Finale – Now Available!
“You made no delay, gentlemen,” puts forth Dr. Euripedes Hark, curator of the Museum Of Contemporary And Ancient Works. “Waiting by the phone, were we? Come,” he chuckles. “I have something to show you.”
He is leading Tycho Brahe and John Gabriel through the quiet halls of a museum at night, the tick tick of his shoes on the marble the only sound of their passage. Until: “Cracks like those might mean Hermitoths,” suggests Tycho, his voice a carefully calibrated admixture of dread and supreme confidence.
“I see,” says the curator.
Two sets of Ancient armor are cleverly placed at odds with one another at the midway point of the very long hall, and Tycho has an opinion on the matter. “I wouldn’t keep these two so close,” he says, making a “separate these two pieces of armor” sort of gesture with his hands. “Resonasts.”
“Hmm,” says the curator.
“No, I don’t like this at all,” says Tycho, kneeling beneath an exhibit case, gesturing at something only he can see. “I see,” says the curator. Later: “My spectre-machine is going crazy,” says Tycho, holding the business end of a stethoscope out into the open air and shaking his head gravely.
The curator nods without apparent interest, intent on reaching the end of the hall with less supernatural hard-sell. He places his hands at the small of his back and begins wandering toward it, tinkling his keyring occasionally and thinking about art. As the old man moves ahead, Gabriel pretends to appreciate a bird statue, straining his facial muscles, looking hard.
He waves over his associate, stiffly.
“How much of that stuff is true?” wonders The Brute, deep under his breath.
“Out of all the stuff I said?”
“I’ll tell you this much,” submits the scion of Brahe, adopting the direct tone that implies plain speech and honest dealings, “Everything I said was, technically, a word.”
His carnival barker routine having run its course, and the prospect of easy money having vanished, Tycho Brahe begins executing his exit strategy. “Mr. Hark, we’re overjoyed to be considered for your no doubt incredibly unique and interesting problem,” he says, smirking at what once passed for treasure in mortal societies.
“It’s an honor just to be nominated,” suggests Gabriel. “Even so,” continues The Scholar, “People taking items from a museum - at least, a museum like this - doesn’t usually intersect with the sort of business we are, strictly speaking, in.” Bracing himself between the double doors, Euripedes Hark throws them wide. Within, madness reigns. Devoted to the unbroken chain of human ingenuity in expressive endeavor, the wing is now a menagerie of living exhibits and sundered priceless works. Packs of primitive Hominids are burning one-of-a-kind artifacts for warmth. A pterodactyl - at least, a living model of one, which, you know, whatever - has taken up a kingly perch atop a snapping and anguished Tyrannosaur skull.
At the far wall, in a blank alcove where a portrait should be, stands the stark image of a white skull.
“Oh yes, Mr. Brahe,” pronounces Hark as he wades into the bedlam, the words accompanied by a series of small, almost imperceptible nods. “I know precisely what sort of business you are in.”