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'You have made the arrangements?'
The Ventrue rolled his eyes at the pale, impatient vampire waiting for the end of the telephone call across his desk.
'The cat is away?'
'I'm in a meeting right now, Rook, I'll call her back.'
The line clicked off and Borchalt hung up slowly. The frail-looking Warlock leaned over his desk and folded his fingers against the dark wood, catching Borchalt's eye with ease.
'Now, anarch, you will tell me of this Salubri you seem so fond of...'
Borchalt did his best to look nervous, and the Regent seemed eager to take his bait. The Ventrue breathed a sigh of relief inside his head. He was not lying to the Tremere, and therefore Raven could not catch him for that. He had done as Sangria asked without betraying her, and hopefully he would be free of her after that. But an idea had occurred to him while Sangria was calling, and he filed it away for future reference. Once both the elders were occupied with their various projects, perhaps he could create a way to set them on each other, and be rid of them both if it came to a battle.
'Go on, Mario, put the flame out.'
Topaz smirked from her vantage point through the air duct grate as she listen to one of the young Tremere's lessons. Could their so-carefully guarded secret be a simple as it seemed? Obviously not, or this thick-headed neonate would have picked up such a simple task by now. Unluckily for them, they were working with fire. Topaz shut her eyes and cloaked herself in the invisibility of her powers before working loose the grate and slipping out. She fit it back into it's place quietly with a little trick she'd picked up from an Assamite friend, and slipped over to the fireplace. The two Tremere were more interested in the flames than the brick surrounding it, so it was easy enough to knock a few ashes out of place onto the carpet. She blew them gently into arousal, then conned a few more out of the embers and removed a tiny glass vial from her robes. Carefully, she squeezed the dropper over the smoldering embers and jerked back as they roared up in flame.
Topaz grinned to herself as she slipped back through the grate and watched the two Tremere react. The younger one flew from the room immediately, giving without contest to the vampires' fear of fire, but the older one cursed and stepped away, mumbling words to a spell under his breath.
I don't think so, Topaz thought with a grim smile. As he backed toward the grate, she wrapped him in that same Assamite trick she's used earlier to keep the metal from making noise. Now, the words to his spell fell from his lips without a sound, and he looked around frantically for the cause. But the rising flames ate at his confusion, and he dashed out of the room with a startled yelp. Topaz slipped back down the ventilation shaft, satisfied that she had done her 'half' well.
As she walked up to the door of the house in plain view of its occupants, Danielle couldn't help but sniff at the slight scent of smoke in the air around it. Was that just the various forms of fire used in their strange rituals, or had Topaz done her job well? She shook it off and pressed the button for the doorbell. The Nosferatu would come through, just as she would. All three of them were more than competent for the job, and the fourth member was in Sangria's keeping - the Malkavian would dispose of her shortly if she threatened their plan.
It took a while for one of the Warlocks to answer, and when he did she had to force herself not to snicker. There was smoke billowing from a hallway near to the back, and he had the look of a harried house mother as he spared her only a glance before shaking his head.
'Come back tomorrow,' he said shortly, and started to close the door. Danielle put her hand on it, and her strength pushed him back into the hall. He narrowed his eyes at her and she saw his hands moving - she had to act quickly before he could pull off one of his spells. Smiling like the devil incarnate, Danielle pulled the scarf from over her forehead and directed her third eye to the Tremere's startled face. 'Is this a trick?'
She laughed softly. 'Yes, my dear, but not one you'd expect.'
And then she gathered herself and took on his appearance with ease of a robe. Swiftly, the Salubri stepped forward and shoved a knife through the Warlocks heart.
'Sorry,' she whispered as she removed his robe and wrapped herself in it. 'You would tell on me.'
His frightened eyes followed her as she withdrew another, larger blade and brought it down twice over his neck. And then his eyes disintegrated along with the rest of his body and severed head. Danielle dropped the knife on top of the ash pile and walked on into the next hall where a small group of the Warlocks had gather to combat the fire.
'What have we here?' She said loudly enough that they all turned their eyes on her. The Warlocks weren't stupid. They knew she wasn't their Clansmen just as well as she did, and a few of them began muttering their spells. That was her cue to disappear, and she did so, although a few of them still watched her as if they could see her. She was glad she'd wrapped the scarf back over her head before going on in the guise of the Tremere.
Danielle stared at them a moment longer, then turned and fled back through the house. A small handful of the more spooky-looking ones followed.
Sangria tucked the cell phone back into her cloak and hurried after Serena. She was already cloaked in the invisibility her Clan used foremost to carry out their pranks, and when she caught up with Serena, she enveloped the girl in it too. Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw Serena at the door to the chantry, and she urged the Ravnos to hurry. Once they were inside through the back entrance - something Sangria had discovered a few months ago - she let her power slip away and guided Serena forward. She stopped along the wall and pressed her hand against a certain section of it, and the Ravnos closed her mouth sharply to inhibit a gasp as the wall slid aside to reveal a set of crumbling stone stairs.
'Stand at the steps and convince them the door is closed and locked,' she told the girl quickly. Serena nodded and Sangria darted down the flight of ancient stone steps into the darkness beyond. She wondered momentarily how Sangria could see so far down, but then she noticed a sort of red glow that seemed to be coming from the Malkavian's eyes and turned back to her illusion.
It took Sangria only moments to retrieve a strange, oblong object wrapped in silver silk from beyond the stairs and return up the steps to Serena, but it seemed like a lifetime to Serena. A whole group of Tremere elders had come down the hall and stopped outside the door - they'd even pushed the button and Serena had to drop her illusion and jump back against the wall in a panic. They would have still caught her had not one of their neonates come rushing up the hall screaming his head off about a Salubri and causing them all to run off after him. She had almost collapsed against the wall in relief when they pushed a button again and the door closed.
She didn't understand why Sangria was so upset when she came back up the stairs.
'The door, you idiot!' She glared at Serena through bright red-glowing eyes.
'It's closed...' Serena insisted in confusion.
'Of course it is!' Sangria threw her head back in frustration. 'Alright. Alright. I'm just going to break through. Here.'
And as she shoved the package into Serena's hands, she suddenly realized what Sangria's problem was. Of course! That's why she'd needed Serena, that was the one flaw in her plan - she didn't know how to open the door from the inside, and if she left it open the Tremere would certainly notice. How could Serena have been so stupid? And now they were trapped in here, unless Sangria could come up with a way to get them out.
Serena cursed softly in her native Roma tongue. 'I'm sorry, Sangria.'
'Hush. Stand back as far as you can.'
And then the Malkavian did something so perfectly normal, Serena laughed out loud before she could help herself. She pulled out a gun and fired at the automatic latch holding the door closed.
It was a good thing Sangria had a few rounds. She thought gratefully of the Brujah who had offered the extra boxes to her free of charge.
She and Serena stared stupidly at the Tremere facing them. One of the Tremere made the mistake of meeting Sangria's eyes, and in that split second, he sealed his doom. Serena didn't have a chance to wonder what kind of horrific vampire magic the Malkavian had worked on that hapless Tremere, but apparently the other Warlocks did, because they didn't make the mistake of meeting her eyes again. Quickly, Sangria grabbed Serena by the arm and shoved her behind her back, wrapping them both in her power so the Tremere would have nothing to aim their guns at. Still, they fired, and Serena thought they were done for when Sangria took a bullet, but the Malkavian was either stronger or crazier than she looked, for it didn't faze her. She kept stepping backward, shoving Serena behind her until the Ravnos could reach the door through which they'd entered.
'Go,' Sangria whispered. 'I will take care of them.'
Serena didn't have time to doubt her. She clutched the silk package in both arms and ran for it, mentally summoning her favored method of transportation - a giant black ghouled war-horse called Shadow - to meet her in the street. She was on his back and heading for the rendezvous before the Tremere realized Sangria was alone.
Topaz eyed the glassy mirror shard warily even from it place safe on her desktop. And then she followed Danielle's gaze to Serena.
'T-they can't have k-killed her....can they?' She stammered, pleading for an answer she could live with.
Topaz's lip curled in slight disgust, but she allowed Danielle to answer. The stupid little gypsy girl couldn't understand her sign language anyway, and the voice machine just didn't have the added infliction she wanted right now.
'They very well may have,' Danielle snapped. She looked at Topaz. Topaz shrugged and sighed as she leaned back in her chair. She didn't want to think about Sangria being dead - that was unacceptable right now. She chose to be angry at the Ravnos? failure instead, as did Danielle. They were both too old to accept pain so easily.
'B-b-but...' Serena stammered. 'S-she said she c-c-could take them.'
Danielle gritted her teeth and closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, her stare pierced the Ravnos to the bone.
'Get out of here. Just - go.'
Serena went, and the two elders sat in silence.
A very long time later, Danielle spoke.
'A Malkavian to the core. She would have wanted to die pulling off the greatest prank of her life.'
'Not true. Not until I got to watch the ants scramble when their farm got turned over.'
Topaz was halfway out of her chair when Danielle turned on a lamp and she realized they'd been sitting there in the darkness since Serena left. She laughed softly. Of course.
Danielle smiled faintly.
'How long have you been there, Sangria.'
'Oh, I dunno, I can't count time. I did expect to hear more out of you two - no lamenting, no tears, no ripping through the draperies in rage and agony at my loss?' She whined.
'Nah. We didn't want to put on too good a show.' Danielle grinned and held out her arms. 'Come here, cousin.'
Sangria went to her, and as she entered the Salubri's embrace, Danielle sunk her fangs gently into the Malkavian?s soft, pale neck. Sangria's eyes widened in ecstasy and she closed her eyes lazily. Topaz looked away until she heard the telltale softness of Sangria's sigh and the sound of Danielle licking her lips. When she turned back, Sangria had swayed over to lean on her desk, and she was eyeing the Nosferatu with something Topaz was decidedly unfamiliar with - lust.
'Topaz,' she cooed in her most helpless voice. 'Can I have my mirror?'
Topaz smiled slowly as Danielle slipped out of the room.
'For a price, Sangria, for a price.'
The Malkavian slipped her hand along Topaz's powder-white neck and tilted her head innocently. 'What price is that?'
'The price of enlightenment, beautiful,' she said slowly, willing Sangria to take the challenge.
'Enlightenment!' Oh...shall I enlighten you then, my friend?'
'Of course. Isn't that the point of your pranks?'
Sangria leaned forward and whispered softly in Topaz's ear before she lowered her fangs to the Nosferatu's neck.
Her hand closed over the shard of the mirror as her lips closed over the wound her fangs tore in Topaz's neck. She had pulled off everything she intended tonight - now, she had only to pull off keeping her intentions a secret.
Topaz moaned beneath Sangria's fangs. She doubted there would be any trouble keeping her secrets.
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