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Lady Jen Black
Lady Jen Black
Posts: 96

12/27/2017
Sunday, 15 December, 1895
8:00 P.M.

A slender figure in a perfectly draped cloak stalks down Chalkery Road, leather boots clicking on the pavement as her eyes dart around. She spots a figure on the roof, half hidden in shadow. Too small to be an adult, so urchin. Doesn’t seem to be paying attention to me. She keeps an eye on the kid while she walks, just to make sure he isn’t going to throw rocks at her head or something like that. He opens a window and ducks into a home, disappearing into the building, and she relaxes a little. Just a normal urchin getting by.

She continues down the path to Baron S----n’s house, by far the most luxurious residence on the road. He could doubtless afford a more upscale neighborhood, but surrounded by his peers, he would seem to be a man of merely modest means, and his ego could never tolerate that.

The walk from Grimmauld to Chalkery isn’t a long one, even though she’s not taking the shortcuts of the roofs, and soon she finds herself at her destination. The footman at the door peers at her, mouth twisting into a sneer when he sees her bronze skin. “All the guests have arrived,” he says sharply, “and this is a respectable party. My lord didn’t hire any gypsy entertainers.”

She ignores the slur and produces an envelope from her pocket. “As a matter of fact, I was invited,” she says crisply. “Check your guestlist.”

The Dismissive Footman takes one look at the card and blanches. “Do come in, Lady Black,” he says as he opens the door, arrogance replaced by subservience, “my most sincere apologies, I assure you I meant no offense, we were not aware that you were coming --”

“Of course.” She allows him to assist her in taking off her cloak -- the man’s too nervous to be much of a threat -- and pass her off to an equally unsettled junior butler who opens the doors of the ballroom.

The guests turn to stare at the latecomer. “Is she wearing trousers? And a ponytail?” a Scandalized Debutante says in a faux whisper designed to be heard across the room. The Prim Matriarch, a grand old dame with white curls, shakes her head and sniffs.

“Lady Jennifer Black,” the butler says hastily, and closes the doors.

Jen stalks in, hunter in every line of her posture. Main doors behind me. A side door by the left wall. Probably for the servants. Windows on the right leading to the main road, left unlocked. Any one exit no more than three seconds’ sprint from any part of the room. She smirks mirthlessly as she sizes up the guests, and the Scandalized Debutante shivers when the cold green eyes land on her. Cecily Snow, 19. Threat level low. Seen her in the Flit before, sneaking out to rendezvous with the new footman. Fast on her feet but doesn’t know how to fight. Choke her with the pearls around her throat and she’ll be helpless. She shakes that last thought from her mind. Just because her brain automatically calculates the best way to take care of everyone in the vicinity doesn’t mean she has to entertain the notion.

A handsome, green-eyed devil is the first to react, instantly stepping forward with a smile on his face. Jen extends her hand, and he presses fiery lips to it for a moment, leaving a tingling warmth behind. “You look lovely, Lady Black,” he says, raking his eyes over her appreciatively. “I see my tailor did an excellent job on the coat.”

She lets out a girlish giggle, plucking behind his ear and conjuring up a scarlet rose, which she hands to him. “Thank you, Adrien.”

At that, the spell over the party is broken, and the mingling resumes. She chats more with Adrien, revelling in the attention. Many would love to enjoy an Abstraction, but they don’t know what they’re asking for. She’s got the spirifer’s fork, she maintains a room at the Brass Embassy, and she’s seen what happens to the people “freed from the burden” of their souls. Adrien knows her stand on the matter, and other than bringing it up occasionally, he accepted it. As far as connections on the infernal side of things went, he wasn’t a bad ally to have.

The dancing starts, and after a whirl with the charming young devil, her attention is claimed by Baron S---n, who insists on having the next waltz. “I knew your father growing up,” he tells her as he leads her to the dance floor.

“Really?” she asks, putting on an interested air. He’s about the age the old man would have been, if his heart had been able to take the shock of dropping into the Neath.

“Oh, yes. Black was a wild one growing up, always up to no good and managing all kinds of mischief. The lordship would have gone to his younger brother. That kid was polite and proper and he’d have managed the family estates well… only consumption got to him.” His hands are slowly moving down to where her tailored trousers cling to the shape of her derriere.

She twirls out of his grasp. If his groping hands move any lower, he’ll feel the blades strapped to her thighs or perhaps the knife hidden at the small of her back, and that would not end well. “I hope you’re not implying that Lord Black did a poor job of it.” Her tone is freezing.

“Of course not,” he corrects himself, pulling her back in. “Poor man could hardly be blamed for what happened. Anyone who knew him would have realized he couldn’t have murdered his cousin’s family, they were too close for that. And once he was out, he took charge like a proper Lord should. You too -- you do the family proud, I assure you.”

Jen sighs in a way designed to draw attention to her heaving chest. “Thank you. I do miss him.”

“You’re not what I would have expected from his daughter, mind you. No, I don’t mean that in a bad way!” He laughs heartily, still gazing below her face. The lust in his expression proves her charms are working. “But Sirius liked his blondes, you know? Not like his cousin -- that one had a thing for redheads. And then he brings you back, exotic and caramel-skinned, and declares you his heiress. Never thought an Indian would have been the mother of his kid. Wouldn’t he have worried she’d be related to his cousin?” When she doesn’t respond, he continues. “The Potters were from India, changed their name. I’m not surprised you don’t know -- the family’s gone now.”

“May they rest in peace,” she murmurs neutrally. The level of ignorance in his words makes her itch to stab him. It would be so easy to trigger the blade at her forearm and push it into his belt -- it was tight enough to stop the bleeding, so he’d only die when he disrobed -- and nobody would even realize she did it.

The dance thankfully ends, and Jen excuses herself before she can do something unwise. Caramel, really! Like she was something to be eaten, which was perhaps how the old lecher saw her. And exotic, as if she hadn’t been born in London. And assuming all Indians were related -- granted, he was partially right in this case, he just didn’t know it -- ridiculous.

The rest of the party passes by in typical boring fashion. Nobody even notices when she sneaks upstairs to do a little exploring. At least the nibbles tray is glorious. The only thing of note is the Jovial Contrarian getting into an argument with a Whiskered Admiral that leads to a heart attack on the latter’s part, bringing the evening to an early close. She heads home. There’s a long night ahead of her, and much to be done.


Monday, 16 December, 1895
3:00 A.M.

The second time Jen leaves her townhouse at Number 12 that night, a crisp wind is blowing. She draws her coat tighter around herself and adjusts her hood, leaping onto a ledge and closing her bedroom window before making her way upwards.

The roofs are quiet this time of night, the residents of the Flit asleep in their holes. She leaps soundlessly from building to building, trusting her black clothing to help her blend into the night. The gaslamps shine with a dim grey glow, illuminating the empty streets. A few candles shine from bedroom windows, but otherwise, the houses are dark. Is this what the Vake feels like, soaring above the streets and looking down on London?

Her first stop is Heorot, where the Ringbreakers rest. The rooftop they’ve chosen is only two streets away from her townhouse, in the West End of London. It’s a peculiar location -- the residents here are far more likely to chase them off than accept their help -- but in the few weeks they’ve been here, no trouble has occurred. In fact, they made it into the Gazette yesterday -- something about corralling a rogue panther.

A smile strays to her lips when she gets onto their rooftop without being hailed. For some reason, the little band of urchins always seems to have a sixth sense for her -- she can sneak up on a black cat, but she can’t go near without being noticed and invited to join them for a feast. Those few days she spent with them, and they now seemed to think of her as a guardian angel. Silly children. If anything, she was an angel of death.

The little band is all tucked into their makeshift beds, but the blonde hair of the Valkyrie is nowhere to be seen. She looks around, spotting a figure with a feather-ornamented colander on her head slumped against the chimney, snoring softly. Oh dear, the girl’s fallen asleep on her watch. Jen extracts a purse of rostygold from her pocket and sets it down beside the Valkyrie with enough force that the contents clink together. Perhaps that will serve as a warning to her -- any enemy could have snuck in and killed the Ringbreakers while their valiant leader snored. No, that’s not very fair, the girl’s clearly exhausted. But weariness was no excuse for a lack of vigilance.

The girl blinks blearily at the sound, but Jen is gone before she’s opened her eyes properly. She doesn’t want to explain why she’s out at this time of the night, doesn’t want to disillusion the Ringbreakers. They have a naive idealism about them, a deep-seated optimism in their certainty that they can make London better, and she doesn’t want it to be taken from them. Not the way it was taken from her.

She backtracks, passing her home again and heading in the opposite direction, back to Chalkery and the Baron’s house. It was funny how nobody ever suspected that Lady Black, successor of Sirius, and Lady Black, head of the Dregs gang and formidable assassin, were one and the same.

She shimmies down the drainpipe and inches her way towards the Baron's bedroom window, drawing a set of lockpicks from her sleeves and getting to work. It's cheaply made, clearly not ratwork, and opens in moments. With careful fingers she pulls the window open, thankful she oiled the hinges earlier at the party, and slips in silently.

The Baron is asleep, his droning snore filling the room. She draws her knives from the sheaths at her thighs and weighs them in her hands for a moment before climbing on the bed. He doesn't stir.

In a lightning-quick move she pounces on him. He thrashes, but she's pinned him down with her elbows and knees. “Ssh,” she whispers, jabbing a blade at his throat. “Call for help and I'll sever your vocal chords.”

His eyes stare at her in confused terror. Just by wearing a bandana over her nose and mouth, the fool doesn't recognise her.

“You've been very naughty,” she purrs once he gives up his attempt to escape. “Stealing from your business partners and sending the money to the Surface. It would perhaps have been understandable if you wanted your family to leave and enjoy a better life, but no, you were going to abandon them here. Leave them for your mistress. Oh, she might like your jewels and money, but I doubt she would bother visiting you in the Neath. And I'm going to make sure you never leave it again. Do you know that once you've met the Boatman, you can never go to the Surface again?”

The knockers-up are rousing the workers by the time Jen makes her way home across the rooftops. The blackmail material from the Baron's safe is put on her desk, waiting to be reviewed -- the client hadn't requested it, which made it fair game for her. Others had a little black book, but she maintained a whole room, full of files on everyone important in the Neath and anyone who looked like they had the potential to be important.

Her clothes are stiff with blood, and she sends them to be laundered by her assistant. Kay was a junior devil who had been assigned to aid her as a Conjurer, and who thankfully took the fact that she generally behaved more like a Murderer or Licentiate in his stride. Then she runs a bath, changes into a nightgown and collapses on her bed in exhaustion.


Monday, 16 December, 1895
12:20 P.M.

The streets are awake and bustling when Jen drags herself out of bed and into the dining room for breakfast. She idly picks up the Former London Times from the table, yawning into her coffee. FEDUCCI AND PRINCESS TO WED NEXT WEEK, the headline screams in bold black print. Oh lord, those two? A bandaged immortal from the Elder Continent who refuses to die no matter how many times she cuts him up and sends him on what should, by all rights, be a permanent trip to the Boatman? And that honey-drinking bitch who thinks the right way to express her admiration for someone is to feed them to her sister? They’d either attempt to kill each other, or else join forces to terrorize London in some sort of unholy alliance. Nothing good will come out of this.

She reads on. The guest list will include such notables as the Duchess, the Veteran Privy Counsellor, His Amused Lordship, Mr Inch, as well as the famed archaeologists Primrose Valentine and Dr Orthos. Representatives from the Bazaar -- perhaps even one of the Masters -- as well as Port Carnelian, the Foreign Office, the Khanate, Benthic, Hell and Summerset are expected to be in attendance. Rumour has it that while Mr Slowcake is unable to attend, his Amanuensis will do so in his stead, and Mr Wines’ butler Jervaise -- known to many of us for the work he does at those marvelous Revels -- will apparently be bringing his hitherto unknown wife! The performers from Mahogany Hall have been contracted to provide entertainment. Government offices will be closed that day to free employees to attend. Her Enduring Majesty has graciously declared it a public holiday, that all of London may share in the joy of the happy occasion. This will be a spectacle not to be missed.

Jen’s eyes slowly grow wide as she looks at the names. All those buildings, left tantalizingly empty. Her mind whirls with the possibilities. Perhaps something good can come out of this after all. But this is a big score, bigger than anything she’s ever planned before. This would go down in history, make her as famous as the Masters when all was said and done. Some would call her mad for considering it.

But she had spent her adolescence hearing her foster parents talk about breaking into the most secure place in the world. Everyone had said that the Ice Court was impenetrable, but they had done it. No, there was no such thing as an impossible heist. All she needed was to assemble an incredible crew who could pull it off. And she had just the people in mind…
edited by Lady Jen Black on 1/19/2018

--
Lady Jen Black - Appearance - Backstory - MBTI - Song - Portrait - RP Directory
Accepting calling cards!
+4 link
Anactoria St James
Anactoria St James
Posts: 29

12/27/2017
“Remember that pitcher you drew for me? The one wif the red bits?”

From her small chair by her small fire by her small fireplace Anactoria nods.

“I figure I owes you a sumpin’ for that.”

Almost, Anactoria answers, ‘That’s not really necessary.” But this is London in the Neath and she is new here and she quickly figured out that she can use all the help she can get. “Go on then."

“Well there’s this Lady is puttin’ togever a 'job', an’ I mentioned to her as you’d be a good un to help wif that.”

Anactoria regards her Urchin friend impassively, waiting.

“It’ud be good pay.

“An’, um …” the girl begins to fidget under the silent, but intense scrutiny. “An’ it would be doin’ a good turn for my frien’s—an’ your frien’s—wif the Fisher-Kings on account of some of the spoils is goin’ be distributed to us—and other Urchins, too.”

“Why would the Lady want to employee me? I’m no thief.”

“Well, you’re always readin’ us those Robbing Hood stories, an’ there’s the time you walloped the Kidsman, so you’re good in a fight, an’ Mina could fly around and spy stuff out, an’ you move about the Flit as good as any longshanks, an’ the Scuttrin’ Squad is right devoted to you after you convinced them Tigers not to eat ‘em all up—they would help, an’ your brover’s--”

“Half-brother,” Anactoria interrupts, with dangerously narrowed eyes.

“An’ your Af-brover’s got nothin’ to do with this!” the Urchin quickly winds up.

Anactoria’s stomach rubbles. ‘Convincing’ the Tigers used up nearly her entire pantry. Food is important … and getting food takes money … and getting money means getting work. “Alright, I’ll talk to the Lady.”

--
Roleplaying social actions are welcomed.
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Anactoria%20St%20James
+3 link
Docteur
Docteur
Posts: 101

12/27/2017
Adjusting a mirror on a rooftop, surrounded by a few awestruck urchins, Viric seemed totally focused. His concentration broke only when another orphan came out of a window and onto the roof.

"Oy guv', r'member the lady you ask'd to keep an eye on?"

The cloaked man turned and fixed his gaze on the child. Against the dark backdrop of the Neath, only the two green dots seemed to appear.

"Yes, Lady Black. What about her?"

"You wer' right wif thinkin' she was havin' a "double-life" of sort." The urchin struggled when recalling the words used by Viric. "She's no normal lady."

"And what have you found out to say that with such confidence?"

"She's prep'p'in' a job of some sort. Recru'tin' a crew. Want to steal some things."

The slender figure in the hood indicated the orphan to come closer. His eyes seem glowing with a playful light. While the boy approached, Viric sat down and started writing. Letters in moss-coloured ink flowed gracefully from a fountain pen.

"I will join your crew and share the spoils with you. I have many questions for you, and this job seems like the perfect opportunity to ask them. I am sure my skills will satisfy your needs.
My name is probably foreign to you, as we have not met yet. Just ask an urchin about Viric. Eventually, your answer will come to me."

Now, that's a gamble. Let's hope it works. He folded the letter and slipped it in a small envelope, before giving it to the urchin.
"Bring it to her."

--
The Viric Voice! A beautiful instrument.
Docteur - And so it ends.
+2 link
Lady Karnstein
Lady Karnstein
Posts: 128

12/27/2017
Countess Caroline Karnstein of Styria glided through her Labrys like a shark hunting in familiar waters. Noblewomen mingled with music-hall singers, some women held hands while others talked about their husbands. Some few were not even known to be women until they were older; here they could be themselves. But overall, it was a room where women who were artists, writers, poets, and singers mingled with each other and lovers of all the above. Caroline had built it after much hard work. Her emerald green eyes watched as the tea dance finished, and the ladies moved to sit. She curtsied to Lady Sapho Byron, her partner on her turns on the floor, and moved to introduce her protégée, Šárka Vlasáková. Šárka has a dark beauty, but all eyes are really on Caroline. Even those who never dance or hold hands with their sisters and speak fondly of their husbands tend to harbor secret fantasies of Caroline. When Šárka finished discussing “Four Willows Weeping” and Sapho has read a popular passage from “Phantom of Sin”, Caroline steps up to read from “Eventide Drear.” Every eye was upon her, breath held with anticipation. “Staccato steps I take only with hesitation, for fear and hope, both so much, that she will be there. Watching me.”

After she spoke and the music died down, Caroline smiled to the women who surrounded her. While some left alone, others in twos and threes, some remained to compete for her attention. But Caroline did not need company that night. Hand were kissed and smiles smiled. Caroline’s smile was in many dreams that night.

* * *

Caroline Karnstein sat in her den, a room in which she had done much writing, within a dream. All the rooms in her suite in the Royal Bethlehem flowed and ebbed like a house in a dreamscape, and normally this served the pale woman well. But tonight, as she sipped her imported surface wine, something felt off. Sharp green eyes looked up, where her painting of Mary Shelley usually hung. Instead, a young, brown haired girl looked imploringly at the viewer with large, nervous blue eyes. She was sitting, nude, on a sumptuous bed. “Annabelle!” The pale woman snarled. The painting was intruding again, having appeared in the room with its mistress. “There is nothing more I can do!” She rose, and stormed from the room as the painting, unmoving and not unusual save the quality, regarded the room with apparent trepidation.

The mazelike rooms of the suite shifted and changed, a night colored dreamscape. But dreams can turn against the dreamer, and while normally they served their mistress well, leading guests to her whether they wanted to find her or not, tonight they did not seem to want Caroline to leave. Eventually, she found her balcony, and climbed over it, climbing down the side of the Royal Bethlehem on her belly. When she landed, she walked calmly to her carriage, opened the door and climbed in, and it moved out into the night.

* * *

The Singing Mandrake was full of heartbeats. A cacophony, like classical concert. Together, they created a melody, a pulse of lives within the room. Some beat faster than others, but all made a song Caroline would never want to escape. But one, from an auburn haired woman at a table watching her, beat very fast indeed.

Violet Rosemary was new to the Neath. Having followed her family down she found herself bored in the Singing Mandrake on a busy night. It was full of all sorts of people but it felt so superficial. She sighed, gazing about with ennui until she laid eyes on a woman entering the room. As the pale lady stepped in, the music and laughter seemed to fade, even as her surroundings in the room faded away. They were only two things that was real right then: She and the pale green eyed apparition in the door. In the dark void that surrounded them, this perfect beauty glided in, scanned the room and made eye contact. Violet felt chills run down her spine. Those two green gems surrounded a pool of unending darkness, and she felt herself drawn in by the inexorable tide. However hard she swam, she was pulled slowly, inevitably, to the center, where she would go down forever. The woman was close now, they were face to face. Not close enough.

“Good Evening. My name is Lady Caroline Karnstein. What’s yours?” The voice was a purr that sounded like every accent and none of them. Everything desirable and forbidden about foreigners. It was low, but the resonance was feminine. What was her name? A color. A weight sat on her chest. She could not speak. A curious, cocking of the head “Are you alright?”

“Violet” Her voice came from somewhere deep in her throat.

“Well, pleased to meet you Violet. I could use some company tonight, and it is very busy here. Would you ride with me.” What a beautiful smile. When she saw it, she knew Angels were as real as Devils.

“Yes.”

“Best tell your friends then. I will wait outside.”

From all around Violet, the voices slowly returned. She was in public. The Mandrake. It was Friday, and the woman was going outside. But she had a task. She had to tell her friends, then escape.

* * *

Caroline Karnstein walked out of the Mandrake, pausing to enjoy the night air. Many people, many heartbeats walk by. One she heard approach her from behind. She caught his scent on the wind, but did not recognize it. As he drew closer she expected him to speak.

Regardless, she felt a pain, and looked down to see a sword sticking out of her chest. She heard a triumphant laugh. It faded when she turned around.

Sharp, angry green eyes latched onto his as she pulled out the sword. She glared at the man, an unworthy former husband of a Labrys regular. He stammered an oath, and began to run. She dropped the weapon to the ground disdainfully with a clatter and a low feline growl that traveled with the wind. Then she was in front of him, as if an apparition, lifting him over her head by his face one handed and hurling him into a brick wall with a horrible snapping sound. Then in a flash she was on him, picking him up and throwing him again. He never saw her coming, just always there to throw him once more. Pain and death took him after the fourth time, the last thing he heard before the waters around the boat being the crunching of his own bones, and sound of bricks splitting from impact.

* * *

Violet walked out and found Caroline there, shadows clinging to her like nervous children. The concealed her energy in the darkness outside the Mandrake. “Ready to go, my dear?” Caroline asked with a purr noticeably hungrier than that inside and a gesture to the black carriage.

“Actually we need to talk, I have a business proposition” A voice from the shadows, Caroline turned, as did Violet.

“No need to worry Countess, I only need a moment of your time.”

“Wait in the Carriage my dear, I promise I will be right there.” Violet turned, and without a word walked over to the beautiful carriage. The door opened apparently by itself and she went in.

“Now, what did you want to discuss?” Her purr low, dangerous but not threatening. “ I am not having a very good night.”
edited by Lady Karnstein on 12/28/2017

--
Lady Caroline Karnstein, infamous writer, artist, and courtesan. Unrepentant Invert.
Legendary Charisma, Correspondent, Nocturnal. Poet Laureate of the Neath
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Caroline%20Karnstein
+4 link
Aberrant Eremite
Aberrant Eremite
Posts: 312

12/27/2017
A smoky taproom in Takepenny Lane. A wiry youth in a Navy greatcoat is chatting in low tones with a pretty blonde woman. The youth whispers something in the blonde's ear, and she laughs. On the other side of the youth is a broad-shouldered man, bald, wearing an elderly but well-maintained tweed suit. He clears his throat discreetly as a burly Zailor approaches, glowering.

The youth turns to face the Zailor. His - no, her face is clearly feminine. She returns his glare.

“Step aside, Miss,” growls the Zailor. “That’s my woman you’re talking to.”

Telemachia Lee regards him coolly. “Really? Maybe she belongs to herself.” She cuts her eyes over to the woman. Who says nothing. Sits expressionless.

“You’re lucky that I was raised properly,” says the Zailor. “My Mam taught me never to strike a woman. But -”

Lee interrupts him. “I get it. I have the same problem myself.” She steps up, shrugging off her peacoat. Her man Butler catches it and folds it neatly over his shoulder. She’s tall for a woman, and broad-shouldered, and she’s wearing a man’s suit to boot. However, the suit has been tailored to fit her curves. “But guess what?” she continues, curling her fingers into a fist. “I have the solution to your little problem right here.”

Then she hits him, a solid overhand right to the jaw that sends him sprawling across a nearby table. The patrons protest as their drinks fly in all directions.

The Zailor gets to his feet, shaking his head. “Oh, that’s done it,” he says.

“Good,” Lee replies. She has adopted a balanced stance, feet shoulder-width apart, hands in front of her at shoulder level. The outermost hand rotates palm up, and the first two fingers make a beckoning gesture. Come and have a go, if you think you’re hard enough.

The Zailor is a hard man. Life at Zee is difficult and demanding. His fists are big and stony and feared by his shipmates. But few Zailors are skilled in the martial sciences. His punches are clumsy, obvious, unbalanced. Lee steps out of the way or knocks them aside, and counters with power and precision.

Five minutes is not a long time under most circumstances. In a fist fight, it is. The Zailor’s face is swollen and puffy, his movements slow and arthritic. Lee is breathing loudly, favoring her left leg, and developing a black eye. But she’s smiling.

The wearying Zailor throws a feeble punch, much too slow. Lee, grinning like a demon, grabs his wrist and elbow, immobilizing him in an armbar. From this position she could easily wreck those joints - but that wouldn’t go over well in a workingman’s bar. Instead, she uses the arm as a lever, and smashes his face into the wall. Again and again, the wall shaking and creaking, as his face leaves a series of bloody stamps on its rough wood. Until the Zailor mumbles something, holding up a hand in a gesture of surrender. Lee drops him to the floor, where he lies, barely moving, blood pooling under his mouth and nose.

Lee offers him a hand. “No shame,” she said briskly, “That was a hell of a beating you stood up to. Come on, stand up.” He begins to reach for her hand, when -

“Get away from him, you b----!” Lee is shoved unexpectedly from behind. She staggers, recovers, whirls around to see her assailant -

The blonde. She crouches next to the Zailor, cradling his face in her lap, and croons reassuringly to him.

Lee looks down at the pair of them. Her hand drops from her revolver. “What the bl---- d--------?” she asks indignantly. The woman doesn’t speak, doesn't stop soothing the fallen Zailor. She looks daggers at Lee. Lee shakes her head slowly. “...yeah. Okay. I see how it is.” She takes a deep breath, then swaggers back to the bar.


Back at the bar, Butler is chatting with the bartender. The bartender smiles and nods at something he says. Lee slides onto the stool next to Butler. Without a word, the bartender hands her a tall cup of gin. She takes a swig, grimaces, and nods her thanks. Butler hands her a cigar, then lights it for her. She puffs it and grins at him. She turns around to survey the room, and the two men continue their conversation. They appear to be getting along famously. Lee tries not to feel sour about it.

But the Wheel turns. Buoyed by a couple of pints of gin, Lee is in good spirits again when a second woman approaches her. A brunette, pretty in a languid sort of way, and quite flirtatious. After half an hour of low talk, she takes Lee by the hand and the two of them head for the door. Lee gives a significant nod to Butler, who returns it.

In the alley by the bar, Lee pulls the other woman close for a kiss. “Come with me,” the brunette urges her. “I can show you things you’ve never experienced before.”

“A tempting offer from a lovely lady,” Lee replies gallantly. Her fingers trace the woman’s neck, finding the ridged tissue of a broad scar.“There’s only one problem.”

With the loud clack of a hammer being pulled back, a pistol-barrel appears between them, pressed to the bottom of the brunette’s jaw. “You’re a bl---- candle-eater, aren’t you?”

The woman’s eyes go wide, and she stammers a denial. Lee’s blunt forefinger punches through the scar tissue on the woman’s neck and sinks in. No blood comes forth. Lee feels a half-inch gap and then … a second skin.

“There have been an awful lot of Jack-of-Smiles attacks in Takepenny Lane recently,” Lee remarks. “Funny how, with all the blood, nobody paid any attention to how many of the victims had been flayed. Particularly their hands and faces. Not Jack’s usual style. But it is yours, isn’t it?”

The denials fade under Lee’s cold gaze. “Very well,” she - it - confesses sullenly. “I am a Cousin. What you call a Snuffer. But I haven’t stabbed or flayed anyone. Please,” she begs, “don’t take me to the Ministry. They’ll kill me regardless of my guilt, and I won’t come back from it.”

“Hm,” Lee muses. “I could take you to the Bishop. But he doesn’t pay as well.”

“That’s scarcely better,” the Snuffer replies sullenly.

“Best offer you’ll get from me. And you’d need to make it worth my while.”

“I don’t have much. A handful of jade is all.”

“Mm. Too bad.”

“But I know things! Secrets!”

“Oh yeah? How -” Lee was distracted from the haggling by the sound of angry voices behind her. She listens … ever since she tasted the blood of the Vake, her hearing has seemed sharper. She can hear Butler arguing with two men. They want to cut through the alley that Lee is currently standing in. But keeping the alley clear is Butler’s job. By the way their voices bounce off the wall, Lee can hear that the men are standing on the left side of the alley’s entrance. If they keep talking, she thinks, she might be able to pinpoint exactly where each of them is - even target them by sound alone. An intriguing thought -

Pain explodes in the side of her head. Her revolver goes off. She falls, lashing out with the gun-barrel to keep her attacker from closing, but she can tell by the echo of footsteps that the Snuffer is running away.

Lee is back up in an instant, kneeling, yelling at Butler to hold your position, damn it!, pistol pointed at the middle of the Snuffer’s back. If some clairvoyant entity could have read her mind at that moment, it would have seemed almost completely blank. The barrel of the pistol, and the target, and nothing more.

Before Lee can squeeze the trigger, the target goes down, suddenly, in a snarling, growling, thrashing heap. By the time Lee arrives, the Snuffer has been subdued, lying prone on its back, with the jaws of a great grey wolfhound at its throat. Half of its stolen face has been blown off by Lee’s revolver, but the face beneath is uninjured. It glowers at her in insectile resentment.

“So,” remarks Lee dryly, “Department of Menace Eradication it is, then.”

“No,” the Snuffer replies sullenly. “I have secrets. I will tell you.”


The vergers at St. Fiacre’s cathedral can’t shut the doors on Lee fast enough. She jingles a small purse ruefully.

“How much did you get, Mum?” Butler asks.

“Half what the Department would have given me,” she grumbles, “and vague promises of future assistance from the Church.”

“That could be very useful, if you want that Editor’s position,” Butler ventures.

Lee takes a battered cigar from her pocket and sticks it between her teeth. “There’s no street credibility in editing the Bible.”

Butler lights it for her. “There are other kinds of credibility which would be useful, Mum.” He allows the mildest note of reproach into his voice.

Lee merely grunts in reply.

“It was most ingenious, how you lured the creature out of hiding, using yourself as bait. Quite a daring plan, but it paid off.”

Lee laughs sharply. “That wasn’t the plan, Butler. It’s just what happened.” In reply to his questioning look, she adds, “remember what Daddy used to say?" She pitches her voice low, and her accent becomes crisply and unmistakably upper-class. "‘I have found that in war, plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.’”

Butler smiles. “Ah, yes. Of course.”

Lee’s cool grey eyes soften. “You’re all I have left of him, you know.”

“Yes, Miss,” he replies. “And, if you’ll permit me the liberty?” She nods. “The same is true for me.”

They stand in silence for a moment, looking out at the city together. Lee’s reverie is broken by a cold wet nose poking into her hand. “Ah! And my other henchman demands recognition!” she exclaims. “Good boy, Fido!” She rubs the wolfhound’s head roughly and feeds it a rat.

“Well. Come on, you two,” she says. “The night is still young. If we had nights down here. Maybe the third time will be the charm, eh?”

“Ah, I meant to tell you, Mum. There was a young lady looking for you. A matter of business, she said.”

“Oh, yeah? Was she pretty?”

“I’m sure I couldn’t say.”

“Meaning yes.” Butler’s words hadn’t given anything away, but his tone had.

“I took the liberty of arranging a meeting, Mum. You shall be able to see for yourself.”

--
Hieronymus Drake: Gentleman scholar, big-game hunter, scar-faced aristocrat. Remarkably sane, all things considered.
Tanith Wyrmwood: Longshanks cat-burglar; Bohemian author; now, perhaps, something more. Bubbly, expressive, and affectionate. It’s not only still waters that run deep.
Telemachia Lee: Gentle lady by birth, brawling Docker by choice. Good company in the drunk tank.
+4 link
shylarah
shylarah
Posts: 152

12/27/2017
The probably-not-snow lay thick on the Flit, with paths marked by the prints of boots and a few sections where more enterprising fellows had taken a shovel to it. It piled in drifts by chimneys, and mounded high where it was pushed out of the way. The wind whistling across the rooftops bit deep, and she pulled her coat a little tighter about her shoulders, and flexed her fingers to make sure her hands were warm enough to respond properly. Her gloves had holes by the pads of each finger, so she could stick them through for more delicate work, but they were still nicely warm. Cold hands grew stiff, and lost their cleverness. "I'm ready when you lot are," she said to those clustered around. Most were urchins or Raggedy Men, gathered for the spectacle, but the news had spread by the usual channels. A knot of rats clung to the nearby chimneys, and she saw the finer clothes that marked streetsiders mixed in among the desperately worn attire of those who were native to the Flit. Her grin stretched wider. They'd write stories about this, she was sure.

The sparse remains of a bloomer bunting flapped forlornly overhead. She'd put them up all over the Flit during the election season, nicking brassieres and various other smallclothes to string up during her duties as an agitator. It had been quite the gay effect for a while, though some people made such a fuss about it, and most undergarments were eventually reclaimed either by their proper owners or by individuals who were not overly picky in where they acquired their vestments. A few yet remained even after she'd stopped trying to keep the buntings full, the articles too embarrassing to be retrieved for one reason or another. There was at least one piece of lingerie that she thought terribly creative, though she wasn't certain how precisely one went about wearing it. Another, tight bloomers with impressively floral ruffles and a highly suggestive buttoned pannel that accomodated a rather masculine bulge in the garment, had been willingly offered by her favorite aunt. The sharp-minded woman loved jokes as much as she did herself, and had designed and embroidered them herself specifically for the purpose. There was a reason that aunt was her favorite.

"Th' rope's all strung, so's ya don't hafta touch ground bringin' it back." A rosy-cheeked boy from the Fisherkings gave her a gap-toothed smile. "An' I'mma make good money when you don't touch ground neither." She laughed at that.

"Quite right! I've no intention of climbing all the way down and back up; where's the fun in that?"

"Wotcher, Nikki. Oi, erryone back, clear the ramp!" He lifted his voice and the handful of urchins she'd picked for the purpose went about herding the onlookers out of her way. She went over the ramp herself with a good brush, clearing clumps of dirty snow left by the tramping feet and bits of debris, and making sure there was nothing to slow her down.

And then it was an easy spring up to the seat, a nod and a grin to the child holding it in place for her, and quick word to the crowd. She put her weight to the pedals, picking up speed as she went down the initial slope. The people blurred by, cheering and shouting encouragement or insults (depending on how they'd bet), but her fever-bright eyes never strayed from the path before her. By the time she came to the ramp, she was fairly flying along, and when the end of the ramp came, she flew for real. The velocipede leaped into the air like a bird taking flight, and she let out a whoop of pure glee. The spire of St. Fiacre's rose before her, growing swiftly closer and swiftly shorter. Her aim was very slightly off, it seemed. She was heading dead at it, instead of a bit to the side so as to land on the main roof. She'd never have managed to land atop the spire itself -- even that odd girl a few years back, the one who could glide over impossible jumps, hadn't managed to hit more than four fifths of the way up.

Nikki was going to be considerably further down, more like halfway or maybe two thirds. But she could still land it, if she timed it just right. Her perception of time slowed down, stretching out, and she could feel each individual beat of her heart. God d__n, but this was glorious! She gathered her feet under her, preparing to leap from the velocipede and grab one of the many outcroppings produced by the intricate carvings.

Only she wasn't going to hit a spot with carvings to grab. With a cacophonous crash, woman and velocipede smashed through the rose window and tumbled to the tiled floor amid a tinkling waterfall of shattered glass. She had time to worry over the fate of her ride as she fell -- she hoped it wouldn't need too much repair! And then she struck the floor, and had time only to get a vague impression of frightened clergy and the stunned face of the Bishop of Southwark as he turned away from his conversation with the Bishop of St. Fiacre's. Then darkness.

---

She returned from her jaunt down the silent river with nary a dent in her high spirits. What fun it had been! Not the boat ride, of course -- the Boatman was not a particularly vocal fellow, and his company ceased to be interesting long before he let her leave. And he had a poor view of her creative chess tactics, to boot. No, the jump attempt was the fun part. "Worth it~" she laughed to herself, looking about her lodgings with a grin. To her surprise, there was a little note tucked into the cuff of her sleeve, and upon reading it, her grin grew even wider. A daring heist, hitting a dozen different targets? It would be a shame to miss the wedding -- but a chance like this, such things simply did not come along so often that she could pass it up. She could already feel the blood-pumping thrum of the adrenaline in her veins.

"Why yes, I do think this calls for a slight change in plans...."

The designated time could not arrive quickly enough.
edited by shylarah on 12/27/2017

--
Lady of Cold Steel, Lady of the Flit, Lady Alyssana Grey. A formidable woman, hard to read and slow to trust. Darkness lurks inside her.

Alts: (please direct all inquiries to Alys & say who they're for)
-Nikki, the Playful Daredevil, leading the constables on merry chases across London at every available opportunity. It's not a good robbery if you didn't get chased~
-Shylarah, waifish, wide-eyed, painfully foreign, entirely untamed. Her search for a way home now leads her to Parabola. There's something about her...
-Dr. Maxwell Thomas, a kindhearted physician who can't stand to see suffering. Moral to a fault, even to his own detriment. Unlucky in love.
I would rather be taken for a fool than deny aid where it is needed.
-Angie, the Cheeky Sharpshooter. Got her start with the Regiment and proudly operated their cannon for years. Rowdy, rough, and among the best shots in London.
+6 link
Hubris Glamore
Hubris Glamore
Posts: 47

12/28/2017
Another busy morning. It wasn’t yet noon and mercenary butler, Hubris Glamore had already called upon 4 seperate clients.


Thankfully, most of them had been little trouble and had been crossed off on his little black book without (unexpected) incident.


First was one of the bigger tasks. Ensure that a Rakish Bridegroom and his groomsmen made to the chapel both on time and in a presentable state. Being hired by a Contemptuous Great Aunt and noting that the husband to be was both a member of the Young Stags and a former Stoat, he had some idea of what to expect. To this end, he had arrived at the crack of dawn, bringing with him his shaving kit, a liberal amount of coffee, 4 spare suits and the accompaniment of a Nervous Tailor who owed him a favour.


It wasn’t quite as bad as he’d expected. Only 3 of the spare suits were required and the young men were mostly responsive after the coffee and very responsive after being gently reminded that should they not be at the church on time, he may require a thesaurus in order to full comprehend the diatribe his great aunt would surely have in store.


Shaved, dressed, no longer reeking of alcohol and as sober as they were likely to get, he ushered them into the waiting coach, with only a quick word to the maids about the sort of product they might need to get the honey stains out of the ceiling.


Second was brief and easy. Pleasant even. A brief stop to cook for a Soft Hearted Widow. Once a fortnight, for a chat over breakfast. No charge for this particular service. It was a repayment of sorts for past kindness. Indeed, he was sure to slip a little something into the sturdy collection tin near the door as he left.


Third, more sombre. An altogether less social call on a different widow, this one only very recently fitting that description, in order to make sure a funeral ran smoothly. Largely without incident, although he did have to discreetly take a pair of cousins into the next room at one point in order to explain that if they did not save their bickering over who deserved to get their uncle’s collection of antique toys for another time. Preferably a time in which their bereaved aunt did not have to hear it, lest he be forced to remove them from the premises one way or another and would be certain to ensure that the rest of the family knew about it, which would not be a good look now, would it?


Which brings us to the now. Job number 4. Chaperoning a Shrinking Debutante to tea with a prospective suitor. It had all been going so well, but the carriage driver was either new, a plant or an idiot, for he’d taken a shortcut through a less than savoury area more suited to the Velocipede Squad than a society belle.


The carriage slowed to a halt and looking from the window, Mr. Glamore noted a handful of individuals skulking from the sidestreets to surround the coach and frowned, turning his attention to his ward. “Madam, I’m afraid there may be about to some unpleasantness. I’m going to politely ask these locals to let us pass. However there’s a very real chance I may have to become...ungentlemanly with them.” He smiled warmly in an attempt to reassure her. “Everything is under control. I assure you.”


Leaning out the window to get a good look at the half dozen ladies and gents of likely nefarious intent, he smiled. “Hello boys and girls. Some of you I believe I recognise. I do hope you recognise me, because this will go much, much easier if you do.”


Recognition dawned on at least two of the would-be highwaymen, who appeared to be doing some hasty recalculations, so he continued. “My name is Hubris Glamore. While on other occasions I have performed services for ...” And here he chose his words carefully, given his present company. “Men of Business, I am currently engaged in chaperoning this young lady. So I am afraid that if you intend to relieve her of her valuables, then you will in fact be forced to go through me.” A pause. “Unless of course you, being fine upstanding citizens noticed that our coach seemed to be lost and you are here to helpfully offer directions”


The two footpads for whom recognition had dawned seized the lifeline that had been offered with earnest. “Yes sir, civic minded individuals us.” Offered one. “That’s right.” The other chimed in. “We saw your fancy coach and thought to ourselves, oo-wee, better get them toffs outta here quick smart, on account of how a lotta carriages come through here tend to get robbed.”


“Thank you very much. I suspect the two of you will go far in your chosen field. Driver, get us out of here immediately. It’s 11:42 and the young lady is due to arrive at noon. It will not do to be late.”


And there it should have ended. If not for the fact that the other four thieves, led by one braggart in particular, did not understand why this coach was being let through. A glance passed between Glamore to the two more knowledgable thieves, carrying apologies, exasperation and resignation all at once. He sighed, removed his hat and jacket and set them on the seat. “Do excuse me one moment madam. This won’t take long.”


And indeed it did not. Two thieves who immediately rushed the butler were each rendered unconscious by the head of the other being guided swiftly into their own by gloved hands, the third found that swinging a knife is not a particularly viable strategy if your wrist is broken by the end of the swing and finally the loudmouthed braggart was encouraged to spend some time holding his tongue via the subtle influence of a slightly collapsed windpipe.


Immediate concerns dealt with, the butler returned to the coach, hastening the driver onwards and with private relief, just making the scheduled time of noon.


Some time later, after seeing the young lady safely back home and returning to his office for a short lunch between commissions, the sound of the doorbell would herald the arrival of a woman he’d served once or twice before.


Lady Jen Black, with the offer of a profitable bit of work. Come to the west end tonight she said, and everything would be explained.


And so he would. He’d also bring tea. It always made going over details a little more pleasant.


But before that, he had a little time. Drawing from his pocket the other little list from which he took “clients”, albeit unlike the clients of his public work, all of these were served in a very singular fashion. Making his way upstairs to the little room where he kept copious notes, he exchanged his white gloves for a pair of heavier black ones. “Just enough time for one or two housecalls I think.” He murmured, plotting a course that led him to the West end.


A good butler is always discreet.


Accordingly, while he arrived at the Black Estate in the early evening, ready to hear the Lady’s offer and drink tea, he’d made a couple of pitstops along the way. No one saw him enter and no one saw him leave. But nevertheless, several hours later, a body was discovered in each residence, killed by some unseen assailant.


A good butler is always discreet.

  • edited by Hubris Glamore on 12/28/2017

    --
    Hubris Glamore is an ambitious gentleman with entirely more schemes than is healthy.

    Happy to entertain all manner of interactions and has a fondness for roleplaying.

    http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Hubris%20Glamore
  • +4 link
    Canvas Blank
    Canvas Blank
    Posts: 27

    12/28/2017
    Come on, come on...! Where is it!?"

    As the Constables close in on the archive and their shouts grow louder, sweat covers his forehead. Panicked rushing through papers can be heard between the loud opening and closing of file cabinets. An abundance of footsteps and cusswords flood the hallways outside; His heart beats like thunder.

    What is this pattern?! It's not even alphabetical! Let's see, F, G, B... Baker, Black, Bennett, Baxter... Yes! Blank!”

    His expression quickly shifts as he hears someone fiddling with the lock on the other side of the door. He desperately looks around the room for an idea, but the door is suddenly kicked open and the room is filled with the light of the Constable's lantern; In a second, his arms are raised and he's surrounded by a dozen uniforms and rifles.

    “Gentlemen! Gentlemen! What's with all this hostility? Don't I have the right to--”

    “Quiet, scoundrel!" The Constable interrupts him. “I don't want to hear a word out of you 'til we reach Newgate!”

    At a whisper of his partner, the Constable takes note to the vial Canvas is clenching on to in his raised hand.

    “What's that now? Put that down, immediately!”

    He shrugs - “If you insist.” He closes his eyes, turns his head and drops the violet-tinted vial. With the shattering of the glass, a flash of Irrigo fills the room. The Constables are dazed and disoriented; He uses this small window of opportunity to bolt outside and lock the door behind him with the keys that were still dangling from the lock. “Maybe now you will have the time to organize your paperwork!” he yells angrily as he runs for the first open window and takes off onto the rooftops, with his file still folded neatly in his pocket.

    ---

    When he is confident that he's safe and sound from the Constables' eyes, he leans against a chimney to catch his breath. "Once again... Too close.” he mutters.

    “I saw that, you know." Says a deep voice from behind.

    “Oh, lovely. What fresh new Hell is this?”

    A black cat appears from the shadows, it's yellow piercing eyes locked on Canvas.

    “You can handle yourself pretty well, that much is apparent. Now, they say there is a rather secretive group forming in London... One that could certainly appreciate your skills. If, of course, you're looking to make use of them.” It says, licking it's paw.

    "Well, I'm sure they're doing a great job maintaining a low profile, considering there's an alley cat telling me about them.” He snaps back.

    “..."

    “You know what I meant.”

    The cat walks the ledge of the roof. “Lady Jen Black is the name you'll be looking for.” It says with a purr, before silently landing on a balcony below.

    Jen Black... why does that sound familiar? Oh, of course!”

    The thought sticks with him until morning as he makes his way home from the rooftops. “I could certainly learn a thing or two from them... And some profit on the side wouldn't hurt. It wouldn't hurt at all. Am I really doing this? I always did prefer to rely on my own eyes and ears...” Not long after the return to his lodgings, a certain zee-bat is zipping through London bearing a message assigned to Jen Black.
    edited by Canvas Blank on 1/2/2018

    --
    Canvas Blank, The Nostalgic Investigator - A private investigator, a Wilmot's End regular and a rising pawn, with an insatiable sense of sentimentality towards the Surface. Why don't you leave a card?
    ~(Very active, RP always encouraged and appreciated!)
    +2 link
    The Cosmopolitan
    The Cosmopolitan
    Posts: 31

    12/28/2017
    The Cosmopolitan choked as the smoke cleared. By God! What a waste. They scowled as they picked up the now twisted Correspondence Plaques and tossed them aside. That had been a close one, just a few more minutes and the text would have been translated, revealing...well…only the Masters know what, probably. The damage wasn’t too great, just a few smutty tracts stolen from downstairs for kindling, mercifully burnt up.
    A soft coughing sounded from the direction of the door and Cosmo turned around, their frown now twisted into a genial smile.
    ‘Professor, I...ah...sorry…’
    ‘My apologies, Sir, no harm done, I assure you.’
    ‘It’s just...the customers...they…’
    Cosmo’s smile broadened, showing more teeth. ‘No harm done.’
    ‘Yes…very good...sorry...for disturbing you…’
    He skulked off. Curse the miserable old git, thought the Cosmopolitan. They fully intended to move out, permanently, but the old rooms above the bookshop did make for some neat little reading rooms. The privacy here far surpassed that of the townhouse down Bloomsbury way, or what was Bloomsbury. Apart from that d__ned owner, shuffling about disturbing Cosmo’s well deserved peace.
    They checked themselves in the mirror. What was left of their eyebrows had now disintegrated, they noted as they shook the soot out of their hair. Soon, they mused, they would be losing their hair in these… ah… accidents. How very wretched, they were already going grey before their time. They coughed again as the ashes floated down through the air. Why bother giving up smoking? Just because darling Zahra, rest her soul, had objected to it; well if she could see her husband now, inhaling much less pleasurable vapour, she wouldn’t have minded too terribly. They had lapsed recently, but just last week, after swearing they had had their last taste of tobacco, the Wry Functionary had gifted Cosmo a particularly fine box of cigars. D__n him.

    *****

    ‘From those texts that have been translated, the language of Correspondence displays an almost scientific precision with the language of emotion, the likes of which I have not seen in any other language that I have studied.’ Rows of eyes gazed at Cosmo as they dictated their research. ‘And from this evidence, what can be inferred is that the Correspondence carries with it a different philosophy different to our own, in which feeling can be quantified. Whether this philosophy is as calculating as that of Adam Smith’s Homo economicus or a reflection of the natural beauty of mathematics and science is the subject of some debate in the community of Correspondence scholars. I will go into these arguments in further detail in my next lecture. Until then, you are dismissed.’ A wave of babble and the sound of shuffling descended on the room. Cosmo piled up their papers contentedly before interrupting the chatter with ‘Don’t forget your essays on the Fourth City are due in on Friday.’
    ‘Now I think that went rather well.’ Cosmo turned to see an old friend, yes they supposed, friend was the right word, the Philomathmetician.
    ‘Ah, Doctor I thought I might see you here.’
    ‘Why I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Although, I have to say I know an economist or two who might have something to say about that Adam Smith remark.’
    ‘Why? What was wrong with it?’
    ‘Adam Smith didn’t come up with the term ‘Homo economicus’.’
    ‘Is that all? Surely it doesn’t matter, considering he wrote extensively about the theory. Please come into my office.’
    They had been walking through Benthic’s corridors. Cosmo now opened the door to their office; the Philomathmetician let out a low whistle. Cosmo laughed. ‘Nice, isn’t it? One of the perks of promotion. That and a better chance of having your work published, better pay, your own secretary-’
    ‘By which you mean mistress.’
    Cosmo rolled their eyes. ‘Now, Phil, don’t be ridiculous.’
    ‘I’m not: it’s no secret that about half of Benthic’s professors are somehow involved with their assistants.’
    ‘Not me,’ Cosmo said decidedly. ‘Is this why you’re so desperate for promotion?’
    Phil laughed out loud. ‘Good God, how do you expect me to answer that?’
    ‘Honestly, maybe? Now that would be a change. Would you care for a glass of something.’
    ‘Isn’t it a bit early?’
    ‘How now? Restrained? This is most unlike you.’
    ‘Oh please, the Greyfields isn’t worth it-’
    ‘Greyfields? Heavens no! Whisky, rather fine whisky at that.’
    ‘Then, of course.’
    Cosmo smiled and stood up and walked over to the cabinet behind their solid oak desk. They produced a decanter and two glasses and, sweeping a mess of papers aside, set them down. They looked back at Phil, he looked concerned.
    ‘You’re limping.’
    Cosmo chuckles. ‘Oh that’s nothing, if only you could see the stab wound in my shoulder.’
    ‘By God, Professor! I do hope you’re joking!’
    ‘Perhaps I am. Dear me, look at your face, you don’t need to worry about me. I’m fine, look at me. There was a fight, if you must know. No, don’t look at me like that, the man was a fiend. I mean, really, Byron’s imagery, banal, he said!’
    ‘You got into a fight about Byron?’
    ‘No, John Locke, the Byron comment was just incidental. His real sin was disparaging Locke as far as I’m concerned, but really ‘banal’. When it became clear that he couldn’t match me in a battle of wits, it came to blows.’
    ‘And he matched you there?’
    ‘Of course not,’ Cosmo smirked. Their companion shook his head.
    ‘You must take better care of yourself. I’ve noticed your eyebrows are missing again, and you’ve burnt a hole in your shirt.’
    ‘It’s nothing, but you think I need to see a doctor. Is that what you’re saying.’
    He shrugged ‘“Physician, heal thyself” as far as I’m concerned. But it’s your reputation I’m concerned about. You really don’t think people don’t know about these things? Your like...like… Cassio!’
    ‘Cassio?’
    ‘Yes, from Othello. Please say you’ve read Othello.’
    ‘Of course I’ve read Othello, I’m just surprised, that’s all. People just don’t seem to read Shakespeare these days.’
    ‘The thing is you’re brilliant, I’m sure of it. Bookish, scholarly, but...stupid, in the sense that you seem to have very little interest in self-preservation. One of these days, you’ll do something that will get you killed, or... or exiled-’
    ‘Don’t you think I already have? I’ve come back from it; I’m fine. I honestly don’t care about the rumours that follow me.’
    Phil shook his head again. ‘You can’t keep going like that.’ The pair sat in awkward silence for a while. The quiet was rather mercilessly broken by a knock on the door: the afforementioned secretary.
    ‘Professor, there’s a Lady Black here to see you?’
    ‘Lady...? Yes, er, send her in.’ Now there was a name Cosmo wasn’t expecting to hear. ‘Phil, erm, if you please… sorry…’
    ‘No, I’m sorry. Say, this book of Pushkin, proscribed isn’t it?’
    ‘Yes, what of it?’
    ‘Nothing, it’s just...I’m sure I saw a similar volume in the Palace library… a coincidence I’m sure…’
    ‘Absolutely. Curious, that.’
    Phil followed the secretary out. If only he hadn’t noticed that book; it had been stolen. Cosmo groaned, they really must be more careful in the future. They removed their glasses and rubbed the bridge of their nose. Perhaps Phil had a point about remaining respectable, but Lady Black’s name was one that would surely jeopardise any effort to do so. Cassio indeed! “Reputation! Reputation! Iago, I have lost my reputation!”

    --
    Available for mutually beneficial SAs and RP.

    Cosmo (Evelyn Beck)-Scholar of diverse interests. And dubious means.
    Claudia-Jean Clarke Young, with a diplomat's charm. A rising figure in the Game.
    +3 link
    Slyblue
    Slyblue
    Posts: 199

    12/29/2017
    "This is the Envy model. Look at the mechanism. Like nothing you've seen, ain't it?”

    If anybody notices that men have been disappearing from Medusa's taproom, in pairs of two or three, if anyone heard the shrieking over the rooftops, that night when all the weasels disappeared from the shack— it wasn't Michael. He left those things behind the night before, swearing under his breath, only to find himself perched on a rookery's lattice with two skeptical urchins. They stare back at him with squinting eyes, and a look that needs no words.
    Get on wi' it, longshanks.

    Footsteps. An extra step. Hitched breaths as someone runs away from Wolfstack's lights. The screeching sound of a velocipede off its hinges, much like its owner. Silence.

    Silence.

    “Know why?”

    The footsteps become a blurred cacophony of desperation as the Constables' whistles fade into the distance. Closer now. He can almost hear the jiggling purse, but needs to keep his mind focused on the spot right before his eyes. And closer still. Someone is carrying a message-- that much he knows. A message that doesn't want to be found, once protected by two lumbering men and a speeding hansom. Gone now.
    But the message remains, and its sole bearer has found herself running into the familiar alleys, hoping to escape the law. And escape she would. He would make sure of it.

    “It was made in a year that'll never come.”

    A drawn breath. A short, opportunistic breeze. And just like that she fell into a crumbled pile of grasping hands and kicking legs, eyes facing the starless sky. Her last sight that of two skeptical urchins closing in on her as something – a third person? A fifth hand? She would never know – rummages through her pockets, taking but a few seconds to find the folded letter hid underneath her collarbone.
    She is gone before Michael can climb down to help. Storm willing, she would wake up and find herself back at home. If the urchins could be bothered to carry her that far.

    “I swear. A year that'll never come.”

    The message itself is nothing special, even though a few weasels seem keen on nibbling its burnt edges. Rumors of vague plans in estimated locations. A poor likeness, drawn in coal, of a woman whose actual name is unknown, but – as an entire paragraph speculates-- she is one to keep an eye for, if things are to remain as they are. Michael can't help but chuckle, turning over the worn sheet of paper to make sure that, yes, the message is as vague and misleading as he expected it to be.

    When he glances over his shoulder, the excitement in his tourmaline eyes is matched only by the lamp's light reflecting on his rifle's barrel.

    “Looks like yer gettin' famous, Nicdubh.”
    edited by Slyblue on 12/29/2017

    --
    The Smiling Violinist The Curt Licentiate The Dreamless Truth-Seeker

    "For hearts of truest mettle, absence doth join and Time doth settle."
    +1 link
    shylarah
    shylarah
    Posts: 152

    12/29/2017
    ((Ack! I clicked a link because my fingers slipped on this stupid mouse, and I think I reported one of the posts here! I have no idea whose, and no idea if it went through, but I'm so sorry! Please forgive me if anyone gets additional CP of Scandal or Suspicion. I'm sure mine's about to go up a level or two....))
    edited by shylarah on 12/29/2017

    --
    Lady of Cold Steel, Lady of the Flit, Lady Alyssana Grey. A formidable woman, hard to read and slow to trust. Darkness lurks inside her.

    Alts: (please direct all inquiries to Alys & say who they're for)
    -Nikki, the Playful Daredevil, leading the constables on merry chases across London at every available opportunity. It's not a good robbery if you didn't get chased~
    -Shylarah, waifish, wide-eyed, painfully foreign, entirely untamed. Her search for a way home now leads her to Parabola. There's something about her...
    -Dr. Maxwell Thomas, a kindhearted physician who can't stand to see suffering. Moral to a fault, even to his own detriment. Unlucky in love.
    I would rather be taken for a fool than deny aid where it is needed.
    -Angie, the Cheeky Sharpshooter. Got her start with the Regiment and proudly operated their cannon for years. Rowdy, rough, and among the best shots in London.
    0 link
    Tanner Price
    Tanner Price
    Posts: 30

    1/2/2018
    "And so I said to that circus barker, 'If I wanted to see shocking sights unlike anything London has ever seen, I'd have propositioned your sister!'"

    The cluster of tuxedoed gentlemen around Tanner burst into laughter, one of them doubling over and spilling his champagne on the polished hardwood floor. Another white-bearded fellow throws his arm around Tanner's shoulder, tipsy from the revelry, and leans on him for support to regain his breath.

    "Good Lord!" the man heaves. "If I'd had brass like that in my youth I might've supplied half the Orchestra!"

    "It's too bad you invested in railroads rather than the delicatessen, because you have quite the rye wit!"

    "Oh stop!"

    With a few chuckles, Tanner helps straighten the bearded parrot on his shoulder back to his feet. "If you'll excuse me, gentlemen," Tanner nods with a grin and takes his leave with a glass of rich dessert wine in hand. The Ambassador's party is winding down, and most of London's ruling class are stumbling into coaches on their way out the door. As the tired young socialite hunts for the nibbles tray, a rock hard palm clasps him on the shoulder. When Tanner turns around, he is surprised the sturdy grip did not belong to a Clay Man. His face lights up in raucous, somewhat inebriated playfulness, and he proceeds to greet his associate.

    "Bosun Jack! In all my summer nights I never dreamed to see you at such an event. And in a three-piece suit, no less! What giant did you have to kill to find clothes big enough to fit you?"

    The hulking deckhand turns up his lips in an ugly smile and shakes the much smaller man's hand. "You're not looking half bad yourself, Captain," his deep voice rumbles. "How that wine is still in your glass and not on your shirt is no less than the work of God!"

    The young captain laughs once again. "Well tell Him to keep at it! I'm not finished drinking yet!" He downs the rest of his glass in a few unrestrained gulps and earns a small hoot of praise from the bosun. Tanner sets the empty wine glass down on the table just barely light enough to not break it. "How'd you get invited to this party anyway? I wouldn't expect to see your name on the Ambassador's guest list."

    "What are you selling me short for? I've got charisma oozing out my skin!"

    "I take it back, Jack. On second thought, your name was probably at the top of the list."

    They both smile with the teasing but respectful fraternity seldom found elsewhere but the docks. "Actually, the Ambassador doesn't know I'm here. I snuck in through the back."

    "You?! Snea--"

    "Listen. I'm not here for no reason, Captain. Word is that Jen Black is plotting something BIG, and she's asking for you, personally."

    Tanner's smile falls and his posture immediately sobers up. "Jen Black, huh?" he asks, seemingly to himself. "I haven't seen her in a while. As fond of her as I am, if she's on the prowl again, that can only mean trouble. Did you hear any details?"

    "Only that she's gathering a crew at her townhouse. Whatever it is, it's happening soon."

    Tanner straightens up his purple Surface-Silk shirt and adopts a serious expression, the pleasantly drunk social butterfly nowhere to be found. "Thank you for the news, Jack. It's best I don't keep her waiting." With a solemn nod of goodbyes which the bosun returns, Tanner retrieves his coat from a thin, balding butler and makes his way out the front door. Any plan of hers is going to be complicated, Tanner thinks while climbing surefootedly into a coach. I've got a lot of work to do.

    --
    Captain Tanner Price: Legendary Charisma [SEEKING PROTEGES]; esteemed pirate and social butterfly; raised by the girls of Mr Wines.
    +3 link
    Lady Jen Black
    Lady Jen Black
    Posts: 96

    1/3/2018
    Sunday, 21 December, 1895
    6:15 P.M.


    Jen looks up from her desk when she hears a tapping at her window and blows on the damp ink. She doesn’t like writing things down unless absolutely necessary. It’s always been safer to keep everything in her head and only relay information verbally. Handwriting is too easily recognized. But with this new typewriter -- courtesy of her Bohemian connections -- that problem has been solved.

    She pushes aside the curtain and sees a sulking bat tapping against the glass. “Sorry, little one,” she says as she opens it, and the furry little fellow enters and flaps around her head in irritation, a piece of paper attached to its leg. With gentle hands she removes it and reads the message. Well. That is interesting.

    An hour before the guests are due to arrive, she starts getting ready. A vanity chest is a good place to hide her poisons. Arsenic for the complexion, not that she could do much to make herself deathly pale. It's fatal in large doses, but if many small ones are taken over time, the body would develop a dependency and not taking it would result in death. Belladonna is used to dilate pupils -- not that she's ever had an issue with unattractive eyes -- and causes hallucinations, confusion, and memory issues, among other things.

    Of course, she won’t use them on herself. Beeswax and soot on her lashes. Black lining her eyelids. Carmine on her cheeks and lips. A sleeveless black dress like nothing she's ever seen before, which Adrien assures her is the latest in infernal fashion. She steps back and looks at herself. It looks like something for the bedroom, cut low to expose her back and with a high slit that shows off long, toned legs. Something designed to elicit lust and unthinking desire. Something to delight and distract and addle the minds of anyone attracted to the female gender. Perfect.

    She heads downstairs and looks around the drawing room. The butler has done an excellent job with the setup. And with helping her with the… other arrangements, too. She wants all the people here to feel safe. So there are bright areas and shadows, places to be seen and places to hide. Hard chairs, soft couches, plush carpets, and plenty of room for those who want to stand. And from any one place in the room, the nearest exit is no more than five seconds’ sprint away. She considered making it harder to leave, but if she's going to be working with them, they need to feel comfortable here. The vases have been removed, along with all other highly breakable items -- the chandelier is crystal, but she can’t think of a way that anyone could accidentally shatter that. Hopefully.

    At the appointed time, the doorbell rings and she goes to open it. A smile comes to her face when she sees her guest. “Welcome to the Black family home. This way, please -- Mr Glamore will lead you to the drawing room to enjoy some refreshments.”
    edited by Lady Jen Black on 1/19/2018

    --
    Lady Jen Black - Appearance - Backstory - MBTI - Song - Portrait - RP Directory
    Accepting calling cards!
    +2 link
    Anactoria St James
    Anactoria St James
    Posts: 29

    1/3/2018
    "Thank you, Lady Black."

    The Lady reminds Anactoria St James of a stiletto her half-brother once showed her: beautiful, slender, quick ... and deadly. 'And she's damn near unsheathed,' Anactoria thinks as she blushes at the amount of skin she sees. She follows Mr Glamore to the drawing room after the thankfully brief exchange.

    Anactoria selects one of the hard chairs and declines the refreshments. No longer confronted by a half-naked hostess she exudes, externally, a cool composure remarkable for someone so young. Her glance is basalt-hard and her well-fitted, if a tad frayed, woman's riding suit and her lightly held cane, which is almost certainly more than its surficial appearance, lend to her an air of quiet confidence. Only her cute-as-a-button-ness detracts from her gravitas, and that but slightly.

    Interior matters are completely different. Those who surround her are presumably hardened criminals, or at least hardened in the use of violence and power. What did her Urchin friend, Lucy, tell Lady Black that made her think she—Anactoria—was on par with these people? Feeling out of her depth, she takes a deep breath—in and out—settling herself. Somewhat. Her eyes slowly take in all the others. Who are the most approachable? Who are the most dangerous? Who is most likely to see through her exterior calm?

    Aside from his height, Mr Glamore is unremarkable; indeed, unlike everyone else in the room ('Save for myself,' she thinks ... 'And Mr Blank,' she amends), he seems normal. She likes him.

    Anactoria can't make much of the Cosmopolitan, other than that she ... or he ... (she can't even guess what sex the person is!) looks tired. Also she or he seems a bit withdrawn.

    Mr Blank looks robust and friendly and alert. His air of rumpledness makes him seem approachable. She like him, too.

    Lady Karnstein is ... Anactoria struggles for the right word ... enchanting! For a moment she imagines that the lady is one of those beautiful, dangerous daoine sìth come to life out of the faerie tales that filled her youth. As she scans the room, she keep returning to Lady Karnstein. When the midnight-haired woman catches her looking and smiles knowingly, Anactoria blushes and glances away. She doesn't look at Lady Karnstein again.

    Michael see knows and not being completely among strangers makes her a little more comfortable. She nods a 'Hello' in his direction.

    Anactoria is used to being the most athletic woman in any group, but Miss Lee undoubtedly has her trumped on that score. Anactoria is impressed and jealous. That the other woman wears men's clothing is not shocking--it's not unheard of in London and Anactoria has done it herself--but that she has had them tailor made and that she wears her hair so short does take Anactoria aback. Miss Lee looks dangerous. Like Lady Black, there's an arrogance about her that is distasteful.

    Viric looks like a theatre magician ... a theatre magician with very, very strange eyes. He makes her uneasy.

    The Fisher-Kings, full of so very much admiration, have recently told Anactoria all about Nikki's jump (with a Velocipede!) through the rose window of St Fiarce's. Anactoria didn't believe it at first, but when she went by the church the window was shattered. Nikki is clearly very brave, but also very foolish ... and she's also so cheerful! Anactoria wishes she could walk over and introduce herself ... but with this many serious, impressive people around she can't.

    Mr Price is handsome, strong, healthy, and entirely masculine. He's the type who's smooth and charming and witty and flattering and completely insincere in conversation. He reminds Anactoria too much of Donatien. She doesn't trust him at all.

    --
    Roleplaying social actions are welcomed.
    http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Anactoria%20St%20James
    +3 link
    shylarah
    shylarah
    Posts: 152

    1/3/2018
    "I'm just saying, Celebrated or not, I'm pretty sure he should have stayed home." Nikki chatted amicably with her fellow Longshanks as she deftly jemmied the window open. She wasn't worried at all about being seen. The very worst that might happen was a quick chase for a few blocks, or she could show her embossed invitation and net a laugh or two at the stymmied face of the unfortunate Constable. Probably the latter -- she didn't wish to be late, after all!

    A gentle snick meant success, followed by the whisper of the window pushed up its track, and then she slid through the gap. She landed easily on the floor and turned to watch Mike follow suit. Nikki skipped her habit of casing every room. The lure of an impending adventure was too tempting to waste time, and besides it would be terribly impolite to rob the lass who'd invited her to be part of such a scheme. Plenty of time for that on a different day -- and plenty of targets far more appealing than this. She paused only to close and lock the window and then shuffle her boots mostly dry on the carpeting before heading out into the hallway.

    There she encountered Lady Jen's butler -- or rather, possibly her current butler, possibly a member of the crew, possibly both. Nikki had gotten herself a good look at the proprietor of Silk Solutions once, simply because it was such a cleverly novel idea, and while he was unremarkable in appearance that didn't exactly mean he was unidentifiable. She greeted him by name and offered her invitation with a cheeky flourish, then allowed him to escort her and Mike to drawing room with only the slightest hint of skip in her step.

    They were not the first to arrive, but they would not be the last either. She occupied herself in idle conversation with Mike as she waited, too excited to sit down properly. She'd worn her usual, opting for slacks so as to avoid the worst of the cold. She'd let Mr. Glamore take her outerwear already, and the room was warm enough from the fire to be comfy. Nikki let her gaze wander around the room as she waited. Lady Jen had chosen an outfit that was revealing even by Devilish and Bohemian standards -- Nikki quite approved, actually, and she thought perhaps she should look into having one made herself.

    The young lady in the equestrian's outfit had an adorable face, though she seemed a little intimidated by the rest. Nikki gave her a bright smile and a wave, and resolved to talk to her as soon as she had the chance.

    The impossibly pale woman Nikki recognized as Lady Karnstein, a notable figure in Veilgarden. Interesting to find her here, but then a gorgeous woman could be an excellent asset, and she was famously (or infamously) charming no matter who her audience.

    She thought she'd seen the tall fellow with the flappy jacket about the Flit, and the blonde with the singed eyebrows had the sort of air that made her think of academics, aided by their distracted-professor attire, ink-stained fingers, and glasses. The young lady in the tailored suit she recognized as someone who frequented the same circles as Max and Angie. She had some masculine L-name that she used, and a first name that was even more giggle-worthy than "Hieronymus" -- not that Nikki had said that to him more than once or twice.

    The beardless gentleman with the fashionable attire was handsome enough to warrant a long, appreciative look. The last chap, the tall one with the viric eyes, was not particularly good looking, but his eyes were fascinating, and Nikki wondered what he'd done that they'd turned such a striking color, or if perhaps he'd been born with them. She'd have to ask.

    The room itself was well-appointed, though there was a conspicuous lack of statuary, vases, and other breakables. She wondered briefly if that was a quiet comment on the end of her recent escapade, but the chandelier overhead suggested otherwise. That, or it was just too hard to remove the chandelier. If it /was/ because someone had decided that Nikki was a hazard to any and all breakable objects, then they either didn't understand the nature of breaking things, or they didn't have a very high opinion of her skills. Most likely it was completely unrelated, and a few minutes later the thought had been forgotten entirely.

    --
    Lady of Cold Steel, Lady of the Flit, Lady Alyssana Grey. A formidable woman, hard to read and slow to trust. Darkness lurks inside her.

    Alts: (please direct all inquiries to Alys & say who they're for)
    -Nikki, the Playful Daredevil, leading the constables on merry chases across London at every available opportunity. It's not a good robbery if you didn't get chased~
    -Shylarah, waifish, wide-eyed, painfully foreign, entirely untamed. Her search for a way home now leads her to Parabola. There's something about her...
    -Dr. Maxwell Thomas, a kindhearted physician who can't stand to see suffering. Moral to a fault, even to his own detriment. Unlucky in love.
    I would rather be taken for a fool than deny aid where it is needed.
    -Angie, the Cheeky Sharpshooter. Got her start with the Regiment and proudly operated their cannon for years. Rowdy, rough, and among the best shots in London.
    +3 link
    Aberrant Eremite
    Aberrant Eremite
    Posts: 312

    1/3/2018
    Telemachia Lee stares up at Lady Black’s townhouse. The doors and windows are all in the same places as they were the last time she reconnoitered the place. She leans back into her niche in the shadowed alley, lights a cigar, and waits.

    Five minutes later, she hears a man walking quietly up the alley behind her. She recognizes Butler’s tread and the smell of his cologne. It’s unique, made to his specifications by a reliable parfumier. When she had realized how much of his salary he had been spending on it, she had arranged to do a few favors for some of the artisan's friends. She hasn’t told Butler, although he has surely guessed why the parfumier suddenly offered him a generous discount.

    When he gets closer, Butler steps more loudly. He doesn’t want to startle her. He hasn’t realized yet just how much better her hearing has become recently. “Nothing, Mum,” he reports. He doesn’t literally mean nothing. Of course there are Constables. This is an expensive neighborhood - it would be suspicious if there weren’t. Of course there are bats, and weasels, and the occasional green flash from any reflective surface, and a few people who seem to be very slow newspaper readers. But there are none of the telltale signs of a trap ready to spring. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t one, of course, but at least Ulysses Lee’s daughter won’t be caught by an obvious trap. Fido, trotting into the alley a couple of minutes later, whuffs his confirmation. The wolfhound doesn’t speak, but he’s a smart dog. Smarter than most people.

    “You two wait outside. You know the backup plan. We are unlikely to need it.” Lee reaches into the pocket of her bridge coat and pulls out a black bottle. She stares at it for a moment, hesitating, remembering the look of concern in Caroline’s eyes … but this is not the moment for hesitation. She takes a swig from the bottle, tasting the medicinal tang of strange herbs and the coppery richness of blood. She feels the fire in her veins, she hears the walls around her echoing a million sounds of the city, she can smell every one of the forty-plus ingredients of Butler’s cologne. “I’m ready.”



    At the door, Lee is greeted by a most welcome sight - Jen Black’s legs. She gives them the attention they deserve before turning her eyes to her hostess’s face. “Black,” she says, nodding a greeting. She shrugs off her coat and nods to the butler. He looks like a capable man, and must surely be trusted if he is in attendance tonight. A man to be treated with respect, then, but a butler on duty does not like to draw attention to himself.

    Underneath the coat, Lee is wearing her newest suit: a severe black tailcoat - Lee finds the new fashion for tuxedos distastefully informal - in Thirsty Bombazine. She has only just had time to have a waistcoat made from the bolt of Puzzle-Damask that Mr. Sacks left her. Since this is a formal social event, she carries only a few weapons. A derringer. Her trusty brass knuckles. An ordinary-looking belt reinforced with steel cable, and fitted with a weighted buckle. A couple of knives - that goes without saying.

    Lee swaggers into the meeting room. This will be a challenge - and a risk - and that’s what she lives for.

    Some of the guests she knows. More than she had expected. She greets them with her usual respectful-but-wary nod.

    “Blank.” The man in the rumpled suit seems trustworthy, and has already proved his value as a scout. She’s concerned about his nerve, but he’s worth bucking up. And she’s promised to watch his back.

    “Price.” The pirate seems like Blank’s opposite - flashy, daring, and unscrupulous. He’ll be useful, and amusing to have around. Whether he can be trusted is another question.

    “Wyatt. Barrows.” The Longshanks contingent. She’s seen them around, friends of friends. Everyone has heard of Wyatt’s recent exploits. She ought to be fun to work with. Cute, too. Of course, there’s a chance that she might ruin a delicate operation by taking one risk too many, but then some people probably think the same about Lee. She hadn’t known Barrows’s name until Blank had filled her in. The boy wasn’t much to look at, but snipers are an odd breed. It’s a knack - either you have it or you don’t. Lee doesn’t. She can’t sit still and shoot at the same time.

    “…Caroline.” This is unanticipated. She didn’t expect to see Caroline here. She doesn’t know what to think, or how to greet her. But that’s why she had a stiff drink before she walked into the townhouse. She doesn’t need to think. She bows - a deep, formal bow - and kisses Caroline’s hand. It’s a courtly gesture, quite old-fashioned, perfectly performed, and entirely at odds with the rest of her manner. It might draw some curious glances. But then, people have been looking oddly at Lee her whole life.

    The others she hasn’t met formally. She sizes them up.

    The scholar: She knows a few Benthic professors. She mostly likes them, but she wouldn’t bring one with her on a heist. What is this one doing here?

    The magician: Suspicious. The snakes are trouble, and so are their friends.

    The girl: Young, fit, nervous but determined. She looks eager and brave and ... Lee feels a sharp pang of emotion in her chest. She wonders … from the way she’s looking … then Lady Karnstein looks back at the girl and she looks away, blushing. Lee knows that feeling: Lady Karnstein does that to a lot of women. That answers her question. Of course, if Caroline is Lee’s competition, then the odds are very much against her. But Lee has never let that stop her before.

    If she did, she wouldn't be here. Something is going to go wrong, she's certain. But she's confident that she can handle it. This may be an odd team, but she won't let them down.

    She will, of course, make fun of them. Some of them are pretty much begging for it.

    --
    Hieronymus Drake: Gentleman scholar, big-game hunter, scar-faced aristocrat. Remarkably sane, all things considered.
    Tanith Wyrmwood: Longshanks cat-burglar; Bohemian author; now, perhaps, something more. Bubbly, expressive, and affectionate. It’s not only still waters that run deep.
    Telemachia Lee: Gentle lady by birth, brawling Docker by choice. Good company in the drunk tank.
    +5 link
    Slyblue
    Slyblue
    Posts: 199

    1/3/2018
    Michael is unusually quiet as he follows Nikki and Hubris into the drawing room. There is no wind inside the house – only stale air and the sound of footsteps on plush carpets. An occasional murmur. It makes him feel uncomfortably aware of his surroundings, even as he makes amicable conversation with his fellow longshanks, and keeps his hands from straying too far away from his shouldered rifle. He'd waved the butler away moments before, insisting he would rather keep his navy coat on, and he's starting to regret it: It fits him like a stretched glove, emphasizing the constricting feeling of his hard-soled shoes and gloved hands.
    There's something strange in the room, and he can't quite put it into words. He considers, briefly, suggesting that they should stay close to the exit, before remembering who he's talking with and, more importantly, who hosted the curious gathering.

    Well, 'Curious' was one way to describe it. He recognizes almost every face in the room, and can't help but linger on some of them. Whatever the original plan was, it seemed to have attracted an...interesting gathering.

    Anactoria is the first in his line of sight. Calm as a windless sea, or pretending really hard to be. He raises an eyebrow at her greeting, with a look that requires no words, but makes a point of remaining on her even after she turns away. She reminds him of simpler times, barefoot nights spent racing across the rooftops without a care in the world, and bedtime stories told in hushed whispers. He wonders if she knows what she's gotten into, but looks away in time to push that questions away from his thoughts. Anactoria could take care of herself.
    Still, her presence makes him consider putting his rifle away, or at least lowering it to a more approachable position.

    Seeing Canvas makes him reconsider. The sharp exhale through his teeth piques the curiosity of a well-hidden weasel inside his sleeve, but he's quick to usher it back to its hiding place. Canvas' involvement is not surprising. Not unexpected either. He would remember those words if he ever had to –Storm forbid-- make small conversation with that man. They were the only nice things he could say about the Dunbonnet.

    Rather than souring his own mood for the rest of the night (An impossibly easy task), his glance follows Anactoria's to the other side of the room. He doesn't know who the impeccably dressed woman is. He does know that he would be hard-pressed to recognize her: there's something about her – Her poise, her presence, the space she occupies in the room irrespective of her real size -- that makes the eye slide away.
    But he's reasonably certain that he's the only one who would ever feel that way.

    Compared to her, the scholar is refreshingly familiar. Benthic's reputation precedes them, and he knows at least someone in the room will know what they're doing. Whether that would be enough, however, he could only guess.

    Out of the corner of his eye, he spies...what was the name again? 'Lee'? Telemachia Lee, right. How strange, to have missed her presence until now. According to rumors, she was worth her weight in bounty money and blood – among other things. But they were only that. Rumors. He only knows one thing for certain: most people agreed that her heart was in the right place, and that's all that matters to him.

    There is a man he doesn't recognize, although he feels he should. A seaman, that much he can tell, but he carries himself like something more. Or something less – he can't say for sure from this distance.

    At the end of it all, there's Nicdubh herself – the Daughter Of Black – whose voice cuts through his thoughts like a dagger. He's not sure what he was expecting, having only seen her in far more practical outfits and less formal occasions, but the amount of exposed skin keeps him from thinking too much about it. It reminds him of a little fortress, physical parallels aside, that covered just enough to hide one's true self. Maybe it was her soul. Maybe, it was that bit that made her herself and not anybody else.

    --
    The Smiling Violinist The Curt Licentiate The Dreamless Truth-Seeker

    "For hearts of truest mettle, absence doth join and Time doth settle."
    +4 link
    Lady Karnstein
    Lady Karnstein
    Posts: 128

    1/4/2018
    A black, silent carriage pulls up outside. The door opens and an equally silent woman, clad in a purple evening gown with rose designs, one at each shoulder, glides out. She gazes up at the house, her face a serene pale moon surrounded by a sea of darkness, then drifts to the front door. The silence is rudely shattered by a knock, which would jar an observer simply by being a presence of sound, and Caroline Karnstein is let inside.

    Her green eyes do widen, slightly, at the sight of her hostess, and that languid, heart taking smile crosses her lips. “Good Evening.” She allows her gaze to linger, a compliment to her hostess’s choice, and glides to a seat at a leisurely pace.

    She sits, and feels Anactoria’s gaze. As much as she loves the rustle of skirts moving, she does like women in more masculine clothes. She smiles, lazily, to the other girl, who turns away. Her dangerous emeralds remain a moment, and she too moves her gaze.

    She then smiles to Nikki, a cheerful sprite she had before heard the name of as she enters. A wave to everyone? Caroline liked this girl already. She hoped this would lead to less posturing as the evening went on.

    She glances at the men. She had met Blank before. A nod to him, polite and not unfriendly. He was very professional in their last meeting. And that…large…man, a stranger. She tried to place the face. Not someone she knew, but he had the semeanor of a proud servant. Caroline may have been born to Nobility but she was always a bit too wise to just ignore the help. And on a heist, ignoring the help is likely what he is counting on.

    She is interrupted by Lee’s arrival, and immediately feels slightly safer. Her smile at the impressive woman is quite fond and quite warm, and less predatory than some before. She allows her hand to be kissed and gives her a friendly nod.

    Her gaze then moves back, this time to Barrows, another more rugged looking fellow. Her smile remains in place. Then to the Zailor. Not really a surprise there, but pretty as they go.

    Finally the Academic. Not what she expected to see, but then one usually does not expect to see an unabashed bohemian at a gathering like this either. She studied them several moments before her gaze moved away.

    Caroline smoothed her skirts and settled into her seat. Her attitude not haughty but rather curious and languid. At the very least, she would not be bored.
    edited by Lady Karnstein on 1/4/2018

    --
    Lady Caroline Karnstein, infamous writer, artist, and courtesan. Unrepentant Invert.
    Legendary Charisma, Correspondent, Nocturnal. Poet Laureate of the Neath
    http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Caroline%20Karnstein
    +4 link
    Canvas Blank
    Canvas Blank
    Posts: 27

    1/4/2018
    He walks the luxurious and thus rather unfamiliar neighborhood with an address in his hand. Noticing the large Black residence causes him to let out a long whistle; He knew Lady Black isn't short on the Echo, but this was more than he expected. This contributed to his sense of nervousness as he walked up to the door, a bit underdressed for the occasion, wearing nothing more than the usual leather overcoat. A doorbell rings.

    “Hello, Je-- Yeesh! You look... Stunning! As always!-- I mean!

    Caught off guard by Lady Black's risqué appearance, his face turns red and he barely manages to blabber out a greeting. He soon finds his way into the meeting room with the others, where he instantly recognizes some of the more friendly faces.

    Noting Lee's presence is a relief; He's glad to have someone he can truly trust, but also that someone shares his opinion on tuxedos. He greets her with a polite, firm handshake, during which he eagerly scans the rest of the room:

    Caroline...” They have met once before, under somewhat similar circumstances of much smaller proportions. She can handle herself well enough when it comes to keeping to the shadows and her alertness will surely come in handy, especially if someone uninvited decides to make an appearance.

    Anactoria St James... Isn't she a bit young for all this?” He thinks to himself. Despite her being the youngest in the room, he can see in her eyes that she didn't come here for a quick buck - She means business. While such beaming determination is admirable, it's little to build trust off of.

    And next to her, that must be Mr. Glamore. A name he has only heard of because of his involvement in the Great Game. The amount of strangers is worrying, considering that he's putting his own safety in their hands, but it only takes one glance to the fireplace for him to change his opinion; He would much rather put his life in the hands of strangers than in the hands of...

    Michael d____n Barrows. Lovely.It's a name he knew all too much about. Remembering the conversation at Caligula's makes his blood quietly boil. When he unintentionally catches his eye, he greets him with a cold, dead stare and nothing more. This is probably the first and last time he will be glad to see that Barrows brought his rifle.

    Is that the Wyatt girl?He finds her oddly charming - A breath of fresh air, a respite from the usual long and serious faces of London. Perhaps she isn't taking this seriously enough. Perhaps everyone else is taking this too seriously. “Her attitude will either bring us all together or get us all killed.”


    There's the academic fellow... Dr. Beck, was it?An unexpected participant. He knows of them from back when he was involved with the Benthic College. The party could certainly use his brains, having him on deck is a good idea. He is relieved knowing that they won't have to rely on Barrows and his weasels for smarts.

    “There he is, Mr. Fashionably Late!He laughs as he greets Tanner. He considers him to be reliable; Someone who's skills will greatly benefit the party and someone who doesn't take himself too seriously. While they might not have a long history together, Canvas took a liking to him from the day he heard about his to generosity towards the London's outcasts. Let's just hope that there won't be any need to unsheathe that Cutlass any time soon.

    Somewhat reassured by identifying everyone in the room, he takes a seat in one of the chairs. He is glad that he isn't diving into this with a bunch of complete strangers - Hopefully, by the end, they will be something more than just that.

    --
    Canvas Blank, The Nostalgic Investigator - A private investigator, a Wilmot's End regular and a rising pawn, with an insatiable sense of sentimentality towards the Surface. Why don't you leave a card?
    ~(Very active, RP always encouraged and appreciated!)
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    Hubris Glamore
    Hubris Glamore
    Posts: 47

    1/4/2018
    "And so it begins." The butler mused to himself as the guests begin to arrive and largely without exception he set about taking their coats, taking them through to the drawing room and offering refreshments. Small talk could wait until the scheme had begun in earnest. For now he played the role of the faithful butler, with little said bar his polite greetings and offers of tea, coffee or water, all the while putting together in his a note or two about each of the Lady's guests.

    "Miss St James." She was young. Visibly put off by Black's attire. Which was no doubt the idea of course, but even so. Still, despite the obvious inexperience, he noted with approval the practical clothing and the ponytail. Both choices of dress that lent themselves well to the sort of business that was expected this evening and indeed, the Neath in general. Promising choices in a newcomer.

    "Mr Blank." This one he knew. Tangentially, at least. You never really leave the Game and if you intend to reduce your prominence in it, you are a damn fool if you don't keep a careful tab on the up and comers. His skills would suit this caper well.

    "Lady Karnstein." Another of the newer crop of Game players, although this one had a very different skillset, putting more emphasis on the social aspects of the Game. Prominent in Veilgarden certainly, but the name had been popping up in a surprising amount of places in recent times. One to watch, this one.

    "The Cosmopolitan. Scholar of Benthic" This one he had little knowledge of. Probably a good bet for appraisal of potential takings on the fly though? Work at the university often meant Summerset, who had the money spare to afford his services. His visits to Benthic were decidedly more of a personal nature. He had a soft spot for the more interesting work they did. Up to a point of course. That business with the rubbery man and the attempt at inscribing Correspondance onto plates of amber...all over the damn wall...Such a mess.

    "Telemachia Lee." Very emphatically NOT to be addressed by a noble title if what he'd heard was true. He liked what he saw. Practical clothing. Almost certainly well armed. Clearly in good health and decidedly at home among the dirty work of the docks. This one was very interesting.

    "Captain Tanner Price." One of the more colourful characters without doubt. A pirate of all things. The idea of the sort of bombast this might bring was admittedly unsettling, given Glamore's propensity for subtlety, but no doubt a pirate of all people should be capable of theft and plunder if anyone was.

    And that was nearly everyone, except for...."Ah yes. Of course." He murmured, as the pair of Longshanks entered the hall from a side passage and not the front door. "Miss Wyatt. Mr. Barrows. Welcome to Lady Black's estate."

    He was pleasantly surprised and more than a little impressed to be addressed by name by Nikki. "Clever girl. Done your research I see. Very good." Taking her invitation and her coat and after much persistance on the behalf of her companion, not taking his coat, the two of them were lead through to the drawing room to join the others.

    He gave a short nod to Jen, briefly stepping out of the room to return with a drinks trolley atop which stood glassware and a rather fine vintage of red surface wine, rolling it to near the front of the room and filling each glass. "Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of your host, Lady Jennifer Black, may I please ask that you graciously accept a glass of this wine. I understand Lady Black would like to make a toast before we begin this evening's undertakings in earnest."

    Distributing the glasses among the assembled guests, he finished by passing one to Jen and keeping the last glass for himself, returning to the side of the room to stand attentively.

    --
    Hubris Glamore is an ambitious gentleman with entirely more schemes than is healthy.

    Happy to entertain all manner of interactions and has a fondness for roleplaying.

    http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Hubris%20Glamore
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