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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Patrick

WWXXXIII - Vampire: Wolf Masquerade

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Even though the Nosferatu were good at keeping their secrets, news of Sylas' death eventually reached Andreas. After all, the dead were not under Nosferatu control and had their own ideas of what needed to remain secret ...

 

Making sure once again that the curtains were closed and keeping the moonlight out, the Giovanni sat down in his leather desk chair. Fortunately, he'd fed enough last night; he wouldn't need to go out tonight. Even though he didn't need to breathe anymore, he sighed as he started pondering - somehow it still helped get his thoughts on track.

 

Another final death. That made three, in addition to the Prince. While he wasn't overly concerned or joyed with the deaths of the Cammies - they'd mostly stayed out of his way, and he'd stayed out of theirs - the fact that the local Kindred population was being systematically reduced was worrying him. What if he was next? He'd have to start taking precautions, make it harder to get into the mansion.

 

With a short nod to confirm these thoughts, Andreas got up and got to work, calling upon his Necromancy skills. A haunted place would be a whole lot harder to get into than a regular mansion ...

 

OOC : Holding off voting for a while ... it's someone else's turn to start chaos this time ;)

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After some more hours in the sewer Osidian finally made it through to his destination, the mansion of Vylenard

 

“Osidian, your associate sent me”

 

“Yes, do join me in the lounge, you heard the news?”

 

*Silence*

 

“Who was it?” Osidian asked, already guessing that this could only mean another death.

 

“Sylas, a Nosferatu, was sniped in the sewers last day”

 

“What? I was on the sewers today….” Osidian answered quite surprised and left to wander around in the mansion, preparing for his work.

 

OOC: Votes for Venefyxatu - Andreas Giovanni (let's see where the confusion heads now)

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Lilah hang up the phone, opening the heavy curtains a bit to stare at the night.

 

A Nosferatu in the sewers is not surprising. But who knew where in the sewers? How was he caught in there?

I cannot just believe in carelessness.

 

 

She picked her coat, and then closed the door to her loft after her. She left quickly, and chose the shadows carefully.

 

I wonder if Francis has news... or what kind of news he has.

 

 

Listening to the night carefully, Lilah wanders apparently without purpose - though she knows exactly where to go. And hopefully she'd be able to meet Francis; though not anxious to talk to him, her mind wanted the input that his twisted words could give.

 

And last night he was talking about mice... unhelpful mice... and LaSombra.

 

 

~~~~~~

OOC: vote for Mardrax/Francesca

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[20:28] * Connecting to goldendown.uglytruth.org (8883)

-

[20:28] -goldendown.uglytruth.org- *** Looking up your hostname

-

[20:28] -goldendown.uglytruth.org- *** Checking for ident server

-

[20:28] -goldendown.uglytruth.org- *** Found your hostname

-

Sylas no such nickname

-

Sylas end of /WHOIS list

-

Bigears is bigears@517.625.8.181 *

Bigears using sewergrate1.gd.uglytruth.org [517.625.8.181] Goldendown Shadowdwellers

Bigears End of /WHOIS list.

-

[23:29] -> *Bigears* Good morning.

[23:29] <Bigears> Ey. Dya hear?

[23:30] <Angeli> What, exactly?

[23:30] <Bigears> Sylas.

[23:30] <Angeli> ...

[23:30] <Angeli> Where?

[23:31] <Bigears> Sewers. Kine. Two down. Mercs, probably. No IDs on em.

[23:31] <Angeli> Morte.

[23:31] <Angeli> No one showed for Elysium tonight.

[23:31] <Bigears> The kine might have hit again. Taken us all down in one blow.

[23:32] <Angeli> True.

[23:32] <Angeli> There's one person I would have expected to show though.

[23:32] <Angeli> Right, I'm off. Getting hungry, and I have some calls to make.

[23:32] <Angeli> Let me know when you hear something, as always.

[23:34] <Bigears> Right. Cya.

-

Quit

 

OOC:

Voting for Andreas/Venefyxatu.

I hate having to break ties on myself :\

Edited by Mardrax

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"Nosferatu always are the first to die in a war, Lilah..."

 

The Tremere started, looking around herself quickly and reaching for her handbag before recognizing the voice coming from above. She looked up, and sure as day there he was, spread out on the edge of a third-story window ledge, legs dangling out into the open air and arms trailing as if he weren't even conscious. He smiled, but there wasn't much humor in it.

 

"Or in this case, third to die, but it wouldn't be as catchy a saying that way. Now come up here and keep me company, the view is amazing."

 

Lilah sighed briefly and wondered, but a few minutes later found herself sitting upright next to Francis' prone form, and had to admit, however silently, that the view really was amazing.

 

"So you think this is a war, now? A power vacuum, a few deaths, yes, but nothing I'd call a war."

 

He shook his head, rolling over and nearly toppling over the side of the building in the process.

 

"There are many ways to wage a war, Lilahspider... force of arms is just the most visible. Notice who's gotten themselves killed so far? Milosh, obviously, prat of a twit of a ponce of a bullfighter, and the Prince at that. An obvious target for destabilizing the city, and it worked, didn't it? And them Simon, poor little upstart Brujah would-be politician, dissenting voice who might have been able to bring a little order to this chaos. And now, the Nosferatu are targetted, information gatherers, servants of Hermes, those who could shed light on the clouding shadows. And who's the most interested in shadows, hmmm?"

 

OOC:

 

Vote for Mardrax / Francesca agin! Woohoo! (I'm so gonna die. ;.;)

Edited by Finnius

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In between his rituals Andreas got lost in thought again, even though he knew how important it was to mainain focussed.

 

All of us must have at least some influences with the Kine - the Ventrue twice as many as all of us together if the stereotypes are anything to go by. Still, one contact would be enough to cause all this, if it was the right one. No help there ...

 

When one of his wraiths almost got him, Andreas chided himself for not paying attention. After demonstrating to the wraith exactly why that was a bad idea he decided to quit for the night. Getting himself killed would do no good, though it might start some interesting rumours.

 

Rumours eh? I wonder ... the Kine catching some news about these strange deaths would be bad for the Camarilla's oh-so-precious Masquerade. But if the right rumours were started they'd be no more than a distraction : the Camarilla would be briefly sidetracked trying to cover up, the Sabbat would jump at the opportunity to complicate things even more and the independents such as myself ... well ... they'd have a peaceful night unless they started stirring up trouble themselves.

 

With these thoughts in mind, Andreas started typing up a few memo's and leaving some voice mails.

 

OOC : As do I, my dear Lasombra ;)

Vote for Mardrax/Francesca.

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May 27th, 7 AM

The sun had climbed the sky already. All of our master's kind were fast asleep.

Not us.

We were in the car. Three black SUVs riding in column.

Armored to the point of being tanks without tracks.

Armed to the point of being tanks without tracks.

The house on the hill would be an easy target.

-

She threw the blankets off her in a centuries old reflex.

It was too hot.

Hrm? Too hot. I'm cold to the bone. Have been for ages.

She peaked a drowsy look towards the window.

Fire. Four broken bottles lay between the bed and the window.

Flames were already licking the bedpost.

She jumped up and threw open the door towards the first floor walkway.

An inferno greeted her.

As the morning's numbness subsided to give way to Rötschreck,

she caught a glimpse of the men gathered in the courtyard, through the two story window.

It had always allowed her to see so clearly, and it did for one last time.

Their attire was a telltale sign of whom had set this on her, and just confirmed her earlier suspicion.

She had chosen the worst of allies.

-

[7:16] * Angeli has quit IRC (Ping timeout for Angeli[517.624.2.142])

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After the death of Victoria Rowan, it had only been natural for Billi Zane to have become the Ventrue candidate for becoming the prince of Goldendown. He had just had a lengthy talk with the Toreador primogen of the city and it seemed that he had a reasonable chance of securing his vote. The Toreador had been unable to find a suitable candidate after the death of their prince.

 

As Billi walked home, he was accosted by two young female students. He was just about to prepare himself for food, when one of them spoke:

 

"Let's eat him! I'm still hungry!" Only then was the blood on their clothes and around their mouthes apparent.

 

"Who's your sire?" Billi asked.

 

"We don't know," came the reply. "You're vampire also?" they asked.

 

"Yes," Billi replied in disgust. Sireless vampires were a sure sign of the chaos left by the death of the prince. The two girls had been sired by a Brujah by their looks. Those lowly Brujah, unable to contain themselves...

 

Billi pushed through them and continued walking on without another word. Three blocks later he found an opera singer and had the most tasty meal he had had in several months. It was a fitting last meal.

 

As Billi was sinking in his fangs, another vampire across the city was delivering a note to an anonymous letterbox.

 

Billi Zane

Ventrue

3 Northern Square

in the tower suite

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Setting foot on the Vylenard gardens by night was quite a surprise, Osidian found himself surrounded by the scent of the night flowers and was greeted by the chill touch of night.

 

Another night, yet another night, another restless night he thought while gazing at the emptiness of the dark in front of him.

 

Stepping further into the walkway, the narrowing path ended in a balcony with a sight over the night city. Sitting on the large granite bench, Osidian stared blankly into the open.

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In the second floor of an apartment building, a body tumbles out of bed, gets itself tangled in the power cord of a cheap lamp, drags said lamp to the floor, then swears as it stands and cuts its foot on a piece of shattered lightbulb. The body takes a moment to sit on the edge of the bed, plucking the glass out and waiting for the wound to close, then stumbles into the bathroom and stares into the mirror.

 

Volunteers are soon forgotten, and many more of us shall die...

 

The body brushes its teeth, gargles, then spits red liquid into the sink. Cinnamon Listerine, not blood. The body reaches into its mouth, fiddling around for a moment before coming out with a tooth - black around the top and cracked at the bottom. Something crunchy last night?

 

The sick still feed the hungry, and the last battle song has cried...

 

It stands under the shower, hot water only, until the dirt has scoured off its frame, then lets its mouth fill, feeling the ache where the tooth used to be and wondering if sticking it back in would hurt even more.

 

Ah, but if there's a reason... I don't need to know right now.

 

The shower turns itself off, with only a little help from a hand that may or may not be guided by nerves connected, at some point, to a brain. The brain decides it's had enough of this and exerts itself back on the world, and the body falls away.

 

And the light...

 

Francis steps out of the shower, and towels himself off.

 

Of a fading star...

 

He moves back into the apartment, shutting off the radio by the bedstand.

 

Is what you were... is what you are...

 

Clothes are put on at some point, though he can't really say what point that is, and he pauses to listen to his messages. There's another one dead tonight, even though the pretender's gone. Well, that only makes sense. One agent is fine, but there's got to be an even number, in case one of them fails.

 

Like the glow... that christens the moon...

 

And a Ventrue, at that. They've shut down the communications, stifled voices of reason, and now the pillars. Francis smiles, almost shyly, and admits to himself that at least they're being smart about it.

 

You shone too soon, you shone too soon.

 

But enough of that. The radio's off, so there's no reason to sing along.

 

***

 

A few hours later found Francis climbing over the wall of the Vylenard gardens, why? Because they were there, that's why.

 

Besides, the inside of the gardens was much more interesting than the outside. The shadows reached out, and Francis let them surround him, embrace him. He moved through the paths, stopping occasionally to smell the roses, and then spied a large granite bench with a large granite statue on it. Or maybe it was just a man that looked like a statue.

 

He grinned slightly and silently tip-toed behind the statue-man, placing his hands over his eyes.

 

"Guess who?"

 

The reaction was instant and... strangely painful. Osidian twisted, propelling the smaller man over his shoulder and wrenching Francis' arm out of its socket. An eyeblink later and a knee fell into the Malkavian's ribcage. There was a satisfying crack and Francis coughed heavily, Cinnamon Listerine trailing out of his mouth. Osidian paused, eye-to-eye with a slight, scraggly-haired man, still with wet hair from his shower, and grunted.

 

"Not many sneak up on me. It's dangerous."

 

"Oh... hack I hadn't realised. How... gurgle Silly of me." Francis made to roll out from under Osidian's grip, and found himself caught.

 

"Not so fast, there. What do you want?"

 

"A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and maybe a nice pair of gloves like you have. Oh, right, and the sky to be blue, not black."

 

Osidian finally let him up, and Francis pushed himself onto the bench, holding his chest and squirming uncomfortably.

 

"Is that all, then? Lilah thinks you're fractured, a poor maniac who occasionally has insights that he doesn't even realize. I think she's wrong. I think you're smarter than you let on, less cracked than you pretend to be."

 

"It's all the metaphors, people never do look past them." There was a stiff pop as Francis shoved his arm back in its socket. "But every once in a great while you find someone who gets it. Unfortunately, you're not that one."

 

"Oh really?"

 

"Yup. You think I'm playing the field, don't you? That I spoke out against Francesca not because I saw her as a threat to my oh so precious Camarilla but because I saw her as a threat to my taking of Praxis?" He shrugged, then there was another snap as he forced a rib back into place. "You're wrong. I don't really care about being Prince, it's a damn lot of work and too high-profile anyway."

 

Osidian nodded slowly.

 

"So... why did you, then?"

 

"Because it had to be done. Numbers, remember? Three good murders, three bad ones. We're up to four, five if you count Milosh. Besides, if she hadn't been one, I would have. Dog eat dog eat dog eat vampire world out there, isn't it? But you know about that... you know all about playing the field, not one, not two, but three sides at once. Halfway to a cube, you are. The real question isn't what I want, but you're doing here... Oh, I remember, meeting Lilah, protection for the Tremere, loyal guardian and all. I don't entirely buy that, though."

 

"Then what do you think I'm doing here?"

 

"I think your hands are darker with blood than mine, and that's the way you like it. But enough about that." He turned, smiling brightly and waving. "Lilahspider, stop lurking and come over! At least if you're going to listen in, you can do it to our faces."

 

Francis punched Osidian playfully in the shoulder and popped his last rib back into place with an audible snap, stepping forward to meet her halfway, and falling into step behind her as she moved towards the bench. Oh yes, now it made sense.

 

OOC:

A vote for Mith/Osidian! Assamite or Assa-ssassin? Dun dun duuuuuuun!

 

Edit - fixed the lyrics in the first half, which, for the curious, are from The Light of a Fading Star, by Flogging Molly.

Edited by Finnius

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The night was chill, and Lilah felt the soft breeze in her arms. She looked at the waning moon, but a couple days from full. She didn't feel hungry, and her steps seemed without purpose as her feet took her in the direction of the garden. The night flowers made her smile, memories from long past peeking from around old corners in her mind.

 

I remember this scent... odd how they come to me now.

 

The girl who had been Lilah Lestrand looked at the night through the eyes of the vampire. Old mischief was there, for a moment remembering nights spent roaming the streets leading away from the boarding school, remembering the strange and fascinating night creatures she had met. The face of her Sire appeared, and her smile wavered - she still couldn't say whether she was thrilled or afraid at the moment of the Embrace. But she knew, as she had known them, that the night call had been always strong in her. And not only metaphorically - the night, the lure of mystery, had always been around her since she remembered life.

 

Or unlife.

 

She turned yet another corner, passed a gate, took a twisting path through bushes and low trees, and finally emerged at the Vylenard gardens. Her heightened senses told her there were Kindred in there, and a second later she knew they were Francis and Osidian. And they were fighting.

 

Francis? I knew Osidian would be here, but what is that Malk doing here? Attacking an Assamite?

 

She could see the shadowy figures, and it was over before she could even think of rushing in aid.

 

But... aiding who? I've known them both for long, worked with them both, talked to them both. One might be Assamite, but the other is insane... how much insane?

 

She picked the words. She couldn't avoid an amused curling up of lips listening to Osidian teling Francis what she thought of him.

 

'Lilah thinks you're fractured, a poor maniac who occasionally has insights that he doesn't even realize. I think she's wrong. I think you're smarter than you let on, less cracked than you pretend to be."

 

Fractured doesn't always mean poor or defective, dear Assamite... fractured crystal sometimes can give the most beautiful of lights. And of course Francis is smarter than he seems... were he not, he would have been gone by now. Lilah used the shadows to remain hidden, following their conversation. And as always, Francis' ravings triggered some warning signals in her own mind.

 

"I think your hands are darker with blood than mine, and that's the way you like it."

 

She frowned, something nagging at her, but then Francis was waving to her. "Lilahspider, stop lurking and come over! At least if you're going to listen in, you can do it to our faces."

 

Without bothering to conceal her presence and how long she had been there, Lilah joined her kin. Francis came to meet her halway through, and the popping noise of the last rib he put in place made her grimace. She looked at him, frowning.

 

"Have you really tried to sneak upon an Assamite, Francis?"

 

She didn't play much attention to the answer, part of her mind trying to pin down what in Francis' words a minute before had set off the warning in her brain, another part trying to scan Osidian's aura.

 

He hides it too well... aggressive, maybe suspicious, but I can't really say...

 

 

~~~~~~~~

OOC: will come back later today with a vote :)

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The black Mercedes drove by the entrance to the Vylenard gardens. A few minutes later it drove by again and pulled into a parking spot. The driver waited a few moments for a few passers-by to go around a corner before getting out; someone wearing gloves and a long black coat with the hood up would draw suspicion on a night that was merely chilly. Especially if someone would notice the sunglasses under the hood.

 

Andreas entered the gardens through the gate, since it was never locked anyway. He'd had a feeling something was going to happen here tonight since he woke up and decided to give in to it. After all, if you're undead and have spoken with the dead, you learn not to cast those feelings aside lightly.

 

He made no attempt to hide his presence, his shoes clicking on one of the paths going through the gardens. As such, the three Kindred already present there weren't surprised to see him show up.

 

"Sneaking up on an Assamite? Only a Malkavian would be able to come up with a reason for that."

 

There was a hint of a smile in his gentle, alluring voice when he said that and joined the others.

 

OOC : If a Malk can come up with a reason for sneaking up on an Assa-ssassin-mite, he'll probably be able to come up with a reason for voting on him too ;)

Vote for Mithrandin / Osidian

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Lilah turned to the Giovanni, raising an eyebrow. Francis just smiled to both of them, and she turned to Osidian. Their long association came to her mind, and she recalled some of the contracts. Protection in one way or another, perfect for an Assamite Assassin.

 

Then it struck her - what Francis said that was nagging at her mind.

 

"I think your hands are darker with blood than mine, and that's the way you like it.".

 

Dark hands. Black Hands.

 

 

She faced Osidian. Would he be one of them?

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Osidian turned to meet Andreas with surprise.

 

“Hmm, seems I failed to do my work for Mr. Vylenard this garden in more crowded then the downtown plaza.”

 

Turning is back facing the city night lights, Osidian made clear his mind. Luckily, any Sabbat working behind enemy lines is never offguard.

 

Osidian then faced Francis calmly. “You have a clear mind more clear then anyone realizes, actually. Who would want to take the prince spot, actually I wouldn’t also”

 

“My work here is done Ms Lilah, I can’t say it was a pleasure doing business with you but one always learns with mistakes” he smiled with a wink.”

 

Turning his back on the three, Osidian, took some steps toward the balcony.

 

“Oh my hand, yes they are quite black, blood, blood of many of our kin, and countless humans. Just be careful, for your own blood may come to stain them someday”

 

With this words, Osidian jumped into the night with a short leap, leaving the other looking at each other.

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Sorry for the delay - and thanks to Vene, Finnius, and Mithrandin who wrote all this with me :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Andreas looked at the spot where Osidian had been only moments before. "I believe we'd better watch our backs even more from now on ..."

 

Lilah smiled coldly, her eyes also on the spot where Osidian had jumped from. "That won't be necessary anymore. Goldendown will be safe again. " She turned to Francis, her eyes piercing through his bland smile. "What are you doing here, Francis?"

 

"I was having a talk... that's all." Francis stepped around, keeping Lilah in front of him and peering out at the Giovanni with wide, unblinking eyes, and when he spoke again it was in a very small, quiet voice. "I didn't know you talked to ghosts..."

 

Lilah patted Francis' arm soothingly and motioned to the other man.

 

"Francis, have you met Andreas Giovanni? He's not a ghost, I promise - just a necrophilliac."

 

Francis shook his head and tried to make himself even smaller behind the Tremere, only the top half of his head peering out from behind her back.

 

"No, not him... I'm not daft, Lilah, just mad... around him. Look, they're... all over him... like bees. Lilah, I don't think you should be trusting this one, he's a snake."

 

Andreas smiled thinly, interrupting Lilah and Francis. "It never hurts to be careful ... Still, this might mean that the town is going to quiet down again, though."

 

She nodded slowly, weighing Andreas. "Maybe. Now, Andreas... what is it that you want? You should not have been here."

 

"The simple fact that I am here tells me that this is where I was supposed to be. What I want? For the Camarilla to either get out of this town, or for it to grant me and the other Giovanni who reside here at this moment the freedom to operate here."

 

"Camarilla out?" She laughed dryly. "You're as insane as Francis, Andreas. We are here to stay, and you are with us whether you know it or not. Tell me why I should not just silence you?"

 

Andreas smiled again. "Do you really think I would go anywhere without protection? Be it supernatural, mortal, or ...," he paused briefly to give the next word some more weight, "holy?"

 

Lilah turned her back to the balcony, just seeming casual as she nodded to Andreas. Half of her mind was on what her heightened senses were telling her - making sure there were no unwanted eyes and ears nearby.

 

Andreas continued in a more forceful way. "You might consider me to be a member of your club, and we could argue about that all night, but that's not going to get either one of us any further. What we should be discussing here is who is going to lead the Goldendown Camarilla now, and exactly how they are going to leave us in peace. Once we figure that out, we can start thinking about how my presence here might actually benefit you."

 

"Lets then first discuss how your presence benefits us, Giovanni. Then we can see what you understand by 'leaving you in peace'. Or would it be at peace?" Lilah apparently relaxed, but her mind was ready to call upon her thaumaturgic powers if it needed be.

 

Andreas laughed softly.

 

"It sounds like we both know who will take leadership of the Camarilla upon herself here ...as for the benefits ... On our part : we live here. We do our research here. We feed here. Which parts of town we shall limit ourselves to is something we can discuss. The Giovanni mansion and the town graveyard are off-limits to all of you. On your part : We will stay out of the way of the Camarilla. Should you require assistance in the mortal world, our contacts will be at your disposal if they can be useful. How does that sound for starters?"

 

"Poor, Andreas. You will stay out of Camarilla way, period. It's not something you can offer, we will just make sure you do. Your contacts might be useful, but we can have them in other ways. Try harder."

 

Andreas smiled again, "I could, of course, offer to join the Camarilla. But would you really want a Giovanni among you? Believe me, it really is something I can offer. It's quite a good offer, too ..."

 

While Lilah pondered carefully, consulting every information and scrap of information she had on the Giovannis of Goldendown, he studied her carefully. He was quite sure he was going to get something out of this deal, and while it might not be perfect, it would be more than any of the others had accomplished in the last few years.

 

Lilah gathered all the facts of the last days. That Andreas had meddled on Tremere affairs was a sign that the Giovannis could be more dangerous than she had thought. And that this one had gone so far as to betray Kindred to the Society of Leopold to establish a foothold in Goldendown...

 

But then, her mission was to assure that the Goldendown Prince was the Tremere prepared for it. She had done it well, protecting her Lord and assuring that competitors were eliminated. The Giovanni had been a lucky, if unlikely and not completely trusted, ally in that.

 

She nodded slowly, an intense piercing look on Andreas. "A Giovanni in Camarilla? That is almost amusing... it might even be worth it, to see you squirming... But anyway, this is my offer, Andreas... stay in line, and you can continue to enjoy unlife. Give us your oath to uphold the Traditions and abide by them. Let Giovanni sire other blood in Goldendown."

 

Andreas looked at her for a few moments, then burst out in a deep, contagious laughter.

 

"My dear Lilah ... you think it's that easy to make me squirm? But be it as you will... we will swear to uphold these Traditions of yours for the sake of the Camarilla of Goldendown ... including that of Progeny... we could even have a little ceremony to impress the club members if you like. And trust me, that is more than anyone has ever gotten out of a Giovanni."

 

Both grinned, using their years of experience to hide their wariness of each other with ease. Knowing exactly what lay behind the wordings they had used - necessary escape options, but it would have to do for now.

 

 

As Andreas left the garden, Lilah turned to Francis, still standing behind her and peering out at the Giovanni's retreating back.

 

"You're uncharacteristically quiet... what's wrong?"

 

Francis shook his head, clearing it and moving over slowly to sit on the bench.

 

"I don't know... I know you're being careful, but... Lilah, aren't you going to kill me?"

 

She paused, looking mock-confused for a moment, and sat down beside him.

 

"Why would I do a thing like that? Francis, dear, if I wanted to kill you, you know I could, right?"

 

"Probably..."

 

"Right. So there's no need. Milosh, Simon... Francesca... they were ambitious. And besides, it's not like I was the only one that wanted Francesca dead, now is it? But you... you're not. You don't want Praxis, you don't want revenge for any of the killings, as near as I can tell, you don't want anything at all. So why go out of my way?"

 

He shook his head, then threw it back in one quick snap, looking up at the sky.

 

"I thought so. You're still planning to stab me in the back. You just think I'm useful." He gave a small laugh, then stood and dusted off his legs. "But that's how it's always been, hasn't it? Poor deranged Francis, has the Touch and doesn't even know it. Except I do know it, Lilahspider... I know what you're about and I know where that path leads. I hope you get what you're after, I really do. I don't think you will, though."

 

"Really? Why's that?"

 

Francis shook his head, taking a few steps forward. He shoved his hands in his pocket, stopped, and turned.

 

"Nobody ever gets what they want. Not really. That's why I don't want anything. It's silly to be after something you'll never get, and even if you get a little bit, you'll always want more, and you keep trying and trying and struggling and killing yourself a little bit at a time, inside and out, until you're hollow and there's nothing left to hold you together but the support from all the holes in your skin. Just not sane, that isn't." He pulled up a sleeve, checking a watch that wasn't there. "But look at the time. You've got a plane to catch... metaphorically speaking, anyway. Have a good night, Lilahspider, and remember... when you do stab me in the back, I want to see the sun. Anything else would just be cruel."

 

And with that, he left the garden, waving over his shoulder and disappearing from view perhaps a bit sooner than he should have.

 

 

 

 

Hours later, in a plane headed for Prague, a call was received.

 

Making sure no one had followed him, Osidian had made it for a small outskirt aiport where a Sabbat private jet had been waiting for him. Entering the plane Osidian had turned back, looked at the city lights at distance. Oh well, we have time... indeed we do.

 

 

"...Caine's chosen." He killed the line on the cell phone.

 

Keeping the cell in his hand, Osidian looked out the window distractedly. He knew he still had to make one call, but hell, he was feeling like it so much as to drive a wooden stake anywhere near his heart.

 

Slowly he select the name and called.

 

"So how is weather down there, lilly?" Osidian smoothened the anger in his voice, but she would know he was somehow mad, only at that times he would call her lilly...

 

 

"Well, you should think about that before hiring a Sabbat, and the smell doesn't usually bite your nose when you need Sabbat skills"

 

 

"Seems you actually didn't, that Giovanni had some nice connections I was not aware of. You picked the winner side this time, lilly."

 

 

"I just hope you stay there and live happily ever after, have a ... "

 

 

Osidian let himself be interrupted, and a slow frown came to his mind. "... what you mean?"

 

 

"Camarilla's damned politics, heh?" There was a hint of smile, half-feral and half-amused. He shook his head. "Have a good night, lilly. Time will tell."

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The next morning

 

Father Jones' back hurt like hell that morning. He had slept in an uncomfortable position and the strain his aged muscles had picked up killing all those vampires during the last couple of days showed. He was just having his morning coffee, when Brother Stevens brought that morning's post in.

 

"There's a letter from the gas company and a package with a letter attached to it, doesn't give a sender."

 

"Give me the letter and open that package," Father Jones told him between two sips of coffee.

 

With a butter knife he cut the letter open and took a sheet of expensive paper out.

 

Thank you for your services. They have been very useful.

The Camarilla

 

"The box! Stop open-"

 

 

 

Fatal gas explosion in Goldendown

 

 

Last night, in an upperclass home in the peaceful city of Goldendown, in an apparent explosion, seven people were burnt to death. Authorities are still investigating the causes of the explosion but so far it is being put down to a leaky gas pipe.

 

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