Dresden Files: Venice
Tick Tock Tick Tock
Gina Tortelli’s phone rings early one morning as she is minding the front of the Ponte Antico shop ’Malspina’s Masks’. Answering it, she is forced to deal with her concerned sister Rosa Tortelli, who is phoning to find out if she knows where their brother Drago Tortelli is. She doesn’t, and manages to extract from her sister that Drago did not come home from his night security gaurd job at Ca’Rezzonica this morning, and furthermore the museum is not answering it’s phone. Gina says she will look into it, and after putting the phone down on her sister calls Luca Porrini to see what he knows, initially he knows nothing but says he will drop over to the museum to check it out.
Deciding to conduct the search for her brother in a less mundane manner, Gina Tortelli gathers a few neccesary items before enacting a ritual of seeking in Dolores Alegra Malspina‘s front room. Despite causing Gina a little strain, the ritual is succesful, but worryingly cannnot indicate Drago Tortelli’s direction. This sends Gina into a little panic as she assumes it means Drago is dead, but Dolores also points out it can also mean he is in the nevernever, behind powerful wards or perhaps even across water.
Meanwhile Luca Porrini has arrived at Ca’Rezzonica to discover a police presence at both entrances and a police boat moored at the dock. Skipping around to the back he recognises one of the officers, Pietro, and chatting to him discovers that there has been a robbery at the travelling exhibition on the third floor, and that the security gaurd Drago Tortelli is missing. He nips of to get a few pastries and coffee for the officers as a thanks for the information.
Just as Luca Porrini returns with the coffee, Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina also arrive at the non-canal entrance to Ca’Rezzonica. Taking out her phone, Dolores calls the curator Adalina Trazino to ask what has happened, because after all as far as the museum are concerned ‘If it’s Masks its Malspina’s’. Adalino is undersatandably upset,revealing that the Clockwork Queen Mask has been stolen and is happy for Dolores to come and check over the remnaining exhibits for any damage.
With the curator Adalina Trazino giving the ok to the police at the door, Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini gain entrance to Ca’Rezzonica and proceed to the top (third) floor where the temporary exhibition was taking place. There they find that the armoured glass of the display case was cut (seemingly effortlessly) by a strangely costumed intruder, but thankfully none of the other exhibits have been damaged. Adalina takes them to the security room where they watch the robbery take place on the camera recordings. Here they also meet Inspector Masa Ursetta who is investigating the case. Answering the Inspector’s questions, they discover that this is the latest in a series of crimes involving items fabricated by Leonardo da Vinci, the previous one being a mechanical arm part which was stolen from a museum in Rome. Looking at the photo the inspector has, Dolores intimates that she may have records relating to that back at the shop, and he arranges to visit her there at 3pm to peruse them.
Rushing home ahead of the visit of Inspector Masa Ursetta, Dolores Alegra Malspina consults the old shop records for any notes about the Clockwork Queen Mask. She discovers that one of her ancestors valued the mask and did some minor repairs in 1923 prior to it going to auction. It was bought at that time by the San Shee company of Hong Kong. Interestingly it was the San Shee Corporation of Hong Kong who lent the mask to Ca’Rezzonica for the exhibition. A quick computer search discovers that Chang San Shee is the current CEO of the corporation, coincidently the name on the auction sale in 1923! She passes this information on to the inspector when he arrives, although she edits out any mention of any supernatural occurances.
With Inspector Masa Ursetta departed, Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini settle down to some coffee and to assess what they know. It seems precious little. The masks history, although interseting, provides no clue to the whereabouts of Drago Tortelli, and with the ritual of seeking failing, magic seems not to help. The only conclusion they can come to, is that Drago was taken over water, hence the spells lack of success. Help is obviously needed in that respect and Nerina‘s name comes rapidly to mind. Although Luca has no contact details for her, he surmises she will be at Fabrini Giacanti’s masked party this evening, all they need is invitations. That is easy to arrange for Dolores and Gina, Fabrini has a reputation for inviting beautiful women to his parties and Dolores’s name is already well known in social circles for her exquisite masks. A phone call later, and they are on the guest list.
With Luca Porrini heading home to change into his tuxedo, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli struggle to sort out something to wear. Dolores manages to find an outfit suitable in her wardrobe, but being less well off, Gina cannot. Dolores therefore suggests she make one, and sets about the design before utilising her masquemancy to bring it to life from the raw stuff of ectoplasm. This is not without it’s problems, and only through the use of components from ’’Don’t Ask me it came with the shop’’, is the dress completed. It is a perfect fit though donning it does leave Gina a little breathless, and it’s design is guarenteed to ‘’Turn Heads Regardless’’.
Meanwhile Luca Porrini is almost changed when there is a knock at the door. Opening it, he is comfronted by a raven haired beauty who asks rather suggestively if he is going to invite her in. He is inclined not to do so, but given how ‘’severly enchanted’’ he is by Cossette (for that is who she is), he finds it difficult to refuse and conceeds to her wishes. The hour she takes of his time is distinctly pleasant, but leaves him barely enough time to return to the shop to meet the others for the party, being ‘’slightly winded’’, and having had to dress a second time.
Dolores Alegra Malspina, Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini take a water taxi to Fabrini Giacanti’s party, arriving fashionably late. Taking a glass of wine, and an initial stroll around the sumptuos canal front house, Luca and the ladies espy the string quartet, the heavily laden buffet table, but not sadly Nerina. Gina does however come to the attention of a well dressed man in a richly tailored suit and mask of swirling ocean blues. At his approach, drinks in hand, Gina quickly disposes of her own drink, before accepting the proffered one, whilst Luca and Dolores make their excuses and set off to mingle elsewhere. Beginning a gentle conversation with him, Gina is convinced he is completely normal, something that comes as somewhat of a relief.
Unfailingly polite, the gentleman with whom Gina Tortelli is engaged in conversation is still however in search of something, which, at the present time, Gina is not willing to provide, therefore the two drift apart as their drinks run dry. Each seeking further refreshment and alternate conversation. Meanwhile, Luca Porrini has noted the arrival of a slender woman in a figure hugging black dress, full face mask and gloves, an outfit which leaves only her eyes exposed. Recognising her (Delilah), from the ball earlier in the month, he chooses to keep a discrete eye on her, and alerts Dolores Alegra Malspina to her presence. Luca also understands from brief conversations that Nerina was seen eaier in the evening with an American man. He gets a description of him, and of Nerina’s dress for the evening. When Dolores and Delilah meet, the mysterious woman admires Dolores mask (but not her dress), complementing her on her creative talent, Dolores is however cagey due tothe creepy nature of the woman in black, and declines to enter into a creative contest with her, despite her encouragment, and obvious relish for the idea.
At that point Nerina and her companion Ryan Cooper return to the party, emerging onto the upper balconey. Interestingly both have wet hair. Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina approach the couple, and whilst Gina talks to Ryan Cooper in English, Dolores snatches a conversation with Nerina in Italian, arranging to meet up with her later. Amongst the things Dolores discovers is that Ryan Cooper does not speak Italian and Nerina does not speak English, they must have found some other way to communicate. Also they have both just been swimming, in San Francisco! Leaving the couple to their non-verbal communications the three take time to enjoy the rest of the party before heading back to the Ponte Antico shop.
A slightly tipsy Nerina arrives at the Ponte Antico shop a little after 4am and after slumping on the settee in the upstairs flat and removing her mask, thus returning to her fishy form, listens to Dolores Alegra Malspina outline their problem. Nerina has no idea where Drago Tortelli is (she’s been attending to many party’s), and comments it is unlikely anyone else has noted his movements as the lagoon is all but empty at the moment as Garros the giant squid is heading in soon to spawn. She has however heard odd, regular, vibrations from the rotten houseboat on the edge of the marsh andafter a little prompting agrees to lead the group there later in the day, arranging to meet them at the bouy at the end of the Grand Canal at noon. Re-donning her mask she staggers from the shop and splashes quite noisily into the canal outside.
Dolores Alegra Malspina manages to borrow a boat and along with Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini heads out to meet Nerina at the appointed place and time. Nerina arives, swims off leading the baot into the marshy area in the north of the lagoon.
(Return for the Marsh, TBA)
(Visit of the Dragon Lady, TBA)
Despite being ‘’Raised with an Old World Sensibility’’, Dolores Alegra Malspina was somewhat confused as to the proper amount of respect with which to address a Dragon, especially an Oriental one which stared at her with great Golden eyes. Gina Tortelli meanwhile tried to assess the Dragons mood, but decided that was tricky, as it was assesing them! Eventually the ladies decided nothing much was going to happen and politely backed away, shuffling Luca Porrini with them.
Continuing to follow the tracks through the undulating ground mist, they arrived at a ruined cluster of buildings, derelict, with the shattered walls barely supporting the remains of the upper floors and the roof. Moving inside, they found the remains of a workshop, incomprehensible tools scattered along a workbench, parts of half finished projects lying amidst the rubble, and a large pencil drawing of a machine tacked to the wall. Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli studied the area intensely, Dolores coming to the conclusion that despite the fact it seemed to be a 17th century ruin, it may only exist in the imagination / Nevernever / or somewhere else entirely. Luca Porrini’s attention meanwhile had been drawn to movement in the rafters above, and at the ladies encouragment, he sailed into the air, circled around, and landed on in the roof space, only to come face to face with a huge Sphinx!
The Sphinx, Arcadia, seemed reasonably pleasant, and answered soome of Luca Porrini’s more basic questions, with the barest hint of a sinister undertone. It turned out that she was his mother, and that he was the first of her offspring ever to return to see her. Her grasp of time seemed somewhat adrift however, and Luca was forced to treat her judgement of that with some xxxxxxx. Questions about his father were evaded gently, although at the end of their discussion she indicated that he was down amongst the ruins barely one hundred yards away. Luca could not contain himself and taking his leave glided off in that direction.
The meaningful look that passed between John Druitt and Luca Porrini was not entirely lost on Dr Helen Magnus, she didn’t however comment upon it, instead greeting Luca warmly and enquiring again whether their visit was at an awkward time. John Druitt passed a monosyllablic comment in English and headed out of the door, Dr Magnus explaining that he had gone to find Nerina to talk about their trip to see Garros. Showing her the guest rooms, Luca took the opportunity to fill her in on the details of their investigations in the last few days, and to get her expert ministrations to the ‘’cracked ribs’’ he had sustained in the recent fight.