Campaign of the Month: October 2017

Blood & Bourbon

======================================== NAVIGATION: CAMPAIGN SIDE ========================================
======================================== NAVIGATION: DASHBOARD SIDE ========================================

Caroline V, Chapter IX

Emmett's Last Use

“Sucks to be you. Though still not as much as me.”
Emmett Delacroix

Wednesday evening, 14 October 2015, PM

Caroline: There’s so much to do, seemingly every night, and only the addition of further servants to Caroline’s retinue makes it manageable. In particular, Ms. Widney aggressively plans out Caroline’s evenings, filling in meetings and keeping them firmly to task within their lanes. She cuts out extraneous distractions. It makes time for things otherwise impossible to manage. Things like…

Framing Em, to have the one time small time crook brought back to the city for testimony, and thus far earlier access for Caroline, is not terribly difficult in principle, especially with the forensic samples Turner and Autumn acquired when dropping off the corpse of Eight-Nine-Six’s ghoul. Clothing, hair from a brush. It’s the basis of a narrative, when combined with a few rumors spread by Diego’s criminal contacts—another welcome addition—and Caroline’s own powers of manipulation. Em, not the criminal mastermind, not the vicious killer, but Em, with his fingers in so many pies, with connections to so many killers.

And many of those killers are still active, and the killing has not stopped. It’s a delicate thing, putting that narrative in place, tying him to them carefully enough that the police are interested. Tying him to recent atrocities and violence tightly enough for the police to tug on the thread, and pull him back within Caroline’s reach. But then, Caroline’s touch is increasingly delicate. Emmett, the concierge of crime. She doesn’t quite smile at the thought. With the police already so hot about him and his family, it’s not as hard a sell as it might have otherwise been.

She keeps Savoy in the loop—as she said she would—but very intentionally does not go to him for guidance. She plans, executes, and informs—taking on changes he requests but not seeking them. After all she has asked already, and the assistance he’s giving her elsewhere, she’s determined to let this project stand on its own—at least in these early stages.

The Ventrue tries not to tell herself that she’s trying to prove something to the charismatic Toreador, but she’s far to intelligent to run from the fact that trying to impress him, or at least not disappoint him, isn’t far from her mind.

GM: Emmett’s second framing proceeds along.

Caroline had the “luck” to be present at the Central City shooting with Eight-Nine-Six. Beyond that, it swiftly becomes apparent that the privileged heiress knows little about what crime is like in New Orleans’ poorer neighborhoods. Her starting point is the public crime statistics she can pull up on a Sunpad from her room in Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel. Perhaps to her surprise, the infamous Ninth Ward does not rank among the top three. The neighborhood with the highest crime rate is Little Woods, located all the way off in New Orleans East—practically in the bayous. The second-highest is Central City, closer to Em’s usual stomping grounds. The third-highest is the French Quarter, and was where he lived.

Antoine Savoy gratefully receives Caroline’s updates on her progress and supplies her with the occasional piece of information, but otherwise does not indicate any desire to micromanage. He talks with her about semi-related topics just as often. He confirms that yes, crime rates in the Vieux Carré are higher than in the Ninth Ward, but those statistics are skewed—there are streets where crime is much worse than others, and then of course there are the types of crimes and times they are committed. Rampart Street is more likely to see spillover from gang activity in Tremé or the Seventh and Eighth Wards, while sexual assaults and other less obvious crimes are higher on Bourbon Street.

“The tourists think they’re safe,” the Toreador elder smiles, “and so long as they do, that’s enough for NOPD.”

It wouldn’t surprise him, he continues, if the French Quarter has one the highest rates of unreported crimes. There are more Kindred in his parish than any other in the city, and they are more likely to clean up their messes than mortal criminals. The Eighth District cops, too, are particularly likely to fudge details on reports, or simply neglect to file them altogether. The French Quarter offers so many diversions and temptations to those who wear the crescent badge. There is a reason the Eighth District is the most desirable posting in the city.

“Crime is more art than science,” Savoy chuckles. “And crime is good! At least for us. The more of it there is among the kine, the less our own crimes stand out. There’s more than one reason well-to-do suburbs like Metairie don’t have many Kindred residents. But what I’m getting at, Miss Malveaux, is that NOPD’s corruption in such an already… diversion-filled part of town should play to your favor.”

Caroline, meanwhile, looks around for a prospective ghoul who has a better knowledge of the city’s mean streets than she does. She’s initially not sure where to start, and neither are Autumn or Widney: none of the women actually know any criminals.

It’s half out of whim that she turns to her sometime-housekeeper, Carla Rivera, figuring the illegal immigrant might know other people who live outside the bounds of the law. She is pleasantly surprised to learn that Carla’s brother Diego actually runs with a Latin gang called the Cottonmouths—even if she has to rape the single mother’s mind to find that out (Carla naturally being reticent to disclose such information to an employer). Carla is dubious that her brother would want anything to do with Caroline until the Ventrue once again ‘persuades’ her to set up a meeting anyway.

Diego Carlos Rivera is 20-something man with a shaved head and dead expression. He wears a wifebeater with dark stains that shows off his bulging biceps, ripped chest, and full-sleeve tattoos of a skull-faced woman with chains for her hair. A gold cross glints from around his neck. The knuckles gripping his firearm are thick and scarred.

He calls his sister’s sometime-employer a chifaldo and does not hit off with her until the Ventrue lets her supernal mien wash over him. Diego reacts with horror when Caroline reveals what she is, and mouths a prayer while drawing a cross in the air to drive off the vampiro. He does not want her blood and fears what it will do to his soul. Caroline has to forcefully mesmerize him into drinking it. He accepts the second and third drinks willingly, and is soon awash with the possibilities of what his new powers and Caroline’s patronage can do for his gang. They’ll crush the last of Terrytown’s black gangs that weren’t flushed out by Katrina. “We’ll run every corner south of the Mississippi!” he exclaims. Then he explains to Caroline what a corner is. It’s a spot where his people can sell drugs. Gangs fight over them.

Indeed, it does not escape Caroline that she has relied nigh-exclusively upon her supernatural powers to establish this foothold in New Orleans’ underworld. Diego will have far more autonomy over his gang’s operations than her other ghouls will have over their own areas of responsibility. Or as Autumn warily puts it, “In a tight pinch, you could do my job or Widney’s job… but I don’t think any of us could do his job. I mean, I don’t know the first thing about running a gang.” Outside matters of criminal law and Kindred politics, Caroline will be the one listening to Diego.

Nevertheless, now that the gangster is brought in, Caroline tells him and Autumn to handle the matter of Em’s framing. Antoine Savoy offers his own advice on related matters.

“Be careful in the Outlands, Miss Malveaux. They’re where things from the Dark start to bleed in, so not many Kindred choose to travel there. Be prepared to fight for whatever you claim.”

Caroline: “We’ll see if it’s worth fighting for first, Lord Savoy.”

GM: “Make sure you mind our prince’s laws if you decide to stay,” Savoy smiles in a chiding tone. “The sheriff and hounds still make semi-regular patrols through the area.”

Caroline: “Of course, Lord Savoy. I am, as are we all, the prince’s sworn servant after all. I wouldn’t dream of dishonoring my oath to him.”

GM: The Toreador grins and strokes his ten o’clock shadow, as if in contemplation of what further sage advice to dispense. “Silver bullets aren’t a poor thing to have on hand either. Loup-Garoux are all but unkillable otherwise.”

Caroline: Caroline smiles when he brings up silver bullets. “What else would you keep in your gun, Lord Savoy? Lead? Like a peasant?”

GM: Savoy just laughs. “A born Ventrue if I’ve ever seen one!”

Tuesday evening, 20 October 2015, PM

GM: Around a week later, Autumn reports back to Caroline that she and Diego took care of Emmett’s second framing with only a few hiccups. Louisiana’s cops are a different flavor of corrupt in Terrytown than they are in the French Quarter. Some timely applications of mesmerism smoothed over her and Diego’s occasional stumble, and they lined the cops’ pockets with bribes so that everything still adds up in their heads.

“It’s insane, just insane, how lazy these guys are. You should have seen the looks on their faces when they realized the guy they needed to catch was already locked up.”

Emmett has been linked to a drug bust in the French Quarter, and should thus be held in Orleans Parish Prison, where Cécilia’s stalker Mouse was also sent—and Amelie Savard is due to be sent, if she wakes up from her coma in time. (Caroline hasn’t heard any news on that front.) All that remains is to gain access.

Caroline: Even as the framing is in progress (perhaps as a sign of her confidence in Autumn’s ability to pull it off) Caroline sets a meeting with Coco to discuss gaining access to the prison—or at least not stepping on any toes as she arranges it. She tells herself that her pull towards Coco is purely practical, but can’t resist the tingle in the back of her head as she arranges the meeting.

GM: Jennifer Haley tells Caroline to come by Blaze in several nights. The shithole bar is as loud and raucous as ever, and the Mardis Gras beads spelling ‘FUCK YOU’ are missing several beads at the top of the ‘o.’ Coco sits at a table in the back, nursing a rose cocktail. She wears a black tank top under a leather jacket that’s less scuffed than the other patrons’. Her once-red hair is now pale blue.

Caroline: Caroline smirks as she considers how much easier it is for Kindred to manage that kind of rapid and frequent shift in hair color. No worries about damage to hair from frequent dye jobs. After introductions she takes a seat opposite the Brujah primogen with her own drink.

“Do you shave it then re-dye it in the morning?” she asks, answers.

GM: “The late evening, usually,” Coco replies.

Caroline could picture another Kindred smirking. But the elder Brujah’s eyes don’t seem to fully take in the Ventrue. Her lips remain still.

Caroline: Caroline fights to keep the frown off her face as she continues, “I was hoping to arrange a visit with someone in your domain. Well, nominally.”

GM: Coco absently motions for her to go on.

Caroline: “He’s currently staying at the parish prison.” The Ventrue opens her folded hands on the table.

GM: “I’m sure he’ll appreciate the visit. It’s not a fun place to spend one’s time.”

Caroline: Caroline smirks. “Well, I do try to spread joy wherever I go.”

GM: “You have my leave to spread some to the local jail. But given the rightness of your purpose, maybe you shouldn’t have to ask me.” Coco takes a sip of the reddish-pink drink. “Que chacun se met à sa place.”

(“_Let every man put himself where he pleases.”_)

Caroline recognizes the quote. It’s what Louis XVI supposedly told his domestic servants after participants in the Women’s March on Versailles all but forcibly relocated his family to Tuileries Palace in Paris.

Caroline: “Est-ce qu’il a réellement dit cela?” Caroline asks with a smirk.

(“Did he actually say that?”)

GM: “What made Napoleon a strategic genius was his ability to organize,” Coco remarks, her eyes still only half there. “He determined that what would make an army unbeatable was its mobility and capacity to adapt faster than the enemy to changing circumstances. He broke his forces into small divisions and gave his field marshals freedom to make decisions in the moment without having to consult him. This led to chaos, but he enjoyed the room for creativity it allowed. He encouraged soldiers on all levels to show initiative, and gave them the chance to rise from the bottom to the top, just as he had done. This Grande Armée did not merely fight in the Revolution’s name, but implemented its ideals on a strategic level.”

Caroline: “C’est donc avec vous?” Caroline asks.

(“So it is with you?”)

GM: “It worked masterfully. Napoleon won battle after battle,” Coco simply continues in English. “He would not march to proscribed places to meet the enemy in open battle, but threw his divisions into scattered patterns. Depending on how the enemy reacted, he would close in from several directions. His revolution in warfare was strategic, not technological. He had a better idea and exploited it to the maximum.”

“Napoleon’s model for success did not die with him. It’s applicable to any group operating in a transitional period in history—where speed and mobility triumph over ponderous older methods. It means paying supreme attention to how one’s group is organized and creating a structure that fits the times.”

“We’ve seen it even among modern tech companies. Macroware operated with layers of bureaucracy, gigantic staffs of engineers, and intensive testing of all products prior to their release, which was handled by large-scale sales and marketing teams. Their machine was slow and lumbering, and rolling out new products took years. Hooli, in contrast, had a small engineering staff, no marketing or sales team, and self-managed employees who were encouraged to release early and often, and to independently research new ideas. They undercut Macroware’s monopoly just like Napoleon smashed coalition after coalition of rival nations’ outmoded armies.”

“Hooli’s company culture promoted the idea they were the spearhead of a revolution: the company that would give the entire world free access to information. Macroware’s employees simply collected paychecks. Again and again, during times of great transition, small bands of men and women with great ideas march forward to change the world. And they do. Then they stop changing, and the world passes them by.”

“The Grande Armée’s rapid forced marches and proclivity for living off the land served it well in the geographically small, densely populated, and agriculturally rich central Europe. Old order Austrian and Prussian armies were left dazed and confused. But Russia was geographically vast, thinly populated, agriculturally sparse, and had a poor network of roads. Troops grew sick drinking mud puddles and eating rotten food and forage. They hadn’t even intended to take Moscow, initially, but Napoleon wanted the costly campaign to be worth it. He was not prepared for the Russians to simply let him have the city. They knew the harsh winter would drive him out within the year. And it did. Napoleon had stopped thinking in terms of tactical realities and instead let his ego drive his actions, refusing to adapt his tactics to changing circumstances. He become as lumbering and obsolete as the very armies he had once smashed. The changing world passed him by.”

“Already we see indications of that obsolescent thinking in today’s tech companies and social revolutionaries. I wonder what their Russia will be.”

Caroline: Caroline listens to the elder’s lecture.

“Has the Brujah primogen found herself out in the cold?” she finally asks. “I find that hard to believe.”

GM: Coco gives the nauseous-smelling concoction in her glass another swish. “People I knew believed in Napoleon with all their hearts, and died for him in Russia. For his mistakes.”

Caroline: Caroline’s eyes glitter. “Ah, this is a cautionary tale then.”

GM: “I don’t know why I had a ghoul rouse me to catch a glimpse of his funeral procession. The sun’s rays burned no less painfully, for all the day’s cold. The people had turned him into a god, but he was never anything but a man.”

Coco’s gaze lingers on her glass. “Go visit your friend, Caroline.”

Caroline: The Ventrue’s gaze lingers on the Brujah elder. “Just like that?”

GM: “Just like that.”

Caroline: Wisdom and experience bid Caroline to take it and go, but something else pulls on her.

“Are you quite all right, Coco?”

GM: Coco looks several years younger than Caroline does, now that the Ventrue considers it. Her facial features have less definition; less firmly set aspects, fewer character lines that would have eventually become wrinkles. It’s an almost incongruent detail. She isn’t a marble statue like Matheson, or timeless like Maldonato, whose medieval garb in his Moorish palace seemed like the dominant reality rather than a discordant anachronism. The Brujah’s facial expressions, body language, and other subtle ways of comporting herself simply seem more like Claire’s than a 20-something’s. But they are more languid, more reserved, than even Caroline’s mother. They have more in common with those elderly Okinawans who continue to run, swim, and sweat alongside their great-grandchildren. It’s only when Caroline really looks at Coco that it becomes apparent the elder Brujah could pass for one of the giggling coeds she feeds upon. Could have been one of those giggling coeds, if she were born in another time and place.

“I’m just fine, Caroline,” she answers. “Nowhere that I haven’t been before.”

The echo of a smile brushes over her lips. “That’s the great comedy of it all. I’ll be just fine.”

Caroline: Eternal youth. What a lie. Caroline can see the years weighing down on Coco, centuries of life, and loss, and suffering. Of decisions made and prices paid. How many years has Caroline aged in the last couple of months? How much do those choices weigh upon her? And she came from everything, a mortal life lived in comparable splendor and comfort.

How old does Coco feel? How tired of fighting?

And how capable is she? In months Caroline has found within herself a lethality, cold-bloodlessness, and brutality she’d never known. How much more dangerous is a Kindred that has lived through centuries. The thought sends a shiver through Caroline.

Why then does she press on? Is it the blood bond? The subtle but impossible to ignore pull toward Coco? That twisted pull of affection that she knows, if she were to drink again, would pull her further and further towards infatuation? Or is it her own weariness, and her own loneliness. Her own frustration. Even as she’s filled her life with ghouls, with plots, with plans, Caroline feels more alone now than she ever has in her life. Distant from her ‘family’ with the great plunge coming. Family that has meant so much, that has dominated her life. Distant in faith, which she clung too, and still does, in its own distorted, perverted form. She is so alone.

Idiot. From the French, idiota meaning ‘an ignorant person’ and in turn from the Greek ‘idiōtēs’ meaning a private person. Aristotle called humans social creatures, insisted that it was in the nature of man to crave connections to others, and that those that were isolated from their own kind, the hermits, the outcast, were less than human. She certainly feels that way, and knows it can’t continue. She has plans within plans. Plots within plots for the future, but in this seeing moment of opportunity, she can’t resist. Can’t help herself.

“I’m certain that you’ll survive, and once more emerge from it stronger than before,” she begins. “But fine is another matter altogether.” Caroline shuffles. “I don’t think I’m on your Christmas card list right now, but I don’t know that I have to be to see that something is clearly bothering you, eating at you. Everything I’ve seen suggests you deserve better.”

Caroline digs out a card and sets it on the table. It’s simple, plain, heavy weight paper with ten numbers and two dashes.

“This is direct, not to my ghoul like the number I called Ms. Haley on. If there’s something I can do, please call.”

GM: Coco’s eyes drift towards the professional-looking phone card. “That’s thoughtful of you to offer.”

“I’ve not known many people, or Kindred, who got what they deserve. But it’s touching you think I should be one of them.” The Brujah finishes the last of her pinkish cocktail, leaving only the cherry at the glass’ bottom. “You should visit your friend, Caroline.”

Caroline: Caroline nods. “Good advice.” She finishes her own drink—more to prove a point than anything, and rises.

“The offer remains open, in any case, Primogen Duquette. A pleasure, as always.” She leaves the card on the table.

Thursday evening, 22 October 2015, PM

Caroline: The Ventrue digs through her own contacts—and takes advantage of the prison’s proximity to the CBD—to build her plan for reaching Emmett in the prison and getting out. She targets deliveries to the prison in the evening for entry and egress, working to get official (or at least official looking) credentials for the name she’ll be using to gain entry and egress.

At the same time she digs around the prison’s staff, particularly ‘corrections officers’ (a nice euphemism for often sadistic and poorly educated ‘not police’ that administer the prison) picking out targets that she can plant buried commands in to deliver Emmett to a meeting with her during her ‘brief’ visit. It’s not so easy as it seems, but she’s able to draw heavily on Diego’s knowledge (and more, that of his associates) of the prison and how it functions to identify the proper positions that need either bribes or controls to make her plan work. Emmett’s status as a death row inmate makes it more difficult, but Caroline has resources available that no normal mortal might, and with the ability to literally plant commands in people’s minds to execute… the impossible becomes possible. Even if she is forced to shy away from the handful of sheriffs that she has to work around, rather than through.

It’s a massive undertaking nonetheless, one that she can think of few circumstances it would be worthwhile in… but an opportunity to have the tale of her night in the Dungeon… to get some of the truth of her Embrace… it’s worthwhile. Worth something.

GM: Diego laughs at Caroline when she asks about Orleans Parish Prison and chides the pampered white girl for her ignorance. He knows more about OPP than she does, yes (he’s known people who did time there), but Terrytown is part of Jefferson Parish. When he and his people saw the inside of a parish jail, it was in Gretna’s Jefferson Parish Prison. The Mississippi might as well be a wall as far as Terrytown’s criminals are concerned. What, does she imagine they take drug-filled cars on daily ferry commutes to New Orleans?

“Make us sitting ducks for 5-0,” he chides again, but he seems more amused by Caroline than anything else. “You just leave this business to me, amiga. It’s not your territory.” The ghoul’s tone is considerably less deferential than Caroline’s other servants.

Caroline: Caroline ignores it for the moment, but only just. Time will tell how useful a servant—or not—he will be to her.

GM: The easiest way to gain access to an inmate in Orleans Parish Prison, Caroline soon discovers, is to simply visit them through legal channels. Regular inmates are allowed up to three visitors with active status on their visitation lists, with visiting hours of 8 AM to 5 PM and 8 PM to 10 PM on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Any Kindred could visit Em without recourse to Caine’s gifts.

True to the Ventrue’s prediction, things are less straightforward in Em’s case. As a death roow inmate, he is only authorized to receive a single visitor on Sundays between the hours of 9 AM and 3 PM. One of Caroline’s ghouls could get to Em legally, but the grifter remains inaccessible to Caroline if she is not willing to brave Sol’s burning eye—at least, through public channels.

Some casual research by the almost-lawyer turns up that Orleans Parish Prison has something known as professional visiting rooms. These are available for use by the professional community, who include attorneys, bondsmen, law enforcement officials, licensed private investigators, approved counselors, approved clergy, approved medical professionals, approved media representatives, and approved paralegals. An inmate may receive any number of professional visits, and can even receive them outside of normal visiting hours. The warden retains discretionary authority to restrict, deny, or suspend a professional visitor’s privileges.

The legal ground is once again somewhat blurrier in Emmett’s case, but death row inmates are permitted lawyers like anyone else. Even if a prisoner is beyond all possibility or parole or judicial appeal, they still have one last option—a plea to the governor, who may exercise their power of pardon if they are sufficiently moved. Caroline remembers studying the topic only last semester under Tulane’s Professor Isaiah Wellington. The gray-haired, craggy-faced old man had described it as, “The last vestige of the divine right of kings,” because,

“The power of pardon was one of the attributes of divine right. The king could only exercise it because, as the representative of God on earth, he was above the ordinary human justice. In passing from the king to the presidents of republics, this right lost its essential character and therefore its legality. It thenceforth become a flimsy prerogative, a judicial power outside justice and yet no longer above it; it created an arbitrary jurisdiction, foreign to our conception of the lawgiver. In practice it is good, since by its action the wretched are saved. By nature, however, it is ridiculous. One has but to imagine Earl Long or Jim Jameson invested with the attributes of divinity to come to this conclusion.”

Whatever opinion Caroline’s former professor may hold on pardons, however, Em still has valid pretext over which to see a lawyer. Most death row inmates are not eloquent writers and rely on attorneys to draft their written pleas to the governor. Caroline could be that lawyer. While the names of attorneys who visit Orleans Parish Prison must appear in the current edition of the “State’s Bar Association” manual/website, and Caroline’s currently does not, paralegals are also allowed to visit inmates in a professional capacity if they have an attorney’s authorized letter designating them as that attorney’s representative.

Caroline: Caroline briefly—very briefly—toys with the headache required to get her name on the list as a licensed attorney. She ultimately settles for the easier option, roping in Denise Bowden as a potential representative for Emmett and herself, or at least an identity that shares her face (she cannot, after all, be linked to Emmett), as a paralegal for the licensed attorney in an early evening meeting.

The extra hours in the night as they race towards winter works to her advantage, even as it drives home how bitterly short the nights will be in the summer. She idly considers the idea of a summer home, some day, to rotate between the seasons. Somewhere on the far side of the world. The idea of jetting to some foreign palace for to escape the long days in the summer, the reverse of so many tourists, is a pleasant thought. It’s only a thought though.

GM: After confirming plans by phone, Denise meets with Caroline several nights later at the Caribbean Room, the fancy dining room of the small but elegant Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District. It is a near silent, eerie world of candlelight, white tablecloths, and waiters who look like ghosts, or even vampires in old horror movies, with their black jackets and stiff white shirts.

Denise starts off with an appetizer of crispy, still-steaming oysters that include spicy red jalapeno and bleu cheese deliciously melted over crispy greasy bacon. “I’ll make up for this with a salad entree,” Denise jokes. She orders a tomato salad, along with the mile high ice cream pie for dessert. Jet black cookie crust, meringue, marshmallow topping, chocolate syrup, and ice cream the restaurant makes from scratch over a three-day process. Denise insists on splitting the ‘pie’ with Caroline, so that “I don’t feel too guilty.”

However unlikely, a far-off summer home is something Caroline could still enjoy.

Caroline: The smell is nauseous, but Caroline has grown quite skilled at picking her seats where fans or vents blow from behind her, carrying the worst of it away from her. It makes the experience only slightly worse than sitting next to a dumpster on a hot summer day.

GM: Caroline tries to remember how a meal like that would taste. It’s harder to than it was even a month ago.

Caroline: It both helps and hurts that their server is a clean cut, good looking, and oh so delicious smelling twenty-something no doubt plugging away at a degree somewhere during the day, even if he is, like so many in the city, off limits.

The entire experience, from the food, to the candles, to the waiter works to test her ability to control the Beast’s influence, and her own ability to present herself in public: she has little doubt that far more trying evenings await than an uncomfortable meal with Denise.

“I was also thinking of a light meal tonight.” The not-quite glitter of the Kindred’s eyes in the firelight, amid flickering shadows, has a predatory gleam.

GM: Caroline catches Denise’s gaze lingering on the man too. The Kindred are not the only ones to hunger for more than food.

“Better for your health,” her old boss remarks after the man walks with their orders. Reluctantly turning her gaze back to Caroline, she continues, “Anyways, I had the stupidest client to deal with today.”

Caroline: “Oh, do share?” Caroline holds her revolting cocktail as she smiles over the smell.

GM: “So, I’m talking to a woman who wants to send us a contract she wants our client to sign,” Denise says as she forks out a cheese-melted oyster from its shell. “As you know, the name of the firm is the last names of the partners. And with five partners it’s pretty long, so our email domain name is just HMHLP.”

“Me: ‘So you want to send it to’

Woman: ‘Can you spell that?’

Me: ‘I-n-f-o-at-H-M-H-L-P-dot com.’

Woman: ‘So that’s i-n-f-o-c-h.’

Me: ’There’s no CH.’

Woman: ‘OH! I mean i-n-f-o-and.’

Me: ’There’s no ‘and.’ Where did you get ‘and’?’

Woman: ‘OH! I can’t read my writing. So it’s i-n-f-o- that email sign thingy—H-M-H-L-P-period-c-o-m. Right?’

Me: ‘Yes.’

Woman: ‘Your e-mail address is hard to figure out.’"

Denise rolls her eyes. “I’m sure she’ll wonder why we’re recommending our client not sign the contract.”

Caroline: Caroline laughs. “If she was the one who wrote it I’d say sign away.”

GM: “Oh, if only.”

Thursday night, 22 October 2015, PM

Caroline: Rather than involve her former boss, Caroline instead turns to a patsy for her purposes.

GM: The attorney whose dingy office she finds her way to at 11 PM is clad in a threadbare suit missing one of its buttons, and is himself half-passed out over a stack of legal papers. A bottle of Jamesons sits at the desk’s edge next to a gift basket of fatback, pickled pigs’ feet, cornbread, and a small peach cobbler. The red-haired man grogs fitfully when Caroline wakes him up, then grows considerably more agitated when a small gray pit bull barks madly and tries to sink its teeth into Caroline’s leg. The Ventrue commands its bleary-eyed eyed owner to lock the all but rabid animal upstairs, then to (illegally) write and sign the requisite letter. The man sleepily hands it over. Caroline commands him to let out his dog, go back to sleep at his desk, and forget she was there. He groggily assents, ignorant of the pale nightmare who disturbed his dreams. Caroline leaves his office with a letter saying she is the designated representative of Howard Sloan.

Caroline: Or at least, that Annette Merteuil is, to go with her matching documentation.
There are some additional hoops to jump through to arrange things, most mostly documents to be routed, phone calls to make, and letters to send.

GM: In comparatively short order, Annette has arranged for “her” firm to take Emmett’s case (largely drafting the plea to the governor at this point) pro bono. Sloan apparently has a history of representing clients no one but public defenders will touch. The day of Annette’s 8 PM visit to the parish prison soon looms.

Friday evening, 23 October 2015, PM

GM: It looks more like an interrogation room than what the website led Caroline to expect: bare walls and floors, bolted-down stainless steel table, two chairs, table-bolted handcuffs on the prisoner’s side. The man attached to them looks terrible. He’s dressed in an orange jumpsuit, but no feet are visible at the bottom of the too-flat pant legs. The bottom of a wheelchair is. The guards doubtlessly loaded him into one at his cell, pushed it into the interrogation room, and then didn’t bother to move aside the table’s existing chairs. Their cuffed would-be occupant consequently has little room to move his stretched-out hands. His arms are thin. His jumpsuit fits him loosely. His hair is shaggy and unkempt. His beard is short but clearly untrimmed, and only partly hides the lines marring his face. He smells like he hasn’t washed in days. His eyes are dead and vacant. He looks like he’s aged twenty years since Caroline last saw him.

That wasn’t so long before Decadence.

“You’re writing my plea,” Emmett says hollowly.

The heiress can’t tell if he recognizes her.

“You can tell the governor that he can please suck my dick,” the crippled man continues, his voice still without inflection. “I’d think of something wittier if I cared more.”

Emmett: “Wait—” He holds up a finger. “—no, it’s gone. Still don’t care.”

GM: “I was going to get you pregnant,” Em continues, “or just fake the test so you thought you were. Then you’d get an abortion, or I’d just slip you a morning-after-pill. There were a lot of ‘or justs’, up to the part where I’d blackmail you for years.”

Someone else might shrug. Maybe laugh. Em just hollowly continues,

“Didn’t pan out. Story of my life, right? I guess that didn’t pan out either.”

Caroline: There’s a spike of anger, but also a deep relief at Em’s antics.

“You know… I actually felt bad about ruining your life. Briefly. Thanks for getting rid of that for me.”

GM: “Probably lots of people who’d say thanks for getting rid of me too,” Em answers. No reaction crosses his face at Caroline’s admission of guilt.

Caroline: A toothy smile. “It’s good to know that sometimes things work out for a reason.”

Her eyes meet his. “Now… that indulgence out of the way, let’s get to what matters.”

GM: “I talk a lot these days,” Em goes on. “Always did, I guess. There’s not a lot else you can do in death row, and I’ve always been my own best audience. Or maybe I’m just such a hit with the guards they don’t wanna stick a needle in me yet. I thought they were gonna do it when I came in, but it’s been a while. Dunno how long. We don’t get clocks or calendars in there.”

There’s no regret or annoyance in his words. Just emptiness. Conversational noise filling the air.

Caroline: She sets down her folder and takes out a tape recorder.

“Tell me everything you remember about the night you lost your legs, Em. Tell me about the Dungeon.”

GM: “Oh, that?”

Caroline: Caroline sits in the uncomfortable chair to get to eye level, her long legs stretching out for eternity. “Yes, that.”

GM: “Yeah, well, I remember jack and shit, so sucks to be you. Though still not as much as me.” The scraggly-bearded man stares vacantly ahead. “They said I had AIDS and glass up my ass when I got out. I’m pretty sure I’d remember that, unless my name was Mercurial Fernandez and it was a daily occurrence.”

Caroline: “That’s cute. But I’m afraid, Em… that’s not good enough.” Caroline’s gaze burns into his. “Remember that night. Tell me about the Dungeon, and about what you saw there. About what happened to me,” she demands, finally letting the Beast run loose.

GM: Em’s mouth falls open. Not in shock. His muscles just go slack. His mouth works and clomps several times. “You… got… wow, I don’t… want… be… you…”

Caroline: “Start talking,” Caroline growls, her voice low and throaty with the Beast’s venom.

GM: “Have I… ever done… anything else?” Em asks, but the sarcasm comes out as flat, dead, and torn-up as the rest of him. Like an animal carcass dragged through a thrasher. “Dungeon’s a… ffuucckkkk…” Em winces as if struck.

“There’s a… place for… ggghhh… fucking dungeon, stone and…”

“You… guy came… heh… you had sex with your baby…”

“I don’t even… that’s… OKAY, WHAT THE FUCK ALREADY?”

“Ha… ha… you got… raped… ha… ha…”

Caroline: Caroline’s patience is long gone. The Beast takes over, and takes over Em’s mind.

“Stop, and calmly relate everything that happened to me in the Dungeon, and all conversations you overheard related to me, she demands.

GM: The man garbles and twitches. “Ten… mouths… twelve… heads… mother… spare your faithful… mother… take us into… take us into… that… which is flesh… shall not die… that… which was n-not sh-k-l… n-gh-ev…”

Tears begin to stream down the cripple’s eyes.

Caroline: Caroline has no pity for him.

GM: “It’s… s…”

Caroline:TALK,” Caroline demands again.

GM: “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, THEN YOU WILL ENTER THEKINGDOMOFHEAVEN!” Em screams in one great big lurching rush.

“G-g… god… whe… r… you… n… o… jus… can’t be.. jus… m… ee… the jungle… all they do… is watch… watch you… me… all do is blee… blee… BLEEHEEHEEHEEEEE!”

Em shrieks and howls with laughter, his cuffs dully clunking as his arms thrash. “G… g… et it… GET It AWAY! GET IT AWA-Y!”

Caroline: Caroline moves to stifle his screaming.

GM: Her hand clamps over his mouth. She feels the moisture of his tears and the wetness of his madly thrashing tongue. “G… i… i… y…” Em’s face crumbles like muffin topping as Caroline shifts her hand. “Yyy… y… mother…”

Caroline: “Repeat what you just said,” Caroline demands. “Quietly.”

GM: “You’re one… dead… bitch,” Em pants in the same dreary monotone. “One… dead… bitch… they threw you out… with the rest of the… trash… were all… done with you… him, he thought he’d… he fucking cried over it… fuck are you here… you’re dead…”

Caroline: “What did they do to me!” Caroline demands.

GM: “No, no, you were dead, he said, he said, all ten kinds of dead, all gone, time to throw you out.”

Caroline: “Who said!”

GM: “Guy who brought you.”

Caroline: “He tortured me.”

GM: “Dead, dead, dead, dead bitch in a dumpster, dead bitch in a can! Dead bitch in a trunk… dead bitch in a car… come on, baby, take a ride with me, you’re one dead bitch and we got places to see…”

Caroline: She lays on another gift of the Beast on top of that already rampaging through his mind, pulling him in the most favorable way possible as he attempts to drag the knowledge from him fail. The presence hits him like a raw wave.

GM: Em’s tears warmly trickle through her palm. “I… wish… hadn’t killed you…”

Caroline: “Me too,” Caroline murmurs, her tone more soothing.

“It’s okay, Emmett. Let’s slow down. We were there together.”

GM: Em winces.

Caroline: “Did I tell you anything when we were there?”

GM: “No. You were dead.”

Caroline: “Before I was dead.”

GM: “How the fuck should I know?”

Caroline: “You were there. You just have to remember, Em. I need you to just slow down and remember. When you got to the Dungeon, was I dead already? Answer all of my questions as completely and truthfully as you can about what happened at the Dungeon with me, Em.

She narrows her questions down, getting away from the broad inquiries that have given him so much grief and struggle.

GM: The slack-jawed cripple awaits her next query.

Caroline: Those questions begin with the mundane. Was she there when he arrived? Was she alive when he arrived? Was she hurt. Did they speak? If so, about what? How many people arrived to hurt her? What did they do? She makes him walk her through, as carefully and step by step as she can, what he witnessed of her torture and death before getting to what happened to her body when it was done. Who declared it be taken away. Who took it away? Describe them. Like a broken pane of glass she slowly begins to piece together the shattered memory in his own damaged mind. This last tenuous piece of that night, perhaps the last anywhere, trapped in the mind of a crippled death row inmate. The most important night of her life: her last.

GM: Emmett is unable to coherently answer any questions about his point of arrival. He raves and screams through Caroline’s clamped hands about being “an animal, animal, welcome to mee-heee-HEEEE!”

But yes, oh, yes, he says, Caroline was very much alive. “The way you screamed!” he manically giggles. “Live bitch to dead bitch, presto, out of the magic ha-aaa-aaaat! Hee!”

Questions about Caroline’s tormentors and their methods draw the most unintelligible responses of all. Em cries, rants, and weeps, “Every man… god in d… follow! Oh, honest, I… FFFOOOOOOOO-mmph-mm-mhnhnhnh! Haaaaa… aaaAAH! No moooore… EYES!” With another shrill muffled cry, Em starts raking at his eyeballs with his bare nails. Caroline holds him down and commands the shivering cripple to answer her next questions.

René. It was René. Emmett doesn’t know him by name, but the description is consistent with René’s appearance on the night of Decadence. René said she was dead. He was distraught. He hadn’t intended… but no, he supposed he really did. It was time to get rid of the corpse. He told someone to get rid of it. But not here. Something more… just not here.

Em couldn’t see very well. He’s not sure if the room was just dark, if he was drugged, delirious, or some combination of the three. The figure sounded male, with a soft voice—like a whip being brushed along naked breasts. Tenderly. He said he’d get rid of Caroline’s body.

“Dead, bitch, dead! Sorry… we’re all… sorry,” Em half-sobs, half-wheezes. He gingerly lies his head on the steel table and runs fingers through his shaggy hair.

Caroline: She pulls him up gently but firmly from the table. This may be her only opportunity: she’s not going to waste it. She asks about any names he heard, anything she might have said, and anything said of her. Only when she is content that she’s pulled everything she can from his broken—and now moreso—mind does she leave him in peace.

GM: There was a Courtney. Em remembers that with relatively little prompting. He woke up somewhere with a stone floor, feeling like worse than shit. There was a raggedy-voiced woman who cried and droned, “Cash Money… always gets his money… always…” Em calmed her down and got her name. When she couldn’t tell him where they were, he told her she was useless. She started hyperventilating or screaming again. Was it something he said? She had a dead mom. “Heh. Heheheh. Thaaaas meee…!” Em whispers, running his hands through his hair.

Em relates there was a woman. Another woman. He remembers the sound of high heels clicking against stone. She didn’t talk to him. Or Courtney. She just played a game of, “Eeny meeny miny moe,” between the two victims. Em’s sanity was cracking and he interrupted with a quip. He remembers the woman’s words. “The city for her. Bad pockets for him.”

Caroline: Caroline continues to lay into his fragile mind. She’s all too aware of how much damage she’s doing. How an already horrific trauma (so great that he blacked it out) has already hurt him, and how she’s making his broken mind reopen those wounds… and if he were some innocent bystander, some poor soul caught in her web, she might reconsider.

But this is Emmett. The same scumbag who was bragging about how he’d intended to get her pregnant just minutes ago. How he planned on using that life against her, how he wanted to blackmail her and ruin her. The same man that minutes ago was laughing at the fact that she was literally raped, at the memory of her rape.

She presses on. His life is already ruined. His body is ruined. Why shouldn’t his mind be too? He brought it on himself. If there was ever a soul that needed to be culled from the herd, someone too far gone to be saved. A warning for future wayward souls… the more she thinks about it the more she’s able to justify it, intellectually and spiritually. “Talk about that night!"

She doesn’t ask; she demands. She doesn’t question; she interrogates. And she doesn’t stop until she has pried from him the most complete narrative of the evening that she can. Piece by piece. Question by question. She ignores his bleeding, ignores how deeply the knowledge cuts him. To her, he’s already less than human. A thing. To be used up and thrown away. And she’s going to get one more use out of him.

GM: Cut him the knowledge does.

Emmett’s psyche bleeds.

He screams. He cries. He convulses. He shrieks. He tries to bash his own head in against the metal table. And, finally, he talks. Caroline pries out each word like a crazed dentist methodically ripping out each of her patient’s teeth. They are wet, bloody, and leave a sobbing mess of quivering flesh with each extraction—there can be no anesthesia for this operation. But they come out.

The man. The man who took Caroline. His voice. It was…. beautiful. It was the most beautiful thing Emmett saw—heard—during that sick fever dream. He could listen to that man talk for hours and not hear a single word. The man’s voice was a gentle sponge. A soothing balm. A loving caress. For a few brief moments, it could make things better.

Or maybe it just made them worse.

“Byoo… hoo-hoo-hooOOOOOO!” Em raves.

There was—there was a g—girl. Small. Young. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen. “Maa-aaaa-yybee…. tennn… miiiilyy…un! S… was… you! Youuu! Like you! S…s…ooo… HUNGRY! F… or… mmeEeheeheehHehhEhEhE! lick me up, bit by bit, bit by bit, bit by bit! She’ll lick me up, biiiit by iiiit, and… driiiink…… my…….. SOUUULLL!!!”

Her tongue was forked.

Raymond. That was. Raymond. His name. Raymond. Raymond. Raymond. He was there. “Aallways th-th-eere! Oh, Rrraaayymm… YOU LET IT HAPPEN RAYMOND! YOU LET IT HAPPEN! YOU LET IT YOU LET IT YOU LET IT-”


Auction. There’s an auction. There’s been an auction? Was an auction? Will be an auction. Yes. An auction. A place and time, where things will be sold. That’s what an auction is. Isn’t it? Wasn’t it? No. Maybe not. Raymond. Raymond is involved in the auction. Raymond is part of the auction. “He… sells… things a…t… the auction! Behold… Ray… mond… the auc…tion…eer!”

Matheson. A name. Known to Raymond. Matheson is involved in the auction too. “Matheson Matheson Batheson Fatheson Matheson Katheson Lafeson Kafison KaNaKalalajaaaaaaaa….”

Emmett slumps forward, his head clunking against the metal table. He ceases to move or speak.

A foul stench wafts from a dark stain around his crotch.

Caroline: Caroline leaves the shattered man with a parting gift of, “I was never here,” and takes her leave from him.

Part of her, that human part, wants to feel badly for what she’s done to him… but only a little bit. A wretched man meeting his own wretched fate. Isn’t that God’s will? Isn’t that what they say her purpose is? To cull the wicked and wretched from the herd?

A beautiful voice. Matheson. Raymond. A Kindred girl with a forked tongue. And an auction.

Something to go on.

Monday night, 26 October 2015, AM

GM: Savoy and Preston receive Caroline at the Evergreen to hear how her meeting with Emmett went. The smiling Fabian brings all three Kindred a “red glass” before unobtrusively receding back into the scenery.

Caroline: Caroline shares the tale of meeting with the convicted murderer, and of just how broken his mind was by the events surrounding his own dismemberment and Caroline’s ‘murder’ at the hands of René.

“Honestly, he was barely coherent, even when dominated. But he did mention something that caught my eye. Have you heard of ‘the auction’, Lord Savoy?”

GM: Savoy strokes his half-beard. “I can’t say that I have, much as it breaks my heart to disappoint a lovely woman. Maybe we should ask what an auction might sell that a Ventrue elder would want?”

Caroline: “Never a disappointment, Lord Savoy, only a new challenge.” She runs one finger around the rim of her glass musically. “I can think of all number of things… but from that particular place?” She bites her lower lip. “That did not quite seem to be to his tastes.”

GM: “That’s the real measure of success for a place like that, Miss Malveaux. Drawing in people, or Kindred, who you couldn’t ever imagine wanting something there,” Savoy remarks. He doesn’t quite chuckle, or even smile, but there is a gleam of mirth in his eyes.

Caroline: “Of most places I should think, Lord Savoy.” The irony of his statement is not lost on her amid their own relationship. “Unless they are of a particularly undesirable sort.”

GM: “Especially if they are an undesirable sort,” Preston humorlessly replies. “Did Delacroix mention anything of note beyond this ‘auction’?”

Caroline: “Sadly little. You’ve more knowledge of the Dungeon than I, Lord Savoy, but I can only imagine the horrors that go on are such that the conscious mind cannot bear them. Even dragging out what I did took… effort. One of our kind, young, with a forked tongue. Raymond….” Caroline shakes her head. “Other names to run down, but nothing I think so immediate and easily achieved as Delacroix.”

GM: Savoy nods soberly at Caroline’s initial words. “Our powers over mortal minds aren’t foolproof. Awful enough trauma, supernatural interference, unexplainable resistance, and more can all block us out.”

The Toreador drums his fingers. “Hmm. That first description could be something to go on. Having a name is even better. Do we have anything on a Raymond, Nat?”

“Yes, sir,” the Malkavian notes, scrolling through her tablet. “A neonate who presented himself to Seneschal Maldonato approximately a year ago. He claimed amnesia and ignorance of his past and clan, but that his search had led him to New Orleans for answers. The seneschal granted him permission to reside in the city on a provisional basis—until he could verify his clan and sire. He was unable to do so in the time allocated to him. Seneschal Maldonato ordered that he leave the city.”

Caroline: Caroline frowns. “How is that possible, if clan can be determined readily, as it was for me?”

GM: “Oh, that little ritual? It’s not always reliable,” Savoy mulls.

Caroline: “In the sense that it doesn’t always give a result, or that the results can be wrong?” Caroline asks contemplatively.

GM: “Those reasons, and any of the ones that can foul up a mortal forensics test. Those can turn up false results too, can’t they, Nat?”

“They can, sir, but inaccuracies are more frequently due to human error or deliberate interference than technical issues with the testing procedures themselves,” Preston answers.

“Don’t trust anything without verifying it at least twice,” Savoy smiles.

“Yes, sir,” the Malkavian agrees.

Caroline: “A solid philosophy,” Caroline murmurs.

GM: “It’s kept me undead so far,” the elder winks. “But beyond that little truism, Miss Malveaux, it could well be none of the Anointed ever performed that ritual for our boy Raymond. They’re usually happy to use their magic in the Lance’s formal service, which administering the archdiocese’s ‘criminal justice’ affairs falls under. But with Raymond Embraced outside the city, they might well have lacked… let’s call it probable cause, to use a term perhaps more familiar to you, to pray for Longinus’ intercession upon Raymond’s behalf. Even if he were clanless, he’d broken no laws—that anyone knew of, I suppose!—and presented himself in accordance with our customs.”

Caroline: “Meaning had he asked for the ritual, and been clanless in truth, they might have been within their rights to execute him. Making asking for such a service a dangerous affair.”

GM: Savoy nods. “Even if they didn’t mean to, could be he was scared and thought they might. Letting a priest know for sure he was Caitiff wouldn’t have won him any friends either way. I’d say our boy was smart not to limit his options there.”

Caroline: “A year, and yet he’s still in the city,” Caroline murmurs. “Presumably for a reason.”

GM: “No doubt,” Savoy nods. “But wasn’t there more, Nat?”

“Yes, sir. He did leave the city, but later returned, claiming his clan as Tremere. The warlocks appeared to have little to do with him despite that claim, though that may be simply due to the clan’s insularity. Other rumors circulated that Mr. Raymond was a Ventrue or simply Caitiff. He eventually left the city again and was not seen for months.”

“Hmm. It’s a pity we couldn’t have been of help to this Raymond in uncovering his past,” Savoy muses. “It’s an easy enough way to make a new friend. Why don’t I remember his face, Nat?”

“You were not present in New Orleans at the time of his arrival in the city, sir. Other matters subsequently occupied your attention.”

“Ah yes. Well, we can’t catch them all,” the Toreador shrugs.

Caroline: “A little trip, Lord Savoy?” Caroline asks, bemused. “Anywhere interesting?”

GM: “New York, to catch up with a few friends I made after Katrina. Quite a few eyes turned to our city then.”

Caroline: “Mhmmmmm.” Caroline doesn’t quite moan. “Good shopping. The late night scene in New York must be to die for.” There’s a hint of humor in her voice.

GM: “You can imagine, Miss Malveaux!” Savoy chuckles. “I’ve always hoped my humble parish is as close to a Kindred paradise as anyone could desire, but every city has its own character.” He chuckles again. “And room for characters.”

Caroline: “Well, Lord Savoy, it did accommodate you for a time…”

GM: Savoy laughs all the harder at Caroline’s reply. “If given the choice between having character and being a character, Miss Malveaux, I can’t deny I’d have to think on that one!”

Caroline: “I don’t know they’re mutually exclusive, Lord Savoy.”

GM: “There’s always a third way,” the Toreador concurs.

Caroline: “Is there? I should think that for the lord of the French Quarter there would be only one way: to have it all.”

GM: Savoy slaps his knee as he laughs again, full and deep. “Oh mon!” he exclaims in French. (_"Oh my!") “I think we may have a harpy in the making, Nat!”

“Perhaps so, sir,” the Malkavian replies.

“Perhaps other cities will enjoy the pleasure of your company some night, Miss Malveaux,” Savoy remarks, his laughter subsiding into a grin. “Ours might be shameless, but it would still be a terrible shame if she kept you all to herself.”

Caroline: “I bet you say that to all the sireless fledgling heiresses, Lord Savoy,” Caroline smiles as she leans back and crosses her legs.

GM: “I do, Miss Malveaux. For who but the most clever and resourceful of new Kindred could dance that perilous minuet of no sire, no knowledge, and no allies—only to finish it with her partners breathless and her audience agape, not merely surviving, but prospering?” Savoy answers, his features settling into an easy smile. “‘Sireless fledgling’ is not a moniker that becomes you, my dear. You are far more than that.”

Caroline: “Lord Savoy, you must stop. You pay me more than enough compliment with these meetings.” She looks at his companion. “As I’m certain Ms. Preston is happy to tell you after each of them.”

GM: “Madam Preston, Miss Malveaux,” the Malkavian corrects without looking up from her tablet.

“What compliment I pay you for these meetings I make back tenfold from the pleasure of your company, my dear.” The smile on Savoy’s face doesn’t waver either. “I shouldn’t like another of my departures from the city to interrupt that pleasure, either. Perhaps you’d care to join me next time.”

Caroline: “Inviting a young neonate off on a flight to a foreign city with you, Lord Savoy? What would the harpies say?” Caroline asks with mock shock, one hand over her mouth. The response comes easily and gives her a moment to think about the potential benefits and dangers of such a journey… and whether she could refuse in spite of them. It’s… intriguing. “Robbing from the coffin.”

GM: “The harpies could but speak the truth, Miss Malveaux. The truth is never any greater cause for scandal—and scandalous it would be that I was so taken by any neonate.” Savoy laughs again at Caroline’s quip. “Taken enough that I would declare, to the winds with whatever they say!”

Caroline: Caroline laughs. “I can scarcely believe you could be so tactless, Lord Savoy, but it’s a very flattering and intriguing offer… one that I fear I would have to give answer to in the moment. I’m sure you understand, better than anyone, how delicate a time a beginning is, and that my time is not always my own.”

GM: The Toreador inclines his head in acknowledgement. “Of course, Miss Malveaux. We’ll speak again when I have firmer plans, and the mice are making ready to play with the cat soon away.”

Caroline: “What an interesting allusion, Lord Savoy,” Caroline seizes on. “Is that what we are? Cats and mice? I suppose both come out at night.”

GM: “The mice are the kine, Miss Malveaux,” Savoy chuckles. “We are the cats. Always, we are the cats.”


False_Epiphany False_Epiphany