"I know it was you eight years ago." There was a silence. Jessica was in near shock. How could she know. How?
“I've seen the recordings, Jessica. From the party. Someone did a pretty good job of sweeping everything under the rug, but that's the beauty of cyberspace: some traces will always remain behind.” There was no way the data could be found. Encryption was used. Unless she had a hacker from the CIA, the data couldn't be decrypted.
“Who are you people? Do you know anything about the attackers? Or am I supposed to believe you just happened to be there to save the day? I wan't to know what you did to me." How was Jessica to explain this. There was multiple options. Run away, tell her the truth, lie. Run away seemed the smarter option, but there was no way around the dark, serious woman infront of her.
"If I told you, you would never believe me. It's too complicated to explain, Annie." She thought, there was an option. It wasn't smart though. Not smart at all. Annie would have to figure out what she was herself, rather than her telling her. Then Jessica couldn't be blamed entirely for the breach.
"I did save you. I wasn't behind the attack. I was leaving the party. They were beating you. Hurting you. But you were so young, I couldn't let them kill you. So I hid until they left, and I gave you..." She trailed off for a few seconds. Screw the Masquerade. "...blood."
((If changes need to be made, I'd be happy to make them))
Every now and then Adrien would look up from the ongoings at his own table, and glance around the rest of the casino, to see what was going on around him; by the other tables, and around his own. He knew by now he was most likely being watched, because even though it was still early, casino personnel were trained to recognize his sort before it became obvious that he was a skilled player who was there to make money, not loose it.
He mostly limited himself to glancing up in between hands though, as when he had been dealt his cards, his focus was on the game. With eyes in the back of his neck, of course. He was used to always being on guard, expecting an attack any second. Mostly out of habit, for he doubted anyone would be so stupid as to attack him with dozens and dozens of cameras around. But never the less, he couldn't allow himself to falter.
It was during one of these episodes of looking up from a recently finished hand, that his eyes landed a redhead that was slowly approaching, making her way between the tables while eyeing them with open curiousity. At first his gaze had merely swept across her like it did everyone else, but returned moments later as there was something about her that had caught his attention. Not her beauty - although beautiful she was indeed - for lord knows the casino was packed with young, pretty distractions like that, who all failed to catch his eye, but because she exuded a rare kind of elegance. Not the usual superior one of the snobbish socialites, or even the cheap, faked one of the rich kid wannabes, but an elegance born from the calm kind of confidence of someone who didn't have the useless need to flash their wealth and/or good breeding to anyone who happened to cross their path.
Though his gaze didn't follow her for very long, as soon the cards that started landing infront of him while the dealer announced that this was his last, demanded his attention.
As it turned out, it was yet another "lucky" hand for Adrien, who ended up earning another couple of hundred dollars in chips.
But it also appeared to be the last straw to two of his opponents, who took the change of dealers as an opportunity to withdraw - one with a little more grace than the other - perhaps with the intention to try their luck elsewhere.
Poker face still intact, Adrien watched them leave before turning his eyes onto the new blood that had decided to join in their place. And lo and behold, if one of them wasn't the redheaded beauty he had noticed a couple of minutes ago. He'd caught a brief glimpse of her when she had stopped by the table to give it the same curious look that she had given the others, but he'd assumed that she had then continued on her way from this one as well. But apparently, for some reason, this one had appealed to her more than the other ones. Not that Adrien minded. Despite her elegance, the curiousity that had been displayed on her face signalled that like the players that had just left, she wasn't all that experienced. Experienced players would rarely stroll aimlessly, but rather head straight for one of the tables where their game of preference was being played.
This one hadn't even started yet, and he was already trying to read her. Though her faint greeting, if that was what the look in her eyes as their gazes briefly locked was, gave him mixed signals. It wasn't the soft semi-smile that non-professional female players usually gave, nor was it the curt nod, or the wide confident show of pearly whites. It was just a look, and a look that recieved an equally abstract response, as Adrien returned the greeting with nothing more than a blink of his eyes in acknowledgement.
And true enough, the lady soon proved his very first impression to be wrong. For once. She played with the instinct of a rather experienced player. Even though she took enough risks not to be labelled overly careful, they were never careless or unwise ones.
Alright then... This called for some new tactics on Adrien's part. He still played to win, and started out just as straight forward as he had in the last game, only to eventually, on the rare occasion, start making moves that caused him to loose when he could've won, thus keeping his opponents thinking that he was just lucky most of the time, and not as skilled as he really was. It would keep them at the table, keep them betting, as they would all figure that sooner or later, his luck would run out, and he'd be just a fool playing cards. And those that saw through his little deception - that would be the redhead, if anyone - and realized it was just an act, would still be none the wiser, as just when he seemed to have created a pattern, he made a move that shattered that pattern into a million pieces.
Try as they may, they would not have him pegged any time soon.
It took him a little while, but eventually he had gained most of the chips that the other players had brought to the table, and he decided it was time to wrap things up and move on. He didn't want to bankrupt them all, as by doing so, he'd bring too much attention to himself. As a Kindred, keeping a somewhat low profile was the better thing to do, and he really didn't feel like being accused of cheating by the other players. One never did know if among the opponents there hid the worst kind of of loser.
However, he couldn't really avoid bankrupting a man in his early 40's, who'd been at the table since before Adrien had joined. The man seemed to be quite confident to win this hand, and decided to go all in, only to end up realizing what a major mistake it was. Adrien's hand was better, and as all his chips were pushed over to the young raven-haired man, the now chipless man stood from the table, muttering to himself as he wandered off towards the slot machines.
Seeing as how Adrien had decided to retire as well, he finally allowed himself a faint smirk while he organized the chips into neat stacks to have them exchanged into higher value ones by the dealer. Once that was done, he stood from his chair and dropped the chips into the deep pockets of the long leather coat that he was now carrying over his arm, and with a parting nod towards the other players, he left the table.
(((ooc: Ghanima - No rush. Take your time. )))
Moira and Valerian - The Ritz, Suite #812
A mournful silence persisted, both Toreador momentarily preoccupied with their own tangled thoughts. Having observed the look of pure disbelief emerging into Valerian's blue eyes, Moira witnessed it being slowly replaced by compassion. A pained sigh rose in her throat, one which she had been quick to restrain from ever spilling its tale upon her lips. Although she had been anticipating it as possible reaction, Valerian's pity stung her, precisely because she had accomplished to defeat that omnipresent joy ever residing in his smile and replaced it with sadness. Pity, and with it self-pity, was a dangerous commodity, particularly for one as old as Moira, faced with countless years ahead during which she could nurture it and let it ensnare her mind and soul. She had all but fallen prey to it once, devolving from a prolific artist into a true lifeless shell only a step away from Torpor, but something had quickened her once more. Her other talent, which resided in the field of business and politics, had served as compensation for what she had lost, allowing her to resume the endless trail of never ending life, and slowly become something like her own self again.
"I...I have never thought of stagnation as a possibility... I've just assumed... I've just assumed inspiration would always be there..."
At this, Moira's lids descended heavily over her glowing lavender-hued orbs in a flutter of thick black lashes; Valerian's voice carried a definite strained tone and the words struggled to come out. She nearly regretted ever telling him all she had, fearing she might have disturbed that still fragile bond weaving its way between them. From the moment they had met, a smooth understanding had flowed freely, hastening that otherwise lengthy process two individuals went through when forming any kind of relationship. Moira had felt at ease around him, growing firm in the conviction that both had much to share with eachother, knowledge and companionship alike, which was precisely why she wished to offer Valerian an unaltered glimpse of who she truly was before going any further.
"You must think me terribly naive...I've always felt my inspiration as a part of me. As tangible and real as my arms and legs. I can't imagine what it would be like to... I have never thought of it as something that could be lost."
Moira shook her head slowly, a few auburn curls bouncing lightly against her neck as she did so. She did not think him naïve; she herself had lived with the same certainty for so long. Any artist would, as long as they still felt that wonderful rush of inspiration. It would have been odd to think, and particularly feel otherwise, or dwell on some dark possibility far into the future. It wasn't naivety, but a natural state of mind, and that was the message her silent, understanding smile hoped to convey.
"What I fear," he said finally, as his gaze found hers again, "is loneliness. Not necessarily being alone, but being lonely. To have no one to relate to, or to relate to me. I know there are many that enjoy my company, and while I take some comfort in that, I've come to realize that to many, it's simply because I'm different. I don't scheme, or avenge, or plot, or stab someone in the back. I'm "easy to be around". And so they relax. But they don't understand."
That one statement alone comprised so much insight into Valerian's own soul, Moira felt her senses tingle with the rush of confirmation; she had seen the exterior just like everyone else: the easygoing demeanor, his open, affable nature combined with that seductive magnetism that invited even the most taciturn of beings to lower their defenses and share a bit of themselves with him. Moira however wanted more: she wanted to truly get to know him, to learn what he desired, what he feared, the way his mind worked. She felt eternity would not suffice.
Moira's eyes trailed away from their current focus and searched for his own, unyielding in their scrutiny as though they were searching for traces of doubt. She felt the intensity of Valerian's keen gaze as their eyes met, feeling as though he had been awaiting that silent confirmation. Those final two words danced inside her mind, giving rise to a sense of relief mingled with satisfaction: he believed she understood him. That affirmation served to dispel the webs of doubt pressing in closer and closer, and encouraged her to continue with her story.
“Then I am the fortunate one,” she answered quietly, that otherworldly smile of hers curling into a slight grin. “Immortality hardens the soul, Valerian, it reminds us we are no longer human. Eventually, most of us end up alone, one way or another. Unable to relate, to take comfort in another's company, even feel. It is maybe why some feel drawn to your presence, because you can pour feeling into their unbeating hearts again, even if only for a little while. I wish to do more than that: not to create an illusion of closeness but truly achieve it, if you should also like that. I hope I haven't upset you with my tale, I simply did not wish to deceive you as to who I truly am.”
The moment was there, Moira had seen it in the finality of Valerian's gesture as he replaced her drawing back on the table, his gaze drawn to the covered canvas once more. Josephine's portrait, unseen by any eyes other than Moira's and Elise's in a century, was about to be unveiled, and no words could possibly form a better introduction than the sight of it. As such, the London Primogen inclined her brow and reached for the black curtains, swiping them aside, revealing what lay beneath, shielded by the kind of glass casing museums used as well.
In reality, the painting was closer to completion than the term “unfinished” suggested; the background was finalized, as was most of the figure centered in its midst. It depicted a lavish room, so full of detail that at a first glance, the eye would have difficulty deciding what to look at first: the left side wall, visible in perspective, was a small painting in its own right, illustrating what seemed a never ending row of people engaging in various activities. A closer look however would reveal the fact that those people, apparently pictured in the same place, belonged to different times in history. It began with a group Roman soldiers and their commander overlooking a defeated chieftain on his knees, long blond braids drooping heavily around his face. A horned helmet rested before him. This scene gradually bled into that of a shattered city wall, surrounded by broken weaponry and debris. Death was all around, and a wounded few stirred on the ground, shadowed by the statuesque shapes of three knights bearing the sign of the Cross, swords gleaming proudly in their hands. Before it became too distant, one could just make out the next installment, emerging gradually in sight: a king in full military livery, a gilded crown visible upon his brow. He was shown seated on the back of a beautiful white horse in the middle of what appeared to be a fortress town, surrounded by his subjects, each of them symbolizing one of the primary medieval social castes: a peasant, a merchant, and nobleman, each with a wife at their side. They had one common characteristic however: their heads were all inclined in submission before their king, whose keen gaze pierced the horizon.
As the gaze moved away from the wall, it passed over the remaining furniture and the intricate design of the room's architecture and eventually rested on what was obviously the centerpiece: seated upon a velvet-encased couch was a young woman in a long flowing gown of royal blue stitched with gold thread around the hemline, sleeves and bodice. Numerous patterns intermingled in the fabric, adorned also by white lace and silk ribbons, a garment typical for the 16th century lady, though obviously lavish enough for a king's coronation. Both her hands rested in her lap atop the fabric gathered in a multitude of folds, round sparkling gems seeping through her fingers: diamonds, each of them a speck of multifaceted light: some were frozen in motion as they rolled off the girl's fingers, others were already scattered at her feet. The diamonds symbolized tears and purity alike, a recurring theme present in tales from the folklore of Moira's native land, stories her own mother had whispered to her five centuries earlier, about the heartbroken princess whose tears were transformed into gems by her immortal lover so that they may never be wasted again.
However, that was the threshold where the trail of paint ended. From the base of the neck up, the woman's features faded into charcoal contours, a disturbing contrast with the rest of the composition. It was as though someone had irreverently blotted out her face, leaving it a blank, featureless mask of sketched features, Moira's brush having never fleshed them out. Behind her stood a magnificent wall-length mirror encased by a thick golden frame carved skillfully, reflecting the girl's back and a section of the room which lay ahead of her: a smooth marble fireplace laden with porcelain statuettes and the edge of a tall window decorated with flowers. This secondary vision revealed the faceless protagonist's back and her long chocolate brown hair, combed to a healthy sheen: the viewer might have expected her to turn around any moment and reveal the face which the portrait itself lacked.
“I know it isn't what you expected,” Moira spoke at long last, following a lengthy silence. “But I will explain. During the creation of this painting, I have felt more alive and overflowing with creativity than any other time in my life. Her name was Josephine and she was my driving force, my Muse; my dear, beloved friend. She was virtuous and pure and full of vitality, and I tainted her with my blood. I feared she might fall in love and vanish from my life, or wander to her death somewhere, so I ghouled her to keep her near me. Oh yes, I was very selfish. If there ever was a mortal I considered Embracing, it was her....but I waited. I wanted her to sample a mortal life first, under my guidance even experience a lover's touch, live in the sun, all those mortal pleasures no longer available to us. And then, one night, she was murdered in cold blood. The culprit payed dearly, I assure you...but the painting remained unfinished and my inspiration has been lost to me ever since.”
Turning slowly to face Valerian, Moira interlocked her fingers; a sense of relief percolating her smile which spread warmly and openly: it felt liberating, sharing that story. More than ever, she felt prepared to leave the issue where it belonged: in the past.
“Now you know. I think it is safe to say you know me better than most Kindred alive today, Valerian; please, do not feel regret or sadness, I have felt enough of both to last an eternity. Meeting you yesterday set something in motion, it made me want to live in the present once more. I realized that it wasn't Josephine's death itself that caused me to loose inspiration, it was my inability to deal with the circumstances it happened in. I now feel ready to rediscover it, and I have to thank you for helping me take that first step forward.”
Thanks: 1 in 1 Posts
Once the cards had been dealt Falesyia instantly fell into her routine. From as far back as she could remember, even sitting upon her papa’s lap, she lived and breathed the business of cards. “If you want to be successful, you have to know how to play the game.” She recalled her dad’s familiar words. When she was little, she had taken them at face value. That he had intended to turn her into a marvel at any table in his establishments. But as she grew, and shed her innocence, she understood his statement to be far deeper and much more profound than that. Her father was talking about the game of life. It wasn’t the cards that needed to be read, it was the people, both friend and foe.
It was such discernment that kept her on top of the game. When her father passed in the night, there were many in his company that sought to rule in his place. They were confident that surely a twenty-two year old young woman could not handle the empire her father had begun to build. Thankfully she had been prepared, and they soon learned she was far more prepared to run the businesses, without them, than they had ever dreamed.
Now she found herself at the tables once again, her table. That was one of the freeing things about owning the establishment, it didn’t affect her in the slightest when she lost, because she knew in the end the house always came out on top. And this was her house. She however sensed that the young man across from her would soon turn bored with the company he had kept, so she decided to put up a bit of a challenge for him. Still she studied him, making sure to appear to be studying everyone at the table to avoid piquing his curiosity and bringing about suspicion. As the many hands played, there were several times she thought she had him figured out, when suddenly he’d change his tactics, proving she hadn’t pegged him at all. Every now and then a slightly amused smile would grace her lips when she realized he was on to her, playing her in a similar way she had planned to play him.
The man next to her however seemed all too eager to prove himself and went all out on a single hand. If Falesyia had been any other person, she would have shook her head in disbelief at the move he had made. It was a move which quickly proved to be his last at that table, as once again the raven haired stranger raked them in. That’s when she saw the first hint of humanity to him when a nearly invisible smile tugged at his lips. The satisfaction of winning was a feeling no one could deny, though he had done far better at hiding the satisfaction than most could.
As he left the table, Falesyia couldn’t help but feel disappointed. Her many looks towards him had bared no fruit what so ever. He was not interested in her ego stroking glances, he focused on nothing but the game. With his leaving the table, Falesyia had no desire to remain, but didn’t want it to be painfully obvious that he was her sole reason for having been there. She sat up straight, running her fingers through the front of her hair, causing it to fall on the opposite side. She knew Nicholas would have his eye on her through the camera, and that was his signal to call her on the cell phone in her purse which had a number only known to him. Right on cue the phone rang in her purse, giving her the perfect excuse to leave the table as well.
Though she was still intrigued with his stony manner, she decided against following after him. Instead she made it clear to Nicholas on the phone that she wished to be informed of his actions. If the raven haired stranger provided another opportunity she would seek it, but for now she’d busy herself elsewhere.
She soon snapped the phone shut, taking in her surroundings. The tables were busy, and the slot machines full, just the way she liked it. As she strolled to the bar, she eyed briefly a blonde man in a black suit leaving with a bottle of champagne and a glass in his hands. Though her face did not show it, she was pleased to see a patron enjoying himself, and making her money. When she approached the bar she simply nodded her head letting the tender know she wanted her usual drink. A cocktail that gave the impression she would soon be drunk though in fact there was not a drop of alcohol in it. Her life was all about appearances.
((OOC: veldagia - I'm assuming Zillah is at the Dive. If he's not then I'll edit my post so he'll just be an NPC. Approachable.))
Soon though she came upon a casino she had never been at. Shrugging sh walked in. The bright lights and noise hit her first. LAughter rang in her ears as she passed people. Looking around she took in the scene. She liked it. Not once had she even gambled, so the decision to try it came to her mind. Before attempting anything, first she watched them game that was going on. It was black jack. She knew the game so she decided to join in.
((ooc: srry so crappy. my other name wouldnt take for some reason and it wouldnt lt me reregister with that name, so it is a little different.))
"Then I am the fortunate one."
Upon Moira's rose red lips toyed a faint grin in response to his statement, so soft and calm that in moments the anxiety that had padded warily through his mind and body, was put to rest. He hadn't been sure of what her reaction would be, as he had learned long ago that he had an ability to read too much into things, when it came to Elders. Neonates and especially mortals were often easy enough for his keen senses to read, and even most young Ancillae. But the older the Kindred got, the greater their skill to hide their true feelings - to provide nothing but exactly what they wanted others to see - became. As did their need, it seemed.
It wasn't his observation of her understanding of him, that Valerian had doubted. His anxiety had had nothing to do with that. What he had feared, was that she for some reason would take offense by him telling her about her, by stating what he saw, and that what he saw was the truth. To some Elders, it would've seemed highly presumptuous, especially for a mere Neonate. But from Valerian's simple point of view, it was a compliment, and one that it seemed Moira registered and appreciated, once her velvety violet gaze had delved deep into his and she realized he was indeed being as genuine as always. If there had been a change, it was only one born from the strengthened conviction that he was right, brought by the gentle shaking of her head a minute ago; her silent protest to the possiblity that she would consider him naive.
"Immortality hardens the soul, Valerian," she continued. "It reminds us we are no longer human. Eventually, most of us end up alone, one way or another. Unable to relate, to take comfort in another's company, even feel. It is maybe why some feel drawn to your presence, because you can pour feeling into their unbeating hearts again, even if only for a little while. I wish to do more than that: not to create an illusion of closeness but truly achieve it, if you should also like that. I hope I haven't upset you with my tale, I simply did not wish to deceive you as to who I truly am."
As she spoke, her words took Valerian on a journey from the deepest of valleys, to the highest of mountains. The burdens of immortality - the hardened soul, the loss of mortality, the loneliness, the lack of not only a beating heart, but a feeling one as well - made him shudder internally. The mere thought of any of it laying in wait for him in his future, as he grew older, squeezed the insides of his chest with an iron hand. He truly treasured what he had, and so feared that it would some day drain from him, that eternity would start stripping away the many layers that made him Valerian, and turn the real him into nothing but a memory.
The only thing mentioned that did not fill his mind with distress, was the loss of mortality. It was indeed a true gift, given to all kine as soon as they were born into this world, but he could not mourn the death of his own. He could not weep over mortality lost, when what he had been given instead was a life that held equally many and wondrous things. Yes, it pained him to have lost the beating of his heart, the warmth of his breath, even the heat felt in his loins when in the arms of someone he adored. But in it's place he had been given a life of ecstasy in itself, one that opened up the world to him, and wouldn't have him thinking he knew it all, as jaded, aging humans often did. Since his Embrace, every year that passed had opened doors to things he had yet to learn, and Life never had a more eager student.
However, all thoughts of fears and gifts, paled in the light of the blessing hiding in the last part of Moira's statement. 'I wish to do more than that: not to create an illusion of closeness but truly achieve it, if you should also like that'... She wanted more from him, than just an hour or two in his company. She wanted the very thing he himself had sought for, but never felt the lack of as strongly as he had since meeting her. It was as though she had stirred something within him, awakened a need of which he hadn't been fully aware, but that was now tugging at the shirt sleeve of his consciousness, like a stubborn child starved for attention.
But, before he could answer, and let her know the joy that filled his heart at knowing she found him worthy of such an honor, she moved to bring the covers from the glass encased painting that had been her reason for inviting him in the first place. As soon his eyes landed on it, and all words were instantly wiped from his mind.
By surprise, and most of all by awe. It was indeed a masterpiece if ever he'd seen one, with details so vivid and clear that the sight overwhelmed his sense of perception, flooded it with visual impressions and nearly caused him to groan with frustration over the impossibility to take it all in at once. The background spanned various chapters from history, holding details and figures all with their own seperate tales. Valerian felt as though his mind and imagination were about to burst at the seams, trying to process it all. His eyes darted from one corner of the canvas to the next, drinking in the beauty of Moira's handiwork, savoring every brilliant detail, every hue, as if fearing that if he didn't hurry, it would all vanish into thin air before his eyes.
But as fascinated as he was by the beautifully elaborate background, there was that one thing, the most striking one about the entire painting; the part not painted at all. The face of the young woman, Moira's muse, the part that most viewers would deem the most vital one, was almost blank, only thin charcoal lines guiding the mind to imagine what it would've looked like, had they been joined by the same loving, masterly brush strokes as the rest of the painting.
"I know it isn't what you expected," Moira's voice came softly from beside him, as the painting had drawn him so close that had his body still been breathing, the warm air from his lungs would've clung to the glass. "But I will explain. During the creation of this painting, I have felt more alive and overflowing with creativity than any other time in my life. Her name was Josephine and she was my driving force, my Muse; my dear, beloved friend. She was virtuous and pure and full of vitality, and I tainted her with my blood. I feared she might fall in love and vanish from my life, or wander to her death somewhere, so I ghouled her to keep her near me. Oh yes, I was very selfish. If there ever was a mortal I considered Embracing, it was her... but I waited. I wanted her to sample a mortal life first, under my guidance even experience a lover's touch, live in the sun, all those mortal pleasures no longer available to us. And then, one night, she was murdered in cold blood. The culprit payed dearly, I assure you... but the painting remained unfinished and my inspiration has been lost to me ever since."
When she had started speaking, Valerian's eyes had briefly turned to her, only to return to the faceless woman's portrait when he'd been presented with her name, almost as though he expected her charcoal lips to form smile and her dark locks to billow in a nod confirming Moira's story. A story where every word resonated deep within Valerian, and along with the spirit of the painting, made him feel her loss as though it was his own. But not with the intensity of a recent one, but with the gentle, melancholic ache of a loss suffered a long, long time ago.
And at the same time, studying it left him breathless with admiration and enthusiasm, for never before had he seen something so magic. 'Unfinished' Moira had called it, but to Valerian, it was perfection in it's incomplete state. It was genius, portraying memories and loss on such an emotional level one could not help but to understand it, feel it, relate to it, without even knowing the story.
"Now you know", Moira concluded, with a gentle lightness in her tone that brought Valerian's gaze back to her face, and the genuine smile on her lips. "I think it is safe to say you know me better than most Kindred alive today, Valerian; please, do not feel regret or sadness, I have felt enough of both to last an eternity. Meeting you yesterday set something in motion, it made me want to live in the present once more. I realized that it wasn't Josephine's death itself that caused me to loose inspiration, it was my inability to deal with the circumstances it happened in. I now feel ready to rediscover it, and I have to thank you for helping me take that first step forward."
Had he still been able to, those were words that would've surely made him blush. Not out of embarrasment, but ouf of pure joy and pride, that he had been able to bring her something that she valued, that he had sparked something in her and... helped her. That she had let him, acknowledged him, and not just dismissed him as just the silly little pretty doll that some seemed to wish for him to think he was. Claudia, among others. She cared for him alot, but Valerian would be fooling himself if he thought it was as anything but a possession, an adornment, something that made her look good. In the intense, electifying presence of Moira, he couldn't help but to wonder how on earth he could've gotten involved with Claudia. Yes, he did care for her as well - like a man cares for his lover, a business partner for his associate, and a thrall for his regnant - but it had been foolish to allow her this much power over him.
Though in the midst of it all, he took comfort in knowing that while he might've been foolish to grant her a bit of control, he hadn't been foolish enough to grant her complete control. She had wanted it, she had tried to persuade him, tempt him. But it had always been him that had persuaded her instead, calmly and playfully reassuring her that she didn't need to have him on such a tight leash, since he was already with her by choice.
A choice of which he was now having doubts... The closeness he felt with Moira had him wondering if he by submitting to Claudia, had been too easy, literally, in his desire to connect with someone. After all, they didn't have much in common except The Haven. Claudia had never shown any understanding for him or his art. Interest, yes. Appreciation, most certainly. But she had never seen a depth to his art, nor to him. To her, they were both just pretty things to surround herself with.
Moira, on the other hand...
"If it hadn't made it sound as though I thought you simply meant to be kind, I would've said that you flatter me far more than I deserve," he said with a faint, coy smile curving his lips. "Instead, I will say thank you, for allowing me to have an impact, and for sharing this with me. I'm touched and deeply humbled. And...
His voice trailed off as his head turned to allow him another look at the mesmerizing painting, and silence had settled for a few moments before he continued;
"If you don't mind me saying so... I find that it does seem finished. Her face is left for only one person to truly remember, as it should be; the one person that held her face more dear than anyone ever could, and so is the only one deserving of remembering it."
With that, his head snapped back to face her, raven strands dancing across his cheek before settling as a gentle caress along his ivory cheek.
"But that is simply my humble interpretation", he added with another shy smile, and then swiftly continued, as there was more he was eager to get off his chest. "And as for your wish... Closeness is indeed something for which I yearn. With you more than anyone."
His voice carried the same distinct tone of open sincerity as when he had stated she was among the few, if not the only, that had made him feel as though she understood him. He really did wish to get close to her, to share more with her, things that no one else knew. Things that his soothing and seductively playful persona eased out of the minds of those around him, and made them forget, or simply not care about; the part of him where the sorrows and tribulations of his past were hiding, safely covered by that endearing exterior that so few managed to look beyond.
But he also wanted to share with her the sensation that with other Kindred was sweet bliss, but with her he felt would be so much more. However he wasn't sure of the right way to suggest it, or if it was even the right time, and so he lightly bit down on his lower lip, deciding to wait, for now.
Elektra - what you wrote is fine by me as long as you know there are probably going to be consequences. Oh and I know Aeode isn't exactly being sweet, but she's rather emotional at the moment and not terribly reasonable; also she's going to need some convincing where the blood thing is concerned;] ))
Aeode and Jessica - Outside The Haven
Had there been any doubt in Aeode's mind that she indeed had the right person before her, Jessica's persistent silence dispelled it. A tiny fragment of her had been expecting those rosy lips to tighten into a contradictory smile and tell her she had made a mistake; despite having seen the images with her own eyes, everything had a strong unreal feel to it, as though she hovered between two endless nightmares that pulled her back each time she struggled to awake.
Jessica's silent astonishment in the face of Aeode's confrontation also confirmed what she and Dez had uncovered, that someone had been extremely thorough in erasing any proof of the events that had taken place in the parking lot, even if it meant destroying possible vital information leading to the discovery of those responsible for the massacre. That sudden, heart-stopping realization fanned the fires of Aeode's anger, which Jessica's choice of words stirred further:
"If I told you, you would never believe me. It's too complicated to explain, Annie."
Drawing in a long breath, Aeode's eyes narrowed to reptilian slits, sparks flying out of them, her lips reduced to a thin, straight line. She could feel her jaws clenched together, the only stopper for the foul words which bubbled in her throat; threatening to unleash a deluge of vitriol. Unfortunately for Jessica, she had chosen the worst manner of answering possible given Aeode's state of mind, who restrained herself only though great efforts, what remained of her calm rationality rapidly ebbing away.
“My name is not Annie,” she began coldly, glaring fixedly at Jessica, seized by a perverse desire to shock this woman through any means possible, to throw her off balance and wipe that patronizing note from her tone.
Before she could go any further however, Jessica resumed her statement, succeeding in wiping all current thoughts from Aeode's mind, each word delving deeper and deeper into her mind, resonating painfully:
"I did save you. I wasn't behind the attack. I was leaving the party. They were beating you. Hurting you. But you were so young, I couldn't let them kill you. So I hid until they left, and I gave you...blood."
Eyes full of disbelief, Aeode blinked fast several times as though she was trying to clear her view, for a few breathless moments feeling certain she had misheard her: had the word blood really been spoken or was she beginning to hallucinate? She kept searching for any indication that Jessica was joking, a ruthless, tasteless joke but infinitely better than the possibility that she was being serious.
“Wonderful, just wonderful!” Aeode exclaimed, throwing her head back as a deep, tired sigh spilled off her lips before leveling her gaze with Jessica's once more. “Why do I get to meet every basket case in this city? Tell me, do I have “Idiot” written on my forehead or something?”
A memory surfaced unbidden in her mind, a place she had re-visited countless times in her nightmares: the parking lot, as she lay broken on the harsh pavement, blood slowly pooling underneath her. The pain was gone then, replaced by deaf silence and numbness; she could feel herself grow remote, her mind slowly being extinguished as her heartbeats slowed down. Aeode remembered thinking she must be dying, and that it wasn't that bad after all, until the moment an electrifying jolt shook her awake, pulled her back from the abyss. She had struggled a million times to pinpoint an identifiable reason for it, the source of that exquisite wave of heat that revived her body and senses and for which she had secretly craved for a long time since. Nothing she could think of made sense, the doctors had said no drugs were present in her bloodstream, but a drug had remained Aeode's best theory. And then, there was the mystery of her miraculous recovery, which when analyzed closely was just as staggering as Jessica's words.
“You're not serious. Are you...?” the young woman added quietly; she no longer sounded enraged, only astonished. “What do you mean you gave me blood? I mean, what am I supposed to believe, that you gave me blood to drink, like some...vampire, and it fixed me?” A brief hollow laugh shook her. “Do you realize how insane that sounds? Look...I know that you probably don't care, but it is very important for me to know the truth. I've been searching for answers and the person who helped me ever since: if it really is you, please don't do this: don't lie to me.”
Simple and subtle. The communication between the two friends, the two Ventrue, embodied an implicit understanding of small words and gestures. To anyone else, it might not seem like a greeting between two friends, but rather that of acquaintances, or maybe even nothing more than business associates. But there were subtleties that to the keen-eyed observer would reveal that there was indeed a display of not only mutual respect, but camaraderie. Although Damian's words were polite and his posture that of an emperor in the presence of an esteemed subject, his tone held a certain lightness not often heard within the four walls of his office. Archon had not been made to wait outside, like any other visitor would most like have to do, regardless if Damian was busy or not. Further more, the way he greeted Archon with a simple but firm handshake proved that he felt there was little need to require any indication of the Primogen's submission.
The signs in Archon's reply were simple and subtle as well; he thanked his friend for the invitation to sit, not his liege. He had understood Damian's delicate show of respectful friendship, and unconcern for making a show of their difference in status and title. This was a social call, not one meant for business or Kindred affairs.
However, as despite the invitation to sit Archon chose to remain standing, so did Damian, while the dark-haired one of the two gentlemen added;
"But may I first present you with this gift from my journey."
He motioned for Roe to approach with the white wooden box in his arms, and once close enough, Archon retrieved a small key from within the folds of his clothing, and unlocked it, only to then push the lid open and reveal a most exquisite sword of on a bed of white satin; a sight so bright for a moment it almost blinded its beholders. A shiny blade of steel, decorated with delicate emeralds at the base and chinese symbols at the tip, a grip of pure white bone, adorned by a pommel in the shape of the most noble and suitable of animals; a lion.
A gift, where the item itself was as much a compliment as the gesture was.
"The inscription says; 'My rightful owner hath no need for me' ", Archon explained, with a smile upon his lips. "It is a token of my loyalty. You will always have it."
The smile was met by one forming on Damian's own lips, both at the gift, and the words accompanying it. Had it not been because he trusted Archon completely, and knew that he did so with good reason, such a gift might have made him suspicious. As a Prince, as a previous Primogen, as a Ventrue, even as a prominent knight, Damian had learned there were ever so often times when people would try to blind him, make him relax in the face of someone who was after earning his trust while harboring ulterior motives of the darker kind. It was a mistake they only made once. Damian Alexander was not a man that would ever fall for such inane tricks. Something of which Archon was very well aware, and so even if the two hadn't formed a friendship and a mutual respect over the years, he would know better.
However, Damian still found it most fortunate that they were indeed friends, for Archon himself was a man of many fine qualities. A man that brought pride to his clan, and his Prince, and honored him with such a gift along with words of everlasting loyalty.
Though the Prince's only first reaction, was that faint smile, and a graceful inclination of his golden-haired head. No empty phrases of "You are too kind", You flatter me", or other generic, well-rehearsed statements usually offered when presented with a gift. No, nothing of the sort. Just his ever gracious demeanor, with that vague but almost warm smile to go along with it, to let Archon know that it was greatly appreciated.
Then, Damian slowly rounded the robust but elegant desk, to closer inspect the sword, and feel it's weight. Deft hands lifted it from the satin bed, exploring it, handling it with the skill of a natural born warrior. Many centuries had passed since last he had set foot on a battlefield - a real one, and not the metaphorical kind of a conference room or a board room, or even a conclave - but swords had not grown unfamiliar to him, nor had his skills been forgotten. His right hand still gripped it firmly, balanced it with ease, and every small movement of his wrist sent it cutting smoothly through the air. Yes, it was a ceremonial sword, but it was also nowhere near useless. If the occasion called for it, it would serve well as a real weapon.
When satisfied with his examination, Damian carefully returned it to the box in which it had been brought, and then motioned a request for Roe to put it down at the large conference table to his right.
"A most generous gift", Damian said, as his eyes returned to gaze at Archon, and the look therein suggested he was not only talking about the sword itself. "I will treasure it dearly."
With that, he once again motioned for Archon to sit, while he himself returned to his place behind the desk.
Thanks: 1 in 1 Posts
Non-existent? Now Ada was almost sure he was Malkavian. Not that it bothered her, this quiet kine seemed uncharacteristically unmalkavian. Of course, that didn't mean it was a sane as he seemed, but he appeared harmless enough to her.
"You know, I think you're right." The man's low voice broke through her thoughts. He stared curiously at the chip of concrete, seemingly unsure of what to do with it.
"Oh and I suppose I should tell you, I am Caraltian Heresa." He said, gazing still at the gargoyle. Ada nodded in acknowledgment, unsure of what else to do.
"Ah. Well, even if you do find the clubs somewhat intimidating, you should come some time. The Haven in particular is wonderful." With this said, Ada adjusted the edge of her dress (http://www.fredericks.com/images/2/20799_lrg_8201.jpg) and walked purposefully down the street, disappearing into the darkness.
Just like Adrien had predicted, the noise around him had faded as soon as his mind had become focused on the game, all the chatter and cheerful little dittys from the slot machines blocked out by the cunning whispers of his thoughts. His full attention had been in the game, and its participants. There was nothing trivial that could disturb him when he entered that mind frame. For if there was one thing he knew how to do, it was concentrate on whatever task lay ahead of him, and to let nothing slice through it, unless it was something that was a possible cause for alarm. If there was danger, he would most likely see it coming, no matter how involved he was in his current doings. When still mortal, when still a hunter, his senses and his instincts had been the only things he ever fully relied on. They had been sharper than most, even sharper than the senses of some Kindred, that had yet to take heed to their dark gifts. His 'profession' had required it, and his dhampir nature had provided it. It had bestowed a few blessings on him, other than just a slowed down process of aging.
The moment he stood from the poker table, however, the stillness lifted from his mind, and the cacophony of sounds returned with a vengence. Again the constant and incessant noise intruded on his senses, and caused a slight frown on his face. To him, it felt much like waking up to the merciless blaring of a relentless alarm clock.
Casually he started strolling along the various paths in the casino, giving off the impression that he was just exploring the rest of what it had to offer. In reality, behind the dark, green-tinged eyes, he was scanning the other tables for one that seemed like it would offer a bit more of a challenge. The previous, although providing him with a good start, had soon bored him with it's all too predictable players. There had only been one that he had found to be a remotely interesting opponent for more than ten minutes. The redheaded female that had joined when the dealer had been switched. She had offered a bit of a challenge, not just when it came to the cards themselves, but also being read and analyzed. Like him, she'd had a couple of tricks up her sleeve as well, ones that on quite a few occasions had been the demise of the fool that had been sitting next to her, and who had left the table empty-handed. She had put one of the many powers of her gender to the best of use; giving glances that signalled an interest, without being overly flirtatious and thus obvious attempts to distract. No, she had kept it on a barely noticable level, that left the reciever of those glances wondering, hoping, and in the long-run far more distracted than any blatant flirting ever could, as it took far more brain power to try and discern whether or not she was really taking an interest, or if it was just your imagination. Musings like that would take away from a man's concentration, and turn him into nothing but a big sap. She had tried it on Adrien as well, but alas, his century long solitude and near abstinence had left him close to stone cold to a woman's advances.
After about twenty minutes of passing by various tables, catching glimpses of the players' skill as he did, Adrien finally settled for a table where everyone seemed to be experienced enough to offer more of an overall challenge.
Much to his satisfaction, after a few hands, his suspicions had been confirmed, and decided that this, this would be his main game for the evening. His opponents were wealthy, experienced, and in some cases quite cocky; all qualities that fuelled his desire to beat them.
This time, he was going to play it rough.
There was no higher love, than the one for your clan. At least not in Archon's opinion. However, he was a man who had never been in love with anything or anyone else. Being an undead, a baronial Ventrue, could not have happened to a more suitable man. It was as if being kine at all was redundant, although not a complete waste of time, since those years defined him as a Ventrue and built the base of the man he was to become. And he had come a long way since then. He had worked himself up, to the finest surroundings a man could ask for in one single lifetime alone. It was not a coincident, that he was standing tall even in the presence of royalty. He had prooved himself, served his time, and no one had a reason to doubt him. Not even the Prince himself. Archon was the kind of clansman that gave the leaders peace of mind. The future of the Ventrue was safe, as long as there were still members like him. The thing that put leaders at ease, leaders like Damian, was the fact that Archon did not aspire to reach higher than his current state. Even if he one night could and would make a city some where in the world a great Prince, he did not desire it. Archon was, not matter how rare, content. Therefore, there was no tension between him an other Princes, between him and Damian. Even if Damian was not one bit worried that Archon would want to claim that particular throne, it always helped the relation, if there was no such ambition at all.
Being Primogen was burdensome enough. Archon had his share of work, picking up where he had left off when he went away, and also learn what had happened since then, during Damian's reign as Primogen. No matter how much information he had recieved on his journey, it was not as good as hearing it directly from Damian. His Prince and good friend always had a way to view matters, a way to turn the tables, that was not evident to just anyone.
And when Archon spoke of loyalty, he meant that word in every sense of its meaning. He was careful with words, and did not fling them around like a predator reckless with the carcass. Oh no, he even saw beauty in some of the things he said. Almost like if he had tried on the Toreador skin, he could sculpture sentences like a true artist. However, using them like nothing but a Ventrue. That blue blood of theirs, ran clear as crystal through Archon's veins, ensuring its claim on him.
Archon was pleased with Damian taking his time. Instead of speaking bluntly, offering the first random thought that came through his head, he always let silence grant him a moment to think. Another sign of a greatness. Much like Archon had been thorough with his search for the prefect sword, Damian executed his notions without negligence or omissions. The very thing that could instill fear in others, gave Archon warmth. He watched the Prince rounding his august desk, to claim the gift with just the right knack. When he picked it up, Archon could picture him wielding it skillfully in the face of an enemy about to run for his life. It brought an amused smirk to his lips, both for the vision and the memory of a time when a sword was only a decoration for those that could not handle it. In these damned nights, they had all had to learn how to fight without weapons. And also, without diciplines. The kine grew cunning, they were not as superstitious anymore, forcing the Kindred to grow even more cunning. Hence the Masquerade, hiding their special powers and dreadful ways.
The Prince seemed pleased. Very much so. Mission accomplished. The maker had really been a genius, creating a sword centuries before the rightful owner would have it in his possession. It had been stored away, in a dusty old place, filled with legends and myths. For a Ventrue, the appreciation for the past could make them grateful for such a place, even if the state of it did not appeal to their dignified ways of unlife. Remembering what had been, prepared them for what would come.
This sword would always tell the story of the unique loyalty from a Primogen to his Prince, a bond forged with deeds that seperated great men from the rest. Archon had acted on the behalf of the Prince, making this item only a symbol of what they both already knew.
In Damian's faint smile and nod, there was knowledge to gain. What Archon knew and felt, this subtle recognition confirmed. In Ventrue blood and sovereign supremacy, they remained friends.
When Damian finally spoke, he said it all in just a few words. First, he waited for them to find him, and then, he did not use too many of them. A great man did not need to persuade his listeners, with words upon words. And Damian did have a way with them, giving the reciever a feeling of being selected.
"A most generous gift", he said, clearly with more than the sword in mind. "I will treasure it dearly."
Archon gave a nod in return, pleased with his Prince, pleased with himself. An everlasting strife to succeed had not disappointed him in this matter, but rather granted him pride. If anyone deserved the respect and faith of the Prince, it was indeed Archon. And no one would hold it more dear to their heart, than him.
Again, the Prince motioned towards the chair. Yet another offer to sit could not be denied, for there would not be a third. Archon smiled, inclined to do so. He turned to Roe, gave him a slight wave with the hand, before he sat down. This caused the Gangrel to back away from the table were he had just placed the box, and not turn his back to the Prince until he was ready to exit the doors.
"How have you been, my Lord?", Archon asked, resting his elbow on the sidepiece of the armchair, while the hand placed two long fingers under his chin. "And our city?"
Valerian and Moira - The Ritz, Suite #812
Since the moment of its conception, Josephine's portrait has been received quite differently by each of those Moira had granted a glimpse of it. Excluding Valerian, Josephine herself and Matthias Cornellus, that number remained exceedingly small: only three others had ever seen what lay beyond the black veil which shielded the canvas.
The first was a Toreador Elder by the name of Renato Cristoval, Moira's second closest friend during her stay in Venice, several centuries her senior as well as Prince of the city at the time. He had stood witness to Moira's first enthusiastic brush strokes driven by boundless inspiration and had been there to experience the heartbreaking loss of it, remaining firm in his conviction that it was a natural, temporary response to a traumatic event. His untimely Final Death only years later had prevented him from ever revising that point of view.
Afterwards, the painting remained concealed for nearly four centuries until Moira had found herself persuaded to unveil it for another: Robert Falconbridge of the Ventrue Clan and monarch of London during the greater part of the 20th century, a good friend as well as business associate. Like most of his Clan, Robert had scanned it with his critical gaze, glimpsing its artistic value while at the same time failing to fully grasp the reason why it mattered so much to Moira. A great appreciator of her art, Robert was firmly convinced there were nothing but ancient, illogical fears which stopped her from surpassing its greatness.
The third of these was a promising Toreador by the name of Elise Meyers who had just reached Elderhood, ascending to the position of Whip under Moira's guidance and support. Quite the opposite of Robert, Elise strongly believed that her benefactress' artistic prowess depended on the painting's completion, that it was the final, vital step in achieving closure.
For a long time, Moira too had subscribed to the same point of view; lately, however she wasn't sure anymore, a dissension growing stronger with each night, reinforced beyond doubt by Valerian's reaction:
"If you don't mind me saying so... I find that it does seem finished. Her face is left for only one person to truly remember, as it should be; the one person that held her face more dear than anyone ever could, and so is the only one deserving of remembering it."
Each word resonated with almost painful clarity in Moira's consciousness, as though someone had at last given sense to the reluctant fragments of thoughts tugging at her for so long. “It does seem finished”...contemplating that one sentence, the Primogen inclined her brow several times in silent agreement, her gaze lost among the multitude of colours etched into the fabric of the canvas before her. Almost effortlessly, memories superimposed Josephine's real life features on the round oval contoured in the center, the way she remembered her: a young, delicate girl with long brown hair, striking green eyes and a smile always accompanied by two small dimples on either side of her heart shaped mouth.
And then, unbidden, a very different glimpse surfaced before Moira's eyes: a young woman sprawled on the floor at an odd angle, chocolate brown hair fanned around her blood stained face forever frozen into an expression of pure disbelief, as though she still wished, beyond the grave, to question the reason why she had been so brutally murdered.
"But that is simply my humble interpretation. And as for your wish... Closeness is indeed something for which I yearn. With you more than anyone."
The sound of Valerian's voice plucked Moira out of the maze of her thoughts, returning her to the present, the the briefest tightening of her brow being the only outward expression of the disturbing scene briefly summoned forth. As soon as it had lowered itself across her gaze, the darkness passed and Moira's lips spread into a soft smile bearing both gratitude and joy.
“Perhaps you are right,” she agreed and they both exited the studio, re-emerging into the candle lit living room. “I've held on to the past so tightly, it has kept me away from what the present has to offer. And guilt, perhaps. I loved that girl dearly, but she is dead and I cannot change it. She is part of my past, and I am very glad to have you, Valerian, a part of my present. It can be as simple as that and not any less true for it.”
At length, Moira lowered herself onto a soft velvet cushioned sofa, leaving enough room at her side for Valerian to sit if he so wished. She yearned to know more about him, and at the same time did not want to rush it; time was a commodity she had in abundance.
Or did she? Los Angeles was not her home - her duties as Primogen awaited back in London, and not even her newly-found companionship could distract her from that fact. Granted, Elise was only one of the very capable Toreador who could have replaced her if it came to that, but Moira was much too accustomed to that lifestyle to simply abandon it without compensation; the enterprising politician was as much a part of her as the artist Valerian had come to know.
It was a thought which reminded her of Damian Alexander's invitation and allusions towards a business proposal, something Moira decided not to mention to her new companion just yet; not until she had something concrete to tell. For the moment, she satisfied herself with just enjoying the newfound relaxing honesty they shared, experiencing even a twinge of desire to share more, to feel their very essence intermingling inside their veins as closely as their minds did, something she had avoided for many centuries out of fear.
“Everything returns later in its changed form,” she said softly, her head inclined slightly to one side as she followed each of Valerian's movements. “I wasn't sure what I was searching for when I decided to visit America, but now I believe I am, in more ways than one.”
“Valerian...will you pose for me sometime?”
((ooc: feel free to have him hint at sharing their blood if you want to, I just didn't see Moira as being the one to suggest it first given her deep set fear of what might happen.))
At least, those had been the prophecies of the oracle that had been an ever present member of his large entourage as a human Lord. During her service to him, she had told him a great many things that later had come to be. Success in achieving what he set his mind to, was one. That he would be even greater in death than he had been in life, was another. He had rarely suffered defeat, and as the Ventrue Prince of Los Angeles, he was pulling far more threads in the realms of both mortality and immortality, than he had been able to even hope for as a human. Many predictions, and so far, the oracle had not been proven wrong. Not even once.
But with greatness came even greater responsibility. He had an entire city - one of the biggest in the world, not just in physical size - and all it's inhabitants under his wings. It was up to him to keep the peace, to keep the order within his domain, with all the quarrels and animosities among the ample amount of kindred that dwelled there. It was up to him to uphold, and enforce, the laws of the Camarilla. It was to him they came with their desires to Embrace another, to ask for help, to dupe. It was him that would have to bear the burden of having the Kindred resent him for not granting their wishes, and to be blamed for the possibly detrimental outcome when he did.
He wore the crown, the sword, and the bull's eyes.
It was knowing this, that partially rendered him unable to step out of his role as Prince completely, and be "just" Damian Alexander, a noble Ventrue. Only a lucky few had been granted glimpses of what laid underneath the surface. He could not afford to let his guard down, to fully relax, and just enjoy himself. Most anything he did would be closely monitored by others, and judged. Mistakes and weaknesses would be flaunted if ever he showed any, and no matter where he went, there was always the chance that someone would seek him out in his position as Prince. If he would step out of it, he would never know just when he might be thrown back in, especially against his will, and he simply refused to leave himself open to be taken by surprise.
And so it was only natural that eventually, there was no telling the Prince and the man apart. They had become one. Deliberately. He had made himself a willing prisoner in a golden cage. Always the Prince.
Thus, it came as no surprise that politics would often manage to sneak its way into any conversation, even when mere friendship was concerned. There simply was no way around it.
Having accepted Damian's invite this time, Archon soon sat down in one of the chairs on the opposite side of Damian's desk, though only after dismissing his Gangrel bodyguard. Damian himself was already seated in his own exclusive and stylish office chair, comfortably leaned back with his hands clasped together loosely across his abdomen, studying Archon and allowing him to open up the conversation that was to follow.
"How have you been, my Lord?", the Ventrue Primogen asked, with the polite correctness of their clan, and then added; "And our city?"
A question so seemingly simple, and yet so very, very wide. Archon had been away for a few months; a time long enough for many things to have happened, even if one didn't count the minor ones. Though most of the fairly interesting ones had seemed to happen during the recent nights; the blood hunt, Adrien de la Cour's sudden appearance, and the matter of Carmilla and her Sire; the result of Mina asking a favour of him. Though that was one event Damian would choose not to share, even with Archon, for he would not under any circumstances betray Mina's trust. It was better then, to have everyone believe that the unfavorable relationship between Carmilla and Seath had been brought to Damian's attention by one of his many informants.
"The curse 'May you live in interesting times' came to mind a few times during your absence", he said with an ironic curve to his lips. "Though I suppose in retrospect, it would seem a bit of an exaggeration. What at the time appears to be a most just cause for distress, will later often seem like nothing more than a slight bump in the road. Though I am inclined to believe that speaks more clearly of one's ability to deal with the situations that arise, rather than the situations themselves."
Not that he had been posed with something he had found any difficulty in handling, but a city was so much simpler to run with a bit of peace and quiet. Or at least the lack of any major matters or incidents. There would always be the constant myriad of minor problems that he would never be rid of. Sometimes, they reminded him of a hydra; chop of it's head, and it grew two new ones. If every dilemma was a grain of sand, each night he inherited a desert.
"Never the less," Damian continued, "I am pleased to have you back, as I find the offices of Prince and Primogen do not mix well. While I believe that it was the best option - circumstances being what they were - I do hope it is not a situation that will arise again any time soon. My instincts tell me it was just a matter of time before the whispers of my partiality would grow into most bothersome barks."
2. Name: Sorén Alessandra Varvatos
3. Age: Ancilla 343 years (embraced at 24)
- Auspex: level 4
- Celerity: level 2
- Presence: level 1
5. Short bio: The daughter of an affluent Englishman, Sorén grew up among the opulent streets of London in the mid 1600s. She was given prohibitive teaching from a peculiar old man seeing the last of his light from 6 years old till the age of seventeen. Although this man, by the name of Mister Vincent Bouchard, had no interest in educating young Sorén about the common subjects - writing and spelling, his mind was set on the power of music; the eloquent tones of the soothing composition he played out on his violin to her on the cold nights.
Mister Bouchard, a highly respected man in the community, was thought to speak nothing but nonsense since the death of his wife. However, this did not tarnish his status nor the way people admired him. Only months after Liena Bouchard’s final breathe, or so the story goes, Vincent took up the rare hobby of playing violin which had not gained all too much prestige in London as yet. He talked of the ardor and the love this music gave him, the only meaning left in his life. People nodded and smiled, though no one who crossed his path truly understood him. Seven years since Liena’s passing, he began to teach six year old Sorén all of what his mind could now comprehend; the marvel of music. Every evening after sundown, with the exception of Sundays, Sorén had a lengthy visit from the man in which he would talk of such wonders and she would listen with much anticipation. As the years passed by, the two of them began to weave an invisible tie, a bond that could not be broken. In secrecy, he taught her how to play the violin, the instrument made for gods. The base of their friendship strengthening by each living moment.
In 1665, another black death pandemic broke out in London, a spreading virus known as The Great Plague. In the center of the city, Sorén and her family had a high risk of being infected, and within months of sighting, her dear mother fell sick. Although twenty-four, Sorén was sent away to stay with Mister Vincent Bouchard immediately, nonetheless she was still not entirely safe. The plague was expanding in area, and nowhere in England was a sanctuary. With prudent thinking, Vincent came to the conclusion that if he was to protect Sorén, he would have to grant her the beauty and poignancy of immortality. In a single night, the Toreador shared the undisclosed knowledge of his race and an eternal life. The real cause of his gothic mistress’s death, the reason behind the night visits and the wonder of his history was exposed to Sorén. She understood his ways, reasons and this new manner of living in which he gave her.
Together, hand in hand, they watched two centuries slip away. Unearthing her broad talent in the arts of violin, piano, and harp through these prolonged years, the years of which were only the initiation of immortality. Her heart, lifeless for over two hundred years now, felt as if to palpitate as her eyes danced over Percy Bysshe Shelley’s delicate words of nature, love and liberty. The poet’s words spoke to her; they breathed intensity, illuminating her deep beige eyes as she delved into his poetry and began to take an interest into reading and writing.
March the 23rd in the year of 1884, the comrades welcomed a new home in Paris. Three years of tranquility soon came to an end as whispers of a vampire slayer began to pass from ear to ear. The unknown portrayer held a strong supremacy, in which made the Kindred so weak and powerless. At nightfall on one distinct evening, Vincent sat by the fireplace delicately drawing the bow across the violin’s strings with little awareness of a perilous body lurking within the shadows of the house. On his final note came a severe blow to his fragile body, crushing his bones. Perhaps the murderer enjoyed listening to the music, perhaps that’s why he waited. On the moment of her Sire’s final death, she’d been walking down the street in which they lived, holding a bouquet of flowers. At the sighting of their house, she bumped into a tall raven haired man with a sneer plastered to his face, unconscious that the man previously took the life of her beloved friend. When Sorén found Vincent’s body, she swore on vengeance and since that night, much of her doings have been in search of his killer.
Recently taking an impermanent flat as home in the vigorous city of Los Angeles, she is determined to make more ground in her pursuit. She’s most likely located at the Algernon, Club Diebuk or the Haven. Don’t expect a courteous greeting from her, or an invitation to confide in her though behind her façade of crude language and potent defence, anyone who dares to near closer will detect her sincerity, warmth and perpetual passion for music and writing.
With a persistant arrogance he knew that fate would present Carmilla to him once more. He just needed to bide his time, but patience was not a virtue he possessed. He liked his pleasures instantanuous, on demand. A child of Generation x, the world of MTV and internet, he wanted everything for nothing. Little was sacred to him, after seeing it all before but the imagine he held onto like a talisman, reminding him that there was something in the world that could still make him feel. A woman that could stir his senses and make him dream of a future.
Casting the thoughts aside Zillah scanned the menagerie of thrill seekers each and every one looking for the fast buck. They were all so absorbed in themselves, drenched in the delight of watching money flow. He moved in closer observing his client downing the champagne as though it was water. His client threw more chips onto the table with a greedy flurish that flushed colour to his round cheeks. With his clients gaze distracted Zillah's hand slid slowly out and he placed it face down as though carassing the fabric lining of the table. At just the right moment, a flick of the wrist and he slipped one of the larger chips into his pocket. The whole process took a matter of seconds, too quick for the eye to follow, the skill of living on the streets which he still turned to, robbing those who wouldn't even miss what was stolen.
His prize gained he slipped away from the table. Turning his back on the decadance he wandered through the crowds. Seeking to loose himself amongst them. Just another punter, another pretender, willing to surrender his cash to the great coffers of the casino. But the thrill of the games called to him so after cashing the chip he still did not leave. With the chip reduced into smaller units of currency it was time to have some fun himself.
Glancing around he was lured towards the card tables, to test his skill against those that gathered like vultures around the carrion. He slid onto a chair opposite a pale dark haired man with a face of stone. Eager to test his streetwise face against the wealthy, cocky hands that gathered around one poker table. But Zillah had an advantage over them. He wasn't playing with his own cash. Win or loose it was all the same to him. The only thing that mattered was the game. And the game wasn't about the cards on the table but rather figuring out those that sat around it. Deciphering which ones he could turn a profit on later.
((OOC hope you don't mind Zillah joining Adrien's poker game ))
Ghanima - Will have a response for Valerian up in a little bit, I promise! Was going to get it up yesterday, but work suddenly got in the way, and then all the techincal stuff was against me (A conspiracy, I tell you!)
burnziiy - Welcome! Glad to have you!)))
Oh and feel free to PM me if you have questions.
Atropa - *dons tinfoil hat and peers around suspiciously* don't worry about it, take your time.))
Also, don't worry about writing posts as long as the recent ones. The rule is 8 lines, so as long as you can do that, you're fine. )))
Together, in unison, the two Toreadors gazes lingered on the masterful painting - their reason for being here, and now - following Valerian's statement, only to shift to meet over the small distance seperating them, at the sound of his next. Bright sapphire locked with light lavender, adoration meeting a whisp of bad memories in the form of a tiny furrow creasing the smooth skin between dark auburn brows, moments later banished from Moira's features so swiftly it left Valerian wondering if it had even been there in the first place. It seemed almost unlikely, given the soft joyous smile, laced with acknowledgement of his words, that was now dancing merrily on her lips. Yet he knew of the memories that were bound to surface, when one beheld the timeless features of a dear one lost - be they as fleeting as a mental image, or as tangible as a painted one - even though he did not know the memories themselves. He too suffered a heart bleeding from the shards of grief that pierced right through it. Though in his case it was from a dear one gone away by choice, and not one taken away by the murderous deeds of another. Two very different scenarios, bound together by the shared feeling of loss.
Following Moira's lead as she started moving towards the doors, Valerian took one final glance at the painting, making sure to drink in as many details as possible to be able to conjure it from memory when he wanted to remember and relish its beauty without having o impose on Moira again, before turning his back to it and following her out of the room, back into the dimly lit living room with all the flickering flames and dancing shadows.
“Perhaps you are right,” Moira said, her velvety voice flowing like a melody on it's own, no longer carrying any signs of the sorrow or the bitterness he had heard minutes ago, only thoughtful, sapient reasoning. “I've held on to the past so tightly, it has kept me away from what the present has to offer. And guilt, perhaps. I loved that girl dearly, but she is dead and I cannot change it. She is part of my past, and I am very glad to have you, Valerian, a part of my present. It can be as simple as that and not any less true for it.”
The young Toreador nodded slowly. He knew what she meant by what she said, he understood, even though he himself had been guilty of doing the exact opposite of what she had done. While she had clung to the past, he had thrown himself into the present with heart and soul, without looking back, to keep from lingering on the part of his past that only brought him pained confusion, the memories that clouded his starlit sky. Though it was perhaps not the only reason, as he so loved to keep up with the many whims of the human world. But it was a part of it. A part long buried, so deep within him it took this extraordinary encounter with Moira, the first other Kindred in a very, very long time who seemed to understand him, to remind him of it's existence.
The nod he gave, however, was mostly to himself, as he was trailing half a pace behind her, thus leaving her unable to see the faint gesture. He trusted she would simply sense his understanding, and his mututal delight of having her in his present as well. The bond between them was fresh still, and yet in mere hours it had grown and blossomed to reach a point where every now and then it would feel like there was no use for words between them, the only communication needed being the silent comprehension brought by sensing each other's state of mind, sensing whatever feeling was pulsating in the air around them, in their aura.
It was that very phenomenon that soon set his own mind back on the track it had been on only a minute earlier, just before they had left her temporary art studio behind to return to the living room, and its comfortably relaxing ambiance. Slowly he followed her towards one of the luxurious sofas, his eyes travelling along her body, watching her move with the elegant femininity of a true lady, and as she sat down and relaxed against the back of the inviting piece of furniture, she watched him in turn. In the gentle caress of her gaze, he sensed something, as fleeting and brief as the tiny crease he'd thought he'd seen between her delicate eyebrows earlier. It was only a glimpse, but a glimpse he knew too well not to recognize it. He had seen it many times, in the eyes of others, who had come to enjoy the sweetness that he so willingly offered, in the process that granted him and his various and temporary partners pleasure unlike any other. Had she sensed his own desires, and his doubts thereof, his hesitation to express them to her? Was she trying to encourage him, to urge him on and have him speak a wish she would grant? Or were they simply that much in tune with one another, that their individual desires had connected on a barely conscious level, and were moving together towards a common goal?
Whatever the reason, his hesitation was being laid to rest, and his mind had been made up. He would find a way to ask, for, as they say; nothing ventured, nothing gained.
But first, he would let her speak what else was clearly on her mind, in a more tangible shape than the bond weaving its cobweb of fragile threads between them.
"Everything returns later in its changed form", her voice came softly from the sofa, while he loitered to claim the empty space next to her, his dark form seemingly pushed forward slowly by the light of the flickering flames. "I wasn't sure what I was searching for when I decided to visit America, but now I believe I am, in more ways than one."
For a moment, his stride had slowed to an almost halt, as her words had sent his mind reeling. He didn't dare think of what she might mean. And yet, he couldn't help himself. She had spoken of Josephine, this young mortal beauty, as a muse. A muse that had died. And now she spoke of things returning, of being reborn in another shape, of finding clarity in his company...
"Valerian... will you pose for me sometime?"
Soft, gentle words, with a meaning so unmistakable that they seemed to explode in his mind, rupturing the thin veil of doubt and apprehension that he had used to keep his thoughts from running away with him. What he had dared not think, was now impossible to fend off, even if he had wanted to.
But, why would he? The words were the sweetest music to his ears that he had ever heard, they filled him with such a wide range of emotions that even he, who was usually so very familiar with his feelings, could not pinpoint them all.
To an outsider, it must've seemed most amusing, the way each thing she said and did overwhelmed him just a little bit more than the last.
"I'd be...", he started, but his voice trailed off mid-sentence, as even he realized the phrase 'I'd be honored' was starting to get quite watered down, and might not ring true in her ears even though he had always meant it in the most sincere of ways.
And so, instead of running the risk of repeating himself all too much, he sank down right next to her on the sofa, his lips curved with a soft smile that conveyed his feelings quite clearly, and started over;
"I'd love to."
It would be his first time posing for someone. Quite a few had posed for him over the years, eager to be immortalized even further by his talented hand, or had simply talked into it by his vivacious enthusiasm. And while Melody had made various sketches of him, they had all been made while he slept, or was otherwise unaware of her attempts to draw him. Never had he actually posed for another artist, and now he found that he couldn't wait to see how Moira saw him. Did she see what he himself saw, or did she see something else? Did her keen eye catch what was underneath the surface, that no one else seemed to? Not just the light that she had already acknowledged, but the darkness as well?
He wanted her to, he wanted her to fully know him. He was greedy, and he was generous, wanting to know everything about her, and wanting her to know everything about him. Unlike most, who often wanted to know everything, without sharing or offering anything themselves.
With his gaze locked with hers, he slowly inched closer to her, studying her face and her eyes as he did. He knew what he wanted the next step to be, knew how to offer yet more insight that mere words were simply not strong enough to deliver. It was an insight, a closeness he had offered many others before her. But none of them had shared the bond that was weaving silent tales between her and Valerian now, making what he offered so much more potent, so much more revealing of what and who he truly was.
Still saying nothing, he gently scooped up her hand in his and brought it to his cheek, his eyes still locked with hers as he brushed his soft skin against her knuckles. Then he lowered her hand unto his neck, where if he had been human, she would've felt the thumping of his pulse underneath the thin layer if alabaster white. An unspoken invitation, a naked surrender of himself to her.
(((ooc: Hope it makes sense. Sleep deprived and hungry. *lol*)))
As far as Archon was concerned, a conversation with the Prince was always a reward in itself; no matter the subject under discussion. They were both great men, and great man had a tendency to achieve greatness when having the same goal at heart. However, they did disagree at times, but given their friendship and intelligence it merely amused them. It was rather a spark to their debate, than a cause to worry. They had never found themselves on different sides of a tiebreaker. Yes, they were both headstrong specimen of the aristocratic clan, always looking for the golden lining, but they also knew their places. Damian knew the city like he had built it himself, and he knew the clans and their interaction with each other. Archon knew the Ventrue, and of course, so did Damian. But he trusted Archon to keep his eye on the details, know the members like they were his very own children. After all, Archon was the only Primogen he could really trust, hence the responsibility he had delegated. So. When their indifference regarded the territory the Prince was in tuned with more than Archon, the latter had to give in. And when they disagreed regarding intimate issues within their own clan, the Prince sometimes took Archon's word for it. He could always view it like he himself had choosen a great Primogen, with a brilliant head on his shoulders. In the end, it was the Prince's decision, when something needed to be done.
Archon had the highest respect for the Princes, even the ones that were not of Ventrue descend. But one did not need the uncanny wisdom of the Malkavian clan, or the sorcery of the Tremere, to know that Damian was the one he respected the most. Arhcon supported Damian's notions, even if he himself did not always believe in them to the core. Although, that was not something that occurred very often. The Ventrue mind was not as predictable as one could assume, but for a Ventrue, their path was given. If you would not be crowned the winner, there was no need to bother. And if they did indeed not prevail, they could always find something within their defeat that helped them see their aim with more certainty. A Ventrue out to redeem himself could be even more dangerous, than one that was just there to bring home the prize.
Like the first time he gave his immortal kiss to a kine, he remembered his first meeting with a Prince. It was not the London Prince, the one that had granted his Sire the permission to embrace Archon. Instead, he found himself in the company of an old arcane Prince, ordained by the very clan that would haunt Archon in due time. The Tremere. He had been visiting Archon's birthplace, around his embrace, and although they never officially met he would always remember the moment when their eyes did. Archon's Sire, Victoria, had brought him to a place where all sorts of Kindred used to gather back in those forsaken nights. He had felt just like a little boy, trying out the world, the secret hidden world of the undead. All the enchanting vampires had dazzled him, made him feel more alive without a pulse. And they had picked up the scent of a newborn, like dogs looking for a treat. The Toreador sent their most ravishing creatures to charm him sensless. Only to be followed by the Malkavians, turning diamonds into spades and clubs into hearts. This madness did not end, until the Gangrels came along, hovering around him like he was a prey. And if they did not want to go to town, the Brujah surely would, and their interferance almost caused a fight over the newest catch. Then the Nosferatu finished the job, by scaring Archon half to death. It was all just a game to them. To him, it was a lesson of unlife. He appreciated it, even when he thought he would die a second time around. But the appreciation took a while to immerge.
By then, he thought that was it, that he had seen the most prominent examples of each lineage. Oh well. Guess again.
In a corner, wallpapers red as blood, lit with a purple light that almost caused more darkness than brightness, a vampire had been seated. It was not a grand abode, but this one looked like he owned every single thing there, and took much pride in it. He had dark hair, almost as long as Archon's. And he had on a black robe, made of velvet, covering him like he was a magician. It was as if he possessed something from every clan, joint together in a center where he held the depths of his own bloodline. Insanity without the madness, beauty without the gentility and brutality, yet with something subtle. In short, a puzzlebox more intricate than a Malkavian mind, but in another manner.
Victoria had saved him from that gaze; it was so intense that Archon could not help but stare, loosing himself in the maze.
Back then, it was so easy to be amazed, to feel that each new thing was so astonishing that nothing could ever top it. This had been proven wrong to Archon, over and over again. But it would be a while, a long while in Kindred count, before another Prince would capture his gaze like the Tremere had. Prince Alexander III, an amazing Ventrue claim, that gave Archon a peak into the promised land. Archon believed in him before he got his royal throne, and he had offered his support when he had realized they had different tastes in greatness. While Archon saw much to gain from the Primogen domains, Damian aimed higher. And this way, they could co-exist. A city would never, as long as the dead walked the earth, be big enough for two Princes. Fortunate enough, they were destined to be Prince and Primogen - friends, instead of foes.
"The curse 'May you live in interesting times' came to mind a few times during your absence", the Prince said
His irony, well placed and easy for Archon to tap into, caused the Primogen to smile. It amused him, that Damian still found their city to be a challenge. It would be dangerous if he was bored, both for the sake of the balance of power, and to make sure he would actually stay with them just a while longer. That undead while, that could reach over aeons of time. And, if this city could not put its Prince to the test now and then, it was just not worthy of him.
"Though I suppose in retrospect, it would seem a bit of an exaggeration. What at the time appears to be a most just cause for distress, will later often seem like nothing more than a slight bump in the road. Though I am inclined to believe that speaks more clearly of one's ability to deal with the situations that arise, rather than the situations themselves."
These words caused the concentrated Primogen to nod, in agreement. He was well acquainted with the approach, with the hindsight. Although they were alike, they were very different. One thing done by the Prince would seem totally different, if done by Archon. The approach could be similar, but the execution set them apart.
"Never the less," Damian continued, "I am pleased to have you back, as I find the offices of Prince and Primogen do not mix well. While I believe that it was the best option - circumstances being what they were - I do hope it is not a situation that will arise again any time soon. My instincts tell me it was just a matter of time before the whispers of my partiality would grow into most bothersome barks."
Another smile, this time a bit harder for others to decipher, graced Archon's lips. He had been missed. There was a demand for his work, not only by the clan itself, but by the Prince. The latter meaning more, and also asking for Archon's most excellent performance. Nothing could be more inspiring, not for a Ventrue.
"Thank you, my Lord", Archon said, most obliged. "Although I have appreciated the opportunity to take care of business overseas, this is my home. It is hard to really enjoy new scenery, when you know the familiar one still depends on you. I am most grateful that you did agree to take my place, although I know the work of a Prince is never done. However, that can also be applied to the work of a Primogen. Despite all of our accomplished members, I must say it gave me peace of mind to know you would act on my behalf."
All along his excursion, Archon had had L.A. in the back of his mind, never letting go. When he had not had the time to keep in touch, through phone calls and the lap top, Roe had taken over. Although, there were some things even Roe would not have the privilege to know. After all, he was a Gangrel, and could not be completley trusted by the whole Ventrue clan. Although Archon trusted him with his life, he could not take it upon himself to let Roe have the existance of the whole L.A. clan in his keep. Archon's personal affection could never interfere with what was best for the Ventrue.
"There is much to tell from my journey", Archon continued. "But we might have more pressing matters right here in our city, that could perhaps benefit from being addressed at once. I suppose there is something you could tell me about de la Cour, that your grand banquet did not reveal? I assume his presence was not entirely up to him, judging from your lack of surprise."
((( ooc: Atropa - "bothersome barks" So british, so Ventrue. Awesome. )))