Dresden Files: Venice
The Evil Dead
The Evil Dead
With Christmas rapidly approaching, the Ponte Antico shop was especially busy, something Gina Tortelli did not appreciate as neither Dolores Alegra Malspina or Nina DaCosta had appeared for the 9pm opening. Grabbing a small moment, Gina got Claudia DeTisi Mortinengo to go upstairs and find out what had happened to Dolores. It appeared she had overslept, but a startled Mr Tiddles leaping on her bed soon got her awake and eventually downstairs to the shop. With still no sign of Nina, Gina took a moment to phone her, finding her phone going straight to answerphone she tried her other phone, and got through to the intensive care department of the local hospital! Apparently Nina had been admitted with a serious head injury and was in a coma. With no break in work at the shop to go and find out what happened, Gina and Dolores phoned Luca Porrini and asked him to investigate.
Luca Porrini phones the hospital, explaining he is Nina’s brother, and given that, they explain she was found outside La Fenice in the early morning and admitted with serious injuries. He heads over to see her, and to take a look at her personal belongings. He finds no clue in her phone, or the contents of her bag, but does note that they are wet. Asking the nurse she confirms Nina’s clothes were also wet, almost as if she fell into the canal. After spending some time at her bedside, Luca pockets her house keys and makes his way to her apartment in Dante Court to check that out. Inside there are only a few clues to Nina DaCosta’s life outside the shop; ignoring her lack of wardrobe space and penchant for storing her clothes in piles: a collection of poetry in her hand and that of another (which Luca photographs and sends the images to Gina Tortelli), along with clothes belonging to Bibianna Falco in the spare room, are the only unusual items.
Realising that she would potentially be short staffed for a while, Dolores Alegra Malspina did some soul searching and eventually contacted her cousin Carlo Malspina. He was more than happy to take the chance of a temporarary shop position before christmas and arrived the very afternoon to learn the job. Thus they were able to cope with the afternoon rush and after the Ponte Antico shop closed for the evening, Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina set off to go and see Nina DaCosta in hospital. Meeting Luca Porrini ooutside the three went in and spent some time at Nina’s bedside before deciding that any magical help in a place so full of sensitive machinery would be too risky.
‘’Just when things looked to be getting back to normal, poor Nina has ended up in hospital. From what I can gather, she fell from a height outside the opera house last night and is now in a coma in intensive care. The shop was so busy I didn’t even get a chance to go see her till after closing.Had to get Carlo to come and help out, he needs the money but I hate bringing in another family member, it can only mean trouble in the end.’’
‘’We got Luca to do a little investigating and it turns out Orso Tamori’s dinner date ( and wanted shooting suspect) Bibianna Falco was staying at Nina’s house. I was suspicious before but this just stinks of trouble and possibly of setup. Also she was seeing a ghost ( socially not just in the normal way she does) who I don’t know much about, other than he’s some kind of poet.’’
‘’Obviously I couldn’t tell all this to the police ( or let them know I even knew Nina was in hospital) when they came calling. This does seem to be another case that might need a little special talent to solve. Really I would just like to give this sort of thing a miss, but Nina is my friend and my employee and nobody can get away with hurting my friends or messing with my staff (barring the obvious exceptions)’’
Having left the hospital, Dolores Alegra Malspina, Luca Porrini and Gina Tortelli split up. Dolores and Luca set of for a tour of Venice’s landing stages and bus stops in search of Nerina, whilst Gina returns to the shop to create a new ‘app’ for her phone. Having had reasonable success she then heads to La Fenice to test it out. Turning it on she spots Basilio and using its new function approaches him to engage in conversation with the currently invisible and incorporeal spectre. As always he is charming and polite, and in response to questions about Nina DaCosta‘s accident hints that he may know something. His price for the information is the same as before, an introduction to Natale Tamaro. Feeling that she can perhaps trust the spectre is she words her agreement carefully, Gina agrees to arrange a ’date’ for 10pm the following evening at the Opera in return for the information. Deal settled she phones Natale Tamaro who though initially reticent, is soon persuaded into the evening out (especially as Gina agrees to arrange an outfit for her). Progress having been made for the evening, Gina retires to her personal space to consider what outfit she will provide.
Meanwhile having had no luck finding Nerina, Dolores Alegra Malspina heads back to the shop and utilises a mask to send a message below the waves asking Nerina to contact her. With it simply being a matter of waiting, Luca Porrini heads home to Svetlana Korai with his new idea about a show of masked supervillianesses for Masquerade. Several hours after midnight there is a knock at the shop door and a dripping wet, naked, and unknown woman stands there. With the sight indicating she is a mermaid, Dolores invites her in and after understanding her stilted manner of speaking invites her into the bathroom and provides a full bath and plate of sushi and tuna. Florianna explains that Nerina is currently not available and she therefore answered the call. Dolores explains about Nina DaCosta falling into the canal and Florianna agreees to see if she can find out who pulled her out and why; in return for a mask similar to the one that Dolores made for Nerina. Deal done, Florianna returns to the canal and Dolores finally manages to get to bed.
Carlo Malspina arrives promptly for work at the Ponte Antico shop and alongside Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli manages to deal with the busy day, at least till midday when Carla Oralli arrives. Dolores takes over serving the young woman and after extensive consultations and measurements settles on a custom made and quite expensive mask. During the discussions, Carla Oralli casually asks which hospital Nina DaCosta is in. Dolores is concerned and whilst considering her answer takes the opportunity to assess her customer, managing to conceal her surprise at the ‘’Warped Weresnake’’. Based upon this she decides not to answer the questions and neatly deflects it. Carla Oralli takes no offence at this and leaves, happy with her purchase.
At the end of the day, with Carlo Malspina heading home exhausted, and Dolores Alegra Malspina settled in the workshop of the Ponte Antico shop, Gina Tortelli retires to arrange the outfit she promised Natale Tamaro.
Luca Porrini spends the day researching the passages of poetry he found in Nina DaCosta’s flat. He eventually discovers they are by a 16th century poet, Gaspara Stampa. Further research into the city records indicates she was buried in a small church, now demolished, which used to sit approximately at the rear of the current location of La Fenice. Confirming his findings with Gina Tortelli, Luca arranges to meet her outside La Fenice when she goes there with Natale Tamaro later in the evening.
Gina Tortelli and Natale Tamaro arrive promptly for Natale’s date with Basilio. He comes out of La Fenice to meet them, and whilst Natale goes inside to check her coat, fulfills his end of the bargain. He tells Gina, with some fear in his voice, that ‘Carmen rules this place’ and that nothing here happens without her agreement. He also says that the person who did the deed was neither responsible nor conscious of it, something Gina does not initially understand. When he heads inside, Gina checks her phone and finds Catarina Antonacci was killed in her dressing room at the theatre during a performance of Carmen some 10 years ago. Her husband is currently serving a life sentence for her murder. When Luca Porrini arrives he points out that tonight’s performance at the theatre is Carmen! As they consider the implications of this, Luca notices a flash of movement and colour on the landing stage opposite the theatre entrance. Though nothing can be seen both are convinced that something slipped off the stage into the water. Returning to the rear of the theatre, Gina looks around for ghosts using her new phone app. No ghosts are present but both spot a figure in the shadows, and approaching are met by the emerging Bibianna Falco. She mentions that although she has had ‘an upgrade’ she has no problems with sunlight; but more importantly notes that Nina DaCosta used to climb to the first floor balcony to meet her poet. Gina, assisted by Nina does similar but even with her app can find no sign of ghosts or Nina’s presence.
Meanwhile Dolores Alegra Malspina spends the evening working in the Ponte Antico shop waiting for the return of Florianna. The mermaid eventually showed up, and after taking up residence in the bath with a can of tuna, informs Dolores that investigating the area of the canal by La Fenice she detected the scent of Coral. In response Dolores showed her the designs for her mask and agreed to deliver it in ten days time.
Gina Tortelli nimbly climbs down from the balconey to find Luca Porrini waiting for her, but Bibianna Falco has dissapered. Looking around, Luca spots a poster in the shadows, notably the knives driven into it are real, as is the blood which adorns it. Luca recognises the woman as Gemma Baldini, and with a little magic, Gina confirms the blood also belongs to Gemma. Considering there is little else to be seen, Gina forces open a portal into the Nevernever. Beyond the landscape is gothic, dark and menacing, and with a nameless shadow looming over her, she decides not to loiter and returns quickly to modern Venice. The two then make there way back to their respective homes.
The following morning before work, Dolores Alegra Malspina heads over to the hospital to check on Nina DaCosta, finding her condition unchanged. She contemplates sensing her but decides against it just in case it causes problems with the complex machinery.
Comparing notes with her when she arrives for work, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli deduce that Nina was injured possibly by a fall from the balconey and subsequently dumped in the canal, only to be ‘fished out’ by Coral. They decide the only way to proceed is to enchant a mirror to show them exactly what happenned. So when Carlo Malspina arrives to work in the shop they head into the workroom to set to work.
The mirror is finally completed a little before dark, leaving Gina Tortelli with a ‘’mild chill’’. Inviting Luca Porrini to join them, Gina and Dolores Alegra Malspina take the mirror via water taxi to La Fenice. They set it up in the alley, facing the balcony from which they suspected Nina DaCosta fell, and gather around it to watch what happened. What they see is Nina DaCosta climbing (badly) up to the balconey and sitting on the rail talking with a shadowy figure which they assume to be a ghost or spectre of some sort, and possibly female. Suddenly the door to the balconey opens and a man emerges deliberately pushing Nina off the balconey without any preamble. After a few minutes he emerges from the ground floor door and picks up her lifeless body, which he takes to the canal and drops it in, before returning to La Fenice. Surmising there is little else to be gained by further investigation at this time, they retire to the shop and place the mirror in storage.
Still concerned about Nina DaCosta‘s condition, the group go through their contacts, and Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina decide eventually to visit Marla Grimani’s shop to see if she can help. Despite the late hour the door is open and they are greeted as usual by the lady herself in her comfortable living room. After explaining their requirement, the lady assures them she has just what they need, and heads to the back of the shop, returning with a box containing a necklace of gold and green stones. Gina Tortelli accepts it, in return promising the lady an invitation to her childs birth! Gina and Dolores then head back to the Ponte Antico shop where unable to restrainn her curiosity Gina Tortelli enacts a ritual to discern the father of her unborn child. She is extreemly surprised for the result to be given as Maeve.
Early the following morning, Dolores Alegra Malspina, Luca Porrini and Gina Tortelli head to the hospital and gentle place the necklace given to them by Marla Grimani around the neck of the still unconcious Nina DaCosta.
Unsure of what to expect, Gina Tortelli,Luca Porrini and Dolores Alegra Malspina remain at Nina DaCosta‘s bedside, anxiously looking at the machines to which she is connected. Nervously they turn to the door as footsteps approach, and are somewhat underwhelmed as Dr Von-Ruehl enters, picks up Nina notes and nods to the ladies. He then conducts what is at best a prefunctry exam before stating that she will recover. When asked when, he replies, ’in about twenty minutes’ before bidding the three adieu and taking his leave. Taking him at his word the three grab a coffee before returning at the indicated time, to find Nina starting to recover and speak. This triggers many of the monitors that she is connected to and a nurse rushes in and shoos them away whilst several doctors arrive to observe what has happened.
Phoning the Ponte Antico shop to talk to Carlo Malspina and find out what is going on, Dolores Alegra Malspina discovers that a woman meeting Mistress‘s description is present. Worried she gets Carlo to press ’F1’ on the laptop and summon Gina Tortelli there immediately. The conversation between Gina and Mistress is polite, despite having some what of an undercurrent of threat, and Mistress finally leaves having not even bought anything!
Heading out to get coffee and some lunch, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Luca Porrini spend a quiet hour or so before noticing a gentleman who they deduce is watching them. Dolores succumbs to curiosity and uses the sight on him, deducing a number of character traits; To bound, to leap, to go where he shouldn’t; Everybody else’s secrets; Aristocracy by age and reputation. Luca however thinks he has heard of him, he is the Marquis de Carabas.
The Marquis de Carabas accompanies the Luca Porrini and Dolores Alegra Malspina back to the Ponte Antico shop. Enroute he convinces Dolores to accept ‘a favour’ in exchange for her looking after a small box for him (Dolores checks and finds that the box has the aspect ‘nothing to see here’) Whilst at the shop he also collects a mask, which was left at the shop 20 years ago. The sale bill say ‘ payment on collection’. The Marquis pays for the mask with a small box which contains a necklace of wire and cascading pearls with the aspect ‘for when the time is right.
Svetlana Korai phones Luca Porrini and excitedly tells him that all of Masquerade have been hired to dance at a ball next month by the Ludovico, the Duke of Milan – the theme of the event is a masked 16th century formal ball. When Luca goes back to the shop its so busy he is forced to help serve. He finally manages to tell Dolores Alegra Malspina that all of Masquerade will need masques for the ball. Significantly Dolores has also just recieved a beautifully caligraphied invitation to the same ball.
Luca Porrini accompanies the Masquerade dancers on an evenings shopping trip, where they spend considerable time (and money) investing in new lingerie and cocktail outfits for the Duke of Milans (Ludovico) upcoming event. Having the opportunity to observe the women, it appears to Luca that Svetlana Korai is not the only pregnant one (Celia Barbi is also showing signs).
The following morning, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Luca Porrini head to the hospital to see Nina DaCosta. They find her in a reasonable, is slightly confused state, which she seems happy to play on a little. Nina does not remember any of the events leading up to her ‘accident’ and can shed no light on why or how it happened. A little later Gina Tortelli finally gets to speak to Nina but unfortunately she remembers nothing of the evening when she was attacked. The medical staff confirm that Nina will be kept in for observation for a week or so.
Deciding that they will have to go inside La Fenice to get further information, Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini make preparations to sneak in at night via the Nevernever. Arring outside the theatre Gina opens a portal and the three slip through. The whole place is distinctly sinister, lit with strange burning blue ‘gas lamps’. Heading to the rerar of the theatre via the gallery levels the three open a few doors and investigate some boxes. There are some strange ‘echoes’ and Dolores finds that her clothing and hairstyle have changed. They move through the theatre to where to where the attack on Catarina Antonacci occurred and find the strange echo of a man’s murder before they finally locate the right door. Inside is a female presence of great power, the apparent ghost of Catarina ‘Carmen’ Antonacci the murdered soprano. Backing out quickly and discreetly, the three head to the stage, musing on how she could have become so powerful while being only 10 years dead. Reaching the stage, they find the body of a dark haired woman and the evidence of a performance (Madam Butterfly), Dolores is once again overcome by the emmations of the theatre and faints, her dress and hairstyle changing to mimic that of the woman lying dead on stage. Faced with this, Gina and Luca decide to retreat, Gina opens a portal and Luca carries Dolores through. As she is about to head through Gina looks up. Standing in a second floor box, looking down upon the stage is Natale Tamaro, Basilio’s hand possesivly placed upon her shoulder.
Gina Tortelli makes a rush for the boxes, but as she mounts the stairs the carpet becomes more like a pool or river of blood. Rushing past the entrance to the first two boxes she flings opens the curtains of the third. Inside it is numbingly cold and she feels as if a presence is advancing upon her. With no chance to back out, she leaps to the next box along. From there, looking down to stage, she can see a man in the mask standing next to a tall chinese lacquered box. A woman, ‘Carmen’, leads Natale Tamaro onto the stage. Gina decides that she has to save her, and jumps right down into the stalls then heads for the stage. As she reaches it, she hears a noise behind her, a giant winged creature armed with a sword swoops down from the gods. Gina dives out of the way of the initial attack. She manages to reach out for Natale – but she is not really there!. It seems like Gina and the creature are the only ‘real’ things here – it strikes her and she feels ‘’chilled to the bone’’ – she flicks out to her realm instantly.
Back in the real world, Luca Porrini is holding Dolores Alegra Malspina, she is unconscious and still dressed as she finally appeared in the Never Never. Then the portal closes behind them. Luca decides the best route is to use the laptop to summon Gina. He changes shape and takes to the sky, flying back to the shop, carrying Dolores with him
Rather than returning to her realm and the boutique, Gina Tortelli is somewhere dark and cold – it is frozen underfoot. She starts to trudge forwards, and eventually spots a light ahead. Getting closer she spies a yurt with a blue fire flickering from inside. Bending down to enter and she also finally notices the same blue glow flickering over her skin. In the corner of the yurt is the figure of a wizened old woman, bundled up in furs. A voice speaks “ who are you?; what are you?” The voice seems surprised to note that Gina is alive; “ the living do not readily come here”. Inresponse to Gina’s question the voice is just in the process of telling Gina about her ancestry when she is summoned back to the shop by Luca pressing F1 on the laptop! having returned to the real world Gina is very, very cold and needs hours of slow warming simply to stop shivering. Having recovered however she still retains the faintest blue flickering of La Fenice’s Gaslights.