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The Weight of Wealth (IC)


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Thursday, September 13th, 2018


The British Museum






It was a balmy, comfortable afternoon outside of the world-renowned British Museum, its halls lined with patrons and on-lookers as they perused and browsed the multitude of stunning exhibits. It was a busy day, to say the least, the halls bombarded equally by enthusiasts and children on field trips as they filled the corridors with noise and laughter.


Inside the curator's office, the dinning drum of the noise outside was quieted somewhat, the shut doors providing a modest reprieve. But Cassie wasn't here for her role as a curator, despite the short-staffed situation going on at the museum currently. No, she'd been summoned, and though the curator was busy filling in throughout the British Museum and assisting its many fresh-faced and veteran visitors alike, they were polite enough to provide the office with which to await the visitor - one Doctor Thomas Ritterton - who'd come seeking her out specifically, though the details of this visit were vague at best. All that could be inferred for certain was that the gravitas of the visit was one, the curator assured her over the phone, worth investigating.


The office itself was well-decorated and finely furnished while still bearing an air of professionalism. Fine wood and expert craftsmanship were everywhere within the modest office of the curator, placards and awards lined with strategic precision on the walls alongside famous faces. Even a few pieces of history had found a home behind thick, immovable glass display cases bolted to the floor, a testament to the current regime's success - with a little help - in acquiring strange and exotic bits of history.


A knock came to the door at that moment, careful and melodic, before a well-dressed man entered. He was an older gentleman, perhaps in his mid-fifties and sporting a bald head sharply contrasted by a thick but well-maintained peppered beard and mustache. Though he was aged and the cane he carried clacked with each step, it also did so with purpose, with drive. Even weathered as such he was someone who oozed confidence, his well-tailored navy blue suit complimenting his frame perfectly.


"Good afternoon to you," he greeted, his voice raspy and refined like aged brandy, replete with a thick and warm British accent. "My name is Doctor Thomas Ritterton. Might you be Miss Crow?" piped the older gentleman with surprising energy, eyeing the young archaeologist with the same sort of respectfulness one might a well-learned colleague.

Edited by SpicyWaffle
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Cassie was in a neutral dress and heels, looking professional and academic - or at least she hopes. She was not exactly uncomfortable in such formal wear, but it was not her natural habitat either. 


The British Museum, however, was. She shook Doctor Ritterton's hand confidently. "That's right, Doctor Ritterton. It's a pleasure to meet you. Can I offer you a drink?" she asked politely, indicating the drinks cabinet that had, pride of place, some of the finest port you might place on lips. 


She felt rather impressed with the man's presence, intelligent and warm, rich and experienced. Much like the port itself. 

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"God, yes," the good doctor exclaimed at the proposal for a refreshment, sauntering his way to meet Cassie half-way. Limp aside, Doctor Ritterton was amazingly spry for his age! Perhaps given fifteen years off of his age, he might have been the archetypal explorer; even now his physique belied his experience, his eyes keen and focused as he watched his younger counterpart pour beverage.


"Tell me, Miss Crow: how familiar are you with the isles of Indonesia?" he inquired, taking the glass delicately and nodding in respectful thanks for the refreshment. Behind a facade of politeness, even now he was studying her like a piece of machinery, trying to decipher its inner-mechanisms without outright disassembling it. "I've a lead on something potentially extraordinary, and rumor has it you're one of the best in the field when it comes to historical retrieval."

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"Indonesia? I can put it on a map" replied Cassie. "But I have never been. Would like to, but my life is rather busy. And I can't speak Malay"


She could speak a dozen languages, but not Malay!


"Other than that, its an interesting place. Islamic, multi-cultural, a collection of islands with a rich history. Biodiverse" she concluded. She knew the history of course, but she always felt that there was something more solid in an understanding of a place when one had actually been there. 


"And if you are dangling that rumour in front of me, don't wory. Consider me hooked!"

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"Splendid, splendid!" exclaimed the elderly aficionado, draining the glass swiftly. "You'll be pleased to know this rumor could change the very nature of history, in fact. All it takes is one courageous soul to make the trip and uncover the truth."


Setting the glass aside, Ritterton fished into his coat, pulling out two particular pieces: one, a modern day map of Indonesia and it's islands, while the other was an old capsule of indistinct origin, weather-stained ancient by even ancient standards.


"What I hold here, Miss Crow, is an adventure of a lifetime."


Delicately, precisely, Ritterton made room on the large oaken table in the office, unfurling the more modern map first as he pointed to it with astounding accuracy. "So, as you can see, Miss Crow, this is Indonesia as we know it today. Flores, Borneo, Sumbawa. You get the idea," Doctor Ritterton pointed out, before gently pulling the top of the capsule open and giving it a bit of a shake, revealing, perhaps unsurprisingly, another map. This one wasn't as tasteful as parchment, chiefly given the medium the inky but uncannily detailed map was penned on: flesh.


"You'll forgive the morbidity of it all, I hope," begged the good doctor. "I'd scarcely believed it myself when it came into my possession, but you'll be pleased to know this particular map is one-of-a-kind, and more than eleven centuries old, preserved in no small part to whichever baffling way its creator's preserved the leather."


Spreading the skin-map on the table beside the less-than-gross counterpart already present, Ritterton tapped his finger on a small speck not found on the modern version. "Right here, between Mangoli and Obi Island. What you're looking at is an island that doesn't exist - or rather, and island that did exist, and was stricken from the written records by the people of Malay. All that exists now are oral traditions; stories of an island ruled by a vile despot who'd unlocked the secret of turning lead to gold or some such by means which, frankly, vary from story to story. Details are, at best, sketchy."


"But!" continued the doctor as he fished back into his coat, taking out a coin of unmistakably albeit stained solid gold, marked in strange writings and alien symbology, passed it into Cassie's hand. "It seems there's some truth to the myth. No other coinage in Indonesia has been minted as such. What you hold is one-of-a-kind, and a testament that there's a kernel of truth worth investigating. Something that, if it truly exists and can be uncovered, could very well be the greatest find since King Tut himself."

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Cassie studied the maps with great interest. Not just the geography, but the substance. This was not the first map of human flesh she had seen (And in fact the British Museum had worse locked away from public consumption without special request), but it remained unpalatable. 


"Someone's literally scrubbed it off the map" she concluded. "And seeing as it doesn't appear in any modern map, with all out satellites and so on, that's some spectacular feat. Either this is some global consipiracy, a scientific marvel, or some Eldritch machination" she concluded. 


"Or possibly all three" she added, studying the coin. 


"In any case, I sense an adventure coming on! TIme to visit Indonesia!"




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"Right-o! That's the spirit!" chirped Ritterton, his enthusiasm practically ebbing off of his only slightly doughy physique. "I've an interest in getting to the bottom of this mystery as well, Miss Crow, so I shall be accompanying you. You'll need an interpreter at any rate, and once we've arrived in Mangoli, I can put you in touch with a man I'm acquainted with whom, with luck, can lead us in the right direction. He was the first to uncover our mysterious map, and has been dedicating himself for the better half of a year to uncovering its origin."


Fixing himself another drink and downing it swiftly, the good doctor's face had become flush with a youthful vim most unbecoming of his age; a hint of that old adventurous fortitude revealing itself, if only momentarily.


"Fetch what you'll need for the trip, Miss Crow. I shall make all the necessary arrangements," sputtered the fifty-something historian as he turned to leave. Almost as an afterthought, he whirled back on the heel of his tailored shoes with a gentle screech and a clack. "Oh! And, if you would, I think you ought to hold tight to this," he added, passing the vaguely canopic canister that once held the skin-map to Cassie, as well as his own business card. "If you've time, familiarize yourself with it, please. I believe I've stared at it long enough that the damned thing's burned into my brain, and gleaned little else beyond its age and byproduct besides a general location and nightly headaches."


"Ring me once you've finalized your procurements, Miss Crow. This time tomorrow we'll be air-bound for Mangoli Island!" And with that, Doctor Ritterton saw himself out, moving amazingly briskly given his limp out the door and down the noisy hallway of the British Museum, leaving Snakebite to her newest lead on the road to a rich, potentially ground-breaking discovery.

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"It will be a pleasure to have your company" replied Cassie, thinking an interpreter would be most handy. Arabic and English might do at times, but a native speaker was far superior. 


"Ill take a look, Doctor Ritterton" she said, holding on to the map case. 


With a day or so before the flight, her time was spent studying the case, and looking through the records of the British Library. She had never heard of this island, but you never know, obscure references and myths might now be less obscure and more real with this new information. Of course, the world was aflood (no pun intended) with myths of sunken islands and sunken cities, and getting to grips with the truth was a tough business. 


But you never knew...

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Like a bloodhound on the scent, Cassie Crow had once again proven her expertise in finding even the most obscure, obtuse, and seemingly unrelated history. Seemingly being the keyword there.


It took time, but with dogged determination, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. Right on the money, there were other islands in Indonesia once upon a time ago. Many more, in fact. But there was one in particular that kept cropping up, albeit with only a passing mention here or a cursory murmur there: Carrawessi, and its ruler At'tay.


Reports placed the island all over the Indonesian waters; sometimes it was due northeast in a few rare entries, others listed it as south of Borneo. But one finding in particular managed to shed at least a modicum of light on it. There was a story repeated here and there, but the details were vague at best. The important bits weren't so much where it was as much as what it was: an island with silver trees, golden shores, and a temple emblazoned with gems in every color. But At'tay - or so the story goes - was less than benevolent, for he was once a dukun before his corruption by unknown means. He took with him slaves and servants, and through their suffering learned the secret to transform the unremarkable into the remarkable; lead into gold, so to speak. But it came with a terrible price, and the curse upon the island saw the ruin of At'tay before it vanished, never to be seen again.


Digging further into musty old tomes of myth and lore, Cassie came across another interesting tidbit: an 18th century book entitled "Legends Beyond the Setting Sun," by one Doctor Arthur P. Kilpatrick. Inside, a tragic tale spoke of a young priest - a dukun on the island of Carrawessi - beset by an unbearable choice. Though he was young and powerful in the ways of the spirits and the people of the island were counting on him, he was also in love, and his wife and children had become sick beyond even the means of his powers to cure. It was here that a malevolent spirit spoke to the young priest, promising that his family would not fall to the sickness if he but sacrificed his dearest and closest friend. Heavy with grief, the young priest finally agreed as the final stages of sickness began to set in, and in so doing slew his friend. The demon, ever clever, held its end of the bargain and informed the priest to touch his wife and children. He did so, and spared them from the withering disease by turning them to silver. Heartbroken, the priest went mad. Unable to take his frustrations out upon the demon itself, he sought out his kin and friends, repeating the acts of murder and transmutation in the vain and impossible hope of a different outcome until the island, bloated and heavy, sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking the poor priest with it.


Beyond dusty books and weathered scrolls, other avenues revealed some truth to these stories. Though the microfiche down in the restricted section of the basement of the British Museum was worn and damaged by the time it had been added to the collection, remnants of an old Spanish sailor's diary from the mid-17th century told the story of landing on a surprisingly similar island in sparse bits, much of it illegible. Some, however, had survived the trials of time, the most pertinent of which painted a blood-chilling epilogue of their final days:


"... lost upon the coast. Strange things stalk us in the day, and their screams haunt our dreams. There is no respite. From twelve we are now four. Wealth lies at our fingertips, but I fear we will not live to spend it. Ricardo believes if we can make it within the temple, we can bar the inside, perhaps long enough to form a raft to sail back to civilization upon. No rescue is coming. We should have known better than to follow the face of the coins we'd found. I pray to God that within this temple lies salvation, and not a gilded tomb. I wish only to see Safina's face one more time..." The rest of the journal is unfortunately pocked with water damaged and various splotches of unknown origin.

Edited by SpicyWaffle
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Myths and legends, giving an obscured look at the past. She closed the last book that lokoed worringly like it had be bound in human flesh, with a satisfaction at he work. The tale was a familiar enough archetype, although it was more bleak and poetic than most "Sorcery gone wrong" types. She could only imagine that At'tay, if he was real (And she suspected he was), was neither good nor bad. Just a man with power in his hands and pain in his heart. 


The mystery was ripening. She could hardly wait to get on the plane. Or, more accurately, to get off it. 


Packing a few books and maps, and her clothes, she went to board a privately chartered jet...


Well, wealth had some privileges. 


And, of course, her tranq - gun and whip needed to come. 


You could never be too careful...

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Friday, September 14th, 2018

Snakebite's Private Jet






The initial takeoff en-route to the island of Mangoli had been a bit rocky. Weather, as always seems to be the case when it comes time for an important flight, had begun to rear its ugly head. A little luck can go a long way though, as Doctor Ritterton had arrived at the airport just in-time to board Cassie's own personal airline before the old grey clouds creeping through the sky could put a damper on their plans. Now safely above the storm, the things were looking much more promising. With luck, perhaps the fifteen-hour flight cut even be cut down!


"You'll have to forgive me. Flying has always made me a tad nervous," joked the good doctor, skin paling as he stared out into the wild blue as he dabbed at the sweat forming on his brow with his handkerchief. Just as before he was impeccably well-dressed, this time in a surprisingly flattering shade of muted plaid. Admittedly, he'd also brought far too much luggage than was likely necessary; two suitcases, each filled to the point of bursting with clothing and accessories, and another, larger one slammed to the brim with old books, to say nothing of the laptop satchel sitting in the chair beside him. "Bad experiences and all that."


Pulling the curtain down over the window, the graying archaeologist shifted his gaze back to the young aficionado, lacing his fingers together if only to prevent himself from twiddling his own thumbs. "So! What's the good word, Miss Crow? Any good fortune in uncovering the origins of our mysterious man-map?"

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Cassie didn't particularly like flying, but it held no particularly noxious status either. Instead, she helped herself to a Gin and Tonic and continued pondering some of the books and maps she had packed. 


She wondered what his bad experiences were, and decided not to ask. Not, at least, whilst on the plane. 


"History isn't really a precise science is it? I guess that's part of why I love it. Still, I uncovered something..."


She gave a potted synopsis over ten minutes, showing him the fruits of her labours. 


"Which, I suppose, gives us a strong indication of what we might find. I hope you aren't allergic to silver" she smiled. 

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"God, no," waived Ritterton, his complexion slowly returning to a warmer shade reminiscent of a slightly less portly Santa Claus. "Quite the contrary. I've long learned to appreciate the value of silver after that little dust-up back in the eighties with those werewolves," the doctor mentioned offhandedly, as if this was just a perfectly normal thing to talk about.


"Listen, once we arrive in Mangoli, we're to head for the port to meet Doctor Tate. He's a fellow scholar - an anthropologist - who's been studying the history of the indigenous peoples of Indonesia, and the brave fellow who'd sent us our new lead. I haven't been back in years, but I suspect little has changed. When we arrive you'll get the full-on tourist experience," the doctor continued before growing deathly serious. "Once we get out of the airport, however, I must insist that you remain on your best behavior. The natives are slow to warm, and quick to... well, let's just say that many of the locals don't take kindly to folks like you and I, Miss Crow."


Ritterton fished into his coat, pulling free a flask of indeterminate liquid and downed a swig in a swift, solid gulp.


"Now, Tate assured me if anything new about our map and coin came to light he would he'd be glad to share, though he couldn't say much over the horn this morning when I dialed him. We've just got to make it there in one piece."

Edited by SpicyWaffle
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"Doctor Tate? Sounds perfect" replied Cassie. 


"Slow to warm and quick to anger?" she finished his sentence. "Hazards of travelling. At least to some parts. I have had a few scrapes in my time" she conceded. "But don't worry, Ritterton. I know how to be diplomactic and tactful. Ill swallow my enthusiasm in the name of patience" she smiled. Truth was, it wouldn't be an easy or tasty swallow. This mystery had got her very excited, and she was willing the jet to fly faster. 


"I don't want things to get rough. But, in my experience, its best to plan ahead..."


She opened up her hand bag and showed him the Tranq-gun revolver. 


"Just in case..."

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Saturday, September 15th, 2018


Mongoli, Indonesia


Mid Morning




The arrival into the tiny airport of Mongoli was a humdrum event at best. Here, in the heart of the urban environment of the island, the English language was plentiful and well-spoken, accents notwithstanding. Despite its meager size, it was a bustling, busy locale, tourists, businessmen, and locals alike milling through the airport on phones or with definite purpose. Outside of the airport, however, is a different story.


"Stay close, Miss Crow," insisted Doctor Ritterton as he adjusted his sunhat. As the pair stepped out from the confined, air conditioned terminal, the sun blasted down with all the anger and fury it could muster. Raw humidity met in equal measure, and no sooner had Ritterton and Snakebite made their way out were they beset by a throng of locals.

"Hello! Welcome to Mongoli!" a middle-aged woman chimed in coarse English, a fistful of handmade beaded necklaces clenched in her fist. "Care to buy? One of a kind just for a pretty lady like you!" Right behind her came another suitor, this one a gentleman in a half-buttoned shirt "See the sights! Maps only ten rupiah!" while another promised "Real Mongoli seashells! Take one home to your kids!" and so on and so forth. It was like wading through knee-high water, except they were pushy people trying to make a quick buck. Ritterton, thankfully, knew the way as he pushed through the throng, leading Cassie down the narrow roads and into the town proper.


"My word. It wasn't this crowded last I was here," the good doctor stated with apt surprise, violently dabbing at his face with his kerchief as sweat poured from him like water from a stream. "Once we rendezvous with Doctor Tate, we'll see about getting ourselves a place for the night and start fresh. I can't speak for you, but sixteen hours of flight time has left this old bulldog more than a tad lagged!"


As the two walked into the township, it was clear the architecture was well-maintained and stunningly painted, the blending of the tropical sun and naturally shading flora a lovely compliment. Here, Cassie got a good glimpse of the residents' daily lives. In the distance she could spy a woman carrying a jar atop her head, her loose clothing and breezy wrap around her head looking oddly cool and refreshing in comparison to the scorching clime. Closer, two boys were playing with a makeshift basket and ball. The scent of sizzling fish from one of the multitude of open windows filled the streets with a pleasant aroma spices and home-cooked cuisine.


Ritterton whistled and waved frantically, flagging down a young man with what looked to be a rickshaw. The two briefly conversed, the language flowing fast and smoothly from both men's tongues before Ritterton turned back to face his younger counterpart.


"This gentleman has agreed to carry us down to the port," he explained. "We'll be there in a jiffy!"


With all due haste, Cassie and Doctor Ritterton were whisked beyond the borders of the town. In no time at all the dynamic expeditionary duo were dropped off along the southern shore, small boats visible in the distance against the ocean's crystal blue waters. For all the splendor and beauty of the natural environment before them, the buildings were decidedly less so. Weathered and beaten by storms, they looked ramshackle at best, the scent of slightly molded wood and sea salt mixing to form a palpable taste in the air.


"Here we are," Ritterton pressed, pointing a finger towards a wiggly, loose sign over what looked to be some sort of dive bar, as grimy on the outside as it likely was within. "The good doctor has agreed to meet us here. Come along, Miss Crow. Let's not keep our esteemed colleague waiting."


Inside the establishment, the odor of spilled liquor and sweat permeated the makeshift port-side bar. Though it was early in the day, even now there were men and women, all of various dispositions, frittering away their hard earned money on booze and cheap laughs. At the main bar, a portly, dark-skinned man with arms as thick as pythons was tending drinks, his shirt immaculately pressed but also visibly stained. Ritterton gauged the bar like a trained surveyor, his lips curling into an upset look.


"It doesn't appear our friend has arrived," he murmured in a whisper to Snakebite, giving his chin a thoughtful stroke. "I suppose our only recourse is to wait. Since I've the tongue for it, I'll see if I can drum up some information on the local goings-on. How about you fetch us a few drinks, hmm? I'm quite parched." Rifling into his suit, Thomas passed a handful of colorful bills into Snakebite's hand. "Have no fear. The language of refreshments is universal. Haha!"

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Cassie Crow was, for her part, enjoying the menu of sensations. How she loved travelling! Or, more accurately, how she loved arriving somewhere new. 


Travelling to somewhere new was a bit of a drag.


How preferable this locale in comparison to the jet plane! (Although the Gin and Tonic had been rather nice). 


She could not resist buying a few foods from this stall and another, all - in her estimation - delicious. 


Doctor Tate being late was mildly concerning, but she imagined this part of the world didn't operate on strict clock watching. "If you can ask around, do so, but I would be discreet. And careful. If something has gone awry with Doctor Tate, asking questions about him overtly is likely to be dangerous" she explained. 


"In the mean time, Ill get another shot of Gin. If they have it. Its a good drink for bar-room brawls!" she said, laughing gently. 



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Making her way to the uncrowded bar was as easy as could be, the tourist crowds that traditionally ruined the native experience yet to slip in for the late afternoon and early evening festivities that often marked an otherwise successful island-bound adventure. Even as she did so, though, Cassie could feel the eyes of the locals on her. It wasn't scorn or malice as much as it was mistrust, that burning curiosity and murmured whispers under their breaths a dead giveaway for how they felt.


"What can I get you, ma'am?" the native, portly fellow tending the bar inquired in surprisingly good (albeit heavily accented) English, his thick eyebrows arching slightly as his face took on the cheap facade of 'I'm here to serve but would rather not.'


But someone was really watching. A well-timed glance and the source of that sensation soon became obvious to Miss Crow: off in the corner, dressed as tourists in brightly colored and festive shirts along with comfortable, casual slacks were two men, both Caucasian, their hair cut short and clean against their heads. They were well-built, and were it not for the fact one of them was wearing a shirt that plainly read "I ❤️ Mongoli' on it they might have been an intimidating sight in comparison to the patrons already aligned at their respective tables. What was more alarming, however, was the it wasn't just that they were watching her - it's that they were watching and trying not to be caught. If their posture were anything to go on, they might be military or something close to it.

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"Gin and Tonic. Easy on the tonic" replied Cassie politely, pushing forward a little more money than was necessary. A lot more money than necessary actually. 


"And give me your opinion on those tourists over there" she asked him, calmly, nodding her head at the two men who looked suspiciously like military men. "They look like trouble to me..." she said. 


It was said gently, a subtle suggestion rather than a definitive nail. Like placing a light feather of suspicion on someones brain. 

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Silently, the barkeep skewed his glance towards the comically dressed men in the corner, their eyes a baleful scourge against Cassie - and, to a lesser degree, Doctor Ritterton - as he surreptitiously scooted the money into his hands and below the bar.


"Been here a few weeks," he explained as he began to pour Cassie's drink. "Showed up around the same time this other fellow did. Very scholarly, well-dressed in white. Asked a lot of questions about local legends," he continued, giving the bottle of gin an extra little tip to top the glass off. "This gentleman came in one day, then they showed up. Said they were friends. After the well-dressed man - Cate? Mate? Something like that - passed out, they were nice enough to take him home. Been coming by here ever since."


The portly owner of the bar gave the archaeologist a sideways glance.


"They never get more than one or two drinks, and they always chase it. Never take part in karaoke. Always sit at the same table, right where they can see the door. Thought about asking them to leave, but... well, you can guess why I didn't. They look like tourists, but I've seen enough tourists to know that's not how you have fun."

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"Thanks" smiled Cassie. That was useful. Not proof, of course. But she trusted the Barkeeps instincts. These guys were trouble. 


Trouble to whom, and trouble to what - well, that was as yet unknown. But trouble, nonetheless. 


She returned to Ritterton.


"Keepy your eyes on me, and keep drinking. But not too much she started" her voice soft. "But we have company. They look like tourists. They aren't. They are spying on us. Barkeep thinks they might have something to do with a certain man dressed in white. Im pretty sure they kidnapped Tate..." she started. 


"So they have information. And Id like to beat it out of them....but not here" she explained. 

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Ritterton, previously deep in conversation with one of the locals, grew first pale then flushed with a vivid crimson as Cassie filled the good doctor in on her findings.


"Those scoundrels!" he snarled, anger rife even in his hushed whisper to his younger counterpart as they stepped away from the tables. All the while the two men who clearly weren't tourists watched; even if they couldn't see it, the eerie sensation of someone just watching was acutely obvious now. "They must have discovered Tate had found something of significance and deduced he'd shared that information. The poor doctor wouldn't hurt a fly; he likely never saw it coming. If you're certain these blokes are behind this... this... felonious kidnapping, then I say we give them what-for! But how are we to draw them from this den of debauchery, Miss Crow?"

Edited by SpicyWaffle
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"Simple!" she answered, hoping that it was indeed simple. 


She gave him an encouraging wink. 


"So YOU have TATES JOURNAL?" she asked him loudly. "The ONE WHERE HE WROTE DOWN mumble mumble mumble CONSPIRACY?" she asked him even more loudly. Shocked. 


"I CANT BELIEVE THAT mumble mumble WAS BEHIND IT! AND HE HAS mumble mumble AS EVIDENCE?" she added, quite emphatic now. 


"YOU HAVE TO SHOW ME...BUT NOT HERE! LETS GO OUTSIDE and mumble mumble mumble" she said, quite certain of her imaginary and non existant plan. 

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There was a sort of elegance to Cassie's lack of elegance. Whether it was dumb luck, gullibility, or some sort of blind fixation on some unknown objective, if the two trained men watching her were any indication that they'd taken an interest in the subtly dropped cues, then they might as well be salivating like dogs at the sight of a fresh bone. While it caused more than a few heads to turn and observed the young archaeologist and her elderly counterpart with equal parts skepticism and questioning her sanity, the trap was laid. And just like a house of cards tumbling down in the game of checkers, it all fell into place perfectly.




Stepping outside into the midday sun again, the shade of the nearby trees providing a measurable degree of protection from the sweltering heat, it wasn't long before the two oddly dressed goons sauntered out grimly behind Cassie and Ritterton. As long as she and Ritterton could were moving at a brisk pace and in relative public, it was a safe bet that the men would follow along like sheep following a shepherd. Now all Snakebite had to do was orchestrate the final masterstroke of her strategem...

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Of course, they did not walk too fast. One could not reel the bait in too quickly. 


They peeled off down a smaller road, towards the docks. She started guiding Ritterton towards less well lit, dim, and empty streets by the dock, until eventually she thrust him (quick but gently) around a corner. 


"Take cover. Ill get out little fishes" she whispered, noting, with a certain pleasure, that it is was in the docks that the fishing would be done. 


She drew out her tranq-gun. Ideally, knocking out one would be good. And keeping one awake for a bit of interrogation and intimidation. 


She crept forward, boots sliding against the concrete, almost silently...

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With a quick, hurried nod, Ritterton took Cassie's suggestion from the corner she'd pulled him down, though the look on his face suggested he would have rather stood and fought. But honor her wishes he did, dipping into a nearby shack from where he could look on silently through the window, the building's roof half-collapsed and its door utterly missing as he disappeared into the shadowed room within.


Cassie didn't have to wait long for her would-be ambushees to fall into her trap. Having taken the bait, the two men rounded the corner into the dimly lit alley. Though it might have been hard for his colleague to see it, Cassie was blessed by a good look on the would-be thug's face as a dart found its mark.


"Hrk!" he grunted, peeling the offending obstruction from his tee-shirt, the dart striking home square on the "❤️" portion of his Mongoli-themed tourist garb. It took only a moment before the first signs of weariness took hold, the man shaking his head to clear it before reaching behind his back to reveal a heavy, collapsible baton!


"You stupid little girl! Give us the journal! Now!" his uninjured partner barked, revealing an equally menacing baton.

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