“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.”

[Lisa, 25. 02. 2018]

After dealing with a small dispute about the scheduling for practices among her establishment’s performers, Sinead pays a visit to the second Elysium in search for information about the three Ventrue who were killed during the recent Sabbat activities in the city. The gossip she hears has little new information except for the fact that Maximilian’s estate is currently being overlooked by Lady Anne, as he left no heirs to it and clan tradition dictates a waiting period of a year and a day until a decision is made regarding the assets left behind.

Marcus passes on Lillian’s message regarding Christopher’s logging company cutting down the Gangrels’ forests, and after he agrees to his childe’s proposal to dismantle the company, he leaves for a meeting at the National Library with the Nosferatu primogen. They chat amicably for a while, as de Worde explains his clan’s preservation efforts for the library and the difficulties of finding sufficient storage for the magnitude of books available for them. The conversation briefly touches on Ophelia’s recent attempts at wooing Gabriel, and de Worde mentions that his clan members take bets on what she does next, then they turn to Incitatus as Marcus apologizes for his horse’s behavior before both joke about his new status as a self-proclaimed matchmaker. It’s not long before a more serious topic comes up, and amidst a discussion about Gehenna and the world ending, de Worde criticizes how Kindred only live for their own pleasure instead of living for those around them. Finally, they touch on Marcus’ purpose for his visit, and he proposes an exchange of knowledge and understanding between their respective clans when need be. De Worde replies that he is getting too old for young people investigating and digging around and mentions a female childer of his, though he declines giving her name, as he tries not to meddle in her affairs. Instead, he asks Marcus if he has any knowledge of one of his clan members deciding to enlighten his catalogers, who have been setting up bird snares as they claim pink birds have been breaking in and stealing books. Marcus denies any knowledge of such incidents and leaves the primogen to his own devices after receiving an invitation to a gentleman-only book club that de Worde mentioned before wishing him a pleasant night.

Meanwhile, Sinead’s attempts at gathering information are interrupted when Emma arrives to pick her up for the surprise she promised to show her, and they catch a cab to the circus. The place turns out to be very busy, and while briefly distracted, Sinead manages to run into a camel and barely avoids getting kicked by it. Emma spots Lillian among the crowd, dragging an adult man along with her and acting like an excited child, so the two women immediately catch up to them. The Gangrel primogen keeps her act up when greeting them, obviously enjoying herself, and introduces her companion as Finchie, who looks less enthused about his fate. She promises to get Emma a birthday gift when she mentions she visited the circus on her birthday recently, and after a bit of small talk the group splits up again, with Sinead running off on her own after spotting some of her performers among the crowd, acting rather suspicious. Emma follows her, successfully blending in with the mass of visitors. Sinead startles the men, whom she recognizes as fire-breathers, and they drop a box they had been trying to smuggle out. Appearing seemingly out of nowhere as none of them had spotted her, Emma rushes in to catch the box before it can crash to the ground, sending the men running away screaming. As they try to leave without attracting more attention, the two women bump into Lala, who came to check on what the ruckus was about. Sinead apologizes for the commotion, and Emma points to where they left the box after a short greeting. As Lala leaves to make sure everything is alright, Emma leads Sinead to the special menagerie she had meant to show her, explaining the strange creatures’ origins and walking around greeting and petting them while Sinead talks to the animals.

The creatures wonder whether Sinead is part of “his” family and ask her if she can set things on fire, then proceed to call her a stupid human when she asks who they mean. Her attempts to learn more about the unknown person only earn her a linguistics lesson on how gender works, and she gives up to briefly talk to the animal which Emma labeled as defensively problematic, though she receives no reply. The rest of the menagerie are making bets on whether Sinead will actually pet it, but before she can try, Emma pulls her away to see the circus show. It turns out to be very much like the show Emma already attended, though Sinead spots Havoc who involuntarily became part of a performance with a group of monkeys. After the show, they meet up with Finch and Lillian again, the latter of whom lets Emma pick from a group of colorful balloons and hands her a bag of special Gangrel candy with a hidden surprise from India inside as well as a rainbow balloon. After congratulating Lala on the performance, the group leaves for the special menagerie again to watch Sinead pet the last remaining animal. The three Gangrel chat about animal handling and idiot handling, and Lillian takes time to talk to the menagerie about their growth, their brood, their homes and what they hunt when they sneak off. Emma pushes Sinead to go ahead and pet the little feathery ball of cuteness, and she fails spectacularly at her attempt to approach it gently. It startles and promptly vomits a quickly evaporating, rainbow-sparkly goo on her that knocks her out both literally and metaphorically. As if nothing happened, Lillian then proceeds to approach the tiny animal to feed it some leaves and pet it, without eliciting the same reaction.

With a very happy Sinead in tow, Emma bids goodbye to the Gangrel to take her companion back to the city. On the way to Sinead’s establishment, they chitchat about what they’ve both recently been doing, and Sinead asks for Emma’s signature in her efforts to be named honorary Brujah. When Jukka and his interesting plans to build houses full of death come up, Emma suggests giving him access to Sinead’s haunted property to optimize the amount of death in the house since she doesn’t use it as a haven anymore, then wonders aloud what happened to Florence and Stepano. She is interrupted by Sinead, who asks if she has read Plato as she wants some Plato for herself, which confuses Emma; however, any attempts to get Sinead to admit what she would need a complete collection of Plato’s works for falls flat. Sinead doesn’t divulge any more information and instead asks the Brujah to teach her that Celerity trick she displayed earlier that evening when catching the falling box. Emma agrees, but puts the topic off for later as she intends to take her dancing before the night is over. It turns out that Sinead knows just the place for fast dancing, so they catch another cab.

The place in question turns out to be an Irish pub where Sinead seems to be familiar with many of those present. Delighted by the presence of so many red-haired people, Emma is content to listen to Sinead make small talk for a while before she drags her onto the dance floor. After a moment, Sinead pushes the Brujah into the dancers so she can learn for herself, and she takes to it with surprising ease. Not content with being left to herself, however, she quickly pulls the Ravnos back for a dance with her, and despite looking quite funny due to their height difference, the two spin around for a while before sitting down at the bar for a drink. Emma once more asks about Plato, and Sinead claims to be interested in ancient history and philosophy, and wants to learn to talk about it at parties. Completely befuddled by this answer, Emma asks her whether she recently met any Malkavians. Sinead’s denial seems doubtful as the Ravnos suddenly spots a man in Roman armor with an apron and butcher knife, who proceeds to put down his helmet on their table before heading into the kitchen; as she pokes the helmet, Emma only sees her touching empty air and asks with some concern what she is doing. In an attempt to change the topic, Sinead asks her whether she knows anything about the three Ventrue the Sabbat hit in their last raid, which she denies. Unwilling to let the conversation die, Emma complains about her recent date with Mithras only to segue into a terrible pickup line that she somehow manages to deliver seductively thanks to her voice before she leans in to Sinead to follow up with another line about pirates. Sinead responds by suggesting she show her companion some piracy and debauchery, and after an enthusiastic agreement, she immediately proclaims that she has to get her hands on Plato for the piracy to proceed. Emma doesn’t take this twist very well as she loudly yells about Sinead being a tease before the other woman drags the Brujah out of the bar who is grumbling that in the end, she decided that Sinead is actually worse than Mithras.

The night after his meeting with de Worde, Marcus and Chris, well-dressed and wearing masks as instructed, leave for a party at what Chris describes to be the most decadent place in the country. The maze of rooms they enter is lit in a play of shadow and light cleverly designed to provide spotlights as well as private spaces. Vivianne approaches them as they mingle with the predominantly male guests to welcome them to her little club before calling over Lawrence to greet them as well. After a short introduction, Lawrence offers to show them around, which Marcus happily accepts, though Chris declines. While on the guided tour of the place, Marcus observes that the guests act in a very familiar manner with each other, as gentlemen dance with each other and joke like in close company. He also notices that the more private conversations seem to only be between people of the same gender. Lawrence points out some rooms and explains that Vivianne and he provide certain medical services to mortals, and notes that while it is usually a gentlemen-only club, the few women who are in attendance have rather special tastes.

At the end of the tour, Marcus returns to sit with Chris to chat and observe his surroundings for a while before they watch a performance on stage that consists of short scenes from ballet or theater as well as musical performances. In their conversation, they are joined by a taller and older man after a while, who sits with them and introduces himself as a collector of ancient Roman and Egyptian artifacts, which catches Marcus’ attention. Chris excuses himself after a moment, leaving the two of them to chat about history, art and their respective collections, and Marcus is extended an invitation to join his group of like-minded individuals, and to display his art in the gallery at the venue. Though he declines to exhibit any of his art, both men take a stroll to look at the pieces on display, which gives Marcus an opportunity to talk at length about art. When they return for drinks, they split up, and as the evening progresses and alcohol flows more freely, the Malkavian eventually becomes more uncomfortable with the undertones in conversations around him and the closeness on display. He meets Vivianne once more, and they chat as they take another tour around the building, visiting the telescope room where she shows him a peculiar painting of the night sky as seen from Jupiter that he finds interesting. Vivianne talks about her assistance for Lawrence who established this place, and mentions that she is an actress with a theater under her artistic direction. When Marcus asks for an invitation to the theater, she mentions that he declined a previous invite which Chris extended to him, for which he apologizes. He also inquires whether she knows a skilled tattoo artist, and though Vivianne declines, she promises to send anybody she meets his way.

They split up as Vivianne returns to attending to the other guests, and using the opportunity, Marcus convinces a man to leave with him to feed, though to his surprise his victim proposes continuing elsewhere when he tries to leave. After unsuccessfully trying to escape by claiming to be here for the first time, Marcus has to be more blunt as his companion offers to just show him how things are done. He eventually manages to disengage and sets off to find Chris, mulling over things in his mind as realization begins to dawn on him, and after a brief farewell with Lawrence the two of them make their way back to the mansion.


Emma: This night was a lot of fun, until it wasn’t. I can’t believe that I’ve had two dates in a row that ended in failures. Admittedly, I didn’t even try to do anything remotely romantic when I was out with Mithras – for obvious reasons I shouldn’t need to state, I mean, other than my total lack of interest in becoming involved with the Prince – but even when I did make some effort … I must be really out of practice. Or I’m just bad at flirting. Or I just pick the wrong people to go out with. I’m not going to give up so easily, of course. If Sinead wants Plato, I will get her Plato, or so god help me. She will get Plato until Plato is coming out of her ears.

I hope I know what I’m doing…

I have a sneaking suspicion that I don’t, however. What am I getting myself into here? I hope it will at least be a fun ride, even if it will end in disaster.

31. "Fun".

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