Black Magic

Red River Brewery 

 You didn't have to cast a long shadow of impressive societal weight to know the rules of engagement. All you needed, as was the case more often then some realized, was some modicum of intelligence. A little edge of common sense and the world, filled with fangs and claws and whatever else, was just the slightest bit easier to navigate.

 The property had been procured after what could only be described as the most simple and rough of inspections. She'd gotten confirmation on the state of the roof, the plumbing, the basic necessities that would have taken a money pit and made it into a financial void so deep and alarming it might as well have been painted in vantablack.

 After countless close calls and properties of respectable size slipping through her fingers before the close or inspecting as rotting from the inside out ... she supposed she jumped the gun on this one. But there was no take-backsies in real estate. So she hoped whatever wolf pissed all over Cedar Creek could respect that without taking full financial advantage.

 The source wasn't incredibly hard to pinpoint, not after years of a pack of her own sort. A good nose and half a mind about these things to trust her gut. Still she hesitated just inside the brewery, hands in the pockets of her coat as she pressed her thumb against the grooves of her car key. There was some dark headed woman at the bar, a brief moment of eye contact before she slipped into the back.

 And perhaps she was reading too much into the room, but all the same she made herself at home against the bar, forearms pressed to the lip as she absently read labels and waited.

Work was quiet tonight. Monday’s usually were, though she wasn’t complaining. There was something pleasant about the easy routine of cleaning and restocking the bar, which is what she was doing when the Were woman walked through the doors. She couldn’t help the way her chin lifted just slightly, scenting at the air to find something familiar and yet not. There was an unknown spice to the smell, and Alina found herself curious as to both what she was and what she wanted.

That didn’t mean she was going to stop working. Carrying a few empty boxes, Alina disappeared into the back for a few minutes before returning with a few full bottles of rum to restock the bar with.

"Lookin’ for someone?" She asked, her back to the female for a moment as she stepped up on the step ladder and slid the bottles onto the shelf.

 "Without question."She considered the little things first, the subjects of the woman's tattoos (or what she could make out of them), the way she did her make up, how she chose to present herself. "I'm hoping to speak to the top of the top." She was confident that it wouldn't be a reach to manage, though she would keep any accusations tucked into her sleeve for the time being. "Always polite to extend and introduce yourself in a new environment, surely."

"Short as I am, I am definitely the top." In more ways than one, too, but that was neither here nor there. This one seemed respectful enough that Alina remained unbothered with her back to her for so long. "It’s a good way to get the temperature of the water, sure."

A hand wrapped around the neck of another bottle so that she could lift it and slide it in front of the last before setting the half-empty one in front of it and stepping down. "Alina Sinclair," She offered, looking to the woman now, taking a moment to look her up and down, getting a feel for her.

 Temperature was indeed important, best to know if she'd boiled the skin off her bones by being hasty. Still the direct phrasing was refreshing, even if it lacked that flowery sort of warmth some worked tirelessly to project. " Wonderful, as I suspected. It's nice to finally meet you properly, Ms Sinclair. Etain O'Rourke, relatively new to the area and frankly, hoping to set up shop in what I suppose could be considered your shadow. "

She wouldn’t remember the name. The face, yes. The name, not so much. Still, there was a no-nonsense approach here that Alina very much appreciated. "Let’s talk about it over a drink. What’s your poison?" She stopped herself from reaching for the whiskey, instead mixing a rum and coke with sure hands.

Etain’s drink was made at her request, setting it in front of her as the wolf continued to try and figure out what she was dealing with here. "Is this something that needs to be discussed in private?"

 Well, it wasn't a warm peck on the cheek and an arm around the shoulder, but she never was much one for unwarranted contact anyway. So she'd take her Brandy without complaint, a mumbled thank you as she lifted her glass and considered how best to aporoach. "We may want to retreat somewhere a bit less public if we're too discuss it in the detail that it deserves, Ms Sinclair."

"Alina is fine. This way." And with the easy, succinct manner in which she conducted most of her business, she led the creature to the back and into her plush, spacious office. She would gesture with her hand then, imploring the woman with an invitation. "Take a seat." Alina herself sat in a chair near the couch, giving Etain a bit of space to feel comfortable while also not putting the barrier and formality of a desk between them.

  The offer was nice but all the same she waited to see where Alina plopped down and took a cue from there. Settling in the couch, mindful not to spill her brandy on the cushions, she waited a beat. " I'm hoping to invest time and money into setting up my business here in Cedar Creek." She sipped the slightest bit, hesitated with her glass still lifted to her lips.

"A museum, technically, should all the paperwork and bureaucracy continue to take mercy on me. Emphasis on the fantastical and supernatural. Within reason, of course."

A museum in Cedar Creek. The idea was... odd. There were not many museums that she could see fitting in here, certainly nothing fancy or rich. Had the woman not expanded on what kind, Alina might have laughed her out of the office. As it was, she couldn’t help the way her eyes narrowed, suspicious and yet... intrigued.

The glass touched her lips, the sweet taste washing over her tongue and warming her throat as she swallowed, thinking over her words. "”Within reason”?" She questioned. She wanted an expansion on this idea, wanted to more of what this one was thinking before giving an opinion.

  It plain as day wasn't a denial outright, and while that didn't inherently mean anything, it implies she had a foot in the door. "Right." Mindfully she balanced her glass on her knee, brushed her thumb along the side of the glass. "The beauty in it is the regulation of information. It's topical, people are understandably on a kick in terms of the news. So you inform them, perhaps often times, predominantly, incorrectly. "

 She didn't wait, sat up a bit straighter and motioned again. "You know in France there's old lores about us having an aversion to iron? The whole history behind that fun little thing about mirrors and vampires, rice and graves ..." She supposed she could go on endlessly, but it seemed like this was the type of woman who preferred the fat trimmed when it came to business.

There were a couple things that stood out to her as the woman spoke: her self-assuredness, the straightforward way she spoke. Even the intelligence of the idea drew the Wolf King in and made her more inclined to chew on the information for a while rather than spitting it out and showing her the door.

If you exposed a person to information surrounding something that scared them, terrified them, sometimes that person would come away less afraid than they had been before. Additionally, if they were being fed information that wasn’t correct or harmful to Weres...

She took a breath, head tilting slightly. "I’m curious about what your end goal is," Alina admitted, not yet saying yay or nay to the idea. More information was needed, not on the proposition itself but about the person and the reason.

 "Honestly?" She took a beat, just enough time to entertain what she would lead with. "History is a personal passion. Not to mention, I've never once shied from an opportunity to talk about myself, even if people don't know that's what's happening." There was more to it of course, but you took out the unsightly before you started to puff and preen the rest.

 "People fear what they don't understand, the better portion from there research. And while the internet casts a far wider net than a museum ever will, at least it could satiate some appetites. Delve into the history, the lore that wasn't quite right, provide artifacts and diagrams and whatever else. Throw in legends of wendigos, banshee's, mermaids, leave room for what's real and what's not to meld - you've at least blurred the picture a little more and perhaps steered some from a dangerous trail."

They were on the same page, it seemed. The Weres and Vampires (and perhaps whatever else was out there) would know what was correct about themselves and what was not and they would be stupid to go around admitting such information to those that didn’t need to know.

Rum and coke about half-way gone, Alina watched the woman over the rim of her glass before lowering it, giving herself a moment to think and evaluate.

"Hypothetically speaking, if I was to agree, what would you need from me?" A simple yes? A buy-in? A signed contract, even. The possibilities were endless.

 "Permission to operate and nothing more - although I suppose you might like to take everything in before our public opening." Not that she was truly so quick to shoot herself in the foot and endanger the lives of countless others in the process. "In exchange I'll continue my civic duty, mind my manners, and if I see any frequent guests that seem particularly invested in something a little more grave, I'll pass the face and the name on - assuming I can get it." By the way I already bought my way in, more or less - she decided to set that aside for the time being.

Nothing much, then. If Etain was as self-sufficient as she seemed to be, then Alina would be able to keep her hands off and leave her to it. This was much more preferable, appreciating that she wouldn’t have to hover and supervise. There was also a gratefulness that came with the agreement to pass on information about possible troublemakers, nodding a couple times in silent agreement to such a notion.

"Alright." She finished her drink, set the empty glass off to the side. "I ask only one thing in return for my permission. Tell me what you are." She hadn’t been able to put her finger on it this entire time and that kind of bothered her.

 She had wondered if it would come up sometime in their chat, thought perhaps it would arrive as a more subtle shift in tone than just outright asking. She supposed, if nothing else, the direct approach was refreshing. "Maned wolf - not particularly common about these parts, I take it?" Not particularly common anywhere, to her knowledge - but it was what it was.

Maned wolf. Interesting. "You’re the only one I’ve ever met." So yeah, rare would be a good word for it.

"Have any idea where you’re going to set up shop?" Back to business, Alina couldn’t deny her curiosity. Where in Cedar Creek would be a decent place to do something like this?

 "Funny you should ask, I happen to be in the process of finalizing everything. It's an old building off C- Mm, yes, Cadence. To my understanding it was a gallery but that went under quiet some time ago? Price was recently dropped - so ..." She trailed off, considered how that sounded and shrugged,

"Works just fine for me." At least for now - she would keep her visions of finer things to herself.

A grin grew across her face then, impressed in a way that she had been so confident in herself that she had already started the process. Had she not sought Alina out before officially going into business, they might have had more of a problem but that was not the case, thankfully.

"You’ll have to show me around some time."

 It was a continued stroke of good fortune that the wolf didn't seem outraged by the idea. A specific gamble she was happy enough to see pay off that she would grin in turn. "Consider it the plan then." A lot less elements used in her arsenal than she had anticipated needing to use, thankfully.

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