The Dionysus Fountain in Vesper, is a nice place and not one that Megana Shadowcleft would normally frequent. Used by wealthy merchants and off duty civil servants, it’s upmarket and clean and relatively quiet. It’s a good place to meet a potential new client, who if Varos is correct, is a member of the Dogwood Nobility.
It’s about mid afternoon and the crowd is light. The entertainment that usually performs hasn’t yet. The crowd that is here are all here on business – meetings mostly.
It’s into this, that a tall, Asiatic woman walks through the door. She’s wearing a dark blue cheong-sam with a golden puma embroidered upon it and her hair is styled so that slightly pointed ears can be seen. Not such an uncommon sight in Vesper, really but in Dogwood? She definitely stands out.
She pauses at the door and looks around clearly looking for something or someone, her poise and control is notable.
Megana spent some time considering her appearance. Lli Chibt loves going to bars with her but this is not really the kinda place one should bring their demon familiar, and she suspects it’d be giving the wrong impression to this potential new client. Also, last time the two of them went to a bar together neither one of them was sober enough to make it back to Gran’s and the ended up in the second level of hell or something like it and oh man, you cannot unsee that shit.
So. The Shifter decided eventually on her Priestess garb, something the people who know her are only just becoming accustomed to. A sheer black dress that leaves nothing to the imagination covered by a black satin cloak, silver chain belt, dangling hoop earrings and daggers at her hips. Crushed velvet black slippers and silver glitter eye makeup. At Megana’s feet sits a round red animal with a thick hairless hide and way too many large teeth, eyes and claws. It has a pigs nose with a silver ring through it. It might be considered hideous by some but its not a demon and makes a good guard.
There is probably no tavern nor bar that Varos has ever not been to. He likes to change things up, and he likes to be unpredictable. But he knows he has his preferences, and he knows that when it comes to business, there are those more suited for such than others, depending on whom it is you intend to meet with.
And of course, one must dress for the occasion, although to most places he can get away with wearing his off-gray suit. The one he wears right now is the same color, but the coat fastens diagonally rather than the usual up and down, and has pewter buttons.
It doesn’t take him long to locate Natsuki as he finds himself in her vision, catches sight of her through the eyes of the patrons surrounding. He offers her a nod, gesturing that he would be a moment before he turns.
“Ah, Lady Shadowcleft,” he says as he comes upon the priestess Shifter, smiling. “-and company?” A brief ‘glance’ is cast down at the creature at her feet. She had not exactly been so difficult to recognize either. “It seems Miss Taniguchi is already here. This way, if you please.” He glances briefly at the bartender, a nod to signal some order of some sort, mouthing ‘for three’ before he offers Megana an arm to lead her over to Natsuki’s table.
“My dear Miss Taniguchi,” he greets amiably then. “I hope you were not waiting too long. My apologies to you both if I were the cause for delay, there were some last minute things I needed to see to at the shop.” He turns his head between them, smiling. “Miss Taniguchi, this is Lady Megana Shadowcleft, whom I mentioned might be able to help with your problem. And Lady Shadowcleft, this is Miss Natsuki Taniguchi, who has implored me to make a request of your services.”
The arrival of the Priestess of the Night gets Natsuki’s attention, her dark eyes dropping to the demon at the woman’s feet. The shock and discomfit doesn’t show, but Varos will certainly pick it up. It’s not quite fear, but it’s close. Given what he knows of Western Marches, that’s probably understandable. And, if rumours are to be believed, the Taniguchi property has seen a lot of attention from demons over the last twelve months.
Fortunately, Varos is there quick enough and the part-elf turns her attention to him, holding a hand out in greeting and even leaning in to kiss his cheek. “Mister Jenek, it is always a pleasure and you look as dashing as ever, of course.” The little demon gets another glance as she holds her hand out to Megana “Lady Shadowcleft, Mister Jenek hadn’t a Priestess of the Night. I am honoured to make your acquaintance. Please, will you both sit?”
She’s seen Varos gesture to the waiter and the visored man gets a quirk of her eyebrow.
Smiling at Varos, Megana rises and half bows to the Clothier before taking his arm. Her pet moves at her side, keeping right by the Shifter Priestess’s feet despite any visible means of control. It’s either very tame or very tightly bound at the moment.
“Greetings, Lady.” What? She does have manners. When she wants to. Besides she knows well how the Dogwood nobles can be, though Meg is more than a bit surprised to see the pointed ears. She keeps her expression on pleasantly neutral however. One brow does raise as Natsuki names her as a Priestess. It isn’t often she comes across someone new who recognizes her as one. It’s a rather pleasant surprise. “Thank you.” Meg gracefully lowers herself into a seat after reaching to pull out Varos chair. Manners again although perhaps the wrong ones this time? She’s clearly trying though. Her pet settles on its haunches next to her chair and closes all but one eye.
“You flatter me,” the visored clothier chuckles at Natsuki. He flashes her a bit of a mischievous grin at the curious look she gives him. Well, certainly they cannot have a meeting without drink, and he hopes they don’t object to his making the request for them.
He looks pleasantly surprised when Megana beats him to pulling a chair, smiling crookedly as he nods his thanks and takes the offered seat. Hearing the approach of one of the waitstaff, he turns as the felinoid comes into view, setting a tray down at the table and placing three glasses before them before picking up the tall, thin bottle. It’s a frosted clear glass, and after letting Varos inspect it, the felinoid than opens it for them and pours out an amber liquid with silvery notes that make it look like the wine glows even with the dimmest of reflection from the surrounding light. Varos nods his thanks and then looks back to the two women, picking up his glass. “-it doesn’t burn like the blue that I shared with you at the shop,” he promises Natsuki with a small chuckle.
“Of course I do, Mister Jenek. But that doesn’t make it any less true.” Natsu smiles, though he can still sense how wary of the demon-pet she is. As with everything though, she’s hard to read and to Meg, she is the picture of poise and charm.
“It’s just Miss, Lady Shadowcleft.” the part-elf smiles to soften the words. “My cousin is Lady Taniguchi and I am her Estate Manager, there is no title conferred upon me.” If Meg was surprised to see a part-elf, she should be even more surprised to hear that. A D-Bee, an obvious D-Bee, in charge of the Estate? Things like that are just never done. Or maybe they are.
As the wine arrive, Natsu watches as Varos checks it and its poured for them. His chuckle receiving one of her own “… the burn was quite … enjoyable…” yes, she knows what she said and how it sounds as she raises her glass to the other two “To a new alliance.” she toasts before taking a sip and closing her eyes in obvious pleasure. “It doesn’t burn, but it is delicious, Mister Jenek.”
When they’ve all toasted and drunk, Natsu looks over to Meg again “Mister Jenek told you I was looking for a mage to help with a project I have? Might I ask, what your experience with Rifts is like?”
Interesting opening, right there.
‘Ooooh.’ Megana’s thoughts burble happily at the drink and the Shifter’s lashes flutter in pleasure when she takes a sip. “This is lovely. Thank you.” She murmurs. She might drink cheaply more often than not but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate the good stuff.
Meg keeps the surprise off her face. She lived in Dogwood for a year once and has visited far more often than she’d like and only once has she come across something similar there. Her son and his father aren’t something she often talks or even thinks about though. Listening to Natsuki brings them to the back of her mind and the Shifter tucks the thought away for later.
It takes Meg a moment to answer and the corners of her lips turn up wryly. “Well. Fluffy down there isn’t just for looks. I’ve been Rifting since I was a little girl and I’m.. somewhat older than I look. I can open them, I can close them, I can take one or two through depening on what the environment on the other side is like. I’d a rest before a return trip though.” She can take herself without much effort but she’s connected and moving those who aren’t is a lot more difficult.
“I can also usually deal with whatever has come through, but if its like, an army that would obviously be a bit more difficult.” Also that doesn’t happen a whole lot that she’s seen. It takes a big rift and a lot of power. ‘Hehe an army tho, that would definitely be fun to try to take on alone…shit, hope she isn’t a thought reader. Don’t think that’s a super reassuring thought there is it.‘ Meg quiets her mind. She’s definitely interested in this job and any ideas she might have had before about taking over a mine have been set aside. For one she wants to impress Varos, secondly, she’s far less inclined to screw over a D-Bee than a human. Third, she needs a rep for getting the job done in a satisfied manner.
Varos seems pleased that the two approve of his wine selection. He grins just a bit at Natsuki’s comment before enjoying his own glass after they’ve toasted. “I’m glad you both like it.”
With Natsuki launching into business, the clothier nods and is content to sit and listen as he sips. There are things he’s heard of Megana, but he’s more interested in hearing about the things she can do from her own mouth. His brows arch behind his visor, quietly impressed as he smiles over his wine glass. While he isn’t particularly a mind reader, he can catch some of the emotion from the Shifter’s thoughts, suppressing a chuckle at her eagerness as she speaks about what might come through a rift. An army? Egads.
“I do very much…” the part-elf says to Varos, casting a quick glance in Megs direction “I haven’t delivered the coat to the Baronet yet, but I will be doing that in the next day or so. He took me to an Art Exhibition the other night. The man is so charming … I had no idea that he had an interest…” Again, Varos will get the sense from Natsu that she’s more than a little besotted with the Baronet.
That should most certainly surprise him, given her suspicions of not long ago. It should also, probably, alarm him.
“How goes your work with Miss Karenenova?” They should have been working together a lot over the last week or so. Varos can explain all that to Meg though, as the part-elf’s attention turns back to the Shifter Priestess.
“I’m not sure how much Mister Jenek has told you but I became the major shareholder of the Lucky Strike Mine. There’s a Rift there and the walls of the chasm the Rift has created are lined with jewels. I need the mine operational as soon as I can get it, which means I need the Rift closed.”
It sounds easy, doesn’t it?
“I’m not sure what information you need from me to be able to decide if you want the job…”
Megana’s gaze turns thoughtful. Of course it sounds easy, and that makes her more than a little suspicious. Things are almost never as easy as they sound in her line of work. She can think of one problem already, if there’s wee beasties or demons or D-Bees about, she’s gonna need them out of the way to work because it’s probably not gonna be a simple, just close the damned thing already if the gem walls are only there because of the rift. Sometimes they make such things when they open, sometimes they bring it from elsewhere.
“I think I need to see this before I can make any assurances but it sounds like something I can do easily enough.” Aside from some investigative work (she has to find out where that fucking armor came from) Her schedule is pretty much wide open at the moment now that she isn’t saving the worlds or fighting an army of undead. Oh how glorious that battle had been… too bad you can’t put “Saved the fucking Universe” on your resume and be taken seriously. “I’d certainly like to try anyway.” Megana smiles.
There’s an obvious frown on his face as he hears Natsuki talk about Baronet Trent. Varos pauses to take another sip. “Ah, I had rather hoped you would have sooner rather than later. It’s a wonder I haven’t heard anything from them for the delay since I had since sent word to mention that no pick up would be necessary since it would be delivered.” He smiles briefly. “Although that might be perhaps because the Baronet himself had not offered payment on the coat.”
A sigh follows another sip, and Varos idly swirls his glass as he considers how to answer the question regarding Anna Karenenova. “It goes,” he finally says, smiling tightly. “It seems she’s chosen the most purposely exotic materials she’s managed to find available within the city. I’m trying to find some sort of compromise between what she might want and expect and what I think would be tasteful and appease her. But I’ll defer to you in terms of what the ultimate look will be, since you will be the one wearing it.”
Oh, he really isn’t thrilled about working with the other fashion designer, not one bit.
Varos turns his attention towards Megana, smiling a bit. “I think the best way to get a proper idea of the situation is to see it for yourself. But of the things I’ve heard you’ve been involved in and have been able to do, I don’t think it would be nearly as troubling by comparison, Lady Shadowcleft.”
“Of course, Lady Shadowcleft. The Rift is still quite active though and there are … creatures … that come through it when we draw near. Or, at least, that was my experience the one time Mister Trent and I went to look at it. Dozens if not a hundred or more stone snakelike creatures chased us. They borrowed through the hills around the mine, quite banged my car up they did.” Natsu takes a moment to sip more of the wine, regarding Megana carefully “When would suit you to look? I would like to do this sooner than later.”
Varos gets an apologetic look “I had sent word I had it, Mister Jenek. But the Baronet had been busy and I didn’t think delivering at the Exhibition would be appropriate. But he will get it, I promise. I’m quite looking forward to meeting with him again.”
The sigh has Natsu tilting her head in the clothiers direction “I would be happy to look it over, of course, but I feel you know me well enough to know what will suit.” That might be true, but Karenenova wants to dress Natsu like a Fairy Princess. “And thank you for agreeing to do this.” They’d got a good business compromise from the woman.
‘Hehe.‘ Hard to tell what he’s heard about her but he’s not yet run away screaming upon seeing her so Megana thinks that’s a good sign. The conversation about the Baronet and the other fashion designer don’t really mean anything to Meg since she’s never met either but she tucks the info away in case she does. Varos tight smile does get her attention and her eyes narrow for a slight moment in response. She’s taken a liking to the Clothier and if something is displeasing him she wants to fix it. Meg’s aware her idea of “fixing” might not be very helpful though. “I’m good at…motivating…people.” She half grins at Varos, making the offer only serious if he wants to take it as such.
Meg blinks, recalling now that Varos did mention the stonesnakes and that she wants a couple of the things. “Right, hm. A hundred you say? Well. I’ve a few ideas how to take care of them but I definitely need to see first. I can be ready to go whenever you are.”
The smile he returns towards Natsuki is a polite one to mask his displeasure of the whole thing regarding the Baronet. He’s inclined to trust his gut on the matter and there were too many things that the man had mentioned in a first meeting to have been by pure chance. Even less so with what Natsuki had said of him.
His grin is more genuine when Megana speaks up in offer of ‘motivating’ people. “Your offer is so very much appreciated, my lady. I wouldn’t wish to trouble you on something so trivial. Besides, as aggravating as some of it may be, ’tis my business, so I guess I have to make do.” He laughs a little, glancing Natsuki’s way then. “I think Raksha’s got something down to work with for you, Miss Taniguchi, so I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.”
“Honestly, Miss Shadowcleft, I couldn’t say for sure, we were running and then driving, very fast. But there were a few.”
Varos’ polite smile gets a sigh from the part-elf, the first break in composure they will have seen. She won’t speak of the Baronet again, at least not yet. “Would you like me to drop by when we’re done here, Mister Jenek? I’d be happy to. I was just going to take in the sights of the city, I so rarely get the chance when I’m here.”
Her attention turns back to Megana. “If you have time then, perhaps we can go and look when I’m done with Mister Jenek. Then we can talk fees.”
‘I’ll bet.‘ Meg thinks in response to Nat saying she rarely get to take in the sights of the city. Vesper is pretty damned amazing as far as cities go and she’s seen more than most people ever imagine. People from Dogwood would usually rather set themselves on fire than see this place, at least in her experience. Megana wonders what the rest of the House Nat is from is like. Maybe she’ll find out.
“Sure thing.” The Shifter Priestess smiles at Natsuki and nods before turning to Varos. “Helping a friend is never trivial.” At least not for her. She can count on one hand the number of people who’ve considered her a friend in her many years and doesn’t need that to count the ones she’d considered such in return. “I’m sure you know your business though.” Meg pauses for a moment and stares off into space. ‘Yo what are you doin’..??‘ She waits for her familiar to answer then blinks, blushes and takes a sip of her wine before starting to cough violently.
“Dark Lady! That was dis-uhhh” She coughs again. “Sorry. I uh..oh.” What was she.. right getting ready to go.. “Yeah. I can be ready then.” She’s gonna hurt the little creep. Only the imp would probably enjoy it.
His own sigh is a quiet one, but he does nod at Natsuki. “If it would be no trouble. The sooner we get an approval, the sooner we can start piecing things together, and then the less badgering I will get from Miss Karenenova. -or at least, one can hope.” That does get an impish sort of grin as he turns his head towards Megana.
“I’m touched. But really, I think that this is manageable. I did agree to work with her on this project, so I’ll do it to completion. Ah, but don’t think I haven’t started work on your commission as well, Lady Shadowcleft. Raksha’s been making good progress on it. Perhaps by the middle of next week it should be ready for a fit…ting?” One would insert a blink whereas Varos, having his supposed eyes hidden by his visor, simply looks at Megana a bit awkwardly before she erupts into a coughing fit. “Er, Lady Shadowcleft…?”
“Not at all, Mister Jenek.” Natsu smiles. “I get to spend time with my favourite Clothier.”
Megan’s outburst has the part-elf looking at her in surprise “Is there a problem with your wine?” There’s little else to say now but finish the wine and be on their way.
“Sorry.” Megana apologizes again. “It was uh..an..inopportune moment to contact my familiar.” She shakes her head, working not to blush again. “But we’ll be ready to go, definitely. Meg says to Natsuki and then nods at Varos. “I’ll remember to stop by.” She smiles.
The Shifter is definitely looking forward to her new coat although she’s still privately a little dreading the fitting. Letting strangers so close to her person is not a normal thing for her and it’s a mark of how much she’s trusting Varos and his associates, though Meg hopes she’s done a good job of not letting that show. “The wine is lovely.” Meg hastens to reassure. Infact, maybe she’ll stay and splurge on a second glass while she berates Lli Chibt and Nat and Varos finish their business.
Well, that’s a sure way to ease a more genuine smile from Varos. “Well, then, how can I possibly say no?” he says to Natsuki before glancing in amusement at Megana. Probably not something to ask details on, given the woman’s reaction to whatever her familiar was doing. Instead, he opts to pour them all another glass, and at least it looks like they’ll be finishing off that bottle between them. Drink, business, and then…more business.