2020-03-19 - There's a Collector


Mari and T'Challa approach the Mohanndan Consulate for some assistance

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Mar 19 03:17:43 2020
Location: Mohanndan Consulate, New York

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Mari had been asked - well, told and by a goddess no less - to find the other amulets like the one that she wears and use them to seal off breaches in the underworld. The good news is that she knows where two of the others are. The bad news is that she has no idea where the other three might be.

Thankfully there is help in this regard. The Mohanndan consulate was more than happy to meet with Mari and Prince T'Challa. Mari is after all a former Mohanndan national now of considerable repute and influence and T'Challa is politically important in their neighbor.

Like the Wakandan consulate in New York, the Mohanndan mission is a nice, but not ostentatious affair. After all, Mohannda is an even poorer nation than is Wakanda. Still they make a decent showing. There's a large flag prominently displayed on the wall when Mari and T'Challa are shown in. The person they're meeting is a representative of Mohannda's National Cultural Institute, the body responsible for balancing the interests of archeology and anthropology with the continued preservation of critical cultural sites. His name is Doctor Abioye and it seems that he is running a bit late.

Approaching the consulate had been T'Challa's idea. Mari had been willing to speak to his ancestors again but he had thought this might be a good place to start.

He likely isn't wrong and after all, T'Challa always has a plan.

"You didn't have to come with me. I appreciate you did." Mari is saying as she takes a slow stroll around the room they were shown to. "I won't let your goddess down, you know." She's teasing a little.

"Doctor Abioye should be along soon. Given his focus, he's probably immersed in some fascintating relic or something."

"I know I did not and I know you will not. It was my pleasure to come, really."

The good Doctor comes down in what is probably for him work attire. Which is to say, collared shirt and jacket, but no tie. He could use some fashion pointers probably but then most people could. He's a bit heavy set but only a bit and politely bows to T'Challa and then to Mari. "Miss McCabe. Your Highness. Welcome, welcome. Please, step this way, we'll use the conference room. I cannot tell you how excited I was to get your message. I understand you have some questions about the Tantu amulets that originate from Mohannda?"

Some questions indeed. T'Challa gestures to Mari and then pulls the seat out for her.

Mari just smiles at T'Challa. She's sure he has *important* business to see to, but his company is always appreciated.

"Doctor Abioye, I presume?" The dark skinned woman smiles mischievously, bows in return, and lets him usher them to the conference room.

"You were excited to get my message? Why was that, Doctor? And please, call me Mari." She's good with people and likes to put them at their ease. "Really one question, Doctor. I would like to know where they are…"

"Please, call me Ekon." The doctor says as he sits down. T'Challa also sits down. He does have other things he could be doing, to be sure, but he decided that this was important as well. So. Here he is.

"Ah. Well you ask an interesting question. One of them, I suspect, is hanging around your neck. As to the others?" He takes a deep breath and looks pensive. "It would certainly be my preference if they were in our hands at the NCI, but they are not. Most of them left Mohannda some time before the Seventeenth century and we are not entirely certain where they went though there are stories. Many a forgery has cropped up over the years, mostly being sold to eager but slightly gullible collectors. May I ask why it is you want to know?"

"Ekon, then." Mari takes a seat, crossing her ankles, and displaying a good length of leg. "And yes it is. The Spirit Totem. I've not been made it a secret that I carry it, after all." Of course there's always conjecture that the pendant she wears is a forgery. Mari just smiles when that happens.

"And yes, they have. I have a collection of replica's in my office." She's quiet for a moment, glancing at T'Challa as she rests a hand on his arm. "Why would you want in them at the NCI, I understood that all the pendants had a bearer - as … set out by Anansi all that time ago."

Mari considers her answer as Abioye watches "Would you believe me if I said that I'd been tasked by Bast to collect them, so that we might close a rift to the Underworlds?"

"Bast. As in the Wakandan goddess?" Ekon likely knows that Bast is also associated with the Egyptians, even more often in the west, but he knows her as a Wakandan goddess first. Which makes sense given where he is from. "Why would the great Cat Goddess be concerned with the underworld, or appear to a Mohanndan to ask her to gather Anansi's amulets?"

T'Chall COULD answer that question but he chooses not to. He simply smiles and leans back slightly, waiting to see how Mari handles it.

"Oh, well, to answer your question, they are very important cultural artifacts. I would prefer to see them in Mohanndan hands than languishing in a collection, but I have always been something of a curator like that."

Mari chuckles a little and gives T'Challa *look*. "At least you said Wakandan and not Egyptian. As to answering your questions, I'm not entirely sure. What I do know is that the disturbance in the Underworld is causing problems here and in Wakanda, to name just two places."

As to why Mari? The ex-model isn't so sure but she has a feeling it's a test of some sort.

"I believe she asked me because I was with her representative asking how we fix the aforementioned problem and … being the bearer of the spirit totem, I'm assuming she thinks I can do this."

Mari nods to Ekon's reasoning for wanting the totems himself "That's an admirable thing to aspire to, Ekon however, I understand that the totems will always have bearers and to find them languishing in a collection isn't likely."

"So I have heard but you must understand while I do not discount the old stories I have also never had a chance to examine them in detail. In fact… I wonder if you might permit me to examine your amulet? Just visually. There are certain hallmarks the real items have. Not that I doubt you, certainly having one of the original totems seems to be a good explanation as to a source of heroic power…"

He's babbling a little and T'Challa chuckles.

"Were she willing to do that would you be willing to share with us some thoughts on where the other totems might possibly be?"

"Oh I would do that anyway, they're really more in the vein of stories, rumors and legends though, I should warn you."

Mari doesn't correct Ekon but the totem isn't the *source* of her heroic power. For a long time, those close to her thought it a focus now, they're just not sure - except that it's a sign of Anansi's favour.

"I don't mind." Mari murmurs, slipping the pendant from her neck and holding it out for the archivist to view. It's telling that she doesn't hand it over "I understand your fascination, Ekon. It still mystifies me to this day…"

"Stories, rumours and legends have their basis in some form of truth, don't you think? The trick is to work through everything and find that one thing that will give you somewhere to look… "

Ekon turns it over in his hands, looking at small details and smiling while he does. "Yes… yes. What a singular thing. There can be no doubt, Mari, that this is an original item. It has all the hallmarks of our ancient ancestors. It fills me with pride that you wear this symbol of our people as a hero in both business and crime fighting."

"She wears it very well yes. She is a credit to your nation." And to this one. To America. Perhaps more so to America since it was here she really came into her own but T'Challa does not say that. He is used to not saying things like that.

"Yes. Legend has it that during the Arabian conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries one of the amulets was taken as a war prize and removed to Baghdad. From there I have heard a rumor that it was secreted out to Constantinople, where it was given to the Crusaders of the First Crusade. The last bit of that story placed it somewhere near Antioch before the Principality but says no more. I have heard that a collector in Canada claims to have gotten an amulet from a dig near Antioch, but he has never come in to have it authenticated."

Well that's an interesting start, to be sure.

Mari is slightly amused as Ekon authenticates her pendant. Of course it's the original item - she doesn't say that. She still has one in T'Challa's possession as well, plus the one in the possession of its bearer right here in New York. "You are too kind, Ekon." The woman actually flushes slightly at the praise from both men, reaching out to touch the back of T'Challa's hand.

"Hmmmm. Antioch and Canada. That's an interesting combination. I don't suppose you know the identity of this mysterious Canadian collector?" Mari fully intends to pay them a visit, if she can.

"He is a French Canadian by the name of Rafael Tancred. He is rather famously reclusive and he lives… well. Montreal. Where else?" Where else indeed. Still, that's a good place to start. If he is famously reclusive then it may be difficult to get him to meet and if he DOES have the item getting it from him will be similarly difficult.

But now at least they have a potential lead.

"Rafael Tancred. Montreal. And do you know him at all, Ekon?" Mari smiles, not trying to take her pendant back just yet. "What can you tell me of the rumour he found something? How long ago was it, by the way?"

They'll have to do their own research on the collector. Mari does wonder though and looks to T'Challa "Funny how we have a few leads to Canada, isn't it?"

"It is yes. I am not very surprised, Canada is not far from here, but it is curious how many of those seem to go there." They will definitely be taking a visit in the near future there. The question is 'where to, exactly', and that is not a clear thing at all. Not yet.

"The rumor was about ten years ago or so. I can tell you that he has a… passion for Sub-Saharan artifacts and a great interest in culture. I've never met him personally and he doesn't attend many functions. His passion seems to mostly lie in the collecting rather than the displaying. It is rumored that he has one of the largest such collections on this continent but as he very rarely shows any of it and never all of it that is very difficult to verify."

"I think that skiing holiday is on the books, don't you?" That's to T'Challa. Mari does wonder how the Wakandan will cope with snow.

"I don't suppose you have a contact or address for Monsieur Tancred? And if he's interested in culture and Sub-Saharan artifacts, that might be useful."

Mari considers, watching Ekon carefully "It's not usual though, is it, for a collector to not exhibit their collection. As you say, some really are just happy knowing they have it."

"Soon yes. After our tropical holiday." The one that's really a very dangerous working holiday. That might make the Doctor wonder but T'Challa just smiles and doesn't explain. The man can read the gossip rags if he likes, he knows they're turning out plenty of pieces.

"No, but many like to show it off, so the lend it to museums to show or the host private events, usually in the name of helping some charity or another but really it's all vanity. Or… mostly vanity." Occasionally helpful vanity but there you go.

"I do not have it right now but I can certainly have it forwarded to you. I should mention in case it matters that like many people who are in the more expensive end of this he's been in court more than once. The artifact trade is tricky at the best of times after all. Nothing I think that suggests he's dealing with illicit suppliers… on purpose anyway. But it might matter to you."

"Ah yes. The tropics. That should be fun." Mari says. "Monsieur Tancred will have to wait a little." The dark eyes settle on Ekon again and Mari frowns. There's a message there, she's sure.

"It matters, Ekon however, retrieving these pendants is most important and if he does have it, and come by it illegally - then …" she shrugs.

She has to wonder about not displaying the collection but she'll find out what can about the man.

Maybe it will give Mari an opportunity to crack heads.

"If you could forward what details you have, I'd appreciate it." The ex-model hands over a card to the man. "And if you like, you should come to one of my events, you can inspect my collection - the replica's and other artifacts that I have. Or maybe you could ask T'Challa about his collection."

T'Challa laughs. "My collection is more art than culture but you are welcome to come look at it if you like. It has artifacts from Wakanda and a few piees of art from Mohannda. Nothing of intense importance but I do like it if I say so myself." Which he does because why not? He's saying it.

"I would be happy to do all of that." Ekon laughs. "Now, it would I think be rude to let one of the greatest people ever to come out of our nation leave without offering a tour of what we have here. We are no National Cultural Institute but like you and like Prince T'Challa, we are proud of what we have and happy to show hospitality to our friends." Because they are friends, right?

They are friends. The nations are, at any rate. The people? Mari doesn't see any reason why they shouldn't be. "I'd like that very much. If you have time, T'Challa." No 'prince' for Mari, he'd requested that when they'd first met.

At some point she'll have make a joke with the Wakandan about looking at his etchings some time.

"Lead on, Ekon. I'd love to take the tour."

"We have time, of course." T'Challa laughs.

"Wonderful." Ekon says as he rises. "Well right back this way. I'll introduce you to the consul as well. He's been eager to meet you too." And no wonder. It's not every day they get to host royalty and Mohannda's only bona-fide superhero.

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