[The Office] An Unwanted Gift

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Kokuten
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[The Office] An Unwanted Gift

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Safeholme
The Office of Ruarc Flynn
One Week After Disturbing the Dust


The gate-guard of Safeholme was a being as mighty as he was small and twice as enthusiastic of his work. Through most of the day, he would rest within the sconce above the main gate to Safeholme, an attentive watcher of the passers by and would be seekers of entry. He would take the form of unmolded fire in this duty, and it had become a comforting sight to see the flame lit when coming to and from the school. It had come to be so comforting that it was a sign for distress when the sconce was dark.

Today, the sconce was dark.

Aurus, once the militant god of fire, now stomped up the steps of Safeholme manor. His diminutive form was shaped by layered, iron armor that gave him the appearance of a horned beetle. Like the other tiny guardians of Safeholme, he carried himself with intent, but with a gaze that spoke of little thought or decision. His red eyes hazed into a distance that few could discern save perhaps the likes of Lady Sumedha. One thing was evident, he was on a mission.

In the guardian’s spiked gauntlets was a dark, inky mass, formed into the shape of a ball. It shook to break free, but Aurus’ tiny arms were like the locks of a canal. It would loose itself, but never fully enough to escape.

The godling’s destination was the office of Ruarc Flynn, Archdruid of Safeholme. When Aurus came to the door, he stared at its handle. Ruarc Flynn was the master of this domain, and thus respect had to be paid. One must knock when requesting entry into the private chambers of the master. Thus, hands full and occupied, Aurus slammed his face into the door three, loud times.
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Straken
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Re: [The Office] An Unwanted Gift

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A grandfather clock pendulously toiled away as it filled the office with its rhythmic notes. It sat centered against a side wall, flanked on either side by large dark oak bookshelves. A range of academic texts punctuated by various baubles from a number of time periods filled the shelves. Along the opposing wall hung a number of framed photos commemorating a handful of moments and people from Ruarc’s life. Close to the door sat a couple of display cases showing a number of artifacts and other pieces from the druid’s personal collection. A stand came next, in which sat a few hand carved staves, including the black lightning charred staff that had carried the Garnet Babylon Gem during the Maw Incursion. Then came a credenza topped with a decorative cloth and an ornate china tea set and an electric water kettle; one of the cups and saucers were in use, and the scent of an Earl Grey blend filled the room.

Ruarc’s desk sat a short distance away from the back wall. A sturdy handcrafted desk made from a lovely straight grained cherry wood, and accompanied by a brown leather desk chair. The surface of the desk was covered with a stack of papers, a half drunk cup of tea, and a druid scribbling with a personalized pen set. A gentle breeze blew in from the large window behind the man, teasing at the edges of the crimson satin drapes that framed the opening.

Pinching at the bridge of his nose beneath his glasses, the Irishman let out a long sigh before leaning back in his chair and grabbing his tea. Almost the entirety of his time coming back from Hawaii was spent filling out paperwork and making phone calls. Turns out students getting attacked by magical terrorists while on a school sponsored trip was a big issue.

“Stars above,” Ruarc cursed under his breath. Three knocks sounded on the heavy wooden door. Three unnecessarily loud and hard knocks. Grumbling, Ruarc sat his cup down and stood up. Once he’d adjusted his vest and smoothed his hair, Ruarc moved to open the door. To say he was surprised to see Aurus waiting on the other side was an understatement; although it did explain the excessive knocking.

"Oh, uh, good day, Aurus," Ruarc offered as greeting to the godling. "Something I can do for you?"
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Re: [The Office] An Unwanted Gift

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"Good day, Archdruid Flynn," a familiar, soft-spoken voice came from inside his office, from his desk. Perched on his phone was a featherless, wingless bird, cocking its head to one side once it was spotted. Ruarc had seen this fleshy, wretched-looking creature once before. Laoise had named him Six-Piece, and he made a noise reminiscent of a owl, but a choked, mockery of the sound, followed by labored words. "I have come... to deliver you a message from my master. I would... put it in my beak... but my physical form is... quite contained..."

Aurus squeezed the dripping ball of shadow and Six-Piece gurgled a pained twitter. "I was going to deliver it to your desk, but I was... caught at the fence."

A small envelope emerged from cloudy, black sphere, as if floating on the surface of water.
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Straken
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Re: [The Office] An Unwanted Gift

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“Good work, Aurus,” Ruarc praised the guardian. The man’s eyes had become stern, and very pointedly did not acknowledge Six Piece directly. He had little interest in being civil with someone willing to kill children simply to send a message. Noting the envelope, Ruarc walked back to his desk and drew out a pair of leather driving gloves from a drawer, as well as a thin bone letter opener; continuing to ignore the bizarre bird. With the gloves on he cautiously plucked the letter from the black mass.

“Keep a good grip on it, Aurus. I might need a messenger to shoot,” the Irishman’s words were dripping with malice, and he let the threat hang in the air as he readied the small bone blade. With the envelope facing away from him he sliced the top with practiced ease. Pending no release of terrifying curse or entropic cloud, Ruarc would withdraw the contents.
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Kokuten
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Re: [The Office] An Unwanted Gift

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Six-piece, for his part, shuddered at the threat, but made no motion, nor did the shadowy ball that seemed to represent his real form. Instead, his labored breathing only became heavier and deeper. As if aware of this, Six-piece started to pick at spots where his wings would have been. The bird seemed to be making his best effort at being unobtrusive.

Ruarc's fingers tingled at the feeling of the paper in his hands and the waxy seal on the paper began to mist away into a reddish cloud, before dissipating. As he worked the paper open, his nose was taken by a unique smell, one of perfume or... cologne? It was difficult to tell, but the aroma was clear on the letter that he pulled from the envelope. It was faintly familiar, but it wasn't dangerous, as well as the druid could tell. There were two pieces of paper after the letter itself and, unfolding the twice bent paper, he saw a lengthy message written in a careful hand.
An admirer wrote: Honored Master of Safeholme,

I take my pen in hand to write a letter of apology and declare that there is no ill-will between my people and the constituents of Safeholme. The Lamplighters were conducting their business as was directed by myself, and it was by no great design that you or your own were meant to be in the opening salvo our campaign. I will not bore you with our tenants, nor will I go to length to defend Morwen or her newly found distaste for the fae. I merely wish to ameliorate you in light of these most unfortunate circumstances, as I am sure our campaign has resulted in long-term consequences for you.

Please know that these words are not disingenuous, I am, in fact, an admirer of you, and your school. Our skirmish in the druid sanctum revealed to me that you and I are kindred spirits, possessed of a fire that will burn everything that threatens what it loves. I saw in your eyes the potential to do great and terrible things, and it is most pleasing to my heart to know that you take to the sidelines to teach this to future generations. Your students showed great prowess, and the potential above that which the Occultus would limit and hide out of fear and embarrassment. My defeat was a thing of beauty and it was glorious to witness.

Had the situation been reversed, I would want you dead, but I am quite aged enough to know that would be a waste of fine specimen of a mage. I can understand your feelings, I know your feelings; you want me dead.

I propose we cast aside such intimate emotions, and make an attempt at starting anew. Safeholme represents everything the Lamplighters are fighting for, and to oppose you would be counterintuitive; to oppose us would allow the Occultus to one day submerge your sanctuary under their reign. This is the purpose of my message, and of my gifts to you.

I have provided unto you the following:
  • Information pertaining to the sanctum of he who stole from you, Alexei Richter.
  • Information pertaining to the life of she who hounds you, Tabitha Grimley.
  • My familiar, Ciarán.
What you choose to do with this information, is your choice, but I offer it to you freely and warmly. My familiar, a quite proud project from an old druid friend, has become most unreliable since his meeting with yours, and I offer him to you to do with what you will. I have severed my link to him, and so if it is your pleasure to watch him expire, I am very glad to provide it. I know wrath is very comforting.

Your Most Obedient Servant,
Heddwyn Gruffudd, Master of the Lamplighters
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Straken
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Ruarc read the letter. Then he read it a second time. Even then he displayed little in the way of emotion. His taciturn face flicked between the letter, the included information, and Six-Piece perched on his desk phone. A deep breath in, a slow breath out. With a few steady paces the Irishman crossed the room and sat down at his desk. He removed his glasses as he unlocked a secured drawer in the desk, and deposited the letter and intel.

With the parcel secured, Ruarc stood and made his way over to the credenza, opened a door, and drew out the first sure sign that his mood had darkened; a bottle of whiskey. It had a gimmicky name, Irish Soldiers & Heroes Single Malt Irish Whiskey, but it wasn’t cheap and had been given to him as a gift by someone indifferent to the fact that he did not like drinking whiskey. It was too easy to get drunk off of, and given his opinion of his father he had always been careful about his drinking. As such, the bottle only ever came out when Ruarc was in a particular mood, and why the bottle was kept in his office rather than his home; his office reminded him of his responsibilities. Scrunching his nose as the cork came out, Ruarc poured himself a belt into a crystal whiskey glass that had come with the office.

“Get off. My. Phone,” Ruarc said without turning around, his voice sounded rough. He poured another before returning to his seat; the bottle came with him. “Aurus; come in, have a seat, and be sure to shut the door behind you. Consider yourself my ad hoc bailiff on this matter.”

“Well, you plucked hen, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you,” Ruarc started as he finally addressed the bizarre bird, but not fully as he still seemed to have his attention elsewhere. “If you are in fact severed from this Heddwyn chap, then I’m not going to kill you. No sense in killing you if it doesn’t hurt him any. That said, the treatment you receive will be directly related to how satisfied I am with the questions I’m about to ask you. Understand?”
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Re: [The Office] An Unwanted Gift

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When Ruarc turned towards his desk, he had found the creature had soundlessly moved to standing on one end of the desk. Without much to grip on, the little, pink discomfort for the eyes made bodily movements, as if to use wings to balance himself. This was done to little effect, and Six-Piece seemed too tired to fight with it.

Slam! Aurus kicked the door shut and plodded over to one of the plush receiving chairs. With the cushion at his eye level, he would have needed to climb onto it, but instead opting to jump backward into it. This almost led to the seat tipping backwards onto the floor, but the little godling managed to ride it out, all the while holding the shadowy essence in his hands.

Recovering from the sharp noise, Six-Piece looked up at Ruarc much like one would stare into the eyes of a judge. The gnarled bird coughed and mewled and frustrated noise at the discomfort.

"So it's... it's come to this... I... understand..." Six-Piece said finally, picking at the space where his wing should have been again. The bird stared at the grain on the desk, as if weighing its options. "If it's information of Heddwyn, I won't have anything... up-to-date or... relevant. Nothing that could help you... find him..."
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“Hard as it may be to believe, I don’t actually care about that bastard,” Ruarc’s tone was blunt and he seemed more interested in the crystal glassware. “Sure, if he was in the room right now I’d be strangling him, but compared to the rest of the rogue gallery I need to concern myself with on a semi-regular basis he is remarkably minor. Frankly speaking, I have been provided with naught but a single useful thing from this as of yet brief but somehow painfully slow encounter. It is no secret that Alexei and I are enemies, and while I am curious about how the information on his safehouse was collected, to say nothing of questioning its credibility, I am more interested in how Miss Grimley factors into this. The woman joined me for tea one time and was a poor guest, so I am concerned about her private life being exposed by a group such as the Lamplighters. At this juncture, that information is a nonissue.”

“Then there is the matter of you. As I mentioned prior, I question Heddwyn’s credibility. All I have is this letter’s written word that his connection to you was severed. For all I know that is an outright lie, and meant to convince me that I can somehow use you to my own ends all the while you act as a conveniently placed spy. If that is the case, Heddwyn, I hope you like my office; you will never see the inside of it personally. If, however, this letter is in good faith I am going to administer a test.”

Clearing some space on his desk, Ruarc swiveled his chair and grabbed a large drawing pad nestled on the side of his desk. With a piece of charcoal he began to draw what appeared to be a series of elaborate runes spaced evenly around the paper, and finally connected by a clean circle. Standing once more, Ruarc downed the newest belt of whiskey, and carried the paper to the center of the room.

“Aurus, if you’d please place it in the circle, I will begin.”
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Re: [The Office] An Unwanted Gift

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Aurus kicked off the chair, and the gnarly ball of shadow started to resist the guardian's grip. The discontent of Six-Piece's posture seemed to reflect this. With a wobbling stride, the bird went from one end of the table to another. It looked like Six was trying to keep up with the druid to voice an appeal, but the appearance of motion only served to exhaust him. An unnerving curve in his neck allowed him to look behind himself at Aurus, before looking up at Ruarc.

"I… I understand your frustration…" Six tried to empathize, but limped over to the circle, "I don't know… If I'm…"

With a powerful lunge, Aurus threw himself onto the desk.

"Mr. Flynn… may I at least–" Six straightened himself up, as if it would stop the surly guardian. Instead, Aurus walked through the bird, causing the creature's body to ripple until he had fully passed. "-- may I ask what you… what you are doing?"

SPOK! There was an audible, wet nose as Ruarc's iron-guard spiked the ball into the circle. Six winced in response to this, and curled his head back around to watch Aurus grunt and snarl what sounded like vague utterances of threats, pointing at the ball.

"Ha ha!" Aurus looked over his shoulder, grinning wide and giving Ruarc a thumbs up.
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Straken
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Re: [The Office] An Unwanted Gift

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Pressing his hand to the circle, Ruarc put an effort of will into the marking. With magical energy now flowing through it like a circuit, the magic circle closed with a snap that was felt rather than heard. At the same time Six’s projected form blinked out of existence, leaving only the mass inside the circle.

“This magic circle is doing a couple of things,” the Keeper said academically, no different than if he was presenting information to his students. “No outside energy is entering the circle unless I adjust the runes along the circle, similarly, nothing is getting out. So if you do happen to still be connected with Heddwyn he is temporarily cut off from you. But that is simply the basics of magical circles. The intention of this particular circle is to act as a conclusive test as to whether or not that connection exists. Now, one could ask why I wouldn’t use my Eye to see if there was a connection between you, but that is irrelevant as anyone trying to avoid being found would obviously mask the connection. While this circle wouldn’t show me directions, this rune here will light up if it detects any psychic links coming off of you. If you are, in fact, severed nothing will happen.”

Ruarc had always appreciated magic circles, but rarely had reason to utilize them outside of a handful of missions he’d worked in the past. In theory it could even keep Six Piece contained indefinitely, depending on what kind of construct he was. Setting his hand upon the rune, another effort of will started the detection process.
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