Description: Tsinghua has a business meeting with a certain business woman, Sybil Katherine. Everything starts pleasant, but sooner then later, the boy finds himself in her grasp and has to make an impossible decision.
If money makes the world go round, then the Earth's Axis was right in Metro. The reason for all this spinning wound be the U.S Stock Exchange. Fortunes rose and fell with the spin of that fortune's wheel. One quirk found on this little street that everyone in a suit gained familiarly with was the firm currently called Tiresias. They also knew that you should NEVER refer to it by the old name of Belfort & Belfort, lest they find fortunes rapidly become fickle.
Within the steel of the tower bustled all the activity of Tiresias. Th office had the old style of construction haphazardly updated with smooth modern furnishings, doing nothing to addressed the sense of bleached sterility. Phones rang out and were answered with synchronized lines. Paperwork fluttered about creating shell companies to hide buying patterns. Interns ran here and there with coffees, lunches, and with one particular case a bottle of wine. That wine courier moved to the center of the firm, the heart and brain of the operation.
As the poor intern entered the windowless room, he seized up when he saw his boss. A woman in a white suit was leaning back in her executive chair, heel up on the desk hands feeling over a readout of stock prices. A pen wrapped in a dollar was moving of its own force wrote instructions regarding what the shells would be buying and when they would be selling. The woman's face was hidden under a wide silk hat, trailed by her long black hair that piled over both sides of her chair. The intern meekly tried to get her attention about the wine delivery.
"M-m-m-Mrs. Johnson? Your Wi-"
The intern was interrupted by his boss jerking back up to attention upon hearing that name. Her voice was of reprimand as she started to hound at the intern. "It is Ms. Katherine now! Sybil if you were having trouble remembering." She leaned over on her desk, hand outstretched to accept the bottle. "You were also late, now I won't have time finish my first glass before my guest arrives." The intern managed to stop himself from shaking just enough to hand over the bottle. When he attempted to pour it for her, he found he hand slapped away.
"Don't bother yourself, you won't be making that mistake... Ever again."
Sybil Katherine took a sip of her wine as the intern exited the room, holding back the tears of a life ruined in a moment. Sybil just put her feet back up on the desk, awaiting her approaching guest.
And a few momens later, just about exactly on the appointed time, her guest would arrive- Going up the large tower by elevator after having gone through the hustle and bustle of Metro City. Speaking bluntly, her guest, Tao Tsinghua, looked a little overwhelmed by all the business of both the greater city, and the office he had to pass by before reaching the room his appointment was set for; A certain ms. Katherine's office.
He would enter carefully, knocking first and after having been given a respone, softly open- and close the door behind him, before facing Sybil and entering his deep, formal bow.
"Good afternoon, ms. Katherine. The Góng Estate wishes to thank you for arranging this meeting. My name is Tao Tsinghua, and I will today serve as a representative on my Master's behalf." Tsinghua introduces himself in the eastern way; Surname first.
The boy looked young. And by all common standards, too young. He is very short- Just over a foot shorter then ms. Katherine. He has longish forest green hair, and is wearing a very traditional snow-white chinese Hanfu.
He remains in this bow as a gesture of deference, holding the position until he's told otherwise.
As the envoy arrives in the office Sybil placed her feet right back to floor. By the time the boy is about to knock on the door, she had a warm inviting smile painted onto her face. When he knocks and is beckoned in, her wine glass has just a single sip left in it. She'd have to deal with that later.
"Oh Mr. Tao, it is just a charm to have you here. We have much to go over, particularly the rapid change of fortunes between the memo being sent and your arrival." She gestured towards the simple folding chair in the corner.
"Do grab a chair sweetie".
"Thank you kindly, ms. Katherine." He nods, as he follows her lead, moving the corner chair a bit closer to the desk before sitting down onto it, in a entirely straight posture. "I am glad to hear so, ms. Katherine. Your establishment seems to be most productive indeed- I do believe an agreement would have the potential to greatly benefit both our parties. After all, we are not quite as well-versed as we'd like in the world of investments and the such."
The boy, with the finesse of a fairly trained spokesperson, opens the discussion- Waiting for ms. Katherine's input on what specifically might be discussed as he sits straight with his hands resting on the upper legs.
The less well versed were always fine marks.
Warm and smiling, Sybil over viewed the options. "There are two matters I wished to discuss, the state of the primary as mentioned in my memo. Then a secondary issue I will elaborate afterwards." Sybil put on a mask of regret upon her mouth, her eyes still hidden behind her sunglasses. "I must sadly relay that since my sending of the memo, a paradigm shift of the macro-market maneuvers has been projected. The returns illustrated earlier are not as seemingly certain."
She returned the sense of confidence to her tone. "The potential profits is still present, but the risk has increased due to the incurred delay." The broker continued her sweet little, 'exaggerations'. "If the Gong's are to seize the market potential, they will have to act decisively."
The boy looks a little sheepishly at her explanation- Many of the jargon he's unfamiliar with. Her overall point, though, does seem to get across to Tsinghua. "Understood- If we want to proceed with this type of investment, we will have to act quickly. Though ultimately, there is the possiblity money can be lost on this type of endeavor, correct? And the risk of that scenario occuring has greatened."
He rests his chin in his hand thinking for a moment. "Would you believe that a favorable result is more likely then a unfavorable one? My master does not wish to invest money in any type of exorbitant scale- As this is a new market to us, we wish to take it relatively slow; Test the waters, if you will. There is not a doubt in my mind that you are a legitimate businesswoman, yet when it comes to large amounts of captial, we do prefer to be careful, you see."
Sybil focused on that word. "Fate is fickle, every action is a gamble. But it is by sufficient skill that misfortune is avoided." She leaned back into her chair. Sent her arms out to gesture to all around her. "It is by my skill in investment that all you saw around you was acquired. From the phones, the lights, the very chair you sit in." The broker took off her headwear. "This hand made silk hat, these golden rings and shimmering gems upon my fingers, even my Tuesday Necklace." She was lifting up the gaudy golden dollar sign she wore about her neck.
"I turned nothing into Billions, would you be so scathing to say you could not trust me?"
Sybil let the boast and faux offense sink into the little errand boy. All the shock of risk and reward was just for show and excuse. She planned well that the money would only gain 1/10th of a percent while in her care, the good investments would all be into her coffers.
"Otherwise we can just move onto the second matter."
The boy is falling right into her hands, and manipulation- Lowering his head as he starts to apologize. "I apologize sincerely, ms. Katherine- I meant no disrespect, please forgive my discourtesy. Everything that you have accomplished is a testament to your abilities."
The kid starts to look genuinely nervous, perhaps afraid he might've blown the situation. "So following up, of course we trust you, ms. Katherine. We have no reason not too. We just want to take heed, and not fall into any sort of financial trap."
"If it would please you, however- I would be most glad to hear about this secondary matter."
As the boy submits his apologies, Sybil simply sips the last of her glass. The middle-aged woman was complaining and pretending offence until the teenaged employee did what she wanted. By the time she put down the empty glass, the warm motherly smile was turned back on.
"I understand your caution, all the fancy-smancy charts can seem confusing, and this is not the area of expertise." She placed down her glass. "You just wanted to loyally serve your master, as that is your expertise." The woman began kneading the boy's ego. "I have heard you have spent your life learning loyalty to your master, and you are such a good learner that you are sent across the world. You fight so wonderfully, and bravely." She prepared the start of her offer, the real reason she sent that memo to the Gongs.
"Would you like a job?"
"You honor me, ms. Katherine." Another bow- Or head-nod in this case. Swiftly followed by a somewhat confused tilt of his head. "A Job, ms. Katherine? Would you be talking about employing me to deliver a message to one of your other contacts? The service of us messengers are open to anyone we have entered a official agreement with- Such as the one discussed as we speak, so that possiblity is open to you, ms. Katherine."
His head tilts to the other side- "I would possibly be able to comply with other types of wishes or requests, within reason. It is, after all, one of our duties to make associates as content as possible with our service and presence." The boy is, more or less an open book about what he's been taught, as he's giving a bit of a rambly insight on what he's thinking.
Sybil just smiles more as the boy's loyalty does not yet intercede with her plans. "You are a messenger correct, I just so happen to like having a lot of messages." She raises her pointer finger to highlight her point. "In fact, I would like all of the messages you carry. Not denying them to where they are sent, simply knowing all that transpires for you my brave little messenger." From her sleave she produced a modest wad of cash. "It is bit of a long-term employment, but it's the easiest job in the world. You just simply do what you have always been doing, and I just receive the messages as well." She lowered the money to the desk in front of Tsinghua.
"I would be so contented if you accepted."
Tsinghua swallows, because he knows that his next set of statements will upset- or atleast discontent the woman. "I- I am terribly sorry, ms. Sybil. But I can't just- These messages are confidential, more often then not, you see."
"I am honored that you bear enough faith in me to make such a request, but I'm afraid I will not be able to comply- not for any sort of money, or any other reward.
The boy was scared, this was good.
Sybil removed the emotion from her face, and began pouring herself another cup of wine. She was going to let the boy soak in that fear, dreading what reaction the woman would throw upon him. "Your Master has a nephew yes?" She said with shocking calmness. "I am sure your master would be crushed, or possibly far worse, if said nephew was caught with some terribly dirty laundry."
She swished her glass of wine. On an entirely unrelated note, how deathly serious is bribery, corruption, and drug possession back where you come from?" She sampled a taste of her drink. "I hear the drugs alone could mean death." She took a moment to grab the bottle again.
"Care for a sampling?"
This had taken a turn for the worst, for the poor boy. "I- Is that, is that true? I can't believe mr. Deshi Gong would.."
His face glimmers in a brief moment of determination as he has a thought- "But I can- I can just report this to the master, and, and he'll he'll talk with..." His argument fizzles to an early close, as he realizes that making such a claim would likely lead to Tsinghua suffering some kind of punishment- or worse. Yet, he still does not give in to her demands entirely;
"I'm- Too young to have wine, ms. Katherine- but- but I- More importantly, if this comes out- Wouldn't that be f-for the best? This is none of my business, My Lady. Th-The Gong Family can handle such a setback..." Doubt, doubt and fear is obvious in the boy's expression- As well as the fact that barely held-back tears are starting to creep through his eyes, as all the pressure being put on him starts to get too much, and he knows.
That if ms. Katherine wills it so, Tsinghua's life could turn into a terrible hell with the flick of a switch. No one will listen to him, not when constested with the will of someone as rich and influencial as her.
Things had taken such a fine turn.
Ms. Katherine stood up from her chair and feigned a confused expression. "What coming out? What would you be reporting to your master? You are not mixing up what I said about the drugs are you?" She had the boy right where she wanted him. He had no evidence, but he had no idea about what exactly she knew.
"I simply wanted comment how loyally you served the Gongs, I know that saving the life of one would be the greatest show of loyalty, even if you violated orders to do so." Sybil started walking around her desk to Tsinghua's side. She was naturally a full foot taller than the teen, but the heels she was wearing mixed with the short chair she had him sit in, she was positively towering over him. She used a motherly tone again, but one that was as much ordering as reassurance.
"You are a good, loyal boy, aren't you?"
Tsinghua shrinks even further in his chair- Making the difference in presence (and literal size) between the two even more colossal. "I- I serve the Patriarch, Góng Shuren, most of all, m- ms. k-k-Katherine. I act in the way that I have been taught is best for him, and the estate as a w-whole."
He brings his hands to his head, resting them on top- A clear motion of distress as he shakes his head, tears rolling freely down the cheeks as they create dark spots on his pristinely white garb. "If Master Deshi bad things, then, then.."
"But I can't just let him risk- He might-" more, and more doubt- He obviously can't make up his mind.
And in a state such as that, it is frighteningly easy to be manipulated. Just a few simple nudges in the 'right' direction, as Sybil has been doing.
And that is enough to push him over the edge..
"I.. just have to relay the messages back to you, right? And Master Deshi will be alright?" He keeps crying- Although he manages to halt it somewhat, dabbing the tears away with the loose sleeves of his Hanfu.
He was caught.
Sybil pulled a handkerchief from her breast pocket and leaned over to help dab away his tears. "You don't need to worry about telling me anything, you just need to wear this." In her other hand small golden pendant bearing esoteric hermetic symbols, all tied upon a silvered chain. "Wear this and you won't even have to do any work to get me the messages. Just promise me to always have it with you." She extended the chain to the both sides of neck, allowing him to see the slow process of her placing it upon him. Waiting for him to accept it.
"And why are you crying? Deshi never did anything wrong, isn't that right?"
He can't move, not anymore. He can only sit and accept his fate as a unwilling spy as Sybil puts the pendant around his neck, and wipes away his tears.
A cold, lifeless response out of someone that lacks the will to talk back. "I apologize, ms. Katherine. My emotions got the better of me, you are correct. Everything will be fine, as it's always been." For now, he is holding them in; They might come later again, when he's alone- when no-one is there to judge him.
"Will that be all, ms. Katherine?"
He wants to leave- desperately escape from the current trap, before it can get even worse.
He would be leaving, but not out of the trap.
She enclosed the chain about his neck, and straightened back up to full height. "Oh, you worry about crying deary. My daughter used to come home crying all the time. I'm used to it." She playfully rustled Tsinghua's green hair.
The contact was an excuse for her powers to truly shine. Feeling his scalp, she began to see flashes of his past. Monsters, Demons, shady bars, all lain out before her. The pendant would serve her power in a similar way, relaying all that Tsinghua said, did, and heard, so long as he wore it.
"You know what I would do to my daughter when she started crying? I think that it might do you some good." She grabbed the paralyzed boy by both shoulders to lift him to a stand. While the gesture seemed to simply help the boy to his feet, the power behind her grip would not be unnoticed, unlike the further dives into his history. She craned her face to the side of Tsinghua's, matronly grin backdropped by her ever so large sunglasses, hat, and hair.
"Let's go get some ice cream, my treat!"
When Sybil ruffles his hair, he does not respond much- And of course he wouldn't realize what was going on. She might feel flashes of Tsinghua's very controlled upbringing. Lessons within the archaic rooms of the Gong Estate's many buildings; The voices of elderly instructors and mentors as Tao sits and listens silently. A tiny world. A tiny world that Tsinghua would never be able or willing to leave by himself. And a disturbing amount of nights in which the boy would be writhing in his sleep, the sheets rustling around him as drops of sweat roll down the boy's forehead- accompanied by the incomprehensible whispering of a secret language, spoken by the voice of an old woman. Amongst the dreary and depressing, is the back-and-forth of a friendly, personal conversation between Tsinghua and and an older male; His few moments of respite. And finally?
The feeling of candle being violently snuffed out and losing it's heat.
Back to the present, and Tsinghua lets himself be pulled up without resistance. Still looking straight forwards, as he listens to the grating sound of the seer's voice. And he responds in a weak, weak and plastic voice.
"If that is your wish, then I will gladly accompany you for ice cream. Thank you for the kindness, ms. Katherine."
Everything went exactly as planned. The boy was in her grip, just like the phones, the lights, the chairs, her hats, her bling, and all her employees. All the friends the boy had made and will make, it was just a matter of time before they joined him. So many pawns, all belonging to Sybil Katherine.
She shifted Tsinghua in her grip to have him start walking out of the room. She led him out just as she had led him on. She brought him to the elevator, which opened exactly when the pair arrived. She had been talking double and letting him draw his own conclusions, all until he thought he had not choice but take the job. Of course, he clearly had a choice, Sybil had not technically black-mailed the boy, just gave him every impression of such. The two entered the elevator and doors slowly slid shut, about to head down to the cafe on the third floor. Sybil's grin just grew wider.
Deshi was never even involved in the drugs.
Log created on 12:54:50 04/20/2021 by Tsinghua, and last modified on 14:52:01 04/22/2021.