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Nyrath

Calling Collect

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Wilhelm von Treissen had kept himself mostly out of the general bustle of superhuman activity around the city, nothing to unusual about the given the fact that he was part of the mystic subculture. And like many of his magically inclined peers he'd been busy despite that, unlike most of his peers he'd made his business almost exclusively upon earth. For despite his generally high degree of power Wilhelm didn't have as extensive a library as one might expect.

True, Howard Gentle had managed to collect a, for his degree of ability, impressive collection of mystical writings; he even had a copy of the Butterfly Dictum. But that was just it, for his degree of ability. Wilhelm, even as reduced as he was now, possessed arcane power which dwarfed anything the lesser mage had been able to muster. So he needed to expand the collection that was now his.

It had take quite some time, and there had been some amusing and/or interesting diversions along the way, but at last he had nailed down to the location of something major. A copy of The Pillars of Bhât, or at the very least one of them. The only snag was that their location wasn't just enough, there happened to be a few obstacles there as well.

Well, as luck, and a bit of foresight would have it, he did know where to get his hands on a bit of aid. One of those diversions during his search for just about anything of worth to add to his library had been a stop in Marrakesh, not to long ago in fact. He'd dealt with a rampaging demon-possession there, and now he ought to be able to call in some assistance.

In fact he had only just completed a ritualistic spell that would compel the entity to come to him. Not to drastic though, breaking whatever cover Belphegor had made for himself wouldn't be favourable for further dealings.

The elderly mage settled down in his favoured armchair with a few books; no need for the wait to be tedious.

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Jos Terhune had finally managed to get his antiques shoppe in Riverside open, after an unexpected amount of effort. He'd thought it would be a far simpler matter, but perhaps that was just his other side talking. But, hindsight is always 20/20, and he had little time to worry over how he should have done things. Instead, he focused on the here and now, specifically on the older woman who was purchasing what she had been lead to believe was a 75-year-old sterling silver pendant with an art deco-era cameo depicting Diana, Roman goddess of the the moon, the hunt, and chastity. In reality, it was a fake, though a very good one, as was the case with the majority of the goods in his shoppe.

"A pleasure doing business with you, madame," he said as he handed her her purchase, carefully nestled in a (faux) velvet-lined box. "Do come again!"

As he went back to re-count the earnings, he became discomforted by a buzzing sensation in the back of his head, not unlike the one he had felt when he first came to Freedom City, and yet noticeably different as well. It had been there for the better part of the day, but not so much that it couldn't be drowned out by busying himself with other tasks, but as the day wore on it was definitely getting stronger. Hrrmmm... it's not Legend... but who?

Fortunately for Jos's plans, no one else was in his shoppe, and it was late in the afternoon, so he closed up early. He raced upstairs -- a section blocked to patrons by a velvet rope strung across it, as well as a sign indicating No Admittance -- and to his bedroom. He disrobed, somewhat hastily, then cleared his mind to concentrate for a moment.

Change! Change, O mortal form!

Release the might from fleshy mire!

Boil the blood in heart of fire!

Gone! Gone! -- the mortal form --

Rise, the Demon Belphegor!!

The Dutch man's body glowed as if lit from within, and grew nearly half a foot in height and double that in girth. His skin took on a dark red color and visibly hardened into scales, with bone spurs sprouting from the elbows, knees, and ankles, and talons replacing his finger-and toenails. Short curving horns burst from his head, his face elongated into a fanged muzzle beneath orange reptilian eyes, great batlike wings erupted form his back, and a long heavy tail lashed out behind him. (As part of the binding ritual the unknown sorcerer had enacted on him in Marrakesh, scarlet trunks mercifully materialized on him to afford him some decency, a component the sorcerer referred to as "a Spell of Modesty".)

And now that he was more 'himself,' the buzzing was more intense. But there was another difference -- the intensity changed depending on which way he faced, indicating a direction to the source.

"This'd better be good..."

Clambering out the bedroom window -- and again making plans to put in a skylight -- the demon took off into the night sky, and made his way towards a mansion in Port Regal. He landed not far outside of it, and cautiously approached, circling it to size it up. As he approached th front door, it swung open, seemingly beckoning him in.

"Hunh."

After a moment's debate, he strode in, puffing himself and stoking his own internal hellfires, practically glowing with dark power.

And that's when he saw the sorcerer from Marrakesh.

"You!"

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Wilhelm had been waiting for the last few minutes at the end of the hallway, his calling spell having alerted him to the later stages of Bel's approach. As he spoke to the heavily muscled demon the elderly man seemed perfectly at ease, both his voice and manner calm and collected. He might as well have been speaking to the mail man rather than a six foot three demon nearly glowing with infernal power.

"Ah, Belphegor. I am glad you could make it here so quickly. If you would be so kind as to just follow me I will explain why I have called you here." The white haired sorcerer gestured for his guest to follow and then simply strode of down one arm of the T-sectioned hallway, trusting in his extra-senses to tell him if said guest tried anything 'funny'.

The walk however is by no means long, just past one door on each side of the corridor the dark-clad mage strode through an open door, and can be found a moment later comfortably seated by one end of a sizeable table within a library. The table was covered with a spread of books, a few unbound scrolls, and adding a splash of the modern a handful of photocopies could be seen as well; evidently this was a much used room.

For now though the table end by which von Treissen is seated has been cleared off the scholarly detritus cluttering the rest of it and instead held a silver tea service, a Victorian one from around 1870 or so in case the connoisseur within the demon decided to take a closer look. Incidentally there was a rather decent selection of biscuits available as well, and a second chair of course, a rather sturdy one by the looks of it.

"Do have a seat, and then we can discuss just why I sent that call."

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The demon follows, and looks casually -- as casually as he can muster -- around the study. "So, this is how a powerful sorcerer lives... not too shabby. Nice tea set -- mid- or late-Victorian, yes?"

While his eyes kept going back to the tea set, and a few other items in the room, it was clear his focus was on the table of books & scrolls. "I can think of two reasons you've... called me." He walked around the collection, looking at but never touching any of the papers, "Either you've found reference to some item in this collected lore that you wish to acquire, or you have realized that this collection is incomplete and you're looking to remedy that. Either way," he continued as he moved to the large chair, standing behind and leaning on its back rather than sitting on it, "it's a task which requires something which I have, but you do not."

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"Ah, as observant as I expected. You are largely correct in all you've said regarding the calling. I do indeed know my collection is incomplete, and due to my goal regard it such it will remain even though its growth might never cease. And in my recently actions to expand my collection, of which our fortunate meeting in Marrakesh was part, I have uncovered the location of this." The old magician reached out and grabbed a transparent plastic sleeve containing an old slightly damaged piece of paper and placed it in front of the chair his guest was leaning on.

An illustration covered most of the paper, twelfth century west-European by the looks of it. Damaged as it was it's still possible to make out six pillars, each different in some way from the next. One is wreathed in flames, the one next to it has the body of a great serpent winding its way up it towards the top; the summits of both pillars have been lost to time. Another has survived largely intact and on its summit crouches the figure of a woman with a lions head with clutched in her hands, the forth is damaged much the like the first two although dark clouds can be seen massed behind it. The pen-ultimate column is damaged and crumbling and of the figure occupying its summit only one hand holding a horn as it's being played can be glimpsed due the material having crumbled away. The last pillar has also suffered damage, but its summit remains whole and on can be seen a slightly tarnished angelic figure with ragged black wings.

"The Pillars of Bhât. That's more of a figurative illustration than factual given that the pillars are actually scrolls of ancient demonic lore from the near east. What I have located isn't the originals of course given that those were carved on stone and clay tablets but a much later set of copies. They are currently locked within a vault below the ruins of a fortified mansion on Sicily. The site is warded against both scrying and teleportation which means the most efficient method of obtaining them is out of the picture. The precautions already taken also leads one to believe there are more safeguards in place against more conventional attempts to liberate the treasures within the vault.

What I require, which you possess, for this is the key to unlocking at least one of those safeguards. The key in this case being the ability to project hellfire according to my sources, and your not inconsiderate brawn wouldn't hurt either. I am to reimburse you with a sum of twenty-five thousand safe dollars for the inconvenience caused by lack of decent intelligence pertaining to the task, and of course whatever objects of a non-magical nature we might happen to liberate during the undertaking. That I am willing to share at least some of the magical lore involved shouldn't have to be stated should it?"

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"Sicily, hunh? That's a bit outside my usual tramping grounds," he said as he picked up and examined the illustration. "Not to mention, the last time I tussled with some Italians, I--"

The demon suddenly stopped mid-sentence, as if afflicted by a sudden migraine. After a moment he shook his head and wiped a bit of black ichor away from his nose.

"Hrmph, clever lil' witch... "

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As the infernal one was suddenly struck in some way mid-sentence, albeit fairly mildly given that the nosebleed seemed the only injury, Exile raises an eyebrow questioningly. Bel's quick comment about a 'lil' witch' does cause him to lower it again.

"From that quick little display there I take it you've ended up indebted in some manner, most likely a favour or two, to a lady with some magical ability. Given that where talking about Italians I guess it is someone connected to the local 'mob' families." The old man sighs and briefly pinches the bridge of his nose. "Another one to keep track of..."

"In any case I take it she's placed under some form of spell, likely a mild form of curse, to keep you from actually revealing who she is, why your indebted, and what you might be required to do. Well, I do believe I might be able to help you with that after a bit of research. No guarantees however since I can't be certain to crack it with the resources at my disposal."

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"Actually, this is the first time it's bothered me like that," the demon says as he looks for something to wipe his hands on, briefly considers using the drapes, quickly realizes that doing so would be a bad idea, and just wipes his hands on the side of his trunks. "And since I doubt they'll have me doing anything I'd be opposed to doing, I'm okay with it being left on until I fulfill the 'gaze'."

Though it sounded like the demon said "gaze," Exile was sure he meant "geis". But that term was Irish, not Italian, so the demon was probably trying to sound more educated in arcane matters than he truly was. Also, the whole time he talked, his contorted face indicated that the curse was still paining him.

"Though it does present an impediment to my ability to help you with your problem: I am not to leave the city, not until after they call in the 'favor' I owe them. So it may be for the best if you can 'loosen' it some. Let's see, what can I tell you of this... " The demon thought a moment as he tried to work out some way to tell the mage what he could without triggering the curse. "Well, I couldn't tell you her name even if I wanted to, because I never got it, never even saw her. And-"

The demon suddenly collapsed.

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Wilhelm doesn't exactly rush over to the prone demon to make sure his guest is okay, he does stand up and walk around to him. Kneeling down he removes his right glove and touches the fiends forehead with his fingertips. This going to hurt.

A soft red glow covers the elderly mage from head to toe, then it starts to drain from most of it 'pouring' out over the demon through their connecting surface area. As the glow withdraws from the old man he seems to grow ragged and weary, as if he's pouring part of himself into his guest.

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"Damn, but that packs a wallop," the demon groaned as he sat up. "I -- wait... how come you're bleeding? Did... did you heal me?"

"If so... that's a damned fine thing you did. Yes, a damned fine thing indeed." He smiled, obviously amused at his own bad pun.

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