"Does the Prince know?"
"Is not Prince we need to worry about."
"Yes--only his allies."
Three people were in a small office. The walls were strewn with artwork, but the trio was much too busy--too concerned with their own plans--to notice the paintings, tapestries, sculptures, and antiquities that decorated the room.
"Well, then, do his allies know?" A young man turned to the only woman among them, his eyes expressing the curiosity of a neonate.
She raised an eyebrow before speaking to her childe, a Nordic accent coloring her words. "Should hope not. Party was only Toreador and mortals. If anyone else knows, it is flock, and they not understand concept of praxis."
Her grasp on English was not firm--it never had been--but she always managed to express herself clearly. Edda turned to the third among them, bowing her head slightly in deferrence.
"If you like, I can speak with others and find out who knows what."
The dignified gentleman waved a hand in dismissal. "No...we need not concern ourselves with the others. Our plans are too well-laid to be ruined. Even if one of the other clans has heard of them, they won't know enough to do anything about it."
"Should we bring the Guildmaster in, sir?" Evan Harper asked quietly.
His sire shot him a look. "Speak when spoken to."
"No, Miss Sturluson...it's quite alright. Let the boy speak."
The neonate cleared his throat. "I'm just saying...if we're making a clan effort, shouldn't the entire clan be let in?"
The Elder made an effort to sigh. "Not all Roses are loyal, dear boy. Maureen has questionable alliances, as does our Primogen...and his Whip. I have included you and your sire in these plans because I know that your true alleigance lies with the clan. I have ensured that."
Evan recalled the blood-tainted drink he'd been given on more than one of these occasions. "I was only curious, sir."
"Curiosity is natural. But so is treachery, especially among our kind. Be careful that one does not lead to the other. Edda, my dear...by all means, please do speak with those allies you have in other clans. As your childe has reminded me, we are curious creatures. We must be sure that any cats are taken care of."
She was used to his speaking in such riddles. She never really understood the ideas in which they were based--what did cats have to do with anything?—but his meaning was far from lost. She knew what to do.
The shrill ringing of that contraption called a cellular phone was just about driving Shaw mad. He couldn't just let it ring anymore, as the caller obviously wasn't going to just hang up and leave him be. He grabbed the device, flipping it open, and brought it to his ear.
"Hello, Jason. I've heard something very interesting."
"Who is this?"
A feminine laugh filled his ears. "Oh, just a friend and fellow loyal Camarilla officer."
"Kimberly." He rolled his eyes. "I didn't recognize your voice. What is it?"
"I happened, by chance, to find myself at the Toreador party. They didn't notice me, of course...I'm good at that sort of thing."
"Just tell me what you heard. I don't need the whole damn story."
"Oh, alright...you need to be more patient, Jason. It's a virtue, after all."
"So is keeping one's rage in check, madame Brujah."
The scoff was evident in her voice as she spoke again. "I could always not tell you about the Praxis."
Jason found himself suddenly very interested in what she had to say. "What?"
"Yes. Praxis. Apparently, there's going to be an attempt. It wouldn't surprise me if it went down at the next gathering."
"You will, then, take precautions?"
"I always do. I'm a good Keeper. Anyone who says otherwise can answer to--"
"Yes. Good Keeper. Who's planning the Praxis?"
"I don't know. I overheard the tail end of a discussion between some of the Toreador. I wasn't close enough to see them, and I didn't recognize their voices."
"That's not very much to go on."
"No, it's not. But if we know it's coming, even if we're not sure who, when, how, or whatever...we can take measures to stop it. And you do want to stop it, don't you, Jason?"
"Of course. Andrew's like a brother."
"Good. Meet me at his club in an hour."
Primogen Campbell was beyond happy. One of the thorns in her side had strangely disappeared. She knew the Prince wouldn't be happy about his sister being missing...but it would definitely make things much easier. With Carrie out of the way, Alice could assume an almost absolute control over the council.
Of course, the Ventrue knew exactly what had happened. The influence actions against her rival had been somewhat severe...but they had accomplished their goal. Carrie had to start over somewhere else. The best part was that none of it could be traced back to her. Alice had enough allies and contacts to ensure that. She had enough leverage over her clanmates to ask favors and get the job done without getting her own hands dirty.
Now she was on her way to Andrew's office. Something about a Praxis attempt. It would be most interesting to sit in on the meeting with him, the Seneschal, and the Keeper. It was a gathering of the people Andrew held near to him. The individuals he knew were loyal. Of course Alice was loyal...she had drank his blood three times, had she not? What else could she do to demonstrate such devotion to the Camarilla--to the throne?
Alice knew Andrew saw her as one of his many pawns. That was alright, because she really viewed him the same way. It was in her nature to use her relationship to protect herself. He wouldn't let any harm come to her. She was too valuable an asset. He was valuable too...but for different reasons. He could teach her a few things, and arrange for protection. The only thing that bothered Alice was the way her clan treated her because of the relationship. They ostracized her at first because she was a woman. When she sought friendship and alliance outside of their shared blood, they thought her a traitor to the clan. She couldn't win either way. The other Ventrue hated the idea that she might be blood bound to someone not of their line...let alone a Brujah, which was quite possibly the worst choice she could have made. Alice had her reasons, and her motives. She couldn't share them. They could be used against her far too easily.
As it was now, she was the Prince's closest confidant. His lover. His best friend. She had next to no power within her clan, but it was an acceptable sacrifice to get to where she was now within the Camarilla.
The Prince was enraged. There were traitors among the subjects of his domain. A Praxis was being planned. They wanted to take his throne away. On top of it all, his sister was nowhere to be found. Her ties with the Department of Education had been sabotaged. Her false records were discovered as such. She'd been forced from the area by some other Kindred. Andrew knew that much. With the news of a Praxis in the works, he couldn't help but link the two together.
He paced back and forth across the office above the main floor of his nightclub. Through the windows on the wall, he could see his trusted friends coming towards the stairs that led to the small room. Alice would know what to do. She always did.
The door opened. Jason entered first, followed by the Keeper. The Ventrue was last. She shut the door and turned the lock.
"Are the cameras off, Andrew?"
"Yes, of course."
"Good." She took the seat closest to him.
Kimberly sat on the couch against the wall, and Jason took to a corner.
"I'm sure you know why I wanted you here," Cantley began, "and I'm sure some of you even know more about it than I do. So talk. Now."
"I heard the rumors first, Andrew," Kimberly said with a small smile. "It was at the Toreador party after their Primogen's opening night."
The Prince's grip on the back of his desk chair tightened. The wood began to creak under the pressure. "The Roses...I might've guessed. Fags and bitches..."
"I doubt they're all involved...only a few are stupid enough to think they'd succeed. The Elder, especially. I'm sure we can trust Adelle, though, as long as we have the Primogen on our side."
"That's assuming none of them are involved, Seneschal." Alice then glanced to Andrew. "Darling, we can't trust anyone in this situation. Not even our clanmates. We can't know who's involved, and how far it reaches."
"You're a Primogen, are you not, Miss Campbell? You know nothing of your fellow councilors--assuming you're not involved yourself..."
She glared at the Brujah. "I have nothing to do with this."
"I trust Alice with my life, Kim," Andrew told his clanmate, "otherwise she wouldn't be here right now. Jason...you mentioned the Toreador elder. Mr James, right?"
"Yes. His arrogance gives it away. He's the only one with the audacity to expect success."
"He have any control of the schools?"
"What does that have to do with Praxis?"
"You're a Nosferatu...you haven't heard? My sister's influences were fucked. She had to leave town."
"I believe his influences lie mostly with the upper class and the government."
"Well shit, doesn't anyone have the schools?"
Alice cleared her throat. "Actually, a clanmate of mine has some sway in the education department...Mr. Spencer."
"Did he do it?"
"I couldn't say, Andrew. You'd have to speak with him."
The Prince cast his cold steel-toned eyes over the room. When he spoke, it was evident that his rage was barely contained. "I want to know who did this. I don't care what you have to do to find out."
The three sat there silently, watching the furious Brujah.
"What are you waiting for?" His words came out through clenched teeth. "GO!"
Kimberly and Jason bowed and scrambled out of the room. Alice lingered behind, waiting for them to leave before she closed the door again, approaching the Prince. She placed a small hand on one of his muscular shoulders.
His head turned sharply to look at her, the built up anger still present in his eyes.
"I couldn't say it in front of them...especially Jason. If the Nosferatu knew...everyone would know, and my clan would find out."
He spun, taking her wrist in his grip. "Find out what, Alice?"
Her blue eyes widened slightly at the pressure he was forcing onto her bones. Good thing she had the resilience necessary. "I know who did it. It was Spencer."
"I don't know."
"I'm sure you do...or can you just not tell me yet?" His grip tightened.
Alice winced. She wasn't used to this sort of treatment. She let out a slight whimper and he let out a growl, swinging her into the wall with her wrists pinned beside her. His dark eyes glared down at her. He'd never been this way before. He'd drank three times of her blood--he shouldn't be able to hurt her like this.
Her voice was shaky when she found it again. "My clan...they're angry because of you. Because of us. Your sister was a weak spot."
The Prince released her arms and stepped back, only to slam his fist with alarmingly potent strength into the wall only inches from her head. She let out a slight shriek. He stepped closer, looking down at her small frame.
"If you tell your clan that I know...if you tell Spencer..." he trailed off, unable to finish.
"I won't," she whispered, still trembling.