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"I'm not shooting you, AND we're holding a civil conversation. All sorts of stereotypes getting broken tonight, huh?" Avery said, darkness vanishing from his expression somewhat.
"And no, we haven't seen her, and that's the problem. Shortly after she decided she wasn't accepting your calls, she decided to call prettyboy here." Avery gestured towards Michael, apparently deciding that the name worked at least for now. "Proving of course, that there is in fact, no accounting for taste. But I digress. Either way, we show up, and discover a not insignificant quantity of blood, and with a bit of snooping, her cellphone. I was about to get to work following her trail when your pack showed up."
Avery then looked at Lucas "The question is, why are you so out in force after her? Yes, a packmate is missing...but this is a pretty big mobilization, isn't it? I've been honest. Let's have some transparency on your part."
"So that's what these are." Cedric said, regarding the roll in his hand. He paused, then looked at the wise immortal. "Why is it called a summer roll?"
"To differentiate it from Chinese spring rolls, I think," Bo said wryly. "It's essentially the same thing with different filling."
"The bowl..." Cedric pursed his lips for a moment. There wasn't much he could do off of only a photograph, but he regarded the photo somberly anyway. "I'm afraid not. You may be better off consulting Morgan, if anyone would know about these things, it would be him."
"They really don't let you academics out much, do they?" Bo grinned. "You really should have come to work in public history. You get much freer access to these artifacts."
He pulled out his phone and texted Rakesh. Got a question for you about human sacrifice artifacts. When can we meet?
"I haven't seen Lucy since then," Michael mumbled, mostly to himself. He missed Lucy - she was very frank and forthright, but never intentionally cruel... at least, not in any way she knew Michael couldn't handle. He liked her, and would have liked to spend more time with her save for her Pack. He didn't want to run into Oleander visiting her, and he didn't trust her Alpha as far as he could throw her. That made a friendship more complicated.
He listened carefully to the conversation between Avery and Lucas, glad that he wasn't an Alpha and never would be. He didn't mind negotiating, but this kind of contest of wills was beyond him. He thought it a little naive asking a Pure to be honest - which meant Avery probably had something in mind that Michael just couldn't see. So he hoped he didn't screw it up. "We just want to find her. Make sure she is okay..." he said. It had been a lot of blood - Michael had his doubts that a human would've survived it, even a werewolf could have been badly injured if they'd lost so much blood. His concern was evident.
"The question is, why are you so out in force after her? Yes, a packmate is missing...but this is a pretty big mobilization, isn't it? I've been honest. Let's have some transparency on your part."
"You know how it is. All the best families fight. I said I loved her, she said she only loved Justin, tears were shed, dishes were thrown, I had a plate smashed over my head..." Lucas said with a cheeky grin. He had a devil-may-care air about him, a man who took nothing very seriously. "After I came to, I figured that nothing would do but to find her. And since the guys were at the bar anyway..."
Originally Posted by Michael
"We just want to find her. Make sure she is okay..."
"...so do I." Lucas's smile slipped a little. He looked Michael over once. "Why did Maddie call you?"
"Girl talk maybe?" Avery said with a shrug. "Either way, 's why I've stuck to guys. Surprisingly less violence." He paused, scenting the air a moment. "Either way, let's get this merry band on the road. I've got her trail, and we should get to following it now-ish. We find her, we find the bastard responsible if she's been abducted. And we teach said bastard a ridiculously painful, violent lesson that they might not live long enough to have truly sink in. And then we have a pint or two to celebrate, and go our separate ways." He grinned a bit lopsided. "Or we revel in our new-found spirit of cooperation, and shock the hell out of folks by actually getting shit done."
There was a moment where Avery's expression darkened despite his glibness only a moment ago. "And if she's in a bad state, well..." his voice trailed off, going someplace very very quiet and very very dark as he looked to his fellow alpha. Even though Lucas was Anshega, Avery could imagine himself in the same position and could only imagine how he'd be reacting.
"That," Bo smiled, "is because traditionally, we used to make them for the Chinese New Year, which usually fell in the springtime. The term in Chinese is 'chun juan', literally 'spring roll.'"
He checked his phone.
"Rakesh says he can meet us in an hour. Care for a drive? Spike, Martin, and Light can keep the party going." He raised his glass to Seventeen. "You can come too, if you think you can stand being around a trio of history nerds for a while."
Michael gave Avery a look of half amusement, half exasperation. "She never said what she wanted," Michael answered. "She just asked me to meet her. We were on the way when we saw... this," he added, waving at the blood. He'd deliberately left out the part about getting the message second hand - he preferred it if Lucas didn't even know Irina existed. The last thing he needed was something else happening to her because of him.
"Where does this trail lead, then?" he asked, ready to go. Now that they were about to depart, he'd stepped closer to Whim. If something did happen, she'd be the most vulnerable - she couldn't regenerate her wounds, after all.
"You, sir, are a veritable fountain of information, overflowing with useful things." Cedric declared, swiping one last summer roll for the road. "It's late October and we're on the tracks of a human sacrifice cult. May as well!"
"Love to, but pass." Seventeen shook his head when he was invited. He smirked. "Someone has to keep the lovely detective company. Good luck... and be careful."
It was a little past ten when Bo and Cedric found themselves in the private rooms of Morgan's Antiques, watching Rakesh Morgan consult his books. Now, Morgan's Antiques, on its own, was a small, old-fashioned antique shop in Greenwich, just south-east of the City of London (though well within the city of London area). It was the kind of place one went to buy claw-footed umbrella stands, late 19th century Chinoiserie porcelain, sections of genuine French Art Nouveau balcony railing, and entire printings of Livy and Tacitus from the 1940s. Morgan did a roaring business as well in tiny glass frogs and tarot cards, which he himself painted. But this was all downstairs.
If one was a peculiar sort of person -- and there were few people more peculiar than Bo Kyungban -- then one got access to the attic. Now the attic of Morgan's Antiques was not an inviting place. It was protected by several kinds of anti-magic wards, mental occlusions that just somehow prevented people from noticing it, and if this was insufficient, it also had an absolutely massive cold iron lock on the attic door. This was because what was in the attic was unbelievably illegal.
First, there were the weapons. Rakesh collected deodands, which was an old English word for 'murder weapons', and he had a good dozen of the things so far, mostly knives, their blades still stained and rusted with blood, but there was a small .38 special as well. All of these were tagged and described in Rakesh's cramped, fussy handwriting. From a hook on the ceiling were a string of medical razors, their blades gleaming, the light somehow distorted as it came off them. And then there was the scythe, an honest-to-god farmers' scythe, the blade a peculiarly ruddy color, the wooden handle gnarled and blackened. There were sickles with bone-handles and knives with bone-blades.
Then, there were the drugs and poisons. Ayahuasca, the vine of the souls of South America. Henbane, the Witch’s Herb used by the witchcults of the Medieval Age. Salvia Divinorum, the sage of seers, from Oaxaca in Mexico. Dried digitalis flowered were strung up in garlands all over the attic, and an oleander plant blossomed merrily next to the window. There were more innocent plants as well, garlic and pepper and several dried ears of maize.
And finally, there were some things that were merely uncanny. The open steamer trunk that Rakesh used to store his books, with several blood marks along the inside of the lid, as though someone had once tried to claw their way out of it. Two empty wine bottles on a shelf, the corks inside the bottles, in both cases seeming as though they had been heavily burned, but only on the bottom. A rusted, Vietnam-era military dog-tag, the name blotted out by a spot of acid. A leering plastic Guy Fawkes mask, a hole drilled through the forehead, hanging from a hook in the wall.
"Bo Kyungbang! And Mr. Talbot." Rakesh Morgan himself was a serious looking South Asian man of thirty or so, with unexpectedly pale, ice-blue eyes, quite nearly white, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt and khaki pants. His arms were unexpectedly muscular, and they were decorated with sharp, jagged tattoos in blue ink. He nodded sharply to Cedric and gave the mage an unfriendly glare, which thoroughly bewildered the necromancer. "Now, what's this about human sacrifice artifacts?"
"I appreciate the thought," Lucas King said smoothly, arching a brow at Avery's increasingly unsubtle suggestions. The green-eyed rogue simply grinned. There was a dangerous glitter in his eye, however, which promised a world of savagery to whoever hurt his packmate. The Pure were not known for their gentility. "But I'd prefer to keep it in-house."
"So tell you what. Give me her cellphone, point me in the direction she went, and you can consider yourself with a standing invitation at the Cold River." Lucas said, looking northwards -- he could notice the scent as well, now. He winked at Avery. "All drinks on the house."
Whim looked up at Michael as he came closer, and shook her head just a little. Something's off here, her instincts told her, and she had very good instincts. Perhaps Lucas simply preferred not to show Avery the way the Pure punished those who transgressed against them. Or perhaps he had other reasons. Maddy hadn't been returning his calls...
"He's Dr. Talbot," Bo teased Rakesh. "Or Professor Talbot if you prefer."
The immortal liked coming by Morgan's Antiques to see all the assorted things. Every time he recognized something from the past or found a new trinket he'd never seen or heard of before.
He caught the glare tossed Cedric's way but tacked it down to Rakesh's usual suspicion of newcomers, antisocial behavior, and general surliness. Bo had gotten in good with Rakesh by being living history and by showing off his ability to come back from the dead. Most others didn't get into the werewolf's good graces so easily.
It was with little hesitation that Avery handed over the phone, and gestured in the direction he could all but feel his quarry in, a tugging throb in his bones. "Be careful. Weird spiderfolk in the direction she was taken. They're not Azlu, but beyond that, no idea. After that, can't say. Best suggestion is keep a low profile, and avoid conflict." There was a moment of an awkward smile.
"Even if they aren't involved, any other pack territory you happen to move through, probably see your numbers as an act of aggression even if you don't start anything, and as utterly ****ing terrifying as it sounds, I might be the most diplomatic one out there." His smile did suggest that yes, that was the utterly ****ing terrifying thing.
"And if this turns out to be some huge case of high weirdness by night, I know you want to keep things in house, but at the same time, I'm kinda getting used to dealing with the high weird, and I can see what sort of strings I can pull."
There was a moment of silence, and then four words one likely never expected to hear out of the mouth of a Blood talon, let alone a Garmnir speaking to an Anshega.
"Stay safe out there." Another second of silence as if he realized what he said, then "After all, don't want to miss out on free drinks because the barkeep's dead."