The curious case of Arturo Nihm, pt 2
#1
Before they went and did all of this, the investigation started somewhere reasonable: a library. 

They sat opposite each other with piles upon piles of books about the Mohawk people and the Aztecs and the occasional book about colonialism and the effects of European exploration on the native peoples. This was, by far, probably the most peaceful and arguably normal thing these two have ever done. 

Will and Margot sat, for hours, reading. 

And not talking. 

Thank god they found something that William wouldn't talk through.

It would have probably gone better than it had, all truth told, but one of them had already been reeling from another right of research and being up to her very petite elbows in dead bodies and murder. Margot lived a life full of adventure (whether she wanted it or not) and that that adventurous life happened to be full of things that played to her sharp intelligence and diligence. Unfortunately for Margot, it meant that her brain power was not exactly devoted to breaking and entering. 


margot @ 6:29PM
[intelligence (keen-edged mind) + research]
Roll: 5 d10 TN6 (1, 2, 2, 4, 7) ( success x 1 )
the devil @ 6:30PM
Int+research: William totally knows about the Mohawk and Aztecs!
Roll: 5 d10 TN6 (1, 2, 6, 7, 9) ( success x 3 )


---

So, they finally got to the location that they were supposed to go to. William rented a car, seeing as how he thought it would be best to drive a vehicle that wasn't registered to either of them. Plus, he had a motorcycle. They needed to look decent, and it was hot. It's always hot, but he didn't want to deal with being sweaty and disgusting when they had to be presentable for an old guy who may or may not be some kind of terrifyingly powerful archmage or whatever. 

William stood at the edge of the property, staring off to the pretty-yet-bland landscaping holding a cigarette that he didn't so much smoke as he did inhale to keep it burning. Seemed more interested in the smoke than anything. Maybe he was thinking, maybe there was a lot of stuff going on but there was the kind of intense focus that came only when working magick. 


the devil @ 6:33PM
[Spirit 1: Because looking at the umbra is fun? Diff 4]
Roll: 2 d10 TN4 (2, 3) ( fail )


"... I got nothin'."

Apparently, all that focus meant that he was going to have to go in to the situation blind. Puts the cigarette butt out and tucked away into a soda can in the front cupholder. He lookced back at Margot who, for her part, raised a brow and gestured out in the sort of may I? gesture. 

She went ahead, got on to working her own magick.

margot @ 6:35PM
[Spirit 1: Move over, let me give this a shot]
Roll: 4 d10 TN6 (1, 6, 8, 8) ( success x 3 )
margot @ 6:35PM
[MAYBE WITH THE RIGHT DICE]
Roll: 2 d10 TN4 (7, 10) ( success x 2 ) 
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#2
The pair would have to travel by car to reach the estate and even then, it would not be something comfortably 'stealthy' in effort:

A winding road at the base of a hill, fortified with evergreens, one had the thought that traveling the road would take them well out of Denver's reasonable comfort zones. True to form, as the rental car makes it's way up the road, the trees obscure Denver with ever thicker layers of greenery and heat, until all sight of the beyond city in the distance is lost in favour of the path ahead. Round and round they go, passing several city signs indicating utilities and/or forest watch stations before reaching a posted sign half-way up indicating

You are now entering private property. Consider this your only warning..

The road continues to turn several times before flattening out at the top of the hill, the view promising a rather spectacular sunset, should they find themselves still in the area, come nightfall.

The estate itself is not so much sweeping, as it is, modest: A simple gate, left open and locked to a post, sweeps into a curving path that leads up to the front of a house. One level only, with no upstairs, it looks like the architectural equivalent of a puzzle box: thick walls, with a flat roof, much of which is covered in green grass (ecological leanings) while the windows are a frosted, thickly paneled display that punctuate each wall neatly every few feet. A large central building, with at least two wings separated to either side of the squat structure, by a pair of thin hallways, each boasting clear windows that reveal a low lit interior of wood panels and overhead chandeliers of contemporary design.

Outside, the grounds seem surrounded by a prolific amount of gardening, from patches of wonderfully colourful tulips and daffodils, to the lush spread of a meadow of perfectly trimmed and caretaken grass, sweeping out to the left of the estate to encompass a small park, with a gazebo on the hill for a landmark.

There is a round-about loop, for cars to travel, in front of the arched entrance, which overhands part of the loop to keep rain off any visitors that might come calling which...judging by the remoteness and the somewhat Spartan outlook of the place, are few and far between.

At the front gate, a simple metal post painted in yellow, operating on a swing hinge, left open, another sign is posted:

Nihm Residence. Visitors will be fed to the Pigs, without one of the following: Rationale, Reason, Clearance or Entertainment.
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#3
Let it be said that he is one who does stupid things in the name of thrill. He does them less often now, and even less often when he has someone who is with him that might potentially lose a limb in the process. William believes in informed consent: if you are hanging out with him, you have been warned that the time spent together may very well end in losing a finger or going into Quiet. It's happened before. 

But there they are on the grounds, he has his hands comfortable and he's wearing a messenger bag filled with heaven-knew-what (books, mostly. And string and water and gold and pens and poetry written through his head- you have to be prepared, you see). He's dressed nicely- slacks, shirt, vest, pocket watch. The watch, you see, was non-negotiable. 

He stares at the sign for a moment- just moment enough that the blond man's stomach turns and his sense of reason (small though it may be) is saying nope nope nope nope.

"... how do you think he gets girl scout cookies?"

Said like this was an absolutely serious, absolutely heart-wrenching question. With that, though, he goes ahead and knocks on the door.
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#4
If this could be called a date, then Margot would call it one of the best she's ever gone on.  There was no talking, barely any looking at each other, and the entire day was filled with books.  She probably would have appreciated it more if she hadn't been struggling to keep her eyes open and the words from blurring together.  Her mind was still cluttered with fresh discoveries of a more recent murder in a trend that she and other local Mages had been looking into, and she'd stayed awake well into the night reading and pondering and worrying.  She had to read several sentences over again to retain them, and at the end of the day when they were packing up their bags and leaving the library she felt as though she was about to fail a test that she only attended half the class for.

The next day when they met up it was for Margot to climb into the passenger seat of a rental car that William was behind the wheel of.  She didn't want her car and its license plates on the property, and they couldn't take his motorcycle because reasons.

When they arrived to stand on the edge of the property both appeared nicely dressed, Margot in a nice blouse and mid-knee gray skirt with a light cardigan overtop to tie things together, to help her appear more studious (even how she'd pinned her hair back was studious looking, she was practiced in appearing bookwormish).  She had a small purse held at her hip with a thin strap across her chest, and was standing quietly with her eyes cast ahead toward the property without really surveying it.  Will was trying that, through the smoke of his cigarette.  She was just left to worry, as per usual.

When he stated that he had nothing Margot glanced up at him, then murmured "Hold on," along with a vague gesture of one hand, and dipped a hand into the purse.  After some rummaging it emerged again, now with fingers wrapped about a small vial of bright blue glass.  The cork stopper was removed with her teeth, and she closed her eyes and focused in.  Searched and more easily now than before found the well of ability she needed and exhaled.  Standing outside the gate, Margot tipped her head backward with her eyes closed and, thumb over the mouth of the vial, sprinkled what appeared to be little more than water across her forehead and eyes.  A baptism.  A blessing.

When she opened her eyes again they were sharper, somehow brighter even though the color and shape of them hadn't actually changed in any describable way.  She blinked once and looked over the land and building in front of them.  Tracked a few things that William couldn't see along with her, and settled her gaze warily in one spot for a few stagnant moments in particular.  After a good two minutes she blinked to clear her gaze, reached into her purse once again and came back with a tissue to dry her face and dab her eyes to clean make up as well as she could.

"Rationale.  Entrepreneurship in young women is very important.  Plus cookies."  She cleared her throat and explained what she'd seen as they made their way from gate to front door.  "It was beautiful on the other side.  Very spiritually enriched.  But the place is fortified and protected by some big scary something that I couldn't get a good look of.  Either he himself or some friend of his has done a lot of work here."

At the door she fussed to make sure her clothes were straight and her hair was smooth and when William knocked she held her hands together on the purse strap and smiled like a nervous but eager freshman.  Understandably, the expression was an easy one for her.
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#5
The pair of youths are treated to the sound of William's knocking, driving a soft echo through to the other side. Soft, because when William knocks on the double doors, with their ornate bronze handles of no particular significance or symbolic description, he is received with a solidity that suggests bomb-proofing and a vague ache in those knuckles.

Luckily enough, there is a well concealed buzzer to one side, the soft round button, friendly and inviting for the young man with archaic tendencies of announcement.

The doorbell chimes and with it comes the sudden rolling thrum of a bell toll. Ominous, powerful and all encompassing, it travels through the estate house with a bloom of announcement that might suggest royalty has come calling or...someone destined for the gallows. No doubt, this is just another bit of intimidation meant to scare off any religious acolytes terribly determined enough to have made it this far. You'd think there were some angels in black wings behind that door, waiting to chop down the poor individuals come looking to spread the truth.

Instead, there is a brief period of silence, with the toning echoes of that bell sound, steadily humming under their feet and inside of their heads. Then, the sound of clipping heels on well pressed shoes, steadily approaching on the other side of the door.

Followed smoothly and carefully with a guarded sigh and the deep metallic thunder of several tumblers attached to several thick locks, thudding and thrumming and clambering reluctantly into niches, before the door on the left swings open with slow, ponderous, even agonizing difficulty. It reveals a bit of the interior, swinging wide enough for a foot and a half of space, showing stark white walls decorated in vague and abstract paintings, corners of spartan molding and the slick, clean marble of white flooring, shot through with veins of silver.

The man who answers the door has a slightly drooping face, though not enough of one to suggest his skin is sagging. More than he is long in it, facial hair a pinched and well groomed goatee below the lower lip and dusting a line around his mouth. His spectacles are gold, with delicate looking lenses and the eyes behind them, a quarter brighter than the deep blue sea. He wears a cravat of yellow, over a dark navy blue blazer that is quite form fitting, over a simple pair of slacks with shortened cuffs, revealing the blues, yellows and browns of argyle socks inside of tan armani shoes.

All this might suggest benevolent old man, except for the double-barreled shotgun settled over one shoulder, with all the comfort of one who is familiar with how to use it.

He eyeballs the pair infront of him, jaw skewed to one side, hair a mop of slicked back salt and pepper, over a furrowed brow.

"Alright. So which one are you two?" There is a faint accent. British isles, perhaps but long since buried under years of North American living. If he looks bored, they're not looking close enough. Irritated, perhaps a little bemused.
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#6
William Holmes knows absolutely nothing about antique firearms. So, knowing this, it makes sense that his first reaction is to look not with concern for his well being but rather with curiosity. He knows, cognitively, that the appropriate reaction to a guy answering his door looking like he has no qualms with jovially shooting you is not to look like you are thoroughly enthralled by his shiny death toy. Sadly, it takes about two seconds for William to put away his oh, shiny! face and put on his i am totally a professional face. 

"Sir, whether you view us as reasonable or entertaining depends on how well you tolerate chatty college students," William responds. Smiles and relaxes with the kind of confidence that comes  only from being young and dumb and not yet convinced of your own mortality. He has a voice that does just a little more than hint at the fact that he's more southern than Midwestern. Hasn't been here long enough to ditch Louisiana, but certainly not from the bayou. 

"We came because we are doing research on the ritual practices of the Mohawk people and the potential for overlapping ideologies with the native tribes of Mexico and Central America. Given the amount of work you've done with museums, we figured-" he gives a bit of a gesture that seems to indicate that seeing Mr. Nihm was the logical conclusion. 

"So! We are betting on reason."
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#7
The man that answered the door had to be Arturo Nihm, Margot decided. She was fairly certain that even wealthy establishments like this didn't have butlers or servants in this day and age; maybe some old blue blood families in the east, but certainly no reclusive old man in Colorado. That shotgun on his shoulder caught her attention almost immediately, and distracted her from taking in many more details to begin with. It was when William piped up with his cheerful, professional enthusiasm that Margot blinked and pulled herself back to present.

A brief glance was cast up at the taller 'student' at her right, and she looked mildly impressed. He certainly retained a lot more than she did in their previous crash course study session.

He was going to bet on reason, and Margot thus far had held her tongue. If Mr. Nihm looked at her in any expectant way she'd just smile, the expression small and a bit nervous as it always was. Playing the part of an anxious freshman was easy when that's what you'd just spent the last year of your life being.

Given a pause at the doorway, though, given any expectation that she was to speak, Margot cleared her throat and spoke up softly.

"Have you needed that shotgun for visitors often?"
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#8
"As often as folks come looking around for something that doesn't belong to them."

If it sounded like a warning, it didn't show in the old fellow's face. He seemed thoroughly disinterested in William's explanation, regarding the youth for the duration of his exhuberance before switching to Margot and her question. The shotgun, a long barreled more serviceable to skeet shooting or duck hunting back during the early 1900s, was held by the butt and kept over one shoulder, with evidence of it being loaded difficult to surmise beyond the possibility of shell rims sticking out from behind where the barrels hinged out from the stock. The man's facial hair twitched side to side, eyes lazily traversing the pair even as he began to speak.

"I don't get a lot of visitors, least of all college students, least of all individuals in college looking to study the Mohawk and the Aztecs, two decidedly different cultures with wildly different interactions on modern society, barring the Ritual killing both performed. What classes are you taking? At which school? Who are your teachers, maybe I know them-" Arturo's free hand comes up to stroke and scrape at his facial hair, eyes roving upward slightly to try and recall some names. "-though they may have retired by now."

A pause.

"Regardless, coming to someone's front door in search of information isn't the best of approaches. You're better off finding yourselves some Teacher or Professor, which I most certainly am not. " Another pause, the eyes behind those glasses narrowing a touch further. "This a thesis? A project paper? Did someone put you up to this specifically?"
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#9
Elijah Poirot is not an anthropology major. Sure, he's taken anthropology classes. Sure, he's schmoozed his way into some of the "anthropology major only" classes, has a few friends, and has even sat in on a few lectures, but the fact of the matter is a simple one: he is not an anthropology major and, as such, does not have a strong working knowledge of the faculty or how he's going to pretend like he actually knows what is going on with the department. 

"We're both students at DU right now. Dr. Bonnie Clark has been reviewing most of our research, but she's been so busy with the museum that it's a largely independent project. My friend and I are in the same Ancient North America and Native Religions courses."

The elements of a good lie all come with things that are based largely in some form of fact. Dr. Bonnie Clark is very busy curating the museum and being a professor. William has taken all of two classes with her, one of which he ended up dropping because he saw someone get decapitated that semester and couldn't quite handle the course load. He knew enough anthropology majors to know what were middle of the road courses, to know what he could say, to give the name of someone who existed but probably would be too busy to return phone calls. 

"I'm hoping that this research project gives me an edge for graduate admissions in winter."



William @ 8:48PM
Manip+subterfuge: I know about anthropology major things
Roll: 7 d10 TN6 (6, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9) ( success x 8 ) [WP]
Penelope @ 8:49PM
Private Message to William
[The Earth is flat, you say?]
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#10
It was good that William spoke up. Margot had expected that he would-- relied upon it, really. William was charming and handsome and quick-tongued quick-witted quick-charming. This was the deal offered up to him. It only made sense that he took the lead.

She'd anticipated them crashing and burning, really. Mr. Nihm began with his slew of questions and Margot's keen mind would begin forming a good believable answer to one and then realize that he'd already asked two more on top of that. Her eyes had begun to widen, she looked a little overwhelmed, and had turned her head to defer to William quick enough that her brown hair flipped about her shoulders when she did.

William, though? He was cool as a cucumber, confident and sounded so right that even she was believing his lie. Hadn't she taken a class from Dr. Clark? The name Bonnie Clark could ring bells that way.

Refusing to tarnish such a good presentation, Margot just looked back to Mr. Nihm and nodded in enthusiastic (read: anxious) agreement. Yeah, what he said.
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