Beltane 2016 (solo)
#1
Two weeks until Beltane, 2016
 
“There is no way in the whole of creation that I am performing any sort of ritual with those bloodthirsty harpies!” Aldous punctuated his refusal with a slammed car door and peeling out of the Jasper House driveway. The other two Hermetics watched as the third made his rather dramatic exit onto the streets and out of Colorado about as quickly as they could stand.
 
Pueblo didn’t have much going for it, all things considered, save for the fact that it was backed up to one of the more impressive nodes in the Rockies- a fact that was lost neither on the Order nor anyone else who happened to be dealing with it. The chantry in Pueblo existed more as a Great Hermetic Storage Unit- obscene amounts of useful-but-not-useful-enough stuff packed into a tiny, tiny space. No, this place existed for a singular reason: Magister Scholae Ephraim Columba Ezra Schuler Yonath bani Bonisagus didn’t want to move. He had everything where he liked it, and if the Order tried to do anything that would encourage him to move they would soon find themselves reminded that Magister Yonath didn’t tell them where all of his things were and gods forbid some of his god-forbidden playthings become lost to the ages or end up in the wrong hands.
 
But, that was neither here nor there.  It merely set the stage for the rather awkward series of phone calls that was to come. Two well-dressed men stood on the front porch of the chantry- one tall with a red beard and the other short with an unfortunate moustache.
 
“Octavian, that…”the red-beareded man sighed, “that was the last person.”
“Come ooooon Jules, he couldn’t be the last person on the list.”
“I’m afraid so. Aldous Upton was the last respectable ritualist in a two-hundred-mile radius who actually owed us any kind of actual favor we could call in.”
 
Both men sighed, and the unfortunately moustached man- Octavian- went to a cabinet and retrieved some decanter filled with a pearlescent liquid and two glasses. Both were poured over ice, and then went to their respective owners. With the threat of having to impress someone thrown to the wind, both plopped down all undignified and comfortable-like. Shoes were soon to be discarded; sorrows were to be drowned in whatever kind of spirit-brewed swill they were about to imbibe.
 
“You realize this means we’re going to have to actually ask someone who doesn’t owe us, right?”
“Uggggghhhhhhh don’t remind me,” Julian the Red-Beared groaned, “why won’t Yonath do it again?”
“Erectile dysfunction,” Octavian snickered, “master of any number of things and the old man won’t pony up for the blue pill.”
“Actually-“
 
It was a voice that made both men pause from the snickering they were so looking forward to doing. Magister Yonath’s presence was abrupt, a light thrown on in a room. Brilliant lights, dazzling colors, the aftermath of fireworks shown to untouched tribes and the echoes of their explosion. He wasn’t a particularly tall man, or an imposing one. His hair was gray and he had a penchant for comfortable sweaters; today happened to be sporting something with uneven sleeves and uneven red stripes.
 
Ephraim plucked the glasses from both of their hands. The slack-jawed disciples said nothing as he downed one cup and cleared his throat, “state law prohibits having sex with people who are possibly your great grand children. Goddess-ridden or not.”
 
He tipped a glass to the two men, who still seemed as though they couldn’t come up with words or anything that would dig them out of the hole they just jumped headfirst into.
 
“Either one of you is going to have to appease the Goddess or you will be the ones who have to explain to the Order why the Verbena won’t share the rather massive node that is sitting in our proverbial back yard. They’re already very upset with us because of my lack of presence and it is up to you to make this perfect. While you are recategorizing and cleaning storage in the eastern wing you should have plenty of time to come up with a plan of action. I expect a concrete plan by tomorrow morning and its implementation by the day after.”
“But-that- the eastern wing is-“ Octavian stammered.
“Well, how fortunate for you that time moves at whatever pace you please for it to,” Ephraim Yonath smiled and pounded the second drink he had in his hands. Empty glasses were forked over to the disciples and he sauntered along his way, “I have other people’s days to ruin, gentlemen. Who needs a little blue pill when your flabbergasted misery can warm my… heart? So thoroughly.”
 
He waved and was off on his way.
 
The two unfortunate Hermetics headed along off to their next task and determine who was going to take the fall when Pueblo’s Verbena were, as they often were, utterly unsatisfied.
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#2
“Jules, gimme your phone,” Octavian said. The two were detailing what looked to be a third century statue with tooth brushes (because it’s the symbolism that matters, Magister Yonath had been specific) while still trying to determine what precisely their plans were. Luckily for them, they could have all the time in the world they wanted if they were willing to make it tick by slowly enough and eat the backlash for it if they messed up.
 
Julian the Red looked at Octavian the Moustached, frowning.
 
“Why?”
“Because,” the portly man started, “I’m looking for someone.”
“That is a dangerous statement.”
“Fork it over, it’s either that or we ask for Yonath’s address book and I’m pretty sure he’ll  murder us if we messed with his Christmas card list.”
 
Julian groaned and dug through his vest pockets- much more spacious than the small vest really should have boasted- and handed over a sleek smartphone.
 
“Four two-“
“I know your password already, Jules,” Octavian interrupted.
“Why do you know my password?”
“Shhhhhh, they didn’t completely eradicate House Janissary. I’m a diabolic Technocratic spy.”
 
Hermetic humor. It makes both men laugh, if only because you have to laugh at it and they were too young to actually remember the house and when they were a problem and when it was that the Order outsourced some of their own internal policing. The two men weren’t historians of the grand and glorious Hermetic Order; they were two guys who had two weeks to come up with either a sacrificial lamb or a scape goat.
 
“Seriously, man, who are you looking for,” Julian reached for his phone, “you’re not a Jerbiton, quit meddling in my shit.”
“That’s what I’m looking for,” Octavian replied.
“Good luck finding one of those, the House Salads are all mixed in on my contact list.”
“Come on, I know you know at least one- you were up in Boston when they were initiating all their kids and you know a bunch of wannabe diplomats are going to be networking and giving out phone numbers- HA!” Octavian held the phone up and promptly shoved it back to his friend.
“Yeah, William Holmes, who is he?” Julian asked
“Henry Calliergi’s student, out in Denver? Apparently he still lives around here.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know, but he’s a nobody- it’ll be perfect,” Octavian didn’t bother to breathe before continuing, “he’d be all over the opportunity to prove himself, right? Probably enough so that he wouldn’t ask for anything in return.”
“So… we wouldn’t owe him a favor.”
“And, if memory serves correctly, he is… I don’t know… unconventional?” Octavian shrugged.
“Bottom of the barrel,” Julian’s voice was flat.
Zero love for House Salads, man. No love at all. Given that it is your phone, you get to be the one who calls him.”
“I hate you, Octavian.”
“Think of it this way, so long as he says yes either way we are in the clear. Magister Yonath can’t say we didn’t do our part.”
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