To Sketch A Thief

Summary:
September 26, 2014: On a dark and stormy night, two sorceresses go after the same painting.

Prescott Manor

A mansion in the countryside of a european nation.


Characters

NPCs

  • Ewen Prescott
  • Constantius the Minotaur

Mood Music:
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHW7niZNcKA]


Prescott Manor, the residence of one of the world's richest men. His wealth is disproportionate to the work Ewen Prescott does, and vastly disproportionate to his actual living needs. Even the well-paid housekeepers and staff make less than 1/1,000,000th in a year what Ewen makes in a day. He considers himself very culturally refined, collecting all manner of curios, works of art, rare books, and even some less-than-legal items, like endangered animal body parts, or what amounts to slaves obtained through human trafficking contacts. He is not a pleasant person to those who work for him, though his guests always come away with a positive impression of him.

Whatever Prescott's failings as a person, they are not the reason why an uninvited guest is coming on this stormy night. Black clouds mass overhead and weep rain upon the lawn, hedge maze, drive way, statuary, and the towering mansion at the center, wind blasting the water into sheets that pelt dirt into mud, and make it truly miserable to be outside. Private security guards are stuck out in it, forced to go out on patrol in their plastic ponchos, shielding their eyes and using flashlights to navigate by, with difficulty. As mentioned before, Ewen is not a generous man, and does not care for the comforts of his employees.

He also has a high turn-over rate among maids for both those reasons and reasons of harassment. One such disgruntled young woman was all too willing to spare her uniform to the woman who approached her with both cash and an offer of getting justice for her and the others by exposing Prescott for what he is. A lithe female figure vaults the high, iron-wrought fence that encircles the grounds, landing easily on the lawn. She seems to navigate the darkness and the rain just fine. The tattoos on her eyelids, glowing a faint silver like liquid moonlight, might have something to do with it. She bypasses the guards, outmaneuvering them and going unnoticed as she slips in through the kitchen door. In a flash of lightning, she is silhouetted in the darkened room. There was supposed to be a light on. The kitchens are supposed to be active at all hours of the night, just incase 'master' gets a case of the munchies.

The dark-skinned woman squints around, wary, but draws a painting dust cover from within her rather sparse attire, and swirls it about herself. When it passes over her, it leaves her in a maid uniform. Her hair is still a bit wet, but the thick, red strands are tied back in a long ponytail to keep them out of her face. Now disguised as the hired help, the international art thief known as Canvas sets out to sneak through the mansion and find one of the paintings her grandmother made decades ago, that she is on a mission to retrieve. And, though it's not actually part of her objective, maybe she can ensure an unfortunate accident befalls Ewen Prescott. Maybe something involving trapping him in a painting of a giant spider web and hanging it up in place of the painting she intends to take back.

-

"Ah, yes, what a marvelous piece…" The red-haired woman in the sultry evening gown drawls. Everything about her screamed 'elegance', almost ridiculously so, from the slit in the hip of her shimmering silken gown that went all the way up, to the strands of ornate jewelry around her neck, the black, bicep-length opera gloves on her arms, even one of those long cigarette-holders. "Constantious, do take it down for me."

Smoke curls lazily from the end of it as the large, refridgerator-shaped man in the tuxedo moves forward without a sound, easily almost nine feet tall and five or six wide at the shoulder. He hefts the large painting off the wall, easily, an old thing, but marvelously-made.

And Ewen Prescott? Well, he sits right there and lets it happen, staring adoringly at the sorceress and her goon as they, well, rob him. Of all the things in this house, this painting was all that interested her. After all, it was the only thing that had any trace of magic to it.

Mr. Prescott had likely thought he'd hit the jackpot when he'd met 'Madame Adonia' at the gala and she had agreed to come home with him. He'd been ensorcelled within minutes, falling under her guile. Such a remarkably weak-willed man for one so wealthy and powerful, especially where his lusts were concerned. Circe simply strokes her fingertips under his chin as she watches her own henchperson take the artifact.

"Now, decisions… decisions…" Coos the Greek Sorceress as she ponders what to do with the man she'd snared. She so loved the downfall of the mighty. But would he even make a decent servant? Perhaps a weasel. She could use him as a messenger. He had been such a disappointment, after all.

-

The house is too dark. Too quiet. Michelle Dalca starts to suspect there might be a trap laid for her here. What if the maid who gave her the uniform was caught and forced to confess to helping her? What if she took the money she was given and then went right to the police? Canvas decides to find out. A winding black tattoo of a centipede-like creature starts squirming to life on the back of the red-haired woman's left arm. It becomes three-dimensional and crawls right off, spiralling around all the way from her left shoulder. The magical creature slips into the shadows by the stairs, lurking near the study. It sneaks across the carpet, vanishing completely upon entering any patch of darkness, until it finds what it's looking for. Ewen, the painting… And some additional 'guests' who are quite unexpected.

Hmph. Makes sense that this manwhore would be luring women back to his residence. But as Canvas observes the situation through the eyes of her creation, its waggling antennae painting a picture of the room and its occupants magically and then transmitting it all the way up the length of its body to where its rear is still resting upon the back of Canvas's left hand, she becomes aware of a very unpleasant fact. The painting she is here for is being taken off the wall! The centipede dissolves into blobs of ink and flies back to its creator, turning back into a tattoo in a matter of seconds.

Canvas cannot allow her grandmother's creature to go from one undeserving owner to another. She slips through the shadows herself, until she appears at the entrance of the study, still in her maid outfit, and says, "That painting is very valuable. It is not to be handled so crassly." Her tone is not indicating she intends this as an idle comment or worry-wart warning. It instead means, 'Put it down now, or else.' For a moment it may seem that she is just another of the maids, unwisely interferring, but then with a sweep of the hand, the maid outfit vanishes into a dust cover once more, leaving Canvas in a black mini-dress, black boots, and a red silk briefs-like garment on her lower-half.

She moves further into the light, and stands with one hand on her hip and a confident smile on her face. "Further, it belongs to me."

Circe turns as the painting is retrieved, still luring the ensorcelled male along by her fingertips. That is, until a new figure arrives to put a stop to things. Ah, meddlers. They all thought they brought something special to the table. And none of them, somehow, ever expected that they should probably treat a three thousand-year-old immortal sorceress with a little bit of respect.

Of course, she was a recluse and her face wasn't widely known, but still… Manners. They are important.

"I think you're quite mistaken, dear. Possession is nine-tenths of ownership. That would indicate that it is actually mine." Her fingers go from tickling the male's chin, to caressing his hair. "Ewen, darling… you have an intruder in your house. Do take care of it."

Ewen starts to come forward, angrily raising a finger at his 'maid' (turned assassin or something), to order her out of the house at the command of his new mistress. He never really gets out the words, though, because he starts to change almost immediately. His hair turns golden-brown, encircling his head, growing thicker, bushier. His face turning into a cat's snout, arms into feline legs as a lion's body bursts out of his clothes. A demonic goat's head sprouts out of his shoulder, the tail morphing, becoming a whip-like scorpion's tail with a snake's head.

Ewen Prescott is now a manticore… and he's charging right at Canvas!

Circe merely turns with an arrogant smirk, tapping her dwindling cigarette's ashes on the luxurious carpet, and motions for her man-servant to leave with her… and the painting.

-

If Canvas thought possession implied ownership, she wouldn't be taking back paintings that were paid for and in the possession of others just because her grandma wanted to spite people. But the application of some form of magic definitely amps up how seriously the Romanian woman is taking this situation. As the manticore charges, she leaps up and forward with supernatural grace, speed, and precision, arching towards the ceiling and then coming back down aimed at the jerkass-turned-scorpion-ass's back, right behind his head. Assuming she lands properly, she does so on her hands, upside-down, and a tattoo on the back of her right hand glows purple. As she'd then attempt to handspring off the Manticore's back, somersaulting in a tight roll, the tattoo turns into a sword of mystic energy that she slashes at the scorpion tail in her path with, attempting to sever it while heading towards it, possibly causing the stinger to come down right towards its owner's spine.

And Canvas? She'd hit the study floor, go rolling forward a couple feet, and come out of it in a crouch, with her blade ready. "Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. You aren't leaving with that. MY grandmother painted it, and while I'm not interested in hurting you for it, I'm also not taking 'no' for an answer." Despite her bravado and her determination, Canvas is aware there is a (possibly still functional) manticore in here, and she is dealing with what appears to be a fellow sorceress — one with considerable magical power. She doesn't know the extent of such, but if she can negotiate a deal of some kind, that would be preferable to fighting her.

"What if I offered you a painting of my own creation in exchange? One with a much stronger magical infusement?"

-

The Ewenticore rears up, claws and fangs shearing the air as Canvas leaps over him, cavorts down his back, and cuts into the snake-head that was growing out of his butt. He wasn't really sure what was happening to him, but his mistress obviously wanted this intruder dead! And that's all that mattered to him.

Circe watches the display with hooded eyes as the cat-goat yowls in pain and spins around in a jump, the snake's body writhing on the floor, gross black ichor spraying out of the tail wound.

"Oh, don't be so dramatically sentimental, darling. The fact is that you can't stop me from leaving, with anything I choose to leave with, even if you wanted to. If you wish to procure an exchange, then by all means, seek me out at my home." Circe gives a quick glance up and down. "Even with that ridiculous outfit, you seem a resourceful type."

A finger lifts, beckoning over the other woman's shoulder. "You may wish to finish playing with your friend there, first. Now if you'll excuse me… I've found just the thing to hang over my marble tub." Yup, Granny's painting was destined to hand in Circe's Crapper.

With a lazy wave of her hand, a portal opens behind the sorceress. "Constantius, take my new furnishing home." The overly-large man moves into the shimmering portal, which shows a quite lovely tropical island adorned with what might be ancient Greek or Roman architecture. Circe lingers for a moment to be sure the would-be thief (the one that isn't her) doesn't try anything… foolish.

Which might be hard, considering the manticore is already scrabbling across the floor with the speed of a freight-trait, claws extended for the one who hurt him (and whose presence displeases the almight Circe! I mean Adonia! Mistress!)!

-

Canvas appreciates a challenge. The thrill of being a world-class thief is part of why she is still doing this when she could have done basically anything else with her magical skill. So, though she is annoyed by this delay in getting what she came for, and the dismissive tone of this wizard woman, whoever she is, the deadly threat of the manticore and the fact she might need to face something more challenging then some practically-blind rent-a-cops and a rich loser to reclaim what is hers encourages her to stop trying to negotiate in the middle of battle.

Though the fact that the attempt at a trade was dismissed means she might not be so willing to make an exchange if she has to penetrate another sorceress's island lair to acquire the painting. As the huge magical beast comes tearing towards her from behind, Canvas turns, restoring her sword to a tattoo, and drawing forth from within her 'ridiculous' outfit, a scroll… Which she unrolls, to reveal a highly detailed painting of an expansive forest, choked with giant spider webs — and the oversized arachnids that made them.

She attempts to time her movements, leaping to the side, within range of the swiping claws, a seemingly failed evasion — as the surface of the scroll painting stretches out like a living thing, psuedopods reaching for the oncoming manticore. Any contact, and the creature will be pulled inside the scroll. However, if such contact occurs, it will still require concentration on Canvas's part as the Painting World she intended for Ewen the Human is used on his new, larger, monstrous form instead.

She can't even afford to call out the question she has, 'And where is your home?' Her focus must remain on making the scroll fluid, but firm. Tangible, and yet merely a psuedopod extension of another reality, rather than parchment that would be so easily shredded by claws or teeth or beastly muscle. It must be the trap of the Painting World, not the scroll the spider forest is painted upon. And there's always the possibility the Manticore might stay out of range, halt its charge without skidding right into the trap, or receive magical support from his mistress.

After all, Canvas's back is now right to the other sorceress.

-

Ewenticore's claws shred marble floor as he charges forth, intent on turning his prey into shredded mush. There was a reason the manticore was a feared creature of mythology: it was BIG! Twice the size of a grizzly with all the powerful muscles of a male lion packed into that deadly frame. …Plus that weird goat's head that probably breathed fire or acid or something. It used to have a snake-tail, but that's gone now.

But then it touches the painting, because it was just an animal now and didn't really know about magic and crap and really, what does a two-thousand pound beast have to fear from some parchment. The creature begins to warp and the yowling becomes a cry of human fear as Ewen Prescott is returned to more or less his original form as he is trapped inside. And there, in the center of the web, is a man, forever frozen in a vain struggle to get free of a spider's web.

"Stop." The command from Circe halts her henchmen's march into the portal just shy of entering it. She snaps her fingers. "You, girl, it's a deal. You can have 'Grandma's painting'," The way she says it is so very snarky, complete with a roll of her eyes and a little drop in the tone of her voice to indicate just what she thought of familial ties and sentiments. A slim, gloved finger points at the scroll. "I will take that one."

"What can I say," She offers with a cocky smirk, lightning crashing outside ominously because it was a dark and stormy night and Circe loved cliches. "I have a thing for tortured men." She leaves off the implied threat of turning Canvas into a pig and taking both, but she far less interested in some old residual magic left in something some old woman once painted than the exciting image of a painting that was once a live, breathing man. It was a rather eloquent solution to the disposal of some of her less than apt servants!

A wall hanging or tapestry would take up /so/ much less room than turning them into statues.

-

Canvas turns when the deed is completed, Circe speaking to her once more. Oh, good. Things seem to have worked out for the best. She wishes she could congratulate herself for cleverly planning to demonstrate just how useful the painting she was offering was, but honestly, she had been more focused on the danger at hand, and intending to infiltrate some kind of Bikini Skull Fortress or something. She has been at this for awhile now, but she still feels like a child compared to this woman. Who is she exactly? She is clearly powerful, clearly experienced… The Romanian woman smiles politely as she rolls up the scroll, and keeps it held in her hand until her grandmother's painting is set down. "I am glad that we could reach an agreeable arrangement," she offers diplomatically.

She could stop there. Make the trade, steal some cash from the mansion, free the slaves in the basement, and go live it up for a couple weeks on a completely different tropical island while she plans her next theft, feeling like she did some good. But something compels her to keep talking. "If you'd care to have future dealings, I would be more than happy to provide my services. There are only so many of these paintings left to retrieve, after all. And once I have them, I might not know what to do with myself beyond living in luxury. The opportunity to work with a clearly skilled fellow sorceress would be an honor."

She has worked alone for so long. She's used to it, really. But sometimes she wants the company of others. And despite her skill for only studying sorcery for a relatively brief period of time, she would love to know more about magic — and to see what else she can do. Once the painting is well and clear and away from the portal, she hands over the scroll.

-

Circe motions towards the ridiculously-huge male, and he shrugs and just kind of… tosses the painting in Canvas' direction. She might catch it, she might not. Worst that'll happen is the frame gets cracked a little, but those can be replaced. The scroll is ensconced in a shimmering, multi-hued orb that looks sort of like a bubble that might pop the instant it's touched. As it flies right to the Grecian sorceress' fingertips, it seems more elastic than that, though, wobbling a bit.

"I imagine it is." She says, turning towards the portal, extending her arm and kind of… firing the bubble into it. It can be seen descending rapidly towards the palace on the island's mountain, before vanishing from sight. As she turns back, the redhead gives another wave of her hand.

The illusions fade, and Circe is no more in her dark, opera-ready attire, now back in her rather revealing bikini that looks kind of like it was once made out of a toga or something. The manservant turns out to be… a nine foot tall minotaur. And he has an axe that's the size of a normal person strapped to his back, with a little golden ring through his nose.

"I am Circe." She says, as if that name means she should need no further introduction or titles. But that really depends on how into ancient Greek history her target audience is. "Make your way to the isle of Aeaea if you wish to learn more than cute tricks with pictures. I haven't taken on a student in an age or two. Since the Iron Age, at least. …Or was it the Bronze? I don't really count that vapid twit during Industrial Revolution…"

"No matter." She waves a hand in the air as if brushing her musings away. "If you are not slain by sea creatures or villagers or those detestable Amazons, then we may see if you are able to learn more. Or give more. For now… Ta-ta~"

The redhead touches the portal then, turning slightly to do so, and vanishes in a blinding flash of light. The minotaur stands there a moment. A kind of awkward moment. He glances away, rubs the back of his neck. "So, uh…" His voice, the first time he's spoken, is deep and booming. It almost feels like it should be shaking the ground. "…You come around here often?"

"CONSTANTIUS!" Circe's voice rings out of nowhere. The minotaur winces, huffs, and then turns towards the portal.

"Well… bye." Then he touches it and he, too, is gone in a blinding flash of light. "I blew it, man. I blew it."

The portal is gone in the next instant.


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