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Supercape

Dead Good (IC)

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Rene was taking his customary stroll down the waterfront, a pan au chocolat in one hand, a rather mediocre cup of take away cup of coffee in the other, when he passed a local art shop. It had pondered in the friendly establishment more than once, and even had one of his own paintings on display there.

What caught his eye, however, was a peculiar little advertisement in the shop window. An ornate obsidian sculpture. Adjusting his glasses, he pottered over to the advertisement to examine it further.

Professor Vikram Singh presents: Lost treasures of the Indian Continent

Come see Professor Singh discuss newly discovered artifact's and antiquities from the Indian Sub-continent. A private showing of pieces soon to go on tour, and a chance to meet the man himself.

Rene didn't know of Professor Singh, but the object intrigued him. It was almost a direct copy of an sculpture he had seen two centuries ago, in the possession of a vile necromancer in France. Laden with subtle arcane symbols of death and... undeath.

He was not an expert in necromancy, although he knew a bit. This certainly needed investigating. Ideally with a real expert in matters of death magic.

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At that point, Eric LaCroix was enjoying his lunch break. Well, perhaps not "enjoying" it, but rather "using it with discretion." He'd been flipping through the paper at work once the morning business rush had quieted down a bit when the article on Professor Singh's exhibition had caught his attention. Not so much for the description on early Hindu reliefs and lost art of the Aryans, but the piece that he'd seen on display in the article. He only knew enough about Hindi to order naan, but he knew that particular coupling of symbols was enough to send off some disturbances.

The artifact seemed to focus on Kali, goddess of death. Eric at least knew enough of Hinduism to know that Kali was the destroyer of all things -- not in the sense of oblivion, but more in the sense of a blessed end, the returning of life to the world once it had run its course. She represented a cycle of birth and death, destruction and renewal. The glyphs on the artifact, on the other hand, seemed to suggest that someone was keen in skipping a step or two in the cosmic renewal process.

So that was what brought Eric out to the Waterfront. He turned his eyes to the store front, trying to get a glimpse of the artifact of interest, while munching on a panini in as incongrous a fashion as he could muster. He kept all his senses open, searching out both mundane disturbances and problems in the field of the dead as well.

I know you a bit better than that, Kali... so who is it who wants to get their Mola Ram on?

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Fortunately, Rene had heard of just the man. Nick Cimitiere, some kind of specialist in necromancy, and protector of the dead - or so the rumour went.

He sat down by his favourite Cafe, brought out his mobile phone (he did love some aspects of modern technology), and proceeded to make a few phone calls to some friends and acquaintances - art dealers, minor mystics, and the like. Numbers lead on to other numbers, and further calls. He ended up talking to quite a few goths - a youth fad he was quite bemused by.

One hour, and half a crossword later, he had scrawled down some noted on the fellow. Sounded like the man for the Job. The private viewing was not until tomorrow afternoon. Tonight, he would be at Lantern Hill Cemetry to see if this Nick turned up.

He bought two tickets for the viewing, ever the optimist.

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Later that day...

After work was out, Eric swung back home for a brief respite before the evening patrol. While he was fixing dinner, he did a quick search through his resources on necromancy. Whoever made the idol, they agreed with the idea of Kali releasing energy back into the cosmos through death. They just had their ideological differences on where it went. The idol was designed to trap energy back into itself, serving as a necromantic power battery.

Good to know that whole "blasphemy" thing goes beyond the Abrahamic faiths, he thought to himself as he put on the makeup. I've just gotta find a way into the auction tomorrow night. My last set of dress clothes look like something a pallbearer would wear to a mosh pit, and I doubt I could afford the buy-in.

Putting such worldly concerns at the back of his mind, Nick Cimitiere stepped out into the night. After pulling the Pale Horse out of storage, he headed off for Lantern Hill Cemetery. He wanted something of the familiar tonight.

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It was almost midnight, and Rene leant back on his chair.

It had been fairly easy to come up with the idea, a necromantic compass. Constructing the thing wasn't quite so easy. He had had to buy a good quality compass, take it apart, and was halfway through putting it back together again, complete with a variety of rituals and incantations.

It should do the job he concluded, although its not a masterpiece. Indeed, compared to the stuff he had made in the past, it was a trinket. But time was pressing.

He would finish the rest of in the morning. He wouldn't get much sleep tonight, but a strong coffee would get him through tomorrow.

Stepping outside, armed with a good quality umbrella to shield him from the drizzle, he hailed a cab.

"Lantern Hill Cemetery siv vou plait" he asked the Cabbie.

"At this time of night? are you ok, my friend?" asked the Greek cabbie, who smelled heavily of car smoke.

"Mai Oui" replied Rene, "and I can pay, my friend, keep the engine running while I pay my respects to the dead" he continued in fluent Greek, flashing a large amount of cash.

"" replied the unnerved Cabbie, who was more than prepared to put up with strange requests for a well paying costumer.

At Lantern Hill...

Rene walked slowly but with purpose around the Cemetery. Of course, there was no guarantee that Nick would be there tonight. Not a logical one, anyway. But mystic purposes and forces where at play, and Rene was attuned to the works of the fate. Somehow, he knew, Nick would be there tonight.

He spied the figure of Nick in the Night. Perhaps normal vision would have faltered in the night sky and light rain, but he was using more than his old eyes. He saw the world as if it was a painting, and in that painting, Nick stood out, full of wisdom and import, the surroundings all pointing to his presence.

Rene walked towards Rene, holding his umbrella up, until he was only ten paces away.

"Nick Cimitiere?" he asked.

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Nick turned to the Frenchman with the umbrella. He was wiry, with white hair and clothes out of a Goddard film. Nick reached his hand forward. "That is what they call me," he said. He kept his death senses open, checking to see if the man was touched by undeath -- or if he'd at least worked in the medium. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Don't think I've ever had the acquaintance, Mister...?"

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"Monsieur de Saens" replied Rene, grasping the man's hand firmly in a handshake. "A pleasure to meet you".

"Forgive me, Monsieur Cimetiere, I wish our meeting could have been under more fortunate circumstances, but alas, it appears the fates have drawn us together under a rather dark cloud. And I do not refer to the miserable weather" he added, pointing at the starless sky black with cloud and a clingy, unpleasant rain.

"It reminds me of London" he sighed.

"No matter. I have heard you are an expert on necromancy. Non non, monsieur, do not be alarmed. I do not mean to infer that you practice the dark arts, so to speak, but merely that you are well versed in these matters. And, something tells me that what I have heard is quite correct. " he tapped his nose.

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Nick gave Rene a good hard look. "That is in fact correct," he said. "I am skilled in arts necrotic, ghostly, godly, and ectoplasmic. I have seen the halls of Guinee, Duat, Tartarus, Mag Mell, Yomi, Mictlan, Irkalla, and Nilfheim. I am skilled in knowledge and art of the powers, passages, and principalities of the dead." He paused, then cracked a smile. "And that's my sales pitch. So, what is it you need?"

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"I see then, that your reputation is deserved" replied Rene, before cracking into a warm smile in return. He liked this man, honest about his abilities and yet self-depreciating about them too. A man after his own heart. "And its a good sales, pitch, monsieur. As you American's would say, I like it so much, I'll but the company".

He reached into his coat pocket, and brought out the flyer for the talk tomorrow. The picture of the statue of Kali was plainly evident.

"Tell me then, Nicholas, what do you make of this? I am no expert on the matter, of course, but it strikes me as a death artifact of some sort. I have seen one many centuries ago, in the hands of a necromancer. And the fact that one is here, now, perturbs me. Perturbs me greatly. "

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Nick took a look at the picture. "Yeah, I've seen this myself," he said. "It's definitely off, at least as the theology goes. The thing's built to act like a soul jar -- retention of one's soul after that, either your own or that of a victim. You could use it to keep your own soul stored safe away, creating a cheap sort of immortality... or, you could use it to compel the soul of someone you slaughtered. Given as Kali's typically about destruction as the means of rebirth, this is a bit like turning a statue of the Virgin Mary into a flamethrower."

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Rene chuckled. He liked Nick already, despite the man's rather modern attire. He had a way with words.

"I like the analogy" he replied "not that I am fond of either the Virgin Mary myth or the Flamethrower reality" he added "but the analogy is quite poetic. And, Monsieur, I like you". He stuffed the picture back into his pocket. "I intend to go to the talk tomorrow, my nose tells me that something no good will come of this, and I would appreciate your help. This is, to be honest, more your field than mine, and I am wise enough to know I am not wise enough. "

"Are you able to help me in this duty, young man?"

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"Certainly," Nick said. "The more the merrier. I don't suppose you have any info on the Dr. Singh who's organizing the gathering? Would be helpful to know if he's just some guy who picked up the statue in a lot, or if he's clued in to the bigger picture."

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"None I'm afraid, and whilst I am well travelled, I haven't spent much time in India or that region. Of course Dr. Singh may not be from that part of the world, I speculate. "

There was that summer in Calcutta, 1903 he recalled. Excellent food, excellent hospitality. British not so bad - for British. Heat a little unpleasant. Too much poverty. Touch of malaria.

He shook his head. So difficult to remember these days. Probably had too much packed in his skull.

"Anyway, I must depart now, I am in the midst of contructing a necroscope at home. Never made one before, bit fiddly, still needs some incantations and all that stuff. Should have it ready by tomorrow. "

He shook Nicks hand. "Glad to have your help, Monsieur" he smiled, and walked off slowly.

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The next night...

Eric looked at the sorry state of his dress clothes. A pair of thin black dress pants that had a rip on the right cuff that might be obscured if you turned it up, and a choice of a black rose Western number or a plain old white shirt that still hadn't gotten over sitting through an outdoor graduation ceremony in Savannah. Mind you, if the auction goes the way I think it will, it's not like I'll be wearing these for long... God, that sounded wrong. And hopefully it won't go that way either. This is Kali we're talking about, not Shiva and Parvati.

He coupled the dress pants and shirt with his engineer boots, for that little bit of insouciance. The jacket was folded away in a little corner of Dis that he knew well, ready to be retrieved at a moment's notice. So, with far too little fashion sense to impress anyone and far too little cash to make any waves, Eric went off to the auction, waiting for the chance to wreak havoc.

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Rene dressed more conservatively for the Auction. He put on his best steel rimmed glasses, comfortable and polished shoes, and a suit with a muted tie. He kept his beret on.

He tucked his protective talisman in under his shirt, and his makeshift compass into his jacket pocket. He had completed it this morning. Predictably, it had already spun its bone arrow straight towards the shop.

The talk was about two thirds full. Various academics and antiquarians for the most part, with a few people off the street and rich buyers peppered around the audience. About thirty of them all in all. Tea and biscuits had been served. It was all rather shabby and upper class at the same time. Rene rather liked it.

He nodded at Nick when he sauntered in, and took his newspaper off the seat next to him, offering the free seat.

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Eric sat down to Rene, keeping his eyes open for any sign of disturbance. "So, what's the plan?" he whispered. "Sneak back stage and try to find it before anything weird goes down, or wait for the lot to come up while we take a measure of the place?" While waiting for Rene's answer, he cracked open a program he'd gotten from the front desk, searching for the statue on the list of lots so he'd have some idea of when to step in.

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Rene pulled out his Necro-compass. The bone pointer swung wildly until it came to rest pointing ahead of them.

"I am not sure, Monsieur Nick. Sneak, maybe, if you are good at L'art de Subterfuge. As for myself, it has been some time since I hunted deer or armed men. And I am not sure I would remember how to. "

He looked around.

"Myself, I am a patient man, and at the moment, I do not know what is afoot. I would like to hear what Monsieur Singh has to say. But, there is no reason for us both to listen, although I have no doubt you know more on these matters than I do. "

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"Well, it's been a while since I've gone sneaking myself," Eric said. "And I can't exactly feel anything charging up around us, so I'm guessing we're not sitting on a necromantic time bomb. Still... might not hurt to keep an eye open..."

With that, Eric got up from his seat, politely pushing his way past the other patrons, and made his way for the halls. Feigning a search for the restroom, he kept his ears open for any strange disturbance, and his eyes open for any suspicious figures.

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As Nick sneaked off, Rene waited patiently, examining the other attendees. People watching was always fun, of course, but he was carefully scrutinising them to see if anybody looked out of the ordinary, or mystic.

The only two people who looked slightly out of place where a pair of young goths, probably in their early twenties, although Rene could not be sure. He glanced at the necro-compass but there was no indication of anything necromantic about those two.

"Ladies and Gentlemen" came a female voice, the middle aged attractive lady who was, apparently, the compere of the evening, "Please take your seats, Dr. Singh will be speaking shortly".

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Eric got up from his seat and headed for the hallways. Making like he was working towards the restroom, he kept his eyes open, searching for anything suspicious. The death sense hadn't picked up any suitable wrongness, but that didn't mean that there might not be more mundane strangeness going on.

If I were a perversion of a goddess kept around as a power battery... where would I be?

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GM

As Nick was prowling the hallways, a middle aged man, of Indian descent, walked straight past him, carefully holding the icon itself! He was wearing a neat, clean and professional suit and tie, alongside a neatly trimmed beard and functional spectacles. He was muttering to himself in some language he didn't understand. As he brushed past Nick, a slight chill ran up the hero's spine. Something quite new.

Doctor Singh took the podium to polite and enthusiastic applause of moderate volume. Rene had joined in.

Looks respectable enough he though, scrutinising the man. He glanced down to his compass, noting the dial had swung straight towards the icon that now rested on the table besides Doctor Singh.

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Interesting...

Eric passed the man, taking a place at the water fountain as he walked the other way. He bent over to take a drink from the fountain, watching as the man rounded the corner and headed for the lecture hall. When he was pretty sure it wouldn't look like he was tailing the guy, Eric followed, eventually settling in and taking his seat next to Rene.

"Looks like the guest of honor's here," Eric whispered. "Be ready for anything."

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"Catch anything?" Rene inquired under his breath, leaning over to the younger man.

Dr. Singh was giving his speech, talking about the Kali death cults of India, and the Thuggee during the British Raj. Much of this was regular history, although Rene kept his ears and eyes open. Nothing directly suspicious, but of course it had the flavour of necromancy written all over it.

He gave Nick a gentle elbow and nodded at the compass he held at knee height "whatever the good doctor is saying, it seems that the icon is full of necromantic energies. What I don't get is what its doing here, and what Dr. Singh has to do with it all..."

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"A chill," Eric said. "Not much, but it was there. Tried analyzing it, but I didn't really get anywhere."

As the lecture continued on, Eric responded to Rene's inquiry. "I don't have much of an idea myself," he said. "I'm just readying myself in case he decides to get the party started."

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Dr. Singh continued on, his voice becoming strangely hypnotic and developing an odd, disconcerting rythmn.

Rene glanced down at the compass, watching the needle wobble and shake, whilst still resolutely pointing at the direction of the compass.

"This feels strange" he said, rubbing his eyes. "Something... about the way he is speaking...I feel all cold inside..." he muttered, his eyes bloodshot and bleary.

He gazed around the crowd, who all looked engrossed, in a rather mindless, apathetic way, as if they were watching some endless repeat on TV and had no interest in anything else. There attention was completely focussed on the talk, but not in an enthusiastic way.

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