|Sins of the Flesh Part I|
|What: The Curator of the Museum of Metropolitan Art: Cloisters and Gardens branch introduces a few curious people to the circumstances of the recent theft and murder.|
It is mid-day here at the The Cloisters branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And a beautiful day it is, the sort of day where this little four acre lot atop a hill overlooking the Hudson River would be full of activity. Yet, today, this beautiful green lot occupied by a faux medieval European abbey is suspiciously devoid of people. In fact, the only people on site today are the Musuem staff themselves and two investigators.
Standing by the main entryway to the Musuem, at the end of an ancient-looking stone path that cuts across the lawn from the parking area, are these two investigators in question and an elderly gentleman with whom they appear to be having a discussion. He's a rather important-looking gentleman, clean shaved and wearing a business suit with red silk tie. His hair is almost entirely gray, save for a few remnants of its original brown coloration. Though he carries himself well, with a strong posture and a refined air, his face easily reads of much weariness.
"We're sorry, the museum will have to remain closed for another week." One of the men wearing a shirt that reads NYPD in blue on its back side says to the elderly gentleman. "Our investigation is nearly through." And to this a man appearing to be in his early thirties, in plain-clothes, adds, "We just need a little more time, we're sorry for the inconvenience." The elderly gentleman gives a soft nod, and with that said the pair of investigators begin walking off together. This leaves that important looking gentleman standing outside the ancient wooden door of the entrance, producing a cigarette from his pocket to light before exhaling into the wind...
If she had a nickel for everytime she heard the line about curiosity killing the cat, Tigra might rival Tony Stark. Nevertheless, curiosity is what brought her here, and she approaches the museum wearing a light trench coat and broad brimmed hat to tone down her feline appearance for the moment. The elder gentleman draws her attention in particular. There's something about him that further stirs her curiosity, and so she approaches him, looking over the suit and tie, noting his apparant age and yet fit posture. "Excuse me, sir," she asks as she approaches, moving upwind when he lights a cigarette, "Mind if I ask what your interest in the museum is?"
When he saw the news, Eddie's interest was caught right away. Not for any specific reason other than the fact that the last time he followed a similar lead, he ended up finding evil wizards and the Gem of Infinite Suns. And with everything going on with Asgard's war and the evil elder god possessing his best friend, Eddie was hoping a lead to solving those problems would pop up. So he called up the curator and asked if he could have a moment of his time today. Showing up in jeans and a Thor-logo t-shirt, Eddie's got his backpack with him as always and id giving the NYPD a wide berth. When the investigators start walking away, Eddie makes his way towards the elderly gentleman to see if he can point out the curator. He slows down slightly when a woman in a trench coat gets there first, frowning a little. He can be patient.
It wasn't an official investigation, not -yet-, anyway. But that it involved Norway meant that international jurisdiction was involved. With the whiff of alchemy / magic involved, it -might- be prudent to have someone versed with metahuman activity check out the scene.
So Roy had suggested that he'd like to take a look around in the building, after showing SHIELD ID, and discussed whether this -would- mean calling in, potentially, metahuman investigation on that side.
And it was now that, after having managed to get Lian squared away with her babysitter, that Roy arrives to begin the inquiry, heading towards the curator. "Pardon me, sir," the man dressed in SHIELD regalia says, as an aside to the trenchcoated person. "Are you the curator? Roy Harper. SHIELD agent, reporting sir," the ginger redhead replies, removing his shades and tucking them away. He would show ID, of course, if requested and it was indeed the curator.
Tousaint makes his way to the museum after setting up a meeting with the Curator. Tousaint has always been a friend of museum having turned them on to some pre Civil War artifacts. Tousaint raises his wrist to about to wave to the man from across the room, when others begin to show up and block his view. Tousaint lets out a frustrated sigh and walks over to the curator, and looks down at his watch again to see maybe he got the time mixed up as others crowd around the man, Speaking from behind Tigra and Roy, "I believe we have a meeting."
Princess Amaya Amethyst of Gemworld is engaging in her new favorite pastime: hovering over whatever location she's thinking of menacing and considering the situation. She sits side-saddle on her faithful steed, a majestic winged unicorn that is actually female despite the venerable beard. It's just something unicorns have in real life.
The teen tap-taps on her new tablet, purchased with fairy gold. Oh my god, finding a place on Earth that accepted fairy gold was life changing. The goblins that sold it to her weren't even that evil. Total stereotype. Amethyst flips to the next Voynich manuscript image and then back again. "Magic magic magic magic," she sings tunelessly. The unicorn whinnies.
"Oh, shut up. Constantine is in hell being bodyslammed by Satan or whatever." She gestures down toward the museum. "This is probably some mystical weirdness going on and this book about medieval pool parties is totally magical. Look at the words!" The unicorn shakes its head and neighs. Amethyst sighs so loud that she ends with an "--AAAGGHH. The next eclipse is in October. I have time to gamble on this before Eclipso tries to, I don't know, mind control Iron Man into unibeaming my apartment from orbit."
The princess reaches into a saddlebag, withdrawing a pair of ornate opera glasses. Through them, the curator and the solicitors come into plain view. "Huh. This guy has been busy all day. These dudes don't look like cops or museum guys, though."
With a vibrant red longcoat draped over one arm and a straw trilby hat with a red and navy band over his salt and pepper hair, Stephen Strange is by all appearances just another New Yorker looking to beat the heat with a splash of culture. A navy suit with a simple white shirt and a golden brooch pinned over the pocket where most men might where a square rounds out his outfit.
He's walking the path towards the entrance as the investigators leave, and since there's already an agent of SHIELD and a--well, someone in a trenchcoat speaking with that well-dressed gentleman, he veers towards the investigators instead. "Pardon," he calls as he briskly walks towards the pair; he makes sure to put on a warm, non-threatening smile and gives them a wave, to boot. "but I don't suppose you gentlemen could give me any idea of when the museum might be open again, could you?"
If they stop - and more importantly, if either of them makes eye contact with Stephen - his voice will shift, becoming flat, toneless--hypnotic, even, as he continues, "Or share any of what's been going on in there? I've been a patron for years--I would be heartbroken if any of the staff were injured..."
"My interest..." he chuckles, softly, exhaling another cloud of smoke away from her. "...madam..." he says, and then eyes her appearance for a bit... quirking a brow at the shadyness of it. "...I am the curator of this museum, its manager. I suppose I could ask you the same thing?" A small smile is offered to Tigra, it is an intentionally placating gesture. Just in case she is, in fact, dangerous.
He then takes notice of Eddie's approach, and gives him another raised eyebrow. "...May I help you...?" ...and his eyes are drawn away again toward Roy. "...sirs?" He gives Roy an inquisitive look, momentarily, but his expression changes to more amicable one. "...Ah! Yes, yes, SHIELD. How are you, Mr. ...?" And he gives Roy a look that seems to say 'your name sir?', whilst extending a free hand to shake.
"I have a few appointments today, actually." he says to those gathered, "...some I didn't even know about apparently, some stranger than others." and then he hears Tousaint and looks down again. "...Ah! This, this is a lot to keep up with..." He drops his cigarette in a steel ash tray by the door, and produces a kerchief from his pocket and wipes his brow. "...Yes, Mr. Walters. How are you, sir? You do indeed have an appointment with me. I tried my best to consolidate and get people who were interested at the same time. Apologies for the confusion." And he eyes Stephen Strange in the backdrop, momentarily, curiously as well.
The investigators stop when beckoned, giving Strange a confused look. "...The museum will be closed for another week sir. We're finishing up an investigation." And one of the men go almost inhumanly still for a moment as they make eye contact with Strange, the man in the NYPD shirt, replying shortly afterward "...there was a murder sir, the thieves executed three male security personnel in the lower level lobby before taking the manuscript. It was an awful mess, they used the victim's blood to draw strange patterns on the floor..."
The other investigator adopts an angry look, slapping the man on the arm and jarring him to his senses. "What the hell are you doing, you know we can't leak sensitive case information." He frowns at Strange, "Please forget what you heard, come on Jonathan."
It seems Tigra's not the only one who's...curious about events here. She glances over Eddie briefly, and then frowns a little at Roy. Sir? Really? She knows she's in a trenchcoat, but she didn't think it was -that- bulky. She makes a note to talk to a certain SHIELD agent she knows about this particular alleged agent's skills of observation. A glance over her shoulder at Tousaint, and Tigra mentally adjusts the tally of 'interested people.' When the curator speaks to her, correctly identifying her gender, Tigra grins a bit at his hesitation, and then removes her hat. "I'm Tigra, of the Avengers. I'm being nosy. We do that, I'm afraid."
"Oh umm, y-yessir. I called earlier about speaking with you," Eddie chimes in once he overhears that the man is the curator. The SHIELD agent only makes him tense a little. He perks up once Tigra reveals who she is, staring her way a moment with some of that usual 'fanboy mode!'. He falls otherwise quiet, waiting to hear the curator's response.
Hey, if one wanted to conceal feline features, one would have to cover up just about everything else too. Though of course, observing the trenchcoated person from behind -would- be...
... much easier when the trenchcoat was removed. "Oh. Tigra," Roy grins. "Sorry, didn't realize." He nods at the apparent curator, shaking head. Yes, living up to the absent-minded professor stereotype, was it? "Roy Harper," the SHIELD agent repeats, before flashing a grin. "Call me Roy, if that's easier."
Glancing at the others who apparently were booked for the same time, Roy considers briefly simplifying things by meeting with the inspectors, but decides that can wait till after. Why confuse the issue even more for the swamped curator?
Eyes shifting to the museum itself, Roy looks for visible signs of forced entry, as well as anything that might indicate how they got in.
Tousaint takes a step back and says, "Oh, my, do you wish for me to come back? Tousaint looks at Tigra, Eddie, and the Shield Agent. "I do not want to get in anyone;s way, I am here for academic reasons than anything else." Tousaint calmly states as he peers around the room. "Is the museum still in danger, because if it is I would really liked to have my meeting latter."
"I really need to bring snacks along the next time I do this," Amethyst mumbles.
The princess raises her other hand, crooking a finger and tracing a pattern in the air. Instead of delicious popcorn, she conjures up the conversation happening below her. She frowns.
"It wouldn't be the first time I've worked with other heroes," Amethyst says, briefly lowering her jeweled glasses to look upward. "I mean, I'm staying with a group that is seriously called the Legion of Super-Heroes."
The glasses slowly but surely creep back up to her eyes. She can't stop it. It's just so easy to avoid all the She-Ra jokes and listen from up here. It's really not the royal thing to do, though.
Amethyst swings over the saddle, seating herself properly. She returns the magical glasses to the saddlebag. "Alright, take us down. Can you play some triumphant music or something? Because I'm literally riding a unicorn down from the clouds. There's going to be sunbeams and everything."
The unicorn neighs. Differently, this time. A world of meaning.
"Fine. Onward, you dork." She's not being unduly mean, the unicorn is seriously a dork and calls her mean names all the time.
As prophesied ten seconds ago, the clouds part to reveal a winged unicorn gliding down from on high. Its royal rider, mindful of how awesome this must look, keeps her chin high and her bearing royal. Her tiara gleams in the sun.
"Of course," Stephen assures the angry cop while smiling apologetically at the helpful one. "I wouldn't want to get you fellows in trouble--it's forgotten." His free hand comes up, and after a loud snap, he tacks on, "Like that," then slides that hand into his pocket and heads up the path, towards the crowd gathering around the curator. The smile he greeted the officers with remains in place the whole way, even - especially - when he peers into the clouds where a girl and her steed are having a contest of wills.
"Good day," he offers the group once he's close enough to settle in towards the back. He removes his hat, gives a respectful bow of his head, then turns to squint up at descending royalty, using his hat as a makeshift visor. After watching her for a little while, he returns his attention to the group, leans in a little closer and quietly suggests, "We will, I believe, want to be ready to bow."
"...Ah the Avengers." He regards Tigra, momentarily, looking not at all bothered by her inhuman appearance as he was when she was an unknown wearing shady attire. "I see. It is a pleasure, madam." He chuckles softly, then, at the bit about being nosy. "They say curiousity is a mark of intelligence. I am a firm believer."
And then he regards Eddie, "Oh, well, welcome then! It would seem I have more interested parties than I was expecting." And a look is given to Roy and Tousaint in turn, "Yes, Mr. Harper, of course. My apologies. ... And no, no, Mr. Walters. There is no imminent danger that I am aware of. I am always happy to assist with academic pursuits. I could allow you into the Museum, certainly." He looks around again briefly, smiling, "Well, all of you I suppose. I am not really supposed to but..." He casts a sidelong glance toward the approaching Strange and the departing investigators again, "...I've never been one to allow myself to be told how I should manage my business."
It's at Strange's upward glance, that the curator himself takes notice. Glancing up at the sky, shielding his eyes from the sun with a free hand, he manages an... "...Oh my. Is that... a winged horse? A unicorn? ... I ..." He seems at a loss for words for a few long moments, not really speaking until she's descended completely, "...my how... fanciful?"
"...Er, well, anyway..." he finally manages to pry his eyes from the royal woman and her horse after offering a bow of his head to her, "...If you all would like, I can take you to the Lower Level and explain the situation at hand along the way?" And, after waiting a few moments for replies, he turns and opens that old wooden door behind him and proceeds up a long, winding, stone staircase. "To begin with, we don't really know how they managed to get in. None of our security measures were tampered with or set off. What we do know, is that they appeared on the Lower Level of the museum as if from thin air and very quickly dispatched our security." After ascending the staircase, he passes an unattended wooden desk and heads toward a leftward room, "...If you'll follow me to the Late Gothic Hall..."
Tigra keeps the trenchcoat on, but with the hat off, her feline appearance is certainly obvious. Not that she was hiding it, really, just avoiding attention, to an extent. "Agent Harper," she says to Roy with a polite nod. And then they're approached by another figure, the one who had been speaking to the officers. Realizing how their group has grown, she gives a friendly shrug to Tousaint. "Don't think you're intruding anymore than any one else here." At the mention of 'bowing,' she looks upwards, following Stephen's eyeline. "Oh you're kidding me," she murmurs softly at the sight. She recovers from that sight pretty quickly, but then, consider who she's teammates with. "You'll find I'm all sorts of curious," she says to the curator with a grin and moves to follow him.
Eddie keeps quiet and lets the adults talk, more out of gathering information than anything else. He jumps a little when Dr. Strange walks up, blinking in surprise when smiling. "Hi, Doctor," he greets. Suddenly he feels a bit better, an Avenger and Dr. Strange there. Now he can say that he did have people there to defend him if Thor and Sif ask. He looks up at the mention of royalty, hoping they don't mean him. "Oh, I was w-w-wondering where she went..." he trails off when he spots the girl on the flying horse. He wanted to talk to her about some magic things but that can wait.
"I think we're all taking up his time, so no need to apologize," Roy grins at Tousaint, before running a hand through his hair, eyes shifting to the woman and her winged horse along with the others'. "... well great. I'm guessing that's -not- a Valkyrie. Excuse me, I'll be along with you in a minute." As the curator moves people along, Roy moves to intercept the winged horse and its rider. "And who are -you-?"
When Strange mentions that they should prepare to bow, Tousaint finally looks up at the sky. Tousaint is not sure why he has to bow, but still dips his head to the Princess, before following behind curator. Tousaint listens carefully and says, "Probably, most have been super villains. I watch the news all the time, and they have all sorts of weird powers."
Tousaint thinks to himself, "Okay, we will probably do not need to sound this stupid."
Tousaint says, "I amazed that they did not anything else. It almost if they did not care if people knew that they only wanted the one thing. Very bold." Tousaint says, ""I amazed that they did not take anything else. It almost if they did not care if people knew that they only wanted the one thing. Very bold.""
The unicorn lands with a clatter of hooves on stone. It's large for a horse and also for a unicorn.
The princess astride is like ice. Confidence is an armor. She makes eye contact with the curator and purposefully ignores the others while he speaks. As he moves to lead the group inside, Amethyst dismounts.
"I am Princess Amethyst," she says once she is on the ground, not even bothering to look at Roy. Instead, the teen makes sure her unicorn's saddle is properly tightened. Afterward, she turns toward the entrance. Roy happens to be between her and it.
"You will excuse me." The princess moves to walk past him, but makes no great attempt to pass him by, stopping if he puts any effort into further blocking her way.
With his hat held to his chest, Stephen briskly bows at the waist as Amethyst climbs off of her horse. The brooch pinned to his suit jacket seems to reflect a little more of the light around the group now that she's near them, which elicits a momentary frown from the former surgeon before he looks from the accessory to Eddie, who gets a nod and a warm smile before he looks forward and follows along after the curator.
"There are many strange powers in this world," he notes, glancing towards Tousaint, "and not all of them are polite enough to wrap themselves in spandex and pseudonyms." With that, he shifts his eyes towarsd the curator to ask, "The scene--is it as it was?"
The Curator stops just inside the stone archway to the Late Gothic Hall, turning slowly as he hears the chattering far behind. He gives Tigra a curious look, then toward the stairway again, "...Is there a problem?" He seems conflicted, momentarily... but regards Tousaint whilst he's waiting, "Yes, Mr. Walters, very bold indeed. There was virtually no attempt to hide their crime beyond the fact that all four of them were heavily shrouded. It is as though they thought it were an impossibility they would be caught. I feel the rogues were underestimating the attention their crime would receive, or perhaps the capabilities of the investigators."
Hearing Strange's question, he shakes his head solemnly, "No, as you might imagine we can't leave corpses lying around." He takes a breath, considering something. "The investigators who were here have done a fairly thorough job of cleaning up /that/ mess. ... But ..." He hesitates again. "...We took some photos of the crime scene admittedly, so we could have them analyzed by one of our experts in ancient linguistics. I still have the originals." He says this assuming that what Strange is really after are the symbols and writing. "I suppose I can show you, when we get to the lower level. I warn you, however... they are rather gruesome."
The Curator gives Amethyst and Roy time to play catch-up before he moves along again. "...We'll be moving through the Late Gothic Hall to the Boppard Room. There we'll take the stairs to the lower lobby." He explains, to no one in particular, as they move through a room with statuettes made ivory and stone at every wall including right directly in the center under a protective glass case. To the left, a truly massive painting depicting an ancient courtyard scene - possibly in Rome - with a large gathering of people attending some manner of fete. "...The museum has a lot of illuminated manuscripts in its possession, but this particular manuscript was one of seven borrowed from international museums. We were preparing for a special exhibition on Ancient European manuscripts but as you might imagine... that has been cancelled."
"Oh, nothing serious," Tigra says, hearing some of the conversation between Roy and the self-declared princess. "Nobody's throwing punches or energy blasts." As they walk along, she's paying attention to the various scents in the museum, looking for ones that stand out, doubly so as they head towards the scene of the crime. She doesn't expect to find any familiar scents, but hopes to encounter some of the scents later. "Oh wow," she murmurs softly at the sight of the huge painting. "I need to come back in happier times."
Eddie keeps quiet and follows along. He looks around at everything they pass by, taking note of it all. It could be useful. There's a small frown at the mention of gruesomeness but he's not worried. He's pretty sure he's seen worse. The curator's comment gets Eddie frowning again. "Or they w-w-wanted attention and are trying to get someone t-to notice them."
"Well, excuuuuse me, Princess," Roy mutters, before calling in a louder, clearer voice, "Wait up... if you've got an appointment with the curator too, then lemme escort you."
Falling in line with the crowd, and doing a quick introduction for the curator, Roy catches up with the manuscripts, looking about, inspecting the painting when he has the chance, pausing to keep a sharp lookout for anything out of the ordinary.
"Where was the manuscript kept before it came here?" Tousaint looks around at the different exhibits as he continues walking with the group and says, "It seems odd that they would wait for it to come to New York to steal it, unless the place it was kept before was more secure than here." Tousain raises his arms in a shrugs and says, "Why here and why now?" Tousaint lets out a soft chuckles and says, "I am sorry. When I am not watching the news, I spend my time watching reality mystery tv shows." Tousaint coughs and says, "I am just going to be quiet."
Amethyst's stride falters ever so slightly. Having successfully avoided laughing at Roy's sassy little tantrum, she proceeds into the building and joins the rest of the morbid tour group.
Unlike most of her affected coldness, she is legitimately not interested in the museum's exhibits for two reasons: first, she is a punk kid. Second, she lives in an actual magic castle.
She remains respectful, however, and is content to stand there looking attentive and completely out of place.
"That would be appreciated," Strange says, nodding when the curator offers pictures. Once the others have had a chance to ask their questions, he adds, "This wasn't the fisrt cypher to find its way into your collection, was it?" onto the pile, and by that point, he's studying the painting, albeit with less awe and more quiet appreciation.
"You really should, madam. We have many exquisite works of arts here from all across Europe." This is said as he walks through a second archway to the Boppard Room. Just to the left of the archway hangs an elaborate collection of painted scenes arrayed together by an ancient silver and gold frame. All of the scenes appear to be set in some nameless old city; some depict common events like trading and some more whimsical like a woman dancing whilst wearing a red cape. It looks like something one might find in an ancient noble house.
"Yes, possibly." The Curator admits to Eddie's last remark as they step past another threshold and into the Boppard Room. This room is quite different from the last, there seem to be filled wih ancient furniture, ornate gold and silver plates and utensils, statuettes in glass display cases, and yet more paintings. In cluding a rather large painting on the right depicting a whimsical outdoors scene featuring an older woman, several dogs bound to ropes, and a stag who appears to be trying to escape the dogs.
"That is a fine question, Mr. Walters. The manuscript was delivered here from the Norsk Folke Museum of Oslo, Norway. It is also goes by the name 'The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.' It was delivered to us a few weeks ago, and has been on display in the Treasury downstairs where it was awaiting transfer to our primary branch the Metropolitan Museum of Art." He walks across the stone floor of the Bopard Room, leading to the staircase and politely waits for the others to enter and descend, "...These stairs will take us to the Lower Level, after you of course. ... As for security, there were two female guards present here as well. Oddly enough, the assailants allowed them to escape and phone the police. Were it not for that, it would have been days possibly before anyone found them."
To Strange, "No sir, we have had the Voynich Manuscript here for a time amongst others permanently in our collection. Our collection of manuscripts is one of the largest in the world."
...And once they've descended into the lobby, the Curator motions to a staff member behind a wooden desk nearby. "Lisa, bring us... those pictures... please." For a moment, she gives him an incredulous look... but walks away to do as she is told. "...Here..." He motions to vast lobby of stone and marble that is largely empty. "...is where we lost three of our own." And for the magically sensitive, it would feel it. It is as if there is still an imprint of the souls of the deceased still about. It's a dark, forboding, sort of energy that permeates this lobby...
Eddie nods, once more quiet. Right up until the curator mentions where the manuscript came from. "So it was c-connected to like...Norse Myth?" something he's connected to now. Sort of. Adopted Asgardian Prince! "Do you know what the m-m-manuscript said? Or what you thing it might have said?" he asks. He frowns slightly at the mention of who was killed and who survived, finding it a little strange and filing it away. When the pictures appear, Eddie looks at them with a deeper frown and tries to see if he can recognize the symbols at all.
Tilting his head at the stag-hunting scene, Roy says nothing as they keep moving along. The kind of art he liked wasn't exactly this sort of thing... as much as he'd tried imprinting culture on Lian, his own tastes were more along the lines of velvet paintings of dogs playing poker.
But any sense of levity fades as they descend to the lobby, and there was a muttered oath to the Navajo spirits, as his mood darkens along with the room. It is here that Roy moves closer to inspect the lobby, eyes traversing to look for signs of struggles, blood, and anything that -might- be more material than the atmosphere in this shaded room.
Tousaint looks over at the place where they lost three of their own, and says. "Interesting, so there has to be a reason why the choose to rob the manuscript now, and not at another time." Tousaint says, "I wonder what could that be."
As much as Amethyst wants to pay attention, her mind wanders. Stupid flying unicorn and its stupid doom-saying. What if all of this is just a waste of time? What if it gets to October and she's no closer to finding Eclipso's evil teleporting diamond? Oh god, she's going to get killed by someone who lives in an evil teleporting diamond.
The princess frowns. She surreptitiously studies the other investigators. Maybe this isn't totally without merit. The Legion of Super-Heroes is her current ace against Eclipso, but it didn't hurt to have more allies. Who knows how big of an army Eclipso can raise?
Amethyst's royal plotting comes to a sharp end as they enter the lobby. The princess stops at the entryway, balling her hands into fists and clenching her jaw. She looks up and around like a cat watching phantoms.
"--hah."Amethyst's attempt to speak is interrupted by her own half-formed giggle. She puts a hand over her mouth. She had just realized how much she was about to sound like a psychic on a ghost hunting show.
"There's something here. In the lobby. Spiritually, I mean."
She raises her hands before her, squelching her amusement and putting on an expression of utmost graveness. Purple witch light dances between her outstretched fingers, casting her face in shadowed relief.
"Don't freak out. I've only done this twice before."
Strange's expression sinks with his first step into the lobby; there certainly won't be any smiling down here, and likely not for a while to follow. Even though the floor has been cleaned, he's being very deliberate about where and how he walks, as if woried that he'll step in - or disturb - something.
Whenever Lisa brings him the pictures, he'll step away from the rest of the group to study them. He has, as luck would have it, had cause to do quite a bit of brushing up on his ancient Norse lore, but since his interests at the time had more to do with the mythical Bifrost, whatever happened down here will probably require him to consult his library. Sometimes, he touches some photo or another to his forehead and murmurs things beneath his breath; for the most part, he's more engaged in the photos than the room they were taken in.
Still, he does caution, "Be careful not to let the darkness here shake your focus, Your Highness; the ramifications could be dire," as that eerie purple light catches his eye.
She did say that this was only her second time.
If Lisa - or anyone else - comes to reclaim the pictures, he'll hand them over gladly and commence lurking around the edges of the lobby and group to drink in the atmosphere of the place; it's very possible that he'll have to come back to do a more thorough investigation when there are fewer uninitiated eyes and souls around to witness it, so getting familiar with the place's energy seems a wise bet.
"I wouldn't say that." The Curator replies to Eddie, "It certainly belonged to the germanic tribes who inhabited Scandinavia in Northern Europe - Scandinavia now consists of the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. Back at the time of the manuscript's writing, estimated to be in the second century Common Era, Scandinavians mostly all wrote in a variant of the runic alphabet. This book has some writing in a runic alphabet, called Elder Futhark or Germanic Futhark, and it was discovered relatively recently in modern Norway. When I say recently, I really mean in the last hunded years or so."
He smiles at Eddie, offering him a bit of history lesson, "Put simply, it is certainly -tied- to the ancestors of modern Norwegians. As for the writing, no. Ninety-nine percent of that manuscript remains indecipherable. Meaning, it can't be read. What can be read, are the author's signature and approximate location at the time of the writing inside the book's cover. Again, written in Elder Futhark."
"As to the book's purpose, I can only speculate. It does bear an awful lot of imagery seemingly related to mysticism: mythical creatures, sigils, astrological patterns." He cocks his head a bit, looking somewhat somber, "...If I were to make an educated guess, I'd say that the assailants in question may have been cultists seeking the manuscript for nefarious purposes. Especially given what was written upon the floor here..." And he motions with a sweeping gesture toward the floor.
Pretty soon, Lisa returns bearing a large envelope... the sort one keeps papers in. From inside the envelope, she fishes out several photos and hands them to the Curator. She does this while utterly refusing to look. He takes them, briefly showing them to those who want to look that are close to him before motioning for her to give them to the wandering Strange. "As you see, they were stabbed multiple times and their throats were cut. The bodies were arranged in an triangular shape over there..." He points near the desk, "...with their blood being used to write some elaborate things upon the floor. Sigils, circles, and other things. And curiously, a phrase in Germanic Futhark: "'I give of the earth to the most high; the aesir who sit above'". He frowns slightly at that. "...those aesir, they are ancient nordic Gods which I find rather curious."
He then looks toward the young lady, "...what is it that you are doing?"
Eddie nods a little, trying to memorize this all. When the pictures come, his eyes flick away for a moment before he makes himself look. There's a tensing at the mention of the aesir, Eddie nodding. "Cultists and the aesir..." he trails off. Definitely sounds like something he needs to bring to Thor soon. Especially if it's connected to current problems. "So you think this c-c-cult like...worships one of the aesir?" he asks, immediately thinking of Loki but trying not to. He too looks at the Princess and flashes a quick tiny smile to Dr. Strange. "Don't worry about the d-d-darkness," he says. When he's sure attention isn't on him, Eddie applies his faith-power boost to Amethyst both to help chase off any of that darkness and increase her abilities to make the spell more effective.
Looking up at Amethyst's giggle, Roy tilts his head, before nodding briefly. Although he wasn't even close to mystical, he'd seen and heard enough that it wasn't out of place. Especially given his Navajo upbringing by a shaman. Shading his eyes against Amethyst's workings, Roy darts a quick look at Dr. Strange's caution, frowning. A lot of mystic warnings here. Tsk. The report was going to be interesting.
As he moves to take a look at the photos, Roy considers. The report of this was going to be interesting. Norse mythology wasn't his thing, but... "Were there anything in the legends about sacrifices to the Aesir...? What could one hope to gain."
"A sacrifice is normally done for power or appeasement. I am not sure if I can wrap my mind around this cult?" Tousaint takes several steps away from the Princess, before she starts to do her whatever she is attempting to do. "Why would cultist that seem to follow a belief system originating in Scandinavia steal a book in New York city that they could have stolen in Norway?" When the Curator points to desk, Tousaint eyes follow him and says, "You think that such a cult would have more members in Norway than New York." Tousaint shakes his head as he feigns horror to hearing about the descriptions of the killings, "That is beyond disgusting...anyways, perhaps they did not want the manuscript moved, or ....." Tousaint laughs, "There I go again with my rambling. My friends at the gym are going to love hearing who I was trying to help solve a crime."
"Oh, um. Thanks," Amethyst says. She hesitates in proceeding with her light show so she can stare intensely at Strange. No matter how hard she looks, there's nothing familiar or telling about him. The curator's question snatches her attention and Strange has moved on by the time she is able to look back.
A moment after Eddie lends his strength to her, the princess clenches her hands into fists. The light dims. "That's really weird. Um, anyway, I think you should stand back. I'll have to see what's here to know."
The princess falls to her knees, her ribbon cape flowing alive behind her. She moves her hands about a foot above the ground around her, fingers curling and jabbing in some arcane dance. That done, she raises her hands, palms down, hovering over some invisible witch's cauldron.
The spell isn't one she could do in her sleep. Then again, that could be said of any spell whose use was not immediately beating the crap out of someone. Still, there are demons and ancient powers in Gemworld and they covet her throne. Dealing with the beyond and the after and the before and whatever nebulous, uselessly named planes there were was her responsibility.
"Well I'm from Gemworld. I say the dead get to say hello."
And then, the veil is pierced. This is the magical equivalent of exploratory surgery when the doctors can't figure out what's wrong otherwise. Not that Amethyst tried to figure out what was wrong otherwise. She's not a doctor.
"...I am not certain, but given that the cultists -may- have been female themselves, seeing as they were much shorter of stature and of smaller build than the men they murdered..." He mulls over something for a few minutes. "...Perhaps. Whatever god or gods they might have been paying tribute to must have surely been rather dark in nature."
- Somewhere -
Amora sneezes whilst lying inside her temple, being tended to by a servant.
- Elsewhere -
The Curator's focus is drawn suddenly from Eddie to Roy, "Well, ancient germanic peoples most certainly did make sacrifices to their gods as most ancient people did. Not all of them were human, of course, nor necessarily many of them. It is speculated it was a fairly common practice to reenact Odin's personal sacrifice for wisdom by hanging himself from the World Tree Yggdrasil in various ways."
A soft chuckle is given to Tousaint, "I am at a loss myself, Mr. Walters. However, that -is- an excellent theory. Perhaps in bringing the book here, we might have disturbed some ancient demon." He shakes his head. "...At the very least, a group of not alltogether sane persons who worship ancient demons."
The Curator eyes the spectacle of Amethyst... conjuring something clearly now... and takes a step back and begins to wave his left hand somewhat frantically, "...Conjuring the dead?? No, no, please don't do that here the last thing I need is a haunted..."
But he is interrupted as she seems to separate the boundaries between the physical and spiritual plane, possibly allowing the souls of the dead to spill out, "...Oh gods."
Eddie stands back, staying quiet while he focuses on boosting the other royalty in the room. He's hoping conjuring the dead or piercing the veil doesn't go badly but he's staying ready just in case something goes bad.
"Lovely... I doubt very much that some ancient demon would have been disturbed -here-... it'd have been disturbed at wherever it was found," mutters Roy. "Disturbing burial grounds is bad vibes, man."
As the separated boundaries occurs, though, Roy moves swiftly, towards the Princess Amethyst. "What are you -doing-? Not -here-!"
Once the boundaries between the physical and spiritual separate, he starts running back the way they came as he shouts, "Sorry, I've seen enough horror movies to know that I will probably be the first person killed. Have fun, this is definitely not worth gaining cool points with the guys in the gym.
Amethyst closes her eyes. That's how you know serious magic is happening.
The light between her hands continues to flicker. Each pinpoint of purple has a mind of its own, or at very least its own flight plan. They multiply to the point that her outstretched hands are no longer wreathed in glittering radiance so much as they are submerged in it.
"It's not a burial ground," Amethyst replies sternly.
The floor beneath her splits. An actual, physical fracture in the ground develops, growing from beneath her palms and inching forward. There's something coming from it-not purple, not Amethyst's fairy magic or whatever princessy thing she has going on. It's steady and pale and another color entirely.
Amethyst suddenly jerks upright and slams her palms together. The clap is tremendous. With a flash, the glittering purple light is gone and so is the ruptured floor. It's perfectly smooth. Maybe the clapping sound wasn't her hands, but the earth closing again?
The princess, halfway standing up, finishes the job with considerably less stability. She's still looking at the ground and frowning. "I'll have to think about that. I don't know."
The Curator for his part just stands there, in a mix of awe and horror, at the display of very real magic right in front of his eyes. The light show itself was startling enough, but when the very earth itself seems to rupture, he seriously begins to question following Mr. Walters right out the door!
But then the clap comes, and a deafening clap it is, and a bright flash of light follows. ... And when it all clears, everything is fine. In fact, that dark aura over the area seems to have lifted as well... as though the tortured souls of the slain fled at the very sight of the display of power.
"...I... I do believe..." He starts, "...I do believe I am going to need a cup of coffee Lisa." He looks at Amethyst, "...What -did- you do? ... No, no, nevermind. I am not sure I need nor want to." He sighs. "...How about I give you all a tour of the museum?"
Amethyst hugs her arms to her body, looking thoughtful. Despite what she saw there, she liberated two people from an eternity in limbo. She saved souls. Is this the awesome power of a Lord of Order? Is this the grave responsibility, too?
"Hm?" The princess looks to the curator and smiles. "Free admission? Why not?"