"Why so nervous, Arcus? There's nothing to worry about..."
"...I suppose I'm just not overly good with conflict..." Arcus muttered back after a pause.
The Dean clapped a hand on his shoulder, causing Arcus to flinch beneath his mask. "It'll be fine, you'll see."
Arcus nodded reluctantly and they walked in silence the rest of the way to the meeting point that Louisa had arranged with Argent to sell the Temple Stone.
It was a building on the outskirts of the campus- a rarely used and small conference hall. It didn't get many visitors and Arcus grudgingly conceded that Louisa had chosen the location well. Out of sight from the main building, behind the ornamental gardens, Arcus was relieved to see the police were indeed waiting. The knot of stress that had settled in his stomach started to unravel a little.
"Archivist Lindquist?" a police officer asked him quietly when Arcus and the Dean had approached.
Arcus nodded. "Yes."
"I'm Sergeant Riker. I just need you to confirm a few things for me before we go ahead."
Arcus nodded again, tight lipped under his mask. The sergeant asked him to explain what he'd seen Louisa do, what Argent looked like, who'd spoken to (only the Dean), what he'd done with the documents he'd been given, and so on, and Arcus answered, but for some reason, the unease was creeping back onto him...
Once the officer was satisfied, he nodded and sent the Dean to go to the hall where Louisa and Argent were doing the deal, so he could catch them in the act: the final bit of evidence they needed to assure a conviction. Arcus was instructed to follow the police, who crept over to the building shortly after the Dean. There was a few minutes of tense waiting, Arcus and the police hiding just outside the room, unfortunately unable to hear through the thick door, when finally it opened and the Dean called out to the police.
"Sergeant Riker! I've heard enough!"
The police sprang into action, moving inside, one of them ushering Arcus along too. They took up a perimeter, fanning out along the walls, Louisa and Argent caught in the middle of the room.
It seemed everything was going well... until Arcus heard the door lock with a quiet click behind him.
'...don't be what I think this is...' Arcus took a hesitant step back from the officer blocking the door, only to bump into the Dean. Arcus turned around with a gasp.
"Well then, James?" Louisa rapped her fingernails on the desk she lounged at, speaking to the Dean.
'Come on...' Arcus looked from Louisa back to the Dean, betrayed expression hidden by his mask. This had to be a mistake... any second now, the Dean would tell the police to arrest Louisa...
"He heard everything, Louisa", the Dean said.
'Yes... good...' Arcus was frozen to the spot, hoping...
"So lucky for us he came to you first, then", Louisa said with a light laugh.
Arcus cursed loudly, glancing at the police. So, they were in on it too. Rushu curse these damned, lying-
"We have the documents, too- so no harm done. But you really must be more careful in the future, Louisa", the Dean chided, taking the papers Arcus had given him out from his coat to show. Louisa just scoffed. Then she turned her gaze to Arcus.
"You didn't make any copies now, did you, pet?"
"What the hell is wrong with you all?" Arcus spat, finally finding his voice, fists clenched.
Louisa laughed and Argent spoke, voice all smooth silver.
"Come now, Arcus, someone as clever as you can surely see our side of this, see what we could achieve... together..."
Arcus lifted his chin slightly, gaze on Argent. Ah, so this was the play... he'd have to answer carefully from now on. Arcus's next move would determine whether he succeeded or failed. He glanced around the room at the stoney faced police and in the back of the hall, previously unnoticed by him, some goons who must be with Argent. Scrap 'success or failure', he might be playing for his life. Right now, he needed to buy some time...
"Your offer?" Arcus asked tersely after a moment.
Argent smiled, delighted. "Quick, isn't he? Good. It's not too late for you to be a part of this, you know. We could use someone with your knowledge- valuation is difficult for such objects, but as an archivist, you'd be very useful to us."
Arcus looked away, letting a little of his bitterness show- don't appear too eager to join.
"I can understand your feelings- no one likes to lose", Argent purred, all oily sympathy. "But you can still win. Think about it! What are you earning as an archivist, for all your years of study?"
"...not much..." Arcus muttered back.
"Exactly!" Argent smacked a fist into his palm for emphasis. "Why should someone with your education be on such pitiful wages... when there's an opportunity to go so much further."
Arcus turned back to Argent slowly, as if he was considering. 'Slime ball. I hope you choke on your tie.' Arcus thought spitefully, but what he said was "go on."
"We're willing to give you an, mmm, enticing, share of the profits if you..." Argent went on, but Arcus wasn't really listening now. He'd been keeping an eye on the police all this time and what they'd been doing: they were laying rune stones around the room in a circle. Now he saw what they were for- when activated, they'd create a magical net to stop him teleporting away. His eyes narrowed under his mask. Time to end this farce whilst he still could.
"So what do you think?' Argent asked.
"Hmmm..." he walked slowly over to the table, looking at the Temple Stone thoughtfully. So, Argent thought him as easily bought as the rest of this corrupt group? Well, Arcus wasn't going to dance to Argent's tune. "I think..." he picked up the Temple Stone, turning it in his hand in an intricate pattern, then looked at Argent. "...you're thinking you can play me."
"Arcus... look around you." Argent gestured to the police and goons. "Your options are pretty limited. Playing you isn't necessary- I'm offering you a chance at better life."
Arcus fought the urge to roll his eyes. Louisa smirked.
Arcus just shrugged. He was nearly ready. "I guess I'm pretty lucky..."
"Is that so?' Louisa's eyes narrowed. She didn't believe Arcus would join them and remained suspicious.
"Just about anyone else would have noticed by now that I've been crafting a spell all this time", Arcus whispered to her as he finished the final hand movement he needed to complete the time-slow, the other movements disguised as playing with the Temple Stone, calling the word for the spell to activate it. "Tractim!"
He relished Louisa's shocked and angry look as the time field spread out towards her, trapping her in its cloying web. Hurrying, Arcus pocketed the Temple Stone and grabbed the documents from the also trapped Dean, stuffing them hastily into his inner pocket as he ran- the spell wasn't strong enough to hold the police and goons who were by the walls and out of its full range, so they were still able to move almost at normal speed. A shot whistled past Arcus's ear, which he ignored but for muttered swear words, mind on escape only. There'd be time for a panic attack later.
It was a race now between Arcus and the police, who were rushing to activate the runes they'd laid to cage him, just as Arcus was rushing to get to the window so he could see out- he needed to see to teleport.
"Arrrcccuuuuusssss!" The slow, distorted voice, came from the Dean as the spell wore off of him. "Youuuu'lll regreeeeettt thiiisssssss!"
Arcus had seen out of the window though and in the second before he blinked out of this space, he jerked his middle finger at the Dean.
"No I won't."
And just like that, he was gone, Temple Stone in his pocket... and a target on his back.
This post has been edited by Aacher - May 26, 2016, 02:34:53.