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Chapter 1

Islington fumed. His window to the world, allowing him to keep tabs on his thugs, and his patsies, though he didn’t like to think of them that way, showed him quite clearly the destruction of the Blackfriars Abbey. This was intolerable. He’d planned for everything. He was quite confident in the trio’s ability to get the key. He knew the three challenges, Hunter would easily pass the first, Door was certainly clever enough to decipher the riddle, and Richard, though he did not yet know it, was infinitely strong enough to withstand the ordeal.

Once they’d gotten the Key, Croup and Vandemar would bring it, and Door to him. They’d already dispatched the Marquis, and Richard would never be able to get past the beast. Door would get him home, and all would be right with the world.

But this, this was completely unexpected. Someone, or something had slaughtered the Blackfriars, but had not gotten the key. He took a deep, calming breath. That was the key thing, no pun intended. Whoever it was, had not gotten the key. It was still out there, somewhere. The Friars had hidden it. He just had to find out where. But first…

Poor Mr. Croup, he’d been so looking forward to springing the trap. He’d been so patient thus far. Well he’d just have to wait a little bit longer was all. The pair were not to take Door until she’d found the key. And she hadn’t yet. They would just have to wait. But where could the key have got too?


“Mom,” Buffy explained impatiently. “It’s a date. You don’t bring your little sister with you on a date.”

“Oh please,” Dawn huffed. “Like you do anything anyway. You go kill Vampires. Big whoop.”

“Hey,” the slayer cried defensively. “Riley and I do lot’s of…” She saw the look her mother was leveling at her. “Wholesome, chaste things.”

“Good.” Joyce said. “Then you won’t mind taking your sister along.”

“Mom,” Buffy began.

“Buffy please!” Joyce snapped, the pain in her head getting worse. “I don’t ask much of you. Get your sister home by eight and then do your, wholesome chaste things.”

Buffy could see that further arguments were only going to aggravate the situation. “Fine.”

The two sisters exited the house, bickering already. Joyce let out a sigh, which gave way to a faint whimper of pain.


Breathing was painful. What with the still healing slit in his throat, and a double lungful of brackish water only recently expelled. Plus the numerous other wounds dotting his body. But De Caribas was grateful for the pain. It meant that he was alive. Once again, careful manipulation and long term thinking had carried the day once again.

“You know,” Old Bailey said thoughtfully. “I’ve always wondered what it was like on the other side.”

“Wait long enough and you’ll find out for yourself.” The Marquis said quietly. “It’s very cold my friend. And dark. And very cold.


With a roar of frustration, Croup smashed the phone against the desk, then followed through by smashing the desk itself. He wished he had something living to vent his frustrations on, it was a shame they’d killed the Marquis so quickly.

Vandemar watched, his face blank, his arms crossed sulkily. “No key.” He muttered.

“No there’s no bloody key.” Croup snapped. “We’ve waited long enough Mr. Vandemar. We did not get to our current social standing by waiting did we?”

Vandemar said nothing. He recognized the question as rhetorical.

“No we are not waiters.” Croup continued. “We are not scavengers waiting for the alpha predators to finish with their meal. We ARE the alpha predators Mr. Vandemar. We are hunters. And it is time we were more pro-active in our endeavors.” He headed for the door.

“Where’re we goin’?” Vandemar asked.

“What is the first thing a body should do when searching for an object it has lost Mr. V? Check the last place it was. To the Abbey. There we shall begin our own hunt for this precious key.

To Be Continued…