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|A Rose, by any other Name...; One-shot post, no reply.|
|Topic Started: Wednesday, 8. August 2012, 14:10 (111 Views)|
|Caston Kane||Wednesday, 8. August 2012, 14:10 Post #1|
False Face Must Hide What The False Heart Doth Know
(Disregard for now, editing this, please see next post)
Edited by Caston Kane, Thursday, 9. August 2012, 10:29.
"Stealing drugs? Girl, where do you think we are? This ain't Compton!" - Caston Kane to Sloane Carraway
|Caston Kane||Thursday, 9. August 2012, 08:24 Post #2|
False Face Must Hide What The False Heart Doth Know
Caston was showered and changed after the fight at the Red Fang bar, and only slightly upset that he ruined one of his favorite jackets on his first night out in London. Vitae isn't a substance that comes out in the wash once it gets on clothing. It was an interesting experience, to say the least; as far as he could tell, the kine had cleared the place before the fight began, and no human saw them... at least none that he knew about. Still, he sat at his laptop, refreshing the website for BBC News every few minutes, hoping that a potentially masquerade-breaking headline wouldn't appear. It had been over an hour and a half since he'd arrived back at his Portobello Road apartment, and the site was still clear of any mention of anything odd or abnormal. Breathing a sigh of relief, he took a last sip of the B- blood bag that he grabbed from the refridgerator - his last one, left over from the ship he used to cross the Atlantic. It wasn't at all satisfying; it was nearing its "expiration date". but it would do for now.
A thought crossed his mind. Caston leaned forward and reached for his jacket that was laying on the coffee table, fishing in the pockets until he pulled out some crumbled up paper. He smoothed it out: It was the religious pamphlet that Aleksei was handing out, the Tzimicse he encountered earlier and the only reasonable Sabbat vampire he'd ever met. Something about Aleksei fascinated the Toreador.. he was attractive, for a Tzimicse, even though his appearance could theoretically be anything he wanted it to be. Still, the lack of horns or scales or other grotesque features made him appear almost-- no, not almost, he did appear normal. Caston read through the pamphlet, silently questioning why a Sabbat would be passing out materials with a message from a human religion. At the very bottom of the back page was an address to a church, and he wondered for a moment if perhaps it was possible that Aleksei was involved with this place, somehow. He typed the address into Google, and found the church's website; it was Anglican, and located in Hackney. Being so new to London, Caston had little idea where Hackney was, but still, if he ever felt the impulse to find this Tzimicse in the future - for whatever reason - this seemed like as good a place to start looking as any. However, this would have to be a 'tomorrow night' endeavor. Looking at the clock on his laptop, he just realized he was very, very late...
Caston's entire purpose for coming to London was predicated on a request from an old friend of his: The Toreador Primogen, Adrienne Rathmore. She was an Ancilla, born during the Stuart period in England, and Embraced at the same age he was. They first met at the Toreador Carnivale, which is a weeklong clan event that takes place once every 23 years. It was a grand festival, indeed. Anyone who was anyone was at the Carnivale; the greatest art of the clan was showcased, festivities and celebrations were everywhere, and the social leaders of the clan from around the world mingled with one another. The highlight of any Carnivale was the selection of one mortal whom the Toreador as a whole considered to be the greatest artist of the generation - without the human's knowledge, of course - and before the week ended, whomever was selected would be found and brought in, and then Embraced into the clan.
It was 1959 in New Orleans, and Caston first met Adrienne when she took a liking to one of his paintings that he was fortunate enough to be permitted to display, and they hit it off almost immediately. At the climax of the Carnivale, when the time came to choose which artist would be given the gift of immortality, there were a handful of contenders, but after a few rounds of voting the final two that emerged were Bettie Page, a model and pin-up girl, and Buddy Holly, a young singer-songwriter who was an early pioneer of rock and roll. Adrienne and Caston were in agreement that Mr. Holly was the best choice, but the eternal debate over which one was a true artist (a classic, if unending debate in Toreador society) divided the clan sharply. It was the first time Caston was able to exercise his political skills and he began whipping votes among attendees. Promises were made, money and favors were exchanged and called in, and the selection was going to be neck and neck... After the final vote was taken, Buddy Holly was the victor, receiving 4,680 votes to Bettie Page's 4,189 (his Embrace was skillfully covered up by a "plane crash" in Iowa a short time later).
However, there was a different sort of politicking required now - the clan began to move against Adrienne; she found herself growing out of style with the London Toreador. The clan was becoming voiceless, disorganized; and knowing that she would soon be challenged for her position as Primogen, she contacted her old friend Caston to help her retain her seat and keep her power. As Caston was looking for any reason to get out of Los Angeles (after getting himself into a bit of trouble), he gladly took her up on her offer. It was the perfect excuse that he needed to relocate to England and get the hell out of California.
That's where he was headed, tonight.
On this particular night, the meeting was being held on the top floor of the Darkly Decadent nightclub, which Adrienne had reserved for the occasion. She was elated when she saw Caston's face.
"My old friend!" She exclaimed, wrapping her arms around his neck. "My dear, it is so wonderful to see you. I certainly hope you're settling in nicely?" She took him by the arm and began to walk him toward a hallway, away from the other Toreador who were caught up in their own conversations. She wore a radiant smile that he could tell was as fake as can be.
"Of course," Caston replied. "Thank you again for helping me fund my move here."
"Oh, sweetheart, it was the least I could do."
He nodded. "So, how do you think you'll--"
"One second." She said curtly, obviously waiting until the pair walked out of earshot of the others before continuing that part of the conversation. "If you're asking me how I believe I will fare in tonight's vote, I fear that this might be my final night as the Toreador representative on the Primogen council."
Caston gave her a stoic look. "Now, that I don't buy." he said. "I know you rather well, I know what you're capable of, and you molded this clan into a powerhouse here. I can't possibly believe that they're about to throw you out."
She gave him a reserved, but sullen look. "All of that was a long time ago, Caston. Times have changed. I've changed. The leaders of the guilds and nearly all of our clan, it seems, wants a brand new direction. That's why I've asked you here." Adrienne nodded in the direction of a tall, handsome male just walking in the door. He started shaking hands and kissing cheeks as soon as he entered.
"Who is that?" Asked Caston, folding his arms, judging him silently.
"That's Peter Collier. He's the one who wants to take my place. He's selfish, sadistic... he would split the clan apart if it got him what he wanted. He would be a complete disaster for us. That's why I need your help to keep my position, Caston: Peter Collier must not be allowed to ascend to the Primogen council. It cannot happen." Adrienne was uncharacteristically adamant. Caston looked at her, and for the first time he saw worry in her eyes. Not worry for herself or for her own prestige, but worry for the future of the Toreador. She put a hand on Caston's shoulder, and gave him one, simple order: "Win this for me."
For 45 minutes, Caston shook hands, kissed cheeks, and complimented complete strangers. They found him incredibly interesting - after all, he had just arrived in London from America, and he wasn't the worst looking vampire in the room. He was their shiny new toy. Perhaps playing on the fickle nature of the attendees was part of the reason Adrienne called him there. Maybe she knew how they'd react to him and wanted to use that to her advantage. What she wasn't counting on was her own deep unpopularity. Everyone Caston spoke with had a gripe about something: 'The clan isn't doing enough', 'The clan is doing too much', 'She's too close to the Prince', 'She's not liked by the Prince', the litany of complaints went on and on and on. Still, everyone was very interested in Caston himself. He didn't precisely get why...
He met up with Adrienne back in their hallway a few minutes before the meeting was about to begin. "You've earned yourself quite a reputation, my dearest," she said, winking at him. "You're the name on everyone's lips, tonight. An attractive foreigner and a fresh face all at once; I wouldn't be surprised if you're the leader of this clan one day." She smiled at him, but Caston looked unhappy. "What's wrong?" She asked, her normally jovial attitude quickly changing to one of concern.
"I have some bad news," he said. "You have support, but not enough. It's 91-59 in favor of Collier. You don't have the votes to win... I'm sorry. I really don't know what to say..."
She looked at him blankly for a few moments, unblinkingly. The two stood in silence, the sound of conversation from the main room lingering around them, reminding them of the impending vote. "I'm really about to be beaten by that loathsome, self-serving weasel? They actually want him as their Primogen?" She whispered. Caston could practically feel the venom in her voice as she spoke of Peter Collier.
"Actually, they don't like him much either," he replied, matter-of-factly. "From what I gather, he has spent the past year making accusation after accusation against you, spreading rumor upon rumor, that it's not that our clan actually wants him to win - far from it, they don't - it's just you that they don't want to see retain your seat."
"Those rumors are false!" She practically hissed at him. He put a consoling hand around her shoulder.
"Of course they are. You know that, and I know that. But... there's nothing that can be done about that at this point. The vote is minutes away." Caston embraced her in a gentle hug.
"What do I do now?" Adrienne asked, sadly.
He kissed his old friend on the forehead and stepped back. "You get out there, with your head held high, and you lose with dignity and grace." That remark caused Adrienne to show a small smile, albeit a defeated one.
After a brief pause, she placed a hand on his cheek. "Thank you, Caston. I know you did your best."
He nodded. "Collier is a horrid candidate, but the clan has made its choice... We're just going to have to live with it."
Adrienne looked away for a moment, attempting to resign herself to the outcome. Suddenly, a curious look came over her face, as though she had an idea.
"Maybe," she said softly. "Maybe not. If I can't win, then maybe someone else can..."
Before he could reply, she walked passed him, into the main room, and prepared to start the meeting.
Adrienne stood up from her chair with grace, which was located on a stage where a band would be situated on a normal night. She nodded to the doorman, who politely asked the human staff of the nightclub to leave the room (they were under the impression that the 'Society for the Ethical Treatment of Dogs and Cats', which is the guise the clan adopted for the evening, conducted closed-door meetings), and locked the door behind them when they did.
"My fellow Kindred," Adrienne began. "I've called this gathering because it has come to my attention that many of you are unhappy with the current state of the Toreador. I have always believed that our clan is strong, and growing stronger every night, and that we are on a wonderous path as we progress further into this new decade. That said, there have been repeated demands for a vote on a new Primogen to represent us to the rest of the city and to the Camarilla. I came here tonight to state my intention to stand before you, once again, for election to that post - Additionally, I understand that Mr. Collier has also declared his own candidacy in the matter. I called this vote because I firmly believe that in order for the Toreador to flourish, we must stand behind our Primogen, and our Primogen must stand behind us. I wanted tonight to be an affirmation of that concept..."
As Adrienne spoke, Caston felt bad for her, though he was proud of his old friend for what she was doing. Not everyone can stomach losing something to someone else with their chin up.
"However, I hereby declare that I have chosen not to stand as a candidate." The air in the room was nearly sucked completely out as a loud gasp escaped everyone's lips. Even Collier had a look of shock and surprise on his face. Yet more surprising was when she pointed out into the assembly, in Caston's direction, in a completely unexpected move. "To stand in my place, I choose to nominate Caston Evan Kane of New York, the newest addition to our Toreador family here in London, to replace me as your Primogen."
Shock overcame him, and he was numb. On its face, it was a brilliant political move, one that surely might be transcribed in the annals of the Toreador as a keen strategic move. It might even save her legacy as Primogen. On the other hand, it could backfire easily. Collier could easily win the vote and if he did, Caston's reputation in London would be forever tarnished, even before he was done unpacking his belongings on Portobello Road. To a Toreador, reputation was like gold, and without it, one was worthless. The same held for if he refused to stand as a candidate - not only would he be known as a coward who backed away from an opportunity, but he would betray one of his oldest, closest and most cherished friends. To be a leader in the Camarilla was always an ambition of his, and he expected to make a power grab for himself in the future; but he didn't believe that it would happen so soon and outside of his control.
He had no choice. He had to do it: Giving Adrienne a nod, he confirmed it. He was to be a contender for Primogen.
No sooner as he did that did Peter Collier stand up, a politician's smile draped across his face. He was about to make his pitch to the clan. "My friends, I would like to be the first among us to thank Primogen Rathmore for her service to the Toreador, to the Camarilla, to our city, and to us. Truly as graceful and beautiful a leader as we could ask for."
Caston grimaced. What a liar! He was the one who started spreading rumors about her being unfit to lead in the first place!
Collier continued. "But now is the time for a new direction. I have aspired to be Primogen since I was first turned as a young apprentice blacksmith in Glasgow almost one hundred fifty years ago. These nights, the Toreador are in disarray. Kindred of the Clan of the Rose are leaving this city one by one, and the Sabbat threaten our very existence. If we are to continue as a clan, then we must take a completely new direction, and to do that, we need a new Primogen. Our current leader, as splendid as she is, is not leading us well. You have all heard the... stories. Now, I dare not proclaim them to be true or untrue, but we simply must have a Primogen we can be confident in. Yes, my clanmates, I will lead us into a bold, new future. I will not let you down, and I will not diminish the reputation of the Toreador as Primogen Rathmore has."
Caston stood up to interrupt him. "But you're not running against Primogen Rathmore anymore, Mr. Collier," he said. The attendees began to whisper as they watched Toreador politics play out before them. "Now that you don't have your scapegoat to compare yourself to, you have to stand on your own merits."
Collier gave him a patronizing smile, but Caston could see right through it. He knew he'd hit a nerve. "Young man," the tall vampire said. "I know you are rather new to London and perhaps you do not yet fully understand the implication you are making. I have nothing but respect for our Primogen, indeed she is the epitome of beauty and--"
"You know, back in America, we have a word for what you're doing: It's called pandering." Caston interrupted.
Collier shot him a nasty look. "What I mean to say is that where she has failed, I will lead."
"Yes, I heard you the first time," the younger Toreador responded. "Although you fail to mention what your plan is."
"Excuse me?" Scoffed Collier.
Emboldened by a sudden feeling of confidence, Caston continued. "You talk a lot about the failures of Primogen Rathmore, and you make bold statements like: 'Where she brought us down, I'll lift us up', and all of that," he said, imitating Collier's lofty Scottish accent in the most mocking way possible. "But you never say exactly how she let the clan down, and furthermore, you haven't offered us any specifics on what you'd do differently. Do you even have a plan, or are you standing for election on the basis that you should be Primogen simply because you don't happened to be named Adrienne Rathmore?"
The Toreador in attendance were hanging on every word, watching the debate with earnest.
"Mr. Kane," Collier spoke, condescendingly. "Surely you must have heard the rumors surrounding our Primogen. It speaks volumes of her leadership if she cannot put them to rest and keep control of her own reputation."
"Oh, yes, I've heard them. You know, the funny thing is, they all seem to contradict each other," Caston slowly walked toward his opponent, though he was directing his remarks at the room as a whole. "And isn't it such a serendipitous coincidence that as soon as these rumors reach their fever pitch that you start calling for the selection of a new Primogen? A position, as I understand it, you've always wanted? Damn, man! Christmas must have come early for you this year."
The Scottish vampire said nothing in return to Caston, and the crowd's whispering was growing louder. People were starting to doubt Collier.
"It's almost as if those 'rumors' were put out there simply to make her look bad enough so that an ambitious Kindred could replace her... I wonder how our clan would react if that turned out to be what actually happened and I wonder how it would look for the hypothetical Kindred in question... He probably wouldn't look too good, would he?" The American said.
Collier was visibly angry. "That is an UNACCEPTABLE accusation!"
"I never said I was talking about you, Mr. Collier... Now, why would you assume you were the one I was referring to?" Caston knew he had him, right then and there. He turned and addressed the entire assembly. "Fellow Kindred, I did not expect to be nominated for Primogen tonight nor was it an ambition of mine any time soon. Perhaps that's what this clan needs right now - someone who isn't in it for the power. Someone who is in it simply to serve his fellow Toreador and the Camarilla and do the best job he can. You've heard Mr. Collier make his case, and he seems to believe that because our current Primogen is unpopular that he should succeed her simply because he's not her. He's given you platitudes and slogans without actually giving you ideas or a plan. He's been in London long enough, so tell me, what exactly does he plan to do with this position should he get it? ...Does anyone know? Anyone?"
The room was silent. Caston continued. "Mr. Collier himself said that the Toreador need a brand new direction - Well, I'm brand new. What this clan needs is someone who isn't already deeply intrenched in the political games of this city; someone who can approach the position from an objective point of view, and truly move us forward. When I say 'us', I mean all of us. No one gets left behind. If that's the kind of future you want, then with pride and humility, I ask you for your vote for Primogen - because I know that together, we CAN do this."
After he was done, many in the room erupted in applause, including Adrienne. Collier looked furious, and immediately spun around to confer with his lackeys. Caston stood there, silent, taking this moment in: He'd said his piece, he'd given it the best shot he could. With his reputation on the line, it was now in the hands of the clan.
The votes were written down on small pieces of paper, and collected into a large golden bowl next to the Primogen's chair on the stage. As they were being counted, Caston sat quietly in his seat, staring at the floor, completely zoning out. If his heart were still beating, it would be beating right out of his chest. He wasn't sure just how much time had passed - perhaps ten minutes, maybe twenty. His trance-like state was broken only by the sound of Adrienne's voice. She was standing solemnly in the center of the stage, holding the results in her hands in a crimson red envelope.
"May I have your attention, please!" She declared over the hustle and bustle of conversation. The Toreador in attendance began to simmer down and take their seats. Caston mused that the entire scene reminded him of a Hollywood award show. "My fellow Kindred, before I read you the result of the vote, I would like to say that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve you as your Primogen."
Collier and Caston exchanged looks with one another. The younger Toreador wasn't quite sure how to read his expression... perhaps he was as anxious as he was.
"Our nominees for Primogen were Mr. Peter Willard Collier, originally of Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom..." The room applauded. Caston tried not to take it as a sign of anything to come; it was customary among the Toreador to applaud all candidates before the declaration of a winner. "...And Mr. Caston Evan Kane, originally of Brooklyn, New York City, United States of America." Relief overcame him as he received the same level of applause.
At what seemed to be a snail's pace, Adrienne slowly opened the red envelope, looking at the piece of faded parchment in front of her, upon which was written the name of the victor, and possible, the fate of the clan's future itself. Both Caston and Collier sat in their seats, still as stone statues, their eyes fixed on Adrienne. The younger contender, to ease his mind, began mentally counting the seconds, "one.......two.......three.......four.......five.......", waiting for the declaration. He closed his eyes. He didn't dare look at her, for fear that her initial reaction after reading the result might be a negative one, which one instantly confirm that he lost.
Adrienne spoke. "Now, for the results..."
He couldn't detect any hint of emotion in her voice, one way or the other. This was maddening. Time appeared to stop. The next few seconds that passed would determine Caston's future, not only in London, but wherever he went, for decades to come. A loss would be a critical blow to his future.
"Peter Collier, 71 votes..." She paused for a moment that seemed like an eternity. "Caston Kane..... 79 votes."
The room erupted with cheering and applause, and Caston's eyes shot open. He could feel the Toreador sitting around him patting him on the back with quite a bit of force, but he dared not move. Did that just happen? Did he just win? He looked up at Adrienne, who was smiling, and gesturing for him to join her on the stage. He looked around at the faces of his clanmates. Most of them were smiling; some smiles were genuine, others were fake, but seeing them all brought a grin to Caston's face. He got up, the moment washing over him, and walked up onto the stage and stood next to his old friend.
Adrienne smiled at him. Even if she would no longer be Primogen, she prevented Collier from stealing her seat out from under her. If she was to relinquish her position on the council, she was glad it was Caston that was replacing her. She took a small metal lapel pin off of her ebony top -- a red rose, the symbol of the clan. It was what the Toreador Primogen wore when conducting official business -- and pinned it on the collar of Caston's dark denim jacket. Leaning in to kiss him on the cheek, she whispered only one thing in his ear: "Congratulations, my dearest, and remember..... Don't fuck it up."
They both turned and faced the assemblege, as Adrienne proclaimed, "My fellow Toreador, I present to you, your new Primogen, Caston Kane."
(OOC Edit: This is my attempt to seamlessly incorporate Caston's appointment to the Primogen Council with his existing biography.... I hope you all like it =] )
Edited by Caston Kane, Thursday, 9. August 2012, 08:57.
"Stealing drugs? Girl, where do you think we are? This ain't Compton!" - Caston Kane to Sloane Carraway
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