September 26, 2009

That same night.. Rowan

I remember getting up from reading, and going to take a shower. More inconsistencies..not sure what would have prompted me to do so, since I don't sweat anymore..

When I came out, Gio had put the Pandoran in a big glass urn. It had started to regenerate, slowly, but remained contained. Icegalos was explaining that a pandoran was a Promethean gone wrong. Prometheans seek to be living creatures. On the pilgrimage they must "procreate" to find this goal. Promethean fucks it up, pandoran is born and does nothing but try to eat Prometheans. Charming.

Idly, I wondered if that was what the Promethean we met on the way to Mexico was after..

Icegalos never noticed the framed face on the wall. Apparently from a Promethean who had become human...then cut his face off. We found it in the pocket of a murdered ghoul. And for some fucked up reason, Giovanni had decided to frame it. I found it creepy..And yet that is not the weirdest thing to ever happen to us.

Gio wanted Icegalos to show him how to remove the pyros from the pandoran. It was another ingredient he needed for his homunculus. His cat got eaten by the Mask in the asylum, and since then, the demon hasn't had a body. Gio was about half way through gathering the pieces to build it one.

"I will do this for you, but in return, you must make me a vow." Icegalos said to him, in a serious tone.
Gio looked a bit skeptical, but more interested. "What vow?"
"There may come a time when I am not able to protect the Priestess as I want. You must vow to protect her in these times. With your life, if necessary."

Not what I was expecting. Gio looked at me thoughtfully. I leaned on the door frame and smirked at him. He shrugged and smiled, "Shes basically family anyway. I accept." Gio had already saved my life before, but Icegalos didn't know that.

He and Icegalos clasped forearms and Gio's face became a mask of pain, his hand spasmed. He didn't cry out, but when Icegalos release him, I could smell burnt flesh and ozone. I didn't feel like I needed another bodyguard, but no one was asking me.

He and Gio began pulling out beakers and mixing things over Bunsen burners. He was giving Gio instructions the whole time. I watched, perplexed, and mildly interested in the whole process. After awhile of this, Icegalos left to get more supplies.

Everyone was trying to relax and not look as edgy as we felt. Rowan was due to drop by tonight to discuss said dead ghoul and his killer.. that fucking serial killer that's been toying with us. She fuckin' terrifies and fascinates me. I feel like she'd rip out my throat just for fun if she were in the wrong mood.

She asked me if I would be willing to get my hands as dirty as she may need to get hers to find this guy. I surprised myself by agreeing. It doesn't sit well with me. I don't know what Cruac entails, except blood. I makes me worry where that blood may be coming from... I'm not looking forward to the night when I am forced to decide just how much humanity I'm willing to lose to get what I need. I worry because I think I'm willing to give up too much.

Finally, there is a knock on the front door of the shop. Two random guys are standing there, that none of us have seen before. Auras read mages. They brush past us and begin with the mage voodoo. We never would have let them inside if she hadn't been standing behind them. A few moments later Rowan walks in with another mage beside her. It was the first time I had seen her with her pocket mages. From what I had heard, they were ghouls. Damn effective ghouls. It made me even more edgy to be working with someone who could pull strings and make mages dance...

Rowan is just plain scary. She looks the iconic old hag.. she even sounds scary. Her voice is like gravel across a chalkboard. Everyone sat (except the mages) but no one looked comfortable except for Nobody. I never knew why, but he seemed overly confident and had this smug expression I was aching to wipe off his face. We had almost had a fight getting him to put the spear away before Rowan got here, he was itching for a chance to get into a pissing contest with someone. Usually Rowan makes him just as nervous as she does us. Fucking crazy fairy bastard..

We gave her the vials of Louie's blood that had been drawn from his corpse in the bar and outlined the entire ordeal for her. The others had found Louie Ramone's body in a bathroom stall in a goth club at 11am. He had over a dozen syringes sticking out of his chest, all in all it came out to a metric shit ton of morphine. The fact that it was morphine was disturbing itself... I had been mulling that one over since they told me about it. It seems unlikely that it was a coincidence.. but how in god's name would the killer have known about my previous morphine addiction? Giuseppe was the only one who figured it out, and everyone who was in the car when he spilled it (like I said.. prick) is dead.. and I haven't used in over a year, what with the sudden onset vampirism.

But.. fuck.. Asol maybe? Tommy had said he'd been possessed by one of those rat spirits when he killed him.. a Beschalu.. If those fuckers are involved (it seems likely at this point..) that could be another connection.. goddamn it.

When they found Louie's body, they also chased a suspect, who of course got away. Louie had been the 4th victim, all within a 24 hour period. Not counting the two that didn't die. He wasn't the last either.

We outlined everything for Rowan. The victims, (we mentioned Drake, but not the sword) the asylum, our theory about the killer possibly possessing different bodies or working with spirits.. she listened silently, obviously pissed.. but then, I'd be pissed if someone offed Rebecca.. so I could sympathize. She tended to stare at me, even when other people were talking though.. Unnerving as fuck...

"I will see what I can do. This will be very helpful." She said when we finally finished.
"Just make sure when you find him, its the puppet master, and not another puppet." Giovanni muttered.

I stared at Giovanni, who once again proved his complete and utter lack of the ability to keep his fucking mouth shut. I more than half expected Rowan to calmly rip his throat out for the insult.. but she just smiled and rubbed something red on her palm and watched with an unsettling smile as Gio stood and wandered into the kitchen. I smelled blood.

Rowan stood and her mages made motions like they were leaving. I was about to allow myself to relax when Rowan dropped her bombshell on the middle of my forehead.

"You are Ordo Dracul.. yes? A Dragon?"

My expression became closed. I did not discuss my covenant affiliation with others. It tended to lead to unwelcome questions. Like now. I slowly nodded.

"You are a student of the coils.. yes?" The look on her face was greedy.

To say I was uncomfortable with this line of conversation would be an extreme understatement.

She did not wait for my answer before continuing. "I have a proposition for you. I desire to learn these coils, however, I have not yet had success in finding a willing instructor.. If you agree to teach me what you know of these coils, I will teach you secrets of Cruac.."

I stared at her, at a loss.

Nobody laughed. "Blood magic? Right. Like you have the stomach for that shit. What about those poor people you might hurt Harper?"

Fire erupted in my guts. I clenched my fists so hard that my nails bit into my palms. I focused on not shaking with rage to keep myself from clawing out his larynx. Maybe I should remove his and Gio's voiceboxes.. maybe that will teach them to SHUT THE FUCK UP. I certainly don't need anyone shouting my goddamn moral dilemmas from the rooftops where every kindred in Chicago can hear and exploit them.

Rowan's ugly face twisted into an unpleasant smirk.

"I will be in touch." And she left. The tension in the shop dissipated as the door clicked shut. Mostly.

Nobody was grinning as I walked over. I pumped as much blood as I could into my muscles and rammed my fist into his solar plexus in a solid sucker punch.. He doubled over and I walked away. It was a poor substitute for what I really wanted to do, but GOD did it feel good.

I crouched down and watched the pandoran in it's glass urn, my attention mostly on Nobody, waiting for the retaliation. I tensed as I heard the whisper of a blade being drawn. He was fucking nuts to draw a knife when all I did was punch him, but I expected the escalation. I tensed to dodge then I heard him curse. He'd fucked up his throw and sliced his hand open. There was a gash a good inch dead in the webbing between his thumb and pointer. I stopped breathing to avoid the smell of blood. I was fucking famished. He can give himself his own damn stitches. I just smirked at him, satisfied, and settled into one of the armchairs.

Which brought my attention back to Rowan's offer. I was at a loss. I didn't know what to do. Contrary to Nobody's opinion, my main concern wasn't other people. That concern was there, but to use Cruac was a choice. My concern was teaching her the Coils. I'd been told that things like that are what get Dragon's dragged out into the sun. Teaching members of other covenants the coils was a heinous crime among the Order.

On the other hand, how many lifetimes would it be before someone as powerful and well connected as Rowan offered me something this good. Cruac, for christsake! God knows what I could do with that sort of knowledge. The thought obtaining that sort of information inspired a deep seated sense of desire I didn't even know I had anymore. But was the cost worth it? Betraying a main precept of the Ordo Dracul?

It took a few minutes of this crippling indecision before it hit me. I came to a realization. It was almost as though I could hear Giuseppe whispering in my ear. I realized I didn't give a shit if I violated the rules. I realized that I hadn't even known that rule until I arrived in Chicago and talked to Norris. It wasn't something Giuseppe had thought important enough to tell me. The only rules that he had been adamant about were the ones concerning diablerie. Which I had never quite understood. I'd looked on his aura countless times. I knew he had done it, but he had never talked about it. Knowing him, he'd manufactured the situation in such a way that he could not be found at fault. God knows how he managed that one...

I felt myself smirking. I thought of Giuseppe's reaction when I came to him and offered to teach him Cruac. He and Mona both. To think of the things we could accomplish with such a resource... the rules be damned. We had been working outside the system for so long, I didn't see much benefit to allowing myself to be restricted by it now..

By eventually my smirk faded, replaced by thoughtful frown. There was still the issue of Norris. Sheriff Norris.. the eyes and ears of the Prince. I had nothing against him personally, quite the opposite.. he'd done nothing but help me out since I got here. It was because of him that I didn't get blamed for the firebombing of Maury's place, despite the (fake) evidence. But he knew everyone and everything that went on in this city. How the fuck would I be able to hide this from him? He'd known where our haven was before we had finished the sunproofing. He was notorious for knowing things he shouldn't know.

This was going to be sticky.. but hell, nothing worth knowing is easy right?

Gio walked out of the kitchen. Ham bone in hand. It looked like he had taken cold cuts and wrapped it around the existing ham. He was eating almost frantically. He was barely stopping to breath. I had a feeling it had something to do with Rowan.

"Whats got you all gloomy?" He said through mouthfuls of cold cuts.

I gave him a look, he rolled his eyes "Fine. GloomiER..Rowan's offer? Norris said he'd kill you if you taught anyone else those things right?"

I nodded. "Yeah. It's illegal.."
Gio grinned at me. "So? I bet uncle wouldn't give a shit."
"Of course he wouldn't. Its Giuseppe.. but that's not the problem. How the fuck am I supposed to keep Norris from finding out?"

Gio looked thoughtful for a moment.. which was rather impressive really. I didn't know one could look thoughtful and intelligent while shoving fistfuls of pig in his face.

"You're going to be learning under Scratch too right? That's how you got him to tell you about the worm, right? Promised to be an 'obedient student?'... From what I hear.. no one likes that guy." And he turned and walked back into the kitchen.

Leave it to the mafioso to come up with a scheme. I stared into that urn without seeing it. Coil training wasn't a quick process. I would be under Scratch's tutelage for the Coils at the same time as I taught Rowan. Why did I chose Scratch as a tutor? Only Dragon in the city who knows anything about the Coil of Beasts.. The coil that will help keep me from becoming a monster.

Maybe.. maybe there was a solution there. Scratch and Rowan hated each other, from what I heard.. but that never stopped vampires from working together before.. Scratch already had a pretty seedy reputation.. I knew he was a diablerist from the moment I set eyes on him (thank god it has been in Elysium). Would it be possible to set him up to take the fall for this? But how the fuck could I manufacture such a situation? Ideally, no one will ever find out..

Realistically.. What could I do to get Norris sniffing in Scratch's direction? And how did I do so without tipping off Scratch? I still needed him for Coils training too. How the fuck does Giuseppe do this shit? Its so fucking complicated.. but at least it was somewhere to start. It probably should have bothered me to be plotting to betray my soon to be teacher.. I decided not to dwell on the fact that it didn't. I had enough to worry about right now.

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