“Good men and true in this house who dwell,
To a stranger bouchal* I pray you tell:
Is the priest at home, or may he be seen?
I would speak a word with Father Green.”
“The Priest’s at home, boy, and may be seen;
’Tis easy speaking with Father Green.
But you must wait till I go and see
If the Holy Father alone may be.”
The youth has enter’d an empty hall;
What a lonely sound has his light footfall!
And the gloomy chamber’s chill and bare,
With a vested Priest in a lonely chair."
[Lisa, 13. 05. 2018]
Busy with her many investigations, Sinead spends some time staking out Max’s mansion, where she learns from residing animals that birds avoid the place as they tend to be shot down. With nothing further to gain from observing it, she moves on to looking into the properties of Bill’s mortal family, most of which were somehow related to scandals and bought cheap to be rented for rooms or businesses. The books she has access to show that a lot of transactions were made off the record to avoid taxation, lending more credence to the fact that the husband was a very creative and ruthless business man, which leads Sinead to suspect he may in fact have been Embraced by a Ventrue or someone of a similar mindset and not have died. To verify this fact, she sets up a meeting with Gabriel, asking him if he can summon a person to prove their death. Before examining the business logbook and demanding a written list of questions from her, he demands a favor as payment, as he wants Sinead’s help with a family issue. A clanmate of his has moved to London as an official ambassador, whom he wants convinced to leave the city again, since Mithras unfortunately didn’t kill her on sight. Sinead tries to haggle with him unsuccessfully, and after she agrees to the favor, he promises to send word once he performed the summon. Unfortunately for her, it turns out that Gabriel is unable to summon the spirit, which either means that the person isn’t dead, that they have magical protection from summoning or, which is very unlikely, that they are beyond reach.
With this new information, she meets with Bill in the asylum to talk in private and tells him that the business man who disappeared is most likely still alive and that he should look for him, starting with any Ventrue neonates, to solve the mystery. Surprisingly, Bill shows little interest in pursuing this avenue of investigation, as he explains he only wants to keep his niece safe, to which Sinead replies that he can’t keep her locked up in the asylum forever. Unsure himself of what to do, Bill asks Sinead to stay with the girl for a few hours so he can visit the city, and she agrees, settling down with her to make some smalltalk. This quickly turns into betting what grand solution Bill comes up with, and when the niece confidently raises the stakes to a thousand pounds, Sinead starts to prod her for an explanation for this confidence. The girl soon reveals her grand plan of moving up in the world by marrying a rich lawyer for his money and to use him to destroy lives, as she claims to have a long list of grievances she wants avenged, starting with her uncle and his stupid children, whom she mercilessly criticizes. Unlike her own family, she plans to marry a smart husband to have smart children, which she can use to build a small empire for herself. The two of them are still haggling about the conditions for the proposed bet when they hear a commotion outside.
The second Elysium slowly fills with people, and while Emma greets everyone and makes an effort to be a polite host, she slowly becomes nervous when the majority of Kindred arriving turn out to be Malkavians. She has her hands full with her unsuccessful attempts to keep eyes on all of them at once, and can’t prevent them creating a throne out of stacked chairs, flowers and brocade, nor from taking down all of the decorative curtains in the Elysium to use for their magnificent new piece of furniture.
The cause for all of this excitement soon shows up to the Elysium in the form of Marcus and Christopher, who are greeted at its doors by Angelina and Franklin sprinkling flower petals in their way, which is only outperformed in extravaganza by Angelina throwing a firework into the Elysium itself as the four Kindred enter, accompanied by a battle scream. Thus the Malkavian clan meeting official commences, as the numerous Malkavians present in the room rise to their feet, clapping for their Primogen’s arrival as he is handed a live peacock and escorted to his prepared throne. A rather exasperated Emma watches, torn between annoyance since Caroline didn’t inform her of the clan meeting and amusement at how it proceeds.
While they are provided refreshments from the Elysium’s staff, the clan makes conversation among itself, which mostly centers around business and the current plans of those present. In the meantime, the few Kindred not of Malkavian descent sit off to the sides, either watching the spectacle or entirely ignoring it in favor of their own affairs. Not long after, however, the clan collectively departs from the Elysium after Angelina announces that their procession should commence shortly, and Marcus hands the peacock off to Emma, thanking her for her gracious hospitality. Before they leave, they ask Emma for a tune their procession could march to, and after a moment of thinking, she teaches them the refrain of an early Communist march, which is happily spread among those present.
Emma starts to clean up the remainders of the clan meeting, handing the peacock to Shrew and Tom, who promise to return it to the royal garden in exchange for drinks at the third Elysium, and spends some time talking with Reuben Wright, a Ventrue whom she asks to explain the principle behind taxes to her. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have answers for all of her questions and advises her to ask the city council directly, turning the conversation to her newspaper to ask about her local submissions program, as he has a business relationship with an institute studying literary and scientific writing whose students might be interested in the program. Emma happily answers his questions, telling him he should encourage the students to submit whatever they would like, though she explains she personally approves everything that gets printed, so not all submissions actually end up in the paper. The two of them spend some time talking about hauntings and silly ghost stories before Reuben excuses himself for the night and Emma returns to her duties as Elysium Keeper. Luckily enough, the rest of the evening passes quietly, and when Caroline returns in a good mood, Emma shares gossip about the night’s events and persuades the Ventrue to make a donation to her charity in return for the favor of babysitting the Malkavians for a night.
The clan itself has moved on in a colorful and extravagant procession, travelling through the city accompanied by music and attracting attention all the way to the asylum which is managed by Stanley. The inmates greet them with cheers, and Marcus is forced to improvise a speech as they arrive, during which someone throws a live chicken out of one of the windows. Before the group heads inside, they carry a chained and lavishly decorated box from their procession to the building’s wall, raising it to a certain window and securing it. The noise attracts the attention of Sinead and her ward, who observe from a window and notice that the Malkavians proceed to enter the ward one is supposed to stay away from. On their way, the clan passes by the room, and Marcus explains to Sinead that they’re having a clan meeting.
Inside Owen’s cell, the inhabitant of which is gagged and bound to a chair, the group lifts the box inside and opens it to reveal the hatter sitting in a workshop and, seemingly without a care in the world, continuing to work on his creations. Once everyone has settled down, they untie Owen, who promptly complains about the number of visitors but begrudgingly sits down among them to listen to Marcus, who addresses his clan collectively to introduce himself formally as their new Primogen and describe some of his travels, weaving them into a story about the dichotomy between high and low clans during times before the Camarilla’s formation, trying to impress upon his clan members the power they wield and their potential as a clan and painting himself as a mentor to them for all things Malkavian. After this, those present start to scatter in the asylum, either to feed or to have a proper party with the other inmates.
One of the clan’s members stumbles upon Sinead and the niece she is watching, who are discussing whether to join the party or not, and when Sinead asks the woman for her name, she acts hurt by the question and introduces herself as Ophelia before making a dramatic exit to return to her clan members and promptly scheming on ways to prank the Ravnos in retaliation. Since she promised Bill she would keep an eye on his niece, Sinead tries to convince her not to join the party for fear of her mental state, but when she opens the door to leave the room, she finds herself face to face with the real Incitatus and is immediately surrounded by a group of Malkavians who harmlessly but nonetheless unnervingly prod fun at her. Finally giving up as the niece already stole her way out of the room, Sinead joins in their shenanigans as well.