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A Lord and a Shadow

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  1. #1
    Quinn Durant's Avatar
    Quinn Durant
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    2
    PRE

    Quinn was waiting in one of the rooms allowed for use by the Priscii. It was a smaller one, with a smart desk, and comfortable chairs to relax in. She asked for the meeting, and yet she dreaded this. It had to be done. Fuck her goddamn sire and his stupid games. She was over it. She intended for the first time in her cursed existence to make Abel Wilkes eat it. Hell. This bullshit already cost the Coterie a million dollars. How much did he want to waste thinking her inheritance meant anything to her? That the money would somehow be the last tether in this psychotic drama llama? It wasn't her fault David's humanity was going down faster than a $10.00 hooker! If she had stuck around, she would probably be in the same boat!

    Quinn sighed and looked down at her outfit. Conservative dress drove her crazy, and yet she seemed stuck to a ridiculous standard that was never her own. Janos had taught his butterfly well. That old Haunt was the only thing she missed from the Coterie. He had been the sire she always wanted and would never have. 'You left me too, Quinn!' Those words haunted her. Hurled from the lips of a Kindred she had the utmost respect for. It made her chest tight to think of it. So she shoved it down with the rest of the worthless feelings and let her back rest against the chair as she waited for Milton Northbridge Folding her hands demurely in her lap.

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  3. #2
    Milton's Avatar
    Time is Money
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    (Finance)
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    Milton

    2
    PRE

    Milton arrives at the appointed time, down to the very minute. He's dressed in one of his seemingly countless suits, this one as unremarkable as the rest. Tonight, however, he sports a bow tie. An oddly whimsical touch, which is actually the result of a regrettable delay in the delivery of his dry cleaning. He'd had to improvise, not something this stiff is very comfortable with. Oh well.

    Milton has not bothered to counterfeit life, preferring to forgo the waste of vitae whenever possible. As a result, he looks more like a wax figure than a living, breathing man.

    He carries a leather laptop bag in his left hand and knocks at the open door with his right before stepping into the meeting room. His beast hisses at the rival, but he smothers the asp with a cookie-cutter smile.

    "Priscus Durant, good evening." He offers a curt bow, acknowledging her position within the domain. "You look ravishing as usual." Does he actually find her attractive? Who knows. It's unclear if Milton finds anyone or anything aesthetically pleasing.

    Equipment: laptop with full suite of financial software, smart phone.
    Health: Vitae: WP: BP: 1
    The Ressurrectionists:

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  5. #3
    Quinn Durant's Avatar
    Quinn Durant
    Obfuscate
    (Mask of Tranquility)
    Striking Looks
    (Enticing)
    Barfly
    (Velvet Rope Jockey)
    Good Breeding
    Quinn Durant

    Barfly
    Striking Looks 2

    +1
    SL
    2
    PRE

    Quinn turned her head as the other Kindred entered, and stood to welcome him, returning his nod of respect with a slightly shallower one. For a moment they were both tense. Her beast snarling in it's cage demanding to fight the other beast. The beast told her she could take him, but Quinn was the master, and now with the new Coil she learned she knew she could never be bested by it again. It offered her more calm. A confidence she previously did not have.

    She found his compliment perfectly fine for the privacy of the meeting. She took a moment to take in Milton. On first impressions she felt he didn't wish to be complimented on shallow things. Why else dress so boring? The bow tie stuck out. As a shadow with a relentless ability to notice details that were different, she of course commented on it. He had to have known she would...

    "Good evening, Mr. Northbridge." She gave him a dazzling smile, bright and inviting yet as devoid of true meaning as a lightbulb.

    "Bow tie tonight? That's a bit of a change. Though if it were my choice, I think I would have gone a little more old school. An Ascot, perhaps. I am not an expert in gentlemen's fashion but, with the neutral dress you are accustomed to, you could pull it off." She paused a moment, and motioned with her hand to a rather plush chair, a slim coffee table between the chair she offered Milton and her own. He would note she did not use the desk at all. Surely it would have denoted more authority, Quinn didn't seem to interested in that right now.

    After the Lord sat himself down, she would take the seat across from him. Her legs remained together, and she twisted them to the side, crossing one ankle over the other. Her hands lay folded in her lap. She did not use them to speak with. Her posture perfection.

    "Thank you for joining me for some business this evening. I will cut to the chase, Mr. Northbridge. I have quite a lot of liquid funds as well as stock and bond assets, and property spread out through much of the world. I would like to begin the daunting task of moving these assets off of my identity to another's created to logically represent such vast wealth."

    She paused and removed a thumb drive from her perfectly matching hand bag at her side and held it out for him to take.

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  7. #4
    Milton's Avatar
    Time is Money
    Presence
    (Bland)
    Intelligence
    (Analytical)
    Status
    (Finance)
    Status
    (City Hall)
    Contacts
    (Finance, City Hall)
    Milton

    2
    PRE

    "Hm?" Milton replies, as if he's forgotten about the bow tie entirely. "Oh, yes. The tie. Well. It would not normally be my first choice, but here we are." He does not respond to the suggestion of an ascot. He dresses so as to be fully absorbed into the corporate and bureaucratic edifices where he conducts his business. No one at city hall or in the board room wears an ascot.

    He takes the proffered chair, unzipping his bag and removing his laptop with a practiced and efficient series of gestures. The laptop is placed on the table, the bag on the floor. Like Quinn, Milton sits with studied posture. For a moment, he is unblinking, unbreathing, and stiff as a board. Finally, he moves again, tapping a few keys on the laptop, unlocking the device.

    Then, the Lord listens. He does not seem surprised by her mention of vast assets. This is the world he "lives" in. Extensive wealth, and managing that wealth, comes with the territory. He plucks the thumb drive from her grasp and plugs it into his laptop. "Thank you, Priscus Durant. Let's take a look at the playing field, as it were. This may take some time. Please, make yourself comfortable."

    Initial Audit roll #1, 1 success

    Frowning, Milton taps a few more keys. A hand moves toward his face as if to adjust glasses that aren't there. A gesture that hints at a former life, one that's dead as he is.

    Initial Audit roll #2, 2 successes

    Time passes. Milton does not speak. He's very focused on the financial records she's provided him, which are extensive. He does not spare Quinn a glance.

    Initial Audit roll #3, 5 successes

    Things seem to be moving faster now. Milton has started to hum to himself. The tune is The Vogues "Turn Around Look at Me." Depending on Quinn's actual age, she may be familiar.

    Initial Audit roll #4, 5 successes

    Finally, he looks up. The whole procedure has taken some time, but they are dead. What does time mean to the dead?

    Unassuming brown eyes study the beautiful corpse in front of him. There is a lot to process in these records, and more than just Quinn's vast wealth. "A remarkable portfolio, Ms. Durant. Extensive and diverse." He does not ask where the funds come from or about the other...irregularities. Not yet. "I concur with your suggestion concerning the allocation of your assets to another...entity. Perhaps more than one. There are many ways to do so: consortiums, shell corporations, trusts. All duly anonymized." These are tried and true methods, used by both the dead and the living. Rich is rich.

    A pause, "Is anyone else currently managing your financial footprint?"
    Health: Vitae: WP: BP: 1
    The Ressurrectionists:

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  9. #5
    Quinn Durant's Avatar
    Quinn Durant
    Obfuscate
    (Mask of Tranquility)
    Striking Looks
    (Enticing)
    Barfly
    (Velvet Rope Jockey)
    Good Breeding
    Quinn Durant

    Barfly
    Striking Looks 2

    +1
    SL
    2
    PRE

    "Please do not take that the wrong way. You are dressed perfectly fine, just an observation. I've been considering stepping out of my comfort zone a bit myself. Forgive me for projecting my thoughts onto you." She smiled politely, but there was a hint of amusement in her smile.

    She nodded when he explained the process would take awhile. She had assumed as much. There was a lot to unpack there. Why else would she immediately turn to an expert of finance so quickly? She barely knew his name for crying out loud, but she wouldn't be doing herself any favors by ignoring his skills.

    She didn't move the entire time he was working. She did avert her gaze to her hands however. It seemed strange to stare a hole through him. She didn't wish to make him believe she was doing anything untoward either. Of course, given the locale they were in, she would hope he would see that this wasn't a ploy to get him alone, but a plea for help in a personal matter.

    When he addressed her again, her gaze flicked up to meet his. She met his gaze directly, only occasionally straying to his lips as she intently listened to him. She treated him without caution here in Elysia. He either was of his word or he was not.

    "Whatever you see as fit, we will do, Mr. Northbridge. You are the expert in these matters and I will trust you to do your utmost for the task." She paused a moment and shook her head. "The former manager proved untrustworthy and met a fitting end for a traitor."

    "I don't expect this to happen overnight either. You have the leisure of time so the moving of such assets is not detected by the authorities." She paused and smiled slightly.

    "I also don't expect you to work for free, Mr. Northbridge. You have seen what there is to see. Share with me what this is going to cost me."

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  11. #6
    Milton's Avatar
    Time is Money
    Presence
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    (Analytical)
    Status
    (Finance)
    Status
    (City Hall)
    Contacts
    (Finance, City Hall)
    Milton

    2
    PRE

    Quinn’s clarification concerning his tie is waved away. “No offense offered, none taken. Please, think nothing more of it.” A pause, then: “And, if I may be so bold, what we see as our comfort zone is often, quite literally, our natural habitat. At times, we consider leaving it out of a momentary sense of boredom or malaise when exploring that familiar terrain further, extending our tenure there, would serve just as well.” He shrugs as if to say: take that for what it’s worth. Dear Milton, ever the prudent fellow.

    After staring at the computer screen, unblinking, for so long, Milton’s eyeballs look parched. Not bloodshot, but dry. Slightly shrunken in the sockets. There’s no other way to put it. Not that the condition of his ocular organs seems to bother this staid creature. Indeed, he goes on smiling that inoffensive if bemused smile, the banality of evil made flesh.

    If her perfect stillness bothers him, it is not evident. In fact, he seems quite at home with her immobility and silence. Milton himself prefers the stillness of the undead (or the simply dead) to the autonomic heat and messiness of the kine. Too much bother and upset without purpose. Lately, breathing itself seems indulgent, even decadent, to the Lord. He can no longer understand how mortals do it without fail (and without thought).

    “I assure you, Priscus. I am most discreet, even with my...livelier clients,” though to a lesser extent when it comes to the latter. “In my field, confidentiality is paramount. I would not be where I am today had I betrayed the confidences entrusted to me.” Milton briefly wonders about the fate of her former financial manager. He assumes their end was quite delicious. Decides to ask her at a later date, once they’ve become better acquainted.

    “You are absolutely correct: this kind of restructuring will take time. Luckily, that is an unlimited resource in our instance. I will likely need to engage subcontractors or sub-consultants as well, if you are amenable. They will, however, only be offered information and transactions that have been wholly sanitized of all identifiable traits and markers.” He holds his gaze on her, silent for a moment should she care to object. “Further, beyond the initial restructuring, constant monitoring and maintenance of your...arrangements will be necessary. A fortune such as yours, Priscus Durant, is like a vast and grand garden. It demands the sustained attentions and dedication of highly skilled individuals in order to flourish. Without that attention, rot and disorder emerge. Disease and parasites appear. Parasites like your former associate.” An understanding smile. “I am happy to provide that service as well, should you desire and for as long as you may require. Let us hope, at least until forever.” He chuckles at his own joke, a self-satisfied sound.

    At her mention of cost, the accountant slowly closes his laptop. Folds both hands on the table in front of him and, for the first time since entering the room, closes his eyes. It is not a blink. They remain closed for at least thirty seconds. When they open again, they are just as dry as before, but somehow more focused; his attention, if not his flesh, appears refreshed.

    “I have seen. You have vast reserves, Priscus. But I have no real need of money. I’m more interested in things I cannot see.” His hands unfold on the table, palms up. Empty. “In general, given the durational aspect of the work proposed, I would like an assurance of your continued friendship. Considering the access you have already granted me, I would say that I am something like your intimate. I would like you to think of me that way, and support me accordingly within the domain. I, of course, will return that affection and support.” The terms are vague. On purpose. What, exactly, is he proposing?

    But there’s more: “At present and in particular, for the initial effort of restructuring, I would like you to teach me your family’s art, which you so eloquently discussed a few courts ago.” Auspex. He’s referring to Auspex. “As I said, I am interested in what I cannot see.”
    Health: Vitae: WP: BP: 1
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  13. #7
    Quinn Durant's Avatar
    Quinn Durant
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    Striking Looks
    (Enticing)
    Barfly
    (Velvet Rope Jockey)
    Good Breeding
    Quinn Durant

    Barfly
    Striking Looks 2

    +1
    SL
    2
    PRE

    Quinn nodded to Milton initially, happy he hadn't taken offense at a personal dress suggestion. You never really know what some Kindreds hackles will rise over, until it is to late. No matter how careful with your words. They were solitary predators, plagued with loneliness and echoes of a former life. Ostracized from the light and pulse of the world. She considered his further opinion and simply smiled at her own private thoughts. She didn't think Milton had known many Dragons. He would learn though. Over time. No need to rush his awakening of what it meant that she supported the orders work and belief in Transcendence.


    "About that discretion. I don't expect you to keep this a secret from your Priscus. I feel as if asking that of you is disingenuous, and prevents you from letting him know of your good faith efforts to assist a Priscus of the court. I may be the Shadow Clan Priscus, but I have made no bones about the fact that I live openly and in the light Mr. Northbridge, so the rest of my clan doesn't have to. That is the burden of true leadership. Transparency, to a certain degree. True, I don't feel the need to share every bit of my nightly business with the whole of the court, but at the same time denying someone the ability to expand their client base because they cannot speak of their gallant efforts doesn't sit well with me either. You may use me for reference with any member of the court, and I will vouch as long as everything proceeds naturally."


    Quinn listened to him discuss what was necessary for the shifting of those funds, and nodded in agreement. "I meant what I said, that this is your expertise. I will trust what you put into place, and of course the kine resources you may need to do so and have it remain hidden from the Kine at large." She paused a moment and realized she had to clarify something. "This fortune, once moved, will be managed by another party already waiting for this transfer to be complete. It all was set to go through in one foul swoop with my hacking skills, but unfortunately the other party didn't fulfill their end of the deal and so nothing happened and the safe window I had had set up expired. This is a deliberate stall to tie me further to this individual and I want nothing more to do with it. Nor will I put up with these petty machinations any longer. This is a personal favor Mr. Northbridge. The identity I set up to take over these funds will belong to The Right Honorable Alder Abel Wilkes, Viscount of Carmel, and Knight and Senator of the Invictus. He is my sire." It was clear Quinn intended to liberate herself once and for all. It was no secret Sire's extorted their childer for as long as possible. Quinn sought light at the end of that dark tunnel.


    When he got to the price, Quinn leaned forward ever so slightly, showing active listening as he spoke, smiling occasionally. "You will need to tighten up the language in the first bit to exactly what those standards are. I cannot in good faith promise something if I'm not confident in what my honor demands me to do, Mr. Northbridge. From the initial sounds of it though, I would find pleasure in such an arrangement. I am naturally inclined to be kind to those who have helped me."


    She sat back at the demand for her clan discipline. "I am Priscus of my clan because I don't do the things that my predecessor has done. One of those things was trade our clan discipline away for boons, in a short sighted bid for power. The clan despised him for that, and found him weak. Luckily he spared us all the embarrassment and skipped town, leaving my clan without a strong leader. I stepped in and I've been cleaning up the mess ever since. I'm still shoveling that man's poop. When it comes to personal favors a boon will suffice. I offer you a major boon. Which is more than generous. The terms for fulfilling that boon however can be instead of my teaching you Auspex, I make my skills available for your personal use and advantage for a time. As long as you are working for me, I am working for you. I am the only scholar of Auspex in this city Mr. Northbridge. I am the only one who can offer you such a thing. I am also far far more powerful in the discipline than you could ever hope to be." That wasn't bragging. That was fact.

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  15. #8
    Milton's Avatar
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    Contacts
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    Milton

    2
    PRE

    Transparency? How quaint. Still, Milton recognizes that she's attempting to help him. And, should his assistance prove to be a point of renown within the domain, he will certainly make it widely known. Though not in any detail.

    "I appreciate your concern, Priscus. And I note your openness. Rest assured, should I share our arrangement with my Priscus, I will only paint in the broadest strokes." Milton is not gallant by any stretch. But he is pragmatic.

    A single eyebrow is raised as Quinn provides further details on the fate of her fortune. He did not expect this twist, but must admit that he is relieved. The restructuring of her assets will be arduous enough. If their subsequent management is to be overseen by another party, that is fine with him. "Understood. Thank you for the additional detail. I will focus on the disposition of your assets at present and plan to transition their oversight when my task is complete."

    Then Quinn begins to provide her counteroffer. Milton sits up straight, perfectly still, and watches her the whole time. Not interrupting. Not moving. Just observing. When she has completed her response, he begins to speak. The sudden movement from this corpse in a suit is jarring.

    "Given that 'the first bit,' as you say, was tied to the long term management of your estate, I do not believe it is applicable any longer. The management of those funds will pass into other hands, and so that condition is null and void. To satisfy your curiosity, however, I was thinking of an arrangement approximating the formation of a coterie. Mutual support for both parties: social, political, and financial." That bland smile remains painted on Milton's lips. Somewhere between humble and mocking. Does he even know that he's smiling at this point?

    "As to my second condition, I'm afraid that is non-negotiable. You know what I can do for you. It is a service that very few can offer, given the delicate nature of your finances and your position. Likewise, as you indicate, what I desire can only be offered by you. In that sense, it seems a fair exchange."

    Milton pauses to dust a piece of lint off his jacket sleeve and then continues: "I am sorry to hear about the mess left by your predecessor, but I assure you that has nothing to do with me. I can guarantee that our...arrangement, should you choose to enter into it, will be kept completely secret. No one will know that you have taught me. No one will know why you have taught me. And if no one knows, then no one will have cause to despise you or think you weak." A simple equation, really. And besides, the only noteworthy member of her family currently in the domain is not presently held in high standing. Who, exactly, does the good Priscus fear?

    "Otherwise, I am happy to depart our meeting without further obligation. Lucky to have spent a few hours in the presence of such a remarkable woman. The choice is yours, Priscus."
    Health: Vitae: WP: BP: 1
    The Ressurrectionists:

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  17. #9
    Quinn Durant's Avatar
    Quinn Durant
    Obfuscate
    (Mask of Tranquility)
    Striking Looks
    (Enticing)
    Barfly
    (Velvet Rope Jockey)
    Good Breeding
    Quinn Durant

    Barfly
    Striking Looks 2

    +1
    SL
    2
    PRE

    That little self satisfied smirk of his was almost enough for Quinn to let him swing for that unsavory offer. Putting aside the value and honor of a Major Boon to attempt to extort her clan discipline? Apparently Milton was used to sound proofing in his previous domain. Something that was not a feature of this Elysium. He already shot off his mouth too. There really wasn't any coming back from that one, unless she rescued him.

    "We don't know each other very well Mr. Northbridge. I would hate for you to get off on the wrong foot here in Sacramento, so I am going to pretend the last few minutes, didn't happen. That you simply couldn't help me with my issue, and that was that. We will part on the warmest terms, and I will think of you kindly as we bring our talents to bear to serve our Domain."

    All the while she was speaking she made a gesture with one perfectly manicured hand, gently touching her ear, and pointing at the door. When she took a breath, she mouthed silently, 'They heard all of that...' The they being the faceless masses of the Kindred that frequented Court. It was never empty, and you had no real privacy here.

    Why would Quinn be so magnanimous? Tranquility of Elysium for one. For two, he truly hadn't meant the misstep, well, not really anyway. Kindred would always try these petty power plays, it was to be expected. She felt that Milton could be very beneficial to the Domain. She still felt slightly responsible for the last Lord leaving town. She had paid her debt quietly, and silently, without any need for valor or recognition. It was satisfied within Quinn herself.

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  19. #10
    Milton's Avatar
    Time is Money
    Presence
    (Bland)
    Intelligence
    (Analytical)
    Status
    (Finance)
    Status
    (City Hall)
    Contacts
    (Finance, City Hall)
    Milton

    2
    PRE

    Milton is bemused. He tilts his head as Quinn speaks, his unblinking gaze steady on her. The movement is somehow reptilian.

    What is the Shadow going on about? Getting off on the wrong foot? Pretending that this didn't happen? She'd engaged him to perform a service. Asked his price. And he'd given it. This is a transaction. He thought she understood that point.

    Maybe he'd overestimated this Priscus of Shadows. No. He had. There is no doubt about that. Not for the first time, the Lord wonders how she'd come across all that money. Because she does not seem to understand business in the least.

    Then comes the hand gesture, the mouthed words. Milton looks to the door, back to Quinn, his expression now completely blank as he appears to process the new information.

    Of course they would be listening. The nameless, faceless They. Milton had been so intent on his goal, so covetous of what Quinn had to offer, he'd forgotten that fact. A misstep certainly. A silly blunder. But not a crime.

    Well. There are still ways to salvage it. He pulls a pad of legal paper from his laptop bag along with a fine pen. Uncaps the latter and writes quickly.

    My apologies. You are right to be cautious. The offer will stand, should you reconsider. I am always available.

    Turns the pad, pushes it toward the center of the table so she can clearly see it. Caps the pen, puts it down, then speaks:

    "I understand your position, Priscus. And admire your firm conviction and attachment to your beliefs." Bullshit. "Such dedication is rare in our society and I know it will serve you well." It's likely to get her killed. Permanently. "Please, think of me warmly, and I shall think the same of you." It is likely clear at this point that Milton does not think 'warmly' about anything or anyone.

    With that, he stops speaking and simply stares at her. What next? Would she dismiss him? Leave herself? She is the senior member of this conversation, after all. Milton will not make a move without her leave.
    Health: Vitae: WP: BP: 1
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