Arcanum

14. Bad Apple (II)

“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

(SleepyKoala, 01.02 – 25.02.2017)

Sinead was in a dark corridor. Somewhere at the edge of her view there was a light, but when she turned to it, it moved, always hiding somewhere. She tried to walk towards it, but she realised her body acted weird, as if she wasn’t it’s owner, but a passenger. It felt weirdly stiff and unresponsive, reacting to her will with a significant delay. She noticed doors all along the passage. Seeing that the light is not getting closer, she opened one of the doors. Behind them she saw sunlight, but it didn’t scare her. She walked right into it without any harm.

Her surrounding changed. She was back in Ireland. She was home. Her family castle once enourmous, seemed small right now. She has went inside, following an instinct, which led her up to battlements. Here she noticed her father holding her three years old self in his arms. The child was trying to slip out of his grasp, pulling his hair, claiming she wanted to see the fishies. Sinead had more control of her body closer she get to the child. She observed the scene for some time, reminiscing life spent in this walls and reached out to the girl.

She was moved back to the corridor as soon as she touched her. She reached for another door instantly, this time entering a ship during a storm. She remembered that night. Everything played out just as she remembered it: she was trying to force her crew into submission, then lightning hit the mast, then the ship began to sink… luckily, she was thrown into herself and was returned to the corridor again.

This time Sinead took a door on the other side of the corridor. It dragged her into situation she could not remind, but that somehow felt familiar. She was in a place she couldn’t place, talking with a man she remembered as Meinred, the Tremere sheriff of Vienna. She met him back in fifteen century, at the time she met Marcus and Riina for the first time. As she watched, memories came back. Meinred offered her cooperation. She’d have a free hand as long as she wouldn’t cause turmoil in VIenna. It was tempting, but there was a second part to the deal she could not accept – the one in which she was supposed to trade Chimeristry for Dominate. The vision ended and she chose another door, which led to similiar situation. A heated discusion with someone she remembered as a Lasombra, but she could remember the arguement. She was haggling about him covering her tracks in exchange for some sunken ships. The discussion didn’t end in a fight. The Lasombra kept his part of the bargain… which explained one of mysteries of her past.

Another memory was a recent one. It was couple of years ago, back in Spain. She was dancing with Julian at the ball. She remembered that clearly, although some details were lost, mostly because she didn’t know Julian that well and didn’t pay attention. Somebody offended her in a minor way. Julian wanted to shrug it off, but she escalated it. She wanted to have some fun and shine, so she turned it into a duel, which, of course, she won. This time she was watching Julian closely. She could see the way he was hiding his disgust behind a facade of indifference. She used to cherish that memory, until now.


Emma awakened to the sound of hammering. The sound came out of nowhere… until someone knocked at her door. It was a postwoman who came with a delivery. Emma was suspicious of that, as she didn’t know anything of the package and hour seemed odd at best. Seeing the looks Emma gave her, the woman asked if she is alright. She was acting so natural in this unusual situation. She just wanted to go back home. Emma accepted the package and followed her, but she disappeared into hin air just behind the corner.

The package contained three books. “Crime and punishment” and “White nights and other stories”. Third one Emma couldn’t read because of strange alphabet it was printed with, which she guessed to be Russian. The book was signed, which saved it from the fate of its sisters – the Brujah torn each page of them, one by one, to her utmost satisfaction. She looked as they fly on the wind, almost like snow.

She decided to visit Marcus, taking Amber and Dostoyevsky as her companions. On her way she met a man looking as if he came here straight out of late romanticism midnight walk. As she accosted the man, he told Emma he is going to visit an old friend. She offered her company, but the man didn’t want to slow her down. He asked her to announce him, though he didn’t give her a name. He was speaking with a distinct accent, clearly not coming from England.


Sinead went back into the corridor, but this time it was different. She heard a cacophony of voices repeating signsongs and nursery rhymes. She tried to leave the corridor, but all the doors were closed. The voices laughed her, saying she doesn’t have to leave them when the contract runs out. Moira is not the only one she could work with… As a token of their will, they showed her another vision. Sun was high in the sky. She saw a young, scrawny kid washing the deck. He bore a striking semblance to Julian. She chased to the broadside to read the ship’s name, but her limbs went heavy again and she woke up.

It was dark in her room. She run to Julian’s chamber only to see it deserted. Albert wasn’t there as well. Seemed like Julian gave him a day off. It turned out she slept for almost three hours more than usual. Terrified by the prospect, she run to the docks to check for transatlacting ships leaving during last week. She learned that Julian – if he left – is on his way to Boston.


Marcus’ servants moved his menhir to the garden. After his suggestion they decided to redesign the hedge maze to house the rock. In a meantime, the Malkavian himself found Chris rearranging the library. The boy decided to move his personal books there and wanted to make sure they will be put in order. It was impressive collection of contemporary literature, all of it signed by their authors. Marcus’ interest perked up, since he was suspecting that Christopher took up a new hobby. Chris saw through that and invited Marcus to his room to satisfy his curiosity. The Lasombra mentioned he was thinking of acquiring life insurance, by which he meant employing means that would take out anyone who would manage to kill them… preferably a shadow demon. When Marcus pushed him, worried about his well being, he said he went on his first astral journey and discovered a special aura emitted by the mansion and how he feels oppressed by it. Marcus was happy for his childe, but it didn’t lift Christopher’s spirit. He admitted he feels he is losing control, being unwelcome in his own haven. Still, Marcus used the opportunity to slip into Chris’ room. It was organised in a spartan, pedantic way, looking almost like a museum of his past interest, including jewelry, painting, sculpting and most recently, chemistry.

Emma reached them shortly. The men retreated to the guest room as soon as Charles annouced her. Emma apologised for not warning before paying them a visit. She mentioned the visitor coming their way, but Marcus couldn’t recognise him. Then she passed information she was trying to deliver for a long time, but her being captured by the Sabbat stood in a way of that. It was the list of people killed at Stepano’s mansion. She also gave him information acquired from mortals hired to guard the rose box. They were all working class, but there seemed to be nothing else in common. The box was so intriguing for mortals they simply couldn’t forget about the assignment.

Amber was contantly trying to escape, but Emma’s Celerity prevented that, to Chris’ amusement. Emma added locations in which the box was hidden in the past to the map. Marcus used it to look at the map once more. He established the pattern is reactionary, based on responsible’s person cautionous nature.

Then it came time for Emma to ask questions. She showed him the book. She almost frenzied when he inquired if she is a fan of Dostoyevsky. Declining in the most respectable manner she could muster at the moment, she asked him to examine her sire’s sword. She was afraid that Sabbat could have cursed the weapon. Marcus was reluctant to do that at first, but when she told him about the reason, he checked it with Auspex and said he does not sense anything unnatural about it, but the curse may be conditional. The doorbell rang at this moment. Emma decided to leave Marcus with his guest and headed for Ebb and Flow.


Sinead went ot the third Elysium and found out that the Brujah party is in full swing. Miranda, Atticus and some other Brujah were playing poker and grumbling over Ventrue. She joined them promptly, but didn’t play the game. The primogen was already tipsy and on his way to get utterly drunk. He found a willing drinking partner in the Ravnos and a dedicated booze provider in the Elysium Keeper. The night was joyful despite Sinead’s dark mood and Atticus’ moping. He went on a banter about his life as a Primogen, the suffering she feels when he has to deal with the council and lack of gratefulness from his clan, interrupted by Miranda’s quips. At some point he even proposed to her. Sinead joined the litany of complains, unwittingly insulting clan Nosferatu in presence of Joshua, secretary of Richard de Worde, who decides to join the game. The Ravnos decided to help Atticus with the game as he got more mopey and drunk.

On her way, Emma met a messenger, who delivered a short note (“Don’t open it!”), but she paid it no mind for now. She entered the room too late to witness Sinead testing if Atticus is a Nosferatu by grabbing his hand and trying to help him end his misery by putting him in chokehold, or rather more of a hughold in their condition. The primogen forced Emma to join the game and explained to her what is at stake – running naked around the docks. Molly appeared as well, accompanied by Willow, her Tremere business associate, and landed in the same shoes as Emma.

Sinead asked Emma is she could talk with her ghoul, so Emma dragged her out of the Elysium. When taken out of the company, Sinead broke down almost instantly. She sat down on the street and started crying… at this moment it turned out someone was waiting for her outside. It was a man who introduced himself as Rob. Emma remembered him from Ebb and Tide. She saw him in there with Julian. He stated he was looking for them, but on different situation. He claimed to be sympathetic to Anarch cause, which made Sinead suspicious. She switched language to Portugese and asked him couple of questions to judge his affiliation. He spoke in large of French revolution and its ideals and how it went awry. Then he switched back to English and adressed Emma. He rambled about a Malkavian project in a rather incoherent way, mentioning five boxes with rose emblem stashed in a warehouse and suddenly, a sixth one appearing among them while he was watching. At some point, Sinead asked him about his involvement with Julian. His answers were not to his liking, which made her frenzy in no time. Robert left while Emma was holding Sinead down.


The guest turned out to be former prince of Strasburg, childe of Valerianus and sire of Konrad of Vienna. He visited London incognito. Currently he was looking for a new playground and wanted to deliver a message to his brother, Dermont, so he visited the only person he knew that could contact him. Marcus warned him that delivering it might take time, but the man didn’t mind. They chatted for almost whole night, topics ranging from Ventrue politics, practical applications of the Tremere and badmouthing the Brujah and their ideals. The thing that interested Marcus though was the past. The man hints that Valerianus might still be alive and still cares for Vienna. Marcus also asked about local Ventrue. He learns only some vague stories before the man leaves, enough to satisfy curiosity, not enough to provide information.

Marcus read Annabelle’s pamthlets and penned her a message, when suddenly an unannounced guest walked into his room. The man seemed oddly familiar. He looked like a man Caspar killed in Touluse. Somehow, mysteriously, he has found his way into Marcus’ abode. He was outraged. Protective spell he put on the house was ruined, because Marcus brought a demonically tainted item inside before it was complete!

He explained he was there because Lotharius sent him to have an eye on Marcus. The man owed life to both the Malkavian and the Tremere. He was the killed man brother, embraced by the Sabbat Tremere. Marcus wrote about events of Touluse to Lotharius. Using that information Vienna managed to counter Sabbat opperation and free the man, still a fledgeling at the time. Lotharius took him under his wings and taught him in the arts that he practiced as his side project – demonology.

The man refused to give a name, prefering to remain nameless while a demon dwelled in the city. He has also mentioned that his clan asked for an expert on demons only to learn there is one in the neighbourhood already. Marcus told he knew about the demon, starting with Wales and Sinead’s involvement in the case. While telling the story, he noticed the man flinching as he mentioned the writing he copied. Suspicious, he pushed the Tremere to tell him more about it. He learned that the archmage told his student to take care of Marcus if anything happens to him – and locked himself in a study to examine the writing. He hasn’t left since, as he was found to be in torpor. Hearing that, Marcus broke down at that. To comfort him, the student told him some stories about Lotharius, including rumors of his personal interest with demonology. There are rumors he met demons while he was still a mortal and bears a personal grudge – one that led him to devoting all of his personal time to study.


Emma brought Sinead to her haven and summoned Andrew Norton. The man arrived very tired and very angry. Sinead asked him to share when did Julian’s son board the ship. Norton was uncooperative and openly insulting towards her. She tried to convince him using his honesty and appealing to his empathy in conscience, going as far as begging him. She realised it has no effect on him, as he didn’t believe a word she was saying. He simply considered Kindred to be inherently evil. When he was looking for an escape route, she asked Emma for favor of setting him free.

The Brujah was getting more and more down during the exchange. Norton patted her, saying “Don’t cry”. That was a final straw. She broke into tears. She hugged him and released an endless stream of apologies. At that, he reacted started crying as well. Emma smeared bloody tears all over him and he, starved, started licking it. Sinead got startled. She asked what Emma done to him. She fetched a bottle of brandy and a bucket of water and poured him a drink. Seeing that, he grabbed the whole bottle, while Emma treated herself to what was left.

Sinead asked for a moment alone with Andrew. When Emma went to the kitchen, Sinead asked him if he really want to be free. He was distrustful, but as he got more and more drunk, he admitted he’d jump on a ship to Australia if only that would mean getting free. Then he passed out. She left him sleeping in the living room and went to talk with Emma. She was filled with righteous rage fuelled by her blood. She pressured her to let him go, insulting her for indecisiveness and not doing anything to set him free if she regrets blood binding him in the first place.

Comments

Emma: That was a shitty night to say the least. I can’t imagine how things could have gone much worse than they did, and I have no idea how I could have prevented it from spiraling into this mess. The visit to Marcus went well enough, all this considered – though that comment about Dostoyevsky was certainly ill-timed to put it nicely – and I can’t really blame him for sending me to the Tremere and Giovanni about Letho’s sword. I guess I’ll have to talk to Gabriel soon about the business with the box, anyway, so I might as well inquire about the sword at the same time. Hopefully it won’t be too costly a boon to ask for. And if it is indeed cursed, I’ll … have to find a way to deal with it then. I don’t even want to think about it now.

Well, at least things with Atticus went better than I expected. Next time he’s sober he might come back to me about the apology, but if not, I’ll take it that he really doesn’t care anymore. Not that the city doesn’t have other problems at the moment, of course, it’s just good to know that my primogen doesn’t hold a grudge against me as well. There’s enough people in that camp for now, no need to add more.

As for the whole mess with Sinead and Norton … I just don’t know what I could have done differently. Sure, if I could go back in time I’d not bloodbond him, but that’s not actually possible. The damage is done already. It doesn’t help that Sinead is on edge already because of Julian, for which I can hardly blame her, I just wish she would have a little bit more patience. If I could snap my fingers and solve the problem with Norton in an instant, I would do it, but I can’t, and it’s just not feasible to expect that. Why does she care so much about this in the first place? She’s hardly doing it out of altruism, I know that she is no more interested in that than in considering the matter rationally, so what’s the catch? Not that I’d try arguing her out of it, I just don’t understand this woman at all sometimes.

14. Bad Apple (II)
 

Sinead: This night turned from bad to worse. Waking up to an empty house was a terrifying enough prospect. I guess I still couldn’t believe that he really is going to leave. Having no clue where he might be was even worse. I am both terrified and heartbroken. I wanted to forget, to drink myself into oblivion, dance, sing and have fun. The Brujah offered a good opportunity at that, so I jumped on it.

If trying to find Julian and untangle Julian’s ploys is painful enough. I didn’t ever expect Emma to something so despicable. I have no idea why would she do it, why didn’t she think it through or is she simply mocking me by pretending to care. She has destroyed the man by binding him. I will remove him from her surrounding while I figure out how to deal with this situation and how to help him. I also need a proof that Emma really regrets what she done. I hate to use it against her, but she owes me her life so I will make her work for his if necessary.

14. Bad Apple (II)
sleepykoala

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