The Hollow Crown
The Dolorous Stroke
Boston – March 1989 The Thunor Institute
“The results of our scrying proved inconclusive.” with bitter eyes, Prescott looked across the room at the condemned Malkavian. Prideful, Balin stands arms shackled, flanked by two Gargoyles. His bloodied face and frightful aspect indicate he was not taken peacefully. A murmur runs through the assembled vassal’s court and primogen.
A heavy oak staff slams down on the flagstones under the throne. Calling the room to order, an imperious voice booms out, echoing into the rafters of the great hall. “Out with it Prescott, did he kill my child Valais?”
Marshalling his response, Prescott weighs his words carefully “My scrying confirms that Balin had been in my Sister’s haven that night. There was evidence of a heated argument between them, but it was not clear what the subject was”, the silent assent of the masked figure beside him confirms this to the court."
“Balin, do you deny this?” Balin with disdain replies "I was there, we discussed her incompetent plan that resulted in the death of my brother. I left shortly before heading to root out the Sabbat nest in Gloucester. You can ask Dyer, I was with her”
“The sword Prescott, what of the sword?”
Prescott seems unwilling to continue, but instead the gaudily masked stranger speaks, her voice curiously high-pitched and yet muffled by the mask. “I confirm it was my own childe’s blade which killed Valais. Her surprise at the attack was impregnated deep into the elements of the blade.”
“And of this caitiff cur, this viper’s defence, that someone else acquired his blade?” barely containing his fury, the arms of his throne showing the indent where his hand has gripped these tightly.
“We found no evidence of this.” dejectedly Prescott concludes his comments. Ruefully, he meets Balin’s gaze before sitting down amongst the Vassal’s. Standing, Wymer strides towards the assembled court. “For the attack on my own blood, for ursurping the sixthition, I sentence you to see your final sunrise this evening, Balin, childe of the Peacock Lord.”
Winthrop intejects, “Dread sovereign, it would seem odd that your scourge would enter battle without this favourite blade. There is not yet sufficient evidence to support his destruction, I plead on his behalf, recognise Balin’s past service and banish him from this court, his life forfeit if he returns.”
Boston – the Winthrop Building – September 1990
“The Peacock Lord will be destroyed this evening. Are any of you sure that he will not come for you next?” Winthrop looked from his papers. “He blames everyone bar himself for the failure to retake Providence. Do either of you desire to be his next war leader?”. The other two kindred stayed quiet. “I thought not, Gaveston knows where Balin fled to. We can summon him back, and offer him a chance to revenge his sire.” The others marked their agreement to the letter, Winthrop looked up as Gaveston entered the room, “Take this to Balin. We will make the arrangements this evening.”
Boston – the Harbourside – October 1990
“You thought to surprise a childe of Tremere?” incredulous, Wymer stood over the prostrate Balin. “We foresaw the treachery in our court, the pestilence, and took steps to draw it out. Others will be dealt with presently, but yourself and Winthrop will die this evening.”
Arabella looked away, not wishing to witness this spectacle, Winthrop hung loosely from the arms of a Gargoyle. “The dog Silas will be cornered in his lair and all shall be punished, all others subject to bloodhunt and amaranth.” Balin looked up, he gestures, as if to impart some last word. Wymer moved closer. Turning his back on her, Wymer does not see the flash of movement that has the stake from Arabella’s cloak to Balin’s hand. His eye widen in amazement as Balin drives it in his chest.
Flood throws his hands up to hold the Gargoyles to one side. Balin draws himself to his feet, as Wymer falls to his knees, and with a single sword-strik decapitates the Prince. Falling to his knees, he offers the sword to Arabella. “Do what you think best, my Lady.”
Looking at the others, with an ironic shrug, Arabella dubs Balin with the bloodied sword, “Arise Prince Balin”