<Amir> headed towards the expresso bar with a steady and even step that only just gave away the pain from his joints as the weather began to shift towards the fall. The older man held a cigarette to his lips to take a slow drag and held the savoury smoke in his lungs before exhaling and dropping the butt. A pause to crush it out was all he spared before continuing onwards and adjusting the collar on his trench coat. When he arrived at the expresso

bar he order a ‘plain

‘plain’ coffee. Just coffee. Black.

<Altaryn> arrived at the little cafe and glanced around for signs of his friend. Looked like he had perfect timing. He walked up behind Amir and gave him a tap on the back. “Add an americano to his order please,” and he handed over his credit card to pay. “Glad you could make it Amir. How have you been?”

<Amir> didn’t startle or jump, simply looking back over his shoulder with a smirk and a nod, “hmrf, better than some, worse than others. Same old crap mostly, I was starting to wonder how you and the little lady were holding up with all the changes around the city.” He stepped to the side to allow Altaryn easier access to pay, “Thanks. Americano, eh?”

<Altaryn> smirked to Amir and answered the coffee question first. “It’s just espresso topped off with hot water so it tastes like coffee. Pretty safe bet no matter where you order it,” he says with a smile. Though Amir’s coffee would take less time to make. “We’re doing alright. Though work has me staying in Baton Rouge lately.”

<Amir> lifts an eyebrow and makes a small noise, “Huh, well ain’t that something then. Well, feel free to look me up while you’re in town then. Ain’t like I do much. Retired, you know.” He nods at Altaryn’s explanation, though he still looks dubious at the ‘fancy’ term for it, “Glad yo hear you’re doing fine though. Just keep an eye out if your taking the highway. Lot’s of bad accidents lately.”

<Altaryn> “Is that so,” he asked as his americano arrived and he motioned for Amir to join him at a table. “Well it has been an interesting week. Been having trouble sleeping. You know that haunting feeling like someone is watching you?”

<Amir> accepted his plain black coffee and followed Altaryn, “Yeah. Bunch of suicides by motor vehicle. Shifty as fuck if you ask me.” He elaborates and sits with some care for his aching joints and gives Altaryn a side eyed look, “In my experience, if ya got that feeling, you might want ya check for bugs. Someone might just be scoping you out. Not to sound paranoid, but you never know what creeps are into.”

<Altaryn> “Nah. I think it’s just too many horror flicks before bed. Makes you jumpy at the slightest thing. Like swearing you put your keys some place else, or wondering how you ripped your shirt like that without noticing.” He shrugged as if it was nothing too important. “Although I did meet a young lady who was warned her apartment might be bugged. I thought that sounded odd, but here you are with the same warning. Is that common?”

<Amir> tilted his head to the side and lifted his coffee to take a sip before he shrugged, “Sometimes, sometimes not. ‘suppose I just have seen too much. I tend to assume the worst, but it has kept me alive this long.” He leaned back and eyed the no smoking sigh with annoyance, “Not too odd. Happens enough to keep freelancers employed. Just isn’t advertised. People don’t tend to like worrying when they can pretend they are safe.”

<Altaryn> held his coffee up to Amir with a smile. “Care to give it a try before I do? I don’t mind.” He too glanced to the no smoking sign and gave a small shrug. “We can always go for a walk if you like. I can ask for two paper cups.”

<Amir> didn’t bother commenting on whether or not he’d try the coffee. He simply nodded and accepted the cup to take a ‘sip’ though it was more of a mouthful than it appeared to be. “Hmm, not bad. Still ain’t going to ask for it by that name though.” He smirks and offers the cup back, “I’ll ruin my image if I do.” Once Altaryn accepted the cup back he nodded, “There’s a pretty quite park not to far from here. It’s be good to stretch my legs anyway.”

<Altaryn> “Could ask for a long pull espresso, or does that still sound to fancy?” He shrugged and got up to ask for two paper cups that they could transfer their coffee into, which he did for the pair of them. If Amir had less coffee than he did, he just sorta accidentally gave Amir his own since he had no plans to drink it anyway. “Sounds great. Let’s go.” He would lead the way to the door so he could hold it open, but Amir knew where

the park was.

<Amir> rolled his eyes with a long suffering look at the young pup of a man, “I suppose I can ask for that. You know, when I was your age, there was just damn coffee.” He wasn’t really as surly as he sounded, but what was the good of growing old when you couldn’t bug people who looked younger than you did? If Amir noticed the coffee swap he didn’t say anything about it. Or maybe he was too distracted as he eased himself out of the chair to follow

Altaryn out the door and head towards the park. Once they were away from the doorway and other people he reached into his pocket for the crumpled pack of cigarettes and his lighter. A practiced tap with a finger produced the filtered end for him to take between his lips, “God I hope I die before they ban this all together.” He chuckled ruefully with a smirk as he lit the lighter a puffed his cigarette to life.

<Altaryn> chuckled at Amir’s complaints. “You know all they pass off as coffee here is shit when you are coming from Seattle?” It was a small tease, and he too was kinda glad he died before he had to suffer it. “They make too much money off the taxes. Won’t happen. They’ll just charge you more.” He heightened his senses then to keep himself appraised of any who might be close enough to overhear their conversations. “Those suicides you

mentioned a real thing? Shit man. Any sort of connection? That’s an odd trend don’t you think?”

<Amir> “Never been to Seattle. Met the old woman in Baton Rouge and that’s were we stayed. She loved that damn city too much to leave.” He chuckles and then nods, “Suppose it’s a good thing I don’t have kids to leave anything to. I’ll just drink and smoke it all before the damn government takes it. Bastards.” He took a long drag of his cigarette and held the smoke before sighing it out, “Yeah, they’re real and they’re connected.” He glanced towards

Altaryn as they walked, but kept facing forward, “I think a spook’s behind it. It’s something they could do.”

<Altaryn> “Hmm. If that’s so, mind if I ask someone to join us?” He pulled out his phone but didn’t turn the screen on until he had an answer. “That haunting is a bit more than I let on in public. Shredded everything I owned that could be sliced to ribbons.”

<Amir> shrugged at the phone, “Knock yourself out. As long as no one takes my coffee or my cigarettes I don’t care who you invite out.” And Amir did look like the kind of man that would punch someone for the offence, if it came to it. He lifted an eyebrow and whistled low, “Kid, you have one pissed off and powerful spook. I’d be careful about that.”

<Altaryn> turned on his phone and started poking out the text. “He was focused on a woman who was completely in the dark about such things. I tried to draw his attention to me, and I think it worked. But let’s be careful about how you contact me, eh? Just know he could be anywhere around me, Durmah, or this other woman I’ve taken to protect. I don’t suppose you know how to get rid of them for good though?”

<Amir> grimaces and shakes his head, “Damn, kid. Get rid of it for good? That’s a trick, can’t say that I know how, but I know who to ask. Much easier to deal with em on a temporary basis or trap them in something.”

<Altaryn> “Trapping works. I think I know someone who could make use of that,” he suggests as he glances back at his phone. “Ah good. He’ll be here shortly. Must be near by then.” He slips the phone back into his pocket and takes a drink of his coffee. “Ask around though. The more I can learn how to deal with him, the better.”

<Amir> nods his head and takes another drag of his cigarette, “I’ll see what I can do. At least I can tell you that you aren’t being watched at the moment and… if he’s doing too much, he’s gonna probably want to rest between. At least a little bit. It ain’t easy, what he’s been doing.” He nods, “So who you inviting out, kid?”

<Altaryn> “His name is Talwar, and I need to talk to him about my unwelcome visitor too. But if you think we have another spook problem, he’s exactly the one who needs to know.” He gave a soft sigh as he looked about. Not like he thought he would spot Talwar before he wanted to be spotted. “I’m hoping that’s true. He left quite the mess behind. You might have heard something on the news about the two people found in their apartment

with the skin of their faces removed?” Actually, he hadn’t checked the news himself. But he knew the police were involved so it was a pretty safe assumption. “He was behind that.”

<Amir> is an older man, at retirement age, that still appears to be in fairly good health despite the stiffness of his joints. He has a strong stride and a confident air to him that speaks of past authority in some regard. His peppered hair is cut short under his fedora and a trench coat conceals most of the suit he is wearing underneath it. He takes the cigarette from his mouth and taps the ash onto the street as he swore under his breath. Talwar

might recognize Amir from the Trill the night of the promethean meeting, but tonight he was very much solid and not a wraith, “Hadn’t heard about it, but that’s no surprising. You don’t go scaring people with shit like that. Though I can image someone knows about it. Your friend. This Talwar fella, he is involved somehow? The girl his relative?”

°¥Talwar¥° moved down the street, looking about casually, it seemed, as he strolled. He’d meander around a particular park not so far away from where Altaryn and Amir were, and then text someone.

<Altaryn> “Not that I’m aware of,” he admitted with a shrug. “He’s just a friend who does what needs to be done if you get my meaning. Been working with him now for a little bit. The girl… Well, we already knew about the spook. I tried to find out why he was interested in her, and when I saw how deep in she was and how powerful this guy is, I stepped in. Terrifying when stuff that shouldn’t be real is doing shit to you like this.” He

checked his phone and looked up. “Ah let’s speed up. He’s already waiting for us,” he explains as he replies with a text.

°¥Talwar¥° looked at his phone and then pocketed it smoothly and continued his walk from the park down the street. He’d light a smoke and sigh to himself as he found it absolutely ridiculous that a vampire needed to smoke at all, but addictions were stupid ass things and didn’t have to make sense. He finished off a few tugs from it and squished it out and then would head on

through the place to Altaryn and Amir, after depositing it into an ashtray.

<Amir> gave Altaryn an understanding look and then a long suffering sigh, “Kid, you want to jog or do that fast walking shit, go for it and I’ll catch up. It’s late, I’m sore, and fuck if I’m rushing anywhere. Unless he’s got worst joints than I do, he can wait the three extra minutes it will take to get there.” He’d continue to walk at his pace which was strong and even, but not rushed.

<Altaryn> pocketed his phone. “It’s fine. He might even head in our direction to meet up with us.” Sure enough, when he looked back up he spotted Talwar, or someone who looked like Talwar. Lifting a hand he gave a small wave.

<Amir> nodded, but he wouldn’t have minded if Altaryn had hurried off. He accepted that people were always in a rush these days and Amir was content to simply keep his pace and enjoy the cigarette he was nursing. When he spotted Talwar his eyes narrowed against the darkness to try and make out his features before glancing at Altaryn and then shrugging as if this were all perfectly normal, “I think I’ve seen him before.”

<Altaryn> “Quite likely…Hmm I meant to ask earlier. Why have you been avoiding the bar?”

°¥Talwar¥° inclined his head and made his way over to Altaryn and smiled slightly. “Hello, Altaryn.” He’d look over at Amir and his eyes squinted slightly, but his attention went back to Altaryn, observed anyway. “How are you tonight?”

<Altaryn> “Quite well all things considered,” he admitted. Talwar, this is Amir. A man of unusual talents who has a bit of news we might both be interested. Amir, this is Talwar that I told you about.” Altaryn still wore the jeans and a t-shirt, though with a light weight jacket to hide a pistol. He really needed a reliable means to hide a sword in public. Tonight, he was also carrying a coffee cup that had cooled past the optimal

temperature to drink.

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “I see. Hello, Amir.” * he’d extend a gloved hand to the man, as was proper.

<Amir> shrugged and took a drink of his cooling coffee, “Less question’s, Kid. Same way I’ve survived as a cop in Baton Rouge for thirty plus years.” It was an honest enough answer and he stopped talking as Amir approached, taking a drag on his cigarette as he was eyed, “The kid overstates, just a retired old man.” He says plainly and glances at the hand for a moment as if assessing it before accepting it for a firm shake despite his

arthritis. “The rest is right though. Nice to meet you, Talwar.”

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “Pleasure to meet you, Amir. I do wonder what some of your talents are.” He’d look over at Altaryn after releasing the man’s hand. “What did you require?”

<Amir> shrugs and looks at his cigarette before flicking it to the ground to crush it out, “These days? I’m damn good at being a cranky ass bastard. Could just be the drink though.” He nodded to Altaryn, “You are looking to stop some asshole spook that bothering his little lady. I can get behind that.”

<Altaryn> nods now that they have greeted each other. He understood why Amir might want to keep certain things to himself. “I have David’s attention by claiming his latest interest. Left my place shredded. I’m just glad I was staying with our friend Michael at the time and Durmah was with her friends. I need to find a way to put a stop to him,” he said bluntly. “As for Amir. He’s noticed a peculiar trend of suicides we might want to

take a look at.” He turns his attention to Amir. “I can tell Talwar almost any time. Why don’t you tell us more about your thing?”

°¥Talwar¥° “I am not surprised.” He’d look over at Amir. “Yes, I’m interested in hearing about these suicides.”

<Amir> listened to the tidbits Altaryn was sharing to Talwar as he pulled out a crumpled pack of smokes, “I don’t have anything concrete yet, haven’t followed up on the intel, but there’s been a string of vehicular suicides on the highway. Likely caused by a spook wanting to off people.”

<Altaryn> “Doesn’t sound like David’s thing, but highway driving isn’t typical for suicides. If there is some outer influence acting between the cities, it’s not a good sign.”

<Amir> shrugs, “I trust my source. Might not be related, but it is killing people so it needs to be stopped, but that’s my jurisdiction so you focus on your case, Kid.”

°¥Talwar¥° smirks slightly. “You’re a cop.”

<Amir> tilts his head to the side, “Retired. Retired cop and you’re a vampire.” He points out before lighting up his cigarette, “Glad we’re all on the same page now.”

°¥Talwar¥° “And you are someone that leaves his body behind and goes ghosting around.”

°¥Talwar¥° “-Now- we’re on the same page.”

<Altaryn> smirked as they gave out each other’s secrets. “I trust him,” he says to both, as it applied to them both. “As for the suicides, it may affect some of what we are already looking into, if not drawing back to the same source. Talwar and his friends are pretty good with dealing with such threats.”

°¥Talwar¥° affirms to Altaryn with a nod. “So what have we got on the suicides that is more clear than it is not our jurisdiction?”

<Amir> barks a laugh and shakes his head, “Fuck, you ain’t half bad, Talwar. You got it on the head. Too many times getting shot or too close to the grave, take your pick.” He nodded to Altaryn, his expression tightening again, “might be true, Altaryn, but I’ve known a few cops dealt with over the years too. So forgive me for not handing over the keys.” He takes a drag on his smoke, “Aside from that the suspect is a spook? Not much.

I’ll be looking into it and putting a stop to it. I can let you know what I find though.”

<Altaryn> “Well, what did the victims have in common?” That was a cop question right? “Knowing how the spook picks his targets will help us.” Okay so he wasn’t sure how it helped, but that was what Sascha talked Altaryn to learn with Emily.

°¥Talwar¥° smirks slightly to Amir and then nods. “Well, if you need some assistance, let us know. Sometimes these situations are connected to other things.”

<Amir> shrugs his shoulders, “still looking into the connections and motive. It’s too soon to say what they are.” He rubs the back of his neck and eyes Talwar, “uh huh. What you have in mind?”

°¥Talwar¥° “I do not know as I am still hazy on the clues. All of these incidences were on the highway. Is there anything else signature?”

<Altaryn> “So.how do we stop David? I could be tempting bait, but I haven’t left myself where he has access. I’m still regretting he was able to get his scalpel back from me. I had no idea he could take something physical like that.”

<Amir> shrugged, “I don’t know, Talwar. I’m still reading the file and going over the cases.” He smirked at Altaryn, “Oh that ain’t the half of what a powerful spook can do. Enough skill and there’s no problem taking things across the veil and affecting things on this side.” He hemmed, “cut the connections to his fetters or bind him.”

°¥Talwar¥° “David has a few beings that are bait now, it would seem.. You, Emily and Katarina. Wraiths can become ‘solid’ for a limited time, or seen by others who regularly would not, but it can be costly. The scalpal though may be a fetter, as Amir is mentioning, though.”

<Altaryn> “Fantastic. So I had what I needed and let him take it back. He was possessive of Emily. Perhaps she would trust me enough to help me call him out. David can never taste her like he would have in life, but I can.” He wasn’t sure how Amir would feel about such words but he looked to Talwar and asked, do you think it could work? He said he would sooner drain her blood into the toilet than to let me have her.”

<Amir> rubbed his chin, “Most wraiths have more than one fetter. Having only one is idiotic.” He supplies and raises an eyebrow at Altaryn and clears his throat, “You know. I’m trying not to feel like a meal here. Give an old guy a break.” He huffs, “You can call out a wraith by threatening a fetter or the connection. He might fall for it with her. You should have a way to deal with his arrival though. Unless you can manage a powerful

spook and it doesn’t sound like you know half of what they can do, Altaryn. He has the cards right now.”

°¥Talwar¥° “It might work as in it will enrage him. He’s not as focused when he’s mad but at the same time, it can make him more dangerous in other ways.”

°¥Talwar¥° “We should figure out a means of capturing him though if we are to follow through on the plan. A necromancer or thaumaturge or one of the two mages I know that deals with spirits might be a good thing to come up with some means of holding/containing the wraith.”

<Amir> nods in agreement, “Yeah, that’s the problem. Learn what you can, plan, and don’t show your hand until you’re ready.” He smirked and nodded to Talwar, “It’s an old dance.”

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “I’ve played it a few times, though I do not know the magicks myself. Perhaps someday I will get more familiar with it.

°¥Talwar¥° “I tend to be there to either lure the being, or to protect the ones doing the ritual.

<Amir> barked another laugh, “I meant being a pain in the ass without tipping your hand.” He dips tips his hat, “You think I let you fellas run rough shod over my city all these years? The old lady would have had my hide.”

°¥Talwar¥° “I’m not really sure I understand what you are indicating. “let us run over your city? Who is this old lady?”

<Amir> chuckled and shook his head, “Baton Rogue, PD. I’m not from New Orleans. Born and raised across the river. I made a habit to be just annoying enough to slow down the things that go bump on the night…. and the old lady…” He absently rubs his fingers over his wedding band, “Well… she was the light of my life. My wife, Talwar.”

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “I see. My condolences, Amir.”

<Amir> smirked ruefully, “Don’t need pitty, kid. I died the day she did. What’s left is just a stubborn old man that ain’t going to let the city she loved go to shit. Condolences I find well enough in the bottom of a bottle before I sleep.”

°¥Talwar¥° “Very well.”

<Amir> tapped a cigarette from his carton and offered it to Talwar, “You smoke?”

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “It’s a bad habit I do not seem able to shake yet.” He’d accept the cig and light it, and then offer to light Amir’s smoke for him.

<Amir> chuckled, “Stopped trying myself. Figured with all the shit going on I figured if cancer gets me, it deserves the win.” He seemed darkly amused by the notion and accepted the light, “Ain’t bad overall, makes you blend in in the cold at least.”

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “I suppose so. Most of my kind do not smoke for valid reasons.” * he smirks. “So, do you mind me asking how it is you learned of the Shadowlands and became so involved?”

<Amir> shrugged lightly, “Can’t tell you everything, just like you can’t tell me everything.” He smirked, “But some, I don’t mind. A bit before I retired I took a bad shot, nearly killed me. After that? Well wasn’t safe to be on the force since I started seeing beyond the veil and couldn’t tell what was what. Started trying to figure out what more I could do.”

°¥Talwar¥° “Fair enough.” He’d take a long drag on the necessary smoke.

°¥Talwar¥° “The vision used to be considered a curse or a blessing depending on where you were from. Nowadays it probably leads people to believe you are insane.”

<Amir> chuckled and matched the drag, “PTSD was my guess. To be honest. Tried medication and what not, counseling – you know, the normal things. The old lady was the only one who believed me.”

<Altaryn> had let himself drift into his inner thoughts. Somehow he needed to protect his vassals. Finally he spoke up to Talwar. “There is much I yet need to learn, but we have not enough ways to deal with this threat. I will see what do about expanding my ability with auspex. My mentor had mastered the discipline. Perhaps I might show a talent for it as well.”

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “Auspex can be useful for such things. I think we’re going to need to get the assistance of some who can actually capture the spirit, or at least we need some item we can use and directions.”

<Altaryn> “No doubt that isn’t something I’m going to be able to learn. Instead I will focus on keeping it distracted. I stand a better chance to weather the storm than the girls.”

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “I will be glad to assist you and have reasons enough otherwise to get involved. He got away from us by dying and giving up his flesh.”

<Amir> rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “There are a few things I can do, but trapping another spook isn’t one of them. Still, there are ways to hurt one if you know how. Dying isn’t a good escape.”

°¥Talwar¥° “I have a bit more offense against them, thanks to Ashe.”

<Amir> nods his head, “you could also talk to Niall. He’s the spook representative, remember? I can pass along a message to him next time I’m out of the meat.”

°¥Talwar¥° “That could be a good idea. As I said before, a Necromancer and/or a Mage like Ramiel or Ramirez might also be good to talk to.”

<Amir> finished his current cigarette and let the spent butt fall to the pavement to crush it out, “I’d rather not meet a necromancer, that sounds unpleasant for a fellow like me. Didn’t mind Ramirez though. Seemed like a solid enough kid.”

<Altaryn> “Last I heard, Ramirez is dealing with something at the moment and cant help. Tremere wards are down as well.”

<Amir> looked surprised, “Oh? That doesn’t sound good.” Not that he knew what a ward was, “There anyone we can talk to about those… ward things?”

°¥Talwar¥° “It doesn’t hurt to ask for assistance from others and not all necromancers are well..Giovanni.”

<Amir> let out a long breath, “Look, I count myself lucky enough to wake up in the morning at this point in my life. I don’t know what a Giovanni is and I don’t know what a necromancer is, but I’m having a hard enough time trusting you two fellas with the fact that I’m still kicking. If you want to talk to others, I’m not going to stop you and I won’t turn down your help, but I’m not assuming your friends are going to be too keen on me.”

°¥Talwar¥° “You came spying on others and say you do not trust. This is interesting.”

<Amir> shrugs, “I have a healthy respect for the ability too many people have to make my life a lot shorter. Besides, I didn’t go spying.” He nods at Altaryn, “First time I met him was in the meat, first few times I went to the bar was the same. I only showed up as a spook to see if his lil lady could actually see what I was seeing so I would know if I could help her. Not my fault you all had a party that night.”

°¥Talwar¥° “Anything that justifies your behavior so you can have a bias now apparently. You were acting very weird when I walked up to you now so it’s clear if you were not spying you’d just have said hello to me and not tried to make like I should not see your face clearly. I get your fear though, but let’s stop playing now. If any of us were after you, you’d be gone already.”

<Amir> purses his lips and narrows his eyes, “You do realize, you look like a walking corpse, right? Literally, a walking corpse. You don’t get used to something like that, but yeah, I’m scared shitless that you and your friends are going to kill me and then I’m not going to be able to keep my promise to the Missus. You are telling me that not one of you are going to keep me from that promise? Because it ain’t one I’m going to be breaking.”

°¥Talwar¥° “What is this promise?”

<Amir> sighed, but not because Talwar asked. That he didn’t mind, but the memory of it was still raw in many ways, “You gotta understand. Even with the crime and darkness in Baton Rouge, Evelyn loved that damn city. I promised her I’d look after it. Do what I can to keep it safe as long as I am able.”

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “That is noble. I suppose though for me to side with it, it depends what keeping it safe means to you. What are bad things that you would see removed?”

<Amir> “Not sure how noble it is, it’s just something I’ve always done anyways.” Amir pulls his cigarettes from his pocket again and eyes the carton, but decides against another for now, “I know it might seem odd, but i ain’t against what you fella’s need to do to survive… everyone has a right to try and live. The one’s that want to see the world burn though? Who destroy because they can? Who want to hurt women and children for kicks? Those are the

people I have a real problem with. This spook that’s killing people in their cars, there’s no reason for it.”

°¥Talwar¥° “Then we have similar focuses in enemies at least. I can stand with that.”

<Amir> seems intrigued at least, “That so? Huh. So, my original question. Can you say that you and the others like you aren’t going to do anything to stop me from being able to keep my promise?”

°¥Talwar¥° “I can speak to some others on it but I am only able to speak for myself to make such an agreement.”

<Amir> considered that and nodded his head, “I’d prefer if you didn’t speak about it then. Less people know about me, the better. At the end of the day, Talwar, I’m just as easy to put in the ground as the next guy.”

°¥Talwar¥° “At the end of the day, this is why you should try to make some friends.”

<Amir> grumps in the way the old crotchety old men tended to, “Fuck, you sound like the old woman. She always nagged me on that.” He narrows his eyes at Talwar, “-This- is my friendly. I gave you a smoke, that’s as friendly as it gets without buying you a shot at the bar.”

°¥Talwar¥° “It would be pointless to buy me a shot at the bar, unless you are thirsty.”

<Amir> smirks, “Always, but then it would be a long ass walk home.” Perhaps Amir drank too much, but he’d stopped caring about that. “And you don’t strike me as the designated driver type.”

°¥Talwar¥° “Would you like a ride or walk home to ensure your safety? I can do this for you.”

<Altaryn> “Amir. How important is it to you to protect your city,” he asks curiously out of no where.

<Amir> lifts an eyebrow and there was almost the expectancy that he’d ask Talwar if the man thought he was crazy or if he’d make it home. However, Amir instead glanced at Altaryn before shrugging. Fucking asshole had to bring up trust, but he’d give it a shot, “Sure. Not giving you my address, but you can drop me off close to where I need to be.” He paused and then turned his brown eyes on Altaryn, “It’s the last damn reason I have to live. That and

the dog.” He chuckles, “Would I kill for it? Die to do it? Yeah, if that’s want you want to know.”

<Altaryn> “Would you dedicate eternity to it, if you had the years,” he asked with calmly in quiet but curious tones.

°¥Talwar¥° nods to Amir and then looks at Altaryn and then back to Amir.

<Amir> lifted an eyebrow slowly. Eternity was a long time. A damn long time and it meant he wouldn’t see his beloved lady again. He could manage keeping his word as long as he lived while he waited to see her again, but could he give up that reward to keep her dream alive? That was a difficult question. “If you’re asking if I’ll still be kicking around as a spook when I step out of the meat for the last time? Yeah, probably. Unfinished business is a

good anchor, Altaryn. I don’t know what happens after that or how long I’ll be around, but I’m not tossing in the towel until I think the city is in a good place. So if I die, I’ll be back, God willing.”

<Altaryn> “I didn’t say anything about dying.” For a quiet moment he didn’t bother with fake breaths or conscious blinks. Not that Amir needed the reminder he was dead, but it helped make his point.

°¥Talwar¥° “The question was leading toward somewhere else.”

<Amir> was aware that Altaryn didn’t need to breathe, but that was still damn unsettling to the mortal as he watched the man just give up all pretense of being alive. For a moment he wanted to reach out and check for a damn pulse, “Can you not do that. God, man.” Amir grumped and looked at Talwar because he was at least still faking it somewhat. Hopefully. The old cop didn’t need to be given any more direction for where it was going and there was no

way he could hide confused uncertainty in his eyes, even if his face was neutral, “Ah.” He pulled out a cigarette and lit it, a habit that had long been used to calm the nerves that barely showed despite it all, “Honestly, that’s not something I can answer right now, Altaryn. One, I don’t know. It’s a serious question. Two, right now I can leave this meat to go the the shadowlands and deal with spooks that are unruly. Not many can do that and I have

a responsibility with that. I can’t jeopardize that. Three… fuck.” He nods at Talwar, “He just told me he can’t have whiskey and cigarette aren’t something he should have. There’s death and then there’s death.”

<Altaryn> shook his head no, because Amir still wasn’t quite getting what he was asking. “I wasn’t asking if you wanted to be like us,” he explained and checked his phone. “I was asking what your promise meant to you. It is important to understand the limitations of the oath you have taken. Talwar and I cannot speak for others wishing to end your promise early, but those like Talwar and myself do have the means to extend your time here.

Consider where you truly stand. I’m am curious of your answer.”

°¥Talwar¥° “I am curious how you deal with the spooks that are unruly in other circumstances. It is something I can see and always could, but it does not mean I always know what to do about it.”

<Amir> shrugged at that, “Altaryn, my promise is -everything- to me. As much as the missus was and still is. I will die to keep it, but I’m not asking for help keeping it. It is my choice to honour it. I don’t know what your offering, but you don’t need to offer anything. Just don’t strop me, ok? That’s all I’m asking. Let me do what I need to do to keep it.” It was simple to Amir. He turned his attention to Talwar and pursed his lips, “Usually, you

can get them to back off if they are just causing trouble. Other times? Well… I have a skill to affect the connections between a spook and a fetter. Even without destroying the fetter I can cut the tie and send them to a harrowing. It isn’t something spooks enjoy.”

°¥Talwar¥° “Interesting.” He nodded. “Usually I can talk to some and help them out but some like David are pretty pesky.”

<Amir> “All wraiths have shadows that plague them. By cutting the tether to their fetter then are forced to face their shadow in a harrowing. It could buy you some tie in dealing with David. If he is connected to Emily or that other woman, it would be easy to check.”

°¥Talwar¥° “Have you, by any chance, seen some cowboy roaming spectre around?”

<Amir> tilts his head to the side, “In Baton Rouge?”

°¥Talwar¥° “I have only seen it here in NOLA, but it is likely not a good thing so I thought I would do you a kindness to show my sincerity to your mission and purpose and warn you of him.”

<Altaryn> considered Amir a moment, but then nodded. “I would be greatful for any help, of course. But I also don’t wish to expose you to danger. There is a small boon I could offer to help give your mortal body an edge. It could offer some protection from my kind, but it is not without a cost. That is why I wished to know the importance of your promise.”

<Amir> nods his head and actually cracks a half smile, “I appreciate that. I’ll talk to my contacts in this city. See what they know.” Amir then looked at Altaryn, considering him for a moment, “The greatest danger for me, is people finding out I have a mortal body and it’s vulnerability when I’m not in it. Or if I am injured and can’t tend to my body. Can what you offer do anything to aid it and keep it safe when it is an empty shell?”

<Altaryn> “Of course. I can stand guard,” he states plainly. With luck, he would in time find other ways to keep himself and his vassals protected. It was a long journey he had only just begun.

°¥Talwar¥° just looked off but gave Amir a nod. “We can assist you with this. After all, there may be a time we could use your protection to watch over us while we sleep.”

<Amir> was not expecting that answer and had to pause for a moment. It was a lot to take in, “Ok, you have my interest at least. What are the details? You said there are drawbacks?”

°¥Talwar¥° “He is going the very long way of explaining what he wants to do.”

<Altaryn> glanced at Talwar with a dry look. “I won’t take on a vassal who doesn’t choose to serve.” He turns back to Amir and nods with a soft smile. “My blood can make you feel stronger. It can help you heal faster and it wil stop your body from aging. But you would feel you hungers more keenly, you would crave my blood if has been a while since the last taste, and you will feel more protective of me as if we were family.”

°¥Talwar¥° “I won’t dance around the topic of taking on one either”, he says flatly.

°¥Talwar¥° “It is a heavy choice to make, Amir. Also, I’d make sure you can still do your other abilities as the vitae may interfere with such a thing. I do not know.”

<Amir> glanced down at his phone and then up at the two men, “Either you fella’s haven’t read my service record or you think I follow orders a lot better than I do. I’m flattered you’d go out of your way, Altaryn, but I’m retired. I’d piss you off and you don’t even know the downsides of my talents.” He tucked the phone back in his pocket, “Besides, I’m doing this for the old lady. I don’t want to ever feel more attached to someone else than I do to

her.” He shrugged, “Don’t think I’m not grateful for the offer. I just… can’t compromise how I feel. If I die because of it then I know I was true to myself and the intent of my promise. No questions, no regrets. If you still want to help me without that? Yeah, I am willing to trust you with my body.”

°¥Talwar¥° “It may be something later you will want to reconsider, but I thought it should be honestly put forth to you since it was put on the table. Also, we cannot be sure what the future holds. We have some serious threats about and you seem to be getting in on at least one of those.”

<Altaryn> “Then, it is best you remain true to yourself. But if you do need to leave yourself vulnerable to investigate the matters we have discussed, let me know. I will do what I can,” he said with all respect, not seeming to take offense. Again he looks at his phone and sents off another text. “It is likely for the best. I do have a lot on my plate at the moment. I should check on Durmah. Please let me know if either of you find

something we can do to contain David. Good night to the both of you.”

°¥Talwar¥° nods. “I will talk to some people and hope at least we can get a couple of them to hop on board to go after him, since now there are 3 of us here, and Sascha will help assuredly.”

<Amir> nods, “It’s been a long time since I had someone looking out for me. Brings back some memories… and you’re right Talwar, life tends to throw curl balls when you least expect it. Who knows what will happen tomorrow.” He chuckled and shook his head. He could go to bed tonight for the last time, who knew. “I’ll let you know what I find out about the murders and if you need a hand with David, I can try to help there too.” He

offered Talwar a card with his number on it, “Give me a call if you need to.”

<Altaryn> nods to them both, then turns and heads back to where he left his car.

°¥Talwar¥° accepts the card. “Thank you. Are you ready for that drive? I need to be going.”

<Amir> nods, “Yeah, thanks, kid. Saves me the trouble of calling a friend from the city. I owe you.”

°¥Talwar¥° smirked at the ‘kid’ comment. “I am way older than you, old man.” He’d lead the guy to his vehicle and give him a ride to wherever Amir indicated and then he’d head off.

<Amir> offered another cigarette as he smirked back, “Yeah, but I -feel- older.” It was a good natured grump of a comment, “fucking immortal asshole calling me old.”

°¥Talwar¥° accepted the cigarette. “Have a good night, old man.”