Logs:Primogen, Property & Pretty Hats

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Primogen, Property & Pretty Hats


Characters: Ghandara, Mingzhu, Pan, Madeleine & Aurelie
Date: 2020-05-22
Summary: A new Primogen steps up, difficult topics are discussed and a hat remains in its owner's possession.
Disclaimers:

Arrangements have been made via email: a meeting at the Lee Circle Library on Friday evening. Even with the city recently reopening, the library isn't a particularly busy spot on the lead-in to the weekend, leaving many of the aisles and nooks feeling pleasantly secluded. Ghandara is already situated in one of these out-of-the-way corners, dressed in an open-shoulder white silk kaftan with a symmetrical cherry blossom print in red and grey, reading a book on the Medicinal Chemistry of Herbs. Felix, in a suit of charcoal grey with dark red highlights and a matching color on his nails, waits near the entrance for the expected ambassador, greeting Mingzhu with an easy smile, a friendly, "Good evening, Miss Baak," and a gestural invitation to lead her back to where his mistress sits.


Having left a message with friends that she would be attending a meeting at the library - just on the off chance she's never seen again - Mingzhu dresses in one of her usual masculine-cut suits, and makes her way down to Lee Circle Library. She enters with confidence, shoulders square and chin raised as if she not only has every right to be here, but is in fact is a guest of honour, someone to be appreciated. But then again, she's a Fairest. Surely that's a given?

She turns to Felix when she spots him, inclining her head slightly to the ghoul and following him towards where Ghandara has set up camp. "Thank you," she murmurs to him, polite if not overly warm, her attention mostly on the Nosferatu when she comes into view.


Ghandara sets her reading aside as the pair approach, the book closed without any placeholder and set aside on a short stack she may well intend to check out. "You look impeccable this evening, Ambassador," comes with a small, approving smile, the similar color choices striking a pleasant chord. With a gesture to a nearby chair, pleasantly cushioned to encourage liesurely reading rather than stern study, she invites, "Join me?" Felix, meanwhile, doesn't go far, not tonight. Instead, he pulls a book from that short stack, the only paperback in the pile, and settles in nearby to read. A historical romance by the look of it, all bustles and bared chests on the cover. "Have you had occasion to meet with any others of our nocturnal community?"


Removing her coat from her shoulders, Mingzhu drapes it over the back of that chair, taking a moment to straighten her jacket before settling, one leg crossed over the other knee, hands on lap. "Thank you," she replies quietly, accepting the compliment as her due. Glancing briefly over to Felix as he settles in for a read while waiting to serve, the Changeling then returns her all-white eyes to Ghandara, considering her question. "A very few. Far fewer than I would have thought for a city the size and nature of New Orleans, but. I am given to understand there have been difficulties in the recent past."


"Evidently," suggests an absence of first-hand knowledge which Ghandara then confirms by noting, "Quite a bit of trouble while I was... away." The hesitation is just enough to imply that 'away' might not be the best descriptor for her absence, but public places do require some degree of discretion. "Nothing from which we won't recover in time. We are eternal and patient." A minute smile finds her red-painted lips, briefly. "One step toward breathing life, as it were, back into our society is bringing new blood into our governance and strengthening our ties with the broader community. As such, we would like to extend a formal invitation to join our council, to serve as official emissary with all the access and privileges that might include. It ought to make remaining informed and making introductions a good deal easier for you."


Such a useful word, 'Away'. It covers Torpor, the Durance, all sorts of things better left unmentioned in polite company. Not that Mingzhu has any idea that Torpor is a thing, but she understands well enough the need to abstract some things. "Indeed," she agrees to the 'eternal and patient' comment, brows raising slightly at the next suggestion from the Nosferatu. "I am interested, certainly. But before agreeing, I would look to understand what responsibilities come with the title, as well as the access and privileges alluded to."


"You would be expected to maintain our privacy and respect our domain," Ghandara begins without missing a beat. "I imagine that your responsibilities as emissary would be equivalent to those you already perform as ambassador, to serve as an intermediary between our governing body and yours. Further, you will be granted a voice, on behalf of your people, on our council. You will be granted access to our meeting places and extended invitation to Court when one is called. You will be treated as an honored guest, though you may find some more respectful of that idea than others. Not everyone remembers their manners." Her tight smile speaks of grim amusement, a glint of humor in her dark eyes.


There is a slight smile from Mingzhu as Ghandara goes over the topic of manners and those who don't remember them. "And of course there are those who know perfectly how to act and choose to do the exact opposite," she agrees, shaking her head slightly. "I believe I will accept this honour, thank you. I would look to meet those on your council before the next Court meeting, if that is possible?" she then enquires, the silvery sheen that flickers around her brightening briefly, then settling again.


Ghandara breathes a quiet laugh as she nods to Mingzhu's point. There are certainly those sorts among her kind, no doubt. When the position is accepted, the nosferatu turns a look to Felix who peeks up from his pages and takes the shallow nod from his regnant as a sign to do... something. Getting to his feet, he returns the book to the pile and then sets off on his own down one of the aisles. The vampire, meanwhile, rises as well, the silk of her dress fluttering gently with the movement. "Let's begin with a different introduction. If you'd be so kind as to follow me?" She gestures the direction they'll be heading, toward the back, and only starts that way when it seems the newly appointed Emissary intends to join her.


Rising to her feet and donning her coat once more, open but over her shoulders, Mingzhu moves to follow Ghandara without hesitation, trusting in the other woman's hospitality. And if nothing else, killing her in the library would be terribly ill-mannered. She doesn't look away from the other woman, keeping pace and refraining from studying the books she passes, even if they do look interesting.


Ghandara moves at a fairly leisurely pace which assures that, by the time the arrive at their destination, Felix has already made it to the door to the Restricted Section with one of the librarians, a middle-aged woman with her dark hair pulled back into a loose ponytail, her tee shirt declaring A BOOK A DAY KEEPS REALITY AWAY. The ghoul doesn't look directly at the haunt, preferring to interact with the gentleman in the suit as he explains, "Miss Baak Mingzhu will need to be added to the longterm guest list now that she's accepted the invitation of the Triumvirate to serve as Emissary to the Freehold." Easier to speak in open terms back here where so few people not-in-the-know tread. The librarian gets a good look at Mingzhu and asks for the correct spelling of her name before a code is entered into the electronic keypad beside the door and all three are allowed inside. Felix handles the niceties on his mistress' behalf as she takes the lead down the spiral staircase on the other side.


Following down the spiral staircase, Mingzhu's pace slows slightly. It might be impossible not to be impressed by the unexpectedly grand layout of this room below the main Library floor, with the statues and thrones and triptych. By the time she reaches the ground, she has seen a number of things she intends to look at more closely - the artwork, rather than trying to sniff out secrets. "This room is beautiful," she murmurs as her foot touches the floor, her expression unashamedly awed.


"This is where the Primogen Council, of which you are now a part, meets," Ghandara explains. "It is where we hold Court. For the moment, it is the only Elysium in the city, the only place run by and for kindred exclusively, though there is some hope that will change in coming nights." She gestures to Mingzhu, inviting her to wander where she'd like, intent on following to maintain their conversation. "Our Praxis, unlike those of other cities, is not lead by a single Prince. Instead, we are guided by the Triumvirate, whose invitation I have extended to you this evening. Each member of the Triumvirate has their own seneschal with whom we interact more regularly. I would not expect to meet any of them directly, save perhaps at Court functions. Below the Triumvirate is the Primogen Council, of which you and I are both members. I represent my clan as you represent your kin." She doesn't make a point of clarifying which of their voices will have more weight. Manners and all that. "Several of the council seats are currently empty while others are occupied by recluses in need of replacement. I find it unlikely that you'll meet the others before they're pushed out, but I could be wrong."


Listening to Ghandara's words, Mingzhu finds herself drawn to the triptych, admiring it from in front of the stage rather than climbing up to get closer. "Mmn. Could you perhaps translate some of those meanings for me?" she enquires of Ghandara, turning her gaze back to the Nos and offering a slightly wry smile. "I am inferring that your use of Praxis is not with the traditional sense of the word. And if this is Elysium as per the Greek interpretation, then my notions of heaven are quite wrong." She follows the train of Triumvirate and Prince well enough, those are titles she can understand without conversion - but as with any race, there is a private lexicon known only to them and those they associate with.


Ghandara's smile mirrors Mingzhu's, softened by the apologetic dip of her head when a request is made for translation. "By Praxis, I mean the right to rule and the rules by which we do so, the body with which we rule and the means with which we do so. By Elysium, I mean a safe haven for kindred, enforced by one or more of our own. Neutral ground where rival clans and covenants might meet. This Elysium, where we are now, is provided and enforced by the Triumvirate themselves. Primogen is a title given to the representative of a clan, by blood, or covenant, by belief or institution. I represent Clan Nosferatu."


There is a thoughtful nod from Mingzhu as she listens to the explanation, turning away from the painting to head to one of the many sitting areas, settling there to enjoy conversation with the Nosferatu in a more comfortable manner. Her coat is removed as before, folded onto the seat beside her. "Thank you," she replies, filing those terms away for future consideration. "A clan is a family, of sorts? And a covenant, some shared oath?" she gathers. "We have a similar set of terms." Her tone suggests she is offering them to the other woman in trade.


Ghandara drifts along with Mingzhu, settling after the Emissary has, ringed fingers smoothing out the airy silk once she's seated. "Like family, yes," she confirms. "Clans blood, a lineage which can be traced back to a particular progenitor. There are five." She begins with a press of splayed fingertips to her chest, indicating, "The twisted Nosferatu," with understated pride. "The tempting Daeva, the savage Gangrel, the silent Mekhet and the imposing Ventrue. Likewise, there are five primary covenants, organizations to which we devote our energy and attention, which align with our own beliefs and interests. Some may claim membership to more than one, though such divided loyalty seldom serves one well in the longterm."

She pauses for just a moment, sparing a glance toward where Felix speaks with another ghoul on the far side of the room. "I am a longstanding member of the Ordo Dracul, our brightest minds and sharpest scientists. The Invictus are old money and old power. The establishment, as it were. They are numerous in New Orleans, but quiet of late. Their right hand is often the Lancea et Sanctum, our church, not all too different from Catholicism. Those who rely on faith rather than evidence. They are often at odds with the Circle of the Crone whose gods are older, wilder. The Carthian Movement are those who would push for more modern order, changes to tradition, for proper democracy." The flat little 'mm' at the end seems to sum up her thoughts on that. "Each clan and covenant has a seat on the council. No one stands for the covenants at the moment."


Listening attentively, Mingzhu tilts her head slightly at the descriptions of each clan and covenant, looking briefly intrigued, but otherwise aiming to maintain a neutral expression. One might imagine she is furiously writing notes in her mind to keep up and commit to memory these explanations, though she doesn't ask any questions of her guide just yet. Instead, it is time to make good on that implicit deal.

"To explain the structure of my people, it is necessary for you to understand how a person becomes a 'Changeling', or 'Lost'. We were all once human, but stolen away by the True Fae to be their slaves. What we have become is a reflection of the use to which our captors put us, and the skills and traits we developed to serve, endure and escape," she murmurs, beginning with that simple explanation and pausing to see if Ghandara has any questions before she goes into the deeper details.


"We were all human once, too," Ghandara notes with a hint of humor that doesn't dim for the details which follow. Mingzhu's words do generate a hint of concern, though, inspiring the nosferatu to note, "You should be aware that we keep thralls." She nods toward where Felix and the other ghoul are talking, indicatively. "Some come to our service willingly, but that isn't always the case. Some kindred are kinder than others. If this will be problematic for you..."


There is a slight frown on Mingzhu's lips as Ghandara makes reference to some kind of servitude, willing or otherwise. "I see. I cannot say this is a delightful thing to learn, nor would I be truthful if I said it did not concern me. But, my role is to advise on behalf of my people, not to try and instigate societal change." She is clearly conflicted even as she says the words, but then nods slowly. "What is the status of these thralls, in the laws of your people?" she asks then, seeking the full and unvarnished truth so she can try and work around it.


Ghandara considers her words carefully. 'Property' would be the most direct and honest reply, but would it be the most helpful? She spares another look toward Felix as she thinks, as she begins her answer. "They are the responsibility of their regnants." Her hand tips toward Felix before gesturing to herself as she looks back to Mingzhu, denoting the thrall-regnant relationship. "They have no rights or authority of their own, except those granted by their regnant. For example, Felix has the authority of voice and can speak on my behalf. I trust him to know my business and inclinations, and I take full responsibility should he misstep or offend. Likewise, I take responsibility to respond to anyone who might treat him inappropriately. As one might if their family or friend--" Or pet? "--were mistreated."


The grandly-decorated formal Elysium is, for once, not empty. Two women sit at one of the tables; Ghandara, the recently-appointed Nosferatu Primogen, and Mingzhu, the even-more-recently appointed ambassador from the Lost. They are talking quietly, the general atmosphere being one of polite conversation, though perhaps taking a slight turn for the concerned.

There's a moment where Mingzhu presses her lips together, taking a breath and listening to Ghandara's explanation. The silvery light surrounding her darkens, then is doused completely, and a darkness creeps into her otherwise solidly white eyes, like the shadow of the Earth across the Moon. She looks down, clearly struggling with some concept or notion, but when she looks back up, has managed to regain a more neutral expression, even though the darkness remains. "I understand. They are your belongings."


Pan's descent down the staircase is a light jog, accompanied by a quiet whistling to themself. Some half-formed tune that's unrecognizable by just humming and whistling broken pieces of it. It's the feeling of Ghandara's Beast that first alerts them to the library's basement not being empty, and they go quiet to peer around looking for where the vampire is, only to have their mouth quirk half-upward when they see -who- it is. They move to head over when they spot Mingzhu, and draw short. That's...a weird looking lady. That's a -very- weird looking lady. Eventually Pan -does- continue forward. "Madame Primogen. Uh. Ma'am."


Ghandara's lips press into a faint frown at the darkening of the moon-fae's light, her expression more sympathetic than apologetic. She doesn't balk or back down at the conclusion drawn. "I would recommend that you speak with a few before drawing conclusions about what that means, before assuming there is a direct parallel between your own experience and theirs." Gentle advice, delivered with a respectful dip of her head. As Pan approaches, she adopts a small smile which, first, flashes apologetic toward Mingzhu for the divergence of her attention and then turns to her fellow Dragon. "Primogen," she quietly corrects. "Primogen Baak Mingzhu, Changeling Emissary." With a look toward the referenced emissary, she appends, "Should she still wish to hold the position," to provide an exit, should one be desired. "Pan of the Ordo Dracul, skilled instigator."


There is a nod from the Lost, and when Mingzhu speaks it is with a perfectly polite, neutral tone. "Of course. May I have your permission to speak with Felix, then?" she requests, even though it's probably killing her a little bit inside to feel it appropriate to ask the owner's permission to talk to their thrall. She is, after all, trying to play nice, and Ghandara is one of the more civilised vampires she's met.

Then a third person enters the room, and she turns to face Pan, studying them with a thoughtful look and then rising as the Nosferatu introduces her. "Pan of the Ordo Dracul, it is a pleasure," she voices politely, extending one hand for some kind of polite shake. "Forgive me, may I ask what pronouns you prefer?" Given she hasn't a clue which of the many genders Pan ascribes to, and perhaps sensing that this might be on purpose, she comes right out and asks. Better to know than to make a faux-pas, after all. That done, she looks back to Ghandara. "Shall I continue with my explanations?"


"Oh! Oh, hey, uh. So that's--" Pan looks from Ghandara to Mingzhu and back again. "That's why she's in black and white, and I didn't eat somebody who'd taken something I didn't know about? Cool. Cool cool cool cool." The newly arrived vampire moves to pull out another chair, inviting themself to the table by turning it around and sinking down into it backward like the cool dad in an after school special. They drape their arms along the back and rest their chin on those arms. When Mingzhu asks about pronouns, the vampire sits up a bit. Turns to look at Ghandara for a moment, then back to Mingzhu. "God -damn-. Primogen Baak, I -like- you. I spend every night with folks who were born in the 19th century if I'm -lucky-, and may I say, that is a charming question." They push themself back up and lean across the table to offer Mingzhu a hand to shake. "Conquista del Pan, of the Ordo Dracul and the Carthian Movement, which I hear is -coming back into style-, and I prefer they and them, if you please." After that, Pan sinks back down into the chair and seems very willing to shut up and see what Mingzhu's continuing.


That appears to have been the appropriate approach, given how readily Ghandara answers Mingzhu's request with, "You may." Felix, for the moment, continues to keep his distance, though he's since abandoned conversation with the other ghoul to settle into a chair on the far side of the room and watch the exchange with muted concern. He can't see what his regnant sees, but he can recognize tension well enough, and he caught that gesture his direction, reference rather than beckoning. Best to remain attentive and available for the time being. Pan's presence does seem to break some of that tension, adding a brighter energy to a conversation which has taken a darker turn. It's difficult to tell whether or not the nosferatu is grateful for that, though she certainly smiles at the declaration of approval for the newest primogen. With a nod to the fairest, she bids, "Please," to invite the explanations to continue.


"Thank you." Mingzhu nods to Pan's explanation of their pronouns, and then with a polite smile towards Ghandara she says again, "Thank you," for her permission to speak with Felix. With introductions all done, and the matter of thralls having been tabled for now, she nods. She doesn't go back to the beginning for Pan's sake, trusting that they will either gather the context or ask questions.

"So. There are broad categories of us, similar to your clans, though we share experiences rather than blood. We call them Seemings. They are based on the purpose we were made to serve. The charming Fairest, the stealthy Darkling, the raw Elemental, the primal Beast, the mighty Ogre and the clever Wizened." She keeps her descriptions as short as those Ghandara gave. "In parallel with your Covenants we have Courts, based on the seasons. Spring is the court of growth and plenty, Summer that of martial readiness, Autumn the court of the deep and unknown, and Winter the court of secrets and hidden things." She doesn't explicitly state the emotions - that might be giving too much away - but enough to give a flavour. "Thus I might introduce myself as Baak Mingzhu, Fairest of the Winter Court," in a formal setting.


"So you want to go to Spring parties, Summer bar brawls, Autumn study groups, and Winter assassination plannings," Pan theorizes. "And you wanna get drinks with a Fairest, pick pockets with a Darkling, probably bang an Elemental maybe? Hunt with a Beast, arm wrestle an Ogre, and get advice from a Wizened. And you're a get drinks and plot the death of the king sort. That's -cool-." Pan was supposed to be shutting up, but you know. Supposed to and Conquista del Pan. "I've been all over the country and seen folks like you - big horny guys, raccoon folks, like, faerie princesses with wings and shit - all over the country. Mortals never see you. But -never- in New Orleans until I got back from my trip. What's up with that?"


Ghandara might argue with some of Pan's phrasing, with their free use of the word 'want.' There's a very good chance she wouldn't want to do very much of that, but her personal preference doesn't have all that much bearing on the substance of their summations, and so she keeps those thoughts to herself. Whatever follow-up questions she might have for Mingzhu are derailed by Pan's inquiry; it's a curiosity she shares. "You are among the first I've seen of your kind. Certainly the first I've spoken with at any length."


"Maybe. Some of those things I might question; some of the Elementals I know of in this city alone are made of glass and smoke, or fire. Banging might be a tad uncomfortable given you can see /and feel/ their true forms, rather than the human softness of the mask," Mingzhu replies to Pan with a dry note of humour in her voice. As they mention the whole 'not in New Orleans' thing, she simply shrugs. "We don't know yet," she replies simply, then looks across to Ghandara again.

"There are Lost all over the world, but as Conquista del Pan mentioned, not here until very recently. If New Orleans has been where you've spent your life - apologies if life is the wrong term - then no, you wouldn't have encountered us."


"Smoke people sound hot," Pan argues. "Fire, maybe not. I mean obviously hot. But like, -scary- hot. Not like -scary hot-, but like, hot but also frightening." Pan glances over at Ghandara, as if looking for some support on that. They raise their eyebrows at her, like, back me up here. Fire bad, amirite? They clear their throat, a supremely human gesture that to most who'd frequent the Restircted Section of the LCL would give Pan away as -very young-. "Can I ask a question?" This is aimed at Mingzhu, even though Ghandara might be the more appropriate authority figure to ask for permission to ask.


Ghandara doesn't understand Pan well enough to provide the support they're looking for. She's one of those old 19th century sorts, only recently revived from a decades' long torpor and not quite ready yet to track the nuances of modern parlance just yet. When did scary become good? What does that mean for someone like her? Hm. She issues a quiet, "Mm," to acknowledge the absence of answer in Mingzhu's reply. If she has any theories of inquiries of her own, they're shelved for the moment as she looks to Pan, as if her silence might provide the permission she wasn't asked to grant.


Fortunately for Pan, Mingzhu has no idea that human ticks like throat-clearing tend to fade out of the Vampire body-language as they age. It doesn't strike her as at all odd; after all, one presumes they're using the same voicebox as they did when they were alive, and maybe sometimes it needs clearing. "You may ask a question, which I will answer if I can without revealing too much about my own people, if you will agree to the same in return," she murmurs to Pan, a like for like deal.


"Oh, uh. Sure, I will answer if I can answer without breaking any rules that would get me in more trouble than I'm willing to be in. I -am- sitting at a table with two members of the Primogen council, so seriously, I need to watch my mouth." This is Pan watching their mouth. "My question," the vampire starts, "Is -why- you'd volunteer to do this. Sign up to come -here-, of all places. Vampires are -terrible-. There are lots of monsters in the world but we're -monsters-. We eat people, we enslave people, we live forever so we kinda think anyone who doesn't is mostly just a temporary roadbump. What makes somebody with a cool magical society where folks get to be black and white or made of smoke and you've got a whole season for green and growing things come underground into a cave full of bloodsucking monsters?"


Ghandara is awfully good at being still and quiet, at not needing to be the center of attention. Mind, she's not something easily ignored, given her palpable presence, the unsettling weight of her attention, but she is very comfortable playing quiet observer to a conversation which doesn't need her contributions. She grins faintly at Mingzhu's terms, and that humor lingers as Pan lays out the nature of kindred. She objects to very little in that question, in how they portray vampires, but she does note quietly, "It is less that they 'get to be' what they are than that they were 'made to be' this way," which only makes the question all the more interesting, really. Her grin grows by a narrow degree.


"Agreed. I will withhold my question for now," Mingzhu murmurs. Then, the younger Vampire asks their question, and the Telluric goes quiet for a long few moments as she thinks about the response she wants to give, and what her personal reasons -are- for venturing into the mouth of hell. So to speak. "Three reasons. One, I am the best suited of our kind in New Orleans. I am a creature of the night. Not bound to avoid the sun as you are now that I am back on Earth, but I've spent a very long time existing only at night, and I feel a kinship of sorts with those who endure the same." Mingzhu sits back in her seat slightly. "Two, I genuinely believe open communication is the best way to avoid incidents, or to mitigate their impact when they do happen. Whatever we think of you, personally or as a people, we still have to exist in the same world you do."

She takes a breath before point three, the silvery glow around her that had been missing for the last few minutes flickering back into life. "Three, I want to make very sure that both of our peoples are aware of the potential threat they pose to each other. I have no doubt that either of you could end my life in a heartbeat, perhaps before I'm even aware you've moved. By that same token, there are those of my kind who could make you walk into the sun believing it's your own idea. It's a little like the notion of nuclear deterrence."


"Oh, no. I mean, yes. Vampires are strong and fast and tough and all that, but I'm sure you are, too. The -dangerous- part isn't the teeth, though. It's the -tongue-." Pan leans forward into the back of the seat again, watching the moon-changeling with interested eyes. They turn to Ghandara, as if searching the older vampire's face for some kind of more satisfactory answer. They don't seem to find it, despite Ghandara having an interesting face to look at. The Daeva's face screws up, and finally, they shrug. "You have phones? I can give you my number if you want to ask the question some other time. I keep my deals when I make them."


Elysium is not as empty this evening as it has been far too often in recent nights. Not far from the spiral staircase which descends from the library above, a handsome young man in a grey and red suit sits in a relaxed posture which suggests he doesn't work here despite being a ghoul as he watches an interesting trio gathered around a table in conversation. He can't likely hear much from here, but he seems rather interested all the same.

"I'm not certain I'd agree with that assessment," Ghandara notes on the wake of Pan's words, when they look her way in search of... what? She certainly doesn't know what expectation she's meant to meet. Returning her focus to Mingzhu, she allows, "Their classification of us as monsters is accurate. We do aim to play at being civilized, though, and appreciate your interest in engaging in the attempt." Her smile is not particularly reassuring. "I appreciate your intentions, Emissary."


A new face darkens the door, or lights it up, depending on who you ask and what your opinions might be of greeting new vampires is. Madeleine makes her way into the restricted section, as guided by one of the ghouls that works here.

The newly arrived vampire is one of those that plays at being civilized, it seems, her hair smartly styled, her make up painstakingly perfect. There is a deep emerald green pillbox hat jauntily tucked onto her hair with a single peacock feather bobbing in the air, and a emerald green dress that is perfectly pressed worn. A polite, but neutral smile, crosses her lips when she realizes that she's not the only one present, but she does nothing to interupt the conversation that is ongoing.


"We are all playing at the same game," Mingzhu murmurs to Ghandara's comment about being civilised. "Some just play it better than others." There is a nod to Pan, and she tugs from one of her coat pockets a business card to offer over to them. It has her name, email and phone, as well as reference to her mundane job as a financier. "Here. In fact, if there's somewhere I can put this information for everyone to find, that would be good."


"Folks hang stuff up, but anybody who's anybody usually gets letters. I think somebody has ghouls that write them." Pan pushes up and leans forward to reach out to take the card, and holds it in both hands to read. "Baak Mingzhu, okay. Cool. I'm glad I know how to spell that now because I was going to mispell that really badly in my phone if I hadn't seen it written." The card goes tucked away into a pocket, before Pan notices the encroaching beast of the second Daeva. They peer up at the perfect-coifed civilized arrival, stunned for a moment by the arrival of someone in a literal hat with a feather in it. They -stare-. Openly.


"Your contact information was made available when you introduced yourself as Ambassador," Ghandara explains to Mingzhu, though whether that means hung up somewhere or sent in a letter is anybody's guess. Filed away in some ancient rolodex maybe? The exchange of the business card piques her curiosity, earning a note of, "Felix informed me business cards were no longer a thing," certainly his phrasing rather than hers, "when I reopened my shop. You find them useful?" The question is certainly for the fairest, but she lets her attention stray to the stranger in green, red-painted lips issuing a slight smile rendered somewhat more sinister by the unsettling weight of her attention, but she doesn't openly stare.


Unlike Pan.

Maddy stares right back, although it is with some hint of amusement that she stares back for a fraction of a second. But then when she sees an opening she steps through it, offering towards Ghandara, "I think it is that business cards are no longer used as calling cards and that most, average, people do not offer them any longer. But they are still a thing when it comes to certain situations...I believe."


"I work in the same circles as a lot of old men," is Mingzhu's response to the question about her use of business cards, a faintly wry smile tugging at her lips. "Most of the time I am happy to send my details over electronically, but it doesn't work for everyone." Presumably those self-same old men she mentioned. "And I have no idea how many of your folk are happy using technology. I know some of our people who were born only four or five decades ago have trouble with it."

She looks over to Madeleine, considering the woman and then offering a slow, genuine smile. "I love your outfit," she murmurs, always appreciative of a fashion statement. Not that Ghandara's kaftan or Pan's duster aren't lovely, but... there is clothing, and then there is /fashion/.


"I will give you a crowbar, two rolls of duct tape, and a wrist-mounted launcher that throws burning balls of flash paper for your hat," Pan says all in a rush, toward Madeleine, with no further explanation.


Ghandara regards Madeleine curiously, like she might ask after those certain situations, but Mingzhu's answer earns a grin and a wry observation of, "I, too, work in the same circles as a lot of old men." After a beat, she concedes, "Though not in the context of my shop." She opts not to reveal just how far behind she is with technology, how there's a very good chance that if she even has a smart phone of her own, it's probably in Felix's pocket rather than her own. He's the one sending emails on her behalf, to be sure. That comment about the age of some Lost, though, captures her curiosity. Lips part to inquire, even as she looks that fashion over, sparing some attention for that thread of the conversation, when Pan's offer stops her short. They earn an amused--and bemused--look before she collects herself and continues, asking of the fairest, "Do your kind not age?"


"Yours is simply fabulous as well." Maddy offers back to Mingzhu, that smile widening a moment before it just freezes in place and her attention turns towards Pan. There is a flash where it's unclear if she's going to take this in stride, or react badly to it.

In stride seems to win, and she just smiles very politely at Pan, "I'm afraid not...but perhaps we could discuss finding you one of your own?"


"We do. But.. slowly." Mingzhu definitely does not go into those specifics when Ghandara prompts, though she does add, "And sometimes, a person can be taken by the Fae from one point in time, and when they escape back into this world again, it is a very different point in time." So yes, there are reasons why Changelings might be much older than they seem, though again she's not going into detail. She has nothing to say on the topic of Pan and Madeleine's impromptu negotiation, though she doesn't seem at all surprised by it. Such things are far more common around the Lost, where the striking of a good bargain is both an art form and a dangerous skill.

Motioning to the one seat remaining at their table, she invites the newest arrival, "Will you join us?" After all, it's such a pleasant conversation, one that has already touched on slavery, nuclear deterrence and monsters. But, she's here to meet the Kindred, and so she's taking that opportunity.


Madeleine's response has Pan looking -rather- dispirited. "What's the fun in getting my -own- hat?" Surely Pan will not attempt to expropriate Madeleine's hat. That would surely be a breach of Elysium. By how disappointed the Carthian/Dragon hybrid looks, that's occurred to them already. Mingzhu is talking about big important factors of life as a fae-abductee, but Pan's just kind of looking at Madeleine with a combination of jealousy and scowling rivalry. Pan will get you, little green hat with a peacock feather. Pan will -own you-. "Please do," they politely say, echoing Mingzhu's invitation. "May I introduce the Madames Primogen Ghandara Sinclaire of Clan Nosferatu and the Ordo Dracul, and Baak Mingzhu of Fairest Winter." That's probably not the right way to introduce Mingzhu, but Pan does their best. "And I am Conquista del Pan, of the Movement and the Order, and Clan Daeva. At your service." Madeleine's dressed -fancy-. You introduce yourself all nice to fancy-dressed folks. If you want to lull them and steal their hat.


Ghandara's murmur of, "Interesting," in answer to what little Mingzhu shares of the oddities of Lost aging and temporal displacement has a ring of worrying curiosity to it. For a few seconds, she seems lost to that thought, though the sidelong look Pan's dejection earns might suggest otherwise. Briefly, she, too, seems disappointed, but then the daeva sets into introductions, into playing a long game, and all is well again. With a soft if not warm smile for Madeleine, she bows her head in acceptance of the way she's presented, though she gestures aside to Mingzhu to add a point of clarification. "Changeling Emissary, recently invited to the council by the Triumvirate." Curiously, she asks of the daeva in the green dress, "Are you newly arrived to the city or am I belated in making your acquaintance?"


"Lady Madeleine Rapace-Roberts of the First Estate and Clan Daeva." Maddy offers with a smile and a very slight bob that might be her version of a not full curtsey. Fancy she might be, but a full-blown curtsey is odd given the situations.

"Quite the pleasure to meet you all." She then glances at Ghandara, addressing her question first, "We've recently arrived." The matter of the hat, and Pan's potential disappointment is not at all addressed for now, instead she moves to join the group with a nod of thanks.


The silvery glow around Mingzhu flickers a little as she hears Ghandara's curiosity, the Lost perhaps finding that amusing, or alarming, or both. She doesn't correct Pan's introduction of her as Fairest Winter - the terms probably mean little to Madeleine, so she lets it be. "My apologies, Lady Rapace-Roberts; could you clarify 'First Estate' for me?" she requests of the current hat-owner, seeing no reason to hide her lack of knowledge since most would expect her to need a little guidance on Kindred terms now and then.


"The First Estate," Pan notes, toward Mingzhu, not waiting for Madeleine to clarify, "Are the Invictus. Their main function is to--" the Carthian hesitates, obviously suppressing their first, instinctual reply. "Enforce the Masquerade. Make sure nobody finds out that vampires are real. In most cities, you being here would be a -massive- failure for them. But our city is weird." This provokes a further thought, that flashes over Pan's face transparently and then comes out all at once: "Hey, are the Invictus looking into these Vlad the Decapitator killings and who's doing them?"


"Welcome, then," Ghandara bids with a slight widening of her smile. "You'll find us a touch quiet at the moment, but I expect that you might find opportunity in the stillness." She clearly has. "Are we royal or plural?" Which is to say: is there another Roberts or Roberts-adjacent somebody or somebodies? In a quiet aside to Mingzhu, she appends Pan's description of New Orleans as weird with, "It's all I've known, and certainly what I prefer." Normal for her, then. When the hat-envier then asks the newly arrived about the murders, she adds, possibly for both Mingzhu and Madeleine, "Someone's been beheading and exsanguinating people. I advised the one who reported it to me to have the Black Constables look into it, but I will defer to the First Estate, if they've other inclinations."


Since Pan answers, Maddy doesn't, and she doesn't make any corrections to the introduction, either. Instead she looks curious, "Afraid this is the first that I've heard about any beheadings and exsanguinations this decade." But the information is filed away, potentially for further digging into. "Plural. I'm sure that you will all meet him soon. Especially with this...issue going on. I'm sure he'll be decidedly useful." Her tone? She definately seems to be putting her finger into this particular pie to make it the Invictus' clean up.


"Thank you," Mingzhu murmurs to Pan after their explanation of the term, filing that information away. She's going to need some new mental filing cupboards at this rate. But then, her smile returns and she asks of the Carthian, "I think I'll ask that owed question now. What was your first reply going to be?" Because yes, she saw their hesitation. Whether she's aware of the _sizable_ ideological differences between the two covenants is doubtful, except in any very brief introduction Ghandara might've given her.

"Beheadings? Exsanguinations? Sounds grisly," she voices, though doesn't seem to have any information to add. Nor does she offer help - it doesn't particularly seem like a Changeling problem, after all.


Oh, -hmm-. See, there were terms to this deal, and if Pan's going to follow them -accurately- and -honestly-, they have to think about how much trouble they're willing to get in. It takes five, six seconds before Pan says: "The primary purpose of the Invictus is to maintain hierarchy. At all costs. Was going to be my first answer. You'll find that members of my Movement and members of Ms. Rapace-Roberts often disagree very strongly on political matters. Given the fact that the leader of my Movement - and her eldest childe - were recently executed...by decapitation...by the leader of Ms. Rapace-Roberts' Covenant, however, I...rephrased my first answer. To something just as accurate but perhaps less likely to get me decapitated. But since Ms. Rapace-Roberts is new, it is unlikely she has the pull to have someone decapitated, so far as I know, so. It is likely an amount of irritation I'm willing to cause her to answer your question, if that's satisfactory."


"You'll want to speak with Inquisitor Nicolo de Vercelis," Ghandara advises Madeleine when it seems there's interest in the suspicious murders. "He has more information and a contact on the police force." If there was anything else to offer on that point, it is shoved neatly aside to instead observe the second half of an exchange she's already partly witnessed. This side of the arrangment is proving vastly more entertaining. And, in its own way, equally as informative. Her dark-eyed attention settls on Pan, her head slightly canted as she waits for them to formulate their response. When they begin to speak, her curiosity turns, instead, to the Invictus in the room to watch how the description, and the logic, is received.


Manners and politeness are the cornerstone of every baby Invictus' training, and Maddy learned well. She doesn't object to Pan's description, just smiling faintly before she informs Mingzhu, "Generally, we do not decapitate people without just cause. But there has been times where rebellions happen, and if such happens, the issues are corrected."

As much as possible. Then she nods to Ghandara, "Thank you, I shall."


"Thank you, Conquista del Pan." Mingzhu's gratitude is polite but also genuine, the Changeling tilting her head in acknowledgement of their part of that deal upheld. Her all-white eyes then trace across to Madeleine. "Rebellions?" she enquires, glancing briefly to Ghandara to see her response to that statement, then back to Pan as well, before focusing again on the Invictus. "My apologies if the question is rude."


"The Carthian Movement believes that vampiric society is...in stasis. That since we tend to become settled in our ways as we age, and that since we tend to be ruled by a tyranny of the elderly," Surely the use of 'elderly' instead of 'elders' was an accident. Conquista del Pan would never refer to elders as the elderly on purpose. In front of an Invictus. Surely. "that our society...is imperfect, and could be improved by reading, absorbing, and internalizing the work of mortal political scientists. There are fascist Carthians, and liberal Carthians, and some truly -deranged- Carthians, but the traditional, -stereotypical- Carthian often embraces a revolutionary, anarchist zeal." Pan once again clears their throat, and adds: "Sometimes -talking- about freedom is enough to be seen as revolution, for leadership who grew up on stories of ancient Roman empires, even if they didn't see them firsthand. Sometimes killing a political enemy is more important than finding a murderer. Sometimes sowing so much fear that no one else is willing to so much as entertain the idea of reform is conveniently achieved when four members of the Primogen council are murdered, and another is arbitrarily chosen as the killer." Bitter? The -Carthian-? Never.


Elysium is neither empty nor quiet this evening. A trio of vampires and one individual who is very clearly neither a vampire nor a ghoul are situated around a table off to one side of the large room holding a conversation which at least one of the kindred is rather passionate about. Nearer the stairs, an attractive ghoul in a grey and red suit has moved on from watching with some degree of concern, back to attending to business on his phone while he waits for his regnant.

Ghandara can't help but grin just a little at Madeleine's phrasing, about issues being corrected. When Mingzhu looks her way, that humor holds, but it's not quite the same as picking a side or having an opinion beyond enjoying the entertainment. And, really, Pan is putting on a show. At its conclusion, her only note is to observe, "Her position remains vacant," in a gently encouraging tone.


Aurelie sought out the library, drifting down the stairs -- slinking quietly with her head lowered. The copperhaired Gangrel hums sweetly to herself, hand wandering over the banister -- nails first, dragging as she holds her shiny, brand new iPhone up in front of her face. Her expression glows with the light from it, thumb sliding as she devours whatever information she is seeing on the screen. She keeps one eye on her feet ever so often, nimble enough that she avoids tripping over her own feet. She's wearing a Queen tshirt from when they were still performing together as a band and a pair of ripped, black leggings with stompy, 10 eye Doc Martens. She can hear voices which is pleasant, her eyes narrowing -- head tilting a little as she hears other Vampires talking for the first time in forty years. She reaches the bottom of the stairs, finally locking her tiny Wikipedia machine with a little shake of her head as she finishes tripping through time. Tucking the phone away, she approaches the group.


"Yes. Rebellions. They happen, people don't like the rules, they get bored, they go insane. Various reasons for a rebellion to take place, and I'm sure that our friend here is far more of an expert on them than I am." Maddy offers to Mingzhu, that smile staying in place although there is a distinct lack of actual amusement in her eyes. "But it should be noted that the ancient Roman's don't have the market cornered on revolutions, and a toppling of those in power. However, I disagree that killing a political enemy is more important than finding a murderer, and the best way to curb the bloodthirsty cries for off with her head, is to be open to worthwhile reform made in logical, practical manners."


Having inadvertently (maybe? Maybe purposely?) started this pebble skipping down the side of the political mountain, now picking up speed and mass as Pan adds the weight of their convictions, Mingzhu is taking the opportunity to sit back and listen to the avalanche. Learning a little about some of the politics that the people she is going to be working alongside espouse. Though alas, she has neither popcorn nor a glass of wine to enjoy the dialogue with - one of the downsides to Kindred hospitality, given she doesn't find the idea of drinking blood at all appealing.


Whoever takes that spot would have to be willing to literally get their head cut off the next time a few Primogen get killed, and assassination attempts happen -constantly-. For -incremental reform-, which is the rallying cry of tyrants to appease the masses." See, in a -human- society, fifty peasants can usually beat a single king to death, but in -vampiric- society...? Not always. Still, Pan gives Madeleine a -look-, for a good four, five seconds before looking away. "Ms. Rapace-Roberts, I don't blame you for deaths that happened before you arrived in the city. I hope you will accept my apologies for any offense caused. Vivienne was an important figure in the city. Losing her has been a...blow to the Movement. Whoever replaces her will have difficult shoes to fill." Aurelie's arrived at a bad time to really grab Pan's attention, but -eventually- a redhead in a Queen shirt shall surely manage it.


"Each of us who steps up, particularly now, must be willing to take that risk," Ghandara points out to Pan after listening to the exchange. "Perhaps an instigator like yourself, one prone to such honesty, might have more to fear, but I am far more likely to back the bid of one who speaks their mind than any timid little thing that might be inclined to play nice and work toward that incrimental change." She dips her head toward Madeleine to offer, "No disrespect meant, Lady Rapace-Roberts," before looking back to the Carthian again. "Even the smallest change requires agitation." And she certainly enjoys the entertainment.

Ghandara's gaze does flicker, belatedly, to Aurelie, a dip of a nod offered to the unfamiliar gangrel dressed more casually than most at the table.


Aurelie slides her phone into the pocket in her leggings that is formed flush with her outer thigh -- she grins a little bit at the new technology, having discovered the revolutions in legging technology. Aurelie is so pleased by it that it distracts her for a few seconds while she toys around with the pocket and then finally leaves her phone in it and straightens to look at the group. The pale Gangrel draws a breath she doesn't need through her nose, scenting the air around her like someone standing on a front porch of a cabin in fresh mountain air. She narrows her eyes then, not unkindly -- she's just curious, like she can't get enough of their details. The dreams had been so red. "It is so nice to see everyone engaged in some polite yet firm and principled political banter," Aurelie says, her eyes are drawn to Mingzhu but then she looks away quickly, not wanting to be rude. "Aurelie Fontenot. I just woke up and I thought I'd come visit and see what was afoot. Sounds like murder."


If ever there was a chance Pan might get her hat, it's probably gone now. But Madeleine is gracious, polite, well spoken, and she doesn't do much beyond smile at Pan and incline her head. Perhaps that is an acceptance of the apology, perhaps not. But she doesn't comment to either of the others, instead she glances towards Aurelie when she arrives, "Previously committed murder."


"There is, to be fair, quite a bit of -ongoing- murder, as well. Ms. Fontenot, may I introduce," Pan begins, taking it upon themselves to introduce the others again, "Madame Primogen Ghandara Sinclair of Clan Nosferatu, a Dragon of the Order, and Lady Rapace-Roberts, of the First Estate and Clan Daeva. I am Conquista del Pan, of the Movement and the Order myself, and, as I'm sure is -absolutely- clear from my charming and inoffensive demeanor, a Daeva as well. Please, sit. I love your shirt. If I offered you a crowbar--no, I couldn't handle the rejection twice in a night." Pan grins toothily at Aurelie, and settles back down to drape arms over the back of their backward-turned chair and to settle their chin onto those arms.


Ghandara's eyes narrow faintly at Pan when they take the arrival of another and the opportunity to issue introductions as a means of dodging her further urging. She might be inclined to argue that skillful evasion is also a good political tool, but she doesn't. She lets the topic drop as she turns a smile toward Aurelie. "Sister Fontenot," has a ring of familiarity which is confirmed with, "It's been some time." Her gaze strays toward the stairs where her well-dressed ghoul has risen to his feet and turned his attention her way. He taps at his wrist in a fairly universal gesture indicating something time sensitive, a pending appointment, but she only nods, not moving to depart quite yet.


"Ah, yes! I am an Acolyte and a Gangrel, pleased to meet all of you. Thank you for the introductions, Conquista del Pan." There isn't a sliver of recognition there -- she just watches each as they're introduced, smiling faintly before she looks over toward Ghandara. "Madame Primogen, my sincerest apologies but it seems that I have lost your fabulous acquaintance thanks to my little memory problem, but I am very happy to see you again." Aurelie is so earnest, her expression faltering with a split second of worry that is quickly covered by a smile for Pan. "Now you cannot offer a lady a crowbar and then not follow through." Aurelie comes to sit on a chair, crossing her legs primly yet somehow she's still got a bit of a languid slouch. "Was it you who rejected their crowbar?" Wonders Aurelie of Madeleine playfully, skipping completely over the whole murder thing.


"I was." Maddy replies, lifting a hand upwards to gesture towards her emerald green pillbox hat with the peacock feather. "They wanted my hat, but I had to decline because it goes with my dress. What would I do with a dress that didn't have a hat?" She drops her hand once more, glancing towards Pan, "I offered to get them their own, but they declined."


"I was." Maddy replies, lifting a hand upwards to gesture towards her emerald green pillbox hat with the peacock feather. "They wanted my hat, but I had to decline because it goes with my dress. What would I do with a dress that didn't have a hat?" She drops her hand once more, glancing towards Pan, "I offered to get them their own, but they declined."


"-Again-, to be fair, if you could get me one of my own, you -could- have replaced yours," Pan counters. It's flawless logic. Why -wouldn't- Madeleine give Pan her hat. It would have been weird for Pan -not- to offer barter for the hat at this point. There's an instinct glance aside at the risen ghoul and his wrist-tapping, and the Carthian asks: "Are you about to leave us, Madame Primogen? Your associate seems eager to remind you of the hour."


Ghandara lifts a hand to her dark hair to feel where a fascinator or hat might rest only to find none. It would seem she's forgotten hers. It's not likely the cause of her departure, given that sign she caught from her ghoul a moment ago, but the faint frown she adopts briefly attempts to tell that narrative. Until Pan calls her out. "I am," she tells them. "I hadn't realized the hour had grown quite so late, and I do have another appointment this evening." With a sympathetic smile for Aurelie, she murmurs, "I do hope your memory clears as you get more nights behind you. It is good to see you returned to us." She leaves off that she's only been awake from her own long stretch of torpor for a few months. With a dip of her head to Madeleine, she says, "I believe you're in the right with regards to your hat, Lady Rapace-Roberts. The price named did not fit the prize." Then, last, with a smile to Pan, she tells them, "But it seems you've found a more suitable target. I do hope to see someone with your passion in that empty seat soon." To all, she bids, "It's been lovely," then starts off toward the stairs, the pale, patterned silk of her kaftan fluttering delicately with her steps.