<Ashe> Once again it was a hot and muggy night in New Orleans. Ashe had come to the city earlier in the day to pick up a few parcels that were delivered to the UPS depot in the city and now were safely stashed in his trunk as he wandered his way down Bourbon street. Perhaps that run in with the other men had influenced him because he had a taco bell cup full of soda that he was sipping at. Every now and then he’d pause at the

window to a shop and peer at the wares that were on display. He’d even managed to pick up one of those voodoo dolls for his little collection of oddities.

<Ashe> The young man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small notebook that he sets his nearly empty soda down in order to thumb through the thin pages. once he finds a blank page, Ashe tugs a pencil out of his pocket and makes a couple of notes. There were a few interesting place that he’d like to check out when they were open. A fortune teller, a museum on voodoo, and the like – There really was a good deal of interesting

things in the city here. If only he could find actual magic. Other mages. Ashe chuckles softly to himself. Perhaps he should take out a want add.

<Ashe> After making his notes, Ashe pockets the notebook and pencil and picks up his cup of soda to take a long drink. Maybe there was real magic here… There had to be for people to survive eating Taco Bell. Ashe was pretty sure that he was going to regret that meal later… or sooner. He winced. It had tasted good going down, but he was sure that it was doing something terrible to him. He might die from it.

<Ashe> The young man had managed to find a washroom, though he wasn’t sure if he should have applied a biohazard sign to the door when he left. At least he’d bought something from the store. Now he was sitting on a park bench and looking over one of those tourist brochures and wondering if he should go on one of those ghost walks.

*Katarina* would be meandering around, hands in her pockets. She eventually ends up in the park, a squirrel or two climbing up her and chattering away.

<Ashe> The young man peer up over the top of his brochure when he hears footsteps in the park and blinks a couple of times as he watches the wildlife climbing over a woman, “Ah… Miss. You appear to have… a few things climbing you?”

*Katarina* looks in Ashe’s direction, her gaze moving to the squirrels. “Well, not like it’s the first time this happened.”

<Ashe> The young man wasn’t expecting that lack of reaction, but he supposed that maybe she just happened to enjoy feeding squirrels, “Ah… are you carrying peanuts in your pockets?”

*Katarina* laughs. “Nope. I just have animal magnetism.”

<Ashe> Lifts and eyebrow as he tucks his brochure in his pocket. He was pretty sure that usually was in relation to men or dating, but sure… squirrels… Grinning and resting his arms on his knees he leaned forward to eye the little squirrels, “Well, at least they are only squirrels. It might be more troubling if it were grizzly bears. They are kind of cute though…. remind me of a hamster I had once.”

Dan wanders through the park, drinking for an extra large Taco Bell cup, moving a bit slowly

*Katarina* idly rubs one of the squirrel’s heads, before motioning for them to leave, the squirrels running down her and off into the treeline. “Well, damn. Someone who thinks grizzly bears are cute.”

<Ashe> Couldn’t believe his eyes, but he was sure that was one of the guys he’d seen the other night… He was walking a bit slow so maybe he’s eaten the Taco Bell too… Ashe was pretty sure that was Dave? Derek? Dan! Definitely Dan. “Dan? Hey, bud!” Ok, maybe bud was a bit too familiar for the second time he’d seen someone, but it was all Ashe had at the moment. His eyes flicker back to the odd squirrel lady as the animals seem

to just… obey her, “Hey… how’d you do that? It’s like they listened to you.”

Dan stops just a little too slowly and looks at Ashe. “Oh, hey man! From yesterday? Did that magic potion work for you?” He smirks and heads over to chat

*Katarina* waggles her fingers, a mysterious smile playing across her lips. “Magic.” She then sobers. “I just motioned for them to leave. Not like I talked to them. That’s just crazy.”

*Katarina* “No one can talk to animal, man.”

(animals*)

Dan smirks “Well, it would be pretty Coincidental, now wouldn’t it?”

*Katarina* “Would it? I can’t really say either way.”

<Ashe> Smirks back at Dan, “Well, I haven’t had any undead show up in my house when I wasn’t looking. So I think it might actually be working.” Not that Ashe actually thought that it was magical water. He eyes the squirrels as they scamper off. It was likely a coincidence, “I just figured you have them trained. My hamster would do tricks for sunflower seeds.” Somehow, that wasn’t how he pictured magic to look/

<Dan> “Well, I’m not an expert on such things. I talk to squirrels sometimes, but I’ve never had them listen or talk back.”

Dan looks directly at Ashe. “I have a rock here that will protect you from tiger attacks. Only $20.” He then grins

<Ashe> eyes Dan playfully, “That’s after drinking way too much isn’t it?” He chuckles and shakes his head, “Only if it will protect me from -magical- tigers and squirrels…. and I want a bridge in florida too.”[

<Dan> Well, in that case I’d be talking to them now, I suppose. Ramirez can clearly outdrink me, I don’t know why I even bother to try keeping up.

*Katarina* laughs, moving over to the bench and flopping down on it. “Quite the dreams you have , man.”

<Dan> Here squirrely squirrely squirrel….

Dan looks at them chittering about. “Apparently no effect”

*Katarina* “I didn’t tell them to come over, you know. They just like me. Same with rats, birds, etcetera.”

<Dan> Could you tell the mosquitoes to leave me alone then? Much obliged.

*Katarina* “Not in public, man.”

*Katarina* “If I could do that, anyway.”

<Ashe> tosses his head back and laughs, “Oh, you have no idea about my dreams. I have a bit of a wild imagination.” He leans back and takes a sip from his taco bell cup, “Well, if we are drinking sake, I might have a chance, but I don’t do very well otherwise. I’m a cheap drunk and I’d end up doing worse than talking to squirrels.” Ashe eyes the woman quietly, “Serious… you have all those things crawling over you all the time?

You… have you thought about getting that checked out miss?”

*Katarina* “Nah, not all the time. And why? They bring me presents, so why would I want to get it checked out.”

*Katarina* “Granted, some presents are worse than others.”

Dan takes a long sip from his cup and listens in. “I’m telling you, keep the mosquitoes off me and I’m a happy man. Never was much for animals I’m afraid.”

<Dan> What DOES a squirrel consider a present anyway? I know what cats like to bring you…

*Katarina* “Acorns? Things I like?”

<Ashe> makes a small non-committal noise, “Right… well as long as you’re happy.” He looks down to his cup, maybe there was something in the pop. “If you are doing mosquitos for him, I want in on that.”

<Dan> So what are the… worse presents?

*Katarina* “Spoilers.”

<Ashe> Groaned to himself and rolled his eyes, “Do you -really- need to ask that Dan? I’m not sure I want to know.”

<Dan> I’m a very curious individual. Always gets me in trouble.

<Ashe> shakes his head and laughs, “Yeah, I get that. I tend to find myself in some pickles too, but I’m trying to be a bit more careful. What sort of trouble do you usually find? Bar fights?”

Dan looks down at himself. “I’m not really a bar fight type. Not my scene. I get into more.. esoteric troubles.”

<Ashe> Lifts an eyebrow, “Esoteric troubles? Right. Sure. Well, it is New Orleans, so… zombies?” He was of course joking

*Katarina* just looks at Ashe. “Maybe?”

<Dan> Nah, they tend to keep to themselves mostly

*Katarina* “Unless they

*Katarina* “Unless they’re stumbling into shopping malls.”

<Ashe> The young man laughed again and leaned forward more, “Well, that’s probably good since I don’t have much between there ears.” He taps the side of his head and grins at the woman, “Oh? I thought those were just guys needing coffee at the local starbucks.”

Well, after a night with Ramirez you’d have trouble telling me from one, I’m pretty sure.

<Ashe> “Oh? Well, I think I’d be pretty safe. Swords are pretty good for getting rid of zombies, from what I’ve seen. Or I can just but you on a coffee IV. So what do you do for a living? Channeling your inner zombie and trying to drink off against Ramirez can’t pay too well.”

<Dan> Coffee IV would be great, thanks. I’m a semi retired computer programmer. Now I just play around for fun, exploring the limits of what computers are capable of.

<Dan> And yourself?

<Ashe> Now that was interesting and Ashe smiled wider, “Oh? Think you can set up my Wi-Fi for me sometime? I can’t get the damn thing to work right. Something about firewalls and ports…. wait… are you telling me that it is possible to do more than just look for porn and check email?” Ashe sat back as if mockingly stunned, “Me? I am a few thousand years in the past. I forge swords in keeping with the traditions of my

ancestors… and of course, I have a modern forge as well. That pays the bills. I supply swords for various web based companies, like Albion and Arms and Armor.”

<Dan> Oh, you’re the one that supplies the mall ninjas? Cool. I think I wanted one of those when I was like, 13. Though I’m sure yours are higher quality. As for Wifi.. eh? I mean pretty much the internet IS for porn. Email is a bit old school though, encrypted asynchronous group chat man. Oh, and also netflix and stuff. I think.

<Dan> But mostly pornb

(-b)

<Ashe> Makes a sour face and then rolls his eyes at Dan, “Mall Ninja’s can’t afford my swords and I wouldn’t give a kid something I made. They’d end up cutting part of themselves off. A proper sword can slice through flesh and bone easily.” He blinks slowly, “Did… you use english there? So… can you set up my wi-fi? I can pay in beer or blades.”

*Katarina* chuckles.

Dan blinks slowly. “I guess I could? Though maybe not the best for it. But hey, I could use a discount on good blades. And then I’d just need to learn how to use it and we’re good.”

Ashe grinned and crossed his arms as he leaned back, “You want a discount on blades, but you don’t know how to use them? That is a little odd man, but hey. Set the time on my VCR and I’ll show you how to keep your limbs while using them.” Obviously Dan was now Ashe’s tech support and claimed as such.

<Dan> VCR? Oh man we have to upgrade that..

*Katarina* waves and wanders off.

<Ashe> Laughs “Hey, I was lucky I was allowed to own a VCR. After my grandfather passed away, I got a cell phone, but then things went to shit. I guess I could get some other stuff, but all my favorite movies are on VHS tapes.”

<Dan> What movies?

<Ashe> “Mostly sci-fi and fantasy. I’m a fan of the older B movies too. Things that would make people cringe these days.” He wiggles his fingers, “Vampires, werewolves, and zombies – best movies ever.”

<Dan> Yeah, but they never get it right. Still fun though.

<Ashe> Grins and rests his chin on his hand, “Oh? What part don’t they get right?”

Dan waves his hand vaguely. “Oh you know, stuff.”

<Ashe> Just rolls his eyes and sighs, “Right, stuff. Lemme guess? You are a fan of the big cuddly werewolves and the sparkling vampires?”

<Dan> not even a little, stay away from those guys, bad for your health. The sparkling needs to stop though. Really, just dumb. And poorly written, I may add.

<Ashe> Makes a snorting noise and slaps his knee with a wider grin, “Right. If I see a werewolf I’ll be sure to tell him that we can’t chat. The recent stuff is pretty bad. I watched some newer movies because I was curious, but like most things, it was overrated.” He looks down at his hand and flexes his fingers, “I think… if I met a vampire, I’d have to make them sparkle just to fuck with them a bit.”

<Dan> I suppose I’d watch that. From a safe distance.

<Ashe> “What? You think it would be a bad idea?” Ashe wiggles his fingers as if he was already planning, “Besides. It would only be one of those guys dressed up at halloween. It would be fun. Besides… I have some ideas. I’m sure I wouldn’t get caught.”

<Dan> “Well, I suppose as long as you don’t try it on a REAL vampire it would be fine.” He then grins at his own joke

<Ashe> Rolls his eyes in amusement, “Right. You can point out the -real- vampires so I don’t make a mistake on it. I’d hate to piss off the living dead if I can help it. Though I guess I could just start asking people if they are vampires and werewolves” Ashe taps his chin thoughtfully, “Actually… that might not be a bad idea. Ramirez was talking about shops that sell the -real- deal for occulty stuff. How -real- do you think

that stuff is, or do you think he was just shitting me?”

<Dan> This is New Orleans! It’s all real of course, just the real stuff is better hidden.

<Ashe> squinted and leaned towards Dan with an unreadable expression, “Are you being serious? There is… real shit here? Real Vampires? Real… magic?”

<Dan> “Am I? What a great question! There’s clearly more to heaven and earth then dreamp’t of in your philosophy. How much is real and what? Well, if I knew would I tell a random person I just met?” He takes another drink from his Taco Bell cup.

<Ashe> drops his head and rubs the spot between his eyes, “Right, yeah. Probably not. I wouldn’t if I knew that shit.” Figures that guy was just screwing with him, “Well, I figure this place out eventually.”

<Dan> “Well, if you show promise and run into the right folks I’m such they’ll teach you. Like the say in sci fi… the sleeper must Awaken.”

<Ashe> lets his hand slide down his face and blinks at Dan with a deapan expression, “What did you say? At the end?”

<Dan> “It’s from the old David Lynch Dune film with Kyle McLaughlin. The sleeper must Awaken” he stresses the word awaken while watching Ashe for signs of recognition.

<Ashe> “I remember tha film, I just…” He rubbed the back of his neck and eyes Dan curiously, “It was just an odd choice of words. I thought you meant something else.”

<Dan> “It was a great film, even if they messed up the weirding way of battle from the books. What was odd about the word choice?” He now looks directly at Ashe expectantly.

<Dan> “Would you rather I pulled a quote from Avatar? Beautiful film but no one remembers anything about it.”

<Ashe> chuckles softly, “I saw that on in theatre, Avatar. It was pretty amazing looking.” He let hid hand drop and shrugged sheepishly, “I just… recall them from a recent series of events, those words… but it’s kind of a weird story and you wouldn’t believe me.”

<Dan> You’d be surprised what I’d believe… what recent events?

<Ashe> spent a few moments just watching Dan, probably weighing things in his mind, “I guess I didn’t handle things too well when my grandfather died. Things kind of went a little odd and I haven’t seen the world quite the same since.” It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn

‘t very telling either, “You know… I just see things in a new light. Sometimes it doesn’t make much sense.”

<Dan> well, that sounds interesting.. can you tell me more about it?

<Ashe> “Well, I lost myself to my work, you know. That was all I really had and then one day… I don’t know. Maybe I was working too hard. Dehydrated. Something… and… it just felt like I woke up. Things made more sense. I could see things I couldn’t before. It was… amazing… and I probably sound pretty crazy, or like I was tripped out of drugs.”

<Dan> Nah, I had a day just like that right before I made my big breakthrough on coding that let me retire. I totally get it. You just.. <snap> and things come into clearer focus than you thought possible and things are just obvious

<Ashe> Gave Dan a huge grin and sat up, “Exactly! It was like I could feel… no, see the steel, the flaws, the… patterns… more clearly.” Never mind that he could do things with them as well.

<Dan> Mhmm, sounds very familiar. What else can you tell me about it? That little voice in <he pauses a second looking for the right word> the back of your head maybe, helping you along?

<Ashe> The young man’s eyes go wide in abject surprise. There was no way Dan could know about that… unless he did think Ashe was crazy. His surprise expression shifted into a guarded one, “I’m not crazy. It’s -real-.”

<Dan> Of course it is!

<<scene frozen, to be continued after sapph returns from coma>>