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Unlikely Allies

 
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Cornelius Wraithburn
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 7:47 pm    Post subject: Unlikely Allies Reply with quote

Part I

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
~Arabian Proverb~


It took four months for Wraithburn to track down suitable prospects for his upcoming venture. Although Mister Howe has a sizable collection of enemies in Rhy’Din, few have the resources or potential to meet Wraithburn’s needs. Of those few all of them are well-known for their moral integrity. This presented more challenges than anticipated. In a place like Rhy’Din Wraithburn’s best options were apparently the do-gooders. It is hard to seek allies in a war that will require underhanded maneuverings when all of your options infer distaste for such tactics. In this case, need outweighs preference and he will take what he can get.

He was able to narrow his list down to the Baron of Saint Aldwin, Alain DeMuer, Belial, Leader of the Blood House Onyx, and the Barrister, Lucien Mallorek.

After several more months of digging, Wraithburn began to unearth some skeletons. Perhaps the altruistic illusion they cast isn’t all that defines them? They may have done an excellent job of covering their pasts, (and in some cases their unsavory presents) up but everyone has a skeleton or two buried in their closet. All one needs is persistence in order to find them. Money doesn’t hurt either. Wraithburn can be very persistent when it comes to getting what he wants and he’s accumulated quite the wealth over his many years of existence.

If one is going to live in this object-oriented reality one might as well enjoy every luxury and comfort.

Each of his chosen options has met Wraithburn’s criteria. Whether they would approve of his demands and tactics remains to be seen. If he plays his cards right none of them will suspect anything is amiss until it is too late and Howe is facing his comeuppance. No one gets away with threatening Wraithburn without severe consequences. If there are a few casualties along the way, Wraithburn views it as collateral damage. Well? That is if he bothers to contemplate it at all.

Wraithburn himself is an enigma, few know anything about him and none of them reside in Rhy’Din. Sure, he’s had dealings in the city in the past. As a collector of fine things, (relics, more specifically relics of great power), his path has led him here on and off for several decades now. He’s made some fine acquisitions’ and some awe-inspiring deals. In fact, the reason he is in Rhy’Din now is to make one such deal. However his client seems to have vanished. Wraithburn hears that happens a lot in this strange, unusual realm. He’s been assured they will return soon. However ‘soon’ is relative to one’s perception.

Instead of the anticipated awe-inspiring deal he ran into Howe. A demonic dirtbag that desperately needed a stern putting down as far as Wraithburn is concerned. Heck, the scum was practically begging for it! The demon made outrageous demands. Wanting Wraithburn to hunt down a list of some of the most powerful objects known to actually exist. Howe claimed they were for some God he’d up and allied himself with. In other similar situations Wraithburn might have been curious. He might have even requested a meeting with said God. Get in a few good sales pitches and maybe line his pockets while earning a potential tool. It has always been Wraithburn’s modus operandi.

If only Howe hadn’t been such an annoying demonic pig.

But he was.

Howe had a lesson coming and Wraithburn is only too happy to teach it.

Steel grey eyes look over the house where it was rumored the Baron lived in New Haven. It didn’t look as if too much effort had been put into the defenses of the place. Wraithburn knew such things were deceiving, particularly in a realm where magic mingled with high tech runs rampant. He moved cautiously up the walkway to the front door. There he withdrew a wax-sealed envelope and placed it on the front door step. It was marked for the Baron’s eyes only.

Wraithburn wrote:
“Baron DeMuer,

My name is Wraithburn. I am a broker of powerful objects. Something that I believe would be of some value to you, in particular, has fallen into my hands recently. I cordially request a meeting with you to discuss the details. Meet with me at Teas’n Tomes Wednesday afternoon around 5p.m. by the Northern Clock. The objects I have in mind may help rid you of a certain pestilence plaguing Rhy’Din. Please come alone.

Cordially,
Cornelius Wraithburn”


Without further ado he spun on his heels and strode away confidently. If Wraithburn has successfully profiled the Baron the man is most likely to meet with him if for no other reason than his curious and investigative nature.
_________________
Cornelius Wraithburn
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

~William Shakespeare~ “Hamlet”
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Alain DeMuer
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alain has not gone to any meetings alone, not truly, in over a month. Each time he has been accompanied by one or more of his knights, or shadowed by his agents. Someone on a rooftop, lurking in a corner or hiding in plain sight, watching his every move and listening to his every word... except for tonight. He is actually completely alone at his table in the café, neglecting his iced coffee and working on today's crossword.

Wraithburn steps inside Teas'n Tomes, taking a moment to acclimate. He hasn't had the pleasure of visiting the place before and is earnest in his initial inspection. Apparently he decides the location will do as he moves toward the counter and the friendly girl behind it. He nods politely to the lady.

"A cup of the strongest coffee you have please?" His voice is low in timbre and heavy with confidence. He turns away from the counter while the girl fetches his coffee to look at the man doing a crossword. It is a leisurely inspection that ends with a frown settling upon the aging brow. Something about the man has left Wraithburn ill at ease.

He is merely a man, by all appearances. His blood is warm, his flesh is vulnerable, and his face has begun to show the subtle lines of early aging - the minute wrinkles are not frozen in time, the kind sometimes inherited by unlucky immortals, but natural things, progressing with every frown and worry that crosses his features. But there is something else, as is so often the case in this town... He continues working on the puzzle, leaving Wraithburn to his own.

'Enemy of my enemy' comes to mind before he turns to claim his coffee. "That will be two silver, m'lord," the girl smiles as she pushes the cup over the counter towards Wraithburn.

He places the coin to the counter and takes up his cup offering the girl a pleasant enough smile. The frown is quick to return nonetheless as his attention once more shifts to Alain. Yes, he's the one Wraithburn has come seeking but suspicion clouds his expression as he moves over to join the young Baron.

"Good evening, Baron?" A polite incline of his silvering-haired head accompanies a somewhat hesitant smile. "Name's Wraithburn. I believe I have something that might interest you?" He waits for the man to invite him before taking a seat on his table.

Alain folds the newspaper and looks up, a faint smile crossing his lips while his eyes frown over Cornelius Wraithburn. "Pleased to meet you, Wraithburn. Alain's fine, or Al," he adds more out of habit than anything as he gestures to the seat across from him. "Let's talk business." He sets the pencil down on the paper and folds his hands on the edge of the table. One finger uncurls to hook the handle of his mug, an idle fidget while he listens.

Wraithburn takes the offered chair, studying the young man before him curiously, but with the same sense of hesitation as his smile had held. He sets his cup to the table, leans back and crosses his legs. His arms are loose and relaxed, his hands resting near his cup. Grey eyes meet the bright blue gaze of the Baron's.


"I do hate to put you on the spot, my Lord Baron." Yes, he refuses to refer to the man in a less formal way. "But if you could enlighten me to the celestial aura surrounding you? I warn you if this is some kind of trick or trap, I have many of the same up my sleeves." His smile is hard, cold, cynical.

Alain considers this, his smile all the more still and thoughtful for a long moment. "You're very direct," he says, playing for a little more time while he thinks. He does plan on answering, but appears to have some trouble deciding just where to begin.

And just what to tell the stranger across the table from him.

Wraithburn nods to the comment of his directness. "I have learned to be so with... celestials in particular, Baron. We have a long history and it isn't a good one. Although I do have friends that lay claim to such heritage, will you be among them?"

"My best friend's a cambion," Alain replies, his smile flickering towards something more genuine as, for a moment, he matches Cornelius for directness. "And my chief business partner is green. I can only speak for myself... but no 'aura' of this has ever kept me from any man or woman's friendship." He does not, however, confirm that he is knowingly in possession of such an aura.

"As you prize directness, then I shall offer the same. I have a dislike of one Mister Howe. I have heard..." Wraithburn pauses for bare seconds before continuing. "...perhaps you may dislike him as much as I. I have within my possession a tool that could be useful in his destruction. Are you perchance interested in such a weapon?" A brow lifts inquiringly.

"If this is some kind of trick or trap..." Alain echoes Wraithburn's earlier words. He searches his face for the answers, and asks, "What'd he do to you?"

Wraithburn chuckles as he lifts his cup and takes a sip. Setting it back to the table the man shrugs. "Why, nothing really. It is his attitude that I abhor and he would destroy me if he could. I prefer to be proactive with these types of things." Wraithburn uncrosses his legs and leans forward. "As I mentioned earlier, me and most celestials do not get along."

"Either you are interested or you aren't." Again he gives a nonchalant shrug. "I am a firm believer in the enemy of mine enemy is my friend philosophy and when I asked around, your name came up. Top of the list, I might add. Seems you and the infamous Mister Howe have a history."

Alain can't help but marvel at the fact that Cornelius' reasoning is exactly how he wound up involved in this business three years ago. The man's follow-up takes the words right out of his mouth. There's little more to be said. "Tell me about the weapon, and I'll tell you what I think."

Periodically he's cupping the chilly edge of his mug in the palm of his right hand. Drawing it away, then pressing it again. Every so often, a finger twitches subtly.

Wraithburn nods as he reaches inside his coat jacket and extracts what appears to be a picture. He sets this on the table before Alain, pushing it over towards him with two fingertips. The picture is of a pentagram that has been woven into some kind of dark material with what looks like a railroad spike sitting in the center. The spike isn't embedded or anything, it simply lays sideways at the heart of the pentagram. There is however something off about the pentagram, something that may cause Alain's rider a little trepidation and some serious discomfort.

"Back in the olden days, when the celestials got it into their heads that the primordials must be destroyed, we fashioned a few tools so to speak to defend and protect ourselves. Unfortunately, Howe isn't likely to let me get close enough to use this trinket. He would sense me long before I could reach him. You on the other hand..." Wraithburn lets his words trail to silence as he eyes the Baron. The implication is clear; Howe wants Alain and therefore Alain can get close enough to use it.

"We didn't take kindly to their little declaration of war." Wraithburn doesn't add 'the bratling upstarts' to his comment, but he does smile as he dwells upon the insult.

Alain's a Johnny-come-lately to this whole conflict, and doesn't appear to have a lot of opinions. Not about primordials, angels, demons... none he seems ready to share, anyway. "How does it work."

Alain's mundane human senses might tell him this could be nothing more than a piece of felt with a rusty nail on it, but there's no denying that Kael is rapidly retreating into the furthest corner of his mind, when he'd been so intrigued by Wraithburn only moments before. He slides his hand around his mug, lifts it for a slow sip while Cornelius explains.

"It's very easy." Wraithburn's smile widens as he sees what Alain tries to hide; the man is interested. "The pentagram as you can see looks very similar to the symbols the celestials enjoy using, but there is a hidden script woven into the fabric that aides in binding the energy based creatures. The spike is pure iron forged in the lakes of lava over twelve thousand years ago by one of my kind. It will trap any celestial in their physical form. They can't flee, they can't teleport; they are much easier to slaughter."

Wraithburn watches Alain's face very closely, looking for the minuscule expressions that will give away his thoughts. The man across from him is talented in schooling his expression, but even the most trained slips up when it comes to the subconscious and this is what Wraithburn is watching for.

Alain's interested. That's the tell he's giving off... but there's more he wants from this, too. "However motivated he is by his rage... there's only one way to draw him into a trap."

"Do not delude yourself, Baron. Howe is a raging impulsive amoeba, driven by his desire to dominate and destroy. There are many ways to trap him but not by someone like me, I'm afraid. Besides, he and I have already declared war." Wraithburn shrugs again as he reaches over for the photo. "I have heard there are others who may be interested in seeing Howe ended." Yes, he's forcing Alain's hand.

Either the Baron is in on Wraithburn's plan or he's out and Wraithburn will shop for another more willing.

Alain calls his bluff. "If you know a better way to bring Howe down than making him think it's me he's laying a trap for, please... save me the trouble." He smiles, not kindly. "Don't worry, Wraithburn. I like your plan. I only want to be sure that it works." He takes another sip of his coffee, sets it down. "...Tell him how to beat me. How to take care of that 'aura.' I can see to the rest... and see him dead. Do we understand each other?"

"Ahh, Baron, Alain..." Wraithburn grins as he sits back away from the table, leaving the photo in place between them. "You are right, there is a catch." A pause ensues as Wraithburn's grey eyes survey the young man before him. A silent nod to his own thoughts before he continues. "We will need to find you a suitable weapon, capable of slaying the demon Howe. And for this, there lies a truer challenge, I'm afraid. The celestials have done a fine job of destroying all the steel blades we crafted. It will take time to either unearth such a blade or," after another much shorter pause, "find someone capable of making one. Not to mention, it will cost a great deal."

"I can help with the search and I can take on a substantial part of the cost. But..." Wraithburn eyes the Baron significantly. "The question is will you help cover the expense... and will the one that rides with you be kept under a tight leash? We wouldn't want it talking now would we?"

Wraithburn offers Alain a chilly smile. No, the Baron can't hide this secret from the Trickster...

Alain folds his hands, coolly assessing the Trickster across the table from him. Finally, he admits, "We can try. If there's a snowball's chance in Hell... we owe it to ourselves to give your plan a try."
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"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
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