The problem with making emergency landings is that unless one has actual mechanical troubles or medical emergencies, the authorities tend to look unkindly on sudden unexpected flight changes. As such, it took some time to get the Huey down to a nearby helipad. While Deborah locked the helicopter down, Ilkin secured a taxi cab for transportation, and not more than an hour after Ilkin and Deborah spotted the flashing lights, they arrived at the foot of the office building.
Prudential Insurance Offices, the discreet plaque on the building said. It was an older structure, some twenty stories tall, a steel and glass behemoth from the seventies. It was also occupied at the moment, as Ilkin learned on entering the lobby, and it was a business day. ||
Ilkin 11:30 pm
"Sorry for disrupting our date," Jay murmured as they walked in, "But that reeks of black magic." He glanced about for the elevators, then headed that way. ||
The Storyteller 11:32 pm
"Is there actually such a thing as black magic?" Deborah said quietly as you entered the elevators, hopefully before the information staff at the door wondered why an unknown man and a woman wearing a flight suit entered an elevator. Deborah pressed the button for the top floor. ||
Ilkin 11:33 pm
"Sort of," Jay murmured, "Magic is a tool. it can be used for good or bad. Black magic is just easier than explaining." He looked up as if he could somehow will the elevator to go faster. ||
The Storyteller 11:36 pm
"So, if the good guys can heal people, let you fly, and make machinery work perfectly, what do the black hats do?" Deborah asked after a moment. The pony-tailed young woman didn't seem worried, not exactly. More in the sense of wanting to know exactly what one stood to face if events fell poorly. She'd grabbed a wrench from a toolbox in the helicopter, and she could swing it pretty hard.
On the eleventh floor the elevator door opened and a suited businessman joined you until the fourteenth floor. He gave Deborah a rather odd luck as he left. ||
Ilkin 11:38 pm
"Death magic usually has a bad stigma attached to it," Jay said after the businessman left, "They dabble in things most of us would rather forget. But really 'black magic' is more like the mad scientists and slashers in horror movies -- only magical. They use the same tools as other people, just for killing and terror." ||
The Storyteller 11:41 pm
"This keeps getting better and better. Anything I should do or not do?" Church asked, even as the elevator opened on the top floor. Deborah stepped out and looked around. There were corridors and rows of offices, most occupied, and somewhere or other there was a stairway that would lead one outside, to the roof. "I'm afraid I haven't been at church in a while." ||
Ilkin 11:44 pm
"Just be careful," Jay said, "If you see someone making mumbo-jumbo or waving their hands all funny like, try and get to cover. Like this." He paused and did some mumbo-jumbo of his own, weaving a protective skein of fate around the pair. (Grant Fortune's Protection, targetin both of us.)
The Storyteller 11:48 pm
"Mumbo-jumbo being a technical term, I take it?" Deborah said with a swift grin, even as you found the door outside. Typically, it was locked. "Can you do something? If I bash it someone will hear." ||
Ilkin 11:49 pm
( Hrm...I don't suppose Fate or Time 3 or Matter 1 can do something. )
Ilkin 12:02 am
"Let me borrow your knife," he said. Once Deb handed it over, he pulled out one of the tools and began working with the lock."
"Got it!" Jay cheered quietly. The door clicked and he turned the knob, then stepped through, reaching for his gun. ||
The Storyteller 12:08 am
It was cold outside, cold and windy this high up. The wind whistled in your ears, and Deborah pulled her flight suit closer, keeping a steady hand on the wrench.
The veve was as before, an array of white lines painted broadly atop the roof. There was blood splattered all over the center of the veve, and the four mirrors on stands. There was also a storage unit on the roof, and some ventilator shafts. ||
Ilkin 12:13 am
"Spirit and Death magic all over," Jay murmured, "Two of the magics I am no good at." He glanced from one place to the next, then stepped forward. The Mage closed his hand around the handle of his gun. Kertenkele popped out and climbed on top of his head, also looking around. ||
The Storyteller 12:17 am
"Death, spirits. And here you were talking about death magic just a second ago." Deborah said, moving forward and leaning down by the edge of the veve. "Can I touch it, or would that be a bad idea?" The ex-medevac pilot looked across the roof. "Someone did a lot of bleeding here." ||
Ilkin 12:18 am
"I wouldn't touch it," Ilkin murmured. "Let me see if I can't get a look at what's going on." He narrowed his eyes and focused. ||
The Storyteller 12:24 am
The scene shifted back, back some hours ago. The veve was unspattered with blood at the moment, and instead being nothing but painted white lines, clean and crisp. A boombox played nearby, a thundering drum that sounded above the wind. Just outside the veve, a birdcage stood latched, a white dove within it.
The Storyteller 12:29 am
The summoner stood in the crisp air, cradling the second bird in hands with nails painted a bright green. She was a slim girl, perhaps in her early twenties or late teens. She was dressed only in jeans at the moment, naked from the waist up, despite the cold. There was a black silhoette of a wavy knife tattooed on the girl's shoulder-blade, and a serpent with a twisting tongue curling to the right of her navel. A piercing just under her clavicle completed the ensemble that Ilkin could see from the front.
Her face was oval-shaped and rather pretty, more like a schoolgirl than a model, but nevertheless striking. Her lips were an eye-catching shade of brilliant red, and her hair was an acid green, with a white streak through it, frizzy and layered in bangs in the front and top, streaming past her shoulders in the back.
Whim took the first bird to the circle and began to chant in a language that Ilkin couldn't recognize, half French, half something altogether more exotic, with an interspersing of High Speech. With a wavy-bladed knife, she slit the throat of first one bird, and then the second, splattering the veve with their blood. Then she began to dance, still chanting and singing to the music, and Ilkin's vision faded. ||
Ilkin 12:35 am
"It was a woman," Jay murmured, "She was speaking French but that may not mean anything. The blood is bird blood. Small comfort." He sighed. "Still, summoning evil loa to this world in London. Green hair. Unless it's a shapeshifter, I know the girl responsible." He tapped the pocket with his cell phone and considered. "I may have to give her a call. But for now, I'm going to look around and see if I can find anything."
"There's more blood than would just be in birds," Kertenkele observed clinically, "Someone else must've been bleeding here." ||
The Storyteller 12:39 am
"If it's human blood, then whoever did it couldn't have gone far." Deborah observed with a certain amount of detachment. Then again, she'd flown ambulance duty, so blood was hardly alien to her experience. "Who's the girl?" ||
Ilkin 12:41 am
"I only know her as Whim," Jay replied, "Green hair, she's a Moros mage. That means she specializes in Death and Matter magic. Odd. She's a Guardian of the Veil, sort of the Mage police..." He walked around the scene a bit more. "If it is a shapeshifter, we might've run across the person."
Ilkin 12:42 am
The Storyteller 12:45 am
"What kind of name is Whim?" Deborah asked, more or less to occupy her mind as she walked around the scene. She didn't touch the veve, but walked a circle. "Hel-lo, what have we here?" Deborah reached past one of the ventilators and pulled out what had been, in better times, a boombox. The device was utterly smashed apart, as though it had been slammed violently against a wall. ||
Ilkin 12:48 am
"She had that playing music when she performed the ritual," Jay said, "I may take part of it with us. It has some kind of connection to the culprit." He walked around the bloodstain, trying to get a better look at it. ||
The Storyteller 12:51 am
"Whole thing or can I take a... bit?" Deborah said, picking up a shattered CD from the thing. "What the hell is going on up here? Did your friend go rogue cop?" ||
Ilkin 12:53 am
"Just a bit," Jay said, "And I've no idea but I ought to find out." He followed the trail of the blood and stared directly at the storage container, then looked around. "Spiritual snake venom," Kertenkele murmured. "What does that mean?" Jay asked. ||
The Storyteller 12:56 am
"Can you tell what kind of snake?" Deborah said, then shrugged. "Not that I can help without my first-aid kit, but I know how to treat snake-bite. What a snake is doing on top of a London office building... probably has the same answer as what a voodoo whatever is doing up here." Deborah finished, grasping the wrench in her hand and moving next to Ilkin. ||
Ilkin 12:58 am
"Do you have something we can put it in?" he asked, "I don't know that I can determine it here." ||
The Storyteller 12:58 am
"Uh... I can mop it up in a rag, that's about it." Deborah said, with a sheepish shrug. "Sorry." ||
Ilkin 1:00 am
Jay chuckled wryly. "Well that might work," he said, "It looks like whatever was bleeding came from or went to that door." He pointed at the storage area. "Be careful. I'm going to try and open it." The Acanthus drew his gun from its place and checked the clip, then slowly headed toward the door. ||
The Storyteller 1:02 am
"Roger." Church said, taking a rag from a pocket of the flightsuit and trying to get as much of the snake venom into it as possible. She put it into another pocket then. While the flight suit may have looked distinctly odd, it was tough, it had many pockets, and it was very useful. "You watch yourself too." ||
Ilkin 1:04 am
Jay nodded and grinned cheerily, then stood to the side of the door and reached for it...
Ilkin 1:05 am
He uttered a short phrase in High Speech, checked to see Deb wasn't going to get blasted, then swung the door open. ||
The Storyteller 1:08 am
The door was unlocked, and it opened smoothly... and the mage suddenly found himself face to face with a large, black serpent, it's fanged maw less than a foot away from Ilkin's face. The snake was hanging from a pipe across the top of storage unit, and it opened it's jaws, revealing a white-lined mouth and some very sharp fangs, a faint glisten of venom on them. ||
Ilkin 1:12 am
"I found the snake," Jay called and stepped back a pace, holding his gun up at the door. "Who's in there? I know you're there. Come out! Hands up and so on!" ||
The Storyteller 1:13 am
The snake hissed and closed its jaws, glaring at Ilkin balefully. Then it slipped its coils from the pipe and fell to the ground, slithering into the storage unit. The thing was fast.
There was no sound from within the storage unit.
The Storyteller 1:14 am
"Are you alright?" Deborah said, coming up closer now, though keeping an eye on the ground for snakes. ||
Ilkin 1:16 am
"For now," Jay replied, "I believe the snake had a 'more afraid of me than I am of it' moment." He gestured with his head toward where Deborah was. "There's a ghost back near where you were, and there's a human of a sort in here." He cast around for the snake, then took a step inside.
"Hallo?" he called. ||
The Storyteller 1:17 am
"...of a sort?" Deborah echoed, growing distinctly more concerned now. She looked around, but the ghost's mind hovered nearby, and neither of you could tell quite where it was.
The Storyteller 1:20 am
The storage unit was small, and quite dark. As Ilkin's eyes adjusted, he began to make out the details of what lay inside. At the far end of the unit, a half-naked young woman lay on the cold ground, blood pooling beneath her. Her back was to Ilkin, revealing a black, trident-shaped tattoo on the the right side of her back, but Whim's green hair was recognizeable no matter where it was found. The black serpent lay coiled on her body, glaring at Ilkin with a cold-blooded gaze. ||
Ilkin 1:22 am
"Stay back," Jay said, "There's a barrier between us and her. I can't tell what it does, but..." He gritted his teeth. "Whim? Whim, can you hear me? Are you awake? Sod all." ||
The Storyteller 1:25 am
Whim didn't even stir. Her mind was active, and so the Guardian lived at the moment, but only just. The serpent hissed at Ilkin, opening its jaws in what was certainly not a friendly display. ||
Ilkin 1:27 am
"She's still alive but I've no way to tell what this barrier does," he said. He fumbled about for a coin and tossed it at the barrier to see what might happen. ||
The Storyteller 1:30 am
The coin spun through the barrier without so much as pausing. The snake hissed once more and lifted its head. Deborah appeared in the doorway behind Ilkin now, and the ghostly follower was behind her. "If she's alive, she needs medical attention, and soon." Church said, examining the situation. "Bloody hell, of all the times to not bring my first aid kit... damn." ||
Ilkin 1:37 am
"The ghost is here," Jay said softly, "I wonder if that's Whim's spirit? She could be walking the Twilight." He stared the snake down. "Look, snake, I want to help her. I know her. We fought an angry ghost together. Will you let me take her to get help?" ||
The Storyteller 1:40 am
The serpent watched the Mage with its cold-blooded gaze, black eyes completely without emotion. This was an unnatural creature, the same as Kertenkele, but it was not like Kertenkele. Its mindset was alien... yet perhaps not so alien as that. The serpent ceased its threat displays, slithering off of Whim's body. ||
Ilkin 1:42 am
Ilkin kept his awareness on the snake and then took his chances and waded through the barrier to try and get to the girl. ||
The Storyteller 1:44 am
The barrier slid across his flesh without any effect, and the serpent merely watched Jay with its emotionless eyes. Whim was slim and of only average height, and she seemed so very light. Closer now, Ilkin could make out the large gash on the side of her head, and a long cut along her abdomen. Neither wound looked fatal, but she had lost a lot of blood. ||
Ilkin 1:49 am
"Now how the hell are we going to get her out of here without being stopped, arrested, questioned, and so forth?" Jay mused darkly. He crouched by her and murmured a rote to make sure the girl at least wouldn't get infected. ||
The Storyteller 1:52 am
Deborah had entered the storage unit as well, and took off her flight jacket. "Here, give this to her at least. It'll cause fewer questions." Deb said, passing the jacket to Ilkin. She paused, then looked at a corner of the door. "Is this her bag?" The object in question was a large, off-green shopping bag. As Deborah touched the handle, the ghostly mind whirled closer. ||
Ilkin 1:53 am
"Careful," Jay replied. He took the jacket and began wrapping Whim up in it, "That ghost is agitated." ||
The Storyteller 1:55 am
"Right-o." Deborah said, taking her hand from the bag. "Need any help carrying her, or have you got it?" ||
Ilkin 1:56 am
"Let me check the bag first." Jay headed over to the bag to take a look and to test the ghost's response. ||
The Storyteller 1:56 am
The moment the bag was touched, the ghost came closer, but when one's hand was taken away, it instead floated near the edge of the Space and Death barrier. ||
Ilkin 1:57 am
( The bag is inside the barrier? )
The Storyteller 1:57 am