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About Varied / Professional C. NortonFemale/United States Recent Activity
Deviant for 7 Years
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“Finn,” Quinn whispered in purring tones as she slipped up beside the Seneschal, “Dahling, do you have a moment?”

“I sure do.” His amber eyes took in the smaller form of Kenosha’s Prince with a practiced magnetism. Smiling as she slipped an exposed limb through the crook of his proffered arm, he led her onto the balcony that overlooked the glistening silver-green of the lake below. A servant appeared with a marble tray laden with refreshments. To give the rulers privacy, the retainer quietly closed the glass doors as he exited. Leaning on the ornate railing Finn raised a brow. “What's up?”

“I have heard some disturbing rumors come my way. Naturally as Seneschal you will want to help me sort this all out.”

A cool autumn breeze ruffled his coffee colored locks. With a graceful shrug Finn turned to watch Quinn in silent anticipation.

“Might I assume you understood what Marcos has hinted at?”

“I did.” Turning his eyes towards the drift of fall leaves he sniffed dismissively. “I think it's just Brujah peacocking.”

A faint hum came from the Prince as she watched the distant horizon. “I looked into this. Seems we might have a larger, internal issue where the Sabbat are concerned. Now…” Walking painted nails along the stone column, Quinn shunted the Seneschal a glance. “Some have hinted, rather darkly, that it might be you. Some have also whispered that you only backed my claim to Praxis because you thought you could manipulate me. I don't like such rumors about my trusted right hand. Please,” liquid eyes looking up into the Seneschals’, “help me quash these hideous accusations. Tell me why people would think such thoughts, let alone repeat them?”

“Sabbat? Me? ” Finn scoffed. “Such rumors are ridiculous. You've met my Sire, and I have a prestigious pedigree because of him. People who are secretly Sabbat don't have prestigious sires of merit like mine.”

Steadying his gaze upon Quinn, the Ventrue considered the Prince. “As far as manipulation, I backed your claim of Praxis to help you. Truth be told,” he said with a relaxed posture, “I wasn't sure if you could handle the big chair.” Chucking with killer charm as a delicate pout creeped over Quinn’s lips, he added a halfhearted, “No offense.”

Quinn crossed her arms, nails digging into flesh with a slow rhythm as her eyes narrowed into deadly slits.

“You are starting to prove me wrong,” he added when her red bottomed shoes threatened to leave gouges in the marble floor. Waving his hand in small circles to summon a feed of quiet instrumentals, Finn arched out in a practiced slide, twisting the Toreador into a singularly effective dip.  “Regardless,” he continued as he brought Quinn back up and began to lead her in an effortless waltz, “Prince and Seneschal are still a team and should act as such regardless of how much the Prince actually needs the Seneschal.”

A chuckle escaped her incardinated lips as he swung her into a wide arch. “Finn, Dahling,” she gasped as he pulled her back into the dance, “I appreciate your honesty. I admit it is hard for me to have the crown, but I am determined to wear it well and wear it with finality. Therefore, those who spread such rumors should be silenced.”

Finn expression changed to one of concern though his practiced smile never faded. “Oh, not permanently mind you,” She added quickly, “Just told firmly to shut it. Any ideas?”

“Offhand,” the seneschal answered, “Dominate works well.”

How very Ventrue of him. “I don't know that.”

The devilish grin added a spark to his hawks eyes. “No, but I do.”

“You do,” Quinn chuckled mirthfully. “Indeed you do. Ah, such a useful power. I am quite envious you know.”

“Maybe,” Finn grinned with sly adore, “once I get a bit more adept at it, maybe I'll teach you some.”

Charmer! “I should like that very much. I want to learn as much as I can.” Dipping and sliding across the marble floor in practiced exertion, the figure of the dance lead them to and fro. “I confess, pretending to be incompetent so that I can lure out the Sabbat infiltrator and find my enemies is very taxing. But being able to end that threat once and for all...” A flourishing spin lead Quinn towards the edge of the balcony. Finn yanked her back with force, causing her to press into the thespian’s chest. “I do hope it feels as good as I hope it will.”

“It should,” Finn confessed with nonchalance. “It never feels good to feign a fool, but for a payout like that, it should be well worth it.”

An actor would know, thought the Prince as they dipped while the tempo changed. “You shall be at the next gather, shall you not?”

“Yes. I have to meet with a visiting Elder that I was supposed to meet at the September gathering. I failed to hold that appointment. I was supposed to meet her again at your party, which I am sorry to have missed, by the by…” Looking at the crease forming on her brow, he gave a simple smile. “I have an apology gift for you.” As the curious expression lit her eyes he nodded and spun into the next measure of the dance. “I now need to meet the Elder at the next gather.”

“Please do meet her,” Quinn agreed equitably. “She doesn't like me. You know how it is. I had Cross hunted for violating the First, which of course means you're down a Ventrue and a problem. More than that, I am a Torrie on the throne. She's not impressed.”

The Seneschal chuckled dryly. “Yeah, she's old school and,” he added with an impish grin, “seems like kind of a bitch.”

Quinn silently agreed, but said instead, “Rivington likes her, but he's... well he's her sort.”

“Right,” Finn said sardonically. “I'm not, so I'm assuming we won't get along.”

“Well, you're her clan. You have more going for you in her eyes than I do.”

Finn conceded the point as he moved to embellish the end of the dance with a low arching dip. “Right.”

Laughing with delight, Quinn slid up and rested her forehead against the finely adorned arm of her second in command. “Well then,” she mused while regaining her composure, “what were you up to that you missed the Ball?”

Slipping the Prince’s arm over his, Finn shrugged as he led a promenade about the curved view. “New projects.”

Quiet came over Quinn as she considered his words. “Merrick said the same thing recently. Well,” shrugging dismissively, “if you do not trust me to know, that is your decision.”

Finn looked down at the Prince with consideration. “New building I'm thinking of doing,” he admitted.


“Haven't decided what yet. I’m between two things. Three things,” he corrected, “but really two.” The confusion on her face was comical. Chuckling silently, he tried again. “Let me clarify.  A museum of aeronautics and space, or a planetarium slash observatory. Third was a museum of science and industry, but there's one in Chicago, so no to that.”

“Ah. Both would be very interesting.”

“I'm kinda leaning towards planetarium.” Glancing down at Quin as she bounced on those dangerous heals of her, the Seneschal decided to indulge her. “What do you think?”

“I would much rather that than some old mechanics lying about collecting dust.” She responded softly. “It encourages growth of the intellect, it causes growth of the city and it increases the edge of one’s outer visions to be clear. In the end the planetarium will do the city of Kenosha better than an aeronautics museum.”

Finn pursed his lips, nodding. “Valid point. Planetarium it is.”

“There you have it,” Quinn said lightly. “This is what happens when people trust in me and do not hide things. Decisions get made and people benefit.” Finn made a non-committal sound as he patted her hand. With a sigh, she continued. “If only the rest could see the wisdom in this.”

A light chuckle escaped him as he shook his head. “They will.”

The Prince’s smile was disarming.  “You have such faith in me. I hope I can live up to it.”

“Well,” Finn said with all the lack of conscious of a jackdaw, “Not being Sabbat helps.”

For a moment Quinn looked up at the sharp features of the leading man, considering if he had the nerve to make a subtle jibe or if that was indeed a sincere comment. “I am not Sabbat. Not by a long shot. Curious question,” she asked with an inquisitive tilt to her head, “how were you planning on handling Cross?”

“Well honestly,” Finn said in matter-of-fact tones, “I assume you killed him because of what was on the tape Eva brought you.”

“Yes...” she sighed. That damned tape. One must never trust a hunter spewing honeyed words. “At that point my hands were tied. No matter how I tried... he had to die.”

That was how I dealt with him. I had Eva bring you that tape.”

“Ah,” Quinn breathed. “So you're in good with the hunter then?”

“Eva kind of, Eli no.”

“If you knew Eli I should think that would be a larger problem.”

A cold breeze promising winter shot across the lake, biting at everything in its path. The deep shiver of the Prince was not lost on the Seneschal. Turning their walk back along the path, he spoke. “I do know Eva and Eli are related somehow, but she's a tad less vigilant than he is.”

“Blood related?”

“I meant,” he clarified with a glance, “they definitely know each other, I don't know if they are family.”

“Oh.” Quinn took in the stars, letting her steps shatter everything in her path. “Yes they do. They have conversations, as hunters are want to do.”

“I also think Eva and Vaslov,” he said, speaking of the almost peaceful hunter and of the Ravinos trader who wondered in and out of the Domaine with random deals, “know each other. Pretty sure on that one…”

“I too think this is true. I also believe that the Ravinos will cause more issue than solutions if he keeps stealing from the places we don't want to know of us. I don't want him going to the Sabbat to sell, but breaking into the police’s evidence locker and stealing, as rumor has it, from a gun runner? Really...”

“Actually,” confessed the seneschal, “it's a bit more than think for me. I'm actually positive. Remember the first night Vaslov came to a gathering? It was shortly after the whole Romanie riot thing where Shane went to stay with them. Me and Vinnie got those letters from Shane that night.”

Quinn was less than pleased with the events of that evening. The usual anger flooded through her, impotent as long as Shane, that deserting Autarkis, remained out of her reach. “Yes I remember the letters. I don't know much of what went on with Shane. I would like to though. It would help me understand what's going on.”

“Well…” Finn said with the air of someone about to expose a great secret, “shortly before that gathering I went to the camp and when I asked for Shane, Vaslov came out instead. So, he was there.”

Blinking wide, Quinn gazed up into the profile of the actor with the air of a child asking for more stories. “Please tell me more?”

An generous smile bent his lips. “About what?” he asked indulgently.

“This whole event you speak of.”  A great sigh escaped her as she leaned her head against the softness of the Seneschal’s suit. “To be honest, Finn, the only thing that keeps me from finding Shane and punching him in the no-no zone for abandoning us is that he is your brother. Now he wants a domain in my territory and I may hit him with my car for daring to ask. So…” Looking up at him with that adoring expression, “the more information you can give me about this whole fiasco the wiser my decisions become. Please help me by telling me what you know. All of it.”

“For starters,” Finn said with a harsh undertone, “don't give him anything in your territory. Whatever he got swept up in may be a bit of an infernal path. That's why Marcos is here. That's pretty much all I know.” A faint mortification entered his tone. “I was going to talk about it with Marcos at your party, but I was unable to attend.”

Quinn took this in. It made sense now, that cold edge of panic gnawing at her nerves. She’d always been reasonable; but infernalist; those willing to risk what remained of their souls on foolish deals with devils; those were never to be tolerated.

And Rivington, willing to do anything to obtain knowledge… He’d always wanted magic. He’d been hounding her for ages about her contacts in the world of charmed. She’d never given in, knowing how poorly that would go for them. Was this why he’d pushed so hard for the land deal? Had Shane promised him this forbidden knowledge? She had to know. For now, the lights of the museum flooded the night sky bringing the privacy of this walk to a close. “Please find out more. When you do, we will broach the topic again.”
The phrase rough and tumble didn’t quite fit the kilted man who saunter into Elysium. His scruff of patchy face fuzz stood on wire ends, melding into a seamless rift with his bushy brows. Giving a snort as he looked about the gathering of what he silently damned as prissy, foppish layabouts. Marcos, Elder of clan Brujah, bent his neck until it gave a sharp, attention catching crack.

Eying the assembly with ill-concealed disdained, he grunted out in bellowing tones, “So is the Prince going to tell us what 'decisions'” his fingers bouncing up and down in clawing air quotes, “have been made, or,” a sickening grin spread from cheek to cheek, “shriek them at next gathering like a banshee with her panties lit on fire?”

The room seemed to hold itself in still perfection, a moment of shocked outrage caught in the liquid amber of soft lights. Satisfied he had the attention of all, Marcos’ tong flicked over an ever sharp fang. “The only question then,” he mused off handedly, “is whether or not any but the Gangrel will be able to hear such a high-pitched sound.” Brutal eyes leveled on the Prince’s glamourous gaze. Her shimmering countenance did not hide the hackles rising in response. A cocky smile curled the Brujha’s lips as he stood his ground, waiting to see what the whelp would do.

Young she may be, but Quinn was raised to ascend to Harpy. Decorum required the Prince remain unphased, clever, capable and above everyone else. It was a rare occasion on which she was able to unleash her cruel arsenal. Being Prince can really suck some times, she thought wistfully. And yet the Elder had thrown down the gauntlet. In her experience, Brujah respect someone who could fight for themselves. Yes, she could give him the cut direct, and leave it to the court to rip him to shreds on her behalf, but what good would that do? Besides, it had been so very long sense she’d had a real battle of wits.

“Although the encephalon challenged troglojock may never wish to consider indulging in liposuction, lest his head implode,” she said in passing to Finn who stood staring at Marcos with fire in his eyes, “I am sorry to hear that his faculties have been damaged due to the no doubt numerous blows to the cranium he has received over his greatly shortened life span. Perhaps he should think of getting a hearing aid to assist with that.”

Finn’s smug smile gave the actor a practiced look of hauteur that his every day expression lacked. Before he could add to the banter, Marcos cut in.

“Twenty dollar words from a twenty dollar whore,” the Bruhja mused as he stroked his chin. “Makes sense.” Turning his coal black gaze on those in attendance, he addressed them directly. “Think this domain needs to ask itself if it wants a Prince that will trade verbal jabs with a known troublemaking Brujah instead of letting her Harpy deal with things.”

Said Harpy had been more than content to let Quinn play with this upstart. It had been some time since he’d seen her rip someone to shreds. That is, until Marcos had crossed a line that the gentleman inside the kindred could not allow. Viciousness crawled up his spine and glistened in his cerulean eyes. Flicking his fingers over the black leather binder in direct opposition to the chaotic callousness of the Brujah, Rivington drew every eye with his quiet, elegant tones.

“Is this really necessary?” He left no room for doubt as to what the answer should be. Stepping from the shadows cast by black velvet drapery into the field of honorable verbal combat, a sneer curling his lip, he pressed his point. “We have bigger things to worry about than your guys' egos. If you don't knock it off right now I'll strip both of you and call it a night! For the sake of your unlives, you all need to grow up!”

The pure, frozen fury came not from the curve of his lips, nor did it emanate from his golden countenance. Instead it radiated from the very blue blood that flowed thru his veins, a silent call to power ages past. Peasants, it seemed to say, do not test me.

Quinn glanced at Marcos. She had so wanted to see how quick his wit was but was not fool enough to tangle with Rivington when he had blood in his eyes. Putting aside her desire to sharpen her claws, she let Finn hook his arm thru hers, pulling her back to his side where she was out of the Harpy’s line of sight.

Rivington noted this strategic retrieval of the Prince. Good. Time for the King to play. Opening the powerful ledger with an elegant flick of his wrist, the Harpy sighed as one dosed when dealing with precocious children. “And besides Marcos,” He continued, “I thought the lady could stand up for herself. I would hate to have one of us Blue Bloods step in the way of her holding her own.” His steady gaze brokered no forgiveness as he watched the Brujah flinch in recognition. Marcos’ spat those same sentiments at Finn when that Ventrue had used his birthright to back Quinn for praxis.

Rallying, the bully stood straighter, his stocky frame barely able to reach the Harpy’s shoulder. “Yes, it is necessary,” he barked. “It's what my clan does.  Question the status quo for the good of the society. If everyone else wants to sit back and let this Prince represent them like that, it’s fine. I just thought they should know it’s not the way a Prince normally handles herself.” His hands balled into fists at his side.

“You claim to want to question the status quo yet you rip on the Prince for not being like other Princes. Seems to me like you don't truly know what you're talking about. Not going senile already are we Marcos?”

Damned, foolish children, let loose from their sires teats before they’d even come of age. This is what became of lax rearing practices, Marcos thought vehemently. Still, they had tried to stand up to him. Brave. Stupid, but brave. “And Rivington,” Marcos almost chuckled, “for the sake of my unlife? Come on, don't go there.”

“Hmm. Well, he doesn't seem to like it when the Harpy does his job,” Rivington said to the open air. In the corner of his vision he could see the predatory grin that began to twist the crowd’s visage as they sensed the Ventrue ready for a kill. “Oh well.”

Marcos new when he’d been bested, but as most Brujah he was not about to go down without giving as good as he gave. Too bad his temper began to give way. He gazed intensely at the Harpy as he snorted in disdained. “Nice knowing you Rivington.”

Unphased, the golden lawyer pulled out his elegant, silver-tipped pen. “And blatant threats to boot.”

Marcos shrugged. “No tradition against that.”

Rivington didn’t spare him a glance as he ran a long finger down the carefully worded notes, “I didn't say that there was. Just make sure I don't wind up missing or else it'll look mighty suspicious.”

“The Sixth Tradition is Right of Destruction, not Right of placing a whelp in concrete for one hundred years.” Marcos spat.

“A valid point Marcos.” Ah, there was the entry. Suitably, he was low on the list. “Still, due to your very inappropriate and repulsive language directed towards our cherished Prince, I find that you are no longer Honorable.” A single stoke was all it took before Elder held no more meaning than Tolerated.  The book was power and the Harpy its wielder. “While you may not agree with how she is acting,” The book snapped shut, echoing throughout the stunned room, “you DO NOT call a woman those types of names in a public forum.”

Marcos stared the Ventrue in the face. Pansies, the lot of ‘em. Manufacturing a stage worthy yawn, he shrugged. “Alright captain, as you say. I guess all I can do is hope she doesn't bloodhunt me like she did your clanmate Cross. Gee,” he said with mocking innocence, “I sure thought those were supposed to be public. Now that sounds like a scandalous act. Still, two in one week is something not even Queen Anne has ever done, so I am probably safe. I tell you Rivington, despite what the Prince of Chicago has said recently you guys aren't all bad.”

“The Bloodhunt was public, announced in Elysium,” Rivington replied dismissively.

“As you say, but it was amazing how many people didn’t know about it.”

Rivington paid him no mind. Prince of Chicago, eh? The Harpy’s interest was caught. What possible information worthy of his attention could this counter jumper possibly have? With an affected air, he sighed. “Oh, and what has the Prince said?”

“I'm sure a well-connected person like yourself can find out strait from the source without going through the filter of a senile Brujah.”

Looking straight down his aristocratic nose at the ill groomed little man before him, Rivington raised a brow as if considering a particularly troublesome piece of dirt. “Oh, no doubt I could. But since you were here, I figured I'd ask. Well as much fun as this is, I have some work to finish up. I wish you a pleasant evening Marcos.”

The Elder watched as the Harpy wandered thru the parting crowd and grinned, his mind working hard.  “And you as well…”
Ask for two things. One you don’t have a chance of getting and the thing you really want.

For a while Quinn sat in the tall backed, comfortable chair, legs stretched in out to the ottoman in a huddle of comforter and fluffy pillows, staring at the empty fire place. The silence, filled with the familiar focus of Rivington’s steady mind seeped into her burning wounds with each tick-tock of the unseen clock. Closing her eyes, trying to focus on more than the creeping crawl of self-knitting flesh, Quinn resisted the urge to claw and rend the bothersome patches that itched and throbbed with every repaired nerve. It was then the addiction raised its fathomless head; a cajoling command that stripped away finer qualities until Quinn’s teeth ached.

Rivington lifted his ugly yellow notepad to the antique light, oblivious to his companion’s plight. “Is this okay?” A breath changed his question to the blades edge of contractual command. “The Prince will agree to grant Shane the aria around the collage as a Domain, if he grants hospitality to Rivington and Quinn, and that he agrees to stop interfering with the businesses in Kenosha.”

At the sound of Shane’s name, Quinn’s eye twitched and with that insignificant movement a new wave of agony ripped over her enflamed form. “No,” she hissed, malice dripping from every word. “I told you, he can have it as a Fiefdom. He gets any sort of foot hold here and he will not stop fucking around.” Hot, impassioned eyes focused on the golden profile calmly making notes. “That land is ours by Cam law. What does he have on you? Did he dominate you?”

Rivington’s eyes turned towards the sky, quietly pleading. “I'm not dominated. You can't grant the land to him as a fiefdom as he is not part of the Camarilla.” A guttural sound was Quinn’s reply. He waited, counting down the seconds until…

“He has to give me a shit load of stuff because I am so pissed at him right now.”

There it was. Reason. “If we want Blackthorne for free we need to get me into that position. In order to get me in there we need to give him that feeding ground. He wants that one because his mansion is there. Otherwise there is $60k a month for Blackthorne.”

The silence that accompanied her thoughts was vibrant. Unknown illusions of flickering things just beyond reality crowded the pain of her vision, tangling and destroying the calming webs of her control. Only one conclusion could be found. “Rivington, be one hundred percent with me. Are you planning on getting a foot hold, taking over the company, edging Shane out of it, then using it to track his resources and influences to take them for yourself?”

Rivington’s sculpted brow rose at the unexpected brilliance. “It hadn't crossed my mind, but that is a good idea.”

A slow breath carried the scent of something thick and laced with herbs as the Harpy’s pretty ghoul came in with a carved tray covered in medicinal items. “He wants it because his house is there?” Rivington’s was silent. “Fine, you're getting into Blackthorn for getting me to grant this. What am I getting from him?”

“Blackthorn protection for free.”

“Nope. Not good enough. I'm the prince because his sorry ass booked out. I got set on fire because of him. Fire. I want a contract for his frikin soul. I demand the Faustian contract tight kinda legal stuff from him.”

“Shane isn't going to sign anything like that.” He watched with detached interest as Andrea pried the comforter from Quinn’s faltering grip. “How is being set on fire his fault?”

“If he had sucked up the insult,” the Prince hissed as she lifted herself up while the ghoul exposed the expertly applied bandages that covered most of Quinn’s form, “he would have not only been able to take the princedom from Katla …or ruled through her, but apparently he's just not that smart and that disappoints me… but I wouldn't have been appointed prince which means I wouldn't have been the target of a pissed off disembodied Tremere with fire magic from beyond! I have a bag of blood and goo that used to be some innocent werewolf kin in my basement. It's a bio hazard! My party was in ruins! I heard his frikin ghoul disrespect me to you. Yeah, he wants to go to his home. I get it.  That fucking deserter is riding his last edge with me! So, you know... That's why.”

As the wrappings were slowly unraveled with a masterful hand, Quinn couldn’t help but admire the grace of the ghoul. If she weren’t so methodical, she might have belonged to a Torrie. Shame, really. “I itch.”

“It’s a stretch to connect all of that but okay.” The ugly paper regained his focus. “What do you want?”

“It's not a stretch Rivington. It's the long game. This is why you need me. I see the long game. His ass will owe me. You know what I want from him? I want three things. Three itty bitty things he can totally spare.”

“And they are?”

“The Blackthorn thing is what he is giving you. I want a permanent bump in Resources from him. He's richer than Croesus and so that should be easy enough. I want him to connect us to his contacts and influences. I need to protect my people and lands; he has the stuff we need...” Her attention was grabbed by the bottle Andrea was tipping scented contents from. For a moment Quinn wondered what could possibly be such an unnatural shade of pink but decided it didn’t matter once the cool touch of a saturated cotton ball eased the torture of her well baked skin.

Regaining her train of thought, Quinn paraded on with offhanded insight. “Don't think I don't know that Katla is still his bitch. That land was taken by her right before she abdicated. The hunter driving her out? Bull. It’s Shane trying to make it so undesirable that it’s no loss to give it to him. Real estate transactions? Like he’ll ever get me with one of those. Like she's not feeding him info.  I want him to flat out contract swear he and none of his,” her bandaged hands arched outwards in explanation, “noun…s,” the s hit hard for emphasis, “will try to butt into our nouns. And frankly, I don't see why you aren't making him give you lore out the ass for this shit. He betrayed us by leaving in the middle of a crisis. We’re new. He knew what that would do to us. Serious. So pissed off. So, so Pissed Off.”

Rivington’s steady gaze didn’t falter as she swore a blue streak when his assistant removed the rest of the medical dressing to apply treatment. Quinn’s skin looked like something left warming the oven overnight; cracked, black and oozing unsavory liquids that may have once been flesh. That had to hurt. He would be indulgent.

“Because he deserted the Camarilla: His ass will owe me a Boon. I'm torn between life or just Major. Because I was set on fucking fire.”

“He can't owe boons. He is not part of the Camarilla.”

Damn it!” A deep, rattling breath. “Fine. Fine on that part.” Quinn winced as her head was turned for better access by the ghoul as she slathered on the medicated ointment. “Why is Andrea covering me in pink goop?”

“I'm also fairly certain that Shane didn't long game to get you set on fire or have biohazard in your basement. He was sneaky, but even he isn't that good.” Rivington replied, ignoring the rest of her inquiry.

“That was just a bonus. You know, the worst part is I used to like him. I was shocked when he didn't make Prince. I dunno what happened there, but frikin Nine Hells of Sanity, I smell like peppermint now!” A slow growl carved its way from Quinn as her hands tried to flex into deadly daggers only to crack the damaged skin. The icy release of the medication had begun to sting. “Seriously, what is this pink goop?”

“It helps with the itching,” Rivington replied dismissively.
Quinn grunted. If he wasn’t concerned then it must be safe. What could she do to the deserter to cause him sincere regret for the rest of his nights? A frown marred the mask of pink saturating her expression. Not wishing to look like some sort of Pepto-Bismol clown, she turned her thoughts to more practical matters. What did the Prince need for her domain? There were so many options, but most horrific thing to her was the sheer amount of unknowns out there she couldn’t defend the court against. It was galling. “Make him teach me something then. He's not Cam anymore, so can I learn that thingy you have from him?”

Rivington’s pen paused. “Dominate?”

“Is that the one? I want the one that was awesome but you said was not allowed for me because it was a Ventrue thing. And lore. I want lore. I need to know stuff.”

Ink slipped out a four letter word on the yellow paper as Rivington watched Andrea apply fresh bandages. Quinn was getting dangerously close to asking for things that would get them both sunned.  It was time to distract. “He couldn't be Prince because of the crap he pulled with the Prince of Milwaukee.”

“What crap?”

“He backed out of a deal with the Prince of Milwaukee.”

“Was the prince a Venture? I didn't think so.”

“She vowed that he would never hold a position of appointed power.” The Harpy gave a half smile, “I'm sorry. A position of courtly power. That is why he could be harpy. It wasn't part of the court.”

Pain has a way of making even the most airheaded bon vivant focus. That sneaky fucking bastard, Quinn seethed. Shane couldn’t get his crown the right way so he tried to word play his way into taking the throne. Power. It all came down to power. What a waste of an unlife. “Either way, if he'd just waited he could have had the throne because she's all dead now and stuff.”

“He couldn't know the Sabbat would attack.”

“Still seems to me like he's trying to be a Prince, even if it's in a smaller aria, and that does still give him a foot hold in my territory so he's gonna cough up his brass plated balls on a silver platter before I consider it. I get why he wants it. I'm not unreasonable, but betraying the Cam because he got butt hurt? No, he gots ta pay a price.” Suddenly the cold clarity of traumatic paranoia shaped itself from caffeine deprivation. “Also, I feel like you're telling him these things right now. Don't be telling him anything. Just that I want a lot for it. He should know why.”

“I'm not telling him anything. I'm waiting to get this sorted with you. I know Shane. He isn't going to give me the position and your lore, money and contacts. You need to pick something.”

“Seriously,” she said with rising passion as recent events gave the addiction a ferocious tool to chip away her higher self, “some people have called into question your loyalty to me. Not because you're Harpy, but in general. Don't betray me. I lurve you dearly, but you know my priority.” Quite suddenly the ghoul appeared with a cup of the true black gold. That fresh ground scent overpowered everything, stopping Quinn’s insanity in its tracks. “Holy shit, Andrea brought me coffee! Again! Second time in a day!” Her freshly wrapped hands gingerly took the precious brew as she tried to smile jovially. “What did you do to her?” she quipped.

Rivington’s blue eyes flashed frighteningly. The relaxed posture dissipated as his uncurled his back. The simple gesture seemed to raise him six inches in terrifying outrage alone. Andrea slipped out with the tray and shut the door behind her. “Who is questioning my loyalty?” the Harpy commanded of the entire world, his countenance bearing down upon the Prince.

Something inside Quinn cowed under the innate power of his wrath. Despite the discomfort, her hands gripped the warm cup as if it were a powerful talisman. “You were questioned by members of the Chicago Court. You were in question by your own mother, who mommy told me is just rip shit pissed that 'that idiot' got the throne over you.” Seeing the answer add fuel to his anger Quinn tried using humor to slick back the scales of Rivington’s dignity. “You sure I can't convince just one Brujah her boobs aren't real?” Rivington’s scowl didn’t waver. Biting her lower lip she spoke quickly. “Your loyalty to me is in question. In addition, because it comes from such esteemed personage, others are whispering about it. My whole court is in question. They think we are weak and unstable. I want my court loyalty solidified. That's why I need to know you got my back like I got yours. I need to know.”

To Quinn’s mind’s eye, Rivington’s thoughts were more than lawyer shades of right and wrong. They were well maintained torture devices just waiting for the right reason to focus on destroying someone in little agonizing ways until the cries of pain and pleas for mercy could be heard beyond the grave.

She tried again to calm the golden predator. In soft tones she spoke of business and gain, bit by bit pulling him away from committing a calculated execution of her entire court. “You get the position at Blackthorn. I want something too. You see, no matter how it's spun by Shane, free security is a perk of holding that much stock in the company. Don't let him fool you. You can direct it anywhere you want it to be. On me. On you. On a single blade of grass. So, you get me to do this thing... why? I know what you get, but what do I get?”

“I know,” his rumbling hiss cut out, “I said choose something from your list. He isn't going to give you three.”

“Well,” Quinn purred in admiring tones, appealing to his pride “which one of them do we really need more?”

“That is for you to decide.”

He was still killing off people in is mind. Mock trialing them to quick graves, stripping them of dignity as he marched them to the noose.  She had to get him out of that mental state or he’d really do it. He’d bring the whole thing down just to prove a point. Quinn’s eyes flashed. Why had she told him?

Because he deserved to know, no matter the price. He was her only real friend.  It was time to put him back on course, no matter the pain. Locking her gaze with his, she spoke with the chilling tones of a natural born Harpy raised to devastate with scorn. “Your loyalty or what we need?”

His smile was crueler for its unaccustomed familiarity. “What we need. My loyalty is there. Why else would I not have just claimed Praxis myself? Why did I not strip you of status right then and there? Don't fucking question my loyalty to our partnership.”

Mentally the lost child inside sighed in relief, but the Prince held her ground. Stop pretending, Quinn, she chided herself. Honesty was her naked blade. It was time to use it. Forgetting position, ignoring status, she let loose. “I thought you didn't claim it because it's a cluster fuck of a situation and the status as Harpy is so much more. You’re really smart and devious when you want to be. What I wonder is why others didn't want you to have it in the first place. I mean do they not want me to be Harpy that badly?”

“They don't want me to be Prince,” he snapped as a hand ran down the legal pad to retrieve his pen. “Trust me. I'd rather have taken the Prince status.”

Gratias Deo. Quinn continued to smooth the edges of Rivington’s insulted vanity. “They must know they wouldn't get it away from you if you ever got the crown.” She paused and added, “I'm sorry,” in small tones. “I just... I didn't have my coffee because Halloween is always so ghost heavy and I needed to focus on the real world... and people whispered poison in my ears. And the fire. And the mess. And... I'm sorry.” Lowering her gaze to the cup, she rolled her shoulder forward and bit her lip.

Rivington considered that show of submissiveness and recoiled inside. Anyone else he would have let beg, would have devastated. Not Quinn. Never Quinn. Anger fled from him, replaced with a quiet disgruntlement. “Yea. Just don't do it again.” A strange need to make amends uncoiled itself. “If you want to come with me to meet with Bobby let me know.”

Bobby? The security chief at Blackstar was notoriously picky about who he would deal with. “I do, but Katla said she'd garrote anyone who let me walk out with just you for protection ever again because I'm prince... so...”

“Yea?” Rivington’s lawyer stability gave way to the man. Offended at the assumption that he was physically lacking, incapable of protecting, determined to prove the Viking Brujah wrong, he snarled. “Well, Katla can get her panties out of that knot she has them in.”

Quinn relaxed, curling more comfortably into the chair as she dragged the comforter over her bandages. Breathing in the heavenly aroma from the cup still in her grip, she shrugged. “I don't think she wears any.” Several sips later she glanced over at the Harpy. “I want to go.” She knew Rivington may never take her to meet Bobby, but the knowledge that she would trust him to protect her gave his machismo its due. As the mask of lawyer calm slipped back into place she stared, fascinated by the transformation.

“I don't know which is more important,” she admitted. “Probably the lore, to be honest. We need to know what we're up against.” The coffee disappeared in rapid gulps as her brain began to function properly. “What lore do we know Shane has?”

The black book of his power never far from hand, Rivington flicked open the leather cover to run long fingers down the neatly pinned list. “Based on what he gave me for the oak club; he knows a lot about kindred history. Camarilla specific and Sabbat specific. Also, a bit about gypsies, werewolves, and hunters.”

“Fine. I will forgo my own desire to know Ventrue mind stuff and get more shoes if he teaches us all that lore like he was going to before he deserted, gives you that huge interest in the security firm and the guards that go with it, and dose not try to take them away at critical moments or tell them to not protect us because he's doing that Ventrue power bid thing. My city. He had his chance. Also we have to have hospitality in his domain. I like that 20s coffee shope.”

Rivngton’s brow rose as he glanced over his meticulous notes. “You do realize that Shane, Katla and Merrick were all part of a coterie, right?”

“Yes I do. And I know they all thought I was an air head who could be easily intimidated and controlled. Merrick will do his duty. Why? Because I am considering making ether Jackson or that new Gangrel my scourge. Sure, I'll let the old one keep his title, but the scourge is supposed to be secret. Katla just announced it to everyone. Also, I want one who's in our pocket. Not Shane’s.” Quinn pondered for a moment. “Should I tell Merrick his loyalty is called into question? I mean, we can and not say where the accusation came from. I don't want him suddenly leaving the city for Shane's aria. See... that's what I'm worried about.” Her voice took on a grating, higher pitch as she mocked, “Oh look: Shane can protect us and that nut job can't. We go there and suddenly we have the power to just take over!” Shaking her head, Quinn returned to her own quiet manner. “No. No like.”

Considering for a moment, Rivington mentally shelved the idea for later dissection. “I don't think that is what he's going for, but okay. I would prefer if you didn't make Jackson the scourge. I need him for things. And I thought you were using the Malkavian?”

“Not officially. Not yet. But I might. I haven't decided. What I need is an army of people who are loyal. Mommy says to set the council up how I want it and that they are to be a buffer between me and the rest. Also, I am thinking of taking away everyone’s feeding ground, then making the non-status people convince the Primogen they need one, then have the Primogen convince you and you recommend to me. That would mean that the Primogen need to go through the Harpy to see if they have enough status to warrant a particular aria.  Like... if a place can handle one blood, and the person has three statuses does that status warrant a private ground? If they use status to give food grounds to a lesser of their own, that's on them. Give you more power, makes the lesser earn it and keeps people in line. I mean, court officials would get a place, for sure. And they get first pick based on status. I'm prince so I don't have to worry about it, but others should. I feel like the last administration was a little slap dash with things. What do you think?”

That jumble of rapid fire mental vomit took a bit of work to clean up for proper consumption. “Those who earned it for going above and beyond should be able to keep it, but going through me shouldn't be something that happens.”

“What about saying something like, these territories belong to this clan. Your Primogen will decide how to divide them up among you of their clan. And then the Primogen gets to feed all up in the clan aria. The other court officials get a separate private ground and of course I get anywhere. I mean, what if they only got what they got because they didn't get a chance at better, but earned better?”

“That is giving too much power to your Primogen in my opinion.”

Quinn’s energy plummeted as he put paid to that plan. “Oh,” she whispered. “It seemed like a good idea.” She would never be as good as he was at things like this. He was raised to be a king, to sit the throne with dignity, poise and horrifying absolution. Against something like that her efforts seemed so wrong, so small. “Rivington?” she asked in a whisper. “Am I to diplomatic? Like, not with people, but how I want to be all fair and stuff. Am I too much of that?”

“In some things. Yes.”

“I just... it's so...” Quinn seemed to shrink into the cover, a speck of a girl amongst the grandeur of appointment. “This is so hard! I wasn't raised to be Prince, I was raised to be Harpy!”

Rivington’s reply was interrupted by the jingle of his mobile. A flick of his fingers caused him to ask, “How much am I telling Jackson?”

“About what?”

“About what happened with Cross and that whole Blood Hunt fiasco. I'm using him to cover things up.”

“Ah. Well I already told him nothing. Cross was your clan. Call him out on being and idiot if you want to handle it as a Harpy. Tell him some flowery noble death stuff if you want to keep it in clan. Your pick.”

“I meant, all the shit around it.” Realizing his disgust at the bumbled situation was showing, Rivington cleared his throat. “Katla and them getting caught.”

Oh! That. Yes, he needs to know that, but have him keep it on the down low... and if he gets Katla’s sword back have him give it to you or me. One of us will have that major boon she’s offered for its return.”

“It was Joe's car right? And whose gun was left behind?”

“Erm...” Quinn’s mind tried to pull itself from the dark funk it had slid into. “I heard it was Cross' car. I'm not sure. I didn't go so I don't know, but we have the police video cam...era.” she trailed off. She’d handed the whole device over to the brute to take care of. He’d certainly done so, all right. Dang. “That Brujah broke it to erase the tape.” The look the lawyer gave her was priceless. “I dunno why,” she exclaimed.  “He just did.”

“Are you still keeping people from moving on the Doctor?”

Doctor Osager. The sweet older man who, sources had it, was systematically poisoning the food supply in order to reap vengeance against all vampires for what happened to his wife and daughter. Quinn couldn’t blame him for his hatred, but she so wanted to believe people could be reasonable. She needed proof. She needed to know what was really going on, that she wasn’t damning an innocent person. “I told a few people I needed more information and one more voice to speak on the matter.” Looking at his profile, Quinn steeled herself. “Knowing what you know, Mr. Lawyerman, do you feel it is justified to cull him? Do you really think he is behind it? You're the only other person who saw him first hand. So you're the only other person who got a real read on him like I did.”

“I think it was an act. He went very defensive when I asked to come back, he increased his security. It all adds up to him being behind it.”

The nearly empty cup dropped with her bravado. Shadows blotted out the light in her innocent, trusting gaze. “I'm too easy to fool. Fine. I trust you. Make the call. But,” she added with a forlorn deprivation of the soul, “I get his magic stuff. Not the Tremere.” No matter how cold she must be about her own damnation, there were still those she wished to save from the horror of the embrace.

Rivington studied her. “I cannot make that call. That needs to come from you.”

The terror burst forth in absolute revulsion, shaking her to the core. Trying desperately to get away, Quinn shivered. “Oh. You... can't tell them I said...” The noble blood in his veins lent itself to his countenance as he turned that frightful gaze on the Prince of Kenosha. For the second time that evening she felt her illusions break. Her voice squeaked. “Okay.”

Nodding, the Harpy lowered his shoulders, softening his demeanor. “We need to keep up the charade. You need to make these announcements. I can't look like I was involved.”

“Oh.” The catch in her voice was not lost on the man inside the monster.

"Hey," he cooed as his firm touch lifted her chin to meet his tempered, almost human gaze. "You need to be strong right now. I need you, and you need to show everyone that you can do this."

For a long time they stared into each other’s gaze, taking stock. Past persecutions and forces beyond their control had thrown them together. From those hardships they had formed an accord that defied both conventions and his mother’s machinations. Nether was sure which had been harder to overcome.

He needed her devious, viciously cruel willingness to dirty her hands for the cause. That selflessness that made her capable of standing before the blade also made her callous to all those who would shirk from the inevitability of life. He liked that. Yet, despite everything thrown at her, Quinn remained pennant. Of all the kindred he’d met, she had the best grasp on her soul. She was delightfully psychotic proof there were somethings in the world worth saving.

For her part, Quinn knew she required the strong support of someone unwilling to bend to pressure or whim. Rivington was steadfast and, despite his angelic looks, Satan’s worst nightmare. A lawyer who sharpened his teeth on the broken contracts of his victims then put the worst scum of humanity in the smallest box he could find, locking away their evil for an eternity of self-reflection. He was the motionless might that kept her resilient to the spite of the world. He had her back.

“I am strong,” she chanted, “I am a Queen. I can take down anybody.”
“I am strong,” he chorused. “I am a King. I can take down anything.”

Seeing the light begin to shine from her eyes Rivington lowered his hand. “Attagirl,” he smiled with rarely seen authenticity. “Now, finish your coffee and go to bed. It's almost morning.”

A small sniff escaped her as a shy smile curled her lips. He stayed up to late. Tomorrow he would sleep in. She went to bed early, rising quickly. That was the ritual. They were juxtaposed in nearly every respect of their being. How they ever manage this odd sort of understanding was beyond her.

Gathering up the comforter to leave him to his dispositions, she slipped from the room. It was good to have a friend. A real, sort-of-living, sometimes-breathing friend. She should do something nice for him. Maybe she’d paint his nails while he slept. A cold, cruel black. He’d like that.
The spa, a land of dilettantes and the nouveau riche, littered its bulk across the carefully cultured domain of wild flowers and transplanted greenery. Here the famous slipped into the shadows, emerging glorious in cocoons of glittering perfection. All illusions of drugged up failures and ego caused craters to careers washed away by bubbling mineral water scented with the faint tingle of renewed life. Here the dead never died. They resurrected.

Rivington flicked the week old newsprint he idly scanned for important tidbits hidden between the lines as smooth jazz filled the interior of the Phantom One. “Looks like it’s closed,” he commented dryly while calculating stock prices and caching up on Dear Abby.

Slanting him a clearly interpretable expression, Quinn sighed. A sharply smooth turn took the sleek black car down a slender slip of a path. The full glory of autumn bloomed forth as dappled trees leaked moonlight and winter promises. The rustle of leaves against the crisp night air eased the ever present pressure of what is beyond. This is the season for the tormented soul to be at ease, Quinn thought as the car came to a gentle stop, it’s near silent engine a sleeping beast waiting for command.

Rivington lowered his paper, taking in the canyon’s sheer drop to a mortal death as it gave way to a breathtaking landscape beyond. “Huh.”

The flat expression on Quinn’s face coupled with the high hunch of her shoulders was followed swiftly by Rivington’s rapid removal from the passenger’s seat. It did not, however, stop him from grinning his Cheshire’s grin as he opened the driver’s door for the Prince. Nor did it prevent the slug to the shoulder he took; rocking comically on his heals to placate Quinn’s Toreador sensibilities.

Side by side they walked the stone path towards a building made of glass. Its cornflower trim holding up a roof thatched in fairytale fashion. The sign in the window read CLOSED despite the shadow of movement against the faint glow of interior lighting.

With all the callous cunning of the Ventrue, Rivington rolled his eyes and tilted his head as his hand swept towards the door. “Well,” he said. “You brought us here.”

"Geeze, River,” Quinn groused while tucking a lock of hair behind his ear, “let me at least admire the ambiance. It's not like I get to go to a spa much myself."  Breathing in the scent of late blooming blossoms as her eyes closed, Quinn focused on the sound of leaves, then the whirling of the wind. From there she brought to the forefront the cold hard edge of obvious sound and dismissed it, letting the low whispers of ambient surroundings take the stage. Rising with a tug of her ear, she lifted a brow while looking at the frown on Rivington’s face.

Stepping forward, the hard sound of heals cracking the stones beneath forced her to smile as faint strands of peaceful music floated on the air just beyond the glass house. The bridge work on the seventh string was masterful, an old and mournfully aware violin called memories into flight.

Rivington cocked his head as he rubbed his temple.  “You brought me to a spa to stand outside and listen to music?”

Her teeth bared as elegant claws taped on the glass in an unfinished rhythm designed to drive the fastidious lawyer subtly nuts for the rest of the night. "If I didn't you wouldn't be able to say you do something more with your night than read dusty books, would you?"

“Oh, honey,” his smile mischievous, “I have plenty to do to occupy my time.”

"Giovanni,” she said sowerly, “do not count as ether 'doable' or any sort of night time occupation I want you associated with.  It looks bad on me. I don't like looking bad. Ruins my vibe."

Rivington’s smile faltered as his eye twitched, “I told you; I'm not learning from, or associating with, the Giovanni anymore.”

Quinn’s reply was cut short by the creaking of the door. A debonair man with attractive greying and dressed well but not ostentatious, opened the portal and with a single gesture offered admittance. Quinn starred at him, his shimmer of beauty dissipating before the haunted look in his eyes that spoke to the state of his soul.

Rivington paused, his gaze sweeping over the stranger dismissively as Quinn bowed her head curiously to the well-spoken older man. He repressed his predatory sneer as the Torrie presented him. "May I introduce my compatriot, Mr. Anderson," she purred as the golden haired Harpy perfected a bow.

The stranger’s voice was rough silk over the raw edge of Quinn’s ears, cultured and just slightly foreign. "Good evening, will you have a seat?"

As the pair made their way towards the delicate confection of a table with its view upon the valley below, Rivington leaned into Quinn’s shoulder, whispering. "I think he may be a Hunter."

The scrape of the door closing grated on heightened senses while Quinn watched Rivington positioned his back to the view and mentally calculate the distance to the door. Resisting the urge to shake her head she took the seat that gave the spa owner the door at his back, letting herself drink in the delicate refinement of the porcelain tea service laid out for a nonexistent party. The distant city lights gave way to stars that refracted colored auras about the crystal decanters with their shades of wine on display. A deep, rich aroma floated from somewhere that was not the Ventrue.  The gentleman sat down and took a fragile breath.

“Can I provide refreshment?"

"I would not mind a spot,” Quinn confessed, “though it looks like you have tea rather than coffee."

"I have a fondness for coffee as well, though it's not very healthy" he chucked while reaching under a nearby cart to retrieve a thermal pitcher, and then poured a thick, dark brew into the waiting cups.

The golden haired lawyer eyed the draught with caution. "Thank you, Mr...?"

The man paused as if trying to recall a distant thing, his smile a quiet shield against Rivington’s question. "Oh! I apologize,” he said as he sat down the decanter to thrust out his hand. “Dr. Steven Osager."

"I apologize, Doctor,” the barrister returned with an icy grip, "As Quinn has mentioned I am Rivington Anderson."

"Delightful to meet you Mr. Anderson, I have heard good things about your work." The Doctor turned towards Quinn and her Madonna’s smile. "Now my dear, you wished to speak with me?"

"I did and I do. We have somethings in common and a few that we do not. However I have so much to share and yet... my caution, you understand." Her charm was not that of seduction or clever beguiling, it was the earnest and honest desperation of one reaching out for a friend, afraid of being reprimanded for it. "I don't know where to begin."

"I find,” Dr. Osager replied with the wisdom of a grandfather, “if there is a problem you need help with, explaining that may be useful."

"I...” Her eyes flickered to the reassurances of Rivington’s strong presence. His hand cupped one of her smaller ones, patting it gently in encouragement. A deep breath entered her body before she turned back to the graceful Doctor and swallowed bravely. “I have several problems but one that ... well it concerns your spa. You see…” she hesitated, lost in searching for the correct turn of phrase until the Harpy squeezed her fingers, a silent signal to press on. “You see, people come in and leave with..." Quinn searched Rivington’s unwavering gaze. Seeing no objection she locked eyes with the Doctor, a gasping confidence blurted out in innocent shyness, "Can I speak frankly Dr. Osager? Can I count on your confidence?"

The Doctor’s concern was palatable as he answered. "Of course"

Quinn took another deep breath as she gave a shaky little shiver. In conspiratorial tones she leaned forward, rapidly disclosing secrets. "They come in normal and leave changed at the biological level. Their… well, I don't know how to say it, but…it's like their blood is being altered and they don't even know it."

Dr. Osager’s eyes widened as his color drained. As faint gargle hit the back of his throat, a catch that he seemed unaware of. "At my spa?"

Her voice took on a relieved tone, grateful that he hadn’t pulled out the wooden stakes or cried logical-nonsense foul on her accusations. "Yes. Here and one other place. That other place has been informed, but Dr. Osager... this is the first place it was noticed from. At first I was afraid someone was using your health clinic to sell drugs or poison people, but... Well," she unsure how much to tell. It was a fine line that separated potential allies and breaches of the First. "I kinda didn't think so after I saw what your marvelous treatment does for people. Why would someone so dedicated to helping people stay healthy do so much damage at the genetic level? Oh I am so confused!"

“That's not possible, no one would do that to any of my guests! There are rules!" The Doctor twisted his fingers together, stress palatable as he tried to calm himself, "I am sorry we cannot talk longer Ms. Quinn, I have to look into this."

"One piece of information, Dr. Osager," Rivington said in cold courtroom tones. All eyes turned towards him as he rose, natural charisma rolling off his designer suit.

"Yes, of course.” Dr. Osager seemed to calm down, focused as he was on the glittering aquamarine of Rivington’s gaze. “What is your question?"

"We're concerned for you, and those that come to your spa. It appears that there is something being added. I'm not sure what that may be, maybe something in one of the supplements or other treatments. You are more knowledgeable of the medical field than I. Do you know of anything that could do that? "

"Not in this Spa, never. I..." The Doctor sat heavily, unable to break the hard penetration of the lawyer’s entreaty. "Some of the higher end treatments and creams, I boosted them to help with cellular rejuvenation, a little spell is all. It couldn't possibly get past the skin and into the blood, that's not how it works."

The covetous glitter in Rivington’s eye as he sat back down was not lost on Quinn as he pressed his advantage. "Is there anything that would alter cellular structure magically?"

"Oh, very likely, but not in my Spa. Never in my Spa. If there is some kind of sickness, I would be happy to help. Are you sure my guests have been effected?"

"Yes sir,” Quinn said with respectful tones. “I didn't want to think so, but I wanted to let you know..."

Even the lawyer managed to fake a sympathetic look, "Yes, we've tracked it back to your spa. In fact, the symbol for your spa appears in the protein. Anything you can think of as to why that would be?"

The doctor’s frown was deep "You tracked it here, or my guests have this...sickness? There is nothing in my spa that would affect the blood."

Rivington shrugged off the illusion of humanity as he spoke with frank curtness. "Both, it appears that people who are guests at your spa have this extra bit added. This sickness. We were hoping that you would be able to look into it."

"Of course, I will. No one who leaves my spa should be altered in any way." Dr. Osager’s small smile was sheepish. "Well, save for the aforementioned beauty creams." His gaze became pleading, "Please don't mention that my dears? It's just a bit of hedge magic, nothing harmful."

"Of course not,” Rivington reassured. “We do not want to get you in trouble. Quite the contrary. We hope to stop a problem before it gets out of hand."

"Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. Is there a way I can reach you with any results?"

The silver case slipped from the Harpy’s pocket as if appearing in his hand by charm. With a practiced movement he slid his card across the table to the mortal man. "Please do not hesitate to contact me with anything that you find. I'm assuming you already have Ms. Quinn's information as she had contacted you?"

"Sadly, she found me through intermediaries."

"Well, then. I'm sure,” the card case snapped shut, disappearing as neatly as it had appeared, “that could be remedied."

"I think we need to keep in contact, sir. I don't...” Quinn’s smile was all sweet cream and strawberry lip gloss, “well... I am afraid. My people, your people. They need protecting and someone is... Well it's just a violation, that's what it is. Anything you send to his office,” bobbing her head in Rivington’s direction, “will find its way to me. I am trying to learn law so I spend a lot of time there as it is."

"Of course my dear,” Dr. Osager agreed. “Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention."

"You are very welcome,” Rivington returned with a curl to his lips. “As I said, we're looking to stop this. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated."

"Sir,” Quinn hesitated, “Doctor Osager, please... keep in touch. I want so much to be able to trust someone in this. I have so few friends who truly understand." A hauntingly childlike expression broke a show of genuine concern. "Thank you for seeing us. I appreciate it greatly."

"A good evening to you." Rivington stood in a silent message that the meeting was now at an end. Putting his hand out for Quinn's, he waited for the last words of fairwell to echo away.

Slipping her small hand in Rivingtons well cared for one, she rose with a gentle touch of the Doctors shoulder, letting it linger with an undercurrent of comfort. "Be well, good sir."

"Of course my dear, thank you." The Doctor turned to watch them go.

As the door clicked behind them Rivington looked out upon the cool night before whispering, "Listen to see if he is on the phone or what?"

"No, River,” she teased the lawyer, knowing full well how much he hated the nickname. “He will come to us when he sees fit. We must trust. It is not just we at stake, but the memories of his past that haunt him. I see he is trying to make up for some long ago ill, something lost he cannot regain. We will help him and so have a strong foundation of understanding. He also makes a good cup of coffee, judging by the smell."

"If you say so my dear,” he returned as he opened the car door for her.

Quinn stood, biting her lip. Rivington sighed, shutting the door and leaning against the sleek auto, a glance spared for his watch. He knew she couldn’t help it any more than he could appreciate a sunrise. Looking up he raised a golden brow. He’d give her one minute. Not a second more.

Quinn turned on her heal, steps destroying the distance as she found the source of distress. Dr. Osager’s head rested on the table, shielded by his curled arms as quiet tears salted the cloth below. Her claws reached out with exquisite tenderness to lift his face. The understanding flicker of loss and things that lay beyond echoed the sorrow in his elderly gaze.

Weapons were words. Salve was a sword. Right now Dr. Osager needed to be armed against the darkness trying to claim his soul.

"I thought I knew what beautiful souls look like…” she quoted with tones that reverberated to the unknown, “until I saw yours. Broken and hurt, black with the dust of cruelty... Still... Brighter than the sun." Leaning down to place a soft kiss on his forehead, her whisper reached his ears. "When you are ready."

Rivington was waiting for her return. As she drove them off into the distance, she mused unobtrusively. "Sometimes, Rivington, sometimes I forget what it means to be human."

The cold flick of the paper was his only reply.


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C. Norton
Artist | Professional | Varied
United States
1:15 AM.

Be still, my Love.
Forever in my heart, my Love.
My Love.

  • Listening to: Silence
  • Reading: the writing on the wall
  • Watching: angels and deamons
  • Playing: DDO, EQ2, WW
  • Eating: cerial
  • Drinking: tea

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Khthonia Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Professional General Artist

Game On! Book 2 is about to end. Before Book 3 : 'With A Stick' starts, I am going to open the floor for Q&A. Ether I or the cast (including PCs and NPCs) will answer no less than 10 questions.

It's first come, first served, so send your queries to Khthonia on Deviantart or capsensislagamoprh on tumbler.
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sailormoonangel22 Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hi! I’m a contributor for #Sellers-Showcase. Thankyou for joining our group; we really appreciate it and we hope that you find it very beneficial. Please read the "Rules/Guidelines" section on our homepage before getting started, and remember that we will only accept submissions that have some indicate in the artist's comments of being for sale, or that have prints enabled. If you need any further help, feel free to note the group or leave a comment on the home page. Thanks!
xenlo1 Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2010
totally likeing the jewelry
lauzzle Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2010
haha why thanks for the :+fav: and i found this icon by searching up free icon in the DA search engine :nod:
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