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located in Steampowered London - 1885, a part of Death Comes to London, one of the many universes on RPG.

Steampowered London - 1885

A metropolis of clockwork and steam.

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Character Portrait: Khalil Jaziri Character Portrait: Beatrix Castine
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London - The Red Moon
June 28, 1885 - 22:11 p.m. - Drizzle
Dorian Graham


Dorian sighed heavily into his drink. He could almost hear his nephew laughing at his current predicament. Considering that Khalil was currently amusing himself in the company of two women, it might have been a little strange to some people. Dorian couldn't read minds, and he certainly didn't have the hearing of a dhampir, or what-have-you. He just knew his nephew better than most. And considering the establishment they were currently visiting, he didn't blame Khalil; not in the slightest. The reason for his visit, though, sat at a table not too far from him.

With raven hair, a beautiful smile that could light up a room... it was difficult to even breathe in her presence. The Eastern features to her face only seemed to accentuate the sort of femininity most women couldn't acheive.

And he was a captive fool.

“You know, staring at someone is considered an unflattering trait in people," Khalil spoke, sliding into one of the empty seats in front of Dorian. Dorian merely pursed his lips at Khalil, and gave him a flat look. “I'm just saying; if you were a woman and a guy was staring at you like you were a piece of meat, you'd be put off by it, too," he continued, leaning forward on his hands.

“I'm not... is that true?" Dorian asked, his eyes widening slightly. Was that the reason she didn't talk to him? Because she found him repulsive? Khalil let out a bark of laughter, drawing eyes to their table in the process as Dorian tried to quiet him. “Shh, Khalil! We don't want to seem stranger than we already are!" he pleaded, causing Khalil to laugh a bit louder.

“Dor, have you not seen the place we're in?"

He had a point.

“She'll never talk to me, now, if she thinks I'm a... zahf," he spoke the last word in his native tongue. He wasn't entirely sure how to pronounce it in the language they spoke in London.

“Yeah, Dor, she thinks you're a creep," Khalil stated, rolling his eyes. “Look, just go talk to her; say hi if you can, and don't stare too long that you start drooling. She's right over there."

That was easier said than done, though.

She was presently occupied, it seemed, helping an unfamiliar girl adjust the way her dress lay on her shoulders. She was wearing a little gentle smile, and the way she shifted the garment gently on the girl's shoulders suggested genuine affection and care.

"Qipao are quite new even to me," she explained, shifting her hands up to neaten the fitted collar with long, delicate fingers. "Apparently they're all the rage in Shanghai now, the result of some new innovation in machine weaving. If it turns out to be too uncomfortable, please let me know. It's certainly not your uniform."

Apparently satisfied, she gave the girl a little nod, pulling part of her blonde hair forward over her shoulder. "There. Better?"

The young girl nodded her head and smiled brightly in return. “Yes, it is. Thank you," she started, and Dorian's eyes widened slightly. He was about to hear her name for the first time. Khalil wouldn't give it to him for some unknown reason, but here was his chance. “Miss—"

“Dorian!" and his heart dropped. “I'm talking to you," Khalil continued as Dorian turned towards his nephew, eyes slightly downcast towards the table. “Thought it'd be that easy, didn't you?" he spoke, his lips tilting slightly into a grin. “You've got to ask it straight from the horse's mouth if you want to know her name."

“She's not a horse, you twat," Dorian spoke, narrowing his eyes at Khalil. Khalil simply laughed it off but Dorian took a drink from his cup before setting it back onto the table. It was at this point, the young girl who'd been talking earlier, appeared with her, and Dorian felt his throat tighten a bit.

“Good evening, I'm Sibyl! Could I interest you in a reading?" she spoke, smiling just as brightly as she had been, before.

“What kind of reading?"

“A tarot one, if you're interested. I can do past, present, and future, or even your love life!"

“He wants one."

Dorian didn't have the chance to decline since the young woman slipped into one of the empty seats, and pulled out a deck of tarot cards.

Next to his arm, however, another drink appeared, this one in a fine-stemmed wineglass. From the scent alone, it was one of the oaken, full-bodied whites he preferred, with an unusual note of... vanilla? The hand that placed it led up to the amused expression and quirked eyebrow of her, at least until she let go of it.

"His generosity is noticed, and appreciated," she said, the words themselves suggesting that it was a response to Khalil. Her eyes—dark grey, nearly black—did not leave Dorian's, however. "Sibyl is only just beginning her work with us, and finds herself in need of a friendly face to practice on. I thought perhaps one of our dear regulars might not object." Her voice was like silk, smooth and rich.

"If you've no objections, I should like to sit in as well."

It was decided that the One was, indeed, a cruel One.

Those eyes... he could get lost in them for days. Years, even. The young woman, Sibyl, nodded her head in an enthusiastic manner, though, drawing Dorian away from her and towards Sibyl. “And since Mr. Khalil is someone I am acquainted with, if you'd be agreeable to it, I'd like to practice with you, Mr..." she trailed off, obviously asking for Dorian's name.

“Do... Dori," he tried to sputter out. He cleared his throat, slightly thankful for the darkness of his skin and of the room. He was almost certain his cheeks were slightly heated from his current debacle. “Dorian Graham," he finally managed out, causing Sibyl to nod her head.

“If you'd be so kind as to cut the deck, Mr. Dorian, I can begin working on your reading. Oh, but which kind would you like to know?"

“Definitely the future of his non-existent love-life," Khalil chimed in, causing Sibyl to giggle.

“I'm not sure what you mean by that, Mr. Khalil. Mr. Dorian's love-life just needs the right push, is all," she stated, causing Dorian to clear his throat in an awkward manner. Khalil didn't bother hiding the bark of laughter that left him.

She settled into a spot next to Sibyl, setting her own glass of wine—red, something fruity—down on the tabletop and folding her hands neatly on the surface. Apparently she was content mostly to observe the reading, as she'd said, though it seemed like her eyes flickered towards him more than once.

He swallowed thickly, and allowed his eyes to focus on Sibyl. He did as Sibyl asked of him, and shuffled the cards. He wasn't particularly thrilled with the subject of his tarot card reading, however; he couldn't exactly change it. If he did, he knew Khalil would try and revert it back, or call him some name that'd cause Dorian to suck it up and do it. And that was what Dorian was going to do. He'd allow Sibyl to read his tarot for love. He was beginning to think he didn't even have a chance at a normal one considering the person he was interested didn't seem remotely interested in him. The occasional eye contact didn't mean anything... or so that's what he thought.

“Alright Mr. Dorian, I'm going to need you to focus a bit on the cards, and project your thoughts and feelings into them. Once you do, I'll draw three of them, and we'll go from there. Are you ready?" she asked, causing Dorian to take in a deep breath.

He nodded.

“Great. Now, just focus as I shuffle through them," she spoke, and Dorian did his best to keep his thoughts in the right place. Even if it was a bit difficult with her in such close proximity. Once she was finished shuffling, she drew her first card. “Interesting," she stated, placing it down so that Dorian could see it. “This card is your past, and is The Knight of Pentacles. It symbolizes the virtues of patience, honor, and dependability. Having this in your spread means you possess these qualities as well," she spoke, smiling in his direction.

“You're not entirely off." Thankfully, she ignored Khalil, and continued.

“In this particular position, it tells me that the difficulties you have experienced in your love life have helped you to grow. You shouldn't give up on your aspirations, Mr. Dorian," she stated happily, glancing in her direction.

For her part, the club's mysterious owner smiled slightly over the rim of her wineglass before taking a sip. Oddly, her complexion seemed a little flush, though it wasn't especially warm in the room at the moment. She didn't seem to be intoxicated, either—Dorian was very familiar with the signs of that affliction.

"Aspirations, is it?" she said, so softly he almost missed the words. She arched a delicate eyebrow at him. "Those are always nice to have. What of his present, dear Sibyl?"

Beatrix smiled almost in a knowing way, and nodded her head. She drew a second card, and allowed the smile on her face to stretch further across. “This one, Mr. Dorian, represents your present and will give you some insight to your situation," she stated, showing him the card. “It's the Star." He would admit, he was a little unfamiliar with the tarot reading, but Sibyl seemed to know what she was doing.

“What does that mean?" he asked.

“The Star represents renewal for you, Mr. Dorian. It's a positive sign, especially if you or someone close to you is recovering from an illness or injury of some sort. It's also stating to conserve your energies, that way it'll lead to the best balance of extroversion. Finding someone to love is sometimes easiest when you're emotionally available to others. In your case, Mr. Dorian, it's having the strength to do something first."

He had to do something first? What did that mean? Again, she glanced in her direction, causing Dorian to do the same thing.

She looked back at Sibyl with almost a hint of remonstrance in her expression, about as gentle as it could be. "You don't need my approval, dear Sibyl, I think you're doing quite fine. It's solid advice besides—most people admire a fellow with a little initiative." The subtle reproach became the faintest hint of... challenge? Though it wasn't clear who it was aimed at.

"Perhaps you'd care to tell Dr. Graham of his future now?"

Sibyl seemed a little excited, and drew the last card. She didn't immediately show it, but whatever it was, it caused her to giggle. “This last card is your future, Mr. Dorian. It's the Wheel of Fortune. It speaks to good beginnings. If you continue down this path, this will inevitably lead you to spontaneous events that are rare opportunities to meet someone new. It'll lead you towards companionship, and if you see the value in all things, you will grow," she spoke, causing the familiar heat in Dorian's cheeks to return.

Khalil, however, couldn't seem to hold back his laughter any longer, and had to wipe something away from his eyes. “I told you she'd be good," he spoke, directing his attention towards her.

It... was a lot to take in, on Dorian's side. He was fairly certain she spoke his name, but his mind was currently swimming with all of the information Sibyl had given him.

"Very good, Sibyl," she said with a sly little smile. "Perhaps now you could read Mr. Jaziri's fortune, hm?" It was as if she sensed the need for Dorian to consider things and neatly turned away the two people most likely to crowd him.

In fact, the way the smile gentled when she turned her eyes to him, it was almost certain. "Do try the wine, Dr. Graham. I believe it will be to your liking. Perhaps especially at this moment?"

He took her advice, and grabbed the glass of wine. Perhaps he should have taken his time with it, however; he downed the glass as quickly as he possibly could. It wasn't his finest moment, but his throat was dry, and his own current emotional state wasn't quite where it should have been. Sibyl, however, motioned for Khalil to follow her elsewhere, perhaps to read his fortune from a different table.

That left them. Alone.

He fumbled with the empty glass, refusing to glance at her. Everything Sibyl had spoken of, was, in a sense, true. He needed to do something, say something to banish the awkward feeling he currently felt. It didn't help that he was also nervous. “Thank you for the wine," he finally managed out, though he didn't get a chance to actually enjoy it.

"You're welcome, of course." With his gaze adhered to his hands, he couldn't see her face, but it wasn't hard to tell that she was amused by something. It didn't seem to be mean-spirited though. In his peripheral vision, one of her hands moved, her thumb smoothing a droplet of wine away from the rim of her glass.

"You've been a regular here for... oh it must be about eight months now, yes? Since perhaps November of last year or so?" It seemed like a question she knew the answer to, as her tone suggested musing rather than uncertainty. "I hope it's been to your enjoyment; even if perhaps Khalil is the reason for it?"

Dorian was certain his heart was going to beat right out of his chest. It was thrumming loudly in his ears, and he swallowed thickly. Had she noticed for that long? Taking in a soft breath, he finally forced himself to glance up at her, his eyes meeting hers, and did his best to keep the glance as professional as he could. It figured that she knew Khalil's name, considering that his nephew was the reason Dorian even knew about The Red Moon.

“I didn't think I was that memorable," he finally spoke. “I'm his uncle, Dorian Graham," he finally introduced himself to her. Finally took that first step. And it didn't feel as liberating as he thought it would. If anything, it felt like his chest was tighter, and it was getting hard to breathe properly.

"You are," she said simply, though it was ambiguous whether she was telling him he was in fact memorable, or just confirming that she'd already known his name. Her smile was nothing more than a quirk of her lips, but she did extend her free hand forward over the table towards him.

"And I am Liang Wu, owner of the Red Moon. It is a pleasure to meet you at last, Dorian Graham." She tilted her head, and a lock of smooth hair fell forward over one delicate shoulder.

For a brief second, Dorian felt a little stupid. He stared at her hand before it registered exactly what had happened, and what he was supposed to do. He leaned slightly forward, and grabbed her hand, gently. He could feel a fine tremor go through his body before he placed a chaste kiss to the back of her hand, and settled back into his seat.

Part of him was slightly ecstatic that he'd finally learned her name, and the other part still felt slightly inebriated. Slow. Stupid. He couldn't get his thoughts set properly.

“It is a..." he paused, and cleared his throat. “It's a pleasure to finally meet you as well, Lady Wu," he stated, cursing himself momentarily for the mode of address. But he didn't particularly care, either. To him, she was a Lady.

She drew her hand back gently, ducking her head slightly for some reason that wasn't clear. "Truly," she said, voice soft and perhaps a trifle uncertain. "Miss is quite fine, if a title is needed. All told, I prefer Liang." She took a sip of the wine quite quickly; it would seem that something had pinked her cheeks.

Dorian felt his lips twitch, and before he knew it, he was smiling. “Liang," he spoke, testing out the way her name felt on his lips. He rather liked it. Perhaps too much. “If that is what you prefer, then I shall respect your wishes, Liang," he continued, the smile on his face growing wider. He could feel his eyes narrowing with the force of it.

She almost looked relieved when she smiled that time, something a little brighter, like something as simple as hearing her name made her happy enough to justify it.

"In that case, you've my gratitude... Dorian."

“For you, always," he replied. If he were slightly more sober, he'd have realized the words he'd spoken were a bit more intimate than he'd anticipated. As it were, he was simply happy enough that she'd called him Dorian, and that he had permission to use her first name. First step, perhaps that was what Sibyl meant when she told him that was what he needed.

Perhaps he ought to take more steps, but for now, he'd satisfy himself with this: knowing her name at last.

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