1965-09-22 - The Case of the Curious Coins, 1955
Summary: In 1955, a set of vases bearing hundreds of coins from the Umayyad period are brought to Switzerland for cleaning and display. And Ambrose is very interested in them…
Related: None
Theme Song: None
ambrose halgrim 


.~{:--------------:}~.

It's 1955, and the Rietberg Museum of Switzerland is barely three years old. It's the only museum in Switzerland which focuses on non-European art, thus the only one which Anna-Lise Camenzind, a Swiss archaeologist with a focus on Near and Middle Eastern ancient history, can reasonably expect to work at. She's something of a name in the Zurich art community for her staunch support of the fledgling museum's founding and assembly of the initial collections in African, Asian, Near Eastern, and Middle Eastern Art. Rumor has it she'll be the next curator; a fine accomplishment after two decades of work in the Kingdom of Iraq, Turkey, and the Kingdom of Jordan.

Of particular interest over the last two months has been the stunning find of several ornate vases filled with hundreds of gold dinars, something Anna-Lise and a team of post docs and graduate students found when going over a site near Kufa, in Iraq. Some of the coins and their containers are in rough shape, though many are in fantastic condition. The Rietberg is entirely willing to consider the coins (and the lovely vases they were found in) art for these purposes, and has loaned out a preparation room for Anna-Lise and a young Iraqi post doc. Though it's not their area of expertise, two colleagues (who've been working at the Swiss National Museum) have agreed to help with the cleaning and cataloging of the coins for a chance to have a look at them before the museum sets them behind alarms and glass. Graduate students and post docs come and go, sent by their mentors and advisors to have a look at the coins and help out; it's something the small team of four has gotten used to.


No doubt the find made all the papers within Switzerland itself! How rare, the quality and countenance of the coins found, and much laud to those who uncovered them to so carefully bring them here, to the Rietberg, for preservation and notation.

Thank god for the curse's one of few blessings in preserving Ambrose's youthful looks as well. A decade has passed since Munich and the findings of the last world war and he hasn't aged but for an inkling. It makes it terribly easy to dress in the appropriate guise of the post doc and even easier yet because he can speak on the level necessary to allow entrance even before a Suggestion to allow him further access is necessary. He's gentler with the mesmeric touch, having gained a facet of empathy and realization that he doesn't need to slam someone over the head with it, in theory. Gentle is as gentle does.

Thus, he appears at the door of the preparation room and lingers, equal parts wisely hesitant and quickly rifling through information as to prepare his alibi. Just why is he here? Well, let him tell you…


Currently the preparation room has just Anna-Lise, her post doc Ishmael, and her two colleagues, Rolf and Halgrim. Ishmael is willowy and handsome, with a long face and hawkish nose, and a head of black curls; Rolf is stocky, with brilliant auburn hair and gold brown eyes in a craggy face, and though he's not particularly short he certainly seems so any time he stands near Ishmael or Halgrim. Anna-Lise is short and full, with heavy blonde hair and gray eyes in a round face. Halgrim has changed significantly since Ambrose last saw him, and could easily go unrecognized: his beard alters the shape of his face significantly, softening its severity, and the lean, whipcord shape of his youth has given way to adult strength and weight.

Halgrim and Rolf are dressed like they expect to be tossed back out into the field at any minute, in boots and jeans and flannel shirts, while Ishmael and Anna-Lise have adopted a style more appropriate to 'museum academics', in just-above-casual outfits of muted colors. They're all hard at work: Rolf is cleaning the more damaged coins using dry methods, Halgrim is going over wet cleaning techniques for the better preserved coins with Ishmael, and Anna-Lise is making notations about each coin as they finish it. There's a small corner of a table set up for rubbings of the better-preserved coins, though no one has been at that yet, apparently. The vases also wait to be worked on, arranged on a separate table, alone.

A few seconds after Ambrose arrives Anna-Lise glances up from her work and says, "Hello," and smiles; she's speaking Standard German, but the Swiss German accent is apparent. Her tone invites an introduction, and her expression is wholly welcoming. Halgrim and Ishmael glance at Ambrose but otherwise keep working (Halgrim is quietly demonstrating the light touch needed when working on the coins). Rolf ignores him entirely.


In the few seconds before he's officially noticed, Ambrose marks the various artifacts throughout the room: those on the tables, those in-hand, and those not guarded by immediate presence. Then comes Anna-Lise's soft hailing and he returns the smile, if in a lower wattage and with a show of uncertainty.

"Hello," he replies in Standard German as well. "I hope I'm in the right place? Professor Wagner suggested that I drop by and see the rarities. The coins, I mean," he says, assaying a step into the room. He glances over to the post doc and the Colleagues and takes their quick measure before looking back to Anna-Lise. "Fitzroy," he adds by way of identifying himself, keeping his hands in the pockets of his light jacket.


The moment Ambrose says the name 'Wagner' there are Reactions. Rolf outright snorts; Halgrim mmms, low and full of meaning; Ishmael blanches visibly; Anna-Lise raises her eyebrows.

Rolf pauses, coin in one hand and fine bristle brush in the other, and half-turns on his stool so he's facing Ambrose. "Really, that old bastard?" He has a country German accent, with none of the city dialects in it.

Ishmael's eyes widen. Halgrim sighs and whispers, "Rolf…" under his breath. Rolf goes on as if he hasn't heard either of them, giving Ambrose a once over. "Well, you're still standing," he turns back to his work, "so you can't be a push over."

Anna-Lise's smile turns wry. "Pay no mind to Professor Dallenbach, he and Professor Wagner have a…" She gestures eloquently, "History, let's say."

Halgrim mutters something under his breath in Swedish which makes Ishmael cough in an effort to hide a laugh. Rolf looks up over the edge of his magnifying glasses and frowns thunderously at Halgrim; Anna-Lise gives the three of them a long-suffering if fond look and gestures for Ambrose to come in. "Come then. We are always in need of more hands. This is quite the project, and most of my students were done with their time when the dig finished. I've been getting help where I can, the museum can only afford so much. What were you working on with Julian?"


Ambrose's dark eyebrows remain high as he shifts attention between each person in the room. It's like a tennis match, nearly. Good lord, the reactions are nearly enough to test his ability to not laugh outright; and here he'd just picked a name out of his back pocket, one common enough over the years in the realm of storied professors.

"A dissertation on missing items after the recovery efforts lead by the Allies in World War Two. It seems…for all their efforts in attempting to catalogue and return that which the Axis took from the less fortunate, some items are still vanished entirely," he explains as to what imaginary task he's worked on over the last few years — all the while, again, attempting not to laugh. It's difficult to avoid losing the gravity he wears as an air as he walks over to Anna-Lise, but he suceeds well enough. No slip of a snort at the irony. "Dallenbach then. And…?" He looks to Ishmael and Halgrim both, lingering on the latter for longer than normal polite interactions usually allows. Hmm. He's not certain, but…there's familiarity in that one.


Anna-Lise's eyes widen this time, in anticipation of what she knows is coming, and Rolf doesn't let her down; he scoffs, loudly. "Oh, of course! Not enough he was a thorn in our sides for three f—" Anna-Lise has turned a warning glare on Rolf, and he cuts himself off with a sour expression. "Anyways. If you want *useful* information about that, talk to Halgrim and I," he nods at Halgrim, "we were *there*, and did plenty of that work *ourselves*." Rolf seems like he might go on in this vein, but Halgrim is giving him a tired look, so Rolf huffs and goes back to his cleaning, pausing only to add, "Just Rolf, is fine," before he's back to removing what corrosion he can.

Now that Ambrose has spoken a bit more, Ishmael is watching him with something like excitement, or hope. He simply introduces himself, saying, "Ishmael, ah, Qureshi." His accent in Standard German is light enough that he's clearly been putting effort into masking it; hardly a surprise, given where he's from.

Halgrim nods at Ambrose, saying, "Lindqvist, Halgrim if you prefer." His German accent has traces of Swedish in it, and is far more metropolitan than the others; he was around plenty of native speakers in a major city for some time, from the sound of it. He tilts his head, considering Ambrose thoughtfully, like he recognizes him but can't place him. Presently he says, "As Rolf said, we spent a fair amount of time during our graduate studies helping with the MFAA. So, if you need anything…" He gives Rolf a sideways glance. "Though it's probably best discussed over beer."


|ROLL| Rosemarie +rolls 1d10 for: 4


Thank god for all the years of practice in silver tongue and composing oneself in public. Ambrose really does zero in on Halgrim momentarily, the microtells of his expression marking recognition — bloody hell. It's — with the red manila folder and —

He's quick to school his expression to the best neutrality he can manage once he sees Halgrim tilt his head. Perhaps the sleek of hair-oil to keep the worst of his nape-length hair from his face will provide him true anonymity.

"You've had all the luck then, both of you," he says diplomatically, nodding to Rolf and Halgrim. "I'll have to see if I missed any fine details. I'm more than happy to foot the tab for such a discussion." All the better to figure out what they know of aforementioned missing items, actually. Ishmael is given a broader grin. "Of course you're invited, Qureshi." He pronounces the name easily and therein slips the touch of the Fertile Crescent in turn, unavoidable in a way. "And you as well," he includes Anna-Lise, dimpling at her in the most charming manner he can manage. After all, she's likely the one he needs to catch alone in order to pocket a few of the coins. Just a few…not all.


|ROLL| Halgrim +rolls 1d100 for: 78


There's no recognition on Halgrim's face to speak of, or at least, not for Ambrose himself. Then comes the offer of buying beer, which is much more interesting than whether or not Ambrose had an older brother or cousin in the military during the War.

"Oh, now you've done it," Anna-Lise says, and gestures for Ambrose to join her at the vases. Sure enough, Rolf and Halgrim are nodding at one another in agreement and satisfcation; beer for tales of their follies in the MFAA, a proper trade. "Those two could drink every pub in Zurich dry," she murmurs, "and have room for Berlin, so I hope you're well funded. But I appreciate the offer." She turns her attention to the containers. They're all far too elegant to have been intended for storing coins, with intricate, raised designs and brilliant glazes of turqoise blue and verdant green. The largest vessel is in pieces, waiting to be re-assembled; the other three are intact, though one is missing half of its long neck. "If you've been researching the MFAA, then I assume you have a very broad overview of artifacts, yes? Or is there a specific niche you're familiar with? I know Julian's work is primarily in Morocco and Tunisia, though he's done research in Turkey as well."

Ishmael gives Halgrim a Significant Look, and Halgrim raises his chin at Anna-Lise in permission to leave off the coin cleaning and go listen to her discuss the vases with Ambrose.


His steps are notably quiet as Ambrose joins Anna-Lise at the vases. His eyes wander and a winsome bubble of sadness briefly bursts in his mind (and mildly in his expression) at the one sporting only half of its neck. A shame, that — he knows better than to blame those present. No one here would have willingly mishandled such beautiful rarities.

"It is no matter for me to foot any tab that they ring up," he informs Anna-Lise sotto-voce. "I'm in good company. There's no real cost to that." A half-smirk and then a short sigh. "I'm most interested in the artifacts and history of the third millenium B.C., if I must pick a specific era within the development of the cultures of the Middle East. It seems, from what I've uncovered over the years, that a conjoining occurred. Sumerian became nearly symbiotic beside Akkadian and the cultures flourished," the brunet explains, glancing over as he sees Ishamel on the approach. The young man receives another mild smile before he looks back to the vases before him. "But ah, Sumerian…a language of such…intricacy." He trapsies through the word delicately.


Rolf and Halgrim have gone back to their work. Anna-Lise confides to Ambrose, "That's quite generous of you. You can't ask for better drinking company than those two. Though careful they don't pick your brain in turn; they're never content to do all the talking." She waves Ishmael over to join them; he stays quiet, but is clearly excited. Anna-Lise listens to Ambrose's interests with intense focus, smiles in agreement. "Ah, it is indeed. And you know —" She gestures at Ishmael, who says, "I did work on the cuneiform tablets found at the Alalakh site." He looks like he's *dying* to talk to Ambrose, but demures so that Anna-Lise can describe the vases.

"These were clearly not meant for storage," she gestures at the glazes and designs, which even under the dirt still clinging to them are lovely to behold, "so we suspect this was someone's secret cache, or emergency stockpile — maybe something hidden in response to an event." She sighs, pointing at the shattered vessel. "One of the walls of the building we found this in had given way, some years ago to judge by the sand and rock buildup, which is how this one came to be broken." She points at the vase missing part of its neck. "This one, we think the damage is more recent—" Ishmael looks at it forlornly, an expression Anna-Lise shares, "by looters come to steal items from the site. The coins from the broken pot were buried, so they likely didn't see them, but it's not clear why they didn't check these or try to take them."


Ambrose perks at the name of the site and gives Ishmael a significantly-interested look. Alalakh. Still, he notes that the graduate student would rather have Anna-Lise explain, and so he listens. He nods, eyes wandering from each vessel to the next and frowns deeply in unison with the others at the proposition of looters.

"Sometimes…I believe it's sheer stupid luck," he opines, lifting a hand and then dropping it back into his pocket. "Artifacts remain untouched because someone didn't spot a glint in the sunlight due to shade — or a misstep uncovers them because they were dancing about to avoid a scorpion's sting. We're all the luckier indeed for these having been looked over. These are…gems," he breathes, " — without being literal jewels. The coins, I…I can hardly believe it myself." He looks between Ishmael and Anna-Lise, truthfully enamored as such with the treasures before them all. "But you, Qureshi, must tell me more about your work at Alalakh over beers." Oh yes, a broad grin there for Ishmael. Someone's made a new friend, honestly to a great extent.


Ishmael grins. "No beer for me, but, for you, yes," he says, clearly excited by the prospect.

Anna-Lise nods at Ambrose, and says, "Yes—in fact this site was only found because a horse tripped on a section of the tallest wall which had been exposed by a sand storm." She indicates a large set of drawers along one wall. "There's equipment for cleaning in there, as well as cameras and film. Please do photograph everything thoroughly; it's invaluable for the students. If you'd prefer to focus on cleaning and assembling the shattered vessel, we have support meshes in the bottom drawer, as well as some fill." And with that, she leaves them to it; Rolf and Halgrim have already supplied her with four more coins to document, and she settles back in her seat to do so.

Once Anna-Lise has stepped away, Ishmael says, "Ah, apologies, I couldn't help but hear, your accent — do you speak Arabic? Or, Persian?" He sounds hopeful, and who can blame him; how long has it been since he's had a chance to use either language? Too long, for certain.


"Thank you, but I'll leave the vase for someone with steadier hands than myself." He's got incredibly steady hands, who is Ambrose kidding? But it's a matter of keeping out of the spotlight here — acting as just another forgettable person in the scurry of preservation. He turns to Ishmael once they've got the immediate space to themselves and smiles yet again. He shifts from German and into a tongue rarely heard this far north.

"If English hadn't been my birth-tongue, Persian would have stood in its place." He speaks the language fluently, if not with a touch of archaic grammar here and there, as if it were influenced perhaps by his work. "I called Baghdad home for some time before…ah, life happened." He doesn't seem too bothered to cut the thought short. It's a thing of privacy, after all. "But now I'm here, amongst such excellent colleagues, and in the presence of someone who knows precisely the beauty of cuneiform. A joy, that." Ambrose has dimples when he smiles hard enough, apparently!


"Ah, I knew it," Ishmael says, almost bouncing to hear Ambrose speak Persian. "It's been so long since I've heard Persian from anyone but myself. My mother, her family are Persian, and my father's are from Baqubah." Being part Persian and from Iraq, of course, implies many things which Ishmael doesn't bruden Ambrose with for the moment. Rolf and Halgrim each look up from their work for a moment to watch the two converse, then go back to what they're doing; Halgrim smiles as he does so.

Ishmael continues, growing calmer as he speaks to a peer in one of his own languages. "Sumerian is amazing to discover and learn, the tablets at Alalakh were incredible to work with. I wasn't breaking new ground, or course; they'd found them years before, but I like to think I provided cultural insight." He pulls a face. "I'm not one for the digs, myself," he admits; his tone is one of embarrassment, and he cuts a glance at Halgrim, who isn't paying attention since he can't understand them, "but I love to work on the artifacts, learn what we've forgotten, and to teach it." His eyes scan the vases. "I hope these next few months work will be enough to keep me out of the field, and in recording and teaching." He looks at Ambrose once more. "Would you prefer to clean and photograph the other vases? I can assemble the broken one, if you'd rather not. I did quite a bit of pottery re-assembly as a graduate student."


There's a subtle quarter-step back on Ambrose's part for the amount of excitement he receives in return, but he holds once he realizes that Ishmael isn't about to reach out and touch him. He nods at the explanation, adding quietly between thoughts,

"Yes, I know where Baqubah is." He then considers the vases spread out over the table, once the younger man is finished speaking. "I think you should work at the one with half a neck, yes. I am not one for restoration. Cataloguing and notations? Yes, entirely more so. I'm not one for field work myself," he then adds, looking about for the infamous white gloves of the archival nature. "I prefer to work with them in the confines of a controlled space. That being said, I don't mind field work. If scrabbling through forgotten places or risking the ire of others is what it takes? Then…" His shoulders rise and fall and he gives Ishmael a half-smile. "So be it."


"I'm jealous," Ishmael admits. "I can barely sleep on the bed rolls, the food makes me ill, and the insects…" He sighs, shakes his head. "I think most of the others will be disappointed when I choose to only teach."

He leads Ambrose over to the supply drawers, and pulls out some gloves from the top-most drawer; next to that are notebooks, pens and pencils, and photography markers. "The next drawer down is the cameras and film," he says, touching it briefly. He kneels down to pull out a box of support mesh, and somehow manages to juggle that along with the gloves, a camera, and film back to the table.


"Nonsense. There needs to be those who teach as well as those who gather," opines Ambrose as he follows sedately to the supply drawers. He gathers up the necessary items and works his way back over to the vases, setting the camera and film aside. Ah, old friends, how he knows you well. If it weren't for his odd quest of fifty-odd years, he might consider working towards earning the post of curator himself. He slips on the white gloves, wiggles fingers, and then carefully begins to turn one of the intact vases.

"They will be lucky to have you, Qureshi. As you said before, you have insight that few of us have. Do not let them cause you to stumble. The next generation must better understand the need to preserve the lost past — to not treat it with irreverence." His voice has dropped into a thoughtfully low register, on the beginnings into a murmur as he squints at the vessel.

The coins would be easier to lift, the Jackal thinks to himself, risking a side-glance towards Rolf and Halgrim at their work. Easier to return. The vases…risky.


"Thank you, that's…refreshing to hear," Ishmael says, genuinely grateful. "There's so much focus on making a novel discovery in the field rather than working with the knowledge itself, I fear we'll lose more in our rush to dig it all up." Seeing Ambrose begin to focus on the other vases, Ishmael falls quiet, now intent on his own work with the broken-necked vase. He pulls on his gloves and starts with his initial notes, sketching and parts of the pattern and making notes on where it ends at the broken edges so he can match it up against the few small pieces they've found. It won't be a complete reconstruction, but they can fill in part of it, and support the rest with a mesh.

At the other tables, Rolf and Halgrim are conferring over a coin Rolf has been working on, discussing the best way to deal with a particularly ugly bit of corrosion without further damaging the metal, and Anna-Lise is photographing a set of the coins. The finishes pieces have been places on a final table, arranged with the longer, 'front' legend face-up, grouped by their type, for indeed among this huge collection there seems to be coins with different governors and legend texts. Who knows how many years will be represented once the entire set is catalogued.


"One day, the world might learn to not be in such a huge hurry. For now, we do what we can…and you're quite welcome," Ambrose replies with a quick glance over at the young man. He's sincere in his accolades, at least. Then he drops back to focused silence.

There's a zen to be indulged within when it comes to cataloguing items. One can almost hear the brains at work, branches of nerves firing away alongside the scritch of pen on paper and shutter-click and whirr of film in action. Ambrose works diligently, inclined this time to allow his notations to be kept by the staff present than to squirrel it away like he did before those many years ago. It'll be the paperwork on the coins he might lift if that can be managed. He dedicates part of the notebook paper to a sketch of the vase before him in the clear light of the room. The sketch isn't half-bad, he allows himself as he finishes making a side-notation about the condition of the glaze on this particular vessel.


Apart from low-voiced discussions between Anna-Lise, Halgrim, and Rolf over the coins, most of which concern the best way to treat the metals and which pieces are only found among the more heavily damaged set from the broken vase, they all work in quiet efficiency. No one else drops by to interrupt; it's just the five of them and the coin and vase collection. Anna-Lise's notes on the coins are kept in a neat notebook which is numbered, dated, and labeled with the dig site they came from. One can easily imagine an entire collection of these in her office.

Ishmael is some time in reconstructing the vase neck, but he manages to find places for all of the shards, leaving one large, horizontal gap. This section he fills with mesh, then sets to taking photographs of the final product.

Halgrim takes a break from squinting at tiny letters to come over and look at the work on the vases. In between photos Ishmael gestures at the vase and his notes, speaking to Halgrim in Swedish, and Halgrim nods, asking a few questions, which gets him more detailed replies. Halgrim says something that makes Ishmael smile, pats him on the back, and goes back to his table, stretching. "Dinner soon, eh?" he says, now in German. "Or did you plan to make us work through the night, Anna?"


Ambrose's reverie in wondering about the reasonings of the vase's creation — he can guess at some things through sheer decades spent haring after the rare antiques alone — is broken when Halgrim walks nearby. He glances up from his notations and then back down at them. The notebook is picked up rather than left flat and open upon the table, on the off-chance that his handwriting might be noticed. There was something about the handwriting all those years back, wasn't there…? Or is his memory mis-serving him?

Still, Halgrim has a good point. The brunet pauses in writing and looks to the matron of the preservation room, she who apparently decides when the back-aching task of hunching over artifacts is finished for the night.

"If I may… Despite having arrived much later than the rest of you at my task, I wouldn't complain as to a beer or two alongside dinner. If anyone knows of a place to get a quality stout on tap, I'll be right behind," he says in German to the room as a whole. "I said that I would foot the bill, after all, did I not?" The reminder might serve as goad, after all.


Anna-Lise glances up at the clock and sighs. "Well…I suppose if we go eat now then you'll all go to bed at a reasonable hour and so be in bright and early, hm?" She looks directly at Halgrim and Rolf as she says this; Halgrim has the grace to look mildly embarrassed by this censure, but Rolf raises his chin in defiance. Ambrose's comment about stouts draws Rolf's attention.

"A stout?" he says, scratching his chin. "Hmmm…maybe that little place over on Gartenstrasse? Their selection's better than most, and they have decent food. And," he gestures at Ishmael, "plenty for Ishmael to drink too.

Ishmael, who's just finished with his vase's photographs, closes up his notebook. "Yes, the bartender there, he doesn't mind mixing me something without alcohol." Unlike many of the others, which Ishmael doesn't say. It helps, though, to have the three of them flanking him when he eats somewhere."

Anna-Lise nods, liking this suggestion, as does Halgrim. He raises a hand, clarifying, "You should only pay for the drinks, though, not dinner." His eyebrows go up. "You're a post doc, Fitzroy, the least we can do is buy *your* dinner." Rolf makes a low sound of agreement, mutters something about being gainfully employed.

"We sound decided," Anna-Lise says, and sets her notebook aside. Rolf and Halgrim set to securing the coins they have yet to clean in the boxes holding them, which in turn go into a locked storage drawer; in the next drawer below that one go the finished coins, which Anna-Lise and Ishmael carefully transfer into place. It only takes a few minutes to close everything up, and Anna-Lise tucks the keys into her purse, then waves at the door. "Gentlemen," she says.


Ambrose is degloving as Halgrim speaks to him in particular. He smirks and once he's certain that the gloves are set aside for future use, the notebook is shut, and the pen is tucked within the spiral binding, he glances over.

"I'm still footing the drink bill then," he insists quietly, then looking to Rolf and grinning. Anna-Lise is the shepherd in the flock of conservational madness and once they're all squared away, the Jackal is the first to depart from the room. He marked the drawers where the coins were stored away as well as the disappearance of the keys into the woman's purse …eh, easy enough to lift if he gets the chance.

"You said Gartenstrasse? I've never been there before," he says to Rolf once everyone's filtered into the hallway, though he addresses the group as a whole in the process for anyone to chime in with thoughts. "Lead on."


At Ambrose's insistance he pay the drink bill, Anna-Lise sighs quietly, maybe thinking of the damage which could be done to Ambrose's wallet. She makes no attempt to talk him out of this plan, though, possibly thinking it's best he learn the hard way so he remembers for the future.

Rolf and Halgrim lead the way by turns, because the two of them and Anna-Lise are discussing post-war politics in their field at first (and how it's effected the ability to do work outside of Europe). Halgrim is wholly unconcerned over this as he has no focus beyond Northern Europe, but Rolfwho from the sound of it has a more technical focus, something in geologyis quite annoyed by political obstructions, and Anna-Lise has of course found access to a variety of sites become far more difficult over time. It's a cool late summer night, not quite chilly enough for jackets and coats; comfortable, with the promise of fall just around the corner.

Ishmael is content to walk with Ambrose, making small talk in Persian; it's also nice to be able to discuss the argument without anyone knowing what you're saying. "Rolf and Anna-Lise want Halgrim to be upset as they are," he confides, his voice low, "but his work is only in Northern Europe, so he doesn't think it's a problem if other countries want to keep their sites to themselves. They've been trying to get him on their side in this for the last week."


Ambrose tilts his head slightly to listen to Ishmael, still watching the back-and-forth between the colleagues. He keeps an easy pace beside the other man, meandering slightly as a duckling might behind the shifting leaders on their journey to dinner.

"Nothing like a sympathetic ear and some passion behind it in turn," he murmurs back in the same tongue. "I think they know him well enough that if he attempted to placate them by agreeing, they might be all the more offended for it." His chuckle is soft, light. "She warned me, however, that I might regret paying for drinks. Are they sincerely as she implies? About the volume in which they drink? I might actually be impressed for once." Uh oh. That might be an implication that the Jackal can hold his own at a bar table as well.


The attempt to convince Halgrim to be frustrated about the effects of international politics on archaeology has meandered onto a new topic, which is where Halgrim and Rolf plan to get themselves permanent positions. Halgrim is disinclined to settle in yet, from the sound of it, while Rolf would like to but it particular about what he wants. Anna-Lise is plainly attempting to recruit both of them for the Swiss National Museum, and not even trying to be coy about it; Rolf seems interested, Halgrim is on the fence. Swiss archaeology is further south than his focus.

"Oh," Ishmael says, eyes wide, "Sometimes I think they were born to drink." Of course, as someone who doesn't drink, it might seem so even if they can't really. "Rolf only likes beer that I've seen. Halgrim, he'll try anything. But they never go further than they can handle. They're," he thinks of how to put it, "responsibly drunk." He smiles. "So if you can keep up with them I'll be in for quite a show."

A handful of blocks through the mildly bustling streets of evening Zurich, and they arrive at a small pub and restaurant tucked away in the corner of a small, block-long plaza paved in brick. The pub has a dark wood facade which would make it easy to miss, but it's still busy inside; a spot for locals, to be sure. Anna-Lise speaks to a waitress and gets them seated quite promptly despite the crowd. "Anna can always get a table somewhere," Ishmael says, clearly wondering how she does it.


Ambrose grins, glancing over at Ishmael as they approach the place. "I can't imagine trying everything. I've…I'm admittedly a stout man through and through rather than mixed liquors, though once I tried a…what was it. Dark and Stormy? No, that's rum," he corrects himself in a mumble, a wrinkle over his nose as he tries to remember. "Ah, no, it was a Singapore Sling. Gin, cherry brandy, some citrus liquor, and pineapple juice. There might have been a lime floating about the ice cubes? Rotten stuff." And he affects a shudder. "If they order anything as such, I will be the sober one alongside yourself."

Indeed, it's almost magical how quickly Anna-Lise manages to get them a table and Ambrose is certain to seat himself out of immediate touching distance of anyone; not even close enough to bump elbows with a seat-mate or passing server. He scans the interior of the restaurant out of old habit, the motion almost militaristic in a manner. Where are the exits? Is anyone overly-curious about their arrival? Were he any more concerned by air or expression, he might seem paranoid. This is curiosity…mostly.

"So." He addresses the table as a whole in his lightly-accented German, smiling faintly as he looks from face to face. "Tell me of the best drink to order here. I defer to the locals, and please, no mixed liquors," he amends, lifting up a hand to forestall any suggestion of that nature.


It's a quaint place, full of conversations in Swiss and Standard German, with pockets of French and Italian here and there. The noise isn't so much that one must shout to be heard; a sign, perhaps, that the war's effect on people lingers even ten years later. The bar is packed, as is every table and booth save the table they're escorted to, which the waitress has to wipe off before she can seat them. It's an old, thick, scarred oak table in a dark finish, and the chairs are similarly ugly yet solid and reliable, and entirely comfortable. No one seems to notice Ambrose's attempt to remain separate, or if they do they make no comment. Halgrim and Rolf sit next to each other like it's the most natural thing in the world, with Ishmael opposite Halgrim and Anna-Lise opposite Rolf; this gives Ambrose the end of the table with Rolf and Anna-Lise to himself.

"No boilermakers, then," Rolf says to Halgrim, looking quite smug, and Halgrim rolls his eyes.

"Just because *you* don't care for them," he mutters. Anna-Lise thinks over Ambrose's question, bites her lip.

"There's a Belgian stout they have, sometimes, which I quite like. The local one they carry I'm not so found of. They also have Guinness, or, had it last week—not sure if they still do," she turns to squint at the bar. "And of course, some of the usual lagers, most of those will be local."

Halgrim asks Rolf, "A black and tan, does that count as mixed?" with a raised brow.

Rolf wiggles his hand. "Eh…"


Ambrose's eyes travel to each speaker and he nods here and there, the mild squint of his eyes betraying consideration. Anna-Lise's thoughts have weight and he sits back in his chair, arms lightly folded at Halgrim's question — because it is a good one, after all.

"I'll allow that particular mixed drink," he says, "Consider the contents, after all. But…I think you're on to something, good doctor," and he grins at Anna-Lise in particular, a hint more charming than they've seen thus far. "I wouldn't say no to Guinness. I do have a bias." He makes gentle fun of his British nature in this.


Halgrim gives Rolf a smug look. Rolf grunts. "You're just going to get an IPA anyways, aren't you," Halgrim says, a little testily, and Rolf shrugs. "I can't help what I like." He also peers past the crowd at the bar to eye the chalkboard of the days offerings. "There's a nice Bavarian, I'll probably get that, though," he glances at Ambrose, "if stout's your drink you won't like that. The Guinness is a better choice, the local stout is," he makes a face, shakes his head. He gestures at Halgrim. "And ignore him, he'll drink whatever's in front of him."

Halgrim defends himself, saying, "That's not true," and seems to be trying to name something he doesn't like to drink and coming up short. After a moment he shrugs. "I'm sure there's something," he assures Ambrose. "But I'll be having a black and tan."

The waitress swings by for their orders; Anna-Lise gets a lager, Rolf the Bavarian IPA he mentioned, Halgrim a Black and Tan, and Ishmael a non-alcoholic cocktail of almond bitters, lime, and ginger ale. "And you, sir?" she asks, her Standard German heavily Swiss accented.


"A Guinness, please, a mug. At least 25 ounces, whatever size designation that may be," replies Ambrose to the waitress, giving her a winning smile. Like as not, one of many she's seen today. "Thank you."

Once the waitress has moved on, he turns his attention back to the table. "I also hereby declare that we must be well and firmly drunk before any talk of work becomes of interest. We are far too sober for such a thing. I don't want to hear anything more of it." How quaint; it seems he's designated himself Lord of the Table, whether the others would have it or not. At least he grins, taking any insult from his suggestion.


The waitress blushes in response to Ambrose's smile and ducks her head to hide it while she scribbles down the order and hastens back to the bar. Now that they've been seated for some minutes, there seems to be no sign anyone has noted their arrival; occasionally someone might glance at Ishmael, but it's difficult to hear if they say anything about him to their neighbors. Otherwise, the general air of the pub is amiable and calm. There's one other exist, just to one side of the bar, which is also where the restrooms are (or so claims a sign); it probably leads to an alley exiting the plaza.

Anna-Lise gives Halgrim and Rolf each a light kick under the table, which earns her consternated glares.

"Hear that, you two? No talk of work," she says, raising her chin at Ambrose in queenly approval. Ishmael laughs, Halgrim and Rolf exchange offended looks.

"Really, when did post docs become so high and mighty," Rolf grumbles. Halgrim leans back in his chair, looking too sly for anyone's good.

"Well if there's to be no talk of work until we're drunk, then, I suppose while we're sober you must tell us about yourself," he says, and rasies his eyebrows at Ambrose. "Fitzroy, that's…Norman, I think?"

Rolf frowns. "Not Irish?"


"Norman enough," Ambrose replies, leaning back in his chair with comfortable-enough presence, his arms lightly folded. "'Illegitimate son of the king', I believe. My parents did have a sense of humor." And did they, but he's not about to expand on that. "I'm originally from London, all those years ago, and as Ishmael can attest," he nods to the man in question, "I spent enough time overseas to pick up the local tongues of the Middle East. My scholarly interest stems from…exposure to such fascinations in ancient civilizations at a young age." Relatively speaking, considering he's now going on nearly seventy-five in true years, looking as the same day as he was cursed. "I…like the color black, a strong drink on occassion, the wind in my hair, and a long walk on the beach at sunset," he quips drily, flashing teeth in a cheeky grin.


Rolf scoffs and Halgrim nudges him. "Historian," Rolf mutters, elbowing Halgrim back. They all listen to Ambrose's desription of himself with interest. The waitress comes back with their drinks just after he's finished, and once they're passed around, Ishmael takes a sip of his and asks, "And what decided you on this work, and not something else?" His glass stands out on the table, the only thing clearly not a beer, and there's the sense that one or two other patrons have taken notice.


"Why did I choose my work? We're not nearly drunk enough for that," he says by way of reprimand, his tone light and politely playful nonetheless as to not scare off the most proper of the table's occupants. "I'll humor you." He waves a hand before taking several large gulps of the deep and dark Guinness. The motions have the feeling of long practice. Apparently, this line of discussion definitely requires a heavy drink.

Licking pale froth from his lips, he then continues. "Curiosity. Maybe…a misplaced sense of guilt." Ambrose shrugs, looking mildly disgruntled. "We have a responsibility to preserve what we can for future generations, do we not? To not lose track of that which was once buried by the sands of time? I intend to ensure this within my field — to ensure that what was once created remains intact and safe."


Rolf and Halgrim sigh and shake their heads at Ishmael in mock censure; Anna-Lise hides a lauigh around a sip of her lager. "It's not about *work*, but why you *chose* this work," Ishmael says. He smiles, though, particularly when Ambrose indulges them.

"Ah, yes," Anna-Lise says, nodding, "to reclaim what we've lost, restore what we find, preserve what we have. Here here." She raises her lager. The rest of them, all nodding and murmuring ascent, raise their mugs and glasses as well. Halgrim has almost finished off the lager portion of his black and tan; Rolf and Anna-Lise have made far less headway. Ishmael, of course, is free to drink as much as he wants, though he's going through his drink at a conservative pace.

"Eh if only more of our profession were so inclined," Rolf grumbles, and Halgrim sighs in agreement. Rolf seems like he might continue in this vein, then stops himself. "Right," he says, and gestures at Ambrose. "Not until we've had more to drink." Which he does; he's about caught up with Halgrim for a moment, except more of the black and tan disappears as well.

Anna-Lise raises an eyebrow at Ambrose. "What then do you think we should discuss?"


The Jackal lifts his glass with them all and drinks to the general concept of goodwill amongst historians. His glass is easily half-empty now and on an empty stomach too. Here's hoping he can hold his own in a bit. When Anna-Lise asks of him, he drops most of his smirk towards Rolf — because the man is correct, that was the agreement as to conversational bent — and replies to her,

"Why not tell me of yourselves? Does anyone else like long walks on the beach?" More dry delivery in that, accompanied by a toothy grin. He brings his Guinness to his mouth again, content on this round of imbibing to appreciate the taste of it rather than simply put it in his stomach.


"I do," Ishmael admits, and Anna, Halgrim and Rolf all laugh, which Ishmael must have expected because he smiles.

Rolf says, "That's because you come from a place where the beach is sunny and warm, and walking in the water barefoot is a romantic thing." Ishmael grins, suggests, "You should move there, if you'd prefer that to glacial lakes."

Halgrim claps Rolf on his back, Rolf makes a low sound and drinks more beer.

"Here our long walks on the beach aren't the sort to imagine with a warm breeze and a cool drink," Anna-Lise says. "But I don't mind a lovely afternoon in the mountains. A good wine and a book, in summer—a lovely way to spend the time."

"Not much for beaches where I'm from either," Halgrim says. "Plenty of lakes, of course, surrounded by miles of forest. So it's," he gestures with his near-empty glass at Anna-Lise, "closer to what Anna has described."

"The Black Sea's not so far, though," Ishmael suggests, and Rolf acquiesces reluctantly. "That's where we would vacation," he says, "before the war. Absolutely lovely place." He sounds like he's not sure there'll be much of that happening in the future, at least not any time soon.

The waitress, seeing at least one empty glass (Halgrim's) and others maybe half-full, returns to see who wants another round.


"It is an absolutely lovely place," Ambrose confirms of Ishmael's description even as the waitress arrives at their table once more. "Another Guinness," he asks of her, showing her his empty glass, " — and the same volume, please. Oh, and the drinks are all on my tab. Don't let any of these people tell you otherwise." He arches eyebrows at everyone just to make his point clear. "Get what you wish," he encourages with a grin gone noticeably broader since he polished off those 25 ounces of dark stout with nothing else to his stomach.


Rolf and Anna-Lise order more of the same, Ishmael tries a different non-alcoholic cocktail (ginger ale with grenadine), and Halgrim considers the chalkboard for a spell before ordering an eisbock. This earns him a sour look from Rolf.

"How can you stomach that stuff," Rolf asks for what probably isn't the first and won't be the last time.

Halgrim shrugs. "I like variety," he says. Something about how he says that, and the impish glint in his eyes, makes Anna-Lise smother a laugh, Rolf sigh and shake his head, and Ishmael cough to cover a laugh of his own.

Halgrim's gaze drifts across the room to a cluster of three young men, all a little younger than Ishmael, who are having an intense conversation. Their voices don't carry to the table, but the looks they're occasionally giving Ishmael do.

Ishmael sees where Halgrim is looking, grimaces and quickly studies his drink before the three young men notice he's looked at them.

"Don't worry about them," Halgrim says, as casually as anything, and raises his eyebrows at Ishmael, who nods and dispels his sudden unease with effort.


The brunet does make his own little face at the ordering of the eisbock. Ew indeed, blugh, give him something dark anyday over that swill. He tilts his glass as to get to the last few drops that always collect in the bottom curvature and succeeds at getting most of them. As he sets the glass down, he catches the end of Ishmael's attempt to avoid being caught at eye contact and looks around the table to find the next person contributing a line of gaze.

A subtle turn in his chair allows him to follow Halgrim's attention and he marks the three young men with a sudden melting of joviality. He nods minutely to Halgrim once he's settled in his chair again and tries for a smile towards Ishmael.

"Indeed. Young bucks with heads full of steam. If there are ears to be boxed, I'm not afraid to contribute. It wouldn't be the first time…" he mutters, looking around for the waitress and their approaching drinks hopefully.


Rolf gestures at Ambrose with his near-empty glass. "Oh, well, you and Halgrim can work out who's hitting who before it comes to that, then. He's never met a bar fight he didn't want to take part in." Anna-Lise and Ishmael laugh, Halgrim sighs and shakes his head.

"That was when I was twenty, and made of rubber, you know you heal easily then," Halgrim says. "Now, eh…" His gaze moves back to the three young men, who notice him and then Ambrose watching them. Halgrim raises an eyebrow at them, and after looking between Halgrim, Rolf, and Ambrose, they turn so they're facing away, towards the bar. Halgrim concludes, "I have to pick my fights."

The waitress returns with the next round, trades out the empties, and whisks away. "Well, just don't get thrown out of this one," Anna-Lise says, her tone arch. "I *like* it here."


One more utterly chilly look from Ambrose is all that he contributes to the three young men across the way because important things have happened — like their next round of drinks arriving.

"To cracking skulls without getting thrown out," he says with a faint laugh as he lifts his drink and then takes it a quarter of the way down with loose-jawed swallows. "I'm attempting to remember when my last bar fight was… Last year? I remember an absolutely spectacular brawl in Shanghai one time — I spent a few years there," he adds nonchalantly before continuing, " — wherein nearly thirty men of all sorts turned a place upside-down. Broken chairs, throwing knives sticking out from wooden kegs… I remember throwing a man through a window." He seems almost fond of this memory by the faint smile on his face. The Jackal definitely has the mild slackening of a solid buzz about him now and it's beginning to smooth away his rough edges.


"To not being thrown out," Rolf echoes, raising his pale ale; Halgrim, Anna-Lise, and Ishmael all follow suit. Rolf is broodier and quieter the more he drinks; Halgrim, on the other hand, doesn't seem to change much. Anna-Lise smiles easier. And Ishmael, of course, isn't drinking at all, just watching everything unfold.

"Now that sounds like a proper fight," Halgrim says with approval, nods, takes a drink. Rolf blows out a breath. "More like a riot," he murmurs.

"Shanghai?" Ishmael says, sounding surprised and excited. How often do you meet anyone who's been to Shanghai, much less spent a fair amount of time there. "I've always wanted to travel to China. Were you there for school? What was it like?" He's *all* questions.


"It was a bit of a riot," demures Ambrose with a tilt of his glass towards Rolf in wry acknowledgment. He glances over at Ishmael and then drops his eyes to his Guinness, laughing more through his nose than anything else.

"Shanghai…yes. I was not there for school, no. I was…it was a place unlike anywhere else that I've traveled to thus far in my life. It was full of intrigue, politics, the reach of greed and the counter of violence and…" He blows a long sigh. "Singular." A few solemn nods and he gets to working at his Guiness again, drowning himself in another half of the glass's volume.


Anna-Lise raises her eyebrows. "Sounds like it was an experience." She considers her lager. "I spent a summer in India when I was a graduate student—in Calcutta. That was, *also*, an experience."

"Mmmmm," Rolf says, low and thoughtful. "For me that was Turkey." He looks askance at Halgrim, who shrugs, gives Rolf a coy look. "How hard will you hit me if I say Munich?"

Rolf makes a disgusted sound and shoves Halgrim, who absorbs the motion with a leand and an easy smile. "Not work," Anna-Lise admonishes, and Halgrim holds up one hand in defeat. (He uses the other to take a drink of the eisbock.)

"What do you want me to say, unlike the rest of you, I've mostly spent my time on the continent." Halgrim rubs at his beard. "Though, there was Damlatia, I suppose."

Ishmael tilts his head; this is a story he's a part of. "That…was something of an experience," he says, and he gives Halgrim a rueful look, which makes Halgrim laugh.

"It wasn't *that* bad," Halgrim insists. Ishmael shakes his head. "Yes, Halgrim, it was," he insists.


Calcutta. Turkey. Yes, he's spent time in all and nods knowingly, his smile slowly reappearing like mist upon a lake. Munich…hmm. Halgrim gets a thoughtful look yet again — his brain begins rifling through memories. He does indeed remember that last name, but…the years having gone past have turned young Lindqvist's face into a blur. A shame. He's not as rattled as he used to be. People come and go in his life. However, watching Ishmael's reactions to Halgrim's shared locale is enough to intrigue him.

"Well, now, you can't go about doing that," he lightly scolds over the story kept between the two gentlemen. "Dalmatia. Go on, tell the tale. By your expressions, it seems like it might have been a right mess." He lifts his drink, just barely avoiding a slop of the stout. "To right messes."


*Everyone's* glass comes up at that. "To right messes," they all agree, save Rolf, who says, "To total fuckups," which gets him a soft laugh from Anna-Lise and Ishmael and a roll of Halgrim's eyes.

"Dalmatia," Halgrim repeats, and he and Ishmael share tired glances. Halgrim sighs, tries to decide where to start. "So…if you don't know, they've found Viking sitessmall ones, not muchin Bribirska Glavica. One they found—" He pauses, frowns, looks at Ishmael. "Was that five years ago now?"

"Four," Ishmael says promptly. "I'd just finished second post doc."

"Right! Right." Halgrim sits back up, properly reminded. "So. Yugoslavia, you know, they have more autonomy than most of the Eastern Bloc—and they wanted to bring in someone to look over the pieces they'd found. The Dean of the department managed to get Ishmael and I that spot, and gave us two graduate students who could speak Croatian. Because of course," he gestures at himself and Ishmael, "neither of us do, and not many Croatians speak English."

He pauses here for a drink, so it's Ishmael that takes up the thread."There was one problem—we were to meet them in Sibenik, and when we got there, we found out that they'd both become very ill, and not been able to make the trip."


After the toast is returned by all, Ambrose then kills the rest of his stout and sets down the glass, looking quite comfortable with himself at the table. He's all slackened through, rather approachable by his laziest smile yet. Alcohol does rub down his sharp edges. He points at Rolf and nods in near-conspiratorial agreement at his comment before settling back into his chair, arms lightly crossed for the story.

When Ishmael picks up, his eyes slide to the young man and he listens, head tilted to one side. "…that is unfortunate," he opines quietly in the pause, teeth slowly appearing in a crooked smile.


Rolf nods at Ambrose, grunts an agreement, and finishes the rest of his IPA. The beer has made him less dour, and Anna-Lise more prone to listening and smiling. And Halgrim it mostly seems to have made more boisterous. Ishmael remains unphased and is enjoying himself immensely.

"So we get there," Halgrim says, "and after spending an hour trying to find them, figure we need to call the hotel where we were to stay the first night, and see if there was a message. And there was no message."

"Because," Ishmael says, "the University had left it at the wrong hotel."

Halgrim sighs. "And so began our week. First we had to get ourselves to the hotel—didn't manage that for almost three hours, cost us twice as much as it should have."

"And you had to threaten the driver."

Offended, Halgrim says, "I didn't *threaten* him."

Ishmael shakes his head, gestures with his glass. "You did. I don't think he had a single idea what you were saying, which is probably a good thing because we might have wound up in jail. But it did work."

"In my defense," Halgrim says, "I was exhausted, and hungry." He waves a hand, dismissing his low blood sugar, tired self of four years past. "At any rate, once we did get to the hotel, they couldn't find our reservation."

"They did eventually find it, once we called the University," Ishmael says. "Fortunately we were able to get one of the secretaries at home."

"We bought her a very nice dinner when we got back for asking her to walk to campus after ten at night," Halgrim adds. He drains his eisbock. "We collapsed into bed, resolving to sort it all out in the morning."

Primly, Ishmael continues, "Which is when the storm arrived."


Ambrose keeps most of his laughter either behind lips or behind his hand, half-curled up about his lips now. This is turning out to be quite the fiasco. He approves of having bought the secretary dinner and makes certain that Halgrim sees his thumbs-up. Of course, everyone else at the table does too because he's not nearly as sneaky as he thinks he is when he's drunk as a lord.

"A storm?" he then echoes Ishmael, dark brows flicking upwards in disbelief. This is now all beginning to sound like bad luck!


"Ill will of the gods," Halgrim agrees. The waitress arrives to take another order; Halgrim's inclined, and orders a lager, as does Rolf, but not Anna-Lise. She and Ishmael simply ask for water, for the moment.

Rolf starts to say, "Did you forget to do your blot that season—" and Halgrim cuts him a sharp glance, which makes Rolf stop talking immediately. Ishmael quickly takes up the story's thread again.

"It was a rare one, I'm told, for that area—that part of Dalmatia is renowned as one to visit, because it's sheltered," he says. "But we insisted to go out to Bribirska Glavica anyways."

"*I* insisted," Halgrim says, waves away a protest from Ishmael. "No need to take blame for me. I," he places a hand on his chest, "decided we should go. And we even got into contact with someone from the University who obtained us a student to translate. So, off we went."

Thus allowed to tell the truth of it, Ishmael says, "To be miserable in the rain and wind for three hours." Halgrim sighs, shakes his head, looks sidelong at Ambrose. "But. We did see some interesting pieces."

"And both got colds," Ishmael says.


Yet another stout for Ambrose. It's going to be quite the tab to foot if he can even count out bills to close out on it. The brunet glances between Rolf and Halgrim and wants to say something, but Ishmael picking up the tale saves their bacon. He's got the relative attention span of a goldfish now and everything's very warm and his fingers and toes are tingling nicely.

"And was the trade-off a proper one then? To suffer your sniffles in order to see those fascinating artifacts?" he asks, genuinely curious as to their opinions.


"Admittedly," Rolf says, "the pictures were quite fine, particularly of the two days they spent sitting in a hotel room recovering so they'd be allowed on a train back." He gives Halgrim an accusational look, which Halgrim weathers with equanimity.

"There are worse ways to be ill," Ishmael confirms. "Because of the mess, the local university was willing to foot the bill, and even though we were miserable, it was lovely once the storm had passed. So we had time to go over our notes and rubbings, and speak with the archaeologists who'd done the excavation."

Halgrim confirms, "It was a fascinating site," sips his lager. He thinks about the quality of the beer, shrugs. He's had enough that almost anything will taste fine. "There was a runestone with the name of a Jarl from Denmark carved into it, along with some necklaces they probably traded, a few weapons…"

"And a helmet," Anna-Lise reminds them. "my favorite," she confides to Ambrose, "because it was a woman's helm, not a man's." Ishmael nods.

"Yes. They suspect there was trade which happened, maybe even regularly, for so much to have survived so long. Which means there might be more sites."

Tone dry, Rolf says, "And I'm sure you'll be happy to hike in inclement weather to unearth it."


Ambrose nods, glancing over to Anna-Lise and then leaning in a little, all the better for the pretty lady to tell him of her interests. Which include helmets. Noted. Maybe if he showed up in a helmet… The drunken musing spins off even as he looks across the table to Ishmael and then to Rolf.

"Nothing wrong with braving the elements to see what the past has to teach. Now…there's a point where you're being self-sacrificing and that's where I draw the line." His fingertip sketches out a relatively straight line on the wood, drawing through condensation left by his past drinks. "Can't dig up more sites and artifacts if you're dead," he adds, in what he thinks is flawless logic.


"That you cannot," Anna-Lise says. She holds up her water for a toast to not dying in the process of digging up the past. "We're trying to uncover history, not become it."

"Can't we do both?" Rolf wonders. The other three give him puzzled looks. He gestures with his lager, which he is also happy to drink because after two IPAs a lager is just fine. "You can become famous enough to be remembered by history," he clarifies. "Who's to say a few archaeologists can't do that.

"Famous, or infamous," Halgrim mutters. Rolf shrugs. Ishmael makes a face and nods.

"In our cases I would assume infamy will be more likely," he says, and the three of them laugh; it's late, the bar's patrons are thinning out, and they feel good.

Halgrim takes a bigger drink. "Ah, I think these will be our last." He nods at Ambrose. "In deference to his wallet."

"Mmm, and the workday," Anna-Lise adds. She sighs, considers her watch. "Don't forget, Erich has that seminar tomorrow afternoon."

Rolf groans. "I forgot," he admits. "I suppose that means we should come in bright and early to get the rest of the coins done?"

"Should I make sure to secure an entire pot of coffee?" Ishmael asks, sly, which gets him at least two sour looks. He smiles winningly. "I will then."


Ambrose joins in with the laughter at potential archeological infamy. These three? Entirely possible, from what he's seen and heard — and he's still managed to be mum about most of his exploits throughout the decades. That's a feat in and of itself, considering he's only now concluding that he shouldn't finish this last pint. A bad idea, that. When Halgrim comments about his wallet, he lifts a hand and waves it dimissively in a wobbly fashion, making some unconcerned sound. A snort at the idea of a pot of coffee making a dent in his own inebriation and then he's shifting in his chair.

"You all get going, I'll settle up the tab," he says before attempting to lever himself upright. "T'was my pleasure, no complaints now. Money is of no issue to me." He makes it to a complete stand without tipping chair or table, though he needs to lean very heavily on the latter. He doesn't think twice about saying that last bit, even if it runs counter to almost every social projection he's put forth thus far, down to the clothing he wears. Whoops.


They all watch him go, waiting to see if he can make it to the bar *and* also settle the tab. "I'll get it if he doesn't have enough," Halgrim says, quietly, and Rolf has to think about that before conceding with a nod.

"Mmmm, I suppose I did pay last time."

"When do I get to pay?" Ishmael demands.

Anna-Lise smothers a laugh. "Don't be in such a hurry to let these to drink you into a poor house, Ishmael."

"I'm serious, Anna, I should be able to treat you all as well."

Rolf waves a hand. "Yes, and you will, once you have a teaching position we'll let you wine and dine us all you wish, like the freeloaders we are."

"The cycle of life," Halgrim comments absently.

Rolf mmmms. "Like that time you got Aanensen to pay for an entire bottle of port."

Halgrim laughs, short and sharp. Anna-Lise raises her eyebrows. "Port? In post-war Munich? That must have been a fortune."

"Bastard had it coming," Halgrim mutters into his beer, which he finishes off. "After that one crate wandered off he was insufferable. I wasn't going to put up with it without *some* sort of compensation."

"The crate from Northern Africa?" Ishmael clarifies, and Halgrim gestures at him with his empty glass.

"The very one. Wandered off into a paper trail, somehow."


Somehow…and even Ambrose isn't certain of how…but he both makes it to the bar and settles the tab. He might have been overly generous tipping the waitress and bartender in turn; miscounting is also entirely an optional explanation for the number of bills pushed across the clean bartop.

"'ppreciate it," he says by way of polite farewell, his smile crooked and indicative of intoxication. He meanders back towards to the table and by his bemused expression, he clearly thought they all would have left by now. Time is terribly disjointed when one's nearly falling over oneself. He walks into hearing range right about mid-explanation from Halgrim, about the compensation.

Pausing in obvious sight if one were to commit a full turn of head to glance in his direction, he listens…and swallows hard. Oh…yes. That crate. But wait. There's been a lot of time since then. No one will remember. His alcohol-befuddled brain comes to this conclusion. With a sniff, he wanders back into clear view and comments, "…a crate wandered off into a paper trail? How bizarre. Didn't know they did that."


The waitress and the bartender watch him closely, but since Ambrose is returning to a table still populated by people they don't ask if he needs them to call a cab. They exchange pleased looks about the tip, and suggest he please stop by again in the future.

Halgrim makes a truly annoyed sound when Ambrose says that. "They do when you're processing hundreds of them for days on end," he says. Rolf sighs explosively.

"We don't even know how it happened, the forms were signed and everything. But one day a museum calls, says they never got their pieces back. Happens a lot, but usually there's an obvious mistake. Not so for these." He shrugs, because really, what could even be done, then or now.

"And then that Norwegian prick takes it out on everyone while Smythe's back in the States," Halgrim says, still entirely angry about things which happened years ago. "How many boxes did we process, over three summers? One fucking crate goes missing and he loses his *fucking* mind about it. Must have yelled at all of us for an hour." He shakes his head. "Of the many things I regret doing in my life, tricking him into paying for a bottle of port we all drank up on the roof on our last night, is not among them."

"Was it at least a good port?" Anna-Lise asks. Rolf grins.

"Vintage," he says, and bobs his eyebrows. Ishmael's eyes widen and Anna-Lise sucks in a breath.

"Halgrim," she admonishes, smacking his arm, and he shrugs. He snorts, shakes his head.

"No regrets. I hope he still wonders what happened to it."


|ROLL| Rosemarie +rolls 1d10 for: 6


There's no hiding how intrigued Ambrose is to hear of precisely what happened after he drove off into the city with his cleverly- if not ill-gotten goods. Unfortunate, to hear about the yelling, but he remembers his time in the British Army. The officers would yell if anything went beyond their control. With hands in his pockets, he even smiles slightly to himself. How fabulous, to hear that he really did get away with it scot-free.

"I bet he still does," he comments, still wearing that ghost of a wry grin. "It's difficult, when something like that happens. If I had to bet…someone probably forged a signature. Not everyone was in it for the preservation of history at the end of the war." A shrug is almost apologetic for Those People.


"Exactly," Rolf says, pointing at Ambrose. "Of course, it was the largest number of pieces anyone ever got away with at once, but we were losing things all the *time*. It wasn't a surprise someone finally had the sand to just, grab as much as they could."

Anna-Lise sighs, shrugs. "And no one's ever going to find it now, anyways. It's like the Amber Room—lost to time. Why yell about it?"

Halgrim nods, stares down at the grain of the table. "I'd have rather spent those hours returning all the things they stole from the families they murdered."

Rolf and Anna-Lise both make quiet sounds of agreement; Ishmael watches in uncomfortable silence. He wasn't in Europe for the war, but knows plenty about it from them—especially Rolf, who lived it in Germany proper.

The shadow of the war and all it wrought is dispelled when Halgrim stands. He sways just a little, but he's also careful with his movements. He's entirely aware of how he needs to move. "Shall we? Anna, I assume you'll need to come in first, since you have the keys to the kingdom?"

Anna-Lise smiles sweetly. "If you're hoping I'll sleep in so you can, you're in for an awful surprise."


Ambrose nods a curtly-defined manner towards Rolf at his gesture. He allows himself a twisted smirk, still more a grimace of partial sympathy for the troubles they all went through. It still eats at him from time to time, the waves he leaves behind in the wake of his attempts to level his own karma, not terribly unlike ducks — myriad, countless, nibbles of annoyance at his conscience. But boy…boy, did Rommel and his Nazi goons pay heavily in the deserts of northern Africa while he had his way.

An unconscious half-step back for Halgrim's rise, long-ingrained habit for keeping space in self-defense, and then Ambrose looks between faces. "Aw — tsk now, not fair at all. They worked hard today. What…an hour extra won't cost you much?" He asks of Anna-Lise, giving her what he hopes is a charming grin.


Anna-Lise arches an eyebrow at Ambrose, the very image of matronly judgment, but Halgrim and Rolf have his back.

"Perhaps an hour later isn't entirely out of the question, Anna," Rolf says, his features quite hang dog. Halgrim bats his eyelashes at Anna and smiles sweetly, not being drunk enough to look appropriately desparate for the prospect of sleeping in.

"I like him," Ishmael tells Anna. Of course, not having had anything to drink, he intends to use his free hour at a cafe, no doubt.

Anna considers this pack of drunk men and one sober, scheming young professor and sighs. She waves a hand. "Fine, fine…we'll start at nine."


The brunet has the decency to look a little sheepish when Anna-Lise turns that expression on him, but only to a point. Otherwise, it's all unabashed and almost boyish delight at the attention. He glances to Ishmael and gives him a conspiratorial wink, absolutely easy enough for anyone in the room to catch. There's the hang-time of a decisions being made and…

At Anna-Lise's yield to the extra hour, he claps his hands lightly once. "Gentlemen, you're welcome," and he gives each person a significant lift of brows. "For now, let us leave. Beds and pillows and warm sheets no doubt sing their siren call," he says rather loftily as he begins to make his way towards the exit.


Anna-Lise follows behind Ambrose, with Rolf and Halgrim behind her; Ishmael moves to walk next to Ambrose, intending to make sure he doesn't run into anything. "A wonderful idea," he asides to Ambrose, keeping his voice low. "Now I can have a relaxing morning to myself." He bobs his eyebrows. "And I'm sure Rolf and Halgrim won't mind sleeping in." He glances back at Anna-Lise. "Anna, though…she'll come in anyways."

Behind them, Anna-Lise has fallen back to join Rolf and Halgrim in a slightly tipsy discussion about the upcoming collections for the Swiss National Museum, specifically, the ones she doesn't care for.


The air outside in the night is cool and crisp. "I don't doubt that she'll arrive as she planned," he asides to the young man, his smile taking on a distant note even as his breath fogs faintly. Already, he's beginning to detach himself from the good time he had amongst the others over drinks. It's a wise idea, after all, not getting attached. In the end, he must act the one struck by wanderlust or else lay low those he cares so much for.

He adds to Ishmael, "Hopefully, the others appreciate their extra rest. They kept up with me easily enough." He flashes teeth in a sharp grin before stepping to one side, intending to take a different route to another place in the city. "Thank you, everyone," he says loudly enough for all, eyeing each in turn. "For allowing me to partake in the treasures you've found. I wish you new discoveries and the wisdom of finding a way to make the youth remember just how rare history can be."


"And you, Fitzroy," Rolf says, waving his hand. Halgrim echoes the sentiment, and he and Rolf take another side street, as their apartments are in a small building not too far away.

Ishmael waves to Ambrose, saying, "It was good to meet you! Please don't be a stranger!" He moves to walk with Anna-Lise then, and they fall into small talk about their plans for the coming day, easily overheard since Anna-Lise isn't talking all that quietly. Ishmael convinces her to let him take an hour for himself, but she insists she'll be in on time.


It's an uneventful night, in the city and around the museum; there are guards, of course, and alarms, but no one makes a surprise return in the middle of the night. Halgrim, Anna-Lise, and Rolf have gone to sleep off their beers, and Ishmael enjoys a quiet night to himself.

In the morning, Halgrim and Rolf sleep in, as they've been allowed to, and Ishmael gets up at his usual time, but instead goes to his favorite cafe for a relaxing morning with a book. And Anna-Lise is up bright and early, for though she can't drink as hard as Rolf or Halgrim, she bounces back twice as fast. Her route to the museum takes her by a small pastry shop, where she stops for something for herself and, in all likelihood, the others once they arrive. From there she pauses at a coffee shop for a coffee, and then she has a few more blocks to the museum.


Having crashed hard in his temporary bunk once he made it there, a few hours meditation does Ambrose a world of good. He's sober again faster than the standard human being, given the Bane's inclination to rid his body of poisons, perceived as they may be as such or not. The city around him, mostly asleep but for the nocturnal stirrings of the odd passerby here and there, provide the curse with more than enough ambient life-energy to draw upon. Thus, there's a rather chipper-looking brunet awaiting Anna-Lise's arrival at the museum itself. He's wearing the same jeans and jacket as yesterday, though he has changed out his shirt, and then a charming smile yet, doing his best to showcase dimples.

"Miss Anna-Lise," he says by way of greeting, taking a step or two towards her and giving her a polite nod, his air almost archaically-respectful. "I thought I might lend a hand, since I was the architect ensuring that all your others slept in." He does look a bit abashed once more. "I meant well, I assure you."


Hands full between the pastries for the others, her coffee, her purse, and a briefcase full of papers, Anna-Lise is quite happy to see the person who caused all her help to take a late morning is here to at least rectify the situation. "Ah, Fitzroy. It's alright—Halgrim and Rolf could work themselves to death if given half a chance, and Ishmael is no better. They could use an extra hour, I'm sure. Could you…" She offers him his pick of whatever's easiest to relieve her of.


"Of course," and Ambrose most carefully relieves her of the bag of pastries as well as the briefcase full of papers, all without touching a hint of skin to skin. The attache case has adequate weight to it and he's fairly impressed; quite a bit of information stored in here. He steps to one side to better allow her access to the door, given she's the keeper of the keys.

"I must be honest with you. I admit that I want to take a closer look at the coins. To have found them in such a fine state of preservation in the elements…it's something close to a miracle," he opines, half-smiling to himself.


"Thank you," Anna-Lise says, and fishes her keys out of her purse. As she unlocks the door to let them in, she continues, "Of course, not a problem at all. And if you have any experience with wet or dry cleaning techniques, you can feel free to work on a few; I can put Halgrim to taking photos."

As they walk in, the bare handful of other staffers wave and call their hellos. It's just researchers and the museum's opening staff right now, though the doors won't be unlocked to allow visitors for at least another two hours. "It is, isn't it? I almost couldn't believe it when they told me. Pure happenstance, a horse, and a sand storm." She shakes her head. "But that's how so many of these are found. A change in the weather, a different route while hiking, a river's course shifting to reveal something new." As they head up the stairs, she confides, "That's what I love about it, really. Not just the thrill of the find, but how."


Ambrose nods as he ascends the stairs beside Anna-Lise. He attempted to keep his face averted briefly from all present who greeted, as best he could manage in the moment, though no telling how effective it was. The briefcase is still gentle weight in his hand and the pastries do smell rather good, now that he considers it briefly.

"Ah, yes, the how. Once, I came across a nearly-intact statuette to the goddess Tiamat by simply stepping funny atop a dune." He chuckles to himself, remembering the moment with unusual clarity — how the red sands streamed away and slowly revealed the pale-stone figurine, worn from time and grit in identity but the faint scaling and hints of serpentine wrath. "Primordial goddess of the oceans. To think. She would have remained hidden away if I hadn't placed my boot as such."


|ROLL| Halgrim +rolls 1d20 for: 1


The croissants are a mix of raspeberry, chocolate, and plain; a temptation to anyone, and Ambrose will even have first pick. They complement the smell of Anna-Lise's strong, dark coffee as they continue up the next flight. "Ah, wonderful—was that in Iraq? Ishmael was telling me it was incredible to find someone else who spoke Persian, that he'd not had a chance to speak it in months." She's not bothered to put her keys away, since it's only one more flight and then they're on the floor they need to be at.

They make it to the top of the stairs without encountering anyone, and here Anna-Lise puts her keys to use again, unlocking the door to the preparation room. Everything is precisely where they left it: the finished coins stowed in the drawers, the unfinished still under protective cover, and the vases on their separate table.


"I believe Iraq, yes. It's been some time since then." He neglects to mention the amount of time, considering that it would be staggering in comparison to his current youthful looks. "The memories do fade and my notes are…somewhere," he mutters, frowning to himself as he waits for the last barrier to be opened.

"He's a charming man, your Ishmael," Ambrose adds as they enter the room. His eyes quickly scan and lock on the coins still left free of entombment within the drawers. Not all, he decides on the fly. A good number. Why? …well, in a crooked way, he likes everyone present and those who spoke over a drink last night. "It…had been some time in my case as well, to remember what I know of Persian. I forget how musical it can be." He has a fondness in tone, like that of an old friend. He walks over to a desk dedicated to items not of precious, ancient value and sets down both briefcase and pastries. "But Miss Anna-Lise. I've been remiss. I'm uncertain as to how to aid in cleaning the coins," and he nods to the unfinished tray. "Would you mind terribly showing me how? I remember…enough, but I'd rather not tarnish them further. Call it an odd twist of luck, but I haven't had the chance to work at preserving coins for…some years now."


Anna-Lise arches a brow. "Of course," she says, and sets the pastries and coffee in the side room where there's sideboard for such things to be kept out of the way. "We can start with the cleaner ones, if you want—very little chance of damaging them while you're remembering, and you'll be able to see more, then. We use the wet technique on those. The coins that need the dry technique are in rough shape, and not as easy to become reacquainted with." She's all business as soon as Ambrose is, going to the cabinet for a set of gloves and some cleaning supplies. She doesn't pull the gloves on immediately, though, just takes out the box and sets it on the table for easy reach. "If you want to come help bring these over to the table, we can see how many we do for the others arrive."


A slow cycling of breath marks Ambrose coming to his final decision on things. "That does sound like a plan," he replies quietly even as he walks over to the coins in question. With hands in his pockets, he looks at those beneath the protective covering and then back to Anna-Lise. "It is sound logic to start with those that need less care. Quick and easy to clean, and less chance for me to fumble over something and injure them." He grins, the smile an easy one. The melancholy is found in his eyes.

He walks over and picks up one white archival glove and then pauses, as if he's thought of something. "The smaller cases for coin storage are in here somewhere, I assume?"


"Oh, you'll be fine," Anna-Lise says with a wave of her hand. "Even *I* can't make a mess of this, and I'm the worst at it. You should have seen my advisor trying to teach me." She laughs, shakes her head. "Rolf gave me some pointers a few years back which helped immensely." She pauses in the act of arranging the cleaning supplies and gestures at a cabinet at the back of the room, "Yes, they're in there, though aside from a couple of pieces to put on display in the entrance downstairs we shouldn't need them. Though, I suppose it's possible another museum or university will ask to borrow one."


"Ah, well and good," he replies to the location of the coin cases. A little nod to himself and he waits until Anna-Lise is within easy reaching distance before he works to remove the protective covering on the coins. "I…appreciate your faith in me, Miss Anna-Lise. It's a rarity." Ambrose gives her another small smile. The guilt ferrets are strong now. With the protective covering removed from atop the coins, he sighs again. "You're lucky to have them. The gents."


Anna-Lise furrows her brows at Ambrose. "A rarity? Come now, Fitzroy, what sort of task masters have *you* been saddled with. No one ever learned without some faith from their teachers." She pulls on a pair of gloves, but as she's removed her blazer this leaves her arms exposed by her white, short-sleeved blouse. It's not *quite* cold enough to justify a sweater.

"Now, first thing we do, is take a coin and decide how *much* of it needs cleaning." She takes up one and turns it so he can see both sides. The brilliant, impossibly yellow gold shines in the overhead lights. There's nothing much on this one, just a little dirt embedded in the grooves and ridges of the stamp. "Some need hardly any attention, even among these that are quite clean, and you don't want to do more than necessary. For this one, a simple washing in warm, soapy water, and rubbing it with some salt, should remove all of this and leave the gold alloy perfectly intact."

As she prepares a simple soap bath — nothing fancy, just a little water from the sink and a touch of liquid detergent—she says, "I suppose I am. Even *if* they drink too much." She sighs. "It'll be a shame when their current positions lapse. I fully expect Halgrim to wander off back to Stockholm. Rolf, maybe he'll stay…" She muses on that quietly.


Her concerned reaction is enough to entice a soft laugh out of him. "You've no idea of my task master, but it's neither here nor there. I have something to re-learn and that's an uncommon stance for me to be in."

Ambrose leaves one hand free as he watches her prepare the gently-sudsed water, mentally filing away the process and explanation to come along with it. After all, he prefers to give his newly-acquired goods some restorative love if it can be managed before he ships them off to their past homes. "I have the suspicion that Rolf will stay. He seems comfortable here. Mister Lindqvist…yes, he has the touch of the risk-taker to him. I can see him jumping to the winds and enjoying every moment of chaos he encounters." A wry smile and he looks down to the coins, muting his amusement to an extent. Tsk — no dallying, he has coins to lift.


"Mmmm — we'll see," Anna-Lise says on the subject of Rolf. "He lived in Germany during the war, you know." She doesn't elaborate past that, because what else is there to say about someone who went through that. "Halgrim, I have to agree — he'll be happy to wander the continent until he finds a good museum to stay in. I don't expect him to stray far from his homeland, though. It's just not in his nature."

She dips the coin in the soap water, giving it a few turns and some gentle rubbing, then pulls it out and rinses it with a dip in a bowl of clean water. This removes maybe a third of the offending grime; the rest she begins to work off by sprinkling over a bit of salt and working it in. "The salt will just rinse off," she explains, so it's no problem if any of it becomes stuck in place of the dirt." Sure enough, this cleans up the coin nicely. "So this one can be patted dry." She puts it aside and takes up another; the one has a bit more dirt on it, but again, no corrosion. "This, we should soak. At least for half the day. No need giving ourselves finger cramps when water and time can do the work for us."


|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d10 for: 8


"Indeed. The subtleness of salt is never to be underestimated," he says, his tone light and almost poking fun at the presumptive laziness of letting a coin lie soaking. He watches her do another two coins before nodding to himself. No time like the present.

Gently, he reaches over and sets his palm upon Anna-Lise's bare forearm. He meets her startled gaze and feels the quick exchange of life-energy back and forth; brief pins-and-needles turns into a flood of heat where his hand lies and then relaxation follows like lethe in the blood. "Miss Anna-Lise. If I might Suggest that you take some time to look over your notes on where these coins were acquired? I will continue working with them. Never mind what you might see and hear me do, I mean you and yours no harm." This, he attempts to place upon her as temporary geas: to ignore him until further instructions are given.


Anna-Lise stiffens when she first feels Ambrose's hand, but the Bane and its attendant Suggestion pre-empt any retort he was about to receive. She stills, relaxes and looks down at the coin she's just finished with. "Yes, that sounds like a good idea. The others will be here soon enough, and I should put down my remarks before I forget them."

She steps away from the table and pulls off her gloves, moving with an almost dreamlike grace on her way to the other table where her briefcase and its papers and notebook await.

Outside the preparation room it's still quiet; a few more staff have trickled in, but not many, and no one on this floor.


|ROLL| Halgrim +rolls 1d20 for: 7


The Jackal's eyes linger on the woman to make sure he sees all the signs of a successful coersion — check, there they all are — and then he leaves the cleaning station for the smaller holding cases they briefly discussed earlier. He finds one quickly enough, with room for a dozen coins and complete with protective inner layering, and steps quickly back over to the table. He slips on the other glove and turns his attention to the untouched collection. Eight coins go away into the box, with its archival-level of protection, all of which he'll be certain to clean well via the methods showcased earlier.

Hearing a small sound downstairs, he stops and looks over to the door — but no one's immediately nearby and Anna-Lise hasn't raised any ruckus. Unzipping his jacket, he slips the box into an interior pocket and securely fastens it shut before zipping up his coat once more. Despite its shape being square, the container hides fairly well against the relative bulk of the field jacket. He then removes the archival gloves and pockets those as to avoid immediate proof of his involvement over at the cleaning station.

His bootsteps are quiet as he makes his way over to Anna-Lise at the table with her briefcase and once more places a palm upon her arm. "Miss Anna-Lise. You've been so kind. I Suggest that you remember nothing of me past that of donning your gloves. I merely stopped by to say goodbye and wish you and yours luck at your work. I have a plane to catch, after all." And by plane, he means 'train', in case anyone gets nosy. In a fit of archaic pique, he gathers up her hand and places a chaste kiss on her knuckles, looking into her eyes. "Were we in another time and places, and under better circumstances, I would have courted you, I think. You are intelligent and charming in your way. However…this is farewell — and be well. Once your gents arrive, you are welcome to continue with your day, doing as you see fit. Remember me fondly." He carefully releases her hand and pulls back the effects of the Bane before then walking across the room, intending to leave the museum with his ill-gotten gains and no one the wiser. It'll be some time, after all, until someone realizes that there is a small handful missing from the pile of uncleaned coins.


|ROLL| Halgrim +rolls 1d20 for: 9


Anna-Lise does, in fact, have plenty of work to do — there's a reason she had 3 other PhDs with her, after all — and while Ambrose goes about his selection and packaging of the coins she continues to do it. Every now and then she says something to herself in Swiss German, remarking on someone's poor translation or an observation she especially likes, but that's all she says the entire time.

Then comes the Bane and another Suggestion, but this time she doesn't react to the touch so strongly. She simply turns to regard him, watching with that same dreamlike quality she evidenced before. She even blushes, just a touch, when he kisses her knuckles, and then it's gone, because the Suggestion wills it so. He quits the room, and she goes back to her notes, unaware of what's given her this brief, warm flutter in her chest.

Downstairs the museum staff have largely all arrived…and so has Halgrim, who's deep in conversation with two of them, a mug of coffee from the staff offices in one hand. He's not facing Ambrose, though, and more concerned with whatever point he's trying to make to an old, wizened man who has to be a week from retiring, if that while a young and impressionable grad student looks on with wide eyes.


With no overt motions meant to attraction attention, Ambrose continues down the hallway and towards the main staircase. He controls the pacing and tattoo of his boots upon the steps, again as not to bring anyone's eyes over but for in passing. With hands in his pockets, he's just another young would-be historian likely off on a coffee run for their higher-ups.

When he reaches the ground floor, he quickly scans the crowd and sees Halgrim. His heart kicks up into his throat and adrenaline floods him briefly with the cold kiss of lightning in his blood. Then he calms himself with long-practiced effort as he continues walking on, turning his head towards the opposite side of the room as he walks as to present an unfamiliar figure to anyone glancing his way. It's once he reaches the main doors that he pauses with hand on the handle, simply to see if Halgrim has indeed looked his way. If so, he gives the man a brief wave and bright, almost cheeky smile.


Halgrim doesn't notice Ambrose until he pauses to wave and smile. As he's still mired in an argument over the finer points of wood preservation with a man who should have retired and given his position over to someone else ten years past, Halgrim just raises his coffee mug at Ambrose in a salute and smiles in a request for pity. It's a quick gesture that only the graduate student notices, and she casts around wondering who Halgrim is gesturing at, but Halgrim has already focused on the young woman's advisor again.


|ROLL| Halgrim +rolls 1d20 for: 15


"Good luck," Ambrose mouths at him across the distance, meaning it in his heart of hearts. The young man never did anything wrong, after all, not in all of their crossings thus far over the years. Having no idea if Halgrim caught the sentiment, he intends to leave. His next step is paused as he sees the young woman make eye contact with him. He straightens a hair in place even as their eyes meet and then he gives her a small grin. Raising a finger to his lips, he mimes 'shh' before he then leans into the museum door as to exit outside and into the growing warmth of morning.


|ROLL| Halgrim +rolls 1d20 for: 12


The girl blushes, making the freckles on her tawny skin and her bright green eyes stand out starkly, and she bites her lip and quickly looks back at Halgrim and her advisor, careful not to look towards Ambrose again.

Outside it's shaping up to be a lovely day. As he moves away from the museum Ambrose can hear Rolf greet Ishmael as they meet at the door; Rolf holds the door open for Ishmael, who sweeps in with a coffee in hand and a laugh at something Rolf has said.


Walking away down the sidewalk in the sunshine, Ambrose's even footsteps pause as he hears the familiar voice. He glances over his shoulder once carefully and then his attention lingers long enough for him to pause entirely. He turns in place three-quarters, hands still in the pockets of his dark jacket. He watches the two young men banter briefly in the doorway with an expression of wistfulness…and something akin to mourning. Lips pull thin and then purse as he keeps the smile at bay. Once…once, he could have been like them.

But ah…better not to linger over that old stone again, worn nearly smooth by his mind tumbling it over and over as the ocean might the pebbles on a beach. He has a train to catch and coins to clean and then another place to travel to in the night, forever a victim of wanderlust for the safety of those around him. The Jackal then turns and pads off deeper into the city, vanishing away as he always does into the passing of time.


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