Dresden Files: Venice
Having a Ball
!! Having a Ball
Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli, Svetlana Korai, Clotilde Courau and Luca Porrini arrive at Vienna airport. Having collected their luggage, they head for the exit and on their way are approached by a man in formal attire who bows to Clotilde and informs her that her carriage awaits! It turns out to be a ‘real’ carriage, and hence the ride into town is slower but a bit more formal, than expected. The group are taken to the Palais Hansen hotel where Clotilde’s aunt maintains a suite which she has lent to the sisters (Clotilde and Delphina) for their stay (as well as ensuring there are rooms for her travelling companions). Inside they are greeted by the manager, who turns out to be the sisters cousin, handed their room keys and escorted upstairs without any of the normal checking in requirements. In the hallway outside their rooms they notice a woman polishing the elaborate floor to ceiling mirrors.
Settled in their rooms, Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli, Svetlana Korai and Luca Porrini head to the sisters suite for some drinks and an explanation. It turns out that the sister’s aunt is Marie Elizabeth of Saxe Meiningen the sister in law of Otto von Hapsburg! Furthermore she apparently owns the hotel! This was obviously a cause of some awkwardness for Clotilde who it seems is seen as somewhat of a black sheep, and thus it took more than one bottle of wine to get the entire story out. Still Clotilde seemed not to be too effected by the alcohol and after discussion the group made plans to go to the opera and then to dinner that evening. With that decided Delphina picked up the suites interactive controller and contacted the concierge to obtain tickets.
After a suitable amount of time to prepare themselves and get changed, the family coach was outside to collect Clotilde and Delphina Courau, Svetlana Korai and Luca Porrini, along with Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli and take them to the Vienna opera. There they were escorted to a private box (with waitress service), from which to observe a performance of Elektra by Richard Strauss. Copious alcohol consumption, prompted by Clotilde, ensured that the performance passed with interest, but did not serve to distract from Gina and Dolores noticing three men paying an unnatural amount of interest in the box and its occupants.
During the first course of dinner, Dolores Alegra Malspina became aware of Clotilde and Delphina Courau conversing quietly in french. From what she could understand they were talking about their aunt and what she may be thinking / doing. Her polite eavesdropping is interrupted by a phone call for Gina Tortelli, she takes it, only to find it is in fact for Dolores. It turns out to be Marie Miller (personal assistant to Markus Schlender) who is phoning to make arrangements for the ball. She and Dolores agree that Dolores and Gina will be collected from the hotel at 8pm the following day and that additionally an ‘escort’ will be provided for Gina. Heading back to the table, Gina took time to observe the couple she had noticed earlier, noting that he had the aura of a trained professional. However neither Dolores no Luca noticed anything unusual about the other diners they had noticed earlier that night.
Arriving at the Ball in a horse drawn carriage, Luca Porrini, Delphina Courau and Clotilde Courau could rightly have assumed that there’s was the most unusual transport that evening. It was however eclipsed by the car which pulled up at the red carpet and out of which stepped Matthew, Duke of Vienna accompanied by two young ladies. The three swept in, accompanied by the flashing of a myriad of cameras.
Upon entering the Ball Delphina Courau made her way to join the rest of the debutantes, whilst Clotilde Courau led Luca Porrini up to the first balcony to watch the first waltz. Also there were Dolores Alegra Malspina accompanying Markus Schlender and Gina Tortelli with Captain Julian Schwarz. The waltz passed without incident and the guests descended to take their places at each side of the main hall for the first dance. Somewhat to his surprise, Luca Porrini seems extremely popular among the young women and there is almost a race to take his hand for the first dance. He does not recognise the first of his partners, but they dance passably well and she is immediately replaced with another when the music changes (only later is he informed that Delphina Courau has ‘arranged’ a queue of partners for him in an attempt to fix the unofficial betting). He is just hoping to take a rest when a sensuous woman in a red dress cuts in with supernatural speed. He recognises one of the two women who accompanied Matthew, Duke of Vienna and suspects she may be a a red court vampire. She politely informs him that the Duke does not wish any conflict and will not cause trouble if Luca and his companions does not, something he gladly agrees to. Only when the dance with her is complete does he finally manage to exit the dance floor and up to the balcony and the bar. Dolores meanwhile started the evening by dancing with Markus Schlender, whilst doing so she and he draw the attention of a film crew and at the end are approached for a short interview with Thomas Schafer-Elmayer who seems to know Markus personally. Dolores manages to maintain her dignity well and the two move off after this to collect a drink.
Taking a rest for a moment Dolores Alegra Malspina notes a very well dressed young woman dripping with pearls, wandering slightly aimlessly across the dance floor, slightly concerned at how ‘out of it’ she seems, and admiring the woman’s silk dress, she approaches her and guides her to a table. Unable to get a coherent response from her, Dolores focuses her concentration and ‘sees’ a spreading miasma originating from the girls arm. Blinking from the strain (which has left her with a minor case of ‘’Blurred Vision’’) she returns her focus to reality and looks to the girls arm where there is a distinct scratch. Offering her a drink of water, Dolores suspects she may have been drugged and looks about for assistance, luckily she manages to spot Clotilde Courau and attracts her attention along with Gina Tortelli and eventually Luca Porrini.
Gathering around the woman, neither Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli, Clotilde Courau nor Luca Porrini could get a response from her, although they did deduce she had been drugged, probably via the mark on her arm just above her glove.
Having found no trace of Svetlana Korai in and around the third floor boxes, Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini where initially at a loss, not counting the sounds of a variety of encounters they could hear coming from behind the curtains. At this point Luca remembered that Svetlana had some trouble with the Italian word for cupboard and often referred to the ‘box she kept her clothes in’. The two raced down to the first floor and through one of the doors marked ‘Staff Only’. They needed to check only a few doors before they found one locked. A text to Svetlana confirmed she was indeed inside, but it was now locked! This was not an impediment to Luca however as he quickly picked the lock. Inside was not only Svetlana but an unconscious woman dressed as a debutante, and left in a wheeled laundry basket. Luca remembered dancing with her earlier, when she was also wearing a fortune in diamonds! Svetlana told Luca she was hiding in the ‘box’ to avoid a KGB agent Fadei Lapin who had been following her, and she found the unconscious woman by accident. The door got locked because she didn’t want to be found. Establishing the woman had been drugged, Luca and Gina discussed their options and decided the best was to report the matter to the authorities and let them sort it out. Luca thus headed back to the ball to talk to the policewoman he had talked to earlier whilst Gina stayed with the other two women, Luca had no luck spotting the woman immediately. Which meant that he was not present when the ex-KGB agent, and he was not spotted till he was standing in the doorway pointing a gun at Gina and Svetlana. Faced with little option, Gina unleashed her most potent magic, a wave of sorcery that overloaded his nervous system and smashed him into unconsciousness, but left her with severe ’’Narcolepsy’’. However the man still managed to fire, the bullet slamming into Svetlana’s shoulder. The wound did not seem to bad, and given that Svetlana had slipped into unconsciousness, Gina thought it best to go for help, the problem was it was very quiet in the corridor outside….
Having passed Carmen de Salina off to Captain Julian Schwarz to escort to hospital Dolores Alegra Malspina headed back to the main part of the Ball, where she was intercepted by Alexander Kriessel and a camera crew. Accepting his implied invitation, she took to the dance floor with him and put on a fantastic display.