Words of a Feather – Fafnir: We know our traitors

Nimue, also known as Brigid Wayland, president of Gram, walked past Jacobson’s secretary and opened the doors to his office. There her three main subordinates were already waiting for her. Alicia Corson, head clerk, frowning at her entrance with her right leg in a cast. Curator Samuel Jenkins nervously standing next to Corson’s chair, nervously clenching the seat tightly. And Corey Jacobson, her vice-president, working on paperwork without even noticing he wasn’t the only person in the world, never mind the room. Nimue smiled at the comforting sight then cleared her throat. “Corey dear, could you pay attention for a while please? It’s time to discuss the events from yesterday.”

“Hm?” Jacobson blinked before looking and having a moment of realization. “Ah, miss Wayland. As you wish. Uhm, yesterday… Oh right, we were attacked by Fafnir. Would you like to go first or should I?”

“How about I go first and start with what I know, that should be better as treatment for the impatience of these two. So, what I gathered from the reports is that some of our people noticed they had picked up tails and called them in, allowing us to find out the expected attack had finally arrived. They also quickly took care of losing said tails, allowing us to enter a lockdown without getting our assets trapped as well. Alicia dear, go ahead and interrupt, I can tell you’re dying to,” Nimue said with a simple smile on her face displaying no clear emotion.

After a stunned two seconds, Alicia went off at her boss. “Expected?! You knew this was coming?! Why did you not inform us? We could have pulled people back and prepared better!”

Nimue tipped her head and gave a bright smile to Alicia. “But then they would have expected us to and would have come with far less care. We wanted to lure them out properly, so we could take care of them in one big swoop. That required luring them into our domain without scaring them off. Besides, we had plenty of preparations did we not? The lockdown to prevent our employees from getting harmed, having access to all cameras in Kansas City whenever we desired which allowed us to locate both the tailing detectives and the hidden mercenaries, even a secret entrance for me to enter the Library. What else would we need?”

Alicia glared but remained silent in response, allowing Nimue to continue. “Oh Jenkins, a question. Blumberg is not a magician, correct? But when he was chased he drove his scooter up and down several buildings to make his getaway. How did he do that exactly?” Jenkins blinked for a bit before gathering his words. “Uhm, ah, the scooter has gecko-tips. Allows it to stick to solid surfaces.” “Ooooh, interesting. Did we do that?” “Ah, no, he installed them himself.” “I see, I see.”

As Nimue pondered the opportunities for a second, Alicia quickly spoke up. “What happened in the Vault, miss President? All I know is that Jenkins and I held off our enemies to delay them as long as we could, then chased after them when we had recovered. But what happened in that vault? And what IS that thing anyway?”

Oh, Camelot? Camelot is an alchera that cannot decide whether it’s real or a mirage. As a result its shape changes as needed and its guardians resurrect from time to time. Quite useful actually.”

Alicia was stunned to silence while Jenkins barely managed to croak a response. “An alchera? A magical disruption crossing over into this world? And you can summon that?”

Nimue looked him straight in the eyes with a faint smile on her face. “Of course. Where else could I keep magical artefacts too dangerous for this world?” Without giving either a chance to response she continued. “Corey, could you do the honours and tell them about our plan?”

Hm? Plan? Oh, you mean to lure in Fafnir? Ah, yes.” Jacobson straightened himself and put on a regal expression before continuing. “As you know, it is our goal to protect mankind from magical threats by keeping magical artefacts out of the hands of those against its best interests. This means we have competition as well as enemies. Several years back, we caught word of an entity naming itself Fafnir digging around for our namesake. Since anyone knowing of its existence could not be up to any good, we designed a plan to lure them in and eliminate the threat. All we needed for that is for the items of the seal to start rearing their heads.”

Nimue stepped in and cut off the questions the others were about to ask. “The armour and shield are meant for the owner to Gram, designed to only function when the owner is considered worthy and unsealing Gram as well. The scrolls contain the formula to unseal the blade’s full potential and require a constantly-changing sequence to use. This sequence is hidden in several paintings, some of which we had relocated to the local museum.”

Ah! That is why you sent them to the museum! But couldn’t you have done so yourself?” Alicia nodded along with Jenkins’s question.

Alas, the sequence is guarded so that I myself cannot read it. As such I had to depend on our people instead. But thanks to that, and them gathering the items despite Camelot’s resistance, I managed to perform the ritual in time. And that helped us lure Fafnir into the trap. See, you may recall that a spirit proved itself worthy of the Armour when we first retrieved it. This was Fafnir’s goal as well, and the reason they brought so many men with them: To draw out the Armour and prove themselves worthy of wearing it.”

Jacobson grinned. “What a fool he was. We never meant for ourselves to prove worthy. All we meant to do was combine the items to a functioning set. The blade itself is worthy of wielding itself, so by performing the ritual with the right tweaks the items will join into a Golem which can fight on its own. All Fafnir did was sacrifice themselves, which your efforts combined bought us enough time to arrange. And of course Camelot’s support to my abilities, allowing me to hold Fafnir off long enough for Gram to take their life.

After a stunned silence in which Nimue flashed a grin as cruel and vicious as Jacobson’s, it was Alicia who first found her words. “What does Gram do exactly? What makes it this special?”

Nimue had an evil glance in her eyes as she spoke: “It absorbs. By feeding on the magic of those it slays, it grows stronger and stronger so that one day there will be nothing capable of withstanding it… So that when the day comes, it can defeat all that would dare to stand against this world.”


After the others left, Nimue stayed, seating herself on Jacobson’s desk while he continued his paperwork. After a lengthy silence Jacobson spoke up. “You made them believe the Alchera supplied you with countermeasures. But sooner or later some will realize that was all you and there may be consequences.”

Ah who cares. If some of my secrets get exposed I’ll still have plenty left. Just like you, Corey. We’re quite alike after all, secrets peeled like onions. Same cruel nature too. Even our fathers both died for the sake of this world. The difference is that yours sacrified himself, while mine needed some, ahem, ‘convincing’…”

Jacobson shook his head while the Lady of the Lake, slayer of her progenitor Fafnir, looked at him with sparkling eyes.

Words of a Feather – Balmung: Chasing of the wind

In his office, Corey Jacobson muttered to himself while going through actual paperwork. The vice-president of the bookshop Library of Progress and the secret organization Gram always did prefer the old ways, trusting pen and paper far more than unreliable hardware. In front of his desk his head clerk, Alicia Corson, cleared her throat. As he looked up he noticed her and curator Samuel Jenkins, who shyly had seated himself in one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Oh, can I help you two?”

Alicia rolled her eyes. “Not again! Sir, we can only enter your office when you explicitly gave us one-time access. Thus our presence here means you called for us. So what did you want to discuss with us, and does it have to do with our goons going on a covert operation for you?”

Jacobson blinked slowly then smiled. “Ah yes, you’re completely right! Thank you Alicia, you know how I can get lost in my head sometimes. So, yes, the job. I sent our people to investigate rumors of a hidden library said to have belonged to a departed dragon. Figured it was a good place to search for the third item, since the rumors rather smelled.”

Jenkins grew pale as Jacobson chattered on with a big smile on his face. “So I sent them to Helena, with one of our recent gains as gift to the local museum as an in. You know how the Siouans are with Anglos, so this was the best way to get past their prejudice. Now I hear our people had some trouble with a gang trying to rob them, but they managed to survive long enough for the army to rescue them and blow things to smithereens. That is the term kids use these days, right?”

“Breadcrumbs, sir?” Jenkins uttered in a quiet voice, earning him a probing glare from Alicia. Jacobson shook his head in response. “No, blow things to breadcrumbs sounds wrong Jenkins. What in heavens makes you think that’s the term they’d use? If so I wouldn’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

Jenkins coughed before daring to respond again. “Smelling rumors sir? I was contacted by Blumberg during this job, sir. He was wondering who was laying the breadcrumbs. And they already voiced their concerns before. It appears they have realized we’re being led around just like our competitors.”

“Ah, interesting. I guess they’ll get a good performance review in the future. But we’re not being led around like our competitors, because we’re the ones leading them around. After all, wouldn’t want to be too far ahead of them, that’d make them unpredictable! Speaking of which, let’s continue my recap shall we? By digging for information at the museum our men scored information suggesting where they wanted to go, so they got in touch with a team of guides I had arranged for them. Which of course they figured was already infiltrated by our enemies.”

The cheerful smile on Jacobson’s face compared rather poorly to the ghastly look on Jenkins’ and the frown on Alicia’s. “And that is a good thing why, sir? That means our competition knew we were coming so they wanted to follow us to the destination.”

“Uhm, miss Corson,” spoke a shy Jenkins. “Perhaps it is a good thing because it means they know we outclass them and this way they would tag along and let us prepare for them, rather than following us and catching us by surprise?”

“Precisely, dear Jenkins! Precisely! It means they recognize us as their betters! Oh, wait, I’m getting lost again. Did I explain what the find was? No? Ah, apologies. Okay so the guides helped sneak our people into the forest, where they searched for the terrain they thought likely to be the site they sought. I forget the details, it’s somewhere in these papers. Something about stories involving a hidden cave and an Ecclesiastes quote in ancient languages? I have to say I’m impressed, it only took them a day to find the real thing, booby-trapped and all.”

Alicia gulped, which was rather out-of-character for her. “Booby-trapped, sir? What kind of traps were there in a dragon’s cave exactly?”

“Oh you know, tripwires connected to arrow systems, anchored spells ready to kill anyone making the wrong step and a door only a dragon could open or close. Oh, you’ll love this! Not only did they find evidence that elves had served the dragon in the Fourth World, they also discovered a massive library with protective spells that prevented decay! Now mind you there was a ward around it, which apparently lasted decades if not more, but the protective spells were immune to the ward so we got them all out intact. Such a marvelous find!”

While Jacobson started on a long story about the various scrolls in the library, and how much he was looking forward to studying them all, Alicia and Jenkins looked at each other as if to ask which of them would interrupt their boss. And more importantly, with what question. Eventually Alicia’s impatience triumphed over her reluctance. “Sir, what about the treacherous guides?”

“-magine wh-! Hm? Traitors? Ah, right. They all were actually! When our people sent a few outside to call for assistance from a smuggler the guides knew, the guides all insisted to come with in case traps would go off and lock everyone inside. Of course it was partially a ruse as one of them then commanded the others to attack. Apparently he had approached them anonymously so that they would never suspect their boss was one of them. Now mind you it was rather foolish of them to attack our people, so the guy died rather soon and the rest surrendered. It’s a real shame though, but at the very least they blew his head off later at my request. Now, back to the scrolls! Can you believe that they contain information on the Horrors? It’s a true wonder! An-“

“Sir! Please. So our people won, took prisoners and called. What happened then?”

“Oh, I asked our lady to take care of it. She sent our people away and made arrangements, bringing all of the scrolls here. Mind you I did get intel on the traps first so there was no real danger. She got out all the scrolls, and of course the third item of our precious set of fo-. I forgot to tell you that they discovered that as well. Apologies. Yes, the breadcrumbs led us to the third item and only one remains. We’ll reach our goal before long.”

While Alicia and Jenkins again looked at each other, wondering about exactly how their president had so easily brought hundreds of scrolls in metal casings to Kansas City, Jacobson continued his enthusiastic description of various subjects covered in the scrolls he had read so far. It was clear to them that they would no longer be able to interrupt him so proper answers would have to wait. And perhaps he never intended to give them those to begin with…

“I really don’t get it,” sighed a fence of stolen art at a dive bar, “this Blumberg guy pays me a grand to protect a dead drop of his, comes over to review the data he sent me, then within a few seconds he grows pale and deletes it all before taking off as if he’s seen a ghost. What’s up with that, did a dragon eat his mother or something?”

Words of a Feather – Nothung: To give and take

In the best vault of the secret organization Gram, hidden in the deep basement of the Library of Progress, three people gathered in front of a new exhibit. Curator Samuel Jenkins gleefully studied the shield as he polished it very carefully, Alicia Corson oversaw this activity with an annoyed look on her face, while Corey Jacobson altered between checking out random items and checking his notes. These actions were interrupted when a shimmering figure appeared in between them, a watcher spirit sent by the president with her eternal smile.

“Of course she had to send a watcher,” Alicia grumbled. “Still, could we not have held a meeting elsewhere? No reason why she could not study the shield after the meeting.”

“Uhm, but miss Corson,” Jenkins timidly interrupted, “that’d cost more time and she has a busy sched-” then quickly shut up as he received a death glare. Meanwhile the watcher spirit studied the shield for a few seconds, then motioned for them to start. With a grunt Alicia began the debriefing.

“I sent those unmannered thugs, who rudely insisted on a lunch break first, to New Orleans to visit a party at The Rising Sun. As I reported last week, one of our sources had informed us there was something strange going on there in the art collection. Since the president gave her okay at last, I quickly sent the group there to infiltrate the party and find out what was going on. Oh, and get this, those idiots got searched at the border to the Confederation of American States, because one of them had Psyche on them and it got picked up by the drug hounds! A good thing nobody brought anything problematic with them, otherwise this mission would have failed even before it started!”

“Hm, ah, easy Alicia,” spoke a distracted Jacobson. “We’ll discuss it in the annual performance reviews. That’s what they’re for, right?” His innocent smile managed to lessen the frown on her face. “Uhm, this was a party at the former-brothel-former-speakeasy owned by that horrible Anderson, correct?”She nodded and continued.

“I hear they broke illegally hidden cameras at their hotel rooms, which at the least helped their covers since who would stand out that much then commit theft… Anyway, we got them into the party easily since I had prepared even before the final okay, and they even wore some mediocre clothes instead of street clothes. At the party they studied the horrid art collection, if you can call that abomination such a thing. He even hung paintings in front of other paintings! Really, who does that?!”

“Ah, a barbarian I would say.” Jenkins coughed shyly. “He gathered these things and exposed them purely to shock and entertain, not to actually appreciate them. At least that is what we thought.”

“Indeed,” Alicia agreed. “So it was a bit of a shock what happened. But let me rewind a short bit for the full summary to this -” she gestured towards the president’s watcher spirit “- messenger here. So at the party Blumberg discovered a book he had stolen three years ago had been replaced with a forgery, which got him kicked out after he exposed it with quite a bit of dramatic flair. The only upside to that is that it left him free to run Matrix searches on several suspicious party guests, who turned out to be Private Eyes, most likely hired by our faceless competition. Meanwhile Henri and Ogalesha spent time seducing and ended up with peculiar information regarding Anderson’s conquests at his parties. They didn’t really remember their one-night stands but he didn’t really impress them.

“Meanwhile Grod got bored,” she snorted in disdain, “and ended up hiding in one of the secret rooms upstairs. This led to him witnessing Anderson stab a woman with an Aztec dagger, then use a strange shield to heal her. He promptly fed her some wine, causing her to go unconscious, and cast some magic on her. Combined with the information the women downstairs had told our people, they figured out this was a case of ritual sacrifice combined with a healing shield and a combination of memory-erasing drugs and implanting false memories in his victims. Those false memories disappearing after a few months resulted in the peculiar broken recollections. At least now they knew what they were after, the shield, so they made a plan to come back the next day.

“Their plan was smart, disguise as workers for the broken elevator and then sneak through the shaft into a hidden room they had discovered during the party, which they did through levitation. Unfortunately Anderson and a possible conquest of his, who the group didn’t trust because she proved immune to their charms, arrived early and they were forced to hide. When through sneaking and magic they observed the woman distract then kill Anderson, ironically using his own ritual dagger against him, they quickly attacked her. Grod burst through a wall for that, can you believe that?! How inane is that!”

“Hm, yes, rather inane,” Jacobson mumbled. “But it did get them the element of surprise, which let them take out a rather dangerous blood mage. Initiation grade eight at the least? She had quite the rap sheet. Then killed her before running away from all the king’s men responding to the fire alarm. Ah, that reminds me, I should really have a word with Grod for bashing her to death with his chains, though he did have a valid excuse so could be forgiven.”

Alicia and Jenkins blinked and looked at each other for a few seconds before Jenkins spoke up. “Ah, forgiven for uhm what, sir? Killing her so brutally?”

Now it was Jacobson’s turn to blink. “Huh? No, of course not.” A smile came upon his face as he continued: “For not slowly torturing her to death first, of course! After all, that’s what should happen to all enemies of metahumanity, make them suffer before they die a slow, antagonizing death!”

The shocked silence was interrupted when from the watcher spirit came brilliant laughter in the voice of the president. “Oh Corey, wonderful, wonderful. This, this kind of attitude is why I made you my second-in-command. You always are so eager to do what’s needed. Thank you for that. And thank you all, I have confirmed this is the item we were looking for. Shield and armor taking care of, just two more things to go…”

Words of a Feather – Gram: Worthy Of A King

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.”