A man talking to thin air in a city park turns out to be quite a bit more than a certain wizard expected to meet...
San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge Park
It's later in the day, not quite dusk, but with relatively pleasant, if not a bit cool, weather, there are still a number of people out and about. It's easy to note, however, that even as they go about their business glued to little glowing screens in their hands, people are traveling in groups for the most part. And why not? A recent murder in the area has set people on edge, just a bit, and safety often comes in numbers.
A youngish man, perhaps mid twenties, but sporting a short beard and longish hair, sits alone on a park bench, his very solitude making him stand out just a touch. Wide-cut jeans, comfortable and worn-looking boots, an almost stereotypical plaid button up, and a longish, black woolen coat reaching mid-thigh complete a look that would be almost hipster were he wearing thick glasses or an ironic hat.
The man is talking, both voice and face somber, to an empty space next to him on the bench, voice just low enough that it wouldn't carry unless one drew closer.
Ravenna is a rarity in this city, a young lady in her mid-twenties not glued to a shining screen. Instead her eyes up upward looking at the people who pass by her, feeling almost invisible as people seem to care more about the world held in their hands than the one they are existing in. She has on a light sweater over a t-shirt with an 'Addler's Vintage' logo on it, and a pair of jeans.
The man on the bench does catch her attention, not only because he is apparently talking to himself because he is one of the few with out a cellphone. For a moment she pauses on the path near the beach and tilts her head while nibbling on her lip. It's easy to see there is some internal debate going on in her mind, but whatever the out come is, it's obvious that it ends with a gentle shake of her head as she continues to observe.
The conversation Dumah is having is definitely not your garden-variety crazy, by the look of it. For one, his pauses are natural, and while not speaking, he nods, smiles, even chuckles. Even more telling are his eyes, which stay fixed on a single point, about where one would expect the biggish man (and he is certainly large) to be looking in a normal-sized human's eyes. Then, there's the movement, where the hand on the side of the 'person' he's talking to goes to rest on an imaginary shoulder... and doesn't waver.
As Ravenna gets closer, his muffled speech gets a bit clearer, “...going to need to accept a few things. It wasn't your fault, no matter what he might have said. You were the victim. So you need to forgive yourself. That's the only way you'll be able to move on.”
Ravenna is still watching and as she gets closer and hears the conversation, there is a pang of recognition on her face as she realizes that is going on. So, she takes several steps closer, keeping her hands clasped behind her back and letting the man finish his conversation. As she gets closer she spots Dean and his little gadget and it causes her to pause for a second, but decides to address the bearded man. "Is someone lingering longer than they should?" She asks with a smile on her face.
“That's why I'm here, actually,” Dumah replies to some unheard question. “When it's come...” He then pauses, as the spirit, assumedly, notices the noise and newcomers. That causes a frown, as his eyes track the spirit move, stand, and run away, “No!” He calls out, his voice higher, louder, as he watches it flee. Then, eyes turn to Ravenna, enough that he makes direct eye contact... contact that lets her know in a single moment that she just interrupted something far more ancient than he appears... contact that he immediately breaks the moment it's felt.
However, it's enough that Dumah's look of annoyance fades, as well, “Yes. Poor thing... stuck here for nearly a week on her own.”
Ravenna feels that pull, that accidental slip when Ravenna catches someone's eyes for the first time. That glimpse is enough to know that she isn't dealing with some sort of human, or even a fellow wizard such as herself and she quickly covers her eyes and takes a step back. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" For the moment she just keeps her hand over her eyes for the moment. "I thought you were an ectomancer, I didn't mean to scare her off. I can help you find her... maybe."
A soft chuckle escapes Dumah, then, as he shakes his head. “She can't go far. She's still fresh enough to be rooted to the area...” He pauses, tipping his head to the side, sniffing, “she's already nearly at the edge of her range. Since she died a few feet from here, she'll return to her Anchor soon enough. For now... she'll be too spooked, if you'll forgive the pun, to talk.”
“Ectomancer?” Dumah responds, shaking his head. “Not exactly. I've met a few, though... some quite likable Others little more than charlatans.”
Ravenna still has her hand over her eyes while he explains himself, but she finally parts her fingers and looks out to the area that he was suggesting and nods. "Fascinating. Granted the ghosts I have dealt with are usually long dead, or angry." Since he doesn't seem all that concerned about where the recent dead went she decides to at least take the vacated spot on the bench. Offering her hand for shaking, she doesn't turn to face him again, obviously not wanting to accidentally see his eyes again. "Ravenna, I'm usually not this terrible at messing up other peoples jobs."
There's a moment of silence, and then a brief pulse of magic, before Dumah speaks again. “No need to avert your eyes any more, little one. My apologies for subjecting you to that.” He leans back on the bench as well, and if she does look toward him, she'll see that he's shrouded his eyes. Indeed, the look might be unsettling; empty sockets usually are. The offered hand isn't directly taken, however... he looks at it a moment, before shaking his head once more, “Nothing was 'messed up'. She wasn't ready to listen. Some must hear it two, three, a dozen times.”
That magic tingles across her skin and when Ravenna looks back, she quickly looks away. "That is not something you see every day." Her eyes are a touch wide and since her her hand isn't going to be shaken she lets it fall to her lap as she looks out over the park. That is the second hand shake that was rejected since she moved into town. "So you gently lead them along where they are supposed to go. I suppose that is far more elegant than what I was taught growing up."
“Sometimes,” Dumah responds, another nod at the ready. “Sometimes they do need a little push, but since the alternative is deeply unsettling and damaging to the soul, I do what I can.” A brow raise, then, as he tilts his head, “Now, knowing there are many differing lines of teaching about death and the afterlife, you have my curiosity. Which particular line of story were you brought up with?”
"The unknown is always unsettling." Ravenna admits as she adjusts the jacket on her shoulders. "Though I have a feeling that you know more about what comes after than I do." She says with a smirk and when she turns to look at him again she can't help but look at the eye less gaze. It takes a second for his question to register and she shakes her head. "It was all very practical, my upbringing. We have laws that we abide by, and breaking any one of them has severe consequences. One of those is the binding of unwilling spirits, we can communicate with the dead if they are willing. Though what happens after death, isn't ever spoken about with any certainty."
“Ah! You /are/ a magi, then! I suspected, what with the meeting of our eyes. Let me warn you, then, don't use your Sight on me, although I'm sure you gathered that..” Dumah says, looking back out toward the other people pass by. His voice is still low enough that it doesn't carry, and his head moves as he watches something, yet again invisible to the naked eye. “I've heard of the Laws. And I approve. The binding of spirits, fresh or broken, is something I am quite against.” He then turns that eyeless gaze back at the young woman, “However, you didn't answer the question. Your peers may not specifically offer any teaching in this, but that doesn't mean there is none. Every culture has its share of myths and legends about the afterlife, and those who meddle in it. Knowing this helps me discern where you would put my kind in all of this.”
"Yeah that is the tricky part of my power, I can accidentally learn more than I want to about a person by just having an accidental glance." When he mentions the sight she shakes her head. "No, no. No, no, uhm no. That will not be happening. That is not something I do ever, unless it's absolutely needed. We had a great uncle go mad once from using his sight too much, I would not like to follow in his footsteps." When he asks for further explanation she shrugs her shoulders. "I can't ignore the fact that there is some being that is giving his followers power. Enough faith will keep even the most blood thirsty of creatures away. I have never really been at ease with one entity to rule them all, but I can't deny such a presence."
“We call it Father.” Dumah states, simply enough, “And the others, The Powers that Be.” He grins, “There's no one truth that can be stated, none of us see the whole of it fully. Faith, hope, all very powerful. Holy artifacts work because of them, and we exist because of them.” He's quiet for a moment. “Name's Doug, by the way. Or that's at least what I have you people call me.”
"Cosmic beings that have more power than we dare to dream of, yet remain humble despite their abilities. Perhaps it is all the same across the board, it's just different interpretations of who he might be. Granted everyone thinks that they're right and their way is the only way but that is the nature of humans, is it not?" When he offers his name she smirks. "I'm guessing that's the easiest way to say whatever you are called. It is a pleasure to meet you Doug."
“Humble?” The word comes off as rather incredulous coming out of Dumah's lips, and there is even a hint of laughter to it. “I guess a few may be such.” He looks off in the distance yet again. “Don't go telling yourself that I'm one of them, though. Allowing it would be Pride on my part, and we can't be having any of that. I'm much like you, a resident of this world, bound to it as you are. I just serve Father's plan.” Another grin, and if his eyes were visible, they'd likely sparkle. “And what do you have others call you, little magi? I know names have power, but I'm sure there's one you use.”
"Well you haven't really said what you are, so it's hard for me to lump you in with the rest." Ravenna says with a hint of a smile. "Pride is is a tricky sin to deal with, I"ll be sure not to let my opinion of you go to my head." She replies in a light tone. When he asks for her name she raises her brow. "Have you forgotten it already, or were you mesmerized by my offer at a handshake earlier? I go by Revenna." At this, Dumah pauses, “Ah, yes, you did. I'm sorry. I seem to recall you offering that right when the screamer was going off. Be glad you only see one skin of this world unless you want to.” At the rest, he smiles, and answers, “I'm... unique. Not certain how many like me there are, I know of perhaps three or four others on this coast. Usually artists render us with black wings, hooded cloaks, and... for all that it's never made sense to me, a scythe in hand. Never took to using weapons, or doing farm work, but it sticks.”
"I only look at it when it is dire, and it's rarely pleasant when I do. I pity you if it is something you cannot shut off." It takes her a moment to put the pieces together and when she does she'll tilt her head at him. "Well, it's hard to be called grim when you're named Doug. There are not a lot of White Council wizards in this area, well aside from my family but they're a little further north, so I know the feeling. Not that I want to be surrounded by them or anything." She'll purse her lips together as she thinks it over. "I think they just chose that weapon because it's so imposing, and that is what death is supposed to be, this imposing force on the horizon, something inevitable that we all will face, regardless of how many centuries we spend here."
“Grim was an added touch of more modern fare. Reaper is as good as...” Dumah then pauses, taking a moment to stand, a frown covering his face. “Now?” He appears to be addressing the air, “Truly, it would be rude if...” Again, he pauses, looking upward a bit. “Of course.” He looks over to Ravenna, “I am Called. I'm sorr...”
In that moment, he's simply gone in a flash of near blinding light that no one else seems to respond to.
Ravenna winces at the bright light as Doug disappears and sighs. "What the hell was that, celestial paging? Do people even use pagers any more? Does it look bad that I'm talking to myself." Getting to her feet, Ravenna resumes the walk that was temporarily disrupted by a Reaper.