Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul, Shortly After Midnight.
Bobby takes a quick tote to steady his nerves after releasing all the magic from Magnus’s ritual. The aforementioned sorcerer alternated between laughing madly and sobbing hysterically as Alek handcuffed him while reading his rights. Hunter watched his partner and the mad sorcerer carefully. Brittany scoffed at the effectiveness of holding a scion of a Frost Giant restrained with mundane cuffs as she dresses up in one of the remaining cultist robes to hide her nudity. Craig takes a moment to check on the slumbering Alison Harper, making sure she is resting easy. Thomas strides into the room, fresh from his duel with Erin Kirkpatrick.
The group immediately begins discussion as to their next steps. Brittany wants to keep Alison free from the influence of Pearce, and by default, the dragon he represents. Alek and Craig thinks it to be a good idea to try separating the Star from the girl and maybe use its power to heal the failing ward or to barter it between the two Fairy Courts. Bobby just doesn’t want to get eaten by Vampires. While everyone is involved with discussions regarding how one can separate someone from this power; Thomas takes the opportunity to send a secret text message to the Man in the Horned Rimmed Glasses. Hunter, who has also sayed out of the conversation, takes notice and is able to see the messages with his heightened senses.
“I have the girl, just need to get her away; do you need her family too?”
“No, just the girl”
“With or without the power of the Star?”
“With the power of the Star.”
Thomas then interrupts the conversation and proposes that HRG might be best suited to help the girl as he is the only person who hasn’t shared any negative ends and just wants to hide her. Craig begins to ask about the possibility of hiding the parents when he realizes that if HRG is going to use magic to hide her, which is most likely, he is unable to hide at least Allen because of the broken promise he has with the Winter Court. They might as well have his True Name. It is at this moment that Alison stirs to wakefulness.
“I…I knew you would come” she says with a slurred voice, looking at Craig, “I knew you couldn’t do it alone and you would bring the others.” She takes in everyone with a glance, “I….I feel like things are opening up for me….I know more…I know I am a Star and I think….I think I am learning what that means….can you take me home now?”
After a brief discussion, Alek and Craig summarize the situation and share the issue with Alison. They decide that she should make the decision over what happens next. Thomas attempts to sway Alison to going with HRG; Craig and Alek stress the danger that the falling ward presents to the City.
Alison takes this all in and states, “I’m….I’m sorry, losing my power, I feel would change ME too much and I don’t want to do that, I mean this is WHO I am,” She looks directly at Craig and he realizes that he agrees and can’t let her be separated form her power, “She looks at Alek and Thomas, I love my father and I can’t let something bad happen to him…I have to go to the Winter Court if that will save him, unless, is there any chance I could speak to this HRG person Thomas? I get why all the other people want me, I am just not sure why James Bond does.”
Thomas shrugs his shoulders and begins dialing. Hunter grabs his wrist and says, “On speaker phone.”
Thomas pulls his hand roughly away and puts it on speaker, after a moment HRG voice echoes through the chamber, “Hello? Thomas? Wait, am I on speaker?”
Thomas speaks, “Yes, Alison wanted to speak to you.”
“Hi” Alison says cheerfully.
“Fine, in private, as her secrets are for her only.”
Thomas nods and hands Alison the phone switching it off of speaker. “Hello?”
Hunters’ hearing is able to pick out HRG’s words on the other end of the phone. “Alison, you know what you are. You are special and I need to protect something, something very important. You can help me do that, but first you need to learn how to use your powers and you need time to do that. I…I can hide you and get you training.”
“Can my parents come?”
HRG sighs, Hunter almost feels like he is rubbing the bridge of his nose when he speaks, “No. It is unfortunate, but he made promises to things he should not have and there is a cost for doing so. You don’t have to pay it.”
“I’m sorry Sir, I…I don’t want something bad to happen to my dad no matter what he did, I am going to have to go to the Winter Court. I hope you understand.”
“Sadly, I do, Good luck.”
Alison hands the phone back to Thomas as HRG hangs-up. Craig is uncomfortable with the idea that she go directly to the Winter Court, but his training in Lore helps him recall that Blackthorn is the High Adjudicator of the Accords in the Twin Cities.
“Alison, I think we might be able to protect you if we get Blackthorn involved, he doesn’t want the status quo changed too much and he is someone of influence in the supernatural world.”
The rest of the group and Alison are swayed by Craig’s logic and they decide to go to the Neutral Ground of Pig Eye’s Public House. They leave with Magnus in tow, heading out of the cave. As they are walking out, Bobby decides to come clean on another issue.
“So, uh, hey guys, there is like another, little problem. The Red Court, are like going to kill some woman, if they don’t like, get the girl by morning, and that is really not cool.”
No one likes the idea of a woman getting murdered by the Red Court and the investigators decide that Brittany and Hunter will help out Bobby by going after Rosalie. They begin to plan their moves as they walk out of the cave.
Outside the Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul
The investigators are so engrossed in their conversation that only Craig notices that his breath is misting in the air. His arcane senses quickly attune and he feels the power of the Winter Court. Before he can call out a warning, the sound of a high power shell rips through the air. Thomas stumbles back as a bullet slams into his side, denting his ribs almost like a metal plate. He grimaces with pain as he realizes the shell is packed with salt and he feels it burning his iron infused flesh.
Everyone else finds themselves surrounded by maniac grins appearing out of the air and suddenly find themselves tackled by now visible malks. Craig manages to keep his wits about him and ducks under one particularly clumsy malk. Brittney turns the tables on the ambush and reacts with mystic strength, grabbing one and hurling it against the concrete. She knocks another malk off balance as the first one breaks apart under the fury of her onslaught.
Craig yells out, “Stop attacking, we are going to Blackthorn to bring the girl back to winter!” He hopes to appeal to the Accords for protection.
A second shot answers his yell, driving Thomas to his knees. Hunter transforms into a giant wolf and begins tearing at the malk that tackled him. Brittany slams into another one, giving Alek the opportunity to yell out, “Your aggression gains you nothing, us taking her to Blackthorn gets you what you want.”
There is a moment of silence as the malks suddenly prance away, disappearing into the night, leaving behind, for a brief moment, blood toothed smiles. Trick’s voice rings through the night, “Your promise is noted Detective Erikson.”
Alek realizes that he must go to Blackthorn with Alison, Craig and Thomas opts to go with her well. Brittany and Hunter decide to continue with the original plan and help Bobby rescue Rosalie.
“Bobby,” Alison asks, “where do you think they are hiding her?”
“Like, with the vampire’s man, just like at their lair.”
Alison looks to the night sky, focusing at the stars, “I think…she is at an old junkyard full of tires and there are a bunch of guys who look like they are in a gang lurking around. She will be there.”
Alison nods to herself and then at a call from Thomas goes with them as they being the walk to Pig’s Eye Public House. Brittany gets an idea, “Hey Bobby, do you have anything that can make me look like Alison?”
“Just like, give me a sec man, I got something around here,” Bobby begins to rustle in his satchel and pulls out a bottle for Brittany to drink.
Hunter grunts, “So, I take it we’re doing the ‘Chewbacca’ huh?” Brittany drinks the potion and through a shimmering veil suddenly looks like a disheveled Alison Harper, Hunter continues, “Based on the girl’s description of the place and known Latin Kings associates, it sounds like Jojo’s Tire Shop over in West Side. I will scout it from the air.”
Jojo’s Tire Shop and Scrap yard, West Side, St. Paul
Hunter transforms suddenly into his golden hawk form and takes flight, winging over the city towards West Side. Bobby and Brittany clamber into his beat-up RV. Bobby complains about the troll sized fist marks left in the side door as they ramble their way towards the tire shop. Hunter gets there first. He flies about the building and notices that the main shed has way too many lights on for this time of night. He can see members of the Latin Kings patrolling the fenced yard and he notices that old cars and other scrap are pile high against the fence forming a barricade. He spies a familiar face pacing outside the shed, a concerned Morgan Hernandez. Hunter then wings back to the approaching RV.
Hunter shifts for a moment between Bird and Human form, looking disjointed, “I didn’t see her, but she has to be there, I saw Morgan.”
Bobby, wide eyed, nods. Brittany turns to him, “I will be Alison Harper, and they will trade me for the girl, once she is safe in the RV, and get out of there.” She gives him a smile, “Don’t worry about me, I’m a Slayer.”
Hunter flies back, hovering above the junkyard waiting for the right moment to respond. Bobby pulls up and is stopped by two of the Latin Kings.
“You have to leave,” One says menacing towards Bobby as he approaches the driver’s side window.
“Hey man, I am like here for the girl, I got the…uh package, that Susana like wanted, so let’s just get this done ok?”
The two gang members look at each other, and the same one says again, “There was no mention of a delivery.”
“Hey, you can like, piss off Susana if you want to, but that doesn’t seem, like a good idea to me.”
The gang members look at each other again; one pulls out a cell phone and sends a quick text. He gets a quick response and turns to Bobby, “Drive forward.”
The gate opens and Bobby sighs with despair realizing that it is too tight to turn his RV around and he is going to have to back out at full speed if he wants to get somewhere. He pulls forward warily. Hunter flying above, sees Morgan leave the tin shack and start walking towards the oncoming RV. He circles around, watching for signs of danger.
Bobby stops and sees the grinning face of Morgan, “Look here, its our double dealing chemist,” he looks in the passenger seat and where Brittany sits, but just sees Alison, “and you have the girl, we can finally get this done.”
Before Bobby or Morgan can speak more, the door to the tin shack smashes open and a furious Richie Hernandez, his face swaddled in bandages, stands there. He moves with an inhuman speed, pushing Morgan aside. He rips off the door of the RV with one hand and yanks Bobby out with another.
“I’m going to pop your head like a fucking pimple!” Richie’s hand tightens around Bobby’s neck and pins him to the side of the RV.
“Hey man, I had a deal with Susana, like,” Bobby is choked off as Richie tightens his grip, crushing at his throat, “I don’t care about any fucking deals, because I am going to rip you apart and drink your blood from your carved out skull.”
Morgan tugs on Richie’s arm and in Spanish, which Bobby also understands, says, “Make the trade, ok? We get the girl and then you kill him.”
Pig’s Eye Public House, St. Paul
Alek, Allison, Craig and Thomas arrive at the Public House grounds. They see a nice limo parked out front and Alek recognizes it as the one that Windsor Simon Pierce drives around the city in. They approach the door and, almost as if expected, are greeted by an elfin looking woman in an expensive dress.
“Blackthorn welcomes all to his Public House, but insists on proper manners,” She takes them all in, covered in blood and cave dust, their clothes tattered, “and he also insists on decorum. Please follow me and I can have you cleaned up and well suited for polite conversation.” She looks at Alison and gives a small sigh, “Oh you poor child that outfit will simply not do! I have the perfect thing for you.”
She hustles Alison to a side room marked for women, as an ogre of a man in a tux guides the other three to a room marked men. They take a moment to get cleaned up and refresh themselves. They then meet Alison in the Public House. The tavern is empty with the exception of some staff and two patrons. At a head table, they see Jarvis Blackthorn playing cards with Pearce.
The elfin concierge guides them towards the table, “Blackthorn, Sir, your guests are here.”
Alek, deciding that he does not want Pearce to overhear this conversation as surely what Pearce knows Chrysophylax will as well, “Blackthorn, we have some business to discuss with you, in private. Pearce represents an interested party and I would hate for this conversation to be constrained by his presence.”
Blackthorn bristles at the implication, “I can surely handle my own affairs and I do not need…”
Windsor gestures for Blackthorn to stop, “It doesn’t matter, I have some business to attend to, besides…” he shows his cards, revealing a full house, “I would have won this hand anyways.” Windsor stands and follows the concierge to a private room.
Blackthorn turns to his new guests and gestures for them to sit down, “This matter sounds simple enough, and I can easily facilitate a trade. I will contact the Winter Court, have them come, collect the girl and ensure no further interference from the Summer Court.”
Craig clears his throat, “This, this isn’t as simple as it sounds,” Craig, with his prestigious knowledge of arcane lore, begins a meandering account of various cases that set precedents that the original deal for Alison Harper is null and that honoring it would actually break the rules because the terms of the exchange invalidate themselves.
Blackthorn gives him a queer look, but Thomas notices that Blackthorn has a folded piece of paper in his pocket and while he cannot read it he recognizes HRG’s handwriting and wonders if his employer was making moves ahead of him. He takes a moment to remind Blackthorn of secret deals and other representatives that could help bring clarity to this situation.
Alison herself seems to glow for a moment, and pleads with Blackthorn, “I don’t want to go to the Winter Court, and I just want to save my father.” Surprisingly the Sidhe Lord appears to be slightly moved by these words.
Alek knows that Blackthorn can’t resist making deals, “I know the Accords are the Accords, but when you take this all in, you just have to think, what does it mean for Blackthorn if the Winter Court gets the power of the Star, what it would do to the balance here in the Twin Cities. I mean to your very position, it is better for you if she goes her own way.”
Blackthorn takes a sip of wine after listening to Alek, he touches the slip of paper and then looks towards Craig and Allison, “You convinced me that there is legal standing in the Accords to invalidate the deal, plus, I do not have interest in seeing unbalance between the Courts. I will render judgment in Alison’s favor and inform the Winter and Summer Courts of her status. She is considered her own person and will be able to enter into deals of her own accord. For now, she remains with me at the head table; feel free to take a seat in the bar to observe the proceedings.”
Relieved Alek, Craig, and Thomas head towards the bar and take a seat at the table, waiting for the Summer and Winter Court representatives to arrive.
Jojo’s Tire Shop and Junkyard, West Side, St. Paul
Brittany is taken by one of the Latin Kings from Bobby’s RV as he is being manhandled by Richie.
“Please, please don’t hurt me!” Brittany squeals, sounding like Alison and shirks back; however she underestimated her strength and when she pulls her arm away from the Red Court Vampire she accidentally sends him stumbling into a pile of tires. The yard grows silent as all the Latin Kings stare at her in surprise. Bobby rasps, “She’s got like the power of a star man.”
Brittany quickly begins to sob, and a second Latin King joins the first as they begin to escort her towards the tin building. They can see two more Latin Kings escorting a sobbing Rosalie towards the RV, as they pass each other; Richie grows tired of waiting and finally snaps.
Bobby feels him shift his grip and Richie goes to slam him into the turf, Bobby though is able to sneak his hand into his satchel, grab a sunshine potion and smash it against the side of Richie’s face. Richie screams in pain and is about to crush Bobby’s neck when he gets interrupted by Hunter. Hunter seeing the danger dive bombs Richie and in mid dive shifts with a blur from that of an eagle to a wolf. He slams into Richie’s back, causing him to drop Bobby as he is mauled by Hunter.
Pandemonium erupts; Brittany snaps to action and slams the two Red Court Vampires escorting her with a resounding crack, disorienting them both. She urges Rosalie to action, to fight and get to the RV. Rosalie reacts with surprising strength, as head butts one of the Latin Kings and sends him to the ground like a rag doll, his spine snapped.
Morgan slaps at Hunter, but isn’t able to get a hand on him as the giant wolf snaps its jaws in warning. Bobby grabs another vial of sunlight and smashes it on the ground, bathing the area in brief blast of sunlight, searing both Morgan and Richie. Richie howls in pain and stomps savagely on Bobby’s head with a booted foot. Bobby feels his skull being crushed. Morgan, feeling the pain of sunlight decides that discretion is the better part of valor and scurries off into the shadows. Hunter sees Bobby’s plight and while Richie is distracted guts him with a savage bite. Blood pours from Richie’s stomach as he howls again in pain. Bobby sees an opening and with his last vial of sunshine and slams it into Richie’s open stomach shattering it. Sunlight explodes from inside the Red Court Vampire as he rears his head roaring in pain, light and blood pouring from his orifices. He then explodes in chunky red pulp.
Brittany makes quick work of the two vampire gang members. They attempt to regain their hold on her, but she easily breaks their grasps. She then unleashes a fury of blows, breaking bones and snapping necks as they fall lifelessly beside her. A lifetime of Tai-boo work out videos seems to be paying off for Rosalie as she somehow blocks the street tough’s punch and counters with her own savage blow. The sunlight, blood explosion of Richie distracts them all for a moment, causing the last vampire to turn and run off into the shadows.
Rosalie, seeing Bobby covered in blood rushes over to thank him. Her breathing quickens as a hunger builds, Bobby seeing the look in her eyes, says, “Hey…like, yeah, why don’t you stay over there, I am not feeling tooo good ok and I don’t feel like being lunch, man.”
Rosalie shakes her head and bites her lower lip, quickly getting in control of her hunger. Hunter tried to track the remaining vampire, but in wolf form it would be too difficult for him to scramble up the cars. He decides that is efforts would be better spent helping the others link up with the rest of the group at Pig’s Eye Public House.
Pig’s Eye Public House, Saint Paul
Alek, Craig and Thomas feel a little relief wash over them. They feel like Blackthorn is setting a stage for the show that is about to begin. On one side of the Public House by a blue door set in a wall with a winter fresco, come strolling in Sylivia the Blue Eyed, a snow elf and Winter Court representative. On the other wall is a green door set in a wall with a summer fresco comes in Jenny of the River Stones and Water Nymph and a representative for the Summer Court. They exchange heated glances between each other as they take opposite seats to Blackthorn at the head table.
As their legal discussion begins, Pearce takes a seat at the table with Alek, Craig and Thomas, smoking a cigar. Smoke curls around his face, lending a shadowed cast to it. His eyes flare green as he puffs, “I must thank you for taking care of this obstacle, as my employer was irritated at the idea of having to deal with them.” He gestures to the two fairies arguing with Blackthorn, Jenny seems gleeful and Sylivia seems consumed with an ice cold rage at his words, “But to business, Alek, I have a concern, my employer is interested in Brittany Winters and Alison Harper, I would like to discuss with you the opportunity for ensuring that my employer can provide patronage to at least one of them.”
Alek blinks for a second before responding, “So you are saying that you want us to trade Brittany Winters for Alison Harper?”
Craig sees this confusion and with disgust responds, “Alison is her own person now, and so is Brittany we don’t speak for any of them. Alison is capable of making her own decisions.”
Pearce looks surprised and takes a sip of scotch, “I apologize for taking your time, gentleman.”
He excuses himself and stands, Alek looks at Craig slightly surprised. They observe Pearce stop by the elfin concierge and give her a note before walking back to his private room.
Bobby, Brittany, Hunter and Rosalie pull up in Bobby’s beat-up RV. They two are stopped by Blackthorn’s people and asked to display proper decorum and take time to get cleaned up. Brittany takes the opportunity and asks the concierge if she may use a phone.
While she is changing, Brittany decides to make two calls. Brittany then steadies herself and makes the first call.
“Hello, Steve McCellan speaking.”
“Steve, do you have a moment, there is something I need to ask you.”
“One second Brittany,” she can hear him muffle the phone for a second and hears him asking an assortment of men and women to get dressed and give him a moment, “Sorry, I was in the middle of a late night snack, you need of something?”
Brittany steals her will, knowing that White Court Vampires can be a tricky, “Yes, I need you to vouch for me as a Freeholding Lord, you can do that right?”
“Oh yes, most definitely, I do represent White Court interests, I can do it, but the question is will I.” He pauses for a moment, “Which of course I will, for a price.”
Brittany sighs, “Which is?”
“I want one night, with you and for that night, you are mine.” The lust and menace cause Brittany’s heart to race and hackles to rise.
“Steve, no, but you can have one night where you have the opportunity to…’have’ me.”
Steve laughs, “Brittany dear, I already have that. No, but I can sense your hesitancy, how about a night where you guarantee that both Madison…..and Bethany are there as well for that “opportunity.” Then we can see how things go.”
Brittany pauses for a second, “Deal.”
“Then I endorse your petition to become a Freeholding Lord.”
Brittany then makes the second call, to Madison
“Maddy, I need a favor, you represent the Gatekeeper right? And he is a part of the Accords, right?”
“Yes he is Brittany, so? I mean it’s late.”
“Could you vouch for me to be a Freeholding Lord, it would mean soo much. I mean I can get us into Steve’s club!”
“Really! Yeah, awesome, so, whatever Brit, you are a Freeholding Lord or whatever.”
“Thanks Maddy, you’re a dear, bye, bye!”
She gets changed and hands to the main floor of the Public House. She makes her way to Bobby and asks him, “So, can you endorse me as a Freeholding Lord?”
“No can do man, sorry, but like you might want to ask Ivy Tower over there.” Bobby nods his head to Craig sitting at the table watching the proceedings.
While everyone makes there way to the table that Alek, Craig and Thomas are sitting at; the meeting at Blackthorn’s table winds down. Jenny smiles and waves at the three onlookers before leaving the Public House; however the three become concerned when the concierge that they saw Pearce talking to walks over to Blackthorn and hands him a note. Blackthorn reads it and begins to lead Alison to a side room.
They are unsure about the young girl’s ability to handle the subtle nuances of a White Council trained Wizard infused by the Power of a Greater Dragon and quickly run to head off this private conversation. Sylivia, with her escort of bruisers, heads them off. Her eyes flashing with anger and she snaps at them, “How dare you interfere with Winter Court business, your actions will NOT be forgotten.”
Alek nods politely and with a smile, says, “Oh definitely yep, not forgotten,” and slides around Sylivia making a bee line to Blackthorn and Alison.
Thomas doesn’t even stop his iron infused flesh brushing against Sylivia’s escort which causes them to shirk back in terror. Craig takes Sylivia’s pointing finger to the chest as her tirade continues. He nods politely and resides himself to haranguing that he is about to receive.
“Blackthorn, wait!” Alek calls out
Blackthorn looks at Alek in annoyance, “Gentlemen it’s late, I am conducting my last bit of business, and whatever it is can wait for the morning.”
“Just one more thing Blackthorn, Thomas and I would like to go with Alison to this meeting.”
Blackthorn raises an eyebrow, “Why? It is a private meeting, it is her business, and we just established that she is independent.”
Thomas looks to Alison, “This meeting might not be safe, it would be good to have allies around.”
Alison thinks for a moment, “Blackthorn, I would like them there please, or I won’t take the meeting.”
Blackthorn smooths out his silken coat, “Very well, we must get a move on, and time is precious.”
Ask Blackthorn takes Alek, Allison and Thomas into the back hallway, Brittany is able to pull Craig from the tongue lashing he is getting from Sylivia.
“Craig, this is important,” Brittany looks intently at the young White Council Wizard, “will you vouch for me as a Freeholding Lord?”
Craig shrugs his shoulders, “Sure, why not? Who cares what the Senior Council thinks.”
Brittany sighs and feels that she will be able to deal with Pearce now that she is on an equal footing. She has three signatories of the Accords to vouch for her to get Freeholding Status. If what she knows about the lore is correct, she just needs to share this information with someone like Blackthorn and the deal should be complete.
The televisions in the room suddenly flash a news bulletin. Everyone goes silent as they hear the announcement, "Allison Harper has been found dead this morning in a ravine outside of Saint Paul.” They take in the sight of her torn body in the dark ravine as paramedics are removing her. As they get lost in their thoughts, a white faced Alek and a furious looking Thomas step out from the side room.
Bobby, Brittany, Craig and Hunter all stammer out disjointed questions. Alek shakes his head, clearly unable to speak, Thomas just states, “Blackthorn has made me promise not to say.” Hunter nudges his partner, and Alek just nods, “Yes…she’s…she’s dead.”
Bobby explodes, “This is all bullshit man, just fucking bullshit. You were with her and you let her die, fuck you and fuck this.” He then leaves the bar in a furry.
Craig doesn’t know what to do, but he takes a distraught Rosalie and decides he will use his contacts to put her in the care of the Fellowship of St. Giles; they can at least help with their affliction.
Thomas looks at his phone and begins to speak when suddenly he makes a choking sound. Thomas gets a text message reads it and then stalks out of the pub. Alek and Hunter look at their cell phones as a text message comes through, they then look at each other realizing they both received the same information. That the APB on Brittany Winters has been dropped and that tomorrow is going to be the first day of their suspension. They call for a car and sigh, realizing that the best part of tomorrow IS going to be the paperwork they are going to have to fill out.
Brittany lost a bit in grief, asks one of the staff to speak to Blackthorn. They make a quick call and he appears from behind the bar.
“It is tragic, truly tragic that young Allison died. I told her not to leave, but she wouldn’t listen.”
Brittany sighs, “I don’t want to talk about that. I want you to acknowledge that I am a Freeholding Lord and Sacred Grounds is my fiefdom. I have vouching from the Gatekeeper, the White Court, and the White Council.”
Blackthorn stares into the distance and nods, “Welcome Lady Brittany, I will be sure that Windsor Simon Pearce hears of your change in status right away. You do know he will attempt to secure you in other ways, my dear?”
Brittany nods, “Yes, but at least he can’t just use mortal authorities to bully me. He will have to come at me more directly.”
Blackthorn smiles to himself, as Brittany leaves the pub.