Shadow of a Horned God

Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act III, Session VII
The Beginning of an Era

Three weeks have passed since the outbreak of plague and pests in Deva, and the situation have calmed down a bit. The plague is under control, and the pest infestation have started to disperse. Unfortunately, the harsh means by which the city’s “nightly authorities” have managed the situation have resulted in a broad breaking of the Sixth Tradition, and the kine is afraid to venture outside after nightfall. Eventually this will change, though.

The coterie receives an invitation from Rhydderick regarding a meeting in Tamworth, directed to all nightly lords of Mercia. Not wishing to miss an opportunity to see the start of his “dream”, Octavius decides to attend the meeting. After some preparations, the entire court is ready to depart.

It is indeed an impressive gathering of Cainites that attend the meeting in Tamworth. Apart from the court of Deva (including Castor) and Rhydderick, also Bronn and Marcus Verus shows their interest. Shortly before the beginning of the meeting, two new attendants appear, shocking most of the others; Lancius in the company of Gnaeus Septimus Luca. The latter have recently assumed the mantle of Prince in the once-again-growing city of Viroconium, giving him an righteous place among the lords of Mercia.

The meeting is very successful, and they agree on the initial foundations of the Mercian League. Among the decisions made is the creation of a new office, namely that of the _Justicar, who is to be a central law enforcer in the League. After nominations, it is agreed that three individuals will be holding this office; Kaeila, based in the city of Deva, Lancius, based in the city of Viroconium and finally Coramius, based in the city of Glevum. All of the nominated accepts their new offices. One final rule for the official meetings in the League is surprisingly proposed by Luca, and accepted by the others; the prohibition to use Disciplines during any meetings.

After the meeting, all parties return to their respective cities to deal with any issues they may have during this time of strife. The League will be meeting annually on New Years Day, if not summoned by urgent events. Thus the Third Part of this Chronicle comes to a conclusion, and the coterie will be entering a period of Downtime, which will be detailed in another part of this site…

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Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act III, Session VI
Relentless Efforts

Lucius Aurelius Castor, in the form of the Chiropteran Marauder, completely catches Swanhilda off-guard. The young Savage is slain in a matter of seconds by the ferocious assault of Deva’s newest resident. However, as he concentrates on the earth, Castor realizes that her foul ritual was completed, with energies running across the soil. He eventually returns to Octavius, who is on his way back towards the city, wounded and famished. He informs him of the result and accompanies him back, after assuming his ordinary form.

Meanwhile, Fherah, Vivia and Raul complete their “tour” of the city, exterminating the last remnants of Aurora’s infiltrators, guided by Hector’s knowledge of their hideouts. In the remaining four hideouts, they find that two members of the group already have been slain, probably by Swanhilda, and only manage to capture one alive, and that the last one is missing, perhaps gone into hiding elsewhere, after committing a double rape-murder in the plague-district. After their work is done, they return towards the throne room.

The coterie meet each other on their way and exchange reports. The surviving saboteur belonging to Aurora is consumed by Octavius, judging him no more useful. Then they discuss the issue with Aurora herself. After some debate, Octavius agrees to spare her for the time being, her perhaps being a valuable “trade” with her sire Luxandra, whom Castor met back in Ancona. She is bound tight and kept under strict surveillance. During this time they also discover an unusually high activity of vermin, which has reached almost insane proportions. Castor is able to remember hearing rumors of Animalism powers of this degree, and they agree that this is the work of Swanhilda.

Castor utilizes his koldunic blood magic to contact his sire, Gesu, in Constantinople. He asks counseling on the matter of the Setite, knowing his sire to have had extensive experience of them recently. He receives the advice of maintaining patience, and offers to discuss the matter with Khay’tall himself, the head of the Decadent Setite faction based in the city, and also the sire of Luxandra. This might take a while, however, but he will contact Castor after it is done. He also asks if Gesu knows of any competent stone-cutters available for transportation to Britannia, and receives the advice of perhaps utilizing any favors from this Setite-affair to allow the usage of Luxandra’s extensive trading network to that purpose. On the question of what can be done to the vermin situation (which Gesu refers to as The Eight Plague), he receives no satisfying answer. Perhaps nothing can be done?

After some more discussions, Octavius decides to seek out the source of these issues as he sees it, namely Morghien. Since receiving knowledge of his wherabouts from Khoraxoz earlier, he knows where to look. He is accompanied by Fherah, who leaves Hector to his own devices in their haven. Octavius also brings forth Ymwrayhl, his ghoul bodyguard. As they come near the encampment, they quickly notice that they are preparing to depart. The guard is handled through the use of Presence, but the situation quickly grows more hostile as they enter the camp. Again, the Presence Discipline proves useful to calm the situation down a bit, until their leader appears.

The meeting proves insightful for both parties. Octavius is surprised to learn of his “brother’s” civilized manners and diplomatic abilities, and begins to think that maybe he isn’t the Savage he thought him to be. He is quick to show contempt however, and taunts are exchanged throughout the conversation. He obviously takes no responsibility for the acts of Aurora and Swanhilda, and refuses to share any insights to his plans. He claims to be a truly free soul with no masters. Octavius still manages to learn a hint of information through Auspex, that this “campaign” is a preparation for some future plans. He also manages to confirm that there exists some type of relations between Morghien and the enigma known as Corax, who resides in the capital of Bernicia, Bamburh. He finds out, however, that Morghien doesn’t harbor any warm feelings for the savage and the cooperation might be more fragile than one might think.

Meanwhile, Vivia learns through Caddoc that an armed group is approaching from the south, bearing the standards of Glevum. She sends Caddoc to meet with the group, learn their reasons to coming here and warn them of the plague. When he returns she learns that it is the Warmaster of Glevum, Coramius, who leads the group and wishes to speak with Octavius, and also delivers a letter to him. She patiently awaits his return.

When Morghien announces his intentions to leave, Octavius demands a promise not to return, which Morghien callously denies. Seeing as they can’t agree, Octavius proposes a duel, which Morghien surprisingly agrees to. Fherah, Ywrayhl and all the followers of Morghien watch closely as witnesses. The battle is long and fierce, with the Third Eye of Saulot glowing brightly as the Warriors unleash their powers on each other. The tide dances back and forth between the fighters, and the fight takes the form of a battle of attrition. In the end, Octavius is struck down by the Elder, and subsequently staked (even though Ymwrayhl tried to stop it from happening, he was knocked out cold by both Morghien and Fherah, who didn’t want the affair to turn into another bloodbath). Morghien then tell Fherah to bring her Prince back to the city, which she does without objection. Morghien and his followers then depart, traveling back north.

When Octavius is brought back to the court, Vivia quickly decides he must be freed. Clodwal, another of Octavius ghouls, is given the task of removing the stake. Unfortunately, he doesn’t survive the task as Octavius, again starved frenzies, drinks him dry. The situation quickly grows even more dangerous as he breaks free and continues his blood-wrath, with Aulus (Vivia’s remaining elder ghoul), and two soldiers brought down from the city by Raul, consumed before his hunger is sated. When the situation has calmed down, Vivia gives him the letter from Coramius, which he reads before deciding to retreat into his haven for the day.

The letter is short and straightforward, as expected when written by such a cainite as Marcus Verus himself. He writes of his intentions to travel to Londinium, where he has “business” to take care of. He also gives his support for Octavius recent efforts, and also informs him of his decision to let Coramius “inherit” the office of Prince in Glevum, should he not make it back from Londinium. He doesn’t recommend Octavius to go there, but doesn’t forbid him either.

After Octavius has retreated, Vivia thinks it best to meet Coramius in person, so that the Elder doesn’t feel insulted in being ignored. Remembering Raul’s story, she decides it is best that he stays behind. Bringing only Fherah and Kelwan, her youngest and now only ghoul bodyguard, she ventures out to speak with the Ventrue Elder. The meeting is polite and formal, with Coramius expressing his concerns for the well-being of his allied city Deva. Vivia also informs him that the Prince is available the next night, and that an escort will be provided for Coramius so that his soldiers won’t be exposed to the disease.

The day eventually passes, and the coterie meets with Coramius in the throne room. They discuss politics, Coramius being a wellspring of information. Apparently, King Raedwald of East Anglia plans to install his subject Edwin into the throne of Deira, since the death of King Aethelfrith has created large power vacuum. There also doesn’t seem to be any real obstacles in his ascension as Bretwalda, the overlord of Britannia. The Artisan Calipha, who has Raedwald under her wings, probably plans to use these events as a leverage to gain much prestige in future politics. Marcus Verus has shown a considerable interest in northern affairs and have thus sent Coramius to observe the situation. Since the present Prince of Eboracum is none other than Brennus, the childe of Coramius himself, he ought to have good opportunities to influence northern politics if the need arises. Coramius decides to stay in the vicinity of Deva for one week, and offers his help in maintaining the situation, perhaps by guarding the fields against the locust swarms which threaten to doom the city into starvation.

The week passes, and matters have their way. After some internal debate, the court decides that the plague is the most threatening of the two issues at hand, and focuses the garrison into preserving order in the city, and rationing the food to the healthy districts. Several uprisings in the plague district are brutally crushed by soldiers, and the populace slowly realize the extent into which their lives are dictated by the creatures who stalk the city at night. With the help of Coramius’ men and concentrated efforts by Khoraxoz, Castor and Brodhar, the locust issue is kept from a total disaster, and after a few days the swarms start dispersing. The plague, however, continues to reap its toll of lives in the city. Coramius approaches Octavius with an offer; to ease responsibilities for the troubled Prince and also strengthening their personal connections to each other, Coramius is willing to become the Mentor of Selyf Sarffgadau, Octavius’ Fledgling childe. It may also prove good for the young Scion to gain firsthand experience on Cainite politics while traveling with Coramius to Eboracum. Octavius agrees, and so Selyf departs from the city in the company of his new Mentor after merely a month of his undead existence.

Shortly after the departure of Coramius, Octavius receives word that Aurora has awakened from torpor. After some precautions (including her own ghoul fed to her as nourishment), she is brought before the court. After realizing her situation, she submits to the will of her captors and begs for mercy. Castor still think that they should await word from her sire in Italy before judging her too harshly, and after some debate, they agree not to execute her, for now. In exchange for her life, Aurora offers information about their enemies in the north. Intrigued, Octavius listens to what she has to say.

According to Aurora, Morghien has “abducted” the youngest son of King Aethelfrith, Oswiu, and keeps him safe in an unknown haven somewhere along the remains of Hadrian’s Wall. She thinks that he plans to use the boy in some future scheme to gain control of the Kingdom of Bernicia. He has also let rumors of Oswiu’s death spread, so that people won’t search for his whereabouts. She also confirms Octavius suspicions that the alliance of Morghien and Corax is a fragile one, and that they don’t see eye to eye on most matters. Currently, Corax grip on Bernicia seems total, but with the state of the mortal kingdom, things might change in the near future. Also, with the recent arrival of Eldric in Eboracum, things are starting to look uncertain. Awaiting the “judgment” of her kin, she is confined in chains behind locked doors and kept under strict surveillance.

Octavius quickly sends word to Coramius about what he have learned about Oswiu, and that spreading rumors of his state might prove troublesome for their enemies. Since his destination is Eboracum, Coramius seems as the prime candidate for overseeing these things in the near future. With these events we leave Deva for the time being, and eagerly await the rapidly approaching conclusion of Part III

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Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act III, Session V
Effective Damage Control?

A plague ravages in the city of Deva, and Prince Octavius confers with his court on how best to address the situation. Lucius Aurelius Castor, the new undead master of the old Roman noble district, notices a pair of suspect individuals meeting secretly in a remote basement in the city and chooses to eavesdrop, employing his mastery of the koldunic Way of Spirit. Quickly identifying them as belonging to the group of culprits responsible for the plague, he relays the information to the prince, who isn’t late to act. While Castors own men bring the one staying behind, Octavius ambushes the second (who is trying to leave the city), guided by Castor.

The man, who is quickly asserted as a Setite Ghoul, is brought down and captured by Octavius, who brings him to Castor. Vivia Valerius Vetus is also summoned, to help with the task of learning the ghoul’s secrets, and finds out the whereabouts of his undead master, in the ancient amphitheater east from Deva. A plan quickly takes form, where Castor assumes the looks of the ghoul using his Vicissitude Discipline. Without further delays, he ventures out to meet with his “master”, while Octavius (along with his own ghoul servant, Ymwrayhl) follows him to act as a backup should hostilities occur.

Castor is successful with the subterfuge, and the unknown Serpent speaks about “commencing the second stage”. When asked to partake of her vitae, Castor decides to strike. A fierce and confused battle takes place, and all of the Serpent’s human followers are slain, and she herself struck into torpor by Octavius while attempting to stake her. She is brought back to Deva, where some investigations into her mind are done, without any significant success apart from her name (Aurora) and the names of her associates: Morghien and Swanhilda.

Nights pass, and the work of preserving the plague takes most of the coteries time. Fherah, utilizing her extensive knowledge of medicine and healing, takes it upon herself to attempt to minimize the damage caused by the plague, and helping those whom fate might spare. With her Path of the Four Humours Mortis powers, the task of identifying the diseased is an easy, albeit blood consuming one. Vivia, whose haven was among the first struck by the disease, carries the infection in her blood. She orders her servants to prepare a temporary haven in another district, before herself attempting the tenuous task of purging her body from the foul taint. She is successful and immediately leaves for the new haven.

Hector Augustinus finds the situation bothersome upon his awakening, and is forced through series of nuisances for a task as seemingly harmless as seeking out Fherah to speak with her. He eventually seeks out Octavius to share what he has learned during his “absence”. On his way he notices an unusual high presence of vermin, perhaps a side effect of the plague. The conversation only confirms Octavius suspicions, who then summons Khoraxoz. The Leper then receives the assignment of locating Morghien’s camp. Octavius leaves Aurora in Hector’s care until further notice. Early one night, Castor receives a message from the signature “M”, written as follows (in Latin):

“I have your servant, Pernik, in my care. You have one of my allies in custody. If you want the Leper returned alive, take her to the hill east of the city. Come alone. If you choose not to come tonight, the Leper will burn at sunrise.”

Castor seeks out the Prince in his court, where Vivia also has been spending a lot of time lately. Soon the court is assembled as Hector also arrives. After a discussion about priorities, Castor declares that he don’t intend to sacrifice Pernik (who has sworn him his allegiance). He comes up with a new plan; He can employ his powers once again to change Octavius’ appearance into an identical copy of his own, so that he can attend the “meeting” in his place. Then, using the same powers, create a hollow space in the torpid body of Aurora. In this space, he can hide himself in the form of vitae using Ascendancy of the Sanguine Humor. After the exchange, he will probably end up in Morghien’s camp, where he is able to spy, engage in sabotage or otherwise cause harm. After Hector has “scouted” the hill area (finding no signs for an ambush), they put the plan into action.

Shortly after the departure of Octavius and Castor, Khoraxoz once again visits the court room. He informs the remaining court the results of his investigations. Apparently, Morghiens camp has been moved further south, into the forest situated south of Fort Mediolanum. Also, while spying on the camp, he has overheard that Swanhilda is probably in Deva as they speak, in the process of doing “something serious”. Hector then asks Khoraxoz if he is able to do something about the issue of vermin in Deva, since they are a serious threat to the city as plague bearers. The Leper says he will look into the matter. After the meeting, Hector decides it’s time to do something about the still remaining bernicians in Deva, since learning of their hiding places from his earlier ritual.

While on the road towards the eastern hill, Castor experiences something disturbing while employing his koldunic powers. Some “foul taint” is spreading in the land itself from somewhere in the city. After discussing with Octavius, they decide to change their plans. Octavius continues to the hill alone with the body of Aurora, while Castor will return to investigate the source of the taint.

Hector gathers his ghoul servants and Fherah to rout out the unwanted infiltrators. He is accompanied by Vivia (along with her own ghouls) and Raul. Their conduct is very straightforward, with Fherah smashing the door and simply slaying the unfortunate enemy in his basement hiding place. With four more hiding places to “visit”, they continue without further delays.

Octavius arrives on the hill, where he is met by the six men who will perform the exchange. One of them is known to be a ghoul after Hector’s previous investigation and he is also the one in charge. Pernik is staked and fully soaked in lamp oil, “in case they try something”. Plenty of torches are also present at the site. Octavius doesn’t intend to let the enemy reclaim Aurora, but before he makes his move, the gathering is assaulted by a frenzied Madman, Patros. His attacks are focused towards Octavius, and the situation soon grows into a fierce battle in the midst of burning torches and lamp oil. After receiving a few serious injuries, Octavius manages to strike down his foe who quickly burns to ashes, before laying down the others. He then quickly returns towards Deva with the bodies of both Aurora and Pernik.

Meanwhile, Castor has transformed himself into the Chiropteran Marauder form and hastily returns to the city, guided by his koldunic senses. He eventually locates the source of the taint, in a small garden in the middle of the city. There he witnesses the final part of a strange ritual, where Swanhilda, quietly meditating on the ground pours a large amount of vitae into the ground from her open palm. In the (vain?) hopes of not being too late, he ferociously dives down against the Feral, aiming to lunge his talons through her chest…

If he succeeds, will be revealed next time…

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Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act III, Session III & IV
The Long Journey to Misery

Octavius and Castor are traveling towards Deva. Octavius feels a bit of hurry, seeing as matters have grown out of hands recently and wishes to set things straight. He briefly visits his pair of “protègès” (Caratacos and Hildegard)) in Verulamium on his way through, assuring himself of their loyalty. They are also accompanied by their ghouls, Irena and Clodwal. On the road they meet an unknown woman who introduces herself as Lochmael, the childe of Calipha, the Cainite ruler of East Anglia. She carries a letter addressed to Octavius, who informs her that he is in a bit of hurry and will reply later when he has had time to read it thoroughly. She departs into the woods. They also meet Bronn while passing through his domain, and exchange brief pleasantries. Bronn informs Octavius of his recent meetings with Rhydderick and that he fully supports his endeavors. After leaving Bronn’s domain, Octavius decides to take a small detour through Ratae, to speak with Rhydderick himself.

The rest of their coterie arrive in Verulamium, where they stay for the day. They soon receive a visitor, a Leper scholar by the name Petrus, who asks for permission to join them on their journey for a while and perhaps to discuss history since he is in the process of writing his great work, “Historia gentis Cainiticus Britanniae”. He is met with obvious suspicion, mainly from Hector, but eventually manages to convince them of his harmless nature. At nightfall they receive an invitation to the court room, where some meeting is being held. There they meet with another coterie of Cainites, currently hailing from East Anglia. They include Waldemar, “protector” of Camulodunum as well as Eiwar and Giyora, both who currently serve Calipha of Venta Icenorum. They speak politics with Hector and Vivia for a while, without reaching any conclusions. After the meeting, Sherwin announces his decision to stay in Verulamium with his followers. Before leaving the city, Giyora wishes to speak with Hector, more privately. He informs him of some strange happenings in the aftermath of The Battle of Idus, where King Aethelfrith of Bernicia was slain. Giyora claims that the king’s youngest son, the 8-year old Oswiu, was abducted by an unknown Cainite, whom Giyora believes to belong to Clan Salubri.

Octavius speaks with Rhydderick in Ratae, and finds the Elder quite forthcoming of his plans for the Kingdom of Mercia. He plans to install a council of some sort, based in the mortal capital of Tamworth, which also will serve as a neutral meeting place for the Cainites of the region, with no one claiming dominion of the town. Since Octavius has even larger plans for himself and the island, he is very interested in these ambitions. He also realize the convenience in having smaller “courts” to discuss more local issues, perhaps with representatives sent to the larger council to discuss matters concerning the entirety of Britannia. Later on the road to Deva, Octavius encounters Minerva. The meeting is cold and tense, with Octavius clearly unsure of what he should do. On one hand, the Graverobber has committed indisputable crimes against his reign in Deva, which shouldn’t go unpunished. On the other hand, she is a near thousand year old Elder, and also the sire of his own Scourge, Hector. The meeting ends with Octavius declaring Minerva as an “unwanted” in the area, and wishes not to see her again.

While traveling at foot pace, Vivia and Hector talk with Petrus about a number of things and find the strange Leper very knowledgeable about many things. He later departs the coterie to meet with Rhydderick. They also encounter Minerva, who briefly meets with her childe (who gives her the incomplete Covenant of Death). They exchange various pleasantries and she also speaks a few words with Fherah, as if to measure her somehow. The meeting is short, however, and she is soon on her way south. Fherah, after running out of fresh corpses, finds herself forced to hunt for sustenance in the wilds while traveling, which Hector finds strangely amusing.

Octavius and Castor arrive in Deva after a short conversation with Khoraxoz on the outskirts. He later meets with Kaeila, who has taken it upon herself to take care of the torpid body of Morita, her former lover. Julia also receives a visitation from the Prince of Deva. After taking care of the initial issues, Octavius decides to Summon the former King Selyf ap Cynan to his court. He also gives Bodgar the task of overseeing Fort Mediolanum until Morita’s return. Meanwhile, Castor scouts the city for a possible haven. He finds that the old noble district of Roman times is nothing more than rundown slums, but still faintly promising. He claims a group of near-abandon houses as his domain, and offers it’s inhabitants (a few poor Briton families) protection and coin in exchange for work as laborers in building his future estate. Irena receives the task of learning the local tongue. They then go on with their business as they await the arrival of the others, which should take at least a couple of weeks.

Octavius is approached by his “vassal”, King Selyf, after roughly a week in his court room. He arrives in the company of Brodhar. The meeting is eventful, and Brodhar becomes witness to the Embrace of the former Celtic ruler, who becomes Selyf Sarffgadau, prospective Scion of Clan Salubri and a childe to Octavius Sibius. After this he is housed in Octavius’ old haven and begins his education. Brodhar asks Octavius if there is something more she can do for him, and agrees to travel to the northwest coast to keep a watchful eye on Valerius Marcon. A few nights later Octavius is visited by Lucian Minorus, who apparently has awoken from torpor. He is somewhat shaken, and informs the Prince of his decision to leave Deva altogether.

As the entourage is nearing Deva, they encounter a group of ragged people traveling on foot from the east. After some interrogation, Hector discerns that they carry some sort of disease, and warns them from entering the city. Octavius is visited by Bodgar, who inform him of rumors of a “plague” that is harassing the people in Bernicia. He has also spotted a group of bandits camping roughly a nights walk northeast from the fort. He will continue to investigate these matters. Octavius shortly orders the city gates closed due to the risk of an outbreak of the disease. The travelers meet with Octavius shortly after returning to Deva, who introduces them to his new childe, and then go on to their respective havens to commence their nightly affairs. Hector soon discovers that his haven is in very poor condition, and possibly hazardous, since the excavating process which was started earlier is unfinished and insecure. He retains the services of Castor, who offers to help him in securing the haven. Castor also discovers a group of orphaned thieves on the outskirts of his domain, whom he offers “employment” as his eyes and ears throughout the city.

A few nights later events start happening. Octavius receives information from Caddoc that two guards have been murdered on the northwestern section of the city walls. He decides to investigate along with Hector. After some climbing on the walls and subtle uses of Mortis, they can discern that they have been killed by an unknown assailant who scaled the walls using a knife. Octavius orders heightened security throughout the city, as well as calls for Khoraxoz. The Leper agrees to investigate the matter, and will return as soon as he finds anything. He also informs Octavius that the group of diseased people from the east who were spotted earlier have vanished somewhere on the outskirts of Deva. Fherah also commence investigations into the matter of locating any suspicious individuals.

A few nights later Vivia is attacked by an unknown assailant while on her way to the court room. The clumsy attempt is easily thwarted by Raul, who also manages to capture the thug alive. After meeting Hector and Octavius shortly thereafter, their attempts to probe into the mind of the bandit reveal little useful information. Obviously, he is working for some unknown “master”, but he isn’t a ghoul, only a thralled human. Hector offers to find out more while also putting his recent most studies to the test in a new Mortis Ritual. He withdraws into his haven and shortly enters a type of torpor while experiencing choice parts of the mans life.

Meanwhile, investigations continue. As the nights pass the clues are leading towards the noble district, where Vivia’s haven is located, as well as the havens of both Kaeila and Julia. Octavius lets his soldiers in the Cult of Mithras do the legwork, while Castor employs his Way of Spirit to scout the lands for any inconsistencies. Fherah is also quite successful in her questionings and patrolling of the area. Vivia also manages to secure the “services” of Kelwan, a former soldier from the army of Gwynedd, as a replacement for Quintus, her ghoul bodyguard who died in Londinium.

A few nights later investigations come to fruit. Octavius receives word that his men have captured another bandit during the day, who is being held in a barrack. Octavius shortly discovers that the man isn’t very forthcoming in interrogation, so he continues the interrogation with Auspex. He finds out that the group of “bandits” number a dozen individuals, and have recently managed to transport diseased people into Deva. They have also dumped one of the deceased into a well in the noble district. Their “master” have given the reins to a commander of some sorts, a blond-haired man who hides in the city. They have also been given strict orders not to move about during the night. Apparently their “master” chose them because all of the bandits have previously contracted the plague and survived, making them immune to it.

Fherah also manages to locate an abandoned house in the noble district, where she encounters the corpses of a dozen people whom she recognizes as the ones from the road a week earlier. One of them is barely alive, but the others are dead in various stages of decomposition. Alarmed by this, she seeks out Octavius, but encounters Vivia on her way who is also very alarmed since discovering that one of her servants (and also a member of her personal Herd) has contracted a serious disease…

As the group meets and reveals their information the situation brightens a bit. Obviously, someone is making a serious attempt to undermine the authority in Deva, and managed to create an outbreak of a deadly plague. They start making various plans to contain the disease, and it is here that we leave the coterie, for now…

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Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act III, Session II
The Might of Elders

The story starts on the cold, silent streets of Londinium, where the coterie have just defeated the infamous Leper assassin, Demprios. Before leaving the area, they all feel strange tremors beneath the ground, and Castor manages to recognize his own koldunic energies at work deep beneath the city. They come to the conclusion that it must be Lucilla, whose cursed presence is causing the tremors. Both Castor and Hector fail to locate her, though. Then the coterie disperse.

Hector and Fherah venture into the streets of the city, hunting for sustenance. They soon discover that all taverns or beer halls are empty due to the civil strain which the city finds herself in. Instead they find themselves forced to prowl the streets itself for unfortunates. After a while they run into a group of pagan thugs in the process of brutalizing an unfortunate Christian. After a short conversation the group choose to assault the pair of strangers. Although the fight isn’t over as smoothly as one would assume, the thugs are eventually brought down and fed upon by the Cainites before brought back to their haven.

Octavius isn’t interested to stay in the city after the conversation with Aidalos earlier, and immediately leaves in the company of his ghoul servant, Ymwrayhl. The guards at the western gate are somewhat suspicious but doesn’t cause any real problems. He later meets with his forward scouts before arriving to his men, and give them orders to keep an eye on the approaching army from East Anglia, but without confronting them.

Castor receives a “visitation” from Minerva, who uses her Auspex Discipline to speak to him directly. She asks him of a “favor”, after receiving information about the curse cast upon Lucilla. She explains that Lucilla is in possession of something of utmost importance, and that it would be very unfortunate if it would be lost with her. She asks him to lift the curse, so that she could confront Lucilla before her demise in order to obtain the document she is holding. Castor is reluctant about this, but finally agrees after receiving Minerva’s word on that Lucilla will be taken care of, and that she will arrange for her to travel north, away from the coterie. After the conversation, Castor lifts the curse, which would most assuredly lead to Lucilla’s demise otherwise. He informs this to both Hector and Vivia.

Vivia decides to learn more about the strange young Madman, Sherwin, and discuss some politics with him. They speak for a while, the young Cainite proving to be quite knowledgeable about the subject, especially from the mortal point of view. Raul, the Caitiff, accompanies them. They are suddenly interrupted by an unseen presence, who speaks directly into their minds, asking them to dismiss Raul and the other servants. Recognizing the voice of Aidalos, Vivia complies. In the presence of Vivia and Sherwin alone, Aidalos shows himself. He asks Vivia for a favor, that of taking young Sherwin with her as she leaves the city. He explains that even though Sherwin’s capability of hiding is great indeed, it isn’t enough to keep him safe from harm in the city in the near future. He leaves shortly after receiving Vivia’s assurance of doing this favor for him. After his departure she orders her servants to prepare their departure from the city immediately, after which she takes one of her ghouls and Raul with her to visit Hector, to inform him of her decision.

Hector and Fherah arrive at Luanna’s haven, where they prepare feeding rituals, and Hector uses Farsight to check on Valerius Marcon. He finds her clearly awake and in an unknown location. He then tries to contact Morita. He finds her in the throne room of Deva, badly injured and in torpor. Further investigations reveal that Lucian Minorus also lies in torpor, though without any visible physical injuries. After these revelations, he attempts to contact Minerva, and succeeds. She is on her way south as they converse, and she explains the reason why Minorus and Morita are in their current state. Apparently, they had attempted to stop her from reviving Marcon, which forced her to retaliate. Obviously, she needed to get hold of something only Marcon could provide. She tells Hector that she is on her way to Londinium, and if he chooses to travel directly to Deva, they will meet on the road. After their conversation, Hector contacts Giyora, his old research companion. He finds out that he has taken interest in the King of East Anglia, Raedwald, and decided to discreetly support his ambitions into becoming Bretwalda, something that seems very likely at the moment. He is also on his way to Londinium at the moment, and Hector warns him of the malevolent presence in the city. Giyora also explains that Raedwald is backed by the Artisan ruler of Venta Icenorum, Calipha, as well as her vassals and allies. He also informs that some of them would surely like to meet with Octavius, as a diplomatic gesture from Calipha. After the conversation, Hector resumes his rituals.

Sherwin leaves the haven and seeks out Dougal, his ghoul companion, and explains the recent turn of events. He asks him to prepare for leaving the city immediately, taking as many of their allies with them as possible. Dougal is surprised at the urgency of the request, but obeys and sets out to wake his allies immediately. Meanwhile, Sherwin investigates their route to the western gate, finding that his “diversion” earlier has come to bloom as the pagan thugs of the slums are currently involved in major infighting. He then returns to the haven to wait for the departure.

Vivia arrives at Luanna’s haven, and meets with Hector. She informs him of her recent conversation with Aidalos and her decision to leave the city immediately. As they talk, Fherah decides to investigate the absence of Luanna’s servants and goes into her underground excavation. It is dark and silent, and empty, until she finds the corpse of one of her servants, apparently dead from having his throat cut open. The body lies next to a large crack in the floor, quite deep. As she investigates the hole she is attacked by an unknown being, apparently very strong. After a short struggle the being manages to knock her down into the hole and she falls more than a hundred feet down, knocked temporarily unconscious from the impact.

Upstairs, Vivia and Hector hears the fight and hurry down to investigate. Realizing that Fherah has fallen down the hole, Hector begins the climb down to help her. Vivia sends her ghoul to fetch some rope. Suddenly, Raul vanishes without a trace and Vivia finds herself alone in the room, not quite convinced there isn’t someone else there. She manages to hold her fears in check. When her ghoul returns, he falls to the ground in horrible agonies, screaming and bleeding through his very skin. As Vivia finds herself even more vulnerable, she decides to call for the only capable warrior she knows to be in the city, Castor. She employs her Summon technique, and Castor rushes towards his summoner. Meanwhile Hector reaches the bottom, where Fherah has regained her consciousness and is able to climb up with some help from Hector. They start their climb back up. Vivia ties a lantern to the end of the rope and lowers it down to provide light to them.

When Castor arrives he is infuriated, putting the screaming ghoul on the floor out of his misery before asking what’s happening. Vivia explains the situation to him, and he begins to prepare a ritual. Before finishing, he feels a slight touch to his neck before falling to the ground in terrible pain, as if his own strength of will was turned inwards, eating his very soul. Although the pain lasts for less than a minute, he finds himself incapacitated from the wounds. Meanwhile, the unseen presence cuts the rope, sending the lantern down towards the climbing pair of Cainites. It hits Fherah, who is soaked with burning oil. Both she and Hector manages to hold off Rötschreck however, and manages to cut off her burning clothes, leaving her naked and severily injured. Upon release from his torments, Castor bursts out, with angry feelings of helplessness. He immediately orders his servants to ready his wagon and sets out from the city. The guards at the gate are even more suspicious, but a considerable bribe eases their suspicions enough to open the gate.

Hector and Fherah manages to climb up, where Vivia has been waiting anxiously. Suddenly two individuals appear, struggling in an effort to clinch each other. One being Aidalos, the other a stranger, whom Fherah recognizes as her attacker. Aidalos yells for them to leave immediately, and the assembled young Cainites doesn’t hesitate to obey. They run out from the building, Fherah carried by Hector, and still without any trace of Raul. They arrive at the haven, where Vivia’s servants have prepared for departure. There is also Sherwin, who understands the need to leave is urgent and hurries to Dougal to make sure they are on their way. Vivia, Hector and Fherah encounter Sherwin and his followers on the street towards the western gate, and are shocked by the large amount of people and wagons, obviously six whole families with wagons and a dozen armed guards. This time the guards are seriously alarmed, especially at the sight of the Christian followers of Sherwin. After a couple of implementations of Dominate, Hector manages to have the gate opened and so the last members of the coterie leave the city.

A while outside the city, they are reunited with Octavius and Castor, and have a small discussion about misunderstandings. Hector informs Octavius about what he have learned, and Octavius decides it’s time to return to Deva. The now enlarged group starts it trek towards Verulamium, which will serve as a stop to replenish their stores. During the trip Vivia notices some strange things around her wagon, and asks Hector for assistance. After investigating he discovers Raul in Vivia’s wagon, but is obviously the only one capable of seeing him. He sees a chance to experiment on the “vanished” Cainite and invites him to his wagon, where he attacks him, trying to drain him of blood. The Caitiff resists and eventually frenzies, replenishing his blood from Hector, without anyone able to interfere. He then flees into the forest, leaving Hector severely drained.

Octavius encounters Khoraxoz, who informs him of the happenings in Deva, and his lack of progress in locating Lucilla. Octavius asks him to deliver a message to Kaeila, giving her mandate to oversee nightly affairs in Deva until his return. Khoraxoz is also able to inform of the location of Marcon, and his intents to leave for the island of Hibernia. Then he leaves. After hearing Octavius wishes to return quickly, Castor invites him to travel together, as he is able to easily create shelter on the road, thus allowing faster travel without wagons. After deciding this, Castor and Octavius leave the others behind and ride quickly towards Deva. Here is where we leave the coterie, for now…

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Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act III, Session I
An Unseen Presence

Our coterie is on their way towards the old capital city of Londinium. They are traveling along the old Roman road from Durovernum, and follow the river Tamesis for the last part of their journey. Octavius is approached by Gaius, who informs him of his decision to return back to Gabaractonum. Octavius thanks him for his help and wishes him good luck, after which the Zealot calls for his ghoul servant Mios and leave the coterie.

A little while later, Castor, who routinely oversees their surroundings through his Way of Spirit, senses something deep beneath the mud in the river. Some kind of torpid body surely rests there. He informs this to Octavius, who remembers the war 160 years ago and of a battle in these parts. Witnesses reported that the “Raging Madman”, Shamshar, were struck down by Eldric here and his body sunk into the river. After some discussion, mostly internal, they decide not to disturb him.

Eventually the coterie, with their gathering of followers, arrive at the small burh, which acts as a gateway to the city from the south. They speak to one of the guards, who informs them that by the kings’ orders, no larger force may enter the city. After some discussion, Octavius agrees, and orders his men to continue west and cross the river by the ferry camp in order to approach the city on the other side. Meanwhile he will enter the city along his companions. Castor mirrors the orders to his men, but decides to bring along his two Slachta War Ghouls, hidden in his wagon. Vivia takes only a handful of servants, mostly male ones, while Hector chooses not take a single ghoul, trusting in the capabilities of Fherah to keep him safe.

As the coterie enters the burh, and cross the bridge to Londinium (after paying the bridge toll), they are spied upon by a curious young Cainite, remarkable for his skills in avoiding detection. He follows them over the river to see where they are headed. After crossing the bridge, Vivia learns that the district holding her former haven has been barricaded and is guarded by armed men. She decides not to lead her companions there, which was the original plan. Castor asks Hector to contact his ghoul servant, Irena, who has been ordered to arrange a temporary haven in the city. After meeting her, she takes them to an abandoned house, once belonged to a grain miller, in the northern district, close to the city wall. The coterie and their servants set upon turning the abandoned house into a working haven.

Octavius consults Vivia upon the nightly affairs of the city. She informs him that with the absence of Eldric and Trebia, the only active Cainite would be the Graverobber Luanna, a Scholar residing in the northeast corner of the city. For the sake of civilities and the possibility of knowing something, she decides to visit her. Octavius writes a letter for her to bring her, informing his wishes to speak with her. Castor, still actively overseeing their surroundings, searches for any possible connections to the old sewer system or the catacombs from their cellar, learning that there is none.

Vivia visits the haven of Luanna, and is greeted by an odd-looking servant before proceeding to the underground level which serves as her “workplace”. The meeting is quite fruitless, seeing as the Scholar is very absentminded about anything not concerning her work. The young, unknown lurker visits Luanna shortly thereafter, asking her of the identity of the newcomers. Receiving an uncertain answer, he decides to watch them for a little while before confronting them. He also speaks with his ghoul friend, Dougal, who informs him of what he knows of the name Octavius. He also tells him of a gathering of soldiers nearing the city from the northeast, which would arrive in a few nights. He has not yet discerned their identity. He also expresses his concerns of the thugs from the western slums, who have made continuous attempts of breaking through the barricades into their district.

Vivia, Hector and Octavius engage in a discussion of personal hygiene, which ends with Octavius leaving the haven to hunt and Hector joining Vivia for a bath. Octavius manages to hunt for sustenance and proceeds to look for an alternative haven, feeling their mutual place being a bit crowded. Castor asks Irena if she knows of an alternative entrance into the city, through which they may allow rest of their followers to enter, and she replies yes, informing him of an entrance through the old sewers in the western slum district. He also speaks with Pernik, who will investigate the city for any useful information.

Hector visits Luanna shortly before dawn, and finds the odd Scholar quite interesting, and receives an invitation to stay in her house for some time. They also talk about their work, with Hector explaining his most recent discoveries from the world of the dead. Luanna explains that her haven and workplace is located directly under, and partially in an old cemetery, with generations upon generations of buried people, from different cultures and races. She is studying the energies of the dead, the pure spirit matter of the cemetery, and it’s effect on her surroundings, and also it’s possible use in experiments. He also finds out that her servants are made up of ghouls and have had their tongues removed, because the “noises was disturbing her”. He then have his possessions moved to his new resting place, and performs a Skull of Warning ritual to guard his haven.

The coterie then goes to rest in their respective havens for the day, awakening with the setting of the sun. Hector and Fherah venture down the streets towards the fort, searching out a royal guard. He talks with the guard, from a safe distance, expressing his wishes to speak with the kings, and is naturally met with suspicion. He tells them his name and wishes for them to inform the kings of his wishes during the day, so that perhaps he will be allowed to meet with them later. Castor meets with Pernik, who informs him of the situation in the city, with the wealthy christian nobles and merchants barricading themselves against the pagan thugs seeking their deaths. He have also heard of the advancing army from the northeast, and offers to investigate it further.

Our young, unknown Cainite investigates the western slums, finding the “fortress” of the thugs, made up from rubble and ruins, and sneaks inside. Their numbers are somewhere between 20 and 30, surprisingly heavily armed, but without any real combat experience, save for a few army veterans. Their anti-christian raids aren’t officially sanctioned by the kings, but since they haven’t condemned them either, they very well could have. He decides to interfere a little, shuffling about some equipment and belongings in hopes to create infighting among them, which would ease the pressure on the Christians. After being satisfied, he leaves to inform Dougal. He is in turn informed of his further investigations on the advancing army, which recently have passed Colnaceaster (the former city of Camulodunum). He believes the army to belong to Raedwald, the King of East Anglia, who is probably on some sort of diplomatic mission to confer with his weaker neighbors, the brother-kings of the East Saxons, Saexred and Saewald. This isn’t necessarily bad, but since king Raedwald is a known and powerful pagan, the future is looking grim for the Christians at the moment.

Octavius searches out Vivia, and speaks to her about Aidalos, the supposed “guardian” of the Throne of Londinium. Seeing that she is the only one with the knowledge to do it, he wants her to Summon him, so that they may speak. After some rather heated discussion, she eventually agrees, and he takes her to his alternative haven where she performs the summoning. They are accompanied by Raul, who has grown rather accustomed to accompany his new mistress. After some waiting, they realize they are joined by an unknown and unseen presence, speaking directly into their minds. After convincing the presence of their noble motives, Aidalos reveals himself.

The conversation that follows is remarkably mysterious, with the Elder Madman obviously reluctant to reveal certain pieces of information. He confirms that the “being” previously known as Rex Noctem is partially located in the city, but has transformed into something else, possessed by a malevolent and ancient force of madness known by the name Naram-Sin, although the name is rather unimportant. Aidalos strongly discourages Octavius to confront it now as it would probably destroy him, perhaps not physically, but permanently nonetheless. He also cryptically adds that Octavius will know when the time to confront him is right. On the issue of the Throne of Londinium, Aidalos only replies that it is allowed for the worthy only to inhabit. After further discussion Octavius realizes that him being in Londinium is probably very much to his enemy’s advantage, and is quite possibly a trap. Deciding he has little more to learn from the Elder, he leaves in the company of Vivia, finding that the body of Aidalos (who they have been talking to), was an apparition of some sort.

Meanwhile, Castor has been meditating in his chambers below the ground, partially sunken into the earth. The curious young Cainite have decided to seek out Vivia, whom he recognizes from her time in the city. He sneaks into the haven, remaining unseen. There he decides to wait for the return of Vivia. As she returns in the company of Octavius, she notices him, and notifies the others. Realizing he has been seen, he immediately reveals himself and apologizes for the intrusion. He introduces himself as Sherwin of Lundon, childe of Yann (whom Vivia remembers as one of the former pretenders to the throne). He explains that he has been living in Londinium for some time now, but now some problems have occurred, which would force him to leave the city. He recognized Vivia whom he has met briefly before, and decided to seek her aid. Octavius leaves the room to prepare for leaving Londinium, deciding he has no time for an extensive interrogation. Castor expresses his concerns of having uninvited intruders skulking about his haven, which Sherwin again apologizes for.

Octavius meets Hector at the entrance, and informs him of his meeting with Aidalos and his decision to leave the city immediately. Before making it more than a few steps from each other, Octavius is attacked by fire-arrows from an unknown bowman. Suffering minor injuries and managing to put out the fires, he tries to advance towards the direction of the shooter, but instead suffers Rötschreck and flees into a building. Hector fails to locate the shooter, instead taking shelter in the haven and uses his Farsight ability to locate Demprios, whom he suspects of being the attacker and confirms the suspicions. Realizing his failure, Demprios sets out to leave the city again. He probes into the mind of the assassin and finds this to be yet another job, and also finds out that the “removal order” on Lancius is no longer active. He speaks into his mind in attempts of intimidation. Castor and Vivia emerge from the basement after hearing the ruckus, with Sherwin sneaking cautiously behind.

After regaining his sanity, Octavius summons Demprios, who has no choice but to return. He is watched by Hector, who informs his movements to Castor, who in turn assumes his Chiropteran Marauder form and takes to the sky. When he nears (cloaking through his mastery of Obfuscate), Hector exits the haven to meet him, and is attacked in return. Demprios briefly loses his concentration to hide, and chooses to attack Hector outright. The fight is short and messy. Through a combination of various Disciplines, sorcery and sheer swordmanship, the lone Leper is surrounded and cut down, eventually meeting Final Death on the muddy ground on a back alley in Londinium. As his undead body crumbles to dust before the eyes of the assembled coterie, we leave their story for the time being…

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Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act II, Session XII
The Final Twitching Movement of Paganism

The dust settles around the ruins of Calleva. Octavius and Hector stands over the staked body of Eldric, watching as the defeated remnants of their foes surrender. From their midst approaches three Cainites. The first one to surrender is Sextius Flavius Trebia, the famous strategist working for Rowena. He offers the remaining soldiers to Octavius as his spoils, and himself as a prisoner, at least until the fate of Rowena has been confirmed. A confident believer in his Via, he refuses to swear any oath which would make him break his previous ones, unless presented with some kind of proof of Octavius accusations against Rowena (for example, her in fact being Lucilla). Castor arrives during the meeting, curious of the actions of their enemies.

The other two are the young Warlords Caratacos and Hildegard. They both submit to the will of victor. Caratacos explains when asked that he followed the will of his Prince, the now destroyed Hefaistios, but still regrets his actions as he never viewed Octavius or his followers as his enemies. Hildegard begs for mercy, and explains her reasons for siding with the enemy; She has had secret relations with Caratacos for several years, and wanted to be by his side, especially during these dark times when one has to guard her allies closely. Hector, quite unsurprisingly expresses his opinions of destroying their enemies, but doesn’t oppose the will of Octavius as he demands the Blood Oath from them in return for his “forgiveness”. Castor is also quite reluctant of trusting them, especially Hildegard whom he views as a cowardly traitor. After swearing their oaths, Octavius sends them back to Verulamium where they will oversee the city’s governance until the awakening of Servilius the Younger.

Gaius stands on the south side of the ruins and cautiously awaits the approaching strangers from the west. As the newcomers see that the fighting has ended they slow their pace, and the leader figure approaches alone. He is a tall, muscular man of Saxon stock, and introduces himself after a brief conversation as Aethelwulf, and came here to find Eldric. After being convinced that the man isn’t an enemy for the time being, Gaius takes him to Octavius, bringing with him the staked body of Godwin, the childe of Eldric. Octavius recognizes Aethelwulf as the childe of his old ally, Caius Tadius Lupus, and they talk for a little while. The young Animal informs them that he has been influencing the West Saxon King Ceolwulf, and that he was heading towards the capital Wintanceaster (Venta Belgarum) when he heard that Eldric was in the area. He hoped to find him here to avenge his sire, but apparently arrived a little late. As a staunch believer in the Cult of Mithras, he immediately recognizes his superior and offers to remain his ally in the area.

As the question of Rowena resurfaces, Castor offers to help them in locating her. They assemble in his wagon, where he performs the Pool of Secrets ritual, and the bowl of water changes to show the astonishingly beautiful Rowena, residing in a place which they eventually manage to locate as the Fort Anderida. When Hector scry her moments later, he manages to pierce her well-crafted illusion and see the true face of Lucilla, as she writes a letter. He tries to read her mind but only manages to catch a glimpse of the recipient of the letter, someone she views as a monster. As he tells this to the others, and Octavius agrees to swear on the truthfulness of his associate, Trebia declares his oath to “Rowena” illegal and accepts the offer of serving Octavius as an ally.

Before continuing their journey, the issues with Eldric and Godwin need to be resolved. Octavius, Gaius and Hector take them into the forest outside the ruins, where they first remove the stake of Eldric. After first healing his wounds, he rises to talk to his “captors”. Octavius immediately informs him of his choices; the first to immediately leave the island, never to return. The other is to journey north, into the Kingdom of Bernicia, where he may battle as he sees fit against the Savages of the area. The third option is immediate destruction, here and now. After a short conversation without much diplomacy from either side, Eldric agrees to journey north “for the time being”, as he puts it. He then leaves the area. The second issue is with Godwin, and he also manages to keep his Beast in check after the removal of the stake. He explains that he followed Eldric into battle in his position as a vassal to Rowena, rather than any real loyalty towards his sire. Also, he admits to underestimating his opponents, believing this was an easy chance to gain status and political leverage against other lords. When faced with the options, he reluctantly agrees to swear a Blood Oath to Octavius in return for his continued position as Prince of Anderida. As they will continue their journey south and probably arrive in Anderida eventually, Octavius orders him to travel with them.

The following weeks are rich with news. Their journey south is delayed by a night, as the Saxon and Jute armies clash south of Calleva. The victor is clearly the pagan elder brother Eadbald, who immediately declares Christianity as a false religion and propose a return to their original pagan ways. However, as his remaining armies are clearly diminished, the Jute overlordship ends and he return to the Kingdom of Kent. The ally of Aethelwald (the losing brother), King Ceolwulf of the West Saxons, is among the slain in the battle, sending the Kingdom into an insecure state since his eldest son and heir is the 13-year old Cynegil. Since Kingdoms of the South Saxons and East Saxons respectively are politically weak, the question arises as who will be declared Bretwalda after the great Aethelbert. Nervous whispers of King Aethelfrith of Bernicia are abound and seems plausible enough.

They visit the court of Prince Cletia of Venta Belgarum, who is very diplomatic in his correct and flamboyant ways. He theatrically mourns the death of Servilius and his own childe, Hefaistios, and also applauds the strength of Octavius’ coterie. He shows a great interest in Octavius plans to create some sort of council to unite the Cainites of Britannia, and offers to oversee the plans in the south, which Octavius welcomes. Vivia takes the opportunity to converse with the well-informed Cainite Elder, who shows great knowledge into the political affairs of mortals and vampires alike. She also completes the Blood Oath of the unsuspecting Caitiff Raul, engaging in “innocent” intimacies with him on a regular basis. Castor, growing ever weaker for each passing night, decides to investigate the whereabouts of his servant, Irena Szantovich. He finds out that she also suffers from the same weakness as he, which has greatly delayed her mission. After having sent Pernik to investigate the city of Dubris (after discovering that the real Rowena had awakened), he returns some nights later in the company of Kyrophastos, with an official truce from the real Prince of Dubris. After further meetings it’s sincerity is confirmed. The coterie also discover that Lucilla has left Anderida, probably due to the discovery of her lie. Her current whereabouts are unknown.

The coterie continues their travels through Anderida, where they successfully reclaim the fortress from Lucilla’s warriors, and discover that Godwin’s adviser, the Gangrel Anois, has been struck into Torpor. They don’t stay in the fort for long, instead continuing their travels after leaving Godwin to take care of his domain. They receive further news from across the country. Seeing the opportunity, the sons of King Saebert of the East Saxons, Seaxred and Saeward, murdered their father and seized control of the Kingdom for themselves. They support paganism and has so far banished the Bishop of Lundon, Mellitus, from the kingdom, forcing him to leave for Gaul. They have also burnt the church in Lundon (Londinium) and started persecutions of Christians across the country.

They eventually arrive in Durovernum, where Castor meets Irena and receives his necessary home soil. Enabling him to return to nightly affairs after a week of solitude. The coterie meets with Prince Arnulf, who shows great despair from the recent turn of events. Octavius and Hector also meet with Gilash, who also takes the present nights with some despair, but also shows a determination to repair what has broken. Gilash also talks with Octavius about clan affairs, but realize they should continue when things have settled. Before continuing towards Londinium (“where the answers lie”), the coterie visits Prince Rowena of Dubris, a meeting which doesn’t provide any real useful new information, as the Elder Artisan is reluctant to share any real insights into the Covenant of Death. Thus the coterie has no choice but to continue towards Londinium, where Act III will begin…

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Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act II, Session XI
Violence and Bloodshed

Our coterie stands in front of Gnaeus Septimus Luca, the Ventrue Methuselah who awoke from the Sleep of Ages in the aftermath of the earthquake caused by Castor’s koldunic magic. In their company is also Lancius, and Octavius asks him about his opinion on Octavius’ future endeavor, and receives a favorable answer, although Lancius will be too preoccupied with other things to involve himself directly. He will, however, write a document which ascertains his approval of Octavius’ plans. When the meeting is over, Luca returns to his haven beneath the ground, after informing that any future contact may be handled by Lancius, and the coterie goes on with various tasks, but most only wait for the arrival of their entourage.

Hector makes contact with Rogar, one of his ghoul servants traveling with the wagons, asking for a status report. He receives information about a large amount of warriors who are following the wagons, probably coming from the city of Londinium. Due to linguistic issues, however, he hasn’t been able to ask details from Zavid Bratovich, the leader of the revenants following Castor. Hector speaks with him in turn, and is informed that the warriors are estimated to number between three and four hundred. Also, one of Zavid’s men and Ymwrayhl have rode ahead to inform their masters in Calleva about the situation.

Vivia speaks with Lancius alone, asking about his situation and various informal matters. He gives his condolences for the death of her sire, and once again approves of her helping Octavius. There is simply too few Cainites in Britannia with noble intentions and ambitions. He wishes her good luck in the future, and hopes to see her again, not too far in the future.

Octavius soon encounters Ymwrayhl and the rider, receiving the same status report. The unknown warriors are traveling about half a day behind their own, who will be arriving in Calleva about daybreak. He gives orders to assume defensive positions as soon as they reach the ruins. He speaks with Hector, who again uses his Auspex Discipline to find out more about the unknown warriors. He manages to catch a glimpse of the Cainites in their company, and with the help of Octavius and simple sense ascertain their identity as Sextius Flavius Trebia, the famous strategist working for Rowena, and the Invincible Warmaster, Eldric. Octavius then goes to speak with Lancius.

The Elder isn’t very surprised about learning that Eldric is marching towards Calleva. According to him, he’s probably returning to finish the business he started the last time. He also hands over the document which he promised earlier. He hopes that the situation could be resolved peacefully, although he has little faith in the diplomatic will of Eldric.

Hector speaks with Trebia through Farsight, asking about their intentions. Although the Artisan doesn’t answer outright he leaves an impression of not being comfortable in his current situation. He’s obviously not the one behind this move. When asked about Rowena, he responds that she has disappeared. The conversation ends without any real progress, save impressions.

The coterie goes to sleep before sunrise. When they wake up, their followers have arrived, and have prepared defensive positions during the day. They receive information that the army of Eldric are stationed half a days journey east, and haven’t started moving yet. Fherah prepares herself mentally in Calleva’s old burial ground, which proves time-consuming. Vivia goes to speak with Imwreigh again, who is surprised to see the Ventrue again so soon. She informs him about the situation, and the Leper decides it is time for him to return to the world again, and offers to find out more about this.

Gaius, Octavius and Hector prepares themselves by exhausting their blood slaves more than usual, waiting anxiously for more information. Hector speaks with Trebia again, and learns that another army is advancing from the south, and is probably going to join their own. He then contacts Luca directly, which isn’t well-received by the Methuselah, who already knows of these turns of events. After speaking with Lancius a little while later, he finds out that neither he nor Luca will confront Eldric, instead choosing to leave Calleva altogether. When learning this, the coterie have a discussion about their course of action. Hector and Vivia vote for leaving, as there is little to be gained in trying to defend withered ruins against an overwhelming force of enemies, while Octavius and Gaius vote for staying here, taking the chance to crush the mayhem Eldric here and now. After failing to reach a unified decision, Hector prepares to leave Calleva by himself (and Fherah).

Imwreigh soon returns, and speaks with Vivia. He informs her that the army from the south is led by Godwin, the ruler of Anderida and the childe of Eldric. There is also a massive force arriving from the west, with unknown Cainite leadership. From the north comes Hefaistios, the Prince of Verulamium with a small personal guard alongside his aide, Caratacos. They seem to be surrounded. Imwreigh says that this is due to a civil war in the kingdom of the West Saxons after the death of King Aethelberth in Dumnonia by Celtic hands. His sons are vying for leadership, with the east faction led by Eadbald, his eldest son, who wants the country to return to their pagan faith and cast out the Christian faith, while the west faction is led by his younger son, Aethelwald, a devout Christian wanting to preserve the faith. The battle between their armies will surely occur somewhere in the area south of Calleva.

When learning this, Hector reluctantly decides to stay, knowing that there is little chance to escape any of these forces. He contacts Hefaistios, who is surprised to hear from him, and informs them of their “choices”. He demands on behalf of him and his “allies” that their coterie leave the south and return to Deva, unless they want to face destruction at the hands of Eldric (who seems to be on favorable terms with the fellow Artisan). The coterie continue to improve their defenses and prepare for battle. A few hours before sunrise, Eldric appear some 650 yards from the ruins and prepare a defensive camp. He has parted from the main force with about a hundred soldiers, about which half are trained ghoul warriors, still a formidable force. They also find out that Hildegard, having been freed from her “duties” by Lancius, have joined with the enemy. Octavius and Gaius set out to meet him halfway, while Hector tries to contact him from afar, but the Elder refuses to speak unless face-to-face.

Eldric proves to be a straightforward person, already set on his course of action. He explains that he is looking for a good fight, and hopes that the residents of Calleva will give him one. No arguments seem to be able to convince him otherwise. He explains that if anyone remains in Calleva by the next nightfall, they will be attacked.

The coterie engage in another discussion when Hector suggests that they themselves attack first before sunrise to catch the Elder unawares. Further intelligence have informed them that Hefaistios and Godwin won’t be arriving until shortly before sunrise. Octavius refuses, saying that such an action would surely be considered a great dishonor, even if it could lead to a great advantage. Hector reluctantly agrees to wait for the next night. The Cainites of Calleva prepare themselves for the next night. Octavius chooses another two soldiers and turns them into ghouls, while Vivia completes her seduction of Raul.

Nightfall hides the sun away, and Fherah prepare herself again, kneeling in the cemetery for an hour after waking. Castor is feeling even more weak tonight, but still prepares his defenses and a nasty surprise for the enemy. Just as the enemies are preparing to attack, he reaches out into the land to call forth a mighty earthquake. It has the desired effect. As the ground shakes and trembles, flying rocks and sharp stone wound the majority of the enemy forces, with Eldric’s ghoul warriors as a notable exception. He doesn’t hesitate to order the attack immediately. Fherah whispers the names of Eldric and Hefaistios into the wind, upsetting their bodily humors. Hector locates Eldric among the rushing warriors and calls forth a weakening curse upon him, before joining the battle. Among the first lines of defense stands Gaius, ready to spread havoc around him, and Octavius, with his third eye shining brightly as he dons the Armor of Caine’s Fury.

The battle is as short as it is bloody. Hector joins the fighting cautiously, managing to get himself staked during the first minutes. He is quickly rescued by Fherah who drags him out and removes the stake before assaulting Hefaistios on the northern flank. After receiving a few blows from the Artisan, she manages to lock him in her grasp and deliver the Kiss of the Dark Mother, instantly sending the “traitorous” Prince to Final Death. His guards turns around in flight as they see their master slain. Gaius frenzies at first, wreaking havoc among the enemy and causing massive casualties before regaining sanity and assaulting the southern flank. He slaughters the remaining enemies before engaging Godwin. Although a formidable opponent, the massive onslaught of the mighty Zealot warrior proves to much for the Artisan, and he is struck down and staked by Gaius as the battle nears it’s end.

Octavius sends himself at Eldric, cutting through his ghoul warriors to reach him. The Elder proves to be a tough opponent even with all the curses cast upon him, and Octavius is nearly struck down by his swift battle-ax. He manages to hold his ground until Hector returns and joins the fight. He manages to immobilize their foe with Rigor Mortis for a second, which is enough for Octavius to deliver the decisive blow. Eldric falls to the ground and is subsequently staked by the victor. The remaining wounded soldiers following Eldric stop, aghast from the sight of their “invincible” master struck down, allowing the dust to settle…

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Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act II, Session X
Revelations and the Methuselah

The center of Calleva is shaking violently and the central ruin is in chaos. Gaius and Pernik both flee from the sight of the flames while Hector and Fherah enter the building, standing firm in the face of Rötschreck. Octavius, Vivia and Raul hurries to the center. Castor, also caught in the Red Fear, transforms into his Zulo Battle Shape and starts tearing down the wall to escape the flames. He barely notices the arrow fired at Lancius, who is trying to access the crevice into which Hildegard fell. The quake throws rocks around the area and walls crumble, causing damage to everyone near the center of Calleva, which the Cainites only manage to survive thanks to their supernatural resistance. During the fight Hector manages to locate the assassin Demprios, who flees after realizing his attempt at Lancius’ unlife has failed.

The remaining Cainites assemble outside the central ruin (which is still aflame), while Hector tracks Demprios through his Farsight Discipline. He makes a few attempts at intimidation by speaking to the retreating Leper, who appears undisturbed. The coterie speaks with Lancius and Hildegard, and the Elder thanks them for helping him. The group is also joined by an unknown “spectator”, an incorporeal shade (which they agree must be a visitor spying on a Anima Walk). Hector, the only one with the ability to enter the astral plane to identify the visitor, refuses to do so because of the danger involved. The “visitor” disappears after a few minutes (perhaps answering Octavius’ request to reveal himself instead of spying). Castor uses his Way of Spirit koldunism and detects movement deep below the earth. He informs this before commencing a Pool of Secrets ritual to allow the others to see the unknown individual. The individual, supposedly a Cainite, is in the process of arming himself with ancient equipment, probably even predating the Roman Republic, which would make him an Elder at the very least. When Lancius looks upon the surface of the pool he is visibly shocked by the vision. He eventually identifies the Cainite as Gnaeus Septimus Luca, his former Mentor and a Methuselah predating the Republic itself. A childe of the Ancient Augustus himself and the Seneshal of Londinium more than 400 years ago. Realising that this might be the now eldest active Cainite in Britannia, both Lancius and the coterie decides to greet him properly upon his emergence. Castor is able to discern the location of the entrance to the caverns and leads them there.

The group of Cainites are instantly struck with awe of the sheer force of personality from the Methuselah, and actually physically pushed away from him at first. He starts by introducing himself, and asking the identity of the assembled Cainites. He recognizes only Lancius in person, but also knows the names of certain sires, namely Servilius and Minerva. He is informed of the current date, and also wishes to know who or what caused the earthquake which awoke him a century earlier than expected. They talk for a while, and he asks about the status of other Elders from his era, with names such as Pompejus, Antonius and Cletia figuring about. Before answering any crucial questions, he explains that he will need the rest of the night alone with Lancius, and that they will meet again after the next nightfall. He then retreats into the cave again in the company of Lancius.

Upon returning, a few recognizes the need to feed, and also the condition of their mounts (as most were seriously wounded during the quake). Octavius heals most of the damage inflicted on his mount through his Valeren Discipline, while Castor offers to help Fherah with hers. She is quite shocked when he invokes his Way of Earth powers and the Earth devours her horse for several minutes before spitting it up again, completely healed. After consulting with Hildegard, they also find out that a small settlement is located southward from the ruins, where there is some feeding opportunities. Hector, Fherah, Castor and Gaius ventures there.

While on “patrol” around the ruins, Octavius is informed by Pernik that a stranger of some sort has approached the ruins, from the north. He soon encounters the stranger, which proves to be a familiar monstrosity, Khoraxoz. After initial greetings, he explains that he feels somehow obliged to “repay” Octavius for his mercy after defeating Valerius Marcon, as well as apologizing for the “misunderstanding”. He also expresses his wishes to continue living in the area near Deva. Octavius sees the opportunity to gain a valuable ally, and agrees with the condition that he acts as an informer to the prince. He also tells Khoraxos about the awakening of Luca, and offers to write him a letter which to present to Morita, concerning Octavius approval of Khoraxoz resettling in the area. The leper agrees and informs that he will leave the following night.

Vivia continues her education of the Caitiff Raul, after realizing that current events effectively hinders the advancement of her attempt at seduction. As usual, he proves to be very perceptive and intelligent.

As Hector and Fherah approach the settlement (arriving first since they are riding), they find that its consisted of a few tents and shacks circled around a quite large fire pit. After some initial approaches, Hector manages to lure one of the guards outside and kill him. With some simple uses of his Dominate Discipline, he then repeats the procedure with the second while the third goes to fetch help. They leave (with the corpses) just as Gaius and Castor arrive. The returning guard and the “healer” are easy matches for the pair and meet their ends just as surely as the first ones. With Castor’s help they find a small cave where they hide the bodies and await the coming of dawn (as they are afoot and can’t make it back to Calleva in time).

At nightfall the coterie awaken, one by one, engaging in various tasks. Fherah consumes the leftover corpses from the previous night while Hector decides to contact his sire. He manages to reach her by Farsight, even though having taken precautions not to be found. She is traveling by a mule when he speaks to her. He asks her about Rowena and tells her about their reasons to suspect that the “Rowena” in Dubris is in fact the impostor Lucilla. She don’t comment about this, but states that Rowena is in fact in Dubris, and very active. He also tells her about Luca, which she finds interesting but not enough to reveal her plans. He ends the conversation without any real answers to anything.

Vivia decides to seek out Imwreigh, whom she finds in his haven outside Calleva. After a brief resume of their previous “debate”, she agrees with him in that a great injustice has been done, and that the ones responsible are unwilling or unable to acknowledge their guilt, except her. He repeats his demand: only the gesture of her kneeling to kiss his feet is enough to convince him of her sincerity. After some internal turmoil, she accepts. The Leper is shocked, mumbles “Excuse me” before returning to his haven. A few moments later Vivia hears muffled laughter coming from the night, and is approached by Khoraxoz. Obviously a witness to her humiliation, he only speaks for a few moments before leaving. When Imwreigh returns, he officially forgives her and thanks her for her sympathy. She leaves the place with a sense of great uneasiness, very aware of her “sin” against her Via, but also with the feeling that it was necessary, if only to “redeem” herself in the eyes of the Leper Community. Any deed that furthers their goals in the greater picture is worth the humiliation, she believes.

Upon awakening, Castor feels even weaker than the previous night, which Gaius also recognizes but decides not to ask about. They return hastily to Calleva, where Octavius encounters Khoraxoz shortly before he leaves for Deva. The coterie warily awaits the arrival of their entourage and the appearance of the Methuselah. The latter happens first. Hildegard informs the group that Luca have arrived in the central ruin and awaits them. When they arrive, he explains that he wants every Cainite in their group to adhere to the meeting.

After gathering everyone, he informs them that he doesn’t want the news of his awakening reaching any possible enemies before he is ready to make his move, and therefore want the gathered Cainites to swear an oath to him, assuring him of their silence. As they one by one swear the oath, they all feel supernatural bonds enforcing their words, with few exceptions. Being the last one, Hector decides to refuse. He debates the issue with the Methuselah, explaining his reasons for doing so and standing firm on his decision. Luca, obviously unhappy with the disrespect showed towards him, engages in a test of will, locking gazes with the Graverobber. After “passing” the test, Luca lets the matter go and proceeds with other matters.

Octavius tells him about Shaqifa’s vision, and asks him to shed any light onto it. Hector also shows him the “document” which Abrachoz tried to steal from Minerva’s library. Luca tells that he fears that the document might be a Covenant of Death, a kind of magically enforced contract mainly used by the Warlords of ancient times. The document is produced by a complicated ritual known only to certain Cappadocians, and the entire practice was banned for more than 1000 years ago. An agreement between Japhet of Clan Cappadocian and Collat of Clan Ventrue signed then states that anyone forging or using such a document will become targets of a Blood Hunt if exposed. Luca agrees with the coteries beliefs of parts of the vision implicating that Marcon, Rowena and Varro all have been practicing the forbidden art, and with Minerva as the forger of the document. On the question of who the “great shadow” in the vision might be, Luca’s only plausible explanation is an Elder Madman named Rex Noctem, whom once confided in Luca the possibility of him being the childe of Naram-Sin, which might prove the existence of the ancient Methuselah…

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Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act II, Session IX
The Slaver and the Disturbance

The coterie is on the move, and the mortal followers have orders to only stop for a brief time during daylight to speed up the journey. Fherah receives information from Zavid that a camp of some sort is located ahead, and rides forth to investigate. Hector is approached by Borwald, who informs him that some of the men are longing for a prepayment from their salary, if only to bolster their morale. Octavius have a conversation with Huril, the last remaining Ghoul servant of Coramius encountered the previous night. After the conversation, Huril agrees to return to Glevum, with Octavius’ expressed apologies for the misunderstanding to his master. Gaius meets Pernik for the first time and is introduced. Castor starts to feel his land pulling for him, and feels very unease. Vivia starts the tutoring of Raul, asking him questions of his past and his abilities to discern his capabilities. She also decides to seduce him to ease the administration of the Blood Oath, and starts making some discreet moves. With the help of Castor’s koldunic rituals, the coterie is also able to discern the identity of the camp ahead, as Octavius recognizes the head as Elsbhec, the infamous Nosferatu Slaver.

The coterie meets with Elsbhec after reaching her, to purchase both slaves and information. After receiving a few gold pieces, the Slaver informs them that Demprios, the Leper Assassin, met with her while on his way to Calleva the previous night. With some swift conclusions they agree that this must be the same Leper that Octavius met back in Verulamium a few nights ago. Hector and Octavius arrange a deal with Elsbhec, by offering her a total of 10 warriors from Hector’s “mercenary army”, to handle as she pleases, and also paying a small amount of gold in between, they gain 5 conditioned slaves, and also receive one “free gift” as they mention the name of Shaqifa. Gaius also buys two slaves for his own use. As the others close the deal, Vivia also visits the Leper to replace a pair of missing vessels from her herd, and is charged a hefty amount from her treasury, probably due to her “reputation” among Britannia’s Lepers. As the business is finished, they continue their journey, until they reach a raft point where Octavius uses his Presence Discipline to obtain free transportation across the Tamesis.

While the others are crossing the river, Hector decides to cut down his expenses while also aiming to claim a few new ghoul guardians. He coerces the remaining Saxon mercenaries into a “tournament” with sharp weapons, where the survivors would be awarded a large sum of money. The slaughter takes place and afterwards 3 men remain; named Ida, Alric and Ulw, all with convincing injuries. After some debate and persuasion, they agree to sup on his blood, becoming his ghouls. The fights are witnessed by Gaius for a while, after he bores and proceeds to cross the river. Afterward, Hector drains the remaining blood from the corpses and fills his wagon with as many as he can, before he also proceeds onto a raft and crosses over. Meanwhile, Fherah takes a bath with Vivia and have her clothes “taken care of”, gaining some replacement quite unfit for a warrior. Castor uses his Pool of Secrets again to try and discern the location of Demprios, and comes to the conclusion that he hasn’t reached Calleva yet. The coterie meets to plan, and they decide that they will leave the men and wagons behind first thing next nightfall, and ride forward to Calleva, in order to arrive as soon as possible. Castor offers himself to fly ahead to reach the ruins tonight already (using his Chiropteran Marauder form), while the others prepare for a hasty departure the following night.

Castor reaches Calleva shortly before dawn, and meets with Lancius and his adviser, Hildegard. He informs them about the impending arrival of Octavius and his followers, along with Lancius’ childe, Gaius. He also tells him about Demprios’ assignment from Rowena. Lancius thanks him for his help, and offers him a haven in his ruins, wherever he may wish. They retreat before dawn. Castor resumes his conversation with Lancius at nightfall, discussing different matters. Using his Way of Spirit sorcery, Castor is able to locate a lone Leper nearing the ruins. After giving the description to Lancius, he is informed that it would be Imwreigh, the grieving Leper living outside the ruins. Hildegard joins them shortly before he arrives. He proves to be very rude and shaken, as he asks Castor if he is traveling with the Murderer, Vivia Valerius Vetus. He answers yes, after which the Leper leaves, and Lancius tries to talk with him, without success. He tells Castor that Imwreigh is the childe of Symeon, who died in a tragic event some 150 years ago, and that Imwreigh haven’t been able to handle his grief.

Octavius, Gaius, Hector, Fherah and Pernik arrive in Calleva, where they encounter Imwreigh at the entrance to the ruins. He is visibly upset, demanding to know where the Murderer is. As Octavius isn’t very fond of appeasing the needs of unknown lunatics, he is returned with an array of insults, which nearly sends him into frenzy. He decides to stay at the entrance while the rest continue towards Lancius. Hector quickly uses his Farsight Discipline to warn Vivia of what awaits her. She arrives shortly after the others, in the company of Raul and one of her ghoul bodyguards. She is instantly approached by Imwreigh, who yells insults and accusations at her, demanding her to show regret. After asking him what would please him, he responds that if she would kneel on the ground and kiss his feet, he would accept her plea for forgiveness. They try to convince him that time is short, but he refuses to settle with anything lesser than the gesture he demands, or the promise of the same. Eventually she refuses, after which he grows silent and leaves. Suddenly they feel tremors in the ground, after which they decide to hurry towards Lancius.

While waiting in Lancius’ “haven”, Castor suddenly notices the smell of oil in the air. Before having time to do anything else except yelling “Get out of here!”, fire leaps from the ground near the entrance and grows nearer with alarming speed. Castor quickly takes to the most powerful weapon in his arsenal, Kupala’s Fury. As he directs his will, the ground starts to rumble, the floor cracks and parts of the walls and ceiling crackles. Small burning parts of hay and debris flies across the room and start fires in the midst of the assembles cainites. Hildegard falls through a crack in the floor into a basement, while Castor falls to the ground. Lancius manages to stay on his feet while attempting to put out the fires. Castor joins him in the effort, the ground still shaking, and manages to put out one fire before succumbing to Rötschreck.

As Hector, Gaius, Fherah and Pernik reach the center building, they are surprised by the sudden quake after dismounting. Hector falls to the ground, Gaius and Pernik rushes inside while Fherah stands guard over Hector. Encountering the flames inside, Gaius succumbs to Rötschreck, rushing back out to safety, all while Octavius, Vivia and Raul ride forth to assist their companions. This is where we leave the coterie, for this time…

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