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TVC II Chapter 6 - Return to Drakenhof

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Get of W'soran

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#1
Nekhlior stepped warily out of the portal, the journey along the silver-path had been without incident and the Council, demoralised after it's complete failure in the Wastes, had remained silent for the duration.


Nekhlior lowered his staff, stopping his chanting now that they where once more in the real world. The ancient sorcerer was exhausted for his latest arcane expolits and although he attempted to hide it by casually leanning on his staff the Necrarch could barely stand.


With his last reserves of power he shut the portal behind them.


Glancing around the Main Hall which was the same from where the Council had left Drakenhof when using the portal for the first time he was surprised to see a tall young man in robes waiting for them.


It took Nekhlior a moment to remember the boy was Karl's childe Ademus, leader of the Sylvanian Magi.


"So they knew we were coming?" he thought to himself feeling confused.


"Council Members." the von Carstein greeted with a deep bow, when he straightened up he was looking at them with an expression of obvious saddness.


"I know you are tired from recent events, we have arranged rooms for each of you in the Castle with a clean change of clothes, coffins or beds can be arranged and there are facilities if you wish to wash off the dirt of the wastes. Once the others return we shall inform you at which point please attend the Great Hall, my father the Lord Regent will be waiting with nourishment and some news that we may all wish to hear."


Ademus clapped his hands and the doors behind him opened to reveal a number of humans.

"The servants will show you to your rooms and be your guides until the meeting at the main hall."


With that the Wizard waved the mortal forward to go to their assigned Council Member who they would guide to the correct quarters.

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

The damaged carriage's rattled into the courtyard just after midnight a little over 2 days after the return of the other group of Council Members, their method of travel much slower than transportation. Still the journey had not been as long as suspected, Morturion had driven the undead steeds hard unwilling to allow the assassin's any chance of catching them.


First Sergeant Kelrak stood waiting with a large number of mortal aspirant guards for the Council members to get out of the carriages.


The soldier asked no questions, from the exhausted and slightly strained expression along with his lack of questions about Dieter's absense it was clear that news travelled faster than the transports had.


"The Lord Regent will be holding a banquet for your return in the Great Hall however there will be several hours before this to allow you all to rest. My Soldiers..." he waved at the mortal aspirants "will bring you to quarters that have been set aside for each of you. Your room should have everything you need, there will also be servants at hand to take any requests you have."


He took a deep breath and waved his men forward "The others arrived a few days ago...they will be at the banquet later also, it will give the Council time to converse."


With that Kelrak nodded and strode back towards the Keep leaving the soldiers to go to their preassigned council member and guide them to their rooms.

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

The night after the group with Anya had arrived in Drakenhof the Council members where summoned the great hall by their assigned servants.


When the first arrived they would see a large dining table filled with glasses of fresh blood and other more mortal foods and beverages.


At the head of the table sat Karl wearing the fine clothing of an aristrocrat, to his right sat Satsu who wore the same uniform and mask he had worn during the skirmish in the pass except these were clean and undamaged. To the Regent's left sat his wife Emilie in a elegent grey gown and next to her was her son Ademus in long wizard robes.


A small round table sat off to the side with three Sergeants of the Regent's guard in formal clothing, although less fine than their lords. These soldieres were Kelrak, Jens and Sigmund. Another man was present in rough green clothes, he was slightly shorter than average and lean with short brown hair with a bushy beard. The four men where in deep and quiet discussion at their seperate table.


Around the walls of the room stood the mortal members of the Regent's guard, but scattered amongst their number were a small handful of masked assassins.
 
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Count Vashra

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The Hooded One gave his report in hushed tones to Niklaus. 'The cells assigned to tracing the movements of the prominent Vampire Council members report that a Second Council has been set up at Castle Drakenhof. After an incident with SKaven and Imperial forces, the Council members left for their appointed tasks, whatever those were.'
'A Second council?' Niklaus thought. This was troubling. The first had destroyed Nagash, the Lord of Undeath. What could this second one achieve, now that the Empire was badly damaged and other distractions removed? he needed to go to the Council, see what they were doing, see if he could hinder it in any way.
'Thank you. you may go.'

--

Niklaus arrived at Drakenhof in time to see damaged carriages bearing the von Carstein symbol returning. So he would reach it just in time to catch a reconvening. he began approaching the castle. It was impressive, he had to admit. By the time he arrived at the gate the current Council members had gotten inside.
Niklaus entered the great hall to see all the members already seated. A pall of darkness spread across his face, but they were thin and wispy, and he detected wards inside the castle, so allowed the shadows to disperse and stopped trying to obscure himself like that.

'Greetings, Council. I have heard of your exploits, and am impressed. it was quite a feat to destroy Nagash, and for that you have my respect.' He looked at the figures sitting at the head of the table, and recognised that they looked important. Simon von Carstein, the Lord Imperator, he knew to be blond, and none of the Vampires at the head of the table were blond, so he was absent. The Vampire he was staring at must be Karl, then, based on briefings from his network, with his wife and 'child'. There was a masked Vampire eh did not recognise, although he could detect a magic similar to his. he was some kind of Shadowmancer then.

He bowed to Karl. 'Greetings, my Lord.' He bowed to Emilie. 'Greetings, my Lady.' he finally bowed to the get. 'And greetings to you, my Lord. I have come to offer my services to this council. I am proficient in the matters of spycraft and Shadowmancy, and will endeavour to aid you in whatever way I can, within my specialist fields. I ask no reward for this. The job itself is the reward, as is the bloodflow our actions will cause. As for my name...call me the Hooded One.' He could have used his other names, but Master of Shadows and Living Shadow were probably well known to apply to him.
His introduction over, Niklaus waited for a response.
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#3
Rowhaine strode into the hall, his face like stone. The recent events had struck his confidence hard and whilst he still stood tall and walked with purpose, the ice in his eyes betrayed the frustration beneath. Anya and Phahotep both were still recovering, although they were alive and would make full recoveries. Anya had argued to attend with him, but in the end she had obeyed his command, although it would not surprise him if the spirited princess would still attend unseen.

He was one of the first to arrive, walking in just the one who called himself the "Hooded One" introduced himself. Just the ridiculousness of it all caused a surge of anger, but he bit it back before speaking.

"If we are to be allies, then it is customary to to know your name," the Champion spoke as he seated himself halfway down the table to Karl, the better to be the midst of an discussion, "recent events have shown how lacking we are compared to the first Council. If we are to make any progress, our next attempt must be much stronger. Would you not agree Regent?"
 
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#4
The night was bitter and cold outside. The moon was full, though obscured by a ragged winged shape. It settled on a grassy plain near the walls of Drakenhof. A shadowy figure dismounted from it. He gritted his teeth and decided to make a stealthy entrance. He ran towards a currently unmanned part of the foundation of the castle, from which rose up a sheer wall. If one looked hard enough, they might be able to see a faint silhouette running up a vertical wall with ease. Soon, he had entered from a balcony into a labyrinth of corridors. The stranger in black walked upside-down on the ceiling, and entered the hall.
One mortal Carstein servant in the doorway of the great hall was waiting to guide the council members to their seats. So far, only Rowhaine had come, who had taken his seat, and a newcomer who was not part of the council, and so was not his concern. He began to grow weary, his eyes drooping. Suddenly, he was startled out of his slumber by a figure clad in black dropping from the ceiling. With a calm expression, the stranger walked up to the guide. "My name is Orzon Nightwrath. I have acquired knowledge of a powerful group of vampires banding together, much like the first vampire council. I wish to ask this council if it proposes a solution to the diminishing power of Necromancy and if it does, to join it in its endeavours." he said. "Don't worry about my mount - Klaw is waiting outside the castle. Now, do you care to introduce me to the council's leaders?"
 

Count Vashra

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Niklaus thought about this. Which name? He may as well use his name. A version may work, but if someone recognised him he would be gone before evening for hiding his name. 'Very well, my Lord. My name is Niklaus.' This new person, Rowhaine if his memory was correct, looked impressive, and the casual way he spoke to Karl suggested his importance. He had better treat him with respect.
And now another newcomer had arrived Orzon Nightwrath. He didn't recognise him, so he had either not been part of the First Council, or a minor member, most likely the latter. Klaw? Not a name Niklaus would have pciked for a mount, but then he didn't know what it was.
 

Get of W'soran

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Karl nodded to the fist new arrival.

"Welcome friend, you join us at an opportune time." he greeted "The Hooded One" politely "The council is gathering and when they are here I am sure, as a whole, they will decide on your inclusion. I am merely the host of these halls."

The Regent went silent for a moment as Rowhaine spoke before nodding his agreement.
"Indeed Champion, allies should show at least that much trust. The council has much to do before it can claim to be a true successor of us who battled Nagash." he said. There was no arrogance in the vampire's words, merely a sombre observation.

Karl give the appearance of a man completely undisturbed by recent events but some of the Council, since their return, had heard stories of the Lord Regent's rage at the news of his Captain's death and how large portions of the private chambers in Drakenhof had been destroyed. If such tales were true he give no appearance of it.

Satsu didn't move but he spoke quietly behind his mask "He's a shadowmage."

Karl made no move to show that his assassin had said anything.

After a few moments the new arrival spoke and introduced himself correctly.

"Then please be seated Lord Niklaus, we will await the others."

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

The human recovered as swiftly as could be expected from the unfortunate servant.

"Yes...yes my lord." the mortal said swiftly, he had served the Triumvirate long enough to recognise one of the Immortals when he saw one.

However two shadows pulled away from the wall, forming dark three dimensional and vaguely humanoid shapes.

"Well will accompany you." the shadows said coldly.

After a few short seconds more the darkness broke away from these shadow-men to show masked vampiric Assassins with blades in their hands. They were quietly furious that this stranger had gotten so far.

Especially with the recent increase in security by the Lord Regent.

The poor mortal looked horrified at the arrival of the two assassins and meekly bowed "Yes, yes. Please follow me." he squeaked before half-running into the hall with the stranger and cowled men in tow.

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

Karl raised an eyebrow at this newcomer. He had been warned about Niklaus who had approached the castle openly, he had no idea however about this new arrival and as such considered him an unwelcome factor.

"I see we have an unannounced guest. Who, pray tell, are you sir?" he asked icily.

Satsu shifted his weight slightly, although the Arch-Assassin was unarmed he was prepared to act if necessary.

Whilst the human guards arrayed along the wall remained unmoved the assassins amongst their number watched the new arrival carefully. One wrong move or word would be all it would take for them to act after recent events.
 

Count Vashra

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'Thank you, my Lord,' Niklaus said, seating himself at the main table. 'I will accept the Council's decision whether I am accepted or rejected.' He took a glass of fresh blood, tasting it, keeping his face neutral to hide the disgust at what he was doing, what he was drinking, he felt even after nearly a century of doing it. So Karl was only the host. It made sense, he supposed. The regent of an empire could hardly go around the world with a Council on a whim.
Niklaus wondered at the need for such security as assassins escorting the second newcomer in the base of the von Carstein Empire, or at least the administrative base. Surely Sylvania was as safe as anything these days could be? And who was the masked figure?
 
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Nightwrath stood up from his place at the table - "I wish to join this council you seem to have formed - you may have the cure to the diminishing of Necromancy. If you do not, then I have no reason to be here, and I will escort myself to the exit."
 

Get of W'soran

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Karl felt distaste at the ill mannered peasant who had barged into his home.

Indeed Karl was well within his rights to simply have the intruder executed but the Lord Regent understood that the Council was too weak to refuse help.

"The council may indeed accept your membership." he said waving the newcomer to take a seat whilst nodding to his escort, with that the two assassins and servant left the hall.

Karl given the man a faint smile "But if they do not accept you then you may not leave here at all."

With that the regent clapped his hands "Please, eat and drink. It may be some time before the rest of the Council arrive."
 
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Orzon sat down heavily in his seat albeit with a calm expression on his face. "If i am not accepted, I am sure I will be able to persuade the goodly servants of this house to show me the door." He picked up a knife and neatly sliced a whole chicken in half. There was no use for the mortal food anyway.

"I have to confess that in my haste to reach this council, I didn't consider using the conventional entrance and therefore have not seen it yet
." He looked at Karl and took a sip of blood out of his goblet. "Thank you for the food, by the way. Your hospitality is clearly better than your security, my Lord." he quipped.
 

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Morturion walked into the room slowly, his eyes scanning it for important details out of habit. His mood was grim, as was the atmosphere that he predicted would fill the room. The sting of the failure suffered at the Silver Pinnacle was only intensified by knowledge of the council's failure in the wastes, and Morturion had entertained the theory that the council might be over before it had even properly started.

The necromancer noticed Karl, Emilie and Ademus sitting around the main table. The aura of the first of this trio caused a subtle shift in the wizard's stance; he seemed to become just a little bit more respecting of the Regent for a moment. He also noted the presence of the guards, assassins and officers, and the arrival of Rowhaine and a newcomer. Who has died?, Morturion wondered. The death of the Regent's Champion had been a heavy blow to the council's efforts and morale, and further deaths could have convinced the Carsteins and Rowhaine to call this banquet so that they could announce the disbanding of this group. Morturion prepared for the worst, and hoped that nobody else had died (apart from a certain few individuals who he particularly despised).

He noted a new arrival taking his seat at the table, and was close enough to hear his introduction. So Niklaus is his name. And he wants to join the council? He could have picked a better moment to offer his services - in the pass near the Pinnacle comes to mind - but then again, this group now needs all the help it can get. I hope he proves to be useful.

"Lord Rowhaine, Lord Karl, Lady Emilie, Lord Ademus," he greeted. He walked towards a seat. As he was sitting down, he said, "What are the plans for the council now? Or are they yet to decide? I would argue that we consolidate the council and seek the aid of other powerful vampires in our struggle against chaos before striking at them agai-" Morturion's words were caught in his mouth as he spotted an all-too-familiar figure who had just finished speaking to Karl. He spluttered incredulously for a moment, before an expression of outrage appeared on his face. He finished sitting down in rapid rigid, movements before, jaw clenched in indignation, he muttered loudly, "You damn well won't be accepted, scum; not if I can help it! The council's had quite enough of betrayals and ambushes already without accepting turncoat riffraff."
 

Get of W'soran

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Emilie laughed coldly and Ademus smirked at Orzon's words.

Karl didn't bother to repeat his threat although he smiled faintly. Even the greatest of their kind couldn't escape Drakenhof if it's master commanded it otherwise.

"I do pride myself on our Empire's hospitality." he said with a touch of amusement.

The Regent looked at Rowhaine.

"Although I do expect a certain level of behaviour from my quests." he added, Karl had been gravely angered by the Council's previous behaviour.

The von Carstein took a sip of blood and smiled appreciatively, it hadn't been mentioned the glasses had a subtle enchantment that kept the blood perfectly fresh. The blood itself had been drawn from the best of their prisoners, healthy and well-bred mortals who where enemies of the Triumvirate.

"So..." Karl looked at Orzon and Niklaus "Why not tell us a little about yourselves?" he raised an eyebrow "If you don't mind?"

**************************************************

Anya was resting peacefully in her room when she heard loud voices in the hallway.

"My lord! You can't go in there! Please! She must be left alone to rest!" a woman exclaimed.

"Bah! Get out of my way you hacks! I just want to make sure you didn't kill her with your ineptitude!"
a harsh voice demanded.

"My lord please! She needs peace to heal!" a man begged.

"What? And I'm not peaceful! I've lived for thousands of years! I think I know more about peace than anyone, now move before I tear your tongue out and feed it to your friend!"

There was a few seconds of silence before the door was thrown open and Neklhior came stalking through before spinning around and jabbing his staff at a old bearded man in flowing blue robes and a young pale woman in green robes.

The ancient sorcerer slammed the door in their face and walked over to a now very awake princess.

"You! Girl! Are you well rested?" Nekhlior shouted looked down at her "Did they repair you?"

Nekhlior held out a hand and moved it back and forth above Anya, a soft silver glow enveloped the air over her.

The vampire tutted loudly and muttered under his breath about charlatans.


*********************************

Karl nodded to the Necromancer as he entered the room.

"Welcome back Master Morturion." he said politely "We are glad you returned safely."

Karl had actually expected the mortal to be one of the fatalities if there where any, despite being a powerful mage he was still a fragile human.

The council would need as many powerful wizards as possible.

The Regent looked shocked by the old man's sudden outburst.

"Excuse me?" he asked Morturion, at the same time.

Satsu meanwhile frowned behind his mask at the Necromancer, wondering if Orzon was a threat.
 
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Ordo Cruentus

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Drakenhof...it has been some time... thought the figure who rode along the dark road leading to the Gothic majesty that was Castle Drakenhof.

The lithe person astride the Arabian mount wore no hood, indeed their kind had no fear of the biting cold or the weather that it brought with it, but still their features remained obscured within the deeper darkness of the night. Any who may have stood upon the road to the castle hold of the dead might have thought this a trick of magic that all the night's dark masters employed, but no whisper of magic was carried upon the winds of Chaos, and no tingle of subtle energies pulled any senses, mortal or otherwise. The rider simply did not wish to be viewed, and so they stayed away from the light of the moon and stars in the simple way available to mortal men. This obfuscation may have continued all the way into the interior of the grand castle, if not for the sudden whinnying of the horse, and the flash of a golden-brown coat in the glow of Mannslieb as the creature recoiled from their destination. This caused the rider to instinctively flex with the panicked move, going along with it smoothly while placing a steadying hand upon the neck of the nimble horse.

"Ablaj Isra, ablaj. This is a safe place. Well, perhaps not for me, but they would have to be the world's biggest fools to harm a beautiful specimen like yourself," the rider said in a soothing voice, rich with familial affection.

The words seemed to have the desired effect, and Isra ceased her skittish behavior and continued up the road to Drakenhof. It seemed that this Vampire did not command an Undead stead like many of her peers, nor the hulking Destriers replete with barding that the fearsome Blood Dragons favored, but a completely living light horse. And now that the rider of the Arabian no longer stuck to the shadows and stood fully in the rays of Mannslieb, their features were no longer a mystery. It was a slim, athletic looking woman atop the horse. She sat in the style of the rotas of Kislev, yet wore the riding leather in the style of a well-off Road Warden of the Empire. The weapons upon her being and stead marked her as a person of martial ability, and the easy confidence of her movement hinted at ability far beyond mere competence. The moonlight revealed a face that carried none of the pale marble of Vampires, indeed her complexion was much darker than the living chattel of Sylvania, marking her as a foreigner to these lands. The ebony of her hair was kept short in the popular stylish practicality of Estalian Diestros: long enough to have layers and flair, but not long enough to grab in a pitched battle.

This Vampire was certainly an oddity, even among her own kind.

Finishing her ascent to the castle, the rider, known to her various Von Carstein employers as Rosa El-Hashem, passed beneath the portcullis and swiftly dismounted her horse. She walked Isra over to the stables and passed the fine horse to one of the servants. She did not fear be challenged, as she had been to this place many times, even if her current horse hadn't. The swordswoman entered the great hall without preamble, not even informing a servant of her presence so that they might inform their masters. Rosa was a woman of action, and required none of the aristocratic fopery that many of the upper echelons of Vampire society seemed to require just as much as blood. She spotted the gathering of Vampires, some of which sat in the Council, and made a direct path for them.

"It seems that we are suffering a bit of a 'set back' my sadiqs. Perhaps I can be of assistance?" Rosa said with an unreadable smile by way of greeting.

It was true that Rosa had been an excellent soldier during the war with Nagash, and an invaluable private agent during the subsequent war with the Empire, but her reputation was not one that made her arrival a joyous one. Among the Blood Dragons, her dishonorable approach to combat made her a disgrace, and for the other Bloodlines, her insistence on a mercenary relationship with the Council instead of swearing fealty left many of her employers with a sour taste in their mouths. Still, she had a code of conduct once a deal was agreed too, and was one hell of a warrior.

There could be worse visitors.
 
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Meanwhile, in a room containing a few certain people, Orzon Nightwrath looked at Morturion. "Ah, Morturion old friend. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting to see you here. I remember those days in Nagash's army."
 

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Niklaus was not entirely pleased with having to reveal his past - it was awkward, to say the least - so he settled for a half-truth. Anyway, he felt Karl's aura and could not help, despite his best efforts, treating him with a lot of respect and yes-man ship. In fact he needed all his self-control not to bow on the spot with every word.
'Regent, I have a history which some may call interesting. I am not as old as I suspect many on this Council to be, yet due to a lifelong focus in the arts of trickery and illusion have mastered Shadow magic to a high degree, having trained since before I can remember.
My siring...My sister, whom i loved dearly, was an artist. One day she fell for a vampiress, and was soon turned. I asked her not to feed on the innocent, but she wouldn't listen, and eventually sired me, also against my wishes. I hated myself and her for a time, but I came to enjoy the heightened magic ability my condition gave me, and looked forward to immortality with my sister. it was not to be, for she was tracked and killed by witch hunters, to my great distress. After that, however, I have done my best to remove emotions from my life and decisions, and have been living a secretive life. i came here because I too wanted to discover why necromancy was fading.
And that is my story, Regent.'
Niklaus heard a woman's voice, and turned to see a female vampire enter the room. Again he did not recognise her. There was also a person who looked like a walking corpse who entered. His heartbeat and curtain of necromantic energy suggested he was a human Necromancer. He searched his memory. Ah yes, Morturion, a former servant of Nagash, now evidently forced to work for the Council whilst eh rebuilt his strength. How did he know Orzon? What was the connection? What was the enmity? He would have to find out.
 

Get of W'soran

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As Rosa entered the castle servants threw open the doors of the castle for this Immortal, hurriedly moving out of her way as she passed.

Behind her scampered some of the Castle's mortal guards but she paid them no heed.

The assassins stationed in the castle recognised Rosa and decided no watching was necessary, she had long proven herself to be a trustworthy soldier to the Sylvanian Immortal Lords.


*****************************************************

Karl nodded at Niklaus's story and smiled a little sadly.
"Not all of us are entirely willing at first." he said sympathetically "And our beginnings are sometimes...unpleasant."

The Regent smiled a little more happily after that. "I am sure the council will be glad to have another skilled wizard amongst their ranks."

Karl turned at the sound of a new arrival.

He frowned when no one announced her feeling somewhat confused that his people would simply let her pass although there was something vaguely familiar about her.

Satsu leant over "A mercenary who has served in your employee my Lord. A Blood Dragon which lacks the usual conditioned weaknesses of their kind."

Karl glanced at the Arch-Assassin, impressed again by the other vampire's perfect recall although he didn't bother to ask why he knew this information. I wouldn't surprise him to know that Satsu knew a little something about every Vampire who had passed through von Carstein Territory at one point or another.

Although the information seemed accurate due to her informality and it would explain why Karl only vaguely recognised her since he had taken a step back from the Military side of things for the past few years, Micrea would know her a lot better he suspected.

"Rosa El-Hashem." Satsu added softly.

"Ahlan wa sahlan Sayyidah El-Hashem." Karl said politely although he knew the use of her home language was very rusty.

"Please be seated, the Council will all gather soon and can decide on your inclusion."
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#17
"A setback is somewhat of an understatement," Rowhaine said harshly as the brash female vampire addressed them, "what happened both at the Silver Pinnacle and in the Wastes was no accident. The whole this was perfectly planned, and the face we escaped with so few casualties was a miracle."

Rowhaine leaned forward before pushing himself to his feet. With nothing to do over the past few days his muscles were pregnant with the need for action and he slowly paced around the room, clasping his arms behind his back.

"It was bad enough that the powers of Chaos were able to blind us, however...." Rowhaine turned on his heels, eyes narrowed as the looked at the Regent, "I still have not yet been answered as to why vampiric assassins, those of your bloodline, assaulted the Council members at the Silver Pinnacle? The Princess barely survived the encounter."

"Graveclaw warned you about Carsssteinsssss." The rumble of the Strigoi echoed from the hallway, a mortal servant hesitantly hopping alongside the towering vampire as he tried to reach the main doors before him. With a burst of speed the servant made ground and opened his mouth to announce Graveclaws arrival, only to quail for a moment as the Strigoi's yellow eye glared at him. Caught seemingly between a rock and a hard place, the man gulped, remembered his training and who his masters were before squeaking,

"Announcing the arrival of Lord Graveclaw!"

"Graveclaw isssss no lord!!" the vampire snarled in return, before roughly brushing past the man. As usual he gave no sign of respect or interest in the names of the newcomers. Only his inflating nostrils and swift glowing eyes told that he was taking in the scene in.

"He issss right," Graveclaw rumbled, a long claw pointing at Rowhaine, "Carsteinsssss are liarssss! Betrayerssss!"


****************


"What are you doing?!" Anya exclaimed as Nekhlior waved his hands in the air over her. She swiftly sat upright in indignation, only to realise the swift movement had caused he thin slip to pull down and reveal her breasts. Going crimson with rage Anya pulled her slip back to a more modest position before batting away the vampires hands,

"I am as healed as I can be, stop doing that!"
 

Count Vashra

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So that's what Graveclaw looks like, then, Niklaus thought. He looks quite impressive. i'm sure he could crush anyone in this room. Except, of course, when I shadow-merge away from him. And I can see why he hates the von Carsteins. Niklaus knew that the von Carsteins among others, had hunted down the Strigoi as game. Though I do believe these manners are not suitable for Regent Karl's castle, von Carstein or not. If anything did happen, Niklaus was sure his Shadow magic could keep him alive until the Strigoi was brought to, well, heel.
This was a bloodline dispute, although Graveclaw hated every other Vampire as well - Niklaus was confident he could convince Graveclaw he wasn't on the Vampires' side...technically - so it would b best to stay out of it.Just in case, he had another sip of blood to give himself a bit of extra power.
 

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#19
"Thank you, it is not often I hear the language of Araby. Though...It-tikraar yiallim il-humaar. Do not worry about it, my lord," Rosa replied with a slight inclination of her head.

She walked slowly across the room, akin to a panther in her lazily graceful movement that promised a predatory nature underneath the exterior nonchalance. The easy movement masked the scrutiny of her raptor gaze, as the mercenary evaluated the Vampires that stood about the room. Karl was a known factor, and had long ago been placed in the internal 'income source' ledger in her mind, despite his power and position. The Vampire with the husky voice and the dark clothing was unknown to her, though the tickling feeling on her neck hairs spoke of sorcery, and she had long ago learned to trust that feeling. However, as the man did not sit on the Council, his necromantic prowess was perhaps not in that league, so she filed him away under an appropriate threat level. The pale rail of a Vampire was almost impossible to see, even with the eyes of a Vampire, which spoke to a real talent. He was similarly filed away. Her gaze did momentarily freeze on Satsu however. A flash of professional resentment passed through her slim frame. He had cost her much patronage in the past, and she didn't care for that. He even claimed the title of Arch-Assassin, as if his association with an organization and training in the arts of Nippon made him a more accomplished killer than she!

"Omak zanya fee erd..." she whispered under her breath at the thought.

Further discernment of the room's occupants was interrupted by the angry retort of Rowhaine, and the angry hissing of the Strigoi. Indeed, without thinking, her hand dropped to the hilt of her blade and Rosa went to the balls of her toes on instinct. He was large, furious, and it wouldn't surprise her if he flew into a killing rage. Best to watch that one.
 

Get of W'soran

CN's Lord of Masks
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#20
The Regent smiled pleasantly at Rosa's response.

Karl sat silently with hands loosely clasped and resting on the table, he watched Rowhaine and listened quietly to the angry champion. The Regent even calmly took the implied accusation from the mortal. He then watched as Graveclaw stormed in and roared his usual mindless blather about the von Carsteins.

Karl resisted a sigh at the usual predictable behaviour but at least the beast wasn't leaping around the place as he did last time.

"Graveclaw please. I have never been dishonest with you despite your eternal bitter hostility."

The Regent transferred his gaze to Rowhaine.

"I had planned to explain the situation after the rest of the Council arrived but if you are so insistent...then Satsu will tell you what we know." Karl said smoothly.

Satsu stood from his seat in a single fluid motion. The masked vampire clasped his hand behind his back and looked at the other vampires, with his gaze lingering on Graveclaw before he began.

"The men who attacked us where indeed von Carstein assassins, the leader who I dispatched was one of Akarin's highest ranked officers." the assassin said in his magically disguised voice.

Satsu sighed softly. "I suppose I'll just start near the beginning then. As some of you may know Akarin was the first leader of our Order and was killed by the Great Necromancer during the final battle between Nagash and the Council. His Lieutenant was Silibar, the silver-haired vampire who killed Captain Dieter was killed in the war by Reapers."

The Arch-Assassin sighed "Simon managed to recover Silibar's remains and resurrect the vampire swiftly who took Akarin's place as Arch-Assassin. Later he rebelled against the Triumvirate although..." Satsu paused to glance at the Regent before glancing at Rowhaine "We're not exactly sure why he rebelled."

Satsu shrugged "He has been a thorn in our side ever since. When he rebelled he took a number of the Order with him and I took his place as the Leader of the Loyalist forces."

Karl then interjected "We are unsure why he attacked the Council except to eliminate Dieter or more worryingly how they knew you would be there."

"It is possible they have made contact with these Chaos forces."
Satsu added.

Karl slammed him palm onto the table "No conjecture Satsu." he told his servant sternly.

Satsu bowed his head and then looked back to the council "I am sorry but that is all we know for sure."


******************************************************

Nekhlior tutted at the girl's response.

"You are not yet fully fixed girl! Stop being foolish! You are clearly unwell!"

Too fast for a human to stop him he pressed a skeletal finger into Anya's cheek "Your pallor is all wrong, you must be unwell."

"She's a pretty one! Reminds me of Lesa."
The shade of V'azrin said, the delusion forming at the side of the room and walking over to the bed to lean down and look closely at the girl.

If Nekhlior still had eyes he would have rolled them. Maybe instead of worrying about the girl he should be fixing his own mind to get rid of the damned vision of his dead brother.

"Still...once burned and all that." the shade said straightening up and striding away to look out the window.

Nekhlior shook his head slightly before refocusing on the girl.

"If you're so healed then why aren't you at the banquet with the Champion?"
 
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The Dread King

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#21
Morturion had instantly regretted his outburst after he made it and had decided to calm himself. Of course, the presence of one of the most hated traitors to Nagashizzar in existence was aggravating, and his greeting aimed at the necromancer was infuriating, but Morturion knew that he should have handled the situation in a dignified way. I miss those days in Nagash's army that he refers to. Back then, traitors were dealt with in a much more amusing fashion. But now, I suppose I'll just have to comfort myself with the fact that if he joins the council, he has a better chance of ending up getting killed. He relaxed himself slightly with the morbid thought - though he remained openly hostile to Nightwrath. He replied to Karl, without even looking at Orzon, "A former associate from Cripple Peak. Halfway through the war with the vampire council, this vampire faked his own death and subsequently deserted Nagashizzar before it could be discovered that he was yet alive. I cannot deny that I view him with a certain...disdain...because of this treacherous action; no doubt your perspective as a council operative in the last war will mean that you see him somewhat differently to me." It had to be admitted, Morturion thought gloomily. It's likely that I have only succeeded in making him new friendships amongst the many moronic anti-Nagash sympathisers gathered here with my outburst and the explanation that it prompted.

Morturion noticed that yet another stranger called Rosa El-Hashem wishing to join the council had arrived. He was briefly worried by the prospect of him becoming involved in its seemingly significant turnover rate, but he dismissed the chilling thought as quickly as it had set upon him. He had also heard Niklaus' story, and immediately became rather skeptical of it. The necromancer scrutinised internally, First he refuses to divulge his name, and now he casually explains the story of his life? I don't believe a word of it.

Returning to his internal analysis of Rosa, the necromancer concluded that she seemed, at first glance, to be formidable, sensible and direct. She did not seem to possess the pointless and annoying madness of the twins, embody the imbecilic stubbornness of Kraskor, or ooze the ceremonial arrogance of Shah. This was only a first impression - but it was not a bad one. Any talents that could be put to military use that she might have would be valued assets in this time of need for the council, and she seems to be able to keep calm - unlike Rowhaine and Graveclaw, the latter of whom has now decided to blame the Carsteins for the attack in the pass. He marvelled at the stupidity of the beast, smirked and clapped his hands in a mocking fashion. "Pure genius, Graveclaw. Of course the Carstein empire would send assassins which they need to fight the Empire to kill the council that they have decided to support. Of course they would instruct their guardsman to fight these assassins, and the 'target' of their attacks - the person who they went out of their way to kill - would be the aforementioned guardsman. I say we abandon these treacherous Carsteins now and retreat to your powerbase, Graveclaw. Oh, wait a minute - that's right - you don't have a powerbase! This sort of attitude is just ridiculous," Morturion challenged Graveclaw and Rowhaine. "I agree that we need to find out more about these rebel assassins - are you holding any of them captive at the moment, Lord Karl? Some interrogation about any knowledge they might have of this attack could be invaluable. However, the Carsteins cannot be made fully accountable for the attack. At the very worst, they could be accused of not putting down an internal rebellion diligently enough." If the Carsreins wanted to destroy the council, they would have killed us when we arrived at Drakenhof, Morturion reasoned internally.

He continued, "I believe that what should be done in this situation is considering the council's next move, rather than constructing illogical conspiracy theories. Should we search for allies in the imminent struggle with chaos? Should we combine the forces at our disposal? Should we attempt to spy on the chaos forces again in some way? Our plan of action is most certainly open to discussion. "

"And what of your gods, Rowhaine? Why were they unable to forsee and forewarn us against these attacks - do you know how chaos managed to fool them? How powerful are they, in actuality? I want to know, because so far, they have fallen far short of widely held expectations for them. I want to know what power this council can fall back on, because as far as I am concerned, after these two travesties in the wastes and at the Pinnacle, I can't afford to make any assumptions about them."
 
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Disciple of Nagash

The Perverted One
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#22
Graveclaw snorted at Morturion's mocking words, eyes looking down at the puny necromancer's form,

"Ssssay all the clever wordssss," he hissed back, "I ssssaw the Carsssteins in the firsssst war, when they sssstab you in the back, then you'll remember this."

Rowhaine listened, to the Regent, Satsu and then Morturion, who again seemed unable to stop the running of his mouth.

"Your thoughts on my attitude are none of my concern," the Champion replied, "and you make an assumption that Graveclaw's words are mine. I have not made any accusations, I have simply asked for answers which I have not received. I suggest you consider your words just as carefully before including others in sweeping statements. You forget, I was once von Carstein myself." Rowhaine turned back to Karl and Satsu,

"I appreciate the explanation, though I will admit I am concerned that this rebellion was not mentioned previously. I know that normally internal conflicts are not highlighted, but considering the nature. These are assassins specifically trained to destroy vampire kind! To have them rebel at such a time, whilst I agree conjecture should be kept to a minimum, it seems to be a coincidence.

Whilst Morturion seems to be more interested to move on from this incident, I feel this is something that must be strongly factored in. This is not a minor force, from the reports this was a major force, and certainly a potent one if they were able to destroy Captain Dieter and severely injure Princess Anya. They knew what they were doing, they had clear targets, it was an expertly planned attack. So it seems we have a trained army of assassins, each who know the Carsteins lands and strongholds intimately to add into the equation."

Rowhaine drew a breath as we wondered where the other Council member's were, before continuing,

"In response to your question Morturion, you ask questions even I cannot answer. How powerful are any of the gods? The Nehekharan gods would seemingly be more potent than most, certainly their interaction with this world, the gifts they grant many of us. Yet just as in this room there are those of the same kind, some are stronger than others in different ways. It would seem that amongst the gods there are similar differences, and whilst they try to assist us, Asaph and her kin battle against the gods of Chaos. As for your thoughts and assumptions about them, I assure you that they have little interest in your opinion."
 
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Count Vashra

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#23
Niklaus listened to Morturion first admonish Graveclaw and then talk about options. Niklaus did have a spy network, but due to the nature of it he wasn't sure where any of the cells actually were, and he doubted a Vampire Council would accept the aid of mortal spies. What should they do? Obviously they needed to focus on Chaos, but how to proceed? He wasn't sure where allies would come from, unless more Vampires arrived, and if the council had already tried and failed to reachb the Wastes, then this time Chaos would be more prepared. And he suspected the Nehekharan gods would not be extremely useful, having been fooled once already, though Rowhaine did seem to exude divine power.
And how well would the Council hold together if Graveclaw couldn't control his hatred of the von Carsteins?
There was certainly, as the Necromancer had said, much room for discussion.
 

Get of W'soran

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#24
Silibar sat back down as the others spoke.

Karl raised a hand and looked at Morturion.

"I thank you for the defence Master Morturion but it is unnecessary, if Satsu's explanation isn't good enough I will answer any direct questions posed to me. I am afraid we currently do not have any of them held...it tends to be...dangerous to hold them for too long and they often kill themselves when we are about to capture them."

The von Carstein shifted his gaze to Graveclaw "If you are referring to that incident with V'azin...well I am sorry that your mind has not improved much."

Karl turned to Rowhaine and nodded slightly before sighing "Frankly Champion, at the time it was none of your concern and it would have been improper for me to simply disclose information about our internal affairs. They rebelled eight years ago, we could not know that they would be involved with the level of information we had at the time."

The Baron looked regretful as he continued "This was my mistake and mine alone. I can only apologise and try to make up for my mistake."

"To that end...although I still can not personally accompany the council, I am willing to dedicate as much of our Empire's resources as you need to help. But we can discuss that more later when the others arrive."

Karl hesitated for a minute as he looked at the others before continuing "I'm afraid I have something a little more disturbing to tell you about the assassin attack. Satsu tells me that many of the assassins where only a few years sired at most. Apparently there where only two members involved in the attack that where of note. Salvator was a former high ranking Commander, the Shadow-Mage and obviously Silibar."

Satsu continued on from where his master stopped "Which means Silibar is holding the majority of his properly trained and experienced men in reserve . He is currently relying on those that he's sired since his rebellion."

Satsu left the implication unsaid but it wasn't hard to work out "It could have been much, much worst."
 

Count michael

The Undead Sparky
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#25
Mikhail was promptly annoyed and highly irritated as entered the wrong room again, slamming the door shut violently before turning to glower at his wight companions "I bet you find this funny don't you" though they just stared at him silently before following him as he stormed off their armour clanking. For the last few hours Mikhail was hopelessly lost wandering aimlessly around the castle after a failed attempt to prove he was better than the vampires by getting to the meeting before anyone else. Suddenly he began to smell something, coming from up ahead came the distinct aroma of food as well as the stink of the undead trusting hi nose more than his sense of direction he set off with the wights in tow until he came to a great door, his hunger getting the best of him he pushed through the doors quickly gazing around at those around briefly before literally running at the table of food. Grabbing a massive plate of meat and a flagon of ale before throwing himself into the nearest chair with his feet propped up on the table and began to greedily eat rather messily and noisily whilst the wights took up position behind him standing guard. "I have to admit" Mikhail said in between mouthfuls "You undead sure know how to throw a good feast"
 
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