Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Generalist – Taboo 2: Magic and Mayhem Round 1

The pretty magus coughed, waving pink-colored smoke out of her face.  Venturing a glance with one watery, electric blue eye, the young woman spied her charge and lifted an ornate staff of office over her head, the wood old and gnarled but polished and glowing with power.  Drawing herself up to her full five foot height, the young woman took up a shoulder-width stance, her simple brown robes billowing about her as an unnatural wind blew the hood off of her pageboy blond haircut, her voice attempting to resonate with eldritch power just like she had been shown in classes back during her student years only to instead achieve a slightly lower-pitched squeak than her usual intonations.

"Frank Todd, you are hereby ordered to place yourself under the arrest of the Special Jurisdiction Branch of the Order of Magi.  Your reagents, familiars, artifacts, and other surplus and sundries of power will be immediately confiscated and placed under Special Jurisdiction's protection, and the Shop itself is being ordered to stand down and deactivate all shields, wards, and defensive capabilities.  You are to surrender all three of your names to me and assume the twelfth position of submission.  You are to surrender yourself to the will of the Order post haste and present yourself for a full trial as put forth by the Order and of your own peers.

Acquit thyself, Frank Todd, and prepare for the judgment to be rendered!"

Frank Todd, The Generalist, blinked at the outburst from the tiny woman, his favorite brass knuckle-handled coffee mug in one hand, filled with coffee and simply waiting to be inhaled, the other holding a spoon piled high with delicious granola cereal held up unchecked in front of his opened mouth.  His chocolate brown eyes locked in on the intruder, indecisive to his immediate response, caught off-guard as he had been he was unable to determine whether or not the situation was a prank or not.  Sitting on the other end of the small kitchen table sat his towering partner, the other Shopkeeper: Daniel "Dash" Hopkins, a large-muscled creature whose troll genes gave him incredibly green skin, green eyes and scales that were visible on his face, shins, and forearms as well as his humongous, clawed hands.  Until the cute Magus had appeared those claws, far larger than a human's and larger in proportion to the rest of his already powerful body, had been busy at the work of cutting a delicious slice of slow-cooked roast to have with his eggs.

Both men, large and powerful in their own individual ways, were the very image of intimidation but together they presented an irresistibly overwhelming force of violent intent and activity.  At the time, though, they had been caught in the middle of breakfast, Frank's brown skin freshly scrubbed from a hot shower, black stubble scrounging his normally babyfaced looks up, his large black afro lumpy and out of place.  While Dash had long since lost the need for hygiene like a normal human, his short green hair nevertheless required daily combing else his somewhat-dashing bedhead of spikes would plague him throughout the day.

Both of the Shopkeepers blinked at Frank's would-be hunter incredulously.  Slowly Frank turned to Dash, who turned and met his gaze with the same kind of question.

Then it dawned on both men simultaneously what she had said.

Frank frowned.

Dash frowned harder.

In an instant both men lunged out of their chairs, their intentions fully synchronized due to mutual grumpiness, the echoes of their violent exertions bouncing within the open-air floor of the upper half of The Shop.

The Generalist

Taboo 2: Magic and Mayhem (The Mayhem Arc – Part One)

by Thomas Duder

Round 1


Dash chuckled as he did just that, tossing the trussed-up young woman onto his favorite bean bag in the ipso-facto "living room," the upper level of The Shop a completely open-air format that only the keepers themselves knew on sight.  To the untrained eye it was one massive room with the myriad necessities of two bachelors at a high level of physical work: along the massive bay window there lay various types of weights and workout equipment, the room itself ranging from one end of the Shop to the other, split up by furnishings that would denote either a dining room, living room, bedroom and the kitchen cut off from the rest of the room solely by a bar, an island set within the center of the kitchen area itself.

To the eye that could see, the room was color-coordinated by the rugs that lay strewn comfortable underfoot, piled somewhat high and uneven in certain places.  While the living room area lay closest to the spiraling staircase that connected upper and lower levels, the "bedroom" (an area dominated by a four-post, massive, black-wooden bedframe draped with white samite) had been re-arranged to be directly next to it.  Next came the dining room area, a small and simple table with four chairs around it, and the kitchen area itself.  Between the massive bay window and the dining room, a humongous hammock made of thick netting had been hung, one that doubled as either a climbing wall or an emergency exit if thrown from the window.

To the eye that could see clearer than that, each section had been color-coded by the specific energy resonating within the Shop itself, each one arranged to maximize those energy flows and how they co-mingled.  Lesser fae, jewel-winged humanoid sprites of little intellect, flitted here and there with glowing balls of warm energy clutched within their tiny hands, regulating the flow of energies even as they enriched them to a specific ratio known only to they themselves and the Shopkeepers.  Brownies appeared here and there, tiny humanoids who simply walked through the brick walls as if they didn't exist, seeing to the constant cleaning and care of the Shop itself.  Beings of the various forms of energy (ki, psionic, magical, or pure spiritual - existing simply because someone believed they did) appeared briefly only to be casually dispelled by the Shop's feng shui to the dimension they originally hailed from.  Certain other beings of this realm, locked to the Shop's interdimensional strata, went about their individual business, ignoring those of the Physical Realm just like they of more fleshy natures equally ignored them as according to their balance.  Located in the heart of Los Angeles, California, the Shop bore the distinction of being a combination of alchemical reagents store, herbalist shop, interdimensional immigration, paranormal legal counsel, artifact hunting, exotic books library, exorcist services, and other bizarre services and goods for sale.  The bottom portion spanned the entirety of three different stores, made to look like they were closed up on the outside, and incorporated the various elements of their services into one massive warehouse, the second level devoted to their living quarters whenever Dash wasn't visiting two monster-gened sisters who had needed sanctuary with the Shop in order to thwart a complicated kidnapping plot.

To the keepers of the Shop, such daily occurrences (even the sanctuary and kidnapping venture) were exactly that, both daily and mundane.  The young magus, on the other hand, keened and wailed around the ball gag they had forced on her, her hands and feet tied expertly behind her even as the ropes bit into her simple robes, causing them to outline in perfect detail her full breasts and slim hips, perfectly in proportion to her small size.  Her eyes rolled as she took in every strange energy reading, the various denizens of the Shop and the two frighteningly powerful keepers themselves, their auras choked with their violent history, both individually and together.

Dash frowned as he noted the detailed rope work that went far beyond simply tying up the girl, then turned a balefully green eye to Frank, "Say, boss?"

"Yeah, chief?  God-DAMMIT!"  Frank growled as he collected pieces of his precious coffee mug, flung to the ground during the violent dash to capture the mage, "I didn't even have a fuckin' drink!  Like, none!  No coffee!  Ack!!!"

"...Boss, where did you get the ball gag from?"  Dash continued to squat by the bean bag, poking at the ropes even as the woman keened harder around the ball gag, wriggling about within her bonds, "And why did you tie her up like this?  I thought you were just gonna, y'know, hogtie her or somethin'.  This is a, I dunno...not NC-17 rated, y'know?"

Frank frowned and continued to pick up the shattered pieces of his mug, throwing them away before stalking towards them, "Don't ask and don't ask.  She's lucky I haven't skinned her and made an Edgar suit after what she did to this place!  All that pink smoke leaving a film everywhere," Frank stepped into her line of sight, her electric blue eyes widening as she fairly screamed around the ball gag, "She's DAMN lucky this is all she's gettin'!  Besides, since when have we been anything BUT X-rated, huh?  Like, Triple X. The first movie, not the second one - that one blew.  Hell, I'd at least say we deserve an R-rating most of the time anyway."

Dash cast an eye towards Frank then back to the girl, sighing as he reached out and slowly unbuckled the obscenely red ball gag, his huge hands graceful and deft despite their size and the claws on his fingers, mumbling to the young woman, "S-stop that!  Look, lady, we have questions, you got answers, right?  Stop shaking yer head around, and GAH STOP THAT!"  He glared at the girl even as she continued to wriggle about, "Look, I'm gonna undo this...thing...and take it out of"

Dash looked up at Frank and frowned, hard and deep.  Frank, catching the look in his eye, chuckled wickedly and gripped a handful of her blonde hair in one powerful hand to keep her steady, the other deftly undoing the ball gag as he growled, "Yer lucky the chief has such a soft heart for chicks.  Me, I'd make you pay for that coffee mug right outta yer ass - that was my fave coffee mug!"

Inhaling roughly and sharply, the young magus immediately closed her eyes and began a litany of words, her voice a stream of squeaks, "PLEASEDON'TEATME, PLEASEDON'TRAPEME, PLEASEDON'TREATME!"

"Wait, WHAT?!" Dash went cross-eyed with frustration before glaring at Frank, "TODD!  Fix this!!"

Grinning, Frank let go of her hair and instead Snapped his fingers directly in front of her face, the sound sharp enough to draw her out of her hysteria and immediately focused on his fingers.  To others, a simple snap of the fingers produced a nice, snappy sound.  Frank, on the other hand, had learned years before then how to directly induce ki-energy into the tips of his fingers, producing a snap that was both loud and a direct jolt to the ears, catching the attention of any the sonic energy was aimed at.

He tapped the tip of her small nose with his large finger and growled, "Listen.  You're okay, currently  You're at The Shop.  We've tied you up because you're either crazy, stupid, or possibly both.  We're not going to rape you.  We're not going to eat you," he looked back at Dash for a moment before offering an evil grin to the young woman, "Unless you piss me off enough.  Dashbro here has scales down there, and they can do innnnnteresting things to soft pretty pink parts like the ones you pro'lly got."

Ignoring Dash's glower, dark and hard enough to be palpable, Frank stood to his full five-foot-nine height and glared down at the magus, his brown eyes intense with power and authority, his voice calm and completely in control, "Now.  Tell us in plain English why you're here.  We have a strict policy about issues that go down on a Monday before breakfast, and the only reason why I haven't fed you to my troll is because I, also, have a soft spot in my trollish heart for women and children.  Now talk, before I decide to get hard on you."

Frank looked from the still-glowering troll to the still-quavering girl, then dug at his own eyes with the heels of his palms, "Okay OKAY, I didn't mean it like that!  Godammit, just talk.  Dash, stop looking at me like that."

Dash immediately broke into a grin, his emotions quicksilver the moment Frank relented.  The young magus shivered once more then gulped her fear down, her eyes closed for a moment as she visibly muttered a mantra to herself.  Frank squatted down next to Dash, both of them realizing the mental exercise she was performing in order to calm down and talk.  After a few moments more the young woman opened her eyes, her features once again set with percieved authority.

"Frank Todd, keeper of the Shop.  I hight Magus Tanelin, of the Special Jurisdiction Branch of the Order of Magi.  You are to-"

"Yeah, yeah, we got that part," Frank waved her off, lowering the power of his growl to a mere rumble, "The real question I have is why am I suppose to do ANYTHING for youse guys, huh?"

"Hey, I'm a keeper of the Shop too!" Dash made a long face, pawing at Frank's arm with both of his humongous hands, dwarfing the smaller man's beefy bicep, "I wanna ask questions too, that'll show her!"

Tanelin looked from Frank to Dash then back again, putting a harder edge to her somewhat soft voice, "You are a registered Higher Magus within the Order of Magi.  You pay dues once per year and have voted with each gathering you've been invited to.  By the love of the Four, you personally attended the Grand Magi's poker tournament in order to raise funds for last years' graduation ceremonies for...well, my class."

Dash looked to Frank, both hands resting on his knees as he asked, "Hey, bro.  I think I remember that, we totally came in fifth didn't we?  Got the bubble, took home some cash and slept with those hookers His Grandness hooked us up with, remember?  Dude was totally' that night!"

As Tanelin attempted to frown darkly, achieving only a smoldering pout, Frank rubbed at his unshaven chin and grunted, "Yeah...yeah.  We were playin' pretty good that night too.  That still doesn't mean I'm beholden to your laws, lady," he hiked a thumb at himself, "I never finished the Crucible training you and your class had ta.  I got my indoctrination remotely, somethin' I sent in as a joke after my mysticism training and the Skinwalker squad in the army," he grunted harder, "HRMPH!  I ain't no Mage, let alone a High Magus.  But His Largeness likes the swizzle of the Shop's swag, so we stay cool with one another, that's all.  I ain't a member of your Order, so I don't have to give two rats ass about what kinda weight you guys think you can throw around in our town."

The young magus tilted her head thoughtfully and chirped, "But...Magus DeFerens swore you'd come if called by the Council.  That you were a loyal member of the Order, respectful and honorable and willing to take responsibility for your actions-"

Frank immediately got up and strode to the brick wall at the dining room area, reaching out and grasping an invisible handle.  Exerting a small amount of psionic force, his personal walk-in closet revealed itself as the door swung outwards.  Throwing clothes about, he immediately began to pack a suitcase as Dash finally caught up to him, sputtering aloud, "W-wha?  Frank, I...I mean, what the f-"

"Xiahou Dun ate his own eye at the battle of Xia Pi, then killed the archer that shot it out," Frank whispered aloud.  Dash, his green eyes widening at the code, immediately backed off and thought silently, looking askance as Frank continued to pack his suitcase.  Tanelin, curious at the sudden shift in mood, squirmed about on the bean bag, her electric blue eyes finding them before asking aloud, "So...does this mean you'll place yourself under arrest, Frank Todd?"

"I place myself at the will of the Special Jurisdiction Branch of the Order of Magi, Magus Tanelin," Frank nodded as he closed the door to the closet, for all intensive purposes once again a solid brick wall, "But I claim the rights of a High Magus.  I need not submit my reagents, artifacts, familiars or anything else to the whim of the Special Jurisdiction.  The Shop need not power down its' defenses.  I willingly place myself under arrest with neither artifact nor medium - Dash, untie her will ya?"

Dash frowned but began to do so, reluctantly.  While he slowly worked out the knots, eliciting gasps and yelps from the young woman, Frank moved to the blank wall behind the hammock, once again reaching for a doorknob that wasn't there.  Placing his hand directly onto the brick wall he closed his eyes and sent out his Hookshot, the psionic embodiment of will and emotion that all psychics were able to manifest.

Immediately the lines of the door glowed an ice-cold blue before swinging open into the Armory, the hidden room that held the greatest Artifacts they had either recovered or made.

The entire room, longer and wider than the Shop itself, glowed an intense white from the walls themselves, the center of the room filled with waist-high pedestals of purest marble, arranged in concentric squares.  Atop each pedestal an Artifact or Item floated, encased within a psionic bubble of pure telekinetic power, keeping the abilities and various energies within from mingling with one another, causing a chain reaction of reality-warping consequences.  Along the wall more of the bookcases from the Library lay neat and ordered, each one bearing minor Items or Artifacts, the strongest of them placed at the farthest end of the Armory where a gigantic psionic glyph lay permanently burned into the white wall itself, glowing red and seething with power.

In front of the gigantic glyph a wooden sword, a bokken, floated in mid-air, bobbing gently from unearthly eddies and winds generated by its' very presence.  Frank stood before it, regarding the Artifact known as "Ghost Hunter" with a bit of nostalgia - early on in his demon hunting days, this had been his greatest tool and weapon, his strongest Artifact and with it had exorcised or banished over a thousand demons.

The resultant violence and energies thereof had been trapped within the blade before he had known how to properly Artifice, and because of that this, his greatest Artifact, was slowly dying with each use.  Reaching out to stroke it, he could sense the secret writing within the bokken's core, another segment that was a part of his very soul.

Fuel your blood
With pure rage
Fuel your actions
with pure emotion

He grinned and turned to regard the center of the Armory, the floor and ceiling heavy with dormant, quiet machinery, each one a mirror of the other and connected by a single tube of transparent glass.  Atop the bottom machinery, as if a pedestal itself, lay a single brick of purest gold, the various energies of the Shop flowing through it.  Satisfied with the conflux of energies within the room he nodded, his final checklist done as he began to stride across the Armory.

Tanelin, gasping, stood at the door, her eyes wide with wonder at the spectacle of some of the most legendary Artifacts lying casually against the walls between the bookcases.  Chuckling, Frank stopped to pick up a few rocks he had left in a fish bowl by the door before closing it, Dash grinning behind the young magus as Frank tapped the tip of her nose.

"That is not for the likes of you, young Magus Tanelin," Frank pocketed the rocks, put on his tough black, fibrous jacket and held his hands out towards her, wrists up, "You'll carry my suitcase, won't you?"

"Hey, boss, you sure about this?" Dash frowned, stroking at the scales of his own cheek in thought with a clawed thumb, "I mean...we can still nab her and probably beat everyone up over at the Order."

Frank nodded, "I'm sure.  It's time you started control, Dash."

Dash's eyes widened for a moment before a slow, evil, monstrous grin transformed his handsome, humanoid features into something completely alien, "Oh.  Oh-hohoho.  Heheh.  Hah!"

Tanelin shivered and took Frank into custody, her back turned to block out the sight of the transformed Troll as he began to cackle with wicked glee, something in their conversation warning her that there was more to it than simple words but to what end she couldn't discern.

How could controlling anything bring about such a change within that creature...? She thought to herself as she prepared the teleportation spell, even more thoughts whizzing through her head as she divested her attention to the spell.


The Generalist – Taboo 2: Magic and Mayhem (Part 1 of The Mayhem Arc)

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