by Damien Moore aka. Sean O'Connell (30 Oct 93)
The castle lay burning, its once proud defenses strewn to the side by the anarch attack. Montano's now-sardonically named 'Victory' Corps lay defeated, either staked, or decapiated, or in some cases, even fled.
The non-anarch clan members, or at least those who has not yet passed the threshold of Final Death, were chained, bound in not simple iron, but also in chains of spirit, chains forged by the Tremere anarchs, chains that stole the very hope from the hearts of those captured.
Gratiano smiled mirthlessly at the sight of his 'brother', Montano, his dark skin broken and bruised by the force required to capture him. And yet, the smile faded, as Gratiano saw that the fire and defiance remained within those dark eyes.
He turned, and looked at the still form of Lasombra himself, drained of blood, parched of Vitae, helpless, destroyed. He has helped the anarchs to achieve this, and the rewards would be his.
"M'lord, what would you have we do with the body?". A young Childe, newly released from his Sire, stood at his side.
Gratiano considered, then smiled again. "Throw it on the fire, making sure that they", he pointed at the chained Kindred, "see that he is destroyed."
"Your will, m'lord."
A pair of anarch Childer dragged the antediluvian body roughly across the paved courtyard, making sure to hit it roughly against the many pieces of rubble, and broken spars. In front of Lasombra's bound childer, still crackling, a small shed smouldered, occasionally throwing up flames.
"1, 2, 3, heave!", the limp body flew across the gap, and landed on the burning wood. One of the Tremere jestured, and the flames roared high, banishing shadows from the courtyard. A moan rose from the chained Cainites, and their final hope died, as the flames engulfed their founder.
But one voice was not part of the joint mourning.
"Traitor!", Montano roared. He leapt to his feet, braced his arms, and the mystic chains binding him shattered like fine china. Montano lunged forward, Gratiano yelled in terror. And he was gone. The shadows themselves swallowed Lasombra's african Childe.
Gratiano panted heavily, a reaction to the sudden fear. He had seen Montano's hands wrap around his heart, and then disipate.
A spar collapsed, under the weight of the body above it. Lasombra's form charred, and ignited over the burning shed. Isabella dropped her hands into her face, her chains clinking. And yet... She glanced up, not at the fire itself, but at the dancing shadow, caused by Gratiano's arrogant and gloating form. The shadows moved again, and she saw.
Lasombra himself stood there, burnt, but whole, and conscious. His eyes sought Isabella's, and his head dipped once, in acknowledgement, and he was gone.
She understood Montano's actions now. The sigils on the chains around her wrist melted and dissolved, their initial grasp upon her soul shattered.
Isabella drew upon her Vitae, which gave her strength, and destroyed the chains binding her. The shadows were but a thought away.