2020-03-14 - Exotic Pets


With a distraction being created for them, a group goes looking for the central crystal. They find it - but with a more than they bargained for.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Mar 14 22:06:22 2020
Location: Inside The Barrier 2

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Theme Song



The Pixies had been most helpful in providing information about the city. With any luck, that information is good, too. Of course, they'd been quite … inebriated … on Hercules alcohol by the end of the evening. But then, they were Pixies, so they might be used to it.

There's a way into the city towards the cliffs that border it. Some of the group can enter by it. They'll need a diversion though, to ensure they can enter without being seen.

Agent May and Blackbird had joined the group some time during the night. They knew where to look for them and Batgirl had been watching for them. Once she'd seen them to the camp, she'd disappeared and hadn't been seen since - saying something about checking on things.

With half the party would provide the diversion, along with the Pixies. The second group had taken a more circutous route to the east side of the walls, with two Pixies sitting between Klavdiya's ears calling out directions. Finding the entrance hadn't been hard, what had been difficult was getting the pixies to wait until the distraction went down.

"You are drunk…" says one Pixie to the other, with a hiccup. "And when you are drunk, you forget… I am the Leader…" This had been a discussion for the past several minutes between the two.

It doesn't take long for the group to hear the guards challenge those approaching the gate. All they need to do is slip into the city and follow Dylans 'compass'. It's directing them to the far east side - and oh joy - the market place they enter into is full to brimming.

"Perfect."Dylan says on seeing the very full marketplace. There's no sarcasm in his tone. "It'll be easy to stay hidden from guards in the crowd. Let's not try to stay together moving through it. That'll be futile or take forever. Everyone see that tower on the far side of the market? That's near the goal. Just head in that direction and we'll meet on the other side of the market. Keep your ears open; markets are the best place to hear gossip. Try steering conversation to strange creatures or dangerous places to avoid if you can do so subtly."

Helena is going to have grudges against fairies for the rest of her life. This entire thing has vastly complicated the process of keeping her identity a secret from SHIELD. Not to mention the nerve of these things, in her home territory…

But hey, at least a fantasy realm is pretty accepting of deep, hooded cloaks, right? And skill at punching is transferrable, so that's also good.

She nods to Dylan's directions, giving the pixies a brief, grimacing expression from behind her mask.

Complex plans rae challenging for even a super-intelligent (comparatively) tigress to understand. But 'go this way, pay attention to the cues from the bipeds' she can do. So Hunter's tigress form is giving a ride to the pixies, because someone decided that was a good idea, and the lady who suddenly finds taking her feline form quick, painless, and far more convenient than it should be really couldn't complain.

Her secret was out already, after all.

When they reach the wall, the tigress takes a position a good fifty feet back, and starts twisting her paws into the turf, hunkering down and flexing her muscles. Anyone with a familiarity with housecats might recognize 'getting ready to sprint/pounce' behaviors. And she's eyeing the wall as if she genuinely believes she can clear it.

Given what she has proven she can do, Amur Khatun may very well be right.

Once again dressed in the navy-edged black silks and half-tied hair that makes her look like someone out of a Chinese swords-and-sorcery show, Agent May looks at each of the people in the team assigned to accompany her in a silent assessment of their skills and strengths based on what she's seen previously.

The woman going by Hunter (when she's not a tiger) she thinks she has a fairly good bead on. She has every intention of making use of the woman's clearly superior senses. The young man, while frequently doing a very good job of giving off that prissy Brit air, seems tactically skilled enough that she can assign him to make sure those less used to unusual occurrences don't get mentally overwhelmed. It also helps that he deals with crowded situations like this marketplace far better than she does. The other young woman, masked in a manner very similar to Batgirl, is still a bit of a mystery and bears a bit more scrutiny but she expects no less from her than from the red-haired woman. Now if only she could figure out that tiny hint of something about the woman nagging in the back of her mind.

At Dylan's assessment of how to deal with the marketplace, she nods in approval and moves to walk through the crowded area slowly enough to do a bit of eavesdropping because she sure as heck isn't going to be chatting anyone up anytime soon. She keeps the scabbard that has replaced her butterfly swords in her left hand, her right hand held behind her back near the sheathed dagger tucked into the sash around her robes.

It's not just Faeries as Helena is finding out. There's a mix of faerie, mythological and supernatural beings. Holding a grudge against Faeries might be warranted but it is *very* *very* dangerous.

It's not that anyone thought the Pixies should ride between Amur Khatun's ears - the Pixies took it upon themselves to do so. Because of course they would. Amur Khatun manages to jump - but doesn't clear the wall by a long shot. Instead her claws scrabble at the stonework as she slides down it - best to use the gate with the others, perhaps. She totally meant to do that, didn't she?

Perhaps surprisingly, the sight of a large tigress stalking through the marketplace doesn't really raise any eyebrows. Though they do seem to give her a bit of room as she stalks. For the others, this lets them slip through unnoticed. They all catch snippets of conversations as they do. "… lovely here…. Glad we came." "… stupid humans didn't see it coming…." and "…. I've got a bid in for place in New Jersey …."

Oh No.

Once they make the edge of the marketplace, the tower looms large. There are guards on the doors but there is a steady flow of … merchants and servants … going in and out. Those with magical senses can feel the power come from there. A deep thrumming feeling. The group can absolutely slip inside and see what's going on.

It takes a bit to make his way through the marketplace but it's very educational and Dylan even buys some meat on a stick to snack on. No matter the century, there's always meat on a stick being sold. And no matter the century, it's best not to ask what the meat is. Find a wall to lean against, he waits until they have a full complement again then glances casually over at the tower. "Merchants going in and out without being stopped. One of you needs to play the merchant. I'm obviously better suited as a guard." Considering them all, he ends up looking at Helena. "You're used to hanging with money and talking the talk. Can you fancy yourself up and plat the part? Anyone got stuff she can wear?"

You know what's almost worse? It's almost worse that this market is safer to walk through than some parts of Staten Island were in the first place. Helena moves through the crowd much the same way she would have then, keeping her eyes ahead of herself, avoiding eye contact with anyone, and just generally looking like she's got business to handle. That the business she needs to handle is dismantling this place is irrelevant.

Magic is a mystery to her, no matter how much she studies it. She just doesn't have…whatever inborn talent it is that allows people to manipulate the forces of the universe. Just goes to show that no one really has everything.

"What?" Is that an edge of panic in her voice when she looks at Dylan? "Whoa there. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. You're the one with ancient nobility in your head." Also, that would involve taking off the mask. Which would remove any pretense of being anyone else. "Besides, what's my product? What would people here still need? What would boring stupid humans have? Iron, I guess. Probably a decent black market in cold iron since they can't work it themselves." Stop shooting yourself in the foot, Helena. Smart isn't helping you right now.

Pausing just enough outside of the tower entrance to hopefully not catch the attention of the guards there, May turns gestures for the tigress to move close. She has an idea for making it look like they have some other reason for entering the tower besides snooping about.

"Your product is exotic pets, Blackbird. Pixies, conceal yourselves with me or Lord Grey," she says just loudly enough to be heard over the general hubbub of the area as she starts to pull a length of black silk from a pouch at her waist. "Amur Khatun, may I use this fabric to make it seem like you are a tamed beast?"

At Dylan's suggestion that Blackbird play the role of merchant, she is NOT about to complain. After a quick glance at the younger woman, she takes a moment to trade her outermost robes with the girl's hooded cloak — sorry, the mask has to go, but she offers a piece of gauzy, embroidered black silk to take its place and make it seem more decorative than concealing though it does an almost as good a job as the mask with the distracting embroidered phoenix image. It's not perfect considering their height differences, but close enough.

With that and the quickly knotted 'leash' on the tigress, May gestures for Helena to lead them on in, and mentally breathes a sigh of relief when the pass through the gates without any fuss whatsoever.

The tigress finds it very odd that all of these other bipeds - those that are not 'hers' - feel themselves safe in her presence. That never happens. She tends to panic even friends, with that aura of predatory intent. But she cannot exactly question this, either, and makes her way across the market as directed.

The fighting agent - her biped form greatly respects this one - is making mouth-sounds at her. She tilts her head, considering these sounds. The woman has used her name; this is respect. She has asked, and this is respect. She nods that giant head of hers; she will accept this pretend binding.

Admittedly, twelve-foot long, six-foot at shoulder tigers are pretty darned exotic, even here. Coming through!

With Amur Khatun thus adorned, the group heads into the Tower. The guards look at the tigress, stepping back just a little to give her room, then Helena and May - who gets a wink from two of them. Dylan gets a wink from the other. But they are in and being directed to the great hall where merchants are received.

And the feeling of power grows ever stronger when they get there. According to Dylan's compass, it *should* be here. But it's not obvious. It's concealed but how? Is it cloaked? Or just hidden in part of the room.

Fortunately, there's enough people here, that there'll be a bit of a wait before the Helena can be seen to talk about her wares.

Amur Khatun gets a scent coming from the left side of the room. A scent … like the scale they have.

Dylan turns his back on the room as if to talk to Blackbird. "PRetend I'm talking to you." he murmur as he slips his scrying case out of his pouch. Looking to see which direction the light is indicating, he puts it back then casually looks around the area, paying especial attention to the direction indicated. "This was a lot more accurate with Google Earth. It's very close and over there. Except obviously it's not. My phone could give three dimensions, this primitive magic? Not. So I'm guessing since we're in a tower, it's above us. I'm not ruling out below though."

Helena is cagey, but eventually finds herself a private enough spot to change where she can…try not to make it an obvious reveal. Stupid, stupid fairies. "Right," says with a deep breath as she comes over to accept the other end of the leash, giving the tigress a long, serious look. Cats, she knows. Wayne Manor has a disproportionate feline population, after all. They're just usually much…smaller. "For the record, I would never consider you a pet," she informs the tigress, just to cover her bases. Always respect the cat.

As she waits to make her pitch, she looks around them, doing her best tourist impression. "How about anything like…capacitors? Sure, the thing itself is magic, but maybe they've got to…science it a little to get the power out of it."

As the party moves into the merchant hall the tigress obeys the seeming orders of its 'masters', even if not at all really. But when they get there she sniffs about just a little, and then makes a point of gently dragging her leash-bearer over towards a seemingly wall-hanging-shrouded wall. She bats at the wall hanging with her giant paw, and that stuff moves far more than it should if there were a wall behind it.

C'mon, bipeds, get a clue.

May steps closer to both 'join the conversation' and help conceal the compass while sharing her own observation. "The banners in that same direction. There's no wall behind them. Compare them to the others." Helena's suggestion of capacitors seems reasonable enough, but either way, she suspects that they need to go through whatever's on the other side of those wall hangings.

"Your assessment, Grey." Yes, she's letting the young man plan how they're going to handle this. Though if he chooses not to, she can very easily see both the Pixies and the tigress being VERY good at creating enough of a distraction that at least one of their group can get around those wall hangings without being noticed immediately.

And then, of course, the giant feline points out aforementioned wall hangings. Please don't let anyone else notice what Amur Khatun is doing, that would be problematic.

The chamber is full enough that the huge cat is not noticed. Helena however will notice the breeze from behind it and the beckoning black beyond. The pixies have been silent so far - thank someone for small miracles. When they see this, they perk up with a "Don't worry! We'll make sure no one notices you're missing!"

And with that they zip to the other side of room and create a diversion. A vase topples and smashes to the ground, drawing the attention of all in the room.

In the short time they have, the group can slip behind the banners. There's a stair well that leads down into the depths of the tower. The stair well empties into a large cavern, and in the centre … the crystal on a pedestal.

It's protected though. Wards and beyond those - shadows seem to move.

"Or it could be behind the wall hangings." Dylan adds without missing a beat as he's informed there's space behind them. As the pixies do their job, he motions toward the banner with a nod of his head and walks over to slip behind it. Look like you belong and most people won't question you, after all. "Looks like down it is. 'Abandon all hope ye who enter here.'" he quotes.

Abandon hope? Never! Her inner biped is an often taciturn and hopeless figure. But Amur Khatun is not. She is happen to slink through the wall hangings and then pad down and down and down the stairs. She is hoping someone thinks to remove fighting woman's pretty silks before the fighting begins, given it smells like May's weapons. But she can wear silks into battle if necessary.

The tigress never even considers the idea that there might not be a battle down here. Hence why she goes first. G'head. Shoot the tiger. Like that'll help at all?

"Good search and rescue attack tiger," Helena murmurs as she slides behind the hanging with the others, checking over her shoulder to make sure they aren't followed. With the need for a ruse over, she doesn't hesitate to remove the silk 'leash.' If nothing else, it's a good excuse if they get caught. Sorry, officer, my tiger escaped.

The moving shadows draw her eye, as does the glowing crystal, but it's other things she looks for. Paths of approach. Guards. Anything leading to or from the crystal itself.

May is the last one through the wall hanging and heading down the stairs, making a mental note to bring something as a thank you to the Pixies when they're here next. Maybe something like traditional almond cookies would make it past the barrier.

And there's the crystal as well as some particularly sketchy shadows. She's probably the numbest nose here when it comes to magic, but she doesn't take any chances, holding her sword ready and expecting an attack any moment.

"Lord Grey," she says quietly, fully expecting the young man to be the one to examine the crystal. He's the one with the compass, after all. "Proceed with caution."

May doesn't know it yet, but the Pixies love Pizza or 'Za as they call it. And will meet them outside the barrier to get their fix.

The shadows beyond the wards slither and slide - coalescing into half formed figures - getting more active as the group enters the basement. The path to the crystal seems open enough - but as Amur Khatun and Helena approach, they get zapped. The wards have a wide perimeter around it. However, Dylan can see they can be broken and whilst he can't take a photo of them, he can draw or memorise them to get help from the WAND team if he needs or study himself.

As to capacitors, Helena wasn't far wrong. May will notice the pulsing lines going out from the crystal. Arranged at intervals around it are small 'resevoirs' that seem to feed out into the city.

With enough people and the right spell work, they should be able to undo what's been wrought here.

"Oh, quite." Dylan murmurs as he studies the crystal, the wards, the pools. "Caution indeed. Excessive caution even." His tone is distracted. "One does not play haphazardly with artifacts, and an artifact is definitely what this iis. That." he says, pointing at the crystal. "Is the work of many, many years of careful enchantment and/or perhaps the involvement of a god. Or originally created by a god and then adapted. Doesn't matter. Suffice to say, it is very powerful and while I might be able to cut through the wards, sever the connections to the outlying crystals and maybe even destroy the keystone crystal, it would almost certainly kill me. And I haven't seen Hamilton yet." Pulling out a piece of parchment and a burnt stick - ink just wasn't needed - he starts drawing. "Kill anyone who shows up."

Helena hisses as she gets zapped, shaking her hand off and taking another step back. "Was that an instruction?" she asks to Dylan's last. "Like…now?" She may be mad about the fairies, but kill anyone who shows up feels a little bit strong for the moment. Still, she moves to keep an eye on the entrance. Conveniently, further away from zappy wards.

May gives the others a bit of time to explore the room and suss out what they can, guarding the way they came in while Dylan sketches.

Finally, though, when it looks like he's about done, she looks at the others. "Gray Shaoye, Shaonu hei niao, Mu laohu, we need to be going before someone finds us here." She seems completely unaware that she's just spoken to them in ancient Mandarin.

The feline member of the quartet explores around the wards, apparently only mildly minding the zapping. She heals; it's fine. It's not that she's immune, just that she doesn't let herself care. But she explores thoroughly and waits. Kill anyone else who shows up? Well, OK. if they insist.

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