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TVC II Chapter 1 - Old Faces

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Count Darvaleth

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Kraskor snarled. If the soldiers truly held Rowhaine, and had come equipped to do so, then they may have the means to kill him. That would not be good.

Already swords were drawn, and troops summoned. Kraskor turned and gave an icy stare at those being hostile towards the soldiers. What was needed now was calm, collected thinking.

Kraskor turned to Simon and Karl, giving a slight nod of the head, unseen by the soldiers, before he addressed the captain. The soldiers had become nervous by this point, but were still holding fast.

"I am afraid, Captain, that you've not got our leader," said Kraskor, moving forwards slowly with his sword left undrawn. "The one you have taken, you believe to be the third member of the Triumvirate. As only two sit here, that is a valid assumption," said Kraskor, indicating the seats. "Whoever said that Mircea von Carstein would sit at his throne, however?" said Kraskor. He could see the captain's expression faltering, before he stuttered:

"We'll kill whoever this vampire is, then, if you don't back off," said the captain, "Our wizard has given us charms that will tell him if even one of us is slain, and then he'll kill your friend!" Kraskor stepped forward again.

"Come now, that won't be necessary. You believe you have Mircea, but you do not; I am Mircea, at your service," Kraskor gave a small bow, knowing full-well that the captain couldn't tell vampire apart; that much was clear from the fact that he thought Rowhaine was one of the Triumvirate. "I do not want blood to be shed today, so I offer you this. A prisoner swap; you take me to your camp, alone, and my friend goes free when we get there. As long as I'm in custody, my brothers," said Kraskor, indicating Simon and Karl, "Won't try and catch you."

Kraskor watched the captain work it through, his face furiously furrowed in ferocious concentration. Finally, he fell for the bait.

"All right, then," said the captain, intending to take both prisoners away, "throw me your sword and come this way, slowly!". Kraskor drew his blade, and snapped it across his knee, the sword shattering.

"It was blunt anyway," said Kraskor, hoping he was playing the part of a callous, affluent Carstein well, as he walked into the shield wall. The soldiers parted, forming around Kraskor as they slowly made their way towards the door.

"Order all your men away from the doors," called Kraskor to the Council, "Do not try and follow us, I gave this man the word of the Triumvirate."

Kraskor heard Alastor on the Link, and replied:

Alastor, I have allowed them to take me hostage so that they take me to their camp. Once I have left the castle, get down to the Council and inform them that I plan to reach where Rowhaine is encamped, free us both, then call in your support. I can use the Link to show you and Nehklior the way, but just make sure nobody tries to follow us initially or the plan is blown and I'll never find Rowhaine.
 

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Morturion watched with wonder and glee as Kraskor sacrificed his freedom. I could make use of that...wouldn't it be a shame if the humans had to kill him? I could send a few troops down, to provoke them into doing so... Morturion considered the idea, and decided that it was quite risky. He would see how events unfolded before coming to a reslution. Though I don't see how they could have captured Rowhaine anyway, he thought, they'd need a very big army for that...

Morturion almost drooled over how many zombies he might raise from the corpses of such an army, and then snapped back into reality. He pondered over Kraskor's last words: "Do not try and follow us, I gave this man the word of the Triumvirate." Morturion fantasised about what would happen if he disobeyed that command. There was a lot to gain from such an unforeseen situation as this. Indeed, Morturion thought, smiling a small and evil smile, a huge lot to gain...
 

Mello

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As Kraskor and his new retinue left the room and the door slammed shut, there was a brief moment of silence. Then, as seemed to now be normal for this motley group, they all instantly broke into squabbling, shouting and other useless displays of power. Blades were drawn, stupid plans were hurled about.

No-one noticed Alastor re-appear though, oh no. Karl and Simon jumped a little as Alastor silently, serenly walked from behind their chairs. He ignored any gazes he got from the pair of them, almost like he was just some illusion and had no intelligence.. He gazed upon the squabbling group like a monk would his monastery.

"SILEEEEEEEENCE!" screamed Alastor, his voice shattering around the room. He blinked as a window cracked slightly, not really expecting to be so effective as the entire room fell into stunned silence. The guards didn't even shuffle.

"Before this little society" Alastor spat the word 'society' out with particular loathing and enjoyment, as the group in front of him realised what they had become. "descends into its usual pack of angry ignorant primates, I thought I'd tell you that Kraskor has told me that he is going to let himself be taken to wherever these people are holding Rohaine, if indeed he is the one they have captured. Then he will free himself and Rohaine. NO-ONE shall need to follow him, because this will result in both of their DEATHS. When the two of them are free, I will have received, mentally, the directions to where they are holed up, and we can provide a means of escape for them. Surely none of you are short sighted enough to even attempt to bicker, as time is of the essence here! Everone udnerstood?"

Inside, Alastor was seething, he honestly couldn't believe that what he had hoped would be the epitome of life were just so, so damned ARROGANT.. the air was charging with static..
 
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Being so close to the door, Nimrais couldn't hide in the shadows and then follow them, the guards had already seen her. When Kraskor offered himself up she lowered her defenses. "Interesting," she thought. She started to work out numerous ways of getting a tail on the group... following them herself, shadow puppets... but as long as she didn't know what was on the end of the journey, she didn't know how well everything would remain hidden. She looked closer at Kraskor when he moved past her. He seemed confident, even a feint hint of amusement. "This man probably doesn't need saving, he already has a plan of his own," she thought, hiding a smirk, "indeed very interesting."

"SILENCE!", it roared through the air. Nimrais turned around and listened to Alastor. So that was the plan he had.

"But Alastor, what if this Rowhaine has already been executed, since they thought he was Mircea? What if they can't escape? I'm not saying we should attack them now, but certainly sending some scouts ahead in case things go bad. What if he sends the directions too late?"
 

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Markus had waved his hand when Kraskor ordered all men move away from the doors, and reluctantly they did as they were bid, weapons still raised. He stepped closer to the necromancer, and spoke quietly, "You will stick with me ... You aren't worthy of the trust of being left by yourself." He knew clearly now the mortal's dislike of his betters, and refused to believe he would follow the older Blood Dragon's commands as stringently as he should. He, however, stood patiently as voice rose and fell, like the tide lapping against the beaches of the Tilean shore, until ...

"SILEEEEEEEENCE!" The voice grated against his sensitive hearing, loud as it was - the howl of a banshee was less painful, he decided as his ears rang. Turning to face the young Strigoi, Markus listened placidly under the mask of Shah, and was surprised to find he believed the boy.

"That seems to be a wise course of action, Young One. However, you had best hope that their deaths don't follow as a result of us not being there."
 

Mello

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"Kraskor is more than a capable fighter, I can assure you that, and 'Scouting ahead' is not an option until we know where we're going. When we reach that point, yes."

Alastor cocked his head slightly

"Any other burning questions? As I said, time really isn't on our side. Nehklior, please do tell us when we receive any information from Kraskor."

Alastor was slightly puzzled, yet faintly amused how he, the least experienced person here, had ended up as organiser of this little sorte, it really did show how little the others knew when it came down to hard, cold reality. At least he could respect Kraskor as a warrior, he indeed had a quick mind for that plan.
 
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Igot was mildly amused and impressed at the quick thinking of kraskor, but was more impressed by alastors command of the situation. However, he was one who was not going to sit around and wait. He took his cloak, swung it around his shoulders, and slowly crept out the door, behind the party of humans.
 

Get of W'soran

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Karl was both amused and annoyed by the current situation.

He watched silently and impassively from his throne as the upstart humans barged in like a bunch of animals but at least it had shut his "guests" up.

"My lord, we could have them all killed and whatever remains of the force found easily...why don't you give the order?" Dieter asked softly sounding confused.

Karl shook his head slightly.
"These humans are no threat...and the Council could do with a common foe." he replied quietly.

Just then Kraskor claimed the identify of the third Triumvirate and left with the mortals.

Karl allowed himself a faint smile as Alastor screeched out an order for silence, the Regent remained in his throne watching to see how this new Council would cope.

----------------------------------------

Nekhlior teleported back into the room, appearing beside Alastor, and looked at the destroyed entrance.

"My my...it would seem I missed some excitment." he said in his rasping tones.

The Necrarch looked at Alastor with a confused expression.

"So something has happened I take it? Where is Kraskor?" he said looking somewhat lost.

"Don't worry young one, I'm aware of the circumstances....amusing are they not? I think perhaps you should give the instructions from Kraskor, after all I think it would be fitting for one whom this so called council underestimates to be the only one with useful information." Nekhlior said to Alastor over the link.

Nekhlior was also supremely unworried although his apparent confusion was not entirely faked, he had battled against the Champions of the Gods in times long past...it did not make sense how these mere humans of this feeble Empire had managed to capture Rowhaine and his escort.
 

Simon von Carstein

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Simon smiled to himself with amusement at the turn of events. "You know Regent perhaps we should just let Rowhaine and Kraskor die." he commented. "Kraskor always did have ideas above his station and as for Rowhaine he's not exactly one of us anymore. Considering that we will be turning our eyes towards Nehekhara at some point once the rest of the old world is ours it may be advisable to let the Empire execute him."
 

Mello

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Alastor whirled around in disbelief.

"You'd rather let Rowhaine die?? Not only is he the one who summoned us here, but look how marvelously we've been doing without him, yeah, great plan to stop the decline of magic that we've formulated in the last hour or so. Rowhaine seems to be the only person in this damned place with forsight."
 

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Karl ignored Alastor's outburst, the boy certainly seemed to enjoy being loud, and returned Simon's smile.

"I care nothing for the Blood Dragon but this "Champion"...I would have him live if only for the memory of the bother I never met and his wife." the Regent mused out loud.

Then Karl shrugged and gestured to the council.
"But Imperator, you know my views on this new council."

That view being that this council will likely solve nothing and Sylvania has more important things to do. Karl thought to himself.

"This is a council matter, not a family one. I shall leave it to the council to address." he continued.

Karl's smile grew slightly as he looked at the other vampires.
"If they can manage not to get each other killed of course."
 

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Morturion quickly searched for a necromancer who was out of the sight of the guests. A young acolyte by the name of Renhurst Warphaven responded to the call of command issued from Morturion's mind.

What is your will, master? he said in a quavering, mind-bound mental voice. Morturion's reply was solid and steady: Do you see the humans that just passed down the corridor? Follow them at a safe distance. Make sure they cannot see you - also, make sure that the vampire who is on their tail cannot see you - but do not lose track of them. Take 50 skeletons or so, and a few zombies. Your group should bear Carstein heraldry. I will issue further commands later on, but you must go. Now, before the vampires get moving. You will be rewarded if you do this correctly, I promise you. The reply of Renhurst sounded more confident than before, but he still seemed to be nervous. ...Yes, master...I won't let you down.

That's that done with, Morturion thought to himself. Renhurst would not be able to be traced back to him; most like the Empire troops would think him some Carstein servant, and the council a worker-gone-rogue. I will not make them cause any trouble yet, as Kraskor may well escape the troops without any help: it would not go well for Renhurst if it was found out he was about to attack the empire fores, and if I was found to be behind it, then I could be in some trouble. But if Kraskor cannot escape...well, an attack from Renhurst's force could provoke them into killing him, their hostage, out of fear. And that would be priceless.

Seeing Nekhlior reappear, Morturion wondered whether the necrarch had been spying on the council. He felt relieved now that Nekhlior was back: at least there wasn't the threat of a greater magician observing Morturion's every move from afar any more.

Deciding to respond to the Alastor's screechings, Morturion said, almost boredly, "No burning questions from me; but I have something to offer. I have a healthy-sized force that can scour part of the forest if necessary. Shall I use it?" This should get Renhurst a little more time to get out of sight. He should be in the forest within a few minutes.

"And I also have a point to make." He raised his voice to a shout so that all in the room could hear. There was a glint of maniacal glee in Morturion's eye. At last, I can finally have some revenge. The human will be sorry for his insolence. Oh yes, he will... "I must say that it is strange that a knight enters Drakenhof, somehow survives, and asks many questions of the vampires in the room he is in. It is stranger still that shortly after his arrival, a band of humans burst in, claiming to have captured one of the greatest members of the Vampire Council, and then take Kraskor Banespike hostage. I was wondering whether these two effects could be connected...I have come to the conclusion that Kavok here-" Morturion pointed at him accusingly, "-is a spy working for the same force that has that blood dragon, and someone else - one of us - held captive. Now," Morturion intoned quietly, looking at the Triumvirate, "could you remind me what is done to spies in Drakenhof?"
 

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Kavok had ended up zoning out after he had last made a comment to think to himself some. 'Well... Seems I can't even help the undead. Wait... Damn it, why are they so nice. They are making me forget they are undead monstrosities. Why do they have to act so civilized... well... most of them act civilized anyways... Oddly enough I think the kindest one is the one who acts the least civilized. Then there is the crazy person... What is his problem? I'm not entirely sure his story make a lot of sense. I get joining a troupe of freaks and fools may have given him some people to be friendly with, but he appears to have completely ignored that when he joined. From the sounds of things he learned nothing of love or friendship from other freaks while there, yet payed way too much attention to the people laughing at the freaks. Did he not expect that? That is how groups like that make money, exploiting the weird and unnatural anomalies of life. What ever, I'm not sure I make a very good at fixing the minds of people... Especially people who have completely different lives then I've got.'

'... What was I thinking about before I got onto that? ... Hmm... OH, right. I'm supposed to hate these people. Wait... monsters... not people... Damn it... If they would just all try mauling me that would make things so much easier to figure out... But no, they have to be nice to me... Most of them... I don't think the one starting arguments with everyone is nice to anyone but the other really old looking guy. To be honest I think he is much more likely to end up dead before I do. Unless the undead are toying with me... Hmm... that could easily be the case. I don't see any reason why that wouldn't be. Though I'm fairly certain a more easily unnerved person would be much more interesting, but I guess its not everyday they get a mortal to just walk into their lair.'

'Oh why am I here... I was letting the lady lead me to where she wished me to go, but did she actually effect my journey at all, or did she just let me wander. That would be depressing. Was I just abandoned by her to what ever fate I would achieve? Or maybe she knew I would end up here and never put any faith in me. Hmm... Or maybe she is expecting questing knights to achieve glory on their own to prove themselves. Sadly I don't think that is likely to be the case... how does she expect mortals to know what she wishes if she just ignores them? Maybe she'll come visit me in a dream soon... if she hasn't abandoned me that is.'

Kavok had started to get a slightly depressed look on his face before the doors burst open. Kavok jumped ever so slightly at this, and then just looked between the new arrivals and the vampires interacted. 'Oh... well this is an interesting turn of events... Umm... I hope I don't have to choose a side in this fight. I haven't figured things out yet in my head, and fighting men of the imperium is definitely not on my to-do list right now. Though with how this group has been acting thus far I very much doubt things will end well... Most likely the hostages aren't going to get out of this without being attacked, though I guess wither those attacks prove to be at all effective is another matter entirely... And I doubt those men are going to get out alive if things go as the vampires want. I wonder if I might be able to help them... I should probably at least try.'

And then Morturion started calling Kavok a spy. 'Oh... right... I'm not an invited guest here... And now other living men showed up holding someone important hostage. Of course a line is drawn between me and them.' Feeling as though things just got quite a bit worse for him, and really not sure how he should proceed, Kavok says "Umm... I... I honestly don't know what I can say to disprove that. All I can say is that I am not affiliated with them, and that at this moment my word is all I've got. I'm bound by honor to tell the truth, but I'm sure that is something a liar would say if he were in my position, so... Either you believe me, or you don't." 'I am so screwed.'
 

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"As a matter of fact," Morturion responded, "I don't believe you, Kavok." In truth, I do not care too much for whether you're a spy or not. You embarrassed me in front of the entire council, bar Rowhaine. You will regret that. "You are a Brettonian who walks into Drakenhof castle. You do not even attempt to kill the undead around you, despite the teachings of those who worship the Lady of the Lake. Through a series of questions and conversations, you find out that necromancy is waning. This seems to be an incredibly unreal situation; the only logical answer is that this knight is a spy."

Morturion addressed the assembled vampires, and said, "Don't you see? Now this mortals knows our magic is fading. We could have hidden it before; all the mundane humans would have noticed was a few underpowered vampires and necromancers. All they would have got was a few tales from travelers abroad. If he gets out alive-" Morturion looked at Kavok, "-the Empire, and Brettonia, will find that all of us are weakening. Once they know this for certain, they will feel more confident, be more resistant to undead armies, and may even launch strikes against us. We, as a race, will lose the fear that surrounds us. This is a living, breathing threat to undeath, and this is the Vampire Council, designed to stop such threats. Well, I say that here's our first problem to deal with. I say that this man needs to be destroyed."
 

Get of W'soran

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Karl stared silently at Morturion for a few moments before answering
"Punishment depend on the severity of the crime and whether the subject is mortal or immortal, the latter being capable of suffering a great deal more pain than the former. As for spying...the same punishment as any betrayal of our trust." Karl said coldly.

A smile as warm as his tone appeared on the Regent's lips as he continued "If he is a spy he is a rather poor one for he has released no information to any outside sources since he entered these chambers. All that occurs in the halls of Drakenhof are known to us."

Karl swept his gaze over the council wondering if any quite understood just how observed they had been since entering the province.
His musing where interrupted as Ademus leant down once more to quietly update his sire once again.


---------------------------------

Nekhlior smiled faintly at Mortution's pettiness although it did not surprise him.
"I do not think that wise, a few here have already stated that they will not allow you to harm the mortal and we do not require a repeat of those threats. Of course he also can not be allowed to leave and simply repeat what he has heard here. So either he will have to remain under the guard of our gracious hosts..." Nekhlior said with a nod to the Triumvirate "Or he will have to accompany us when we leave...whether freely or if necessary there are a multitude of ways to bind one to the service of another."
 

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Morturion's lips twisted into a bestial frown. "You know I was dealt justice by the council ten years ago," he growled, "I never betrayed their trust then: I never earned it. I simply fought against the council, and I was dealt a better sort of justice than Carstein punishment. Morturion said the last words with a slight edge of loathing, and remarked, "If you have grown fond of the little knight, by all means, keep him alive. It's no skin off my nose. After all, I'm not the one fighting a full-scale war with the Empire. Though, I warn you, you can never know everything that happens in your halls. A servant of yours might not see something, or maybe they were bribed not to inform you of an occurrence. Beware the unknown; Graveclaw's entrance was unforseen by the eyes of Drakenhof, for instance. And you did not expect those soldiers of the Empire to arrive. You cannot tell the future very accurately."
 

Get of W'soran

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Karl's smile chilled further.
"When one is mentally connected to every unliving soldier garrisoning their keep and when one has immortal eyes throughout their entire domain I assure you that a great deal is known."

The Regent leant forward slightly as he stared at the Necromancer "Believe me Necromancer we see more than you know. What we react to, how we react and when we react is not your concern...now may I suggest instead of wasting your time trying to kill a single, currently unaggressive, knight or moaning bitterly about your past you instead concern yourself with the present threats to your council."
 

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Alastor raised a shaking hand to his head.. they were bickering.. again. The winds of magic shook around him, channeling into a gale

"STOP. ARGUING!!!"

Yet again, the room fell into silence. Alastor took a deep breath in. And out. He opened his eyes, all were looking at him, slightly worried.

He started speaking in a voice so calm it betrayed his anger.

"Necromancer, if you feel this knight is a spy, then you can keep watch over him while we are on this expedition if you're so suspicious. Frankly I think the rest of us have enough faith in chance to feel that this man is just extremely unlucky, but you can be the judge of that.

Everyone else, Nehklior and I have received some directions from Kraskor, follow Nehklior"


He glanced irritably at Morturion, with a slightly worried and unsure looking Kavok now accompanying him.

"I won't be.. far behind."
 
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Nimrais stepped beside Alastor. "This knight didn't come here to betray us," she said, "I don't know why he's here, but he has done us no harm and hadn't intended to do us so." She looked at Alastor and Kraskor before continuing, "Now our closest clues have gotten some information. I suggest we quit squibbling until this situation is solved. All this talking and playing has achieved nothing tonight."

She turned again to Alastor, prepared to get this endless arguing behind her, and said "Alastor, what directions have you gotten? Do you know where they are and how large their force is?"
 

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Markus watched impassively as Morturion sent his accusations at Kavok and then listened to the fall-out in silence, although he did think it was presumptuous for the mortal to refer to Rowhaine as 'one of us', as if he were anywhere close to deserving the same status as one of the Night's Aristocracy. When Alastor made his pronouncement, the vampire nodded to himself, and turned to Lukas. "Keep close to Ser Alastor; protect him." When the pre-eminent present member of the Under Guard started to object, the vampire held up his right Claw. "You will do as you're ordered."

With a sullen nod from the human, the Baron-dressed-as-Shah turned his gaze levelly on the necromancer. "You can keep an eye on the Bretonnian ... I will be keeping an eye on you. Remember that," he said factually, voice oddly flat.

With that, he turned to Nekhlior. "Lead on, Lord Nekhlior."
 

Get of W'soran

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Karl stood slowly and looked to the Captain of his Guard.

"As I said earlier Dieter, remain with the council." the Regent said softly.

Turning he bowed slightly to Nekhlior and Alastor.

"Good luck." he said simply before leaving with the Regent Guard following close behind.


---------------------------------------

Nekhlior watched the Regent leave and turned to Dieter and smiled faintly.
"I suppose that means you're joining our illustrious group." he rasped.

"Let's go Alastor, if Kraskor get's himself killed with his idiotic bravery I'll murder him." Nekhlior said before turning and striding out the main entrance.
 

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"Go on then, Shah, keep an eye on me. Or a hand, or an ear, or a nose. It's nought to me." Morturion sounded irritated, his temper had run its course.

Nekhlior's suggestion was rather absurd. "To be murdered after true death...now that would be an interesting sight to see," Morturion said with a smile. "One could call it bravery...I would call it foolishness incarnate. A little prudence can be life-saving."
 

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"I know." Sweeney Todd said. A faint ripple of thought let Peter know that Todd felt the same way. "Maybe we'll meet in the flesh again someday, but not today."

"Kenshiro is not my envoy though. As one of the Jade-Blooded, he has joined the Council as part of a quest that our former master gave him. I merely gave him my invitation. So he has his own reasons to be here. You can trust him though, he is not the sort of man who would stick a knife in your back for his own gain." Even though Peter was not trained of the mind in the manner of the Far East, it did not escape him that the telepathic relay was beginning to fail. The foreign words in his head were already getting fainter as they came, partially evaporating like a whisper on the wind.

"The link is weakening; time is running short. Farewell for now, old comrade, and all the best to you. Stay in touch." Those last words were said by two minds in unison, both Todd and Mrs. Lovette as she briefly touched on the dying link. With that the magic came to an end. With a rustle of stiff feathers, the Albatross stretched its wings and took flight. It hovered in front of Peter for a moment, two beady, long dead orbs looking into Peter's eyes. With some reluctance it turned away and amidst the clacking of joints took its place in the night sky.

**********

"That which is dead which may not eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die." Kenshiro said in response to Morturion with a faint smile of amusement on his face, having discreetly joined the group with no one any the wiser til now
 

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Morturion grunted in thought at Kenshiro's words. "Perhaps so, but whatever is happening to death, it seems that undeath is dying. That is the great mystery to solve here, sir. Now, as young Alastor has kindly pointed out, are we going to save Rowhaine, or are we just going to stand around here talking all day? The company may be amusing, but the council's leader could be dying. Let's go." And with that, Morturion turned on his heel, and briskly followed Nekhlior. He caught up with his old tutor in a few seconds, and slowed his pace. He did not want to seem too nervous over the small matter of a few empire soldiers.
 

Count Darvaleth

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Kraskor maintained an air of callous arrogance as he was marched into the forest. He relayed directions back to Alastor and Nehklior all the while, almost chuckling to himself that these men had been so easily fooled. They came to a beaten track, when the captain turned round.

"I'm surprised, Mircea. Always we'd thought you beyond capture, your strategy never failing. Yet here we have you, caught in the open. The strangest thing of all, is that you came willingly. You would swap yourself for this other vampire."

Kraskor turned to face the captain, "And why would that be strange, captain?" he asked, with a voice like distant thunder.

The soldier grunted, "I did not think your kind was capable of valour."

No, you're not.

Kraskor started, trying to hide his discomfort. The soldiers around him looked at him quizzically, before Kraskor mentioned to a nearby stream, mumbling some excuse about vampires and running water. The men took his phoney words as gospel, awed by this previously unknown weakness.

The journey continued for some time, until Kraskor reached the Empire encampment.

***

:siren: Thread locked. :siren:

OOC: If you had anything to do before you left, do it at the start of your posts in Chapter 2!
 
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