The chapter starts with a long scene about Pavel and Michal driving in a car. The gist of it is that Pavel senses Alexei’s presence and directs the brainwashed driver towards him. Pavel and Michal also replenish their vitae, and Pavel informs us he has no bullets left, only his whip.Oh, and Michal also doesn’t like to be a ghoul and get into dangerous situations anymore, but it’s quickly glossed over and most likely won’t affect anything afterwards. His character proves to be as useful as… ah… most of the other characters, really.
We cut to Alexei and learn he’s drunk like there is no tomorrow despite the hunters raid being scheduled half an hour from that point. Because the buildup to a climatic showdown is just the right time for drunken hijinks.
He was drinking in a club first to dull the fear, then just because, and somehow ended up in a company of equally drunk Elena. They left the club, Alexei tried to get rid of her to go on the raid, but not entirely successfully. Then Pavel catches up with them.
Pavel and Alexei start fighting, with Elena alternating between asking Alexei to protect her against Pavel and then not letting him kill Pavel. Ugh, I can’t have any characters I like, it seems. I mean, I probably shouldn’t be too hard on her for not wanting her brother dead, but he was so awful in general and to her specifically…
While they are busy at it, Michal sneaks behind Alexei and breaks a flask of Elder blood before Alexei manages to drink any. Still think it would’ve been funnier if it just ran out, especially since the main bottle is still with Alexei. Alexei still have a few drops on his fingers, though, and licks them.
Then Alexei kills Michal. So long, you won’t be missed. Pavel is all angry and sad over it, but I don’t really believe him considering there is not a single scene where he genuinely enjoyed Michal’s company, and we’ve established already he has zero empathy.
Pavel and Alexei start fighting in earnest, and it’s a good place to mention that since Pavel got his whip, fights were always sprinkled with names of fighting maneuvers like Tail of a South Dragon, Drunken Hammer (no, seriously), some fantasy names, etc. Those maneuvers are not described, the book just says that’s what Pavel used. Those who follow Farla’s reviews on Pokemon fanfics and check the stories would probably recognize this writing technique. It’s about as obnoxious here as it was there. When the book says “Pavel used Capital Letters Technique,” I have no idea what’s actually happening beyond “they fight.”
Alexei gets advantage and hits Pavel fist in the stomach, leaving a burn from his armor emanating holy power, then follows it with a kick to the face while Pavel is down. Those are rare meaningful wounds suffered by Pavel, and I approve of it greatly, even though the narration is quick to tell us that Alexei’s advantage is not the result of superior skill, but rather his strangely high speed, which only increased during the fight.
The strike pushes Pavel away from Alexei, and Elena gets between them. Alexei beheads her. I’d say she’s lost her head already somewhere between her last appearance and this scene, so it’s not a great loss. Still, as far as sympathy goes, she was ahead of any other character in this book. It really is a shame that she couldn’t hold her head high until the end.
Beheading puns are funny.
Also, our first full fridging. I am kinda impressed that it took the author so long to get there.
Anyway, Pavel is supposedly struck by grief, which I don’t buy for a second. It’s probably just concussion from the kick. Alexei dealing with Elena gives him a head start, so he manages to stand up and rejoin the fight. They fight a bit more, Pavel tries to get close to Alexei, but Alexei withstands his strike and hits back, sending Pavel flying at the nearest wall. Pavel can’t stand anymore, and Alexei strikes him down. Now, I know it’s just a fake-out, but it would be so nice if the book ended here. It’s a foolish hope, of course. The author killing his favorite Mary Sue is about as plausible as for me to jump over my head.
Next scene is Maharnen and Ira waiting for Pavel at the clan residence. Ira convinces Maharnen to go to Pavel instead. Apparently, all vampires going on free hunts have tracking chips with them. Yeah, I am generally not in favor of mixing magic with technology, especially since it’s established in the book that tracking spells exist.
We also learn that the cure definitely works against Malkavian madness, preventing prophetic visions as well. As I said before, Malkavian madness and its association with prophetic powers is… a complicated topic tied into how the game treats mentally disturbed people. Honestly, I don’t feel qualified to comment on it in depth. Still, props for treating mental illness the same as physical one, I guess? But that’s done to remove any possible flavor from Malkavians beyond “they are crazy, man” occasional comments, so no cookie.
They arrive on the scene and find something that makes Ira scream. That doesn’t narrow down the possibilities at all. Given her lack of characterization and general treatment, I am pretty sure seeing an empty street would make her scream. Empty as her head. And the author’s.
And sure enough, in the next scene we see Pavel dodging the strike at the last moment, slashing Alexei’s face with his claws and sending a spell at him for good measure. Alexei regenerates, suddenly gaining that ability from the Elder blood, but the blood starts rapidly losing its effect on him afterwards.
That allows Pavel to turn the fight around and pretty quickly first penetrate Alexei’s heart with his hard whip throbbing with blood rushing through it (again, I am not joking, I just arrange descriptions in the appropriate order), and then behead Alexei. Damn, so many puns I can make… But I won’t.
Pavel angsts for a while, saying his farewells to Michal and Elena and asking for forgiveness. Heartbreaking, truly. …Oh, damn it. Pavel angsts some more and thinks of suicide. Do it. Seriously, you are right for the first time ever: the lives of people around you will be better without you. The world itself will be better without you. Be a hero, kill yourself.
But then Ira arrives, scream at seeing the scene with wounded Pavel and three corpses and goes to him. Damn it. We were so close…
Pavel tells Maharnen what just happened, and Maharnen wanks all over him. Then he fetches the Elder blood bottle and checks on Michal, who’s actually alive. Yeah, he’s alive. Of course. The author just can’t part with his toys. Characters he likes survive, even when they are about as interesting as beating your head against the wall, but characters with actual goals and drive to accomplish them (even if they are batshit as well)? Fuck those guys.
Next scene is Pavel and Ira standing in a hospital waiting for news about Michal. Doctor tells them some bullshit about how Michal survived because he drank vampire blood just enough to get regeneration going, but not enough to become so similar to vampires that he would have been burned outright. He’s in coma. He can’t become a ghoul or a vampire anymore, but has a chance to return to humanity.
Yeah, no. True Faith don’t have lingering effects like that, and as long as you drink vampire blood, you are a ghoul. Ghouls don’t become more ghoulish with time (though if they live past their natural lifespan, ceasing to drink vampire blood would kill them as their bodies would revert to their true age).
The author attempts to get another touching moment going, but I don’t care about Michal. He was introduced suddenly and removed from the narrative just as suddenly, leaving no lingering traces of his existence.
Then Maharnen arrives with Alexei’s phone. The phone is ringing. Pavel, who’s heard Alexei’s voice, answers, imitating said voice. Yeah, sure, vampires are Terminators, they can imitate voices now, whatever.
We cut to hunters. Three thousands of them, all ready to take on vampires but waiting for “messiah” Alexei to arrive. Their leader calls Alexei, Pavel answers with Alexei’s voice and, after asking their location, tells them that the vampires has spotted him, and he is currently trying to fight them off. The call cuts short, with “Alexei” screaming. The hunters abandon the raid and start to disperse, but they are watched over by vampires who happened to be nearby. Camarilla forces are sent to eliminate the hunters, and it’s implied to be a success. So much for an epic battle.
By the end the author gets really pretentious, doing that “you might have seen this scene and didn’t even realize what you were seeing. Perhaps a random guy you met on the street was a hunter who was going to die in a few minutes” and such. I dislike authors addressing the readers directly in general, and here it’s no exception. The contrast of tones is jarring, and no, I am pretty sure I was not a witness to this scene for a simple reason that those vampires are too dumb to ever exist.
With that, the chapter ends. The next chapter is the last one, by the way, and it’s fuckhuge. After that it’s just a short epilogue and final thoughts, though. Wish me luck. I’ll need it, seeing how the author attempts to tie all of the loose ends there.