Author Topic: The West's Return  (Read 388 times)

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Online rainshadowck

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The West's Return
« on: May 07, 2019, 02:03:14 AM »
for Riddler

Shortly after the first step toward justice for the West, Chtahzus’aak moved in the shadows with Brael through Central and straight into Chinatown.  It had been too long since he visited with Lan Bao, and he found himself missing the peace and strength of her presence.  Besides, he had good news to share and they had business to discuss.  Zeus still was very much in the dark in regards to the Witch, and he hoped that the Kuei-Jin had luck in making contact with her.  He was feeling rather optimistic after securing the district and everything seemed to be heading in the right direction.  Eager to speak with Lan Bao, he hoped her reaction would be favorable.

After slipping through the front gates of the outer wall of the Temple, he sent Brael a wordless message that he could wander the gardens or stay posted at the entrance as he saw fit.  Zeus did not necessarily need him by his side when visiting with the Lady of Chinatown, they were on good standing. 

Chtahzus’aak stepped from the shadows, clad in a form-fitting black button-up rolled to the elbow, and dark grey slacks.  Securely in the crook of his arm was an ancient looking scroll that he held close to his body.  He took a leisurely pace into the garden, taking the time now to look at the landscape that he had briefly glimpsed in their first meeting.  The moonless night left the garden darker and more mysterious, deep and comforting with shadow.  Somewhere he was aware that his guard was down considerably, and there was the hint of inward cautioning against this that he easily ignored.

To any who approached, he would respectfully nod and request to see Lan Bao if the time was convenient.  He would go where directed or wait if instructed, but when finally in her presence he would greet her with a smile and a slight bow.

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2019, 11:17:58 AM »
Zeus wouldn't have seen anyone on his casual stroll through the gardens, but he would've sensed them close and heard them as voices and whispers carried on the wind. He wouldn't hear the rustling through the leaves as they abandoned the paths to spread the news that Lan Bao had a visitor for their feet were as stealthy as their powers.

Lan Bao sent one of her clan to greet Zeus formally and to let him know that she was in one of the small rooms nestled near the wall in the back of the gardens, away from the temple. After Qui Min left to inform Zeus to follow the signposts marked 'Tearooms' (Zeus would recognise her as the woman who'd bade him greeting the first night he'd come), Bao turned to the man on his knees, with his forehead pressed to the floor before her.

"The man who comes will give me good news," she told him in Mandarin. "Be thankful for this interruption, for it has put me in a more merciful mood. Go home and do not fail me again."

"Thank you, Lady of Light, Queen of Herons," he blathered, compliments gushing out of him like a broken toilet. That was the worth of his words to her. She disliked dealing with humans - this one, leaking out of his nose and eyes, was no different. If he lingered, she would change her mind and take his worthless life, but he was smart enough to make a hasty exit.

Taking in a long, calming breath and smelling the pungent scent of fear in the air, Bao's nostrils flared and she walked with a smooth glide to the exiting door. She was aware that the human would thrash past Zeus as he came to see her, but she was content with the amount of separation between them. Slowly, she headed for the room beside the one she'd just vacated, so that the air would be fresh as she sat with Chtahzus'aak.

She had expected him to come soon after the announcement from the young one at the Academy.

"It is a pleasure to see you," she told the garden path an instant before Zeus stepped onto it. Her smile curved at the sight of him. Powerful yet reasonable, he'd conceded to her instruction the first time but she wouldn't push him twice. She respected him for respecting her. "Come sit with me," she invited, moving into the second tea room that was not as traditional as the first. This one had a table and couches. They were low and long, but she and her new ally would not be on the floor.
Digital: Of this chalice, I do drink
Lan Bao: Of this harvest, I do reap
Cain: Of this instrument, I do strum

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2019, 11:51:38 AM »
Chtahzus'aak smiled in return.  He discretely admired her delicate figure as he followed at a slight distance--keeping his mind respectfully on business, however.  He was in good spirits and feeling rather celebratory.

Once they were in the tea room, he headed straight to one of the low couches, placed the scroll on the table, and respectfully waited for Lan Bao to take a seat before he did.  His legs stretched out in front of him and he crossed one ankle over the other.  Zeus allowed a moment of quiet to pass between them, not rushing to fill it, as he took in the sights and smells of the space. 

"I hope I have not come at an inconvenient time,"  His mind went to the fleeing human that had nearly run into him along the way.  An amusing sight.  "I bring you news of success."  He couldn't help but smile mischievously, a tad more playful than she would have seen him before.

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2019, 12:21:53 PM »
Dressed in yellow robes with white waterlilies adorning the shining fabric, Lan Bao lowered her head and smiled at his words of hope. It was not inconvenient at all, but desired. She'd seated herself on the couch adjacent to his, selecting the corner closest. Leaning on the arm with elbow and hand, she drew her feet up and tucked them onto the cushion beside her. An incredibly informal pose and one that positioned her as attentive to Zeus. She gazed at him with a smile. Success sounded good.

"Did he fold before you could reveal your hand?" she asked, her eyes shining with delight. There were benefits and drawbacks to such a thing; if Jake had withdrawn willingly, then he wouldn't have known Zeus' true power but was also aware that Zeus deserved to be leader. She almost hoped that the interaction between them had been violent, but she didn't think so. Little Boy Blue that was a constant thorn in Jake's side had decided to cut his teeth on him as well.

It was all decidedly entertaining. She doubted that Boy Blue would win the 'election' because there were too many powers in the districts that would shudder at the idea of true democracy. How stupidly mortal an idea. Leaders should not be chosen through popularity contests.
Digital: Of this chalice, I do drink
Lan Bao: Of this harvest, I do reap
Cain: Of this instrument, I do strum

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2019, 12:52:21 PM »
The demon's position was rather open and perhaps even more casual than hers.  His body inclined ever so slightly toward her, an arm laid across the back of the couch and the other propped his head up by the elbow. 

"Yes,"  there was a sparkle of humor in his intense gaze.  McCloud was still blissfully unaware of much, and that would cost him dearly down the line.  "Though he thrashed like a child first." 

In the end (though, calling it the end couldn't truly be accurate) McCloud had made the smarter decision.  He knew he had a weaker position and had been outmaneuvered.  Of course, that opened the vampire up to the ability to regroup and challenge him later.  Not that McCloud had the slightest notion of what he was truly up against.  And Zeus was not finished with him yet.

"Have you spoken with the Witch?"  The information was still very relevant.

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2019, 10:15:01 AM »
Her eyes sparkled her delight before her smile widened, but at his question she averted her gaze to her lap to gather herself before making eye contact once more. Her smile was gone and her stare was steady. She didn't look ashamed but she felt it.

"I went to her house to make an appointment, as this is her way. However, I was stopped by a force on her property line. I understand she has wards in place, and they have an impact on me and my people. It is the same reason we cannot go to Venture or to the other properties that she has protected." It made Lan Bao want to visit the witch woman all the more, but it was frustrating that the binds affected her. She believed that would taint Sabrina's opinion of her as well for she knew they were protective wards.

Even though she meant no harm, Bao thought she knew why they stopped her and her kind. They were seeking their balance and upon achieving it, they would finally know peace. As yet, they did not have peace and so her wards kept them away.

None of her family could enter the Academy building either, and for this she felt a sense of loss.

"I have failed you," she said softly to Chtahzus'aak, and she knew great shame.
Digital: Of this chalice, I do drink
Lan Bao: Of this harvest, I do reap
Cain: Of this instrument, I do strum

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2019, 10:36:47 AM »
Chtahzus'aak watched intently as she spoke, gradually shifting in his seat so both feet were firmly planted in front of him and lightly clasped hands hung off his knees.  His expression fell the more she spoke until it was a hair's breadth from a look of displeasure.  Frustrating.  Disappointing.  Unexpected.

He was silent for a moment after she admitted her failure.  A slow, measured exhale maintained a sense of calm and neutrality.

"Failure is but one step on the path of success."  He maintained a steady gaze and straightened his posture.  There were graver failures than this one.

"I will speak with the witch."  He was not put off by this supposed barrier.  As far as he was aware, he and his people were unaffected.  It was useful information to know that Lan Bao and her people were effectively blocked from entering places this witch had shielded, so it was not a wasted effort.  Speaking with the witch was, in his opinion, not a matter of grave importance.  Especially now that the West was now secured.  He would pay her a visit eventually.  By no means was he letting his guard down after this initial victory.  The demon's resolve would not dull that easily. 

The only annoyance Chtahzus'aak felt was the lack of communication.  He shouldn't have had to wait until stopping by to know of this setback, and only when he inquired.  Could Lan Bao still be trusted?


Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2019, 11:06:46 AM »
Lan Bao raised her eyes at Chtahzus'aak's words - not forgiveness, which made her respect him all the more and feel worse that she'd let him down so early in their relationship. As he questioned his trust of her, she decided by his reaction that she could trust him.

"My attempts were not without some benefits," she divulged, imparting the information that she had gleaned. "The witch is fighting her own war and has collected a small coven to stand at her side. They are battling with another witch - one that uses dark magics. I do not know if you were aware the dead walked at the city's biggest cemetary some months ago? That was a part of their battle. I believe her focus lies there for now."

She smiled, proving that while she didn't get the information they sought, knowing what Sabrina was currently up to was also useful. Sabrina looking at fighting dark magic instead of aligning herself with political shufflings meant she cared more for the balance of the world than her own ambitions. It was a good sign.
Digital: Of this chalice, I do drink
Lan Bao: Of this harvest, I do reap
Cain: Of this instrument, I do strum

Online rainshadowck

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2019, 11:30:34 AM »
A smile spread slowly across his face.  "Good."  He was pleased with this information.  While news of the witch gathering other magic users to her side was concerning (how large of a threat could a group of witches be?), Sabrina seemed preoccupied with that.  Let her be distracted with her own problems then.  It gave him more time to plan. 

As for this dark witch that woke the dead--he had enough dark magic at his disposal.  He was well enough equipt to deal with that should it arrive at his doorstep.

Chtahzus'aak leaned back and settled a bit more comfortably where he sat. 

"The ancient family remains neutral," he began, rewarding information with information, "Even in the face of war, I was told there would be no interference from them."  His arms returned to their former relaxed position at the back of the couch.

"Galvin's boy has ambition--he is challenging McCloud's position in Central."  Zeus let out a quiet laugh.  "There will be an election."  While he would have preferred Galvin himself take Central, this was the next best thing.  Anything to unseat the Brat. 

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2019, 11:46:52 AM »
She nodded deeply when praised by Zeus. Yes, it was good, and she would never be empty-handed, even after a failure. She wasn't surprised by the neutrality of the Eastern family. They were old and they'd got that way by remaining neutral... and they wanted to get older still. War was bad for everybody.

When told about Ben Samson, Bao gave a brief nod. Her face, currently impassive, revealed a slight frown at the word 'election'.

"It is a dangerous precedent, to allow the election to go ahead. I imagine that you have many in your constituency with ambition. If the city is won by vote, how long before you are challenged? How long before power and leadership are not the requirements but charm and popularity is?" She shook her head. "If he loses, then it is for the best. If he wins, then he must fail, to show the city that electing a leader is a bad choice. Being so young, the boy might fail, but he has the ex-Luminary at his side, who ruled benevolently and respectfully."

She was concerned by the idea. Look at the current fool in charge of the humans. Not a good idea at all.
Digital: Of this chalice, I do drink
Lan Bao: Of this harvest, I do reap
Cain: Of this instrument, I do strum

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2019, 12:15:07 PM »
"Agreed."  Though he was taking as many measures to quell the temptation to challenge him as possible.  Addressing the needs of the people, setting up the council, developing working personal relationships with any significant figures in the community.  Chtahzus'aak was cautious, going out of his way to ensure that everyone felt that they had a voice.  Let any with feelings otherwise come to him.  He would have answers for them.

The election never sat right with him, but he wanted so dearly for McCloud to lose.  Especially to someone so young--such delicious humiliation that would be.  Perhaps the people would see Samson as Galvin's puppet more than a ruler in his own right.  It wasn't a far stretch.  With a nudge, it could be obvious.

"From what I understand, Samson has many projects.  Perhaps by attempting to juggle one more thing it will all tumble from his grasp."  The Academy, a new business, and a District Leader? 


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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2019, 12:35:37 PM »
"Perhaps," Bao agreed, though her thinking was more aligned with the thoughts Chtahzus'aak didn't share - that McCloud would suffer great humiliation losing to a freshly made nightwalker, and that a vote for Ben Samson was truly a vote for Kerr Galvin. Except she'd read the papers yesterday and found an advertisement for a Dean to run the school, and that Ichabod - his brother - was the one to contact. The matchmaking app had Galvin's name in the small print and she knew there was a full staff in their building... including the Ward. They were unified. They were quietly powerful. A dangerous kind of powerful. The boy had taken instruction by the ancient family well in Kerr Galvin's absence.

At first Bao had liked the idea of a fledge taking over the city, for she'd be able to manipulate him and pull her territory from his grasp. Now it seemed complicated and difficult. She might be wise to make deals with all of them, so that she would be safe no matter which way the wind blew.

"You negotiated with the ex-Luminary and his family, did you not? And with the Sacramentum? And McCloud, too? And now with me." She offered a smile. "Nothing is dangerously falling from your grasp," she observed.
Digital: Of this chalice, I do drink
Lan Bao: Of this harvest, I do reap
Cain: Of this instrument, I do strum

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2019, 03:10:19 AM »
"Negotiated,"  Chtahzus'aak repeated quietly, tasting the word before making a sound like Huh in his throat.  He liked to think of them more as strategic conversations and gathering intel.  Well, except for that one with McCloud.  It was tempting to take offense to her words, to see it as more evidence against putting trust in her.  Still, she made a compelling point.  Perhaps the schoolboy should not be underestimated.  A mistake made in his haste to tare down McCloud, surely. 

What is it that humans said in moments like these? 
Nobody's perfect.  We're only human.
Except he wasn't.

"Lan Bao, I had hoped that you think me a more capable being than a fresh fledge."  His smile could have been described as flirtatious, but it melted quickly into a more neutral expression.

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2019, 10:11:17 AM »
She laughed musically, her smile untainted by insincerity. She took a breath and held it a moment, surveying him.

"I have no doubt that you are more capable than a fresh fledge," she said, but she had more to add and knew the demon before her would not like it. "Though his foundations are strong. He builds his empire using education and technology. He has created a favourable impression on the populace. His partner was once a great leader. His security is the Ward itself. He is heavily involved with a family of powerful Ancients, whose network extends beyond this city." Her smile widened. "I discounted him, until he showed his ambition at the Academy. I know the beginning of a new Dynasty when I see one."

And yet she didn't want to move against the boy, not until she met with him. It would be better to turn Zeus' eye on him while she remained in the shadows.
Digital: Of this chalice, I do drink
Lan Bao: Of this harvest, I do reap
Cain: Of this instrument, I do strum

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Re: The West's Return
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2019, 10:39:11 AM »
The demon narrowed his eyes. 

"What are you proposing?"  Zeus did not necessarily disagree, it was true that Samson held a strategically secure position.  Better to make allies than enemies.  As far as the implications of an election were concerned, the boy's success could only point to these fortuitous connections.  The mere announcement of this campaign would have done the damage of inspiring others wishing to unseat other District Leaders, success or not.