The Absent-minded Curator

March 23, 2018:

Ripclaw takes The Magdalena to meet the Curator. Later, they run into The Rapture. Waffles are had.

The Curio Shop. Later, A Diner.

Characters

NPCs: The Curator, Josef Durant (Cameo)

Mentions: Lara Croft, Sara Pezzini, The Angelus

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

OOC Note: This log immediately follows:

http://cmbeta.wikidot.com/log:7125 (You're a Tilly)

And immediately precedes:

http://cmbeta.wikidot.com/log:7179 (Face Value)

Beyond that doorway with the single red light the Curio Shop beyond is to be expected of a 'fringe' and hidden collections store of antiques, lost objects, old trinkets, historical papers and books, replicas of great artifacts, flintlock pistols, tribal masks, primitive musical instruments, beads, shells, all manner of oddities.

There is a fine layer of dust over it all. Robert leads the way in wards, somewhere a television plays, the sounds of it tuned far too high, past a doorway curtain of beads is the source.

Turning around as if to make sure Magdalena followed him in Ripclaw leans against the glass count, a tap-tap-tap of his claw resounds. Though the mystical barrier holds, strong as can be it doesn't have negative effects upon those within its just a 'magical' sensory deprivation, those things the 'sight' offers, senses, the like they're just not there. They're normal. Blind to the Supernatural.

Vivienne has indeed followed, after waiting a moment to watch Tom wander off on his other business. The expression that holds pride of place on her face, as she watches the possibly priest move off is nothing more of less than complete bafflement. But once he's departed, she turns her mind and her thoughts to the task at hand. No doubt she'll run into him again. Things do, they like to say, come in threes, and she's already saved his life twice.

But for all that she follows silently enough, she never stops looking, seeming, being wary, especially as the dampening field seems to draw on and on. "Does this not bother you? That you are being drawn into a place where you cannot use your gifts to learn the truth of things, but must settle for this…curator's reality?" And perhaps, if they were merely human, they might not notice the field at all. But neither of them, none of those who met, even tangentially tonight, are 'merely human'.

"My gifts that are being dampened here are of lesser degree." Robert replies to Ana, "My weapons are still with me." His hand rises up and he shows off those bladed fingertips, a small smile curving his lips, "The Curator's protections are for the relics within as well, it is a ward that's both in and out, necessary I suppose. Your martial skill weapons alone should suffice if anything were to come forth that is harmful."

"Curator?" He calls out loud, speaking louder again. "CURATOR!" Voice being thrown at that beaded curtain. The man is watching ALF on an incredibly loud older TV.

"I am not concerned with anything that would physically harm me." Vivienne's tone is calm, conversational, despite the line of tension in her shoulders, the way her hand rests lightly on the hilt of one of her swords. She does not, of course, miss an opportunity to either return that small smile, or to study Robert's armaments under more comfortable circumstances. "My concern is to the things which would cloud our minds and keep us from seeing truth." In truth, she had not considered attempting to use her gifts in such a place. It had not occurred to her. She simply survived on the belief that when she needed the power of faith and blood, it would be there. "Is that muppet attempting to eat a cat?"

"Likely you should not be." Robert replies, the lighting in here not great it is enough to give visiibility to the metal-flesh weave of the man's hands, from bicep to his fingertips. It is an odd cable looking 'sinew' wrapped in armored casing.

"Faith and a strong sense of self is the counter to that, right?" A question thats not quite one, the man's smile present as he studies Vivienne, now able to pick out features at least. No preternatural senses to aid in his discening of her.

"Why yes, he always tries." An aged voice says from that room, a bent elderly fellow Asian clearly with a Fu Manchu walks out, a wide smile on his face, teeth yellowing. A long bathrobe is worn over a NY shirt and a pair of knee length shorts, brown bear claw fuzzy flippers on his feet.

"Oh, we found the Spear of Destiny." He says, his dark brown eyes going wide and round, "They call you what now?" He points a crooked finger at Vi.

What lighting there is, does draw the woman's eyes to Robert's cybernetics, her expression holding only curiosity, as though she had not seen such technology before. Or that if she had, certainly not so close. Whatever the world had made of him, it did not seem to elicit anything approaching revulsion. After all…what had the world made of her?

"Yes, it is. But blind faith is the road to fanaticism." Her lips curl into a faint smile, the amusement in her tone reflected more in her eyes than in her lips.

What the light reveals of her is only a woman, dark of hair and eyes, perhaps younger than might have been expected, barely into her twenties, still fresh-faced enough and merry to give the impression that she had only small experience wit the world and its darkness.

Anything else she might have said goes unspoken, as the old man, perhaps the person they seem to have come for, makes his way away from the television. "They call me Vivienne. I am The Magdalena." Because it is not, nor ever was her name. It is simply the function she performs.

"Blind anything especially by choice is a fool's path anyways." Robert agrees with Ana.

When the Curator enters fully hes gone quiet, staring at the aged man then at Magdalena. There is something in his eyes as he watches the elderly fellow move but hes not voicing it. Much like a predator watching prey. Just seeking an opening.

"Vivienne, a beautiful name for a beautiful young warrioress. The Magdalena and she has the spear. You're far from your handlers, the Vatican, why?" The Curator questions, "Was it the pull?" He motions up. "The strange eclipse or the storm? Maybe both."

A look at the wall away from them and Robert's reddish eyes are unfocusing, listening but trying not to stare too long at either, his nose curling a little at the incense within the shop. Studying. Seeking..

"If we continue to agree, Robert. I will begin to think you a kindred spirit." She does not move from where she's settled, as the elderly man looks her over, nor makes any move to close ranks with Robert. She simply awaits for the completion of his appraisal, as thought this were not a unaccustomed situation for her.

"I have always had cause to wonder why they chose to call me by the name of a pagan woman of power. Perhaps it was because she brought light to the dark." The softest sound of humour rises from her throat at the question, "I am never far from my handler, though I do believe he is taking in a show tonight. I am here because the Vatican wished for me to be here. I go where they send me. Perhaps they saw a need."

"You're potentially one of the greatest warriors of our time, with that weapon, you're exactly what we were needing. A marvelous find, a truly divine blessing your presence is, I will have to give you the parchments I have collected, earlier journals of past Magdelanas." The Curator twists his mustache, looking Ana once over again then casting a curious look to Robert.

"Are you well, Ghost Warrior?" He says politely, "You've been quieter than usual."

"I am fine, weary, tonight we only fought one Angelus, yet we know there is a host." Robert is lying but the rest waits later, "She was with another, a man who could turn to a stone creature.A golem."

"Yes, the Rapture. He is who we initially sought, there was no intel of the Magdalena's presence. It is a twice win for us… but where is he."

Robert looks a Vivienne, a light shrug of his broad shoulders, "He got skittish. We will work on him further."

Vivienne seems not to be much phased by the praise. As thought it were only a spoken truth. "I am what I was born to be. Or perhaps better to say, I am what I was taught to be. The weapon I was made to be is the weapon that I have become." Mention of the parchments does seem to pique her interest, "If those are available, I would enjoy reading the stories and the histories of the women who bore the mantle before me."

Whether she agrees with Robert's estimation of the night's events or not, she allows his version of the night to stand, taking in her stride, "I do not know him well enough to be able to guess at his motivations. We have only just met."

"But I think that does not cut to the heart of the matter, which, it seems to me, is finding out who you are, and why you believe some dire fate is coming. And on top of that, why you need those of us who bear the artifacts and what you believe you can do with us."

Robert's incline of head says hes conveying something to Vivienne alone, as if hes not wanting to share too much about Tom or the proceedings. Which, lies to some contrary to his words about this place, to an extent.

"A weapon, sounds familiar." A quiet remark from the Native.

"I am the Curator, I have been around a very long time and witnessed the fall of worlds. Other realities due to your weapon before you and it's collective /family/. It is about to begin anew, as soon as a Codex or Geomancer reveals itself… the time will be upon us."

"I only wish to gather you, so you can stand against those who seek dominion. Ask any questions, Magdalena, I will give you answers. I have many."

Vivienne, noting the tip of Robert's head, seems to take its meaning well enough that she does not offer anything further about Judge or the events of the evening. "I have never heard of someone called the Curator. From where do you come? And whom do you serve? What world do you call your own, if it is not this one? You call yourself a Curator. What is it that you collect? Surely not these simple curios and curiosities."

Vivienne shifts where she stands, her stance widening, as though she were settling in for a long night, "How do you know this destruction is about to begin? And that it is because of these artifacts. It would seem to me, that if they are the cause of the downfall of worlds, bringing them together would be the worst possible scenario. What is this Codex, or this Geomancer. And, I think most important of all…why do you care so much for this world that you woudl wish to save it? What is it that you are getting out of this arrangement?"

"I wouldn't kknow how to explain where I come from but its long ago, far away. This world, a world like this was my own. I am the Curator because I collect the dangerous, the promising and the forgotten. I maintain your history and ensure your future." A large smile from the man, he walks past Vivienne, towards a coffee pot to bring a cup back her way, "I ran out of tea, do you like Folgers?" A smile.

"The destruction has been foretold by the coming of great and vile spirits, the lunar alignment and the arrival of all of you here, in the central nexus point of this world. The Geomancer, the Codex, I thought they were nto born yet but they may very well be… if so… we must find them." A laugh escapes the Curator, "So inquistive, my dear. So much to tell you. I care because… I am who I am."

A wave of one hand towards Robert, "Like him, and you, kindred spirits, men and women of code, honor and a love of life. Please, make yourselves comfortable in my home, I will return shortly, feel free to browse my wares, perhaps you will find something that can aid you or at the very least, inspire."

"You seem to have no small skill with words, so it surprises me that you could not describe your world. But at least tell me why you are here in this world. There are, if the stories are to be believed, thousands upon thousands. And I would be curious as to who gave you this great task of maintaining the history of and the future of a world that is not your own. Even the Holy Church is not so altruistic."

She watches the old man walk over to the coffee pot, and traverse the room, "Thank you, I do enjoy coffee." Whatever other point she might have made, she holds off, as he calls for Robert and herself to make themselves at home. "Of course. And thank you for your welcome. I am sure we'll be fine here."

"Oh I am fumbled with words as any man of my advanced age, I assure you." The Curator smiles, "It was the nearest I could escape to, to start anew, parallel as it were."

"What else am I to do? My world was destroyed this is my new home." A hand reaches over, if she doesn't move a wrinkled old hand will pat her wrist. "More question later, I am tired and must finish my show. Robert will show you our archives."

The stare past a veil of dark hair behind the Curator watching as the man departs from them, "Unique." The Ghost Warrior repeats, remaining in that forward space of the shop, a small couch, chair and round table off to one side, piled in books, sigils, emblems, scrolls, trinkets. She will recognize many of them as Artifacts in symbolism, the spear's scrawlings located there as well. "This is our grand library and study, you can see… we're not exactly built for room but its cozy if you can tolerate." The blaring TV which is now running Jeopardy. Fortunately it is beyond the divide.

The smile that crosses Vivienne's face is warm and engaged, her head turning to watch the old man return to his private room beyond the divide. She walks with comfortable ease around the room, taking in as many of the small details as the lighting will allow, "Oh, tolerating proximity is not a skill I need to practice. I spent all of my childhood in a cloister. If such an upbringing does not cure you of feeling hemmed in my humanity, I don't know what will."

Once they've found a comfortable place in what seems to be the main gathering area of the shop, he coffee is sets down on the closest table that seems suitable for it, before she turns to consider Robert, moving to approach him, coming nearly close enough that she might need little more than to lift her hand to touch him. And if the proximity is intimate, her expression, now turned so that he alone can see her face, is not. It is, rather, curious.

"So has he told you all anything about what this Codex or this geomancer is? These threats, if they are indeed two and not one, that he believes we are bound to face together?"

Vivienne purses her lips, "I am sorry if I seem to be overly critical. I suspect you might say that I, most of all, should know the value of faith. And that faith does not need proof. But his answers are not answers. They are words, cleverly spoken, with little to no evidence behind them."

She maintains the proximity, creating as much privacy for conversation as is possible in the place, "I was born to protect the Church, to protect the world, and if needs be to be the Sacrifice, as my ancestor once was, as nearly every Magdalena before me has been. But how do we know that this is not some fool's errand? Some plot within a plot?"

Robert's attention doesn't shift from the backroom until Vivienne is within that personal space barrier, within 'elbow' room and close enough he can smell her over the inscense, musty odors and dust of the ancient shop.

A tip of his head, slightly towards her as if this affords them more privacy, his ruddy-red eyes appearing dull at this point, not glowing as they had been outside, when adrenaline was flowing through them all.

"No, he is giving words for our ears and lies to our hearts. My friend Lara has been telling me as much, I wanted to believe otherwise but as he speaks to you, his story rings the same as he told us, the cadence of his voice, his moments, practiced. A sales pitch."

"I am convinced now, I hardly know you but your perception already… it's reaffirmed Lara's words. I'm sorry if I have mislead you to this point, I was still hopeful but I'm beginning to see also…. "

A study of her features, his own unmoving, "I believe, I feel I must stay the course, the enemy you know. Perhaps… there is more to it. This is where were supposed to be. I believe as much. Our unity, our.. coven we have been forming, it is not the will of the Curator, its something more." One man of Faith to a woman of like.

Thankfully, Vivienne does not also smell like incense. That would just be a bit too on the nose for a holy warrior, wouldn't it? It's more something floral and very french, perfectly attuned to her own human scent, set against a backdrop of the blood that still darkens her skin. "Yes. That is it exactly. All of the bearers, so far, that I have seen, are tasked with protecting the world, with preserving the good. So seek to do good. He is playing off of that, I think, leading us down a road he wants to direct. I do not doubt that something is coming. You yourself say that you have seen evidence of that in your dreamwalking. My concern is that…he is trying to craft a truth from the truth that feeds whatever his agenda is."

A nod of her head, as she listens, taking in his comments about Lara's objections, "I do think that we need to, if nothing else, remain close enough to maintain contact with him, to know or learn what he is trying to do. But I think we also need to do what we can to discover what we can about these things he is dangling in front of us like carrots."

"I will reach out to the Library and see what our scholars there can tell me."

"We are in agreement then. None of you, bearers, need ever come here alone. I think it would be unwise, hes harmless from that which I have see but." A frown again, deeper than last time. "Preparations have to be made, I'm unsure what my part is in all of this aside from he is using me to track, I do think he has a true method of finding the others, its time we start misleading information."

Robert speaks lower, his nose curling at the scents around them, including the blood on her person, not entirely human.

"I will find us a new gathering point, somewhere we can collaborate with one another and try to sort this without his intrusion." The Native is speaking low, quietly, hushed tones and fortunately that television is loud. Though, Ripclaw has the sense the man is no longer even present.

"From what you can see, yes. But what can you see, in this guarded place, Dreamwalker? What can you see of his true intentions?" The question being mostly rhetorical, and not at all intended to question his veracity, "Only what he wants you, what he wants all of us to see. I have no ability to read the minds of others, but even the voice of the Spear which has, at times, given me knowledge of future events, is nearly silenced here."Vivienne allows her eyes to fall from Robert's face, seeming to be inclined to put the proximity to good use by studying his cybernetics. There is nothing leering in it. It's not a woman studying a freakshow, only a woman studying something new."He knew who I was and what I bore instantly. Unless he's secretly Superman in disguise and has X-ray vision." Because why? Because everyone knows Superman, well enough to use him as analogy, even convert girls.

Vivienne considers, as though she were weighing her own resources, "I have only a small place of my own, and I think…the one who came with us would not be comfortable there. But I do think that we need to begin to build rust between each other. And also, to discern which of the bearers he feels are 'unfit'. That might give us some clues as to what he is needing us for."A beat, "Should we remain until he returns? Or would we be better served waiting elsewhere for his call?"

Robert doesn't appear to mind the nearness, even when she is openly studying his cybernetics, not with revulsion or morbid obvious. A hand rises up, the blades on it retract and fingertips length out, slithering to sharp points, allowing her to gaze at the cords, flesh like metallic mesh stretched over, armored plating of bone, it's offered over towards her casually while he converses.

"Very little, my senses are more than baseline human's but the other senses I rely on for things such this this are impossible as long as he never leaves here. I feel to know who or what he is, we must remove him from this place…. "

"I know of a place, I believe we can make use of it but I must make sure beforehand. It had occupants last I knew… "

"If we leave we'll raise his suspision. One of us must stay at least, no bearer, remember. If you intend to go, I'll cover for you but… we have to maintain normalcy, whatever that is." A quick grin, sharp canines showing momentarily.

A momentary glance upward, a silent request for permission, before Vivienne reaches out to allow her fingertips to trace the lines of his implants. She called herself a weapon earlier, and the curator called her a warrior. And so, perhaps that is at the heart of her curiosity, a warrior appreciating a well-crafted weapon. Even if it is one that has been made from a human base. "Yes, I believe that you are right. Whatever this magic is that prevents your sight, that darkens the spear, it is, I think, to protect him from us. To set us off balance and perhaps to make us more malleable. 'You are worried and uncertain…let me reassure you.'

When he retracts his blades, allowing them to reform into nearly human hands, her own two hands take one of his, turning it palm up, to allow her to study the mechanism, as she transitions from blades, to fingers, to claws. "No, I had not planned to leave. Only, this persona of his is quite…absentminded, and I did not know how long he would be. If we must stay, then perhaps you can show me some of the more interesting books or other works you've encountered."

There was no nod for permission Robert simply allows th contact, her delicate yet combat calloused fingers tracing neatly over cybernetic 'veins' workings and synthetic copy of real flesh, his mutant talents never would have been as deadly as they are with the 'improvements' a weapon developed in a horrendous fashion.

"Likely, a two fold defense, hes been at this for some time. It makes me wonder if we are perhaps not the first like us to cycle through… " A flex of his jaw, his eyes ascend to watch Vi's features as she engrosses herself with his weaponized hands, the slide of her fingers through blades, causes them to move, one after another, letting her explore the length of them as she pleases. "Sharp enough to pierce just about anything, careful."

"I'll show them, most we have made sure to copy through our phones, there is a stack to the left of the couch, the wrapped tombs are the eldest, some of the languages we cannot speak. Maybe you'll have more luck."

"This must have been horrific for you." Whether he chose it or not, and she has no answer to that, how could it not have been, to have your flesh remade into something not quite human. Even being a mutant would not be the same as this. "I do not believe that we are. I do believe him when he says he has seen what the artifacts can do before. Perhaps he moves from world to world, looking for the one that will give him what he wants."

There's an ever present, avid curiosity, as she studies the work done, turning his hand this way and that, as though she could discover the 'how' of it just by looking. His comment though, that brings a merry sound, as she lifts one of her hands, holding up one of her palms to him, the skin there threaded with a countless number of lines, thin as spiderwebs, all that remain of the many times she's drawn her own blood, "Oh, that's alright, I have the cure for that." She at least, seems able to find humour in herself.

"Come, let us look." She releases his hand, her touch gentle, as are her words, "Thank you for sharing yourself with me." And then, she turns that boundless curiosity to the books he mentions, "Come, show me. Let me see them. I speak half a dozen, but only Latin and Greek are ancient ones. But the Vatican Library could, most likely translate anything we can send them."

—-

(A few hours later)

The Curator's presence as Robert stated has been minimal, the laughter of him coming and going from that back room watching various sitcoms or television shows from decades ago often loud, tells of his presence.

The manuscripts, tomes, books and news articles scattering the table are impressive a listing, they tell of someone obsessed with the artifacts and absolutely devoted to hunting them through the centuries.

Ripclaw reclines back, his claws rise up to scrape between the bridge of his nose, "I am finished reading for now. Have you learned anything new or different from what you already knew?"

"The next options are ventures to Metropolis either via the Ethereal or we drive there. We know there is something there, something dark. Lara and I have already begun scouting it."

Vivienne, for her part, seems only too happy to read. She hasn't quite curled up with a good book, or scroll, but then, that seemed more a result of still being, mostly, fully armed, having only set aside her swords; the spear still, presumably, still at her back. The coat she hasn't discarded either, though she's found a way to use it as a sort of makeshift blanket. It's an odd mix of a woman accustomed to being in the traces, and having to make due with what she had available.

Her eyes rise from the journal she's reading, giving the man seated not far from her a moment of consideration, "Actually, yes. Much of the history of the Magdalenas is not given to us who must follow in their footsteps. We hear tales of their martyrdom, but rarely of their lives and the battles the fought before their ends came. And even that small amount that they would have revealed, would have been done much later. or rather, would have been given to me to know when I was of age…but I became the Magdalena long before that, and was already in service when I came of age.

Whatever else she might have shared, she allows to be set by the wayside as she listens, "I have not yet been to Metropolis. I think I would enjoy going there the long way around, if only to have the experience of seeing more of the country between here and there."

"The Curator mentioned everything is out of sync here from what he knows. The timeline is not acting in accordance, those who would be together or opposed are not, the bearers are differing. This place to him I think scares him." Roberts voice lowers and he leans forward, elbows resting on his knees.

"The man is meticulous in his findings, this out here, what we see is largely junk. There are vaults below, great artifacts of potent magic. I even invited the Sorcerer Supreme here and he was blocked out, unable to divine far in to the man's shield. This I think is worth our attentions… we have to find out whats so different here from where he has been before."

"If he is as old as he claims, then he may have shown up in your own history, the Magdalena's… which you'll have to tell me about some day. I enjoy a good story."

Seeing Robert mean forward, Vivienne unfolds herself from the seat she had taken opposite, moving to one just to the right of the native american man, her own voice lowering as she settled into her new seat. "Out of sync does not necessarily mean wrong. It could simply be different. Not better or worse. But it does lend one to wonder if he wishes to make this world as it was on his world. He would certainly not be the first to attempt to remake the world in his image."

The mention of the Sorcerer Supreme causes her lips to press together, "I do not know this Sorcerer Supreme, but the fact that these shields block all…it makes no sense. If the purpose is to protect the artifacts, one can mask the true nature and power of an object. Someone of skill could contain the shield to a small region. There is no reason to have this blanket field over everything, unless you are trying to hide something."

"So, yes, I agree. It is imperative that we find a way either through his shields, to to someone who knows who he was and what he was about in his own world. We do not even know if his world was destroyed, as he claims. he could have been cast out."

A thoughtful moment, as she fields the request, "I would be glad to tell you what I know, though I think Josef knows more of the history of the women who came before me than I do."

"For him I imagine it feels wrong if its true that he is a uh… Breacher." That is the word he's heard used in the past, Robert gives a curious look at Vivienne, "If that's what he wishes he'll have his work cut out for him. As I said, he seems uncertain at times, sporadic and even fearful or confused. At first I assumed its his age, eccentric, but the more Lara has pointed things out and with your instincts coupled, I am not so sure what to buy there anymore. "

"I guess we find out."

"I'll introduce you. He is the most powerful mage this side of the world to my knowledge."

"Exactly. Below, the passages under this place there it does not extend, he has a Dragon Pool, an open connect to the nexus ways underneath New York."

"Josef?" He asks, hefting up a small book, flipping it open to scrawl his fingertip down it, etching in to thicker paper. Easier than holding a pen.

That word, Breacher, that receives a shake of her head, "I do not know that word, though I imagine it means someone who has been forced from one world into another. And that may be. I suspect if I found myself in some reality that was not mine, I would also be disoriented." A long pause, a catch of he lower lip between her teeth, "No, I do not think he is eccentric or feeble-minded. I think, he is sharp, and quick, but seeks to try to curry our favour and have us see him as harmless. After all, how many of us would not seek to aid the old or infirmed? He is certainly perceptive enough to sense an artifact he cannot see, and to maintain wards powerful enough to block out anyone he does not wish to have view what he is doing here."

The thought of being introduced to the Sorcerer Supreme seems to brighten Vivienne's countenance quite nicely, "That would be fantastic. I feel…as though there is so much of this world I have not yet seen. And perhaps this nexus. It might be useful, if we could guarantee safe passage."

A quirk of a smile, at the name, "Josef is my…I suppose you could call him my handler. When I first became the Magdalena, I was barely fifteen. I was not old enough, mature enough, trained enough, in truth, to bear the mantle. But there was no one else. So I was appointed a cadre of Swiss Guard to watch over and protect me, and to complete my training. Josef is the only one who remains, now. He has rarely left my side, in the seven years between then and now."

"I see." Robert says as if accepting the explanation of who Josef is. "What exactly is the purpose of a Magdalena?" Curious now, the etching hes created is shoved away. A look back towards the beaded away and divided room he ventures to speak further about the Curator as well.

"I feel we're all on the same foot there, I may have to speak to Sara further in this also and Judge we'll be prepared enough to keep him a distance. Not sure how much the Curator can use against us but if we can find his origins I think that will unravel a lot of what we are to expect."

A stretch of both long legs in front of him and the man's posture on the couch changes, enough he's lengthened and looks either about to sleep or stand up.

"Where to start is unlikely here. He wouldn't let us see such things."

"How much do you know about what the Magdalena is?" It seems as though that needs to be answered first, before Vivienne can go on to answer the rest of the question posed to her.

"Very little. Women of the Catholic church, nuns who are trained as bodyguards and warriors on behalf of bishops and cardinals. No longer used but there's been rumor they still act when supernatural creatures are present. I have a tribesman who claims his uncle worked alongside one once… "

"That you may all be the carriers of the Spear of Destiny but that's also a possible throw off for the sake of what happened with the Vatican and Hitler during World War II."

"I know more of the Darkness and that's… saying something to what lengths your people have kept you under wraps."

Vivienne actually looks rather amused, at the description, "I suppose there are nuggets of truth in those stories. The Magdalena are named in honour of Mary the Magdalene, who was the wife of The Christ. A secret, as you can imagine, that the Church has worked hard to preserve. After his death, she bore him a child, a daughter, who inherited the divine power in his blood. Each generation, one of us who bear the blood is called to serve as the Magdalena, though the time between callings has been greatly reduced. There are more than one, of course, and the Church has taken to training as many of us as they can find, as Magdalenas do not tend to be long-lived. I have been in service for seven years which is…quite long for the Magdalenas of recent memory."

"We are trained as warriors, trained to fight the threats natural and supernatural that endanger the Church. You could say we serve as the sword and shield of the faith. We use the power granted to us by our blood, and by the spear to fight evil in the world. We are not all nuns though and certainly were not, in the years when the Magdalena was expected to bear the daughter who would replace her. I was too young to be considered for the novitiate, and am too old now and already in service."

The mention of Hitler actually brings a wider smile, to Vivienne's expression, settled as she is in the chair beside Robert. "Her name was Victoria. The Magdalena who faced Hitler, who showed him the Light, reclaimed the Spear and lead him to his downfall. And the Spear is the traditional weapon of the Magdalena, though it has been lost and reclaimed numerous times over the years."

"Far more than I had expected of it. No offense. If anything this is just showing off my ignorance and those who have tried to educate… " A consideration is given to the sprawl of books, parchments and work stretched across that table. His cowboy boot tip lifts up and taps the table leg, shoving it out.

"Lets get out of here, I feel like we have been indoors long enough to throw any of his suspicions at you off." Robert drags his cell phone out of his front pocket, tapping a clawtip against it, carefully applying pad of thumb to swipe a message off to the Curator, something about breakfast and them needing a break. They'll try again on the Rapture also.

Pushing upright to a full stand he picks up that smaller book, the wrapped journal hes been scribbling near invisible marks with his bladed tips into. The thicker parchment of it allowing as such.

"So the spear, the artifact is truly the one that pierced Chri… your Jesus?" An offhanded question, that curious showing again.

One could charitably imagine Tom Judge was — in the intervening time since he so precipitously departed from passing that threshold — off doing some good in the world. Maybe off battling a demon or even saving a cat, something. But it would be a wholly incorrect assumption. Instead, the bearer of the Rapture sees out St. Paddy's day not with the death of an Angel on his hands, but at the bottom of a bottle.

The problem with the bottom of the bottle is one is forced to crawl out of it eventually, especially when the strains of first light begin to impinge on the celebrations, driving even the most hardy of party-goers to their beds.

It could be said that it's coincidence that his stumbling path back to his dingy flat in Brooklyn by necessity takes him near — past — that door leading to the Curio shop. Maybe it is, in some sense, but maybe it's the man's better nature — perhaps even the Rapture's influence — that leads his steps here, unwilling. For some moments he stands outside on the sidewalk, staring at it as if in some mute challenge.

But he does not step inside.

"The Church holds many secrets. For good and for ill. I have been, blessed, you could say, with a clear vision of the CHurch, with all of its faults and fallacies. But my calling is to serve God, and the Church is not God, though they often do his works."

As Robert indicates the time for their departure, Vivienne unfolds herself from the chair, taking a moment to orient herself, before she reclaims her swords, adjusting the fall of her jacket to once again mask her weaponry.

"In this incarnation, yes. But it is a thing that…has lived many lives before this one, if there stories are to be believed."

Robert manages to be polite enough to hold open the door for Vivienne before they're on the streets of New York, the sun still barricaded off beyond a sheltering wall of skyscrapers, light only filtering through in gaps. The smog aiding in keeping it comfortable dark.

"I… can track him unless you know where to find him. A phone call might be an easy option too." Oddly enough he is looking outwards, at the street then down, his nose curling up before staring the direction they'd come from last night after that interesting Pub Crawl, then east, the way Tom has passed and is heading.

"Though, we may be in luck. Do you know if the man lives in Chinatown?" Which would be here and very near.

"Thank you." Having allowed Robert to make their excuses to the Curator, she seems only too happy to escape the incense-laden confines of the room they were relegated to. A turn of her body allows her full view of the curio shop, committing it to memory, much as she once did another business with home attached, "He does not live in Chinatown." She offers no more specifics, though there is no duplicity in the words, only an acknowledgement that that knowledge might not be hers to share.

And again, that sense of being watched, but now, of a more familiar sort, as she turns to face the street, "But I think we will not need to track him very far." A tip of her chin, a quirk of humour in her lips, as she indicates the shadowed lower end of the block, where a rumpled and familiar figure is standing. About five stores down, in front of what might or might not be a massage parlour. Well, one supposes curios come in all sorts.

Whatever internal debate is going on in Tom's head, it's won. With a shift of shoulders and an exhale of breath, he turns, very deliberately, away from the door. His steps are not fast, but his natural stride is long enough to begin to carry him away. Tension eases away from his shoulders the further he gets from the door.

Which would probably be dramatic as all get out, if he'd been having his existential crises in front of the right door. In fairness, a door under a red light looks like any other door under a red light, and he was drunk at the time. Still is, as it happens — just out the other side, mostly.

He bends his head, lights a cigarette, gets out an exhale — and rocks to a halt when he sees her, and him. A variety of expressions cross his features, primarily wariness and suspicion.

It should be noted, too, he doesn't appear to have that sword he took from the Angel.

"My pleasure." Robert says quietly, hands tucking in to his jacket once they're outside, "No, it doesn't appear w—-" A blink and he is following her indication, perplexed first at the smile but then he sees why, a half grin appearing.

"It appears he got over his misgivings… " A sniff, "Liquid courage to attest, maybe." He murmurs and lets the warrioress lead them towards the befuddled ex-Priest. His grin only growing as he gets closer, catching a better look at Tom.

"Good morning."

Though she may now be leading the way, Vivienne makes no attempt to approach to what might be considered a familiar distance with the possibly not priest. Too well, she's seen his response to her, and perhaps, after a long night on now sleep, she doesn't have the desire to run that particular gauntlet so early in the morning. She does not, however, block Robert's access to him, though her voice is low, subdued, "I am glad to see that you made it through the night in one piece."

"Is it?" Tom's grunt is accompanied by a dig into his jacket pocket to pull out sunglasses and put them on, even if the sun hasn't managed to wind its way through the skyscrapers to their level at the pavement yet.

"You missed out on a fine end to St Paddy's Day. Not a single thing tried to kill me." It's significant enough to note, it seems, as he exhales smoke, gaze flickering between the two — not bothering to hide his wariness. "You two have fun confabbing with the Curator and all? Off to save the world now?"

"It could be." The man says, "Depending on if we want to make it that way and go get something decent to eat." Roberts fingers flex inside the jacket pockets, studying Tom, the distance being given still is likewise mirrored, hes seen that Brimstone transformation with his own eyes after all.

"We're of a similar thought track now at least. Do you want to walk with us? The Curator is indisposed and it might be best if we have another huddle before we actually do have you meet him. Considering… " A glance seeking Vivienne's own eyes before leveling out on Tom again.

"Waffles?"

"Saving the world may or may not be in the cards. That remains to be investigated. But at the least we have some information and some theories which we should probably share with you, before you make any decisions one way or the other. At any rate, I do not think that meeting with the curator now would be in your best interests. However, if it makes you more comfortable, I will leave it to Robert to fill you in."

"Belgian." That, in answer to the question posed her, though she seems more inclined to wait for Tom's answer, before she joins either man.

Something briefly furrows Tom's brows — somewhere right about 'similar thought track' — it makes him half-snort an exhale of smoky breath. His brows quirk up at that unfinished sentence, though. Hard not to be curious.

"I could devour some waffles," he concedes. What better way to end a long, terrible night?

Although he glances towards the Magdalena, he doesn't seem to demonstrate any desire to meet said Curator — and, indeed, he's already moving to fall into step with them. Saving the world requires some backing off and likely lots of heavy drinking. Waffles is a no-brainer.

The walk now involves the three of them through sunlight breaking streets down towards a corner diner, out of the Chinatown streets, across it actually immediately to that promise of coffee and food of any sort, the door nudged with an elbow. Robert doesn't talk in this short walk, only making so far as to allow the hostess to seat them in the booths by the window to the west, furthest from the upcoming light almost like hes trying to avoid it.

Seating himself he slides in, hands remaining below the tabletop as he situations glove on to them, it's easier to just avoid questions and stares most days. Pale skin, his size and the eyes if looked at closely enough usually enough of an issue as is.

Vivienne too, settles into silence as they walk, her demeanour, for the first time since the beginning of the night seeming something close to withdrawn, as though she had found something inside of herself to focus on, her body moving to fall into step with her two companions seemingly on autopilot. She does come out of herself, somewhat, as they step into the diner, and she slides into the booth besides Robert, angling herself so that she might, at least in part, block him from the view of the other patrons. She doesn't have his bulk, of course, but she's tall, for a woman, and tall enough to hide at least most of him. "Coffee all around?"

Tom's pace now set at more of an amble than anything purposeful, he seems more than happy to smoke in silence as they move throughout the shadowy streets, squinting and wincing away whenever sunlight splashes over them. He might even be grateful for Robert's choice of booth, though it doesn't do much more than flash across his expression briefly before disappearing under wary guise as he slouches into the seat opposite the pair, lips twisting a bit as he does. Slouching, one elbow settling on the table and head half dropping onto the palm of his hand, his thumbs up seems to serve as agreement to Magdalena's suggestion. "And keep it coming."

Using hair as a veil and Vivienne's height to obscure him from the room just that added extra, Robert is unaware of it was intentional on her part or not but goes with it. Appreciative none the less.

"Coffee, yeah, life's blood these mornings." A squint of his eyes from their female companion to Tom, "I'm glad you returned. We were going to hunt you down if not but this is much more convenient, peaceful even and I think we could all do for that." As if catching his words he quickly corrects, "I don't mean actually hunt, as I said last time, this, all of this… it's free willing and in our best interests." Theirs more-so than his, he is not a bearer, he's a Tilly as Tom put it last time. Explanation still required on that front.

"Three coffees, leave the pot, please," is Vivienne's polite entreaty to the waitress, as the woman wanders by to set down three glasses of water. Menus are already in a holder that doubles as a place to store ketchup and some thing that looks like hot peppers in a liquid which might be vinegar. The waitress actually looks rather sympathetically to the two men, which, well, it was St. Patrick's Day…Robert's attempts to hide from the sun, and Tom's rough look, well, they actually help them blend in a bit.

Once the waitress has moved off, Vivienne returns her attention to the table. "The long and short of it…I do not trust the Curator's intentions. But I believe that something dangerous is coming, and we need to know what it is, regardless of whether we work for him or not."

Speaking of the waitress, she gets a once-over and a brilliant sort of smile from Tom, who perks up at least for a short while. He doesn't even bother to look at the menu: "Give me a short stack to start with."

There's a slight stiffening of the ex-priest's posture, enough to suggest that the self-correction over the intent of their 'hunt' is probably well-timed. "The only interest I'm game for right now is coffee and waffles. But since that's coming," he makes a flippant gesture of his fingers, as if to say, 'go on'.

He frowns briefly while Vivienne talks. "Something dangerous? And you know this because… the guy you don't trust told you? Told you both, presumably?" His phone beeps once, then twice while he speaks, and he grimaces down at it. A long message from Tilly, one that ends with: 'The numbers don't lie.' It makes him huff out a breath, but he seems cautiously more willing to entertain the idea, at least. "All right. So, we find out whatever this thing is, kill it, and everything's good, right?"

"There is more to it than that. The Curator is not wrong in his entire message, there is prophecy and story that predates his… my meeting with him. I mean, maybe he planted this but its worth looking in to and considering." Robert's eyes downcast to the tabletop, a fingertip sliding free, sharp nail tapping, idly.

"I was not misleading you in our mission, our ultimate goal, he didn't have to tell us a thing. The suspicion was there already, my companions if you noticed parted ways, they've had their misgivings. Further confirmed by Ana." He motions with a slight tip up of his jaw.

"I'm responsible for confusion inside of this but it was necessary."

"I do not know. But I believe there is truth in the things that Robert has seen, and in the things the Curator has told us. I simply do not think that what the Curator has told us is the whole truth." She holds up a hand, as the waitress returns, and she places her own order for Belgian waffles, with fresh fruit and whipped cream, allowing Robert time to order as well, if it suits his fancy. Once the woman has once again moved off, Vivienne returns to the conversation, "The Curator claims, that some world-ending event is coming, but cannot or will not reveal precisely what it is. He talks of something or someone called a Codex or a Geomancer, but will not state what those are or what their purpose it. Whatever it is, that he claims is coming, or will come to pass, he needs all of the artifacts, and he wants us to assist him. I do not trust that his agenda is in our best interests, or perhaps in the best interests of the world. He is too secretive, his sales pitch is too slick. It's a contrived story."

"All right. Well, how about you lay it on us straight then? Correct the record, as it were?" Tom's slouches again now the pretty waitress is gone, chin thumping into the palm of his hand probably the only thing keeping his head propped up. He looks particularly uncomfortable with the mention of 'prophecy', but in a way that definitely suggests he's not surprised by the existence of such a thing.

Perhaps mercifully, the coffee arrives, and Tom's quick to be the first to reach for the sugar, dumping in way more than is healthy before taking a big gulp from his coffee. He even forgets to smile at the waitress this time, looking somewhat relieved as he slouches and listens to Vivienne. "He needs all the artifacts, huh? Great story. Obvious question though — why do we need him?"

"For the most part it has been straight." Robert says, "What Ana is saying is the run down of it, she met the man, it was during him telling her the story, all of it again that his facade cracked, I seen what Lara has been seeing."

A muffin and coffee is all he appears to be interested in, ordering as much then carrying on, speaking a notch lower, not that he has a particularly loud voice, its deep and more rasping than carrying.

"End of days is still the threat, the involvement of a Codex and Geomancer are yet more mysteries. Our task at this point is to find the man's origins, carry on the mission hes laid out and see if we can't find out what is truly going on. We don't know you, you don't know us, but you're in immediate danger, as is the Magdalena and Sara Pezzini, the detective. Together… with myself and Lara we have better odds of staying safe."

"While… we sift through this damned mess and find the true north."

Vivienne takes her coffee light, with just a hint of sugar. Just enough to cut the bitterness of the coffee, as she seems to reserve the sweets for the fruit and cream on her waffles. "We need him, but I think not in the way he wants us to need him. He is trying to feed us enough information to catch our interest, but not so much that we can do without him. He's directing us, or trying to…but to what end, I do not know. And we must find out. He means to use us to some end only he can see. That is what we need to discover and circumvent."

Tom gives a grunt. "I look after myself plenty fine." Except for all those times when he doesn't — when he's a mere mortal who can be hurt just the same as anyone else — as evidenced just as amply by the bloodshot nature of his gaze as he lifts sunglasses to the top of his head. "So what's the play, then? We all live together like some big dysfunctional family until we find out what this Codex thing is?"

"If you choose not to involve yourself, Tom, that is your choice, and I, for my part, will respect it." Vivienne speaks quietly, calmly, between bites of her breakfast, "I would, if that is your choice, however, only advise caution. He means to have the artifacts, and we have no idea what power he has to attain them. And no, I don't think that we should live together, bit I do think that we should try to work together, to pool our resources to try to get to the bottom of this."

"That was just one Angelus." Robert warns Tom, "There are others, we are legion. It's a thing." A wry smile, he looks at Ana, then back, "The idea of it, we pretend to follow along with the Curator, listen to his stories, go where he points and do our best to have each other's backs, then the rest… I guess we have a lot of footwork and research ahead of us. Things have been fairly laid out so far, we've been drawn together or prodded by the Curator, fate even… the rest of this is under the surface. Not as easy."

" A flex of his hand and hes reclining back, knees pushing up under the table as he stays below the darker band along the windows outside.

"Some trust in each other is going to be required."

"In case you hadn't noticed when you saw my place — I'm not exactly brimming with resources," Tom observes rather dryly to Vivienne, as he dives into his food. The revelation that the Angelus are legion is enough to make him stop and stare at Robert for a moment, swallowing and grimacing — but it doesn't seem to affect his hunger, at least, resuming soon enough.

"As long as one of you is footing the bill for breakfast, I'm willing to keep listening. Trust, though," he gives a slight shift of his shoulders that might be a shrug. "Given what you two have said of the Curator, I'm happy to keep my distance from him, personally."

"Then perhaps it is not money that you will contribute. You are an investigator. Is that not what we are proposing to do here? I am also not flush with funds, but live off of a stipend. It is generous enough for one person, but I could not support an entire team. But I have access to the Vatican Library and I know a few researchers I could reach out to." Vivienne does not even bother to address the topic of trust. Why speak to a lost cause? "If we must meet with him, it should never be alone, as Robert suggested. It would be too easy for him to attempt to overpower one of us alone."

"We'll make due with what we have."

Robert says with some optimism, surprisingly. Maybe its the sleep deprivation or he is that convicted in this.

"I'll pay this time around."

"I know people, ones that owe me favors and have access to … lore keepers of my own." A quirk of his lips again, "As well as the Sanctum should the Doctor allow me and us, which is another of our options should we find ourselves requiring it." Not that he wants to step that direction just yet. This is to be kept close to chest, for now.

"Right and we do not know his capabilities. We know only hes got an incredible amount of knowledge, mystical artifacts of his own and has displayed talents in th arts."

"That is generous of you, Robert, thank you." That, to his offer to pay for breakfast. Vivienne takes the time to replenish each of the coffee cups, before she returns to her meal and to the conversation, "That is the main reason to keep him close. Not because we trust him, or we wish to work with him, but because we do not trust him, and we do not yet know what he is capable of."

"You two," Tom flickers fingers towards the others, "Keep him as close as you like." It's clear where he sides on the whole 'keep your enemies close' spectrum. He's finished his stack, and he's catching the eye of that pretty waitress with a smile and a gesture for a replacement.

"So. Where do we start? Presumably with what this Codex thing is — I doubt my poking around in PI databases will turn up anything — so I guess you're up first," is said to Vivienne with another flicker of fingers towards her this time.

"Goes around comes around." Robert replies about the coffee a nod given Ana. "We, yeah." He agrees with Tom, "You want to steer clear, we'll give a reason or simply say you have no desire to meet him. Though, we're not wanting to arouse his suspicions, he travels from there somehow, some way he knows whats going on outside."

"Good question, I've got ideas but nothing solid. The Geomancer and the Codex, these are the keys were' are after."

You aren't carrying anything.

You have 5441 no-prizes.

"Yes, I can see what the library's researchers can come up with. It's not unheard of for the Church to track the use of magic and those related to magic, though it does not make use of them itself. At least, not to my knowledge." She considers both men, before she begins again, this time with only her coffee, "What concerns me, is the Angelus. It was, it seemed to me, targeting Tom specifically. We need to discover why that is, and, if needs be, neutralize it."

The waitress earns a smile from Tom that is both thankful — presumably for the additional food she brings — and a shake flirtatious. The latter doesn't stay long as the ex-priest tucks into the food, though he's visibly slowing down now. His phone beeps again and he glances at the message, briefly.

"Everything's connected. Don't have to step a foot outside to know what's going on. Actually — that's probably where I should start — with the Curator. Should be easy enough. That shop is his or associated with him in some way — it's something."

The latter comment from Vivienne earns a flat smile. "Suppose it's the same reason demons try to kill me." He lifts the object dangling from the chain around his neck, the double-barreled cross that shines with some sort of power.

"Yes, that's obvious. It clearly wanted that artifact. But the question remains, 'Why?' It wasn't interested in the Spear, it wasn't interested in Officer Pezzini's. Why your artifact in particular?" Vivienne takes a moment, a breath stilling her words, as she glances up through the window. Rather than scanning the exterior, her gaze is arrested by the sight of a man, not terribly tall, but built as one might expect of a man with military training. Blonde-haired, blue eyed, dressed in dark clothes and a coat not dissimilar to hers, though cut for his more masculine figure. And staring in through the window at her. It's barely a moment, before she reaches into a pocket, withdrawing a small wallet and pulling out enough to cover the tip, tucking it beneath the edge of her cup, as well as two printed cards, each with only a number on one side and a rose on the other, done in almost a tudor style. "I'm sorry, I need to go. You can always reach me at that number." She glances to Robert, with a smile; Tom, a more serious expression, "I do hope that third time will not pay for all." And then she's slipping out, quickly crossing the street, falling into step with the man who was, indeed, waiting for her.

OOC Note:

See http://cmbeta.wikidot.com/log:7179 (Face Value) for the final scene.

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