Night's Black Agents: Dracula Dossier

Episode 38: Unsafe House

May 24th, 2018 – May 31st, 2018

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Laurel Dene, the investigative journalist from The Guardian, was intent on showing something related to the Dracula case to Cal Morrison. She began to trust him and felt that he and whomever he was working with, could be a valuable asset. Cal, for his part, felt he was on the verge of an important breakthrough with an important contact. But Ms. Dene could not be scared off. Illari Vasyl followed them on foot and Wolfgang Fechtner followed them by car as she took Cal through the London Underground to some secret location.

Taking a serpentine route through London, Ms. Dene and Cal eventually emerged at the station near Muswell Hill. Illari and Cal spotted and took out a pair of agents that seemed to be following Ms. Dene with her none the wiser.

Ms. Dene took Cal to a storage facility where inside was a mountain of documents and research she had compiled, explaining that she had been in contact with a mysterious figure within the government known as ‘Hopkins.’ She had been investigating the ‘Dracula Case,’ as she put it, ever since a police office, Insp. Samantha Anderson, had been killed mysteriously, back in November. Of course, Cal and the others were well aware as they, too, had been there that night, but Cal kept that close to the vest for the time being. It seemed that Ms. Dene was viewing this as a major investigative assignment for a story, unaware of exactly how much danger she was in.

Curiously, Ms. Dene had more to show and offer. Much to Cal’s surprise, she pulled out her own copy of the Dracula Dossier, explaining that it was given to her by the mysterious Hopkins. Her copy was similar to the team’s as the annotations were written in the same hands but were slightly different as if over the years two copies were made by the analysts. She also showed Cal some other items of great interest that she had uncovered. One document, the Special Asset Action Report, was given to her by a source she did not name but suggested he would be an important individual for Cal to meet if trust was built. This document seemed to be a hit list, likely by Edom, using vampire assets to take out targets. The other document, the Advisory Committee Report, was something she claimed to find in the basement of the Caldwell Foundation, among the papers of the Holmwood family, perhaps once the property of Arthur Holmwood, Lord Godalming.

Further, Ms. Dene claimed she may have had some leads on the location of not only Carfax Abbey but also Seward’s Asylum, both important locations from the novel, Dracula, as well as likely locations of interest in the present day conspiracy they were dealing with. Cal suggested they do something about finding these locations but left it for a future plan they could enact.

Finally, Ms. Dene’s secret storage room was hardly secure but it was secret. Cal estimated there was a mountain of research that could be done but Ms. Dene was hesitant to scan any of it as she thought the government had her under watch. Cal considered some options for her but also knew this location would be a valuable research station for he and the rest of the team. They parted ways but agreed to keep in touch, but would have to do so secretly.

Cal met back up with Illari and Wolfgang and the group made their way to the hotel where they were staying. They began to review some of the information they had found but before they could make any determinations, they were beset upon by British SAS, anti-terrorist forces. Someone had tracked them down! The fight was bloody and brutal as the team fought their way out, killing 5 of 6 of the agents and narrowly escaping the massive dragnet that had been pit out for them, They knew they had to get out of the city and Illari turned to his ally, Marion Moore, knowing they could use her farm house once again, as they did several months ago.

They drove through the night, avoiding CCTV networks and the authorities who were no doubt looking for them. When they reached the farm, which they were hoping to use as a temporary safe house to heal their wounds, they saw Ms. Moore tending to the animals in the early morning. However, when Cal decided to take a picture of her on his phone, all Hell broke loose. She sprung into action, moving at an amazing speed, revealing her turned, vampiric nature. The fact that she was strong, combined with the wounds the agents had taken back in London, made for a lethal fight, with Cal having his neck almost torn out in a flash and Illari followed suit. Whereas they were able to fend her off and eventually destroy her, both Illari and Cal needed not only medical attention, but also needed the Blomburg Serum to fight off vampirism.

Wolfgang took both of his friends inside the farm house in hopes of setting up a small clinic and hospital and creating more serum. However, when he went into the basement, his heart skipped a beat. He discovered the cellar had a whole nest of undead, perhaps awaiting instructions from a more nefarious master. He quickly bolted out, barred the door and set the place on fire after getting Illari and Cal out of the house. This was not a safe location and may have been a well laid trap, instead, by Dracula’s forces.

Weary and hurt, Illari knew of someone 30 km away that might help. He scrolled through his phone to find the address of Oscar Willingham, younger brother of the arms dealer, Ethan Willingham. Oscar, a drug addict in hiding, owed Illari some favors and now was the time for Illari to collect. The group descended on Oscar’s country cottage and paid him to get out for a few hours while Wolfgang began creating more serum. But then he realized that Cal’s wounds were worse than imagined and needed to transfer him to a hospital, claiming he had been the victim of a wild animal attack. But lately the group was no stranger to creating false records and putting people in hospitals under false names.

While Cal was in the hospital, Illari went through many of the vampire documents they had, Edom files and other reports they had taken over the months. He discovered that Edom likely believed in several kinds of of creatures, agents and supernatural forces, focusing their attention on the Linea Dracula, all the vampires that descended from Dracula’s unholy line. There were others, such as the Line of Cain and the Line of Lilith that they theorized existed as well as other foreign programs they had an interest in, specifically, the Van Brunt Protocol, which appeared to be a joint American-German project of some kind.

Finally, as Cal lay in the hospital, some program on television caught his attention. A BBC show, where an interviewer was talking with, what the caption stated was a ‘Dracuologist,’ The professor, Dr. Memet Lucsai, seemed to be an expert on revisionist Dracula lore. His insight and information into Vlad III was astounding. But would this professor be able to provide any insight at all?

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Episode 37: Connecting the Dots

May 20th, 2018 – May 24th, 2018

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Following the events in Switzerland, the agents were on the run and lying low. Making their escape to England as they could hide out from the terrors they had witnessed, as well as engage in more leads, their first order or priority was tending to the serious wounds Illari Vasyl has endured at the hands of the undead horde. They entered him in a small hospital, under an assumed name and made their way to London, keeping a low profile as they knew there were forces that were looking for them. Their very presence was toxic to some individuals and the CCTV eyes of London were constantly watching. Franco Selvaggio said goodbye to Ximena Porte who needed to return to her employer, Omar Shakti in Brussels.

The team continued to lay low for a week, scouring news reports of anything interesting, as well as examining the endless leads and documents they had. In the end, they decided to go with something simple as their next order of business. They chose to investigate the Aytown Galleries to see if there was a connection with either the Van Helsing Cameo they had. That would be a good use of time.

Cal Morrison, Wolfgang Fechtner and Franco Selvaggio decided they would enter the gallery and see the situation, whereas Vicente Rojas would remain outside, acting as a lookout. When they entered, they encountered the owner of the gallery, Vivienne Aytown-Baptiste, the great-granddaughter of Francis Aytown, a background character from the novel, Dracula, and perhaps, a former central figure of the conspiracy. After all, it was Mr. Aytown who created one or more of the cameos.

Ms. Aytown-Baptiste seemed polite and was impressed by the level of knowledge Franco expressed, especially the artwork she had in the gallery, specifically the materials from eastern Europe. Though, both Cal and Wolfgang suspected there was more to her than met the eye. But whether it was a connection to Edom, Dracula, or something else was uncertain.

Outside, as Vicente watched as a lookout, he did notice some suspicious activity nearby. But when he went to investigate, he was intercepted by allies of the stranger who pulled him in an alley and threatened him, stating they were interested in someone else and he was to stay put. Vicente knew he had to handle the situation carefully.

Back in the gallery, Cal managed to convince Vivienne that they were interested in more than browsing and were not agents of the police or anyone else meant to due her harm or interfere with her business. When he showed her the Van Helsing Cameo, she instantly recognized it as the work of her great grandfather, Francis Aytown and offered to let them see something special she had hidden away. At that point she took them to the third floor and entered into a room that was seldom used and clearly out of the way, used for storing junk.

She showed them around the cramped room and one of the first things Wolfgang noticed was a very well done marble bust, intricately detailed, of a male figure. It was similar to the one that was likely used for the passports of some of Dracula’s more potent agents, like Countess Dolinz. The rest of the group instantly took an interest in it. After all, who was this man? Was he still around? Was he a vampire? When asked what it was for, Vivienne admitted that her mother was a master sculptor and simply kept one around after she was done. She even had the marble that was used, stored behind some other boxes.

It was at that point that she pulled from a desk draw a velvet pouch and pulled forth another cameo. This one, she explained, was the Holmwood Cameo. It was part of a set that her great grandfather had made and this one came back into her possession a few years ago (under circumstances she did not get into). However, as soon as more questions were about to be posed, a crashing from the window exploded into the room and there were enemy forces present, having just thrown a flash grenade into the room, stunning most of them. Outside, upon hearing the sound, Vicente acted, instantly getting the drop on his attackers, killing one and quickly maiming the other. He immediately made his way to the building to see what he could do to help his allies.

As the team in the gallery fended off attacks from the assailants, Cal noticed they were targeting him and suggested they wanted the return of the Bathory Journals, indicating they were in the service of Henri Valant, the dealer they had ripped off in Vienna. But how they tracked him down to London was unclear.

They managed to kill the attackers and get out of the area before the police arrived. They left Ms. Aytown-Baptiste behind but took the Holmwood Cameo, figuring it might be of some value later. The team reunited with Vicente and made their way through SoHo and to the Underground before switching, boosting a car and avoiding London Metro police. But one thing was clear: the police were widening their dragnet. Someone was pushing and increasing the pressure on the agents. Due to this, the agents were not sure where they could turn. The tendrils of MI6, Edom and GCHQ were everywhere and they knew they were in the crosshairs of the organizations that were allied with Dracula. Franco turned to his ‘uncle,’ Edward Bentley for help who sent them in the direction of an underground doctor, who also worked for MI6. Dr. Ike Rutherford ran his illegal cash-only clinic out of his vet practice and reported suspicious injuries to his superiors in the government. But for a short time the team could trust him.

It was at this point that the team decided to make use of some other leads they had. Namely that of Laurel Dene, a journalist with The Guardian whose name had come up twice in the past few months. Once with Prof. Donall Scally, in the Vatican and once again in a document where she interviewed an author of a book that had interested them on some related topics. The team decided that she might have some useful information. After all, as an investigative journalist, she was used to poking around, uncovering secrets and getting into places she could not. It was possible she was an ally not yet discovered.

Cal used some pull to get a phone call with her and was able to arrange a meet up, with the suspicious Dene. However, in his brief meeting with her, she was interested in what he had to say and he realized she was bright, capable and onto the same things they were. When she offered to show him what she had, he jumped at the chance, especially when she told him, he wouldn’t believe it . . .

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Episode 36: Hordes of Darkness

May 10th, 2018 – May 19th, 2018

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Still at the exclusive ski resort in Andermatt, the team began working on a few other projects, while they had the team. Wolfgang Fechtner, despite his haunting experiences with Madame St Armand, decided he would begin working on a forgery for the Key to the Valley and Cal Morrison was going to create some weaponized epi-pens. Illari Vasyl, spent time researching some ancient texts and sparring with some of Omar Shakti’s bodyguards. Vicente Rojas spent the time looking around and watching for any possible attacks while Franco Selvaggio continued his intimate relationship with Ximena Porte.

Illari’s research into the Black Pharaoh, as well as whatever connection’s Shakti had, revealed a deepening problem. It seemed that if what he found was correct, then Shakti was hardly an altruistic individual. After all, they knew something was unusual with him, after they had murdered him and he came back to life some months ago. But what Illari discovered was that if he were correct, then Shakti was involved in an ancient cult dedicated to a timeless god known as Nyralathotep. This revelation was as disturbing as it was enigmatic. They were, of course, making bargains with dark powers.

Meanwhile, Fechtner was growing more and more concerned regarding his nightly visits from Madame St Armand. In the occult books he had brought out, he spent the entire day trying to uncover what she was, what her connection was with Dracula and so on. He was working with the basic assumption that she was a bride and found some passages dealing with a Church investigator from the Middle Ages. Fechtner found that this woman, likely a vampire or succubus in the service of Dracula, was using some kind of astral projection to enter through his dreams to interrogate him. He had a dangerous thought. If he were able to turn the tables on the creature, perhaps he could learn information from her. Further, he discovered that if she were a vampire, a true bride of Dracula, religious items used to repel her would be difficult to come by. The passages revealed that vampires, especially those from the line of Dracula, were only susceptible to religious items that were in existence during the time in which the vampire was alive. Suspecting that St Armand may have been alive around the time of the French Revolution, any religious rituals and crucifixes would have to be nearly 200 years old in order to effect her. This was important because any ward they would create would need to have old Church rituals. Fortunately, they knew of one abbey that still practiced the Ambrosian Rite – the Dominican Monastery in Ellorio, Spain.

It was decided, therefore, that this upcoming night was one in which he would allow St Armand to take his memories but he would, in turn, try and find something in hers that would be helpful. However, her astral form was able to find him, he knew that if her powers came to full bore, she may be able to transport herself to him and merge with her astral form, something he certainly did not wish to occur.

The team discussed the dilemma they had. They decided that that they would not interfere with Fechtner’s dangerous plan but would be ready nearby in case things went badly, they could at least come in and extract him. During the day, however, Illari spent more time trying to download schematics of where in the British Museum the Key to the Valley was held and with Ms. Porte’s help, he felt he had gathered valuable information about how they might pull off this heist.

That night, as predicted, St Armand arrived at Fechtner’s room. Whether she was there in body or merely a projection through his dream was unknown. She again seduced him and while they shared intimate physical embraces, she probed his mind and took from him what she needed. Whatever secrets he had were lain bare before her. However, Fechtner welled up everything inside of himself and put his willpower to work, trying to find what secrets she had. He learned the following pieces of information:

  • The location of the notorious Scholomance which was located near Sibiu, Romania.
  • Whether she was permanently located there or not, St Armand was currently in Scotland.
  • She was working under direct orders from Dracula to spy on Wolfgang but she also wanted to see if he knew anything about a suspected mole or double agent within Edom.
  • He discovered that not only did she know the Nazi, Helmut Dorring, but he was still alive (in one form or another). The fact that he was alive, and a ‘major figure’ in the community meant he was likely extremely dangerous. Worse yet, St Armand also was aware that Dorring had a ‘boss’ who was of great concern to her.

However, St Armand detected something or was called away quickly. So when they were finished with their tryst, she made a hasty, and seemingly angry, retreat from the room. It was at that point that Fechtner got up, mentally shattered form his experience, and told his allies what had happened.

What happened next was a frantic series of calls to loved ones and people who could be in danger from Dracula’s tendrils. Of great importance was Cal’s call to Lord Caldwell’s people. He wanted to make sure Gloriana Ambry, his girlfriend, was safe. He had Caldwell’s people set up a scheme to get her away from her job and put her to work on a well paying assignment outside of London. Further, the agents spent time switching around the items in their possession as they knew the location of the Dracula Dossier was compromised and that if it were still in Illari’s hands, it could be easily taken by St Armand or her agents.

The following day was spent preparing a variety of possible plans. England as the next stop? Or the Scholomance? Or somewhere else? The team was collecting favors as well as assignments – some more distasteful than others – and they needed to consider executing some of the tasks. They finalized a few details with Shakti and tried to finish more of their own projects in peace. It was also decided that in order to prevent Wolfgang from being attacked by St Armand again, they would have him stay up all night as a way of not dreaming. This could buy them some time until they figured out what course of action to conduct.

That night, close to midnight, Cal received a call from the mysterious Hopkins, who again was using a device that disguised his or her voice. Hopkins was frantic saying that he noticed that major activity spiked with GCHQ which likely, under orders from Edom, pinpointed the agents’ location in Switzerland and the chatter was sending something big towards the agents. They had to escape immediately as their lives were in danger.

Just as the team was ready to make an informed decision to act, they began hearing gunfire and commotions all around them. Seeing out the window to the main property, they saw hordes of creatures clawing up through the ground. Within moments, there were over 50 grotesque creatures throughout the property and that number was growing. They raced to get their belongings and supplies from the rooms and were attacked in the halls, attacked in their rooms and faced danger wherever they went. They were plunged into darkness and were running the risk of being overrun if they did not act quickly.

Fortunately, Fecthner remembered that Shakti had a private helicopter. They communicated with Franco who was enjoying the . . . company of Ms. Porte. He knew where the helicopter was and would try to get himself and Ms. Porte to safety there to make a daring escape. They tried to find Shakti but in the chaos and confusion, they had no real options to do so. Every individual would have to fend for themselves.

With some of their avenues cut off and these creatures multiplying by the minute, they had to act quickly. They found that the creatures were impacted by bright lights and used a combination of weapons, flash grenades and holy water grenades to fend them off. The creatures, however, were extremely resilient and most of their physical attacks were weakened. When, in the stairwell of the building that contained the helicopter, they were beset upon, one of the creatures managed to attack Fechtner and drug him down the stairs, making his way towards the basement. It was then that a new figure appeared, a woman later identified as the mysterious ‘Heartbreaker.’ In a series of acrobatic and martial moves, she assisted him, and allowed him to escape. He was impressed by many things about her, including her powerful crossbow but was most impressed by her ability to destroy these creatures and save him. Was she the possible double agent within Edom that St Armand had been searching for?

Fecthner reunited with the team and discovered that Vicente and Illari had been badly hurt, Illari more so and was close to death. He and Cal had to carry their partners the rest of the way to the helipad (where Franco and Ms. Porte were waiting with Champagne). But the celebration was short lived. They immediately got into the helicopter and were prepared to take off when the doors burst open and a horde of ravenous vampire creatures had flooded onto the roof. It was mere seconds before they were overrun when they managed to get away intact. They decided that the UK was the best place to go as Illari and Vicente needed medical attention and there were things that needed their attention back in England.

They landed, went to ground and found attention for Illari. They needed to lie low for a week and recover before planning their next move.

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Episode 35: Scaroused

May 6th, 2018 – May 9th, 2018

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Subsequent to the events in Spain, the agents contacted Omar Shakti, as they knew this mysterious individual had vital information with which he was willing to share. Shakti’s people returned with a private communication that they would meet up at the Chendi Andermatt hotel in Andermatt, Switzerland. The team then gathered their supplies and headed out to Switzerland, prepared for the long journey ahead of them.

Upon arriving in Andermatt, they took in the entire town, seeing it as a quaint tourist town with a strong skiing element. However, Illari Vassyl, in seeing the amount of tourists, kept a close watch for any professional agents that were in the area. Unfortunately, he did notice some suspicious characters but was not clear on what they were doing. Were they looking for the agents or were they trying to investigate Shakti and his operation?

The team discovered that the only way to get to the hotel was through the gondola service that would ferry them up and down the mountain. They left Savas Osman and Pascal Lerue on Andermatt and made the journey to the gondola station. They discovered that the hotel was closed, but an representative from the hotel came forth and stated that whereas it was close, Mr. Shakti was expecting them. For the most part they would have the entire hotel to themselves for this private meeting.

They had the entire gondola to themselves and upon arriving at the station, they could see the massive hotel in the distance. They were greeted by an assistant of Mr. Shakti’s, Ms. Ximena Porte, who was going to act as their liaison and hostess for the duration of the trip. She seemed to take an instant liking to Franco Selvaggio as there was a spark between them.

Ms. Porte explained that the entire resort would be at their disposal over the next few days as they met with Mr. Shakti. Every need would be catered to and every desire they had would be attended to. They were the honored guests of Mr. Shakti and his hotel would be completely theirs to explore.

Upon arriving at the hotel, porters checked them into private luxury suites and they noticed that there was strong security peppered throughout the area. Cal Morrison, ever interested in examining the electronic security of a location, discovered that the section of the hotel they were in, had minimal surveillance points, likely due to the fact that high end clients wanted no form of security, monitoring their activities.

Ms. Porte explained that Mr. Shakti would be indisposed until dinner and they should relax, freshen up and enjoy some cocktails and some light refreshments that were provided. Cal took the opportunity to further explore the Bathory Journals and was again haunted by what he read. He was coming ever closer to a dangerous line that may may end up crossing.

That evening they met up with Mr. Shakti for dinner where they had some initial discussions. He explained that he was interested in helping them as Edom had double-crossed him and interfered in his schemes. It seemed as if Mr. Shakti was willing to be a formidable ally of theirs, but this would not come without some favors they would have to repay. But all of these things would be discussed over the next few days as his guests.

When Shakti was pressed by Cal and Illari over the status of the mysterious queen they suspected he was shielding, he did explain that the queen was, in fact, present, but she was resting. She was the major reason he was considering allying with Edom in the first place as they were delivering her to him. However, the actions of the agents in Belgium some months ago set her free. Therefore Shakti had no further need of Edom but the relationship between he and they was strained. He was willing to play along with them long enough to use some of their resources but when asked about the queen, Nitocris, he was vague in details.

However, they seemed interested in pressing him on some of the favors he alluded to he would want performed. He explained he was looking for a treasure that was on location at the British Museum, an Egyptian artifact known as the ‘Key of the Valley.’ This item, on loan from the Egyptian government, was supposedly an ancient jeweled item from centuries past that bestowed the owner with political and arcane power and would be something that quite likely Nitocris would desire. When asked why he did not place his own resources towards stealing it, he merely explained that there were legends associated with the item that prevented his agents from taking it. he had to deal with outsiders and that is where the agents came in.

After this, they adjourned for the evening with Vicente Rojas going out on the luxurious deck to take in the expansive view of the Swiss Alps, while smoking a cigar, basking in the first few moments of peace and solace he was able to enjoy in quite some time. At the same time, Franco and Ms. Porte began to explore each others’ company in a far more intimate setting. Meanwhile, however, Wolfgang Fechtner retired early for the evening, unaware of the events that would soon transpire.

As Wolfgang slept, he had disturbing and chilling dreams. He awoke, completely paralyzed in the bed, with a figure crawling from underneath. A beautiful women, shrouded in mostly darkness, seemed to reveal herself. She brought him to a night of passion before seemingly invading his psyche. He could tell she was invading his personal thoughts and surface memories. In the morning when he woke, there was no sign of her but there seemed to be a small wound on his neck and a drop of blood on the sheets. He was instantly terrified but at the same time aroused.

The following morning he applied some of the Bloomberg Serum they had in their possession and informed the others. However, it was unclear whether or not he had a strangely erotic and terrifying dream or if this truly happened. When attempting to warn the others, many were unsure of his reliability as the wound had disappeared. However, Shakti agreed to post a guard inside or outside his room or both the following night. Wolfgang immediately agreed.

The following night after dinner the agents relaxed and played some high stakes games of baccarat against Shakti’s dealer, with Vicente losing and with Franco winning fairly well. After they retired, Wolfgang retired with the guard posted nearby. However, he was again visited by the unusual woman who spoke an antiquated, Revolutionary-era style French. As the psychic and tenderly physical assault again occurred, Wolfgang was slightly more prepared. However, despite his preparation, she was still able to take advantage of him and ascertain his thoughts. However, Wolfgang was able to employ his strength of will to ascertain thoughts from her mind. He discovered that she was involved with the Hound, in some capacity, had direct, high level dealings with Dracula and there was something floating around in her mind called ‘Operation Black Parade.’ Still, however, Wolfgang was powerless to prevent her from stealing more of his thoughts.

Meanwhile, Illari spent part of the night researching Nitocris and found she had a sinister legend attributed to her in both Egypt’s past and possible in that of Babylon’s past, as a vile and dark figure. He also discovered that Shakti’s connection to the Black Pharaoh was one that likely put in league with powerful black magic as well as an ancient deity, often revered in secrecy in dynastic Egypt known as Nyarlathotep. Whether Shakti was a true ally of an enemy of an enemy with his own evil agenda was becoming increasingly blurred.

Finally, Illari put together the stories of what Wolfgang was talking about as well as the description of the mysterious woman who had been invading his dreams. He was shocked when he discovered that there was a strong likelihood this was none other than Madame St. Armand, one of the brides of Dracula!

In their next meeting with Shakti, he suggested he had a variety of powers and abilities at his disposal, both arcane as well as mundane. But one of the major revelations he provided was that, if pressed, he could arrange a meeting with one of the Dukes of Edom. Specifically, he had dealings with Hound, whom he stated was Vendalla French, a name the group had encountered before. This was somewhat surprising as the agents had suspected, for some time, that Ms. French was in some way connected to Edom. There was an attempt to explain the danger they were in but Shakti assured them that his men and the remote location would keep them safe. They had heavy protection around the gondola which served as the only way up and down the mountain with any reasonable success.

The group continued to debate what approach they needed and what favors Shakti could perform for them. It seemed as if they had several options at this disposal, but with Shakti only able to provide limited amounts of support, even though that support was potent and valuable. The negotiations would have to continue but now they were aware of the powerful and frightening man with whom they were dealing. Was he any better or worse than Dracula, himself?

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Episode 34: Facing Their Demons

April 30th, 2018 – May 5th, 2018

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Franco Selvaggio and Savas Osman took the train from Paris to Barcelona and then from Barcelona to the small town of Elorrio, Spain where the rest of the team had been waiting, watching, the Dominican Monastery. Since Wolfgang Fechtner and Cal Morrison had already overseen much of the leg work with regards to their current assignment, as well as made contact with Monsignor Cesare Rinaldi, the work was ready to be set in motion. With Osman having seen his friend Marie Lambert off to Norway for safety, he was able to focus on the task at hand.

As Osman and Franco arrived at the hotel, they noticed that Cal seemed unkempt and disheveled, the experiences of dealing with the host of creatures and pouring over the Bathory Journals clearly taking a toll on him. However, Illari Vasyl, acting as his personal therapist, was trying to keep the situation under control. Quickly meeting in Wolfgang’s room, they informed Franco and Osman what was happening and they had intended to breach the monastery to see what the Monsignor was so interested in. After all, they, themselves, had experienced some of the evil presence that had permeated the area. The Monsignor was certainly on to something and he had the each of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Champavier who could bring them into the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany if the Monsignor gave his blessing. The best news was that Cal and Wolfgang had found a secret tunnel that led from the forest into the monastery which would allow them to gain entrance and investigate.

As the team prepared to set off on their mission, Wolfgang went off to collect the Monsignor from his him. What he found was a man who had darkened his windows, set up his many maps and texts and based upon his materials, was clearly transfixed and devoted to the philosophical position of the Omega Point, a quasi scientific, quasi religious position that suggested everything was pointed towards divine unification.

During their discussion, Monsignor Rinaldi revealed that he had lost a good friend some months ago, a Ghigo Fratelli, who had been investigating the whereabouts of an ‘Aria Cardellini,’ who was last seen in the presence of one Henri Valant, a name that was well known to Wolfgang. Not only was this the man who they had acquired the Bathory Journals from but he was likely connected with a human trafficking ring out of Vienna. This was information Wolfgang felt that Franco had to know as soon as possible as it contributed clues to the mystery of his missing wife, Aria. As soon as the team met back up with Wolfgang and the Monsignor, the Monsignor related to the group his tale regarding Fratelli, Valant and Cardellini. Franco, naturally, was stunned that there was information regarding his wife, possibly in Vienna.

The team made their way to the forest around the monastery. Wolfgang showed everyone where the secret tunnel was and they gathered their gear and descended, unsure of what to expect. They immediately were confronted by the darkness that enveloped them and they sensed a powerful evil that was all around them. Cal, instantly began seeing and experiencing phenomena that may or may not have been real. They progressed very carefully towards the monastery.

Moving through the passage and quietly exiting, Vicente Rojas and Savas Osman opened the secret door into the monastic store room. Cal Morrison noticed that a monk had passed by and he waited until the monk was out of view. The team were awe inspired by the mere scope of the building and knew that they had to make their way, quite likely, to the cellar. Using their knowledge of the architecture of other such buildings, they had a sneaking suspicion of where the door would be to the basement.

Upon finding the door, they were surprised to a see a bar over it with intricate carvings, with the inscription of Matthew 10:1: “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Clearly the monks were keeping something they felt was dangerous in the basement. As the others studied the inscription, Savas turned and noticed a large tapestry hanging on the wall behind them. It depicted a man naked, in chains, surrounded by monks. Behind the monks there were more monks engaging in horrific and grotesque behavior, such as greed, gluttony and lust, among other horrible acts. Savas had no idea what this could possibly mean and he was wholly unprepared for what he and the others were about to experience.

Entering the basement the group encountered various rooms converted into cells and they all began to experience horrific apparitions and paranormal activity as the ghosts and demonic entities that seemed to inhabit the basement were all around them, tempting them and trying to draw them in. As their sanity eroded with an assault on their senses from questionable decisions in their lives, they began to understand the serious danger they were in. Cal, whose sanity was already on the brink, began to see visions of Gloriana Ambry, his girlfriend, who had been transformed into some horrific creature and Wolfgang was confronted by visions of greed and Illari with visions of grotesque and perverse lust.

As the beleaguered group came to the end of the hallway, they discovered another iron wrought door with a similar bar as upstairs over the door. As soon as Cal carefully unbarred the door, he was attacked, mentally, by some kind of malevolent force that attempted to destroy his mind but the strength of the attack was enough to push him back twenty feet across the cold stone floor. The rest of them, however, saw a man chained to the floor with a metal collar around his neck, appearing as the man in the tapestry upstairs. He was naked and covered in scars. But it was clear this was the cause of the evil they had been feeling.

The demon seemed impervious to many of the mundane attacks but was less resilient to their attacks with holy weapons. Illari was quickly dispatched as some force literally seemed to be dragging him off to Hell with Monsignor Rinaldi trying to defend the team with prayer and holy defenses. It was not until Savas entered into a mental combat with the demon that the tide began to turn in their favor. As Savas dueled with the creature, he eventually came out victorious which was fortunate as the team was on the verge of collapse with regards to the sanity blasting attacks and vicious physical assaults the creature had access to.

As Savas engaged the creature in combat, he seemed to gain an understanding of the origin of the creature. Centuries ago the monks that lived here were corrupted and worldly, engaging in endless sins against each other and sins of the flesh. They had found a way to wash away their sins and place them into a single vessel, the former Castilian of the area who they felt was unworthy of leadership. For generations the monks would blissfully commit their sins and them ‘pass them on’ to their captured and possessed slave they kept locked in the basement. Eventually, it seemed, the creature was brimming over with evil and the monks in the modern day who had rejected this practice found themselves unable to contend with the monster and were caught between their inability to release it and their inability to defeat it.

As the possessed man lay dead, the monks appeared to know what was happening. The monks’ leader, Fr. Martin Napores, was grateful for the service they had provided and allowed the team to stay with them in order to rest and regain their fractured sanity. During their stay, Illari and Cal managed to convince the monks to allow them to use the monastery as a safe haven on the condition that weapons could never be allowed inside the walls of this place of peace. It was a deal Cal was not overly comfortable with but he relented and accepted the fact that they could use this holy place for safety while leaving the weapons outside. Fr. Napores suggested they use the weapon of prayer more than weapons of man.

Cal began to calm himself over the research her had done into the Bathory Journals and his mind began to return to where it once was. He realized that the texts were dangerous and he would need to continue to read them but he would need to be more careful.

Monsignor Rinaldi left but not before promising them to speak with the Bishop to get them the recommendation they needed. He also left them with the means to get in touch with him in the future.

It was then that the team decided on their next course of action. They wished to set up their meeting with the mysterious Omar Shakti as they felt he could be of some help, contacted his people and set the time and place. After that, they were committed to returning to London to follow up on a variety of leads there.

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Episode 33: A Plot Revealed!

April 25th, 2018 – April 30th, 2018

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Whereas the plan was to go to Elorrio, Spain, where the enigmatic monsignor, Cesare Rinaldi could likely be found, there was other business to which the group needed to attend. A power broker, fixer and all around suspicious, yet useful individual was nearby. Several times and several instances the group had encountered the name Sigmund Walther, an ex-Nazi colonel who had been a shadowy power broker in Europe for decades. Walther likely knew several answers that the group needed and despite his grotesque reputation, he was someone they felt would be useful with whom to speak.

Since Walther’s mansion was close by, outside of Marseilles, Wolfgang Fechtner posited it would be a good use of their time and resources to set up a meet with him while in the area. Everything they had discovered indicated he was a font of useful information – if not exactly with their current investigation then, at the very least, with the details that surrounded it. Pulling up Walther’s jacket from the BND, Wolfgang discovered that not only had Walther been an excellent source of information regarding a variety of criminals, arms deals and assassinations, but that CIA and BND had both been using him on and off over the years, including, ironically, the Mossad and various governments as Walther seemed to know everyone and whom to speak to about getting jobs done. Even more curious was the fact that Wolfgang’s old mentor and handler, Johan Schmidt used him but also put out a hit on Walther that was either unsuccessful or never enacted. Either way, Wolfgang discovered the protocols used to contact Walther so the team decided to pose as BND agents to make contact with him. Despite how useful he was likely to be, Pascal Lerue expressed his distaste of dealing with someone once aligned with Hitler’s regime.

However, Wolfgang found one other interesting item. The shadowy N Branch, the secretive sub-group of the German intelligence group, had a safehouse in London that Wolfgang noted and would later pay a visit.

Walther’s mansion was a palace of luxury, amid tight electronic and personal security. Whereas his agents were welcoming, there was an air of danger as the heavily armed guards made the point that they were present for one reason. Getting in to see Walther, they waited as he finished another conversation on his back patio. When he finally entered the lounge where they waited, he greeted them as if they were old friends, warm and inviting. Of course, Walther looked excellent for his age (which had to be late 80’s to early 90’s) and this was a man who was spry and fit, as well as apparently calculating and shrewd.

Illari Vasyl and Vicente Rojas kept a close eye on him as Wolfgang and Cal conducted some of the initial questions and pleasantries. Eventually they went to his dining room where they spoke politely about art and music and at the end of dinner, got down to business.

Ultimately, Wolfgang had some pointed information he wanted from Walther, backed up by close to a million dollars in diamonds. He asked about two individuals likely to be brides of Dracula, Madame St. Amand and Countess Ida Verkany. Then he asked about two other men, Luftwaffe Major Helmut Doring and Dr. Frank Braun.

Walther was intrigued over the situation. Whereas Walther had minimal knowledge – or at least minimal knowledge he was willing to share – he stated that he could find what they wanted but it would cost them. He offered a deal that they could enter into. Walther suggested that if Wolfgang and the rest of the supposed BND team were to engage in a clandestine plan for him, he would reveal this information. When pressed for the details of the plan, Walther revealed that there was a public figure that individuals wanted to ‘disappear.’ The supposed victim was to be Monica Lupei, a well-known human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

With that, their business had concluded and they left Walther, knowing that the next move was in their hands. They could take action against Ms. Lupei or they could abandon dealing with Walter. It was a topic for some debate.

En route to Elorrio, Cal continued his research into the cursed Bathory Journals which began to play tricks on his mind – perhaps. As he began to see more and more of the horrors that had been committed, his mind began to wander and he saw blood on his hands. It was at that point that Wolfgang saw some apparition flash past the vehicle, almost forcing him off the road. When he got out to investigate the car, there were gashes in the hood, something that had to be very powerful to have made as the vehicle was reinforced with military grade armor. After shaking off the shock, Illari confronted Cal with what he was doing and Cal dug in, insisting that pouring over the texts was a reasonable plan. But soon they were back on the road and soon they were in Elorrio, a small and quiet Spanish town.

Arriving in the small town, the team instantly discovered that if Msgr Rinaldi was here, he would not be difficult to find as the town was very small and seemed to cater to naturalists and hikers. They parked the vehicle behind the modern hotel (in order to hide the strange gash marks in the hood). Upon checking in, Illari asked about any unusual rumors or discussions of local legends and whereas the young lady behind the desk seemed to be aware of some, she downplayed the possibility and made it clear she did not believe in such things. Cal noticed that when she gave him his room key, she hesitated and switched keys, giving him something different. This instantly got his attention and when he made it up to his room, he approached very cautiously.

When he got into his hotel room, carrying his strange texts and looking disheveled, he was greeted by a site that he was not at all expecting: his CIA superior, Eloise Buckley as well as agents Tyler Gold and Sarah Hester. Buckley wanted answers and wanted to know why Cal had not only been distant in his communications but also had been involved in dangerous and high profile actions throughout the continent.

During their discussions, Buckley made a few things very clear: she wanted Cal to work to recruit Omar Shakti, whom she knew he had been in contact with, as a CIA asset. Further, she wanted to ensure that he worked to erode the power and influence of Edom as best he could. Finally, she mentioned a dangerous agent floating throughout Europe, Matias Emerlich, a man whom had a close relationship with Wolfgang. She provided Cal the ordered to take Emerlich out as he was a dangerous and unpredictable figure circulating through suspicious circles.

Whereas Buckley was increasingly suspicious of where Cal’s work was headed, he was able to convince her that he was still a useful field asset. He showed her some of the designs he had constructed for his ‘Cal Tech’ weaponry, as well as some of the ash he had collected from the corpse of Claude Vignon, the supposed son of Dracula. With this, Buckley was convinced that Cal should not be brought back kicking and screaming to London but she made it clear he would be on a short leash. With this, she stated that either Sarah Hester or Tyler Gold (or both) would be stationed near him while in Europe. Cal had one final request: he wanted to see if Buckley could use her contacts to have their vehicle fixed, even though he knew he ran the risk of having the vehicle compromised by CIA analysts.

Later, when the group decided to make their way to the abbey in Elorrio, they did, in fact, find the surveillance devices and deactivated them. It was at that point that Cal revealed his entire conversation with Buckley. The group then made their way to the abbey to see what they could uncover. Of course, they knew the monks and friars were secretive, so they would have to approach carefully.

Staking out the abbey, Wolfgang and Illari observed the abbey to see if they could discover any secret entrances – which they did. Cal and Pascal used drones to monitor the nearby forest and Vicente began to observe some of the locals.

Cal’s drones did discover something unusual as the images that came back where dark and distorted and even seemed to show some sinister lights and images that Illari later took to be something supernatural and dangerous. Vicente, meanwhile, encountered one of the friars who gave him a stern warning – stay away, as there was a clear danger to outsiders that were nearby.

When Cal moved his drones to other areas, they saw another figure with his own monitoring equipment that was watching the abbey. This was likely the Monsignor. The team went into action and drove their vehicle to his spot.

Indeed, the figure was Monsignor Rinaldi and whereas he was not interested in speaking out in the open, he agreed to meet with them at their hotel, especially after showing him their letter of introduction from Bishop Jean-Baptiste Champavier. In a short amount of time, they were back across town at the hotel, having an open and frank discussion with Rinaldi.

Rinaldi revealed, between generous, stiff drinks, that he was in Elorrio investigating some strange legends at the monastery, believing that something truly sinister was inside. He stated that if they were to help him, he would certainly provide the recommendation they were looking for to give to Bishop Champavier in order to get sponsorship for the St Lazarus Society. However, Rinaldi warned them that his methods were often controversial and his work was dangerous and filled with peril. The team stated that they were more than up for it.

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Episode 32: Schleich di!

April 21st, 2018 – April 24th, 2018

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Knowing they were short on supplies, or at the very least would need to replace some of the weapons and armor that had been damaged, Cal Morrison called in a request to his friend in Bucharest, Fox Schillnger, who had endless access to numerous CIA off-book operations. He knew it would be risky getting this kind of material as Fox would have to reach pretty deep to get what was needed, but Cal figured the risk was worth the reward. Fox agreed and since the team was headed to Munich, to investigate the infamous Dead House, Fox would have the material waiting for them at a specific drop point.

Meanwhile, Wolfgang Fechtner monitored the chatter throughout Germany, discovering that there was a strong amount of intelligence activity going on, causing him to determine that there were numerous figures likely putting the word out for them. He and Illari Vasyl, with Cal’s help began to reduce the amount of eyes looking for them through digital intrusion, but they would have to be careful in their actions. But this might prove to be easier said than done. Since they had determined that the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels had been compromised by agents of Dracula and been sending important documents to the Dead House in Munich, they were unsure what to expect.

The team picked up their supplies and Cal sent an email to the mysterious Monsignor Rinaldi, asking for assistance. However, he got no response. Then the team made their way to Munich to see what they could find.

Determining that the shipment had already arrived in Munich and had been delivered to the Dead House, the team knew that time was brief. And besides, Cal knew that the Dead House contained one of the more horrific things they had encountered – a dreaded Red Room. He was determined that he would use some recently acquired C-4 to destroy this unholy place as it would surely undermine the power of Dracula and his unholy minions. They knew this would bring even more heat than what outside forces were already pushing onto them.

Upon arriving near the Dead House, they did a survey of the situation, finding that the place was under surveillance from other forces, but were not immediately able to figure out from whom – simply not enough information was at their disposal. However, the loading area looked as if it has low security even though some of the outside forces were keeping close watch. Illari had a plan to distract their people on the ground in order for the team to get close. As Illari posed as a drunken tourist, Cal was able to get close enough to the building to see what was going on in the basement. A man in an expensive suit was on a cell phone while dumping documents into a furnace. The team had to get in quickly if they were to stop this and gain access to the materials!

Upon Illari incapacitating the foot agent, the team got inside the Dead House and Wolfgang shot and killed the attendant before making their way to the basement. Sometimes innocents needed to be sacrificed on the board for the greater good.

Upon making their way to the basement, they encountered the man on the phone, speaking German and they distinctly heard him mention ‘Hound’ which they took to mean that he was talking about – or to – The Hound, the high ranking agent of Edom. They eliminated him but from the side room appeared two gun men and after them, several agents impacted by what could only have been the strange vampire serum they had encountered before. After dealing with these threats, they knew they only had a few moments to get out before the team watching the building went into action. Vicente Rojas managed to watch their backs as they went to work. They grabbed what they could while Cal set the C-4 explosives, hoping to take out the building and the Red Room.

Upon fleeing the scene, they knew that the agents were scrambling into action and as they monitored the band, they heard someone, in German, reference ‘Hoyt,’ which they took to mean their adversary, Hamilton Hoyt, who they ran afoul in Vienna several months ago and knew had been looking into them. On the way out, Cal provided a hearty ‘fuck you’ to the team and detonated the C-4. However, he had underestimated the amount of explosives and as the entire city block was taken out, the blowback caught the team in the fringe explosion which damaged the vehicle and threw them onto the sidewalk. Only with Wolfgang’s mastery of control over the vehicle did it not go off the road and become inoperable. But the agents were all hurt. They were barely able to make it out of Munich and find themselves as a cheap hotel where they could assess their wounds as well as what they had taken from the Dead House. They found papers relating to fighting vampires which they knew they could put to use . . .

After a couple of days of rest and recuperation, they made their way to Marseilles where they intended to meet with Bishop Jean-Baptiste Champavier, someone associated with the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany, an organization with whom they desperately wanted a connection. Of course, there was another connection in Marseilles, the mysterious (and likely sinister) Sigmund Walther, an ex-Nazi whose name was given to them by Lou Mangiotti in Bucharest.

The team decided to meet with the Bishop first, using forged documents as to who they were, stating they had found Church documents he would be interested in. They determined that they could meet with Walther a little later, depending on what the Bishop stated as he was likely their connection with Rinaldi.

Going to the Bishop’s offices as the Marseilles diocese, they were easily able to get in to speak with him. After quickly assessing how trustworthy he was, the team made some pleasantries and managed to abandon the subterfuge, getting to the heart of their reason for being there.

The Bishop seemed interested in their story but explained that some of Rinaldi’s activities and theories were outlandish – but not necessarily untrue. Whereas the Bishop admitted he had more of an open mind that some of his associates in the Church hierarchy, he also was weary of some of Rindali’s claims. That said, he considered Rinaldi an ally even though he was the only other member of the Lazarus Society. When Cal suggested that perhaps they could get a closer relationship and maybe become members of the Society, the Bishop was weary but did not deny the possibility. However, he made it clear he did not know them well enough as of yet and if they were able to help Rinaldi, and Rinaldi put in a good word, they could revisit the issue. With that, he explained where Rinaldi could be found. he was presently in Spain, in the town of Elorrio, which was familiar to the investigators as this was the location mentioned in the Dark Castellan document they had recently acquired.

With that, Cal decided to share with the Bishop an electronic copy of all the information they had gathered, with the focus on Dracula, something that was a surprise to the Bishop but was willing to accept. But Cal made it very clear that there were a number of intelligence agencies that were interested in this information and the Bishop should be extremely cautious. Many people had died and likely many more would follow suit with regards to the conspiracy.

They agreed to speak again soon and then the team had a choice – go to Elorio or try and meet Walther. They decided that Walther would be the next stop and then make their way to meet Rinalsi.

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Episode 31: Son of the Dragon

April 16th, 2018 – April 20th, 2018

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The plan, as the team determined, was to get into the archives of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. They were to pose as a documentary film crew that would show viewers the marvels and mysteries that lay beneath. In reality, they were going to plunder whatever secrets the man known as Van Helsing left behind as well as determine what relationship he had with the Church. Their guide, the mysterious Chloe Dumas, and employee of the Archdiocese, would be none the wiser if they were lucky. Of course, as a secondary assignment, they were looking for the Brooch of the Dragon, assigned to them by Edom agent, Vita Notturna. If Edom wanted the item, then so did they.

Arriving at the Archdiocese, Ms. Dumas took an instant interest in Franco Selvaggio, who seemed lost and hurt as he was still suffering through the damage that had been inflicted upon him at the Vatican, as well as the loss of his brother-in-law and friend, Luigi Cardellini. Whether there was a true connection between them or something else was unclear.

Ms. Dumas took the team, still posing as documentarians, to the archives and bypassed the numerous secure entrances that had been established. The area looked cleaner than their night before and certain items were missing, likely shipped on to Munich. Eventually, after stopping at several areas of potential interest, they made their way to the deeper part of the archives and catacombs were the documents pertaining to Von Hessel were stored. She left them to their own devices to go check on a few other details and that is when they got to work, seeing what they could find.

Savas Osman left the documents room and continued down the cavern beyond the room. Franco went with him, which ended up being a wise course of action as the ground was unstable and when investigating, Savas’ leg fell through a weak spot, indicating there was a cavern below.

Meanwhile, Pascal Lerue and Vicente Rojas went across the hall where they found another room filled with strange paintings from the 1600’s and 1700’s, all with disturbing imagery. Pascal, never at a loss for using resources when he could find them, took one of the more disturbing pieces from the collection.

While researching the documents in the repository, Wolfgang Fechtner and Illari Vasyl discovered a few curious things. First, it seemed that many of documents pertaining to the Von Hessel matter were missing. Entire swaths of documents were gone, which was extremely curious. Left behind, however, was a symbol of St. Lazarus. Was this a sign left by agents of the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany? Also, it seems that there suspicions were confirmed regarding the relationship with the Church as ‘monster hunters.’ From the documents that were found, it appeared that the Archdiocese in Brussels was, in fact, a central location that dispatched investigators of the paranormal for the past few years. Von Hessel was, in fact, a Church operative.

At this point Savas, Franco, Pascal and Vicente returned to the room where they reported back on what they found. As the others began digging through the documents, they were finding very little beyond their initial investigation. But when Illari pulled out a large bx, he was shocked to see, a hidden message written in chalk. It read: “Run. Not safe!” It was at that point that Vicente, staying in a guarded position, saw coming around the corner, Chloe Dumas, flanked by 8 para-military soldiers, and they looked ready to kill. Chloe’s eyes glowed with a maniacal glare indicating they were in serious danger. They all jumped back into the room and sealed the door, giving them a few moments to think of what they would do, even though they were trapped.

Thinking quickly, Illari pondered whether or not there was a secret passage, as many of these old buildings and catacombs did. He was in luck, as there was a secret door that led down some stone stairs. A grenade was rigged by the door so that the next time it would open, the grenade would drop, detonating. This gave them some extra time to flee.

Exploring the new area, it was deeper into the earth and filled with darkness. The soft earth indicated that they could be in danger as the stench of death was all around them. That is when they were beset upon by the Vampiric Clergy. A short firefight slowed them down but the creatures proved they were made of guile and superior powers, which, in turn, slowed the escape of the team.

Upon getting past the vampires, they made their way to the next chamber, with the armed soldiers and Dumas close behind, unknowing how much the grenade may have slowed them down. As they entered the new room, they discovered it was an elaborate underground chamber filled with unusual items and treasures, but dominating the room was a large coffin with writing indicating to whom it belonged. It appeared that the writing showed it was ‘Claude Vignon, Son of the Dragon.’ If this was correct, they were in serious danger.

Figuring that the Brooch of the Dragon could likely be inside of the casket, they carefully and slowly began to remove the lid, realizing that they had limited time. But just as they were moving it, they noticed on the ceiling above them, crawling above them was a horrific and grotesque figure – Claude Vignon, himself!

The battle was brutal and hard fought as the powerful vampire took on the entire team of agents. But some lucky shots as well as determination allowed them to pull through, beheading the creature. Quickly grabbing what they could, they found the exit which took them back to the surface, a graveyard on Church property. With that, they boosted a large vehicle and contacted Cal Morrison to clean out their rooms of important items and made their escape, meeting up at a hotel outside of town. But first, Savas insisted they come back and pick up his contact, Marie Lamont, to save her from what would surely happen to her.

Upon arriving back at the new hotel, the group began tending to the serious wounds they had incurred and Lerue began to look over what he had found. Examining one item he grabbed, it was titled Queen of the Underworld and was a small, grotesque statue, however, he was unsure of what role it played. He also found documents that suggested the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels was compromised. Apparently, their misuse of the Eucharist was a double edged sword. Whereas it provided a weapon for Von Hessel, it weakened the integrity of the church and allowed Dracula’s minions to enter and exact their revenge. Those who were not slaughtered were turned into vampires and dark servants of the Prince. The Cathedral and the administration had been a bastion for Dracula ever since.

It was at this point that the team decided they would return to Munich and see what they could discover regarding the destination point of the artifacts being sent from Brussels. Of course, the destination point was the famed and dread Munich Dead House, a location that was known to the team.

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Episode 30: Above and Below

April 9th, 2018 – April 15th, 2018

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The team needed out of Rome and quickly. The heat was rising and having been expelled from the Vatican had not aided matters. The team quickly got what they could and Wolfgang Fechtner knew the exact place to lay low for a few days – Interlaken, Switzerland. It was right before tourist season started and would have plenty of quiet hotel rooms. Besides, he had a contact there, Dr. Zehra Sevim, someone who he could request supplies from.

Upon arriving in Interlaken, it was as quiet as they expected. However, Savas Osman still wanted to enure their safety and began moving through what few cafes were open, investigating the personalities that were present. Wolfgang took the supplies he got from Dr. Sevim and began creating several doses of the Blomberg Serum as he suspected this could provide some protection from the Vampires they were likelygoing to face. Illari Vasyl, however, began researching what he could about the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. Also, since the team had been in Brussels recently, he had to find a specific place they could stay, so he booked several suites at the Stanhope Hotel

Cal Morrison, however, had other plans. He was interested in reviewing the infamous Bathory Journals the team had seized in Vienna. What secrets did they have?

Cal was ill prepared for what he encountered in the text. It was horrific retelling of the murders of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, occurring between 1578 and 1610. Each murder recounted and each death provided in gruesome detail, explaining how she felt this would prolong her life. However, it also detailed how she, in fact, knew Dracula. but much to Cal’s shock, he discovered she detested him with great passion. Perhaps they were monsters that were too much alike. But Cal determined that unless he was gravely mistaken, the Countess, herself, was also a vampire. But the stress of the haunting entries in the journals were too much for Cal. He came close to a nervous breakdown over what he had been reading and began to be haunted by the horrors he read.

As the group left after a few days in Interlaken, they made their way to Brussels and the Stanhope Hotel and en route, Savas revealed that he actually had a contact at the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. A friend of his, Ms. Marie Lambert, recently took a job in the archives and would provide to be an excellent contact, as fortune seemed to smile on them. Savas contacted her and she stated she would be happy to receive him at the Archdiocese the following day. As Savas suggested that he and his associates were members of a documentary crew, she would be happy to discuss some details with them regarding getting inside the archives.

The following day when the team arrived at the offices of the Archdiocese and made their way to the archival office, they met Ms. Lambert who seemed somewhat on edge (however, this was nothing compared to the erratic nature of Cal Morrison, who was jumping at shadows after having read Bathory’s journals, as well as suspecting that Bathory, either as ghost or vampire was anywhere and everywhere). Lambert explained they would have to talk to her boss, Chloe Dumas, who ran the office.

Upon getting in to see Ms. Dumas, Illari noticed a book on her desk, something called Prince of Lies which appeared to be something recent but heavily annotated by Ms. Dumas. Illari made a mental note to pick up a copy at the local book store. When Ms. Dumas was asked about visiting the archives, she stated that it was not possible. There was extensive construction going on, and besides, due to the recent activities at the Vatican, the archives were currently closed. This was unacceptable to Savas as well as Wolfgang. Savas implied that there could be a healthy donation to the Church and Wolfgang managed to show a perfectly forged note from the Vatican on behalf of the mysterious Msgr Rinaldi (with the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany). So despite her reservations, Ms. Dumas suggested they could return tomorrow and she would give them a personally guided tour. However, based on the looks Marie Lambert was giving Savas, there was something amiss. The group left but had their own plans. On their way out, Marie suggested that she and Savas meet up later that night at a nightclub.

Vicente Rojas and Cal decide to remain near the offices and set up surveillance on Ms. Dumas. They discovered that one of her first phone calls was to the Cardinal, explaining the situation. At the same time, Wolfgang and Illari made their way to the archives in disguises and managed to breach the strangely high tech security that was present. Upon getting in, they noticed that there were numerous crates, preparing to send objects out of town. When Wolfgang examined the packing labels, he discovered that the items were headed towards Munich, specifically, the dreaded Dead House, as ordered by figures at the Vatican. What could this possibly mean? Regardless, they discovered that the whole place was a massive maze and would have to return later when they were better prepared as Ms. Dumas had dispatched workers to get to the archives to conduct some cleaning. But before they left, Wolfgang managed to pinch a book that was to be sent. When they got back to the hotel, they discovered it contained some hidden secrets within. Pulling apart some of the binding, they discovered a Collection of Ancient Documents. What else was the Archdiocese smuggling out of the building to Munich? They would have to return.

Meanwhile Savas Osman wanted to see what he could discover, scouring the city. He found an interesting flyer, announcing the arrival of celebrity club-reviewer, Vita Notturna, appearing in a local club, Bloody Louis. It was her earrings that looked suspiciously like Edom symbols that attracted him to her. Was she an Edom agent or a weird coincidence? He left a message with the club staff that he was a journalist who wanted to return and interview her that night. They agreed and he decided he would return with the others after midnight to talk to her.

That night would prove to be a busy evening. They wanted to break into the archives again, meet with Marie and then interview Vita Notturna. However, Cal stayed behind to lovingly obsess over the journals of Elizabeth Bathory under the pretense of ‘trying to uncover more secrets.’ The team went to watch the archives as Savas went to a wild nightclub where he met up with Marie who suggested her boss, Dumas, was working with some shadowy figure in and around the Archdiocese as she head heard her reference some important individual other than the Cardinal. Marie suspected that someone else was calling the shots as far as Dumas was concerned.

The group then returned to the archives, again broke in and noticed that significant cleaning had been done in the area. Knowing they had an appointment the next day, they decided to merely focus their attention on the crates to be shipped off to Munich. Sure enough, each book and document contained some other hidden documents within. As they carefully examined and took the documents apart, with Wolfgang putting them back together again, they noticed most of the documents pertained to historical activities of Vlad Tepes; Dracula. Why were they being sent? Was it something sentimental for the undead count? Another document was one titled Dark Castellan, which seemed to focus on the activities of some evil spirit in Spain. With that, they packed everything up and went out to meet with the mysterious Vita Notturna and the exclusive club where she was appearing.

The group, posing as Edom contacts, approached Ms. Notturna and suggested they were field agents. Notturna explained that while she and her superior (alluding to Hound), had an asset in place at the Archdiocese, the asset had not yet been able to execute some of the orders that had been given. Specifically, there was an item inside the archives Edom was interested in, a brooch that was for the Order of the Dragon, something special and perhaps sacred to Dracula. Notturna insisted that the team get in and get the item and get out and hand over that and everything else they found to her. Notturna explained this was a useful piece of leverage they could use against Dracula as he was proving to be a very testy and difficult ally of theirs.

With that, the team left, preparing for their guided tour in the morning of the mysterious and infamous archives, going down below, far underneath the cathedral.

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Episode 29: When in Rome . . .

April 6th, 2018 – April 8th, 2018

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Wolfgang Fechtner, fresh from his clandestine meeting with Melissa Walford, returned to Cal Morrison who had just been released from the Roman hospital and the two of them connected with Illari Vasyl and Vicente Rojas where they met at a back room in a bar where Fechtner explained the deal Walford had offered. Cal, leery of working with MI6, due to the fears that they were a tainted organization, and possibly in league with Edom. However, there was some suggestion that what Walford and her mysterious allies had was somehow worth the risk. Besides, it seemed that they quite possibly were connected to Hopkins in some way.

Satisfied that the entire affair was not a complete trap, the investigators returned to the back room bar where Walford was first encountered. The two shadowy associates of Ms. Walford were still present, not contributing to the conversation as much as they seemed to observe. It was evident to Fechtner that they were experienced field agents. When Walford dropped the name of the Circus, the team knew they were dealing with true professionals.

The discussion centered around the large crate that appeared in a Roman warehouse. Whereas none of them knew what was inside, Walford suggested that their contact, likely Hopkins, alerted them to the existence of the crate which, Fechtner noted, could well contain a coffin of some kind. Whereas Walford and the others did not seem to know what was inside, or what the true nature was, Cal happily explained to them the kind of threat they were dealing with, alluding to, but not confirming, the existence of a supernatural threat. Cal did, however, question them whether or not they were familiar with Edom to which Walford seemed to explain that many agents seemed to have heard of this but suspected it was some kind of urban legend but increasingly there were several that began to believe it was more real than fantasy.

One of the shadowy agents spoke up; the older gentleman. He stated was Norbert Westerly and had been in the field for long enough to have vast experience. He seemed interested in which of the investigators were associated with Matias Emerlich. Taken back, Fechtner admitted he was. He was successfully able to bluff his way into convincing Westerly that he did but acted like he did not – a double bluff as it had been so long since Fechtner had really dealt with him that he hardly knew him any more. It seemed that Westerly wanted to find him, suspecting that Emerlich was a dangerous and desperate individual and may not be the man that Fechtner thought he was.

Once the investigators were satisfied that Walford and her allies were legitimate and reduced the chances of them being enemy agents, they researched the warehouse where the crate was stationed, and discovered it was owned by a holding company. The point of origin for the crate was precisely unknown and the recipient was not listed. They feared the worst regarding what was inside.

Upon arriving at the area where the warehouse was located, Cal immediately noticed an unmanned van nearby. The van once had the logo of Axel Logistics but had been painted over. The van also rode low to the ground, suggesting there was something very heavy inside. Whether it was a motorcycle, a team of Vampires or something else was, as of yet, unknown.

As Fechtner and Cal approached and entered the warehouse, Illari approached the van in hopes of neutralizing whatever threat was contained within. But when he approached and got himself inside, he was staring at a camera that was facing the warehouse and noticed a van full of explosives in the rear. Communicating this detail to Cal and Fechtner was the only response he had in such a short amount of time.

As Cal immediately got to work with jamming the signal, Fechtner quickly went to the crate, opening it, as he knew he had minimal time. Upon opening it, he was standing face to face with a large, ornate coffin. It was then that he noticed the looming vampiric creature above him. Startled, he immediately threw up a holy water grenade and got out of the way.

Cal was distracted by the situation with the explosives and was unable to fully engage with the creature but Illari and Vicente came in, shooting and using their holy water grenades. But it was Illari that managed to take his silver machete and do a sliding attack that took out both legs of the creature, but it still managed to be alive. It was then that they dispatched it with holy water and saved some of the blood as well as the ash that the creature disintegrated into. Fechtner and Cal planned to send the materials to the mysterious Dr. Beaufort so he could study the material for further research. Cal managed to make off with a small amount of the explosives from the van and the entire group fled the scene.

Returning to the secret location Walford was using, the team quickly debriefed and discussed what they had found. It seemed that Walford, Westerly and Derry were shocked to experience the vampires and now were putting together the pieces that they had earlier not fully understood. It was then that Westerly handed over some document that a ‘mutual friend’ thought would be helpful: the 1981 transcript as well as the St George Document.

Westerly introduced his younger colleague, Colin Derry. Westerly explained they had been investigating Matias Emerlich as well as his connection with the shadowy businessman, Omar Shakti, an individual whom the characters had a prior relationship and were extremely suspicious of. Westerly provided them with the Seal of the Brotherhood, a strange document that seemed to be important to Shakti and whatever organization he was involved with. Westerly seemed interested in the group getting closer to Shakti as Westerly clearly had an open investigation (or vendetta) against the man. The group agreed to consider helping but made no promises.

With that, they collected all their things, intended to gather up the others, and planned to go to the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, back in Brussels. Perhaps they would encounter Mr. Shakti again . . .

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