Author Topic: Duped  (Read 349 times)

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Offline Harlequin

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Duped
« on: June 05, 2019, 01:11:37 AM »
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It hadn't taken Nadia much digging to find the name and address of the healer. She was a newly-minted District Leader after all, and a few nights, She and Pierre found themselves at her front door.

Despite he fact that Nadia had told her lover they were headed to Venture.

At the dark and questioning look he gave her when the hired car pulled into the drive, she merely shrugged and adjusted one delicate gold bracelet. "Well, you were never going to get that burn taken care of yourself, were you?"

"IT WAS MORE FUN IN HELL," read the gilded letters glittering back at them from above the front doors to the Parlor.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Duped
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2019, 11:24:35 AM »
Up until the moment they pulled up to the building, Pierre had been enjoying his time with his lover immensely. In the two weeks that they had been reconnected, they had fallen very much into trusted routines. He had made it a point to spend every moment he could with Nadia, ignoring phone calls and business meetings with the family - with the obvious exception of that grand fete at the Penbrook Estates which he had already told Damien he would be attending. Before the car pulled up to a large building that Pierre hadn't recognized, he had been playing with Nadia's slender fingers lovingly, trying to immortalize them in his mind for when she left him.

Pierre looked out the window as the car stopped and threw a very confused and suspicious look back at his lover. His gaze narrowed as she stepped out of the car and walked up to the front door without him, indicating that he follow. "Really?" he said with an annoyed flare to himself the instant she was out of the car before getting out himself. He should have figured that she was up to something when she had made plans for both of them without his knowledge. Pierre scowled as he stood next to her on the doorstep and read the sign hanging. With demonstrated annoyance, he pulled the door open for her and waited until she entered before following her in.

Large and glamorous, the place certainly wasn't what he was expecting a witch to live in - he had fully expected that the creature live in some hut with a swamp on the edge of town. He looked around in suspicious wonder, taking in as much information as he could. Everything seemed to be normal enough. There was a check-in desk nearby with no one there. He contemplated his options before turning back to his companion.

As his gaze fell back on Nadia, the wonder dropped from his expression to be replaced with irritation with a side of nervous humor. "You're running this little show," he decided, with a gesture towards the desk, "therefore you can do the honors."
Oh my tongue's the only muscle on my body that works harder than my heart.

The Hermit (Damien)The Devil (Nikolai) | Justice (Pierre) | Temperance (Quinn) | The Empress (Zoheret) | The Star (Levinia) | Death (Monet)

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Duped
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2019, 12:44:30 PM »
“You know I hate feeling like a nag.” Nadia was dressed for a night out in a little black dress with a plunging neckline and fringe embellishments that brushed her knees as she walked. Her shoes were tall and severe and had blood-red bottoms. Her heels clicked sharply on the freshly-shined floored they approached the desk, her a few steps ahead of Pierre. She spared the lobby an appraising glance; it was a lovely building, if baroque and outdated for her tastes.

There may have been no-one at the desk, but not nothing. An aging pug dog rested in a the dog bed equivalent  of a fluffy pink throne. As the pair approached, it regarded them dolefully. After a moment of waiting, its mouth dropped open, tongue lolling, and a voice Pierre would recognize piped out as if from a speaker, “Nadia Dominik? Welcome to the Parlor in Purgatory. I’m Sabrina. I’ll meet you both in the study, through the door at the top of the stairs.” Message imparted, the dog yawned hugely and settled back into its bed, totally unphased.

After wiping the shock from her face, Nadia regarded the dog with an air of distaste for a long moment. Once it began to snore, she seemed satisfied the no more words were forthcoming, and lead Pierre up the grand staircase and through the tall door there, which was surrounded by photos and paintings of empty rooms.

The room beyond was spacious and warm, dominated by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and n imposing mahogany desk — behinds which sat the equally imposing figure of their host. Sabrina smiled gently as they entered, and the smile widened as she recognized Pierre. She rose to greet her guests, holding out a hand for shaking over the desk, “Nadia, welcome. Pierre, so good to see you. I was hoping you’d pay a visit soon.”

Nadia nodded and clasped the offered hand in a brief shake. Her expression was aggressively neutral.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Duped
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2019, 04:23:07 AM »
He watched the dog as Nadia approached and thought nothing of the dog opening its mouth. Until a voice that was vague enough to him made him look around and then look back at the dog, who kept eye contact with them the entire time. And addressed Nadia by name.

"Jesus!" He startled, taking an abrupt and terrified step away from the desk and the dog. Adrenaline pumped hot into his bloodstream for the briefest of seconds and then cooled as he realized that it was a spell of some kind, throbbing painfully in his chest. He missed the entirety of the dog's statement and the meaning of the words, including the witch's name. When the dog stopped talking and settled back down, Pierre laughed nervously, stroking his face downward and hiding his mouth in his palm. If there was any moment in which he doubted whether this adventure was a good idea, it was this moment. "Are you fucking kidding me?" He gestured pointedly at the dog but made his comment target Nadia.

As Nadia turned to go up the stairs, Pierre looked incredulously after her. "You're not actually going to listen to that thing?" When she ignored him and continued, he followed irately at a jog, choosing to be with her rather than face the rest of the hotel lobby alone.

He held his breath when he entered the witch's lair, only to be surprised to not find a single swamp waiting for them. Instead he found the impossibly tall District Leader of the south sitting at a desk before them. "Oh," he said stupidly upon recognizing her. All the pieces began to click into place and he tentatively relaxed himself. Sabrina. Yes, she had greeted them downstairs. Hers was the voice transmitting through the grumpy-looking old dog.

"Saint Sabrina," Pierre said with as much attempt to save his own face as he could possibly in the queer situation he found himself in. He shook the demoness's enormous hand and felt suddenly very childlike. So Sabrina was the witch who could supposedly heal him? At least he was vaguely familiar with the person before him. At least if he was killed in the process, it was someone notorious enough in the city that he may be avenged. But as impressive and intimidating as her height and presence was, her gesture and touch was more reassuring than anything he could have ever expected. He began to regret his thoughts and feelings towards her house. "I didn't imagine that I'd be seeing you again so soon."
Oh my tongue's the only muscle on my body that works harder than my heart.

The Hermit (Damien)The Devil (Nikolai) | Justice (Pierre) | Temperance (Quinn) | The Empress (Zoheret) | The Star (Levinia) | Death (Monet)

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Duped
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 01:31:40 AM »
“I, for one, am beyond pleased to see you,” Sabrina smiled benignly before gesturing at the twin green velvet armchairs across the desk from her, “Please, sit.”

Nadia sat daintily on the very edge of the chair, eyes fixed on their hostess. Sabrina was a causal counterpoint to the vampires, wearing  a simple navy dress that hung off her shoulders. Her platinum hair was done up in a messy bun, and a thin silver chain adorned one wrist. Her long fingernails were painted their customary black.

“Nadia, you said your paramour was in need of healing services, correct?” Nadia nodded, content not to speak for now. She’d got Pierre in the door, hopefully that was all the prodding he’d need.

“Wonderful. Pierre, would you be willing to tell me the nature of your injury?” She assumed it had something to do with why he smelled so strongly of old, charred blood, but it would be rude to say so.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Duped
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2019, 08:24:42 AM »
Pierre remained standing, gaping at Nadia for her plotting against him behind his back as if he were some kind of stubborn child and she had to make his appointments. Internally, he fumed at her, thankful for the mental brick wall that kept him safe from mental attack. He closed his fish mouth and looked back at Sabrina as she addressed him, feeling suddenly self-conscious about his injury. Pierre rubbed the back of his neck unconsciously and stumbled into an explanation of what he remembered.

"I was burned by a some kind of demon while hunting him. I-I..." He looked down at Nadia, whom he had never fully explained the situation to. "I got too close to him and he, uh, could turn himself into fire. I had him by the throat and he, uh, kicked me in the stomach, from about mid-ribcage to navel." He looked away from both women as he relayed the message. He definitely didn't like saying it in front of Nadia. It was an idiotic move to grab Laurent by the throat and try to kill him. He had felt so cocky, so powerful against him... until this. "That was several years ago now..."
Oh my tongue's the only muscle on my body that works harder than my heart.

The Hermit (Damien)The Devil (Nikolai) | Justice (Pierre) | Temperance (Quinn) | The Empress (Zoheret) | The Star (Levinia) | Death (Monet)

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Duped
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2019, 01:33:22 AM »
When he looked her way, the dark look clouding Nadia's her face would confirm his suspicions that was she was less than pleased with these revelations.

Sabrina, meanwhile, nodded her understanding. She grabbed a leather-bound sketch pad from one of the stacks of books littering the desktop and began taking notes with an ebony-wood fountain pen plucked from its housing on the desk. "Do you have any idea what type of demon this was? What have you been doing to treat yourself so far?"

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Duped
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2019, 02:01:26 AM »
"No," Pierre said simply, disappointment evident in his tone. He watched Sabrina begin to write notes and all of a sudden it felt much more professional than he was expecting. He wondered briefly if this was what a human's doctor's appointment felt like and smirked at the silliness of the thought. "We've been trying to figure that out for years. He can change physical shape - he was like a giant cat when I had fought with him, and he definitely has a human form that he's vulnerable in. But he can also wield fire in his human form. We've been trying to dig something up about that, but no one in my family can find anything on that.

"So far, I've just been treating it with regiments of blood," he said, glancing down at a less than pleased Nadia. "For the first month or so I was bedridden with a continuous topical soak of human blood, as well as twice daily feedings." If that was what Sabrina wanted to call being force-fed blood bags and monitored during the process by a couple of well-meaning, but annoying fledges.

"Lately, I've just been feeding every day or so," he thought aloud, rubbing the back of his hair as he searched for any relevant information about his routines.
Oh my tongue's the only muscle on my body that works harder than my heart.

The Hermit (Damien)The Devil (Nikolai) | Justice (Pierre) | Temperance (Quinn) | The Empress (Zoheret) | The Star (Levinia) | Death (Monet)

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Duped
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2019, 07:02:01 AM »
What he described sounded like some sort of fire or shadow demon. A crossbreed, perhaps? She’d read about a few halfbreeds in her time, but usually they didn’t survive past infancy, to the best of her knowledge. The bit about weilding a flame in human form was troubling, also. She processed this as he spoke, nodding along, “Did you see a demonic form, other than the cat?”

Getting to the bottom of what had hurt him and how was essential.

“It seems as though this has been at least somewhat effective, and should be relatively easy to augment if we choose to go that route. How old are you? How old is your sire?”

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Duped
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2019, 07:46:52 AM »
Pierre continued to rub the back of his head pensively, his face screwed up in thought, searching for a form. "Shadows? Smoke maybe? I know he could partially change shape, or look like he could partially change shape. His hands could change into these massive dark... paws... and then his arms would be human. I've never seen anything like it." Pierre fell back into that place for moment, trying to find anything at all that would identify him as more than just some demon. "I had his throat in my grasp at one point and he just dissolved into something like mist or smoke or shadows." Realization dawned on him. "He took on the shape of Nikolai, a... another vampire, to taunt me." This was no place to lose himself in nostalgic disappointment for his ex-friend. After all it was ultimately Nikolai's fault that Pierre was even standing before the witch in the first place.

He blinked at the formality of her questions, coming back to the present moment and stepping out of the shadow of fear that remembering the event had caused. "Uh... almost seven hundred?" He looked at Nadia for reference, as if she had the answer, agreed with his own response with a thoughtful frown and continued. "Damien is... about nine fifty?" He did the math and decided that that was close enough.
Oh my tongue's the only muscle on my body that works harder than my heart.

The Hermit (Damien)The Devil (Nikolai) | Justice (Pierre) | Temperance (Quinn) | The Empress (Zoheret) | The Star (Levinia) | Death (Monet)

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Re: Duped
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2019, 08:01:29 AM »
This Laurent certainly sounded like some type of shadow demon, but one with powers she’d never heard of one possessing. Shapeshifting? Conjuring fire? This was dangerous person, indeed. She’d keep her ears open.

Nadia shrugged at Pierre’s glance. She was absolutely sure he’d told her when he was born at some point, but she never willingly did math.

The information caused their host to look up at him from her notes. No ordinary demon fire, then, to cause such lasting harm to a relatively long-lived vampire.

Nikolai. The name had been floated by her once or twice. He was a constituent. Maybe she’d send Tansy—

—No. This was not her kettle of fish. Unless Laurent set foot in the South, or one of her constituents or fellow District leadership asked her for help, it was none of her business. She was stretched thin enough as it was.

Sabrina leaned forward in her chair and rested her elbows on the desk, steeling her fingers, “There are a few ways we can go about this,” she said, after a moment’s pause, “One is fast but unpleasant, the other is slower but less invasive. Either way, I take payment in favors and information. Is this agreeable to you, Pierre?”

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Duped
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2019, 09:39:15 AM »
Pierre nodded, taking his hand from his hair and accepting his fate, completely unsure of which way he'd rather go. As long as he didn't have to compromise his people, he'd go for anything - though he was expecting a monetary payment. Not that he should have, given how the night was going so far. He tried to keep the reluctance out of his voice as he answered. "What are the options?"
Oh my tongue's the only muscle on my body that works harder than my heart.

The Hermit (Damien)The Devil (Nikolai) | Justice (Pierre) | Temperance (Quinn) | The Empress (Zoheret) | The Star (Levinia) | Death (Monet)

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Duped
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2019, 01:36:54 AM »
Sabrina set her pen down and steepled her long, pale fingers. “I can do some herbal infusions and some ritual work to augment the regimen you’ve been using. Less invasive, but slower. I can also use the symbiotic entity inhabiting my body to physically knit your tissue back together from the inside out. Faster, but there are potentially psychic and memetic dangers, and it will be physically unpleasant.”

As the giantess spoke, an expression of shock and distaste gradually wrote itself across Nadia’s face, seemingly without her knowledge. Catching the look, Sabrina smiled at her, eyebrow cocked. “You were expecting something different? A salt circle and incense?”

Nadia closed her mouth and looked away, uncharacteristically speechless.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Duped
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2019, 11:12:33 AM »
He listened with the taste of fear and indecision rising in the back of his throat. He knew what the safest bet would be, but the idea of being free to move, bend, and fuck without pain was tantalizing. But what was this about some creature that lived inside of her? Psychic dangers? The physical pain he could handle - he didn't want to, but if it meant getting better faster, why the heck not? But it was this creature that gave him pause for concern. After a brief look at Nadia, he knew this was news to her as well.

Pierre hesitated, feeling extremely uncertain for once. Sabrina's matter-of-fact delivery gave him no comfort and he was beginning to regret allowing this to happen. He heavily considered telling Sabrina to forget all of this and taking Nadia with him as he left. At least then he would be allowed to focus on the usual way of vampiric healing.

And suffer.

"I don't think I understand," he said slowly, feeling a bit dumb. "You have a creature... living inside of you? How would you be able to use that to heal me?" He understood her original words clearly enough, the meaning behind them, but it was the process he was missing. Was some little goblin going to enter his ear and sew him up, good as new? Would he be good as new (well, as new as any vampire could get)? He had no issues psychically - nothing had been able to penetrate his mind since the night that Damien freed him from his chains. "I'm sorry," he said with a dry chuckle, "I was expecting my night to go very differently than this. I didn't even know I was coming to see you tonight." Pierre was tempted to throw his gaze at Nadia to out her for her rash decisions, but decided against it, suspecting (hoping) that she was feeling as unsure about her decision as he was about his.
Oh my tongue's the only muscle on my body that works harder than my heart.

The Hermit (Damien)The Devil (Nikolai) | Justice (Pierre) | Temperance (Quinn) | The Empress (Zoheret) | The Star (Levinia) | Death (Monet)

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Duped
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2019, 12:01:05 AM »
At the news that Pierre had been brought to her under false pretenses, Sabrina shot a dark look at Nadia, who was very busy studying her glossy fingernails. Clearly both of them were in over their heads.

"Less 'creature' more 'ectoplasmic consciousness.'" This likely was less than helpful, unlearned as they were, so she demonstrated. She held up one hand, and the Treacle trickled from her nailbeds, pooling black and shiny in her palm. From there, she formed it into a detailed portrait of a hound dog; a scalpel; an intricate cut-paper landscape.

"It's called The Treacle. It works, for our purposes, like a very, very fine-tuned surgical device. It can integrate your tissue and do the physical work of repairing it. I control it, but it is sentient -- and curious. It may attempt to connect with you psychically. This can be jarring, but ultimately harmless."

The Treacle -- which had been forming various non-Euclidean shapes in her palm as she spoke, receded back into her nailbeds. "Of course, you can always discuss this with your partner and return when you're ready." She spoke gently, "I realize this may be a lot to take in, and if we are going to to do this, I'd like you to be at least confident, if not comfortable."