This Blade Slays the Snake

Cast: date: '6 November 2012'
place: 'Hollow Tree Safehouse'
participants: 'Crispin, Wynn'
synopsis: 'Wynn wakes up with a very strange urge. Under the influence of the viking he connected to, he carves a message into the floor. (Happens in real-time alongside "The Shadows'' Price.")'
log: "He's not claustrophobic. He's not afraid of the dark. Not really. But Crispin has been actually quite serious and dour after his conversation with the viking, He's been getting work done like crazy and drinking roughly his bodily volume in coffee. The flickering chandelier is no longer flickering. None of the taps are leaking. And Crispin, exhausted and finally finished working, sits slumped and snoring with his head tilted back in front of the telly. It's currently playing the menu screen of Raiders of the Lost Ark. That and a sofa-side lamp are the only lights in the common room: the rest of it is cloaked in darkness.\n\nThere's a strange scratching that starts low and quiet. Scratch, scratch, like a mouse in the floorboards. Mice aren't unheard of in an old building like this, and little sounds like that aren't likely to suddenly wake someone used to sleeping in a furnace room. And anyway, the drone of the television covers up most of it. \n\nBut the sound gets louder, and it's accompanied by laboured breathing. And the scratching becomes less of a small, gnawing sound and more a long, drawn sound.\n\nIt didn't wake Crispin at first. He's not typically a light sleeper, but last night and tonight have been exceptions. But when he does wake with a choke and a snort, he rubs his face with one long-fingered hand and blinks in the dim light. Strange sound. Very strange sound. Like… someone sawing, maybe? Crispin rises, muzzy with sleep, and peers into the darkness.\n\nThere is enough light from the corner of the room to make out the shape of someone on their hands and knees. The sound gets louder, the breathing more laboured. The sound is more obvious now, of splitting wood.\n\nWell. /That/ certainly wouldn't do. Crispin blinks again in bafflement and calls out: \"Oi! I have to fix that, you know. What the hell are you doing?\" He starts moving to the crouching figure, long legs carrying him closer quickly as he reaches down to grab the shoulder of whoever's doing this.\n\nIt's Wynn that looks up at Crispin with dark, haunted eyes. He doesn't seem properly aware of himself or his surroundings. He is holding a kitchen knife in one hand. When Crispin steps forward, he steps on something rough beneath his sock foot. A splinter pushes through and jabs him in the heel.\n\nCursing under his breath, Crispin hops briefly on one foot and lifts his foot to reach down and pull the wooden shard from his heel. Tossing it aside, he reaches down to catch Wynn's wrist and speaks softly: \"Wynn. Hey. Ratchet it back. What's the — \" Of course. He'd actually worried about this. About him absorbing too much from the Viking. It's entirely possible he can't hear. Can't even understand.\n\nWynn doesn't seem to, not at first. He stares at Crispin with a dark emptiness, the kitchen knife still clenched in his hand. He pulls away from the other and suddenly swing around. He holds the knife between two hands and slams it down hard, planting the tip of the blade into the floorboard. His hand slips off the handle and skims along the blade. He starts to bleed. The blood and the pain seems to snap him out of it. He lifts his head and sucks in a breath like a man drowning. He doubles over. \"Oh, god. Oh god. Christ.\" He clutches his wounded hand.\n\n\"Christ. Aw, Christ,\" Crispin hisses, reaching down to the suddenly-bleeding hand. He tugs at his sleeve and reaches down, pressing his cuff against the bleeding slice in Wynn's hand. \"It's all right,\" he says quickly, urging him to his feet. \"To the bathroom. We'll wash this off and get it bound up. You'll be right.\" Stiff upper lip. Strong jaw. Don't look as horrified as you feel.\n\nWynn is trembling lightly as he gets to his feet. He clings to Crispin. Fortunately, he didn't hit anything major, but it's a rather nasty little cut. \"Oh, lord. I remember it. I don't remember why, I…\" He wheels suddenly, then reaches with his uninjured hand for the lights. \nThey flick on and illuminate the common area, and the gouges in the floor. There is a message written there. \n\nGoodbye. The shadows collect their price.\nThis blade alone can slay the snake. \n\n The kitchen knife is implanted at the end of the last line, jammed in deep and dribbled with Wynn's blood.\n\n\"Shh. Shh, love, let's…\" Crispin stops in his tracks and stares in unnerved astonishment. He moistens his lips, a chill running sharply through his body. He takes a deep breath. Another. \"We'll give it a minute,\" Crispin says, turning back toward the bathroom. \"Christ. Um. Wash it off. Yeah. I'll…\" He takes a deep breath. \"I need to take a look at this. In a minute. After we have you bound up.\"\n\n\"There's the infirmary in my flat.\" Wynn's got three rooms up there, one is storage, the other contains rudimentary medical facilities. \"There's also a first aid kit hanging on the wall in the kitchen.\" Big red box. Something no one ever notices until they need it. \"I need to, uh, we need to sterilize the wound and put on butterfly bandages and some Neosporin. I don't think I'll need stitches.\" Of course, he's got first aid training. And in his bout of adrenaline, he's falling back on that. He's ignoring the message for now.\n\nSounds like a good plan. \"Upstairs, then,\" Crispin says quickly. He starts propelling Wynn to the stairs, but he keeps glancing back at the message. And the knife. It's like the damned spindle on Sleeping Beauty's spinning-wheel. \"…Hang on. I need to — just in case — \" He stops, stooping, and tugging the other cuff over his other palm. He wraps his covered hand around the knife and tugs at it, stooping to yank it out of the floor.\n\nIf that knife is the one meant to slay the beast, then thank the good people at Cuisinart. It seems to be quite ordinary. Wynn hisses as he puts pressure on the wound. Then he starts to climb the stairs. He leaves his flat door open (or was it already open?) as he moves towards the small infirmary.\n\nYeah, it seems… a bit weird. But weirder things have happened. Once he has the knife out of the floor, Crispin follows Wynn to the stairs with the occasional glance back at the floor. He hikes up to the infirmary and heads to the sink to start the water running. \"Wash first,\" he says. \"I'll pull out the betadyne. And the Neosporin. Must sting like mad.\" The knife is set on a counter nearby. He'll see to it in a moment.\n\n\"Right, right. Washing. Right.\" Wynn moves hastily towards the kitchen and sticks his hand under the water. He hisses as the water hits the wound, but makes sure it gets clean. From his bedroom, his phone is making a notification sound. But for once, he doesn't run to check it.\n\n\"Wait.\" Crispin takes the bottle of betadyne, turning and setting it next to the sink. \"'The shadows collect their price.' Shit. Oh, shit. Vegeir. They sacrificed themselves to bring him here, but there's nothing saying he'll be allowed to /stay/ — \" That's when the phone goes off. Crispin's face goes pale. \"I'll get that,\" he says, sprinting for the door to Wynn's bedroom.\n\nWynn's phone is passcode protected, so Crispin can't check it. It's sitting on his night table, next to his hastily tossed-back covers. It's making a lot of urgent buzzing, though. By the time Crispin comes out, he's on the move towards the infirmary, to properly care for his cut. Normally his mobile is never far from him, but at the moment, he seems…too dazed to care.\n\nHe's tense. So tense. Because anything he does could be the Wrong Thing. Leaving Wynn? Letting him out of his sight? Unthinkable. So he rushes back in to the infirmary, setting the phone down next to the knife. \"It'll be Cedric,\" Crispin says. His own phone buzzes and he jumps, reaching into his pocket and pulling out: \"Oh. Actually, Ash.\" He takes a deep breath: \"I can take a look and find out what's happening over there right now,\" he offers. \"Should I? I don't… don't want to do the wrong thing.\"\n\n\"Don't do anything dangerous, Crispin. It'll be all right.\" Odd calm has come over Wynn. Or maybe his concentration is elswhere as he tries to purge bits of viking from his mind. His tending of his wound is nearly unconscious - as if he's done it a thousand times before instead of just remembering first aid training. He manages quite well dressing his own hand, then winds the bandage around. \"The passcode is 8742.\" There's trust. \n\n There's two messages, one from Cedric, one from Ash. \n From Cedric: S514A COMPROMISED, taking what we can carry and fucking off. \n From Ash: V. dead. SH compromised.\n\n\"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I should be better at this.\" Crispin blinks in surprise when Wynn gives him the passcode, but he punches it in regardless and presses his lips into a thin line. \"I really fucking hate being right,\" he says softly. \"That safehouse is compromised. I knew it would be a bad idea to bring him here. Thank God.\" But isn't that always the way? Crispin trusts his gut. It's why he's remotely successful as an oracle, after all. \"I'll let them know we have the message,\" he continues. \"Fuck, I can't help them. No. Wait. I /can/.\" He lifts his head quickly. \"I can do something. I'm sure of it. Something. Okay. Ash and Cedric are getting the hell out of there but they need to go somewhere safe. Somewhere whatever killed Vegeir isn't going to follow them. It… it /might/ choose not to, it's already done what it came for, but since when are sharks satisfied with just taking one bite?\"\n\nWynn winds the bandage around his hand and secures it. He looks over his shoulder at Crispin, then turns to move towards him. \"Take a photo of what I carved into the floor. Send it to them. I've a hunch of my own.\" He takes his own mobile and sets up a text to both Cedric and Ash. \"What do you want to do, Crispin? Please, don't…don't do anything foolish. Safehouses are set up to be abandoned. That's their purpose.\"\n\nHe should be helping Wynn bind up his hand. He's cursing himself for that now. \"I can do that,\" Crispin says, moving for the door. \"And nothing foolish. I promise. I'll just make sure they're headed somewhere safe. It'll be all right.\" He begins texting quickly, sending the message to Ash and Cedric both: \n'Where are you headed? -C'\nThe picture follows, sent once more to both phones.\n\n\"I've told them to go to the Hyde Park safehouse. It's been warded by witches. Should offer them some protection against what might be chasing them. It's also as far away as possible from known Gloom entrances.\" Wynn flexes his bandaged hand, then reaches for a bottle of painkillers. He pops two down without water.\n\nJogging back up into the infirmary, Crispin nods his agreement. \"Sensible,\" he says. \"Then… all right.\" Useless. Bloody useless. He gnaws on the inside of his mouth and peers at the hand, nodding once before. Well. The knife. \"I just need to check,\" he says softly. \"It could be nothing. Could very well be — \" He reaches out, pressing his fingertips of one hand against the blade, those of his other hand against the handle. The Vorpal Steak-Knife?\n\nThe only flashes Crispin get from that knife are of Wynn, cooking dinner. So many dinners alone. Salads and stir-frys, the occasional steak. A few cuts, before now. And the very briefest flash of a woman. A woman with blonde curly hair and a soft smile. \"Anything?\"\n\n\"Just — \" Crispin shakes his head, pulling his hands back. He shakes his head and glances back to the phone, blinking as messages come in. Several. \"No. You wrote it, but the dagger's with Cedric. Looks like he probably carved the same message himself, just in runes on the safehouse's floor. With his dagger before whatever it was got him.\" Crispin turns the phone Wynn's way: it shows the scene at the safehouse. Minus the dead man. There's a response from Ash: 'How do you know these things?' He responds: 'Imprint on W. One man in two places. Appears to have given us a translation.' Wincing, he glances down at his heel. A bit bloody. Oh well. \"I can sand it out,\" he says. \"In… in the morning. Rug over it tonight. There's one in the attic.\"\n\n\"Ash is heading home,\" he adds. \"Cedric's going to B345. Wants us to meet him there, I guess.\"\n\n\"I'm not fit to give orders and puzzle this out. I'm trying to get what's left of Vegeir out of my mind. He was Touched, you know. He set up some kind of connection between us, even after I broke it,\" Wynn shakes his head. \"This shouldn't have happened.\" He rubs his bandaged hand and looks back at Crispin. He looks…haunted. \"I…\" he hesitates and swallows. \"Stay with me?\"\n\nThe look in Crispin's face at those words is sheerest relief. He nods once, reaching out to curl a hand gently around Wynn's shoulder and give it a soft squeeze. \"Aye,\" he says. \"I will. Gladly. You'll be safe. One mo — \" He wrinkles his nose at a message and sends a response, then another. \"I'm telling Cedric to stay safe and letting him know we're staying here. Ash is going home; I'm telling him to stay there.\" What arrives next actually looks like it rather turns his stomach — Crispin quickly clicks off the image and sniffs once more. He looks to Wynn then with a sad smile: \"I'm cocking things up, I know. I'll tell Cedric to secure the dagger extra-well and stay safe. I'll clean up and be upstairs in a bit; is that all right? If you'd rather, I can come up now. I'd be happy to.\"\n\n\"I'll be here, mixing whiskey and painkillers,\" says Wynn with a wry little smile. His eyes remain disturbed and somewhere far away. \"Do what you need to. But be quick about it, ay?\""

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