[Lisa, 09. 01. 2018]
During the night of the 7th of August, Emma drops by the second Elysium only to find it completely deserted except for the Keeper and Mithras, who is dressed in what looks like most of a simple, modern suit, with an aura so muted that it is easy to mistake him for a mortal. Clearly intending to take her out for the pre-arranged rendezvous, he asks if she is ready to leave, though Emma asks him how she should address him during the night. He leaves the choice up to her, though he becomes impatient when Emma takes too long to decide on a new name to give him, and links arms with her, calling her darling and pulling her along out of the Elysium. She responds cheerfully with a similar term of endearment and waves to Caroline as they leave.
Mithras explains that he’s taking her to see an old friend of his, but as the walk on foot will take a little while, he leaves the topic of their conversation in the meantime up to her, allowing her to pick between being told a story about family drama, historical drama or war drama. Emma’s choice promptly falls on war drama, and he talks at length about how he first came to England as part of a Roman legion, the Kindred custom of assuming godhood among mortals in the past, and how he talked to a sacred tree, which turned out to be a slightly awkward proposition as his being the god of fire offended the tree in question quite a bit. With a glance towards his companion, he asks her whether she would enjoy being a goddess herself, as she is close enough to Caine to easily take on such a position, and Emma laughs, saying that it might be something she would do if only she had enough time, as being a goddess of war hardly fits into her current schedule. The conversation turns toward Kindred beliefs, in particular the Sabbat’s beliefs related to mortals, and they both scoff at the Sabbat’s claim that the Antediluvians are allegedly evil because they lost their purpose and led their childer astray as a result.
In an attempt to talk about something more pleasant, Emma asks the Prince what he does for fun, and he laughs, saying that everything can be done for fun, and bewildered, the Brujah inquires whether paying taxes could be considered fun in this case. Mithras merely waves her concerns aside, as he claims he doesn’t pay taxes since he is an old man who is retired and has nothing to be taxed, spending his time leisurely. He mentions that he reads Emma’s newspaper, which delights her considerably, and they chat about literature for a while, briefly touching on her great dislike for Dostoyevsky before somehow ending up wondering whether it would be possible for a Malkavian to dementate a Kindred’s Beast directly. Mithras muses that while he might put the idea in someone’s brain to start experimenting on this, his sire would not approve of it, to which Emma promptly suggests that this means he should do it precisely for this reason. Curios, he asks her why she would say such a thing, but Emma evades giving him a straight answer, which seems to disappoint him.
Before long, they reach their destination of a circus and make their way to the performers’ tents to greet its host, a woman dressed overly exotically, whose appearance betrays her immediately as a Gangrel due to the numerous animal features she possesses. She introduces herself as Lala, explaining to Emma that she went to see the world and collect the most interesting things she could find while doing so, among which are also some creatures from a friend in the Carpathians, which she is happy to show the two visitors privately at Emma’s request. These creatures turn out to be the most adorable, cute creations she has seen in her life, and are happy to let her pet them to her heart’s content, though Lala cautions her from getting too close to the smallest one of them, as it is what she calls defensively problematic. Intrigued and feeling a challenge for herself, Emma makes plans to return after seeing the show to try for herself, as neither Mithras nor Lala want to go into great detail as to what the small creature’s exact abilities are, and they leave to let Lala prepare for the show and take a walk around the circus grounds. While her mouth is glued shut due to a delicious candy that Mithras recommended, Emma listens to him telling a story of one of Lala’s adventures, in which she broke into a temple that was restricted to men, only to find it full of traps and quite difficult to break back out of, and she managed to escape only after sustaining quite a few burns.
On the other side of the city, Sinead continues her interviews with performers from the city, and once again a lot of musicians are among those applying, the first interesting of the evening being a choir of sailors singing shanties and other rather impolite songs, followed by a man with a dancing bear, and then an Asian girl with her grandmother playing a strange string instrument while the girl performs a sort of narrative dance, accompanied by English lyrics describing her actions. The next group consists of a man leading some younger and quite drunk fellows who asks Sinead to sign a waiver before they begin, though the reason for their drunkenness becomes apparent when they start dancing with torches and spitting fire. After they are thoroughly doused with water, the stage is taken by a group of Middle Eastern women who begin belly-dancing, though halfway through their performance Sinead realizes that their long veils obscure not just their faces, but also the fact that except for the woman introducing them, none of the performers are female.
The following performer is a man who skillfully constructs scenes and pictures with shadow theatre, and though his face never betrays his intentions, the figures always end up somehow suggestive right up until he reveals the final, entirely innocuous image. He is followed by a man with a table and a suitcase, out of which he builds a small scientific laboratory to accompany his scientifically accurate lesson with practical demonstrations; he explains everything with a kind of honest enthusiasm, and upon further questioning, says that he is a teacher whose dream it is to start a school of his own. As the last act of the evening, Sinead listens to the performance of a man playing a harmonica to accompany his tap-dancing horses, after which she decides that she has seen entirely enough for the night and leaves to drown out the dozens upon dozens of musicians lacking any talent in alcohol.
However, when she arrives at the third Elysium to put this plan into motion, she is dismayed to find it newly remodeled and its bar missing entirely. Her mood doesn’t improve upon finding Miranda giving a lecture on proper time management and how she mastered her inner anger to become a new person, nor does the Keeper’s insistence that Jupiter and Saturn aligning were the cause of the changes provide a sufficiently satisfying explanation. When she voices her opinion that she needs to petition the Prince for a temporary fourth Elysium, Miranda looks offended, though.
With nothing else to do, she makes her way through the place to join the small circle of Kindred passing around a pipe, among whom is a new face, a Nosferatu woman who introduces herself as Ilara. The conversation is relaxed and not very focused, and Miranda uses the opportunity to explain that it is her intent to take her clan back to its roots of philosopher-kings, and even if she doesn’t succeed, she believes she will be richer for having undertaken the journey regardless. Another newcomer joins the group, whom the others address as Mr. Yakamoto, and he wholeheartedly agrees with Miranda’s sentiment, stating that he enjoys the atmosphere of the Elysium and hinting that he may previously have been a Keeper himself. After a few twists and turns, a discussion comes up over whether snakes would eat foxes or the other way around, which swiftly leads to questions of whether snakes have the physical capability to barf, and a listing of animals which definitely do not.
In an attempt to circle around to a more pleasant topic, the Kindred present discuss their travels to other countries, and Bob speaks up, telling a story about a Malkavian he met in Greece about 50 years ago who wanted to create a Malkavian utopia on an island by Embracing all of the mortals present on it, an experiment which according to him lasted about five months before failing. Sinead recognizes the description of this Malkavian as being eerily similar to Ariel, pressing Bob to continue, and he comments that she must have met him in person to have such a strong reaction. He drifts off into a rant on how Kindred aren’t beneficial to mortals and that if the ancients can’t live in harmony with mortals, they should die, only realizing too late that he had been saying more than he originally intended, and promptly redirecting the conversation quite ham-handedly to a less controversial topic.
After verifying with Vilmos that Stepano is not at considerably risk from the actions of the entity possessing him so long as the entity in question is competent, and speculating about whether it would be possible or even a good idea to invite the spirit Virgil he had met while lost in the spirit world to live in his fire place, Marcus approaches the entity and its guardian and offers to allow it to perform the ritual they had interrupted the night prior. Together with Taliah, they return to the ritual chamber and watch as the entity prepares the ritual and the pyre it needs to perform it, into which Stepano’s body unfortunately falls face-first as the entity possessing it leaves the body. Marcus manages to drag him out of the fire in time to save most of his face and hands the now-limp body over to Taliah. He accompanies her to the docks where she intends to take ship and much to his surprise, the owner of the ship she intends to travel on is Meire, who greets him in an overly friendly manner. The two of them make a bit of small talk and Marcus allows Meire to persuade him to buy a fabulous pipe made of rainbow-colored glass from him before the two part ways.