You Broke It

Cast: date: '20 November 2012'
place: 'Watch HW - Briefing Room'
participants: 'Ash, Nadya, Cedric (emits by Wynn)'
synopsis: 'A meeting to compare notes and examine the artifacts relating to the Declan MacNamara case results in an interesting and slightly smoky discovery.'
log: " Both Ash and Nadya received emails on the Watch network from a \"Moseley, Cedric\" indicating that he'd like to have a look at the artifact that was rescued from the anglerfish's mouth, when the two of them had time, and that Agent Ambrose had directed them to him. A quick check of Watch files would confirm that Moseley is indeed a field agent who was originally working the whole anglerfish thing before he was put on extended medical leave. \n\n He's asked the two of them to come to the briefing room at Watch HQ and specified a time, early Tuesday evening, to do so. When they arrive, he's already in the room, wearing a button-down shirt, sweater, and slacks, leaning back in a chair at the back of the room, scrolling through something on an iPad and apparently reading intently. \n \nAsh closes up the bookstore and makes his way over, still dressed for the part as Unassuming Bookstore Clerk: white Oxford, sleeves rolled up, a paisley waistcoat in autumn shades, slacks. The hair is in full glorious form, impeccable. \"Mr. Moseley,\" he says lightly by way of greeting. \"How does the evening find you?\" \n \n Nadya arrives promptly, her approach announced by the click of heels out in the hallway, a purposeful but unhurried stride. When she rounds the doorway, she's just as dressed for business as Ash is, though of a different sort; tonight she's wearing a black pants-suit with a thick coat overtop, the neckline a froth of tawny fur. But she's got a bit of a smile on her lips as she nods to the two men in the room, hefting an old, well-beaten leather briefcase in one hand, \"Gentlemen. Good to finally meet you both.\"\n \n As the pair enter, Cedric looks up and sets aside the iPad - looks as if he was reading an article out of The Guardian. A quick tap of a key on top, and the screen goes blank. He stands, an abrupt, fluid motion, and steps around the table to greet the pair, offering a hand first to Nadya and then to Ash. \"Mr Cohen, good to see you again. Ms Morozova, I presume?\" His voice is a deep baritone, almost a bass, rough around the edges, and he smells faintly of cigarette smoke. His eyes dart to the briefcase in her hand. \"Cedric Moseley.\" \n \nAsh shakes Cedric's hand, and then offers his hand to Nadya. \"A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Morozova. I'm Ash Cohen, and I'm here to assist to two of you in whatever capacity I might.\" His own voice is rather pleasant with shades of what was once upon a time conditioned for public speaking. \"So, Mr. Moseley, what have we got tonight?\" \n \n \"Mr. Moseley,\" Nadya returns the handclasp firmly, though her grip isn't anything surprising. Her words are almost American in their lack of accent, but there's a lingering taste of Russia in her pronounciation from time to time, mostly in word-pacing. And then she grins like a schoolgirl as she accepts Ash's handshake, \"At the moment, Mr. Cohen, it is more what I have.\" So saying, she lifts her case up onto the conferance table and pops open the latches, reaching inside to pull out what looks like a wad of heavily-written-upon paper at first. \"I've been keeping it under wards until we had time to discuss it. Didn't want to risk something getting loose.\"\n \n As the briefcase gets popped open, Cedric's attention is immediately drawn to its contents, although he frowns on seeing that it's only a wad of paper. He doesn't argue with Nadya's statement about not wanting anything to get loose, nor does he give any evidence of disagreement, and places both hands flat on the table, to support himself while he studies it. \"So that's what MacNamara's after,\" he mutters to himself, peering more closely at it. \"Any idea what it is, or what it can do?\" \n \nAsh perks up at the wad of paper, and he tilts his head as he takes a closer look. Then he takes out his iPhone and skims through some pictures. \"I'd like to compare the writing if I may,\" he says with a nod toward the paper. \"It looks familiar.\" He glances at the pictures he's got of the Viking's cloak and shield, and the carvings into the floor on the night he became a former Viking. \"I don't suppose we have access to a scholar who reads ancient runes.\" \n \n Nadya smirks a moment as she closes her briefcase again (the rest of the contents inside seem like what you'd expect for a normal briefcase) and begins to unwind the paper, laying it out flat on the table with a small black stone, ornamented by a gold ring, at the center. The writings all over the paper end up forming concentric designs around the stone, \"I did some research into the script on the ring, but the closest I could get was Norse runes. It's different, though. Best I could puzzle out, this stone was put into the sluagh Levi and myself encountered in the sewers, thus leading to it's sudden increase in… ferocity?\"\n \nThe stone looks like onyx, and the gold ring is rough-hewn, with evidence of hammer marks and slightly uneven marks on the runic script. The gold is soft. It's well-crafted, but with a low technolgy level.\n \n \"Bronze Age artifact, I'll bet,\" Cedric mutters, careful not to touch either the paper or the stone as he studies them. He frowns at the writing on the stone, then at Ash's iPhone. \"Reckon we ought to look at the knife as well,\" he murmurs. \"If you'll excuse me ….\" He turns and dashes from the room at breakneck speed, his heavy footsteps taking the stairs in the stairwell two at a time from the sound of it. \n \nAsh comes closer, peering down at the stone. He radiates intense curiosity, far more curiosity than caution. \"I think I've narrowed it down to…\" He sets down his phone so he can examine the picture and the runes on the artifact side by side. \"They're the same language more or less,\" he says. His peers closer, and his gaze goes a little fuzzy. \"Here,\" he says quietly. He doesn't touch the artifact, but he does gesture at one of the runes. Then he points to one of the runes on his phone. \"They're similar but not the same. The one on the phone is a bit more complex.\" He frowns thoughtfully. \"Unless you want me to push further, Ms. Morozova, I'd rather just make the assumption that the language has become more complex over time, dating that artifact to well over a thousand years old.\"\n \n There's a bit of a blink as Nadya watches Cedric dash off, but she doesn't comment on it, instead leaning her hip against the edge of the table and taking the time to pull her coat open. It's warmer in here than outside! \"My own studies suggested it was rather old, as well. Have you been able to come up with a working translation yet? You've had more experience with the language than I, it seems.\"\n \n In a matter of a minute or two, the clatter of footsteps down the stairs is audible again, and Cedric returns, breathing a little hard but with what appears to be a wad of well-worm gym socks in one hand. \"This was the knife that Vegeir left in the floor in S514A,\" he explains shortly, striding back into the room. As he approaches the table, he pulls off what turns out to be multiple pairs of socks wrapped around an ancient metal dagger, well-made for its time and carved with runes.\n \nAsh glances up at Cedric's hasty departure, arches a brow, but then his attention is brought back to the artifact. He takes up his phone and flips through pictures, then opens a text file with his notes. \"It might take awhile to translate it, but I think I'm making progress.\" He glances at his notes. I've got a rough timeline, though. Our friend Vegeir's writing places him at about 1100 to 1300 years old.\" He holds up the phone to snap pictures of the writing and the artifact. \"And,\" he adds with distracted calm, \"the script on that thing and his clothes is at least a few hundred years older. I would conclude — without digging deeper to confirm, mind you — that this older script still held ceremonial significance into Vegeir's time.\" He glances at the dagger and perks up. \"Oh, excellent.\"\n \nThe moment the dagger gets close to the artifact, there is an immediate reaction. The table starts to shake violently. There is a loud, sharp sound, like something very strong being cut asunder. The dagger in Cedric's hand vibrates and makes his whole hand tingle. Then, it fades and there is a sharp pop. The black stone has been cracked in half, barely held in place by the gold band. A whisp of smoke rises up from the centre, but doesn't breach Nadya's ward.\n \n The witch frowns thoughtfully as Ash speaks, her eyes narrowing as she looks at the stone resting on the paper, though in an unfocussed way. \"Possibly more than ceremonial significance. The reports said that this Vegeir was sent into the Gloom, yes? Look how the ring wraps around the stone. A restriction, with runes upon it. Perhaps Vegeir was giving some protections?\" However, then there's that strong reaction, and the witch actually jumps away from the table, managing to keep her balance even in her heels, and stares at the bit of smoke rising from her prize. \"…well!\" she says after a moment, when it's clear nobody's going to spontaneously explode, tone somewhat exasperated. You broke it!\n \n \"What the …\" Almost before Cedric can react, the artifact is sundered, and he looks back and forth between the knife in his hand and the artifact on the table. He transfers the blade to the other hand, careful to keep it well away from the table, and shakes his now-freed right hand quickly. He stares at the two a moment, then turns a steady gaze on Ash. \"This blade alone can slay the snake, mate. Wonder if we just slew the snake.\" He continues to shake his hand.\n \nWhen Cedric looks down at the blade, he will witness one of the runes on its handle simply vanish.\n \nAsh steps back as things shake and pop. \"If only things were that easy,\" Ash says with a small frown. \"I have a feeling the snake is still in Mr. MacNamara's deck.\" He takes pictures of the newly cracked artifact. \"And I think you may be right,\" he says to Nadya. \"There's power in these runes. I've got a translation of Vegeir's carving. I'll try to extrapolate his language from there, but this…\" He gestures to the artifact and the gold band around it. \"It might be better to approach this with caution. No one should read aloud from the metaphorical book of evil, yes?\"\n \n Nadya shakes her head at the talk about snakes, \"I doubt it's that simple. We've got a lot of parallel imagery going on with all this. Jormungand, the world-snake. Lamia, the snake-witch who devoured her children. And here we have artifacts that resonate so strongly that one *sunders* the other even through my attempts to keep it mystically isolated. Mr. Cohen is correct, I think.\" She steps back over to the table, though she keeps her hands on her hips, frowning down at the broken stone as though blaming it for something, \"When dealing with the forces of darkness, one needs to understand the question before giving an answer.\"\n \n Cedric is silent, and transfers the blade back to his dominant hand, to study it closely. \"Thought I saw ….\" He strides down to the far end of the table, pulls his iPad to him and starts to quickly click through his own photos. It takes him a minute, but finally, he lays the iPad and the knife down side by side. \"I wasn't seeing things,\" he mutters. \"Maybe not the whole thing, but reckon we got something. Look.\" He turns both so Ash can clearly see the picture of the knife, taken the day they got it, and the knife as it is now, side by side. One of the runes in the picture of the knife is missing on the real knife. \"It vanished when it broke that artifact. Saw it disappear.\"\n \nThere were a total of six runes on the blade - three on each side. Now there are five.\n \nAsh leans in close to examine the blade. If the man has any fear of getting his face right up in these things, he doesn't show it. \"Maybe each one holds a spell,\" he says. \"And you just fired one off, in which case breaking the artifact might not be such a bad thing. Maybe it needed destroyed.\" He glances to the artifact in question and purses his lips before he says, \"If it is destroyed rather than merely irked.\" \n \nThe onyx stone is split, and inside is an inky black geode with a tiny cavern. It's still something of a whole thanks to the gold ring, which remains intact.\n \n There's a snort of laughter from Nadya at Ash's comment about the stone, \"Irked or dead, I still don't trust it. Paranoia is a survival trait where I come from.\" Then she leans her hands on the table and bends slightly to peer at the stone from a different angle, \"Looks like there might have been something inside it. Either that or a focusing chamber. Hm.\" Now she's frowning a lot, almost scowling as she straightens back up and looks at the two men, \"Does the Watch have a shielded vault? I'd much rather have this somewhere more secure than my flat, now that we know some more about it.\"\n \n \"We've got a vault,\" Cedric answers, pulling back the iPad and the knife. The iPad he simply blanks the screen on, but the knife he picks up carefully and begins to re-wrap it in the gym socks. \"I don't either,\" he agrees with Nadya. \"But if that's what the knife's to do, reckon we've got five more of these things to find. And we've got to find out just what it is we're taking out before that happens again.\" His voice is pitched low as he looks back and forth between the two. \n\n \"Not to mention,\" he goes on, \"what MacNamara's got in mind and whether he knows we just fucked with his little toy. Rather him not know we're on to him if it can be helped, thanks. I haven't got a response from brass yet.\" \n \nAsh, predictably, snaps photos of the new and possibly not so improved artifact with its little Kinder Egg prize inside. \"If we had someone who could perform these magics, we could in theory reload the dagger, but that's a monumental 'if' I think.\" He pockets his phone then. \"I've looked up what I can on MacNamara. His Internet presence is vague at best. He's not bad at hiding in plain sight. I suppose if he knows what we've done, we'll find out.\"\n \n \"I imagine the runic spells are at least theoretically similar to my own wards and charms, but I don't know their language or symbols,\" is an almost distracted mutter from Nadya, who's gone back to scowling at the stone. \"I think I'm going to take this and transfer it to the vault, gentlemen. And probably draw a new set of wards around it. That little performance with the smoke damaged what I'd put in place here on the paper,\" and she indicates where ink that had been dry for days was inexplicably smudged. \"Luckily, it looks like the ward contained it.\"\n \n \"Right,\" Cedric replies to Nadya, not seeming too put out by the suggestion. He glances down at the knife. \"Once you register that lot in the vault, it'll be a right arse-on to get them to release it if you want to get to it, mind.\" Down at the end of the table, his iPad chimes happily, and he frowns at it, entering a code and then peering at it. \"Well. MacNamara's making a personal appearance at the Stillwater Art Gallery soon. Lamia's donating money and an artifact. Don't fancy staring him down, but wouldn't mind knowing what he donated.\" One side of his lips quirks up into a half smile. \"Probably ought to send someone who isn't Touched.\"\n \n\"Do we know someone who isn't Touched?\" Ash asks. \"Who can pull off looking like they belong at a gallery affair?\" He glances between the two of them quizzically. \"I'm afraid the only Untouched people I know are people I'm keeping well away from this.\" \n \n \"I haven't been Touched by the Gloom,\" Nadya mentions absently as she bends to start Very Carefully(tm) refolding the paper around the fractured stone. She's certainly moving a lot more slowly and with much more care than she did unwrapping the thing in the first place. \"And given the chance, I plan to stay that way. No offense, but I have yet to meet one of the Touched that hasn't been damaged in some way.\"\n \n Stony silence from Cedric greets Nadya's comment, and he lets it hang in the air for a long moment as he watches her work. \"If you reckon you want a crack at pretending to be an art nerd, Ms. Morozova, I'll forward you the details,\" he tells her quietly. \"If not, email me and I'll find someone.\" The knife is wrapped up as before, and he picks it and the iPad up. \"Thank you both for your time. I'll be in touch.\""
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