,” she laughs.

Victoria: A mask of confusion slips into place.


GM: “That you know everything you desire.”

A strained smile slips in before she continues,

“Tell me, Wolf, what is it you desire?”

Victoria: “My wife,” is her answer. “Whole. Unharmed. Sane.”

But she can’t have all of that, can she?

And that’s not all, is it, Victoria?

Is it, Sylvia?


The word isn’t spoken harshly, nor is it an afterthought. It’s a simple statement. Weak. Unsupported.

She can’t have that either, and it shows.

GM: “And you think that’s what I have?” the blonde asks.

Does she look sad?

Victoria: Victoria stares at her.

Is it not?

“Not… anymore.”

Now she’s sad.

GM: “If I let you go tonight, Ms. Wolf, what would you do?”

Victoria: “Would Anna be given back to me?”

GM: “Let’s assume so.”

Victoria: “What state would she be in?”

GM: “Meaning what? Are you asking if I’ll send you home with a corpse in some twisted mockery of your wish?”

Victoria: “If you hand me a noseless, earless, seven-fingered, cauterized, broken woman, then I would go to the hospital.”

It almost sounds like a joke.

It isn’t.

“You promised she won’t die, and I said that I don’t believe you’re lying to me.”

A pause.

“If you let me go tonight, I would try to learn who you are.”

Thoughts strain her face.

“Not for revenge.”

For what, then?

“Not yet.”

GM: “Why does it matter who I am, Ms. Wolf?”

Victoria: “Because you’re better than me,” she answers both simply and immediately.

“And I want to know how you’re so much so.”

All of that—all of tonight—and her answer has nothing to do with Anna at all.

GM: That seems to spark her interest.

“Does it bother you, or intrigue you, that I am?”


Victoria: “What is one without the other?”

GM: “And when you learned who I was?”

Victoria: “Find you. Find a reason for you to give me the time of day.”

GM: The blonde gestures with her free hand in a circular motion, up and down.

Get to the point.

Victoria: “I fucked up. You more than illustrated the point: I’m so far out of my depth that I’m not even in the same ocean. You saved me, and you won’t say why. You’re talking to me, not torturing me, and you won’t say why.”

Despite her words, she doesn’t sound hopeful that she’ll actually be going anywhere.

“I want to know how you became who you are. Normal people don’t do what you do. ‘Body and mind.’ I didn’t smell chloroform. I don’t know who you are—but I want to know, and you don’t seem the type to let people who know go free.”

A pause.

“You don’t seem the type to entertain a conversation with those you don’t find interesting.”

GM: “No. No, I’m not.”

It’s unclear which of Victoria’s statements that answers.

“What’s more important to you: your friend or knowing how deep the rabbit hole goes? If I made you choose.”

She leans closer to Victoria, over the chair’s edge, her face inches from the brunette’s.

Victoria: Her lip quivers.

The answer isn’t easy.

“I love her,” she answers meekly, as if the question provides only the illusion of choice.

“I can’t not choose her—and if I choose her, you’ll have to kill me now, because when I see her, I won’t stop until you have.”

She knows she won’t win the eventual attempt.

“You’ll make me choose?”

Please, don’t make me choose.

GM: “Are you asking me to choose?”

That seems to intrigue her.

“Kill Anna to save you? Kill you to save her? You’re a creature of such wild passions that you couldn’t bear what happened to her if you had to look upon her again?”

Victoria: She sniffs back a well of snot.

“I’m saying there isn’t a choice, because I will choose my family every time. I am loyal to those I love—until death. I could be loyal to you, too. If you spare her. If you help save her. I’m still yours—no matter what.”

“Unbind me. I’ll show you.”

GM: That brings a bittersweet smile to the monstrous woman’s face.

“I suppose you’ve made your choice, then.”

She stares for a moment, then the hand on Victoria’s face slides back to grab her by the back of the head. The woman pulls Victoria’s lips to hers.

The lips part and an ice cold tongue snakes past Victoria’s lips. But it doesn’t matter how cold the woman is. It doesn’t matter how monstrous she is. Because it feels so. Damn. Good.

There’s a thrill of pleasure that steals Victoria’s breath, and a taste on that tongue that is indescribable. Crisper than the crispest cocktails. Sweeter than the sweetest desert. It’s better than any drug.

Victoria’s heard heroin addicts talk about their first hit. The first taste. The first time. How nothing is ever as good as the first time, but you can’t help but chase it all the same. Chase it to the ruin of everything for the vain hope of recapturing that moment. She can believe it in this instant.

Victoria: She opens her mouth to answer—an acknowledgment, never given life.

The moment her lips part, that tongue coils behind her teeth, and in that moment: bliss. Sylvia St. George—thanks to her mother, and then her girlfriend—never fell hard into drugs.


This makes up for it. This is the hit of everything she’s ever wanted, and everything she’s ever wanted to avoid. Her tongue is a vile slug, and the sweetest delicacy.

She resists, at first, her neck arching against that iron grip, her bleeding wrists struggling against her bindings, and then…

Why? Why try? Why does it matter?

Hungrily, she returns the kiss, her lips gyrating against her torturers, her own tongue wrapping that acrid angel as if she thinks she can hold it inside her.

She wonders what that tongue would feel like elsewhere. Her neck. Her belly. Lower.

A grunt passes her lips.

GM: The woman’s own kiss is eager, active. She pulls Sylvia to her, ebbing and flowing.

How long does it last? It doesn’t really matter, does it? It ends, and it’s like the setting of the sun. She wants to cry like she hasn’t since she was a small child.

The blonde withdraws.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Wolf,” she says, that bittersweet smile tugging at the corners of her lips.

“I’m afraid that I’m going to give you what you asked for.”

“I hope it’s what you wanted.”

One hand strokes the side of Victoria’s head.

“Let’s start with that name you wanted…”

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Previous, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria VII
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Story Fourteen, Victoria VII

“Nothing you are is hidden from God. He sees you. He knows your crime.
Adam Malveaux

Wednesday morning, 5 April 2016

GM: The couple’s rest is troubled. Sylvia dreams of falling down a dark pit, never reaching the bottom. Anna looks tired and says she didn’t sleep well. Breakfast is a simple affair of eggs and toast.

Anna says she wants to come to mass. She doesn’t trust Jordan to be alone with Sylvia.

She feels scared to be alone herself, too.

Victoria: Sylvia shakes her head.

“Not this time. Keep the gun nearby. Don’t answer the door. Okay? I’ll be back soon.”

Jordan isn’t going to keep his cool. Not this time. She doesn’t trust him.

GM: Anna doesn’t look thrilled by that answer.

“I feel like we’d both be safer together. Why not?”

Victoria: Sylvia doesn’t look thrilled by that answer, either. Anna also isn’t wrong.

Unless they come for her while separate?

“Okay, fine, but you’ll need to take a separate pew so you don’t scare him away. Fair?”

GM: “Because I’m such a scary-looking person,” says the four-inches-shorter ex-teacher. The amusement in her words is faint.

“But, okay. I’ll take that as a win.”

Victoria: Can you bring a gun into a church…?

It’s probably a good idea.

It’s also probably a bad idea.

“Don’t be scared.”

GM: Anna tries to smile.

She only partly succeeds.

Wednesday morning, 6 April 2016

GM: Jordan looks shabby when Victoria picks him up. He hasn’t shaved. He looks like he’s either barely slept, or slept terribly. He wears casual clothes and doesn’t fasten his belt right. He assents to come along, but doesn’t initiate conversation. Just stares out the window with a hopeless look on his face.

Victoria arrives at St. Louis Cathedral around the same time as Anna. It’s fuller, this time. Not packed to capacity, but pews have at least one person sitting there.

Anna sits within sight of her, but doesn’t approach.

Jordan looks miserable and mumbles about going to Hell.

Victoria: Victoria pats him on the back, reassuring him. She reassured him the entire way to church. Every last Hell was countered by a Heaven.

She sits beside him, taking his hand, and turns to listen to the speaker.

GM: None of them seem to so much as make a dent on Jordan.

People dip their fingers in holy water and anoint and cross themselves. People who pass the tabernacle genuflect to it. People who pass the altar bow. Everyone who’s not praying talks in a whisper. Some people kneel. The pews have padded kneelers to make that less uncomfortable.

The mass starts when a hush falls over the congregation as the priest and servers walk slowly to the altar. Everyone stands.

Victoria gets a good look at the priest.

He’s a tall man in his early 30s with slim, almost gaunt features, somber gray eyes, and ash-brown hair. He’s dressed in a priest’s liturgical vestments.

It’s Adam.

Jordan’s face drains of all color.

Victoria: Their target.



In the room.

Her and Jordan side by side.


She no longer knows Jordan, but he doesn’t know that yet. No, for now, she simply follows the expected procedure: kneel, pray, pray, kneel, sing, kneel, pray, sing.

GM: Adam and the servers bow to the altar, and then take their spots. Adam goes behind the altar and kisses it. He turns to the congregation and says,

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

“Amen,” answers the congregation.

Jordan doesn’t even get out that much. He stares ahead, frozen. Like a deer in headlights.

“The Lord be with you,” says Adam.

“And also with you,” answers the congregation.

Jordan doesn’t answer. Doesn’t move his mouth.

His face is turning red. Victoria can already smell the perspiration trickling down his body.

Victoria: Coolly, she squeezes Jordan’s hand.

“And also with you,” she murmurs, perhaps a little louder than her other neighbor.

Come on, Jordan…

He can’t hear her thoughts, but he can see her expression, if he looks.

GM: Jordan flinches at the contact as though struck. Several nearby people stare. Jordan stares down at Victoria’s hand. His eyes are hug and bloodshot. Victoria has to wonder if her fingers ends in claws or rotting digits from the way he’s staring at it. She can practically hear his heart hammering in his chest.

Victoria: She drops the contact as soon as he flinches. Her motion is fluid, as if her hand is a drop of rain sliding from his to whatever lays below.

Her eyes lock forward to Adam, intending to shirk what awkwardness was created by his sudden jerk.

GM: Adam continues:

“As we prepare to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s love,
let us acknowledge our failures
and ask the Lord for pardon and strength.”

The congregation bows their heads.

Jordan does not. He stares straight ahead. Frozen. Unblinking. Red-faced and sweating effusively as his jaw dumbly works. Whispers sound from behind him.

Adam continues,

“I confess to Almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault-”

He’s cut off by a scream.

It comes out almost like a fart. Jordan stares ahead, petrified. Then he opens his mouth and just lets it rip. Almost involuntarily:


As one, the eyes of the entire church fall upon the man next to Victoria.

Victoria: Victoria refocuses on Adam Malveaux, listening to the sermon. He gets no further than six lines in, when it happens.

The scream beside her sends Victoria halfway to the ceiling. She falls to the side in fright, stumbling into another congregant, but manages to catch herself on the pew in front of her.

She regards Jordan with a mask of confused irritations and restrained rage.

Really?! Here and now?!

GM: Jordan looks as if he’s been struck by lightning.

He looks as if he wants the floor to part and swallow him whole.

He looks as if he could melt into a puddle.

He clamps his eyes shut and clutches his head.

He’s still screaming.

Then, he bolts upright. He all but knocks over Victoria and the man on his left in his haste to get away. To flee this house of God and the evidence of his sin. His foostamps pound against the floor as he barrels through the double doors, sobbing and screaming with his face in his hands,


The congregation’s silence is deafening.

Victoria: For once in her life, she doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t know what to say. She has no answers, and she’s only thankful that Anna isn’t right next to her for this horrible bout of shame.

GM: Anna might not be right next to her.

But her girlfriend is still staring right at her with a ‘what the everloving fuck’ expression.

Victoria: She doesn’t see Anna. She feigns as much surprise as everyone else.

GM: Silence reigns over the church.

Adam turns to one of the servers and murmurs something. Both of them make haste after Jordan.

“Sin may weigh upon this man’s mind,” he addresses the congregation.

“I apologize for the disturbance he caused. Does anyone here know his name? I would see him given help.”

GM: No one knows it, or at least volunteers it.

Adam says a few words on the man obviously suffering and deserving compassion, with a few insinuations that he may be mentally ill, then continues the sermon.

“I confess to Almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God…”

Wednesday afternoon, 6 April 2016

GM: Mass concludes some time later. Anna relocates next to Sylvia throughout and whispers to her, “Promise me you’re done with him, okay?”

The congregation rises and starts to disperse.

Victoria: “Eternally and forever.”

But not before she’s sure that he won’t be bringing the police to her door. She gestures Anna to the door.

GM: Anna gladly follows after her.

“Excuse me,” calls a man’s voice from behind Victoria.

It’s Adam.

Victoria: Her expression softens as she realizes who it is addressing her.

“I’m so, so very sorry for what happened, Father… Truthfully, I thought a day with the Lord would do him some good.”

GM: “Perhaps he would find a less public confession preferable,” says Adam. “Or mental health services. May I ask his name?”

Victoria: She smiles a soft smile.

“I’d rather leave his name with him. I’ll get him the help he needs. Clearly, I am not it.”

GM: “May I ask what you were to him?” Adam inquires.

Victoria: “A paid service who came to care a little bit too much for her clientele.”

GM: “It is valuable to maintain professional boundaries, but there are worse sins than caring deeply,” says the priest.

“I am Father Adam. I do not believe I’ve seen you before.”

Victoria: She shakes her head.

“Religion and I have a tenuous relationship. It’s something I’d like to explore more deeply again.”

Her eyes shift toward the door.

“…perhaps ever more so after that.

GM: “Would you like to take confession?” Adam asks.

Victoria: I would like a drink.

“I’d love one.”

GM: “This way.”

He takes her to the same confession booth she was in yesterday. Anna says she’ll wait.

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen,” says Adam, making the sign of the cross.

“How long has it been since your last confession?”

Victoria: “Yesterday, actually.”

She doesn’t even have to lie. She does, however, have to quell her heart. She’s making a confession to the man she had drugged and ruined.

GM: “That is very soon,” says Adam. “Has something significant occured in your life since yesterday?”

Victoria: You asked if I’d like one!

“No, I suppose not, but it feels prudent to make a confession when offered.”

A pause passes.

“Father, do you yourself give confession at times?”

GM: “You mean do I take confession?” says the priest. “Yes. Even the pope has a confessor.”

“Priests are men. Men are fallible. Men sin.”

Victoria: That they are.

“I see.”

She breathes a sigh.

“I’m sorry about him. I didn’t think he’d lose his mind like that.”

GM: “His actions were his own.”

Victoria: She holds a pause there.

Not entirely…

“They were. He’ll get the help he needs.”

GM: “Good. What else has happened in your life since your last confession?”

Victoria: “What else? It was yesterday.”

She rests her head against the wooden grate dividing them.

“Save his moment of insanity, and a few before that, nothing at all. I’d hoped being in a divine house would help him see how safe he is in God’s light.”

GM: “He has only to fear what he brings with him,” answers Adam.

Victoria: “The logician in me wonders if you’re referring to me with that,” she muses.

GM: “I am,” answers the priest.

“Tell me of your relationship with this man. You spoke of it being transactional. His actions have touched you powerfully for you to bring him here.”

Victoria: She lofts a brow, though he can’t see it. The hair on the beck of her neck creeps upward.

“I consider some of my clients worthy of more than services provided, and I have a bleeding heart. Would you not go out of your way for some of your flock?”

GM: “It depends,” says Adam. “All professions maintain professional boundaries.”

“A priest, for example, will do many things for members of his flock. He may be present for weddings, funerals, end of life care, and other emotionally intimate moments of their lives. But there are many things he will not do, such as seeing a congregant outside of formally structured settings, making inappropriate jokes or innuendos, or reporting crimes he believes deserving of punishment to the authorities.”

Victoria: “I suppose I break my boundaries more easily than most when a wounded heart is in need. He… Is most certainly in need of something more than I can provide.”

GM: “What do you typically provide him?”

Victoria: There’s a long pause.

“That’s personal to him. No, I’m not an escort.”


GM: “I do not ask to know the personal details of the services you provide him, only the general nature of the service your occupation engages in.”

“If you are a therapist, for example, my advice and penance may different than if you are a fitness trainer.”

Victoria: “I help my clients live fantasies, whatever that may mean, beyond the bounds of the law.”

GM: “You are not the first sex worker to have taken confession here,” Adam answers calmly.

“There is a saying by G.K. Chesterton. When a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is really knocking for God.”

Victoria: “Why would the man be knocking for God?”

GM: "The saying is meant to explain that the fundamental orientation of the human heart is to seek God and the peace, meaning, and truth that only He can bring; the God-shaped hole we are all created with. When we chase after anything else—women, romance, riches, power, position, knowledge—we do so seeking God, even if we do not realize it. "

Victoria: “How do the two connect?”

“I don’t follow.”

GM: “When a man literally or figuratively knocks upon the door of a brothel, he is doing so because he is missing something from his life. He seeks to fill an emptiness.”

“Almost any human desire can be explained within these terms. They are part of the hunger that God put in our hearts. His plan was for those godly longings to be fully satisfied through an eternally transcendent relationship with Him. Adam and Eve doubted Him when they tasted the forbidden fruit, and chose the curse mankind lives with: a core longing that will never be fully satisfied on earth.”

Victoria: His words provoke enough thought that she falls silent for a time.

He’s not wrong, and Sylvia knows it. Everything they are, and everything they’ll ever be—every absence, and every savored feeling—is by the will of God. Her own desires. Anna. Jordan. Adam.

She wonders if some deep corner of his soul enjoyed her gift to him.

“Are demons real?”

GM: Perhaps he’s spoken of what happened in his own confessions.


Victoria: “I don’t mean metaphors for sin. Real demons. Claws in the night.”

GM: “Yes,” repeats the priest.

Victoria: “…explain?”

GM: “What do you wish me to explain?”

Victoria: “How are they real? Where are they? How are they not more widely known, if they are real? My friend—client—he clamors on and on about demons and going to hell. It’s why I brought him here. To show him that he’s in God’s good grace.”

Panic enters her words the more she spills. She’s like a leaking pipe, bursting the more flows through her.

GM: “How is anything extraordinary real?” counters Adam. “You know enough of them to ask about them, so I would contend they are well-known. They reside in Hell.”

“Why does your client believe he is going to Hell? What has he done to earn damnation? I know he has done something terrible, and there can be no absolution without confession.”

“For him,” whispers the priest.

“Or for you.”

The confessional is dark and claustrophobic. Jordan’s screams ring her memory. The terror in his eyes. The sickly smile, as he spoke of the demon that knows who Victoria is.

Hell feels all-too real.

All-too near.

Victoria: She shudders at the oppressive sensation. She recalls reading a play in her youth.

Hell is other people.

It isn’t, though, is it? Hell can have other people, but this? This all-encompassing claustrophobia, and the unspoken promise of an eternity? That is Hell.

She shakes it off.

“He believes demons are coming for him. Hence the visit to Church. I gave my confession yesterday.”

He knows.

She knows he knows.

He knows she knows he knows.

It goes round her mind, over and over like some macabre merry go round.

Should she apologize? Beg for forgiveness?

No. He can’t know.

GM: The dark confessional carries no assurances.

Nor does its other occupant.

“Perhaps something has happened since your last confession,” the priest intones gravely. “Much can happen in a day.”

“Or perhaps you did not confess everything.”

Can he know?

Does he know?

“Normal people do not believe that demons are coming from them. Normal people do not scream in public that they are going to Hell. Normal escorts do not take their clients to church and ask the priest if demons are real.”

The priest’s voice is a whisper.

“You have not admitted your sins. You have not taken true confession. Until you do, I cannot grant you absolution, and all the Holy Mother Church’s power cannot help you.”

Victoria: He must know. He has to know.

Her heart plays its own staccato beneath her chest.

“No, normal people don’t. I’m not normal. Normal escorts—of which I am not one—do hide their clients name. I was raised in God’s house. We’re warned of demons, but only ever the metaphorical variety.”

A pause.

It’s a weak defense.

“Is there something you want to say, Father?”

GM: The priest does not address her defense.

He does not address her question.

Instead, he replies, his voice as heavy as the cathedral’s organ:

“Is there something you want to say? This is your confession.”

Victoria: The weight of his voice is crushing. She almost can’t draw a breath to answer.

“We all are sinners, Father.”

GM: The priest only waits patiently, allowing the silence to stretch his words like a rubber band.

This is her confession.

Victoria: The weight crushes her against her seat. It feels smaller. Is the confessional shrinking?

No. She can’t admit it. There’s no way he knows!

But he does, doesn’t he? She knows it already. She already told Anna to be wary.

“You’re being r-rather intense, aren’t you?”

GM: The priest’s answering words ring out hard and sharp, like raps against a metal pipe.

“Am I unwarranted in being so?”

Victoria: Sylvia shudders.

“Are you always so?”

GM: Adam does not answer.

But he speaks.

Rap, rap, rap goes the metal pipe.

Harder. Louder. Closer.

“Enough. This is your confession, and your soul we are here to speak of.”

“Will you confess and make right your actions, or shall you persist in a state of sin?”

The priest’s eyes cut past the grill, straight into hers. They are pitiless and blaze with fervor.

“The choice is yours, but know this: nothing you are is hidden from God. He sees you. He knows your crime. As do the servants of _Satan!”_

The last word is all but spat.

Victoria: She relents.


She’s gelatin against the seat, and her voice reflects it.

“I’m too much a sinner to be forgiven.”

GM: “Perhaps,” is the priest’s sole answer.

Victoria: “I’m sorry,” she says after a moment. She means it.

GM: “Speak,” commands the priest. “Words not said are heard by God alone. What are you sorry for?”

Victoria: His answer is the door to the confessional closing and the click of her shoes on marble floors.

Wednesday afternoon, 6 April 2016

GM: The drive home is lonely. It’s just Victoria. She and Anna took separate cars, after all.

“Nothing to do with that guy again?” her girlfriend repeats when they’re home, as if to make sure.

Victoria: “Nothing to do with that guy,” she answers. Her heart still hasn’t fully relaxed.

She’s’ confident that she won’t see Jordan again.

She’s wondering if she’ll ever see Anna gain.

GM: “So,” she sighs.

She lets that hang for a moment.

“What’s going on, Sylvia?”

“Why were you involved with that guy?”

“Why did you keep saying something terrible was going to happen?”

Victoria: Because something terrible is going to happen.

“Because I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Even the priest was… Was weird. Intense.”

GM: Anna gives her a frustrated look.

Victoria: She sets her hands to Anna’s hips, trying to reassure her.

GM: “You talked to me about a GUN, earlier. You said something bad was going to happen, and you had no idea what.”

“You said you’d committed a crime, but you wouldn’t tell me what or talk to a lawyer.”

“You go see this guy in the middle of the night, who beats you bloody, and then take him to church and he goes insane in public.”

Anna throws up her hands.

“I can’t do this. I just can’t.”

“Something has to change.”

“This can’t go on the way it is. I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel you’re safe.”

Victoria: Sylvia feels her heart climb into her throat.

There’s so much she wants to say. There’s even more that she can’t say. To protect Anna. Her body. Her life. Her innocence.

“I’m… sorry. I’ll make it safe.”

She always makes it safe, doesn’t she?

…doesn’t she?

Anna probably doesn’t believe her this time.

“I’m scared,” she says, her voice cracking.

GM: Anna reaches up to cup Sylvia’s cheek against her palm.

She looks scared, too. At her wits’ end.

But her voice is soft as she answers,

“I’m here.”

“You don’t have to do this alone.”

Victoria: She crushes Anna to her, silently tearing up against her hair.

“I know. I know.”

GM: Madmen screaming about demons.

Too-intense, too-knowing priests.

The Malveaux family.


She might be up against all of that and more.

Her and the woman silently returning her crushing embrace.

Victoria: “Do you believe in demons, Anna?”

Has she asked her that before? She doesn’t remember.

She’s asked a fair few people that lately.

Does she believe now, too?

GM: “I believe that your client believed in demons,” says Anna, stroking her back.

“I also believe he’s crazy.”

Victoria: “Believes. He’s not dead.”


She half expects to see that on the news. Then again, they won’t let his death be known. Will they?

GM: “Believes. Okay. Why do you ask?”

Victoria: “I am… Starting to believe the same. More than the metaphors. Something… Happened in the confessional.”

She shudders.

“I… I don’t know, Anna. I don’t know what to believe anymore.”

GM: “Does it matter?” asks Anna. “Does it really matter, whether demons are real, against everything else?”

Victoria: She shrugs.

“Doesn’t it? If they want him. If they want me.”

If they’ll take her as collateral.

GM: “If who wants him? Demons?”

Victoria: She simply nods.

As if it’s the most sensible thing in the world.

GM: Anna gives Sylvia a long look.

It’s not a confident one.

It’s not a believing one.

It looks like she thinks things got even worse.

It looks like one that precedes crying.

Victoria: “…but that’d be crazy!”


Faster than sound.

Is she crazy?

GM: “Sylvia, this… this _isn’t helping!”_ Anna exclaims. There’s half a sob to her voice.

“I said this can’t go on, the way it is, and you’re not… you’re not listening! You’re talking about demons! This makes me MORE scared for us, not LESS!”

Victoria: All the kinks whoreses and all the kinks men couldn’t put Sylvia together again.

“O-okay! I’m sorry.”

She takes a breath.

“How can I help you?”

GM: “It’s not me, it’s US!” Anna exclaims. “I’m scared for YOU!”

“And I’ve been telling you! To just… the crazy stuff, the talk about demons, seeing this nutjob client and saying we’re in danger, it HAS to stop! And why, why, do you keep saying we’re in danger?! And, and you NEED to see a lawyer about… whatever this crime is, that you won’t even tell me! I mean, do you n-not trust m-me, or w-what?!”

Anna’s trying to hold in the tears, but they’re coming out like water from a leaky faucet.

Victoria: Nothing makes Sylvia St. George fall apart faster than her partner trying—and failing—to hold in tears.

She holds her, rubbing her back, and allowing her to speak her mind.

There’s no escape. Is there?

She relents.

“Okay. I will tell you.”

There’s no promise made. No swear. No condition.

GM: Anna sniffs, wipes her eyes, and nods. She sits down on the couch next to Sylvia.

Victoria: Where to begin…

The truth.

“I had a Malveaux priest framed with prostitutes and drugs in revenge for what happened to you and Amelie. My ‘friend’ is my link to those who executed the plan. He came back changed.”

GM: Anna blinks.

“Wh… why?”

“A priest didn’t do anything to me. Or Amelie!”

Victoria: She spits venom that could etch steel, “Because family is all that matters.”

But which family?

GM: “But. But a priest didn’t do anything to me!” Anna repeats. She looks genuinely confused.

“Or the Malveauxes?”

Victoria: She shakes her head.

“I don’t want you to know more than you have to know. Okay? Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. It doesn’t make sense—but it’s the only language they know. They have to know they can’t get away with what they did.”

GM: “But they didn’t do anything,” Anna repeats. “Sylvia, I just—I don’t get it! I was fired by McGehee, after the Devillers and Whitney girls got shot.”

Victoria: “Yes, after! You okayed their trip! Or so the Malveauxes and other families believe. You’re the scapegoat. I won’t stand for that!”

GM: “But the Malveaxes don’t, they don’t have anything to do with…” Anna’s face furrows as she trails off. “What happened to the priest? Did he get fired? Arrested? Is he okay?”

Victoria: “They do! Anna, they really do.”

She breathes a sigh.

“He is fine. Somehow. He wasn’t harmed; but, I think he knows.”

No, she knows that he knows.

GM: “Okay, well, I’m glad he’s fine. I’m glad you didn’t seriously hurt anyone for me. I don’t want revenge, I don’t want anyone getting hurt, I just want to be a teacher again next fall.”

“And if he knows you framed him with drugs and prostitutes, you need to talk to a lawyer. Like, right now. I don’t want you going to jail!”

Victoria: “There’s no way he can know. There’s no link! Not one. Not a single one.”

Is there?

“It will be fine, Anna.”

GM: “It hasn’t been fine!” Anna exclaims. “Just yesterday you were asking if I knew how to shoot, and saying we were in danger! That’s… that’s not fine!”

“Why don’t you want to talk to a lawyer? Why do you keep blowing me off? I seriously don’t get it!”

Victoria: She takes Anna’s face in her hands.

“Anna. Anna May Perry. I have never and will never blow you off. I just… I want to handle this! Okay? It’s all under control. It will be under control.”

GM: Anna gives a sniff.

“Sylvia, I want that. I want you to just take control and make everything go back to normal. But I don’t feel like it’s under control. I’ve been scared, and confused, and I don’t feel like I know anything. How are you handling this? How is it under control?”

Victoria: She glances away.

No answer.

For once, Sylvia has no answer.

GM: Silence stretches for a moment.

“Lawyer,” Anna firmly repeats, placing her hands on Sylvia’s shoulders.

Victoria: She relents, raising her hands in surrender.

“Lawyer. I’ll get one from a friend.”

And so she texts Christina.

Free for lunch?

Their code.

GM: Sure. Tomorrow?

Victoria: Today, if possible. I miss you.

Shit: meet fan.

GM: How much? I have something going on.

Victoria: I’ll live until tomorrow.

She hopes.

GM: Christina texts her a time and restaurant.

“Taken care of?” Anna asks when Sylvia puts her phone away.

Victoria: She slips her phone away.

“It will be. Tomorrow.”

GM: “Okay,” says Anna. “Thank you.”

“I don’t want you to go to prison.”

Victoria: She hugs her girlfriend again.

“I won’t. Promise.”

GM: Anna hugs her tenderly back.

Then she murmurs in Sylvia’s ear,

“Can we have hot makeup sex, please?”

She adds after a moment, “Or. I guess worry-free sex. Since we weren’t really fighting.”

“But that sounds kind of PG.”

Victoria: “Aggressive teacher-punishing-student sex?”

GM: “That’ll be a treat for after you’ve seen the lawyer,” Anna declares officiously.

Victoria: Sylvia groans.

Then, she slaps Anna’s ass.

GM: Anna yelps.

“What, are you gonna punish me into punishing you?” she teases, rubbing her rear.

Victoria: She does punish her. She punishes Anna in the worst possible way: the promise of heaven, followed by unrequited climax.

Poor Anna.

At least someone got theirs that night.

Wednesday evening, 6 April 2016

GM: Anna might grouse and whine and beg over Sylvia not finishing her, but she continues to be a good secretary. She says that Victoria has a client early this evening, and a dinner scheduled with Émelise to talk about property things. Money things. “Still think it’s weird she referred you to a dead guy,” Anna remarks.

Victoria: Property things. Business things. Money things. Things that bore Anna. Boring Anna makes Anna not want to know.

“Little bit, yeah,” she answers, stepping out the door.


GM: The client is a 40something man who looks like a working professional. He wants some fairly typical spanking, physical bondage, and shoe worship. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, relative to other requests, besides some extra concealer to hide her bruises. Victoria may be thankful for that.

Victoria: Victoria hardly remembers the client. He doesn’t stand out. Most don’t.

GM: She may be less thankful to feel like she’s being followed.

She first sees the car in her rear view mirror during the drive to her dungeon. It’s a black car with tinted windows. She can’t see who’s in it. The car is gone by the time she reaches her dungeon. It’s there again during the drive to Leblanc’s, though, and gone after she parks.

Victoria: Victoria hardly remembers the client. He doesn’t stand out. Most don’t.

Irritable and fatigued, Victoria returns to her car, settling into the dreamlike backdrop the world takes while driving. Until she sees the car behind her. She fights that little demon of paranoia in her head, trying—and failing—to quell that fear bubbling up inside her.

A few turns cement the fact: she’s being followed.

She swallows.

GM: Émelise meets her at the bar, says hello with a rather intimate-feeling kiss on the cheek, and asks how she’s been doing.

Victoria: When Emelise arrives, Victoria is already settled into a stool, quivering like a leaf. Despite faux-warmth returned in a kiss to her cheek, Emelise can see through it.

“It’s been hard, but…”

She sounds like a child who got their hand caught in a cookie jar.

She sighs, shaking her head.

“We’re all living, aren’t we?”

She shrugs.

GM: Émelise smiles at her.

“Until we stop.”

“Living’s a rigged game.”

“Same ending whether it’s easy or hard, mm?”

Victoria: Until we stop, indeed.

She relents against the last vestige of composure in her fragile poise.

“Mistress, I think… I’m being followed.”

GM: “Oh, by who?”

Victoria: “If I knew that, I probably wouldn’t be shaking.”

A pause.

“They were behind me today. Twice. Once just before this.”

GM: “Oh, dear. If you don’t know, who do you think has motive? Recently upset client?”

Victoria: “Something like that,” she shrugs, sipping her whiskey. “They don’t seem to want to approach me—just keep tabs.”

GM: So does the other domme.

“You seem fairly rattled by it. As a precursor to something else?”

Victoria: “Following is ever a precursor to something else, old friend.”

GM: “All too true.”

Victoria: The fear permeates her. She doesn’t like Émelise seeing her fear.

There’s no reeling it in.

“But we’re not here to discuss my murder tonight.”

GM: Émelise laughs.

“You can hardly expect us not to after remarking a thing like that. Tell me more! This doesn’t sound like garden variety stalking if you’re going to end the night as a corpse?”

Victoria: “Can we ever tell whether or not we’re going to end the night as a corpse?”

More shrugs. More sips.

“I don’t know. I think I’ve pissed someone off.”


GM: Émelise smiles back.

“Yes. But forewarned isn’t always forearmed.”

She sips her own drink.

“Been a bad girl, mmm? No chance of smoothing things over?”

Victoria: “Do I seem like the sort of girl that does things that leave people smoothable?”

GM: “You’d be surprised what’s smoothable with a little creativity.”

Victoria: “I’m sure—one day—you’ll imbue me with but a sliver of your divine creativity, Mistress.”

GM: “Do you want my help with this, or to solve it yourself?” asks Émelise.

Victoria: She lofts a brow, regarding Émelise with mildly cautious appraisal.

“Are you offering pro bono?”

GM: Émelise taps the side of her glass in thought. “I’m offering. Pro bono depends on what help would look like.”

She smiles.

“But you can have a kiss for luck pro bono, either way.”

Victoria: She always knows how to make Victoria smirk with a blush.

“Let’s hear your thoughts.”

GM: “I need something to work with. Let’s hear the situation.”

Victoria: “I hired a grumpy man to make some other people even grumpier, as they made people close to me grumpier yet. The made-grumpy one seems to know what happened, and intends to make me the grumpiest yet.”

A pause.

“At least, that’s the only reason I can come to believe I’m being followed.”

GM: Émelise laughs. “That’s a lot euphemisms, but I suppose I get the gist. I don’t believe in coincidence either, so it’s probably a safe bet that you’re being followed by the made-grumpy person. Or at his behest. What do you think would get him off your back?”

Victoria: “Aside from me dying or—somehow—paying back the damage I’ve done?”

GM: Émelise smiles and sips her drink. “If those aren’t outcomes you’d be happy with.”

Victoria: “Would you be happy with them?”

GM: “Dying, only if it was on my terms. Paying back, potentially, if the cost was less than resolving the problem another way.”

Victoria: She looks at Émelise as if she sprouted a penis from her ear.

“In what way is dying desirable?”

GM: “Who said it was? But everyone has to. I can’t decide if, but I can try to decide how.”

Victoria: She shudders. That doesn’t sound like the option she wants.

“And if I’d rather they stop following me…?”

GM: The smile starts to fade from Émelise’s eyes.

“You’re talking like a victim, lovely. Where’s that vicious domme who gave Greg the biggest regret of his life?”

Victoria: She offers a meek smile in return.

“These fish are bigger than the bigger fish. I know my limits. Even if I’ll fight like that if they catch me.”

GM: “Maybe then you’ll find out your real limits. The woman who most impressed me tried to turn a gangbang around on half a dozen or so rapists.”

Victoria: “Which woman is this?”

GM: Émelise waves a hand. “Not important. She failed, but through no fault of her own. The effort showed remarkable spunk and initiative.”

Victoria: She shudders.

“All right, then. You piss off the wealth of the city. What do you do? I’m not apologizing. The destroyed people close to me.”

GM: “Then if you’re not backing down, I suppose your only option is to square off.”

Victoria: “You think I should walk out and confront them?” she asks, lofting a brow.

GM: “You tell me. You’ve ruled out saying sorry.”

Victoria: “Got a gun?”

“Or a knife. Or security.”

GM: “A gun and knife, yes.”

Victoria: She offers a hand.

GM: “I’m not carrying them,” laughs Émelise, who snaps her fingers at a server and whispers into the woman’s ear. The pair get taken to a table. There’s a short wait before another server hands them menus, along with a purse-sized box that deposits on the table with a heavy clunk.

Victoria: She follows Émelise, unsurprised that she has the wait staff at beck and call.

The box, however, surprises her.

“Do you dine on lead?”

GM: “If I’m peckish enough,” the woman smiles, unfolding her menu.

Victoria: She reaches to open the box.

GM: There’s a handgun inside, along with a black-handled vicious-looking knife that’s either a high-quality BDSM toy or combat knife. Or both.

Victoria: Probably both.


She doesn’t even need to ask. She picks it up, testing the weight.

GM: It’s on the slightly smaller side, but weighs like it’s metal rather than plastic.


Victoria: “I’ll pay you back. If I can.”

It’s not a question of finances.

This is a terrible idea.

“What do you recommend? To eat.”

GM: “The jambalaya is heavenly,” says Émelise.

Victoria: “Jambalaya it is,” she assents.

Wednesday night, 6 April 2016, PM

GM: “For luck,” Émelise says after the server clears away their plates, and then Victoria feels the other woman’s lips against hers. The kiss is an odd melange of hot and sensual, passionate and subdued, but Victoria has only a moment to savor it before Émelise’s tongue hungrily invades her mouth. There’s a sudden stab of pain as the other domme bites down. Hard. Victoria tastes blood, and then the lips against hers are nothing but gentle tenderness as Émelise strokes her cheek.

Victoria: The kiss enthralls her. She doesn’t expect the tongue—and even less so, the bite—but each elicits a subtle burble of a moan, her hand snaking into Émelise’s hair. Victoria Wolf is no stranger to pain, given or received.

“Watch, will you? So I know someone knows, if something happens.”

GM: “I love to watch,” smiles Émelise, her palm lingering against Victoria’s face.

Victoria: She kisses the woman’s palm, gentle as a breeze, and then stands.

“I know. You also love to participate—but this isn’t your fight.”

GM: “It is yours,” Emelie agrees.

Victoria: She turns on heel, takes the safety off the gun, pockets the knife—the gun, as well, until she’s out of the restaurant—and moves to wait by the front door, outside.

GM: It’s a balmy, humid April evening in the Quarter. A saxophonist plays before some tourists who toss change into his case. Pedestrians mull around the other restaurants and galleries.

Victoria sees no sign of the black-tinted car.

Victoria: She waits another five minutes.

GM: The saxophonist collects a few more bills and quarters.

The car does not appear.

Victoria: She slides into her car, and begins driving.

You ok?

GM: yeah, you? Anna texts back.

Victoria: yeah, just leaving dinner

She’ll have to explain her bleeding lip.

She checks the rear-view mirror.

GM: She sees a black car.

With tinted windows.

Victoria: And there it is. She continues driving, making her way generally toward her home, but using a different path, and coming no closer than a mile.

Then, she pulls over.

GM: She no longer sees the car in her rear view mirror.

Victoria: This time, she watches more closely as she pulls out.

GM: The car remains absent from her mirror.

Victoria: What the hell?

She continues driving.

GM: She arrives back home at 4018 Constance St. It’s built in the traditional New Orleans style: stairs leading up to a front porch on the second floor, the one intended for habitation, and a ground floor used as a basement. Many people have since converted those basements into apartments. They can be nice enough places to live, even if Sylvia and Anna have been talking about moving and buying a property once the business expands.

Anna’s visible through the window, watching TV on the couch in sweats and a tee as she waits for Sylvia.

Victoria: The whole way home, she watches for that car.

She doesn’t get out for a few minutes, and when she does, it’s with the gun in hand, safety off, ears almost swiveling.

GM: The neighborhood is silent and still.

Victoria: And then there were none.

She walks in side.

GM: Anna smiles when she sees Sylvia open the door, then sees the gun.

“Uh, what’s the story there?”

Victoria: “Practicing safe sex,” she says, giving her girlfriend a kiss and shutting the door before the police are called.

GM: Anna returns the kiss. It’s not an experience like Émelise’s was. But it’s familiar, pain-less, and there’s love behind it.

“Uh huhhh. Dad always said Responsible Gun Ownership 101 is treating even an empty gun as dangerous.”

Victoria: “Sure, sure. Guns are like people in that way. They’re always loaded until you’re sure that they’re not.”

She flicks the safety on.

GM: Firearms training taught that the responsible thing to then do is remove the ammunition and securely store gun and ammo in separate locations.

Anna’s eyes widen in alarm as the safety comes on.

“What happened?”

Victoria: “Nothing. And I’m making sure it stays that way,” she shrugs, setting the weapon on the counter.

It sits, cold and ominous for barely a few seconds, then she picks it up again.

GM: “No, it was something, if you turned off the safety,” says Anna.

Victoria: She shrugs again.

“It’s nothing, because the gun wasn’t fire. Just a bout of overabundant caution.”

GM: “That isn’t a Glock,” says Anna. The models they have. “That’s a different model.”

The scared look on her face deepens.

“Sylvia, what’s going on?”

Victoria: “I had dinner with a friend, and she offered me this for protection on the way home.”

Anna can see through her veils.

“I thought I was being followed.”

A pause.

“I think… I’m hallucinating.”

GM: Anna slowly gets up and holds out her hand.

“Hand me the gun, please.”

Victoria: She hands her the gun without pause.


Right. Hallucinating.

GM: “Because you turned off the safety and said you were seeing threatening things. That is an accident waiting to happen.”

Anna’s voice has a calm ‘dealing with this before any freaking out’ quality as she double-checks the safety, even though she saw Sylvia just do so, then detaches the magazine.

Victoria: Sylvia doesn’t mention the combat knife.

She’s sane enough for that.


“Right. You’re right. I’m sorry.”

GM: Anna leaves the room with the gun and magazine.

When she comes back, she’s empty-handed.

She sits down on the couch and looks up at Sylvia.

Then she starts softly crying.

Victoria: Sylvia pulls her into a gentle, loving hug, stroking her back.

“I’m so sorry,” she says, kissing her hair.

GM: “I’m scared,” Anna sniffs. “I’m scared.”

Victoria: “I know, I know. I know. But it’ll be okay. I promise.”

GM: “That’s w-what I thought until tonight,” Anna sniffs. “And it w-wasn’t.”

Victoria: She shivers.

“But it is! Isn’t it? I’m here. Nothing happened.”


GM: “This time!” Anna exclaims.

“My dad would be losing his mind! You could’ve shot someone!”

“You ALWAYS keep the safety on, until you intend to s-hoot! And NEVER if you’re impaired!”

Victoria: “Anna, I was ready to shoot someone!” she finally relents. “I was followed, all evening. I lost them a few miles away. I know about gun safety.”

GM: “No, you don’t!” retorts Anna, who’s still crying. “You said you were hallucinating, you brought it into the house! I don’t kn-know what’s worse, if you were expecting to shoot here, or if you d-didn’t!”

“Who was following you? Why were you hallucinating? What’s going on!?”

Victoria: Victoria grunts. Why can’t Anna be reasonable?

“I don’t know! That’s why I had the safety off—in case I was ambushed on the way in.”

GM: “That’s NOT gun safety!” Anna retorts. “Th-”

The pair are interrupted by the doorbell’s ring.

Victoria: “Go get the gun. Safety off.”

She snakes her hand behind her back, ready to draw a knife that would make crocodile wrestlers blush.

Then, she checks the curtain.

GM: Anna pauses for a moment, then dashes towards the bedroom.

GM: Victoria sees a woman. A rather attractive woman, around 6" tall with with blonde hair and blue eyes. She’s waiting patiently for the door to open.

She’s dressed professionally, in a black blazer over a white blouse, with her long hair tied back.

Victoria: She grips the knife, ready to draw and attack in one, swift motion, then opens the door a crack.

GM: The woman smiles at Victoria.

“Good evening, Ms. St. George?”

Victoria: “Speaking,” she nods, not opening the door further.

GM: “Ms. St. George, do you know a Mr. Jordan Ratcliff?” the woman asks.

Victoria: Lovely.

“May I ask who you are?” she asks, mirroring perplexity.

GM: The woman gives an unfriendly smile. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’, and a ‘you realize exactly why that relationship is something you shouldn’t admit to’ answer.”

“Mr. Ratcliff is in custody and I think you should follow my directions. Open the door-”

Suddenly, the woman shrieks and recoils. It’s one of the ghastliest sounds Victoria has heard, as though someone threw acid on her.

Victoria: Victoria gets as far as parting her lips to retort before the woman continues, and again before she nearly hits the ceiling with a shriek.

An instant passes that feels like an eternity. Shock passes her face. Then confusion. Alertness. Panic. She reaches out, trying to yank the woman inside and slam the door.

Whatever happened—and something happened—it’s coming from outside.

GM: The grabbed woman doesn’t resist as Victoria pulls her inside. Instead, with her left hand, she frees a pistol which she buries in Victoria’s chest as they tumble through the door.

“Try it. You’ll die first,” the woman snarls, in a voice scarcely less mangled than her earlier cry. Loathing and disgust well from her bulging eyes like overflow from some corpse-choked fetid river.

GM: “No, YOU will!” Anna snarls back. She rounds the counter with her Glock in her hands, aimed squarely at the woman threatening her girlfriend’s life.

Victoria: The action is instinct. As the woman’s arm whips around, Victoria continues the momentum, pushing her toward the door as she edges away. Her heart hammers in her ears.

Anna’s words barely register. Anna’s intent seats itself firmly.

Her fingers wrap the woman’s wrist, trying to keep the barrel of her weapon near the door.

“Who the fuck are you?!”

GM: “Someone who’s better,” the woman retorts with a cruel laugh.

Then she proves it.

Victoria crashes against her back, hard. She’s on the floor. She didn’t even see the kick that swept out her legs from under her. She fights the urge to retch, because she didn’t see the woman’s follow-up punch either, just feel it drive into her kidneys. Then another. And another.

She fights back. Even crying from the pain, tasting bile in her throat. She throws a punch. A pistol-whip. The woman bats aside Victoria’s blows as lazily as her instructors on that first day at GroundBorn. But even they never looked at Victoria like this. The woman’s blue eyes brim with that same poisonous cocktail of hatred, disgust, fury, and nausea. But Victoria can see something else in them, too.

She’s playing with her.

The dominatrix can tell when someone’s relishing control.

The woman’s white, perfectly manicured hands descend towards Victoria with a terrible finality. The last thing she can think is how they aren’t beautiful at all, but hideous. Like the legs of pale spiders.

Victoria futilely bucks and thrashes.

The woman suddenly shrieks and recoils. Her obscene hands withdraw. The pungent scent of smoke and cooking flesh fills Victoria’s nostrils. She feverishly scrambles free. The woman shoots her a look of hatred so black that she feels physically sick.

Victoria: She hardly constructs a thought in reply before the flurry of blows strikes her.

Her head whips around, seeking the second assailant before her mind connects: the woman was so quick, she hadn’t seen the sweep coming. Every block: dismantled. Every counter: thwarted before it’s given life. Seconds feel like hours, and by the end of it, she can hardly move, instead clustering her limbs around her face to—meekly—protect herself.

And then, nothing; nothing but the scent of smoke and her own blood.

“Shoot her again!”

GM: Anna’s Glock sails through the air and lands in the woman’s casually outstretched hand.

“I don’t think so,” she replies.

There’s another woman in the room. She looks Middle Eastern. In her 20s, maybe. She’s dressed in similar professional apparel. Victoria has no idea when she got in.

Anna’s standing across from the newcomer, dumbly staring at her empty hands. They’re still held in a shooter’s position.

“That was your second mistake this evening,” the woman says to Victoria. She produces a second sidearm, aiming one at Victoria and one at Anna. Smoke still wafts from one of her clenched hands.

“Now, here’s how things are going to go. Both of you are going to remove all phones, jewelry, and metal objects that you’re wearing, and place them on the floor. If you don’t, I will shoot your girlfriend in the throat.”

The safety on the gun pointed at Anna clicks off.

Victoria: Her mind spins. Her heart rages. Her body fails.

She snarls up at the woman, pushing herself to her feet and staggering backward against the wall in lost footing.

Victoria tenses, coiling to engage the woman again when she sees Anna’s weapon in a second woman’s hand. Back door?

She seizes at the threat, offering raised hands at her chest in surrender. It’s enough. She won’t fight back.

Victoria jerks her head toward a nearby table.

“In the bag.”

“…what was the first mistake?”

GM: “No,” the woman interrupts, leveling her second gun at Victoria. “You stay where you are. Everything goes on the floor. Now.”

“I’m not carrying anything!” exclaims Anna, whose face is white with fear. “These are my fucking pajamas!”

“Turn out your pockets,” says the woman.

Anna does so.

“Good enough,” says the woman. The gun trained on Anna doesn’t move.

Victoria: Okay then.

She removes her belt, her crucifix, and the knife from her waist, placing them at her feet, then takes a step away from them.

“Who the fuck are you?”

GM: “I answered you the first time, Ms. St. George,” the woman answers with a poisonous smile.

She motions with one of her guns.

“Face against the walls. Separate walls. Hands behind your backs. Both of you.”

Victoria: The glare Victoria shoots back could etch steel.

She complies, turning away, and setting her hands behind her back.

GM: The Middle Eastern woman gingerly picks up Victoria’s crucifix and pockets it. The woman watches with that same poisonous smile.

“Your first mistake was answering the door,” says the woman.

There’s a tight, plastic-y sensation against Victoria’s wrists as they’re tied firmly in place. Zip cuffs.

“Your second mistake was pulling me inside.”

Someone pulls a sack over Victoria’s head.

“Your third mistake,” she says, amused for seemingly the first time,

“Was giving up the crucifix. Because now I own you, body and mind.”

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Previous, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria VI
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Story Fourteen, Victoria VI

“I’m probably going nuts.”
Victoria Wolf

Tuesday morning, 5 April 2016

GM: Sylvia groggily wakes up. She thinks she hurts less than last night. That’s also not saying much, because she still hurts like a bitch. Anna’s still in bed with her, but is already awake and scrolling through her phone.

“Hey, sleepyhead,” she says with a tired smile, planting a soft kiss on Sylvia’s forehead.

The time is close to noon.

Victoria: Sylvia smiles at the kiss.

“Morning. Did last night really happen?”

It’s not the first time she said that.

GM: Anna’s smile turns sadder.

“This is the first time I’ve not wanted to say yes.”

Victoria: Her smile falters. She still feels like she laid down on a highway.

“What a fucking night…”

She checks her phone.

GM: Nothing from Jordan.

Victoria: She tosses it back to the nightstand, and sets out for a shower. Clothes. Covering wounds. Being pretty. Pretty enough. She can’t cover everything.


GM: Her soaked and dirty clothes are already removed. Maybe she took them off. Maybe it was Anna.

There’s no response to the text.

Victoria: She calls Jordan while she waits for the shower to heat.

GM: It rings to voicemail.

Victoria: He’s probably dead.


Hopefully he didn’t talk.

She opens a text to Christina.

Her fingers hover.

She closes it. No. No bringing in Christina without a solution.

She navigates to the Parish website. Do they list new prisoners?

GM: The closest is an inmate search field:

Victoria: She enters Jordan’s name.

GM: Jordan is not listed as an inmate at the prison.

Victoria: Hm.

Not jailed.

Hospitals won’t release that information.

Where the fuck is he?

GM: No answer is immediately forthcoming from Victoria’s Solaris.

Victoria: The shower gives her some clarity in thought. What the fuck is she going to do?

If you were a private detective, what would you do, Victoria?

Find the demon.

Five minutes later, she enters the kitchen guided by the scent of hot food.

“I’m going to church.”

She waits for Anna’s head to spin.

GM: She finds that Anna’s made breakfast by the time she gets out of the shower. Cheesy scrambled eggs, grapefruit, cinnamon toast. Doing the household cooking is her job, after all.

Anna’s head visibly spins.

“Did last night inspire a conversion?” she asks.

She may or may not be joking.

Victoria: “A conversion? No, I don’t think so. I need to understand what happened to him, and the only way I can do that is to retrace some semblance of his footsteps. I don’t know where the events took place, but this is close enough. For a start.”

A pause.

“That smells wonderful.”

GM: “Thanks,” smiles Anna. “So this is the church your client goes to…?”

“Uh. I mean, ex-client.”

Victoria: “Something like that.”

GM: “Don’t you think it’s a little inappropriate to show up to a client’s church or workplace…?”

“They probably want that as separate as possible.”

Victoria: “Nope,” she answers, popping a bite of toast into her mouth.

GM: Anna looks like she’s trying to suss whether Sylvia’s joking.

Victoria: “It’s one of those things, Anna. You’ll get the answers you need to get when it’s time.”

Nibble, nibble. Bite.

“…he was raving about demons all night. He visited someone close to a church. I want to see if there’s an obvious connection.”

GM: “Well, I said I’d trust you,” says Anna.

Victoria: “Mhmmmmn… and you’re doing so well at that,” she replies with the warmest of praise.

“It’s a church. What’s the worst that can happen?”

GM: “They fill your head with anti-gay talking points and you dump me and renounce being a dominatrix to become a, I don’t know, puppy veterinarian.”

Victoria: “Hardly, Anna, I’m much more likely to renounce my femininity, masquerade as a priest and fondle altar boys to bring me closer to God. You know, the traditional way.”

GM: “So you’d be a transgender pedophile priest?” muses Anna.

“I’m pretty sure there are some trans rights groups that’d want to give you a pass for that.”

Victoria: “I’d call it a middle ground,” she shrugs. “Love you, bye!”

She tosses a handful of scrambled eggs into her mouth, and begins lacing up her shoes.

GM: “Love you, too!”

Tuesday afternoon, 5 April 2016

GM: The interior of St. Louis Cathedral is cavernous enough for Victoria’s footsteps to audibly echo. Flags of nations from France to England to the United States hang from the ceiling, interspersed by the soft light of candlelit chandeliers. Tiny cherubs proffer basins of holy water beside gold-festooned pillars. Stained glass images of Christ and the Twelve Apostles serenely gaze down upon the Friday afternoon’s small congregation. Many of their heads are silently bowed in prayer. There are tourists too, but they are quiet as they take pictures. There is some quality endemic to cathedrals this vast and old that engenders a silence more total than any library’s.

Victoria: Victoria has as much respect for the sanctity of this building as she expects from the many who seek her services. Every deity should have respect in their own domain.

Plus, Mary would kill her if she was anything less.

She’s never been here—not that she can remember—despite her familiarity with church due to her adoptive mother. She wanders the hall for a time, another tourist among many.

GM: Her tranquility is interrupted by a text from Anna.

Hey you know how you were thinking about all those different lenders to approach? And the one named Simmons?

Sylvia may or may not have told her everything about the man that Émelise did.

Victoria: yeah?

GM: he’s been dead for weeks

just read a news story on it

Victoria: WTF?


GM: heart complications in his house

Victoria: suspicious?

GM: ?

Victoria: i don’t believe it

GM: fake news lol?

Victoria: She puts the phone away. What the fuck is her life?

She looks around. Is anyone looking at her?

GM: No one that she sees. People in the fairly empty cathedral are either praying or admiring the architecture.

Victoria: She looks for a member of the clergy.

GM: She does not see any immediately present.

Victoria: Unfortunate.

What did she expect to happen? That a demon would be present, sitting in a corner at a table with a warm cup of cocoa waiting?

She looks around for any staff at all.

GM: There is a clerk at the gift shop outside of the chancel.

Victoria: She wonders if this church actually performs any church services at all.

The dominatrix approaches.

“Hi there! Are there any members of the clergy around? I have a confession to make.”

GM: “I think the father still is,” says the woman. “Father… oh, forgive me, I forget his name.” She makes a sign of the cross, then smiles. “He’s not our usual priest. He’s filling in for Father Malveaux today.”

She stares a bit at Victoria’s bruises, but doesn’t say anything.

Victoria: “I’ve no preference for who. I’m new here. If it’s not a bother… but if it is, I can come back!”

GM: “No, I don’t think it’ll be. He’s probably with someone, if you didn’t see him in the chancel. Things are pretty slow after mass.”

“That’s at noon every day, usually.”

Victoria: “I see.”

Normally she’s up before then.

GM: Normal does not describe the last 24 hours of her life.

The clerk offers her a friendly smile.

Victoria: “Thank you! I’ll be inside while I wait.”

GM: “God bless,” says the woman.

Victoria: She reenters the main room and admires one of the windows.

GM: Victoria waits in peace for perhaps ten minutes. Eventually, an elderly man in a priest’s black cassock and white collar emerges from the confession booth, talking quietly to a parishioner. The other man murmurs something, lowers his head, and takes his leave.

Victoria: She waits patiently for the father to finish his conversation and the parishioner to depart. Once he appears open to more conversation, she approaches.

“Hello, Father.” She holds a hand out in welcome. “I’m new here. Do you have time for one more confession?”

GM: “All the time in the world,” he smiles, shaking her hand back. “I’m retired and filling in for the regular priest.”

He gestures towards the booth.

Victoria: She follows him, moving to sit on her own side of the partition.

GM: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen,” says the priest, making the sign of the cross. Victoria knows she’s supposed to do that part as well.

Victoria: She performs her motions in turn, as all good Christian girls do.

“Forgive me, Father. I have some sins to confess.”

And an ice cream man has a cone or two to peddle.

GM: “Of course. How long has it been since your last confession?” the priest asks.

“It’s all right if it’s been a while. Confession is like exercise. Some is always better than none.” The priest smiles faintly.

Victoria: A fucking while indeed.

“Longer than it should be.”

GM: “Are you happy in your life?” the priest asks.

Victoria: “Are any of us truly happy, Father?” she returns.

GM: “All of us know pain and sadness,” says the priest. “No one’s life on Earth is completely happy. It can be more useful to think of happiness in degrees, than as a yes or no. Are we happy enough? Do we feel we experience God’s love in our lives, more often than not? Do we feel we should be content with what we have, or do we feel our lives are lacking something?”

Victoria: “I think too many don’t ask themselves that question, and seek more to fill a void they keep widening themselves. That’s not why I’m here today, though.”

Truthfully, she isn’t sure why she’s here, either, but she suspects that if there is any truth to Jordan’s lunacy, then they’ll be watching her. She knows she needs to be respectful, and appear normal to everyone else.

GM: “Greed is a void that never fills,” says the priest. “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

“That’s obviously about money, but it can apply to many other things too.”

“You’re right, though, you’re here for confession. What do you have to confess?”

Victoria: “Truthfully, I’m not sure. I’m not a terrible person. I don’t harm those that don’t deserve it. I also don’t keep God as close to my heart as I should. Is it wrong that I should want to tell you that?”

GM: “Not at all,” says the priest. “Having a close relationship with God enriches our lives in immeasurable ways.”

“Is that something you wish you had?”

Victoria: “In some ways. I grew up with a relationship like that, and somewhere along the way, it fell by the side. Life has a way of doing that when you don’t keep what’s important front and center.”

GM: “So it does,” says the priest. “In what ways do you wish you still had that relationship?”

Victoria: “What do you mean, Father?” she asks, a little confused.

GM: “Oh, I’m sorry. You said that in some ways, you wish you had that relationship. A better way of asking might have been, what do you miss about having a relationship with God?”

Victoria: “The warmth. Knowing I have someone to turn to. It’s like contacting an old friend after far too long: there’s a sense of guilt in knowing that you want to reach out because you need them, not because you want them.”

GM: “Tell me about that. What it means for you to need God without wanting God.”

Victoria: “It’s the difference between needing a friend because they provide you a service, and wanting them in your life because you enjoy their company. I wonder how many people in this world pray when they’re cold and lonely, versus how many pray because they want that relationship.”

GM: “I think that many people do,” says the priest. “They want someone to turn to. They want warmth and assurance in their lives. They want to feel that someone loves them, or that there’s a guiding moral center to the universe. They aren’t worried about being good Catholics. They don’t try to live their lives any differently. They just want God to be there for them.”

“And you know, that’s perfectly all right.”

Victoria: She perks up, looking through the grated window.

“…it is?”

GM: “Being a good Catholic is something you do for yourself. It’s something you do for other people. But it’s not something you need to do for God. You don’t need to earn His love. He’s there for everyone who wants Him.”

Victoria: “Even if we only want him here and there? How is that fair to Him?”

GM: The priest chuckles.

“What’s unfair? Taking advantage of someone, by taking more from them than you give back? Lying to them about why we want them?”

“We can’t lie to God. He sees our hearts.”

“We can’t take from God. He has infinite love to give.”

“He doesn’t run out.”

“God isn’t like other people in our lives. If you only call your friend because you want to feel like someone cares about you, and don’t actually care about him or her, that is an exploitative relationship. You’re either lying to your friend about your feelings, or they’re a lonely person who’ll take a bad friend over nothing.”

“Or, maybe your friend is compassionate person who’s loved in other relationships, and cares about you so much that they still want you to know their love.”

“That’s God.”

“That’s also not an exploitative relationship, because your friend knows what he or she is doing.”

Victoria: She hasn’t considered it like that before. She’s been on both sides of those relationships, where she’s been needed, and where she’s needed one.

Is that what she was to Anna, in some ways? An overwhelming wave of love that carried her completely through the worst times of her life?

Anna loves her, too, though. She always has.

“Do you believe in demons, Father? Not the stories we hear in mass, nor the movies. Real demons.”

GM: “The stories we hear in mass are real to me,” says the priest.

He smiles faintly. “The movies are not.”

“But yes. I believe in demons. And angels, too.”

Victoria: “Have you ever seen one?”

GM: “I believe demons, like angels, are invisible to us. But I believe their influence is at work in the world.”

Victoria: “Curious. They never directly touch us? Physically.”

“How would they influence us?”

GM: “May I ask why you ask this?” the priest requests.

Victoria: “Curiosity. We’ve always been warned about the devil’s influence, haven’t we? But we don’t see horned men in the corners.”

GM: “So we don’t,” smiles the priest. “In the end, I think what’s in our hearts is more important than the devil’s influence. The devil can’t make someone do anything. The devil can’t make you not do the dishes, hit someone in anger, or cheat on your partner. The devil can only tempt. We have to let him in.”

Victoria: “We all have a bit of the devil in us. Don’t we?”

A pause passes.

“Do you?”

GM: “Of course. As you say, we all do.”

Victoria: “How does the devil manifest in you?”

GM: “Like with all of us, he does in many ways. The most recent was sloth. The church asked me to fill in for Father Malveaux today, at the last minute. Part of me didn’t want to. I wanted to sleep in.”

Victoria: “I see. I think that’s the smallest of sins, all things considered. Is Father Malveaux all right?”

GM: “Some would say it’s not so small. Lots of people come to the weekday masses. They deserve to have a priest. The part of me that wanted to sleep in didn’t care. To that part of me, and to the devil, what I wanted was more important.”

“As to Father Malveaux, I’m told he was feeling unwell and took a sick day.”

Victoria: She smiles faintly.

“That’s not so bad. Even the most pious catch colds. Father, how does God view sex outside marriage? I know the texts. How would he view me?”

GM: “God believes you should not have sex outside of marriage, in the same way that a mother believes her child should exercise and eat a healthy diet. Both are good for you. Being good to yourself will better allow you to be good to others. The church teaches that reserving sex to married couples enriches the marriage, provides a healthier environment in which to raise children, and best supports a loving family. Loving families, in turn, support a better society.”

“So, like a mother, God hopes you will make good choices. But God’s love for you is unconditional. God loves you even when you make harmful choices.”

Victoria: For a long moment of silence, Sylvia wonders who she would have been in life today if this man was her father.

Of course, men who portray this potent kindness in public often beat their wives at home.

“No matter what? As long as we ask for forgiveness, God will love us and welcome us when we die?”

GM: They’re similar enough words to Mary’s.

She didn’t get a Catholic father, but she did get a Catholic mother.

“God wants to welcome all of us to His side when we die. But that doesn’t mean what we do when we’re alive doesn’t matter. It’s possible, through our own choices, to reject God’s welcome even when we say we want it. A mother can tell her son he’s always welcome for dinner, but if he murders a man and gets arrested on the way over, they won’t be able to eat together.”

“That’s why his mother gave him so much advice growing up, like God gives us advice through church. To keep us out of ‘jail’ so we may enjoy our creator’s love.”

“But even when it looks like we’re going to jail, God’s love can do amazing things. Do we honestly regret our mistakes and want to repent them? When we ask forgiveness, are we just saying the words because we figure that’s our ‘get out of jail’ card, or because we mean them in our hearts?”

“So, yes. As long as we ask forgiveness, and really mean it, God will love us and welcome us when we die.”

“God will be the mother who springs us out of jail when we have no hope.”

“God makes possible what should be impossible.”

Victoria: “What if we’re already in jail? What if we begin to regret our decisions in life during our eternity in Hell? Can God save us then? The brevity of life and all that happens in it seems so small in comparison to eternity. We’re so young in our lives. Infant souls. I don’t believe we stop learning after death, so why should eternal torment be judged on that infancy?”

GM: “So that’s a complex question you’re asking. Why are we condemned to Hell forever, when we make choices in a life that’s not forever. Why do finite actions earn an infinite punishment.”

“There are several answers.”

“Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote one. He said that some mortal sins can have infinite repercussions. For instance, if you kill a man, can you ever undo all the harm you’ve caused? Can you make up for all the good he might have done in his life, that he never did? No, probably not. So Aquinas says that a punishment that is infinite in duration can be justly imposed for mortal sin.”

“But there’s another conundrum there, as you’ve pointed out. Can a soul change its nature? Can we continue to learn from our mistakes and grow as people after death?”

“The Catholic Church says no. The Catechism teaches there is no repentance after death, because of the irrevocable character that man’s choices take on after the soul separates from the body. The Catechism defines Hell as the ‘definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed.’ We are choosing, when we die, that we want to reject God’s love forever. We are making a choice with infinite repercussions, like Aquinas wrote about.”

Victoria: His words give her a lengthy period of silent contemplation. She’d come here to needle at what happened to Jordan, and had found some level of enlightenment. What a day.

She answers with some uncertainty. “Can we choose to accept God’s love while we sin?”

GM: “Think of it this way. Can a mugger accept his mother’s love while he continues to steal from people?”

Victoria: “I think you underestimate the motive and sociopathy of many muggers.”

GM: “Some muggers might steal out of desperation, to feed hungry children at home. They might hate what they’re doing, but believe they’re out of options. Some sins can look very justified under the right circumstances.”

Victoria: “So I can sin my life away, and as I die regret it all. As long as I repent in my heart and ask for God’s love, I’m welcome in his Kingdom?”

GM: “Yes. You would be welcome in His kingdom. As long as your remorse is genuine, and you sincerely wish you had led a life without sin.”

“There’s another reason the church tries to stop people from sinning when we’re alive, though. It’s because we’re the sums of our habits, and the more times we do something, the harder it becomes to change our ways.”

“For example, could Hitler have repented at the moment of his death? Theoretically, yes. In practice? He’d need to be a completely different person than the hate-filled man who plunged the world into war. That kind of change very, very rarely happens overnight. It’s the product of years of hard work.”

“So, is someone who’s sinned their entire life away likely to regret it all—and to become a different person—when they die? Much of the time, the answer is no.”

Victoria: Victoria is nearing her fill of religious philosophy.

“What’s your name, Father? I appreciate your counsel.”

She still hasn’t given a confession, either.

GM: “I’m Scott. Counsel is part of the sacrament.”

Victoria: “Thank you, Father Scott. You’ve helped me today. As for my sins… where do we start?”

Where does she start? It’s like picking individual strands of hay from a barn.

“I’m not telling my partner the whole truth. I tell myself it’s for her betterment, but I wonder if it’s hurting her.”

GM: “Do you believe she would want to know the whole truth?”

Victoria: “I do, sometimes. But she also trusts me to know better.”

GM: “What makes you believe she would want to know the truth, during those other times?”

Victoria: “I think she might. But she also knows that the truth can do more damage than ignorance.”

GM: “There are people in occupations whose spouses know they keep secrets. For example, lawyers have attorney-client privilege with their clients, and military servicemen may have secret security clearances. The partners of these people know they can’t talk about the details of their jobs. But these people are honest with their partners about the fact they are keeping secrets.”

“Usually, partners are understanding about this, because the nature of the work has nothing to do with their own life, or the couple’s own marriage.”

“Do you feel the secrets you are keeping impact your partner and her life, or do they have nothing to do with her?”

Victoria: She considers the question for a time.

“Could more than do, but in that, her ignorance makes her safe.”

GM: “Does she also believe her ignorance of these secrets betters her life, or her relationship with you?”

Victoria: “I… think so, yes.”

GM: “Do you think so, or do you know? Have you asked her?”

Victoria: She shakes her head.

Right. Grate.

“I haven’t asked her.”

GM: “Trust and honesty are the foundation to any successful relationship.”

“You don’t have to tell your partner your secrets. But you should be honest that you are keeping secrets which have bearing on her life, and ask what she wants to do.”

“She might agree that her ignorance will make her safe. She also might not.”

Victoria: “That’s a fair point, Father. Thank you.”

GM: “You are welcome.”

“I noticed you had some bruises, too, coming in. May I ask if all is well in other areas of your life?”

Victoria: You don’t know the half of it.

“I was mugged.”

GM: “Oh, I am so sorry. Are you all right?”

Victoria: She huffs.

“Injuries happen. I hope the man who hurt me finds peace in his life. I don’t wish him ill.”

Maybe a little ill. She’d love to punch him in the dick and steal his debit card, but she doesn’t hate him. Really, she’s worried about him.

“He was raving about demons. Said I’m one, and took it out on me. I’ve been robbed before, and I’ve never seen anything like him. You think the police might have picked him up?”

GM: “I don’t know,” says the priest. “If he was causing a public disturbance, it’s possible.”

“But your compassion towards the man who hurt you is commendable. You’re a strong person to wish him well.”

Victoria: Understatement of the year. He was a public menace.

“Thank you, Father. I think I feel better now.”

GM: “Good. Then here is your act of penance. Speak with your partner, about the secrets you are keeping in your relationship, and pray to God this evening.”

Victoria: “Yes, Father. Bless you.”

She moves to exit the confessional.

GM: “Just a moment,” says the priest. “There’s three last steps.”

Victoria: She pauses, hand on the door.

GM: “First, I will hear your act of contrition. That’s a prayer where your express your resolve to sin no more. It can be in your own words, or the ‘standard’ one. Here’s how that goes:”

“O my God,
I am heartily sorry for having offended You,
and I detest all my sins,
because of Your just punishment,
but most of all because they offend You, my God,
who are all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace,
to sin no more,
and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

Victoria: “Oh my God,
I’ve been wrong for so many years,
and in that wrongness I’ve wronged you.
I can’t promise I won’t sin again,
but I swear that I will repent for the sins committed so far,
and all in the future.”

Close enough.

GM: “And now, for the second step, I absolve you. You’ll say ‘amen’ when I’m finished.”

Father Scott extends his right hand above Victoria’s and makes the sign of the cross.

“God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of His Son
has reconciled the world to Himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.”

Victoria: “Amen.”

GM: “Now, the third step. Go in peace, and express your conversion through a life renewed to the Gospel and steeped in Christ’s love.”

Victoria: “Thank you, Father.”

This time, she exits into the main hall.

Tuesday afternoon, 5 April 2016

Victoria: Victoria spends some time in a nearby coffee shop. She orders one—black—and sits, staring at it. Where the fuck is that man?

And then it hits her: she doesn’t need to go to be police. She’s been so frantic in what happened to her that she wasn’t thinking clearly.

The woman draws out her phone, and looks him up in the NOLA registry.

GM: She finds his address in Gentilly.

Victoria: And a short while later, she steps out of the Ryde in front of his place, marches straight up to his door, and knocks.

GM: It’s a quiet- and average-looking suburban home, all things told. It looks middle-class. A sheriff’s deputy probably doesn’t draw the biggest salary, but Victoria well knows that his less than honest inclinations draw in extra on the side.

The door’s answered by a gray-haired older woman with a resemblance to Jordan. She’s lanky-limbed, like him, and doesn’t look to have aged well. Her face bears many years of scowls.

“May I help you?” she asks with a peeved expression.

It may or may not be from the bruises on Victoria’s face.

Victoria: She flattens her expression once the door opens. Calm down, hellcat.

“Hi there! Is Jordan home? I’m a friend of his.”

GM: “Yes, he is,” says the woman. Her peeved expression deepens. “This is a bad time.”

Victoria: “You’re telling me.”

She gestures to her face.

“It’s really, really important.”

GM: “Not to me,” the woman answers pitilessly.

She closes the door.

Victoria: She puts her foot in the door.

“Look, he was not okay when he did this to me last night. I care about him enough that I want to make sure he’s doing better, and if he’s not, then I want to help him. Please.”

She gives her best pleading expression.

GM: The woman gives an exasperated sigh.

“Fine. He’s been a mess since last night. I expect that he did something stupid, like usual for him. Now he’s missing work.”

“Come in, if you can get him to stop blubbering like a big baby.”

Victoria: She steps inside before his mother-assumed can change her mind.

“I will. Where is he?”

GM: “Jordan!” yells his presumed mother. “Someone’s here to see you!”

Victoria: “I think it might be better if I go to him. Given his condition.”

GM: There’s no answer.

“Jordan!” snaps the woman with a look between disgust and disappointment.

She strides deeper into the house. It feels more like an aging woman’s than a young-ish man’s. Everything from the decor to the furniture says ‘retirement-age woman who lives alone.’ There’s kitschy pieces of art, ceramic chachkies, floral wallpaper, pink and magenta living room chairs. It feels like it was decorated decades ago.

The higher-end TV and stereo set, in comparison, feel distinctly out of place. They feel like things someone newly come into sudden cash might have bought. Grabbing the most expensive toys without changing the rest of the home.

The woman bangs sharply on a door, then opens it without waiting for any response. It’s decorated in a younger man’s more minimalist style. Jordan lies in bed, the blankets pulled up to his head.

The woman walks up to his bed and slaps his face.

“Jordan! Wake up, you stupid layabout!”

Jordan makes a startled half-scream of fright, bolts up, and pulls the covers to his chin.

“Mom?! Wh…”

His mother rolls her eyes. “Oh, for fuck’s sake. Your father would be ashamed if he could see what a pathetic little loser his son turned out to be!”

Victoria: Even Victoria winces at that. It’s no wonder he comes to her to be praised and loved.

GM: Jordan’s eyes scan the room. He sees Victoria.

He gives another strangled yell, and makes an awkward motion between dropping the covers and pulling them up further.

“G-get out! GO AWAY!”

Victoria: “Hey,” she croons. “It’s okay. It’s okay Jordan. I’m just here to check on you. You weren’t okay last night. I care about you.”

In that moment, she even believes it herself.

GM: Jordan furiously glowers at her. He’s got a black eye and bruises along his mouth, too.

“G-go away!” he yells, leaping out of bed. He has a t-shirt and boxers on. “G-get out, or you’re under arrest!”

“You can’t arrest people, you idiot, you’re off-duty,” snaps his mother.

“Given that someone decided he was feeling too bad to go in to work today.”

Victoria: “Jordan,” she snaps. “I am trying to help you.”

Maybe some structure will set him straight.

“So let me. Sit.”

GM: “You duh-didn’t help! You gave me THIS!” Jordan angrily points at his own black eye.

His mother doesn’t even look concerned.

“Fix this. I want him going back in to work,” she snaps, then turns to leave.

The door slams behind her.

Jordan glowers at Victoria.

Victoria: “And you left me unconscious, bleeding in a gutter! I’d think we’re even!”

She considers sitting, but decides against it.

“Take a breath. Relax. What happened?”

GM: “You went psycho!” sputters Jordan. “You duh-didn’t help! You were awful!”

Victoria: “Jordan. You pissed yourself in your sleep, attacked me, and ran out the door.”

GM: “Go away!” Jordan yells, pressing his hands to his head.

Victoria: Now she approaches, clasping his cheeks gently.


“My love.”

“I need you to relax.”

Her words are calm and even.

GM: Jordan stiffens under Victoria’s touch. His breath is raggedy and uneven. He angrily glares into her eyes.

Then he starts crying again.

“I’m g-going to H-Hell…”

Victoria: “The only place you’re going, my Jordan, is into my arms until you are calm. Okay?”

She tries to pull him into a hug.

GM: Jordan doesn’t resist.

But he doesn’t stop sobbing.

“I’m guh-guh-going-g t-t-to H-H-Hell…”

Victoria: “One day.”

She strokes his hair.

“We all go somewhere. But you don’t have to worry about that. You belong right here. And here is all you need to focus on.”

GM: Jordan bawls his eyes out. Tears and snot get over Victoria’s shirt.

Victoria: She doesn’t mind. She needs him to cry this out. They’re both a mess.

GM: Jordan cries for a while. Long enough that Victoria starts to feel sore standing.

There’s seemingly no catharsis when Jordan is done. Just numbness. She can only tell he’s done from the fact he lapses into silence, and stops shaking.

Victoria: Eventually, she sits. Numbness is better than raving.

She takes his hand in her own.

“You know how much you matter to me, Jordan?”

GM: Jordan gives her a hopeless look.

Victoria: She pats his forearm. Her back is going to rebuke her later.

“How did all of this start, Jordan?”

GM: Vague confusion enters his face.

Victoria: “The fear. It’s not you. What was the moment it began?”

GM: “The nightmare,” Jordan mumbles.

Victoria: “In your dream? When you called me?”

GM: Jordan makes a noise like assent.

Victoria: “Do you see demons around you right now?”

GM: Jordan uneasily looks around.


Victoria: She looks around with him.

“Have you seen them since that dream?”

GM: Victoria sees nothing out of place.

“Nuh-no,” he numbly repeats.

Victoria: “They can’t get you. They saw that you’re too brave.”

She rubs her thumb against his palm.

“Do you know what you should do if you see them?”

GM: Jordan’s face is without hope.

He does not look as if he believes her.

At all.

Victoria: “You should arrest them. You’re a godly boy, aren’t you?”

GM: Jordan’s face sinks even deeper at that question.

“No,” he whispers.

“I’m going to Hell.”

Victoria: “Do you know what I did today, Jordan? I went to church. I confessed my sins. I bathed in God’s good will and I’m with him again. You can do the same. Do you want Him to protect you?”

GM: Jordan looks ready to cry again at those words.

“I’m going to Hell,” he hoarsely repeats.

Victoria: She seizes his face.

“God forgives those who ask. Do you want to be forgiven?”

GM: “I won’t be,” whispers Jordan. His eyes scrunch.

Victoria: “My love, if God can forgive me for all I’ve done in sin, he can forgive you.”

“We are going to church tomorrow. Or… tonight.”

She pulls out her phone and looks up mass times.

GM: “D’you tell God you raped a priest?” Jordan asks hollowly.

Victoria: “Do you regret what you did?”

GM: Tears bead from Jordan’s eyes.


Victoria: “Do you really regret it, deep in your heart? To your core?”

GM: Victoria finds that mass is scheduled for noon tomorrow.

“Yeh-yes,” Jordan repeats.

Victoria: “Then repent, and God will forgive you.”

“I will pick you up tomorrow at 11:30.”

GM: Jordan gives her a bleary look.

He doesn’t protest.

He doesn’t object.

He doesn’t say no.

He just repeats, in the same numb and hopeless voice,

“I’m going to Hell.”

“An’ so are you.”

Victoria: “Is someone making you say that, Jordan? You’ve said the same words over and over.”

Her eyes are laced with concern.

GM: “What the demon said,” Jordan mumbles. His eyes are far away.

Victoria: “The demon mentioned me?”

GM: Jordan doesn’t nod. Just answers,

“Asked about you.”

Victoria: A chill rips through her spine.

“What did it ask?”

GM: “Your name,” Jordan says in monotone.

“What you wanted.”

“With the priest.”

Victoria: “What did you answer?”

GM: “Tol’ it your name,” Jordan answers hollowly.

“Said you wanted the pictures.”

“Said you paid me.”

Victoria: “In your dream?”

GM: “I begged,” Jordan whispers. “I said I was sorry. I was sorry. S… so, sorry…”

Jordan doesn’t shake with sobs. He doesn’t even tremble. But tears starts to roll down his cheeks again.

“Din’ matter.”

“Said I was goin’ to Hell. For what I did.”

“Said it’d be waiting.”

Jordan’s stare is a thousand miles away.

Then his head slowly tilts, and seems to look both at Victoria, and through her.

There’s a low sound in the back of Jordan’s throat. Like the strangled afterbirth of a laugh. His features twist into a hollow parody of a smile.

“It’s coming for you.”

Victoria: Victoria Wolf doesn’t scare easily. She’s the predator. She’s the alpha. She’s the pack mother, and the protector.

Sylvia St. George is terrified, more for her girlfriend than herself.


GM: “Dunno,” says Jordan.

Tears are still trickling down his face, past the joyless smile.

He gives a faint, cough-like laugh.

“I dunno… anything…”

Victoria: She wraps her arms around him, pulling him into a hug.

“You’ll be okay, Jordan. I’ll make sure of it.”

Tuesday afternoon, 5 April 2016

GM: “So, how’d it go?” Anna asks when Victoria gets back.

Victoria: She shakes her head, falling into her partner’s side and laying her head on her shoulder.

“Not well.”

GM: Anna hugs her and rubs her back.

“I’m sorry.”

Victoria: The hug’s long enough that Sylvie loses track of time.

“I committed a crime to take revenge on those who took away what you loved, working with someone to take revenge in loss for someone who they loved. I don’t know how, and I don’t entirely believe it, but I think they know. It’s a feeling. The logic isn’t there. It’s not. I shouldn’t lie to you. I shouldn’t boast my own position to you and obfuscate. I’m sorry.”

GM: Anna slowly takes in that confession.

Finally, she says,

“I don’t want you to commit a crime. I don’t want revenge. I just want to be a teacher again.”

Victoria: “I know.”

She knows it’s selfish, too.

“Have you practiced with the gun lately?”

GM: That question does not look as if it puts Anna at ease.

“Sylvia, what happened? What was the crime?”

Victoria: She holds a silence.

Her voice breaks.

“I don’t want to tell you. Penance. That’s what it was. Blood for blood. Not enough blood.”

GM: “You’re scaring me,” says Anna. There’s fear in her voice as her grip on Sylvia tightens.

“What’s happening? Why are you asking about the gun?”

Victoria: “Because I have a really bad feeling, and I’d rather know you’re safe than you’re not, okay? Just—you can be mad at me, but later! Right now I need to know you can protect yourself if I’m not here.”

GM: “Sylvia, I’m not mad, I just want to know what’s going on! Why do I need to protect myself?!”

Victoria: “The guy I paid to deliver that penance? He’s the one who called me last night. He’s losing his mind, going on and on about demons. The scary thing? The thing that gets me?”

She rests a hand on Anna’s thigh, trying to reassure her. It’s wracked with tremors.

“The questions they asked him—his dream—it just—I don’t know! Something feels wrong! Like it’s more real than a nightmare!”

GM: Anna gives a laugh of relief, but it still sounds more than a little desperate.

“That’s all this is? That guy’s crazy!”

“You heard what a nut he was!”

Victoria: “I did! But he wasn’t like this before. Something’s different. Something—”

She huffs.

“I don’t know.”

GM: “Look, he obviously has problems. Is he your first client who’s gotten this crazy?”

Victoria: She nods to her girlfriend.

“It’s just—”

Maybe Victoria is going crazy.

GM: “Just scary? Yeah, this wasn’t something you signed up for!”

Victoria: She’s still shuddering.

“I—I don’t think…”

But she has no evidence of it, does she? Nothing at all. The only evidence she has is her own involvement in the crimes.

GM: “Look,” says Anna, rubbing her back, “you’re freaked out about this whole thing. Crazy client and getting caught up in a crime.” Worry returns to her face. “What’s the story there?”

Victoria: “With the crime?”

Her horror transforms to concern. She knows how Anna will feel.

“I don’t know if you’ll forgive me.”

GM: “Right now I’m more concerned about keeping you out of prison. I don’t want that, whatever you did!”

Victoria: “If I tell you, you will be accountable for reporting it. I’m not putting the love of my life in prison.”

GM: “Then talk to a lawyer,” says Anna. “At least do that. Please.”

Victoria: She pinches the bridge of her nose.

“If it comes to it, I will. Promise.”

GM: Anna shakes her head.

“Please. This is what I’m asking, if you won’t talk to me. Get ahead of this, before it comes to anything.”

“A lawyer can’t report you or turn you in.”

Victoria: “Legally. Okay. Okay. I’ll get advice for lawyer from someone I trust.”

Christina, or someone similar.

“Promise. I’m not going to jail.”

GM: “Then let’s do that now,” presses Anna. “No sense putting it off.”

“Take it from the teacher. It’s always best to do homework early.” She gives a weak smile.

Victoria: “I would need to call a few friends.”

She presses still hands to Anna’s cheeks.

“I will be fine.”

Victoria always is. She’s worried about Anna.

GM: “Then call them,” says Anna, mirroring the motion and pressing her own hands to Victoria’s. “Please! I’m really worried after how scared you were!”

Victoria: “Look. I’ll do it. I promise. You have my word, and my words aren’t overruled by my position. For now, I need to know that you can defend yourself if something happens.”

Like what? The demon coming for you? Victoria believes in demons, even the fictional kind. They come in dreams, and they work through people. This? This feels different. Unbelievable, yet unshakeable.


GM: The fear returns to Anna’s face at that question.

“Sylvia, what do you think is going to happen?! I have no idea if I can defend myself, not without knowing against what!”

Victoria: “A gun! Our gun. I’ve taught you how to shoot it. You’ve done it before. You remember. Yes?”

GM: “Yes, I do remember! Now will you please tell me what’s going to happen?!”

Victoria: Victoria should be in an asylum with how she looks at her girlfriend.

“I. Don’t. Know.”

GM: Anna’s answering look seems on the verge of tears.

“Sylvia, that is scarier than anything else you could say!”

Victoria: “I’m probably going nuts.”

She’s lost her mind.

“I’m probably just being overcautious.”

She always is.

“But I want to know that you’re safe. You’re my whole world.”

GM: Anna gives a long sniff.

“I don’t feel safe right now. I don’t. I’m scared.”

Victoria: She pulls Anna into such a tight hug that she struggles to breathe.

GM: Anna loses herself in Sylvia’s embrace, as if hoping her girlfriend might squeeze out her fears and turn everything back to normal. Take control, like she so often does.

Moments pass.

Victoria: Moments pass. Then minutes. She lets Anna breathe, but doesn’t let go.

“I will make it okay.”

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Story Fourteen, Victoria V

“We’re going to Hell.”
Jordan Ratcliff

Monday night, 4 April 2016, PM

GM: It’s not long after Sylvia’s settled down to bed with Anna that Victoria gets a call.

It’s Jordan. He really wants a session, and soon.

“I had a night… nightm… about the g…”

The sheriff’s deputy sounds on the verge of tears.

Victoria: “A nightmare about…?” she asks, full of motherly warmth.

GM: “The… the guy! The priest! It was… w…”

There’s no mistaking it. Jordan is full on sobbing now.

Anna stirs in bed and groggily looks up at her girlfriend.

Victoria: “I think that’s all a nightmare,” she purrs. “Why don’t we meet… tomorrow, hm?”

Fingers wrap Anna’s throat, pressing her lightly back to bed.

GM: Does she like that?

Maybe it takes a little while to process after just waking up, but she settles down.

Jordan does not.

He makes a hysterical sound that sounds like something between a scream, a sob, and manic, delirious laughter.

Victoria: “Jordan, my love, it’s only a dream, hm? That’s all it is. Shhh… I’ll see you tomorrow, and you’ll forget all about it. Won’t you? Don’t you believe me?”

She presses more firmly to Anna’s throat.

GM: Anna obediently stays down.

But Jordan does not sound like he believes her, or that he will forget it. Or something.

All it comes messily, sloppily, deliriously, sobbingly tumbling out. To call it “word salad” would imply a modicum of coherence, and Jordan’s words have none. He babbles about being chased, about darkness, darkness, about being eaten, about being raped, about Hell, raped in Hell, dark in Hell, black in Hell, Hell, Hell, he’s going to Hell. For everything. He wishes he hadn’t done this. He wishes he hadn’t gotten involved. That he hadn’t had any, any part in it. He is hyperventilating. He is sobbing. He babbles something about piss in the sheets. He babbles about being paralyzed, and dying.

The man is having what sounds like a full-fledged mental breakdown.

Victoria: “Jordan, my dear, nothing will happen to you. Nothing bad has happened to you. What are you going on about?”

GM: Victoria just gets more of the same frenzied, manic, crying and shrieking babble. Jordan does not sound in the least bit reassured.

Victoria: “Six o’clock tomorrow, Jordan. Okay? Six o’clock. Say it back to me.”

She rolls her eyes, looking at Anna.


The man’s words trail off into incoherent sobbing.

Anna frowns with concern.

Victoria: A chill runs down her spine.

“Jordan, baby. Come on. You’re not going to do that. Why do you want to do that?”

She’s painfully calm. She’s his opposite.

GM: “HE WAS A PR… PIESSSTTT!” Jordan screams. He rambles. About how he’s going to Hell. About how it’s too late for him. He’s gone to Hell, he’s going to Hell, Hell is waiting for him, Hell has seen him.

Victoria: Why did she have to rely on such a pussy?

“Do you need me to come see you, Jordan?”

GM: Anna pulls her phone off the table, taps something out, and holds it up:

Talking suicide?

Victoria: She nods.

GM: Anna taps:

Call 911.


Victoria: She shakes her head.

Bad idea.

“Meet me at the usual place, hm?”

GM: “C-can you c-come to m-m-my house-se…?”

Anna taps:

He needs mental health services, not a dominatrix right now.

Victoria: She covers the receiver.

“No cops.”

Then back to the phone.

“You know I can’t do that, baby.”

GM: “Get him to call a suicide hotline, at least!” says Anna.

“P-p-please…” Jordan sobs.

Victoria: “Jordan, honey, do you really think you’re going to hurt yourself?”

She gestures Anna to get the number.


Anna pulls one up on her phone and holds it up.

Victoria: “No you’re not, Jordan. You’re a good boy. Good boys don’t go there. Now, I need you to come to my place—okay? You know where it is. Just call a cab. You can get there.”

GM: A long silence greets Victoria’s first statement.

But at her second, he falteringly manages,

“O… k…k… ay…”

Victoria: “Good boy.”

She hangs up and starts getting dressed.

“Fucking hell. He’s going to get me killed, or arrested, or—fucking—back to sleep, okay? I’ll be back soon.”

Gun: found.

Knife: pocketed.

“If I don’t text you within two hours, call the cops and send the to my office.”

GM: “Wai—hold on!” says Anna, getting out of bed.

“This seriously is not your job.”

Victoria: “I’ll tell you more about it when I get back, ’kay?”

No, she’ll probably not—but she hopes it soothes her for now.

“There are reasons I have to be the one to do this.”

GM: “Look, we receive some suicide prevention training, as teachers,” says Anna. “And… the biggest thing it played up is that we’re great at detecting students at risk for suicide, but we should leave the actual treating to the pros.”

“Jumping out of bed like this kind of violates a bunch of professional boundaries, too. It’s not your place to talk a client down from suicide.”

Victoria: “It is when that client just did some very unethical work to make the world right again, and the police would be very interested to know why he’s yelling about how he wants to take his life over it.”

She holds a pause.

“This is one of those ‘you don’t want to know’ times, Anna.”

GM: Anna looks torn.

“Well, I guess the question is, is this work worth his life?”

“Because you might not be able to help him.”

“What does he do after you leave?”

Victoria: “I won’t leave him in need of help, Anna. Promise.”

Her face softens.


GM: “All right,” Anna relents. “Just… don’t make this a habit. Your clients really shouldn’t be doing this.”

Victoria: She shakes her head, kissing Anna’s forehead.

“Promise. This is a unique case.”

Monday night, 4 April 2016, PM

GM: It’s a short enough trip to her dungeon. It’s not long, either, before she hears banging against the door.

Victoria: She checks the window first.

GM: It’s him. He looks awful.

Victoria: She grips the knife in her pocket, and opens the door.

GM: Jordan staggers in and slams the door behind him. He’s shaking. His face is white, except for his eyes, which are red and puffy.

“I’m… going… to Hell…!”

Victoria: “Jordan, dear, come in.”

She already has hot-but-not-scalding tea prepared.

“Give me a hug. Come here.”

GM: He collapses into her embrace, trembling and weeping.

Victoria: She pulls him to the couch like that, pushing and reassuring him the whole while. She allows him to feel that human contact.

GM: He needs it. He sobs. He moans. He weeps.

“This… this was… a m-mistake… we fucked up. Oh, god, we fucked up…”

Victoria: “Shhh… He’s no more free of sin than any in the depths of Parish.”

Irony? She’s amused, though it doesn’t show.

“Why the sudden guilt?”

GM: “I had a d… dr…”

He swallows, shaking his head.

“A n-nightm-mare…”

Victoria: “About…?”

GM: Jordan chokes back a sob and buries his face against Victoria.

Victoria: She rubs his back, cooing.

“It’s okay… it’ll all be okay… just a dream… just a dream…”

“Did something happen with the priest…?”

GM: “We’re going to Hell,” Jordan whispers, his voice faint against the rain plunking overhead.

“Both of us.”

Victoria: “Perhaps. When the time comes. Why do you say?”

GM: Jordan just shudders and clings to Victoria.

Victoria: “Is someone coming for us, Jordan?”

GM: “They’re waiting for us,” he whispers. “The demons. They know who we are. They know… what we did…”

Victoria: “What demons are these, my love? Your friends in the mob? The police? How do you know what demons they are?”

GM:DEMONS,” Jordan repeats, emphatically.

Victoria: “Did you know that I’m a demon slayer?”

She sounds entirely believable. Or deranged. Probably the prior to him.

GM: Or joking.

But Jordan looks little assured.

He starts to cry again.

“I don’t… I don’t… oh god, I’m sorry…!”

Victoria: “They can’t get you here, Jordan. It’s impossible. You’ll be entirely safe here. Shhh… rest.”

GM: Jordan looks little assured by those words, too.

But resting, at least, looks like something he wants to do.

He clings to her, head resting against her, and closes his eyes.

Victoria: Resting he can do. For now.

What the fuck, Jordan?

She pulls out her phone.

Fine so far…

GM: Good news. You coming home soon?

Victoria: Eventually…

GM: Should I go back to sleep?

Victoria: Ill wake you up

GM: K. I’ll get some rest tile then. Good luck with your guy

Oh and bill him

Victoria: He’ll be licking our floor for weeks

GM: I don’t even want to guess where that tongue has been…

Victoria: Worry about where mine is going to be.

She sends a selfie of her poking it out, entirely a clown.

GM: I’m not worried about your tongue at all :)

Lol some romantic line that is

Victoria: Bed.

GM: Yes mistress ;)

Victoria: Vic locks the front door, and returns to the couch. She watches for a while, and eventually drifts off.

Tuesday night, 5 April 2016, AM

GM: Victoria dreams of Émelise kissing and fondling her. When she wakes up, Jordan’s still there. He’s twitching and whimpering in his sleep.

Victoria also smells urine.

There’s not a ton of it.

But there’s enough to smell.

Victoria: “What the f…? JORDAN!”

She smacks him.

GM: Jordan gives a half-gasp, half-scream at the contact. He pulls away and looks wildly around. His eyes are wide and his skin is sweaty.

Victoria: “You pissed yourself! You know damn well you’re paying for the cleaning bills!”

GM: Does he look embarrassed?

He just stares past Victoria with hollow eyes, breathing hard.

“O… kay.”

Victoria: “What. Happened.”

GM: “We’re going to Hell,” Jordan whispers. His voice is without hope.

He starts softly crying.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Victoria: “Is there a reason you can’t tell me why we’re going to hell?”

GM: “The priest!” Jordan exclaims.

“He was a priest!

Victoria: “And? Who gives a fuck? You’ve done worst to less deserving people.”

GM: “He was a m… man of God.”

Victoria: “He was a pawn of a wealthy family, and as politically shrewd and cold-hearted as the rest of them. Do not think him pious.”

GM: Jordan just shudders.

“The demon did.”

Victoria: “Which demon?”

GM: Jordan looks at her blankly.

Victoria: “Tell me, Jordan.”

GM: “I don’t… huh?”

Victoria: “You don’t… what?”

GM: “I don’t understand.”

Jordan starts softly crying again.

“I don’t understand.”

Victoria: “What do you not understand?”

GM: “Everything!” Jordan sputters.

He still hasn’t moved from his piss stain.

Victoria: “Jordan. Fuck’s sake. What is wrong with your head? You were never like this. Why can’t you tell me anything about the ‘demon’?”

GM:STOP IT!” Jordan yells. “STOP IT! You’re suh, suh-posd to m-make things better, and yuh-you’re NOT! I’m d-done! I’m out!”

He stomps towards the door in his piss-stained pants.

Victoria: “Your piss-covered ass slept on MY couch! Get your ass back here!”

She stomps after him.

GM: She catches up to him as he yanks the door open, not stopping.

Victoria: “Jordan!”

She grabs his shoulder.

“Get the fuck back in here!”

He needs an ambulance. She doesn’t call one.

GM: Jordan turns around as she grabs him and shoves at her.

Victoria: She steps backward from the shove.

“What the fuck, man?! I’m trying to HELP you!”

GM: Jordan gives a hysteria-tinged yell and runs out into the rain.

Victoria: Victoria is further confirmed that children aren’t in her future.

She locks the door and chases after him.

GM: She catches up to him. Rain pelts in her face.

Jordan doesn’t respond to her. Just keeps running.


She snags his jacket.

Every minute. Every last fucking minute she has to do this—self-preservation or not—she’s billing him a full hour.

GM: Jordan gives another yell and throws a punch at her.


Victoria: She ducks the punch, aiming to sink her knee into his balls.

“Neither of us are going to hell!”

GM: Victoria’s knee solidly connects with that most sensitive part of male anatomy. Jordan gives a half-cry, half-gagging noise and goes down to one knee then throws a punch into Victoria’s kidneys. It hurts. He throws himself at her as she stumbles, grabbing her by the waist. She goes down after him in a heap. The wet street scrapes her skin. Rain pounds over them both. Jordan screams and throws wild, terror- and adrenaline-fueled punches. Victoria fights herself fighting back, just as hard, out of simple self-preservation instinct.

There’s no finesse or even dignity in what they do. Just two people, flailing and brawling on a dirty street as they’re soaked under the downpour. Jordan socks Victoria in her face, in her gut, even in the cunt. She hurts, everywhere, and tastes blood. So does Jordan. Victoria sees a tooth go flying under one of her punches, or it might just be the rain. Someone throws up. She’s not sure who. She’s not sure how it all goes, in the haze of adrenaline—just that Jordan’s gone by the time she comes to.

And she hurts, everywhere.

Maybe he beat her bloody and left her there. Maybe she beat him bloody and he ran off. There’s red over the streets. Hers? His? Both? Somehow it feels like it doesn’t matter. No one feels like they’ve won this fight. Victoria’s face feels swollen, her lip feels split, and she has a hard time seeing out of one eye. She’s absolutely soaked under the rain.

No one, her gut tells her again, won this fight.

Victoria: She recalls flashes: A spark of pain in her ribs. Her hair pulled. The crunch of his nose. Hitting the ground. Pain in the back of her skull.

White. Then black. Then rain. And heat. Always heat. Heat from the starting day, and heat from the blood on her face.

She pats her pocket. Is the knife still there? The gun?

GM: She finds both.

Did she use either?

They’re wet with rain, but that might’ve happened anyway.

Victoria: She stows them away, and steadily gets to her feet. Can she stand?

GM: It hurts, but looks like it.

Victoria: She stumbles back to the house. No more rain. It smells like piss. She’s going to bill him for every punch.

GM: For all the smell, it’s dry indoors, and light.

The night beyond is dark, wet, cold. Each plunk of rain seems to reverberate with Jordan’s hope-stricken words:

“We’re going to Hell.”

Victoria: Maybe he is. She isn’t planning on that for a long, long time.

She moves into the bathroom to examine herself.

GM: She looks like shit. She’s got a black eye, split lip, and multiple bruises. Her hair is a soggy, sorry mess.

She wonders how Jordan looks.

Victoria: She looks better than Jordan looks on his best day. The thought makes her feel a bit better.

What the fuck is going on? Jordan was never the most intelligent, stable person in the world, but he’d never displayed such a primal breakdown.

She can’t call the cops. That’ll just be another bribe and uncomfortable explanations.

She snags a medical kit and begins cleaning what damage she can.

She can’t tell Christina. Not until she has a solution. Not if she wants to be something. Nor Jill.

It stings. It looks worse once the blood is wiped away.

GM: Her no longer bloody, but still beaten reflection dully stares back at her.

How the hell did it come to this?

Victoria: She wonders how long it’s been since Jordan has seen a doctor. Maybe she should ask for medical history in future clients.

otw home

But she doesn’t go home. She heads to her car, and drives the nearby blocks looking for Jordan.

GM: Anna doesn’t immediately reply. Maybe she’s still asleep.

Victoria finds no trace of Jordan. Not in the middle of the rainy night, at least, while she’s tired and hurting everywhere. Who knows where he went?

A dirty homeless man lying under a corner’s roof leers and pulls out his genitals as she drives by.

Victoria: She makes the universal gesture for ‘tiny pp’ and moves on.

Whatever. Jordan probably got hit by a car. Dead men tell no tales.

She sets her sights on going home.

GM: She finds Anna contently asleep in their bed.

Victoria: Which is worse: Anna waking up to her sleeping in this state, or waking her up intentionally?

She gets an ice pack to hide some of the damage, then sits and nudges her.

“Anna…” she croons.

GM: “Mmmf…” Anna mumbles, stirring. “Daddy, go’ the eggyolk in your han’…”

Victoria: “Annnnnnnaaa….”

GM: “Mmmf… wuzzi… Sylvie?”

Anna gives a tired yawn and sits up.

She fumbles around for the light.

She squints and blinks dully after flicking it on.

“Why you got an ice pack…?”

Victoria: “Hey, I’m not looking the best… Don’t be scared. I’m fine.”

GM: Anna blinks again.

“How’d it go with it… wait, why you got an ice pack?” she repeats.

Victoria: “We had a… Disagreement.”

She keeps it firmly in place.

GM: Anna suddenly seems to wake up more.

“He hurt you?!”

Victoria: “You should see the other guy,” she grins.

GM: “Let me see you,” says Anna, gently attempting to move aside the pack.

Victoria: “Promise not to freak out?”

GM: Those words seem to bring her little comfort.

“Not if you’re missing an eye. But I’ll try.”

Victoria: She snorts, pulling it away.

“Both eyes.”

GM: Anna’s hands go to her mouth.

Victoria: “No freaking!”

GM: She lowers them after a moment, her eyes still wide. She gingerly rests her hands on Sylvia, as if afraid to hurt her further.

“What the hell happened!?”

Victoria: “Something is wrong with him,” she answers, uncertain. “It’s as if he cracked, but it doesn’t make sense. Not with the work and people he’s involved with. This shouldn’t have happened, but I can’t think of anything that would induce this behavior outside drugs.”

And she isn’t sure whether or not he is on drugs. He’d certainly never been that crazy.

“He pissed my couch, got angry, ran out the door, and got into a fight with me when I chased him. I woke up—I don’t know how long later—on the sidewalk. He’s gone.”

GM: “Oh my god!” Anna exclaims.

She throws her arms around Sylvia and squeezes her tight, as if to make sure she’s still there. It hurts, a bit.

“Don’t ever see a client like that again! I knew this was a bad idea!”

Victoria: She might smell like piss, too. After all, she was sleeping next to him.

“Not every client is paid to do things not everyone would be proud of.”

And she leaves it there. No cops.

“I need to find him, but not now. He was going on and on and on about demons, and how we’re both going to Hell, but he never once told me what they were or what happened.”

GM: Anna blinks and pulls back, enough, to look Sylvia in the eye, but keeps her arms on her girlfriend.

“Sylvia, let this guy go. You do not want to find him!”

“He’s crazy.”

Victoria: “I have to. I have to. If he goes blabbing to the cops about this, then it’ll be more trouble than dealing with this on my own.”

She pokes Anna in the ribs.

“Come on. You know I’m tougher than I look.”

GM: “No! You don’t have to! No amount of money is worth you getting attacked like this!”

It takes a moment before the words seem to fully process.

“Why would he go to the cops, anyway, if he’s crazy and attacked you? Crazy people rambling about demons don’t call the cops.”

“And if he does, it was self-defense. You’re safe.”

Victoria: “He’s fucking crazy. I don’t know what he’ll do. The problem is his ranting touches on what I paid him to do, which was illegal, and would interest the cops.”

A pause.

“I’m not worried about it tonight. Not tonight. Maybe not in the morning.”

GM: Anna frowns. “That you paid… him to do?”

“I thought he was a client. That he was paying you.”

Victoria: “Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to.”

GM: “I kind of want them when the love of my life staggers in at 5 AM after getting attacked by a crazy man.”

“And then wants to go find him again.”

Victoria: She presses a finger to Anna’s nose.

“Let me be a hero once in a while.”

GM: “This isn’t being a hero,” says Anna. “Who are you saving?”

Victoria: “Us.”

GM: “I don’t see us getting saved. I see you getting hurt, and now wanting to do something dangerous.”

Victoria: “You don’t have to see. You weren’t supposed to see. This is just a setback.”

That’s right, Victoria, that’s all this is. A setback.

GM: “Sylvia, this isn’t normal dominatrix stuff! You see a guy, you help him live out his fantasy, you get paid, done. What is going on?”

Anna looks at Sylvia for a moment. There’s fear in her eyes.

“I’m scared for you. For us.”

Victoria: She pulls the teacher into a warm hug.

“Anna, love, it’s okay. It’ll all be okay. Every last thing.”

Because she’ll make it that way. That’s how it always works, doesn’t it?

GM: Anna falls silent under that hug.

She obviously wants to believe that.

So bad.

“Will you at least talk to a lawyer, first,” she says. “Instead of trying to find a crazy man.”

Victoria: She shakes her head.

“Not yet.”

GM: “Sylvia… I can’t accept you just throwing yourself into a dangerous situation, without even a why,” says Anna.

Victoria: “Do you trust me?”

GM: “With my life.”

Victoria: “Then trust that this is all happening for the better.”

GM: Anna’s quiet for a moment.

“Is this… what submitting really looks like, outside of the bedroom?”

Victoria: “No, Anna, this is what it looks like when your partner loves you and is trying to protect you from the monsters out there, who she engaged with in the first place to make the world just a little more fair to the person she loves.”

GM: Anna’s quiet again.

It’s a lot to ask.

To just accept this.

Sylvia seeking out the crazy client who ranted about demons, pulled her out of bed in the middle of the night, and sent her home with an ice pack and the shit kicked out of her.

Sylvia not talking to a lawyer, after the talk about illegal activity.

Sylvia not even disclosing any details, or reasons, besides, ‘for us.’

It’s a lot to ask.

“Okay,” Anna says quietly.

“You let me teach at an inner city school. And never said ‘I told you so.’”

“You were right about Jeff. You’ve made better decisions than I have.”

She takes a long breath, as if to convince herself.

“I will trust you on this.”

“I will trust you to handle it your way.”

Victoria: The beaten woman pulls Anna into a hug, and leans the pair of them into bed.

“I won’t break your trust. I won’t go anywhere until morning, and when the time comes, I will tell you why this happened.”

GM: There’s some relief on Anna’s face, at that. Hearing Sylvia will at least wait until morning.

Anna wordlessly holds her close. The rain pounds overhead. Jordan is out there somewhere, in some wet and dark and lonely corner of the city, ranting his madness. Sylvia still hurts, everywhere.

But her bed is soft and warm, and so is Anna’s embrace. She can hear hear the woman’s steady breathing in the dark.

For all their worries, there’s nowhere the two would rather be.

Previous, by Narrative:
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Previous, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria IV
Next, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria VI

Story Fourteen, Victoria IV

“Why? Why do they have to hate us? Why can’t they just be happy we’re happy?”
Anna May Perry

Friday evening, 1 April 2016

GM: Anna’s thrilled by the news that Victoria’s meeting with banks to purchase Chakras. The meeting with the St. Johns is little ways off.

In fact, Anna seems inspired by Sylvia taking steps to realize her own dream. She says she wants to apply to schools again for a teaching position.

“Did you say your mom might be able to hook me up with something?” she asks, hopefully, one evening over dinner.

She cooks, like always.

Victoria: “She could, I’m sure.”

She hopes.

“I can call her.”

GM: “Please. Anytime that’s convenient for you both.”

Anna looks very hopeful.

Victoria: She pulls out her phone.


A pause.

“After dinner.”

GM: “After dinner,” nods Anna. “I can wait that long.”

“How do you feel about those different financiers you mentioned?”

Victoria: She pauses, her fork halfway to her mouth.

“Like I’m diving in deeper than I should; but, no great moves beyond good without risk. You either earn the respect of the rich and powerful in New Orleans, or you remain another pebble carried by the stream.”

GM: “Financial risk?” asks Anna, concernedly.

Victoria: She reaches across the table, squeezing Anna’s hand.

“Everything’s the same risk, in the end. All that matters is the degree. Don’t worry about me.”

GM: Anna squeezes it back and smiles.

“You can’t seriously expect me not to do that.”

Victoria: “Okay. Worry. But trust that I’ll come back to you. What would you do if I wasn’t here to take the weight of the world off your shoulders?”

GM: “I wasn’t even thinking about me.”

Victoria: “Who were you thinking about?”

GM: “The most important person in my life, of course.”

Victoria: “Rick Towers?”

GM: Anna laughs.

“I know a lot of his movies these days are pretty so-so. But he’s interesting even when his movies aren’t. It’s like… watching the last specimen of some exotic, alien species, almost.”

Victoria: “‘Like’? I’m entirely certain he’s the first real link to the lizardmen.”

GM: Anna smiles again.

“To answer your question, though. Geez. I don’t even know what I’d do.”

“It really has been a relief after everything to just… let you take the driver’s seat.”

“And for you, I bet, not to worry about cooking or the apartment when you’re so busy.”

Victoria: “Among other services freely available.”

The wink she follows with isn’t necessary. Finally, she feed herself a mouthful of food.

“I’ll be fine, Anna. If I’m not fine, I’ll get back at them.”

GM: Anna looks less than thrilled by that last promise, but nods.

“Can I have seconds?”

That’s been another rule they’ve adopted to help manage her weight.

Sylvia can take care of everything.

Victoria: “If you’re planning to run before bed, you may have one extra scoop.”

GM: “Oof. Such decisions.”

Victoria: “I’ll even be kind. Just one mile.”

GM: Anna smiles. “Can you make this decision for me, too?”

“It’s just… more fun when you do.”

Victoria: She clicks her tongue, a devious smile coming to her lips.

“All right. Have your seconds. Clean the pans and put the leftovers away. Allow yourself to digest. Run one mile, and then you can join me in the shower. I’d like my hair washed.”

GM: “Yes, mistress,” Anna smiles back, helping herself to another chicken burrito scoop. They’re refried beans, chicken, peppers, salsa, and grated cheese wrapped in small tortilla, like burrito cupcakes.


Victoria: Sylvia watches her eat, chin in her palm. Watching. Staring. Waiting. Observing.

GM: “I’m suddenly feeling very self-conscious…” Anna laughs.

Victoria: “Oh, don’t worry. Just admiring the artwork.”

GM: Anna gets up, burrito cupcake in hand, and strikes a pose.

Victoria: Sylvia laughs, shaking her head.

“Your silliness is enticing.”

GM: She strikes another pose, munching on burrito as she does.

Very slowly and exaggeratedly.

Victoria: “You keep that up and I’ll be making you massage a lot more than my scalp.”

GM: “Is that a punishment or a reward?”

Victoria: She smiles faintly. “Keep eating.”

GM: “Yef, mifreff,” Anna says past a full mouth.

Victoria: Sylvia finishes her food. Apparently, she’s not all that hungry. It’s probably at least partly Anna’s fault.

GM: Anna takes her time finishing her own food and sits down on Sylvia’s lap.

“I’ve really liked this. Everything these past few months.”

“Is there more we can do in daily life, outside of the bedroom? What’s the next step?”

Victoria: Sylvia wraps an arm about her waist, promising security.


She knows the punishment for lying.

“I’ve had an idea in mind, but it’s a surprise.”

Uh oh.

GM: Anna looks intrigued.

And a little nervous.

Just the way Vic prefers her.

“My lady of mystery,” she smiles.

Victoria: “Yours, devoted eternally,” she teases.

GM: Anna nuzzles her nose.

“I guess I should do my chores if I want it to be a nice surprise, huh?”

Victoria: “Mhmmmm…”

Though, who said it will be tonight?

Saturday afternoon, 2 April 2016

GM: Sylvia knows how much her mother loves to have her children over, even outside weekly dinners. Anna’s teaching prospects is a topic best raised in private, anyway. Mary greets her at the door with a hug and question of,

“Have you eaten yet, Sylvie?”

Victoria: She pulls her mom into a more gentle hug than anyone else gets from her.

“Mom, you know that I know better than to come home full,” she laughs.

GM: “I do know,” Mary smiles. “I have someone staying with me. Please be gentle with her. She’s come from a very, very dark place.”

Victoria: “When am I ever not gentle?” she smiles, stepping into the house and removing her shoes.

GM: “When are you not,” Mary agrees. “Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t want to speak with you, either.”

Victoria: “None taken, Mom. New foster?”

GM: “Not quite, dear. Just someone who needs a place of… respite.”

Victoria: She nods.

“I’ll try to talk to her, but I won’t push.”

GM: “That sounds wise. She’s more willing to answer in nods and head shakes, I’ve also found.”

Victoria: She nods.

“What’s her name?”

GM: Mary pauses.

“She’s very frightened about people knowing her name. Why don’t you ask her if I can tell you.”

Victoria: Sylvia gives her a quizzical look, but nods her assent.

“Where is she?”

GM: “One of the bedrooms. I’ll go and get her,” says Mary. “Make yourself at home at the dining room, please. Lunch is already laid out.”

Victoria: Sylvia set her shoes neatly in the rack, just like Mama always had her, then pulls out a chair and sits, waiting.

GM: Lunch is tomato soup with basil toppings and grilled cheese sandwiches. Easy, classic comfort food.

Mary returns after several moments with a young woman. She has long dark brown hair, a button nose, and gaunt cheeks. They look like they might have been plump with baby fat, once, but there’s a deflated quality to them seemingly suggestive of rapid weight loss in a short time. She’s dressed in a plain t-shirt and sweatpants with a thick blanket wrapped around her shoulders. Her eyes are dark and haunted, as well as out of focus. They don’t seem to fully register Sylvia’s presence. She looks in her to mid to late teens.

Victoria: She’s glad Anna isn’t here. She doesn’t need any more grilled cheese.

Sylvia plates a meal, but doesn’t yet eat any of it, not wanting to be rude despite her mother offering.

When the girl enters, she’s greeted with friendly eyes and a warm smile.

“Hello there,” she purrs. “I’m Sylvia. You can call me Sylvia, if you want.”

GM: Anna was spoiled by their initial junk food feast together.

The girl looks at Sylvia warily.

She doesn’t say anything.

Victoria: “Can Mom—Mary—tell me your name?”

GM: The girl quickly shakes her head.

Victoria: “That’s fine, dear. You don’t have to let her,” she smiles, looking up to Mary.

GM: Sylvia’s mom nods in emphasis.

Everyone eats. The girl does that much without prompting. It’s simple, tasty, and filling comfort food. Anna will no doubt grouse missing out on it.

“You said you’d wanted to talk about Anna, Sylvie?” her mom asks. She glances at the girl. “Would that be better after lunch, or is here fine?”

Victoria: “I think after lunch would be best,” she answers. “It’s not so fun a topic for my new friend here.”

Translation: privacy.

“Did you enjoy the grilled cheese? That used to be my favorite meal, when I first got here.”

Victoria: Sylvia pauses, and then it occurs to her.

She produces her phone, opening it to a notepad app, then slides it across the table.

“Is this more comfortable for you?”

GM: Sylvia gets the distinct impression that her mother was framing her question in such a way, too.

The girl does not answer Sylvia’s question until Mary looks at her, then nods.

She looks at the phone without comprehension, up Sylvia, and then gives a light shrug.


Victoria: She nudges the phone closer to her.

“If you’d like to try. There’s no pressure.”

GM: The girl looks at it, then continues munching her grilled cheese.

Victoria: She lofts a brow, looking to Mary. “Perhaps a pen and paper?”

GM: “Perhaps a writing prompt,” her mother gently suggests.

Victoria: “Writing prompt?”

GM: “A question to answer, or other suggestion of what to write.”

Victoria: She did ask her if she liked the grilled cheese. Oh well.

“How old are you, dear?”

GM: The girl taps two numbers on the phone.


Victoria: Older than she thought. She has questions for her mother, but not even their echo touches her expression.

“Lovely. I’m 27.”

GM: The girl silently takes that in and has another spoonful of soup.

Victoria: “What do you like to do for fun?”

GM: The girl pauses in her eating to stare numbly ahead.

She does not answer.

Victoria: Perhaps a bit too open.

“Would you tell me your name?”

GM: The girl adamantly shakes her head.

Victoria: “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

A pause.

“Do I scare you?”

GM: The girl looks at Sylvia, then at Mary, who smiles encouragingly.

She slowly shakes her head.

Victoria: Sylvia smiles.

“Most people think I’m a little scary. You must have seen things that toughened you up, huh?”

GM: In fairness, she’s dressed in normal clothes rather than black leather here.

She’s Sylvia here.

The girl closes her eyes at the words ‘seen things.’

Victoria: She’s being playful, trying to open her up by lightening the mood. Even still, Sylvia is a forward person, and can be a loud personality. Even without the leather and chains, she can be intimidating.

“What’s your favorite food?”

GM: Anna agrees with that.

The girl hits an emoji on the phone:


Victoria: Sylvia rolls her eyes with emphatic delight!

“Ugh, I haven’t had a pizza in forever! Have you ever had a dessert pizza?”

GM: The girl shakes her head.

Victoria: “Maybe Mary’ll let me make one with you…?” she says, looking to her mother. “If I nab the ingredients.”

GM: “A desert pizza?” says Mary with amusement. “That sounds unhealthy, but I suppose it can’t be any more so than cake or pie.”

Anna and Sylvia know better there.

Victoria: “No, that’d be sandy. A dessert pizza. I made one with Anna when she came home after a really bad day. It was a lot of fun.”

Tasty, too.

GM: “Maybe one with some dried figs for desert,” laughs Mary. “That sounds tasty, though. You could make it a lot like a cake, I’d imagine, only you’d wind up with a lot more icing or toppings.”

“Mmm. No wonder you liked that.”

Victoria: “I have always liked sweets,” she muses to Mary. “We made it with just a few more sweets than that. Once in a while, it can’t hurt.”

Anna has been banned from sweets outside celebrations for the last two weeks.

“Do you like sweets?” she asks the mute.

GM: Too much of a good thing.

Too spoiled from their first days together.

The girl nods.

Victoria: “Are you a chocolate kinda girl, or something else?”

GM: The girl taps another emoji.


Victoria: She laughs.

“After my own heart.”

She hopes her mother doesn’t take that literally.

GM: Mary doesn’t seem to.

The girl abruptly stands up.

Mary rises with her and touches her shoulder.

“Do you want to leave?”

No answer.

“Will you say goodbye to Sylvie?”

The girl nods.

Victoria: “It was nice to meet you! I hope to see you again.”

She’s sure she will. Sylvia reaches to take her phone back from the table.

GM: The girl freezes in place. Her eyes are enormous and bloodshot.

She screams and flings her soup bowl at Sylvia.

GM: It hits her solidly, and painfully, in the forehead, sending her staggering reflexively backwards. Soup gets all over her eyes and face. She’s momentarily blinded. She can hear plateware shattering as Mary shouts, “ENOUGH!” over the girl’s screams.

Victoria: THUNK!

Sandwich halfway between her teeth, the half-full bowl of soup bounces off her forehead, tumbles down her shirt, skids off her lap and lands upturned on the floor.

A searing fire tears through Sylvia, and if not for the fact that she’s covered in lukewarm tomato soup, the girl would see a searing gaze hot enough to embrittle her very bones.

Sylvia is thankful for that soup. She draws a deep breath, calming herself.


She doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t move. She simply watches.

GM: Wiping her eyes clean of the tomato soup, Sylvia sees that the girl’s screaming features have gone completely still, like a flipped switch. She is silent as Mary takes her by the shoulder and leads her out of the room with an, “I’ll be back in a moment, Sylvie.”

The bowl does not lie upturned on the floor, however, but in dozens of shattered pieces. Tomato soup is all over Sylvia’s clothes, chair, and the floor.

“I’m so sorry for that, dear,” Mary says after she returns. She lightly touches Sylvia’s forehead with a mother’s critical eye. “You’ve got a bruise. Come on, the first aid kit’s still under the sink.”

Victoria: In, out. In, out. In. Out.




She brushes the soup off her forehead as Mary walks into the room, allowing her mother to be her mother. There’s no escaping Mary St. George’s nursing, so she doesn’t even try.

“It’s f-ow! It’s fine, Mom.”

She hisses. Yeah, that’s a bruise.

“It’s just a bruise. I’ll be fine. Do you know why she did that?”

GM: “It’s nothing she has against you, Sylvia. She is… unstable,” Mary merely says. “I think she would have done that to anyone. You did well with her, though it was a mistake on my part to introduce you. She isn’t ready for company yet.”

“Now come along. You’ll be finer with a bandage.”

Victoria: “People are going to think I went to war,” she protests, but follows. “It feels like I did. Ow…”

GM: “I’m sorry, dear,” says Mary as she leads Sylvia into the kitchen. “This was my fault. Now…”

She doesn’t take long to dab off Sylvia’s bruise with a cloth, then applies a bandage from the first aid kit.

“We’re definitely not the same size anymore, but you can borrow one of my shirts. I’ll wash this one and have it for you on Sunday.”

Victoria: Sylvia shakes her head.

“It’s not your fault, Mom. I should’ve known not to startle her grabbing my phone.”

She knows better than to fight her mother on laundry, too.

GM: “I don’t think it was grabbing your phone. As I said, she’s unstable. Something would have set her off. But the milk’s spilled.”

She puts the first aid kit away.

“You can pick out something you like from my dresser to change into, I’ll clean up out here.”

Victoria: “Thanks, Mom.”

She’d say she’s the best, but she already knows it, even when Sylvia fusses.

Sylvia heads into her mother’s room, thumbing through her clothes for something simple. She doesn’t want to leave her without some of her favorite wear.

GM: She finds a number of button-ups to choose from. Mary isn’t much of a fashionista, anyway. Her clothes are simple and practical. Sylvia knows that she buys her jeans from the grocery store.

Her mother’s cleaned up the spillage and broken platewear in impressively fast when she returns. She’s also ladled out another bowl of soup for Sylvia.

“With that excitement out of the way,” she says, “do you want to talk about Anna now?”

Victoria: She reseats herself at the table, dipping her spoon into the bowl. She almost finished the first, but as mothers always know, she’s still hungry.

“As long as she’s okay, yes,” she answers, looking toward the bedrooms.

GM: “She isn’t,” Mary says, matter-of-factly. “But with time she’ll get better, and it was nothing you did.”

Victoria: Her gaze lingers on the hallway to those rooms.


Mother always told her to spit it out.

“Is there anything you can do to help Anna find a place in education with one of the Christian schools you associate with?”

GM: “Oh. I’m very sorry, Sylvie,” she says, rubbing her daughter’s hand. “Catholic schools aren’t willing to hire homosexual teachers.”

Victoria: “And if they didn’t know…?”

GM: “Sylvie, you know that it’s wrong to lie,” her mother says gently.

Victoria: “Omission isn’t a lie, Mom,” she answers after a pause.

“You’ll really let her dream die? You can save her.”

GM: “A lie by omission is a lie,” replies Mary. Her voice isn’t accusatory, but neither does it waver. “If Anna was romantically involved with another woman and didn’t tell you, how would that make you feel?”

Victoria: Turned on, probably.

“Hardly relevant, and you know it.”

The fire flickers. She controls it.

“Anna is a good Christian. She’s a great teacher. She cares for her students. She leaves her personal life at home. She wears a smile to class every day. And she does. Not. Sin.”

Outside their house.

Unless commanded.

“She has more merit for teaching there than any of those slap-happy ruler-wielders.”

GM: “That may well be the case,” Mary replies without argument. “But Catholic schools choose not to hire homosexual teachers. It would be a lie for me not to tell them that Anna is in a homosexual relationship. Proverbs tells us: ‘The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy.’ Luke tells us: ‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.’

“If you would like, I can explain Anna’s situation to them and ask if they will give her an interview. I don’t think they are likely to. But it’s a shot you can take with a clean conscience.”

Victoria: Mary knows that tension building in her face.

The final offer—a concession, Sylvia knows—sates her.

“I suppose that’s all I can expect.”

GM: “This is part of why I am concerned for you, Sylvie,” says Mary. “I am concerned for your soul. If asking your mother to lie is acceptable, how many other sins will become so?”

Victoria: She isn’t helping. Sylvia simply stares.

GM: Her mother stares back. Not angrily, not confrontationally, but she does not look away.

Victoria: “When have I ever been a sinful creature?”

That she’s aware of.

GM: “That is a question I would ask yourself,” answers Mary, her gaze steady upon Sylvia. “Have you committed other sins since you began your relationship with Anna?”

Victoria: “The same rhetorical question applies again.”

GM: “My question isn’t rhetorical, Sylvie. It’s one I would urge you to consider, and strongly.”

Victoria: “My answer is.”

GM: “Is it one you would like me to answer?”

Victoria: “If it was one that needed an answer, it wouldn’t be rhetorical.”

GM: “I don’t appreciate your shortness of temper, Sylvia,” Mary says with a slight frown. “I would appreciate a thank you. I am doing something for you that I am normally not inclined to do.”

Victoria: She looks away from her mother.

“Thank you.”

It’s as pleasant as a bucket of icewater dumped over a shower curtain.

GM: Mary sighs faintly.

Victoria: She glances only halfway back, relenting as much.

GM: “You’re welcome,” replies her mother.

Victoria: Sylvia gets up without a word and walks toward the front door at a hurried pace.

GM: Mary watches her go with a sad look, but doesn’t stop her. Or call after her.

Normally, Sylvia leaves her mother’s house with food.

Victoria: The door doesn’t slam, but it isn’t gentle.

Normally, her mother leaves being told she’s loved.

Normally, Sylvia leaves feeling she is.

Saturday evening, 2 April 2016

GM: “So, how it’d go with your mom?” Anna asks over dinner that night.

Victoria: Sylvia gives her a look.

She hasn’t said much all evening.

GM: Anna leans over and hugs her.

Victoria: She returns the hug, half as strong as she’d usually, twice as strong as she feels she can, and exactly all of what she can give.

GM: “Geez,” Anna murmurs, holding her close and rubbing her back, “that bad, huh?”

Victoria: There is a pregnant pause before she answers.

“How much do you value your career?”

GM: “…why do you ask?” says Anna.

There’s a pause.

“I don’t want to hurt your relationship with your mom, if you locked horns…”

Victoria: There’s no subtlety. There’s no subterfuge. There are no games, nor manipulation, nor art to her speech as usual.

The words come out like vomit.

“If we break up, she’ll get you a job.”

GM: “…what?” says Anna.

Almost disbelievingly.

Victoria: “She’s going to tell them that we’re together, and then give your name. Those two-faced fucks will decline you on that alone. Or, you make the truth what it needs to be—that you’re not with me—and she’ll leave your relationship status out. She won’t take a middle ground.”

GM: Anna slowly blinks at that.

Emotions play over her face. Disbelief. Pain. Even some anger.

“But I love you,” she says, plaintively. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Red starts to creep into Anna’s face.

“Did she… did she seriously say, and try to make us pick…?”

Victoria: “You won’t become a teacher again in New Orleans.”

She doesn’t notice how badly she’s shaking until the words shake with her.

“No,” she spits. “She clung to her ‘faith’…” She makes air quotes, mocking. “…and set the same outcome. The same piss-poor excuse all of them given. They’re all about love, charity and forgiveness until you fail to meet any one of their irrelevant criteria. Love all God’s children, indeed.

She crosses the room in a heartbeat, wrenching open the liquor cabinet and producing a bottle of whatever-the-fuck, vintage right-fucking-now.

GM: Anna doesn’t stop her. The alcohol is hard and goes down hard.

Her girlfriend is still sitting in place when she gets back.

“Why do you say that,” says Anna, her voice thick. “That I won’t become a teacher. What does… what does your mom know. There are lots of schools.”

“Like, fuck her. What does she know? Why can’t I be a teacher?”

Anna’s hand starts to tremble at that question.

Victoria: “I’m not getting a call that you’re in critical care because some dumb nigger doesn’t understand that the knowledge is more important than the grade and took it out on you.”

She’s seen Sylvia angry before, but rarely this angry.

GM: Sylvia’s anger is no small thing to witness.

Perhaps, were it over any other subject, Anna would want to calm her down. Stay out of the way.

But her eyes are angry, too.

“There are… there are other schools!” she exclaims. “Besides McGehee, that aren’t shitty inner city ones! I can apply to those! That was always the plan, we don’t need her, we can do this without her!”

Victoria: Can they?

Sylvia doesn’t care. In those moments, Anna’s career doesn’t matter to her. Anna’s career is just the catalyst. She’s angry at the entire hypocrisy of the religion she’s been raised to covet.

She drinks again, draining several mouthfuls.

GM: It goes down as hard as the preceding mouthfuls.

Does it take the edge off?

Maybe a bit.

Anna waits as Sylvia drinks.

“What do you think,” she says, lamely.

Victoria: “I think.”

The bottle lands lightly on the table, tipping, but righting itself.

“I think we should go burn down a church.”

GM: “I’d be down for that.”

If the words are meant as a joke, they don’t sound very humorous.

Victoria: Sylvia lofts a brow. Even with the excuse of a wave of drunkenness about to hit, she isn’t sure that’s a good idea.

GM: “No. Not really,” Anna says glumly, looking down at her lap.


She sighs and looks up.

“Why? Why do they have to hate us?”

“Why can’t they just be happy we’re happy?”

Victoria: “Because they’re the most hypocritical group of people on the planet.”

GM: Anna doesn’t seem like she has any answer to that.

“I think that…”

She sighs.

“No, I don’t think. I’m scared. What’ll happen when we tell my parents.”

Victoria: “Nuclear war, probably.”

She reaches for the bottle, then decides against it.

GM: Anna looks little comforted by that answer.

“I’m scared they’re going to disown me.”

Victoria: She looks sideways at her girlfriend.

“Then don’t tell them. We’ll adopt six cats and you can use that excuse.”

GM: “But what about when…”

Anna trails off and looks down at her lap.

Victoria: “When…?”

GM: “When it’s not… possible to.”

Victoria: “Make a child?”

GM: Anna nods slowly.

Victoria: “Well, pray real fuckin’ hard. God loves heterosexual relationships, so maybe he’ll slap a fat cock on my forehead.”

GM: “Sylvie, I’m serious,” Anna entreats with a miserable look. “What do we do?”

Victoria: “Is your relationship dependent on having children? What if you never met a man again? Would your parents disown you?”

GM: “I want children with you,” Anna says, frankly.

Victoria: “Then we will adopt.”

GM: “I mean… with my parents. And my brother. Not how we get kids.”

Victoria: “You… want children with your parents and your brother?”

GM: Anna manages a strained smile.

“Sylvie, seriously…

Victoria: She seriously doesn’t understand what she means, and her expression reflects it.

GM: “What I’m getting at is… when we have kids. How do I not lose the rest of my family. I don’t want to.”

“But we won’t be able to hide it.”

Victoria: “Tell them you’re adopting as a single mother. Or tell them that this is who you are, and they can love you as you are, or…”

Or not.

GM: “I’m just scared,” says Anna. “That they won’t.”

“Do you think your mom still loves you…?”

Victoria: “There’s nothing I can say or do that will change them if they’re set in their ways, Anna. I can only promise that you’ll always have me to come back to.”


“Which is the problem.”

“A parent doesn’t love their child conditionally.”

GM: “What’s the condition?”

“And I guess you’re right, if they’re set in their ways. But you’ll always have me, whether your mom loves you or not.” Anna squeezes her hand. “I guess some part of me was just hoping the always in control domme could magically pull a solution out of thin air…”

She gives a halfhearted smile.

Victoria: She opens her mouth, then closes it. No, she won’t ruin the magic for Anna.

GM: “It’s okay,” she says, rubbing Sylvia’s shoulder. “I know you can’t make them accept me.”

Victoria: “I can only accept you where they don’t. Without condition.”

GM: “I know,” Anna murmurs. “That’s why I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Victoria: She gives her a quick kiss.

For the first time in hours, she feels a little bit better.

The alcohol helps.

GM: Drinking always helps.

Anna snuggles up against her and lets some time pass, seemingly not wanting to ruin the moment.


“Could you ask your mom not to talk to schools, please? I think it’d hurt more if she tells them I’m gay and asks for an exception than if I just apply blind.”

Victoria: “If you feel that’s best; though, if she hears you apply to any of her related schools, she’ll tell them anyway. That’s the Christian ‘honor code’.”

“I still want to go burn down a church.”

It seems a better idea now than before.

GM: Anna looks exasperated.

“Would she seriously do that?”

“That’s… sabotaging me.”

Victoria: “She considers lies of omission real lies, so…”

Anna is starting to understand why Sylvia was so angry.

GM: “Okay, well why you don’t you lie to her that I’m not applying to any religious schools anyway, so she doesn’t need to bother.”

Victoria: “I can do that.”

GM: Anna looks satisfied, at first, then a little guilty.

“I don’t want to make you lie to your mom…”

Victoria: “I don’t give a fuck. If she’ll betray me, I’ll betray her.”

GM: Anna looks away.

“I feel like I’m responsible for this.”

“You fighting with your family.”

Victoria: “No, she’s responsible for this. After over fifteen years, she decided to put a condition on her love. She set it back at Christmas, and now the wound is septic.”

GM: “What was the condition?”

“I remember you saying she didn’t approve, and how you wouldn’t hold hold hands at the table, but at least she didn’t kick me out…?”

Victoria: “Right. She’s fine with our sin, so long as we don’t spread it within her home, and she prays for our salvation.”

GM: Anna sighs.

“The worst part is how I’d take that as a win from my parents…”

Victoria: “Maybe two churches…”

GM: “Tempting.”

“Very, very tempting.”

Victoria: “At least one priest…”

GM: “What if we pretend I’m a priest tonight.”

“Helpless and you can do what you want to me.”

Victoria: “I like you alive.”

GM: “We can pretend you want to take your sweet time, then.”

Victoria: Sylvia cants her head this way, then that. She opens a drawer in the coffee table before them, takes out a pocket knife, and opens it.


GM: Anna looks at it, then up at Sylvia.

“With my life.”

Victoria: She takes the blade, and with the softest pressure, she drags it up Anna’s jeans, tapping it against her thigh.

“We’d start here…”

GM: Anna watches the steel edge trace along her pants, but doesn’t pull away.

“Because that’s a less needed part of the body, if you don’t cut an artery?”

Victoria: “Because it gives you something to worry about,” she answers, that predatory undertone coming through.

GM: “I know you wouldn’t actually cut off my leg, but damn if you can’t be scary with a knife,” Anna remarks with a nervous smile.

Victoria: “Oh no, that’d be much too simple.”

The blade travels up the inside of her thigh, brushing over her pubic mound and slowing beside her navel. Sylvia angles it such that the point isn’t flush with her, just in case Anna moves.

“Do you feel that inside you?” she asks. Her eyes betray a black pit of hunger. She isn’t just taking her sweet time, nor is she just making a point to Anna. No, she’s reveling in watching Anna’s reactions.

“That rush on adrenaline. That uncertainty That vulnerability. That submission. The knowledge that a simple flick of my wrist could change—or snuff out—your life forever.”

Tap, tap, tap goes the blade.

She removes it from her skin, watching.

GM: Anna keeps very still as Sylvia unzips her jeans and pulls off her shirt. Her clothes’ protection is more psychological than physical. She can’t seriously expect them to stop a knife. But there’s something about naked steel over naked flesh that’s so much more visceral. Actually feeling the cold, sharp metal against your skin.

Anna keeps very, very still. She takes small, measured breaths. Her eyes follow the knife’s edge.

Even if she trusts Sylvia, all it takes is one nick. One slip of the hand.

“You… you have the power,” answers Anna. “You have the power over me. You could… I’m alive because you decide it. I’m in your hands.”

Her eyes drift up to the black pit in Sylvia’s.

Is she surprised by what she sees there?

Her breath seems to catch just a bit more.

It’s as she said.

Her life, in Sylvia’s hands. Victoria’s hands.

Hers to keep. Hers to take.

Then the knife withdraws, and Anna lets out a breath she might not realized she ever took.

Her eyes seek out Sylvia’s again.

Victoria: Sylvia isn’t just her girlfriend, nor her long-time friend. She’s her goddess. She’s the keeper of her life, and the single force keeping her here.

She tosses the knife back onto the table, still open, and pulls Anna into a hug. Even with so short a bout of play, she knows the importance of conveying her love.

“You don’t want me to pretend to take my time, because there’s an element that isn’t pretending,” she finally answers Anna’s request while she strokes her hair.

GM: The longtime domme is no stranger to the purpose of aftercare.

Anna gladly hugs her back. There’s a relieved and grateful energy to the hug. It’s an assurance-seeking hug.

A submissive hug.

“I knew you never would… but I wondered, when I looked in your eyes. Was that wrong…?”

Victoria: She strokes her chin.

“Was what wrong?”

GM: Anna rubs her head against Sylvia.

“Wondering, if you would.”

Victoria: “I don’t think it’s wrong. I think it’s self-preservation, but… That is a not-terribly-uncommon way into edgeplay. Usually with a fake knife.”

GM: “So we can say we were more hardcore,” smiles Anna.

Victoria: “We can say your girlfriend goes too far in toying with the idea.”

She winks, taking her hand.

“Now come on. I want a massage.”

GM: “Yes, mistress,” Anna smiles again.

Saturday night, 2 April 2016, PM

GM: The massage is nice.

Going to sleep together is nice.

The prospect of calling her mother in the morning is less so.

Anna makes a show of retrieving and presenting the phone from her hands and knees, but it’s like a spoonful of sugar to make the bad-tasting medicine go down.

“Like I said, I really don’t want her calling up a bunch of Catholic schools and telling them I’m gay…”

Victoria: It’s like being woken up by a puppy dropping their bowl on her head.

“You’re right, you’re right… now shhh…”

She strokes her hair, pulling her back into bed, and dials her mother.

GM: Anna smiles and nuzzles against her.

“Will you take me on a walk next…?”

She trails off, though, when Mary answers, “Hello, Sylvie.”

Victoria: “Mom.”

GM: “I’m glad to hear from you. How is your head?”

Victoria: Bruised.

“Fine. It was only a bowl.”

Launched by a teenager that should be recruited for the major leagues.

“Are you alone?”

GM: “I’m glad to hear that, too. I am.”

Victoria: “Look, I’m just going to be direct: I don’t think you should talk to anyone at schools about Anna if you can’t leave our relationship out of it. It makes you uncomfortable, and I think it’ll only disservice her.”

GM: “All right, Sylvie. I won’t talk to them about her,” says Mary.

Victoria: “And… I’m sorry.”

The words pain her.

GM: “I’m sorry, too,” Mary says quietly. “I’ve never wanted there to be pain between us. But you know that I’ll always love you, dear, no matter what.”

Victoria: Conditionally.

“I know, Mom.”

GM: “You and your siblings are the most important people to me in all the world. All I’ve ever wanted is for you to be happy and fulfilled.”

“I know we disagree on some things. Please understand it’s borne out of love and concern for you.”

Victoria: “I know where it comes from, Mom. You only want what’s best for us.”

It doesn’t stop her rolling her eyes.

GM: Anna silently watches.

“I do,” says Mary. “With all my heart.”

“I know we disagree on what is best. I’m sorry that’s caused us pain. But I will never, ever, stop loving you.”

Victoria: “I know, Mom. I know.”

GM: “I’ll still see you for dinner tomorrow?”

Victoria: Yes Mama, you will."

GM: “That makes me very happy to hear,” smiles Mary.

“All right. I have to get going now, the girl you met needs me. I love you, Sylvie.”

Victoria: She wishes her well, says she loves her, wishes her a good day, and hangs up.


GM: “I guess that went okay,” says Anna, rubbing Sylvia’s shoulder.

Victoria: “Better than I hoped it would…”

GM: “Yeah. I mean, I’m still mad she won’t help me get a job. But that is a better conversation that I think my parents would’ve had.”

Victoria: Sylvia shrugs, tossing the phone down to the bed.

“The world isn’t fair.”

And it never has been.

Sunday night, 3 April 2016, PM

GM: “So… any hints on the upcoming surprise?” Anna asks innocuously.

She’s done all her chores. Cleaning. Vacuuming. Dishes. Laundry. Cooking. She does them anyway, but without any sass or bratting, this time around. She’s made something new every night instead of leftovers.

She’s been very good.

Victoria: “Hints? No, no hints. You’ve done so well, but I need to see something…”

She swirls her hand, searching for a thought.

“Something more.”

GM: “Something more,” says Anna. “What sort of more?”

Victoria: “Something… promising.”

GM: “Promising,” Anna repeats thoughtfully. “Hmm. Interesting word choice.”

Victoria: She simply stares, waiting.

GM: “What time will you be home tomorrow, do you think?”

Victoria: “La…”


Always late. Buying Chakras on top of continuing to see clients promises to keep her very busy.

“I’ll make time. Picnic?”

GM: Sylvia has good memories of picnics.

“At home would be better, actually. There’s only so promising I can make a picnic.”

Anna looks thoughtful.

“Or at least one in public.”

Victoria: Sylvia lofts a brow.

“I’m fine with public.”

She planned to do the cooking, too. How contradictory.

GM: “Whatever Mistress says,” smiles Anna. “I can show that promise later.”

Victoria: Tap, tap, tap goes her finger.


GM: Anna stands to attention, but doesn’t drop the smile.


Victoria: Tap, tap, tap.

“Are you happy?”

GM: Anna looks a little unsure where this has been going, but nods emphatically.

“Yes, absolutely.”

After a moment, she adds, “With you, that is. With things between us.”

Her face falls a little.

“Obviously I want to teach again… I really want it to be summer so I can apply to schools already.”

“I hate just waiting like this.”

“Sitting around until I find out if I can live my dream again or not, you know?”

Victoria: Obviously she wants to teach again. Obviously she wants her career back. Obviously she wants to follow her passion. Obviously she wants not to wait and see. Obviously she knows the dungeon isn’t for her. Both inflict pain. Both enable growth. Both teach. Only one is happy with their path.

But they’re happy with each other, and Sylvie knows that that’s enough to keep Anna going. For now.

“I know,” she says, pulling the teacher into a light hug, running her fingers through her hair. “We’ll find a way.”

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Previous, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria III
Next, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria V

Story Fourteen, Victoria III

“Do you want to run your own house of sin?”
Émelise LeBlanc

Tuesday morning, 29 March 2016

GM: It’s in late March that Sylvia hears: Chakras has burned down. Some idiot with a fire-related kink let things get out of control. Or the dungeon’s less than stringent safety practices caught up with them. No one dead, thankfully, but the BDSM community are shaking their heads.

Victoria’s business is continuing to do well, though. Very well. Anna’s a good secretary and general aide. It’s freed Vic to focus more on expanding and satisfying her client base.

Perhaps that’s why Victoria gets an invitation from a woman named Émelise to discuss a business proposition “regarding the local S&M community’s future” over dinner at Leblanc’s, a nice Creole restaurant in the Quarter.

Victoria: Sylvia is the happiest she’s ever been in those few months. She ensures Anna has a much work that isn’t ‘busywork’ as possible; but, much of what she has is busywork. She does offer here and there to let her take up a riding crop at work.

She has half a panic attack when the invitation arrives. Anna becomes a victim to the hug that follows. There are no survivors.

“What do I do?! What do I wear!?”

GM: Anna is happy for Sylvia. Very happy.

But she is waiting for summer, to get back to being a teacher.

She prefers to receive the crop over wielding it.

“Welllll, is it a business thing, primarily?” says Anna. “Maybe go with something safe, that could be fun or bondage or business…?”

“Um. Whatever that is.”

Victoria: Sylvia already knows what she’s wearing.

What she’ll be expected to wear. The outfit is the first test. If she can’t earn Émelise’s interest, how can Émelise trust her to earn anyone else’s interest?

“I think… I have an idea.”

Wednesday evening, 30 March 2016

Victoria: Sylvia has only a little while to prepare, and she spends every moment fretting. What if she makes the wrong choice? What if she slips up? What if she isn’t judged worth? What if, what if, what if, what if, what if…

Even Anna seizes her by the shoulder to talk some common sense into her.

She isn’t attending dinner.

Victoria Wolf is attending dinner.

“Act like it,” says Anna, in a startlingly accurate rendition of Sylvia.

She steps out of the Ryde Black—as even your arrival matters in this world, she knows—and moves with pointedly languid strides into the restaurant.

The woman that steps into the restaurant is the picture of sophisticated confidence. Her hair is pulled into a stylish bun, silver earrings dangling from her ears. She wears a satin blouse the color of spilt merlot, tucked into a pair of slacks cut for an office setting, but that which hug legs. The outfit sits atop a pair of heels, where function gives way to form.

Once inside, she approaches the hostess and gives the her Émelise’ name.

GM: Leblanc’s is a nice Creole restaurant along Royal Street. Business casual is the dress of the clientele. Lighting is soft and subdued. The building looks old, or at least decorated to appear old; establishments are known to exaggerate that fact to attract more tourists. Rare is the establishment that can turn them aside completely. The hostess is smiling and polite, and tells her quietly that “Mistress Émelise” will see her in a private dining room.

The woman waiting at the table is the caramel-skinned domme who destroyed the other half of Greg’s manhood with her. She has on a dark red dress and greets Victoria with a knowing smile.

“I thought we’d run into each other again, Ms. Wolf.”

“Everyone at Chakras was so sad when you left. But doesn’t every great have to strike out on her own?”

Victoria: A spark of surprised recognition breaks through that iron mask. Her lips curl into a faint smile.

“Mistress… Émelise,” she greets the woman, pausing intentionally, a recognition of their relative roles.

“I’ve never had a decision as tough as deciding whether to stay or take my chances; but, as you said, and it’s only those who take risks that become anything that matters.”

She settles into the chair across from the domme, back straight, hands clasped, elbows off the table, and eyes forward. Victoria Wolf may be one of the predominant predators in the New Orleans BDSM scene, but there’s always a bigger creature. She knows her place and the expectations therein.

GM: “In the BDSM scene or anywhere,” Émelise agrees. “Chef Gino wouldn’t have become famous if he’d stuck at Commander’s Palace forever.”

A waitress approaches the two with menus. Émelise waves her off with, “My usual.”

The woman makes pleasantly idle conversation with Victoria until their food arrives. There are three courses. The other domme’s starts off with crawfish tails with velvety white wine & tomato cream sauce, cayenne, and green onion.

The smiling man who gave Victoria her first interview also re-appears with a leashed sub. The other man wears a leather hood that completely conceals his face, although no gag. Gloves and cuffs render his limbs useless. The first man secures his leash to the table’s leg. The sub lies down on his back and opens his mouth.

“You can get rid of any leftovers there,” smiles the other domme.

Victoria: Victoria orders whatever Émelise’s usual is, trusting her to guide in a place she’s never been, and open to something new in the worst case.

She acknowledges the smiling man. If not for his guidance, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

Her shoe brushes the sub’s cheek; a gentle stroke with a soiled sole.

“If it tastes as delicious as it smells, the only morsel he’ll receive is the dregs on my fork at the end.”

GM: The sub whines.

“Then I guess he’ll go to bed hungry,” says Émelise, raising the first crawfish to her mouth. “Poor boy.”

Victoria: “I’m sure we can find him something to eat,” purrs Victoria, taking her own first of the meal. She removes her toe from his face.

GM: The sub makes a grateful-sounding noise.

“So I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent fire,” says Émelise.

Victoria: “An unfortunate accident, I imagine?” she asks, lofting a brow. They both know that it could just as easily have been an accident as a vengeful client returned for blood.

GM: “Extremely unfortunate,” says Émelise between bites of crawfish.

“Both for its effects and its timing. I’m already in the middle of opening a new club. This isn’t a good moment for me to rebuild Chakras—financially, or in terms of simple time and commitment.”

Victoria: “You have my utmost empathy, Mistress Émelise,” she answers, twirling a side plate of pasta onto her fork.

“If there’s any way I can help, or temporarily offer my services…”

GM: “Oh, I don’t expect charity,” says the other domme. “It’s not practical for me to rebuild Chakras, at this point. So I’d like to sell the land and what’s left of the building.”

“That could be to you, if you’re interested.”

Victoria: She chokes on a sip of wine, but manages not to spray Émelise. In lieu of swallowing, she spits the dregs into the sub’s mouth.

“You want to sell me Chakras?

GM: The sub moans and strains against his tether, mouth open wide to receive her leftovers.

“It’s a bit of a fixer-upper,” laughs Émelise. “The building was gutted by a fire. If it were easy or cheap to rebuild, I’d be doing that myself.”

“So at this point I’m cutting my losses, and selling to someone who’s in a better position to take on that sort of project.”

Victoria: Sylvia is in complete shock. Chakras? Hers? Her very own dungeon? Even ripped apart by fire and being nothing but a blackened husk—or so she envisions—it’s still fucking Chakras!

“I thought the sentimental value alone would make it priceless to you.”

Her voice is soft. Where until that revelation she was carefully curated, now her shock leaks through.

“I’m honored that you’d consider me to rebuild it, but I have to ask: Why me?”

GM: “Because you’re a successful independent domme who used to work for me,” says Émelise. “I’ve had a few prominent names use you as a reference.” She winks. “Nice job with Weiss, by the way.”

Victoria: “Weiss? I thought he’d never tell!”

She thrust her finger up through the air, swirling it.

GM: Émelise laughs.

“Telling wasn’t his first choice either, but I required a reference. You really did leave him hungry for more.”

Victoria: “I could have used him for storage by the time he left,” she grins.

GM: “I don’t doubt it,” Émelise declares confidently.

“Anyway, Chakras. Maybe you want to own your own dungeon and have other people working for you. Maybe you want to open a nightclub or a bar or a bowling alley for all I care.”

The other domme rolls her shoulders.

“It’s not my first house of sin. It wasn’t my only house of sin. I enjoyed it, but in the end, it was a financial investment that’s no longer worthwhile for me to maintain.”

Victoria: She turns her face toward a more somber note.

“Do you remember your first?”

GM: “My first what, client?”

Victoria: “First client. First club. What made you decide to break out on your own.”

GM: “Mmm… you could say it was a series of things. I was in the escort business before I found my way to BDSM.”

Victoria: “Really?”

She speaks with a note of interest, but not surprise. No, BDSM is just one outlet for those climbing the pyramid of whores. Sylvia is lucky to have found a path in through the window.

“And look at you today,” she muses. “All right. You knew I would be interested or you wouldn’t have called me here. Did you have a price in mind? Of course, I’d like to see the damage before anything is signed.”

GM: “Naturally,” says Émelise. “We can do it after dinner’s over, if you’re still free.”

Victoria: “For you?” she asks, smiling faintly. “I have until the sun tells us to go home.”

GM: Émelise laughs again between one of the last of her crawfish.

“I doubt the tour will take that long. Though come to think, day might actually be a better time. There aren’t any functioning lights in the building anymore.”

Victoria: Sylvia agrees with her and offers her her schedule for the next few days.


Thursday morning, 31 March 2016

GM: The next day, Émelise meets her shortly before noon to show her around what’s left of Chakras. It’s badly damaged by fire, as she described, but the building’s frame is still essentially intact.

Victoria: Victoria lets her know that she’ll have an inspector come with her. She isn’t concerned so much with Émelise conning her so much as understanding the scope of any structural damage, which is far more risky and expensive to fix. It was hammered time and again during several of her graduate classes.

GM: Victoria is told that an inspector will be available two to three weeks after she submits the required forms.

The bureaucrat she speaks to heavily insinuates that a cash bribe could speed that up to several days.

Victoria: She makes a quip about the world being more efficient if the requisite bribe is posted on their website, but agrees to pay a reasonable sum to ensure they’re available sooner.

When she arrives, it’s with an inspector in tow, who she gestures to go off and do their job while her and Émelise talk.

“I remember this!” she murmurs, bubbling excitement under that calm. She stops where the reception desk once stood.

“The day you had me take the front desk when Serena called in sick, and that tubby little shit walked in drunker than most tourists and tried to order a fucking pizza! Whatever happened to him, anyway?”

GM: The inspector heads off, seemingly happy to do his job after money’s changed hands.

“Oh, we had fun with him,” Émelise says idly. “I think he spent the night in a cage. He was very frightened to wake up behind bars. I don’t think he remembered much.”

Victoria: “Ha… memories. I don’t know where I’d be today if I didn’t decide I wanted to learn a little more. I figured I could earn what I needed and take some of the fun bits home to my boyfriend.”

She shrugs.

“I’d probably be sitting in an office lamenting how long CAD drawings take to render.”

Sylvia wanders over a room.

GM: The blackened building looks pretty badly gutted. The former engineer well knows that the temperature of fire can cause the affected parts of the building to significantly expand—more than the amount for which they were designed to do. This kind of movement and expansion is likely to result in cracking or structural damage.

“That’s what the lifestyle does, isn’t it?” smiles Émelise. “Gets people to expand their boundaries. Whether they’re dominant or submissive.”

Victoria: She has her suspicions over how bad the damage is, but she’ll wait for the inspector’s report before casting judgment.

“Helping people better understand themselves is what keeps me in the business. Well, and the money.”

She brushes ash of a crippled hunk of metal. It was a table, once.

“When was the last time you played the submissive role?”

GM: “I don’t think that’s why you’re in the business,” grins Émelise.

“Did the chair understand herself any better after you had fun with her?”

Victoria: Caught!

Sylvia flushes crimson.


GM: “Or Greg.”

Victoria: “…ah, yes, Meatball did have a name, didn’t he?”

GM: “I don’t know, Meatlessball seems more fitting now.”

Victoria can still remember his screams.

But also her own.

Victoria: She shivers.

“It looked more like a meat patty.”

She snorts, shaking her head.

“Mistress, may I ask you something?”

GM: “Feel free.”

Victoria: “Chakras is—was—void of safety, both for the victims physical health and for use of a safeword meaning anything. What I’ve come to understand from other dungeons and most of the internet world is that that’s… uncommon.”

Translation: it doesn’t happen.

“Why? I can surmise an answer, but I’d like to hear it straight from you.”

GM: Émelise laughs.

“Go visit more dungeons.”

“It’s less uncommon than you’d think.”

“As to why, it helps the worthy to grow and become more than they are. And the unworthy can still serve their pleasure. That’s all there is to it.”

Victoria: Has she strayed too far from the shepherd’s teachings? Is her penchant for security and safety in those she dominates wrong? She pauses.

“I see.”

GM: Émelise just smiles knowingly.

The two spend a little more touring the building, or what’s left of it. Victoria thinks she recognizes some of her devices. Steel, at least, is more resistant to fire than drywall. The inspector gives his assessment. There is structural damage, and worse than it looks. This was an exceptionally hot fire.

Still, like anything, enough time and money can fix it. It’s still prime real estate in the heart of the Quarter.

Victoria: Victoria is disappointed to hear of the depth of structural damage, but it’s what she expected to hear. It’s not just a perfect location in the heart of the Quarter. It’s Chakras! It’s fucking Chakras, and she can own it if she says yes.

She’s excited, and she wants to leap for joy and let her mind dream of all the possibilities, but she keeps it reigned in. No, Émelise is an ally, but she’s also a predator. She wouldn’t have gotten where she is today if she isn’t capable of tossing an innocent into oncoming traffic, and so Sylvia is mindful of the cost to come. She won’t be taken advantage of.

“It’s unfortunate, how thorough the damage is.”

GM: “Yes,” agrees Émelise. “But then, it’s why I’m selling in the first place. Too much time and trouble for me to rebuild right now.”

“So what do you think?” she asks. “Do you want to run your own house of sin?”

“It’s a wonderful feeling, to have other dominants subordinate themselves to you.”

That’s what Greg thought, too. Laughing over how much he loved to tame dommes.

Victoria: Greg earned his place.

“I think you know the answer to that,” she smiles. “And that this is entirely due diligence and pleasant conversation.”

GM: “Then let’s talk figures,” Émelise smiles back. “I’ll get you a marketing packet with the property valuation and other info, and we can get a broker to draw up something in writing.”

Victoria: She nods, holding out her hand.

“I’ll look forward to it, Mistress.”

GM: So that happens. Émelise’s broker comes to Victoria with an offer, which includes the following: price, terms, earnest money, bank financing, seller financing, assignment, due diligence period, closing date, utility charges, seller’s disclosure, promissory note, deed of trust, etc. The broker says he’s there to facilitate the negotiation process to ensure that both parties get what they want.

Émelise is selling for a bargain rate, given Chakras’ damaged state. There will obviously need to be extensive repair work. But the land is still worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Victoria doesn’t have enough money to afford this out of pocket. That’s just the nature of commercial real estate. She’ll need to negotiate with bankers to help finance the deal.

Or, Émelise says, she’s willing to sell for even lower. But Victoria will owe her for it.

Victoria: “I wouldn’t dream of pressing you below a fair value,” she says at the offer. “So long as the offer is still fair for you, I’ll accept a marginally lower rate in place of a favor or two.”

Or four.

She’ll still need a loan. She’ll still be in debt. However, a debt to the powerful can be a boon, too, and she intends to use it to help their relationship blossom.

Sylvia clarifies a single restriction: that her favors owed must only involve her.

GM: “I can’t ask you to ask someone else to lend me a cup of sugar?” asks Émelise.

Victoria: She smiles a faint smile.

“Mistress, I only want my family left out of whatever favors you might ask. As little time as we’ve had together, I feel that I know you. Somewhat.”

She straightens her jaw, not quite tense, but certainly more serious.

“I won’t try to presume that your asks have conditions I control. Not after what you’re doing for me. Ask what you will, and I will do everything I can to sate you.”

GM: “That’s just what I love to hear,” smiles Émelise. “And don’t fret, I’m sure that anything I might want from your family I could just as easily get from somewhere else.”

“Besides, what family?” she laughs. “I wasn’t aware that Victoria Wolf had any.”

Victoria: The only answer she receives is a smile.

Thursday afternoon, 31 March 2016

GM: Jordan takes Victoria’s money and eventually reports back that the job is done. He has pictures, some better than others, of Adam (who looks pretty out of it) getting fucked by two trashy-looking black prostitutes. They’ve trashed his house, too. There’s drugs, shit, and vomit all over the place.

Victoria: Victoria makes some amused, at-his-expense comments, taking the pictures and thanking him.

Thirty minutes later, he’s more familiar with tricks he didn’t know Victoria knew, and entirely convinced she can tie knots with her tongue.

She makes an appointment with Christina to deliver the evidence.

GM: Jordan sure seems to think he’s come out ahead in the transaction.

Christina meets Victoria at another restaurant that evening, alongside a third person. She’s a buxom-figured woman in maybe her early 40s with wide hips, ample breasts, and wavy auburn hair that falls past her shoulders.

“This is Jill,” says Christina. “She has contacts in the media that can ensure these pictures get disseminated.”

Victoria: Victoria orders a drink. She hasn’t been very hungry the last few days.

“Victoria,” she introduces herself to the woman, offering a firm handshake.

“Lovely. Thank you, Jill.”

She’s sure that there’s some bill unmentioned. Christina probably took care of it.

“What about the man himself? Has he given any word to the police? They’re not going to let it go, but they aren’t going to be stupid about it.”

GM: “I presume you mean Adam?” says Christina.

Victoria: “Unless you’re toying with the lives of multiple m—”

A pause passes. Of course she is.

“Yes, Adam.”

GM: Jill smirks at her first statement.

“Don’t be silly,” snorts Christina. “A priest tell a bunch of police that he broke his vows? Too many chances of that getting leaked to the press.”

“The Malveauxes are more likely to deal with their problems internally,” says Jill.

Victoria: “I’m sure more than one altar boy will pay for his transgressions.”

She should call Jordan and ensure they didn’t leave any clues behind. Maybe later.

“And for our next performance…” she muses.

GM: “I’d advise waiting,” says Jill. “Two incidents of this type in quick succession will have the family even more alert.”

Victoria: “Probably. It doesn’t mean we can’t plan.”

GM: “Who would be your next choice?” says Christina.

Victoria: “We should probably stray from prominent politicians…”

“…and from murder.”

GM: “That’s a what, not a who,” laughs Jill.

Victoria: Victoria thinks for a time.

“…what about Westley? Even the dead can still bring shame to a family name, if the right ‘facts’ come to light.”

GM: “It’s not impossible,” says Christina. “Lord knows they were covering up his scandals left and right when he was alive.”

“If anything, his death benefited the family.”

She looks thoughtful for a moment.

Jill laughs.

“That’s not impossible, either,” says Christina.

“Few things are,” says Jill.

Victoria: “What do you know about his scandals?” she asks Christina.

GM: “Enough to doubt the official narratives, for one,” she answers with faint amusement.

Victoria: “Go on…” she says, sipping her tea.

GM: Christina looks at Jill.

“Are you new to this, duckie?” asks the other woman, smiling.

“You look young. You’re certainly pretty.”

Victoria: Victoria gives her a look, neither an admission nor petulant defiance.

GM: Jill’s smile doesn’t drop, though it turns a shade more knowing.

“Let me give you some advice,” she says. “Sitting at the big girls’ table will depend on your ability to find things out for yourself.”

Victoria: She takes the advice in silence. It’s appreciated, and clearly received.

“Is there a line the two of you won’t cross?”

It’s a genuine question.

GM: Flint dances in Christina’s eyes.

Anna lost her job.

Christina lost a loved one.

“Probably not,” says Jill.

Victoria: And so she begins.

“We can continue in line with ruining their connection to the church. Gabriel is found drunk with an abused, innocent altar boy, who also has alcohol in his system. Wouldn’t it be tragic if Gabriel wasn’t cautious with how much he gave the child to drink? If he died?”

She shrugs.

“One stroke—forgive the pun—severs his future both with the cloth and his father’s vision of politics.”

A pause passes, and she holds up a finger.

“Poor Virginia can’t handle her cousin’s inner nature coming out. The pressure of family, Gabriel’s actions… It’s all too much. Who would have seen the suicide coming?”

GM: Christina considers that.

“It wouldn’t need to be an altar boy. Evidence of homosexuality alone would finish his future with the family. It’s put Caroline on the outs from what I’ve picked up.”

“Someone’s been digging,” smiles Jill. “There’s been nothing about her in the tabloids.”

“No, there hasn’t,” says Christina. “The Malveauxes are obviously trying to keep it in the family. That’s another avenue to explore, though outing Gabriel would hurt the family worse.”

“The three kings have only so many male heirs,” Jill nods. “Just him and Luke, with Adam a priest.”

“The idea with Virginia is stupid,” says Christina. “Why would she kill herself over her cousin?”

“It’s moot,” says Jill. “Not in the city anyway.”

Victoria: She shrugs.

“So forget Virginia. Homosexuality is easier to pursue than an altar boy.”

Said the gay.

GM: “Yes, it is. A minor would throw criminal violations into the mix,” says Christina. “On the other hand, an older man using Gabriel as a bottom would be a terrible look for the family.”

Victoria: Victoria lofts a brow, a ghost of a smirk breaking her stoic expression.

“All right. Older man. Black? Why not make it worse?”

GM: Jill laughs. “In for a penny, in for a pound.”

Victoria: Tap, tap, tap go her fingers.

“The alcohol angle would work, but would remove his agency somewhat. As would simple pictures. Hmm…”

“I had imagined them being walked in on, but nothing would stop him claiming innocence and rape. Then again, that’s what he’d do anyway.”

GM: “Yes, it is,” says Christina. “It doesn’t matter. The family’s still in a terrible spot if evidence gets publicly leaked.”

Victoria: “As in, if our senior black friend were to upload the video to SexHub, and…”

She looks to Jill.

“…the media caught wind of it?”

GM: Jill laughs again. “SexHub or wherever else. The source doesn’t matter, as long as the video’s real.”

Victoria: “Wonderful. I’ll dig into my cabinet of morally questionable, elderly, homosexual black men and get back to you when the veritable eclair has been creamed. Unless there’s anything else, ladies?”

GM: “I don’t think so,” Christina says dryly. “Call us when you’ve found someone, or if you run into complications.”

Friday morning, 1 April 2016

GM: The next weeks promise to be busy, busy, busy for Sylvia—or, increasingly, Victoria—getting her new business up and running.

Once she signs the dotted line, they begin the due diligence process. The broker facilitates the process to provide Victoria with the information she needs, while ensuring that no one knows the building is for sale until the deal is closed. Émelise says she “prefers not to advertise” the details of her business transactions to the public.

Then there is the building inspection. Victoria has already brought an inspector. The inspector needs to come by again, along with an engineer, appraiser, general contractor, and various sub-contractors. Bribes are necessary at various points.

Then comes negotiation with bankers. Victoria has to put together a professional marketing package, like she’s the one selling something—which she is—to convince bankers to finance the deal and the building’s repair. Bankers like it when they have all the information they need presented in an orderly manner, Émelise says.

There’s more backroom dealing there, too. Émelise is already selling Chakras to Victoria at a discount, so bankers don’t need to finance as much. That will help, says Émelise.

“But so can fucking them,” smiles the older domme. Victoria is fairly new to the world of banking and finance, but Émelise seems like she’s done this sort of thing a lot with her assorted businesses. She lays out several bankers they can approach:

There is Paul Simmons, who works for Fidelity Bank. He does “unspeakable” things in bed. Émelise says that Christina Roberts and Channelle Riqueti refuse to hire out their girls to him—no amount of money will change their minds. Victoria has heard of Simmons’ name, herself. She knows he is unwelcome in the “mainstream” BDSM community and that many dommes likewise refuse to take him as a client.

The St. Johns in the French Quarter are the local branch of the larger St. John family. They own a regional private investment bank and are rich perverts with a reputation for deviancy. They mostly avoid the public BDSM scene, too. Émelise says they prefer to keep their appetites behind closed doors, but assures those appetites are quite insatiable. They don’t enjoy the same black reputation as Simmons, though Émelise still laughs at the thought that mainstream BDSM practitioners could “keep up with them.”

Whitney Hancock Bank is another regional bank with a presence throughout the South. Émelise says that one of its board members, Warren Whitney, has a taste for escorts and sadomasochism. His tastes run “more mainstream.” He could go to a public BDSM club without getting kicked out—though given his family name, he likewise prefers to keep things behind closed doors. The Whitneys are old money and don’t want to wind up in the tabloids.

Finally, there’s Bank of Columbia. They’re a corporate monolith with a branch presence in New Orleans. Émelise doesn’t have any contacts at the bank. They will treat financing her purchase of Chakras like a standard business transaction, no sex involved, if Victoria doesn’t want to find and seduce a banker there. They’re probably the most vanilla option.

Indeed, Émelise seems to have listed these contacts from most to least deviant. The more deviant, Émelise says, the more money Victoria can expect to save—if she can satisfy the bankers’ urges.

She’s also, of course, free to approach multiple bankers and request smaller sums from each.

Victoria: Busy, busy, busy. Between a girlfriend in need of constant attention—or so she feels, and not to a detriment—due to a budding relationship and interest in her new place as a submissive, the business she has already, and the sudden influx of new possibility, Sylvia hardly has a moment to herself. She feels like the busiest woman in New Orleans, and she revels in it.

Success takes time.

Though she has her opinions on each, she stows them in the back of her mind and weighs the cost and merit of each.

The thought of Paul Simmons brings both curiosity and revulsion. If no one in the BDSM community will work with him, there’s a reason for it. Victoria Wolf might be a budding star in New Orleans, but she’s not the most depraved name in the business, and she knows it. If she knew more about him, she might entertain the possibility. Alas, she does not.

The St. Johns are somewhat more palatable, but only in so much as a washed slug is more palatable than one off the ground. She wrinkles her nose at the thought, but moves on for now.

Whitney Hancock might just be the goldilocks zone of bankers. A reputable name. Reasonable tastes, if rough. A desire to be kept out of the tabloids. It’s perfect for her; though, he’s a business man through and through. He won’t crash his business for a night of raunchy fun.

Bank of Columbia is a last resort. Victoria Wolf deals in people, not faceless entities.

After taking the time to think over the options while she makes herself a cup of coffee, she returns to Émelise, seemingly still pensive.

“I have my thoughts, but I’d like to pick your brain on them.”

She sips.

“…Simmons. No loan is worth getting myself killed, or permanently scarred. What’ve you heard about him? I’ve heard rumors, but nothing concrete.”

GM: Busy becomes Victoria. That’s what Émelise says. Even Anna says so, too.

She’s happy to see her girlfriend’s hard work paying off.

But even when it pays off, as Victoria can now well attest, success still takes time and toil.

“He was banned from Chakras, and the other places I own,” says Émelise. “His money isn’t worth the trouble he could bring.”

Victoria: “Banned… because of something he did there? Or on rumor?”

GM: “Let’s simply say I know his tastes,” smiles Émelise. “He’s unpredictable. Sometimes all he wants is a blowjob or missionary.”

Victoria: Victoria lofts a brow.

“I’m impressed by your penchant for secrecy even with a client you never intend to see taken again.”

GM: Émelise simply laughs at that.

“He still takes partners, though. Men like him always find a way.”

Victoria: She grunts.

“…right. So you’d recommend I pass on him.”

GM: “He’s not worth it as a $500 a session customer. Financing a sale this large, though, could be another story. He’ll probably give you the best rate out of anyone, if you think the risk is acceptable.”

“If you do, I’d take precautions to ensure your safety that don’t rely on his goodwill.”

Victoria: “Precautions like…? I don’t think I’ll be able to reach for a gun if he has me tied up.”

GM: “Precautions that don’t leave you at his mercy. You’re a bright girl, I’m sure you can think of ways to do that.”

Victoria: She smiles faintly.

“The St. Johns don’t carry quite the same dark name, if similar tastes.”

GM: “The St. Johns are better at keeping it behind closed doors. They don’t hunt for new victims, like Simmons does.”

Victoria: “Mistress, I’d like you to answer one question honestly about Simmons.”

“Just one.”

GM: “Ask.”

Victoria: “Has he killed a girl?”

GM: “I’ve never seen him do so. But it wouldn’t surprise me.”

Victoria: She clicks her tongue. Nope. Not worth the risk.

GM: “He hosts play parties, sometimes. You might’ve heard of the ones up at Audubon? They’re his.”

Victoria: “Heard? Yes. Had the pleasure? Declined politely, for reasons discussed. I like my lips attached to my body.”

GM: “I suspect he doesn’t kill most of the girls he fucks, of course. Even he couldn’t get away with leaving a big enough trail of bodies. But for a ‘special’ occasion, with a girl he’s sure won’t be missed? I could see him doing it.”

Victoria: Victoria would be missed. That’s comforting.

GM: “No, I’m sure he’s done it, if he really thought she wouldn’t be missed.”

What would Anna do, if she never came home?

Her mother?

Victoria: "The worst you’ve heard the St. Johns do?

GM: “Necrophilia.”

Victoria: “That’s it?”

“I’m less concerned with them wanting cold pussy than making it that way.”

GM: Émelise regards her question with amusement.

“I haven’t heard of them murdering girls. Just doing things that would make amateurs blanch.”

“It’s easier for an amateur to say they’re into extreme things than to actually do them.”

Victoria: Victoria gives her a coy smile.

“Try me. What’s the worst you’ve done?”

GM: Émelise laughs at that.

“Oh, we need to work our way up to that, Ms. Wolf.”

“But as far as something to tide you over, well, I fucked my father.”

Victoria: That earns an inquisitive expression, but one with no judgment therein.

“That is a story for a glass of wine,” she answers, but leaves it at that. If Émelise isn’t entirely aware of Victoria’s curiosity in her—and there’s been plenty of evidence for that, both years ago and today—she is now. Victoria wants her, if only for an hour. Probably more.

“The St. Johns sound like a bundle of fun, if they’ll respect rules; which, I don’t expect them to do. Curious. Both them and Simmons are good friends to have if they see you as a repeated source of fun, I imagine; and if they see you as a renewable resource, I imagine they’re less likely to want to ruin you in one session.”

She thinks on that for a moment, tapping a midnight fingernail on the table.


GM: “What’s the worst you’ve done?” Émelise asks.

“Or something to tide me over, for now.”

Victoria: “Greg might be the cruelest I’ve been, but he wasn’t a client.”

Still, she savors the memory as much as she reviles it.

“The thoughts I have around you are, well…”

She allows that to remain unfinished; an implication and a mystery, both. Let Émelise follow the bait if she desires.

“Two brothers visited me over the winter. Previous college football players. Married. Conservative values. I made them finish into a pair of shot glasses, gave each the other’s, and told them to mix it without using their hands. They’ve never been closer than that.”

She pauses to drink, if only for effect, and smiles.

“They spat it into a bottle of textured wine and gave it to their mother for Mother’s Day.”

GM: Émelise smiles and sips her drink at the mention of those thoughts.

She laughs aloud at the story about the brothers.

“How delicious. There are so many stories about sisters getting fucked together. Or mothers and daughters. Why is it never brothers, or fathers and sons?”

The question sounds more rhetorical than anything, though, as she chuckles to herself.

“So did they both request a session together? Or did you talk them into that?”

Victoria: “We always talk them into more than they desire, because we know what’s best for them.”

She winks.

GM: “Truer words never spoken,” declares Émelise.

“As to your question, I think your assessment on the St. Johns is correct. They’re fairly slow to let new playmates into their circles, for a variety of reasons. But I imagine they’d be good friends to someone they fully let in.”

Victoria: She asks, quite serious, “Would I be in over my head if I take Simmons?”

GM: “As for Simmons, I think much of the fun for him lies in ruining his playmates. Still, he doesn’t ruin everyone who shows up to his play parties, or to the ones he’s invited to. So he can behave himself, if he’s sufficiently motivated.”

“Simmons is a risk. Whether you think he’s worth it is up to you.”

Victoria: She drums her fingers on the table, looking away.

“I find the prospect of taming the problem child enticing for attracting future prospects.”

GM: Émelise laughs.

“Oh, my dear, you won’t tame him. Let’s be clear on that.”

“I’ve never heard of him looking for a dominant partner. Exclusively submissives.”

“Everyone has it in them to be a switch, of course… but that’s not something I’d gamble on with a first meeting.”

Victoria: “When a zookeeper tames a tiger, it isn’t with a whip. It’s with food, and with respect. It’s not that I expect him to bend over and call me mommy. It’s that I hope to paint him such a promise of what I can bring him that he comes to me for his meals.”

GM: Émelise smiles.

“Just keep the whip handy, in case he gets any ideas about what his next meal is.”

Victoria: “Do you ever feel the need to bring security to a potential client?”

“Do you visit them in their homes?”

GM: “They usually come to me.”

Victoria: “Over and over again, I’m sure.”

GM: “Yes,” she agrees, casually, as though it’s a basic fact.

“I don’t think Simmons would appreciate the presence of security.”

Victoria: “He wouldn’t appreciate being dissuaded from his meal, but I don’t intend to be eaten. Sampled, maybe.”

She taps a finger to her lip.

“…it’d be symbolic to fuck him in Chakras, in a way. In its current state.”

GM: “Yes, it would be. Though good luck with that too.”

Victoria: She snorts.

“I can think of three reasons why it wouldn’t work. What’s yours?”

GM: “More freedom in how he plays with his food at home.”

Victoria: “I don’t think it’s a good idea to visit him in his home without a sacrifice.”

GM: “Smart girl.”

Victoria: Victoria is unhealthily focused on the promise winning over Paul might present. In other ways, being associated with him might damage her further. Maybe.

She sighs.

“Tell me it’s a terrible idea. You’ll get your loan no matter who I choose.”

GM: “I’d sooner let you make the decision yourself.”

“You’ve heard my thoughts on the various bankers.”

Victoria: She groans. The stress is easily apparent.

“Tell me about Whitney.”

“Would he ask me to wear a clown suit?”

GM: “I’ve not heard of a client requesting that before, but I’d believe anything in this business.”

“Whitney’s into fairly standard BDSM, from what I hear. Probably nothing you haven’t done before.”

Victoria: “Whitney is a client I’d like. I think, for this, I’ll go with the St. Johns.”

GM: “Have fun,” smiles Émelise.

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Previous, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria II
Next, by Character: Story Fourteen, Victoria IV

Story Fourteen, Victoria II

“I made a deal and they reneged on it, and killed my niece in the process.”
Christina Roberts

Monday evening, 14 March 2016

GM: One Shell Square is New Orleans’ tallest skyscraper. It’s imminently due to be renamed the Whitney Hancock Center, after they relocate their corporate headquarters to the building, but it might be a while before people stop using the old name completely. The Corner Club is in its basement. One Shell Square is one of the comparatively few buildings in New Orleans to even have a basement, thanks to the CBD’s rockier ground.

The club’s interior is best described as subdued. Soft multichromatic lights illuminate the silhouettes of dark figures. In contrast to the wildly spinning and scintillating lights at French Quarter dance clubs, the Corner Club’s are stationary and reflect a graduating color palette: yellow by the bar, orange in an adjacent corner, magenta in the one next by, and indigo at that spot’s neighbor. People’s faces are visible up close, but dark and hard to identify from farther away. Background music is soft, relaxing, and only half-audible against the low murmur of conversation. There is no central dance floor. Most patrons are parked at the bar, reclining on comfortable-looking leather seats, or secluded in private alcoves or meeting rooms. Most wear business or business casual attire. Ages range from yuppies to parents to grandparents.

Marcus Marrow greets Victoria warmly when he sees her. He greets everyone warmly, though her perhaps more so than most. Still, she’s not here for him tonight. Christina Roberts has missed their last several get-togethers. She’s here tonight, though. Parked at the bar and nursing a drink with a sour look.

Victoria:Marcus,” she purrs, resting a hand upon his forearm and standing up on her toes to kiss his cheek, a glint of warm fondness in her eyes.

“It’s been far too long.”

It hasn’t been long; but, then it feels longer than it is once Victoria Wolf enthralls your attention, doesn’t it?

“Unfortunately, we won’t be remedying that problem tonight. Another night, perhaps?”

She doesn’t say when. Poor boy.

GM: “Another night,” the handsome club owner agrees amiably, raising her hand to kind in turn.

Is there disappointed longing in his eyes?

Yes. Yes, there is.

Maybe he could have some say when, if he paid her hourly rate.

But that’s just crass, when she’s seeing you outside of work.

Victoria: She’s already taken enough to make it worth her while, time well-spent aside.

She looks around, spotting Christina at the bar.

“Til then, my dearest.” Her fingertips grace his chin, then leave him wanting and cold.

GM: So very wanting.

Victoria: She arrives at the bar, stealing a stool from Christina just as a man arrives, likely to accost her for a phone number.

“Christina,” she breathes, as if the woman is a gift.

GM: The man glowers at Victoria and heads off.

Christina glowers after him.

“Thanks,” she says rotely, taking another sip from her drink. She’s a handsome, 40-something woman who wears her age well. She has long brown hair that falls to her upper back, matching eyes, and faint lines around her mouth that give her face a slightly sad, or at least contemplative expression. Or at least when she’s not looking as sour as she currently does. She’s dressed in business casual.


Victoria: She looks at the bartender, taps the bar, points to Christina’s drink, then holds up two fingers.

Two more of whatever that is.

“My, my. I haven’t even had time to bug you yet and you already look at me like that.”

GM: The bartender gets started on Victoria’s drinks.

“I’ve had a death in the family,” Christina says frankly.

Victoria: Her lips part in shock, her hand following.

“Christina… I’m so, so sorry. What was their relation?”

GM: “My niece,” answers the madame in the same hard tone. “My sister’s daughter.”

Victoria: She touches Christina’s forearm gently.

“You have my most sincere condolences, Christina. You’re a dear friend. If there’s anything I can do…”

GM: Christina looks her over thoughtfully as the bartender slides over her drinks.

Victoria recognizes her. Becca Flynn, one of Channelle Riqueti’s occasional escorts.

“Dead is dead,” the madame answers. “There’s not much to be done.”

“How’s work?”

Victoria: Still, she gives her a sympathetic look and brings a drink to her lips, sipping.

“Productive. Riveting. It’s something to fill the dreams of those who… Well, you very well know.”

She isn’t going to allude to anyone. It’s their silent agreement.

She offers Christina a somber look.

“Do you need to talk? We can go somewhere more quiet.”

GM: Christina’s happy to talk about what clients do with girls. But she never gives names.

“Our drinks aren’t empty yet,” she observes. “Maybe then.”

“How’s the one who wants his mommy to say she’s proud?”

Victoria is pretty sure that Jordan savors that more than the actual sexual release.

Victoria: Victoria snorts.

“Babe, you could flip open a phone book and you’d have touched at least 6 names that fit that description.”

GM: “The real question is which half are seeing you or my girls,” Christina says dryly.

She sips her drink.

“Has your girlfriend had any luck finding another teaching job?”

Victoria: She gives a coy smile.

“Variety is spice, and all of that. Anna… Has not. I worry for her if she doesn’t find some outlet for her dreams, but I worry more if she thinks about teaching in the slums again.”

GM: “You can’t teach that class of people,” says Christina.

Victoria: Victoria looks like she can’t decide whether she wants to laugh or kiss her.

GM: “I’ve had a few girls from that sort of background. They’re driven and hungry. They’re also a minority. Diamonds in the rough.”

Victoria: “Clearly someone finds them desirable, or they wouldn’t be in your employ. Though, desire is as much a craft as it is a gift.”

GM: “They’re only desired, at least by my clients, after they’ve cleaned up and learned how to speak. I’ve coached them. You wouldn’t know they were from the Ninth unless they told you.”

“Regardless, that’s unfortunate for your girlfriend.”

Victoria: “How long does it take you? On average.”

She doesn’t answer the comment on Anna yet.

GM: “I coach all of my girls, to some degree, so it’s more of an ongoing thing. They’d already risen above their backgrounds just by going to college.”

Victoria: She smiles, sipping from her drink to fill the pause.

“An ongoing miracle worker,” she teases. “As for my girlfriend, she’ll live. I hope. I’ve filled her time with other activities and other avenues for feeling valuable, but it’s not the same as what she wanted to do. I suppose I could open a school myself…”

GM: Christina raises an eyebrow. “That’s not the sort of thing someone does as a side project.”

Victoria: She shrugs.

“I don’t anticipate it would be, though I don’t anticipate I would be more than funding it. More musing about the idea.”

GM: “Careers don’t always work out. I thought I was going to be a lawyer.”

Victoria: “I thought I was going to build space ships, or ride them.”

She shrugs.

“Now I live the American dream.”

GM: Christina makes chatter about assorted topics for a while longer. The recent death among the Malveauxes, very sad; hopefully they don’t have enemies. The pair’s drinks eventually empty.

“I’m going to stretch my legs at Lafayette Square, if you’d care to join me,” she declares, setting her glass down.

Victoria: Something in Christina’s question piques her warning sensors.

“Sure, I could go for a walk.”

She places a tip on the counter.

GM: Christina does likewise and exits the club. A low drizzle falls overhead. The madame retrieves an umbrella from her car.

“I heard about Anna’s firing,” she says. “Scapegoat, wasn’t she, to placate the girls’ families before the NOPD did anything about Gettis?”

Victoria: “Exactly what she fucking was,” the dominatrix hisses, huddling with Christina beneath her umbrella.

“I managed to connive an extra week’s severance out of them, but they’d hear nothing of reinstating her place, nor even a good word for a future employer.”

GM: “No, I imagine they were putting in a bad word,” says Christina, making her way down the street. Pedestrians pass them by, some with their own umbrellas out. “The Devillers, Whitneys, and Malveauxes went to a lot of trouble to ruin everyone connected to their daughters’ arrests and shootings. The involved NOPD officers have all been fired or demoted.”

Victoria: “They’re going through an awful lot of trouble to ensure word never gets out about what happened,” she says through a sideways glance.

GM: “That what happened, some idiot girls got themselves into trouble?”

Victoria: She lofts a brow, but remains silent.

GM: Christina waits expectantly.

Victoria: “So they say. There’s always more we don’t hear. Do you know?”

GM: “Do I know what?”

Victoria: “What the ‘more we don’t hear’ is.”

Her words are hushed enough that the rain covers.

GM: “Speak plainly,” says Christina as the pair reach the park. “I doubt that any of the club’s Malveaux eyes and ears have followed us out.”

“I suspect I know more than most about the events of that night, though.”

Victoria: She glances back toward the club, verifying for herself that no one followed.

“I can’t promise revenge, but those events affected me, too. You must want revenge for what happened.”

GM: Victoria doesn’t see anyone among the press of pedestrians.

Christina raises her eyebrows.

“And I thought I was to the point.”

Her gaze darkens.

“Yes. I do. I made a deal and they reneged on it, and killed my niece in the process.”

Victoria: If Victoria still had her drink, it’d be all over the bar.

She stares.

“…do you have a close place?”

Even the rain is too open.

GM: “We’re safe enough here,” says Christina. “But your or my car, if you’d prefer.”

Victoria: “Mine. It’s a few blocks back toward the club.”

GM: The pair walk back and get in.

“She said Ms. Perry was one of her favorite teachers,” Christina remarks. “Engaging, enthusiastic, and appreciative of her knowledge.”

Victoria: “She’s one of the best teachers ever to grace this city, and it’s a crime that she’s taking the fall.”

She clenches the armrest in lieu of punching the wheel.

“So, what can we do? I don’t have the resources to fight every wealthy family in the city at once. Not in a public fight.”

GM: “More than the fall,” says Christina. “I know how these families operate. They don’t want her to just get another job. Strong probably spoke with other principals at the city’s better schools and recommended against Anna’s future hiring.”

Victoria: “But why? As a show of good faith to the families? Is this all some warped yubitsume metaphor to sate them?”

GM: “Because Abélia Devillers, Lyman Whitney, and Vera Malveaux all sit on McGehee’s Board of Trustees. They blame Anna for what happened to their daughters, and there was a while in between their daughters getting shot and Gettis getting shot. So they set out to ruin the life of someone they could get to. They tell Strong to put in a bad word with other principals, so of course she does.”

Victoria: This time, she does punch the wheel. She does not, however, hit the horn.

GM: “It’s consistent with what’s happened to the involved NOPD officers. And Amelie. They want everyone they think was involved to suffer.”

Victoria: “All because some girls goofed off in a haunted house? That feels a bit harsh.”

“Not that it’s any less true.”

GM: “Because those girls were arrested at the haunted house, got shot, and almost died.”

Victoria: “Why were they shot? It doesn’t make any sense.”

“I recall seeing the news days later. Hell, Anna got the phone call right next to me as we were watching.”

GM: Christina shrugs. “I could care less. They blamed Amelie. I made a deal with the Malveauxes in good faith to stop this from completely destroying her future.”

“Now she’s dead. I want payback.”

“I imagine you do too, for Anna being blacklisted from her career.”

Victoria: “They took one life, ruined one, and lessened many others. I want them to suffer.”

GM: “They don’t yet know that I know. All the same, you’ll have a freer hand to move against them than me. They dealt with me. I don’t know if they even know abut you.”

Victoria: “They don’t know that you know… what? That your niece is dead?”

GM: “Yes.”

“They disposed of her body. There won’t be a funeral.”

Christina’s jaws clench.

Victoria: “You’re not serious.”

She wouldn’t joke in a conversation like this.

“How did she die, Christina?”

GM: “She was sent to OPP’s male ward. I imagine that had something to do with it.”

Flint dances in the madam’s eyes.

Victoria: Victoria pales.

GM: “I have no idea how she died. She could have been gang-raped to death for all I know.”

Victoria: “Wait… Amelie? Anna mentioned her before. She is your niece?”

GM: “Yes. The girl at the center of the LaLaurie House fiasco, and used as the scapegoat for everything there.”

Victoria: Her poor steering wheel. The cold, collected woman is boiling over and slopping fire all over the car.

“I hope you have a way to collect the names of those who allowed her in there. Police. Judges. Lawyers. Whoever the fuck.”

GM: “None of them were involved in her going to the house. Just the bullshit sentencing for drug charges that should have stuck to the rich girls.”

Victoria: “Every face that watched her go from sentencing to the male ward is just as guilty,” she spits.

GM: “You can’t just send female inmates to the male ward. That’s illegal. Someone went to a lot of trouble, and paid their share of bribes to sheriff’s deputies, to ensure she wound up there.”

Victoria: “My point exactly.”

She rubs her hands over her face, drawing in a breath, holding it, and releasing.

Calm, Victoria. Calm. This isn’t 5th grade, and you can’t go punching cops. Not if you want to strap more than one to a table.

GM: “The best revenge on these sorts of families is destroying their reputations,” says Christina. “They have deep enough pockets to win any legal battle, but you can’t buy reputation. Easily, anyway.”

Victoria: “And how would you suggest we ruin their reputation? We’re two small fish in a very large sea.”

GM: “We deal in reputations. With every client we, or our girls, see. With every dirty and sordid detail we keep out of the public eye, we protect our clients, and they feel safe coming back for more.”

Victoria: She gives Christina a look.

“The moment we open our mouths to ruin one, we’ll be found facedown in the Mississippi.”

“We have to do it without it being traced back.”

GM: “Yes,” says Christina. “They don’t need to destroy us. Just convince our clients we aren’t discrete. Then our businesses evaporate.”

Victoria: “You know as well as I that the moment we’re fully discredited, we’ll disappear. Point remains the same.”

GM: “Disputable, but irrelevant, insofar as both are undesired outcomes.”

Victoria: “Well… We have piles of dirt, and no ability to use it. How would you suggest those secrets come out?”

GM: Christina thinks. “Get other dirt. Get something bad enough on one family member and put the squeeze on him for dirt of another variety. Leak that out through someone else.”

Victoria: She breathes a long sigh.

“We are so dead.”

A pause.

“They can’t get away with it.”

GM: “No. They can’t.”

“They won’t.”

Friday afternoon, 18 March 2016

GM: It’s another few days before the pair meet at a crowded restaurant to discuss plans, at Victoria’s request. Christina thinks it’s better to avoid meeting at the Corner Club for such talk.

Victoria: It’s better not to plan the bear’s demise in its own den.

The pair take a wooden table in the corner, ensuring they’re readily able to spot any eavesdroppers.

“We’ll have to be cautious about how we approach this if we want our own lives not to go down with them.”

GM: Christina orders drinks and appetizers to start off.

Victoria: Victoria sticks to water.

And a plate of wings.

GM: “Naturally. What did you want to discuss?”

Victoria: “The first domino. Our goal is the families themselves, but targeting them would be foolish; so, we’ll target peripheral names or less prominent members, find something about them, and use that leverage to pry something out against the major names. Do you have a preference on which family is first?”

GM: “The Malveauxes,” says Christina. “I don’t see the Devillers or Whitneys being the direct hands behind Amelie’s death.”

Victoria: “Explain.”

GM: “Modus operandi. Connections.” Christina waves a hand. “The Malveauxes play dirtier.”

“They are also the most vulnerable now, in many ways.”

Victoria: She listens intently.

“Ways such as…? Why?”

GM: “Orson had his heart attack. You don’t recover from that easily, at his age or weight. Claire’s and Westley’s death have been all over the news. Frankly, I’d already suspect foul play, with two Malveauxes dead in one year.”

Victoria: “You think?”


GM: “Every so often,” Christina answers dryly.

Victoria: Victoria produces a notepad and paper, setting it between the pair. On the page is a list of all living Malveaux members, with a myriad of lines and scratched notes judging them on numerous categories.

“We need a target. I’ve been going over what I know about each, which is minimal. I think… We need to consider a crossroad between how likely one is to have left problematic information, and how likely they are to be damaged by it.”

GM: “All of them have skeletons in their closets,” says Christina, looking over the notes. “That’s just the nature of those families.”

“Dirty laundry can always be manufactured if there’s none within easy reach.”

Victoria: “Right. The elder members would present greater risk but carry dirtier laundry, while the heirs and heiresses would present perhaps less damaging potential, but be less risky for us to toy with. Hm.”

GM: “Not necessarily. Westley had more vices and dirtier laundry than anything his parents personally got up to.”

Victoria: She drums her fingertips on the table.

“Savannah… is an option. I have a relationship with her, but I respect her.”

A pause passes.

“Which Malveauxes are you aware were involved in what happened?”

GM: “If you mean Amelie’s death, I don’t know.”

She pauses as their server arrives with the drinks (one alcohol, one water) and a plate of crispy grilled chicken wings.

Christina trades brief pleasantries with the woman.

“If I had to guess,” she resumes after the server leaves, “one of the Devillers or Whitneys asked one of the Malveauxes, who passed down the order to Roger Ferris, who possibly passed the order down to one of his agents, either of whom got someone else to do the deed inside the prison.”

“It could have been Abélia or Lyman asking Orson or Matt or Claire. It could have been Abélia asking Cécilia to ask Luke to ask Orson or Matt or Claire. It could have been Abélia or Lyman asking Caroline to ask Orson or Matt or Claire.”

Victoria: Victoria takes her own smallplate, loading a pair of chicken wings onto it—one drumstick, and one wing.

She tents her fingers.

“Curious, that. Why do you suspect the asking ended inside the Malveaux family with those three? You mentioned the trio twice. Only one of those three in each is alive. I wonder if the third has a target on their back.”

GM: “What are you talking about? Claire is the only one who’s dead.”

Victoria: She shakes her head, swallowing a lump of chicken.

“Sorry—victimized. I speculate as to the organic nature—or lack thereof—of Orson’s heart attack.”

GM: Christina waves a hand in dismissal. “You can’t induce heart attacks in people. He’s old and fat. I can believe that easily enough.”

She looks at Victoria for several moments.

“You’re young. You’re new to this world. So I’ll explain how these things work. Ferris is an employee of the Malveaux family. I don’t know who he works for on paper or where he specifically draws his salary from, but Orson, Matthew, and Nathan control the family’s purse strings. They make the family’s major decisions.”

“Someone your age, like Luke or Caroline or Savannah, can’t just order Ferris to go kill people. They don’t pay him. They aren’t his boss. If they think it’s in the Malveauxes’ interests to carry out blatantly illegal acts that carry a minimum of life without parole if someone gets sloppy, they have to go through their parents. Even if Abélia or Lyman approached a younger Malveaux, one of the three kings—or Nathan’s proxy in Claire—would have to sign off on it.”

Victoria: “Not in a moment’s notice,” she muses.

Still, she listens to the woman intently. She is the protégé in the business.

“I see. That makes more sense. I apologize for my… inexperience.”

She draws a breath, wishing this meeting was scheduled for one of their homes instead of a public restaurant.

“That still leaves us with the whole damn family to sort through; though, we don’t need revenge on specifically the one who made the order to have our revenge.”

She thinks for a moment.

“Luke. What do you know about him?”

GM: “His family’s golden boy. Recently engaged. A wonderful life and bright future ahead of him, by all appearances.”

Victoria: “Someone to be protected. Any unfortunate mistakes?”

“…including his wife-to-be?”

GM: Christina gives a sour look.

“If I had dirt on either of them I’d have done something with it by now.”

“Nothing I know of. Cécilia’s even more of a goody two-shoes than he is.”

Victoria: She drums her fingers, thinking.

“Do we tarnish the golden boy, or move on to another?”

The question is only half to Christina.

GM: “His tarnishing would hurt the family. That would be of some satisfaction.”

Victoria: “Do you see another that would bring you more satisfaction? They took your fucking niece, Christina.”

GM: “You think I don’t remember that?” Christina snaps, her eyes flashing.

“If I knew who was directly responsible, you think I wouldn’t have named them instead?”

“I don’t know. I’ll take my satisfaction from whatever hurts the family as a whole.”

“The golden boy. Fucking sure.”

Victoria: She meets that fury, unyielding, but pressing her no further toward anger.

“We’ll start with the golden boy, then.”

Because he won’t be the only one.

“But how to do so…”

Tap, tap, tap.

“…his wife? That may be a bit direct.”

GM: Christina gives a sour look and starts on a wing.

“I could care less whether it’s subtle or direct. So long as they don’t know who’s behind it.”

Victoria: The pair go back and forth over the course of their meal, with Victoria going through each of the Malveauxes and what she knows about them, for what little there is. In the end, she seems to be focused on a pair:

Luke, the golden boy, who would be symbolic to ruin. He’s the shining star. The bright future of the Malveauxes. He’s not half bad to look at, either.

Adam, the future archbishop.

On the latter, she continues, “Is it too cliche to catch him with underage choir boys?”

GM: “Yes,” says Christina. “He’s young. Around 30. Pedophile priests are usually older. I’d find it more believable if he broke his vows fucking a woman than molesting a little boy.”

Christina thinks that both of them are good targets, though. They’re the only adult males of their generation. Both of them will succeed their fathers and uncles some day.

Victoria: “Not if we’re successful,” she muses between sips. A margarita appeared somewhere during their discussion.

GM: Christina’s ordered entrees. Hers is pan-seared something (Vic doesn’t catch what) over a bed of green and yellow vegetables with dollops of sauce.

Victoria: “All right… women.”

She pauses to look at Christina, who has no shortage of that. But using Christina’s girls would present them being traceable back, which would sink both of them.

“We can’t seduce him, obviously. Nor can we have any of ours do so. How, I wonder?”

GM: “Third party, obviously,” says Christina between a bite of asparagus head. “Someone who can be trusted to keep her mouth closed.”

Victoria: She lofts a brow. Third party is the obvious answer. She knows that much.

“How many families damaged by this whole conspiracy have a young woman that might be thirsty for revenge?”

GM: “None, unless you know of ones that I don’t.”

Victoria: “Slim chance on that.”

“A bribe won’t work. Any bribe we can make to a prostitute can be dwarfed by that family. Threats, perhaps? Mm, no…”

Think, Vic. Think.

GM: “You’re quick to dismiss both of those means out of hand.”

Victoria: “Would you like to explain why I’m wrong?”

GM: “A bribe from the Malveauxes to do what? The deal I’d make with a prostitute, or some other woman, is simple. Sleep with this man, take this money. Done. Another day on the job.”

“If this hypothetical woman goes to the Malveauxes with this plan and without any proof to substantiate it, what is she doing? Gambling they’ll believe her, some random low-life. Gambling they’ll choose to pay her for unsubstantiated information. Gambling they’ll pay her as much as I will for a finished job.”

“Does she even know how to get into contact with the Malveauxes? Does she expect to just walk up to Orson’s estate and get let in? If she doesn’t, does she know what employees of theirs to approach and where to find them?”

“All of that is a lot of maybes and extra hoops for something outside of her typical line of work. Sleep with the man, take the money. That’s familiar. People prefer familiar.”

Victoria: “It’s much more simple when you present it that way. The ‘what if’ that gives me concern is: what if they find her and try to pay her to admit who hired her? Do prostitutes often try to seduce priests of their own volition? If I were a Malveaux, I’d be suspicious. Especially when Adam comes home claiming he didn’t initiate.”

GM: “Is there? How do they find her? Is she so stupid as to give Adam her real name?”

Victoria: “If she is?”

GM: Christina makes an exasperated sound.

“So you make sure she’s not. You interview her. You go over the plan together. Including fake names.”

“Fucking hell. You dye her hair and drug the man, if you really want to cover your tracks.”

Christina gives Victoria a flat look.

“What do you bring to the table?” she asks bluntly. “What help are you?”

Victoria: She snorts.

“I suppose we could just black bag him and take pictures of him being fucked, if we really need to.”

GM: “Why do I need you?” Christina repeats.

Victoria: "Because we’re better off in this together than alone, Christina, and whether I’m a criminal mastermind planner or not, I’m not going to fuck up the execution and I’m not going to sell you out; and,I did suggest both targets along with why, and provide the option of black-bagging, drugging and taking pictures. "

She holds a pause, appraising how her words are taken.

“Sure, you could do all of this yourself. You’d probably be successful. You’ve been playing this game almost as long as I’ve been alive. Work with me and you’ll be better off.”

Her expression softens.

“I know you’re angry, Christina. I can’t imagine the pain you feel right now. If you want to take your anger out on me to feel better, fine, we can do that a bit later, but let me help you now. They deserve all the rage you have, but I need your patience.”

GM: Christina’s scowl abates, partly, at Victoria’s words.

“If you’re in, you need to pull your weight. I presume this is your first time doing this sort of thing. I can’t hold your hand the entire way. There is much less room for error than keeping a middle manager’s wife from finding out he’s getting his needs met by someone else.”

“Now. Adam. Who would you bring in to do the job?”

Victoria: She takes her time, thinking. She isn’t entirely sure it’s the right answer, but it’s sound to her.

“If we want someone to fuck him, we use a third party agency. Paid cash. Tell them we want to give our friend a good time and he’s a little shy. Take pictures from afar of him conversing with them, or better pictures still if she managed to fuck him. If we want to black bag him… I’ve got a favor I can call on. Someone reliable.”

She hopes.

GM: “No agencies,” says Christina. “An outlaw.”

Victoria knows that’s an independent prostitute who doesn’t work for a pimp or madam.

“That’s chancy, though. Seducing a priest. Some of them do take their vows seriously.”

Victoria: “Outlaw works. But I think we’ll have a much better effect recording him passed out in bed with a prostitute than otherwise. So… kidnapping.”

GM: “Yes. Who’s the friend?”

Victoria: She lofts a brow, looking briefly to a passing waitress. Once she’s gone, she answers.

“Deputy in my pocket. Leave it at that for now.”

GM: Christina takes another bite of her greens.

“I’ll say this. A prostitute might not be able to seduce a priest, but there’s a lot fewer ways that could go wrong than a kidnapping attempt.”

“Is your deputy going to fuck this up? Will he go off on his own half-cocked? Will he refuse to listen to good advice? Does he have an inflated sense of his own importance?”

“Because I’ve worked with those kinds of people. Never again.”

Victoria’s heard all about Emmett Delacroix from Christina.

Victoria: “The deputy? He’ll listen. I can see that much. I don’t imagine he’ll be who we’ll be working with, though. He’ll provide me some references.”

GM: “If you’re getting a reference, he won’t know what for,” says Christina. “The less he knows, the better.”

“If he does know what the reference is for, then you won’t meet the reference. He’ll be your intermediary.”

“The more intermediaries between you and Adam, the safer we’ll be if something goes wrong.”

Victoria: She nods. “I think it makes sense to inform him as to what we need done, but not who it will be initially. Yes?”

GM: “Are you meeting the deputy’s reference or using the deputy as your go-between?”

Victoria: “He’ll be the go-between.”

GM: “Until your deputy has a name, his reference can’t set up the kidnapping.”

Victoria: “…fair point. Yet it seems an easy slip-up point to give the name immediately.”

GM: “What do you expect him to accomplish before he knows who the target is?”

“If you mean to have him find a specific kidnapper before saying it’s Adam, then sure. You don’t want him shopping around with every thug from the gutter telling them that he wants to kidnap Adam Malveaux.”

Victoria: She nods at the latter.

“That was my thinking, yes. I’d rather not have word get back to Adam that he can expect a mouthful of chloroform and a dark van.”

GM: “I don’t see word reaching his ears from some gutter thugs. Blabbing about planned illegal acts is just bad general practice.”

Victoria: “Still, as you said, better not to have the name broach lips until we’re sure of our candidate. Trouble avoided and all that.”

GM: “Then that finishes our Malveaux business for tonight, if you had nothing else to go over.”

Victoria: “No. I’ll call you when it’s arranged. Thank you, Christina.”

GM: “The pleasure is all mine.”

Monday evening, 21 March 2016

GM: The pleasure is all Jordan’s too, after his latest visit with his “mommy.”

He prefers aftercare. Cuddling. All part of the experience after he climaxes. He lies against Victoria with his face on her breasts, looking like the most content little boy in the world, apart from how he isn’t a little boy.

Something is wrong with this man, Victoria is fairly certain, but that describes more than a few of her clients.

Victoria: It describes almost all of her clients. Her fingers trace lines through his hair, her breathing soft, a gentle hum emanating from her throat.

“My boy…”

GM: “Mommy…” he murmurs back, nuzzling his face against her tits. Victoria well knows he could do that forever, or at least until their booked time ends.

Victoria: He could do that forever, but this session has a purpose beyond money.

She takes his face in her hands, turning his chin up without removing him too far from what he loves.

“Mommy needs a favor, Jordan.”

GM: His eyes find their way up to hers.

His nose and mouth don’t.

“What’s that, Mommy?”

Victoria: She taps his nose.

“A very, very serious favor. The type of favor that won’t be mentioned outside trusted company, and that may earn you… some free time? Or cash… or something else, hmn?”

Her expression loses a modicum of its curated softness.

“Do you understand?”

GM: He smiles at the tap if Victoria’s finger.

His own expression loses a modicum of its own childlike regression. He looks like he’s listening closely.


Victoria: “I need someone taken. Just for a bit. Ideally, without messing up that pretty face of his. After all, we want some pictures taken of him having a thoroughly good time. Drugs. Girls. The dream, hmn?”

GM: “You’re the dream,” says Jordan. He delivers the line like he’s saying something deep.

Wit has never been one of his strong suites in their time together.

“Okay. Who and how much?”

Victoria: She kisses the top of his head as if he really is her son.

“The who will be made known once you have someone in mind who you can trust to have it done right. I don’t want my name or likeness attached in any way to this. You are my middle man.”

GM: His eyes swim at that tender kiss.

“Well, I mean,” says Jordan. “I could do it. You can trust me.”

Victoria: “Mmmn, yes, but you know me. I wouldn’t want my dearest boy in danger, and you wouldn’t want me in danger… So… I’d like you to pick the person you trust most to do it right. Or persons.”

GM: “Oh,” says Jordan at that explanation.

“Well, okay. I know some guys.”

Victoria: Her fingers splay over his cheeks, cradling him.

Some guys…? Or some very capable men? As capable as you?”

GM: “Oh. Yeah,” Jordan answers, smiling widely at the praise.“They’re good.”

“I mean. Not as good as me. But good.”

Victoria: She presses another kiss to his forehead.

“And do you know any as good as you…?”

GM: Jordan grins.

“No. None as good as me.”

Victoria: She grinds her hips downward, grinning.

“There’s no one alive as good as you, and you’ll earn what’s yours. Would you tell me a little about these not-as-good-as-you boys?”

GM: Jordan makes a little noise of pleasure.

“Well,” he gets out, “they do this kinda stuff a bunch. They’re in the mob. Though they won’t ever admit it.”

Victoria: And yet you did.

Never trust Jordan to keep a secret. Vic understands.

“Come on, baby. Sell them to me. What makes them so good? How did they do another one?”

GM: “They’re in the mob, like I said,” Jordan repeats. “They smuggle stuff and fuck people up.”

“Like, need a wheelchair fucked up, sometimes.”

Victoria: “And what will they cost for a job like this, hmmn?”

GM: “Uh, depends. Maybe… couple hundred?”

Victoria: That feels cheap to Vic, but she doesn’t let her concern show.

“Regardless the target?”

GM: “Well, they’re probably not gonna do the mayor for that little,” says Jordan.

Victoria: She snickers.

“No, not the mayor. Prominent family member.”

GM: “Like, one of the mayor’s family members?”

“Still probably more, yeah.”

Victoria: She shakes her head.

“No, no. Different family.”

GM: “Probably more if they’re a big deal, yeah.”

Victoria: “How much more?”

GM: “I dunno, depends? Maybe a few grand?”

Victoria: She hums a note of approval.

“Tell you what…”

She releases his face, hands sliding to his chest.

“Today is free, hmn? You talk to your boys, and I’ll get back to you in a few days.”

GM: Jordan grins.

“Wow, okay. That’s really great. What do you want me to tell ’em?”

Victoria: “You know them better than I. That there’s the possibility of a job. They can’t do much if they disappear to Hawaii.”

GM: “Okay, so you want to meet ’em?”

Victoria: “I’ll get back to you on that.”

GM: “There’s a possible job isn’t really a lot to tell ’em.”

“Like, they’ll probably ask who and how much.”

Victoria: She shrugs.

“Then don’t tell ‘em yet. I have a few details to tidy up on my side; so, I’ll call you soon, hmn? And you… can think about what you want with your next session.”

GM: “I’ll think a LOT about that,” grins Jordan.

Wednesday afternoon, 23 March 2016

Victoria: The day after tomorrow, Victoria arrives at Audubon Park, and pulls out a book five minutes ahead of their scheduled meeting time. She pulls out a book to read while she waits for Christina.

GM: Christina meets her there, on time.

Victoria: Once the two exchange pleasantries, Victoria jumps in to why she asked to meet again. She has her middleman, and her middleman feels he—at least, to him—has trustworthy muscle to perform the job; however, that muscle is tied in with the mob. She asked her man not to talk to them just yet.

She continues on that working with the mob isn’t something she’s done before, and before she commits the pair of them to a relationship that could harm them, she wants Christina’s opinion.

GM: Christina says the mob is fine as long as they don’t know that women are behind the middleman.

Victoria: She nods, feeling immediately better about that avenue, and asks if she’s worked with them before, commenting on how casual she seems with it.

GM: “I’ve worked with a variety of people,” Christina answers vaguely.

Victoria: It’s enough of an answer to give Victoria what she needs.

“My middleman is… not the brightest crayon in the box. Would it it be worthwhile or paranoid to give him a masculine name to use to refer to me?”

GM: Christina shrugs. “He’s your man. You decide.”

Victoria: Victoria wonders if Amelia turned into a bug and died in Christina’s asshole.


She goes over the plan one more time: the muscle will kidnap him, leaving him as unmarred as possible—if not unharmed—and will shoot some photos of him with drugs and prostitutes.

GM: Christina has no new objections to the plan.

Victoria: “Very well. I’ll call you when it’s done.”


Saturday afternoon, 26 March 2016

Victoria: Victoria meets with Jordan after a few more days on offer of a free session, and a full session is what he receives. Once he’s spent and pliable, she recants the plan again once more, then makes him repeat it back to her. She reaffirms that the compromising pictures of him as guilty as possible is what matters.

She then adds, “If you need to refer to me, you’ll refer to me as Mr. White.”

GM: Jordan seems more than happy to spend and render himself pliable in the dominatrix’s arms.

“Why Mr. White?” he asks.

Victoria: “Because that is what I’m asking you to call me.”

She squeezes his scrotum.

“Do I have to tell you twice?”

GM: He gives an intake of breath as his body stiffens under her grip.

“No. Mommy,” he says meekly.

She can also feel him starting to get firm again.

Victoria: “Good… boy…”

She purrs the words, a tigress luring her prey.

And then she leaves him hard.

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