<Conrad> lightly runs his fingers over the framed photograph with tender care, tracing the soft beauty of the woman’s face. His dear Elena, taken from him by the callous whims of the monster that had competed with his Sire to claim him as Childe. He gently sets the picture back on his desk and sighs. “Back to work, my love. I cannot avenge you if I lie in ashes in the Anarch stronghold.”

Conrad grabs a book of basic rituals from the shelf behind him and flips through them. He would have liked to tackle something more complex, but wasn’t sure how much time he had before the attack commenced, and a ritual not yet mastered was of no use. “Protection from Staking: Deflection of Wooden Doom. A bit dramatic sounding perhaps, but useful nonetheless.” He pours over the chapter,

nodding as he reads. The ritual itself seems simple enough, though the requirement to keep a splinter of wood under one’s tongue seems to him to be a bit uncomfortable. “Yet another reason it can be nice not to need most autonomic functions. No worry of inhaling the damnable thing.” Conrad reviews the magical theories and concepts behind the ritual, a bit more complicated, but not as

much as his recent projects had been. “A couple night’s work, perhaps, and this should be done.” He nods his satisfaction and clears some room in the center of his quarters, then heads outside to gather some sticks for the circle. Of course, he wasn’t quite ready just yet to actually attempt a casting. That would come tomorrow night, but getting out of the Chantry for a few minutes would

help take his mind off of his late Elena. Once he has found enough to create a circle of satisfactory size, he returns to his room and sets them near the fireplace to dry out. Taking the book in hand, Conrad absently wanders the halls while reading, the movement helping to keep him focused.

<Conrad> wakes the following night and returns to his research. He made good progress the previous night and feels nearly ready to give the ritual a try. After a couple hours of review, he sets up the wooden circle and sits in the middle. For a full hour he meditates on the nature of the vampiric existence in relation to normal life. At the end of the hour he mutters a short incantation

and places a splinter under his toungue. As he expected, the sensation is rather uncomfortable, but since the ritual had never specified how large the splinter had to be, he’d chosen a particularly tiny one. Confident in his ability, Conrad grabs a stake and heads out into the hall to find a ghoul. It takes a few moments, but he finally encounters one, a girl he’s seen assist some of

the other Tremere before. “Hello there! Would you be so kind as to stake me?” He holds out the hunk of wood toward her. She looks at him with only a moment’s surprise before laughing and taking the stake from him. “Of course, sir. I’ve helped test that ritual several times.” Conrad holds up a finger for her to wait, then unbuttons and removes his shirt, no need to ruin it on the off

chance he made a mistake. “Go ahead.” The woman nods and stabs toward his chest full force. Before the wood can touch his hand it disentigrates, and she ends up punching him instead. He laughs, which eases her enough to laugh as well, and begins putting his shirt back on. “Thank you, my dear.” She nods, and returns to her previous duties, while Conrad returns to his room. Three rituals

and advancement in general Thaumaturigic knowledge, he was making good progress. “It seems a good time for a break, Elena dear.” He says to the picture. A sad smile crosses his lips and he pulls a book of French poetry off the shelf and begins reading to himself and reminiscing.