Notices


Ultima Ratio Regum, Scene I

   
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack
"Anyway, I mostly got to be a deacon because Father Birch likes me."
Lauren shrugged. "Don't most of the covenants work like that? Having a higher-up who favors you always helps." She paused. "I think the Carthians are different, but the Invictus is all about who you know."

Lauren drank the rest of her blood and gave Mack a pat on the shoulder. "Anyway, that's good! ...I mean, unless you don't like Birch. Elders can be..." She sighed. "He's seemed nice enough from the few times I've met him... I just wish he'd quit mentioning that..." Lauren mumbled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Father Birch
"Outreach programs? And here it is generally thought that the supernatural world are too close, claustrophobic, squabbling forever like dogs for scraps from a table. I would be curious to hear more of your experiences with New York."
Underwood returned the serve with a similarly pitched smile. "Oh, it's not all peaches and light, believe me, but we've been making the effort. Meetings between officials, a panel or two, cooperation on mutual interests…comes of having a Spring Court that's half in the advertising game, but hey, I'm all for it. Look up Helen Haight of Haight Jackson Parker LLC, if you're curious. She's great."

More properly, Helen Haight of Haight Jackson Parker LLC liked talking to new markets, but the principle was the same. Underwood doubted that a man of the cloth (as it were) would call up the senior faerie partner in a leading New York advertising firm out of the blue, but (1), the New York Spring Queen's identity was known to any supernatural who bothered to ask around for more than five minutes, and (2), at a party like this, who knew where word of her "partnership initiatives" would spread? Leaving aside the quiet "information-gathering on potential enemies of the Freehold" part of the enterprise, it was actually quite helpful at promoting peace between the vampire and changeling communities. …Sometimes because of the information-gathering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Father Birch
"The woman in the watery dress, however, is Cynthia of the Mara, a water-witch of the Thames. I understand she is an ally of some of the Lost."
"Really? How so?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Father Birch
"I prefer to work with wood or metal, more durable materials. These vestments were made by mortal hands. Ones that believed they were outfitting for a very exclusive masquerade, it so happens."
"Oh, metalworker?" Underwood seemed legitimately curious. "Sculpture, or what? I sideline in restoring old tools and machines, is why I ask -- nothing as original as all that, but it helps me keep focused."

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"Ah, no, Mrs. Lamothe, though I thank you for the thought. Tailoring is not among my talents. I prefer to work with wood or metal, more durable materials. These vestments were made by mortal hands. Ones that believed they were outfitting for a very exclusive masquerade, it so happens."
"Believed?" Erin asked, smiling and blinking. "Are they not correct, after all?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Whistler View Post
Underwood returned the serve with a similarly pitched smile. "Oh, it's not all peaches and light, believe me, but we've been making the effort."
Erin leaned in very close to Underwood, pitching her voice very low and conspiratorially.

"Have you had any luck with the hipsters?" she whispered casually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Whistler View Post
"Oh, metalworker?" Underwood seemed legitimately curious. "Sculpture, or what? I sideline in restoring old tools and machines, is why I ask -- nothing as original as all that, but it helps me keep focused."
"His furniture is gorgeous, though I've only seen his woodwork," Erin said, leaning over to one side to whisper audibly in Underwood's direction. "A jack of all trades, very impressive."

"Mr. Underwood is quite a fan of older machines. Quality craftsmanship, solid metal bodies, don't make them like they used to," Erin said, leaning the other direction to whisper audibly at Birch. "He gave me quite the beautiful tool chest as a present, once."

"How is your computer faring, Father?" Erin asked, straightening up and speaking normally.

"I guess so? The Carthians have elections and the Dragons have exams, I know that much. And like, theses." Mary wrinkled her nose. One of the few nice parts about haunting schools was that she got to see a lot of people taking and fretting over exams without ever having to do any of her own. "The Lance isn't quite as, uh, personality-based as the Invictus though. You get to be a deacon just by being willing to help out, priests have to pass a really strict examination on the Testament of Longinus and the writings of the Monachus and the Apocrypha, inquisitors and crusaders and legates are all chosen by the Bishop, and... I'm not completely sure how a Bishop gets chosen. I think it's sort of an election thing."

"But I like Birch. He's wise and kind... to me." Mary decided not to mention the occasional roaring lectures she got over feeding off bloodwort all the time. She was hardly one to throw stones about emotional outbursts, and neither of the two Daeva had frenzied at each other yet, so she was philosophical about it. "I'm just getting used to this all. It's... complicated? Really, really complicated?"

"If you want Birch to stop talking about your coming to the Midnight Mass, ask him to?" Mary suggested, tilting her head. Of course, if she had been a deacon, she would have seen Lauren's Ka. "That black veil does kind of help though."



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Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"Look up Helen Haight of Haight Jackson Parker LLC, if you're curious. She's great."
"Perhaps I shall. Mortal faiths are entering into the realms of advertisement and public relations." Birch sniffed disdainfully. The Sanctified of London were a small and notoriously elitist institution, Erin had heard from Mary. They would advertise when Birch was in torpor or turned to ash, and not a moment sooner. "Or a peace offering to the Acolytes..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"Really? How so?"
"I am not wholly certain." The Black Bishop admitted, gazing across the room at Cynthia of the Mara. "But I am told by reliable sources that she has dealings with an institution known as the Twelfth Bridge. The Spider-Span, I believe it is?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"Oh, metalworker?" Underwood seemed legitimately curious. "Sculpture, or what?"
"Of a sort. In my mortal days I made prosthetic limbs, false arms and fingers and legs." Birch said, smiling for a moment. "A form of simple machine, tailored to its use with pulleys and springs and the like, though each one unique to its patron. Sadly, there are few calls for such devices in the present, when motors and plastics do the work, an do it well though with less artistry."

"I keep my hand in with modern technology, such as I may. Furniture, some simple machines... shipbuilding has been my recent fascination, I have a yacht and am currently building a sailboat, though it will be some months before it is finished."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"How is your computer faring, Father?"
"It is finished, though it insists upon sputtering and displaying a blue screen at inconvenient moments." The Black Bishop said, shaking his head. "I am not entirely certain why, though I have been attempting to fix it. With less than sterling success, alas."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack
"I'm just getting used to this all. It's... complicated? Really, really complicated?"
"Nothing is ever simple with kindred," Lauren said with a sympathetic smile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack
"If you want Birch to stop talking about your coming to the Midnight Mass, ask him to?"
"Well, I know why he keeps talking about it... he wants me to join." Lauren frowned. "I don't know... do you think he'd just give up on it if I asked him to?" She was privately hoping to find her way into another covenant, which would stop people from trying to lure her to one place or another... hopefully.

"Um..." Mary Mack tried to imagine Birch taking a subtle hint to stop doing something he wanted to, and failed thoroughly. "Probably not. Stop going to the Midnight Masses then?" This seemed like a very strange problem to be having, really.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack
"Probably not. Stop going to the Midnight Masses then?"
Lauren shook her head. "It's complicated. Anyway, we should go back." She stood up and headed out to find Erin and Underwood again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamothe
"Have you had any luck with the hipsters?"
"Not yet. Crafty sons-a'-guns," Underwood whispered just as casually. This was starting to become hilarious, but if Erin continued to avoid looking slang words up on the Internet, he was going to string it along as long as humanly possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Father Birch
"Perhaps I shall. Mortal faiths are entering into the realms of advertisement and public relations. Or a peace offering to the Acolytes..."
"Hey, integrity comes first where faith is concerned." Underwood had sensed Birch's feelings on the matter -- again, it was the collateral awareness that mattered, but he didn't want to talk down to the priest either. "I was raised Catholic, myself. You get too many long-haired guys with guitars up by the altar, you know, it's 'nice', but I think you lose something. I just mention Miss Haight because she's cooperatively-minded, in her own way -- it's a good impulse, even if she's coming from a different angle than you or I might."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamothe
"Mr. Underwood is quite a fan of older machines. Quality craftsmanship, solid metal bodies, don't make them like they used to. He gave me quite the beautiful tool chest as a present, once."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Father Birch
"Of a sort. In my mortal days I made prosthetic limbs, false arms and fingers and legs. A form of simple machine, tailored to its use with pulleys and springs and the like, though each one unique to its patron. Sadly, there are few calls for such devices in the present, when motors and plastics do the work, an do it well though with less artistry. I keep my hand in with modern technology, such as I may. Furniture, some simple machines... shipbuilding has been my recent fascination, I have a yacht and am currently building a sailboat, though it will be some months before it is finished."
"No, they do not make them like they used to -- and it was my pleasure, Mrs. Lamothe." Underwood smiled at the mention of the gift, then addressed Birch again.

"That's a good philosophy to have. I don't sail, myself, but I've refurbished a car or two since I've been back in the world -- a '48 Desoto Custom Sedan, most recently. Had to ship that one in… It helps to have a long-term project, I think: something to start back in on whenever I have a hard problem on my mind. I find the work helps me back on track."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Father Birch
"It is finished, though it insists upon sputtering and displaying a blue screen at inconvenient moments. I am not entirely certain why, though I have been attempting to fix it. With less than sterling success, alas."
Underwood raised his eyebrows sympathetically. "Trust me: just that you've built it, period, is impressive. I know someone who's far better at computer work than me, and I don't know how he does it."

Sparky stayed quiet, as this was a Diplomatic Mission.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Whistler View Post
"Not yet. Crafty sons-a'-guns," Underwood whispered just as casually.
Erin nodded solemnly. She knew very little about Hipsters, but the internet was very clear they needed to die.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Whistler View Post
"Hey, integrity comes first where faith is concerned. I was raised Catholic, myself. You get too many long-haired guys with guitars up by the altar, you know, it's 'nice', but I think you lose something."
"Outreach is often something to be embraced, but advertising..." Erin looked at Underwood and Birch, privately agreeing. She shared a mind with her husband on the matter - if there wasn't hymns and intonations and incense, the ceremony needed work.

"Perhaps that remains in the realm of mortals, for now," she finished.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"It is finished, though it insists upon sputtering and displaying a blue screen at inconvenient moments." The Black Bishop said, shaking his head. "I am not entirely certain why, though I have been attempting to fix it. With less than sterling success, alas."
"This seems to be a software problem more than hardware," Erin said, shifting her eyes. "Perhaps a different operating system..."

"Um... okay?" Mary completely did not understand what was complicated about this situation, but she could take a hint that it was not Lauren's favorite topic of conversation. Truthfully, Lauren amused the older vampire in some way. She was a great deal younger, a great deal less experienced in Kindred life, but no one could say that Lauren didn't make her life exciting. "...If you ever need someone to talk to Father Birch or Alistair, you can ask me?"

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"I was raised Catholic, myself. You get too many long-haired guys with guitars up by the altar, you know, it's 'nice', but I think you lose something."
"Religion is not nice. God is not nice. The Dark Messiah is most certainly not nice." Birch said, peeling his lips back in what was technically a smile and instead resembled a dog baring its teeth. The fact that the Bishop had some quite respectable fangs contributed to this. "Faith is not about being nice, or genial, or socially acceptable. Faith is about doing God's Work, which is never easy or comfortable. To be driven by faith is to have a devil with a whip at your back, spurring you onward through Damnation. To derive comfort from faith is a fine thing, but comfort is not the purpose of faith. That purpose is God's Work, and that is work."

Birch's nostrils flared, and he visibly clamped down on his emotions. Stirring somewhere beneath that genial facade was an absolute monster of rage and faith, and for just a moment, Underwood caught a glimpse of it, though blessedly not directed at himself. Should that monster ever emerge, things were likely to break. Or people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"It helps to have a long-term project, I think: something to start back in on whenever I have a hard problem on my mind. I find the work helps me back on track."
"It is a form of prayer, or perhaps meditation, to create a thing." Birch said quietly. "It orders our thoughts and reaffirms our purpose."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"This seems to be a software problem more than hardware," Erin said, shifting her eyes. "Perhaps a different operating system..."
"Something to bear in mind. I have been reading on the matter, yet so far all I have learned is that even our malignance and evil has been surpassed by some mortal sect calling itself ‘Microsoft.’" Birch said, shaking his head. "In time I shall understand it. It is the journey, not the end result, that I desire."

"Regardless, I have monopolized you long enough, and I spot some of my congregation trying to catch my eye." Birch said, looking towards the distance. "I wish you well on your mission."

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It felt as though all of London's Kindred had gathered at the Elysium, and certainly most of them were here. There were a few who were conspicuous by their absence, of course. Sir Royston Montjoy, the Nosferatu Primogen, almost never attended Elysium, being nigh impossible to drag out of his subterranean lair. Similarly, Sophie Penrose had been skipping one Elysium out of two since her very public clash with Alistair Niall. And of course, Sheridan had yet to arrive with her entourage.

"Chambers? Don't think much of her, to be honest. She's always got her nose up in the air like she smelled something bad."

Other Kindred were present, but doing work of one sort or another. Lauren recognized Anna Darlington and David Ivenistky as being on security detail, along with a pack of ghouled guards and younger kindred. Another vampire, a handsome looking North African man in a crisp suit stood at the door and served as the stentor, announcing prominent citizens of London's supernatural community as they entered. And slick-looking Silk Eddie Treadwell was hovering near the vessels, most of which were his blood-dolls and therefore which he would have preferred to be unharmed -- unless he could blackmail or wheedle some favors out of whoever did the harming.

“From one of God’s children to the next, hear my words: Birch is planning something big. Something to bring us all together. It shall be glorious.”

Still other Kindred gathered in small groups, usually sorted by covenant or clan. The old gangster Scratch was holding court at one end of the chamber, telling jokes and outrageous stories to a gaggle of younger Nosferatu, a cavalcade of monstrous faces as could rarely be seen elsewhere. Erin could spot Lydia there, her vivid pink hair visible at long distance, and a gorgeous young blonde woman who appeared to have only cartilage in place of her skeleton. Halfway down the room from him, a fat, pear-shaped vampire was pontificating on artistic creativity as applied to the Kindred condition, with an audience consisting of a severe-looking woman with her hair in a grey bun and a changeling that Erin and Underwood recognized as Donovan Paxton.

Elsewhere, the lovely vampire in the sari -- Rajani, Birch had called her -- was talking quietly to a Alistair Niall, dapper in his quasi-Victorian clothing, discussing some matters to do with the dead. Just thirty feet away, a similar conversation played out in miniature, with a redheaded vampire in punk-anarchist clothing having a discussion with a young, black-haired man with a gloomy sort of face.

"Heard what Scratch did? He went and dumped like, five boxes of food coloring into the Thames when the Mara were holding a meeting. I hear Cynthia wants to scratch his eyes out."

And then there were those Kindred who kept to themselves. A woman with a black eye-patch over her eye, dressed in an elaborately tailored military uniform of red-and-black was standing by the string quartet, watching them play. Not far away, Abonde ignored the entire world around her by sitting in one of the few armchairs and reading a book, Father Giles running interference for her. One woman who did not appear to be a vampire (her flesh too rosy, her teeth lacking in fangs -- Underwood recognized her, to his misfortune), was taking a break to stand by the flowers, a collection of purple-and-white carnations. The woman in the watery dress -- Cynthia of the Mara -- was nearby, surveying the gathering for her next partner, or perhaps victim.




 

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