1965-10-24 - Boys and Ghouls
Summary: Ambrose and Arlo take a walk in a graveyard. It doesn't go well.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
ambrose arlo 

It's one of those nights, where the clouds scuttle across the sky above like tossed rags, closing off and revealing the half-moon again and again. At the edge of one of the graveyards in the city, Ambrose lingers. He's not yet set foot on the grounds, instead waiting at the wrought iron gate perpetually open to allow people to walk through the tombstones. He's waiting for his look-out, you see, because last time he was in this place?

The dead were out and about.

The lookout isn't afraid of no graveyards! They're nothing more than shortcuts with dead people. In the dim moonlight, he can make out quite a few details. He can't see or read in the dark or anything like that, but the way moonlight plays with shadows stands out in clear focus. So far, it just seems like most graveyards seem: empty and quiet.

"I don't see or hear anything," he murmurs, and his voice is heard within Ambrose's head as he hears what Arlo hears, i.e. his own voice. Arlo has learned better than to make judgments like 'there's nothing here' and just sticks to the facts. He doesn't see or hear anything. Yet.

"Bloody good," Ambrose murmurs back after his heart has returned to his chest rather than up in his throat. He's still easy to surprise with the sudden voice of Arlo, even despite their myriad successful runs about the city. "There's one tombstone in particular I wish to find."

He then steps past the hinged gates taller than a man and walks with careful, rolling steps along the path. He motions for Arlo to follow him. "Last I walked through here, there was a young woman, dead but not so all at once. I was…" He pauses, weighs the wisdom of sharing, and eventually folds in the face of budding trust in the young cockerel. "I was unable to touch her with the curse. It was as if putting a hand flat to a windowpane. Unable to reach beyond her skin. You…haven't heard of such a thing, have you?" By his grimace, he's uncomfortable with the concept, and likely more deeply than on display. To find someone immune to one's abilities? A shock.

"I don't know much about anything when it comes to your curse," Arlo admits. "But the restless dead, sure. There was a Hellmouth open in Central Park for awhile. You don't live homeless in Manhattan without that coming up once in awhile. The restless dead were menacing people at night. I avoided the whole area til it went away. I mean, I guess if your curse feeds on life force, it would make sense it wouldn't work against something that doesn't have any."

The topic has him wary, despite him trying to sound nonchalant, and his senses are piqued. He pays special attention to the vibrations of the earth beneath his feet.

The tale of the Hellmouth makes Ambrose shudder beneath his warm coat. He has memories of the incident, though he made very certain not to linger in any areas influenced by the dark magic, including those plagued by vampires and even a lone were-creature.

"You're a quick one, Avery. Yes, upon the energy of a living body. I am stumped, in a way, because she seemed very lively despite my inability to take from her. I don't wish to run into her this evening, however, so if she does show, we will leave the premises. Post-haste." He tries to remain airy in his speech, but the tension slips in here and there to nail his diction down sharply. "I thought the last section I looked through was there, to the left…" The Jackal has paused at a T-junction in the path and looks the other way. "Yes, now to the right here. I will know the section when I see it. You've sensed nothing out of normalcy?" His eyes flash nightshine-red as they flick to Arlo. 'Normalcy'.

At the gentlemen's seven-o-clock, the sound of a shuffle — like something kicking aside dirt, perhaps? Then a soft thud followed by more sounds of movement, like nails on a chalkboard. Or maybe a coffin.

Arlo stops short and reaches out to block Ambrose out of reflex, then stops himself and says, "Hold up." He's not supposed to touch Ambrose, no matter how innocently nor well intended. He nods at his seven and says, "There's something moving earth." He grimaces and puts his hands over his ears. "We've got to get out of here."

Loyal to a fault, though. That's Arlo. It's nothing Ambrose has done, it's merely the cockrel's personality. He steps between Ambrose and the source of that sound, even as he's telling Ambrose they gotta leave.

It sounds like a large rat burrowing between the wallboards now. Ambrose, having pulled up short reflexively to avoid being touched even as Arlo is most respectful, now stands stock-still, eyes gone wide in the direction indicated by the lookout. It's hard to tell where the sound is coming from, but it increases in volume until wood splinters; the Jackal flinches in place and takes a step back, one revolver now in his hand. The safety clicks off.

"It's between us and the gate," he whispers loudly at Arlo now. And bloody hell — the sound has stopped. From between the tombstones slinks something low to the ground, on all fours, looking a lot like someone on all fours. Gee, awfully human-like. Okay, way too human-like!!! It stops in the middle of the path and turns milky-white eyes on them, snuffling in their direction. A ghoul.

"Where's that wizard when I need him," Arlo mutters as he stares at the ghoul. He holds out his hands as though to herd Ambrose behind him. "I can try to overload it," he says, his brow furrowing with uncertainty. He can convey his senses to other people. Is this a person? Does it still sense with its brain or is it wired by dark magicks now?

What the hell, he gives it a shot. He triggers synesthesia in himself, then tries to convey it to the ghoul. Him? He's used to seeing sounds and hearing colors. To the unsuspecting, it can be really disorienting. "Can you jump the fence?" he asks Ambrose.

"I could clear a fifty year-old tree right now and not brush ass to leaves," the Jackal whispers back in a rather high pitch. He's still got the revolver and he dares to take a slow step backwards, his boot slightly crunching on the compacted dirt path. The ghoul lifts its head, but then, as if reaching a point critical, it flinches and clutches at its face. Black talons recurve long enough to reach about its own skull as it wails between its palms, bearing ivory human teeth with rotted flesh still stuck within crevices. Like as not, the sound of its own wretched cry redoubles upon its own mind and now it's collapsed in the middle of the path, writhing at the inability to process it all. Ambrose has to raise his own voice over the din and it breaks a few times, but he powers onwards. "Can you clear the fencing?! I'm not about to leave you here!" What's this? A revelation as to bonding to the young man?

Arlo glances toward the fence, then nods. "Yeah, I can climb over it, go! Keep talking! You're blinding it!" It's doing a good job blinding itself, too. Arlo squints at the ghoul's wailing. It looks like jagged white waves against a black background, and he can taste rust in his mouth. To think this is what people used to pay him money to induce while they were high.

He takes a step back, and he gestures for Ambrose to go. The visual of the gesture sends chimes skirling through his ears. It's a cacaphony of color and sound in his mind. "Go ahead, I'll follow you. We got about ten minutes."

"Ten minutes until what? Your powers wear off? Bloody excellent!" Forced enthusiasm, always funny as hell in hindsight. Ambrose continues backing away from the ghoul and its temper tentrum, back towards the fencing. A stumble on his part, where he nearly trips over an inlaid tombstone low to the ground, but eventually, he can feel the vertical press of iron bars against his back. "Right — I'm at the fenceline, Avery, now come along!" He holsters the revolver and waits, sweaty at his temples from preventing himself from frankly turning tail and leaving everyone here in the literal dust.

|ROLL| Arlo +rolls 1d20 for: 9

Arlo says, "Yeah, you're welcome," Arlo shoots back. He turns and runs for the fenceline while the ghoul continues to torture itself with its own screams. This is nightmare fuel for months, man. Years! He won't be sleeping well any time soon. "Go, go, go!" he fusses, and he proves himself a nimble climber who wastes no time scrambling up and over the fence. Once he's on the other side, he waits. Not going to leave Ambrose behind.

Ambrose isn't but a second behind him — and a good thing too because somehow, with senses beyond that of partial-humanity, the ghoul still finds the wherewithal to get to a shambling stance on all four. It rushes after the men and about as soon as both have hit the concrete on the far side, it slams into the wrought-iron bars with a hefty THUD. Metal rings and the thing collapses back onto the graveyard's taller grass along the perimeter, clutching at its skull because impact damage feels three times as good when one's already got a veritable migraine!

Laughing aloud in sheer nerves, the Jackal looks over at Arlo and then reaches out. He slaps a firm pat-pat on the young man's shoulder; no sensation of pins-and-needles touches Arlo, but he isn't privy to further friendly touch. "I knew you'd be a good investment," the man says, accompanied by a bright grin. The ghoul makes a keening sound and crawls away back into the graveyard's shadows to suffer for the mistake of thinking these two were dinner!

Arlo cringes as the ghoul slams into the fence, and he's not proud, he cries out like a frightened child. Augh! "Holy shit that thing's fast!" he says, his voice breaking. He stumbles back. He watches it slink off, wide-eyed. Nothing about that damn thing is right, man. Nothing.

He loosens up a little at the patting, and he even musters a half-smile. "Yeah, I got my uses. Learned early that synesthesia can mess you up when you're not expecting it." Since he's used to people looking at him blankly when he says that word, he explains, "It's where you can see sounds and taste colors and stuff like that. Your wires get crossed in your brain."

The mask of polite perplexion relaxes after the explanation. "Ah, right, I've heard of this occurring before. It must be a very difficult state to be in sometimes, given the environment." Ambrose dares to walk closer to the wrought-iron bars in order to squint beyond them. Nothing moves further in the graveyard; the only sound is something whuffling around again, interspersed by soft whimpers of pain. Yep, a good job well done on subduing that ghoul. "I could be mis-remembering, but sunlight should kill it unless it finds shelter before dawn. We'll not have to deal with it further if it remains confused." He turns and walks past Arlo, giving the young man a small smile. "I believe this requires a drink. Something stiffer than stout. We've just brushed cuffs with death, after all."

Arlo turns and falls into step with Ambrose. "I can turn it on and off like a switch," Arlo says. "I'm glad I can turn it off. It'd get overwhelming if I had to do it all the time." He glances back over his shoulder, and he smiles crookedly. He's got a rather captivating smile, careless as it is. He's probably broken hearts with it more than once. Turning to look ahead once more, he says, "Hell yeah, something stronger than stout. I've never actually seen anything like that before. I stayed away from the Hellmouth."

"We both did." Ambrose doesn't appear shy to admit this, at least. He walks along at a brisk pace, wanting to put as much distance between himself and that graveyard as he can manage. "Once I heard tell of the dark creatures released from it, I took an extended vacation to the northern reaches of the city. There were still abodes there with antiques misplaced and ripe for the plucking." A smirk on his part and then a sigh that glows under the streetlamp's cone of passing light. "If you've got the stomach for vodka, perhaps that. I wish to do my best to forget what I just saw." He lifts shoulders briefly in another shudder. "Your condition does sound like what I experienced one time when drinking absinthe," comes the footnote, as if he just remembered it.

"I never tried absinthe," Arlo says. "I wonder what it would be like while you had synesthesia. Maybe it would make everything look normal." He grins at the thought. He too keeps a swift pace. The more distance between them and that thing, the better.

"So tell me, if you have all the money for these antiques, why don't you just buy them?" he says. "Not that I'm complaining. I'd much rather be putting that money toward my future. Or is it that you need the specific antique and it's not always for sale." He holds up a hand, adding quickly, "You don't have to tell me anything. I don't need to know."

"Eh, no…a valid question for one so young." Ambrose sports a small frown of thought for a dozen steps or so before he explains, "It like as not boils down to two major things - perhaps three, but that is mincing philosophies and I'd rather drink than do this. Old habits, firstly. I was not rich when my task began. Theft was the only way for a number of years to acquire the items. One does not fail at theft and continue on." A look askance at Arlo and small nod, as if implying the young man knows this well. "I needed to be not only accomplished, but better than the evolution of society around me. Money cannot get you everything." This said wryly. "The other reason? Boredom. Exchanging coinage or bills is all well and good, but…beating out another man's attempt to vouchsafe what he should not have?" A grin, crooked as the day is long. "Addicting." They're on the approach to the Kingmaker now, after slipping across the deserted street. "No purer drug than that of success in the face of adversity."

Arlo grins, another one of those captivating smiles. "I get it," he says. "It's why I sometimes sneak home from being out, not because there's anyone after me, but because it becomes a game. In a city full of people, how do you use their own presence against them? Then, if I ever do need to beat feet, it's second nature."

He only casts a few glances behind them as they go along. The further from the graveyard they go, the more relaxed he is. "I'd tell my wizard friend about that thing if I knew how to get hold of him. And if he was my friend. I bet he could magick it away."

"A wizard friend? Puh." A clatter of boots and they descend into the pub proper. Of course the bouncer knows who they are; Arlo barely gets a side-glance these days. Ambrose's voice drops to something low and cold. "They're nothing but backstabbing meddlers…full of their own pride and plannings, happy to use you as a tool and discard you once you're no longer useful. You mind yourself, Avery. I don't want to find you as something beyond your usual self." His usual spot is claimed, considering it's perpetually empty (and no one wants to fight him for it) and he waits until Arlo is seated to order.

"Three rounds of vodka, top shelf, I trust your judgment." The bartender nods and disappears down the way to the shelvings of row upon rows of colored bottles. "I don't trust wizards," he's sure to add, though it might have been obvious from his earlier venomous commentary.

"That sounds about right," Arlo says. "But I don't think this guy's got any designs on me. I'm, what do you call it, below the radar. We just crossed paths a couple times." He hops onto what is becoming his usual spot by virtue of always being with Ambrose. He flashes the bartender a smile, then looks around the place. He's becoming quite fond of this pub, though he only comes to it when he's with the Brit. "You're probably wise not to," he says, "but you gotta admit, he'd make quick work of that whatever-we-saw."

"If he's more than the average hedge-witch, perhaps. If you seen him again, by all means, pass on word. Weird bastard will be making my job easier by loads." The vodkas arrive, three glasses a-piece before each gentleman, and Ambrose picks up the first shotglass. "To your curious issue of crossed wiring," says he before throwing back the liquor. Crisp, clean, smooth with a kick when it hits the stomach. A soft hiss and then another sigh. "…you wouldn't know if he has any antiques I might be interested in?" The Jackal, now intrigued by his own idea, gives Arlo an expectant look even as he holds the second full glass, not yet thrown back.

"He flies without a broom," Arlo observes, though he's not entirely certain what nuance this will convey as to the wizard situation. "If it comes up, I'll tell him. Someone's going to get eaten." He watches Ambrose knock back the vodka, and he mimics the man (because he's such a role model). Then he coughs a little and presses the back of his hand to his lips. "Nice," he rasps when that stomach kick hits.

He thinks about Ambrose's question. "I don't know for sure," he admits, "but I'd be surprised if he didn't have a house full of stuff. He seems the type to have stuff. I wouldn't mess with him, though. He's got a nightmare horse. It's all fiery-eyed and vicious."

A wrinkle of his nose at the ownership of the fiery-eyed nightmare horse. Ambrose throws back his second shot on an empty stomach and sets down the glass, blowing a sigh. "Hmm. That could prove difficult…but as you said…the wizard types do seem to collect the rarer antiques as they live their lives. I believe we'll need to pay your wizard friend a visit and see what his abode has to offer us…" He takes up the final glass and clinks it to Arlo's own glass. "Cheers. To success." At everything, apparently, including downing some pretty potent vodka in a short amount of time. Best role model ever!

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