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How Do You Fight a Warded Man? (IC, Closed)

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The day was warm, the sky was clear, the sun shone down. In a space roughly between three trees, each one shading the table in the middle with a mass of leaves, Marceau Suvou sat slightly sideways, whistling a Balkan folk song between his teeth while his eyes watched carefully for the magical expert he had contacted and requested help from. According to Detective Wlodjyka, Equinox would be singularly helpful, bringing with her a great deal of knowledge on the various methods and disciplines of practiced magic. On the other hand, he thought to himself, She might not get that message I left on her answering machine at all. Seeing as she's publicly known, she probably gets dozens of calls a day, maybe she doesn't even bother checking her voice messages anymore?

He shrugged, feeling again the odd sensation of feeling just the fabric of his clothes, without the armor that usually went with him everywhere he went. He frowned as he remembered that half of the razor-cards needed a pretty thorough cleaning after what had happened in the sewers a short while ago Eh, I'll just do it when I get back, odds are when I do I'll have a lot to think about . He drummed his fingers on the wooden table while carefully scanning the walkways, worried he'd not see her unless he kept a hawk-like watch on the paths.

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In a brief flare of white light, a woman appeared several feet away from where Marceau sat. Her eyes glowed brilliant white, the glow partially obscuring her features. The heroine wore her characteristic white shirt and trousers, but seemed to have abandoned her long coat in the heat in favour of a smaller black jacket, and a wide-brimmed hat.

She turned around several times, eyes narrowed as if in concentration, before fixing her gaze on Marceau, and walking over with a confidently casual stroll. "Are you the guy who called?" she asked politely.

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Marceau's eyes lit up with relief, and he jumped up quickly from the bench, hand outstretched for a handshake. "Quite so, Equinox! I said my name and description on the message, but introductions are still in order. My name is Marceau Suvou, I work as the superhero called the 'King of Suits', mostly in the Fens. Would you like to sit down? I thought the park would be inconspicuous enough, but if it's not I'll happily follow you to a better place." with his free hand Marceau began rolling his beard through the three metal rings he slipped off it. "I apologize for not sending a message through a less cluttered medium, but I don't have a computer, and I guessed you get bags of letters nowadays" he added, "So that was pretty much the only way I could think of asking for your help."

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"Not especially, most of my communication is through email nowadays," explained Equinox, accepting the man's hand. "But the park works fine for me if it works for you. My identity is public knowledge anyway."

She took a seat opposite Marceau. "Now, what seems to be your problem? I'm assuming it's magical because you called me, and because I can sense that you're some form of practitioner." Indeed, this was how she had found him so quickly, rather than his description. She folded her hands in a steeple, elbows resting on the wooden table.

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Shaking her hand enthusiastically, Marceau shrugged, looking abashed. "In lots of places I've been, people who have secret business tended to take them to open areas, where it would appear they had nothing to hide. Thought that would work out here, too.". Seating himself down after Equinox, he looked puzzled at her mention of him being a 'practitioner' "I'm not sure I follow, miss, my abilities are-oh! I understand, astrological, still just magic, heh" he smiled to himself for a moment before looking earnestly at the witch. "Quite so, there's been a rash of petty thefts theses last few months. The reason I was referred to you was because the thieves turned out to be working for a wizard of some sort from another dimension, who calls himself 'The Contrarian', after his incredible defensive powers and his natural gift for deflecting the attacks of others. His hideout is situated in a sort of fold that keeps him hidden by seeming to be part of this universe, according to Wolfgang, the only thief who knows how to get there unaided. Seems this wizard sought out people with low magical talent and offered them power if they would help him by gathering personal effects from people so he could perform a divination spell for some reason" he leaned against the table, frowning as he carefully recalled all he had discovered about the case. "At any rate, I broke up the gang and now have been tasked with finding more evidence that can lead to a conviction for this Contrarian character. As you are known to have a great deal of expertise in the world that magicians inhabit, I was advised to contact you and get your advice on how to deal with this situation."

He turned to her and added politely "What do you think best in this case, Mz.? Should I drop it and inform someone else with more power in them than I? Or is there some method I can use to fight this wizard, if it comes to it?"

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"Well, we all live in the same world as each other," said Siobhan, shaking her head. "But I get your point. But, really, the answer depends on a number of factors. Do you know how to get into his lair, and if so, can you do it undetected? Apart from powerful defensive spells, is he competent in any form of offense? And, most importantly..." She paused and looked into Marceau's eyes.

"What exactly can you do? I can smell stars, and planets, and space, and that's not a form of magic I'm at all familiar with."

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"Well, to your first two questions, the answer are thankfully 'yes'/ To the third, Wolfgang said that the wizard had effectively sold his power to attack in exchange for gargantuan protective abilities against magical and physical threats, so no". Marceau winced slightly when Equinox asked what he could do "That's just it, actually: hardly anything. Because of my family's zodiacal lineage I can channel rays of power that seem to come from the very substance that makes up the universe, and with it I can also lift things many times my weight and size, but neither is really all that much use against this wizard from what I've been told, and they seem to be constrained somehow" he turned slightly on the bench to face her better "So, really, I'm hoping that there's some way of peacefully resolving this, as I'll not be able to fight him directly unless there's some trick to doing it I can do"

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"Well, peaceful resolution is always important," informed Equinox. "I can rain fire from the skies, and best nearly any mortal foe on the face of the planet... but just because I can shoot and never stop to ask questions, doesn't mean I should."

She paused to think. "For instance, you say he wanted components for a divination spell. Bargain with him to help him do it legally, if it comes to that, and it's for a just purpose. There's also the second option... if he can defend himself, but can't throw down effectively, tear down his hide out around him. He'll survive, but he'll struggle to stop you doing it."

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Marceau nodded eagerly "Alright, so attempt to negotiate first, and if that fails, try to destroy his hideout which he probably can't protect" he looked at Equinox with a puzzled expression "But what could I replace his chosen components with? Something like a strand of their hair, something with sentimental value like a beloved toy? The thieves said they were ordered to bring him things very close to the victims, and of value to them too"

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"Really?" said Siobhan, shrugging her shoulders. "I can't be entirely sure what he's specifically looking for to offer suggestions. But in any case, that's not the point. Offer to help him if it doesn't involve theft, you shouldn't have to offer him an entirely formulated alternative to theft. It he's just going to keep breaking the law, don't go along with it and resort to plan B." She waved her hands vaguely.

She thought for a moment, then pulled out a cigarette. "Pyr," she said offhand, lighting it with one finger and inhaling. "There's also the offhand chance that he's not entirely invulnerable. There's the possibility of him having a weakness."

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Marceau's eyes lit up at the idea of the wizard having a weakness. "If he does," he asked carefully "would it show? I mean, would I just have to look for something that if he wasn't vulnerable to he would have near him, like not having a any of a certain kind of metal cutlery or something?" he brushed a hand through his closely-shorn hair and winced, blinking furiously as a metal ring on a kite bounced a ray of light off the grill nearby into his eyes. Leaning his head down to get it out of the intermittent ray, he added "Also, how could I try to destroy the hideout? It seemed pretty non-conventionally built, a bunch of rings connected by portal doors or something, have to scout it a bit to make sure about that of course"

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"Fire is a pretty powerful tool for destroying," opined Siobhan. "Not just for it's destructive properties. Some traditions hold it can be used to cleanse and purify things of magic. Hell, to reconsecrate my tools every so often, I just set them on fire in a big bowl."

She leaned back casually, puffing in some smoke. "But your theory's sound on the weakness front. Werewolves rarely have silver in their homes. A dryad isn't going to hang around near the barbecues and campfires in the woods. Demons don't go to church. Vampires... actually, they tend to have easily torn curtains and holy symbols lying around, but I think that's just a vampire thing." She blew a load of smoke off to the side so she could lean in close without blowing smoke in Marceau's face.

"I say this a lot on TV, but it's worth saying again: mages are just people. Now, I say this so people aren't scared of us, not to point out the other facet to that." She lowered her voice to avoid people hearing it. "We're human. When I conjure my full power, I can turn tanks to molten slag, repel their shells without flinching, and then hurl the burned out shell into a building. But if I do that, relax, and then drop my magic, the army sniper would just blow my head off. We're smart, powerful humans... but when you get down to it, we're just bones and flesh like everyone else. We bleed. I'm not going to advocate this as your approach ever, but we do die. Heck, part of why I've got so much magic running through my apartment is that when I'm asleep, I'm just a normal girl from New Jersey."

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"Fire" pondered Marceau, looking up suddenly "I must have something to work with, as fire must have fuel. What I saw of the place was covered with tapestries that I think represented the history of this world. I'll see if those burn" seeing as the light reflection was by now so erratic he couldn't keep it out of his eyes for longer than a second without bobbing his head around like an apple in the water, he simply went around to the other end of the table, leaning against a tree facing Equinox. "However, you say that it might be possible to catch this wizard off-guard and without his magic 'up', so to speak? Alright then, how should I go about that? Try to win his confidence somehow? Perhaps try to explain to him that he's doing a wicked thing by encouraging theft, and try to persuade him to visit some magicians more in line with the law?"

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"Well, walking right up to someone and talking them isn't getting them off-guard," explained Siobhan. "For example, I've possibly had a strong enough ward to reflect bullets up through this entire conversation. I'm awake, and alert of you, so a fight could just be a couple of words away. You wouldn't have time to throw any power at me without me at least having a chance to react. In short, I'm not off guard."

She leaned back to look up at the now-standing man. "As for other mystics... yeah, I'd be willing to talk to him. But how can you be sure he'd want to speak to me?"

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With a slight look of embarrassment, Marceau nodded at Equinox's pointing out of the slight flaw in his thinking. "Come to think of it, I suppose a better way of putting what I had in mind would be 'put him at his ease'. Like approaching him openly, unarmed? I mean" he leaned against the warm tree-trunk, taking off one of his gloves again to stroke one of the branches "What ought I to do that will send a clear message to this guy that I'm not there for a fight? Or is that a bad thing to do when trying to get an audience with someone who thinks it's reasonable to hide in another dimension? I'm assuming he isn't crazy, but there's no guarantee of that. If he is, somebody much more suited to dealing with wizards would have to go get him" he looked deeply relieved when Equinox said she was willing to speak with the Contrarian "I really think it would do him good to meet someone who has done well as an open practitioner. For all I know, he hides because in his homeworld he worked openly and it ended badly for him. I think the tapestries might shed some light on that before I test their flammability, but anyway, there's another reason: he's bound to be horribly lonely in there, and he would most likely jump at the chance to meet someone who he could have something to talk about instantly. You're a witch, he's a wizard, there's instant rapport there" he carefully cleaned a patch of dust off his right boot on some long grass at the base of the tree "Admittedly, that is speculation, but I think it has a very good chance of being true".

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"Well, depends on how he thinks about magic," mused Equinox. "I mean, witches and wizards don't actually think in the same way. For example, bar fairy tale witches, we like company. We're all about the covens. Whereas wizards seem to have this infuriating anti-social streak. " She smiled sadly, shaking her head. "But I think I can empathize. If I got the full torches and pitchforks treatment, I'd probably go hide too."

She stood up. "Besides, what harm can it do to just speak to the man? If he's lacking in offensive capabilities, I doubt he can harm us that easily."

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"He appears to view it as purely a tool" said Marceau "He seems to attach no mystical or societal importance to its possession. He taught the thieves I met how to use magic to make weapons, and one of them, a man named Wolfgang, had enough power to use this" he produced a blue, metallic half-orb and offered it to her "to travel to the wizard's domain independently. It wasn't a case of favoritism either, I gathered that he was considered a hair away from being a renegade by the rest of the gang" he looked ruefully at it and added "However it works and whatever it is, it's beyond me. Takes a great deal more delicacy to use than I'm capable of"

He looked quite hopeful when Equinox seemed completely at ease with the idea of marching into the Contrarian's domain and speaking to him directly. "If you're willing, I can lead you to where the gateway seems to be. You could send me through, I'll try to convince the wizard to come and meet you staying in the mansion as a hostage, and if all goes well there'll be one more wizard on the side of the angels" he stopped and coughed hurriedly, adding "If you'll pardon the expression, Mz. Equinox"

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