Conditions And Dealings

Lumiere et Obscurite
Heavy drapes of a velvety midnight blue cascade around a small shop lined with many glass paneled shelves. The door is made of wood with a small copper bell and bar attached to it. Like a gallery, the shop displays various completed dolls on the shelves – each one dressed in different color schemes. Small paintings on thin paper and done with watery colors depict the earliest designs of many of the dolls sitting on the shelves. Elegant doll houses already furnished sit along a ledge at waist level with attached price tags. The ground is warm polished wood. There is no counter in the shop. The rest of the space is taken up by a round table decorated with a glass vase of red roses and a china bowl of sugared dragees. Four ornate chairs are placed around the table with comfortable crimson cushions on them.

Trickles of rain sweep down in sheets outside the windows of the Lumiere, the salty wind of the coast battering against resilient glass panes. The suffused glow of a lamp brightens the dim interior, lending light enough for one. The storm does not bother the dark haired youth sitting within the shop at the round table, every whistle of wind and roar of thunder barely shaking the fragile petals of the roses set fresh in the vase in its middle. Cut squares of satin litter the table, along with a box of bright little crystals. A half-sewn doll rests on the man's lap, and gracefully his fingers lift a silver needle in and out; attaching the glittering decorations to the doll's dress. [Alexi]

The door rattles, not with the force of the storm, but that of a man. Clad in clean lines of black and his white linen cravat unwrinkled, a pale, blonde man steps into the shop; raindrops scattered across his coat and the yellowish locks of his hair. The ride from the City of Irae to Camden took two evenings, and Christian ensured that his absence was made during a time when Etienne d'Aquitaine was equally away, hosting a soiree in another district. Such narcissism within themselves, these Toreador; he thought inwardly to himself — though it is only with the grace of one that his survival is ensured. [Christian]

Hefting a drawn sigh and an unneeded breath, the pale blonde man closes the door behind him, and bows deeply towards the Prince seated at the table with the doll. [Christian]

"Herr von Karlach." The dark haired youth greets softly, not looking up, his eyes affixed to the doll he is so diligently crafting, the blue irises drawn to a dusky ultramarine in the watery light present in the shop. Then, his own hands pause, and the thread is snipped, the needle returned to its casing and the doll placed reverently upon a stand on the table, its crystal-green eyes staring at the pale blonde man. [Alexi]

"Take a seat. The journey from your City to this town would be long, I'd imagine. And amidst the fact that Lord d'Aquitaine might not have approved of the summons." The dark haired youth speaks empathically, drawing himself into a straightened posture as he looks at the man standing at the door, his poise still captured in a bow. [Alexi]

"There was no trouble, your Majesty." The pale fellow replies and raises his head, locks of loose blonde hair falling across his visage. Pensiveness cover his features for a moment but he composes himself as he approaches the table, and takes his place opposite the Prince, his hands placed upon his lap, and where Alexi could see them. He continues, with not much emotion in his tone. "Lord d'Aquitaine is away on his own business for seven days. And would return another two days after I would leave this town." [Christian]

His eyes lift upwards, scanning the ceiling of the shop and the shelves about him; filled with dolls; each different in their gowns and faces and design. So many. He cannot help but compare them to a delightful assortment of chess pieces. Literally. Owned by the Prince. Just like how Alexi has his hand slowly delving into the precarious tangle that is the Court. [Christian]

"You must be wondering why the summons, Herr von Karlach." Alexi stands up from the chair he was upon, and his hands go briefly to smooth down a wrinkle on his coat. His hands clasp his elbows now, arms forming a loose contemplative twist against his chest. The dark haired youth smiles a little, wondering perhaps at himself and at the blonde man. "The sins in you stand out so desperately to me. A gleaming river of tainted crimson." [Alexi]

Alexi's lips part slightly, apparently a sigh, and his eyes close, seeing the presence and aura upon Christian that only he would envision. Then, his chin drops just a fraction, his blue eyes levelling with Christian's face, and he murmurs quietly. "You hide it so well, Herr von Karlach. But the level of your ability, the young ones cannot see past the shadows masked around your sin. But I can, and of course, the Lord d'Aquitaine knows." [Alexi]

The pale fellow's mien startles barely, though he is not a person capably full of absolute emotions, the words are enough to draw a brief change to his face. "And what would you have of me then?" His voice does not tremble, having mastered his own sentiments to such staunch control. His chin lifts up, levelling his own eyes with that of Alexi's blue gaze and the shadows that rest behind the Prince's back. It would be an easy death if the conditions are not in his favor at all. [Christian]

"I know very well what you are capable of, Herr von Karlach. You have escaped the blood hunts for more than four centuries through raw ability to fight or even the fascinating amount of patience and tenacity you hold just to survive. The Elders abhor you. You were able to gain the sancity of forgiveness from the previous Prince which holds your freedom and sanction even into my reign." [Alexi]

Alexi's slender arms unfold from their clasp about him and he slowly circles the table in slow, meditative steps, his fingers reaching to interlock themselves in mid-air; before they loosen as he comes behind the blonde man's back. And one hand is rested lightly upon Christian's dark clad shoulder, his frame a thrown shadow across the table in front of the blonde man. Then Alexi states, in a calm draft of deliberation. "I want your fortitude, Herr von Karlach. Your gift to forsee the next move of the pawns. Your strength to persevere in whatever circumstances thrown into." [Alexi]

"You wish for alliance?" The pale fellow summarizes, his voice susurrating into a softness that could be either mocking or speculative. "Am I right, your Majesty?" [Christian]

Christian does not flinch at the hand placed upon his shoulder even; he felt no expansion of awe nor presence, no supernatural force to comply his loyalty towards the dark haired young man standing behind him; and his shadows thrown so unprotectively across his field of sight. But he stays still, very still, like a marble statue. [Christian]

"You speak of it so plainly, Herr von Karlach. Alliance is but just the superficial gesture of what I wish." The touch on the blonde man's shoulder tighten delicately, the dark haired youth's finger tips reaching inwards to run a short path upon the woven wool of Christian's coat. "I want to rid the Court of its rot, of the festering wounds that are the Elders; their ignorant clutches onto poor traditions that would only bring about our demise." [Alexi]

"We do not need their rules, Herr von Karlach. If they are removed, you will be truly free, will you not be? And those, your fellow sinners, they would be free too." [Alexi]

The dark haired youth's hand lifts from Christian's shoulder, and the willowy fingers curl in elegant fashion under the blonde man's chin, lingeringly, in a grip that would mean certain death if the blonde man made a move. "I would be the savior of your kind. I will expunge the canker that is torturing our society." [Alexi]

"In return, Herr von Karlach. Your promise to assist me. And for you, I will allow you the right of progeny once more." Alexi's hand shifts, with minimum strength, tilting the blonde man's head upwards to look at the former. The blue eyes appear to laugh silently as they watch for a change in the blonde man's features, the dark haired youth's lips curving into a smile. "I know there is one whom you have utter regret for, and what you had done to her family. You want to make sure your debt is fully paid, don't you?" [Alexi]

It seems like a fair exchange, what the Prince has offered. But to be placed into such subjugation and shame, at being cornered sends a seething torn rage through the pale fellow's psyche. Yet his face does not project any of the angry inferno within his mindscape and he smiles too, almost inconceivably in return into those laughing blue eyes. [Christian]

"There is also one more who resides in Etienne's domain. She, the red-haired one." Alexi muses now, his hands releasing themselves from Christian. He circles another cycle around the table before returning to his original seat, facing the blonde man. "Lady Rasha Moncreiffe. Another of your acquaintances." [Alexi]

The blonde man nods imperceptibly, his gloved hand reaching up to readjust his cravat that Alexi had touched. His words coming out ruminative and thoughtful, "The fraulein has stayed all her life in the theatre, and knows nothing of the outside. Yet I do not know if she chooses to ignore and thus cloister herself within what she perceives as safe." [Christian]

"What would she say if I offer her a position of power, Herr von Karlach." The dark haired youth questions, his hand reaching out to touch the silver ringlets on the doll upon the stand near to him, his face turned now towards the blonde man in a show of seriousness. "Perhaps, to be my Seneschal." [Alexi]

"She would most likely reject your offer. It would not even hurt to ask of course." The pale fellow replies without an ounce of hesitation, his light eyebrows arching upwards in mute amusement, and he stands up, gathering himself to leave. "But, the fraulein is afraid of heights. Frightened to fall. To draw her into such an immense pinnacle would be her destruction. Unless you plan to have it this way; but if you do, then I will break the contract I have with you. Such is the condition, your Majesty." [Christian]

"In our Clan, Herr von Karlach, rumor and gossip are the best weapons one can have." The dark haired youth stands as well, now that the blonde man has indicated his wish to leave. "It does not hurt to ask, like you have said. But the repercussions of such an offer would be disastrous indeed." [Alexi]

Alexi steps away from the table, and it is his turn now to bow towards the blonde man in farewell. Outside, the rain has stopped pouring, and the sky is still velvet dark, sufficient time for Christian to depart to whenever he may need to rest and continue his nightly journey back to the City of Irae. [Alexi]

"In our Clan, your Majesty, chess is the game we excel in." The pale fellow replies, and his gloved hand is placed over his heart; and he bows in return to the Prince. "In a week's time, I will leave the Theatre and head for the Town of Este. There, we will meet again. And I will have the first request fulfilled."

Flicking a bit of lint from his coat, Christian casts one last look at the faces of the dolls seated around the display shelves in the shop. An afterthought drifts through him; of the smiling, cheerful expressions of the mortals who visit this place in the evenings; whom are so taken and so attracted to Alexi Klein's masterpieces. If only they knew the hands that craft such beauty are stained with deceit, the mind that designs such stunningly enchanting creations is so astutely insidious. The pale fellow is absolutely sure that around these mortals, Alexi Klein is the perfect gentleman. [Christian]

But such is the world that they are cast in. Him, Alexi, Rasha, Etienne and so many others more. He bows once more and turns to go out into the rain-soaked street of the coastal town. [Christian]

Alexi's clear, soft voice musically rings out behind the blonde man's back as the latter departs. "Nur tote fische schwimmen mit dem strom, Herr von Karlach. Remember this. Only dead fish would swim with the stream." [Alexi]

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