Corwin tries to get some info on the supernatural, Alexander catches wind and follows, but it's Ravenna who saves the day.
Adler's Vintage, Marina & Waterfront, San Francisco
Thursday, October 22, 2015, Early Evening
It is one of those in-between times at The Adler House, tourists are finishing up their days, and headed to dinner. It's too early for the 'Money Crowd' to be out. A man in a black denim duster sits at a table addressing a nervous-looking fellow in a black three piece suit. "Look Partner, I asked for relevant information to my question. You know? Who? What? Why? Where? When? And you bring me some trinket from Tucumcari? What gives?" The 'Suit' starts to sweat, "Honestly, it's all I could come up with. It's worth the price. I'm telling you strange, strange things happen to the person who possesses this. You asked for anything that could give you a leg up. You won't have to search for 'strange things' Corey. They will come to you....Or things will happen that should lead to that." The fellow in the duster gives the 'Suit' a baleful stare. "Bullshit. Jayce." The 'Suit' replies, "Corey, I'll pay you to take the damned thing off my hands. Just take it." The man in the denim duster pulls out his phone, and hits a few buttons, "Get the Hell out of my sight, you're money's in the bank. Leave it on the table." The 'Suit' sets an object wrapped in a white kerchief on the table, and hastily departs. Taking a sip from his wine glass, the seated gentleman begins to unwrap what was placed before him.
Seated in a corner of the venue, Alexander sips at some wine. It's red, but that's about all he could tell you if you asked him. He's not even paying attention to the wine - its flavor, its scent, its richness. No, Alexander has eyes for only one thing - the white handkerchief on a table nearby. Or rather, what was in it. His sources had been correct when they indicated that a trinket of particular noteworthiness was potentially changing hands. Just how this source had come across such information was something he didn't question. He knew better, in the business he was in. He wasn't close enough to hear the conversation, so the strange warning given by the peculiar man in the suit is unknown to him. Not that he would have listened. An artifact is an artifact, meant to be collected - by him, preferably. He bides his time, slowly turning over potential angles in his head by which he might acquire the item. Stealing in public wasn't really his style. He'd have to be more creative than that.
Ravenna has been behind the counter casually watching the exchange between Corwin and his 'friend'. When the suit gets up to leave, she'll wait a few moments before she walks over, and folds her hands behind her back. Leaning close so Corwin can hear her whisper she smirks. "This is my place of business, not some back alley bar or Accorded Neutral Territory to do shady deals in."
Corwin stops unwrapping the parcel before him, and turns his head. He grins, "Well Hello, Ravenna. Fancy meeting you here. Actually, I do owe you an apology. This isn't my usual mode of operation. But I had a hunch that doing this here, in this place, might be safer than some back alley. But it isn't a 'shady deal'. I offered cash for services rendered, and your liquor license isn't in danger whatsoever." He sighs, "I also have a feeling that this little endeavor might not have gone unnoticed entirely by others. I'll behave, and any trouble won't happen here if I can help it."
Alexander watches quietly as a woman approaches the figure who had just 'acquired' the item in question. Not just any woman, however, but a woman who works here. Pursing his lips, he swirls the wine around in its glass and casually looks around, admiring the decor. This could complicate things, if his quarry was associated with the staff. Standing up he walks towards the counter with the intent to set his glass down, casually listening in on the conversation between the couple. He only catches bits and pieces of Corwin's response, but it’s enough to gather the woman is apparently not pleased by the deal going down here. Narrowing his eyes, Alexander casually flicks his left wrist as he walks and the room is bathed in color. Magic. Magic everywhere. This could be trouble. The woman in particular is lit up, her aura resonating powerfully. The man at the table to a lesser extent. Was -anyone- in this city normal? Apparently not. But either way, the handkerchief is now halfway open. And since its only halfway open, that means he has no clear sight of its contents to confirm the information he was fed. Mulling the matter over, he kills the aura detection to save himself the trouble of looking at a kaleidoscope the rest of the evening. "Curious," he murmurs to himself, setting the empty glass down on the counter.
"It's not a fancy meeting me in a business that I own." Tilting her head she rights herself and shakes her head. "It's a deal none the less, and seeing that you seem weary and secretive about what you're unwrapping I might not want what you have here in the shop. So tell me, Turnip, when things do go awry, and my shop is damaged who is going to be signing the check?" She does move her hand over the handkerchief and slowly push it back over whatever is inside.
And the parcel is uncovered. It's a necklace, silver in color, with a multifaceted black stone set in an ornate, gothic looking greyish-silver setting. Corwin glances down at it, and says "I will cover whatever your insurance doesn't Ravenna. See, this is just useless. I got taken. The fellow said that it attracted 'strange things', or 'doings' or whatever. Do You see anything different?" He picks up his glass and knocks back the rest of his wine. Rather loudly he says, "And buy a bottle of whatever that fellow with the ornate cane in his hand is having. He's having way too much fun with this."
Alexander was casually leaning against the bar, looking over the assortment of wines on offer, when he heard someone loudly referring to a cane. He knew for a fact it was a stab at him. Turning around slowly, he narrows his eyes at the table. His expression is blank, his lips pulled tightly together into a thin line. Tapping the cane twice against his foot, his eyes flit to the table. And he spots the necklace. His eyes widen ever so slightly, and he licks his lips. A necklace. Looked promising, too. Finely wrought, at first glance, with a gemstone set into it. The auras come back and he rather suddenly presses himself against the counter, backing away from the table. That aura was not what he expected. No one warned him the necklace was...dark magic. Hissing through his teeth, he says "You know not what you toy with."
Once that cloth is removed away from the artifact, Ravenna scowls. It's not hard to miss that feel of the aura rolling off of that necklace, and she narrows her eyes at Corwin. "Useless? How daft are you?" Her action is quick as her hand slips into her pocket and pulls out a wine key. Flicking open the small knife on it that is usually used to remove the foil wrapping on wine bottles, she stabs it into the table and starts creating a circle around the necklace, gouging a shallow mark in the table. "Move, get away from it before it affects you." She's nearly snarling at this point as she uses a bit of magic to seal the token behind the circle.
Corwin reacts quickly, and rolls from his chair. He hits the floor deftly, and comes up gracefully near the Fellow holding the ornate cane, and wearing silver buckles on his shoes. A 'Benjamin' is placed on the counter smoothly. "Get the Gentleman a drink. He looks like he could use it." He leans in closer to the man, and says softly, "So, this some kind of set-up? Gawd help you if it is." He glances towards Ravenna, and watches her curiously.
Alexander watches as the woman begins cutting a circle into the table around the necklace, which is still resting on the white cloth. An eyebrow arches in curiosity as he observes the action, something nagging at him. What did she hope to do with that? Then she casts the spell and he spots the fibers of magical energy surrounding the circle. Some kind of shield, perhaps? Impossible for him to tell without further study. Something that there will clearly be no time for, as Corwin is suddenly next to him saying something. He's only half paying attention, but he does extend Corwin the courtesy of an answer. "You, sir, have just come into possession of a talisman seeped in dark magic. You had better hope whatever -she-" he points at Ravenna with his cane "is doing will contain its influence." Muttering under his breath, he brings his cane down sharply to tap the floor. "May the Powers help you if she can't." He tilts his head to the side as he watches Ravenna, the gears turning. But he has nothing in his arsenal to seal away dark magic.
Ravenna quietly murmurs a few words and takes a moment to look her circle over before she walks rather quickly over to Corwin and Alexander. "I should ban you for bringing something so vile into my store. Did you have any sort of intentions with that thing, or are you that ignorant of what you are dealing with when it comes to cursed objects?" Turning toward Alexander she sighs. "My apologies sir, this is not normally what happens in my shop, I am simply a vintner peddling my wares.”
Corwin looks a bit surprised. He shakes his head, and says "Wait a minute, are you saying that little trinket is dangerous?" He looks back to the table, "Look, things have gotten kind of strange for me lately. I've got my own secrets....But, it's obvious that others do too." He takes a deep breath, and let's it out. "Look Ravenna, I just sent some feelers out to some contacts of mine for information on 'strange occurrences'. I thought I would get files, micro-fiche, a thumb-drive, or something that I could use. I didn't expect some trinket from a carnival would cause such a fuss." As the bottle of wine is delivered on the counter with a glass, He turns to the fellow with the ornate cane, "Have a drink. My name is Corwin, Why have you been 'bird-dogging' me tonight?"
Alexander blinks at Ravenna, performing a sort of half-bow and nod. "It's quite alright, my dear lady. You have no need to defend your establishment's reputation to me. I can tell from the ambience that you run a very serious operation here." The bottle appears and Alexander stares at it. "I do not believe now is the time for a drink," he says crisply. Frowning at the table, he points at the necklace with his cane. "Regardless of your apparent ignorance, something must be done about that relic. I regretfully admit to being unprepared for this sort of matter. I cannot lend any aid in the disposal of items of such a nature without the proper tools." Sighing, he rubs his temples with the thumb and middle finger of his left hand. He latches onto something Corwin says and in a rather flat tone says "I was informed that a hand-off was going to take place of a relic with an unknown nature. I make it a point to monitor, heavily, exchanges of objects that are not directly handled by my person. It is a specialty of mine, you see, to guarantee that things like this," he says with a gesture at the table "Do not take place. Appropriate measures should be taken when items of such a magical deviance are being tampered with."
"I don't typically damage my tables for fun and profit." Ravenna says flatly before she takes the bottle away from Corwin. "No wine for you, not after this. So you had a strange day so you decide to track down cursed objects? You keep saying you didn't fall off of a turnip truck, but I'm beginning to believe that was a lie." Turning back to Alexander she nods her head. "I will do my best to be rid of it, but it might take some time. These things are not easy unraveled, but I have has resources at my disposal."
Corwin looks from Ravenna to the Fellow with the cane in amazement. “Okay, do you two want to explain to me exactly what is going on? And Partner, I still didn't catch your name. What's the big deal about that trinket?”
Alexander blinks, narrowing his eyes slightly at Ravenna. This woman meant business. "Turnip truck?" he asks with a faint hint of confusion and curiosity in his tone. Shaking his head, he says "Never mind." To Corwin, he says "The name is Hawthorne. And you are apparently deaf and dumb to determining the true nature of an object. Fortunately for you, the lady is Aware of such things." Leaning closer to Corwin, he says softly "You should be very happy you didn't conduct this exchange in some back alley. I have no doubt in my mind that something very, very ugly would have happened to you long before anyone with a clue what to do about that necklace came along." To Ravenna, his tone is softer, not exactly warm but not nearly as icy. "And yes, I completely understand the difficulty of dealing with such things." Pursing his lips, he stares at the necklace on the table. Leaning back on the counter, he drums the fingers of his left hand against it. "Normally I would be better equipped to dampen the effects of such a thing in order to properly contain it. What did you have in mind, madam?"
"I don't think I have enough hours in the day to explain everything to you." Shaking her head, Ravenna shrugs one of her shoulders. "There are places where these exchanges should go down, they're safe environments where stray magic cannot affect other people." When Alexander asks what she has in mind, she gives a half smirk and shakes her head. "And give away all my secrets now? I think not. I need to get this taken care of, I hope you gentlemen have a good day." With that, she'll take the table, with the help of one of her employees into the back room and out of sight.
Corwin chuckles as Ravenna leaves, "Now that's a Lady." His attention rivets back to the young man next to him. He gives the fellow a 'Once-Over' look. "You have been 'bird-dogging' me this evening. Now I promised that pretty little gal no trouble in here. So, 'Mr. Hawthorne'.....You interested in that little trinket or something else? What's your game?" He leans in a little closer and whispers, "You've already gave away the choice bits. What I want to know is why do you look twenty-something, and act like you are a middle-aged? What's your game?"
As Ravenna and her employee haul the table off, Alexander relaxes visibly. The interesting woman gone, he turns his attention to the peculiar man standing awfully close to him. "I have no idea what you are referring to. I have no animals hidden under my coat, be they birds, dogs, or otherwise. And last I checked, I wasn't the one having an illicit exchange in someone else's shop. You certainly did a poor job of 'not delivering trouble' so please do not attempt to pin this on me." Looking particularly ruffled, he continues "I have no interest in an item of such dark intent. And as for my behavior, I assure you there is nothing abnormal about it. If anything, I would say you are the suspicious one." He taps his cane twice on the ground.
Corwin chuckles, "My you are an odd duck. At least Ravenna can pull this veneer of society over herself. " He gives the fellow with the ornate cane a dead serious look. "You knew this was going down here tonight. That's okay. You can judge me the way you want. I played a hunch that Ravenna would know how to handle anything I couldn't. And before you get full of yourself, I can handle plenty. The question remains Mr. Hawthorne, why does your body language and speech differ from your age? And more importantly, what were you looking to snatch from that table? As they say these days, 'Inquiring Minds want to know.', And I'm inquiring. Here's my card. Call the number when you're ready to talk." Corwin smiles a bit, "I would hate to have to hunt you down."
Alexander blinks and stares at Corwin. The card is snatched out of his hand, but slipped into a pocket instead of being tossed. After all, one never knows when a contact, no matter how suspicious or peculiar, might be useful. "Sir, you should be more concerned about your future dealings. If I am given to understand your motives correctly, there have been certain events you have been witness to which are causing you curiosity. If an 'Inquiring Mind Wants to Know,' said Mind should be aware that 'Curiosity Killed the Cat.” Alexander pivots on the ball of his foot and walks away from Corwin. "You just remember that, Sir, before you go sticking your nose into things you clearly have no understanding of." With a huff Alexander is out the door. Odd duck indeed.