Dresden Files: Venice
Why Why Why
The Venice Arts Festival (La Biennale) has begun, with installations and exhibitions all across the city. But the major action is occuring in the Giardini Pubblici where pavilions from a dozen or more countrys are semi-permanent fixtures. Gina Tortelli is accompanying her sister Maria Tortelli to the Swedish pavilion where she has an apointment to meet the sculptor Miss Hedgi Lamar, and hopefully obtain a position in her studio. The theme of the swedish exhibit is ‘Art of the Female Form’ and it seems very popular judging by the queues to get in! The sisters have only just begun to wander around, admiring the numerous life-sized sculptures of women, when they are approached by Rodger Kzanacki, Miss Hedgi Lamar‘s secretary. He apologises for his patrons lack of attendance, but she has been unavoidably detained. Instead he invites the two women into the back office to explain the offer of a permanent position at the art studio in Venice. Maria Tortelli is offered the opportunity to submit a sculpture, made over the next five days in Miss Hedgi Lamar’s studio, which if it meets Miss Hedgi Lamar’s standards will result in a permenent job at the studio. He hands over a contract for this, which Maria Tortelli is more than happy to sign, along with a note of the address of the studio, before excusing himself and escorting the ladies back to the exhibit. There Maria Tortelli excitedly begins to discuss her plans with her older sister, who seems initially distracted by an elegant woman in a white dress. She however starts to pay attention when Maria Tortelli admits to not having any real experience in sculpture. Meandering around the exhibit and discussing what Maria Tortelli is going to do, Gina notes Inspector Luther Corrina staring at a sculpture of a naked young woman. He asks their opinion of it and its resemblance to a photogrpah in his posession. Whist Maria Tortelli comments that the pose is a little wrong, Gina becomes disturbed by the design of the statues and the generally bleached colour and chill of the exhibit as a whole. With a shudder and a final look around the exhibition the two leave and head towards the Italian pavilion. They do not get far when they encounter the woman in the white dress, who turns out to be Isabel; she requests Gina to meet her at the Greek pavilion at 7pm; to witness a contract. Gina agrees.
Meantime in the Italian pavilion Dolores Alegra Malspina and Luca Porrini have been watching the floorshow, where the members of Masquerade have been parading in costume with a variety of ornate carnival masks provided by Dolores and the DiLargo brothers as part of the Italian show. Luca notes Don Joseph Tormelli and his daughter Delphina Tormelli amongst the crowd, but neither he nor Dolores have any inclination about the strange mans presence until he speaks; “Not bad for mundanes”. “That is a matter between the art and the artist” is Dolores response. “Except where it conflicts with the 1st, 2nd and 4th – but when you stand in place which is neutral what can you do”; Luca turns at these words,spoken with a local accent, and observes a dark skinned, slightly scruffy man heading out of the pavilion. Luca heads out after the man, trying to discretely tail him. Just after he departs, Svetlana Korai rushes up to Dolores with a message for Luca. Don Joseph Tormelli is taking the entirity of Masquerade back to the Casino d’Venica for dinner, and she will meet Luca there after he does the job for Don Joseph Tormelli! By this time Luca has followed the man to a shed concealed in a remote corner of the garden, he emerges a while later with a wheelbarrow and tools, apparantly he is the gardner. Recognising Luca and knowing his name he introduces himself as Sabino Notora. Luca’s witty comment about a holocaust cloak is rendered a little flat as the man says if Luca needs one he should come and see him. Shaking his head Luca heads back to the Italian pavilion, and on the way meets Christy sitting on a park bench; she informs him he is required in the Greek pavilion at 7pm. Not an invitation he feels he can turn down.
Luca Porrini returns to the Italian Pavilion to rendevous with Dolores Alegra Malspina, who has just met up with Gina Tortelli and Maria Tortelli. During discussions, Gina and Dolores have realised just how limited Maria Tortelli’s sculpting talent is, but between them have hatched the beginnings of a plan whereby Gina will act as her sisters model and Dolores will lend her one of the elaborate carnival masks, giving her work its uniqueness. Looking at the brochure from the Swedish pavilion, Dolores is convinced that the sculptures are by the same artist who provided her with the miniature of herself and who is responsible for the pieces Luca is being hired to find the creator of, i.e Delilah.
With 7pm fast approaching Maria Tortelli heads for home, whilst despite the invitation to attend the meeting Dolores Alegra Malspina declines and heads back to the Ponte Antico shop, leaving Luca Porrini and Gina Tortelli to head to the Greek Pavilion. Admitted without comment by the two ‘heavies’ on the door, Luca and Gina pass through an underwater world of natural history and archaeology in large blue green tanks before arriving at the central area and a round table. At one side are Sylia, Isabel and Cossette, opposite is Don Joseph Tormelli and his lawyer, whilst surprisingly Christy seems in nominal charge of proceedings. A contract is produced, and after being read by all concerned signed by both sides, effectively giving Don Joseph Tormelli a 25% stake in La Belle d’Venice. The fact that it requires the ‘authorisation’ of Gina and the ‘enforcement’ of Luca is a surprise to these two, and also leads to ’we’ll discuss this later stares’ between the three white court vampires. Gina and Luca beat a hasty retreat, not needing to be in on the fallout from this, and with much to think about.
Arriving back at the Ponte Antico shop, Dolores Alegra Malspina was greated by the smell of burning, and the clashing of pots and pans from her kitchen. Tentatively heading upstairs, she discovered Claudia de Tisi Mortinengo had burnt the pasta and ‘set’ the bolognese, in her attempt at evening dinner. Worse still she had forgotten the message left with her, and Dolores was forced to phone Nina DaCosta to find out that Lady Bettina Mortinengo was planning to visit the following day to have her mask fitted. Having finished helping Claudia de Tisi Mortinengo clear away dinner (uneaten) Dolores retires to her workshop to finish work on the mask. What she produces is beyond ‘Legendary’ quality, perhaps one of the best carnival masks ever made. However to enchant it to fit Bettina Mortinengo is an even more difficult proposition. Phoning to check Gina Tortelli is not busy (or in a emabaressing position) Dolores presses ‘F1 for help’. The two wizards spend a degree of time discussing the problem, finally concluding, that imbuing the mask with a strong psychic resonance and then breaking it to produce a ‘ghost mask’ should suffice. Leaving Dolores to work out how to exactly do that, and maintain a degree of decorum, Gina heads off to meet up with Maria Tortelli.
Lounging on her sisters bed and flicking through Maria Tortelli‘s portfolio whist watching her cram as much knowedge of sculpture as she can from her text books; Gina Tortelli comes across a striking portrait of a dark haired women in a renaissance gown, which seems odly familiar. According to Maria it was a life study set up by the college for the day, in a medieval house close to Milan (where she studied). In response to Gina’s interest she fishes out her original sketches and photogrpahs for the painting. After studying these and still being left wondering what it is that so intrigues her, Gina texts a photograph to both Luca Porrini and Nina DaCosta. Luca immediately responds, it is a stunning likeness to Alessia Agostino. This still puzzles Gina because she has never seen Alessia, then it hits her, a brief search through the brochure for the Art of the Female Form exhibit confirms it, the woman is the same used for Sculputure 16: ‘Dance’. Which seems strange given that Alessia is apparantly searching for the sculptor.
Luca Porrini has meanwhile arrived at the Casino d’Venica in search of Svetlana Korai and the rest of Masquerade. The girls have already finished dinner and are busy dancing, drinking and bringing a lot of attention to the Casino, probably exactly as Don Joseph Tormelli had expected they would. Despite their encouragement and the intamicies of both Svetlana and the very drunk Rachelle Lenco, Luca manages to maintain a degree of sobriety and modesty. He does however end up taking Rachelle and Clotilde Courau home along with Svetlana as all three are way too drunk to look after themselves. Luckily his apartment has spare bedrooms! He does check in with Clotilde’s boyfriend who is out of town on buisness just to be sure he does not worry about her.
The following morning Luca Porrini is up well before the ladies, and is cleaning up discarded clothing, of which there seems to be a little too much, when Cossette emerges from the bathroom! It appears Rachelle Lenco had some company last night, whether she remembers it or not. Cossette however makes a discreet departure before the ladies awake, and stagger to the breakfast table, where Luca provides a mixed repast he has collected from the local cafe. Almost miraculously Svetlana Korai, Rachelle Lenco and Clotilde Courau make it out in time to head for their show at La Biennale even of all three are nursing severe headaches and wearing very dark glasses. Washing up, Luca then heads down to the Ponte Antico shop to see what is happening.
With Nina DaCosta opening the Ponte Antico shop, whilst Dolores Alegra Malspina worked in the back on masks and the crystals to gather the psychic resonance, Gina Tortelli was free to go with her sister Maria Tortelli to the studio for the first of her five days of work. Arriving at the converted warehouse (which backs on to Dante Court) the sisters buzzed the intercom and where admitted by one of Miss Hedgi Lamar’s assistants Franco Epifano. He gave them a tour of the facility before leaving them to their own devices to start work. For her first experiment Maria Tortelli decided to do a simple cast of an arm and set to work with Gina acting as her model. By the time they took a late lunch, the mould had been made and a plastic poured to see what it would produce.
Nina DaCosta meets Maria and Gina Tortelli for lunch, bringing with her crystals made by Dolores Alegra Malspina, and designed to capture psychic resonance with which to power the mask she is making for Lady Bettina Mortinengo. When the sisters return to the studio they find tha the arm they made has been removed from the mould and is lying on the table, Franco Epifano says that Miss Hedgi Lamar popped by and did it to see what it looked like.
!!! Part Three
The Ponte Antico shop is busy when Luca Porrini arrives to collect his crystal from Dolores Alegra Malspina. Nodding to Nina DaCosta who is serving a posse of american tourists, he starts to head into the back when a sharp suited man opens the door, looks around and closes it again. Intrigued Luca heads towards the door only to have it open and two women enter accompanied by the man. The older of the two (Candy Summers) attempts to converse with him in english, but when he fails to comprehend, Devon Garrett steps forward and opens the conversation in perfectly accented Italian. She wants to buy a mask for the Ambassador’s Ball at the Doje’s Palace tommorrow. Luca leads her, and her entourage, into the private salon to meet with with Dolores. The two women get on very well, and not only settle on Devon buying two masks (one of which is an antique), but the woman makes a phone call to her friend Fina Bienbardi the ambassadors daughter (and her finishing school classmate) and wrangles Dolroes an invitation for the ball. Meanwhile Lady Bettina Mortinengo has arrived for the fitting of her mask; with Dolores busy, Luca escorts her to the workroom and makes passable conversation to keep her amused. Eventually Devon‘s entourage leave, at which point Dolores gets her first real look at the bodygaurd Shawn Little. She manages to hide her expression when she realises not only does he have the aspect ’’dead man walking’’ but he is in fact dead! Without braking stride she heads to meet Lady Bettina Mortinengo and discuss her mask, which the undead women is exceptionally pleased with, especially when Dolores temporarily enchants so she can try it on. With details of that concluded Dolores asks if her guest could help Claudia de Tisi Mortinengo with her new status, but Lady Bettina sadly indicates she cannot. She does however mention that the local Nevernever is in turmoil after the death of Ilario Mortinengo and that a woman of some description is trying to take over. Thanking Dolores again for her work, Lady Bettina makes her exit through a display cabinet, thankfully unnoticed by the tourists in the shop. With it turning out to be another bumper day for takings, Dolores closes the shop early and over coffee she and Luca bring Nina DaCosta up to date on Lady Bettina. In return Nina translates some comments from Uncle Guilio (who is hoevering around unseen) pertaining to Dolores being required to make his Death Mask and his need to pass ‘all’ his knowledge on to her before he goes.
Gina Tortelli is a little indisposed when Luca Porrini phones up to enquire about Devon Garrett, she does however manage to access basic information about her whilst modelling for Maria Tortelli‘s vison of a female nude statue made of alternate clear and black plastic sections. With Gina’s encouragment, her sister manages to create a cast for the first section (right bust, right shoulder, right arm, and neck)before they pack up for the evening, and depart before the studio is locked at 6pm. Both sisters head home, with Gina trying to decide where to find the best night life this evening.
When the promised invitation for the ambassadors ball is delivered by 6pm, Luca Porrini leaves Dolores Alegra Malspina and Nina DaCosta discussing who Dolores should take to the event and her need for new shoes and heads home to do some research into his case concerning Alessia Agostino. He rapidly identifies that the studio of Miss Hedgi Lamar backs onto Dante Court and is just working out the implications when Cossette arrives at his door. Ever the gentleman he invites her in and over a glass of wime listens to her proposition. As ‘Champion of the City’ he needs friends, both powerful and knowledgable, Cossette offers to be one of thoose ‘friends’. She demonstrates this knowedge by confirming Delilah sculpted the figures attributed to Miss Hedgi Lamar and that the black court vampire (for that is what she is) lives somewhere in Dante Court. She also admits that she was paid to seduce Rachelle Lenco and that someone wants her to become a White Court Vampire, and then to be taken on La Belle d’Venice. Faced with this, and her ample charms, Luca concedes she may indeed by helpful and soon finds himself ‘in the palm of her hand’, and entangled in her embrace. Luckily for him, Svetlana Korai seems late home from her performance.
Having popped home to change, Gina Tortelli heads out to the Jazz club on the Piazza Santa Margharita, for dinner and the open music night. Fortunately she gets a two person table close to the stage, and after a not overly memorable meal, settles back to enjoy the performance. She is soon joined (at her invitation) by Damaskari who orders her a cocktail like no other she has ever tasted. Her head still swimming from drink, she confirms to herself that he is defiitely a ‘’Fallen Angel’‘. The mixture of the cocktail and his deep, melodius voice has a mesmeric effect on Gina leaving her ’’richly captivated’’ despite her reservations over his nature. The rest of the evening blurs for Gina, time dragging and skipping forwards, till early in the morning she finds herself standing on a rooftop with Damaskari listening to the mournful wail of lone violin and looking down at the lights of the city. When the music finishes, the fallen angel is gone, with only a single black rose left to mark his passing. Carefully Gina collects it and makes her way down to the street and heads home.
Cossette has left by the time Svetlana Korai returns to Luca Porrini’s apartment, she is in a good mood as the performance at La Biennale has gone well and on the back of it Masquerade have a booking to work one of the cruise ships visiting Venice in two days time. Nipping into the bedroom to change, her squeals bring Luca running. She is happily clutching a large wrapped box (which Luca cannot identify), excitedly she opens it to reveal a gorgeous one shouldered white evening gown with a designer label, which fits her perfectly. She makes her happiness at this gift manifest, which no doubt goes a long way to charging the crystal Dolores Alegra Malspina gave to Luca.
The following day after checking that Nina DaCosta is ok to manage the Ponte Antico shop on her own, Dolores Alegra Malspina heads out to purchase a pair of shoes to match her dress and mask for the ambassadors ball in the evening. Knowing only the most outstanding will suffice, Dolores heads to the shop of Marla Grimani, there the elderly shopkeeper offers a pair of glass slippers, which despite their uncomfortable look fitted like the softest shoes. Marla does not request payment, instead asking for a favour when she comes to visit Dolores, something she the masquemancer is willing to provide and they part on good terms, with Dolores heading back to the shop to deposit her shopping at home.
Gina Tortelli has meanwhile dropped into the shop to collect the mask Dolores Alegra Malspina offered to lend her for Maria Tortelli’s sculpture. Chatting with Nina DaCosta she finds the girl has something fo a goth streak and used to frequent the Dark Cross nightclub, something she does not do know after learning too much about vampires. Gina however persuades her on a girls night out there sometime soon, if they can agree on clothing choices.
Gina collects her sister Maria Tortelli from the cafe and the two head to Miss Hedgi Lamar’s studio. Miss Lamar has run a cast of the torso they moulded yesterday in bronze, and Franco Epifano has polished it up (he complains bitterly about this as he has been in the studio since 6am). It is not the best of work, but it is enough for Maria to confirm her decision on her black and clear statue idea. Whilst Maria and Franco cast the torso mould in black plastic, Gina gets ready (naked) for the next stage, stomach, left arm, and hips.
Taking another slow morning, Luca Porrini starts to investigate Alessia Agostino. Finding nothing by mundane means he starts phoning around, eventually talking to Dolores Alegra Malspina, who in turn contacts Matthew Duke of Vienna. He confirms to the masquemancer that Alessia is a red court vampire. Luca thus figures she can take care of herself and telephones Alessia to confirm that the sculptor she is looking for is Delilah and that she lives in Dante Court. She is pleased with his work and promises to use his services again. Hanging up Luca then texts Gina Tortelli to inform her what she has told Alessia, after all she and her sister are in the immediate vicinity. Sadly Gina is a little ‘tied up’ in the moulding process and fails to take the call. With Svetlana Korai having headed out to work at La Biennale with Masquerade, Luca is set for a relaxing afternoon when there is a knock at the door. Opening it, he is greeted by a willowy tall woman with a mane of hair down below her waist and a long thin face. She identifies herself as Catarina and she needs the help of the ‘’Champion of the City’‘. She traded her daughter to a man a few years ago, but know needs her back before the girl’s nature causes her to do something that may have unpleasant effects. Luca agrees to help, although he is less sure about it when the girl turns out to be Vivienne, consort to Don Joseph Tormelli.
Finally free of her sisters moulding, Gina Tortelli recieves the phone message from Luca Porrini and calls him back. Listening to the details of the case she suggests finding out the exact wording of the contract, and the two begin to suspect that despite both being mermaids Nerina is a ‘summer court fey’ whilst Catarina is of the winter court, hence their differing personalities. Anyway Gina intends to spend the evening with the Unseelie accord and promises to let Luca know anything useful she discovers. Heading into the shower to wash off whlst Maria Tortelli and Franco Epifano finish off with the mould, Gina ponders where the last ‘’Arbiter of the City’’ (her father) would have kept such written contracts. It is whilst in the shower Gina becomes uneasy and glimpsing the ‘’space between movements’’ detcts the presence of another person in the studio, perhaps some form of vampire?
Taking a water taxi to the Ambassadors Ball, Dolores Alegra Malspina spends several minutes on the red carpet at the entrance responding, silently and mysteriously, to the paparazzi’s requests for photos of her stunning dress, mask and glass slippers. Once inside she is quickly pounced upon by Devon Garrett and her friends and introduced around for far longer than she is comfortable. Eventually she slips away and takes a moment to converse with Adalina Trazino, who is present wearing a mask she eventually recognises as from the museums collection, having been made for Lucretia Borgia by an early Malspina mask maker. Sipping wine and indulging in gentle conversation, Dolores manages to spot several others she recognises including Sabino Agostino, Fabrini Giacanti and Sylia accompanying a man she vaguely recognises but does not know. Slipping away from Adalina, Dolores’s stunning appearance attracts the eye of Fabrini Giacanti who approaches wishing to make her aquaintance. The two get on well, over the next few hours and after a series of dances (which attract admiring and envious glances in equal measure) he steps to one side to collect some refreshments giving Dolores the opportunity to meet Sylia‘s mysterious companion who is at that moment talking to Adalina. The man is introduced as Markus Schlender an Austrian banker, and benefactor of Ca’Rezzonica and he is sufficiently impressed by Dolores’s footwork to invite her to the Imperial masked ball in Vienna as his guest. Fabrini returns at that point and after some polite conversation Adalina departs with Markus, with Sylia a discrete distance behind. Dolores and Fabrini leave a short while later, heading back to his canal front mansion.
Using her mobile phone Gina Tortelli phones the contact number for her father, the call is answered by Mistress who informs her that her father has been missing for fourteen years after going to see Mab. She cannot help with the location of the contracts her father held, but can confirm that no contract between Don Joseph Tormelli and Catarina was registered with her. There is however generally a delay of up to a year between contracts being signed and registered, so it could be lost in the system. Mistress does however confirn there are contracts registered between Catarina and both Delilah and Nerina.
Luca Porrini and Svetlana Korai have spent a quiet evening at home, and retired to bed after dinner, when Svetlana’s mobile recieves a message in the early hours of the morning. The text is from Rachelle Lenco and says there is something outside her apartment trying to get inside. Luca tries to call her back but the phone does not connect. Telling Svetlana to phone the police he races out the door, heading for Dante Court. On the way he calls Gina Tortelli asking her to meet him there.
!!! Part Six
The Venice fog has rolled in by the time Gina Tortelli and Luca Porrini meet up outside Dante Court; with the main entrance strangely padlocked the two rush to the small side alleyway that enters under the stairwell. Gina conjures some light as they head in, revealing Miss Hedgi Lamar standing in the tunnel. They are somewhat surprised when she pointedly mentions that should her current sponser (Delilah) not survive tonight’s clash with the Red Queen, then she (Hedgi) would be free to develop Maria Tortelli‘s careeer in whatever direction she wished. Not commiting themselves either way the two head past her into the court, and by Luca’s judgement into the Nevernever. Heading up the stairs to Rachelle Lenco’s apartment the two are stopped by a black clad Delilah lurking in the shadows, she warns there is a dangerous creature present, but Gina and Luca push on. Only to be attacked as the winged fiend drops down from above, Luca is severly ‘’ripped to the bone’’ but in response his claws and Gina’s spells ’’Bruise’’, ‘’Crush bones’‘, and ’’Break Ribs’’ before a final attack by Luca leaves the red court vampire extreemly ’’unwinged’’. She tries to leap for the far side of the court and escape butinstead plunges to the ground to land in a crumpled heap. Pressing on, instead of finishing off their adversary, the two reach Rachelle’s apartment which is locked, and difficult to open until Delilah appears with a set of skeleton keys. Inside the two find Rachelle unconcious / bespelled on the bed clad only in a negligee, and with Delilah’s help grab her and leave (both the Court and the Nevernever).
Returning to Luca Porrini‘s apartment, Luca and Gina Tortelli put the still unconcious Rachelle Lenco to bed in the spare room. Tiptoing back into his room, Luca finds Svetlana Korai is still fast asleep. Strangely there are some sleeping pills and an expensive jewellry gift box on the nightstand. Inside which is a beautiful emerald necklace. Gina heads for home and Luca slides into bed next to Svetlana. When she awakes in the morning, at Luca’s prompting, Svetlana vaguely remembers sending Luca out to help Rachelle Lenco, but nothing after that, she is however very pleased with the necklace and accepts Luca’s contrived explanation of what happened. Rachelle Lenco remembers nothing after going to bed in her own apartment, but the messages on her phone convince her something happened, perhaps she sleep walks / texts?
Lazily waking alongside Fabrini Giacanti, Dolores Alegra Malspina indulges herself with a morning dip in the jacuzzi and breakfast with her host in is canal front mansion before making her way back to the Ponte Antico shop and there being brought up to date as to what has happened.
Despite everything Gina and Maria Tortelli make it back to the studio of Miss Hedgi Lamar and by the end of the week have produced a passable statue of Gina in alternate bands of black and transparent plastic. Observing the work, Miss Lamar surprisingly pronounces herself satisfied and offers Maria a permanent position at the studio. Gina is a little reluctent over this until she relases the contract is framed in the terms of an oath, and an oath is binding to the Fey, Muses included, as this is what it becomes apparant Miss Hedgi Lamar is. With her sisters blessing, Maria Tortelli signs the contract and takes Gina out to dinner to celebrate.