Logs:Service to the Praxis

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Service to the Praxis

Characters: Hedda, Perperna, Muse and Nikola (Band of Savages)
Date: 2020-07-04
Summary: A new face causes a stir in Elysium.

Speakeasy Elysium - The Regas - New Aurora

The most immediately noticeable thing is that it has a gentle downwards slope, beginning high at its entrances and gently sloping towards a central theater stage on the far side. The stage has tastefully bright golden curtains with red frills in an antique style spreading over it, though it is fully loaded with all the modern amenities of stagecraft. Small squarish sitting areas are filled with comfortable chairs and small circular tables throughout the place: the walls are covered in artworks from the 19th and 20th centuries, depicting French, German, and local Louisianan painters and artists.

This room is kept quiet most of the time, a gentle hush that can be pleasantly broken with conversation. The noise of the rest of the ship is entirely absent here: the sound-proofing drowns out even the hum of the engines or the sloshing of the water on the hull. Amenities can be ordered, but delivery uses a mechanized service and a pickup at the far wall. No live wait-staff are permitted to enter, whatsoever. Accorded folks (or just Vampires, depending on the occasion) are the only ones allowed in. This room can comfortably seat 100 people, all with a central view of the stage and strong acoustics.

A small, fancy metal plaque sits at the entrance, with an eye-grabbing title: "The Rules," in bright and vivid red against a dark bronze background.

Fourth of July on the Regas -- and it has been quite a party. The decks have been absolutely slammed with mortals, come to enjoy the festivities and the firework show. An impressive display -- the Band of Savages sprang for a real pyrotechnician, live music, a laser show off the bow. Small children were still seen being carried off the steamboat just a few hours ago. But now, in the wee hours, things are beginning to die down. Out in the Dome of Sins, the crowds have diminished to the late-night alcoholics and serious gamblers. Poker games have begun, the sort where entire mortgages are laid out and wagered upon. Cocktail waitresses have switched to the late night crew, tired-eyed and worn down. And here, within the Elysium, a string quartet sits atop the stage. They're playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor -- a bit on the nose, but the Captain of the Regas seems to appreciate the irony.

Nikola himself is settled at the corner of the bar. The Captain of the Regas -- and newly-fledged Sheriff of the Praxis -- is dressed in a rather plain, black, slim-cut suit with a white pocket square and knit-silk tie of cobalt blue. He is cradling a glass of chilled blood in his hand, watching the room with a keen, amused, gaze.

Ah, yes. The birthday of a nation barely out of its diapers, which is naturally celebrated with large gatherings of drunken fools and glittery explosives cast up into the sky sending dogs and Kindred flinching and howling at the sound. One such Kindred is Marcus T. Perperna, bonvivant and man-about-to-frenzy. The relatively tall man, dressed this evening in a simple red button-down shirt (with rolled sleeves) and black slacks, has made his way into the den of depravity that is Wherever Nikola Is.

Clutched in Perperna's right hand is a small wrapped parcel that is all-but-tossed in Nikola's direction as the former makes his way into the presence of the latter. "Got you a present, Nottingham." The beast does its thing, but Perperna mostly ignores it as he meanders into, and around, the 'Elysium', "Just don't ask where I got it."

Riverboat casino's kind of require a neater appearance. Much to the dismay of the Circular Valkyrja that's known as Hedda Bjornsdottir who can and regular rocks more mundane cowgirl styled attire, has had to instead bust out the heavy artillery for the night. The Little Black Dress. Spaghetti straps, a neckline just lowe enough to show and squish cleavage with minimal danger of popping free. A hemline just lower enough to keep very toned and thick thighs visible and flexing as she walks in red stilleto heeled pumps that might have cost more that they really should. Bottle blonde hair flowiing down her back while eyes roam the floor of the Elysium. Along with the outfit she lets her own Beast walk along with her but keeps her mouth closed for the moment. She's still fairly new to the Praxis after all.

Comfortably present and accounted for, a svelte brunette figure is perched on one of the tall barstools beside the Sheriff, her heavy boots swinging gently to and fro. Muse's attention seems largely taken, for the moment, with a book. Nothing exactly high brow, though. It's a hardcover, laid out on the bartop, the pages revealing colorful panels. Anyone here have a keen eye for comics? No? Illumination, fortunately, comes in the Mekhet's reading aloud to her companion, flipping the tome closed to regard the rear cover. "Midnight Radio: 15 fantasy, sci-fi, and horror comics exploring what it means to be human..." Is she impressed? Difficult to say. Sweeping back the veil of her chestnut mane where it's fallen forward to partially obscure her pale, delicate features; raising her green-gold eyes to Niko with the ghost of a smile tugging at one corner of her lips. "..not exactly a manual. But the artwork's kinda appealin'."

The Harpy's soft spoken voice is richly laced with a Southern accent that's somehow perfectly in keeping with her appearance. Yes, even in that outfit. The combat boots are paired with a simple slip dress of midnight blue, but she may as well be flouncing about with a gown and fan, if one were to judge her by carriage and presence alone. While her attention does drift, intermittently, toward the quartet, she doesn't seem to be paying the music much mind.. in fact, the Shadow's vaguely leonine Beast might be described tonight as 'restless'; pacing back and forth beyond intangible, otherworldly bars beneath the elegant facade.

Still. It brightens somewhat as distraction arrives in the form of Perperna. Affording the Daeva a slow curve of her lips in greeting, pivoting a little to better face him as he approaches. The shift allows her to note an unfamiliar face arriving shortly after, her gaze lingering unabashedly on Hedda over Marcus' well-tailored shoulder for a long moment before returning to the handsome pair in her immediate vicinity. And the most pressing of questions. "Where'd you get it?" There's a glimpse of white teeth in a half-smile as she teases. Promptly. She can't help her contrary nature.

"True love," Nikola drawls in response to Perperna as the package is nimbly snagged from the other Vampire. His own Beast is awake, aware -- even moreso than usual, in fact, metaphorically pacing like a caged animal, hungry and wanting. There is something dark and glittering behind the Ventrue's eyes as he weighs the package in his hand, turning it over and over. "Smaller than a breadbox," he murmurs. His voice -- faintly traced through with an Eastern accent -- carries with it a perpetual drawl of amusement. "Thank you, Court Jester." Ah, well -- if Nikola is Nottingham (or Rottingham, as the occasion permits) then what does that make a Talon of the Harpy? "Should I be buying you a belled hat?"

When Muse looks up from her comic book and speaks, Nikola leans aside slightly to look down at the page. "It's all about 'wanting', darling. It's about yearning to belong. Look. She sends calls out into the night... lonesome... waiting for an answer." He lays a hand lightly on Muse's shoulder for a moment, gives it a light squeeze as she questions Perperna. His attention returns to the ancient Daeva, brows rising in subtle amusement. "I didn't ask," he says, laying one elbow back onto the bar.

As he watches Perperna, the Amazonian blonde in her black dress -- quite classy, pefect to the occasion -- catches his attention. Nikola lifts a hand, beckoning her over. A new face, and after all, it has become his job to learn the faces of his fellow Kindred. Faces, mannerisms, secret killing grounds, piccadillos. He glances aside at Muse for a moment, then lifts the present and begins to unwrap it. A round badge, complete with a star, and the words Sheriff -- Praxis of New Orleans, is exposed. Nikola whistles softly.

"Thank you, Marcus." The words are soft, apparently sincere. He unbuttons his coat, pins the badge over his long-still heart. "I love it."

"I actually was a court jester," Perperna muses as he takes his place leaning on the bar with a lazy elbow, "For a time. Really helped that I couldn't be killed by poisoned wine." A glance is finally cast to the new face in the room, Hedda. His cold, dead eyes sway back and forth over her in his typical analytical style, filing it all away for later. He doesn't say anything, opting instead to unashamedly stare until Muse distracts him with her query, and her perving. Daeva's gonna Daev.

"You can just... buy them. Actual police badges and everything." He shakes his head slowly and furrows a brow, "And it's advertised! Who thinks 'police badge' as an impulse purchase? And why can any schmuck just walk in and buy one?" He does give a sidelong wink to Muse before his ancient gaze shifts along to Nikola to gauge his reaction.

With a small nod, apparently similarly sincere and weirdly modest about it, Perperna smiles, "Just a little something to remind you." He grins slightly though and leans forward, "And now you have something to slam down on a table when you resign in protest."

The greeting and mention of title gets a smile out of the muscled woman. "Charmed Sherrif. Hedda Bjornsdottir." Kind of odd for someone looking rather Latina to have a Scandinavian name but weirder things have occured.

"Haven't seen a badge like that in a real long time. But that was more a Marshall's badge. Proper Sherrifs should always wear a star I reckon." there's even a little hint of a drawl in her accent. "But, sometimes. It's more official to just break someone's nose when they decide the badge carries no weight. They learn fast after that." she points out.

"Ohh..." The explanation in regard to her 'human manual' clears Muse's expression, those dark eyes wandering back down as she flips the book over and considers the artwork on the cover, fingertips drifting along the lines and shading as if seeing them in an altogether different light. There's a twitch of her lips in a near smile as the weight of Niko's hand settles upon her narrow shoulder, though the sidelong glance that follows might be ever so slightly sardonic. The Pirate Lord simply doesn't do comforting, and anyone who tells you otherwise.. well, it's already too late for them. The Shadow, of course, is perfectly aware. How fortuitous that they should be coterie-mates. He probably won't bring her to harm and she maybe won't remove his fingers for touching her. Not tonight, anyway.

That feline curiosity has the brunette tilting her head, leaning inward slightly as the 'gift' is unwrapped. She doesn't smell blood on it.. so how exciting can it be, really? Oh, but it's shiny.. "How thoughtful." Muse's approval of the badge seems, likewise, perfectly genuine as she addresses Perperna, her eyes raised toward him once again and accompanied by a less troublesome smile this time. Catching that wink, she chuckles quietly, low in her throat. "..as if he required further impetus to slam things on tables.." Beyond this, however, the Harpy falls quiet, reaching for her own glass - which had apparently been previously abandoned in favor of 'reading' - and settling to consider the blonde whom her companion has beckoned. Dangling her drink between thumb and forefinger, swirling the contents gently, she offers a perfectly pleasant introduction. "Miss Bjornsdottir... welcome to the Regas." There's no hand offered to accompany the greeting, but she does smile languidly. "Muse Thoreau." Hey, weird name contest! What's the prize? Does it have a star on it?

"Am I now obligated," wonders Nikola aloud, "to shout I'm too old for this shit every time some new pup of a homeless Gangrel begins to mouth off at me?" He smiles at Perperna, all teeth and sharp amusement. "Court jester -- was that before or after I sold you to be human furniture for a few decades, in Constantinople?" Ancient history, this -- or at least, the long-dead name for a still-thriving city. He raises his glass to his lips, takes a sip, glances down at it and sighs. "Just not the same, cold."

Speaking of cold -- there is a detached, objective, look in his eyes as he watches Hedda. "Nikola Senjan," he says. His tone is perfectly friendly, smile still in place, but the bearded steamboat-captain-cum-Sheriff is sizing her up as though she were beneath a microscope. Weighed, measured. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Hedda." Leave the formalities to his charming Coterie-mate. Nikola, it appears, assumes familiarity from the first.

Looking aside at Muse with a broader, less devilish, smile, he meets her slightly-knowing gaze. "Things, people. If I truly must resign in protest, I like to think that I would be slamming more than just this badge. Besides..." A hesitation, and he reaches within his coat, touching the badge lightly with a fingertip. "I may well have this encased in perspex, Perperna, if it wouldn't offend you. Keep it in my quarters. It is... a very thoughtful gift. I'd not risk damaging it by slamming it around." Attention returning to Hedda, he offers a hand out to her. "Now. Miss Bjornsdottir, indulge my curiosity -- you do not look, nor sound, Nordic. May I assume that you were Embraced in the American West, sometime around the Great Land Rush?"

"This one is better," Perperna says with a slightly miffed expression, "Because it's a Ranger badge. Given our Reeve's breadth of authority, exceptional capacity in a crisis, and inability to find any fucks to give... Ranger." He nods sagely, as if what he said made a lick of sense. The elder ceases in his prattle as he runs his eyes over Hedda again, as if trying to bore into whatever passes for a soul within there.

"I think you should also point out how many days left until your retirement. Which, I estimate, is roughly negative a few thousand." His eyes don't leave his fellow Daeva though he continues conversation with the others, "I was... no, before that. I'm fairly sure. Thirteen hundreds or so. I needed a bit of a nap after all that viking killing."

Perperna's glance shifts from Hedda and flicks towards the badge on Nikola's chest, "If you like. It's steel with a nickel and gold um... I don't know the term. When they use electricity to put metals on metals. That. So it should be rather resilient. I figured if you were to wear it, it should be able to take a beating."

"Good ear Sherrif!" Hedda says with a smile and a nod. "Definitely west. Eighteen eighties. Though I was mortal a couple decades prior. Lots of land rush happening. And sometimes love makes for curious combinations." she states cheerfully. "Got the name and the build from Papi. Everything else mortal I got from dear Mama." she explains.

Perperna's comments about the badge get a nod in agreement and a point well made gesture with her index finger. "They make them hard enough to resist bullets. Badges gotta be tough like the rangers wearing them." she adds. It's killing viking's that get more playful grin. "I'm sure it was tiresome. Repetition usually is." surprisingly there doesn't seem to be so much as a hint of venim in that comment. "Thankfully the vikings sold out when legit mercantile and being a legit bunch of nations was more profitable."

"He'd make a darlin' fainting couch.." opines the slender brunette in an aside, shifting her weight subtly atop the barstool and crossing her legs comfortably at the knee; one heavy booted foot dangling. "..or a hatstand, perhaps.." A strange thing to be pondering. But that's rather her raison d'etre, whether one knows it or not. "So long as it's not a table." Anyway. The listing of Niko's questionable qualities elicits another hushed chuckle from Muse, though she hides her grin behind the rim of her glass as she raises it for a sip. It's palatable.. but the soft 'mm' of assent toward her coterie-mate implies her agreement; it's always better warm. "Did you wear those shoes with the bells on..?" The enquiry is made of Perperna out of the blue, as if the mental image had only now come to her. The notion of his slaughtering Vikings doesn't seem to perturb her overmuch - he'd no doubt pull off the sanguine warrior look as well as the twinkle-toed skipping about. Or a combination of the two. Style is often merely a matter of artful combination.

As the conversation drifts on, apparently, Muse returns her green eyes to the blonde, falling quiet. With her greeting overlooked in favor of inane chatter, the Harpy lapses into a contemplative reverie. The expression 'taking notes with one's eyes' is certainly applicable.. though the ghost of amusement does linger in her expression. For now.

Nikola reaches over to Perperna, laying a hand lightly on his forearm, giving it a squeeze before withdrawing. The gesture is... genuinely fond, as is the smile he gives the other ancient creature. "You do me too much credit," he says mildly, speaking to the litany of what passes for praise from the long-suffering Roman. "But yes. If you like, you may address me as Ranger Senjan, from now on. And I shall keep this pinned close to my heart. I had no idea it was so sturdy." At the confirmation from Hedda, Nikola makes a soft 'ahhh' noise, clicking his tongue. "I see."

He turns aside to Muse, clearly intending to draw her back into the conversation, laying his hand lightly on her forearm in turn. "I do not believe that you have reached this portion of American history yet, apart from that terrible movie with Tom Cruise. Far and Away? You see, the Swedes and Norwegians were duped into moving to the Oklahoma territory. Poor souls were told it was as warm as Florida." A flash of sharp teeth as he looks back to Hedda. "Were your parents some of the luckier ones? I read many ended up living in caves they carved out of hills, to make it through the winter."

"Vikings sold out when they became French," Perp says with a shrug, "Or worse. Danish." He apparently swiftly ends that particular line of conversation, given who his people sold out to be, and shifts his ever-dancing attention towards Muse, "I was a... Turkish Ottoman. Because I've always adored tautology. As for the shoes..." he glances down at his feet with a narrow gaze, as if trying to remember, "The exceptionally-long toed shoe was coming in about that time. I don't recall if I had bells on, though. Probably, if it was funny. Though they'd have rusted quickly, so probably not for daily wear." He pauses and straightens, tilting his head back in reminiscence, "Though the seventeenth was good for shoes. Heeled court slippers, yes." He nods again, slowly, "There's just something wonderful about making clicky-clacky noises when you walk in the halls of power. As if the air echoes at your command."

It takes a moment before it registers in his mind, but the dumbwaiter has arrived, and with it his pre-ordered beverage. Clearly the bar is still somewhat busy, as it has taken at least fifteen minutes for his wine to arrive. Of note is the fact that the glass is only half filled... but this is remedied when a swift bite to his wrist is performed and a half-glass of vitae is coaxed to fill the glass. Lick, smooch, sealed and the glass is now held aloft and Perperna slowly swishes it in his hand, both to keep the blood warm and to mix it well with the fortified wine. He returns to the conversation just in time to be affectionately petted, like a cat, by the Pirate Ranger. He says little, but offers a small nod at the gesture and the following comments - apparently taking his cue from Muse's more refined and deceptively sedate state.

"Papi, decided Texas or possibly Mexico was a lot warmer. Deserts instead of coldere climes." Hedda explains. "Slightly less chance of being shot in the eighteen sixties. Alamo was still pretty fresh then by about thirty years. But settling down with a nice local girl on the border and not being hostile goes a long way." she adds with a smile over at the other woman. Quite friendly an expression too for the harpy.

"Well that was pretty much the how. I think. My knowledge of history doesn't go back further than what documentaries they played on TV. I'd have guessed they'd become English. But fairly certain all the nobility in Europe was exceedingly close." she adds with a well toned shrug of her shoulders. "By our stanards. I'm still fairly late to the party. But like any Daeva we do know how to be fashionably late. Westerns are a popular genre after all.

Briefly, though pointedly, Muse casts a glance downward to her own choice of footwear, only to flit an upward glance to Marcus through her lashes, grinning slightly. There's nothing dainty about those boots.. no clicky-clacky noises 'afoot'. Would the air yet echo at her command?

Perhaps. If only because one of her coterie-mates might threaten it from beyond her shoulder, otherwise.

Leaving the Daeva to his ministrations, following her wordless appreciation of his answering humor, the brunette shakes back her silky tresses and straightens elegantly once more where she sits; swiping a lingering trace of crimson from her upper lip with the tip of her tongue as she sets her glass down.. and permits Niko to lay his hand upon her forearm, resting her elbow on the edge of the polished bar and meeting the Ventrue's gaze serenely. "I don't think I made it to the end of that one.." she reminds him, in regard to the dreadful movie depicting the period in question. "Though I do recall bein' thankful, moreso than usual, for the house. I'm not made for livin' in caves. Perhaps my ancestors gave more thought to important little details, hm?" Affording Hedda a benign smile in kind, she listens thoughtfully to the out loud theories about Vikings, seeming to sympathise on some level for the lack of historical knowledge. At least there's a gentle "Bless your heart." offered in what might be understanding. She, herself, has relied heavily upon streaming services, in reacquainting herself with the waking world.

"You? A lover of tautologies and circular logic? Marcus Perperna, I am shocked. Appalled. I am titillated. I am positively scandalized." Nikola holds a hand to his throat in a classic 'clutching my pearls' gesture, and tosses back the remains of his Vitae-fortified wine in a single over-large swallow. His nose wrinkles subtly, but he lays it aside. "You would have loved the French fashions, though, I imagine. My personal favorite French time period, however, remain the 1790s. Ah, the Reign of Terror." A sigh -- clearly a put-on, as no one in this group actually needs to breathe -- and he loewrs his hand.

Glancing between the quieting Talon and his dreamy-eyed Harpy, Nikola's smile turns sharp once again. He looks down at Muse's heavy boots himself, perhaps imagining -- or recalling -- a stomp from that heel. Then again, the diminutive woman needn't utilize steel toes and cleated heels at all, when she has other weapons at her disposal. As Muse offers her saccharine comfort to Hedda, Nikola looks back at the statuesque blonde, measuring her once again with his eyes. "You're very welcome here aboard the Regas, late or no. Have you given thought to how you'll spend your time here in the Praxis of New Orleans?" Is this the equivalent of a Western sheriff sidling up to the strange gunman at the bar and asking their plans?

"At least I'm a fan of some kind of logic," Perperna says with a gentle pat to Nikola's shoulder. "Unlike," he turns to face Hedda head on, for the first time, "Our new arrival." He offers a broad grin, much like the kind from a shark - all teeth, dead behind the eyes. "I am sure that you meant nothing by it," he says without so much as a quiver of voice to indicate sincerity, "But I am going to offer a rare piece of charity." He clears his throat and downs his wine-blood mix in one... given how strong the fortified wine is, that was probably a dumb choice.

He strolls towards Muse, taking the scenic route around Hedda to stand beside the Harpy. "Now, pay close attention. This might just save your unlife in the future." He stands straight and tall and gestures, with outstretched hand, toward the seated Shadow. "May I present Her Elegance, Muse Thoreau. Harpy of the Praxis of New Orleans, and Co-Keeper of the Elysium in which you stand." He pauses and offers another grin, "It is, at this point, polite to offer a small bow, a curtsey, or a receptive hand *towards* our Harpy. State your name, thank her for welcoming you into her domain, and engage in polite but meaningless conversation." The Elder's grin slips to a smaller, but somehow more... menacing style, "And I advise you do so. Now."

More smirks from the blonde. Muse's boots earn an appreciative nod of Hedda's head. A good set of boots or fifty should be in every girl's posession. The red heels the Acolyte wears probably wouldn't survive moving at any pace faster than a casual sway. let alone at celerity.

"Well Sheriff. Aside from keeping an eye on my fellow Acolytes." Yep, Hedda be a crone shaped like a maiden.

"Back west I usually earned my keep rustlin' and trussin up folks breaking the law. Human usually but a Praxis usually has more than a few things need investigating to keep our peace." she answers.

When Perperna points out another position filled and present, the daeva woman turns her attention to Muse. "Speaking of keeping the peace and putting a face to a title." There is that small curtsey, the dress really only allows so much movement and decency. "Hedda Carmen Bjornsdottir. Its a pleasure to enjoy your hospitality. Please forgive the lack of attention. Talk of law enforcement and somewhat loosely linked history can be distracting when you do not yet know everything and everyone." nothing but respect in her tone and smile.

The banter between Niko and Marcus ensures that an expression of vague amusement remains upon Muse's delicate features, though she doesn't interject. There's no need. The easy camraderie is delightful without further assistance. Besides, the Daeva will no doubt adore the implication of being so utterly scandalous. Reaching for her glass, the brunette seems content enough to let the conversation flow over her for the moment, taking another dainty sip of her laced wine. It's hard to imagine the Shadow being the curb-stomping sort, despite the coterie being so unabashedly Carthian. But clearly something keeps her within the ranks. Is it nothing more than a talent for being unobtrusive? That, in itself, can be invaluable.. particularly for a Harpy.

But then.. she's not exactly designed to be overlooked, either. She doesn't 'inflict' her presence, and often can be found wreathed in the darkness she inhabits.. but there's a quiet glamour and wildness beneath the eclectic surface that one might not notice at a mere glance.

Up and aside go dark-lashed eyes as Perperna strolls to her other side, effectively flanking her opposite Niko himself. And it's with a simple upward twitch of one brow that she conveys mild surprise as he introduces her more formally to the newcomer. Damn, those Vikings must have shaken in their animal-hide boots. Her free hand rises, unhurriedly, to settle lightly at his upper arm, drifting downward in a barely tangible caress of that rolled sleeve. A token of approval. Muse rarely touches or allows herself to be touched. But then it's to Hedda that she looks, smile perfectly maintained. "Of course, darlin'.." Her own voice is, as always, soft-spoken and adorned with that Southern lilt. It renders it maddeningly difficult to read, at times, that honeyed tone. "..who wouldn't be distracted by such gallant and dashin' gentlemen. Careful.. that dress might just test their chivalrous nature, from this angle." That's probably as close to 'no need to apologise' as one's going to get, from the Harpy.

Nikola doesn't move as Perperna ensures that, for the foreseeable future -- say the next three centuries -- he will never have to justify his role again. There is nothing at all in his expression now. The smile remains, but it is as though all emotion has fled away from it, leaving behind a terra cotta mask. His dark eyes, in particular, are utterly devoid of emotion. But for those who know to look, there is the subtlest tension in his body, the slightly press downward in his seat, preparatory to movement. The tiniest shift of his left hand's fingers, a twitch in his thumb. He waits, dark irises swallowing his pupils entirely as his gaze flits between one person to the next. And his Beast? His Beast is ready to uncoil all at once. Whatever dark yearning has been consuming him this evening is at the fore now.

The blonde Crone -- or Maiden, as case may be -- receives the bulk of his attention. Nikola's badge glints slightly in the soft lighting as the string quartet, perhaps sensing the tension in the room, launch into a light Boccherini minuet. As Hedda makes her curtsey to Muse, Nikola allows a hint of life to return to his features. The relaxation that follows is the sort that draws attention to the coiled readiness of a moment before. But he glances to Muse, apparently taking his cue from the Harpy. Perhaps the Sheriff is still a Hound in his own mind, held by an invisible leash. Just as likely, however, he is carefully measuring his duties to Coterie-mate against his duties to Praxis.

A first challenge, and one to be navigated carefully. They so often set the tone for everything that is to follow. Her response to Hedda elicits a noise in the back of his throat, perhaps a strangled chuckle. Perhaps a growl. He doesn't seem to be aware that he's made the noise. Nikola rises to his feet, idly adjusting his coat, buttoning it back into place over the badge. "We won't have this problem again," he says. It's an instruction, not a question, dark eyes on Hedda. "Now. You imply that you have operated in the role of Praxis enforcement in the past. If you were interested in assuming such a role here, we could discuss the terms of your employment."

His self-appointed duties taken care of, for the moment, Perperna leaves Muse's side without being so gauche as to react to such unprecidented attentiveness. Instead, as the famed Boccherini minuet begins to play the prancing pimpernel sashays away to fall into an apparently well-practiced French minuet in rough time to the music. He is, naturally, heading back towards the bar. The prancing takes a good several minutes, managing to dance a duet dance solo, but he makes good time to the bar and turns to press his back and cocked elbows against it. And *now* he places his glass down on the bar top, apparently contented with the result of his inflicting his personality and presence on the room for now.

"Not just them I hope." Hedda adds with a very playful tone in her own faintly drawled accent. "Aside from running in these shoes. I like to think I'm set and equipped for all kinds of service to the praxis." she adds before straightening herself up and coming to rest with a gtentle tilt in her hips allowing thighs to hold a little flex.

Regarding all three with her eyes bouncing back and forth slowly, even Perperna moving about. "I'm a Valkyrja with the Circle." Their equivalent of muscle and defense. "But yes I have no problem expanding the scope of my work Sherrif. Protect the Praxis, protect the Circle. I'm still trying to track down the Primogen for the Circle, timing has not been as generous as it has been meeting our Sherrif and Harpy, and our esteemed new friend." She adds with a wink. at Perperna.

Once again setting down her glass, only a small amount abandoned in the base, Muse unfurls her legs and descends smoothly from her perch upon the barstool. Does she intend to follow Perperna's prancing lead? Good Lord, no. It would appear, instead, that the Harpy intends to take her leave, now that this little hiccup has been rectified. Smoothing her midnight-blue dress with a sweep of one palm, the other rising to tuck her dark hair back behind her ear, the Shadow turns only toretrieve her book from the bartop, casting a look sidelong toward Niko as she senses his obvious tension. Her own Beast has remained largely unperturbed by the momentary rousing of those around it.. and it reaches out now only to offer the semblance of a reassuring nudge toward that of her coterie-mate. All is well.

"I will leave you to your business.." she murmurs, once again offering a serene smile between the Sheriff and the blonde. Bracing a hand lightly at Niko's elbow, she stands precariously on tiptoe just long enough to brush a kiss of farewell across the Pirate Lord's stubbled cheek, before easing back down on her heels. "Try to be nice." Hugging her book to her midsection in the wrap of both arms, the Harpy inclines her head in a subtle nod toward Perperna just as he's making his way back, then to Hedda in turn. Then she's simply drifting away, headed for the doors of the Elysium with an air of comfortable familiarity. Well, the vessel does belong to the Savages, after all. Even if Niko is the most prominent seafarer amongst them.

Perperna's dance draws Nikola's attention, a strange expression crossing his face as he watches the elder Vampire minuet solo across the open deck. There is amusement there, certainly, but also a hint of melancholy, as though something in the scarlet-clad Daeva's lonesome pirhouette speaks to the Sheriff. He watches until Perperna arrives 'safely' at the bar, then brings his attention back to Muse and Hedda.

"I am certain," he says with the deceptive mildness that always seems to accompany his darker moods, "that you could service the Praxis quite well, Hedda Carmen Bjornsdottir." His eyes flit once more up and down the Wild West Daeva, and he allows a hint of humor to grow evident, just for a moment, perhaps to take the sting out of the implication. All friends here. Just a joke. "If you are interested in the work, well and good. I do have a condition, trust being such a vital component of our relationship. I will require an act of faith from you."

But he is diverted from his train of thought as Muse rises to her feet. Nikola smiles aside at her, watching her smooth down her dress and collect the book. His own Beast settles somewhat at the reassurance from his Coterie-mate, but there is still that latent ferocity, something unstable in the night. As she rises up to kiss his cheek, Nikola lays a hand lightly on her hip, fingers coiling for a moment in the fabric of her dress. "I will try my hardest," he murmurs in response. "And I will see you soon, I hope."

Righting himself from the bar as Muse stands, ever the 'gentleman'. "If you two are going to discuss law enforcement," he muses (ha ha), "Then I'm going to take the lull in interesting conversation as my chance to exit also." He reaches a hand up to idly scratch at his stubble and turns rather elegantly to hover his hand at Muse's back as he joins her in her exit. Exceptionally careful not to actually touch, but just enough to give the illusion of escort. He does angle his gaze over his shoulder and winks at Niko, though, "Act of faith from a Crone Valkyrie? I don't think we have that much goat blood." He winks again, pointedly not looking directly at said Valkyrie, before joining Muse on her escape. Which he pronounces ess-kah-pay.

The departing Harpy gets an aknowledging smile. "It'll be very entertaining following your work!" Information gathered by Muse and her Talons can be pretty useful to a Sherrif and their hounds.

And with Perperna making his departure she adds a grin. "But it might net us some gator. haven't see what sacrificing one of those critters will do for the Old Gods." She actually scrunches her face like she's considering the possibility. There's probably someone that knows in the Circle.

back to the Sherrif she keeps her smile, even as the teasing is aimed at her. "Well sometimes you catch more flies with honey. And providing a little for most folks can be as productive and expedient in our line of work as just breaking something. Though that's just as satisfying when you hear a snap and a little squeal afterwards." she adds with a tilt of her head and a chuckle leaving red glossed lips.

Nikola smiles faintly as he watches Perperna's escort of Muse from the Elysium, his dark eyes noting the absolute courtesy with which the man declines to touch her. It's exquisitely done, and the Sheriff seems quite content to admire it for a few moments. "It's funny," he remarks softly, "How time changes relationships." The words are, no doubt, intended to be vague -- or are merely a reflection of his own thoughts, rather than a gem to be picked up by his observant would-be Hound. He calls after Perperna "You are, no doubt, quite right. Old friend." Not the most clever way to say goodbye, certainly not as witty as the ancient Daeva, but then -- Nikola is a blunt instrument.

"Is that what you have? Honey?" Nikola's tone remains mild, his dark eyes fixed on Hedda now. He has a way of devoting his entire attention to something, seeming to forget the wider world, and now it is fixed on her. "If you worked for me," he says thoughtfully, "I would require a great deal from you. Not a little. And not..." he gestures down to her lap, "That. Sit down. Would you be opposed to undergoing the act of faith that I discussed? A simple... instruction. One that will ensure no discord, in the times to come."

With the seat offered, Hedda moves with an easy sway, practiced with around one hundred and fifty years behid it. taking said seat has her smoothing her skirts down and crossing those legs at her muscled thighs.

"Among other things." Hedda keeps that tone light and playful. "I have a bounty hunting licence for bringing in human criminals. Contcts within the bail bonds industry and law enforcement. A maybe kind of grody old van I've had since the eighties. And plenty of restraints to give even Vigor use pause," she states. "But I'm curious about this gesture of faith? I figured you'd be thinking of making sure I'm not blowing smoke up asses. I think someone wouldn't enjoy if I did anything back there.' she adds and nods at the exit where the others left.

Nikola watches Hedda sit with the same avid attention of a moment before; he notes the way she smoothes her dress, notes the sway. His attention is fixed, interested, but there is none of the lascivious heat that one might expect. This one takes his pleasure in other ways, perhaps, than mere displays. He reaches aside, toying with the empty wine glass that had contained his evening cocktail of blood and alcohol, without taking his eyes from Hedda.

"You sound supremely qualified for the work, yes. Your contacts among the kine will be useful to me." To me. There is an assumption there, an arrogance, that the bearded Sheriff doesn't bother to conceal. It's always there with Nikola, even when he's smiling, this poised sense of proprietorship. "I will use one of my own Disciplines on you," he explains mildly, "With your consent. And I will issue a single command that, I'm afraid, will ensure that you are not..." He pauses, his Eastern European voice adopting a Texas twang -- or a bad facsimile thereof -- "blowing smoke up asses. I apologize for the necessity--" He doesn't, really, "--But as a friend of mine recently explained, I must.. CYA."

It takes a moment of thought from the blonde in the little dress, even scrunching up her features a moment. "Alright shoot." she says and turns a little at the waist to face the Sherrif. She's old enough to figure which discipline. And even with her beast probably wanting to flare up she at least keeps it down for now.

"I'm not usually one to use mind mojo myself but it has it's uses." she adds and keeps her hands on the top most of her crossed thighs and flicks her head to keep her hair out of her brown eyes.

Nikola casts Mesmerize on Hedda

Nikola smiles again -- a hint of the latent cruelty evident now -- as Hedda turns to face him more fully. "Good." There is a simple pleasure to the word. He senses her Beast, senses her own efforts to keep it from rising to the challenge. Nikola leans forward slightly in his seat, locking eyes with Hedda. The change is subtle at first -- overtones, undertones, nothing quite out in the open. No real 'switch' -- until he speaks.

The power is in the eyes, but it is in the words as well. As irresistible as the Mississippi River that the Regas floats upon, gently moving beneath their deck. Calm and dark on the surface, but ripping with power, capable of slamming great logjams against the will of its opponent. "Never betray me." It's a startlingly simple command, but it is... permanent. Broad-reaching in its capacities.

With that command, she's not going to remember what it was unless told. But there it is. Quiet she is as expected and well it's kicking in as that pwer hits her. And at least while she's in her mesmerized state she nods her head and looks like she's actually waiting for the command instead of actually having already being given it.

Underneath the surface that beast of her's definitely railed against the Sherrif but sometimes it takes more than brute force. But this time seems to het by fine.

Nikola considers for a moment. This is the treacherous moment, indeed -- he's ensured her loyalty in the broad sense, and he did promise her that there would be the single command. But there is always the moment when it occurs to you to go further, take more, than had been offered. He does not, yet, break the bonds of Mesmerism.

"Tell me a secret." The Ventrue leans his elbow against the bar-top, watching Hedda closely. There is curiosity gleaming in his eyes; he can sense the Beast within her, can measure its resistance or lack thereof. The temptation was simply too great.

"I haven't exactly been keeping it two under wraps." hedda states when she's given the next comand. "But my entire former coterie was exiled from San Antonio after our Galloi sister." A blood line of Nosferatu known for being uncanney valley pretty and gender fluid. "Played a prank on a member of the Lancea et Sanctum." she goes on, keeping her words hushed. "Be was a big fire and brimstone type. get the behind me Satan evangelical type. Big homophobe which made us. All crones, all women and all, well.. As gender fluid as our galloi sister. Not fans. Like to like us to Belial's Brood. Kind of a shitty thing to say. Human sacrifice is a pretty big deal. Not something we did often and not on a whim. We're monsters, but we aren't demons. The brood thinks that. but no us." she says sounding a little purturbed but not raising her voice.

And so she goes on. "So our Galloi sister, Mika her name is. Seduce the lance's favourite Ghoul. Pretty thing. Classic church girl. And like a lot of church girls. Easily as big a freak as you can get." Says the proponent of standard nude bacchanalia and blood sacrifices while nude and so on.

"Mika gets her in a hot tub, holds her under water just long enouigh to let her vitae in the tub. And with whatever juice she could put into it, when the girl came up for air, she was fully male. She only did a partial version on us, guided us that way along the spectrum, but we went with it because, sisters and all that. But this poor boy formerly girl, and eventually girl again it does wear off after a while if you let it, Mika sent them home to their regnant. Whom proceded to thoroughly lose his shit." Hedda says and maybe begins to snicker at picturing the reaction.

"I wonder if the Lancea has ever worked out who did it. You were quite a naughty collection of women. At some later date, you will tell me more of this magic of yours." Nikola smiles as he listens to the narration, leaning forward slightly. He lays a hand lightly on Hedda's arm, inclining his head briefly. "You work for me now, Hedda. I have one final command for you, tonight. Until the next time I wish to ensure your obedience."

He lifts his hand to his scarred lip, glancing around the nearly-empty Elysium. "Alright, Hedda Bjornsdottir." He leans forward slightly, raising one eyebrow. "I want you to slap yourself as hard as you can manage. Right across the face." A beat. "Ah. That command was probably too lengthy for you. Hedda: Slap yourself."

The end of the tail is cut short and and with the last command. The woman's hands both come up and slap herself in each cheek like a kid left Home Alone over christmas. It's loud and hit's hard. Vigor does add a sting but it's like waking up from a nap. "Well that's not gonna get any memories back." she says while rubbing the soreness out.