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IC [Mage the Awakening] After the 2003 Hoax

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  • #91
    Hoplite dove into the tall grass next to the service road as the next message calmly entered his thoughts. “Take the road and you'll see a parked car on the right side a hundred feet away from the road. Lily is there. Wait for me there while I … neutralize your assailant.” Risking a glance behind him, he sprinted from cover, following the road around the backside of the hill to find Lily's car violently grinding its way towards him in a cloud of dust and burning oil. The concerned look on her face made him feel briefly hopeful until he remembered that Hei had spent the better part of an afternoon manipulating him into genuinely liking her.

    Lily leaned over and pushed the door open while struggling with the steering wheel, and Hoplite dove into the laboring vehicle.

    The car continued back around the bend in the road, towards where Hoplite's impromptu interment had been arranged. He desperately hoped that his anonymous friend liked to use “neutralize” as a euphemism for “obliterated into odd-sized meaty chunks”. The rifle she'd been using sounded scary loud and powerful. His heart sunk as Hei's smiling face appeared around the hillside, and his hand clawed into Lily's thigh, making her emit a “wark!” noise, as he attempted to vanish into the car seat.

    Horror turned into faint relief as he noticed that her hands were raised and following closely behind her was another woman bearing a a rifle with a bipod attached to it.

    Hoplite glared at Hei.

    Hei glanced back at her captor, smiled, and leveled her gaze at Hoplite.

    She didn't seem the least bit worried.

    She seemed... inconvenienced.

    His face flushed with anger and he scrambled into the backseat as the new woman demanded Hei open the passenger door at gunpoint, then made her sit in the front seat with her head on the dash and her fingers laced together behind it. The newcomer then opened the back passenger door and climbed in behind Hei, leaving the rifle pointed at the back of her head.

    Hoplite sat in the back seat, closed his eyes, and opened them to both the Supernal and the Emotional.

    Hei was calm. And fucking happy. And apparently smug was magenta.

    The trauma of the grave-digging expedition and the pent-up adrenaline had finally taken their toll. He gritted his teeth as the primal part of his mind exploded from its hiding place within, suddenly his head was full of shrieking horrors. Teleport a bubble of air into her jugular. Hoplite fought to regain control. Wipe their minds and run away! He wasn't sure he could do that quickly. Have violent sex with them! Wait, what?

    The last of his Id's suggestions caught him so off-guard that he burst out laughing. He hastily bound the nasty mental creature up in coherent ridicule and put him in his crate with his sippy cup and pornography.

    His eyes regained their focus, and he noticed that the others were staring at him.

    His hands were pointed at Hei, and nestled within them was a very small portal.

    To the car's fuel tank.

    He released the weave.


    He attempted his best rakish grin. At least he hadn't pressurized the tank yet.


    • #92
      The ever watchful eyes of Miss Watson left Hoplite and, as if nothing happened, merely reminded Lily to pay attention back to the road. Despite her calm demeanor, she could feel the heart-straining adrenaline being inject in her arms and legs, making them crawl with a warm chill.

      She saw how Hoplite’s mind began to bend inward, letting its grip on its own physical body slip. She was both horrified and fascinated at the sight now up close. In her mind, hypotheses already began to form as to how this was possible. This however, did not distract her from the imperative preparation to tear the spell asunder. Ever her gun was creeping away from Hei seat, just in case Hoplite became … incontrollable. Luckily, fingers uncrossed without incident.

      One conclusion was certain to Miss Watson: Hoplite would make a terrible spy. He was too trustful, rash, ignorant, clumsy with interactions, and far more concerned of a physical encounter than a psychological one. To top it all off, his control over something that she feared to be an unsettlingly effective way to hide treachery was disappointingly incompetent. If he had the expected composure to refrain from enacting revenge, it would have most certainly compromised his credibility. The irony that he needed to lose control and almost kill Hei to prove his innocence was not lost on Miss Watson, not that she would have allowed such a thing.

      Hei, on the other hand, speculated upon the possibility that Hoplite might have been really close to blowing up the car and owing reparations to hospitalized Lily. Nice move dude, trying to get into debt as soon as you’re broke. Not that I would have let it happen anyway. Hei’s ears were suddenly perked by Miss Watson’s words.

      “Lily, stop.” Miss Watson made eye contact with Hei, who peeked behind. “I’ve seen enough.”

      Lily nodded, and swerved the car off the gravely dirt and onto grass. Miss Watson, imagining Hoplite would be rather nervous by this unexpected update, quickly enunciated, “Everyone. Out.”

      Miss Watson turned to Lily and said, “Well, except you. Unless you’re interested in seeing this.”

      She hurried to step out of the car with a gun still pointed at Hei, a courtesy at this point. After leaving a conversation distance between Hoplite, Miss Watson took off her headphones poked Hei’s back thrice and lowered her gun.

      “It’s over.”

      “Thank God. I was just starting to get tired.”

      And with that Hei drew back her hoodie, exposing her short-cropped hair. She pulled out her earphones and vigorously dug in her ear with her pinkie. “Damn, who knew having earphones in for ten hours hurts so much.”

      With some trouble, Hei took off her backpack. “And carrying around a radio was a pain in the ass too. How comes you got all the light stuff?”

      She playfully punched Miss Watson on the shoulder, who in turn rubbed the sharp pain away. Hei looked and grinned at an expression that she wouldn’t forget in a while.

      “Oh yeah, forgot to tell yah. No paradox scar. Just magicky makeup.” She turned her head sideways to show clean ears.

      “And no bullets” She raised her ‘shot arm’ waved them furiously for emphasis.

      Miss Watson gently but swiftly pushed Hei away as she unloaded the magazine and dropped the gun.

      She snapped sharply at her rude companion. “Hei, stop delaying explanation any more than we have to; he’s scared.”

      Miss Watson held her hands in plain view as a pacifistic gesture.

      “Alright, Mr.Hoplite. I know you are very, very confused, which is why I say this quick. Obadiah did indeed send us both to escort and introduce you to the mage society and butbynomeans was that initiation process. See, you were a special case and there needed to be confirmation that you weren’t an agent seeking to mingle and sabotage, so we were chosen to, well, ‘interrogate’ you. It was Obadiah who urged us to. As for the psychological examinations, I should inform to you if you haven’t noticed already, it was specifically limited to emotional readings only in respect of your rights to … privacy. If you can’t believe me, here’s my credential”

      Miss Watson pulled and unfolded a paper linked to her in Fate, courtesy to the Provost, and handed it to him for him to read.

      “Now, I know what happened at the field is inexcusable, but I assure you, by my mentor’s grave that BY NO MEANS was it orchestrated to trigger your trauma. That was pure coincidence and a simple bad turn of fate. I understand how distasteful it still is, but it was necessary to assure you a safe place, as you were promised. And …”

      Hei suddenly held her finger against Miss Watson’s lips and said, “Shhhhhh. Enough talking. More party.” And with that, Hei tossed confetti that she fished out of her bag. She walked up to Hoplite tossed another round. She clapped her hands and spoke with gusto.

      “Congratulations! You have been officially dubbed totally-not-guilty-of-anything, so you won’t be broke AND homeless. OR get kidnapped by people who will not-exactly-torture you persay to make you tell them stuff you don’t want to in the foreseeable future. And err.. well.”

      Hei scratched the back of her head with her eyes turning away from Hoplite’s.

      “I’m sorry. For the whole ‘I’m going to kill you’ thing. And that I was sorta having fun doing that. And for that whole … you know, nailing you in your emotion nuggets. So can we be”

      Before Hei could say the last word, Miss Watson put her hand on Hei’s shoulder.

      “Not now, Hei. This sort of thing needs time. Let’s … go home.”

      Miss Watson spoke before Hoplite could respond.

      “Please, go back to your hostel. Lily will take you there, and tell her she’s done for the day. I need time to think. I’ll come by to answer questions.”
      And with that, Miss Watson turned and walked toward Hei. They then both walked together away from Hoplite and the car.

      Hei darted her eyes and leaned over to ask, “Hey, umm. Where are we going?”

      “To the truck of course.”

      “Yeah, but that’s going to take a while. It’s gonna look awkward just walking away like this.”

      Miss Watson could only laugh half-heartedly.


      • #93
        Hoplite didn't remember a lot of the ride back to his downtown hostel. Lily, sensing his ebbing distress, kept mercifully quiet. He looked out at the setting sun as it began painting the sky in rich oranges, reds, and purples. And even a bit magenta. He wondered if the sun felt smug. It really was very beautiful here. He decided to take inventory.

        Hei was... perplexing. Her pixie-like charm and easy attitude made her all the more scary when she took a turn for the menacing. He had the distinct impression that she could have turned him inside-out with very little effort.

        But on the other hand she seemed so... confident. She knew who she was. She was in control of her destiny. She didn't run away. She faced things and had demonstrated a lot of courage. For chrissakes, she had taken him out to a field alone thinking that he could have been some sort of evil wizard bent on her destruction. He wasn't too proud to admit to himself that he would've vanished to the next city if someone had asked him to do that.

        Despite her best efforts, he decided that he liked her. He smiled faintly as he pulled a piece of confetti from a fold in his jacket.

        His stomach lurched as he saw the shovel sitting in the seat next to him. He remembered her cold eyes.

        But he wouldn't necessarily trust her.

        He returned his gaze outside and looked at the piece of paper the other woman had handed to him. It was from the Provost and provided a terse introduction of Miss Watson.

        She was his link back to Obadiah. A friend-of-a-friend. She seemed to be Hei's close friend, or maybe mentor. Which made sense. Her calm professionalism seemed to be the perfect foil for Hei's seeming brashness. He'd tried to get a clearer sense of them as they had walked away, but to no avail. He had been a little bit too rattled to put together some sort of magical analysis. He desperately wanted to cling to Miss Watson as a life-raft. He could feel the wild hope surging within him that would've pushed him towards her, but he stepped on it and ground it under his heel.

        Salvation would only come from within.

        He wouldn't rely on others for protection any longer. He would protect himself.

        He wouldn't run and hide anymore. He would face the things he was afraid of.

        “Yer a Wizard, Harry.” He said in his best Hagrid impression.

        Lily, sensing the releasing tension, snorted. Hoplite turned to her.

        “Hey Lily, let's get waffles on the way back. Hei showed me a place. My treat.”

        He added “Get a job, slacker.” to his mental list of things-to-do.

        Later, back at the hostel, Hoplite sat alone in his room. His magic had always come to him unbidden. He suspected that his dark friend was better at bringing it to bear, though he didn't understand why. It was always sloppy, ferocious, and it quite often hurt to do. He had long ago segmented his mind, pushing his lust, wrath, and craven fear into a corner until it had grown a personality of its own. Subsequently, he had learned to draw from it, leeching will from it like a vampire occasionally. But today had taught him that it had grown more powerful. It had nearly taken the reins from him in the car. It had always made Obadiah uncomfortable and worried to see Hoplite take such a antagonistic approach to his own personality, and he had sensed worry from Miss Watson and Hei, too.

        Hoplite took off his jacket and rubbed his hands together.

        It was time to make his own magic.


        • #94
          At the same time Hoplite started to work his magic, Mouse was reporting to Psychosis. When he got to the part about losing Hoplite and Hei, the Heirarch interjected, "No need to concern yourself over your failure. You may go. Thank you for your efforts."

          "Wait," replied Mouse. "There is more I should tell you." He then went on to describe the failed abduction or assassination attempt against himself.

          "You best go into hiding," advised Psychosis. "That, at least, you do well."

          Mouse kept his composure. "As you advise, Great One."

          Last edited by Cire; 02-21-2014, 11:47 AM. Reason: Lost Text


          • #95
            “You know, I have a better idea than just walking.” Hei said as she soon as she couldn’t see Lily’s car.

            Miss Watson responded in the only possible manner. “And what would that idea be?”

            Hei bent down on her knees and held out her arm behind her. She flicked her hands in encouragement. “Let me drive you, miss, to the truck.”

            Miss Watson crossed her arms and, with a frank and immediate manner, replied, “No.”

            Hei turned to see Miss Watson lifting her lips to show her upper set of teeth, where a tooth was distinctively vacant.

            “Last time we tried that, my face smashed against the back of your head. I remember very clearly that you got knocked out and I was bleeding very painfully from my nose and my mouth. So no.”

            “Alright, alright. But I promise, I got a lot of practice since that schtick happened, so I’m really good at slowing down slooowly. I swear on my life that it won’t happen again, and if it does, I swear on my life that I won’t get knocked out so I can get you to a hospital so you can still keep your tooth this time.”

            Miss Watson gave a leeway look and pointed her finger at Hei. “Fine. But just be careful with your ammo there. I don’t want to liquid out my favors just so I can get more emergency tass for your squanderin’.” She muttered under her breath about how the Guardians would disapprove of Hei’s reckless love for these sorts of thrill.

            Hei simply grinned as Miss Watson put her arms around Hei’s neck and slid her legs under Hei’s arm. With a grunt, Hei lifted Miss Watson and shifted her around her back to fasten her position. She breathed a whisper. Miss Watson pressed her check against Hei’s shoulder, taking account that if it all went wrong, at least her forehead wouldn’t snap Hei’s neck vertebras.

            “Hold tight and close.”

            Hei imagined that the ground would push against the impact of her stomps, creating a shockwave crater. With that image in mind, she weaved a spell around her (Burst of Speed: MtA sourcebook) and launched off as hard as she could. Air dragged into a spiral of hyperspace, and wind bellowed against their ears. Grass parted in their path, and dirt kicked when Hei’s shoes. She covered unbelievable distances with each stride as if she was barely on the ground. Miss Watson opened her eyes and watched in silent wonder, immersing herself in the sensation that she was riding a horse.

            Hei hopped on a fencepost with her right foot and jumped off, living every second of the flight.


            Hei gripped on the wheel and stepped on the gas pedal.

            “So why aren’t you going over there right now and get this whatever done for the day?”

            Miss Watson clipped on her seatbelt, shifting herself into a more comfortable position.

            “Because Hoplite needs some distance right now. He should be feeling pretty overwhelmed considering we put him at gunpoint one moment and proclaimed to be friends the next. He would appreciate in the future that we gave the time he needs to calm down from his distress and collect himself before asking to choose his questions.

            “So basically he needs to dry the piss in his pants.” Hei chuckled somewhat immaturely as she drove the car onto more paved pathway.

            Miss Watson picked and pulled at the blades of grass stuck on her clothes. “I also need to take a shower. The last thing I need is some disgusting ticks getting a bite on me, and I don’t trust the grass.”

            Hei absent mindedly turned and on the radio and fiddled the volume to a low hum. “Didn’t know New Zealand had ticks. Just thought ticks would somewhere be in the list of stuff we left behind in America.”

            The station announcer introduced the special guest of the evening playing live, but his name didn’t ring any bell on either of their minds. After joking about having the wrong harmonica, the man strummed the guitar and soon started to sing.

            Miss Watson casually noted that she haven’t heard the song before, appreciating for the simple novelty. Hei recalled that her brother once tried to set up a duet with him on guitar and her on harmonica. She could still see in her memory the graceful sound that her brother made when he pressed his dexterous fingers on the strings and the silly, cacophonic noises when she tried to blow on the harmonica. How her mother scolded both of them when she found out her daughter wasn’t studying with the midterms coming the day after. How her brother secretly promised her that they would do this again somewhere more hush-hush. He promised that they would practice until they can play it for her mother’s birthday.

            She remembered the song on the radio was called Heart of Gold.

            Miss Watson coughed to get Hei’s attention. Hei turned to see what she wanted to say.

            “Hei. I know you want to be friends with Hoplite.”

            Hei gave an incredulous look. “Yeah, so? What, you’re worried that he’s going to replace you or something?” Hei laughed “Are you seriously jealous? Come on, even if he had the money to invite me to an actual flat, we just met. That would be super weird. He’s pretty, but I’m not dumb to put out just for that.”

            Hei gradually stopped laughing when she saw Miss Watson wasn’t sharing the sentiment.

            “I know you feel sorry for what you had to do and that you want to make it up to him. But you have to understand, what you did … it opened a scar. He’s going to say he’s fine to be polite, but he probably now has you connected with whatever happened to him that made him scared for life. Also … I’m worried that you feel more inclined to help him because … you’re influenced.”

            Miss Watson cringed at her last comment, not daring to look how Hei would respond. Hei peeked at Miss Watson with confusion.

            “… what?”

            Miss Watson looked out the window at the land glowing with the colors of the setting sun. She could see her own face reflected on the glass, reminding her of a distant time not five years ago.

            “Hoplite had a spell to help him make you like him. And we planned that you wouldn’t cast any shield for yourself to make him trust you. I can’t help but feel like you’re being attached unnaturally.”

            Hei kept her eyes on the tire-paved road while keeping a palm on the steering wheel. Miss Watson wasn’t sure if she herself expected a response, or even wanted one. Even when Miss Watson turned to look at Hei, the driver did not shift her gaze. Hei sighed.

            “You’re younger than all my brothers, you know. And here you are, talking to me like I’m some kid who needs to know not to hang around strangers.”

            Miss Watson didn’t need any spell to detect her anger, not that she ever will use her powers on Hei.

            “I know I’m not smart. I used to think that maybe I got kicked in the head as a baby or my mom dropped me. But I know there is some shit out there just waiting to piss on my dead body and carve it for their next Christmas. I don’t know when who is playing the cards or pulling the strings, but I know careful. I would be having a death wish if I didn’t accept that in this world.”

            I knew even before he stepped out of that door that he had something funky to impress me. But I can say that I like him because I can see that I think he’s nice because he was nice, not because of his magic. I get that you’re looking out for me, but don’t ever think I can’t look for myself.”

            Miss Watson only gazed back with concern in her eyes. She decided to simply watch the road instead of Hei’s hardened face for the time being. She could see asphalt ahead that would lead them to the highway.

            “You might like him, but I don’t.” Miss Watson said while drifting her mind in the last bumps of the unpaved road, “I can’t trust him.”


            • #96

              8:32, Miss Watson looked at her clock, hoping that this would be the right time to confront Hoplite.

              She glanced back at Hei. Apparently, she already made herself comfortable with a book of Naruto in her hands and a fake cigarette on her mouth. Miss Watson could see the bright light emanating from the stub hanging from Hei’s lips were vulgar magic. She knew Hei didn’t bring a flashlight and wouldn’t waste car battery juice to turn on lights; but it irked her to see Hei flaunting her habit of using magic for convenience, even if she tried her best to be discreet. Miss Watson knocked on the car door.

              “Don’t be attracting the Guardians like flies while I’m gone, ok? I don’t want to have to deal with complaints about ‘disturbances’ in the veil, especially when I have to go defend Hoplite in his case tomorrow.”

              Hei only grunted in reply.

              Well, at least she won’t get bored, Miss Watson thought as she walked toward the hostel. It took a quick mention of a name of a “friend” to get past the ever inattentive desk attendant. It wasn’t long before Miss Watson found herself in front of Hoplite’s room. She raised her hand and knocked. Surprisingly, it was only Hoplite who opened the door.

              Miss Watson cleared her throat.

              “I trust you had time to take in the stressful events of the present day and have thought over the inquiries you wish to be relieved of. If you have reserved this entire room for yourself, then I would not mind to converse in here. I would, however, prefer that we take this to the parking lot as simple private acquaintances.”


              • #97
                Hoplite opened the door no more than enough to reveal his body. He peeked over his shoulder before turning his attention back to Miss Watson. He could see his private things strewn about and feel the tingle of supernal experimentation.

                “Yeeeah, I think outside is a good idea too.”

                With that, Hoplite accompanied Miss Watson past the desk attendant and the outside. Miss Watson led both of them to a frequented alleyway under an arch, choosing the location to keep an eye out for any eavesdroppers. She leaned against the wall, an example Hoplite followed. Miss Watson briefly contemplated the scene and the urge to smoke. It would have looked suave to light a cigarette to start a conversation taking in a dimly lit corner at night. Alas, she had a nicotine patch and her conscience. She simply had to do without it.

                “Tell me, how long your remaining funds will support your lodging?”

                Personally, she wouldn’t have posed such a question in the first place if Hei had not asked her to inquire. But the show of concern would work sufficiently as an icebreaker.

                Hoplite counted with his fingers. “It’s enough to cover for the next two week.”

                “What about food?”

                Hoplite rubbed his head. “Well … I was planning to eat a big breakfast since that comes free.”

                Miss Watson sighed as she imagined having to answer Hei’s questions. She would rather omit the last part than have Hei fret over such details. She decided to prompt along what she was there for to put an end.

                “Well?” Miss Watson said with her eyebrow raised.

                Seeing the cue, Hoplite coughed.

                "Ok, first question. Who and what are you and Hei, exactly? How do you know Obadiah?"

                One tip of her lip tilted down with displeasure, annoyed by the oxymoron request of specific details with a vague question. She rolled her eyes and emphasized each sarcastic comment she made. “We’re not vampires, we can directly manipulate abstract concepts of reality to our whim, we are agents of the Pentacle society, and anything about our pasts is none of your business. Of course, you would have figured all that already.”

                Miss Watson let the silence hang for her chastise to sink in. However, it was her mistake of letting anger gets the better of her that sank in. She mentally scolded herself and dropped the sharp tone.

                “We both belong to the Adamantine Arrow order of the Pentacle, and we’re … associates. That is far as I will divulge of us. I was not joking about the confidentiality of our identities, which I’m sure you will understand” Miss Watson closed her eyes and reached for her hazy memory of the encounter. “I first met Obadiah … five years ago when he was presenting his own theory on paradox mitigation with the help of ‘holy’ spirits. But despite his preacher manner, I was intrigued by the healings aspect of his lecture. We talked and he turned out he was studying to be a doctor. We’ve made our acquaintanceship that holds to this day, or I wouldn’t be here.”

                Miss Watson remembered how Obadiah would express his chagrin whenever she described any relationship as ‘acquaintanceship’. She could still feel the amusement at Obadiah’s endearing annoyance. Hoplite interrupted her musing.

                "Why are you here, in New Zealand, anyway? What's driving you?"

                “Simple. Because of orders.”

                Taking in the curt reply, Hoplite moved on to another question.

                "Who are the Guardians? Seers? And uhh” Hoplite turned away from Miss Watson and said, “I know you’ll be confused if I asked this, but I also want to know about the Free Council."

                Miss Watson only stared at Hoplite with skepticism. Might as well, she thought.

                “Let me explain the Seers first, or the Seers of the Throne. They are an organization of mages as the Pentacle Society is; but that’s where the similarity ends. I don’t know how much you know your lore, but just think of our world as the Fallen world, separated from the Supernal World by the Abyss, the source of all sleepers and paradox. The Seers believe that there existed archmagi of unfathomable power who successfully ascended across the Abyss and conquered and made themselves masters of the Supernal World. They worship these Exarchs, who apparently control reality itself, and believe it is their duty as their rightful servants to convert every mages and destroy heretics. The heretics are us, the Pentacle. We went against their so called prophets because seriously, using omnipotent beings to explain your righteous cause is such a sorry excuse for a reason to hunt others.”

                Miss Watson paused as she suddenly felt an old nostalgic awkwardness from her experience with Obadiah.

                “I’m not referring to your god by the way, if you are of any theistic faith.”

                She nervously brushed herself and coughed.

                “As for the Guardians and the Free Council, you must first understand that the Pentacle Society is divided into Orders by ideology, which sometimes define their expertise. I’m pretty sure these files will help answer your questions.”

                Miss Watson handed Hoplite a folder of paper labeled with a barely noticeable Pentacle. Inside were clipped papers with headings of the GV and FC respectively. Miss Watson watched as Hoplite accepted the papers. Of course, she omitted the parts about hierarchal structures and specific duties. He had no need to know further than philosophy.

                “They aren’t something you can find on Google, you know.” She joked.

                "Whom should I seek out, and whom should I avoid?" Hoplite asked as he went through the pages with cursory attention.

                “Am I supposed to say anything else than Pentacle ok and Seers no?” Miss Watson quipped. “Yes, yes, I know what you mean, but I frankly don’t know. I could say Obadiah but … it won’t be a good idea for a while. There is a reason why he wasn’t allowed to be your welcome host. He’s facing some suspicion so he sent us instead. Other than that, I would say be friendly with the Provosts. From this point on, I’m sure that you may make friends amongst us, and the only kinds of enemy you will make will be of political nature, not that that isn’t a headache.”

                "Is there anyone who can teach me... better control?"

                “Control over what exactly?” asked Miss Watson. She already knew the answer.

                “You saw what happened at the car. That was not me, or at least not the one you are speaking to right now. Long ago, I segmented the crazy evil parts of myself and I use it from time to time to leech will from it, almost like how a vampire does it. But I sometimes … lose control. Sometimes Id, that’s what I call him, takes over.”

                Goetic invocations? Interesting. Miss Watson thought to herself.

                “Whoever taught you that kind of spell is irresponsible. I have three suggestions: one, someone with better expertise on the matter; two, someone you can trust absolutely with your secrets; and finally an advice, just don’t invoke it.”
                Miss Watson continued before Hoplite could argue the last point.

                “Everything has its price, Hoplite. Being a mage doesn’t mean you can escape that truth; in fact, you should be even more intimately knowledgeable that you cannot. You gave a part of yourself a separate existence so that you can satisfy yourself without consequence. But this contract makes it possible for this entity to take control if you lose. A vice can and will never satisfy itself, which brings my question: did you satisfy your so called Id after our last partings?”

                Hoplite did not give an answer. Miss Watson scoffed.

                “Do you have any last questions?”

                “How am I to reach you?"

                Miss Watson reached in her pocket and brought out a note and scribbled her cell phone number, handing it to Hoplite. She took a step to walk away, but stopped.

                “My only concern is that you are not a spy. Tomorrow I will submit a report to the Consilium and wait for a conclusion. Don’t worry, the matter concerning our accidental discovery of your trauma, nor your reckless instability, have relevance to my report. That is yours to divulge. That is all. Goodnight.”

                Miss Watson resumed her parting walk toward the sidewalk.


                • #98
                  Sunday April 13th, 2003
                  Auckland, New Zealand

                  Left to his own devices by Mouse, Silencer made his way through the City of Sails, enjoying what nightlife that the city had to offer on a Sunday night. He was having a good time. He had no idea what he should be doing so he just decided to pary. The people he had come to New Zealand had all vanished. He shook his head. Just what was going on? Should he just return to Little Rock? Just as he started to seriously consider giving up on this fool's quest, a pretty woman with long raven hair made his way toward him. She was stunningly lovely.

                  The woman smiled at him and Silencer smiled back. "Silencer, I need you to do something for me."

                  It puzzled Silencer that the woman knew his name. "How do you know me?"

                  The woman just smiled. "I know a lot of things. I need you to find a young woman named Hei. She has the sword that you are looking for."

                  OoC: Note, I have no idea if Silencer is being told the truth or not.


                  • #99
                    The beautiful woman who would that coming Sunday charge Silencer with finding Hei stood alone before Psychosis, the powerful Silver Ladder Hierarch of Auckland. They were in a private meeting room, expertly sealed against almost any imaginable form of spying. She coyly asked, "You wanted to see me?"

                    Psychosis replied, "I do, my dear, but not for the reason that you might imagine. I want you to charge that American - Hoplite - with investigating the Adamant Sage. We must find out if he really is a Seer of the Throne or not. This is something I cannot trust to any of my usual people."

                    "What about me?" the woman asked, almost pouting. "Surely you know I would do this for you? Or anything else that you might ask?"

                    Psychosis shook his head. "He would maybe expect me to turn to you. It will be better to use Hoplite. Besides, he needs a job." He chuckled at this observation, and then added, "You may pay him as you see fit."

                    The woman bowed her head. "As you say."

                    "Also I want you to talk to Lilly," said Psychosis. "Tell her we need to keep Miss Watson and Hei from leaving my domain. If Hoplite does discover that, the Adamant Sage, it might be necessary to use them to take care of him. I doubt any locals could be trusted to go up against him."

                    The woman promised to do as Psychosis bade her.
                    Last edited by Cire; 03-18-2014, 03:02 AM. Reason: Typoes


                    • Before the woman went to see Hoplite, she went to see Mouse, who was preparing to leave town. When he saw her, he smiled. "Dawn, I'm so glad you came by. I'm leaving town." Mouse then went on to tell the woman he knew as Dawn what had happened and about his meeting with Psychosis.

                      Dawn replied, "While you should leave town, I will miss you. Your safety must come first. I would be utterly lost if you came to any harm. I will get the gift you promised me, whatever it might be, upon your return."

                      "Oh, I forgot about that!" exclaimed Mouse. "I would not let a goddess like you wait on anything! Please wait here, my Beloved Angel."

                      Mouse then ventured deeper into the warren that was his sanctum. He returned later with a sword splendid with magic. "Is that one of Zodakin's swords?" asked Dawn in clear awe.

                      Mouse smiled proudly. "It was, but now is yours. I stole it six years ago, and not even Psychosis knew that I had this all this time. I decided that it was the only thing that would be a fitting gift for one like you."

                      Dawn smiled. "You are too kind, Mouse."

                      ​Dawn was pleased with herself. The advice she had received to befriend Mouse had certainly paid off!


                      • April 10th, 2003

                        The folders and papers spread out on the bed in front of him were all starting to blur together. Words rattled amongst the sides of his mind like bottled coins. Words like “Consilium”, “Heirarch” and “Rites”. It's was an awful lot for anyone to grasp, and Hoplite sensed that he had little time to absorb any of it. Miss Watson's stinging (if gentle) rebuke and even brief pity caused the contents of his stomach to curdle. He didn't know the right questions to ask. He was dancing in the dark, and treading on far too many feet. He sighed and gathered up the papers and filed them back in their folders, pausing to fidget a cheeseburger wrapper loose from the document it had attached itself to.

                        He put the folders carefully into his backpack and shouldered it, sliding down from the top bunk. The anonymous couple below him barely stirred, thankfully. Part of Hoplite's exhaustion stemmed from their desperate grappling the night before. He had been tempted to shout “Fuck less vigorously, please!”, but had been overtaken by the giggles at the thought of it.

                        The unwelcoming cinderblock walls of the hallway outside led to darkness in one direction and flickering antiseptic halogen glow in the other.

                        Stuffing his keys into his pocket, he walked past the front desk clerk, who he'd since learned was called “Keef”, enjoyed surfing, and had his weed dealer on speed dial. Hoplite liked him. He was uncomplicated, unlike everyone else he'd met since arriving.

                        The waning sunlight outside suited his mood, he found. The faint smell of the sea and the sound of chattering people enveloped him like a blanket. He paused a moment to look around opening his minds eye to his surroundings. People were suddenly wreathed in a cacophony of emotion. None of them were paying him the slightest attention, thankfully. A few times when he'd gone out, he'd sensed that he was being watched, but not today.

                        He hitched up his backpack and set out for the library.

                        Mentally he stepped into his warehouse and opened a bankers box labeled “Linen Closet”. It contained a few photos, the smell of bleach, and some bottled claustrophobia. It was his anchor to a safe place at a Thai restaurant down the street from the hostel. He'd visited a few several times, darting into it when he knew he wasn't being watched, and imprinted itself in his mind. He was confident that if something happened he could return there quickly.

                        The library was a single-story building that looked like a re-purposed bank. Its windows gazed out towards the street and bespoke authority, but the colorful banners and children's drawings undermined that with the impression of delightful anarchy and unbridled creativity. Libraries were lovely places, he had discovered. This one felt special for some reason. He walked in and smiled at the pretty librarian's assistant behind the desk, causing her to blush and push a loose streamer of hair behind her ear.

                        The section he was searching for pushed out at him like a gentle wind. He entered the stacks and walked along them, tracing his fingers along the spines of the books until he felt he should stop. He glanced at the book and looked over at it. “Aleister Crowley – The Book of the Goetia of Solomon the King – translated by S.L. MacGregor Mathers”.

                        That certainly sounded interesting.

                        He sat and pulled the book open to a random page, grimacing at the sordid illustrations. He began to read quietly leaning over the large book, reading.

                        The touch of fingers on his shoulder startled him.

                        “We're going to be closing soon.” The pretty librarian glanced down at the book. “Crowley, eh? He was a nasty bit of work.”

                        Hoplite looked up at her. “I hadn't realized what time it was. This dratted thing isn't helping me very much. I kind of had the feeling that Crowley was a dabbling amateur.”

                        She tapped at her teeth with her fingernail, brows furrowed in thought.

                        “I think that book was derived from a much earlier work.” She slid herself into a seat nearby and began tapping at a computer. “It was derived from a 17th century work... Clavicula Salomonis Regis.” She made a face. “None of the books linked with this are particularly pleasant.”

                        “It's not a pleasant business.” Hoplite shifted stiffly in his chair and attempted a stretch. “I'll put this back.”

                        “It's fine. You can stay here a bit longer. I have to tidy and do some paperwork anyhow. I'll come get you before I lock up.”

                        Hoplite beamed at her and returned to work.

                        Thankfully, he had no need of a photocopier. It was a simple trick, practically non-magical, to commit most of the glyphs and names to memory. They buzzed and spat in his mind but he was reasonably convinced that Crowley's particular brand of vanity had diluted them enough that they weren't dangerous in and of themselves. The assistant came by a few minutes later with three more books that were along the same lines, and Hoplite took down their identification numbers so he could find them again later.

                        None of the names rung a bell, though he admitted that they were all quite a bit above his pay grade. The creatures he'd faced before had all been fleeting things. Beings of whispering menace or petty vengeance. He'd never learned their names and hadn't wanted to, but perhaps that had been a mistake. Not that he particularly wanted to invoke them, of course. But he was discovering that names had power. Perhaps thinks would've gone differently in Massachusetts if he'd known a name or two.

                        The girl returned 45 minutes later, opening the door for him before exiting herself and locking up. The cool night air made Hoplite shiver slightly.

                        “My name's Bethany. I'm hungry, did you want to grab something to eat?”

                        Hoplite's stomach gurgled at the mere mention of food. That cheeseburger had been yesterday's meal.

                        “Yes. Please. My name's.. uh... Hop.”


                        • In an eating establishment not far from the library, the woman known to Mouse as Dawn watched Hoplite sharing a meal with Bethany. She frowned, unsure of what she should do next. She shook her head slightly. Bethany could be a problem. With a sigh, she got up from her seat and approached the couple.

                          With a forced smile, Dawn said, "Hey, Bethany! What a treat to see you again! Mind if I join you two?"

                          Hoplite saw his lovely dinner companion smile back at the beautiful woman in a tight black dress who had approached the table. Hoplite noticed that the smile seemed rather forced. "Dawn! What a wonderful, happy surprise! I had heard that you had died!"

                          Dawn laughed. "It was rather a close call, but everything worked out all right. In the end, at least."

                          Saying that, Dawn took a seat and turned her attention to Hoplite. ."Forgive me rudeness, Hoplite. My name is Dawn, and I am happy to meet you. Lilly has said great things about you."


                          • Near the same time as Dawn intruded on Hoplite and Bethany, a text was sent to Miss Watson. It read: Trust no one. WW using SN Dawn seeks to use Hoplite. Dawn also has artifact sword. I like you a lot and will meet you later. The number sending the text was unfamiliar to Miss Watson.

                            OoC: WW is for Will Worker. SN is for shadow name..


                            • Trust no one. WW using SN Dawn seeks to use Hoplite. Dawn also has artifact sword. I like you a lot and will meet you later.

                              Slouching on the couch, Hei lowered the phone none too gently against the armrest. She scratched her chin with her free hand and bunched her brows together, running every implication she could possibly think of that entailed this message.

                              Being in partnership with Miss Watson for some time, Hei had noted long ago that she was probably the most tight-ass person when it came to personal security. Miss Watson did not tolerate any hypothetical situations where her number is distributed among unrecognized individuals. So it came to no doubt for Hei that this person did not ask for the number in a proper or polite manner. She still had to give props for the determination that must have taken.

                              What also bothered Hei was how the opening line was tailored like a rip-off line from a mystery novel, tempting the reader with tantalizing anonymity. The initials veiled code names for extra sprinkles of secrecy. And artifact swords? Write artifact with a marker on a stool or something and you have a perfect fish bait for mages. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the person added that detail in because he (or she, who knows) thought a mage chick no less would dig that sort of thing. Plus, swords are pretty badass.

                              Hei peeked over at the drawer table next to the lower bunk bed specifically reserved for Miss Watson that snuggly held a stack of mystery fiction for her nightly reading pleasures. Hei didn’t care much for words, but you gotta notice at some point that the books are changing titles faster than you’re taking a shower. Miss Watson tried to take her out once to the library and get her “interested”. Boy, was that a bad idea.

                              Personal history with literature aside, whoever crafted this message must have kept watch on what kinds of book Miss Watson checked out. Gouge out her hobbies, build common ground there, pretend to like the same stuff to impress. The following and research it must have taken to ensure a hit-off. And to top it all off, mentioning Hoplite, someone of political and intrigue interest, to grab the attention of his very own interrogators?

                              I like you a lot and will meet you later.

                              It became so clear to Hei. This was an A-Grade stalker.

                              She had to catch this creep bastard.

                              Hei stood up and took strides up to bathroom door on which she proceeded to rap impatiently.

                              “What?” muffled the voice behind the door.

                              “Hey, Can I borrow your phone while I go out?”

                              “… I swear to my college degrees that if you make any prank calls, I will send undesirable pictures of you to your remaining respecting colleagues.”

                              Hei scoffed in response. “Yeah I get it. For the greater good of your reputation, your highness.”

                              Hei took the sunhat and scarf off of Miss Watson’s private rack, hoping it would at least cover up her face. She took out the phone as she walked out the door and replied to the despicable.

                              Meet now. Where.


                              • Meet now. Where.

                                When the Seer who called himself the Great Hunter read these words he smiled. He was rather pleased with himself. He knew how to bait a trap. That was he was so beloved by his masters. He texted back: Birtomart Transport Centre. I will be wearing a fez.

                                That sent, the Great Hunter turned to Bone Dog, his bodyguard and loyal underling, and handed him a fez. "Wear this and go to Birtomart Transport Centre. There you will be approached by Miss Watson, who I told her about. Make sure she leaves convinced that Dawn is a Seer. If you fail, do not bother to return. Do you understand?"

                                Bone Dog donned the fez and nodded. He left the Great Hunter's spacious hotel room and started for the Birtomart Transport Centre. He walked with grim determination. Bone Dog would rather die than fail his revered master...