This is an excerpt (first 20 pages) of a completed screenplay.

       "The Kaiserine's Champion" - screenplay by Derek Paterson.

       FADE IN:

       EXT. CITY - NIGHT

       A panoramic view of a sprawling central European city 200+
       years ago.  Notable landmarks are the Empress's Palace and
       the impressive city prison.  Hereabouts, the enigmatic
       Empress is known by her Germanic title of Kaiserine.

       Title:  "High Sazburg, capital of the Prussian Empire, circa


       Behind a tavern filled with voices, music, song, laughter
       and the occasional scream.

       MANFRED, 20s, our rugged hero, is dragged out of the tavern
       and into the alleyway by NINE City Wardens wearing SCARLET
       uniforms.  They're drunk and wanting entertainment... at
       Manfred's expense.

                           WARDEN #1
                 Come on, Corporal!  Show the scum who
                 he's dealing with!

                           WARDEN #2
                 Give him a scar to remember us by!

       The grinning CORPORAL draws his sword.  He circles Manfred,
       enjoying the moment.

                 Draw your sword, boy.  Time you learned
                 the price for involving yourself in our

       Manfred reluctantly draws his sword.  The Corporal lunges,
       trying to run him through, but Manfred sidesteps and THROWS
       the Corporal against the wall.  The Corporal SLAMS off the
       brickwork and collapses, stunned.

       The Wardens are ENRAGED.  They CHARGE at Manfred, who meets
       their attack with his naked blade.  Steel clashes against
       steel... and in just the first few seconds it becomes
       obvious that Manfred is a MASTER SWORDSMAN and the Wardens
       have bitten off more than they can chew.

       As the fight goes on Manfred becomes more and more ANGRY,
       and less inclined to spare his opponents any mercy.  He
       bares his teeth as Wardens fall dead or reel back with
       terrible wounds.

       The fight ends with corpses and groaning, wounded men
       littering the alleyway.  Manfred slowly lowers his sword and
       breathes heavily.  He isn't exhausted by the fight, he's
       trying to get his anger under control.

       WHAP!  A club strikes him from behind, scattering his
       senses.  Manfred collapses, unconscious.

       A dozen NOSEYS, aka City Constabulary, enter the alleyway.
       They wear BLACK uniforms.  The surviving Wardens draw back
       cautiously.  Just for a moment it seems possible that
       another fight might break out between the two groups, but
       the Noseys have an unmistakable advantage in numbers.

                           NOSEY OFFICER
                      (to his men)
                 Take him.

       His men drag Manfred out of the alleyway.  The Wardens want
       to object but the Nosey Officer grins at them, warning them
       not to try anything stupid.  The Wardens can only watch
       helplessly as the unconscious Manfred is taken away.

       The Nosey Officer turns and follows his men out of the
       alleyway, into the night.  He doesn't look back.

                                                       DISSOLVE TO:

       Black screen.  The sounds of HAMMERING and WOOD SAWING.

       FADE IN:


       A team of CARPENTERS work to complete a GALLOWS platform in
       front of an impressive looking building with thick iron bars
       on all the windows.  The city prison.


       Loud HAMMERING sounds from outside.

       Manfred sits on the straw-covered floor with his head bowed,
       apparently sleeping through the noise.  He's chained to the
       wall, heavy manacles encircle his wrists.

       He looks up as a key rattles in the lock.  The door swings
       open and the prison SERGEANT grins at Manfred.

                 Here's your breakfast, Manfred my boy.
                 Enjoy your last meal!

       The Sergeant empties the NIGHT FILTH BUCKET over Manfred,
       who gasps and chokes at the rancid stench.  The Sergeant
       laughs at his little joke.

                           SERGEANT (CONT'D)
                 You hear that?
                      (re: hammering)
                 You're going to swing soon, m'lad.  Rest
                 assured, I'll be in the front row,
                 cheering as you gasp and kick your way
                 to Hell.

       Manfred wipes the filth off his face and LEAPS at the
       Sergeant -- but the chains snap him back against the wall.
       He lands painfully.  The Sergeant laughs again.

       The sound of FOOTSTEPS from the corridor.  The Sergeant
       turns to look outside -- and SNAPS TO ATTENTION.

       A tall man ducks his head and enters the cell.  OTTO THENCK,
       40s or older, the sinister head of the Ministry of State
       Security.  He carries an air of absolute authority about him
       which isn't lost on the Sergeant, who trembles in fear.

       Manfred and Thenck stare at each other.  Manfred wonders who
       this guy is and what he wants.

                      (to Sergeant)
                 So, this is the swordsman.  You have him
                 in chains, I see.

                 Yes, sir.  Extremely dangerous, sir.
                 Killed six of the Duke's Wardens, he
                 did, and put another three in hospital.
                 The doctor says they'll be out of action
                 for weeks.  Duke Wilhelm is--

                 I know what Duke Wilhelm is.
                      (to Manfred)
                 So, what have you to say for yourself,
                 you scoundrel?

       Manfred doesn't answer.

                           THENCK (CONT'D)
                 Cat got your tongue, mmm?
                      (to Sergeant)
                 I want to talk to this rogue in private.
                 Close the door on your way out.

                 But, sir--

                 He's chained to the wall, Sergeant.  I
                 think I'll be safe enough, don't you?

       The Sergeant hesitates for a moment, then exits.  He closes
       the cell door behind him.

       The outside hammering stops abruptly.

                 It sounds like they're ready for you.
                 In which case I'd best make this short,
                 lest we're interrupted before we
                 conclude our business.

                 Who are you, and what do you want of me?

                 It isn't every day I get to meet a
                 swordsman of your caliber.  Six Wardens
                 dead and another three wounded, eh?

       Thenck draws a handkerchief from his sleeve and drops it
       onto Manfred's lap.  Manfred stares at it for a moment...
       then uses it to wipe his face.  He offers to return it to
       Thenck but Thenck doesn't want it, for obvious reasons.

                           THENCK (CONT'D)
                 Why don't you tell me what happened last

                 I think you already know.

                 They say you picked a fight with the
                 Duke's men.

                 The Duke's ruffians, you mean.  They're
                 the ones who swaggered into the tavern
                 and picked a fight, not me.

                 They picked on you?

       A beat.  Manfred hesitates before answering.

                 No.  A young lad, sitting quietly in a
                 corner with his girl, doing no one any

                 A friend of yours, was he?  Your
                 brother?  A cousin?
                 Let me guess what happened.  The Duke's
                 Wardens decided they wanted the girl for
                 themselves, and pretended to take insult
                 at something the boy said or did.  Am I

       Another beat.  Manfred wonders how he knows so much.

                 Close enough.

                 And so... for reasons known only to
                 yourself... you decided to interfere,
                 decided to help a stranger you didn't
                 even know.
                      (he chuckles)
                 I shouldn't imagine the Wardens took
                 kindly to your interference?

                 The Duke's Wardens are indeed ruffians.
                 But they are also excellent swordsmen
                 thanks to Schwertkampfer, the Duke's
                 swordmaster, who is no slouch with the
                 blade.  Yet you killed six of them.
                 You're either very good, or you're the
                 luckiest man alive.  Which is it?

                 Perhaps a little of both.

                 A good answer.  It may be that I have a
                 use for someone who possesses such luck,
                 and knows how to use a sword.

       A beat.  Manfred doesn't dare hope...

                           THENCK (CONT'D)
                 Tomorrow, if you didn't already know, is
                 the Kaiserine's birthday.  It's a very
                 special occasion, and special
                 entertainment is arranged.  I'm looking
                 for someone to put into the Arena.  You
                 may be that man.

       Manfred reacts to "the Arena."

                 What exactly are you offering?

                 Your freedom, a large bag of silver, and
                 a fast horse to take you out of the
                 city.  Assuming, of course...

                 Assuming I survive.

                 Assuming you survive.

       A beat.  Manfred licks his lips, thinking it over.

                           THENCK (CONT'D)
                 Oh, yes, the Arena is far different from
                 a crowded alley where drunken soldiers
                 trip over each other and botch their
                 attacks.  You'll be matched against the
                 deadliest killers in the Empire.  Then
                 again, what's the alternative?  A rope,
                 a trapdoor and a quick end, if you're
                 lucky.  If you're unlucky you might
                 dangle there for hours, dying a very
                 unpleasant death...

       Manfred swallows hard, imagining the noose around his neck.

                 I'm your man, if you can get me out of

                 Very sensible.  I like that.

       Thenck raps the door.  The Sergeant opens the door and looks
       suspiciously at Manfred.  Manfred holds up his chains as if
       to say, "See?  I haven't escaped."

                           THENCK (CONT'D)
                 Sergeant, release this man.  I'm going
                 to send someone up to collect him.  Make
                 sure he's ready by the time they arrive.

                 With respect, sir, he's the Duke's
                 prisoner.  He killed the Duke's Wardens.

                 You're wrong, Sergeant, he is my
                 prisoner.  He was arrested and brought
                 here by my Constables, not the Duke's
                 Wardens, who displayed remarkable
                 incompetence by failing to kill him,
                 wouldn't you agree?

       Manfred is SHOCKED to hear this.

                 But what will I tell the Duke, sir?
                 He's bound to ask.

                 You have prisoners in the other cells,
                 haven't you?

                 Yes, sir.  Petty thieves for the most
                 part.  A pair of smugglers, a husband
                 who cut off his unfaithful wife's ears,
                 a forger--

                 A forger!  When was he arrested?

                 Yesterday, sir.  Caught passing wooden
                 coins covered with silver paint.  Not
                 too clever, sir.  It's fifty lashes for
                 him, then a lengthy spell in prison,
                 breaking rocks.

                 I disagree.  As inept as he is, his is
                 the worst crime of all -- he was
                 attempting to undermine the economy of
                 the Empire.  I'll respect assassins and
                 even spies, but never forgers.  Let me
                 tell you what you will do, Sergeant.
                 You will go to the forger's cell.
                 There, you will bind his arms and legs
                 securely, then gag him, and put a hood
                 over his head.  When the Duke's men come
                 looking for this prisoner...

       Thenck indicates Manfred.

                           THENCK (CONT'D)
        will give them the forger
                 instead.  Do you understand?

       The Sergeant swallows hard.  So does Manfred.

                 Y-yes, sir.

       Thenck nods, then turns and exits.  Conversation over.

                 It seems you have friends in high
                 places, lad.  You know who that was?
                 Otto Thenck.  The Magician!  You know
                 why they call him that?  Because he
                 makes people disappear.  Maybe you've
                 escaped the noose, but there are worse
                 deaths than hanging, mark my words.
                 That's something else for you to think
                 about, eh?

       The Sergeant uses a key to unlock the chain manacles.


       Manfred comes up fast and PUNCHES the Sergeant, who falls to
       the floor.  When he tries to get up, Manfred kicks him in
       the nuts.  The Sergeant rolls around in the night soil,
       clutching his manhood and howling in pain.

       Manfred hurries to the door, plainly intending to get out of
       here before anyone realizes he's gone...

       ...But stops and retreats from the door as TWO men enter the
       cell.  They're dressed in black, wearing long cloaks and
       scarves that cover their faces and make them look like
       highwaymen.  They aim their flintlock PISTOLS at Manfred.

       The men step aside and gesture with their weapons.  You go
       first -- but we'll be right behind you!


       The two highwaymen escort Manfred outside.  A horse-drawn
       enclosed COACH sits waiting, its door open.  The DRIVER is
       another masked highwayman.  He watches as Manfred approaches
       the coach and climbs inside.

       INT. COACH - DAY

       Manfred sits down.  The door is SLAMMED shut.  The coach's
       windows are blackened.  Light comes from a vent set into the
       ceiling above.

       The coach starts off.  SFX:  hooves and clattering wheels.


       The coach moves through the streets of High Sazburg, leaving
       the grim prison behind.

       INT. COACH - DAY

       Manfred looks up as the Driver opens a HATCH and looks in to
       see his passenger isn't up to any mischief.  He closes the
       hatch, leaving Manfred alone and frustrated.


       Still moving through the streets...

       INT. COACH - DAY

       Manfred tries the door handle.  Locked, of course.

       He settles back to enjoy the ride as best he can.


       The coach stops outside a red brick building with darkened

       INT. COACH - DAY

       Manfred realizes the coach has stopped.  He waits.  What's
       going to happen now?

       A loud CLICK.

       He tries the door handle again.  The door opens.


       Manfred climbs down out of the coach.  He doesn't recognize
       the building, doesn't know where he is.

       The Driver shakes his reins and the coach moves off, leaving
       Manfred behind.  Manfred watches, uncertain.  The coach
       reaches the end of the street and disappears around the

       Manfred regards the building.  Nothing indicates what it
       might be or why he's here.

       Just then he notices several CITY WARDENS walking up the
       street.  They haven't seen him yet, but they're coming this
       way.  He climbs the steps, takes hold of the brass knocker
       and RAPS loudly on the door.

       A spy-hole opens!  An eyeball peers out at Manfred and a
       muffled voice talks to him.

                           LUDWIG (O.S.)
                 What do you want?

       Manfred has to think about it.  What does he want?

                 Otto Thenck sent me.

                           LUDWIG (O.S.)
                 What's the password?


                           LUDWIG (O.S.)
                 Didn't he give you a password?

                 He didn't give me anything.

       The Wardens are still moving closer... they'll see him any
       moment now!

       Heavy bolts grumble, and the door swings open.


       Manfred looks down at LUDWIG, a dwarf, age unknown.  Ludwig
       has just climbed down off a wooden stool which he used to
       reach the spy-hole.  He wears a miniature black uniform and
       a big cavalry sword that trails on the floor behind him.

       Manfred goes to step inside but Ludwig pushes him back out.

                 And who might you be?

                 I said, Otto Thenck sent me.  Let me
                 inside, quickly.

                 He didn't tell me to expect any
                 visitors.  Go away.


       The Wardens have almost reached the entrance.  They're
       talking among themselves.  They haven't even seen Manfred
       yet.  One of them is the Corporal whom Manfred smashed into
       the wall the night before, whose face is heavily bruised.


       Ludwig tries to shut the door but Manfred stops it with his
       boot.  He reaches inside and grabs Ludwig, lifting him up
       off the floor.

                 Listen, Stumpy, I told you, Thenck sent
                 me.  So let me inside, unless you want
                 me to bash your face in.

       Ludwig rolls his eyes, inviting Manfred to look further down
       the hallway.  Manfred does... and finds himself looking at
       TWO soldiers aiming their muskets at him.

                 The Tirpitz musket is the deadliest
                 piece of weaponry ever developed by the
                 Kaiserine's clever scientists, and
                 rarely misses at ranges under five
                 hundred paces.

       Manfred puts Ludwig down and smoothes the creases out of his
       uniform jacket.

                           LUDWIG (CONT'D)
                 Thank you.

                 Don't mention it.

       Ludwig snaps his fingers, remembering something.

                 You wouldn't be from the prison, would

                 How astute of you.  Indeed I am.

                      (to Soldiers)
                 Easy, lads.  This one's expected, after

       The soldiers lower their muskets.  Manfred sighs with

                 Come inside.  I'm Ludwig.  What should I
                 call you?

                 The name's Manfred.

       Manfred steps into the hallway.  Just as Ludwig closes the
       door we hear a distant CHEERING NOISE made by a large crowd.


       A pair of bound legs DROPS into shot from above.  The
       unfortunate forger who replaced Manfred on the gallows goes
       to meet his maker.  The legs dance and twitch.  The unseen
       CROWD cheers, enjoying the entertainment.


       The closing door cuts off the cheering.  Manfred touches his
       neck and swallows hard.  But for the grace of God that would
       have been him.

                 Sounds like someone's having a good
                 time.  Cheer up!  You look as if
                 someone's just walked over your grave.
                 Come with me, I'll take you upstairs to
                 the laboratory.  You're very fortunate,
                 you know.  Not everybody gets to meet
                 the great Doctor Schmidt.

       Ludwig waddles down the corridor, trailing his sword behind
       him.  Manfred follows him.  As they draw level with the
       Soldiers, Manfred's eyes are drawn to them...

       MANFRED'S POV:  the Soldiers' faces are horribly SCARRED and
       MUTILATED.  Patches of flesh have been SEWN together with
       rough stitches.  Their mouths are lop-sided and their noses
       are shapeless lumps of flesh with oddly-matched holes.

                 Didn't your mother ever tell you it's
                 rude to stare?


       Ludwig leads Manfred up a flight of stairs.


       Amber light streams into the room through high, narrow
       windows.  Tables contain complex scientific apparatus of the
       era -- glass bottles connected by winding rubber tubes,
       brass machinery that whirs and clicks.

       The far wall contains a row of chains and manacles like
       those in the prison.  Dried blood stains the crumbling wall
       plaster.  Upon closer inspection, we see the plaster has
       been CLAWED by whoever was chained here.

                 What is this place?  A torture chamber?

                 Hush, fool, it's a laboratory, anyone
                 can see that.

       DOCTOR SCHMIDT enters by another door.  50s, balding.  He
       wears thick spectacles, black uniform, a scarlet officer's
       sash around his portly waist.

                 Pray tell, who is this fine specimen,

                 Herr Thenck sent him, Doctor Schmidt.
                 He's from the prison.

       Ludwig waves his hand in front of his nose.

                           LUDWIG (CONT'D)
                 Which explains the smell.

       Schmidt moves to stand in front of Manfred.  He studies
       Manfred closely.  Without asking permission, he opens
       Manfred's eye wide with his thumb and finger and studies his

                 Please unbutton your shirt.

       Manfred unbuttons his shirt.  Schmidt picks up a storm
       lantern, opens the shutter and shines the light on Manfred's
       neck.  The light is blue.  Schmidt thumbs a switch and the
       light changes to red.  He moves the lamp down over Manfred's

                 Good, very good.  I notice a scar on
                 your chest.  You were wounded in the

                 Yes.  A Moskovian musket ball.

                 It penetrated the lung.  You are very
                 fortunate to be alive.  A fraction to
                 the right and the ball would have struck
                 your heart.  Do you have any difficulty
                 in breathing?

                 Not so much now.  Sometimes I have to
                 sit down and rest after any strenuous
                 exercise, however.

                           THENCK (O.S.)
                 Well, Herr Doctor?  Was I right?

       Thenck enters through the door Schmidt used.

                 Indeed you were, Herr Thenck.  The
                 wounds show up clearly under the
                 lamplight.  But how did you know?

                      (to Manfred)
                 Do you remember how and when it

                 I was wounded in Moskovia...

       Thenck waves a hand, telling Manfred to shut up.

                 Once again we find that the victim
                 remembers nothing of the incident.  The
                 filth are indeed skilful in masking
                 their activities.  The elixir will
                 restore his lost memories.  I see no
                 reason why we should not proceed at

                 Neither do I.  Go ahead, Herr Doctor.

       Schmidt picks up a small glass bottle and holds it up to the
       light.  He shakes it, then takes out the stopper.

                 Stick out your tongue.

       Manfred hesitates.  Schmidt shows impatience.

                 Come now, there is nothing to fear.
                 This will allow you to recall the
                 memories that were deliberately hidden
                 by the vampyre filth that drank your

                 Drank my...?  Are you insane?

                 Do as Doctor Schmidt says, Herr Manfred.

       He says this softly... but the warning is obvious.

       Manfred opens his mouth and sticks his tongue out.  Slowly,
       carefully, Schmidt tilts the bottle until a single drop of
       green liquid falls onto Manfred's tongue...

       WHAM!  Manfred is THROWN headlong into a FLASHBACK that's
       about to change his life.


       Manfred sits opposite ULRIKE, a woman in her early 20s who
       charms him with her beauty and poise.  The window curtains
       are drawn for privacy.  Outside the coach, a full Moon is
       about to rise above the mountains.

                 You cannot imagine my disappointment,
                 Fraulein Dornier, at discovering you are

                 Please accept my apologies, Herr
                 Manfred.  This is why I travel to High
                 Sazburg.  My husband will meet me there
                 and we shall travel on together to
                 Konigshaven, where he will serve with
                 the Imperial High Seas Fleet, and I will
                 raise six beautiful children.

                 I should imagine you already know what
                 their names will be.

                 Oh, yes.  And what of you, Herr Manfred?
                 What brings you to High Sazburg?

                 A Moskovian musket ball.

                 I don't understand.

                 I was recently released from the Army
                 because of a chest wound I sustained in
                 Moskovia.  I'm journeying to High
                 Sazburg to seek employment.  I have a
                 cousin who lives there.  He wrote and
                 told me merchants are always looking for
                 trustworthy bodyguards.  Ex-soldiers
                 receive preferential consideration.

                 But your wound...?

                 I've been exercising steadily since I
                 was released from the military hospital.
                 I fence twice a day to build up my
                 strength and stamina.  I still
                 experience a shortness of breath if I
                 exert myself for prolonged periods, but
                 it's getting better.

                 I should hope so.  I wish you good luck
                 in finding employment.  If, as you say,
                 ex-soldiers are sought...

       Manfred lifts the window curtain to look outside.

       INSERT:  a view of the FULL MOON rising over the distant
       mountains.  Its dazzling light BLINDS US as it shines into
       the coach.

       Ulrike SCREAMS as the moonlight strikes her.  She throws her
       arms up to cover her face.  Manfred gapes, unable to
       understand what the hell has just happened.

       In the space of a single heartbeat Ulrike changes from a
       beautiful woman to a snarling harpy with cat eyes and fangs
       as long as fingers.  She lunges at Manfred and pins him
       against his seat with superhuman strength.

       Her mouth opens wider than should be humanly possible, and
       her fangs drive DEEP into Manfred's neck as he struggles to
       free himself.


       Manfred opens his eyes.  He's dizzy, like he's just awoken
       from a dream.  A very bad dream.

       Thenck and Schmidt stare at him dispassionately.  Manfred
       stares at the bottle in Schmidt's hand.

                 Now do you remember what happened?

                 I remember only too well.  There was...
                 a woman.  Or at least, I thought she was
                 a woman...

                 She was vampyre.  Had she drained you
                 sufficiently for death to occur, you
                 would now be vampyre yourself.  Or, if
                 she did not wish you to become vampyre
                 at the moment of your death, you would
                 have become a mindless undead zombie,
                 rotting slowly until your body
                 eventually fell apart.

       Manfred touches his neck.  Frowns, as his fingers touch
       something he didn't realize was there.

                           THENCK (CONT'D)
                 Yes, that is where she bit you, and
                 imparted the Vampyre's Gift.

                 The Vampyre's... what?

                 When the vampyre bites its victim, not
                 only does it extract the blood upon
                 which it feeds, some of its own blood
                 also enters the victim's body.  This
                 exchange of fluids prepares the victim
                 for extraordinary changes which will
                 come about should the victim die and
                 become vampyre.  Physical strength is
                 increased; the senses become sharper,
                 enhanced far beyond normality.  This is
                 known as the Vampyre's Gift.  It only
                 lasts for a period of days, and will
                 fade completely if the vampyre does not
                 return to finish its dirty work.

       A beat.  Manfred wonders if Thenck is insane... but then
       again, maybe there's some truth in all this crazy talk.

                           THENCK (CONT'D)
                 I believe this explains how you were
                 able to fend off the Duke's Wardens in
                 the tavern alleyway.  When my Constables
                 reported the incident to me, I knew
                 there must be something special about
                 you.  I'm glad my instincts proved
                 correct.  Tell me, when did the vampyre
                 attack you?

       INSERT:  a subliminal glimpse of the vampyre Ulrike, with
       her cat eyes and extended fangs.

                 What?  Oh... two nights ago.

                 You're certain of this?

                 I arrived in High Sazburg only yesterday
                 aboard the coach from Guttzeig, so yes,
                 I'm certain.  Why?

                 It is likely that the Vampyre's Gift
                 still flows in your veins.  As I have
                 already intimated, it will fade soon...
                 perhaps tonight, or tomorrow, who can
                 say?  Fortunately Herr Thenck arranged
                 to have you brought here in time.  I am
                 unable to initiate the start of the
                 transformation from human to vampyre.
                 Only one of them can do that.  But my
                 elixir will stop the Vampyre's Gift from
                 fading, and will also permit the change
                 to continue.

                 May I ask what you mean when you say
                 "continue," Herr Doctor?

                 Come, Herr Manfred.  You are not a
                 child, and can be trusted to draw
                 logical conclusions.  The Vampyre's Gift
                 allowed you to defeat the Duke's
                 Wardens.  Without it, they would have
                 cut you into very small pieces.  I
                 instructed Doctor Schmidt to give you
                 his elixir because without it, the
                 Vampyre's Gift would soon have left you.
                 The elixir is already working, pulsing
                 through your bloodstream, transforming
                 you into a vampyre.


                 Long before the transformation is
                 complete, you will either have won or
                 lost in the Arena.  If you are still
                 alive at the end of the contest, Doctor
                 Schmidt will give you the counter-elixir
                 he has developed.  This will halt the
                 change, and return you to your human
                 state.  Is this not so, Herr Doctor?

                 I have the counter-elixir ready.

                 I want it now.

                 Quite impossible.  It is necessary for
                 my plans that the Vampyre's Gift stays
                 with you until the Arena contest ends.

                 Damn you, you should have asked me

                 To what end?  Do you wish to die in the
                 Arena?  Of course not.  Had we explained
                 everything first then you would
                 eventually have said yes anyway, but we
                 could afford no delay, since we had no
                 idea when the Vampyre's Gift would leave
                 you.  What's done is done, for the good
                 of all.  You must accept it, Herr
                 Manfred.  The alternative must surely be

       Manfred lowers his head for a moment.  When he looks up
       again and bares his teeth, we discover they're fractionally
       longer than they should be.  And there's a glint in his eye
       that reminds us of Fraulein Ulrike in the night coach...

       Thenck and Schmidt stare at him, untroubled by his unusual
       appearance.  Manfred growls, and takes a step toward them...

       WHAP!  Manfred stops and looks around.  Ludwig has climbed
       up onto a chair behind him and struck him across the head
       with a heavy wooden club.

                 You little--!

       It's as far as he gets.  The lights go out just as Manfred
       starts falling toward the laboratory floor.


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