A Hundred Towers? / Stověžatá?

Session 21st February 2016
There And Back Again

After the successful hit on a drugs transport Josef and Kateřina are hiding in old tunnels below the Petřín hill. Or, better said, Josef is hiding there as Kateřina is unconscious because of her wounds and blood loss. Josef tries to examine her but neither is he versed in general medicine nor does he know a lot about a Red Court vampire’s anatomy, so he fails. The ghoul had destroyed Kateřina’s Flesh Mask and Josef is somewhat terrified and repelled by what he can see now – his beloved Kateřina in her true batform. Nevertheless he decides to help her and wants to leave the tunnel and go to the nearby hospital for at least some blood bags. His plans, however, are thwarted by the fact that he is unable to locate the exit. This is more than weird because he can remember himself having carried Kateřina through the tunnel for a few dozens of meters, at maximum. But the corridor seems to wind and fork and the exit is nowhere to be found. Even more curious is that the way back to where Kateřina is lying is always very short and without any junctions. The same counts for Josef’s attempts to go deeper into the hill. Moreover, his werewolf senses detect strange smells – blood, gore, intestines, and these are not Kateřina’s.

Puzzled by that and worried by Kateřina’s worsening condition he decides to help her by feeding her his own blood. As she is unconscious and helpless he cuts himself with a knife, takes Kateřina in his arms and spills some of his blood into her gaping maw. In that moment something about the overall atmosphere changes. The scent of gore intensifies and Josef’s phone, the only source of light dies. Soon, Josef can feel the malicious presence of the other being and is overcome by fear (Incite Fear used as a block). After that the creature attacks him. The combat is tough as Josef can hardly move and doesn’t see anything but in the end he manages to prevail and kill the creature. All he can find after that is just a disgusting pile of warm throbbing intestines (inspiration taken here – I’m planning on using a similar creature, Ma Cà Rồng, more often, namely in connection with the Vietnamese immigrants in Prague as it is a part of the Vietnamese folklore).

With the creature (and also his phone) dead Josef tries to explore the dungeon in his wolf form. The situation changes in that respect that he can go further into the hill and even find an “exit” there. It’s just a simple metal door and when Josef opens it, to his astonishment, he can see a completely unknown landscape lit by moonlight. This doesn’t look like Prague! After a few futile attempts to find the way back to his home city Josef decides to take Kateřina to the exit and explore a little bit more. He soon finds out that the landscape doesn’t seem quite right – it’s too peaceful, too devoid of any sign of human activity, the full moon doesn’t move, etc. In the moonlight he is again able to check on Kateřina’s condition and the result isn’t very optimistic – she is covered in wounds, slowly bleeding thick dark blood, breathing shallowly. Josef takes he to a nearby stream, washes her and binds her wounds and decides to feed her a little blood again. This constant feeding happens partly off-screen but it has the profound effect of interfering with Josef’s Supernatural Recovery in all subsequent scenes – he is constantly having a Mild Physical Consequence.

The way back is closed. Josef is unable to navigate through the tunnels back to Prague. On the other hand, the way forward is opening as Josef finds out that where there was only an open landscape, now is a path. As Kateřina is too heavy to be carried Josef decides to put together a very simple sledge, put Kateřina and the two suitcases with cocaine on it and pull it along the way in his wolf form. After several hours of such travelling and occasional feeding her whenever she starts deteriorating visibly Josef can see a huge cemetery that, curiously, the road traverses. There are lots of headstones and crosses and ghostlike creatures are roaming the premises. Josef considers bypassing the cemetery somehow but its wall stretches from one horizon to the other. The road Josef is going leads to a massive gate and further into the cemetery.

Josef decides to enter the cemetery by himself and, in fact, nothing happens. The translucent ghosts don’t react in any way. Everything changes whe he take the sledge with Kateřina through the gate. All ghosts begin to be restless and move in an erratic way towards her although they don’t seem to see her. The situation is tense and Kateřina starts bleeding again. Josef decides to cross the cemetery as fast as possible but as he is traversing it with the sledge in his wake he spots three ghosts approaching from the opposite direction. All of them seem to have been injured in some way and one of them – a girl – is familiar to Josef. She’s the girl who was murdered in Josef’s club some time ago when Kateřina was also present. These three ghosts can apparently see both Josef and Kateřina clearly. Josef tries to approach them and ask them why they are blocking their way but the only repetitive answer he’s getting is: “She has killed us. Give her to us.”

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Session 30th January 2016

The PCs leave the National Theatre and Libor decides that it’s time for a complex ritual that will take a couple of days. Therefore, Josef is free to do whatever he wants. He realises that he hasn’t seen Kateřina for a couple of days and that a date (with potential benefits) would be a good idea. He calls his love and she agrees to see Josef on Vyšehrad. When they meet she is in a bad mood. Everything is against her – the PCs have captured her sister and keep her away, she expected freedom and wealth after her father was gone but Bianca has taken over his assets and gives Kateřina only a small allowance for which she expects Kateřina to do what she is told. Short: This is not the life Kateřina has imagined!

When she finds out that Josef knows nothing about the whereabouts of her sister she executes the plan B – somehow she has managed to get access to information on a transport of a few pounds of cocaine. If she and Josef were able to ambush the car and steal the drug they could make some money from selling it themselves. Besides that Kateřina would have her fixes ready. Josef is sceptical as the plan is poorly thought out and rather dangerous. But Kateřina uses her “charms” and Josef agrees to give it some thought. In the next few days Josef puts a sensible and realistic plan together. They will acquire some road working equipment, make the van with the drug stop, taser the crew and get away with the drug. Kateřina doesn’t help much during the planning phase as she prefers enjoying the hospitality of Josef’s home with an occasional taste of his blood.

In the meantime Josef manages to acquire some bullet proof jackets, guns, tasers and such. As for the road working equipment they go to Modřany where a big headquarters of Prague Technical Services is. He goes to a pub with one of the workers, pretending to be a worker from another headquarters. With the information provided by this man he and Kateřina manage to fool the porter and Josef gets inside the area. There he manages to decieve more people and gets hold of two sets of working clothes and a few roadblocks and even gets away with all this in a lorry. After that he transports the equipment near the ambush spot and returns to his club for more things. Kateřina, frustrated by lack of money, goes there, too. (“Fuck this! I’m supposed to be the horror of the night! Not to be dragging myself through Prague by tram!”)

The next night Josef and Kateřina prepare the ambush and wait for the van. When it comes Josef manages to convince the driver to open the window and uses the taser on the driver and his companion. Kateřina tries to break into the back of the van but a nasty surprise is awaiting her – a ghoul. They get in a fight and while Kateřina is almost able to overcome the ghoul with her venom, the ghoul prevails and severly wounds Kateřina, incapacitating her. Josef has to transform and attack the ghoul in his wolf form. After more fighting Josef is able to kill the ghoul. He transforms back, parks the van with the dead ghoul and two unconscious mobsters into a sidestreet, takes the drugs and the half-dead passed-out vampire (Kateřina is in her true batform now as the ghoul has destroyed her Flesh Mask and she, being unconscious, can’t create it anew) and decides to hide into the tunnels under the hill Petřín as the dawn is approaching.

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Session 9th November 2014

In the aftermath of the last session Bianca approaches Josef and informs him that she has altered the original plans of Karel Petera and is going to buy Josef’s club herself. She makes him the following offer: She will be the owner while Josef remains the tenant and can organise whatever music activities he likes. Bianca won’t care much about the profitability of the club and will even increase the influx of cash (Josef’s Resources skill will be effectively at +1). In return she wants the club to be a safe feeding ground for her RCVs with guaranteed privacy. Additionally, Josef should remain loyal to her and provide assistance if needed. Josef agrees without much hesitation and again the vampire is pleased. The “love” romance between Josef and Kateřina also continues.

Sister Bohuslava opts to remain in a monastery for a while, taking care of Lucie Peterová.

Libor Sova appears at work and his boss confronts him with the fact that he hasn’t been much of a help recently. Then he is assigned a new task – a 13 years old boy has vanished from an orphanage in Bílá Voda and the director wants a private detective to solve the case before the authorities and media take any note of it. Libor goes to Bílá Voda and learns the details from the director. The boy’s name is Karel Suk and he is a distant relative of Josef Suk and Antonín Dvořák. Although the director suspects that the boy has fled, his disappearance during the night remains a mystery as the building was locked and everyone was doing their job as usually. Libor promises to search the building and surrounding grounds thoroughly and when left alone he uses his Sight . He soon learns that the boy was abducted using powerful magic. The trace is difficult to follow but Libor manages to track it back to Prague and directly to the National Theatre. There the trace seems to be blocked by supernatural means and disappears in the old building.

Libor calls Josef and with some help of a former detective colleague who is working as theatre security now the PCs enter the theatre. They both soon start feeling uncomfortable and when Libor uses his Sight he learns two things: 1) The upper part of the theatre seems to be burning magically and 2) there are strange ghostlike beings on the stage among the actors and the boy’s trace ends and dissolves here. First the PCs check the loft. They get attacked by a fiery creature but manage to kill it with a fire extinguisher. In the loft Libor’s Sight reveals that the fire is the actual fire from 1881 when the National Theatre had burned down. Additionally they find out that someone has performed a thaumaturgical ritual here recently. Then they move to the auditorium. Again Libor uses his Sight and discovers that the ghostlike creatures are charming both the dancers and the auditorium. The PCs manage to attack the most powerful spirit and break its possession of the prima ballerina. When this happens the spirit takes on a form of a female dancer and pledges: “Help us, Kašpar is holding us here!” Then the charm is over and the spirits disappear in the loft.

In the following days the press is writing about a “gas leak” and “mass carbon monoxide poisoning” in the National Theatre while the PCs try to learn as much as possible about the 1881 fire and the name Kašpar. They discover the following: A certain Kašpar/Caspar Böhm, a young conductor of mixed German-Czech origin, had been one of the prospective conductors of the soon-to-be-finished National Theatre but vanished at approximately the same time as the theatre burned down. He was believed to have left for Dresden with a company of actors but he never got there. Nevertheless he was never deemed a suspect as the cause of the fire was properly investigated and found (neglect of workers mending the roof). Libor then prepares a complex ritual to locate Kašpar or at least to learn as much as possible about him. Then the duo enters the theatre for the second time. The casting is a success and Kašpar’s ghost appears. Kašpar tries to possess Libor but Libor manages to prevail. As soon as Kašpar’s form dissolves the ghost of the ballerina appears and informs the PCs that the victory is only temporary. Kašpar had originally been her lover and in 1881, in a fit of jealousy, he killed her and several musicians and set the theatre on fire. To free all the ghosts and break the block on Karel Suk’s trace the PCs need to convince Kašpar that his love had never been unfaithful to him and prove her innocence. After that the ballerina’s ghost vanishes.

The PCs leave the theatre and plan on involving Sister Bohuslava.

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Summary of latest two sessions

Sister Bohuslava witnesses a strange death in the hospital she works in. A young patient, apparently suffering from drug overdose, catches fire and burns to death suddenly. She is accused of neglecting her duties by the hospital direction. She calls Libor Sova, a detective whom she had met in the past. She also tries to contact Josef Trojan, the proprietor of the rock club Hellhole where the patient was found. After some discussions the PC trio agrees to investigate together.

During further investigation two thing happen in Josef’s club.
1) Someone is trying to sell drugs in his club. Josef succeeds in persuading the dealers that he knows their boss and that he will distribute the drug himself. They give him the rest of the drug and leave. They also mention “Mr. Petera” during the conversation.
2) There is a gruesome murder in the club – a mutilated female body is found during a concert at a toilet. In the following chaos the PCs spot an unknown female biker leaving the club suspiciously. Libor follows the girl and she leads him to a rich mansion in Ořechovka.

Further investigation reveals that the girl is in fact Kateřina Peterová, daughter of Karel Petera, one of Prague’s “kmotrs” (business/politics/crime bosses behind the political parties). The drug is no drug at all. At least not in the physical sense but it’s strongly imbued with magic and causes the user to manifest supernatural and spellcasting abilities temporarily. Libor hands one of the ampules to the Wizard Council of Prague while Josef remembers that previously the vampire Bianca da Santa Clara asked him for any information on such a thing if he ever came across it. (This comes from the very first session which was in fact the officially published Neutral Grounds casefile, starring Josef and another two PCs – Petr Gruber and Anděla Konopná. Bianca provided the PCs with some information about the whereabouts of one RCV and asked for this favour in exchange).

The Council’s answer is slow and hazy. The vampire’s interest, on the other hand, is very high. The PCs visit Bianca in her brothel. The negotiation is tense, mainly because Sister Bohuslava, as a True Believer and a Borromean nun, has serious problems with any cooperation with a vampire. Nevertheless, Bianca explains that she and the PCs share some of their interests: Both Bohuslava and Josef are in trouble because of the drug. Karel Petera is the chief dealer of the drug and too influential to be fought on the official terms. He is also an upstart Red Court vampire and a direct competitor of Bianca, both Court-wise and business-wise. Again, Bianca can’t make a move against him due to her precarious position in Prague. But if someone with no visible connection to Bianca dealt with Petera exploiting his weaknesses Bianca would be able to step in quickly, take over Petera’s assets and stop any possible investigation (both official and supernatural) or Petera’s previous activities, e.g. “regarding hostile takovers of local rock clubs.” Sister Bohuslava and Bianca also exchange some subtle (Bianca’s case) or not so subtle (Bohuslava’s case) threats and the meeting is over.

In the following few days Bohuslava spends some time in a Dominican monastery praying and comes to the conclusion that the destruction of one vampire is actually better than the destruction of no vampire at all and that temporary cooperation with Bianca might be the lesser of two evils. Libor with Josef investigate Petera’s mansion and his family. Josef tries to meet Kateřina and use her to get into her father’s house. This plan, however, backfires as Kateřina is also an RCV and (spending two nights with Josef, having sex with him and feeding off him) quickly addicts the werewolf to her venom. Josef gets some information from her but does his best to prevent the rest of the party from harming her. Libor’s thaumaturgical rituals and further investigation activities, on the other hand, are a success and the PCs get a solid picture about Petera’s mansion and its internal workings.

The final plan is to capture two members of the security, get their uniforms and infiltrate the mansion during daylight. Petera is living alone with his two daughters and apart from them and the two members of the security there is no one in the premises. The plan is a success. The PCs successfully break into the mansion and find Lucie Peterová on the 1st floor (obsessively trying to touch sunlight with her hand). After calming her down Lucie tells Bohuslava that she is afraid of her father and of the “things that had visited him and that he and my sister have become” and that she doesn’t want to become that horror. She also asks the PCs not to harm her sister. Bohuslava then takes her to the safety of a Dominican monastery. After Bohuslava’s return the PCs break into the cellar rooms and attack Petera. The fight is at first even (mainly thanks to Josef’s wolf form) but then, under all the stress, Bohuslava manifests new divine powers and forces Petera out of the cellar with the power of her prayers. Not wanting to risk coming to sunlight Petera surrenders. Josef prevents Bohuslava from killing him and the PCs capture the vampire, load him into one of his cars and drive him to Bianca. At the very end they notice Kateřina watching them capturing her father but she decides not to interfere.

Bianca is absolutely delighted with the course the events have taken and behaves kindly and magnanimously towards the PCs, promising them to take care of their problems that might have arisen from their previous actions.* Her standing both in Prague and within the Red Court has improved substantially.

*Note on Bianca’s approach and motivation: Bianca is as ruthless and selfish as any other RCV but she knows the value of allies, and her strategy of “kind face forward” has already worked for her many times. Being seen as “the lesser evil” benefits her and she tries to maintain this mask as long as possible.

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