“That’s your plan?” Ernest shuffled his feet, and his eyes shifted from me, to Frans, to Diana, to the prophet and his bodyguard. “Sneak into the prince’s castle and save the kindred she has staked there as her Gehenna-survival snacks.”
I scowled. “Do you have a better idea?”
“I just…” He shrugged. “I just hoped your plan would be more detailed.”
As he and Frans started to question Diana about entrances and escape routes, I looked at the prophet. He was a man, living and breathing, but he seemed something more somehow. There was a serenity about him I had never seen before. He was convinced of his faith, as if he knew god personally. I had never believed in god or my immortal soul. Until now.
It wasn’t much of a plan, to be honest. I never was a planning mastermind, that was Ralph. Ralph was the one who always figured out what to do. And Ralph was one of the staked kindred I intended to save.
Strangely enough, the security on the prince’s fortress wasn’t as tight as I had expected. Foresight, the prince’s personal security agency, didn’t have cameras all around like they usually would. Getting over the fence and in through the pantry door was easy. Too easy.
Ernest and I put on our unseen presence and stalked to the room where Diana knew Ralph and the others were being kept. The guards seemed bored. They complained to each other that the “stakehouse” didn’t need much guarding. On my signal, Frans called some of his rats into the courtyard and as the guards walked away to check on that noise, we guided the prophet and his bodyguard into the room.
The lights were off so I used my flashlight. The room was tiled white, much like a restaurant’s freezer. But instead of shelves with meat, there were kindred standing along the walls. Each of them a blank stare and a stake driven through their heart. I recognised most of them. CJ the rich kid Bruja, David the reverent, Sam the Gangrel with the leopard spots, Sjors the Bruja youngster who was trapped under the wing of a Toreador who liked to dress her. And in a corner, Ralph with his gangly long hair and deep eyesockets, and Charles, still wearing his black balaclava.
A deep sigh escaped Ralph’s lips when the stake was removed. He staggered backwards against the wall and Ernest started to rattle about how we had found him. I removed the stake from Charles’ chest and pulled his body armour back into place as he groaned.
“I’m here for you, Charles. I came to save you.”
“I knew you would, Belle.” His raspy voice reassured me, as it always did.
Diana and the prophet’s bodyguard were removing stakes from the others. There wasn’t much to explain. They all remembered the time they were staked. Sjors started to furiously remove earrings and jewellry, angry that her tormentor had made her up like a fucking christmas tree. I helped pull the shiny baubles from her hair. When the guards came back, muttering that it was just rats, really big rats, they were in for a surprise. Though the prophet urged us not to kill them, some of the famished kindred did snack on them for a bit. Then it was time to leave.
When we lead the group back to the low part of the fence we had climbed, we found ourselves faced with an invisible wall.
“It’s a magical ward.” Reverent David said as he scanned the grounds. “Martel and his Tremere playthings must have pulled this up. Looks like it’s all around the grounds. Anything can go into the castle, but kindred cannot leave.”
CJ and some other Bruja pounded the invisible wall. A tall woman tore a piece of the fence off and flung it away. It passed right through the wall.
Ernest and Charles turned to Ralph. “Now what?”