|Characters:||Lady Winter White, Mister Ambrogio "Gio" di Usignolo, Ms. Alabama Brand, Mister Marcus T. Perperna, Primogen Aurelie Fontenot, Mstr. Henry J. Prosper, Primogen Conquista del Pan, Doctor Leonard "Leo" Moses Sheriff Nikola Senjan|
|Summary:||Making Friends, Making Amends|
How strange it is to be out and about at last, and not holed up in his haven, wiling away the months with his nose in a book or composing some new cantata. Whatever could be different? What might have luuured him out of his lair and into the city at long last, like some siren to a sailor? Let's hopes there's no dangerous rocky shore to be dashed against, shall we? Of course, it's Winter. Winter has summoned the ever-reticent Gio from his haven, so, here he is. First time in Elysium and he's been here for two years.
He's meandering along behind her, watching her, striken and adoring with something like love in those large, dark eyes of his. He is shadow-slender, beautiful and strange, and his lips look as if they feel awkward in that smile they're trying on for size. "Warehouse District, perhaps," he offers, pianissimo, Veronan accent. "Just let me know if you need anything at all. Anything."
Moving from a high energy state to a lower energy one results in an electron emitting energy in the form of a photon. The same can be said for Kindred, when moving from an area packed with mortals to one packed with nothing but open space, Marcus T. Perperna emits an overly audible sigh of... exhaustion? Exasperation? Who knows. He's dressed this evening in simple black slacks and a crimson red business shirt, exceedingly casual for him at any rate.
Scanning his eyes across the room, as he makes a beeline for the ordering station, Marcus furrows his brow, "New... or new enough blood, mm?"
That monochromatic phantasm smiles at Gio, Winter's pale skin all but glowing white in the lighting here, offset by the black and grey to appear the palest alabaster. "I know, my Heart, and you shall certainly play a part.", her voice is as ghostly as her appearance, like an intimate whisper despite being heard as clear as a bell. Slinking closer to Gio she leans in and purrs, "You always play a part in my great tragedy of life." A new voice draws her attention and Winter turns her cold pale eyes toward the talk, dark, and handsome man. A tip of that top hat and the feathering of her snowy white lashes, "Good evening, I am the Lady Winter White, Serpent of the First Estate, and I am indeed new to the city." Lightly nudging Gio, she lays a hand on her companion in a comforting and perhaps protective manner.
Gio observes as Marcus Perperna enters of course. One does not go to Elysium and expect to not see other Kindred. Even so, he straightens up a bit (his posture was already immaculate, but), and lowers his eyes with a sweep of his lashes. Maybe if he just stands there looking proper but not drawing attention to himself, he'll be ignored and--dagnabbit, Winter! He sighs softly through his nose, but keeps his smile on, though it goes closed-lipped. "Gio di Usignolo," he says, about as quietly as quiet can be. "Sanctified Haunt."
There is a silent, almost melodramatic, pause as Perperna makes out his order and sends the dumb-waiter up to fetch it. He turns to face the exceedingly small gathering and lets his dark eyes wash over the pair in an analytically appraising stare. "I see." There is another pause. "Marcus Perperna. Also of the First Estate." No titles, no nothin'. At least as far as he's mentioned. His eyes flick from Gio to Winter and his brows furrow once more, "I believe we have met, at some point in the past. I could be mistaken, but I very much doubt it."
Attention wavering somewhat when the dumb-waiter returns, Perperna nods slowly, "I am glad that some more older blood has come to the city. Far too many fledglings for my taste, otherwise."
Winter silently seems to usher or guide Gio over to one of the nearby seating arrangements before she settles into one of the couches. Crossing her long legs, one arm propped on the back of the couch, the other draped across her lap, she watches the tall dark man curiously. "Perhaps, you do seem familiar, but since I have only recently awoken, my memories do play tricks on me and come and go like shadows in the firelight." A spindly finger begins twisting a ringlet of colorless hair around it, that raised foot bouncing lightly to a melody only for her. "A pleasure to meet you or perhaps meet you again, Mr. Perperna, if I am not mistaken I was told you plan to put yourself into the Invictus Primogen seat, is that right?"
Certainly Perperna must be addressing Winter on that account; she's very hard to forget, for sure, given how gloriously striking she is in appearance. Not to mention, same Covenant. Even so, he seems to look a triffle uncomfortable, but only for a moment. It passes after Winter's reply to the fine Lord of the First Estate, which seems to settle him somehow. He's being ushered, so, he moves, drifting to join her but stopping before doing so, pausing to ask, "Shall I fetch us some refreshment? Perhaps Alder Perperna would join us?" He watched how Marcus ordered, and sees determined to do the same himself, checking first to see if he can get anything for his snow-hued companion.
"I wasn't aware that was public knowledge," Perperna says with a carefully neutral tone, "It is my intention, however, to appeal to the Triumvirate for that position - yes." His eyes flick towards Gio for a moment, "Mister Perperna, if a title must be used at all. I abstain from their use, generally speaking. I'd much rather my deeds in the present be cause for respect rather than those of a bygone age." With that, his attention redirects towards the dumb-waiter, at which he retrieves a rather large glass of something that is a deep red, that swishes about in the glass far too easily to be blood. "Yes, the fog does rather make a mockery of friendships and bygone adorations, does it not?" The somewhat imposing attention of Marcus Perperna now fully engaged on Little Miss Winter, "I can highly recommend the Borges reserve port. Even without mixing it with vitae I still get a nice little buzz from it."
Lavender gaze sweeps back toward Gio and everything about Winter seems to soften, her smile warm despite her chilly appearance, "Something fruit and mellow for me.", she winks at him, those long snow colored lashes sweeping her high cheeks. She turns back to Perperna then, "I wouldn't say it was public knowledge. A whisper? A premonition? I had inquired around about claiming the seat myself. Perhaps someone merely mentioned your name as a proper candidate, but thank you for confirming. I'd hate to put myself in competition with another of the Unconquered.", her smile is pleasant enough and that intimate breathy sound of her voice makes her seem all the more genuine.
This is indeed a good time for Gio to take a moment away. He's never one to enjoy the discussion of Kindred politics. He's mindful with his order, but it's all blood infused with alcohol and acquired the 'natural' way -- through a donor. Because, he wants a buzz, and so will Winter. He murmurs to her in Italian as he delicately passes her glass to her, then settles in.
"Proper. Mmm." Perperna shrugs his shoulders lightly and he offers a slight tilt of his head, "I certainly don't know whether I'm the proper person for the job, but it does need to be done." He pauses and purses his lips in momentary thought, "If you are interested in the position, or one similar, I could certainly see my way to appointing you as my... what is the modern term. Majordomo?" He shrugs again, "My lieutenant. Since I cannot always be around when needed." There is a slight glance towards Gio as he returns, but very little other recognition of his existence.
Winter stops twisting that ringlet around her finger and corrects her posture, sitting up in the couch as she accepts the drink from Gio. The palest pink flash of her tongue over her lips, full pouty lips painted a rich and deep vermillion, and she smiles. "That is a very kind offer, Mr. Perperna, and perhaps I will take you up on it.", something a bit sharper to her tone now though, less of that sweet breathy intimacy. Taking a sip from her glass, she turns to Gio, her smilke softening somewhat, "Thank you, my Heart, this is just perfect.", and just like that, all those sharp edges are gone. Running her tongue across her top teeth before she returns her attention to Perperna, "I'm sure you will represent the First Estate admirably."
"How do you know Lady Winter?" The ignored Haunt inquires. Because, that's never been explained. And she didn't say she knew him. And Gio doesn't like that.
He sidles in next to her, all sinuous lines of barely masculine, just sort of pouring himself there with that vaguely uneasy presence all Nosferatu are cursed with. "And I do beg your pardon. An Elder myself, I am used to the old terms of address. But if you wish me to call you 'Mister', it shall be my pleasure to."
There is a slow blink as Perperna's gaze shifts towards Gio, "You haven't the faintest idea how old I am." The stare hangs for a moment before the man-of-unknown-age returns his attention to the ivory lady. "Though honestly I am more than comfortable with competition. Though it can breed resentment and animosity, it ensures that the Unconquered are only lead and represented by the best." He finally finds himself in a seat across from the pair, and sips contentedly on his port, "Mm... this one is drier than I was expecting." He shrugs again and leans back in the chair, the very picture of the king predator he makes himself out to be.
Every curve and line of Winter's form suddenly stiffens, a snowy brow arching, "I did not hear my companion make any assumption on your age, Mr. Perperna. As for breeding resentment and anomosity, well, as loyal as I am to the Unconquered, well, we tend to breed that without competition.", she glances sidelong at Gio and flashes him a crooked grin. "At any rate...", she pauses to sip from her drink once more before lifting her pale lavender gaze back to Perperna, "I'm not particularly fond of the Daeva representation and having 2 members of the First Estate on the Council seems a better idea than us competing to fill only 1."
"You're right. I do not, Mister Perperna." Gio replies to Marcus there. "I generally allow one's character to tell the tale of one's age. You must be very old indeed." There's a flippant cascade of fingers then, elegant, as if giving an allowance of measure. One can practically imagine the ghosts of lacy cuffs accentuating the antiquated gesture, though of course in this day and age, our Gio is just in overlong knitted sleeves. He seems very, very amused.
The svelte androgyne reaches for his own glass and sips from it mightily, chugging long from the vino tinto-infused blood there, and nodding to Winter after. "Your taste as always, is impeccable. I didn't even know I was in the mood for something sweet and fruity until just now!"
Tapping his finger against the rim of the glass gently, Perperna shrugs his shoulders, "That's not something I'd thought about, but you are right. There is a lack of Daeva in the more highly placed positions - with the notable exception of the Carthian Primogen." He leans forward ever so slightly, "To be honest I'm just glad some of our number, the Daeva that is, have the presence of mind to be invested politically at all. The last thing we need is to devolve to an orgy of angst, I'll leave that to the Mekhet." Those eyes flick back towards Gio and a small frown forms on his lips, "I am. Old enough to remember a time before the Sanctified." A pause. "I have perhaps taken my hatred of your covenant out on you, Master di Usignolo." Not an apology, but that appears to be the closest that's forthcoming, "Have you spoken with Master de Vercelis as yet? I believe he shares some similar geographical origin, if I've correctly understood the modern Italianate naming conventions."
The first thing Alabama notes when she enters the room is how quiet it is -- it actually almost hurts her ears, without the sound of the engines or water to be heard. But she does hear the quiet hum of a conversation across the way and, being curious, she heads over, a glass of something in her hands. The little ghoul is dressed in a short, black cocktail style dress with a silver necklace at her throat and black anklet boots. Her silvery platinum mane is tucked behind her ears and cascades down to her shoulders and slightly down her back. She notes they're all Kindred assembled, so she stands back a bit of a distance from them, indicating she'd like to be a part of the conversation, but doesn't want to intrude or make a nuisance of herself. She does a little finger wave should any of the trio offer her eye contact but otherwise she stands quietly, quite prepared to be sent away if the conversation is private.
A quiet chuff escapes Winter's lips as she glances once more to Gio, "Can you imagine if we determined how we treated someone based on our covenant?", she turns back to Perperna with a look that is clearly amused. "I mean the First Estate would all be pariahs. We'd only be welcome by our own covenant.", once more her voice has that breathy intimate and fragile quality to it, her smile brighter than the white vision of her company. A hand reaches over to stroke Gio's thigh reassuringly before she sips from her glass and lets out a content and clearly bemused sigh for theatrics. "As for the Daeva, well, if I had a nickel for every time someone believed we were all about orgies, well, actually I probably do have a nickel for every time. Ha, how wonderful.", yes, she might be catching a little buzz, what a light-weight. Then a familiar and friendly face appears, "Alabama, darling! Come come.", she waves her delicate hand at the ghoul, "You must meet my heart and soul, Gio."
"A member of the First Estate that hates the Second?" Gio's lips purse softly. "Forgive me my good Mister Perperna, but since you seek the position of Primogen, allow me to suggest that you should rethink making your hatred of the Spear so public, given that, no matter how old you are, our Covenants see their best power come to fruition when supportive of one another, as I'm sure you know, annnnd, I'm sure you also know how few of we Sanctified there are in the city right now as well. Which, could change. Quickly." No answer regarding his own Primogen, but c'moooon, Mister Invicty hasn't answered some of his questions too.
But then there's Winter waving down Alabama and Gio utterly beams at the notion of some humanity (or the closest thing to it atm), getting up all into this little lovefest. So he looks expectantly in Bama's direction and forces a smile that all but screams: I'm nice, even though I feel creepy, please like me.
"I abhor modern religion in all its forms," Perperna says with a light shrug, "Particularly the Sanctified. But if working with them benefits the Unconquered, I will continue to tolerate it." He lets out a light chuckle and shakes his head, "But do please continue to tell me how the political realm of this city works, it does so amuse." His attention is momentarily drawn over his shoulder to peer at Alabama... but given she has a pulse he doesn't pay her that much mind. Shifting his gaze somewhat to peer at Winter, he shrugs, "I do miss the orgies, though. Far too much work to do lately, that and most of our Kin seem to be of the 'eat the rich' variety... vore isn't really one of my things."
Alabama grins from ear to ear when she recognises Winter, wanting to offer a hug but not wanting to do something impolite or unwanted. But when it seems she has successfully managed to pause the conversation somewhat, the ghoul waves excitedly at Winter. "Lady White? So amazing to see you again! And this is... your heart and soul? So nice to meet you Gio -- I'm sure there is something you'd prefer I address you by?" She asks, hoping to be prompted. And then to Perperna she also smiles happily, "I am Alabama Brand, ghoul to Conquista del Pan. Not sure where they are so I thought I'd try and get out and meet some new people tonight." She also waits to be introduced to Perperna so that she'll know the correct way to address him as well.
Once she is certain that Alabama will come and join them, Winter gives her full attention to Perperna once more. "Normally, Mr. Perperna, I am a rather calm sort, the type to allow insults and cruelty to run off my back." Gesturing to herself, "Considering at one point I was to be left in the snow and fed to wolves because I was undesirable, you may imagine that I have endured all many of abuse in these long long years." One last sip of her drink to finish it off and she leans forward, plucks the top hat from her head, and sets it in Gio's lap, "That being said, I cannot abide rudeness. We live far too many years to make enemies with just a first impression. We understand, you're very old, you give no fucks as they say...", she glances at Gio, "That is how it is said, right?", then back to Perperna. "The point is, you create enemies rather than allies when you do not at the very least remain civil."
Leaning back once more she plucks her hat from Gio's lap and places it back atop the crowning of glorious milk white curls, taps the top, and then tips the brim toward Perperna, and then turns to Alabama. "Hello precious little beast. Yes, this is my oldest and dearest friend, Gio, Gio, this is Alabama, the most adorable little ghoul and the first new person I met in the city. I told you about her." Winter does not introduce her to Perperna.
Gio offers a slow blink towards Perperna there, and then lets loose with a stream of rapid Italian towards his companion, chuckling as he notes to Marcus after, "Just because you hate God, does not mean His Miracles cannot affect you." Then he utterly and completely disengages and ALABAMA and Winter's jaunty chapeau, which is in his lap, and he claims, and puts on, and looks ab-so-lute-ly fetching in for the one second it is there before she reclaims it. He's smiling gently at Alabama after. "So very nice to meet you. Please, only ever call me 'Gio'. I hope we shall be good friends, and I look very much forward to meeting your Regnant." He bows to her, and it's the sort of flourishy low-sweep of body that likely took a few centuries to perfect. And he means it.
With a light chuckle, Perperna shakes his head, "Then you will have a hell of a time here," he says as he continues to look towards Winter, "Especially in this particular Elysium." The conversation apparently at an end, and still rather pointedly ignoring the God-botherer, the eldest glances up to Alabama as she engages. There is a pause at the introduction to which he just languidly nods, "Mister Perperna." Suddenly taciturn, this one.
"Mr. Perperna." Alabama repeats his words carefully, intending that she get his name and pronunciation correct. But she doesn't require the attention remain on herself and seems more than happy to try and deflect it in another direction. With Gio, she seems quite unsure what to do about addressing him. So she goes with her gut. "Mister Gio, so nice to meet you! I can't wait to be able to spend some time with you and Lady White." She prays she's got everyone addressed properly now. And... Bam is detecting a little tenseness in the group now so she quietly listens to see how she can jump in without further complicating things.
Smiling at Alabama, Winter responds to Perperna, "Everyone I have met in this particular Elysium thus far, has been absolutely delightful, even the Sheriff, who apparently has a grudge against the First Estate.", she turns to Perperna with that smile still in place, "Even he was polite and quite entertaining company. In point of fact, Mr. Perperna, you are the first person I have met in this city who has managed to raise my hackles in the slightest. That being said, I am sure you are a delightful person once on gets beyond that rather prickly persona. I look forward to doing just that. Perhaps another drink might help?" She waves her empty glass slightly and then leans toward him once again, "I do admit I enjoy a good challenge. The last time I had some a warm first meeting with someone turned into a fire that very nearly burned down a small village in Slovakia just before I took my little nap. Trust me, I needed it after that decade of passionate battle.", she winks, those feathering white lashes flutter and then she turns back to Gio and Alabama, "Who wants another drink?"
"Darling, I must... " do something. It's a psychic throbbing message in his head from the eternal TV. It's a Master's summons. It's... it's probably just a phone call. But whatever it is, Gio is apologizing to Winter. "I'll be back in a bit." Then he's leaving, briefly, after a gentle nod to Alabama to assure her that it's fine, she can call him whatever she likes.
"That your hackles have been raised is indeed a grave misstep on my part," Perperna says with all the apologetic enthusiasm of a DMV employee at four fifty-nine on a Friday. "I am not at all delightful, no. Nor are the present circumstances of the city that have me more than a touch concerned. Especially given that those on the forefront of battle against the enemy we presently face are rather dear to my heart." He pauses and leans back in his chair, sipping gently at his port, "So I pray your indulgence if not your forgiveness, it has been a trying month." His gaze shifts to follow Gio out of the door and he offers another small shrug and returns to silence.
"I can /always/ use another drink!" Alabama answers Winter passionately as the Kindred waves her empty glass around just so. Alabama certainly isn't qualified to pour drinks for vampires, but she 'is' qualified to hunt someone down who can. She departs the group for a moment, escorting Gio out, then returns triumphantly. "Someone is coming to refresh drinks, don't even worry." She might have actually done something useful! And seemingly returns just in time to hear Perperna explain things. Which causes her to smile.
Winter seems to shrivel just a bit as Marcus speaks once more and still remains as dry as the Sahara and half as pleasant. Reaching up to rub her temples she glances toward Gio and smiles weakly with a nod before she turns to Alabama and pats the couch beside her that once held the delicate Haunt. "Well, forgiveness granted for the time being, Mr. Perperna...", her lips remain parted for a moment as though she would go on, but instead simply shakes her head and flicks the brim of her top hat with a delicate finger. "Now, about those drinks, anyone? I have no qualms about being selfish and..ah, well, excellent!", she smiles as Alabama runs off. Running a hand down her tightly leather encased legs, she relaxes one more and crosses those shiny black appendages, bouncing her booted foot. "I do so much better with a bit of social lubrication.", her multi-accented breathy tone grows more like a purr with every sip she has consumed. "You mentioned some things that concern me, Mr. Perperna, while I'd rather enjoy my night not further encourage you to speak of less than pleasant things, perhaps we can speak alone sometime about it?"
Nikola Senjan is -- well, when a Ventrue dresses to impress, this is what happens. He's wearing a suit that has obviously been custom-tailored to his own specifications, and it shows. The charcoal-black wool would be austere, were it not for the onyx brocade of vines woven into the fabric -- a subtle pattern, but noticeable once one has taken a moment to look. His bone-colored dress shirt is French-cuffed, the cufflinks and buttons made from polished silver and onyx.
The Sheriff of New Orleans is not his usual glad-handing, smiling, self. Indeed -- his affect is flat, hard. His Beast projects well in front of him, a wounded animal, angry and dangerous. Spotting the small cluster of conversation, the bearded Pirate Lord draws nearer, his attention largely on Perperna.
"I would recommend you speak to our Sheriff or one of his hounds on that subject," Perperna says with a small shrug of his shoulders, "I am not as involved as they, so their information will be far more relevant than any I have." He glances over towards the door, not for the return of the servitor but for Nikola's arrival. "Speaking of whom..." He leans comfortably in his chair and arches his eyebrow slightly, "You're dressed... passably," he says with a grin, before shifting slightly to a half-frown, "Did somebody die?"
Alabama happily accepts the offer of a seat next to Lady White and snugs in close. She brightly looks to the arrival of Nikola before she sees that perhaps he's not all that happy. So instead of a huge greeting she gives him a bit of a finger wave and leaves it at that.
That icy finger drawn down Winter's spine causes her to look up as the Sheriff makes his entrance, "Well speak of the Devil.", Winter remarks though her already soft tone slowly grows ever more quiet as she notices the current state of said "devil". "Perhaps I spoke to soon about the Sheriff being delightful.", she murmurs and appears far too happy to see the server arrived to refill drinks, "I may need many more of these.", she half whispers to the wait staff. When Alabama beams beside her, Winter relaxes and leans back once again to sip her drink and hope she can keep the buzz going. "Oh this party just keeps getting better, doesn't it, darling Beast.", she purrs to Bama.
Dark eyes, normally glinting with the humor of some inner joke, bore into Perperna for a few moments as Nikola draws nearer. He reaches out to lay his hand on the Talon's shoulder, unless the other monster moves out of the way, and leans down to murmur softly into his ear. Looking over at Winter, the Sheriff straightens from his slight stoop. He summons up a quick, sharp, smile, but it somehow does little to warm the bearded man's expression. And then, to Alabama, an equally forced expression of amiability. "Hello, Alabama."
Gio has returned! Hurrah! But he's not the showy sort, so few properly notice as he slips like shadow back into Elysium, pausing to order up another round of libations for himself and Winter and something for Alabama too from the dumbwaiter. It's an Alabamaslamma!--Amaretto, Southern Comfort, sloe gin, and orange juice in a highball.
When Aurelie arrives at the top of the slope leading down into the Elysium proper, she stops for a moment. Her senses have been assaulted on the way by expensive perfumes and loud (albeit hilarious) conversations, and the roar and din of slapping waves and engines. Aurelie is wrapped in deep, striking pomegranate fabric that has been tailored into an off-the-shoulder dress that that is tailored to her waist before the flowing skirt hits the floor. As she glides down the slope, the nearly hip-length slit is apparent as the pale stems of her legs peek with each step. Her bright eyes are narrowed with a measure of intrigue as she hears voices that she's not familiar with, her pace picking up a touch as she goes. She looks giddy, almost.
"This is why I smoke." Prosper said to no one in particular after having parked his old land barge of a classic Lincoln. Aurelie has since departed, drifting inside with the ethereal grace of instinct given legs and a new wardrobe that can stop a minor border skirmish, the old Ghoul is left briefly to his own devices. That being finishing a smoke before heading into the Regas. There was trepidation there in his weary muscles but the Blood kept him going like clockwork.
Striking a slim figure in a dark blue, striped Brioni two piece suit, Henry Jacob Prosper flicker his smoke off the boarding ramp into the Mississippi as he picked up the pace to catch up to Aurelie. "You know they have a rule against good music here." He says in a husky, easy going Georgian drawl. Being here tonight? A little awkward for this particular scoundrel.
Tilting his head up to listen at the whisper, Perperna's expression turns from dark to utterly morbid, "I see." He practically goes limp in the chair as his eyes flick rapidly from side to side, as if reading from a very fast-paced book. "Do we... should..." his faculty with English seems to come to sliding halt, "I see." He offers up his half-empty glass of port to Nikola, "You need this more than I do." And goes rather stunningly silent.
Drinks refreshed, Winter seems much less put-out by Perperna's attitude, she happily sips away though her attention has been drawn to the Sheriff and a whole new worry has arisen. Her shoulders slump somewhat, her pale eyes look down into her drink as though the secrets of the universe can be found there, that is until two more faces join the crowd. Feathering snowy lashes drift across her cheeks as she takes in the stunning Aurelie joining this dismal party, and behind her one Henry Prosper. A brow arches and a smile flickers at the corner of her lips before it falls into a shadow. Glancing back at Perperna as his mood only sours further, she turns to Gio, "I truly had not thought tonight would go this way. Had I known, I would not have dragged you from your piano.", she assures him. One more sip of her drink and Winter turns to the new arrivals, "Greetings, good evening, care for a drink? I think everyone could use one.", to Aurelie, she tips her top hat, "I am the Lady Winter White, Serpent of the First Estate, and most pleased to make your acquaintance." The drink goes immediately back to her lips.
Alabama overhears just enough to really not know much, except the little she does hear is kind of intriguing. She turns to Winter, canting her head as if to say 'did you hear that? Alabama then sees Propser and Aurelie have arrived! She doesn't jump up for hugs though but simply smiles big and gives them a little wag of her fingers in welcome -- not wanting to disturb all this grown-up-ness around her.
"Harpsicord," Gio corrects of Winter, albeit mildly and with a faint, fond smile tugging at the corners of his lips. "This cantata, at any rate." A comment meant just for her. He shrugs, clearly nonplussed, as he retakes his seat, pouring into it and sitting very still, just watching everyone with those large, dark eyes of his. "This is delightful indeed, my treasure." He's enjoying his evening, never fear!
Nikola squeezes Perperna's shoulder, perhaps painfully tight, though it seems more a reflex of support -- for himself, for the other man -- than an assault. The grip of a wounded soldier clinging to another's. The grip of a seaman who has been cast a lifeline. He shakes his head subtly at the offer of port. "I've eaten," he says quietly. "And I need to be... razor-edged. All that can be done is being done, but -- if you learn of anything. Please. And when I am ready to move, I will call on you." There is ferocity in these last words, perhaps accentuated by Nikola's Eastern European accent.
Turning his attention to Winter once again, Nikola fixes the leucistic woman with an attentive gaze, managing to at least seem controlled. "I believe I heard Mister Perperna--" a slight bow of his head, a courtesy to a man of Marcus's history, carefully delivered, "--say that you might like to speak to me." Nikola, at the greetings that Winter and Alabama both offer, turns to face Aurelie and Prosper. Again, he summons up a smile of greeting. Again, it seems false, forced. "Good evening. Welcome to the Regas. I am Ship's Captain and Keeper of Elysium, Nikola Senjan."
Reaching up to grasp at that clingy hand, devoid of all pretense of decorum or 'baddest bitch in the room', Perperna casts his eyes up to Nikola's face. Apparently, and clearly, unafraid of the power of a Ventrue's eyes the Daeva is rendered silent and offers a single nod to Nikola's declaration. First the guy goes on about how he hates the Lanky Sanky, and now he's acting like he's stuck in a foxhole with a Carthian? Will wonders never cease. After a moment his attention shifts towards Winter and he offers a small nod, "A... related issue. Best discussed elsewhen."
A nod to Gio, "Yes, yes, whatever that divine instrument was.", she grins briefly. Seeing the interaction between Nikola and Perperna, Winter swallows another dark mouthful of her drink. Having heard everything Nikola attempted to whisper to Perperna, Winter feels a sense of obligation, "I am at your service if there is anything I can do to help, Sheriff. I believe I gave you my number when last we met over a hald naked giant? Call on me anytime. As for discussing things, we can do that another time, for now I believe you have enough on your mind.", that strange mixture of French and British accents battling through her words offered in dulcet breathy tones. The waifish woman of stark white dressed in monochomatic theme with black over the knee boots, black leather leggings clinging to those impossibly long stems, a grey silk tunic blouse cinched with a black belt, and as always, her black silk top hat complete with white feather tucked into a grey silk band. She nods to Perperna, "Yes, of course."
When Aurelie is asked if she wants a drink, her eyes dart around. It is perhaps that the perpetually 'I could eat' Gangrel is searching for an actual drink by instinct and is left wanting. "A drink? I suppose I could use a drink to gesture with dramatically." There's a tugging at the corner of Aurelie's lips, a dimple denting her left cheek as she gives a crooked smile. There are so many faces that Aurelie nearly has trouble taking them all in; her attention is distracted between them but her eyes settle on Nikola in particular, announcing her identity to pretty much everyone. "I'm Aurelie, Primogen of the Circle of the Crone. It's nice to finally see your beautiful ship and also to meet all of you. What a lovely crowd." Aurelie glances over at Prosper, clearly happy to mind her own business and ignore the crisis-shaped elephant in the room.
The well dressed shadow of the Primogen that is Prosper lifted long fingered hands to adjust that wide knit style of his tie, eyes the color of burnt chocolate sweep the vast room and its occupants. The flicker of his diminished Beast a pale imitation to the pulse he feels off these other predators. Alabama's little finger waggle-wave getting a playful wink in distant greeting. "Looks like trouble already showed up." He says in regards to his fellow Ghoul. "Bit of a turn out, huh?" He asks his Regnant with a whisper and sleek sliver of a smile.
The offer of a drink seen the lift of a hand in polite refusal. "Long night ahead. I do most of my social drinkin' in the morning with the rest of the Double Shift crowd. Lady White. Good to see you on the boat." The introduction of Nikola seen Prosper tighten his posture just a tad bit. Smile pushed brighter and wider, not really reaching his eyes. "Keeper Senjan, been wondering when we'd run into you. Seth talks a mean game about you. Love the ship... but who wouldn't?"
See? This is why Gio has remained in the umbra of his clandestine lair for some years now. This. This is why, Winter! He tosses her a Look, quirking a immaculately poised brow over that beatific visage of his. Did Alabama get her 'Slama? Her dumbwaiter'ed her one! He's just observing, mostly, as Nikola and Perperna consort, and the banter there after. Finally, he says, sotto voce, to the Sheriff, "If there is need to serve the Praxis in any way, I am willing to lay down my Requiem for any good cause, should one arise."
Winter gives a quick nod to Prosper, "A pleasure to see you again, Gambler.", she smirks slightly, but given the tension in the room it fades rather quickly. Leaning toward Alabama she whispers something quietly and then turns back to Aurelie, "Ah, Primogen for the Circle, you I will have to speak with sometime very soon. I have been meaning to try and make an appointment with you, but so much to do and everything keeps getting pushed around on priorities." Silenced then by that "look" from Gio, she gives him an apologetic smile and shrug of her shoulders before she lifts her glass to him and sips once more. She stands up and heads over to the dumbwaiter where she places an order and waits for it, leaning there against the wall observing everything unfold. When the drinks arrive she carries one over to Aurelie and offers it to her along with a small white card, presumably with her name and phone number on it.
Gio rises to escort Winter. Cause he's a gentlemanly sort.
Walking over and taking Gio's arm, Winter tips her hat, "A pleasure to have met you, Ms. Aurelie, Mr. Perperna, Alabama, be good darling." Another tip of that hat and smiles given to Prosper, "Goodnight.", and she slips from the room on the arm of the androgyne Haunt.
When Winter rises, so does Perperna. It seems almost reflexive, but the shift of his arm under Nikola's to reaffirm the support of the now dislodged shoulder-hand is rather new. "We'll figure this out," he says in a clearly audible stage-whisper, both for Nikola and Winter's benefit. He goes silent again, however, and returns to frowning.
After the strange conversation between Nikola and Perperna, Alabama is even more intrigued, but is beginning to think she doesn't belong in all this. So when Winter and Gio rise, she does as well. "Thank you for such an enjoyable evening but I'm afraid I must be off." She smiles and waves to everyone present, offering excuses, then slips out quietly as well.
"Ah. Well, I'm glad you like the ship, Primogen." Nikola's smile softens faintly as he squeezes Perperna's hand while the other man rises. It seems as though the compliment to his vessel is -- well-received. Some inner part of the Ventrue does in fact warm, though he doesn't thaw entirely. He bows his head slightly to Aurelie, before turning his attention to Gio and Winter both. "I do have your number, Lady Winter. And your offers are well-received, both of you. When the time comes, if I have need, I will summon."
He looks to Prosper next, bouncing from one chaotic portion of the conversation to the next. Nikola studies the man, and there is something in his gaze. He hesitates just a few heart beats before answering. "Mister Prosper. A friend of Seth's is always welcome here."
Prosper blinks as if flicked in the nose when he hears Gio offer their services. "You'd just throw away eternity for a 'good cause'? Shit, maybe I will have that drink." The outspoken Ghoul says with a disbelieving chuckle under his menthol scented breath. Lifting Aurelie's hand for a peck against her cool knuckles, he nods toward Winter before drifting his attention back to the departing Winter. "A treat seein' you so soon too, Lady White. Be seein' you again sooner or later. That I'm sure of."
Nikola's scrutiny does not go unnoticed by Prosper, a slender eyebrow hoisting upward as a lingering pause stretches. "Any friend of Seth's can cut out the middle man. Just call me Henry or Prosper, that'd be right as morning rain. You catch your unkillable beastie yet?"
Aurelie peers at Winter, her chin tilting up a touch. There's a bit of surprise at the idea of someone wanting to book an appointment with the half-wild thing but that melts away into some sort of delight. "Oh, you even have a card. Love it," the porcelain-featured Savage beams at Winter. "I'll text you." Because that's the fashion these days, you see. Aurelie takes the drink into her hand, taking a sniff of it but she doesn't imbibe just yet. Her eyes flick to Prosper, noting his body language before she glances back at Alabama as she leaves. Finally, Aurelie peers back over to Nikola. There's a measure of concern on her face that she doesn't try to hide, finally trying to pick up on cues and clues as the room clears. "You couldn't cut the tension in this room with if you hired a team of gorillas with chainsaws. I hope y'all are okay."
"A team of gorillas with chainsaws," Perperna says dryly, as if he knew any other way, "would have made far more pleasing initial company." He glances aside to Nikola but his attention quickly wavers back to the Dayum-grel. "Apparently hating the Sanctified annoys some people." He nudges Nikola under the arm slightly, "And I do so *hate* to annoy..." He's trying very, very hard to act jovial and entertaining, but even a blind, deaf, dumb, comatose lobotomy patient could see how... adrift he is. Pain of some kind lingering behind his usually-dead eyes.
Nikola looks between Henry and Aurelie as the pair, almost simultaneously, cut to the chase. Well, when there are elephants in the room, there are definitely going to be the big-game hunters that must bring them down. Absently reaching to adjust his Windsor-knotted tie, Nikola purses his lips for a moment. "I'm afraid we haven't destroyed the Angel yet, no." His tone is careful -- rigid, even. His Beast is snarling like a chained animal left out in the weather too long. "But we will. We will."
He turns his attention fully to Perperna, gazing after the departed pair, then back to the elder Daeva. "Well," he says after a moment of thought, "I know that you are usually tact and grace incarnate, Mister Perperna. It's what I love about you the most." He, too, is trying for the right tone. Just missing it. That nudge beneath his ribs is accepted without comment. He looks to Aurelie, smiles faintly, suddenly. "Circle of the Crone -- in point of fact, you may be able to help us. Your Covenant is known for its..esoteric knowledge. Are you familiar with Angels, at all?"
"Gorillas. With chainsaws." Prosper confirms emphatically with a crooked smirk creeping to his lips. Admittedly, it's a careful thing given the obvious aura of barely checked emotions in the room. Looking between Niko and Perperna, finally back to Nikola, the career thief takes on an expression of disbelief and confusion. "Angel? What? No, I mean that thing that can only be killed by wedding rings or some such horse shit?" Brows furrowed low, Prosper shakes his head and decides to go get that drink after all. Call it up. Little drink elevator. The whole shebang. "If I'm going to be honest, nobody really likes the Sanctified. It's just that they never shut uuuuuup... "
"I would never trust a single Kindred who claims that they would lay their Reqiuem down for any good cause." Bluntly said, Aurelie gives a little shrug of her pale, proud shoulders. Aurelie can feel the tension, the sadness, all of the pain in the room. Her good spirits have wilted but it doesn't seem as though she minds; it's rude to be happy around people who are grieving anyway. Aurelie drifts closer to them then, taking a seat with a flourish of grace -- her skirt is parted /around/ her long legs which she has stacked left atop right.
Aurelie's attention is drawn to the Ventrue, not making any attempts to hide the concern on her face. When he inquires about Angels, there's this split second of mirth on her face, "The type you pop on top of a Christmas tree or the type that nobody should ever fuck with?" She wonders, brow lifting.
.o................oO( #994 - Sun Jul 12 01:33:56 2020 )Oo.................o.
Separating himself slightly from Nikola - remaining in reach, but giving the man his predatory space, Perperna removes his cufflinks and deposits them in his breast pocket. He then works to roll the sleeves of his deep crimson shirt up and over his elbows, "Yes, now that we can have an intelligent fucking conversation." He opens his left hand and drags his fangs along the middle, splitting his flesh enough to draw vitae from within, thus bloodied he squeezes his hand into a fist over his glass, adding his raw vitae to the dry port. "Master Henry and I can sit here looking intelligent while you two actually get down to copper nails."
"The type that has our Harpy," Perperna says, equally as bluntly. He finally licks his hand closed and takes a mouthful of his bloodied fortified wine before placing his right hand on Nikola's shoulder, guiding him towards a seat, "Sit."
Nikola blinks at Prosper, then nods his head subtly. "We're talking about the same thing," he tells the master thief-ghoul gravely. "She is an angel, apparently, Henry. So our Black Constables have informed us." He turns his attention toward Aurelie for a moment, summoning up a quick smile, an imitation of good humor. "I'm afraid not. I mean the sort that comes into a city and begins committing blood sacrifices, then summons forth massive destructive forces." His teeth flash in a brief, white, smile. "I see no reason, anymore, to keep it quiet. We are fighting a war, and the bitch has just elevated the stakes."
As Perperna speaks, Nikola turns and stares at him blankly for a moment. Taken our Harpy. The words seem to have robbed him of something, some inner clockwork strength. He lets himself be guided into a seat, all his masculine power briefly vanquished by raw, frustrated, loss.
The smell of Vitae hits him like a bat to the back of the head. He can -taste- it on the air. Some Ghouls are not created equally and it's times like these that remind him of his age and strange immortality. Drink soon in hand and composing himself after a moment of phantom hunger pangs, Henry Prosper rejoins the group. "The key is to look the part and no one will question it." He says with a lift of his glass to Perperna.
The revelation that the Harpy was kidnapped? Prosper is noticeably surprised. "What? When did that happen? Nobody has said a -word- about it that I've heard until now." Taking a long drink, Prosper takes this all in with a look of expected concern. "Great fucking god, and here I thought coming out of retirement would be a cake walk. Sorry to hear that. Can only imagine what you're going through, losin' your coterie mate." That's when it clicks. The object Seth said the monster wanted. The heist on the Regas. Prosper downs his glass in one go and starts back to the dumbwaiter.
Aurelie seems to have relaxed magnificently now that the room has cleared -- something about the tension and sadness mixed with too many unknowns had made her a touch cagey. Now she can relax in her Carolina Herrera dress in peace and look sadly at her drink which she will no doubt have to vomit later. She sniffs it again, happy to use it as decoration -- glancing over toward Perperna as he mentions the Harpy being taken. Aurelie's eyes jerk to Prosper as soon as the Vitae is spilled, ready to snatch him by the neck if he loses control. She relaxes wheb he does.
The pack-minded creature's jaw drops a little and she /gasps/. It's one of those Southern Belle type of gasps reserved for deaths in the family and someone telling you that Jimmy cheated on Darla and she killed him in his sleep. Serious stuff, "Oh, darlin', that is so awful. Nikola, I was hopin' you weren't talkin' about that sort but here we are. Fuck me running," she whispers, pressing her fingers against her forehead, spreading them to her temples. "My memory ain't what it used to be after my little dirt nap. If Henry and I can do anything to return your family to whole, please let me know. I don't mean it in that empty way people say when your Granny dies either, I mean it. This wont be the only tragedy," she says the last in a voice that is more hushed.
Nodding once Perperna re-takes his seat. It is, in point of fact, the same chair he always sits in every time he's here. "Indeed," says the elder, running the tip of his finger around the rim of his glass, "We need to kill it. Or drive it away permanently." He knocks back a mouthful of his blood wine, qapla, and purses his lips, "It's a threat, not just to those that it has taken but to those of us left. If it understands our power structure, it could send us into chaos..." He clears his throat softly and leans in, "So we need it gone, with permanence."
"Two nights ago," replies Nikola slowly. "I've been keeping it quiet in the hopes that she would issue a ransom demand. I have something of hers that she wants." His tone is soft, distant. He watches Prosper down his cocktail and advance toward the dumbwaiter in some surprise, glancing over at Aurelie to gauge her reaction to her ghoul's sudden thirst. And thus, he takes the full brunt of her sympathy on the chin. It hits him like a fist clocking him, this deep and abiding, and apparently genuine, sharing of his pain. Nikola blinks, looks momentarily poleaxed.
But then Perperna is speaking, and Nikola is listening. He nods his head subtly. "I am hoping," he says slowly, "That she will feel confident. Make a mistake. Let us know where she is. We know that her bane is wedding rings. And if I can get close enough to put my ring-clad fist to her face..." A small shrug. "If we all pitch in, we could bring her down before she destroys us. The last time she acted, she leveled Jamestown."
A second drink in short order. Prosper has it in hand, back to the Vampires around him. Shoulders tense as he comes to terrible terms with who he is and what he does. The blood pulls harder than any would be contract and... "Fuck me runnin'." He sighs heavily before turning to wall that lonely strut back to them all. Two nights. Harpy gone. Heist completed. Henry Jacob Prosper drops a bombshell in his own lap with the dead eyed expression of a man slipping his neck into the hangman's noose.
"I think I know who your angel is. Or its middle man. The team that hit you. The team that I didn't lead here... fucking amateurs." He says and loosens his tie with a hooked finger, expecting a bloody and sudden end.
Aurelie looks very troubled now after being told of Muse's disappearance. It isn't entirely altruistic; this is a reminder of her own (im)mortality, the reminder that one of her own could be snatched away from her. Nikola's pain is like a reflection for Aurelie and the sudden shift in her mood isn't something she's trying to hide. She's perched there in a dress of vivid pomegranate -- it's dramatic, clinging to her waist and off the shoulder with a bit of a plunging neckline. The star is the skirt; made of flowing material that hits the floor with a slit to the hip. The sad girl in a gorgeous dress is sitting with her legs crossed left over right.
When there's a mention of it finding the power structure, Aurelie's lips twitch at the thought of a kidnapped Triumvirate with brief amusement but it's back to a Victorian level of melancholy. When Nikola mentions a wedding ring, the plot thickens and Aurelie looks a touch more wilted." When Prosper finally pipes up, Aurelie slams her drink like it's a fucking reflex. Nobody has seen Aurelie publically annoyed with Prosper since the Woodstock incident. For once, the Gangrel is at a loss for words.
"Prosper knows something about Muse?"
The voice from the just-arrived Daeva is cool, calm, collected. The vampire descends into the theater, smelling of vitae for those who can pick such things out - the blood of five vampires, including their own. Charred skin with the sick rot smell of aggravated damage. Under their coat and gloves, there's no damage on Conquista del Pan that shows, but to Kindred senses, the tiny specks of odd-smelling, rotted mortal blood and tantalizing, ever-so-obvious vitae that would never wash away without a full shower but cling to hair and face undetectable to mortals can't be avoided once they come closer. The Beast of the newly-arrived vampire is coiled tight as a spring, tangibly so as they draw closer.
"I think I got here just in time."
Nikola doesn't move. Not at first. He stares blankly at Henry Prosper, mouth ajar, fangs evident as he stares at the poor ghoul in stunned silence. Aurelie's presence, her sympathy, may have risked unmanning him -- but this, this has removed him entirely from his connection with the living. One hand flashes inside his suit, inside the collar of his shirt, grasps something. Pulls out a silver, onyx-set crucifix, his fingers massaging the ancient metal. He raises it to his lips, kisses it, tucks it away. The gesture seems to restore him to some semblance of himself.
And Pan's arrival -- the smell of blood, the familiar voice of his Primogen --- call him to action. His own Beast is nearly feral with anger and pain. When Nikola rises to his feet once more, though, the Sheriff is back. He moves with a cat-like grace toward Prosper, invading the man's personal space without a thought, until he is mere inches from the Ghoul. One hand flicks up, almost lazily, to try to brush a finger against Prosper's carotid artery. His voice is silky.
"Tell me everything."
"Quite," Perperna says, glancing up at Pan as they enter. He offers a cursory nod, before rising slightly from his seat and sitting again. "Marcus Perperna, we can chat about me later." His attention is immediately drawn to the ghoul, which is a sentence I never thought to type. "Naturally the... impact of this does not escape you," he says with an exceptionally measured tone directed towards Prosper, "So I will spare you the expected lecture or rant or shouting..." and that's when Nikola launches himself like a missile straight at the ghoul. Perperna is far too slow to intercede, but he does rise and place a hand on the Ventrue's shoulder, "Niko. You know torture doesn't work." The Daeva peers over towards Aurelie for a moment, "Leave the punishment to others. Sit, and be thoughtful about this information."
Aurelie hears a familiar voice -- a voice she didn't realize she needed to hear that badly. Aurelie's concern well is brimming now that the smell of vitae and rotted blood and the singe of wounded flesh upon Pan. Aurelie is suddenly taking her shoes off, unbuckling her four inch Louboutin heels and kicking them off across the room. The Gangrel has been pulled facefirst into fifty directions and when she sits again, it's with a heavy thump just as Nikola approaches Prosper. She tenses, clearly ready to act -- but when Nikola invades his personal space, she can't find it in herself to stop him.
"Henry will cooperate and tell you every single thing he knows. I am sure he had nothing to do with taking your Muse," she says, looking over at Prosper before she peers at Perperna. "Thank you," she murmurs, before looking back over at Pan with wide, bright seaglass green eyes. Halp.
Henry Jacob Prosper has lived a long and, quite frankly, unbelievably dangerous lifetime or three. Knowing full well the capabilities and temperaments of the Damned, he's faced with a choice. Run and cower, simpering in the corner and begging for forgiveness? Not something he's liable to choose. The danger is in Nikola and Perperna yet the Ghoul looks first to Aurelie. "Darlin', couldn't have known it'd shake out like this." Pan's voice brings his eyes closed a moment. He's got a full audience now. Lifting his glass to take his possible last drink as a living, breathing man, he savors the warm burn of mid shelf scotch. It's when he opens his eyes and has Nikola mere inches away that he comes to full terms with the decision he'd made.
"If I didn't intend to tell you everything I know, I wouldn't have said a word, Nikola." He says with measured, careful calm. Perperna can wait, he has a Sheriff up in his territorial bubble. "Torture me if you're into it. I'll tell you all the same. She came to me with a score. Vague. Challenging. Part of a team. Didn't tell me the details at first. Wanted us all to sign on blind before we knew the whole of it." Empty glass in hand, Prosper stared at the Ventrue as only a man at gunpoint can. "I pieced it together and bowed out. It was supposed to be a theft. Not a... whatever the fuck that was... The team didn't add up to me. Didn't have a shred of rep between 'em. Locals, I figure. One for sure, some little Russian thing. Skinny. Accent. Different colored eyes."
"Hey Marc. I've heard of you. First Estate. I'm thinking maybe the suggestion that Captain Senjan might torture my coterie-mate is a little inflammatory and unfair to Niko here. Niko wouldn't be so dumb as to physically threaten Hank, here." Where Aurelie hesitates to approach, Pan doesn't, at all. There's a slight nod of the head to Aurelie, but Pan doesn't go to her, they got to Nikola and Prosper, and put a hand lightly on Nikola's shoulder. Gentle pressure, back, away from the ghoul.
"See, Niko? This is -lucky-. Prosper got approached for a theft, the theft's target was a friend. Prosper bowed out with all professional courtesy intact. -Next- time, he'll let us know if someone's targeting the holdings of the Movement, but I'm betting if Henry knew it was about more than stealing cash goods from a guy like Seth, he'd have let us know anyway. So we all relax."
"Skinny, Russian... heterochromia. Yes, I've met them, briefly." Perperna furrows his brow and purses his lips, "I don't recall the name." When Pan interjects, Perperna raises an eyebrow slightly, "Inflammatory, maybe. Definitely not outside his skillset or his passion level at the minute, though." He purses his lips again and tilts his glance towards Nikola, "They're right, however. This is rather seren... sera... dipi dots..." He rolls his eyes, "Stupid fucking language. It's rather good news that we have this information."
So many voices of reason, so little time. Nikola hears from Aurelie first, the assurances that this man couldn't possibly have kidnapped his Coterie-mate. And then Perperna is on one shoulder, Pan on the other, each gently urging restraint. The Sheriff of New Orleans stares at Prosper for a few moments as Henry's own logical, calmly-stated case, sinks in. In fairness, Nikola seems to hear it all -- he's not completely given over to the urge for blood.
The finger that had been against Prosper's carotid slips away, goes to his own tie as he adjusts the knot. He takes a few steps back, allowing himself to be guided out of the Ghoul's personal bubble. "Alright. It's alright. Pan is right -- I'd never hurt you for telling the truth, Henry." But Nikola is not smiling. He waits awhile, mustering his thoughts. "Alright. This is good. Henry, let's start at the beginning. Tell us how the Angel made contact with you. Go from there."
Aurelie's demeanor has changed from her light and airy capricious set of instincts given legs way and has settled into something worried, intent. Pan's being so reasonable, diffusing the situation. "I appreciate your restraint, Nikola, and for hearing Henry out." She exhales a soft blow of breath she doesn't exactly need to, keeping mostly mum. Finally, she stands on bare feet and begins to pace back and forth -- unable to keep herself still in that moment. Her eyebrow is furrowed, glancing over at Pan -- the worry evident there thanks to the state of them as well.
"Your crew stole from them. They were stealing it back. It was business. Simple as that." The way he says it, the soft stage whisper scented of menthol and alcohol, he's being very careful here and the scotch has helped take some of that edge off. A bottle would be a tad better. Maybe later. If there is one. He doesn't step back, that would be foolish. He has to stand his ground, anything else would drip blood into the already dangerous waters. Pan's intervention is, without a doubt, the main reason for Prosper's shoulders to sag in a bit of ease. The flick of his eyes to the Daeva holds volumes of unspoken thanks.
His tie adjusted by the thankfully self restrained Sheriff, Prosper lets out an unhindered and all too understandable sigh of relief. Head turned and tilted, his neck pops. "Wouldn't be the first time I've been under a hot knife or a pair of tin snips." He says to Perperna with a shrug of indifference. Torture is the least of his worries here. He can't stop from making little glances at Aurelie, heart beat racing as he goes against a code he's followed a century plus. He's a fucking narc. He loathes himself completely at this moment.
"She came to me at the Angry Armadillo. Off track betting bar in Ariba. She knew me. Which told me she was either Accorded or knew someone that was. I don't exist on paper. I've been legally dead longer than most people live in the first place. She knew who I was and what I did. Gave me and offer, said I could take it or leave it but I had to meet the others first. So I did."
Once Niko's backed down, Pan slides an arm around Prosper's shoulders for a brief squeeze. "These people weren't just stealing. They're the ones that have been chopping off heads all over the city, pinning it on vampires, draining blood and dumping them openly. What Niko took from them wasn't just a thing. Niko was working on my orders to investigate this."
Once that squeeze is delivered, Pan retreats toward where Aurelie's pacing. They drop down into a chair, one of several nearby, and hook another with one foot to drag it over next to them. They catch the other Primogen's eye, then flick them toward the seat they've dragged close as they drape an arm over the back of it, in invitation.
"I'll track down the Russian myself. I have a line on that front. We'll set the Sheriff and his hounds to tracking down your contact, Prosper, and anyone else you know might have been involved. Everything you can remember, when you've had a chance to write it all down. If you have trouble remembering, we have someone who can do some...digging. A baker. With your consent."
As things have calmed down from volcano to zit on the face waiting to pop right before a big interview, Perperna retakes his seat. Apparently the one thing he does know is when to butt out of conversations far above his paygrade. Taking up his blood-wine again and sniffing at it thoughtfully, his eyes don't leave Prosper - like a hawk that doesn't need to blink. A blinkless bird of prey. If there's one thing he knows about angels, it's not to blink.
"You are welcome, Primogen." Nikola's response to Aurelie is -- well, it's not curt, but there's obviously some anger remaining behind the words. He is constantly restraining himself. Every moment is a new battle to hold onto his self-control. But the combined influences of all these frankly sympathetic people surrounding him seems to keep the Ventrue from lashing out in an irrevocably self-destructive way. One point for comradeship, it seems.
Nikola idly flexes his fingers as he stands there, but he otherwise doesn't move, listening to Prosper's story intently. He looks down at the deck for a few moments, gazing blankly at his polished shoes. As Pan moves away and settles into a seat, Nikola glances over at them for a moment, expression thoughtful. "Good thinking," he says quietly. "The Baker has already been alerted that I may need her assistance." He looks back to Prosper, visibly wrestling to keep his more base emotions in check. "For now -- I need to take a step back from this, Henry. But the other two, the two you didn't recognize. Any details would be valuable." He turns, stalks a few steps toward the Elysium's door, pauses. "Another thing. The object we took from her? I suspect she intends to use it to destroy the city. We *need* to find a way to corner her. If you can think of any way she gave to contact you? Please let me know." And then, with a final glance at the others, Nikola simply walks out.
Aurelie needed a thing to do with herself, hence the pacing. Her eyes dart to Pan and she approaches them without hesitation -- trusting Nikola with Prosper, it seems. The leggy, barefoot redhead sinks down to sit in the seat but not before she dips down to lay a pretty intense kiss on Pan's mouth. She peers into their eyes then, a hand gently patting their cheek with clear affection before she collapses in the chair with the heavy sigh, ankles crossed. "Hi. We should talk about why you smell like the plot of The Evil Dead later, love," Aurelie murmurs to her Coterie Mate. She's watching Nikola leave with a dreamy, sad sigh. "Poor lamb," she murmurs about the undoubtedly unlamblike Ventrue.
Praying to more gods than most of them would be able to count, Prosper keeps his distance from Aurelie even though he wants nothing more than to go to her. Beg forgiveness. Do anything to ease her worry and rightful anger... the distance he keeps physically, he hopes is taken further by the others. His mess. Pans reassuring squeeze to his shoulders is leaned into ever so slightly. "It was a fifteen grand pay out for that? Yeah. Amateurs alright. Only a hungry dog would have bitten that bone."
As the others take seats and calm ravenous Beasts, Prosper stays exactly where he was left. Taking a seat of his own would be an insult, he feels, in this time of high tensions and forced patience. "No need for a shovel, Pan. A pen will do just fine. I ain't burying anything tonight but if y'all feel I am or somethin' has been hidden from me, I won't refuse. I just.. I need to make right."
He fidgets, fingers worrying at his watch band. Gun metal and platinum. "Destroy the city. Lovely."
When Aurelie leans down to kiss them, Pan's eyes slip closed and they straighten, ever so slightly, upward into it. They reach out a hand to slide 'round behind her knee, making that contact, briefly, until the kiss is done and Aurelie sits. The Daeva then reaches up to slide that arm back around her shoulders, lightly stroking up and down the far side of her neck from shoulder to just below her ear with only the side of their thumb.
"I agree," Pan says...agreeably...in response to Prosper's comment about 'amateurs'. "I wouldn't risk the Regas if I -didn't- know the Savages for less than fifty. Cameras, guards, -vampires-, all Nikola's human friends with their -tricks-. I'm bold but not that bold."
Says the vampire whose hair smells like a dozen different long-dead humans and at least five sources of vitae, of course.
"The city won't be destroyed. We have -very- focused people working to keep it from that. Everyone should relax. There's nothing more to be done for the evening. Elysium is a place of calm. I suggest we engage in...serene conversation on lighter subjects. For example, Prosper, I hope you don't mind I borrowed one of your cars. It may need to be...detailed."
Into the Regas Elysium comes a new face. Leo steps in, pausing by the door to glance around before resuming his casual walk, his Beast rousing to eye the others here, though not in an aggressive fashion. He is flush with life, though that's probably not a surprise given he's come via the casino, and he comes to a stop some meters away from the three Kindred here - or at least, from whomever is closest to the entry. "Good evening." His accent suggests a Californian heritage.
Aurelie watches Prosper after Nikola leaves. She looks so worried -- she knows he's in distress. Watching someone for a lifetime will have that effect. There's something about all of Pan's soothing logic that makes her relax visibly. An arm is extended to Prosper and she beckons him over -- dragging a seat over to herself with an outstretched arm. "Come over here, sugar," the Gangrel says to Prosper in a soft tone. If she's angry or annoyed with him, it's not registering. If anything, she's treating him tenderly. "You did the right thing," she says soon after, knowing he's sort of broken the thief brocode.
When Leo enters, she looks over toward Leo with a little perk, looking him over top to bottom without much of an attempt at hiding it. "Well hello. We were just chatting about the weather and other such fun fare. I am Aurelie and I will of course allow this gorgeous band of lovelies to introduce themselves."
Prosper -knows- Perperna is right. It's obvious but the steady hammer of his heart and stern set of his jaw says he was still deep into the mental gymnastics of self-flagellation. His judgement was unshakeable. His code of conduct was iron clad. Or so he thought until tonight. "Yeah. I hear you, Mister Perperna. Don't turn the clock back none though." Swallowing the bowling ball in his throat, Prosper sets his glass down on a small table.
"Didn't expect that crew to make it past the front door, to be honest. Fact of the matter still remains that I got the Harpy's blood on my hands." He's looking at his right hand when he says it, lips in a tight line. Eyes squinting as if he could see it there in shades of crimson. Lifting near black eyes to his Savage Regnant urging him closer, there was a moment of unexpected hesitation. He felt poisonous. Toxic. He's not used to being a liability... but her tender tone wins and he finds himself taking a seat beside her. Shoulders low and heavy, hands wringing between his knees when Leo entered. "Humid and hot. Rain coming. So ends the month forecast."
Glancing about in a rather over-the-top manner, Perperna leans in towards the Prosper-Pan-Aurelie triumvirate and grins, "Should I tell you how I first... encountered our dear Sheriff? Everyone likes the story of a big bad vampire having his ass kicked." He nips at his lower lip and chuckles, "It was... a long time ago. Fifteen... or sixteen hundred and something, I think. Or seven... anyway, it was a while ago." He waves a hand as he dismisses the details, "I was onboard a ship, one of my ships, trading gold and spice and such from Alexandria to Venice. Fairly standard thing after the Ottomans took over the land routes. We get attacked and I take a six-foot long splinter square in the chest." He presses his hand over his 'heart' and grins, "Froze, torpid, totally out of it for the rest of the battle..." He sighs softly, "I wake up fifty goddamn years later, right? I'm guessing the wood rotted... and I'm stuck in a gilded box in some Ottoman prince's parlor that he's using as a coffee table."
When Leo arrives, Pan's attention latches onto the new Daeva. "Conquista del Pan," they offer him by way of introduction, leaving off the rest and trusting to reputation for the rest. After all, why would Pan expect -anyone- not to know who they are? Ego is not in short supply.
"Muse isn't necessarily dead, Hank," Pan says in a soothing tone to Prosper. "If they'd wanted to kill her, they'd have done so. They're trying to distract us from them with a search for a missing person. They've probably dumped her somewhere close enough to lure us into looking for her and obscure enough to be nigh-impossible to track. We'll hire the Constables, maybe. Or find someone with talent at divination, scrying, whatever. There's a whole world of weird magical bullshit out there. Wizards are doing weird shit all the time."
When Prosper sits down on the opposite side of Aurelie from them, Pan leans over into Primogen Fontenot enough to slide cool fingers to the back of Prosper's neck and give another squeeze before coming upright again.
Perperna's story gets a -look- from Pan, and when it's done, they say: "Knowing how the Sheriff feels about the First Estate, I'd say you lucked out. Rich merchants who cross paths with Captain Nikola Senjan aren't usually lucky enough to be furniture later."
"Leonard Moses," the arrival murmurs to Pan and Aurelie in return, bowing his head slightly to both the Carthian and Circle Primogens. Yes, he seems to recognise there is a reason to show them respect, suggesting he at least knows who sits in the Primogen Council.
The ghoul gets a brief glance, a cursory curiosity, and then Leo looks to Perperna as the Invictus tells his story, finding himself a seat nearby from which he can watch and listen without interrupting or distracting unduly.
Aurelie leans over to Prosper and reaches for his hand. She has no issue grabbing it and dragging it into her lap, lightly squeezing it in reassurance. When Perperna tells his story, there's this quiet quirk of an elegant brow and she mmmms with her head cocked to the side. "How mad was the Prince when you inevitably ruined his table?" She wonders about the oddest details, and then peers over at Pan. "This is Louisiana, can't swing a dead cat without smackin' someone with wizard powers right in the face."
She sighs, and then looks at Leo. "So, tell me more about you. God squad? Scholar crew? Which team do you play for? I've never seen a business casual Acolyte in my life." She wonders of Leo, happy to leave sad subjects in the dust.
"Right. Just missing and being used as bait. She's gonna tear me to shreds with whispers before I even know I'm bleedin'." Prosper says with a mirthless, half hearted chuckle. The usual manipulative charm of the longtime highwayman and bank robber is just... gone. He's hunched forward, elbows on knees and wringing his hands in constant worry. Confidence is a distant memory as he plays the events over in his head. How he could have done things different. How he could have pulled the job with less loose ends.
"I can lend a hand with the search. Literally the least I can do. Won't hold my breath though. Could be compromised, I suppose." Brows furrowed low at the thought. Shit, what if his memories weren't his? That's a hard, jagged pill to swallow. Pan's grip at the back of his neck sees the Ghoul tip his head back into it. Then just slump into the seat cushions when it's gone. Leo in his sights, the sullen Thrall forces a vague smile. "Henry Jacob Prosper. Thrall and Voice of Primogen Fontenot." Both hands rise to roughly rake his hair back with a harsh push. They stay there, holding his head. He needs a drink. Some black tar heroin and a plane ticket to Bali. "Did you just say that you were a coffee table?" Yes, that was Prosper's take away here.
"Mr. Moses is a member of the Order," Pan explains to Aurelie, pre-empting any reply Leo might give for himself. "Of some repute. A...scientist of sorts, as we judge them. A doctor, if you could call him that." The Sanam looks from Aurelie to Leo and adds, "With apologies, but your reputation precedes you, Mr. Moses."
Conquista del Pan seems...comfortable in that little trio of Roses, arm settled around Aurelie, with Aurelie linking them to Prosper. The former getting casual touches, the latter getting only sidelong looks of slightly-concealed concern that doesn't get -voiced-. Not in public, at least.
"Oh," Perperna says as he inclines his head towards Pan, "Sure, I was half expecting to be strapped to my mainmast to face the sun. But my point was that mistakes were made, and I bounced back and learned from it. And if a crusty old Invictus can actually *learn* something, so can anyone. So, personal progress is possible no matter the circumstances." He nods resolutely, as if what he had just said was some highly intelligent information. "As for the Princeling..." Perperna's attention drifts towards Aurelie, "Apparently he had a lovely service. I was hungry." He bobs his eyebrows lightly towards Prosper, "Combination coffee table and foot rest. I was an Ottoman's ottoman."
SUDDENLY someone far less In The Shit has made themselves known. The Perpster nips his lower lip again as he watches Leo make his introduction and niceties, "God squad?" He furrows his brow slightly, "You'd think your lot would claim that. More gods. Or god-like-ish-figures anyway." He sucks his upper lip and tilts his head, "Moses... Moses. That name does ring a bell..." He pauses and narrows his eyes at Aurelie, "And no, not because I knew 'that other one' thank you."
"Scholar crew," Leo acknowledges once Pan has confirmed his membership in the Ordo Dracul, seeming entirely unconcerned with the informal designation. "Definitely /not/ God Squad." It seems by his slightly disgusted tone that he is not a fan of the Lancea. Though really, who is?
He smiles briefly at the other Dragon, "You are too kind, Primogen." Presumably, not something Pan - or indeed most Primogen - can be accused of often.
To Perperna he then turns his attention, watching the man work through how he knows or does not know the name. "Perhaps you've watched too many Bruce Willis movies lately?" he suggests helpfully, though having no idea whether the Invictus watches /any/ movies, much less an action/comedy about retired assassins.
She listens to Prosper beat the shit out of himself with a proverbial sledgehammer upside the dignity over and over, her eyebrow furrowed with clear concern. She looks away from him to Perperna, unable but to help but to bark a bright laugh when he says an Ottoman's Ottoman. "The God Squad implies you give a heck what other people are doin' with their gods. We don't. We ain't bible thumpers." Aurelie relaxes a little more, sinking down into her seat -- more and more comfortable.
When scholar crew is confirmed, the moon pale Gangrel claps her hands together once and looks bright. And when Perperna mentions the name Moses, she gives him a sidelong glance. "Perhaps because you owed him money but were relieved when he fucked off into the desert after the 10 plagues," Aurelie says to the old Daeva with a grin.
He'll eventually stop shadow boxing with his own thoughts. Has to happen. While the old Ghoul is clearly still up to his nips in horse manure, he struggles to put on a show of pulling himself together. Aurelie and Pan's closeness surely helps, a sort of anchor to hold onto. "Now, now. The Lancea et Sanctum is well regarded and important to the Praxis. How else would we know that you're all doing immortality wrong?" A wry little smirk and Prosper takes a breath, enforcing a determined chill upon himself as best he can. Maybe a shower, a gunfight and some other less lethal past times to shift his thoughts.
One band laying on Aurelie's thigh just above the knee, he gives her a reassuring look and squeeze. See? He's bottling it all up nicely! "An Ottoman's ottoman. Sweet jumpin' Christ, I don't even know how to respond to that. Thank you though. I get what you're puffin' down." It's then that Prosper snap-points to Leo. "Impossible to watch too many Bruce Willis movies. It's a Christmas tradition."
"The Lancea et Sanctum," Pan adds in the wake of Prosper's oh-so-not-sarcastic politeness, "Can spontaneously fucking combust. That fucking Yaweh dude has -no- fucking professional courtesy. Like, sure, other gods declare WAR on foreign gods, but he tries to pretend we don't even -exist-." While Prosper gives Aurelie's thigh a good grope and squeeze, Pan is running nails across her scalp, from neck up to her crown and back downward, slow and lazy. "When I meet a single fucking member of the spear-and-shield who isn't a trashfire, I may revisit the opinion, but I haven't had cause to yet."
"Now, now," Perperna retorts to Prosper, "We all think the other groups are doing immortality wrong. We just don't think that everyone but us is going to hell." He chuckles softly, "Boy what an idea that was. Make people broken, totally and utterly broken. Then sell them the cure. But wait... if you don't take the cure, you're going to burn for eternity!" He cackles as softly as one can actually cackle before it turns into a guffaw, "What a racket." He sighs softly, almost wistfully, "I swear I almost said back in my day..." He shakes his head to loose some of the cobwebs within and tilts his head to regard Leo, "I don't know what a Bruce Willis is. I know what a movie is..." He flicks a glance towards Prosper, "And I fuckin' hate Christmas."
As the ghoul stuffs down his internal torment and resumes the role of jester to Aurelie's court, Leo gives the man a thoughtful look, perhaps mentally catalouging all the different ways that little shrapnel bomb of guilt might damage him. A mental exercise, no more, and then his attention is drawn back to the present. "Speaking of spontaneously fucking combusting and trashfires, if I might ask Primogen Pan - are you quite alright?" He at least has scented vitae and blood on the Carthian, though presumably given Pan is here and their foes are not, they were victorious. "It seems you've had a spot of trouble lately."
He then glances sidelong to Perperna. "A moderately successful actor, mainly of action movies. Getting on a little bit now, though less prone to seeking out botox and surgery than most. Die Hard is considered to be a Christmas movie," he clarifies, nodding to Prosper's mention of that as a tradition. "Mainly so people can see Hans Gruber - played by Alan Rickman - fall to his death from the top of the Nakatomi Plaza." Apparently, he's a little bit into movies.
"Mmm, the Acolytes' whole thing is doing your own version of Immortality. We came together in the first place because we wanted to be left alone by all you "everyone's doin' things wrong" types," Aurelie says to Perperna who is many times older than her Covenant. Her head lolls back against Pan's hand, prone to basking in scritches. She clearly needs them. "Leo, what kinda' doctor are you? The brain type, the experimenty type, or the healy type?" Aurelie counts off the three types of doctors she is aware of at the moment, and then casts a sidelong glance over toward Leo -- studying him curiously, relaxed. "I've never seen Die Hard, I missed the 80s. It is from the 80s, right?" She frowns thoughtfully.
Okay, so the topic at hand is doing some heavy lifting in changing his dour mood. Closing his eyes, Prosper pinches the bridge of his nose and stifles a laugh at Pan's take on the religious vampiric right. Surrounded by heathens and heretics. Everything as it should be. "Let's not even get into the point that their God is a carbon copy of any one we," He gestures between himself and Aurelie "already know on a deep and personal level. If you ever meet one that doesn't smell like burning latex, cheap wine and dumpster water, I'll be the first to say they're fakin'." A smile, an actual and honest smile creeps to the surface at Perperna's spot on summation. "A racket. Oldest one and still the best paid. The churches make banks look like a slow kids ceramic piggie."
"I love Christmas. Only time I get to dress in tinsel and strategically placed tree top angels. It's tradition." A crooked smirk at the corner of his lips, he leans his head forward to look across Aurelie to Pan. "I didn't want to say anything but you smell like an orgy gone wrong at a Great White concert. You alright?" His Regnants revelation of never having seen Die Hard gets Prosper to lean in closer, shoulder to shoulder. "We'll get that sorted. You ordered a projection screen a couple weeks back. Jeff Bezos is probably writin' you a personal letter of thanks as we speak after all your cart clearin'."
"A family matter. Not Praxis business," Pan assures Leo and Prosper, regarding their smell of vitae and fire. "A disagreement with my father about whether I should remain in New Orleans or return to Houston. My brothers and sisters are butting into the argument, and the're difficult people to dissuade. Unrelated to god, angels, decapitations, abductions, and the destruction of the city. I'm resolving it on my own so as to involve others in the distasteful politics of my particular lineage as little as possible." And, presumably, to keep Aurelie and Prosper and the rest from smelling like charred flesh and vitae and ritually tainted mortal blood.
"As for -racket-. As an object of worship myself, I'd like to think I provide a valuable service in exchange for the tribute I receive. Not a single one of my cultists has had their fortunes stripped, their souls burned for eternity, or even been flogged or flayed. Without their express consent."
"Not Praxis business is often a phrase utter minutes before something very much becomes Praxis business," Perperna muses with a shrug of his shoulders, "If you say you've got it in hand I believe you... but if you get yourself killed over this family situation..." That's presumably the closest one might get to a 'be careful' from the aging fauxristocrat. He *finally* downs his now overly warm port and winces, "Oh I let that sit far, far too long..." He sniffs at the empty glass and shakes his head, "Lucky it was only cheap plonk." He uneasily rises to his feet and furrows his brow, "Mm, yup. Still feeling it though, good." After a moment he ambles his way over to the dumb waiter, to return the glass.
"All three to one degree or another, but primarily experimentation. As one might expect," Leo murmurs to Aurelie's question. "My business such as it is, is in therapy, but that is only for my.. enjoyment, if you will." He nods slightly, considering Pan's explanation and letting it be. If it's not the business of the Praxis, he's not going to be concerned, even despite Perperna's comment.
Aurelie gives Pan this look when they say it's not Praxis business, watching them with careful consideration before she glances back over at Leo. She nods softly in understanding, "Maybe one day we could discuss that therapy hobby of yours' for..reasons," Aurelie says, not quite clandestinely and she doesn't let what she's on about go. She's watching Perperna and his cheap plonk, wincing a little empathetically at the idea of drinking anything beside blood. She sinks a little more into her seat, "I feel like we should leave this place and go to my house and go swimming, but what do I know?" Aurelie says with a sigh. "I'm done with this dress already. It's itchy."
"Had five brothers growin' up. Got into plenty of fights, once even shot my younger brother Bart in the leg with a bow and arrow. He cried and cried... didn't try to cook me alive in an illegal firework stand though. Shoulda told him I was a naughty vampire god, huh?" Prosper says while standing up from his seat after a pat to the Gangrel priestesses thigh. "I'll go pull the car around here in two shakes, darlin'."
Smoothing a hand down his tie and buttoning his jacket, Prosper makes his way across the room to order yet another drink. A hundred years of hard drinking and Savage Vitae says his tolerance is on point. Perperna pointing out the fickle nature of Praxis business gets a long sigh he hopes isn't heard. "Ain't that the truth." He mutters before deciding against more booze. Without question or pause, he takes the wine glass from Perp and sends it up with his old one. "Thank you." He says to the newly met and truly ancient Daeva. "For the story... and for not breakin' out the power tools."
"I sincerely, -deeply- want to be in the pool," Pan agrees with Aurelie. "And I sincerely, -deeply- want you to be not in a dress." As if this statement is enough that the decision is made, the Primogen for the Movement rises, and offers the Primogen for the Circle a hand to help her to her feet. When Prosper offers to bring the car around, Pan gives him a tired, grateful look before addressing the two other vampires. "Mr. Perperna. Mr. Moses. It was good to meet both of you, and I have things to discuss with each of you at your convenience, if you don't mind. Y'all can get my number right..." Pan points over toward where announcements hang, "Over there. I'd appreciate a text whenever you can."
Offering a tap-tap of his fist against the side of Prosper's arm, Perperna grins, "Like I said, torture's unreliable. Been victim and practitioner too many times to trust it." He tilts his head slightly and shrugs his shoulders, "Besides, it's not like you did anything actually wrong. Fuck, if I got drilled every time I had a business deal I backed out on..." He shrugs again, "Maybe mind your p's and q's around Niko for a while, but he'll simmer down once we have something." Ambling back towards the rest of the Fang Gang, he arrives just in time to note that almost everyone is leaving, "Text? Right, I can do that." He glances over at the announcement board whatever thing and nods, "T'was a pleasure.""At your convenience, Primogen," Leo agrees to Aurelie's request with a polite smile. "Though I should be going, now." He rises, absently brushing non-existent dust from his pants, bowing his head again slightly towards both Aurelie and Pan. "It has been a pleasure meeting all of you," he murmurs, nodding to the comment on contact. "I will make my contact details available to those who want them on my next visit." Then, with another nod, he is heading towards the door.