A Work of Art

Sheriff's Estate - The Vault

This room covers almost the entire ground floor of this house. The majority is taken up by a stylish reception area; three chunky, white leather couches places in a neat U-shape, with a low table in the centre. Another corner holds a modern, black table, six comfortable chairs placed around it as though for conference. The final feature is a bar, well-equipped behind it and with a pair of chunky fridge-freezers, containing a variety of synthetic blood. In one corner is a staircase, leading upstairs. On the same wall is a door through to the only area on this floor not part of this room, where sits a small bathroom and the route downstairs, a featureless door, metal constructed and lockable from one side only, though plated to fit with the design of the house.
Three walls are white, the fourth covered in ceramic panels to give some colour to the place. The floor is tiled, in a pleasant, neutral shade. Windows at regular intervals stretch from floor to ceiling, concealed blackout blinds above them. One wall bears a huge flatscreen television, and one aware of their surroundings will spot the speakers concealed at various points in the room. The general feel of this area is a clinical style, a blank, neutral canvas for whatever happens to be going on. Those who know Will generally refer to this area as The Vault, for the round pillars that stretch up to the roof.

The Vault is tranquil today, the blinds all closed, even as night finishes spreading her dark wings across the Dallas skyline. There are three empty bottles of synthetic blood on the short table next to the neat array of couches, along with two more full and warm. Will lies longways on the couch next to them, his eyes closed as if lightly asleep. He has not bothered to dress yet today, instead wearing only a navy blue dressing gown, thick and fluffy as it is. It remains to be seen if he has anything under it.

Through the hidden speakers in the walls, pitch and sound perfect (at least to the human ear), play a single track, set at a reasonable volume. Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, "Quasi una fantasia", as made famous by one Ludwig van Beethoven. Seems that it is song of the day.

Obtained just before dawn, a parcel awaits upstairs. Isobel, rising for the evening - perhaps a bit later than most - carefully carries the paper wrapped package down the stairs. Without waiting to see if her Maker is awake or not, she stops in front of the couch. The parcel, held at arm's length in front of her.

"Have you discovered who the rogue vampire is as of yet?"

Will does not bother opening his eyes, instead reaching out for the next bottle of blood. His voice is quiet. "I have narrowed the field to two. However, I do not believe there is a rogue as such." His fingers touch at the bottle, lifting it between two fingers. "It appears the situation is somewhat more complicated." The bottle flicks deftly in his hand, upending to begin draining with dexterity that allows no spillage.

"I see," says the cool voice. "One would think that kidnapping a human, even from a less than happy situation, is not the best way to mainstream or keep up appearances." Isobel stands perfectly still, the large object she holds seeming to weigh nothing. Darting her eyes to the bottles of blood, she wrinkles her nose up a tad. "But of course I trust that you will handle it with the utmost care." Though she has little doubt that should the Human investigation into the matter arrive at the conclusion of vampire involvement, things in Dallas will be most uncomfortable for a while.

The bottle flicks back around, spinning to stop back upright. "It would seem that the staff are mistreating the inmates," Will informs Isobel. "The investigation into the facility will be thorough, and I shall inform the League of the appropriate spin; a simple man, who happens to be vampire, rescuing someone from mistreatment and incidentally bringing to light the horrific instances of patient abuse occuring within. If necessary, I shall obtain evidence." Not that he's entirely certain why he is justifying himself.

"Are you so positive then? That it was a rescue and not an attempt to harm, keep or turn a mentally incapacitated individual?" Isobel has no reason to care for the human, but as she's been considering a prolonged stay in the city, she would hate to have to leave earlier than intended.

"I have met the escapee," says Will. "I have held her wrist, and examined the damage she has suffered." Finally, his eyes open, flicking over to her. "I am yet to glean the truth from the vampires in question. She has been fed upon, though contact was brief due to the chaotic nature of her mind. Besides, we may manipulate the media cycle through various avenues." It seems he has fully regained his cool now, impassive and unyielding of too much as usual. His look does sweep over her, in a way that would be described as covetous in anyone else. It pauses on the package.

Thinking it wise to say little else on the issue, Isobel tilts her head down at the package. "It arrived this morning, though you were attending to business. I did not believe it important enough that it could not wait until this evening to see that you were given it." Her stance is unchanging, as the parcel in question is too large to hand over to him as he rests upon the couch. "It is, as promised."

"Show me," Will says, using the momentum of a shifted leg to draw him upright on the couch, the bottle of synthetic still in hand. He looks her in the eye, even allowing a brief smile. "Tell me about it; it is important to me, especially since you may not be with me for long."

Carefully, painstakingly, the brown paper wrapping is removed. Layer by layer on a diagonal, until the dark, haunting image of a ruined Aberdeenshire is revealed. "This was," Isobel states, "Once upon a time, the area that I called home. It is here," she says, pointing to a ruined chapel, "that she found me, and I was reborn with your bite."

Will watches the unwrapping, savouring the slow revelation with the patience only an immortal can achieve. "An immortal reminder of your existence," he returns, searching the piece with faint memories driving back to the surface. "It is fitting, and beautiful. It shall hang here, once the appropriate protective measures are in place." He's thinking glass and climate control and allsorts. Nothing like thinking about the future. "This is your essence, the beginning of your second life, shattered and broken by the passage of time."

Much, perhaps, as she has been since the death of her Child. Isobel blinks several times, head swiftly ducking downward. "If you will excuse me a moment…" She cannot really let go of the painting, lest it fall. She does need to move though, and quickly to avoid him seeing the single bloody tear that winds its way down her cheek.

The older vampire allows her dignity, a delicate sniff at the air proving the suspicion. "Of course. It is still beautiful, showing what was and what one day will be," says he, "once the people return and the land draws breath once again." Waxing poetic today, apparently. The sonata draws to a final close, the piano's echoing finish allowed to peter out. Then it begins again. It seems it really is song of the day; an aching, heartbroken piece.

Which seems to be fitting the mood. Still, the second she has his permission, Isobel takes off with alarming speed. The image before him wobbles a tad, due to how swiftly she moved. She is gone only a minute or so, long enough to procure something to dab at her eyes with. Once she reappears, she reaches for the image once more, hoping to catch it or at least take it from him to stand it before him again. "It is a life that is past and over with," she says quietly.

Will moves to match her speed, catching the painting before it is allowed to fall. He does relinquish it, though, with easy grace, turning to flow back onto the couch. Sitting forwards now, he studies it further. "You should not forget it," says he, levelly, impassively. "Horrors of the past will give you an anchor to humanity, a bond that keeps you away from becoming the monstrosity that some elders have embraced."

"Humanity is but a fleeting moment in time," she says, a hint of sadness to her voice. "While I will agree that the past keeps us grounded, some things are best forgotten." Such as her 'Grandmother' as it were. Ysolde is something she truly wishes to forget. Isobel dabs at her eyes again, and then glances at him. "I am pleased that you are pleased with it, Master. Those whom you have purchased it from are quite pleased by their new situation as well."

"I have found that forgetting aids only in repeating past mistakes," Will replies, still studying the piece with great interest. "I will never stand aside from memory, no matter how painful." He takes another swig of the synthetic in his hand, before releasing a real smile. "You keep a care of those particular people?" he wonders. "The descendants of some of the household are well-established in Iowa."

« To each their own. » This sent through the bond they seem to have, that has become stronger now that she has appeared in the area. A bond she thought long forgotten. Isobel deals with the past in her own way, preferring to dwell on those that are her ancestors, than the woman who could have made her into a menace. "They are…" She struggles over the word a little, but finally manages to say, "… family."

« Good. Thou hast remembered the skill. » Finally done for the moment with the ruined Aberdeenshire, Will leans back into the couch. "Until there is a suitable place for showing it, I shall entrust the safety to you. Family is a strong word. Truth be told, Isobel, you are the closest to a blood relation I have."

"A strong word, yet true. The blood of my blood still flows within their veins. I enjoy meeting them, and if I deem them worthy I watch over their line." Though she has not done that for many years, she still knows where each descendant of her familial line is within North America. His words seem to shock her a bit. A rare look of surprise crossing over her expression. "Did you truly believe me to be dead?" The painting, meanwhile, is carefully being rewrapped for it's journey back upstairs.

"Do they know what you are?" Will asks, mostly curious to see if she has a similar relationship as he does to the Iowan farmer Grants. Another swig, and his eyes drift, settling somewhere over the entrance. "I was told you were dead, and had no reason to doubt it. Once I came to the Americas, I concluded that the most likely outcome was that she had killed you out of jealousy. It seems now I should have researched it somewhat."

"No," Isobel replies. "I thought it best to keep a bit of distance, lest I be tempted to save one the way I myself was saved." As the final piece of brown paper is put back into place, she uses the slightly sticky piece of tape to close it off. "They think me a benefactor, nothing more. Though I am quite certain that over the generations they each remember a woman of nearly my description." Thus, they can likely piece it together themselves.

"There was a time that I did wish she had killed me. You could have put your mind easily at rest, and I would not have had to force myself to remain alone for so long."

Will closes his eyes again, drinking in the apparently unending repeat of Beethoven at his most poignant. "A reasonable course, for I have been asked to do that very same more than once, though have never done so."

A weary look, even a twist of sadness flutters across his face. "I am glad she did not. You realise that you are the only one I have made? There has been none who match my belief, and it would be a sorry case were I to be as I am having never done so."

Having rewrapped the painting fully, she moves just enough to lean it against the wall for now. No harm will come to it at the moment, as it appears that only the two of them are present in the house. Isobel ensures that it will not fall, then turns back to him. "I had a Child once. So very different from myself and my beliefs." The first she has ever told anyone of this portion of her past.

"You say had," Will replies, understanding implicit. "Did you know them long?"

"He lived one hundred and sixteen years. In the end, I was unable to save him from final death. He gave himself to save me." Isobel clasps her hands together, holding them neatly in front of her. "Longer," she says, "I suppose, than I knew you."

"A noble way to end," Will replies, simply. "You made him for love, then, if he were so different in belief. Fate schemes dark, poetic tragedy for the long-lived." As if quoting someone else there. Will looks briefly towards Isobel, the lack of eye contact unusual for the vampire so normally direct and forward. "I do, I believe, regret never having met the man."

To tell the truth, or withhold it. Isobel struggles internally a moment, then looks her Maker directly in the eye. "Companionship and nothing more. He was my guide through the Canadian wilderness for five years, keeping my body safe until nightfall, acting as my food source when I could find no other. He was turned as a reward for his services, and because I was so lonely that I sought another like me to have as a companion." It would seem she cannot bring herself to outright lie to him.

"Lonely?" The word sparks dry interest in Will. "A strange emotion, suffered not by many of us. Perhaps you stand closer to humanity than most." His eyes close again, breaking eye contact without looking bored, again unusual for him. His head leans back against the couch. "You do not tend to the nest, do you?"

"One cannot be a part of something one does not know," Isobel states. "The only nest I can ever claim to being part of was with /her/." One which she was kicked out of. "The majority of my time has been on my own, partially out of fear that I would become like her were I to create a Child, and partially out of the necessity of remaining hidden."

"She was a narcissistic, jealous, compulsive manipulator. Beautiful, charming, an incredible woman with a few deadly flaws," Will says, levelly. Eyes still closed. "I would advise against a true nest; a child is no real problem for the strong of will, but more is dangerous."

"Yet this…" Her arms spread wide, as though to encompass the house. "This, Master, is a true nest. One of which you are the head. An entire city which you must care for, nurture, and take responsibility for." Isobel steps toward the couch, still not coming too close to him. Unimposing. "You cannot do it alone." Recalling the other woman upstairs, she grins. "You have a penchant for blondes."

"No," Will disagrees, "for I am not sinking into the depravity of a nest." There is a certain element of depravity, of course, of murder and chaos and blood and destruction, but that is merely to maintain control. Of course. Lids lift, and Will looks up at her, a dark gleam of undefinable origin settling somewhere behind his eyes. "Are you offering help, or challenge?" he wonders, not without a sinister humour. "Blondes may, perchance, be the weakness so long sought for by my foes. We should maintain secrecy on that front."

"Help," Isobel says, her voice returning to it's typical neutral state. Help, for the time-being. "I would stand little chance against you, Master. I am not so naive as to believe otherwise." Nor is she that diabolical. "It will be most difficult for you to keep two blondes in secrecy." Not an ounce of jealousy in her voice. "Erica, I believe her name to be, is worried that you have chosen me to replace her. You may wish to let her know differently - that for now I am merely a guest."

Will let's the dark gleam fade away, a delicate reminder of his self-control, such a paranoid little man he is. "Then you shall stay for a while?" he asks, suddenly pleasant. "It would be good to have a trustworthy ally other than Erica, mortal as she is and thus only protected by my word." He discards the bottle in his hand to the table, attention flicking up towards the stairs for a moment. "She serves well, and with an attention to detail rare in a human; she dreams of one day being one of us. I shall inform her."

That explains it. The woman expects to be turned. "Then I shall be wary around her, as she may just believe she has claim to you." No frown, no worry, just pragmatism. "I have requested that my offices be moved to the Dallas chapter for the time being. I shall stay until you no longer wish me in your city." Isobel turns toward the stairs, simply asking, "Shall you? Turn her one day?"

"She has yet to convince me that she would utilise the gifts to the good, rather than the selfish," Will tells her. Turning now, he stretches out on the couch again; a deliberately relaxed posture evident. "We shall alter one of the downstairs rooms to your tastes, and barring any unfortunate events it shall be a happy association. I do not require you to refer to me as master, you realise, at least in private. Such archaic formalities will serve little purpose."

"As you wish, Valentine." Isobel bows her head, somewhat reverently. "I shall be more than happy to pay for any necessary renovations and decoration, and will have my things sent from the hotel before the night is over."

A hand waves away the suggestion. "Find a professional who can safely hang the picture there," pointing, "without any fear of degradation and it will serve an adequate price for the work," says he. "In public, your deference may prove a useful tool in the arsenal. Now, I should begin my vigil over the institution."

Isobel already has her phone out as he says that, though she quickly slips it back into her pocket. "I shall bring the painting down to your rooms for the time being, and then be off to find sustenance for the night." After a moment, she makes a little bow. "Should you need my assistance, Valentine, simply call and I shall be there posthaste."

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