Prologue: Drury Lane, Scene II (Michael)

"It's an invitation, boss. To the same exclusive club she wanted you for." The voice said, thick with disgust. "As though the stupid young pup had something to teach an old dog like me."

"Don't flatter yourself, boss." Monty said sharply. "I'm still deciding whether you're a threat or a present. You're definitely new, boss. Which is lucky for you, I like new things."

"Royston Montjoy?" Theo said quietly, staring at Michael in confusion. This was opening Theo's mind to entirely new vistas, if, that is, he survived the experience.

"The one and the only. See, boss? Someone still appreciates the classics."

"I'm neither a threat or a present, since I'd have to stick around to be either," Michael answered, starting to get irritated with this self-important ghost. Montjoy might have been a great actor in his time - Michael didn't know enough about him to be certain - but now he was just a great, big pain. "But since I've delivered your letter, I'll let you rest in peace," he added, the pun an unintentional coincidence.

He walked over to Theo and knelt by his side as the director realised who Michael had been talking to. "Yeah, its him," Michael said, after Montjoy confirmed it. He had hopped that wouldn't happen... but it was too late to think about that. He'd just have to deal with it, now that it had. "
Michael is using his Gift, The Right Words. +2 to all Social roles made to encourage or mollify. Hope I'm using it right. Hmm, is that +2 dice, or plus two automatic successes?
Listen to me, Theo. You are going to be okay. In a few hours, we'll be looking back at this and wondering why we were so worried, okay?" He hoped that it would work, that encouraging Theo would help get them out of here.

Turning back to where the voice was coming from, over his shoulder Michael said, "I hope you and Penrose are happy working together. God knows, I want nothing to do with her again." Since Montjoy was undecided, Michael hoped that showing his disapproval of her might win him some brownie points.

"Alright." Theo said, lips pale in the darkness. He must have been in pain, so much of it. "Just... do what you have to. Get us out of here."

"Why, boss, are you going somewhere?" The evil-sounding voice chuckled, and one had to admit that it had a point. "Some pressing appointment with your manicurist?"

Michael was trapped in an old-fashioned elevator shaft thirty feet below a closed trap door. And while Michael could, perhaps, have climbed out (for the walls were rough and uneven), doing the same while Theo Alexander was holding onto him would have been... problematic. There were doors on the lower level, though who knew where they led, and breaking them open without revealing Michael's inhuman nature to Theo would've been challenging in the extreme. On the other hand, Michael wasn't precisely spoiled for choice?

"I want to stick your lovely face in a piranha tank. I want to apply an acid glaze to your sculptured body. I want to throw your pocket mirror under a thresher and watch you fetch it. But I'm not butcher, boss." Monty's voice crooned, the hate carved in jagged letters in the air. He paused, and his next words were entirely too gloating for Michael's comfort. "Are you?"

"No, I just find that the company here isn't to my taste," Michael retorted. He would have liked to give the ghost a good tongue lashing, but verbal retorts weren't a strong point of his. Tomorrow he would probably have thought of several scathing replies, but he needed time to think them up - so they wouldn't be much use. They'd still drive him crazy, though.

Turning back to Theo, he said, "This might hurt. But I'll get us out of here, and we'll go to the hospital. And then I'll make it up to you. How about dinner?" he asked. It was perhaps a strange time to ask, while trapped in a theatre basement with a hostile ghost, but hopefully it would help distract the director as Michael lifted him and headed towards the door. As Montjoy continued to talk, Michael rolled his eyes. "And I want a puppy, but you don't hear me going on about it," he snapped back. "No, I'm not a butcher. I'm an actor," he quipped. Then he shifted his attention back to Theo. "I'm going to have to break down a door. It probably doesn't look like I can, but I will. I just... you don't need to be scared, okay? When you're with me, you're safe," he promised.

"All action and no talk, boss?" Montjoy said sweetly, his hoarse, rasping voice sounding amused. "Fine. By. Me."

"If we get out of here, I'll pay for your meals for a week." Theo muttered, starting to desperately regret that he'd showed much interest in where Michael was going. This had all gotten too terrifying, too unnatural, all too quickly. "What do... nevermind, just do it. We'll talk la-- what the hell is that?!?"

Theo half-screamed the last words, and pointed upwards, into the darkness. For something was flowing out of the one open door, a rotted figure clad in rags and tatters. It was hard to make out in the darkness anything more than some great, black, shape, flowing down the side of the pit. Every so often, Michael would catch a glimpse of some corpse-grey arm or foot.

"Is that your final answer, boss?" Royston Montjoy said as he reached the floor of the elevator shaft. The corpse-monster drew itself up to full height, a dead thing clad in a tatterdemalion collection of costumes and fabric, looking like some demented harlequin. The face was hidden, wrapped in folds of cloth and concealed beneath the mask of Comedy. "Lay on, Macduff, And Damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'"

There was a soft hiss, and Michael caught the glimpse of light from a blade. A sword.

Roll Initiative. If you equal or exceed 12, you may move. Montjoy has Defense 4 and no armor.

What kind of ghost was this guy? Michael wondered. Montjoy didn't act like a typical ghost... so maybe he could be hurt in ways that wouldn't hurt a typical ghost? Looking around all Michael saw was the stool that Theo had crashed into. "If I remember correctly, Macduff kills... that Scottish guy in the end," Michael said, careful not to use the character's name - like he needed more bad luck right now. Grabbing the stool, Michael hurled it at the collection of rags that was Montjoy. His breath caught as he waited to see if it worked. He didn't have many other options - he would really rather not shapeshift or control fire in fron of a human unless he really had to.

Montjoy takes 1B damage.

The stool was neither a graceful nor an aerodynamic weapon, but it did the trick, bouncing off Montjoy's shoulder with a satisfying thud. The ragamuffin-monster that was Montjoy took a step back, and it was apparent that whatever else, he was physical, made of flesh and blood.

"That doesn't bother me, boss." Sir Royston Montjoy said, and he struck, the chill steel biting into Michael's chest. "I'm already dead."

Montjoy was fast. He was supernaturally fast, nothing mortal could move like that. He flowed like a shadow through the darkness, his sword flicking out like the tongue of some malign serpent, hissing through the air. The wound he carved on Michael's chest was shallow, but it was deep, a series of zigzagging cuts that sliced through shirt and skin alike. A jagged M, cut onto Michael's chest, for all to see.

"What the hell what the hell what the hell." Theo gibbered, having fallen against the wall of the pit, mouth open and eyes staring. Unlike the other two, he couldn't see what was going on, not more than vague shapes, but he could hear. And he could see that steely sword darting about. "Michael what the hell is he?! I can't see anything!"

"Are you sure you want to, boss?" Monty said, enjoying this. He slid past Michael, and Theo screamed, blood streaming through his hands. "You don't want my image in your subconscious. It's the stuff nightmares are made of."

Michael takes 4L damage. Theo takes a further 2L damage.

The surge of triumph at hitting Montjoy was short lived. What had he really thought a stool was going to do? He had barely completed the thought before the sword was lancing into his flesh. He gasped in pain, and he knew that was it. He'd have to Change in front of a human and worry about it all later. So he started the change, fur exploding out through his skin in an instant - it took just a split second, and Michael was in Gauru form; half-way betwen man and wolf. As Montjoy went for Theo, Michael cried, "Get away from him!" and, with a snarl or rage, leapt at Montjoy, feeling his claws connect - and a surge of vicious satisfaction. He was going to tear this ****er to pieces.

Two successes, baby! 2L damage.

Also: total damage taken so far is 2B from the fall and 4L from the sword.

Theo screamed again, his vocal cords gone ragged and hoarse from the sheer terror the poor man was being subjected to. He scrabbled away from Michael, his terror of whatever undead horror Montjoy was replaced wholly by the primal fear of the werewolf. Bloody hands left tracks on the wall, as Theo fell, and collapsed into a whimpering pile on the ground.

Montjoy hissed, and then he sprang back, the claws neatly shredding his tatterdemalion costume, biting into the flesh. Except... Montjoy did not bleed. It was like carving into old wood. But he sprang back, fast as a lynx, and then he ran. The monster leapt up onto the wall, scuttling up the side towards the black portal from which it came, moving significantly less gracefully than it had before. It was favoring its left arm, but this didn't matter, it climbed those walls like a spider.

"Too bad I'm already Damned, eh, boss?" Montjoy said, chuckling. "And so are you..."

Then silence fell, and he was gone.

As Montjoy fled, Michael breathed a sigh of relief as he transformed back into human form. Once all the fur was gone, he looked down at the tattered remains of his clothing and sighed again. He'd only just bought those jeans... but then Theo's screams grabbed his attention, and Michael bent down beside him. "Theo! Calm down. He is gone. Its okay. I told you, when I'm with you then you're safe. Right?" he said, hoping that he'd get through to the director. What the hell could he do to make all of this up to him?

"Just stay here while I get the door open, okay?" Michael said to the director, then went to examine the door. He'd have to smash it to get out, so he gave it a kick as hard as he could and prayed that nobody heard it.


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