July 24th, 2018 – July 28th, 2018
Returning from Budapest with one of the Trinity Seals in hand, the team knew that something had gone wrong. Either the information Elizabeth Bathory had provided was wrong, or it was, at the very least, old. Bathroy had told them that all of the legendary Trinity Seals would have been in possession of the sellers but there was only one. And she seemed to provide no indication of the Werewolves they had encountered. Martin Schule, her field operative, agreed to be the one to provide to her the disappointing news.
En route back to Vienna, the team knew the heat was on and therefore uses several side routes to get back, taking longer than was expected, but it was, after all, the safer option. From their vehicle, they contacted Illari Vasyl and made an effort to meet back with him at Bathory’s resort where they would plan their next move.
Upon returning to the resort, they met with Illari and filled him in on the dangers they had recently faced, and providing him with the information regarding the single Trinty Seal. It was at that point that Cal Morrison seemed hesitant to provide Countess Bathory with the bad news. And in a moment that almost seemed to foretell the future, Illari commented that Cal had been ‘pussy whipped’ by her.
Going with Schule, the team met with Bathory to inform her what had happened. She was disappointed regarding the single Trinity Seal, but stated that she would use her network of contacts to see where the others would be. When they mentioned Werewolves to her, her eyes narrowed, telling them that Dracula had long used Werewolves in his schemes and they were created by magic and the use of his blood. However, the closer they were to his pure blood line, the less effected they were by items like silver. The ones they faced had to be weaker, further removed as silver seemed to impact them. As to the spectral hound they encountered, she suggested that was a non-corporeal manifestation of Dracula, himself, watching them. She indicated that this likely told them that the purchase of the Seals was of great importance to the vampire king.
Bathory concluded by telling them they should relax around the resort for a few days and once she found some information, she would provide it. But there was an assignment she might have for them in the meantime, something that would likely not even cause them the need to leave the resort. But she would tell them when it was needed.
The group took advantage of Bathory’s hospitality, her grace and the many amenities the resort had to offer. But not content with resting, Cal determined he needed to poke around and get a better layout of the place, whereas Wolfgang Fechtner wanted to scope out his options for a vehicle, in case of an emergency. An escape route from a monster like Bathory was a necessity.
A day later they were summoned to Bathory’s lounge where she told them she was working on a lead she had of some individuals who may have one or both of the missing Trinity Seals – a criminal associate of hers, Adelaide LeClerque and her lover and partner, Narcissa Dvorask, who ran a criminal network out of Prague. But she was still running down the lead. In the meantime, she needed them to perform a job for her. Something far more unusual, but, she promised, rather easy.
Bathory took them down a back elevator into a secret sub-basement of the facility, taking particular interest in the weapons Illari had on his person, fascinated by the silver blades that Cal had forged. She suspected that those would have some grander purpose before the night was up. She eventually took them to a theater of sorts where in one of the box seats overlooking the stage was a woman who she introduced as Aria Cardellini. They instantly recognized her as the missing wife of Franco Selvaggio. But she was cold to the touch, and it was quickly evident that she had been turned and brought into Bathory’s fold. They knew Franco had gone off to find her when he discovered she was last seen in the company of Henri Valant, one of Bathory’s agents. They knew they would have to find a way to break the news to him when they next saw him.
However, they would get the chance sooner than they expected.
Bathroy took the entire group down to the stage and ordered her men to bring something out – a prisoner. Within moments they discovered that Franco had found Aria, as it was he who was brought out on stage. He had clearly been tortured and bled. Bathory commented that Franco had revealed secrets about the agents, enough that she felt she could at least trust them. But it was now time to end Franco’s life as he had damaged the integrity of her operation by penetrating some of the defenses. And she wanted the team to kill him. Shedding his blood with the silver blade Illari carried would be symbolic, transferring the weapon into an artifact of great power, such as the spear that pierced Christ’s side or the guns that killed the Archduke or President Kennedy. They were standing on the edge of history at this moment.
Whereas most of the team reacted in horror at this possibility, wanting no part in killing a trusted friend and ally, Cal had a different opinion. He was ready to strike the blade in Franco’s heart without hesitation in order to serve the Blood Countess. Bathory theorized the scene would play out in one of several ways: the group killing Franco in a blood ritual of treachery but putting their souls in danger, Cal killing Franco and then being killed by his fellow agents or all of them trying to walk away.
Which would it be?
In a tense few moments, the team mentally ran down their options. Wolfgang and Illari began to undo the bonds that kept Franco in place. Illari, to his horror, realized that Franco, who having been tortured, was not insane and could possibly recover. This would not be a mercy killing at all. This would be a depraved murder. But the Countess watched, seeing how the scene would play out. Cal balked first, not wanting to miss the opportunity to please the Blood Countess. Before the two allies could take Franco off the stage, he unleashed his spell, The Power of Humanity, onto Franco, killing him, instantly. As Cal turned to explain his actions, desperately, Vicente Rojas turned and shot him in the head, with Cal dead before he hit the floor. This, suggested Vicente, was a mercy killing.
The Countess, amused by what had happened watched as silence fell on the stage, interrupted only by the sounds of Aria lapping up the last moments of life that flowed out of Franco. The Countess turned to the remaining agents and told them if they were gone by midnight, they would have no reason to fear reprisals from her and she would never again bother them. If they were to stay, then she would continue to assist them in their war against Dracula. It was a decision they had to make . . . Soon.
After some tense discussions, the team decided that whereas it may not be wise and that Bathory may or may not be trusted, she was their best option for the time being and she may be the best ally they had. Certainly the most powerful, if not the most ruthless. In the end they decided to stay and see what the Countess had to offer.
The following morning, they met with her and she further detailed that indeed, LeClerqe seemed to have one of the Trinity Seals. They could either attempt to buy it from her, barter with her or steal it. But since LeClerque was a sometimes valued member of her extended operation, she would want whatever was done with subtlety and without her name attached as that was a bridge the Countess was not yet ready to burn. Not yet anyway.
It was at this point that Vicente seemed to recall another agent he had worked with in the past, a woman named Katerina ‘Kat’ DeWein, who had experience in the European underworld and had contacts with the German intelligence world as well as that of The Unicorn. Vicente quickly set up a meet.
DeWein proved to be very familiar, very brass and very capable of what she was doing; clearly a ‘face’ in the world of intelligence gathering. The N Branch Ring that Fechtner wore on his finger, a gift from his new allies, was something that caught her attention. DeWein revealed that she was familiar with the LeClerque organization from some of their arms deals and drug operations in Prague and that the two lovers had the local authorities in fear or on the payroll. Dealing with these two would have to be a careful step. But as fate would have it, she had a former lover upon whom she was still on good terms, Johann Strause, who was an operative in their empire that she may be able to activate. Either way, however, they would need to act fast. The reason the women had the Trinity Seal was unclear but it was unlikely they would be holding onto it for long . . .