The swift hand of time snatches the evening away from the party while it still feels young. But alas, Sol's march is endless and unforgiving. There is, however, always the hope of one more night...
At precisely 5:58, just as most respectable folks are sitting down to dinner, there comes a knock on the door at 78 Perry.
Standing on the stoop, a young man has been tasked with delivering a simple message. He cuts a striking figure, a platinum blond wearing an ornately embroidered Mandarin jacket. He eyes the flowers at the height of their spring bloom in windowboxes. (Lovely condition. Beautiful color.)
I open the door and regard this interloping dandy with a speculative expression. "How may I help you?"
"I'm here on behalf of a shared contact - a very very old man. I won't be long, just here to deliver a message. May I come in?"
"Ah. Yes, come this way." I lead the messenger into one of the sittings rooms on the first floor. "Have a seat."
"I'm Cedric. I'm...one of the old man's understudies. I hope I'm not interrupting anything. Just wanted to give you this." He unpins a flap of his jacket and removes a small folded piece of paper. It's a MapQuest printout with a few points of interest denoted by blue ballpoint pen, folded into fourths and slightly wrinkled from its journey.
"I recognize the map when I see it. It's a map of Trelaine's cathedral district. I see you and the old man had plenty to talk about. Trelaine...Killed my Master, tortured my friend. I've got more than a few reasons why I'd like to see him wiped off the face of the Earth."
"Indeed, Monday night was quite eventful. Yes, well, Vlad made a strong case for that, and I'm happy to help my old friend in any way I can."
"Can you drink tea? I might have something...stronger as well, if required."
"Tea would be great, thank you." Cedric doesn't know what he expected. The only mage he'd spent much time with was the Matron and she was a bit unabashed about her magical heritage when it came to decorating. Who else still used candles in this year? But there is something comfortable about the presence of magical influence.
Davian's home is tidy and somehow...austere.
"How do you and Vlad know each other?"
I wave my hand and a silver tea set appears, complete with scones, petit fours, sugar, milk...etc. "Vlad and I fought together in the world wars, when I moved to the States in 45, NYC seemed the natural choice".
"I helped him acquire the property for the Blue Velvet".
"Wow so the two of you go way back. I've been running with the old man for about twenty years give or take. Hard to believe it's been that long but time flies."
"Yeah he didn't tell me much but let me know you made it over for the re- inauguration. Heard you guys ran into one of the Camarilla goons. Woulda loved to have given him a piece of my mind."
He pauses, contemplating the fine china.
I smirk at 'time flies'. "Hassan. He almost got a good piece of mine, but my respect for Vlad's rules kept things from turning messy."
"He respects their hope for Elysium. Wants to make our places of peace count among their holdings. Thankfully the old man is stubborn."
Cedric continues to admire the teacup in his hand. "This is pretty impressive. I...never had much of a head for conjuration."
"Transfiguration was easier. At least you started with something. And often you could come up with some kind of connection between the two objects. But conjuration? Guess I'll just leave that one to you."
"It'll be nice to have a mage as part of our entourage again. The last mage we had in our court was the Matron but she came with her own complications."
He pauses a moment to answer the question left in the air. "I was promised, once, when I was younger, that I'd be like you. By the Matron herself. And everything was going fine until the accident."
He flips his air absently. "But enough about me. I have a favor to ask you."
"Just a matter of integrating Prime" I pause, sympathy blooming on my face: "I'm so sorry my boy. Wait, Matron, you mean Myrtle Marscapone?"
"Yeah, I always call her that. I wasn't one of the orphans but it always seemed natural to give her a title."
"Belief was always a big hurdle for me. See, I grew up thinking I was just really lucky. I could do tricks with cards and dice and shit. It wasn't until the Matron found me that I realized I was anything more than just really lucky. She taught me a few tricks and transmutations but in the back of my head I always felt like I was living in a dream world. Like, 'No, none of this is real.' It always held me back." Cedric takes a small sip of the tea.
"'Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds'. If you don't mind my asking, 'accident'?"
"I had my magic taken from me. I got out with my life but at what cost?"
"My classmate hit me with her car."
"It didn't end up being that big of a deal as here I am, not suffering True Death."
"Anyway, you're able to look back into the past, right? Even if the person in question doesn't know something themselves."
'Not a big deal' "I can view the past and share those images with others; and I don't need personal experience, just general information."
"I have a friend who doesn't know who her sire is. I don't have any way to help her but maybe you can."
"Alright; did you bring anything that belonged to her, or a lock of hair...etc?"
"Not on me, no. I'll introduce you sometime. It might be good to involve the family."
"Ah. Of course, I am happy to help a friend of the 'Old Man'. I bet he loves that nickname, doesn't he?"
"Can't change a man's name. I think he secretly likes it. He's a sucker for honorifics."
"Fair enough. Please give him my best when you see him, and tell him I am looking forward to having him here on Friday. Say, you're more than welcome to attend as well, Friday at 7pm. I promise you have never been to a party like this before."
"Sure, here's my card in case you need anything." Cedric hands Davian a business card printed in color. It has his name and phone number.
"I can talk to my partner and see if he's interested in bringing some plasma fruit."
"Wonderful, thank you, I am most intrigued." I rise and walk Cedric to the door. "No dress code, come as you wish."
"Sounds great." And the man leaves through the front door and disappears into the street. He feels no small amount of regret, wondering whether opening up questions about the Zhou family's origins won't end up being a Pandora's Box.
A child vampire had enough obstacles on her plate without dredging up the past.
But it would make her happy.
I close the door after watching the strange 'vampire' stride off into the sunlight. I must ask Straud about this one, perhaps he can assist me in my research
The sun's rays continue to lengthen as the sky becomes rosy and day threatens to turn into night. Chiasa has nearly finished her regeneration and as the sun continues to set, so will she rise.
The sun is just touching the horizon when Chiasa begins to stir. For a brief moment I am disoriented, then memory returns: Davian's I sit up, the sheets (finest 22mm grade A silk) slither off my cool skin as I stand and dress.
Now suitably attired (skintight black wool pants with calf-high boots and a pearl-colored silk blouse) I make my way upstairs to see if Davian is home.
The setting sun casts dark shadows across the rooms as I quietly move from room to room, eventually finding Davian sitting alone in front of a lavish High Tea spread, nibbling on a petite four and staring into the crackling fire.
"Morning Dav, having a late Tea?"
I smile and turn, taking a moment to admire her beauty. "'Morning." I look down at the petite four and tea service. "Somewhat. A friend of Vlad's stopped by to deliver a map of that evil-emo-vampire's compound. I left his card on the table by the door".
"Quite an interesting fellow. He seemed to share some of your ahem concerns, but was walking outside during the day! I speculate that this might be due to his former status as a Mage, but more research is needed."
"A Daywalker? I have heard stories, but nothing more: Spooky Ghost Stories for Kindred." I walk over and take a brief look at the card before placing it back onto the mahogany side-table. "Cedric Diggory, do I know that name from somewhere? Anyway, speaking of my 'concerns' I need to go out tonight. It's been a few days".
I finish the petite four and stand, waving my hand to dissolve the Tea Set.
"Ah. I was wondering if you might need a Girl's Night soon. I will take this opportunity to finalize preparations for the Party Ritual." Walking over to the foyer, I open the Coat Closet and remove a stylish black hooded overcoat and hand it to Chiasa.
"This will protect you against rain, wind, and sunlight, if needed."
I take the coat and use the opportunity to lean in for a quick kiss. "Thanks Dav, don't wait up. I mean it."
I open the door to a world of dark shadows and she slips into the night and disappears. "Happy Hunting."
As the sun begins to hide itself behind Earth's curvature, life begins to suffuse the streets. Small clusters of people walk by heedlessly, most engaged in some sort of chatter. Even those that aren't accompanied are talking to an unseen body through a cellphone.
The West Village has no shortage of targets, but there are considerable obstacles to every approach. It is nothing you're not accustomed to, however.
Perry is a residential street, and as such places of interest are located on intersections and larger exchanges. Your nearest corner is a quiet one for the evening with mostly clothing stores and a furniture shop, mostly closed or closing for the evening. There is a coffee shop and a frozen yogurt shop that is barely more than a kiosk. Bleeker Street is located just catty corner from Davian's home, and the numerous clubs around Christopher Street are just a short walk away.
I walk the streets for an hour or so, getting the lay of the land and exploring the little details. After I feel comfortable with my knowledge, I head to Smalls Jazz Club.
The club has a generous presence on the street, with well over a dozen leather chairs set up on the sidewalk. There are large planters for tall bushes granting privacy to the tables. Waiters and waitresses shuttle between tables. From inside comes the sound of music.
I follow the music inside, looking for a seat in a dark corner, or for the VIP section, if it exists.
The VIP section, a nondescript area next to the stage, contains two parties at two large booths. Two of the booths are empty. The first booth contains two couples and the second booth contains two men.
The music is in full-force but the volume doesn't bother you -- you're used to being bombarded with sound waves echoing off walls in enclosed spaces.
I walk past the booths, giving the occupants a lingering glance before sitting in one of the unoccupied spaces. Safely ensconced, I take a careful look around the room, keeping an eye out for any signs of someone in pain or illness.
"What are you doing here then?"
"I just want to feel normal for one night."
"Fine, music only. No drinking."
"Really no drinking?"
"Really no drinking."
Dribs and drabs of the conversation between the two men in the booth next to you drift through the air.
Intrigued, I stand up and approach their booth. "Good evening Gentlemen, I was hoping you might have room for one more?"
"Oh...uh...sure...!" The man picks up his messenger bag and moves it underneath the table while the pair both scoot over to allow her room.
She's ravishingly beautiful; anyone who might have caught her attention wonders, 'Why me? Am I worthy?'
"I'm Stephen and this is my friend Wesley. We're not having any drinks tonight, just enjoying the music; I hope that won't impinge on your evening."
I demurely take a seat next to the man who said 'I just want to feel normal', inching just a little closer to him than propriety might normally dictate.
"That's fine with me, I don't drink Alcohol." (big smile). "So, Stephen & Wesley, are you dedicated Jazz fans or just here to explore?"
Wesley, the man Chiasa is sitting next to, pipes up. "I've been coming here since I moved to the neighborhood in '08. Stephen, here, is comparatively new. We met here at the club in...what year was it, Steve?"
"My gran-dad raised me on jazz and the blues."
They are trying their best to be friendly, and raise a little small-talk, ask Chiasa where she's from, what she does, etc (You can decide whether you answer truthfully or with fibs) but there still seems to be a bit of an elephant in the room. You assume it's related to what they were discussing prior to your arrival.
They are fairly ordinary looking men -- you guess by their appearance that they're in their forties although it's a fairly easy looking forty. Stephen sports a scruffy micro-beard that ages him up a little. Wesley has bright green eyes that give him a youthful appearance that defies the tiny lines at the corner of his eyes.
"So was your Grandpa an Armstrong or Coltrane fan?"
"I was born in Tokyo, but have lived all over. I'm a musician. You?"
As we talk I attempt to put the men at ease (laughing at their jokes, being solicitous...etc. Rolling Charisma+Empathy).
"Coltrane all the way. He was a big saxophone fan. Could play a little bit, but was always too embarrassed to let me hear him play. It's..."
Wesley starts to stutter a bit, caught on words and memory. Stephen talks, trying to take the focus off his friend.
"Tokyo, huh? Never been but I hear it's a dazzling city."
Wesley tries to cover up his fumble. "I work for Grubhub doing back-end work. Nothing exciting, but there is always free food."
The music continues to play. You find the pianist to be especially talented.
"Coltrane was one of the greats. I listen to Love Supreme every Valentine's Day to remember him."
"Oh it is! I know it's Cliche, but you must go for the Sakura festival."
"Grubhub? How neat, I enjoy it when my food delivers itself."
As the pianist plays, I become a bit sidetracked and point out the notable flourishes to the two men.
As the hours pass, I begin to flirt lightly with Wesley, attempting to bring him out of his shell by asking increasingly personal questions, always sensitive to his reactions so I don't push too fast.
The two laugh genuinely at Chiasa's jokes; the mood of the table has lifted from its previous depression. And yet, you notice very obviously that neither man mentions a wife (or husband for that matter). Wesley is open to your flirtations and never seems to place you at arm's length. (It's a good thing, too, since the night is wearing on.)
"Let's say we get some tapas to nosh on while we enjoy the evening, ey you two?" Stephen isn't drinking but he has a bombastic spirit.
Wesley concurs. "Their sampler plate is where it's at."
"I'm not that hungry but I'll have a few bites; sampler plate it is." I motion discreetly to the waitress.
A thin woman with a thick braid approaches the table. She offers the daily special but it's a dinner plate of fish. Wesley refuses. They order the sampler as well as a smattering of sliced meats.
Soon the waitress is gone.
"What instrument do you play?" Stephen asks Chiasa.
"A few. My first instrument was the cello. I compose, so you need to know a little of everything".
I proceed into a passionate review of basic music theory, hoping also to distract the men from the fact that I eat only a few bites of food.
The night wears on. The rapport established between the parties is palpable; or at least it seems so to Stephen and Wesley. They are suitably enraptured by the vampire; they've each refrained from spouting their life stories but they've shared a number of commentaries that made it seem like they were drinking.
It must be something in the air.
All too soon, the musicians are packing up and the ambiance changes to recordings. Other patrons have already left and newcomers have ceased filing into the establishment.
"Well, Stephen, you're headed back to the homestead, right?" Wesley asks somewhat formulaically.
Stephen hums agreement.
As the two begin to gather their things, I lean over and whisper into Wesley's ear "I'm not quite ready to end the night, perhaps I could have some coffee at your place?" (rolling seduction)
"You're...more than welcome. Although I'll warn you in advance, all I've got is a Keurig."
The three file out of the club, taking their jackets with them. Stephen says goodbye and you're fairly confident you see the man throw a wink at Wesley when he thinks you're not looking.
"Nice jacket, by the way."
Wesley lives not too far from the jazz club, an easily walkable distance.
"Promise me you won't judge me for my bachelor pad. I don't get company all that often."
I entwine my arm with Wesley as we leave the club, enjoying the late-night hush.
"Why thank you, it's custom-made."
"Oh, don't worry, my place looks like a dungeon".
As we enter his apartment and get settled, I begin to ask more personal questions, gently probing at the issue I overheard earlier.
"Oh...Well I guess there's no reason to keep it a secret. I have been diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. Doc says I've got about five or ten years, 'Thankfully', he says, 'We caught it early'."
"I was getting one of those full metabolic panels and they discovered my liver function was impaired. What a shock."
"I mean, the only solace I have is that I never married, it's just me and my job, so I don't have to leave anyone behind."
"It must be terrible living with this sword of Damocles over your head." I take his hand and sit him down on the couch, slowly escalating the affection. "I have always thought we should live as if there is no tomorrow".
I give him the night of his life, ensuring that he is sleeping peacefully by 2-3am. After taking a shower and removing all trace of my occupation, I lean over and gently Embrace him, covering his body with the sheets afterward.
"Sweet dreams Wesley."
Wesley has indeed had the night of his life -- you've made quite the impression to the single web developer that he never expected walking into Smalls Jazz Club.
Do you/Have you left a phone number, business card? Did you tell the guys about the time/date of your next show?
Recover 1 + 1d4 blood points.
I leave a business card "Izanami" with my trademark ferocious Noh demon mask in electric pink.
Feeling morally satisfied by otherwise hungry, I decide to be a little less discerning and head to Washington Square park.
Flitting through the late night shadows, I am silently furious with myself for wasting so much time charming Wesley. Only here a few days and Davian is making me soft. Entering the park, I start prowling, looking for another meal. (rolling stealth)
In the cool night air, streetlamps light the park, revealing the most destitute members of the city. A man lies huddled in a blanket on a bench, suggesting it's been some time since a member of the police has made their rounds. His few belongings are stuffed into a stained backpack, now being used as a makeshift pillow.
I pause momentarily to observe the wretch, reflecting on the vicissitudes of life as a momentary twinge sympathy passes through me; this man has been preyed on for most of his life, how unfortunate it must end that way as well Then a spasm of hunger passes through me and my resolve hardens. Perhaps it is better this way, he will no longer suffer With that, I lean in and drain the tramp.
Recover 10 blood points
Deed now complete, you sense the impending sunrise. It is now time to return to Davian's home and prepare to rest over the coming day.
My reserve now full, I retire to Davian's basement, taking care to be as silent as possible when I enter the townhouse.