There were swarms of more-or-less official investigator types lurking around the museum as well, just waiting for Charles to come out of the private offices… And the only reason they were waiting was because they didn’t want to scare him off.
Elzeard’s pointing of investigators to Charles had made him sort of… public.
The first one barely let him get out of the lab.
(Charles) “Oh, hello!”
(Investigator) “Are you Charles Dexter Ward?” (He seemed surprised, but was quite professional about it.)
(Charles) “Yes, why?”
Charles briefly considered saying something like “Is this about those overdue library books? Someone was supposed to be taking them back!” – but, while it might be funny, it really wouldn’t do much except add to the confusion.
(Investigator) “I’m Joseph Daniels, an independent investigator hired by the University of Berkley. I was searching for more information on the individual known as Elzeard.”
(Charles) “Er…. Such as?”
(Investigator) “Nearly everything. Elzeard likely isn’t his real name. All we know for certain is that he has considerable resources and that he keeps referring investigators to you. Research in public and government records reveals nothing about him. The University’s research teams are interested in a conversation with him about his current project, and they have no other way to communicate with him than his answering machine, and you.”
(Charles) “Botheration! Why is he referring everyone to me? I have too many things to do now!”
(Daniels) “Hey, that’s not my problem. If you had his email address, or even his phone number, I’m sure it would make things easier for all of us. At this point, I’d even take a mailing address…”
(Charles, somewhat plaintively) “But I thought he left a communications link… “
(Daniels) “He did, but he still refers people to you when they ask for a physical meeting. Seems perfectly willing to talk over the phone, though.”
(Charles) “Ah. Well, he is a bit… eccentric by normal standards. Why do you need a physical meeting?”
Charles steered the conversation by the Hipparion exhibit, just for fun!
(Daniels) “They want to be sure he’s a real person. I’m no academic, but they said something about a lack of a publishing record or known prior experiments. I’ve got to say, I’ve never seen such a well-hidden guy.” (He looked at the horses.) “Hey, cute… anyway, I think they just want to see if he’s some fellow scientist who’s just being modest or something.”
(Charles, looking at him puzzledly…) “Er… I thought it was practical aspects that you were interested in? Is it answers to academic questions?”
(Daniels) “They’re interested in academia, and seeing just who this Elzeard is. Me? I have a job and I take pride in it. Wow, these horses are tiny!”
(Charles) “Technically they’re not horses; they’re just in the same evolutionary family. They’re Hipparions.”
(Daniels) “Never heard of them. Cute, though…”
Enlightenment dawned! A, private investigator! He really hadn’t been expecting those! The academic researchers must have tried for weeks before they’d have given up and hired someone like that!
(Daniels) “Anyway, think he’d be interested in meeting with them? I don’t know too much about Berkley’s scientists, but they seemed really interested in the Sahara.”
Charles checked with Elzeard… Elzeard would indeed be interested in meeting with some scientists, although he made no promises on the length of his presentation (as in; it might be a while).
Well, there was no aging in Aden!
Elzeard was even willing to adopt a human appearance for it, but he wasn’t wearing a suit.
(Charles) “Well… I’ll see if I can’t arrange a lecture appearance or something, all right?”
(Daniels) “Thanks a lot. Here’s my card; call me when you get something done.”
There were a whole bunch of investigators, representing various research interests… and two or three biological journalists.
On the other hand… there was a relative shortage of CIA types, MIB, and Terrestrials…
Well, there was at least one, and maybe one or two more who were REALLY good at masking things.
(Aguerro, over Linking) “That man with the red hair… The one who looks like an ordinary tourist… I can feel the Wood Essence from this distance.”
Oh well! Charles angled over to talk to him next!
He was tall, well-built, and limber, rather formally dressed… and seemed friendly enough!
(Wood Aspect) “Hey, good afternoon! Everybody wants to talk to you for some reason.”
(Charles) “So it seems! Do you want to?”
(Wood Aspect) “Why not? Maybe we should sit over there.” He looks at a bench near the coat check.”
As they sat things suddenly got much quieter outside the area – a sure sign of privacy wards going up without a visible casting. It looked like… mental misdirection and sound muffling.
(Wood Aspect) “So. I’m Matthew Donelly, of the European House of the same name. I have a feeling you know what that means.”
Hm… That was… a British Wood Aspect house.
(Charles) “Only in rather general terms! But what’s up?”
(Wood Aspect) “My father sent me across the pond in hopes of finding you – which wasn’t easy at all, mind you. He was wondering about the device you and your friend constructed in the Sahara. More specifically, he was curious as to why the wards weren’t more… present.”
Matthew looked over his shoulder.
(Charles, curiously) “What, to keep everyone away from it?”
(Matthew) “Well… Yes. There wasn’t even a ward against visual detection on the place…”
(Charles) “There probably still isn’t; I rather suspect that it’s too late anyway, there are scientists practically camping there now – and Elzeard might object anyway.”
(Matthew) “Yes… well, that’s sort of a problem. I’m fairly certain you know, but some of the technology in there can’t be explained with mundane means.”
(Charles) “That’s hardly news you know; every serious scientist knows that there are lots of things around that they can’t explain.”
(Matthew) “Oh, I know, but they’re going to start experimenting with things in there, and they might discover things that…” (He wasn’t exactly stumbling, but he was onviously thinking rather carefully about what to say next.) “Father and I approve of what you’ve done, though we wish you had been more discreet about it. Some of our allies in Egypt want to talk to you about what you’ve done – future Wood Demesnes are rare finds for them. It’s just that others… have taken offense.”
(Charles, sighing) “Sadly, that was bound to happen – although Elzeard and some of the others are a bit impetuous about it. Things are going to be changing anyway though; they’d just be slower normally. “
(Matthew) “That region needed renewal anyway. I would just be careful around magitech devices, and regularly cast Private Plaza of Downcast Eyes for the next few months, if I were you. Can you cast that? I know people around here who could if you can’t. One of theirs is quite interested in this too.”
(Charles) “Well, I’d have to trade things around a bit… Ah, wait; I’ll just have one of the aides do it. I don’t spend too much time available anyway – although anyone who’s interested is welcome to come to talk.”
(Matthew) “He seemed to know who you were when I spoke with him, but wouldn’t go beyond that. I do hope our trouble from this doesn’t extend to his people – but I will let him know.”
Wait. Aides? The boy had aides capable of terrestrial circle sorcery? That was pretty uncommon among mortals!
(Matthew) “Aides? What sort of aides?”
(Charles) “Oh… the Coatl and Inukami and Noldor and Djinn and the rest.”
(Matthew) “I… those aren’t summoned servants, are they?”
Summoned servants? Oh, he meant demons!
(Charles) “No; those are cranky!”
Matthew stared for a moment. Mortals would NEVER call a demon cranky if they survived the encounter at all – and he’d never heard of elementals by those names.
(Charles) “There are a few around still I think, but they mostly just play video games…”
(Matthew) “Err… would you like some assistance?”
Not only had the demons not eaten him, they PLAYED VIDEO GAMES instead of doing so? That sealed it! But if he were a Terrestrial, he’d know that he shouldn’t be this blatant!
Charles had been considering; if his Guardians were intent on outing him, there was probably a good reason… And he probably couldn’t stop them anyway! He might as well go with it!
(Charles) “Uhm… Well… Oh why not? (He pulled open a door next to the cloakroom) if you’d step this way? We need a bit more privacy I think!”
(Matthew) “Uhm… all right. But that isn’t… oh, never mind.”
They stepped through into… a Hobbit tavern, with some Noldor having wine, several Hobbits comparing recipes, a Djinn in the corner discussing a little building work with some Humans, a unicorn sticking it’s head in the window to drink it’s beer, and a selection of other fantasy-type creatures.
(Charles) “I can probably tell you a little more now, then. Why not that footpath over there?”
He had to admit that the landscaping was splendid, with flowers in abundance – and the essence-flows of this place… Welcoming even casual visitors with healing, and long life, and every convenience…
Wait, “pretty much everyone here” – including all those mythic creatures wandering about – worked for this boy?
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXVII – Science and Sorcery (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXVI – Science and Sorcery (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session IL — The Sahara Sea (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – Elzeard Lifeshaper, Aden’s Fourteenth Soul (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice LIX – Explanations and Confusions (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LIII – Dun Shunkaha (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LII – Lytek’s Inspection (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session XLII — Laity and Lion Dogs (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session VLII – Deiphagy for the Connoisseur (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LVII – Aikiko’s Quest (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice LXIII – Traps and Recklessness (ruscumag.wordpress.com)