Are you dangerous?

Are you dangerous?

Setting

Harlem - NYC

Once an idyllic suburb of plantations and farms, Harlem was instantly urbanized with the arrival of streetcars and railways. Such rapid development caused a meteoric boom and catastrophic crash. As it was cheap, the neighborhood became overwhelmingly populated by blacks as they faced racism in the rest of the city. While the Harlem Renaissance was a brief flourishing of the arts and racial pride, the era was largely romanticized: "rent" parties thrown in desperation, jazz venues where Duke Ellington played restricted only to whites. As the century progressed, state-funded projects and neglected tenements only ghettoized the neighborhood. Real estate developers and New York City itself planned several revitalizations, only to fail under scandals and corruption. Harlem grew beyond simply having a black population as Spanish Harlem, or El Barrio, settled in the south-east; and beyond racial profiling, the area simply became a wasteland for any disenfranchised.

A sense of dissolution fills Harlem as building facades crumble and streets stand empty. Buildings, many burnt out, many simply trashed beyond repair, stand forlornly watching over closed stores and abandoned vehicles. Shots ring out and echo in the distance, unanswered by sirens - if the cops do show up, they are more likely to take a bribe than make an arrest. Kids in the middle of the night wander around dealing crack, or asking if you're carrying. Early mornings awake with babies crying from dumpsters. Like some type of strange fruit, telephone and electric wires dangle shoes tied together, slowing spinning in trash-blown gusts. Needles lie in the gutter waiting to be reused; as do the homeless sprawled near by.

Cast

Scene

Grady emerges on the street level from the Harlem subway station. He carries his axe high above his head, both hands clasped low on the haft. It is quite odd looking, almost as if he is carrying a sign. People do stare at him as he passes and he gets odd looks. No one runs in fear though.

Peony is knelt down not too far from the station, her hands carefully wrapping an ace bandage around the ankle of what must be a homeless man. A small smile on her lips, "You have to be a bit more careful next time, George."

Grady moves along at a lumbering pace but slows when he spots Peony and her charity work. He lets the axe drop a bit and now walks with it just in his left hand. He changes his course so it will talke him to the other Changeling.

Peony finishes with the homeless guy, smiling toward him and he ambles off. She stands up, and dusts off her knees, back toward Grady. She's unaware of his presence altogether it seems.

Grady breaks his silence and calls across the leftover distance in his odd New York-Irish brogue. "And what to me wondering eyes should appear… but another bright soul… a wyrdling peer." He belches afterwads. "I dinna know you played at being a good sammaritan too."

Peony turns about and smiles a bit toward Grady when he calls toward her. She lifts a hand to run her fingers through her flower-hair. She says, "They can't afford to have someone else help them. So.. I do."

From the very nearby alley, the sound of rusting and creaky fire escapes can be heard, a jangling and discordant sound, as if someone is jumping or running down one. The noise grows louder, as if whatever is making the sound is getting closer and closer to ground level, before a voice issues out from the alley, "Hello?" The voice that speaks has a lost, child-like quaver to it, and the hoarse uncertain tone of someone who hasn't spoken to someone in a long time, "Can you hear me? With the ax, and the flowers?"

Grady sets the axe down blade up and then leans on the safe top. "Dinna ye ever hear the saying about how the Lord helps them that helps themselves?" It seems a more rhetorical question. "Besides… ye canna fool me… ye are on the hunt… getting dreams fer free." His one good eye remains fixed on you. "It must be awful convenient to be able to dine on their make-shift joy… all the while seeming like saint… when they dinna know upon their soul ye appetite ye sate." He attention shifts abruptly at the sound and he looks up toward the roof somewhat expecting to see a dancing man there.

Peony looks confused for a moment at Grady's words, and then her eyebrows draw together and she lip quivers a moment. The flowering is obviously upset by his words. But voice from the alleyway catches her attention. She turns and walks slowly toward the alleyway, "Hello?" She calls back.

Grady hefts the axe over his left shoulder and makes his way that on an lumbering step, following Peony.

The voice isn't coming from the roof, but from maybe 1 story up on the building, from the alley way. Around where you might expect the fire escape to be. As Peony and Grady draw closer to the alley way, they can make out a man-sized shadow in the dark of the first fire escape landing, elongated fingers curling and pressing against the bars, and then a wide eyed human male face that comes forward into the light, peering at them, "Oh you heard me, good. Hello there. Um, pleased to…you know, meet you."

"Is something wrong?" Peony asks softly, turning her face up toward the man. She smiles tenatively.

Grady continues forward into the alley proper as he stares upwards. He only comes to a stop when he is fully in the shadow of the building and out of the public's general eye. He speaks softly at first so only Peony can hear him. "Mind yeself lil'darling lass… this one can see us… as truth in a looking glass." Then he raises his voice louder and upwards. "Nice to meet you too boyo… my name tis Gordygone… and you are?"

Peony seems to be utterly trusting. She blinks toward Grady and says, "Well of course he can, he's probably another one of us."

"Oh, I don't have a name. I talked to some of the others, you Bottom Dwellers I mean. The other ones of those. But they didn't give me a name." The man pauses for a long few seconds, thinking this over, nodding to Peony and Grady's words as if processing them, then asks plaintively, "Have you seen my bird? He was ever so special, the first one that ever flew. I followed him here from home. But now I can't find him." At first glance, the man seems to be nothing more than human, another one of the insane inhabiting the city.

Grady grunts as he stares up. He speaks again in a low voice briefly so only Peony can hear. "Or he could be Gentry looking fer one escaped… or a Hobgoblin setting us up fer rape." He smiles up at the man and then raises his voice to a level he can hear. "I haven't seen ye bird… not as of yet… but what tis it worth if'n we help ye find it… reward or regret?"

Peony rolled to all visible players: Intelligence + Wits — Success=3
Grady rolled to all visible players: Intelligence + Wits — Success=2

"Would you like a name?" Peony asks softly, tilting her head back so she see the man a little better. Her violet eyes blinking slightly. And then Grady says things that frighten her, and she bites her lower lip with those needle sharp teeth. She looks toward Grady and says, "Maybe, maybe I should go.. If it's dangerous.." She looks up to the man up there, "Are you dangerous?"

"Oh. A reward. That's a clever idea. I hadn't thought of that. What would you like? I don't have much, just secrets. Riddles. The things that my friends up here tell me." He gestures, pointing above to where the shapes of stone gargoyles (so common in older parts of NYC) can be made out. "But I'd like a name, maybe that would help me…." He seems to consider Peony's final question, turning it around in his mind, looking confused a moment.

Grady snakes out a long, black tongue to clean a tusk. "Well then… to barter fer rewards and discuss names… should we come up… or ye come down?"

Peony stares up toward the man a bit more, a hand toying with a wisteria vines hanging around her face. She says, "Well, if you aren't dangerous I'll give you a name."

"But…But…" The man stares at Peony a while longer, and then says in a simple whisper, half frightened and half…something darker, "/Everything's/ dangerous." That simple (but sadly true) statement is made, and then the man turns, /leaping/ up to the next landing of the fire escape, instead of using the stairs clambering up the sides like a monkey before peering down, "Come up, by all means come up!"

Grady walks over beneath the fire escape and uses his over-long axe to reach up and hook it and pull it down so they can start to go up. He shifts his eye to Peony. "I think ye will be safe with me lil'darlin… but if'n ye are afraid… ye can stay here." With that he starts to ascend.

Of course she's afraid. But Peony does start to climb up after Grady. She says nothing at all on the way up.

The man, if indeed that's what he is, climbs much faster than Grady (especially since it's hard to climb with a two-hander ax) and Peony can. So that he is waiting for them when they get to the top. He crouches between two gargoyles, sat back on his haunches with his hands flat on the ground between his legs, watching the two of them, "Welcome. Welcome. There's so much more air up here. And you see so much.'

Grady does look around with interest, his eye darting here and there. "So there is boyo… and pretty statuary too." He inhales deeply… lots of clean air… beats me tunnels by a mile.

Peony blinks a moment and then pulls at her wisteria vines. She looks about and then back onto the crouched man. She asks, "Are you dangerous to me?"

"Well you're not dangerous to me right now. But if i told you I was dangerous to you, that man with the ax would probably be dangerous to me. So if I asked you the same question, how would /YOU/ answer it?" The man's logic is a bit convoluted, but what more could you expect from someone who lives among statues? "I might be dangerous to you, might not. Can't tell the future." He then turns and looks right into one of the statues, "Maybe they can. I don't know, they won't tell."

Grady cocks his head. "We might tell… if'n ye ask plain… if'n ye are capable of such."

Peony blinks at the man, and then glance toward Grady, and then back to the man. She smiles and says, "I'm not a danger to anyone." She thinks she means too, that much is obvious.

"That just shows how much of a fool you are to think that." The man clearly derisive and disbelieving of Peony's statement. He seems to consider then, shifting back and forth for a moment, "So, reward.. what about lore, facts, trivia? Knowledge? Secrets? I've learned so much up here." He leans his ear in against the gargoyle statue, draping his body over it. His body is painfully thin and elongated, virtually skeletal, body small enough to wrap both hands around his waist almost, though still within a normal human limit, "They see everything you know, they know all kinds of things."

Grady seems to consider that. "Well then… how about the secret of how to talk to them? Fer that alone seems quite a trick."

Peony blinks a little toward the man, a small shake of her head is given. A sigh is given and she says, "It seems sad to leave you without a name.." She glances toward
Grady and then back to the man, "What kind of a name would you like?"

"Well, you just listen." The man seems confused, and shakes his head, looking to Peony, and then to Grady again, "That's all. I don't know if there's a secret, you just do it. Nobody listens." He then nods to Peony and shakes his head. He seems to be listening to something, cocking his ear for a moment, and then promptly ignores what she said, "Will you tell the other ones, the ones in Hell's Kitchen? Tell them that they still have to help me find my bird so I can go home?"

Grady hrms and brings a meaty hand up to scratch a jowel. "I'll certainly pass it along to them. Does your bird have a name even if ye do not?"

"The name is obviously Bird." Says Peony mildly, glancing about slowly. She looks toward the gargoyles, and then back toward the hunched over man. She frowns a bit and says, "What about Amaryllis?"

"He used to call himself Patrick. That was probably his name. Patrick I would say…I would say Patrick…" And then sounds come out of the man's mouth, clearly bird sounds, like the cooing and cawing of pigeons, shaking his head for a moment before closing his mouth, the inhuman sounds ceasing to issue forth. "Well. It…it was nice meeting you. I'm going to go now. Thank you."

Grady cocks his head toward Peony and frowns but doesn't say anything. He then looks back at the man. "I thought as much." He looks dour but makes no attempt to approach the man. He does take a defensive stance somewhat in front of Peony in case the dancing man comes toward them.
Peony blinks a little, perhaps not getting it for a few moments. And then she presses her lips together and steps a bit closer to Grady, her eyes on the man.

"Thank you. You've both been very nice." The man then leans over, cocking his head to one of the gargoyles. He then crouches a bit more and /leaps/. In one jump he clears the space from this building to the next one, a jump (from a crouch, not even a standing start) of at least 15 or 20 feet. He then moves and scampers across that building, leaping onto another roof-top, beginning to fade off into the distance.

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