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» Urban Arcana Part II: Chapter 1
dingo
 Posted: Mar 20 2011, 12:38 AM
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7:30 am: It’s a cold, overcast Monday morning in Manhattan, everyone returning to the daily grind. In the East Village, dozens of Shadowborn can be found opening up their businesses.

Tobin steps off the M8 and makes his way past the Gleaming Breastplate Tavern (formerly known as the Yawning Wyrm Inn, recently remodeled and renamed after a fiasco involving an actual yawning wyrm) and up the stairs to the offices of Pearson & Grey Paranormal Investigations. The scent of fresh coffee fills his sizeable nostrils. Christy, P&G’s half-Elf secretary, cheerfully waves her greeting to him, already taking calls. Poring over case files in their suite are Jacob Atwater and Alex Kuznetsof, apparently having come in an hours or so early. Seated at the desk next to Tobin's is Mavet, a female Tiefling magic expert, brought in six months ago to fill in the gap left by Edgar Worth's disappearance. Mavet tends to know her stuff quite well, though Tobin sometimes finds her apparent self-assurance somewhat demoralizing.

Meanwhile, Durgunikk Gripegut unhooks the massive keychain from the belt loop of his perfectly-pressed grey slacks, unlocking the first of many locks to enter "Rubicon Antiquities & Purchasing," the shop which he runs. As he goes through the routine to simply get in the door, he notices that the wards are not set, which means that Ilikk Engnaitus, owner of Rubicon and Durg's employer, is already inside, not a usual thing on a Monday morning. Once he finally enters, he hears Ilikk up in his office... talking? (again, somewhat unusual as Ilikk generally keeps to himself)

Outside Manhattan, in the rather messy spare bedroom of a house in Brooklyn, Argos Casablancas awakes, still wearing the same suit and shoes which he has worn for his whole life. Last night, Pablo, the Satyr with whom Argos is staying, gave him some hot cereal for supper, which Argos ate in his room. The bowl and spoon which he used are no longer there. At least Pablo won't have to scrape the starch off them anymore.


This post has been edited by dingo: Mar 20 2011, 01:02 AM
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Mar 20 2011, 01:59 AM
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Durg gives Ilikk his privacy, going instead about his morning activities of turning on the lights, heat, checking the stock and generally giving everything a good dusting as is needed. He counts the float and checks the safe, double checking the lock on the door, before turning the plastic sign in the window from Sorry, We Are Closed to Come on in, We Are Open.

Then he settles on top of his tall stool, checks his pocket watch against the wall clock, and pulls out the mornings newspaper. He wonders idly who Ilikk would be seeing so early in the morning. He keeps his jacket and scarf on until the old heater has time to catch up.
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Greg
 Posted: Mar 20 2011, 11:00 AM
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As he enters the room, Tobin greets his fellow investigators with a friendly "morning everyone.", as he makes his way to his desk, which is somewhat cluttered with random papers and nicknacks that he has aquired over the past couple months. Before sitting down, he looks around to see what everyone else is working on. "So." He asks, "What we working on today?"

This post has been edited by Greg: Mar 20 2011, 11:01 AM
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 Posted: Mar 20 2011, 11:51 AM
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Argos straightens himself up slightly and enters the main room of the apartment. He asks Pablo for cereal; Pablo gives him cereal. He raises a spoonful to his lips. His eye twitches involuntarily. Across the street a father of three falls down the fire escape. He swallows and looks down at the cereal in his hands. Pablo gives him cereal. He swallows and looks down at the cereal in his hands. He cannot swallow. There are children at the top of the fire escape. The cereal shifts uneasily in the bowl. Pablo gives him cereal. Argos looks at his face, Pablo is pleading with him. The children are crying now. He raises a spoonful to his lips, tears stream down his face. Pablo gives him cereal. Argos is own his knees. He pleads with Pablo to go across the street. Pablo hears only children's laughter. Pablo gives him cereal. Argos is screaming as he falls down the fire escape. Pablo is the child. Argos cannot see anything. Argos takes a spoonful of cereal. The concrete rushes up to meet him.

Argos awakes with a start. His eye twitches involuntarily. Pablo gives him cereal. As Argos kills him, he does not make a sound. Pablo gives him cereal. Argos' attempt to reciprocate is cut brutally short as his body experiences a sudden lack of electrons. Across a variety of hidden dimensions Pablo is dismayed. Fizban hands Argos an apple, but it slips through his fingers. Pablo is reborn as a human. Argos disapprove.

A crack echoes through the universe in defiance of conventional physics as cosmological background noise shifts from randomness to a perfect B Flat. Children everywhere stop what they are doing and hum along in perfect pitch with the background radiation. Birds fall from the sky as the sun engulfs the earth. Argos hesitates momentarily before allowing himself to assume the locus of all knowledge. Entropy crumbles as he peruses the information contained within the universe. A small library in Chicago ceases to exist. Argos stumbles under the weight of everythingness, his mouth opens up to cry out, and collapses around his body before blinking you out of the spatial plane. He exist only within the fourth dimension. The fountainhead of all knowledge rolls along the ground and collides with a small dog. Pablo's head tastes sideways as spacetime is reestablished, Argos blinks back into the corporeal world disoriented, only for Pablo to hand him a bowl of cereal as Argos' body collapses under the strain of reconstitution. The universe has reasserted itself. A particular small dog is fed steak for the rest of its natural life. Argos dies in a freak accident moments later, and his soul works at the returns desk for the Chicago library. Fizban disapproves. His disapproval sends ripples through the inter-dimensional void between life and death.

Outside Manhattan, in the rather messy spare bedroom of a house in Brooklyn, Argos Casablancas awakes, still wearing the same suit and shoes which he has worn for his whole life. Last night, Pablo, the Satyr with whom Argos is staying, gave him some hot cereal for supper, which Argos ate in his room. The bowl and spoon which he used are no longer there. At least Pablo won't have to scrape the starch off them anymore. Argos straightens up slightly himself and enters the main room of the apartment. Finding a pen and paper he writes
"Pablo, many thanks for the use of your second bedroom you have been a most courteous host but I most now depart. I estimate I will be available for contact through my New York contacts for another three months." He then heads out into the hall.

As Jake takes a sip of his rye and coffee he glances at the clock; surprised that it's already 7:30.

Note: Dream sequence adapted from Cuil theory.
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dingo
 Posted: Mar 20 2011, 04:55 PM
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"Hi... Tobin..." Mavet says with faint disdain as she pivots her chair halfway towards Tobin, still staring at the file in her hands. After about a minute, she closes the folder and tosses it onto Tobin's desk. "Have a look. Reg wants you on this one. I'll just go get some coffee." She stands up and walks past Tobin, her horns missing his face by inches. Mavet is only about 5'7", but the horns add another four inches and form a nearly equilateral triangle with her chin.

The folder is old, creased a hundred different ways, and smelling of damp. Apparently, it's from the archives, created during the first years of the company, when it was just Reg and Absalom. Most of the pages are typewritten letters and reports, but included are several 11x17" clear vellum pages with line drawings and text, probably traced from some book. On one of these, he notices some writing in the Drowish tongue. Though he can't read most of it, he does recognize a recurring use of the word for "empty" or "void."

Alex glances at Jacob's mug, and his eyes narrow slightly.
"I suppose I'll be driving today...?" Just as he finishes his sentence, Reg pokes hi head into the room to say, "Hey guys, meeting in my office, five minutes."

Pablo has already left for work, but as he makes his way through the kitchen towards the door, Argos passes Pablo's girlfriend, MC, smoking a cigarette in the breakfast nook. MC is a mundy, and has been seeing Pablo for nearly a month now. She looks up and smiles when she sees Argos. "Goooood morning..." she says as she shifts out of her slouch and leans over the back of the seat, following him with her gaze as he walks by. "Heading out already?" Argos' impression of MC is one of unsettling... friendliness. According to Pablo, she was the nurse who handed him his blood test results. The test came out negative, and "things just sort of evolved from there."

Durg's perusal of the paper is interrupted when the phone starts to ring.
[How quickly does he answer it?]

This post has been edited by dingo: Mar 20 2011, 04:57 PM
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Mar 21 2011, 09:46 PM
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Durg puts down the paper and answers the phone, wishing that Ilikk would upgrade from the old rotary to something with caller ID. "Rubicon Antiquities & Purchasing, how may I be of assistance?"
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Greg
 Posted: Mar 21 2011, 11:30 PM
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"Yep, see you there."
Tobin rummages through the line drawings to see if he can get a better idea as to what his case is about. He largely suspects that Mavet's disdain towards him is due to his having more brawn than brains, and if he were to make some sense of what's going on without it being explained to him he might be able to gain some respect from her. [What cases have P&G been working on within the past week that might explain why Jake and Alex are here early?]
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dingo
 Posted: Mar 22 2011, 04:55 PM
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Durg hears a distinguished male voice on the other end, possibly a colleague of Ilikk's. "Hello, I'd like to speak with Ilikk, please. It's quite urgent."

Though he can't quite place it, Durg is certain he's heard this voice before, and he feels himself shudder a little bit.

----

Tobin finds that the general idea of the case is a monster profile. A very large monster, humanoid, about three storeys tall, with inky-black flesh and the ability to assume liquid form. Its actual nature is only guessed at in the file, extrapolated from antiquated Drowish texts. It tends to engulf its victims in itself, somehow drawing power from "eating" living things this way.

Pearson and Grey were brought in by the U.S. military to help discover a way to defeat this monster. Theoretically, the best way to do this was through the use of divine magic, but since the gods do not exist in this world, they went with arcana magic. They gathered all the wizards, sorcerors, and alchemists to participate in a joint ritual which weakened the monster to physical attacks. The military then proceeded to fire the thing into oblivion, ending the threat and closing the case.

Tobin also sees a note taped to the inside of the folder which reads, "See also #'s 205, 496, 752."

Jake and Alex have a number of assignments on their plates, but they are constantly keeping an eye on the Zombie Jugular Slashers, a Goblinoid criminal organization with considerable manpower which first came to New York over a year ago. P&G takes dozens of ZJS-related calls per week, and most of them are given to Jake and Alex to handle.

----

Tobin, Alex, and Jake enter Reg's office, joined moments later by fellow detectives Amy Farnsworth, a mundy; and Kenneth Black, a dwarf. Junior partner Absalom Grey is already in the room sipping tea, and Mavet is stirring sugar into her coffee. Christy stands in the doorway, waiting to take the meeting minutes.


“Alright everybody, good morning," says Reg, seated behind his desk, "Hope your weekends went well. We've got a busy week ahead of us, so I'll just get into it.

"Things with ZJS aren't getting any better, and people out there are scared, so everyone is on Goblin watch. We can't let them continue to gain power over the community, so try to keep their terror tactics under control. I know you guys are busy with your own cases, but ZJS is a priority, and Alex and Jake could use some help.

“Secondly, Absalom has spoken with some of our good friends over at the Soothsayers' Guild, and they asked us to keep an eye open for something...”

Reg gestures for Grey to take the floor. Grey blows across the top of his tea and brushes some of the greasy, graying hair out of his face as he speaks up in a low, breathy tone.
"Yes, I spoke with Iolehn of the Guild, and he believes that a certain Shadowborn monster known as the Demon of the Void will soon be returning to New York. The Demon is a malevolent entity which, as we understand it, seeks to consume the enitre universe."

Back to Reg. "We did some work in tandem with NYPD and the military way back when it first appeared. It seems to decrease in size and power each time it returns, so it's not really the massive threat it once was. Mavet should have the original archive file, so everyone should have a look at that, but Tobin, consider yourself the main guy on this one."

"One thing to keep in mind," Grey interjects, "Is discretion, though not necessarily secrecy. The Demon of the Void has killed thousands of people over the years, and even though the threat level now is much lower, people still fear it. So, essentially, find the thing and knock it out of commission for another few years. But the last thing we need is a panic."

Once Grey finishes, Reg sits in silence for a moment, leaving some space for questions. "Got that?" he says. "Okay then. Other than that, you guys have your own cases. I'm in all day today, so if you've got questions, let me know."

----

MC maintains her sultry pose, but the silence is five times as awkward as before. Though neither party may realize it, the two are locked in a battle of creepiness. Can MC's clueless hypersexuality hold out against Argos' unswaying stoicism?


[Argos +0, MC +0. They remain as they are.]
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Greg
 Posted: Mar 24 2011, 11:16 AM
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"Alright, let's do this!" Tobin is exited about having an opportunity to go on a monster hunt, and being put in charge of the operation. Returning to the larger office room, he pulls the note out of the case file and hands it to Mavet. Could you grab these other case files for me? They should be on the other clashes with this Void Demon thing. While I think we could easily use magic and axes to just dispel this thing again, I think we should see if we can find a way to keep it from coming back, if we can."
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Mar 24 2011, 01:43 PM
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"Ahh, yes, one moment. Who may I tell Ilikk is calling..?" Durg looks up at the ceiling briefly, straining his ears to hear whether the wizard is still talking to someone up there. Regardless he is going to have to interrupt him.
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dingo
 Posted: Mar 24 2011, 02:01 PM
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Mavet cringes at Tobin's misguided notion that she goes around getting stuff for people, but listens to Tobin's suggestion nonetheless. "Well, you can find the files in the cabinets in Amy and Ken's office, or on the server. We can look into trapping or killing this thing, but it could be tricky. We really don't know much about it, though it might help to find the book where those tracings came from. You did look at the file, right?"

This post has been edited by dingo: Mar 24 2011, 04:03 PM
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dingo
 Posted: Mar 24 2011, 04:26 PM
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"My name is Geoffrey. Please connect me to Ilikk immediately!"

Obivously, the man does not recognize Durg's voice, but Durg now realizes exactly to whom he is speaking. Several years ago, he sat in the New York Academy of Magic's cramped classrooms, basking in the brilliance Professor Geoffrey Moreandor amongst the other students. It was in those lectures that his already-eager mind developed a love for magic and an understanding of the all-important fundamentals of magic.

It was in the office of Prof. Moreandor that Durg last heard that voice, pronouncing his expulsion from the Academy. Hardly his darkest day, but by no means a pleasant memory.

A voice can still be faintly heard coming from upstairs. Ilikk doesn't talk much.

----

MC finally clues in to the awkwardness of the situation. She shrinks back into the breakfast nook and to her cigarette.


This post has been edited by dingo: Mar 24 2011, 04:28 PM
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 Posted: Mar 25 2011, 08:38 AM
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Barely acknowledging MC's presence he mutters a simple goodbye before heading out the door. Argos is not quite himself this morning. Usually he's able to maintain a constant energy level but today he woke up groggy and almost dazed. Whitebloods don't normally dream...

As he steps out into the hall he begins to feel a little claustrophobic. I just need a morning jog; I always feel better after the first few miles.

Jake goes back to his case files.

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Greg
 Posted: Mar 25 2011, 08:16 PM
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Tobin shrugs."A bit. It told me to check these other cases."There is a brief pause."Aaanyhow, I'll be doing that then. Be right back!"
Tobin leaves Mavet and heads over to Amy's office.
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Jimbo Cactaur
 Posted: Mar 25 2011, 10:12 PM
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Durg is thankful that Professor Moreandor doesn't seem to recall him, but a little upset too. Conflicting emotions that rile him up a bit, enough to incite him to say, "One moment please, Professor." And then immediately put Moreandor on hold.

Durg hops off his stool and trots toward the bottom of the stairs, wishing the entire time that Ilikk would have an intercom put in. Maybe at the next staff meeting I'll suggest it he thinks sarcastically.

He heads up the stairs and raps sharply (the only way goblins know to rap) on the door at the top.
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