The Beginning
Roleplaying Log: The Beginning
IC Details

Merlin's staff goes missing and he comes to Frank Castle for help. Barbara offers them a trinket from an ex-boyfriend that might help them find the missing object of power.

Other Characters Referenced: John Constantine
IC Date: December 27, 2019
IC Location: Punisher Keep, Jersey City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 27 Dec 2019 23:20
Rating & Warnings: R, because Frank
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It was a surprisingly seamless theft — Merlin's staff is perhaps something he never fathomed someone just deciding to steal with the most rudimentary means. His home here in the modern world was breached, door cracked open on its hinges and interior rooms completely ransacked. Somehow, any of Merlin's security measures were bypassed, unwoven by someone with magic about as powerful as his own. Everywhere he hid his most valuable objects had been cracked open, but nothing was stolen until he got to where his staff had been kept — a place that was meant to allow him to easily summon it if he needed.

There, he would find the threads of the magic that he only just barely recognized; it is abundant here where the greatest spells were cast. Morgan Le Fay's magic is impossible to miss when so heavily polluting the air. She had come, she had taken the staff, and she had gone somewhere else.

Some when else.

Having spent some time absent from his abode in the midst of those requiring his assistance, Merlin was looking forward to a bit of respite. Perhaps a book to read, some tea to drink, and a nice fire to sit beside. However, it would seems the Fates had conspired against him. His wards, all the measure taken with magic to protect that which belongs to him? Broken through. No. Not just broken through. Bashed through. With magic. Power magic. How many could rival these particular wards? He's not sure, but they can't have been many.

Slowly, using all his senses, magical and Earthly, he makes his way through his home. What, if anything, was taken? Where did they search? Any clue could be useful, even the smallest of hints. When he finally reaches one of his final locations, it's evident what had been taken. His first instinct is to attempt to summon it. It doesn't work.

He sighs and tries again. And again. And yet again. All to no avail. He lets out a little grunt of frustration. It's gone. Wherever, whenever, it is, his magic won't draw it to him. What frustrates him further is that the magic used is as yet unidentafiable. Who created it? It's all so hard to tell right now. But one thing is certain: He's on a mission.

Next stop, he'll go to Frank's. If this is going to impede in his helping find out what happened to Barbara, he should at least inform the man. The messy home can be cleaned latter.

The next step he's magically teleporting himself to outside Frank's apartment door. He gives three hard, loud knocks to announce his presence. Hopefully he's home.

Usually, Frank has warning when someone is outside the door. GAARD's sensors are strewn throughout the area, carefully concealed, but they're not prepared for a magically apparating wizard. And GAARD doesn't like that much more than Frank does. She calls out inside the warehouse, "Intruder outside!" Of course, that comes in just as the first knock is sounding. "He just appeared!" Without Frank even having to tell her, the exterior picture appears on the monitor screen, the veteran Marine looking up from cleaning a rather intimidating-looking assault shotgun. He grunts, "Huh. It's Bathrobe." This seems to mollify GAARD a little, or perhaps it's just Frank's manner that does. As he draws a cloth over the firearm, he adds, "Go ahead an' open up."

The door unlocks and opens like magic — ha ha — in front of Merlin, and Frank starts walking toward it from the inside, cleaning his hands on a cloth, "C'mon in." If that isn't a warm enough greeting, here comes Max, a big rottweiler mix that is way friendlier than he looks, skittering across the concrete slab floor to greet the newcomer. That's a good sign, right?

Beyond Frank and Max, most of the warehouse is left to open space, a parking spot for Frank's black van, but there's a kitchen and dining area along one wall, some racks for working on weapons or pretty much anything else, a small bathroom and a small bedroom toward the back, and then a partial second floor with two indoor windows looking out over the warehouse floor. It's not the most homey of places, except in a few specific areas.

Stepping over the threshold into the warehouse, Merlin is dressed to suit his nickname. He has on blue robes with long sleeves. At the approach of the dog, the old wizard kneels and gives Max a pet on the head. "Hello there, little one. My name is Merlin, and it is very nice to meet you." He gives Max a few more pets and a few scritches behind the ears before standing and having a good look around. It may not be homey by modern standards, but the wizard might argue that if it's got a roof and walls to protect from the elements, that it doesn't need to be too homey to still be a home.

"Ah, yes. Hello." He offers a nod to Frank. "I am afraid that I have come to you today with disappointing announcement." He takes a deep breath in. "My home…" He clears his throat. "My home was broken into. By a particularly powerful practitioner of the magical arts." He explains. "And, well," he sighs again. "My staff has been stolen. I've no idea where it is, only that I'm afraid my investigation into the happenings of Miss Barbara shall have to be put on hold until I've discovered the source of this intrusion and retrieved my staff once more."

He bows his head. "I am sorry. I gave you my word I would help. And I shall continue to do so, once this is completely. However, anyone capable of an intrusion such as this? I worry about what kind of damage they could do to the world as a whole. The reason for taking my staff is unclear, but that doesn't matter. I can only imagine their plans being nefarious."

He looks Frank in the eye. "I hope you can forgive me this, and that you can understand why I must pursue this posthaste."

"That's Max. He's a food an' attention mooch." Max proves that point by leaning against Merlin's side and wagging his tail wildly as he gets the attention he clearly so richly deserves. Frank watches and just shakes his head, but the dry little smile that was building on his lips freezes when Merlin starts telling his story. "Well shit." Still, he nods, "What you did for her back already's helped." He looks down to the greasy rag in his hands, then moves back toward the bench, "Guy ain't much without his staff, I guess." There might even be some sardonic amusement there, even though he lets it fade away, dropping the rag onto the bench, pulling the other rag off the shotgun, and starting to put the weapon back together, "So whoever stole your staff's all magic too. Fuckin' magic. You gotta do your shit first, I get that." He pauses a moment, then adds, "This somethin' you need help for?"

Her chair is silent in her approach; it is a pleasant similarity to when Babs was on her feet. She rolls in quietly behind Frank, and it is only Max who notices her first. He chuffs his breath before he trots forward to meet her, and then his nose snuffles up against her fingers. "Hi," she greets Merlin quietly before she is glancing over to Frank. Her smile starts to lift at one corner. "If you're here for dinner, Merlin, I think Frank has some curry going." She pushes forward a few more rotations even while Max trails along beside her. Only then does she realize what the two are talking about. "Wait. Staff? You're staff is missing?"

"I shall have to remember to bring him some food, next I visit." Merlin makes a mental note of that, reaching down to pet Max again. Animals will always receive his kindness, regardless of any troubles he goes through. "I'm glad I was able to help in any capacity." He bows his head in a low nod. "But yes, this staff…it is very important to me. I've had it for many years. It's a magical conduit in and of itself, as well. I perish the thought of what it could do in the wrong hands." Not to mention he'd miss it quite dearly. He's rather quite attached to the staff. "I was able to detect a strong magical presence in my home." He replies in regard to the person who stole his staff being magical as well. "It was strong enough that even if I was familiar with the person, it masked their presence."

At Barbara's sudden appearance, Merlin smiles softly and he offers her a little bow. "Miss Barbara. It is so good to see you out and about." He glances between Babs and Frank. "As delicious as I'm sure the curry is, I'm afraid I'm not here for supper." He nods to her question. "Yes, indeed. My staff has been stolen, I'm afraid. It's urgent I find it. As such, I'm afraid, I must put my own investigation of your ordeal on hold, Miss Barbara. I am so, so sorry."

He looks back at Frank. "Help is always useful…I just wish I knew what exactly I needed help with, besides finding my staff. I'm not even sure where it's gone yet."

Frank half-turns as Babs rolls up behind him, "Yeah. Apparently some people like to steal sticks." Clearly, as Merlin just mentioned, it's a little more important than a stick. But that doesn't sound as good. He nods at the invitation to dinner, gesturing back to the kitchen area. It… actually doesn't smell that bad. Pretty good even. "Gotta get chow some time." But he nods, relenting already, "I know how it is when you gotta do somethin'. Don't think the people I talk to are likely to know shit about a magic staff, but I'll ask around when I'm shakin' people down." He finishes putting the shotgun back together, opens the bolt to make sure it's empty — even though he just put it together empty — and then safes it and puts it back on the table, "So there can't be that many wizards who know about it, right? Or who could use it? Narrow the list down, right?"

"Frank, it isn't a stick," Babs says in an almost tired voice, but at least she's smiling at him when she says it. Then she is smiling gently over toward Merlin, inclining her head slightly. "You came here for help." Maybe he didn't actually intend for that, but perhaps she assumes that Merlin could have found another way to tell Frank he is having to delay his ability to help find who is responsible for the shooting. She pushes her hands down along the wheels as she closes the gap a bit more toward the pair.

She tilts her head thoughtfully, and then her eyes widen a bit. "I might… actually be able to help." She cuts an almost uncertain glance toward Frank as she explains. "John Constantine left me with some trinkets before he disappeared, and… he gave me something that helps me find something I've lost." She chews slightly at the edge of her lip. "Not sure how reliable it is." It is John Constantine after all.

"It's…it's…it's not a stick." Merlin reiterates Barbara's point. "Yes, I suppose food is important. It keeps one energized and strengthened. Food keeps you going when little else aside from sleep will do." He closes his eyes and murmurs. "I've very few enemies. At least in the modern age." He tries to explain. "I mostly keep to myself, except for when I feel drawn to adventure…every couple decades or so. Even then, I seek to assist those that I meet, rather than cause animosity to last generations."

Kneeling so he can speak with Barbara at eye level, he continues. "This…this John Constantine." He ponders the name. It's unfamiliar, though that means nothing. There are many sorcerers. Or there used to be. "You trust him? And the items he gave you?" He smiles. "Then I trust them. If you feel could permit me to borrow this item that allows a person to find their lost items? I would be forever in your debt."

"It's not a stick," Frank admits readily enough, shaking his head. He starts over toward the kitchen, beckoning the other two after him and touching Barbara's shoulder as he goes. He shrugs a little, "If I can help out, I'm in. You came through for me — for us. I got you." He points down to Barbara's shoulder, "Even if I don't got any magic trinkets." Just guns. He grunts sourly as Merlin questions John Constantine's reliability, but he doesn't comment directly. "They haven't fucked up." The 'yet' that follows is implied. "Saved her ass a couple'a times." The 'and got her into trouble a couple more' is implied too. There may be a reason that Frank has issues with sorcerers.

When Merlin seems to settle in on food, Barbara cuts Frank an amused little smile. She would start after Frank if not for the kneeling wizard, and she folds her hands together in front of her to regard him with those serious pale eyes. "I trust John. He wouldn't have given me anything dangerous." Her gaze trails after Frank for a heartbeat at his sourness in his voice, and there's a little smile there. Weeks ago, she would have trailed after him to give his fingers a squeeze, but instead she focuses on Merlin. "Have Frank get you some food, and I'll fetch it." She starts to wheel back, pushing away from the man so she can head to where the two keep their gear.

"Speaking of coming through for you…" Merlin offers Barbara a nod in understanding. Her trust in this other sorcerer is enough. He'll use whatever she has. He walks toward the kitchen and Frank. "Whatever happened to the bullets? I can't remember if I asked. But I would like access to any of them, if possible. I still want to help. I may be able to get impressions off them." He's pretty sure he asked, but he's old. He can be forgiven for not remembering 100%.

"Now, depending where my staff has turned up, I could very well use someone with your skills. I can fight, but youth has its advantages." The wizard grins. "There are plenty of places where I…would stand out." Places filled with magical beings not of the human variety. Not that he'd sate that outright. "Having a travel companion, well, is something I'd very much appreciate."

The plate that Frank piles with rice, chicken curry, and naan — which all seems to be handmade — is thrift-store quality, with a little chip out of it, but it's whole, and covered in steaming food. He follows with plates for himself and Babs, setting out three plates and then filling a giant bowl for Max. "Haven't been able to get access to them." He looks after Barbara, "Someone convinced me not to just go get 'em." Because going through police officers in a precinct office draws a lot of attention — and bullets. He frowns a moment, then looks back to Merlin, "I got things I gotta do here, but I can give you a couple'a days wherever you gotta go. Even a couple'a days a couple'a times."

John Constantine is nothing if not a humorous bastard. When Barbara returns to the kitchen table, she has a little bag in her lap. She sets it down on the table as she listens to the two. "I would like you very much to not end up in police territory because they are probably just going to shoot you." Now she slowly opens the bag, loosening the drawstrings to shake out a—car key fob. She hands it over to Merlin. "John says that all you need to do is think about what you're trying to find—really think about it—and it will take you there." She folds her arms in front of her. "So, I would say that you should be ready to go before you hit the button." She glances up toward Frank. "I can spare you a couple days," she tells him warmly. Her mood has increased since they got back to some routine between here and Gotham.

"If the bullets are in police possession," Merlin speaks slowly, as if still considering his words. "When this task is done, tell me where I can find them, and I'll do the rest." He's been around a while, he's got a few tricks up his sleeves to help him get objects out of the hands of the likes of the police. When Barbara returns to their presence, he tilts his head, curious as to what she has brought to them. "What a curious thing." Merlin accepts the device, holding onto it gingerly. He can feel the magic emanating from it. "Very curious indeed. I would very much like to meet this John Constantine one day." He turn he fob over a few times as he studies it. "I assume if two people are to go, they must be attached? As in one person holding onto the other?" That would make the most sense to him, other than both holding onto the fob.

"Before we leave," he looks over at Barbara, "how is your pain? How is, well, everything? Is there anything I can do to assist in making your days easier while we're away?"

Frank shakes his head slowly at the description of the magical geegaw, "Damn. This shit makes me wonder why we don't all have stuff like that. Save a lotta time huntin' down people on the most-wanted list." He stops then, his eyes widening, "After you use it on your staff… we could use it on the rifle." That's Frank — he doesn't have to know how something works, just that it does and then he figures out how to use it to kill someone. Nodding to Merlin, he adds, "Yeah. We got someone who should be able to get in there too, but she's been pretty busy, like the rest of us." Coming around the back of Barbara's chair, he gives her shoulders a little squeeze, "I'll get things cleaned up after dinner, then we can go." No sense leaving her the dishes if he might be gone for a couple of days.

Barbara huffs out a short laugh. "I imagine he would have a number of things he'd say in your presence, Merlin." Now she settles into her place at the table—a segment that has been extended by Frank's own carpentry so that her wheels fit neatly under it. She folds her arms in front of her, leaning into them. "Attached." The word is murmured thoughtfully as she crawls into her almost picture-perfect memory banks to recall what John had said. "Yes." She says the word slowly. "Yes, I think if you two just hold onto each other before you activate it, Frank will travel with you." She then leans back a bit, picking up her fork to start in on the food. She pauses to look at Frank. "I can handle the dishes, Frank."

Placing the item down gently as he sits himself at the table, Merlin glances at Frank. "I suppose that it would be a possibility that we could use this to find said weapon. However, it may be, considering the concentration needed, that one must be familiar with the item they are looking for. Personally familiar." He shrugs. "However, since this is not an item of my creation, I could not say with complete certainty. Perhaps it is worth a try."

He nods in response to the other person they know. "I look forward to meeting her." Is all he'll say on that matter for the time being. "As for the dishes." He clears his throat. "I would respectfully request that I am given the honour of doing them. It is the least I could do for the assistance being given."

"None'a it fit for mixed company," the pot calls the kettle back in regards to what John Constantine might say. Frank chuckles dryly, settling in to start eating. He gathers up his plate in one hand, eating quickly with the other. "I know you can, Red. But…" and there's Merlin offering too. "Jesus. Man can't even do his own damn dishes." At least there's a dry grin behind the words. "But naw, we're already payin' you back for what you did for Red, right?" The last is a question for Babs. His eyes flicker across the warehouse, taking inventory, "It'll take me a couple minutes to pull together my gear. Better pack heavy if we don't know where we're goin'. You got what you need, Bathrobe?"

Finally, perhaps because she is a bit absentminded trying to think through the key fob and John and now how Frank starts his mental prep for what's about to happen, or will happen soon, but Babs only now answers Merlin, "I'm alright. Really. I'm… making everything work." She tucks a bit of red hair back behind her ear, and she settles into her elbows as she moves around some chicken and rice together. "Just remember… it should take you right to where you need to be, which can be… awkward if anyone is there." She finally takes a bite of food, chewing through it. "To come back, just do the same thing… think of something you want to come back to here and it will take you back."

"What does Jesus have to do with someone doing their own dishes?" Merlin can't help but joke at least a little. "I've got what I need. Worry not about me! Although…" He holds out his hands and a sword materializes into them. "A last resort." He notes, holding it up as he snaps his fingers on his other hand, a sheath finds its way to his side, held to his body with something akin to a belt. He slides the sword into it and nods. "Hopefully I will not find a need to use it."

Bringing a chair next to Barbara, the old wizard sits. "I have known many who have been injured quite seriously." Not the best way to begin, perhaps. "Those who claim to be 'alright'…aren't completely alright. If you're putting on a brave face for your companions, know that you needn't do so with me." Ha practically whispers the words.

"If he had finished the job with those fuckin' moneylenders…" Frank doesn't know exactly where he's going with that, so he lets it go there. Shaking the thought off, he blinks as the sword appears, "Damn. That'd be real useful in the shit." As he crosses the warehouse to collect the covered shotgun again, he looks back over his shoulder, "I know what'll bring me back." His dark eyes study Babs along with the quiet words, but when Merlin tucks a seat in close to her, he heads upstairs to gather his own gear, letting the two talk as he collects his skull-painted vest, ammo, a couple of pistols, ammo for them, and a rifle with ammo. It's a lot of ammo, and that's not even counting the couple of smoke and fragmentation grenades. If anyone doubted that Frank likes to be prepared, this should cure them of any such thoughts. The longarms and extra ammo go into a duffel, and he grabs his emergency backpack with changes of clothes, food, flashlight, batteries, matches, and all sorts of other useful stuff that will do him absolutely zero good.

Babs arches her brows high at Frank's words, but that curious expression turns into a laughing smile. This is just in time to see the sword slide into view. With her time with John Constantine, she is not as surprised as she would have been a year ago. Instead, she marvels at the sight of the sword instead of how it got there. "Amazing," she breathes. Then she is beginning to push back from the table, but she is stopped by Merlin. Her smile starts soften a bit for the wizard, and she reaches gently to touch the old man's hand. "I'm not alright," she admits. But, I'm doing all I can to be alright. I'm not sure what else I can do besides continuing forward, and making the best of where I am." This is all said while Frank works on gathering his gear, and she trails her eyes toward him. "He keeps me safe and grounded. It's a good thing to feel."

"Moneylenders, indeed." Merlin chuckles softly and nods. "'Tis a useful thing." He agrees, referencing the sword. "It may not be as top quality as certain swords I've known of in my time, but it will still cause damage. If I'm not going to have use of my staff, I might as well, have something to poke people with, in an emergency." Granted, he uses the practical aspects of swords and staves primarily as a last resort. Magic is, and always has been, his go to offence and defence. He glances between Barbara and Frank at the Punisher's words as to what will bring him back. He nods. Strong personal connections are some of the strongest connections possible

Merlin offers Barbara a little smile and nod. "That is a healthy and strong attitude. It can be easy to get frustrated. Which I wouldn't be surprised if you've been frustrated a bit already." He says softly. "If you need anyone to just talk to, when we return, I offer my services. Same goes for if there's anything else you need, outside of what I've already offered to do. All I'll as in return is a nice cup of tea and a visit with Max."

Frank diverts to give Max some extra attention, scruffling up the dog's ears and giving a few rib-thumping pats. The dog clearly recognizes when Frank is going away for a while, and so he returns to the table with Castle, moving to lay down alongside Barbara's chair. Frank nods his approval, hefts his duffel, and shrugs a little, "Begging bastard gets more visitors than I do." There… might be a reason for that beyond Max being a charming dog. Max flanks Babs on one side, and Frank settles in at her other shoulder, grounding one knee and putting down the duffel so that he can slip an arm around her shoulders, establishing a careful connection without interrupting her conversation with Merlin.

Frank's words draw Babs's attention a moment, and she smiles a genuine affection for the man. But then she is back to looking at Merlin, and she nods a bit more soberly. "Yes. A cup of tea would be nice." And perhaps some conversation to go with it. Now she breathes out a soft sigh, and she looks over to Frank. "Wish I could come with you," she admits. Then she cups his cheek before she leans in to press a kiss to his forehead, and she murmurs, "Come home." Then she presses her forehead gently against his before she sits back up. She looks over to Merlin. "And be careful," she tells him, perhaps not worrying to say that to Frank.

"It's settled then, a cup of tea when we return. If ever I had a reason to ensure the safe return of myself and my travel companion, it would be for that." Merlin smiles. As Barbara and Frank do their quiet goodbye, he gets himself ready, gathering up any last minute items he may need. "Careful? I suppose I can consider being careful, if it would please you, Miss Barbara." He gives her a smile. Looking to Frank, he holds up one arm. "Shall we?" In his other hand, he holds the fob. As soon as Frank is holding on to him, he will begin the process.

Frank closes his eyes as Babs kisses his brow, leaning into the press of her forehead to his, and then straightens up, "I always do, Red." Until he doesn't. His hand squeezes her shoulder, and then he gathers up his gear, looking back to Merlin, even as he responds to Barbara, "I'll make sure he's careful." Because neither of them has any illusions about whether or not he's going to be careful. He wouldn't be Frank Castle if he were careful. Stepping over to Merlin, he reaches out to grasp the old wizard's upper arm, "Let's do this shit before I get second thoughts."

Barbara wheels out from under the table, turning to face them as Frank clasps Merlin's arm. Her smile is gentle, and she lifts her fingers to wave. Just as Merlin compresses the button on the key fob, Babs calls a warning. "Just remember! It's John's trinket!"

Then, the pair vanish.

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