Hassan, to whom the Finding Bag was pointing, was sitting leaned over on a computer desk in the public library. He looked weak, and Frankie could tell even without her Morbid Reality that he was in rough shape, likely malnourished. The look on his face was dire, and the smell that was wafting off of him was sickening. So sickening, that no patron dared approach him, or even be anywhere near him. There were layers of clothes on his skinny figure, and his skin was pallid, despite the darker tones. His hands were typing furiously despite his state, and his eyes were intent. He was looking for something, and his focus was intense.
A public library is a weird place to find a dead body. It's also a weird place for someone green and purple with black veins to hang out without being noticed. The library attracts all kinds, but even that's a little out there. Besides, some patron or another would complain.
The idea that Hassan is actually alive is kind of amazing, and when Frankie pokes her head around the paperback romance aisle and sees him sitting at the computer, she blinks. She also looks a little odd with her Finding trinket in one hand, but that's more regular library odd. Her crow, Norbert (don't ask) is also accompanying her. He is presently making little cold spots in the library, flapping from the top of one shelving unit to the other. Spying Hassan, the ghostly crow flutters over to his computer and perches on the monitor. "CAW," it says.
Frankie approaches. "Hassan Mohammed? I've been looking for you. Can I speak with you?" She holds up the little baggie, then pockets it.
The moment the crow landed on his monitor, Hassan fell back in his chair, toppling over backwards. "Gah!" He yelped in surprise. When Frankie announced herself, Hassan picked himself up with surprising agility, putting his back to the table, hands out to defend himself. "Don't come near me!" He said fearfully, an apprehensive look on his face. "Who are you?"
"Frankie," she says, holding her hands up and glancing about. She doesn't need to worry too much. People are weird in the library all the time. She also doesn't come any closer. "I've been looking into a bunch of missing Bound that I'm guessing are your crew. You're the only one still alive." She pauses. "Well, still alive in a normal sense." Also, he smells terrible. Her eyebrow goes up. Thankfully, one thing that came along with Crow was a tolerance for things like carrion smells. So she basically doesn't lose her lunch, though she's not comfortable.
Hassan took a sideways glance in each direction, just to make sure there weren't others. "Other missing Bound? Wait...they're all dead? What do you mean? Frankie, was it?" The man still didn't drop his hands, keeping them up just in case. There was a wild look to him, almost like an animal that hadn't been fed.
Norbert the crow has hopped away from Hassan and perched himself on Frankie's shoulder. "Sarah and Francis are dead-dead," she says quietly, glancing about for eavesdroppers. But Hassan's smell seems to have taken care of those. "Jasdeep and Hugh are... it's hard to explain. I think it's basically just their bodies walking around and something else is in them." She folds her arms across her stomach. "You really don't look well. Where have you been? Do you want, like... some food or something?"
Hassan appears dismayed for a few seconds, his arms dropping down slightly, his shoulders slumping at the mention his friends were dead, or worse. Shaking his head, he took a deep breath. "I'm looking for Franklin or Cobalt. I was being held prisoner in this place, that crazy fucking ghost-bitch torturing me. She brought a friend along, and she set me free. Told me to find Franklin or Cobalt, that they were two Bound I could trust." He looked Frankie up and down, pausing as he did so. His eyes narrowed, and his arms dropped to his sides fully. "What's your stake in this?" While he looked like he desperately needed food, he was clearly putting that off to the side to try and figure Frankie out.
"Franklin or Cobalt?" Frankie pauses, blinking. "Are you sure you want Cobalt?" She shakes her head. "Nevermind. I can probably get you in touch with Franklin. As for me, well... Twilight Network says Bound have disappeared, I look into it. Someone has to, right? It sounds like you've run afoul of the West End Watchers."
Hassan's eyebrow lifted. "The West End...no. Not them. Something else. They'd make sure people knew it was them, and they act different. You were looking for me the whole time?" A little confusion was displayed, but he otherwise dropped his guard entirely. "Fuckers took me, ambushed me in my cab. I don't know if they're watching right now. You wanna talk, I have a story to tell you, but we need to find somewhere safe. Ears and eyes are everywhere. And what's wrong with this Cobalt?"
"He's kind of a dick," Frankie explains, brow furrowed. She stuffs her hands into her pockets, inclining her head. "I've been looking for you for a while. Your family's probably worried, too. I have a lot of questions. As for safe... I don't know." She chews her bottom lip. "I guess we can go to the Grind." She may regret bringing him there. At least, if someone or something is following him.
Hassan didn't laugh when Frankie mentioned he was 'kind of a dick'. In fact, he had little reaction at all. "You're not after my research, are you? Cause you ain't going to get nothing from me. Not until I know you're not one of his lackeys...The Grind. That...sounds good. They have coffee there, right?"
Frankie nods. "Yeah. It's kind of their thing. I think we can walk from here." She glances at his computer. "You can finish whatever it is you're doing first. I can wait, if necessarily.
"CAW," says Norbert.
Hassan shook his head. "No. I was just looking for contact information on Franklin and Cobalt. Ting said they were famous, so I figured it would be easy to get a hold of their info. We can go. I hope you don't mind, but I think I left my wallet at home...is that a ghost crow?" He asked, slowly making steps towards the exit. He didn't look like he could stand very well, let alone walk. Apparently, his quick reaction and agility displayed moments before only temporary.
"Yup, he's a ghost crow. He's my partner, kind of," Frankie confirms, frowning for a moment. She shrugs when he says he doesn't have his wallet, and starts with Hassan toward the door. "Franklin's an author and Cobalt's a musician, so yeah, I guess they are famous. I have no earthly idea what a Ting is. What were you researching? Are you sure it wasn't the West End Watchers, because research sounds like knowledge which sounds like something the Sage would be interested in."
"Ting. She's the woman who saved me. She seemed a little off...but I have to help her. You...don't drive, do you? I...don't think I can walk too far right now..." He said, pausing at the door to rest for a few moments. "West End Watchers and the Sage. Yeah, I know their MO. But it wasn't them, I know it. MO is different. And I sure as hell ain't gonna tell you what I was doing till I know me and my family are safe."
"I drive, but I walked here," Frankie tells Hassan, reaching up to rub the back of her head. It dislodges the crow, who flaps into the air and pecks her hand. "Ow. Fucker." She is talking to the crow. "Your family is fine as far as I know, but I don't expect you to take my word for it. Were you close to Hugh? The safest place I can think of to go is his place, since he's got a whole wad of ghosts protecting his daughter. But his wife doesn't know anything about this stuff."
Hassan nodded weakly. "Yeah, sounds like Hugh. I'd like to contact my wife, tell her to go meet up with the Levine's. Probably safest there, and they know each other. We're good friends, me and Hugh. Were, I guess. You've really been making your rounds, haven't you?" He eyed the crow as it poked at Frankie, unsure of what to make of it. "You got a phone at least?"
"You have no idea," Frankie says with a bit of a sigh. Frankie's got two jobs, man. Barista and gumshoe. She reaches into her pocket to produce her smartphone, thumbs it on, and hands it over to him. Norbert just eyes Hassan back. He opens his beak wide, and it looks like he's about to CAW again, but he just shuts his trap. Maybe he's just fucking with them.
Hassan takes the phone, and immediately dials his wife's number. He huddles over the phone, mumbling into it in another language Frankie couldn't understand. He was speaking /fast/, but she'd be able to understand his tone. It was the first time the man had spoken to his significant other in a long time. He was experiencing joy, but at the same time, he was fearful for their safety. After the conversation was had, Hassan hung up, tears welling up in his eyes. "Thanks. Here, can you call a cab while I rest on that bench over there? I'm...not up to standing. Or walking. I need...to rest." He said, handing the phone back to Frankie.
Frankie nods, calling up the contact info for a cab company. She walks with Hassan back to the bench, however, even though she doesn't sit down next to him. When the cab's been summoned, dials another number. "Idina, this is Frankie. I found one of the Missing, and he's asked for Franklin. Or Cobalt, but let's just go for Franklin. Get in touch with me as soon as possible. Thanks." The message finished, she swipes her phone off again and regards Hassan. The crow, in the meantime, has hopped off her shoulder and is regarding a sign on the bench. YOU JUST PROVED BENCH ADVERTISING WORKS!
Frankie says, "I'm glad you're alive. I'd just about given up on finding any of you safe. Can you tell me about this person or ghost or whatever that was holding you?"
Hassan put his face into his hands, leaning forward on the bench. "Yeah...she was...strange. I've never seen a ghost that can do the things she did. Aside from that, she was looney-bin crazy. Real, legitimate, crazy. Francis knew more about them than I did. I guess she was one of five. Said they were the God-Eaters five Horsemen, the heralds of death. She /reeked/ of death. I caught her name too. Jessica Toys. Fucking bitch...she was pumping me full of drugs the entire time. Breaking my bones. Cutting me. Making sure I was too weak to utilize my manifestations. I was...I don't know how long I've been gone. She...she walked around. Physical, like she was flesh and blood, but it was weird. I would always sense Numen in use when she was around, even if she wasn't doing anything but talking. Needles came through her fingers, knives, hammers..." Hassan shuddered. The more he spoke about her, the more his head shook. "This Ting woman, she came in pretty much holding hands with her. I...don't know what her game-plan was, but she healed me, tricked Jessica, and helped me escape."
"God-Eaters?" Frankie repeats, blinking. "I've heard that before. One of the ghosts at Hugh's place said something about a God-Eater... coming for him?" She pauses. "Shit. I still haven't told Rebecca about her father." She rakes her hair back from her face, wincing. "It's complicated. I suppose technically I didn't find him... He's somewhere in L.A., or he was somewhere in L.A., at least. He killed two members of a hunting Krewe out there. A guy that was there said they thought he was a homunculus."
Hassan pulled his face out of his hands and he looked to Frankie. "This is bad. Very, very bad. He's got those five ghosts, /and/ homunculi? Wait...shouldn't it be obvious it was a homunculus? It's not like they look like regular people. But...out in L.A.? What the hell?" It was apparent that Hassan was confused. "God-Eater. That's what Francis called him. He's the guy who came to see me one day, to try and pry information from me. He was...frightening. I can't describe it. Like he's...beyond our capabilities."
"Is a homunculus green and purple with black veins? Because then it was a homunculus, and Jasdeep is a homunculus, too." Frankie pauses, thumbs her phone again and dials in another contact number. "Hang on."
"Yeah, I found Hassan. Listen, can you swing by the public library and pick us up? Good." Frankie glances over again, shrugs. "Called Damian. He helped me break into your place to get something for the Finding ceremony." She pauses. "Sorry about that. I made sure your family wasn't home."
Hassan nodded. "I would have done the same in your place. Thank you for not involving my family." He remarked, a relieved breath released. "So why were you trying so hard to find me in the first place? Me and the others."
Frankie gives him a bit of a funny look. "Our Lingualis Mortis has been keeping an eye out for sudden disappearances ever since the West End Watchers became a problem. Anything that takes out five Bound is going to be a problem sooner or later. Unless you did something specific to piss whatever these things are off, problems like this tend to spread."
Hassan put his face back into his hands. "Right. I suppose that would make sense. What was that guy's name...Deckard, was it? Unusual fellow to be the Lingualis Mortis. Then again, I'm one to talk. But we didn't piss him off. I'm not entirely sure of his motives, but I know for sure that he wants what I have. It's the only reason I'm not with my friends right now. I've been fighting so hard to keep it from slipping out. You have no idea the things they pumped into me."
"Deckard, right," Frankie says. The crow pecks at the bench, then stills. "Who's 'he'? The one who wants what you have?"
"He. The God-Eater. Jessica called him 'Eckhart', but I know that's not his real name. She just believes everything he tells her, because she's fucking crazy. I couldn't see his face, or any of his features. He was covered head to toe in bandages, and had a silver mask. When he came...flies. They were everywhere. Buzzing. He was after my research, and he gave Jessica the stuff to inject into my veins..." He visibly shuddered at the mention of it. "It was unlike any pain I've ever experienced. It was unreal. The bastard said he made it himself, and he tried to intimidate me. Get me to love him. He used illusions for...days? I lost track of time. He used everything on me. It was...harrowing. I didn't know if Ting was an illusion when she came. I'm still having trouble..."
Hassan is sitting on a bench outside the public library. Frankie's crow buddy is sitting on the back of the bench, looking crowish. Frankie stands by the bench, talking to Hassan.
Hassan has looked a lot better. He's looking pale, even given his darker complexion. Pale and malnourished. Also? He reeks. He stinks big-time.
It’s not much of a call Frankie has to make, the moment she tells Damian she has Hassan, he’s on the way. He seems like such a straight shooter, a little awkward, your typical computer nerd, yet he must have risked several tickets to get to the library in the time he does. They can hear the Silver BMW M3 roaring down the road about as soon as they can see it. Yeah he’s still speed a little. Everything he’s brought with him, including his laptop, for once, is in his trunk. He’s prepared for anything though. ANYTHING. He notices Frankie and the bird a touch late, and it makes his stopping cause a bit of screeching tires as he hits the brakes. Probably concerned about what might be happening, he seems a little relieved when everything looks calm. The driver side door opens, but he only gets out enough to look over the roof at the two, a curious gaze going Frankie’s way. Like asking her for some sort of explanation.
Frankie shrugs a shoulder in response to Damian's unasked question. "I did the Finding. He was at the library. He just got rescued by someone named 'Ting' who pointed him toward Franklin or Cobalt. Hassan, this is Damian. Damian, Hassan. We can hit a drive-through on the way to Hugh's place, if you want, Hassan. You want shotgun or the back seat?"
Upon Damian's arrival, Hassan just looked up. He didn't appear to have the energy to hop up like he did earlier in the library. "I sure hope you both aren't just elaborate illusions." It was a remark that was heavily steeped in defeat, Hassan letting his face drop into his hands once more. "Please. The drive through. Backseat. I just...am so tired."
Damian nods, but Damian can’t fully hide his surprise. “Who’s Ting?” He doesn’t really direct that question at either of them in particular. “And rescued from what?” Oh he can guess to some degree, but details are important. They both likely here the *beep beep* of his car doors unlocking. Despite his expensive car, he seems unfazed by letting the filthy Hassan climb in. A nod the man’s way when he’s introduced. A long, long study of him, as if he thinks Hassan might be some sort of trick. Maybe looking for the telltale black veins or the like. Finally, he meets the man’s gaze. ‘I hope you’re not an illusion. I’m glad you’re not...I’m glad you’re okay.” That seems pretty sincere from Damian. “Someone fill me in on what you can?” With that he motions to the passenger side.
Frankie claims shotgun, because someone has to or else Damian looks like an Uber driver. "I think we'd better start from the beginning. Can you start us off while we head for a drive-through, Hassan?"
As Hassan climbed into the backseat of Damian's ride, he just nodded weakly. "Yeah...yeah, I can start. And thank you stranger. I'm about as okay as I can be right now." Once he was in, he leaned back against the seat, spreading his arms out across the headrests. Not worried at all about a seatbelt, Hassan's head fell loosely back until that too was resting against the seat, his gaze on the roof, his expression blank.
"It started a while ago. Francis and Sarah, the found something. Between the lines. They were really good at that kind of stuff. While Jasdeep, Hugh and I were busy with our work, those two, they worked out the chaos theory, followed the clues. We weren't the first ones to go missing. They didn't tell us much, since there wasn't much to tell, but they figured out some sort of pattern. This God-Eater fellow, he's been doing these things for a long time. Francis and Sarah, they figured it out too late that he was already here. Me too I guess. I didn't know what hit me till I felt the needle pierce my skin. When I woke up, this ghost, Jessica Toys, she tried to interrogate me. She was fucking insane, and I hope I never see her again. I was tied up...and I couldn't manifest anything. She wanted to know about my research, but I didn't budge. I had no idea who she was. Until that 'Eckhart' guy came along, I didn't know anything. I was hidden in a building in the forest I guess, some sort of abandoned 'recovering addicts getaway'. The God-Eater, he was that man. He was...on a different level. I know how tough Francis and Hugh were. They weren't pushovers, but I knew the moment Frankie told me they were dead that he killed them. He did things...I...eventually, he left. He left his White Horseman to continue torturing me, that fucking whore. And then...just yesterday, she came back with a friend. It was strange...her age, I couldn't pin it down. You both know how we can see things to the exact second, right? I couldn't see that with her. Like...she was /about/ ten years old one moment, then /about/ two hundred. She tricked Jessica, and helped me escape. Ting was her name, and she's the one who told me to find Franklin or Cobalt."
Damian’s already climbing back into the driver’s seat as the get in. “And what drive through do you want?” After all, a man as disheveled as him should, at least, be able to pick his poison, so to speak. He starts the vehicle up, putting his seatbelt on, and then starts driving the second everyone is secure inside. His eyes stay on the driving, or peeking at Frankie, or at Hassan through the rearview mirror. At Hassan, or maybe at the traffic behind him, like he thinks someone might be following them. He just might be overly cautious now. Hassan is precious cargo. He listens intently. No music on, air conditioner really low and windows rolled up. He wants no distractions, no interference. He also doesn’t follow a pattern in his driving, taking odd turns, like he’s losing a tail he doesn’t have. Real cautious. But when Hassan mentions his research, it clicks. “Fuck me…” His car swerves slightly and it’s the first time anyone has heard him swear. He’s mad at himself. He’s poured over all the research he did. Over and over. Hassan’s research stuck out, but until Hassan confirms it just now, the pieces didn’t fall into place. Something Deckard said. “I knew it…” He gives Frankie a meaningful and concerned look. Glancing once more behind him at Hassan he nods. “I think I’m getting the picture.” He doesn’t know who Ting is, but he adds. “Obviously Cobalt or Franklin know who Ting is. They might have more. I’m glad you got away though.” Finally, after a maze, he finds a high quality burger joint to drive through. Pulling into the parking lot.
The ghost crow hops onto the backseat by Hassan. Frankie listens to Hassan and Damian both, finally shaking her head. "I don't get it. The research about Geist? What did you find that was so important?" Her brow furrows - she looks cranky, but it's not aimed at either of them in particular.
Hassan rolled his head back and forth. "I don't care. Any food will do. Just...anywhere." He commented to Damian. When they were finally parked, the two other Sin-Eaters would be easily able to tell his mouth was watering. "I found something that I ain't gonna tell you, that's for sure. Not until my family and I are with Hugh's wife and child. When I know we have some protection. When we are safe."
"The Sage wants a vessel in this world," Frankie says, pretty much to herself. She glances from Damian to Hassan in the rear-view mirror and then back. "So... the West End Watchers follow the Sage," she says, slowly. "But Hassan, you said this didn't seem like the Watchers. So... if the Sage is looking for a vessel in this world, and it's not the only Deathlord, could Jessica Toys and Eckhart serve some other Deathlord?" Her brow's remaining furrowed. She's perplexed by it all.
Frankie wasn't the only one feeling perplexed. Hassan lifted his head to observe Damian. "This is the first I'm hearing of this. I know he wasn't part of the West End Watchers...but another Deathlord? Maybe. I don't know. I suppose that's not too farfetched of a theory...but I have no idea. Not without more proof." When Damian's Geist came out, Hassan gave it a nod of acknowledgement. "Thank you. And...if you're going to order...do you mind grabbing food for everybody at Hugh's place too?" If he hadn't been in the position he was in, that statement might have come off as greedy, but it was more like he was requesting food for a hungry family than anything.
Damian shrugs again. “I could be wrong.” He gives a little nod to himself, or maybe Hassan’s words. He has no idea what to order anyone, but hopefully with an occasional glance at Hassan, he has some help. If Hassan wanted enough for his own family and Hugh’s, Damian orders double that. Or what he thinks amounts to that. And anything Frankie might want too, can’t hurt to be polite. He abstains, however. He rolls up his window again, as he drives forward waiting. “This God-Eater seems tied to all this, seems to fit what one might think of the Sage, but…” He cranes his neck to look back at Hassan directly. “You said you know something we don’t, so maybe my lack of knowledge is skewing the data. “Still the fact you called this Jessica? A ghost? The fact you called her his White Horseman, I find that particularly coincidental too. It would seem to fit.” Once they reach the Window, Damian pays for it all from a wad of cash.
Frankie consents to a burger, and she digs the money out of her battered old wallet immediately to give payment. "I guess we'll find out when Hassan's back with his family at Hugh's place, then." She tells Damian the address, helping Damian pass the bag to Hassan in the back seat. "CAW," says the crow, and Frankie says, "He's going to want a fry. Wait 'til we're moving again." Hopefully the girl at the drive-through isn't paying too close attention to what's going on in the Silver BMW M3, or if she is, she's just looking at the driver.
Hassan nodded. "I guess it could. But we can figure that out when we get to Hugh's place. I'll let you know what I do, so long as everybody is safe and secure. Just like Frankie says." He looked towards Damian, shrugging about the order, suggesting burgers and fries for basically everybody, the same kind of burgers. With cheese and bacon. "That Jessica bitch though, what's so coincidental about my calling her a White Horseman?"
Damian rejects Frankie’s payment with no argument taken. He simply doesn’t want her money. Call it chauvinism, ego, whatever makes one feel comfortable, but he shakes his head at it. Lucky for them, the windows are tinted, so not much for anyone to see through just the driver’s window. That’s rolled up as soon as Hassan has the food. He starts slowly forward, nodding as he listens to the address and then they are on their way towards Hugh’s place. Damian’s research told him where it is, so he knows well. He nods to the talk and then gives a little shrug in his seat as they are off and on the road. “Makes me think of the Horseman of the Apocalypse. But more importantly, as I understand it, we’re all tied to the image of one of the Horseman. So it’s a strange title, is all. Maybe I’m reading too much into it though. Like I said, these are theories…” He chuckles slightly, but it’s lacking amusement. ‘maybe I just want to thick it’s all tied to the Sage and the West End Watchers, rather than believe they are separate, and this is another big bad to deal with on top of that and other things. Who knows.”
Once they're off again, Norbert materializes in the back seat and squawks at Hassan. Look, maybe he's been starving and tortured for weeks, but ghost crow wants some french fries and he made himself solid special just to get 'em.
Frankie scowls at Damian's refusal to take her money and immediately pops open his glove box and shoves the bills in there. She thwacks it shut again. "So why did you call her a White Horseman? Just being poetic?"
Hassan, the moment he has the food in his hands, doesn't reply. He just eats. It was as if he was starving...probably because he was. If the Norbert was able to snag a fry, so be it, but Hassan was not about to give the ghost anything that he couldn't eat for himself. Once he was finished, he set the bag aside, and was eyeing the other bags of food. Suddenly, his eyes went wide, and he had to roll down the window. Unfortunately, it didn't appear that he knew enough not to binge eat after being without regular, full meals for as long as he was. The entire meal he devoured was spilled onto the road, and after he was finished puking, he just leaned out the window. "Fuck."
Once the vehicle had arrived at the home, Hassan pulled himself together. Having snuck a few fries from the other bags, eating carefully and slowly that time, he continued on with the conversation where it left off initially. "White Horseman, the harbinger of sickness. Death by disease. This is what Jessica represents. This Eckhart character, he's got four more ghosts under his control. He didn't mention anything about them, since he's smarter than that, but she let it slip when he was gone. She is one of five horsemen, representing the riders that govern our return from the brink of death. I don't know much about the others, other than their names, and a few quirks that she complained about during the...torture." Once they were parked, Hassan moved to open the door, and before he was out, his wife came rushing out the front door to meet him. She pulled him into an embrace, and they began speaking in another language, and /fast/. There were others standing just inside the door, and upon seeing Frankie, Rebecca waved, a faint smile on her face.
Frankie sighs. "And good luck get anything else out of him until he's eaten and spent at least a few hours with his family," she mutters. Rebecca waves, and Frankie winces. She unbuckles her seatbelt and climbs on out of the car. Norbert, who had to peck a bag open to get a damn french fry, goes immaterial again before the norms spot him.
Damian gives Frankie a little shake of his head when she stuffs the money into the glove compartment. Thankfully, he doesn’t argue with her about it. Maybe he’s just too intent on Hassan, watching him through the mirror once more. His car. The man just puked on his car! There’s no way he didn’t, that’s an impossible maneuver to pull off. Either way, Damian doesn’t react at all, other than to make a slight little face of sympathy. “You okay?” But Hassan is explaining as they pull into the likely HUGE driveway of Hugh’s. “Well, that fits…um, anyone else wonder who would have power over such, if that was true? Like maybe Lord of the Underworld.” Speculation maybe, but it makes Damian frown. The car is shut off and the automatic doors unlock. He steps out too, to follow the rest. “Yeah, hopefully there’s time.” That he says to Frankie just before he gets out. The hug, the strange language, all observed, but then Rebecca is waving at Frankie. He glances sidelong at her, “Friend of yours?” He does appear to notice Frankie’s wince, and that only grows his curiosity.
"I met her before. She's the one that gave me some of Hugh's hair for the Finding. And now I have to tell her I found her dad putrefied in a bag," Frankie tells quietly tells Damian, shutting his car door rather firmly. She digs her hands into her pockets and heads the girl's way, shoulders tense.
Norbert just pops out the side of the car and struts around, peering about for Rebecca's ghost host.
Hassan's wife makes a face like she just ate sour milk, and waves her hand in front of her face. Apparently somebody didn't like the smell. "Oooh, you are going to shower up first!" She exclaimed, leading Hassan into the house. The moment Damian and Frankie were out of the vehicle, it would be easy to note that the place was on lockdown. Ghosts were scanning the perimeter all over, and standing beside Rebecca was her massive space-gorilla of a ghost, Clegane, and his flamethrower weapon. He grunted at Frankie as she approached, even though his charge was greeting her with hope and expectation. The other ghosts eyed Damian and Frankie, but upon seeing Hassan, some of them looked momentarily relieved. The made no move to bar the pair from entry as Hassan was guided into the house.
Damian heads for the trunk first, opening it and pulling out his laptop bag. He does something else in there, out of view. Possibly unzips the bags his weapons are in. He has noticed the lockdown, and he might need to be quick. Shutting the trunk as he straps the laptop bag over the shoulder, Damian gives the street a scan. He’s about as uneasy as the ghosts are and as on alert. A nod to Frankie and he watches her head towards the girl. Maybe he does have feelings because he gives a slightly sympathetic look. Whether for Frankie or Rebecca is unclear. He lets her do her thing though, following Hassan in, assuming he can.
Frankie is led by Rebecca upstairs, presumably to discuss things, Norbert eventually following along. Hassan is led by his wife to the bathroom just down the hall, where she slams the door behind them. Leaving Damian with the kids and Josephine. Clegane moved upstairs with Rebecca, but otherwise, all the other ghosts remained on high alert.
"Thank you so much for finding dad!" Aida exclaimed, running to give Damian a hug. Her two brothers followed suit in short order, thanking him and moving to hug him. Josephine shushed them though. "Give the man some room to breathe children! Let him in. Please, come, have a seat. Do you want anything to drink? We have lemonade, iced tea, pop of all kinds..."
Damian watches the couple enter the bathroom, but he doesn’t move to follow. Still, he scans the house, the ghosts, seemingly everything at once. There’s a faint nod given in response to the kid at his thanks. Then…Oh god, Damian is being hugged and he isn’t sure what to do with that. He does not love closeness and certainly not hugs from strange kids. He looks down at Aida and then the other two, as if they were gross bugs and he wanted to swat them off. Thankfully, Josephine saves him, or them. We’ll never know. A glance goes towards the bathroom, and then back to Josephine. “No. I am fine. You are Hugh’s wife?” He carefully didn’t say ‘were’.
The kids scramble away, moving into the living room. The house was fairly large, and they had enough room to play while giving the adults room to talk. "I am. My name is Josephine. You are...?" She waited for his response, gesturing for him to follow her into the kitchen. She grabbed a bottle of wine out of the fridge, and poured herself a glass, setting the bottle down on the counter. "We are grateful that you found Hassan. He's a good man, and a longtime friend. Yelena was so worried when he didn't come home..." Her features suggested that while she was still happy, she still felt a little disdain that her own husband wasn't the one walking through the door. Yelena came rushing around the corner shortly. "Can Hassan borrow some of Hugh's clothes? He smells like a dumpster! We have to wash his clothes /immediately/, they are absolutely disgusting!" With a faint smile and a nod from Josephine, Yelena bounded up the stairs.
“Damian. Damian Motta. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Business mode, it’s really the only thing Damian knows socially, so it’s what he reverts to, offering a hand to Josephine after following her into the kitchen. “You might call me an acquaintance of Hugh’s.” A lie in all but the strictest, but Damian is very good with lies and hiding his emotions. He pauses when Yelena comes in and offers her a nod, but once she is gone he returns back to Josephine. “Do you know what happened to Hassan exactly? Have you heard from Hugh?” Gentle, he doesn’t know what she knows, so he’s putting out a feeler, it’s a gamble, but he takes it. His face is straight though, she’s getting no reading off him, easily anyway.
Josephine takes Damian's hand, her grip non-existent. "I have no idea what happened. This is the first I've heard of anything, when Yelena called and came over. And now that he's here...I just wish Hugh was here too. I was hoping against all odds that he would walk in right beside Hassan." Her eyes drifted downwards, staring into nothing but space. A sigh escaped her, and her free hand went up to rub her forehead, the other one sitting on the glass of wine. "Damian, do you know? Tell me you know /something/."
Oh boy. Damian has now been forced into an awkward social engagement, one who would much rather avoid. Thankfully he’s quite the expert at hiding his emotions, a great poker face. He doesn’t answer her question though, he sidesteps it, by asking another of his own. “Do you, uh, know about Hugh? Hassan? Jasdeep? Francis? Sarah?” He gives her a more meaningful look, possibly wanting to know if she knows about the ghosts in the house that roam, and their special backgrounds. It’s all he can think of to dig.
Josephine's eyes narrow when she pulls her hand away from her face. "Know about them? What are you talking about? Were they over their heads with something? You know something, don't you? If you know, please, tell me." She suddenly looked a bit more determined. He'd given her something to go on, whether he realized it or not, or even if he wanted it to occur or not. Sliding her wine away, she leaned toward Damian, expecting answers.
That answer means she probably doesn’t know what her husband was. Or she’s doing a good job hiding it. Either way, Damian can’t help but be impressed with Hugh briefly. Subtlety is not always the realm of the Sin-Eater from what he has experienced. He slips the laptop bag off his shoulder and sets it down on the counter, saying nothing at first. “Obviously, I know some things Josephine. We didn’t stumble onto Hassan by chance.” He looks back at her, offering her that weird half-smile of his, sympathetic and apologetic all at once. “That does not mean I know everything. Or even a lot.” God, he lies so well. Maybe he doesn’t realize, himself, how good he is at that. How adept he’s become. “I just know that Hassan was in trouble, perhaps they all were by proxy. I know they are friends. I suppose I assumed that made the trouble associated. I don’t know much about your husband though, I’m sorry.” That kills him, that lie, but it’s necessary, at least, for now.
Josephine's hands formed into fists, her knuckles turning white. While Damian's answer had proven useful in avoiding any further prodding, it frustrated the woman to no end. She was about to start yelling, her mouth open and her fist above her head, until Yelena came bounding down the stairs. "Thank you so much! We'll be sure to return these clothes clean and folded when we go and get Hassan's own wardrobe." Her voice dripped with appreciation, sundering Josephine's anger. Yelene disappeared around the corner once more, and Josephine let her fist drop in defeat. "Fine." She said. It wasn't the answer she wanted, but it was what she had for the moment. Without acknowledging Damian any further, she moved to the deck outside, and stared off into the distance, leaving the Sin-Eater by himself.
Damian isn’t exactly put off by the fact that he was about to be screamed at. He’s socially awkward, but he’s not unable to read people. Especially with expressions like that. He’d probably prefer that to the alternative. He lets Josephine go for the moment, turning his attention on Yelena. Yelena he suspects is far more in the know than Josephine, it’s pretty obvious by the curious look he gives her then, a raised brow. Subtle things. But she’s goes away and Damian just looks around the kitchen, at the ghosts assumingly in the house. Studying everything, all of them. He has no desire to break the news to the woman that not only is her husband dead, but he’s also been made into a monster. So Damian meanders through the house, towards where Yelena went, towards the bathroom where he assumes Hassan and Yelena still are, taking his laptop with him.
Hassan was just coming out of the bathroom, wearing Hugh's clothes. On his wiry frame, they were overly baggy, but the rank smell that had accompanied him earlier was washed away, only the scent of Dove shampoo and conditioner gracing his presence. He looked like he was doing slightly better too, not as weak, though his wife was still supporting him as they came into the hallway.
"It feels so good to be fresh and clean! You have no idea..." Hassan smiled, for the first time, wholly at Damian. It was clear that he was happy to be with his wife and children, in a home surrounded by ghostly guardians. "Where is Frankie?" He asked, making his way to the kitchen, Yelena under his one arm.
Damian moves to the side to let them pass, following them. This back and forth making him look that much more awkward in this strange house. The question makes him glance at Yelena first, and then around the house before eyes settle on Hassan again, meaningfully. No happiness to be found in his expression. “Breaking the news to the girl. The one with the protector.” Yelena may not know what that means, but Hassan can see it as well as he can. He doesn’t really know who the girl is. Frankie may have mentioned she was Hugh’s daughter? He can’t quite remember, but that’s not the point, what he says is.
Hassan immediately dug into the fridge, grabbing a Pepsi and making his way to the island. "Ah. She's a tough one, and I think she'll take the news better than her mother." Hassan's expression soured, and he took a seat on one of the bar stools. He turned to Yelena, who was overjoyed to be with her husband, and with a pained expression, he requested she go sit with the kids for a few moments. She was about to protest, but Hassan put his hand up to dissuade her. "It's important. Please, we will have much time later to catch up." She frowned, but otherwise did as he bade, heading out to gather Josephine before calling the kids out to the backyard to play.
Once the room emptied, and Damian and Hassan were alone, Hassan cracked the pepsi can and nodded towards the man. "Now that I know I can trust you, I'll tell you what I know."
“I would guess so, yes.” Damian’s eyes go to the balcony and the mother as he says that, once more laying his laptop bag on the counter. He gives Yelena a half-smile, a little forced as she heads off. Before Hassan can go on, he wiggles his pointed finger in his direction, taking his own stool. “Do they know? About you? Hugh? Us?” The Hassan is about to lay details on him and Damian falls silent with a nod, adding. “Be careful, there may be things you don’t know. But we’ll get to that.”
Hassan shook his head. "Rebecca knows, but that's because she can see them to. She speaks with the ghosts in this house, and is a friend to them. She's not like us though, and we've tried to keep that concealed. Hugh was infertile, so he took a little dip in the river down under. Rebecca was born with the sight, but we've never told her about what we are. The others? Josephine? Yelena? My kids? No, they don't know, and I'd like to keep it that way." Hassan took a few light sips from the can, setting it tenderly down on the island. "I'm sure we will. For now though, we'll start with who this man is. I don't know his real identity; I doubt anybody does. But he's smart. He keeps it under wraps, and uses proxies in his place, sewing misinformation where he can. That much I gathered. Francis and Sarah...they found out about him, before we could act. Before he acted. He's been moving steadily east for some time, and I guess he's always followed in the wake of conflicts of some kind. His actions are...well, they span quite the distance. They couldn't confirm anything, but their best guess? He's killed quite a few of us. Tell me Damian, their bodies...what Frankie and the M.E. saw...tell me about them."
Damian nods. Damian would certainly like to keep it that way too. “I do not blame you, though I am impressed, that cannot be easy with closeness.” Maybe one more reason Damian does not prescribe to such closeness now. He glances away, though it appears to be at nothing. “An interesting thing, I did not know the rivers could do such.” He’s still learning and grossly ignorant of the Underworld, unfortunately. He’s silent in thought for a good long moment before turning back to Hassan after he’s already started talking. It’s almost as if Damian forgot he was there for a second. A nod. “How did they find out about him? Do you have some of their research available? I’m good at stuff like that myself, especially in this day and age. Maybe I can find out more?” A curious brow raises at his question and then it’s his turn to answer one. He’s not quick about it. “That was one of the things we were going to get to.” He frowns, he offers sympathy, but who’s to say if either of them are real emotion or put on. He’s so good at that. His voice lowers and his eyes flicker around to make sure no one is near. “All your friends are dead. Reduced to some kind of goop in most cases. If that was the worst of things, it might be livable, but it is not. Jasdeep and Hugh, at least, are something else now…” He sighs, shaking his head. “Homunculus as far as I can tell, as far as anyone can tell, but also not. At least, not any kind I have ever seen that we are capable of. Purple and green skin, black veins. They’ve killed more. Trap, always traps. Is this what you wanted to know, or something else? Whatever the case may be, it /IS/ something you need to be aware of.” He delivers with such a tone as to wonder if he even cares. How Damian can be so emotionless about it all is a wonder.
Hassan's shoulders lifted slightly, in a half-hearted shrug. "Sometimes it's hard. I guess it's kind of like being a spy for one of those government agencies. But it works for us. Francis, he had customers everywhere. It was actually the reason he got into the business, for the connections. He didn't care about the money or the actual drugs. Tough bastard too, so he fit the lifestyle. Everybody liked him, even the cops. When some of his people went missing, he started looking into it. Asked Sarah for help. She was good at gathering information, despite the way she looked and acted. She had nothing but time on her hands, living the life of a free woman. So they dug, and they found out that there was a trail of bodies that existed longer than Francis' middlemen. They were concerned, so they kept digging, and discovered that the bulk of the body-count was made up of Sin-Eaters. Very few ghosts, very few mortals. It wasn't something they uncovered overnight. This Eckhart fellow, he's good at keeping his actions concealed. I would liken him to...hmm...to a spy, actually. He can walk around in plain sight behind enemy lines, and they would never know he was the enemy until it was too late."
Hassan paused, noticing the wine nearby. He pulled that closer, favouring that over the Pepsi. "I figured as much. I hate admitting that. Some part of me was hoping they were still alive...but after meeting that man? I couldn't imagine they would be. Traps seem to fit this guy's MO though. This is...what I wanted to confirm, yes. I've never heard of homunculi like that either. Maybe it's something new? Maybe they're even zombies of some kind? I don't know. Maybe Francis and Sarah knew what they were, but I don't know where they kept their research." Hassan picked the wine glass up, staring at it for a long while, before finally imbibing every last drop.
“Francis and Sarah, for whatever reason, have not…reappeared.” Damian picks the most diplomatic way of saying that that he can think of. “But, that doesn’t mean they won’t. Be careful, I don’t imagine they aren’t still coming for you…” His gaze sweeps the house again. “And I’m not sure your friends will be enough. I hope so, but…” He shakes his head a little, turning back to Hassan once more. “The reason I think this is connected to the West End Watchers…” His voice is still low and he turns to remove his laptop, flip it open and login. It’s always on. He types really fast, all shortcuts, the man doesn’t need a mouse to navigate, until he pulls up all his hidden files and unencrypts one. It’s simply named ‘Stuff’. Very innocuous. He opens it up and pulls up a picture of Hugh quickly, watching again for any unseen spies. “He was found in L.A.” It’s a quick look and the picture is closed. “He killed a couple of us out there. Took some skin from them.” Surely Hassan understands the meaning of that after their conversation so far. “It might be a coincidence simply because they are what we are, but I find it odd that these same people are also fighting the West End Watchers and under attack from them too. Or that Hugh would be way out there.” Of course, maybe Hassan as some light to shed on that. “I will look into Francis and Sarah further, see if I can pick up their trail. We need to know more.”
Hassan set the wine down and made a sour face, shaking it out. "Yeah. Jessica was probably pissed that I wasn't there when she got back. I hope that her friend is okay. But I have the feeling him and his goons won't stop till I'm dead and they've got what I have." After brushing his tongue up against his teeth, he took a long swig of Pepsi, almost choking on it before he set it down. "He's out West is he? Couldn't be Hugh. Has his face maybe, but I know that isn’t him. Man had a strict schedule. Could be this Eckhart fellow is shacked up with the Watchers, but that's just speculation right now. I don't know where Francis and Sarah kept their information, but I can help you look. I have a few ideas."
That brings up a lot of questions, but Damian nods with a statement first. “I don’t know who friend is…this Ting? I hope she is alright as well, if she truly is a friend. I will be asking Franklin and Cobalt about her when next I see one of them.” That makes him purse his lips and then brow furrows, he brings up a blank document and starts typing in a few notes quickly. Stuff Hassan has said before, a very clear note: Ting? “Speaking of which…WHAT do you have, if I may ask?” The typing pauses, and he looks sideways at Hassan, curious. “I imagine it’s important if they kept you alive long enough to try to extract it.” A shake of his head though. “Oh, it is most definitely not Hugh, that’s the point. It’s made of Hugh, but something to be aware of, also. I hope Francis and Sarah do not eventually appear like this. Jasdeep was down in the sewers, I think Frankie said…” Another quick shake of his head. “Sorry, whatever it is that is posing as Jasdeep.” That’s followed by a nod to the last statement. “Speculation and conjecture is all we have at the moment, I know and I don’t like it. So yes, if you think you can help me find what Francis and Sarah had on this guy...thing, whatever, I’d be most grateful. In return, I’ll do what I can to keep you all safe. I’m not sure what that is though.”
Hassan set his hand on the pop can, spinning around on the countertop as he spoke. "Mhmm. I wanted to know more about the contract we have with our Geists. How they are able to offer them, and how some of the wretched can force a contract with a Geist. What a Geist /is/. Mine's been less than forthcoming about its origins, but that didn't deter me. I didn't find very much regarding how it all works, but I did find a few...I guess you could call them rituals. It's a different /type/ of contract. One that binds a Geist to another Geist. I was hoping it could lead me to more answers, but before I got much further, I was kidnapped. I'm not sure why something like that is so important to him in particular, so much so that he'd keep me alive for it...I mean, it's a one-time thing. You can't use it over and over again to make super-geists, and it destroys the personality overlays of each individual in the first place. Strangest thing though, is that it requires two /bound/ Geists. Won't work on unfettered." Hassan shook his head. "It's not very useful, but I knew that he'd kill me if he had the information, so I kept it from him for as long as I could."
“I don’t know either, except…” Damian frowns at that. That’s real emotion and he suddenly looks like he tasted something sour. “It’s been bandied around that perhaps he is…eating Geist’s. Would explain why his targeting Sin-Eaters also, if not for my previous theory.” Everything Hassan just said seems to lend credence to this theory. A pause, some typing into his computer again. “So what is the purpose of such a ritual? If he destroys the personalities, what would be the purpose of joining two? I mean, even if you’re just speculating. I’m just trying to figure why he would want that. It seems suddenly quite important.” He turns back to Hassan again, hands still on the keyboard, ready to type some more in the document.
She may have gotten distracted for a couple days, but Blanche keeps her promises! Except knowing just where to start on this particular problem is tricksy. So she defaults to asking for information. With Elisa in tow she heads into town. Specifically, she heads to where she knows that ghosts will be. She spent time wandering the city to find out where ghosts are anchored, and it's those places she visits, to ask questions about the bad little ghost Horseman.
As Blanche made her way to the Hanging Hills for a start, she met up with Pinky, the stuttering ghost. He was a rat bastard in life, and was always a good snitch. "H-h-hey there. W-w-whatcha buyin? W-w-whatcha s-s-s-s-sellin?" He asked Blanche as she came near, opening his trench coat to reveal a myriad of ghostly trinkets.
Blanche smiles a touch as she walks toward Pinky, glancing around behind her sunglasses to make sure none of the living are about. No reason to have them thinking she's talking to herself, right? "Hi Pinky. Not selling anything today. I'm hoping for some information about a very bad ghost. Like, /seriously/ bad. Her name is Skye. She's a Horseman," she whispers to him when she gets closer. "You know I always try to help you guys. I'm not one to go after ghosts, but this woman is...bad news."
Pinkie's brow raised. "H-h-h-horseman? I don't kn...kn...know w-w-w-what that is. I ain't n-n-n-never heard that nnnnnname before either. Skye? B-b-b-bad news. I'll pass the word on. W-w-w-why she so bad Blanche?" He asked, closing his trench coat, clearly disgruntled by the fact she wasn't going to buy any of his spectral wares.
"I hadn't heard of it before I ran across this ghost either," Blanche admits. "But she's been out killing sin-eaters and going up against ghosts." Geists are ghosts, right? "You know if she keeps doing that, people are going to get antsy and worried. They might not be too picky about the ghosts they go after. I'd rather deal with the one bad egg and leave the rest of you in peace. I don't want to see anything happen to you, Pinky."
Pinky started to look confused. "W-w-w-wait. This g-g-g-g-ghost has been k-k-k-killing sssssin-eaters? That's plural. I ain't never known a g-ghost to b-b-b-be able to go after a lot of those half-bloods. A-a-a-and this Skye is going after other ghosts? M-m-m-man, I just sell and buy, buy and ssssell. You're such a sssweetheart B-b-b-blanche, b-b-b-but I don't know nothin bout this ghost. I have heard about them Sssssin-eaters disappearing though. Word gets around, I hear the w-w-w-word. L-l-l-lots of em gone m-m-missing lately."
Blanche smiles a touch, not happy, and she nods. "I know. But I saw her attack a sin-eater badly enough that he couldn't be saved. And I spoke to a ghost in the Underworld who told me it wasn't the first she'd killed either. So you just keep an eye out, okay? I don't think she'd go after you, but if she does? Run and hide. And let me know as soon as possible, okay? I'm going to go see if anyone else knows anything about her so I can work on stopping this. You be safe, okay?"
Pinky nodded, tipping his fedora to Blanche. "I will. Y-y-y-y-ou stay safe too Blanche. D-d-d-d-don't get yourself in t-t-t-t-too much trouble, ya hear? Y-y-y-y-you one of my best customers." It was likely just an affectation, since his wares were purely spectral, but his real worth was in what he knew. Keeping the news flowing was what Pinky did best. "I'll ssssee you around!" He said, right before trying to harangue random people in the distance.
Blanche gives him another smile, this one more genuine and with affection for the hustler of a ghost. "I'll do my best." She watches him for a moment before nodding to Elisa and continuing to move through the city, still on foot, heading south to the next spot she expects to see a ghost.
It wasn't long until Blanche encountered another ghost, on the edge of the suburbs. He was sitting up against a lamp post, near a small wooden cross with some flowers. It was obviously where a car accident had occurred, and while the ghost appeared fine, his head hung low. When he looked up and saw Blanche, he smiled weakly. "Hey Blanche." Dougie said in greeting.
"Hi Dougie," Blanche whispers, after again checking for the living. She doesn't smile but studies him as she approaches, her brow furrowed lightly in concern. "Is everything okay? You seem down." Which might be a silly question to ask a ghost, but she does tend to treat them like they're human when possible.
"Yeah, Maddie didn't bring me fresh flowers yesterday. I'm sure she's just running late. What's up?" He asked, remaining seated as he looked up at her.
"I'm sure she is, too," Blanche assures him with a smile. "And I'm hoping you have some information. There's a bad ghost running around named Skye. She's killing sin-eaters, and ghosts don't seem to be off her menu either. I'd trying to track her down before things get...well, really bad."
Dougie's eyes light up. "Wait. Hold on, killing Sin-Eaters? No way. Hugh disappeared last month. Couldn't be the reason why, could it?" The ghost looked off into the distance, his brow furrowed. "Hmm. I don't know about this ghost, but Hugh's place isn't far from here. His kid passes by on her way to school every morning with her ghost in tow. Big fucker too, looks like walking robot. Hugh told me he'd been gathering fighters to anchor to his house and his family. I would have offered, but he was looking for strong fighters specifically."
Blanche nods. "I saw one of them killed, and heard of at least one other, though there are probably more. And I'll go talk to Hugh. Even if this isn't related that makes me curious. But you keep yourself safe, okay? If you hear about or see this Skye, you get word to me, alright? I don't want you getting hurt."
Dougie shook his head. "Hugh ain't around no more. Your best bet is to speak with his kid, since she's in the know. Talks to her protector all the time, even if the guy don't talk back much. Their house is just over yonder." Dougie points to the direction of the house. "Has a white picket fence and everything, blue Jaguar in the driveway, can't miss it. And thanks Blanche. If I see a dangerous looking ghost, I'll let you know. Well, besides that robot looking guy. Stay safe!"
Blanche smiles. "I'd probably do better with her protector anyway. But white picket fence, blue Jaguar. Thanks, Dougie. And you stay safe too. I mean it about not wanting you hurt." I mean, she's dead, but still! Another quick smile then she's heading for Hugh's!
Eventually Blanche comes upon the house with the white picket fence and the blue Jaguar. There also happens to be a BWM M3 Silver parked outside at the moment. There are multitudes of ghosts around the house though, at least four that Blanche and Elis could see. They all are wielding guns of some kind, and they all look like they are on high alert.
Blanche exchanges a look with Elisa, brow furrowing lightly. "Why don't you go back to the house? Just to be on the safe side," she suggests to Elisa, who goes, though reluctantly. Spectral guns can't hurt Blanche....for the moment. But Elisa? Not so lucky! And slowly Blanche approaches, a faint smile on her lips. Look at how harmless she is!
After Elisa disappears and Blanche makes her way to the house, the ghosts take notice of her. All four converge on Blanche, and two more phase through the walls of the house, their weapons pointed at her. The bald man in the suit wielding the assault rifle comes to the fore. "State your business."
"Dougie sent me. I don't mean any harm to any of you. I'm just looking for information about a very bad ghost that's killing sin-eaters," Blanche whispers calmly, looking from one ghost to another. "My name is Blanche. I do my best to help ghosts," she adds, hoping that at least one of them will have heard her name.
"We don't know that for sure. You said the same thing that Frankie person did, but I'm going to tell you the same thing I told her. We require proof. I don't give a fuck who you are, we're not going to let you pass unless we can confirm you're friend or foe."
"I flat out /saw/ Skye attack a sin-eater. I was there when he died from what she did to him," Blanche whispers, shaking her head. "I don't know who Frankie is, or what she told you, but I know what I saw. I saw her chase him. I saw her open a gate to the Underworld. I saw her follow him and attack him. I saw a geist try to protect him. And I saw him die. I want to keep her from hurting anyone else, but I can't do that without help. Without information."
The bald man in the suit looked between his comrades. "That isn't proof. Your words don't mean anything. You could be lying for all we know. But you know of Skye, which means you know something, at the least. I'm willing to speak with you, but that doesn't mean you're getting in.
"I know of Skye, yes. I know she's a horseman. I've spoken with Tarantalus, whose sin-eater was killed by Skye as well," Blanche whispers, shaking her head slowly. "I'm not lying though, and I don't need to get in. I'm just trying to find out what people, living or dead, know about Skye, and where I might be able to find her. I promised Tarantalus that I would do what I could to stop Skye from continuing to hurt people. I help ghosts, it's what I do, what I /am/, but even I can't condone what she's doing."
The bald man didn't seem too impressed. "Look, I know her name, and that she's involved. I don't know much else beyond that. Our job is simply to protect this home and the people within."
Blanche glances to the house then back to the bald ghost. "Then would one of you go inside and ask if they know anything? As I said, Dougie sent me here. He said that Hugh wasn't around anymore, but that his daughter was here." Her head tilts a little and her lips curve a touch. "He did say that her protector didn't talk much, though." The smile dims. "I don't know if the woman you protect is human or a sin-eater, but if she /is/ a sin-eater, then it would be in all of our best interest if you just go ask what she knows so I can do my job."
The bald man simply observed Blanche for a few moments, before nodding to one of the other ghosts. A skinny gansta looking man with a glock and saggy pants disappeared into the house. "You wait here." He the bald man said.
Blanche shrugs a little. "Like I said, I don't care if I go in or not. Though I should point out that having a force like this just hovering around a house is just bound to attract unwanted attention sooner or later. /I/ don't mean any harm to anyone here, but others might, and they might not take no for an answer." This doesn't come out as a threat, at least not using her tone of voice, but more she's trying to be helpful. Though whether he takes it that way or not...
The bald man shook his head. "Calls attention? I don't know if you know this, but Hugh bound us here for a reason. He knew somebody was after him, maybe even his family. That's /why/ we're here. To stop anybody with ill intent. Regardless of whether it's wanted or not, it's here, and it's what we have. And if they take no for an answer? They'll have to go through all fourteen of us."
Blanche smiles faintly, and it seems sad. "That's wrong," she whispers, shaking her head. "Did he at least ask if you wanted to protect his family? Did he give you a choice or force this on you? On all of you? Because if he didn't? If you didn't choose this? Then I'm glad I never met this Hugh. Fourteen of you is..." She shakes her head again. "Regardless. There are those who could get through fourteen of you. No one is infallible." And oh, it's clear that if Hugh were here? She'd be having /words/ with him.
Back to the present...
Two ghosts suddenly looked to the front door and took off through the walls. Hassan eyed them curiously, but otherwise continued speaking. "That would make sense. It would explain his level of power. Maybe he wants to taste something new?" Hassan shrugged, taking another sip of the pop. "Destroying the first personalities creates something new. I'm not sure what. There's another component I don't fully understand, something about spirits. Not ghosts, but spirits. It was speculated at one point that our Geists are half spirit, half ghost. I can see how that would be an accurate assumption, but I still have yet to confirm that. One of the reasons I was interested in this ritual was for that reason. I'm not sure the effect it would have on the physical bodies of the Sin-Eaters either. Maybe one dies, the other one gets the Geist? I have no idea. But apparently, this ritual, it binds a spirit into the gestalt Geist, and it creates...something new. I'm not exactly sure what happens, because I've never seen this sort of thing before."
Well, Hassan might find those two ghosts nothing to be concerned about, but Damian is of a different mind. The movement in his peripherals as him standing up, moving to get a view of a windows out the front of the house. You don’t ignore guard dogs when they start barking. He’s still listening, presumably as he scan the direction the ghosts went out the windows. He’s cautious. But something Hassan says turns him back, a grave look on his face. “Might explain the homunculi. That might what it does to the bodies.” Though, that doesn’t explain the need for the skin, not really. His lips thin as he considers all that very deeply. “So if I’m understanding…it binds two Geist’s together and then also binds a spirit to this new…form?” A brow raises at that, his attention split between outside and Hassan. Voice still low. “Either way I can certainly imagine that might be an abomination, but also, we might consider suddenly that this God-Eater….that name by the way makes me wonder. We might consider that it is perhaps some sort of spirit or ghost itself? Which might explain its interest.”
Outside, six ghosts are pointing their various weapons at a woman, physical and real. They've half encircled her, and words are being had back and forth. Hassan simply sat where he was, staring off into the living room somewhere with a relatively blank expression. "If it was the homunculi, he'd have no need for me. But yeah, that's the gist of it. But I've never considered that this God-Eater is a spirit. That could be...very interesting, very interesting indeed. I think our best bet is to follow up with Francis' and Sarah's information, that way, we can at least figure out what we're dealing with here."
Not long after, one of the ghosts conversing with the woman outside makes its way inside. "Yo bitches! Some cracka ass beeyatch outside trying to ask about some Skye nigga. Says she wants to help or some shit, but we got her cornered in case she that God-Eatin' mothafucka."
Frankie makes her way downstairs, Norbert on her shoulder (and only visible to some of the people present). Her expression is grim, and... tired, somehow. It's in the eyes. Arriving on the ground floor, she raises an eyebrow at the gangster ghost, then looks to Hassan and Damian. "What did I miss?"
“I meant to say, that that’s possibly what happens to one of us when this ritual of yours is performed on the bound. Their bodies turn into, well...whatever Hugh and Jasdeep are.” Damian is quite distracted now by the conversation happening outside, even if he can’t hear it. He reaches up into the air, it’s a gesture more than necessary, when the ghost explains what is happening outside His Geist is seen, and that wispy mask of his manifests itself in Damian’s hand, at the same time showing the face behind it on his Geist to be completely shadow and flames. Those of the Sin-Eater variety can see shadows starting to form around Damian as he activates his Shroud. A protective armor of shadow. A glance at the ghost. “English please? I didn’t grow up in the ghetto. Skye-nigga?” A brow raises, but he doesn’t take his attention off the woman outside. To Frankie, he just gestures outside.
Hassan shrugged once more. "There are more questions than answers right now. Wait. Who's outside? Is that Ting?" Suddenly Hassan is on his feet, moving towards the door. He more or less ignored Frankie's question as he passed by the gangsta and threw open the door, expecting to see a friendly face. "Ting!" He called out, but suddenly, his face turned sour. "You're not...Who are you?" Hassan asked the woman surrounded by ghosts. "And how do you know Skye?"
Frankie raises her hands up with a shrug as Hassan passes her by. She strides over to Damian's side, murmuring, "Ritual? Did he fuck around with some tainted ritual he shouldn't have?"
Blanche doesn't seem put off to be surrounded by ghosts, but then, she's talking to them, so she can see them. She's wearing sunglasses, but her head turns toward Hassan when he addresses her. "I'm Blanche. And I don't /know/ her. I know /of/ her and I've seen what she does. I want to put an end to it. A friend named Dougie suggested I might get some answers here.
“I have no idea…Hassan…” Damian has no time to stop the man from running to the door. He just shakes his head. He looks like he wants to ask another question, but instead he looks to Frankie and lowers his voice. “Probably. Maybe even likely. It seems to be what the thing wants. Who’s Skye?” He almost mouths that last part to her, but then he presses a finger to his lips and starts to fade from view. Invisible. Just in case. He is very cautious.
Hassan's eyes narrowed, and some of the ghosts surrounding the woman had a torn expression. The gansta ghost in the house whispered to Damian. "Skye-nigga. Like, you know, some bitch named Skye and shit. You got ears you fuckin cracka?" Hassan turned to glare at the ghost. "Do you mind? Rebecca is upstairs. Swear again, go ahead." Hassan threatened the gangsta ghost, quieting him down immediately, before turning back to the woman outside. "You know /of/ her, do you? What do you know /of/ her?" He asked, curious to see her response.
"No damn clue," Frankie says quietly to the invisible Damian. There's an inky black ghost crow perched on her shoulder. Animals are never ghosts unless they're psychopomps, and there's enough knowing in this one's eyes to confirm that it is.
In the meantime, Frankie walks to the front door to linger just behind Hassan, arms crossed, scowling. She eyes Blanche, her head cocking to one side in a birdlike movement.
At Hassan's question Blanche half turns, looking to make sure, once again, that there aren't any random passers-by. Sure, he's solid and all, but a little caution never hurt anyone. And then there's a Frankie and she hesitates. "I know she's done some very bad things. But unless that is Hugh's daughter? I'd like to know who I'm speaking with before I say anymore. Dougie told me to come here, but he neglected to mention how many /people/ might be here." And her paranoia switch has been flipped.
Damian is somewhere nearby, moving to get a good view of Blanche, study her features, as he ignores the ghost. Then he moves quietly out of sight, well to anyone that can see invisible. It’s almost like he’s flanking Blanche, just in case. She showed up at a really bad time. If she’s paranoid, he’s doubly so. He glances out a nearby window at his car. His weapons are in there. That was a mistake he quietly chastises himself for. For now, he just listens.
Hassan shook his head. "Dougie. What a sad man. What do you want with Hugh's daughter?" And then, the catalyst herself walks down the stairs, rubbing her tear-stained eyes. She looked between everybody, including the woman outside. Behind her, a giant of a ghost, clad in space-age looking armour and carrying some sort of grenade-launcher-flame-thrower amalgamation, grunts. "What's going on?" Rebecca asked, Clegane grunting in agreeance. Just for good measure, he shoved Norbert with his gun-thing.
"Can you explain who Dougie is?" Frankie asks Hassan, brow furrowed. "I'm ---" but then a ghost is shoving a gun near her head. The ghostly crow squawks immediately, flapping off Frankie's shoulder and perching up on the stair railing. Frankie rounds about, snapping, "Fuck off right now." Frankie's splays her fingers, flexing them out. Plasm stirs around them.
Blanche takes a step back, clearly uneasy. But then, she is vastly outnumbered, and entirely by strangers. Never mind that most of them are /dead/. Someone's gonna have to have some words with Dougie. "He is a sad man, and I don't want to see him get hurt," she whispers, watching the interactions between Frankie, Clegane and the crow. "And like I've said, repeatedly, I just wanted information, but I think it's best if I go elsewhere. I think Dougie was wrong on this particular advice," she whispers, easing back away from the house, slowly, like a person backs away from a wild animal.
So much for Rebecca’s ears. Damian shakes his head in disapproval, but at Clegane or Frankie is unknown. Maybe just the situation. He watches that unfold while still listening to the conversation at the door. When Blanche seems to be leaving, he looks like he might speak, but thinks better of it, his lips closing almost as quickly as they parted.
The moment Blanche started stepping away, the ghosts put their guns up. Hassan raised his hands and took a few steps forward. "Wait! Put your guns down you fools, she has information!" Inside the house, Clegane grunted at Frankie, leaning slightly downward, as if to challenge her. Rebecca quickly stepped between them. "Please stop!" She said as emotions escalated.
Frankie tips her chin up, raising her arms from her sides with her fingers splayed out. Shadows gather around her, flitting and rustling like feathers, and then suddenly...
A cacophony of crows burst into existence, billowing from the shadows with raucous cries. Black-winged omens, black-winged harbingers of death, sacred guides of souls to the Underworld. Murder of Crows is suddenly there, present in the room in a mass of black feathered bodies with sharp gold and black eyes.
Ancient. Primal. Frankie bares her teeth at the armored ghost. "Say what you will to me, but don't. Touch. A crow."
Blanche goes utterly still for a moment. She doesn't even seem to /breathe/ when those guns come up. Even Hassan telling them stand down doesn't make her relax. After a long moment though, she shakes her head. "Nope." Yes, that's really all she says. Army of ghosts and strangers and she's paranoid, so creepy stranger girl? She's out, yo. She turns on her heel and starts power-walking /away/ from the house.
Whoa. Crows. That’s the first Damian has seen of that, and everything else just sort of becomes white noise as that floods his vision. Yep, that ghost should not be messing with a Sin-Eater, truly. He can’t help but keep eyes glued on that for long moments. Then Blanche is walking away. Without even appearing his seemingly bodiless voice speaks towards Blanche. “Are you here to help or not?” It spoils his position, but he’s a purveyor of information and if she has some, he has to risk it. “If you are, it’s not like you’re safe. You’re clearly involved already.” It's probably not going to help her paranoia that he's a disembodied voice.
Hassan takes a few more steps down and onto the driveway, walking through the ghosts. "Wait!" He called out, his hand raised. After she had power-walked her way away however, Hassan's shoulders slumped, and he made his way back into the house. "When I say stand down the first time, do as I say." He looked to Clegane. "You too. Don't start a fight in my friend's house." Rebecca couldn't see Murder, but she saw the intensity Frankie brought forth. Her eyes were pleading. "I lost my father. Please, I don't want to see any more of my friends get hurt." And with that, Clegane's eyes narrowed, and he leaned back into a regular posture. His visor closed over his exposed face, the mirrored texture hiding his emotions.
Frankie waits for Clegane to change his stance; only then does the multitude of crows take wing again, darting to Frankie and disappearing into shadow once more. Then it's gone, and Frankie's left standing where she is, breathing hard and looking wide-eyed. It takes her a few moments to recover.
Oddly, the disembodied voice? Doesn't seem to ramp Blanche's paranoia/anxiety up any higher. Maybe she's at her limit for strange things? "Nope. Was here to get information. You guys don't want to give it, so I'll get it someplace where I'm /not/ threatened," she whispers (only a whisper, so far), shaking her head and not slowing down one bit. "So bye, good luck, you have info you want to share, tell Dougie."
Damian materializes, or rather becomes visible before he steps just outside the doorway. Maybe he thinks that will be a peaceful gesture in all the chaos. He is seen, though that armor of thickened shadow remains around him, not that Blanche can see it. “You’re probably right, we have little desire to give any of the information we have because it is dangerous. I don’t quite recall you asking though, either. Which seems strange given you came to us.” He watches her, oddly passive, hands tucking behind his back. “Coming here like this is suspicious out of the blue, you have every reason to be threatened here. I think, if you know anything, you know why. And if you’re here, you must. Now what that is…that’s the crux isn’t it. Are you enemy or friend?” He waves a hand, not really expecting her to answer that because only the dumbest of enemies would admit to it.
Rebecca waggles her finger at Clegane. "You need to calm down! These people aren't going to hurt me." And with that, she heads to the kitchen to grab herself a juice box, space gorilla in tow. Hassan let out a sigh of relief, but paused at the doorway to see what would come of the interaction between the stranger and Damian. "Ghosts, return to your posts. My family is in the backyard. Protect them."
Frankie rakes a hand through her hair, pushing it out of her face and composing herself again. She turns toward the doorway and Blanche. "Cut him some slack. Look at him," she says, gesturing to the malnourished and wan Hassan. "He has the right to be paranoid. It's not an inviting group, I know. But if you know people or things involved in this, it's too important to run away now. Please stay." She pauses. "There's tea."
Blanche isn't looking back. She's still walking as quickly as she can without it being called jogging. "Like I said. You have info you want to share, tell Dougie. /Him/ I trust not to shoot me just for showing up. And if you want to meet someplace and talk? It won't be when you have an army and I'm alone. So again. Good. Bye." It's hard to sound firm when you can only whisper, but she doesn't do a bad job.
“Cyber Vault Securities.” Damian easily gives the name followed by the address in Fallcoast. “The name’s Damian for the record.” Geez, he’s a little too open with his address, considering how cautious he is otherwise. Maybe he has a death wish. He glances at Frankie briefly and then back to Blanche. “I have no idea who Dougie is. You want to talk, my door is open, and there’s no army. Now you know where to find me.” He gestures to Frankie. “I’ll likely invite her, so if you want to bring a friend, go ahead. Just make sure you can trust them. I’m not sure there’s a lot of people you can with this.” There’s a pause, a sigh and then he notes. “Take care.” He seems sincere. Whether she takes the offer, well, the balls in her court, as they say. For his part, he walks back into the house.
"Yes, I can put a pot of tea on if you'd like Frankie. What kind would you like?" Rebecca asked, poking a hole in her juice box. Once Damian was back inside, Hassan closed the door behind him and moved once again to the island in the kitchen, taking a seat on one of the bar stools. "Rebecca honey, I can make the tea. You just go play with the others." Rebecca didn't seem too happy about the request. "No. My father is dead, and I want to know why." Her voice was more authoritative than normal, and Hassan just shook his head, looking out the window for a time. Outside, the ghosts scattered, returning to their posts, leaving Blanche to vacate the area.
"The tea was more a lure for what's her face there," Frankie says, gesturing over her shoulder by way of Blanche. Frankie frowns, glancing around. No Norbert in sight, which is unsurprising. "I'd like to find out why your father is dead, too," she says, gaze sliding over to Hassan. "What's this about a ritual?"
And Blanche? There's a slight pause in her steps to say she heard Damian, but other than that, she doesn't stop. Medium out, yo!
“Blanche.” Damian corrects Frankie, though likely she doesn’t need it. He’s a stickler for details. He nods then looking at Rebecca. “We all would like to know why.” A nod, this time he leans against a wall, a place he can conveniently see outside the house and what approaches and that armor stays in place. He looks to Hassan at Frankie’s question. “Maybe before we get into that again. Who is Dougie and Skye?” They seem to be rather important players and Damian is quite curious.
Before Hassan could answer, Rebecca turned to Damian. "Dougie is the man a few blocks down, leaning up against the lamp post. He was killed by a drunk driver one night, and his daughter brings him flowers there. I pass by him on my way to the bus stop every morning." She then turned to Hassan, pointing her finger at him. "And don't think you can make me leave."
Hassan just stared at the girl for a while. He looked between his two saviours to try and get their opinion on the matter. "Yeah, I would like to get to the core of this..." It was clear he didn't want to speak with Rebecca around, and that he had more to say on the topic. Not bothering with Hassan, Rebecca started to make tea regardless. "That's okay Frankie. I'll make tea anyway."
Frankie shrugs a shoulder. Blanche, whatever. She nods to Rebecca. Dougie is explained, and Frankie is okay with tea. To Hassan, she says, quietly, "Look, that kid is more together than a lot of adults I meet, especially for someone who can see ghosts. Probably because she can see ghosts. I think she's kind of wise beyond her years, so you may as well tell the story. We've been getting nowhere so far.'
Damian is anything but a babysitter. He has no kids of his own and hell, the girl can see ghosts. He’s going to be of zero help to Hassan. He just gives the man a shrug. He also nods a bit at what Frankie says. “Plus, she’s already involved. It seems better not to keep her in the dark. Her life’s never going to be normal.” Boy doesn’t he know now. He glances at Rebecca briefly and then looks back to Hassan. “Please tell us more. We need to know all we can…” He glances sideways at Frankie, an addendum. “He’s going to help us find the info Francis and Sarah had on this figure. He might know where it is.”
Hassan looked once more, very defeated. "Fine. Don't mention /any/ of this to your mother, or to my family, do you hear?" He said to the others. And then he gestured for Rebecca to pour him a cup of tea when the water finished boiling. "Skye. I heard her name when Jessica was blabbering on about the Horsemen. Skye is the Black Horseman, and I guess she's some sort of samurai. Rob is the Grey Horseman, and from the way she talked, my guess is he's some sort of cowboy. Sylas is the Pale Horseman. All I know is she called him 'the kitty man', whatever that means. James is the Red Horseman. Apparently he's simple-minded. I don't know much about any of them, but if they are all based off of the Horsemen that govern our thresholds, then I think it's fair to say their abilities, maybe their personalities, reflect their archetypes. As for the ritual? As far as I know, I'm the only one who can perform it. Thankfully. But he'll be back. He wants the information, and he'll do whatever needs to be done to get it." He looked to Frankie. "It's one that fuses Geists together with something else. I'm not sure exactly what it does, but it can't be good."
"Whoa," says Frankie, holding up a hand. "James? James is simple-minded?" She looks toward Damian and notes, solemnly, "Ffffffuuuuck."
There’s no way. Damian listens to spiel about the Horseman, but when he hears James is the Red Horseman and simple, he gives Frankie a look. That has to be a coincidence, right? Right? And they catch each other’s gaze. If they’re both thinking it. Fuuuuck. He might not say it, but his eyes do. Red is Torn, it fits. Damian’s conspiracy theory that all of this ties together, well it’s growing in evidence. Everything else is forgotten in that moment. Even Hassan has to pick up on that tension.
Hassan looks between Frankie and Damian once more. "What is it? What's going on?" He asked, Rebecca watching silently as she sipped her juice, waiting for the water to boil. She remained calm, her features as plain as a porcelain mask.
"James Wells is the Kabuki killer and some of his belongings, which are anchors for a particularly nasty ghost, have turned up here in town. He died years and years ago when the police killed him after discovering his kill-lair," Frankie says, leaning back in her seat. She turns her attention back to Hassan, cocking her head to the left and regarding him. "So you're the only one who can perform this ritual?"
“I think I might know who has the knife, now.” Damian does not seem to be being sarcastic or amusing. He’s dead serious as he says that to Frankie. He lets her explain what she does to Hassan. “Coincidentally someone stole what we believe to be his things from an evidence locker recently. Which I believe has one of his victims terrorizing more people.” A pause. “And he’s simple and huge. Very, very huge. It’s a huuuge coincidence if it isn’t him and my threshold for accepting coincidence is running thin now.”
Hassan stared dumbfounded by the revelation. "This...as much as the news brings despair, it is a good thing. We know a little bit more about the God-Eater's goons. I've met with Jessica, you know about James, and that woman outside knows of Skye. This information could prove invaluable in the days to come. If we can find Francis' and Sarah's notes, maybe investigate this police station...we could turn up who's behind this." The tea kettle whistled, and without saying anything further, Rebecca poured some tea for everybody present. Hassan turned to Frankie. "Yes. As far as I know, I am the only one who can perform it."
"...I find that difficult to believe," Frankie tells Hassan after a moment. Her head tilts the other way now. Avian. So much more makes sense now that her Geist made an appearance. Damian and Hassan have witnessed something no one else has. Her gaze flicks to Damian. "Who has the knife? And who has the notes?"
“The police station investigation is…in the works.” Damian nods at that, confirming they have already thought about that. “And yes, I would like to search for Francis and Sarah’s notes, when you have a chance.” A pause because he hasn’t discussed he hasn’t discussed the next part with Frankie yet. “I also want to visit St. Mary’s…um, we should talk. Later.” That to Frankie with a little bow of his head. Finally, the last point, he nods at Frankie’s words. “I agree. It’s strange this whatever he is killing the Bound…” A glance at Rebecca, almost apologetic and then back to Hassan, “…if he’s not, at least, trying to replicate this ritual or has some idea about it. Those looked like experiments to me.” He doesn’t explain who those are, but it should be clear. The homunculi. Another look Frankie’s way. If I was to guess. This…what did you call him?” To Hassan and back, “…Eckhart? I’m guessing this ghost might be a distraction, or something worse. The notes though…we don’t know. Hassan might have an idea where Francis and Sarah hid them, is all.” A shrug.
Hassan's brow raised. "What's so hard to believe? We speak to ghosts for a living." He remarked to Frankie. Turning to Damian, he nodded solemnly. "That is good. I will let you know when I am well, and ready to assist you in finding those notes. But for now...this is all I know. Clearly you both have more information, but...this is all I have to say on the matter. Rebecca and I can have a long chat after you leave...I am grateful, no doubt, but for now...I would like to spend some time with my family. If either of you have anything more to say, please do so."
"We speak to ghosts for a living, have weird powers borne of pacts with ur-ghosts, and you can hardly throw a stone in this town without hitting one of us," Frankie says, standing up. "I never assume there's anything only one person can do." She glances around. "No more questions right now. Can I get in touch with you if I come up with any?"
Damian moves to his laptop, folds it up and starts to put it away in the laptop bag. “We have a lot of stuff, I’m certainly willing to tell you when you have more time. Stuff you might want to know or need to, maybe something you have a lot of insight on, but right now I’m kind of reeling myself. Sometimes being right isn’t always a good thing.” Whatever he’s claiming to be right about. He reaches into his bag and pulls out a card, handing it to Hassan. His business card, address of the place, business number and his cell. He makes a circular motion with a finger after setting it on the counter, to encompass the house. “Even with these ghosts, you really think you’re safe here? You seem to know this Eckhart better than us.” A curious look. “Either way, if you need help, don’t hesitate.” A glance at Frankie as he picks the bag up and straps it over his shoulder. Then back to Hassan “Yeah, and if you have any questions, by all means, ask?”
Hassan took the card and stuffed it into his pocket without looking at it. "I'll be sure to contact you. But...as for if we are safe? I truly do not know. This is the /safest/ place I know." He shrugged, and with a weak smile, he stood. "Thank you so very much for your help. I never imagined I'd be standing here right now."
"Neither did I," Frankie says, blinking twice. "But it's good that you are, Hassan. Rebecca... again, my condolences." She nods to the girl, turning toward the door. The ghost crow swoops down through the ceiling to land on her shoulder again. "CAW," says Norbert. Also he is eyeballing Clegane warily.
“I think a good way of saying it about your ritual, is if you can discover it, so can someone else. Or parts of it, but yes, it’s good you’re alive. I was also becoming doubtful. It’s nice to have a win, even if it’s a small one.” He probably means no offense by that, calling Hassan’s life a small victory, but such social faux pas are not out of his range. A glance at Rebecca then too, at Frankie’s words, “Ah yeah, mine too. To both of you.” He turns then to follow Frankie out the door. He is her ride after all. “Be careful and take care.”