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World of Darkness: Attrition - She Who Interferes With A Raven... (FIN)


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August 3rd, 2011

Being a person of two minds, bodies and souls- one human and the other animal, you find so many contradictions in Man's world. The breeze is pouring in through the window so comfortably against my hair and skin while I look over the laptop and the e-mail messages there. At one hand, the device is the work of the Clever Monkey, with so many uses available to it and everything that flows outward in a derivative fashion. But then again, the metals, so many of them dug out of the earth get wasted and are sheer contaminants.

And the sheer volume of electronic waste dumped every year makes me shudder at the thought. Still, I bring my mind off of it and handle my daily work of procuring money for my needs. Fact is, though I shift into Primal Raven form in ease and secrecy from here or on the building roof and pick up insects and the like to supplement my diet, I need the place for a nest of sorts and a place to watch over my territory in Mar Vista. Rats won't make legal tender for the landlord, that slutty bitch. (I can smell all the scents of the men she's 'had a business meeting' with in her office. Last count makes thirty-three.)

Well, given that Man is a greedy pig- and no offense to the pigs on the farm meant now- it's simply naturally that one would exploit that greed to their benefit. And since there's little else for me to have what I want... you get the idea.

Currently, I made a fake, picturesque but disposable website moonlighting as a discount seller of homemade jewelry. Valuable enough to make a price tag sizable though still scrawny compared to the pirates in department store uniforms and suits. I stare intently at the screen, as the arrangements are made to fleece another sheep.

Honestly, there's a good reason you won't find a were-sheep among the Changing Breeds. This man is Brad Tolliver, a wealthy college student according to a little double-checking at UCLA once he made his interest known. The meeting is in two days at a local bar. The transaction made. I'll get the dough, and with a little magic and trickery of mine...

Hey, he'll get a stone. It won't look so good an hour or so later... but that's whim and fate, ain't it? I burst out laughing at the thought, breaking into a full-blown cawing that has O'Keefe next door saying that I should get her family cold cure recipe.

Fuck her.

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August sighed and looked at Brad again. He was a nice guy, if a little dumb. No, she corrected herself, not dumb. He just didn't have a lot of common sense. "You're meeting him at Amphoria why?" she asked, tipping up her beer just enough to drink a sip.

"This is where he wanted to meet," Brad said, giving her a smile. Yep, he was a nice guy, rich, he kinda liked her... and he was utterly boring. August had met a hundred guys like him. He was sweet and nice; he wore Ray-bans because everyone else did and gave to 'Save the Dolphins' because everyone had told him he should and ate mostly vegetarian because he'd been told by everything that it was healthier... So far, August had yet to see a thought that originated from him instead of through him.

"So a jeweler wants to meet you in a bar?" August clarified. "Brad. Oh, Brad. It's hot. Whatever he wants to sell you, it's hot."

"No, he makes this himself," Brad assured her. He flipped up his own bottle enough to drain a decent gulp. "Totally legit."

"People don't discount their handmade jewelry, unless it was handmade in Taiwan. There's no profit in it," August insisted.

"Hey!" Brad called suddenly, waving. August turned to see who he was waving to; she was interested in this craftsman who didn't seem to value his work.

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Jeremy walked in, and as a Corvian was wont to do, glancing around with a craning head quickly at every little interesting thing that briefly caught his eye. And to be fair, many glinting glasses looked shiny and interesting. Of course, he altered his course, easily hearing Brad over the hubbub of the evening crowd. The excitement in his voice told it all. Sucker is ready for his new shiny.

Unfortunately, even as Jeremy meandered over seemingly distractedly towards his new 'client', he was well aware of August's presence. And this female friend of Brad Tolliver seemed a bit put out- the put out at blatant stupidity kind. She seemed to be onto him, so Jeremy ought to keep her distracted and unable to interfere.

"Hello, Mr. Tolliver." Jeremy announced as he approached with a hand out stretched. "Glad you came. And I see you brought a ladyfriend. Is the ring for her, by chance?"

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Brad’s grin said he wouldn’t be adverse to August taking a liking to it, but all he said was, “I plan to sell it. For a profit, you know?” The smile he gave Jeremy was guileless and August sighed. Brad really had more money than sense. Thank god he has friends watching out for him.

“So, Brad tells me you make this jewelry,” August said, taking another swig of her drink. “That must be hard work. I know I don’t have the creative energy for something like that.” She gave Jeremy a smile, one that left most men slightly breathless and scrambling for what they’d been saying. It didn’t have the same effect on bird-men – not that August had a clue. He’s either gay, utterly in love, or doesn’t like brunettes even a little, she surmised when her smile failed to have any effect. She kept in place as she said, “So bring it out. I wanna see this affordable beauty.” Her smile slipped into challenging as she added, “Maybe I’ll decide to buy something.” There was a glint of mischievousness in her eyes, too, as she took another sip of beer.

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Jeremy's appreciative smile a moment held a similar glint of mischief, making it clear that he certainly wasn't any of the three possibilities, but obviously able to hold his composure in the face of the dazzling look. "Pulling off these things require patience and skill. I have both in spades." Withdrawing from his pocket a small plain ring box, he placed it on the table.

At the moment, he decided that letting her stay might not be troublesome for him, as long as Tolliver went for it. "And," he said with a chuckle that for a moment sounded like a bit of quiet cawwing, "voila!" The top came off... and August saw a clean and round stone, but it was a stone, not jewelry well enough. How could such a con work, even on Brad, she wondered?

"It's beautiful!" Brad burst out, and suddenly August realized with a sinking feeling that Brad, whatever it was, seemed to be seeing something different than the stone she was. "Yes," Jeremy continued, the smooth salesman extraordinaire, "I wanted it to be worth every cent."

Now, with his determined interest perked at August, Jeremy added with a sweet voice and smile, "speaking of buying things and beauty, can I buy you another round over there?" indicating the main bar area with a hand. The glamor of his wild heart was in force now, and his look enticed her to fly freely, away from this fool...

Click to reveal..
Pearl of Great Price ended up with August winning, 1 sux tying Jeremy's 1 sux, but Brad is agreed to fail and thus is utterly convinced until the full hour of enchantment is over.

Manipulation + 3 Persuasion + 2 + Feral Heart 2 (Sweet Voiced Fiend cancels out Social Penalty)

Jeremy *rolls* 7d10: 3+6+9+8+2+6+3 = 2 sux

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August rolled her eyes, but getting another round did sound like a good idea. And this guy seemed smarter than Brad. August was no braintrust herself but she didn't like dumb guys. Not that Brad was dumb; he just... didn't think. He was a Nice Guy.

The guy walked her to the bar, signalling the bartender. August leaned against the bar casually, studying him covertly. "So," she asked casually, "you'll have to explain how you can make jewelry and discount it so steeply. Do you just factor material costs into your price? Do you give yourself a wage for your work or not? What's your secret?" Now she seemed more curious than suspicious.

Click to reveal..
August's Willpower vs Jer's 2 sux: Failure

Carver *rolls* 4d10: 6+5+1+1: 13

Using Wits+Empathy to get a feel for this guy: 2 sux

Carver *rolls* 6d10: 3+10+10+1+4+2: 30

     [Carver] 9:16 pm: Nice.     

Carver *rolls* 2d10: 7+3: 10

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As August observed the 'jeweler', she could notice that he had a sense of daring about him, as if taking on more experiences and challenges like here seemed to be his very nature of being. He also seemed to come off as very clever, and as he brushed his hair, about to answer her questions, it seemingly resembled a bird preening for a mate.

Of course, he wasn't smoking hot like the gardener she'd met a few days back... but there was a similar primal lure about him, beneath the clever knowing eyes, a joy de vivre that was attractive in its own right.

"A few things. I don't wax, heat or otherwise treat the raw gems I use... Only the raw gems like diamonds or otherwise that are still attractive in that form I use... and there are friends who pass on the raw materials at a discount."

"Now," he murmured speculatively... "what's your secret?" It didn't take a genius to know what he was talking about.

Click to reveal..
Manipulation 3 + Subterfuge 3 + Lies Specialty 1 + Cleverness Respect 2 (trying to demonstrate a convincing knowledge of gem work): 2 sux

Jeremy *rolls* 9d10: 2+1+10+3+2+5+10+1+5

Jeremy *rolls* 2d10: 2+3

Seperately, Carv and I agreed on a roll-off for Jeremy trying to seduce August.

Presence 2 + Persuasion 2 + Passion 1 (playing up that for the seduction roll): 2 sux

Jeremy *rolls* 5d10: 4+1+10+7+9

Jeremy *rolls* 1d10: 5

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Wow… uh… what a pickup line, August thought, keeping that smile in place. He’d gone from picking up a sell to picking up a girl. “Not enough sleep, too much stress,” she told him with a crooked grin.

“What kind of stress could someone like you have?” the man asked.

“I’m a grad student,” August said, spinning her drink around in her glass with the straw. “Cinematography. Lots of studying, before you ask. Just because it’s a hands-on career doesn’t mean I don’t have tests and papers and crap like any other student.” She flipped her dark hair over her shoulder. “But enough about me. What do you do when not making jewelry or selling it? Or better yet… what the hell is your name?”

Maybe she could convince him to leave Brad alone. If he was looking to butter her up, she might be able to use that. August couldn’t stop Brad when he put his mind to something, but she was going to try to help her friend.

Click to reveal..
As per the book, page 84, I’m giving August +3 dice. She isn’t the kind of girl to sleep with strange men she’s just met in a bar, he was trying to sell a piece of crap to her friend and he hasn’t closed that deal yet before he’s smoozing onto her. I think that’s fair.

August’s willpower roll: 2 sux

Carver *rolls* 7d10: 5+3+7+9+9+7+6: 46

Jer has no successes in his first ten minutes of banter.

For her return seduction, I gave her 1 dice since Jer is clearly interested in her and he started this. :P

August’s Seduction for the first ten minutes: 2 sux - Jer needs to roll his Resolve + Composure along with his equipment bonuses.

Carver *rolls* 6d10: 3+10+7+3+5+8: 36

Carver *rolls* 1d10: 7: 7

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"Jeremy." The man told her with a grin, yet something there suggested that this was his name after all. The challenge was interesting, but the bigger deal was getting the sale done, he knew, and 15 minutes at least had gone by. Only an hour's worth was in that illusion, so he allotted himself five to clear the sale and ten more to chat with August.

"Anyway," Jeremy continued as they were coincidentally alone again, "interests? Camping. Nature trips. Catching fish. And partying to be honest. It sounds like fun is a four letter world in film school is it? So boring prep for Hollywood."

Time to pull out his best, or else he might as well nest alone tonight.

Click to reveal..
Resolve + Composure: 2 sux - Jeremy resists.

Jeremy *rolls* 6d10: 5+2+8+6+1+10: 32

Jeremy *rolls* 1d10: 5: 5

Continuing Seduction for the next 10 minutes:

Manipulation 3 + Persuasion 2 + Passion 1 + Willpower Point 3: 2 sux - Jeremy is having rather bad luck tonight.

Jeremy *rolls* 9d10: 5+1+6+9+3+9+4+2+6

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“Mmm, outdoorsy type. It seems like I have bad luck in the outdoors. Though I can get with the partying. I’ve done a lot of that with my roommates,” August admitted. She noted that he was trying to swerve back to her and she let the topic ease back to her for a moment. “Oh, it’s fun. Or at least, I’m a camera nerd. So it’s not unfun for me. It is work; it’s just work that I enjoy – and that I want to spend my entire life doing.

“Also,” she murmured, “Hollywood isn’t boring, nor is its prep boring. Far from it. And there’s more places a camerawoman can work than just Hollywood. I’m willing to do that; I just don’t want to end up working in like Serbia or something.

“So you make jewelry, you like to camp and party, and you sell your stuff in bars,” August summarized. “You are… an only child of hippie parents. You cut roots from your family because you didn’t like living in the third-world in the first-world. But you can’t break away completely, which is why you go camping still. You learned to make jewelry from your mother, but she prefers to give it away as gifts rather than taint the beauty of it with money. That’s why you undersell – mother’s guilt. You sell in bars so that you can go straight to the party – or pick up girls off your mark. Speaking of… are you selling to me or to Brad? Because you seem to be playing me hard and him not at all.” She smirked at him, her eyes glinting mischievously. “He might be feeling neglected.”

“Well, I have good reason for distraction,” Jeremy said, giving her an once-over with his eyes.

“Or he might be walking away with the ring,” August replied.

Jeremy looked, saw he hadn’t moved and turned back to her. “He looks comfy to me. I’d rather talk to you.”

August just smirked as she rose and headed for Brad again. She looked at the ring, rather hoping it looked better than she remembered. It did not. “You’re really not buy that piece of junk, are you?” she asked.

“Why not?” Brad was smiling at her. “It’s gorgeous and worth the cost.”

“Brad, it’s a rock, and not the faceted kind.” August looked as frustrated as she sounded. “I don’t know what this guy thinks he’s doing, but he is trying to sell you a piece of gravel and he’s hitting on me. Can you stand the class?”

“August, I don’t know what’s wrong with you,” Brad said. His happy smile was gone as he said, “Why are you so opposed to this? This is a deal!”

“No, this is not any kind of deal! It’s a scam, and Jeremy a thief,” August said, her voice angry. “I don’t see how you can feel for this!”

Click to reveal..
I’ll roll on the Seduction later, after Jeremy has a chance to react to this.
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Under normal circumstances, Jeremy would be less than pleased at the insults and attitude of August. But Brad was in for it, and that was all that mattered in this situation. Besides, as the saying went, Raven never loses his temper.

"Do we have a deal then?" Jeremy asked smoothly, as if the outburst and August's opposition never occurred. Brad nodded gleefully, and as August watched, money exchanged hands between the two men. Brad then excused himself to the restroom, but not before Jeremy warned him, "Be carefully about showing it off. The pickpockets in this city are adept at their business."

When the two were alone again, Jeremy shook his head. "Your analysis was impeccable in flow, albeit completely inaccurate. Well, not completely inaccurate... I did cut ties with them rather quickly, though hippies they were far from being." He decided to cut off there, guardian of his Nahual secrets and the memories of the Storm.

"You probably have better memories of your mother and father than I do at any rate."

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“We’re not friends.” The statement was made bluntly, with August frowning at Jeremy. “Don’t act like we are after you sold one of my friends a piece of shit.” She rose from the table, snatching up her bag, her expression angry and hurt. “Brad’s not the smartest guy around, but he’s a good guy. When I thought I might lose my place last year, he was the first to offer me a spare room until I could find my own place. Yeah, I know he wants to sleep with me but so do you. At least he decided that the way into my pants was by being a decent person instead of some kind of con artist. It would take a special kind of whore to have sex with you after you did that. I suggest you go find one, they’re many street corners in LA.

“I don’t know how you convinced Brad that was some kind of important rock,” August added, the venom in her voice making its volume rise, “but he didn’t deserve to be abused like that. You took advantage of him, asshole. And someday, you’ll get your comeuppance for that.”

Spinning, she went deeper into the bar, heading for the bathroom. She’d get Brad out of here and home, be there for him when reality came crashing back in and he realized how he'd been fooled. Her green eyes practically burned as she shoved through the crowd, pissed beyond rationality.

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At that point, given the barrage and the dripping scorn in August's voice, Jeremy succumbed to the Fury, stalking his own way through the crowd. By normal human standards, one would say that Jeremy was despicable. But that was the words used by the caricature of an animal, Daffy Duck symbolizing the words of a loser.

Nature was impersonal. Nature killed and eliminated the 'good' and the 'bad' alike. And for that matter, it didn't matter how cute and innocent the baby seal was at the end of the day. It still got clubbed by the hunters. Human hunters, to be precise. For that matter, how could one call Brad Tolliver a good guy, with Jeremy's senses?

Offered her a place to stay? A way of gaining favor. It was absurd, by her own admission, his goal behind the behavior was getting her bent over for him. And if Jeremy had been a real craftsman? Tolliver would have sold, as he intended all along, simply for the money, as a commodity, never mind the consequences of mining and the human toll as well as natural... or gifted it to August as a butter up present.

Jeremy went out through the front door and worked his way into a side alley until he was plainly out of view. Then, he shrank, clothes advantageously melting into feathers, and hands becoming wings. Nothing but a raven at last, beating its wings and flying back towards the Amphora, where the two 'marks' would be heading home.

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It took an hour, but Brad seemed to get it in time. It was almost as if a spell had been lifted from him, because one moment he was admiring his new purchase, and the next he was staring in dismay. “But this… it was…” Brad said, his expression falling.

August’s heart broke a little at the look on his face. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, putting her arm around his shoulder. “I… Sorry.” There didn’t seem to be anything else she could say. ‘I told you so’ was pretty damned cold and there was nothing else she could offer. “Gonna call the cops?”

“No, I was an idiot,” Brad said heavily. He stared at the rock with the bit of wire twisted around it. Suddenly he moved, pulling it out of the ring box. He took August’s hand and slipped it over her finger. “There. Now it’s beautiful again.”

August’s jaw dropped as she stared at him. “Brad…”

“Have dinner with me. I know you don’t like nice guys, but give me a chance,” he told her earnestly. “Just one.”

“Alright,” August said softly. “Let’s do dinner,” she agreed, smiling at him.

“Awesome,” Brad grinned. “It’s worth every penny I paid, my good luck ring.”

They left soon after. Brad dropped her off at her house with a promise to pick her up Friday. August was smiling as she walked inside, staring down at the ‘ring’. He really is sweet.

It was the last time she saw him.

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Above the two, a raven perched on a telephone while heard and saw all. The action had not gone unnoticed and not forgotten. The Fury that had been there subsided with the added consideration of a thought, an age-old feral rule. Don't shit where you eat. This seemed to be a certain example.

Wings beat the air, and Jeremy headed for home.

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