Grounds for Concern

July 20 2014: Sara Pezzini, Constantine and the Fenris Wolf run into one another at a coffeehouse for the magically inclined.

Common Grounds

An odd coffeehouse with mismatched wooden furniture and carved pillars cluttering any straight lines of passage through the place. Serves liquor and is frequented by magic users.



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Common Grounds is really more coffee house than bar. They do have a liquor license and do serve alcohol, but that's not what the clientele comes for. The decor is… artfully odd. The tables, all round and different sizes, are set up so that there are no straight lines through the room and there are odd, carven columns that further break it up. Light, relaxing jazz plays over speakers as patrons talk or brood alternately at various places to sit.

The net effect is a place that 'breaks up' magical energies, diffusing them into the background to prevent, say, brooding wizards or such, from affecting the mood of the other patrons. And that is, indeed, who makes up the bulk of the people in here. Not brooding wizards per se, but the magically inclined.

The place even diffuses to a certain extent Fenris' natural predatory aura and it is here tonight that he can be found, sipping on a straight, black coffee and staring at nothing in particular.


There's not much that can be done to undo one particular Brit's brooding demeanor. Even when he's in a good mood, he looks a bit dour and unpleasant. Constantine flops into a chair next to Fenris and lights up a cigarette, adjusting his seat with a few kicks.

"Hey, Old Wolf," Constantine tells the man. "So a dog walks into a bar- stop me if you've heard this one," he says, in the bland tones of a man not really telling a joke at all.

"Ran into a spot of bother the other night," he tells Fenris. "A handful of lesser demonic imps lurking in an old schoolhouse. Gave the night teacher quite a fright. You know anything about that?"


Sara has had…an extremely long week. She's been to Gotham. She's passed around Hell. She's even been to Turkey. And back. And there was the 24 hours spent with a demon, that was super fun. So of course she isn't just relaxing. No, she's chasing down leads on a couple of unusual gangs she heard about the other night, which lead to an unusual sort of bar. At least it's likely to serve alcohol.

She looks around curiously as she steps inside, pausing when she sees Fenris and Constantine at a table. Sighing, she starts toward the pair, summoning up a strained smile. "Well, at least I know I'm on the right track."


The tall, angular man with Constantine looks up as both approach. "Ah. Hello. I'm afraid I would not know Constantine. I was… not in the neighborhood last night. I did, however, hear some very interesting news." Specifically he'd gone out to lunch with the Demon Queen of Limbo. It had been pizza and beer, which was delicious, but the most important bit of that conversation had been news of the Darkhold and the Elder Ones.

"I trust the matter is resolved?"

Brown eyes slide over to Sara curiously. That voice… is exactly the same voice as the 'guard dog' from the other day.


"Miss Pezzini, do join us," Constantine says, rising and pulling a stool out for Sara. "Wonderful timing. It seems the Wolf here has had a busy week. Judging by the scowl on your face, you've had much the same," Constantine says, examining Sara's face with a scrutinizing eye.

"As I was leading up to, I am rather a bit concerned about the frequency of these little paranormal incursions." He looks at the bartender, as if daring him to tell him to stub out the cigarette. "Scotch, rocks," Constantine orders. "They seem to be on the rise. I am not quite sure how or why, but as far as I can tell, someone is handing out summoning rituals to these children under the guise of offering them a harmless spirit invocation. It seems to backfire from there."


"You have no idea," Sara snorts softly at Constantine, pausing when she hears Fenris' voice. "Right, so. Really the right place, then," she drawls, settling onto the stool and gesturing toward the bar for a drink. Because clearly she's going to need one.

"You know, I was going to come looking for you, actually. Give you a heads up. Things are definitely moving. I had a run-in earlier this week with Etrigan, and the Magdalena, and I just picked my partner up from his exit point from Hell. So."


"It is not always that benign either. Those with darker inclinations seem to be tempted with… well, the usual things really. Power, influence, vengeance. It's working at a rather disturbing rate, if the incipient incursions of arcane idiocy are any indication."

The lean man looks at Sara with a smile, indicating a chair. "Please do join us, Detective. I'm Jeremiah Wolfson. And you sound like you've had quite the week indeed. Etrigan is a name I've not heard in… mmmm. Quite some time." It was, in fact, the dark ages when he least heard any inkling of the man then known as Jason O' The Blood.

"I trust your partner is well… ish."


"Etrigan's a dangerous sod," Constantine says. "Someone ought to bind his soul a rock and drop it into the Pit," he snorts. "An apocalypse waiting to happen."

He takes a sip of his scotch. Constantine apparently knows /everyone/ in the community. Then again, that's a sword that cuts both ways. People give Constantine a wary glance and pass a little further away from him than necessary as they walk through the bar. "You misplace your partner, Pezzini?" Constantine asks Sara with an arched eyebrow.


"Well-ish about covers it," Sara nods to Fenris. "Some new things that are going to take some adjusting to, but he's alive. I didn't misplace him so much as Etrigan killed him, and Jason went back to help get him out," she clarifies for Constantine, folding one arm on the table and setting her other elbow down to prop her chin up in one hand. "That doesn't seem like the sort of thing that happens all the time, so I'm inclined to agree that things are getting unusually restless."


'Well ish' gets a mild, inclined head from 'Wolfson.' "They most certainly are, and I have a hypothesis that I've yet to test. One that rather alarms me. Tell me, what do either of you know of the 'Book of Sins?'" His voice lowers here, as this is a place full of practitioners and he does not wish to alarm them… or pique their interest. He did not come for a fight tonight, thank you very much.


"And it was said/to make men weep/end not the eternal sleep/and should the Book be opened wide/ere the last of men may die," Constantine quotes in a low sing-song, reciting a piece of lore regarding the book.

"That would certainly explain a few things," Constantine admits, lighting a new cigarette. "Though mostly what we're seeing are outbursts of violence and demonic activity. It could be that what we're seeing is the surface of someone distributing the more dangerous tracts… which makes me wonder, where the rest of the pages are going," he frowns. "Dealing with people, that's not really my forte," he says, looking to Sara.


Sara tilts her head at Wolfson's question. "Can't say that I have, no," she murmurs, though she looks to Constantine for his recitation. "Sounds like a best-seller, though." Sheepishly, she shrugs to both of them. "I usually don't get wind of these things until the last minute, when I have to show up and kick the crap out of something. Would probably be easier if I was some sort of occultist, but they don't cover much of that at the police academy."


The lean man snorts… and boy does it sound like he did when he wasn't a man. "I doubt it would be of much use to you in most cases. Constantine has the right of it though. And that's an old rhyme…"

Fenris eyes the Brit for a moment before continuing. "It's a book of Elder Magic. Very dangerous, very corruptive. It's pages, which are sadly indestructible, are spread throught the world and tempt men to take them up, use what is written on them at the cost of their souls. Very, very, bad magic."

Jeremiah sips his coffee. "Of course, power like that must serve a purpose. In this case, to weaken the bonds of the Elder God's prison. One of their many schemes to escape and one of the more persistent ones. The last time the Book was in play in a major way that I am aware of was close to four hundred years ago, though I do not keep up on these things as closely as some, so there may be more minor incidents I am unaware of. In any case, the pertinent part of this was that I learned last night that the book is in play once more, and that a page of it was recently recovered. Where there is one…" He nods to Constantine. "It is possible that even if no one has taken up another page, that the very corruptive influence of the thing is causing ripples and chaos. And where there is chaos…" Here his eyes fix on the detective. He has a rather… intense gaze, Wolfson. "… There is opportunity for power and profit. Things that I'm sure you are intimately familiar with in the course of your work."


Constantine nods agreement with Fenris. "I don't think the entire Book is in play," he conjectures. "If it were, we'd have the End of Days spilling out over it."

The Brit rubs his chin, scratching at the stubble there. "The power and profit is a lie," he says to Sara. "They promise legions to command, but almost everyone ends up dead or insane. But even a single page from the book can unleash terrible demons and monsters. If it were to be assembled and read in whole- especially after lots of little rituals opening the Wall Between Worlds," Constantine says, sipping his scotch, "Well. Don't make any long term plans," he says with a lopsided shrug.


"You really don't have to tell me what they promise," Sara shakes her head to Constantine, pausing to take a drink from a bartender when it arrives. "Twenty-four hours. Etrigan. I know." Which merits a drink, and a long one at that. Too bad Sara doesn't really believe in therapy.

"Thinning the wall between the worlds," she muses quietly. "Which would explain why things would be looking for a key that takes people between them."


That gets Fenris' attention. "A key? Yes, keys are useful in the magical world. Lots of locked doors, for very good reasons. But I had not heard of a key in play recently." He leans back, eyes narrowing as he sifts through his memories. There's a rhythmic tap-tap-tap and if anyone looks down they may note he's thumping a two foot long oak rod at his side as he thinks. "May I ask, Detective, what you have heard?"

"Keys don't have to be things," Constantine reminds Fenris. "A person can be a far more dangerous bridge between the worlds. Someone with a demon bound to him- or who's walked through the Gates and back out- has an inherent power that can be exploited by something that knows how to do it."


"Ever hear of the Rapture?" Sara keeps her voice low, looking between Fenris and Constantine when she says it, gauging their reactions to the name. "Not the whole, people being taken up to Heaven. The artifact."

Fenris nods to Constantine in acknowledgement. "True enough, and a rather horrifying possibility considering. I shall have to look into that. Mmmm…" Tap-tap-tap goes the stick.

Sara's mention of the Rapture get's a deep frown and a long silence from Fenris. He's had a long, long time to study magic and the occult but things do slip by him sometimes. "Hmmmmm… no, I have not. I take it that this is something you do know of?"


"Mmm. Old, old magic," Constantine says. He fishes in his pocket for a notebook and flips through a few pages, then tucks it back in his overcoat. "Had to refresh my memory a bit. Christian magic. Lost up until fairly recently, if my notes are up to date." He rolls his scotch down his throat and orders a refill.

"If you want to talk about keys, the Raputure's like… a skeleton key," he explains to Fenris. "It can rip people out of the Pit, if you've got the bollocks to walk down into the fire."


"Not lost anymore," Sara says quietly to Constantine's explanation. "The Rapture's been found, and it's in the possession of a human who has absolutely no interest in letting other things move between the worlds. So, bad news, it's not out of the game. Good news, it's on our side."


"If this is a human you regard at all fondly, keep an eye on him… or her. Whomever." The Great Wolf doesn't press for details because he frankly doesn't need to know them. "I think, at some point you should both compare notes with a… mmm, friend of mine. If I can convince her to come out and do so. She does understand the need to prevent Very Bad Things, so I'm hopeful."

"I am not sure if this 'key' is related to what is going on, but I shall bear it in mind. If nothing else it's another element in the mix. Another piece in the game as it were. Sadly, in the right circles this kind of thing is very much a game. One that, I must say, does not amuse me."

Jeremiah seems to come to a decision and pulls out a pair of blank business cards and writes a number down on them. "My phone number. For those of you who do not wish to attempt a Sending." For which they'd need magic he's fairly sure only one of them has.


Constantine fishes in his pocket and produces a pair of ratty cocktail napkins, scribbling on them. "Mine, too. Cell phones are no good, but I've got a land line with a messenger service," he explains. The skinny Brit rises, ashing out his cigarette. "Good seeing you two again. I'll be in touch," he promises the duo. With that, he heads out of the bar, lighting a fresh cigarette once he's out front.


Sara has cards. Because she's a professional, and people need to reach her on a regular basis. So she trades those out for the others before she nods to Wolfson. "I'll be keeping a close eye," she promises. "Along with a few other things. I've been…" She grimaces, taking another drink. "I haven't felt so in over my head in years. Since I first picked up the Witchblade. I'm going to be working on that."


Fenris rises and nods. "If it is of any comfort, you'd not be alone in that. I've heard previous bearers say the same at one time or another. I think they all do." Which, if one is paying attention is a hint of how old he is. "If you have need of answers on matters arcane, feel free to call. I am a mage of only middling power…" Which is true when you consider his fellows. "… but I have studied much. Good day, Detective, and good luck."

With that, Fenris stalks out of the coffeehouse himself. There's things to be hunted.

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