The Dawn Requiem

You arrive by way of the Old City, the catacombs and underground city passages that have sunken beneath the Caliphas soft soil and have been built over countless times.  Deep within you know (or find out) that many of the city’s poor residents were buried into the walls to keep them away from the surface, where citizens could contract diseases from the decaying corpses that might be exposed or pressed upward as the soft soil shifts.  This, of course, is the reason that many of the city’s elite use mausoleums to bury their dead.

Approach the underground club requires moving through these catacomb hallways.  Those who’ve come from the sewers may find alcoves to change into clothes more suitable, and often discard their garments.  Of course, you hear stories (once inside the club) of some who’ve gone missing who rely on such travel to the club.

Others who receive personal invitations from the Cloak and Fangs can often just take stagecoach to the above ground entrance closest to the bar and pass through an already open iron gate and take a few short passages in the dry catacombs to the bar entrance.  In fact, those who are in-the-know, understand that even the club's name changes each month.  It's been known as Your Desperation, Damnation Pleasure, and the Secret Delight in past months, among other names.

The layout and attendants change, but in the year 4707, the month of Arodus, the group sees this:

- artwork by Maxim Verehin

You recognize the doorman as one of the city’s few Created.  He’s a golem given life through some extraordinary means.  These miscreants sometimes occupy guard positions in, used for their ability to be supernaturally enhanced through magical means and their often strange characteristics.  Unfortunately, their inhuman appearance and behavior disturbs Ustalav inhabitants, limiting their ability to acquire wealth or station or companionship. 

This individual greets you very professionally, with noblesse etiquette.  Gently, but with a hidden firmness, he will remove any weapons found hidden on persons attempting to enter the establishment armed.  His practiced eye notices even the smallest folds, and checks closely for items that might hide smaller weapons designed to fool doormen such as himself.  And if he doesn’t notice anything of questionable quality, he has a partner with magically enhanced goggles that looks on as he pats incoming visitors down.

- artwork courtesy of Steampunkgirl Tumblr

Once past the entrance and coat check area, patrons descend just a little further, down a narrow staircase, fully adorned like a proper Ardeal noble's estate, with old country refinement.  A brass magical lamp with small candle-like bulbs of glass shines the way below.  It glows warmly off the red carpet, nearby paintings, and imported mahogany fixtures placed here incredibly underground.

- Chateau de Loup, Belgium

As you make your way down you a trio of musicians, a celloist, a violinist, and a singer, singing an old Ustalavan song in Varisian.  You may not catch all of its phrases, but if you know some Varisian you’ll understand it as a ballad of some man who follows his prey only to be eaten by wolf, leaving his wife cold for the night. The wolf, taking pity on the woman, comes into her bed to keep her warm.

To your left is a rich mahogany bar with two tenders.  One is Charmagne Boudewyn, whom one or two of the members of the group may recognize from Vauntil Last Breath festival.  He devotes complete attention to a striking man with white hair, a scar running over his lip, pale features and dressed in rich red clothing and reinforced leather armor.  Beside Charmagne is a dwarf who apparently walks on a ledge inside the bar area so that he might adequately serve the patrons.  He pockets coin with a deft hand and seems to have a perpetually amused expression on his face that never quite reaches his jaded eyes.

- artwork from La Caverne Des Trollistes

About six of the stools in front of the bar are occupied, each with remarkably well dressed nobility.  A man whispers into a woman’s ear as she laughs between sips of red wine, both of them pale.  You think you see a flash of fangs on the dark haired man dressed in black velvet and silver hoops in his ears and belt loops.  A couple of the loops hold small vials. Perfume? Drinks?  Drugs?  Another man, gray hair running down his back, quietly reads at the bar.  A woman dressed more like a civil servants sits at the end of the bar and sips her red wine as she scrawls in her tiny black book.  A final patron, a large woman in a gown of many fabric flowers delights as she drinks in the view of the small dance floor and the musicians.

The dance floor is currently being used by approximately half a dozen people.  Two men, one dressed in green and black silks and the other dressed in dark brown leathers, dance with each other, eyes locked on each other.  One woman dances, her gold hoops jingling, and her white skirt flashing.  A man and a woman dance with each other, the man clearly leading, up close at the hips and chest, the woman clearly enjoying his skill and flush with excitement, the man tan and his dark eyes smiling in pleasure.  To either side of the dance floor are four booths with red velvet cushions.  Approximately half are occupied by a couple, one occupied by three people.  Looking at them carefully would require finding a good vantage point and taking a few moments, but it seems like they’re couples that are enjoying small talk, drink, and conversation with each other.  The group of three is a touch louder and play a card game.

From this room there are two hallways – what were once catacombs passageways but which have been appropriated for a different use here.  There is an archway with a paper screen door in front of each, the wood carved into roses and vines.   A man stands by each door, dressed in reinforced leather and holding a dagger in a hilt at his side.  One picks his nails with it.  One can only presume that the hallways hold the private rooms in which more discreet encounters can be held.  

The Dawn Requiem

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