The stairway clutched the cliff face rising into the dense forest canopy and rising above the trees. The ancient steps led to a series of switchbacks, then higher into the gaping mouth of a cave. The floor smooth and polished, overlooking the seemingly endless valley of autumn colours.

Matis threw off his hood. A single figure in a brown cloak. He was greeted by four others in brown cloaks. They surrounded a fifth crooked figure in a blue cloak. An exceptionally tall and stubbornly old man threw back his own hood. His stringy white beard reached past his naval.

Matis kneeled. “They are coming, my Master. They have new allies. Agents from the Underground. A vampire investigator and a Dwerg-Spawned Hybrid. What is the will of the Gods?”

The Master sighed. “Our time is up. We must prepare.” He cast a leering yellowed eye at Matis. “Thank you, brother. The Gods have truly blessed us with this warning.”

Thank me later, you piece-of-shit. The hooded figures fled into the cave. Their hideout for many years.

An arm reached out and grabbed Matis from the shadows. He was pulled by the collar into the shadows. Lips slammed into his.

He knew who it was and leaned into it.

He could smell pine on Cesare’s clothes.

They broke their embrace.

Cesare smiled up at Matis. His brown hair in a curling mess. His face seemed to say. I missed you.
Matis did miss him. He really did. His chest jumped into his throat. Matis swallowed and wished the fates had been kinder to them.

Soon I’ll betray the cult to the authorities… And Cesare with them…


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