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Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




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Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at Mar 23, 2019 around 21:34

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Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.





Plot Synopsis

Part I

The novel begins by introducing eight souls in Brooklyn who have just been inducted into the All Night Society as Kindred. We explore the nights of each Embrace in the first chapter, establishing their backgrounds and their first moments in unlife, and then in the subsequent chapter, their first nights as one of the Damned, exploring their conditions. Each character gives a different perspective. From Zedd we get a sight of the opulence and power, from Frank the grandeur and majesty, from Dr. Chadwick some of the flaws and physical changes, from Lenny the danger and the Beast, from Grace the mystery, from Jeremy the sensual, from Leticia the mind games and power plays, from Olivia the violence and feudal pull.

Eventually, each faces an event that changes the course of their Requiem and turns them on a collision course with each other, as they approach the end of April in 2019.

Act I

First, we follow Lenny as he confronts a gang of wild Kindred in Queens with his sire Red Rhonda, who leaves him to fend against the pack of wolves when they demand recompense for their poaching on their claimed turf. Instead of acquiescing to these wishes, Lenny for the first time rides the wave of frenzy to defend himself, dissolving into a haze of red and violence as their Beasts quickly join suit as soon as he has the upper hand. Eventually he is put down into the dirt, and drifts a week or two in silence, before starkly being awakened by the taste of Rhonda's blood, bringing with it both the pain of abandonment, and yet a pang of something uncomfortable: The love that the blood bond engenders, that it is clear is unrequited.

Dr. Chadwick, finally released from his tutelage under Dubois, makes his debut into vampire society and finds himself approached by a group of young Kindred from Brooklyn College, led by a Daeva known as Genesis Lam. They invite him to join in their studies, as they are experimenting as members of the Defiant with the use of chemical and ritual to try and quicken the blood of animals to become as vital as human blood. His medical expertise, which they lack, helps them complete the ritual successfully, and they invite him to join the Defiant, which he declines, causing a rift early on as he recommits to the covenant of his sire, closing a door that might not open for him again.

Soon after his sire has gone into the eclipse of Torpor, Jeremy is seeking out any way to work through the emotions of his abandonment, as far away from the plotting of his sister in blood, Vanessa. Jeremy finds his catharsis at a run-down gym down in Bay Ridge that isn't his usual spot. A pack of wolf-blooded gym rats (wolves?) corner him and challenge him, and with his frightening strength he impresses them enough they tolerate his presence. Through these wolf-blooded, lead by a short man named Weylan, he finds that he has a power he never realized on his own and begins to enjoy the benefits of the blood... which in turn, gives him the hunger he craves. This gave him time to consider that he would soon be under a new Baron, and what that would mean, and the realization he has no idea how to be a vampire in the first place.

Zedd starts to find the attention of his sire drift away to a new favorite, creating pangs inside of him and deprivation from his Vitae addiction. He turns to other members of his family for solace and finds that they are soon being abandoned by one, which causes a toxic mixture of emotions. In a tense interaction, he learns that Rhadamanthus is leaving to take a leading role in the Second Descent, and is left with a token and an offer to learn what it is truly like to be a monster, and not simply some dapper pretension to it.

Leticia Price starts racking up debts in her attempt to create an independent space outside of her sire's influence and mind-games for herself. She finds herself a tenant of Amy Lannon, the Daeva Ostiary of the Lancea et Sanctum and childe of Martha Crowder, for a time, though having to indebt herself to Amy Lannon's liege lord Bishop Lark to do so. She decides to rob the owner of a diner in the area she used to work at, Kim Adkins, by using her Lord's words and seducing her in her home and stealing all her valuable possessions. Leaving Kim a broken wreck, she pays off her debts and starts putting out feelers for how she can keep sustaining herself in the Kindred world, letting herself be on "the market."

Grace has been given enough of a loose leash by Baron Jessica that she is stalking after her old professional rival, Kenneth Ashford Jr., and in a fit of pique decides to confront him. However, still new to controlling her Beast, his warranted question of "Who are you?" when she appears to him triggers a reaction and she brutally murders him. Horrified at what she's done but too late for second thoughts, she retreats to Baron Jessica, who realizes she will have to clean the mess. Magnanimous, they spend a night together and she promises that there will be a "restoration."

Also in Manhattan, Olivia is asked to cross a line by her sire, Gemma, that she decides is not worth crossing, when she is commanded to murder her former mentor and professor, Nora Stokely, who is starting to ask questions after she dropped out suddenly from Barnard. Instead, she reveals herself and her condition to the professor, and concocts through the use of the medical equipment on campus and a heart stolen from a cadaver a ruse to fake Professor Stokely's death. Professor Stokely then moves to Staten Island to lay low, and Olivia manages to convince Gemma of the ruse and that her professor is dead.

The Red Deacon, Francisco, has been neck-deep in the Sanctified and penitents but begins to realize that he is missing some of the larger picture. His sire begins to neglect him (purposefully he learns later) and he takes advantage of this to follow the serpentine words of a Mekhet of the Second Descent, one of Salvatore's childer, who is known as Mata. She shows him the world beneath the city, and he finds a place where he can engage in a fiery debate that isn't found in the stolid halls of the Greenwood Parish.

Zedd is here as well, lured by Rhadamanthus's promises but unwilling to be the one to lose face by reaching out first, he instead is approached by Mata as he begins to try and seek a path outside of Afterparty for himself. It is here that Zedd and Francisco meet, and that Zedd feeds on Mata and Mata feeds on Zedd, all the while Francisco is finally invited to the "next fall" where the Second Descent is testing some new initiates with a bloody ritual and castigation of their soul. As he witnesses the slaughter, Frank realizes he is out of his depth, and departs, his faith tested and now stronger than ever.

Act II

Back in Queens, the heat is on, as something Lenny thought he got away with starts to catch up to him. We learn that he let one of Rhonda's victims go, one of the ones he helped her catch later in the novel, but now he is being treated in the hospital and a personal friend of his, a police detective named Henry Lane, is asking around. He's stopped in the streets, and realizing how close he is to getting caught, begins to try and find a way to get out of Queens.

Dr. Chadwick, having closed one door, finds another opening when he learns he is not the only one of the Carthians that believes in abstaining from hunting humans. Called mockingly the Ratsuckers, he begins to associate with them and sharing his philosophy and vision of what the Kindred could be instead. This culminates when Sijuade Ibeabuchi, the Ventrue Prefect, attempted to push them to "getting over themselves", leading to a confrontation between their Beasts that then results in her backing down, especially with the Ratsuckers take his side. Now their nominal leader, he begins to take after their welfare and meets with a Nosferatu that has recently become one of them, Mary Godwin.

Formerly a young Catholic woman who delved into Satanism to rebel against her parents, she found herself in the Second Descent but was alienated by some unspecified event, leaving it behind. Due to her calloused Humanity and dubious reputation, however, she wasn't fully accepted among the Carthians, so she fell in with the Ratsuckers, the lowest rung of the State that fed on animals, not precisely by choice as she didn't have feeding rights to feed on humans. Dr. Chadwick, however, wasn't the only one that took an interest in her.

Despite her aversion to the crucifix her calloused soul caused, Mary had also gone to try and find absolution at the Church of Night. While she was turned away at the door by the Ostiary, Amy Lannon, who did not trust her as the Second Descent was fond of sending "wayward souls" as spies to the Parish, the Red Deacon found an ear that put her soul on her sleeve, and he began to counsel her. Yet she found it difficult to imagine herself going back to God, when the presence of him on Earth seemed to cause her pain, finding herself more often with the Ratsuckers and Dr. Chadwick. However, they do not realize this is about to suck them into a larger conflict.

In a seemingly unrelated sequence of events, Jeremy finds that he needs to learn how to really be a vampire, and without any support from his branch of the family, finds himself in the company of his cousins, Locke and Keyes, two witches of the Circle that are the grandchilder of Tristram de Morley, his uncle. They are deep in their own perversion, addicted and blood bond to each other, but manage to make themselves useful with their sorcery to avoid too many consequences of that. In return for their tutelage, they ask he serves as a "votary", which entails being a scapegoat sacrifice and his blood used in rituals for unwholesome exchanges.

Given some time to recover, Grace turns to try and cover her tracks. She gets a list of the attendees to the funeral of Ashford, and finds some names that stick out. One, in particular, is a wealthy donor known as Laura Chadwick, who she recognizes due to the last name. Baron Jessica had been asking about a Dr. Samuel Chadwick, and it didn't take much investigation to find that Laura had a child named Samuel, who had become a doctor. However, as she was researching their ties to Columbia/Barnard University, she quickly found an intriguing thread to tug: The grave-robbing and mutilation of a cadaver at Barnard College, and the disappearance of a professor, Nora Stokely. It had the stench of the Kindred all over it, and knowing she had erred on the King's territory, against a likely pawn of his all things considered, it might turn things around for her and Baron Jessica to get to the bottom of.

That wasn't the only problem Olivia faced. There were other disappearances as well, but these never made the news because, well, they didn't stick. Trying to find a way out of Gemma's talons, she had been spending more time with her old sorority sisters, and quickly noticed a pair had disappeared for nearly a week, causing some concern before they appeared back again... with completely different personalities and wearing all dark blue. Liv knew enough to know this was bad news and that some dark poo poo was getting its fingers into something important to her.

Leticia and King meet again in a opera hall, a private VIP box he has arranged, for a performance of the opera version of Faust. They catch up, and Leticia plays it cool, knowing there is likely some larger reason she was invited. They play around but eventually he tells her that he would like for her to leave the Parish and switch allegiance to the Baron of Red Hook, which she might balk at, being that Baron Jessica isn't much of a power player. He doesn't explain, but she gathers that he has concerns about Jessica, and that he needs someone on the inside. He tells her with a cold certainty that she won't have to do anything, but that the Baron will call upon her for her "services" as a free agent of her own will (though not necessarily a free will, is the implication). After intermission, the King is gone, leaving Leticia to ponder this alone for the opera, as Faust's deals soon turn against him and his lady love.

Act III

We open again with Lenny, plotting to leave tonight out of Queens and take refuge at Greenwood Parish where he has heard the Church of Night will take in any comers, ironic considering the turning away of Mary. However, he needs to wait until Rhonda is distracted, and he's to be her bodyman for a meeting with someone that Lenny has seen before: Mr. Roach. This loathsome creature has started to become a sycophant and henchman to Rhonda, who while uninterested in politics, is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to get an advantage or another night, living free and independent as she is. By eavesdropping, he learns that Red Rhonda is preparing for something in Brooklyn. Mr. Roach has arranged for a blood curse on the Kindred that disgraced him, which is to create some cover for her plans. Finding this his best opportunity, he makes to escape, but not before he hears the name of the Kindred in question: Mary Godwin.

Mary has disgraced herself and was nowhere on Roach's radar as a threat. When he noticed her sucking on rats near the club he alley he was stalking his prey in Sunset Park, he thought nothing of it, and only mildly threatened her to keep her mouth shut. Desperate to get any kind of recognition or feeding rights, Mary didn't think to go to Dr. Chadwick or Francisco or anyone that her best welfare at heart. She instead went to the Sheriff of Brooklyn, Thaddeus Veck. Thatch, who is good at his job, even when he hates the Carthian State, quickly arranged at the next court for Roach's exile. But likewise, he gave no special favor or recognition to Mary beyond what amounted to a pat on the head.

Soaked in blood, Mary goes to Dr. Chadwick begging for his help. She claims that she lost control and that she is desperately hungry and nothing satisfied. Thanks to his Dominate, she was stopped from feeding on him by force, but after some thought, he does give her enough Vitae from himself that she is not starving, finding that indeed Kindred vitae seems to bypass the curse, though perversely causing her to become bonded to him. With no real expertise in this matter, and knowing that the Brooklyn College coterie which would not want to hear from him, he remembers that the Red Deacon is a blood sorcerer, and reasoning he might know more about the curse, makes with Mary to find Francisco Castiglione.

Meanwhile, Grace has been able to unravel the cover-up with ease at Barnard College, only to find stranger things with the disappearances at the sorority that have gotten no media attention either. She finds there's a Kindred snooping around, and after shadowing her in Obfuscate, comes to realize that she too is investigating. Grace confronts Olivia, and they feel each other out for the first time. Olivia becomes intrigued by the Mekhet's power, a seed that will be explored later, but they tentatively decide to both work to uncover who is targeting the sorority.

Leticia finds the King was right. She receives a written invitation by Baron Jessica to attend to her at the S.S. Astarte for the possibility of a "new arrangement." While she's considering this at the subway station, a Kindred she does not recognize appears: Lenny Everett. He has arrived from Queens and is desperate to find out who can help him, and since Leticia is there by chance, she becomes the one he tells that there's a plot to cause a breach and that he needs some protection. Baron Jessica might just be that ticket, and soon the two make their way there, only to find Jeremy Miller waiting for them as well.

We go back a little to a confrontation between Mr. Roach and Jeremy. The Haunt thanks the Serpent profusely for his aid, laying it all out on the table how much it meant to him that Jeremy offered his blood and soul to the perverted witch-brothers in a time of great need for himself. This hits Jeremy deep, as he realizes that someone is in danger, and that blood is on his hands. Though only a tenant of Baron Jessica, one of the few in her territory, he decides to finally bite the bullet and petition her for aid, having nowhere else to go.

Finally. Dr. Chadwick and Mary find Francisco, and they investigate the curse. It is quickly decided to be the work of Cruac, and Francisco's expertise is able to diagnose it as a hunger curse that will cause her to need to feed on Kindred. After being talked through it by Dr. Chadwick, Mary agrees to allow herself to be staked, which both the Sanctified and Firebrand do with the utmost care, using Dominate to suppress her pain as they perform the operation, such that her blood and body will be arrested before she is a danger. Francisco hides the body, and they try to figure out who might be behind this.

Frank has an idea. They find Zedd Bassett, flipping the coin his brother gave him, their connection to the Second Descent and Mata. They have a trail to go down, another angle. While the Second Descent may not be directly responsible for the curse on Mary, this coincidence will lead them down a path that will bring these eight souls together, fragile hearts of glass to be tempered in a baptism by fire.

Part II

Act I

The book has been very sparing on details about the mysterious Jessica Rackham Moore, but it is introducing her properly into the story that the second part of the book opens with. Olivia and Grace come to her for advice. Her curiosity is piqued, and she reveals that she is hosting guests who have come to her regarding similar issues, including one of her tenants. There is a strange dream-like connection between Olivia and Jessica that we get glimpses of, but she is sent to meet on the Baron's behalf with the group of petitioners, to begin putting the pieces together.

Grace stays behind, and they share a few moments of concern. Baron Jessica asks questions as to Olivia, and why she is there, betraying a suspicion she did not exhibit previously. Then, tenderly, Jessica tends to the missing arm of Grace, that was torn off during the confrontation that happened towards the end of the previous book between the two, feeding her childe her blood, and they spend the rest of the night together.

Olivia meets with Jeremy, and through him Lenny and Leticia. The pieces start coming together: Jeremy is able to tell them that his blood was used to curse someone, and Lenny said that the vampires of Queens are trying to get involved somehow with some business in the King's backyard. It was Leticia who provided the last piece: There is poaching going on in Manhattan, though she isn't sure how it might be directly related. But by following the trail of Mary Godwin, they are able to find and confront the three vampires that were working to reverse her curse: Samuel, Zedd, and Francisco.

They have not been idle. They have teamed up with Amy Lannon, the Ostiary of the Greenwood Parish, who has been able to effectively corral them where they need to go. By now they have done their own digging and were able to determine the ritual used, and be certain that it was the work of Cruac. When Olivia confronts them, they originally are suspicious, but she invokes the name of the Baron. It's Francisco that recognizes the name, and the opportunity it presents, so throws his lot in first with verve, with the others following suit to come together and figure out what was happening.

A few nights later, they meet in an abandoned soda fountain called Candy's. The tension is thick, but the eight Kindred are able to start laying out their piece and what they need. It ends up being a round robin of grievances, yet all the pieces start connecting together. It is Olivia that asks the obvious question: What is to be done? Their answer is interrupted when there is the sound of someone at the door. They are surprised to find an old woman, Miss Patty, who asks if they would like to come in from out of the cold night.

Act II

Over the next week, a first plan is hatched as they settle in as tenants of the Baron's domain, though they plan it together without her direct input. Zedd lets them know who the weak link might be in the Second Descent, one that he and Francisco have a history with and could lure out: Mata, Salvatore's childe. The problem: She is spending most of her time in Elysium, at Crushed Velvet, Hollande's club. Amy believes that this is the best place to strike, and is the one who tells them they should apply the 'get caught' theory when it comes to breaching Elysium. (That is, "don't get caught and you're fine.") Thus, they have to draw her out, and then bag her.

We open up in the mirrors and hallways of Crushed Velvet, where they spread out. Zedd and Leticia compete to distract the majordomo, Hollande, each competing for his attention: Zedd screens one of his works for Afterparty while Leticia tries to grab the mic and put on a show. Meanwhile, Frank and Jeremy act as the bait, as Francisco plays the part of the tempted priest once more, and Jeremy's natural honey pot nature is the promise of something they might share together... elsewhere, with some privacy. Lenny and Olivia are waiting outside to grab her, but their natural rivalry begins to prickle here as they realize they are competing, rather than working together. Chadwick and Grace wait as lookouts and have a discussion about Chadwick making up for an offense he leveled at the Baron in the past, gaining each other's trust.

The plan is a success, as they put her into the trunk of the waiting cab of Hassan Patel, who knows well enough to not ask any questions, and Amy in the passenger seat holding the gun. They make their way back to Candy's, where things go a little too far. They are unable to get her to admit to anything and push her into a frenzy that ends up requiring that she be put to the ground. At that moment, they all decide to feed a bit of their blood to her, to both try and wake her in case that might help, but also to all commit themselves now as a coterie in their failure. Quickly, they realize that Salvatore will track her with blood sympathy, and they call upon the Baron for help, who provides it by taking in the torpid Mata. She magnanimously receives Chadwick's apology and accepts him into her domain, and also calls upon Francisco's counsel privately to discuss both the matter of the torpid Kindred, and also Mary Godwin. It's at this point that Amy starts to chafe a bit with the others, and it starts to become clearer she would rather have destroyed Mata instead, which makes some of the other members uneasy.

Both Francisco and Chadwick now turn to say that while they have gotten closer to the Second Descent, they need to deal with Mary, and ask that favor of their coterie. Lenny and Jeremy explain further the involvement of Roach, and of Locke and Keyes. It becomes clear that there's more than just the Second Descent involved, as Locke and Keyes are not members of Salvatore's cult. Leticia finally blurts out they need to gamble on something, and she knows exactly what to gamble it on: The warlocks, specifically one that, Grace explains, is known to be in Red Hook. It is also known that the Baron has expressly forbidden dealing with him, but the coterie, in spite of this and what they asked of her, decide it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. Zedd says that they should have an opportunity soon at an occult conjunction where they will have to renew the ritual soon, if they could get in and disrupt it. Amy speaks against the plan, and isn't the only one with concerns, but ultimately the majority decide to go with it.

Thanks to Grace's skills, they are able to track Gyges to his usual haunt, Coffey Park, wherein the middle of the night he is feeding a small flock of pigeons. Leticia is the one that steps forward to speak to them, though Lenny, more suspicious of this magician, accompanies her, while the others skulk at the edge. Leticia finds the warlock extremely eager to help, and quite friendly... Too friendly. But while Lenny voices openly his dislike of the warlock to anyone that will listen, they all eventually take him to Candy's, with the exception of Chadwick and Francisco who show up a little later with the torpid body of Mary. Gyges cheerfully explains in his peculiar way what he is willing to do: Unbind the curse from her soul and diffuse it into their Beasts, and in doing so make the curse useless. He also says that if they are able to take a draught of blood spilled in the maintenance ritual and bring it to him, he can do something... special. Having no other options, and smarting from their last failure, they accept the deal.

Part III

Olivia, Lenny, Zedd, and Grace are the ones who infiltrate the haven of the two perverse witches. They are able to find the ritual space empty, and together disrupt the correspondences. Meanwhile, Gyges is conducting a parallel ritual of his own, and in another parallel, drains a draught of Jeremy's vitae once again as a sacramental focus. Francisco holds the torpid body down as Chadwick withdraws the stake, and uses the Lord's words in an attempt to keep Mary sedate. However, Mary awakes, hungry and in a terrible frenzy, and his words find no purchase. With her Nosferatu Vigor, Mary tosses Francisco through a wall, and pins down Chadwick. With some surprising assistance and inspiration from the Majesty of Amy Lannon, Leticia intercedes, and though her power over Dominate is less seasoned, her natural powerful presence manages to break through the defenses of the Beast, and the situation is becalmed.

Gyges completes his ritual, and there is a pulse through the predatory aura of all the Kindred presence, as well as those back at Locke and Keyes, where Zedd and Olivia are trapped in the depths of the Haven when Locke and Keyes unexpectedly come home. There's a tense moment, and suddenly the burst causes the curse to befall them, fresh and strong. They fall upon themselves wantonly in the ritual space, with Grace watching on in Obfuscate unable to stop either. However, to the surprise of Lenny, who kicks down the door to try and rescue the situation, the same has happened to Locke and Keyes, who feed from each other in a perverse locked Kiss, insensate. He is able to make his way down to the stunned and confused pair, and they make their escape. (It wouldn't be the last time Olivia and Zedd tasted of each other.)

When the team reconvenes, there's some discussion of what they are to do with the curse. There is suddenly hostility against Gyges, and still feeling the cutting hunger, Lenny goes so far as to pin him up against the wall by the neck, realizing quickly that for all his reality-warping magic, he's just a fragile human after all, choking. Gyges pleads off and though Amy eggs Lenny on, the others convince Lenny to let Gyges go, who explains that this is only one part of the ritual. He needed everyone in the room to complete it, but that he had to unleash the curse, speaking of it like it was a thinking being, and spread it into their forms as a focus. He reveals the phylactery, the draught of Vitae he extracted from Jeremy, and pulls the curse into it. He then, in a sign of good faith, hands the draught to Zedd, and claims that the curse can be unleashed from the stopper of this phial whenever it is needed to be turned against their enemies. Unusually chipper for being so manhandled, he makes his leave.

A few nights pass, and an argument has sprung out over what to do next. The coterie is challenged to really see what they have in common, especially with the issue of Mary handled and it being clear to be seemingly unrelated to the issue of the Second Descent. They have not come to the Baron yet to tell her of their dealing with the warlock, nor that they have the responsibility over a Masquerade breach in Mary, who after her disappearance is being sought out after by the Myrmidon, Martha Crowder, and also the Sheriff, Thaddeus Veck. Amy Lannon is quick to say that Mary should be turned in, but this becomes a rallying point where her leadership begins to crumble, as most take the side of Francisco and Dr. Chadwick that they need more time to clear her name and get to the bottom of the mystery.

The smell of smoke however interrupts them, and quickly it becomes apparent that Candy's is on fire. It creeps up on them but lights up with tremendous alacrity, obviously not an accident. They escape and look on in horror, and split up in their own groups: Francisco and Chadwick leave with Mary. Zedd and Olivia leave and lay low in the Imperial Theater. Grace disappears, alone and in the grips of her Beast, to follow her Blood Sympathy to her sire's arms. Amy leaves for Greenwood, where Leticia is still a tenant as well and follows. Jeremy however stays, and though Lenny tries to stop him, he goes into the fire and risks his immortality to save Miss Patty from the fire, delivering her unto the first responders before disappearing. There is a small moment between him in Lenny under a bridge, and from this seed is the only hope that the coterie might survive.

Act IV

The coterie is scattered, but it does not take long that they realize they need each other. Chadwick and Francisco take refuge in the mostly disused rec center in Red Hook, hiding Mary there where she can subsist off the burgeoning rat population. They discuss whether their part is done, and both agree for one reason or another that they still owe the group. Zedd and Olivia likewise come to a similar realization, and as the two with the most investment in the Second Descent, know that this isn't over, especially if the Descent has retaliated in this way. Baron Jessica reveals to Grace she has been watching them, as Grace suspected them, the entire time. She says that an important piece is missing, and that it must be recovered. It's clear that the Baron will be the one held responsible for all of these events if it comes out, but she does not seem afraid or concerned, having an unshakeable trust that Grace will reveal for her the truth in time. She arms her with this information: She is not the only one watching the group, and not the only one that could help them. Leticia and Amy argue, and it becoems clear to Leticia that Amy simply wished to use the group to get back at the Second Descent, and resolves to no longer be the second fiddle, but take leadership in the situation, turning her back on the Parish and her landlord for the time being to return to Red Hook.

It is there in the hospital that Jeremy and Lenny are, a bit too close to daylight for their comfort. Miss Patty is in critical condition, and with her age, is not likely to make it. They are surprised as one by one, the rest of the coterie (sans Amy) return, though there's still a great uncertainty whether they are to do so together as one coterie. Once their conversation starts turning down some sensitive corners, however, Jeremy suggests they take it to the parking lot. However, they find someone waiting there: A cop. There's a sudden tension, and Jeremy immediately recognizes him: Omar Bronson. One of the gym wolves he met down in Sunset Park. The cop makes it clear he's not there to start trouble, that's why he came alone. He makes it obvious he knows what they are, but that he has something they might want to know.

He puts on a speech, which both inspires them to come together and recommit, and lets them know there's another layer that pulls it all together: That the "red-haired bitch from Queens" started the fire. It's clear now that Queens is trying to spark a hot conflict now, though for what purpose its less clear. The Second Descent's involvement is secondary, something they learned about and are trying to use as a tinderbox. Knowing it's only a matter of time before Amy uses the burning of the Haven to start this conflict with a petition to the Sheriff, they rush to get more clues from the burned out husk of Candy's, before daybreak. They find nothing, however, except... With a swirl of autumn leaves (it's spring), a water-spotted note left on the ground. Grace spots a glimpse of someone, or something, darting out of sight, before she picks it up. It's an invitation by "your kindly neighbors" to come talk about the kidnappings, and an address to a scrapyard near the Canal.

It turns out to be a motley of cambions, led by Margaret Powler, and after the initial tension, especially with sunlight beginning to creep over the horizon, they lay out all the missing pieces: Salvatore has contacted a being that they refuse to name, one of the "Others" that live in the nightmares of humanity, an alien monster. A fairy. They only know this because they have been tracking a group of "privateers", cambions that serve their old masters in return for a semblance of freedom, and it was only through the work of the coterie that they were able to find out the name of the person who was doing the kidnapping: Rhadamanthus. And their investigations have moved up the time table: The handover is to be done the next evening, just after dusk, at the gates of Gehenna under Brooklyn Heights.

While the coterie finds refuge in the rec center and discusses whether they can trust the cambions in this, we follow Baron Jessica as she finally is confronted by Salvatore within the creaking hull of the S. S. Astarte. He is genial, despite knowing that she has his childe in her custody. Baron Jessica invites him to stay in her hospitality for the nights leading up the court she knows is coming, which he accepts. They dance around the topic, and then Jessica lets him know that she knows the King has taken notice. Which is a bit of a bluff, as she does not know if Leticia is truly the childe of the King. Yet it does seem to land, and Salvatore says that soon, such things may not matter. Baron Jessica agrees, for a different reason.

Act V

We start with the motley, which is also unsure of our protagonists, and are getting ready to go in alone without the help of the Kindred. Soon enough, though, the coterie returns, and with Leticia as their voice, agree to help them. They combine their forces and discuss what is to be seen. But nobody expects to find what they do. They make their way to Brooklyn Heights, taking separate cabs and the subway, spread out in four smaller groups of three. They have to evade the notice of Primogen Narcisa and her vassals, and make their way into the tunnels that used to connect the churches of the Jehovahs Witnesses, the Underground Railroad that ended up being the starting point for Gehenna's construction, which is connected as well to the subway.

They find themselves to the iron gates of Gehenna, where the privateers and the Second Descent are meeting. There's no sign of Rhadamanthus or anyone else of note, likely because they were tipped off that there might be something dangerous. The coterie works together, and uses Gyges's bottle curse to send the vampires into a frenzy, which causes the privateers to use their contract with the sun to send them off and quickly changes the tide. With the expertise of the motley combined with their numbers, they overcome, but get a glimpse at the terrifying creature on the other side.

They rescue the sorority sisters that were to be handed over, but one in particular is not able to have her memories wiped, touched too much by the fae as she indeed had been grabbed by the being on the other side of the portal. Beverly Pulaski becomes wrapped up in a pledge later, but another loose thread for us to tug at. But ultimately, the coterie suceeds, and things are allowed to return to normal. They part ways with the coterie, with Margaret Powler being the point of contact.

They are not able to celebrate their victory for long, however, as they are called to Court. The Primogen have called for a court to take place in the Barony of Red Hook, to hear on a few subjects. Thanks to their actions, Amy's attempt to spark conflict falls flat, because Baron Jessica and Salvatore have worked behind the scenes. The burning of the Haven is revealed to be the work of Queens, and Roach is officially banished from the domain, which considering his nature feels like ash in the mouths. Locke and Keyes are sanctioned as well, having to give some of their nights to Narcisa, which they resent Jeremy for now. Other maneuvering occurs here, and many faces are seen: The Sheriff, the lesser Barons (with the noted exception of Baroness Voss, thankfully), the Herald of the King of New York, Vincent Malfo, and the Scourge, Selma Zidane.

We leave with vignettes of their coming closer together, a denouement of them finally being invested as the vassal lords and ladies under Baron Jessica Rackham Moore, setting the stage for our story proper.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




FADE IN:

EXT. GOWANUS CANAL — DUSK

TEXT: August 6, 1979.

Dusk is falling. As the sun sets, the lights of New York City begin to flicker on. Under the red-orange haze,
even through the smog, the churning waters of the Gowanus Canal glint under the last of the fading sun. We focus
on a barge filled to the brim with trash. Men in yellow vests sift through the trash, forming a dragnet across
the piles of refuse. Police tape is drawn across a perimeter, closing further and further in.

The hot, humid summer wind blows, and carries it a discarded issue of the Post, which catches against a stray
piece of rebar, with the headline impacting across the screen: "BROOKLYN SLASHER CLAIMS ANOTHER." The
paper is scraped aside. LEO ACIERNO, a sanitation worker for the city, is sifting through the trash.


INTERCUT: A sound of chittering, and plastic rummaging.

LEO follows the sound and we his gaze, as he finds a black plastic trash bag that seems to be moving.

LEO: Hey, I've found something here!

Center the focus on the bag, which undulates in an uncanny way. Carefully, with gloved hands, LEO puts his
hands down to hold it in place, and then lets go when he feels something bite him, even through the
leather of the gloves.


LEO: What the hell? Get Animal Control over here, I think it's some rats dug in here. Dear God, the smell...

Waving his hand in front of him, he takes his box cutter in hand and tears at the plastic, and whatever was
inside comes spilling out, chittering and flapping. It isn't a bag full of rats, but of bats, that
spread out in a small flock, still living, and up towards the sky, leaving Leo sprawled back, quickly being
attended to by some of the other workers as we follow them up into the night sky.


CUE: Opening music.



Open our story with a montage of your domain. The people within it. The Sites to seize. The character of Red Hook as it is under your control, and introduce us to the early evening and night of your character. At midnight, they are being called to attend the Barony's Court, but they have several hours until they are expected. Give us a taste, a little peek into your character's world, through their eyes. All while the song thrums in our ears. Eventually, all are brought to the S.S. Astarte, the scene from which we will start our story.

Your starting Vitae has been set based on your appropriate Merits and Domain, and adjusted for other feeding habits (-2 for Dr. Chadwick's reliance on animals to be precise.)



INT. S.S. ASTARTE — NIGHT

The upper deck of the Astarte is a two-tiered room accessible by ladder and bulkhead, with a winding
staircase to the second floor, which has been fitted with velvet curtains and various furniture, while the upper
floor is usable like a gallery for viewing down below, and has various illustrations on display from the BARON's
collection, posters from the height of Art Noueveau, paintings in the Vienna Secession movement, and ink drawings
of a peculiar imagination, all lit by various candelabras.

The three USHERS are there to attend to the needs of the guests, silently appearing when called and otherwise
fading into the various pools of darkness, as the area if poorly lit otherwise, with dim flickering shadows all
around, and the shifting ground underneath giving a feeling of uncertainty one's footing. The creaking of the
old ship further adds a sense of foreboding to all of the atmosphere, and yet at this point, there is a sense
of familiarity.




A familiarity that you have cultivated. As one of the vassal lords of the domain, you have added some affectation or corner to the Court that is your own. What is it?

In addition to the eight of you, there are three other attendees to tonight's COURT.

The first and perhaps most surprising is GYGES, the warlock that has been given tenancy by GRACE LAHR. It is
within his rights as a tenant of course to attend the Baron's Court, but it is also somewhat unusual for him
in his hermitage. He examines a particular piece of the BARON's collection with rapt interest. Whatever has
brought him here, it might be a cause for concern, especially as the BARON is not very fond of the warlock
despite the aid he has given the coterie.

Less surprising but still of concern is MARY GODWIN. The neonate has recently been denied feeding rights again
in the Ward of GAVRIL RAPTIS, across the canal in the Carthian State. Tired of living among the Ratsuckers, it
is obvious she is here to plead and request tenancy from the BARON or one of her vassals, and will quickly
attach herself to anyone she recognizes if given the chance, like a remora.

Last is a MYSTERY GUEST that none of you immediately recognize. She is noteworthy because she sits in the throne
of the Baron, a Baroque Lion King chair with deep emerald upholstery with golden accents and solid mahogany. The
last person that wasn't the BARON to sit in that chair was NARCISA CREMONOSA when the Primogen last attended Court
in JESSICA's domain. It was, as many things are in vampire society, both an insult and an honor.

The MYSTERY GUEST is a small woman with short, curly black hair and dusky skin, looking almost emaciated though not
particularly old. She is obviously a vampire, with a potent, hungry aura that hangs over her, and cold black eyes
set into her sockets. She wears black lace and a veil, wrapped about her and obscuring some of her features.

The BARON JESSICA is nowhere to be seen, though that is unlikely to remain the case for long.


Make an entrance.

Remember the principle of One Move. An Intelligence + Politics roll could tell you who the honored guest is by context and reputation (Zedd, you would get a +2 bonus to this roll.) A Presence + Socialize could be used to make a strong first impression. A Wits + Composure roll might give you insight into what the Baron has planned by how she has set the room.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at Mar 23, 2019 around 19:35

Shogeton
Apr 26, 2007

"Little by little the old world crumbled, and not once did the king imagine that some of the pieces might fall on him"



The scene opens on something red, that is moving, zooming out bit by bit to show that is the arm of a person in Hispanic ethnicity, the arm covered with gang tattoos. It is one of many lacerations, being carefully cleaned of blood and disinfected by the gloved hands of a doctor. As the doctor throws away the cottons he used to swap away the blood and reaches for the needle, the man reaches for a bottle to take a swig of cheap liquor. The doctor speaks up and shakes his head. The patient, clearly displeased yells something back and takes the drink. The doctor holds the man's eyes for a moment, then focuses down on the wound again. His eyes linger a bit on the blood covered cloth, and he scowls slightly.

The scene zooms to the exterior of the office. Cheap buildings, covered in gang tags. The streets are in bad repair, garbage piling up in front of abandoned homes. The only people still walking are people like the hispanic gang that just leaves the office, and they walk in a group of five, swaggering, but peering around carefully. As the door opens again, we see a new, gilded plaque in front of a door, meticulously clean. "Dr. Samuel Chadwick: MD" it proclaims. Dr. Chadwick himself leaves, in a coat with a small briefcase alongside of him.

He moves away from the apartment past Red Hook park. From a low perspective we see used syringes lying among dead and dying shrubs. Two small groups of men, one of them Hispanic, the other black are facing each other, talking tensely. A man with three angrily barking dogs sits on a bench and watches, smoking a cigarette. Dr. Chadwick steps on some glass shards as he passes, and all the men face him, reaching for weapons, only to pause when they see a middle aged man protectively holding his little suitcase in front of him. They yell something and Dr. Chadwick hurries on. But the three dogs continue to bark in his direction, ears flat on their heads.

Further south, past crumbling baseball fields, homeless vagrants sleeping under the bleachers. Ever south to the harbor. Warehouses stand empty, deserted containers rusting away, barrels with several signs marking how toxic their substance is quietly leaking their contents in the dead soil. The streets here are deserted, even the gang tags here seem faded and old. Only one homeless person, missing his left hand is sitting by the side of the road, looking furtive as Dr. Chadwick approaches. They exchange some words, Dr. Chadwick trying to convince him of something, but the man shaking his head. Finally, the doctor takes out some change to give to the man, and walks on, passing several badly rusted 'no entry' signs to long unused harbor.

Some brief scenes where we skip between the two people.

Dr. Chadwick putting opening his case, putting on some plastic gloves.

The homeless man using his one hand and teeth to tie a ripe around the other arm.

Dr. Chadwick looking around, finding some rats feeding on the carrion of a pigeon.

The homeless man takes out a spoon and fills it with white powder, holding the spoon in his mouth.

Dr. Chadwick looks at the rat, making a beckoning call. One rat obeys, the others, spooked, quickly scatter.

The homeless man uses a cheap lighter to liquefy the heroin, spilling some drops as he shakes.

Dr Chadwick reaches out to take the rat in his hand, his lips curling back to reveal vampire teeth. The rat stares in helpless fear.

The homeless man carefully puts the spoon on the ground, taking out his syringe, and filling it up.

Dr. Chadwick, with practiced ease snaps the rats neck before pressing in the syringe. His lips are closed tightly, hiding the teeth, the eyes are forcibly calm and clinical.

The homeless man puts the needle in the vein and injects, letting out a sigh of relief.

Dr. Chadwick takes out the syringe's capsule, filled with most of the rat's blood and quickly, hurriedly washes it down, letting out a sigh of relief followed by a little shiver of distaste.

We see Dr. Chadwick leaving again, looking a bit less nervous. He passes the homeless man, who is laying on his back, lost to the world. Dr. Chadwick gives a sad look, puts on the gloves again to carefully put the man on his side.

Back north we go, in the shadow of the Gowanus Expy a firetruck is standing by the side of the road. Two police officers finishing searching the pockets of a relatively short fireman in uniform, contempt on their face. The camera lingers on the pride 'Happy Hookers' mark of the firetruck. Dr Chadwick passes by on his way to the community center.

He uses a side entrance, keys used to open an underground room. It is large, with a large meeting table with a white board in the middle. A picture of an old lady, Miss Patty, with a broad and kind smile is in a place of prominence. There's signs of the others having claim here too. A small place of prayer, a TV with VCR, some barbells, some place to develop pictures. But only one seems to actually live here. There is an actual bed for sleeping, with an alarm clock. A small desk is there as well, and a bookcase. A picture of his mother and a letter from Jack Washington adorn the wall. He takes a book titled 'The Psychology of Addiction' and starts reading it, now and then scribbling some notes on the paper he has.

At 2 am, the alarm goes goes off. The doctor calmly finishes his page, and puts the things away. He showers. He dresses in clothes that are well fitting but stolid, the dark blue tie the only real colour. He moves to go and be punctual about his meeting.

The S.S. Astarte has a few marks of his own presence here. A few portraits are hanging of several philosophers from the Enlightenment era, even if many of them might have had different messages. Voltaire and Hume, Kant and Jefferson, Rousseau and Stuart Mill. A single bust of Hypocrates also looks upon the art nouveau with stone eyes, and a photograph of Marie Curie.

The doctor would enter, looking around, a bit surprised by someone sitting on that chair. It seemed like nobody else was around yet. But then, the doctor tended to be very punctual. He politely nodded at the Ushers as they let him in, even if they never answered. His face lit up when he saw the two other people that were around. Gyges was given a friendly nod, but Dr. Chadwick knew who he should talk to first. Miss Godwin was really in a tense situation here, and after the trauma she was put through, could use a friendly face.

"Good night to you, miss Godwin. Always good to see you. I hope you have been well?" he approached with a smile.

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.




The sun sets, but the inside of the bathroom is complete darkness. Lenny wakes from the sleep of the dead with a dissatisfied grunt, and a stretch as he sits up in the bathtub, once the pain has faded. It's the little things that make it all seem more bearable. More normal. So, in complete darkness, he begins his morning evening exercises. Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges. It's strange, not benefiting in a physical way from such things, or not feeling the tiredness in his muscles, but the routine helps make his waking pass easier, and prepares his mind for the coming battle of the night - for every night was, indeed, a battle. He had learned that very early into his Embrace. With the Beast, with the hunger, with the other vampires in your territory. Some resort to violence. Other resort to more sinister means of moving against you.

The rest of his apartment is spartan, but functional. The bedroom holds an unused single bed. The kitchen was small, and stocked with non-perishables cleaning supplies and a first-aid kit, though the fridge was empty save for bottles of water. In the living room, a single couch is parked opposite a dingy television. A single plastic plant on the coffee table is the only decoration. Humans might consider it awful, even before considering the dilapidated wallpaper. For Lenny, it wasn't home, but it was good enough.

In Lenny's case, he had more than the usual to contend with. Rufus Coyle and Elroy Goode were more practiced, more vicious in their tactics than he was. But Baron Jessica, in the last year, had quickly realized that her new soldier was one who didn't stupidly charge into the fight. He had always worked best from the shadows, now even more so than when he was a mortal. In this particular case, as he had watched the evening news, the Nosferatu thug had taken to bringing terror to one of the few people in his territory Lenny actually liked; Betty Summers, the young yet brazen nurse at the Roots Veterinary Hospital. Where the mortal criminals in charge of the dog fighting rings had little to say about her practice or which patients she took in, a Nosferatu like Rufus wielded fear like a conductor wields his baton. It would get out of hand real quick.

He shows up a little past nine. The police had long since abandoned the scene - in a 'victimless' crime like this, it wasn't really their priority. So when he peeks his head in the door of the clinic, blinking somewhat against the sterile light of the fluorescent tubes, Betty starts somewhat from behind the reception desk, only to relax visibly when she spies Lenny.

"Sorry if I startled you," Lenny begins, affecting some concern, "I saw the news. They must've really gotten to you. Haven't seen Steely Summers this fidgety before." The nickname brings forth half a laugh from the nurse. A small bit of joy in an otherwise dour mood.

"Oh, shut up, you," she replies, before her expression falls again, "but...yeah. I don't understand why someone would do that to a poor defenseless dog, you know? That drat serial killer is bringing out the worst in people, I tell you." As she comes closer, he can smell her blood. It's delicious. The iron is accented with something floral, and a slight hint of herbs.

Lenny nods in agreement. "Yeah. Listen, I can't really hang out tonight - I just wanted to check in on you - but I promise I'm going to find out who's behind this, and make sure they don't bother you again, alright? You're doing a good thing for this neighborhood, and anyone who's trying to make you stop has the wrong priorities."

Betty gives him a look. "I appreciate it, Lenny, but don't get yourself into trouble on my account, you hear? I patch up animals, not people. I would hate to see you get hurt over this." His dismissive wave and beginnings of a retort are silenced by a sharp poke in his chest. "I'm serious, you numbskull. It's all well and good you want to play the white knight, but if they're trying to make me stop working here, they're gonna have to do better than that. It's not worth picking a fight over."

Lenny stares at her for a moment. "Maybe you're right. I'll keep an eye out all the same, though. At the very least I can report them to the cops." His hand lands on Betty's shoulder. The touch makes the Beast flare up subduekillfeed but he ignores it as he squeezes, gently, to reassure her. "You hang in there, Betty. Don't let these kids get to you." Easier said then done... but what little he can do to keep her strong, for now, would have to do, until he could properly reclaim the Baron's territory. Or at least deal with Rufus.

As he prowls the streets of his territory, a part of him wishes he could rip Rufus into shreds right there. The Beast agrees with that part wholeheartedly. Another murder on the streets of Gowanus wouldn't really stand out that much. Between the gangs and the mob, it seemed not a day went by without a body dropping here or there. But the more reasonable part of him knows that if he bumped into Rufus right now, the fight would most likely go very poorly. He might win, but it would be close. Better to at least have some of the coterie on his side, and make sure he wouldn't be crippled by the end of it.

Lenny passes Gloria's Diner around eleven. She's just finishing up her shift, leaving the graveyard shift to her son-in-law, who is not nearly as sharp-witted but a good workhorse all the same. Unlike with Roots, he doesn't walk inside, instead taking up space in the alley across the street, and watching the cozy diner through the window. At this time, there's not a lot of customers, but the matronly woman makes sure to take care of them all the same. The conversing brutes in one of the corner booths hush their voices when she comes over, but are polite enough to thank her for her refill. She makes some small conversation with the old man sitting alone, and it never fails to bring a smile to his face. The construction workers pull out a hip flask to add lovely whisky to their decent coffee, and think she doesn't notice.

When Gloria steps outside, she turns to look at the alley, with the creeping sensation that somebody is watching her. She sees nothing, however, as Lenny has already moved on. Having a little while until he is needed at the Astarte, he decides to patrol the streets, instead. Nothing really shows up. Sure, there are the occasional gang hoodlums, but he's practiced enough to avoid them without making a fuss. He lets them go about their business. Crime is not his problem. Not really. He's got worse things to worry about.

He arrives at his second safehouse a bit later. He steps over the sleeping homeless man in the abandoned office hallway, and makes his way to the basement. The traps and locks are easy enough to deal with, given that he put them there. When he arrives in the room, it is looking even worse than his apartment, if such a thing is possible. Other than the door, it is concrete on all sides. The middle holds a rickety metal table and two chairs. A single burnt-out lightbulb that needs replacing hangs above; one would almost think it an interrogation room. He hasn't had to use it for that, not yet, but it's always good to be prepared. From the safe buried in the floor, he retrieves two things; his wedding ring and his dogtags. That's the one good thing about being buried. Nobody really cares to take your stuff.

The soldier sits there for a while, studying the objects in his hands. His Embrace had given him more than just a hunger and a Beast. Darkness no longer clouded his eyes. He could hear someone from a block away, if he wanted to. And now, rolling the ring in his fingers, tightening his other fist around the dog-tags, he could almost feel the memories with them. Without any distractions, he is free to let his mind wander. The oppressive humidity of the jungle. The mosquitos. The bullets. The fire. It plays out like one of Zedd's warmovies, but one thing always remains the same. The blood. Red. Shining. And then there's Mallory. With her smile. Her hopeful eyes. Blue like the brightest sky. Far away from the violence. Both colors are stark against the otherwise grayscale memories. Like a spotlight in a dark tunnel.

He moves for Jessica's court a little later, his mementos safely back in their box. Lenny doesn't arrive quite as early as the doctor, but he's punctual all the same. A good soldier doesn't arrive late. His 'personal' touch to the ship have been much less pronounced than what the others have brought. Only a single framed item; a Bronze Star medal. This, too, was a personal memento he had been buried with, but unlike the other two, he had decided to give it up as a sign of his loyalty to the Baron when she took him in and gave him her protection.

Lenny arrives into the room like shadow given solid form. He doesn't have some of the other coterie's members magical prowess in hiding himself, but he makes up for it with a lifetime of experience in navigating the dark places. He doesn't acknowledge any of the guests, barring Doctor Chadwick, who gets a friendly nod, as he takes a military stance, arms behind his back, in the back of the room, waiting for the Baron to arrive. The Beast in him rages trespasserkilldestroy at the sight of Gyges, but their argument had already been had. It was not for him to go against the coterie now - and especially not here. Jessica would not take kindly to blood spilled in her court, and no doubt she had a delightful show planned once again. So he waits, and watches. The silent sentry.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




INT. S.S. ASTARTE — NIGHT

Shogeton posted:

"Good night to you, miss Godwin. Always good to see you. I hope you have been well?" he approached with a smile.
TITLE CARD:

MARY freezes instinctually at the feeling of a creeping Beast upon her, and hers responds in kind. It slithers like a serpent, coiling up and rearing back, but her expression belies this reaction, lighting up with recognition at the doctor. She moves in, a bit extra close, and then hesitates, stepping back as their Beasts cool off in that moment, biting a bit on her lip as she seems to be trying to gauge the situation. He was now more than just a mentor now, after all, his station had been elevated. She didn't know precisely how to be deferential.

MARY: Dr. Chadwick! I... Is it like, Lord Chadwick now? Should I, like, curtsey?

MARY's laughter is nervous, and it's clear she's only half joking, though SAMUEL knows well enough that she's capable of being purposeful, and manipulative, about such things to get what she wants.

MARY: Hey, what's the Baron like? I... I don't really know how this all works, but things seem to be changing around here. I don't want to get in the way, I just want to... find somewhere to be.

Success on Presence + Socialize. You will be able to generally get the honest gist of why Mary is here, and keep her nerves down.

If you would like to do a short exchange over Discord, let me know.

Wahad posted:

Lenny arrives into the room like shadow given solid form. He doesn't have some of the other coterie's members magical prowess in hiding himself, but he makes up for it with a lifetime of experience in navigating the dark places. He doesn't acknowledge any of the guests, barring Doctor Chadwick, who gets a friendly nod, as he takes a military stance, arms behind his back, in the back of the room, waiting for the Baron to arrive. The Beast in him rages trespasserkilldestroy at the sight of Gyges, but their argument had already been had. It was not for him to go against the coterie now - and especially not here. Jessica would not take kindly to blood spilled in her court, and no doubt she had a delightful show planned once again. So he waits, and watches. The silent sentry.

TITLE CARD:

GYGES is returning the wave of the arriving Doctor with a little wave of his own, other hand at his elbow as he distracted peers over. A warlock such as he does not have the predatory aura of the Kindred, nor the feral mien of the lupines, but there is an unsettling feeling that follows them, of an instinctual wrongness that marks them, which only exacerbates the natural feeling of an intruder that LENNY has taken with the man. GYGES' beady, gray-blue eyes meets Lenny for a moment, but do not otherwise distract the sentinel from his nightly work.

Success on Wits + Composure. Lenny: The stage is not prepared for tonight, which is unusual. Usually the Baron Jessica would make to have some sort of opener or entertainment, but there is a decided dryer tone in the air. The mysterious guest that rests in her throne chair in particular sticks out, watching each of you as you enter carefully, with the coiled measure of a tiger lazing inside its cage, glinting eyes in the dark moving between those that come to gawk at it. It strikes you that whoever this person is, they must outrank the Baron in some way. They are one of two things: The guest of honor, or the usurper. The lack of the Baron would normally be a little more concerning, but you notice something new in the hold: The vinyl turntable that you and Grace had gotten for the Baron a few months ago, with a record in its sleeve atop it. Even though you cannot see her, you suddenly feel Jessica's presence, which at least quiets any sense of danger that might come. This is her design.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at Mar 24, 2019 around 19:08

mistaya
Oct 18, 2006

Cat of Wealth and Taste



Intro: West Gowanus

The sun sets slowly over the Union Street bridge, the canal gurgling murkily below it as a barge floats on by. For a moment, the camera pans to the right, showing the smoke and grime of the industrial district, where the foundries are still glowing with the heat of the day, and then it swings left,diving over the heads of working class folks of every race, color, and creed heading home for the evening. A river of bodies all moving in the same direction.

The streets are crowded with life and someone sitting on the front step of a shoe store with a [Closed] sign in the window starts picking at the strings of an old guitar.

We keep going, faster, until the signs and the people blur and then the camera turns and halts in front of a dingy seafood place that says ‘Sloppy Louie’s’ over the door. We follow some poor lost soul who’s crazy enough to eat there as he pushes the door open and waves to the chubby man in the stained apron behind the counter, who flips him off. Then back we go through the kitchen doors, past pots of bubbling shrimp and the rusty meat cleaver stuck into the counter. Through another door and up two flights of rickety stairs, to a cozy boudoir full of mismatched furniture that hardly fits in with the fishy downstairs. An alarm clock rings itself off a bookshelf as the guitar chords repeat, and a man’s hand reaches out of the pile of faux-tiger fur blankets to silence it.

The camera backs up as Jeremy Miller rolls out of bed, wearing a white wife-beater and sweatpants. He picks up a coffee mug with his toothbrush in it and heads for the stairs. We retreat backwards through the royal purple curtains hanging over the bricked up windows, and pan down again to the front door, where Jeremy is exiting Sloppy Louie’s wearing a more practical burgundy velour v-cut shirt and tan pants, running a comb through his excellently groomed hair. He tucks it away somewhere and struts down the street with his hands in his pockets, making sure to see and be seen. People turn and watch as he goes, and he gives the smolder to a group of ladies walking the other direction, who all sigh, including the nun.

It’s fully dark now, and Jeremy saunters under the streetlights like he owns the place, doing a full tour of his little patch of dirt as he does most nights. There’s a triple-cut of him stopping at every bar that’s open, doing a little dance at every club, and tipping his invisible hat to the Hispanic couple who run the bodega. As he’s walking out of there, a skinny guy with a big coat and a switchblade tries to mug him and instantly regrets it, as Jeremy tosses him and his knife into the alley dumpster, disturbing a cat who protests angrily. He walks past the big line of yellow cabs on the sidewalk in front of Modi’s taxi stand and pops in to wave at Hassan, who jingles his keys and thumbs towards the window.

A short cut of him in the back of the cab, chatting with Hassan. The cabbie mentions a news story that he’s been hearing on the radio about some missing bodies down at the morgue, which Jeremy takes an interest in, and then pulls to a stop in front of Arnaud’s gym. The painted blue bricks are cracked and peeling, and the U in the neon sign is flickering. He pushes through the door into what looks like an old body shop, and still is, in a way. A bunch of gruff, hairy men are pumping iron or using the elastic resistance trainers. Jeremy stands out here. He’s too perfect, to pretty, the stares he gets are suspicious instead of interested. But he ignores all of that and finds an open bench press, stripping off his shirt and leaning back on the cracked leather. Omar walks over to spot for him, as he lifts a bar that would crush most humans.

He asks a few questions about the morgue story while he has the cop’s attention, and after he’s done with his set he checks the clock in the cage on the wall. It’s nearly eleven.

Hassan gets him back to the taxi stand, and as he walks out of there we cut to him spending some time talking to the corner girls, lifting one’s chin to reveal the bruises on her face. He frowns, and we pan up to the stars and spin to the left, then back down to Jeremy walking down the street, looking pretty torn up but very pleased with himself. He makes it back to the Union Street bridge and stops in the middle of it, leaning on the railing and looking out at whatever passes for the ocean in that direction. He pulls his comb out of his pocket but it’s been snapped in half. He laughs and tosses it into the canal, runs his fingers through his hair, and then heads back towards Louie’s, hands laced behind his head, whistling the last few bars of the tune that finished a few seconds ago.

---

With an hour to go before the meeting, he grabs a suit-bag hanging on the door of his extremely packed closet. Cut to the rec center, where he waves to the Doctor, who’s reading, and heads for the locker room by the pool area. A tasty tasteful shower scene later, he buttons up his cross-patterned paisley nylon shirt, matched with black pants and shiny new patent leather shoes, heading back to the taxi stand to catch a ride to the S.S. Astarte.

---

Jeremy’s contribution to the Astarte is everywhere from the shag carpeting upstairs to the plush velvet curtains with their gold rope accents. Embroidered tablecloths, the matching inlays on the chairs, the leather high backs in the corner with their brass buttons, he’s the one who really helped Jessica outfit the place back when it was just the two of them. As a result there’s no singular feature that’s all his, except perhaps the disco ball he wired up on the ceiling that Jessica has yet to let him use. He’s confident it’ll happen one day.

---

Jeremy walks into the ship with the swagger of a favorite son coming over for Sunday dinner. He gives the ushers a cursory nod, having given up on engaging them in conversation some weeks ago, and stops to greet Lenny with a friendly fist-bump. After they talk for a minute he notices the stranger in the Baron’s chair and drifts that way. He avoids Gyges entirely, not even giving him the courtesy of a look or a nod. Mary and the Doctor seem busy, so he doesn’t interrupt them either.

“Hello there, madam,” he addresses the stranger from her left side with a respectful bow. It seems unlikely to him that Jessica would allow this person to invade her chair unless it was part of her plan, and Jeremy is fine with playing along. “I hope you’re finding our humble ship to your liking.” He shifts his weight effortlessly, looking quite the picture of masculinity as he offers a hand towards her, palm up. If she takes it, he’ll kiss her fingers lightly. If she doesn’t, he’ll make it look like it was only a sweeping gesture with his hand. In either case, he’ll then mimic Lenny, positioned at her side with his hands laced behind him, as though protecting the seat, if not the woman currently sitting in it.

Jeremy considers it his place to entertain the guests at court and put them at ease. It doesn’t matter what Jessica’s plans are, a relaxed guest is both more pliable and less likely to see a dagger in the back coming.

(4 Successes on Presence+Socialize+Striking Looks to make a first impression.)

mistaya fucked around with this message at Mar 25, 2019 around 00:00

ilootthecorpse
Oct 13, 2010




A bloody moon rises over Brooklyn. Luna is huge and distended, the bloated gut of a pallid corpse floating over the skeletal trees and crumbling tenements of the city. Crows cackle and wail on the wind, wheeling overhead, attracted by the scent of spoiled carrion. Before them lies Red Hook West, the projects. It is a fortress of soot-stained brick towers with crenelated roofs and iron barred windows. Nothing comes in, or gets out, that does not belong. The murder dives, cawing raucously. They settle down onto a dumpster overflowing with trash where the find a special treat. The crows scrabble with one another over a morsel of putrid hamburger and a bucket of stripped chicken bones. In a nook beside the dumpsters a shaky man with sores on his fingers and lips holds a lighter with a tall flame beneath a light bulb. The glass fills with yellow smoke and the man inhales it through a hole bored in the metal bottom. His equally yellow eyes are full of lust for the poisonous cloud.

There are people all around huddled in groups, smoking and drinking. Young men in dark blue gang colors laugh and heckle each other loudly over a game of dominoes while a different group exchanges sweaty, crumpled bills around a game of dice. Other tenants give the gangsters worried looks while they hurry by, clutching their valuables in their pockets, only wishing to ascend through the brick towers' cramped and darkened hallways to their crumbling apartments. Some of the gangsters look worried too. They glance cautiously at a duo of huge, muscled toughs in somber black outfits flanking a door which leads to the basement. Everybody is giving them a wide berth, except for one sickly looking young woman. She takes one last drag from her cigarette and says something to the bouncers. They let her by.

The door flings open and descends into a labyrinth of tight, low hallways. The florescent lights gutter overhead. From below there are voices, their echoes filling the halls, so disjointed and distorted that it is impossible to tell whether their are moans or screams. The woman doesn't looks afraid. No, she is excited. She is almost jogging through the dark, never losing her way through the nearly identical tunnels, until she finds the door. It is covered with chipped green lead paint except for the fresh black cross that has been added to the center. She can hardly breathe.

Inside is a sanctum. Hundreds of candles line the walls, casting a ruddy glow through red glass over a throng of sweaty, half-naked bodies. The coil around each other like a pit of snakes, moaning and exalting to God, but all of them reaching towards the man at their center: Francisco Castiglione, the Red Deacon. Salvation is on his tongue, fire in his eyes, and fresh, red blood on his fangs. The congregation grips at his clothes, clawing up his body. There is a fever in them, in their minds and on their brows. They reach up until they envelope him, surrounding him until only his outstretched hand gripping his rosary remains.

Everything goes black.

- - -

People had been disappearing in the projects. Most of the residents assumed it was the work of the serial killer terrorizing the rest of city, but Francisco knew better. He could feel the intrusion of another kindred in his domain; there was a poacher. And a smart one. So far he had not been able to catch the interloper during their predations, but tonight Baron Jessica was holding court. He could find help in the coterie, but in the mean time he needed all eyes on the lookout.

"Don't do anything risky, just keep your eyes open." Francisco was addressing his flock who lay about him in rapture. They loved him, they would do anything for him, and this was just a simple request. They ached to impress him. "Don't go anywhere unless you're with somebody else, lock your doors and windows. If you see something, remember it, write it down, but don't go chasing it. Just tell me when I get back. Claro?"

"Yes, father." They all nodded, already forming into pairs and trios, hugging tightly. Francisco waited by the door for each of them to leave, offering a smile and a final touch to comfort them on their way into the night. When they were gone the deacon removed his stole, red and black in the colors of the Lance, and hung it around the cross on his alter.

He emerged from the basement dressed for court: black slacks, a white mandarin shirt unbuttoned at the neck, black boots, and a black satin bomber. Not too showy, but more appropriate than his ratty service jacket. Franky pursed a cigarette between his lips and flicked open his brass lighter. The word 'sinner' had been etched neatly into the case. The fire jumped up from its wick, reflecting in the back of his eyes like an animal, causing his Beast to hackle and snarl beneath the skin.

"You want a ride, boss? The docks is real far." One of the door guards was locking up behind him, looking over his shoulder at the deacon.

"No, pero gracias," he said, letting the smoke trickle out around his words. "I'll walk. It's a nice night." Francisco tucked his hands into his jacket pockets, letting the cig dangle between his lips, and started off south towards the docks. A lamp post flickered as he passed beneath it.

- - -

Wings and claws announced Francisco's arrival. Gulls, pigeons, and rats were startled from their roosts by the smoldering growl of his Beast. They took to the air and scurried away along hollow pipes, their scrabbling claws echoing throughout the ship. Franky smiled. The Doctor could have a feast. His boots made a dull ring on the diamond-holed iron steps leading down from topside into the belly of the S.S. Astarte.

One of his personal additions to the space lie directly at the bottom. A small oak table held a shallow brass basin filled with water, a white stone statuary of St. Nicolas, and a candle from the carniceria around the corner bearing the Virgin Guadalupe on its side. The butcher's wife paints the candles herself and is truly talented, effortlessly capturing the Emanation's look of sadness on a dozen candles per day. Francisco dips his fingers into the water, just wetting the tips. "In nomine Patris, et filii, et spiritus sancti." He performs the cross over his chest and then rubs his thumb over St. Nicolas's head, for luck.

Down in the cargo hold Franky took his time finding a seat. It didn't appear that everybody was here yet, so there was no reason to rush. He let everybody pass beneath a cool gaze, nodding to Lenny skulking on the outside, and to the beautiful Jeremy entertaining the Baron in her throne. No, not the Baron. Somebody else. Francisco's Beast threatened to rise, an ember kindling in his stomach. Who would dare sit in Baron Jessica's place? He was reminded, though, that nothing happens in Red Hook outside of the Baron's grand design. She would be nearby, watching, and so he would watch as well.

The Deacon's other contribution to the Astarte hung behind the seats, on the wall opposite to the stage. Bouguereau's painting of Dante and Virgil in Hell dominated the space, at least ten feet tall and eight wide, a stark reminder to the congregation. We are damned. We must live in perdition forever, and so we make our own salvation beyond the walls of the Garden, or perish. Jeremy had insisted on a gaudy stacked golden frame to match his own personal decor. Frank liked it.

"Buona sera, Mary. Doctor." Francisco passed by Samuel and Mary Godwin sitting together, chatting amicably. The Doctor looked composed as always, but Mary seemed nervous. It was not difficult to imagine why. He knew that she was not being well-regarded in the Carthian State, even on the lowest rung. She would be here to ask for tenancy in the Barony. Francisco, for his part, was willing to take her in, if Jessica were feeling so magnanimous. Samuel would be too, he imagined. The deacon gave the girl a warm smile, making certain to catch her eyes, those starving eyes, and then glanced down at the first row of seats. An invitation.

Francisco sat in the first row, towards the side, and considered their guest of honor. Who was so self-important? What puffed up interloper was here to despoil his mistress's throne? He had to know.

(3 Successes on Intelligence + Politics to identify the person in the chair.)

ilootthecorpse fucked around with this message at Mar 25, 2019 around 05:15

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




INT. S.S. ASTARTE — NIGHT

Tricky Dick Nixon posted:

MARY: Dr. Chadwick! I... Is it like, Lord Chadwick now? Should I, like, curtsey?

MARY's laughter is nervous, and it's clear she's only half joking, though SAMUEL knows well enough that she's capable of being purposeful, and manipulative, about such things to get what she wants.

MARY: Hey, what's the Baron like? I... I don't really know how this all works, but things seem to be changing around here. I don't want to get in the way, I just want to... find somewhere to be.
Chadwick chuckled. He too feels the Beast snap at the edge of his mind, but he does his best to mentally put it in a 'walled off area'. "Oh no, Dr. Chadwick will quite suffice. If I start standing on noble titles now, I'm quite sure our good prefect's ready to set me on fire." He looks as others come in. "As for the Baron, the most important recommendation I can give, is that you do not directly contradict her, particularly on factual matters, even if you are quite sure you are right. As to what does please her...." He considered. "It is hard to say. I'm quite sure she's not simply looking for sycophants. Be polite, be respectful. Address her as Baron Jessica. If you feel you have offended her, an apology can ease things quite a bit."

She nods with some small understanding, processing it through as her fingers knot together in front of her, and her head tilts. "Baron Jessica... Ok." She considers, hesitantly, but she trusts the Doctor. "I guess it should be obvious why I'm here." She's a bit bashful about it, because she knows the Doctor would prefer she continue to subsist on animals, and she's properly embarrassed about it. "I just don't feel like I belong much, back in the State. Even after a year, they don't want me around. Not even the Ratsuckers."

He looked a bit saddened at that, but nodded. "I know. I've tried to talk to them, but they are wary. As a Carthian, I do apologize for the way things went. Life can be very unfair at times. Give it time. After all, that is a thing we do have. If the Baron is agreeable to it, you could even make your home at the Yard. Let things cool down a bit for those years. Show that the events in the past are not a pattern, and they'll rethink it I'm sure. And we could watch each other's back while hunting. Help out with our fair city's never ending rodent problem. Even if it's only once a week."

He'd been reading on ways to treat addiction. Forming healthy alternative habits was one way to do it. If she had the feeding on rats as an alternative, especially one associated with friendly company, she might be more inclined to reduce the times she engaged in cannibalism.

She can't help but laugh a little at Dr. Chadwick's offer, taking it almost as a joke, though she realizes he is serious and looks properly abashed again, though smiles genuinely. "Thanks, Doc. That means a lot." She threads her fingers through her hair a bit. "I owe a lot to all of you. It feels stupid to ask for more. Every time I've ever asked for something it seems all that it just digs a deeper hole to get out of. I've never felt that way around you..."

When the Red Deacon arrives however, her eyes follow over there, and she returns the wave with a fanged smile, as the Beast courses through, a familiar feeling against her spine that causes her to tense, but not unpleasantly. The Lonely Curse seeps through, even for Dr. Chadwick, the feeling that she's always looking for a host to latch onto, and the way her eyes linger on Francisco, especially in the midst of their conversation, doesn't feel particularly polite.

"Wanna come sit with the Deacon, Doc? I always like it when you both get to talking. Always feels like the fangs will come out, but you both keep it cool. Even like each other by the end of it." Mary seems to genuinely admire the dynamic the coterie has built in maintaining their Beasts with each other. She makes to go join Francisco, and sit next to him with another seat nearby for Chadwick to join, as the Red Deacon tries to make sense of their guest of honor, being entertained by the Serpent Jeremy.

ilootthecorpse posted:

Francisco sat in the first row, towards the side, and considered their guest of honor. Who was so self-important? What puffed up interloper was here to despoil his mistress's throne? He had to know.

3 Successes on Intelligence + Politics to identify the person in the chair.
The MYSTERY GUEST looks terribly familiar to FRANCISCO, as he begins to search his memory. There's a look of dawning realization that spreads across FRANCISCO's face. The name comes to his lips, and it's one that inspires some amount of dread.

TITLE CARD:

Francisco: The guest of honor sitting in the chair is an elder vampire you know as Eustacia Sangiovanni. She is the Matriarch of the Sangiovanni Family of Staten Island, and was once a Bishop of the Lancea et Sanctum, before scandal involving her family's interest in blood sorcery (beyond the Miracles given by the angel Vahishtael) caused the Cardinal in Elizabeth to pressure her to resign, and one of the competing Erzsébet Family took on the role as the Bishop of the Richmond diocese. She is one of the most powerful Theban practitioners in all of New York City, but like many of her bloodline is said to consort with the dead, which is seen as a disreputable if not exactly blasphemous act. Your sire, Vitoria, spoke always very ill of the Sangiovanni, who were based in Venice but had a small brood in Naples as well. Interestingly, Eustacia seems to appear much more southern Italian than northern Italian, with her dusky skin and features. Even possibly Sicilo-Arab.

Note that information gained will always be colored by your background and context, so even if one person has already succeeded at a roll, there might be more information that could be gained by another attempt.

mistaya posted:

"Hello there, madam," he addresses the stranger from her left side with a respectful bow. It seems unlikely to him that Jessica would allow this person to invade her chair unless it was part of her plan, and Jeremy is fine with playing along. "I hope you're finding our humble ship to your liking." He shifts his weight effortlessly, looking quite the picture of masculinity as he offers a hand towards her, palm up. If she takes it, he'll kiss her fingers lightly. If she doesn't, he'll make it look like it was only a sweeping gesture with his hand. In either case, he'll then mimic Lenny, positioned at her side with his hands laced behind him, as though protecting the seat, if not the woman currently sitting in it.

Jeremy considers it his place to entertain the guests at court and put them at ease. It doesn't matter what Jessica's plans are, a relaxed guest is both more pliable and less likely to see a dagger in the back coming.

4 Successes on Presence+Socialize+Striking Looks to make a first impression.
Success. You have made a strong first impression with the guest of honor, Eustacia Sangiovanni.

CUT TO: JEREMY and EUSTACIA

EUSTACIA is very slow to move. Languid is not the correct term, but neither is stiff. It's as if every motion has to have forethought into it, and there's no unnecessary, human movements, giving the impression of the uncanny. However, her full lips curl into a pleased smile at the introduction. EUSTACIA offers her hand to be kissed, the perfectly shaped and buffed nails painted black.

EUSTACIA: My, my, my. What a statuesque gentleman the Baron has in her employ.

EUSTACIA's voice is dry but sultry with an underlying purr, or growl, aged like a centuries old amontillado unearthed miraculously kept from a buried casket. Or tomb.

EUSTACIA: Why, I am terribly enchanted, so I must introduce myself at once, shan't I? I am Matriarch Eustacia, of the Richmond Sangiovanni. And you, my dear, are a delicious treat, but perhaps it'd be better I remember you as more than that...

EUSTACIA's hand remains there for a little overlong as if she forgot to move it back into place. Her stillness goes beyond that exhibited by BARON JESSICA, which is always calculated as part of some performance. It seems both at once more natural and unnatural.

The way EUSTACIA looks at JEREMY is playfully wanton, lacking any desire in masking her interest, though perhaps it covers over another, even less savory motivation.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at Mar 25, 2019 around 15:09

Barbed Tongues
Mar 16, 2012




We open with a wide shot of a brick encased hallway, mostly dark. We center view on a doorway at the end of it, an opaque window mounted in the top third, marking it more as a business location than any kind of residence. As the silence lingers, a light in the office beyond flicks on, illuminating the ink for the audience.



At the same time the light flicks on, the intro to Elton John's Mama Can't Buy You Love begins.

The door bursts open, ZEDD BASSETT emerging from the room to stare at the camera.



Bassett steps out of the doorway, letting it slip shut behind him. The camera swings around to capture his side as he begins walking down the hallway inside the Hoist. The uptempo music follows with him, adding a disco joviality to his movements.

Elton John posted:

Baby, so they give you anything
Darling, all the joy money can bring
Baby, do they bring you happiness
Darling, you're no different from the rest
Can't you see that it's love you really need
Take my hand and I'll show what a love could be
Before it's too late

Bassett now stands in camera center. In front of him, the scenery of his Dockland district is laid out in the browns and yellows of 70's cinematography. This shows the area in so-called better times, before Bassett's residence. The area behind him, in contrast, fades in and out of old sepia tones and black and whites. The colors changing as Bassett walks by, as if he were literally draining the brightness with his presence.

Where whole, once passed, windows show cracked and broken. Clean streets and sidewalks, once passed, show grime and trash. On the surface, while these seem as decay and disrepair, the audience will start to notice small special effects that are actually more photographic. Those cracks in the window form picturesque patterns. The grimy water on the sidewalk reflects light in oil-slick rainbows.

People, as he passes them, change too. A normal couple fades into a rough-around-the-edges pair. They look more homeless as they pan behind him, but also seem happier, holding hands now. He passes a bus stop with three individuals just standing quietly. They change from boring stances to the energy of a dice game. The roll comes up bad, but the active player just grins, showing a single gold tooth as his petty bills are snatched by his opponents.

Elton John posted:

Mama don't want you, daddy don't want you
Give it up baby, baby mama can't buy you love
Mama don't want you, daddy don't need you
Give it up baby, baby mama can't buy you love
Baby, fancy friends showing you a smile
Darling, rich relations for a while

Basset moves out past the district's buildings, walking along the waterfront, now. In the background, bridges go from boring newness to dilapidation with character. Cement walls go from bland grays to intricate graffiti tags. Stylized letter V's feature prominently among them. Factory chimneys belt out white steam, which fades to dark smoke, flowing into abstract shapes against the moon.

He moves onto a narrow pier, one meant for foot traffic, that opens into a viewing deck. There are no mounted binoculars, but in the distance, a copper statue of liberty stands in sentinel over the bay. The camera falls back behind Basset, the effect moving the copper statue in the background until she crosses his rear-profile. The camera keeps swinging around until the statue reappears again, now in the oxidized greens most people are used to seeing.

Basset fishes in his pockets, back still to the camera. A pack of cigarettes and lighter his immediate quarry. As he hunches his shoulders, cupping his hands before him so the wind doesn't steal his flame, the mortal BOOTH approaches Basset from his rear.



Elton John posted:

Baby, I can only give you love
Darling, this old heart should be enough
All I need is a chance to make you mine
Let me in, I'll change the way you feel inside
Before it's too late

The lyrics fade out, but the song's instrumentals keep playing, though lowered in volume so as not to interfere with the dialogue.

BOOTH: Hey man, got a minute?

Zedd pockets the rest of his cigarettes, glancing at his right wrist. He checks a watch, the face of it on the underside of his wrist rather than top as most wear them. (e: somebody research sundown times for 1979. Make sure the watch shows something appropriate for Z's waking time per his current humanity) The colors and decay effect stabilize for a moment, only to have them all center on Zedd himself. He becomes the most active aspect of the scene.

ZEDD: I got a few of them.

The mortal offers a forced smile, showing a set of teeth that had never afforded braces.

BOOTH: Kinda just want to give you a heads up. The longshoremen, the ones I play music for? They're gone, I think.

Basset gives a thumbs-up.

ZEDD: Great - good job. What do I owe you?

BOOTH: No, it wasn't me. At least I don't think. Something else making them book it. I don't know what. Something new, though.

ZEDD: Okay, man. I'll keep that in mind.

BOOTH: Sure. Also - you may want to avoid the show on Thursday. Vario Crew is asking for five-K in protection money. We're not going to get all of it by then, so I'm expecting something to go down.

Bassett cocks his head.

ZEDD: Five grand? I thought you had an arrangement with them.

BOOTH: We did. Maybe something changing with them, too.

The lyrics fade back in. Scene cuts.

Elton John posted:

Mama don't want you, daddy don't want you
Give it up baby, baby mama can't buy you love
Mama don't want you, daddy don't need you
Give it up baby, baby mama can't buy you love

Zedd walks into the SS Astarte, passing by his little corner where a director's chair sits empty. Behind it, against a wall of the ship, is a cinema poster showing his personal choice for the next Movie Night feature. Above it a 'Coming Soon' placard likewise mounted.



(Intelligence (3) + Politics (1) + Modifiers (2) = Failed)

Zedd spares a glance for the mystery guest, but his thoughts are still on Booth's earlier words. You finally going to take out the Vario Crew? Dockland is yours, they need to learn that. Zedd both chuckled and frowned at his beast's thoughts. Taking them out just makes a vacuum for somebody else. Better to come to an understanding, especially until I know which licks have an active interest in the Luccese Family. When he sees Lenny, Zedd angles in that direction, stepping up to the Gangrel's side. Following his gaze and landing on Gyges, Zedd opts not to comment on the warlock. "Wanna see a show on Thursday? Might be some action in it."

Barbed Tongues fucked around with this message at Mar 27, 2019 around 17:06

Shogeton
Apr 26, 2007

"Little by little the old world crumbled, and not once did the king imagine that some of the pieces might fall on him"



The thoughts pop up as she avoids the subject of her feeding to go talk to his rival. Leech. Parasite. Unworthy. Ungrateful. Waste of time. along with a slightly bitter feeling rising up in his throat as he follow her towards the deacon. He manages to keep the smile up. as he walk towards them.

Those thoughts were not truly his. That was his condition speaking. He made himself think of those thoughts as the thoughts of something else. Something deplorable and pitiable. But barring extreme circumstances, it held no power over him. His mind was his own dominion. Mary Godwin was someone who was suffering because of her condition. He was a doctor. This was his calling.

By the time he sat down alongside them, watching Jeremy charm the guest, his emotions were once again fitting for a friendly social function. "Good day, Deacon." In public functions, Dr. Chadwick tended to err on the side of formality, if one discounted his disdain for the 'feudalistic' titles of course. "I see you've got an eye on our esteemed guest?"

Klingon w Bowl Cut
Apr 1, 2009

Q'pla!



When the sun sets, Leticia Price has already been up for an hour. The phone cord stretches dangerously around her elegantly appointed, silk-strewn bedroom as she makes herself ready for the evening's work. She applies a hint of purple lipstick to herself as she listens to the person on the other end of the line. Their words are unintelligible, but they are clearly stressed and upset.

"I know, I know," Leticia's voice replies, soft and sweet. "That's really rough! But I promise you, I've already taken care of it, just like I always do. The papers have gone through; that office building is yours, and no one's gonna say otherwise. If they do, I'll have a chat with them, okay?" Her voice is just as upbeat, but for a moment, she has a beastly smile on her face.

The voice of her potential new vassal calms down noticeably.

"Great, great. Nice talking to you, dear! I'll see you tomorrow night, I promise. Give my best to the kids."

Leticia rolls her eyes, an indulgence she would never allow herself in public, and hangs up. As she begins hairspraying her 'do into place, phone still in her other hand, she takes a moment to make sure the rest of her ensemble is in order. Her reflection in the antique mirror shows her black platform boots, rising to purple bell bottom pants held up by a belt studded with sequins. Her long-sleeved shirt is a puffy, riotous two-tone patchwork, alternating between purple and gold sections that both shine in the dim light of dusk.

The shirt blinks and shimmers as Leticia stops her preparations, suddenly remembering another call she has to make. It's hard work being a Lord, but she takes a moment to congratulate herself on scheduling extra time to get ready for this important night.

-------------------------------------------

Leticia stands in the foyer of the Meulenbelt House and gives its decaying gothic splendor a wave goodbye. She grabs a black leather cape from the coat-stand and sweeps it over herself as she walks out of the door, covering most of her outfit so that it can be grandly revealed later. It is well into evening now, but she has a few rounds to make before midnight.

Her first stop is, of course, the State Street Station, to make sure no one is trying to intrude on her territory. She sees Old Meg pushing her rusty cart of "goods" back and forth along the platform and excitedly approaches.

"Hello, Megan!" Leticia beams. "Got anything interesting tonight?"

The old homeless lady smiles back softly, but doesn't say anything.

Leticia takes that as her cue to peruse the cart. Mostly junk, plus a little bit of junk transfigured into interesting shapes. One thing catches her eye though: a copper coin, from a country she doesn't recognize, with writing in a language she doesn't know. The coin has been pierced and a delicate chain threaded through, making it into a necklace.

"Oh, this is just what I need!" she exclaims. "It will offset the gold patches perfectly... How much?"

Old Meg holds up one gnarled finger.

"Perfect." After making sure no one is looking, Leticia slips a $20 bill to Meg. "Nice doing business with you."

The elder lady shakes her head but continues smiling. Leticia picks up the necklace and starts maneuvering the chain through her giant hair, until it finally rests around her neck. "Take care of yourself, dear," she says.

"You too," Old Meg whispers back, then shuffles away.

----------------------------

What follows is a whirlwind of activity, locations and people throughout the Lower Gardens swirling by around Leticia. Much of her business is conducted via pager and numerous payphone stops. Her cheerful demeanor darkens only for a second throughout the night, when it is revealed that her latest attempt to expand her domain has encountered yet more resistance from city hall. Her shaking grip on the payphone receiver causes it to crack, but after she shakes her head, the moment is gone.

Leticia is surprised that one of her many meetings is with the cambion Peg. When did she get added to the schedule...? But no matter. Leticia is very reassuring about her problem. "Oh, yeah. Ghosts freak me the hell out too, I don't blame you. Sure, I'll help out for a favor. Promise. Let me just finish my meeting tonight so I can figure out when I'll be free. Stay cool until then, Peg!"

----------------------------

About an hour before midnight, Leticia makes a stop one might not expect based on her previous meeting locations in darkened parks, wind-swept rooftops, and high-end restaurants: a joint outside of her domain, the Karaoke Kave. It is a squat building full of neon, both inside and out. She is clearly a regular there, since the bartender, DJ, and several patrons all wave or shout to her. She doesn't have much time to spare, though, so she puts in a song with "DJim" right away. Then, for a few all-too-brief minutes, she takes complete ownership of everything around her.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWpRY0flS2U

Purists might say she doesn't do the song justice, missing many of the notes and skipping some beats. But as she strides back and forth across the tiny stage, gesturing passionately to members of the audience and baring her heart, no purist could deny she gives a hell of a performance.

Toward the end of the song, a change happens to Leticia, physically. Her dead heart begins to beat, some color returns to her pale skin, and even a sheen of sweat can be seen from the effort of her performance. The full blush of life returns to her. She has a smile on her face as the last note fades, and that smile is made almost literally warmer.

She doesn't have long to revel in the feeling of resurrection, however, because the reason she willed it to happen is fast approaching. Leticia tips the DJ and bartender, then rushes outside to hail a cab. She directs the driver toward the docks, by a circuitous route just in case any other Kindred in the Praxis is trying to track her. It makes her a little late, but all the better for making a grand entrance.

------------------------------

Leticia's hackles rise up when she sees Jeremy already in the ship's hold, schmoozing their strange guest. He has one up on her in their fashion rivalry, but tonight is sure to blow him away. She takes that feeling of jealousy and focuses for an instant, turning it into raw power. Then she finally throws off her cape and lets her fashion sense, combined with her supreme confidence, do the work of making sure everyone notices her. She isn't completely silent of course, sparing a word or two of kind greetings for everyone already there, including Baron Jessica's three ushers. But her words are practically drowned out by the clicking stride of her boots and the moonlit shine of her shirt.

She stops a respectful distance from the throne, making sure she is close enough for both the guest and Jeremy to notice the blushing pallor of her flesh, and bows. Leticia nods at Jeremy after rising and says, almost entirely sincerely, "Jeremy. You're looking amazing tonight! Would you care to introduce me to our new friend?"

As she waits for a response, she takes in the rest of the room out of the corners of her eyes, including her own little touch to the decor: an antique gramophone and a shelf full of records for it, mainly jazz and swing but some newer music too. Sadly, it is not turned on at the moment, but the memory of dances shared between her and Baron Jessica while its music played only serves to broaden Leticia's grin.


(Spending 1 Vitae for Blush of Life for the scene, and rolling Presence + Socialize to make a strong first impression, with 4 successes.)

Klingon w Bowl Cut fucked around with this message at Mar 25, 2019 around 21:43

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.




quote:

Zedd spares a glance for the mystery guest, but his thoughts are still on Booth's earlier words. You finally going to take out the Vario Crew? Dockland is yours, they need to learn that. Zedd both chuckled and frowned at his beast's thoughts. Taking them out just makes a vacuum for somebody else. Better to come to an understanding, especially until I know which licks have an active interest in the Luccese Family. When he sees Lenny, Zedd angles in that direction, stepping up to the Gangrel's side. Following his gaze and landing on Gyges, Zedd opts not to comment on the warlock. "Wanna see a show on Thursday? Might be some action in it."

Lenny looks over to Zedd, giving him a regretful look. "I do...but business is getting a little rough. I might not be able to make it." His voice is low, though not quite a whisper. "Might need some help with that before I commit to any shows, much as I hate to admit it."

Zedd scratches at his beard, sparing another glance around the room, finally noting the rest of the guests. He matches Lenny's volume when he responds. "Mine may end up being business as well, maybe we could collaborate. What's going down with you?"

Lenny makes sure to keep an eye on the rest of the room while he and Zedd chat. He wouldn't want to interrupt whatever Jessica has planned by being distracted. "My buddy Rufus is making a lot of noise. The neighbors don't like it so much.... I ought to have a talk with him, or at least make sure he stops making noise, but I don't know where to find him."

"Noise complaints?" Zedd grins, shaking his head a bit, cutting at the seriousness of Lenny's posture. He'd tone it down once Moore made her appearance, of course. "You're really going for the landlord thing, huh? I dig it. I'm guessing finding Rufus isn't as simple as following the sounds. How long you been looking for him?"

"On and off since the position started. It wasn't a real priority until now." Lenny shrugs. "But...well, in case you saw the news - the thing with the eviscerated dog, that was him." His expression turns sour as he recalls Betty's nervousness. "He's making a move, so I gotta return the favor."

That tones down Zedd's humor. "Great. Yeah, I suppose it was just a matter of time before he pulled something." He gives Lenny his indirect attention with some side-eye, "Tit for tat - try and keep things chill, or you thinking an escalation? Real show of strength."

The soldier shakes his head. "There's no plan yet. I need information first. He's been in the territory longer than I have, and he's got help besides. If I move without knowing, I'm dead meat." He chews on his lip. "I was gonna ask the Baron first. But if you have any ideas, I'm all ears."

"poo poo, right. Is Coyle one of Veck's men?" Zedd tries to remember the hierarchy out East. He'd been more worried about his own spot on the Western shore and had let the details of the coterie's locales slip from his immediate attention. Don't get involved. Let it fall, offer him a tenancy spot. Keep him close. I don't think so. "Something small scale, then. Keep it on our level, make sure it doesn't get kicked up above our pay grade. Even if someone is pushing Coyle to test you, they may not want their name on it. Should assume he's planned for a response. You're right, we need more information."

"As far as I know, yes. He's a thug, but he's good at what he does." Lenny finally looks at Zedd again. "I feel like we have a solid position if it does escalate; it is officially our territory, but the Baron hasn't been able to keep it until now. If I make move, it's self-defense, right?" He shrugs. The politics are not his field of expertise, but he does have a rudimentary understanding of the situation. "Anyway. Like I said, information first. What's up on your end?"

"Right, self defense. And proves we're not leaving things unprotected. Could chip away at Veck's excuses." Not that it wasn't a reasonable excuse for Veck's ambition. Before the coterie, the Baron didn't have enough hands to see to every place in her domain. That was changing. "My end is less dangerous, hopefully. The Lucchese are getting a little more greedy." He rubs his thumb across the pads of two fingers. "Putting the squeeze on one of my people - Did you meet Booth? Five grand's worth of squeeze is coming his way, in fact. There might be more options for me to cut a deal with the crew, I don't know yet. Deadline is on Thursday, so if they really want to mess with folks, that would be the night to do it."

"Hmm." Gangsters weren't his favorite people to deal with, but Zedd was right. It would be less dangerous than dealing with Rufus. "Right. Been meaning to get myself a new gun, anyway. Tell you what. Barring an emergency, I'll help out if you need muscle. Bit of luck, it doesn't come to a fight. But try the other way first. Five big ones is a lot, but not impossible."

"Thanks man." Zedd still didn't even know which way he wanted to lean. Part of him wondered what would happen if he just let things play out. You'll look weak That was true, even if he didn't have an active Kindred aggressor like Lenny was suffering. "And yeah, hoping it doesn't come to violence. Most of those kids at the Hoist are on the street as it is. Charging an arm and a leg for shows will see the whole stream cut off. Maybe the eye-ties'll be open to alternative services." He glances back out, gaze lingering on Gyges, momentarily wondering if the warlock was responsible for whatever Booth had noticed on the spiritual side of things. "And yeah, I got your back with Coyle, planning or execution, just give me a heads up."

Lenny nods. "Will do." The conversation at an end for now, he decides to just shut up and wait for the Baron to show up. Wouldn't be long now.

Tricky
Jun 12, 2007

after a great meal i like to lie on the ground and feel like garbage




The camera opens with a wide, time-lapse shot of Wilderstein Manor. The sun arcs across the sky, seemingly reluctant to fall, but fall it does. As the night falls, the camera races through the door of the manor and through the twisting halls towards the master bedroom. It lingers on the elegant double-doors a moment, then zooms through... to reveal an empty, though equally elegant room with an undisturbed bed.

Smash cut to Grace's makeshift office in the ruined cellar.

Grace rolls off the battered couch, looking for all the world like she's three pots of coffee shy of being a functioning member of society. After a moment longer, she clambers to her feet and stumbles back to her desk. The answering machine, like it did when she fell asleep, still has a flag indicating a new message — probably Bob, badgering her about work. She looks up to the corkboard, a web of articles and photos, all connecting to a central point: the Brooklyn Slasher. This is the key to a great story, the kind of thing that'll keep Bob happy and protect the Masquerade.

She hopes, anyway. The possibility that the Slasher is some sort of supernatural critter, vamp or otherwise, has crossed her mind. Still... it's worth reaching out to her network. She flips open her Rolodex and begins to make a few calls as the camera zooms back out of the manor. The night is young, after all, and her people still awake. There'll be time for some research before midnight.

-------------------------------------------

Elsewhere in Oldtown, the honorable Judge Cox presides. It's a quiet night, particularly given the threat of the Slasher keeps the people indoors. The monotony of ruling after considered ruling is broken only by a note passed to him by the bailiff. He reads it, a lawyer still arguing a minute point of law, then pockets it. Grace wants to know what requests for warrants and the like have come through his courthouse. For a moment, he looks old and tired, then it's gone. He's the king here, even if she does have him by the balls.

The camera soars across the block, the sound of hymns briefly mixing with the soundtrack. Deacon Halton tends his to ghostly flock, offering song and scripture to calm their rage. The camera doesn't linger long, but one ghostly figure stares into it. It's hard to tell, being an indistinct phantom, but is that a ragged gash along it's neck...? The camera doesn't seem to care as it sweeps out into a broader view of Oldtown.

The Victorian architecture throughout the area is striking, despite age having taken its toll. Well-dressed figures walk in pairs and trios, though the energy of the night is apprehensive.

-------------------------------------------

The camera does a slow, considered loop throughout, then returns once more to Grace's office. She hangs up the phone, seeming satisfied, and checks her watch. Her eyebrows arc upwards, subtly, and she quickly puts on her more courtly attire — a nice, well-cut blazer over a modest blouse and slacks. Denim may be her fabric, but the Baron was somewhat particular when it came to events. What was a little discomfort in the name of love, anyways?

A moment later, she heads out the Manor's front door. She tips the door back towards closing, then it aggressively slams shut and a click indicates the lock being thrown as well. She looks at the offending aperture, considering launching a few barbs at the resident spectres, then sighs. Not worth it. Walking to the sidewalk, she seems to fade from view, growing less and less memorable. A couple pass by, briefly obscuring Grace from view, then she's gone.

-------------------------------------------

Grace fades into view next to her tenant, Gyges, and she greets him with a polite, though cautious tenor. She says, "Good evening, Gyges. Rare to see you at court."

The question of why he's here is on her mind, though unasked in the moment. His power is unmistakable, his ambitions... less clear. The Baron had not been extremely pleased with her decision to offer tenancy, the full political implications thereof still somewhat unclear to her, but the fact of the matter was that his aid had proven invaluable. It is decidedly of interest to keep him both where she can keep an eye on him and also where he's committed his prowess to her causes. A night of service every three months is quite sizeable when speaking of someone who reversed a rather nasty curse with little apparent effort.

Rolling Wits + Empathy + Motives to determine what our good friend Gyges is playing at tonight = 4 successes.

Her eyes flick across the ship, taking in those present and those still to come. Mary is here, the visceral desperation dripping off her as always, though she seems in good enough spirits. The figure in the Baron's chair... Her eyes narrow, thinking, but she can't put a name to the face just yet. A guest? A rival making their power known? It remains to be seen. After a moment, her attention turns to one of the side walls — not the one where framed posters and the like hang, but the opposite one — where a pair of interlocking poems are painted on a bulkhead. One being hers, of course, the other a stunning example of the Baron's poetry. The lines intertwine, offering myriad possibilities of meaning and interpretation.

The other members of the coterie recieve pleasant smiles and nods as she meets their gazes, though there's a touch of tension as she sees Frank sitting in the front row.

mistaya
Oct 18, 2006

Cat of Wealth and Taste




"Evenin', Leticia," Jeremy croons without skipping a beat, his eyes drinking her superb outfit in as the Beast in the back of his mind gives a good-natured growl, reminding him that he has claws, even if he isn't showing them. It rarely speaks to him, as he's heard some of the others say theirs do, but it makes itself known in other ways. Feelings, ideas, desires. Leticia's soft skin, flush with life, calls to his worse nature, but he only smiles innocently. Not tonight, he whispers to the hunger. The waiting will make it sweeter.

After all, she may have won the round, but the extra time it took her meant that he got there first. And as any salesman or politician could tell you, first come, first served. "It'd be my pleasure. Matriarch, this beautiful lady is Leticia Price, a good friend of mine." He adjusts his collar and chuckles. "Leticia, this is Matriarch Eustacia Sangiovanni, our Baron's honored guest." He turns away from Leticia and continues the conversation with Eustacia as if there had been no interruption. "You flatter me madam... To be more than a treat is my highest aspiration."

mistaya fucked around with this message at Mar 26, 2019 around 03:27

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




INT. S.S. ASTARTE — NIGHT

Barbed Tongues posted:

(Intelligence (3) + Politics (1) + Modifiers (2) = Failed)

Zedd spares a glance for the mystery guest, but his thoughts are still on Booth's earlier words. You finally going to take out the Vario Crew? Dockland is yours, they need to learn that. Zedd both chuckled and frowned at his beast's thoughts. Taking them out just makes a vacuum for somebody else. Better to come to an understanding, especially until I know which licks have an active interest in the Luccese Family. When he sees Lenny, Zedd angles in that direction, stepping up to the Gangrel's side. Following his gaze and landing on Gyges, Zedd opts not to comment on the warlock. "Wanna see a show on Thursday? Might be some action in it."

Zedd: While that is a falure, the the figure is still familiar to you. You can't place the name: Some big wig from Staten Island. She has been a guest of Afterparty before, and someone that even Mother Thorn showed some deference to (the only other person you've ever seen her do that to is the Patriarch of the Cockscomb Society, Lord Athanasius Strange. You know enough to be worried.

Tricky posted:

The question of why he's here is on her mind, though unasked in the moment. His power is unmistakable, his ambitions... less clear. The Baron had not been extremely pleased with her decision to offer tenancy, the full political implications thereof still somewhat unclear to her, but the fact of the matter was that his aid had proven invaluable. It is decidedly of interest to keep him both where she can keep an eye on him and also where he's committed his prowess to her causes. A night of service every three months is quite sizeable when speaking of someone who reversed a rather nasty curse with little apparent effort.

Rolling Wits + Empathy + Motives to determine what our good friend Gyges is playing at tonight = 4 successes.

The warlock GYGES looks almost hurt at his relative treatment, as no one has greeted him or welcomed him to his first-ever court appearance. It is almost theatrical how distraught he seems, so when GRACE lets her gaze linger, his eyes meet hers. There is a disorienting feeling, an illusory twisting as GYGES approaches, as if he crosses the distance far quicker than he should, and he is suddenly right up next to her with a blithe smile.

GYGES: "Hello, Ms. Lahr. Could I borrow a moment of your time?"

Grace: Success. Gyges is here with an agenda. He has not come to any of the other Courts before this one, even if his tenancy grants him that right. There's a little bit of something like anxiety in him, though a shocking lack of fear or hesitation. Though he loves company, he hates crowds, so you can already see that he is somewhat uncomfortable as the other vampires filter in, and though theatrical, his feelings have indeed been hurt somewhat by the stares and distance he has been given.

Grace: Feel free to respond on Discord under #roleplay-III.

Klingon w Bowl Cut posted:

She stops a respectful distance from the throne, making sure she is close enough for both the guest and Jeremy to notice the blushing pallor of her flesh, and bows. Leticia nods at Jeremy after rising and says, almost entirely sincerely, "Jeremy. You're looking amazing tonight! Would you care to introduce me to our new friend?"

(Spending 1 Vitae for Blush of Life for the scene, and rolling Presence + Socialize to make a strong first impression, with 4 successes.)

mistaya posted:

After all, she may have won the round, but the extra time it took her meant that he got there first. And as any salesman or politician could tell you, first come, first served. "It'd be my pleasure. Matriarch, this beautiful lady is Leticia Price, a good friend of mine." He adjusts his collar and chuckles. "Leticia, this is Matriarch Eustacia Sangiovanni, our Baron's honored guest." He turns away from Leticia and continues the conversation with Eustacia as if there had been no interruption. "You flatter me madam... To be more than a treat is my highest aspiration."

There is a trilling chuckle from EUSTACIA in her seat, still uncanny in her stillness.

EUSTACIA: "Honored guest? A kind assumption to make."

It was true that she had not been introduced in that way, and the increasingly worrying absence of the BARON (of which only LENNY had a real sense was purposeful) might have made that chuckle all the more darker in tone.

EUSTACIA: "I will commend Baron Jessica's good taste. She certainly knows to surround herself with such magnificent things."

Leticia: You have made a lasting impression, gaining a sort of equal attention as Jeremy had from the mysterious Matriarch. You might use it, as he does, to influence her. If either you or Jeremy attempt Social Maneuvering tonight on the Baron, you have an Excellent Impression.

EUSTACIA's hand reaches out, but this time not to let it be kissed, but to touch the flush and warm skin, hers deathly cold, not clammy like a corpse, but chill like marble. If LETICIA allows this touch, she will brush her thumb against the skin, looking at her like one might a work of art, or a scavenged gem from the rough. Whether or not allowed, EUSTACIA continues in her dark humor.

EUSTACIA: "Mmm, though while you dears are welcoming, I know well enough the sharpness all around me. I knew this throne was too comfortable for mine own good... Would you care to show me to another, less I continue to offend?"

EUSTACIA's hand was now outstretched, ready to be helped up and guided, and to be led to what accommodations the vassals of the BARON could provide for her.

A tension hangs in the air. The hour approaches 3 a.m., and anticipation begins to build. The scene will advance tonight.

Klingon w Bowl Cut
Apr 1, 2009

Q'pla!


mistaya posted:

After all, she may have won the round, but the extra time it took her meant that he got there first. And as any salesman or politician could tell you, first come, first served. "It'd be my pleasure. Matriarch, this beautiful lady is Leticia Price, a good friend of mine." He adjusts his collar and chuckles. "Leticia, this is Matriarch Eustacia Sangiovanni, our Baron's honored guest." He turns away from Leticia and continues the conversation with Eustacia as if there had been no interruption. "You flatter me madam... To be more than a treat is my highest aspiration."

Tricky Dick Nixon posted:

EUSTACIA: "Mmm, though while you dears are welcoming, I know well enough the sharpness all around me. I knew this throne was too comfortable for mine own good... Would you care to show me to another, less I continue to offend?"

Leticia gladly allows Eustacia to take her hand, though she is slightly put off by the subsequent inspection. She does her level best not to let it show, however. She gives Eustacia's palm a gentle, teasing, scratch with her purple-polished nails.

"It's a pleasure, Matriarch," she says, reveling in both the heat rising to her cheeks, and the effect that heat has on others. "I'm sorry the throne isn't to your liking, but we do have other options. Chairs, couches, beds... All very finely appointed, of course. All we want is for you to be comfortable."

Leticia is certain Jessica has something monumental planned, to leave an important guest waiting like this. She does offer her hand for Eustacia to take, but at the same time, she tries to stall. First she makes a show of surveying the hold, as if trying to locate the absolute best position. The plush chairs adorned with velvet? The many-cushioned couches? The beds separated from the rest of the room only by thin satin sheets, easily seen through? They all offer a good view of the rest of the room. This is the Baron's theater after all.

Then she stalls by trying to join the conversation Jeremy was having. "Oh yes, Jeremy is more than just a treat. A full-course meal, at the least." She grins devilishly at the man in question.

Klingon w Bowl Cut fucked around with this message at Mar 27, 2019 around 21:24

Thesaurasaurus
Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"




Intro: Newtown, Brooklyn, New York City

Early morning. Slow, aerial pan, time-lapsed. Emphasis on the contrast between old and new. A youth center operating out of a former speakeasy and mob hangout. High rises built over Hoovervilles. Greek cab drivers buy lunch and argue over baseball with Jamaican street vendors. Booze and drugs flow freely, a rust-red stain of intoxicants spreading across Brooklyn from the open wounds of the Bonanno family.

Whatever you have, whatever you’re doing, the Families get a cut. No way around it. Two sweating garbagemen haul a heavy carpet that sags in the middle toward their truck. The cops in a nearby cruiser look on, but make no move to stop a blatant crime in progress. They’re there to supervise. A construction contract is signed for a parking lot nobody asked for in a place where nobody drives. The company bought a batch of lovely concrete they can’t write off any other way, and their partners have some secrets they really want paved over.

Everything is for sale for the right price, if the right man in the right suit wills it. All depends on which way the wind’s blowing. God help Red Hook when there’s a storm front.

Life continues regardless. Civil Rights activists rally against increasing police presence and gentrification. Red Hook has enough boots on enough necks as it stands. Neighbors support one another, keep each other fed, clothed, and sheltered. Help goes under the table too.

Nightfall. Daily hustle and bustle slows with the town’s pulse. No sound, until gunshots ring out near the West Houses project. A kid, not even old enough to drink, rounds a corner under a flickering streetlight and takes off at a dead sprint. The gunman follows. By day, he’s a cop. By night, he runs errands for the increasingly-erratic Bonannos. He follows his target through a vacant lot, choked with overgrowth and thorns from decades of litigated neglect.

Blood soaks the soil where the kid steps, from an open wound where the bullet grazed his thigh. Another inch to the left and he’d be dead. More spills where the thorny creepers tear at him, a trail a blind man could follow. Standing in the thicket, the gunman takes aim at the kid’s back. But the shot never comes. Screaming, he goes down. Nearly a minute later, he half-stumbles, half-crawls out of the vegetation, clothing shredded and skin pale from blood loss. If he were to call it in, he’d report it as 10-91V: Vicious Animal Attack. But he won’t call it in. There’d be too many questions. Exit BAD COP, stage left, en route to a hospital.

A minute later, the ground heaves and the thicket stirs. The vicious animal in question staggers out of her den, wiping blood from her lips and dirt from her skin. She lurches into the nearby housing project while the almost-victim stares in terror and amazement. Sound of running water. Brushing of teeth. A locker opening. Outside door slams open again, propelled by a booted foot.

A redheaded woman marches out, dressed in plaid flannel, denim jacket slung over her shoulder. Her eyes are screwed up against the strobing glare of the streetlamp. It’s hard to tell if the black is from her mascara or lack of sleep. She approaches the terrified kid, thrusts a roll of gauze bandages into his hand, and begins to leave without a comment.

She stops. Turns around. “Hey. Kid,” she growls. “You got a breath mint or anything?”

Hands shaking, he fishes a mangled stick of Wrigley’s Mint out of a pocket and hands the foil packet to her.

The woman takes it, cocks her head, and spits something rust-red onto the ground. “Close enough,” she says. “Thanks.”

Soundtrack begins: Bleed Like Me, by Garbage. Close-up on OLIVIA VOSS.

---

Scene: Red Hook Municipal Library

Song continues. Fast-forward cut to Olivia poring through books. Fast-forward cut to Olivia at a mcrofilm reader. Fast-forward to Olivia on the ceiling, grabbing a box of records from the top shelf. The graveyard shift and whatever patrons bother coming by at this ungodly hour of the night ignore her. Her research continues uninterrupted. She can work so much faster this way.

Zoom in over her shoulder, revealing the reader screen. “MISSING WOMEN NOW NUMBER FIVE”, proclaims a newspaper headline. “POLICE FEAR FOUL PLAY”. That was three victims ago. Now there are eight. The last two have been found - Janice Baer and Lauren Pride. Pride’s remains were wrapped in garbage bags, bundled with a bouquet of dead rats tied together by their tails. The tabloids have dubbed the perpetrator the “Rat-King Killer”.

All of them were single mothers. All of them had reported a break-in within a week of their disappearances. Olivia is scowling. This case clearly bothers her on a personal level. In the corner of the frame, the camera lingers on the box she retrieved from the top shelf. At last, she opens it and swaps out the microfilm.

The new box is full of articles on museum exhibits. She’s looking at the entries on the H. Mason Memorial Museum of Archaeology. The Black Tom explosion. Munitions factory. World War 1. German sabotage. A hard copy on her desk displays the museum’s imposing outer facade on its front page, buried under the top story. Just above the fold, the word ‘burglary’ is visible. It was to host an exhibit on the very same explosion that Olivia’s researching now.

The hour is late. The song has ended. All the patrons and staff have gone home. The glare of the reader is the only light remaining in the library. Olivia attempts to switch slides and the film jams. Overlapping stories, year after year, buried beneath each other in endless layers. Carefully, she unspools the film, and pauses. Her tawny eyes, lambent in the reader’s light, fixate upon an article from 1832. She reads it and swears loudly, then looks at the clock and swears louder yet. She packs everything away as quickly as she can without mangling anything and takes off at a dead sprint, tote bag slung over her shoulder.

Scene: the SS Astarte

The rusty squeal of an interior bulkhead announces Olivia’s arrival. Tonight’s event is already well-underway. She is late, and not fashionably-so. Under other circumstances, she would catch the Baron’s disapproving eye and offer a stiff bow of contrition, then hold up her tote bag in a meaningful fashion. BARON JESSICA would be displeased, but she would recognize the gesture. Her vassal has found something important. Recriminations could wait until later.

The Baron is not in her chair tonight. SOMEBODY ELSE sits there, and that Jessica tolerates this must mean the stranger is someone whose favor she must court, or whose wrath she must forestall. This rankles Olivia, but moreover unnerves her. She is uncertain of her station relative to the newcomer. To be either too-lax or too-deferential could prove equally-deadly.

JEREMY MILLER is busy making a good impression with the stranger. So is LETICIA PRICE. Their rivalry for her attention is palpable, the atmosphere tense and volatile. LENNY EVERETT and ZEDD BASSETT are talking about something serious-sounding. FRANCISCO CASTIGLIONE, the RED DEACON, and DR. SAMUEL CHADWICK are busy with MARY GODWIN, checking in on her after her unfortunate experience with blood-sorcery. GRACE LAHR is speaking with the warlock GYGES.

It looks as if everyone else has already paired off for this dance. Surreptitiously, Olivia passes her tote bag to CORNELL, one of the Baron’s ushers, who will see the documents to the small reading lounge that is Olivia’s contribution to the decor. It rarely functions as a reading lounge during social functions, unless the social function in question is a poetry reading or a book club. Olivia has been quietly pushing for more such events, with mixed success. At any rate, it is nice to have reference materials close at hand in case the conversation takes a turn for the cerebral.

Olivia mingles for a bit, but is visibly feeling out of her element here. She gravitates toward Grace. Maybe the reporter will take an interest in what she’s found. “Hey Gracie,” she says, offering a brief hug. “And you, Gyges.” Handshake. “What's shakin'?”

( 3 successes on Intelligence + Academics to ferret out info that might help track down a serial killer operating on our turf. With TDN’s permission, Olivia will take some extra time to gain the benefits of an Exceptional Success, at the cost of running late to this very important function.)

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




INT. S.S. ASTARTE — NIGHT

ilootthecorpse posted:

"Buona sera, Mary. Doctor." Francisco passed by Samuel and Mary Godwin sitting together, chatting amicably. The Doctor looked composed as always, but Mary seemed nervous. It was not difficult to imagine why. He knew that she was not being well-regarded in the Carthian State, even on the lowest rung. She would be here to ask for tenancy in the Barony. Francisco, for his part, was willing to take her in, if Jessica were feeling so magnanimous. Samuel would be too, he imagined. The deacon gave the girl a warm smile, making certain to catch her eyes, those starving eyes, and then glanced down at the first row of seats. An invitation.

By the time he sat down alongside them, watching Jeremy charm the guest, his emotions were once again fitting for a friendly social function. "Good day, Deacon." In public functions, Dr. Chadwick tended to err on the side of formality, if one discounted his disdain for the 'feudalistic' titles of course. "I see you've got an eye on our esteemed guest?"

Frank smiled genially, reclining as languidly as he could in the creaky folding chair. "Nice to see you, Doc. How are things in the Yard?" Difficult, he imagined. The whole city was difficult these days. All of them had come together as a coterie in a trial by fire, literally, and now that they each held a vassal state is was bound to get worse.

Dr. Chadwick drew their attention to the woman in the Baron's seat and Francisco dared a second glace. She exuded a menacing calm, like dark clouds over the sea that have yet to become a hurricane. It was electrifying. "That is Eustacia Sangiovanni, formerly the Bishop of Richmond, currently the matron of her necromantic family. Her esteem kind of depends on who you ask." To Francisco she was an unknown quantity. His sire had spoken about Eustacia and her lineage with venom, but her mastery over Theban Sorcery evoked the most astounding and graceful of Miracles. As a budding sorcerer himself, the deacon found her strangely inspiring. "If you ask Bishop Lark she is Hecate, or Doctor Frankenstein. If you ask me she's your Marie Curie meets Oscar Wilde."

"Interesting figures to be compared to. You certainly have roused my curiosity, deacon. Alas, she is currently being entertained by both of our far more charming companions, so we shouldn't step forward too soon., and at leave time for their impressions to fade so we don't look too boring compared to them.""

"Things in the Yard are... somewhat tense actually. A bit of a canine problem. Have there been an unusual amount of dog attacks up north?"

"If she's both Curie and Wilde," Mary observes, a bit quiet but ever with an attempt to impress, "things don't look good for her sticking around. Neither lived particularly healthy lives."

"I can relate."

Francisco gives Mary a fangy grin. "Madame Curie and Mister Wilde weren't vampires. She's an innovator though, and an iconoclast. Mira. Watch closely and you might learn something."

So, the good doctor was having a problem with dog attack then. A seemingly simple problem, given the tenor of their Beasts. They were both adept in Animalism. "Dogs? Real dogs or lupines? I haven't seen as much in the projects, but I have been dealing with a poacher. I have my flock lying low and keeping a look out. If it comes to it I'll ask Lenny to track them down. If your dog keeps giving you trouble let me know. I'll help you sniff them out."

She smiled at Marie. "Very good, miss Godwin. And the lesson is as valuable for us as it is for people who breathe as those who don't. When we follow our dreams, we are not immune to the consequences. Neither cause and effect, or society's censure. Either of those can and will bring consequences. In that, I imagine you and Ms. Sangiovanni both have paid prices. I assume that she is not 'former' bishop of Richmond by her own choice at least." He smiled. "Of course, some dreams are worth the risks and the consequences."

"As to the dogs. The odd thing is that they are reported to be injuring people in groups. That is unusual. I will probably try to find a stray and interrogate it later tonight."

Mary seems uncomfortable at a thought. "Are there lupines in Red Hook?"

"I can't say I've ever encountered one. The bits that I investigated seemed like very much normal dog bites. Mainly at the legs. It is difficult to prove a negative of course, but I'm not too worried. My biggest concern is that the local criminal element is getting a bit nervous. And that nervousness is creating tension among the different groups."

"Could they just be rabid? Hmm." Francisco tipped his head back and considered the darkened ceiling for the answer. "But rabid dogs probably wouldn't be in a pack. Quite a quandary you have, Doc." There was a moral quandary too. If the attacks were destabilizing the criminal players in Samuel's territory he could use it to his advantage, maybe even consolidate power, but that wasn't really his style. Frank, on the other hand...

"You know, Mary, if those dogs worry you, you could come to Red Hook West. We'd be happy to have you at the Presbytery. I'll even put a sheet over the crosses." The Deacon honestly wanted to see the girl into a good home, but the chance to ruffle Chadwick's feathers was a nice bonus. They were rivals after all.

"I've made it through Mass before Father." However, it wasn't pleasant. Not for her, and not for those that had to look at her. Almost like a grotesque extension of the Lonely Curse, the presence of the Lord's cross disfigured her with blistering, bleeding rashes.

She smirked, however, at the ruffling. "Maybe. Or maybe I should solve Doc's dog problem for him." She cracks her knuckles. She was freakishly strong, even before factoring in the powers of the blood. "I'm not going to be dead weight."

The doctor smiled at her. "True, I think after all the things Mary has overcome, a little thing like some street dogs getting bitey isn't going to threaten her. In fact, considering the sometimes... rough nature of the Yard, I should be glad to have someone around there in case things get a little violent. And of course, to talk to about the future. There's some nice calm areas too, where people almost never come "

"Lo sé, Mary. I'm always happy to see you there." And so is God. The Divine's opinion was certainly implied, blasphemous as it may be for the deacon to be so presumptuous. "And I'm sure Baron Jessica will see a good reason to let you stay, where ever you decide. The Doctor and I do." Given the pressure the entire barony was under they would need every ally they could get, and Mary's strength would be a welcome addition.

Eustacia was moving now, like a leopard, like a coiled spring, stretching just enough to find another comfortable position. Some of the tension that Francisco had not even realized was building relaxed out of his shoulders when she left the Baron's chair, and drew his attention to the time. The hour was getting late. Jessica would make her grand entrance soon, or not at all.

Klingon w Bowl Cut posted:

Leticia gladly allows Eustacia to take her hand, though she is slightly put off by the subsequent inspection. She does her level best not to let it show, however. She gives Eustacia's palm a gentle, teasing, scratch with her purple-polished nails.

"It's a pleasure, Matriarch," she says, reveling in both the heat rising to her cheeks, and the effect that heat has on others. "I'm sorry the throne isn't to your liking, but we do have other options. Chairs, couches, beds... All very finely appointed, of course. All we want is for you to be comfortable."

Leticia is certain Jessica has something monumental planned, to leave an important guest waiting like this. She does offer her hand for Eustacia to take, but at the same time, she tries to stall. First she makes a show of surveying the hold, as if trying to locate the absolute best position. The plush chairs adorned with velvet? The many-cushioned couches? The beds separated from the rest of the room only by thin satin sheets, easily seen through? They all offer a good view of the rest of the room. This is the Baron's theater after all.

Then she stalls by trying to join the conversation Jeremy was having. "Oh yes, Jeremy is more than just a treat. A full-course meal, at the least." She grins devilishly at the man in question.

As Eustacia's thumb brushes against Leticia's flesh, and Leticia's nail responds back, there's a strange connection, like a spark of static electricity. The deep, black eyes of the Mekhet are like deep consuming pools, and we are treated to a series of four visions: A corona of angel feathers, molting.A cracking of a pair of theatrical comedy and tragedy masks, orange and teal respectively in hue. A still beating heart opened on a platter, bleeding over the silverware. A purring leopard uncoiling from its cage, and snarling.

Eustacia's Uncanny Perception pries some secrets from Leticia.

EUSTACIA: Lead on, my dear. For now, I all yours... and his.

Yet at the end of these visions, they have arrived at their little destination, and EUSTACIA settles, having moved with her languid grace the whole way, a lazy and somnolent tiger. With her wickedly long nails, she beckons for JEREMY to join her and LETICIA, as she does not seem to intend to let the little Lord go.

Tricky Dick Nixon posted:

The warlock GYGES looks almost hurt at his relative treatment, as no one has greeted him or welcomed him to his first-ever court appearance. It is almost theatrical how distraught he seems, so when GRACE lets her gaze linger, his eyes meet hers. There is a disorienting feeling, an illusory twisting as GYGES approaches, as if he crosses the distance far quicker than he should, and he is suddenly right up next to her with a blithe smile.

GYGES: "Hello, Ms. Lahr. Could I borrow a moment of your time?"

It's fitting, perhaps, that Grace be the one to properly greet her tenant. Though the caution of the others was certainly warranted, given the power he'd demonstrated, he'd also been instrumental in helping resolve the Cruac ritual. She decides that a bit of, well, grace might go a long way with the man. She says, "Of course, Gyges. I trust our arrangement has been to your satisfaction?"

"The aetheric resonance of the street patterns have been expressing some unusual frequency. You must have felt it too, it's obvious by the change in our friends' flight patterns."

He is very earnest in his appraisal, going along perhaps a bit too quickly, with the obvious assumption that Grace is following along.

"There's some receiver I think that's tapping into the lines, drawing them closer. My guess would be some sort of ephemera, perhaps a duke of the violence descant. But it could be something more unusual, a genius loci. Or, as I admit I hope since it is more within my sphere, a major haunting, perhaps even an Avernian event."

He blinks. Only once. It's the only time he's blinked thus far.

"What do you think?"

The flurry of technical terms passes Grace by, though she does latch on to 'major haunting' like one might a handy piece of driftwood in a shipwreck. He seemed well enough set on his conclusions that disagreeing might offend him, not to mention she had little idea what she might be disagreeing with. Better to offer help, even if he didn't want it, and defer to his conclusions for the moment.

She says, "Well, I've certainly noticed that something is different lately, but you're far more of an expert on this sort of thing than I am. Are there any signs I should be on the lookout for if it is a, uh, Avernian event or a ephemera?"

Perhaps to her surprise, she actually finds he seems more disappointed in her agreeing with him. Not because of her conclusion, but that it's clear she hadn't completely followed. To the credit of the warlock, he does his level best to not condescend, still trying to engage as a peer.

"An Avernian event, of course, would be a bridging between the two layers of our fallen reality, between the living and the dead. A gate, if you will, to the Underworld." Simplifying it as best if you can.

"When they open, there can be a major disturbance to the local, ah, 'wildlife', or whatever the proper equivalent would be for the restless dead. I shall have to come upon a proper nomenclature... Um, but to my point, that is one explanation for the change in the winds."

"Of course, there are many kinds of ephemera, from the basal lower depths to the high supernal..."

Disappointed he may be, but Grace has a sharp mind and is a quick study. She contemplates his words a moment, then asks, "So would I be wrong to assume that these gates are more likely to form on places of... significance?" She's intentionally a little vague there, letting him fill in whatever sort of significance is appropriate. One possibility that does pop to mind is the Deacon and his ghostly flock, but she'd rather not open that can of worms until the need arises.

"Yes, yes!" He lit up at the attempt to engage, once again invested, perhaps overeager in the correction and coming a little too close as he seems to consider. "There are usually a few factors. You would think that it would be in places where great death, tragedy, et cetera occur, and to a point that is true, but location plays a larger role."

Gyges rifles through his emerald green coat, as if looking for something, but can't seem to find it and sighs. "Low. Down, down, down in the lower places. The technical term, of course, is cenote, but what's important is that it's never precisely at the point you think, but lower, as if buried beneath. That is, of course, if that is what we are dealing with."

"The last thing to consider is the sequence, the key to opening it. Though it may seem random, they never quite yawn open of their own accord. They are instead unlocked, which means, who, or what, did the unlocking?"

Grace's eyes narrow at that, not out of offense, but because the situation has turned from academic curiosity to a threat to her territory — the territory that Baron Jessica entrusted her with. She says, "Either way, I think we have a shared interest in discovering the answer. If there's someone — or some force, as the case may be — making a move on Oldtown..."

Thesaurasaurus posted:

Olivia mingles for a bit, but is visibly feeling out of her element here. She gravitates toward Grace. Maybe the reporter will take an interest in what she’s found. "Hey Gracie," she says, offering a brief hug. "And you, Gyges." Handshake. "What's shakin'?"

GYGES opens his mouth to answer, even though it was likely more aimed to GRACE, but he is interrupted by an unexpected voice.

JESSICA: (o.s.) "Please take your seats."

There is a soft scratching noise as we CUT to the gloved hand of BARON JESSICA RACKHAM MOORE, who palces the needle of the turn table onto the record. It is the antique phonograph provided by LETICIA, rather than the more modern turntable provided to her by her childe GRACE and LENNY. Something that would look out of her personal collection, especially not knowing the source. The sound quality is, well, it's as poor as you might expect, a scratchy sound coming through with a thrumming bass line, that opens into a clarinet's serenade.

Bird's Lament

TITLE CARD:

The BARON wears her trademark uniform, with one arm covered by the velvet cape and the other held up, fingertips pressed against each other and letting out a snap. With that release, the stage is revealed. Hidden from their minds in illusion, it is revealed that about the throne was set with a raised dais made of corrugated metal.

With each stanza of the instrumental verse, the BARON twirls, quick on her polished black shoes, and makes a gesture to reveal from the nothing something else hidden from the mind's eye through her powers of Obfuscate: The USHERS, one by one, joining the creaky sound of the jazzy number with sudden clarity. The kindly, old gentleman is first, strumming along at his standing bass. The tall, beautiful man (the one that Olivia referred to as "CORNELL") is second, with a black clarinet, playing the instigating notes of the melody. The scarred, dour woman is third and last, with a gleaming silver alto clarinet hitting the deepest notes.The BARON's hands are as a conductor's not just for the musical notes, but meeting with a hidden design within the belly of the ship, her Oubliette. Chandeliers bright with light that was hidden away from the mind's eye begin to appear, spinning slightly. What was once a dark and dim cargo bay suddenly lights up like a classy ballroom, with many ghostly shadows dancing upon the surfaces.

JESSICA arrives at her throne, there at the center of the stage, with the USHERS forming the jazz trio behind her. She raises her hands at the concluding notes of the song, and lets them drift down. There is an exhaustion of her faculties throughout this, and she sinks back into the throne, settling into it as if it were a glove, her eyes with heavy lids as she regards the attendees of her court.


JESSICA: Let us begin.

JESSICA snaps her finger again, even through those velvet gloves, and the ushers play a lighter tune, giving some slight background music to the proceedings coming forth.

JESSICA: I see that all of us are in attendance.

CUT with the camera to linger upon OLIVIA, following the BARON's gaze. Her tardiness has been noted and file away.

JESSICA: First, I would like to introduce a guest to my domain: The inimitable Matriarch Eustacia Sangiovanni. She has requested sanctuary at Greenwood Parish, and as a favor to the Bishop I am seeing to her needs while accomodations are being made.

The Lancea et Sanctum is known to offer sanctuary to those in politically... controversial positions. Even when a blood hunt has been called. Thus this has some political implications. Feel free to share your theories.

JESSICA: It is my hope that my vassals will show their hospitality over the course of the next week. Indeed, as I will be absent Wednesday night, it will fall upon you to host our esteemed guest.

The BARON's eyes search around the group, as if to sense a thought, or gauge her audience.

JESSICA: While it is an honor, that is not the meaning of my calling this court. I am informed that Narcisa Cremonosa, the Primogen, has called for a Gamut to settle standing issues between the Baronies of Brooklyn. Including, I gather, some matters close to home.

A Gamut is a tradition introduced by Goodwin Read early in the history of Brooklyn after the Primogen asserted power under Prince Mathias Frost. While each Baron rules their fief mostly independently, the Gamut is a calling of all the Barons in a single room, a single Court, to discuss matters involving the entire nightly realm. It is not called lightly, as many tensions are often excacerbated by it.

JESSICA: Even more interesting still, I am told that it shall be this Sunday, at the old opera house. Thus, it is imperative that we right this ship, and we have little time to do it.

JESSICA is a woman in the shape of a statue once again here, all cold calculation and power, even if the presence of the beast that is EUSTACIA would seem to overwhelm. She is a wolf, with a court of coyotes around her. She is hungry.

JESSICA: We shall revisit this. For now... I shall hear the petitions of my vassals. You may step forward.

If you have a petition for Jessica, whether simply to ask for information, or for aid, or simply to report, don't feel free to wait for a turn. We will run them parallel to each other. However, you may also focus on the other characters, and trying to take a read of the situation. It is up to you.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at Mar 28, 2019 around 02:10

Barbed Tongues
Mar 16, 2012




At Moore's voice, Zedd moves to his director's chair and sits down in front of it. He stretches his legs out along the floor, leaning back to rest on his palms. As usual, he didn't actually sit in his chair - not while it was here on this ship. It was a visible symbol of his subservience to the Baron.

When the performance and the speech is completed, he rises back up, dusting himself off out of habit. You don't need to do this. Zedd ignored it. He didn't need to learn that particular lesson again. It was better to explain himself early. The more information the Baron had from Zedd, the easier it was for him. Their visions didn't always line up, and it was through regular check-ins that he alleviated, at least somewhat, any anxiety that he might be acting outside her interests.

He steps forward to give his report, adopting a performative formality along with it. Long titles, careful enunciation, a deep bow from the waist to start, with smaller tips of the head punctuating each item.

(Performative Vassalage: Presence (4) + Expression (3) + Willpower (3) = Two Successes)

Zedd details the rumor of a ghostly shift that he heard from Booth. It's just an item point for the Baron, but he does glance at the others, especially Gyges and Sangiovanni, wondering if they'll have a reaction.

He then segues to the mafia problem. "I would request permission to confront the Vario Crew. As they are a part of the larger Luccese family, whose influence extends beyond the borders of Dockland. I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but I feel I must push back. Lenny has agreed to assist, so I wouldn't be acting alone."

Tricky
Jun 12, 2007

after a great meal i like to lie on the ground and feel like garbage




After Zedd's performance, Grace takes the stage. She doesn't make near the show of things, though her own attitude and bearing leave no question as to her devotion to her liege-lord and Sire.

Grace says, "Baron Jessica, there are two matters of concern in Oldtown: First, as Zedd has mentioned, there has been a disconcerting shift in the activity of the ghosts. I've begun inquiries into the cause and exact nature of the disturbance with the assistance of Gyges. His expertise in the field has already identified several potential sites that may be causing or aggravating the current circumstances."

She lets that sit a moment, hopeful that it might ease the Baron's attitude towards the warlock, but she doesn't hold much hope of that just yet. Perhaps when the hauntings are resolved.

Attempting to ease tensions between the two by rolling Manipulate + Persuasion, but no successes.

With renewed vigor, Grace adds, "The second matter is the Brooklyn Slasher. The stories in the papers and the news at large are causing a mild panic among the people of Red Hook. I believe our ability to hunt will be negatively affected if the killings continue and paranoia begins to take root. By your leave, I plan to take steps to uncover the identity of the one behind this and ensure their activities cease."

As the words finish ringing through the ship, she bows deeply and says, "If you have learned of anything related to the Slasher, Baron Jessica, I would request that you share your insights with me."

Shogeton
Apr 26, 2007

"Little by little the old world crumbled, and not once did the king imagine that some of the pieces might fall on him"



Now there are a lot interesting things to consider there. Miss Sangiovanni has requested Sanctuary. That means she finds herself in a very delicate position. However, the ones most likely offended by her unusual practice might be the very people she is turning to for Sanctuary. Did she then arouse the enmity of another party? And why would the bishop have her remain here, owing a favor to one of the Defiant, just to host her for some time. Does he hope something will happen to her in the meantime, ridding him of an unwanted figure, and making Baron Jessica look ineffective? It is not beyond consideration. They should be very careful about this. Her presence here should definitely not leave this ship.

Then there is the matter of the Gamut. And this causes his lips to tighten with worry a bit. He hadn't truly been worried about the dogs. He'd look into it, and handle it, but it wasn't something beyond his means, perhaps with a little help from the coterie. But with the Gamut so close, and this happening now. As well as Fransisco's poacher? Correlation is no causation, but he was a fair bit worried.

Perhaps he should mention it to her. No, preposterous. He was a Ventrue with skills in Animalism. He wasn't going to go to the Baron like a lack-wit intern the first time a problem showed, without any real attempt at investigation. He'd investigate, and if there was something there to report, he'd report. Possibly, perhaps even likely, after resolving the situation.

There was of course one other matter. he gave Mary a smile and stepped forward. "Baron Jessica, I would like for Red Hook to open its arms and show its hospitality to yet someone else. Mary Godwin, a Nosferatu I am well acquainted with, is currently looking for a new home. I am well certain she would thrive here, and find a new balance among friendly faces. I know for one that The Yard might not be the most posh of neighborhoods but with your consent, she would be most welcome there." He looked back at Mary, giving her an encouraging nod and smile, before looking back to the Baron.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




INT. S.S. ASTARTE — NIGHT

Barbed Tongues posted:

He steps forward to give his report, adopting a performative formality along with it. Long titles, careful enunciation, a deep bow from the waist to start, with smaller tips of the head punctuating each item.

(Performative Vassalage: Presence (4) + Expression (3) + Willpower (3) = Two Successes)

Zedd details the rumor of a ghostly shift that he heard from Booth. It's just an item point for the Baron, but he does glance at the others, especially Gyges and Sangiovanni, wondering if they'll have a reaction.

He then segues to the mafia problem. "I would request permission to confront the Vario Crew. As they are a part of the larger Luccese family, whose influence extends beyond the borders of Dockland. I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but I feel I must push back. Lenny has agreed to assist, so I wouldn't be acting alone."

JESSICA watches more or less impassively. There is an appreciation in the form, even if rote. Most especially, she senses that it is an extraordinary effort beneath the surface, tilting her head slightly as if to shift the frame of the scene.

JESSICA: Paul Vario, the caporegime, is the creature of Dominic Fiore, one of the grandchilder of Cremonosa. But if you aren't going for the big cheese, and keep the damage to the minimum, they won't have much room to complain. It's on your turf. You should act like it.

She nods in acknowledgment, giving her leave for him to take on that task. There's a challenge in JESSICA's voice to that, even if she appreciated the heads up, and the information given feels like an additional crinkle to the puzzle. While it may seem like a further obstacle, it might also represent opportunity. It puts a Kindred name in connection to the Vario Crew, and by insinuation, might provide some hint towards their motives.

Success. Jessica volunteers some crucial information that she believes will help Zedd, and possibly the source of the pressure.

Tricky posted:

After Zedd's performance, Grace takes the stage. She doesn't make near the show of things, though her own attitude and bearing leave no question as to her devotion to her liege-lord and Sire.

Grace says, "Baron Jessica, there are two matters of concern in Oldtown: First, as Zedd has mentioned, there has been a disconcerting shift in the activity of the ghosts. I've begun inquiries into the cause and exact nature of the disturbance with the assistance of Gyges. His expertise in the field has already identified several potential sites that may be causing or aggravating the current circumstances."

She lets that sit a moment, hopeful that it might ease the Baron's attitude towards the warlock, but she doesn't hold much hope of that just yet. Perhaps when the hauntings are resolved.

Attempting to ease tensions between the two by rolling Manipulate + Persuasion, but no successes.

GYGES looks a bit surprised that GRACE has taken on his matter, and there's a bit of confusion there as well, though ultimately it turns thankful for the attempt. However, JESSICA is cold in her expression, passing her half-lidded gaze to the warlock in consideration, and softening only when she looks upon her childe and feels the pull of their sympathy. She unmoved, but also not particularly wroth.

Failure. She still does not trust or like the warlock, but with it being a simple failure, it does no particular harm

JESSICA: I would ask that your tenant not interfere with the occult energies of Red Hook without my express permission, childe. In fact, I expressly forbid that he have anything to do with this on his own. If you wish for the warlock's aid, very well, but only in your presence. His tenancy extends solely to us allowing him in our presence, and of course his right to... hunt.

GYGES watches this happen with a sort of detached, agape expression, and his lips press together in a thin line, his fingers curling and his eyes going to the ground, looking a bit awkward in his position and wondering whether he is to speak for himself at this point. If no one encourages him otherwise, he decides to sink back, turning away from the stage and, well, sulking. All the while, EUSTACIA watches with rapt interest, parting her veils slightly to examine GRACE with sudden interest at the mention of a warlock, as well as the ghosts.

She is recognized in this interest by Jessica, who gives her a moment to speak.


EUSTACIA: "I have some expertise in the matter, perhaps I might be of some, assistance, if the, mmm, circumstances allow."

The implication of circumstances seems to mean more whether it interests her, or worth her while, than necessarily anything external.

Tricky posted:

With renewed vigor, Grace adds, "The second matter is the Brooklyn Slasher. The stories in the papers and the news at large are causing a mild panic among the people of Red Hook. I believe our ability to hunt will be negatively affected if the killings continue and paranoia begins to take root. By your leave, I plan to take steps to uncover the identity of the one behind this and ensure their activities cease."

As the words finish ringing through the ship, she bows deeply and says, "If you have learned of anything related to the Slasher, Baron Jessica, I would request that you share your insights with me."

While JESSICA's last proclamation likely did little to help GRACE's confidence, this one seems to gain the BARON's specific interest, causing her to lean forward and engage a bit more with her thoughts. She seems to be more than a little aware of the situation, so when the question comes, there's actually the hint of a smirk on her black lips, impressed at how astute her childe might be. The BARON leans back in her chair, and considers for a few moments, crossing her legs as she does. Even putting on an almost theatrical, "thinking" post with her hand to her chin, thumb brushing against the bottom of her lip.

JESSICA: "That is a very interesting proposition. I would caution you, Grace, by noting that one of the bodies was found in Park Slope. The attention of the Sheriff will be on this case, I have no doubt."

Yet somehow, it is obvious that this makes it all the more tempting.

JESSICA: "Unfortunately, something pulls a pall over our eyes. I feel as if there is a force at work here with ill intentions. Beyond the obvious ones, I mean." A bite of sarcasm. "Almost none of the disappearances have given us a body. I only know this: One woman was found strangled in the course of the crime in her home, in Park Slope: Janice Baer. That has not yet made it to the press... But one thing that has, is that they have left orphans behind. That might be witnesses." A moment's consideration. "Of course, you might want to start with what is already known, and I believe Olivia Voss has done that research already."

The BARON outstretches a hand, as if to summon Olivia forth and discuss her findings, and revealing perhaps a little of how closely she had been watching her vassals.

Shogeton posted:

There was of course one other matter. he gave Mary a smile and stepped forward. "Baron Jessica, I would like for Red Hook to open its arms and show its hospitality to yet someone else. Mary Godwin, a Nosferatu I am well acquainted with, is currently looking for a new home. I am well certain she would thrive here, and find a new balance among friendly faces. I know for one that The Yard might not be the most posh of neighborhoods but with your consent, she would be most welcome there." He looked back at Mary, giving her an encouraging nod and smile, before looking back to the Baron.

MARY is outright shocked at someone standing to speak on her behalf, having worked her hair into knots worrying at it while the others spoke, rehearsing what she would speak in her head. Her lips open and then close, and she starts to think it over. She has only the wherewithall to return the encouraging smile with one of her own as she thinks it through. JESSICA returns to her more stonelike expression, considering evenly the possibilities of welcoming a new face into the domain, at this particularly perilous moment. After that consideration reaches its conclusion, she gives a single nod.

JESSICA: "Mary Godwin has a reputation as I understand it. You, as her liege, will be held responsible for her actions, you understand. I would see that if no other objects, we can have her swear her fealty this night, paying homage to myself, and allegiance to you."

Francisco, if you wish to make your move, now is the time.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at Mar 28, 2019 around 03:27

ilootthecorpse
Oct 13, 2010




The Deacon had been uncommonly quiet during the proceedings. He had certainly planned to speak his support for Mary when the time came, but each petition and announcement leading up to that point seemed to further entwine itself into his own plans. But now the time was right. The many dominoes were in place and all he needed to do was reach out and topple them.

Francisco stood up, briefly straightened his jacket, and lay his hands one over the other at his waist. "Baron Jessica," he began with a formal bow, "I would like to speak of Mary Godwin, though not to object." He was composed, projecting his voice with weight and purpose as though he might from the pulpit. This was the Deacon, professional and meticulous in his message. "It is well-known to those assembled that both Doctor Chadwick and myself, with the assistance of Gyges," Francisco motioned an open palm to the warlock and offered a deferential nod, allowing for a moment's pause, "lifted the hex of starvation from her." Perhaps a subtle reminder of what the warlock had already done for them, after the Baron's rebuke. "To say that I have an interest in her well-being would be vastly understated, and so I would also offer her tenancy in my territory. My streets are a bountiful garden where I believe she would find a great comfort." And you would not need to feed on rats. The Deacon allowed the implication to linger for a moment, and then shifted his attention to Eustacia.

"I would also be remiss to speak and not proffer my complete hospitality to Eustacia Sangiovanni." He turned to the matriarch and offered another formal bow, though daring to gaze up and meet her eyes throughout. "While you are so briefly among us it would be my honor to extend you sustenance from my flock. I believe you will find them illumi..."

Revelation struck the inside of Francisco's mind like a hammer. Oily, tattered pinions scratched beneath his scalp, bursting inward towards his subconscious as the Plague Angel unfurled its wings and whispered dreadful secrets into his ear. He staggered, his speech abruptly cut short as he was forced to steady himself on the back of the chair beside him.

Rolling for Dream Visions about Eustacia. Blood Potency (1) + Willpower (3) = 4 dice, 1 Success. I would like to know if the Families of Staten Island are plotting against her.

"Excuse me," he said breathlessly, blinking hard to rectify reality against the ephemeral specters swimming before his eyes. "I'm afraid premonitions from the Divine have no sense of propriety." He had more to say, fully intending to reveal that Grace was indeed correct and that a poacher was already using the paranoia from the Slasher to hunt within his domain. He had also wished to suggest a Mass on Sunday before the Gamut, to steel them all against the barbs which would no doubt be directed at them. However, in the vision's aftershock he was unable to reorder his thoughts. "Please, allow me a moment to interpret what I've just seen."

ilootthecorpse fucked around with this message at Mar 28, 2019 around 07:49

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.




The Baron's entrance brings an immediate shift in the room's attention. All eyes are on her, as they should be - including Lenny's. He joins the group in their seats, electing to take one in the back, and letting the others in the coterie make their pleas first. Unlike the others, his capabilities at these sorts of functions were mostly lacking. He knew the basics, and the Baron seemed to have enough of an interest in him to forgive him small mistakes... but it did mean he had to consider his words much more carefully. When there is a moment, he steps forward. His bow is less deep than some of the others, though no less sincere, yet his stance is more reserved. "Baron Jessica. Much in my territory remains the same as it was. The interlopers Coyle and Goode, I am sorry to say, elude me still, and seem to be a step ahead of me no matter where I go. Now, the Nosferatu seeks to goad me into action, by terrorizing one of the locals I depend upon for information. But I would be foolish to rush blindly ahead."

Lenny pauses for a moment, watching Jessica's reaction carefully. So much for the bad news. "The enemy has the upper hand on knowledge - of the field, of me, of the locals - and so I am at a disadvantage. I am not discouraged by this - I can find them eventually - but to speed things along, my petition is a request for anything of use you may tell me about Rufus Coyle. With such information, I can strike back and begin to properly solidify your claim on the territory of East Gowanus sooner, rather than later." Though his petition seems at an end, he continues with a less certain tone of voice. "Unless the coming of the Gamut would make it inconvenient for you if I were to dispose of one of the Sheriff's favored thugs in the coming week?"

When he is once again dismissed, he considers the other elephant in the room. Jeremy and Leticia seemed to have the hosting of the refugee matriarch well in hand, but the question of why she came here was worth considering. If it would bring additional troubles from Staten Island over to the territory, things would get more complicated real quick. Lenny's not too familiar with the situation over there - barring what little Zedd has told him - so he can't speculate too much. But having a political rival from another Family - or multiple - outwit the matriarch enough to that she was forced to flee and request asylum seems like a reasonable cause. The question is if the vendetta would be harsh enough to pursue her. Maybe another thing worth asking Zedd about.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




INT. S.S. ASTARTE — FRANCISCO'S PETITION

ilootthecorpse posted:

Francisco stood up, briefly straightened his jacket, and lay his hands one over the other at his waist. "Baron Jessica," he began with a formal bow, "I would like to speak of Mary Godwin, though not to object." He was composed, projecting his voice with weight and purpose as though he might from the pulpit. This was the Deacon, professional and meticulous in his message. "It is well-known to those assembled that both Doctor Chadwick and myself, with the assistance of Gyges," Francisco motioned an open palm to the warlock and offered a deferential nod, allowing for a moment's pause, "lifted the hex of starvation from her." Perhaps a subtle reminder of what the warlock had already done for them, after the Baron's rebuke.
Though it was an attempt at subtlety, FRANCISCO's pressing the issue after the BARON made her position clear was enough to elicit a twinge, a twitch of the Beast in her. It edged close to contradiction, and she had made her opinion plain. JESSICA had little investment in the fate of the whelp, and had not the emotional connection the coterie had to her fate. The attempt fell on deaf ears.

You can't do everything at once, unfortunately. This will take time and Social Maneuvering if you want to change her mind, and it's clear Francisco's focus is elsewhere.

ilootthecorpse posted:

"To say that I have an interest in her well-being would be vastly understated, and so I would also offer her tenancy in my territory. My streets are a bountiful garden where I believe she would find a great comfort." And you would not need to feed on rats.

MARY at this point isn't shocked, though she has a sort of satisfied smirk on her face. The BARON, who was considering SAMUEL's petition, laid her cheek in her hand and seemed to be rolled back in consideration. She didn't speak, as the DEACON seemed to have more to say, which caused her eyebrows to raise a bit.

ilootthecorpse posted:

The Deacon allowed the implication to linger for a moment, and then shifted his attention to Eustacia.

"I would also be remiss to speak and not proffer my complete hospitality to Eustacia Sangiovanni." He turned to the matriarch and offered another formal bow, though daring to gaze up and meet her eyes throughout. "While you are so briefly among us it would be my honor to extend you sustenance from my flock. I believe you will find them illumi..."

Revelation struck the inside of Francisco's mind like a hammer. Oily, tattered pinions scratched beneath his scalp, bursting inward towards his subconscious as the Plague Angel unfurled its wings and whispered dreadful secrets into his ear. He staggered, his speech abruptly cut short as he was forced to steady himself on the back of the chair beside him.

Rolling for Dream Visions about Eustacia. Blood Potency (1) + Willpower (3) = 4 dice, 1 Success. I would like to know if the Families of Staten Island are plotting against her.

CUT to dream sequence. A large banquet table with ebony wood and lace tablecloth, almost like a burial shroud. A cornucopia of blood-spattered food, of various game and meat, of steaming stew and piles of fruit, sit while the sound of flies buzz. All the guests are as corpses, shriveled and stuck in rigor mortis in their chairs. There is an empty chair at the end of the table, where the guest place of honor might be. On the table, a sounding of swine gobbled up the feast while the corpses fester, filling their gullets and bristling with coarse hair, filling the whole space with an awful sound of feasting. The snapping of bone, the crushing of fruit, the snapping of gristle.

Success. The answer is yes.

ilootthecorpse posted:

"Excuse me," he said breathlessly, blinking hard to rectify reality against the ephemeral specters swimming before his eyes. "I'm afraid premonitions from the Divine have no sense of propriety." He had more to say, fully intending to reveal that Grace was indeed correct and that a poacher was already using the paranoia from the Slasher to hunt within his domain. He had also wished to suggest a Mass on Sunday before the Gamut, to steel them all against the barbs which would no doubt be directed at them. However, in the vision's aftershock he was unable to reorder his thoughts. "Please, allow me a moment to interpret what I've just seen."

JESSICA: "We have not the time. You shall have to make do, Deacon."

It is clear in her tone of voice and expression that the SHADOW BARON knows precisely what FRANCISCO has just experienced. She has had time to consider the matter, however, and she does not pause her Court on his behalf, even if there's a bit of concern, or perhaps simply intrigue in her expression.

JESSICA: "I am pleased at least that my vassals are so eager to serve me, before I even ask of them their owed corvée. I believe you will have your opportunity to show the finest hospitality to Matriarch Sangiovanni, the terms of which we will discuss soon after I have heard all the petitions of my subjects."

EUSTACIA, for her part, is thrilled by the idea, it is obvious, and it's clear that JESSICA is pleased as well that her guest is being given such attentions... and that too there is a desire to know more that what is on the surface.

JESSICA: "However, the issue of Mary Godwin's tenancy must be resolved first. I take it, Dr. Chadwick, that your offer still stands as well?"

After receiving acknowledgment from the good DOCTOR, the BARON makes a lifting gesture with her hand.

JESSICA: "Both of you then, come forward and make your case to the Court. Both on the matter of her worth, and why you should be the one to steward her. We shall decide the matter by acclamation of the audience, lingua bellum."

CUT to MARY: "Wait, don't I get a say?"

JESSICA: "Not really." That caustic wit sliding into place.

JESSICA wanted her vassals sharpened ahead of the upcoming Gamut, and if that meant setting them against each other in the Danse Macabre, so be it. While the audience was mixed in their investment, and none clearly favored one or the other, most did care about the eventual fate of MARY GODWIN, and thus how this might play.

JESSICA: "You may begin, whenever it please you."

We get our first taste of Social Combat. See this post gives a summary of mechanics. The Audience is Small but Invested. Please use #roleplay-I on Discord for the exchanges, and feel free to take it slow and feel out the mechanics on this one. It's a bit of a tutorial.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at Mar 28, 2019 around 16:25

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




INT. S.S. ASTARTE — LENNY'S PETITION

Wahad posted:

Lenny pauses for a moment, watching Jessica's reaction carefully. So much for the bad news. "The enemy has the upper hand on knowledge - of the field, of me, of the locals - and so I am at a disadvantage. I am not discouraged by this - I can find them eventually - but to speed things along, my petition is a request for anything of use you may tell me about Rufus Coyle. With such information, I can strike back and begin to properly solidify your claim on the territory of East Gowanus sooner, rather than later." Though his petition seems at an end, he continues with a less certain tone of voice. "Unless the coming of the Gamut would make it inconvenient for you if I were to dispose of one of the Sheriff's favored thugs in the coming week?"

After the fate of MARY GODWIN had been decided, the BARON was able to turn her attention to other matters from her courtiers. LENNY came forward with a report from the disputed edges of her domain in Gowanus. JESSICA draws forward, in her seat, setting both feat down and resting her elbows against her knees.

When he asks for information, she considers for only a moment before offering her aid.

JESSICA: "I know that Rufus Coyle is one of the Worms driven from the halls of Gehenna by the Second Descent, before he was a enforcer in the employ of the Sheriff of Brooklyn."

The Worms were the Nosferatu that lived primarily underground, forming an almost parallel society with its own rules and laws to that of New York City above. And its own dangerous politics. This is an interesting development, as with the coterie's history with the Second Descent, there might even be a point of understanding.

JESSICA: "Worms, like rats," giving a motion towards Olivia and Grace in recognition of their focus on the issue of the "Rat King Killer", "you can always find under a rock or log. Coming out only to feed. A Haunt will be able to evade mundane notice, so you may need to employ some assistance in rooting them out."

The BARON finally reclines back in her throne, settling into her thoughts.

JESSICA: "As for the political ramifications, as far as I am concerned, the Sheriff's men are poaching upon land granted to me by the Prince of Brooklyn's decree, and no decree since has changed that. The price for poaching is severe."

This is a hardline stance, but it means that the Baron will defend you up to torpor against those disputing your lands. If you want more insight into what the political consequences might be, a Wits + Politics check would help.

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.




The Baron's words are simple, and to the point. Just the way Lenny prefers it. No political bullshit, no tip-toeing. Sure, he would still have to actually find Rufus, but... "The price for poaching is severe," Jessica finishes her declaration, and something that perhaps surprises some of those in attendance happens.

Lenny smiles.

It's a big, toothy smile, not of joy but of satisfaction. "As you say, Baron. It will be done." The Beast in him subsides. It was always snarling at the bars of the cage that were Lenny's body, insatiable in its hunger for violence. But now, that violence had a target. An enemy. A prey. So it could relax, for now, if only a little. Rip him in half and scatter his bones. And it would get a release, soon. the soldier in him agreed. He had a mission. A clear and present danger was present. Time to find and eliminate. Were he still human, he might be bothered by the feelings of almost giddy anticipation at the violence to come. But even then, he had known since his army days that this was where he is most comfortable. Boots on the ground, target in sight, killing intent at the ready. So Lenny bows - again, a simple gesture, but sincere - and retreats from the floor, back to his seat. He wasn't too familiar with the underground areas of his territory yet, but it would be a good start.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




INT. S.S. ASTARTE — LINGUA BELLUM

Tricky Dick Nixon posted:

JESSICA: "You may begin, whenever it please you."

We get our first taste of Social Combat. See this post gives a summary of mechanics. The Audience is Small but Invested. Please use #roleplay-I on Discord for the exchanges, and feel free to take it slow and feel out the mechanics on this one. It's a bit of a tutorial.


Francisco Castiglione: Timing 9, Dominance 5, Guile 6, Ego 1


Dr. Samuel Chadwick: Timing 8, Dominance 5, Guile 4, Ego 0


The Deacon ascends to the stage at Baron Jessica's request. It was familiar territory for him. Standing in front of his liege lord and his peers now was no different than when he preached the Midnight Mass. He suspected that the good doctor may be less comfortable and Francisco was ready to seize on any misstep Chadwick might make. "Please Doctor, after you."

Measure: Presence (2) + Empathy (3) = 5 dice, 2 Successes.


The doctor stood, smiling. "Thank you, good deacon. Now, before I start, let's start off by saying how I appreciate that you too are willing to speak for Miss Godwin. While I do believe that I am in the best position to help her do well, and make all of her detractors eat crow, the most important is that she finds a good home among us. So, I'd like to thank you first for your speaking up."

Charm: Presence (3) + persuasion (2) = 5 dice, 2 Successes.


Francisco nodded gratefully for the recognition, and offered his own in kind. "I think both of us, and the court as well, have Mary's best interest in mind. We all wish to see her flourish, and the Barony flourish by extension. I know that you are dedicated, and would like to thank you as well for offing such unwavering support. I believe that the only point we disagree on is where Mary should reside." The niceties were behind them now. Francisco collected himself for the attack.

Charm: Manipulation (3) + Persuasion (1) + Measure (2) = 6 dice, 3 Successes.


"Indeed. Now, part of the reason I personally believe that she would fare better staying with me is of course, the difference in our convictions. But then, those are not something any hear necessarily share... though I remain every hopeful." He allowed himself a playful wink. "No, I think that we all know how much the deacon does. And therein lies the problem. He works as a priest, he is clearly a seer, he might very well have a very esteemed guest in his home. I ask you, good people, is our good friend Fransisco not taking too big of a load on himself. We've already seen his attention is being stretched between the matter of Miss Godwin, the honourable Matriarch, and the matter regarding Mr. Gyges. For the sake of Miss Godwin, and yourself, I think none of us want you to overextend yourself"

Rouse the Crowd: Presence (3) + Persuasion (2) + Willpower (3) - lowered Guile (4)= 4 dice: 1 success. Not enough to break through Ego.


Francisco's smile dripped with sweet venom. "Doctor, I appreciate your concern. You are an exemplar to you Hippocratic Oath... but maybe blinded by it as well." He did not need the crowd now. The good doctor had exposed his flank and Francisco was ready to bite. "Yes, I am a priest, and a seer, and a shepherd to my flock, but my Faith buoys me. It gives me the strength I need to carry on. And what Mary needs is strength. She is a young predator in the wild, and we are here now, but one day we will not be. She needs to know what it is to be a hunter, and my streets are flush with blood. One day, Doctor, your dream might be realized and we may all live a more gentile unlife, but young Mary must learn to walk before she can fly."

Undermine: Manipulation (3) + Socialize (1) + Willpower (3) - Guile (2) = 5 dice, 1 Success. 3 Dominance damage.


"You aim to teach her what she already knows, deacon. She knows strength. And she knows how to predate on people. It is not hard for us. For any of us." Dr. Chadwick once against turned to the other people. "But one thing I know, about all of us, including you, is that we know that there are more important things than strength. And you can wait, and say 'the time to learn kindness, to learn gentleness, those are not now. Once we are strong, we can learn them. How many of those people, who we've seen act with utter callousness and disregard for the life of anyone, kindred otherwise, once said that surely they'd learn to fly, someday soon. Daedalus warned Icarus not only about not flying too close to the sun, he also warned him against flying too close to the waves, or the water would soak his wings and send him crashing down."

Rouse the Crowd: Presence (3) + Persuasion (2) + Willpower (3) - lowered Guile (4)= 4 dice: 0 successes.


So the Doctor was angling for a haymaker, throwing one last all-out appeal to the humanity of their coterie that they might take his side. Noble, but foolish. Francisco had latched onto his choice piece of meat and now he was ready to shake and rip it free. "I'm sorry, Doctor, but I have to disagree. Yes, we all have the urge to predate on people, but there is a finesse to it that only comes from practice. Something that you, understandably, may not be familiar with." A rabbit punch, but necessary for the illustration of his point. "There is a difference between browbeating some drunk in an alley, just a cat killing for the thrill, and being the trapdoor spider who can snatch her prey without them even seeing the web." And now the finale. "But even more safe, and certainly more kind, is the farmer ant who tends to their aphids, sees to their long, healthy lives, and only takes the dew that they offer. This is the true strength I offer to Mary: the experience and guidance necessary that she could form her own flock, where she can feed in harmony, and with consent."

Undermine: Manipulation (3) + Socialize (1) + Willpower (3) - Guile (2) = 5 dice, 4 Successes. That's a wrap.


There were other arguments to be made, other things to say, but during the whole fight, there'd been a tension between the two. A power struggle. One that had nothing to do with 'formal debate. He didn't just want Mary, he wanted to humble Fransisco, wanted to show his superiority. Behind the polite words, and the high appeals, he could not deny that feeling lingering within him. He could only deny that it was part of him. And that part cringed, hissed, retreated, taking the fire out of his voice.

"They are people. Not cattle." He said, but his voice was weak and insecure, the desire to WIN that had been driving him now dragging him down. He lost. The rear end in a top hat, the smug piece of poo poo. Mary was HIS! HE was smarter. They'd see Fransisco fail and then he would be shown to be right and...

No... this wasn't right. He closed his eyes. Forcing his clenched hands to open. The whole All Night Society was sick. Fransisco truly believed he was helping her. For Mary's sake, and for Fransisco's sake, and for the sake of his cause, he couldn't let intrusive emotions like this lead him astray. His mind was a finely honed scalpel, stronger than some primal desires. He looked at the thoughts he had had, considering them with disapproval. They were someone else's thoughts. Something else's thoughts. Something that had no sway over him.

He opened his eyes.

Samuel burns WP to avoid the Repressed Condition. A Beat is earned. Francisco earns The Edge Condition, as below.



"Enough."

Where it was clear the Beast had been called forth, the Baron was ready to intercede and give her final word. She had been sitting transfixed by the display before her, taking in every detail, as the rest of the audience had been equally invested in it, but with her hands clasping together, she drew forward.

"This is a highly sensitive time. The claim to my sire's patrimony hangs in the balance, and taking in a former acolyte of the Second Descent offers little aid in this." Her voice is sharp. "Both of you, so invested in which of you would be her keeper, did little to convince me of her worth."

It's an intentional lesson, and Mary looks quite upset, having had her feelings elated for a moment only for the Baron to seemingly quash them with her harsh words.

"However, it is clear that her fate is intertwined here, ever since the events before. So then, Francisco, you may take her into your tenancy. You will be held responsible for her actions, but in turn may extract your rent from her as you both decide and swear."

It is quite a rollercoaster for Mary, and she grips her knees uneasily, as if expecting it to still be denied, even through all that.

"I will hear the next petitioner. You are dismissed, Dr. Samuel, Francisco."


As a consequence of their petition, Mary Godwin has been recognized a tenant of Francisco's domain, though the exact terms aren't laid out yet.

INT. S.S. ASTARTE — MEANWHILE, IN THE AUDIENCE


As Mary's fate is decided before them, Jeremy gives Leticia an inviting look as he takes up position at Eustacia's left flank. This one is big enough to share, if you like, it says. There's no hesitation there, just an easy offer of alliance. He'll give her the first word, to see if she wants to hunt together or alone, and there'll be no hard feelings either way.


Leticia gives a small, happy nod in response. She had hoped he would propose just such a thing. With a little reluctance, she tears her eyes from the show in the Court and rests them on Eustacia. Leticia is still quite unnerved by the vision, and what it implies that Eustacia did to her, but with Jeremy's offer of support, she manages to swallow the discomfort and put on a friendly affect. "Matriarch," she says, "I know how tough it is to have to move to a brand new place. Is there anything Jeremy or I can do to make your stay more pleasant? We're not just nice to look at, you know. Jeremy here has a great sense of decor, and I'm sure he'd love to help you redecorate, if you want. He could make your room look just like home." The unspoken question being 'like your home, which would be... where?'

The sound that comes from Eustacia Sangiovanni is an amused trill, not quite a laugh, a more primal sound than that. "My dear, you might find my tastes peculiar, so I will spare you. Of course, that isn't really what you are asking, after all..." She draws back in the couch like seat, to be attended at both sides, whether at her flank or seated next to her.

"I'm under no illusions that I shall live as a queen. This is merely a setback. I am still the Matriarch of my family, and though there are others with pretensions otherwise, these things have a tendency to work themselves out over the years. You'll find I'm a resilient old bird. I've fed off the wretched dying of the Black Death in Alexandria and Naples long before I had to eat crow in Staten Island. Besides, the Bishop will provide for my more peraccommodationsdations. Where, I wonder, shall you house little old me in the meanwhile?"

There's a bit of dark humor to her, her eyes widening a bit with the unusual inflection of her voice. It's not the caustic wit of their Baron, but rather of a jaded old woman who has seen time filter through her fingers like a sieve.

"A coffin." Nodding. "Something stately, but not overstated. Velvet, of course, with all the bells and whistles. If you would be so kind, I'd take one of those." It was not so unusual a request. Though tastes varied, it was somewhat fashionable for the Kindred to have specially made coffins or sarcophagi for their havens. A status symbol. Sometimes even for practical reasons: One that can only be opened from within provided a little extra protection during their most vulnerable state. After all, the Kindred did not sleep, per se. They died, each and every night, and a torpid Kindred looks nothing less than a corpse.



"Why ma'am, we happen to have an excellent coffin-maker right here in Red Hook," Jeremy adds, grinning. "I'm sure it wouldn't be any trouble, though of course we'll need to get an address to deliver it to once that's been settled with the bishop." It helped that said coffin-maker was in his territory, though it might not come as cheaply as he was implying... "Family trouble can be very hard, yes. I've had a fair share of my own. Should we be on the lookout for anyone in particular? Between the Baron and the bishop, well, it's quite the deterrent to impoliteness, but when it comes to family sometimes our fellow Kindred aren't the most sensible people."

"You must have met my niece by now, my dear. Last I heard, you're sharing the same space." Leona Sangiovanni. A member of the Invictus, hired by the House of Read to administer on behalf of Primogen Goodwin the territory of West Gowanus. Jeremy hasn't heard anything from her, but that seems within the character of a Mekhet. Perhaps it is only a matter of time. The thin smirk on Eustacia's face slowly dies away. "I do not know if she is part of this little spat, but I would not be surprised if that is Octavio's design. My dearest childe, and now my dearest pain."


"Ah yeah, Leona. She's been dodging me so far," Jeremy says, a bit of a pout in his voice. "But with the Gamut coming up she'll have to show up sooner or later, or she'll lose by default. I'll keep an eye out for her." He chuckles, but on the inside he's been pretty pissed about that whole thing since he moved in. He's not used to being avoided, and he doesn't like it one bit. Especially by someone who is supposed to be his competition.

She draws a nail down the contour of Jeremy's arm, where he stands next to her, as if to beckon him closer. "Perhaps we can be of use to each other in this way, mmm?"


"I was just thinking, perhaps seeking her out would be a good idea. If you'd like my help too Jeremy, you know I'd be happy to lend a hand!" Leticia has only heard bits and pieces of the story with Leona, but she is more than willing to help a coterie member. Plus, the sight of Eustacia pawing Jeremy sets off alarms in her, though she's not quite sure why.

"Why, we could make a thing of it. A night on the town." The elder purrs in her sultry way, though as with Leticia's alarm bells, it feels an oddly placed feeling. She isn't talking about enjoying the nightlife, but hunting down one of her own family members.

By this point, the argument over Mary Godwin had concluded, and another matter was brought forward that brought some attention from the Sangiovanni. That of the reports on the ghosts in Oldtown, and then... well, things got quite interesting after that.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.




INT. S.S. ASTARTE — GRACE'S PETITION

Tricky Dick Nixon posted:

JESSICA: "Unfortunately, something pulls a pall over our eyes. I feel as if there is a force at work here with ill intentions. Beyond the obvious ones, I mean." A bite of sarcasm. "Almost none of the disappearances have given us a body. I only know this: One woman was found strangled in the course of the crime in her home, in Park Slope: Janice Baer. That has not yet made it to the press... But one thing that has, is that they have left orphans behind. That might be witnesses." A moment's consideration. "Of course, you might want to start with what is already known, and I believe Olivia Voss has done that research already."

The BARON outstretches a hand, as if to summon Olivia forth and discuss her findings, and revealing perhaps a little of how closely she had been watching her vassals.


"Thank you, Your Lordship." Olivia offers a stiff bow and climbs the short steps to the throne, taking her place at the Baron's side. "There have been at least two victims, but the feds think there may be as many as eight. Six other disappearances that were never solved. All single mothers, all reported a break-in in the week before their disappearance or death. Owing to the lurid circumstances in which Lauren Price's remains were found, tabloids have named the perp the 'Rat King Killer'. Their connection to the Brooklyn Slasher, if any, is unknown."

She goes on to summarize her findings, including the methodology and specific sources. Dry, technical details - not as gripping or salacious as what the actual tabloids printed, because that's not the point. This is a manhunt, not ad copy for one of Zedd's flicks.

Olivia reaches the part of her report pertaining to the museum and the break-in, and halts. She looks meaningfully across the audience, and her eyes narrow on Gyges. "Baron, there are other leads I've uncovered, but...to be blunt, they point toward occult activity. In light of your prior judgement, do you still want me to continue?"

Jessica tilts her head slightly, and glances to Grace. "My prior judgment stands, as does my request. Tenants are held accountable to my vassals, so it should not pose any difficulty."


Grace nods, "Of course, Baron Jessica."


“Okay.” This will make things easier going forward, at least. “Recently, the H. Mason Memorial Museum was burglarized. The only items taken were from the upcoming exhibit on the Black Tom explosion, but another exhibit was vandalized - the cholera epidemic of the 1830s.”

She takes the relevant documents from the usher. She hadn’t asked for anything, nor did anyone see them move before appearing at her side, but that’s just how things are in Baron Jessica’s court. She likes her mysteries.

“Prior to the full outbreak, there were another eight disappearances: an Irish mother and her seven children. Their home was found swarming with thousands of rats.” She held up her copy of the ancient newspaper. “Rumors at the time blamed - get this - a ‘King of Rats’.”

Framing her chin with her thumb and finger, Jessica does her best to maintain a strict, unimpressed composure as ever, though it is clear she is interested in more.

"The King of Rats was an urban legend in the early days of Brooklyntown, as it became choked with human life. A hateful story, spurred by hatred of Catholic migrants and their huge families, which were compared to rats. It's said that a desperate woman looking for a child could buy one from the King of Rats, who stuffed them in a bag in the shape of a little boy or girl, only to find out months, even years later the trick."

She recounts the story with an eerie precision, and then lets her hand drop to her lap, foot lightly hanging there in repose in thougt.

"Prince Mathias often though of the coming and going of the people of Brooklyn as akin to an infestation of rats. Sometimes, there is a need for an extermination, he'd claim. Often before there was a fire. Or a plague."

A few beats.

"Nothing happens by chance, not here in Red Hook. You should consult with an expert in the psychic discipline of beasts. Our mad friend might have the right of it in that the pattern of these beasts might lead us. He just has his eye in the sky, when it may be beneath our feet."



Grace considers that silently, though her mind begins to spin with the possibilities. It seemed that the space below the city was becoming more and more pivotal — Gyges's suspicions that there may well be a gate between worlds influencing the ghosts, a figure out of myth, and it may all well tie together in ways she hasn't quite begun to fathom.


“Baron.” Do you mean to say...? “Is it possible that someone - not some ineffable force, but a person - was behind the epidemic? Could this be an attempt to cause a NEW epidemic?”

The Baron considers this for a few moments, her expression darkening. "It warrants further investigation." Her nature would not simply allow her to say 'I hope not.' She didn't believe in such a thing. There were only facts, and if the facts were laid out a certain way... "If even an inkling of that proves true, it will need to be offered at the Gamut." She leaves it at that, not needing to belabor how important that would make the matter.


“I thank you for your consideration, then, and hereby formally-request your permission to assemble a task force.” Olivia stares directly at Francisco and Chadwick, leaving little doubt as to whom she means to recruit.

"Granted."


“Baron. I yield the floor.”

INT. S.S. ASTARTE — GYGES' PETITION

After OLIVIA yields the floor, there is no immediate answer or new petition. A tension hangs in the air, and it seems the BARON is deep in thought herself, though finds a moment to ask, with a touch of finality...

JESSICA: "Is that all?"

The question hangs, before one answer: GYGES, the warlock, striding with his fingers tented together and twiddling at his thumbs, eyes never quite making contact with the Baron's. A nervous tic, or conscious of the mesmerizing powers of the Damned?

GYGES: "Ah, yes. M'lady."

JESSICA: "You may address me as Your Lordship."

GYGES: "Right, Your Lordship. I owe you homage, of course, as the regent of this domain, but I was hoping that perhaps you could be convinced--"

JESSICA: "No."

GYGES: undeterred "that perhaps if I were to prove myself in some way."

JESSICA: "If I have learned anything in the decades since my death, Gyges, it's that the aid of warlocks always comes with a heavy price."

GYGES: "Correct, but that is one of several ways we are like the Kindred, Your Lordship."

That actually seems to, for his part, elicit a softening of JESSICA's expression, giving him the moment to continue.

GYGES: "So, I theorized earlier that this might have been the opening of a new gate to the Underworld, with your apprentice -- er, childe. Perhaps both, it doesn't matter. I don't think, with the current revelations, that is the case. But I can offer you something that might make a lead... A gate I already know that's been open for some time."

JESSICA: "The Seaside Hotel, I presume."

GYGES: "I.. Er, yes. That." visibly deflated

JESSICA: "You should know better by now warlock that little in my domain escapes my notice. However, this makes as good a time as any to turn our attentions to the business at hand. You are dismissed."

Having failed at this gambit, GYGES shrinks back, and JESSICA rises up from her seat to stand there at the front of the stage, drawing her cape before her in consideration.

JESSICA: "The night grows long in the tooth; there are only a few before daylight. I have heard matters bubbling beneath the surface that must be resolved. I trust that as my vassals you have it well enough in hand. I shall expect to hear from you before the Gamut, but in the meantime, there is the matter of service that is owed to me."

The BARON makes a sweeping motion with her arm and cape, and one of the USHERS, who has prepared a projector from the second floor, casts through light a photograph against the Baron and the wall behind her, showing a series of buildings against the pier.



JESSICA: "My intention tonight was to have my vassals spend a night at this hotel, a place of dark power, and an entryway into Dead Amsterdam, near the western docks. Since my sire's days, it has been a forbidden place, but I have earned permission from the Kogaion to allow this opportunity. It is, in fact, in part why our esteemed guest is here."

EUSTACIA lifts from her seat in unnatural motions, as if unfolding from it. Her minute form is far more fragile than the power she exudes, and she expands upon this.

EUSTACIA: "Darling Johnathan doesn't want me skulking in his mausoleums, I take it. I know the Haunt has his own portals, but instead he foists me here upon one of his pen pals."

The dark humour treads a little too close towards disrespect, which obviously causes the BARON to pause for a moment to collect herself.

The Baron only allows such disrespect from her betters, and even then, only when it's part of a play. What could possibly be the play here? An Empathy or Politics check might be appropriate to gain additional insight, or perhaps something more esoteric.

JESSICA: "I intend to fulfill the Bishop's request to shepherd the Matriarch to Dead Amsterdam, and with her safety as my charge, I wish to leave nothing to chance. Next slide."

There is a click, and a change to some newspaper articles about the various murders and hauntings there.

JESSICA: "The Seaside Hotel earned this occult power over years, and designs as I understand it by Prince Mathias and his colleagues. The suffering here was machinated, much like the slaughter of the adjoining abattoir. Now both are abandoned space, save for the attentions of a caretaker who lives in the tenements down the row, Penderghast. My sire's ghoul."

But whose ghoul is he now?

JESSICA: "Next slide."

A blurry photograph of a deeply ugly man, to use as an identifier. He has widely spaced eyes, too-small teeth for his gums in a crooked smile, and a wild crown of greasy, dark hair around a balding, liverspotted head.

JESSICA: "However, there is a change of plans. I will need to attend to the issue brough forth to me by Olivia. That means I must leave my guest in the charge of my trusted vassals, whom it seems might be better suited to the task... If, of course, the Matriarch allows it."

CUT to EUSTACIA with a rictus grin, and a shrug as she turns back to LETICIA and JEREMY.

EUSTACIA: "I always make do."

JESSICA: "Then I will hear any questions about what is to be done, my vassals. Those of you who volunteer, I ask to spend the entirety of tomorrow night on the grounds of the Seaside Hotel. Record your experiences, ensure there is no danger, and report back to me here at the S.S. Astarte before dawn. And for the rest, I must entrust the Matriarch to your attentions: See that she is given accomodations fitting her station, entertainment, and ensure that she is nourished. And above all else, ensure nothing untoward were to happen to her. I hope I have been clear."

A choice: Hospitality or mystery? Both tasks will take your monthly night of service to the Baron, and both shall be on the next Tuesday night, giving you the remaining hours tonight to prepare, though of course possibly delaying your own personal ambitions. Or perhaps, you can find a way to do both.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at Apr 1, 2019 around 00:31

Tricky
Jun 12, 2007

after a great meal i like to lie on the ground and feel like garbage




Grace watches Gyges's attempts to navigate Kindred politics with a trace of sympathy, though she had hoped he'd prove more adept at reading the room. Perhaps an avenue they might trade knowledge? His expertise in the arcane is clear and with Dead Amsterdam looming... that may prove very useful. Her musings are cut short as the Baron describes the tasks at hand — and glosses over a slight. That was unusual.

She thinks a moment, trying to figure out why her Sire would excuse so much from a guest, and comes to a quick conclusion — it must have to do with the Gamut. If Eustacia is speaking there on behalf of the Baron, then she'd likely have a touch more restraint in the moment. Though, with that said, Grace wouldn't want to put herself in Eustacia's shoes. Jessica may forgive in the moment, but she doesn't forget. Grace resolves to find a quick moment to meet with Leticia and Jeremy before the coterie goes their separate ways for the night, if only to underscore the importance of their guest's satisfaction during her stay.

Wits + Empathy (Motives) to figure out why Baron Jessica is allowing these slights. Two successes.

Grave steps forward, "Baron Jessica, I volunteer to observe the Seaside Hotel."

mistaya
Oct 18, 2006

Cat of Wealth and Taste




Soooo... I can either spend my monthly night of service in a creepy old hotel that the Warlock thinks is some kind of door to purgatory and hope to Vampire Jesus that nothing terrible happens... or I can spend the night entertaining and playing bodyguard for a veiled tigress who can potentially help me out with my pesky invisible neighbor. This one's easy even for me.

"If Matriarch Eustacia requires a guide and escort, well, I'm more than happy to oblige... For you, Baron Jessica." I give a half bow, and meet Jessica's eyes to let her know that all this fawning is for her benefit.

(Wits+Empathy, gauging the relationship between Jessica and Eustacia: 1 success)

See, I knew Jessica wouldn't be putting up with Eustacia's disrespect unless she needed her for something, and it worried me that Eustacia's first act here was to sit in her chair as if she owned the place. Eustacia was going to keep testing her limits, which could get ugly for me if I stayed close to her. But if I did my job well, she'd feel grateful to Jessica, maybe even enough to be less of a pain in her side. Of course, that meant I'd have to stay on my toes all night or get eaten. I gave the room a sweep, wondering who I could count on to help me out tomorrow night. I didn't fancy my chances solo much at all.

mistaya fucked around with this message at Apr 1, 2019 around 01:09

Shogeton
Apr 26, 2007

"Little by little the old world crumbled, and not once did the king imagine that some of the pieces might fall on him"



He takes a time to calm down, mostly being quiet and making sure his composure remains perfect in these tense circumstances. He gives Mary a smile, trying to encourage her. Sure, she lives in Fransisco's territory, and owes him services. He does not think he would try to stop her from listening to me, or even force her to feed from humans. After all, if his convictions are right, would he need to use his position of power to get her to his point of view? A battle lost, but not the war, good deacon, not by a long shot.

Ollivia's story has of course has the doctor's full attention, but when the suggestion that there is someone who had deliberately spread cholera, and might do it again, his eyes sharpen, and there is an anger there that is, for once, not born out of his vampiric condition. His is silent, does not interrupt and listens carefully, but when Olivia looks at him he gives her a nod. Oh, she'd have all the help he could bring with this particular problem. She could count on that.

Then there was the explanation of the hotel, and interestingly, the Matron's calculated slight, and Baron Jessica's acceptance of it. Especially considering this was an interruption in public.

(2 successes on an int + politics roll to see why Baron Jessica would let this slide. )

She is an Elder of course, but she is an Elder in a rather precarious situation. Having her support might strengthen her claim, but could very well drive several other Elders to oppose it. If all the matriarch had was her age and reputation, she should be quite insecure about this, and the Baron would not stand for this. Which means she has something more than simply 'being an influential Elder' and the doctor was very curious what that might be. Possibly related to her talents. Marie Curie or Dr. Frankenstein hm? He should discuss it with Fransisco. If only to show that there was no ill will

On the other hand, he was quite curious about that hotel, and what might be there. he was, after all, a scientist, and there was data to gather. The scientist in him couldn't really let this one pass. He stepped forward. "I volunteer to accompany Miss Lahr at the Hotel."

Shogeton fucked around with this message at Apr 1, 2019 around 09:15

Barbed Tongues
Mar 16, 2012




Of the two, Zedd would be choosing the hotel. While he wasn't in danger of donning the blue, he had the Descent's same fascination with the mysteries of Dead Amsterdam. He'd been itching to explore something deeper in that world, understand it with an artist's eye. See if it was possible to capture for film.

Baron Moore posted:

...spend the entirety of tomorrow night on the grounds of the Seaside Hotel. Record your experiences...

And that sure as hell sounded like permission to bring some cameras.

He scanned back over his coterie. If Lenny wanted his help tomorrow, that would be his priority - but if he was going to take the service opportunity, or if he was going to do the solo scout thing, then Zedd was going to the hotel. Hotel on Tuesday. Show on Thursday. There was some wiggle room.

His gaze wandered to Eustacia, Jeremy and Leticia, trying to read their intentions. Looks like they're playing nice. If the two neonates had gone the other direction, worked themselves into one of their competitions, he'd be tempted to jump in and run interference for Jer'. But they were taking the job seriously, for the moment.

It was up to Lenny, then. Zedd started looking for the Gangrel. But his gaze slipped back to the Sangiovanni. He took a brief moment to hope that whatever had the Matriarch looking for Sanctuary, that Mother Thorn didn't have her fingers in it.

She might have word. His steps slowed down and angled slightly, moving him toward Eustacia's sub-court. Somewhat. He was closing the distance with Lenny still, just entertaining a new thought. It might be rude not to at least introduce himself. A little conversation might not...

He stopped, cutting it off. Shaking his head, he found Lenny again. "Anything I can do for you tomorrow? If not, gonna hit the Seaside."

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.




And there was the wrinkle. Spending a whole night in a haunted hotel wouldn't ordinarily be much of a problem, but the timing of it was...awkward, to say the least. And the Beast, so content with the prospect of a proper hunt for the first time in a while, immediately rages against the bars of its cage once again killthewormforgetthechore and for once he's inclined to agree. But cooler heads prevail, and even his Beast is not stupid enough to go against Jessica. Not yet. Some prep would have to happen in the last few hours of the night, then, so he could start on Wednesday, at least. Maybe he could look at a map...? Although he had no clue where to find a map that would show prospective locations for a Nosferatu hideout. One of the dog-fighting rings seems likely - maybe with a back room?

Zedd interrupts his train of thoughts. Lenny gives an apologetic smile. "Appreciated, but no. I'm coming with you guys. Somebody's gotta keep your sorry hides in one piece when the ghosts show up." Then, turning to Jessica, he adds in a proper volume: "I'll accompany those going to the Hotel, Baron." Betty could probably survive one more night. He hoped. His attendance thus registered, however, he leans back in to Zedd. "But if you have any idea where Coyle could keep his lair, I'm open to suggestions."

Barbed Tongues
Mar 16, 2012




With Lenny making the choice Zedd wanted to in the first place, his mood brightens. A bit of enthusiasm slips into his own announcement to the Baron of his intention to assist at the Seaside. "Thank you for the opportunity, Baron Moore." He continues to be polite and formal over it all, but it's clear this isn't just a chore. He was looking forward to it.

Wahad posted:

"But if you have any idea where Coyle could keep his lair, I'm open to suggestions."
Back to being conversational with Lenny, he offers an easy smile. "We Haunts tend to be eclectic. You nailed it earlier, we need intel. If Coyle's a trapdoor hunter, lurking in one of the sepulchers under the streets? We're not gonna cross his path easily. If Coyle likes to play topsider, though, it gets easier. I'll start digging through the cacophony, see if Coyle has a reputation. Even just understanding what role he's acting in. Just a hired tough for Thatch? Or does he actually have plans to run things? Probably easier to counter someone invested in Gowanus, rather than a poo poo-stirrer." He pauses, but offers an alternative. "I could also talk to Slade, see if she has any insight. She'll want a trade, though. Info for info." He glances meaningfully toward Eustacia as he considers gossip his Harpy contact might accept. "Something juicy, but we'd need to be smart - something Baron Moore wouldn't mind getting out there."

Klingon w Bowl Cut
Apr 1, 2009

Q'pla!


During lulls in her own conversation with Eustacia and Jeremy, Leticia watches with barely concealed excitement at the verbal duel between Francisco and the Doctor. She is invested in the outcome, sure, but her Beast also thrills at the display of competing power. Low stakes, perhaps, but only one can dominate in the end. She occasionally whispers joking, sports-announcer-like commentary to them. 'Oof, he's really working the body!' and the like.

When the bout is over, she turns her full attention to Jessica. Her heart aches a little, being so distant from Jessica, but she knows that the Baron wouldn't want to be distracted during her performance tonight, especially not with the insults being hurled her way. Still, Leticia's burgeoning pride demands that she at least wink, and she obliges. And she listens too, of course.

The talk of ghosts and hauntings, disturbing as it is, immediately reminds Leticia of her conversation with the cambion Peg earlier. She'll call Peg once the meeting is adjourned, she notes in her head. Would just telling her the location of the entrance to Dead Amsterdam be enough to fulfill the deal? If not, Leticia can always ask the coterie if Peg can tag along. Yes, perfect. That will be an easy favor gained.

But she knows what she has to do tomorrow night. Eustacia is terrifying and annoying, but gently caress going anywhere near ghosts.

"I volunteer to entertain our guest, if she'll have me," Leticia says with a sly grin.


I made the Int+Politics check too, but only got 1 success.

ilootthecorpse
Oct 13, 2010




The Deacon's Beast was glutted on victory. He drank deeply from the chalice that it offered, and inside there was certainty. His purpose was a Divine one and this was only the first step towards something much greater. He could only imagine what. Francisco stepped down from the dais with a languid, rolling swagger. He collapsed back into his seat with a wide smile--his Beast would not allow any humility tonight--and gave Mary a weighty look. You're part of this now too. This is provenance.

Francisco spared Doctor Chadwick a glace too. There were no hard feelings, certainly not on the deacon's part, and he new that Samuel would be even more prepared next time. There would certainly be a next time.

But not now. Olivia was on the stage with an important matter. An epidemic: his secret forte. She knew about his blood, how he could see the sickness inside of people, but nobody else did. They would assume she wanted him because he had command over rats and other vermin, vectors for the plague, but when he could point out who was sick and who was not, just at a glance, then what would they assume? Another look at the doctor, and then at Grace. They had a mind for puzzles and were curious by profession. He would need to be careful.

Another night. Right now there was a choice to make between hunting ghosts and entertaining the Matriarch. An easy decision. "I'll go with Eustacia too, Baron Jessica." He spoke with certainty, his Beast still oozing confidence. He had no stake in ghosts. The vision of the rotten feast still lingered behind his eyes though, and the opportunity to ingratiate himself to a powerful Théban practitioner was too much to pass on. He flashed a predatory grin at Jeremy and Leticia. "I think we'll all have some fun."

Thesaurasaurus
Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"




Olivia regards the verbal spat with a mixture of boredom and exasperation. Briefly, she catches Mary's gaze, and a look of pained sympathy flashes across her face. Between the priest and the doctor, the parishioner, the patient, has somehow vanished. The occult obfuscation of the vampire apparently has nothing on a second X chromosome.

When the posturing is over, Olivia bounds up to the trio before they can yet entirely separate, a wide and obnoxious grin across her face in her best you-can't-ignore-me expression. "Gentlemen! Now that we've all decided who gets to play house with whom, let's talk assignments. Father, you hear things. Now, obviously I'd never ask you to betray someone's confidence, but a lot of people in Red Hook will take their problems to a priest before they see a doctor. If anything starts to spread, you'll probably be the first to know." Of course, her exact meaning is buried under a few layers of subtext, but not betraying confidences is like that. Thank small-town shittiness for teaching her the basics of doublespeak.

"Doctor Chadwick." Full title. Salve for his bruised ego. "I also plan to go to the Seaside Hotel. I'm hoping to collate enough data to come up with a detailed timeline of the original outbreak, but I think that I'll need your help." Qualifying statements. A performative show of weakness. Some red loving meat, right here. "Do you think that you could convince some ghosts to share their medical histories? It'd be sort of like an...autopsy-by-interview."

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Shogeton
Apr 26, 2007

"Little by little the old world crumbled, and not once did the king imagine that some of the pieces might fall on him"



He smiles at her, nodding. "Naturally, Miss Voss. You'll have my full assistance for this. Well done on gathering the information that you've presented. Together we should be able to get to the bottom of this. I'll try to perform some tests on some water sources as well. Cholera usually is spread by tainted drinking water after all."

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