2020-01-25 - Wisdom over Tea and Shortbread


Ambrose seeks out the wisdom of the Trickster God after being thoroughly haunted by his past.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Jan 25 08:21:34 2020
Location: Cover Story - Back Room

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Even if he was spooked enough to race home after the entire affair in Battery Park (which Thor might have mentioned in passing to the Trickster God, given it was a matter of ill magic summoned with ill tidings), Ambrose refuses to remain denned away in the manor he shares with Kent. Call it one parts pride, two parts ego, and one-hundred percent adrenaline-seeking foolhardiness, but he dares to leave the Phurba-protected walls to take a subway car to the borough wherein lies Cover Story. Here, he knows, is protected too by a mage of great power if unpredictable mien, and here he can find answers.

The front bell rings as Ambrose slips inside and shuts the door with a sharp snap. His hand even lingers upon it as if he might use his shoulder against someone suddenly encroaching from outside, but no one shows — thank the gods. Blowing a weary sigh, the Jackal then leans more of his weight against it and drags his other hand down his face.

"Bloody hell," he breathes as he tries to compose himself in his lean. His heart is still beating in the base of his throat.

Having been added to the wards, Ambrose's arrival would send a notification to Loki, not a bad one - a semi-friendly one 'Oh, hey, this guy you sort of like just entered. FYI!'. Now LENA's message would be 'That disrespectful thief just came in. Alarm! Alarm!', VERY different tenor though they essentially function the same.

Moments after Ambrose enters, Loki emerges from the backroom, he's dressed a bit less formally than usual, no tie, no jacket, sleeves rolled up and top couple buttons on the black shirt tucked into black pants undone. He offers a nod to the Jackal as he overcomes his panic attack, well, a mild one and probably justified, but still. "Hello Ambrose, welcome back, can I offer you some tea? Perhaps a sedative?" A faint smirk at the last.

There's likely some amusement to be garnered as Ambrose appears to wish to climb the closed door itself for a split second. Blunt nails scrape down the wood and leave no mark, but he does put a hand to his sternum and swallow hard when he rests his back against it.

"Perhaps the latter mixed into some tea," he agrees breathily, his grimace then twisting into a faint laugh towards the Trickster God. "Prince Loki, I offer my greetings, and thank you for the wards you have set. I have no sense of them, but you are wise — you would set them about your home just as my other half has done." One last glance over his shoulder and the Jackal dares to step further into Cover Story. The master-thief wears a dark field jacket overtop jeans and boots, his own button-down shirt beneath the same hue of blue as a newly-minted sword.

"I…" He pauses with mouth parted to consider his wording. "…come to inquire as to your wisdom in recent matters." Stopping an arm's length from Loki, he does his best to look the mage levelly in the eye.

It is good that Ambrose makes the effort to look Loki in the eyes, he is no respecter of timidity. Respect is not only approved of, it is craved, all too often in his past it was the only coin he lacked. And that markedly altered his perception, disrespect - NOT something he is tolerant of. At all.

Eyes of green are bright, and he motions as if pulling a chair out in front of the counter, and one appears. "Have a seat." He then circles behind the counter and starts tea to steeping, before he settles into his own seat, hands clasped before him. "So…you seek to consult with me? Curious."

Squiggly base discomfort travels down Ambrose's spine at fully meeting those jade-green eyes, but he steels himself. This mage has threatened to end his existence, yes, but he is also a source of aid the Jackal cannot turn away. Regardless, the Bane makes a candleflame's twitch of an appearance deep in his pupils before the Jackal wills the curse down like a defensive dog returned to heel.

He does break gazes to glance down at the sudden appearance of the chair. Another swallow and stepping about, the master-thief seats himself in it across from the proprietor of the store. He sniffs and sucks at one of his canine teeth behind his lips for a second in a nervous tic before he sighs. Hard.

"I admit that I would be consulting my mate, but he has been called by those he calls his masters — those who taught him his own magics. He dare not deny them." This prickles Ambrose by how carmine flashes in the depths of his pupils, but then again, the Jackal has never claimed to be beholden to anyone…or not for long if so. Kent is the only one to have earned his undying loyalty…literally undying. "I come to consult with you as to the walking dead. Not zombies, no, but someone who I knew over a century ago. Someone I knew to be gone until not so long ago."

He goes on to explain, haltingly, how he received a letter scripted by a refined hand in dipped ink and signed by a name he hadn't heard in long — arriving at Battery Park to see not only Thor, but Sif and Fenris and the magician named Zatanna — being confronted by someone who looked, acted, and sounded precisely like Oliver, one of the members of his platoon lost to the very tomb collapse wherein Ambrose was cursed — how the wolf-like creatures summoned appeared to want to take him away — how the offer was unkindly extended to remove the Bane from him.

And Ambrose visibly appears sick after reporting this last tidbit, his hand slipping across his mouth and his eyes closing.

Loki meets Ambrose's gaze steadily, without concern, secure in his primacy and quite calm. Of COURSE the Bane is going to be pricked a bit, Loki rather likes seeing that flare. Even more he likes the fact that Ambrose forces himself past his discomfort to meet the gaze of a God he's seen in full fury - it genuinely impresses the Liesmith that Ambrose came back at all. That takes some balls, he respects balls.

Tea steeped, he pours for his guest first. "Sugar? Lemon? Cream?" His own tea is undoctored, the blend is gunpowder tea - oolong as the base.

"So…your mate is gone, and rightly so to deal with his masters, and that leaves you…unprotected." Why yes, he did indeed notice the nerves. Not that it was subtle.

He listens attentively after preparing and serving his guest the tea, and then nods slowly. "First, were they alive, dead and walking, or accursed dead?"

No mention is made of the loss of the Bane, the sick reaction proves that his gut response when threats needed delivering was right. This man is here, seeking his aid, however, and is a guest.

Ambrose chooses to take his tea with lemon and a dollop or two of cream, given its base. His fingers blessedly do not tremble as he picks up the demi-tasse and sips at it, grateful for the familiar heat and taste sliding down into his gut to warm it from within. It counters the icy butterflies of concern.

"As far as I could tell, Oliver was alive," the Jackal reports, his voice pressed as flat as he can manage in control. He looks down into his tea rather than at the Trickster God seated across from him now. "He addressed me just as he always did before… «Fuck it, get over yourself, Atherton,»" he suddenly hisses in Farsi as he scrunches his eyes tightly shut. "«Stupid — he's just a man, find your balls.»" And with that abrupt self-pep talk given, Ambrose looks up at Loki again.

"The tomb wherein my curse was found collapsed. He was lost to it. Or not — apparently he wasn't. He looked untouched, Loki, untouched!" Ambrose briefly bares his teeth before letting his air out in a slow hissing sigh; the Bane writhes beneath his skin and the balefire glows are back in his pupils. "No…rather, not untouched, I should amend. Withered, yes, aged but not as if a century had passed…only so withered, gaunt at the cheeks, as if he had been starved. He moved cleanly and he was dressed well enough. I do not know if he was alive. I did not dare touch him." Another deep sip of tea seems to settle the Brit.

"So…this was in Battery Park some few nights ago, yes? I sensed some magics there - my brother's lightning summoned, then redirected and repurposed by a mortal, Zatanna Zatara I would assume."

The Trickster studies his guest, then conjures a plate of fresh baked shortbread cookies, from…somewhere. Hopefully upstairs, but who can say? Loki surely is not, he simply takes one to enjoy with his tea.

"Alive, and still very much himself. That is most interesting." Loki not only has Allspeak, he has learned many many languages in their own right, Farsi being one he's fairly fluent in. "Sounds like you and he were rather well acquainted. Were you mates in either sense of the word?" Friends, lovers.

"Did this Oliver display any unusual powers? Magic can extend life, there's a myriad of ways it could be done. Most importantly - his Concentration Camp Chic look, that would support him being potentially /preserved/ by magic, which is seldom kind if given its head."

Loki cants his head to the side, studying Ambrose. "Did he survive your encounter?"

Ambrose confirms the location of Battery Park as well as the action of its occupants with a silent nod. He then goes back to drinking his tea, though he eyes the plate of suddenly-appearing shortbread cookies with dubious curiosity. However, he doesn't take one, with his leeriness in matters hard-earned at the hands of the Fae in his past.

Loki's questions are answered after a long stare dead at him. There's a touch of color to Ambrose's cheeks now; somewhere along the line, the ragged shreds of his Victorian prudery have been firmly yanked.

"I believe Oliver did survive the encounter, yes. I saw no body left behind. He snapped his fingers and the people following behind him began to chant. I do not think this was power on display — or rather, not magical," the Jackal carefully muses. "He was the leader of this…cult." Ambrose wrinkles his nose. "We were not…lovers, no."

Ah, more pink at his cheeks. "We were fellow soldiers and friends. I was his field-lieutenant. He and his brothers looked to me for commands when I lead my platoon. This was long ago, at the turn of the century. I wonder at…revenge."

Ambrose's brows knit. Now his words sound exhausted, devoid of emotion. "It was another soldier who led us into the tomb, but Oliver attempted to extricate us all when a set of trap doors shut. I suspect that when he pulled them open, he triggered another trap yet. I was able to escape with his youngest brother, but Rupert too succumbed to the Bane…before I knew its thirst. Georgie…he was the middle brother. He and James, Oliver…all lost when the tomb collapsed."

A smirk, not unkind, definitely amused. "You are my guest, Ambrose, no debt is incurred, expected or required - eat, if you wish to." Mind - he's right to be cautious. Another thing Loki approves of very much - brains, and not only in the zombie sense - there's a lot of very good dishes made from brains after all.

Loki has never had any level at all of prudery, the man is a father AND a mother for goodness sakes! Judge? Sex is sex, something you do when it seems apropos, or is available, or when bored, or intrigued…it can (and frequently does!) happen at any old time at all, or not. Judge? Not Loki, not about that, to him that's the silliest thing in the world. Desire is desire is desire, whatever form it takes.

Musingly. "I have heard mention, rumors mostly, of Wolf cults - oddly, possibly tied to my Son." A nod. "He doesn't seek such things you see."

A bit of a warm up of his own tea, and the pot held up in silent offer for Ambrose.

"And tell me, Ambrose, has this Rupert survived to the day do you think?" It would be very interesting indeed if there were more than one Bane out there.

"Please," murmurs the Jackal as to more tea. Carefully sipping at it steaming now in his cup, he leans back into his chair with the cup held in his hands as to allow maximum heat to work its way into his chilled fingers. Ambrose has never liked winter. Being raised in the dry heat of the desert has permanently inured him with this distaste for cold.

A shortbread cookie is taken and held after another thoughtful look at the plate. He knows enough about guest rights in the Norse pantheon to recognize this is lacking harm. "I know nothing of any wolf cults. I have no interest in them myself," Ambrose is sure to impress with a surprisingly guileless look towards the Trickster God. No doubt Loki would recognize any hint to deceive as it stands.

"And Rupert died a true death on an Army cot. My curse, it does not…" Slowly shaking his head, he frowns down at his tea again. "It is not shared as a disease might be. If there are others of my kind within the world, I know not of them. The only other accursed man I came across in my travels allowed himself to be eaten alive by it." The Jackal shudders slightly, lips pressed thin. "I watched him…catch afire and burn to naught on the desert salt pans. No. Rupert is long-dead."

Tea is added, and noting the way the cup is cradled, Loki closes those emerald eyes of his a moment to concentrate, invoking a bit of his fire aspect to wrap warmth about the Master Thief like a brotherly embrace. The warmth is deep, penetrating, and quite blocks away any chill the season might impart. Never let it be said Loki is not a good host…of course…that's contingent on the guest understanding and respecting what that means. "A minor blessing, Ambrose, Lieutenant Atherton." He says it with the British 'leftenant', of course.

"Nor do I, most mortal cults are…shallow things. They tend to focus on the wrong things." Loki does have a sense for such things, yes. Granted, he /can/ be tricked, but outright lying to Loki is generally a fool's gambit.

"So, your Bane might well be unique, that's fascinating. And clearly you've come to an accord and accommodation one with each other." And then he nods. "So…my brother does not call down lightning without cause." A pause. "Not USUALLY anyway…I take it there was a fight? Did you get a sense for what these cultists were after?"

At first convinced the warmth is from the tea, Ambrose seems mildly distracted even as he listens. "Blessing?" he mouths to himself. Indeed, he's…warm to the bones now, as if he'd just emerged from a hot shower and were exuding the heat in turn. It makes him blink at Loki, honestly bemused. "…thank you," he adds in something near to a whisper before the Trickster God speaks on.

"There was a fight, yes, and your brother struck true. Oliver and his fellow…cultists appeared to be able to summon creatures. They were like wolves and yet not — disturbing things." It's with a faint laugh that sounds more than half like a whine that he then adds, "…and I believe they were after me."

"Of course." Loki waves off the minor blessing. "Feel true warmth for tonight and tomorrow." So sayeth the Loki, so mote it be done. And since he's a Fire god—it /will/ be done as described.

The 'Off Wolves' intrigue Loki. "I don't suppose you have any samples from one? A hair perhaps, a bit of hide or bone? I should like very much to study such a creature, divine its true nature." A smile. "I would even share my findings with you, lieutenant." Magnanimous of him!

Another cookie or two - he IS Asgardian, they have serious appetites.

"Er…" Ambrose thinks for a second. "No, I do not have any samples on me, hide or hair. Your brother might," he offers with a generous modicum of respect. In his own variant of magnanimity, he doesn't note that Thor's lightning almost killed him when the Thunderer and Zatanna both went after the wolf-creatures dragging him towards Oliver — RUDE.

"I would appreciate that you share any findings you may come across, Prince Loki. With my mate called to Shambhala, it leaves my family without one of its protectors. My daughter and my son-in-law, they are young yet despite their near-century in years. Should I be taken…"

Far more subdued now, he continues, "…I fear for them." Still, the Jackal manages to throw back the rest of his tea with a susurrus of a sigh as it burns down his throat. The shortbread cookie is stashed into a coat pocket.

"I thank you again for your hospitality, your highness, and for your wisdom thus far. If you have more to share, please, do find a way to contact me." Ambrose tries for a smile and succeeds somewhat. It doesn't reach his eyes. "I shall now endeavor to return home to my offspring. They worry so. I shouldn't keep them as such."

In a shocking turn of trust, he also offers Loki his cell phone number before he departs from Cover Story, just in case, because it's been a very, very long time since someone's attempted the Jackal's life like this. Any help will do — and any port in a storm.

Yes, well, Thor can be a bit indiscriminate about things like that - to be fair - lightning is /not/ a precision instrument of violence. Loki is clearly disappointed that there's no samples to study, he'll probably just pop off to the site and see if he can't find something, though he's not very hopeful since it was some days ago.

Having fallen into thoughtful reverie a moment, he shakes his head to clear it, focusing on the man before him, his guest. "I was not aware you had family other than your mate, should they need succor, they can ask it of me. Or can take shelter at the Asgardian Embassy in a pinch, there are adequate wards there, better in my offices of course."

His own eyes glint with amusement. "Fix the image of your home in your mind, Ambrose Atherton." Once that is done Loki invokes a brief spell, touching Ambrose's brow and sending him there in an eye blink - POOF! A brief moment of disorientation, and then the sight of the gates to his manor. Loki's voice softly whispering into his ear. "Be safe."

Back at Cover Story, Loki gathers up the plates and cups, and walks upstairs to deposit them in the kitchen. Behind green eyes his mind is awhirl with intriguing possibilities.

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