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Blood & Bourbon

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Celia VI, Chapter XIX

The Greatest Lie

“You’ve lied to me for as long as I’ve known you.”
Roderick Durant

Monday night, 21 March 2016, AM

Celia: With Emily asleep, Celia gets ready for the rest of her evening. She starts with her face, turning herself back into Jade for her upcoming meetings, and once that is done she scrubs all trace of her “party” with Emily from the spa, putting the leftover sliders into the fridge and tequila bottle into the recycling bin. She cleans the lab of the spilled booze and relocks the door from the inside so that even if Emily were to wake up she won’t be able to get in.

She doesn’t want her around other licks, especially in that state.

She writes a quick letter in a hand that is decidedly not hers and finally locates Carolla’s body. Through a door that isn’t a door, using her pinky finger on a scanner that doesn’t beep, set into the wall at a natural knee-high divet that’s impossible to find unless you know exactly where it is. That opens a panel, which allows her to put a key inside another lock, then enter a combination, and finally she’s in.

Cool air greets her. The tiny, cramped room beyond is packed with plastic and glass containers on rubber coated steel shelves, labeled in a precise hand. A lilac tarp hangs from one of the lower shelves.

Jade pulls it aside.

And there he is, still torn and bloodied from the fight in the park, gaunt in torpor and pale from blood loss.

GM: Worse than bloodied. Roderick tore him almost completely apart. Crushed and bashed and beat him in worse than Maxen ever whaled on his children. Time has not healed Carolla’s injuries. Time never heals their kind’s injuries.

And no one is sparing any blood for a torpid vampire.

Celia: No. No one is sparing any blood for this piece of trash. Shame, too, she’d kind of liked him from afar. Before he opened his mouth. She could see herself playing a different mask for him, Mafia moll maybe, the kind of girl who tosses her hair and giggles and—

Well. It doesn’t matter. She still has Gui, doesn’t she? Until she sets him up. Then it’s Roderick in charge of the mob in Savoy’s domain. Interesting, that. She’ll have to ask what he wants to do with it.

Later, though. For now she has work to do, and a limited amount of time to do it.

Jade pulls his body out of the cooler, dragging it across the floor and hefting it onto her work table. He’s heavy, only made lighter by the fact that he’s got no blood in his system and one of his limbs is torn off. She makes a second trip for that, then wheels her cart of tools to the side of the table.

She hadn’t been exaggerating to Savoy when she told him that night-folk subjects are hard to come by. She could get an assortment of half-bloods, sure, but actual licks with actual non-stolen powers are more her speed. Even though he’s torped she makes sure the stake is firmly lodged in his heart before she begins. Who knows what kind of shenanigans he could pull if not.

Celia starts on his leg. She lifts the tattoo gun from the tray of tools, douses it in her blood, and marks the fallen Brujah in a rough, crude sketch of triangular ears and a flicking tail. Above it she adds the suggestion of leathery wings outstretched as if in flight, membrane taut between each little piece of cartilage. It’s not the most beautiful rendition she’s ever drawn, but it’s just for testing purposes anyway. She sets aside her tools and reaches for the knife, cutting past the epidermis and dermis into the subcutaneous layer beneath. Slowly, she peels it back.

Bits of white fat cling to the underside of the tissue as she pulls in slow, smooth, even strokes to lift the flesh from his body. She uses her knife and her own claws to cut anything that sticks until, with a final tug and slice of the knife, the tattooed part of him comes off. She reaches for a sharpie and writes “1” on it, then sets it aside.

Crafting done with, Celia looks down at the torpid Brujah.

“All right, bucko, we gon’ carve you open, ’kay?”

She’s not quite as sober as she thought. No wonder the cat is just ears and a tail. She giggles at it before she starts on the rest of his leg. She might not be able to manipulate bone, but she can certainly manipulate everything around it. Another knife cuts into the flesh over his hip, digging through until she hits the bone beneath it. Already half-off from the fight, it’s not much cutting to remove the rest of the skin and tissue clinging to him, and she gives a tug to rip the head of the femur out of its socket.

“Gon’ give it to my mommy,” she says to Carolla, patting his head as if he can hear her. “‘Cept you’re kinda tall, so we gon’ fix it. But tha’ can wait, yaknow? ‘Cause it ain’t goin’ nowhere.” She beams at him and sets the limb aside.

“Y’ever go huntin’?” she asks him, as if he can answer. “‘Cause my daddy never took me, yaknow? I dunno if he ever went, come to that, but s’okay. I had tuh learn this offa videos. But s’okay, I got practice. Lossa practice.”

GM: Maxen did go hunting. He took David and Logan.

Of the two boys, Logan was the most into it.

Celia: She doubts he field dressed his own kills, anyway.

She wouldn’t ordinarily do this while mildly intoxicated, but Gui is due soon, so she gets started.

“See, you s’posed to hang ‘em up from a tree, but I ain’t got a tree here. But I do got hydraulics, ayy.” The press of a button lifts one side of the table. Carolla’s body flops off of it and Celia stares blankly at where he lands on the floor. “Oh,” she says, “I f’got to chain you. Whoopsie.”

She lowers the table, puts Carolla back onto it, fastens the steel manacles around his wrists, and lifts the table again.

“Graaaaavity,” she says to him. “Y’know your average body gots ‘bout 8 poundsa flesh? An’ if you lay it all out, righ’, you got like… 22 feet. S’alot! An’ you’re kinda tall, so you gots more. But I ain’ gonna take it all, k? Jus’ a little.”

So it begins. Celia plunges the knife into his body with a little more force than necessary, then begins cutting his skin and peeling it back. She doesn’t take all of it, just enough for a handful of experiments; she doesn’t want Gui to get the wrong idea, does she? She sets the skin aside in strips as it comes free of his body, and once she has harvested what she needs she looks to the skin she’s worked free and marks it in a similar fashion to the first. She puts a “2” at the top of that one.

“Shoulda done this earlier,” Celia confesses to him, patting his cheek. “Coulda regrown ‘n’ stuff. Bitta blood waste tho, innit? ‘Oo knows, this works I’ma carve your brother too.” She grins at him.

GM: The skin decays as Celia carves it off, like Roxanne’s did when she died. It loosens and ugly blisters appear across the surface.

Celia: “Tha’s ’kay,” she says lovingly, “I’ll fixit, ya hear?”

GM: Carolla’s ruined face stares back at hers blankly.

Celia: “How ol’ are you really?” she asks him.

GM: The ruined face is just as silent.

Celia: “S’okay, body tells all, don’t it?”

“Now lessee,” she continues, lowering the table again. “Y’empty, yaknow? But she saidta jus’ keep goin’, so we gon’ keep goin, ‘kay? Then I’ll cutcha open ‘gain an’ see what yer insides hafta say.”

She’s not quite sure how it works, only that Caroline had told her to keep drinking. So she sinks her fangs into Carolla’s neck, one of the spots she’d left him intact, and pulls.

And pulls.

And pulls.

GM: Celia is not sure what she expected to happen.

But there is nothing within Carolla’s veins to pull. They are empty of vitae. Celia and Roderick emptied his veins themselves.

She sucks and sucks, as though with a straw at the bottom of an empty glass.

Celia: She’d heard someone say once that “she sucked my dick like there were diamonds in my ballsack.” Not about her, but about some whore he’d fucked recently, laughing with his buddies about it at the bar.

She does that here. Only with his neck instead of his dick.

GM: There are diamonds in his neck, Caroline said, or at least something of equivalent value.

Celia ravenously sucks empty and bloodless veins.

But that is what they remain.



Celia: Had she lied to Celia?

Or… is it like when you get to the bottom of a soap bottle and you have to add water, shake it around, and get it all out?

Celia stops pulling long enough to cut into her wrist with her fangs, then trickles the blood into Carolla’s mouth. She starts sucking again immediately.

GM: Drinking your own blood is like masturbating. Enjoyable, but just not the same as involving someone else. Still, Celia is no stranger to giving or enjoying pleasure. She is an artist of pleasure. Her masturbation is better than most people’s sex. She’s so pretty. She made herself this way. It was a lot of work. She loves to appreciate herself, and the flawless results of her handiwork, not a mere accident of genetics and birth. She is right to take pride in how pretty she is.

She drinks of herself, and she enjoys the taste of herself. She enjoys her sweetness, that all but permanent lustful flavor inherent to her blood. (What would it take to even get that out?) She does taste like makeup, like her mom said. Not literally like makeup. She tastes like putting on makeup makes you feel. Prettier. Better. Anyone who drinks of her becomes better. She’s already the best, she can’t be made better by drinking more of the best, but it reminds her, oh yes, just how good everyone else has it when they get to drink of her—

She drinks deep—and hits gold.

Someone else’s gold.

The partner she was looking for. The handsome stranger who’s walked in on her masturbating, not yet at climax, and helped her the rest of the way there.

It’s not liquid she’s drinking anymore. It’s as heavy as gold and weightless as air. It’s so pure and powerful that she seems to be swallowing liquid fire. She feels a burning in her veins, starting in her throat and spreading outwards through her entire body. It’s indescribable: pleasure so piercing it’s agony, pain so sweet it’s ecstasy.

Staked and torpid, her partner is unresponsive. But even absorbed as Celia is in her own pleasure, the long-time masseur is sensitive to the feelings of another’s body. No two massages are ever the same, once she lets her hands take over and slips into that meditation-like state where her mind blanks. Her mind blanks and her hands listen. The body tells stories to her listening hands. She can feel the tension in the body. She feels literal memories stored in the muscles. She remembers one of her first clients, the mom who started sobbing on the table under Celia’s touch, and confessed she’d lost her son, all without her masseur ever once asking.

Celia is not massaging Carolla. She’s just holding him. Her hands are not asking the body for its story. The hands are barely listening.

They still hear the body scream.

Every muscle fiber is a shard of glass turned against its neighbor, cutting, piercing, shredding. The human neuromuscular system, in all its glorious complexity and perfection, now feels as if every molecule was turned from its purpose to the causation of pain. It’s Maxen spanking her bloody when she just wanted to be hugged. It’s Paul making her eat piss-soaked blondies when she’d make them just to be nice. It’s Roderick beating her torpid when she told the truth. It’s her sire showing her indifference when all she wanted was love. It’s all of her many, many rapists (how many times has she been raped?), turning an act of intimacy into one of violation. Everything that could bring joy brings pain. If Celia were to give a deliberately hurtful massage, her hands could not inflict such pain, could not inflict this rape of the soul. Celia knows, beyond all certainty, that Carolla is feeling this. Even staked and torpid, he is feeling this. The body does not lie. The body screams its violation and its torment and its agony and its desire to cease to exist, to never have existed, to embrace oblivion, so the pain will stop. She has never beheld another sentient being in such pain.

His pain.

Her gain.

A soundless scream rings back and forth in Celia’s ears like the tolling of a great church bell. It dongs with every mouthful of that transcendent, soul-scorching flame she sucks into herself. It’s fast at first, like the beating of a vessel’s heart. It slows with each mouthful, yet rings all the deeper, all the louder. It hits her like an orgasm in her loins, but it doesn’t stop there, oh no, oh no. Clitoral. G-spot. Vaginal. Anal. Nipple. All at once, exploding like a crate of bombs simultaneously going off, but it still doesn’t stop, oh no, there are so many parts of her body beyond her ass and her cunt and her tits, she knows herself that if her blood vessels were laid out in a line, they would measure 60,000 miles in length. The human body has nigh-infinite parts in all of its staggering complexitude.

Only now does she realize they can all bring her pleasure.

She’s like the dumb virgin teenager, who only just figured out she can feel good by sticking fingers inside herself. So limited was she, to think pleasure was limited to so few parts of her body! Every inch of her body knows orgasm. Every cell, every atom, every quark, is turned towards pleasure. She could not stop the scream that tears from her lips even if she wanted to. THIS is true pleasure, THIS is the “better than sex” that every vampire lies feeding is. It lights up every inch of her skin like she’s been struck by a divine thunderbolt, oh god she wants it to stop, it’s too much, no, she wants it to never stop, no, she does, the mind cannot fathom, there is no thought, just pleasure, consciousness-obliterating pleasure, and she feels ready to burst like a star going nova, so inadequate is her dead shell to contain all the bliss that she feels. Space vanishes. Time hangs still. She feels herself expanding, racing, as she fills that existential void, and she becomes MORE than she was, and takes into herself everything that Carolla was even as the Brujah’s psychic scream reverberates through her, piercingly loud but in the end unheeded. Is this what it felt like for her mom to merge with Lucy?

She claims her own Lucy.

And, with all the subtlety of a whispered sheet against skin still shuddering in post-coital bliss, she claims something else:


Celia: Truth.

Truth concealed in bliss.

Truth coated in an ugly lie, a lie that’s enough to make even Roderick turn from the light’s path.

Truth, and how ugly that is.

Coco had never been his sire.

His blood is not her gateway to more power.

He is her peer, not her superior, not a betrayal by Roderick’s sire. He’s nothing but a patsy. Another pawn—and she doesn’t need to wonder whose hand is behind this, who had set him up, who had broken her boyfriend beyond recognition to turn him into a shadow of his former self. Dark where he had once been light.

He had used her. Turned her lover against her. Turned him into a wreck, turned him into a monster, stolen the only good thing from his life—

Rage spirals through her. Rage that she has never known before, rage that consumes her in a way her Beast cannot fathom, rage that has a sharp edge to it, rage that turns her nails into claws, that makes her roar her fury to the world as, at last, the veil is lifted from her eyes.

I see now, Celia,” he’d said, and what a lie that had been. He sees nothing. He is blinded by the others, older, more powerful, more established, more gifted—he is blinded by every lie that they have ever told. A puppet on his string dancing for his master, and she no better.

The collar chafes and she tugs against it, snarling at the bond that holds her taut in its grip, snarling at the sire that had told her not to trust, snarling at the sire that shows indifference when she wants love—

It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t matter.

And, oh, how her eyes bleed at that thought.

She is nothing but a piece on the board, shoved this way and that by whatever hand wants to touch her.

She howls.

Just like that, control snaps.

She gives in to the Beast lurking inside her chest, the one she’d thought was a sleeping kitten earlier this evening. How silly, that thought. How silly that she would ever think of her Beast as anything other than the monster that it is. How ridiculous that she thinks she can conquer it with a bit of old, stale blood (nothing like what she just experienced).

Rage consumes her. She sees red. She becomes the inferno, blazing a path through her own “lab” like a hurricane—and she sees, finally, why they are named after people when she snaps out of it at the end of her cycle of destruction, clothing torn and bloodied and strewn across the floor in haphazard disarray.

Carolla’s body has taken more damage. The steel tools she uses have been flung far and wide through the space.

Chest heaving with barely contained fury, Celia is glad that she locked the door. Glad that her Beast is not smart enough to finagle the series of locks to find the sleeping kine in the other room. Hatred thunders through her.

GM: Carolla’s body hasn’t just taken damage.

All that’s left is his skeleton. The bones have turned jet black, as though melted under an impossible heat, and a sticky residue pools beneath, like half-melted plastic. A foul smell wafts from the bones.

They smell like Paul’s plastic smile.

Celia: It’s not quite what she thought she’d find when she cut him open. But the cunning, medically-based side of her appraises what’s left to determine what she can from the body.

GM: It’s hard to make many visual estimates of the bones’ wear and tear from what’s left. The usual kine indicators of ossification and decreasing joint size don’t apply to Kindred. Celia can surmise no explanation for why the bones turned black, or why the residue smells so foul, and makes her think of the way Paul made her feel. But her own blood feels no thicker… Carolla can’t have been more than half a century or so old, can’t he? Unless he was eleven or more steps removed from Caine, anyway. Then his blood could get no thicker, no matter how old he was.

Celia: She takes a look at the flesh and bone she’d removed before she’d claimed his soul for her own, wondering if those changed as well.

GM: The conveniently taken skin samples, in contrast, prove much, much easier for Celia to identify. The skin has reached the initial autolysis stage of decay, yes. But she’s done enough experimentation upon her own (and seen what final death looked like for her share of vampires) to know that Kindred corpses age far slower than kine ones when the weight of their years catches up to them.

Celia pegs Carolla’s age within several years of Roxanne’s, who she knows was a 2010 Embrace.

Seemingly just another neonate.

Celia: Seemingly.

As if that means anything.

He was seemingly Coco’s childe, too.

Celia rips a blackened bone from his ribcage and finds a container for the black goo. She doesn’t know what it is, but surely someone does.

She’s careful not to touch it with her bare skin when she scoops it into a jar.

GM: She moves most of it without issue.

The bone doesn’t look burned. It doesn’t feel hot and there’s no ash coming off. It’s just a normal bone that happens to be solid black.

Celia: She’s not sure what to do with him now. He hadn’t yielded what she’d expected.

Everything she’d thought about him had been a lie. And now she’s got… this. Black goo. Black bones. No idea what any of it means.

She doesn’t know who she’s mad at, only that she’s furious and curious and frustrated all in one, and she hates that she doesn’t understand. She cracks another rib out of place, then series of finger bones. She sets them aside, turning her eye to his spine.

She’ll wait. Wait for the Ventrue to get here and decide if this is proof enough about Carolla, and if not then she’s not sure what she’s going to tell him either.

Bitter disappointment surges through her. More lies. Another setup.

Maybe nothing will compare to the liquid gold of his soul.

Or maybe she’s just tired of being used.

It takes a moment of further consideration to place where she has seen this sort of goo before: Savoy’s roof. She’d stepped over it on her way to meet with him following his conversation with Roderick. That was the night she’d learned the truth about “Melton” and had seen a ghost become a vampire.

Why hasn’t he called?

Perhaps she’ll ask after him tonight when she goes to meet the lick with the poison eyes. Call in the marker he owes her for this situation with Marcel.

Celia cleans the remnants of the goo from the floor with a hose, sending it swirling down the drain. She tucks the bottle of gathered goo away for further study.

There’s little left for her to do except wait for Gui to show up. She tidies her lab in the meantime, putting away the bones and flesh she’d harvested from the Brujah to deal with later. Everything except the skin she’d stolen from his face, and she’s glad for that tipsy side of her now that had thought it was hilarious at the time. The rest of him had disintegrated into nothing. Muscles, tendons, ligaments—everything, all the tissue in his body. Vanished. As if it never was. Inconvenient, certainly, but drunk Celia had ended up being a boon in this case.

She thoroughly washes the table where she’d cut him apart, picks up her scattered tools, and sets everything to right. She lays the skeleton on the table and puts the literal face mask beneath it in the storage compartment; she’ll pull it out later if Gui needs to see it, but she doesn’t want to flaunt it for no reason.

A glance down at herself shows that her dress is rather tattered from her Beast’s earlier frenzy. She takes a moment to strip from it and pull on a spare “Flawless” tee and sneakers, hair swept back into a ponytail. She assumes the shirt hanging in the break room belongs to Landen because it hits her in the mid-thigh, long enough to look like she meant it this way when she uses a belt to cinch it around her waist. It’s not the particularly glamorous look she goes for when she’s Jade, but tonight, riding the high from the golden, full-body bliss she’d found inside her victim puts a swagger in her step.

Something has certainly changed. She has certainly changed.

Done with the menial tasks, she waits for her guests.

Monday night, 21 March 2016, AM

GM: It’s not overlong before Celia receives a text message from Gui.


Celia: Jade glances in the mirror on her way to the back door she uses for her Kindred guests to keep them out of the main area, fixing a piece of hair that had slipped free from its tie. The back entrance has just as much security as the front and side doors, leading into a stone foyer that then allows entrance to the lab once she goes through yet more security. A tiny, reinforced peephole in the door lets her look out to verify that it is in fact Gui waiting for her.

GM: She sees Gui and that ghoul of his she fucked.

Celia: Where oh where is the promised friend? Jade opens the door for them.

“Hello, darling.”

GM: “Hello, lush,” smiles Gui as he steps inside.

“Your friend’s stashed nearby. Let’s see the proof.”

Celia: Jade beckons him forward, turning to lock the door behind the pair of them. She winks at the ghoul as she steps past him. She walks the pair of them through the foyer and opens the second set of doors leading to the lab.

“How was the rest of your evening?” she asks as they go.

GM: The Venture ghoul stares back with a look of unconcealed lust bordering on possessiveness.

It makes her think of Carolla.

“Promising,” answers Gui. “You’re dressed down.”

Celia: She wants him, she decides. Whatever happens to Gui, she wants this one.

“Mhm,” she says to his comment on her clothing, “hardly conducive to harvest parts in a ball gown.” She’s still a knockout, even in the stolen tee. It’s the “girlfriend wearing my shirt” vibe. Sexy in a soft, understated sort of way. More romance than smut.

Once inside the lab, she gestures toward the table where the blackened skeleton lies.

GM: “The fuck?” says Gamberro.

Celia: “Oh, you didn’t tell him,” Jade remarks, as if this is perfectly normal.

GM: “Doesn’t look much like Carolla,” remarks Gui.

Celia: “No,” she agrees, “not anymore. Hard to come by Kindred subjects, you understand. I borrowed most of him.” She bends, reaching for the skin she’d stolen from his face. It looks like him… but flattened. Like someone had ripped off his head and run over it with a heavy truck a few times.

She sets it on the table.

“Saved his face for you.”

GM: Gamberro laughs.

“Look at fucking that.”

Celia: Jade smiles at him.

GM: “Yes, that does look rather more like him,” remarks Gui.

He picks up the face, almost experimentally.

Celia: It flops over in his hands. White clumps of fat still cling to the inside.

GM: Gamberro laughs some more.

“Maldita sea.”

“This is proof, all right,” says Gui, setting the face mask back down.

“Gamberro, go bring in the sire.”

“Need the key,” the ghoul says shortly.

Celia: Jade hands him two of them.

GM: Gamberro takes them and leaves.

Celia: Ordinarily she’d walk him out, but there’s something… off about Gui. She waits until his ghoul leaves to turn her attention back to him, watching his face and body.

GM: “So how’d he get this way?” asks the Ventrue, turning towards her.

Celia: “Which way? Dead?”

GM: “Black.”

Celia: “Another experiment. I admit the bone work is new to me. When I started with the flesh I began simply, changing colors, textures. I wanted to see how far I could go with this, and the longer I worked the more it clicked. I’d decided to turn it into an art piece. Functional. Armor, perhaps.”

Jade tilts her head, considering him.

“Black felt fitting for one of our kind.”

GM: “Mmm.”

Gui runs a finger along the bones.

“Feels warm.”

Celia: Jade touches a hand to Carolla’s skull, feeling for the heat.

GM: It’s cooler than it was, after she drank his soul, but well above room temperature.

Celia: She shrugs.

“As I said, new to me.”

GM: “In ‘93, you know, Chicago had a nasty war with the area’s Lupines,” says Gui. “Or Loup-Garoux, here. You hear of it?”

Celia: Jade shakes her head.

GM: “Well, it’s not the important part of the story.”

“Some Sabbat crept in during the chaos. Taking advantage, like they do here with Mardi Gras.”

“They did some pretty nasty things to some licks. I got to see what was left of them up close.”

Gui picks up Carolla’s skull and turns it over in his hands.

“The bodies weren’t just nasty sights, though. They were bizarre.”

“One of them had pustules and boils. On the bone. I thought that only happened on skin, but sure enough, this was on bone.”

“On another one, the decayed flesh had turned this sickly green hue and half-melted off. Smelled worse than anything I’d ever smelled before.”

“And another one,” remarks Gui, holding up the skull, “looked and felt a lot like this one.”

“Interesting, isn’t it?”

Celia: “Mm,” Jade says. “That is interesting. Perhaps I chose the wrong color.”

She should have hidden the bones. Of course he wouldn’t believe they were Carolla without the proof of his face. She hadn’t been thinking straight.

Jade smiles at Gui, letting her supernatural charm wash over him to blur his senses. It’s a subtle, slippery thing she sends his way, accompanied by a tilt of her head and a little giggle, the perfect picture of Kindred allure. She takes a step toward him, touching a hand to his chest and lifting her chin to find his face. She doesn’t quite meet his eye.

“Are you implying that I’m friends with Sabbat, Reynaldo?”

She giggles again.

GM: Gui chuckles and sets down the skull.

“No, I suppose not.”

“We never did find out what they’d done to those bodies.”

“Might have just been ‘art’, too.”

Celia: She smiles up at him, sliding her hand from his chest to cheek.

“Shame, I’d thought I was so clever for it. I’ll have to find something else to please the guilds for my journeyman’s piece.” She forces a sigh but there’s no real sense of loss to it, and she’s smiling past the parted lips.

“Was that when you fought one? A Lupine?” Admiration shines in her eyes.

GM: Gui smirks faintly back. “Yes, though not by myself. That’s a fast ticket to final death.”

Celia: “How many did it take to bring him down?”

GM: “Too many. The city lost a lot of licks.”

Celia: It’s hardly the thrilling tale she’d been fishing for. She removes her hand from him, nodding in apparent understanding.

“Let’s hope by river is a safer travel route than through the dark. I’ve secured us a private yacht.” She smiles winningly.

Jade certainly doesn’t do anything by half-measures.

“Speaking of friends, though. A dear one of mine is in from Houston. I mentioned you when we spoke and he asked me to arrange a meeting. Something about a shared interest.”

GM: “That feels very good,” says Gui. He doesn’t sigh under her expert touch, being long past the physiological need, but Jade can feel tension leaving his body. “You weren’t kidding about dead muscles still being able to feel.”

“I’ve thought about boats before,” he continues. “Sailing up the Mississippi. The pr-”

The door slams open. Four figures stride in, their footsteps masked by the lab’s soundproofed walls. Laura Melton. A comely redhead who smells like Kindred. The Gamberro. He smiles, showing fangs, and Jade hears no heartbeat from his chest. ‘Michael’ walks at the group’s head.

His eyes carry death.

Celia: Well.


Monday night, 21 March 2016, AM

Celia: At least she doesn’t need to set Gui up a second time, right? A glance at his face tells her all he needs to know: he’s not in on it. How had they known…? Gamberro. Why? Why turn against his… had he said… fuck.


All sorts of fuck.

Jade slides off the table, turning to face the band of licks. Four on two, and she’s not even sure how well the Ventrue handles himself in combat. She forces a smile, thinks about saying something sarcastic, and finally bites her tongue.

“Gamberro. You’ve brought friends.”

GM: Gui doesn’t talk. A switchblade flashes in his hand. Michael seizes the Ventrue’s arm with both hands as it flashes towards him, then pulls. There’s a hideous crack, then bone splinter gorily jutting through flesh. Gui hisses.

Michael smiles.

Celia: Celia might have once flinched at the sight. Her stomach might have churned. But she’s taken enough bodies apart in the past years that the sight doesn’t faze her, and she’s not even in control right now.

It’s the fact that Michael did it with his bare hands. With just a yank.

What’s he planning on doing to her?

Jade skitters backwards.

GM: Celia’s lover yanks the Ventrue forward by his broken arm as the switchblade hits the floor with a clatter, then executes a two-handed shoulder throw, sending Gui crashing back-first onto the ground. Michael’s foot comes down on the Ventrue’s other elbow, audibly crunching bone.

The other three watch and laugh.

“Pathetic,” sneers Michael.

Celia: She’s not interested in seeing this side of him. Gui is dead anyway, now instead of later. He’s brought enough licks to make sure of it.

She bolts.

GM: Michael’s three friends close around the door.

“You going somewhere, Kalani? What’s the hurry?” asks Michael.

He stomps down hard on Gui’s knee. A cry of pain goes up from the Ventrue as that breaks too.

Celia: Good thing there’s a second door, since that’s where she’s headed.

She’s next. She knows she’s next. She’s next and she’s not going to wait around for it to happen. Jade launches herself at the door to Celia’s closet—only an hour ago she’d been joking about it being Narnia—and wrenches it open so she can disappear on the other side.

GM: “Yeah, where you goin’, puta!” laughs Gamberro.

Footsteps thump after her. Jade isn’t sure how many of the licks give chase. Just the three? Or Michael, too? She doesn’t look to see. Laughter rings in her ears as grasping hands lunge for her, but the preternaturally quick Toreador blurs ahead.

Celia: She slams the door shut behind her, throwing the lock into place.

How long will the steel door hold? She doesn’t know. But she can’t sit here and find out. Her mind races even as her feet carry her down the hall.

Why? How? Who?

Something for a later date, isn’t it. But Roderick is in bed with Setites. What else had they given him? And Savoy—is this another betrayal? Had he traded Jade for Roderick, too? Or was she supposed to stand and watch, then take her beating?

She wants to cry. There’s nowhere to run. Roderick knows about her haven, about Celia’s place. The Evergreen might not be safe. He knows where her mom lives. Would he endanger her family like that? And Emily. Here! Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Stephen wouldn’t hurt them, but Stephen is dead. So’s Roderick, she thinks, and she watches her plans crumble into dust. Every single one of them.

Where can she—?

She can’t. She can’t go anywhere. She can’t leave Emily behind. The keys she’d given Gamberro only work for that one set of doors—because what kind of idiot has a “secret entrance” with the same keys as the normal entrance?—but she wouldn’t put it past them to break into the spa another way to find her. And if they find Emily instead, and Roderick doesn’t control the others…

Emily is locked behind a door. No one knows she’s there. She smells like booze instead of blood. That helps, right?

Jade passes a table in the hall. A glass vase with hydrangeas catches her eye. She flings it on the floor, watching the glass shatter, and cuts into her wrist with her fangs to dribble blood along the floor. All the way out the front door. She flings more droplets onto the sidewalk, then licks her wounds, locks the door from the outside, and doubles back. She takes a different path to the Vichy room where she’d left Emily. She lets herself in, quietly closes the door, and locks it.

He knows she can fly. He’ll think she took off.

Once inside, Celia pulls the dead weight of Emily’s drunk, passed out body into her arms. She’s heavy. But undead muscles don’t get tired, and Celia staggers toward the closet with the noirnette. It’s cramped, full of body scrubs and dry brushes and fragrant oils and salts and sugar scrubs, mud masks and extra towels, a handful of spa tools, but there’s room for the girls.

Celia nudges aside a bucket of pink Himalayan sea salt scrub and gently lowers Emily onto the ground. She’s back a second later with the towels that she’d left in the main room, Emily’s vomit-scented clothes, and her phone. She wedges Emily behind the hamper of used towels, uses the clean ones to cover her as best she can so it looks like a pile of excess laundry, and double checks that the phone is on silent.

They’ll be safe here. Won’t they?

She settles in.

GM: Emily groggily stirs awake as Celia moves her.


“Don’ wanna go t’ Nar’nya…”

Celia: She’d been afraid of that.

“It’ll be fun,” Celia says in a whisper. “Just for a minute, then you can sleep, ’kay?”

GM: “Mmmugh… fuckin’… Jesus lion…”

Celia: “Fuckin’ Jesus lion,” Celia agrees, stashing the pair inside the closet. “Blankies,” she says when she covers Emily.

GM: “Asla my ass…”

Celia: “Sleep now,” Celia says gently.

GM: Emily dumbly presses her palm against the door.

“Don’ like this… bed.”

“Ol’ one, be’er.”

Celia: “It’ll be okay,” Celia says to her, “we just have to be quiet for a few minutes, then we can go back.”

GM: “Mmuuughhhh….”

Celia: Celia waits, but she doesn’t wait idly.

Whatever Roderick has said to her in the past, she isn’t stupid. She knows that the scent of Emily’s blood isn’t actually more alcohol than booze, and she’s got more than enough things in the closet to help mask it. She reaches for a towel, then opens a bottle of oil they use for aromatherapy and sprinkles the towel with lavender-scented oil. Another wet, rolled towel goes beneath the closet door to better soundproof the room and hide Emily’s scent. Celia stuffs the lavender towel against the wet one. Hopefully it’s the only thing that leaks out.

It has the added benefit of helping people sleep, too, which she hopes is the case for Emily. Lavender isn’t an out of place scent in a spa, either. There are enough air fresheners and oil diffusers that anyone who isn’t used to it usually remarks, “wow, smells good in here” when they step inside. The scent here won’t shine like a beacon, summoning them toward her.

She stuffs more towels beneath, around, and over Emily to make her comfortable and hidden, doing her best to lull her to sleep.

And then, not knowing if it worked or not, not knowing if any minute one of them will wrench open the door, Celia borrows her friend’s phone, downloads an app, and opens the stream for the lab. She’d been concerned about meeting with the Ventrue. That he might turn on her. Mesmerize her, even, and make her forget anything they might have talked about. So she’d prepared, setting a device beneath the lip of her table to pick up any sound in the room.

She turns the volume down as low as she can, stops breathing, and listens.

GM: Celia finds that Emily’s phone has a pattern unlock, but her sister groggily unlocks it at her request.

The video quality comes out terrible, though. Celia can’t tell how many licks are still in the room, or if any lacks are still in the room.

She doesn’t hear anything, though.

If anyone is still in there, they’re keeping pretty quiet.

Celia: Did they leave?

Or are they waiting for her to come crawling back?

Her eyes close for a brief moment. She doesn’t think she can stay here all night. And she’s sure they’re just out there waiting for her. Melton, at least, knows more shadow dancing than she does.

She logs into another app and sends a text to a certain diamond-studded Caitiff.

2 2 many people @ this work party lol can u & R stop by to help close down?

Two plus two is four. Everyone knows that.

She stares down at the phone for a minute. Pete. She could call Pete to get her out of this. They wouldn’t attack him, right? He knows about Emily. Can help get her to safety.

Or she could just call Roderick.

She waits on that, opening the security app once more and scrolling backwards until the little squiggles of noise appear. She listens again.

GM: There’s silence for a bit.

Then footsteps again.

“…we’ll finish here, if she’s gone,” says Michael.

“Already got all the tools we need,” says Gamberro approvingly.

“Place is well-stocked,” smiles a female voice.

Celia hears sounds. Movements. Metallic.

Then a grisly, gory tearing. The unmistakable cut of steel sawing through flesh. Sawing through bone. She knows that sound. She’s heard it herself, plenty of times in that room.

“Too bad we can’t hear him scream,” says Gamberro.

Celia: Celia listens silently, hand pressed to her mouth.

GM: It’s not as if she breathes.

But some instincts die hard.

“Yes, much too bad,” concurs a female voice.

There’s a light giggle.

“You’re doing well against the collar,” says another female one.

Celia: He’s an idiot. He, more than her. Killing Gui without even questioning him. Without waiting for the sire to be delivered. Does he care about that anymore, or is he only interested in spilling Mafia blood?

And who the fuck is that bitch?

GM: There’s a sound like spitting.

Pedazo de mierda was never gonna give what he owed.”

Celia: Melton couldn’t know how to sculpt flesh, could she? She’d have done that rather than rely on cloaking to take the place of the Gangrel. Savoy wouldn’t have sent for Dicentra if Camille had her own doc. The redhead, then? Dr. E? Or is it just more cloaking?

She texts the Caitiff again.

nvm, can handle

GM: “One can see why he wouldn’t,” smiles the first female voice. “You’re going to do his job better than he ever did.”

Celia: Of course he is. Rod won’t even get his hands dirty, will he. The coward.

GM: “Probably saw you as a threat,” agrees the second female.

Celia: Who gave him the blood, then? One of the girls? Rod himself?

Does he know she’s a Setite?

Does he care?

GM: That question remains hauntingly unanswered when Michael’s voice sounds again.

“How are you feeling now, Mr. Gui?”

“Been better,” replies the Ventrue. Haggard but cool. “Been worse, too.”

“Well, we’ll see what we can do about worse before the night is over,” smiles Michael.

“Couldn’t hack it as a Ventrue, could you, Gamberro?” says Gui. “Settling for snakes. Ah, too bad. You’ll regret that eventually.”

“You too, Mister…”

“Drakon,” answers Michael. “I’d like you to know my name, Mr. Gui. Many of your fellow scum will know it too, soon enough.”

Celia: Pretentious.

Celia is glad there’s no air in her lungs with which to snort.

GM: “I’m no snake,” sneers Gamberro. “I’m not settling for anything. Including Ventrue.

“Drakon,” sounds Gui. “Sounds made-up. A bit pretentious, too, if I’m being honest. Young ones always pick the dramatic names.”

Celia: She’d always liked him.

…which is why she’s sitting in a closet while they torture him, isn’t it. This is how she treats her friends.

GM: “Mmm,” says Drakon. “Do you know much Athenian history, Mr. Gui?”

“My clan’s always preferred Rome to Greece, Mr. Drakon,” answers Gui.

Celia: Celia clenches her teeth together. Fuck him. Fuck him and everything he’d ever been to her. Fuck him, the abusive fucking piece of shit. Fuck him, fuck everyone.

She lets the sound play in the background, sending another text. This one to her favorite thief in the whole world.

How many nails you think you can hammer before someone notices?

GM: “He was the first law-giver of ancient Athens,” explains Drakon. “Until he came along, during either 622 or 621 BC, oral law and blood feuds were the order of the day. He replaced that system with a written legal code enforced by a court of law. His laws were harsh. Stealing a cabbage was punishable by death. In fact, his name is where the term ‘draconian’ originates. Something that is like unto Drakon’s harsh laws.”

“But what’s interesting is that the citizens of Athens greeted him not as a tyrant, but as a force for justice. According to a Byzantine source, Drakon died at a theatre. It was traditional to throw hats and shirts and cloaks at speakers as a sign of approval. The crowd threw so many clothing items on Drakon that he suffocated. He was buried in that same theatre.”

There’s what sounds like a smile.

“That story is probably apocryphal. Scholars aren’t sure how Drakon actually died. But the fact that people told this story in the first place tells us a great deal.”

“Sounds like he did too good a job, if they killed him,” says Gui.

ok cool the Caitiff texts back.

Celia: Another text to the Caitiff from earlier.

I lied, they stuck around. Wanna come?

GM: “That’s interesting,” says the second female voice. “‘Draconian.’ Is that where the name ‘Draco’ comes from?”

“Yes,” Drakon answers. “There are three different spellings for his name, in fact. Drakon, Draco, and Drako, the first and last with a ‘k’.”

“I considered Draco, but I think it’s too popularly known.”

make up your mind girl

Celia: I’m fucked tbh.

GM: “Yes, it is,” agrees the second female voice.

Celia: Another text to the thief.

I got a prob at work tbh, think you can help?

w/e you want.

GM: “The ‘k’ feels like it’s overdoing things a bit, though. What about a ‘c’?” she suggests.

Celia: Please, she entreats the thief.

Bring R she tells the Caitiff. Front door.

& prob backup

GM: what is this?

It’s from Benji.

“A ‘c’,” says possibly-Dracon, testing it experimentally. “Hm. Not bad. It feels like it could use a surname, with that spelling.”

“You can pick your fuckin’ name later,” growls Gamberro.

Celia: She doesn’t know where to begin explaining. Maybe drawing them in is a bad idea. Maybe she should just let this happen.

Finally, Celia texts her… lover.

Am I next on the list?

GM: “We’re not in any rush,” says Dracon.

“In fact, this is a good place to let it happen.”

“I’m 90% sure th….” he trails off to a buzz from his phone.

There’s a pause.

“The fuck is that?” snaps Gamberro.

“Kalani, actually,” says Dracon.

“She’s concerned we’re going to kill her.”

Laughter sounds from the other three.

“Are we?” the second female asks idly.

“I’ve entertained the thought,” says Dracon.

“Could be fun,” smiles the first female.

“Mmm. I’ve not made any plans to go through with it,” says Dracon. “It just occurred to me, a few times when I was angry at her.”

“I’d want to get Savoy’s sanction, anyway.”

“Fear or guilty conscience that she ran,” muses the first female voice.

“Yes, that is interesting,” says the second female. “I thought you said she knew how this was going down.”

“She partly knew,” says Dracon. “I told her she was going to set up a second meeting with an alias where the hit actual would take place.”

“But I assumed she was going to fuck it up somehow, so she got this surprise.”

He taps back.

No. Why would you think that?

Celia: Because I keep disappointing you, and I thought you were out of patience. I was trying to find out about D’s boyfriend from him. Was supposed to trade.

GM: I am out of patience.

You have no chances left.

Celia: I was setting it up when you showed.

What do you want? I was going to swing by your place later.

GM: Come back if you’re sincere.

Celia: Am I going to be hurt with him?

GM: Only if you lie. Will you lie?

Celia: No. Tired of lying. D told me I was treating you like a kid. Made me realize I was wrong about everything. You were right. Was going to tell you tonight after I set up the meeting.

Send your friends away. We’ll talk privately. You can decide what you want to do with me then.

GM: “Kalani wants to come back,” says Dracon.

“So long as the rest of you leave.”

“Setup,” says Gamberro flatly. “Fuck her.”

“Possibly,” agrees Dracon. “But her presence could be useful.”

“So here’s what we’ll do.”

“You’ll leave the spa and watch from somewhere close.”

“If she shows up alone, she gets to go in.”

“If she doesn’t, well, I suppose she can still go in, but she’ll join Mr. Gui on the table too.”

well? comes another text.

Celia: Celia taps on her phone. A final message to Benji.

Stay away. Handling it. Final answer. Meet you later. If you don’t hear from me, ask Lana to talk to Em.

She uses a pen from Emily’s purse to scrawl a brief message to her sister on her arm.

GM: “Mmf… sto’ fuckin’… wa’me up…” grogs Emily under the ticklish sensation.

Celia: It’s over quickly. Celia rubs her back to sleep.

GM: “Sto’ jerkin’… mk’u your min’…” mumbles Emily under Celia’s nevertheless expert touch.

don’t change your mind later, Benji texts back.

Celia: love you too

GM: “She shy?” asks the second female voice.

“Not particularly,” smiles the first.

“Don’t see why she’d want to do this alone,” says the second female. “She got a history with you?”

“Yes,” says Dracon.

Laughter from the same voice. “Kalani’s just going to use you.”

“Everyone uses each other,” says Dracon.

“She, me. I, her. I, you. You, me.”

“The great symbiosis of life.”

“And we are so angry when we’re the ones used,” tsks the first female. Almost sadly.

“Go ahead and use her, Dracon, if you think this is the best way to. We can keep ourselves…. amused in the meanwhile.”

There’s a giggle.

“I bet you putas can,” grins Gamberro.

There’s laughter from both female voices.

“Don’t worry, we’ll keep you amused too,” smiles the second female.

“Good enough for me,” laughs Gamberro.

There are some indistinct sounds. A few more giggles. But movement. Footsteps.


Then fingers tapping.

We’re alone.

Celia: Alone with Roderick.

Probably her last chance to make things right.

On my way.


Carolla Diablerie

The beginning here with drunk Celia highly amuses me. Talking to Carolla as if he can hear her. “Whoops,” when she hits the hydraulics and he falls off. How she just explains everything she’s doing as if he should be impressed with her, the idle facts about how much skin he has, etc. “Lovingly” offering to fix his skin when it gets all ugly. Too funny. Also had fun describing the skinning process. I think I could have gone more in depth but it gets the point across. I watched a few videos to see how they do it to deer many years ago for another writing project and kind of figured this would be similar.

Thought for a minute here that I was SOL with the diablerie because there wasn’t any blood left. I was sitting there staring at the room like “what did I do wrong? Do I gotta suck harder?” Thought maybe giving him her own blood would jumpstart the process, glad it worked.

Really enjoyed the description of diablerie. Particularly the part about tasting herself and comparing it to masturbation, I thought it worked really well. Plus the story of the body, the callback to a client I told you about. It’s pretty cool when you pepper things like that in, adds a lot of authenticity to the scenes and makes me feel like you care enough about things I say to remember them, which is nice. Gonna toot my own horn and say the post after she learns the truth is also beautifully written, tyty.

Black bones is real weird. I dig it. Dunno why I left those out thinking that Gui would believe her it was Carolla. I guess I thought since he knows she can fleshcraft he’d be like “that’s fake” about the face or something.

This whole scene filled me with anxiety, man. I was rolling random dice and had no idea what it was for and was panicked that it meant his sire felt him die and was on their way and I was like “but the spa is locked right? How will they get in? I was very clear this is a secret thing and there’s all sorts of locks.”

I am looking forward to experimenting with his skin. Eager to see what that yields. Hopefully. Was annoyed at the time that you withheld his stats but I guess I am kind of curious about who he is now. Happy to have gotten Fortitude & Animalism out of it, opens up a lot of cool new things for me to do.

Gui and Gamberro

Not gonna lie, I think the idea of Jade wearing a long tee-shirt and sneakers with a ponytail is pretty damn cute. In one of those “I’m a paint-splattered artist” kind of ways.

I do enjoy the way Gamberro looks at her. Not sure if it’s because he planned on claiming her after Gui died to become her lover or if he figured he’d get to keep her once they betrayed Gui or what. Would have loved to have him as my ghoul. Oh well. Maybe we can be friends if I don’t gut him. :D

Thought about not giving Gamberro the key and walking him out instead. Was curious how it would have played out if that had been the case. Wanted a chance to talk to Gui before he had the ghoul come back, though. Thought that her lie here about getting used to bone work was okay, and I imagine it’s what she’s going to use again now that she traded with Jade. I did think it was a little weird that he said it felt warm but earlier when she was handling the bones she didn’t feel anything. Not a big deal, though.

Oh hey, ‘93 is the year he was Embraced. I bet he was Embraced to fight in the war. Or maybe he’s Sabbat! A shovelhead. Whaaaaaat.

Then she’s all, “ah yes I’m definitely not Sabbat but listen tell me about how big and strong you are you big, strong, hunky manly man.”

Roderick and Co. Showing Up

Was not expecting the betrayal by Gamberro. I have a lot of thoughts about this whole thing. Part of me thinks I played it wrong, that I should have stuck around and watched and pretended to know the whole time. I was very worried about Emily being found because even though the door was locked she was still just laying on a table. I also thought that the arrival of the others meant Rod replaced her (which he did) and that he meant to kill her, too, so it made sense to me to gtfo.

I imagine the entire rest of the night would have gone differently if she’d stayed. I think once I made the decision to run it kind of snowballed into mistake after mistake and I had a very hard time seeing a way out of this. I had been curious about what they’d do to her if they caught her, and when I rolled for getting away I remember thinking that I’d have been okay with it if she failed. I was pleased with her fake blood trail, though. Realized that maybe she should have just gone back to keep them from searching the spa because why else would they if they weren’t looking for her, but it seemed to work out. Not sure if the masking she did with the scented products helped at all, but I figured I might as well try it.

Thought about doing other stuff with this, too. Calling her mom to set them on fire. Asking Lebeaux for a lift. Maybe staying in the closet would have worked and she’d have just listened to them leave. Not sure if reaching out to Benji was the right thing, even with Roxandra they’re still 3v4. Thought about calling Veronica, too, but imagine she’s less likely to show up for something like this. Not many of her other Allies are fighters. That’s why she called off Benji.

Drakon is pretentious as fuck and I’m so glad that Gui told him so.

Amused by Rod’s reaction to her text, how he vaguely talks about killing her, then texts back that of course he’s not. As if she couldn’t hear. Not that he knew, of course.

Celia VI, Chapter XIX
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