“Well, that was amusing…” James threw himself onto the floor next to Gwendolyn, the smell of fire and smoke which clung to him made her feel slightly sick, he reached into his coat and withdrew a blood bag which he tore into drinking half before passing it to Gwendolyn, who checked it and then drank the rest whilst James continued speaking. “You were right, the confusion of battle and the fact the idiots always want to frenzy means they are falling for it.” James straightened up and sat cross legged but she could tell he was listening for trouble.
“It was easier than following your plan of hunting out the ones back here by magic, they don’t know we are winning from here just hear the sounds of the battle so a damsel in distress…”
“Ventrue in distress… which is why they are coming out to play.” James’ smile was positively Cheshire cat like by now.
“_Damsel_ in distress” Gwendolyn flicked a disapproving glance at him “running from a laughing maniac works in drawing them out. Speaking of which I think we need to move before anyone finds us.” She stood up and dusted off her skirt.
“Lead on my dear Ventrue,” James acrobatically flipped himself to standing, “But I think before you run from this laughing maniac that the thickest fodder here has been killed so a little more artistic license is needed to draw out more.” To her confused look he smiled broadly and then ripped her skirt, drawing blood with a set of shallow scratches on her outer thigh. Gwendolyn squeaked and batted his hand away, “What do you think you are doing?!”
“Don’t heal them” He then ruffled her hair and whilst she attempted to fight him off from doing that he ripped her blouse. “Excellent, now you look like a Ventrue who has been in the fight and is running for her life.” As he smeared the remainder of the blood from the bag on her, stepped back and checked his handwork. James turned her around and slapped her on the bottom.

“Now, run!”

Turning her head to glare at him Gwendolyn did as told and nearly fell over as she tripped on a pile of rubble in the tunnel, James laughed loudly then slowly his laugh changed to the mocking hyena laughter of the Sabbat pack that the court was destroying this night. She ran, remembering to make a sobbing noise and to scream at any shadows that seemed to move in the tunnels, she could hear James not far behind her. He was laughing and hissing what he was going to do to her when he caught up with the little Camellia bitch and dragging the sword’s edge across the brickwork which startled her and added more scratches to her body as she tripped over some barbed wire. The plan was crude but effective, it wasn’t long before a small pack found her and then as she screamed for real and threw herself on the ground James rounded the corner and threw fire at the pack, finishing off the last pack member with his sword.

“Its ok, the fire has gone.” James pulled her up after calming the fire which had consumed the pack.
“Have we cleared this area now?” Gwendolyn sounded hopeful, James give a rueful smile remembering that she didn’t normally fight.
“Yup, and I’m sure that Lambe is now aware I traded in Curtis’ debt to have you fighting on my team. So that in mind how about another auspex session before I take you back?” Hiscox winked at her.
“You run too many risks.” She attempted to frown at him but he was buoyed up by the success of their run though the tunnels of the Sabbat nest and was ignoring her as they walked back though, “Relax, I’m off to New York tomorrow.” Hiscox whistled the theme to one of the Broadway shows and bowed dramatically to her whilst waving her though the exit to the outside. “By the time I’m back it will be fine and I will have a new childe which should keep fussy pants happy as I will be training him and not you my dear.” Hiscox blew her a kiss as he walked off towards the Tremere and she turned reluctantly towards her sire and clan.

Strangely Lambe said nothing to her when she went to his side, nor in the car and again once they arrived back at the ranch, he just told her to retire for the night and recover. Gwendolyn frowned slightly at his seeming disinterest but did as she was told, she showered, changed and briefly went to the library to check on some work.

It was only when she went back to her chambers an hour later that she found Hiscox hadn’t been joking about a lesson before he left, walking though the door she found him lying on her bed reading. “Seriously, your bedroom reading is about the nuances of calligraphy in manuscripts?” He asked as she shut the door throwing the book on the floor, “Just because you are dead doesn’t mean everything stops… I mean I could name about four kindred and same again for humans who wouldn’t mind replacing that pole with…”
“Hiscox!” Gwendolyn snapped, if she could blush she probably would have been bright red, even so, at her expression James just shook his head and smirked.
“Too easy to tease you.” He walked over to her dressing table and sat down, “Sorry, I forget you are too innocent of this type of thing.” His voice was amused and not at all sorry.
“Please let’s just move onto the lesson.”

The next hour was spent with her refining her ability to see auras and then trying to gain echoes from objects. “Relax, you are doing well at this.” He took the paperweight from her hand after admitted defeat at trying to sense anything from it. “Try and practise whilst I’m away.” He sat next to her on the bed.
“I wish you didn’t have to go, it is going to be dull without you. Hardly anyone speaks to me at court. I hope this trip is worth it.” Her voice was low and she looked at him with a half smile.
“Well this time the childe I want will be mine and I won’t be sent away so another can get there first.” There was real bitterness in his voice as he leant back and looked at the ceiling.
“Sorry to hear that, it must be difficult.” A choice of a childe was normally something that was planned unless an emergency or an event forced a kindred’s hand she knew from hearing others speak on this before.
“It is a shame, she would have made an excellent Tremere but life isn’t fair, etc cetera, etc cetera, etc blah.” He waved a hand in circles as finished speaking. “If you are bored whilst I’m away then this book maybe of interest to you, I’ll be seeing the author perform in New York.” Hiscox took a slim book out of his coat and left it on her bedside table. He kissed the top of her head and jumped out the window, it was only then she realised what he meant.


The Hollow Crown Archabyss