Dresden Files: Venice
Whats New Pussycat
It was late morning when Luca Porrini recieved a phone call from Elma Boveri, P.A. to Professor Raul deTisi requestiong his presence on a matter of buisness at his earliest convenience. Checking his calender, Luca made an appointment for 2pm that afternoon. At about the same time, Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli who had been working in the Ponte Antico shop since early morning, both realised that something was amiss. Dolores immediately conducted a stock take of the more ‘sensitive’ masks and discovered that the Mask of the White Court was missing. Deducing it had been stolen she called Luca, who promised to come over after his afternoon appointment.
Arriving at the Malcanton-Marcora complex, Luca Porrini had no trouble finding the fourth floor office of Professor Raul deTisi. In the outer office he was greeted by Elma Boveri he asked him to wait, and after five mniutes or so he was shown in to meet the professor. The professor explained that an artifact they had been examining, the Cup of Cunimind, had been stolen from his office, and as it was a delicate matter he wanted it found with ‘as little fuss as possible’. It appeared the cup had dissapeared yesterday from an unlocked cabinet in the professors office, the exact time was difficult to determine as the professor was elsewhere yesterday and only noted its dissapearance this morning. Examining the office, all Luca could find of note was a paw print (possibly of a cat) on the window ledge, unusual because the ledge was four storeys above the canal! Despite this, Luca accepted the case (and the initial payment) and departed to continue his investigation.
Collecting a few pastries on the way, Luca Porrini arrived at the Ponte Antico shop just before closing. Dolores Alegra Malspina expressed interest in his case, especially as having completed a small divination on the area the mask was taken from, all she could determine of any note was the ‘’Shadow of the Cat’‘. Luca’s investigations, whilst Gina Tortelli and Nina DaCosta closed up the shop, revealed the lock on the front door may have been picked, but it was done expertly. With little physical evidence to go on, Dolores and Gina settled down to conduct a ritual divination to see where the mask was currently located. After meticulous preperations the magic sprang smoothly into being, showing a shadowy room standing in which was a tall, pale woman in a dress and headress of unusual design. From the magics perspective she seemeed to be staring at the mask and as the two women watched she reached forward and touched it, at which point the ritual faltered and died. Unsure of much about the figure, Dolores was convinced of one thing, she was dead! Dolores quickly sketched the woman and her costume, just in case the likeness would prove of later use.
The following morning Luca Porrini started phoning around his contacts, looking for any information on recent burglarys that may have occured in the city. After several dead ends, he managed to talk to PC Sandra Delisto, and from her learnt that a high-end jewellry store had been burgled early in the week, and nearly two million euros worth of jewellery had been taken. So far the Venice police had no idea who was responsible.
Meanwhile Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina were, as well as working in the Ponte Antico shop, trying to determine the identity of the dead woman glimpsed in Dolores’s vision. With neither woman having much influence or knowledge of the ‘living dead’ of Venice, they turned fairly quickly to Nina DaCosta for help. She suggested that perhaps Basilio would be of assistance, but given their lack of contacts neither could work out where to find him/it.
Returning to the Ponte Antico shop after lunch, Nina DaCosta passed Gina Tortelli a card with an address written on it. She mentioned that it pertained to a private costume party that evening where, she had been informed that, Basilio would be present. It was only after she asked, that Gina was told the party was being hosted by Calandra Fonda, one of the shadow sisters with whom Gina was very well aquainted. Dolores Alegra Malspina volunteered to help Gina with an outfit for the event, and after examining her choice of dress, leant her a mask suitable for the occasion. With the other ladies at the shop out for the night (Nina DaCosta apparantly had a date as well, but that was with a ghost so barely counted), Dolores decided to phone around her more mundane ‘friends’ and see if any of them were free. Talking to Carmela da Mosto (and Clotilde Courau), she discovered the two dancers had been booked for a private evening party and given her willingness to ‘join in’ were more than happy for her to accompany them. By conincidence it turned out to be the same party Gina was planning on attending.
Gina Tortelli was the first of the ladies to arrive at Calandra Fonda‘s party, and not actually having an invitation she hesitated a little when she spotted the smartly dressed doorman controlling entrance to the building. However, a few minutes later, a small group arrived, including Rossella Nicolosi whom she of course recognised, along with another woman and a man, who were strangers to her. Gina was thus able to saunter in whilst talking with Rossella who was still grateful for her rescue a few months earlier. From Rossella she found out that the Shadow Sisters had a currently unidentified new member (Gina denied it was her) and that they had still not found Luisa Mancuso and Bibianna Falco. Soon after entering, Gina Tortelli was approached by Calandra Fonda, who to her eye was also pregnant, and the two ’dissapeared’ for a ‘private’ chat (Calandra has a very opulent bathroom!). With neither Calandra or Gina entirely sure who the respective father is (either Flavio Spina or Chesko Barbini, the two had a frank discussion as to what they would do. Eventually it was decided Calandra would approach Chesko Barbini and Gina would ‘go it alone’. In the meantime Dolores Alegra Malspina had arrived with Clotilde Courau and Carmela da Mosto and the three had slipped into a small bedroom to get ready. As far as Dolores could see this mostly seemed to involve drinking a large amount of the bottle of spirits Carmela da Mosto had brought, and checking their clothes slipped off easily! Although Carmela da Mosto did run through the basics of the routine with her between these other activitys. Out in the main part of the party, Gina finally managed to spot Basilio, and approached him over the identity of the woman Dolores Alegra Malspina had seen in her vision. Basilio confirmed he did indeed know who she was, what she was, and probably even where she was. The information however, came at a price, the price he asked; help leaving the party with a young woman standing alone by the fireplace. Gina was a little bit concerned about this and said she would consider the deal. It was at this point that Clotilde Courau, Carmela da Mosto and Dolores Alegra Malspina emerged to perform and instruct Burlesque in equal measures. It was apparant from the underwear choices of certain of the young ladies that they knew of this entertainment, Calandra Fonda‘s corset notably being chosen to conceal her current state. Whilst others like the young lady wore things more for function than show. Noting the girl wa somewhat upset after the ’burlesque class’, Gina followed her into the bathroom and struck up a conversation. From this she learned her name (Natale Tamaro) and that she was a friend of Rossella Nicolosi, who spent time ‘helping’ her with her university work. She believed it was only for this reason that she had been invited to the party (she was not one of the Shadow Sisters). Gina did her best to cheer her up, but could discern little of her personality from the conversation. With the party now much more relaxed, (several of the girls declined to redon their dresses), and in some cases severly intoxicated, Gina took the opportunity to approach Dolores and ask her opinion of Basilio. Managing to focus through the alcoholic haze she was in, she determined him to be a ‘’17th century spectre’’ a ‘’17th century gentleman’‘, and a ’’sciopathic serial killer’’. Given this information, Gina decided to turn down Basilio‘s trade for information and approached him to say so, something he took with a degree of politeness. Whilst she did this Clotilde Courau asked Dolores if she could commission a mask for the spring ball in Vienna, work Dolores was happy to undertake (and which prompted her to remember she also had an invite for the Ball). Apparantly the ball was being used as Clotilde Courau’s younger sister’s ‘coming out’, something which given its nature meant that both she and her sister must have some form of noble title. Given Dolores’s intoxicated state, Gina took responsibility for getting her home and managed to get her back to the bedroom above the Ponte Antico shop without incident, before departing for her boutique realm and some paeace and quiet.
Whilst the ladies were out partying, Luca Porrini spent the evening out to dinner with Svetlana Korai, and indulging in a conversation he only partially understood. Firstly Svetlana wanted to talk about their future as a couple with her being pregnant, something Luca was happy to reassure about. It was after this that things got confusing as the word different was bandied about in various contexts. It did however seem that Svetlana Korai understood Luca was ‘different’ and wondered how ‘different’ their baby would be. She also talked a little about her family and how she had ‘hooked up’ with Sergai Rastakari (who is also ‘different’) in the hope he would help her recover the from a russian ’settlement’in Siberia. But this did not go according to plan, hence their somewhat acrimonious seperation. She did ask if Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli were also ‘different’ and if they would help Luca get her family back (they had been sent to Siberia when she was just a child). Whilst he was considering the best way to answer this, Luca spotted Chesko Barbini having dinner with a well dressed and heavily bejewlled young lady, and arranging to finish dinner at the same time as them watched the two depart in a priavte boat.
Dolores Alegra Malspina awoke with a sore head and fumbling for the alarm clock managed to press Mr Tiddles instead. After failing to find the cat upstairs (do you blame him!), she showered, dressed and headed downstairs, to find Nina DaCosta had opened the Ponte Antico shop over an hour ago. However with the cold and rain of autumn set in, the shop was quiet and she hadn’t bothered calling either Dolores or Gina Tortelli. At Dolores prompting she did press F1 and summon Gina, before asking about the new storeroom. Dolores headed into the rear of the shop to confirm which one she meant, and that it still contained the Crystal Coffin, Rachelle statue and Mistress’s mirror. When Gina and Dolores explained about their meeting with Basilio and his worrying request, she pointed out that given his nature as a ‘’17th century gentleman’’ they could simply have gotten his word that the woman in question would come to no harm.
Meanwhile across the city, Luca Porrini was woken by a phone call from Dr Helen Magnus, she was interested in a were-rat head that had been left on her bench and wondered if Luca knew any more about it. Connecting his laptop video camera he confirmed it was similar to the one he had sent but which had not arrived yet. Thus the one Dr Magnus had was probably delivered via John Druitt. She seemed dissapointed he did not have a live specimen for her and before signing off reminded him to get dressed prior to connecting his camera next time!
Deciding to spend the day doing some research into the missing Mask of the White Court, Dolores Alegra Malspina headed to the museum at Ca’Rezzonica to meet up with Adalina Trazino. Dolores told her that the Courtesans Mask was part of a set made by one of her ancestors Domonic Malspina and that she wished to do a paper on it that might provide more provinence. Adalina Trazino confirmed the Courtesans Mask was called that because it was reputedly owned by Veronica Franco. After some small talk and discusion of Adalina’s pregnancy, Dolores took a quick tour of the museum. During this she was sure she was being followed, but could not catch a glimpse of who it was. Eventually she decided to leave and headed back to the Ponte Antico shop arriving safely.
During the afternoon Gina Tortelli and Dolores Alegra Malspina spent time in the Ponte Antico shop storeroom examing the Crystal Coffin and the Rachelle statue. Having already determined the aspect ‘’sleep of a hundred years’’ on the Crystal Coffin, Dolores utilsed the sight on it. She percieved a pulsating, glowing shape, a fae construction composed of hundreds of different lifeforms. What this actually means and how it helps in getting Claudia DeTisi Mortinengo out of it, they are somewhat unsure. Turning their attention to the Rachelle statue, Gina determined it was created using biomancy and was a vessel for a single, unique lifeform (however its is not quite perfect), and furthermore its aspect of ‘’whatever you desire’’ was an unintentional echo of its creator rather than a deliberate addition.
Meanwhile Luca Porrini was spending the afternoon in research, finding out the Cup of Cunimind was made at the order of Albion, king of the Lombards and was created from the skull of his enemt, King Cunimind of the Gepids. Furthermore Albion then married Cunimund’s daughter Rosamund but it was a somewaht turbulent relationship (he kept making her drink from the cup so she could be ‘close’ to her father) and she eventually poisoned him.
Considering what they had learnt about the Rachelle statue and Courtesans Mask; it became apparant to Dolores Alegra Malspina and Gina Tortelli that there was much more to Delilah than met the eye; and that given her origins in the 15th century and the fact that to their knowedge she had never left Venice, she may not even by a Black Court Vampire and was almost certainly not (gone/dead/non-existent). Still that did nothing to sort out the missing Mask of the White Court and Cup of Cunimind. At this point Nina DaCosta entered the back room of the Ponte Antico shop and informed Dolores that a customer had come to collect a mask.
Heading to the front of the shop, Dolores was introduced to Dario Falco, the Duke of Savona. After introductions, he produced a reciept for a mask which was placed in for repairs at the Ponte Antico shopover a hundred years ago. He had seen the Gold and Green mask in a painting at his home, and realising that it was still in existense decided he would like to were it to the Duke of Milan’s ball after christmas. Neither Dolores no Gina recognized the mask but promised they would find it for him.
After considering the various option, Dolores Alegra Malspina piloted a hired motor boat the short trip across the lagoon to San Michele with Luca Porrini and Gina Tortelli on board. Mooring the boat under the wall close to the dock, Luca climbed up and after a little effort helped the ladies up and over the wall. With the island in near darkness, only Luca’s excellent hearing detected anything, picking up a gentle noise from futher inside.