Salem's condo was fairly easy to find, once the others had the address. It wasn't registered under his name, but the building itself was fairly nice. The doorman was a normal sleeper, and his apartment was on the 18th floor of the building. Once you were on the right hallway, and knew what to look for, his wards stuck out like a shining banner. The knocking code was simple - 3 fast, hold for one second, two slow.
Salem answered the door himself, smiling and stepping back to wave to the condo, silenced pistol in that hand, "Welcome to my humble abode. I was doing a little cleaning, so please mind the firearms. I haven't had a chance to get them all put away yet."
The inside of the place was nice, well decorated with relatively expensive furniture- probably more thanks to Lilah than Salem. A single balcony window was draped over with heavy cloth opposite of the door, with a small kitchen just near it. There were six fire arms in various states of disassembly, and a large vault-looking safe on the wall with a keypad lock. An archway on one side and a door were also visible- the living spaces, one would presume, and the lab.
Mirv watched the gun with a raised eye-brow. "Interesting greeting, will I have to get used to that?"
The Guardian took in the decoration -"humble, my ass" - and took a closer look at the firearms, trying if he could identify them with his meager knowledge. He appreciated the security measures. Could get used to that.
His growing grin was accompanied with an easygoing "So, you gonna give me the tour or what?"
Lilah had entered behind Mirv, kicked off her shoes and looked over the guns then she had looked to Salem. Lilah shut the door behind her and then turned the locks so everything was back in place once more. "Hi guys!" Before she moved towards them, hands in her back pockets.
Salem took a step back as they came in, chuckling "Only until you get the key for the locks and wards. Then you just have to deal with me periodically pointing a gun at you when the door opens. I promise you won't die, and if you do, it won't stick."
The moros waved around, "Kitchen, living area. The window leads out onto a balcony, but please keep the shade down if you aren't out there for good reason. To me left your right," he turned and waved to the door, [color=#0066ff]"Is the lab. I've got one cadaver and a few metal samples. I don't stock too much in the fridge normally, nor do I really cook much, but your welcome to use the kitchen if you want."
Salem passed through the archway, and into another small living are with a pool table, an oversized flat screen TV, and a cabinet containing gaming systems- all of them. Completely out of place and sitting on one corner of the same cabinet set was a small bottle containing a perfectly preserved baby shark, not more than a foot long. The walls had more than a few decorative swords, axes, and knives- which could be easily turned to real use in the hands of a matter caster.
The kitchen had been removed and there was another large draped off balcony, "Our secondary living area. The bedroom on the right is yours, and the door on the left leads to uh," he shrugged, and gave Lilah a quick smile, [color=#0066ff]"Ours, I suppose. Anyway, I converted the third bedroom into a safe room. Reinforced door frame, just like the lab and the front door, and I have a second gun safe in there just waiting to be filled. I've also taken the time to throw some MREs in it, but I haven't really stocked it up with much else yet, or done any additional wards. Please feel free to speak up if you think of anything else we can add. I was thinking we could also put some shelving in maybe, and make it a library. Not sure yet, honestly."
The arrow made a wave again, "It's modest, in a nice sort of way. Lilah has made me get furniture that's more functional than the fancy stuff I had before. I will admit some of it is a little more comfortable."
At the notion of this stuff being less fancy then the rest, the mostly spartanicly living Guardian shook his head. "Would you look at that", he thought,"a luxury-loving Arrow. And I thought I had seen it all!"
Lilah moved along behind Mirv, she already knew where everything was and kind of what the plan was. When he called it "our" bedroom she grinned at Salem, nobody but the two of them would ever know how big a deal that was.
Lilah rolled her eyes at his comment "Not my fault you never even sat on those Barbie couches you called furniture before. I mean they were beautiful to look at but sitting on, trust me Mirv... he needed to go shopping for his own sake." Cooking, well, he was doing more than that. There was more than pizza boxes in the fridge. "I can do the shopping, if you both want for the first while. Since my schedule is the most stable for days.. I like cooking so there will always be stuff cooked in the fridge. Don't need either of you starving or living off pizza and donuts, yeah?" Lilah shrugged, she was basically doing it now for the most part, though dragging Salem along was always fun.
"How....reassuring" he said with a wry grin, turning to greet Lilah. "Also Hi there Lilah. Nice place you got here, though you should be more careful with letting your pet arm himself."
At the kitchen comment, he simply chuckled. Well, started to chuckle, it turned into a full-blown laugh he quickly which suffocated with a coughing "No, no thank you, I'm good."
The TV made him wrinkle his eyebrows for a moment, but the moment quickly passed when he noticed the gaming systems. "Nice" he thought. The corners of his mouths curled up. "Well, I was going to ask where to store my books. I have a few I'd like to keep. So a shelf would be nice."
He looked at the shark bottle. He looked at Salem, then Lilah, back at the shark, back at Salem. He threw up his hands in mock surrender. "For the love of god - why?"
The sleuth didn't drop a beat at saying "Congratz!" and lifting his hands for a high-five to either of them when their shared bedroom came up.
Then, a bit slower, disbelieving: "I already have a room? Seriously?"
Salem just grinned, and high fived back, "Sure you do. Well it was you or Hobo Joe, and Joe seemed pretty happy in the park. I hope the fixings in there are good enough for you. I kept it pretty simple- bed, nightstand, bookshelf. So you know, you got a spot for those books you wanna keep."
Looking back over to the shark, Salem just smiled, "You expected a Moros not to have at least ONE dead animal hanging around?"
"This is... how should I put this? Unexpected. Very. I kind of thought you'd pull back. I mean, hello? Guardian! Nobody wants to have one of us in their Cabal. Least of all, me.“ Mirv seemed lost. Confused, and lost. This was new waters. And new waters were dangerous. He took a step back.
Salem shrugged, "I actually happen to like Guardians. I mean, we all have an incident or two in our past were we cross a specific order or two, and I've had my fair share. But hey, live and learn. It helps that you lot like your security and secrecy as much as I do. Which reminds me: if the bird appears dead, ask before you throw it out. I may just be... uh... sorta dead. I'm running an experiment."
Lilah high fived Mirv and giggled "obviously you have a room.. didn't think you were going to sleep in the hall way, did you ? And .. I am pushing for a library. I think it's going to be fun having a bunch of different books at my finger tips.. I already have quite the collection..." Lilah nodded with what Salem said then added "Wanda. She's a fishbird. Soon to be a lizardfishbird if Salem keeps her alive. If not, Wanda two will be on the way."
Mirv looked at them flabbergasted. They were actually, really, serious about him moving in. The by-the-way matter-of-factness got him offguard, too.
Like "yeah, no biggie having a Guardian around" were normal. Sure, he'd started the talks and everything, but he had never believed this actually taking place...
"I'd...yeah, I'd love to move in!" The words surprised himself. The supportive feelings at least as much.
Had it been really that long he was close with non-Guardians, Awakened or otherwise?
He smiled, shyly. If they payed attention, Lilah and Salem could tell that this smile was different. It looked nearly the same, but it felt more open, more honest-with-himself. "Don't throw out dead things. Got it!"
Salem smirked, "That's close enough to accurate. I'm hoping to get her bones perfected at least as the experiment continues, so I'll be taking samples regularly to see how things turn out. Hopefully it'll go at least as well as my other alchemical experiments. Which admittedly, haven't moved much since the last testing, but this stuff takes time."
"What are you trying to achieve here, anyway?" Mirv said, his mind getting back in the game. "Playing some sort of Dr. Moreau's Island featuring Frankenstein and Pet Cemetary?"
Salem chuckled, "No no. Evidence suggests that perfecting blood, skin, and bone, all require them to be recently separated from a living host. However, between modern medical technology, life and death mysteries, and a little ingenuity, I think it might be possible to perfect these tissues inside of a still living creature- it just takes some effort. Imagine if your bones were as strong as iron. I don't even know what perfected skin and blood do, but it's bound to be useful. But that's just a side hobby to the main project of perfecting metals. Imagine if I could perfect the process of perfecting iron. Take a kevlar vest, remove the kevlar, and insert some perfected iron. Now you're bulletproof. See?"
Lilah listened to the two of them and shrugged lightly. "We will have the first perfected fishbird, or Wanda two. Though, for your sake.. and Wandas I hope it works"
Salem nodded, "True. Hopefully Wanda's perfecting comes out well. Who knows? We might discover perfected feathers in the process."
Lilahs weight shifted as she looked at him "If that honestly all goes to plan.. Am I going to be able to turn her back into a fish ?"
Furrowed eyebrows. Kinda unhappy looking ones. "Sounds... Vulgar."
Salem shrugged, "That depends upon your definition of the word. I don't think you'll be able to see a difference in the bird, if it works. But we spend our lives perfecting our very souls. Why should we at least not test theorems about perfecting the body? Best case scenario, we find a new way into ascension. A harmonized mind, body and soul, all perfected mirrors of the supernal. Have you never thought of the process of learning arcana akin to alchemy? You take reality, break it down into building blocks, and build it back up again in the way you wish it. In this way, I'm doing something similar, but with a mostly alive test subject. Really vulgar is the corpse over in the lab I periodically animate to keep experiments running. But so long as everything stays here, it is a non issue."
Salem waved his hands around the apartment, "This Sanctum is secure. There will be no breach of the Veil here, if that is what your worried about. I've learned my lessons, Mirvalad. The bird, should it be supernally perfected, will remain for experimental purposes. It would provide a few answers, and no limit to the number of questions. As to transmuting her after perfecting her body... I don't know. I don't even know how transmuting her during the process is effecting the process."
The Guardian considered that. "True enough, I guess." He himself was more focused on other aspects, but every Mage had a certain right to furthering his knowledge. In fact, as far as he was concerned, it was part of his job as a Guardian to make sure they could follow their study, so the Diamand Wheel could turn. As long as Salem wasn't experimenting with vulgar Magic, he didn't mind. Might even join in on some things, himself.
And when it came to security, Salem seemed to be very careful. Still, he thinks he could improve on one or two aspects... Which Salem would probably welcome. Paranoid Arrows, you gotta love them. Nearly Guardians, in a way. He let him know his worries were taken care of with a throwing hand motion and a grin.
"Oh, and I am VERY familiar with the thematic. I actually like to think of Magic in terms of Alchemy, myself." He pulled out his brass coin, ingraved with the Elemental Cross, like evidence before a court. "As above, so below. As without, so within." He smiled at Salem. "I am always surprised that not more of our fellow Enlightened make use of the concepts of Alchemy. Always nice to meet someone who does."
Lilah leaned in the doorway listening to the two of them. They could have their fun with all their potions and perfecting stuff, she'd stick to turning people into frogs. Though her mind seemed to wander as she watched the two, amused.
Salem grinned, "It's nice for a non-Moros to take an interest in Alchemy." he glanced to Lilah, "It's the same as when you turn Wanda into another life form. I just do it with inert stuff, instead of living things. I do admit to hoping to be able to one day break the Laws of Conservation of bother Matter and Energy. Preferably at the same time."
"Oh, I know. I just think it's funny how everyone seems to think each faction is so different when really.. well, other than then whole paranoid thing.." her eyes danced as she looked at Salem, she knew she'd be in trouble later. She knew why it was important, she was thankful that because of the mistakes and veils of others she had only had a slip up once or twice. Thank goodness. "We're all pretty similar... mostly.. at least we are more a like than people seem to admit sometimes." Lilah shrugged lightly "though I think I want to see if I can get enough with sensing people that I can pick out a specific person in a room. Not just how many people are in a specific place... it's different than the skills I have that I normally focus on. Between that and learning how to use a gun, you might not recognize me next week you two!"
"The whole paranoid thing is necessary, though. I like being alive, you know? Also, that combination of skills sounds worrysome, are you perchance turning into Black Widow?" Mirv smiled. "You know, this is rather interesting: Salem is mainly focused on the material, Lilah on the living, and I on the mental. We round each other pretty nicely, don't we?"
His face turned thoughtful, and finally, he gave them a meaningful look. "Alright, I will move in, but only under one condition!"
Salem spread his hands and smiled, "I'm still expanding my knowledge, but alot of days I fall back on what I know. What's your condition?"
Mirv's face split into the familiar grin. "Monthly supply of mundane earplugs. And a timely warning so I can get out of the way. Lilah warned me that there's no stopping you two."
Salem laughed, and held out a hand, "Deal. I didn't think anyone knew we were together before today. Hey maybe you can help me with setting up a ward to help with sound proofing some areas. Namely the lab, but you'll probably want your room done if you think we're *that* loud."
Lilah just blushed brightly, went to say something to Salem and then just let it go. Tiff stood there shaking her head, getting brighter and brighter red before she finally said "nobody else knows we are together or at least has had it confirmed. Two of the three musketeers are together. Figured I would tell my only friend outside of .. well, you Salem. "
Salem grinned, and patted Lilah on the back, "It's fine, dear. I just don't usually talk about personal things with other Arrows."
"I mean... "our bedroom" it's not like we have bunk beds. He was going to figure it out..." Lilah looked to Mirv and shrugged "thanks for ... you remember this. I am going to make you blush so much one day you feel like your cheeks are going to melt off." Lilah then moved and hugged him tightly "welcome home"
Mirv stared disbelievingly at them. "...was going to? Please! I used to be a Private Eye, I probably knew about this earlier than the two of you!" Mirv said, theatrically rolling his eyes, then grinning.
"Seriously though, good for you guys."
He had a softer look on his face when Lilah hugged thim, though. The hug was reciprocated. Awkwardly, as if out of practice, but happily. "You're welcome. And thanks. Good to be home."
Salem was handed an outstreched hand to shake. "Don't forget about my earplugs, man."
The streets of Manhattan, constantly in the shadow of the towers in more ways than one. Here is where all Mage scenes and glimpses go.
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