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trollthumper

Running Ink [IC]

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"So, too, in his gentleness, knowing that I loved my books, he furnished me from mine own library with volumes that I prized above my dukedom."

Friday, June 3, 2011

6:55 PM

Summer was coming, but spring was fighting towards the last. This was the time when many of Freedom's libraries saw small numbers. The college students, their studies finished for the spring or not yet begun for the summer, had left for their own homes. Many children, who would spend their time in the lazy days reading books, were still in the last days of their curriculum, though some of the private schools had already let out. But if ever there was a library in the city to see many, it would be the Central Branch.

But tonight, it was quiet as the grave. And Nick Cimitiere knew the reason why. The news had reached him during the last few hours of his shift at the Black Petal - there was a fire at the Central Branch, but the FCFD were on the matter. It was only after he got out and the rumors had worked their way out that he found the truth was much stranger. There had been a fire at the library, yes, but it had been confined to one book. And while it burned like any other fire, igniting what it touched in time, the book itself was not consumed. Indeed, while the flame could be extinguished, the book would soon begin to smolder and catch fire once more. The book had finally been removed, and the library had been closed for the day.

As Nick approached the library, he noticed a cop car parked by the library. He swung by. "Evening, officers," he said to the two momentarily startled cops. "Name's Nick Cimitiere. I'm sure I'm in the database. I'm here to investigate the matter of the hot books."

The two cops traded glances, then one got out and led him up the stairs. As he climbed the steps, however, he noticed a woman in a black pantsuit waiting by the door. Her frustration looked like it could cut glass, and when her eyes fell on Nick, she let out a sigh. Whether it was out of fatigue or relief, he couldn't tell.

"Melinda Thompkins," she said. She didn't bother to extend her hand; it seemed like she had other concerns. "I'm guessing you're here about the incident."

"Indeed. Thought the library was closed."

"It is," she said. "I sent everyone else home, but... I needed to be here in case anything else happened. There's been already been enough damage from the fire earlier, and if something else happens -- " She paused, as if recognizing her dedication might sound a bit foolish. "Also, I probably know the library better than anyone else. If whatever's causing this is hidden somewhere, I can probably help you find where it is."

"Fair enough. Let's go see what's playing hell with the stacks."

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Siobhan sighed, rubbing the back of her head tiredly. Then she swung her chair to the left slightly so she wasn't facing her keyboard, and banged her head hard off the desk. She'd only gone public two days ago, and already she'd been inundated with emails, both actually relevant to her interests, criticizing her, or just outright being useless.

And she had to filter through them all. And, to make matters worse, she'd gone to get a snack, and opened the cupboard to find a very furtive Hayley eating the last of the chocolate chip cookies. <Siobhan?> came the raccoon's voice in her head, a paw prodding against her leg. <Are you alright?>

The witch realized she had been punching the desk repeatedly. <I'm fine,> she lied, still not quite at ease with this whole familiar idea. <Completely fine.> In response to this, she felt a large furry mass come bounding up onto the desk and swat her on the head.

<Get away from your magic box,> instructed the raccoon. <Going out. We can buy more cookies!> The little animal bounded up and down excitedly as Siobhan relented, and began standing up. <Cookies! Cookies!>


As their walk took them past the Central Library, Siobhan paused as she saw a police car parked outside. A crime in a library? I've got to take a look at this one...

She strode up to the library, cutting an odd figure as a somewhat tall woman in a black t-shirt, jeans and pentacle, a wand sticking out of her back pocket and a raccoon perched on her shoulder, half of a cookie still clutched in its paws. Which would possibly make this one of the situations where having just been on TV is an advantage. "Evening, officers... what's going on here, may I ask?"

<I wonder if they have donuts...>

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School was out, but Etain needed some more books for the summer. She had already finished the first after dealing with the incident with Mr. DeSaens, but the others were not in stock when she had visited the first time. The heat was finally starting to settle into the city, so she was just a white peasant blouse with sleeves going to the elbow, and a single layered cooper colored skirt that had been altered to go just a little past her knees, with a pair of white tennis shoes underneath. Her hands were still cover with her white cotton gloves which held a book which she read as she walked off the bus and started counting the steps to the library without losing her place on the book. It was around step fifty six when she bumped into something.

Looking down curiously, she found that it was a car bumper and took several steps back to examine the police car on the sidewalk in front of the library, that was very curious. Moving around it, she found some yellow tape as well, which usually meant to keep out. Why was that around a library.

Putting down her book she started to glance around and saw a couple of cops hanging around, but what really caught her eye was one of the woman. She looked like all seasons in one package, that was new, there were so few elementalists in the city. Walking forward she also caught sight of a furry little creature at the womans side, and that got her attention as well, almost to the point that she said,

"Aww, what a cute familiar."

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Gaian Knight felt a little...conflicted, looking down at the library and its police cars. He sat with one hand resting thoughtfully on his sword, the other keeping the small stack of books in his lap steady as he made his way down toward the ground. On the one hand, he'd really only shown up to return some books he'd found in the bag of someone who'd been 'borrowing' from local bookstores and libraries; on the other hand it looked like something was up, and that certainly seemed worth investigating. On the other other hand, he counted at least two heroes already on the scene....

Ah, screw it. It's the start of summer - what am I going to go do, figure out next year's lesson plans? The castle's wiring can wait, anyway. He brought his ride down to the ground, stepping off it as it silently shattered into a collection of shards that seemed perfectly happy to just follow him around.

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She strode up to the library, cutting an odd figure as a somewhat tall woman in a black t-shirt, jeans and pentacle, a wand sticking out of her back pocket and a raccoon perched on her shoulder, half of a cookie still clutched in its paws. Which would possibly make this one of the situations where having just been on TV is an advantage. "Evening, officers... what's going on here, may I ask?"

<I wonder if they have donuts...>

The officers looked at Siobhan, though their eyes quickly found their way to the raccoon. In time, their eyes found their way back to Equinox. "You're the girl from the news," said one officer. "The library's closed off. STAR says 'circumstances of mystical origin.' One of the books caught fire and it wouldn't go out, so the place is under quarantine until we can get a specialist in." The officer looked at her. "Don't suppose you'd be up for a consult?"

Meanwhile, Nick noticed Equinox down at the cop car, and Etain nearby. "Guess you can't keep a good enigma hidden," he said to himself. He waved to the two and called down, "Hey, Equinox! Interested in looking into shenanigans?"

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The officers looked at Siobhan, though their eyes quickly found their way to the raccoon. In time, their eyes found their way back to Equinox. "You're the girl from the news," said one officer. "The library's closed off. STAR says 'circumstances of mystical origin.' One of the books caught fire and it wouldn't go out, so the place is under quarantine until we can get a specialist in." The officer looked at her. "Don't suppose you'd be up for a consult?"

"Yeah, I've not got much to do tonight," nodded Siobhan. Well, not much I'm in the mood to do... "It's not something I can say I've heard of, but I'm sure if I look around I'll at least find something to work on." She managed a small smile at the two officers.

Meanwhile, Nick noticed Equinox down at the cop car, and Etain nearby. "Guess you can't keep a good enigma hidden," he said to himself. He waved to the two and called down, "Hey, Equinox! Interested in looking into shenanigans?"

"Hey, Nick!" waved Siobhan, her grin broadening. She walked past the officers, and headed up to him, when Hayley suddenly went agitated, throwing down her cookie and hissing.

<Bad smell! Bad smell!> came the plaintive voice in her head. <And there's a girl behind us, smells funny too.> Siobhan brought a hand up to stroke the little animal's head.

<Ssssh, Nick's a friend,> she reassured. <You'll like him.> She strode on up and held out an arm so the little raccoon could jump onto it. "Nick, you won't have met Hayley yet. It's a long story, but apparently I've acquired a familiar animal."

The raccoon's eyes narrowed viciously. <Magic! Magic!> <I KNOW!. Stop going nuts when you smell it.>

"She knows you can do magic, but I've not trained her to differentiate between different kinds yet, so she just goes a little loopy whenever I come across anything remotely magical. Although..." She lowered her voice. "Now she brings it up, I can sense someone behind us on the street."

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"Are you refering to me, or Mr. Gaian Knight, because I think I spotted him in passing."

There was Etain, or Changeling actually who even though she had put on her mask had skipped the formality talking to the cops, and just concealed herself to approach the two of them. It was a good thing that the two of them were still there because it might of made the cops look twice if one of them appeared to be talking to nothing.

"Not that he was really hiding himself, I think he is waiting for an invitation, which I think is a bit strange because I always thought the library was a public place."

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"Well," Gaian Knight noted, having politely excused his way past the cops to catch up to the group on the steps, "I was mostly waiting to see if I could figure out what was going on. The place may be public, but it doesn't look open at the moment. And please," he added, drolly, "Mister Gaian Knight was my father. Just Gaian Knight will do."

Oh, let's see - Changeling, and I don't know the other two, but...one of them has a raccoon? Er. Alright, then. "I dropped by to make some returns -" - he held up the books he was carrying, shaking his head - "- but I'm going to go out on a limb and say the library's been having more problems than a little theft."

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Hayley began scratching at the door as Melinda pulled a key ring out of her jacket. "Yes, it's a little bit more than that," she said to Gaian Knight. "One of the books in the library burst into flames earlier. And it just kept catching on fire, even when they took a firehose to it." She unlocked the door. "I know it's not a bank robbery or a giant monster rampaging through Downtown, but... if you'd be interested in taking a look..."

"Certainly," Nick said as he crossed the threshold. "I mean, you have no idea how many of those giant monsters start off as a chemical spill or someone striking the wrong gas main. If the library is full of magical weirdness, it'd be good to find out where it is."

The library loomed in the darkness, long shadows cast over the main island and check-out desks. Banners spoke of events to come, screenings and readings and art exhibitions. Even by the already silent standards of a library, it was quiet as the grave.

"Hmm," Nick said as he dug into his jacket. "Not feeling anything ghostly or heavily necromantic." He pulled out a cookie and offered it to Hayley. "Mind you, that leaves a whole lot of options..."

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The raccoon happily took the cookie, making jolly little squeaking noises as she took a huge bite out of it, rubbing close up to Nick's leg. "Huh," snorted Siobhan. "Seems she's more than a little fickle."

She knelt down to scratch Hayley behind the ear. "I'm not going to ask why you carry cookies in your pockets, however."

<For eating!> came the raccoon's voice in her head, somehow sounding like her mouth was full despite the communication being purely mental.

"But if it's not poltergeist activity, that leaves aside the obvious answers and makes finding out what this is a fair bit trickier. They're miles ahead the most obvious candidates for something like this." The witch frowned. "Maybe some sort of faerie? A weak demon?"

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Gaian Knight had turned his head away, looking over at the stacks with an unreadable expression behind his goggles and face-covering cloth. "You do," he asked, conversationally, "actually have someone watching the thing, right?" He let the question hang in the air for a moment so that the pounding noise could - hopefully - be heard in the ensuing silence. "I mean, I'm assuming you did something with it to keep it from burning the place down again, but is anyone making sure it doesn't, I don't know, summon the devil or punch through the building or something?"

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She grinned at the amusing little animal as it ate it's treat before turning back to the woman,

"As amusing as alighting a book may be for a short time, fae tend to be far more subtle in their practices."

Her attentioned turned to Gaian Knight who brought up an interesting point,

"I certianly hope if they are, that they are not in the direction those books are flying. I do believe we should make great haste to at the very least prevent the books from taking down a wall,"

Picking up her skirt Changeling took the lead towards the sound moving quickly around the eastern area of the library.

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She knelt down to scratch Hayley behind the ear. "I'm not going to ask why you carry cookies in your pockets, however."

"In this business, sometimes you have to offer food to ancestor spirits," Nick said, "or just your standard ghost with the sweet tooth. Sometimes I carry around a kit bag with various offerings. The cookies must have found their way into my jacket when I was juggling to get at the hell money last night." He looked down at Hayley. "Apparently they come in handy for familiars, too. Where'd you get the raccoon, by the way?"

"You do," he asked, conversationally, "actually have someone watching the thing, right?"

"Ask the good men of the FCPD," said Melinda. "They took the book away under lock and key. For all I know, they dumped it in a water tank and have priests standing guard over it. I just want to make sure whatever it is doesn't do more -- "

The group rounded a corner into the stacks. The iron shelves loomed tall in the half-light, casting thin, long shadows over the main floor. The steady, pounding noise grew louder, and as the group approached, the sound of rattling steel emerged as well. Changeling had been right; books were flying off the shelf regularly, hitting the wall with incredible force. One book was lying on its side, vibrating on its side across the shelf. In its passage, other books began slowly vibrating before launching across the room.

"...damage."

"How many screwed-up magical books do you have in this place?"

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"In this business, sometimes you have to offer food to ancestor spirits," Nick said, "or just your standard ghost with the sweet tooth. Sometimes I carry around a kit bag with various offerings. The cookies must have found their way into my jacket when I was juggling to get at the hell money last night." He looked down at Hayley. "Apparently they come in handy for familiars, too. Where'd you get the raccoon, by the way?"

"Long story short?" shrugged Siobhan. "Some poor kid started developing mental magic powers, and unconsciously used them on this raccoon. I fixed her up, but... somehow I ended up with a familiar, and not a normal raccoon, by the end of it all." The witch nudged her familiar with her foot. "Although I think the appetite is normal."

The group rounded a corner into the stacks. The iron shelves loomed tall in the half-light, casting thin, long shadows over the main floor. The steady, pounding noise grew louder, and as the group approached, the sound of rattling steel emerged as well. Changeling had been right; books were flying off the shelf regularly, hitting the wall with incredible force. One book was lying on its side, vibrating on its side across the shelf. In its passage, other books began slowly vibrating before launching across the room.

"Oh, great," sighed Siobhan. "Everyone stand back, I'm going to try and handle the book." With a few elegant hand movements, her outfit burst forth into a black coat over white shirt and pants, hair turning jet black as her eyes began glowing and the pressure of a wall of solid magical force erupted around her, invisible to the eye.

"Here goes nothing," said Equinox under her breath, going to grab the book lying on its side by sliding her hand through the slot in the stacks, rather than further risk her safety by standing in front of the barrage of books.

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The vibrating book was swiftly scooped up by Equinox, and managed to remain locked in her arms. It struggled like a kicking foal, pulsing against her arms and her chest with a kick like a jackhammer. The experienced magus managed to wrestle it to the ground, however, and quickly got to work binding it in place.

As the vibrations slowed down on the book, Changeling saw that the magic that had poured off it at random had a more steady trail now. She could see the tendrils that had infused the books with the principles of motion were slowly withdrawing into the larger text. But one tendril, still large and steady, trailed off into the shadows of the library.

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This didn't go unnoticed, while the book was a mystery to be solved, Equinox seemed to have the matter tightly wound in her arms. She moved quickly around her and started after the tendril while not saying anything left a little note of glowing text in the air that said,

I see something.

Which may of been considered strange, but not for the fact that the book may have some sort of conciousness to hear her if she spoke.

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Gaian Knight glanced from Changeling to the message to Equinox to the book and back again, and sighed. He started to say something before getting distracted by the pounding again; the books got a quick frown and the sort of short, no-nonsense response you'd give a small child. "Stop that."

Children, of course, weren't generally trying to beat a hole through a wall or damaging library property, so the order was accompanied by a gesture. A few small rocks left the pockets of his coat to join a small army of rocks and dirt that were politely shifting around the feet of the people assembled, coming in through any available window or door or vent to gather together in a set of heavy, seamless bookcase....cases. The trouble-bearing iron shelves - and the individual books that had escaped from them, bar Equinox's captive - were held in place by a cover of thick stone that would - hopefully - hold them. At least for now.

"I'll, ah, remove that later," he told Melinda, already backing away to follow after Changeling. "I promise. It won't get your books dirty or anything, I just didn't want them damaging something." Or somebody.

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Equinox clenched her teeth as the book struggled and fought, but she wrestled it to the ground, thin arms straining as she hurled it to the ground and produced her wand, pointing it like a gun at the downed book.

Through still-gritted teeth, she hissed out "Drosisteíte!" Ice burst from the tip of the wand, flowing around in a chalice shape to pin the book to the floor, held down in a net of thick, solid ice, covered in sharp spines of frost.

She looked around sheepishly. "That probably works a bit better if you speak Greek."

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"I'll take your word for it," said Nick as he examined the icebound book. "Never really did get the hang of magical linguistics. That correspondence course on Enochian was a complete bust."

Melinda, meanwhile, traced her eyes from the book's icy prison to the walls of earth that has sprouted up around the bookshelves. "My God," she said, both awestruck and a little terrified. "It's just... well, I've never seen this up close. I mean, everyone's seen it once or twice, in this city, but I've never really seen anyone use it. I mean, I was down in the archives when the book caught fire. Isn't this... risky? Dangerous? Don't you ever feel afraid using it?"

"Oh, every so often," said Nick. "But most of the time, we're able to handle it. Lazy practitioners often meet quick and messy ends." He turned to Changeling. "Now what exactly did you see?

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"I'll take your word for it," said Nick as he examined the icebound book. "Never really did get the hang of magical linguistics. That correspondence course on Enochian was a complete bust."

"Magical linguistics?" smiled Equinox. "That wasn't even ancient Greek. I learned it in college and when on vacation." She held up her hands in surrender. "I'll admit I only use it because it sounds cool."

Melinda, meanwhile, traced her eyes from the book's icy prison to the walls of earth that has sprouted up around the bookshelves. "My God," she said, both awestruck and a little terrified. "It's just... well, I've never seen this up close. I mean, everyone's seen it once or twice, in this city, but I've never really seen anyone use it. I mean, I was down in the archives when the book caught fire. Isn't this... risky? Dangerous? Don't you ever feel afraid using it?"

"Oh, every so often," said Nick. "But most of the time, we're able to handle it. Lazy practitioners often meet quick and messy ends." He turned to Changeling. "Now what exactly did you see?

Siobhan shook her head. "There's no such thing as bad magic, ma'am. The problem is that there's bad or misguided people, and then there's various magical entities who aren't exactly friendly... And the inevitable artifacts and tomes of black magic that those people and entities have left lying around. Maybe I'm disproving my own point here but..." The witch shrugged her shoulders. "If you know what you're doing and act responsibly the most harm you can do to yourself is..." In an attempt to reassure the librarian and bring some levity to the situation, she put on a sheepish look. "Lose an eyebrow trying to light a cigarette with a fire spell."

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Changeling may not of been in sight, but she was definitetly in earshot, weaving through the books and still in range to send a message.

I am following stray magic from the book, it is likely to have been infecting the other books. It does not seem sentient so I am likely to have no effect, but I would rather not leave it uncheck.

The words floated in at Nicks response for fading as Changeling started to push towards the end of her range following the single tendril of magic.

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Gaian Knight trailed after Changeling, following her as much by the feel of her footsteps on the floor as by sight to keep from losing his way in the rows of stacks. On the one hand, he didn't want her to feel like he had no faith in her ability to protect herself; on the other, he really, really didn't think it was a good idea for anyone to be wandering off on their own in a library full of strange happenings, much less a young woman. Leaving her just wouldn't be...gentlemanly.

Besides, it gave him a chance to admire the building. He spread his senses out as he walked, the terramantic equivalent of running his fingers over the surface of the building as he passed. He enjoyed big stone structures, and each and every one was just a little bit differently. The library's granite was...proud, somehow, and warm. Wise, maybe. It seems fitting for a library this size, really. Ah, the things you must have seen, the knowledge that's passed through your halls...

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With the book confined in ice, the group moved on as Changeling followed the trail. The tendril of magical energy began to drag downward as Changeling pursued it, as if it was sinking into the floor itself, leading down to a lower floor. As she followed the thread, however, she caught glimpses at the field of her vision of other tendrils, reaching out in other directions. And as the group approached the elevators, their senses were flooded with something distinctly different from magic.

"God, that stench," said Melinda. "When I came by here, this place smelled normal. What is that, rotten eggs?"

"No," said Nick as he crept down the hallway. "More like sulfur. Looks like we've got company."

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Changeling kept the lead watching the tendrils go until they started to sink. The smell came about almost instantly afterwards, looking up at the trail her eyes widened as she recognized the source of something very familiar to what she had seen several months prior.

"Custos!"

She let the word echo, and only few moments later there was a bit of panic as the large front doors of the librarys swung open and the large stone gargoyle sweep over the tops of the shelves. It had a bit of a hard time finding a good opening to land, and accidently knocked over a smaller case as he did so, but Changeling didn't care terribly before she looked over at Melinda,

"It is no longer safe here, he will escort you out, but you must leave and you must have the officers leave as well. There are demons here."

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Hayley went nuts, jumping up and down and pulling books off of shelves. <Bad smell! Bad smell! One big smell, lots of little ones coming out of it!> She bounded over and started shaking Equinox's leg.

<OK, OK,> grimaced the witch, straightening up and facing east. "She says there's a large source of magic somewhere down there, with smaller sources coming out of it. So, likely several demons." The witch lifted her wand with two hands, pointing it like a pistol towards the children's section. "Let's go." <Stay here, you don't want to get into this fight, Hayls.>

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