In a room in the depths of the Library of Progress, three people sat down at a table. The nervous curator, Samuel Jenkins. Grumpy head clerk, Alicia Corson. Distracted vice-president, Corey Jacobson. And lastly, visible on a trid-screen on the wall was the president with her eternal smile. “Hello everyone, glad you’re all here. Now then, shall we start with the mission report? So I understand you sent a team to West-Fargo to deal with mysterious Suits of Armor that did not show up on recordings. Jenkins?”
“Uhm, yes, ah… So, uhm, I gave our members their instructions, and uh… Garlic cloves…” Jenkins flushed a bit of embarassment as the president chuckled. “It’s okay Jenkins, there’s no shame in preparations against vampires and such. Just try to leave out the mythology and stick to the real thing from now on, alright? Now, who did you send?”
“Ah, yes,” Jenkins continued. “Bloomberg, our retriever. Galdof the intellectual, Henri the deceiver. Also Grod the knocker and Ogalesha the finisher.” Alicia snorted in response. “He’s a finisher all right, showed up late for that briefing. I swear, seriously.” A chuckle came from the screen. “Alright, easy Alicia, I’m sure he had a valid reason. Continue, Jenkins.”
“Ah, yes. So, they went to Fargo by car and checked into two different hotels, one coffin and one decent.” Again Alicia snorted. “Of course they went for a more expensive option. At least this time they brought receipts back. But seriously, a handwritten signature from the coffin motel?! Who does that!”
“Huh, what?” Corey shook his head and his eyes back to attention. “Handwritten receipts? Did our printer run out of ink? Should I let tech su-. Oh, right. Fargo. Coffin motel. No printer of their own. Uhm, go on Jenkins.”
“Ah, yes. Our staff members checked up on the news and message boards, finding out a woman had been attacked and was staying in the hospital, as well as video from a frat house about a ghost armor that wasn’t actually visible on the recording. In the morning they went out and ran into a group of SCAers getting out of a Greyhound bus, who were all excited about the ghost armors and shared a few incidents. The team also spotted a few suspicious individuals carrying concealed weaponry, one of which was identified as a bounty hunter.
“Next the team split up to explore three of the locations where armors had been spotted. Henri and Grod, ironic as that combo may be, went to check out a bar where an armor had stepped in during a barfight. Bloomberg stayed behind to analyze the frathouse visit and then go there for reconnaissance. And Galdof and Ogalesha went to visit the local musem, where apparently a ghost had looked at some paintings. I, uh, asked mister Jacobson to handle the debriefings so he would know better how this went.”
“Huh, wha?” “Debriefings!” barked Alicia. “Debriefings, Corey, get with it. They split up, then what?”
“Ah, right. Okay, let me check my notes…” After finding his glasses and ruffling through his notes, the vice-president continued. “So, at the museum they witnessed some of the, and I quote, ‘renaifreaks’ being kicked out. They smoothtalked some old visitors and discovered the armor had been observing a triptych. They studied the paintings, discovering Nordic runes regarding being ‘worthy of a king’ on stones on them. Then they obtained security footage through deception, which later revealed the bounty hunters had also studied the triptych. Oh, and outside they spotted a spydrone so they had a local policeman gun it down cowboy-style. Plus Grod discovered the triptych was a 360-degree panorama, which seemed to be from the top of a hill.”
Jenkins coughed. “If I may interrupt, Bloomberg called me to check, wondering if there was a Nordic equivalent of Excalibur.” A brilliant laugh ran out of the speakers. “Oh dear,” the president chuckled, “he sure failed at his history lessons there. Well to be fair, it’s not Excalibur that made Arthur king, it was Caliburn and of that we are the Nordic equivalent. Carry on, Corey.”
“Ah, yes, thank you. Bloomberg reviewed the frathouse recordings and noticed movement in the bushes. At the frathouse he talked with the ‘friendly inebriated locals’, which helped him figure out the armor had most likely blocked the path of what a search revealed to most likely be a hellhound. Meanwhile Grod picked a fight with a bartender, though ‘the bartender picked a fight with me!’ or so Grod says. And Henri found out from a drunk that when a knife was drawn in a fistfight, the armor jumped inbetween before leaving towards a hill.
“On that hill, which seemed to rather match the triptych, was a building site where construction had been halted due to a water leak which had caused a sinkhole. Our unmannered employees bullied and intimidated their way onto the grounds, except for Bloomberg who was still on his way from the frathouse. In the sinkhole, caused by an exposed well, they spotted a tunnel and roped down into it. While they explored the spiraling tunnel, Bloomberg arrived and tried to climb down, only to get jumped by a hellhound which fortunately missed him and was swallowed by the sinkhole. He then engaged in a fight with a group of hellhounds while an armor appeared and momentarily distracted them. Shortly after both the police and a few dozen hellhounds arrived, so they entered a long fight which a spirit from Galdof helped finish. Oh and by then two bountyhunters had also entered the tunnel but had been disabled by the rest.”
Alicia snarled. “Tell that part first!”
“Apologies, my notes were in disarray. Okay, so this says that at the end of the tunnel was a room with an open door, in which was the real armor and a lot more Nordic runes. The group didn’t dare touch it, but Galdof’s spirit ended up awakening the armor and ending up having to wear the armor as the group left, leaving behind a ‘hot mess’. We had to deal with some coverups, blaming the bountyhunters for the chaos while covertly obtaining footage of the burial chamber. We also bought the triptych to help with our research. So far it seems that while the Norse indeed intended it for the rightful owner of Gram, the armor itself is much older than that and may very well predate the Vikings.”
Alicia frowned at this unproven conclusion but chose to remain silent. Meanwhile the president nodded, “Thank you Corey, that will be all. Dismissed everyone.” All got up but while Alicia and Corey moved to leave, Jenkins stood at his chair with a burrowed frown. “Something wrong, Jenkins?” asked the president while the others turned around at the door.
“Ah, sorry ma’am, it’s just… I was wondering, there is something strange about the hellhounds. So far we assumed that the armor’s power had involuntarily leaked out due to the construction work exposing the tunnel, which in turn lured the hellhounds towards the town. But what if it wasn’t involuntary? What if the armor deliberately lured them in? First the hellhounds were kept at bay, only attacking a single person, but within mere minutes of our people arriving at the hilltop dozens went on the offensive. What if the armor caused the fight so someone could prove themselves worthy of wearing it?”
All three looked at the trid-screen, where the president displayed a viciously cruel smile. “Then we’re definitely dealing with the real thing.”