Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sleeper ep03 : V20


"Of Shadows, Sister, and Marcus Vitel."
Episode Three

Vampire 20th Anniversary

The children move away from the dark room, unaware of Diana Pierce who is held and told to remain silent by the Malkavian, Scott Levin.    The child stops for a moment, as if sensing her, but then scurries away.  Diana realizes this man has somehow cloaked her from the gathering.


Alex Cross awakens in his Haven, with dawn breaking any time soon. But the banging on the door does not stop.   He opens the door to discover Diana outside, anxious to tell him about her discovery of the Sabbat and twenty children at an abandoned orphanage.  "There is someone with them."  Alex sees the time and admits there is no time to head there right now.  But then, his phone rings and the caller is an unlisted number.  Alex slams the door shut at Diana's face and answers the call away from the door.  The caller, who sounds nervous and tense, identifies himself as Dorian Adams and tells him he needs to speak with him but only if he is willing to meet with him alone.   Alex remembers Dorian  Adams to be the Ventrue living at the outskirts of the city whom Marcus Vitel had once spoken of as the Ventrue who remains an embarrassment of the clan.  Adams would have been easily mistaken as a Malkavian, according to Marcus, given the man dresses as a theater vampire, complete with mid cape, pomade hair and foundation to make his skin paler and lipstick to make his lips red.  He even speaks with a terrible Transylvanian accent.  The Old Bat Of Washington.  Some wonder if he tipped over the edge due to his age.  But right now, on the phone, Alex notices Adams isn't speaking with any such accent. Adams offers to send a car that moment, suggesting it might be the safest time to speak... during Dawn.  The car is a hearse and the plate is 4EVRD3D.  Alex gives the location of a diner not too far away.  Diana offers to go with him, especially since she is armed.  The two hope the car does not arrive late, given the tinge of purple at the distant horizon closing in.
Dorian Adams, Ventrue
(Bela Lugosi)

As Diana waits for Alex, however, she starts to wonder about how she avoided those kids.  She was alone at the orphanage, after all.


The previous night.  Mildred Hobbs awakens to realize she is not at her haven.  She sees the rich curtains, the bucket of wine, and the immensely soft bed.  Opulence.  The place makes her think it is one of those five star hotels.  Even the floor around the bed is carpeted, while the rest of the floor is hard red wood.  A soft tone rings.  She walks up to the door and peers outside.  A man is waiting outside, dressed like staff.  Opening the door, Mildred peers out and asks what the man wants.  He walks in after she lets him in and parks a metal tray on the side of the bed. Inside, he pulls back the cover to reveal ice keeping two blood bags cold.  He walks past Mildred and begins cleaning the room without ever once addressing her, looking at her, or responding to anything.  His movements are rote.  Almost pre-programmed.  Mildred walks up to the tray, and finds a small card atop one bag.  "A welcoming present."  Touching the cart, Mildred attempts to see if she can pick anything up with the Spirit's Touch.   Mildred drinks the bags down.  The waiter hears the sound of her drinking and in response, pulls out a remote from his clothes.  Pressing a button, the waiter continues to clean the room as the television set's display changes to reveal a previously recorded video clip of a man who does not look welcoming or friendly.  The man's face is marked with scars.  A notable break in the skin around the face can be seen.  Mildred notes this break in her mind.  Scott Levin's voice begins to speak, "You are looking at Razor.  The Anarch Malakvian who is known as one of the best Politicians in Washington, D.C. among the Kindred. He has a network of ghouls who gather for him information around the streets. Some of them even utilize graffiti to communicate with each other.  He is among the seventh of individuals I have identified to be wearing the name, Razor, to fulfill his duty. As an Anarch, he seeks to break the rule of Marcus Vitel. I have reason to believe we must help him. I am telling you this because I am not an Anarch, but I believe Razor may have uncovered something that we must pay attention to."  As Mildred responds to the video, the video seemingly answers the questions she asks.  Razor might know about the Black Sisters, who are clearly not Vitel's direct line, having been witnessed to have certain discrepancies that are unthinkable.  The video shows a montage of images of different places - a parking lot, a gala, a concert, a party - but in all the images, the Black sisters are never seen.   Mildred then realizes, it is because the Black sisters are never seen that is of interest. The sisters might be of the Clan Lasombra, and Vitel may have been Dominated to see them as his daughters.  Or worse, have welcomed them into the Clan as Ventrue for reasons they do not know.  The last picture shows Marcus Vitel, but his arms are empty.  Mildred realizes the sisters are probably supposedly in his arms.  Mildred asks if she should work on this alone, and the video responds she should if she thinks that is best.  Their best lead so far is how "When there is a city at peril, it is the Nosferatu who are the first to run." The City has not had an active Nosferatu presence in the city, and they must have had some reason to run away. Mildred digs into her pocket for her phone but finds a different phone.  Finding it be someone else's phone, the video apologizes to her for not being home yet, and admits this was the safest way to communicate.  Levin warns her to avoid the Nosferatu tunnels as there are defenses left there for certain.  He allows her back home and she admits she will hit the library next.  He warns her of the twenty recently created Sabbat children running around and that the Hound and the Sherrif are certain to be dealing with it.  "Now is the time to wake up..."

She opens her eyes.  She is back at her own Haven.  She decides to prepare for the library.  Even the body of the staked former Sherrif is still against the wall.


Elsewhere in the city, David Sullivan feeds on a sleeping bum to raise his dwindling resources.  He visits his Nosferatu contact, a tall vampire in a beige trenchcoat and slacks.  Named Lawrence George, there are times upon blinking that David sees him change his appearance slightly.  He agrees to see the Tremere since they owe the Clan.  David admits he's look for Dor and Lawrence expresses in a lot of cuss words how angry he is that the Toreador was rescued and yet is acting as if it was the worst thing to ever happen in his life.  They leave the sewer meeting place and walk instead to the Metro, with Lawrence asking what brought about the change of heart given they have been trying to convince the Tremere to join the Nosferatu in the last two years.  He asks what tipped him off, and David admits he doesn't not know what he means.  Lawrence scratches, then pulls out a marble sized louse.  David looks away in disgust, but then hears Lawrence whisper to it, "Do your job," and leave it against the wall.  David's eyes widen in realization the Nosferatu must have a network still in the city. They get on the train.

Lawrence berates David for not being here based on what the Nosferatu claim to have uncovered about the Prince.  He knows David is trying to get on his good side, given he needs information, and even mutters something about the Tremere losing the Net to the Malkavians. When David admits he'd prefer people weren't overhearing them, Lawrence unleashes a huge silent stinky smell to force everyone else to move to the other cars.  "Silent but deadly."  Lawrence learns this isn't the Tremere actually finally calling for the Boon, and asks him to say what he wants directly as he hates reading between the lines and all that crap. He tells David the Prince is sheltering two of the Lasombra, Monica and Cynthia Black. They have megabytes of footage and pictures showing neither of the two appearing on any of their photographs and footage. The Prince however has not accepted their investigations, which leads them to suspect the Prince is either Blood Bound to them, Entranced, Dominated, or worse, replaced.  David suddenly feels a Summons.  He can see Marcus Vitel in his mind.  I need you, Hound.  Lawrence admits David is in trouble for that.  In exchange for the info, David admits to the Lawrence that he has been ordered to replace the Prince with a Tremere.  Lawrence is aghast though, claiming everyone knows that the Tremere want to replace Marcus with one of their own! "Give me something useful!  What's next, the Toreador want to be pretty?!" David shares how he is also "Brujah," and when Lawrence asks how that happened, David heads out of the 
train and leaves the Nosferatu to ponder over it.


Nathan, Nosferatu
(Jonathan Pryce)
Somewhere. Dor looks around and sees the accommodations the Nosferatu have attempted to set up for him. There are velvet curtains hanging around and a soft padded bed for Dor to lie on. There are paintings and Dor recognizes most of them to have been reported stolen in the past. The Nosferatu explains they have done what they can to make him feel comfortable, although Dor clearly stresses he does not accept these accommodations in any way. Nathan explains they had rescued him, despite Dor insisting he could have taken care of things himself, like he could have gone to the Prince or something.  Dor stands up and tries to be as small as possible.  Nathan introduces himself as the childe of Francis Broderick and that he has been loyal to the Camarilla since 1697.  This room, he claims, was prepared for any Toreador they would ever have in their area. Dor suggests that a ton of paint and flowers might help make the place better.  Might.

Nathan explains the tunnels will not welcome Prince Vitel and his traitorous associates, given he is a pawn of an elaborate game most are not aware to be transpiring around them.  He calls for servants  and two other Nosferatu come into view.  They set up an old television set and a VHS player. Another arrives with a bunch of VHS tapes in his arms.  Dor wonders what sort of museum this is.   The Nosferatu show the tapes showing their investigations regarding the Black Sisters.  Dor uses Aura Perception to peer into Nathan's aura while he talks about the footage being taken since the 80s.  Seeing the parts where the women have vanished, Nathan explains the women do not have Obfuscate, but instead it is the Clan curse of the Lasombra affecting the tapes, which use old silver nirate in the film to capture the images. On the smart phone, however, the Nosferatu have confirmed the sisters do appear.  Digital, it seems, circumvents the curse.  Dor asks if its an iPhone and Nathan admits its a Samsung since they like how, "They can be used as weapons."  They leave Dor to go through all the footage from the 80s to the turn of the century.  They talk also of a shift in Marcus Vitel's personality towards the women in the footage.


Back to earlier this morning, both Alex and Diana wait for the car in the diner.   The diner's walls are all glass, however.  The old woman brings down the blinds as she tells the two that they don't like the sunlight hitting them in the morning.  Before the blinds close, however, Diana catches sight of one of the vampiric children at the street.  Seeing the car, Diana ponders on whether or not to deal with the trouble standing now, or the pressing matter they were tasked to handle.  Alex admits it might not be prudent to go after the child today.  They enter the car and see its heavily tinted windows.  Inside, Dorian Adams greets them and apologizes for wasting no time to see them.  As the car drives back to his haven, which Alex knows to be outside the outskirts of the city, Dorian tells them that he had just witnessed the Prince present in one of the events last night when he noticed he was not among the sisters. He looked nervous, scared even, glancing around nervously as if he was not certain.  He kept to himself, avoided talking to anyone.  Alex wonders if it really was the Prince he saw, and Dorian questions if anyone would dare pretend to be the Prince.  Dorian followed the Prince as he ducked into a room away from the rest of the people, and soon reemerged with his hand against his chest, as if he was holding something.  Dorian felt the Prince was asking like some kind of spy. He lost track of him for a few minutes, but later saw the Prince again but this time with the sisters, and none of the fidgety behavior.  Dorian asks if they ever noticed the Prince act differently in relation to the daughters, and Alex admits he does dote on the two. Dorian believes Marcus Vitel is one of the Sabbat, a Lasombra, just like the sister.  "The real Marcus Vitel is dead."

Alex does not react. He asks for evidence.  Dorian promises he has evidence to show them.  Diana looks out the window and sees the car closing in on a castle.  Adams has a literal castle as his haven, which is situated outside Maryland and Annapolis. The car hits the dirt road leading to the castle, and the forest has hints of gargoyles and towers.  Those who have broken in have never... emerged again, or so they say.  Alex holds back from laughing when he remembers Marcus telling him they sent Adams a box of glitter when a certain movie came out.  Adams supposedly never got the joke.

At Dorian's estate, Alex and Diana struggle to stay awake and learn of the group called the Midnight Road which Dorian used to be part of.  Dorian shares how all the others had met accidental death and he is the sole remaining member.  Alex brushes away all urge to sleep. Diana fails, however, and drifts off many times. Dorain claims he had been allowed to stay alive since he is a joke to the Clan and allows any breach of the Masquerade to be attributed to his presence, which is the weird vampire guy in the city.  Dorian admits Diana is correct that his appearance is deliberate to stay below their radar.  Dorian admits he wishes he could stake Marcus Vitel and send him to Final Death. Alex apologizes for Diana's questions and claimes she is low on the upkeep - Dorian explains that Cynthia and Monica Black are the Childer of Marcus Vitel.  He is Lasombra. And that any Tremere can confirm this. Part of his proof is that Vitel has shown NO dietary feeding restriction, and that the two women - so distant from each other in personality and trait - do not reflect any refined taste the Ventrue are known to have.  The Prince and his daughters do not seem to limit themselves in what they feed on.   Diana wonders, "So just cause they do not feed only on people who eat grapes..." Alex and Dorian try not to react to the Brujah.  Dorian admits he feeds only on helpless attractive women. Alex wonders if Vitel only has a stranger less easily discerned taste. Dorian admits they must be sleepy, and has made arrangements for their accommodations. Alex pushes Diana to wake her, and the shove triggers her Brujah temper enough for her to growl at him, "Don't do that." Dorian asks them to quickly share what questions they have so they can rest.  With Vitel having shown no traits of the Ventrue, and the daughters having shown traits of the Lasombra, Vitel must be one too.  Dorian thinks Vitel might be using some form of rare Thaumaturgical Ritual to fake a reflection, but has not been able to recreate it for his daughters.  Diana finds it hard to believe he would have failed to cover for her daughters with the same Ritual. Dorian thinks it was just the inherent stupidity of people to forget to do things.  Or overlook things.

Alex finally asks why Dorian has opted to tell him these things.  Dorian states, it is because he is the new Sheriff.  Dorian admits he stated these things to the previous Sheriff too.  Alex remembers the previous Sheriff supposedly had been keeping things from the Prince.  Could it be it was because he was trying to investigate as well back then?  Dorian asks them if they need blood, but they say they are well.  Dorian admits their actions are up to them now.  He dares not act, nor leave, for doing so would tell them he knows and that would make him a target. Diana wishes they had physical evidence to present.  Dorian admits the best would be either with footage showing their lack of reflections, with an old camera, or a Tremere identifying their lineage.  Diana remembers Karina Dobson's words, stating she knows about 14,000 cameras in the city and nothing happens without her knowing.  Diana wonders about the children, and Alex gives her the go signal to share it. Diana tells Dorian of the embraced children at the orphanage, and that there are around twenty of them.  The breach on the Masquerade alone... She believes the children are the more pressing matter.  The Prince they can investigate slowly and quietly.  Dorian goes to the nearest television set and sees the news are showing reports of youth attacking people in the streets and homes.  The reports claim it to be a Zombie Drug, some Russian drug that has hit the street market.  Dorian wonders who is covering this for the Sheriff. Alex feels panic rush in as he realizes someone is doing his job, and when he pulls out his phone he sees the phones have no signal.  Dorian's place is a deadspot.  For security reasons. "We need to go.  We have a long day ahead of us!" Alex mutters, but Diana has fallen asleep.  Dorian tells him Diana can stay with him.  Alex takes Dorian's car and asks him to bring him to one of the Elysium.

As Alex is in the car, they soon reach the point where the signal returns.  The messages flood in, with Vitel asking for Alex in many ways.  Alex eventually sees a message where Vitel says he will handle it himself and Alex will owe him a Boon.  The last message reads, "Dobson is handling it. You will owe her as well."   They get to the Elysium, a Hotel, and there, when Alex awakens at the hotel, Monica Black is in the room.


Mildred Hobbs is at the library, pouring over the many maps and charts of the tunnels underneath Washington, D.C.  She noticed a familiar face in the place and says hello.  Velvet smiles at her, admitting she was looking for the very book Mildred was using that moment.  "Why are you looking for the sewer maps?" Mildred admits she was just getting a feel for the place.  Velvet questions that Mildred wasn't there when it happened, which Mildred doesn't quite get.  She shares with Velvet the map, who then considers the Nosferatu to be at a certain junction that the map shows. Mildred locks the map in her eidetic memory, and Mildred shares with Velvet the thought that the sisters might not actually be of the Camarilla.  Velvet stares at her as she talks and tells Mildred to stop. "Didn't you just get here? And you already have this damn conspiracy theory about the sisters being Lasombra?" Velvet admits that her sire once told her that when Malkavians speak, it is either batshit crazy stuff or something true.  Mildred asks Velvet if she will accompany her to the tunnels, but Velvet wonders if they should tell Cross about this first.  Velvet and Mildred pull out their phones to call him, but sadly neither of them connect.  The number cannot be reached.  Are they outside the coverage area?  Velvet considers trying calling Diana, which Mildred tries as well.  Still not reachable.  They decide to head for the sewers.  Mildred folds the map and stuffs it into her pocket.  Velvet stares in shock as Mildred walks off with the torn map.

"Malkavians," Velvet sighs.


David arrives at a hotel and after going through the usual security finds Marcus Vitel with Peter Dorfman waiting.  Marcus smiles, thanking him for receiving the Summons, and Peter even commends David for being the Tremere he would entrust such an immense duty. Vitel tells David that Dorfman suspects the Sabbat are in the city and that his daughters, Monica and Cynthia are working with them.  Vitel admits he has not told the Sheriff of this and asks David to conduct an independent investigation on his daughters to know for certain if they are indeed Lasombra.  Vitel was warned he may not be able to judge clearly on this as he may have been swayed.  When David admits the Nosferatu have made their own investigations, Vitel is surprised to learn they are still in the City. Peter's eyes stare at David, as if to tell him not to admit more.  David claims he has been looking for them as well. Vitel wonders if he should have listened to Nathan when he left.  He thought the Nosferatu were just swayed by rumors of what lies beneath New York might also have something beneath Washington, D.C. Dorfman reiterates the Tremere will always be loyal to the Prince thus he felt they should know of their suspicions on the sisters immediately. Vitel looks very bothered by this, and he even tells Dorfman that he wishes Peter to succeed him as Prince if anything happens to him. Among all the Primogen, Dorfman is the only one Vitel feels he can rely on.  Dorfman reminds Vitel the Tremere Primogen is someone else, but Vitel counters that they all know she is just a figure head.

Peter smiles.  David realizes Dorfman seems to be planting himself as a successor very successfully.  Vitel states that the Tremere are usually seen as the last one can trust, "But you have earned it." As Dorfman and David leaves, and get into a car, the Pontifex raises a ward and asks David to share what he knows. David explains the Nosferatu have been still hiding in the City and that he had made contact with them.  This impresses Dorfman as the last one he sent to make contact with them disappeared with only a hand left behind.  David admits he only found one so far though.  Dorfman admits there were around forty before in the City, but they've been keeping to themselves since the former Prince was destroyed.  With all Hunting Grounds restrained, Vitel keeps the Kindred population in check.  David asks Dorfman if they have other evidence of the sisters being Lasombra as he had witnessed Cynthia Black not having a reflection on the glass windows as they walked.  Dorfman at first wondered if Cynthia was replaced, until he realized both did not cast any, unlike Vitel.  Dorfman even tried contacting older Kindred who claim to have known Vitel during his younger years. They all confirm Vitel's story.  David realizes he needs to go to the Nosferatu to try to gain their evidence.  But then the car comes to a abrupt stop as the driver halts the car and suddenly steps down to check something.  Did he hit something?

David opts to check as well, but as he reaches for the door, he suddenly sees a feral thing leap at the driver and tear into the car!  But in an eyeblink, David realizes it was an Auspex vision, and tells Peter to lock the doors!  As they do so, the driver is then yanked below the car and they both see the driver's door remains open!


Dor sees other Kindred in the footage, not noticing the sisters' lack of reflection.  He asks why show him as no one would believe him.  "I mean, I could paint something?"  Nathan admits Clan Toreador is the most influential clan to spread the information out, and so they reached out to him for help. Dor reminds them his art is his passion and he isn't the most respected among Kindred.  Nathan however admits the Kindred eye will be focused on him and that the Sheriff cannot help as they do not exist in the Camarilla's eye.  The former Prince branded them as traitors, and the current Prince has demanded for their leave of the City.  Nathan knows they are not the only ones who believe in it, and if others learn a Toreador is now believing it, then the truth becomes stronger with more mouths speaking it, especially if the known rivals of the Nosferatu are speaking of it.  Dor asks if they approached their primogen, and Nathan admits they already tried before.  Dor spits as he mutters Chas Voyager's name. Another Nosferatu arrives and informs them that a Tremere also believes the rumor, and that Tremere is actually pretending to be Brujah.  "Sounds very St. Germaine," he mutters.  Dor learns that Tremere is David Sullivan, and that he is now one of the Hounds of the Prince, both being things Dor did not know.  Dor at least can see they are reaching out to others.


At the street, Mildred and Velvet consider which sewer to go into.Velvet considers going through the same sewer where Dor's trail was, although that was where they fought the giant gator.  Velvet thinks the fact the two aren't answering means they are in the sewers.  Mildred mutters how someone on television once said if there's trouble, the first to go are the Nosferatu.  Velvet is confused how such a Masquerade breach can happen on television.  Velvet asks Mildred to wait and she goes to the nearest convenience store, claiming its best they have back up.  Mildred sees Velvet stand infront of the CCTV camera for a few second and learns if the Ventrue Seneschal, Dobson, goes looking for them, the image of her in that store should help lead them here. The two descend into the sewer. Velvet asks Mildred to guide her as she wants to save the batteries of her flashlight til they really need it.

"This way..."


With the driver's seat open, David scoots over to the front to shut the door closed.  A young child emerges, shoving the door open as it climbs into the room with his mouth full of fangs bared open!  The glass of the window spiderwebs as it slams against it to climb in with its immense strength.  David reached out and plants his hand against the boy's skin and uses the Cauldron of Blood to boil the child's blood from within! Rötschreck hits as the boy feels aggravated damage for the first time.  It flees.  The driver emerges from the front, waving as a second boy, the one attacking him, is flung away.  Dorfman reaches forward and the driver is flung into the air, flung into the car, and the doors slam shut.  The three look around and see the boys swarming around the car, fangs bared.  The driver counts eight.  David looks at Dorfman.  Dorfman admits fighting those eight without breaching the Masquerade will be tricky.  The driver starts the car.  The children begin slamming at the car from the outside, shaking the car back and forth.  The driver tries to move, but the children begin to hold the car in place with their immense supernatural strength! Dorfman tells them he needs a few seconds as he closes his eyes to focus.  David feels helpless, not wanting to do anything.  More slam at the windows to cause more cracks to spread on the surface - thankfully the bullet proof glass holds.  "Go reverse!" David recommends and the drive complies.  The sudden shift forces the children to lose balance for a second, and a fog surrounds the car.  David tells him to hit it, and the drive shoves a foot on the gas.  Dorfman opens his hands, and fire suddenly erupts out of the fog surrounding them!  The car screeches forward and the children feel the fire burn them, forcing them to flee as the car leaps out of the fog and onto the street.

People from the nearby buildings think some kind of explosion just erupted, blind to the burning children running from the fog.  As the car drives down the road however, one last child has clung onto the back and clambers atop the trunk.  David yells at the drive to hit the brakes.  As the car comes to a stop, the kid flies, and hits the road.  Dorfman rushes out of the car, with David behind him.  Dorfman draws a stake out and asks David if there are witnesses.  Seeing none, Dorfman stakes the boy and the two carry the body into the car.  "The boy will give us answers. Take us to a safe house."


Dor is to be escorted back through the sewers.  The Nosferatu are unwilling to let him take the evidence however, as they need to hold on to it. They ask him to convince David Sullivan to test the blood of the Prince and the daughters.  They used to have a vial of his blood but had lost it when the one they trusted turned out to be untrustworthy.  Dor promises he will try to do his best.  Dor accepts a blindfold (and covers his nose with it as well)  Nathan tells the Nosferatu their Clan remains strong despite their lesser numbers.  Dor notices there are only five of them.  Lawrence ends up being the one who has to escort Dor as the rest fade away from view.  Nathan reminds Lawrence, "Seven, eighteen and twenty-one."  Lawrence mutters it is good he fed before going home. "And don't complain about walking on water and stuff, cause it ain't water!"  As they travel through the sewers, Dor soon learns that the numbers Lawrence was told to remember are Spawning Pools that he has to "replenish" with Vitae, to keep the monsters that feed on them to become ghoul servants that they can control. The Nosferatu network remains strong.

Not too far away, Velvet and Mildred navigate the tunnels. Velvet admits she doesn't think they're wading through water given the orangey color.  Mildred uses her Auspex and tastes it, confirming it isn't water.  "Urea." Velvet struggles not to vomit.  Mildred reminds Velvet they don't have to smell it, by just not breathing.  The two soon begin to realize they can see despite the tunnels thanks to phosphorescent glow coming from the lichen.   They notice rats staring at them, almost like they're smart.  The things don't even run away when they approach.

Dor starts to hear the voices of the female Malkavian and the Brujah bodyguard nearby, as his Auspex helps him detect their echoes in the tunnels.  Lawrence grabs one of the nearby rats and holds it close to his face.  His eyes glaze over and next thing Dor knows, Lawrence begins to fidget with some rat like activity before his eyes come back into view. He puts the rat down and tells Dor he knows where they are.


Dorfman remembers Helena Taylor telling him David Sullivan can't read minds, and so he tries to read what he can from the mind of the child.  When Dorfman's eyes open, David sees they have gone bloodshot. He is still connected.  Dorfman begins to speak, though his intonations have shifted to an unfamiliar one, "Yes, you are trying to see if I left anything in my creations... well, here I am!  I am Jack and this City is my playground now."  Dorfman disconnects and his eyes return to normal.  He states the man is an Anarch and is most likely Tzimisce.  David realizes if the Sire is Tzimisce, then the boy might NOT have his heart in the normal place!  The boy moves, mouth about to plunge into Dorfman's throat. David grabs the stake, twisting it more to try to hit the heart!  The boy reaches up, grabbing David's face, and stretching the skin with ease!


Alex stares at Monica from across the bed, realizing she had slipped into the room he was in while he was asleep.  He must have nodded off sometime during noon and now, it was evening again.  She admits she was wondering where he had gone and was hoping to spend some time with him and another kine to feed on. He admits he had a long day.  They talk about the crazy kids on the street, and she congratulates him on a good cover-up.  Monica even muses how there are a lot of Youtube videos online of it.  Alex asks him why she is here. He cannot help but keep looking around for any reflective surface where he can look if she has a reflection.  She accuses him of suddenly becoming so much less fun ever since he started hanging out with the Brujah. She jokes about having fun with the jock they had the previous night, even if Alex is full, and just see if he remembers them.  "We can wipe his memory out again after." When Alex remains detached, she starts to ask what's wrong with him.  As Alex goes to get ready, he sees the full length mirror in the bathroom and he tries to see if he can see her if he angles himself.  Realizing he can see the bed's headrest, he tries to suggest to her to go to the television near the bed, hoping she will be in position enough to see her reflection.

"Could you open the television for me please?"

She switches it on, using the remote control.  Alex grunts, frustrated it didn't work.  Monica calls room service, asking for the cute guy who carried her bags to head up.  Alex considers a new approach.  Faking a moment of anger and frustration, he begins yelling out loud as he punches the mirror to shatter it.  He picks up a shard of the broken mirror.  Monica sees him step out with a bloody hand, and she teasingly asks if she needs to use the wine bottle to protect herself.  He apologizes and admits he just feels the stress from the job.  As she reminds him to watch his hand cause it has blood, he grabs the opportunity to raise the mirror and peek.

Monica has no reflection.

But before she notices, room service arrives.  As Monica goes to answer the door, Alex holds the mirror higher and double checks.  True enough, no sign of Monica at all.  The bellhop, an attractive man, smiles back at them at the door, asking if there's anything he can do for them.  Alex firms his emotions up and tells the bellhop to come in, but his words come out sounding uncertain.  Alex instead bites his lip to make it look like it is because the man is that attractive, hiding the fact the tension is from confirming Monica is Lasombra.   As Monica turns off the lights to make the scene more romantic, Alex starts to worry about the shadows growing in the room.


With David's face yanked by the child, David uses the Cauldron of Blood once more to try to burn the child and force it to let go of his face!  As the blood flares, the child screams and as he tries to pull free, he yanks David's face pulling his cheek outwards into a strange flap that disrupts his perceptions.  Dorfman unleashes a touch of fire upon the child to force it down.  As the boy howls and screams, he attempts to plunge his hand to David's chest!  But before it does so, David unleashes the Cauldron one last time, and the child shrieks as he burns from within, burning away into ashes.

Disfigured by Vicissitude, David tries to use his Vitae to heal the alteration, but it fails.  Grabbing a knife from Dorfman, he slices away the meat, knowing the Kindred form should allow him to regenerate it after a night of rest.  He feels sick for having to do this, but he at least finishes it with his Humanity intact.  Dorfman tries calling the Sheriff but still is unable to make any contact. He calls Helena and tells her to try to find him.  He informs her they had just been attacked by the Sabbat. They head for the Chantry for now.

David is recommended to get some rest at his own Haven.  He digs through the Chantry Library hoping to find a Ritual that can help speed up healing.  He isn't certain if he finds it, but soon, he decides to try to head home to get some rest.


At the sewers, Dor is finally reunited with Mildred and Velvet.  Dor is kneed from behind into the muck by Lawrence, who then vanishes into the darkness.  Mildred and Velvet find him lamenting his clothing now that is has been ruined.  Mildred hands Dor a dirty rag to use to clean himself up.  Dor waves it away and begs them to get them out of this place.  Mildred holds out the map despite being dark, and guides them to the nearest junction to get out.   They emerge onto the street level and find themselves at some kind of street eating thing.  The people start to recognize Dor and call out to him.  To explain, Dor declares his appearance as "Urban Decay" and the people begin taking photos with their cellphone cameras.  The three hurry to get out of the limelight.


Alex finally answers his phone, while Monica lies atop the bellboy.  Alex throws out a Summons, targetting Velvet, David and Diana to come to him. He hears Velvet's voice on the phone that moment and realizes it is Mildred on the line.   Alex isn't sure who Mildred is, until she explains she was the Malkavian.  She tells him she is with Dor and Velvet.  Velvet tells Mildred and Dor that Alex is summoning him.  Alex tells Mildred to follow them.


 Dor admits he isn't sure if anyone would let them in a cab.  But the three find a way to make their way to where Alex is, with Mildred skipping along the way.


David sees Alexandria at the haven, who worries over him when she sees his injuries. He admits he got attacked and tells her the wound was inflicted by Fleshcraft.  She worries at the thought they would be in the City. He's surprised she's at the haven given her choice to stay with Bjorn. David admittedly is still hurting from the choice she made.  According to Alexandria, Bjorn was watching the news and recognized it to be a cover story for a Sabbat attack. David refuses to confirm anything, but admits he doesn't know for sure.  The Children are Tzimisce, but he is not sure who is in charge or created them.  Alexandria wonders if they should just leave the City, given things are getting too "hot". David does not want to, thinking such an action would just build a reputation. Alexandria however counters that people don't even know she exists!

She admits she came back because she cared about him, but he's acting like some fucked up teenager that is making a fuss over her hanging out with another guy.  She walks out on David, leaving him to ponder on his own fate.  As he calls Alex, he feels the call of a Summons.


Alex mutters about receiving a lot of calls tonight, hoping to keep Monica from noticing something is up.  Thankfully, she's too busy with the bellboy to notice.  He answers the call and learns from David that he was attacked and showing up might not be too wise.  Unfortunately there is no way to end the Summons. David will have to make do with what he can manage.


Diana wakes up, cursing as she realizes she just rose up!  She actually was dreaming she was already there with Alex!  Getting up, she looks around and realizes the place is not Alex' place.  She sees a hunchback moving in the room.  Excitedly, she calls out Igor and to her surprise, the man turns and offers to help her.  The man, it turns out, is actually named Igor and he goes to prep the car for her ride back to the city.  In a coppery suit, a red haired man walks up and offers to call the Master for her.  She realizes the man is... probably named Renfield.  He insists he is always ready to provide lives for the Master.  Diana sees the massive painting of Dorian Adams with a woman in a white gown nearby.  She notices the gargoyles and hears wolves howling nearby.  Walking to the sound, she discovers they're coming from standing speakers where the howls are coming from.    She learns the car is ready.  When she asks about Dorian having wives, Igor explains that the Master Dorian is unmarried but has many wives.

And that's when she sees the wives, at least one of them. A woman in a long white gown is seated, fixing something out of view.  Seeing Diana, she stands up and glides to Diana, saying she's too early since they normally open at nine in the evening.  The place is known as Dorian's Castle and as she steps down, Diana sees the mechanized self-balancing scooter she was standing on.  She learns the place is an amusement place.  The woman waves goodbye as Diana steps into the car and is driven to where she needs to go.


David sees another vampire child running into an alleyway as he drives to the Elysium. He decides it is too risky and continues to obey the call of the Summons.  The child breaks into the window of a nearby place.  A woman screams.


Cynthia Black, Childe of Prince
(Amy Adams)
Monica mutters that the guy is asleep.  Alex looks at Monica, planting his phone down, and they talk about why she never chose to be the Sheriff to have more time. To Alex's surprise, Monica suddenly begs him to stay calm, to hear her out, and to allow her to tell him something: she tells him she thinks the Prince is lying.  Monica goes to the bathroom, grabs a broken shard of glass and hands it back to Alex.  She reveals she does not have a reflection and admits she thought she was Ventrue.  She and her sister Cynthia, ever since their embrace, were always told by Marcus to groom each other.  But she couldn't find Cynthia one day and tried to groom herself and discovered her reflection did not exist.  Monica doesn't think she's Ventrue, and she tested herself today with the bellboy.  She's always been attracted to straight dumb jocks.  But today, she fed on an effeminate pretty boy and the blood didn't disagree with her. She isn't sure how far the lie goes, and she thinks Cynthia might be part of it.  But the shadows suddenly shift, Monica suddenly falls backwards.  Alex stares and realizes she's been... staked?  Rushing close, Alex checks and finds a slight wooden point on Monica chest. At the door, with a crossbow in hand, Cynthia tells Alex to tell her what Monica told him.  When Alex hesistates, Cynthia fires a bolt into Alex' hand, demanding he talk!   Alex, knowing the others are enroute, opts to buy time and tries to get Cynthia to talk.

Cynthia admits she knows Monica has figured it out, and she regrets having broken routine.  She does notice Alex is far too calm given he's just learned this friend is Lasombra. She figures he already knew.  He throws the question back, asking Cynthia what she expects him to do about it.


At the street, David sees Chas Voyager on the street, playing another musical instrument.  The crowd in the street gathers, and starts to stop as they get close enough.  David blares the horn to make the people move aside, and they do so.  Chas however never notices him and continues to play, with what looks like music illuminating the inside of his eyes.


The driver asks Diana if the owner is really a vampire.  He admits he's new to the job, one of the five drivers.  When Diana mutters it is the castle of a vampire, the guy admits that sounds pretty cool.  Diana admits it is her first time there too.  Diana catches sight of a man on the street.  The man. The one who cupped her mouth!  She tells the driver to stop, hurries down and walks up to him.  Scott Levin turns, seeing her, and she claims to have seen him before.  He admits it seems the powers of the blood are no longer as efficient as before to stay hidden.  "I am usually ignored, as I prefer to be. But things have been changing."  He stares at a wall with lots of posters and ads on them.  Diana asks where they met before, and with a word, Levin states, "You will remember," and she does.   He stares at a poster of a magician for hire and he mutters that of the children they saw, there is less now, but the shadow they leave is great.  "Magicians are nice but they are only really better when they do fire tricks."  The other poster he looks at shows a plumber service.  Diana asks him about the Sabbat.  He takes the plumber poster from the wall and admits, "They tried to tell us.  But we didn't listen.  The italians tried to."  Diana does not quite get what he means.  "The Japanese own them now."  Diana feels more lost.

Levin reminds her her car is waiting.  He takes another poster of a motorcycle for sale and mutters, "Vikings is a good restaurant." He smiles, hands it to her, and adds, "Miss Pierce, if my Sire speaks to you, please tell her I tried to help."  When Diana asks who his sire is, he simply walks away.


Along the way, Mildred, Velvet and Dor squeeze into a cab.  When the driver argues against having them ride because they stick, Velvet tosses the guy out of the car and drives instead.   She only hopes the cops don't stop them since she has no license.  They approach the hotel.


Cynthia tells Alex how Marcus Vitel did the world a kindness when he adopted two shovelheads who were unable to dig themselves out of the soil during a Sabbat Creation Rite. "If you think you'll turn yourself into a hero by revealing to everyone what we really are, I won't let you!"  Cynthia soon even admits she was the one who got the previous Sheriff in trouble when he learned the same fact.  Cynthia is doing what she must to protect the Prince from the truth, because she cares for him and all the effort he has placed in keeping the City functional, despite the Anarch and Sabbat presence. She asks Alex if she is with them, or helping the very thing he is fighting by ruining everything the Prince has made.  Alex admits he stands by the Prince as per duties and responsibilities.   Cynthia then asks him to help her: Monica does not remember because she nightly keeps Monica from remembering that she is actually Lasombra. "I want her to think she is Ventrue.  It is easier for her to believe she is part of something greater. Rather than know she is a monster among monsters."  Cynthia can erase her memories, but she needs Alex to play his part, given he is part of her recent memories,  and support the lie. Cynthia admits the last time she allowed Monica to know the truth, she nearly tried to face the coming dawn.  Cynthia hates how the Lasombra are seen as betrayers and traitors and does not want Monica to live her unlife believing she's become something horrible.  She rather Monica lives happily than die miserable.  Cynthia admits she is old enough to accept life is most of the time, just shit.   An existence of never seeing one's own face.  Of never being able to face oneself.

Up the elevator, David notices a room service tray set against the wall.  He slowly approaches.

Down at the lobby, Diana arrives but before she could reach the elevator, she sees an exotic woman staring at her with a smile on her face.  She stands up and approaches Diana, never breaking eye contact.  To Diana's surprise, she cannot move at all as if her body had been paralyzed.  The woman gets close enough and names her by name, stating she was based in Los Angeles and handling the murders needed.  The woman recognizes her and talks to her about her sire, who would most likely soon be in the City given it is ripe for an Anarch revolt.  Diana expresses her disgust at being tied to him.  The woman finds it quaint that she's pretending to be Camarilla, and she can't wait to see how they will react when they find out the truth.  Diana struggles to maintain her composure, knowing they are in a public venue.

"Should I tell him and let him know that you are here?" she grins.

"Tell him what you wish. I do not want to owe her anything!" Diana growls.  The woman tells him they will see her again soon.  Fernando, Diana's sire, and she are anxious to get started in the City. The woman even quips tonight was a productive night, after a meeting with the Lasombra... and now this meeting with Fernando's childe.  The woman leaves, covering herself with her hood as she notes tonight is a very busy night.


Dor, Velvet and Mildred arrive, with Velvet rushing past the others to head up.  Mildred and Dor run through the lobby to follow.  They do not see Diana just head up ahead of them.  Velvet rushes into an elevator, but it closes before Mildred and Dor can follow.


Cynthia asks Alex to hold Monica, and guides him on what to do the moment they remove the bolt. Alex is to reinforce whatever Cynthia tells Monica.  David, however, outside the door, considers the right moment to interrupt.  He fires at the door with his pistol to break it open.  That moment, Alex leaps for Cynthia's crossbow, hoping to knock it off her hands.  Alex takes it from Cynthia's hand, and David runs into the room with the pistol trained at Cynthia and fires a shot at her leg.  The elevator door opens as Diana arrives at the floor.  She pulls out her own pistol and runs for the room.  Cynthia screams as blood splatters from her leg from the gunshot.  Before Cynthia can react, Diana reaches the room with her Celerity and upon arriving, she sees the people in the room and assesses whom to train her gun at.

Alex hits the ground with the crossbow in hand.  Cynthia snarls at David, and her voice echoes as she commands him, "Drop it!"  David drops the pistol, unable to resist the Dominate power of the woman.  Another elevator door opens, and Velvet arrives.  Velvet calls out to Diana as she draws her pistol.  Alex trains the crossbow at Cynthia, but the bolt falls to the ground proving Alex does not know how to use it.  David rushes across the room to grapple Cynthia by the neck.  Diana runs to Alex, hoping to protect him. Cynthia snarls and suddenly fire erupts in her hands!  All the present vampires feel the red fear grow within them as they see the flames dance above her fingers. She tells them to stand back, reminding them the floor is a carpet.  Diana stumbles backwards, away from the fire.  Diana asks Alex to explain what is going on.  "Lasombra complications," Alex mutters.   Cynthia takes this as a statement that he never was really going to help.

The next elevator opens, with Mildred rushing to the scene.  Dor however, walks slowly, still feeling uneasy given the state he's in.  Mildred peers in, smelling the burning smell of the Lure of Flames.  Dor stops, upon smelling the fire, and waits to see what will happen.   He recognizes Cynthia's voice. Alex tries to convince Cynthia he is on her side, but she snarls that he just told them all the secret she is keeping and how she will have to wipe their memories as well.  Alex reiterates she is not doing the right thing. He tells her that if she believes the Prince took her in, shortcomings and all, then he has his reasons and she should learn to stand by them.  He doesn't believe she should let her sister live a false life.  Cynthia's questions if Alex really knows what he's talking about, and if others would ever be open-minded to having a Lasombra in their midst.  The others, all in their own way, hear the confirmation to the rumors they've heard that night. Dor steps into view, attempting to seem friendly as he allows Entrancement to reach out towards Cynthia.  David asks if Cynthia is antitribu then, one of those of the Sabbat Clans that moved away from the Clan.  Cynthia sees Dor, and thanks to the Entrancement, sees him as a friend.  She calls out to him, afraid that the others are here to hurt her. Cynthia claims they are Venture!  They are not Lasombra.  Dor tells Cynthia to put out the fire and come to him for a hug.    Alex sees Dor diffusing the situation and remembers Marcus Vitel before telling him that Dor was worth watching.  As they hug, Cynthia looks at the others, still wary of them.  Diana brings down her gun.  Dor tells everyone else to calm down, stating they've all had a terrible day.  He stresses he knows he had one, and points to his stinky clothing as proof. David asks Cynthia to choose: Live a lie where everyone will hunt her down, or the life where only the Sabbat will. As only the Sabbat hunt down the antitribu.  Dor however hushes David to be quiet, and to let Cynthia rest. Mildred calmly walks into the room, shoves the unconscious kine off the bed, then, unfazed, fixes the bed for Cynthia to have a place to lie down.  Alex and Diana help carry Monica to the side.  Cynthia asks David if the Camarilla would protect them?  David admits they will, but probably not publicly.

Cynthia's phone rings.  All the others stare in silence as she takes it and answers aloud, "Sire?" She mentions the Sheriff is with her and that he is making sure Monica and she are safe.  Cynthia hands Alex the phone.  Mildred shoves the unconscious kine under the bed, and as he rolls under, his eyes open and he mutters to Mildred, "Thanks. It was getting kind of weird being the only one alive." No one else sees that conversation happen because it happens only in Mildred's mind.

Vitel confirms with Alex if his daughters are there.  He affirms they are and apologies for his absence. Dobson has tracked 12 attacks in total. Alex promises he will be on it soon. Vitel shares Dorfman believes there should be only one or two remaining and that they are coordinating their efforts.  He asks if the Hounds are searching for the rest, and when Alex admits they will be, Vitel gets angry that they actually haven't even started! Vitel asks aloud if he made a mistake in choosing him as a Sheriff and wonders if he should have become instead the Toreador primogen.  Thankfully, the daughters being safe seems to be enough a detail to calm him down. "The last thing I want is something coming from the shadows at them." Vitel gives him an address to bring the daughters, and tell him he expects a full report.  Alex shares with the others the updates, but Dor insists they can discuss things after they help Cynthia calm down. Dor asks them if they remember the last banquet, with that Malkavian who did the thing.  Dor begins to laugh, but no one knows what he's referring to.

With Monica restful on the bed, Alex unstakes Monica.  Monica actually continues her conversation earlier without realizing she had been staked.  Realizing there are many people, Alex calms her down and explains the situation.  Diana tells Alex she will get started on the children.  Mildred offers the unconscious kine again for Monica to feed on.  Cynthia comes up to Monica, hugs her tight, and helps Alex explain that they got attacked but things are fine now. Monica stares at Alex, with a "we need to talk" look.  Alex waves at her to wait, and to talk about things next time.   Diana opts to leave, thinking of the orphanage and hoping to see if there are any new clues she overlooked there before.  With everyone else calmer, Monica presses Alex for a better explanation of what happened. Alex just tells her she is safe and that is what matters. Monica looks at Cynthia, wondering if she knows. Alex tells her it is fine. Everything is going to be fine.  Alex looks at Dor and Cynthia and tells Monica, yes.  Monica and Cynthia hug, and promise, "If things go bad, I'm sure Peter will help us."


Sitting and watching the happiness, Mildred wonders about the thing she was supposed to do in the sewers. She stands up, crosses the room to leave, but Alex calls out and approaches her.  Alex asks where she found Dor, and Mildred admits it was in the sewers, pointing to her forehead as she does so.  Alex looks at Mildred, then at Dor, and decides Mildred might have talents that would prove useful.  He asks if she would like to be one of his Hounds, so she can get help when she does things. Mildred asks to get back to him on that.  She leaves.

Alex realizes he best shanghai Dor to be a Hound as well in the future.


Later in the evening, while Diana stakes out the orphanage, she sees one of the Children return.  As it looks around, she stays hidden and waits. The thing sits on the ground, clutching its knees, and starts to make sad keening sounds.  Diana feels some desire to help, but opts instead to use her cellphone to record the sound in her phone.  She continues to wait.  Night stretches on.  Still no one else.  Just the child alone, keening.

Diana shoots Alex a message then she moves silently to leave.  Peeking at the other windows, she finds no trace of any other Sabbat.  Another hour.  Still no one.  Diana draws her stake, and closes in on the Childe to stake at it.  She sees it scared to be alone, hugging itself and waiting.  Moving swiftly, she attempts to stake it before it notices her.  The first few strikes misses the heart, and after a few seconds tumbling at each other, Diana finally lands on the ground with the childe staked and beneath her.  A man arrives, one hand holding an axe, and stops upon seeing Diana.  She recognizes Bjorn who is impressed she got the last one. Diana asks if he will take care of it, and he admits it depends if she will take it to her Prince or not.  She notices his axe is blood splattered, and decides she will take the childe to the Prince.  "Let him know," he asks her, "The Brujah did their job."


At the Chantry, a few days later.  Peter Dorfman is with Helena Taylor and the others. She tells them this gross attack on the Camarilla means only one thing: the Sabbat are out there and are calling for their blood.  She moves to enact Rituals to raise wards but before she could continue, Peter states as Pontifex he is overruling her recommendation. He does not want the Tremere to reveal its strength. He tasks David to use his ties with the Brujah, given the Prince called them to help during the absence of the Sheriff.  This has led to the Rabble asking for a seat in the Primogen Council. Peter looks at Helena who realizes what Peter has in mind: David can attempt to gain the seat of Primogenship for the Brujah Clan as they know him to be one of them.  "Two Tremere in seats of power," Peter grins, "Sounds like a plan."   Helena nods.  She walks up to David and whispers, "You know some people would kill for a job like that."  Then walks away.


The Prince calls for a Ventrue Gathering.  The Camarilla gather. During the meeting Cynthia throws Alex glances, worried he will chose this moment to reveal their lineage.  Monica tosses Alex glances, worried if she can trust her sister.  And finally, Vitel throws glances at him for his own reasons.  Vitel informs the gathered of the situation of the Sabbat childer and how the Brujah had to be petitioned for assistance given the Sheriff's absence while rescuing Dor. He states Alex Cross' decisions have gained stronger allies among the Toreador.  Vitel officially presents Alex as the Sheriff of the City, to the sound of applause. Monica stands up and speaks aloud, announcing her desire to work with the Sheriff from this day on, if it pleases him. Vitel however turns to Alex and he says, "Aren't you already working with Monica?" Alex admits it is on different terms.  Vitel has him to choose then who will work with him as his co-sheriff.   Alex can read Monica and Cynthia's stares too easily - for Monica it is a chance to investigate her suspicions, but for Cynthia it is a chance to prove she can be trusted. Alex is given the weight of making the decision.

Alex chooses Cynthia.  Monica looks down, angry for the rejection.  Cynthia stands and admits she is honored to be given this opportunity, to be trusted and to have a chance to show she deserves their trust.  Marcus Vitel simply smiles.


Genevieve Orseau, your friend
(Tilda Swinton)
Walking home in new clothes, Dor is accosted by fans who love his urban decay.  But Velvet intercepts them and tells them to walk on.  The two, however, see Chas Voyager further down the street, once more playing music to a transfixed crowd.  As they hear the music, however, they find themselves swept away by the performance.  The next thing Dor realizes, he has moved infront of the crowd, seeing glimpses of his mortal life - of beatnik bars, of trying to look cool but not, of enjoying the music - and then, as he relives a memory, with the bar crowd cheering the band, a figure sits beside him, almost androgynous. She reaches for his hand and smiles, "Master Roberts.  I am Genevieve Orseau." She begins to appear in glimpses of Dor's other memories.  She begins to appear in different recollections, she's there, in various moments of his life.  She is there.   "We know each other," she smiles, "I need of you. I must wake up soon. I need you-"

Chas Voyager has stopped playing the music.  Dor blinks his eyes a few times and stares at Chas, asking if he saw her too.  Chas merely mumbles "She needs us" as he walks away.  Being slightly older than Chas, Dor recognizes the mix of what could have been Presence and Auspex to make one a perfect friend.   A perfect...  Dor focuses his will to break free from her hold on him.

An elder.
There is an elder in Washington, D.C.
One that is asleep and seeks to wake up.


Elsewhere, elsewhen.
Mildred is at the Library, realizing she has yet to return the map.  As she slides it into the map case, with nearby people staring at her.  Behind her, a seated figure waits for her to finish.  She turns and sees Scott Levin.  He asks if her journey in the sewers went well and she admits she needs to do further investigations... she thinks.  Scott begins by saying, "Hirsch-" but then switches and says instead, "Mildred, I hope you are enjoying your Nights." She admits relatively she is.  He admits they may have to leave the City given the events that have been stirring.  One that has been sleeping has begun to awaken.

"The Nosferatu lied to us," Scott calmly explains, "The Nosferatu are said to run when the City is in danger. But the Black Sisters are not the danger they are running from."  Mildred agrees, saying the television personality told him that. "Have you not noticed, the Nosferatu have run from the sewers as well. They are not watching the City, they are watching down below."  Scott shares that the Nosferatu have been doing what Mildred thought to do, investigate the sewers, and now from forty, they number five." Mildred wonders if they should inform the others.  Scott apologizes, telling her this is such a waste of time, but he feels they should go.  Mildred does not understand what he means.  Scott just wants to leave before whatever is sleeping has drank enough to wake up.

"Wouldn't it just follow us?" Mildred wonders.  "Sire please!" Scott suddenly yells out, but stops himself and tries to calm down, "Forgive me, you are Mildred. You are not Hirsch."  She asks if it would be better for them to try and stop whatever it is here.  Concentrate their forces.  Logically, it seems sound to bunker here instead of running away.  He apologizes for the outburst, and leaves.  Mildred turns around and makes a mental note to inform the others of what she thinks is happening.  Or at least what she thinks is happening.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Single Moment on Alan Bahr's Top Ten of 2016

Alan Bahr's Top Ten RPGs of 2016

Woke up today to a truly pleasant surprise! Alan Bahr, the brains behind stuff such as Tiny Frontiers, lead designer for Brian McClellan's The Powder Mage RPG, and (in full disclosure) the upcoming Cold Shadows game I shall be writing for, has released his Top Ten list of RPGs of 2016.

To my surprise, A Single Moment was not only part of the list, but it actually landed on a beautiful spot which I never thought would ever happen in my entire life: it was tied with Ryuutama on the Rank #1 spot.  OMG, that game is an ENnie Award winner!  And here's my little game sitting beside it.

I seriously could not breathe for a few seconds.  Ryuutama remains one of the most endearing and lovely games I've ever had a chance to run for others.  The game is just wonderfully designed with nice callbacks to old traditional Japanese computer role-playing games we love, and so to find my tiny little indie game sitting alongside it on the number one spot was just a miraculous delight to see. Andy Kitkowski knows how much I fanboy over that game.

Thank you, Alan.

To know you have found my game to be as enjoyable and entertaining and deep as other games you love is the source of my happiness today.  Thank you for sharing your appreciation of my work and for letting others know how much you liked my game. It means a lot.  And yes, I hope to release its sequel book soon.  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Journey ep08 : Ryuutama


Episode Eight
"Dark Cliffs"


They stand at the mountain top, surrounded by dark cliffs.

The group discover they are at a different world. Unfamiliar to them all. Even the camels are uneasy, huddled together and not wanting to move away.  Party leader, the monkey, turns to Piter, waiting for his instructions.  Aya admits she cannot find where they are on her maps.  Piter wonders why they trusted that Djinn.  Tristan admits they had no choice.   Aya tries to pinpoint where they are and yet despite being well-traveled, she has no idea where they are.

Outside the confines of the cliffs and the mountains, dark clouds are rolling in, like a heavy fog upon them.  They realize they aren't sure what weather this is.  Tristan admits it probably isn't safe to camp here.  Worse, the clouds seem to be so thick they can't see the sun.  Nor tell the time.  "It might be best we find a suitable place to camp until we get our bearings," Tristan admits.

Not too far, they see a spiral staircase.  Clearly not natural. But it does suggest others have been here before.  Aya worries if they can even guide their camels down the mountain.  A shriek suddenly erupts somewhere in the distance, echoing across the mountains.  A rumbling sound then drones overhead, from the eastern side all the way to the west.

"We should go," Tristan tries to state as calmly as possible.

Aya nods.  They make their way towards the spiral staircase, each of them guiding two camels to take the steps carefully.  Aya admits they can't leave the camels here being the cute things they are, and this unforgiving environment.  The camels, however, are so spooked, it takes some time before they start moving.  They see more signs of human craftsmanship as they descend the steps which has one half of the staircase exposed to the side, while the other half is against the mountain.  Piter reminds them all to be careful, given someone clearly made this path.  Every few meters, a metal cage with broken glass and signs of what could have been a lantern.  Further below, the clouds await them.  Aya grins, trying to remind them all to stay focused, "We can do it, guys!"  Piter offers to take lead, telling them that clouds must be like a fog.  Aya starts singing the Foggy Cha Cha to raise their spirits.

They soon chance upon an unexpected sight.  A Ryuuzoh stands along the stairway, but instead of a walking stick in its hands, a mirrored chalice sits.  The chalice is silver with red blood stones.  The group walks past it, bothered by its appearance, and uncomfortable with what it suggests.  They begin to realize they are no longer in the domain of the Ryuujin they are familiar with.  This is the land of the Black Ryuujin!

Thirty minutes further down the staircase, they finally come upon a wasteland.  The rocky terrain makes walking difficult. The cold winds have not ceased.  To their surprise, they find an old friend waiting for them.  Joshua Vane, the Weather Reader, is there and tells them he had fallen here after stepping through a portal in Meowtain.  He likes mountains, but didn't expect to see the group here.  He confirms their suspicions that this is the Southern Continent of Kuro,  When they ask him about heading back to their lands, he informs them of a 3-year journey across the sea to get back by regular ship.  And how there are Piranah storms and that they should find a way instead to search for a Waypoint that can lead them back to Ao, the Northern Continent.   Joshua admits knowing about the Waypoints because his family had created them in the past.

It doesn't take long before the group finds itself stalked by Earth Tigers, vicious massive cats of stone and mud.  The monsters attack them with a relish, and each hit depletes their supply of water as the things seemingly absorb the water they carry like a vampire would draw blood from its prey.

And worse, just as Aya is about to land a perfect blow to defeat one of the Tigers, a dark flash fills the sky and the perfect strike MISSES!   The dark Ryuujin celebrates in the mischief.  Seeing the miss, Piter realizes he needs to help out.  He closes the gap and tries to strike the beast down but misses.  Joshua is yelling at them, wondering what is happening. Tristan admits he does not like this place one bit.  With each Earth Tiger defeated, the tiger explodes into dust and vanishes.

To the least, the things leave a vial on the ground.  Tristan, however, is horrified that there are no remains for him to trap or use in his work.  The sounds of stomping feet begins to erupt, and close in at them.  From the house in the distance, people begin to hurry out and rush to them with chairs, weapons and other things in their hands!  All of them are dressed in dark piecemeal clothing, with mohawks and strange things.  They have come to help in the battle and tell them their "Party leader" rushes to them and asked them to help in exchange for gold.

The group realizes the crowd are all Apes!  Which explains why Party Leader was able to speak with them.  "Where is our gold then? We were promised gold if we try to help?"  Tristan asks if the Party Leader promised "all the gold they have?"  The Ape admits yes.  Party Leader admits they have been paid then, since the group has no gold at all. So that is all the gold they have. The Apes, thankfully, do not hold it against him, and even acknowledge his superior intellect.


The group considers getting a room but they realize they have no money to spend to pay for it.  They consider just camping outside instead.  Piter speaks up, asking the Madam Ape if they can stay.  Joshua approaches and talks to the woman, pointing to Aya while he explains something.  The Madam Ape nods and then approaches to Aya and curtsies.  She addresses Aya as the daughter of the Wayfarers and thanks them for it is due to them that business is good for her.  Joshua supposedly had showed her the Wayfarer's seal of office.  They head up the stairs.

Madam Ape identifies them to the whole gathered, calling Aya as the daughter of the Wayfarers.  The Apes stand up, hand on chest, to show their respects.  Aya, being half noble, thanks them properly and bows.  One offers to pay for their food.  Another offers to watch over them during their stay.  Another calls out offering to sharpen their weapons.  More and more offers are made.   Aya smiles, all the while looking at Joshua worried for what he's claimed her to be.  They hurry to the room.

Aya asks Joshua what this Seal of Office is.  Joshua explains she doesn't need to know what that is all about.  Tristan growls they can stop their singsong nonsense.   And they all go to bed to rest and recover.


The next morning opens with them feeling a bit more rested.  Tristan wakes up early to gather herbs and look around. The fighters are seemingly gathered around the fireplace, singing of their deeds and accomplishments.  Tristanlooks around and finds Party Leader seated with an eyepatch over one eye, piles of coins and gems all around him.  A pair of cards is in his hands.  The other apes are losing the bets and surrendering more money.  Tristangrabs Party Leader's neck, but one of the warriors grabs Tristan's hand before he can grab Party Leader.  "A bodyguard!??!" Tristan gasps.   To his surprise, the Party Leader is called "The Captain" now by the others.  They learn how he with the assistance of the humans bested one of the Djinn.  The pile of coins and cash are supposedly rewards fairly won.  Tristan does not find any hidden cards tucked him his sleeves or clothes.  Tristan snags the eyepatch off and hands it back to its owner.  Party Leader however expresses through the body guard how he feels unappreciated by the team, especially given his accomplishments are rarely noticed by them.  Tristan announces to everyone that, "The Captain will return the things he won from them.  Since a Captain never steals from his subordinates."  With a motion from the Party Leader, the whole gathering cheers!  As it turns out, Party Leader had bet with them all that he could get Piter to call him "Captain" within an hour. Laughter and cheers spread out.  Tristan admits Party Leader was pretty impressive, and the two head out of the cabin to gather herbs.

Piter turns to see Joshua and Aya still asleep.  He heads down and learns more about the people being indebted to Aya's noble family. Piter gets drawn to the craftsmanship of a chest on the counter, and speaks of how civilized a culture must have created it.  Madame Ape thanks him, since most do not see them and praise them for being civilized.  Most, she explains see them as the slave race they used to be, especially the Neko Kingdoms.  Piter admits he views the world with a higher standard, "That with a fine chest."  They have risen from servitude and being merely meat and playthings for the Neko Kingdom.  "We are now a Pride. It was your Princess' family that first welcomed us and allowed us to serve in every waystation.  Allowed us to reunite our divided families."  They were once separated from family members to serve at the Nekomines and now the males were used as experiments by the Cats' magic, and how the Nekomatas would use them as testing grounds for their stranger incantations.  Piter sees a metal box, and asks if that is specifically to hold coasters.  Madame Ape hands it to him to look at it better.  Piter admits the exquisite craftsmanship is undeniable.  Pressing the side, a cigar comes out.  Piter wishes he could speak to the person who made it.  "A thing of magic, but it eventually runs out," Madame Ape admits.  Piter sees the screws and pops the release, and inside they see the five cigars left,  "You just have to reload it." Madame Ape admits its a magic box that they have to purchase from the Nekomata.  She admits they pay the Nekomatas yearly to re-enchant them.  Piter is starting to think the Nekomatas are conning the Ape people.  She shows another "magic box" the Nekomatas sell them, this time one that creates fire.  Piter explains one merely has to keep the whetstone dry for it to work, then replaced when worn down.  "There's no magic here.  Just..." he stops and wonders why the Nekomatas would do this. He sees more items sold to them, which when worn down, they pay the Nekomatas to re-enchant, which include a collar with a spring-loaded button, a clasp that has a twisting lock, and more.  All items that could be repaired but have been introduced to them as magic.

As he fixes them, the Apes start mumbling how he knows the magics of the Nekos.  But even more interestingly, as Piter studies them, he finds that the Nekos don't seem to even use each item to its full potential. He finds patches and switches that have not been used.  Have they been holding back? Or are those parts even the Nekos don't understand?


Joshua wakes up with Aya in the room. He doesn't seem to recognize Aya for a moment, even as Aya tries to tell him they are at Kuro.  She tells him that he convinced everyone that she is the Princess, yet he doesn't seem to recall any of it.  She even shows him the passes to the Library that he gave her before.  Slowly, he begins to recall, but he does seem bewildered to be in Kuro, especially since his family had hired people to protect this place and make safe areas... the same story Aya was told to have done.  She reminds him he came through a door from the sky.  Joshua looks startled to realize he IS in Kuro, and he mutters about needing to call his mother cause he's not supposed to be this far.  He even freaks out upon seeing blood stains on their clothes.

On the cot he was sleeping, a star shaped pendant is left on the pillow.  Aya picks it up and asks him if he dropped it. He asks for it back and when she tells him to calm down, she asks what is the last thing he remembers.  "I was never supposed to lose this... I remember at the mountain, we were-"  *click*  Joshua snaps the pendant on and sits up, looking at Aya with a smile, "Oh, is it morning."  Aya notices the distinct change in his personality, claiming Joshua admitted he is the Wayfarer's son, but no one knows the man has a son, however, and only a daughter.  He claims its a very story and asks her about her nobility as well.  "I'll answer if you answer."


Outside, Tristan finds more roots and less herbs to collect.  Other Apes are studying a map.  He walks up to them with Party Leader, and after deftly parrying greetings to the "Captain," he takes a look of the map.  The map turns out to be a pop-up book showing the island of Kuro and how it changes with the season.  Kuro, it turns out, is a floating island.  "When does it get closest to Ao?"  He learns that the next time Kuro would be closest to Ao again would be three years from now.  When Tristan asks about getting an airship, how fast will it take to travel to it?  The Apes however are confused with the question, as they never traveled such distances before.  He learns the technology of Airships is something the Nekos keep to themselves.  Sqwaking birds above alert them to a coming Neko. The Apes hurry to the cabins and warn that one of the Nekos is coming.  Tristan admits he's curious to meet one, but the Apes warn him to never look up into its eyes.


Aya admits to Joshua that she was a noble of Artenia. The Prince of Artenia was impressed with her actions that she was given a noble title for her feats.  She asks Joshua about the Wayfarers and Joshua admits he is the one of the Wayfarers and his parents thought he was a woman all the way til his third year of birth. By then, they realized he wasn't but everyone else in the Kingdom knew he was by then.  They decided to keep the facade and he realizes he wanted to be free to travel.  Aya admits she is the Imperial Lady of Song.

He asks about her statement about him falling through a door in the sky, and she tells him about their encounter at Darkheart Evil Meowtain, and how afterwards, they encountered him again when they arrived here at Kuro.  He mumbles about "it" still happening, which she learns that his mother always warned him of having fleeting memories, of having days where he does not remember things

She noticed that he seems to recover the lost memories the moment he wears the pendant.  He insists it is merely a family heirloom.  They hear the applause from down people as the Apes cheer on Piter for understanding the magics of the Neko. There is some concern of what would happen if the Neko were to hear of this - and that's when the door slams open and one of the Apes with Tristan earlier warns them the Neko are coming!

They arrive in massive armored forms. They walk almost comically, as the suits hinder their mobility, moving like wide armored forms that walk without knees.  The carriage towers over them, almost three stories tall. Piter is greatly impressed by their arrival. The Apes begin to celebrate the arrival of the Nekos. Tristan doesn't like the fruity grog, finding it strange.  Tristan reminds him to stop complaining though since it was given for free. Piter reminds the apes that they will help despite everything that has happened.  Aya admits their friendship is why she stays with them despite everything else that has happened.  She sees the approaching parade of Nekos, and even Joshua feels he should remember more about these Nekos.  The Ring on his finger pulses, and Aya notices it too.  Joshua mumbles a story about how his mother used to tell him if the Ring ever glowed, they should run.  Aya wonders if they should, but worries about their things as they have not packed up yet to leave.

The music has gone silent.  The Apes wait in silence.  The lights focus on the doorway, announcing the Nekos arrival.  Joshua and Aya see the scene from above, and wait by the door upstairs.  A thin fog crawls into the chamber, ankle high, filling the place.  Stepping into view, a figure stoops to walk inside.  Straightening, towering almost nine feet tall, a pure white figure yet almost neckless, with a silhouette reminiscent of a nun's habit.  The figure looks like a cat, yet the head reminds them of a skull.  Joshua mutters, "Nekos..."  The designs on the clothing would have been white against white, almost Egyptian in inspiration.  Gold trimmings enhance the overall look.  Tristan and Piter stay close to each other.  The head descends, and the figure is now only around five feet tall.  There are scented oils trailing in the air as the figure changes in height.  It turns to look at the two, its movements so perfect that Piter begins to suspect the suit is more technological than organic.  Tiny red dots mark the figure's eyes.  Cats eyes.

Tristan bows his head, showing respect.  Piter studies the thing from an Artisan's perspective while Tristan boldly greets the new arrival.  The thing does not reply.  Piter confirms the suit is a container. A highly enhanced container, to allow mobility and function. "It's a suit," Piter whispers to himself, then louder. "Similar to the cigar box!"  Tristan asks the thing to step out, as it would be rude to talk while inside a suit.  He tries to act confident and brave, but Aya definitely wishes they were still in some nicer place.  Piter notices a familiar button and walks up to the thing to reach for the switch he saw and push it.  But in response, something extends from the Nekos hand, a segmented metal thing wreathed in electricity - it wards Piter to step back.  "So they may not be that tall, after all," Piter muses. "You're not putting that down, are you?"  The thing responds with a whipping motion at Piter! Piter fails to dodge out of the way, and the shock strikes him! Piter's clothes start to ignite!  As he pats them off, he draws his polearm as he realizes the thing is not here to talk. Tristan raises his hand to begin casting a spell!

Aya sees a pair of glowing eyes from the window looking at her and Joshua from the outside!  She grabs him and they rush out the door, into the main area where the Apes and the others are.   Joshua sees Tristan casting and yells out a "No," as he reaches to cup Tristan's mouth closed.  "Don't show them..." he yells but he arrives too late.  Tristan casts Shooting Star and the energy flings the Neko out the door, the whip flailing as it flies.  The walls catch fire.  The Apes begin to howl. With Tristan's hand still outstretched, the Apes stare at him in fear.  "Don't show them you have magic..." Joshua gasps.  But it is too late.  The Apes stare at Tristan. Their eyes turn red in response to witnessing the magic.  Aya tells at them to run back upstairs!  The Apes turn to face Tristan, muttering, "Science" as they move with much more threatening moves.  Piter is confused at their sudden hostility.  They back up towards the stairs, staying defensive.   Joshua explains that the Apes were slaves under those who used magic, the Djinn.  All the Apes begin to draw weapons, and those without weapons draw chairs, or anything they can use as weapons.  The Neko at the doorway, sparks flying from it, points at Tristan and mutters, "Djinnborn."  The Apes begin to close in.

Aya screams, "The camels are packed!  Let's go!"  She sees a vase with water, and picks it up as she flings it at Tristan.  Piter lunges forward, while the Apes are distracted by Tristan, and stabs his polearm at the fallen Neko.  The weapon hits close to the switch he saw earlier!  With the vase in Tristan's hand, he uses another spell, one that creates a Rosefever Pollen cloud in front of him.  The petals scatter. Joshua begins to pull Tristan up with him.  "We have to get out, now that they know you are one of the Djinnborn!"  The Apes that leap at Tristan are forced to lunge through the cloud. Of the four that strike, only two are able to hit Tristan with their makeshift weapons.  The Apes tumble to the ground, the Rosefever swirling around them.  Joshua tells Tristan to go upstairs, as their violent natures are only because of him.

The window shatters upstairs.  Aya sees another Neko at the broken portal, and she draws her rapier as quickly as possible.  She howls how much she hates this place as the Neko draws its own claws.  Piter hits the switch he saw earlier, and it opens the Neko's suit, revealing an almost hairless looking cat inside the suit.  The thing is making hacking sounds as it emerges.  The whole suit folds into some kind of backpack on the cat!  Joshua tries to buy the others time by blocking the Apes.  Remembering the chandelier earlier, Tristan wonders if he can leap at it and jump out but he remembers the people here are all Apes. They are bound to out-jump him!  Joshua stabs the closest Ape that nearly grabs hold of Tristan, and the knife cleaves into the thing's face!  The whole group reels in shock at the violence of the combat.  This... place seems to celebrate viciousness and death.

Tristan grabs his crossbow in the room, taking time to load it.  Aya stares at the other Neko by the window and hopes her quickness and weapon grace helps her swing.  The blade is easily parried by the Neko, but its talons are parried as well.  Piter closes in, grabbing the downed Neko, and he sees the old scars all over the cat's face.  It hisses in anger, "Djinnborn!  This is our lands now!"  Piter counters that it does not give them the right to lie to the apes.  "This is your Neko?" The Apes turn to him, with their red glowing eyes.  The Neko held by Piter (from the back of its neck) tells the Apes that those who return the heads of the Djinnborn will be given freedom.  Tristan trains the crossbow at the Neko Aya is fighting.  The bolt flies... but then, somewhere, a woman laughs.  The bolt suddenly bounces off the armor and strikes Aya instead!  Aya shrieks in pain, wishing their Ryuujin was still with them - realizing the land's own dark Ryuujin might be relishing in their misfortune.  She sees another Ape heading up the stairs.  She decides to throw a stab at using her false title once more.  She yells at the Apes to stop what they are doing, and she reminds them all she is Nobility.  The Neko hisses about never ever being slaves again to the Djinnborn.  The Apes, however, have stopped in response to Aya's words.  Piter pulls the Neko close, asking why they are manipulating the Apes. "Do you think you're better? You are just cats in boxes!"  It responds with failed attempts to claw at Piter, but he drags the Neko behind the bar.  Aya sees Joshua bloodied and injured from the assault of the Apes, and she rushes to him.  The Apes pull back.  Joshua thanks her, and he doesn't seem to recognize her again.  Aya searches the ground for any signs of his special pendant.

Upstairs, the battle continues however.   Tristan raises his hand at the Neko by the window once more and begins to cast another Shooting Star spell.  The Neko panics! As the Shooting Star flies, it strikes the Neko but the wounds it causes are miniscule, the Neko rakes at him in response.  "Now they will all find you."

Piter tells the Neko to open the chest.  He shoves the cat into the chest to "cool off" and shuts it closed.  The Apes, no longer red eyes, are watching now, calmer and quieter.  Aya asks for her crest, telling the others that she had lost her crest.  She asks for a healer.  Another Ape comes close, handing her the chain it had found.  As Aya clasps it around Joshua's neck, Joshua suddenly shifts once more in attitude and nearly attacks the closest Ape!  Aya holds him down, calming him down and telling him things are under control.

Tristan realizes he cannot fight the Neko alone.  He Shooting Star's the door to tear it open.  But the Neko leaps out the window once more to escape.  Tristan stumbles out the door to see the battle outside has stopped.


An hour had passed.  The Apes have left, most undecided on what had happened.  Most don't seem to even recall the reasons they leapt into battle.  Or that there was a battle.  They are stunned at the realization many of them are suddenly injured.  And one of them is dead.   The Ape go through some ritual with the dead one, each speaking how they fought alongside the ape when they faced different things.   The sadness is palpable.  Piter sits on the chest, keeping the Neko trapped inside.  Joshua hates he cannot recall things clearly, and is wondering who killed the Ape.  Tristan tends to his wounds.  Though he witnessed Joshua killing the Ape, he does not admit or state it.  Madame Ape and the bartender stare at Aya, but admit it is not their place to speak any ill words towards the Wayfarer.    She asks if they blame them for this.  Madame Ape admits it is not blame... but there is no denying the ill wind the Djinnborn brings with them.  Aya explains she owns the Djinnborn her life.

"Kuro trusts only in the magic of the Nekos," Madame Ape explains, "The Science of the Djinnborn can never be trusted."

Aya explains that just as her father and her people welcome the Apes, they welcome the good Djinnborns.  "There are good Djinnborns."  She catches Joshua looking at her.  They both realizes she is lying and they stay silent.  Piter and Tristan wonder if it was the dark Ryuujin that caused that dagger to kill the Ape.  They ask Aya if the Wayfarer can find elsewhere to sleep.  She accepts they will.   One Ape growls, "At least you can still leave."


They gather their things. Joshua wonders if they should go to the next Wayfarer point.  Aya wants to find a place the Nekos cannot go.  But Joshua admits there is no place to do so, as the Nekos rule the land.  Tristan suggests they find instead a way to leave this place.  This land.  "The Nekos know I am here."  Aya wonders if they should stick to the wilderness.  Joshua wonders if they can find an airship or some flying steed.  Piter asks what they should do to their captive.  Aya admits it would help to have a hostage.  All of them hate that feeling.


A woman in the mirror smiles. She whispers how they can kill the hostage.  To let go of their concerns and to just do what they should do.   Get rid of the threat.  Be safe.


"We will stick to the wilderness. Try to get away from any Neko," Aya sighs.  They talk about how Kuro is a floating island, and they had just missed the chance to leave yesterday when it was closest to the other islands.  They consider finding a Djinn, or one of those doors Joshua took.  Joshua offers to bring them to his family, and though the guards might not recognize him, they might have to have Aya keep up the lie that she's the Wayfarer until they meet the parents.  Decided on their plan, they realize they have to now decide on what to do with the Neko in the box.  With one less camel than before, they can't quite bring the Neko with them and feed him too.  

With his polearm drawn, Piter opens the box and they watch in surprise as the Neko comes out gasping for air, beginning to never be placed in a box again.  Unlike other Nekos from their island, this one seems to have been terrified the whole time to be in a box!  Piter asks it for its name, and it replies, "Seven Six One Four One."  Aya gasps that its name is a number!  The Neko admits it has no other name.  Tristan calls it Fluffy instead, which Aya agrees is a better name.  They talk to it, admitting the place seems morose and depressing to the point they seem to act in such a way.  "If you continue to let your past dominate you," Piter explains to the Neko, "You're still slaves."  The Neko admits the only way to free themselves is to make sure they can never happen again.  Piter tells it they have to stop manipulating the Apes, and to stop confusing Magic and Science.   The Neko insists their Magic is well earned, and that they charge the Apes what is fair.  Aya  whispers to the others this is not winning their confidence.  The Neko growls at them, calling them uneducated buffoons.  Piter shoves him back into the box and tells him if he's so educated he can get out on his own.  Tristan tells Piter to let the cat go.  He rather be marred as a Djinnborn than be evil enough to mistreat others.  "We're just reinforcing what they believe."

The Apes prepared something for the Princess.  They give the group water and food rations to take with them.  They hope it will at least sustain them for their journey.  Aya admits she understands.  Piter tips the box over to let the Neko get out.  The Neko, gasping for breath, is weak and unmoving on the floor.  Feeling sorry, Aya decides to toss to the Neko the fishbone earring that she got from Ifa. 76141 stares at the earring and looks shocked.    They are shown out of the Tavern.   Joshua claims to have gotten directions and knows which way to head to... their family.


The group heads back into the wind and cold.  With the camels, the group preps to leave.  They notice another camel has gone missing, and the group realizes a dragon must have taken it the other camel once more.


76141 hold the fishbone earring up to its eyes.  It stares at it and tears well in its eyes.  "They made it... they made it...."


In a dark room.

A fireball explodes.  The fire hovers and grows.  The dark woman stares at the flames.  She shows her long nails and mutters, "We can make a deal." The other dragon stares.  She motions at the glass and the image of four travelers can be seen.  The two dragons stare at each other.  She pulls out a dagger and offers it to the other dragon.

The dragon takes it.
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