(1939-02-05) Where Shadows Gather
Details for Where Shadows Gather
Summary: Graham and Rena finally gain entrance to the Shadow Bazaar to strike a deal with the vampire, Cruentus.
Date: 5 February, 1939
Location: London Underground and The Shadow Bazaar
Related: Trouble Times Two

It took much longer than expected for the Chief Auror to acquire the train tickets. With all of the recent upset in the magical world, it seems that the underworld has been generally keeping its head low, particularly when Aurors come knocking. But Gordon Worthington is a well-connected man, and eventually came through. When he gave the tickets to Graham and Rena, his instructions were clear. "Make sure you're in the rear carriage of the train. With the ticket in hand, you're going to step off the back of the train. But if you don't want to end up a nasty stain on the tracks, be sure you do this while the train is passing between Tottenham Court and Holborn." He went over the instructions three times to be sure they understood. Then, with his well-wishes, he reminded them of how clever and dangerous Cruentus Vermilion can be, and bid them farewell, disappearing into the evening crowd of the tube station.

"I've got a very bad feeling about this," Rena remarks to Graham as she stands beside him on the train in just exactly the spot indicated by their boss. To be perfectly honest, her feet have been rooted there for a minute or so, as if she's afraid to move. The pair of Aurors are just waiting to arrive at their "stop" and make the dangerous leap of faith, as per instructions.

For her part, rather foolishly perhaps, Rena has a guilty little secret. She's already met Cruentus Vermillion, and she failed to tell her partner about the meeting. The reason why is difficult to say. She's felt a burden of anxiety since the chance encounter she had with him that evening, and for some inexplicable reason… just couldn't bring herself to tell anyone.

Graham will accept the ticket nodding to the other "Yes sir, Tottenham and Holborn." he clarifies his understanding on the matter after the clear instructions. He will turn and move finding themselves on the train a little bit after. "Yes well you'd be foolish not to, but it'll work out just keep your wits about you." he is nervous of course but it's best if he keeps his thoughts gathered instead of allowing that to take hold.

The train is, of course, packed with Muggles, most of whom are going about their usual routine, on their way home from work. They are wrapped up in conversation, or burying their loses in the London Times, a few even nap in their seats. But they are generally too preoccupied with their mundane lives to take note of the two wizards. Nor do they pay the least bit of attention to the diminutive figure against the rear wall of the carriage, wearing a child-sized overcoat and a wide-brimmed hat, under which two dark, beady eyes periodically peer up at Graham and Rena.

Sure, it'll work out just fine if they keep their wits about them. To Rena, this statement has the feel of famous last words for the history books. Her sidelong glance at Graham says just about as much without actually saying a word. However, she does her best to keep a nonchalant attitude in her demeanor.

Despite her efforts, the young woman's anxious dark eyes do catch sight of the odd figure who appears to be watching their every movement. It's difficult to force herself not to stare back in a noticeable way. A tiny nudge is given Graham's side and a delicate little point of her chin in the direction of this person before she glances away again.

He is glancing about the train and thinking about the instructions as well as what faces them should they succeed. Graham will look back to the back of the train a little if he is just wondering about the second part of the plan or looking to the strange figure who is covered with the hat underground as they are right now. He holds his ticket still in his hand though his hands are folded at the wrist which looks like a regular sitting position after all. He feels the nudge turning to the other and giving a quite small nod of his head as he has seen the other.

To the eyes of wizards, it isn't difficult to identify the small "man" as not a man at all, but a goblin — a rare sight outside of the magical world. Once it becomes evident he's been spotted, his stares become a bit more obvious, and he offers a smirk that partially bares his pointed teeth. He turns his eyes down for a moment, checking a gold pocketwatch hanging from his tiny waistcoat.

Rena swallows, forcibly maintaining her calm demeanor for the moment. A Goblin — what is he doing here? Why is he watching them? It's not as if she can even ask these questions outside of her own head. They're surrounded by Muggles, for Merlin's sake.

Graham is the senior Auror here. One questioning look is shot at the man with a tiny hint of a shrug. Are they supposed to just pretend he isn't there and leave him alone? Also, nervous as a cat, the redhead whips around to take stock of where they are. She's very worried that they will somehow miss their stop if they aren't careful. And falling off a train in the wrong place sounds infinitely worse than being splinched by accident.

Graham does peek back a moment or two not wishing really to be obvious about it. The second time he does notice not human ah a goblin, well it could be worse he supposes no dragons this time. He will tip his head towards the goblin before turning back to the other auror when the goblin looks away once again he mouths "A ticket taker of sorts?" he gives a small shrug not quite alarmed just yet however his arms are still crossed where his wand is afterall. It's best to prepare for the worst and hope for nothing to happen.

The goblin gives his pocketwatch another look, taking a moment to polish the gleaming treasure, which stands out in contrast to the generally tattered state of his clothing. He touches his fingers to the brim of his hat, nodding to the two Aurors. "I saw you speaking to Worthington," he says in a high, gravelly voice. "It doesn't take a genius to know where you're going. Did you come with an exit strategy?" The goblin arches a sharp eyebrow at them.

"I don't suppose you would 'ave any suggestions up your sleeve," Rena remarks drily with a wry smile. What little she knows of Goblins is that they are tricky, undoubtedly cleverer and faster thinking than she is — and her charm is likely to fall on stone cold hearts when dealing with them. There's no point in her trying to be clever, cute or cunning with this one.

"There's always the fast and sure way out with a crack," Rena adds calmly, pretending not to seem disconcerted, and avoiding using the word Apparition openly amongst Muggles. Again, her face takes on one of those anxious 'are we there yet?' looks.

Graham looks back to the goblin as she speaks to them nodding "I imagine it is easy enough, we arent really going to cause trouble though simply speak to someone, and slip back out." he will look to Rena a moment at her words though he will pause a moment "Any suggestions of course would be welcomed." he doesnt speak over loud no need to draw too much attention to the conversation they are having anyways.

The goblin chuckles in what he might imagine is a friendly sound, but comes out a touch cruel and sinister. "Oh, you won't get out that way," he indicates to Rena, then looks to Graham, "and you might find more awaiting you than you expect. What you need is a guide. Somebody who can help you avoid…" His little black eyes shift to a nearby Muggle, "…certain complications. It so happens that I am very familiar with your destination."

Rena is inclined to take the wheedling Goblin's word at face value. To be perfectly frank, the pair of Aurors are fish out of water, and unless their cunning companion is an outright liar, he probably is leaps and bounds ahead of them in knowledge of the underworld.

A tense look is given Graham before the young woman speaks her piece: "No doubt. But don't take me amiss, sir," she says with the utmost respect. "I don't see why you'd be doing this for some altruistic good deed. What are you expecting for your services if we accept your 'elp??" She might as well get the formalities over with quickly. The train is moving, after all.

Graham will turn to look more fully at the goblin though he's side long looking to Rena as well not wishing to miss anything there as well a look like the one he sees gets a nod he agrees they should at lease see what the other wants and decide if they are buying. She speaks about what he was going to ask though since these things aren't really ever as simple as good chums.

The goblin looks the two over with an appraising eye. "By the look of you, I'd say all you can offer is coin in the hand." He shrugs, "But coin is valuable." He leans in close to them, beckoning with one claw-like finger before whispering. "Five galleons. Each."

"Almost a whole month's wages," Rena mutters under her breath, looking less than happily at their would-be guide to the Underworld. But how much is a life worth? Or two lives, in this case. A mission like this could well cost them such a high price.

"I suppose that's the going rate," the redhead remarks drily, self-consciously slipping her left hand into her pocket. She left her opulent engagement ring at home along with the expensive necklace Takeshi bought her as a Christmas present. She planned on coming to the Bazaar without any hint of expensive goods on her person, knowing full well that she would likely be robbed of everything, short of the shirt off her back. And maybe even that…

The goblin wants coin, that is something he doesn't mind giving after all. "As long as that guarantees our safe passage to where we need to go and back out again without detour's or anything I think we have a deal." Graham will reach to his side to a pouch he sometimes wears with money in it like right now. He will remove the coins waiting for the other to agree before he will hand them over.

Those beady little black eyes widen at the sight of the gold, and his wide lips spread into a broad, hungry grin, showing off those sharp teeth. "I can only guide you away from danger. I cannot protect you. But I'll take you where you need to go, and out again." His greedy fingers wiggling invitingly to the coins.

"We can take care of ourselves," Rena says somberly; just a little hint of cocksure defensiveness in her voice. It's just an act. Anyone with much perception into human nature could easily see that her courage is paper-thin at the moment, and easily torn. "You just mind your end of the bargain and we'll be right as rain."

For a faltering instant, Rena glances over her shoulder at the train car full of Muggles. Life was so much simpler when she was one of them… or just pretending to be one of them. But, this is a time for resolve, not regrets. Her gaze returns to the Goblin: "We're in your 'ands as far as leading us in and out goes."

Graham pauses a moment at the goblins words trying to read anything in them which would allow him to betray them to others beside the one they seek to speak with or any loophole for that matter he doesn't get anything overly wrong. He will offer the gold over to the goblin. "Yes, we will take care of ourselves if you lead the way."

The goblin gathers up the coins, letting out a gravelly little chuckle. He puts the first one in his mouth, testing the metal. He doesn't bite it like a human might, but tastes it on his tongue. "Pleasure doing business with you. I'm Grank." He repeats the taste test on every coin before stowing them away inside his coat, each one seemingly going into a different pocket. He checks his pocketwatch again, nodding. "Ah. It's time." He moves to the door at the back of the carriage, pulling the latch to slide it open. It should earn a few odd looks from the nearby Muggles, but none seem to pay it any heed. Grank steps out onto the tiny ledge at the back of the train, just a few feet above the tracks whipping past at blinding speeds. He fishes a train tick from his coat, flashes a smile back at the Aurors, and steps off the ledge, falling into…nothing. There is no sickening crunch or agonizing scream. He is simply gone.

Rena opens her mouth to speak her name, but there isn't a moment to lose, apparently. Trying to look as casual as possible, the young woman gives Graham one last uncertain look before making her way to the exit opened by Grank.

Onto the tiny ledge the young woman steps, ticket clutched tightly in hand. Her coat whips around her in the wind, and her hat seems barely able to stay in place. One upward glance is cast to the heavens, and she closes her eyes. Biting her lower lip, Rena steps off the train and into nothingness. Talk about your leaps of blind faith.

The young man watches as the goblin tests each coin in turn and of course they are all good. Graham will wait a moment at the introduction he's not quite sure he should give a name but it's a moot point as he makes his way to the back and opens the door. The auror is up and moving that way he nods encouraging to Rena though she knows him well enough to see worry there likely. It's his turn then and he will follow suit.

Each Auror in turn feels that sudden gut-wrenching sensation of falling, and for a brief moment, there is nothing but the promise of a messy end a few feet below. But then there is a shift in sound, like when one steps through a door into another room, and their feet touch down on solid ground. They are standing on a crudely constructed wooden platform, set directly upon the tube tracks. But the tunnel is clearly not the one they were just passing through. Electric lights have been replaced with torches and sconces, the walls are covered in graffiti, much of it in languages such as Troll or Gobbledegook. Behind them, where there should be a long stretch of tracks, a brick wall seals the tunnel off. A wooden plank leads from the platform to the walkway at the side of the tube, where Grank waits with his hands in his pockets. "So we're here. Best you tell me what you're looking for, so I can get you in and out quickly."

While Rena is not a girl who is prone to screaming, the abrupt sensation of falling and the very human certainty that she's just stepped off into a short drop and a sudden stop wrenches a scream out of her lungs. It is a short one, though, as she finds her feet upon solid ground once more.

Graham seemingly appears right beside the poor young woman and she latches onto him instinctively for a moment, catching her breath. Realizing that she's making a spectacle of herself, Rena quickly lets go and blushes, tugging her clothing straight in a hurry. "C-cruentus," she stammers, not looking at Grank. "Cruentus Vermillion. Don't know where to find 'im, exactly…"

Graham has done many things since becoming an auror including being ambushed by dark wizards and being bitten by a dragon, this ranks just behind his trip to Azkaban on his fear-o-meter he feels the bottom drop out from the world and then suddenly he's stopped he will take a deep breath putting air back into his lungs when he's tightly hugged and it rushes back out. He understands her fear though and doesn't mind she is a good friend besides being a co-worker reaching out to steady her in return though his hands drop at the same time. "It's okay." he will say to her though his volume is lowered due to still getting a breath in, he will nod to her words about who they are looking for.

Grank's lined brow deepens into crags at the mention of the vampire information broker's name. "Vermilion? I see. I trust you will make it clear to him that our arrangement is merely a matter of providing you a guide. I have no involvement in your dealings with him." There is the unmistakable waver of fear in the goblin's voice. He beckons them along, staring off down the tunnel. "Come. He won't be difficult to find." They haven't gone far when the first of many tents, lean-tos, and hastily constructed shackes appear along the floor of the tunnel. Between them, fires blaze in barrels, where rats and other vermin cook on spits. A menagerie of Beings, from witches and wizards, to goblins, to hags, and more seem to populate this little shanty town. But Grank seems unconcerned with it, walking right on by. His destination seems to be ahead, where the tunnel opens up into a tube station. Already, the sounds of sellers hawking their wares, arguments over prices, and the hustle and bustle of business being done can be heard echoing through the underground.

Rena's own dark eyes show bewilderment at her surroundings, but they also mirror the fear in Grank when Cruentus is being discussed. Graham will undoubtedly remember how overconfident she was with regards to the vampire in their initial meeting with the chief. Every shred of that arrogance seems to be gone. It's almost as if she actually knows what they're in for now.

Staying close to the senior Auror, Rena's footsteps hastily follow the Goblin as they make their way through the Bazaar. Even the darker side of London wasn't like this. She looks so small and out of place down here.

Graham brushes himself off lightly before he will begin to follow the goblin through the beginning of the underground. He is glancing about but not really in an investigative way not wanting to draw to much attention to their little party. "No we'll make it known you are only guiding us there and back again." (haha) he assures the goblin, before looking to the other at his side she is getting a look over "You okay Rena?" he possibly thinks she's still suffering from the effects of the fall.

Upon entering the bazaar proper, the trio's senses are assaulted by the shouts and chatter, the smells of Merlin-knows-what, the buffeting of passing patrons. Not three strides in front of them, a wiry-limbed pickpocket is caught trying to lift something from a troll's belt. The troll whirls and roars angrily at the little man, lifting its fist to pound him. But in an instant, a dozen wands are drawn and pointed at the stupid creature…which has enough brains to realise when it is entirely outmatched. The thief scampers off, and only when the troll sits, dejected, to the bazaar's other inhabitants settle. "Shadow Bazaar justice in action," Grank comments. "Keep it in mind." Navigating the bazaar isn't so simple as moving from point A to point B. The narrow passages between rows of stalls form a twisting, serpentine labyrinth.

"Fine!" Rena answers Graham's concerned question quickly off the mark — probably too quick. "Sure as sure — never better," a little unnerved smile is given. Little Miss Lee is a shit liar.

Fortunately, the incident between the pick-pocket and troll happens soon afterward, hopefully distracting Graham from thinking anything of her nervous demeanor. For her part, she hasn't time to focus on it. Several Goblins have already given her a very unsettling once over as they passed by, almost seeming to sniff something on the young woman. She's used to staring audience eyes, but this is intimidating beyond measure. Maybe having a chat with Cruentus alone won't be so bad after all.

The young man cannot help but watch the various peoples and shops and things, but Graham is still listening the others words give him a raised eyebrow in confusion doesnt take a good auror to tell a lie when it's as obvious as all this, but the exact reasoning behind it that's harder to lock down since there's so much here which can cause that. "I see, well it's very interesting for certain." he replys to the goblin.

Along the winding path, Grank stops to speak with a hag, then one-eyed half-giant, and finally a Dark wizard with a severe penchant for wearing black. Giving the Aurors a reassuring nod, he leads the Aurors back toward another section of tracks, where the only two train coaches in the station are parked. Attached to the outside of the coaches is a carved wooden sign depicting six mangled bodies laid out in a circle. Grank gestures to the door of the makeshift pub, "He's in there. If it's all the same, I'll wait out here."

Instead of the nervous energy one might expect to see in Rena after months of waiting to reach this point the Initiate looks like she's about to enter a Wake.

For a moment, her dark eyes somberly pass over the sign, and she draws a heavy breath to steady and calm her nerves. Turning to Grank, Rena offers a very weak but appreciative smile and says: "Thanks, Mister Grank." He did his part thus far. He's brought them to their destination, apparently. It only seems right to thank him… even if she did slip in a very Mugglish "Mister."

Swallowing hard, Rena casts her glance upon Graham and mounts the step of the train car. "Nothing for it, yea?"

Graham going through the series of contacts if you will to try and reach where they are headed is enough to make anyone dizzy and disoriented. The young man's nerves are temporarily relaxed as they reach somewhere at least. It's now anticipation which builds almost as bad really. "Thank you, we'll be brief as we're able." he will change course but pauses at the steps. "Perhaps not, but no reason to jump on the first offer given hm?" he will say once she moves inside he'll follow along sticking by her side for the moment.

The interior of the coaches has been largely gutted and refurbished into a traditional pub appearance, right down to the wood used to resemble support beams along the walls. One end of the carriage they've entered has been converted into a modest bar, where an old witch with a crooked mouth pours a drink for a surly looking house-elf. The patrons, seated at various tables, do not look up at the newcomers' arrival — tending to their own quiet conversations, or simply ignoring them — except one. Sitting alone at the far end of the carriage, a gaunt, pale figure lifts his bloodshot eyes to the Aurors, and gives them a cold smile. He gestures invitingly to the chairs at his table, and watches them, waiting.

Try not to look as out of place as you feel. Easier said than done…

Rena's eyes pass over the whole of the bar fleetingly. Her mannerisms are very like a small, fidgety bird who's just hopped herself into a place she knows she oughtn't be; and yet, she just boldly keeps moving along. It doesn't take long for her to spot Cruentus, especially now that she knows his face. Her gaze locks onto the Vampire, and she draws herself up to her full and terribly unimpressive height with resolve. Somehow, it's easier to just focus on him than to worry about anyone else in the bar who may or may not be watching.

Walking bravely toward Cruentus now, Rena actually manages to flash that pretty smile of hers. Quietly, she murmurs with a faint nod: "Good evening, Sir."

The auror looks about the place a moment as he gets an idea of his surroundings. Graham does spot the one they have come to see he will glance to the other auror beside him before he begins his walk over towards the informant. It's hard to say what it is that makes him uneasy an otherwoldly appearance or just the atmosphere but he is not exactly feeling comfortable and less so as he gets closer and closer. He will take a proper calming breath before they arrive however "Mr Vermilion." he will greet the other a nod given he'll let Rena sit first before he will join her.

Cruentus meets Rena's smile with one of his own, showing off his oversized fangs. "Miss Lee…and Mr. Cohen," he says in an accent of no specific origin, but with strong Eastern European overtones. "I wondered when I might be seeing you here. I am pleased to see that you have made it this far. Do sit down. Tell me what I can help you with." In this close proximity, one can first smell the perfumes wafting from Cruentus, but they do not successful mask the stale scent of death.

Perhaps the anticipation was the worst part of this ordeal. Everything seems to be light and friendly now — at least, as far as things can be in a place like this when dealing with Vampires.

Rena takes the seat, still keeping her focus respectfully on Cruentus. Being meek and courteous with him might make things go smoother in the long run. He seemed to like the woman being defiant with him in the Drunken Dragon. Could be he'll dislike her for being so humble: "Please, sir, Graham and I are both 'ere on sort of the same mission. But it's my job to ask you about a man named Marvin Cooley - a 'snitch' I think is the word, who passed some very bad information to Auror Esmeralda Abbott. I need to find 'im and talk to 'im. Find out where 'e got this information from."

Graham will move and sit down if he picks up the scent he's not going to show it unless he has to. The other worldly aura seems stronger the words and his old world accent. He will nod to the man "Thank you." he looks to Rena and it seems she will ask her question first he nods after she's spoken he will pose his as well a package deal or at least get it in the open. "I am looking for someone by the name of Rolo Gastley, he went to ground but has information for a case."

Cruentus takes up a goblet before him, sipping at its contents. "Mmmhmmm. Right to business. Just what I would expect. So, each of you seeks someone that has proven difficult to find. Naturally, I can help you. But nothing in this world is free, I am sure you know."

Rena's shoulders begin to sink slightly. She had been sitting up straight as a ramrod, prim and proper, bold as a brass monkey. Now, the hopefulness has slipped out of her eyes, and she deflates like a small balloon. The payment is what she's been dreading thinking about. She didn't bring anything valuable with her, and they've already spent a large amount of money on safe passage to reach Cruentus.

Rena's hands are folded in her lap, and her gaze finally wavers and drops away from the Vampire to look down at them. "Yes, sir — I know," she replies at length.

The auror will look from the other beside him and back across the table to the vampire. Graham allows the silence to remain until the other speaks he will nod in understanding "Of course, but I'm sure we can come up with something which both sides can agree on." he will say though since they are on the informants turf if you will, he'll let him begin. The young man looks sidelong to his friend before his focus is fully back on the informant.

Cruentus chuckles at some private joke, nodding. "We shall see if you are prepared to meet my price. I can put you in contact with both of these men. In fact…you will not find either without me, I assure you. The question is, what will you pay for this information? Ah, forgive me, I nearly forgot. Miss Lee, I heard such interesting news about you and this beau of yours. I offer congratulations."

"It's part of the deal you 'ave with the Ministry, ain't it?" Rena asks quietly with regard to the payment, still looking down. He's an informant, a trusted one, but he doesn't work for free. Even the Devil must be given his due. "We 'ave to meet your price if we can, sir."

Cruentus' remark about Takeshi causes Rena's cheeks to turn bright red. Her head comes up once more and her eyes meet the Vampire's immediately. "I… th-thank you." She answers, her expression very uncertain. "What 'ave you 'eard, though?" She draws up the courage to ask, though frankly, she's afraid to. Hopefully he just means that he knows of the engagement.

Graham listens to the informant as he speaks about the two figures they seek, at the words about not finding them he wonders how this can be but will go under the assumption that it is true for now at least. He listens between the two they dont speak like those who met for the first time but it could be just information the vampire has already gotten. He will wait to hear the response it would seem before he continues with the payment talk.

"I have no deal with the Ministry," Cruentus explains. "If a few Ministry workers choose to do business with me, I welcome it. But I try to avoid any sort of official arrangement. I like to think of every new transaction as something unique. For instance, this Rolo Gastley. A very unique situation, no? He might be the only person alive with the information you desire. As it happens, there is something I desire very much. I am sure that I do not have to explain to you my…dietary needs. But one cannot subsist on just anyone. One must have taste, after all." He sighs wistfully, smiling at Rena. "I tell you, there is nothing quite as sweet as the blood of a red haired woman." His eyes shift to Graham. "A red haired Irishwoman."

Rena listens to Cruentus with a healthy measure of anxiety — and justly so. He's a dangerous, otherworldly creature and much to be feared.

His remark about the blood of a red haired woman causes the colour to rise even more. Now she feels dizzy… But then, his gaze swiftly moves to Graham, and he specifies an Irishwoman. That woozy feeling goes away in an instant, and she blinks, sitting up straight once more. She isn't Irish! Not that she knows of anyway. She could almost laugh with relief, but she maintains control of her expression as best she can. Rena is off the hook!

The auror is listening about not having a deal with the ministry and only helping case by case as it were he nods. Graham understands this to be effective as an information broker he cant have too many ties which would restrict him from selling what he knows. He is waiting after the talk of diet and the blood of a red haired woman. He is about to answer that when the vampire specifies Irish and this really can only point to one person. It's a near thing but he remembers a conversation way back when with the chief and so it's just a deep breath. His voice isn't as cool but near it. "I know of only one such woman, but I'm afraid she's out of town." it's no lie on his face. He is silent hesitating as if he doesn't want to offer the next thing which comes to mind wincing even. "Perhaps an exchange of information?" he finally says.

Cruentus lets out a dramatic sigh, clicking his tongue. "That is a shame, Mr. Cohen. I had my heart set on that, and I can be so intractable. I fear your information would have to be deeply valuable to interest me enough to change my mind." He arches an eyebrow, focusing his reddened gaze intently on Graham. "Do you possess such valuable information? Something that I can suitably profit from to make me forget my longing?"

"I don't doubt I do have information which could fit that criteria, but perhaps it would shorten things if you had something in mind? I could then decide if it's my information to bargain with or if i'll need to make other arrangements." Graham says looking across the table after his words are spoken.

"Mr. Cohen. You come to me wanting something, and you do not have an offer for me? I am disappointed." Cruentus tut-tuts. "But, as it happens, there is something I might be interested in that I believe you can acquire. There is a document, kept secure in the office of the Chief Auror. There is a name upon that document. I would like to know this name…without Chief Worthington being alerted to my knowledge of it. If you could do this…then I might be distracted enough to forget my yearning for a taste of Irish."

Graham shifts slightly at the words of the vampire he did find the one thing that's non negotiable for the auror. He will look across the table as he speaks again about what he would like to have in replacement. Is this worse? The chief knows how this works and the Vengals are a much larger threat in this case, but he has Rena here what message is he sending? With a gulp he'll nod "I can get it." he will agree to these terms.

All this time while Graham negotiated with Cruentus, Rena has kept silent. Her keen dark glance has gone back and forth between the two of them, watching and listening. The request made by the Vampire causes her no little surprise, but then again she was told not to be shocked by exorbitant requests for payment. All in all, information doesn't sound nearly as bad as blood letting!

Still visibly relieved to be let off the hook as far as her own blood goes, the young redhead can't help but offer a nervous smile within the lull of silence between the trio. "Well then, that's all settled. Graham will get the name, and you'll give the information," she says brightly. "And everybody's 'appy." This is going so much better than she hoped for.

Cruentus presses his cold hands together, as if in prayer. "Not…so…fast. That is my price to put you in a room with Rolo Gastley. There is still the matter of your Mr. Marvin Cooley. I can tell you where to find him. But there is something I desire for this, as well." His crimson-stained eyes focus on Rena, widening with a subtle kind of hunger.

Graham wasnt sure it'd be that easy to get both bits of information for one price, but it could be hoped a least. It seems he's wrong as the vampire looks to the other auror and speaks of a price he will clear his throat slightly "So she can have a moment to think of what price will work." he will say wishing for her to be able to sort her thoughts first. "What is the name pertaining to? So I know I have the correct information?"

"You will receive a letter at your office with the pertinent information," Cruentus explains. "You will record the name I desire on that letter, and send it back to a recipient that will be designated at that time."

Too quick off the mark again. Rena was almost hoping to get up from her chair and take her leave without any further ado. But then, Cruentus reminds her that the payment negotiated thus far was only for one of the individuals they seek.

Slowly shrinking down, Rena sinks back into her seat, and looks very small once again. Trying hard not to let the worry show, she meets his gaze boldly and asks in a small voice: "What do you want from me?"

The auror will listen to the instructions from the other he'll nod in understand "I will be looking for your note, and will get you the information you seek. In return for speaking with Mr Gastley of course." it was understood but it's of course great to not allow these things to just get confused and something gets forgotten. Graham is silent though as the two now speak of the price for her information he seems more concerned on this front then with his own price.

Cruentus gives Rena a smile that could be endearing on the face with colour. But when his dry, white skin pulls back, there is no warmth there. There is no sign of a human depth of emotion — only the cold, soulless void behind his eyes. "Your impending nuptials have inspired me. They remind me of my living days when I, too, loved another so deeply. So moved am I that I wish to have a token of the engagement. A way for me to think fondly on it, and in so doing, offer my blessing." His eyes shift pointedly down to her bare hands, then back to her face. "Your ring."

All of Rena's meekness washes out of her face, just as the colour drains from her cheeks. Instinctively, her right hand catches up her left and holds it to her chest with a sharp intake of breath. This time, she is out of her chair and on her feet with fire in her dark eyes: "I won't do it! Not for all the false stories trying to get my sympathy." Contempt flares up in her demeanor. She has absolutely no leg to stand on in this place — this is not her territory. "I wouldn't ask your blessing if the King 'imself told me to fetch it."

The outburst draws a few eyes from the other patrons of the Six in a Circle. At least one Dark-looking wizard's hand goes under his cloak, eyeing Rena and Graham warily.

Graham watches in silence he is in turmoil but it's not the time for this, he is known for being an upright auror and person and he's agreed to steal something from the chief auror's office. He is still paying attention and the price which is asked he knows is steep, though he isn't expecting the leap out of her chair. The auror is able to take in the surroundings he will stand reaching over to the others shoulder and leans in to speak to her in a whisper so only she may hear. If he notices the dark wizard he will only give a small shake of his head as if to say 'hey it's not an issue.'

Cruentus's face may as well be carved of stone, for all the reaction he gives to Rena's (justifiably) shocked response. He simply nods, unblinking, and folds his hands together upon the table. "I understand. It is a shame that we could not do business." He inclines his head to Graham, "Mr. Cohen, you will be hearing from me."

The anxious onlooker nods to Graham, slowly removing his hand from his cloak. But his eyes remain fixed on the two Aurors.

Realizing that she's failing at her job (again) and obviously drawing unwanted attention from the onlookers within the bar, Rena lapses into an uneasy silence. Graham's hand is on her shoulder, and his whisper is heard. But the anxiety on the young woman's features does not simply fade away. She can't and won't sacrifice anything to do with Takeshi.

For a moment, Rena struggles within herself. It's hard to find her voice again, but she lays her hand on the table and says unhappily, at last: "I'll give you anything you want — short of my life."

The young man's words are sincere and he hopes that she remembers them from a long ago meeting. Graham will not expect her to sit after the outburst but at least it looks like she may be in control once more or so he hopes at least not wishing to have to fight there way out of here and back out again. It's not his place to make offers here and so he can only try and be supportive. It's as she speaks again that inside his stomach drops at this non-negotiation technique. The words are cast down and really no taking them back now "I believe a mutually beneficial agreement can be made." he will say, though it may do no good. He can only wait and watch until the reply.

Cruentus frowns, tut-tutting. "My dear Miss Lee, I would never ask for your life. I am a civilised vampire. But…the promise of anything. That is a tempting offer." His eyes dart to Graham, then back to Rena. "I do not know what I would ask for. But if you give me your word that when I do ask for it, it will be given without question, then I know we can strike a bargain."

"Even monkeys fall from trees…"

Rena murmurs under her breath, looking rather stunned and numb, by her expression. She can barely be heard. Takeshi's comforting words echo in her mind now as she realizes that she's just probably made another horrible mistake. What she wouldn't give to be able to bury her face in her arms on the table now and sob. There's no knowing what Cruentus will ask of her — or when, or how dire the request will be when it comes.

"You 'ave my word." Rena answers quietly, eyes downcast. "I got myself into this mess." She adds quickly, for Graham's benefit. The Devil must be paid his due.

Graham can only stand and listen back and forth, he feels responsible even if it doesn't make a lick of sense for Rena's safety he brought her into things and now she's here and in danger. It's the job of course but right where they are it's not exactly top of his list to be thinking about. The informants words are harder then they may seem about asking anything just about of Rena but it may be something they can deal with another time. "Thank you Mr Vermilion." he says a nod of his head to the information broker. The auror glances to his side where Rena looks at him. He will offer a reassuring half smile he's still here by her side.

"Then our pact is sealed," Cruentus says with a tone of finality. "And here is your purchased information. The Marvin Cooley you seek is dead. That isn't even his real name, of course. He was born Marvin Crawley. Six years ago, he ran afoul of a vampire — not a relation of mine, I assure you. He was bled dry, and buried in a shallow grave in the Forest of Dean. I could point you to the location if you like."

Rena wants to bury her face in her hands still. Despair is all she can feel now. She has no idea what she's done But then again, Cruentus explains the fate of Mister Cooley, leaving her wide-eyed and dumbstruck for an instant. Her gaze darts between Graham and the Vampire and back again before she exclaims: "She lied. Esmeralda — Ms. Abbott lied! She couldn't have gotten that information from Cooley about you. 'E was already dead." Her voice is tense and tight, but also low enough to maintain control.

Remembering herself again, Rena turns to Cruentus with an excited, but respectful nod: "Thank You Mister Vermillion!"

So much for worries?

Graham will listen to the information given by the vampire and his eyes widen and okay he cant help but let the itty bitty start of a smirk come to his face, which is a trick of the light of course as it's gone a moment later. He will look to Rena at her words "Yes well, guilty men rarely hand over their wands to deescalate a situation." he of course knew he'd done nothing wrong. It's with another small bow to the vampire before he'll begin his escape. "I will look forward to your letter so that I can meet the other." he doesn't wish to speak to loud in the room, before he'll begin his way out hopefully with Rena there too.

Cruentus smiles broadly to Rena, showing off his fangs as if a reminder that he is, indeed, a monster. "Of course, you must prove that he is truly dead. There is no record of his passing." He withdraws a compact quill and small notebook from his coat. Jotting down a set of numbers, coordinates by the look of them, he rips out the page and offers it to Rena. "The site of his grave, assuming the beasts of the forests have not dug it up by now. Good luck to the both of you. We will be on contact…soon." He smiles, rising briefly to see them off.

The paper is taken from Cruentus, and his be-fanged smile is not lost on the young woman. However, she's already shot up from the depths of despair to cloud nine. Her big, cheery smile is flashed again, and she seems to feel nothing but utter elation at having received the information to further the case. "Thanks again, sir! Erm… I'm sure you'll figure out where to find me if you want to collect." She lives in Diagon Alley, after all.

"Forest of Dean, eh?" Rena says in low to Graham, a hand placed on his arm. "Oh dear," she suddenly realizes with a frown. "I shall 'ave to bring a shovel."

The additional information brings pause to him though he will simply turn back "Thank you again."Graham will say though he cannot help but look over to Rena a moment at her words "Or a wand or both yes." though it's been a stressful day no doubt he cannot help giving her a smile and a roll of his eye she still seems so unphased by all of this. He will pat her hand lightly "Lets get some grub and a drink first hm?" he says making their way towards the door for the moment.

Outside the carriage, Grank waits as promised. Sometime during their meeting with Cruentus, he exchanged his wide-brimmed hat for a tattered top hat. As soon as he sees the Aurors, he beckons them to follow him. "Word has gotten around that the M.L.E. might have gotten spies into the Bazaar," he says, his words laden with hidden meaning. "You two had better come with me before you get pinched." Already, the goblin is heading off to a narrow space between two stalls, starting on a path through the market that would otherwise have been invisible if one didn't already know it was there. Eventually they emerge near a door in the station wall, marked: STORAGE. Into the darkness beyond, once the door shuts behind them, another opens, spilling out light from the Holborn tube station. Grank doesn't even wait for a goodbye, and has disappeared back into the darkness without a word, the door clacking shut after him.

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