“Trust the tale, not the teller.”
[Lisa, 13. 05. 2017]
After Emma leaves the two elders to their own devices, Sinead prods Marcus about the priest Emma mentioned, and he gives her directions to the catholic cathedral where he met a Kindred priest himself previously, though he can’t confirm whether this is the very same man. She also asks to visit Norton, to which Marcus agrees, albeit with a warning that currently, he isn’t in any mood for conversation, and in return asks Sinead to use her contacts to the local Gangrel to inquire about medicinal herbs that he might give Norton. After their conversation, the two split and go their separate ways as well.
Marcus retires to his home, though he only has a brief moment at his mansion before Mithras summons him to the Buckingham Palace, where the Prince congratulates him to his new position as primogen of clan Malkavian, to which he has been promoted with immediate effect after his clan unanimously voted for him to replace Talbott, who has resigned and will be leaving London shortly. After Mithras informs him of the duties that come with the title and answers a few of his questions, the conversation turns towards Stepano as Marcus inquires about a method of contact for his sire, a remark that the Prince handwaves as he explains he already wrote to him to inform him of his progeny’s recent failings. The conversation then turns towards Dementation as Marcus wonders whether it would be possible to undo the effects of the discipline, which Mithras confirms, though the Malkavians capable of accomplishing this feat are not permitted to set foot in his kingdom. He also mentions that one of his brothers by blood claimed that all Kindred become mad due to outliving their natural lifespans either way, curiously asking Marcus whether he ever thinks about what it would be like to be mortal again. He replies that the only thing he misses from his mortal life is his faith, which prompts Mithras to lay out an argument that the Curse of Caine is proof of god’s existence, which ironically should have helped consolidate Marcus’ faith instead of destroying it. During a brief lull in the conversation after this topic, the Prince observes the flames flickering in the fireplace attentively, which Marcus notices. He attempts to search for a pattern in the fire, as it caught his attention, and finds some unexpected knowledge about the Prince by observing it – which doesn’t escape Mithras’ notice.
With a nagging feeling that he just volunteered for something, Marcus engages the Prince in conversation once more, inquiring about whether the effects of Presence could be stopped prematurely, to which he receives an answer in the negative; the discipline may even leave an aftereffect once the original application of it fades, but there is no way to stop it without killing the one affected or letting it fade naturally. They continue for a time until the Antediluvian Lasombra is mentioned and his childe in the Camarilla, which Mithras confirms to be Montano, who has a habit of being the sole survivor of most missions he is sent on, as everybody working together with him seems to die during their cooperation. As conversation comes to a halt once more, Mithras advises Marcus to keep his eyes open, and the new primogen leaves to return to his mansion once more, where he is greeted by Christopher, who congratulates him on his new position. Marcus feels that a celebration is in order, and Chris suggests going on a hunt for a dragon, or, in lieu thereof just going on a more ordinary hunt in the woods north of London.
In the meantime, Emma makes her way to Gregory’s library, where she is greeted by the Nosferatu who offers her a cup of hot milk with honey, which she happily accepts, sipping from a mug while observes her curiously. She presents him with the Russian book that had been sent to her and asks him to translate its title as well as the handwritten note in it, and Greg confirms the book to be “Despair and Loneliness”, a first edition of the novel by Dostoyevsky, which is signed by the author himself and contains a handwritten note addressed to a friend of his. The conversation turns towards Russian literature as Greg has a fascination for it as well as for Russian history, and as Emma notes that she unfortunately knows very little about either topic, he shows her an art book about Russian Orthodox churches and explains the similarities to Byzantine architecture, to which Emma listens with only modest interest. The Brujah explains that unlike her sire, she is unfortunately not very academically inclined, and after offering his condolences for Letho’s death, whom the Nosferatu didn’t know well, Greg gives a few subtle stabs at Emma. She tries her best to remain unfazed and thanks him for the translation, while also offering the book in exchange for money or a small boon, as she is of the opinion that with his appreciation for Russian literature, he would be in a better position to appreciate it than her. As Greg says he has little to offer in the way of boons, he would prefer to take her up on the offer of buying the novel from her, and mentions a fair price for it, which Emma accepts. He also wonders whether she might not want to take a few other books with her, and mentions that if she is looking for recommendations for something more appealing to her tastes, she might want to ask her clanmate Miranda for details.
While Sinead is on her way home, she listens to her animal companions bickering and throwing insults at each other and tries to keep them both placated. She makes her way through the building looking for Albert, and asks him to refrain from visiting the house for the time being and stay somewhere else; immediately after this conversation, she notices that doors open and close on their own, and decides to take her advice to heart as well, leaving immediately to find the cathedral that Marcus mentioned. Upon arriving, she discovers that she is out of luck as the church is closed and nobody answers her knocks on the nearby living quarters, so after making note of the church’s opening hours, she travels through the city to Belinda’s brothel, finding the Ventrue just returned from a ride and still in her riding clothes. She inquires about Julian, and Belinda confirms that the fledgling did indeed visit her brothel, but she refuses to give up any more information regarding his business. Despite Sinead’s affirmations to the contrary, Belinda says that Julian claimed to be independent already when he dealt with her, and that she was asked for assistance, which she granted, though she says that it isn’t Julian who would be paying for the debt. Upon further prodding, she says that she won’t reveal the identity of the indebted party and recommends that the Ravnos instead find an Auspex master if she would like to locate her childe.
With immense frustration, Sinead gives up her attempts to extract further information from Belinda and returns home once more, walking into her living room and finding herself bathed in sunlight immediately, with the noises of birds singing and children laughing off in the distance. She notices that while the layout of the room appears to have stayed the same, the furniture seems outdated; after exploring the house further, this is consistent with every room she enters, and the house seems to be full of life and light wherever she goes. Upon entering the attic, she discovers that her collection of weapons has vanished as well, though she walks over to where they used to be hung and reaches out to grab the empty air, cutting herself on one of the blades. As her blood coats the sword, the mirage fades from her mind, but when she grabs the handle of the weapon it turns into a snake and immediately bites her hand. She shakes off the illusion, though blackness begins to spread from the twin wounds as steps echo behind her, coming up the stairs and closing in on her. Sinead races downstairs without seeing the source of the sound, though while looking out of a window she discovers Incitatus marshalling an army of women in her yard while a similar armada of squirrels throws nuts at the horse. As she leaves the house, she runs face-first into a great swarm of bats and hears a laugh behind her that sounds like it came from a mixture of hyena and human. Trying hard to ignore the continuing barrage of illusions, she scoops up her fox and her raccoon, and asks the animals to look at her hand. Neither of them can see the snake’s bite, though even after shaking off the other illusions, the wounds persist for Sinead. She decides to retire for the day in one of her temporary havens and finds that the snake bite has started to itch terribly after her journey.