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
!!! 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 Porrini receives a text from John Druitt; “It looks like I did it, but I did not”. With no further word from Cossette, Dolores Alegra Malspina asks Luca Porrini to check if she is ok; he phones her, but there is no reply. A few minutes later he gets a single reply, a text message “Help!”. Not knowing where she is, Dolores Alegra Malspina phones La Belle d’Venice and manages to contact Isabel who tells her that Cossette currently has a suite at Ca’Sagredo. With Luca Porrini rushing to the hospital with Svetlana Korai, Dolores Alegra Malspina hurries over to Ca’Sagredo, and on approaching Cossette’s suite notices the door is ajar. Carefully peering in, she sees blood splattered across the room, which shows signs of a violent struggle. Sprawled across the coffee table is the blood soaked figure and partially naked body of Cossette. Dolores rushes to her and uses her abilities to try and revive her. Cossette does revive, however, she does so in an almost animalistic fury, attacking Dolores Alegra Malspina and battering her into unconsciousness before she can explain or defend herself.
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 showing 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 blindfolded, bound and gagged woman sitting with her back to her in one of the suite’s antique chairs. Rachelle Lenco smiles as Dolores Alegra Malspina looks anxiously around the room, reassuring her that Cosette was in the bedroom and would ‘not be going anywhere for a while’. Rachelle Lenco had arrived just in time to stop the drained Cossette from satiating herself upon Dolores Alegra Malspina, though the act of doing so had somewhat ruined her skirt! She had just finished ‘securing’ her fellow member of La Belle d’Venice when she noticed the girl in the chair trying to sneak pictures of the incident on her phone from the doorway. Not knowing entirely what had gone on she decided to ‘secure’ her as well and then try to puzzle out the sequence of events. Getting somewhat unsteadily to her feet, Dolores Alegra Malspina heads round to look at the girl and even without removing either the blindfold or the gag, recognises her as Letizia Da Forli. Recovering a little, Dolores Alegra Malspina decides it is time to get some answers and so having removed the gag, and with the threat of the sinisterly smiling Rachelle Lenco present, proceeds to squeeze the story of what the Shadow Sisters are up to out of the frightened girl.
TBC – What was the story, other than Calandra Fonda is giving birth at home? (recruit to assist Donella?)
Rushing from Ca’Segrado with what she has learnt Dolores Alegra Malspina arrives at the hospital slightly before the ‘action’ starts. Confused as to why she is not pregnant despite being one of the ‘seven’ she utilises the sight upon herself.
TBC – What did it show? (The Dolores heritage wasn’t quite human/normal, the exact context of which had to be explored, )
It is whilst this is going on, and taking an opportunity to slip out to grab coffee Luca Porrini notices a seemingly young child slip out from behind the snack machine. Looking carefully around he approaches Luca Porrini, and introducing himself as Rue explains he has been sent to collect Luca’s’s response. A somewhat confusing conversation then proceeds to take place with Rue failing to explain why the Marquis de Carabas sent Luca a letter (via pigeon post) which seems not to have arrived and hence Luca is unable to give the Marquis de Carabas his answer as he does not know the question.
It is at this point that the lights in the maternity ward start to flicker on and off and the walls shudder as if for a second they are made of nothing more substantial than jelly. Although the lights do recover to about 75% of their previous intensity several of the machines around the ward start emitting warning beeps, and several people begin to realise there is no longer any phone signal. A nurse opens the door to the corridor and is only narrowly saved fom being sucked out into the darkness of the absolute void by the quick reactions of Luca Porrini. Both Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina can sense the change in the surroundings, surmising that the ward has been sucked in its entirety into a ‘realm of nothingness’. Scanning around using her ‘Sight’ in an attempt to find some reason behind the sudden transportation, Dolores Alegra Malspina spots that Svetlana Korai’s aura is very unusual; she is a lone woman on an icy plain with blue energy flowing to and from her whilst her face is overlaid by the face of a strange slightly angelic stone statue.
Further investigation of the situation is interrupted as figures burst into the ward from opposite ends of the room, one male Drekavac and one female Donella. A nurse, Aurora Ricci approaches Derkavac demanding he respects the labours being undertaken, with a wave of his hand she is simply not.
Drekavac leaves in a huff.
Rue departs the way she came.