The Magic Sword

May 18, 2018:

Ne breaks into Tom's apartment to steal a magic sword, but gets a job offer instead.

Tom's Apartment, Brooklyn NY

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

A week or so ago, Neon heard some weird rumor going around about some guy carrying a magic sword. Of course, what made it magic never actually got clarified, and it took a bit more time to actually locate the source of the rumor and get a location. Said location isn't particularly impressive, and certainly not the kind of place one would think to store some sort of magic item, if true: it's a strip of shops in Brooklyn, the shop in specific worn-looking and kind of grotty. It has a hand-written sign indicating it as 'Judge Inc', the blinds drawn tightly this time of night.

There doesn't seem to be much security — the lock is an old one, and might only pose any difficulty for its stiffness and age than any particular challenge.

*

Night was…inconvenient for Ne, or rather it was limiting. Less light to work with for some of her tricks, but fortunately the city itself tended to give the alternative ones the streetlamps come on. It was enough to draw her close. Was the item really magic? Hell if she knows, but the girl with the pink and brown hair in her 'icecream' palette of colors was fairly sure she could fence it regardless. Assuming it wasn't some pawnshop knockoff wasting her time…

Well, she didn't have much in the way of plans tonight anyway. Girl's gotta eat.

The lock? It's age only slows her down for seconds before it clicks open and she sets it aside with a shrug. Not exactly the most high-tech thing she'd ever seen.

*

The room beyond is clearly used as an office space, though certainly not the cleanest, nor the neatest. There's a desk with coffee cup and some papers on it, and photos of a man and woman apparently having lunch together — notes about dates and times on the back of said photos. A filing cabinet with other notes — not anywhere near as organized as one might expect for someone who even owns a filing cabinet. There's not much else going on in the room, and certainly no sight of any such magical sword.

A gloom-shrouded staircase leads upstairs, however. The boards are visibly worn, undoubtedly prone to 'creaking'.

*

A silent sigh comes from the girl's lips as she moves closer to the desk. Ne wasn't really one for TV, but she could guess enough to decide this was likely the office of some sort of private detective, if only for the photographs alone. One in that vocation didn't tend to have an excess of funds, which ment whatever she was going to find here? It was probably limited. Most clients probably didn't pay by cash…if there were any at all given the state of disrepair.

Creaking boards were a problem, but the girl wasn't exactly heavy with her small stature and practiced light-footedness. She'd take it slow, climb slow, and see what she might find above.

*

The staircase flexes under her weight, but Ne's careful approach prevents all but the softest of creaks as she progresses up.

Upstairs looks a little more lived in, even if just as gloomy looking — it's a living room shared with a kitchen area, pretty sparse of furnishings with only a sofa, coffee table and TV taking up most of the space. A door left ajar leads through to the bedroom and presumably the bathroom. The table is covered in junk — empty bottles, pill bottles with maybe a handful containing rattling of contents in them — empty takeaway containers.

The sofa… it's occupied. A tall, thin looking man lies half sprawled along it, long legs hanging off the edge, fast asleep. He's wearing pants and an unbuttoned shirt, an interesting looking silver object hangs from a chain around his neck — it looks almost like a double-barrelled cross of some sort. Whatever it is, it looks old — antique, definitely. Worth money to someone? Undoubtedly.

As for the sword that she came looking for — a quick scan of the area will reveal a glint of a hilt sticking out from under the couch like it was dropped and kicked carelessly underneath as a means of hiding it.

*

There's a wrinkling of Ne's nose at the sight as much as the smell. She'd lived on the street, but this was the sort of almost-squallor she was trying to avoid ending up in. The seemingly sleeping man? He earns a look before she glances around. Sole occupant? Good. That made things a little easier. Of course, she couldn't cloak herself with an illusion to draw nearer. The change in temperature that occured as a side-effect was too much of a risk to wake an almost-shirtless sleeping man.

Silent frustration comes to Ne's lips before she steps closer, closer still. She'd worry about the sword first, then consider if the cross was worth taking. It was pretty enough, perhaps she'd keep it for a time?

*

Other than the occasional click and hum from the fridge in the kitchen and the man's even breathing, the apartment remains relatively quiet. There doesn't seem to be anyone else here.

The man doesn't stir as she draws closer. Nearer, it's apparent the silver cross has some intricate markings, though not in any apparently readable language. It gives off a sense of power to those sensitive to magic.

*

Magic however, didn't register on Ne's senses. She was a mutant, not a mystic. Instead, the girl slowly bends, stooping while keeping her eyes up at the sleeping figure and then reaching her gloved fingers out to claim the hilt of the sword sticking out from under the couch, drawing it slowly towards her. Big thing first, it was what she'd came here for.

*

She successfully draws the sword towards her. It, like the cross, looks plain at first glance, but old — the hilt plain enough to make it particularly uninspiring. There are some markings on the flat of the blade, unintelligible at a glance.

It seems like a normal sword. But then, she's not a mystic…

*

Old was good! Old tended to mean it was likely to be more legitimate. With no sheathe to cover it however, she'd have to be careful with the weapon. Transfering it to her left hand she makes to turn, pausing for a moment in thought before she shrugs and leans closer, close enough one might actual smell the almost candy-like scent of her while she inspects the fastening on the cross.

*

The cross is pretty firmly attached to the chain — two solid bars that hook around the silver chain rather than just a simple, slender eye like most modern jewelry. A deft hand could certainly unfasten the chain, though — the catch of which is within reach, though a steadying hand would be needed to stop the cross slipping free and thudding onto the ground.

*

For anyone else, her next move might seem strange, but Ne was nothing if not creative and dexterous. Ever so slowly she shifts her weight, balancing herself on one foot and extending one leg out sideways. The sword? It's set to lean against the now outstretched limb rather than fall against the floor while she bends slowly towards the fastening and the necklace. She'd undone more intricate fastenings in the blink of an eye, but this one? She'd have to be careful not to move it too much and shift the weight enough to wake the man.

*

Her care seems to pay off at first. The man remains none-the-wiser as her small fingers work the fastening loose. The chain starts to slip free form the man's neck… and then two things happen near-simultaneously — it suddenly looks like the walls are melting along with a rush of heat that comes from nowhere — and the man's hand snatches out to try and grab at Ne's wrist. Tom isn't by any means supernaturally fast, so the latter is probably easy to avoid.

*

Heat isn't really something that bothers Ne, extremes in temperature are sort of a null with her abilities. Hallucinating the walls melting however? That's a little more unsettling. The man's waking grasp has her startled, his grip seizing her wrist while she's left still holding the necklace. Ordinarily? She'd be so much faster. This time? She was simply too startled to react as her stance falters and her leg drops, causing the sword to clatter to the ground.

*

Tom blinks blankly, staring at Ne. Or more accurately, her multi-colored hair, with the foggy confusion of the just-recently-awoken. It's clear he hasn't the faintest idea what he just woken into. He swings his legs to the floor, sitting up, fingers still around her wrist. Now that he's caught her, he has a certain strength to him — usual, undoubtedly, for a man so thin and visibly un-muscled.

Meanwhile, the edges of the room appear to be turning black — decaying if she looks at them — like the whole place is aging around them.

Tom opens his mouth, frowns — then his expression darkens when he realizes he can't feel the usual weight pulling at his neck. "No," he says sharply, reaching for the necklace with his other hand.

*

Ne wasn't exactly a scientist, but one didn't need to be a genius to work out cause and effect. The necklace? It's dropped from her hand like a stone and she yanks her arm back. He -was- strong, that much was plain to see, moreso than he should be to the point that first yank goes nowhere before reflexes kick in and she twists her wrist to 'push' the gap between thumb and fingers, slipping her arm free. Startled but silent, the young woman's mismatched eyes are wide with confusion and perhaps a hint of fear.

*

The second she releases the necklace, Tom releases her — clear in what's most important to him. There's something harsh in his breath as his fingers close around the cross, lifting it, exhaling.

Her guess is certainly correct — the second she releases the necklace, the visions — or whatever they were — cease. The walls are dim, but merely the natural gloom of the man's apartment dim, not something far more horrifying and clearly supernatural.

Only belatedly does Tom's attention turn back towards Ne. "You shouldn't have done that," he says, reproachfully. Which, all things considered, is a pretty odd response on catching some stranger that's broken into his apartment and trying to steal his things. "I just hope they weren't paying attention," he adds.

*

There's a movement of her foot, a 'flick' that sends the sword upwards into the woman's grip before she holds it out between her and the man, more a warning to stay back than an actual threat. There wasn't much that could rattle the usually 'sweet' visage of the thief, but a glimpse at some hellish otherworld was clearly within the bounds.

*

After a moment of fiddling with the clasp to ensure it's secure, Tom lifts the necklace over his head, settling the heavy silver cross swinging against his chest. A hand lifts to tug through bed-hair — or in this case couch-hair, as he regards the young-looking girl across from him — and the sword, his sword — that she holds up.

Another moment, and he exhales, long and low. "Yeah, it sucks. I puked my guts out the first time — but then I was in it longer. You want something to drink?" he moves, carefully and deliberately, towards the fridge, half keeping an eye on his 'guest'.

*

Huh. Unexpected. There's a frown on her lips and the sword remains in her hand, but she lowers it just a little. She wasn't going to attack him, but she was certainly suprised he wasn't attacking her. Or calling for the cops…or pretty much anything else most would do in this situation. There's a tilt of her head and an eeries swirl of color in her gaze as her mismatched eyes seem to glow faintly the same color for a moment, then return to one white and one that same neon pink.

A moment passes, then she points towards the necklace in unspoken question: what the hell was that?

*

Tom sniffs the air for a moment, brow furrowing. "Do you smell candy?" he asks, then snorts with self-amusement: "Maybe I'm having a heart attack." Which doesn't stop him getting beers out of the fridge, at least. He twists the neck off the first, then offers it to Ne, kind of side-eyeing that sword as he does so. "You probably don't want to take that. I expect its owner — well, shall we say a sibling of its owner — intends to track it down sooner or later. You don't want to be the one left holding the potato, so to speak."

Which doesn't explain why he keeps it under his couch, but whatever. He cracks the other beer, a brow lifting as she points at his necklace. "Ahh, yeah," he half grimaces. "It's a story. Just… yeah. Let's just say it's a place we'll all end up in one way or another one day. But I'm gonna fight like hell," here his lips twist, like he's telling some bad joke only he comprehends, "Against it, personally."

*

Ordinarily? She'd probably wave it off and sell the thing on. But what can one say? She was spooked. Instead there's a silent expression of frustration before she drops the sword, likely impaling it in the floorboard before dropping herself to sit on the arm of the couch. The offered beer is taken, looked at and then set aside lightly next to her. She was not usually one for beer after all, but she'd accepted it out of habbit. His words however, have her frowning and tilting her head. It was sounding awfully like the words from a figure from her past, and those weren't the happiest of memories.

*

Taking a deep draught from his beer, Tom moves over to the couch, leans to sweep some of the rubbish off — bottles go rolling across the floor — to make space for her beer on before he sprawls onto the couch proper. That's not to say he's not watching Ne, though, glancing sidelong to where she's perched on the arm. He doesn't seem particularly upset about the sword spearing the floorboards — which is probably not surprising given the state of the apartment. "Not very chatty, are you?" He asks, and then adds, "Someone specific paying you, or do you usually go into shitholes in Brooklyn looking for," he taps his necklace, expression wry, "Ancient artifacts best left forgotten?"

*

A shake of her head, she continues frowning for the moment. She was considering. Considering fleeing, considering why on earth she was still here. She hadn't been cloaked by an illusion, so he'd seen her real appearence, which could always get rather inconvenient if it was reported to the police, but he also hadn't taken it -too- poorly to find her here. A finger comes up to her lips, tapping them lightly before she makes a waving gesture with her hand. It was more charades rather than true sign language, but it was pretty clear in meaning. She didn't speak.

His second question? It earns a shrug from the woman who smelt (and partially looked) like sweets before she raises the same hand and rubs her fingers together in an equally clear sign of an answer. Money.

*

He doesn't seem that surprised — either by the response indicating that she doesn't speak, or by the indication of money. In fact, the tall, thin man chuckles a little, after he's taken another gulp from his bottle. "Figures," he says, with a grimace at odds with the amusement of seconds before. "Still… you seem quite talented getting into places and taking things that aren't yours. That's a talent I could use now and then, if you're up for a little side work?" He tilts his head while he propositions her with potential work.

*

That…was unexpected, but the multi-colored girl tilts her head to the other side now, blinking twice. She'd come to steal valuables, not get herself a job offer. Still, a profit was a profit. One takes what they can get to survive. Shrugging her shoulders, the woman looks at him questioningly. That same gesture of fingers was repeated: was there money in it?

*

"I don't imagine you'd work for beers," Tom observes wryly, glancing at her untouched bottle. "We can negotiate rates. It won't be steady work," he warns, "But… something now and then, yeah?" It doesn't seem like charity — at least, it doesn't have that feel about it.

*

Her hand lowers and the woman nods, gesturing with that same hand as before. Only this time? A glowing light is left in her wake, floating like some sort of neon hologram as the digit traces a cursive hand. There was no sense hiding that she was something a little more than human, not when the man had clearly seen more than 'normal' in his life, but it might well be suprising. Soon enough, the glowing lights form a series of digits, likely her phone number. How did a mute even use a phone?

*

Certainly, it's fair to say Tom Judge has seen some shit. He's got that look about him — haunted and resigned both. But a glowing light that stays in the air? That's certainly… new. His mouth is open for a beat before he catches himself. "Huh," he says. "You must be a hit at kid's parties." He leans forward, digging amongst the detritus on the table, searching for his own phone. After a moment of tapping at the screen, he dials her number, then hangs up — the lazy way to share his own number. "Maybe you can text me your name, or at this rate I'll end up calling you Rainbow."

*

The phone doesn't seem to ring, which suggests that either Neon didn't have it with her, or she had it on silent so an eerant ring wouldn't completely ruin any thieving. A roll of her eyes comes at his joke name for her and she swipes her hand across the floating text, the digits changing and merging to spell the word 'Neon' for a few seconds before the 'on' winks out to leave the last remaining letters. They themselves slowly fade as the girl pushes herself off the couch and makes for the door.

She -did- need a drink, or some something process what she'd seen tonight, but for now? She just needed to be as far from that necklace as physically possible.

*

"Neon," Tom echoes, with a nod. Leaning forward to set his beer on the table next to her untouched one and tossing his phone down, he shifts to stretch out on the couch, feet hanging off the edge again as a yawn splits his face. "Try not to steal anything that looks ancient on your way out, eh? It's usually more trouble than it's worth." Apparently he assumes Ne can find her way out — since she found her way in.

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