William then followed the ash-trail in the other direction, towards the beach. On the way there, passing one of High Bleymouth’s many abandoned buildings, he heard a sound like a pebble falling down a flight of stairs. He went to investigate, but managed to accidentally break one of the rotten wooden stairboards. He heard a noise like someone dropping a LOT of pebbles, then a smashing of glass.
He ran up the stairs in time to find someone in an anorak and tweed skirt climbing out of the window. Unable to use Dominate due to the lack of eye contact, he drew his gun on her. As she turned around slowly with her hands in the air, he recognised Old Maud, one of his superiors in the Ordo. Strangely, she seemed disinclined to challenge the young whippersnapper who had pointed a gun at her- her face looked almost guilty. She was also rather reluctant to be drawn into conversation on why she was scattering sea pebbles and bits of sea glass across a geometric design chalked onto the floor. A quick glance showed William that the diagram was very similar to ones he had seen in Ordo Dracul textbooks on methods of finding Dragon’s Nests.
Maud did suggest that maybe William might like to come to tea one day and discuss it further. William decided not to press the issue.
Continuing out towards the beach, William saw that the trail lead towards an old wrought iron pier stretching out into the sea. Despite it being very windy and rather late at night, there was a couple standing on the far end of the pier and having a heated argument. Using his superior vampire strength, William managed to sneak up to the end of the pier and then climb up along the underside until he was close enough underneath them to hear what they were saying. The woman (who the man called Libby) was apparently proposing that they bundle some woman into a car and drive off with her. The man (who the woman called Kevin) thought that was a terrible idea but couldn’t seem to think of any better suggestions.
They were clearly likely to be here for a while, so William snuck off, back to The Institute. It was very quiet there- he ran into Rev. Paul Wilhurst in the Ordo chapel. The Reverend assured him that his door was always open, but William was disinclined to speak to him, and so headed off for a look at Maud’s room. It turned out to have two entrances: one on the inside corridor and one opening out onto an ivy-covered courtyard. After considering the options, William decided against breaking and entering, mostly due to a lack of expertise in subtle burglary. He headed out into High Bleymouth in time to see Libby and Kevin leaving. He then successfully tailed them back to their cottage in Cobblestone Lane (the name being either a reference to bygone times or a total lie, since the cottage is situated up a hill on a narrow but tarmacked road, with no cobblestones in sight). The cottage backed onto a fenced-in paddock (currently empty), and was far enough away from the other houses at the foot of the hill that it was within earshot if you really yelled, but not if you spoke in a normal voice.
Intending to minimise the couple’s options of escape, William snuck up to the SUV parked outside the cottage and carefully let both left tyres down. He also found that the boot hadn’t been shut properly. Inside the boot was a crate full of books on vampires, ranging from antique tomes to trashy modern day novels, plus several non-fiction books about world-spanning vampire conspiracies (all of them full of completely inaccurate information, many of them deliberately published by vampires themselves in order to throw any would-be vampire-hunters off the scent). Also in the boot were a reusable Tesco shopping bag full of garlic bulbs and what appeared to be a broom handle which had been sharpened to a point. William took the home made stake, replaced the books in their original order, and then messed around with some of the more mundane stuff in the boot (like a first aid kit and a tyre jack) in order to create confusion. He also made a note of the SUV’s license number.
At this point, the light in the downstairs front room went out, leaving the whole house in darkness. William realised that this was a bit weird, because when people are leaving their front room to go to bed, they normally switch on a light in the bedroom or bathroom before going to sleep. He had a quick nose around the outside of the house, and heard what sounded like a woman sobbing. It seemed to be coming from underground.
William was heading away back down the hill when a light came on again and Kevin came out of the cottage’s back door for a cigarette. Spotting an opportunity to use Dominate, William snuck back up the hill and attempted to catch Kevin by surprise and Mesmerise him. Unfortunately, the attempt failed- and it looked like Kevin had some idea of why strange people looming out of the dark and trying to give you bizarre instructions is a sign of something more troubling than just an eccentric mortal mugger. Changing plans, William pulled a gun on him, which got Kevin to stay still and quiet long enough for another attempt at Mesmerise. This time he commanded Kevin to answer his questions truthfully, but when asked why he’d been out on the pier, Kevin simply kept repeating that he’d been having a conversation with his wife.
William was considering what to do next when Kevin tore a piece of wood from the paddock fence and rushed at him armed with a makeshift stake. William had enough distance between them to put a bullet in his leg, but the gunshot was clearly audible from down the hill. William used a final Mesmerise to tell Kevin to forget about the whole conversation, and then successfully managed to jump the fence and sneak down the hill unnoticed while Kevin’s neighbours rushed to his aid.