Boy, have I got a story to tell you! [Joey, anyone at Elysium!]
#1
Patrick watched Cat feed from his wrist. It was the only time since she arrived that she was quiet. He allowed his head to lull back, a groan to pass his lips, and then ...her tongue swept across the holes and she cleaned up her mess and was back at it.

He groaned again.

No. No! I'm telling you...you're not hearing me what I'm saying to you! She whined plaintively. You're not hearing me what I'm saying to you, she said again.

Rich brown eyes pinned the ghoul right where he sat on his leather sofa. "Stay. Away. From. The. Zoo." She ordered, and Patrick did.

She complained the entire way to the Castle. Complained about the Germans and Aristocratic assholes. She complained about her apes - her fucking apes! - and a highway to hell.

The Prince is gone. (Long live the King!) But there must be someone with sense in or around this big estate. Castle. Her thoughts wandered to Bruce Wayne before being drug back round to the task at hand.

[you're going to tell them what happened and you know what? They're not going to believe you. They're going to drag you into this big place and lock you up.]

Thin fingers scratch at her scalp, mouth twisted in apprehension and expression settled into something close to disapproval. She knew that her the Prince was gone. She knew that there were others. She'd catch them coming and going. Surely they would come and go, she didn't imagine any of them would hole up in that place forever. Right?

That stupid wall and stupid gate keep her from seeing anything worthwhile. Nothing but the guards moving on patrol.

[Gawd. Just go in already. They'll let you in. You're being ridiculous. Walk up to that gate and just - ]

The kook grunts at her Others and walks once more around the perimeter before inching closer to the protective gate of the Castle and waiting to be accosted by the Guardians of the Keep.
#2
[ Any and all PCs that have business with the Camarilla, pay the Sect passing lip service, and want to be in on this thread may join at any time. It is in and around Elysium, after all. But for continuity's sake and not getting into retro limbo I'll be trying to wrap it up in three days or less. If you don't get a chance to post in by then, you can still say your PC was around Elysium to overhear what gets said, even if it's repeated by someone else. ]

The security force attached to Richthofen Castle is a cliché out of some Bond villain's lair, the only difference being that the ones who are visible upon Cat approaching the barbican and outer gate don't carry those stout little black submachine guns one might expect.

What they lack in apparent weaponry they make up for in number and that number's ability to act in concerted effort. She can see two groups of three marching deeper in the grounds, and that's only from her point of view from the gate, and a third trio is what comes to greet her.

A freckled woman with her red hair pulled back in a tight bun seems to be the one in charge, wearing a tailored black-and-white-pinstripe pantsuit, in contrast (and complimentary) to the buzz-cut men that flank her in their black fatigues. One has a trimmed goatee and the other a pair of mutton chops and mustache that would make a Victorian bare knuckle boxer blush. Both have harsh countenances and are built more like Secret Service than bouncers, carrying themselves with a regimented sharpness.

"Excuse me, Miss..." The woman then puts her finger to her earpiece, pausing before she continues. It is as if saying Miss Cat, or any combination of the other names she is given from the other side of that black eye security camera above, isn't something she feels like trying. "Mistress, excuse me, and pardon the inconvenience. I am Estelle Burnhouse. Your RFID doesn't seem to be scanning. May we ask what your business at Richthofen is?"

The tone is one of utmost respect, and at no point should Cat get the feeling she is being treated with anything less than the most civil of precautions. Except what Cat should feel and what she does feel seems entirely up to the multitude of neuroses given voice and personality within the amphitheater of her skull.

As they shout their own two cents, the woman touches her earpiece again, and nods, then shakes her head, then nods again. Estelle seems to have her own Others that direct her action and interrogate her maneuverings. She never actually speaks into the earpiece, only responds with body language, holding up her hand with three fingers before an index finger does a little aerial circle.

All of this is done briskly over the course of a few seconds and Cat isn't actually given the chance to elaborate on her business before she stands aside and out of the Malkavian's path. There is a pregnant pause where Estelle seems receptive to hearing the reason for Cat's presence, but it already seems like a decision has been made that is out of either of their hands.

Whether Cat elaborates or not in that moment of silence, Estelle continues when it is finished.

"Once again, let me apologize for the inconvenience. You will be given a security badge when you leave. Master Rasmussen awaits your arrival in the keep," and when Cat finally does head toward the actual castle, the two men on either side of Estelle just so happen to march ahead to escort her there.

They actually do call this place a keep.
#3
They come in lines. Neat and straight and orderly like toy soldiers. Step by step. Left, right, left. It makes Cat's eyes narrow and her small mouth tug outward at the edges, drawing it flat and even like a severe slash across her face. [stand up straight!] She does. [pull your shoulders back, you'll look bigger!] and she does. It very probably looks quite awkward but Cat has learned to always - always! - listen to her Others.

The woman says Excuse me Miss and the short woman leans forward just so [..wait for it...] but nothing comes. The words hang out in the ether, are blown away in the wind. Aborted before they're spoken. When she throws Mistress at her, Cat tugs herself back and looks at the woman oddly before sparring but a glance over one shoulder. [she's talking to you, you big dummy..] Oh. OH.

"Wait." She says, touching her pockets. Touching her pockets and frowning. "Wait. Why would you want my bus pass?" She mumbles to herself, because she has to do that....has to speak the words so that her mind can process the question and the task at hand. "The Richtofen. Right, yes. I don't know." Then, "No. Wait!" She snaps her fingers and points at the big building beyond them. "I'm here because I have to speak to someone who....knows things...." Her words trail off just like Estelle's had once the woman starts doing the sign language with her finger.

That they're letting her go through is met with a moment of suspicion. She eyes them all carefully and scratches at her scalp absently. [it's fine. it's fiiiiiine. go on, follow the marching monkeys.] And so she does. Walking toward the Castle with the two men. She turns to look at Estelle and says, "Don't go around...Colorado and 17th street it's like ..the Well to Hell." She pauses, "But only not a hoax. Just don't go over there."

She goes on with her escorts [no, they're not escorts, they're guards. poliza, el policia, kgb.] forcing her steps to stay steady when she enters the Castle.
#4
Maybe it's because they are playing for keeps. Maybe that's why they call this place a keep. And what is at stake reveals itself within the stone facade. On the other side of those heavy oak doors, opened by servants with faces that don't matter and no one that she sees even looks at, the interior drips with Old World history. Four walls, past more open doors to four walls, and onward to four more that seem to go on forever into the great hall on the main floor, each successive layer decked with this artifact and that piece of artwork, this handcrafted chair and that polished table.

All this despite the Toreador Primogen's effort to add an elegance and a contemporary flair to its overstuffed luxury.

There is something for everyone (but the minimalist) in this bastion of the Ivory Tower. And any who do not wish to lay their eyes on art have another stunning form that yearns to be appreciated. That Toreador, Lucille, stands in the antechamber on the other side of that front door, like a hostess awaiting her guests.

Strike that. Guest.

And yes, Lucille's presence is striking. Where Cat had wondered if they spend all their time cooped up in this stronghold, she certainly does seem to carry herself like the Lady of the Manor (Keeper of Elysium).

She had been promised Master Rasmussen and presented instead with this expatriate of Dampierre.

Cat would remember her as once standing at the periphery of Winthrop's court, perhaps in the shadow of her sire and Denver's Seneschal, Lourene. Now she takes center stage at the front door, a full smile spreading between her lips to greet of the other Kindred. The woman wears a dress of silvered silk, her skin tone brightened to hammered bronze by the fabric. It is one single sheet, the stuff of heavens structured in symmetric tailored lines to make her look garbed in clouded crystal and sterling depending on from what angle the lighting strikes the gown.

"Now, now, now. We have enough fire and brimstone from the Sabbat at our door, my dear. Let us sit and talk of what Hell has opened, and we'll see what sense can be made of your story," her words telling that she had heard all Cat had said before the Malkavian even crossed the threshold. Her hands do not hang idly at her side, but instead rise with flat palms to usher (without touching) the madwoman deeper into Elysium. Coddling, caretaking or patronizing depends on how Cat decides to take it.
#5
There are, to be quite honest, a number of ways to install paranoia into a Malkavian. It isn't that hard and sometimes it's done without the offender even knowing they've done until it's too late. Telling her that she is to meet the Rabble and then replacing said Rabble with a Rose, is very much on the long list of Things One Ought Not Do.

She had not noticed the Toreador at first. Not right away. Cat's eyes were busy taking inventory of the Castle - the Keep - because, let's be honest, it isn't a place she visits with any real interest or frequency. All of this finery and prettiness are not either of those things to Cat. She doesn't care about the tapestries or the paintings or how one thing is a beautiful interpretation on the latest offerings of the minimalist artistic community.

No, Cat was looking for things that might be used as weapons. That chair. That pen. Those lamps. That guards right arm.

Lucille says Sabbat and this brings the Malkavian's attention to bear fast and hard upon her. [Don't look at her eyes!] She doesn't. [We need those glasses, the ones from that film? We would know then how ugly she is beneath that silk.] She stifles a small grin.

"No." She shakes her head. "We shouldn't say the 'S' word. It's too soon after..." She says, mouth twisting to one side, frowning deeply. Fingers tug at her left ear and she shakes her head at the woman, pulling her shoulders back and fighting to quiet what's in her head for the moment.

"You're not meant to be who I see. I was meant to see Rasmussen. The Rabble. The Brujah. The smart one. He's okay, I hear it on good authority that he is a-okay."

Fingernails scratch unforgivingly at her scalp. "Why did you say the S word?" Cat fixes Lucille's shoulders with a firm look before peeking at the guards. "I never said the S word. You said it."

"I need Him. He isn't here. I'll take the other one, please. Rasmussen. I was promised I would see him, it isn't very proper to lie to a guest."

[you stupid thing you, you didn't say the magic words!]

"Oh. Please? And thank you."
#6
"Quand on parle du loup, on en voit la queue?" Lucille's tone is inquisitive as she gives the idiom in its French incarnation: Speak of the wolf, one sees its tail. Is this what the Kindred believes? The Toreador seems to inquire with successive shifts in her visage, first amused, then light scoffing before her head turns a degree and an eyebrow rises. Surly not. It immediately transitions to one of further fret for the woman.

"Ma Chatte, they are a reality we must come to terms with," the accent of her English words hold the lightest of Francophonic accent. It is obvious she is practiced enough with the former language that the latter may simply be affectation, even as she oscillates between the two.

"To not use a name? To fear a word? Would give them more power than they have already taken. I ask for the car to be pulled around when I want to go to the theater – actually, I simply say I wish to go to the theater and the car is there," a clipped laugh as she finishes with the sidebar.

"And I invoke the Sabbat name when I want to reference the barbarians at the walls," saying that S word again. When she is through another light laugh that is as melodic as a violin solo and cuts through the interior of Richthofen with just as much power.

Of course, she has also entirely shifted their dialogue from one of Hell to a more temporal threat.

Lucille takes a few graceful strides from the front chamber to the next, and then turns back to look at Cat again. Her own facade of polite patience seems to be cracking at its corners. "Oh, we are talking about what is proper now, are we? You must accept my apology, Lady Cat. This conversation has taken so many turns, and I seem unable to follow it at your pace."

Cat minds her Ps and Qs, though. And Lucille looks down to the next room before glancing back again.

"But if you'll only follow me, Rasmussen awaits in the great hall," walking again.

And the Brujah Primogen does wait. Whether or not he is truly the interim Prince, is a topic of quiet debate outside of Elysium, though he has yet to actually invoke the praxis it entails. Yet to wonder publicly at the fate of Winthrop, as many others have, he instead consistently steers the topic of conversation toward more practical ones of weathering and winning the Siege. One might argue naming Elysium and its Keeper, enforcing the Traditions and governing the remaining forces of the Camarilla, is more than enough. Leave it to a Brujah to go about governing in such an unorthodox way.

Helmer is entirely different from Isaac. Where the former embraced the title and its trappings, he can now be found sitting in the great hall, in one of its high backed chair, a leg crossed over the other and a book held open before him with its spine pinched between his thumb and index finger. The layer of blue linen over its hard cover is emblazoned along the spine in silver gilding with the name of its author, Plutarch. He places a pencil into the book as Lucille approaches, setting it on the stout end table beside the chair and standing.

What Rasmussen doesn't possess in noble bearing most agree he makes up for in sheer force of presence. His eyes hold a baby blue brightness few Kindred of his age manage to retain. She might have expected him to be tall, but he is more than that word entails. Towering. Strapping. Hale. A nose with a slight crook to its lower three-quarters that says it has been broken at least once. A jaw and brow that disagree, no, far more than once.

At the outset of the Siege, many say, Rasmussen found his place in modern nights.

"Thank you, Lucille," not drawn out. In fact it's almost dismissive, as if the fact he could hear the length (if not the content) of the Toreador's exchange with Cat, and that was enough to try his own patience, and it wanes even more quickly. Where Richthofen's interior is at times cut with an uneasy tension that is difficult to imbibe, Rasmussen caries himself with the no-nonsense bearing of a Kindred focused on transforming that tension into something more useful. This is where the last part of Cat's statement 'I was meant to see Rasmussen. The Rabble,' may have missed the mark. His arms rest before him, his suit rumpling just a bit at its shoulders, as one hand grabs the other's wrist just below his waist.

The Brujah seems to be waiting for Cat to speak.
#7
Cat is a smart girl. In life she survived the Bayou and slavery and crocodiles and touchy-feely-human-owners with slick wit and a pinch of luck. What she lacks in book smarts she more than makes up for in common sense. At least she does when her brain works the way that it ought to. Still, for all of her common sense brains, she has to study Lucille very carefully to follow what she is saying.

I say I want to go here, the car appears. Suspicion creeps into her entire demeanour and she wonders perhaps if she hasn't been tricked, drawn into the hands of some witch or warlock or both. How else could she make the car just appear?

Nevertheless.

She has not suffered the stuffy presence of Ventrue and learned nothing. She is reminded of her manners. Crisis averted.

Big heavy boots follow along behind the graceful visage of the beautiful Kindred in front of her. Cat hadn't thought to be embarrassed of the way that she looks. That her coarse, thick dark hair is messy or that her clothes could use a good washing is lost on Cat and she doesn't seem to pick-up on it even when she stands next to Lucille.

Shorter.
Thinner.
Entirely less than the other Vampire.

Brujah. Cat nodded. They were mean. Meaner than a junkyard dog. But at least they were mostly honest. If they hated your guts or thought you to be incompetent, you know it straight away.

"So." She says, one hand lingering near her temple as if that might help her to focus. [stick to the story. nothing but the facts!] "I like gorillas. I don't mind the other primates but the monkeys...they make too much noise and I can't think. But the gorillas? They're like...amazing watch...dogs. And I slept there, where the humans are working, beating and building things?"

Dark eyes shift to crawl up Rasmussen's face before skittering back down to the table. [keep your eyes off his. remember: Achille's heel!]

"And I woke." The finger near her temple points loosely, driving home her point with a shake of one digit. "And my apes were going fucking mad. Banging and beating, and those...little yapping monkeys were howling and screaming. But I looked? Crept around a corner and then I hid. Nooooo one saw me. I was hid good. But all the humans, the guards? They were down. Like..." fingers flutter quickly and her brow furrows deeply.

"...I thought that it was another Malkavian. Being funny. Pranking. Taking away my spot. But, no! It wasn't. No it was not. I was smart. I walked all around those bodies and kicked and stomped. I could see it though, with my own two eyes, I could see this...ba-bomp...ba-bomp...like feeding? Yes. Feeding. But! But. There was this fucking...rumbling. It was an earthquake. But not. It was like an earthquake. But it wasn't just a hole. No. It was a mouth." And she nods at him, quite impressed with herself thus far.

"This mouth - no maw - like a maw? It opened wide in the ground and ate up those humans. Swallowed them whole. I ran, you couldn't expect me to do anything more!" She says plaintively, palm covering a good portion of her face from forehead to the top of her mouth. "It was...something not normal. Maybe an old Vampire? Hayzeus...it might have been...no. Absolutely not." Cat shakes her head, though whatever train of thought she's stumbled on has her becoming much more agitated.

"And did you know she throws the S word around?! Yes. She does. She tosses it around. And? She can make cars appear by just speaking words. I don't...I don't like to say that S word. You need not call the devil. He'll come without calling."

Then, finally, she quiets and waits. Her mind is very concerned with that summoning Toreador and what might be living beneath Denver.
#8
Rasmussen is patient. His finger does not tap on his muted brown slacks, and his gaze does not waver from the Kindred (little undead girl) in front of him. He is a weathered statue, the kind that might survive of that ancient essayist whose tome he had just been reading from. When he blinks it may be likened to how some politician might clear his throat to say, I will be speaking now.

For Rasmussen, blinking has always been enough. At least since he no longer needed to clear his throat. At least since as long as anyone in Denver can remember.

"A Malkavian playing a prank. That's what you though it was?" Meanings layer upon meanings as he finally addresses Cat, a Kindred of that same clan she names as pranksters.

Lucille, having been dismissed, had drifted off like the silk-sheet-chic ghost she is. "Ring Narcisa, please," a Malkavian, the Sheriff, to investigate another Malkavian's claims. He says it and a woman speaking to Lucille manages to break her attention to the Toreador. She excuses herself from the Keeper's presence and sets about working Rasmussen's will.

"You're not eaten, are you?" Looking over Cat, now, it's the first time his neck moves and the statuesque pose bearing down on her is broken. Finder her physically whole, if her psyche Swiss cheese. "What a clumsy mouth," and he may be talking about the chasm she describes, that did not manage to consume her, or Cat's telling of her tale.

There are other Kindred around. John St. Germain, who is also speaking to Lucille, who if Cat overhears correctly insists on calling the young Anarch by the name Jean. He had fallen silent, as many had, to overhear Rasmussen's reaction to her story.

Oliviero Giovanni is also present, in his modern Italian finery as if it would hide the withered form of an old man he was locked within upon his Embrace. The Necromancer is speaking to a severe and precise looking woman, a full-bodied brunette who wears, of all things, the robes of an academic. She has another Kindred, a gentleman in a houndstooth sports coat and dark navy blue jeans, standing at her side.

The unfamiliar woman also shows interest (had been showing interest for most of Cat's anecdote, not just Rasmussen's reaction) though the companion at her side places a hand on her shoulder and the spell is broken. Her attention returns to Oliviero and the conversation they had been in the midst of, all at that slightest of touches.

Other Kindred are there, because it is Elysium. The faceless members of court. A Nosferatu (though it's not Gotfred, their Primogen, not if the face he wears is truly his) is kindly enough to stay in the shadows beside a bookcase. Another younger Brujah, maybe a Neonate, and another Toreador, both in conversation with the man in the shadows. There are others. They are the Greek chorus, as it were, whose names don't yet matter and go about their business or listen to Cat's tale and Rasmussen's answer to it with their varying level of interest.
#9
She does not lift her chin to meet his gaze but her eyes travel up and up until they find the crook of his nose. That's enough, she doesn't have to see any more. The panicked chorus resound in her head. A cacophony of voices, of Others, who scream truths and warnings and prophesies at her.

"I've seen pranks bigger than that mouth, let me tell you." She assures him, rocking on her feet from heel to toe. It's then that she notices the bodies all around her. Vampires here and there and everywhere. She turns quickly - half turns - to look around her fixing them each one that are staring with a stink eye.

"Oh. Oh. No. Negative. I was not gobbled up. Do you know why? I was not gobbled up because I am Legion. I am Many. And? I'm fast." She smiles wide, exposing a toothy grin.

Cat turns half-way again and looks at the Giovanni. Stares at him. That old man. She wrinkles her nose at the idea of what she imagines he might do in dark shadows with dead things.

"Yes. Yes it was clumsy. But. But that is because it was hungry." She holds up a finger as if she just had the best idea ever and was about to exclaim Eureka! "Oh! And the apes and I don't know, but mostly the apes, they warned me to run. So I wasn't so quick maybe. I just got the jump on them."

Then.

"Wait, Narcisa? Okay. But I'm not doing anything wrong so you just..." The thought trails off as she looks at a smudge on the table, the whorls and patterns captivating.
#10
"Not a thing wrong," Rasmussen shakes his head, almost immediately, the nose that she looks at ticking back and forth and back again before it settles back into place.

"Telling your story. And one that needed telling. One that needs looking into. Narcisa loves a good story. She will gladly listen, as we have." and then the nose rises and falls, decisive as the falling hammer of a gavel, in a nod. He does not smile, but that bottom half of his face that she actually pays attention to manages to look benevolent. "She will likely open and completed an inquiry; we will see what this mouth has to say," looking around the hall at the Kindred present as he speaks, who again fall silent in their disparate conversations until he is finished. Until he directs his attention back upon Cat.

"I thank you, Cat." that first person singular finally clarifying he hadn't been using the royal We. "You were always a valued member of Prince Winthrop's court, and you're still here, which is more than I can say for most other members of his entourage. I expect to see you walking Richthofen's grounds again," and finally there is an almost-patriarchal smile, his full lips rising at their edges.

Rasmussen does not tell her to take her leave or otherwise dismiss her, but she has lost his attention. He steps away, picking up his book as he does so, and heading deeper into the castle. Lucille does not step forward to usher Cat into another conversation or out of Elysium. None of the other Kindred make their way over to do so either, and for the moment Cat is left standing in the middle of the great hall, alone except for the Others to keep her company. That and the specter of a not-as-of-yet-present Sheriff looking to hear her story.


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