Dresden Files: Venice
!! Nights Labour’s
“T*his could be the longest night, recorded in history.
And as for sleep, you might as well just cross it of the list of possibilities.
Now I’m as brave as the next man, won’t turn and run from a fight.
And I could last a million years if I just get through this night.”
The duet echos across Venice, voices fading in the dark, and slowly each figure heads off into the shadows of the night.*
!!! Part One
The lounge of the cruise liner ‘Crystal Symphoney’ is crowded for the evening cabaret, but due to Masquerade being part of the bill, a table has been found for Luca Porrini, who is surrounded by elegantly dressed women in the form of Svetlana Korai, Celia Barbi, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli. With Masquerade being late on the bill (there second performance being the last, and due sometime after midnight), dinner has been eaten and desert is being sampled before the four girls performing (Carmela Da Mosto, Concetta Polani, Adrianna Contarini, Helena Bertucci) are due to take to the stage. Thus there is time for the group to take a look around, and Gina notes the distinctively dressed Damaskari, observing them from the bar. He inclines his head in greeting to the group, and a few minutes later a rather expensive looking bottle of desert wine is delivered to the table. Somewhat nervous of the contents Dolores studies it carefully, ascertaining the contents as having ‘’Decisions without Consequences’‘. Nervously she puts it to one side for the moment. Meanwhile Luca and Dolores have both noticed another, well-dressed, man lurking close to the entrance to the lounge. he would not have attracted too much attention except for the fact that a waitress just walked straight through him and no-one seemed to notice! Dolores attention is drawn to the fact and a momentary assessment reveals something interesting, he does not exist. With this fact still puzzling her, the next singer takes to the stage, a beautiful ’torch singer’ with a shock of white hair. Her powerful performance soon turns into a duet as without warning or decision on her part, Dolores stands to sing with her. The audience is enraptured and bursts into spontaneous applause and a standing ovation upon the performances concluding crescendo. Mab, because that is who the singer turns out to be, looks both confused and upset at the climax and moves quickly off stage; whilst Dolores downs a healthy measure of the bottle sent to their table by Damaskari. Dolores self consciously smiles at the numerous glances she gets, and smiles for a large number of discrete cellphone photos. The performances by Masquerade provide a relieving distraction, with the second one especially going down well due to its more risque nature.
Deciding to wait for the four girls who performed to get changed, it is considerably after midnight when Luca Porrini escorts no less than eight ladies, and a considerable amount of costuming, off the ship and into a water taxi. With Gina Tortelli very close to giving birth she decides it is safer to spend the night at the Ponte Antico Shop where Dolores Alegra Malspina can be on hand to help. Luca is unsurprised when it transpires that Adrianna Contarini is staying with Svetlana Korai and himself at the apartment, possibly due to Svetlana’s impending pregnancy. Whilst escorting the two ladies inside, Luca notices a figure lurking in the shadows, and having carefully locked the door, goes to peer out of the window. The figure appears to climb the building opposite in a most non-human manner, and settles into the shadows on the roof. With apparently nothing else to see, Luca double checks all the doors and windows are locked, before retiring to bed.
Gina Tortelli has a rather disturbed nights sleep, but Dolores Alegra Malspina is fine in the morning, although she decides to spend the day in the rear of the shop to avoid any passengers from the cruise liner who may come into the shop. It is around lunchtime when Nina DaCosta draws her attention to someone who appears to be watching the shop from the cafe at the end of the street. Heading down for a closer look, and some pastries, Dolores notes that it is the same ‘incorporeal and intangible’ man that she saw on the cruise liner the previous night. Whilst heading down the street she spots Elena Raimondi lurking in the shadows watching from the shadows and reading a book entitled Practical Thaumaturgy, which appears hand written in latin. Getting close to the strange man Dolores reads nothing off him with empathy, so uses the Sight; “a swirling mass of colour, with a deep black portal at the centre; something from the ancient time of primal chaos before the world was sub-divided”.
!!! Part Two
At his apartment, Luca Porrini receives a fax, Dr Helen Magnus has been attacked in Tokyo. He calls her cell phone for further information and it is answered by John Druitt – he says she is going into surgery, but does not know what happened though he will be in Tokyo shortly to find out. He does not think it is worth Luca making the journey unless he has developed travel faster than standard transatlantic flight.
Dolores Alegra Malspina decides to see if it is she is being watched and heads out for a walk, she spots no sign of either the strange being or Elena Raimondi following her. Coincidentally at this point Cossette sends Luca Porrini a photo of the strange man with the note “Why is he following me?” With the figure still lurking watching his apartment, Luca decides to send the picture to Gina Tortelli. Shortly afterwards, around 2pm, having noticed that Elena Raimondi has disappeared from the alley, Luca gets a text that Celia Barbi has been admitted to hospital, having gone into labour.
Finally determined to identify who might be involved in whatever is going on, and with the shop closed for the evening, Gina Tortelli settles down to a thaumaturgical ritual, and after suitable preparations she begins, slowly one by one conjuring forth the names of the mothers of the “seven children born to One” as mentioned in the duet Dolores Alegra Malspina sang with Mab: Cossette, Dr Helen Magnus, Calandra Fonda, Gina Tortelli, Svetlana Korai, Elma Boveri and Dolores Alegra Malspina.
Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli decide to head over to Luca Porrini‘s apartment as all seems to be quiet there and they can all go to maternity together. It is at this point that Luca receives a text from John Druitt that “it looks like I did it, but I did not”. With no further word from Cossette, Dolores asks Luca to check if she is ok, he phones but there is no reply. A few minutes later his reply is a text “Help!”. Not knowing where she is, Dolores phones La Belle d’Venice and manages to contact Isabel who tells her that Cossette has a suite at Ca’Sagredo.
With Svetlana Korai entering the early stages of labour, Luca Porrini observes a woman entering the maternity ward. She approaches the nurse in charge and after a few moments conversation, covertly slips her a small package before taking a seat in a corner, and paying attention to her phone. Luca takes a surreptitious photo of her, and not quite sure who she is shows the photo to Gina Tortelli who despite being in the early stages of labour recognises her as Rossella Nicolosi.
Dolores Alegra Malspina slowly regains consciousness, and before her eyes have focused hears a voice saying, “here drink this”. She does so and barely avoids coughing as the liquid burns its way down her throat. She opens her eyes fully to see Rachelle Lenco crouched down in front of her, wearing only expensive lingerie, high heels and a torn blouse. A second shot of the brutal vodka brings Dolores back to full awareness, at which point she also spots a woman bound and gagged sitting with her back to her in one of the suite’s antique chairs.
Dolores arrives at the hospital.
Dolores uses the sight on herself to determine why she is not one of the pregnant ones.
Rue appears from behind the snack machine.
Rue fails to explain why the Marquis sent Luca letter (via pigeon post) which seems not to have arrived and hence Luca cannot give the Marquis his answer.
The maternity ward is sucked into the realm of nothingness.
Dolores spots that Svetlana is unusual, she is a lone woman on an icy plain with blue energy flowing to and from her whilst overlaid by the face of a stone statue.
Drekavac and Donella arrive, one of the maternity nurses becomes not, all three fey spirits are ‘given’ to Donella. Donella says she will give birth to her son by midnight.
Drekavac leaves in a huff.
Rue departs the way she came.
Celia, Svetlana (Natalia), Elma and Gina (Gabriella) all give birth to baby girls.