1965-09-28 - Tracking Cantrips are Useful Things
Summary: Ambrose thinks he can hide, but not from Halgrim and his trusted friends, Adam and John Constantine. Bloodshed is averted by diplomacy.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
adam constantine halgrim ambrose 

Brooklyn, along the river. A clever incantation and cantrip has led one Gutter Mage, cursed professor, and curious creation here, hot on the trail of an audacious master-thief.

It looks like the place, way back when, might have been one of the many offices dotting the river who were responsible for checking the paperwork for arriving barges. Where a large glass window would have announced its name at one point, like as not stenciled in paint, wood panels cover it up. Graffiti, old and weather-worn, covers these and announces it as territory.

Well, at one point. Not anymore. The street itself is very quiet with no sign of habitation, not even a bicycle stashed to one side or a lean-to shelter next to an oil drum with burnt newspaper in it to be found in the alleyway next door. The noises are the constant lapping of the river and the traffic in the busier sections of the neighborhood as well as across the water. It won't be hard to find a way in. The front door's lock was broken long ago and never shuts properly as is.

Inside, it isn't large. The small entry room at one point had enough space for one desk that now stands forgotten and weathered. Papers are rain-spattered and worn, dated mostly back to the 1930s, some from the 1940s, and a few of more present dates, though these appear to be newspaper articles and might have simply blown in through the front. A hallway leads farther back into more office spaces, all open floor plan. Desks are scattered here and there within. Old filing cabinets have since rusted out and pertinent paperwork removed. A bookshelf or two contains nothing of value anymore, having long since been looted for knick-knacks to pawn off for another dollar. The ceiling hasn't fallen in yet, but there are places where trapped rainwater is slowly dribbling in to pit-pit on the floor in a steady rhythm. Carpet still exists in some places where it hasnt been eaten or torn up.

But what's this? A sharp eye will detect that one bookcase isn't as dusty as the others. It's tucked back against the wall farthest inwards in a shadowy corner. The wall conjoins with the building next door and surely it's all solid masonry behind…?

Halgrim has joined Adam and John mostly to see this through; and, though he'd never admit it, out of a perverse desire to prove to himself that he can, in fact, handle himself. (It would be too embarassing to lose control in front of Adam *and* John, after all. That alone ought to keep things under wraps. Maybe.) "I guess this isn't much of a surprise," he murmurs to Adam and John as they poke around inside. "No one's going to bother him around here."

Isn't large, indeed. Almost not large enough to accomodate Adam with the other two men. He could almost stand upright and walk off wearing the place. Hood up, he's mostly a gigantic grey cloak, one enormous hand emerging from it to investigate this or that. He makes a low rumble of acknowledgement to Halgrim in his chest, regarding the undusty bookcase curiously. His huge hand floats out to give it an experimental push. He's the one best-equipped to handle a trap to the face, after all.

Constantine squint looking around, side. Up. Newspaperd: antiquated. Unread. Mostly bunched up rather than folded which meant they more than likely blew in off hte street. "Eeeeh seen worse flats than this one. Nothing's possessed or tryied to trad us into the abyss. That, and so far it hasn't all gone tits-up." One could wonder if the Gutter Mage wasn't named that becasue he was constantly getting his hands dirty or because that's where his class and mind wound up. Maybe a bit of both. "Either way, this is our place. Might not be when. Definiately where."

Adam's efforts reward him. It flexes on inset wheels, proof that it can be moved horizontally along a track. Sliding the bookcase aside reveals a rather solid-looking metal door. It has a handle and opens when turned into a dark hallway rather than brick. There's no lighting within but for what shines from the opened door itself. Anyone with night vision or a simple flashlight will travel forwards with ease. This is older brick, dating from the time of Prohibition and like as not used as a passageway for smuggling liquor into the U.S. from its point of origin. It's surprisingly well-kept and, in places, one can see where patching has happened to prevent collapse. The floor is cool but not wet. It's a long straight shot for a good distance to another metal door.

"Passages hidden behind bookcases with metal doors," Halgrim says, tone dry. He looks askance at John and Adam, pulls a pocket flashlight out of his jacket and holds it up. He raises his eyebrows, asking the silent question of, 'will this attract too much attention'.

Adam considers the passageway with a certain blase regard. It's going to be a tight fit for him in there. "Well, would you rather I block the way forward or back?" he asks Constantine, dryly humorous. "Forward, I think, to leave the way free for you to escape."

Constantine spun on heel at the give and the scrape of wheels. With all teh careless attitude one might love and hate of him he commented, "I love secret hiding places. It almost always means cult, spies or a mistress. Either way we might be in for an entertaining night. He took a drag off his cig, touched the end of it with his finger and slowly flexed fingers ito fist into a hand alight held out in front of him. Two-fold torch and system of shielding. "Right then. Shall we off to meet our host?"

Between both flashlight and held spell-light, no matter the order, there's a hallway to travel and now the intrepid travelers can see their path. At least there are no tripwires! At least, no obvious ones.

At that far end of hallway, dank and cold, there's a metal door, this one rather heavily rusted in the hinges. The care given to the hallway ends here. It's not quite "turn ye back or suffer", but the message is subtly clear: thou art not welcome further. A good shove will open it at the cost of resounding noise…unless someone's got the tools or strength to work at the rusted screws and lift the door slightly off its hinges.

Beyond, a small room full of empty wooden barrels. They're all lacking lids and empty, but the faint smell of white rum is present even with the damp chilliness that pervades everything. The room itself, still brick, is large enough to hold a total of a dozen barrels, all sequestered off into groupings of four, one in each corner save for an open section with a final door in the wall. This one seems more modern and even houses a frosted glass pane. Beyond, warm light is proof of equally-modern lighting or at least a fire.

Halgrim regards John's hand on fire with a slow blink, pockets his flashlight. And pointedly lets John go in front of him, because there's no way he's letting that hover behind him.

He sniffs, winces. "Rum," he warns John, though of course maybe magical fire isn't the same sort of risk.

Adam slips into the passageway quite easily, actually, letting Constantine take the lead with his fire. "Occasionally, a rumor about you is true," he remarks, interested.

Constantine looked to Halgrim stonefaced, "Don't mind if I do." THe flame, yellow and dark green burning to red. Sickly like from the belly of hell itself. Both eyebrows arched in a Eh, what can ya do gesture. Those beady eyes squint looking for something… very specific. "Usually true, Adam. Soemtimes accidentally flattering. Chin up, chaps. They might not have been expecting company but that doesn't mean tehy're standing around with their trousers down."

Thankfully no liquid rum at risk of flame, but there is the idle chance of an ember catching on wood. No doubt the practitioner is careful as they approach this last door.

Opening this portal reveals a rather large expanse of living quarters, as large as might contain an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The air within is cool and dry, clean and without much smell. An underground studio, it appears, for there's a section of one brick wall devoted to cooking given the random collection of pots and pans beside an old wood stove, its piping rigged to exit the smoke elsewhere within the brick walls. Another side of the room appears to be geared towards a bedroom, complete with a free-swinging hammock mounted on a sturdy frame rather than actual bed. A small hammock-side desk contains a single oil-burning lamp turned low and a book complete with bookmark. A bureau likely contains other objects, but of interest might be the pith helmet hanging from a hat stand beside along with a scarlet serge uniform that must date from the late 1800s. Yet another, the longest uninterrupted portion, seems devoted to an indoor gymnasium: a pommel horse, balance beam, set of parallel bars, and sturdily-mounted rebar embedded in the walls at varied heights create a place to work at darting and dodging and executing flips to land on pads beneath.

It's along the last and final wall, clearly devoted to the care of delicate and old items by the chemicals and handling tools present, that the person of their search exists. Leaning against the lengthy expanse of sturdy oak table with arms crossed, Ambrose watches them with an unblinking and chilly stare. He wears a plain grey t-shirt and black tactical pants as well as an archival mask. He must have just finished up working to package an item, given that an unmarked square parcel sits behind him and he wears pristine-white archival gloves. The gloves appear bright as he reaches up to slowly pull down the equally-clean mask from his nose and mouth. Ambient light flickers in and out of his pupils in bright-red, like nightshine in a wild animal. He's not yet identified those arriving, but it won't be long. By the expression on his face, they are not welcome.

"That's him," Halgrim confirms for John and Adam. He spares a glance for the helmet and uniform, refocuses on Ambrose almost immediately. Time enough for that later.

Adam straightens up. Way, way up. Like nine feet up. He pulls back his hood, revealing his gigantic and awful face. He's distracted by the interesting old things and the chemicals and especially the uniform. When he looks at Ambrose, he offers him a sardonic little bow.

Constantine turned to Adam trying to figure out why in teh nine hells he was bowing, turned, and quint peering at Ambrose. It had been a long long… long time ago in the grand scheme of things. He was silent and as if to ebb any lingering suspiscion greeted, "I didn't come to give your 50 quid back so don't ask." His head swum in a fingure eighte. Here we go. "You're a constipator, mate. Why you messin with my shite? What's the bird doe to you you need to keep the lass outta a job?"

Even as everyone files into the room, Ambrose unfolds his arms. Lifting up a hand, he begins picking at the tip of each finger of one white material, almost daintily — mockingly — warningly. His attention never leaves the arrivals. The professor, he recognizes. Fine — stubborn fool will find out what…happens…when…oh God. The motions of plucking at the gloves slow and nearly stop.

The Jackal was not expecting someone holding a handful of literal flame — or someone at least nine feet tall, at least four feet wide, and big enough to knock him butt-over-tea kettle with one swat. Silence follows and clings. Ambrose lifts his chin and again goes the flicker-flash of red light through his pupils as he shifts his attention now to John. He inhales once and then exhales slowly, appearing to settle himself as best he can in his lean on the desk.

"Your…shite?" he echoes the magician, tossing each glove aside on the desk one at a time while never breaking eye contact. He has that crisp British accent, but rounded out with childhood spent in the Fertile Crescent. "The bird did nothing and she still has her job — and you can keep the 50 quid, that is nothing to me these days." His eyes flicker now to Halgrim. "Professor. I presume you have something to do with this rag-tag band of miscreants?" Adam receives the look most heavily leaning towards leery.

Halgrim frowns faintly at John in momentary confusion; it's replaced with mild amusement as soon as Ambrose addresses him. He glances at John and Adam and shrugs. "No I've no idea who they are, I just followed them since they looked so trust-worthy," he says with no irony whatsoever.

Adam smiles at Ambrose, not friendly in the least. A stitched-together abomination, whose very life flies in the face of science and God. "That uniform," he says, nodding towards it. "I have not seen it in a hundred years." This comes out menacing rather than a neutral observation, as Adam looms up behind Constantine. No need to crowd the trash mage, though. Adam looms very effectively from a little distance.

Constantine could not be arsed to get worked up over something he wasn't directly benefiting from, pulled out a cig from his pocket and lit it off his hand that held the flame like a globe. "Ah, I see we mostly all know each other. So…" He took a drag off the cig and looked around with a squint helping himself to a view, you know, casually on fire. "What I don't get mate, is what is making this worth your while? The documents aren't the leas tbit interesting. I know I-" He paused and shook his head, "I read them myself." They didn't call him the con-man or Con Job for nothing. "Who hired you to abscond with a two thousand year old fruitcake recipe that no one wants to eat?"

Halgrim receives a very thin, chill smile, one that barely exposes teeth, for his comment. The Jackal notes how he hangs back and marks him as potential weakness — how wrong he may turn out to be in time. His eyes then flick to - and up - Adam.

"…not in over one-hundred years?" He sounds curious despite the forced nonchalance through his posture, leaning as he still is against the desk. "You and I might need to have a tete-a-tete if you survive, sirrah." And that, Ambrose probably means running the opposite direction as fast as he can manage, but bluffing did get him places in the past.

He watches John's acts involving fire very carefully. At the distance across the room, it's hard to catch how white he is around the mouth, but all three gentlemen present now within his quarters definitely have his back to the wall, in more ways than one. "No one hired me. I am my own man…and you wouldn't even begin to understand the 'why' of it." Ambrose then raises his voice, its tone noticeably flat as if he were attempting to squash all emotion from it.

"You all have one chance to turn around and leave. Just the one…and then I will remove you myself, one way or another. I do not jest." He accents his point by turning and reaching across his body for something on the other side of the parcel.

Ah — a Webley & Scott service revolver, polished and pretty as the day it was smithed, modernized for current times. This points dead at the group and he thumbs off the safety. "I will shoot," he informs his guests in that same even tone.

Halgrim's eyes flit to the gun, and he takes a steadying breath. Of course, this is precisely *why* he brought John and Adam, as opposed to probably anyone else. But a gun is a gun, no matter everyone's strengths, and it's not like *he's* impervious to bullets. So he stays where he is, just behind Adam, and schools himself to calm. Nothing to be gained by losing control.

Adam doesn't do anything so foolish as making sure he's in front of Halgrim. "Pretty," he says, of the gun. "It will do you no good." He really is, ah, extremely tall and large and horrifically ugly. A monster by every meaning of the word. His body language is alien; he's not tense or relaxed or, anything. Just standing there more like an architectural feature than a man. "Let us speak, instead."

Constantine left his cig bouncing off his lip squinting one eye unable to possibly get more frank as he leveled withthe guy, "I once had a three-way bargain withDUkes of Hell and carry on with a Vampire that writes angry letters in cuneiform to teh Daily Post. You'd be shocked at what I'd understand, mate." Two fingers traced a sigil in teh air as he let Ambrose mull it over. "I mean I'm sure you can shoot. But why? It's a little base for us, innit? I honestly just want an answer that makes some shred of sense."

For the calm words from both Adam and John both, Ambrose merely reaches with his other hand behind himself. Without breaking gaze, he pulls out yet another revolver, twin to the mate in his first hand, and clicks off that safety as well.

"You remove yourself from my property and I will be far more interested in speaking with you about such matters," he says in that same flat, cold tone. "Last chance."

A second gun doesn't do much to change Halgrim's stance on the situation. "As they've said, we're here to discuss things. Not," he raises his chin at the guns, "have a duel."

Adam thinks it over. "A reasonable request," he says, like Ambrose has asked for the red instead of the white wine. Unspoken: 'because now we know where you live.' "Gentlemen." He turns back towards the tunnel, and totally coincidentally blocks Halgrim entirely from Ambrose's view with his broad form.

Constantine flicked the fire off his hand like he was shaking out a match Nad reached into his coat making the 'hold your horses' gesture and pulled out… a silver case for business cards. He took one out and set it on teh table with a *fwip* He odded to Ambrose, "Well as lovely as it was to see you under such… interesting circumstances. Ring us up. Might have a jobber for ya."

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