The man who greets each of you is tall, standing at roughly 6'2, with broad shoulders. His hair is a light, muddy-brown in color, the same color as his eyes, and there is a certain brutishness to his face. He's clean shaven, with a wide jaw and a puggish nose, lightly freckled. His features are large unprepossessing, but those eyes are perceptive -- aware, looking everywhere, and his full lips are often alight with sardonic humor. Smile lines radiate in fine array from the corners of his face, and his broad, white teeth are in more or less perfect condition. "Greetings," he offers, his voice rich with the inflections of the British Isles. "My name is Arthur Montgomery and I am glad that you have all accepted my invitation."
"Would anyone care for refreshements or a light repast, while we talk?" Arthur asks of the group. "I have wine, a fine scotch, good, chilled water, and, for those with such tastes," he glances towards no one in particular.
Brooklyn shakes her head, managing a polite smile at his offer, "Nothing for me," she says, looking Arthur over briefly before turning her eyes towards Hugo. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Montgomery," Hugo responds to their host, hands withdrawing from his jacket's pockets as he enters the home. Looking over the offerings and then towards Brooklyn he soon returns his focus to Montgomery to add, "I'm fine for now as well, thank you."
"Likewise, mister Ellery." There's a flash of a grin from the man. "Please, sit," Arthur says to Brooklyn and Hugo, gesturing towards the two couches. "I hope you don't mind if I indulge?" he asks, stepping towards the sideboard to claim one of the crystalline decanters. He pours himself two fingers and then wanders to claim on the cordovan recliner.
"Not at all." Hugo shakes his head and waves a hand permissively as the man pours himself a drink. Undoing his coat, he folds his jacket over this arm and proceeds to follow Montgomery over towards the indicated couches to take a seat.
Brooklyn doesn't initially respond to Arthur, instead letting her eyes wander around the living room. At his gesture towards the couches, she makes her way over to sit, before echoing Hugo's words. After a beat of silence, she asks, "Is it just he and I?" she asks, gesturing over to Hugo.
"At the moment," Arthur says, with a sigh. "I extended invitations to several others. Including a miss Kazuyoshi of this gentleman's affiliation," he notes, nodding towards Hugo. "As well as a few others with more physical talents, but they're either running late or have... declined to attend." He shakes his head slightly. "Part of this is to introduce you to the problem we face and let you think on it, before being sent into the arms of danger." He takes a swallow of the whiskey, his muddy-brown orbs enfolding the two attending. "If the others arrive late, I'll speak with them as well, but, it is likely the sort of thing that will require preparation."
"I'm usually loathe to have to bring in assistants for this sort of work, but it is, unfortunately..." Arthur smiles very, very faintly. "One of those times. The history of Westfall Sanitarium is a long and loathesome thing. It's a place where some of the worst abuses in medical history have occurred. This is only compounded by the fact that for the last twenty years of the facilities' life, it was managed by the facilities director Morgan Distarkis." The faint smile on his lips ceases to touch his eyes. "Once, we claimed him to be one of our own. A watcher, of some talent."
"The worst abuses in Medical History?" Brooklyn echoes, canting her head curiously at the statement, "Definitely have me curious for the specifics... was Morgan overseeing all of that, safe to assume?"
Hugo idly strokes his beard as he listens to Arthur's response to Brooklyn's questions, his brown eyes switching from one to the other. Getting right to the meat of things, his eyebrows press together as he plainly asks, "I cannot imagine that there was no intellectual purpose behind whatever was done there under his watch, if he was a Watcher. Do you know if he left notes or research logs behind of any sort?"
"An abnormally, though by no means significant part of the population of the sanitarium were unawakened or latent fae and demonborn that simply could not deal with their natures. And several awakened ones at that. The blood was useful for his research," the man says, the smile growing thinner. Glancing towards Hugo, Arthur nods once. "Oh yes, there was quite a good deal of research done. He was a sorcerer and an artificer of no mean talent. He was also a brilliant scientist, studying the minds of the awakened for what differences he could find." His fingers drum lightly on the leather. "With all of the mercy of Doctor Mengele. As soon as we found out the nature of his research, he was..." The half smile grows darkly amused. "Dealt with. However, it turns out that much of his research was left behind, hidden from those who scoured the facility for it. As well, his cache of artifacts. Much of his research was left behind, however."
Arthur continues, "However, the facility... after it was decomissioned was purchased by one Daunton Magnusson. Unfortunately, a sorcerer of great talent as well... and a master of warding magics. Also, apparently with blood vaults that would have Croesus jealous." The half smile on his lips is tight. "We recovered a good deal of the research involved, but, by no means all of it. However, at the time, there was little we could do... overtly, anyways."
"Okay," Brooklyn says, nodding her head at Arthur as he finishes. "So... are you just wanting people to go in and gather the rest of the research? To... destroy it, perhaps?"
"Hmm," Hugo hum softly to himself, eye averting downwards and to the side briefly as he takes in the tale of the facility. Mouth turning downwards for a second at something said by Brooklyn, he clears his throat and shifts his attention back to Arthur as he asks, "Indeed, and does this Magnusson still have hold of the sanatarium?"
"It's... much less simple than that," Arthur says, looking towards Hugo and Brooklyn. "If it had been that simple, well, forgive me, but we wouldn't be having this conversation. The majority of his research was on the effects of minds and associated powers and how they worked in a santarium setting. What the mind did to such things, as well as how latent minds worked." At Hugo's comment, he draws in a breath and then exhales. "I... I don't know. According to all sources, he died in twenty-thirteen. A body was found and the like. There, however, was an odd surge of ball lightning before then, and the groundskeepers... well, the groundskeepers couldn't talk much. Then, a short time ago, there was a surge of a similar energy. In the interim, we sent in a research team of our own. Most of them made it back more or less intact. All of them reported a sense of unease, and they seemed to think the walls themselves moved."
"Backtrack for a second," Brooklyn says, making the necessary gesture with her hands, "Most of them made it back more or less intact? Can you elaborate on that? Is that physical or emotional?"
"More or less intact," Hugo quiety echoes. "That's... uh, fortunate." The mostly bald man scratches at a healing wound on his throat as Brooklyn voices her question, his attention shifting to the young woman as she speaks and then towards Arthur as he awaits his answer.
"One was injured when a stone gargoyle fell from the roof, but the rest were find. They didn't find anything, but, they were fine. We sent in another team after the newest event. One of them came back. With some sense of their mind intact," Arthur says. He takes another swallow from his glass of whiskey, looking towards Hugo and Brooklyn. "One did not return at all. And the other two... well, its taken quite some time to coax them from skittering at the shadows. This takes us to the other portion of Morgan's research... Are either of you familiar with what causes a ghost to remain, after death?"
"It's fine if you don't. It's imperfectly understood... but, its one of the reasons for such a high mortality rate at the facility. There were chambers... hidden chambers, beneath the depths of the facility that would have made Torquemada green with envy." Arthur's muddy brown eyes seem to blaze, as he says this. His voice is aloft with disgust.
"He may know more than I," Brooklyn says, gesturing to Hugo before speaking, "But outside of the widely publicized, 'Unfinished Business,' I don't," she says, shaking her head. "I take it with a question like that, you think Morgan stuck around? ...If so, for any of the research teams sent in, the ones that were... less so intact, were they Fae or Demonborn?"
Hugo tilts his head from side to side, eyes awkwardly averting from Arthur when he voices his question. "I'm somewhat familiar, to say the least. I may have done some research into the subject in my younger days," he says, almost as if admitting something bad.
There's a shake of Arthur's head. "No, not necessarily. I think a lot of things stuck around, more accurately," the tip of his tongue wets his lips. "Morgan's research was almost purely academic, I think. Perfectly, immorally academic, but academic nonetheless. He was attempting to identify a repeatable mechanism for causing the dead to remain. What we were able to decipher from his journals, he had approached a twenty-five percent success rate. Which, while minute in general terms is a golf shot in the matter. Unfortunately, it was utterly, cruelly immoral. And more often than not the ghosts were twisted, mad shades. But it was still an impressive skill."
"By, 'dead to remain', do you mean dead to stay dead, or dead to stay here?" Brooklyn wonders.
Hugo blinks repeatedly at Arthur's statement, a bit taken surprised by it. "Twenty five percent? That's uh... huh." Finger slipping in behind his tie, he adjusts his collar some uncomfortably before regaining what composure he lost. "So it's to be expected that these shades still remain?"
"As to faeborn, no. But the most damaged of those that returned was a medium." Arthur takes another long draught from his glass. "You see, what he claims is... the entire building... the grounds themselves had changed. To the normal eye, it was as everything. But every inch... every iota of space was swallowed by some inky, spiritual darkness." At Brooklyn's comment, he says, "Dead to remain here. As ghosts." He nods towards Hugo. "And I'm afraid its worse than that, in many regards. The place is warded. In perpetuity, in one form or another. Morgan was a pure academic, but... Dauton? Dauton was a mystic. A powerful necromancer, but also one who had travelled via the Gate and seen places. Other worlds. And wanted immortality. Not in some pale form like... and I mean no offense, miss Arkwright, like a vampire, but instead a great perpetuity."
"Are either of you familiar with the concept of a genius loci?" Arthur asks, taking another swallow of the rich, dark liquid.
"None taken," Brooklyn says, her words soft as she shakes her head to his following question.
"Roman? The spirit of a place?" Hugo asks in turn. He holds his thumb and pointer finger close together, indicating something's small. "A bit. I've heard of them, at the very least."
"Yes, quite," Arthur says, nodding towards Hugo. "We've never heard of such a thing at this juncture, however. And that takes this from being simply worrisome, to terrifying. The medium on the team... she, she recalls the entire grounds feeling like a part of a single spirit when she entered. They tried to banish it, and they were able to clear a part of it... but, much of it remained. Far too much to be tackled trivially." Arthur's mouth tightens as he looks between the two of them. "What she did say, is that there seemed to be points that focused it. It's possible that the process required artifical intervention, but, its outside anything we really know." His fingers drum at the leather again. "I think... I think Daunton knew about Morgan's research and was trying to find a way to grant himself true immortality." "By insuring he became a ghost?" Hugo muses out loud, tongue pressing against the inside the of his cheek as he thinks over what he'd just said for several seconds. Fingers lacing back into his beard, his head tilts to the side a moment as he then adds, "But one the 'size' of a building? That's quite large, to say the least. Did he manage to somehow bind himself to the building in a novel way?"
Brooklyn frowns at the verbal exchange between Hugo and Arthur, before speaking, "If he truly is a ghost, I can't imagine his existence being anything like he imagined it would be... Given the wards on the place I'd assume he'd just be trapped there. Stuck on the grounds he cursed because he was so foolishly terrified to die."
"I can only conjecture, but, I don't think it ended the way mister Magnusson thought it was going to." Arthur's lips tighten slightly and he adds, "I think he was trying to become a god, actually. Acheiving perfection through immateriality of form. It's possible he was trying to use the artifacts he had discovered as a binding source to allow him to transition." One shoulder rises in a small shrug, before dropping back down. "But, I think, if my conjecture is right, he is also far more than a mere spirit. What the team was able to discover, before they had to flee... were that some sections of the house were more active than others." At Brooklyn's comment, he nods, a faint smile on his lips. "I imagine you're quite right. Unfortunately, its more complicated than that. I think it's sort of like what happens when a wight is created."
"The process of, or the aftermath?" Brooklyn asks, leaning back in the cushion of the couch to relax, crossing her legs at the knee. "You can always just starve and wait out a wight. I don't imagine that's an option here, is it?"
"It's still something," Hugo points out with a bit of solemnity. "I believe I've heard some remark that even Hell would be acceptable so long as they'd continue to be."
Hugo pulls his overcoat up onto his lap a bit more as it starts slipping off, head shaking faintly. "He imparted his essence into an inanimate structure?" he asks. "I mean I know corpses are, technically, also inanimate, but achieving the same with a building is something else entirely."
"Again, this is nothing I've any experience with. I've hypothesis a dozen. The problem is... I need something more concrete. And I need individuals that have talents I don't have," Arthur says, with a shake of his head. "I fully intend to send some of my own, but, well, mister Ellery, your affiliation shows you might know much of what is occuring and be able to help. Miss Arkwright... well, I've never heard of an Arkwright that isn't capable of immense violence when necessary." At Hugo's comment, he nods, once. "It's what we think, but there's nothing perfect about what we know. We have conjecture. But the rest of Morgan's research would be invaluable... as would anything of Daunton's work, following Morgan's execution." T
Then, one corner of Arthurs' mouth stretches, almost bleakly, before he adds, "And we know that the reality there is more... flexible than it should be. Unless it was an illusion, which it might have been. Well, the man that return swore he saw the stair case run like molten wax and become something else."
"Correct me if I'm wrong," Brooklyn says, holding up a hand to Arthur as she silently asks for patience, "But Morgan is dead, likely possessing somehow an entire structure in what can be considered an extreme attempt of achieving godhood. The place itself is likely filled with shades, and there may or may not be a powerful necromancer to deal with, that you want dealt with, right?"
An unsure look crosses Hugo's features as he hears Brooklyn's statement. "That distinctly sounds like something that requires more than a bit of violence," he admits. "How contained is the phenomena found at the asylum? Is it threatening to spill out into the surrounding areas at all?"
"I don't think its Morgan, miss Arkwright. Partially because I personally banished his shade after I executed him," Arthur says, leaning back into the chair. "No, I think it is Daunton possessing the site, as a disciple of mister Distarkis' research." Those fingers drum against the leather again. "The problem is, there's bleed, of some kind. It's even possible that it will start forming into a localized shroud of its own. That's our greatest worry. A mad ghost, wishing to be a god, worrying at the edges of reality."
"If Daunton is still here," Brooklyn says, gesturing vaguely with her hands as if to place emphasis on the last word, "Then he likely can be reasoned with, right? If he wants true immortality, why not just give it to him? At the most the illusion of it, at least. You still have his research, right?" She asks, eyes settling on Arthur, "Surely that can be constructed into some sort of... trojan horse, that in turn can be used to just banish him altogether."
"Perhaps, that's part of the point," Arthur says, with a nod towards Brooklyn. "I can send my own in for research, but, I have few that are as well prepared for things. We're mostly researchers and if the place itself can be warped, its likely to require those with a certain strength and reslience. My thought, personally, is that there are anchors there to keep his command focused. Part of the research we were able to find was that locations with more resonance were more likely to cause the cross over. It's possible that by damaging his hold on the place, we can reduce him to a mere spirit... rather than whatever he is. But, this is all still conjecture. We don't... We don't know." He looks between the two of them, before drawing in a breath. "I was expecting more to come and I'll require their assistance, before I'm willing to send a team on this."
"Because if we are, I bittersweetly doubt violence will get anyone far," Brooklyn says.
"I expect you're facing..." Arthur looks back towards Hugo when he asks the question. Then, slowly he says, "We tried that, actually. Helicopter with four fifty five gallon drums of napalm. It didn't burn. The building I mean. It's possible a sufficient amount of force might be able to, but, it seems as though the place has its own defenses. Though, I appreciate your ingenuity." At Brooklyn, he shakes his head. "No, I think what you'll find is worse and better in its own way. I think you'll find spirits in some regard, as well as revenants and other more corporeal death related creatures."
"And... are any of them sane?" Brooklyn asks, voice somewhat soft as she asks a follow up question to Arthur.
Brooklyn says, in a gentle New England contralto, 'Or are they more of, 'kill intruders on sight' variety?'
"We're not sure. That's the problem. Much of this is conjecture. It's certainly possible that nothings going to happen, and that it was a freak occurance, or a dying mind," Arthur says, with a shrug. "It's why I'm looking to make a rather mixed team for this. With various different types of support, you know? Necromancers, some hitters and some investigators, as well as a couple of ritualists. Just to make damn sure. We know that, its possible to at least to banish sections of it. That might give us time to find out what's going on."
"At least we would be prepared this time," Hugo hesitantly remarks to Brooklyn. "The whole scenario sounds as bad if not worse than the 'issues' encountered during our little mine outing, but for what it's worth we're at least aware we would be headed towards trouble this time around.."
"I suppose..." Brooklyn says, offering a polite smile, and slight shrug to Hugo, "But... trapped in a mine or going insane in a haunted facility. Pros and cons."
"Arthur," Brooklyn says, speaking to gain his attention, "Why specifically Faeborn and Demonborn? Why was the research centered around them and not anything else?"
Looking down at his drink, Arthur says, "I need another," before rising to his feet. "Are you sure I can't tempt the two of you into partaking of the food and wine? It's quite good." With that, he steps to the sideboard to pour himself another bit of the scotch, and making a tiny sandwich with Spanish ham, toasted croquette, a slathering of brie and a tiny drop of dijon mustard. Glancing back towards Brooklyn, he shakes his head. "They were simply more likely to be committed, is all. You saw fewer demigod latents being committed for being bat-shit crazy. As to the risks, I understand they're pretty significant. I will be going along as well, with several other ritualists to hopefully help reduce the overall effects. I'm... a competent combatant, but few of the others are. You'll have fire support on this. And there are a few others I hope to have along as well."
"Admittedly, all this chatter has me a bit thirsty," Brooklyn says, smiling faintly at Arthur, "Can you pass me a glass of wine on your way back?"
"Of course. I do also have a glass of twenty two year aged Angelborn, if that's more to your liking," Arthur says towards Brooklyn with a little bit of a smile. Then, towards Hugo, he adds, "Doctor?"
Hugo leaves his overcoat on the couch as he rises up to follow their host towards the sideboard. "I think I may have a bite now, thank you," he states quietly. As he gathers up several bits of bread, cheese, and salami into a tiny sandwich he then asks, attention split between what he's assembling and to those he speaks, "There is, assumedly, a blueprint to the structure available as well? And, uh..." He pauses a moment to consume a scrap of the ham. "Erm, what of the artifacts mentioned? Is it known if they remain or where they might be? I'm presuming they have some part in his hold in the place, if not his transformation as you've noted."
Brooklyn's smile falters so very briefly at Arthur's words, before it's quickly replaced by a warm smile, "No need in having it go to waste, then. That will work fine," she says, nodding her head to Arthur.
"The problem is, we know they're present and... once Molly is capable of doing more than, well... gibbering between in brief interludes," Arthur says, pouring Brooklyn a glass of the angelborn blood, extending it towards her. Looking back towards Hugo, he nods once, before taking a sip from his glass of scotch. "We've got a blueprint of the building... and an idea on where some of the artifacts were likely cached. The problem is, this is all past information. And if walls are actually moving? Well... that makes it harder. A medium is going to be crucial, because if I am right, they can help find the loci of control. Which might be artifacts. Or it might be where Morgan did his research. It's hard to tell."
"Luckily, Molly is far more lucid these days than she was in... days previous," Arthur says with a faint, tight smile.
"Is Molly the only medium?" Brooklyn wonders as she takes the glass handed to her, nestling it in her lap and securing it from spilling with both hands, "Or did you send out invitations to others that you knew of?"
"She was the medium that went on the second mission, which means she knows the most of what was happening. It'll provide a bit more detail as to what is occuring," Arthur says, as he looks back towards Brooklyn. "I am also... talented in such regards."
Chewing what's left of the small sandwich he'd put together, Hugo shuffles back to reclaim the vacant space he'd left on the couch, hands brushing off on his jeans. Mouth full, he simply nods along with the conversation for now.
After a few moments, Arthur says towards Brooklyn and Hugo, "So, that's what I know so far. In regard to what I can give you for assisting with this. Well, most of the artifacts you might find, are more then welcome to leave with you. And, as you've some academic interest in such things, I can likely see that you've a share of the research, as well as, perhaps, a favor to call on in the future. Right now? I try to figure out what happened to the other people who were supposed to be here tonight. I'd recommend doing some research on your own, if you can, you might find things I don't have access to."
"Hm. I'll try to dredge through what I can access in Haven," Hugo states, brushing some stray crumbs from his facial hair with a sweep of his hand. "Perhaps something useful might come up."
"And, if either of you have candidates that you would like to recommend as potential support personnel, well, I'm happy to listen," Arthur says, offering the two of them a grin. "I didn't quite find as many interested parties as I would have hoped."
"Assuming miss Kazuyoshi arrives, we'll have enough on the occult. Another combatant, and, perhaps another medium would be ideal. I expect I'll be busy spending virgin blood like its candy," Arthur admits, with a tilt of his head towards Hugo. "I think, that should be sufficient. Someone that's good at sensing things in the physical, perceptive, would be helpful. But... that's the ideal, I think. That would help a great deal."
Brooklyn raises her glass to her lips, taking a small, brief sip before asking, "When are you wanting to send us out?"
Hugo's expression brightens up for a moment, but the look soon fades back to his usual, baseline demeanor as he bobs his head in response to Arthur's list.
"Right now, not until Molly's all the way sane. I want to have information and intelligence, before we go out. Mostly, I wanted to make sure you knew risks, before you went in, and hopefully, with some time, might be able to have some lateral thinking." There's a serious tone in Arthur's voice, before he adds, "If this gets as bad as I think it could... I want it cleansed. The knowledge is important. What happened is important. But... a baleful gape into the hell that surrounds us? I can't allow that to happen."
Brooklyn glances casually at her drink, though her eyes return to Arthur as he speaks.
Hugo coughs, his eyes lowering again as his fingers busy themselves with adjusting his tie. "Yes, of course. Putting an end to the horror at the asylum is top priority," he agrees a touch half-heartedly.
"Alright," Brooklyn says, nodding her head at Arthur, "I guess we'll hear from you when she's back to herself."
Arthur nods towards Brooklyn. "Thank you both for coming. Miss Arkwright. Doctor Ellery," the man says, before escorting them towards the exit.
Brooklyn is the last to stand as Arthur heads to the door. Positioning herself behind Hugo, she downs her drink, likely taking with her the empty wine glass to leave to traces left of her actions.
"Thank you for hosting us, Mr. Montgomery." Gathering up his things, Hugo dips his head politely to their host as he heads out through the door. "What you've told us has been quite interesting, to say the least.'"