Night's Black Agents: Dracula Dossier

Episode 67: Here Comes the Bride

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November 13th, 2018 – November 14th, 2018

Following the events of fighting Dracula, several members of the team were injured and the entire roof was covered in blood. They had to escape quickly, as security would likely be arriving soon. Illari Vassyl went to the floor beneath to break into a hotel room where they could lay low for an hour while they patch themselves up. In the meantime, Aiden Tobias was still in his psychic trance.

The visions Aiden had were of Dracula turning into a bat and fleeing to Pitesti Prison, a location that was not unknown to the team from a prior investigation. As Aiden came out of his trance, he mumbled what he saw to the others. The team knew that area was likely well protected and therefore dangerous. It was likely that he would have many minions nearby and quite likely even one of his brides.

As the team was getting ready to leave the hotel room and make their way to Pitesti Prison, likely a suicide mission, they received a call from Dalia Blackfrairs, assistant to Sir Reginald Hillary. Somewhat agitated, she explained that Sir Reginald needed to speak with them right away as there were new developments that would complicate maters. Beyond that, she did not know any further details.

The team was torn. They knew they had to work fast. After all, Dracula was wounded and they needed to take advantage of the situation and with the developments in Bucharest, the heat would be on and authorities would be looking for them. On the other hand, Sir Reginald had been a helpful ally in the past and any information he had for them could be valuable resources. In the end, they reluctantly decided to go to him. But they decided the trip would have to be brief.

Upon arriving at Sir Reginald’s suite, his staff was abuzz with activity. Clearly things were in a state of panic – perhaps over Dracula’s recent actions. But then they were led back to Sir Reginald’s temporary office. He was alone with a conference table full of papers, documents and photographs and asked them to be seated.

Sir Reginald showed them a video of Hopkins being kidnapped from her hotel room and Matthew Sutherland, her boyfriend, being attacked by the same assailants. He explained that Edom agents had been on their trail and must have caught up with Hopkins. He assured them, however, that his own agents had picked up Sutherland and he was safe. When asking what they could do at this point, Sir Reginald opened up to them.

He spoke of great patriotism to England and the desire to keep citizens safe and that he was a man of peace who often wanted peaceful solutions. He also explained that he despised Dracula with ever ounce of his being. And finally, he pointed to a camera on his wall and stated that the camera was recording the video of their actions, presently. As Sir Reginald spoke, he became more and more agitated, much like a fanatic. His kind demeanor evaporated and at that moment, a sinking feeling crept over all the agents. It took mere moments to realize that they were standing in front of not an erstwhile ally, but more likely, ‘D,’ the absolute leader of Edom. And with the camera rolling, they knew they would be branded as murderers if they did anything to him, especially without the audio.

After quickly recovering from the stunning revelation, they tried to reason with Sir Reginald, or at least point out the flaws in his plan, the plan of dealing with a monster like Dracula. Sir Reginald explained that his plan would ensure safety and security by taking out Viktor Petrov, the President of Russia and placing him under Dracula’s control and thus, making him an ally of Edom. Realizing this plan was insane and delusional, Sir Reginald disagreed with them, saying it was the only way to ensure the security of the British people. It was at this moment they also realized that every action Sir Hillary had claimed to take on their behalf was likely a lie – from the attack on the HMS Prosperpine, to the work he had done to block Sir Wilfred Corbin’s moves against them. Sir Hillary was holding all the cards.

Sir Hillary made it clear they would cease any and all actions against Dracula and Edom. He would be merciful and suggested to Aiden at that perhaps there would even be a place for him in the organization, with his talents with psychic powers. But the team wanted no part of Sir Hillar’s deranged scheme and whereas they all made up their minds to escape, they had to act quickly; after all, Sir Hillary had suggested that an asset of his own was coming. When they asked if it were Heartbreaker, he dismissed it, with everyone then concluding that it was the final, mysterious Bride of Dracula.

Kat DeWein made a phone call to Hound, seeing if she was ready to fulfill her part of the bargain by shutting down Edom’s communication network as she promised. She said she was but would take 15 minutes to fully collapse and would likely be back up within 2-3 hours. It was at that point that Kat disabled the camera and Illari gave Sir Hillary one last chance to repent. When it was clear he would not, they did what Sir Hillary never thought possible – Illari delivered two fatal stab wounds to him, ending D’s 100 year reign as director of Edom. With that, they had to quickly slip out before his asset arrived and before his bodyguards realized what happened.

The team made their way out of the hotel in hopes of getting somewhere safe. They pressed Sarah Hester to see if she knew a place but then Aiden remembered he had a contact in the area, an ex-Romanian intelligence officer, Andrei Ianescu. Ianescu owed Aiden a favor and now was as good a time as any to collect. It was there they would develop their next plan and their scheme to put a final assault on Dracula.

Sarah Hester departed to see if she could get Eloise Buckley and the CIA to start rounding up Dracula’s agents in London. Kat contacted Hound to meet them at the safe house. They pressed Hound as to any details as to what D and Dracula’s plans were. She suspected that Lord Delapole was somehow key. She suspected – but could not confirm – that Lord Delapole was a weapon to take out President Petrov. It was then that Illari called their one Russian contact, Svetlana Tovorsky, Petrov’s deputy press secretary and tried to warn her to keep Delapole away from Petrov. She agreed to try but was suspicious of broaching such a subject, explaining to the Russian President that vampires were in a plot to kill him.

The topic then turned to what were they going to do about Dracula and Petesti Prison. They had such a small window of opportunity to do anything and the authorities were likely looking for them, especially now that they were the main suspects in the death of Sir Hillary. Further complicating matters was the fact that Dracula was likely surrounded by dangerous and loyal agents. They had to find a way to push away one of his brides – the final bride. It was then that Kay had a brilliant idea.

If they could somehow use the breakdown in communications with Edom to take advantage of the confusion, perhaps they could spoof a communication from Edom’s communication director to someone to get the bride out of Dracula’s shadow. Aiden then consulted Le Dragon Noir and had a revelation: every time they met with Sir Hillary’s assistant, Dalia Blackfrairs, it was either in darkness or it was under the apex of a doorway. La Dragon Noir suggested that this was a capable way for vampires to remain hidden. Was Blackfrairs a vampire? Was she, in fact the final bride?

Working on the assumption that Blackfrairs was, at the very least, a vampire, they decided to go through the idea of spooking her from Edom, telling her that the last of the Trinity Seals. They suspected they could get her to show up and attack them to take the last of the seals, which was, as it turns out, the forgery they had their hands on. Dracula and his agents could not resist such a valuable prize. They could ambush her and prevent her from being with Dracula, making it easier when they chose to make their attack. Aiden, who had intimate knowledge of observatories and other scientific areas, knew that the Admiral Vasile Urseanu Astronomical Observatory would be the perfect place to spring the trap. They could make use of the morning sun to use to defeat her.

They set up their positions in the observatory and then sent the spoofed communication. They knew that if Blackfrairs was involved with Dracula, she would be arriving soon to take the Trinity Seals. But almost as soon as the group was in place, the entire building was enveloped in darkness.

She was coming.

Movements zipped through the darkened room, causing the team to open fire. However, they were tricked. The vampire that was present was using illusions and mind tricks to confuse the team, causing them to attack each other. Aiden, however, began to cast the ritual from Le Dragon Noir. This prompted Vincente Rojas to be on high alert as he knew he was in danger when the spell went off. During the assault, Illari used the Spear of Longinus to strike at her but he missed more than his attack drove home. But with every strike the vampire landed, Illari became weaker, until she finally began to drain him with her powerful fangs. And since Aiden’s spell was about to go off, Vincente had to flee lest he be destroyed by the spell.

When Aiden’s spell went off, it did, in fact, destroy the closest vampire to him, but unfortunately, the bride had brought along a decoy. This made things more dire as now they were desperate and Illari went down, being drained of his vital life force. Kate sprung into action and grabbed the Spear, delivering a well-placed blow. At that exact moment, the Bride, Blackfrairs in full view now, was skewed with the holy item, destroying her instantly.

Meanwhile outside the observatory, Dracula’s voice tried to command Vincente but be managed to fight it off. But for how much longer?

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Episode 66: Dirty Laundry

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November 11th, 2018 – November 13th, 2018

One of the first ordered of business was for Kat DeWein to inform Dalia Blackfriars that Sir Wilfred Corbin was in league with Edom and they had eliminated him. The concern was that if Sir Reginald Hillary had relied on anything from Sir Wilfred (like Corbin’s serum) that it should be considered tainted and to not trust anything that had come from that source. Ms. Blackfriar agreed that she would get rid of anything that had come from that area.

The team made sure that their journalist contact, Laurel Dene was safe but they also put her to work, watching as many people as she could, reporting back to them with anything suspicious she saw. They wanted her to cover the G-20 Summit as normal but needed her eyes and ears on the ground.

Then the discussion turned to trying to locate the Red Room that Dracula and his agents had no doubt set up somewhere in the area. So the team went on a tour looking for likely places. One area that was a good candidate was under the hotel where they were staying. It was within the bowels of the hotel that they found various laundry facilities that were now off limits. They used their credentials provided by Sir Hillary to get into the area and discovered not a Red Room but instead a large location being set up like a bunker. They surmised that the room was being stocked with emergency provisions and contained a large steal door. It seemed as if this would be some kind of safe zone established in case of a terrorist attack where the various heads of state could be gathered from the G-20 summit until the danger had passed. It was what was above that room that interested them as they found no information on the hotel schematics. So it was time to go to the vents.

The team when to the location nearest the vents – a laundry room – and it was Aiden Tobias that hoisted himself into the ventilation system and began crawling his way to the unmarked section. When he came out, he was in a massive dark room with electronic equipment everywhere. And in the center of the room was a well-constructed mahogany room constructed. Was this the Red Room?

As Aiden explored, Illari Vassyl and Kat DeWein waited nearby. They saw a somewhat familiar face as Svetlana Tovorsky, the Deputy Press Secretary (Frankie Savage had been sweet on her) for Russian President, Viktor Petrov was nearby conducting business. It was a strange coincidence that they would see here again after so many months but suspected that she was in Petrov’s entourage.

As Aiden continued to explore the room, her determined that the electronic equipment was the laid groundwork for a massive set of explosives, possibly there to kill the dignitaries below if they were transported here. Horrifying as that was, he decided to continue to press his luck and enter what he thought was the newly constructed Red Room.

As expected, it was a room with red walls, the blood and paint still fresh. Inside was an ornate chair as well as a small table. This is where Dracula would likely come to meditate if he needed to do so. But then Aiden heard footsteps and quickly got on the ceiling, holding himself steady as someone came into the room Using the darkness to his advantage, he desperately hoped that whoever entered would not notice him. The individual quietly entered and laid something down on the table, later determined to be an ornate dagger. What purpose this item had was unknown but Aiden suspected Dracula was in tune with it and decided to leave it behind so that Dracula would not be able to follow or detect him.

Aiden found a secret door in the larger room that lead to a hallway, indicating that is how the construction crew must have gotten into the room to set up the Red Room. He went back the we came and alerted the others and they eventually found the passage into the secret area, keeping note of it for later as they suspected they would have to return. They all then returned to their wing to consider their next plan.

The team looked up and located where Lord Cecil Delapole was staying. They knew he had some greater, sinister role in the whole affair but were unsure as to what. Either way, they knew that keeping track of him was paramount as Countess Dolinz had prepared him for something not at all good.

While planning, Illari noticed, from his window, a car arriving. Since he had been on the lookout for strange arrivals and departures, he knew to keep an eye out for anything. To his surprise, the figure that emerged from the limo was Lord Blakeford Caldwell of the Caldwell Foundation. Illari immediately wanted to make contact to see why he was here – and on such short notice.

Upon making contact, Lord Caldwell explained that he had come to the G-20 Summit as he suspected something sinister was about to happen. Since he had not heard from the agents in several months, he was worried something had happened to them. When Illari asked if Lord Caldwell had brought any of the items that the Caldwell Foundation possessed, he said that he had not but could get some if needed.

The following day the team went to the G-20 Summit and watched from the observation booth. All the countries from the G-20 were represented but when the team looked closer, they noticed that two specific individuals were present, also watching – Hound and Karl Bonnaire. Whatever the two of them were doing here was likely to be of some interest to the agents. But it was at this point that Illari decided he would try and turn Hound as they knew her weak points and had a plan to sell her on the idea. As Kat observed the pair, she noticed that they paid particular interested to President Petrov of Russia.

When the two split up, Karl went in one direction and Hound went in another. Before she could leave the observation area, Illari came behind her and, in a combination of diplomacy and intimidation, he forced Hound into a meeting. She agreed to meet up with him a few moments later in a cafe not far from the observation area.

Vincente Rojas followed Karl back to his hotel room and decided to force a meeting. Moving from the hotel room above Karl’s and into Karl’s, Vincente waited in hopes of being catch him flat footed. When Karl emerged from the bathroom virtually naked but covered in blood, Vincente gave his proposal: he needed blood and wanted to throw his lot in with ‘the Master.’ This threw Karl for a loop and whatever he had planned – be it throwing Vincente out or resorting to an attack – he changed his mind and agreed to meet with him later that evening to test how worthy Vincente was to meet the Master. With that, Karl gave Vincente a a drink of blood and Vincente left.

At the same time, Illari met up with Hound with Kat and Sarah Hester nearby in case something went wrong as Hound’s bodyguards were also close by. Illari made his pitch to Hound who summarized his positions, all summing up with the idea that Edom was destructive, was not doing the job they were set to do and worst of all, it was likely that Dracula and his minions would waste no time in turning her into the legions of the undead as quickly as they could if given the opportunity. In short, Edom, under D’s direction. Hound was still somewhat skeptical but agreed to meet in 2 hours elsewhere where she could speak more freely.

When they met up in the laundry facility of a nearby hotel, Hound was prepared to discuss what she knew. Whereas she did not know D and had never met him, Illari showed her the Renfield Journal, showing Renfield’s long term plans. Further, he showed the evidence that Renfield was not only still alive but was running Edom as D. This undermined Hound’s faith in the Edom even further. Illari was convinced he had her.

She broke down and confessed that Edom’s plan was to assist Dracula further in his schemes to destroy terrorism and was going to aid him in not seizing control of England but Russia – Petrov was the target. The plan was to engineer the economic crisis, lure the world leaders to Bucharest and turn Petrov into a servant of Dracula, turning him from a murderous brutal dictator into an undead murderous brutal dictator.

Hound further stated that she was willing to join their side and stop the schemes of Dracula and Edom. She stated that she would shut down Edom’s communications network and could keep it down for 30-45 minutes. Whereas she was in charge of the field operation, Johan Schmidt was also on the scene and would likely take over if she was seen to be disloyal or incompetent. She provided Illari the information to get in touch with her in order to activate her assistance.

That night, the entire team went to meet up with Karl, on the roof of one of the neighboring hotels. The plan was, of course, to either capture of kill Karl but the team was thrown for a loop when Count Dracula himself arrived. To say it was a shock was an understatement. Within moments the Count was on top of the agents. His attacks were brutal but the team responded with not only the Trinity Seals but also the Spear of Longinus as well as the Quincy Morris pistols. Kat used the ancient crucifix. Whereas all these items seemed to cause havoc with Dracula, none of them seemed to stop him outright. When Dracula fled, hoping to regroup his attack, Aiden did the unthinkable. He tried to use his psychic powers to lock onto him, tracking him to where he was headed. But Karl remained behind, offering a final attack on behalf of his master. After Dracula had fled, Karl exploded, raining blood down on the rooftop. Fortunately, the team had gotten away from the attack and were well hidden from the assault. But Karl was gone but the team knew where Dracula was heading.

The chase was on.

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Episode 65: We've Had Worse Plans

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November 7th, 2018 – November 11th, 2018

In the hands of Edom, the team was quickly captured outside of Castle Craciuna – or what remained of it – and were blindfolded, restrained and taken away by different helicopters, presumably to the same location. While en route, Aiden Tobias used his mystic powers to attempt to determine where they were going. Through his mind’s eye, he saw they were headed somewhere urban. he determined it was Sarajevo, Bosnia. But for what purpose, he could only imagine.

Worse, the Dracula Dossier and Le Dragon Noir had fallen into the hands of Edom, the very group they needed to keep it away from. It would only be a matter of time before they likely turned it over to Dracula. Of course, this was nothing to say of the other special equipment such as the Trinity Seals and the Spear of Longinus that were now in the hands of Edom.

When they arrived, they could tell they were on a rooftop but were quickly taken inside by a team of medical operatives and were further restrained on operating tables. When the blindfolds were finally removed, they could see they were in an operating theater and above them were several figures in shadows, but one of them they could instantly make out – Johan Schmidt, a figure who had been dogging them for months.

When Schmidt finally arrived to speak to them, he explained to Kat DeWein and Aiden than a decision was made to not destroy them but turn them into Edom servants. He then gestured to the figures on operating tables nearby. It seemed as if Edom’s plans were to give them blood transfusions with vampires, turning them unto undead servants. Schmidt admitted that this was not his suggestion as he felt that they deserved something more noble than that but he had been outvoted. He stated that he had argued for a simple bullet to the head to give them some measure of peace. He further revealed that his relationship with Edom had been looked favorably upon and since they was an opening after Elvis had been eliminated, he was getting that post.

Illari Vassyl and Vincente Rojas were rolled in and the procedure was soon to begin. It was at this point that Schmidt was preparing his departure when more individuals entered. Sir Wilfred Corbin and the much maligned Sarah Hester.

Now that the team knew who had sold them out, Sir Corbin gloated as he lavishly ran his hands up and down Le Dragon Noir. He explained that his serum had been worthless but the special box it was contained it had a tracking device that allowed he and his Edom associates to track the team for weeks. As far as Hester was concerned, she seemed nervous, saying very little. It was not until Sir Corbin, explaining that everything was ready to fall into place, was ready to throw the switch to start the blood transfusion, that Hester acted, shooting Corbin’s bodyguards and starting to free the agents.

With the tables now turned on Sir Corbin, they took the text from him, quickly discovered he was neither D nor was he the nefarious Dr. Drawes. Knowing they did not have time to interrogate him before Edom’s kill teams arrived, they shot him, ridding themselves of a dangerous Edom agent. It was now time to escape. Hester explained that they had the time to escape with ease. However, if they wished to gather all their equipment, that would make things more challenging. The team, of course, opted for the challenge of collecting their equipment – much needed equipment – then making their escape.

The team shot their way through the Edom agents making their way to the equipment lock down. They gathered their important artifacts and then Hester suggested making their way to the roof where they had another firefight in an attempt to get to one of the helicopters. From here they made a daring helicopter escape with several Edom agents giving chase. Fortunately Aiden Tobias was able to ditch their attackers while Illari made contact with a shady fence named Yuri Putin. They traded the helicopter to him for a beat up Yugo, making their way a few hours east while they could catch their breath, regroup and plan their next move.

Upon arriving at a nondescript, flea-bag hotel, they began to patch themselves up, take stock at what they needed and then pressed Hester for what she knew. She stated she had been on the outs with the CIA and Eloise Buckley for months after going rogue and working an undercover operation with Edom. She had been recruited by Edom about a year ago but decided to become a double agent, helping the agents when she could. She had been assigned to work with Johan Schmidt but was kept in the dark regarding Edom operations. However, she suspected she could access Edom one more time before they were alerted to her treachery. Meanwhile, Aiden contacted Hopkins and Matthew Sutherland in hopes they could get them to safety. Illari began to track down the equipment needed.

Hester went on to explain how things were entering endgame. Whatever Dracula and Edom had been preparing for years was close to coming to fruition. She suspected that the financial crisis, orchestrated by Dracula, was at the heart of it. When she warned that a G-20 Summit had been called due to the worsening economic crisis and it was scheduled for Bucharest, the team knew that is where the entire affair was about to go down. They had to get to Bucharest as quickly as possible. Of course, all this was dependent on them trusting Sarah Hester, someone the group had not trusted since the beginning.

The g-20 Summit was scheduled for several luxury hotels in the Bucharest area, with the main two being the Boscolo Bucharest Hotel and the Sofitel Hotel nearby. The main activities would take place in the Boscolo so it was just a matter of getting everyone into place and getting the right cover identities. With Hopkins and Sutherland safely with the group they put out a call for Dr. Loughlin to bring his earthquake machine from Spain and meet them as fast as he could. If he could be nearby in a van (an Axel Logistics van they picked up) with Sutherland watching him, they felt they could easily send out the signal to help prevent Dracula from using some of his more potent powers. Of course, they still needed a way in and in addition to the mundane security that would be present with dignitaries from 20 powerful nations (not to mention the heads of state) they would be Edom agents looking for them. They had to come up with a plan to get in.

Meanwhile the team set Hester up to use the last actions she could with Edom. She discovered that several notable Edom agents would be present at the summit, including Schmidt, Hound and even D, himself. As a result, the team needed a distraction, as they had hoped to knock out the communications network Edom had set up in London. It was at this point that Illari proposed the idea of contacting Adelaide LeClerque and buying her dirty bomb, planting it near Edom and having the authorities lock down the area. Of course, they needed Sir Reginald Hillary to help.

It was at this point that the team wondered if Sir Hillary could help. Perhaps he would get an invitation to the summit and perhaps they could come in as his retinue. They got in touch Dalia Blackfriars, Sir Reginald’s assistant and set up a conversation.

The conversation with Sir Hillary resulted in them dropping the evidence of the dirty bomb, set up by LeClerque. They knew he would not want to be party to an actual threat so they did not let him know they were the ones behind it, merely leaving it at the bomb was a threat they had uncovered. They then broached the topic of the G-20 Summit. He agreed that they could be brought on as his security detail, giving them access to the facility as well as having access to reasonable levels of weapons. He also revealed he had some information on the HMS Proserpine, the facility they asked him to raid. He had good news but would reveal it when he met up with them at the Bucharest airport.

The team then activated Laurel Dene, the journalist from The Guardian who had been working with them. They needed her in Bucharest and needed her to help (as they needed every bit of help they could get from everyone). And better yet, she stated that she had important information to share that she could only share in person.

A couple of days later the team met up with Sir Reginald and his staff, coming off his private jet in Bucharest. They accompany him to the Sofitel Hotel where he dismisses his staff and just the agents and Sir Reginald remain. He explains that the Prosperpine had, indeed, been raided and whereas the Edom agents destroyed what they could, a treasure trove of information had been found. Edom agents Osprey and Dr. Drawes had been apprehended and Heartbreaker, AKA Lucy Westerna had escaped. They were still sifting through the information but Sir Reginald would hand over what he could as soon as it was possible.

They then met up with Laurel Dene, in a cafe at the edge of Bucharest. She had mentioned she had been busy since they last saw her. She had infiltrated Seward’s former asylum, now standing as a clinic specializing in blood disorders. Using her abilities to infiltrate as well as her insight for uncovering mysteries, she uncovered the journal of Renfield, the former aid to Dracula. In it, it was revealed that he was working for Edom the whole time, allowing himself to go deep undercover to spy on Dracula. His notes for bugs and other creatures he consumed was a standard cipher that he used to pass notes to the rest of the team at the time. However, the true bombshell that she dropped upon handing over the journal was that Renfield had risen through the ranks of Edom and was now the man known as D. He was still alive, pulling the Edom strings after all these years. More importantly, there was a spell that Renfield had determined would be a powerful weapon against Dracula – a word of power that would shut the monster down from using some of his abilities, based in geometric design.

Now that the team was prepared, they knew they would have to take the fight to Dracula. The next step was to determine which room he would try to set up as a Red Room at the hotels and try to set that as the very trap they would use to try and destroy the monster once and for all.

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Episode 64: Focul Viu

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November 3rd, 2018 – November 7th, 2018

As Kat DeWein, Pascal Lerue and Illari Vassyl sped away from the scene where Fort and her men had hidden out, they needed a location to flee towards. Kat had a friend outside of town, Jacob DiFlorio, who owned a winery and she knew he could put them up for at least a day or two. Meanwhile, Aiden Tobias fled with Hopkins and Matthew Southerland, knowing they had to get as far away from Rome as possible. Fortunately, Tobias also had a friend, Anna Bodi, who ran a hotel where they could all stay for a few days. However, en route outside of town, Southerland asked to make a stop, stating he had massive amounts of cash that they could grab, all stored at a safehouse.

Intriguing as this was, Tobias was suspicious as there was some concern of Southerland’s loyalty. Tobias contacted DeWein, Vassyl and Lerue and they all agreed the money was a good option, it was too risky, especially if Southerland was a double agent.

When Lerue, DeWein and Vassyl arrived at DiFlorio’s winery, they began to question, interrogate and torture Fort. They were interested in her relationship with Edom and how she knew all that she did. She explained there was a massive network of individuals who answered to Edom, whether they knew it or not but that all communication was handled through a communications expert named ‘Prince.’ They further asked why she trusted Dracula despite all the times Edom had been double crossed. She explained that whereas she may have made a bad choice, she made the best choice she could under the circumstances as she earnestly believed in the work Edom was doing with regards to the fight against radical Islam.

Further, when the question was posed about D, she admitted she had never met him but he was in Rome, likely awaiting to meet her. Similar, Hound was also nearby as things were heating up. As to the economic crisis that was increasing the grip over Europe, she stated that was not Edom’s doing but likely Dracula’s. When Illari asked her if she was concerned about the plan Dracula likely had for taking over England, Fort arrogantly declared that D promised that would not happen. There were too many safeguards to protect England’s elite. Illari called her a fool but respected her integrity. Before Kat killed her, she left with a word of advice: there were no heroes despite the choices that were being made. Before leaving for Tobias’ safehouse, they made contact with Dalia Blackfriars to get more of Sir. Wilfred Corbin’s serum. She did warn them that the looming economic crisis would likely have law enforcement agencies on high alert, worrying about not only riots but further terrorist attacks. When she was asked about Sir Reginald Hillary’s project with the Proserpine, she assured them that Sir Reginald was ready to execute the plan to raid it.

Meeting up at the hotel in Orvieto, Tobias quickly seized the cell phones and communications devices from Hopkins and Southerland. When collecting a secret phone from Southerland, he noticed this was a high-tech government issued piece of equipment. Was this something handed to him by his superiors in MI6 or somewhere else? Is this a piece that someone like D would have? The red flags were certainly raised.

It was at this point that Illari and Kat wanted to have a word with Southerland. They wanted to know about the money, the communications devices and everything he may have been holding out. He quickly revealed that his rise through MI6 was in part due to some friends of his in the CIA. This floored them as they were unaware just how deep the CIA had gotten in the community. They then learned that his handler was Sarah Hester and, of course, this meant Eloise Buckley sat at the top. Hopkins was furious with her boyfriend but things were far beyond that as everyone had bigger concerns at the moment.

Of course, the group now felt safe – or at least somewhat safe – that the money Southerland had promised was not a complete trap. They had the sense that the money was there even though it seemed that Southrland had diverted the funds from MI6 missions in the Balkans. But still, Illari wanted to mitigate the danger. So he contacted a local thug he knew, Guido Soprano, who would get the money for him, after entering the safehouse and using the security code. But when Soprano came out, there was almost too much for him to carry, with him holding numerous bags, filled with Euros. They gave Guido some of the money and sent him on his way, hopefully causing enough of a distraction to divert some of the attention away from them.

At this point the team noted that they needed help if they were to attack Castle Dracula. They got in touch with Monsignor Cesare Rinaldi and got him to meet them in a train station in Moldova. But when they got to the train station, they discovered that local law enforcement was everywhere and they had to think quickly in order to get out with the eccentric priest.

Later that night, they decided the best way to get to Dracula’s Castle, Castle Craciuna, deep in the woods, was to investigate Le Dragon Noir for any clues. Tobias, who had the most familiarity with the ancient cursed text, discovered a ritual that would light the mysterious Focul Viu, or Witch Fires, and take them along the path they needed. It was at that point that they began to hear the sounds of the baying of the wolves.

They approached the castle on horseback and fought off the dire creatures that took the form of wolves, suffering only minor injuries. But as they pressed on, they came to the castle, approaching through the shadow of the home of Dracula. It was run down, in disrepair but was the symbolic home of the monster they were hunting. Whereas they did find a secret passage into the castle, they decided to go in the more conventional way, as the passage was dangerous and treacherous.

They faced the first of many tribulations in the form of a shadow dragon, an avatar of Dracula, himself. The creature was terrifying but surprising in how relatively easy it was to dispatch. But clearly this was the first of many trials they were to face. Going below into the crypts, they were attacked by a swarm of vampires but pushed on, realizing the deranged servants of Dracula were hungry to please their master.

When they finally breached the inner crypt of Dracula, they were again swarmed by even larger groups of vampires, as well as one of Dracula’s brides, Madame St Armand. She was a brutal opponent, in control of vile magic. During the fight, the team fought valiantly, but they suffered a pair of serious tragedies. Pascael Lerue and Monsignor Rinaldi were both killed. But their lives were lost in vain. Tobias used the power in Le Dragon Noir to destroy St Armand and then they used one of the Trinity Seals to consecrate the ground of Dracula’s Castle.

Limping out of the castle, they were desperate to get back to civilization and heal. But as soon as they emerged, they were surrounded by helicopters over the horizon.

Edom had found them.

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Episode 63: In the Blood

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October 31st, 2018 – November 3rd, 2018

Still in Rome, watching over Hopkins and Sutherland, the team pondered their next move, which was, most likely, trying to take out Castle Dracula. But this would be a serious task, unsure of exactly how to progress. They felt they knew the location but were unsure of exactly how to neutralize the target. But amid all this, there were other concerns – fears of a European financial meltdown, brought about by several coordinated attacks on banks and financial institutions through the continent and the United Kingdom. Were these terrorist attacks orchestrated by Dracula? Edom? Or just vile attacks perpetrated by terrorist groups? Either way, the tension all around them was mounting.

The team was reviewing their options, including meeting with Sir. Reginald Hillary to get his assessment of the situation when Pascal Lerue and Illari Vassyl stepped out for supplies. It was then that Illari was approached by someone he thought he would never see again – Vincente Rojas. Rojas took them to a dive bar a few blocks away to explain his story. But before that, he wanted Kat DeWein and Aiden Tobias to arrive as well, as what he had to say was shocking.

Vincente reveals that he has contracted a minor form of vampirsm. He has not converted, wholly, but is in constant struggle to keep it under control. He understands if the team wants to keep him at arm’s length but still offers a great deal of aid if they will let him. He also reveals that he has been following the trial of a woman named, Fort, a Duke of Edom who is an expert vampire killer, herself, as well as an assassin who specializes in explosives and other dangerous devices. Apparently, she is in Rome hunting down Hopkins, who Edom has ordered her to assassinate. Fort is getting her information from another Edom Duke, an operative named Prince, who seems to be their computer and communications expert. The team agrees that Vincente is worth having around as they trust his sincerity and dedication to stopping Dracula.

At this point the team decides their next best option is to kidnap Fort and interrogate her. They spend the day tracking down where she and her entourage are holed up, while Kat and Pascal decide to speak with Sir Hillary.

When Kat and Pascal arrive at the Plaza di Orsini, an upscale hotel in Rome, they get into the penthouse suite where Sir Hillary is coordinating efforts as his new role as Director of Civilian Oversight for the British government. A team of aids and assistants (and bodyguards) are abuzz with the current looming financial crisis and when the team suggests to him that Edom is likely involved, he reluctantly agrees. The team then informs him of the dangerous of the Proserpine and begs him to use his influence to shut down this illegal black site operation. Sir Hillary mentions that the expanded powers he has been given were only temporary and he would likely no longer have them once the public attention was placed elsewhere. So if they were going to act, they would have to so do soon.

Sir Hillary also asked about the Corbin Serum, supplied by his associate, Sir Wifred Corbin and when they tell him they need replacements, he agrees to resupply them through an agent he will loan to them, Dalia Blackfriars. At this point, Hillary suggests it may be too dangerous for them to publicly meet often and perhaps Ms. Blackfriars would be a good intermediary.

Meanwhile, Illari and Vincente have tracked down where Fort and her agents have holed up – a construction site for a hotel that is currently on strike. It seems as if Fort’s team has an entire set-up in play and is acting as a communications hub. The team determined if they could get in, take out her associates and interrogate her, they could learn some vital information.

When the team got back together, they executed the plan, using Aiden back at the flat with Sutherland and Hopkins, to coordinate the efforts. Aiden, acting as the eyes and ears for the team, was also set to protect Hopkins and Sutherland since, Fort’s people were still looking for the pair and may have to move at a moment’s notice.

The field agents put together a tactical assault on the first floor of the construction, site, taking out their opponents quickly, with Aiden’s help. Then they used non lethal force to take out Fort, and restrained her, taking her back to a secret location, while sending out a call for her other agents to return, giving Aiden and the others a chance to escape unnoticed.

Now that they had an actual Duke of Edom under their control, what were they to do next?

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Episode 62: In Vino Veritas

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October 23rd, 2018 – October 30th, 2018

After fleeing the Swiss Alps after the destruction of Countess Dolinz, the team had to get to Rome. There they would finally meet Hopkins and then set up a pick up with Bishop Champavier, to collect a relic they needed in their fight against Dracula. They had Matthew Sutherland with them but they dropped off Adelaide LeClerque who had to make her way back to Bucharest.

They made their way to the apartment where Hopkins was hiding and were introduce to a young woman of Indian decent who said her name was Priya Ramen, explaining that she and Sutherland worked for British Intelligence as analysts. Her story was that she received the Dracula Dossier about three years ago after certain events were triggered, plans laid out by Cushing, her predecessor, that would have the document fall into her lap. It took her a year to figure it out, determine what to do with it and bring in the team. From there she had been dealing dodging Edom, sending clues to help the team and generally throwing up roadblocks to their enemies. But the time had come to reveal herself as her actions had been detected and now she was on the run. She explained that the only people who knew who she was were the team and the journalist Laurel Dene. And she had made contact with Sir Reginald Hillary, who she urged to come to Rome and get out from underneath the thumb of MI5 and Edom. She was committed to helping the team full time and seeing this whole thing through. But there was something about Southerland that made Aiden Tobias increasingly nervous. He simply could not put his finger on the specifics . . .

Hopkins did have a pleasant surprise for the team. She presented them with a weapon she had smuggled out of England, a stake-shooting crossbow that she believed may have been owned by Lucy Westenra, AKA Heartbreaker. Hopkins went on to explain that Heartbreaker was a vampire agent reluctantly working for Edom. When asked about D or Dr. Drawes, Hopkins had few other answers other than suggesting that D was one of the most slippery spy-masters in the world, capable of brokering deals with any agency he wished, as well as a group of vampires, including Dracula.

Hopkins continued that the blow the team had dealt in Switzerland was a severe one to both Edom and Dracula. Obviously, the destruction of the Countess was severe but they had also gotten rid of two top level Edom agents, Pearl and, as it turned out, Elvis.

Turning to the Trinity Seals, the team needed to have them identified as they knew some were legitimate and some were fakes. Kat DeWein had a contact who happened to be in the area, Alfonz Kampf, who was an excellent art dealer and art historian. She set up a meet with him and decided to take Pascal Lerue with her, while Aiden Tobias and Illari Vassyl went to meet with Bishop Champavier and collect the cross he promised to uncover for them.

Laying their hands on the cross from Bishop Champavier was simple. He explained that the cross was used by Ferdinand and Isabella to bless the ships that explored the New World and as a result, had some kind of symbolic significance. Further, he asked that they take great care of the item as it was fragile, bulky and precious, and was a favorite item of the Holy Father.

Meanwhile, as Kat and Pascal met with Kampf at a wine villa outside of Rome, Kampf determined that the items were old demon hunting items used by German holy men in service of the Church. He explained that when destroyed in front of an evil creature, they would destroy a servant outright but a master would only be hurt (albeit badly) by it. They were satisfied with this and knew they had a useful weapon at their disposal. However, at the conclusion of the meeting, suddenly, something attacked from the darkness. Revealing himself, Pascal and Kat were face to face with Claude Vignon, the son of Dracula whom the team had thought destroyed months earlier. But how he survived and came back to haunt them was a mystery, but not yet one they were prepared to dwell upon.

The attack was brutal and merciless, with Pascal almost being killed in one strike. Kat reluctantly used one of the Trinity Seals on the creature as she felt it was her best option, minimizing the risk of serious harm. To her surprise, it was as if the choir of angels had arrived when she destroyed it in his presence, and to make sure she was rid of the creature, she used some of Van Helsing’s stakes to end the creature’s wretched existence for good. With that, they quickly left and made their way back to Rome.

Upon arriving back at the apartment safehouse, the team examined Lerue’s wounds are were pleased to discover they were not life threatening. While Illari tended to him the rest of the group decided if they were going to have a chance of stopping some of Dracula’s geomantic power, they would need something to replicate an earthquake device and the best way to do that would be to try and get Dr. Henry Loughlin and his wife, Jo, out of the CIA blacksite where they were kept. And the blacksite was in Bucharest, under the care of Lou Mangiotti.

Aiden went to work creating some iron clad cover identities, or at least ones that would hold up over a day or two. They decided to pose as representatives from Guantanamo Bay, arriving to take the Loughlins off Mangiotti’s hands.

Arriving in Bucharest and showing their CIA credentials at the gates of the CIA offices, they got in and were able to speak to Mangiotti, who was suspicious but could do nothing as their credentials were seemingly in order. He then took them out into the country where there was a farmhouse but underneath was their blacksite operation. Upon getting in, they noticed several prisoners in cells, either CIA guests or perhaps those of Edom’s. But when Mangiotti tried to get them out, Adam Cylinski, the chief interrogator balked at the idea, turning on Mangiotti, Aiden and DeWein, showing he had far more powerful abilities than a mere human – he had clearly been flipped by Edom and was their eyes and ears on the inside.

In the ensuing fight, Cylinski showed superhuman strength, with Aiden taking the brunt of it and Mangiotti getting away with only having his nose broken. Eventually Cylinski was killed in the fight. They managed to use the chaos to bluster their way out, bluffing Mangiotti that they would overlook the situation if he didn’t detain them any further as his operation was clearly compromised.

Quickly getting out of the city and then getting out of Bucharest, they took Dr. Loughlin and his wife to the safest place they knew, the Dominican Monastery in Spain. They asked what he needed to build the earthquake device and he provided a list. They used some of the saved funds they had to spend a week moving around getting the parts and pieces, hoping they could get it back to Loughlin in time and give him enough time to construct the device.

They were about to take the fight to Dracula and his minions but first they needed to get to Castle Dracula, which, as they decided, had to be Castle Craciuna.

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Episode 61: I Hear You Like Dangerous Women

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October 17th, 2018 – October 21st, 2018

The knock at the door of the room of Illari Vassyl came as expected. But with Kat DeWein hiding in the bathroom and with Aiden Tobias and Pascal Lerue nearby there was little risk involved The team was confident they had this under control.

When Illari opened the door he was confronted with a woman who appeared ready for a late night romantic encounter, uttering the words, ‘I hear you like dangerous women.’ This was, most likely, supposed to be the trigger phrase that got Illari to fall under the hypnotic spell. He did not, thanks to Aiden’s conditioning. When she asked Illari for the Dracula Dossier, he tried to ambush her, an altercation broke out but before the team knew it, she was dead, as they used more lethal force than expected. A quick call to Mr. Trinn explained that she attacked them and her body was quietly removed. Clearly the attempt by Pearl was one they could well try again.

Mr. Trinn’s agents came for him and explained there was another death at the castle. Aiden followed to see what he could find. And he discovered that the situation was the same as a prior night. A husked body, with all air removed from the corpse. It was at this point that AIden decided to return to his room and research some of the texts they had to find any clues as to what was the cause of these mysterious deaths.

Returning to his room and conducting the research, Aiden poured over the texts and discovered the most likely danger they were dealing with was a Nenorocit, a form of undead that attacks in a spirit form. It was at this point that Aiden decided to use his latent psychic powers to see where the creature was resting, narrowing it down to the vault where the auction items had been stored and it was held in the very crate brought in by Countess Dolinz. Aiden made the risky decision to use hsi abilities to turn to mist form and try to destroy the creature by infiltrating the vault. Making his way into the vault, he then turned solid, finding where the creature was, and driving a stake through its heart. Seeing the spirits freed from this horrible monster filled him with a sense of purpose and accomplishment that helped in his mental and emotional state.

The team got some much needed rest after this but only for a couple of hours. They then went down to breakfast with Kat noticing that the castle’s staff was packing up Lord Cecil Delapole’s belongings, and putting him into a car, sending him off the premises. Kat then immediately called Sarah Hester, deciding she and her team needed to be made aware of Delapole’s sudden departure.

As the team began to settle in for the day, readying themselves for the day ahead. It was at that point that a shocking cataclysm took place: an earthquake began rumbling and the entire staff as well as the guests began to panic as they saw the mountain above them begin to crumble like a castle of sand. The sudden change of the landscape was mind-shattering and the team knew they had only moments to react and prepare for the worst.

Aiden was already in his room and Pascal was nearby. Illari and Kat made their way to their rooms to get their equipment and meet up with the others. Illari made sure to stop by and grab Matthew Sutherland and Adelaide LeClerque as he felt responsible for both of them and needed to make certain they were safe.

The earthquake led to an avalanche that hit the castle with such force that the walls did shake and cracks began to appear in the foundation. Staff and guests were in panic, the lights went out and it was the herald of the coming of Dracula. The team knew they had to move quickly or else they would be trapped at the castle and if Dracula arrived, this would be their tomb. To make matters worse, Aiden was slowly succumbing to the obsession and mental slavery to Countess Dolinz.

They made their way amid the chaos to the room of Colonel Kabeava. A dead bodyguard and a tossed room told them that Dolinz had already come. They immediately tried to find where the colonel had gone. They scoured the castle, eventually making their way to the fourth floor with a massive ballroom. It was here that they found the Countess on top of the Colonel, demanding the last of the Trinity Seals and with the Edom agents present. The team knew if they were to destroy the Countress and get the Trinity Seal, they had to act now.

The team went on the offensive, with Sutherland and LeClerque providing assistance. Most importantly, Aiden had to read Le Dragon Noir to cast the spell to destroy the Countess. The Countess quickly killed the top level Edom agents and in the confusion, the Colonel slipped away. The Countess was quickly aided by her loyal Renfield, Niles Graves as his brutally assaulted the team. Gunfire, strikes, blood and even the Spear of Longinus came into play as the team deal with a horrible onslaught from the vampire bride and her assistant. Despite the assault by Dolinz and the arcane energy she used, the team managed to buy Aiden enough time to cast the spell and destroy her. However, it was unclear if the serum provided by Sir Wilfred Corbin was aiding them or if the Countess’ powers were simply too much for them.

They then had to chase down The Colonel as they saw a helicopter fast approaching. The team suspected these were an Edom kill team, looking to evacuate the Dukes that had been killed. They caught up with the Colonel, killing him in the process, taking the Trinity Seal and escaping Schloss Karnstein. After catching their breath in the town below, they decided they need to make their way to Rome in order to meet up with Hopkins and see what she had to provide.

They felt they were closing in on their ultimate goal and could almost taste it . . .

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Episode 60: Thy Will Be Done

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October 17th, 2018 – October 19th, 2018

The mysterious death of one of the guests at Schloss Karnstein was quickly covered up as a simple heart attack by the fastidious Mr. Trinn. He did not want the guests alarmed at the unusual tragedy. However, Illari Vassyl was able to slip into the room and conduct a brief diagnosis first. He discovered that the victim had died from a lack of air; so deeply, in fact, that it was as he had been thrust into a vacuum seal and had everything removed, turning him into a grotesque husk. The connection that Illari made was this was a similar attack as the legendary incubus which, under the circumstances, could have been a vampire all along, conflating the legends.

He immediately returned to Matthew Sutherland, Hopkins’ boyfriend and GCHQ analyst, telling him to find what he could on Mr. Trinn as well as Colonel Kabeava. Then he went off to find Kat DeWein and Aiden Tobias.

Meanwhile Kat had found Aiden who was not in good shape after his strange night with Countess Dolinz. He was hungover and on the verge of committing suicide over the attack from the countess, perhaps bringing him closer to the shackles of undeath. But his stomach sank when he realized that he had possession of the group’s most important assets. He raced to see where they were because if they had been taken, they were doomed. he was relieved to find they were still safe. But how did the seduction of the Countess not compromise them?

Then it came to him: prior to the Countess seducing him with her magic and her bite, he had buried many important thoughts deep in his subconscious. He had saved the team with his psychic powers. When Kat entered the scene, she was immediately made aware of the situation by merely looking at him and his neck, with the horrible gash made from the vampire.

Pascal Lerue and Illari arrived and they all had to decide on a course of action. First, it was determined that Aiden having all the assets was far too dangerous. They immediately split the items up and had a few items in each person’s possession. Next, they had to see what could be done about Aiden. Fortunately, he was not turning into a vampire or a Renfield. At least, not yet. The bad news, however, was that he would be developing an addition to her blood. The only way to break the addiction would be to destroy her. This trip to the Alps would be far more dangerous than first suspected.

They split up, leaving Aiden to recover as the rest of them needed to prepare for the first auction scheduled for the night. Kat attempted to look for Lord Cecil Delapole but could not find him. Of course, she could also not locate Countess Dolinz or her manservant, Niles Graves. It was likely they were all somewhere together. Of course, Aiden took the opportunity to use his power of turning into mist to see if this was something he could control or make more use out of.

As Illari began moving through the hotel, he encountered Raj Devi, the individual suspected to be the Duke, Pearl. They had a brief conversation but something happened. Either Pearl used some kind of hypnotic trick that scrambled Illari’s mind or some kind of magic that did the same. Either way, when Illari came around, he found himself in the hotel lounge. he immediately then realized the implications of Pearl’s trick and decided to seek out Adelaide LeClerque to ensure she was safe. But first he wanted to see what had happened to him.

He sought out Aiden and asked him to make use of his psychic gifts to see if Pearl had done anything. With Kat and Pascal assisting, Aiden uncovered what had happened. Pearl had managed to embed a hypnotic suggestion to Illari that would happen later that night. When the correct word was dropped, he would comply with the instructions. Aiden cancelled this order and they would deal with the issue later. Upon concluding the psychic test, he sought out LeClerque.

Upon finding her, he took her out for a walk on the resort’s grounds. He filled her in on the danger she was in, including some of the figures that were present and stated that things were far worse than he initially suspected as Dolinz or her agents were likely murdering people. Then he turned the conversation towards the auction. He asked her what she was buying or selling. Reluctantly, LeClerque explained that ever since the events from a few weeks when the agents of Dracula had come to Prauge, she was virtually bankrupt and needed capital to rebuild her empire. It was then that she revealed what she was selling that made Illari’s heart skip a beat: She was selling a dirty bomb. The bomb was not present but she was going to turn it over to some interested buyer. And since all of the individuals present were reprehensible individuals, this was bad, bad news, indeed.

That evening Illari and Kat attended the auction while Aiden and Pascal stayed in Aiden’s room to see what they could do about his condition. Of course, prior to splitting up, they all took some of Sir Wilfred Corbin’s serum in order to protect them from what they expected would be an altercation with one or more vampires.

Many of the items at the first night’s auction were of interest but none that were so pressing that they agents bid. They saw the following items:

  • Blood of Osama bin Laden
  • Lost artwork from ancient masters that were lost during the Nazi invasion
  • A copy of Le Dragon Noir (which they suspected to be a forgery)
  • Blood stained clothing of John F. Kennedy
  • Several sprigs of Vanderpool Garlic

After the auction, many of the participants retired for some high stakes poker in the lounge. Kat decided to get involved with this as well, but she played a long con on them, losing to them the first night in an effort to lull them into a false sense of security the subsequent evening. This was assisted by Countess Dolinz who noticed what Kat was doing and seemed to play along, seemingly enjoying the idea of someone pulling one over on the high rollers present.

For as enjoyable as the feeling was, the team knew that the following day would likely be anything but enjoyable . . .

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Episode 59: Ms Hopkins, I Presume

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October 15th, 2018 – October 16th, 2018

Staring down Helen Pierre-Rocher, alias Countess Dolinz, was quite a shock. But fortunately the team was confident that she had not made them. At least not yet anyway. After all the only encounter they had yet had with her was close to a year ago, at a distance, and several of those team members were dead or missing. So despite their hearts skipping a beat, they felt they had time. But her presence at Schloss Karnstein was a bad omen, indeed.

They were quickly saved by the appearance of Mr. Trinn, the overseer of the auction. Mr. Trinn, likely elbows deep in a variety of criminal enterprises, likely had known several of these individuals for some time, facilitating the purchase and sale of illicit, black market goods. But as new individuals came into the lounge, he casually commented to the team who they were. He explained to Illari Vassyl, Aiden Tobias and Pascal Lerue, who each individual was, without breaking any confidential relationships. (Kat DeWein, unfortunately, had taken ill with a bout of the stomach flu and was confined to her room.)

As the rest of the guests arrived, the team saw a variety of mysterious and unusual characters, but a few of the individuals that came through the doors were individuals whom they had actually previously encountered. Among the individuals who appeared were:

Helen Pierre-Rocher and her bodyguard, Niles Graves
Lord Cecil Delapole
Count Norcross, a young aristocrat
Karl Bonnaire, the nefarious assassin attached with Bichi National Bank
Norbert Westerly, an MI6 operative attached with the nefarious Circus
Adelaide LeClerque, criminal boss from Prague, but who owed the team a favor
Paul Brookstone an investment banker and his associate, Raj Devi
Colonel Kabeava, the mysterious seller of Russian artifacts

Naturally, there were others who had arrived but they remained mostly out of sight and did not bring themselves to the lounge.

As Illari and Aiden made through way through the lounge, encountering as many of the criminals and criminally-leaning individuals as they could, Illari managed to have a brief conversation with Countess Dolinz/Helen Pierre-Rocher, where something he said, could have gotten her attention in a negative way. He was unsure whether she made him as a foe or if she just seemed on edge. Both Illari and Aiden took time to use their excellent backgrounds in espionage and secrecy to observe some of their potential enemies.

Aiden made a point to focus on Raj Devi, the associate of Mr. Brookstone. What he discovered is that Raj carried himself as a thief, someone scoping out every corner of the room as well as casing the others. More than a thief, Aiden determined, Raj was an exceptional thief. This caused Aiden to make the connection that perhaps this was more than an exception thief, but perhaps was the legendary Pearl, Duke of Edom. He certainly fit the profile that they had assembled on him. But what did that mean for Brookstone? Was he another Duke? Osprey? Oakes? Elvis?

Meanwhile, Illari spent his time watching Count Norcross and was able to notice a number of things about him. First, whereas he seemed to come from ‘good breeding,’ the man was no aristocrat. He was a fraud and barely able to keep it together, committing several faux pas. Illari decided that this weakness was something he would exploit and pulled the man aside, and out onto the deck for a nice view of the mountains, as well as a smoke. Using his expert interrogation skills and his powers of perception, he quickly discovered that Norcross was a member of the intelligence community, but was an analyst with GCHQ. He confessed that he came to the Schloss, looking for the Trinity Seals in what was, apparently, an ill-advised mission. But the person he worked with, another GCHQ analyst whom he was sweet on, was helping him even though she did not want him coming. Even though he was a fraud, he seemed aware of the implications of Dracula as well as his curse throughout Europe. But it was unclear exactly who Count Norcross was working with and whether or not he was, as he said, on the side of angles.

Their conversation was interrupted as Countess Dolinz and Lord Delapole made their way onto the expansive deck, flashing a glance back at Illari. Was she up to something? Did she know about his activities? The Countess was certainly getting into his mind.

But he continued to press Norcross, hoping for answers. Eventually Norcross broke down and put him it contact with his associate, the woman, via text. It was clear that the woman knew a lot about what was going on and eventually put Illari to a test, with the code cypher being tied to the Dracula Dossier itself. At first Illari suspected he was dealing with Hound, one of the Dukes, but then he realized who he was really dealing with – Hopkins! This was the most Hopkins had revealed until now, with all of them assuming Hopkins was likely an older man. But now they discovered, if what was being said was true, Hopkins was a younger woman. Under the circumstances, this necessitated a deeper conversation so the team went back to their rooms to have a more extended conversation, still via text.

Upon returning to the rooms, Aiden noticed that there were magnetic locks associated with the doors, meaning that someone could instantly seal everyone in their rooms (or out of them) if need be. While this was disturbing, it was something Aiden examined while the team communicated with Hopkins.

Hopkins revealed that Count Norcross, (whose real name was Matthew Sutherland) was a guy she worked with and he was kind of a boyfriend, kind of not (it was complicated but he was much sweeter on her than she on him, but she did feel responsible for him). He had this wild idea to come to this clandestine meeting in Switzerland, posing as an English Count. Knowing she could not stop him, she set him up as best as she could with fake papers and a large electronic bank account. When Hopkins discovered that the team was after the same thing she was, she agreed they should obviously work together on this. As long as they kept Sutherland safe, she would let them use the money she had set aside from him in the auction.

She went on to explain that things were getting hotter back in England. People were not only looking for them but the heat was getting to her, as well, and there were people in GCHQ that were loyal to Edom, Dracula or both. She would only have a few more days left before she was burned and would have to go on the run. (At this point, Illari began setting up an escape route for her, paving a way to the Vatican, using his contacts with Society of St Lazarus of Bethany.)

During the conversation, Hopkins again reiterated the danger that was all round and the noose that was tightening. But she had made friends and allies in various places in the past year. Edom was, in all likelihood, whether they knew it or not, completely under control of Dracula and were merely extensions of him at this point.

But Hopkins had other important details to share.

First, she had done enough research on the Trinity Seals in the past few months that she was able to clearly identify which ones were real and which one was a fraud. However, she suspect that due to the actors all roaming around Schloss Karnstein, all likely looking for the final one, this was likely a real one. She would have to identify them in person, though. This was something she was willing to do once she was able to meet the rest of the team in the next few weeks.

She also revealed that there was a way to perhaps get an ‘earthquake machine’ as well as someone who could control it. Unfortunately, the person was Dr. Henry Loughlin, who had been picked up by MI5 and Edom about a year ago and was currently sitting in a CIA black site location outside of Bucharest, likely under the control of Lou Mangiotti and Adam Cylinski. In order for a machine to work, they would have to raid the CIA’s secret location and escape with Loghlin, and his wife, Jo Loughlin. Not an easy task but the rewards would reap dividends.

Finally, she had some interesting news on the phrase ‘The Dead Travel Fast,’ which held greater implications than first suspected. It seemed to be a phrase used, translated from Russian, by the Czar’s secret police, KGB and now the FSB and other agents within Russia. The implications were that it seemed to be part of a Russian secret code rooted in mysticism. However, the greater implications seemed to be that there was a connection to vampirism, but that was something the team would have to investigate further.

The session ended with Hopkins begging them to keep Sutherland safe and no matter what happened, to make sure they kept him with them as he was in way, way over his head.

The team put Norcross AKA Southerland, in his hotel room and ensured he stayed there while they went back to the common rooms to see what they could uncover. Many were playing high stakes poker which attracted Lerue to keep an eye on them, while Aiden and Illari approached the Countess as well as LeClerque, who were enjoying drinks in the bar. Illari separated LeClerque from the scene to bring her in one what was going on, warning her that she was again associating with vampires. Further he wanted her help in putting up a block against the other forces at Schloss Karnstein. However, while he had LeClerque away, the Countess made her move on Aiden.

Something about Aiden, possibly his pyschic energy, attracted her like a moth to flame. Without Lerue or Illari around, she was able to detect his energy and seduce him, spiriting him back to her room and making unholy love to him while taking him to her window and flying into the cold night’s sky before biting him and taking his energy. He was in a daze but sensed that she was casting some kind of spell on the castle below.

In the morning he awoke in his own room but sensed weakness in his body and soul, unsure whether to keep this from his associates. But the entire castle was abuzz with the sudden death of one of the individuals in the castle, a buyer who had been sucked dry, all the air forcibly pulled from his lungs and his body almost collapsed from the inside out.

Whatever the Countess was planning, it had only just begun!

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Episode 58: The Delapole Affair

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October 6th, 2018 – October 14th, 2018

Prior to leaving Marseilles, Aiden Tobias continued his research into Le Dragon Noir. There were still secrets to be found and he was hellbent on uncovering them. For the team knew this was a powerful weapon in their fight against Dracula. But the book continued to take a toll on his sanity and mental well-being. But as fate would have it, luck was on his side and his educational background paid off in the form of unlocking the special ritual that the book contained. Now they had access to some kind of geological magic that could counter not only vampires but Dracula, himself. Further, references were made to a Vordenburg Diary, another item that may have some aid within.

However, the delay could not take up too much of their precious time as Pascal Lerue reminded them. They had to quickly move to Montreux, Switzerland and act upon the information provided to them by Odessa a few days prior. An auction, of sorts, was being conducted where the mysterious Colonel Kabeava would be unloading the last of the Trinity Seals. So the team quickly made their way to Montreux which was hosting an annual beer and wine festival.

Upon arriving in Monterux, the team followed the instructions Odessa had given them. They were to check in to a specific hotel, using the covers they had established linking them to Henri Valant, and speak to the manager about having specific flowers sent up to their rooms. The manager would then make arrangements to have a car come for them in a couple of days, taking them up the mountain to Schloss Karnstein. It was there they would stay for a few days as the auction was underway. They would get the opportunity to make whatever deals they could conduct with the mysterious Colonel.

Not content with sitting through the next day or two, the team decided to scope the area. Naturally, various intelligence agencies likely had some kind of a presence here, especially if such dangerous and notorious figures would be present to conduct illicit transactions. But the team wanted to know specifics and who they were dealing with. As a result, Aiden and Kat DeWein posed as husband and wife, moving through the festival with Illari Vassyl trailing behind them, seeing if they could spot agents or danger. Lerue stayed in the room, coordinating further efforts.

During their exploration, they noticed some suspicious activity, including an Axel Logistics truck that was in the area. However, any investigation was cut short when Illari was approached by a mysterious agent who led him, by knife-point, behind a beer tent and into the back of a truck where he came face to face with Sarah Hester of the CIA as well as some of her operatives. It was clear she wanted to talk and was willing to use force to set up the conversation.

They discussed tangential matters through an icy conversation but it did not take long for Aiden and Kat to double beck, detect the ruse Hester had set up and gain access to the truck. It was then that the reason for Hester’s involvement became much more clear.

She wanted to know what they had been doing in London, chiefly their reason and involvement with Luther von Heiss and the theft of his Spear of Longinus. Obviously, this caused agent Tyler Gold, who was present, a great deal of embarrassment. Hester revealed that things in the CIA London office had become stressed as the events surrounding that had led to COS Eloise Buckley becoming for less trustworthy and paranoid about her agents. Through the conversation, the team could tell that Hester was on the outside, looking in, trying to get back into Buckley’s good graces. What they could not determine with any sense of accuracy was whether Buckley was shoving Hester out due to Buckley having something to hide from her agents or Hester being truly untrustworthy and potentially working for Edom or other sinister forces. The shadowy politics of the CIA was showing its ugly side.

However, Hester did suggest that she had the potential to be friendly with the agents and felt that they, as a group, could work together. DeWein was, it seemed, skeptical of the partnership, recalling many of the somewhat rambling and obsessive notes taken by the late Cal Morrison in the past year. Whereas Hester and DeWein did not seem to hit it off well, Hester did, at least, explain herself.

Hester stated that she ran the best CIA operations in Europe and as a result, had agents everywhere and had access to resources, often at short notice. Illari confirmed this by telling the team how he had gotten them out of a tight spot some months ago by evacuating them from the top of a Cathedral in Amsterdam. In return, they would fill her in on some of their operations, especially how it related to the Dracula Dossier and the activities they were undertaking, in addition to dealing with projects that came up she needed doing.

Specifically, one particular operation that was needed was surveillance on one Lord Cecil Delapole. Delapole would be attending the same auction they were attending at Schloss Karnstein. As his jacket explained, Delapole had his own unusual past.

In 1997, while attending a church ceremony, Delapole attacked Princess Diana, near fatally. It took several bodyguards to fend him off and restrain him. He was, of course, exiled and the entire affair covered up. Nevertheless, Diana was dead several months later. Subsequent to his exile, Lord Delapole went to France and set up a successful vineyard. The ensuring investigation from MI5 and the CIA suggested that there was a ‘mysterious foreign woman’ he had been spending time with prior to the incident. The woman, later identified as ‘Helen Pierre-Rocher’ was unable to be found, even with the many ties of the agencies involved. But the one unusual thing found was a note on Delapole’s person after the attack that read ‘He will not let this go’ and no explanation was ever provided as Delapole had no knowledge of the note.

Agreeing to help Hester, at least on a conditional basis, the team went back to the hotel where the manager stated the car would be arriving for them shortly. The car arrived and took them up the mountain to Schloss Karnstein where they were assigned their rooms. However, at the cocktail hour where they were be introduced to some of the other individuals at the auction, they were shocked to find one of the guests, a Helen Pierre-Rocher who was, in reality, someone they recognized – Countess Margo Dolinz, a bride of Dracula!

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