At the Edge of All Things
Raw Log - Elithora Sidequest 1
<jake2099>: desc, before we kick off, I was curious – does Eli have a day job, or is mysteriumming her full-time gig?
<desc>: that was always a bit vague in my mind. she’s a Savant for the mysterium but I was never really settled on whether that was her main gig. I guess I presume so — if she had sleeper world employment it seems like it would be academic in nature. An adjunct professor or somesuch.
<jake2099>: That makes sense! What in? Linguistics?
<desc>: It would probably be some kind of high level comparative visual culture thing moreso than strict linguistics. elithora’s whole schtick is visual codes — alchemy manuals, heralrdry, and so on.
<jake2099>: Ok! How does this sound – she’s a visiting professor at the University of British Columbia
<jake2099>: the UBC is a Mysterium stronghold and when she came to Vancouver they generously supplied her with a sinecure job
<jake2099>: would that fit, do you think?
<desc>: That works. Let’s roll with it.
<jake2099>: You’re in your office on a weekday afternoon. It’s not huge – kind of an administrative cubbyhole – but it’s in a quiet corner of the building and you don’t have to share it with anyone. What’s it look like?
<desc>: It has a smallish desk with a dinged-up older Macbook set in front of the seat. Pens are strewn everywhere but all of them are capped. There are two cold war-era metal filing cabinets passed down from who-knows-how many professors filled with manilla folders. Her desk has a small collection of thumb drives filled with backups of student work.
<desc>: there are 8×10 sheets of paper tacked to the walls to make “posters” of curious chimeric animals, printed section-by-section as Elithora lacks any cool bigger art printers and has a basic laserjet instead.
<jake2099>: (oh man I used to make ghetto posters that way)
<jake2099>: There’s a soft knock at the door.
<desc>: Elithora stops spacing out and tries to assume the posture of someone who was totally just working a moment ago. “Come in.”
<jake2099>: A trim, pale, but athletic-looking young man, maybe mid-twenties, with long blond hair and watery blue eyes, steps in, gingerly closing the door behind him. He looks side to side conspiratorially. “Elithora?” He says it “ell-eethor-a” in a lilting Scandavian accent.
<desc>: Elithora blinks, but replies with flat voice. “Yes.”
<jake2099>: You’ve seen this guy before at Mysterium gatherings, though you haven’t been introduced – you think he might be a student on campus. He smiles shyly and sits, offering you a disproportionately enormous, bony hand. “Hello! We have not had the pleasure, I think. My name is Huygens.”
<desc>: Elithora shakes and smiles and smile which offers little. “The pleasure is entirely mine. To what do I owe the visit?”
<ell>: (good ol huygens)
<jake2099>: He unslings a messenger bag and fumbles around in it for a second. “Sterling, he ask me to bring you….where is it….” He pulls out an empty Red Bull can, looks at it quizzically, and sets it aside. “Ah. Here it is.” He produces a thumb drive. “He said Minerva mentioned to you travelling for a job?”
<desc>: Elithora’s smile warms a few degrees. “Of course. Excellent.”
<jake2099>: He passes the thumb drive over the desk. “I took notes….” He looks at his phone. "There is a man in Seattle called Kerwin. K, e, r, w, i, n. He is an expert in pre…pre-Colombian Atlantean dialects. The thumb drive has a high-resolution scan of runes that were found in rural British Columbia.
<desc>: Elithora plugs it in and waits a moment for the laptop to recognize. She nods absently to Huygens clicks the touchpad a few times to open up the folder. “Kerwin, huh?”
<jake2099>: “Minerva would like you to travel to Seattle, meet Kerwin, and get him to agree to take a look at these runes. Sterling told me to tell you that he has a reputation as a prickly character, very private. It is hoped that you can charm your way into his good graces, yes?”
<jake2099>: The document seems to be what he said it was – these are very high-resolution photographs of runes or pictograms that seem to be carved into some kind of tablet or rock."
<jake2099>: er no quotes there
<desc>: Elithora takes the liberty of backing up the images locally and then unplugs the drive and drops it in her purse. She gives Huygens a three-social-dot smile. “Good graces are my specialty, Huygens.”
<jake2099>: He blushes. “I…so I have heard!” He kind of stares back for a second before something seems to click. “…Oh, ja! Almost forgot. Do you have a way to get to Seattle? Passport? Ferry ticket?”
<desc>: “A passport shan’t be a problem, my dear.”
<jake2099>: He stands. “Very good! The last we have hearing, Kerwin works at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific Experience. But that is a few years old information, yeah?”
<desc>: “It’s a start! I’m sure he can be tracked down. Thanks for the helpful info, Huygens.”
<desc>: (badass: )
<jake2099>: He bustles out of your office, all smiles and gangly limbs.
<jake2099>: How are you playing this?
<jake2099>: are you heading out asap, taking a ferry or driving, etc etc
<jake2099>: I leave these decisions entirely in your hands.
<desc>: I could probably just drive out. Googlemaps seems to think this is a perfectly reasonable drive. Google our Kerwin first, see anything hopeful, and call the museum to see if he’s still current. I have the academic bona fides to sound plausible to them, I think.
<thomamelas>: (World cartwheel record!)
<jake2099>: (oh, butts, phone, 1 sec)
<jake2099>: Ok, back!
<jake2099>: Ok, for googling Kerwin, gimme a Wits or Int + Academics roll
<desc>: int+ academics:
<critical>: desc, 6d10h8: 2 [6d10h8=4,1,4,9,9,6]
<jake2099>: Bam! Okay, you consult Mysterium sources on this guy. He’s an anthropologist by trade, working under the name Frederick Graham, although that’s certainly a fake name – his real one has probably been long occulted into obscurity.
<jake2099>: He studies links between North American natives and proto-Asian cultures and also is apparently an independently wealthy art collector and cultural benefactor – he’s on the highest-tier pledge level for all the public TV stations and NPR radio and so forth in Seattle.
<jake2099>: Married twice, divorced twice. Looks a bit like Warhol in the 80s – a middle-aged guy with a seamed face and bushy head of white hair.
<desc>: This is promising. Let’s give Wing Luke a jingle. Ringing their main line.
<jake2099>: “Wing Luke museum, this is Donna, how may I direct your call?”
<desc>: “Hi Donna, Catherine Millet. Could I speak with Mr. Graham, please?”
<jake2099>: “Um, I can try….One moment….” You get a few seconds of Muzak. “Miz Millet? I’m sorry, but Mr. Graham isn’t in right now.”
<desc>: “Oh, that’s a bother. I was hoping to get in touch on a few quick questions requiring his historical expertise. What’s the best way to get in touch with him?”
<jake2099>: There’s a long pause, and her voice goes soft. “Honestly? I’ve never seen him. Ever. His office is locked all the time. I think he works remotely or something.”
<ell>: (gogo overlay crash)
<desc>: Elithora chuckles breezily. “One of those work from homes types, I imagine. Do you suppose I could leave him a message?”
<jake2099>: “Uh, yeah, sure!” She seems happy to be able to do something. “What’s the message?”
desc>: Elithora pinches her phone to her ear with her shoulder while fishing through her purse for her car keys. “If you could tell him that Dr. Millet is in Seattle and she’d like to get an expert’s opinion on some trans-pacific precolonial imagery that’s …”
<desc>: Her hand brushes the thumbdrive she dropped in before finally finding her keys. “Ah, tell him the imagery is simply magical.”
<jake2099>: “Hah, that’s funny.”
<jake2099>: “You’re the second person today to tell him you have something ‘magical.’ Is that a buzzword now?”
<desc>: Elithora forces another light laugh as she locks her office door and jogs down toward her car. “It must be something in the air. Thank you, Donna!”
<jake2099>: Fast forward two and a half hours….
<desc>: Elithora zooms her way there. “Magical” isn’t subtle, but you don’t go fishing with subtle worms.
<jake2099>: You get through customs without a hitch, and hit northern Seattle around sunset. Your phone has not rung. Of course, there’s no guarantee he even got the message, and the museum will have closed by now. What’ the enxt step?
<jake2099>: Getting out of work tomorrow is easy enough, so you can get a room and wait till business hours tomorrow if you want, or you can pursue any other avenues that occur to you…
<desc>: What a jerk. He might call. Or he might be somewhere with one foot in another plane of awareness. Hope springs eternal.
<desc>: Elithora starts to look up hotels on her phone, then goes back to a google search for “Frederick Graham Kerwin.” She traces a series of vague patterns over her screen and wonders out loud, “Will he even call tonight?”
<desc>: simple Divination
<critical>: desc, 4d10h8: 0 [4d10h8=6,5,2,3]
<desc>: the future sux
<desc>: Elithora waits expectantly for a moment, and then tabs back to the Sheraton’s yelp review and stabs their number to make a reservation for the night while trying to come up with Plan B.
<jake2099>: They upgrade her suite for free thanks to a clerical mixup.
<desc>: Cut to Elithora lying on a hotel bed, legs dangling, shoes on the floor nearby, both arms aloft with cellphone held above her face dumbly. “Why don’t mages just have fucking business cards.”
<jake2099>: ( )
<desc>: She rolls over and goes back to the browser rather than bothering to dig her laptop out. Who else is looking for this jerk, anyway? In any other line of work, a prior “magical” call would be a coincidence.
<desc>: Mages have pissed off reality too many times to be the beneficiaries of coincidences.
<jake2099>: (too true)
<jake2099>: (we see that in action with critical every day )
<jake2099>: If you want to try another divination, or any other sort of research-y thing, you can always do it as an extended action, with each roll representing an hour or so of work
<desc>: She could go to the museum and snoop, but frankly no one would likely notice someone Fate-visioning inside the guest shop anyway if she went tomorrow. He gives out money to dopey stations but hoping there would probably trigger some kind of credit card phishing alarm.
<desc>: (I need to learn that Flight of Birds one dot Fate rote. Hmm. in the meantime …)
<desc>: Elithora searches for his name again, dragging the text across her screen with a slow finger. She starts whispering words on the screen to herself and reading with half-focused eyes, waiting for something to stick Exquisite Corpse style.
<desc>: (just a dumb Sibyl’s sight attempt … maybe he has some sort of fate string tied to something that will be tied to something that will be tied etc.)
<critical>: desc, 4d10h8: 2 [4d10h8=9,8,4,2]
<jake2099>: oh excellent
<desc>: fortune pities the hapless, or somethinh
<jake2099>: There is a thread of fate leading out of the hotel room. A strong one.
<jake2099>: But it’s leaving through the window.
<desc>: Elithora asks out loud to no one, “Who am I, Jet Li?”
<desc>: She stuffs her phone into her pocket and pulls her shoes back on (sensible if not athletic shoes if it becomes pertinent).
<desc>: She then puts some cash, her ATM card, and her hotel door card into a pocket with her keys.
<desc>: She applies chapstick for good luck before dropping it back in her purse and leaves the purse as she heads to the window, opens it, and looks around to follow the thread.
<jake2099>: The room is directly over a largish patio awning about ten feet below. The thread, which is thrumming now, does curlicues and loop-de-loops underneath the window, then seems to go either back inside or down to the patio (somewhat painfully, possibly).
<jake2099>: As you look, you hear the lock of your room click.
<desc>: Elithora looks at her door with alarm and eases herself out the window. She vows that if anyone asks, she’ll just claim to be drunk.
<desc>: dex+athletics … not a specialty
<critical>: desc, 3d10h8: 0 [3d10h8=5,2,1]
<jake2099>: oh hahahaha
<jake2099>: it’s ok!
<jake2099>: As you lower yourself out, the door opens and a maid comes in, followed by a man in a flannel shirt and stocking cap. He’s on the phone but puts his hand over the receiver. “Turn around. You can go now. Thank you for helping me into my room.” She bows stiffly and leaves.
<desc>: Elithora scowls. What the fuck? Why couldn’t I have been a sleeper and married a dumb but chiseled professional swimmer?
<desc>: She stays out of sight and glances between the ground and the window. What to do what to do.
<jake2099>: The venetian blinds rustle a bit with the breeze but keep you mostly out of sight. The man looks around. “Uh, this is the place, right?” A pause. “Well, this lady isn’t here. Her stuff is…” he steps over and paws through the stuff you left behind. “She’s probably out at dinner or something.”
<desc>: Elithora tries to remain as motionless as possible while seething at having her stuff manhandled. Going through peoples’ things is what she does as a Mysterium Mage. Not the other way around.
<jake2099>: A bit of sound comes through the other end of the phone. “Come on. If she were a Seer, there’d be another guy, a bodyguard or something…I’d probably have been shot.”
<thomamelas>: (See, you should always a guy with a gun.)
<desc>: Elithora briefly wonders why Mysterium mages don’t get cool bodyguards or armored cars or trick briefcases but forces herself to listen instead.
<jake2099>: “Anyone ever tell you you’re paranoid? Yeah? Well, they’re right.” A pause. “Yeah yeah, I’ll take a look.” The man turns off the phone, sets it on the bed, then stops moving and breathes deeply. There’s a smell like the ozone after a rain, then he chuckles once, softly.
<jake2099>: “Jesus. Hey, lady, you can come in.” He raises his hands in the air and wiggles them. “I got nothing up my sleeve.”
<desc>: Elithora says, “Fuck,” out loud because she’s not a ninja and peers over the windowsill, 85% dedicated to just jumping down and running for it.
<jake2099>: He tilts his head to see through the angle of the blinds. “Come on in, lady. Seattle Sentinels. Who the heck are you?”
<desc>: Elithora tries to climb in all smooth and badass but it’s not actually the most elegant maneuver. “Elithora. Mysterium Savant. Assistant Savant. Who the fuck are you and why are you, uh, trespassing! Trespassing in the room.”
<jake2099>: He looks you up and down with a wry grin, although his eyes are wary. “Name’s Fresh. I’m with the Arrow. Uhhh…sorry about going through your stuff.” He lowers his arms. “Why are you trying to get in touch with Kerwin?”
<desc>: Elithora tries to get in touch with her inner poker player and then decides deceit would be too much work right now. “I just need some translation work done. The time period isn’t in my purview so it would be easier to get him to do it. Why did you call him before me? What do you need him for?”
<jake2099>: Gimme a Presence plus Persuasion roll.
<critical>: desc, 5d10h8: 1 [5d10h8=1,[10,4],4,7,4]
<thomamelas>: (Critical likes 4.)
<jake2099>: (hahah dang. if we had 40again he’d be all set)
<jake2099>: er 4-again
<desc>: critical likes 4s because critical is a square
<jake2099>: Fresh frowns. “…Me? Nah, that wasn’t me. That’s what we’re trying to figure out. We thought it was you.”
<desc>: Damnit, that seemed like a plausible power play to throw him off and get all his secrets. Someone else is fishing then.
<jake2099>: He turns around frustratedly. You catch a glimpse of a .38 in a shoulder holster under his baggy flannel. “God damn it! Another dead end.”
<desc>: "Any idea where he is? He seems to be pursuing the ever-popular mage move of hermitage. If anything, his reputation implies that he is more curmudgeonly than the default.
<jake2099>: “You can say that again. Guy’s kind of a goon. But today I guess he’s got a right to be – see, he’s had two mages asking after him today, you and someone else. That’s normal for him, people wanna check in with the guy. But last night he got an omen. There’s a ninety percent chance that he’s gonna die by violence in the next 24 hours.”
<jake2099>: (and that’s where we’ll leave it!)
<desc>: dun dun DUNN
<desc>: dis bish: logged. I will forsake my usual procrastination and type-inate it up on the web thingy.
<jake2099>: rad rad ok
<jake2099>: so the seattle consilium thinks you might be a nefarious assassin
<jake2099>: is a social faux pas
<desc>: fuck yeah
<desc>: like black widow and shit
<desc>: ending motherfuckers
<desc>: (not really)
<jake2099>: all doing chair fu
<jake2099>: and clingy leather garment fu
<desc>: “I tell her nothing!”
<desc>: YOU ALREADY TOLD ME EVERYTHING
<thomamelas>: Oh, I thought you were talking about the movie with Rebecca DeMorney….
<thomamelas>: Look, all I’m saying is Eli might like to go to Hawaii.
<desc>: oh hi
<jake2099>: desc, your description of eli’s office and her flopping onto the hotel bed with shoes off and lazy cell phone internet browsing were some good stuff
<jake2099>: I think I am getting more of a handle on her
<desc>: well, likewise actually. she is becoming more focused in my brain.
<desc>: someday I will just play a character who kicks a ton of ass
<thomamelas>: She’s struck me as the social academic. The one who gets trotted out for fundraising and department chairships.
<desc>: (I have literally never played a character who is deadly. the closest i’ve come is rogue slapstick.)
<desc>: I think some of what I wanted to do with loom is coming out in her a bit because I saw him as being a charmer first and his powers coming second.
<jake2099>: right, yeah, thom. that’s definitely the vibe i’m getting too
<desc>: jake and I were musing over her a bit. I played up her academic thing a bit too much first because I didn’t want her to bleed over into the “snapping abyssal necks” territory that is already covered.
<desc>: but when you go hard bookworm it kind of implies a lack of competence or can-do-ness beyond a certain point. my original germ of an idea for her was the mop of hair and something more aggressively oWoD Verbena but I can never sell badassery to myself.
<desc>: something always guides me to play up the character’s fallibility
<jake2099>: it’s interesting because her abilities are definitely very like
<jake2099>: not as much in the moment?
<jake2099>: like it’s less about turning invisible at a key instant and more related to peering into tea leaves or staring at a map hoping for inspiration
<jake2099>: those kind of quiet moments
<thomamelas>: More of a big picture kind of magic.
<jake2099>: right, exactly