“So, he says that he was just trying to rescue his boss!” Shen clicked his tongue. “Poor guy. He must’ve been pretty messed up in the head, to need to send him to Dante.” He paused. “No offense, Olivia.”
Olivia shook her head. “None taken.”
They were walking from the car; one of Goodwin’s less conspicuous, to the event, an informal Elysium. Shen wore a shirt without a tie with his suit trousers and Olivia a comfortable jumper and jeans. The venue was a small private club on the west side of the city, and most of the other attendees looked to be ancillae or above. Olivia noticed the Prince enter with a pair of other Toreador.
“So why do you reckon they called this?” asked Shen.
“Don’t know. Harpies gonna harp I guess.” Olivia sighed, pushing the door open.
Cain stood at the center of the crowd, a sheaf of papers in his hand. His voice was level as he read. “And at seven fifteen am, the engines of the plane failed, and the plane crashed into the ocean. According to our sources, the passenger manifest matches that of the plane that embarked from Rome to Grimouth earlier this week, and there are no reports of survivors.”
Samuel and Isaac looked shocked, but the rest of the primogen were unreadable, implacable. The nosferatu shuffled his papers and looked up, apparently surprised to be the center of attention. He cleared his throat. “Any questions?”
Olivia and Shen took seats at the bar during the clamor that followed, Shen ordering himself a drink.
“Ah, Olivia,” the Prince materialized from the crowd behind them, elegant in black tulle. “How lovely to see you here this evening.”
“My prince,” Olivia genuflected quickly, trying to hide her anxiety. The only time Violet ever spoke to her was if she wanted to inflict something. What had she got today? “Good news, about the vampire hunters.”
“Oh, that.” Violet waved her hand. “Something was bound to happen to them eventually. How about your research on that energy drink… what was it, Power Thirst?”
She wouldn’t come here just to talk about Power Thirst. Olivia frowned. What did the Prince really want? “It’s slow, to be quite honest. We’ve ascertained that it mimics some properties of vitae, but we’ve yet to see any practical effect. We’re moving onto cohort studies.”
They made small talk for a little longer, the prince still skirting the real issue at hand, talking a little about her collection. The wraiths that Eyes wanted, Olivia realised with a chill. The prince was there to sell.
“Such wonders,” said Olivia. “Though as healthy as my bank balance is, I doubt it could stretch to such an excess.”
The prince appeared to consider this, tilting her head. She owed Olivia two favours. One for the root of lilith, one for the recovery of the artifact from Axminster Hall. “It would stretch to two of them, I think.”
“While two are infinitely more valuable than none, they are not much use to me without a third,” said Olivia.
The prince’s smile was unchanged. “A shame. Perhaps you will find the funds somewhere.”
“I expect so,” Olivia agreed, her heart sinking. How had the prince known? Some connection with Eyes, perhaps.
Shen edged a little closer. “You know she still owes me, right? I could forward you mine.”
Was he in on it, too? The sincere expression on Shen’s face told her not. “I’ve got nothing to give you, Shen,” she said.
“I’ll trade it for a future primogen level favour, then.” He shrugged. “There’s nothing I wanted from Violet, anyway.”
“Thanks, Shen. That’s solid.” Olivia bumped her fist against his.
The prince seemed unsurprised when Olivia returned to her with the offer.
“You know, I am young, and inexperienced,” said Olivia, with a hint of irony. “I do hope you’re not taking advantage of this to defraud me.”
The prince gave a thin smile. “I wouldn’t dream of it. You want them sent to Goodwin? Or… directly?” She was definitely in on it. Perhaps the entire rescue of Balrus had been a fraud, perpetuated to free the prince of her debt. She tried to suppress the thought, but found she could not.
“Directly. I have no desire to handle such things.” Olivia felt hollow.
The prince nodded. “As you wish. It will be done.”
Olivia bowed her head. “Thank you. My prince.”