Description: Sol Badguy visits Echo at her occult shop in Metro for a little divination into his head. The one in his dufflebag, that is.
There are a lot of fortune tellers and fraud mediums in the city--Echo's small one room botique business in one of the more secluded section of Metro's financial district just seems like another one. It's one of those small places, recessed from the street and the larger brownstone buildings by a small set of stone steps, with a glass facade door with a bell on it. The sign outside reads "Lacroix: Medium to the Beyond, Spirit Readings, Palm..." along with a few other services. It looks like your basic fortune teller shop. One inside, it looks like it had at one point been one of those small junk shops or botiques--as there was an L-shaped glass case strewn with occult paraphernalia, several things inside it... but whatever other bins and racks had been there over the gray pile carpeting was gone, replaced with a large wooden table that dominated the other side of it, set with several chairs. There was a little dias in the cente of the table, looking as if that was where the crystal ball might be, but nothing there now.
The items in the store mostly seem to be mostly on the dark and morose side--charms and fetishes made of small animal skulls and strips of vellum, at least, one hopes it's either parchment or leather, and not skin--nazars, talismans with eye-shaped iconography on them, to guard against evil or curses... Some of the stuff almost seems tribal.
The sun is nearly set, twilight blanketing the city in soft faded hues. It's getting dark, but darkness itself hasn't set yet. There's a flickering light outside of Echo's boutique. Like an ember cast off a bonfire, the flickering light drifts on an unseen, unfelt breeze.
It almost dances as it travels, swirling this way, floating that way. Closer inspection would reveal that it has shape. It isn't just a flickering bit of flame but has two gently flapping wings and a pair of antennae. A butterfly, cast from fire, glowing and burning softly as it drifts along.
It stops just before the recess leading to Echo's shop. It finds a place to sit up high. It waits.
Darkness finally settles into the city as the sun finally descends beyond the horizon. A short time later, a form decked in casual attire comes into view. Sol, in a simple jeans and t-shirt, no desire to stand out. A simple hat with the words, "DONT FEAR" printed on its front. What looks like a gym bag is carried over his shoulder.
He passes from street light to street light, slowly appearing and disappearing between one to another. He stops, in front of Echo's boutique, and the butterfly mote slowly drifts from its perch above. The man raises his hand, and the glowing familiar floats down in lazy spirals, landing on his hand.
Sol looks around. Really looks. He can see the traces of magic, the marks left behind, the power resting nearby. He listens. Really listens. The thrumming and rushing of a leyland deep beneath the city. It's a good place to set up shop, for someone who deals in magic.
He's seen her before. The one who resides here. She isn't a charlatan. But whether she can help or not has yet to be seen. He walks inside.
Luckily for Sol, this is about the time the shop is open anyway--from afternoons to evenings, it would appear. It caters to those who have time after work, apparently. So right now it doesn't appear anyone else has entered. The entrance Sol amkes however, is one fit for Hollywood--as ominous as it is.
"The lord seeks my services, I assume? Or my hide," Echo is standing at the foot of the stairs that lead upward at the back of her shop. She has no magical aegis or charm to disguise her appearance, she does not need one in the presence of such a powerful chi user as Sol. He could see through either easily if he wished. Echo was clad in one of her short-sleeved full-length black dresses, plunging neckline, slit up one side with scalloped hem floating around her white-furred legs like octopus tentacles. A pair of patent leather red high heels thudded against the carpeted floor as she approached, a teacup and saucer rattling in her hands ever so slightly.
"Not much I could do about it if you were here for the latter, is there?" she grinned a little, her lips lacquered blood red and her long dark hair swept back around the huge white-furred ribbed ears.
"Seeking wisdom? The dead can teach well--but what are the questions for these answers?" she sipped from the tea cup idly after approaching a few paces, besides the counter.
It's her. The one from the NOL base. The same hybrid looking form. She had changed her shape back then, so it's possible this one is also an illusion, but that's irrelevant.
Sol inclines his head. "Evening, miss." He says politely. He entered her place, she gets a greeeting. That's about as far as his manners go. He looks around, brim of his hat down low, slowly examining the bits and baubles that decorate the front. He stops in front of some of the charms.
"I see you cater to the straights." He picks one up, examining it, then sets it back down. "Whatever pays the rent." Sol, conversationalist extraordinaire. "But I'm not here for tourist trinkets." He turns, looking directly at Echo with his cat-like eyes.
"I saw you do real magic. School of Illusion. But your reputation seems to lie in darker stuff. I've no talent for that side." He turns back to the room, looking at a few more pieces here and there. "Tried it once. Ended up blowing the whole corpse up. Hell of a mess. I'm too full of living energy."
Sol looks to Echo again, returning his attention to her. "So." His eyes flash down, then back up, quickly. He cuts to the chase. "What do you need to be able to speak to the dead?"
"Straights? I am afraid I don't follow," Echo replied plaintively, putting her teacup and saucer down on the table. It's filled with what looks like dark tea. "Somewhat--it is required to move about in this world, lest I send most humans screaming, of course I have to be even warier of those my appearance makes... curious," Echo grins, snickering at that. Damn furries.
"A corpse is a delicate thing--care must be taken or time and the elements will ravage it--not to mention what you might have been attempting, someone you need shuffle off, recently, then?" she moved to sit at the large wooden table--it seemed to have been taken from somewhere else--the wood old, but not necessarily of the highest class, either.
"A corpse, and monetary compensation--typically. Your interference at the library building however allowed me and my friend to escape, so I'm of the mind to make an exception," she nodded, her yellow eyes watching him. "I am in your dept, sirrah--the corpse must still be able to speak, and not hostile to you--what I do doesn't return it's soul to it's body--it's akin to animating it with a temporary spirit, do you follow?" she rapped red nails against the table's surface.
Sol listens, and his attention doesn't waver. She's talking about magic and magic is always interesting and magic always demands your attention. It's one of the few things he takes seriously, given his history of being a magical physicist.
"Yea, well. No one needs to go dredging up this soul from the depths anyway. Only one place it could end up." He clearly isn't speaking of a good person. Whoever it is he's interested in. "But money isn't a problem. Services rendered, services paid. Simple rules."
He walks towards the table, one hand still holding the gym bag over his shoulder. The other raps lightly at the back of a chair in front of him. "Hostility might be a problem though. We didn't exactly part on good terms." Anyone with even a modicum of ability at reading people would know this is a horrible understatement.
He shifts his weight, adjusting the bag over his shoulder. "By the by, do you need the entire corpse to try something like this?"
"Such an ability is in high demand, also costly," Echo clucked her tongue, showing ivory fangs for eyeteeth briefly. "Highly sought after, and not a thing to be taken lightly. If humans knew I was capable of such there wouldn't be very many places I could ply my trade without being hounded--or kidnapped, or killed," Echo nodded, with some seriousness.
"Then he might not wish to speak with you--the corpse would have the same memory, I may have to conduct the ritual apart from you," she shrugs. "I can be persuasive, luckily, but when one is dead there is not much more they can fear," she looked up at him.
"It must have a mouth and thus the ability to speak, how many pieces is it in?" she asks, tilting her head to one side. "Someone you dealt with personally, I take it, m'lord," she asks, but doesn't seem to require an answer.
Echo isn't wrong. If she's as good as she claims, then discretion is an important thing to keep in mind. But it's not a problem.
"Well. That makes things easier. You won't go talking about anything. What happens between us, stays between us."
"As for the corpse." He hefts the gym bag off and sets it on the table. "It has a mouth. And a face. Below the neck--" He pauses, one hand rubbing his bristled chin. "Not very good shape. I didn't have a shovel with me."
"But I'm fine with your cost. He has information I need. He was helping a human trafficker I've been tracking. Sorceror. Tricky bastard manages to stay one step ahead of me, until I find this low life. Figured I'd get some shit from him, but apparently he'd rather kill himself then rat out this piece of shit sorcerer I've been chasing."
Sol talks rather casually throughout it all. Violence and death don't make him nervous. Nor does carrying around what is presumed to be someone's head in a gym bag. Perhaps it's just another day at work for him.
"So he won't want to talk, but I'm trusting we can change his mind. He doesn't know he's not a real soul. He doesn't know what we can or can't do to him for the rest of eternity. I'm sure one of us could think up something persuasive enough, if you can get him to wake up long enough for a chat."
"Correct, that will be part of our deal, also--you will gain my discreet, unquestioned assistance in this task, gratis--which I will perform to the best of my ability," she says affirmatively, then grins. "Just a head? Well then, I've dealt with 'talking heads' before, haha..." she giggles a little, listening with some interest to the grisly details that Sol accounts. As she is a resident of Makai, these things do not bother her--at worst, they come across as interesting or amusing.
"Well, lacking the rest of his body isn't technically a problem, either--if his head will not speak, we can always give him a new body, which can then be 'convinced' to speak of what you desire," she grinned a little cheekily, making a few knife-jabbing movements in the air with her hands.
"That will require more work however, and more of my time, but... I'll see what I can do, should it come to that. Is that fair to repay your good deed of saving me and the woman?" she looks up at Sol, smiling.
"We have a deal." Sol says, all business. "We'll see what we can get out of him before we go through the trouble of frankensteining him."
He lowers the edges of the gym bag, revealing the head within. It's a human male, mid 40's, pained expression frozen on his face for all of time. Or it would have been anyway. His face is weathered and scarred, and has apparently bled itself out already.
"If you need any help, I can lend you enough mana to do whatever you need to do." He says this with full confidence. It isn't a matter of ego, it's a matter of fact. Whatever is needed, Sol will get. Whether he has to tear open a rift into the Backyard or head over to China Town and find a goat to slit. Sol is business.
"Oh, so you're very proactive--I wasn't aware you were carrying it with you. I simple thought the scent of blood and tissue had clung to you from your past battles," Echo grinned a little, putting down some newspapers from a pile behind the counter for the head to sit on. She didn't want to get any of him on the table. Lest she need to scrub it down with cleaning agent.
"Might want to tell me what you wish the questions to be--and stand back," she also retrieved a roll of incense from behind the counter, setting them in some white enameled holders that were long, tapered--with skulls at the end. "Like them? Got them in Mexico, lovely festivals down there, pity about the smell, however," she said as an aside, helping getting the incense and head set into a position where it was accessible, lighting the former.
Again, Sol watches. He takes a seat in the chair in front of him, observing all the details of what Echo is doing. He has no experience in this field of magic, so everything she does is very interesting.
"Stand back? When I have a front row seat? There's no fun in that." He scoots the chair backwards a little. Only a little. "Cute candlesticks."
When asked about his questions, he has to stop and pause to think carefully. "I want to know where to find the sorceror who calls himself Jasper Thorne. Failing that, because he may not actually know how, I want to know how he was contacted by Thorne for the assistance he gave him. His contacts. Sometimes contacts are just as good, when you know how to use them." Or beat information out of them.
"Well, as I said before--if he can see or hear you it might be more hesitant to respond to my questions," Echo replied, getting into position and raising her arms. After a few moments, she closed her eyes--re-opening them to reveal a reddish glow. As if guided by the wind, the smoke of the incense began to travel toward the head--drawing into the eyes, nose and mouth as if being sucked inside by some internal vacuum.
The bat lady's wings unfurled partially around her, semi-blocking Sol from periphereal vision, which was intentional--as she leaned down and began to speak.
"Where can one find Jasper Thorne?" Echo spoke slowly, her voice lower--more sultry, sounding as if she was speaking to a lover. After a few moments, there was a wretched /stirring/ of the head's eyes and mouth, the tissue creaking as the bat woman bent over at the waist to be more eye-level with it.
"Speak..." she traced a finger across the dead flesh of the forehead, as if trying to elicit a response. It didn't seem to be forthcoming.
Sol has to admit that Echo does have a point about Sol being seen. It may be easier for her if he's not front and center. He scoots back another foot, then lowers the brim of his hat down further. With all his hair tucked under it, save the pony tail behind him, he may not be instantly recognizable.
But then Echo stands in front of him, which is for the best anyway. She unfurls her wings and he can't help but stop to examine them from his chair. They're not at all similar to the ones that he's been known to produce.
Echo speaks, and Sol has to arch a brow. Her methods are different very different, from Sol's intimidation and threatening techniques. But he has to admit that she sounds extremely persuasive like that. Perhaps more to the living than the dead however. She bends over to get right up in the head's grill, and Sol is momentarily distracted from the necromancy by the long dress.
This isn't exactly how he pictured necromancy. For something dealing with the dead, it seems strangely full of life. But maybe that's the trick. Remind the dead what it means to be alive, in a sense.
The bat lady's wings are a light gray, and obviously hairless--as they would need to be, as a bat and all. There was a reason they were referred to as 'leather wing' in the Proto-Baltic languages, after all--among others.
"Might need to be more forthcoming, dear," Echo leaned closer, letting the plunging neckline of her dress seem more apparent, turning the severed head on it's stump more directly towards her.
"How did Jasper Thorn contact you for the assistance you gave him...?" Echo asks again, this time her voice the same sensual, low, purring tone. She let her nails drag over the side of the head's forehead and scalp, though not hard enough to dig into the tissue.
The eyes and mouth of the head stirred, but it only emitted a plaintive wail this time, causing Echo to frown. Damn head.
Sol watches. It's more of a seduction than anything, but the head isn't really responding. Not in the positive or negative. It's altogether possible that it's far too damaged to be of use. If it's just a host animating it, perhaps there isn't enough brain left to fuel it.
It was a longshot anyway. Consider the night something of a learning process. He didn't learn much about necromancy, but it was somewhat entertaining to watch Echo at work. Sol couldn't help but wonder what other services she might offer.
A loud gutteral sound emits from the head, as if it's suddenly struggling to speak. Its eyes spin in their sockets, then fixate on Echo. It looks directly at her, and suddenly an altogether different kind of magic can be sensed. It's a trap.
It all happens very quickly. The face twists into a warped grin, but it's not from the reanimation. It's something else. A blue runic symbol appears on the forehead and instantly flares into life. Something grabs Echo and spins her around and then a shockwave hits the area, centered on the head and table, rocking the small boutique with the sound of a deafening thunderclap.
It takes a minute for the buzzing to subside and vision to come back into focus.
Sol is standing, one arm wrapped around Echo's waist, holding her away from the head and his other arm outstretched to shield. His face is ducked down low, close to Echo's, and his breathing comes slow and deep. His entire form is tensed, as if waiting for something more.
The head is gone. Obliterated in a horrid display. The shockwave itself didn't pass Sol and never reached the front of the boutique, but the back where the table was looks like a small hurricane swept through.
"What the fuck...? That's not supposed to..." she drew her lips back, annoyed, eyes darting around. Echo has been around Hollywood and the East coast long enough to have this kind of reaction, she learns quick. She is however unprepared for the apparently magical defense that was placed on this tidbit of corpse.
"Aieee!" she yelps as the head /explodes/ (as heads are wont to do, under great pressure) and she's flung along with Sol away from the explosion, being /shielded/ by him and tucked against him like some damsel in distress. It's... not entirely unpleasant for Echo, either--save for the fact her entire shop is likely coated in bits of the exploded head.
"Kind of embarrassed, must admit--I thought that would work," Echo looked up at Sol apologetically, grasping the front of his shirt as she shifted her legs to get back to her feet. She ran a hand through her hair and fixed her dress, looking about.
"Well, he /is/ dead," she said, hands against her hips.
Sol doesn't release her right away. He remains rooted to the spot, breathing heavily, until he's sure it's finished. He's seen spells with repeated blowback before.
His arm releases her. "No, it's my fault. I should have suspected there might have been a safety placed on him." He turns, surveiling the damage. It's more cosmetic than physical destruction, but it's still a wretched mess. "I brought him here. It's my fault for being careless."
"It's why he refused to talk when he was alive. Why he killed himself rather than give up any information. He likely knew what was placed on him and preferred death. I doubt Thorne would suspect I'd try to reanimate him. It's not my forte and it's not standard practice. It probably just reacted to the head starting to open up. It /was/ going to work."
He turns back to Echo. "So much for being square, eh? Wish I knew a cantrip for cleaning up, but the best I can do is offer to clean up the old fashioned way."
"What was it...?" Echo asks, finally when she's released, smoothing her dress and hair out. "I have a paint pole I can attach a sponge to, I should be fine," Echo glances around, cringing a little. "I don't even know if I /can/ resurrect someone without a body like that, hrm... I'll have to consult a resource," she waved it off. "Sounds like someone really didn't want you to get that information, it could have been some hex... placed upon him, I am embarrassed for having not thought of it before I tried to cast the spell," she moved to the door, flipping the sign that said 'closed' around to face outward, and locking the door. The inside facade of the door and window of the shop had bits of charred flesh sticking to it, as if a hamburger had exploded inside a restaurant window.
"I could treat you to dinner after we get cleaned up, at least...?" she smiled at him, hints of her ivory fangs showing over the ruby red lips.
Sol shakes his head slowly. "Protection. The kind of protection a human trafficker puts on someone. You rat them out, your head explodes. Rune magic, concealed and buried. Hard to detect because there's usually no trace visible. If you know what to look for, sure. But still."
He looks around again. The mess is localized to the rear of the boutique at least. There's an abrupt cut off from where Sol had shielded Echo and thrust his arm out, as if he prevented anything from passing further into the room. Onto all the trinkets and charms that litter the front. Sol understood, when he saw them. For the straights. For the few that wander into the shop, curious to see what's inside, and often leaving with a trinket or charm. The front handles day to day expenses. Sol understood that much when he thrust his arm out and took the brunt of the explosion.
Echo offers him dinner and he can't help but laugh. At the absurdity of the notion. At the entire situation. Maybe if he'd stop underestimating Thorne he'd have caught him by now. Maybe if he wasn't paying so much attention to Echo's 'techniques' then he'd have noticed something before the trap was triggered. Maybe maybe maybe.
"Only a Darkstalker would think about food after cleaning up someone's exploded mess. Get me a sponge. I'm sure I'll need a drink by the time this place is clean."
Log created on 20:24:54 09/07/2019 by Echo, and last modified on 04:44:29 09/08/2019.