No great discovery is made in your own back yard
Location • Grid:Off-Grid •
Date • 2019-10-20
Summary • Odysseus talks about the Sanctuaries, answers questions and gives a demonstration.
Plot • Sanctuaries •
On the outside, it looks like any old abandoned warehouse. Mainly because it is. On the inside though, an interior shell, almost like a building within the building, has been erected with state of the art security system installed. It's all hidden behind plywood boards though and Odysseus shifts a small piece of it that's attached with a single screw in order to access the code lock and let you all in.
Inside is a bare concrete floor and walls made of plywood that stretches from the ground and 16 feet into the air leaving enough space between the top of the walls and the expansive network of metal trusses and grate walkways under the roof to let some light in from the windows in the exterior walls. Fluorescent light fixtures along the top edge of inner walls gives the remaining needed light.
Along a wall hangs an old fashioned noticeboard with a map of Portland nailed to it and various locations variously circled or with a colored pin stuck in them. There's also a white board with notes on it. Arranged in front of it is a half circle of cheap plastic chairs. In one corner a circle with runes along the circumference has been arranged and another, bigger one is laid out in the center of the room.
Ben had been intrigued when Odysseus had mentioned something about Sanctuaries and got cut off in the middle of the Consilium meeting, and so he'd reached out to find out when more could be learned, and now was the time.
He shows up in his usual jeans and a t-shirt with a leather jacket thrown over it and a pair of black combat boots, a backpack slung over one shoulder with a few things in it just in case he has need of them. The tattooed Acanthus makes his way over toward the half ring of chairs and plops himself down into one, glancing over at the white board and notice board, taking in whatever he can see of that, as well as looking over the runic circles.
Jacey shows up, not long after Ben. She's got both her phone and a notebook and pencil. She's wearing leggings with a galaxy pattern on them tucked into high-heeled halfboots. Over that, she's got a long tunic, in a dark blue-green that somehow matches some of the colors in the leggings. She's got a hoodie draped over an arm, and a purse slung crosswise over her shoulder. Curiosity is written large over her features.
It can be assumed that Gin had been at the initial meeting, quiet and unassuming as can be, listening in and saying nothing as she is wont to do. She's doing much the same here, sitting somewhere with one leg crossed over the other, gloved hands clasped neatly in her lap as she waits for the conversation to get underway, a vacant smile resting on pale pink lips as she watches the others congregate. Though she wears that smile, there is a cagey sort of energy about her -- like she was expecting something to happen, like one should be suspicious of whatever bag she might leave under a bench; bright blue eyes darting to a new entrance, or the door as though she expected one that doesn't arrive precisely when they're meant to.
Nicholas , known to the magi of Portland and most people in general as vervanE, or vanE for short, also arrives in a fairly timely matter, smelling vaguely of a freshly-smoked cigarette, black coat billowing behind him. Though he hasn’t been in town for long, he seems to know both Ben and Jacey. They both get a look from him, though he doesn’t nod or say hello. The look should suffice. He doesn’t quite sit just yet, but he does move closer to the assembled, brow furrowed and frowning. Or that’s just his face, whichever comes first. Gin Joint gets a brief glance from him as well, one that may be a little curious, though it’s hard to say. He’s not a man of many words.
9-to-5, or 9, comes clambering out of his dull silver minivan, a small mountain of empty McDonalds and candy wrappers following the swing of his foot. He straightens up as he closes the door to the minivan, turning and closing the door before he locks it. He checks his vehicle to make sure that it's properly locked, and then paces on by the minivan - with its 'MY KID IS AN HONOR STUDENT' bumper sticker, the 'BABY ON BOARD' sign hanging off the back window. He pauses before he walks off, cursing to himself as he opens the trunk door, pulling a ratty brown raincoat as he swings it up and over him as he makes his way inside.
There's yawning as he pulls a bottle of 5 hour energy from his off the rack suit pocket, cracking it open and chugging it down before he closes it back over, shaking the empty bottle before slipping it back into his pocket. He does his best to keep his mouth shut to muffle the errant yawns, waiting for the drink to kick in. "Morning." He states. Even if it isn't morning.
Odysseus, a man in his early thirties, with short cut, brown hair, construction work boots, khaki cargo pants and a black t-shirt. Positions himself in front of the noticeboard and smiles.
"Right," he starts. "I'm Odysseus, of the Mysterium. Thank you all for joining me here, at this, my main research site for the Mystery I call the Sanctuaries. In short, it would appear that it mitigates the effects of Paradox, making it simply vanish. It appears that paradox is more likely to be invoked, but then fail to materialize. It seems to be a localized phenomenon, but also mobile. It will often occur in the same locations, but not all the time. I've been trying to chart the exact rules under which the phenomenon operate but also how it moves and why."
Odysseus clasps his hands together. "I'll open the floor to questions first and will try to answer them as well as I can, then I aim to give you a demonstration while Void here," at this he indicates a diminutive woman in white garb towards the back of the room. "makes sure that we are all safe."
"So, it moves? Or it recurs in a location? Is there a way to track its movement from one place to another?" Ben asks, to whom most would know as Stray. He's been a fixture of Portland his entire life, one of those rare souls who has stuck it out through all the weird, through sheer stubborn will. Or, perhaps the Ariadne is just too attuned to his City to ever truly leave it. He gives a smile to Jacey when she comes over and joins them. There's a glance over at vanE and a dip of his head of greeting, and then his attention re-focuses on Odysseus.
Jacey offers Nicholas an upnod of hello, and Ben gets a grin as she sits near him. She watches people file in until Odysseus starts talking, at which point, she opens her mouth to ask a question. And closes it again, Ben got there first, and it was pretty close to her initial question.
"If these things stop Paradox, I gotta ask - why do we need someone to make sure we're all safe?" 9-to-5 asks, even raising a hand to ask a question. "9-to-5. Guardian." He introduces, before dropping his hand back down again. He shoves his thumbs into his coat pockets, waiting patiently. Or well, patiently enough as he rocks himself on his heels, the worn leather giving idle little creaking noises. He glances over to Ben, then looks over at Gin - shrugging at her once before he looks back towards Odysseus.
vanE finally takes a seat, though there’s something uncomfortable about it -- like he’s not sure how long he wants to stay. He’s all in black, as per usual. He doesn’t yet ask any questions himself, but rather watches Ben, Odysseus, and anyone else who may be speaking with that sharp, pensive gaze. Though it’s hard not to notice Guardian’s 9 entrance as well, and the question? That gets a pair of raised eyebrows out of the Acanthus.
Gin Joint seems not to truly notice anyone, finally focused on Odysseus as he speaks. She doesn't offer introductions, she doesn't ask questions. As usual, everyone else seems to be handling that for her.
Odysseus turns to answer Ben's question first. "It is more like I have noticed it in a few locations, but not at all times in those locations. So whether it is one phenomenon that moves around or if it is a series of locations where the phenomenon blinks in and out of our world, is one of the questions I haven't been able to answer." Turning to 9, Odysseus chuckles a little nervously. "Paradox is but one danger unfortunately. In my demonstration, I will be casting a spell and the protection is to make sure that none of you are affected through an Echo."
"Why was Counsillor Selene so insistent on silencing all talk of it during the meeting?" queries Jacey. "Oh, Veracity, Acanthus, Skald." She hates the long, drawn-out method of introducing herself, so she tends not to do it.
Ben nods to Odysseus and then asks a follow-up question, "So is there a way that you can tell, before casting a spell, if it is present currently? Or is this just a shot in the dark?" He pauses a moment and then says, "Stray," by way of introduction, not seeming to bother with the rest for the time being.
9 sort of ambles his way over to Gin and just hovers beside her, looking generally nonplussed for the time being.
"Oh," Odysseus answers Jacey. "I believe that it was Hierarch Tiamat who would rather I'd have kept the information out of the general meeting. As a Guardian, I suppose she thinks that having Mages chasing a way to cheat Paradox would be ... dangerous. But if it does turn out to be a blessing, it could be a significant discovery with great implications for our effort to stabilize the magical landscape of our city."
Turning to Ben again, he continues. "I have not discovered a sure-fire way of knowing whether or not the phenomenon is present, but in this place it seems to be more common than not that it is, which is why I chose it."
Ben nods his head once Odysseus answers his question and Jacey's and he falls silent for a few moments after that, considering this information and mulling it over. For the time being, he returns to just listening, and waits to see what the demonstration holds.
”I’m amazed,” vanE finally speaks. He has a resonant voice that carries, the sort of memorable voice that garners attention, though it’s not particularly loud. “that Hierarch Tiamat can find the time to care about danger in a city that’s already full of it.” He draws up straighter before leaning back in his seat again, presumably waiting for this demonstration himself.
Jacey says, thoughtfully, "Well, it might be dangerous, but at the same time, if it's something that's going to bite us in the ass, the more information we have, the better. If it's something we need to avoid, then wouldn't we need to know that, too?"
While the conversation goes, 9 looks towards the way out, then back forwards again. He shifts a bit, giving himself a straight line to the nearest exit.
Gin Joint has begun to glance from person to person as each one speaks their questions in turn, her brow furrowing in thought as the conversation continues. Much the same as 9, her eyes flit toward the exit, and it's quite clear she's beautiful minding an exit strategy. ... all whilst that wan smile lingers on her lips, of course.
"I agree with you both," Odysseus says, nodding towards Veracity and vanE. "which is why I brought it up before the Consilium. I do trust that the Hierarch has our best interest in mind, and I think she would have liked the investigation to be more ... contained." It's pretty clear that he outright does not trust Tiamat to have everyone's best interest in mind, or that he thinks that her way to go about it is wrong, but you can't say that out loud. This is the closest to insubordination he's willing to risk. "Personally, I think that more eyes and brains gets better results."
Ben glances over at Nicholas and chuckles. He clearly has something on his mind that he considers saying, but changes his mind at the last minute and instead says, "I'm not surprised that it was squashed at the meeting, considering that it seems mostly theory with a lot more study that needs to go into it to answer some questions. I mean, we could run around the city like chickens with our heads cut off hoping for invisible undetectable pockets of alleged safety. But I think a lot more work is going to need to be done before it's something that anyone has to worry about people abusing." One can almost hear the air quotes in it. "The more folks studying it, the more perspectives, information gathering capabilities, and testing that can actually be done."
"Also the more chance for abuse. People end up fighting over these zones of safety. They begin struggling with eachother over places that are known to have these Sanctuaries in the same spot over and over." And 9 reaches into his coat pocket, patting around for a second before looking satisfied. "This isn't a safe place. So any place that could become safe, that's worth it's weight in gold really, isn't it?"
“Show us, then,” vanE invites Odysseus, even gesturing towards him with one calloused hand. “We are here, and we are waiting.” No impatience in the statement. It’s encouraging, and while ‘eager’ might be a stretch, he clearly wants to see.
Jacey looks thoughtful until vanE speaks, then she just kind of smirks. She lapses into silence, listening and waiting.
Odysseus nods toward Void for her to commence her casting. "Void will prepare a shielding circle. Feel free to put up any detection spells or effects you think you may have use for."
Void kneels in the center of smaller circle in the corner and begins chanting quietly in a sing song voice in High Speech. Some of the runes are made from steel, inlaid in the concrete and start to glimmer as if they were blinking in and out of reality, or like a mirage. These are practices of Weaving and Shielding from the Arcana of Space and Prime. She sprinkles steel dust into a candle, causing it to flash. All in all, the ritual takes half an hour and as it completes, the runes and the outer circle are shining a blindingly brilliant white when looked at directly. She gets up of her knees slowly. "If you would join me inside the circle please." Her voice is a soft soprano, but despite it's tender note, it's far from delicate.
Gin Joint stands from her seat, gloved hands casually smoothing out the front of her tunic, adjusting some of the jewelry that dots her form as she paces toward Void and finds herself a nice safe place to stand. Once there, she lowers her head in a bit of a nod toward the other woman, interlacing her fingers and leaving her arms to hang before her. "Don't let me die, darling, I've ever so much yet to do. You understand, don't you?" She smiles just that little bit wider, enough to dimple her cheeks ever so briefly before it fades into some anemic rendition of what was. There's a couple hard blinks after that, her shoulders rolling back, posture straightening -- mustn't slouch, after all -- and chin lifting as she stares out toward the others.
vanE slowly rises, stepping into the circle without another word. He reaches into the collar of his button-down shirt and slides out the pendant around his neck, a silver reproduction of the Tower tarot card. He stands up straight, staring mostly into space, but occasionally at one of the others. Gin, for starters, since she’s being a bit cheeky.
9 doesn't bother saying anything, instead he just hunkers into his coat all the more. He does not look like he's a happy camper - this lasts for a few seconds before he brightens up and smiles, stepping into the circle, turning around a few times before he takes a silver coin from his pocket. He kisses it before slipping it back into his pocket. "Think happy thoughts, and you'll be fine!" A beat. "Or not. But shit if I'm thinking bad thoughts."
As the gathered Mages pile into the protective circle, Odysseus sets a polished steel orb on a cinder block near one edge of the larger magical circle in the center of the room while positioning himself near the opposite side. He too starts chanting in High Speech, though his use is more bombastic than Void's. The air starts to feel loaded with static electricity and divine purpose. Where Void's chant lasted for half an hour, his lasts for a few handful of seconds before he draws a deep breath then exhales a stream of silvery fire aimed at the orb.
The stream splinters off against it and ricochets back toward the smaller circle. As it hits the circumference, the orb that protects the gathered Mages shines bright and the tongue of aetheric fire sputters and dies against the ban. Meanwhile, the main stream melts steel orb and cinder block alike.
In an unsettling sensation, everyone present can feel how the Abyss is tearing it's way through the tunnel the spell has opened to the Supernal, coming down the line like a tidal wave. Odysseus steels himself to absorb it and then... Nothing. No grunt of effort containing the breach. No wayward spell effect.
Jacey stands in the circle, watching through her own particular medium. Her eyes go very wide and eyebrows go very high up. "Huh," is her only comment, but whatever her thoughts are, she's keeping them to herself. For the moment.
"What the fuck." 9 states, as he reaches into his coat pocket. He keeps his hand firmly in there. "No wonder she doesn't want this spread like butter on bread." He pauses for a moment as he glances towards the exit, then back towards Odysseus. He only apparently has one real question for the man. "How do you feel right now?"
Ben shifts his perception, picking up the threads of fate and the shifts of time, letting that wash through his senses as he focuses on the supernal rather than the fallen world. As Odysseus prepares his spell, he focuses, watching the thorns fill his vision, watching what happens, and then.. nothing. And for a moment he stands there in complete silence, still braced for some sort of impact that never arrives. He rubs at his chin a bit with one hand once it's over, pursing his lips. "It's definitely not right.. even if it's doing exactly as advertised." He's really not comfortable at all with the fact that whatever stopped it was also Abyssal in nature. He glances over at Jacey for a moment, and then back over his shoulder toward Nicholas.
"... Fascinating..." It's pretty much all Gin Joint offers, eyes large and bright in their avid interest. It almost deserves the excited roar of the softest golf clapping. She takes in a breath through her nose, about to speak when 9 beats her to the punch, and her lips press to a tight thin line of disapproval. How dare he speak before the Queen. Her attentions briefly shift toward Jacey, one brow quirked -- had she seen the same thing? The question is written across her fair features, but she doesn't voice it. She gives Nicholas the ol' side eye, eyes narrowing to pale slits as they're then directed toward Ben. "Clearly, something is, as they say, fucky here."
"It's unnerving." Odysseus admits. "I could feel the Abyss enter into the spell, I could feel it enter me, and then, it's just gone. I was prepared to contain it but before I had a chance it's... It's almost as if the Abyss is pulled out of me."
It is evident that it took a lot of effort on Void's part to keep the stray spell fragment from hurting the assembled and she's not really sharing in Odysseus elation, but she keeps it to herself for now, this is his show.
"It's as though it simply ceased to exist, which.." Ben nods toward Gin Joint.. is very fucky, indeed.
"It was unnerving to watch," replies Jacey, having met Ben's eyes for that brief moment, then caught Gin Joint's eyebrow question. She nods back at them. "Fucky seems to be a pretty good word for it. Void, are you doing ok?"
Awash in the sensations of the vision, vanE is once again staring and silent, brow furrowing even more. Lost somewhere, very deep in thought. “Pulled out of you,” he finally intones, “but to where...and by whom. Or what.” He lifts his head, dark eyes taking in the others. Ben, who glanced at him. He does not use the word ‘fucky.’ Is he thinking about it? He also looks Void’s way when Jacey inquires after her, as if echoing Veracity’s concern.
"I'm entirely against this. You got the Abyss pulled out of you by the Abyss. What if whatever you are doing is just making it all stronger? At this point you might just be feeding something. Are we safe to exit the circle? Because I want to put about this," 9 raises his hands, holding them at shoulder length apart - almost bumping Gin in the process - and waggles his fingers. "Away from this." He gestures towards Odysseus. "Because if it involves the Abyss.." He looks towards Void, then back towards the exit.
Void looks genuinely appreciative of the concern offered to her and she smiles faintly and nods. "I'm fine. I did what I was supposed to do, I kept you safe." She does not however comment to let her own view on what they've experienced be known.
Odysseus raises his hands a bit defensively. "I understand that it feels unnerving, I really do. But can we truly know that it's something Abyssal that causes it or is the Abyss just twisting our perceptions of it?" He shrugs in an indication that he can't really answer that. "I've been doing this for a while now and so far I have not noticed any downsides. There has been no adverse effects noted."
"Do we know whether the Paradox is going to be released at a later time?" inquires Jacey. "Because that's the first thing I wondered. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't."
"That's the point. Nothing in this life is free. Here you are, basking in the glow of free flowing Magic. Without harm or foul. That doesn't happen in the Fallen World. Not anymore. In Portland especially. Everyone knows how bad Portland is. That's why half of us are here." 9 takes a step towards the edge of the circle, but doesn't cross over it yet.
Ben looks thoughtful, absorbing this information and the reactions of the others around him to it. He does glance over toward Void for a moment, studying her, but then he looks over toward Jacey and says, "This is a very strange phenomena, and potentially very dangerous, since we know very little about how it works. And forgive me, Odysseus but, while I respect that you've been working this for a while and have seen no ill effects from it, that doesn't mean that there aren't any that have yet to be discovered. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad you haven't exploded, or that some massive backlash hasn't been released on you, or that some giant abyssal creature you've been feeding hasn't come by to thank you for releasing it by eating you whole.. but it's definitely not something I'd be willing to call safe. Not when there are still so many questions, and so few answers."
"If it is indeed gathering up Paradox, it is doing so on a scale and and with a longevity that has never been observed before anywhere." Odysseus looks almost proud of that fact. If he's found something horrible, at least he's found something horrible that no one has found before. "Surely, if it would be released, it would have been so by now? And how else can we learn more about it than by triggering it? I'm happily welcoming all of your input, it's why invited you here in the first place." It looks like he genuinely means it.
A cloud seems to have settled around vanE’s shoulders. The gloom is thick and deep in there. “Should you feel the need to pass that burden to another,” he says, staring at Odysseus, “let it be me.”
"And why are you happy about that?" 9 asks. "Look through the veil of time. See if there's an event lodged at a place like this that is causing this effect. Something else. What you're doing is like asking 'Hey, is this gun loaded?' and promptly shoving it against your forehead and pulling the trigger. Chamber is empty until it isn't. Even I'm not that stupid and I like to eat kebabs from stalls at 3 in the morning." Which is probably why 9 looks so utterly in shape and toned.
Jacey opens her mouth, then closes it again, as if she's discovered that she wants to say something but nothing occurs to her that's worth saying aloud. She glances around, and then waits until the ok is given to leave the circle.
Ben pinches the bridge of his nose at something, looking a little bit pained. Then he says, "Okay.. is there a collection of your notes and research available that we can peruse, study, maybe figure out a way of detecting these things without randomly triggering them all over?" He hasn't lasted this long in Portland without a healthy sense of self-preservation.
Void gently speaks up, quietly to not interfere; "It should be safe to leave the circle." And with that she lets the spell go, the runes and circles return to ordinary steel.
Odysseus picks up again. "You all say you are here despite, or even because, Portland is dangerous. I get it! It takes a certain kind of vision to stay in a place like this. We're here because we have hope! We're here because we want to find something that let's us stick it back to the Fallen World. To stick it back to the Seers. No great discovery is made in your own back yard. This country was discovered by someone who was willing to risk everything on a hunch that he could find a route that no one had taken before, that all his peers told him would lead him to fall of the edge of the world."
Turning to Ben he nods. "I'll make all of my notes available to you, together with a log of locations and times of observations."
vanE frowns deeper, beginning to leave the circle. “This country was discovered by people who cared about the land that nourished them, and gave back to it,” he mutters. Now that the spell is over, he turns towards the door, making to leave without another backwards glance.
Ben looks like he's going to say something, his mouth opens, "That's..." and then he stops himself. He takes a breath, and then says, "Thank you. I'd like to take a look at them, and perhaps discuss this further at a later time." He then begins to withdraw from the circle. "Thank you, for sharing this. It's best that we know what's going on."
Jacey nods at Odysseus, and says, gravely, "Thanks, Odysseus. I'd like to see the notes and logs. If you don't mind, the next time you perform the experiment, I'd like to watch again. If you perform it again." She glances at vanE and opens her mouth, then closes it again. She glances at Ben, then around the room. "Is it safe to leave the circle?"
9-to-5 thumbs something in his pocket before he pulls his hand out, and then he knuckle-bumps Gin in the elbow. He then steps out of the circle, taking two steps further away just to make sure that he isn't exactly right beside it. He then fumbles through his pocket, pulling out a pair of car keys that has a number of little keychain additions, a snoopy, a spiderman, and a little pen laser thing for driving cats mad. He jangles the keys for a second as he makes for the exit. "Send the notes to me, if you don't mind." He states, despite the whole idea of him previously calling it a mad idea.