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 Conflict of Interest, (Invite)
Kristján
Posted: Sep 1 2011, 02:11 AM


the devil you know


Group: Superhero/Moderator
Posts: 416
Member No.: 47
Joined: 30-May 11



One and a half million dollars, he reminded himself. One and a half. Million. Dollars. That is a million dollars, and then another half a million dollars.

It was just a goddamned book. Except that it wasn't. There was a difference between books of magic and books about magic; everyone knew that. No book that was merely about magic could possibly be worth a million and a half dollars to The Ancient. No, this was something good, something real.

Kristján sat on the floor in the middle of his ritual circle. He'd walked upstairs, retrieved a bottle of cognac, and come back down to sit right back where he'd stood to cast. He was going to crease his trousers terribly, but right now he didn't much care.

The money's as good as mine, he thought.

But he still hadn't made the call.

He's going to kill her, he thought next.

That much was obvious, wasn't it? It's what Tettius did. How many artifacts had he stolen from the magicians, sorcerers, hedge witches, and warlocks he'd killed? What was one more? It was clear that Tettius didn't much care when anybody died; he'd outlived so many already that quite probably he wrote them off as deceased the moment he met them. Maybe that was easier. Maybe Tettius was right.

The demon finished his glass and remembered her telling him that she thought his eyes were pretty. Not unnerving or intimidating or appalling. Pretty.

But she knew too much, didn't she? She had spent time and effort to learn about him and whatever she'd found it couldn't have been anything good. Kristján hadn't actually asked what she'd found. He'd been too angry. Did she know about Rhea? How far back had she gone? To Edvin and Johanna?

"I wasn't looking for what I found," you said. I guess that makes two of us.

She was the only person alive who knew what she knew, at least as far as Kristján was aware. Tettius absolutely would kill her if he could. Pragmatically-speaking, it was actually pretty convenient.

He thought of her apology.

Kristján drained the glass of cognac and winced. He didn't even really like cognac. It just seemed like the sort of thing a man of his means ought to own. With a million and a half dollars he'd be beyond anybody's opinions of his liquor selection. All it would take was Gahan's Tome, an hour of his time, and maybe Ema's life. Only that.

With a growl, Kristján flung the glass against the wall. A small explosion of glass rained down sparkling onto the edge of his circle on the hardwood floor. If he could just be Vassago and fulfill his function, it wouldn't be like this. His predecessor had left too much behind of Kristján and Kristján wasn't sure he could do this. It was one thing to hand over information about the location of an artifact or objet d'art and know that it might get stolen and there might be a fight and in a fight someone could always get hurt. It was quite another to possess the information himself and pass it on knowing what it was and knowing what was at stake. That was different.

That would make it his fault. It would be his fault because he had known.

It was not the kind of distinction he expected anybody else to understand. Tettius killed freely enough, and of course Ema would be seeing this from a very different perspective. Ema would see a betrayal, which perhaps was what it was. Was it possible to betray someone who had no reason to trust him in the first place?

It had been fifteen minutes and Tettius would be expecting a report on either the success or failure of the ritual. That was what they'd agreed to; those were the conditions that were fair. Tettius needed to have enough notice to go immediately and retrieve the item if he wished, though that part wasn't Kristján's business. What happened after this transaction wasn’t for him to worry about. He was Vassago. He found things lost and hidden. He fulfilled his function and he moved on. What happened to the things he found or the people who possessed them was not his business so long as he'd ensured one less piece of the universe was out of its place.

He'd agreed to that role. He'd agreed to this contract, and hundreds more like it, and would agree to hundreds more in the future. He'd agreed to it all. Did his word mean anything? If he made an exception now, where did they stop? He had his rules and his professional ethics and damn it all, why should he be expected to bend them for someone who had caused him nothing but trouble? He was a demon, for shit's sake. He was supposed to be self-serving and single-mindedly dedicated to acquisition of personal power. That was his function as much as it was his function to find what was lost and make it found.

It was obviously out of the question to call Tettius and lie to him. Kristján had promised him--he had promised--that he would look for these objects and give Tettius whatever information he had that would help the power-mad old bastard get to what he wanted. He needed to do what he'd agreed to do, and there was no ethically acceptable way to tell Tettius where the book was and then cheat him by warning Ema to move it out of his reach. Kristján did not cheat his clients; he did not.

He just also wasn't quite accustomed to knowing he'd killed someone.

Vassago had told him that he was supposed to be different. Everything he'd been, but more. He was also supposed to be human.

Problem was, the current Prince Vassago had no idea what that was supposed to mean and the only one he could ask was long gone. He was ethically bound to give Tettius the information minus what he knew about Ema thanks to their dinner conversation. Blessedly, that had been an exchange and thus he was free to interpret that loosely as a contract, which gave her client privilege. It was some protection, at least.

The Ancient was going to kill her.

But Prince Vassago, in his official capacity, had made a promise. His hands were tied.

From: Me
To: Tettius

Subject: the book Gahan lent me

I found it if you still want to read it. If you want to pick it up from my house while I'm out, I've attached the location.

-V


Kristján laid his phone down and pulled his palms through his hair. It was a good thing he already knew he was going to Hell.


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The Ancient
Posted: Sep 1 2011, 11:05 AM


Veni, Vidi, Ruinavi, Subiugavi


Group: Villain Admin
Posts: 145
Member No.: 20
Joined: 8-April 11



Gahan's Tome had been created sometime in the 5th century but was never written. Gahan lived in what is now Algeria when he put some of his essence into a specially-prepared tome through a magical ritual that lasted a month. He intended to make sixteen more, dying in the process, and those seventeen tomes would be his legacy - books of spells that would travel magically from library to library, teaching those with natural magical talent how to harness them, just as Gahan taught the twenty-two apprentices he was master of over his three-hundred-year life. No one was quite sure what happened to Gahan after the first book left his possession, but his staff began to change hands over the centuries in the way that only the artifacts of mages who were killed for their treasures do.

The contents and style of the book tailored themselves to the reader. When Manius Tettius Opilio had last seen it, it opened with its spine on the short edge and the cover was designed like the jaws of a dragon. It was absurd and garish, but it had changed a mason's son into a summoner of no minor power. Tettius slew the summoner - of course - but found himself ambushed by some of the Fair Folk, who took advantage of Tettius's post-battle weakness to take the book for themselves. It had fallen out of view for five hundred years, but here it was - and in Metro City, no less.

From: Me
To: Kristjan

Subject: Re: the book Gahan lent me

v,

excellent. surprised to see it so close.

owe you for this - come visit later

-tet


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SPLEEN'S CHARACTERS: BOREAS - VECTOR - THE ANCIENT - BARI - REGGIE B
Kristján
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 12:14 AM


the devil you know


Group: Superhero/Moderator
Posts: 416
Member No.: 47
Joined: 30-May 11



It didn't take long for the response to come. The Ancient owed him. He laughed. The demon sat cross-legged on his floor with his head in one hand, arm resting on his knee, and he just laughed. Tettius was going to get what he wanted. Of course he was grateful. Wasn't everybody just so appreciative of Prince Vassago's vast reaching power. Wasn't he just a wonder.

Kristján laughed, maybe longer than he should have. He laughed far beyond the point where this was funny. What was he going to do?

Why couldn't Tettius have just been here and taken the information directly? Why did he have to trust his demon ally with the information? He hadn't wanted it. If Tettius had just been here, if he'd just--

If I didn't know...

Thinking like that wasn't going to do any good. Frankly, nothing he did here was going to be any good. This was futile and Kristján knew it. He wasn't going to end up like his predecessor had, static and weary of his own timeless presence. He was going to end up like Tettius, because people weren't supposed to have these problems. Mortal men couldn't deal with it. They either went crazy or they stopped caring altogether. Tettius didn't care. Kristján only had these doubts, only suffered this painful ambivalence, because he was still so young.

There'd come a time when he didn't care at all, and he'd look back at this and wonder how he could have been so fragile.

Vassago hadn't created something greater than himself; he'd created something far worse. Men were not supposed to live as long as Tettius had, as Kristján would. Vassago hadn't changed and that part of him which was Vassago still was and always would be the same entity but Kristján was another matter. He would change.

"Think, you stupid son of a bitch," he scolded himself. "Stop and think. Solve it."

What were the rules. He coached himself to remember his own rules. He couldn't have the item moved to keep it out of his client's reach. That was unacceptable. But The Ancient wasn't looking for Ema.

"He's not looking for her," he said. "He's not... shit."

Kristján picked up his phone. He'd been so stupid. The solution had been right in front of his face. He didn't have to break his agreement. He was a demon. Contracts weren't the boss of him. Contracts were his bitch.

From: Me
To: Tettius

Subject: Re: the book Gahan lent me

Pleasure doing business.

-V


Then he dialed a number he didn't think he'd need again. He only had it because of Ema's ridiculous botched apology after intruding so far into his life. That was all right now. It gave him the information he needed. This situation was still under his control. He made it his business to know what people were looking for, and Kristján thought he might know what Emerald Bleier would want.

He took a deep breath, and held it when he heard the first ring.

Pick up. Pick up your phone, you idiot girl.


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Tiny Librarian
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 07:46 AM


A Little Light Reading


Group: Superheroes
Posts: 372
Member No.: 42
Joined: 18-May 11



Ema was curled up in her favorite chair with a new book. It was fascinating. She was reading all about worms, their biology, and how they functioned.

She shifted and sighed, pressing herself more comfortably into her armchair... And then the phone rang.

"Ugh." She didn't want people, she wanted to finish reading about worms! But the phone was still ringing, so she jumped out of the chair, dropping her book on its seat, and dashed off to find her phone.

There was no name on the screen, but. She knew whose number that was. She considered not picking up, but that wasn't really an option, so she pushed the call button and held up her phone.

"...Hello?"


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Kristján
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 09:54 AM


the devil you know


Group: Superhero/Moderator
Posts: 416
Member No.: 47
Joined: 30-May 11



This was weird. She thought this was weird. Well, it was weird, so all it meant was that she'd been here for all the preceding stuff and had noticed how little sense this made.

"Um. Yes! Hi. What are you doing?"


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Tiny Librarian
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 10:06 AM


A Little Light Reading


Group: Superheroes
Posts: 372
Member No.: 42
Joined: 18-May 11



What.

This was bizarre. Why was he calling her and why would be be so... normal? Kristján was a lot of things, and normal was definitely not one of them.

"...Not much. What's up?"


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Kristján
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 10:22 AM


the devil you know


Group: Superhero/Moderator
Posts: 416
Member No.: 47
Joined: 30-May 11



"Oh, um. Lot of things."

Work, he thought, dragging a hand down his face. He didn't dare get that specific, though.

"Complicated. So. In the spirit of being pointlessly vague, I was thinking that you should drop absolutely everything you are doing and meet me at the Starbuck's on the same block as that wing place where we had dinner."


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Tiny Librarian
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 10:42 AM


A Little Light Reading


Group: Superheroes
Posts: 372
Member No.: 42
Joined: 18-May 11



Ema's brain was working on overdrive. There had to be a catch. He couldn't just want to see her. There was no way. And it was complicated?

Plus, if he was being pointlessly vague (what did that even mean?) then he must have something in mind, some reason he was calling or something... Right?

What the hell.

"Look... That would be nice and all, but..." She did kind of want to see him. Plus, now she had to find out what was going on, or she wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it. She sighed. "How about the one at the corner of Red Orchard and Baines?"

That Starbucks was easily within walking distance, which made it infinitely preferable to Kristján's choice.


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Kristján
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 10:50 AM


the devil you know


Group: Superhero/Moderator
Posts: 416
Member No.: 47
Joined: 30-May 11



"Great. Oh, and also. Don't bring anything."

See, Kristján knew Ema. With another woman he might have said, Ema I need to see you, or Listen please can we talk.

That shit wouldn't work on Ema. Even if she was attracted to him--which he thought sometimes she might be? Who could tell for certain with women?--she was an independent modern girl and probably didn't get carried away by that.

Kristján did know something that seemed to get her to behave utterly unreasonably one hundred percent of the time.

"If you come without even a purse or anything, if you just drop everything and leave it where it is, I will answer one question truthfully and to your satisfaction for free."

Curiosity.

Maybe it would make her more suspicious that he was offering something apparently for nothing in return, but there just had to be something she wanted to know badly enough to get her there, even if it was just why in any possible Hell he'd asked her to meet him in such a bizarre manner.

This post has been edited by Kristján on Sep 2 2011, 10:54 AM


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Tiny Librarian
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 11:12 AM


A Little Light Reading


Group: Superheroes
Posts: 372
Member No.: 42
Joined: 18-May 11



Okay, then. That was the most tempting thing anyone had ever said to her. But what the fuck?

"Kristján." There was no other explanation. There was no good reason why he would say something like that.

"Are you screwing with me? I mean, I know I fucked up, but seriously. What are you doing?"


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Kristján
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 11:38 AM


the devil you know


Group: Superhero/Moderator
Posts: 416
Member No.: 47
Joined: 30-May 11



This was an easy one. If Kristján put down his entire life and identity down on a flow chart, directly after Has someone asked you an uncomfortable direct question? would be, Can you be a complete dick for no good reason just to frustrate them until they desist? Yes or no.

Right this second, mercifully, the answer was yes.

"Ema, I am always dicking with everybody. But I also told you that I appreciated your apology, and I haven't ever cared enough what you think to lie to you. Why would I start now?"

She was so frustrating! Why was he trying to save her life again?


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Tiny Librarian
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 11:47 AM


A Little Light Reading


Group: Superheroes
Posts: 372
Member No.: 42
Joined: 18-May 11



Ema facepalmed and leaned against a wall.

"Kristján. Look, I don't know exactly what you want from me, but what you just said says to me that yes, you are screwing with me, probably because I did something really awful and also because you are a jerk, and therefore my best option would be to just hang up right now and never talk to you again. If you tell me why you want me to meet you, I will actually drop everything and come meet you, but I don't know just how badly you want to screw with me, so if you won't give me something to work with, then I should probably just not go."

She stood with one hand over her face, hoping against hope that he would give her a reason to go. Or maybe she should go just to tell him off for being a jerk. But she wouldn't. She knew that.


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Kristján
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 11:57 AM


the devil you know


Group: Superhero/Moderator
Posts: 416
Member No.: 47
Joined: 30-May 11



"Ema," he said carefully.

There was a way to do this, and he was sure he knew what it was. He just didn't know what he knew. Kristján had better figure it out quickly, though, because it was important and time was sort of a relevant factor.

"I am not calling you or asking you this because I am pissed at you. If I wanted to get back at you for what you did, I would just yell at you. I am too important on a cosmic scale to waste my time on long campaigns to make one mortal suffer."

Even saying that was kind of an acknowledgment on his part of how right Ema was about the depths to which he really was a complete jerk, but Kristján hoped that it made him the kind of jerk she would trust for just a few minutes until The Ancient broke into her house and she learned what he'd warned her about where demons were concerned.

Just because a demon was honest didn't necessarily make him trustworthy. Even good intentions didn't make him trustworthy, as Emerald was probably about to discover (provided he couldn't somehow prevent her from realizing that his intentions were good, which would honestly be preferable though likely entirely impossible).


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Tiny Librarian
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 12:23 PM


A Little Light Reading


Group: Superheroes
Posts: 372
Member No.: 42
Joined: 18-May 11



That was a valid point... Fine. But she was going to give her phone to her neighbor, and tell her where to find her in case anything happened while she was gone.

"Alright. I'll meet you there. I'm bringing my keys, and nothing else."

She held her breath and waited to hear his response.


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Kristján
Posted: Sep 2 2011, 12:39 PM


the devil you know


Group: Superhero/Moderator
Posts: 416
Member No.: 47
Joined: 30-May 11



Kristján sighed, a soft noise that Ema could nonetheless probably hear from her end. If he'd been anybody else, he might have thanked her, or God, or someone that he had made this work.

It wasn't time to relax yet, though, and he was far beyond thanking God for anything. He still had work to do, and God certainly was not going to do it for him. So all he said was, "Good. I'm leaving now," and hung up.

That was done. It hadn't even been the hard part. Keeping her occupied long enough for Tettius to get in and out withouut running into Ema... that would be the hard part. Kristján pushed himself up off the floor with one hand braced against his knee. He needed to go iron his trousers. He'd said that he was leaving immediately, but that obviously meant immediately upon becoming presentable.

The demon tried to figure out what he was going to say or do to keep her distracted while he stood in his full outfit minus pants at the ironing board. Chocolate brown dress shirt, tan sport coat, and a yellow, cream, and orange paisley tie with a gold tie bar. Oh, and Emporio Armani boxers in a hunter green bold check pattern.

Immediately upon becoming presentable. He needed a moment to think anyway.


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