Dresden Files: Venice
Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know
Traditionally the end of La Biennale is marked by the Venice Film Festival, that, Gina Tortelli suspected was why the Orient Express was pulled in at platform 16 of the main station with a few paparazzi taking shots of the traditonal engine and coachs. Her gaze slipped back to the magazine on her lap as she waited for her sister Lucia Tortelli to return from a few days away with schoolfriends in Milan. Her browsing was interrupted by a down-and-out hopping and sliding in her direction, getting close he started repeatedly whispering; “Daughter of a God, Naughty Girl,Bad Girl”. Gina’s attempts to engage him in conversation failed, as he slid onto the bench next to her, spun round, and rolled off, before heading away mumbling to himself. Shaking her head Gina noticed a sandwich wrapper he had left on the bench, opening it she saw a part portrait of a woman’s face. Puzzled she folded it and placed it in her bag, she had barely got back to her magazine when her sisters train arrived, and after the crowd passed through she spotted her sister and a frumpy woman carrying a leather doctors bag approaching. Her sister introduced her friend as Caprice DeTisi and explained she had invited her to stay with them tonight as the university had botched her accomodation which was only available from tommorrow. Apparantly Caprice, ws a specialist in gothic art and had come to Venice at the request of Dr Perlita Notaro to examine the church of San Bonaventura. As they headed for the exit, and whilst carrying several of her sisters shopping bags (one of which had apprantly something for her), Gina started to tell the women about her visit to the Dark Cross nightclub. Lucia immediately latched on to the tale and all but demanded the three go there tonight. Caprice DeTisi seemed somewhat shocked by this, but eventually Lucia was able to persuade the others to her plan. Getting a water taxi to the sisters apartment, the three immediately dumped their bags and headed out to shop for outfits.
Back at the Ponte Antico shop, Dolores Alegra Malspina was creating in the workshop and viewing the latest work by Claudia DeTisi Mortinengo when Nina DaCosta rushed in and requested help with a special customer. Heading in to the shop Dolores encountered a stunning blonde, her assitant and bodygaurd. Not quite realising who she was, Dolores still recognised an important customer and took details of her requirements (a traditional mask to go with a silver grey dress for a wedding). As she talked several people started to stare and phonecalls to others were made. Realising this could turn into a bit of a scrum Dolores invited her customer into the private shop area to finalise her requirements. It was only when this was done and the deposit for the mask (due in one week) was paid did she recognise her customer as Charlize Theron. By this point the shop was heaving with people and more were queuing outside. The bodygaurd was obviously concerned with developments and requested to use the rear exit. Dolores lead the group in that direction, but on the way Miss Theron spotted Hector in the storeroom, and intrigued approached him. After examing him she asked how much Dolores would sell him for. Dolores explained he was not hers but she would ask Gina Tortelli if she would sell him. Satisfied with this, Miss Theron and her entourage left and Dolores returned to serve the chaos in the shop. Luckily Gina had called in to ask Nina DaCosta whether she wanted to attend the Dark Cross that evening, and finding out how busy the shop was quickly finished her shopping and headed in to help with the crowds.
Across the city at La Biennale Luca Porrini had escorted Svetlana Korai to the Italian pavilion for her performance, and was just trying to decide whether or not he was going to stay and watch the show, when he noticed Sabino Notora watching him from a short distance away. Walking over to speak to him, Sabino invited him to a secluded bench, and there warned him that all the wizards in Venice would have felt the spell that killed Vico Malvera. Luca thanked him for the information, whilst making sure to neither confirm nor deny that the event had taken place, or that he even knew anything about it. With Sabino heading back to his gardening, Luca decided to spend the afternoon distributing flyers for his P.I. buisness and strolling the city to see what was happening. He eventually determines he is being followed and turns on his pursuer, seriously frightening an old man in ragged clothes, Tio. There follows a seriously strange conversation in which Luca manages to determine that that Tio talks to pigeons, knows that Luca is the ‘Champion of the City’ and reminds Luca that the old lady that feeds the pigeons is dead. Luca promises to investigate and heads to the library to check the story. Phoning Nunzio Arbatti, Luca finds that the old lady is in the morgue and has a preliminary cause of death as heart failure. The full report on the old man he enquired about before is however done and the determination is murder by strangulation, by either a small man or large woman. Luca thanks Nunzio for his help and promises to try and get him a repeat date with Celia Barbi.
Eventually the crowds around the Ponte Antico shop disperse and Dolores Alegra Malspina wearily turns the sign around to ‘Closed’. She breaks open a bottle of wine for herself, Gina Tortelli and Nina DaCosta and the three relax after one of the shops busiest days in living memory. Their calming drink is partially interrupted when Claudia DeTisi Mortinengo points out that someone is watching the shop. Dolores heads upstairs to take a look and recognises DS Bopo Orbel reading a newspaper upside down. Finishing her wine, Gina excuses herself and heads home to meet her sister and houseguest, prior to their night out. Nina DaCosta also departs, saying she has a date that evening. Left alone at the shop Dolores Alegra Malspina finally collects her courage to complete the mask for Lady Bettina Mortinengo, and after weaving all the relevant enchantments, shatters it with one heavy blow: leaving its spectral counterpart shimmering on the bench. Claudia DeTisi Mortinengo tries on the mask, it fits beautifully, and at this point Dolores realises that is one of the few things she can wear; along with the clothes she was transformed in, the special dress made in DaVinci’s workshop, the collar Dolores enchanted to brace her neck and the gothic collar Nina DaCosta gave her. Pondering that, she places the new mask safely away, and heads for bed.
Intrigued about the death of the old lady that Tio ‘reminded’ him of, Luca Porrini finds her address and heads over there. The address turns out to be a small apartment building close to the main station, and after entering he climbs to the top floor and the door sealed by police tape. It proves little impediment, and he slips inside. The lower floor is a kitchen and bathroom, with a single bedroom above; neither show anything unusual. Above them is a loft, with a few old suitcases, boxes and two dormer windows out onto the steeply sloping roof. Inscribed on the floorboards Luca finds some arcane script, which he photographs to show to the ladies later. It is as he is peeking out of the window, and avoiding the pigeon poo, that Mistress appears behind him. Forgetting she is no longer compelled to do so, Mistress admits to the murder of the widower and the old lady, but is reticent to explain why. She is however keen to see Luca head out of the window (and presumably down to his death).
Mistress‘s words seem to echo inside Luca Porrini’s skull and despite himself he finds himself stepping towards the window. He looks more scared than he feels and realising he has no other way out, falls dramatically out: changing form close to the ground and swooping away, hopefully unseen by the watching Mistress. Trying to stay unseen he headed back to his apartment and after sneaking in, settled down to dinner with Svetlana Korai whilst texting the outline of his encounter to Gina Tortelli.
Gina Tortelli, Lucia Tortelli and Caprice DeTisi finally make it to the Dark Cross nightclub, having had to take a water taxi due to Caprice’s instability on her high heels. There is the usual queue, and Gina takes the opportunity to try and reassure Caprice about her presence at the club, making her feel that “i never realised I could do this”. Eventually they get in and head to the bar, there they get drinks and Gina notes two people watching them, a young woman in a pink minidress (Coral) and a male goth at the end of the bar. Acknowledging both their gazes, Gina returned her attention to her companions and their drinks. Despite her reassurance of Caprice the young woman went bright red when Gina told her the guy at the end of the bar was watching them, and all bar fainted when he approached with a bottle and some glasses. Charming and polite, the man introduced himself as Xaviera Giansante and poured drinks for all of them from the bottle. Gina took time to appraise both the wine (‘Stronger than it looks’) and Xaviera, finding nothing particularly sinister about either. The four then adjurn to a booth and spend the evening drinking and talking. Well after midnight Gina decides she is the only one even remotely sober and makes her excuses, collecting the other girls and heading for the door. Xaviera Giansante seems unpurterbeb settling for their phone numbers and calling a water taxi to ensure they get home safely.
Gina Tortelli is woken by the alarm clock and staggers to the shower befofre dressing and making breakfast. Both Lucia Tortelli and Caprice DeTisi are still snoring so before she heads out she checks the bag Lucia gave her, finding a beautiful green dress, which she cannot resist trying on. It is a perfect fit, but will need new accesories to go with it!
Gina Tortelli arrives at the Ponte Antico shop just as Nina DaCosta is regaling Dolores Alegra Malspina with various stanzas of renaissance poetry. Business was so good yesterday that stock is low, and the women are reduced to emptying the remains in the stock room, along with the few pieces Claudia DeTisi Mortinengo made, in order to restock the shop shelves. Whilst doing this, Gina and Dolores press Nina about her evening, and she admits to have spent it listening to (but not seeing) Umberto Epifano, she also admits to having got Claudia’s gothic collar from him. Nina points out that Gina’s eyes have a green tint; and it transpires that she knows Xaviera Giansante, but comments he ‘rarely takes things further!’ Gina phones her sister Lucia Tortelli to warn her about this, but she had already discovered it, along with Caprice DeTisi. With the shop fully staffed for once, Dolores spends the day making a special courtesan mask for Adalina Trazino, in the hope she can persuade her against wearing the enchanted courtesans mask which is on display in Ca’Rezzonica. She arranges to meet Adalina Trazino at the museum after close of buisness and is not surprised to be followed there by DS Bopo Orbel, who has been lurking outside the shop all day. Once there, she does manage to persuade Adalina to wear her gift, rather than the museum mask, ‘for the sake of the baby’ as some older masks contain toxic chemicals. Dolores is less happy however to spot Mistress lurking in the shadows of the museum gallery watching her. On her way back to the Ponte Antico shop Dolores drops some water and chocolate bars in a bag under the Ponte degle Scalzi, and noted that she was still being followed.
Having been informed of Charlize Therons offer to buy Hector, Gina Tortelli phoned her PA and agreed to sell the figure for 10,000 euros. Arrangemnets were made and UPS collected, packed and removed Hector by the end of the day. Finishing an otherwise full days work at the shop, Gina Tortelli headed home to research what she could about Mistress. Despite some serious endeavour she could find little about the mysterious woman, other than she had been in the crypt of San Bonaventura for at least as long as the sleeping woman had been in the coffin. Thus she ended up phoning Dolores Alegra Malspina who upon consulting ‘’Uncle Guilios notes’’ had more success, identifying her as a member of the extinct Crystal Court Vampires. Needing to know more, Gina checks the treatys and finds that both Serpentine and Delilah where in Venice at the time (15 / 16th century) and that interestingly Serpentine is not Italian but English.
Deciding she needs to find the missing contract scrolls, Gina Tortelli clears some space in her room, and making sure her sister Lucia Tortelli is asleep performs a tracking ritual. It gives her a direction towards the north-west of the city. Then after phoning Luca Porrini to check its ok with him, heads over to his apartment to try the ritual again and triangulate. From this information she narrows the search to Santa Lucia railway station. Meanwhile Svetlana Korai has been showing Luca her designs for some new costumes for a forthcoming Masquerade show, which require elaborate bird masks. At Luca’s prompting she asks Gina about having Malspina’s Masks make (and sponsor?) them. After several glasses of wine, Gina agrees to ask Dolores Alegra Malspina about it in the morning. It being very late, Luca offers to walk Gina home (via the railway station) and they phone Dolores to arrange for her to meet them there.
Santa Lucia railway station is deserted in the early hours of the morning when Luca Porrini, Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina arrive, just a few rough sleepers and a lone security gaurd in evidence. Luca grabs some snacks from the vending machines and heads over to talk to the nearest ‘resident’. He is surprised to be recognised and doubly surprised when told he was expected! Apparantly Urbanna Belisto told them to expect him. Handing over a few snacks he heads towards the figure indicated as Urbanna.
Meanwhile Gina and Dolores follow the rituals lead to the left luggage lockers. Identifying the correct one, they are slightly nervous when it proves to be open, and contains just one scroll. Gina takes it out, unrolls it and vanishes! Unaware of this, Luca arrives in front of Urbanna Belisto, noting his/her mismatched blue and green eyes, and little else under a mound of shapeless clothing. He is trying to descern the strange muttering of the strange person when Dolores points out Gina has vanished. Concerned the two decide to head to the Ponte Antico shop and press ‘F1’ on the laptop. They however are short of the door when the apparantly security gaurd approaches, and turns out to be Kayetan, Black Court master vampire. He generously offers Dolores anything she desires, if it is in his power to give it, but she is worried by this apparant genorosity and aspects, and simply enquires what he knows about Mistress. He says the stories are not his to tell, but Serpentine, Delilah and Domonic Malspina where around at the time and should have stories to tell about the Crystal Court Vampires. They thank him and leave quickly.
Gina Tortelli has meanwhile found herself in a small boutique shop, with a array of the latest fashions, a door which leads out to a Paris street, and windows to Milan and New York! Unsure how to proceed she decides to try on a few clothes, including a beautiful little black dress; at which point having arrived back in the Ponte Antico shop with Luca Porrini, Dolores Alegra Malspina presses F1 and Gina appears, in her new dress. It appears that Gina’s genie powers have started to develop and she now has her own ‘pocket’ realm in the Nevernever, she can get there anytime she likes but requires ‘F1’ to leave. She heads back there to collect her stuff, whilst Gina and Luca head to their respective beds.
Dolores Alegra Malspina wakes late for work, and goes downstairs to find Nina DaCosta has allready opened the Ponte Antico shop. She summons Gina Tortelli from her nevernever demense, who upon arrival immediately feels the need to fulfill Dolores’s wish for coffee! Dolores then decides to check the stock put out yesterday to ensure nothing that should not have gone out has. She finds a beautiful red mask, seemingly part of the set with the courtesans mask at Ca’Rezzonica and quickly removes it as a young woman enters the shop. She asks Gina to double check the shelves, and she spots two further enchanted masks a white one and a gold one, which Nina Da Costa is currently showing to the customer. Gina takes the white one out back intending to head out and get the gold one in a moment. At that point Lady Bettina Mortinengo appears and Dolores escorts her to collect the spectral mask she has created for her. Lady Mortinengo is very pleased with the creation, and in reponse invites Dolores to the Nevernever to attend the Red Queens Ball which will take place at the Doje’s palace, midnight on friday. When Lady Mortinengo leaves, Gina returns to the shopfloor, arriving just as the young woman departs, having purchased the enchanted gold mask, which Nina DaCosta mentions spoke to her and whose name is Fina! Checking the credit card slip Gina is horrified to discover the buyer was Delphina Tormelli! Resolving to avoid any other such slip ups, Dolores decides to close the shop for the day, check all the remaining stock, and make some new masks for sale. Whilst undertaking this (and a thorough clean of the shopfloor), Dolores, Gina and Nina DaCosta chat about the invitaion to the Red Queens ball and decide they are all going to go. They may even take Luca Porrini with them. Conversation eventually comes around to the gold mask and Nina DaCosta takes Gina to the 3rd stockroom a place neither she nor Dolores knew existed (and had not spotted as the door is enchanted). There, on the shelves, are the Death Masks of all the Malspina ancestors who owned the shop previously. With Nina DaCosta translating for her Gina starts to make a list of the spirits present and discovers Domonic Malspina is not amongst them. Snide comments are made that he is still with his fancy woman / harlot/…. By a process of elimination, and comments from various other of the masks, they discover the one Delphina Tormelli bought is the Death Mask of Fina DeTisi Malspina. There are also five boxes, four are locked and enchanted, the fifth apparantly contained the Black enamel choker that Nina DaCosta is wearing, and which Uncle Guilio gave her.
With the Ponte Antico shop closed up for the evening, Nina DaCosta heads out to pick up a dress for the Red Queens ball, Dolores Alegra Malspina decides to have a quiet evening in making masks and Gina Tortelli creates a ritual to trace Domonic Malspina! She succeeds relatively easily and pausing only to phone Luca Porrini for backup, heads out in the direction it leads. Eventually the two find themselves outside Dante Court just as the sun sets and cautiously they enter. The phone app ritual Gina created leads the two to a door in a shadowy corner of the court and their polite knock gets a response of “come in” in a rich female voice. Inside is completely dark, and almost by feel they head down a corrider and into the sitting room where a female figure stands hand outstretched. Talking to the darkness both realise that not only is Domonic Malspina‘s spirit here (and hence his death mask), but so is Delilah. Explaining their presence Gina asks for the story of the last Crystal Court Vampire, and after negotiation Delilah agrees to tell it for the promise of a wish from Gina the genie! Both Luca and Gina are surprised when the story is not about Mistress but a male crystal court vampire who was killed only five years ago in the tunels below London. He was lured there because he fell in love with a woman with no heart who lived there, and in the darkness was attacked and killed by a woman of ambition called ’Hunter’. In response to their questions Delilah points out that, like Gina and Luca, mirror vampires are severely weakend in the dark where there is no reflection. She also mentions that the woman the vampire fell in love with now resides in Venice! During this tale, told in almost complete darkness Delilah manouveres Luca to the female statue in the centre of the room, and guides his hands over it in a rather erotic way. Luca is fairly sure that despite not being able to see the woman it is Rachelle Lenco. Unsure whether this is Rachelle Luca agress to purchase the statue in return for a future favour. And having concluded their buisness they beat a hasty retreat.
!!! Part Six
Luca Porrini phones Dolores Alegra Malspina to check she is happy for the Rachelle statue he has acquired to be delivered to the shop, which is good as barely 30 minutes later a UPS man delivers it in a coffin (which is strange given the lateness of the hour). When this is done Luca nips round to check Rachelle Lenco‘s apartment but finds it in darkness, and so texts her instead. He is barely away from Dante Court when Dolores phones him to come around and move the coffin into the storeroom along with the statue inside. Studying the Rachelle statue Dolores decides it is a thaumaturgical construct, enchanted as ’an empty vessel’ and ‘whatever you desire’. Additionally the cheap mask it wears is psychomantically enchanted as a symbiotic link. Although not exactly sure what this is all for, the pair suspect it is something to do with Delilah‘s power and her muse Miss Hedgi Lamar. With the statue ’safely’ in the storeroom, Luca texts the rest of the members of Masquerade obstensibly to check if they are free for measurements with Dolores tommorrow, but primarily because he is still worried about Rachelle Lenco. From the replies he finds they are all out on the town together, including Rachelle, as illustrated by the selection of risque photos he recieves back! He arranges for Dolores to meet with the girls at La Biennale at noon tommorrow, and files the pictures for later.
The following day, Dolores Alegra Malspina heads to La Biennale in time to measure the members of Masquerade for their masks, before heading on to the exhibition of the Art of the Female Form in the Swedish pavilion. Strolling around she deduces that approximately two thirds of the statues are in fact constructs. All but one have the aspect ‘’Empty Vessel’‘, along with a seemingly random mixture of the aspects ’’watcher in the shadows’’, ‘’art for art’s sake’’ and ‘’whatever you want’‘. The one statue withoutthe empty vessel aspect is labelled Vittoria and has instead ’’favoured of Allessio’’ as its aspect. Disturbed by what may have gone on to create such pieces, Dolores leaves the pavilion and within a few strides encounters Isabel, they have a gaurded discussion about the Art of the Female Form exhibition, which Isabel refers to as extreme art. She gently encourages Dolores to bring the matter up for the judgement of the city arbiter, which Dolores says she will consider doing.
At approximately the same time, across town, Luca Porrini arrives at the offices of Don Joseph Tormelli, and after a short delay, is shown in to meet the man, by his elegant secretary (Stefania Quaglia). He explains the reason for his visit (Catarina wants Vivienne back): Don Joseph Tormelli is not surprised, but says the situation is complicated and covered by several contracts, and that if Vivienne returns to the lagoon and her mother, she will be in breach of contract. As the matter is complicated, he suggest a re-negotiation of the contract, and slightly too casually, enquires whether Delphina Tormelli was mentioned at all. His expression, as Luca replies in the negative, was to quick to read but Luca confirms his position as ‘’The Man in Venice’’. Agreeing to ask the arbiter (Gina Tortelli) to set up a meeting, Luca takes his leave politely, and texts Gina to enquire of her availability for such an event.
The rest of the day for Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini is taken up with running the Ponte Antico shop and making arrangements for attending both the benefactors ball at Ca’Rezzonica (Dolores) and the Red Queen’s ball at the Doje’s palace (Dolores, Gina, Nina DaCosta and Luca)). With timing being an issue, Luca contacts Hilario Abate and arranges for him and his boat to be at their disposal this evening to travel and change between the two events.
Arriving safely at the Benefactors Ball being held at Ca’Rezzonica, Dolores Alegra Malspina sashays in and takes a gentle look around. She is pleased to note that Adalina Trazino is wearing the mask she made for her, and not one of the several enchanted ones she had been considering. Amongst the many other guests, Dolores spots Don Joseph Tormelli, Vivienne wearing an original egyptian mask, and Delphina Tormelli wearing the Death Mask of Fina DeTisi Malspina. Collecting a glass of wine she heads over to speak with Vivienne and get a closer look at the mask, which she estimates to be at least 3,500 years old and possessing of the aspects ’’unchanging’’ and ‘’a dominance of personality’‘. Vivienne is a little aloof but pleasant enough. Dolores notes that Delphina uses the opportunity of her parents distraction to talk to a man Dolores does not recognise, and they seem somewhat friendly. She is a bit concerned that the mask may be affecting the girls personality, but more disturbing is Mistress’s presence at the Ball and her slipping away with Delphina’s potential paramour.
Dolores Alegra Malspina leaves the Benefactors Ball at Ca’Rezzonica before the end of the event, and joins Gina Tortelli, Nina DaCosta and Luca Porrini on Hilario Abate‘s boat for the trip to the Doje’s palace for the Red Queens Ball. Stepping into the local Nevernever (courtesy of Gina’s magic) the group find the building changed, darker and more sinister and with hundreds of Haemavores swarming across the roof! Nina DaCosta stops to listen to music only she seems to be able to hear and rapidly becomes entranced and unmoving. Dolores puts her hands over the girls ears and gently applies power… There is a thunderclap, a flash and enegry races across the square and into the shadowy nevernever city – it appears her Black enamel choker is magical and has just been powered up.
The four quickly head inside: and soon spot Nerina: she tells them the rather strange singer is Angiola and her music is in the hypersonic range – perhaps it is what affected Nina DaCosta outside. Elsewhere around the room, there are many of the ‘dead’ including ghosts. spectres and some not easily identified, along with a large number of local Fey. Nina DaCosta quickly gets into conversation with a group she seems to know, whilst Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina start to ‘work the room’. Luca Porrini is soon pigeonholed by a fey woman with beautiful large butterful wings and unnervingly sharp teeth (Fiore). They head out to dance, somewhat badly, before retiring for refreshments. These seem to include a number of naked and caged humans, something Luca is uncomfortable about, but which Fiore seems to find most appetising, a slash of her razor sharp claws enabling her to lap up the blood with her prehensile tongue. Gina has also found a dance partner, Basilio a respectably dressed spectre in the garb of a 17th century gentleman. As they move well and closely together, he whispers a fewwords into her ear, “You will be Queen”.