Arcanum

13. Bad Apple

Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.

Having just regained their freedom, Emma and Sinead stop at the mansion of the latter to catch a breath and plan their next steps, though they find the building completely abandoned. A layer of dust covers the surfaces, and while Sinead investigates the absence of her servants and childe, Emma catches a glimpse of a mysterious figure out of the corner of her eye; she draws her sword, which is quickly covered by frost, and calls for Sinead, but neither of them discover the source of what appears to be a haunting before they have to leave again. Pressured for time, they discuss the story they want to tell others on their way to the first Elysium, which is filled to the brim with Kindred, as the Primogen meeting is still in progress – though it is interrupted as Atticus catches sight of Emma, flips the table the Primogen are sitting at, and immediately frenzies.

Sinead wastes no time and asks two Nosferatu to clean up the mess at the zoo, which Talbott already warned them about, though she draws considerably more attention when she then requests they take care of the stock market, which she notes has been hit as well. After prompting by the Ventrue Primogen, Sinead lays out the story that she agreed on with Emma – that she found the Sabbat Tremere’s warehouse, was joined by Marcus and Emma, the latter of whom got caught, and allowed herself to be captured together with her to gain useful information, among which is the location of the Sabbat’s base, which is a death trap. She also notes that the Sabbat knows how the Primogen council operates and has discarded their Tzimisce spy, and in the same breath withdraws her candidature for the position of Sheriff. As the Primogen withdraw to discuss the news in private, the two Kindred are informed about the new Sheriffs – Molly and Gabriel – and are thoroughly questioned by those present, though Emma notes that their story is accepted without quite as many questions as expected.

Later that night, Sinead meets Julian at home, who explains that the house was briefly vacated at his insistence, since he thought it prudent to stay with a “friend” whom he owed a favor while she was abducted in order to avoid the Sabbat, if at all possible. He shares the city’s gossip about an Antediluvian in the city and the fact that quite a few mortals associated with Kindred have been killed, and mentions in passing that he unfortunately had invested heavily in the stock market and lost all of Sinead’s hard currency due to it burning down. Before he vacated the premises, he was also visited by a young blonde man, who dropped off a gift of a German book for Sinead, which isn’t the only one; a gift from the Gangrel is still roaming the docks and annoying the Brujah there. After a bit of prodding, Sinead also learns that Chris caught a female Lasombra and handed her to the Sheriff, that Raymond protected Francis from execution, and that Blanche left for Paris.

Christopher informs Marcus that he invited the Sheriffs and Sinead and tells him about the council meeting after his return; there was no decision made regarding the box the Sabbat is looking for, as the Tremere want to send it to Vienna, the Ventrue want to hand it over to Mithras, the Toreador want to burn it and the Brujah generally seem not to care a great deal about it. He also mentions that apparently, all the Ventrue who died as a result of Sabbat attacks belonged to the same faction within the clan.

After Julian passes a note to Sinead which reads “Love from Clan Tzimisce” with a return address in the Czech Republic, she asks him to pick up the ritual supplies she stole from the Sabbat in order to pass them on to the Tremere. Since her currency has gone up in flames with the stock exchange, Sinead then has a chat with the rats in her basement to persuade them to bring back her gold and valuables; as they are displeased with not being fed for over a week, she has to organize food for them before they agree to return what they hid.

Emma uses her time to visit Hawke, whom she finds cutting down a tree in a surprisingly cold night for the end of May. They chat for a bit before the conversation turns towards the Sabbat, as Emma talks in detail about her stay and is questioned thoroughly by her mentor; she doesn’t lie to him but sticks mostly to the story she already told, and Hawke mentions that he is waiting for a good opportunity to present itself to kill some Sabbat. He also presents a gift to Emma; a skinny squirrel that, as he claims, is always hungry, which she is supposed to use as a scout for dangerous situations before running headfirst into a trap again. She is delighted and thanks him effusively, petting the squirrel tentatively as she turns the conversation back to more serious matters and asks whether he could recognize a curse placed on Letho’s sword. Hawke answers to the question in the negative but suggests simply testing the matter by killing something with the sword, wandering from the subject and telling Emma about the Baali bloodline before she says her goodbyes and leaves for the city proper.

The meeting between the new Sheriffs, Marcus, Chris and Sinead is about to start when Sinead pulls Marcus aside to inform him about Stepano’s fate and ask him about the location to which she summoned him while in Sabbat captivity; she also tells him that Riina is dead and that Aaron is her childe, though the two of them quickly rejoin the Sheriffs to discuss business. As it turns out, the Primogen council believes there to be a traitor either in the council itself or with access to their intel; the conversation turns towards the rose box, which originated in Egypt and according to Gabriel is surrounded by a rather romantic story. The group speculates about the Sabbat’s methods and what the Prince’s course of action could be, though they can only agree on wanting the box out of the city. When Sinead brings up that it is guarded by Assamites, Molly recounts an urban legend that Mithras had friends among the clan, whose founder had allegedly visited London in the Middle Ages. Gabriel suggests smuggling an item with a spirit of his into the Sabbat base, which he asks Sinead to do, who points out the heavy fortifications once again.

Amidst snow falling, Emma returns to London, making her way to the address that Norton had given her, and finds both her ghoul and Julian arguing outside of a bankrupt shop. With her patience stretched thin after the recent events, she slaps the fledgling and demands to know why he is harassing her ghoul. He refuses to tell her anything beyond the fact that Norton was supposed to deliver a message and instead sent the intended mortal recipient out of the city. Unhappy with being denied more information, Emma tells Julian to get out of her face and talks to her ghoul in private, learning that the Kindred was looking for one of Norton’s young employees, an orphan whom he told to get the first ship out of the country he could possibly catch when he learned that Kindred were interested in him. He also passes her the information he gathered about the box, which he traced to several mortals paid to keep it for a short time before passing it on. Shortly afterwards, Emma finds herself summoned to Lady Anne and hastily leaves.

Since the conversation has stalled, Marcus uses the opportunity to fetch several maps which show information about the Sabbat attacks from 1860, the sewer system, and mortal London, and points out the location to which Sinead summoned him. The group agrees to look for the box and its guardians, spreading misinformation in the meantime and putting out word for the guardians. Gabriel claims that the box has a spiritual resonance that makes it impossible for him to track it with any more accuracy than whether it is within a hundred kilometer of his position. They are interrupted when Marcus is informed that a package has arrived for him, which he leaves to unpack. A closer investigation with Auspex reveals the smell of pinecones and moss coming from the box, which turns out to be an apparently entirely mundane menhir, which Marcus has placed in his garden before returning to the meeting; he finds that the Sheriffs have been arguing with each other, and Sinead excuses herself and leaves after a moment to fetch the gift she received from the Gangrel. In her absence, Marcus outlines his plan to deploy decoys of the box around the city, trapped with explosives, and Gabriel recommends him a skilled carpenter who can be discreet and, after Molly takes her leave as well, asks the Malkavian privately whether it would be possible for him to rent a room at his place, as he has noticed the mansion’s positive qualities on the astral plane.

Lady Anne greets Emma at the palace, clearly annoyed as Julian brought his personal grievance to her to sort it out; Emma is given the task to gather as much information about the mortal’s whereabouts as she can and to pass it on to her so it can be relayed to Julian, and Lady Anne makes a point of reminding her that the tensions in the city are plentiful already, asking her politely to have patience and cooperate with the other Kindred to avoid unnecessary aggravations. Emma apologizes repeatedly, but immediately makes her way to Sinead’s, who has found her gift to be a raccoon with whom she made a deal to receive gifts in exchange for food. After Emma relays the events of the evening, Sinead apologizes for her childe’s behavior and summons him, trying to pass the time until his arrival by talking about their time at the Sabbat’s, though an unfortunately phrased comment from her causes Emma to burst into tears just as Julian, dripping water everywhere, shows up. Sinead pulls him out of the room to talk with him in private, trying to slap him and yelling at him for going to the Prince with this problem instead of coming to her first, at which he snaps back that unlike the Prince, Sinead never showed any interest in his business; an argument breaks out in which Sinead accidentally antagonizes him further before Julian explains that he is looking for his mortal son, who could stand to inherit after his father’s recent death if only he could manage to find him. His sire warns him that he is unnecessarily making enemies of people more powerful than him, though he brushes her off by saying that he would prefer to die if he can’t live the way he wants, becoming increasingly more angry towards her and trying to end the conversation as he claims he has nothing more to say to her now or ever. At this, Sinead asks if he would prefer to be presented to the Prince and freed immediately to leave for good, which Julian scoffs at, pointing out that the sun is rising soon and there is no time for that now, though Sinead insists that she will make it happen if it is what he wants. After the argument finally dies, she tries to hug him, though it does not seem to make matters any better, as Julian leaves his sire standing in front of a closed door, both metaphorically and literally.

Comments

Emma: It feels odd to be out of the Sabbat’s grasp for now. I suspected it would be like jumping out of the frying pan directly into the fire, but for some reason, the other Kindred in the city didn’t kick up as much of a fuss as I had feared when Sinead and I showed up in the First Elysium after escaping. Well, except for Atticus, whom I suspect to be more aggravated by the fact that I summoned him when we got captured than that I showed up there suddenly … he’d have no reason to be upset at my survival otherwise, and though I would have preferred to make a less dramatic entrance, it might have worked in my favor since he wasn’t within immediate reach of me when he lost control. Still, I’m definitely not looking forward to showing up in Miranda’s Elysium and meeting him there. Maybe with the first gut reaction out of his system, he’s going to keep himself in check next time, but that doesn’t mean much. Hopefully he will let me explain and apologize.

Somehow, the whole business with the box has become less important now that I know the Sabbat is looking for it and the whole city knows what’s going on. If it’s not a secret anymore, chances are that other Kindred will join the hunt for the damned thing, and with my firsthand knowledge, I can’t say I’m eager to rush into that mess again. Let them find the goddamn box and deal with it themselves. It’s not like I would have actually handed it over to the Sabbat, though I’m hardly upset that I don’t need to make the decision what to do with the thing now. Sure, I still want these bastards to not lay hands on it, but their chances just went from ‘unlikely’ to ‘abysmal’ unless they pull a surprise joker out of their collective asses. Demon or no demon, if they could’ve found the thing by themselves, they would have bloody well done so already.

The incident with Julian is still the oddest thing. Whatever could be so important that he goes straight to Lady Anne with the whole issue, apparently revealing enough information about his plans to get her to care about it, yet can’t make up a convincing enough lie to feed to me when I pressed him for that info? I’m halfway amused that the fledgling so obviously flubbed and revealed his cards by getting a sledgehammer to kill a spider, and halfway annoyed at the fact that he pulled Lady Anne into private business and made me look bad at a time where there is enough negative attention on me already. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s going to shoot himself in the foot eventually with tactics like this, I’d probably be more offended, but this seems barely worth the effort of working up a sweat in light of everything else going on at the moment. I’d say I hope it comes back to bite him in the arse royally, pun absolutely intended, but he’s Sinead’s childe, and I can’t imagine she’s happy about all of this trouble he’s apparently getting himself into, and that’s just no good.

13. Bad Apple
 

Sinéad: I never intended for this to happen.

I came here on his suggestion. I have found a friend that would invite me to validate the idea. I didn’t like London, because Englishmen are obnoxious just as their primitive language. I learned to speak it as well as one born in here, despite it filling me with disgust. I wanted my childe to be happy.

I didn’t think it would be possible. I came here, looking for sheriff’s position, which was so much below me, just to make sure nobody will hassle with him. I wanted him to thrive in here, to be safe and pursue his endeavours. I wanted to guide him to avoid traps and succed by making decisions based on centuries of experience.

I have failed. I have utterly and completely failed. The bruhaha with Sabbat and the Primogen is nothing. I could play it for days until I got bored, take responsibility or avoid it… I am speaking from position of power. Almost nothing I did is of consequence, since right now I can strong-arm through it. I am a terror. I hunted Sabbat for centuries while they were neonates, I have knowledge, I have experience, I could lead them to fight or sit back and enjoy the show.

But Julian… my childe, I came here for him. I wanted to create a safe world, a path for him, in which he could thrive… but I have failed. I am just like my sire. I escaped from him because he was obnoxious, overbearing man, who wanted to force me into his idea of what I should be. I did just the same thing to my beloved childe.

The primogen can tear themselves to apart with Margot laughing at their stupidity. Margot can do the same with Lady Anne chuckling quietly at her overblown ambition and lacking ability. I don’t care, their world can crash and burn. Moira can rip it all to shreds. I just want my childe not to hate me.

13. Bad Apple
Lauretha

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