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TVC - Chapter 46 - Beauty and the Beast

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Simon von Carstein

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"If the countess wants to go to the grave with her sceptre. I can easily make sure of it." said Simon his face morphing slightly. "As for Damek I'd trust him about as much as his sire. If he is working for the Lahmians then you can bet he will be the only one who ultimately benefits from it."
 

Disciple of Nagash

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"We want to try and do this without causing an uproar Simon," Lesa reminded him as she watched his face change slightly, "I think whatever we do someone will need to keep a watch on Tremere, and to be blunt it will need to be one of us who are powerful enough to stop him should he try to act against us.
As for hypnosis, I doubt it would work. She has people watching her who would notice she is acting strangely. Plus whilst we are shielding ourselves now, it is likely that we would be detected by one of the wizards, as you would have to open yourself up to glamour someone. Since Akarin seems intent on messing things up, perhaps a distraction of somekind? Possibly in the confusion someone could take the Sceptre without revealing what they are? It doesn't matter if they think a human stole it, as long as they do not realise who we really are."
 
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Jason stepped forward removing his mask his smooth and handsome features turned to a grim smile as he spoke "Because after the party, This place will be locked down and we wont have a way in. Until another social gathering, And I tell you know those walls are an outright nightmare to leap over and that's about the only way we can get in, I don't think there really going to let us around for drinks" He shot a look to Simon before continuing
"I also believe we have a schedule to keep, So it's now or never."
________________________________________________________________________________

Vaskatchi walked on to the ballroom floor; he was in his element here and relished in the moment as he walked through the nobles and saw a familiar face in the crowd.
"Markus, and Peter was it?" Markus turned to see the proud vampire lord walk over toward him
"Where have you been brother, it feels like its been an age since I set eyes on you. I cant seem to recall if there was a reason for that..." Harrindir pondered for a moment and continued
"Any way how have you been in that mountain of yours ? And how is this ball ?"
 

Get of W'soran

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A quietly amused voice whispered out from a shadowy corner of the Balcony,
"Appearance's can be decieving my dear."

The vampires turned, no doubt mostly surprised for someone to sneak by their vampiric senses, perhaps even more surprisingly was the smirking form of Akarin crouching out of sight.

"I am constantly underestimated by the council it seems...you all know the type of work I do...aside from my family Jason has seen it first hand...do you believe I would allow myself to get purposely drunk?" he asked looking sincerly hurt. "I felt slightly dizzy for a time...although I admit for myself that is extreme intoxication."

"Anyway I can either help with the infiltration, and if I do I wish for Jason's help...he was a great asset in earlier days long gone, or I can keep up my apperance and cause a distraction." he finished.

The assassin stood and grimaced slightly
"I also would like to watch Damek but...but I doubt I'd be capable of stopping him." he muttered

"Call me if you wish anything my Lord." he said bowing to the Count.

Turning away the vampire slipped out of the balcony without a sound.

_______________________________________

Akarin appeared silently in a group of mortals smiling to broadly, his breath smelling of alcohol and being very talkative he kept the forced appearance of drunken joy despite the constant compliments he heard of that damned Tremere's music.
 

Disciple of Nagash

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Lesa watched thoughtfully as Akarin disappeared. For all his words he wasn’t entirely sober, though perhaps not as drunk as they thought he was. However he did have a boyish charm that might be of some use…….

“I agree that Akarin, whilst…..trained to deal with our kind would find it difficult to match Tremere. I assuming Simon would want to keep a close eye on the Ruby so either I or Mircea should watch him. Jason is also right, we are here now. The guards have plenty to keep them occupied, and if we succeed it would also make everyone here a suspect, meaning the resulting chaos should may it easier for us to disappear.
I was thinking, perhaps Akarin could approach and attempt to”woo” the Countess? This along with his apparent intoxication could provide an adequate distraction?

[hr]

The Duke looked thoughtfully before finally replying,
“I think it may be known as the widow’s walk, but I am not certain. It is too flimsy a defence for me to have ever considered it. Personally I would have built something more robust, but the humans have obviously gone for appearance over use.”
 

Gree

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''The walls are no problem at all for myself, I can easily turn into mist or bats to move over them, or into a rat to crawl in the sewers below if needed to be, and we would only need to strike as everyone leaves, I all simply have ot do is aqquire the item and fly away with it'' Mircea said.
 
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"Well after tonight you can show me how well you can resemble a rat and I'm sure it will be very nice." Jason shot mercia a small smile as he continued.
"So then who is going to grab the gem? "
 

Gree

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''I can do so right now if you wish, we should be hidden enough for me to transform briefly'' Mircea offered. He shank and morphed into a large black rat, then into a bat that fluttered, then into mist then back to human.

He looked around, nobody else from the party had seen him behind the large, heavy curtains, only the Council.

''I can easily infiltrate and do it after the party''
 

Disciple of Nagash

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"I think you are underestimating the humans Mircea," Lesa said with a tired voice, "as our kind usually do. I have no doubt that once the guests have gone, there will be physical and magical wards to will be activated. They may not be activated now, but I can still sense a lingering power to them."

Something below caught her attention and she peered over the balcony.

"Whatever we are going, it had better be fast," she said after a moment, "something is going on. The guards down there are getting ready for some reason. Simon, this is your ruby, what do you want to do?"
 

Sweeney Todd

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Todd's perpetual sulk was stained with an approximation of a smile, but it was a radiant Mrs. Lovette who cut in to answer

"Great, it's good to have a night out once in a while innit?" She trilled

In the meantime, however, it had not escaped Todd's notice that the guards were discreetly mobilising. The Carsteins' motives were not above suspicion either, so that left him with but one place to go.

"Business calls, so please excuse us." Todd said as he nudged his dance partner towards Lesa, Simon and the other von Carsteins.
 
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"Graham, what a good strong name for a strong man," replied the Baroness with a wink. She moved closer to the Strigoi, so close that the towering beast was almost overpowered by her expensive perfume.

The noblewoman snatced at Graveclaw's hand and pulled him into the middle of the swirling couples. All the spinning and bright colours were making Graveclaw feel dizzy and confused.

The Baroness spun faster as the music sped up, and Graveclaw tried desperately to keep up. He was not an expert on the human mating rituals, but he thought the male of the species was supposed to take the lead. Judging by the way this female was pulling and pushing him, he assumed he had been wrong.

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

Peter nodded curtly to Jason's get, before hurrying after Lord Todd. He too had spotted the gathering guards and was concerned. He was stood in the middle of an enemy fortress without his armour and hardly any back up. No wonder Walach thought he was a disgrace to the Order.
 
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Master Bates moved forward from an upper level of the ball room, surveying the area as he noticed the man Vaskatchi had just spoken to move away towards a curtained balcony. There was more than met the eye, at this event and Bates was craving to find out all he could.
"Are them men ready?" Bates said coldly
"Yes my lord, and the Witch hunters are on there way to investigate" The guard captain said, a hint of fear carrying on his voice.
"Good, target Vaskatchi and the man he was just talking to he may give us more information about these 'Vampire'. Make sure he stays with us, I don't want to order to catch him and burn him alive that wouldn't do I know where I will take our prisoner and interrogate him"

The captain moved away and left bates to hang over the balcony, watching intently at Vaskatchi as he spoke to Markus his eyes fixed on them like a vulture finding a meal. Bates grinned devilishly, as he got settled for the show wondering how it would turn out in his favor or against it.
 

MasterSpark

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-"Now what's stirring the pot?" Helena sighed quietly as she and her partner watched Todd and Mrs. Lovett disappear into the crowd. Suddenly, something large bumped into Ashlotte from the side with enough force to make her lose her footing. Aubervillier caught her before she plummeted to the floor and they could see the enormous form of Graveclaw moving past them with his dance-partner in tow, the baroness giggling an apology to Helena and Aubervillier as the led her tall man around the ballroom.

Helena could barely keep her eyes off of the two after Ashlotte was back on her feet. "They often say that a ball permeates the air with romance and love. Now who could possibly prove otherwise when even Graveclaw have managed to find someone?"
 

Simon von Carstein

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"To be honest Lesa I'm all ears." replied Simon "I don't like the look of the guards gathering down there. I suggest we get the Ruby now. But to do that we need a distraction."
 
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As if on cue, the Gods were willing to provide the required distraction. However, as many on the Council were well aware, the Gods enjoy a joke as much as the next immortal beings.

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

As the music increased yet again in tempo, Graveclaw felt something gurlge inside him. To the confused Vampire, it seemed as if the world was spinning. A wave of nausea swept over him.

"I thinksssss I need to ssssssstop sssssspinning," groaned the Strigoi. With these words his stomach heaved, and he emptied its contents onto the Baroness.

Now, the contents of a stomach are never pleasant, but the poisonous bile that a Strigoi can cough up is something else. All around the hulking brute, other party goers began to gag and run towards the balcony. Many however were not lucky enough to make it.

The Baroness was furious. She began to pound Graveclaw's chest with her fists. Too dazed and confused to do anything else, he stumbled backwards into a table that was daintly arranged with drinks and nibbles. The ensueing crash was enough to attract the attention of the guards, as well as the eyes of the Countess herself.
 

Simon von Carstein

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Simon rushed to look over at the dance floor. "and there it is." he said to himself. Looking back over to Lesa and the others he said "This is my cue. Carry out the rest of the plan." Running over to countess with all the grace of a dancer he seized the sceptre from her hands. "Thank you my dear for looking after my property." he smirked.
 

Disciple of Nagash

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As the guards reacted Lesa raised her hands,
"Cover your eyes!" she cried to the other Council members. A second later a bright light filled the room, temporarily blinding everyone who had not covered their eyes in time. Seeing the the shining haze that Simon had grabbed the sceptre, Lesa thought now would be as good a time as any to escape. It was upto the Count to see if he could make it past the guards, but before she did.......

Keira snarled as the bright light burned her eyes, but that was nothing to what happened next. From nowhere a sharpened stake drove itself into her heart, followed by a giggling laugh,
" Told you I hadn't forgotten bitch."
 

Get of W'soran

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Tremere's natural magical power and defensive wards had simply repulsed Lesa's spell from his person, meaning that the magic had not blinded the von Carstein.
However seeing Simon using the rather unstrategic plan of simply grabbing the ruby he decided to help in his way.
He started playing the piano at a maddening pace, the noise was intertwined with a a subtle kind of magic, the arcane power affected the ears of every mortal in the room.
The magic caused the mortal's to become slightly sluggish, some of the weaker willed ones even felt a blanket of total confusion settle on their minds.
_______________

Akarin stumbled drunkenly into two guardsmen with his eyes still closed.
As they where still blinded, the flash having only just went off and so they didn't see his quicksilver gesture as he unsheathed his dagger slitting the mortals throats.

Quickly wiping the blade clean on the dying mens uniform he sheathed the blade and losing the drunken persona he quickly made his way towards the Marshal.
 

Trevy the Great

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"Indeed, as if all this delicate wood and expensive frippery could withstand a concerted attack." Victarias replied, "I would have thought that the aris..."
She spun quickly as a commotion sounded from within the dance hall; yells, gasps and complaints followed by a brilliant light that shone through the windows like a sun, throwing bright shadows about the balcony. Victarias removed her hand from her eyes, white aftervisions nearly blinding yet more, flitting about her eyes like ghosts as they dissipated and it flew to her side. Cursing at the lack of a sword she found there and lithely lifting her leg, ignoring the flap of her dress lifting about her as she pulled a thin, long-bladed dagger from her tall boot.
"Something has happened." She commented unnecessarily to the Duke, "hopefully it does not interfere with our mission. Come."
Holding the knife at the ready, she pushed open the doors of the balcony and entered the chaos within.
 
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Sitting at a table near the dance hall, hidden behind the mask of a Doe, Hati sat quite alone in body and mind.
She had arrived unannounced and unnoticed, and had remained so for the entirety of the ball. At first she had amused herself by walking around, observing all the finery and opulence, setting her amazement against the pangs of loneliness and guilt she felt.
She had been resigned to this though, since Müller had refused to accompany her. She knew that she simply couldn't compete for attention in this atmosphere and present company armed only with an immature body and a covered face.
The flaunted wealth though could only amuse her for so long, and so now she simply sat and cursed herself for driving away the one person who could have made the evening a truely enjoyable one, for she held no doubts that her current predicament was entirely on her shoulders. She had been the epitome of tactless and rude in demanding Müller accompany her...
Her thoughts turned back to him, and in turn, back to the day they first spoke to each other. Back when she hated him more than almost any other creature...

[hr]

An icy sheet of subzero wind and ice blasted her, the snow storm slowing her horse to a crawl as they trudged through stereotypical Kislev weather. Hati shivered uncontrollably under thick fur coats, and looked back behind her.
The Werewolves fought through thigh deep snow, following the wake of the horses in the front of the column, Bisclavret de Gévaudan at their head, a giant black figure on a monster of a horse.
They where moving farther north and east, trying to lose the witch hunters and armies of angry mobs they had begun to accumulate like flies on a corpse as they passed through the Empire.

Bisclavret had sent a scouting party ahead to find any settlement they could rest at, lead by his attack-dog Müller. Though their bodies where beyond the icy clutch of death and this inhospitable weather could not kill them, it was still supremely uncomfortable.
They where tracking the scouts by scent, but even with their supernatural senses, it wasn't easy in these conditions.
As they struggled on however, Hati noticed the darkness of the storm begin to lighten in front of her, giving way to a reddish hue. At first she didn't understand and thought her eyes where playing tricks on her, but the sight of a sudden tongue of flame in the distance made her realize there was a large fire in front of them.

As they approached closer she understood completely the reason for the huge fire. The Werewolf scouting party had indeed found a human settlement, and most of it was now burning.
The ground looked like molten fire, the red of frozen sheets of blood reflecting the dancing flames of the burning buildings. Bodies where strewn about, broken but not yet torn.
Müller had tried to kill as many as possible before they escaped into the snowstorm. The weather would freeze the corpses and they could ration them out latter. She was suddenly grateful for the weather. It deadened the smell of butchery.

As the Werewolves made their way to the center of the small settlement, the perpetrators soon came into view.
Müller and his warriors where framed against a massive burning temple, their transformed appearances silhouetted against the fire made them look like daemons. A group of still living humans shivered in terror and cold, naked in the freezing wind. The Werewolves where making sport of their captives, throwing them into the flames only to drag them out still alive onto the snow and devour them. Müller was covered in gore, his Armour stained with it as if he had purposefully tried to cover himself in as much blood as he could.
"Whats this my dogs? Trying to have all the fun before we arrive?"
Called Bisclavret in his deep commanding voice.
The werewolves turned sharply at the call, surprised. The noise of the fire, wind and screams had masked their approach.
"Nay lord! We have saved you the larger portion."
Said Müller hurriedly, gesturing to the remaining captives and not meeting Bisclavret's eye.
"Have them." Said Bisclavret with a dismissive wave of the hand "I do not yet hunger, though perhaps" He said, a sudden idea occurring to him as he turned to cast his terrible gaze at Hati "Perhaps my niece hungers. No doubt our journey has fatigued her, and something fresh would do her good."
Hati cringed and Bisclavret smiled at the reaction he had hoped to achieve. He knew she had no appetite for torture...not yet...but he would soon rectify that.
"Indeed, there are a few tender morsels here fit for the refined pallet of a lady."
Laughed Müller, picking up on his master's cruel joke. He cast a gaze over the captive humans and spied a child of no more than four or five winters.
Müller pointed him out, and in a moment his lackeys had thrown the child into the fire.

Hati gaped in speechless horror.
"Whats wrong my lady? Do the screams not wet your appetite?"
laughed Müller.
"MONSTER!" Screamed Hati, shutting her eyes and trying to close her ears to the spectacle before her.
There was a pause, filled only with the howling of wind, roar of the flames, and screams.

The next thing Hati knew she was being held up several feet in the air by the collar of her coat, her horse sprawled away from her.
In the space of a secound Müller had crossed the distance between them, lifted her up and knocked the horse away from under her. He brought her face close to his snarling muzzle, she could smell the blood on his rank breath.
"Don't go acting all high and mighty princess, because unless you've forgotten, your just as much a monster as I am. What? Do you want to be like them?" he gestured at the cowering humans. "Weak and powerless? Prey? Well, if that's the case I can certainly oblige. I wonder what would be the best way to eat you...roasting you would certainly arouse my appetite, but it would be a waste to char such supple flesh."
He licked her neck with his rough tongue, saliva tinged red with blood.
"I wonder, if I swallowed you whole, would you regenerate inside my stomach for all eternity, writhing in pain? I guess there's only one way to find out!"
He roared and snapped his jaws at her face, and Hati screamed in abject terror.
He dropped her, unharmed in the snow, laughing.

[hr]

"Excuse me my lady, but might I ask your hand for this dance?"
A soft male voice said, suddenly interrupting Hati's rememberings. She turned to look at the gentleman, and jumped in surprise.
He whore a wolf shaped mask.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry if I might have surprised you madam." He said sincerely with a thick Bretonian accent.
"No, no, it was nothing." She said, offering him her hand and trying to hide her excitement at being asked to dance. "I would be very happy to dance with you sir..."
"Sir Antoine de Beauterne d'Arden." said the gentleman with a bow.
"And I am Hati Gévaudan." she replied with a curtsy.
"Ah, so you are Bretonian also?" ask Beauterne as they walked to the dance floor.
"My family is Bretonian, but I must confess that I have yet to visit such a great country of renown." Hati had a shrewd suspicion about who was actually hiding behind the wolf mask.
The next song quickly began. To her surprise, Beauterne took the lead and quickly proved to be the more skilled dancer.
"So, how long are you going to keep this pretense Sir Wolf?" she said quietly to him.
"I am quite sure I have no idea what you are talking about Lady Doe, after all, what fun is there in catching your prey without the chase?"
"Ah, so is it only the chase you yearn for Sir Wolf? And what would you do with your prey when you catch it?"
"That depends on the prey Lady Doe. I am however, very partial to Doe, so I dare say I would let it go and chase it again."
The two of them parted momentarily in step with the dance.
"It must be a lonely life Sir Wolf, always on the chase." Hati said as they came back together.
"Indeed it is Lady Doe, but to be the companion of a Wolf is no small thing. A life of hardships is all that can be promised."
"Hardships are no new thing to me, but would you have a Doe as your companion?"
"I would not. I would have a proud, strong She-Wolf running beside me."
Hati reached up and removed her mask.
"Then behold! I shall be Lady Doe no longer, but a Wolf!"
Beauterne removed his mask, revealing the a surprisingly handsome, freshly cleaned face of Müller.
"And I shall take you, Lady Wolf, as my own!"

As the music ended and applause filled the hall, Hati and Müller embraced in a kiss, oblivious to the doings of mortals, a vomiting Strigoi, bright flashes of light, and a screaming countess.

Outside on the grounds and under a large tree, a gagged and tied nobleman began to return to consciousness, wondering where his clothes had got to, and the origin of the massive creature that had attacked him
 

Sweeney Todd

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Forewarned, Todd and Lovett held up a hand to shield their eyes from the flash of blinding light. A hidden razor leapt into Todd's grasp, but he did not opt to use it yet. He decided to add to the confusion instead. He whispered to his right hand woman to influence the Countess, and shouted at the guards.

"Hey! What's going on over there?!" Todd cried, pointing towards where he had saw the household servants coming out from. In the meantime, Lovett worked her way quickly through the crowd until she was close to the Countess. Words of power chanted near silently, her magic was far more subtle than Lesa's dazzling glamour. The screaming immediately stopped as childhood memories of how she had forced her younger sister to become her younger brother and eventually caused her death flooded to the forefront of her mind and blurred the recollection of Simon snatching the Ruby. As the Countess stared blankly into the air, Mrs. Lovette was already on her way to rejoin Sweeney Todd. He had already spotted Simon with the prize they had come to claim. The duo beckoned to Peter to come along as they rushed towards him, both to regroup and to make sure that the Carsteins' did not simply flee and leave the rest behind in the mess.
 

Simon von Carstein

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Simon stared down at his prize. "AT LAST!" He thought. "The final piece of the puzzle." Looking up he noticed the chaos around for the first time and strode over to the orchestra "Aurelius! its time we were going." he said to his purple attired get who was packing the violin away. Aurelius nodded "We'd better hurry milord. We still have many leagues to travel."

Simon noticed Sweeney Todd and the others rushing towards them "We need a distraction." he commented "I never really liked the decor of this place milord" Aurelius replied. Simon nodded "Burn it!" he said simply. Aurelius leapt down from the stage conjuring a ball of flame which he hurled on to the floor in front of Sweeney Todd and his companions. The explosion hurled the Strigoi and BloodDragons back as the flames cut them off from Simon and the others. "Its a shame about Peter." said Simon "He could have been a useful ally if only he hadn't befriended the wrong people." With Aurelius at his side he strode off towards the entrance to meet up with Sariah, Mircea, Akarin and Lesa.
 

Gree

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So strategy’s gone then? Mircea thought as Simon seized the scepter. He already was making his way from the scene as the light hit. He covered his eyes just in time as it happened.

Somebody screamed, but Mircea ignored them. He ran through the crown, heedless of the Guards, searching for Tremere, he did not detect him yet. There was a rush of fire as Mircea detected the use of Pyromancy.

He lifted his cloak as the flames rushed him, he stepped trough the magical fire, the flames licking at his body as he searched for his target. He ignored the pain absent mindedly.

‘’There you are’’ he said, grabbing Peter by the scruff of his neck and hauling him out of the fire, flames licked at Mircea’s cloak as he extinguished them with a burst of dhar.

‘’Let’s go, we cannot stay here much longer’’
 
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Peter was dazed by the blast. He stumbled around for a few moments, bumping into panicing humans for a few moments until he felt a tug at his collar. As his vision cleared, he saw Mircea urging him to leave.

"Wait, what about Nightwere and the others?" Peter asked the Marshall. Mircea simply shrugged.

Peter was shocked. "We can't leave them behind. This place is going to be swarming with witch hunters in a few minutes!"

Peter drew his sword and ran off in search of his friends, leaving Mircea to make his own way out of the burning hall.

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

Graveclaw too was dazzled by Lesa's spell. He quickly came to his senses however, and looked around him.

Carstein and his lackeys were making a fast exit. Graveclaw roared in anger at their treachery, but was unable to show his displeasure as he was cut off from them by the flames. At his feet he saw the prone figure of the Baroness. He cocked his head quizically at her unconcious body.

His thoughts were interupt by the scream of a young noblewoman. He looked down at himself, at realised that the glamour Lesa had cast on him was starting to wear off. Without thinking, he picked up his sleeping suitor and ran towards the balcony. He took a flying leap from the edge and handed in the shadows of the garden.
 
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