2020-04-10 - The Wisdom of the Atlas Obscura


At the Explorers Club Bookstore, two gentlemen hunt for information beyond the mundane. Cain finds information on ley lines and Ambrose finds…mostly what he was looking for.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Apr 10 22:30:23 2020
Location: Explorers Club Bookstore

Related Logs


Theme Song



At 46 East 70th Street sits a hidden gem within the constant urban sprawl and bustling of the Big Apple around it. Refined, its outer entrance, with twin pillars as well as potted green foliage and gently-waving flags on posts framing the grand darkwood doors in an arched doorway. The bricks are dark in comparison to their filling, a pale cream to match the stone masonry of the building dating back to 1904.

Upon entering, one gets the feel of stepping into a time long-since past, of an Edwardian hunting house or Masonic lodge; wood gleams as do myriad leather chairs. Sconces on the walls provide appropriate lighting for the darker corners while latticed windows allow in the wall of wane spring light. There are multiple floors, but some are locked off.

That wouldn't stop one of the older relics seated in a red leather chair on the third floor in its 'Library Room'. He doesn't look out of date in the least in the confines of the room itself, for the walls are lined with shelves upon shelves of books and the windows seem better suited for medieval churches than for New York City. Having procured a small reading table as well, Ambrose has the whole affair tucked up near to the terrace exit to the far left-hand corner of the room. One must cross the room-length Oriental rug to reach the fireplace and him if they wish. He wears a merlot-red suit-vest in black tapestry overlay-pattern comfortably over a white dress-shirt, its sleeves rolled to his elbows. With the coat thrown over the back of the chair and his slacks, it seems he was on errand someplace fancy before he dropped in. Of course, his youthful looks remain, but his hair is pale as starlight now, down to eyebrows and eyelashes alike. No scruff today…he must have hated the look of its paleness on his face. His eyes read over the book lying open before himself on the table.

Enter Ambrose-Bane's /favorite/ ambulatory pastry. Cain was wanting to see if there were any old books here that might help him find more ley-lines in the area, one can hope, right? Regardless, Cain isn't likely to immediately spot Ambrose, but the Master Thief and more in particular his curse, SURELY will sense the arrival of the speedster.

Pausing just over the threshold, Cain is dressed in an olive drab t-shirt worn tucked into a pair of tan-khakis. His feet enclosed in sturdy boots, and a pine green button down shirt worn unbuttoned over the tee. Not exactly ready for the opera house, but it is a look that suits the man well, and he DOES still have dark scruff, thank you.

Dark green eyes slowly scan the place, noting details, people, lines of retreat, the whole nine yards. And then some. He doesn't seem in a hurry, exploring the offerings on the first floor, probably contemplating hitting them all in turn.

At the front desk just beyond the doors, the receptionist glances over from transcribing something into the computer. "Hello," he greets Cain with a polite smile. "First time in?" He's a gentleman of Indian lineage, his accent of tutored English not being his first language. There is a lilt of Delhi to his words. "Please, look around. The first two floors are open to the public. You are lucky; the third floor is open for a brief period of time today. I suggest visiting the stuffed polar bear," the man says with the air of an inside joke. "You will also find the library on this floor. Please speak with one of my associates before touching any of the books. Do you have any questions?"

Two floors up, as if hearing some sound only within his range, Ambrose with his jaw rested on his palm, finger to the middle of a page, slowly looks up and towards the library room's doorway. He left the door itself cracked out of leery long-habit. Ambient light flashes in his pupils, but the glow doesn't vanish; he appears unable to banish the werelight from them. Bane prickling in his blood and stretching like a predatory cat on a limb tells him that someone of interest is nearby. His attention remains zeroed in on the doorway.

Cain might think he hears a soft, inscrutable whisper barely in his own range of hearing and feel a shift of dry, hot air across the back of his neck…but that could have been the heating unit of the building kicking on and off.

"First time in, yes." Cain agrees with a very pleasant smile for the Indian gentleman. "Two questions then, if you please. First - how long is the window into the mysterious polar bear infested third floor open, and second - I'm doing some research into Ley Lines, I don't suppose you'd have any knowledge of such? If so…are there any books here I might reference or buy?"

Cain's not poor, he's not wealthy either, alas. Still, he'll make do if he has to. He's done more with less.

A faint shiver at the whisper, that hot breath. Either way, whatever the window is, he'll head up to the third floor directly - no matter the span, that window is limited, so he might as well take advantage while he can.

"Our books are not for sale," the receptionist informs Cain. "They are either from private collections or donated from the founding families of the Explorers Club itself. You are welcome to read — again, I ask that you speak with Jane at the third floor office before you go to pull any from the shelves. Ley lines…" The man muses, now eyeing his visitor thoughtfully. "While I'm not familiar with the term, it sounds just enough like something in one of our Atlas Obscura volumes. These you need not speak to Jane about given the Club publishes an updated set every year. They will be the collection with newer covers, bright yellow, to your right when you walk into the Library Room and look at the shelvings. The room is open for another two hours yet."

At this point, Cain is welcome to ascend. On his way up, the showcasing of various exploring-related artifacts continues. There's a flag carried by explorer and archaeologist Roy Andrews into the Gobi Desert; this particular explorer is claimed as inspiration for 'Indiana Jones' himself. More horned and antlered animal taxidermies hang on the walls and framed paintings and photographs show things like a grand wooden ship headed for the Antarctic and the Explorers Club flag on the moon itself.

Ambrose, still at his table, continues to wait, patiently as a leopard indolently lying on a branch. His eyes remain riveted on the cracked door. The Bane waits too on tenterhooks. Ambulatory Pastry?

"Thank you for your help, sir." Cain says and even offers a half bow, hand pressed splay-fingered to his chest. He takes the stairs two at a time, you know, /laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy/ slow to the third floor and checks it out, eventually ending up in the library room wherein lurks the Bane and the Ambrose both.

A bit surprised at the change in the man's appearance, he studies the hair and the overtly glowing red eyes.

He unfreezes a moment later. "So…that was you." The hot breath and whisper at the door. And then a faint look of concern. "Are you entirely well, Lieutenant?"

Cain moves to the vellow volumes, flipping through them in sequence at a pace that makes it look like he's just skimming. Would Ambrose be surprised to learn that Cain is methodically reading the books, volume by volume, in order? ACTUALLY reading, not just swiftly glancing?

Lo and behold, the door opens to admit the Ambulatory Pastry! Metaphorically, Ambrose hands the Bane a ten dollar bill for winning that particular mental bet. Cain briefly freezes and in the hanging moment, the Jackal's lips rise faintly at their corners.

"I've no idea what you speak of," he replies, voice quiet and faintly raspy. "In regards to this accusation." The faint smile appears to deepen, like a sickle-moon ghosting behind clouds. Truth or lie? Difficult to tell, given the shared mental space. "Though I thank you for inquiring, Master Cain. I am as well as current circumstances merit." He reaches into the pocket of his suit-vest and slips a slip of paper into the crook of the book's pages to mark where he's at. The venerable-looking tome is then gently closed and Ambrose leans back in his red leather chair, eyeing Cain and his apparent skimming of the most modern printing of Atlas Obscura.

"I would not have predicted you of all people to show in this place. What brings you into this storied location?" he then asks, fingers now interlaced in a bridge before his chin. A rose-gold ring with a masculine setting of a garnet gemstone on either side of the central diamond shines on his left hand.

Unaware of mental tenner, Cain did in fact freeze, he wasn't expecting Ambrose and Bane to be up here. Nobody expects the Bane-ish inquisition!

"Sense of a whisper, dry hot breath at my neck…nothing and nobody around." Cain replies honestly to the man's claim of ignorance. A faint smile and a nod. "We may not be friends, Ambrose, but I honestly don't wish you ill. I hate seeing anyone in what looks to be discomfort and distress."

Cain's eyes do take on a very faint crackling of violet as he reads, the eyes moving too fast for unaided sight to see, but the power might well trigger some response from the curse.

"Oh? And why not, Ambrose? Can't I have an adventuresome heart? Can I not enjoy history, and stories…?" A soft laugh. "In short I'm doing a bit of esoteric research, Master Atherton. Leylines, actually."

Without fail, the Bane notes just how quickly young Cain is reading and the violaceous gleam in the reader's eyes as he takes in the information before him at his superhuman pace. The fine hairs on his neck rise as the curse swirls into his blood like ink and he lets out a silent, slow sigh as he soothes the hungry magic. No-no, no pie crust today.

"Ah, ley lines. Might I recommend searching the index in those encyclopedias for any mention of them. I do not know if the Club continues to keep a wizard in their board of members these days, so the accuracy of the Atlas Obscura contents may be under contention," he informs Cain silkily. "They used to, about two decades back, but the woman might have moved on." His shrug is languid, much like a large cat resettling on its limb. "Are you continuing your experiments of running while in contact with them then? The incident wherein you arrived in another dimension entirely did not scare you? You could get lost…but it would be an adventure." Ambrose admits this with another thin, gleaming smile meant to charm and beguile.

"Yup, in the index, multiple entries, but I thought I'd see what other useful obscura is to be found, Master Atherton." If anything would indicate that the man is /reading/ at the astonishing page turning pace, his confident smile would. "ESPecially knowing they had an actual mage involved so recently, that augurs well." Ooh, even a magical play on words. Book by book, one every few minutes, he reads the entirety of the Atlas with unflagging patience and enough concentration that he can converse as well.

"Actually…I've not tried any more dimension hopping, but I /did/ find that I can run immensely faster and for far longer when in a ley line, I think I bested mach 6 by a considerable margin in one I followed to Florida…took about twenty /glorious/ minutes to arrive."

Ambrose watches attentively, his eyes half-lidded. A book goes away and is swapped by another…and then another…and it's about the third book in which he realizes that it's not just a tantalizing display to the Bane: Cain is actually reading at this speed with enough coherency to understand it.

Jealousy, thy name is Atherton.

The Jackal doesn't let it show and merely comments, "Only twenty minutes? That is not long at all. A good number of rich and elite would envy this ability, given they must dally on their private jets." He snickers to himself, then taking a moment to stretch out one leg indolently. His gleaming Oxford shoe takes on a haphazard flicking back and forth to some tune only he can hear. "I did, in my boredom after our sojourn into the esoteric bar, peruse the library in my own manor in regards to ley lines one day. Are you aware of what they are in essence?"

Ah, but Ambrose's micro-expressions might tell a different story, to a Speedster's sight the tiniest nuance is writ plain as day, even exaggerated in most cases. He might well see that jealousy, he'll probably see the moment of realization too. He's impressed, most don't catch such things when he does stuff, in fact they tend to put it off as Cain being a flittery flutter-head with no attention span at all.

In truth he's got the patience of a hundred Jobs almost literally in fact.

"Mmm…the thing is that when I move in a ley line I have to go where it goes, so…pathing is sub-optimal. Still, the speed boost more than made up for it. NYC to Tampo in twenty minutes was not bad at all." He ponders. "With a conventional jet, not including boarding times and such, about two hours or so for the same trip."

At the question about ley lines, Cain's brow furrows. "A little…they're sort of like rivers…only instead of water, they carry magic. I'm sure that's gross oversimplification." Another volume. "But that's in general, is it not?"

"That is a viable generalization of ley lines, yes. It would help even the mundane to understand."

Someone's been hanging around Kent, guru of the mystical in the household, for…some years if Ambrose is using terms like 'mundane'.

"My own perusing informed me that certain locations historically shrouded in mystery and correspondingly mysterious events are likely a point where these ley lines meet. I have heard them also described as 'veins' or 'vessels', as in rock or flesh. In them flow magic which can be tapped, as you yourself have observed. These courses may be charted if one is sensitive to them. My mate has referred to them as 'lung-mei' before — 'dragon paths'," the argent-haired Jackal explains. His lambence-lit eyes drop to the current Atlas being read and rise back to Cain's face. "Know you of the convergence here in the city?"

"Compared to an actual /mage/, I *am* mundane, Lieutenant. I can't craft spells, my abilities are inherent, not trained. And I have precious little practical experience with the supernatural and less training." Another volume. "What little I know was learned the hard way, trial and error."

He doesn't seem to mind the pendantic, not even a smidge. "Mm…I went with the river, similar function, I think, path of least resistance —form's pools, that sort of thing." He takes out a pad, swiftly jotting down notes 'lung-mei', got it.

"Convergence? Actually…no, I do not."

Ambrose notes Cain's pad and blurring pen with a subtle nod of approval. Good. Even if one half of his existence revolves around chasing the Ambulatory Pastry like Coyote did the Roadrunner, the other half in refinement and vague rue at having only a partial friend in young Cain wishes to help. He too remembers being untutored in the Bane and the grind of experimentation and failure along with successes.

"Indeed, there is a convergence. It is located in Greenwich Village beneath a particular brownstone manor which…granted, you will never observe me within one-hundred yards if it can be managed. My mate has informed me that an individual named the Sorcerer Supreme lives on the property and guards what is called the 'Dragon Ley Line', from whence he draws immense magic and empowers the god-proof wardings on the abode."

Jackal and Jackrabbit perhaps? Cain is no bird…not in any sense of the term, Brit or otherwise. That they both had to struggle to learn the basics would very much surprise Cain, Ambrose always seems to worldly to the lad. Quite worldly in fact, maybe even OTHERworldly!

He's at least half right in that much!

More notes are taken on the convergence under Greenwich Vllage. "Sorcerer Supreme, gods proof, power." He murmurs. "Dragon Ley Line…?" A shake of his head. "It seems a bit…much. Outside my usual wheelhouse."

"This information is only hear-say, but I trust my mate to a level paramount." Again, the Jackal shifts in the chair, bringing in his stretched leg with a subtle susurrus of heel dragging on the Oriental carpet. "If you attempt to touch the ley line there, do be ready for a reaction from the man…or perhaps the property itself. I would not dare either."

And this is leveled as a solemn manner of warning coming from the generally hubris-bound master-thief. His eyes haven't strayed from Cain now for the entire duration of their interaction. Now the Bane begins to slink closer, metaphysically sniffing at the pie on the windowsill.

"You might see about Stonehenge…or the Glastonbury Tor. There is no currently inhabited architecture upon them," suggests Ambrose with a whimsical undertone.

Notebook set aside (after he adds Stonehenge and Glastonbury Tor), Cain moves onto the last of the Atlas volumes, he'll be a while sorting out what he just read, but still. "I'll consider the information from a credible source." Cain assures, and then blinks, because he really does. Some of his suspicion of Ambrose has been eroded. At this rate they'll be drinking each other's health in only a few years!

"And no, with a title like 'Sorcerer Surpreme', which I'm sure is nothing like a burrito supreme from Taco Bell, not someone I think I'd want to tangle with."

As the Bane approaches, Cain starts to feel that hunger, and looks at Ambrose. "It is never sated, is it?"


The affirmation of the Bane's hunger falls like the knell of a distant bell, long abandoned and clanging forlornly in a dusty wind.

"But…my apologies, Master Cain. I do not mean to disturb." This time, apparently. Reeling in the Bane as one might a curious dog, Ambrose then goes about rising to his feet. He plucks the strip of paper from the pages of his book and pockets it once more. "I have other things to attend upon within the city and these require some travel. I needs must begin walking now if I am to reach them in a timely manner." Low in his words, a resentful lack of energy that he bulls and lies through as he shrugs on his outer coat with ease. His book, a truly ancient-looking thing with leather cover and embossed titling rather than printed word, is taken up respectfully again.

Cain then receives a nod, once more the target of those gleaming red pupils. "Be well, Master Cain, in your studies. If you dare to attempt the Dragon Ley Line…" The Jackal with hair starshine-silver grins, dimpling, his teeth gleaming and incisors just that touch sharper than human. "…do survive to tell me the tale, hmm?"

As he then goes to depart from the Library Room, it won't be missed how he attempts to cover exhaustion in every line of his body. Still, pride is bone-deep and he refuses to let his spine slouch in front of company lesser known.

"You really didn't, you gave me information I lacked." And you reeled in your Bane when it wanted to eat me! That part thought only, and unsaid. "Trust me, I'll not be poking the Dragon Ley Line, so survival won't be tested." A nod. "Not /there/, anyway."

Visibly torn, he ponders, and then moves to intercept Ambrose. "Odds are I can get you where you to go on time…can I offer you a lift?" Literally.

And there goes the Bane even as Ambrose turns to look over his shoulder. As he does, that eerie fluidity of motion overtakes the mortal tiredness of his frame and the Bane-glow in his gaze begins to attempt to expand further, to beguile the speedster with his violet-hued energy tasting of mist and pennies and something otherworldly in its sweetness, like a fine glass of port.

Now turning to face Cain, the Jackal checks it again at the young man's proximity, this time hard enough to twitch his own lips. His throat works and then he finds his voice, this gone raspy. "I am concerned you would be bitten, Master Cain, so it is perhaps not the best idea at this time. Were my hair not this shade, you might not consider it, hmm?" He makes tease at its lighter color in contrast to the youth yet of his features. "I thank you, but no. Allow an old man his pride."

And this is why Kent sometimes throws back gin like Pepto-Bismol.

"Enjoy your reading," bids the master-thief as he then makes himself walk away from the Ambulatory Pastry. The Bane screels…and he ignores it. After all, there is business to attend to. The curse can nibble in the subway car.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License