Gavin de Luc

Blasphemy and Sacrilege

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November 8th, 2020.

Upper West Side, New York City.

1330hrs.

 

 

Fucking hell.

 

This was suicidal and stupid, even he knew that. But he did it anyway, because he had become weak. His stockpile of alcohol at the house did not last for nearly as long as he thought it would, which forced him outside in the frigid cold to get more. Smashing the window of the liquor store was probably not the best decision the man had ever made, but what the hell else was he supposed to do?

 

The beer was frozen and had destroyed their containers, and the liquor was already looted before from the other end of the store. He did eventually manage to find some rum stashed away behind the counter that was untouched, but it wasted valuable time that could end up damning him.

 

The soldier had many layers of clothing on, but that only got him so far. A thick parka was his outer layer, which his heavily gloved hands tried desperately to find some small bit of warmth inside. A layer or two in he had a snub nosed revolver and his karambit knives, but they weren’t exactly accessible in his current state. The gloves that covered his hands were too thick for any real dexterity, even if they weren’t completely numb from the cold.

 

He had never bothered to get any of his extremely thick winter coats enchanted, because he never had the occasion to really use them since he had joined ARMA. He always stubbornly wore his leather jacket or something lighter and just wore layers, but very little of his silver thread clothing was actually very warm by itself. It wasn’t like his chances of being shot at today were very high, and if anyone wanted to try and stab him through this many layers of clothing they were welcome to try.

 

The far more immediate threat, of course, was the damned cold. He had assumed it was too far back to his house before some severe frostbite kicked in, and the bike that he tried to steal to expedite the process was frozen to the point of the pedals breaking off when he tried to get moving on the damn thing. That wouldn’t work, so he needed to find something else.

 

He needed to force a way inside of a building, but if he guessed wrong and there was no heating he may just be fucked. He needed something with lights, because if they still had power it meant that they probably had heat. Maybe a store or something, because there might still be blankets left and if he was really lucky maybe a heating unit. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be any stores outside of a bike store and a bunch of restaurants nearby… and none of the restaurants seemed to exactly be open.

 

There was another option, the churches, and Gavin would not try that particular option unless he was desperate… and he was just desperate enough to do it. The nearest one was a Jewish synagogue, with big wooden doors and lights that were still on. No doubt there were people inside, and even if there wasn’t they had power and likely some material inside that the soldier could use to get warm again. The single bottle of rum that he downed earlier would hold him over, at least for now, so at least he wasn’t shaking at the present. Boots stomped against the snow coating the ground on the way, and hands desperately trying not to shake from the cold tried the door.

 

Locked, predictably.

 

The windows on the doors were opaque, and had the Cross of David prominently displayed on them. Gavin couldn’t see whether there was light inside of the door, which meant he had an interesting choice. He could break down the door with his powers, but if the heating was not on or able to turned on inside he would just freeze to death slightly slower due to letting all the cold air in. He could also try teleporting inside, but if there was not a connecting shadow that ran underneath that door…

 

He wasn’t exactly sure what would happen, because he had never wanted to change materializing inside of solid material like a door before. The likely result would be instant death, but when the alternative was slow and withering death for the crime of wanting a damned drink it didn’t sound so bad. Since the light outside was still on, this was his best shot at not freezing to death. Steel gray eyes locked on to the door, and the man breathed deeply before letting the shadow over the door take him. If he was going to die, he wouldn’t close his eyes for it.

 

A second later, he was just past the door no worse for wear. It was noticeably warmer inside, and the soldier immediately threw off his thick gloves and started rubbing them together furiously to try and get some feeling back in them. Upper West side was an affluent part of town, of course its infrastructure still worked. Thank God for the small victories.

 

A cold, calculating gaze surveyed the entrance area… but it didn’t seem like anyone was home. After a few minutes, the man lost the parka to have easier access to the revolver in the jacket underneath it. If there was anyone in here, he doubted it was the actual men and women who came to this holy place. In an area like this, all the locals were safely in their homes and away from the danger of the outside. Unless they were goddamn alcoholics with no self-control, that is.

 

Fucking hell. He hoped it didn’t come to that, killing people in a goddamned church. If he had to do it, he would… but despite the awful things he had done to survive in the past, something about even the thought of killing someone in the house of God revolted him. With any luck, he would just be alone with his paranoia and nobody else would show up. What were the chances, anyway?

 

Looking around, with the scattered lights still on… he determined the chances were too damned high and activated both cloak and noise dampening. Pulling out his revolver from the pocket of his second jacket, he held out the firearm in front of him and started moving to search the building, starting with whatever room was directly in front of him. He would not be taken by surprise and killed like this, feeling naked without the protection of his silver thread armor. Trespassing on a church, lightly armed with the stench of alcohol over his body from the residue from the liquor store... no, not like this. Not here.

 

If there was anyone inside of this place, he would know before they ever caught a whiff of him. No regular human, or even most altered, could detect him like this. If they did somehow manage to gain awareness of him, he knew damn well they weren’t human and could react accordingly. He would get them first, before they got him.

 

Killing a monster in the house of God wasn’t sacrilege, was it?

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Tired.

 

The word didn't begin to describe the weariness in his bones.  Hunkered down and vigilant, those within their walls had circled closer and closer to the interior rooms of the building.  A goliath host of sanctity slowly freezing to the core- and he along with it.  For such a vicious and deadly being, it was inconceivable something so simple could bring him down.  Cold, time, and someone with the patience to wait him out, was his only weakness.

 

He struggled daily to light the candles, keep as much normalcy as possible, but nobody was coming anymore and he was beginning to think that when the frigid blanket lifted, the aftermath of the great freeze may just be as devastating as ten years prior.  The church was dark, except the very inner rooms, and quiet as a tomb while everyone conserved energy waiting for this to pass- if ever.

 

*npc* "Rhome," voice was soft, fragile in his old age.

 

The Vicar desperately needed something.  Rhome knew he'd been standing in the doorway for some time, watching the tired magus seek the warm confines of the few rooms that were left heated by the fireplaces and the steam radiators.  The boiler was struggling, and he'd just beat it into submission.  It left him exhausted.  Heating himself, and jumpstarting the boiler.... It was taking its toll.

 

The Vicar was weighing the fatigue of the "sleeping" magus, his premature silver plinked hair resting on the back of the chair, form as close to the fireplace as the others were comfortable with.  Some still had not settled with the fact he was indeed, human combustion.  Chair was warm, blankets were warm, he was finally warm after delving into the bowels of the building to force the boiler to keep firing- but very much awake despite his appearance.

 

Eyes opened quietly at the elderly man, who cleared his throat.  Something was wrong.

 

*npc* "I have no right to ask this of you."

 

A brow quirked over dark grey eyes, closing the book that was dormant in his lap.

 

*npc* "Avi, I lost contact with him yesterday.  Again, today... nothing.   Shabbat, and I am deathly worried.  He's... deeply traditional.  I'm afraid, something has happened.  I cannot make it there."

 

It was the Vicar's oldest companion, an odd couple.  Synagogue, upper west side.  If the man had gotten sick yesterday, or was unable to light a fireplace, the Vicar was concerned even in the emergency he wouldn't do so today.

 

The magus stood, nodding, not a second thought to what he had to do.  He could tell the Vicar felt guilty, but... It was the right thing to do, if he didn't freeze first.

 

+++

 

Breath was finally returning to normal, between the over a mile hike and getting into the locked building using an old particular set of skills, searching the place to find the old friend, and quietly controlling his own shivering before he'd gotten the nod to save the man's life....  he'd almost frozen to death himself.

 

A call to the Vicar to communicate all was well, after several attempts, was finally able to get through.

 

Now he sat, much like less than 24 hours before, Avi in the chair across from him, wrapped in blankets by the fire, he almost back to feeling somewhat normal, room flooded in firelight.  He would stay with Avi in the Synagogue until he was certain the man was okay, and he himself could make it back.  Not many words had passed between them, there was no need- simply content to rest and read in silence.  A priest in black with his collar, a Rabbi next to him.  The Vicar's friendship with Avi had peaked his curiosity, but it wasn't the time to discuss.

 

Soft snores indicated the older man was comfortable in his sleep.  The magus' eyes almost closed to his own nap when they opened again.  He could see the door to the comfortable, older style office just beyond Avi's chair.  It was closed to keep in the heat.

 

He never ignored his gut, lashes lowering as the warmth from the fire continued to press against his skin.  The world was alive, even beyond what mortal eyes could see.  Killers, hunters, predators... knew it could speak without magic.  A gut feeling, a world moving beyond what normal people paid attention to, because they were trained to notice it.

 

Too many years of being a predator.  Eyes closed again, conserving energy.

 

They were not alone.

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Thank God there were no dogs.

 

Gavin’s power set allowed him to hide from discerning eyes and ears, but not from those with noses strong enough to identify specific smells… normally the alcohol. For now, though, it looked like he was in the clear. He went methodically through each room, much faster than he would be able to without his powers due to not needing to worry about the noise factor of his own movements due to his noise dampening. He would have to either accidentally kick a metal pipe or literally run into someone to be heard at this point, which allowed some liberties to be taken.

 

As he progressed through the building, his patience to methodically search each room waned quickly. If someone was hiding in a closet or deep underneath a couch or bed… he would deal with them later if he had to. If anyone put that much effort into hiding, it was very likely that they weren’t exactly a threat to him at the present. It was the ones who took no efforts to hide that were the dangerous ones, especially when one was unlawfully trespassing. The police would not pursue a charge with current conditions, but there would be no shortage of individuals ready to kill trespassers regardless of extenuating circumstances. The doors that were unlocked were opened and the rooms searched, but when a door was both closed and then locked the shadow caster did not bother breaking that lock. It was lazy, sure, but something made him uneasy about picking locks in a holy building.

 

As he made his way throughout the building, however, he became more and more sure that there was nobody inside. By the time he opened perhaps the one occupied door in the establishment, he had gotten sloppier. The door was opened a tad more quickly than usual to save time, and while the noise of the door opening was absent due to magic the second it took for the soldier to register that people were inside of the room meant that the door opened several inches wider than was strictly necessary.

 

Luckily, it seemed like both of the men inside were asleep. There was an older man audibly snoring, and a younger one built like a tank that also had his eyes closed. This was the major source of warmth in the building it seemed like, because the two men inside were maintaining it. For now, Gavin was content to just shut the door and continue on his way. The warmth from the room would be nice, but avoiding an unnecessary confrontation was more important at the present. The rest of the building was free from the bone chilling winds, and while he could not stalk these halls forever… he also did not have to deal with that confrontation right this second.

 

If he could find the source of the heating in the first place, he could also loiter beside it and ensure that a confrontation was never necessary. Sulking next to a radiator or a boiler was not exactly dignified or respectable, but it was a sight better than making a rabbi panic in their own house of worship or freezing to death besides. In years past he might have relied upon his charisma to just walk in, but for now he was just happy that neither of them were awake enough to notice the door being opened.

 

For now, the goal was to finish searching the rooms so he knew generally what he was going to be dealing with in here and then find the heating system to camp out next to. It was still early enough in the day where he could get back to his place of residence as long as he warmed up completely first, and that was likely going to be the plan of action. If he could not locate the heating system, or it proved insufficient to actually fully warm him up… well, he would be stuck here for the night to avoid a large risk of freezing to death.

 

And if the heating system completely died...

 

Well, hopefully it wouldn't come to that.

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Nostrils inhaled slowly.  The temperature suddenly leaking through a slivered open door was shocking, brittle, needling at the sensitivity of a man consumed by fire. To some, cold, to him it felt like electricity being breathed in; the discipline of the Order’s favorite weapon keeping his internal core from firing up to stop the shivering that was going to come after.  Calm and sleeping, but hairtriggered on all cylinders.  He wasn’t supposed to be making waves.  He was supposed to be playing nice in his own sandbox while the “adults” decided how much they were going to hate each other… and decide his fate by proxy.  The fire magus was getting tired of waiting, thoughts had been drifting lately… Snap.  He was ready to just snap.

 

Eyes flicked open the moment the door was closed and the wicked cold stopped bleeding into his sanctuary.  Likely someone waiting out the cold?  How did they get in?  He knew how he’d gotten in, the Vicar’s key.  He’d locked up everything.  Broken in or already here? Not likely already here, which opened a whole other mess of options.  Form rolled up silently, pausing when the older man’s snores sputtered a bit then returned to normal.

 

Door opened quietly and he stepped out, softly closing it behind him and locking it.  No need to hide, but no need to call out either.  The cold was like a punch to his gut, pulling his dark coat closer around him as gray eyes cast long glances in both directions, intent on checking doors and windows.  They would avoid him, or confront him.  Either way he would find out what was going on.

 

Front door first.  Locked.  Eyes wandered over the door, arm extending a palm toward a floor vent at the sputter of heat that was barely oozing from it.  The boiler was still kicking, but it was sparse.  Barely above freezing.

 

Windows.  Perimeter slowly “paced” under the guise of “checking” all the heater vents for some kid of drifting heat.  He’d become keenly aware of the sounds from the old pipes in the building. Clicks, pops, echoing rhythmic clangs like a distant bell were voices in a symphony of an almost century old building that was wheezing to keep breathing its heat.  It was fighting, but the fading sounds signaled it was losing again.  The pilot lights were either going out or the pumps were dying.  This favor was going to kill him.

 

Silent footsteps moved their way downward, the service hall claustrophobic with an almost dirt-like floor,.  Old, shallow and abandoned coal pits to either side.

 

Pumps whirred, it was the flame.  Pilot lights were going out again, best to light them manually until he knew who or what he was dealing with.

 

Lovely.

 

A dying boiler, an intruder… and trying to figure out how to light a pilot light by hand again.  This was the set up for a bad joke.

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