Arcanum

11. Margot and the Devil

Sabbat hospitality makes nights blur...

“What would your good be doing if there were no evil, and what would the earth look like if shadows disappeared from it? After all, shadows are cast by objects and people. There is the shadow of my sword. But there are also shadows of trees and living creatures. Would you like to denude the earth of all the trees and all the living beings in order to satisfy your fantasy of rejoicing in the naked light? You are a fool.”


[SleepyKoala 16/10/18-16/12/11]

When the fight was concluded, The Sabbat lead shackled Emma and Sinéad into a warehouse. The building was hiding a ritual place, designed to move objects inside their base. With a flash of light they were transported into completely new place. The captors decided not to throw them into dungeon, but to allow them to keep company to another of their guests. The Toreador lead them into their room through same looking, rich, but boring corridors.

The room was big, opulent and very victorian and even more pretentios. There was no candle or a lamp inside, but the room was covered with cold, blueish light, showing a elderly gentleman hanging from the roof instead of chandelier. His chest was torn open, showing empty cavity where heart should be. Sinéad recognised the man as Stepano, Marcus’ ghoul back from Vienna, currently a missing unofficial Assamite ambasador to the city. She told Emma who he was, but kept his origin story to herself, hidden behind “That explains a lot”.

And so the women, one surrounded with faint smell of cinders, the other with throat ripped to shreds, were locked with Stepano as only companion. Within seconds they jumped to accusastions. The arguement favored Sinéad strongly, as the one with vocal cords intact. After using up their ammo, they they resorted to silence. Sinéad started rummaging through the room. The Ravnos attempted to dislodge Stepano from the chain and redecorated the room to her liking, Emma turned her attention to books. She chose Dostoyevsky’s “White nights” at random. Just couple of sentences caused her to throw the book with and go on a tirade his writing. Meanwhile, Sinead found ivory chess set, which seemed to be the only other source of entertainment in the room.

They spent long nights playing chess, squabbling over Dostoyevsky and playing cards (for which Emma sacrificed “Romeo and Juliet”). Talking was painful for Emma, so Sinead decided to fill the silence with tales of her deeds and misdeeds. On evening of third night they were visited by Aaron, who was carrying two goblets full of blood. Before he even said a word she asked him to remove the shackles, which he refused. That caused Sinead to jump at him and try to break his neck with the very chain she wanted to remove. By that time Emma was already chugging the blood he brought, a sight which made Sinead reconsider her decision. Only after sating her hunger she asked if his answer came from lack of will or lack of power to do it. Making it clear that it isn’t him that is holding them captive, she stood down and listened to what he had to say.

He acted differently from what they remembered. He was much more composed and controlled his gimmicks despite still being moody. He went out of his way to ignore Emma. He said it’s time to pay the debts. Sinéad, with the most heartfelt smile, declined, quoting her contract from Wales: she was bound to help Riina when she calls for it. Aaron produced the script of the contract and pointed out that in case of Riina’s demise, the boon is inherited by her chosen childe…

Sinead was shaken. She inquired about Riina’s demise and how Aaron got tangled up with her. He shared a very cynical story in which he compared himself to a toy presented to a kid by a clever parent. The kid got sent away, pernamently, when it got naughty, and the toy had to take over the responsibility for the kid’s actions… He left after short time, promising to come back tomorrow with more blood, when nobody will be able to eavesdrop.

He kept his word and picked up where he left. He told how her misdeeds finally caught up with her and how he followed her advice and found the one she called her master. Meeting Ariel was mind opening, as he described it, though aftereffects were still visible. Despite his bitterness about his position and disillusioned stance about reality, he understood why Riina did what put him in this peculiar place and that it was as much of a blessing as a curse.
He expressed loathing for the people he was forced to work with. He was caught in a trap and waiting for his opportunity to pay his debt and disappear. It meant he had to wait until the Tremere leader, Margot, and the demon settled the score. Moira, as they called her, owed two favors to Margot, according to the contract, afterwards she was supposed to go free. One of them was related to the reason why Sinéad and Emma were kept in custody.

On third day, he warned them about a guest they will have soon. After he left, they were visited by a man with appearance of bank clerk. He man was as dull as his countenance. He stated up front that they have a reason to trust Sinéad will fulfill her task to the best of her abilities without, but why should they let Emma live? Her blood could be very precious to some of talented members of Sabbat, a fact he knew well from experience. He didn’t pass on opportunity cast doubt on Emma’s ability and conviction “using her sire’s unique perspective”.

Emma was shattered. Every aspect of his being seemed to be an insult. While she was dumbfound, Sinéad vetted for her. She claimed the Brujah is necessary for the mission. She promised to keep an eye on her and dispose of her if necessary. FInally, Emma came to herself and mentioned she already is doing what the man has asked them for – looking for the box with Rose emblem – using her resources.

The man disagreed hesitatedly, mocking Emma even further for her lack of conviction, meanwhile, Sinéad has stated her demands. If Sabbat wanted her to work for them, she had to emerge from the captivity as hero so she could become a sheriff, therefore saving Emma, Blanche and preferably retreiving Stepano’s corpse, maybe even gaining something else out of it… The man declared that it won’t remove suspicions, but they will offer them a chance to escape. He has stated that Blanche isn’t Sabbat’s prisoner and that barely anyone heard about her existence. Their agent, the one that used her, has outlived his purpose. He offered him as a scrap for Camarilla… as any other agent Sinéad deems obsolete for fulfilling the sect’s mission in London. He has also laid out his prediction for Primogen Council vote over fate of the agent, which put Brujah and Ventrue as only forces willing to dispose of him.

Some time after he left the doors to the chamber opened violently. Three drunkards were thrown inside and the doors shut again. The men were barely aware what happened to them. Emma immidiately lost her cool and bit one of them, feeding from a living being for first time in a week. Sinéad, who wasn’t nearly as starved, was worried about their reaction. They spread all around the room, not sure if fight or flight is better. One of mortals has decided to grab chair and crack Emma’s skull. Sinéad gracefully deflected the blow and caught him in stranglehold, carefully putting him to sleep. Final one went catatonic after Emma drank blood from him. She didn’t want to kill them, but Sinéad convinced her there was no other way. Being less wounded, the Ravnos drank one of them dry and left him by the door, paying her respect to the dead. She has talked Emma into ending the mortals, something Emma didn’t take lightly. When the mortals were cold and dty, Sinéad attempted to turn the rage against the Sabbat.

Aaron returned every night, always bringing blood for the captives. He talked less about himself, more about the quest and the situation they got themselves in. The box originated from Alexandria and travelled all the Europe before reaching London. It contained someone Sabbat called Flora. It was guarded by the Assamites, but who hired them remained a mystery. Aaron pointed to them that individual agendas of Sabbat operatives can be exploited for their own goals.

On third night a different man appeared. He was a guide sent to lead them to Margot. Despite Sinéad’s best attempts, he didn’t want to talk with her, so she decided to put her best chatterbox performance to use. He lead them through a maze of identical corridors – a perfect countermeasure to any intrusion – into thaumaturgical study behind sturdy metal doors. Inside there were two women.

One of them, an attractive redhead. dressed scandalously, was sitting on a chair. Pentacle and multiple layers of wards surrounding her left no doubts towards her nature. The other’s identity was obvious as she was wearing very unorthodox and very feminine robes. She sat in an armchair on the opposite side of the demon – who was constantly mimicking every single pose, gesture, mannerism and even tone of her voice, which visibly annoyed the Tremere.

The demon expressed joy seeing Sinead, which annoyed Margot even further. It seemed that was the only source of entertainment Moira had on a day to day basis and she excelled at it. Margot didn’t waste time on courtesy. She immediately informed the guests what is expected of them. Time limit: until the end of the year. Deliver or have Moira deal with you. There wasn’t much choice in that. While Emma was quietly accepting, Sinead used every opportunity to insult Margot.

Margot wanted to force a geas on Emma and Sinead. Emma agreed to that, but Sinead promptly refused. Moira said it won’t be a problem, so the ritual commenced with Emma as the only participant. The geas was supposed to disallow them to summon anyone they met while imprisoned, meaning Margot, her student Marianne, Malkavian Jean, the one that diablerized Letho, their quiet guide Wilbur, and of course, Aaron. After that they were returned to their chamber, to await the mission which they were supposed to join. It was meant to be their opportunity to escape.

Comments

Emma: I never really understood the expression that a feeling can be “mind-numbing” until now. Even in the clutches of the beast, when there’s no way to control yourself, your mind isn’t really numb. But this past week I’ve been veering between terror and fury, both fighting for dominance over my body, while everything else was basically just white noise. It was like my mind was just … blank. I couldn’t really think. I still have no idea how I managed to pull through that with my sanity somewhat left intact, or how I managed to put up such a civil front when all I wanted to do was to claw my way out of the room we were in using my bare hands. Ironically, the injured state I was in might have helped prevent that. If I had been at full health, I might have acted very differently.

I can’t really touch these memories without instinctively shrinking back from how painful they are. To say that this was my worst fear being played out right in front of my waking eyes is an understatement. It was like a nightmare that I thought would end any second, except that I never woke up, even as it kept getting worse. If Sinéad hadn’t been there as well, I’m not sure if I would have made it out at all … or gotten away so comparatively easily. I mean, what did they really get out of me? A geas that doesn’t prevent me from murdering these bastards the first opportunity I get and a “promise” to assist them in the search for the goddamn box. That’s laughable. Sure, Sinéad put her head on the line for me, but let’s be honest here, all of us know that this is a hollow arrangement. It’s like they were just going through the motions for the sake of the performance. They have no way to control me, and only the deal with the demon gives them any leverage over Sinéad. If they are very lucky, that will be sufficient for them to get their hands on the box. Doesn’t protect them from any consequences, though. And there will be consequences.

11. Margot and the Devil
sleepykoala

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