A Cuisinart Full of Dragons

Cast: Cedric, Crispin (emits by Chimera)
Date: 02 February 2013

Watch agents go to take a closer look at Declan MacNamara's donation to Stillwater Art Gallery.

Stillwater Art Gallery

The Stillwater Gallery is a very unique and trendy little gallery. Its collection mostly contains Bronze-age artifacts and work by modern artists using Bronze-age techniques and materials. The layout is clean and modern and the surrounding architecture is meant to draw attention to the items in the cases. Given it's a Saturday afternoon, most of the people who wander through are dressed in nice wool jackets and hold cups with espresso drinks. Many have reusable bags brimming with organic and local produce from the nearby New Covent Garden Market.

And Crispin fits right in with all the rest of them: he's in a nice wool peacoat with a houndstooth scarf dangling casually around his neck. He even has a half-drunk disposable cup of coffee in one hand as he ambles into the gallery. "All right," he murmurs, "I have to admit it: I'd come here anyway. This is a fantastic exhibit. D'you know we were building in stone, though, long before bronze tools? That the individual stones that made up the Pyramids — the bigger stones — would have taken two men a couple of weeks each to cut out and remove?" Crispin's in a good mood. He'd better be. He's going to go and do something he hates, after all.

Cedric doesn't seem to mind the trendiness of the place either, and the markets at New Covent seem to have attracted his attention as well, though in a different way. Cigarettes safely tucked away in his own wool jacket, dark blue scarf inside the jacket, he walks alongside and listens to Crispin, a crisp red organic apple in one hand from which he's taken a couple of bites so far. He's not … exactly relaxed, his expression neutral, but mostly he seems to be inclined towards quietude. "Yeah?" His deep baritone is low and rough around the edges. "Sounds like lots of work."

The nameplates for each piece are small and unobtrusive, and etched on little hammered bronze plaques. It will take some careful browsing to find which item in the gallery was donated by Declan MacNamara. It is supposed to be an artifact rather than a new piece, but it's hard to tell at a quick glance which is which - unless you happen to know something about artifacts. Some of the pieces are under glass. Some larger stone or metal sculptures are not. There's a gallery worker with a nametag who chats with people - especially potential buyers. There's a security guard near the door who eyes the people with the larger sacks warily.

"Oh, sure." Crispin takes the time to read the plaques for each sculpture he comes near — he's not an art expert, but he knows about architecture and the line between the two has been known to blur. "But they had thousands of people. Probably not slaves, either: more likely it was professional stonemasons and farmers who didn't have much to do after harvest." He glances back to Cedric, frowning faintly. "Your friend who spoke of the piece he liked. Do you remember what he said it looked like?" Hint. Hint.

Cedric's no fool, and the hint isn't lost on him. Still, casual casual is the order of the day, and he responds by taking another bite of his apple while Crispin is still talking. He, too, glances at the plaques here and there, and appears to be in no hurry, browsing just like anyone else. n Chew chew chew - he doesn't answer until he's done chewing his bite of apple. "Took years to build, yeah? Bet there were at least some slaves." He takes longer to answer the second question. "Spent more time banging on about how cool the thing was," he remarks first. "Described one like it … had some sort of metal in the middle. Some rich bloke donated it." Another bite of apple, as he continues to casually browse. "So what else would they have built from … wasn't that when humans were still nomads?"

The piece, when it comes into view, is suddenly screamingly obvious. Both of them will be drawn to look at it, even amongst all the other myriad artifacts and pieces in the gallery. It's about a foot high, and is in a place of honour in the far corner of the room. A stone circle is held upright, and is carved with runes and Viking designs. The designs are faded and weather-beaten. Linked into the stone is a bronze ring. It lies on the pedestal. Hammer marks are visible, as are hand-etched runes. It's baffling to imagine how it was constructed. A stone circle linked with a metal one, with no obvious signs of how the two were joined together. The nameplate says:

The World Link. c 100 AD (unconfirmed.)nOn loan from Declan MacNamara, from the Lamia Industries private collection.

(OOC: http://images.artparks.co.uk/sculpture/big_img/sculpture_artwork_sandra_borges_nodu_a_dois_1.jpg)

"Years. Yes. There might have been slaves involved, but Egypt was fairly populous and it would have been an honour to work on the Pharoah's tomb. They didn't need to haul things overland, either — why would they? Not much, anyway. They'd sail the blocks downriver on barges and set them up close as they could. Not nomads, though: humans were pretty settled in agriculture by then, which was what made Egypt livable." Crispin ambles on, adding: "They had these reed structures, which is amazing because they actually /carved/ — " But then he breaks off, staring at the sculpture in question. n"That's the one," he breathes. He's certain even before he sees the plaque. He drains the rest of his coffee and steps as casually as he can into the room, but his eyes are focused straight on the sculpture. "Could they have forged it there?" he murmurs. "There's no seam in the stone, not a single fissure…"

Cedric might or might have actually have been interested in Crispin's chatter, but it's the stop that he really noticed. His expression shifts into that unreadable look that Crispin may realize means he's on edge. "Pretty impressive stuff," he mutters, low and quiet in that deep baritone. "Wonder how they did that … hey, aren't those Futhark runes? Thought Vikings didn't do anything but leaf-bladed swords." There's a trace of humor beneath his tone. "Think it's real?"

It's real at least according to the curators and experts who have had a look at it, but it's certainly an anomaly. Something about it is rather disquieting. It's as if the thing has an aura - and not a very nice one. It seems to vibrate with contained power at a level that ordinary humans can't perceive. No one else seems as interested in the link as they are.nIt makes Crispin's skin crawl. The last thing he'd like to do is touch it, really. He doesn't know what he's going to see, but he knows it won't be pleasant. He has a choice. Of course he does. But that's it: he has the choice, and he's chosen to help. So as he approaches the sculpture, glancing up briefly to see if he can shield the gesture from the staff, he lets the fingers of one hand brush against the closed metal ring.

Cedric's dropped back behind Crispin, placing himself between Crispin and the door and any staffers he's spotted, but he folds his arms skeptically across his hest, allowing a smirk to tug at his lips. "Going to fight him for it now?" he asks in that low, amused voice very at odds with his tight, carefully neutral expression.

Touching the thing is like getting up the courage to touch a hot pan. Everything tells you not to do it. Don't. It will burn. As it turns out, there is no burn. Instead, Crispin feels a sensation akin to intoxication, or perhaps a drug high. The thing is full of power. He may only touch the thing for an instant, but time extends and stretches out. There's flashes of colours, of vibrant light. There's a feeling of soft well-being and utter sureity, utter control. But beneath that, there is something else. It's like something slithering just outside of his peripheral vision. Then it fades out and Crispin is back to himself again. The contact wasn't long enough to gain any information about who was in contact with it last.

This is such a bad idea. This is such a bad… Crispin's eyes roll back in his head when he feels that sensation, and the corners of his mouth curl in a slow smile. Calm. Serenity. And a sweet and powerful high that's probably exactly the wrong thing — or exactly the right — to give a man who's been doing so well, who's been off hard drugs for months. Without asking, without saying anything other than "Not enough," he reaches out those slim fingers again to curl them around the ring.

Behind Crispin, Cedric waits in silence, frowning at his companion. "Oy. All right there, mate?" He reaches out with a hand, as if to grab Crispin's shoulder and give it a little shake. He doesn't glance around - that would look suspicious - but focuses on Crispin instead.

Crispin's touchy-touchy has drawn the attention of the gallery worker. She squints through a cluster of people at the two men, though the fact that Crispin is touching the sculpture is blocked partially by a pillar. nThe ring gives Crispin that same power high right away. His scalp tingles. He feels pleasantly warm to his core, like sunbathing on a tropical beach. Time extends as before, allowing him a moment to wallow in it. Then, it all shatters and pulls away. He's left groping about in the dark. Then there's images. There's flashes. He's seeing through someone else's eyes. A man, perhaps? Yes. Judging by the flashes of a suit and the expensive watch on his wrist. It appears to be a suite. He's carrying something. The image lurches forward again and for a moment. Crispin is left cold. Then it warms up and he's again looking through the other man's eyes. Looking at the sculpture. It sits by a stone door that fills up the wall. The man reaches forward and grabs the stone ring. The image lurches forward again. The stone door opens. Something emerges. Something…monstrous. Something so monstrous that Crispin's mind can't fully absorb it. There are flashes of scales, of fangs, of slitted eyes. And a hand. An oddly human hand that reaches for the gold ring while the man clutches the stone. When both are touching, something happens. nThe what, Crispin won't be able to tell. The burn comes now, like a delayed reaction as sensations are transmitted to the brain. A burning sensation in his hand and a skull-splitting headache.

The curly-haired man's face goes through curious changes — contorting this way, twitching from a contented smile to a pained grimace. Magical. Horribly so. A… key? And lucky him, he's touching the part of this thing that the monster did. That'll do wonders for his psyche. When he does open his eyes again, he cringes and yanks his hand away as if he had indeed been holding it flat against a hot skillet. "Christ," he breathed. "Gate. Opened a…" He wanted out. Warmth. Darkness. Silence. Now.

This time, Cedric tugs a little harder on Crispin's shoulder. "Hey. Are you all right?" A little shake. "Shit mate, not that again. Knew I shouldn't have made you come out here." He lets a tinge of guilt creep into his tone - thank the Academy later. "You're still sick. Come on, I'm taking you home."

The gallery worker is crossing the room now, her brows knitted in concern. She tries to catch eyes with the security man, but he's busy watching a pair of teenagers. If they're leaving, best do it quickly.

"Still have that fever." Crispin manages the words, though they're slurred and low. At least he can lie on cue. "Christ. Let's get out of here, please? I — " He'd go on about what he needs, and it wouldn't be a lie at all. Water. Silence. Stillness. But he's doing his best to walk steadily toward the door, his face suddenly rather pale and drawn. Surely it's just that flu that's going around.

"You're still fevered? I'm going to kick your arse when we get you home. No wonder you were talking so much." Quickly, Cedric puts an arm around Crispin's shoulders, half-supporting and half-steering him towards the gallery doors. He's not wasting any time getting out of there.

Luckily for them, the gallery worker doesn't follow up when she sees them going to the exit. She watches them for a moment longer, then returns her attention to potential buyers.

When they get outside into the chilly air, Crispin takes a deep breath of it. Another. But he doesn't say much else until they've arrived at the nearest safehouse. Staggering through the door, he slumps into the nearest chair and puts his face in his hands. "Headache from hell," he manages. "Give me a moment. And keep the sodding lights out."

As soon as the pair were well out of sight, Cedric immediately removed his arm from around Crispin's shoulders and drops them to his side. He'd already binned the apple on the way out, but as soon as they're out of range where it's legal to smoke, he fishes the cigarette pack and lighter from his pocket, taps one out with an abrupt gesture, and shudders to himself as he lights it with quick, abrupt gestures. He notably neglects to ask if Crispin minds him smoking - unusual for him.n He doesn't actually speak until the door locks behind the pair, and he's about to reach for the light when Crispin stops him. "Right. That thing well fucked you up, then." He shifts the cigarette from hand to hand to get his jacket off and hang it up, then grabs the cigarette and lighter out of the pocket and takes it with him into the room. Close drapes, and find way to living room. "Take your time, mate."

Crispin's silent for some time, nodding and sucking a breath in through his teeth. "Well spotted," he murmured, gritting his teeth. He leaves his own coat on, swallowing hard and trying to come back to himself. "There was a… door. And he opened it and this /thing/…" Another pained swallow. "What did we know about that thing?"

"Ugh." Cigarette in one hand, Cedric takes a long drag off of the fag and releases the smoke, courteously away from Crispin. He settles down briefly on the sofa, then shoots back to his feet and meanders carefully into the kitchen, using his freehand to guide him so he doesn't trip in the dark. He returns momentarily with a glass of water in hand, tapping the ash into teh glass. "Sorry," he says abruptly. "Here's what I know," he mutters. "Declan MacNamara's trying to bring about Ragnarok. He has … pacts with some Others who are trying to gather power to bring Jormungandr into the world. Remember that Viking bloke who came out of the Gloom? Who gave us that knife?"

"I don't think I'm likely to forget him, no." Crispin grimaces at the tang of the smoke, but as Cedric comes back in and starts to explain, Crispin's face temporarily eases. The creases of pain are smoothed away and he sighs, looking and sounding immensely relieved. It's only temporary, though: he cringes a moment later, curling up on the sofa and putting his face in his hands. "Nnngh. Right. And he's using this artifact. Used it. I saw. There was this place. This stone door. And he gripped one ring and the door opened and this thing came out to grip the other. Thing. God, I can't even describe it. Like a Cuisinart full of dragons."

"Fuck me. That's what we're facing?" Another long drag off the cigarette. In private, Cedric's expression is less withdrawn than openly nervous, and he puts one ankle over the opposite knee, the foot tapping incessantly. "Remember the knife? It breaks artifacts like that. There's five more of 'em." He is quiet for a long moment. "Still got it. What I don't know is whether breaking it is going to set this fucker loose or stop it. Any idea?"

"Still… power. It wanted…" Another pained swallow. "It wanted me to touch it. It drew me in like a pitcher plant; it felt so good. So good. God, it felt like the first hit of cocaine, when you realise you've never actually felt quite that good in your life." Crispin blinks softly, running his fingertips across his lips as he let shis eyes settle closed. "Sweet and tempting and good and then slam — cold and cavey. I saw the bloke. You know." He waved his hand. "McNamara. And the thing. The thing had a human hand; it shouldn't have one of those. But when the two touched — when they both held, when their hands were both on it, one on each ring…" He bangs his hands together, staring at them blankly. Silence for a moment. "…Fuck-all. No idea what happened except it gave me one hell of a headache. Something bad."

With his free hand, Cedric rubs his hand across his face, then takes another drag off the cigarette. Now he looks genuinely worried. "You think MacNamara got sucked in that way?" Tap tap. Ash falls into the water, and he watches it. "Dragged into the Gloom, I'll bet. Right, we break this piece of shit." His foot is still moving at five million miles an hour.

"Yeah. Good idea. Could try to figure out where it was, this door. I mean…" Crispin shifts, feet planting ont he floor, elbows resting on his knees. He puts his face in his hands, sighing peacefully for another moment. But again his fingers clench in his hair and he grimaces. "I mean. I've seen it. So I might be able to find it. If we need to shove this thing back where it came from, anyway; frankly, any hole it fits into should do, though."

"Right." Cedric still doesn't look the least bit happy and thinks for a long moment. "So if this thing is a link to the Gloom, then why the fuck is it right out in public? Think he's protecting it by making it bloody obvious if someone fucks with it?"

"Might be. It's also not really that portable." Crispin gazes off into space for a moment. "I mean. You can cart it about, and it might not affect anyone but Touched the way it affected me. Otherwise it'd be famous — hah. The statue got me high." He flashes a wan smile. "It's still active. Still doing something. Maybe it's still in place, holding the door open."

Apparently Cedric doesn't like that information at all; his foot continuously taps at that speed. He's going to have a cramp soon. Drag off the cigarette, flick flick. He does lean back a little in the sofa, resting the water glass on his leg, steadied by his free hand. "Then we've got to break the fucking thing. Just as long as we don't draw the wrath of a multimillion dollar corporation down on our heads." Apparently breaking the thing isn't his concern. "What about this door you saw?"

"Don't know where it is. I… look, mate, I can hunt for it, but I'd really rather not do that while I have a mighty migraine running, all right?" Crispin preses his fingertips into his eyesockets and massages gently. "I'll look. I promise."

"Take it easy, mate," Now there's compassion in Cedric's expression as he watches Crispin. "I've got this safehouse checked out. Sleep here, I'll let Bevan know where you are. Thanks for this, mate. You've been a huge help." His voice softens, and goes low.

Nodding quickly, Crispin draws himself up to lie more fully on the sofa he sits on. "Cheers," he breathes. "Soon as my head's where it should be I'll head home. Just… need to breathe." He curls up rather like a child, face to the cushioned back, arms wrapping around himself.

For a moment, Cedric watches intently, then quietly stands up, taps the last of the ash, then dashes the water into the sink and sets the glass beside it. That done, he quietly puts on his coat, draws the rest of the curtains, and takes himself out, locking the door silently behind him. "

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