15384/The Whisperer in the Desert

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The Whisperer in the Desert
Date of Scene: 27 July 2023
Location: Old Cairo Market,Cairo,Egypt
Synopsis: Magneto, Alice and Israa meet with the owner of The Serpent's Den in search of the Whisperer. The owner agrees and offers to arrane a meeting with the Whispere in exchange for a blanked favour from Magneto
Cast of Characters: Magneto, Red
Tinyplot: Eternal Eclipse

Magneto has posed:
Scarcely a day, merely twenty hours of the clock's round has passed since Magneto first crossed paths with Israa Al-Masri, yet an odd fondness, like ivy, starts to cling to his heart for the lady archaeologist. In her, he finds an unexpected ally, a vein of knowledge rich with useful titbits about the shadowy syndicate that caused the incident in Madripoor's Low Town.

Israa is the one who breathes life into the spectre that is The Order of Ascendance, her words painting a nebulous image of the clandestine group. She's not certain if they clothe themselves in other identities, but 'The Order of Ascendance' is the name she's come to know them by.

Still, there's a name whispered softer; a clue held tighter to her chest: a man known only as the Whisperer. Israa hints at the whisperer's vocation, a trader of secrets, a gatherer of information, an architect of an invisible web spun wide across Cairo, particularly the vibrant, bustling labyrinth of the Old Bazaar. His informants, a scurrying network of unseen feet and unseen eyes, are his pawns in this grand chessboard of intrigue.

To most, the Whisperer is but a myth, a tale spun for the gullible, a ghost story whispered in hushed tones at the local tavern. But Israa, ever the believer, isn't just convinced of his existence, she's as sure of it as the northern star in the night sky. Yet, she's also acutely aware of the potential firestorm that might erupt if they were to descend upon him unannounced, like moths to a flame. So, she recommends, it should be just her and Magneto on this covert mission.

However, in the chess game of their fate, another piece is added. Alice, the wildcard, joins the duo in their search, despite the risks.

Returning to the stone-clad pathways and the labyrinthine corridors of the Old Bazaar, Magneto, the titan of magnetism, turns his gaze towards Israa, curiosity gleaming in his eyes, a simple question on his lips, "Where, pray, should we begin our search?"
Red has posed:
A Wildcard? Well, maybe she was a hard to figure out factor, if only because she wasn't a well known figure of note. Not an X-man - she never made the cut - nor was she a member of the Brotherhood. At best... she was a server at the Hellfire Club. So, yes, she was an unknown factor.

Following Magneto and the archaeologist, the redhead has swapped to something that wouldn't stand out on the grand Bazaar. Which means... a full Burka.
Magneto has posed:
Even Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, has opted for an uncharacteristic blend into the scenery. The signature red and black boots, the flowing cape and the stately helmet, all set aside for the time being. Instead, he's chosen a Fedora, tipped forward, shading his eyes from the world, helping him hide in plain sight. His attire is completed by simple trousers, nondescript brown boots and a plain shirt.

"The Serpent's Den," Israa suggests, a note of gravity in her voice. "A place of notorious repute, to say the least."

Magneto's gaze swings towards Alice, a momentary exchange of glances, then back to Israa, silent anticipation urging her to continue.

"With a sigh, Israa elaborates, "The Den... It's a gathering place for many involved in shady deals, transactions that often reside in the grey areas of legality. Should a grave robber wish to exchange stolen tomb artefacts for quick coin, this is the place they'd choose. Not that there are many untouched tombs left these days, mind."

"And how, do you come by such knowledge? Have you ever brokered a deal within those shadowy walls?" Magneto's query hangs in the dusty air between them.

A look of stern disapproval flashes across Israa's face, "No. I have never partaken in the illicit trade of the Serpent's Den. However, there have been times when objects pilfered from my team resurface there. It's an unfortunate side-effect of our work.

It will be dangerous though."

Her gaze drifts towards Alice. Catching her glance, Magneto interjects, a touch of reassurance in his voice, "Miss Thompson can handle herself quite admirably."
Red has posed:
The head of the Burka moves as Alice nods, clearly listening. "I... know how to make it uncomfortable to underestimate me." she remarks, her body language hidden behind the veil and baggy clothes. Just as much as the chunks of polymer that she wears around the body.

With a little gesture of the arm, she tries to urge the Archaeologist to lead the way, nodding again. "Lead the way and we will... figure it out, yes?"
Magneto has posed:
Magneto's agreement is understated yet clear as he responds to Alice, "That, indeed, would be the best outcome."

Guided by Israa, they thread their way through the snaking alleyways of Old Cairo, a trio of seekers, until they stand before their destination: The Serpent's Den. Tucked away in a humble side lane, its facade is as non-descript as they come, the perfect disguise for the myriad secrets it houses within its belly. At the weathered wooden door, Israa whispers an Arabic phrase, a cryptic key that earns them entry as the door groans open.

The Serpent's Den, once entered, is an underworld draped in shadows, cloaked in intrigue. Its dim, smoky interior whispers of clandestine deals and hushed confidences. The clientele, a colourful jumble of personalities, huddles in quiet discourse, seeking sanctuary from the world's scrutinising eyes. The arrival of Magneto's company stills the hum of conversation, their entrance drawing attention as they cross the room to the bar.

Unfazed by the veiled scrutiny, Israa takes up her place at the bar, the picture of calm assurance. She requests a "Mystic Mirage," a concoction savoured by those who embrace life's enigmas. The barman, a grizzled man of few words, acknowledges the order with a curt nod, proceeding to concoct the beverage with practiced ease.

Magneto take up position next to Israa,. As they await, they feel the subtle scrutiny of the bar's occupants, each individual quietly assessing these fresh faces.
Red has posed:
Tagging along, Alice's attention is mostly on the people besides the bar, doing her best to try and keep the backs free of knives and other people - while staying out of the limelight by not doing too much. Just silently waiting.... for now.
Magneto has posed:
A few moments later, the bartender returns, setting before Israa a drink as exquisite as it is enigmatic, housed within a tall, finely wrought glass. The liquid within shimmers, its hues in a constant dance, flickering like a captivating mirage, capturing the attention of all who behold it. The drink's surface swirls with iridescent patterns, reminiscent of desert sand rippling under the relentless sun, a mystical dance within a glass.

With a delicate touch, Israa lifts the glass, her fingers cradling the intriguing concoction. As she does so, an intoxicating blend of exotic spices wafts in the air. Pivoting away from the bar, she surveys the crowd, her gaze locking onto a solitary, cloaked figure tucked away in a dim corner of the bar.

"That, over there, is 'Suleiman,' the enigma behind this establishment," Israa informs them, her voice barely above a whisper. "He's eccentric, a man of many layers. Rumours suggest a history entwined with secret societies. He may well have information about the Whisperer.

What say we venture over for a chat?"
Red has posed:
Alice nods as Israa whispers the information, slowly moving towards Suleiman. Bowing a tad, she whispers to the male. "Salam aleikum. Would you have time for a couple of westerners that would like to pay for your exquisite services? They have heard that you might be willing to assist in their pursuit."
Magneto has posed:
Without unveiling himself from the shadowy folds of his hood, Suleiman's voice drifts across the table, "Israa, she's no foreigner, she's of this land. As for the gentleman presenting himself... he's hardly what one would call a westerner. Although, I believe he currently holds reign over a nation off Africa's eastern shore.

So, I'm somewhat at a loss as to these 'westerners' you mention. And yet, I note, your own accent isn't exactly native."

Magneto takes a seat across from Suleiman, responding, "I see my reputation precedes me."

"Indeed, it does. In these parts, it's prudent to know one's world leaders," Suleiman counters, his voice as inscrutable as his hidden countenance.
Red has posed:
"What counts as the west depends on who you ask." Alice notes, waving Magneto in. "And for most, the mere color of our skin would count two of three as westerners. But as you have time, you have time."

"We heard you could help with... information. I guess the price will need to be right, but for that we might need to know your price... How much for what you know about The Whisperer?"
Magneto has posed:
"The Whisperer, you say?" Suleiman responds, an edge of intrigue lacing his words. "I wonder why you'd seek out such a man. He's a dangerous man, that one. After all, they say knowledge is power, and by that measure, he's a force to be reckoned with."

Israa leans in, her hands firm on the table, her voice crisp, "Enough, Suleiman," she retorts, her patience clearly worn thin. "Are you going to assist us or not? We know full well who we're dealing with, and it's his reservoir of knowledge we need access to."

Reclining further into his chair, Suleiman sinks deeper into the encompassing shadows. "Indeed, I can facilitate contact with the Whisperer. But there's a price," he raises a finger for each condition he outlines. "First, I want to understand your motives for seeking him out. Second, I want to hold in my pocket a favour owed by none other than the formidable Magneto."
Red has posed:
Glancing to Magneto, Alice sighs a moment. "That's... considerable." It wasn't upon her to decide that price, and she didn't have the information needed to divulge why they sought out the person in the first place.
Magneto has posed:
Magneto weighs Suleiman's conditions. The request for an undefined favour is a hefty one. What sort of demand could a man like Suleiman make in the future?

Yet before Magneto can dwell further on this, Israa interjects, her words cleaving through his contemplation, "We seek intelligence on The Order of Ascendance."

"I see..." Suleiman murmurs in response. Then, turning to Magneto, he presses, "And what about you? Have we struck a bargain?"

Suleiman extends his hand towards Magneto, a proposition hanging in the balance. There's a moment's pause before Magneto, with a certain finality, clasps the man's hand. "We have a deal."

"Excellent," Suleiman retreats further into his darkness. "I'll orchestrate a meeting with the Whisperer. But remember, he isn't fond of surprises. Come alone and return here tomorrow night."

Rising from her seat, Israa offers a courteous nod, "Our thanks."

Mirroring her, Magneto also rises, and together, they depart from the labyrinth of The Serpent's Den.

Once outside, Israa turns to Magneto, a hint of caution in her eyes, "I think it would be wise to have some backup ready for tomorrow night's rendezvous, hidden but at hand. Just in case."

"I concur," Magneto responds, his tone resolute.
Red has posed:
There's almost a sigh when Suleiman leaves, stress falling from the shrouded Alice, getting up together with the others.

As soon as they are outside, the whole shroud of the Burka starts to melt away into a more solid block. "I don't like the sound of it, but you know what you do... I mean, you're in this like a couple dozen years, you have the expertise. He didn't say a specific time, so... trickling in to keep an eye might be possible... and... he doesn't know all the faces. I hope."
Magneto has posed:
"We will be careful," Magneto replies to Alice. "The last thing we want to do is provoke a man such as the Whisperer. However, his knowledge on mutants remains unknown. He could be very dangerous."