The characters, recall, had a date with the wannabes and, they thought, the Patroness herself. Marconi thought it would be good to have witnesses - higher-ups than they, perhaps, so that if something bad happened, the coterie wasn't left holding the bag. He called Andre Sheen (who had a vested interest in this anyway, since it was his mistake that had started Amy Stevens on the path of paranoia and depression that led to her suicide) and Maeve Blackwell (not a higher-up in the city, but very much involved in this).
The characters arrived a little late, figuring to give Photuris time to get there and get into conversation with the wannabes, since they didn't want the Predator's Taint giving them away. When they got there, though, there was no one at the gazebo. Andre's Ferrari was in the lot. Heath looked with spyglasses and saw a thin thread tied across the entrance to the gazebo. The characters walked up, and found a pile of ashes in the entrance - and Andre's clothes.
Lindsey looked back with Spirit's Touch, and saw Andre walking into the gazebo, looking about. He took a phone call, and didn't notice the thread...which decapitated him. He collapsed into ash, and this, of course, left Lindsey and the others terrified. How, exactly, does a normal red string destroy a vampire?
About then the wannabes showed up. Padma and Heath went to distract them. Marconi called Maeve, who said she was running late, but Marconi should get the thread and a sample of the ashes so she could look into it magically. Marconi did so, and was finishing up when a car pulled up. Lindsey saw Maeve get out, and she asked what was up. Marconi said he had the samples, and Maeve suggested they get out of there. Marconi drove the Ferrari with Lindsey, Maeve drove her car, Heath and Padma told the wannabes to scoot because something might be going on with their Patroness, and then followed Marconi. Out on the road, though, Heath noticed someone was following them...
They pulled up to the red light and Maeve pulled next to Marconi and said to follow her, that she needed some equipment that she didn't have at the hotel. Marconi did, while Heath called to his head of security at Binion's and led the tail (turned out to be the wannabes) into the parking lot. Security blocked them in, Heath and Padma dragged them down to one of those windowless rooms, and explained that they were well and truly out of their depth. And then he left them there, and went after his coterie.
Meantime, Marconi and Lindsey followed Maeve to an abandoned oil change place. She pulled through the garage, then turned around and threw a lit Zippo, which caught a ring of gasoline around the car (Lindsey, about then, started to realize this wasn't Maeve). Marconi, keeping control nicely, reversed and pulled out onto the street. Lindsey tried to call Heath, but her cell wasn't working.
Heath took a call from Maeve. She was at the gazebo - where were they? Heath, confused, said he thought she was with Marconi...and realized something was wrong. As Lindsey and Marconi got farther away from the garage, their cell reception worked, and the characters were able to regroup.
Marconi called Thomas Pilate, the Sheriff. He met the characters in the Bellaggio, and listened to what they said. He called Prince Rossini, who invited them all to the Station for a little sit-down.
Prince Martin Rossini is a young-looking vampire, thick wavy hair, very pretty (and this made Padma a little weak at the knees). He listened to their story and then Summoned Photuris, nodding to his Hound, Dex, to incapacitate her when she arrived. Photuris arrived, looking dazzled at all the powerful vampires, and Dex walked over and ripped out her hamstring with his claws, and then staked her.
Rossini told the characters that even attempting to kill Kindred was a breach of the Traditions. He told Lindsey to use Spirit's Touch on the thread and see if she could figure anything out. Her player rolled an exceptional success, and so Lindsey saw Photuris stringing up the thread. She (Photuris) knew that Andre in particular was vulnerable to red string - and that Tina Moretti, the city's Herald, was vulnerable to a red rose - laid on her chest, it would paralyze her. But why? And how did Photuris know this, or even that Andre would be there?
Lindsey reported all of this to the Prince. Rossini spoke in Italian to Pilate, and the characters didn't catch much of it, except the words Corpus Christi. Then Rossini, impressed at Lindsey's loyalty (keeping Moretti's secret would have given Lindsey a powerful bargaining chip later) offered her Photuris' soul. Lindsey, not quite sure what was happening, diablerized the Player, and gained Blood Potency, Obfuscate...and maybe something else into the bargain.
The Prince thanked the characters and dismissed them, but the sense was definitely that he considered them a coterie to watch. Thomas Pilate, on the way out, grabbed Marconi and thanked him for running this down. "It was you on the phone?" Marconi asked. "I have no idea what you're talking about," lied Pilate.
Heath went back to the wannabes and scared the bejeezus out of them, telling them that they could choose to forget all this or they could go deeper down the rabbit hole. They all chose to forget, and Marconi altered their memories to turn Photuris into a blood fetishist, rather than a real vampire. Marconi then went to the roof of the Bellaggio and talked to Amy, telling her that the vampire that attacked her was dead, and Jay and his crew understood what vampires really were, and had chosen to forget. She seemed satisfied with that, and disappeared.
The first story ends here, but a few questions remain:
- How did Photuris know that Andre would be at the meeting?
- How did Photuris know Andre and Tina's weaknesses?
- Where did those weaknesses come from, anyway?
- How has Photuris' blood and soul affected Lindsey?
- How far will Padma go to experience the rush of diablerie?
And now, the end of the letter (the beginning is here:
...of course Andre's death caused a stir amongst the Kindred of Las Vegas. The Harpies held their memorial services, and Prince Rossini was forced to tread the line between letting them mourn and allowing their excesses to become a danger to the Masquerade. But in time fond remembrance faded to grudges and resentment, and no one ever really liked Andre anyway.
Andre Sheen's death touched off a much greater mystery, however, the repercussions of which we are both all too familiar with. Even now, a warm spring rain drums my window as I write this, and I am its prisoner. Would it melt my flesh to walk out into it? Or would it simply make me bleed? I have no way of knowing, and I do not have the curiosity to find out.
Others in Las Vegas did, of course, and I shall tell you of their results in my next letter.