It is a perfectly ordinary Friday at the Lethbridge Library. Mothers with small children are in the kid-friendly section, and, at last, librarians can breathe a sigh of relief -- teenagers are officially back at schools during weekdays, and there is no more need to chase hooligans through the aisles of shelves.
Or is there? Dun dun duuunnnn.
After seeing the art display and learning the local legend about the Stranger, Charlie is headed to library to do some research on the Stranger, on missing kids, and Fae. And on parasites. And fungal lung infections. The list is LONG! They city too interesting.
And, of course, there's nothing at all unusual about these things, right?
She's wearing dirtied up jeans, and a stained tank top, paired with steel toed boots. The usual fare for when she's been kicking it around the warehouse and working on things. The scent of the forge and crucible and less savory things linger on her.
Walter was in the area and got an urgent call from nature. From when he was living on the streets he knows that people don't like you just using any ole corner. Libraries have restrooms so he came in when he saw it. Not finding the restroom for a few monutes he asked the librarian and hurried in. Looking mich more relaxed but none smaller when he comes back out. A look at the door then at the books. Time for a library card as he's going to be in town for a little bit. His clothes are not st all new but atleast they're clean. Jeans and a dark green t-shirt.
As he makes his way towards the counter to fill out an application he spots the much small smith. No wave just yet. Maybe he won't be noticed.
Of course, Avalon's not an unfamiliar face at the library, even if she's not a member of the, err, board. But there's an easy smile on her lips as she breezes in, greets one of the librarians by name. There's a mostly empty satchel on her shoulder, surely in prep for the haul of books that she'll be bringing home with her. Mis-matched eyes darting about, here and there.
Not be noticed? Fat chance, at that height. Walter is given double-takes and admiring or wary looks from anyone who is paying even a remote iota of attention to the world around them.
This includes a little boy with messy black hair and a Griffindor tie sloppily wrapped around his neck, sitting with what appear to be at least half a dozen siblings over in the children's reading area to the left of the entrance. The little boy, his voice clear, piping and carrying, oh, throughout the entire atrium, asks a woman nearby, "Where'd Hagrid's hair go?" He sounds like he's on the verge of tears.
Charlie and Avalon both get smiles and waves from the staff on duty, but unless they approach a librarian, the Guardians of Bookishness won't leave their posts.
She'll need a library card, too. Charlie grabs a couple of the books she needs and heads for the desk, brightening. "Hey, Walter." Greeting the face she knows and falling into line behind him. It must be awesome, seeing his boss-lady holding books with titles like: Faeries: Myths & Legends, Mushroom Circles and more!, and Faeries: A Collection of Tales. Right along with a couple of medical and holistic books on herbalism.
"Got some heavy lifting planned for your brain, today?"
Great. He can never just go in somewhere and back out without being noticed. Unless he tries. Walter stares in confusion at the boy. He must be really immersed into story time. "It will be fine." He gives the boy a big thumbs up and an attempt at a warm comforting smile. It just looks awkward instead.
Okay. Now to go out without being further noticed.... Nope. "Hello, Miss Charlie." Is said back to her as he looks at the books. "I had to...um...." He trails off and nods his head towards the restrooms. He looks towards Avalon as she moves about. "Her eyes are weird."
Seriously, how could anyone not notice someone that tall? Avalon certainly doesn't miss the man - she even goes so far as to do a double-take when her gaze is towards the library desk. And while she doesn't whistle out loud at his height, her lips purse in a silent one. It's in that looking that she bespies Charlie, as well. Or moreso, the books that she's carting around with her. This time, when lips press, it's in a much more thoughtful manner, as one hand lifts up to toy with that charm about her neck.
Her eyes -are- weird. Two very, very different colors, those. Hrh.
A scream shatters the quiet hum of softly spoken conversations. From the sound of it, the source is female, young and terrified beyond all reason. A second scream begins, then cuts off with disturbing finality. The sound was coming from the open mezzanine on the second floor, off to the paranormal side of things.
The scream is unsettling on already rattled nerves. Not even the library is a bastion from the crazy! Charlie steps around Walter's big butt to lay the books about faeries, herbalism, and medical information on the counter. "Does she?" Distracted. "That's from upstairs. I was just..." Her voice trails and she starts for the stairs - they tend to be faster than waiting for an elevator to come down, close, and ascend.
Charlie rolls 3 on Omen Sensitivity.
Avalon rolls 4 on Omen Sensitivity.
This is why he was just going to pass through. No rest in this town. Walter pats at his pocket with a nos after the screams. "Well..dang it.." He turns and makes his carefully but as quickly as he can towards the stairs. Taking them three at a time as he makes his way up and towards where the screams are coming from.
Avalon had been so interested in those books that Charlie's putting down on the counter. Enough so that those green and amber eyes are lifting up, her lips are parting, and there's almost a word that comes out. Instead? Instead there's a scream coming from above. "Fuck me," she says under her breath. "Stay down here," she suggests to the librarian behind the counter. Nevermind that the witch, herself, is also heading towards the stairs. And wishing that one day, she had decided to be a runner. "Wasn't a death cry, at least," she assures the air around herself.
Other patrons are, according to their natures, fleeing the area or running toward the source of the scream, and, within seconds, before the trio even crests the head of the gently curving stairs (whichever side they took), another scream rings out, along with stifled sobs and various other sounds a crowd makes when distressed by damage to the human herd.
In this case, it would be because some ruby carpet is getting a darker ruby stain, a very dead teenage boy sprawled on the floor with a puncture wound through his throat, blank eyes already glassy with death. A book on psychic phenomena is nearby, pages bent and curved from where it landed belly-down. A crowd of people surrounds the scene, hesitating, as if uncertain whether they should approach further.
There is no sign of a young woman, but another book is on the floor farther down the aisle.
Charlie is oddly alright with the blood and the dead kid. Except she's /not/. Not at all. Normally blood doesn't bother her, but the smith pales and sways on her feet. "I.. I think..." she blind gropes for something to lean against and steadies herself, "Must have... sounded like a girl cause.. throat.. thing.. I.." She swallows hard and closes her eyes, not wanting to see. Which is funny, since she can go elbow deep in roadkill full of gross things and bugs, but /this/ is what makes her woozy and dizzy.
Violence happens all yje time, its the books involved that has Walter concearned. A think finger is pointed at the boy, then the book. "Gone. What was he looking at?" A uick look around at the scene and he says "Shit." A very rare curse. "She's been taken that way." A wave of his hand to the books that are out of order and he heads around the corner to follow. Hopefully follow. A glance at Charlie as he rounds the corner. She'll be fine. Right? Right.
Avalon's eyes widen at the sight, all that blood coming out of the poor teenage boy. She was right, at least, in that the female cry wasn't a death one. Maybe. But still, there's a body on the floor. At least the carpet is a similar color. "Oh, you poor lamb," she says softly, genuinely. Her eyes do a quick scan, taking in the rest of the scene, and that book. She's already reaching for it, before Walter speaks on it. That haunted look in her eyes seems to increase, as she scans the body, looking for something. Whatever it is, or isn't, seems to relax her a bit.
The people around the body finally seem to wake up when Walter mentions that someone was 'taken' somewhere, stirring, and several people belatedly fumble for cell phones to start dialing in 911, their jumbled conversations with the emergency services overlapping in an anxious, scattered melange.
As for Avalon, no one stops her from taking the book. The wound on the boy's neck is oddly circular, and very large. Not a knife.
As for Charlie, a nice, matronly woman with large bosoms and a larger belly promptly moves to comfort her, total stranger or no. If Charlie doesn't resist, she'll get a good warm arm around her back and the implied offer of a hug. The woman has tears streaming down over her cheeks as she stares down at the very dead young man.
As for Walter... by following the pattern of scuffed places on the carpet, he finds some scratches on the lockplate of a nearby maintenance door leading out into the crawlspaces behind the public walls. If he tries the door, it is locked.
Yes. The poor squishy lady gets a huge, arm straining, rib creaking /CLING/ from Charlie. "Thanks." Hiding in giant bosoms is comforting before she sucks in a big breath and peels herself away. Someone killed the kid. Right under her fucking nose. "Do you know his name? Does -anyone- know his name?" she calls out as she pulls a knife from her back pocket and sidesteps the spreading puddle of blood. Bending at the waist, not caring if her butt is in the air, she uses the very tip of the blade to ease the skin flaps on the wound a little more open. "... sonuvabitch. Walter!" Where did that big bastard get off to?! "WALTER! It looks like a stake! Like vampire or broken broom handle or..." Something else? Something worse? "... something." A glance to Avalon. "Where did he go? The big guy, cue ball, fuzzy butthole type goatee thing on his face."
Walter tracks his prey across the carpet. Following the scuffs ans signs of struggle. "Damn it!" Locked. He could just tear the door off the hinges or a hole through it. Might be faster. No. He shakes his head. "Think. Be subtle." Is said softly to himself. Charlies yells causes him to look back. "Seriously? Someone stabbed him with a broom?!" Not good. Time for subtle. The Wyrd is called on as he invokes a clause directed at the lock. "Open, please." No reason not to be polite. Theres a click as he lock, unlocks. He gabs the knob and opens the door to step throuh. "Now where did you go?" Head swivels side to side looking and listening.
Carefully, Avalon lifts the book near the dead kid. Flipping it over, so she can see the pages that it landed upon. There's an arch of brows, and a quietly thoughtful sound. Before, sin of sins, she further dogears the book and slides it into her satchel. "Wait, staked? Isn't that supposed to be the heart? You need to sever the head with a ...nevermind. " There's a gesture, towards where Walter went, as she rises up to her feet once more. "Poor kid."
There is a lot of lady to squish, and she doesn't seem to mind the bone-creaking clinging a bit, pat pat patting poor unhinged Charlie and releasing her grip when Charlie pulls away.
In response to the question about knowing the boy's name, people look to each other, reflex, but no one seems to know the answer. A few hurry back toward the head of the stairs along the path by the railing, and in the near distance, a siren begins to wail. One advantage to being located in the same city district as the police and fire station: prompt service.
The lock unlocks with a quiet *click* when Walter asks it to do so. The door opens quietly, well-maintained, and the hallway beyond is well lit and mundane. It is also well-maintained, the floor immaculately swept and clean, with no dust or dirt to track out onto the library carpets.
There are, however, distinct footsteps farther down the hall, laboured and shuffling a bit. A curse can be heard, but it doesn't seem like the source is aware of Walter.
Walter, however, is also immediately aware of one important thing: the crawlspace was not designed for someone SEVEN FEET TALL. Unless he ducks, he is going to hit his head on every single doorframe he goes through, and his shoulders are a tight squeeze in some places.
Charlie makes a bit of a face. Small town, library. Kind of surprising no one knows the kid's name. "Damn, alright." She'll find out in the papers, surely. Avalon gets a tip lipped look and a nod as she starts after Walter, hurrying her chubby self right along to try and catch up to the big guy.
Well, Dima didn't expect this. Libraries were places of quiet contemplation and learning, not places visited by a fleet of emergency vehicles and some type of very worried crowd. Of course, given his track record with the law, Dima parked a bit closer then he normally would. Just in case. There likely wouldn't be a need for all the weapons in there, but it didn't hurt to be careful. Charlie was in there, after all. He kind of liked the woman. She was tough, worked with metal, and could likely crack a skull when the chips where down.
...Provided it wasn't a skull in this library. Then he'd have to make sure she wasn't caught. Given the amount of incoming heat, that'd involve things he really didn't need right now. So here's hoping, yeah?
The wheelman walks in, chains glinting and tracksuit immaculate. Nobody would ever expect to see a person like him in a public library, with ink rivalling the print count and a rap sheet about as long as the average novel. Most of that was back home, however. And Dima liked to read. That alone made him something of an anomaly among his peers and family. So, he keeps quiet, looks comfortable, and peers up at the second floor. Ah. Well. Seems that's were this is occuring.
Ascending the steps, he shoots Charlie an update before he goes up in full. 'at library. what up?'
Walter looks down the hall towards the breathing. Sounds lie soneone being forced like a human shield or uncooperative hostage. And of course it's not made for someone of his size. Nothing is. A quick look back through the door to see if anyone else is coming. He puts a finger to his lips to signal for quiet. Then the huge man makes his way after the sounds as quickly aas he can while being quiet. Ducking and turning a bit to go throuh each door he comes to.
Book last read by a dead man acquired, at least. Whatever Avalon might need that for. For her part, she doesn't seem to recognize the kid. While Charlie and Walter are heading for the hidden hall, she's doing something entirely different. A man in the crowd is picked out, older than her by a few decades. She squeezes his forearm in greeting, and there's a familiar, "Fred."
The witch's voice drops to a softer volume, as she continues, "There was something planned about this. I have the book that the kid was reading, let them know, yeah? The crawlspaces, where do they dump out to?"
A quick text back to Dima: 'Upstairs. Don't step in the blood. Around the shelves on the left, heading into the crawlspace. It's a fucking party.'
Phone repocketed after being put on vibrate, Charlie slips in behind Walter, not having nearly the problem he does with the size of the crawl space. She -could- go faster, but he makes a damned fine meatshield if things get stakey.
Charlie is able to catch up to Walter, no problem, and the two of them, however slowly, are able to continue through the crawlspace behind the wall. Ahead of them, something clanks against a metal plumbing pipe, the sound fabric-muffled. Maybe in a bag? It sounded too organic to be metal, whatever the object was. As they get closer, they can hear someone whispering, but can't quite make out the words yet.
For Avalon and, now, Dima out on the mezzanine floor, the crowds are thickening, and the sirens are getting louder and louder, police and paramedics pulling up to the front of the building.
Fred, when Avalon speaks to him, frowns to her in restrained distress, but seems galvanized by what she says. "I won't lie to the cops if someone asks about the book, but I won't mention it was on the scene, either," he murmurs back to her. He seems to concentrate for a moment, eyes closing, then opens his eyes and nods. "They know."
Fuck. Alright. Dima's face goes from drugged-out shark to just shark when he crests the top of the stairs, noticing the crimson splotch seeping into the carpet. What's in it doesn't help. Why the kids, man? Shit. Someone wanted this one to bleed hard, judging by that throat. Nasty business. Dima's hand rests next to his waistband, the other tapping out messages.
'heat here. crowd bigger. van out front. where need me?'
Sucking on his teeth, Dima made it around the shelves to the crawlspace, peering in. Hm. Alright. He could make that. Charlie could, and she was...generous.
Doesn't sound like someone is having a snack so Walter keeps ith the sneaking. He looks back at Charlie and taps at knuckle then makes a claw hand motion. Trying to show what he thinks the sound. Claws or bones. There's little place to hide...except bhind him. But he tries, flattening againt a wall as much as he can while moving closer. Slower as he does, trying to keeo quiet and unnoticed while trying to hearwhat's being said.
"I would never ask someone to lie," Avalon says, looking Fred in the eyes. "But I figured that maybe it could help, if it wasn't caught up in one of those evidence bags. Between me, and one of your people." While she's certainly a bit disturbed by the death, the haunted look in her eyes goes beyond just blood. "I'll hand it off to whomever will tell me what they see." As he explains the crawlspace layout to her, she sighs. "Was hoping for an easier answer than that, Fred. But thanks." It sounds genuine.
The tea witch, she heads towards where the others went now, and while she doesn't climb on into that crawlspace, she -does- try and see which way they're heading.
Charlie's pocket buzzes and she is SO GLAD she turned it onto vibrate. Pulling the phone out, she taps a quick message to Dima 'Come in? Stay? Up to you?' Dealer's choice on where the man might want to go or how far down the somewhat literal rabbit hole he wants to go. Using Walter as a moving wall to hide behind, she tries to stay quiet as they move, but the muffled thumps and scrapes have her pushing on him. Move, faster! She doesn't care if he bonks his cueball noggin on the ceiling or not.
Dima is leaning against the wall when Avalon goes to the crawlspace, the witch getting an odd look. Friend? Foe? Likely a friend, because he's not attacking her and does seem to be looking out for people. He nods, speaking up with his mongrel-accented voice. "You know where this goes, man?" Sure, he could go down the rabbit hole, or he could tunnel to where it ended up. Better that then all of them being in an enclosed area when something goes wrong.
Walter, unfortunately, doesn't quite manage to overhear what the person is saying. He does, however, catch a glimpse of motion around a corner. From the direction they've been going, it seems like the crawlspace moves around between rooms, and they're about to head around the back of the building. Hopefully someone has decent direction sense.
The motion, on closer inspection, is the skirt-wearing legs of a young woman with comfortable sandals being set onto the floor, and the breathing up ahead is a bit wheezy. The voice mumbles again, panting for breath, and there's a quiet thunk as something hits the floor.
Outside, Fred tightens his lips, but nods. "Circulation desk. Get Suzanne. She knows you're coming." His head turns as the sound of booted feet clomps up the stairs, police in light body armour rushing onto the scene of the crime. "Looks like it's show time." He straightens his shoulders and walks away from the departing witch to approach the police, escorting them the rest of the way toward the crime scene.
When Avalon gets to the crawlspace and, incidentally, meets up with Dima, the two of them are in luck: no one is paying them any attention at all, not yet, though the way the police are fanning out, that will change in a matter of seconds. Say, three seconds. They are quite Speedy.
Walter leans his head closer and closer. Trying to make out what's being whispered. So close....ad then Charlie touches him. He turns to her, cheeks a bit red and gives her a 'what are you doing?' look. Can't hear and can't wait. Not with the newest sounds. He presents a palm to her, hoping that she will stay back. Probably not if she is pushing him along. Hands ball up into fists and he just goes for it, moving around the corner to see what's going on.
"Thank you, again, Fred." Good parting words, for the most part.
"Unfortunately? Everywhere. Around the building, with exits in various rooms, and even to some fire escapes," Avalon offers to Dima, once she's there. "My suggestion is that we get out of here. Before they eye one of us. Or worse, stop us from helping." A you first sort of gesture is made.
Walter surges forward and Charlie is right behind him. She's no good in a fight, but maybe she can help clear things or set things on fire. Or fix things. She's handy, just not in situations like this! But she's pissed a kid got killed, and not about to hang back!
Walter sees a tired man in his early 40s, maybe 5'8", a little taller. He has thinning hair and glasses, and while he's a bit more muscular than the average school teacher, that's overall what he looks like, his clothing screaming 'I don't get paid enough' and 'I'm totally not the kind of person who would stab a high school kid through the throat with a sharp object'.
He is, though. There's blood on his clothes, and on the girl, though the girl is NOT a corpse, and not bleeding. She does have the beginnings of a bruise egging up on her temple, however.
The man is crouching down to reach into his bag when Walter gets close enough to hear him, his murmured words resolving into a recitation of something in Latin. That ends soon, and he quietly whispers a heartfelt, "I won't let you turn into one of them, child. I know you've been infected, just like Johnny, but we'll set you fr--"
Aaaand it's about then that the seven and a half foot Ogre shows up on the scene, followed by the two-and-some foot shorter Charlie. Dima will have to run a fair distance to catch up. The man, startled, jerks up to his feet and immediately reaches for his belt, yanking out a wooden stake with wild eyes. "No! You can't have her!! You bloodsucking devils stole my son-" his voice cracks, "-but you won't get his girl!!"
Walter stops as he rounds the corner and gets a good look. Girl bloody but not injured. The knock on her coconut might even mean she doesn't remember. That ould be lucky. But that's not the kind of luck he has. No idea what the biggerish is. Sounds like church. "she's not...it's daytime..." Nope. No way to talk him down. Some might be able to but not the ogre. "I don't want her assbutt!" He's not very good at cursing. His muscles swell, stressing the seams of his clothes and he launches forward. Infusing his muscles with power he rapidly closes the distance and swings one huge fist in a wide arc. A right hook that lands like a heavy weight boxer.
Still up? Resilience of the crazy or fanatical. Walter's head dips to the side a bit as the man isstill up. He should at least have the man's attention. He drops a shoulder and takes a step to the right as he draws his arm back. Before the man can react he swings another hard shot. Uppercut just under the ribs. There's a pause, waiting for the man to crumple. "Still up?"
The man is pushed back by Walter's first strike, and by the second, but while he does cry out and seem a bit dazed, he stays up, swaying.
Dima likes this tall one. He can punch and taunt? Good signs. Still, the old man was tough. The gopnik steps up, brass knuckles glinting on his left hand. The low whistle gets the fanatic's eyes on him. Dima's right hand, meanwhile, is full of dust, cobwebs, and mouse feces. They find his eyes in a puff of grayish dust, followed by blow to the kidney. "Sleep now, Gazyol. Make it clean for us.", he sneers, eyes dead but /loving this/.
"The Rite of Exorcism? You've got to be fucking kidding me." Avalon sounds more resigned than anything, letting those words out with a sigh. Luckily for the witch, she's smaller than the brawlers. It's carefully done, the way that she twists and moves and avoids Walter and Dima. Crouching. Crawling a little. But she does make her way to the unconscious girl. Giving her a quick once-over, before dragging her a bit further down the hall. Hopefully, she stays knocked out.
A father kills his own son, but has no idea how to properly stake a fang. And now he's going to kill the kid's girlfriend? Hell. No.
Anger makes it easy. Walter and Dima are playing punching bag, but the guy still has his pointy stick, and some obscene strength to do what he did.
Charlie breathes in. Breathes out, focus on the stake. With the end of that exhaled breath, the air around the weapon heats up -fast- in the moment before the wood combusts, burning hot and likely burning the man's hand. Woof.
In the distance, the sound of raised voices heralds the police's discovery of footprints heading toward the maintenance door.
Avalon has no trouble getting the girl away from the fight, and she does remain unconscious, though she frets a little bit, getting closer to awareness. The hindbrain knows what the rest of the brain is too nightnight to notice.
The stake Charlie torches does, indeed, burn the man's hand, and after a yelp and a hiss, he screams in rage and bellows, "NO!!! YOU CAN'T HAVE HER!! DIE, VAMPIRE SCUM!!!!" while attempting to shove past, you know, the guy who's two feet taller than he is.
Also, seriously. What vampire movies has he been watching?
The man, unfortunate soul, is too focused on reaching Avalon and the unconscious girl, and trips over Dima and Walter so badly that A) his left leg audibly snaps when his shin bends the wrong direction and, B) his head hits the floor, face first, and he slumps down, quite unconscious, falling at Avalon's feet as lingering momentum skids him over the floor.
He has to be on drugs. No other way to explain him still being up. Walter's surprised by the sudden fire and raises an arm to shield his face and eyes. Expecting it to be meant for him. Searing pain doesn't come so he lowers it. The man bolts, focused on his 'mission' and the giatn follows. One huge arm is raise up and he shifts his weight when the man trips. Intending to drop an elbow down on the mans back, driven by his considerable mass. There's no movement and he is barely able to stop the elbow drop with a stumble to regain his balance. The stake is kicked away to slide across the floor. "Is she hurt?" Asked to Avalon.
The guy goes down hard, Charlie hearing the wet snap of the bone and smiling. There's people coming. Dropping to a knee, she feels the fracture out in the man's leg and smile. "Live broken, bitch." she murmurs, so sweet in tone, but savage as she gives the broken bones a precise sort of twist. No one knows better than healers how to ruin flesh, and the way she moves the bones, she ensures the nerves and the major blood supply are torn, shredded. He might lose it, he might not. But either way, he'll never run or climb stairs or do more than shuffle with a useless leg again.
Avalon's mismatched eyes lift to the man as he tries to charge towards her, and the out-cold girl. "Witch, asshole," she hisses towards him defiantly. And, by the looks of things, ready to fight. But then, there's that spectacular fall that takes care of it all. "She's alright. Should get checked for a concussion of course, but she's fine. Poor thing." A glance over her shoulder. "The cops are on their way. If any of you need to beat feet, do it now. There are exits further down. One on the...left, should lead to a fire escape."
Dima, meanwhile, is stomping on that burning stake to keep the dry and dusty room from exploding into an inferno. What the /fuck/ was that? At least the girl was alright, it seemed. A nod to Avalon, a mock salute to Charlie, an appreciative smile of mutual 'we-just-kicked-an-ass' and he is /gone/. He some things to think about, of the magic-variety.
No stranger to violence after many years of it. When it hapend, Walter looks at Charlie and the maimaing she does. The violence itself is old hat to him. That part that is surprising and gets a serious look with his brows push together is it's source. The small seemingly meek Charlie. They will have to talk. Dima gets the stake out so one less issue to worry about. "I don't..." A shake of his head. Explainations can wait. Surely everyone in the library saw him while he was there. Issues for another time. "Dinner." Is all he says directed at Charlie and a nod with a smile at Avalon before he makes his way out the back while the cops come in the front.
Fire out, leg ruined, Charlie rises and nods to the others. She's quick to head for the exit that Avalon suggests. So much for research. And a simple trip to the library. Now it's a quick escape and a trip home and beating on things. Cause she's still upset. And beating things is always nice.