Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
[Lisa, 13. 02. 2018]
Before the start of the circus performance, Emma apologizes to Mithras about her earlier evasiveness to his question, as she isn’t proud of the fact that her mind so easily fell back into the established pattern of rivalry between their clans, though he only seems amused when she brings up Carthage and its fate as an example. According to him, all cities eventually fall to the same squabbles that Carthage did, and he uses the opportunity to criticize her attempts to help mortals, as the last thing they need is Kindred interference. Emma’s charity will be a learning experience for her just as micromanaging a city only to see the endeavor crash and burn has been for him.
The conversation is interrupted for a moment as they take their seats, and Emma tries to lighten the mood by asking Mithras what food he thinks he would be. He turns the question back around to her, and after a moment of consideration she settles for a spicy delicacy. Should she ever find an answer to her question, the Prince asks her to let him know, and Emma wonders aloud if this counts as an invitation. After that, Mithras shares a story of somebody the young Brujah reminded him of: he describes a stoic Brujah, very outspoken about his strong opinion against the practice of siring childer, who met a girl who was very unlike him. Fascinated by her passion, he ghouled her, and in a twist of irony ended up Embracing her, despite his former protests. The childe argued with her sire as she desired siblings to help her in her quest to reshape the world, but when he would not grant her wish, she left him.
As Emma ponders the meaning of this story, Lala enters to open her show, and they turn their attention towards the performance. The majority of it seems to focus on the actors trying to kill each other, as activities like knife-throwing, weapon dancing, captivating fight scenes and the like are on display, all the while a large number of clowns attempt creative murder of each other in the background of the performers. The spectacle is thoroughly captivating, and only after it ends do the two Kindred resume their conversation, agreeing to trade questions with each other.
Mithras’ first question is what Emma would do if she knew someone with a desire to kill her was out and about in the world, and she snorts as she explains this theoretical situation is actually very real, and that she would of course try to kill them first, if only she knew where the person in question was. In return, she wants to know what he misses most in the world, and after a moment of thought the Prince explains that it is the concept of a myth which he feels has been lost in this day and age; he preferred Rome and its mortals to London. Afterwards, Emma has to explain the reason why she still eats mortal food, which he finds rather distasteful, and she says she does so because it reminds her of being human. Mithras then shares the best advice he ever received, a simple order to “get out”, and asks for her opinion on the Camarilla, which Emma sums up as being a good idea in theory, albeit with Kindred being what they are, in practice it is improvable to say the least, though she still finds the sect leagues above the Sabbat. This prompts a short discussion about Gehenna, which Emma views as a matter of little concern to herself, as she argues that even if this apocalypse were to happen in whatever form, she fails to see what she could do to stop it and so doesn’t concern herself with it in an effort to not waste time on things she cannot influence instead of actually achieving results. Her next question is about whom Mithras would call the most interesting person he ever met, and after a moment of thought he settles on his brother, who he says he would advise to seek professional medical advice if he were born today. There is a longer pause in the conversation when he asks what her greatest regret is, and she finally says that it is leaving London the last time she did. At his incredulous reaction, she admits that it is a simplification, as the last time she left Letho died during her absence, and she feels responsible for not being present to at least try and save him. For her last question, Emma asks Mithras if he believes Kindred can change, to which he replies with a yes.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the city, Marcus stumbles upon Chris, who is dressed up for what appears to be an opera and preparing to leave the mansion for the night. He asks if him if his lady is in town, to which Chris gives an evasive reply before his sire asks him how he knows if he likes a lady. When Chris points out that he believes this is the wrong question to ask, Marcus drops the word attraction, and he starts to talk about feeding before Marcus stops him once again, very confused, to attempt to clarify the issue as the question about the difference specifically between friendship and attraction. Chris thinks that he isn’t the best person to ask about this topic, and believes that Kindred friends are closer to better acquaintances or merely people one has known for a long time. According to him, attraction is unnecessary for any form of intimacy, especially since Kindred have no physical impulses anymore, and closes with a claim that desire is the most sincere form of measuring a person. Still unsure, Marcus asks whether there is a boundary for Kindred between friendship and romance, but Chris claims the two are not in any way related. In an attempt to rephrase the question, the Malkavian then wants to know what romantic engagement is, and Chris just replies that it involves romance, and that he finds both mortal and Kindred ideas about it interesting, though his sire disagrees as he dislikes the idea of mutual blood bonds and finds it unnatural. His fretting about being boring is interrupted rather quickly as Chris simply states that what he does is anything but boring, and upon his sire’s insistence he provides him with the address of Esme, who he says is a much better person to talk about this topic with, before both of them split up for the night and head their separate ways towards London.
Their conversation finished for the moment, the two Kindred at the circus visit the leader of the troupe to compliment her on her performance, and Lala uses the opportunity to invite herself to drinks in the city. She mentions her Asian heritage and says that despite Mithras’ complaints there is a lot of variety in her home, though her Chinese performers are eager to return from their travels. With the show behind her, Emma finally indulges her curiosity in petting the most dangerous of the special animals, and through the use of her supernatural speed, she manages to quickly stroke it and get out of its reach before its defense mechanism hits her with full force. Despite her speed, the vapors the little creature produces still utterly bamboozle her senses and cause an elation like no other, immediately boosting her mood through the roof with enjoyment and excitement. Lala beams at the younger Brujah and congratulates her on her success before Mithras escorts her away from the circus, leading both of them to an Irish pub with a party in full swing that provides an excellent opportunity for both of them to feed and dance for the rest of the night. On the way back home, Emma thanks him for the enjoyable evening, though she asks him one last question, wondering aloud whether he has trouble shaving or cutting his hair. Confused by the jumbled explanation the Brujah gives, he has trouble following her, and Emma quickly loses herself in a discussion about hair styling for fighting and a new endeavor to figure out whether one can intimidate one’s enemies with a Celerity hairdo.
With the list of books he extracted from the tome Emma sold him, Marcus enters the British Library, though he quickly finds that every single book he is looking for is missing. His investigation, aided by his clan’s gift for insight, leads him to open a volume on philosophy at random, upon which he is greeted by garbled text that is utter gibberish in a fake language. He decides to look for further clues in the basement storage of the library, where he senses a vague presence as he wanders around looking for a certain tome. Behind him, a diary suddenly falls from a shelf, written by a woman named Hannah with its last entry dating back roughly 15 years, though before he can read it thoroughly a noise as if from wind from the entrance area startles him. Retracing his steps, he finds an envelope on top of a ledger which contains an unfinished letter addressed to a person named Jeremy. The author of the letter describes his intention of taking a holiday by the sea for the improvement of his sanity, and Marcus quickly concludes that he might have been the subject of Kindred pranks.
As neither documents provide any concrete clues, he continues wandering about the enormous basement and stumbles upon a part of a wall which is built from stones that look slightly newer than the rest of the building. Upon closer examination, he concludes that an opening is hidden here, though the lever seems to be inaccessible on the other side of the wall. After knocking politely and asking for help in finding the philosophy section, a heavy book tumbles to the floor behind him as if it had been thrown, though it also provides no further clues. With his frustration ever increasing, Marcus finally snaps and dissolves into mist, slithering through a crack in the previously insurmountable obstacle of the wall in question, only to find the entire philosophy section on the other side, which appears to be in the process of being thoroughly cataloged. He manages to locate the book he is looking for, which turns out to be a volume of Plato that is thicker than it should be.
Unfortunately, when returning to his solid form to take the book, the Malkavian gets stuck in the shelf, and only manages to disentangle himself after assuming the smaller and much more bendable form of a flamingo. With unprecedented grace, he catches his prize in his beak and races off, though not without noting a slack-jawed Nosferatu from the corner of his eye as he pushes open the fake wall. The Nosferatu is no match for his power to disappear in plain sight, though, and he quickly leaves them behind, tutting to a bird that is no longer in their basement.
After such a daring escape back to his mansion, Marcus examines the book in more detail. It turns out to be a historical-mythological collection of Kindred lore, written in Latin, with a large number of general tales, though anything detailed mostly relates to Ventrue. The stories only date back to a time before Carthage, however, thus the contents are restricted to tales of the First, Second and Third city, the Great Deluge, and a commentary which mentions other books as well as the names of Dracon and Constancia the Cappadocian. The author also laments that his attempts to acquire a publication of his own clan’s history, which appears to be that of clan Ventrue, were thwarted since no official version exists, despite a lot of stories being in circulation, as if somebody were purposefully obfuscating the history of the clan.