Interlude: Cabaletto Andante

The coterie retreated to Violet’s haven in the apartment block where she had recently established control of its residents and superintendent, puzzling over what to do about the entity they had captured in the jar of ashes. While Violet, Jan, and Joseph stayed in the haven, both Sascha and Mila, having taken the worst of the injuries from the fighting, elected to go hunting in the area separately.

Despite his ragged appearance, Sascha flowed through the late-night crowd in a karaoke bar like the proverbial serpent of his clan’s namesake, lightly feeding here and there, with his activities obscured by darkness, smoke, alcohol, and the press of people carousing at the end of the night. Meanwhile, Mila picked up a random North Beach bro and gave him a night he wouldn’t even remember, and left him unconscious in the foyer of his apartment building. Upon meeting up with one another afterward, the two Kindred, still affected by feeding from the drunk and otherwise inebriated prey, fell upon each other in an alleyway, taking the first step in a Blood Bond as they shared Vinculum—an event which led later to a violence-and-blood-edged, sexually-charged interlude between Mila, her ghoul Joseph, and Sascha as well.

Without the assistance of the other three, Violet and Jan were left to secure the haven and the jar, carefully containing it to keep it from breaking and letting its occupant escape; as a result, very little research was actually conducted to further understand the entity as it roiled behind the glass like black smoke, glaring out with hateful yellow eyes.

The next evening, as the Coterie debated what to do about the jar, and the journals they had found in the basement haven, they were interrupted by a visitor. Jan had, at some point, mentioned the haven to his sister Miranda, who paid a visit—as a host to the Sixth, who had come calling to check on their progress. Upon finding out about the jar, it swiftly retrieved it from them, but not after taunting Jan by aping his sister’s behavior to him in a gleeful parody, and quickly backing down Violet (who tried to show her dominance to the Sixth, but whose predatory aura was defeated by its, thus leaving her feeling angry, humiliated, willing to push that much harder for some days to come against any who tried to compete with her).

Sascha later received a text from O’Neill—who had lent him a little aid to finding out who was trying to buy the property where Sascha’s favorite club was located—giving him a bit of information about where to find the small real estate company that was involved. Sascha and Mila traveled to the building and broke in, picking through the place to find records on the transaction, but were interrupted at the last minute by a security guard who patrolled the floor . . . and who turned out to be a very physically powerful ghoul. The fight left Sascha in a more feral mood as the Beast asserted its dominance, but ultimately he and Mila triumphed, although they had to leave a headless corpse and damage to the property behind as they fled.

Jan departed to continue his research and his projects with the Ordo Dracul, as he was unable to entirely dodge his responsibilities for too long, but promised to return as soon as he could with anything further he might uncover about the Sixth and its kin; apparently, by its claim, the ‘sibling’ they had caught in the jar was the weakest of its kind, so finding the remaining handful, and capturing them, would be even more challenging.

Violet, meanwhile, elected to take the journal with her to Madame Kerensky, who was having a private antiques viewing at a gallery downtown. Upon showing her the journal, however, Kerensky flew into a rage, battering Violet about the room and demanding to know everything about where she had found the journal. Despite Violet’s competitive urges, she finally gave in, summing up their visit to the Barrens, and telling some of the story behind their interactions with the entities that had been harassing them.

Kerensky gradually calmed, although she was apprehensive about the prospect of the return of what she called the Aves Dis, the “Birds of Hell.” She knew little of them, having slipped in and out of torpor several times so much that she could barely remember—but claimed that she first heard of them when she went by the name Domina Cassia Aurelia. Kerensky claimed to be as old as the Roman Empire, having reinvented herself so many times that she barely knew who she used to be, but said that the ‘birds’ had shown up time and again in Kindred history, and had their own designs. If Violet and the rest had become a subject of their interest, then she could not (or would not) risk attracting their attention directly either.

In exchange for this knowledge, and having seen Violet’s swift adaptation to her circumstances, Kerensky gave Violet an offer she could not refuse: induction into the Cockscomb society with Madame Kerensky as her Avus . . . and a two-drink Vinculum to enforce her loyalty while Kerensky stayed out of the way.

Interlude: Cabaletto Andante

Owls & Ashes Zsander