Roleplay City

Infusco => INFUSCO: Enter The Shadows => Temple of Shang-Ti => Topic started by: Malkavian Riddler on July 22, 2019, 11:04:24 AM

Title: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 22, 2019, 11:04:24 AM
LAN BAO EXTENDED AN INVITATION to Jake McCloud some nights after Ben Samson came to see her. She'd done as promised, she'd considered the young vampire's proposal. She had an idea of what working with him would be like. Bao liked that he'd come to her but didn't like that he'd felt the need to point it out. She liked that he'd trusted her so completely he'd tried to drink something that wasn't blood - ignorant, but charming. She wouldn't hold it against McCloud if he refused to drink the tea.

Because the weather was unkind on this night, hammering the gardens with wind and rain, she arranged for Jake McCloud to meet with her in the teahouse; an enclosed room with low furniture. Nobody else was in the gardens on this night, and only Qui Min stood nearby, every now and then her gaze falling to Lan Bao, who wore a long golden gown with pink butterflies and cherry blossoms woven into it.

"He's here," Bao stated, feeling Jake McCloud's presence on her territory.

Qui Min hurried to greet Jake and to bring him to the teahouse. She held a large bright red umbrella in her hands and would offer Jake use it if he didn't have his own. Together they arrived at the teahouse and Qui Min bowed to him while opening the door for him to enter the teahouse and meet with Lan Bao, who was standing regally to greet him.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 22, 2019, 05:00:07 PM
Jake was disappointed it had rained. He'd heard of Lan Bao's beautiful gardens, and it had been since Charon that he'd seen good nature. He was an urban creature at heart, but had an appreciation for living, natural things. He'd brought his own umbrella, black of course, but had also worn a heavy wool jacket with a faux-fur collar and hood. It was a size too big, and ate his small frame, but looked good despite the terrible weather. He hadn't bothered to do his hair because of the weather, and so it was slightly untidy on his head as he politely declined Qui Min's umbrella, and following her with a warm look to the tea house. When she bowed, he nodded his thanks and went through the door.

This was a meeting Jake had wanted for some time, and so he was intrigued when the dragon of Chinatown had summoned him. He took off his oversize jumper to reveal a simple black button up, with black jeans. It was Black Prince light, and he was glad he hadn't gone for the full suit. The blood ring sat on his right index finger. As Jake first looked upon the leader, he found her regal indeed, and while he didn't think she would be ugly to look at, he wasn't prepared for how beautiful she was. He made no attempt to speak her language, and had brought her no gifts. He bowed though, and began the conversation.

"Thank you for inviting me into your territory and home," he said. He didn't offer his name. She already knew it.

"I'll have to return on a night when I can properly see your gardens, if you'll have me of course."

He was going for politeness mostly, but didn't mind showing a bit of true warmth as he let her form her first impression. He'd chosen to use the word territory strategically, and he wondered if she'd notice.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 22, 2019, 05:21:11 PM
Qui Min had spoken impeccable English to Jake but Lan Bao's, while formal and technically correct, pronounced words with the slant of someone who hadn't lost their Chinese sounds. She cut her words a little short and stressed words in unusual places, but other than that her use of the language was impeccable.

"You are most welcome. The gardens are made public for everyone to enjoy," she replied then gestured at the low settee nearest them. "Please, sit," she offered, moving to the chair and lowering herself onto it at around the same time he did.

She didn't miss the use of the word 'territory' and was pleased that he considered it hers. She was not pleased at the jab that she would rudely keep the gardens to herself. The gardens were home to a temple, and temples and churches were not about exclusion, but to welcome one and all. It would upset her chi to lock it away for herself.

She noticed the ring upon his finger, the large amethyst jewel that her people had told her about. Everyone knew it had belonged to the dragon slayer. Now it belonged to him
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 23, 2019, 06:04:19 AM
Jake took the offered seat, and nodded politely as Lan Bao explained the public status of the gardens. He treated the information carefully, unsure as to why she’d explained. He crossed his legs and sat up very straight as he eyed his companion. What did she want with him?

“I wonder if I owe you an apology or not,” he said, sounding cryptic. “Do I?”
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 23, 2019, 09:42:49 AM
Lan Bao gave him an assessing look, wondering what he thought he had to apologise for. She shared with him the most pressing insult. "I will accept an apology for you not coming here sooner," she said, tipping her head towards him. "Your campaign rival was quick to visit, and to offer a proposition."

She wasn't interested in making small talk with Jake McCloud. She'd summoned him here so they would get to the point quickly. Even if he'd visited out of curiosity she would have gone to the trouble of making him feel welcome. In the time he'd been District Leader, though, he'd barely stepped foot in Chinatown, even though it fell under his territorial umbrella. If he'd considered the territory hers though, as he'd implied when they'd first met, he should have respectfully declared this and assigned her a leadership position - much like the disfigured old vampire had done for the witch. He'd chosen to ignore her instead and she wondered if it was because he'd been intimidated or dismissive.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 23, 2019, 10:36:26 AM
“I’m glad you’re willing to accept the apology I’ve come to give,” he stated with a conviction of agreement. He should’ve come sooner. She was very wise to deduce his intentions, that or she had well placed spies. He was also not surprised to hear Ben had come here. Of course the little weasel wanted her support.

“I apologize for not coming here earlier,” Jake said. “I chose not to pursue Chinatown because I knew you already represented its interests and I assumed your people wouldn’t want to be led by a vampire who called himself prince.”

This history was important. Jake had an offer of his own to make.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 23, 2019, 12:34:15 PM
Bao gave a gracious nod at Jake's apology, thinking his excuse for not coming earlier a weak one. Her eyes burnt at his poor justification though her facial expression gave nothing away. Her eyes and words said it all.

"If I had someone working in my territory," she said, using the word he used and stressing it so he would know the word was not her own, "I would want to at least meet with them to find out if interests are aligned. I would want to know if they were a threat or an ally. The Oligarchy mailed me a list of rules when they set up. No personal meeting but at least some acknowledgement. You did not even do that."
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 24, 2019, 05:16:58 AM
Jake hated being talked to like a child, and Lan Bao obviously saw him that way to continue to chastize him after he'd already said he was sorry. Boot licking was also not his best face, but he listened as she explained her reasons for being upset with him. He wanted to tell her phones work two ways, that his district had been very clear about groups within the district coming to the Rabbit to establish themselves, and he assumed she'd wanted her territory undisturbed. He wanted to say those things, but none of them mattered anymore. What was done was done. He also suspected this request for a visit was about more than chewing him out.

"Then I'm lucky to have your wisdom now, so that I don't make similar mistakes in the future," he said diplomatically, not disagreeing with her at all, and also calling her wise at the same time. It felt too practiced and so he added, "I can't make up for past mistakes, but I can try and plot a better future for us."

He wondered what she'd make of that.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 24, 2019, 07:37:36 AM
His 'sorry, but this is why' had irked her enough to unleash on him. The fact he took her reprimand and didn't throw anything back returned her to her state of open acceptance. He'd shown her a facet of leadership with this; patience and composure along with a large helping of diplomacy. It made her feel better about him.

"The future holds potential," she agreed. "Ben Samson sees a future with me as well, but your opposing positions disallow me to work with you both. He is in a position to make promises. You are in a position to take action."

She hadn't told him what Ben had promised her and she wouldn't until her hand was forced. She wanted to know what Jake McCloud would offer with acknowledgement that she knew he could set something up for her immediately.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 24, 2019, 10:38:58 AM
Jake was beginning to regret not meeting Lan Bao sooner. She was a force. Her direct and brief laying out of her situation guided Jake down her path, and while her true wants had yet to be stated, it was clear she wanted something. Jake could respect that immensely. She also understood the largest difference between himself and Ben. Jake had power, real power. Ben was not powerless, as much as Jake would have preferred, but he was not a district leader, and only a district leader could do what he had come here to propose.

"You're right again," he informed her. "I'm not surprised Ben came to you. He was smart to. It's yet another reason for me to regret not already being in contact with you. I have an offer, but before I make it I want to know, what is it you and the people of Chinatown desire? How can this district leader help you?"

It felt like they were playing a game, for Jake a fun game, and he smiled at her near the end, feeling an improvement of mood in the room.

Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 24, 2019, 11:39:18 AM
She nodded agreement that Ben had been clever to recognise what she could do for him, and he'd been wise to offer something in return, though she couldn't have it until he was placed on his seat. Another clever strike for him.

However, there were too many ifs and maybes working with Ben. He knew it but couldn't do anything about it. She knew it and could use it as leverage.

"What I desire and what my people desire are different things. I rule them strictly but benevolently. They believe they want their freedom yet they huddle at my feet for safety. As for you, Mr McCloud, you can help me in many ways. The difference between what you can give and what you are willing to give is where our negotiations will begin. So please tell me, what worth do you put on our alliance?"

Her statement was strong and put Jake in a difficult place - if he offered too little, she would be insulted. If he offered too much, it would strengthen her position at the cost of his own. She wondered what he would be willing to risk; offence or power.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 24, 2019, 11:49:09 AM
"I don't offer you something as simple as an alliance," he said calmly, almost even kindly. "Please don't misunderstand me, I want us to be allies. But that's not all I want for you. Please humor me and accept that I've given this matter a great deal of thought."

He turned closer to her in his seat. "I think that a grave injustice was paid to you when the Oligarchy sent that packet of rules. You represent a unique species, with needs that are not the same as others. Your people are of a sizable number and yourself powerful. You should've been an Oligarch. Then when the districts were made Chinatown was placed within my borders. I paid you an injustice for not naming you District Leader of Chinatown. I want to correct that error. I want to begin the process of establishing Chinatown as an independent district."

He wondered what the mistress of Chinatown would make of that.

Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 24, 2019, 12:06:12 PM
And so here it was, the thing that Ben had been unable to promise because he had no way of ensuring it would happen. This was what she needed to hear from Jake McCloud. He'd been unwilling to risk offending her and had offered her so much more than what she'd expected. He'd focussed on that word - alliance - and believed she meant less than what he'd offered her.

But no, an alliance meant he would have to offer her so much more. She left that word for now but would come back to it later.

"The action of placing Chinatown in its own district would go a long way towards righting initial wrongs," she declared, acknowledging that his suggestion was acceptable. "I wish to know when this process will begin," she said, wondering if he would act immediately or if he would vow to get started once he was elected back into his current role.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 24, 2019, 12:12:50 PM
Jake nodded, and almost applauded Lan Bao's cool performance. He'd just offered her something no one else in the city could offer, at least with the amount of simplicity that he could. She looked like he'd barley given her an opening bid. Was it arrogant? Did he care? He'd come here tonight to make that offer, and no amount of verbal back and forth had altered his purpose. Her next question was a predictable and expected one.

"There is a meeting soon between all the District Leaders," he informed. "With your permission, I was going to bring up the idea there and gain initial reactions. I'm afraid we will need at least some support outside ourselves."

Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 24, 2019, 12:34:18 PM
She thought of Chtahzus'aak and a smile flitted about her mouth without landing and then she nodded once, briefly. Theirs was a relationship that she valued but its strength hadn't yet tested. She'd failed him on one count which she still felt a sharp pang of shame over and now she would request of him his favour. Would he enjoy her rising to his status? Would he assist McCloud in paving the way or would he build a wall? She couldn't know until he was faced with it.

"I have support elsewhere," she said, not wishing to admit that she wasn't sure of it. She suspected her doubts had crept into her voice because she'd run through a few different phrases in her head so her statement hadn't come out as certain as all of the other things she'd said so far. She would meet with others as well. There were always options. "Shoud Chinatown be recognised at the conclusion of your meeting," she stated carefully, "I would consider this to be the righting of all wrongs, both past and present."

Jake McCloud had been an Oligarch after all. He'd been overlooking her for a long time.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 25, 2019, 07:07:58 AM
Jake nodded as she confirmed she had support, and wondered who that might be. Kuei-Jin split the middle of vampires and demons, and so Charon and Zeus were his first two guesses. Then again, Lan Bao was elegant, beautiful and deadly. These were all traits of Zoheret. It could be anyone. Jake heard two things in Lan Bao's reply that gave him pause, and he felt the need to address them both.

"I should be realistic that it may take more than a single meeting," he stated. "However, the reverse of that is, I would like you to be independent before the election. Otherwise it will look like a campaign grab, and it is not. On my honor I will bring it up at the meeting. That is what I can give today, right now."

Independence for Chinatown meant Jake couldn't gain Kuei-Jin votes, but Ben couldn't either. Eliminating the population didn't hurt him, but it could potentially hurt Ben. The second point was harder to reply to, but he felt the need to probe deeper.

"I sense something in your words. Writing of wrongs both past and current slights is of course something I'd like to have from you, but I didn't hear an offer of friendship within that scope. What more do you require of me to earn that?"

He wasn't sure how much more he was prepared to give. This was a sweetheart deal of epic proportions, and despite Lan Bao's cool energy Jake knew that she knew this fact. If she wanted an alliance, and felt raising her to the status of his equal was not enough, he hoped she had something to trade him. Balance was one thing, an ongoing relationship was another.

Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 25, 2019, 09:18:34 AM
Lan Bao's eyes twinkled merrily as Jake proved himself nowhere near as foolish as she'd heard. Bao didn't put too much stock in gossip but she did trust in her reports. Everyone reporting back to her had told her diplomacy was Jake McCloud's weakness, but no further details than that. She hadn't known what to expect. While he was somewhat roughly edged, he wasn't incompetent and she wouldn't mind working with that. The problem was his past actions had put him squarely against Chtahzus'aak, who was a current ally. She would have to see which one of them came through for her, if not both.

"I accept your word," she said, wanting him to feel trusted and acknowledged. "Did you mean to say 'friendship' in substitute for 'alliance' Mr McCloud? The former takes time and is a personal thing. The latter is something I can give straight away, once I face my equal. A true alliance cannot be had when the partnership does not work both ways - otherwise it is a sphere of influence and protection."

She wondered if he would pursue a friendship with her as well as an alliance. It would be a tough sell. Bao was incredibly selective who she called friends. She was high maintenance, she knew. She doubted he had the time available. Zeus was on his way there but hadn't yet earned that title.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 26, 2019, 04:52:59 PM
Lan-Bao hadn't missed any of his word play tonight, and he was glad of it. He'd heard she loved metaphors, double meanings and riddles. He didn't think of himself as an expert in any of those. He didn't think he spoke poorly, or that he was dumb, but the young vampire did himself no favors not admitting his weaknesses. Instead, he'd chosen his words carefully, and made sure to use ones that held multiple meanings. So far, the pair of them had been in sync. Jake considered she might think him, and his words, simple, but for some reason that didn't feel right. He considered how to respond, and during his internal deliberation he never broke eye contact.

"I think I want both," he admitted, learning that was his intent as he spoke it aloud. "I don't know if we have enough in common to be friends, but I enjoy speaking with you and feel like we are connecting, and that we might be able to teach one another. I say let's plant the seeds, and see if it sprouts." He smiled encouragingly. "And to the business, that all sounds good. I look forward to greeting you as District Leader Lan Bao."

He offered his hand to shake. It was a very western gesture, but it was meant in good faith, the expression of Jake McCloud earnest.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 26, 2019, 09:45:08 PM
She looked from him to his hand, a momentary pause as she decided what to do with it. He was left hanging for just a smidge longer than was comfortable before she reached out and gripped it. She would let her hand be shaken but she would not instigate that action. Instead, as she held his hand, she bowed deeply, her eyes turning to the floor before straightening and looking back at him.

"I will send you a gift after your meeting with the other leaders," she stated before they parted. "A token of trust."
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 27, 2019, 10:11:57 AM
Jake took her hand, but didn’t shake it. It felt wrong somehow. When she bowed, something stirred within him. It felt like respect, and possibly even gratitude. He nodded his head, and provided a less formal grin.

“Till then,” he said, indicating with his words he intended to exit. In reality he wanted more time with her, but he’d played a good hand, and didn’t want to risk muddying it by saying something stupid. He didn’t rise. She had summoned him. He was her’s to dismiss in her domain.
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Malkavian Riddler on July 27, 2019, 10:44:54 AM
She did rise as soon as her hand was released. The heavy rain had lessened in the time they'd spoken, but it had settled into a drizzle for the night. They could both hear it pattering on the roof, sprinkling a rhythm that mirrored Lan Bao's meeting of initial suspicion and distrust into an understanding and open path towards a future relationship.

She liked Jake McCloud as much as she'd liked Ben Samson, but the other was a greater risk and a longer stretch before a potential payoff that might never come. Ben was wily, but young, and favoured by too many people. His loyalty would be divided between too many people, and while she respected his ability to navigate that, he simply didn't hold the cards he needed to win at the game he was playing. He'd done all that he could, but it wasn't enough.

Jake McCloud, on the other hand, could deliver, but he also came with a risk and a negative. He'd worked against Chtahzus'aak, who was her first alliance. There was a risk that there would come an ultimatum and she would have to choose between the two of them at a later date. There was also the negative that Jake McCloud had ignored her until the point she'd become worthwhile to him. Perhaps it was true that he'd believed leaving her alone was a sign of respect, but it had been a poor decision and a misguided assumption. He could've made it official long ago... and with only a quick meeting he'd decided she was worthy of a District Leadership title. He hadn't asked her anything about how she lead. So she could see that those reports about him were right; he was reckless in his quickness to judge. It had worked in her favour this time but she was wary of it. Who knew how he would react upon learning that she'd cosied up to Chtahzus'aak? Jake's withdrawal from the west was her single hope that all could work well.

She waited until Jake was on his feet before she headed for the door, speaking as she went. "Next time you visit, Mr McCloud, you should bring your sword. I would very much like to see it. I have a collection of swords at Shogun House which I hope will interest you to view."
Title: Re: Dragon Mama, Dragon Prince
Post by: Black Philip on July 30, 2019, 03:37:19 AM
Jake had left Venom home on purpose, for he hadn't known what to make of Lan Bao. He guessed, and perhaps rightly so, that if anyone in the whole city knew exactly what his sword was, it would be her. There was a temptation to have her tell him everything about it, if she could. However, she might know more about it than he did. That could lead to problems. Her offer to show her collection of swords was interesting, and he'd just informed her he wanted to be friends and he feared they had little in common. This seemed like a way to address both of those things. He would be careful with his blade around her, but he decided quickly it would be rude to refuse.

"That sounds great," he said, with much the same expression as the moment before. "I only didn't bring it because I've been told having in on me sends the wrong message. I would be glad for you to see it. It is one of a kind. I would also love to see your collection. It sounds like a rare treat. Thank you."

With a final bow of his head, he left her. He opened his umbrella and retreated out into the drizzle. It wasn't a long walk home, and he decided he actually liked the way the rain painted the city.