|A Life of Masks|
|Full Name:||Bianca Mikhaylov (current), Leyna Kitaev (birthname), Aleksandra Glazkov (former alias)|
|Deed Name:||Moonshadow, The Shadow Has No Soul (RoP)|
|Theme Song:||Shoot From the Hip by A Change of Pace|
|Quote:||Secrets and porcelain have one thing in common. Drop either of them, and the world hears it.|
Where does goodness lie? In intent? In action? In results? Is it worth it to give up your honor to do the underhanded thing for a good purpose? After all, some jobs are just dirty. And ethics only take you so far.
Such is the philosophy behind the life of Bianca. She believes deeply in the fight for Gaia, but she also believes it won't be won with duels of honor or fancy rules. After all, the Wyrm's going to look at your rules and laugh in your face. Sometimes the end must justify the means. And that is when she steps in. Bianca will do any number of depraved things in the name of the cause. Lie, cheat, steal or kill, there is very little she would shy away from. It's her own way of serving Gaia. Let the other tribes worry about their honor and their glory. She'll just worry about getting the job done, however it must be done.
Loyalty is also an important theme for her. She doesn't give it often, or get it often, but when someone has earned her trust and her loyalty, she gives it fiercely. And when she's earned theirs? She treats it like a cherished gift. It isn't something she'll trample over. Even if she acts from the shadows, unknown, these people will be looked after as best she can. After all, it was Socrates that said, "Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant."
She doesn't really expect the same in return, as her low self esteem keeps her from believing that anyone would honestly care enough about her to put her on that level. And, since no one else is going to cater to her needs and wants, she does so herself. There is a selfish streak in her and very few things go before her own survival or happiness, such as it is. Maybe just survival. In any case, she's generally thinking of herself first, others after (if at all), outside of those very few who she believes deserve better treatment.
- Physical: Strength 1, Dexterity 3, Stamina 2
- Social: Charisma 2, Manipulation 4, Appearance 2
- Manipulation Specialty: Underhanded
- Mental: Perception 4, Intelligence 3, Wits 3
- Perception Specialty: Paranoid
- Talents (5): Athletics 3, Dodge 2, Intimidation 1, Resistance 1, Subterfuge 4
- Subterfuge Specialty: Seduction
- Skills (13): Demolitions 3, Drive (Cars, Motorcycles) 2, Larceny 3, Performance (Drums, Singing, Improvisation) 3, Stealth 2
- Knowledges (9): Finance 1, Investigation 3, Lore (Vampires, Black Spiral Dancers) 4, Rituals 3
- Lore Specialty: Vampire Disciplines
- Willpower: 7
- Rage: 1
- Gnosis: 2
- Backgrounds: Pure Breed 3, Fetish 5, Resources 5, Rites 3, Totem 4, Contacts 1
- Gifts: Persuasion, Hush, Fatal Flaw, Open Seal
- Rites: Still Waters (0), Breath of Gaia (0), Questing Stone (1), Talisman Dedication (1), Contrition (1), Baptism of Fire (1), Rite of Silence (1), Spirit Awakening (2)
- Merits: Perfect Liar 3, Animal Magnetism 1, Iron Will 3
- Flaws: Low Self Image 2, Masochism 2, Deranged: Hallucinations 3
Freebies: 5 to Resources, 5 to Fetish, 4 to Totem, 2 to Pure Breed, 4 to Willpower, 2 to Gnosis, 6 to Athletics, 4 to Dodge, 2 to Intimidation, 4 to Investigation, 7 to Open Seal = 45
- Note: I realize Bianca isn't actually a Fostern, but she has been a Garou for long enough to be one, if she had wanted to try. So these points are representative of her 8 (ish) years as an active Ragabash.
Merits & FlawsEdit
- Perfect Liar;
- Bianca has always had a knack for deception and staying cool while she spins her fabrications is old hat by now.
- Animal Magnetism;
- While her looks are average, there is just something about her. Something in her walk and stance, the way she looks at people. It just has an extra kick.
- Iron Will;
- Pure stubbornness. And experience with some of the most manipulative of supernatural creatures. What's been left in the wake of their toying with her is a mind hardened.
- Low Self Image;
- Perhaps because of her cold homelife, her time with the vampires, or her own natural neuroses, Bianca does not believe in her own self worth. She believes herself to be a manipulative creature with little to no moral compass, and thus, a thing to be pitied.
- Born from an innate belief that she is a bad person who deserves pain and punishment, Bianca seeks out sources for said punishment. In her early years as a garou, she tended to poke at the werewolves with higher rage, taunting and teasing until they'd lash out. She will do it to herself, though, if no other opportunity presents itself.
- After having disappointed a spirit, Bianca has suffered from very real and very harrowing hallucinations. When she wears her fetish, these are always crafted from her own fears (and the spirit is creative). Without her fetish, she will still get these hallucinations, but they will be more randomized.
- Dance of Masks: Level 5, Gnosis 7
- Created by a Black Spiral Dancer Theurge who forced a Gaian Night spirit into a bracelet for an infiltration mission to a rather large Gaian sept. It came into Bianca's possession upon said Dancer's demise. She was the one to interrogate the Dancer when he was found out, and she was able to claim the fetish for her own, assuring the sept that the spirit had been released from its bonds. In reality, she kept the fetish for herself and journeyed in the umbra to appease the spirit within. She was only partially successful, in that the quest turned out not to be enough. The spirit within, who has insisted Bianca call it Nyx, demanded more from her in return for keeping her secret.
- Appearance: A titanium and iron cuff bracelet. While the majority of the bracelet is faceted, there is a long plaque in the front center.
- Power: This fetish masks Bianca's true nature from any and all means of detection. Rites, gifts, merits, disciplines, scent, whatever may give away that she is, in fact, Garou is made to fail or miss, skipping right over her. It is considered to be 'always on'.
- Chiminage: Bianca is in constant chiminage to the spirit Nyx. When she completed her quest and returned to the spirit, Nyx was still unhappy. And in her unhappiness, she gave Bianca a full three days of vivid and horrifying hallucinations. From then on, these visions have plagued her, whether she wears the fetish or not. Nyx seems to feed off her fear and panic, and pushes these hallucinations when she hungers.
- Pure Breed;
- The Kitaev family line of which Bianca is a part of is the result of careful planning and breeding to keep the blood as pure as possible. She grew up knowing a lot was expected of her and generally... fell short of the mark. The ancestry that looks back at her from her reflection is a constant reminder of her shortcomings and failures. It is difficult to ignore the weight of that breeding, and every day she decides not to strive for greatness is another disappointment to her line.
- In her early twenties, Bianca lured, seduced and eventually married an extremely rich (and older) man. Texas oil money. It was a long seduction that ended in a marriage, but the girl took her time in getting there. He even believed, in the end, that the marriage was entirely his idea. He had to talk her into it. Or so he believes. She played the blushing bride, the grateful wife and nurturing lover to the man for roughly a year. She was able to befriend his family and friends, their wives. In fact, she was with her sister-in-law when Caleb met with a fatal car accident on a lonely Texas highway. The assumption was drunk driver, but the cars and those in them caught fire and went up, leaving very little behind by the time authorities arrived on scene and were able to control the blaze. The real shocker came when his will was read and she had been the sole benefactor for the man's rather exorbitant fortune. Fur flew, to say the least, but the authorities were quick to assure the family there was no foul play and Caleb's lawyer and doctors attested to his being of sound mind and body when the will was redrafted. It may or may not have been intended to be the man's last version, but it was ruled as completely legally binding. His family has never forgiven her.
- Even in stepping back from her duties as a Garou, she has continued to be focused on the spirits and matters there of, so while she is neglecting most things to do with her role as a Garou, she hasn't neglected them. (Mostly because she doesn't want them to become unhappy with her and then tattle. >.> <.< >.>)
- Bianca is getting to know the vampires of the city, and ingratiating herself to them and them to her.
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- +learn Contacts 1 (vampires) from Self; 12/15/09
- +teach Rituals 1 to Jason; 12/30/09
- +teach Rite of Silence to Jason; 01-14-10
- +teach Questing Stone to Jason; 2-3-10
Grigoriy Kitaev wasn't always the well-respected, if sometimes feared, business man he is today. Once upon a time, he was a young man who fell deeply in love with a young woman named Ekaterina Barad. While love was viewed as a silly reason to marry by the pair's Elder, since they were both Shadow Lords of good breeding, the union was allowed. Grigoriy and Ekaterina proved to be a formidable pair, manipulating those around them to achieve their goals. Goals which included getting Grigoriy to that well-respected position of bank owner and investor, and an important figure in their city.
And they were well-respected members of The Sept of The Silent Current in Buffalo, New York. Ekaterina was a leader among the other Kin, leading them in making useful contacts and learning useful skills for the sept to tap into. She, personally, was an ace at cover up. No matter how messy it was, she would make it appear as if nothing ever happened. Anything from cubnappings to murders for the sake of the Veil. She was instrumental in keeping the happenings of the Sept under wraps. And since keeping under wraps was the main goal of Silent Current, she was one of the more notable members.
They had children, of course. And the first three were Kin, gifted with their parents' breeding and cunningness of mind. The fourth was the ever desired prize. Their first Garou child and born under the new moon, just like her father before her. They named her Leyna, after Grigoriy's mother. She was raised in a... nurturing, but not terribly loving, home. Her father was one of those fathers who was so busy with work that she rarely saw him. But in her mind, he was painted as the great Father Figure, sinless and flawless. Her mother, on the other hand, was subject to a more critical eye. Mostly because she was under that eye so often. They fought often, two headstrong females butting heads over everything. Ekaterina pushed Leyna to excel, pushed her too hard, maybe, but it was all in preparation for what was to come. She pushed her into physical activities such as track and field or gymnastics as a youngster, insisting she keep in shape as well as challenging her mind with more difficult classes and extracurricular activities. Leyna hated the pushing, and although she went along with it, she rebelled in other ways.
As she came up on her teen years, Leyna was fiercely restricted. She had an early curfew, and her mother had to approve where she was going out and who with. Everything was carefully controlled. Ekaterina was watching carefully for Leyna's first change. Like any teenager, she perfected the art of sneaking out. She also perfected the art of choosing the wrong crowd. She smoked, she went to parties, she snuck back in her house drunk or high... she snuck boys /in/, she even got a tattoo. The symbol of Aries, the Ram on her left shoulder blade. Whether her mother was aware of all of this debauchery and mayhem... was difficult to say. But she found out for sure on the same night Leyna found out what she really was.
She had snuck a boy in late on a Friday night. It was the full moon, and all the animals were feeling a little wilder. It wasn't that it was her first time, but just that the fates aligned badly for the boy that night. But Leyna was in luck, as her mother was great at cleaning this sort of thing up.
Her father came to get her that day, to take her into a whole new world of learning. Not that her mother let up on her schooling. During her cubhood, she not only had to learn what it meant to be Ragabash and Shadow Lord, and the history of her tribe and the Garou, and how to fight and the Litany and on and on and on, she also had to study up and take her GED. It was only a few months before they were ready to send her on her Rite of Passage. She was a little surprised, since she had spent so much of her cubhood getting beat for screwing up. And they sept really... didn't like screw ups. They had given her the name Invokes-Ire during her cubhood, but little did she know, she had invoked enough ire that the Alpha of the sept and Elder for the tribe decided to send her on what was meant to be a fatal Rite.
Her instructions were simple. Find and infiltrate the vampire court in the city, find out information on them and bring it home. No word on how long she had or how she was supposed to do it. Just... do it. They did, though, have a name and address for a man they suspected was one. So that is where she started. She stalked him for weeks, watching his comings and goings, finding out who he was before she snuck into his apartment and waited for him. Since she wasn't planning on keeping him alive, she sat in his apartment in Glabro, ready to overpower him when he came home. He looked surprised, but not afraid. And it was his exclamation that gave her the disguise she would be under for the next few months. A Gangrel, here? Engaging it what she liked to call 'Vampire 101', she tortured that damned soul to get what she wanted. From him, she learned just enough to be dangerous. Clan names, who the Prince was, where their meeting places were, their Elysium in the city, common misconceptions... and about their terrible thirst for blood. By the time the sun was starting to rise and stream in through the man's open windows... he was spilling anything he could, if only she would let him live on. Of course, some of it sounded like half-crazed nonsense... nonsense she would come to find out as very true facts later. She left him to dust, not even contemplating letting him live and allowing herself such a weakness as someone who knew she was a fake.
She called herself Aleksandra Glazkov, or, at least, that was supposedly the name she had when she was still mortal. She let them assume a lot about her, the odd Gangrel in the city with her Neanderthal shape and animal furs, who was apparently powerful enough to waste her blood in making her skin warm and her heart beat. An amusement, she said. She was mostly quiet and in the back, listening and observing. The Prince, she was often told, was pleased to see one of her clan among their sect, the Camarilla. She had no idea what that meant at first, but she remembered to give a thin, feral smile to comments like that. What she did not know is, while most of the court there in Buffalo were weak, new and a little stupid, the Prince knew her for what she was. And her deceptions were allowed... as long as she was amusing. She never did meet the Prince, but she found out things about him. He was a Toreador with a weakness for art, and also one of the more prominent members of Buffalo. Their richest man, in fact, Maximilian Dupont. She also found out who the other ranking members of the Court were, and what their jobs were. Granted, she didn't meet any of them. In fact, she was careful to keep clear of the ranking members, as she assumed the more experienced among them would be able to know her for a spy where the younger, sillier ones could be fooled.
Of course... there was another side to her quest. A darker side. Although it was convincing enough that she preferred to 'feed' on her own, in her own haven outside of the city, she did have to participate in some less-than-savory deeds to keep them from suspecting her of being an infiltrator. She developed a coldness to her, a way to shut off her emotions just as much as these 'Kindred' were emotionless, in order to perform these horrors. She never tried to rescue the kine, for fear of discovery, and often watched on as these vampires fed off them. Or turned them to Ghouls. Or any number of worse things she'd rather just forget. She knew their Traditions as much as she knew her own Litany. She became a background fixture to their lives, the odd, eccentric Gangrel. She never did a thing to warrant suspicion. She didn't even contact her sept. They, in fact, thought her long dead during those months.
It looked to be overwhelmingly successful. But like all good things, her success came to an end when one of the Primogen appointed a new Whip. He was like an assistant, keeping people informed, keeping his boss' interests on everyone's mind. His name was Roman Delancy, and he was a Toreador Ancillae. It wasn't widely known, but he had the ear of the Prince. And he was devilishly handsome and unfairly charismatic. He didn't seem to notice her, at first. Of course not. She was rather plain in her Homid form, but in Glabro? She was outright ugly. She watched from afar as he'd bring in his hoards of lovely young women to bond to him with his blood. Oh, yes, blood bonding, she had learned what that was, too. What she didn't know is that he noticed when her cheeks would flush when he was in the room, and how her heart would race when he was near her. She couldn't hide her animalistic, Garou emotions from him. Or the perfectly human emotions of a young girl.
And, sadly, she was still just a sixteen year old girl, which was easy enough to cover with a disdainful expression and silent treatment of these others she found so reprehensible. Him, though, she cast in a different light in her own mind. Surely this one wasn't like the others. No, somehow he was kind and gentle and didn't have the inner beast these others did. Ah, how the mind can play tricks. No, Roman wasn't some perfect hero out of a romance novel come to sweep her off her feet, but he let her believe so as long as he could. In reality, he was a deceptive soul who was quite onto her. He didn't know what she was, precisely, but he knew what she wasn't, and she wasn't a Kindred.
So he seduced her. It was a form of manipulation she had been mostly unaware of in the past. Or, at least, unaware of the subtle uses of it. And she fell for it, hook, line and sinker. It was very likely the rest of them noticed that she wasn't what she claimed during this time, during the whirlwind of music and wine and moonlit walks when she hardly was given a moment to think. It all accumulated in one night where he talked about bonding to each other. Of course, she didn't know he was trying to set her up to be completely and irrevocably enamored of him. She didn't know he planned to trot her out as a lesson as to what happens to spies and intruders. She only knew that he wanted to drink from her, and wanted her to drink from him. And she was so far gone by then, it actually sounded like a good idea. She'd never been through it, but she had watched as others did, seeing the ecstasy written on their faces in that moment. If she had been paying attention, she would have noticed the hints, like how he promised it would only hurt for a moment, but she was... distracted. Of course, when he did give her the Kiss that only vampires can give, she learned another important fact. Giving them Garou blood is a bad idea. Roman was more powerful that night than he'd ever been before, and he looked at her like he had found himself a wellspring.
Of course, as he got more aggressive, so did she. For months she hadn't shifted, at least not where anyone could see, but she took Crinos that night with a delight and relief she hadn't previously felt about her werewolf abilities. And while she didn't come out of it without some serious wounds, to herself and the room they were in at the time, poor antiques, she did best him in the end. And she learned that there isn't much need for clean up for a dead vampire. Except a broom. She felt angry. She felt brokenhearted. She felt used and above all, she felt stupid. But there was no time to wallow. She slipped into the Umbra via one of the many reflective surfaces and made a break for home. And, the real stab was that that one bite would lead to a lifetime of searching for something else, anything else, to match that feeling. Anything to keep her looking for more.
They were... surprised to see her and none more than her father. He hugged her for the first time then, when he found her in his bathroom, huddle on the floor, bleeding and broken. She was even healed before they asked for her report. She had been gone for months, how did she survive? She explained in cold, hard facts, leaving out a number of more embarrassing, painful or otherwise unpleasant memories. She detailed out their social structure, the Clans within the Camarilla, their Traditions, their powers, such as she observed, their weaknesses... and most importantly, how to kill them. The Alpha gave her a pat on the back and told her, since she'd passed her test, now the real work began. She was taken into the Umbra, where she saw Grandfather Thunder and was accepted as his child.
And only moments after the glow of pride in her accomplishment, her father told her she was still expected to go study for her GED, as well as her continued learning from the sept. As well as the job he expected her to have in the real world. She did well, combining her sept duties with her real world work. She learned, she taught, she toiled, she fought... all in line with the sept's goal of one hundred percent invisibility. They took the Veil to an extreme, keeping Silent Current quiet even from other Garou. After all, the less a secret is known, the better it's kept. It was rule number one, don't draw attention to yourself. Unfortunately for Leyna, she had a few quirks that made it impossible to keep up forever. She'd always been a little manic, but had been able to control it in the past. After her months with the vampires, though, her quirks became more pronounced. She did end up hunting down vampires to feel the bite. She couldn't help it! There was nothing on earth quite like it. She would always kill them after, or try to. She took to having firestarting impliments nearby as often as possible for just that purpose.
Unfortunately, it was a fire that she started that led to a pretty damaging veil breach, with the others involved stepping aside to let her take the fall alone. Most didn't like her, anyway, and this was seem as a way to get rid of her without her father being able to protest. She was exiled from the sept and told she could return 'when she learned to control herself', which Leyna took as a 'never' and walked away without looking back. She was eighteen.
For a person as self destructive as her, the much harassed Sept of the Quiet Sun seemed the perfect place for her. Traveling cross country was a challenge, but she did what it took to get there. Cars were stolen, people were conned, she even did actual work here and there along the way. And while she had done office work for her father, Leyna did anything but once she was out on her own. Stripping became the employment of choice, as so many of those places didn't ask too many questions. By the time she arrived in Spokane, she was able to secure an apartment on the bad side of town, as well as a steady job at a strip joint nearby. She was slow about integrating into the sept, as she had been enjoying the freedom of being Anruth. But, eventually, she came to give her chiminage to the Shadow Lord elder there. Teaching rites to the sept.
Quiet Sun was an experience in culture shock. Coming from her small, Shadow Lord Only sept, the melting pot of tribes and peoples (and metis) there took some getting used to. And, as she took up the self-appointed job of tribal PR, she was quick about setting aside her true reactions and presenting a more tolerant front. And she'd given herself a hard job, as the elder at the time had bad blood with just about every other tribe there. Particularly the city tribes. But, as she was a city wolf, she couldn't have that standing and ingratiated herself to the other Garou in the city. It wasn't long before she became the go-to girl. Her knowledge of Vampires was particularly rare in the sept, and her methods of torture were... disliked, but invaluable. When she had fosterns of the rival tribes coming to her for help or advice, she claimed Beta of the Shadow Lords of Quiet Sun and took over any and all city related issues. The elder begrudgingly admitted she was an asset, but never trusted her fully. But that was okay, she didn't trust him, either.
Leyna actually grew quite fond of Quiet Sun. She was successful there, she was respected there, as much as a Shadow Lord can be. She continued her education in vampiric culture there, dipping her toes in with more caution this time around. Vampires and their allies were milked for information and she slowly built up her knowledge. As she would continue to do for years. Call it an obsession. And considering she kept little tokens of each vampire she killed, it very well might have been. ...And considering her slipping up a few times and giving into her desire for the bite. But, overall, she did remarkably well there. Save one... small... problem.
She met Jason Bard during her Chiminage, in her whirlwind of hunting for people who wanted to learn the rites she was so fond of. Fellow Ragabash, they two did seem to get along right off, joking and teasing. However, it wasn't long before playful banter turned to heated sexual tension. There was one, drunken night that was, perhaps, the point of no return. Although, she was damn near horrified when she woke up in his bed the next morning. In her home sept, after all, charach meant death. No exceptions. She pulled away from him at first, putting on the frigid Shadow Lord act to keep a repeat performance from happening.
But she couldn't deny to herself the draw she felt to him. And who wouldn't? He was talented, handsome, charming. Funny. But she was refusing to admit it was more than a crush on a cute boy. And he was so damn persistent. Even with her coldness, he would insist on being there to help her out or support her, he'd show up to just... hang out fairly regularly and she slowly warmed up to him again. So when she successfully claimed Beta, there wasn't anyone else she wanted to share that celebration with. And that's when she admitted, at least to herself, that he was more than a crush.
The two started a relationship, of sorts, in secret. Slowly growing closer and more integral to each other's lives. She was always careful about covering up, giving no one reason to suspect. Not to say their relationship was all sunshine and roses. Hardly. She would turn from him, they'd fight (often physically), he'd have to pull her out of her self destructive behavior. The worst of it was when she found out she was pregnant. Now, there was no telling it was Jason's for sure, as their relationship wasn't exclusive, but she wouldn't take the chance. She cut off all contact with him when she found out and went through an abortion alone, and tried to go through the grieving period alone as well, not wanting him to see her in the emotional distress that came after. But that persistence. He found her, but she wouldn't admit why she'd stopped talking to him. Instead, she pushed and prodded him into a fight, making him beat the reason out of her. Perhaps she had to feel she'd been punished for it before she could really talk about it.
Why he stuck around through her displays of neuroses or her drug abuse or her sadomasochism, she never understood. And she always expected him to leave once he found something better. No matter the reassurances he gave, they never sank in. The months she spent there at Quiet Sun... probably would have been a lot harder without him there to lean on. And that was something else she only admitted with great reluctance.
Things changed, though. As they tend to. Someone from Silent Current found her, and old rival who stumbled into the right place at the right time. He also discovered the charach that was going on right under everyone's noses. And got proof. And then promptly blackmailed her. And while she thought she could probably get off with just a firm punishement, she worried about what would happen to Jason if it went public, given his history with the first law. So, she did what he asked. Which was to leave Quiet Sun and never look back while he slipped in and took over the tribe there. To turn things around, he said. Shadow Lords deserved to be on top, not begging the others for their approval. Get out, never return, don't speak to Jason. He even gave her a specific sept to go to, deep in rural Texas. So. She did the only thing she could do. She broke Jason's heart to keep him from following after her and getting them both exposed, keeping in tact both of their hard-earned reputations. It was the hardest thing she'd ever done, looking her lover in the face and letting him it was all an act, a lie, but she did it without sheding a tear. At least until she was absolutely alone.
So she left her small haven, the one place she'd actually been happy and the one person that had ever made her happy and started over again. What Leyna found at The Sept of Black Gold was a big problem and lots of flailing and panicking. As Abilene, the town nearby, had a problem of the vampire persuasion. She found out her rival had just come from there and had promised to send someone who could help. Asking, it seems, didn't occur to him. So, she dove right in, teaching the garou there about vampires, what to watch for, how to kill them, things that certainly would not kill them, the works. She was like a consultant, getting them ready for what they were facing.
While there, she came to the rescue of one of the state's most successful and wealthy individuals, Caleb Hughes. The vampires were after him, eager to use his position and money and power to their own ends. Leyna had been following them, making notes of where they were going and what they were up to and just happened to catch on. She had to tresspass on the man's property and broke a window, but she got in and was able to stop the vampire who had come after him. It was quite the shock to the man, finding out Vampires were real, but he took the news in a gentle, lighthearted fashion, even able to laugh it off.
He was an older gentleman, in his fifties, but still healthy and handsome in his own way. Inherited the fortune his family accrued when his father struck oil. Tycoons, the Hughes family. He'd offered her a reward for saving him, but she refused. Her refusal seemed to intrigue the man and the two embarked on a years long courtship. She led him, of course, but to all outward appearances, it was an older man pursuing a younger woman who was just a bit reluctant. While much of that reluctance was part of the seduction, some of it was simply because she was still in love with someone else. Someone she wasn't allowed to have.
But, Caleb was a nice man. Gentle in his strength and treated her softly and kindly. She'd be set for life, for several lives, with him. Even if his kindness was everything she didn't want. As the courtship went on, Leyna pulled further and further from the sept, focusing more on the world on the other side of the veil. Two years after she arrived, she and Caleb married. To all outward appearances, she was happy. She was even faithful. Garou society became a far removed thing, as her focus was on helping him with his business affairs and learning how to fake being a lady of society. She even became an accepted member of his family.
She wasn't... happy, exactly, but content during her time with Caleb. It was a fairly simple life and Caleb was busy enough that she had enough time to work out her neuroses when he wasn't around. When he was around, he wasn't demanding or pushy, but rather seemed to genuinely enjoy her as company. He was always concerned about her innate sadness, and would ask about it, but she'd say something different everytime. Missing her family. Watched a depressing movie. Whatever came to mind. He was a sweet man. The people they knew always commented that they seemed so very in love.
Nevermind that Leyna was playing a part, and he was in love with a phantom.
Good times never did last long for Leyna and shortly after their first wedding anniversary, when she was having lunch with Caleb's sister, they got the call that he'd been in an accident. The shock and the tears weren't entirely faked, as Leyna had cared for him. And hearing about the crash was quite a blow. The whole family was so supportive, her sister insisting she stay there instead of going home. The funeral and reception were filled with praises of the man himself and condolences for her. It was the reading of the will that flipped things. While his chunk of the family business was left to his brother and sister, Caleb's sizable fortune and estate were left to Leyna herself.
His family turned on her then, calling everything they could into question. When the will was ruled legally binding, they insisted she'd had him murdered. And when the authorities ruled that it had been an accident, they hired a private eye to follow her about. She knew she'd made enemies that day, but it wasn't anything she wasn't prepared for. After all, the will had been her idea in the first place. She just didn't expect to be dealing with it so soon.
As things were getting settled legally, Leyna was working on getting the house packed up, things stored or slotted for selling later and the house was mostly empty when he showed up. Her rival. He appeared through her bedroom mirror, grinning ear to ear. He started with taunting her about Jason. Telling her how he'd been watching and Jason had moved on. He did her a favor, see? He would have walked out on her if she hadn't first. She had less than ladylike things to say back to him, but he insisted that he'd done her another favor. After all, there she was, with more money than she knew what to do with. And not even a thanks for the man who orchestrated the whole thing? Including the death. Bianca asked him why he was doing this to her, and he answered simply that he didn't like seeing her happy. She didn't deserve it, all those awful things she'd done. She didn't deserve it.
He wasn't long for the world after that, as she ever so calmly pulled her silver-loaded pistol out of her bedside table and shot him through the forehead. He didn't even really have time to react. She cleaned up the mess, then mourned her lost happiness. Her Jason, her Caleb.
It would occur that she was free to return to Jason now, but there were several things holding her back. One, she had been rather cruel to him when she left, and although it had been years... maybe he wouldn't forgive her. Maybe she wouldn't be able to explain. And the ever-present problem that they were both garou and it was probably smarter to stay away. That, and her rival's words were something she also believed. She just didn't deserve to be happy.
But. Jason would haunt her thoughts in those times. Nothing /really/ was keeping them apart. She could go try... if only she wasn't so afraid. She started putting out feelers to other septs, just to see how things were after she'd been out of the game for so long. It was another vampire problem that caught her attention. And once things were actually settled, she had her estate sold and her fortune in her name once and for all... she left. Away from the hateful stares from her in-laws and off to the more familiar, less worrisome battlegrounds.
It was in the Sept of the Southland in Los Angeles where she took up the drums. On her own and so uncertain of what she was doing or just how many enemies she had out there... her self loathing was coming back in full swing. So she lost herself in the fight and she worked out her issues during drum lessons. She went through a lot of drumsticks. But it turned out to be a good way to get her mind cleared, as she would need her focus on what she was doing, rather than letting it wander. It was a trick she would continue to empoly for years. That, and throwing herself at the enemy. Half suicide mission, half hunt for penance.
She gained one battle scar in this time, as her philosophy went from 'let the ahrouns handle it' to 'let me at'em'. She was captured by Black Spiral Dancers at one point, in her rather lovely and expensive Beverly Hills apartment, and kept there for torture. The asked her questions about the sept, but she refused to answer. For days. Finally, they decided to just kill her, and they did so by pouring a poison down her throat. It made her too unfocused to shift, but not so out of it she couldn't feel the excruciating pain. The others arrived before she died, but not soon enough to save her. Some chased off the Dancers, but the Theurge there stayed with Bianca as she was slowly killed by the poison. It was said she whispered Jason's name with her last breath.
Perhaps it was the thought of him that gave her the will to live on, as that Theurge that had to calm her from her frenzy when she came back. And it was that Theurge that discovered the poison had eaten away at her internal organs. By chance, she came back with a battlescar that left her unable to have children and she was hit with a whole new wave of guilt and remorse for the child she aborted all those years before. She didn't leave her apartment for weeks.
And she never really recovered. A return to a life of drugs and self abuse followed once she did get out again, and she picked up the stripping as part of 'the lifestyle'. A fall from grace, to be sure. She was back to finding vampires to give her the bite for the rush, she even built up a sort of rapport with the locals. It was, in fact, a vampire that alerted her about the inflitrator to the sept. She was skepitcal at first, but when she voiced her "paranoia" to the other ragabash in the sept, a few others took interest. And eventually, there was a twenty-four hour watch on the suspect.
It was uncovered that this was a Dancer posing as a kin to get information about the sept and caern. Since their interrogations of members of the sept hadn't worked. Bianca, hearing that, claimed the interrogation of the prisoner for herself. She was allowed time alone to do her work, and she eventually was able to get information out of the Dancer. What their plans were, how much they knew, how he was cloaking himself. And that is how she ended up with the Dance of Masks fetish. She killed the Dancer and assured the sept the fetish's spirit had been released. And then she left.
Specifically, she went to the Umbra to negotiate with the spirit in the fetish. Nyx, spirit of Night. Nyx agreed to keep her secret if she went on a quest. Leyna quickly agreed and she was given the location of four Night spirits in slumber who she was to awaken. As it turned out, she was led to a tower in the Umbra and told she would find them inside.
It was clear to Leyna that Nyx was sending her to die, but she'd been in similar situations before and went in without much second thought. Because she was tired of all the loss. She was tired of the pain, the anger, the fight, the fear. And because... if she could have this fetish that made her appear as a kin... maybe she could have Jason back. If she could convince him she was worth taking back. At least she'd have this as a selling point. If she could actually awaken these spirits, that is.
When she entered the first floor, the door melted into the wall, leaving her no exit but up. The illusions that came to her felt real, the pain and humiliation of Dancers fading into her vision and putting her through what felt like hours of torture. The sort of torture that leaves a woman shaken and small, and worse. Helpless. But she was able to recall her mission, and the illusions faded when she awoke the slumbering Night Spirit within the room. She climbed to the next level and walking into the next illusion. Her hated rival and his machinations. Where the Dancer's tormented her physically, he did so mentally, leaving her confidence shaken even as she woke the next Spirit. The third floor was a bit harsher, as a vampire stood watching for her in the darkness and she experienced herself turned into an Abomination, her very sense of self threatened, but she fought through the illusion and awoke the third spirit as well.
The top floor... was designed as a more emotional attack, as what awaited her there was Jason. And angry, bitter version of him, as he was in so many of her own nightmares. She stood through his many accusations about her lack of character, morals or heart, and she let him go on for some time before she finally freed the last spirit. No defense came for his bile.
Returning to Nyx, the bound spirit was... not entirely pleased with her performance. She wasn't ever clear on why, but she demanded more. Leyna agreed to give more, motivated by desperation and a shaken disposition. She wasn't even fully aware of what the spirit was doing, in the long run. But she did endure /days/ of constant bombardment of fear after fear, instilling in her the tendency to hallucinate she would only come to realize when it was far too late.
Once Nyx was appeased, Bianca bonded with the fetish and left the umbra with one goal in mind. Find Jason. But, before she set out on a long, tedious journey of tracking him with Questing Stone, she came back to the Theurge in to ask for a favor. That Theurge performed a ritual for her, asking the spirits to aid in breaking the spiritual bonds between Leyna and her name. She chose a new one, Bianca Mikhaylov, to be bound to and set out on a new life. Of course, she had her name changed in the real world, too, and covered as much of the paper trail between Leyna and Bianca as she could. It's a wonder what you can get accomplished with enough money.
When she eventually found him in Faerie Ring, she almost walked away again. She spent days watching and stalling. Partially to see if there was some lovely, wonderful, happy homelife she'd be making a mess of, and partially out of straight out fear. What would he say? Would there be a scene? Would he even let her speak to him? She rehearsed a number of speeches, pleas, explanations, you name it. But when she finally approached him in a bar he frequented, instead of anything she'd practiced, she threw a cliched pickup line with a crooked smile. And she was prepared for any reaction he could have had. Yelling, shoving, ignoring, yelling louder; she was ready for anything. Anything except his actually being glad to see her. Not just glad, happy. He even bought the next round of drinks.
It was a much happier reunion than she'd been expecting, to say the least. And, as the two rekindled, stories were exchanged, circumstances explained (to a degree), and they quickly fell into their old patterns. Happily. Except, of course, with her posing as a kin to the sept. It was about two months after she started using the fetish that the hallucinations started. Vivid, real, interactive hallucinations. Some of them ended up with her attacking nothing, or harming herself or huddled in a corner crying to herself, but they were always intense. She tried to keep them from Jason, thinking she could keep them under control and deal with them herself, but as they persisted, it wasn't long before he found out. She recognized she shouldn't have been surprised that he wanted to help her through them, but she was nonetheless.
The question of packing was an old disagreement between them, as Bianca had always refused in the past. And this time was no different, at first. Too risky. Her answer changed, though, when he told her which totem he had in mind. There could be only one totem who would take a pair like them on, after all.
Bianca had to admit, she was excited to try for the totem. And curious. After all, it was her first totem quest. She could only imagine what sort of tasks Coyote would ask of them, but she did have to remind herself that Coyote wasn't going to be like the Night Spirit. Or, at least, she hoped it wouldn't be. Trepidatious and anxious, she went with Jason into the umbra to find Coyote. Much to her surprise, Coyote was there waiting for them, all smiles and excitement. He introduced himself as Ivan the Fool, but the pair didn't need to give their names, he knew them already. The spirit was, quite frankly, impressed by what they were trying to pull over the Nation's eyes, and as if it fulfilled the admission criteria, he laid out their task to them with no further ado.
There was a man, human, not tainted, who had recently bought a large expanse of wilderness. He wanted to build a shopping mall. Ivan asked them to stop in in the spirit of Coyote. If they could do this good deed for Gaia and the Wyld and make Coyote laugh while doing it, he would be their patron spirit.
For the two ragabash, it was like being handed a gift. They came at the problem with a two prong attack, so to speak. Bianca posed as a potential investor to gain access to his office and meetings and gatherings of any sort. And she simply made him have a hard time keeping his mind on track. By use of her Gift, of course. With Hush and a fair sense of comedic timing, the owner was no longer the charming public speaker, but a man who stumbled over his words. Of course, while Bianca was toying with him in this fashion, Jason was sneaking around setting up some crafty gaslighting. The man was sent into a downward spiral of mindgames. The second prong they came at together and that was the site itself. A few stories planted here and there, and some clever set up and they had the workers believing the land was cursed. Ghosts haunting the equipment, people swearing they saw witches or monsters or what not. Just a little push and they took they idea and ran with it straight into paranoia. It wasn't too long before the construction shut down. And the owner went in for some psychiatric treatment.
And so pair became pack, along with Ivan, of course. And took to life with gusto. Bianca was involved in the septs they visited, but only as an edge figure, letting Jason be the front runner with the garou. Just safer that way. Plus, she had her money to look after, and society to take by storm. She took to her role of supporting the garou, gladly leaving behind the duty of a soldier in the war. To her mind, that war had cost her enough already.
But, that war would never stop being just at her doorstep and it would never stop taking its toll from either of them. They were along for a convoy between septs, Jason leading a group of cliaths and kin through some dangerous territory. Dancer territory. The ragabash led them through quietly and swiftly, with Bianca looking after the kin. The fear was palpable among those that didn't have the Garou's strength, and while that fear did wonders for keeping everyone quiet, it also made them jumpy. It was bad luck, frankly. One of the black-furred cliaths came up on some of the kin a little too quietly and startled them enough to start them screaming. Bianca did her best to get them quiet again, but the damage was done.
When the dark, deformed figured formed out of the trees, Bianca froze. She prayed for them to just be one of her hallucinations, hoped, begged whatever deity was listening. Of course, whether they were or not, their visages brought back extremely unwelcome memories for the woman. She remained frozen as the garou went to battle, her arm idly holding one of the children that was huddled against her. Her gaze stated on the fighting, though, watching the Gaians fighting off superior forces. She watched them fall, watched them kill, unable to act. And not wanting to, either. It was one of the cliaths who came and scooped up the child with her that got her to move, taking the direction to get the kin away from the fighting. And it was just as Bianca was glancing back toward Jason that she saw it happen. The jaws of the Spiral closed around his throat before it ripped it clean from him. She watched his body go slack and fall toward the ground. She didn't need to check to see that he was dead, the blood and gore told her plenty.
It was an emotionless shell that pulled out her gun and checked it for bullets at that moment, Bianca having shoved down the grief and the tears and the wailing for now. She didn't shy away from staring that Spiral in the eye, a silent moment like two duelists waiting for the signal. It was the Spiral's roar and forward charge that broke the silence, rushing at Bianca with rage-driven speed. It was possibly just luck that she was able to aim and fire in time, silver bullet lodging into its brain. It stumbled to the ground at her feet and she fired a few more into it for good measure. The shots drew attention, of course, both good and bad. But those that arrived from the convoy were able to knock Jason out of the frenzy that came along with his return to the living, but once he was down, Bianca shooed the others away, insisting on caring for him herself. Especially since they had no healers with them.
When it turned out the wound to his neck healed with a scar, Bianca was just about as heartbroken as he was. But she toughened up. As he spiraled down toward dangerous levels of depression with the loss of his voice, she took it upon herself to hold him above the water. Of course, with her own problems haunting her, it turned out to be a bit like a cracking damn holding back a river, but she was determined not to give up.
It was that determination that drove her to hunt out people who could help. Something that could help. Calling in a favor owed from a few contacts, eventually a possible answer came. Crystal Springs.