When Haven made one of his rare visits to the Toreador house several nights later, he found Karin sitting on the sofa whilst dejectedly staring out the window at the nighttime sea, just as Sean and Claire had done so many times in nights long past.
“I wasn’t expecting this visit” Karin greeted him softly, though did not turn those brown eyes toward Haven as he gently shut the door behind him.
“Is Baron’s favorite enforcer here again tonight?” Haven asked, having already scanned the home and known that the only two souls inside that night were Karin and one mortal servant.
“Theo? I’m sure he’s off looking for another victim. He’s lost most of his interest in house calls since I got rid of my female servant” she stated in the same tone that emotion barely touched.
“Got rid of her?” Haven asked curiously as he took a seat on the overstuffed chair, holding her in his constant sight.
“I killed her” she stated flatly.
“You killed your servant?” Haven responded, shaken a bit by that statement, though disguising the fact as best he could.
“Yes I took a life. Humanity be damned I guess” Karin repeated in the same flat tone, her eyes still on the sea outside.
“And why did you kill her exactly?” Haven had to ask, despite his original reasons for that night’s visit.
Karin sighed with the slightest trace of emotion peeking through her otherwise cool demeanor “Theo had been raping her over and over again. She was better off being dead than… being that” she answered Haven with the slightest drop in her volume.
Haven was quiet another moment as he processed her words “I suppose this is proof as to why Ravnos are never very welcome in the Camarilla. They’re all criminals of some sort who can’t resist giving into their chosen vice any time the opportunity arises. It’s their clan weakness; like the one we have for beauty” he stated quietly.
“Is that supposed to make it any better?” she asked.
“Not hardly, but I can’t help wondering what Taylor’s true vice was. It was a bit hard to tell with all her games so prevalent from one night to the next” Haven replied for the mere sake of seeing if she would give him that information.
“Taylor was out killing for her meals every night. But it was easy for her to hide the fact behind illusions or behind the attacks the rest of Baron’s people made” Karin did offer him some answer, though it was offered with that same lack of emotion that made it difficult to read the truth of it, let alone how she felt about it.
“And where has Taylor been lately?” Haven asked.
“Sitting at Baron’s side, keeping me Karin…for thirty years” she couldn’t help adding more quietly.
“And Theo’s job is to…?” Haven pressed.
“Make sure I’m not double-crossing Baron” she supplied.
“Isn’t telling me any of this considered that?” Haven called her on it.
“Nothing I’m telling you is actually hurting Baron. He’s still got all the power, and you’re still just waiting for his next move” she stated bluntly “I mean it’s been a century and you still haven’t even been able to locate his base of operations; the other thing Taylor is doing for him” she reminded him of the illusion that Taylor was still providing to hide Baron’s true location.
“I see” Haven returned, though the slight sarcasm in his tone did cause her to finally look his way.
“What’s that mean?” she asked with a bit of emotion finally coloring her tone.
“What’s what mean?” Haven asked innocently.
“You see?” she repeated with a bit of bite behind her words.
“You think it means something?” Haven returned with the same feigned innocence.
“So now you’re playing games with me?” Karin asked impatiently.
Haven allowed the slightest smile “I’ve had thirty years to watch you, Karin. When you come and go; where you go. False confidence is never a good thing” he finished pointedly.
She narrowed her eyes at that “you’re bluffing aren’t you?”
Haven just allowed a slight smirk “it is quite annoying when you can’t read the person you’re speaking with, isn’t it?” he returned wryly, still refusing to give her an answer.
“If you knew where he was, then…” she just shook her head with a bit of exasperation “you’re obviously bluffing” she finished as she looked away again, seeming to be trying to convince herself of that bluff.
“Or maybe you really have chosen the wrong side” Haven stated coolly.
“What side? I’m doing what you asked; pretending to be serving Baron” she denied.
“Tell me Karin, how much do you remember about our blood line?” Haven asked her pointedly.
“What does that have to do with anything?” she scoffed.
“Seriously, how much do you know about the eldest living member of our line; who he is, who he’s embraced, what he is, what his progeny are, what kind of combined power we all just might have?” Haven told her with a clear threat behind his questions.
She just shook her head, scoffing to hide any other reaction to his words “if you had any real power, and actually knew where Baron was, like you claim; we wouldn’t be even having this conversation right now” she denied further.
“You know, one of the biggest keys to power is building it up, consolidating it, guaranteeing yourself assured victory before you ever make that final move. Sometimes it takes a while before you are ready to make that move. But that fact makes it even more terrifying when you do unleash all the power that you’ve spent so very many years gathering” he told her calmly. He then added “I’m quite sure I’ve seen most of what Baron has on hand. As sure as I am that he has not seen even a fraction of the power I do actually have access to. Now, do you still believe you’ve chosen the right master?” he asked her pointedly, his eyes never leaving her for a moment.
She appeared to be trying to gauge how much he was indeed still bluffing for a long moment before speaking again “you know that if I were actually Baron’s creature, as you keep insinuating, I’d have to tell him that you sound like you’re planning some big move” Karin stated.
“Then you may as well also tell Taylor that she can drop this guise of yours as well. I already know that you’re not Karin… as do many others, now” he added that warning.
“Many others?” she had to scoff again “like who?” she couldn’t help asking.
“Me, my council, Sean, Claire, their mates over in London, Prince Marcus, Prince Lemuel, Prince Hollister, and former Prince Griffyn; to name a few. They all know you’re a fake. And they all know about Baron. And that’s assuming that I’m not forgetting one or two others” he added as more of an afterthought.
Karin seemed to grow even paler then as she tried to find her voice “but most of them are still on the other side of the world. Even if that’s all true, it will be quite some time before they can get here. You could be dead long before that” she added, attempting to sound confident.
“Even if you do kill me before then, that will give Baron the chance to try to play Prince for what? A year at the most? The whole time fighting my council every step of the way as he just waits for the rest of my allies to arrive. And once they do, his destruction would be assured, only one year into his pitiful self-appointed reign. Of course, upon him taking the throne for himself, all the other members of the Camarilla, who are much closer than my friends in the mother country, will surely be a bit miffed by any Prince appointing himself, let alone a Setite.” Haven told her in the same assured manner. Karin was quiet for another long moment before Haven spoke again “He cannot win, period. Even if you were to try and kill me right here and now, every member of the Camarilla will be up in arms. Do you really think you’re master is powerful enough to take on every Camarilla Kindred in the whole of America, England, and France? Do you think he can pull that off, really? No Prince sits any throne without their approval. His dreams are delusion, to put it mildly” Haven then added one final nail to the coffin, so to speak “if he were smart” he repeated her earlier words “he would flee before they all converge on this place to teach him exactly how futile his pursuit of power truly is.”
Karin swallowed hard as she thought on all of Haven’s warnings and the truth to them. Without making her voice form any further arguments, Karin simply stood in somber silence and headed down the stairs and away from an argument she had no real way of winning.
When Karin entered Baron’s home that night, her mood was obvious. Baron gave her a questioning look as Taylor simply sat silently curled into the chair in much the same state as she had been on Karin’s last visit “didn’t realize we had a visit planned tonight” Baron greeted her with that usual cool tone of his.
“You can drop the Karin guise now, Taylor” she told the little blonde Ravnos, her current state of discontent clear. Taylor simply nodded in silence as Karin became Awsha once more and turned back to Baron “if you are really intent on trying to take this throne, you’re going to need a new plan” she told him with as much force as she could muster.
“If? Did you say if?” he repeated sharply.
“Well, it’s not like you’re Camarilla. I doubt many people would be happy about it if you actually did manage to take the throne” Awsha told him bravely, which even caused Taylor’s otherwise glassy gaze to turn toward this particular conversation.
“Are you channeling that pretty little sire of yours now? Is that what this is?” Baron asked coldly.
Awsha bravely forced herself onward “it’s true though. Even if I went back there, killed Haven, bound Sean, and got you your precious throne; even after all of that, you would still have to deal with the entire Camarilla who I’m sure would be none too pleased by having a Setite on any throne at all. Let alone after Haven’s mysterious death and Sean’s inexplicable generosity” she added, trying her best to keep her voice from shaking as she pointed out the flaws of Baron’s plan.
“Oh I see; you’re trying your hand at playing Prince now and pretending to be the one who’s intelligent enough to make the plans” Baron told her with a decided lack of amusement as he stood to tower over her intimidatingly.
“I’m bound to you. I’m trying to protect you by making you see that your plan is not going to work” she defended with as much bravery as she could still muster in light of his anger.
“The plan I left in your hands?” he replied pointedly.
That did do well to cause Awsha to balk a bit at his words before finding her own again “it doesn’t matter whose hands you leave it in. If your plan ever succeeds and you do get the throne; the rest of the Camarilla will not let you hold it. They will come after you. And being bound to you, I cannot sit idly by and let you continue with a plan that will lead to your own downfall” she attempted one last defense of her seeming defiance.
Baron centered a cold gaze on her for a long while before speaking “and what exactly has made you come to see this alleged truth after so many years of pursuing my plans without question? Why are you suddenly so keenly aware of the apparent doom you say will come to my Princedom?”
“Because, every single member of his line who was embraced before Haven is already a Prince” she began bluntly as she watched for Baron’s reaction “and they all now know that you are trying to take Haven’s throne. They are not happy about it. You could very well find yourself fighting five different Princes and all of their subjects, all at one time, before you even get near that throne. Are you prepared for that?” Awsha finished in a whisper, knowing her words would infuriate him, but also knowing she had to find any way to give him his chance to escape such assured destruction.
Baron stared her down coldly for another long moment before responding “and how exactly did all of these other Princes come upon the knowledge of my plans for Haven?”
Awsha then began visibly shaking as she quickly realized how easily her attempts to save him from doom had now become proof of her own failure; or at least she was sure that was how a creature such as Baron would see the entirety of the situation before them. Though her voice was shaking terribly at this point, she forced some guess at an answer for him “I can only assume that they somehow found out that Karin wasn’t actually who she said she was” she whispered.
That was when Baron’s voice became a nearly inhuman hiss “so the fact that I now find myself in the crosshairs of five different Princes, that is your fault, after all.”
That was when Baron’s hands gripped her shoulders with near enough force to shatter bones. His black eyes then became the color of blood, immobilizing her with his gaze. Then he stared into her own eyes, her mind, and her soul for what felt like an eternity. When he did finally release her from his grip and his gaze, Awsha fell into a shattered heap on the floor, her dark eyes glazed over. The creature that used to be Awsha now seemed completely incapable of moving or acting at all. Baron’s very mind had somehow cowed the raven haired beauty into a waking catatonia, wherein she was able to do nothing at all, except simply be aware of that horrible loss of all of the will it would have taken her to do anything more than simply exist in that mental prison and watch the world, unable to interact with it in any way at all. Her mind had now been forced into a state where she could only regard the world around her without truly being a part of it at all anymore.