Snippet #2769175

located in Steampowered London - 1885, a part of Death Comes to London, one of the many universes on RPG.

Steampowered London - 1885

A metropolis of clockwork and steam.

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Character Portrait: Ephraim Ramsey Character Portrait: Beatrix Castine
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London - Red Moon Cabaret Club
June 30, 1885 - 20:00 p.m. - Rain
Ephraim Ramsey


Ephraim paused to hang his hat on an empty hook at the front of the Red Moon, casting his eyes over the room. Though this was just nearing the beginning of peak hours for the establishment, he knew there would not be a large crowd tonight. It was raining, and besides that it was a week night, which always meant less business, considering how many of Liang's regulars had to work early the next morning.

He took his customary seat at the usual table, ordering only a glass of whiskey from the waitress. Jezebel, tonight; someone who liked to wear a rather blasphemous name boldly. No doubt she like many of those who worked here was none too fond of the Church.

He found the specific person he was looking for at another table, apparently reading the fortune of a guest. Miss Castine looked to be comfortable, and in her element. He of course did not disturb her, though he did make brief eye contact and nod, so that she would know he was present. If she did not desire to speak with him or was too busy, that was of course her own business.

As it was, she spotted him and smiled brightly in his direction. She continued with her fortune, finishing it up with a small flourish as the person she was entertaining, clapped softly. They seemed satisfied with whatever she'd told them, and she seemed to excuse herself. Once she was closer to Ephraim, she waved cheerfully and slid into the open seat in front of him.

“Mr. Ramsey!" she greeted, still wearing the smile on her face. It wasn't quite like Charlotte's, innocent, but it was, nonetheless, genuine. “What brings you here?" she asked, tilting her head slightly.

Somehow he hadn't quite been expecting the direct query. Ephraim blinked, then lifted his shoulders in an approximation of a human shrug. A strange piece of gestural communication that his kind were not natively socialized to use. He still had to think about them, sometimes.

When Jezebel returned with his glass and a smile, he nodded his thanks to her, and tilted it slightly towards Miss Castine in the air. "A few things. This is one of them." Typically he did not have much fondness for spirits, but some of them had an appealing enough taste. Even though he could not himself become intoxicated by them.

"You seem to be settling in well," he observed, studying the pattern of her clothing for a moment. It was certainly more well-made than what she'd worn for circus purposes, but then Liang was herself a gifted tailor and would have insisted upon as much. "Is it to your liking?"

She smiled a little ruefully, but nodded her head. “Miss Liang has been a wonderful host," she began, folding her hands out in front, but keeping them tucked closely to her. “And I do like it here," she continued, but it was obvious enough in the tone of her voice that she wasn't quite used to it. She kept her gaze focused on her hands, and the smile on her lips was nothing more than a thin line, now.

“I suppose in any new environment, I still have a lot of adjusting to do," she stated, finally lifting her eyes to meet his. “But I have you, Miss Amelia, Mr. Khalil, and Miss Charlotte to thank for that, especially you," the smile returned to her face at that statement. “I wouldn't have had a place if it weren't for you speaking to Miss Liang."

She was factually correct on this point, of course. But he wasn't sure her implications were entirely apropos, and considered his next words while he took a slow sip from the glass. As usual, his lenses stopped the presence of his death clock, and so he was not distracted reading the numbers associated with anyone he saw. It was a hard habit to break, and one he found made interacting with humans and their ilk... strange, in a certain way.

He'd seen hers; he just didn't really want to know if it changed. It might well have—her life was no doubt on an entirely new trajectory now.

"Would you do a reading for me?" he asked, tilting his chin at her deck. Perhaps unlike other customers who asked the same question, he did so in full seriousness and with a respect for the gift that would ensure her answers meant something.

“Of course," she replied, holding out the deck in front of her as her eyes narrowed slightly in delight. “It's the least I can do for you after all you've done for me," she continued as she shuffled the deck. She stopped suddenly, though, and glanced back up at him.

“Oh, but what kind of reading would you like, Mr. Ramsey?" she asked, tilting her head with the query. “Many of the patrons here like to know what their love life looks like. I hardly ever get requests for their future, in general," she stated, her nose scrunching slightly at the previous statement. It seemed she found some humor in it all.

He gave this a moment's consideration. Not between the options presented—the idea that he should ask about romantic prospects verged on unintelligible, as he was a demon of all things—but between a few he'd had in mind.

"I'm... looking for something," he said after a long moment. It was not something he'd ever told anyone else on this plane, and even what he could say now would be by necessity vague. "I cannot name it, exactly, because I do not know what it is. I am unsure if you would be able to work with something so unclear even to me. If not, I suppose a read of the future would suffice instead."

Miss Castine hummed softly for a moment, and remained fixed on Ephraim. It was as if she were studying him for something else, some underlying factor of some sort. “Given its nature," she began, her eyes going back to the tarot deck, “I don't think I can be of much use, however; I might be able to give you some insight if it's something you focus on as I divine your future."

She continued to shuffle the deck until she was, apparently satisfied. “Focus on what it is you are looking for as you cut the deck. Also," she paused, briefly meeting his gaze. “If you have something personal, something that you think might be of future help or use, can you place it in the center of the table?" she asked.

“It'll help with my focus," she added, handing the tarot deck to Ephraim.

Ephraim didn't make a habit of attaching sentiment to objects, an extension of his general tendency not to attach sentiment to anything. But if it would help, he supposed the closest thing he had was in fact on hand. Reaching into the pocket of his waistcoat, he withdrew a pocketwatch, the silvered face of its cover engraved with the same ornate cross as he sometimes wore on the lapel of his coat.

It was, properly speaking, the Gehennan Cross, though as with many other symbols from before the time of Unification, the Church of the One had appropriated devices that looked similar enough that it was easily mistaken for an expression of mainstream religious faith.

Never mind that it really symbolized something so much older and realer than anything a priest could conjure for the masses.

He set it carefully on the table, detaching the chain from his pocket as well and then cutting the deck.

Where can I find the thing that disturbs the balance?

Once he handed the deck back to Miss Castine, she shuffled it once more. She drew a card and placed it near his pocket watch, a frown adorning her lips. She drew another one, and placed it beside the first card, and repeated the process until she had six cards drawn. She seemed confused about something, and her brows furrowed deeply.

“I don't... understand," she mused out loud, though it seemed like something she was thinking about rather than speaking to Ephraim. “What you seek isn't here," she began, tilting her head in confusion as she continued to stare at the cards. “But at the same time, it's close by. It's almost as if you're in the right place, but it's not quite here, in this time."

She finally glanced up at Ephraim, her head still tilted in a confused manner. Her eyes narrowed slightly at him before they seemed to gloss over. She remained that way for a few minutes before she finally blinked. Her eyes fell to her hands before she glanced away from him. “I'm not sure what time it could be in, though. It's not entirely clear."

"That's fine," Ephraim said, shaking his head faintly. "If it is not now, it is later. If it had already been, we would know." He did not specify who the we was; he hadn't even meant to say it as such.

"Have you any hint as to its nature?"

She shook her head. “I'm afraid I don't, but," she paused, chewing the bottom of her lip with uncertainty. “It... might be connected to someone you know," she finally spoke after a brief period of silence. “I didn't see who it was, but it's someone close to you. If not now, sometime in the near-future," she continued, her brows smoothing out slightly.

Someone he already knew. If true, that narrowed the field considerably, though 'related' was a very vague word. Still, he appreciated that her art was not a science, and only nodded slightly in return. "That in itself is very helpful, thank you."

Turning slightly, he caught Jezebel's eye and motioned slightly towards Miss Castine. If he was going to keep her here, he might as well at least provide a glass of whatever she liked to drink, alcohol or otherwise. The Red Moon also served an extensive collection of teas, coffees, and fruit juices, though as far as he knew, the last were typically mixed with the intoxicants.

She fidgeted in her seat a moment, the frown on her face no longer there, and replaced with something more curiosity than anything. “If I may say, Mr. Ramsey," she spoke, glancing in Jezebel's direction when she'd arrived. “Oh, maybe some jasmine tea, please," she stated before Jezebel had a chance to ask. She returned her attention to Ephraim, afterwards, and smiled somewhat.

“This person... that you're close to. They... don't mean any harm, but I think they're just lost. Confused, maybe, so... when the time comes," she paused, taking in a deep breath before she continued, “don't be too harsh with them. You'll have new friends, by then; people whom you'll trust and will trust you. One in particular who will be... I don't know the right word for it."

“Important? Friend? Something like that. They will help you through this if you let them."

His brows furrowed slightly, but Ephraim nodded anyway. He would take the words along with the others, and perhaps in time their meaning would become clear.

Jezebel returned with the tea, and he remained silent long enough for her to place it down and depart before he thinned his lips thoughtfully and finally responded. "I will bear this in mind, but the nature of the issue is—" He shook his head. He shouldn't say more. While Miss Castine was clearly aware of things beyond human ken, and no violation of the First Law was entailed by speaking to her of these matters, the First Law was not the only thing to consider here.

She smiled at him, though. “It's okay, Mr. Ephraim, I understand. It means a lot that you will at least heed the words. Whether or not you are allowed much freedom to make your own choice... I suppose it'll be enough." She took the cup that had been placed before her, and took a drink, the smile still on her face when she set it back down.

“Besides, if anything else comes up, I will let you know. Reading tarot is not the only gift I have, remember?" she stated cheerfully. “If I happen to see anything, you'll be the first to know. Although," she trailed off at the end, pursing her lips together slightly. “I don't know how inclined you may be, but, if there is something of personal value to you, other than this pocket watch, it might help focus my visions on the particular subject of what you're searching for. Only if you're able to, Mr. Ephraim."

Ephraim frowned slightly, picking up the watch. He depressed the trigger on top, opening the cover to reveal a cracked glass face. It still kept the time faithfully, though the numerals along the perimeter of the face were none a human would recognize, and it was not tracking a twenty-four hour day divided into seconds and minutes and hours. Instead there were a half-dozen hands, each currently oriented in a slightly different direction.

He closed it back over and replaced it in his pocket. "I own nothing else of personal value, Miss Castine," he replied simply. This was the one item that was always on him; nothing else would have near its psychic significance, not even one of his weapons, which he had not brought to the Red Moon. Liang was not particularly fond of them.

“That's okay, Mr. Ephraim," she replied, taking another sip of her tea. “The offer still remains: if I see anything, I'll let you know. Oh, also," she stated, setting the tea cup down and wrapping her hands around it. “I know I've probably said it too many times, but... thank you." She kept his gaze for a moment, the force of her smile narrowing her eyes a bit.

“I don't think I would have made it much longer without your help," she continued, though she didn't elaborate on what she meant by that. “You're a really nice person."

He was quite ready to nod and accept her thanks—unnecessary as he found them—but when she ended, he frowned outright. Nice was not a word anyone had ever used to describe him before. He tried to decide what part of him qualified and decided she must simply be speaking from her sense of gratitude.

Draining the last of his glass, he set it down with care, disinclined to damage Liang's table. "You are welcome," he said simply.