Timeline: Fall, 2008
The evening had been an eventful one. Lyla and Rey had been working the bar that night (which was good — Friday was the best night for tips!). Most of the rest of the pack was off doing various things, but Chaska was there relaxing in a booth. He’d taken to looking out for Lyla’s mental well being these past six months since Ramiel had left with Michael. Clearly his choice to take Michael over her had cut her deeply and he and Rey had learned quite a bit more about both Lyla and Ramiel through all this, though they’d been asked to keep it quiet.
This was the night Ramiel and Michael came home. They ordered drinks and had intended to find a seat when Ramiel realized just how angry Lyla still was about his choice, even though it had happened six months ago. Ramiel and Lyla had a private conversation in her office that lasted about a minute and ended with Lyla obviously cold and angry. Ramiel had spoken with Michael after that, who threw up his hands and told him, “Welcome to my world,” before he left the Blood and Brew.
Ramiel, showing remarkable insight for him, decided it was massive apology time and he went back to the bar where Lyla was back working again and he even said he was sorry. To her face, even. Rey thought that Lyla might have forgiven him right on the spot when the stranger walked in and distracted them. The moment passed and Lyla turned her attention away from him.
The stranger introduced himself to Lyla specifically, calling her Ms. Clairborne. Rey noticed an excessive tip after she gave him his whiskey. Lyla told him that he’d bought some time for her to listen and they retreated to Lyla’s office in the back again. Rey couldn’t help but to think that Lyla conducted an awful lot of shady business back there these days.
But Lyla reappeared after only a few minutes. She touched Rey on the elbow to get her attention, then asked her to go to the back room for a meeting. She’d already heard was Blakely had to say but she wanted the others to hear it, too. After Rey, she also told Ramiel, Chaska, and all the others present in the Blood and Brew to please meet with Blakely in her office to listen to a very interesting proposal.
Rey went into the back room, wondering who the man was, and what he said that would have interested Lyla so much. She was joined by Chaska.
Ann-Marie, who had left a bit earlier, had stepped back in to get a bottle of wine for her plans with Ironclaw this evening saw the small gathering moving to the back. Seeing Lyla’s beckoning, she walked over to see what was going on. Lyla told her there was a gentleman who was interesting in doing business. He had originally just contacted her, but Lyla thought this was something that should interest all the companions. She directed Ann-Marie to her office where others were already gathering.
Ramiel had made it as far as standing to leave when Lyla reappeared from the back, and as the other moved to the back he joined them silently.
John walked into the bar, tired and sore. He stared to walk a little faster when he saw his sister heading toward the back room. Catching her brother’s eye and getting an approving nod form Lyla, Ann-Marie gestured for John to join them, whispering in his ear that Lyla had met someone who might be of interest to us. Business-wise.
John raised his eyebrows in mild surprise but silently followed everyone into the back room. It wasn’t what he had come here for but it looked like life was going to get interesting. Unfortunately that wasn’t a reassuring idea to John’s way of thinking.
Michael walked back into the Blood and Brew, his hair still damp from the quick shower he took. Still in need of a shave, he felt almost like a new person, after washing off the dust and grim of the road.
He paused to see where Ramiel was, when he noticed the back of Dr. John walking in the backroom. A little curious, he made his way there.
Once in the back room, Mr. Blakely found himself amidst the entire cast of very capable persons, all of whom had just been recommended by Lyla. He cleared his throat as the last person came in.
“Good evening all. My name is Andrew Blakely. I’ve come seeking assistance from your friend, Ms. Clairborne and she said that it might be better if I saw all of you, as well.” He looked around but didn’t see Lyla there. She’d more or less thrown him to the wolves in a kind of trial by peer evaluation.
He cleared his throat but continued. He was no stranger to speaking in group settings. “I represent something called the Life Foundation. What it is, is a group of individuals who’ve had some… experiences with the strange, or supernatural if you like. Their experiences have taught them a great deal and we understand that there is far more to this world than meets the mundane eye. We are acutely aware of this in fact.
“Our concern isn’t folks who have an open eye to the wider world, however. It’s with the powers out there that lie in wait to corrupt the innocent. Relics forged of ancient past and relics forges anew — these are what we call those items too powerful or too dangerous to allow them to fall into the wrong hands. I understand that the use of such items may be open to some debate from time to time, but rest assured that we are only interested in collecting those items we feel are too dangerous to let them lie.
“The Foundation is made up of a group of people with an interest in protecting people. However, they are not necessarily… well, recovery of some of these items is not simple or easy. If it was, we’d already have them in hand. Lyla Clairborne has a certain status in the wider occult community as a person quite capable of obtaining items and getting things done. However, she has requested that my case be stated to all of you.”
“How do we know this isn’t just some line,” Rey said with a sweet smile. “Something that you’re feeding us so we can get powerful objects for you to use for your own purposes?”
“Because it will be your choice whether or not you will hand them over to us,” said Blakely. “You’ll have done the research, you’ll have decided on how best they should be recovered and you will have dealt with the difficulties in obtaining them. It’s only fair that you should decide whether or not to turn them over to us. The Foundation is confident that if you are given a chance to research them yourselves, you’ll come to the same conclusions we did.”
“Then why not simply destroy such things, if they are a danger?” Ann-Marie asked, fighting the desire to stay anonymous.
“Sometimes you may find that is certainly an option. But many times you may discover that doing so could lead to undesirable results. Experience will be the best teacher, I’m certain — if you were willing to take such risks. I personally would not as a general principal, but you would have the freedom to operate as you see fit.”
“Fair enough. Protecting people is a good, especially from what you have described,” Ann-Marie replied, pausing a moment and then continued. “Though altruism is a weakness of mine toward those who deserve it, and I hate to be mercenary, but I have to ask the classic question, if not for me but for the others. As the risks may be high, what’s in it for us?”
“We can negotiate that once we establish if you, as a group, are interested in this. If so, let’s continue by all means and hammer out the details. But if you aren’t, I’d hate to waste your time.”
Ramiel found a corner and leaned against the wall. He made sure his line of sight on this guy was clear. He had heard a lot, and the last few months had seen a lot more. There was no trust for this man, not from him, However he could be useful. So he listened and watched ready for anything that might happen.
“I’m listening.” answered Ann-Marie, waiting to hear from the others and Lyla before commenting further.
“Did Lyla already give you an answer?” Rey asked. If Lyla had wanted them to hear what he had to say, then she probably was interested to some degree.
Blakely nodded. “Yes, she did.”
“I’m interested,” Rey said, though she wondered what kind of assistance she’d be. She found herself wondering that quite a bit lately about a lot of things, but she pushed those thoughts from her mind.
“What is your source of information.” Ramiel spoke cooly and calmly his voice holding a cold edge to it. A familiar sound to those who knew him, one that them know he was not taking kindly to this person.
Rey looked at Ramiel, curiosity and concern in her eyes.
“Contacts around the country, I imagine. Or perhaps through various talents and resources. I know the Foundation has access to a impressive library on the occult,” Blakely explained. “But actually the source of all my information comes from the Foundation. I am only a spokesman and do not have the resources myself and do not consider myself an expert in the occult. My contribution is as a liaison to you.”
“Where is the Foundation. who are they and why do you work for them?” Ramiel asked in the same tone.
“The officially listed headquarters for the Life Foundation are in Boston,” Blakely said. “You can check that if you like. We have a web site set up that, should you decide you are interested in working with us, can be used to send secure communications directly and quickly between us. I believed I already explained who they are. As for my own motivation for doing this job? I believe in their cause.”
Ramiel studied the man. He did not answer his questions entirely, he wanted to know who these people were names. Obviously that was not going to be given. He leaned back silently keeping easy assess to his weapons.
“I need some time to think about this Mr. Blakely. Is there any rush on us deciding tonight right now or can we have some time to discuss things amounst ourselves?” John said slowly and thoughtfully.
“I would expect nothing less,” he replied. Blakely paused, then added, “Perhaps, should you choose to take part in this offer, you might consider introductions? I will understand if you wish to keep your own identities private, of course. Ms. Clairborne was kind enough to allow me this opportunity to speak with you, but I’m afraid she told me nothing of you other than that you were her friends, very capable, and that she thought you might be able to help.”
Ramiel pushed away from the wall.”I will need to discuss this with Ms. Clairborne before I give a name or answer. ” He moved to the door and stopped and whispered into Michael’s ear.
Then with one last look at Mr Blakely and the room he left.
“I don’t trust you or this foundation enough yet to give you my name,” Michael said. “But I will consider what you have said, and think about it. Until then, excuse me.” Then Michael followed Ramiel out of the room.
“Well,” said Ann-Marie stepping forward as the boys dramatically slipped out, “while I cannot say yes as of yet, the very least I can do is offer you my name as even with the simplest of investigations some of the townsfolk would tell you. You may call me Ann-Marie.” She looked briefly toward the others. “Thank you for your offer. Like the boys said, I’ll have to talk things over with Ms Clairborne and the others who are interested before giving you an answer.”
Chaska waited until Ramiel and Michael had left the room. He calmly walked over to Mr. Blakely and gave him a warm smile. He was determined to not be like the others. He took Mr. Blakely’s hand in a firm handshake and looked him in the eye confidently. “My name is Chaska. I am sure you understand the hesitation on the part of the others but knowing Lyla we would not be talking to you if she didn’t have some modicum of trust in you or at least in what you are saying. So please accept my friendship and providing that the others accept your offer I would be happy to offer my help.”
Blakely looked a little startled, then he smiled warmly. He’d slowly been getting the impression this wasn’t coming across very well. “Thank you, Chaska, Ann-Marie.”
“Mr. Blakely, My name is John Beckett. I am sorry to be so brusk but well I have been burned before when someone offered me money for a supernatural item so I guess you could say I am a little gun shy, but I didn’t mean to be discourteous.”
Blakely nodded. “I understand. It’s a big decision, one laced with a lot of responsibility. It took a lot of discussion before a consensus could be reached among the Foundation members, as well, considering that we’d need to trust Ms. Clairborne’s judgment — and of course yours as well now as to what ultimately will happen with these artifacts.”
“When do you need to know our answers?” Ann-Marie asked.
“I don’t have to leave until tomorrow afternoon,” he replied. “I’m staying at the motel tonight and I can come back here tomorrow to speak with any of you further, if you wish.”
Ann-Marie thought to herself, I best discuss this with Lyla & John tonight then.
“I’m Rey,” Rey said, but she did not extend a hand to shake, nor did she offer a last name. She stayed where she was, but her smile was bright and friendly. Hamilton, what do you think of this guy?
The cat hopped down off the heat register he’d been sleeping on and wandered by, sniffing randomly and staring at little nothings in the air. It was his way. Seems to be ordinary as dirt, Miss, he said. Just a guy. I give him two stars, I think. Not all that interesting. Doesn’t offer me treats. Didn’t bring me a toy. He isn’t currently scrubbing my chin. He doesn’t even smell of other animals. Frankly, I think my time may be better spent insulating that heater with my body.
Rey smothered a giggle.
(Scene concluded in-game)