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Offline Jabbathejack

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"Ampetrion is a day walker?" Staunton frowned; if it were anyone else speaking, he might have accused them of being either a liar or grossly incompetant.

"If that is true, then that explains a lot." He muttered, talking half to himself, his frown deepening by the second. The older vampire had quite often appeared to be one step ahead of him and this could be why.

Staunton shook his head, as if to clear his mind, breaking into a smile.
"I would not ask you to kill. I will handle that side of things, along with my son. All I'm asking for is information. Surely you must have planned a meeting point with him, ready for when you located your bride to be?"

He glanced at Valaria, smiling before he turned back to the two werewolves.
"Point me in the right direction and I will do the rest. Even if we fail, he will never know of your part in all of this. He will simply assume that you did not find what you were looking for."


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria started, the revelation that Ampetrion was a daywalker as much news to her as it was to Staunton.  She had never witnessed him leave his manor during the day, preferring to conduct his business under the cover of night.  Then again, the time she had actually spent in Ampetrion’s company had been limited.  It was certainly possible that he could be out in sunlight, but that she had never witnessed it. 

It seemed to make some sense to Staunton as well, no matter how impossible it seemed.  She listened as Staunton elaborated further on what he needed from the werewolves, asked them where they might have met up with Ampetrion after finding her.

Oscar scratched at the back of his neck. “There is an abandoned cabin outside of the city.  He refused to come into Lourdes himself, but he told us to meet him there if we found her here.  Two miles to the southwest on the edge of an old orchard.”


Offline Jabbathejack

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"Excellent." Staunton smiled, pleased that he was finally getting a chance to strike back at Ampetrion for everything he had put him through.

"Once my son returns, then I will plan my actions." His smile broadened, looking as if they were discussing nothing more important than a picnic in the meadows. "But of course, you don't need to hear about that."

"Thank you for your assistance. You are welcome to stay here if you wish. I can have rooms available for you, before you go on your way. Remember, I will be in your debt."

Should he survive. Yet of course, that wasn't going to be an issue if he didn't. His smile still in place, Staunton stood and extended his hand to each werewolf in turn, sealing their accord.

They did not have long to wait. Staunton had barely summoned one of his servants to show them to the guest rooms when the door was opened and Malachi entered, heading immediately over to his father. The younger vampire glanced at the strangers, frowning.

"My lord." He spoke in French, seeing Valaria there. "Is there a problem?"
« Last Edit: August 04, 2020, 03:41:03 PM by Jabbathejack »


Offline Firesblood

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Oscar nodded in satisfaction at Staunton’s claim.  He had his doubts about whether Ampetrion could be killed, but that was not their problem.  Their problem now was returning home, informing the Alpha of what had transpired, and moving on from this whole messy business they had found themselves in.  Alfred wouldn’t be happy, he suspected, but there was little to be done about it. 

Upon the offer of lodging for the night, Oscar allowed himself a small, tight smile.  “You are most gracious to offer us your hospitality, sir, thank you.  However, Celyn and I have a small camp just outside the city, and it will do for us before our departure tomorrow.”  Allies or not, debts owed or not, Oscar didn’t relish spending the night in Staunton’s home, or spending any more time than necessary in his company—though he had not expressed it so blatantly as Celyn, the elder werewolf didn’t care for bloodsuckers either. 

Nudging his nephew, Oscar rose, bowing his head to Staunton respectfully.  He was about to open his mouth to say their goodbyes when another vampire entered the room.  He assumed that this was the son that Staunton had mentioned.  As the younger spoke to his father in French, Oscar decided now was as good a time as any.

“Again, thank you for your hospitality, but we’ve taken enough of your time.  We wish you good fortune in your endeavors.”  He looked at Valaria.  “Miss Valaria, it was a pleasure to meet you.  We wish that it could have been under better circumstances.”

Valaria rose as well, eyes shifting briefly between Staunton and Malachi.  “Shall I see them out, my lord?”


Offline Jabbathejack

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Malachi blinked in surprise. English speakers? He remained silent, waiting patiently by his father's side as he said his goodbyes, allowing Valaria to escort them out. When the strangers had left the room, Malachi turned to his father.

"Visitors?"
"Werewolves." Staunton smiled at the look of surprise that registered on Malachi's face. "They could prove to be important allies."

"They've brought me some worrying news." Staunton grimaced, fixing his pale blue eyes on Malachi. "Ampetrion is close by. Only a few miles away, even. He knows exactly where we are."

Malachi grimaced, muttering a curse.
"Have you a plan, father?"
Staunton nodded.
"My instinct is to strike out at him immediately, when he's not expecting us, but I cannot allow my anger to drive me to make a mistake, not while we are so weak. Instead, I'd like you to escort Valaria away from here, I would imagine that she would prefer to avoid Ampetrion, especially if he strikes at us."

***

Celyn followed Valaria to the door, smiling, although the expression was tinged with sadness.
"I'm glad to have met you, finally, after so long. I just wish that the circumstances had been better."

"I hope that you will think of me as a friend. If you ever need anything, you have only to ask."


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria saw the two werewolves out, pausing when Celyn spoke to her.  He still seemed disappointed, and a part of her found it endearing.  His words about being glad to meet her, that he hoped she would think of him as a friend made her smile with real genuine warmth for the first time. 

“You seem like a decent fellow, Celyn,” She replied, pausing so that Oscar could translate for him.  “I wish the circumstances had been different as well.  You will make some woman very happy one day.”

She reached out and offered her hand.  “Perhaps when my English is better, I will write you.  And likewise, if there is anything you need from me, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”

Looking between the two men, she inclined her head slightly.  “I wish you both safe travels and good fortune in the future.”

After having seen the two off, Valaria returned back to where she had left Staunton and Malachi, knocking softly on the outside of the door to announce her arrival.  “They have gone, my Lord.”


Offline Jabbathejack

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Staunton nodded as Valaria returned.
"Come in."

"We don't have long." He smiled grimly. "Our new friends brought us some worrying news. If he is near, then I will expect him to attack, especially if he suspects that you are here as well."

He paused for a moment, looking as if he were choosing his words before he spoke.
"I would suggest, as a precaution, that you leave now with Malachi. I would imagine that you would not want to be here if he does attack. We will then be able to regroup once we're in a better position."

He looked over at the young woman.
"Does that sound reasonable?"


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria entered when Staunton gave the word.  His tone was enough for her to understand the graveness of the situation.  Ampetrion’s presence nearby was no news to her; she had already been told as much by the two werewolves prior to their meeting in the citadel, and she had overheard as much when they were sat at the table. 

He was correct, in that she wanted to be nowhere near a place where Ampetrion could be squatting, waiting to attack or infiltrate—whatever it was he chose to do, and Valaria had no illusions about him simply giving up the fight.  If she was here, he wouldn’t let it go. 

For this reason, Valaria made no protest when Staunton suggested that Malachi take her elsewhere.  She thought to ask what he would do, if he needed Malachi by his side; Ampetrion was crafty, after all, but she recognized that Staunton had a great deal more experience with his enemy than she did. 

“It sounds reasonable, yes,” she agreed.  She thought to ask about Roe, at the very least if there was time to say goodbye, but she was all too aware of the fact that the poor man had just gone to bed and needed his rest.  She would simply have to speak with him later.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Malachi nodded, his expression matching Staunton's.
"We'll meet up later on, father." He turned to Valaria. "Get your things together. I'll get the horses ready."

With a nod towards his father, he turned and headed out to the stables without a backwards glance. He knew that he did not need to tell Valaria to only carry essentials at a vital time like this. Moving quickly, he saddled both his horse and Valaria's, checking everything was correct before he led them out of the stable.

He climbed into the saddle when Valaria came to join him, handing her the reins.
"We have to get going. We have no idea when he might realise his werewolf allies have turned against him."

Putting his heels to his horse's flanks, Malachi turned his head to the road and headed out at a gallop.


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria wasted no time.  She returned to her room and gathered the spare change of clothing that she had into a bag.  It was all that she had to her name; she had lost what little she had brought with her over the course of the journey to Lourdes.  Even the blade she had carried was gone, taken at the front gates when Malachi first lured her here. 

She didn’t pause to reflect on this.  With the sack stowed over her shoulder, she walked quickly to the stables and met Malachi there, nodding in answer when he spoke to her.  She could find no disagreement.  Shoving the small sack into one of the saddlebags, Valaria climbed astride the horse he had prepared for her and urged the beast on after Malachi. 

She glanced over her shoulder at the receding citadel, her doubts about leaving Staunton to fend for himself against Ampetrion at the forefront of her mind, but neither Staunton nor Malachi seemed to be concerned by it.  She said nothing of her worries, merely followed closely at a gallop as he led the way out of Lourdes and onto the road towards safety.


Offline Jabbathejack

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They rode hard, moving off the roads and into the fields and forests. Malachi was hoping that they'd cover a decent amount of distance before he was forced to rest during the day. They mostly rode in silence, travelling too fast to think about conversation, yet he had a number of questions about the werewolves who had visited them earlier.

Slackening their pace a little to rest his horse, Malachi looked over his shoulder to Valaria, making sure she was still close by. Malachi frowned; was that someone behind them? Sure enough, he could see three horsemen behind them, weaving through the trees. Muttering a curse, he spurred his horse on, only to pull him up sharply.

Ahead of them, more riders appeared, spread out over the trail. Soldiers, their steel ready. Malachi heard a snippit of orders barked and he realised with a start that these men were Spaniards. The Inquisition had found them.

Malachi drew his sword, throwing a glance towards Valaria.
"Run. I'll hold them off, like before."

Malachi turned away, not even waiting for a response before he spurred his horse forwards and attacked. He could tell immediately that these were well trained men, hardened veterans. They surrounded him, striking out with vicious jabs. His horse reared up and Malachi cut down at an opponent, aiming for the man's throat just beneath his helmet where the armour was often weak, yet before the blow could land, one of the others had speared his horse through the chest with his lance and the animal fell with a scream of pain.


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria looked behind her when Malachi’s expression changed, seeing the horsemen running them down.  She recognized the language immediately and felt her fear spike.  Her companion demanded that she run, and after the last time she had found herself in captivity, she couldn’t find it in herself to argue; Malachi was far more capable than she at fending off attack, and having her there to worry about would be one more thing against them.

With a quick nod, Valaria turned her horse away from the men coming at them from ahead and took off into the woods instead.  She heard at least two leave the road as well to follow her, which meant that the rest had stayed behind to take on Malachi.  Her horse could only travel so quickly in the rough, and she was painfully aware of deadfall and hidden holes in the ground that could snap the beasts’ leg; one misplaced step and her run was over. 


Offline Jabbathejack

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As his horse pitched down beneath him, Malachi was thrown from the saddle. He tucked his head under as he landed, rolling to lessen the impact and was back on his feet, sword in hand. He did not look behind as he faced their enemies, hoping that Valaria had been able to escape.

The riders surrounded him, stabbing down at him from above. Malachi managed to deflect a fair few blows here and there; one of the riders was too careless and Malachi lunged forwards, spearing him in the gap beneath his helm. Yet even as he brought one down, another cut him across the shoulders with a blow that would have killed a human.

It was clear that these men knew what they were up against. They did not just leave it with the crippling blow that would have toppled a human, they hacked again at him, sharp steel cutting through flesh and bone. Still, Malachi fought, snarling in pain whenever they managed to cut him successfully.

A well aimed cut to his left leg brought him to his knees with a cry and they pinned him on the ground before he had a chance to heal the wound. They carried heavy chains, too thick for him to break easily. The leader of the soldiers speared Malachi through his back, through flesh and shattering bone, pinning him until they had his wrists chained behind his back securely.

"Get up." His captor snarled in Spanish, planting a kick to his ribs to emphasise his order. Silently, Malachi staggered to his feet, his spine still not properly set.


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria pushed her horse hard, hearing her pursuers growing ever closer.  Panic boiled in her chest and made it difficult to breathe, and her vision blurred with tears and made it difficult to see.  She thought she had heard the distant sound of a horse screaming, but she couldn’t trust that it wasn’t her imagination. 

Arrows shot past her to either side, lodging themselves into trees or disappearing ahead of her to land elsewhere.  They were shooting at her.  Valaria altered her course in a turn, trying to throw them off, but an arrow finally found its target, imbedding itself deep into her horse’s flank.  The beast screamed and rose on its hind legs, throwing her off its back.  Valaria landed flat on her back, hard enough to knock the breath from her lungs. 

She was still gasping and struggling for breath when they closed in on her and wrenched her from the ground and onto her feet, swearing at her in Spanish.  When she struggled, the one to her left hit her so hard that it dazed her and made her stumble.  Her cheek immediately began to bruise and swell.

“Keep it up,” he warned. “The Don wants you alive, but he said nothing about you being brought to him whole.”

Valaria spat in his face, earning herself a punch to her stomach that nearly knocked the wind from her again.  While the one held her still, the other bound her at the wrists and ankles.  Once that was finished, they threw her over one of the horses and went back the way they had come. 


Offline Jabbathejack

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Malachi scowled as the guards returned with Valaria slung over the saddle; his hopes that she had managed to escape dashed. He could smell her blood, but fortunately, not too much of it for her to have been hurt badly.

"Move." A guard jabbed at him with the point of his sword and Malachi stumbled forwards.

They were taken through to the forest, marching steeply up the side of a hill. Malachi found it hard to keep his footing at times in the thick mud, especially with his hands still shackled tightly behind his back. Fortunately, he had managed to heal the majority of the damage to his body on the journey.

They were travelling for around an hour before they reached a large house, a chateau nestled in the woods, with gardens that, at any other time, would seem quite pleasant. They stopped outside and Valaria was taken from the horse. Malachi struggled, but their captors were brutal; their commander barely paused before he brought his lance down, spearing him between his shoulder blades with enough force to bring Malachi to his knees.

***

"Lady Valaria." Don Alejandro emerged from the doorway of the chateau, smiling down at them both. "A pleasure to see you once more."

The Spaniard eyed Malachi, raising his eyebrow as he turned back to the young woman.
"Again, with such... interesting companions."

As before, he spoke as if they were experiencing a chance meeting at a high society function, not as the victims of a capture that he had orchestrated directly.

"See to it." Don Alejandro gave a dismissive flick of his fingers and the guards forced Malachi to his feet and inside the chateau. Three guards remained, one on either side of Valaria and another standing just behind.

"Come in, please." Don Alejandro smiled warmly, gesturing for the door. He might have appeared to be completely at ease, but the guards remained cold and stone faced, poised to react should she be foolish enough to try anything.

He showed her into a small study, pleasantly decorated. Unlike the previous farmhouse, stolen with its inhabitants slaughtered, this chateau seemed to fit with Don Alejandro somehow, even down to the portrait of the rather stern looking man that hung on the wall.

"Please, sit down." This time, he did not have her tied to the chair, yet the guards remained close by. Don Alejandro moved to a glass decanter and poured two glasses of brandy and he held one out to her.

"Your health, my lady."