Dresden Files: Venice
For When the TIme is Right
For When the Time is Right
Invitations to the Duke of Milan’s renaisance ball where the hot ticket of the spring and the Guest List was both exclusive and somewhat eclectic. Several of the guests, and all of the members of Masquerade, were outfitted with [[Masks for the Milanese ball |Masks by Malspina
The train had left Venice at just after 8am and thus pulled into Milan station at half past ten. Amongst those on board were [[Dolores Alegra Malspina]], Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini, along with six members of Masquerade; Svetlana Korai, Celia Barbi, Clotilde Courau, Abiella Kiraneau, Carmela da Mosto and Concetta Polani. All were headed for the ball of Ludovico Duke of Milan, and the ladies especially were excited, and in the opinion of Luca, over luggaged! Ever the gentleman, he looked around for a porter (or three!) to help but had no luck, Gina on the other hand had little trouble bringing a veritable flock of eager young men to assist. Thus with a fully loaded trolley the group made their way outside and had little trouble finding the private coach and driver that had been sent to collect them. Loading was quick and soon the group were on their way.
During the journey (which took almost two hours) both Luca Porrini and Dolores Alegra Malspina spent time talking the members of Masquerade and found rather strangely that although they had been hired to provide skills at 16th century dancing for the Ball, they had little or no experience in that area, and were at that moment engaging in some quick research.
As the coach wound up the final road towards Fenis Castle, Dolores Alegra Malspina stared up at the imposing structure and frowning foccussed the ’’sight’’ upon it. The imposing mass swirled, a regular but mutable structure, ‘’for when the time is right’‘. She shuddered and brought her concentration back to the real world, but was left with a feeling of being mildly ’’attuned’’ to the ancient structure.
Passing through the outer gatehouse the coach pulled up, and was quickly met by liveried footmen, who collected the luggage and started bringing it into the castle. Masquerade, Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini were met at the top of the entrance ramp by Tiziana Candeo the Duke’s personal assistant who efficiently allocated them their rooms (the ladies of Masquerade on level one, the others on level three) and informed the dancers they were running a ‘dance workshop’ between 3pm and 6pm this afternoon for those who wished to brush up their skills. This led to the dancers hurrying to their rooms to prepare whilst Luca, Gina and Dolores headed upstairs at a more leisurely rate to check out their accomodation. The rooms although somewhat original in furnishing were comfortable and spacious (though the seperate bathrooms were somewhat of a shock). Looking around, Luca phoned Svetlana Korai to see what her accomodation was like, she arrived at his door a few minutes later and bounced onto his four poster bed. She explained the dancers had shared rooms (she was with Celia Barbi) and given that she would much rather share with Luca, although she would keep her costumes downstairs to make changing easier.
Having been informed that a buffet lunch would be served in the dining hall, Luca Porrini led Svetlana Korai, Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina down to see what was available. A few people had already arrived, and were standing around the buffet area (which was loaded with food served on what appeared to be antique silver and crystal glass). Despite Svetlana’s worries, Luca was fairly sure the pure silver would have no effect oin him. Dolores Alegra Malspina aproached an older gentleman who introduced himself as Amato Capello, a retired naval captain. He admitted to having been to Venice on a few occasions, but had been away from Italy for most of his career. Dolores assesment of him as being a ‘’Master of the Waves’’ was somewhat in character. Gina Tortelli meanwhile had drifted towards another gentleman, and struck up a conversation. He turned out to be an Italian banker Elano Urgaro, of Swiss parents he was formal and polite, although Gina’s assesment of his ‘’Lethal Precision’’ caused her a certain amount of hesitation. With Luca still busy chatting to Svetlana Korai, Dolores politely moved away away from Amato Capello and towards an elegant middle aged woman whose accent she quickly placed as Austrian. The woman, Johanna Krantz was happy to chat and told Dolores that as far as she knew, three Dukes were due at the Ball this evening, the Dukes of Savonna, Milan and Palma. During their conversation, Dolores eventually remembered Johanna was formerly a fashion model and that she had retired when she got married. The fact that she seemed to bear the aspect ‘’Kiss of the Spider Woman’’ caused Dolores a little constenation. However at that point everyones atention was drawn to the door as a young man Paride Zino entered, causing muffled shrieks and pointing from the members of Masquerade who had just arrived. Faced with Luca’s incomprehension, Svetlana Korai pointed out that Paride Zino was on last years ’Italy’s Got Talent’ and based on that had made it into a popular Boy Band.
As the lunch buffet continued Dolores Alegra Malspina struck up a conversation with Hieronomo Gazmilli the director of the Turin Art Museum, he mentioned he had travelled to Venice in the past and was familiar with Uncle Guilio. Having slightly drifted away from this conversation, Gina Tortelli made an approach to Barbetta Timoria, the directors PA, who seemed a little nervous and distracted. She admiited this was her first trip with the director and she was unsure why exactly he had brought her, Gina supplied one suggestion which she looked somewhat shocked at. She was especially confused as the director of the Milan Fashion Museum Nerezza Ermacora was also here and they were not the best of friends. Meanwhile Luca Porrini and Svetlana Korai spent time talking to Peter Kradmanz a Swiss buisnessman and maker of high end clocks and clockwork devices. Whilst conversing with the guests Luca noted that one, and only one of the maids (who spent time refreshing the buffet tables) wore gloves. She also seemed particularly strong and well balanced despite some rather precipitous heels which made up for her short stature.
After lunch, and having changed into long skirts or dresses in the case of Svetlana Korai and the other dancers, the group returned to the ballroom for the dance class. Various people attended the class, amongst whom was Francisco Motella who was paired with Clotilde Courau, she quickly recognised he was a perfectly good dancer. Arriving during this time]]as Dario Falco, the Duke of Savonna. He recognised Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli and approached them in the hope they had located his mask. Dissapointed that they had not, and that it appeared to have been stolen last night from Ca’Rezonicca, he subsequently engaged Luca Porrini to recover it. With the class in full swing, and Masquerade managing to teach elegantly if not effectively, Duke Marzio Candego of Palma arrived and took some dance instruction from Abiella Kiraneau. Luca noticed at this time that the maid he had seen earlier with the gloves was also present (tidying) and was keeping a close eye on the Duke. Over the course of several hours some twenty plus guests arrived for dance instruction, which on the whole went quite well.
Dressing for the Ball took some longer than others, but most of Masquerade, along with Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini managed to get down to the ballroom just before 8pm and join the queue or revellers waiting to be introduced to the room. Whilst waiting in the queue, Gina noticed an elegant mirror on the wall, with the reflection of a woman in it, a woman who was not standing in the room! Peering closer she observed the figure reflected deeper and deeper in its many reflective iterations. Her senses identified the mirror as an object ‘’Beyond Time’’. She had just commented on this to Dolores when the Herald announced ’Miss Luisa Mancuso! However by the time they had peered in that direction the lady had proceeded down into the ball and they got no sight of her outfit or mask.
Finding himself in the minority (at least at the start of the Ball), Luca Porrini stepped forward gallantly to invite a lady in a red dress and mask to dance. She admiited to getting an invite to the Ball because she was a friend of Tiziana Candeo who was apparently worried that there would not be enough women at the event. Elsewhere, after a short visit to the buffet table, Dolores Alegra Malspina was invited to dance by a man in a harlequin costume, whom once they are out on the floor, turned out to be the Marquis de Carabas. He seemed keen to learn ‘if she brought it’ and is reassured when Dolores confirms she has done so. Having escorted his first partner to the buffet table, Luca was almost immediately out on the floor again with another woman, who after a few minutes conversation turned out to be Luisa Mancuso. Concerned with her story of simply passing from one disasterous evening to another, some apparently in the future, some in the past; Luca led her off the floor and over to where Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli were standing. She had just managed to recount this disjoointed tale when the Duke of Milan appeared on the second floor balconey. His speech was grandious and somewhat unexpected. After thanking everyone for coming he told them how pleased he was the castle was going to be used once again for its intended purpose and apologised to the ‘innocent’ for what was about to happen. By this point Gina had worryingly realised that the guests for from being almost entirely mundane, were in fact mostly supernatural of some flavour or another. She was just about to warn the others of this fact when a gun shot rang out and lifted the waitress behind them off her feet and across the buffet table in a whelter of blood! This started the screaming, which was exasperated when one of the other guests mutated in a tall powerful werewolf!
This prompted screaming and a lot of panicing, with guests and staff running in all directions. Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina scrambled over towards the waitress whilst Luisa Mancuso hid under the table and Luca Porrini stood up and tried to spot where the shot had come from. Amazingly the woaitress was still alive, despite a massive hole in her chest and much of her internal organs turned to mush. Suspecting her supernatural heritage was keeping her alive, Dolores rerached into her chest and calling upon all her powers tried to reknit the flesh, or at least hold it together whilst her body did the work itself. Little able to help in this, Gina stood up and bellowed to everyone to calm down and pay attention, they all needed to work together to get out of this. As she strode to the middle of the room the tall werewolf turned to her and commented her only use in this point was as food! As he strode towards her Luca charged full pelt at him and slammed into him.
Luca Porrinis impact did almost nothing to the werewolf, whose backhand slap sends Luca crashing through a table, but he scrambles to his feet and lets loose a growl of anger, shaking offf the minor damage the impact had caused. Dolores let loose a bolt of magical power but the creature shrugs it off as if it was nothing. Looking up from the wounded waitress, Dolores studied the creature identifying it as not just a werewolf, but a Loup-Garou, a creature vulnerable only to antique silver! With a burst of wit she cried out:
“Use the forks Luca!”
TBC – combat, Werewolf retreats and Guiselle Courtoire ‘recovers’
TBC – Conversation with Elizabetta
TBC – Dolores sees through the mask to look for Svetlana
He was not however reckless and having noted the headless body lying on the floor moved cautiously, which allowed him to notice the presure pad and the monofilament wire it triggered! Avoiding it,he headed onto the balcony and looked around, Masquerade where nowhere in sight, but there was a lingering odour of their passing to the right, and thus he headed in that direction and up the first staircase he came across.
TBC – Gina and Dolores leave ballroom
TBC – Dolores hexes the drone
Luca Porrini spots the entrance to the castle cellars and accompanied by Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli heads in that direction. The door opens smoothly and without noise, revealing stairs leading down into darkness. Dolores conjures a little light and Luca leads the ladies down into what appears to be a wine cellar. The three wander through the cellar, where Dolores helps herself to a bottle of wine and is ‘’fortified by a stiff drink’‘. Meanwhile Luca has found a section of wall from which issues a gentle breeze. After a little investigation he manages to release a catch and the wall swings open revealing a corridor sloping down and around to the right. Quietly he leads the ladies along and down the corridor, with Dolores confirming they are still heading towards the missing dancers. The passage eventually ends on a rough stone balcony overlooking what appears to be some form of ruined temple. Steps lead down a couple of metres to the floor, the centre of which is dominated by an arcane engraving of immense size. Its complex thaumaturlogical formula is ’adorned’ by the bodies and blood of three women (including Nerezza Ermacora), strategically placed to power the construct and potentially open a portal to the underworld. Off to one side are the bound, gagged and futily struggling forms of Clotilde Courau, Carmela da Mosto, Barbetta Timoria and a woman the three do not recognise. Of major initial interest however are the five white robed figures do the chanting, and abvoulsly working a ritual of very dubious morality.
As Luca Porrini, Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina whisper discussions as to how they can rescue the women, a figure enters the chamber from another direction, the Marquis de Carabas. Most of the chanting stops and heads are turned in his direction. Luca, Dolores and Gina take this opportunity to sneak down the steps and across to the women, their movements concealed by a dose of Dolores’s disappearing dust. The Marquis seems intent on aggravating the cultists and just after Gina frees the hands and feet of the last woman, the head cultist draws a heavy gun and shoots the Marquis in the chest. He collapses across the thaumaturgical formula, his blood oozing into the script and powering it up another level. Luca and the ladies have just made top of the steps and they are spotted, they rush up the passage, bullets chipping the stone of the doorway behind them.
Crashing through the concealed door into the cellar, Luca Porrini, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli slam the door behind them and quickly pile furniture and a wine rack in front of it to stop it being opened. At this point they notice that much of the floor is inches deep in salt water! Improvising, Luca rips down the electrical cable feeding the lights and drops it in the liquid, before continuing up to the courtyard.
The courtyard is hardly more welcoming as their are body parts scattered across it and a very large bipedal scarab beetle standing staring at them. Luca Porrini shifts form into sphinx and launches himself at the creature leaving it with a ‘’moderately broken leg’’ despite its heavy armour. Gina Tortelli launches a blast of freezing air at it, leaving it with a ‘’seriously frozen carapace’’. As Luca circles it looking for an opening, Gina and Dolores Alegra Malspina encourage the women to make a run for it. Carmela da Mosto, Barbetta Timoria and Clotilde Courau rush up the stairs, but the unknown woman faints! Fortunately Luca manage to land another blow, fatally cracking the creatures carapace and it falls lifeless to the floor. Gina and Dolores set off after the other women, whilst Luca picks up the one who fainted and heads after them. Unfortunately Clotilde Courau turns the wrong way at the top of the stairs and with Dolores in hot pursuit rushes round the first floor balcony only to come to a halt in front of a huge male lion! A tense standoff occurs, with the women slowly retreating under the creatures intense gaze, until they get out of sight and which point they race off towards the third floor.
Arriving at Luca Porrini’s room (which is rapidly filling up with women in various states of dress), he, Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli, Clotilde Courau, Carmela da Mosto, and Barbetta Timoria, along with the unconscious woman he is carrying gain entry. There is a short catch up session; after which Luca, Dolores and Gina decide they have to go back downstairs to foil the ritual. Guiselle Courtoire props herself up in bed and despite the horrendous wound to her abdomen looks like she will try to join them, when Svetlana Korai pushes her back down, complaining she has only just managed to get the bleeding stopped.