SEVEN CARD STUD
JACK YOUNGBLOOD joined by OSAMU NISHIMURA (西村修), DETECTIVE ROY MULLENIX and MATHEW “WOOF” RILEY sat down for dinner at the Space Needle Restaurant with LORD MONTAGUE who was hosting the meal along with his daughter, DELILAH MONTAGUE and the man who had the artifact in question, HAMATO YOSHI. Montague ordered drinks for everyone and unsurprisingly knew everyone’s favorite beverage. Jack, sipping his Red Stripe beer, was angered by this demonstration of Montague’s knowledge of his private life but managed to keep his mouth shut about it (for the most part). Jack fired back with his knowledge of Ronin’s activities in San Francisco and Asia gaining a modicum of respect from the former monk.
Osamu sipped his tea quietly as initial introductions were made while Detective Mullenix seemed decidedly uncomfortable being so open about his awareness of the supernatural with the Police Commissioner of Seattle sitting across from him.
Osamu then had a lengthy discussion with Hamato Yoshi in Japanese asking him what he had been up to since his dismissal from the temple. Yoshi it seems had been one of the Temple’s brightest students but had a rebellious streak that eventually got him kicked out. He explained that he had done what he could to simply to survive since his expulsion. Osamu was somewhat skeptical given that the Ronin was wearing an Armani suit and silk shirt. He obviously was doing more than simply surviving. He questioned Yoshi at length trying to see if he was misusing the skills he had gained at the Temple. He also extended an invitation to Ronin to attend REVEREND CHARLIE’S services in hopes to bring the wayward warrior back into the fold. Jack, consulting with a local spirit who translated the conversation for him, made a sympathetic comment about how all those temple types were a little too wound up for their own good and then chastised the two for speaking in a foreign language which was just rude.
Getting down to business the group learned that the artifact in question was a small statue that allegedly brought good fortune to those who possessed it. When asked why he didn’t keep it for himself Ronin admitted that he had acquired the artifact in a manner that did not allow him access to its powers of luck and prosperity. The previous owner had died and it did not pass to him with clean metaphysical title. Therefore he could not use its powers. He could however, make a tidy profit by offering it on the market (and apparently by making it the prize of a game, he could ritually pass it on as if he was legitimate). He refused to give any more detail on the statue because he didn’t want it generally known what he possessed. He feared it would cause too many contesting factions to make a play for it. He had settled on a game of skill to determine who would end up possessing the artifact: 7 card stud – World Series of Poker Rules. It seems Yoshi was quite a fan. He also announced who was invited to play in the game with one player undeclared to this point:
Most surprising about this list was the inclusion of Baronet Myst. Jack had heard that he was a master Black Court Vampire of minimal and insignificant power who resides near the town of Forks. However, he suspected that the rumors of his lack of power and deadliness were started by the undead creature itself. Proxies would stand in for William West (Jack determined that ERIC LAUFEY would play for him with a phone call) and for the Venatori who would be represented by MEGAN MULLENIX.
He and Osamu negotiated the terms of the agreement to provide security for the game with it made clear that they would make sure the event itself was free from cheating. The statue would be held at a separate place until the tournament and was the responsibility of Ronin himself until then. Jack could tell that the Ex-monk had significant powers in his own right and although he lacked the mystical punch and ability of a full White Council Wizard, he was very skilled and likely dangerous. In fact Jack realized that it was Yoshi’s wards had defeated his own attempts earlier to track the statue which showed him to be gifted indeed. Jack also noted a very faint …shadowy darkness that seemed to settle over the area that had a decided mystical feel. He warned his comrades to be alert but despite his probings he was unable to determine just what it was that left him feeling so uneasy.
Around this time Montague and Delilah received calls, as did Detective Mullinex, that another decapitated body had been found. While it took three murders to qualify as a serial murder Montague announced that it seemed an unauthorized serial killer was stalking the streets of Seattle. Jack bristled at this asking Montague if he had AUTHORIZED serial killers that he was unaware of. Lord Montague brushed aside Jack’s outrage with a gesture and declared that he used whatever assets he deemed necessary to protect his city. With that he passed on the case to Detective Mullinex if he wanted it. Roy agreed and left to view the crime scene as the dinner party was convened.
While on the scene the detective inferred that the killer was obviously very determined and skilled. He had executed the attack on a Microsoft employee in such a way to leave a minimum of evidence; attacking from a point where the ground was hard and would leave no footprints and in such a way so he would not be splattered with blood. The cut itself was made by someone very skilled with a sword. Forensics determined that the weapon used was VERY sharp and in fact had been sharpened since the first murder (leading to the suspicion that it may well be a mundane weapon). Roy had the decency to rule out Jack as the killer which was a relief to the young Warden given their history. In fact he also realized that the Time of Death precluded all present at the dinner from being the killer. He called Osamu on his cell phone to let him and Jack know what was going on with the investigation.
The Warden had asked Osamu to escort him around the INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT so he could ask the Saints if they had any knowledge of the artifact in question or with Hamato Yoshi. Meanwhile, Riley was to go speak with SILVIO KHLORES about securing his demense for the proceedings which would occur in less then two weeks, during the waning moon.
While on his way to see Silvio the ex-SEAL received a gruff phone call from MR. SQUIRE asking him for a progress report on securing the statue for his lady ODIANNA OF WINTER. Riley reported that he had not but he had learned that it would be the prize of a poker game. Squire asked him if he could win the contest and Riley assured him that that was beyond him. Yet he would gain the item for the Handmaiden somehow. The ogre told him to do so. Either by winning the poker game using a proxy if he had to or through whatever other means necessary.
Meanwhile, Jack and Osamu met with all four of the Saints of Seattle. REVEREND CHARLIE had little knowledge of Ronin to offer but did show great wisdom in answering the riddle of why such a mighty company as Microsoft would name themselves in terms that implied they were small and pliant. Which puzzled Osamu a great deal. Charlie pointed out with great gusto that it was obviously because the program was the servant of the user. The name implied this and therefore was acceptable. This inspired many jokes on the sexual prowess of software developers by Jack while Osamu attempted to remain tolerant of the Warden’s irreverent attitude. Fortunately, the young monk had spent many hours at temple disciplining his mind.
Taking leave of the Temple after talking to Charlie the two headed to see HYUNG-SU KIM (whom Jack irritated with talk of goblins and their lack of decorum). Kim gave them some noodles to deliver to BABYLAN at her tea house, and mentioned that he had last heard of Ronin being active in Hong Kong. Jack shamelessly hit on Babylan while delivering the noodles much to her amusement. She shot his clumsy attempts at flirtation down although he did note that she secretly checked him out as he left. She must have appreciated the lilacs he had sent her earlier that month more than she let on. She revealed that she too perceived the faint deepening of shadows that Jack felt at dinner.
Finally, the only Saint left to visit was THE DRAGON LADY. Jack regaled Osamu with a tale about an unfortunate misunderstanding between him and the venerable Mountain Crone. It seems that she was not amused that he tricked her with pig’s blood in trade for her aid in the past instead of a sampling of his own blood as he had implied. While his tone was lighthearted Osamu could tell that he was quite nervous. And not without reason. Luckily Jack managed to NOT anger her further. However, he gathered little information from her with his refusal to give her his blood for real this time.
All in all the Saints had little information to offer the two friends. No notable Asian artifacts seem to have been stolen recently. However, all of them were quite surprised to discover that Ronin was in town but they all agreed not to disseminate this information until the card tournament was over.