Author Topic: Testing the Waters  (Read 1767 times)

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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Testing the Waters
« on: April 18, 2019, 08:16:16 AM »
Chtahzus’aak stood with hands clasped behind his back, waiting in the conference room for Charon’s arrival.  As soon as whispers of the Patriarch’s approach traveled through the shadows, he had ensured the first floor was cleared out.  Tonight had been slow as far as appointments were concerned, so he hadn’t needed to turn anyone away who needed to be served.  With everything in the West still unsettled, he was reluctant to bring vampires--especially one so powerful--to the compound while other demons from the city were there. 

There was still mistrust between the species, particularly in the West.  He did not want to make the demons any more uneasy than they already were.  With Ben offering them sanctuary at the Academy, Zeus hoped this mistrust would dissipate. 

He was pleased that Charon had known where to find him, given the lack of information that he provided in his letter.  It was a casual test, not borne of ill will but genuine curiosity.  Would he find the source quickly?  Would he have to ask around?  Perhaps there were other means of discovering the information--old vampires were known to have interesting abilities.  He had hoped that no offense was taken by it, though he supposed that if there were he would have been simply ignored.

The gates outside would have opened quickly at the vehicle’s approach to allow for continuous travel without slowing.  The tall gatekeeping shadow demon would be waiting by the parking area to escort Charon--and any who accompanied him--into the building through the sealed door when ready. 
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2019, 01:59:26 PM »
Charon eyed the building as his car approached. Jeanne sat in the back with him, running commentary. It was only recently he'd finally accepted her and believed her bloodline was no longer tainted. In keeping with her family's traditions, she could no longer sire another and because her bloodline ended with her, he'd relaxed. It also helped that she'd been the only one happy for him when he'd become infatuated with Ben Samson, playing the role of Kerr. After having to give that up so completely, he'd busied himself with further politics and started taking notice of who was doing what in the family.

Ari had withdrawn into himself. He would eventually come out the other side, but who knew how he would be by then. Felicia was still headstrong and aloof. While Ari would still come when summoned, it was Jeanne who was always more excited to. Shunning her for centuries had obviously made her fonder. He appreciated their relationship now.

He and Jeanne got out of the car and walked with the gatekeeper into the building, casting a wary eye on every shadow that they passed and ensuring that Jeanne's and his thoughts were securely locked while they conversed mentally with one another, as well as out loud. Charon had made a bad mistake entering Lazarus' cell some time ago... for the Ancient had been more physically powerful and Charon's mental superiority would've amounted to nothing. Was this another mistake? Entering a building dedicated to demons?

The smell... he sent to Jeanne. It was pungent and obvious.
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Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2019, 10:01:01 PM »
Jeanne's regal countenance was schooled into a pleasant mask, a smile lurking at the corners of her lips. Her short curls were slicked down and she had a glittery clip holding the longer side to her head. She was wearing a black pinstripe suit with a white collared blouse, loose skinny red tie and red stilettos. Her makeup was smoky and perfect, her lips bright red to match her shoes and tie. She kept her hands in her pockets. Her heels clicked as they walked, the tempo seemingly matched by the flicker of shadows around them.

Mmmm, musky. Like otters, she agreed with Charon, having smelt something similar at an animal enclosure at a marine park some time in the past. She could feel her grandsire's misgivings about this endeavour but she didn't share them. Yet. She was cautiously interested in knowing more and was curious about the demons themselves. Did they have families? Matriarchs? Patriarchs? Ruling councils? And why had The Sacramentum been approached? It was all very... intriguing. She was feeling positive.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2019, 12:11:57 AM »
The gate-keeping demon peered at the pair with curiosity as they exited the vehicle.  Chtahzus'aak explained nothing to his legion, so the arrival of two ancient vampires was causing quite the buzz in the shadows.  The smarter ones knew this was related to the politics of the city, others could only speculate on conspiracies loosely related to McCloud.  They especially whispered about the oldest vampire, finding him a very interesting looking creature.  Some decided they preferred vampires who looked like this--it made them more relatable.

He maintained a respectful countenance, as per instruction, and led them in silence to the entrance.  The sigil on the outside glowed a dull red at his approach, the stone "door" disintegrating to allow the three to enter.  Once inside, the stone rematerialized immediately behind them. 

The Receiving Area appeared empty, though there was some movement in the shadows.  The gate-keeper led the ancients down the short flight of stair and to the left, walking them past the vacant front desk, past the first massive white column, and to the door leading into the conference room beneath the mezzanine.  He knocked twice on the door before opening it, keeping his head respectfully bowed.

Chtahzus'aak turned toward the door at the knock, polite smile on his face as it was opened.  The gate keeper closed the door behind them and returned to his post. 

"Charon,"  he crossed the room with a few strides, and held out his hand for a shake.  "It is a pleasure to finally meet you."  The weight of Charon's age set the demon slighty on edge, and he marveled on what he must have seen during his long life. 

Zeus moved to extend the same greeting to the second vampire, "I am Chtahzus'aak."  He told her, expecting to be given her name in exchange.

"Thank you for taking the time to visit this evening.  Please sit."  He crossed to the other side of the table and sat, leaning his arms on the table and clasping his hands lightly in front of him.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2019, 10:31:24 PM »
"Bonsoir, Chtahzus'aak, I am Jeanne D'Arshan," she introduced herself at the appropriate time, repeating their name so that she would recall it accurately if she needed to use it during the meeting. Her gaze inspected the being with interest; her smile was charming as she squeezed their host's hand and curtsied slightly before him.

She was aware that she might have allowed Charon to perform the introductions but, given the opportunity, she preferred to speak for herself. This might be a place of shadows but she was not just another aspect of Charon's, she was her own person. She removed her hand and moved to sit opposite the demon, as requested.

Offline Trillian

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2019, 08:29:27 AM »
As Charon walked through the building, he spread his mental fingers out, radiating his senses. There were many pockets of dead space where he felt a resistance - like a magnet repulsing its equal instead of attracting its opposite. He and Jeanne were not as alone in this building as they might think. He both admired and was concerned over that. If they were upset at vampires over the Jake McCloud manoeuvre, what better way to show their unified strength than to take out a powerful ancient? McCloud always had his ridiculous thugs with him - those braindead goons that mindlessly followed him and did whatever he said. Charon was surprised that they didn't take each other out half the time. But as little as he thought of them, he wouldn't mind their presence just for a bit of flashy power right now.

As soon as Chtahzus'aak made an appearance and offered a warm welcome and handshake, Charon's paranoia slithered away. He offered his hand but let it be shook as the shadow demon wanted. His eyes held contact with Chtahzus'aak and that was where the intensity lay. His gaze only drifted when a tall black man entered the room belatedly, closing the door and then standing at Chtahzus'aak's side. He introduced himself as Brael. Charon could tell by scent that this man was also not a man but demonic in nature, but his scent was uncomfortably familiar to him. Charon had spent centuries in a cave, away from people, and this man smelt like that cave.

 Jeanne was offered each of their names as well and they were invited to sit like civilised folk. Warily, Charon graciously accepted with a nod and moved easily to the chair opposite, pulling it out with his mind by habit and seating himself. He didn't bother dragging himself back under the table. He doubted he would have a need for its surface. He noted Brael and Jeanne were opposite one another. They were the seconds-in-charge, he supposed. Charon had three of them, but Jeanne was his most dependable.

"You didn't make it easy to find you. I await enlightenment," he said.
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2019, 11:29:19 AM »
Zeus' diplomatic smile, though slightly tightened now, remained on his face.  For a moment he wondered if this had been a mistake.  Several sarcastic replies ran through his mind, humorous in nature, but he kept them hidden and unspoken. His gut told him to get straight to the point without the usual dance of pleasantries.  But the urge to show respect was great.  He wished he had spoken more with Lan Bao prior to this meeting, to let some of her elegant words rub off on him.

"You are the most powerful family of vampires in this city," he began, meeting Charon's intense gaze.  "As I am sure you are aware, your fellow District Leader has left a mess in this corner of the city in the aftermath of its bloody seizure.  A mess that I have been dealing with since I have returned."  He spoke carefully, eyes flickering between Charon and Jeanne.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2019, 11:51:26 AM »
Charon enjoyed the acknowledgement of his family instead of just him. Chtahzus'aak's words were chosen well and executed grandly, with little fanfare but still with a balance of deference without grovelling. He didn't like the way the ex-Oligarch had spoken of Jake as being 'your fellow District Leader' but Charon couldn't deny the words. He could soften them by naming Zoheret, Saraekiel and Sabrina, but they were not here now. Only he was.

"I spoke with Jake McCloud after his actions in the west," Charon said, letting it be known he'd not left it unaddressed. "He told me that demons were breaking ranks, flexing their muscles by displaying powers to the ignorant, and escalating crimes... all unchallenged. I would be incensed to discover he lied to me."

He waited for Chtahzus'aak to either make an accusation that McCloud had lied or to declare McCloud had no right to interfere with a district not belonging to him. Or maybe there was a third reaction that the demon would present to him.
INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2019, 12:12:01 PM »
Zeus fought against the temptation to roll his eyes.  His expression remained neutral.

"An exaggeration and generalization."  Exactly two groups, who were rival gangs, were openly displaying their nature.  Escalating crime was another matter--most were petty crimes at best and should have been dealt with differently. 

"I have had demons coming to me with tales of executions in the streets.  That community leaders were antagonized into self-defense or outright ambushed and slaughtered by overeager footsoldiers."  Rabble.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2019, 01:17:50 PM »
Charon nodded once, perfunctorily. "Such tales are expected. When territory is taken by force, you will always hear the stories of the defeated survivors. That is how it has been in the past, how it will always be."

Charon glanced at Brael, who hadn't spoken (but neither had Jeanne) and back at Zeus. He supposed the demon might think that Charon was taking Jake McCloud's side, but he'd specifically gone out of his way not to show his support for the District Leader, whose actions were brash and had everyone suffering consequences. He had to make it clear to this demon where he really stood.

"You have not asked me here to discuss what has already happened. Neither of us can change the past. I will share with you that McCloud's actions cost him an alliance with me, and I have also declined allying with the dark angels in the north though we are polite to one another. I do have a close relationship with Sabrina in the south but it is unofficial, so I cannot speak for her nor align her with anyone else. So now you know of my position. Does this satisfy you, or do you wish to request a favour?"

Favours were tradeable currency, in Charon's book.
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2019, 11:07:34 PM »
He couldn't help but bristle at the impatient tone the conversation had taken.  It was exactly the information he had been seeking, but to receive it so unceremoniously left a bad taste in the demon's mouth.  Asking if this information satisfied him, as though Charon were placating a fussy child, as if Zeus should feel shame for wasting this creatures time?  No, if that were the case he would have ignored the note, Zeus was sure of that.  Unless this talk held a different purpose to the vampire. 

The suggestion of requesting a favor--this caused him to raise his eyebrows. 

Chtahzus'aak disliked owing anyone anything.  But it could be strategic to place himself in such a humble position.  He needed nothing, yet felt that he should ask for something.  It was a shame that he couldn't think of anything to ask.

"Thank you for imparting this information."  He leaned back in his chair with an amiable smile.  "I will be meeting with McCloud soon.  Is there any advice you would be willing to give me?"  Would this be considered a favor?  Hopefully not.  He didn't particularly need any advice, but Charon's insight could be interesting.  He had experience in dealing with McCloud, after all.  There might have been something that Zeus missed.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2019, 04:13:00 PM »
Charon watched as Zeus swallowed down various reactions. He could see the demon's throat working, the hairs on his arms standing on end. He could hear the tightness in his voice along with the warmth that covered it up. He didn't even have to look inside Zeus' mind to know that he'd felt disrespected... but he was controlling his reaction.

Charon respected such things. He was pleased enough to offer some words to help the situation.

"Jake McCloud is an emotional being. He acts on however he feels. If you rile him or make him uncomfortable, you won't be able to reason with him. It depends whether you want a negotiation or a war."

He wondered if Zeus would tell him that he didn't (or did) want a war.
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2019, 10:18:47 PM »
Zeus nodded.  It was as he expected.  Emotional beings were easier to work against, should things turn sour.

"Duly noted.  Wouldn't want a war now, would we?"  A playful smile followed the sarcastic remark.  McCloud had all but openly declared war on the demons of the West with his actions, as far as he was concerned.  If it came to fighting, it would hardly be called a war.  Surely the young vampire wouldn't be so stupid--he was sorely disadvantaged.

"Thank you for your wisdom.  I won't waste a moment more of your time."  He sent a silent message to an interior escort to arrange for opening the exit.  Unless the conversation continued, he would stand and round the end of the table for a formal farewell before opening the door to the conference room.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Testing the Waters
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2019, 04:48:44 PM »
Charon stood with ease, casting a sideways look at Jeanne when she did the same. He was glad for her presence even though she hadn’t spoken. They could discuss things afterward.

Just before they departed, Charon looked back at the ex Oligarch and made a point that he didn’t want missed.

“If there is a war... in case it is forced upon you, know that I will not interfere.”

He meant not to take either side, and was sure that would be clear. Without an alliance to defend, he was free to watch and learn.
INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
HALFLIGHT : Graille Min Sayer :