Ninth Movement: Pasticcio Bruscamente

Shortly after her visit with Madame Kerensky, Violet had to explain to Jan why she was visiting her mentor so often; the revelation that she was also being partly bound to the Mistress of Elysium was an unpleasant one to Jan, provoking some degree of jealousy and suspicion. There was no recourse other than for Violet to submit to the Vinculum, however, lest Kerensky change her mind about sparing Violet.

Sascha’s inquiries finally turned up the address for the recently-formed real estate company, Pacific Leasing LLC, and he and Mila made an after-hours visit to its location in the Financial District. After breaking into the building, the two swept the offices, finally turning up some useful information about a local SF resident named Charles Drew, who was apparently financing the purchase of the building where Sascha’s favorite club was located. Their efforts did not go unnoticed, however; a security guard patrolling the area entered the building, and upon confronting them, turned out to be a very physically powerful ghoul. The fight between him and the two Kindred still resulted in his death, albeit messily, leaving the offices a bullet-riddled, blood-spattered mess, and Sascha with barely any answers to the identity of the buyer beyond a few legal documents with his name and address. The only other clue they could determine was that, to Sascha, the ghoul’s vitae bore some of the same taste as that of his own; the Regnant was undoubtedly a Daeva.

Elsewhere, upon inquiring with Doctor Kaintz and Jan, Violet was informed that the Kogaion, Shen Xiao Wei, had been informed of her request to have an audience with him, and, to her puzzlement, would know when she was coming. Jan led her through Chinatown, not entirely sure himself where he was going, yet still moving as though drawn to their destination by some unseen force. Upon arriving at a particular building in Chinatown, he remarked that they were perhaps near where he had been before, but this was not the exact same location.

Nonetheless, upon entering, he and Violet were met by the same diminutive childlike figure who had escorted him in the past, and the two were brought to a room with the ancient-looking Kogaion seated in its middle, and his three mysterious black-clad attendants carefully waiting in the corner by the window. Violet carefully tried to explain the predicament of the Coterie without actually saying much, although the Kogaion seemed to have some understanding regardless. In only a few brief whispered words, he asked if Jan was willing to pay for his assistance, and upon the Ordo student’s acknowledgement, seized him and fed from him in a sudden, terrifying, and brutal display. In exchange for nearly being drained, Jan and Violet were given a small wooden box filled with even smaller leather and cloth pouches, and escorted out. Their path of egress from the building bore no resemblance to their way in, nor did the location of their exit, and later afterward, neither found they could tell anyone else of what had happened.

Overcome with curiosity, Violet opened a few of the pouches, finding one filled with tiny rusted nails. Another contained a powdered yellow herbal substance like dried, finely-crushed leaves. A third held a pair of human eyes, appearing freshly extracted, still glistening and apparently undamaged, their pupils even responding to light. She opted not to open the rest of the pouches.

The next night, Violet returned to managing her new holdings, and trying to figure out just how to petition Madame Kerensky for any assistance possible, while Jan continued his research for the Order. Mila and Sascha went in search of Charles Drew, finding his house in Diamond Heights empty but for an evening housekeeper. Posing as business partners, they easily persuaded the woman, by a combination of Dominate and Majesty, to let them stay around and wait for Charles after she left. Several hours passed as they searched his house, and waited for him, finally returning to staking out the house from their car outside, until he finally returned in the early hours of the morning, apparently after spending a night out, and with another man in tow.

The two Kindred dismissed the other man accompanying Charles, then entered his home with him again, and interrogated him about his interest in Sascha’s club. The man became slowly more and more agitated, seemingly blocked from telling them much, having been apparently blood bound by another. He attacked Sascha with a kitchen knife, but was quickly subdued and fed from—again, discovering that he was under the influence of a Daeva—and they managed to get a single name from him: “Barton.”

The next night, Sascha and Mila were met by a ghouled member of the Prince’s security team, deputized by Bishop Esteban to bring them to that night’s court being held in an upscale hotel in San Francisco. Upon their arrival, they were shown video footage taken by a night-vision surveillance camera placed outside Charles Drew’s home, which showed them attacking the man and feeding from him. Although the Fading Visage meant they could not be identified by anyone unfamiliar with them, they were accused of harassing and poaching another Kindred’s property—in this case, by Miles Barton, the Harpy, still envious of Sascha’s success in the All Night Society.

Apparently growing bored with the on-and-off feud between the two, Prince Matthias decreed that their issue would be settled, once and for all, by single combat to Torpor, and a crowd quickly gathered at a secluded location once word spread of the upcoming fight. Unfamiliar with melee weaponry, Sascha nonetheless chose a heavy polearm, while Barton took up a longsword and shield, demonstrating a surprising amount of competence in preparing to use it. Mila managed to quickly give some of her own Vitae to Sascha to bolster him before the duel began . . . although this drew Sascha one step closer to a full Vinculum with her.

The duel was swift, and violent, with the combatants matching each other in insults and in damage to their bodies, until Barton lost control and went into Frenzy . . . and Sascha followed him as the Harpy flung aside his weapons and attacked him with bare hands and bared fangs. The two tore and ripped at one another, turning the duel into a vicious brawl. Ultimately, Sascha tore Barton’s throat out with his fangs, rendering the other Kindred torpid and barely recovering from Frenzy before he could do further, permanently lethal damage.

In the aftermath, Sascha and Mila experienced some of the same almost hallucinatory episodes that they had before when one of Kerensky’s ‘birds’ was near, and later, Sascha swore that he could briefly see the Prince’s eyes flash with a golden-yellow tint as the vision faded. With a small smile, and an apparent appreciation for the violence that had just been done, the Prince called for the Heralds and those others in attendance to acknowledge Sascha as the proper holder of his domain, having defended it from mortal and Kindred hands—albeit somewhat less smoothly than he could otherwise have done.

Mila, meanwhile, was made to wait until the very end of the evening’s court events, and finally met with Adrian Pryor in a nearby office, where he took her to task for her uncouth approach to Kindred matters. Her risks to the Masquerade would not be tolerated further, and her behavior would also reflect badly upon him as her mentor—a slight he would not further tolerate either.

Ninth Movement: Pasticcio Bruscamente

Owls & Ashes Zsander