1964-07-19 - Words from Beyond
Summary: Certain books appear in a library and shops around the city. So far seven have sold. Seven books for seven scholars. Seven readers were obsessed by reading for days. They stayed up late into the night, flipping pages and examining the printed plates. Seven suicides for seven young men. On every occasion, the police inspected the death, signed off on no foul play, and declared the case closed. But you know that's not the truth. The eighth book is now in circulation…
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
dane-whitman josie delphyne tigra rogue 


Literati in NYC are a closer community than the city's size suggests. They're gossipy as old women, especially since many are, in fact, old women. Or close enough to count. A good author, largely unknown? Not anymore. The name spreads like wildfire through kaffeeklatsches and schools and bookstores. Someone worthy of villification for sour words? Everyone's a critic. At the heart of it all is the Strand Bookstore, famous for its writing communities and its decrepit cellar full of prized books. The trade counter might as well be a bar. People are loitering about tonight, muttering about some terribly sad matters. Narratives don't change much.

"Yes, yes, Howard Bray. Awful, wasn't it? His mother learned from the landlord," says a regular.

"Such promise as a poet. He was going to Empire State," the dealer, a fellow about fifty, nods. He rubs his florid cheeks. "I never would have thought. He seemed so energetic, so full of life. Why would he-?"

The regular sniffs. "Why does any youth hang themselves? Degenerate lifestyle. Must have read something those activist ruffians are coming up with."

Another patron hisses out a breath. "It wasn't the beatniks, I'll say that much."

The door chimes, letting in another young person. Blonde-ish, kind of thin. Not a regular, and wearing a backpack. So probably a thief, the old ones would say. But Stephanie Brown clearly knows what she's here for, and has not bothered with the makeup today so she looks pretty nondescript.

Immediately she starts listening though, to pick up knowledge that can't be bought. And pokes into the book selection, not that she's buying.

Dane is too new to New York to be part of any community. Nevertheless, he's often at the right place at the right time. Or perhaps it's the wrong place at the wrong time, depending on one's point of view. He does, though, like a good book. Preferably bound in leather and from an earlier century. Given the cut and quality of his clothes, he can afford them too. Inspecting the ones placed on the shelf he's currently looking over, he's only half listening to the gossip. Suicide. check. A shame. Check. Get off the old guy's lawn. Check.

"So we're talking aobut hwat happened to… Howard?" Josie is doing her best to insert herself into the conversation seamlessly, offering a bright smile and a quick nod for people who happen to look her way. She's actually dressed respectively for once, in a deep blue blouse and black wrap around skirt that hangs past her ankles.

"I can't believe it. It's like the city's gone insane the past ten years. All these people acting crazy, costumes, battles in the street…" The brunette shakes herh ead in a flash of carefully trimmed shoulder length tresses. Then a brow quirks. "Do you- really think it could have been what he was reading? Was he found with anything… A book, maybe? A note?"

Josie is going to keep pressing for details from there. As inconspicuously as she can manage. Literati are gossips, after all. Right?

One thing that's hard to deny about books, especially older ones is the smell, and it practically kills Tigra to be in the bookstore in her human form. Sure, her senses are sharper than normal, but they're not superhuman, and she aches to drink in the smell of the books, even though she limits herself to sipping it. She pauses, letting a fingertip run along the spine of a copy of Twenty Years After. Ohhh, that's tempting. Haven't ever seen one before. She half listens to the conversations around her, curious but not focused.

Delphyne nods over towards Josie as she's in with the other woman, the gorgon looking pretty respectable herself. Wearing a long black skirt and white long-sleeved shirt, she even completes the ensemble with a pair of glasses, her snakes tied behind her so she doesn't freak out the mundanes. Too much. However, she does have a pen and notepad, writing down a few details of what's been happening for future reference.

Lindon wanders the aisles of the book store. He doesn't have room for more books but when has that stopped him? Besides, if there are suicide-inducing books out there, who wouldn't want one for his personal collection? He glances up when he hears his sister's voice. Closing the book he's browsing, he drifts in her direction. Delphyne gets a curious glance. It's not every day he sees someone like her. "I couldn't help but overhear," he says.

As it happens, there are several books of particularly esteemed value, old leather-bound and cloth-covered ones kept behind glass to preserve them and available on a typed list by the booktrade counter and front cashier.

The dealer doesn't have a nametag as such. He sits under a huge sign reading 'Book Trades Here' with a list of various requests and 'do not wants.' Sorting through books takes some time, and he judiciously flips pages and gossips. The regulars know the other regulars and look at Josie oddly.

"What, you go to school with him or something? Pardon but you don't really look like a Lit major," says pro-beatnik. "Better not be some… journalist."

"Here we go again," mutters the seller.

The blonde waif is…focused. Stephanie's browsing something she hasn't more than glanced at the title of, looking like she's looking for a certain quote or page, but her mind is trying desperately to grab everything that her ears can gather. Eyes flicker around, looking for anyone suspicious or anyone whose eyes linger, but only for an instant at a time.

Is anyone here who isn't playing the gossip game? She shakes her head and puts the book back, mumbling something for the audience about 'Shades of Grey', and licks her lips on occasion to let her taste the air. There has to be something.

When the conversation at the front starts getting interesting, she immediately looks away. To see who shows interest, and if possible, why. Yes, she is a trained detective.

Dane Whitman pulls a book from the shelf and carefully opens it, gently leafing through a few pages before putting it back. Stepping away from the bookcase, he looks over the list of books in the case, expression registering interest at one or two of them.

"What, a Lit Major? No, I minored in Lit. My major was Anthropology. You know. The Iliad and the Odyssey, Antigone. I'm studying the historical influences that have come together to create the literature we know today." Josie lifts her hands and spreads them lightly, as if to emphasize her words. She has a perfectly trained charm school accent and perfect elocution to go with her carefully maintained appearance offered words.

"I was worried because we should all be worried. Literature needs to be understood and shared. If anyone hurts themselves because of a book people should understand why and deal with the problem." The young woman takes a deep breath as if she is about to continue, turning her head so she can glance at the Gorgon walking beside her. Then Lindon's voice comes along.

"One second, I'm sorry," Josie's voice greets pro-beatnik. Then she turns toward Lindon. "Oh. Hello, Lindon." What have they done with slang throwing, irreverent, filthy mouthed Josephine? It's like she morphed back into the girl she was in Junior University. SHe scans the shop and then tkaes a deep breath. "But if you don't know- anything about what happened I guess I should just ask around," Josie finally tells beatnik. "I'm sorry I bothered you."

Greer Nelson, aka Tigra, makes a mental note of the book. Perhaps she'll come back to it later. Shes moves down the bookshelf, paying a little more attention to the conversation, now. Someone hurt because of a book? Should've paid a little more attention to her eavesdropping, she thinks.

Delphyne glances over at Lindon, her eyes perking up when Josie starts talking to him. She doesn't saunter over yet, content to just look around the bookstore and take a few notes, hmmming to herself quietly.

Lindon arches a brow, regarding Josie dubiously. He smiles, though. Good, this is the sister he imagines in his mind despite all available evidence when he thinks of Josie. He settles a hand on her shoulder and informs the pro-beatnik, "Josephine is my sister." Lindon is a regular, or at least a known. He's an archivist at the main library. He handles the rare pieces on a daily, yo. "What were we discussing? That suicide? What a tragedy."

"Hmph," says the pro-beatnik regular. "Journalist. Telling you, Mark, they're like flies on a pile of dung. It's… tawdry. He's dead. Self-inflicted. Probably got wrong in the head and that was that. As if it's a book. Books don't do anything, people do things."

"Joe. Let his family have some peace," the other man says. He gets up from his seat and scowls at Josie.

The dealer grumbles. "Are any of you actually going to buy anything or you taking up my chairs? I ought to start charging like the pubs do." He glances aside at Lindon. "Well, not you. Can't take your stuff, being the NYPL might come after me."

Stephanie hasn't found anything. Or nothing her conscious mind has alerted her to. And she can't afford to actually buy a book unless she dips into her nest egg. Begins to wonder if she's going to need to come back after hours, though that catlike lady looks like she's probably here for the same reasons.

She sighs a little, putting down the book she was having a peek at, and can't figure out what to do next. It's a store with a grumpy proprietor. No real links to crime, or the cops would have sussed them out, and nobody's acting in any way to get her attention.

Maybe she'll have to do something to draw them out. "Hey, if you're all curious, why don't you just ask what they had in common? Or buy a book so the nice man can get on with his life?"

Sometimes it takes a catalyst to move stuff forward.

"I'd be glad to buy something if you had what I'm looking for." Dane tells the book dealer. "Perhaps you can get them for me. As close to an original version of Le Morte d'Arthur as you can get your hands on. The same for Chretien de Troyes. The bindings have to be solid; I don't want them falling apart on me." As he gives his want list, he idly looks over at the conversation going on but doesn't join in.

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d20 for: 4

"Nothing of the sort here, sir, though the main store has the widest selection. Talk to Ben, he'll set you up right," the dealer says to Dane. "I'm sure we've paperbacks."

"…No. Not a journalist." Joe earns a sigh from Josie who nods at the rest of the people in the conversation and takes a deep breath. "It's nothing to do with that. It's just- with something like this…" Josie turns away from the group of men with a slow step.

"Del, this is my brother, Lindon." Josie gestures between the two. "Lin, this is Delphyne. My girlfriend. We were both checking out the shop, especially with all the weirdness that's been happening…" There's a nod which might be interpeted as significant.

]With this Josie turns and quietly starts to walk into the shop, with one more quick look at the assembled before she steps into the shelves.

Le Morde d'Arthur? Someone wants an original version of that? And de Troyes? Well that certainly gets Tigra's attention, and she steps from around the bookshelf to see who's interested in them. Well, he's certainly easy on the eyes, she thinks, and steps over towards him. "Sounds like someone's a fan of Arthur," she says with a smile.

Delphyne blinks, and smiles over at Lindon, "Hello. It's good to finally meet you. Josie's mentioned you quite a bit." With that, she extends a hand towards Lindon, though she does glance over at the book dealer, "I don't suppose you'd have any books on Norse mythology? I'm already rather familiar with the Greek." Her eyes flash in a bit of amusement at that.

Lindon eyes Josie as she says the 'g' word, but women call each other girlfriends all the time. It doesn't mean anything. He glances around though, just casual-like, before he smiles at Delphyne somewhat awkwardly and says, "Hello, it's nice to meet you." He shakes her hand, and he regards her for maybe a little too long. Humans. They can be rude without meaning it.

He regards Dane next, giving his literary tastes a nod of approval, and he asides to the shopkeeper, "I'll be coming away with more than a few books, don't worry about it. Say, you don't happen to know what happened to the suicide books, do you?"

The place is still busy. People in different aisles converse or read, but the hub is where the dealer sits. The regulars — Joe and Mark — give Stephanie kind of a sideways look at her question. Joe, suspicious of journalists, spends longer staring than Mark, who shoots the 'I am so sorry' face at her.

The dealer nods. "Viking myths and Norse folk tales, second block under the red flag. Plenty of call for it lately. Afraid that whole section is a complete mess. Got a fresh shipment the last few days."

Mark chokes on 'suicide books.' Heads turn. Yeah, that got some attention from Lindon. The dealer's cheeks go red, his mouth a tart frown. Customer is not always right, but he controls himself. "The Strand wouldn't sell such things, couldn't stand for it. We didn't buy the one offered mistakenly in a box. Hopefully it's in a Jersey landfill."

Stephanie grumbles. Deaths bring in business. Is that it? It can't be that simple. She really needs to come back and have a look at these people's books after hours. And literally nobody seems to have heard her statement. Somehow. Proof that she's managed to become invisible. Yay, life goal achieved.

Or that she's just not important. Same thing in the long run, okay. She tries to put it all together. There's clearly a bunch of them in the room, all investigating. Some better than others. Fine, all data is good data.

Which is when she catches it. Mistakenly in a box? "Who tried to sell it to you," she says, absolutely blowing her cover, her face focused suddenly and intense.

"The newspaper stand on the corner has paperbacks." Dane points out, without, it should be noted, a sniff. "But I'll try the main store next." Hearing Tigra, he looks over at the comment and nods. "He was an interesting person in an interesting period of history. He was ahead of his time which almost certainly accounts for what happened. Still, his name and ideals live on which is more than can be said for many." Now, while he was only half paying attention to the gossip, Lindon's question can't really be ignored. "Suicide books?"

Josie looks around as if to be sure that no one else in the shop heard how she described Delphyne. She certianly doesn't take it back, however. Taking a deep breath the slender, well-dressed young woman is moving to pick up a book from a shelf. She studies it carefully for a second and then pauses, blinking profusely. A moment later Josie is reaching into her purse.

After a second the brunette comes up with a bottle of eyedrops. One dropper full in each eye and then she blinks a few times. Blue eyes dilate almost immediately and the girl surveys all the people around her one more time. She starts to grimace. A soft groan, a brief sigh, a wide-eyed stare.

Josie seems to be having vision issues of some sort. She half-walks back toward Delphyne and Lindon, where she finally whispers to the Gorgon- and her brother, if he's nosy. "…This place is seriously weird. Havey -you noticed anything…? Magic everywhere. Can't even look around without waiting to eat my hand."

"Interesting to know how much of those accounts are true or not. To know what he was really like," Tigra says. "And to know what type of people his knights would have been." She frowns a little bit. Suicide what?

Delphyne glances over towards Josie, and shakes her head a little, whispering back, "I'm… not really that sensitive to such things. But you think there's something about this bookshop?" She frowns, looking suddenly suspicious.

The dealer mops his face. It's hot, no matter what the fans do. "A customer brought in books to sell back, young lady," he says to Stephanie. "We have a strict policy on certain content. No smut, no self-printed work, and so forth." Mounted on the wall, a poster beside him pretty much says the same thing. It's a short list. "Ned… Hubbard, I think? Poor boy passed unexpectedly. Not the material we buy, so I politely declined. It was awful." He rubs the back of his neck, shuddering.

Lindon turns his attention to Josie, indeed nosy. "Are you serious?" he asks in a low tone, and he glances around again. The clutching of pearls on behalf of the dealer gets a sidelong look. Yeah, he coined it. Not so shy in literary circles where he's kind of a big deal (to some). His brow furrows as he asks, "What was the book about? I don't mean to be macabre but one can't help but be curious."

Joe is already pushing off to find himself another spot where the 'tawdry' isn't talked about. Hey, can't blame him, right? Suicide books having been asked about, loudly, it falls to Mark the regular to say, "Some gossip says there's more than one customer feeling inspired to die after reading a book. It's hogwash if you ask me."

The dealer adds grimly, "Not the words that stick with a man, just knowing it's not right."

"They've been romanticized, of course." Dane answers, somewhat distracted by the conversation about the 'suicide books'. "They were written centuries after his death, after all. Even today, facts fade over years and details become blurred and we're a literate culture. The core truths are there though." Looking to Joe, he asks "Where are they supposedly getting these books?"

"There have been seven," says Stephanie. The mostly unremarkable blonde in the back. "Seven dead. This room is full of magic. And you turned away the eighth book. You knew it was dangerous." She isn't asking questions now, she's interrogating. "It's going to kill someone else if we can't find it."

As people are asking after the books Josie is lowering her head towardh er chin and closing her eyes. "I can't learn much. Too much out there. Or I tripped a trap and it blinded me, I guess." Josephine seems to be irritated by the confluence of events but she seems to be having difficulty keeping things straight, all told. Her steps are a little wobbly and she is no longer investigating any of her surroundings in favour of trying to clutch at her head. "I think-…Nng."

Tigra nods to Dane, but given the heavier conversation, decides this isn't the best time to talk about Caer—er, Camelot. Doubly so at the information from the seemingly surprising source. "Then we'd better go find it, then. At least we have a name to start with…" she trails off at Josephine's distress. "Uhm, you okay? Read something wrong?"

Del quickly slips an arm around Josie, "Hey, what's wrong?" She looks at Josie with obvious concern, supporting her as necessary, then narrows her eyes as she looks around the shop, the snakes bound behind her head hissing a bit from Del's agitation.

Lindon hovers around Josie, and Del by association. The snakes get a sidelong, somewhat nervous look. "Josie-posy?" Because the name he called her when she was eleven is just chock full of dignity. "Hey, let's get you a breath of fresh air. I don't think this place is doing you any favors." He looks to the bookseller. What's he doing in all this?

Joe shrugs. "Dunno. Ain't something coming off Book Row, that's for sure." Murder books and anarchist cookbooks do tend to stick out. "Figure a home press or someone typing it up, though that's slow. Typewriters are a bear."

The dealer grimaces again. He doesn't seem to be taking the news all that well. "Magic? I never… there's only the magic of proper literacy here." All he can do to avoid gritting his teeth. "I only know the Hubbards brought one in. Where they took it, I hardly know."

Dane Whitman gives Stephanie a piercing look at the mention of magic then turns his gaze on the others in the room, ending on Josie. Others seem to be seeing to her so he returns to the more important matter. "What did you say his first name was? Do you happen to have an address?" After a moment, he adds "It wouldn't hurt to let the authorities know. In these days of aliens and ancient gods, who knows what's possible."

"Ned Hubbard," repeats the dealer. "I've a record of the rest and they paid by check. You let me run word up to Martha, she can fetch it. They surely know. The police would… for a suicide."

Stephanie Brown looks outside. Quickly, to see if anyone is 'interested' in this conversation. She has no idea if this guy is telling the truth, but they're not getting much more out of him. "Look, the other deaths weren't directly related to him or his store," she says as she physically tries to lighten up a bit. It's hard, but do-able. "We don't mean to gang up on you. But really, any info you have would be helpful." She glances around at her unexpected teammates and raises an eyebrow in silent question.

There's pedestrians by the boatload in New York. They're all magnificent at ignoring things around them up to and including alien invasions and giant green irradiated men without shirts.

"Well, I can sense- strange things okay but I don't have an actual third eye. It's barely a sixth, um… Gut feeling." Josie shakes her head and allows Del to draw her close, grimacing as she whispers. "So I have those eye drops. They help open up my percpetion, but…" The brunette gestures vaguely to her surroundings. "Whatever I saw gave me the mother of all fucking headaches." So much for being proper today.

Josephine looks over toward Lindon and shakes her head once. "We need to figure this out. Maybe some air would be okay but that's way more important. I'm okay. Just need a lead." She takes a deep breath.

Del frowns, and tries to retrace Josie's steps, and where she was looking… and does a pretty good job. But, she then shakes her head, "Not sure what exactly I'm looking for, or even if I could perceive it if I could." She glances over at Josie, "Do you remember where you were looking, hon?"

Lindon rubs his sister's back, mindlessly fretful. It doesn't matter how much she grows up, she's his sweet baby sister. "We'll figure it out," he says. "Ned Hubbard. We can start with public records." To the shopkeeper, he asks "Can you get my sister a glass of water?" Sure, there are suicide books and sleuthing and bigger things, but his sister doesn't feel well.

"They should." Dane agrees. "But it never hurts to be on the safe side. If you could get that address, please." Clasping his hands behind his back, he's obviously prepared to wait for it as he keeps an eye on the girl who's ailing.

Slapping a small piece of paper on the countertop with a phone number on it, the slightly rough Stephanie says, "Unless anyone is ready to move, I'm going to get looking for Ned. Someone call me if Joe gets more info. You can use my number for a contact if you want to get ahold of each other. And take care of the girl, she looks like she's having an overload. She needs to get out of this shop and into a chair or a bed."

She doesn't wait very well, ready to dash out right the heck now and get after the possibly dangerous, possibly IN danger, Ned Hubbard.

The proprietor heaves up from his table and he sketches a note. That's easy to dispatch to Martha upstairs, the bookkeeper and record mistress. It may take the better part of a few minutes for word to come back down. When it does, it's with impeccable printing and handed off to Dane.

Delphyne busies herself with making sure Josie is okay, more than anything else. She lets the others get organized with the books, though if any demons pop out of the shelves, she's the one most likely to punch them in the face.

No demons, no devils, just the signs of a well-run, beloved bookstore. That much ahs to be a comfort.

Lindon regards Delphyne for a moment, the nods to himself and say to her, "Take care of her." Then he withdraws and makes his way toward the discussion with the bookseller. "Maybe it would be a good idea if we exchanged information, combined whatever it is we're able to find out."

Dane waits for the paper to arrive and gives it a quick glance. "Someone should contact the authorities with that and let them know there might be a magical tome inducing suicidal feelings in those who read it." And convincing them it's not a crank call should take forever. Plenty of time to go deal with it. "Meanwhile, I believe I'll go see what the main store might have for sale." Giving the book dealer a nod, he heads out of the store.

No quick glance, Stephanie stops and looks at the paper. She subtle looks a the backside, just in case there's any reason to do so. Then says, "Okay," and she's heading out the door. Got a lead, following a lead. For someone who's not particularly interesting, she definitely has her head in the game.

Police should have records…public records are an option, can ask a few contacts if they've heard of him. Wonder if he's in the phone book, a personal visit is likely to happen tonight too.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License