Leon was having a good time at the party, having just meddled in some poor up-and-coming director’s life, and that of his wife and kids! Fun for him and werewolves were fun as long as they were the “get a few helpful mutations and occasionally have to conceal your embarrasing hair growth and modest canine tendencies a few times each month!” kind! While he was in the mood he bestowed a few minor boons on people; increased attractiveness and acting ability mostly! Nothing too large, but a few minor tweaks were easy enough.
Then Oscar got a call.
(Oscar) “Hello… hey, how did you get this number? What?”
He motioned Leon into another warded area – so Leon cheerily “stopped the universe” again.
(Oscar) “Not too surprising… somebody actually realized it’s not normal for lion-men to appear on the Academy Awards. Thing is, it’s not any Sidereal I’ve run into – and it sounds like a KID.”
(Leon) “Well it IS fairly subtle! But what do they want?”
(Oscar) “I don’t know, but he wants to talk to you. I STILL don’t know how he got my number!” (He tapped his chin.) “I’ve got to track down how… Anyway, I’ll put you on the line.”
(Leon) “Well then, why not?” (On the phone) “And hello there! To what do I owe this pleasure?”
It really did sound like a teenage boy…
(Boy) “Heh, one sec… yeah, the name’s Dawei Chen. What was THAT all about? And how much do you charge for high school graduations?”
(Leon) “What was it about? Mostly just my arrival! As for high school graduations… if the thought amuses me, it’s free!”
(Dawei) “OK, I want to surprise everyone at graduation this year-get a little more excitement, anyway. How do you like pranks?”
(Leon) “Ah, Pranks can be quite entertaining! However… a word of advice! It is wise to check on just how serious the pranks might be! For young man… if you invite the Fair Folk to your parties… even the best among us find offense in oathbreaking, hubris, and other common faults, and mortals can find such offense in being turned into a horse or some such… Or are there some that you think that that would suit? There are many schools that are troubled by gangs, and delinquents, and such whom would not be missed!”
(Dawei) “Well, there’s this one jerk who used to give me swirlies. He can’t do that now, but I really want to rub it in to him and all his friends. I’d do it myself, but… it has an effect on me.”
(Leon, amused) “Ah, and what sort of “prank” do you think this foul one deserves?”
(Dawei) “Can you turn him into a toilet for a week?”
(Leon) “Of course! Still… do you care about his fate as long as it is humiliating and not actively painful or damaging?”
(Dawei) “Eh, not really. He’s ALWAYS been a jerk – and I can handle the less social end of hiding it, so you don’t have to worry about those things.”
(Leon) “Ah, then you do not really need me in person I think – but tell me where to find this young man and I can easily dispatch a minion to quietly collect him for his transformation!”
(Dawei) “Aw… I wanted to meet some other supernatural being! But okay. I’m in Sacramento, and I can get you his home address and where he works.”
He provided that information – and Leon dispatched one team of Raksha Warriors, with all their various gear and powers… that should suffice to snatch one obnoxious highschooler… They could take a black helicopter!
(Leon) “Well, perhaps I can drop by at some point when things are a bit less involved… And what kind of supernatural being are you?”
(Dawei) “Not sure. Things are pretty weird – I just know I can snatch data out of the air now, and I have this sweet underground cave full of whatever I can think up. Oh yeah… and I can make Neo look like a poser, too.”
(Leon) “Well now! So; you bend time, have a private world of your own – even if it isn’t very large – and have odd powers… If you leave me your number, I shall try to drop by I think! You sound most unusual!”
(Dawei) “Eh… I try to keep the number as hidden as possible. But… yeah, oaths. Swear to keep what I’m about to tell you secret?”
(Leon) “Hm… As long as it actually is a secret and you continue to keep it so! Tantalus got stuck that way… found out that he’d sworn to keep an entire city secret! What a pain!”
(Dawei) “Aw… how am I supposed to impress girls that way? I’ll just give you my number. That way, you can’t loophole me! And I’m pretty sure there’s some supernatural conspiracy that can find it anyway . . .”
(Leon) “Well, would you rather find that I was now obligated to capture every girl you gave it to and wipe it out of their minds?”
(Dawei) “Heh. Pretty sure I can just chat them up and take them to my place – and from there… What about email?”
(Leon) “What about it? You wish to give me an Email address? Perhaps one of those “blind drops”?”
(Dawei) “Yeah, I’ve got plenty of those.”
(Leon) “Was there anything else right now? There IS a party going on!”
(Dawei) “I think that’s everything… (more humbly) please, you’ve got to tell me more about other supernatural beings when you come. I’d appreciate it.”
(Leon) “Why not? It might be fun! Do have a good time! I certainly intend to!
(Leon, after hanging up and handing the phone back to Oscar) “I don’t think you need to worry; it’s some specialized power he has to know phone numbers I think! It may be targeting the dialing system instead of you, so it’s hard to resist… Hm! I wonder if he was trying for the Goddess Technical Assistance Help Line?”
(Oscar, shrugging) “Got me… or maybe he figured there was somebody pulling the strings, and just happened to yank my number… Hey, they’re popping open THAT bottle! Wood Aspects make great wine, you know. You’ve got to try it.”
(Leon) “And why not?”
It was a VERY good champagne, with a dry finish and a hint of oak. Subtle, but a pleasant drink!
(Oscar) “Not bad, for mortals. Now, if only I could get my hands on some celestial wine…”
(Leon) “Ah, now THAT can be done – and it’s considerably more aged too!”
He cheerily fished a dusty bottle out of the air and puffed the dust off it…. Interestingly, it had a VERY strange symbol on it – not the celestial emblem of present-day Yu-Shan, and not even the older symbol from the Age of Glory; the bottle was sealed with a seven pointed star, apparently made of flame – and emblem from lost Zen-Mu. Whether or not it was “genuine”, or even whether that question meant much when you pulled things from chaos, were just more questions…
(Oscar) “Wow.. . most of the ones who come here are either too weak for that one, or want ridiculous favors for it.”
(Leon) “But it’s a party!”
(Oscar) “And they’ve come to hobnob and politick, and have fun. But YOU . . . you just want to have fun and circulate!”
(Leon) “Ah well! I suspect that they need more things than I do!”
(Oscar) “So what’s your story… or is just running around, having fun with people and being impressive, it?”
(Leon) “Ah, I’m new to the area, and I think that there are a few things that need doing! Perhaps most importantly… there are some places that really need to be opened up to a little wonder and magic; they are so insular now that they would reject what is coming as petty rulers attempt to cling to their insignificant local power!”
(Oscar) “I can think of several places like that, off the top of my head . . . most of them are pretty far from here!”
(Leon) “Well, as I said… this ceremony was a convenient gate!”
(Oscar) “And come back next year… just a little quieter! I’m pretty sure that kid wasn’t the only one who noticed.”
(Leon) “Well, perhaps I will! There does seem to be a most plentiful supply of pretties such as these (indicating the two he’s towing around) about!
And there were toasts with Celestial Wine.
After the party he was off! First to pick up some interns/assistants/aides/attendants, then to research, then to check around to see if there’s any other major supernatural presence there…
Leon did try the camera – although he kind of suspected that it didn’t really show the future, but only what some Sidereal wanted to show you. He still had to select someplace though – so he decided that he would do the research and pick this week, and then leave a large sign with his choice printed on it right THERE next week – and tried taking a picture of the spot! That way he should be able to find out what he would have come up with without doing all that work! And he’d get to see if the camera did paradoxes!
Hm… It said “the United Kingdom”. That seemed pretty unlikely! The United Kingdom was more or less a democracy and didn’t NEED a god-king!
He did the research – and wound up picking Saudi Arabia, which badly needed a monarch better than the one it had at the moment… Perhaps the picture had been a Sidereal trying to direct him toward the United Kingdom’s plentiful Wyld zones, where a Raksha could do many things without impacting the mortal planet? Not that it mattered…
On the supernatural presences front Leon was mostly checking events and news looking for oddities. There were bound to be some god-bloods and such, and the local gods would be above that – but they mostly didn’t interfere directly. What he was worried about was a dragon-blooded clan, or some lunatic abyssal, or some such operating in the area – which should show at least some signs…. Sure, he was more powerful than most – and he had quite a lot of minions – but someone else might well have the same idea!
Hm… There WAS more deathly Essence in the region than would be expected, and, with the recent troubles with the energy industry and the harshness of the local laws an increase in deaths would be expected, but… usually the pattern would not be people heading into Mecca and Medina for the hajj. That was blatantly disrespectful of that vital institution. Was somebody mining the area?
Besides, he was feeling a definite draw there… there was certainly a suitable role open! Was it time for Gilgamesh to return?
The Saudia Arabian government had been attempting to suppress it of course. Not only was it a threat to the economy, which was already suffering, but the implications for the monarchy’s ability to protect Islam’s most sacred sites were not good! Still, discontent was high; the Internet was available there, and reports had been leaking out. Most of the victims had been found in their accommodations, dead in their beds. Coroners were only able to determine “heart failure” for the cause of death, and there were no signs of entry in many cases.
Meanwhile, his mission team had lurked for a day or so to make sure that they had the right one – humans looked so much alike! – and then had swooped in and scooped up their target with little difficulty. He’d been on his way home from work at some fast food fish place. That was amusing!
(Leon) “Hey kid! How old are you and what did your name used to be?”
(Kid) “Kenny… what do you mean, USED TO BE? And why are you dressed like a lion? You look like a dork.”
(Leon) “Hey, I’ll rename you to suit myself! You really are a young dimwit aren’t you? Any preferences for what I should do with you? I hope you’re bright enough to know that “being set free” is not on the list!”
(“Kenny”) “Uh… oh, crap. L-listen, you can’t hold me hostage for long! My dad owns a dealership!”
(Leon) “A “dealership”? What does he deal in? And Hostage? For what? Why should I care what your father does? You’ve been given to me as an offering… Would you like to be a horse? You seem healthy and in good shape; you’d make a nice one! Possibly even worth breeding!”
(“Kenny”) “L-look, I can get you totally sweet deals on a new car… I don’t want to be a horse!”
(Leon) “Ah! You have some wisdom, and are looking past the surface… You realize that I COULD easily turn you into a horse! That’s something! I’ll tell you what! Allow me to drain your will with no further resistance, and in a year I shall consider whatever talents you’ve shown and possibly promote you out of the “slave” category… And know that you are being offered great kindness in that, simply because the one who offered you to me might be something of a peer, and might come to regret his actions later – in which case it would ease his mind to know that I hadn’t done anything TOO horrible to you!”
(“Kenny”) “Oh, that little – okay, wait, you want to drain my will? Like, make me a zombie?”
(Leon) “Simply obedient for a time! Or would you, perhaps, rather serve in the kennels?”
(“Kenny”) “N-no… draining is fine.”
(Leon, cheerily slurping down his will) “There now! That wasn’t so bad was it my young slave?”
(“Kenny”) “No, Master!”
(Leon) “Ah good! Now strip down – good – here’s your collar, put it on – good – and lets get you fixed and changed into a cat-boy to match! Good! Now, you serve well and show off whatever talents you’ve got, and I may promote you later on! Got that… uhm… Felix?”
(Felix) “Okay, Master!”
(Leon) “Good boy! Go get me a glass of the 62 red, and then heel!”
And he did, quite appropriately!
(Leon) “Very good! Nice to see that youngsters CAN be brought nicely to heel these days!”
(Felix) “I can also stand on my hands…”
(Leon) “Ah? Athletic are you? Perhaps later; you have a goblet to hold when I’m not using it right now!”
(Felix) “Okay, Master!”
Felix got quick pat on the head, which made him smile – and Leon decided to call Aikiko… She’d had recent experience with Abyssals – and killing people on a pilgrimage… they were very strongly expecting an afterlife, not Lethe – so they probably made good strong ghosts, and possible soulsteel fodder. And weren’t some abyssals wanting a lot of that stuff right now? So she had recent experience… besides, he had some information that she might want! Besides… young Felix made a nicely pliable slave – he hadn’t even triedd to ARGUE – and so sending a supernatural being to meet the donor might work very well!
(Aikiko) “Hello, Aikiko speaking… huh, you’re a new voice… And a new face, too! What’s up?”
(Leon) “Hello there Aikiko! I’m Leon – although I may soon be going by Lord Gilgamesh – and I’d like to talk to you about some potential problems in your line in the Middle East!”
(Aikiko) “That’s not good! Not that I care for that place, but that could cause all kinds of bad things! You really think someone’s that daring to harvest on Earth? And what if there are demesnes there? All that death . . . I think it would shift them if enough people died.”
(Leon) “Definitely a problem! Now… You’re very good at this “investigation” stuff and you have contacts which I do not; if I move into the area I will doubtless find both opposition and assistance… I would like to obtain your evaluation as to what I’m likely to run into. It might compliment my own evaluation nicely!”
(Aikiko) “Okay… how soon did you want that? I’m currently investigating strange events in London.”
(Leon) “Oh, I will have some preparations to make – but with people dying in such a way, I would hope to start within a week or two at most!”
(Aikiko) “Okay… I don’t think this will take much longer, so I’ll get started on these killings as soon as possible. Hopefully… no more than two or three days.”
(Leon) “And I may have something for you… (since he hadn’t been asked to swear after all) a youngster with a a magical “private cave” “filled with whatever he wants” who has powers over time and computers, but does not feel able to handle simple bullying from another mortal child personally…”
(Aikiko) “Wait, what? Really? Where was this?”
(Leon) “Well, I can tell you the school – Felix, where were you going to school? – and give you an Email contact… I shall send him one myself first, to tell him that I’ve found someone he might like to meet!”
(Aikiko) “Okay, thanks . . .”
(Felix) “St. Francis, Master!”
(Leon) “And in what city Felix?”
(Felix) “Sacramento, California!”
Felix got another pat on the head and purred nicely! A natural cat there! No doubt he’d also enjoy chasing pieces of rope. That should certainly satisfy young Dawei…
Aikiko hadn’t drawn much attention with her phone. For all the quasi-medevial styling, there were plenty of cell phones about – even if the coverage was a bit iffy without some boosting. That was a good thing; that could have been awkward. She needed a few minutes to consider that call very carefully indeed anyway! That fellow had known things that only she, Charles, and Lytek ought to know right now! Who was “Leon”, how had he gotten her number, and how did he know who she was? And who was that cat-boy in the background?
Throwing in some of her special resources… that had obviously been a Raksha and a mutated animal-boy. Since the boy had been going to school on earth, the mutations were probably very recently induced. The slave-collar tended to confirm that. From his being asked to say where he came from, he was very likely the “bully that the possible-young-guardian couldn’t bring himself to deal with. Now he was obviously a Raksha slave – although “Leon” seemed to be kind enough to pet his slaves and the boy wasn’t in any pain or anything. Still, that was… a bit darker than what she’d expect from a Guardian. She couldn’t see Charles being quite so… petty.
She called Charles. He needed to know about this too!
(Charles) “Oh, Hello Aikiko! Is something up, or is this just sociable?”
(Aikiko) “Um… I just got a call from a Raksha. about possible Abyssal activity in Saudi Arabia.”
(Charles) “Er… Well, I can see why a Raksha wouldn’t like that – but intending to go and do something HIMSELF? That’s… not like a normal Raksha anyway! What was he like?”
(Aikiko) “Really decadent, but seemed like a nice guy. Oh yeah: and he apparently ran into a Guardian too. Or… talked to him, at least. The Guardian gave him some guy who was bullying him.”
(Charles, looking quite startled) “But… how would he KNOW about them? I’m pretty sure that I haven’t discussed it with anyone, much less a Raksha – and you probably haven’t, and Lytek is REALLY unlikely to! Did he actually call whoever it is a Guardian?”
(Aikiko) “Well… you’ve made Raksha, right? Maybe one got out of the Mardi Gras Manse? And no, he didn’t say ‘Guardian,’ but the description matched.
(Charles) “Well… yeah, but I haven’t TOLD them about any secrets! That certainly SOUNDS like it – but it still brings up… how he knew to call YOU. You’re not exactly famous or infamous! Especially not among the Raksha!”
(Aikiko) “I don’t know, maybe Mechagodzilla is trying to help my career?”
(Charles) “Erg… That makes no sense!”
(Aikiko) “Well… ah! Isn’t Aden made from your whims – conscious and subconscious?”
That head-tilt, and the speech-patterns, had seemed awfully familiar! And there’d been more than a hint of tawny gold there too.
(Aikiko) “I bet you accidentally made a raksha, like you made that Underworld-communication Manse when you were tired. He was acting a LOT like you in some ways.”
(Charles) “But decadent? I’m not decadent, and I don’t just… take people and enslave them as a rule! And just because someone ELSE was annoyed with him? None of my Guardians act like that!… Well… maybe Elzeard a little, but that’s just because he’s more oriented towards species than individuals!”
(Aikiko) “Maybe you put all your suppressed urges in there – and since you didn’t want to express them, you didn’t put them in something linked to Aden. You work too much to be decadent!”
(Charles) “Erg… Well, I DO use an awful lot of wyld energies and shape a LOT of things… At least he seems to mean to help people a bit if he’s worried about murders and abyssals. I suppose that’s something! He’s either overconfident or he has a lot more power than the usual Raksha though!”
(Aikiko, sighing) “Also like you, in some ways… I bet a little of it rubbed off!”
(Charles) “Well, if he knows that much of what I know – at least what isn’t shielded by the privacy manse – he may have a lot of other unusual resources too… Erm… He might be pretty decadent, and wild, and inclined to just take over, and to confront problems instead of trying to subvert or get around them though… (Sigh) not that there aren’t a lot of plain humans who are pretty decadent too.”
(Aikiko) “Well… HEY! You don’t think he’d really try to take over there… he said he would be Gilgamesh soon.”
(Charles) “Erg… well, I certainly wouldn’t! So, if he IS my suppressed urges… he very well might! He’d want to be a god-king – and Gilgamesh… certainly fits!”
(Aikiko) “I’m not sure how I feel about that. We’re not sure what he’s going to DO with all those people, if he wants to pull off a coup.”
(Charles) “Well… from what you said… he’s treating the boy as a pet. Now… I’ve got some who are being treated that way, but it’s because they can’t live on their own. I’d guess that… he’d treat anywhere he took over as his personal property – and try to build it into a glorious reflection of himself.”
(Aikiko) “I guess that’s not as bad as trying to make it the perfect Islamic state.”
(Charles) “Well, considering how some of the Islamic states act… I’ve been kind of worried about what’s going to happen when the gates open anyway!”
(Aikiko) “Ugh… it’d be anarchy, and a lot of finger pointing.”
(Charles) “Well, he hasn’t done anything TOO bad yet…”
(Aikiko) “So I guess watch and help him out if he continues that, then. Oh yeah, about that… I need a stone of gender change if I’m going to Saudi Arabia.”
(Charles) “I suppose so! There are too many major threats doing horrible things to worry about one Raksha who’s treating mishebaving youngsters as pets. Well… Shall I try to look into the possible-guardian a little later?”
(Aikiko) “Yeah, sure… if he’s doing stuff like that, he might need your help.”
(Charles) “Well.. he might just not have thought it through! Bullies can be REALLY upsetting… Anyway… how’s England? I hear that they have more ghosts and Raksha around than America does!”
(Aikiko) “Oh, it’s interesting… they’ve got stronger connections between the Wyld pockets than us. It’s like a whole other country!”
(Charles) “Huh! That… must have taken them a LOT of work unless they were somehow linked up already.”
(Aikiko) “Maybe the rumors about the British Isles being fey are true, and the whole area was in the Deep Wyld before Gaia reshaped things . . . isn’t distance funny the farther you get in there?”
(Charles) “Very! In a lot of ways… it doesn’t even exist; trips work by telling stories about travel, rather than actually moving.”
(Aikiko) “Huh… sounds like how I got to this fair.” (She told the story.)
(Charles) “Hrm! That sounds like a rather high level of wyld energies there!”
(Aikiko) “Maybe there’s still a connection to the Deep Wyld or Pure Chaos, somewhere in there.”
(Charles) “Huh… That… could be kind of dangerous. Still, there are worse things out there. Well… is there anything you need right now? I’m trying to sort out fixing Yu-Shan, but I can’t think of much that would help in that offhand.”
(Aikiko) “Eh, I’ll need a stone of gender change for Saudia Arabia, like I said… no way am I wearing a burqa. Other than that, though . . . I’m doing fine at the moment!”
(Charles) “Hrm… Well, I think I’ve got one around somewhere… Come to think of it, I’ve never figured out how THAT got into the que; it’s not like they have all that many uses!”
(Aikiko) “Maybe somebody else was going someplace really sexist.”
(Charles) “Well maybe! But you can certainly have it… Things have been getting weird enough around here without that!
(Aikiko) “Thanks! And it seems like it, if you’re making raksha without even knowing it.”
(Charles) “Well… Hey, you’ve got a Satyr – or is it a Faun? – along! Those are actually roaming around in England these days?”
(Aikiko) “Yeah, he’s a few centuries old!”
(Samelin) “237 Lady!”
(Aikiko) “Ah, my mistake.”
(Samelin, after a moment of puzzlement) “Er… yers Mi’Lady, not centuries! Sorry!”
(Amelia) “Huh! If he was 237 CENTURIES old he’d be WAY too powerful to keep as a slave so easily!”
(Aikiko) “Isn’t time screwy around here anyway? I’m not sure it matters.”
(Samelin) “Tis fas sametimes an slew sametimes, an sametimes kips or ads a myte – byt yers in t edgerows is usual petty close to yers byond MiLady!”
(Charles) “Slave is it? Oh well…”
Aikiko’s package arrived shortly – and contained a dozen resplendent butlers accouterments and two sashes/sets of commando armor, along with the stone of gender change.
(Aikiko) “These are handy; you should both put them on.”
(Amelia) “Uhrm… which mistress? And what do they do?”
(Aikiko) “The sashes!”
She explained about them and the collars. If they wanted to wear the collars after she explained them, they could go right ahead… it wasn’t like they were that bad, even if they were nigh-indestructible and hard to remove.
(Amelia) “Oh! Yes My Lady!”
Even if she was rather boggled at the level of wealth that putting magical artifacts on your slaves implied. Had this been a good deal after all?
(Samelin, with a curious mixture of nervousness, wistfulness, and disbelief) “Er… tey cure prety much EVERTHIN? An I cn relly use one?”
(Aikiko) “Why of…. wait, you have something wrong with you?”
(Samelin) “Ell… t ful satyrs don preciate yxtra boys abut, so Fathr kut me hen I was yng, long afore I was sole. Id… ned m mastres sy-so wouldn I?”
(Aikiko) “Would you be able to control yourself if I allowed it?”
(Samelin, sadly) “I don relly kno MiLady! I wose eight!”
(Aikiko) “Well, if you wait a while longer… I plan to take both of you to a place where you won’t have to worry about a lot of things. But don’t spread that around, OK?”
(Samelin, happily) “Ys MiLady!” (Amelia, nervously) “Er… where?”
After all… if you were sold or transformed into something… you didn’t need to worry about much any longer!
(Aikiko) “My friend’s got his own chancel where he takes in needy people.”
(Amelia) “One of the fair folk Mistress? Does he do oaths?”
(Aikiko) “Er… I’m not entirely sure what he is, but I don’t think it’s unless he feels the need to.”
Amelia wasn’t so sure about being that trusting – but it wasn’t like she had any choice.
And they were almost at the edge of the fairgrounds – and there were some rules posted…
- All bargains and pacts must be fully explained.
- Enchantments and transformations must end when the fair is over!
- Theft will be severely punished – as will be short-changing, lightweight or mislabeled inferior goods, and other cheats.
- Fully-explained bargains are, however, final! (Even if you were an idiot or drunk)
- Plaids are not permitted, and intentionally attempting to sell them at the fair may call for the death penalty.
- Crocodile-styling is also banned, on pain of being thrown into lock ness.
- No motorized vehicles.
- Please set cell phones and electronics to vibrate or silent mode while attending musical performances.
- Chips are free, fish is potluck.
- No Demon-Summoning without the permission of the Fairwards.
- No Polka Music.
- For the protection of the food merchants businesses, no faliboxting.
- Violence is prohibited unless mutually agreed to and supervised by the fairwards. Violaters will be punished according to the whims of the goblin king.
- Abandoned children too young to care for themselves will be taken in by the Fairwards. If not claimed by the end of the fair, they go to the slave market.
- Failure to Pay is considered theft.
- Anyone adding to these rules will be severely beaten.
No polka music? Aw! Still, she should have known better than to expect all the rules to make rational sense… what did they have against plaids though? And would the Goblin King bear a coincidental resemblance to David Bowie?