bitterguardian: (tea & books)
(Continued from here.)
Some artifacts are lost to the mists of time for good reason, and this holds even more true for items surrounded by myth and legend. Those relics built up by false legends, which only fall apart under the scrutiny of modern reason, spread disillusionment in the world. Those surrounded by real magic, on the other hand, are even more dangerous uncovered, with the inherent risk of falling into the wrong hands.

The eldest of Merlin's apprentices has been around more than long enough to know the difference, and it is the latter kind he seeks. He did not set out, long ago, to become protector to an ever-growing vault's worth of dangerous magical items, but his master entrusted him with two objects that must be closely guarded, so what difference does it make to watch over a few more? Maxim Horvath was raised to use his magic to protect humanity, from themselves, if need be. The artifact he is chasing down now he would destroy if he finds a means to do so safely. Some items have their redeeming qualities, and thus are stored and guarded, but this object can be used only for ill. It is a cup, more properly a chalice, enchanted to accept a ritual that marks a specific human target and will deliver a poisoned drink to them alone. That anyone else may drink safely, and examine the chalice without finding any trace of toxins, makes it the ideal weapon for an untraceable assassination. The design is archaic, now, but to illusion the chalice into appearing as a more modern drinking vessel would be the least of tasks for any sorcerer of merit. The chalice only came to his attention involved in rumors of a Morganian assassination plot, and while he'd prefer to keep out of world politics, Horvath feels a duty to keep the Morganian influence out of them, as well.

There are three separate reports of the last sighting of the chalice, and each one more or less rules out the other two as being plausible. With the Morganians spotted poking around two of these possibilities, and the third option out of reach, Horvath is forced to pursue all avenues. He is not without allies, but they are fewer than once they were, and he has left a handful to guard the crypt that may contain the chalice. Alone he's come to race against his enemies down the other path of possibilities, and found an unexpected assistant in Dr. Evangeline Nix. Her curiosity strikes him as both dangerous and useful, but as long as she is of aid he can hardly turn down the offer. Thus far she has gained him access to a library with some very helpful resources, and offered to use her own contacts to research the auction houses the chalice may have recently passed through, unrecognized. Horvath can only hope the Morganians have not been so lucky. A day or so later, he's agreed to meet up with Dr. Nix in a teahouse to discuss what she may have turned up. He's chosen an out-of-the-way table, and wrapped it in a subtle sound-shielding spell to prevent any potential spies overhearing, but it still makes him nervous to meet with her in public. By being seen with him, she may be put at risk, and he knows it.

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Maxim Horvath

March 2016

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