Arcanum

33. Dilemmas
Of Ethics, dilemmas and ethical dilemmas. And also Jukka.

A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma.


[Lisa, 07. 03. 2018]

Neither the investigation of the line of inheritance nor that of the mistress for whom Bill’s grandniece works turn up any useful information, and Sinead is still pondering the connections in the case when Emma arrives to hand her a copy of Plato, as requested by the Ravnos a few nights earlier. Still confused about her sudden interest in philosophy, Emma inquires once more as to the significance of the book she gave her, and Sinead only cites Robb as the next piece required to puzzle everything together. Unsure what her companion is up to, but with an inkling that it is fueled by the same kind of insight bestowed upon Miranda recently, Emma leaves to attend to business elsewhere with a promise to keep an eye out for Robb.

Outside the city proper, Marcus sits down with Christopher to reveal the information he has learned about his sister, and after processing it for a moment, Christopher admits that his desire is to talk to his sister, to ask her whether she enjoys her Kindred nature, though he is well aware that arranging for a conversation will be a difficult matter, and is thus pondering whether he should simply send a letter. Marcus offers his help once more, citing a contact of his who might be able to assist with delivering a letter, and they discuss different courses of actions and their outcomes, as Chris wants to remove her from her sire’s influence despite seeing no ideal or even attainable path to this result. They are briefly sidetracked when Marcus mentions that he thought about acquiring a staked and boxed Lasombra master for Christopher to use as learning material, though they eventually circle back around to the situation involving his sister. When he suggests hiring Assamites for a kidnapping, Marcus brings up the fact that Stepano owes him a life boon that could be called in once he recovers from his unfortunate condition.

Frustrated with the lack of options, Christopher complains that even should they manage to free her from her sire’s influence entirely, there is still the matter of her having spent the last three centuries with the Sabbat, and kidnapping her just so Christopher can feel better seems an entirely selfish endeavor. Marcus advises him to calm down when he claims the situation has been specifically engineered to be unsolvable, and he uses the opportunity to excuse himself and spend some time on sculpting, or, as he calls it, smashing things, to occupy himself.

Meanwhile, Emma drops by the third Elysium and is surprised to find it not only open, but also entirely redecorated to resemble a tavern once again, though the furniture is much more expensive and not very durable. The walls are also decorated with a variety of posters, ranging from communist and suffragette propaganda to monsters taken from tall tales told by sailors. Walking up to the bar, she notices a sign informing visitors that they have to pay for everything they damage, and she strikes up a conversation with Annabelle, who is tending to the place. It turns out that Atticus decided to send Miranda on a journey to find herself, and the clan has taken over the Elysium in the meantime. Emma compliments the new design choices and, when Annabelle mentions that she is organizing a protest for better pay for workers and voting rights for women, she promises to lend a hand by print additional leaflets for the event. Annabelle mentions a Toreador designer who lives in Oxford and whom she intends to persuade to lend his talents to the cause for a longer period of time, but when Emma inquires as to what kind of persuasion her younger clanmate has in mind, the two women end up in a discussion of ethics in business relationships, as Emma fervently disagrees with Annabelle’s underhanded tactics. They fail to reach a conclusion, however, and since she wanted to head elsewhere during the night, Emma bids Annabelle goodbye and heads out once more.

After leafing through the new copy of Plato she has been given, Sinead makes a brief detour to follow a rather uncooperative Havoc whom she has caught stealing large quantities of food from the kitchen of her establishment. She trails him to a small building nearby a warehouse at the river where she finds that he has passed the food on to the special menagerie of Lala’s circus. With a promise to Havoc that they are going to discuss this matter later, she leaves the animals to their small party and continues onward to the house of one of Bill’s deceased relatives she intends to investigate. After a very thorough search, she discovers a secret stash of valuables in the kitchen area; it consists of stocks, some jewelry, a box of old pictures, a bible with a handcrafted cover and a half-broken silver knife. None of it immediately catches her eye, and well aware that removing a cursed object might harm herself, she leaves the items at their original location. On her way out, a pile of unopened letters catches her eye, one of which is from a real estate agency that the old woman had contacted to sell a house she had inherited from the first person to disappear.

With this newfound information, the Ravnos visits Bill at the hospital, who seems a lot more manical than previously; as it turns out, he had an encounter with Owen that left him slightly worse for wear. After some questioning, his grandniece reveals that her uncle, who was the first person to disappear, had debts due to loans he took out for his business of renting and his misfortune of investing money into stocks before the exchange burned down. With nothing more to gain, Sinead leaves the two of them to search for Stanley, whom she finds in a rather annoyed state, and he is quick to promise her whatever help he can give as long as it means the matter is resolved sooner and both Bill and his grandniece leave the hospital.

To give Christopher some space to process everything, Marcus leaves him be and heads downstairs, where he is informed that a visitor is waiting for him, who supposedly has been called by him. The mysterious visitor turns out to be a very agitated Sir Franklin, who storms into the room in full plate armor and proclaims his intent to rescue Marcus from the terrible monster of migraines, ready at his liege’s call to arms for an assistant. Waving his sword around, he asks where the dragon migraines currently is, and it takes Marcus a good deal of effort to calm his clanmate down and assure him that the monster has already been defeated. He tries to escort him out again, stating that he is needed in the city itself to keep watch for greater dangers, but despite promising to call on him if there ever is a beast to slay or a battle to fight, Sir Franklin seems reluctant to leave. To keep the situation from escalating, Marcus redirects his attention with tales of heroic deeds and fights of both of them. Unfortunately, after Sir Franklin explains that the devil himself lives in Germany and invented bureaucracy, Marcus makes the mistake of mentioning that Mithras allegedly was the person to invent bureaucracy.

Once more it falls to the primogen to dissuade his clanmember from rushing out and foolishly throwing himself into a fight as he now believes London to be ruled by the devil himself. He manages to change topics to Sancho, who as Sir Franklin says had trouble keeping up on his trusty donkey and should be arriving soon regardless, though he needs to wait for his squire before he can set out again. Their conversation turns towards art when Sir Franklin explains that the only time he sat for a portrait, a battle erupted and the artwork in question was destroyed before it could be finished. Lamenting the fact that there are no epics composed about his grand deeds, Marcus offers to contact a friend of his to rectify this terrible injustice, and Sir Franklin happily accepts after being reassured that the friend in question is very talented and would do him justice with her work.

Finally, Emma arrives at her intended destination for the night, which is the second Elysium. She makes some smalltalk with Caroline for a while, then comes back to her previous offer of taking care of the Elysium for a night so she can visit the circus in town. As they hadn’t previously discussed any details, both women agree on the next evening for the endeavor. When she returns the following night, she finds Caroline with a clanmate of hers, whom Emma recognizes as Zac. The Keeper advises her to ask Steven for anything she doesn’t know about the place itself before leaving with her companion. The first three Kindred to show up are all female Malkavians, and Emma greets them as instructed and chats with them amicably. The fourth person to enter the Elysium is Joshua, and Emma strikes up a conversation with him to request a meeting with primogen de Worde. After learning that the Nosferatu need a hand with some boxes at the library, Emma offers to help, which Joshua accepts; he tells her to visit the library on Monday to help out and afterwards meet with the primogen, then shares the story of how they were robbed of a work of Plato by a flamingo. Emma reacts baffled and mentions that she has seen a flamingo at the circus currently in the city, which gives Joshua an opportunity to complain at length about what he perceives to be the foolish new habit of Kindred to keep too many animal companions. He explains that the Nosferatu are currently looking into holding a seminar about proper animal handling, but their conversation is interrupted when Emma notices that Jukka snuck by her without greeting her and is attracting both of their attention with his attempts at being fabulous, which both Emma and Joshua agree are rather horrible failures.

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34. Trifle
Of playthings, revolutionaries and raccoons.

Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.


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35. Cailín Óg a Stór

“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.

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36. What Comes After
It follows.

That’s what heaven is. You get to make sense of your yesterdays.


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37. The Lady is the Tramp

She gets too hungry, for dinner at eight (I am starving)
She loves the theater, but she never comes late
I never bother, with people that I hate
She doesn’t like crap games, with barons and earls
Won’t go to Harlem, in ermines and pearls
And I definitely won’t dish out dirt, with the rest of those girls (Thank-you)
That’s why the lady is a tramp


[Lisa, 13. 05. 2018]

On the grand opening night of Her Majesty, Sinead welcomes her guests in the foyer, handing out ribbons to the Kindred guests so that the servants can recognize them and explaining the rules for the venue, especially since it is open to the mortal public and only parts of it are exclusively accessible to Kindred. She directs Kindred visitors to one of the rooms with her memorabilia on display, where a private performance will commence shortly, separate from the events scheduled for mortal visitors.
This private performance is given by Sinead and accompanied by Sinead as well, who created a mirage of herself to play the piano while she herself plays the lute, performing an eternally popular tune in different variations throughout the musical genres of the ages. Once she reaches modernity, the music stops and the doppelgänger disappears as Sinead welcomes her guests to her celebration on occasion of reaching a new milestone in her life, which she wants to mark by sharing entertaining stories of her life. With a gesture to the room, she explains that the objects on display, which range from weapons to maps, figureheads from a ship, and various other items, all hold stories she would love to tell and invites her Kindred visitors to browse and ask about anything that catches their attention.

As the guests scatter around the room, examining the objects on display and asking Sinead to tell the stories they hold, they are interrupted by a gunshot. Hawke, who just dropped a gun, apologizes for the noise and picks it back up. His companion, a rather overly well-dressed woman, draws attention away from the incident by prompting Sinead for another story. During this time, Emma excitedly gestures towards Hawke, indicating to him that he should shoot her, and he happily obliges. The shot goes wild, however, missing Emma by a few meters and hitting Elias, which promptly breaks his Obfuscate and leads to an awkward situation as Sinead apologizes for the incident and asks Hawke not to shoot while others are nearby. Not really bothered by what happened, Emma gestures once again to Hawke as soon as the attention is back on Sinead resuming the story she had been interrupted in telling, and he pulls the trigger on the gun with no effect. Annoyed and unsure why no shot resounded, the Brujah gestures to her mentor to throw the gun her way so she can examine it, which he promptly does. Realizing a moment too late that she might not be able to catch the projectile safely, Emma sidesteps its path, which causes it to crash into a weapon display behind her, sending glass shards flying.

While Sinead calls for someone to clean up the mess, Emma pockets the gun, which is out of bullets, and notices that Jukka looks suspiciously guilty. The storytelling is resumed once more, but tempted by the now easily accessible swords, Emma asks her companion Ophelia for help in getting her hands on one of them. Ophelia happily acts as her cover, and Emma snatches a zweihänder, sitting down with the blade on one of the chairs and producing a whetstone from her bag to sharpen it with without a care in the world. Once Sinead finishes her story, she notices the blade in Emma’s possession and approaches her to chat, informing her that she doesn’t like using this particular blade anymore since Milan. While the two women talk, the other Kindred rearrange the chairs around them to make space for a duel, which Sinead promptly offers Emma, who happily accepts it. As the two contestants agree to fight until forfeiture and Sinead selects a blade for herself, Mia and a few other Malkavians walk among the spectators to take bets on who wins.

The fight commences with Sinead performing the first attack, which Emma parries before whirling around her with supernatural speed to land a few blows on her opponent. Sinead tries to defend herself by using her powers of illusion, which only deter the Brujah for a short moment before she returns to her merciless assault. However, as Emma is about to strike the final devastating blow to end the duel, Sinead disappears in a blur and avoids it entirely, which causes the fight to come to a halt immediately. As both women observe each other attentively, each waiting for the other to strike first, Emma breaks the silence in an attempt to convince Sinead to forfeit, as her intent had been to end the duel quickly before either can inflict serious harm on the other. It takes some persuading, as Emma refuses Sinead’s offer to continue at a different time, but with some honeyed words from Emma that allow her to save face in front of her guests, Sinead finally relents and declares her forfeiture.
Unfortunately for the aforementioned guests, since Marcus bet a ludicrous sum on Emma’s win, he ruined the odds of the game, which leads to none of those who bet money winning anything. After the spectacle is over, the group scatters, with some Kindred leaving the room to see what the mortal performance is about, as Marcus and his companion Finch do, while others take the opportunity to feed, which Emma takes gladly, or mingle with the mortals.
Sinead stays with her guests for a moment before visiting the public showroom, where she stumbles upon Hawke and asks him for a dance. He accepts, though his idea of dancing turns out to be mostly to stomp around while clapping, though he does grab Sinead to spin her around for a bit, calling her too skinny for his tastes. She asks him for help in sharing stories related to history, though he declines as he claims it would only lead to people dying of boredom before he excuses himself to hunt for something to eat.

A short while later, most Kindred reconvene in the Kindred-only part of Her Majesty, and when Emma returns from her own hunt, Sinead presents her with a kriegsmesser as a reward for winning the duel, saying that she killed her first Sabbat member with this blade, and Emma thanks her profusely for the gift, promising to put it to good use. Afterwards, Sinead acts as a showrunner for a few select mortals who are performing exclusively for the Kindred audience in the room. Once these performances are concluded, she returns to telling stories, this time telling a single story for each Kindred clan, related to people she met of that specific clan as much as she is able to.
This second round of storytelling is interrupted by a servant, who tells the Ravnos that a woman jumped from a balcony in the main hall to commit suicide, and that a doctor was called who confirmed her death. Sinead leaves to investigate the matter and finds the corpse wearing a dress she had seen Ophelia wear a short time ago. Once the supposed corpse is moved to a private room, Ophelia reveals herself, laughing heartily about the matter and telling Sinead that it’s going to be great advertisement. In an attempt to control the consequences of this unplanned Malkavian performance, Sinead reassures the guests that the event was planned and part of the performance before the show is resumed and she can return to her Kindred guests.

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