Shen thanked the ghoul who took his coat as he stepped into the chantry, heading for his regnant’s office. Lucius was there, peering over his glasses as he worked at his computer. Shen stood at the door, head bowed, and after a moment Lucius acknowledged him with a glance, turning off his screen. “Evening, Shen.”
Shen stepped inside, and sank into one of the armchairs.“Victor accepted your offer.”
Lucius nodded, seeming unsurprised. “Yes, I expected as much.”
“What did you offer him, exactly?”
Lucius looked troubled. “It’d be better for everyone if we waited for everything to be in place before those details became public. Where’s Olivia?”
Shen frowned. “I don’t know. She wouldn’t tell me. Went to ground with a couple of guys.”
“She would be safe if she frenzied?” asked Lucius.
Shen considered this. Two ghouls were usually more than enough to restrain Olivia. “I guess so. Why?”
“Dante’s in a meeting with the other primogen right now. He’s in a little trouble. If he lost it, it might be… hard for the other Malkavians.”
“Well, she was being especially paranoid tonight,” said Shen. “I guess that explains it.”
The curling tentacles of blackness caught Jed before he hit the ground. They grasped him like a toy, winding around each of his limbs and pushing the air from his chest, before pinning him to a wall, cruciform, his head towards the ground. Dimly, he was aware of the pale shape of the bat-winged man flying up and away from him. A ghoul? With flight?
Jed’s eyes widened as he recognized the figure at the center of the circle. A young man, with dark hair and soulful eyes. A redlister. Sabbat. Archbishop. The black tentacles righted him, and he stumbled to his knees. Two of the other kindred were at his shoulders, hauling him forward.
“I can walk,” he croaked. They stopped. The archbishop lowered the headphones from his ears, and waved them back, his eyes intent on Jed.
A growing feeling of trepidation in his gut, Jed walked towards the archbishop. “Your grace?”
A slight inclinationof the head told him he had chosen the correct form of address. The archbishop smiled, his lips thin, and his eyes met Jed’s.
Then blackness, and static.
Jack slipped through the streets like a shadow, the howls of the sabbat pack echoing in the corners of his mind. No man sane would go alone against fifty sabbat, but he knew where he might get some help. The Prince’s tower, where she lived with the sheriff, loomed large at the far end of the high street, a vision in golden light. He cleared his throat as he approached, and the doormen let him through. In the foyer, another ghoul, some sort of butler, looked at him curiously.
“I’d like to speak with Isaac please,” said Jack.
“I’m afraid he’s not here. He’s in an important meeting,” said the butler. “Won’t be back for the rest of the night.”
Jack swore. “And your Mistress?”
“Is similarly occupied.” The butler bowed apologetically, and Jack left, heading back to the docks, alone.
Olivia’s phone flashed; a message from Cain, of all people. Olivia flipped her phone open, reading his missive.
Dante is currently busy in a meeting with the primogen
Busy for the rest of the night, then. And in trouble. Olivia lay back on the concrete floor, clothes wet and icy cold against her skin. What could Dante have done to get in that much trouble?
Jed was walking the streets when Jack caught sight of him, his wings folded against his back and his eyes strangely blank. With a burst of speed, Jack caught up with him and walked alongside him.
“You gone crazy, mate?” Jack asked. “You’re walking on the streets. That’s a masquerade breach, right there.”
Jed looked at him, confused. “I need to walk outwards in a spiral pattern.”
Jack nodded. “Uhuh. Sure you do. You’ve been dominated, mate. I’m going to need you to stop.”
Jed blinked. “But I need to-”
With a sigh, Jack caught hold of the back of Jed’s head and smashed it into the pavement. “Sorry,” he said, repeating the action. “But this is for your own good.” Jack sat heavily on Jed’s chest as he pulled his phone from his pocket.
“Yo, Shen,” he called. “Jed’s been hurt, can you send a van?” He hung up, and looked down at Jed a moment before opening his own wrist with his fangs and feeding the struggling gargoyle a few drops of his blood.
The fuzz of the amplifiers faded, and Olivia was dimly aware of the sound of a flute, a single, soaring melody.