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Celia VI, Chapter XVI

Thugs & Snakes

“This whole thing. It’s just… it’s just sick. It’s like a scene out of Saudi Arabia."
Danielle Garrison

Sunday night, 20 March 2016, PM

GM: Celia sees the pair have arrived at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They look as if they are barely on time. The last attendees are already making their way inside.

Celia: “Oh look. We’re here. Mask up, Hannah. It’s showtime.”

GM: “Uh, gimme a bit to find a parking space, first.”

There’s no time. Rocco and Wright are both standing outside the cathedral doors. It looks like seconds until they close.

Celia: “No time.” Jade jerks the wheel into a handicapped space and throws it into park, then yanks the keys out of the ignition.

Let them ticket or tow her. She could use a mundane problem after the shitshow her Requiem has become.

She hauls Dani out of the car and throws her bodily over her shoulder, nudging the door shut with her heel before she takes off in a sprint, her clan’s preternatural speed turning her into a blur. Shadow obscures her face as she runs, natural darkness hiding her body, and any eyes peeking outside or down the block are strangely captivated by the large purple hat someone had drawn onto the side of a building, wondering what—

Well, it doesn’t matter what they wonder, by the time the thought finishes occurring Jade has cleared the doors and set Hannah down inside, pleased to deny the Guard a chance to slam them in her face.

Mask up, she reminds herself as they move forward. It’s showtime.

GM: Dani makes a surprised yelp as Jade hoists her up like a sack of potatoes.

The two hounds promptly seize the Toreador and her ‘ghoul’ and hold them fast as she blurs inside the cathedral, pinning their arms to their sides.

Celia: Were she less durable, being snatched out of her headlong flight might steal the breath from her lungs or leave her with a handful of broken bones and bruises. Captured by two of the Guard before she can even enter the building leaves her breathless for a different sort of reason, and this evening she’s glad for the mask wrapped so tightly against her skin.

“Good evening, Hound Agnello, Hound Wright.” Polite. Respectful. Deferential even, and not in the grudging way, the words accompanied by a dip of her head to both of them (even the baby-faced Gangrel that holds her arms to her sides, awkward though the motion is with him behind her).

GM: “Hey, turbo-racing inside church, that’s nice,” says Wright. He’s the one holding Hannah, who remains very still in the Brujah’s grip.

“Good evening, Miss Kalani,” says Rocco, who’s holding Jade, with a very mean-looking smile.

“Oh, you’re kidding! Kalani just broke the Masquerade!” exclaims Amaryllis, clearly relishing the chance to take a pot shot against Jade.

“Off with her head!” smiles Katherine Beaumont, no doubt equally relishing the chance to pounce on Veronica’s childe. “Right here in church, the gall! Really, what was she even thinking?”

“She wasn’t, obviously, the poor dear,” piles on Marguerite Defallier. “Really, Veronica, we’d expect yours to know better…”

The crowd ripples with predatory smiles and furious whispers.

Blood is scented in the air.

Celia: She wonders if, when she dies, it’ll be just her mortal life that flashes before her eyes, or if snippets of her Requiem will make the highlight reel as well. Her eyes sweep past the murder (as well they can given Beaumont’s bulk) to search the sea of sharks for a friendly-ish face.

GM: It’s a full house. The pews are packed with Kindred. All of Elysium’s regulars look as if they are there, and some non-regulars as well to boot.

Celia: Not that any of them will put their necks on the line for her. They’re not that sort. Even if they wanted to—why would they?—their own masks of cruelty or loyalty keep them firmly glued to their seats. She can hardly call on sire or grandsire to bail her out in front of the congregation.

Jade glances back toward the decidedly empty street in front of the church. Midnight on a Sunday, who do they really think she broke the Masquerade in front of? Especially with the streetlights out as they are.

Masks, though. There’s a thought.

Her eyes find Ryllie’s, lips pulling up at the corners in some amusement at the thought of the blood-bound trollop crying Masquerade breach.

Celia: “Darling, it’s dark outside, or didn’t you notice the streetlights are out? We might be able to see in pitch black, but the poor kine can’t. Hard to expose myself if I’m dancing through darkness isn’t it?” Her smile shows teeth. “Bit above your paygrade to cry foul on the Masquerade when there’s a regent to do it for you. Unless you’re implying you’re part of his krewe? But, ah, given your collar…” She trails off with a shrug.

Maybe she wouldn’t have noticed if Behemoth—er, Beaumont—hadn’t converged on her, but Jade’s eyes lock onto the form skulking behind the opera singer and the wheels in her head begin to turn.

Masks, indeed.

“Regardless,” Jade says, returning her attention to the pair of hounds, “I’d wanted to warn you privately, since so many already heard about those holes in your condom, but since you’ve denied me the opportunity… there’s a spy in your midst.”

Jade smiles winningly at the congregation.

“Hope no one has said anything particularly scandalous.”

GM: As soon as the words ‘Masquerade breach’ are out, they’re like blood in the water. All eyes within the cathedral hungrily rest upon the newest two entrants. For a moment, Jade wonders if she will be in the unenviable position of attempting to defend herself against the social onslaught. It is so much harder to prove innocence than guilt.

But this is why Jade Kalani and not Celia Flores wears the girl’s face. The Toreador’s confident smugness and assured demeanor, even manhandled as she is by the hounds, seems to give pause to the would-be shot-takers—pause enough for a second voice to interject.

“Hard indeed,” chuckles Antoine Savoy, rising from his seat. The elder Toreador is dressed tonight in a white leisure suit as he inclines his head towards the front of the cathedral. “I can attest as to Miss Kalani’s proficiency in occulto. I’m quite confident no kine saw her, and that Bishop Timotheus’ first tradition remains faithfully observed.”

“In the future, Miss Kalani, mindfulness of the hour would better facilitate your punctuality than Caine’s gifts,” rings an answering voice from the front of the cathedral.

Philip Maldonato stands behind the preacher’s pulpit, dressed for this evening in a double-breasted gray suit. Jade has rarely had cause to speak with the seneschal before, and according to Veronica, that state of affairs should suit her more than fine. The elder Cainite is a slender and exceedingly tall individual who stands around a head over most men. His skin is dusky and smooth, with only the merest hint of the wrinkles of age around his deep-set almond eyes. The Moor’s grave features could be carved from stone at Jade’s last words. Though his gaze initially meets Antoine Savoy’s, it finally turns to regard the younger Toreador.

“Mindfulness and piety would both have minimized your disruption to the evening’s proceedings, young one. You stand within a house of God. Comport your tongue appropriately if you wish to remain within His house.”

Celia: Maybe, she reflects as Savoy himself literally rises to her defense, maybe he likes her more than she’d feared after… well, after everything. Particularly after last night.

Any relief that thought brings is short-lived when the seneschal himself addresses her. Jade bows her head, eyes on the floor in a suitably subdued manner at the reprimand.

“Yes, Seneschal Maldonato. I apologize for the vulgarity of my statement.”

GM: The hounds release Jade and Hannah. The ‘ghoul’ masks it well enough if she’s afraid of the hounds, but still glances after her ‘domitor’.

Savoy, meanwhile, resumes his seat among the front-most pews, which also include Coco, Opal, Chastain, Accou, and Sundown. The Baron would doubtless have a place if he attended Elysium, and Gabriel Hurst enjoys one too, albeit by dint of his position than his own merit.

Jade’s sire stands behind the seneschal, cold and dark, along with the other priests—Elgin, Doriocourt, Morrow, d’Gerasene.

As ever, no recognition alights his frigid eyes.

The rows behind Savoy and his fellows include the harpies, regents, and other high-climbing ancillae. Behind them are the Natasha Prestons, Randolph Cartwrights, and Peter Lebeauxes—the Kindred at the middle of the pack. The rows behind them hold the more indolent ancillae and the neonates who’ve achieved something of worth with their Requiems—where Jade is expected to sit. The rows behind them, last of all among Kindred, are the nobodies and the nothings with nothing to their names. The ghouls sit behind these youngest of all vampires, divided into their own pecking order their masters care nothing for.

Celia: Her sire pretending not to know her? There’s a shock.

Licks who care more about preserving their delicate sensibilities over the word “condom” than a spy because a Bourbon pointed it out? Another shock. Christ, what a world they inhabit. It’s like the elders and ancillae who get their panties in a wad over being called “Ms.”

Jade nudges Hannah toward the man in the stolen mask, himself sitting at what she assumes to be the lower end of the pile of ghouls. The place where no Kindred would even bother to look because it’s so far beneath their purview.

Which, of course, makes it perfect for a spy.

She’s pleased with Hannah’s composure in the face of adversity, anyway. So far she’s been quick on the uptake. No doubt she’ll understand the role Jade intends for her by directing her toward the spy, who has a decidedly un-punchable face and thus can’t be Alan.

It’s a subtle gesture, the one she gives Hannah. A quick brush of her hand against the ghoul’s as if quite by accident, a tap, a second, a third on the center of her palm. It’s no Morse code, but it’s a signal all the same: three seats deep, that’s who he is.

Jade herself moves past the rows of ghouls and nobodies and takes the open seat next to the most indolent ancilla of them all, her favorite art thief in the whole wide world. She winks at him as she slides onto the pew beside him, then turns her eyes forward.

It’s going to be a very interesting Elysium.

Monday night, 21 March 2016, AM

GM: Donovan delivers the evening’s sermon. The sheriff is a powerful and resonant speaker, whose dark presence seems to fill the entire cathedral. The crowd hushes as though outside under a falling snow. Though Jade’s sire speaks at length, his words are clipped and his sentences are short. It feels like there is so much more he could say, making his chill words all the more precious for their seeming scarceness.

There is perhaps no one to whom they are more precious than Jade. She catches them like falling snowflakes, yet they chill her hands and are gone forever as soon as she does.

Donovan’s sermon chiefly concerns witch-hunters and the threat they pose to the Sanctified’s holy mission. The recently ordained father’s message centers around a passage from the Rule of Golgotha:

“Each one of us is but one starving wolf, culling sheep in the dead of night; through the fellowship of lance and of chapel are we brought together to serve a higher Purpose. Remember that one wolf may be bested by a single youth, but a pack of wolves strikes fear into even the strongest of warriors.”

Communion is administered to the faithful from a bled vessel with much pomp and ritual. No expression passes the face of Jade’s sire when he lets a droplet of transubstantiated vitae fall upon her tongue.

Maldonato convenes court when mass is concluded and announces with a heavy heart that Bishop Malveaux has met final death at the hands of witch-hunters.

The bishop perished nobly in the archdiocese’s defense and destroyed a cell of witch-hunters whose perfidious designs would surely have destroyed further Kindred. The hunters’ corpses are paraded before Elysium. The exsanguinated and barely alive survivors, whose blood was used in the week’s communions, are beheaded by Donovan.

Several Kindred with grudges against Bishop Malveaux were found to worked alongside the hunters, who used and manipulated them to help bring about the bishop’s final death. Each criminal is barefoot and clad in chains and sackcloths. Donovan executes each of them by beheading: Tina Baker, Allison Eskew, Desirae Wells, and Sterling (“The Man With The Silver Smile”).

There are plenty of faces in the crowd that do not look happy. Many, also, look relieved it wasn’t their heads on the chopping block.

Camilla Doriocourt, Maldonato announces, will succeed Bishop Malveaux as bishop. Her consecration will take place next week at the hands of Cardinal Arechavaleta.

Doriocourt is also formally granted permission on Prince Vidal’s behalf to sire a new childe.

Deacon Benson, Maldonato announces, will also be ordained as a priest next week, concurrently with Bishop Doriocourt and at the new bishop’s own hands.

Elsbeth von Steinhäuser and Erwin Bornemann proudly announce that a fledgling of their clan, Kyrstin Grey, successfully discovered the location of Josua Cambridge’s illicit sire, who was apprehended by the Guard de Ville (with further help from Grey). She is likewise dressed in chains and a sackcloth as she’s paraded barefoot before Elysium. She’s a tall, thin, and green-eyed girl who looks no older than 15. Jade has never seen her before.

Josua applauds Grey with the rest of Elysium, but anger smolders in his eyes at the sight of his sire. He and Grey will both be formally released next week; a great honor for both neonates, as Prince Vidal and Cardinal Arechavaleta will both be present to lead the ceremony.

Marcel asks if he might hold “this criminal”, who is named as Julia Cammeron, aboard the Alystra pending her execution next week. Maldonato briefly considers and grants the ex-prince’s request.

Father d’Gerasene, finally, is leaving New Orleans. The Nosferatu announces he has received a vision from one of the Black Saints calling him elsewhere “upon a holy errand” to do the Dark Prophet’s work. Maldonato states the prayers of the faithful will go with him.

Celia: Jade, like the rest of the Sanctified, follows the sermon closely, says the right words at the right time, and takes communion from Father Donovan. When the formality of mass is over and court begins she makes sure to keep a discrete eye on the man with the stolen mask so that any attempt to flee is waylaid.

Her primary attention, however, remains on the court proceedings. Interesting, isn’t it, how as soon as she cries foul on the bishop’s disappearance and points toward a suspect the Guard does everything in their power to wrangle up a handful of patsies. It must be coincidence that Preston’s claim about people missing from Elysium is so neatly wrapped with a bow by the offended party.

And she should have been up there. She doesn’t forget the snarling face of the Gangrel who had ambushed her right outside perceived safety, his weight on top of her pinning her to the ground. The snide remarks of the black hound, and the way one of his goons had fondled her while she lay helpless. Or the fire that licked across her skin for daring to call Savoy “Lord.” The bite of metal in her flesh for a lie that wasn’t a lie.

Up there, executed before the rest of the city. Head stolen from her neck by her own sire’s blade. Would he have felt something for her then? Lost his frosty composure in front of the rest of the city? Or would Savoy have found a way to bail her out, and if not would he have turned her into a martyr for his cause?

She does not look away from the executions, does not shrink or cower from what might have been. What might have been is not what is. She’d freed herself. Used her own tools to get out. Assisted, yes, but not rescued.

She is no longer a damsel.

So she watches, silent and still, and any who happen to look her way might see the curl to her lip as she takes in the Hardliners’ dog and pony show. Who exactly do they think they’re fooling?

The rest of court is unsurprising in that she knows what’s coming, though Grey had implied she’d be released this week rather than next, and Benson had said the same regarding her ordainment. The cardinal is a new twist, then.

So is Josua’s sire. No doubt Grey found the bitch using the blood she’d taken from him the night Jade had walked in on them fucking, much the same as Jade herself has used such things. An interesting turn of events, and one that she wouldn’t mind getting into once she hears that the sire will be held aboard Marcel’s boat. Perhaps she’ll finally get her painting back.

Speaking of licks doing the Guard’s job for them… Jade waits for the right moment to bring the spy forward.

GM: Jade sees the “spy” get up to leave with some other ghouls mid-way through court proceedings.

Celia: She’s just picking up on all sorts of sneaks lately, isn’t she.

Jade isn’t the only lick to rise when the assorted ghouls do, who are no doubt following their domitor’s lead. She meets Hannah’s gaze as she does, giving a terse nod as her lean legs, made longer by the heels, swallow the ground. They might not serve the kine very well, but Jade has never had a problem moving quickly in stilettos. Veronica had made sure of it.

Even so, her Beast salivates at the thought of giving chase to someone fleeing before it. It’s such a rare thing that she gets to pursue, such a rare thing indeed for the predator used to “ordering in.” It sends the blood spinning through her body, propelling her across the floor toward the breather like a fox towards its hare, eagerly anticipating the rich reward of blood in its fragile, human body.

Jade approaches the spy from behind and reaches out to snag him by the collar.

GM: The nondescript-looking man has fair skin, brown hair, brown eyes, and is dressed in black slacks and a white button-up. No one runs, just walks. Jade and Hannah catch up in time to snag him by the collar before he can exit the church’s double doors. The man freezes in place, but doesn’t cause a scene. Rocco and Wright trade looks.

Rocco walks up to the trio, smiles at Jade, and whispers,

“Unhand him, Miss Kalani, if you don’t want me to kill your ghoul later.”

He gently picks up Jade’s hand to remove it from the ‘ghoul’.

Celia: Slowly, Jade uncurls her fingers. For a brief moment it just looks like the pair are holding hands. She wonders if anyone sees. What they think, if they do. What rumors will spread from this.

“I’d wondered where he’s gotten to,” she says in a whisper, her smile positively feral. “Let me know if you’re swinging by, darling, I’ll leave the window open so we can have another tussle on the floor. Bring that big piece of wood again, hm? I’ll show you how to use it.” She winks. Then she’s gone, disappearing into the night with Dani at her heels to find the hunter on her own terms.

GM: “Oh, I think you’ll see me sooner rather than later, Miss Kalani,” smiles the hound as she makes good her exit.

Hannah follows after her ‘domitor’.

Celia: She waits until the doors close behind them to sigh at Hannah, linking her arm through the ghoul’s.

“He’s such a tease, sniffing after my panties like that. Stay with your brother tonight in case he’s decided to sack up. Now, let’s find our friend. He’s got a whole five second lead.”

GM: Hannah squints ahead as she follows after Jade.

“I can’t make out much.”

Apparently her kind can’t even see in the dark.

Celia: That’s inconvenient.

GM: The Toreador, however, hears footsteps coming from behind the cathedral.

Celia: “This way,” she murmurs, pulling Dani with her.

GM: Celia not only swiftly outpaces Dani and her quarry, but she blurs ahead of him in the building’s alleyway, largely ensconced from passersby.

The masked man looks her up and down.

“Bad idea.”

Celia: “Friends nearby, right?”

GM: “Walk away and you won’t get hurt.”

Celia: Jade’s eyes take in the shadows behind him. Unlike the kine, her kind can see perfectly in the dark. How many of them are there? How many waiting just around the corner? What is he going to do to her if she doesn’t back off? Saws? Fire? Another date with four sets of handcuffs, spread open on the bed for whoever wants to use her?

Jade bites her lip, playing the girl. Wide eyes fix on his face.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to corner you. I just—I had a question.”

For just a moment there’s a flicker of uncertainty on her face. For just a moment the hunter can see the girl hiding behind the monster, the young face of someone who was stolen from her prime. He’d heard the boy inside bully her, hadn’t he? How low on the food chain must she be that she’d slunk off with barely a response? How humane must she be to back off over the threat of that boy killing her companion?

Maybe she’s just looking for a friend. It’s not like she’d called him out when she’d had the chance. Maybe she thinks he’s someone else.

GM: The masked man’s impassive facade cracks. Doubt and sympathy swims in his eyes as his features soften.

“All right, but we can’t stay here. Come on.”

Celia: Jade nods, falling into step beside him. She casts a glance over her shoulder for Hannah.

“Sorry for grabbing you back there,” she murmurs, “I, um—you caught my eye when I came in, and—” she breaks off, looking down at the ground, cheeks flushing. “Sorry, this is really stupid. Can you—one sec, please, my friend’s not used to walking in heels—”

She peers through the darkness for Hannah.

GM: The ghoul is briskly making her way up to the two, heels clicking against the ground.

A small gray bird swoops past her head.

Celia: Rocco.

Jade slides her fingers through the hunter’s, smiling at him in a decidedly friendly manner. She gives him a “work with me” sort of warning look with her eyes, squeezing his hand.

“Found you,” she says to Hannah. “You were right. He said we can ride back with him. I told him how they were gonna slam the doors in our face if we didn’t park in the street, whoops.” She giggles. Hopefully he gets it.

GM: The bird lands and transforms into Rocco.

Hannah does her best not gawk.

The man’s body immediately tenses.

The hound smiles at Jade and her new friend.

“I don’t like you, Miss Kalani. I think I am going to hurt you,” he says cheerfully.

“Why don’t you grovel a bit if you want me to reconsider?”

Celia: Jade draws up short. Her fingers stiffen in the hunter’s hand.

“Hound Agnello. You did say you’d see me soon.” She forces a smile. “You took me from right outside the Evergreen last night. Silly of me to try to run for safety now, isn’t it?”

She takes a step forward, putting herself between the two “ghouls” and Rocco.

GM: “Very silly,” Rocco agrees, still smiling.

Celia: “If I get down on my knees for you, will you leave them alone?”

GM: “Maybe.”

Celia: “Darren,” she says over her shoulder, giving the hunter a name as fake as her own, “please ensure that Hannah arrives safely to the Quarter for me. Hannah, if the good hound here detains me this evening and you don’t hear anything further…” she glances at the girl, eyes swimming with… something, “will you tell him that I’m sorry? And that I still love him.”

Jade returns her gaze to the hound. She takes another step forward, arms at her sides and slightly away from her body, palms facing him. It’s a submissive, unarmed pose.

“Your companion burned me last night. Took my arm off with a saw. I had to confess that I had lied about the leak. Just like I lied about the spy.” She makes a sound that might be a laugh. It’s bitter. Maybe even nervous. “Of course no one fell for it. I can’t win against you, can I? And I’m so very, very tired of hurting.”

She sounds tired. Beaten. Defeated, even, and all he had to do was threaten her.

“I’m sorry I lied. It was dumb. Of course no one paid it any mind.”

Jade takes another step forward. Not so close that Agnello can touch her, not yet, but enough that she can lower her voice.

“Can I remove my dress, at least? Getting blood out of it is… well, you know.”

GM: The thin-blood looks between Jade and Rocco.

She’s seen what her brother can do, when his wrath is kindled.

She sees how afraid of this vampire Jade now looks.

Her jaw sets.

“No. I’m not leaving. If you want to hurt her… you’ll have to go through me, too.”

‘Darren’ also looks between Jade and Rocco.

He looks more like he’s thinking of bolting, only the Toreador’s supernal presence still holding his heart fast.

Something odd swims on Rocco’s face.

“You know, Miss Kalani, when I was a young boy, a policeman caught me doing, I don’t remember what, something for the Mafia,” he remarks as he strolls up to Jade. “Something bad. But he thought I was poor and hungry, which I was, so he offered me a job as a janitor. Instead of arresting me. He said he’d help me become a cop too, when I was old enough. He told me how proud I could make my mother.”

He looks wistfully ahead.

“It was the kindest thing someone ever did for me.”

“It was the kindest thing I saw someone ever do.”

“So you know what I did?”

Celia: Jade thinks about arguing with Hannah. Telling her to run. To take Darren and bolt. But then Rocco moves and her eyes stay centered on him, unblinking, unwilling to look away while he stalks closer.

She thinks she knows this story.

But she shakes her head anyway, hoping that she’s wrong. Hoping that this retelling will have a different ending.

GM: The hound’s wistful gaze looks past Jade. For a moment, he doesn’t seem to see her. He doesn’t seem to see anything. He looks lost amidst the ghosts of the past, burdened by a guilt no amount of time can lift from his shoulders—and a Toreador’s manipulations can make so much heavier.

“I killed him.”

Cat-quick, Rocco whips around, seizing Jade by the throat and slamming her back-first against the cathedral’s exterior. Claws so like the Toreador’s own dig into her skin.

“And I liked him a lot more than you.”

Celia: She’d waited too long. Waited too long to hit him with the rest of the manipulation she’d planned, thinking that she wouldn’t have to, that she’d found the memory to tug at to make him feel ashamed for what he wants to do to her when he’s already won, when he’d already beaten her yesterday.

She can’t take him in a fight. She knows that. Knows Dani isn’t going to lend much help even with her borrowed speed. And who knows how long ‘Darren’ will wait before bolting.

What will the hunter do to Hannah if Jade’s charm fades from his mind, if his heart is his own once more? Tear her apart?

“Please,” she whispers, voice strangled by the hold he has on her throat. All she needs is a minute. Just a single moment to hit the hunter with goodwill for Hannah. To make him think that she’s his friend, too. To make sure that he doesn’t hurt her if Jade loses right here. She sends it toward him with her eyes locked on Rocco’s face, shrinking back from him as best she can.

“Please,” she says again, “you—you can—you can pay it forward, here, now.”

She thinks, maybe, it worked. But all she can see in front of her right now is Rocco’s snarling face, claws extended, and she knows there are rules for this sort of thing but she’s so frazzled she can’t think straight and if those two don’t get out of here right now she’s not going to be able to help them. Just go. Run. Then she’ll take her beating, let him assert his dominance, beat his chest if that’s what he really wants.

She only needs to distract him a minute so they can run.

GM: ‘Darren’ looks towards Dani. His unconcerned face, at least towards her, becomes a mask of exactly the opposite.

Rocco laughs cruelly.

“I can, Miss Kalani. I will. By punishing the enemies of our prince!”

Viciously large, knife-sized claws sprout from his other hand, then slash towards Jade’s face.

There’s a sudden crack as a second hand seizes Rocco’s and smashes it into the wall.

“I agree with what you said earlier, Hound Agnello,” says Roderick as his form blurs to a stop.

“I like that policeman a lot more than you, too.”

Rocco tugs his arm, but can’t break the Brujah’s iron grip.

He heaves a needless sigh.

“Mr. Durant, I have two hands. If you don’t let go of that one, I will use the other to beat you into torpor. Then I will kill your ghouls.”

“I’m doing you a solid, Hound Agnello,” answers Roderick.

“Has Kalani here actually done anything? You’re just going to give the Anarchs and Bourbons more ammunition to rail against the prince’s tyranny.”

“So what if they do?” says Rocco.

Celia: She’d wanted to make the joke earlier, on her way in. Something about his two brain cells rubbing together and letting his master do all the heavy lifting for him. She’d refrained. Now, though, she wonders if she was more right than she knew.

Still pinned beneath the Gangrel’s claws, Jade’s voice comes out strained.

“So the temporary satisfaction you’ll get from beating me again isn’t worth the loss of face the Hardliners will take if the Anarchs stir up enough shit about you torping their golden boy.”

GM: Guilt wars in the hound’s eyes.

Guilt at failing his prince.

“I think you had better do something for me, Miss Kalani, if you want to escape a beating,” he declares. “This hasn’t been very satisfying.”

Celia: “That thing I owe,” Jade says, “I’ll give it to you and you can hold it over Doriocourt’s head.”

GM: The hound lets go of Jade’s throat.

“Give it to me,” he smiles, holding out his hand.

He looks at Roderick. The Brujah lets go of his arm.

Celia: “It’s not done yet.”

GM: “You are going to give me something, Miss Kalani, if you want me to leave you alone,” Rocco declares cheekily.

Roderick makes a sound of disgust.

“What about her lunch money?”

Celia: Jade considers the hound for a long moment. Finally she reaches into her purse, pulls out a slip of paper, and writes down a phone number. She hands it over.

GM: Rocco effects another sigh.

“Miss Kalani, you really must give me something better than that.”

“I am feeling a bit peckish, in fact.”

“Perhaps I’ll take a drink from your ghoul.”

He turns around.

Celia: “No.”

“Not from her.”

GM: As Jade follows his gaze, she sees that ‘Darren’ is gone.

Doubtless, the arrival of a third vampire would have convinced the hunter it was high time to bolt off.

Celia: Well. Fuck.

GM: Rocco stalks up to Hannah and seizes her in his arms. She jerks and flails, eyes wide, but doesn’t scream.

Celia: “She’s got Hep C, Agnello. It might not kill you, but it’ll knock you on your ass for a while.”

“You want a drink, I’ll bleed into a damn cup for you.”

GM: Rocco makes a sound of disgust and roughly shoves Hannah face-first onto the pavement. She groans beneath him.

Roderick’s face is deathly still, but Jade can see the violent impulse in his hands. The way they ball into fists. It will take little provocation to kindle the Brujah clan’s legendary wrath.

“I don’t think I want you to give me anything, Miss Kalani,” declares the hound.

“You are too pathetic to take anything from.”

“You have nothing that I want to take.”

Celia: Jade’s lips flatten. She lets him see the hurt in her eyes. Carefully manufactured hurt, as if his words have any effect on her. She looks down. It’s a submissive sort of gesture, letting him kick her around and declare that she’s got nothing worth taking without even talking back.

She does it for them. Not for her. Alone, she’d mouth the fuck off to this asshole and tell him where to shove it. But to prevent Roderick from getting into trouble for attacking a hound, to keep Dani safe? She’ll shut up and take his anger and pretend his empty words mean anything at all to her.

Last night she might have flinched at the word “pathetic.” Since then her skin has hardened. The word does not hurt her as it had when Preston said it. Rocco means nothing to her, and so he cannot hurt her. But she can pretend. She’s so very good at it. And there’s power in being beneath notice. She hides there, knowing that this isn’t the end for them.

She’ll see him again. Somewhere when there’s no rules, when there aren’t dozens of licks nearby waiting for any excuse to rip her apart. She’ll see him again and she will pay back every insult.

Monday night, 21 March 2016, AM

GM: Roderick doesn’t linger after a gray bird flies off from where Rocco once stood. The Brujah loudly proclaims Jade owes him a boon, for having “done her a solid” keeping the hound from carving her up. Footsteps are audible leaving the cathedral. Roderick joins them. Dani picks herself up.

“What a fucking asshole,” she mutters.

“What a… what a bully.

Celia: “Mm,” Jade says in response, offering the girl a hand up. She doesn’t let her eyes linger on Roderick’s departing form, instead turning from him to walk with Dani back the way they’d been heading earlier. “Yeah. It’s like that.”

“Tried to buy you time to run,” she says, giving Dani a sidelong look.

GM: “I don’t want to be someone who runs when people are in trouble.”

Celia: “I know. I just… he’d, uh, he’d rip you apart is all, and he’d be within his right to do so.”

GM: “Yeah, I kinda figured he could after Stephen threw me around like a stuffed animal.”

“But he didn’t.”

Celia: “Timely interference.”

“Thought Darren might stick around to help, three on one is better odds.”

GM: “Uh, so what exactly was going on there?”

Celia: Jade glances around, as if looking for someone listening in.

She lowers her voice.

“Spy. Pretty sure.”

GM: “Oh. Good. I swiped his wallet.”

Celia: Jade beams at Dani.

“Let’s find him, then.”

GM: Dani smiles back. “Right now, though?”

“It is a school night for me.”

Celia: Which reminds her…

“Ah, you’re right, I need to head home actually. Come on, let’s get outta here. We can dig something up during the day and look tomorrow.”

GM: “Okay, sounds good,” says Dani, setting off with her.

“And can you pencil me in for a Flawless appointment sometime?”

Celia: “Of course.”

GM: “Awesome,” she smiles. “Doesn’t need to be during normal hours if you’re seeing your, ah, herd then.”

Celia: “Figured.” Jade smiles at her. “That bully, by the way, was the one who nabbed me last night.”

“And kept me from meeting with you.”

GM: “Wow. What the fuck is his problem?”

Celia: “I implied there was a security leak with the Guard. You saw them execute those licks tonight, the ones who they say killed the bishop? Yeah. Probably had nothing to do with it. Hardliners just wanted to give the city a scapegoat.”

GM: “Yeah,” Dani says quietly.

She looks a little sick at the memory.

“That was…”

She leaves it at that.

Celia: Jade only nods. She knows what Dani means. She takes her hand, giving it a squeeze.

“That’s why I’m so protective of you. And my family. I was picked up for saying the wrong thing. They were going to kill me tonight with the others.”

GM: “Oh my god.”

“This whole thing. It’s just…”

“It’s just sick.

“It’s like a scene out of Saudi Arabia.”

“Stephen warned me it would be like this.”

Celia: “It’s hard to be in this world and remain a good person. I hope you hold onto it for a long time. And that… that he can find his way back to it.”

GM: Dani gives that last statement a look, but says,

“I’m gonna head home. This makes me want to spend some time with my dad.”

“It makes me feel good about having a dad.”

Celia: Jade doesn’t push the subject. She only reminds Dani to change before she heads out and to make sure she takes the mask off. She takes the wallet off Dani’s hands but lets her take a photo of the relevant things inside if she wants (since she doesn’t have a phone it makes more sense that she takes the physical stuff).

GM: As the two arrived together in Jade’s car, they take it back to her now (possibly compromised) haven. Dani changes there, surrenders the wallet, takes the photo, and heads home for Uptown.

She hugs Celia before she takes off.

“Love you. Spend some time with your family, too. It isn’t… I can’t imagine what it’s like, to have nothing except… that.”

Celia: Celia nods her head. “I’m on my way over there, to be honest. Mom said she’d wait up. Love you too, Dani. Travel safe, yeah?”

GM: “I will,” Dani smiles. “Tell her hi from me.”

Celia: “Of course.”

Monday night, 21 March 2016, AM

Celia: Veronica had taken her to Chakras once a few years ago. She knows it as a club, a tamer, more mild version of the Dungeon (if Caroline can be believed), and knows too that this is where the snakes inside the Quarter can be found. She goes as Dicentra, obscuring her face through the crafting of flesh that she has become so adept at in the past few years, with the usual black leathers pulled over that. A mask over a mask.

Dicentra has a reason to visit the Setites, doesn’t she. She’d done the work for the new one; she can say, if they ask, that it’s the reason she has come now, to call in the favor that he owes. Dicentra, too, seemed to amuse or at least arouse the lick that she seeks out now, and she searches for the woman with the poison eyes.

GM: The inside of the club resembles a lounge and art gallery. Everything is in black and dark red. There’s modern abstract art and iron sculptures along the walls, and a fully-stocked bar. Comfortable leather seats over places to sit down and discuss the art over drinks.

The sculptures nag at Dicentra, though, the longer she stares at them. There’s a looming, grasping quality to their distinctly alien shapes. They seem humanoid, at first, but there’s a distinctly serpentine cast to their posture and anatomy, like they might silently coil around the room’s patrons as they drink their fine drinks and discuss the meanings behind abstract art.

She says yes, there are ways to protect against the theft of souls. There are protections against everything

Celia: “How?”

GM: Camille smiles at the night doctor.

“That knowledge has a price.”

Celia: Knowledge always has a price.

“Name it.”

GM: “Favorss,” says Camille.

Celia: Dicentra doesn’t miss the hissed S at the end of the word “favor.” She had expected as much. She asks for a firm number. Like any Kindred, she hates surprises about owed boons.

GM: “We can start with the face underneath those supple, leather-clad curves.”

Celia: The question about her identity doesn’t faze her. People have wanted to rip off the mask since the moment she put it on.

She only hopes that this is worth it.


GM: “Very interesting,” the Setite replies with another smile. “I’ll have to think of ways to utilize your unique talents.”

She continues that just like there are multiple ways to re-sculpt someone’s face, and many faces to re-sculpt them into, there are multiple ways to steal someone’s soul. Is there a particular means of attack which Dicentra is looking to defend against?

Celia: Dicentra—or Jade, as she’s been outed—asks if she’s willing to expand on that at all. “On how many ways there are to seal souls,” she clarifies.

GM: “There are obviously multiple ways to kill someone,” answers Camille, “but even using the same weapon, there are multiple ways to stab someone with a knife, multiple ways to shoot someone with a gun, and so many different knives and guns. It’s the same with means to steal souls. So it’s all a question of what you are looking to defend against.”

Celia: It’s not the sort of thing that Jade wants to own up to knowing, is it. Beneath the leathers her lips curve into a smile, letting the Setite hear the coyness in her voice—as if it’s nothing more than simple curiosity.

“Multiple ways? How fascinating. What are those?”

GM: “That knowledge isn’t free, either.”

Camille smiles knowingly.

“But then, I doubt you would be here without some idea of what you were looking for.”

Celia: Caught. She inclines her head.

“The direct consumption of the soul from one entity to another.”

GM: The knowing smile looks even more knowing at that.

“Yes. There is a defense.”

“Who do you want to protect?”

Celia: “Does the kevlar vest work differently from one person to the next?” Jade cants her head to one side. Beneath the mask Camille can see the amused flash of her eyes when they catch the light. “It seems that no matter who wears it the bullet will be stopped.”

GM: “Kevlar must be fitted to one’s body and measurements. A good fit for one person may be a poor fit for another.”

“But if you don’t care about getting the size right, it’s no concern of mine.”

“Come to the Dungeon in a few nights.” The Setite’s tongue dabs her lips.

It doesn’t look forked.

“Bring the person you want to defend, or if they’re Kindred, a vitae sample connected to them. The stronger the sympathetic connection, the more effective the protection will be.”

Celia: That causes her some hesitation.

“Will it not work right if you don’t know?”

GM: “As I said. Kevlar without a body measurement. It can still work, for someone it’s too big or small for. It’s just less effective.”

Celia: “How much less effective?”

GM: “How much less effective is improperly fitting Kevlar? It depends who’s wearing it and how improper the fit is.”

Celia: There’s no delicate way to phrase it. Jade says, as best she can, that she’s concerned the identity of the Kindred in question will result in concern on Camille’s end. Another minor concern is that others will find out what she has done and who for.

GM: Camille shrugs. “Kevlar doesn’t care about privacy. If it’s too big, or too small, it won’t be as useful. It’s your choice if that potential trade-off is worth it or not.”

Celia: Silence stretches between them.

“I’ll need to think further on that,” she finally says. “I have the sample you need now, though.”

Calder: So much the better. Come to the Dungeon a little sooner

Celia: “Will they know what I’ve done? Once this is finished. Will they feel it?”

GM: Only if they come along, or find out she has their blood

Celia: “Will you tell me anything else about it? What it entails? What I need to prepare myself for? How it works?”

GM: Camille faintly smirks.

“Would Dicentra like to tell me how she alters flesh?”

Celia: Jade shakes her head. “I don’t want to steal the recipe. I only want to know how it all comes together.”

GM: The smirk stays in place.

“I don’t want to steal the recipe, either. I just want to know how it all comes together. Surely you’ll satisfy my curiosity.”

Celia: “That isn’t what I meant,” she says with an effected sigh. “I only want to know what I’m walking into. But I won’t press the matter further.”

There’s a long moment of silence. Doubts surface within her, words that everyone knows: all knowledge comes with a price. All power, too. She’d traded herself once for power, had traded her life to protect her mother. How could she do no less for him?

“Will I need to die for this to work?” A quiet question, mind already working through the affairs she will need to settle.

GM: There’s another smirk.

“I’d hardly expect any Kindred to be so self-sacrificing.”

Celia: She shouldn’t be this relieved, should she, that she won’t need to give up the rest of her Requiem for him.

“And once they’re protected, what happens when they die?”

GM: “Their soul passes through the Gates of Guinee, like any other, and eventually reaches the deep waters.”

Celia: Guinee. She’s not as versed in African mythologies as she is many others, but the word itself, she knows, is connected to voodoo. No wonder Pete had directed her to the Baron’s people when she’d asked about soul magic; no doubt they would be able to answer her questions. Whether or not they would, though, is a different matter.

Gates, though. Like the gates to the underworld. Almost every mythology and religion has them. She’d spoken of them to Bornemann just the other night when he’d grudgingly given her tiny tidbits of information about demons.

“The gates exist to separate the realms. They stand between the precipice of death and the afterlife. Ancient Mesopotamians had seven of them. To keep bad things inside the City of Dust, they said. The Greeks and Romans had gatekeepers. Cerberus. Half-breeds. Monsters meant to frighten. Ancient Egyptians believed in a series of gates and tests to reach the Field of Reeds. Zoroastrianism has the bridge. Even Christians have the pearly white before you reach Heaven.”

Jade pauses, considering. She’d seen a ghost come back. But asks. Because she has to be sure.

“Is the soul stuck there? Can it be brought back?”

GM: “The ancestors’ souls regularly leave Guinee. The barriers between the lands of the living and the lands of the dead are thin in this city. Any medium can communicate with a departed soul. Any mambo, houngan, or follower of les invisibles can offer themselves as a cheval for the departed soul to ride.”

Celia: “Lands of the dead. The Shadowlands, you mean. Is that where a Kindred’s soul goes when we die, as well?”

GM: “You ask a complex question with an even more complex answer. Kindred souls are not as kine souls. But the simplified answer is, essentially, yes.”

Celia: “And the complex answer?”

GM: A smile.

“That’s not free, either.”

Celia: A faint smile, not that anyone can see beneath the leather.

“No,” she agrees, “I had not thought it would be. I will pay for the answers you provide me.” No doubt Camille will find herself vastly ahead when this exchange is over.

“The Sanctified say that we will burn in Hell for our sin. Because we are damned by God. Is that your ‘deep waters,’ Hell?”

GM: “People are infinitely complex, yet the Sanctified would posit two or three afterlives into which they can be neatly and infallibly sorted.”

“The deep waters are the deeper realms of Guinee, where all souls eventually go. They are cold and damp. Souls there complain often of hunger. But they are no more places of eternal torment or eternal reward than the world we inhabit.”

Celia: “A different sort of Hell, perhaps. Another word for the same concept.” A pause, then, “Do they come back from there at all? A Tremere told me that Hell is a one way trip. That though there are legends surrounding the idea of coming back, but that’s all they are. Legends. If this deep water follows the same idea, then once a soul reaches the waters there is no return?”

GM: Camille shrugs. “As much a hell as this life is. It’s not out to get you. It’s not out to pamper you. It simply is.”

“Souls come and go from Guinee’s deep waters regularly. There’s ample evidence it’s real.”

“I’ve seen no evidence that Hell is anything more than a fable.”

Celia: The words of Camille and the words of Bornemann contradict each other. But she had said the same thing to the Tremere inside the chantry, citing lack of evidence, and been all but scoffed at for it.

“Perhaps this is outside your wheelhouse,” she hedges, tired of trying to mince words, “the Tremere and I had discussed the origins of demons. He said Hell. You would say where, then?”

GM: “The souls of the dead can wield great powers, wear monstrous countenances, and engage in terrible cruelties, if that’s the kind of person their experiences have made them.”

“I’ve seen no proof that Christian demons are a distinct order of entity from such souls.”

Celia: There’s a longer pause at that.

“You would say that demons are just… tortured souls.” She looks to Camille for confirmation. “That would make sense, then, why both are repelled by salt.”

GM: “I would.”

Celia: They’ve gotten off topic and she isn’t sure what to make of this conflicting information. She has seen ghosts, but she has not seen demons (except that thing in her mind that night in the sky, but perhaps that wasn’t a demon after all?), and there are plenty of things in this world that appear as something other than what they are, that people believe are different than their true self.

She should know.

Finally, Jade does something that no lick likes to do: she tells the truth.

“I believe that the soul I am interested in protecting is in danger. Should they die, I wish to bring them back to a body.” Jade fixes her eyes on the Setite, unflinching.

“Is it possible? If the Kindred meets final death and their soul is protected, is it possible to locate the soul in Guinee and summon it back into a body?”

A brief pause follows the bald question, and Jade softens her voice as she continues.

“You brought back Emmett. He was dead. In the Shadowlands. You brought him back and he’s a lick now. But he was human before he died.”

GM: “That answer isn’t free, either.”

Celia: Her heart threatens to do that thing it sometimes does. If the answer were “no,” she’d just say, wouldn’t she? That it’s different because he was mortal?

“I’ll pay.” No hesitation.

It has to be possible. Bornemann only didn’t know because he’d never looked, never done the actual legwork, just experimented behind the safety of the walls in the little room inside the chantry and read what other people discovered, as if that’s the only way to do things. He’d never gotten his hands dirty. He took the book learning route like everyone else.

But Jade is used to getting her hands dirty. She’s been doing it since her Embrace. Roderick might scoff at her online degree but she’d ripped apart more bodies than any med student she knows, has experimented and altered flesh and sculpted things to find out the “why” rather than relying on what she read in some book. She’s had blood and muscle and viscera beneath her pretty nails because she can go further than the researches because she doesn’t have to adhere to ethics boards and morality and the laws of the land. Like the Nazi soldiers, or the Japanese during WWII. Their findings had been thrown out, sure, lack of proper procedure. But she’s not careless about it, like them. She doesn’t make those same mistakes.

It’s like she’d said to North: her work is flawless.

GM: “Emmett only died once,” answers Camille, “to pass the Gates of Guinee. I didn’t actually bring him back. I just turned his death into another type of death, and imbued him with the divine power stolen from Damballah’s heart. What the Sanctified would term the Curse of Caine.”

“A Kindred who meets final death has died twice. Their soul returns to the deep waters, for that is where all souls go, but I know of none that have returned to the world of the living.”

“Maybe the Ghede think two deaths is enough.”

Celia: She was wrong.

She was wrong, because Camille has told her no. She has said it in flowery language, has dressed it up in makeup and heels, but the meaning is very clear: final death is final.

She deflates.

“You said that they come back,” she presses, grasping for a sliver of hope. “The souls can come back from Guinee, even from the deep water. Mambos offer their body to be ridden. So the soul can come back, it just can’t stay. The veil is thin here. It could be thinner elsewhere? Somewhere that they could come back? Or… what if someone went into the deep waters to fetch them out, rather than trying to call them from afar?”

GM: Camille smiles.

“You care about them a lot to be grasping at straws that thin.”

Celia: How can she explain that he is the center of her universe? That without him she is nothing, no one, just a physical body with no soul of her own? How can she say she will move mountains and journey into Hell itself to get him back if that is where they go, because even though Camille and Bornemann think it is impossible to bring someone back the myths of religions say otherwise? Odysseus went into the Underworld and returned. Aeneas went into the Underworld and returned. Lazarus was brought back to life by Christ, Dorcus and Eutychus by his followers. Osiris was torn into twelve pieces and his lover recovered the pieces, his child found the spell that would put him back together again.

What is she, if not his lover and childe both?

She cannot say that she loves him. Kindred do not love. Not like she does. It is her curse and blessing both, hers alone to bear. She only nods.

“Is it possible? Just because you haven’t heard of anyone specifically… is it still possible? A lick’s soul riding a mambo. A lick traveling into the deep water to bring them out.”

GM: Camille gives her an amused smile.

“Kindred have already died once, gone through the Gates of Guinee once, and returned from the lands of the dead once.”

“You paid for what I know. That’s what I know. There’s no one who’s broken the rules twice.”

Celia: It’s not the answer she wants.

Once more, the wind has gone from her sails. She is glad for the mask that obscures her visage. Glad that Camille cannot see the despondent look that sweeps across her face.

“And there’s no one else who might know more?”

GM: “Nobody I know.”

Celia: That’s it, then. Dead end. Licks don’t come back from the dead. That’s why they call it final, isn’t it?

She’d hoped that this, too, would be an area where Camille and Bornemann differed.

“This protection,” she finally says, the words themselves an effort. “It’s not going to turn the person human or make them weaker or more vulnerable to final death? There’s no drawback for the person who receives it? No price they have to pay?”

GM: “Of course not,” says Camille. “That would rather defeat the point of any protection, wouldn’t it?”

Celia: “And if someone attempts to consume their soul, the soul won’t be destroyed? It will go to Guinee?”

GM: “Correct,” says Camilla. “The one who consumes the soul won’t get anything except a full meal—of vitae—for their trouble.”

Celia: “I have the sample already,” she says again, “can we do it tonight?”

GM: Camille smiles.


Celia: “I have another question. Unrelated.”

GM: Camille seems always happy to make deals.

Celia: Jade tells her about Marcel.

The casino boat prince has a playmate that he claims was attacked by Setites. She has been torpored and will not rise through the usual methods. He has promised Jade a significant talisman if she can lift her from torpor. She has plans for him. Future plans, that will be benefit from this gesture of goodwill if she can do this thing for him. If she is able to lift Marie from torpor and pull off these plans, she believes the throne will be weakened and leave Lord Savoy in a more powerful position. Should he take over, there is no reason that Camille’s clan will continue to be actively hunted.

“Can you help?”

GM: Camille listens to that, then asks simply,

“What’s in it for me?”

Celia: “Luck,” she says simply. “The talisman provides good luck. I have experienced it firsthand. I had intended to put it inside a mortal vessel and could arrange feeding for you, as drinking the mortal’s blood will transfer the luck. But it may be easier just to put it into a talisman. When you carry it, you get good luck. Things go your way. Cars will swerve around you in traffic. Bullets will whizz right past your head, or ricochet back at your attackers. You will win the games you play.”

GM: “How useful-sounding. No catches, side effects, restrictions?”

Celia: That information isn’t free, she wants to say.

“Superstitions that affect luck will affect the user. Salt. Ladders. Broken mirrors. Black cats. The talismans also have a habit of being lost after a while.”

A fanged smile from beneath the mask.

“I would offer to craft it into or onto you. Less chance of it walking away, I’d think.”

GM: “Mmm. I’ll think it over,” says the Setite.

Celia: I’ll think it over. Familiar words. The same she’d said to Camille when the Setite had asked about the soul Jade wants to protect.

For long moments she is silent.

She doesn’t see the whole picture. She knows that she doesn’t have all the pieces. But she remembers the Ventrue’s words about the Dungeon, remembers her own possibly wild theory that he serves the thing resting beneath the Dungeon, the thing that Vidal defeated twice. She knows he has no loyalty to the prince. And she knows that Savoy, too, wants to get rid of Vidal. He’d told her they’re not working together. But it could have been a lie, couldn’t it? Because she doesn’t need to know, and how often had Pete and others told her that licks only share what others need to know? Would it have benefitted him at all to tell her if he and his sire were working together? Or did he rightly assume that she would find a way to jeopardize it?

And that thing in his mind, the monstrous scenes she had seen… that’s beneath the Dungeon, isn’t it? And the Dungeon is here, in Savoy’s territory, and that is where Camille wants to take her, to that twisted hellscape of pleasure and pain and deviant behavior.

He’d told her not to trust Savoy.

And Savoy had told her not to trust the Setites.

But Caroline had told her that he’d arranged for her to be taken to the Dungeon. Because they were allies? Or because he knew they’d kill her?

It might be a mistake. Or it might be a boon.

Indecision wars within her.

She’s too trusting. She knows that. She overshares. She knows. Just look at what had happened with her mother. Look at her conversation with Roderick. Look at… god, anything. Is this just another mistake? Another episode where she’ll wish she had kept quiet instead of blurting her secrets to the world?

How will Camille use it against her, if she says? Or how will she assist, if her theories and thoughts and plans are true?

Camille thinks he can’t come back. Bornemann thinks he can’t come back. But eternity in the deep waters is better than his soul being consumed and destroyed, isn’t it? The ability to maybe someday reach him, to find someone who knows more, who has been further… there are other supernaturals in this world, others who might have better answers, other licks who are more learned than those in this city. She can find them. Can find her own way to him should the worst come to pass.

She has to make sure that he survives first.

“You asked earlier,” she finally says, “who it is.” Another pause. Then, “the sheriff.”

GM: Camille makes a tsk-tsking noise with her tongue.

“And what does a good little Top Shelf Bourbon care about the big bad sheriff losing his soul, mmm?”

Celia: It’s not what she says. It’s how she says it. Jade knows that she had taken a gamble and she had lost, and she begins to question everything she thought she knew. She was wrong.

But she smiles. Because her will is stronger than this snake’s, and she will not be denied what she came for.

The occlusion of the truth comes naturally to Jade, and combined with her charm, well, who can resist? It seeps out of her, drifting like a mist from her very pores to ensnare Camille in its grasp. Then laughter, light and airy, dismissing the very absurd notion that Jade cares one whit for the sheriff. He’s Vidal’s number three man and Jade is the good little Top Shelf Bourbon that Camille just said; why on earth would she want to protect him?

“I’m in love with him,” she says, with a tilt of her head and a smile half again as wicked as she is. Her tone doesn’t give it away. Not until she follows it up, pausing just long enough, with a derision-dipped, ”Obviously.”

She giggles.

Nothing but a joke. And Camille almost thought she was serious.

How silly.

GM: The Setite looks at Jade.

A moment passes.

What will Camille do if this doesn’t work?

This is her home territory. She has servants here. Maybe there’s other Setites here. Maybe they won’t let Jade leave.

Maybe they’ll still send her to the Dungeon. As a plaything.

Maybe they’ll do who only knows what.

Can Jade take them?

Her own words echo in her head.

The sheriff.

Stupid, whispers a bald man.

The Setite looks at Jade.


Her lips quirk.

“Run along, now. Show up in something sexy for the club.”

Celia: Jade winks. She thanks Camille for her time and promises to do just that.


Calder Feedback Repost

Some preemptive GM feedback:

The Spy

Catching the spy outside Elysium instead of causing a scene there was smart. Best case scenario, you prove he’s hunter, the Sanctified haul him a to a dark room to interrogate, and you get nothing out of him.

That’s assuming you do prove it. Sunday Elysium are the Hardliners’ home court, and they have every reason to sabotage Jade’s efforts and refuse to admit there’s a hunter. Even if you do convince them (and that’s a tall order, Jade lied about stuff like this at the last Elysium), they still have incentive not to publicly admit a hunter got in, and to just bag the guy outside. Then they can haul him off to a dark room to interrogate and still save face publicly.

So good call just bagging him yourself. That was not only a more favorable contest (Jade vs. Rocco instead of Jade vs. all the Hardliners), it also had the potential for bigger payoff, since you could haul off the guy to a dark room to interrogate.

Social Investment

Several points in this log where Celia’s significant investment in Social Attributes/Skills paid off:

* Previously befriending Dani and getting her to stick by Celia despite whatever she’s heard from Roderick.
* Rolling high enough on your “Hannah is HIV positive” Subterfuge roll to convince Rocco not to feed on Hannah.
* Rolling an ex success on that same roll and convincing him to leave you alone, instead of extorting you for something else. (Rocco walked away from the Jade encounter without actually getting anything.)
* Rolling an ex success on the Confidant/Behind the Throne roll so that Dani was able to swipe the guy’s wallet.

This wasn’t directly Celia, but having a Mentor who spoke up for her in Elysium also came in handy. That sort of usage is a fairly iconic one for Mentors. Not adventuring alongside you and personally killing your enemies, but helping you in a social venue like Elysium where elders hang out.

Spiffying Up The Log

Homework assignment for this log. LoggerBot was down when the Jade entering Elysium message got deleted, so much appreciated if you can rewrite that.

Celia VI, Chapter XVI

Emily Feedback Repost

Ah, I’ll add the deleted message.


Tbh was not fun being “late” to Elysium after both Celia and Dani had been keeping an eye on the time, and the response from the hounds and the rest of the gathering left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. I understand they’re out to get Jade, but the whole thing felt kind of unnecessary to me. Probably wouldn’t have been as frustrated about it if she’d been held outside rather than in, giving her a chance to explain privately (or be turned away), but that’s alright. Think she handled it okay. Second time she’s shown up Ryllie, so that’s nice. Thought it was super cool that Savoy stood up for her. I thought that was the ex-success from her roll but you said being able to stay was, which took me by surprise and makes me rethink what Savoy thinks of her. Not sure if it would have been as effective to have anyone else stand up for her, which shows the social power he wields even though he’s an “enemy.” It’s cool to see. Cool for the rest of the Kindred to see Savoy sticking up for her, too. Dunno if it’ll have any effect on anything, but I thought it was a nice touch.

I thought Jade’s response here was clever, anyway. I know I got feedback on it and all, but it was very Jade feeling. Putting down Ryllie, not apologizing for her actions, not showing fear, implying the Guard didn’t do it’s job again. Not sure where that Dec is going to go, but looking forward to finding out.

Thanks for keeping Elysium brief for me. I like the additions you made about Donovan’s speech. Very appropriate. Some cool stuff afoot, I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. Curious as to what it’ll look like if [STUFF] happens before then.

The Spy

Celia’s rollin’ well for Perception lately. That’s nice. Had Advantage here but didn’t need it. Think it might have been more of a “victory” for Jade here if she’d called out the hunter in front of everyone, but wanted to question him on my own so let him go. Also just wanted to get out of Elysium at this point tbh. Was kind of turbulent OOC. Should have assumed Rocco would follow her if she took off to follow the dude, shame that it went down like it did.

Thought she played it well with “Darren” here at least. Or… rolled well with Presence anyway. Been a while since we’ve seen her use it, I think. But combined with good tactics, right? Yeah? Maybe? I think so.

Rocco Stuff

Man fuck Rocco. Also love Rocco. He’s a guy I love to hate. He’s so cheerful about the fact that he’s going to beat her up and it’s hilarious. I wasn’t sure if Protected had worked, but I thought the chances were higher of Roderick coming to “save her” since he knew she was with Dani. Jade is mostly buying time here with, uh, pretty much everything she says to Rocco. Had to toe the line between unafraid and submissive, not quite sure I hit what I was going for. Had hoped to get Dani to run for a variety of reasons:

1. Kept her away from Rocco
2. She’d have been with the hunter so they could have kept tabs on him

Presence on Rocco here didn’t quite accomplish what I wanted it to. Planned on using Green Eyes and then Confidant on him to make him see Jade as… well, I guess someone he feels sorry for rather than a friend, but I used it with Dani and Darren instead. Plan was to make him grab her and bolt.

Not super pleased with the begging here. Should have switched tactics. Especially since that’s when Rod shows up, so she looks kind pathetic begging. Prob should have repeated something about letting the two ghouls go. Hard to jump on a landmine for Dani if she sticks around, heh. Neither of the Garrisons will run from a fight. Oh well. I know better for next time.

Thought about attacking him with Roderick here, but I’m still not actually sure what the rule is on that. Can you clarify now that she’s out of danger?

I will note that I don’t super love the idea that my hands are tied in regards to Rocco and what I can and can’t do against him until the fight. Would very much like to take him out on my own and think that she has good pretense to do so. He obviously fucked over Emily, is a dick to Jade, threatened Dani, is on the hook for Isabel now, and I was going to throw him under the bus for something else as well. Would be very satisfying to be able to personally take him out.

Peppered in some lines here about him already beating her and owing them something, mostly for Rod’s benefit. That’s right, bucko, she really was kidnapped. Here’s to hoping he asks about it later. He didn’t even ask whose number it is. Jerk.

Thought the Hep C claim was clever, too. Glad it worked, anyway. Or that I rolled well enough for it to work. Also glad that Dani swiped the hunter’s wallet! Looking forward to finding him again. Think it would have been better to find him right then and there, but it’s okay. Adventure for later.

Celia VI, Chapter XVI
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