March 12th, 1867: Another relaxing breakfast at Munster House. Bacon, eggs, toast, gun oil… all the smells of home. Jane and Fritz pop in for a visit (they are recently back from pirate-style adventures in the Americas), as well as Georgia, who was probably wondering what in the hell happened to Zoe. As we were already planning on shopping today, we invite all involved on a trip to the Fae Market. Emily and Jane enjoy dress shopping, but more remarkable still is how well a lovely dress suits the normally super-tough Georgia.
Just because your life has been horrible does not mean you do not deserve to be pretty, my Sister! We ALL deserve to be pretty from time-to-time!
No sooner do we get home than Jane gets a message from King Bob. Nice to know he is stalking her; why else would she get a message at our House? We also get a visit from Mr. Ling, who wanted to let us know that he had a fellow pawn an emblem that was remarkably similar to the one the Exploding Demon Altar Cultists were so fond of earlier. I wonder where this person came into possession of the symbol? I hope that cult is out-of-town now; people who explode are just bad for property values in every way!
As King Bob is currently slumming it with his daughter, we head on over to Lady Gray’s Vampire Boobie Emporium. King Bob strolls into the meeting parlor with her. He looks non-plussed, as usual. She looks… less so. He and Jane banter a bit back and forth, with her keeping pace rather well for a steak confronted by a bear. He makes her the offer to take her in under his wing, should the CH organization prove not her thing. Awful nice of him, but she is rather fond of her current Family at the moment. We all have a nice, amazingly uncomfortable chat, then we head out.
(NOTE: King Bob said he would eat my shoe if I could convince Bannerman to let Jane read the other House’s copy of the Vampire Nocturne. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.)
On the way out, Lady Grey stops us for an personal chat. As much as it pains her, she has a problem that she needs help with and, far be it for her to believe that the CH would help her, a blood-sucking monster-of-ill-repute, she instead wishes to hire out Pedorin and Watie Investigations for the job. As we have fewer qualms about such things, we hear her out.
For a while now, every major celestial event is accompanied with one of her ladies being kidnapped and never seen again. This has been going on for a while and, even past the financial repercussions, she obviously seems to care for these girls. We quiz her a bit, and she tends to take care of specifically those girls that society forgot; victims given a second chance at life. So far, none of the girls thus captured were vampires. In fact, all seven disappearances were just regular servants. As we ask about them, we also find that all seven had abortions at some point prior to their abductions.
Well, it definitely is a vendetta against her house, and these girls do not deserve whatever fate is befalling them. I agree to take the case, with standard payment options. Lady Grey agrees. This makes me VERY HAPPY (I will go into that a bit later). We ask her if she has any girls who can take care of themselves in a scrap, because, due to the short timing of this, we have no time to insert our own plant for this. Lady Grey reluctantly offers to send Anna, her favorite servant, out on that evening as bait. As much as we hate baiting such a trap with an innocent, it is the only way to forestall this quickly.
Mar. 13th: We spend the day roaming a bit, going out in small groups and mapping the route Anna will likely take, as well as alleyways and probably rooftop features. Emily goes with, as she is going to go with on the mission; we may need a tracker, and my Lady has very pronounced advantages in that arena!
Mar. 13th (night) – 14th: We set up our surveillance, sending our sneakiest people to follow Anna while we have static folks hidden on the main street she will be traveling. We chose well, as the adversaries took the bait. But HOW they took the bait…
Several casters from a nearby rooftop open two portals, which begin to disgorge some form of zombie into the street around Anna. They follow this with a Darkness spell, with Victoria immediately counters with a Light of her own. Fritz obliterates the casters with some kind of lightning orb (I wish I could see THAT news headline: “EVENING CHIMNEY SWEEPS KILLED BY THOR!”) while Aldo guns one down and Georgia eviscerates another. The remaining ones, obviously possessed of intelligence, grab Anna and, as we feared, jumped into the rapidly destabilizing portals.
We all charge through the portals (Aldo nearly losing a leg as it snaps shut just as he gets clear), and proceed to do what we do best: make soup. Some form of wraith is in the room, but we manage to take it out. On of the zombies attempts to run for the door (seemingly to get reinforcements, but is smashed FLAT by one of two crimson-stone golems by the room’s single exit.
After clearing the necromantic trash, we were faced with a dilemma: we were now stuck in a room with two VERY tough-looking golems. This was made even more surreal in a few moments, when one golem woke up, slowly paced over to us, and began ‘eyeballing’ each girl. It ignored Jane and gently picked up Anna. When Anna slapped the crap outta it, it gently put her down and returned to its post. A few seconds later, it tried this again. And again. And again.
These were the most polite constructs I have ever seen!
After a bit of trial and error, we deduced that Rocky and Stoner somehow could detect… hrmmm… how to put this delicately… whether or not a lady has previously made sexy time with a man. No spoilers as to what we learned here, but this gave us the information we needed to gain an advantage. Emily jumped into one of the golem’s cradling arms, knowing that, if things got scary, she had several options as to how to make things interesting. Rocky walked with her down the hallway, allowing us to follow. Stoner, being also placated, just stood his post.
As we moved down a few underground hallways, the sound of chanting began to carry towards us. Cultists. This made me FAR happier, as I rarely feel any compassion towards hurrying a cultist to meet whatever critter they chant over. One came around the corner (probably to see what the holdup was), so I sped him towards the next life, post haste. Emily shape-shifted into a large cat, causing Rocky to drop her and head back to his room. And, with that, we peeked around the corner to see the main event.
Cultists, yes. Several of them in fine culty-clothes (with slightly Catholic-looking iconography). All chanting around an altar, suitably blood-stained. And what, pray tell, were they chanting towards?
A dragon. A real, living, dragon. A large, scaly, and aggravated-looking dragon, chained behind the altar.
You know, looking back at it, the dragon impresses me more now than it did then. At that moment, though, all I could see was that gore-soaked altar. All of the girls whose last, terrified sight were these men and that altar, knowing full well that their screams were for nothing. ladies who, whatever their past crimes, did not deserve to die in such horror.
So, being the rational man that I am, I rounded the corner and started to make human wall-art.
This fight was far tougher than most; each of these men was a trained combatant, and many were casters. Many of us, myself included, almost fell. The dragon helped a bit, snapping and breathing fire at anyone who came near (which we took pains not to do). They fought together well, but we finally managed to down a few of them, and from there on out it was cleanup time.
The dragon is young, and was just being used as a part of this dragon-worshiping cult. Each of these men had a ring denoting a dragon with a circle in its mouth, and the leader had a similar tattoo. They had been feeding these ‘unclean’ girls to the dragon for some reason (we will need to research this), and the dragon, being a child, was just happy for the free food and attention. We examine the compound, finding another of Grey’s girls, plus a girl that one of Grey’s brothers uses to feed from (willingly, to be noted). After talking to the dragon (we promise he can eat some of these guys), we pack up and get ready to head out.
I get everyone to head out before me so I can clean up. No need for them to see me pick a couple of guys to feed to said dragon (we did promise him). He gets sleepy after din-din (how adorable), and drowses off. And I leave a message to those who investigate after us.
These types of people will learn to fear the repercussions of these actions. Or, barring that, to respect the time and energy it takes for me to make these scenes different each time I do it.
We pop up from what we surmise is an old Roman bath house, covered and hidden. There is a manor house nearby, and we figure out we are just outside of Denberry. We catch a friendly buggy to the nearest train station in Chudley, wait a few hours for the mail train to Bristol, then catch a train home.
Lady Grey is thrilled to have her girls home, and leverage over her brother. She is NOT thrilled that now she owes us one.