Damian nodded. “I know how that feels. If everything wasn’t hard enough, I can’t find a date to save my life. Everyone else in my class is going to watch the fireworks together, and here I am, sitting with the old people...” he sighed and looked across the room.
Lona chuckled. "Doesn't sound so bad to me. Speaking as an elf, elder's wisdom is very valuable, the older the better." Lona said. "But if your looking for company for a party, i'm available." Lona looks Damian up and down. "You seem nice enough."
Lona felt a tad awkward just then. "I hope that wasn't too forward of me."
Lona was not quite prepared to deal with a prick just yet. She'd just blown her cover as a confident, outgoing social person, and now she'd already run afoul of some pompous scholar without any clue who he was. She stepped back defensively, at a loss for words.
She'd rather have been fighting demons.
Just then, Lona thought of a most inappropriate song for Mr. Meister. But she was not here to pick fights, and her singing voice was known to send Bentwood Grey-tailed squirrels running for cover. Not that it was particularly bad... it just wasn't good enough for those snobbish squirrels. Lona's brothers and sisters could seduce the whole forest if they wanted too, and Lona was a little tone-deaf.
"You're out of luck, Meister. You're looking at the only elf who can't make the woodland creatures dance with her voice. But I'd be happy to do an interpretive dance for you some other time."
The Meister sucked his teeth and let his eyes wander across the room.
“A shame, but I’m sure you’re skilled in other ways, else you wouldn’t have made it here. Excuse me.” He stepped away and went to talk to one of his colleagues across the room.
“I hate that guy. He’s been top of the class every year, and won the Headmaster Tutorship. I’m not that good, but I-I’m no Ambrose!”
Damian saw a bit of confusion on Lona’s face.
“Ambrosia is a tincture full of a wizard’s blood. The college takes samples from everyone and stores them. Each contains an essence of True Name, which means if we go rogue or commit high treason it can be used to locate us. It’s also a powerful source of casting material. Him calling me Ambrose means I’m only worthy as a disposable casting tool, not as a wizard.”
"Ouch. I hate his type." Lona said. "The best way to deny them their own power is to never linger in the same room. Let them stew in their own worthless sense of self-importance." Lona huffed as she remembered one of her siblings. "Some of them are the reason I prefer the company of trees."
Damian laughed a little. “Well it’s hard to avoid people here sometimes. That’s why I wish I could leave the college, or maybe if he’d leave at least there’d be less hot gas in the castle.”
Damian’s grandfather started snoozing next to him.
“Oh, well I guess it’s time I put him to bed then. I’ll see you at the fireworks, okay? If you wanna see the best parts of the festival I’d go down that corridor.” He gestured to the north end of the room.
Damian woke his grandpa and helped him up and across the room, disappearing behind a door. While Lona got punch, she drew the attention of the woman dressed in a gothic gown with her pet bat.
“Ah, darling. Be careful with that punch.” She spoke with a strange accent that made her sound a bit posh, possibly from the city. “It’s a special magical punch made by yours truly, Madame Cosgrove. You are of legal drinking age, yes?”
Lona curtsied. "Pleased to meet you Madame Cosgrove. I may seem young, but lots of elves do. Love you're style." She ladled some of the enticing drink into a tumbler and rocked the liquid around pensively. "Let me see if your punch pulls any punches." She took a sip.
The Madame shook her hand. It was cold, like shaking hands with a corpse. It didn’t take much for Lona to notice the fangs and magical effects that made her eyes not red. This woman was a vampire. The tone of speaking was a dead giveaway for someone stuck out of time.
“Oh no, you’ll find most wizards to be stuffy and not a lot of fun. That’s why the festival has meaning to me. We can show our true colors!”
True colors indeed, Lona thought. Were the wizards aware that they had a predator on the premises? Did they care? "They may be stuffy, but so far I've noticed they have plenty of ways to make things interesting. True, they ought to have more fun, get out more, learn to see the forest through the trees. Instead of cutting down the trees to make books to get lost in their forest of knowledge where they miss the obvious."
Just then Lona was wondering what she ought to do with her own knowledge.
[Rolling for applicable laws and procedures for dealing with a known vampire, in case it comes up... 17]
Lona understood that vampires were once a powerful and immense foe facing mankind, and the response for a long time was to kill on sight or die with a wet sword. These days it was incredibly rare to find one that was aged and not recently corrupted by an outsider. Most of the old rules still applied, however it is seen as bad form to attack someone who had done nothing wrong, especially given a number of dhampir who managed to weave themselves into society.
“Ah yes. You have met the Meister, and the floating bear you entered with means you met the Ale Mage as well. A couple of characters they are. You should have known Zyrrec before the dementia took him. He was a colorful party guest for sure. Sometimes I catch that geezer trying to look up my skirt, and I’m just happy to see he’s not completely gone.”
Lona nodded. She'd decided that Madame Cosgrove wasn't a threat to be dismissed, but neither would Lona act on her own Hunter's instinct. This vampire was well established here, and would not be easy to uproot without allies or a just cause. Lona needed to find out who else knew Cosgrove, and whether Cosgrove could be trusted. That task, like the party, was peripheral to her business here.
"And what do you make of Zyrrec's grandson Damian? I think the Meister treated him rather rudely."
The Madame waved a dismissive hand in the air. “Oh, the Meister is rude to everybody except his mother. The boy had a tough upbringing without his father around. The headmaster has tried to be a good role model for him and everyone else here, including young Damian. That boy has potential, but for whatever reason he doesn’t do his school
work. I’ve had to flunk him this past year because he doesn’t attend my sessions.”