Dresden Files: Venice
Everything has Consequences
It would seem for once Venice is quiet, La Biennale has finally finished, the film festival is on its last week, and if it where not for the hordes of tourists taking advantage of the last of the good summer weather, the city would almost be peaceful. Almost anyway. It was tuesday afternoon when DS Bopo Orbel came into the Ponte Antico shop seeking to talk to Dolores Alegra Malspina. Seeing that whatever he needed to say, required to be done in private she escorted him into the rear of the shop where after a delay he rather awkwardly started asking her questions about her last contact with Inspector Masa Ursetta. She replied honestly that she had not seen him for several weeks, and during their conversation it transpired that he had been shot and killed on duty the previous day. Handing her the photo of her he had kept on his desk, he was possibly about to elucidate, when his mobile phone rang and then failed as he tried to answer it. He borrowed the shop phone to make a call, and Dolores listened in, a quick evocation enabling her to hear both sides of the conversation. Apparantly an explosion had occured in the Canareggio district, and he was required at the scene immediately. Making his excuses he rushed from the shop. Dolores headed into the front of ths shop, and shared what had happened with Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini. It was only at this point they realised that the address was Miss Hedgi Lamar’s studio where Maria Tortelli worked. Gina pulled out her phone, neither her tracking evocation, nor the mobile network could locate Maria and so she ran from the shop, Luca close on her heels. Dolores meanwhile headed out back to a bottle, and was joined a few moments later by Nina DaCosta who had closed the shop, and who took a second glasss to drink to the memory of Masa Ursetta.
The scene around the former warehouse studio of Miss Hedgi Lamar was close to chaos when Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini arrived. Police had sealed off the area and firefighters where still trying to bring the blaze in the building under control. Also present where a number of heavily armed police officers obviously securing the scene. Gina’s rush towards the building was halted at the police line, and after explaiing who she was (the sister of someone who should be inside) she was led to one side to talk to superintendant of police, Aldo Daldi, after he had finished giving a statement to the press. The superintendant emphasised that the explosion seemed to be an accident with gas cylinders and that at the present time they could not confirm any of the people who had been present. He did however arrange for her details to be taken and a DNA sample obtained in case it became necccesary for identification purposes. With the scene too dangerous to enter, she and Luca then headed away, crossing the canal and entering Dante Court, from which there was a small private bridge straight into the rear of the studio building. The square was quiet considering the chaos close by, with the fountain still trickling and the gentle rsutling of a breeze in the long dead ivy. Luca noticed two new statues whish he took to be Delilah’s work but he and Gina were more concerned with the bridge,which seemed to have suffered in the explosion and now only partially spanned the canal. Gina looked meaninfully at Luca and whilst he shed his clothes and placed them in her bag (preparitorially to changing into a sphinx) she forced through a quick piece of thaumaturgy veiling her presence and that of anything she touched/held. The gap across the canal barely proved a challenge to Luca, even with Gina on his back, and in barely a bound he was atop the outer wall of the remains of the warehouse. From above the scene inside was even worse, smoke pouring from the shatterd roof and several fireman on ladders and platforms pouring water into the ruins. Heading inside was impossible so Gina grabbed a piece of the roof and Luca carried her back unseen into Dante Court. There she placed it, and a drop of her blood into the fountain, enhancting as she did so. The water rippled, and slowly foccused on a likeness of the inside of the warehouse, as it stood at that very moment. Carefully she scanned her diviniation, senses on high alert for anything unusual, but all she could determine was there had been a large explosion with no sign of a supernatural cause. With the light fading, Dante Court becoming more menacing, and Luca sensing a large malevolent prsence, he quickly changes back into his clothes and the two head back towards the Ponte Antico shop.
Arriving back at the Ponte Antico shop, Luca Porrini and Gina Tortelli joined Nina DaCosta and Dolores Alegra Malspina in drinking to the memory of Inspector Masa Ursetta. Dolores wanted to know exactly what had happened, so Nina DaCosta asked Luca if he had any contacts who could get her into the morgue. Luca admitted he had, and phoned Nunzio Arbatti. After some small talk, and Luca’s promise to fix another date for Nunzio with Celia Barbi, he agreed to let them in at one in the morning to see the body. By this time, Dolores was very drunk and the other three had to help her upstairs, where in the living room Luca noticed a new painting over the fireplace. It showed a countryside scene with an airship floating over a town in the background, and nobody knew how it had got into the apartment! Finally, Luca contacted Svetlana Korai to let her know what had happenend and that he would in all likelyhood be home late that night.
Luca Porrini escorts Nina DaCosta to the morgue, where after a short delay Nunzio Arbatti lets them in through the side entrance. Curious, he leads them to Inspector Masa Ursetta‘s body and then lurks at the back to watch what is happening. Nina has no trouble contacting the ex-policeman and gets from him the story of what happened, (as well as a series of comments she does not transalte to Luca). It appears the inspector and another police officer were escorting Luisa Mancuso, by boat, from the mental hospital to a safe house when they were boarded and both policeman shot dead by a man in a grey suit, white shirt, grey shoes and with pale white hair. Before he slipped completely away, the inspector did note that the assailant tore back Luisa’s blouse to check the Gothic Cross and Butterfly tattoos she had. Nunzio Arbatti is incredibly excited by what is happening, he ahs seen proof of an urban myth, people who can talk to the dead. He tells Luca he is going to share what he has seen on the morgue forums, and Luca threatens him (with no more dates with Celia Barbi) to ensure he keeps the posts anonymous. With no more information forthcoming from the ghost, Luca escorts Nina from the morgue and home.
Dolores Alegra Malspina rises late the following morning (luckily Nina DaCosta was at work on time and opened up). Passing through the living room she spots the painting on the wall and not remebering how it came to be there, asks Nina DaCosta to check with Uncle Guilio, according to Nina he refuses to answers and so she heads into her workshop to continue work on the commisions. This is useful as mid-morning she gets a call from Sergai Rastakari‘s secretary saying he will be in town on saturday to collect the commission, and take her to dinner. Gina Tortelli finaly despairs of the arguements and tantrums of her family and phones the shop to get Dolores to ’summon’ her to work, simply to get away from them. Thus she is there when Luca Porrini finally rolls ot of bed at just past midday (Svetlana Korai also having no appointments today) and phones the shop. He promises to come over later after Dolores and Gina have a chance to talk to Nina DaCosta about the visit to the morgue, and on a whim phones Sandra Delisto a friend of his on the Venice police force. She tells him that no progress has been made on the murder of the two policeman and the kidnapping of Luisa Mancuso, and further that three or four bodies had been recovered from the scene of the explosion yesterday. Thanking her, he enjoys a light lunch on the balconey of his apartment with Svetlana Korai, followed by a quiet afternoon, before heading over to the shop bearing pastries and a light desert wine.
Arriving at the Ponte Antico shop at closing time, Luca Porrini joined Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli and Nina DaCosta in the lounge to compare notes. With the conversation turning to the Gothic Cross tattoo seen on Luisa Mancuso, Nina DaCosta reluctantly shared more of what she knew about it. According to her it is the identifying mark of the Shadow Sisters who are a form of ‘sorority’ present in Venice, and mostly composed of “spoiled, rich-kid, *&‘^5’s”. Apparantly they practice ‘ritual magic’ for which they have no aptitude and which never works. Connections are made in the information gained and it becomes apparant that in all proabability at least one of the Shadow Sisters was present at the chuch of San Bonaventura when Luisa Mancuso was discovered and that is how news of her survival likely leaked.
With the concensus of opinion that more information is required, preperations are made to visit the Dark Cross club. Gina Tortelli takes Dolores Alegra Malspina in hand to sort out her outfit, whilst Nina DaCosta heads home to change, and Luca Porrini heads home to collect new clothes and finds Svetlana Korai is keen to join the outing and has a more than suitable outfit!
Thus a little after 8pm, Luca Porrini and the ladies approach the Dark Cross nightclub There is a small queue outside, but that proves no impediment given the composition of the group and Svetlana Korai‘s outfit, which is more burleque than goth. Once inside Svetlana Korai collects the first round of drinks whilst the others find somewhere to sit and take a look around. Although quiet there are a few things for them to consider; Dolores Alegra Malspina spots her cousin Carlo Malspina at the far end of the club, whilst Luca notes Orabella observing them from the balconey above, and Nina DaCosta exchanges meaningful glances with Xaviera Giansante across the room. There is no time for much contemplation though, as Svetlana Korai returns with drinks and drags Gina Tortelli and Luca out onto the ’dancefloor’. She and Gina are soon the centre of attention, something for which Luca is somewhat grateful. Carlo Malspina takes the opportunity to approach Dolores and exchange pleasantries, introducing his companion as Piera. He is back in Venice for her graduation, and during the conversation mentions that there was some form of incident at Venice university this afternoon, with an apparant exchange of gunfire! Whilst Piera gets some drinks, the two exchange the latest family news and Carlo Malspina asks for a signed photo of Svetlana Korai! He departs just as Svetlana Korai and Luca leave the dancefloor. Whilst heading back to the others, she mentions to Luca that saturday will be Rachelle Lenco‘s last performance with Masquerade as she is leaving to work for La Belle D’Venice. She is concerned and Luca promises to talk with Rachelle and Cossette. Meanwhile Nina DaCosta mentions that there are no ghosts in the club, and in fact considerably fewer in Venice at the moment, and those there are are more billegerent. With no sign of any of the Shadow Sisters in the club, Dolores notes a man in a burgandy coat watching her, Nina DaCosta does not recognise him, and so with the others watching, she heads over to talk to him. He offers her a drink and they exchange pleasantries, he apparantly knows her and addresses her as ‘wizard’. Invited over to meet the rest of the group, he is especially pleased to meet Luca and Gina, obviously knowing them by reputation but not by sight. He introduces himself as Orso Tamori, and apparantly knows Nina DaCosta although she cannot ever remember meeting him. Dolores determines ‘Visuals it has to have visuals’ and ‘Reality is the only way’ as parts of his character, whilst Gina is more disturbed to assess him as a ‘Red Court Vampire Sadist’. Luca notes that Orabella has moved to a new position to watch the conversation.
Eventualy Orso Tamori excuses himself, leaving Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina to compare notes on what they have just witnessed; their privacy protected by a little evocation Dolores conjures up. Gina checks the internet on her phone for details of the university incident but finds nothing pertinent. Dolores mentions to Svetlana Korai that Carlo Malspina asked for a signed photo of her. She smiles and produces one. A little later when she and Nina DaCosta return from the ladies room, they stop and talk to Carlo Malspina and Piera Onyaro; and during the conversation Luca Porrini notes Svetlana slip something to Piera. As the night drifts onwards, Nina DaCosta notes Caprice DeTisi ina 1920s Outfit talking to Xaviera Giansante. Gina heads over to talk to them and takes the opportunity to ask Caprice DeTisi about the incident at the university. She only knows that the police are still looking for someone in relation to it, and as she is more interested in her drink and talking archaeology, Gina leaves after a polite time. As the evening draws to a close, Dolores and Luca notice an unusual man heading down the stairs and out the door. He draws attention due to his appearance, white dreadlocks, a purple suit, cravat and walking stick. Nina says she has not seen him before. With everyone preparing to leave, Luca spots Orso Tamori leaving with a young woman (Bibianna Falco); after just a quick glance both Dolores and Gina think she is human. Luca discretely follows, in his pocket a packet of invisibility dust Dolores handed him. The rest of the group prepare to leave, only to discover that Svetlana Korai has gone missing.
Gina Tortelli conjures a quick app on her phone to enable her and the rest to follow Svetlana Korai, who it turns out is following Luca Porrini. Luca is not happy when he discovers Svetlana folllowing him, but grabs her and continues to follow Orso Tamori and the girl, down an alley. The two are apparantly ‘making out’ in the shadows, and there is a trickle of blood pouring down her neck, its not a large quantity and Luca is more concerned about the recent Gothic Cross tattoo on her shoulder (as the girl is probably addicted to his saliva and less likely to be killed by him); the mark of the Shadow Sisters. As they leave the alley, Nina DaCosta, Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina enter it, and also pass by Orso Tamori and the girl (Bibianna Falco) who seem to take no notice. When Nina DaCosta turns her ankle, Gina phones Luca and they meet up and go to a cafe to treat her ankle and discuss matters.
Everyone splits up to head home, and upon arrival at his apartment Luca Porrini finds an oil painting of a woman in the 1920s Outfit seen on Caprice DeTisi earlier in the evening now hanging on his wall. Svetlana Korai has no idea where it came from, and despite there being a unreadable signature there is no sign of who painted it. Luca is distracted from further investigation by Svetlana.
Next morning (thursday), Nina DaCosta has arrived at the Ponte Antico shop wearing flat shoes due to her still damaged ankle. Dolores Alegra Malspina settles her down on a stool for the days work, subtly treats her with an enchanted mask, and continues in the back room on her commisions. The news reports are most interesting, it appears the police are searching for a young woman possibly kidnapped yesterday afternoon during the incident at the university, the photo shows her to be Orso Tamori’s victim last night Bibianna Falco.
Luca Porrini has seen the same news report as he is eating breakfast, however he is interrupted when a gunshot smashes through the balconey window and a bullet rips through his chest. Svetlana Korai rushes from the shower to aid him, and wary of further shots he encourages her back into the bathroom to try and clean up. He phones Dolores Alegra Malspina for help and she presses ‘F1’ for Gina Tortelli who finishes putting on her dress before rushing over to his assistance.
!!! Part Five
Arriving at Luca Porrini‘s apartment, Gina Tortelli treats Luca for the bullet wound, and whilst Svetlana Korai prepares to go to a rehearsal with the rest of Masquerade, digs the bullet out of the floor. It is of a large calibre and made of a silvery metal. When Svetlana finally departs, Gina sets up a ritual to enable her to look at the shooter. He moves incredibly fast, able to stand and shoulder his weapon before the bullet has even struck home. Other than this he is of average hieght and build, with non-descript clothing and a confident aire. Luca packages the bullet to be sent Fed-Ex to Dr Helen Magnus and Gina drops it into the post office on her way back to the Ponte Antico shop. Luca then phones a glazier, making sure to order the replacement of ’bullet proof’ glass.
Phoning around his contacts Luca Porrini has little luck in finding out anything about the assassin. Don Joseph Tormelli knows nothing about the man but would be interested in any details as the shooting took place in Venice without his prior knowledge! Others simply know nothing, but he does arrange lunch with Cossette as she wants to talk with him (and he with her). Having been appraised of what happened she is concerned for Luca’s safety but knows of no creature faster than a vampire. She does however want him to look into a slight case of ‘breaking and decorating’; it appears somebody left an oil painting of white painted house and country garden on her wall, in a similar style to those found at the Ponte Antico shop and Luca’s apartment. In return Luca gently enquires about Rachelle Lenco‘s upcoming employment with La Belle D’Venice. Cossette assures him that the girl will be fine, as assets such as her apparantly only come along once in a generation, and need to be treaed with respect. Slightly molified by this the two head their seperate ways, with Luca taking a copy of the photo Cossette took of her painting.
After lunch Luca Porrini phones Dr Magnus and explains what happened. She agrees to analyse the bullet when it arrives and is the first to be able to shed some light on the shooters speed. Apparantly a form of magical tattoo exists which can allow the user to stretch time, it seems to have originated in east Asia, but she has only come across references to it. Incidentally she has also recieved a painting, hung on the library wall at Sanctuary HQ in New York of a paddle wheeled ship at sea. The security tapes for the area are no help, they show it simply coming int existence between one frame and the next (1/25th of a second). Luca agrees to investigate that further as well.
Meanwhile at the Ponte Antico shop, Dolores Alegra Malspina is working hard to finish the commision for Sergai Rastakari along with Masquerades bird masks, whilst Nina DaCosta and Gina Tortelli man the front of the shop. Luca Porrini arrives just before closing and all settle down for cakes and proseco. Intrigued by the coincidence she observed last night, Gina Tortelli phones Caprice DeTisi to find out where she got the 1920’s Outfit she was wearing last night. Apparantly it came from a small boutique in a back alley run by an old woman (Marla Grimani).
With Nina DaCosta making her way home, Gina Tortelli, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Luca Porrini head to the alleyway they saw Orso Tamori and Bibianna Falco in last night. There, when Gina and Luca find blod spots on the floor, Gina conjures up her tracking app to try and trace the owner (assumed to be Bibianna Falco). The evocation indicates an upward slant, and heading around the corner it becomes apparant it shows the top room of a tower several hundred yards away.
Luca Porrini, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli head towards the tower for a closer look. Originally part of a church, it is now attached to a palazzo and has an entrance both from there and at the base of the tower itself. Dolores scatters dissapearing dust over Luca as he slips out of his clothing and changes form. He then leaps skywards, circling upwards around the building. As he does so, Dolores opens her mind to the sight, examining the metaphysical nature of the building. To her magical vision, it appears as an ivy covered structure with a stronger than average threshold (3) and the aspect ‘A place of enchantments’. Reaching the top, Luca can see flickering lights and moving shadows in the upper room, which has three stained glass windows on each side. He settles on the roof amongst the gargoyles and listens: from inside he can hear female voices arguing, they are planning to use ‘the book’ and ‘if anything happens to her, well its her own fault’, after all ‘she sold us out to a psychotic vampire!’. Dropping back down he reports back to the ladies as he retrieves his clothes and the three decide immediate action is needed. With the door at the bottom of the tower ajar, the three enter and climb the stairs. As they rise higher they can hear the sound of latin singing.
Entering the tower room, Luca Porrini, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli come face to face with a dozen young women in evening gowns gathered around a thaumatergical pattern engraved in the floor. Bound and gagged in the centre of the pattern and wearing just her underwear is another girl. Holding a book and leading the singing is the woman seen previously leaving the Dark Cross nightclub, behind her is Bibianna Falco. Several of the other girls also look familiar, many visibly have the Gothic Cross tattoo of the Shadow Sisters whilst some also have a Butterfly tattoo. The scene is so staged, the candles, holders and drapes of such high quality that Dolores automatically looks for Orso Tamori. Dolores and Gina step forward to interrupt, and are shouted at by the leader who ‘explains’ that the bound girl sold them out to Vico Malvera who is now a vengeful spectre. But thanks to her, the ritual shje is leading will put him down permanently, and may not kill the obviously terrified bound girl. Dolores concludes to herself that the ritual may be correct, but none of the Shadow Sisters have any magical ability! As an arguement ensues, Luca transforms into sphinx form, scattering several of the girls who scream and run and hide, either behind the drapes or upstairs. Of the few that are left (Carla Spina, Bibianna Falco,Letzia Salvail, Vitorio Drago and one other), Dolores identifies the one as Orso Tamori in disguise, something he smilingly admits to. At that point there is screaming from upstairs!
Luca Porrini (in sphinx form) leads the charge up the stairs towards the source of the scream, emerging in a shadowy room around which are exposed many of the wooden beams that hold together the top of the tower. Joined quickly by Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina, they spot three of the Shadow Sisters in different predicaments. One is lying on the floor twitching, one is desperately screaming and trying to claw at a metal mesh net which is tangled with her hair, dress, gloves and skin!, whilst the third is trying to wriggle her hands free of the binding that holds them trapped behind her back around a large beam. Luca pauses at the girl with the net attached to her, but quickly relaises his paws are not up for the delicate task of releasing her from the visciously hooked net; instead a gentle pat with his paw leaves her ’’stunned’’ and stops her doing any more damage to herself. Starting to move into the room, Gina spots a silver ‘ball’ arcing towards her, she tries to dodge, unnsuccesfully and is almost instantaniously entangled in a mesh net festooned with razor sharp barbed hooks. Dolores meanwhile concentrates, opening her senses to the room seeking whatever danger lurks within, she percieves an area of ‘shadows where a 1000 eyes are watching’. Luca presses on towards the girl tied to the beam, and comes face to face with a man in a grey suit, white shirt and grey shoes (Roberto Malvera): who shoots at point blank range. Only Luca’s lightning reflexes save him but he still sustains a mild ‘’bullet graze’‘. Realising mundane removel of the net would cause her serious injury, Gina summons her magic and turns the net mostly insubstantial for a short period. She thus manages to slip out of it, sustaining a mild ’’scratch’’ from a couple of the hooks and a mild ’’headache’’ from the concentration involved. Dolores meanwhile focusses her talent on the mans gun willing it to fail. Luca is happy to find it does when the mans next attempt to shoot him fails. Free of her own entanglement, Gina heads over towards the girl Luca stunned, and with another application of magic removes it without causing her any further harm. A cursory examination shows that she is liable to recover soon, and interestingly has a Butterfly tattoo below her shoulderblade. Denied his gun, the man produces a series of knives, one he throws at Dolores causing a slight nick whilst he uses another to try and gut Luca. Only the sphinxes hieghtened agility enables him to avoid further injury. Gina now turns her attention to the man, evoking a ram of air which knocks him backwards causing mild ’’bruising’’ and ‘’torn muscles’‘. Dolores throws the knife back at him, unfortunately hitting the girl tied to the beam and causing a mild ’’stab wound’’. Engaged in mellee with Luca the man still finds time to launch a stake at Dolores causing her a moderate ’’staked’’ wound. Gina finally snaps, and puts all her remaining force behind a final air ran evocation, it smashes the man against the external wall shattering internal organs and leaving him oozing blood from a dozen openings. He slides to the ground, dead. Gina sinks to her knees with the exertion, her head pounding and her body weak from the effort. After helping the the three girls downstairs; Luca, Gina and Dolores find that Orso Tamori and Bibianna Falco have vanished. Carla Spina calmly gets her phone from her bag and calls her mother to remove ‘the dead man’ from her tower, before rallying the Shadow Sisters to start a ritual search for Luisa Mancuso. Gina steps into her realm to recover. Luca accepts a pouch of ‘viel of invisibility’ before flying home to be welcomed by Svetlana Korai who seems happy to accept that this is his work and ‘the other man looked worse’. Dolores walks home, opens a bottle of wine and raises Nina DaCosta’s salary for having had to tolerate the Shadow Sisters.
The day starts slowly at the Ponte Antico shop with Nina DaCosta opening up and Dolores Alegra Malspina working on the Masquerade commission. Uncle Guilio however has a number of things to say, and his recommendation to check ‘’uncle guilios notes’’ is not ignored by Dolores who discovers that the Spina and Malspina family where once the same, but split in the 16th century. Furthermore the Spina family made their money in silks (with factories primarily in Lucca), and interestingly seem to have a recessive gene for a fey creature known commonly as a ‘’drider’‘. Mulling over the information, Dolores returns to finishing up the masks for tommorrow. As the shop gets busier, Nina DaCosta presses ’F1 for help’ to get Gina Tortelli and rather enigmatically store her wish for later use.
At his apartment, Luca Porrini spends a relaxing morning watching Svetlana Korai try on different outfits and practice for tommorrows performance. Later he starts ringing around his contacts for more information on Roberto Malvera and eventually ends up heading down to St. Marks square to meet with Mario the Juggler. From him he recieves confirmation that Roberto Malvera arrived in town eight days ago, shot Inspector Masa Ursetta and was responsible for the shooting incident at the university on wednesday. As for where Luisa Mancuso may have been put, his only suggestions are; a boat, or a dead space in an old building (perhaps Dante Court). As for the sniper, he reckons the person who hired him was Alessia Agostino but as to who he is, he has no idea.
Mid afternoon at the Ponte Antico shop, Nina DaCosta brings two special customers; Sylia and Rachelle Lenco back to the workroom to see Dolores Alegra Malspina. It seems Rachelle needs a selection of masks for her new occupation, and Malspinas is the place to come. With things quiet in the shop, Dolores takes the ooportunity to do a mould of Rachelle’s head to ensure the masks are a perfect fit. Dolores notes the change in her customers demeanour, Rachelle seems a vampire already in attitude and poise. Talking about her dinner date on saturday with the vampires, Sylia comments that Isabel is about her size and after a quick phone call tells her that Isabel is sending something over for her to wear.
The two women have just left the Ponte Antico shop when Luca Porrini arrives, with his customary bottle and pastries. He has barely been there a few minutes when he recieves a phone call from Svetlana Korai. Her italian seems to have failed her, and from the occasional russian words she sprinkles in, Luca realises she and the rest of Masquerade (including Rachelle Lenco) are being held hostage at the rehearsal hall by an unknown man. Whilst this is going on, a dress arrives by courier from Isabel for Dolores Alegra Malspina. Dolores phones Isabel to say thankyou, and ask for help. A few minutes later Cossette phones Luca Porrini asking him to fix it! The irony of this circular loop is lost on no-one and the three white-court vampires arrive at the shop just twenty minutes later to assist in a rescue attempt.
Gina Tortelli attempts a diviniation, centring on Svetlana Korai. It shows that Svetlana Korai, Clotilde Courau, Carmela Da Mosto, Concetta Polani and Rachelle Lenco are gathered in Clotilde’s apartment, tied to the dining room chairs facing outwards and with the curtains closed. The assassin spotted after the shooting of Luca Porrini is sitting on the sofa trying not to notice Rachelle Lenco. After several ideas are proposed and rejected, it is decided an entry will be made into the apartment from the Nevernever. So Gina Tortelli, Dolores Alegra Malspina, Luca Porrini, Cossette, Sylia and Isabel head across Venice in the ‘real world’ to get into position. Gina opens an entrance into the Nevernever in a shadowy doorway close to the building and the six pass through. The building is decrepit, old and shadowy with flooding of the lower marble floor and a musty smell. Carefully the group ascend the stairs and position themselves for the ‘assault’. Almost together Gina opens a doorway close to the sofa in the main room, whilst Dolores creates her entrance at the doorway to the lounge. Luca leaps through one, Cossette the other. Faster than the eye can track the assassin reacts, drawing a Mac10 machine pistol, firing bursts at Luca (leaving him with a mild bullet graze) and Cossette (missing her as her supernatural reactions twist her out of the way), before moving over to the table and drawing a long heavy knife. As Luca rushes him, Dolores and Gina pass through rapidly joined by Sylia and Isabel. Cossette‘s stab with a razor sharp stilleto is as ineffectual as Luca’s attack and only a hair’s breadth behind it. Dolores and Gina both exercise their talents in trying to jam the assassin’s gun, but he does not try to use it, instead stabbing at Luca and Cossette before vaulting the table to stab at Dolores and slash across Gina leaving her with a mild cut and a moderately slashed arm. Gina’s magical attempt to smash him into the wall fails, whilst Sylia approaches Rachelle Lenco and whispers “Now, use it all”. As if in reponse the Man staggers, clutching his chest and drops dead from a heart attack! Dolores and Isabel step forwards to quell the screaming from the bound members of Masquerade whilst Gina and Luca start to release them. The four white court vampires head away quickly, dropping the now deceased assassin off on their way. A portion of the thousand euros he had on him serves to calm down Clotilde Courau and pay for the repair of the bullet holes in her apartment walls, and then encourages the opening of both a bottle of brandy and then several bottles of wine. A combination of the alcohol, and Dolores warm and engaging personality, soon calms the girls down, and disposes of any thoughts of calling the police or such like. By the end of the evening, everyone has had far too much to drink, especially Dolores whom Clotilde and Carmela have managed to get into part of a costume, and is wobbling through the steps of tommorrows routine. The easy way the girls react around Luca is not lost on the only man present, although Svetlana Korai makes sure his attention (and hands) are otherwise ocupied. Eventually people start to disperse to their own homes, Gina helping Dolores back to the Ponte Antico shop before heading for her own private space, whilst Luca and Svetlana Korai heading for their apartment where Svetlana is keen to show Luca how much she appreciates the rescue.
By the time Dolores Alegra Malspina heads downstairs in the Ponte Antico shop in the morning, Nina DaCosta has opened up and is cleaning the display shelves. Feeling a little the worse for wear after last night, Dolores pops some tablets and a strong coffee before checking the masks for Masquerades performance are ready. Packing up the masks she phones Svetlana Korai before setting off across the city to deliver them to the apartment; ensuring that Nina DaCosta has summoned Gina Tortelli to help out in the shop.
By the time Dolores Alegra Malspina arrives at Luca Porrini‘s apartment (with breakfast), Luca is showered and dressed, although Svetlana Korai’s modesty is covered only by a towel as she sprints for the bathroom (apparantly Svetlana was still very grateful over the resuce the previous night). Svetlana is pleased with the masks, and after getting a signed reciept, Dolores heads back to the Ponte Antico shop, leaving the couple to collect stuff and pack for tonights performance.
Realising that Nina DaCosta will be opening the shop on sunday (to take advanatage of the post Masquerade show buisness), Dolores Alegra Malspina gives her the rest of the day off. Unfortunately shortly after, Gina Tortelli is phoned by her aunt who tells her the police have confirmed that three bodies were recovered from the studio and have been identified as Miss Hedgi Lamar, Delilah and Maria Tortelli. She argues with Dolores to stay at work for over an hour before finally accepting her responsibilities and heading home to deal with the reprucusions. She however does not believe the police report and phones Luca Porrini and demands he investigate. Later in the afternoon Sergai Rastakari‘s lawyer phones and arranges to collect the mask commision. he arrives with two ’assistants’ and after checking the masks and signing the relevant reciepts pays for the work in gold coins.
Accepting Gina Tortelli‘s investigation, Luca Porrini starts by phoning Nunzio Arbatti at the morgue, and in return for a ticket to Masquerades show that night he reads out the relevant bits from the medical records. This shows Delilah’s full name as ‘Delilah Veronica Franco’ and that she was resident at a small pallazo in Venice. Her DNA is on file due to tests after a miscarriage! Finally her only next of kin is listed as a lawyers firm in Rome. Luca reports this to Gina, who is a little confused, she thought Black Court Vampires decayed to dust upon death, although considering all the types lumped in the black court catagory, this may not be the case.
That evening as Dolores Alegra Malspina prepare for her date with Sergai Rastakari, Luca Porrini escorts Svetlana Korai to the Masquerade performance aboard the docked cruise liner. The performance is a riotous success, in no small part due to Rachelle Lenco‘s ability coupled with her newly developed ’talents’. Even Luca is slightly affected by the raw lust she seems to develop in the audience. Nunzio Arbatti is not displeased by this either, as Celia Barbi accompanys him to ‘after show party’ for two.
Dolores Alegra Malspina’s evening also ends romantically after a dinner in one of the most exclusive restaurants in Venice. Having determined that Dolores has no intention of repeating the works she created for him (and thus reducing their value), Sergai Rastakari is the perfect gentleman and invites her back to his yacht for drinks and to collect the dress she left behind last time….