2020-02-02 - Threading Memories


What better way to find a lost memory than with a giant magical needle?

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Feb 2 05:17:22 2020
Location: Cover Story

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Theme Song



After spending an enlightening visit with the Shadow Witch, Scathach, on her deserted island of cold mist and sea-blown salt, Ambrose was returned home. Granted, he spent some time in the shower standing and staring at nothing in a form of shock, but a few stiff drinks and some meditation has sorted him out for this evening's adventure: traveling to Cover Story.

Again, the Jackal slinks and remains as anonymous as he can manage in his travels. He arrives and with his usual care, he slips into the book store. The bell rings to announce him, causing him to flinch as he always does at his presence being so OBVIOUS, but it doesn't stop him from shutting it and then looking out across the interior.

"I, uh." Wow, that was a bad start. Ambrose clears his throat and tries again. "Prince Loki, are you here? It is…Lieutenant Atherton. I wish to speak with you about important matters — family matters," he adds as a hasty afternote and then wincing for it.

Loki is actually present, but he is in one of the darker corners, working on shelving some books. Eyes of green look up as he hears the bell at the door and senses the arrival of the cursed master thief, an his lips curl into a smile as he saunters over. "Good evening, Lieutenant Atherton." Loki is dressed in his colors, a goldenrod tunic of heavily embroidered silk that hangs to mid-thigh, and a pair of brushed silk emerald pants, the outfit probably coture and definitely styled from India. His hair is a bit longer than usual, gathered in the back by a heavy gold clip with emeralds inset. Actually a very nice look for the Magus of Asgard.

"You seem out of sorts, would you care for a spot of tea…or perhaps something a bit stronger?"

This time, the Jackal doesn't attempt to claw his way through the door in surprise at the mage's appearance. Instead, he tries for a smile and mostly succeeds; the bow, with fist held to his chest in Victorian respect, is more successful in the end.

"I will need to defer to your expertise in that particular question, my lord," Ambrose replies. "I come to…to ask of you…a favor." And he appears to be very, very aware of WHOM he's asking of this favor by the way he continues to meet Loki's jade-green eyes with a faint shadow of wariness. "It is a matter of safety for not only myself, but as I mentioned before, a family matter — and even if I wish for something stronger than tea, I do not know if the magic that could be required to aid me will react well to this."

Interest flares as Ambrose admits to coming as a supplicant, and then Loki conjurs a tea service and some snacks. "Well, as you are here seeking my aid, be welcome in my home as a guest." He relocates them to a small sitting area meant for reading in comfort, the tea service set on the table and two cups prepared. "You prefer yours with cream and sweet, yes? This is a blackberry-currant tea, so do let me know if you wish it prepped otherwise."

Loki takes his as is, sips, then adds a hint of honey to his own.

And then he nods. "So, tell me, how can Loki Laufeyson, Lord of Fire, Trickster, the Liesmith be of service to you, Lieutenant Atherton?"

"Thank you, my lord." Ambrose is quiet-spoken still as he then follows his host to the small sitting area. After seating himself, he takes his blackberry-currant tea with a spoonful's worth of honey and a dollop of cream. Sipping at the drink, he finds it to his liking. The litany of titles makes him give Loki a long and considering look before his gaze drops.

"I spoke to you before about Oliver. He remains alive. I was informed by another mage, the Lady Scathach of the Isles, that he hunts for an item I have lost. I can only assume it is…that it has something to do with personal sympathy — magical sympathy." A sharp wave of his hand dismisses the faint note of questioning in his tone. The Jackal dares to look up again. "The problem is that I lost the locket nearly eighty years ago and I cannot remember where I lost it. I was in northern India at the time," he adds, now looking vaguely guilty rather than concerned.

Another shift in the chair is nerves. "I do not need another hand of aid in finding it, I need…" His throat works in a hard swallow. "…I need someone to find the memory of my losing it. In my mind. My own mate is on a mission and cannot do this and…it is a matter of great urgency that this memory be located." Now the fear is clear to someone quick enough to catch it: Ambrose is afraid of his own request.

Settling back in his seat, Loki crosses a leg over the other, and holds the saucer as he sips from the tea and listens to Atherton's plea. His interest is engaged. In truth the titles were meant as not so subtle reminders of just who the lieutenant was dealing with, and also as a means to tweak his nose in so doing. Efficiency!

"Ah, the Scathach, a powerful practitioner of the Art in her own right." Loki and she have met before - sometimes nice, sometimes not, always interesting though.

Unfolding that leg, he leans forward and sets the tea on the table as his steeples his fingers. "Yes, Oliver who should be dead but isn't." He smiles then, eyes avid. "Finding something lost is one thing, probing your mind is quite another, I am a master of Scrying, but mind magic is not my strongest suit." He settles back once more and crosses legs gain though now he rests his elbow on the back of the seat, and his cheek on that hand to look at an angle at Ambrose, thoughtfully. "I could come up with a rite, I might even have such a thing already prepared in one of my many grimoires…or an item in one of my many homes across the Nine Realms…"

Another swallow is against dry mouth and Ambrose then sips at his tea in an attempt to make the tacky feeling go away. He nods as he brings the cup back down to rest in his hands settled on his lap.

"I…defer to your knowledge in matters, my lord. I think it a matter of age that my mind cannot bring it forth. I admit, I do not remember much of my earliest years at this point anymore." Even if that seems to hurt to admit, he forges on. "I might have lost track of it deliberately if it was a thing of discomfort."

Another large sip of tea seems to soothe — ah, to be British. "If you can aid in recovering this memory, my lord, I would be deeply grateful. Myself, my mate, my offspring…your own son." It's a delicate little side-note almost like a gambit.

Taking advantage of a free afternoon before a weekend of (gasp!) actual rest, Pepper steps into the Cover Story shop with a tin of her favorite Yunnan blend as a gift for Sigyn and the hopes of finding something worth reading on her two blissful days off because she is for SURE not going anywhere near a TV set OR Stark Tower until that ridiculously over-commercialized sporting event is done for the year.

She takes a deep breath after stepping inside as the smell of books is just… the best thing ever. Oh, and she remembered to bring another little gift as well, tucked carefully into her bag.

When the door opens, Loki looks over, and then smiles as he sees the woman who arrives. A nod to Ambrose. "I have a thought about your problem, excuse me, however, a brief moment." Rising, Loki turns to greet Pepper. "Welcome back, miss Potts, Master Atherton and I were having some tea and discussing something, is there aught I might do for you?" A thought summons another teacup, however, just in case.

And yes, the smell of a bookstore is /always/ a grand thing. Ink, leather, the hint of tea and even the faint dust that even Loki's magic cannot prevent accumulating all blend nicely. There's even a hint of sandalwood, possibly from incense. All it all it is an inviting and comfortable smell.

"Of course," Ambrose says faintly as the mage rises to attend upon the front door. He can't immediately see who has entered, but a lean outwards while seated proves it to be a familiar face. Ah, Miss Potts indeed.

Sighing to himself, the Jackal allows his posture to slouch back into the chair as he schools his patience. He's not dead, yet, and none of his family are dead, yet, and Kent has always suggested that the Jackal be as such. The tea isn't half-bad either, which is evinced by another pour to top off his cup along with another stir of honey. This soothes him yet again.

"Miss Potts," says the master-thief by way of greeting when his own form can be seen in the small sitting area.

Seeing Loki, Pepper smiles to the tall man and offers the tiniest bow hello. "Prince Loki, hello. I had a little free time, thought I'd stop in for something to help me escape the annoyance that this weekend promises to be." Does she need to explain to him about aforementioned annoying sporting event? Hopefully not.

Then Ambrose offers a greeting from nearby and she waggles her fingers in a small hello to him. Always nice to see Ro— Lieutenant Atherton. He's become a decently good friend to hang out with, and she's never not glad to see him.

"Oh," she turns her attention back to Loki. "Here. I brought some tea for Sigyn," the tin is offered while her other hand pulls a smaller, black-capped glass bottle from her bag. "And I saw this and thought of you."

Loki just can't help it, he's almost three THOUSAND years old, he just doesn't see time as mortals, even long lived ones, do. Urgent for him is to get something done in under a month most of the time. A few minutes or hours? Not usually something he's worried about. Sure, he CAN be motivated to act fast, he often is, but it is not his 'go to' method most of the time.

"Ah, this sporting event, the Super Bowl, yes?" He laughs. "I admit that tailgating can be fun, all sorts of trouble one can get into there." And Loki does like to get into trouble, getting back out of trouble afterwards is almost as much fun as the getting was!

He moves and accepts the gifts from the lady, and motions for her to…"Join us, have some tea, perhaps? Blackberry-currant." The tin — huh, where'd the tea tin go? The bottle is held, and he will sit and open it, then -smile- as he sees the colors of the ink. "Ah, very good." Once she's seated, assuming she does of course, he'll pour for her.

Pepper does indeed join their table and accept a cup of tea, even as she's pulling more things from her bag — a journal with unusually thin for modern paper pages and what looks like the sort of jewelery box a bracelet would arrive in — to offer to Loki as well. "Thank you, and here, so you can sample the ink. Give it a shake before you dip the pen, so you'll see the full sheen effect."

Then she's sipping at the tea and that little bit more tension leaves her shoulders. If she could get away with it, she'd consider renting living space here.

Loki admires her Journal. "Tomoe River paper, very nice." The Trickster doth approve! And there's nothing for it but to take out his fountain pen, and try it out forthwith. He opens the box, finds the dip pen, pausing a moment to enjoy the look and feel, before he opens the ink and then tries it out, writing, of all things, 'Twas brillig and the slithy toves, did gyre and gimble in the wabe, all mimsy were the borogroves, and the mome raths outgrabe'. His strokes are practiced, deft, and the glittery green ink applied in a lovely italic hand.

Yeah, Loki is into calligraphy, and pens, and…is anyone surprised by these facts?

After a moment, he looks to Ambrose once more. "So…my thought, your memory can likely be retrieved with Thoughtpiercer, but it resides in a home of mine…" Aka 'Safe House / Lair'. "…in Svartalfheim. I do not wish to remove it from there, so, needs must we go to it." A grin. "Who's up for a jaunt to another world?"

Glancing up from the calligraphy appearing on the paper, Ambrose seems to come back to the present. He'd been attempting to rifle through his memories of his own accord out of some stubborn streak, but meditation earlier in the sanctity of his own home hadn't succeeded — hence, his presence here and his favor asked of the Trickster God.

"As long as the jaunt is brief, my lord. I have promised my daughter that I will not be gone the night. I do my best to avoid causing her distress," the Jackal replies even as he sets his half-neglected cup of tea back on the table and begins to rise. Someone's still on a personal timeline.

"Wait. Svar— You're inviting me to go with you off-world?" Oh, Pepper can never EVER tell Tony about this. There would be SO MUCH POUTING. Or insisting that he come along, and that would only be disastrous. She is still considering the implications when Ambrose states that he can't be gone too long, and that honestly removes her main concern.

"I don't have anything pressing to do until Monday."

Her laundry can totally wait for this.

A brow quirks, and then Loki actually looks contrite. Well, faintly contrite. A little. "Forgive me, Lieutenant." Brush cleaned, ink sealed, he rises. "I misunderstood how urgent your need was." Never let it be said that Loki doesn't bargain in good faith, of course, no price has been discussed, perhaps he intends to leave it vague? Or perhaps he wants to give Ambrose rope enough to hang himself with, it could be either. Or maybe both.

Either way, the Liesmith gestures, and the shop closes itself - lights dimming, shades drawing, the open sign at the door flipping as the locks self-engage. And then he strides towards the back, his form shimmering at a certain point, much as if Loki steps through a curtain, and as he does the Indian style coture vanishes and his armour appears in its stead. He leads the way into the back room, and then out into the open to the sky back yard, and the arch that goes nowhere. Pepper is not specifically denied, so she can and likely will assume herself welcome.

Which in truth she is.

"I think you're in for a treat…Svartalfheim, the Home of the Dark Elves, literally…is a very different land. It is a bit colder than here, so stay close to me, I will keep us warm. Questions?"

Ambrose is pleased that he had the forethought to wear his warmer coat, the one long enough to reach his knees. A stocking cap comes out of one of the coat's pockets and as he walks behind Loki, he pulls it down over his head to cover most of his hair as well as ears. His eyes rove the back room (and his hands remain close to his own body even if curiosity begs a closer look at THAT particular item there) and as they emerge into the backyard, he blinks at the blank arch.

"This land will be cold and stay close to you — this seems an easy set of edicts. I've no questions," the Jackal murmurs before he seems to sigh and steel himself.

Hopefully this isn't like Fenris's Ways. He did like that tea.

With a surprised blink, Pepper also follows after quickly reclaiming her journal and glass pen and pulling a delicate-seeming lace scarfish thing from her bag to pull over her head as Ambrose did his stocking cap. Her warm thing of choice is a wimple, though, so it looks more like she's just donned a gossamer hood and mantle in a matter of seconds.

By the time she stops next to Ambrose and the now armored Loki, she's pulling a pair of kidskin leather gloves over her hands and is glad she'd chosen to wear her longer peacoat today.

One interesting thing about that back yard - there is a lush garden inside the walls, and it is in full bloom, the garden kept at a comfortable temperature year around. Once the others are ready, Loki stretches out a hand, and traces previously invisible runes at various parts of the arch — nine runes in total, as he does traces the last one, the arch goes black as pitch, and then there's a flare of light and warmth as it fills in like the opening of an eye, to show a devastated landscape shrouded in darkness…though dimly.

Impish delight at what is to come, Loki is the first through the gateway, emerging into the chill of Svartalfheim.

Around him is a ring of warmth, one that blunts the chill enough that it is merely unpleasant, and not actually dangerous. The world they enter is a /sight/ to see. The ground is a wasteland, littered with broken…starships? Warplanes? The sky is black as pitch and the only light that of — holy hell — it can only be the accretion disc of a black hole! The thing fills half the sky, turning, swirling, an enormous whirlpool with a sanity drinking darkness at the core. The disc itself is a maelstrom of blues and purples, reds and whites, all roiling inwards as light and matter are consumed by the maw at the center. The sky has floating rocks, and debris in flight. "Welcome to Svartalfheim." Loki speaks with glee as he studies their reactions. "This way." He leads them to a near by cave, and inside to what looks to be a dead end wall — that he walks right through.

Ambrose steps through after the mage is finished opening the bricked-in archway and into a place not necessarily out of his nightmares, but it will linger in his mind for a long time yet to come. Talk about memories!

He's mute as he sticks close to Loki, within the field of warmth projected, and soft with his steps, as if he worried he might draw attention with the snap of a twig — or a discarded piece of metal from one of the skeletal hulks of a plane nearby. When Loki steps through the seemingly-impassable wall, the Jackal lets out a quiet sigh. Steeling himself, he also forges through the wall to emerge on the other side. All the while, his tea stays settled — thank god.

Mentally bracing herself, Pepper steps through the gateway after Loki, but then stops dead in complete shock at seeing an honest-to-goodness BLACK HOLE with her own eyes. It's the encroaching chill as Loki moves away that gets her to stop gawping and hurry to follow and keep up with the two men.

The solid wall? She stops again, reaching a hand out to touch it to see if it's purely illusion or an actual wall in a gesture likely very reminiscent of Dr. Jackson from that original Stargate movie.

Stepping through the wall is a bit like passing through some cobwebs, but…the other side is /warm/, and there's real light and a very comfortably appointed living room, though the furniture is a bit weird, the designs alien, almost organic and seemingly formed from rock and steel primarily. Still…there's cushions, the seating clearly what it is. And yes, when he realizes that Pepper did not walk through the illusory wall, he reaches a hand through and grasps her by the wrist to pull her into the room on the other side. "Sit, please. I will be right back." The light appears to be generated by floating crystals in the air, and he taps one and it follows him through another apparently blank section of wall.

He's gone only a couple minutes, during which time tea appears, another tea service, this one with an apple-cinnamon tea steeping. When Loki /does/ return, he's holding a wooden box about a foot long. A smile as he settles. "Right then." He looks to Ambrose. "This is Thoughtpiercer." He opens the box, nested inside is a fairly long needle, like a thicker accupuncture needle made of matte black metal. "It is simple, in theory, to use. You think of what you wish to recall, I insert the needle into your brow, if your focus is strong you'll remember as if experiencing things for the first time…and then it eats some of your lifeforce to fuel its magic." A smile. "Shall we proceed? It very seldom causes lasting harm, and I've only killed with it once…"

While Loki is away and gathering this item he spoke of earlier, the Jackal gets to pacing around the room full of esoteric symbols and objects. Again, he chooses not to touch a thing; rather, his hands are kept behind his back as he paces, his gaze downcast as if he might spot his own steps worn into the ground.

The Trickster God's return has him glancing up and then, after another silent gulp, wandering over to see just what is within the gleaming wooden box. His eyes do go wide to see the revelation of the needle. His attention slides from the magical object to its holder and lingers.

"…I would like to lie down first, please," he murmurs, agreement to his plan implicit.

Pepper arrives in the room with a surprised yelp when Loki pulls her through the illusion? wall, then looks around the room in just as much fascination as everything else while shedding the warm things she'd put on before leaving the bookstore.

Sitting as Loki bid, she pours a cup of the apple-cinnamon tea and stands again to offer it to the pacing Ambrose. Hopefully it'll settle his nerves, if the pacing is any indication of his state of mind.

Upon seeing the Thoughtpiercer (that's a SPIKE, not a needle!) and hearing Ambrose wanting to lie down, she mentally resolves to not let the man deal with whatever this is without some form of reassurance. Heaven knows, she'd not want to have to deal with that alone.

The room does have a lot of interesting things about it, perhaps the most striking of which is a suit of armor on a stand, the stuff is…metal, but…it looks like matte black glass, it looks almost grown. The shape of it is slender, for a slimmer built creature than a human, and there's a pair of wickedly curved swords crossed on a stand at the feet below.

Of course there's bookshelves, and local art and bric-a-brac to be seen, much of it alien and incomprehensible, some of it disturbing, but all of it eye catching.

There's no hiding it, Loki is enjoying his guests' reactions to things, the sights outside, the needle inside. He nods to Ambrose. "Wise." And lets the man lie down, the cushions shifting and flowing to accommodate any position he takes, which might also be a tad creepy.

He'll allow Pepper to watch, or hold one of Ambrose's hands if she wants. "This is important, Lieutenant…the more your thoughts wander, the greater the danger, focus as tightly as you can on what you wish to recall. The magic will do the rest."

He smiles. "On three…" He presses the needle-spike against the center of the man's brow. "One…" And thrusts home.

Light, pain, heat, chill…scents and sounds mingling, all is chaos…chaos the Bane and the Master Thief must tame.

Pepper gets a gentle shake of head for the offer of tea: thank you, but no. Nerves are enough that it might come back up even despite the lack of a Way to jostle the Jackal's stomach first. As if he were to be walking to some form of purgatory, Ambrose does recline upon the couch on display. His stocking cap gets yanked from his hair and crumpled against his stomach in a fist. While the furniture shifts to better mold to his body, he merely folds his lips and stares up at the ceiling with its glowing crystals.

"Please do not touch me at any time, Miss Potts, you will be greatly injured and I refuse to be responsible for this," he murmurs with a glance over at the woman. It implores her to stay back. Loki is given a nod and then Ambrose closes his eyes. He doesn't wish to see the needle descend. Instead, he tries to cycle into a series of calming breathes.

Kent taught him well. He focuses briefly on the concept of the silent mantra — breathe, in and out — in and out — the needle settles on his skin. Goosebumps rise.

It drives home and his entire body jolts in place before it goes slack as if he'd fallen to unconsciousness. Around him, the ancient Bane coruscates up in reaction to danger to its host before it bubbles back to lie just beneath his skin — a result of sheer willpower alone. Its host knows what he seeks and it all swirls together like the contents of a blender until he finds the freeze-frame he was hunting for in his mind:

Patna, India. It must be the 1930s by the architecture of the city and boat types moored nearby. There's fresh blood cooling on his hands and on his face; thank god for the textured grip of his trench knife. He seethes with hatred. The locket is ripped from his neck and flung into the Ganges River. He watches it splash with a vicious surge of agonized delight. It's gone. So be it. He hates love and everything about it. Fuck love.

Ambrose remains still on the couch, still breathing, dead to the world.

Pepper opts to sit next to Ambrose's head once he's laying down. She can't have NOT noticed his aversion to touch by this point, and his words just prove it further even if she doesn't actually believe he can injure with with even a small touch.

So, perhaps very likely tempting fate, she takes a gamble and hopes it's okay to use the side of one of her gloves to gently brush his hair back from his forehead while he's lying there seemingly dead to the world.

"Careful, Miss Potts, a slip would possibly be fatal." It is a measure of Loki's regard for the woman that he bothers to give her warning. Regardless, he cannot see what Ambros does, but he can sense the magic spooling out, and then at the moment when it draws back and takes some of the man's lifeforce with it, he plucks it free, timing it carefully so as to find the 'sweet spot' between sating Thoughtpiercer's hunger, and preserving Ambrose's sanity and life.

Fortuantely he's done it before, and usually with good results.

It might take but a minute all in all. Loki is dexterous and precise in the motions of the needle.

Ambrose hangs in that mental moment for what feels like an eternity before it melts around him like a watercolor painting left in the rain. He inhales harder once, and then again, and then jolts upright into a half-sprawled sit on the couch. His hand clutches at the phantom weight of the locket resting on his chest as he blindly looks around the mage's off-world living room.

"Fuck…!!!" he breathes before then feeling at his forehead. A wince and the master-thief continues rubbing at the spot with a grimace. Both boots settle on the floor and he needs another few seconds yet before he can look up at Loki.

"I found it," he reports in that same raspy tone. "…thank you, my lord."

Pepper startles when Ambrose sits up again so abruptly, but manages to keep from reaching out to steady the man. Barely. "Are you all right, Ambrose?"

She looks from him to Loki concernedly. Was that all there was to this?

While watching the needle, Loki looks to Pepper. "He needed a lost memory…found." And he trusts that he woman will make the connection, she has proven to be clever thus far, no reason to expect any less. Once Atherton awakens, Loki takes the man's stocking cap from his head, and carefully wipes the needle. This is actually a courtesy - it leaves Loki without any of the man's blood, which a magus of his skill could do a LOT of truly heinous shite with!

The needle put in its box then stored behind the other wall again, he leads them back to the gateway they first entered through. He does pause, a hand touching Pepper's phone. "Take some video, if you like." He knows she was impressed, hell…LOKI was the first time he saw the Svartalfheim sky, only after does he return them to the warmth of the garden that should not be that lies behind the Cover Story.

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