Re-united at their office, the pack discuss the night’s events. Lewis describes the demonic aspects of the vamp, whilst throwing up ash and charcoal as his body purges itself of its malignant energies. Summer slumps next to him and examines her wounds, causing Denton to spray his hot chocolate.
“Does silver normally hurt this much?” she asks, wincing.
“Indeed, it would appear that the popular myths about silver are quite correct”, says Vellum, entering the room carrying the scrolls. “After I first trasformed, I conducted some experiments to ascertain the truth of the matter. The results were …unpleasant. I shall not be conducting that experiment again.”
“You did what?!”
“The wounds will heal eventually. In the meantime, I recommend bonjella – it is an effecting numbing agent”, continues Vellum, unperturbed by the shocked stares from his pack-mates.
Summer takes out the blade that inflicted her injuries and the pack discuss what do do with it. Summer wants it destroyed, Vellum favours giving it to a museum or keeping it stashed away incase it becomes useful, Lewis suggests that it could be useful as crimage for a spirit and Denton advocates concealing it within the Trod (the extra-dimensional pathway in the tunnels under their lair which links to Colorado). Until a consensus is reached, it is hidden in the freezer.
Vellum heads up to his rooms and copies the scrolls, taking several photographs of each one to ensure that he has every detail recorded.
Lewis selects one of his suits and takes it to Chad the ghoul, along with a bucket of hot water, soap and a sponge. Their ‘guest’ is jittery and mildly feverous, suffering from vitae withdrawal. Lewis explains to him that his previous patron was tainted by a demon-spirit and has been destroyed. He also instructs Chad to clean himself up and don the suit, as he is going out to the Velvet Gown. Chad perks up considerably at the prospect of a new source of vitae and an opportunity to be out of his cell and into a nightclub.
Denton finds it difficult to sleep with the buzz of Lila’s vitae still running through him and decides to do some research on Rupert Winterblack. Internet searching just reveals the he runs an influential finance company so he sends some requests to his contacts at Network Zero.
Summer is kept awake with worry for the safety of her friend Taylor and so decides to perform a spell in an attempt to decern whether he is OK. She lights a candle and stares into the smoke, meditating on a picture of Taylor. Her divination shows her that Taylor is wounded but not in mortal danger, and indicates that he is holed up in a hotel with someone (probably Zack).
Once the documents are safely copied, Vellum attempts an arcane working based upon his research in to the mysteries of chronomancy. Staring into the recent history of the scrolls, he sees that when they arrived in London a few days ago they were switched with an object that was in a virtually identical storage case (blurry and indistinct in the vision, but probably the statue). The figure who conducted the switch was also blurry but Vellum was able to determine that he had dark hair and a tanned completion and that he seemed hurried and somewhat panicked.
Lewis heads to club with Chad and is greeted by Terrence on arrival. They are ushered through to see Lucinda and Lewis introduces Chad to her. The head of the Camarilla greets Chad warmly (and Lewis suspects that she also uses a subtle influence on the jittery ghoul to relax him). Once Chad is out the way, Lewis explains that the ghoul’s previous ‘patrons’ were subordinates of Lucinda’s who seem to have been hosts to demonic spirits, and who are now no more. He also says that one of them claimed to have been sired by ‘Victor Chastain’, a name which provokes a flicker of reaction from Lucinda; before she smoothly covers her reaction with a poker-face, Lewis glimpses an expressiion of hatred at the mention of that name.
The next morning Vellum phones Phillip Travers and arranges to meet at one of the reading rooms of the British library. A couple of hours later they both arrive and greet each other nonchalantly and Vellum hands Travers a case containing the scroll, which pleases and impresses the Watcher considerably.
Denton wakes and as soon as his early-morning cigarette has revived his senses he logs on to his PC and checks the responses from his Network-Zero contacts. It seems that the word in conspiracy-theory circles is that Winterblack belongs to a group called the Wren Masons, who are associated with geometry, mathematics, architecture and geology. The group is apparently similar to the stonemasons, but focus on achieving power through secrets hidden in the architectural works of Christopher Wren and other enlightened architects.
Remembering that there is currently an architectural convention being held in the city, Denton decides to infiltrate it in the hopes of finding a connection.
He quickly usurps the identity of Professor Anthony Warwick from the University of Reading, hacks the convention guest list, bluffs the organiser in to believing that he is a prestigious speaker and arranges to give a seminar later that morning, and finally plagiaries a thesis on echoes of socialism in modern architecture to present.
Once she has fortified herself with Vellum’s bacon, Summer rings Taylor. He says that he is fine, and puts off her requests to meet, bluffing (unconvincingly) that he is too busy. Her sharp ears pick out the name of the hotel as in it uttered in the background by a receptionist answering the phone however. After a few moments of deliberating, she resolves to track down the hotel.
Denton explains his plan to Lewis as he dashes out of the office, and Lewis follows him (since his experience of the convention yesterday could be very useful).
Meanwhile, Vellum is instructed by his boss Helen McCannick to go in her place to observe a seminar as the British Library’s representative at the architecture convention, following ‘some last minute changes to her schedule’.
As they arrive at the convention, Denton suddenly realises that the academic whose thesis he is going to read is on the guest list. Lewis steps in and manages to bluff the academic in to sitting with him to discuss various architectural principles that he learned about from Simon Ellesworth, diverting the professor from entering the seminar room.
Denton walks onto the stage and gives lecture that is surprisingly full of academic flair. Throwing in ideas as diverse and the influence of Ann Rand (‘Randyism’, leading to ‘Randy building designs’), Simon Ellesworth, and various mathematical jargon about the golden ratio and vesica piscis; he somehow manages to convince that audience that his ideas are fresh and revolutionary (to the bemusement of Vellum).
As they mingle after the lecture, Vellum and Lewis spot Winterblack as he heads into a meeting with various construction financiers.
Denton falls into discussion with one of this new academic fans, who leads him out of a side door of the convection centre towards a cafe that apparently sells excellent sandwiches.
At the same time, Summer arrives outside; by coincidence, the hotel in which Taylor is staying is opposite the convention centre.
At this point several things happen in quick succession:
A black van pulls up on the street next to Summer
Vellum leaves the building and turns down a side-street, taking the fastest route back to the Library
Lewis notices that several figures in the crowd are in fact winding path cultists from the previous night; he hastily writes out a warning message for Winterblack, and passes it to one of Winterblack’s aides
Summer glimpses Taylor crossing the lobby of the hotel towards the door, followed by Zack
Lewis calls a warning to Denton via his ear-piece, and leaves the bulding via a fire-escape into a alleyway
The doors of the black van open, and Summer suddenly finds herself cornered by winding path followers
The man leaving the building with Denton suddenly swings a punch at him