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That Which Goes Bump In the Night (Vapor Only, IC)

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Fanaglia
Senator
 
Posts: 4061
Founded: Nov 09, 2009
Capitalizt

Postby Fanaglia » Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:48 pm

Image


The day following the day she witnessed the horrors in Jackson Elias' hotel room, Mireille had secluded herself in her room at the Klippen-Muninssen, attempting in vain to process what she had seen. The loss of her dear friend in such horrible circumstances. Her nerves were shot; she hadn't slept in nearly thirty-six hours, but the very idea of sleep seemed laughably impossible. Instead, she kept herself upright with enough caffeine to wake a corpse, visibly shaking as she nervously sipped her coffee (which she had also spiked with rum) and smoked cigarette after cigarette in the dim light of her room behind the drawn window shade, wondering what else may have been left at the scene...any other clues or evidence that her "family" may have missed. Her head was swimming with so many questions...

Knock, knock, knock came a polite rap at the door.

Taking another drag from her cigarette, she groaned as she stood from the side of the bed for the first time in what was probably a few hours and she shuffled to the door. When she opened it, she found Mr. Higa standing there, gingerly holding his hat. "Mireille," he said softly with a bow. After some pause, he continued, "I have... a request. I've... I've written an obituary, for the Korukkan papers, and I was wondering if you'd... you'd be willing to give me a statement; of raw feeling and emotion, something we can use to remember him by... legitimacy, honest passion."

Mireille stared at him for perhaps a moment longer than would have been comfortable for him, her cigarette hanging loosely from her lips, the gray wisp wafting gently towards the ceiling as she thought. But then her expression softened to something more resembling her usual demeanor, although still shadowed by loss. With a weak smile, she said to him, "Oui, my friend. Please, come in. Help yourself to come coffee," she said, gesturing to the still-steaming pot on a tray atop the modest writing desk in the corner. "Care for a smoke?" She asked as she lit another, casting her burnt match and mashing the butt of her previous cigarette into the glass ash tray on the bedside table. She sat down on the end of the bed, gesturing for Mr. Higa to have a seat in the chair at the desk across from her. "Tell me, what do you need from me? Anything I can do to help."



Image


(Higa Kenkichi)
"A sound idea." he quickly added in between her breaths. He and Luciano had gotten along well, as had he and Mireille. It would be quite the jaunt, the three of them. But he couldn't help but feel a niggling feeling in the back of his mind, and once she had finished speaking Higa quickly moved to try to steer the conversation.

"Whilst we do cover more ground this way: we must be... cautious. Is this wise? We have hostility to what we seek to uncover: enemies of Elias are certainly enemies of ours. Splitting up seems to be making any potential job easier for them. We must remember, one fled, and likely knows that we know something..."


When Mr. Higa voiced his concerns about splitting up with unknown enemies afoot, she nodded in the affirmative. "Absolutely, Mr. Higa. But before, they had the element of surprise. Now, we know to be prepared." She patted a lump in her jacket pocket -- it was her father's revolver. "Of course, we should still step softly, but be sure to carry a big stick." She had been too fearful to use it before, but now things were personal; she doubted she would hesitate to use it if it became necessary again. Her friend was dead and she was out for justice, but revenge might do.
Last edited by Fanaglia on Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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The Holy Dominion of Inesea
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Posts: 14439
Founded: Jun 08, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Holy Dominion of Inesea » Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:19 pm

The damned Sijo bastard had sliced his arm pretty deep. Even a few days later, Het could not tell whether the wound would be infected or not. So far it had not festered, presumably because of the copious amounts of alcohol he had regrettably poured on it to sterilize the wound. He had only had two flasks of Araka on hand, a waste considering the cost of buying it so far from Menid. The impromptu bandages initially torn from his robes had been replaced by real artifacts, soaked with alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. The Sijo bastard had cut him deep and the wound ached like a bitch. It had the deep biting pain of a muscle would and the sharp stabbing pain of a flesh wound. Truly, Het was a blessed and lucky man. He, at least, had seen the sick bastards killed(with some help from the Varens). Poor Elias was butchered by the savages. So mighty a man brought so low by ingrates of continent barely deserving the name. This incident did nothing but reinforce his low, low opinion of the Parthan race.

It had seemed that Mireille had begun to assert some degree of authority over the group. That was fine by Het, he liked his student and frankly didn't speak enough of the Eiren's tongues to really lead them. It also seemed that she had been busy, finding clues for their next step. It seemed that the two Varens - or Drachens, Het could never tell - were to go to the docks. Perhaps the Thugges had connections to the docks here, it seemed that most of the longshoremen were Parthan or Mizran. Regardless, the two fellas had saved his skin in the brawl with the Sijos so Het felt like he could get along with them. Higa, the Korukkan, did not seem to like the plan, but alas there truly was no alternative in his eyes.

"Konyeshna, I will go with Gospondini Anders and Egil. With zolotoi or strelyet we can get men of all sorts to talk." As Het said that, he patted the purse on his belt and the pistol at his side. His knives still lay in their scabbards but since the Parthans were skilled swordsmen, there they would stay. A pistol would serve as his weapon of choice now.
I'm really tired

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The Biosyn
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Posts: 44
Founded: Jul 09, 2015
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Biosyn » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:37 pm

To think: the foreigners he found this morning were personal friends with Jackson too.

And to think: they would lead him right to Jackson…. Right to where he lay dead.

And then there was the Rothian. Several of the group seemed to dislike him (Anders), to mistrust him even, but the Rothian took it even further. He accused Anders of actually being part of the horror they had found. Even though he knew on some level that the foreigners couldn’t have known that he too knew Jackson, the shock of the accusation leveled at him erased any shock or numbness he had felt at seeing Jackson’s body, and had left him with only anger and determination. Once out in the hallway, he collected his heavy overcoat from where he had dropped it in his rush, and quietly had a brief discussion in Drachensprache with Egil, laced with phrases like dam-nable Rothian, insipid nobility, and shouldn’t let him drag everyone down, might as well see who wants to leave, before stating, loud enough to be heard by anyone in the group that could understand Drachensprache, that they “should probably not tarry too long, for the safety of the women present, so that they may begin recovering from the shock of the scene in the room.”

He turned to his cousin, Sevia and spoke to her in Varen. “Cousin, Little Blossom. I am sorry. For so many things. That you were here, that you had to see this. That I couldn’t keep my promise to you.” He pulled her into a tight hug, careful to not stain her clothes with the blood on his, before giving her a kiss on the top of her head, and going to see who he could convince to leave the Hotel Novda.

Everyone but Luciano decided to leave, it seemed. After dropping off Egil at his hotel, and Mireille and her “family” off at the Klippen-Muninssen, he took Sevia back to her lodgings making certain she got inside safely and that if she needed anything, he would be back early in the morning to check up on her. He finally made it home to his flat in the boarding house known as Serutsomen House, a worn, but not run-down, building that housed only single men. A few of them, he knew were in the Court, same as him, but not all.

After letting himself into his flat, and changing, cleaning up from the blood left on him after the fight in Elias’ room, he collapsed into a chair at his kitchen table, his anger finally loosening, leaving a cold numbness in its place.

~~~

The second morning after, Anders found himself back at the Klippen-Muninssen. He couldn’t rightly say why, but he got there rather early in the morning, and found that the foreigners had gathered in their common room in the hotel. He didn’t really know why he persisted in trying to work for them…. For the most part they either mistrusted him or outright disliked him, but…. They technically had yet to even try to fire him from being their guide and translator, and he still could use the money. That and…. Well the previous day had turned up nothing in his personal search for anything connected to the Parthans that had killed Elias. The police stonewalled him, and when he went searching for the Parthans in the neighborhoods where most Parthan immigrants lived, he couldn’t find anyone able to understand any language he knew for him to be able to ask any meaningful questions… not that he had the first idea what such questions would be…. All he knew was that he couldn’t make a scene and flash the ghastly mask he had taken from where Higa had placed it after removing it from the captured Parthan.

He sighed to himself as he thought about the dead ends he had run into, knowing that that was why the Court never sent him sleuthing alone. He hated puzzles. His strength was with people, either talking to them or punching them. He was either sent in after the detective work was finished, or someone would be with him to do any sleuthing needed.

After the group had traded information, Mireille suggested that he and Egil, joined by Het, travel to the docks to investigate Emerson Imports down at the docks. Anders nodded in response even as he stiffened at the use of his name. Before he could say anything, Higa voiced concerns about the wisdom of splitting up. After Mireille had responded, and Het agreeing to the plan, Anders interjected. “Monsieur,” he said, directed to Higa. “While there is certainly danger as you say, it will be light out, and Opiskella is not in a dangerous part of town. As long as no one wanders off by themselves, especially if you go straight to the University and straight back, I think it unlikely to be…. Overly dangerous. And yes, as Mademoiselle and Monsieur Z said,” he continued, adopting Mireille’s nickname for Het. “We’ll have our weapons, and be ready if there is an attack.”

“Mademoiselle, I think your suggestion on splitting up is a good one. My friend and I,” he said to Mireille, gesturing to Egil when he referred to him. “We will be able to take care of ourselves, and if Monsieur Z would like to join, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, before we head out, there is something I must ask of you and the Monsieurs.” Anders grimaced, half in embarassment, half in discomfort at the double use of his name in the last few moments. After a few seconds of awkward silence, he finally came out and said it. “I must ask that you find something else to call me, when you address me. I can make do with Mademoiselle and Monsieur for you, Mademoiselle and Monsieurs, though the number of Monsieurs may make that… confusing. But, please, do not call me by my name.”

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Senkaku
Post Marshal
 
Posts: 15975
Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Father Knows Best State

Postby Senkaku » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:53 pm

Klippenstaad
Varenhold





The murder had been impressively gruesome, Jackson's ribcage splintered open and guts strewn around as if he'd had a live grenade stuffed down his stomach, the strange symbol carved deep into his forehead letting blood run all down his vacant dead face. The Parthan attackers with their unusual masks had been startling- before Faïçal, standing a ways back from the door, even processed what was happening or pulled out his gun, they'd given the Mendean a cut and then been cut down alongside poor Jackson. The bedlam was soon replaced by a hurried rush out, before the police came, and Faïçal shuddered as they scurried down the rickety stairs at the thought of Jackson meeting such a brutal end in this dingy, dilapidated place.

But the Rothian nobleman had stayed, and Faïçal found himself wondering if the man didn't have the right idea as they pulled back up at their hotel (which was somewhat cramped and uncomfortable, by his standards). The man's motives were silly- Faïçal would trust a Varen policeman about as far as he could throw him- and he seemed more than a bit unstable with his sudden outburst at their guide, but they'd left a lot on the table by leaving so quickly. After all- they hadn't done a truly exhaustive search of the room, had they? Perhaps there was more information laying around, and they'd had no opportunity at all to interrogate the unconscious Parthan. Certainly Luciano didn't seem like the man Faïçal would've picked for the job of pumping the police for information or searching the place. It seemed more likely that he'd get nervous and manage to get himself arrested than anything else, really.

I think I should make some calls once I'm back in my room.



Several hours later
Uptown Klippenstaad





"What a pleasure to finally meet you, Faïçal," came the portly man's booming voice. Rayan Dannfelt was truly the caricature of a successful businessman- chomping on a cigar, as fat as he was tall, he wore an expensive pinstripe suit and monocle, while his balding head and slicked gray hair shone under the neon and gaslight of the bar. His face seemed a strange melange of ancestries- his mother was the bastard daughter of a half-Quibellan Khadari noblewoman and her half-Rothian, half-Korukkan lover, while his father was a Drachen immigrant to the city whose grandfather had apparently been a Mendean cavalryman (Faïçal wasn't clear on all the twists and turns of the family tree).

He crushed Faïçal's offered hand with both of his huge palms, bowing slightly and chuckling. "You take more after your mother than Abdullah, I think," he said with a faint smile, and Faïçal smiled graciously in return.

"So I've been told, yes," the younger man replied. "Thank you again for coming to see me, by the way."

"Of course, of course," Rayan said, waving a hand. "Don't even mention it! Shall we get a drink?"

Faïçal nodded, and they each took one of the plush red stools beside the bar's chrome countertop. "Whiskey, neat," Rayan growled at the bartender, chomping again on his cigar.

"And for you, sir?", she said, turning to Faïçal.

"Vodka soda, please," he said disinterestedly, and turned back to Rayan. The man was the only Khadari expat of any importance Faïçal knew of in Varenhold- his maternal grandfather, now dead, was also the father of the current patriarch of the House of Qatra, meaning Rayan's half-uncle was one of the city's wealthiest and most powerful noblemen. Rayan himself was a self-made man, having worked for many years in the Kardun Steel Company's artillery foundries before building his own shipyard. During the war his fortune and business had exploded- he'd managed to secure a government contract for several classes of escort ships, to protect convoys of merchant ships from enemy raiders, aircraft, and submarines. The Imperial Navy had needed dozens of them- Khadar relied on her merchant fleet to eat, after all- so his single shipyard soon became half a dozen huge production sites, along with his own plate foundries and machining plants. Since the war, he'd gone into a new business- building or redeveloping commercial ports in foreign countries, all over the world, and for the last three years he'd been in Varenhold, building new harbors there and in Mararasa and Ibrahama.

He was also, helpfully, an old friend of Faïçal's father, Abdullah.

"So, what can I do for you? I was surprised to hear you were in town," Rayan said as the bartender quietly set his drink down next to him.

"I actually came to visit a friend of mine, Jackson Elias- maybe you've heard of him? The author?"

"Oh, the one who wrote The Way of Terror, right? I think I've heard of him, yes," the balding tycoon replied, nodding, as the bartender set Faïçal's drink down.

"Well," Faïçal said, taking a sip of his drink, "he arranged to meet with me and some mutual friends earlier today, and we went to his hotel." He took another sip of his drink before setting it down and locking Rayan with an intense stare. "When we arrived, we discovered he'd been murdered. Brutally- someone had really gone at him."

The other man's eyes widened. "Gods above! How awful! What happened?"

"There were men there- his murderers, I think. Three Parthans in these bizarre fur masks, hopped up on some kind of narcotics. Fortunately, my companions were armed and dispatched them- but then we left in a hurry, since it didn't seem like a good part of town, especially as armed foreigners on the scene of a triple murder." Rayan was chomping furiously on his cigar as Faïçal continued, his hazel eyes as wide as dinner plates. "I wanted to ask you if there's anything you could do to help me- what kind of contacts do you have with the police here? We had to leave so quickly, I fear we may have missed a lot of information."

Rayan shook his head, then knocked back his whiskey in a single gulp. "Well, that's a terrible shock, my boy, just terrible." He shook his head again. "Most of my contacts are in the customs units- cargo inspectors and the like- but I do have a good relationship with the deputy commissioner of the Klippenstaad police. He... well, shall we say he has a very good understanding of the value of money, and he's very active in pursuing important investigations."

"Interesting- do you think you could arrange a meeting with him for me?"

"But of course! Consider it done."

Faïçal smiled and inclined his head. "I'm in your debt, sir," he said, raising his glass.

"Nonsense, nonsense," Rayan said, waving to the bartender for another whiskey. "It's nothing- and after all, your father and I go way back. And besides, I'd do the same for any fellow who'd had such a terrible introduction to this fair city." He accepted the new glass from the bartender and raised it to Faïçal. "Let me show you around tonight! Klippenstaad has more to offer than you might think."



The overcast skies were beginning to fade from black to dark blue-gray by the time Faïçal's car pulled up back at the hotel, signifying the approach of morning as a few snowflakes drifted down solemnly. He had mostly sobered up by then, and rubbed his eyes as he got out of the car, stiff and groaning from an exhausting night.

As he walked through the deserted lobby of the hotel, one of the attendants suddenly hurried over to him.

"Monsieur Teck? There is a phone call for you," the woman said quietly.

"Really? Alright then," Faïçal said raspily. "Could you go get me some mineral water while I answer it?"

"Of course, sir," she replied with a nod as he walked off.

"Hello, this is Faïçal," he said into the receiver.

"Faïçal!", came Rayan's jovial voice, still sounding slightly slurred. "I just heard- the deputy commissioner says he can meet this evening around nine, he'd be delighted to be introduced to you. There's a rooftop bar and restaurant near where we were last night that he suggested, I think it'd be perfect- it's called Belleau's, it's uptown- I'm sure the concierge at your hotel will know how to get you there."

"Sounds wonderful," Faïçal replied. "I look forward to it."

And in the meantime, let's go get some fucking sleep.



(The idea is that he's gotten back to the hotel and gone up to his room before anyone has made it down to the common room, so he'll be asleep in his room probably till sometime in the early afternoon)
Last edited by Senkaku on Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:38 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Inoroth
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Posts: 5280
Founded: Jul 19, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Inoroth » Tue Dec 25, 2018 2:28 am

Hotel Novda, Peace Plaz, Dockyards,
Klippenstaad, Varenhold
16 January, 1910
20:43 Local Time


After his outburst towards Mr. Anders and his masked companion, Luciano was not in a conciliatory mood, and began ignoring the two, and for now it seemed they would not make any more of his remarks. The others were also seemingly indisposed to dissuade him from waiting for the authorities. He continued his pacing, muttering incomprehensibly about 'conspiracies' and events that were 'inevitable in hindsight' as he began alternately gnawing rather vigorously at his thumb and clenching his fist until the skin in his fingers turned white. He had had these sorts of fits in the past, but never this intense -- not since the blackout, at least. A part of him knew that he needed to gain a grip, while the rest continued spiralling downwards. He answered Mr. Higa’s attempts at conversation in a manner both mechanical and terse, and barely noticed as the others decided to leave and filed out of the room.

The adrenaline was really pumping now, and remaining in that corpse-filled room was fueling him further. His heartbeat pounded in his ears, his entire body was tense and ready with a primal fury. However, rationally the Rothian knew that there was nothing more he needed to fear, nothing he needed to protect himself from to survive. However, a sense of irrational fear had crept into the back of his mind, and no matter what arguments and facts he assured himself with, he remained completely on edge and rather paranoid. ’Those eyes’, he thought; Elias lay splayed open, his head thrown back and lifeless eyes followed him vacantly. The dead parthan lay on his back, much closer, much more menacing. Luciano avoided looking towards either corpse, but looking away was worse. ’What if one of them rises up once again?’ This thought was all that was needed to send him spinning around to make sure the still bodies remained still. There was also the injured parthan, who had been disarmed and pushed to one of the corners. Between keeping a careful eye on him, the corpses, the door, and the still open window, his head was well and truly, as well as exhaustingly, on a swivel.

Such was the state of Luciano when the door slammed open. The Rothian hadn’t even noticed that it had been closed, not that he was considering that at the time. Of course, it was perfectly reasonable for the authorities to be in a hurry to arrive on the scene, but that did not stop Luciano from jumping about five feet backwards in surprise, nearly falling out the window in shock and terror. This imbalance was also the only thing that slowed him from drawing his own .45 pistol and firing the entire six-round cylinder at the threat, which turned out to be a rather burly man who was clearly dressed as a lawman, and the doorman that they had passed earlier. As soon as they had registered Luciano raised both hands, empty, and explaining what happened, at least as best as his jumbled nerves allowed. He was speaking Rothian, his native tongue, and it soon became apparent that neither fellow understood him. The doorman was quickly back out of the room, and the heaving suggested this was his first experience with death, at least on this scale.

The officer behaved rather strangely, neither overly aggressive so as to make an arrest or a beating, nor friendly and understanding as to communicate he knew the Rothian was not at fault. Attempts to communicate in Rothian, Cynfeli, and even Drachensprech all proved ineffective, and although the local language contained some similarities to the latter, the differences were significant and Luciano understood very little of what the policeman said, nor indeed what any of the parade of colleagues who came in over the course of the next half hour. The pattern was repeated perhaps a dozen times: a new figure would abruptly enter, eye up the carnage with varied mixes of alarm-revulsion-surprise, begin asking questions of Luciano in their tongue, grow increasingly frustrated as he asked them if they spoke Rothian, Cynfeli, or Drachensprech, leading to a shouting match where both sides gesticulated and yelled slowly, emphasizing each word, and all to no effect, before the policeman would give up and return to the growing conclave of officers outside to regroup. If the situation were not so dire and Luciano so agitated, it would be downright comical.

Eventually, the arrival of a squealing automobile announced that someone more important had arrived. He seemed more the aristocratic type, or at least a man who had received a proper upbringing. Rather than a uniform, he wore formal civilian clothes under what seemed a police-issue trench coat. He was also the first officer who was armed with anything more substantial than a baton, a holstered pistol at his hip. Lastly, he was the first Varen to speak in a language Luciano understood, and his accent seemed more calm and refined than the others as he almost indifferently began speaking, surveying the carnage like it was an uninteresting art exhibit.

DRACHENSPRECH “Lieutenant Martin Poole of the Klippenstaad Homicide Squad. Identify yourself, please, and explain what happened here. If you wish to have an advocate with you at this time, we can summon one. I won’t let you leave here… without explaining why exactly my officers found you a foot away from two -- two and a half corpses. And without a drop of blood on you, too. Quite a feat.”

Luciano did his best to remain as calm and dignified as he did not feel inside as he explained, speaking rapidly and no less agitated now that someone finally understood him, his story not well structured as everything bubbled to the surface.

DRACHENSPRECH “Finally! You have no idea how exasperating tonight’s events have been, Lieutenant. As I have attempted repeatedly to describe to your fellow officers -- in three languages, I might add, do you have no one on your force who speaks other languages? -- I and my associates were to meet with Dr. Elias, the man so… cruelly murdered there on the bed, at his, rather this room tonight. Before I continue, I am Lord Luciano Errante Raminotto, heir to the County of Lietodici in Pia, Inoroth. We were to meet Dr. Elias about a matter he insisted could only discussed in person."

"Before you even bother asking, I haven’t the faintest clue as to what it is-was, as like I said he would only trust in a face to face meeting. I’d wager these Parthan assassins were part of it, though. Probably some damned new cult the doctor planned to expose. If you ask me, I -- oh, right, yes, as I was saying, by the time we arrived at the door at the appointed hour, the smell of death was already strong out in the hallway. I served in Fanaglia during the War, and several of the others were likewise familiar with the stench of blood and gore, so we knew at once some calamity had occurred."

"I was not at the front of the group when they broke down the door, but my associates downed two of these vile killers, while a third leapt out the window and was at once lost in the mist outside. Dr. Elias was already clearly gone, in what seems a ritual killing. That fellow there was, as I said, killed as we stormed in in a vain attempt to save our friend. The other still breaths, and I have not bothered to rouse him. The others, worried about the distress some of the women were under, left before your men arrived, while I remained behind to explain to the authorities -- you -- what occurred, and ensure you had all the information we could provide so that this horrible murder can be solved as soon as possible and the whole lot of these psychopaths can be apprehended and punished.”


Lord Luciano and Lieutenant Poole continued talking for several more hours, with a host of details being gone over again and again by the investigator. Luciano learned that this was not the first murder of this type to occur in the city, and that there had, in fact, been a string of them. The police had believed they caught the murderer, but now they were not so sure. Luciano’s theories and speculation were not appreciated by the the lieutenant, nor was the fact that the others had left the scene, but eventually Lord Luciano was allowed to leave the room and go about his business, though he was informed that he might be called back in for further questioning. In his gut, Luciano felt it was likely the man intended to make good on that possibility.

Exhausted and drained, Luciano made his way to the ground floor of the accursed building, requested a coach from the still visibly ill doorman, and fell asleep on the ride back to his own hotel. He started awake as they came to a stop, and did not even think to tip his driver as he staggered into the Klippen-Muninssen Hotel, a welcome sight. He declined assistance to his room from the masked fellow at the reception desk, and climbed up the stairs in a daze before he finally arrived at his room, opened the door, and collapsed on his bed without even removing his shoes. He did not leave his room for the entirety of the next day, as thankfully someone had retrieved his belongings from the original coaches Mr. Anders had procured. Anyone who came to visit him would be politely but forcefully told to leave him be from behind the locked door, and the perceptive would notice a tremble in his voice like what one would expect were he just sobbing. Or drunk. Or both.





Klippen-Muninssen Hotel, Uptown
Klippenstaad, Varenhold
18 January, 1910
12:30 Local Time


Given a full day to recover, Luciano was in somewhat better spirits, though still not exactly himself. He had been told that the "family" was to gather in the common room to discuss their next moves, and contrary to form arrived just on time. With uninspired greeting he sat in an empty chair, and the others seemed to instinctively know not to engage him too much yet. He did not seem to notice that their Khadari friend was absent. Mr. Anders may or may not have given him a dirty look, but the Rothian did not even look in his direction. Luciano was now clean and shaven, outwardly put together at least. He was uncharacteristically silent as the others put together the plan, and he nursed a bandaged thumb (the result of all his gnawing, though only he knew that). Inwardly, a new demeanor had come over him -- whatever mourning he had done yesterday, whatever rationalizing and temperance normally expected from him, today he was resolved that this injustice must be corrected, and their friend avenged.

Luciano merely nodded when Mireille explained that she and Mr. Higa would go to the university with him to investigate what Dr. Elias was researching, but when Mr. Higa advised caution, he scowled a bit and almost without thinking blurted out in Cynfeli "I hope we do run into that fellow and some of his friends, the issue that they will not want to meet me, for their own sakes." Mireille seemed to agree as she answered Mr. Higa, patting her own pistol. Dr. Het was also content with the plan, and even Mr. Anders seemed to approve... at his request to be called something else by the party, though, Luciano could not help scoffing and muttering something about the man's probable criminal past and trouble with the law.
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Fanaglia
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Founded: Nov 09, 2009
Capitalizt

Postby Fanaglia » Thu Dec 27, 2018 4:50 pm

Mireille furrowed her brow at Anders' request to not be called by his name, though she was more restrained than Professor Raminotto. "And what shall we call you, then, monsieur?" She was glad Dr. Z had agreed to accompany them so she had at least one pair of eyes she could trust.
Last edited by Fanaglia on Thu Dec 27, 2018 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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OOC: Fanaglia is a steampunk nation; whenever I post IC, I'm posting from 1886. That, or from some sort of weird time rift in which my characters don't realize they are in fact 127 years in the future.
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Yasuragi
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Founded: Jun 24, 2013
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Yasuragi » Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:37 pm

The next day dawned, and yet even before the sun peered above the horizon, heavy flakes of snow were falling from the sky to create soft mounds of pure whiteness across the landscape. For a moment, the stench of everyday city life would be obscured, and the seamy underbelly had another layer obscuring it from the eyes of those who might peel back the covers to drive out the wretched souls within --- and those that would prefer instead to pretend that their fair city had no such side, could do so with the greatest of ease. In a culture already prone to privacy granted by masks, the heavy clothing of the winter season and now the heavy snow allowed for even the most devoted mother to not recognize her son lest he walk even a few feet away from her side. In short, it was a perfect opportunity to hunt, and to hide, and many throughout the city did just that.

For Mireille and her group, youthful Sevia, inquisitive Higa, and the rather trembly Raminotto, it meant no small degree of discomfort. Madam Atwright, rather unusually, had answered the telephone herself; the weather would be of no concern to her, she explained, for she lived adjacent to the library, in the women’s dormitory. She would be happy to assist the honorable Madam however she could -- indeed, she herself had assisted Elias on several of his previous research efforts. Not in any crucial role, she would note, but the hint of pride remained in her voice as she spoke. In exchange for her assistance, Elias had given the Opiskella library four first editions of each of his books, as he wrote them -- and a fifth copy, signed, for her own collection. Upon any inquiries as to Elias’ latest visit, however, a rather pregnant pause filled the air. When Atwright next spoke, it was in a rather cold, professional tone; the earlier friendliness had vanished.

“Mr. Elias was excited to peruse our collections for another topic, and we corresponded at great length regarding his newest book. However, Madam, I do not feel as if Mr. Elias nor his publisher would appreciate it if I were to divulge his secrets, and certainly not to strangers speaking only via telephone. When you arrive, I shall inform you with as much detail as I see fit, having taken the measure of your character.” And with that, Atwright ended the call, rather abruptly, leaving Mireille and the others to listen to the hiss of static and the sound of the operator’s voice. A long ride in the carriages was in order - although this time, they procured heated ones, to better ward them against the bitter cold outside.

Opiskella University was magnificent, really. One of the oldest universities founded in Klippenstaad - albeit not the oldest in Varenhold, a fact the faculty and students greatly resented when it was brought up in polite conversation - it had been spared the bulk of the fighting during the past war. This was due to the prompt action of the Superintendent of the university, Atwright explained, having taken it upon herself to give them an impromptu tour of the buildings en route to the library. “He immediately cabled the leaders on all sides to inform them that Opiskella was a place of scholarly learning, and that our battles were waged in our minds and books. Any student that took up arms for either side was expelled, as well, for endangering the rest of the populace. That was sufficient,” she sighed, “for a time. Then the war became worse, and we were forced to become a hospital and a poorhouse, surrounding ourselves with the sick and infirm to protect our collections. A distasteful time. The women’s dormitory,” she gestured to a tall, four story building clad in grey stone and tasteful arches, “was home to a group of lepers, in fact. After the war, the building was scrubbed so thoroughly that they nearly wore through the floors themselves.”

Miriam Atwright was not like other Varenholt women. For one, her hair was a shockingly red color, the color of bright flames, tinged with the occasional grey strand. For another, she wore no mask, and instead had the bright glint of a Christian cross around her neck. “My husband,” she answered if asked. “He was a Quibellan, come to study our collections about, oh…. Two decades ago. I converted, once he asked my hand in marriage. It’s an odd comfort, I suppose. When I pray, I do not think of Jesus or God, but instead… him. Sacrilegious, really,” she offered an awkward laugh. “Then again, when you study religious artifacts, it is so very difficult not to offend one god or another…”

Turning, she gestured for them to pass into a small door set into a larger set of iron-bound double-doors, easily wide enough for 5 men to pass abreast. Shaking off the accumulated snow and stamping their boots to bring warmth into chilled toes, they would find the interior of the library little refuge from the cold. Fires, of course, were not welcome in an area filled with such precious and flammable objects. Warmth- and light-emitting lanterns stood at the ends of each bookshelf, next to a bucket of sand -- useful for extinguishing any fires caused by carelessness. Even the multitude of candles and wicks, however, were not particularly useful in penetrating the oppressive darkness that lay overhead. The building was truly vast, Atwright would explain, her boots echoing as she walked. “No fewer than eight stories deep - we stand at the top floor of the library itself. The rest is below, in a cave that was converted for this purpose. Above us are the galleries for viewing and preserving Camelonean tapestries, Mararasan silk stories, and of course, classical artwork. Statuaries are in the adjacent building, although those with writing are below as well, and the larger works - such as some stunning sculptures of Second Century Kunodan kings - are in the yard behind. All told, we have some ten million unique books, scrolls, shoji, tablets, and other such literary works. Most of which are quite unique, and cannot be found elsewhere.” She bestowed a slightly condescending or prideful smile upon them, before proceeding further into the cavernous room, reaching a large series of cabinets - several dozen - each filled with hundreds of small drawers.

“Mr. Elias was,” she opened one and began flicking through the cards contained therein with dizzying speed and precision, “quite…. frantic, really, the last we met. It was rather untoward of him, I thought. He was normally calm, reassuring, and - if I might say - quite rakish.” Another smile, that quickly vanished as she continued. “His last visit, some time ago, was shocking, really. He was really very disheveled, smelled simply atrocious, and acted as if he hadn’t slept in days. Nearly used up my entire ration of coffee, as well, trying to stay awake. Anyway, Mr. Elias was,” she pulled out a card and examined it critically, “yes… trying to find a book, written in the 1840s by a Drachen merchantman who rather fancied himself a gentleman and a scholar. Parthan’s Dark Sects, roughly sixty pages of handwritten notes on central Parthan stories, mythos, and people from an anthropological perspective.” She passed the card to Mireille and tutted. “And they misspelled anthropological, as well.”

“Regardless, we inherited that as part of the Widener collection, when Madam Widener perished in the first days of the war. The collection was not well cataloged, so it was a personal project of mine. I was quite pleased when Mr. Elias mentioned his research into Pahada as well, as I had just cataloged it a few weeks prior. Poor scholarship, mind, but it would prove helpful. However,” and here, a dark look passed over Mrs. Atwright’s face, “the book was stolen from our collection. Quite a scandal. We’ve not yet recovered it, but it was likely a homeless person stealing it to burn for warmth -- there was a simply unspeakable odor in the air around the shelves. Quite acrid.” She shook her head grimly. “Mr. Elias was affected worse than I; I needed a handkerchief, but he could not bear the scent for even a second. It turned him whiter than a sheet, and sent him scurrying out of the building.”

She paused sadly for a second, a small tear glimmering at the corner of her eye. “That was the last I saw him, coattails flapping as he ran. He cabled later, to apologize and to ask me to continue searching for the book, or copies of it. I never did find it, unfortunately, and cabled Mr. Elias to that effect.”

“So, Madam Mireille…. what can I do for you? I’ve told you some of what I know; I think it is time you repaid the favor in kind.”




Het, and several others, were cold. Very cold. This wasn’t particularly noteworthy, save except for how damnably cold they were. While they, like Mireille and the rest, had taken warmed coaches to the location on the docks, the comfort of the coaches disappeared within seconds of setting foot on the stone and wood docks. There, the wind howled even more bitterly, lashing at the wavelets that lapped against the piers and quays, creating a piercing shrieking that filled their ears and chilled their hearts. There was little shelter to be found here, either; every alleyway was filled with gruff-looking Parthans clustered around small fires of their own. Unfriendly faces and suspicious stares followed the trio wherever they went -- this was the domain of the dockworker, and none of them looked familiar among this clearly tight-knit crew. On the larger docks, Anders would be able to blend in with ease, affecting a Quibellan accent and pretending to be a nephew of a friend’s cousin’s sister. Here, there was no such chance - not even a bucket of ash would turn his skin dark enough to soothe any suspicions.

That’s not to say they would turn away, their expedition fruitless. A few bottles of hastily-purchased alcohol and a quick visit to consult the neighborhood lushes, their attitudes improved by the impromptu gifts, and they would have their information. Emerson Imports was one building on the entire quay, a long, narrow warehouse at the end. It was full of freight crates, and was quite busy -- but despite that, only retained two Varen managers: Mr. Emerson, and a youthful, baby-faced clerk. Mr. Emerson was, the drunks reckoned, a friendly fellow. Always ready with a few coins for the beggars, gave the yardsmen their annual bonuses promptly, played fair with everyone. He was infallible, too. Every morning, at 8:30, a coach would appear, and Mr. Emerson would step out and toss a coin to a waiting newsboy for the morning newspapers. Then, he’d climb the steps to his office inside the warehouse -- easily visible through the windows there -- and read the newspaper for a good twenty, thirty minutes. Then he would consult records, meet with the clerk, and then inspect the freight for an hour before adjourning for lunch. And so on, and so forth.

It was all dreadfully boring.

As much as Anders or Egil would press, the drunks had no idea if Emerson had any hidden secrets or scandals, let alone any connection to murderous Parthans or narcotic rings. To most, it seemed as if Emerson was really just a very boring import-and-export merchant, living comfortably off of his Pahadan, Mendean, and Parthan contracts. Watching him through the conveniently located windows of his office would prove the drunks true; Emerson adhered to his schedule rigorously, with only small deviations in accordance with the weather -- taking a five minute break to smoke inside the warehouse, rather than strolling outside. Apparently the fearsome wind and snow outside was enough to cause him to deviate, but otherwise….he proceeded about his business as inexorably as the wintry skies above.

Another approach was in order, clearly. So far all they knew was that Mr. Emerson ran an import business, hired heavily from Parthan and Pahadan immigrants as a result, and was fully licensed by the Varen government. Even the Court of Miracles knew little else about the man - not for lack of trying, but for lack of concern. He was legitimate, although the Court suspected his business was used to smuggle some goods here and there -- then again, the Court suspected that of everyone, at some point or another. The point was, the man was outwardly legitimately, and even if he were prone to dabbling in criminal enterprises here and there, he did so casually and lightly enough so as to not cause ripples that might attract the bigger fish in the Varen criminal underworld.

All of this painted an entirely nonthreatening image of the man, who was also physically unassuming. He was perhaps fifty years old, visibly balding above his plain merchant-style mask, and a large gut protruding below. Any one of them could easily overcome him, and his stamina - as they saw him panting after making the climb up to his office - was nothing to be concerned about. No; a direct approach was needed.

And so, they approached Mr. Emerson, timing their arrival for when he had just returned back from his lunch, the better to catch him off-guard as he stepped out of the coach. Straightening and placing his hat back on before snow could melt on his bald spot, his eyes widened slightly as he saw the three men approach him. “Well met, gentlemen,” he said, his voice rather pompous. He made a valiant effort at seeming jovial. “How might we be of assistance to you -- although,” he hesitated and gestured to the warehouse doors, “perhaps we might discuss inside, out of the cold and wet?”




Lieutenant Poole listened to Luciano’s impassioned torrent without even a flicker of an eyebrow. In fact, he gave little impression of listening at all, having turned to one side to idly flick through the papers and notes strewn across one of the half-broken desks as Luciano spoke. Occasionally he’d speak softly in Varen to an officer standing a half-foot away, who would scribble furiously on a small notepad, the pencil scratching as he wrote. Only at one point did Luciano elicit a reaction from Poole; when he declared his nobility, prompting Poole to turn and glance up and down Luciano appraisingly. He’d mutter something else, which was dutifully documented by the officer, before turning back to inspect the papers. This continued even after Luciano finished, albeit only for a few seconds before Poole re-engaged in the conversation.

“I am very familiar with Mr. Elias indeed, Mr. Raminotto. His face is rather recognizable, albeit without the,” he made a circling gesture, as if to indicate the cruel wound scarring Elias’ forehead, and did not complete his sentence. “I’m afraid your journey here has likely been in vain. Mr. Elias was not on the path to any sort of ‘scoop,’ save perhaps for manure. Most likely he called you here to sell you on some half-baked ramblings, and then press you for money, so that he might purchase more Parthan drugs.” Poole stared at Elias’ body, an expression of disgust flickering across it. “It’s a cruel thing to see, the desperate lengths a friend can be driven to out of need to fuel an addiction. The scourge it has on the body, the tricks it plays on the mind…” He trailed off for a second or two, clearly lost in his own thoughts, before coming out of his reverie and re-focusing on Luciano. “Mr. Elias’ death is clearly cause for concern, but I strongly doubt it is at all related to his rabid rantings and ravings. I encourage you, Mister, to put it outta your mind. Go home, to Pia.”

He muttered something in Varen to the officer writing notes, who cocked a head in surprise. Poole repeated himself, more loudly this time, and the officer nodded and put the notepad away in a belt pouch, before beginning to gather and pull together the notes, papers, and other such things littering the desks. Drachenspreche was not Varen, but Luciano was able to grasp two words of what Poole said: “Carlyle”, and “burn”. If pressed, Poole explained -- Elias had, in the past while, become obsessed with certain things, including the famous Carlyle expedition. In the process, he had harassed poor Erika Carlyle to an inordinate degree; the heiress had nearly been driven to tears on multiple occasions. Naturally, the police had been summoned by Madame Carlyle’s security, and had escorted Mr. Elias away, repeatedly. Ever since, Madame Carlyle had asked the courts and police to order Mr. Elias to refrain from contacting her - ever again. It was a distasteful business all around, and only Madame Carlyle’s lawyers’ staunch efforts had made the penny sheets refrain from publishing any accounts of the entire thing.

It was clear from Poole’s explanation that he was thoroughly convinced of the rightness of what he was saying, and that he would not be swayed by talk of mysteries or assassinations as a result, when two practical explanations lay before him. Elias had clearly been murdered due to his connections with the Parthan narcotics-dealing underworld, and his drugs had driven him to rabidly pursue the Carlyle connection. Madame Erika was innocent, to Poole’s eyes, but the underlying question was -- how did the symbol of the Bedtime Ripper appear on Elias’ forehead, when the Ripper was already imprisoned and scheduled for execution? This mystery occupied the remainder of his interrogation with Luciano, as the detective exhaustively pried into any possible connection the Inorothian noble might have with narcotics or murderous Parthan stevedores. It was not until much later that Poole would release Luciano to be escorted home by another policeman -- but not until he had extracted the names of the others in the room at the time.

“Do tell them I will be paying them a call,” Poole said, lifting a hat in a pantomime of a social visit. “And then, perhaps, we shall find answers.”
Last edited by Yasuragi on Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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The Biosyn
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Founded: Jul 09, 2015
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Biosyn » Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:56 pm

Despite a quick glare at the mutterings of Professor Raminotto, Anders smiled, much more genuine and relaxed than even a moment before, when it seemed Mireille and the others might be amenable to not using his given name, though it still was tinged by the events of two days pass. He thought for a moment, considering what his friends and colleagues have called him in the past, even considering one or two Cynfeli options for the comfort of these foreigners, before deciding. “If you would, Mademoiselle,” he said, still smiling. “Several of my closest friends call me ‘Cork’. While we may not be friends, I believe that to be the best option, going forward.”

~~~

It was so cold. Even though he was used to the weather of Klippenstaad, to the frigidness of the winter, it seemed the storms might be on their way back, and he never tried standing outside for hours when it was this cold if he could help it.

Regardless, it was time to approach this Mr. Emerson, in all his squeaky-cleanness and boring, rote schedule. As they walked up to him, just as he stepped out of the carriage. “Well met, gentlemen,” he said, in Varen. “How might we be of assistance to you -- although, perhaps we might discuss inside, out of the cold and wet?

After following Mr. Emerson inside, Anders spoke first, diving into a rapidly-forming plan he concocted on the way in. He was sure Egil would pick it up, but the Mendean, he could only hope. “Sir,” Anders said, responding also in Varen, as he gave a shallow bow, slipping into the role he had decided on. “This gentleman with me,” He gestured to Het, pausing for a breath to prompt Het for his name in Cynfeli, “is here in Klippenstaad on business.” He gestured to Egil, “Monsieur’s bodyguard,” another breath for Egil to answer, “And I am Anders, but you may call me Cork. I am Monsieur’s local retainer, here to ensure we all understand one another, unless I am unneeded and you speak Cynfeli, Mister...?”

He paused in his rapid speech as Mr. Emerson shook his head, saying they may indeed call him Mr. Emerson, and further cemented his role as retainer by helping Het remove his winter wear, before removing his own, taking advantage of those moments to speak to him in Cynfeli. “Monsieur Z, I have informed him that you are here on business, my friend is here as your bodyguard, and I, your local retainer. I will tell him you want to deal with him. Good?”

As he stowed their coats, he continued talking in Varen. “As I was saying, Monsieur here has been quite prosperous in his home country, but has decided that it is time to expand, and where else could he do better than beautiful Varenhold, where the market is ever starving for something new. But of course Monsieur will need someone here in Varenhold to manage this side of things, and your name cropped up in his research. Few Varenholt are more well-qualified, nor are they more aboveboard. What do you say? Interested in making a deal with Monsieur?” And with a breath, angling himself to face both men, he gave the two of them another shallow bow, speaking a few more words in Cynfeli in the soft tones of a manservant, telling Het that he was ready to translate for either man.
Last edited by The Biosyn on Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Liecthenbourg
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Posts: 12478
Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Liecthenbourg » Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:52 am

The fire-haired woman before him was quick with her wit and her fingers and she ran along the cabinets and cards of notes and other such details she was delivering to the group of four.

Higa felt... alone, despite the fact the others were with him. This university was monstrously huge, echoing corridors and checker-board floors. Statues grandiose, chandeliers and paintings and mosaics of all kind. Some he recognised from home, artifacts either on loan or... unjustly purchased, stolen or war trophies. He didn't let the resentment surface much, but kept his composure cool and collected.

"I don't mean to be..." he ran his hands along themselves. "Presumptuous or rude, Mrs. Atwright. I am honoured to be here, really, truly... but I must ask, can I see where this book was kept? The smell you've described is... most peculiar -- and I don't mean to question your deductions, not at all -- but... well, I write for a newspaper."

Where are you going with this, Higa? He couldn't tell them their real goals yet, he felt, at least not until Mireille had done something about it.

"And if you wouldn't mind, a piece about Opiskella in my obituary to Elias would be... well received in the Empire. It would be... not to say good, but, welcome, if I could see this place... see what he had seen."

He faintly recalled the man who ran away from Elias' death scene. He had ransacked the place. Had Elias found the book, and this man taken it? Perhaps. Perhaps.
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Fanaglia
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Founded: Nov 09, 2009
Capitalizt

Postby Fanaglia » Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:44 am

Mireille eagerly drank in her surroundings at Opiskella. So much history lived within the walls of its buildings and within the earth upon which it was built. Tagan College in Cynfel City was beautiful, modern, and housed some of the brightest technological minds in the world, but it could never hold a candle to what Opiskella had seen. And that library -- Mireille's alma mater would kill to get their hands on half of the rare works hosted by the Opiskella Library. She found herself almost instantly admiring Mrs. Atwright for her enthusiasm for her profession; of course, an environment such as this would have been wasted on anything less.

At Mrs. Atwright's mention of the stench in the library, Mireille thought back to the man who had escaped out of the window at Jackson's hotel room. Unfortunately, it seemed Mrs. Atwright knew little more about what their mutual friend was on to than they did. Before Mireille could answer her, Mr. Higa spoke up: "I don't mean to be...presumptuous or rude...I must ask, can I see where this book was kept? The smell you've described is... most peculiar...It would be... not to say good, but, welcome, if I could see this place... see what he had seen."

"Yes, you see," Mireille added, "I do not know if you have yet seen the newspapers, but you'd be sure to learn of the tragedy sooner rather than later. Our friend, Jackson Elias, is no longer with us. There are many questions surrounding his mysterious passing," she told the librarian, carefully choosing her words, for Mrs. Atwright need not know of the details of their close call with his murderers, "but we know that whatever he was researching here had something to do with it. So anything -- anything at all -- that you can tell us about this book, its contents, or the details surrounding its disappearance, would be greatly appreciated."
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Factbook
OOC: Fanaglia is a steampunk nation; whenever I post IC, I'm posting from 1886. That, or from some sort of weird time rift in which my characters don't realize they are in fact 127 years in the future.
Barringtonia wrote:Only dirty hippies ride bicycles, white supremacists don't ride bicycles EVER, although the Nazis did steal a lot of bicycles from the Dutch, but that was to use the steel to make TANKS!

Dumb Ideologies wrote:Jesus H. Christ on a jelly pogo stick of justice.

Dumb Ideologies wrote:NS forums are SUPERGOOGLE.

The power of dozens of ordinary humans simultaneously interrogating a search engine with slightly different keywords. I'm getting all teared up just thinking of the power.

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Yasuragi
Diplomat
 
Posts: 681
Founded: Jun 24, 2013
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Yasuragi » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:22 pm

"Ah, a Mendean then. I'm not particularly fond of Mendeans," Emerson said, inspecting Het closely with a critical eye, "they're grasping fellows. Very much like to pinch every coin as if it were their mother's last. I find negotiating with Rothians and Parthans to be much better. The Rothians," he explained at Anders' and Egil's inquiring gazes, "are too snooty to negotiate well, and the darkies are too stupid to know how much their goods are worth. I had a crate in here, just the last month, full to the brim of random weeds and flowers -- when I asked, the man said they were for tea!" He chuckled loudly, his belly jiggling as he sat down behind his desk. "Any fool could tell the plants were weeds, not proper tea at all. Still, got a pretty sum off of him for that, as usual."

"Anyway, no need to translate, Cork," Emerson said, swiveling slightly to open a desk drawer, from which he withdrew two cigars and a clipper. Clipping his, he offered the cigar to Het, before settling back in his chair to light the cigar with a satisfied puff. "I speak enough Mendean," he said in reasonably passable Mendean, albeit with a heavy Varen accent, "so we can talk in your language. It is the small things that matter, sir, is it not?" He offered Het a warm smile, tinged with the expectation of a profitable arrangement. "Your man here, Cork," he gestured at Anders, "tells me you're quite the self-made man, neh? A man after my own heart. I made this business myself, too, built it from the ground up. I think, as one businessman to another, you and I can come to quite the profitable agreement, depending on what exactly you're looking for. I primarily import from Parthan, you see, not Menid. My exports can go to Menid, but usually to Parthan as well, and I have some contacts in Roth. What is the nature of your business in Menid?" Throughout, Emerson had maintained a jovial tone, which vanished slightly as he leaned further back in his chair - the chair groaning as he did so - and switched back to Varen.

"You, Cork. Are you a Court man? Or is he? Half the guides and translators following these foreigners around are Court men or women, and the other half are either stupid or common pickpockets. Not that I have a problem with the Court," he puffed on his cigar again, his eyes sliding back and forth between Egil and Anders, "I just want to make sure everything's, ah, well. Squared away. Don't want to get messed up in Court business, you see. If this is just common overcharging and whatnot, carry on, don't mind me --I won't blab," he said, with a smile and another laugh.

He switched his attention back to Het, aware that the guest did not speak Varen, and cleared his throat with a slight phlegmy noise. "Ah, apologies, sir. I had just forgotten some phrasing; your man there," he gestured at Anders, "just reminded me."




"Ah...yes." Miriam gave Higa an inscrutable look, as if he had said something very interesting indeed. "Yes, you may see the collection. The smell has lingered, very unfortunately, despite my best efforts at scrubbing with some lye. I have no doubt you will smell your fill, but I might suggest bringing some perfume or some such to bear it overly long. It is several floors down; I will show you in but a moment." She returned her attention to Mireille as the woman spoke, and listened attentively, albeit with a small gasp as Mireille speculated on a connection between Elias' murder and his research. Her eyes were just the slightest bit watery as she maintained her composure, but when she spoke, she removed all doubt about her ignorance.

"I had....feared as much," she said, lowering the hand with which she had suppressed the gasp. "Mr. Elias had told me his research was dangerous, that it would anger powerful people. I knew Madam Carlyle would have been angry -- any hint of improper things with regards to her late brother would fill her with great stress, but who else views the Carlyle expedition as anything but an odd curiosity? The books are filled with lost expeditions to Parthan and Pahada. As far as most are concerned, this is but one more sheaf in the folio. The only one I can imagine being angered would be, well," she paused for thought, "Mr. Masters -- Miss Masters' father. She was his only child, after his wife died during the war, and he doted on her. He's said to have become quite irrational at the news of her death. If Elias had uncovered something scandalous there -- no, no," she stopped herself. "Mr. Masters may be emotional, but surely not enough to commit murder. Certainly not. Perhaps some fisticuffs, at most."

In her slight rambling, Ms. Atwright had revealed several things; the first is that she had already been aware of Elias' death, as evidenced by her teary, but otherwise unemotional reaction to Mireille's news. Further, Elias had apparently confided in her a great deal, if he had warned her about the mere possibility of punishment as a result of his research. And lastly, she had little clue on the nature of Elias' murderers, let alone their motivations, if the only potential suspect she could envision would be a wealthy Varen socialite.

She busied herself by turning and fetching a large lantern standing on top of a small desk nearby, and hooding the back half so that the flickering flame inside would only cast a light forward, rather than on all sides. Turning back to the group, she spoke briefly, "I shall tell you more, but let us be efficient; I shall show you the Widener collection, and we shall talk more on the way." However, en route, Ms. Atwright proved to be the more talkative one, and her voice, as soft as it was, echoed oh-so-slightly in the oppressive darkness all around. The silence was overwhelming, as odd as that might be, and the bookshelves were so very close together, and so very tall, their tops vanishing into the darkness above.

"Mr. Elias and I, as I said prior, worked closely together on this project," she said as she walked, a measure of crispness returning to her voice. "And I said that he left in quite a hurry the last time he was here. I neglected to mention one crucial matter, however." Atwright trailed off as she hurried through the library, down these steps and up these others, leading the group through the darkness. The library was truly as vast as she had said, but they would have had almost no way of knowing if she were leading them in circles or guiding them truly. Their only source of illumination would be the lanterns scattered here and there, and the light Atwright carried in her hand. Nor were there other guides. In fact, the library appeared entirely empty as they proceeded -- they saw no other lanterns being carried about, nor heard the clacking of typewriters or the scratching of pens, or even the shuffling of feet. Perhaps they were the only ones there, in that great library.

Perhaps not.

"He left in such a hurry, in fact, that he quite forgot to return to collect his notes. I took the liberty of cleaning up after him - can't have the mess lying about, after all - and left it in my office for a few days. Eventually, though, after he refused to return, I felt some....curiosity, shall we say?" Miriam blushed slightly, red in her cheeks matching her bright hair. "A most unladylike attribute, really. I couldn't help but read his notes. After all, perhaps I could then be prepared with some other books or something pertinent to his work, if we never recovered the one book he wanted." She paused. "I wish I had never read them. I should not have. It was...disrespectful to Mr. Elias. And..." she hesitated before plunging further on, the words spilling out of her suddenly, as if a dam had been released. "And I did not wish to remember him in the way that his notes made him seem. The first notes, he had journeyed all the way to Parthan to locate things. Visited Menid, spoke with numerous people in Borian, even some Nandi tribesfolk. His accounts, though, so... horrid, so awful. Ah. We're here."

She lifted her lantern to illuminate a small brass plate, and frowned. "That's odd."

Peering around her shoulder, the rest of the group could make out the brass plate located on the side of the doorway, perhaps six inches by four, and no more than a half inch thick. 'Widener Collection' it read -- or perhaps that is what it said originally. Deep grooves had scored the brass plate, so deep they had reached the wood of the walls underneath the plate, changing the phrase. No more was this the 'Widener Collection,' the name plate declared, for now it was the 'Widening Collection.' A light breeze flowed through the corridor they stood in, chilling them slightly, and causing the flame to dance and flicker.

Atwright stared at the nameplate for a few moments before huffing in irritation and turning to regard the group, lowering the lantern so the nameplate no longer shone in its light. "I find myself quite vexed, really. First thieves, homeless vagrants and vagabonds, breaking in and stealing our books, and quite possibly stinking up the entire room, and now vandals, destroying university property! The sheer nerve!" Her voice had gone rather shrill, either from the stress of discussing Elias' notes or anger at the destroyed property, it was rather unclear which bothered her more. "Well, let us hope they have not damaged the collection... I should really have the university assign more guards...." she spoke to herself as she fished for the key on the chatelaine on her belt, opening the door with a clatter of bolts and locks unlatching. Opening the door, she vanished inside, leaving Higa to carry the lantern behind her.

"Ah, good. No damage. And the stench," her voice became rather muffled, as if she had pressed a hand to her nose, "is still quite present. Please enter, Mr. Higa, Madam, Professor. There are more lanterns inside." The group could hear her fumbling about, the slight scrape of metal, and the sharp scrape of a match before the warm, reassuring lantern-light began filling the room and revealing their surroundings. Books. Piles of them. Stacked every which way, in a jumbled mess. A small quarter of the room was neat and meticulous, with punch cards sticking out of each book therein at a precise angle, while the rest was but chaos, and not even organized chaos at that. Several crates lay on the floor, the lids nowhere to be seen, with Parthan pots and statuary recognizable amidst the straw and hay that protected them. "As I said, quite uncategorized as yet," Atwright said, hands on her hip now that she had no need to carry a lantern. "And the smell, well -- you may see for yourself if you but cross the room."

And it was true. No sooner had anyone crossed halfway across the room than would they be assaulted by a horridly vile stench. It smelled horrid, reeking of rotten things and blood and unmentionable fluids, the foul breath of decay and vomit and other awful things wrapped up in one whiff. The sharp smell of lye, normally overwhelming, had no effect here, and only served to make the smell worse, if such a thing were possible. For Higa, and the Professor, the smell was worse than any battlefield they had witnessed, somehow, but there was an undercurrent of something beneath it all. A smell that burned their nostrils as if it were some toxic gas -- but would stir up some memories for them all. The smell of lighting, of ozone.




Placeholder for the Police Commissioner (Deputy) post response to Senkaku. ETA several hours.

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Liecthenbourg
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12478
Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Liecthenbourg » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:00 pm

They strode along the caverns of secrecy that the university held behind its walls.

Miriam Atwright, their lady of the lamp, strode forward with it at hand. Numerous times had Higa offered himself forth to carry it for her, as would have been customary in the Clockwork Empire. A lady never near fire, it would ruin her complexion and fertility.

As they walked along, that group of four of theirs, he couldn't help but ponder. He couldn't help but reflect back on her reaction: she knew already. She knew. Now, any person could have picked up the papers - he knew it was nothing - but a niggling feeling within him seemed to doubt that. She hadn't mentioned it to them when they brought him up, she hadn't even suggested it when they entered. Women were vipers when they wanted to be.

When they had seen the damage and the vandalism to the name plate, Higa's eyes opened in curiosity. "Exactly whom has... authority to come down here, Mrs. Atwright? I don't imagine it is easy to get here...?" He stared at her rather intently, but a neutral expression sprawled across his face. Save for the fact he stared too curiously at the fact her hair was red.

And then the door opened. The immense odour, the pong, the stench -- Higa gagged. A flurry of visions crossed his mind once more, a series of reflections and compulsions, a series of horrific memories of reaching for his gas mask during the Great War. How he wished for it to be with him, just this once. He hated it. He hated it completely, but the relief it would have provided for his senses here and now would have been... almost wonderful.

Bringing a handkerchief to his face, before gently offering it to Mireille -- no matter how ineffective it was -- he strode across first. His eyes watered, an unholy mixture of lye, corpses... gas.

"This isn't the smell of a vagrant or a homeless person, Ms. Atwright." His eyes watered once more and with a face-wrinkling cringe he gestured to the door. "Nor is that the work of a vandal."

"I smell the worst of all smells, Ms. Atwright. The smell of death, decay, the smell of... a body." He grabbed a lantern off of its wall-hook, or whatever it was, and strode around. He did his best to hold his breath, peeking under ever crevice of the room, searching as thoroughly as he could. Behind every wall, under every shelf and inside every cabinet.

He stopped for a moment, unsure. Concerned. Would Atwright throw him out for this?

It mattered not, for his suspicion was founded rightly - as far as he was concerned.

He raised a foot up and down came his boot forcefully onto the floor, looking for a chamber beneath.
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The Biosyn
Bureaucrat
 
Posts: 44
Founded: Jul 09, 2015
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Biosyn » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:26 pm

Easily covering up his dislike at leaving the rest of the conversation in the hands of Het with a smile, he answered Emerson’s question. “An apt description, Mr. Emerson, and a true one at that.” His eyes flickered to Het, before continuing. “The Court does like to keep tabs on what’s going on, but no worries, I am not on Court business today.”

“If I am not needed, then I shall excuse myself until you are done. Mr. Emerson.” Anders said with a slight bow to him, before turning to Het, switching to Cynfeli. “Monsieur Z, I shall leave you to business here.” He gave another slight bow, before turning and walking away, taking himself into the warehouse proper.

And there he found that Mr. Emerson looked to be as boring as he had heard. No Court business, no business behind the back of the Court, nothing but what he claimed to be. As Anders wandered the warehouse, he found scores of Parthan goods: rugs, ivory, canned delicacies, and more, all luxury items coveted by the rich. As he made his way further back, nothing stood out to him, nothing, that is, until he reached a far corner, where sat several crates. By themselves, they would have been nothing out of the ordinary, except that they were, in fact, by themselves. Nothing in the way of a bill of listing, nor was there anything on where it was to go besides just Rothia in general, it seemed. The crates were nailed shut, as expected, and full, it seemed, of straw. Lightly rapping his knuckles on the wood of the crates as he looked at them, nothing about them gave away anything.

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Fanaglia
Senator
 
Posts: 4061
Founded: Nov 09, 2009
Capitalizt

Postby Fanaglia » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:46 pm

The three foreigners followed Mrs. Atwright through the dark, eerie bowels of the great library. She sensed some apprehension in her companions (Professor Raminotto was always on edge, but Mr. Higa seemed nervous, as well), but she tried to bury her own uneasiness by reminding herself how impressive and wonderful a place they were in, despite the circumstances and the dungeon-like atmosphere. But as they descended deeper into the ground, farther away from the lobby and farther from the little amount of natural light one could enjoy there, her sense of dread within only grew. Her hand unconsciously drifted to her pocket, to the comfort of the cold steel and hard wood hidden away inside; her eyes darted every which way, always scanning the oppressive darkness around them, never seeing anything, but never quite feeling satisfied that there was nothing to see.

As Mireille listened to Mrs. Atwright's discomfort in sharing what she'd learned from snooping on Jackson Elias' notes, she found herself itching to have a look at them, as well. She was sure that, with their mutual friend's passing, the librarian would be happy to share them with them, as well, if there was a possibility that they might find more clues therein about what had led to his grisly end, and potentially help bring his killers to justice. She wished to ask her when she finished speaking, but Mrs. Atwright suddenly stopped to announce that they had arrived at the room where the Widener Collection was kept, although the nameplate had been vandalized with deep, mysterious gouges in the brass to now read "Widening Collection."

Mrs. Atwright did not seem to find this discovery as unsettling as Mireille did, for her response was instead that of anger and indignance; Mireille's sense of dread grew and she wondered whether she should be worried about something seriously amiss, or if Mrs. Atwright was simply accustomed to spending her time in such a queer environment.

When Mrs. Atwright opened the door, Mireille recoiled, not just at the smell, but at the general state of the room. She wondered if the Widener Collection hadn't been ransacked like Elias' hotel room had been until Mrs. Atwright apologized for its disorganized state, having not had the chance to properly catalogue its contents. But that smell...Mireille had once worked in a concessions stand in her teens and several ground beef patties had fallen, unnoticed, behind the ice box. An unholy stench gradually arose inside the concessions stand over the course of the next several hot days of the Fanaglian summer. The stench of the maggoty patties when they were finally discovered over a week later was one that would never leave her. But that smell...the worst smell she'd ever experienced...that was nothing compared to the stench coming from the locked room deep within the library.

Mireille's hand never left her pocket, her sense of unease only growing when Mrs. Atwright disappeared into the darkness of the foul-smelling room to light more lamps, the oppressive emptiness behind the visitors weighing heavily on their backs. When the librarian invited them to join her in the room after the extra lamps were lit, Mireille was content to linger in the doorway, thankful for the kercheif Mr. Higa had given to her, for what little good it did.

"This isn't the smell of a vagrant or a homeless person, Ms. Atwright," Higa Kenkichi said as he stepped into the room. "Nor is that the work of a vandal. I smell the worst of all smells, Ms. Atwright. The smell of death, decay, the smell of...a body." Mireille had been trying not to come to that conclusion herself, but there it was. And she knew he was probably right as she watched him begin to tear the room apart in search of...it.

She pressed her back against the doorframe and cast a glance off into the darkness from which they had come, but never took her eye off of the goings-on inside the room, her heart in a big knot in her throat in anticipation for some new, gruesome discovery or the return of whomever had left his vile mark (both physically and olfactorily) on the library.

Suddenly, a great thud reverberated through the otherwise-silent, cavernous library and Mireille nearly leapt out of her skin. It was Higa Kenkichi, stomping away at the floorboards of the foul-smelling room like some sort of madman. While the library had thus far appeared to be empty and she had no real reason to think anyone apart from their little group would hear them, someone hearing them was exactly what she feared just then. "Mr. Higa!" She hissed as she tightened her grip on the gun in her pocket. "Mr. Higa!" She said again as he continued to stomp away. "Mrs. Atwright, I, uh, I really must apologize for my associate's behavior...uh..."
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The Holy Dominion of Inesea
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 14439
Founded: Jun 08, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Holy Dominion of Inesea » Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:55 am

It seemed it was Het’s fate as a Mendean to be drawn into trade and bartering no matter where he went. His father-in-law would be laughing his aging ass off in Bandar Garbi. While Het did not speak a lick of Varen, he understood the motions of what Anders and Egil were pulling. He had to approve of their impromptu plan, even if it cast him as a stereotype that he despised. The fellow, Anders, was obviously acting as his translator. Egil, his footpad or guard, stood quiet to the side. Anders Cynfeli mutterings confirmed his suspicions. Ah well, he’d seen Esther’s father do this numerous times. And he was a Mendean after all. He took a deep drag of the offered cigar, mulling it in his mouth, before exhaling a long and slow cloud.

The factor’s Mendean was rough on Het’s Khanganah-raised ears. It was obvious he had learned his tongue from the Confederate Guards that had been here during the war. It had the faintest hint of the guttural eastern dialects mixing with his Varen accent. Nonetheless it was passable and understandable.

“The small things indeed, Gospodin…… I am afraid I must ask how you wished to be addressed. In Menid we say our given names, father’s name, grandfather’s name, clan, and hometown for our formal names. This is not the case in Varenhold, no? I would not wish to offend.”

He uncorked one the multiple flasks he had deep in his robes. After taking a deep draft of the krupnik, he offered the honeyed vodka to Mr. Emerson.

“Care for a drink? And yes, you are correct. I represent the firm Zhak Industries. It’s a decent-sized industrial concern with facilities in Khanganah in Menid and Bandar Fareha in Pahada. We are affiliated with the Ifrit Conglomerate,” explained Het while taking another swig from the bottle, “though we are fully independently run. I’m sure you’ve heard of Ifrit. Zhak primarily manufactures…ahh…munitions. We are looking to expand in other areas of course. The hardwoods from Nordesia are particularly sought after, as is the guano. It is expected that many more Mendeans may be coming to Nordesia to work in the coming years. It is my aim to provide them with the creature comforts of home. I see you import from Parthan already, how would you feel about importing Mendean goods to sell to the Mendean workers. In that vein, actually, do you happen to have any Mendean liqueurs? I’m running short myself.”
I'm really tired

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Razonica
Envoy
 
Posts: 336
Founded: Jun 28, 2015
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Razonica » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:48 pm

The Library

For the passed few days, Sevia had not been feeling like herself. First, she'd been overcome by the sheer amount of work she was pouring into a paper that she was working on, discussing similarities in many ancient peoples from different parts of the globe. She'd already felt asleep while awake then, and now, with her thoughts floating with gruesome scenes of fanatical murder, Sevia felt even stranger. Strangest of all, perhaps, was Sevia's impossible feeling of a lingering doom. A doom that she'd once seen before. An evil spirit or being that had once been in the bear she'd killed to earn her way into her tribe. The bear that, even while caught in a trap, managed to snare her. Just trying to consider what it was that made her think of this evil or the bear made her shiver. Perhaps it was best left alone. For, the more she thought of it, the more her dreams started to become stranger, plagued by fantastic eels made of squishy organs and long oozing tentacles. Of dead men with carved up faces and bodies, their insides forming the horrifying reaching eels and tentacles. So bad were they, that Sevia began to take some medicine to clear her mind of headaches. They began to leave her mind. Slowly.

The young woman had come prepared this morning. Slung over her shoulder where some studies of ancient markings and symbols that she hoped to compare to any found on anything or...anyone they discovered today. She carried other mundane supplies of her scholarly education, thought she had also decided to wear her tribal sword and had taken her handgun with her. Once, she'd seen three strange men try and attack then. And there was also the murder of Jackson Elias. So, bringing weapons with her seemed to be a sound decision. Though, should she be pressured to fight, Sevia was vastly unlike her Razma tribeswomen. Able to fight, yes, but to what capability frightened her.

Sevia accompanied Mireille and the others to the library, expecting to find herself much more useful today than the other days. Here, Sevia could find what was needed, research things others couldn't grasp. Or, at least, she thought they were going to a normal library. The place seemed gloomy to the youth, casting oppressive shadow and depression like a shroud. Sevia turned to Mireille, "I don't like the feel of this place. Though, I will be more helpful today than other days...I've been rather overworked lately and this is all a lot to take in."

As they reached the Widener Collection, the group discovered that its nameplate was vandalized. Sevia moved to investigate and took a rubbing of it to investigate further. On site, however, she attempted to determine what had carved the plate. Perhaps it was done by the same sort of weapon used to kill the group's mutual friend, or was something else all together. And why would one bother to change the wording? What dark collection was the person responsible promising to expand. Yet, Sevia soon stopped, for some terrible odor began to assail her. And, as she turned away to look at her companions, she realized the fear that some of them held within.

Just then, Mr. Higa began to act strangely, stomping around like a madman. Sevia felt her hand reaching for her pistol, though why she did not know. What was she going to do, shoot a man for stomping? Yet, the stomping seemed to be stirring something insider her, adding to the abyssal library. Sevia put aside such thoughts and said, "Mr. Higa, please stop that stomping. We have much to look into here and must also discover what that smell is. Don't you agree that what you are doing isn't helping us accomplish that?"
A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken short cut to meet it.

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Yasuragi
Diplomat
 
Posts: 681
Founded: Jun 24, 2013
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Yasuragi » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:31 pm

Belleau was a shining example of the Varen success story. Founded in 1900 by a returning soldier and his wife using confiscated Drachen properties sold for a tenth of their value, the bar had enjoyed a shining reputation as the 'Century Club' for nearly eight years, becoming a haven of the glittering world of crooners and jazz bands. Numerous Varen musicians had marked the beginning of their success by appearing in one of the many rooms of the 'Century Club,' and the average visitor might see themselves rubbing shoulders with the likes of Virtanan or Jessen, returning to their old haunts to reminisce about memories or to size up the up-and-coming competition performing that night. Regardless, the star-studded crowds that thronged the bar were second only to the grandeur of the surroundings; paintings and murals adorned quite literally every inch of space, and even the floors were covered with intricate mosaics and glittering gilt, a rather overwhelming hodge-podge of artistic styles and the dizzying ostentatious nature of modern Varen prosperity. This had only intensified once the old soldier had died, and his wife had remarried - renaming the bar in turn to its current title, 'Belleau' -- not without some outcry from the patrons, mind -- with the new proprietor installing several new gadgets and gimmicks.

Pride of place stood a massive carousel, in the center of the Swan Room - so named for Jessen's famous swan dance, first performed there six years ago, which had launched her career in both music and film - which reached from floor to ceiling. A series of small 2-person booths stood on the outside of the ring, adjoining the bar which stretched around the central pillar, allowing the bartenders to serve each private booth in turn as it swiveled. Bright portraits covered the top of the carousel, merging it into the ceiling nearly seamlessly, and a rather riotous bundle of neon lights stretched around the outward-facing mirrors and on the underside of the roof, allowing patrons to marvel at the sight of themselves spinning slowly into and out of view. While one might think the thought of a crowd of tipsy or drunk people near a spinning object would be prone to danger, there was little to fear; patrons that were too inebriated to disembark safely often found themselves lurching into the crowd, sparking a raucous uproar of laughter, while more experienced patrons could leverage themselves out adroitly, their dizziness masked as the slight bumbling of a tipsy fellow.

The entire scene struck one as either being endlessly titillating or rather silly, leading most bystanders to regard the scene with an expression of perpetual bemusement. It was entirely over the top, entirely unnecessary, and entirely opulent.

In short, it was the perfect place for Faical, allowing him to feel entirely at home. This feeling was further compounded by the relative absence of masks and other trappings of Drachen culture - for here was the rejection of the Drachenkult and its traditions, and the forging of a new, unique Varen culture. Or so the people present - those in possession of their faculties sufficient enough to carry on such a weighty conversation - would claim. A rather high-minded view, but in this glittering bubble of light and beauty and culture, one would be hard-pressed to not be carried away by their unbridled enthusiasm.

Faical did not even need to do more than mutter his name to the concierge before he was whisked up to the Belleau in a gleaming elevator, the brass panels polished and adorned with wire murals marking out some abstract concept - he did not know what - and deposited in the Swan Room. There, standing in front of the carousel, he had only but to look for a second to make out the man he sought to meet. After all, he was the only one dressed in the rather drab outfit of a Klippenstaad policeman, albeit with a few extra tassel and medals to denote his rank. The man sat alone in one of the private booths at the carousel, spinning at a sedate pace, nursing a drink - a highball, perhaps a Horse's Neck, Faical would surmise, the lemon peel and glass being a dead give-away. Faical could take away two more facts, too, immediately apparent in his once-over: the man was a Parthan - or a rather tanned Asterdani - with his brown skin being substantially darker than any other patron's, Faical included, and secondly, he wore no mask, but a plain one sat on the table in front of the man, next to his glass.

Faical was no fool. Varenhold was a welcoming country, accepting immigrants from across the globe for decades. Even so, every region maintained its internal prejudices against others, for whatever reason, and Varenhold was no different in this aspect. For this man to climb the ranks in the police force so highly, in spite of his skin color, well. He must be extraordinarily competent, or extremely connected. Or both. The mask reinforced this, too - the fact that it was so plain indicated no pride or prestige was involved in wearing it, and the fact that it was so readily discarded in this environment implied it was nothing more than a tool for the man to use, whether to hide his emotions or to fit in more easily among the majority-mask-wearing police force. There was more Faical observed, from the man's closely-shaved head to the obvious scar marks on his temple, but he did not have long to observe - even here, staring overly long attracted attention, and standing still interfered with the natural ebb and flow of the rest of the crowd. Doffing his hat, Faical slipped into the booth with relative ease, settling in time to meet the man's gaze and hand extended in greeting.

"Mr. Teck, I assume," he said, his voice deep, pitched perfectly to cut through the background chatter and the crooning of the woman on stage. "I am Deputy Commissioner Longwood. A pleasure to meet you - I enjoy quite a...pleasant relationship with Rayan, and once he asked if I would be willing to meet with you, well," he spread his hands - Faical spotted more scars and healed pock-marks on the pale palms - "how could I refuse? I understand you're interested in the unfortunate events surrounding the murder of Jackson Elias. I was never a fan of his works, I'm afraid, but a good number of people were, and many of them were, ah, also interested in his death."

He paused as they swiveled slowly past a bartender, allowing Faical to order and receive his drink before proceeding. "Although I am, I admit, rather curious as to why a Khadari businessman is so interested in a murder so far from home. Perhaps we can help satisfy each others' curiosity, Mr. Teck. How may I help?" Finishing, Longwood took a sip of his drink, and sat it back down before interlacing his fingers and focusing all of his attention on Teck. His posture and tone had indicated he was cautious but open - Faical had enough experience to judge that an open bribe this early would likely spook the man. Best to couch his offers in vague terms, but be open about what he wanted in return. This was no worse than a standard negotiation.




Sevia's words rang truly. There was nothing to be found underneath the floorboards as Higa would discover after several strong stomps. There were no hidden gaps, no loose floorboards, no cunningly disguised trapdoor. There was only the creaking and slight splintering of hardwood, and the astonished gasp from Atwright. The woman stood adjacent to the four of them, her hand pressed to her mouth, and the slight tinge of... fear, worry, or some underlying emotion there. Not the same concern or fear that had shone through as she spoke of Elias' notes or her work with him, but the flash of fear one faces when presented with a dangerous animal or angry fellow. For the first time, Atwright considered the nature of her guests, and a slight seed of doubt began worming its way through her mind - and this was presently visible to the group as she recovered and responded to Mireille, only occasionally taking her gaze off of Higa.

"I do not know what he is playing at, Madam Mireille. I oversaw the cleaning myself; there was no body. Nor could there have been. No one has been reported missing within the library or university for years; certainly not during my tenure." A touch of indignation entered her voice, as she scoffed. "Frankly, it's rather quite insulting. A body? No. Where would one even hide it? There are no hidden passageways or chambers, and you can see for yourself that the floors are untouched save for the dutiful scrubbing I set the students to. I'll ask you to cease your actions, Mr. Higa, at once. There has been quite enough damage done to my library recently; I need not add splintered floors and damaged struts to it!"

She paused, giving Mireille sufficient time to interrupt her continued reprimand with a skillful redirect, refocusing the woman on another matter, such as Elias' notes. As Mireille soothed Atwright's ruffled feathers, the others were given free reign to continue their investigations - albeit not without the occasional baleful glance from Atwright, now suspiciously monitoring their movements. Anything too untoward would, of course, prompt further squawking and outrage from Atwright, but otherwise, she was kept distracted. Mireille and Luciano would be able to glean little more from her other than what she had already told them - the remainder of the information would clearly have to be obtained via Jackson's notes, and Atwright, if pressed, would only shake her head sadly and refuse to say the details of within, only that they 'must see for themselves'.

Sevia would be able to take a rubbing of the brass plate with great ease, skilled from years of working with collections and carvings, but determining the cause of the great grooves and gashes that marred the plate would prove more difficult. The marks were clearly done intentionally - the chances of random gashes spelling out letters would be so vanishingly small as to be implausible. No, clearly it was done intentionally -- but if so, how? Peering intently at the grooves, and inspecting the floor directly beneath, she found no evidence of sawdust, and the brass of the plaque showed no chisel or line marks that would indicate it had been done with a tool of some sort. Furthermore, lifting the lantern to shine directly into the grooves, she spotted some sort of dried substance inside. Cautiously smelling it, or using a pencil or some such other implement to pry loose a few flakes, would quickly reveal the tang of blood - and a clear splinter of something she did not recognize, but seemed organic in some way. For the others, there would be little hesitation in identifying what Sevia had found - a shard of fingernail.

Higa's exploration, only partially checked by the collective admonishment of Atwright, Mireille, and Sevia, continued unabated, allowing him to pore over every shelf and book and crate within the room. Most of it was gibberish to Higa, being written in some script he did not recognize, or if he knew it, did not read. What little he could glean would prove useless. This collection was truly wide in scope, ranging from the occasional Tiantian manuscript to a wide body of literature that appeared to discuss the nature of Camelonean architecture. There did not appear to be a single theme in terms of topic, era, or even geographical era, and Atwright's comments on its disorganization appeared to be quite true - the books were not even stacked neatly in rows on the shelves, but jumbled every which way. Discouraged, Higa turned from the shelves to the crates that lay scattered around the floor, each containing a wide variety of things, from ice-bound landscape paintings to crude carvings of -- well, what was this?

His rummaging uncovered a small statuette underneath the straw and cloth that filled each crate - at first glance, utterly ordinary, but yet, on second and third glance, not. A fourth glance followed, and before long, Higa's gaze was fixed on the statuette as he gently brushed away the straw to uncover it. It was a statuette of a man, perhaps a foot tall, made out of the most polished stone he had ever seen. The green and brown flowed together, creating swirls and vortexes just under the surface, and the polished nature made the stone gleam as if it were glass or jewelry even under the paltry light of the lanterns. His gaze roamed up and down the statuette, utterly unable to look away, and yet unable to say just why it entranced him so: he was no artist, to be enamored of such trinkets, and his homeland had things just as wondrous, if not more so, in abundance. And yet.... the swirls of the stone, the flow of the natural coloration.... it was so beautiful and entrancing that he could almost swear that the colors were swirling underneath the stone, as if he held some sort of concoction or liquid contained within a glass, rather than a solid stone statuette.

He lifted it out of the crate, gingerly, wincing as he held it, as if even the mere touch of his fingers sullied it, detracted from its ethereal beauty. So entranced was he by the natural state of the stone that he did not notice the small carvings on the statue's forehead - carvings he had seen but a short time ago on the bloodied and mutilated body of Jackson Elias. Nor did he notice the man's face was contorted in a carved scream, an eternal snarl that echoed down the decades, or centuries, or millennia since it had been carved. Or, rather, he did notice both of these things, but he... did not care, not right now at least. There would be time enough to notice these things after he had admired the swirls, followed the curve of each with his eyes, tracing them over and over again…




It's true, there were crates hidden in some corner of the warehouse - although hidden was a slight exaggeration, given that there was no attempt to hide or obfuscate the presence of these crates. They were just left there, with little to mark them, save for the stenciled writing of 'Rothia' at various points. This was, of course, against the law, and against tradition, too. After all, how could one adequately track packages without some sort of marking denoting their owner, place of origin, or approval status? Where were their papers? All of this smacked of something to Anders - probably some sort of smuggling scheme? But if it was smuggling, then why would it be so obviously illegal? Any port official worth his or her salt would simply order these crates opened the second they were spotted - not conducive to a successful smuggling operation at all.

The only option was that they were never intended to be found, or that Mr. Emerson had some sources within the customs office that would ensure that these packages and crates never saw the light of a custom official's lantern, nor faced any scrutiny by the ship captain, nor the customs officials in Rothia itself. All of which was, of course, very expensive. So, Anders could therefore reason, standing there in the cold warehouse, that the contents of these crates were very valuable indeed - or that their owner was very keen on delivering them without anyone knowing. Both greed and privacy were valid reasons to murder someone, as both were essentially crimes of passion of a sort, a desire to protect what one had, whether it be secrecy or money.

It would be more than easy enough to crack open a crate. There were plenty of crowbars and such around. But doing so might risk discovery, and therefore jeopardize what Het and Egil were up to, in the office above. He could also go upstairs and pressure Emerson - but that too held risks. The man might not know anything and threatening an innocent was, well, fine with Anders to a certain extent, but even so...Or, worse, Emerson might claim not to know, and then inform those they truly sought of their presence here if he was allowed. There were pitfalls to both avenues, but one thing was for certain - leaving the crates be was certainly the most foolish, and therefore unreasonable, course of action.




"Emerson is fine," Emerson said, waving aside Het's concerns, although he did accept Het's offer of krupnik with a grateful tilt of the flask and a long swallow of the potent drink. He passed it back to Het and daintily dabbed around the corners of his mouth with a handkerchief. "When one works with so many non-Drachen or Varen for so long, you recognize that they like to speak with a person, and feel some trust by knowing someone's name, rather than a nickname. A curious habit, but one that doesn't harm me in any sense," he chuckled, his belly jiggling slightly as he laughed. "And so, I go by 'Emerson'. I've used it for so long, to so many people, that it may as well be my name by now."

At the mention of Ifrit Conglomerate, Emerson's eyes flared slightly with the hint of suppressed greed, but the man was a cautious fellow. Ifrit Conglomerate was a mighty big fish indeed, capable of feeding a man for months or years, but equally capable of capsizing the sturdy business he had already built for himself. He chose his words with care. "I see. Yes, I daresay we've heard of Ifrit. Your munitions were quite common here, during the War, although our own businesses have rather taken the market since, heh. But of course, there are always opportunities for a cunning man to seize the day, exploit what opportunities exist to him within the sphere of commerce, neh?"

He leaned back in his chair, pondering for a second. "I do say we have some contacts we can meet to discuss the export of some Mararasan and Varen hardwoods, and of course, we'd naturally be interest in the import of such things. We already do much to supply our Pahadan customers with the, ah," he sketched some quotation marks in the air, "'creature comforts' of their homelands, heh heh. It would be easy enough to supply Mendeans with a reliable source of what comforts they desire from your homeland. We currently do not ship anything from Menid, sadly - I'm afraid we have no liquor of the type you have on you. We mostly import from Pahada and export to other Eiren countries, with the very occasional shipment returning to Pahada. In the past, during the war, we imported more from Menid, but those contracts and customers have, uh, moved along," he waved away the thought of those more fruitful times.
Last edited by Yasuragi on Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Senkaku
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Posts: 15975
Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Father Knows Best State

Postby Senkaku » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:04 pm

Uptown Klippenstaad
Belleau's





Faïçal smiled at Longwood, his teeth dazzling in the brilliant neon of the Swan Room, and waved at a passing waiter, quickly ordering a vodka martini as he considered how to approach the policeman across from him.

"A pleasure to meet you as well, Deputy Commissioner. I can understand your curiosity, I suppose I am rather far from home- but only because Mr. Elias was an old friend of mine, who'd invited me to visit him here. You see, before he died he'd intimated to some mutual friends that he had something important to tell me... you can understand, obviously I'd like to find some answers."

His drink materialized, and Faïçal took a sip before pulling out a cigarette and slipping it into a jet black steel cigarette holder. "Would you care for a cigarette?", he asked Longwood cheerfully, igniting a diamond and ruby-studded, red-enameled lighter whose colors seemed to shift in the light just like the flame emerging from it, the rubies the same shocking shades of vermilion as some of the stripes on Faïçal's red, pink, and orange shirt. The young Khadari took a long drag and held out his pack of cigarettes, for the commissioner to take one if he liked, and glanced down at the menu.

Oh, parrotfish with truffles! Well, we are a bit far from the equator, I suppose I should ask where they get the fish from, but I can't imagine a place of this caliber wouldn't have its own tanks, or fly things in on ice. I'll definitely ask if he wants to split maybe two dozen oysters to start, though, the water's definitely cold enough here.
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Athrax wrote:
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Only once. He got a mindblowing reception though

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Conserative Morality wrote:Sanders/Trump 2016

Mexico will pay for our universal healthcare!

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But then the beat dropped and it was just perfect.

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