Thursday, January 27, 2011
The misty shape coalesces into a black form — a woman in Victorian mourning garb, with heavy veils over her face. Dr. Wei sighs and turns to Jones, Kevin, and Leah, indicating that he’s probably not going to get anything out of her. He asks about Leah’s friend, but the spectral woman doesn’t seem to know anything about her. Dr. Wei explains that she’s a ghoul, a ghostly mourner, and will probably only know questions about death and the dead. Kevin asks about suspicious activity, and the woman doesn’t specifically know anything, while Jones and Leah both ask about dead loved ones; Jones asks about an old Air Force buddy who died back in Somalia, while Leah asks about her mother — the woman doesn’t know them, either, and suspects they have “passed on.” When asked about Iggy, she says she doesn’t know him. The woman then fades, and the bowl is empty.
Dr. Wei apologizes, suspecting that the ghoul reacted to the cow blood in the bowl. It’s impossible to predict what a ghost might want, though. Kevin notes that they might be able to catch a drunk with alcohol, and Dr. Wei agrees to try the ritual again. Kevin heads down the street to a liquor store, and upon his return, Dr. Wei fills the bowl with rotgut. After a few minutes of waiting, a misty shape again forms, but this time coalesces into a heavily-swaddled Hispanic man, probably an vagrant. He leans down by the bowl and begins scooping liquor into his mouth with his hand. Dr. Wei again asks about Leah’s friend, but the man seems out of it and doesn’t seem to be aware of her. The only thing he really notes is that some people enter, but fewer leave — those that leave sometimes exit from the front or the back. As for the building next door, all of those who enter eventually leave.
The vagrant ghost similarly dissipates with little fanfare, leaving the group to discuss these matters. With nothing further to be done, Dr. Wei takes his leave, although he notes that he will poke around and see if he can find anything about this strange building. If they need anything more from him, feel free to contact him. Kevin invites him to his taco night on Saturday, and Dr. Wei says he will probably be there.
After Dr. Wei leaves, the group decides to investigate the adjacent building. As they return to the sidewalk, Kevin passes near the door of 811 Wilshire and it opens. They decide not to enter, however, but at least they can bypass the door if necessary. Since the neighboring building requires people to be buzzed up, Leah loiters outside and finally catches someone entering, convincing them that she misplaced her key and needs to get back in the building. Once she enters, she wastes time investigating her purse until the man who let her in takes the elevator; she then opens the door for Jones and Kevin. They proceed to the second floor and take the skyway to 811 Wilshire. Kevin focuses and notes that the city’s holes stop at 811 Wilshire; they persist even as close as the skyway joining the two buildings. They open the doors to the 811 Wilshire mezzanine, and while the doors open without incident, there is a guard desk with one of the guards in white uniforms sitting at it. He glowers at the three of them as they peer into the mezzanine, and Leah waves as they close the doors.
Deciding that they don’t want to push their luck by entering the building again, Jones drives everyone back to his house so they can return to their cars and go their separate ways. Kevin brings up the prospect of inviting members of the local occult underground so as to keep on friendly terms with people. They mention Clark, and Leah texts him, but doesn’t think he’ll come. (He texts back saying he’ll see if he can make it, although he does ask for Kevin’s address.) The prospect of inviting Tyrannicide arises, but no one ever commits to the idea. Mabel has already been invited. They do decide to invite the American Dream, however, and Kevin tells Leah to invite Bex as well. She figures she might invite Lorenzo, although she’ll think about it. Kevin mentions the prospect of Jones inviting Detective Willett, but after some discussion — largely about his upcoming Mexico trip — he seems sullen about the idea and vetoes it. Leah asks about inviting Jane, and he also says, “No.” In terms of business tomorrow, Kevin says he’ll investigate the records at City Hall tomorrow about the building. Jones drives Kevin home, and afterward, goes walking on the beach. Between two houses, he comes across an unkempt old homeless man being harassed by two college kids; he manages to defuse the situation by engaging them about sports, distracting them from the homeless guy long enough for him to scurry away. After they wander away, Jones continues his vigil for a while, walking the beach. When he finds nothing further, he heads home.
At home, Jones tries to call some friends and see if they can point him in a direction to learn anything about 811 Wilshire, but they don’t know anything.
Leah is interrupted from her evening activities from a phone call from an unknown number. She answers it to find it is The Dealer. He wishes to apologize for any initial impressions she may have of him, and indicate that he wants to talk to her about something. He does not feel comfortable discussing it over the phone, and she has to meet him alone, somewhere semi-private. The The King’s Court does not know he is meeting her, and he would prefer to keep it that way. They agree on the backroom of Chakras at about noon.
The next day, Kevin heads to City Hall and pokes around. The building’s records seem to be in order, but the owners on record appear to be dead Indonesian businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen and some Azerbaijani holding company called EL Holding. Clearly a little odd. He sends a text to Jones to let him know that the records check out.
Leah is getting ready for her day and contacts Kevin to let him know that she’s meeting The Dealer. The Dealer won’t come if he’s watching, but would he be able to hang around nearby? He says he can. He heads over around 11 AM, and hides in a “hole.”
Leah also gets the distinct impression she’s being watched, sometime a little after 10 AM. She can’t determine anything else about it, although she’s become aware that she can sense people watching her as of yesterday. The feeling doesn’t go away until she arrives at Chakras.
The Dealer arrives shortly after Leah, and Leah makes note that he’s been watching her. He chuckles enigmatically, then explains his purpose. He would be interested in investing in her eventual corporate aspirations, although that is not the primary purpose of his visit. He wishes to talk about her father. The King of Scales saw fit to send Jasper away to gain his domain, even though killing him probably would have been the easier option. The Dealer wasn’t party to the deal with Iggy, but the general idea was that Iggy got Jasper out of the King’s domain, and Iggy got to leave town with no trouble after having built up enough of a life for himself that he had something to throw away. The Dealer further wishes to convey that the King’s Court had no method of interacting with her father, as he was unaware of his occult power, and could not be certain of his trustworthiness. As such, he was perhaps removed unwisely. As far as he knows, Jasper is in Algeria, although it’s possible he’s moved in the meantime as the King’s Court is not keeping tabs on him. He definitely doesn’t know where Iggy is; not keeping track of him was part of the bargain Iggy struck with the King of Scales.
Leah finishes by asking when she’ll get her map and pipe, and The Dealer indicates that she’ll get them by the auction as she asked, probably around whenever tickets get printed. With nothing further, The Dealer takes his leave and says he’ll be in touch.
Leah texts Kevin and Kevin calls her back, although his voice is distorted. He directs her to a spot about a block away and tries to pull her into one of his “holes,” but the act of leaning out dislodges him enough that he spills back onto the street. Fortunately, no one other than Leah sees him doing so. Leah conveys what The Dealer told her, and they agree to have a meeting tonight, at her house, around 5 PM. They’ll let Jones know when he’s off work. Discussing Jones segues into speculation about his love life, given how sullen he seemed to be when the topics of Willett and Jane were mentioned last evening, and Kevin notes that Mabel already invited Jane to his party, so he doesn’t know how that will turn out.
After Kevin and Leah part company, they continue about their respective days. Kevin calls Jones in the afternoon to let him know that Leah was pulled into a meeting with The Dealer, and they’re going to meet about it at her house at 5 PM. To unwind, Jones sits and people watches until it’s time to head over to Leah’s house.
Everyone assembles around 5 PM, and Leah has tea and beer ready. She explains her encounter with The Dealer, and Jones seems skeptical as that information is primarily things they already knew, and could very well have been a staged encounter. The group then discusses future plans. When talk turns to long-term planning, Kevin notes that he knows what he wants and what Leah wants, but what does Jones want? His tone turns accusatory as he claims that Jones is judgmental and self-righteous, but Jones notes he doesn’t get what he ultimately wants — to just rest on a beach with drinks and a beautiful woman by his side. As Kevin grills Jones on what he wants from the occult underground, he notes that he doesn’t know what he’s doing — he describes his exasperation with the 50-year cost for the Whitley Folio — and he doesn’t have someone in a hierarchy above him to tell him what to do or whom to kill without thinking about it. Jones takes this opportunity to excuse himself and go for a walk.