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Ultima Ratio Regum, Scene III

   
Ultima Ratio Regum, Scene III

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Pride is the common forerunner of a fall. It was the devilís sin, and the devilís ruin; and has been, ever since, the devilís stratagem, who, like an expert wrestler, usually gives a man a lift before he gives him a throw.


Bishop Robert South

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Friday, January 15th, 2010 - Erin

It was best not to ask how Cynthia of the Mara had gotten Anna Darlington's keys. But she had gotten them, and now they were silent in Erin's pocket, wrapped around in a handkerchief to keep from jangling together. Cynthia herself was somewhere as well, though she had vanished almost as efficiently as Erin. There was something about the vampire that Erin didn't quite trust -- Cynthia had her own agenda, and it intersected with the rest only obliquely. But she had made the keys appear, and she would stand ready to provide a distraction for Erin if the moth-fey so needed it.

Kensington was one of Londonís more expensive areas, an affluent and densely-populated part of town. In earlier days, people had lived here in grand terraced houses, wealthy aristocrats dwelling in townhouses of four to six stories in height, with elegant Victorian facades overlooking the beautiful gardens. Nowadays, the great terraced houses were broken up into individual flats, but it was still one of the most expensive regions of London. An apartment here in Kensington wouldíve been worth as much as the Cat's Cradle. Yet the Lady of London kept an entire building for herself. This was the privilege of wealth.

Which, of course, begged the question of what other privileges wealth and power possessed. The Lady of London was not some dusty methuselah from the middle ages, but she was an old vampire, the Prince of the city, and had been High Sheriff. She knew the value of secrets, and she would not give them up easily.



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Friday, January 15th, 2010 - Lauren

Speaking with Lujza Dvorzsak proved to be more difficult than it seemed at first. The Philosopher of the Ordo Dracul was in many ways a very progressive elder -- she moved among mortals, understood the basics of techology, and even had a phone -- which was unfortunately for Lauren, a land-line (cellphones and email were still beyond the elder). Thus to actually find the Philosopher, one was left with relatively few options. One could try and track her to one of the few places she was regularly to be found, her German literature classes. But it was the Winter Holidays. One could mail her a note, but this was too slow for Lauren's needs. So, Lauren was left with tracking down Dvorzsak's apprentice. If no one else, Evan could find the Philosopher at any hour of the night. And Evan was almost always at the St. Thomas Club.

Not that this made life easier -- Lauren was still in the process of learning to navigate the labyrinthine, ever-changing corridors. She was certain now that they changed, though if there was some manner of pattern to their slow shift, it was impossible to detect. When one knew when one was going, one could always reach the place one sought. But let your mind wander even a moment... and you would find yourself in the most improbable corners.

Lauren ran her young mentor (younger than her!) to ground in the Turan Athaneaum. Evan was high above the ground, perched on a wheeled ladder that hooked into railings at intervals along the wall. He had at least two fat, leather volumes under one arm, and Lauren spotted several more on one of the nearby tables. The topmost title was the Dictionnaire Infernal by de Plancy.

"Darrow." Evan welcomed his apprentice with a wry smirk. He was dressed in slacks and a black turtleneck, and a pair of glasses were perched upon his thin nose.



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Friday, January 15th, 2010 - Underwood

"Miss Mary Mack / All Dressed in Black / She's got a Knife / Stuck in her Back" Mary Mack whispered, her voice possessed of a lilting, sing-song cadence. She had not, to Underwood's knowledge, stopped singing that song since she'd awoken that night. She would stop and politely answer questions he put to her, but the moment silence returned, so did her unnerving, childish song. "She Cannot Breathe / She Cannot Cry / And So She Begs / She Begs to Die" Given that Mary this evening was dressed in a black skirt, a white shirt, and a black jacket, the parallels were not comforting. But Underwood would not be sent off on this mission without a bodyguard, and waiting for Mary had meant waiting for darkness to fall.

It was dark, and the ice wind blew so as to chill Underwood to the bone. Green Park was quiet on this winter night, and snow and ice crunched underfoot as the duo made their way to the most remote corner of the park and the eldritch tree that grew there. Cinder had explained the tree's significance once, had called it a locus of power, and she would be sleeping somewhere not very far from it. Even now, with snow on the ground, Cinder slept outdoors.

A wolf's howl pierced the night -- or perhaps a dog, though Underwood knew it was no dog -- and a minute later, Cinder herself emerged from a copse of trees, a huge, muscular woman in a tattered hoodie and threadbare jeans, tilting her head towards Underwood. Why now? Why at night?


Underwood nodded a sober greeting, touching his hat brim with a black-gloved hand. When it was cold enough out that Underwood could wear a fedora without attracting attention, by God, Underwood wore a fedora.

“Cinder. G’devening. You know Miss Mack.” A gesture at the vampire. “Sorry I couldn’t give you the details over the phone.” Underwood had bought Cinder one of those cheap prepaid flip jobs, in case of emergencies. Of course, during emergencies, Underwood was likely to be extremely paranoid at any time that he could be recorded.

“Spoke with the cat. He’s…himself. But if he doesn’t go off the rails, he’s trying – trying – to do something’ll bring a real rotten character to justice. And I like bringing rotten characters to justice. I think you might like this, too.”

The reporter scratched his cheek absently. “I can’t give you the details without a pledge – just due to circumstances, I’d trust you to stay on the down-low regardless. But I can say that I think this’d be really, seriously up your alley. What’re you thinking?”

"Evan!" When wandering through this building, it was always an accomplishment when you actually found someone. Lauren smiled up at him. "Do you know where the Kogaion is? I need to speak with her."

Erin had spent a certain amount of the evening dancing about and examining her new figure. This was the second taller, shapelier, prettier vampire she'd posed as this week, and the novelty was still there. She also spent a good amount of time poking her teeth with her tongue, trying to find if there were holes or something to suck blood through. She couldn't seem to find anything.

She really wondered at everyone trusting Cynthia with all this, but there was nothing to be done about it now - and she had so nicely borrowed Anna's keys. Erin briefly wondered if she could make a copy of them and return them, without the High Sheriff being any wiser. Probably not, if she noticed them missing. Ah well. Might as well keep them, then. They were a bit modern for her tastes, but they were not going back to Anna as evidence, and so they would have to do as a trophy.

Erin tapped her temple, turning one of her brown eyes an uncanny blue. Then she slipped down the street towards the Prince's house, vanishing into the shadow. She wasn't a vampire, but she could imitate a few of their tricks - and possibly even do it one better. People's eyes seemed to glide over just as much as Lauren, and she didn't have quite so many issues with doors.

Dice Roll: 10d10s8e
d10 Results: 1, 2, 1, 3, 10, 6, 1, 5, 7, 5, 5 (Total Successes = 1)
Mirror (Loki's Eyes)
Dice Roll: 15d10s8e
d10 Results: 7, 2, 6, 8, 7, 4, 4, 5, 5, 1, 5, 7, 10, 2, 3, 3 (Total Successes = 2)
Darkened Countenance
Dice Roll: 13d10s8e8
d10 Results: 7, 2, 1, 10, 5, 7, 8, 1, 3, 4, 7, 6, 5, 9, 7, 1 (Total Successes = 3)
Stealth
Dice Roll: 11d10s8e8
d10 Results: 6, 10, 2, 10, 4, 7, 1, 6, 7, 5, 8, 5, 2, 6 (Total Successes = 3)
Rote
6 stealth, -7 on checks to spot me.

Erin

Elizabeth Sheridan, the Lady of London, lived in a four-story brownstone townhouse, the cost of which could not have been much less than ten million pounds. It was an old, Victorian building, which meant that it had many windows, a tiny garden around the back, and dozens of small rooms. From speaking with Lauren, Erin knew where the library was, where Sheridan's bedroom was, and she knew that Sheridan's private study was in a cupola atop the building, a sort of fifth floor.

She also knew that the house was full of ghouls and dominated mortals at any hour of day or night. Even now, at 2 AM, there were a few lights on, though Erin had it on good account that Sheridan was usually out feeding at this hour of the night. Erin also knew that there were several ghouled dogs on the grounds as well. Looking from the outside, she could see that the locks were quite good, if not up to the Cradle's standards, and there were bars on the windows.

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Lauren

"That might be a bit of a problem." Evan said, putting another book under his arm and making his way carefully down the ladder. He'd been scrambling up and down these ladders for several years now, and getting down them with a stack of hundred-year-old tomes was something of an acquired talent. "She left for Sheffield right after the Elysium on Wednesday. Grabbed a go-bag and left."

One of the peculiarities of the Ordo Dracul was that while the Kogaion had a great deal of respect and influence, Lujza Dvorzsak had relatively few powers or duties. Which meant that unlike Birch or Sheridan, Dvorzsak could up and leave London quickly if the situation seemed to call for it. And Sheffield had been the home Academy of Winslow Lake.

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Underwood

Cinder crossed her arms and gave Underwood a flat, unfriendly sort of look. She was not the sort of person who enjoyed buying a pig in a poke. On the other hand, she was the sort of person who enjoyed ripping people's arms off. Fortunately for Underwood, she liked Underwood.

"...Fine." Cinder said, nodding to Underwood as Mary continued her gentle rhymes in the background. The werewolf cast her a somewhat strange look. Vampires, like the Lost, were weird. "But only because it's you... and Father." Cinder may not have liked her father very much, but she didn't really hate him anymore. Erin had broken that hatred back in Arcadia. "What do you need?"

“Thanks, Cinder. Knew you’d come through…and like I say, I wouldn’t come to you if I didn’t think it was in your line. So, condition of the pledge is, you’ve got to keep the deep background a secret from everybody – this isn’t my condition, this is, you know.” He waved dismissively at an invisible Othello. “But provided we get that down pat first…”

Presuming some degree of follow-through: “All right, here’s the lowdown. Said bad character I was talking about? One Winslow Lake. Real piece of work: vampire, psychopath, serial murderer of people…seriously bad news all around, and Othello’s got reason to take him personally.” Underwood gave a brief physical description of the offender, inasmuch as one could for a known shapeshifter, following it up with whatever psychological and supernatural details he could add.

“…So, your ever-loving father, Lord save him from the effects of his own plans, thinks it through like this. He gets us to go to that party I told you about, denounce Father Simon Birch – that’s vampire clergy, pretty high up – for one of Lake’s prior crimes, and sets up a duel with the guy here in Green Park, bringing in some Summer Court heavies to back him up. Figures Lake’s going to get so jealous of someone else taking credit for his work, he’s going to show up and crash the party – shows you what kind of nutjob we’re dealing with, here – at which point everyone else attacks him. Boom. World’s out one more dangerous screwball.”

“Now, I tried to explain to your father that trusting all parties concerned to go after Lake, instead of each other, is bordering on the unrealistic.” A fatalistic shrug. “Hard sell. But if I'm going around cleaning up his messes, I figure that’s where you and your boys can come in. How big’s your pack lately, you don’t mind me asking?”

Erin looked up and down the building. It was the private study at the top she was looking for, and she decided not to waste her time on the ground levels - filled with servants and dogs and ghouls. Her form contracted, popping into a tiny Angle Shades, the moth hiding in the darkness and only skirting the edges of the light. It fluttered up onto the roof, pausing only for a moment to sniff for trouble, before creeping across the roof tiles toward the study.

Dice Roll: 10d10s8e
d10 Results: 9, 2, 2, 8, 10, 3, 9, 10, 10, 7, 8, 8, 10, 8 (Total Successes = 10)
Cloak of Bear's Massive Form
Dice Roll: 10d10s8e
d10 Results: 8, 6, 2, 8, 7, 8, 2, 10, 8, 8, 6 (Total Successes = 6)
Sniffing Around
Thanks to that absurd roll, the moth retains Erin's health boxes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan
"She left for Sheffield right after the Elysium on Wednesday. Grabbed a go-bag and left."
Lauren groaned and looked toward the ceiling. "Do you know where in Sheffield? I really need to speak with her as soon as possible."

Erin

The private study was octagonal, and located inside a kind of tower-structure atop the town house. Four of the walls were replaced with great, big, bay windows, looking out at the four corners of London. Erin could see St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London, and in the distance the Monument to the Fire of 1666, and the Thames below it all. The other walls were covered in portraits and paintings, all with just one common theme — that they depicted Sheridan when she was still alive. There were portraits of Sheridan posing as an Eastern odalisque, as some Grecian nymph, as a shy peasant girl, as a lordly aristocrat, as a dozen flights of artistic fancy. She looked very little different from what she was tonight, a small, freckled girl with red hair and cat-green eyes, but there was always just a hint of vulnerability in those paintings. That had died with Sheridan.

There were other things in the room as well, though it had been the paintings that had drawn Erin's attention first. A small piano, a pair of overstuffed armchairs, a small couch in the Roman style. A rich, extravagantly decorated Persian carpet, a sideboard of mahogany and silver trim, crystalware, gold, luxury at its finest and most decorous. A brick fireplace occupied one of the walls, various letters, photographs, and cameos upon the mantle. A sturdy brass grating separated the fireplace from the rest of the room -- Sheridan may have appreciated the aesthetics of fire, but like all vampires she preferred it well controlled.

All this the tiny moth saw, perched on the glass of the windows. It was thick, bulletproof glass set in an elegant wrought-iron latticework. It was not meant to be opened, but there was a chimney. Also several stainless steel meshes in the chimney, and an ornamental brass grating, but they were meant to keep out something the size of a human, not an inch-long moth. There were no high-tech defenses or arcane wards that Erin noticed, strangely enough.

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Lauren

"Yes, I know where." Evan said, though he didn't actually say where. The Ordo Dracul -- for that matter, all vampires -- tended to be cagey about giving out locations, and Lauren was still too low on the totem pole. "Why do you need to talk to her?" He asked, raising a single, delicate brow.

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Underwood

"Yes, Underwood." Cinder said with a touch of aspersion. She liked Underwood, she really did, but as best Underwood could figure she thought he was a chatterbox. Normally Cinder liked that, but sometimes... She waited for Underwood to pledge her and then fill her in with as much good humor as a scary scarred werewolf lady could.

"Three of us, at least so far. What do you have in mind?" Cinder said, then frowned for a moment. She didn't know much about vampires, but she could recognize that there were going to be a great many powerful Kindred on her territory soon. And while Cinder bowed to no man, she could understand that odds of three or four or even five on one were not going to be good for her if things went badly. "I'm not throwing Revelation to get devoured by the vampires."

Quote:
"Why do you need to talk to her?"
"She told me to come to her with certain information, if I was able to get it. And now I have it, and I have to tell her before tomorrow night or it'll be too late to do anything about it!" Lauren took a deep breath, having blurted that all out in one. "It's very important." She took a deep breath and forced some of the tenseness out her muscles. "Please."




 

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