Chapter XXIX: The Malkavian MansionThe cab pulled up at ornate iron-wrought gates on the far side of the city. Up in the hills, where the more prestigious members of society lived. It seemed it was much the same for the dead as for the living, at that. Stepping out of the cab, I looked up at the building. It seemed a typical mansion, if in an old style, large wooden slats built upon brick foundations. There was no indication that a vampire with a tenuous grip on reality resided within.
Closing the gates, I stepped onto the paving-stone path, considering whether there was any point ringing the doorbell. All thoughts of doing so vanished when a familiar presence left the building, closing the door behind him.
I frowned, puzzled. It was Nines! Or at least, it seemed to be. But I had seen Nines earlier, and unless he had a faster means of transport, I didn't know how he could get here ahead of me, and fast enough to have both entered and left the building. That was not all that was strange; rather than his usual wide-stepped, casual gait, moving like a hunting cat, this walk was more refined, more contained.
He stopped in surprise, looking at me with wide eyes as I stepped in front of him.
His voice was different too. Higher, and as if the words did not fall easily from his tongue. I looked at him, eyebrow raised, voice cautious.
'Hi Nines, what's up?'
'Uh...no!', he responded haltingly. This was definitely weird.
'Nines, that wasn't exactly a yes or no question.'
Without giving me a chance to speak, Nines walked off in that peculiar way, closing the gate behind him, beginning to run once he had cleared the gate. Shaking my head in confusion, I pushed open the front door, and stepped into the building.
The entrance hall was tastefully decorated, with a chessboard motif and atmospheric lighting. What was unusual was the woman facing the door. A hollow sound came from her mouth, covered by her hands. I could not tell whether she laughed or cried, and my attention rested more on the long bladed knife she held in her hand.
I walked up slowly, speaking slowly and firmly.
'Excuse me, can you tell me where Grout is?'
The noise stopped instantly. In trepidation, I took a step back, drawing my own knife. A wise gesture. The girl turned, revealing the source of the hollow sound. She wore a mask that wouldn't have been out of place in Silence of the Lambs, one which made by blood run cold. What in God's name was being done here? The woman lowered her head, hissing like an animal, and pounced.
Despite her manic attack, she was dispatched relatively easily. Only human, after all, I thought, cleaning the blade from where it had sliced her from navel to chin. Even if she was a goddamned psycho. I opened the door, revealing a cross-road like corridor. I felt disorientated, as if the building was larger inside than out, but dismissed it. In a world of vampires, in a world of vampires that weilded vast power but had mexican standoffs with themselves, such things as physical impossibility seemed positively relaxing. More masked people stood in this corridor, women with knives, men with clawed gloves. I allowed the bloodstar to work it's magic, heightening my strength and speed, running one girl through with my knife, taking hers and embedding it in the eye of one of the approaching men, before kicking the first off my knife to slash the throat of the one coming further. It was becoming an everyday occurence, this constant bloodshed, this constant duel at dead of night. If I could not say I was enjoying it, at the very least, I could say I was becoming proficient in it.
Grabbing the final woman as she approached, I held her arm behind her back, drinking from her, draining her dry. Dropping the body to the floor, I followed the corridor to my right.
I looked up at the precariously stacked furniture, unsure of the intent. If the builder had intended to create a barrier, he had failed miserably. Walking under the table, ducking slightly as I did so, I continued on, opening the door to a large library.
At the far end of the room, a masked man was pulling at a candlestick. As he did so, a metallic whirling was heard, like a series of cogs working against eachother, teeth digging in and rotating. Over that noise was the infantile, mindless laughing of the man. Sneaking up, I snapped his neck effortlessly, considering it an act of mercy. To myself to save me from the infuriating laughter as much as anything else.
On a small table rested an ancient tape recorder. Intrigued, I pressed play, and studied the candlesticks along the wall.
'My research into my vampiric condition goes on', intoned the scholarly voice. The speaker talked of his research, of his surprise to find out exactly what it was, and what had caused it. Mentioning he was a psychiatrist, he sought to determine whether the condition was psychological in basis. He then went off on a tangent, talking of other psychiatrists, and how upset he was that unfortunately he would not be able to publish his work under his own name as he had been dead for over fifty years. He finished by stating 'sorry Freud, but I don't think this case can be attributed to my childhood, my parents or my genitals'.
Pulling a series of candlesticks resulted in a chiming noise here in the library, and a noise from the corridor I had entered from.
The mechanism had opened the previously locked door at the other end of the hallway. Revealing more masked individuals, I used my abilities to stun them. This seemed to have a stronger effect on these people than usual. Could it be that the absence of any mind meant that emptying it was so much simpler? Pulling on another suspicious looking candlestick opened up a hidden stairwell leading up to a higher level.
This place is built like a fucking madhouse. You should avoid the Malkavians in future. I forced the voice down, continuing my search for Grout.
At the top of the stairs was some sort of attic area. I pushed open the door, wondering where it would lead me.
Continuing along the walkway, I entered a second part of the building that for some reason was inaccessible from the first. Slamming the door in annoyance on my way through, I ran down the spiral staircase, hoping to find Grout as quickly as possible.
No wonder he hasn't contacted anyone. He probably needs a map to find the front door!