The Ptolemaic Queen

The Ptolemaic Queen

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The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Melissa Finnigan on Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:55 pm

Late-September, 2028

It was a chilly Friday night. Northern winds had nipped down to scare the Scottish out of shorts and t-shirts and into light coats and jeans. It was a cruel reminder that, indeed, summer was over. The arrival of Hogwarts had been reminder enough of that, mind you. The Divination teacher had settled into the rooms she’d shared with her husband the year before and she was already back in the swing of teaching. Moreover, the first fire of the year had been lit by the House Elf she’d adopted from the kitchens. It definitely wasn’t summer anymore.

The House Elf’s name was Yeti, though she confessed to knowing very little about the animal she was named after much to her new mistress’s amusement. Yeti knew lots of other things, though, such as the Owl Directory off by heart, having memorised it during one of the witch’s morning double lessons on a Thursday while waiting for the twins to wake up. More was the point, Yeti was those extra pair of hands that the blonde woman needed with two children and the third whenever she was dropped off. She was a God-send.

Yeti certainly qualified as one of those trifling little matters the Hayes man didn’t need to know about, too. Such as this evening. That was another one—though it was hardly trifling.

The clock chimed on the mantelpiece and Millie lifted her gaze from the essays she’d gotten in that morning from her third years to find out their ability levels. She reached underneath her glasses and rubbed her eyes furiously, wishing that she’d had the foresight to order some contact lenses before she’d run out. Alas, now the spectacle company was taking their time as though to spite her and it was just a good thing that the thick-framed tortoiseshell glasses so incongruously suited her. Otherwise she would have had to have wandered around quite blind.

The twins were playing with blocks on the floor at her feet, in the midst of creating a pyramid. They were babbling to each other, beginning to construct some sort of language out of the words they heard around them. Unhelpfully, one of Yeti’s other special skills was languages. She was also fantastic at ironing but the House Elf was incapable of sticking to one language. Millie was beginning to pick bits up, too, and she was just waiting for the day she came back from class to find her son talking fluent Russian. She continued to read Shakespeare at night to them, though, so it went some way to counteract it.

Tonight, she was going to meet Michael. Baldric had been right all along. She’d known exactly what Urien and Cassias had been looking for. Indeed, he’d been right to say she had it, too. After Keiran had left and she’d gone back to Hogwarts, she’d rifled through her things and her hands immediately fell to what she’d been looking for – and, particularly, what Urien was looking for, too. Now, tonight, she was going to deal with it and put to bed the worry that was niggling in the back of her mind. Well, in truth, she was probably going to incite more trouble.

After dinner with the twins, she saw them bathed and put them to bed before getting dressed. She left Yeti on the sofa, the House Elf having developed a taste for watching Friends. Bean wasn’t opposed to the Elf, either, so the pair sat happily together watching the television, giving Millie the peace of mind that she could bag up her artefact. Then, she left the rooms and the castle to make her way into Hogsmeade where already the night had drawn in to begin playing tricks on an over-active imagination.

She’d long gotten over her fear of the Black Lake. The night, however, had a lot left to be desired and for good reason, too.

In the street not far from Hogsmeade, Millie passed by a shadowed alleyway – a rookie mistake that she recognised as soon as she felt fingers enclose around her upper arm. She swallowed her scream as a hand clamped over her mouth. She closed her eyes and clung onto the bag as she was dragged into the alley. The fingers pressed a little too close to her lips and she opened her mouth so that one slipped between – then she acted. Her teeth clamped down around it, the stab of hot blood burning across her tongue, and as the man cursed and loosened his grip she wriggled away.

She spat out the blood and pulled her wand from her boot before straightening and whirling around, pressing her wand to his chest. She felt his touch at her throat and in the green and red light that they filled the alley with from the end of their wands, she could perceive his face. He looked as though he hadn’t aged a day.

“Stephen,” she breathed as her chest heaved with exertion. “You look good for a dead man.”

“Melissa,” he cracked a smile. “As beautiful as ever – but out in the open and exposed. Taking a chance are we?”

“Are you going to kill me, Stephen?” She asked lightly, her wand burning emerald at its end.

“You look more likely to kill me,” he pointed out, his own deepening in its scarlet glow.

“I’m taking a chance,” she retorted, her lips twitching up into a sardonic smirk.

“Give me the bag, Melissa,” he murmured, wincing as she twisted the wand against his chest. He reapplied his grip on his own. “This can all go away. Just give me the bag.”

“It looks like you’re going to have to try and take it, Stephen.”

He opened his mouth to use the defensive spell and the incantation rang out in the cool air. A flash of red light ignited the alleyway and Millie stayed rooted to the spot, her eyes squeezed shut. She felt Stephen blow away from her like he was some of the leaves lining the street.

When she reopened them she shook the end of her wand, sending a beam of white light into the air. Stephen lay crumpled on the ground unconscious. Stood on the steps with a yellow light emanating behind from inside the pub was the last man that she’d expected to see, sparks of ruby red hissing from the end of his wand.

“Peter?”

He shushed her and hopped down the steps, reaching into his pocket. In the light, she could make out the runic-numeric number etched into his skin, betraying his former life as a convict. On any other man, the numbers would have given her pause but it was comforting to see him, if only for familiarity’s sake – but she knew he was no threat to her. He was one of the good ones, though both of them knew the world wasn’t as simple as that anymore.

Kneeling down beside Stephen, Peter pointed his wand into his face, his brows furrowing over his eyes. He hummed thoughtfully to himself and his hand found his pocket, reaching inside to take out a galleon. She frowned at him and stepped forward, watching as he tucked the coin into the breast pocket of Stephen’s shirt. Straightening back up, Peter moved away and they watched as Stephen shot up into the air, spinning away into the night.

“Argentina,” Peter told her simply, a chuckle warming his chest. “It will be a while before he darkens anyone’s doors again. In fact, the Ministry might even go looking for him.”

“Was that an illegal Portkey?” She raised a brow at him and he had the good grace to blush but thankfully the light above them dimmed and hid his embarrassment.

“Can’t take Azkaban out of the man,” he replied, extending his arm to her before opening out the other one.

She threw her arms around his middle and Peter lifted her up slightly so he could ascend the short steps into the pub once more. He kicked the door closed behind them and wrapped lowered her back to her feet before hugging her tightly, his lips finding the top of her head.

“You’re safe now, Mills,” he whispered before pulling away to look at her and make sure that what he’d said was sinking in. “How about I get you something warm to drink, hm?” He tempted. “Some Irish coffee, perhaps?”

“That sounds great,” she nodded and he took hold of her hand, leading her down the corridor and through a door into the pub.

She’d never been behind the bar, mind you, and she quickly tried to absorb everything about it before Peter opened the hatch and let her out into the main pub. She spotted Michael almost straight away, sat at his own table towards the back. She made to go over there but before she could, Peter caught her hand, pulling her back to him. His eyes searched hers and he frowned again in that way it seemed all Rookwood men did when they were trying to work someone – particularly a Finnigan – out.

“How did you know him?” He asked, choosing his words carefully. “Stephen,” he clarified. “How have you come across him before?”

“If I told you that, I’d have to kill you,” Millie teased him, trying to placate him with a smile.

Peter didn’t budge in his solemn seriousness. “Does this have anything to do with Urien Barnard?”

The shock on her face gave her away. “H-how?”

“Because I used to work for him,” Peter hissed, pulling her closer to him so that he could whisper in her ear. “He’s looking for something. I’ve had his people crawling all over this place looking for someone who might know. Stephen was the latest in a long line though Cassius was the one who was looking for the longest.”

“He’s dead, Peter,” she breathed, her eyes flicking to his. He seemed stunned by the news but he recovered quite quickly, muttering that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer man.

“Do you know what they’re looking for, Millie?” He asked.

“When did you work for him?” She countered.

“When I first got out,” he told her instantly, without skipping a beat. “Before I went and got Fin. I needed money. He was quick fix. Regular jobs. Good pay. Simple work. You know him how?”  

“He used to sell me cheap narcotics,” she replied honestly. “He liked me and Bae. We used to sing for him at his club. Are there … are there any more of them in here now?”

“No,” Peter shook his head, looking out over the patrons. “No, you can usually tell them apart from the usual lot. If you want a dragon egg, though, the bloke over there is selling them,” he pointed to a man with a shock of auburn hair.

“I haven’t got time for a dragon,” she commented airily. “Maybe next year.”

Millie pulled away and turned on her heel, striding towards Michael’s table. Peter called that he’d be over in a moment or two and he turned away himself to go and make the coffee. Millie sat down across from Michael and dropped the bag to the floor, her feet catching it and squeezing it tightly so that she could still feel the box inside.

“Thank you for meeting me here,” she told him quietly, adding, “please tell me you still have your black market contacts.”
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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Michael Tremaine on Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:59 pm

The Hogshead had come to know Michael as a regular.  Well, when the village was as small as Hogsmeade was, there weren't a lot of ways to get lost in it.  


It had been an unseasonably damp and chilly evening, so he'd picked up a black jacket and tossed it on over his black jeans and his gray cotton shirt.  He had decided to warm up over a firewhiskey. He'd simply taken the bottle and a couple of extra glasses to his table with him. He saw Millie come in, and he refilled his glass.  Her request had sounded like business. 


Good. He needed to work.  He hated being bored, and he wasn't exactly in the mood for gardening, not that it didn't need done. It did.  The flowerbeds needed weeding, and he needed to put in some more perennials this season.


Boring. With Alete stagnating in custody, Michael needed to keep his mind occupied.  A good caper did good for one's soul sometimes.


Millie came over and joined him finally and sat down.  Michael poured a shot of firewhiskey into a glass and put it in front of her.  "Good evening," he said. "Happy to help. At least look like you're drinking, though, would you?" 


He listened to her request for black market contacts. Not an uncommon request. He hadn't expected it from Millie, but, ah well, Michael tried not to judge any book by its cover.


"Contacts? Of course," he said. "I've got some contacts."  Well, that was an underestimation, sorta like calling the Shard just another office building. Michael was very well connected. He was connected partly because he still needed contacts, but he was also connected because there were so few with Michael's skills anymore. People sought him out.


Artists that knew not only muggle security technology, but magical incription systems, along with old school thievery? Those folks could be counted on one hand. The list of people that said they could do it was enormous, but the truth of who could was in single digit numbers.  


"Am I buying or selling?" he asked, sipping on his own whiskey.

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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Melissa Finnigan on Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:12 pm

She smirked and took the glass, turning it around with her thumb and forefinger. She lifted it up to her lips and swallowed the shot, the familiar burn that slid down her throat somewhat comforting. She put it down again and licked the odd sweetness from her lips. She cast a look in the direction of the bar before turning her attention back to Michael.

“We’re in the selling business,” she hedged, her fingers tapping against the table top. “I don’t suppose you know anything about Cleopatra’s jewellery box, do you?”

It was a well-known myth of sorts, though the jewels encrusted within it were much more interesting. Rubies, emeralds and sapphires were all impressed into the solid gold box, its hinges encrusted with diamonds and its insides lined with a sumptuous material that was of such a kind that it was impossible to say quite what it was.

It was also rumoured that it had once held secrets in it to all kinds of different mysteries of the magical and muggle worlds. A few historians had suggested that while the contents had been moved, the box still held secrets – particularly, it was believed that the box held secrets which would help an intrepid explorer to its former contents. This was extensively debated, of course.

“I might…” she continued as she slid the bag towards him under the table. With a flick of magic, she unzipped it so if he looked down he could peek at the gold between the lips of the zipper.

“…be looking to sell it,” she finished, raising her brows at him gently, trying to judge what he’d say about it.

It was then that Peter came over to the table, bringing her cup of Irish coffee. He set it down and took a chair out from under the table. As he did so, he spotted the bag and its contents. Millie glanced up to see his eyebrows shoot to his hairline. A low whistle parted his lips and he sat down, his forearms coming forward to rest on the edge of the table briefly before offering his hand to Michael.

“Peter,” he said by way of introduction before looking at Millie. “How much trouble is this going to get you into?”

“Plenty,” she told him with an impish grin, her eyes flicking to Michael. “This may be someone else’s,” she suggested with a shrug of her shoulder. “It’s less about selling it, more about making sure he sees.”

“Ever heard of Urien Barnard? Sells everything illegal under the sun but purports to be a respectable businessman. He owns a chain of nightclubs, all called The Charcoal Den. He should be on a Ministry watch list but I doubt they could pin anything on him.” Peter exchanged the coffee for Millie’s shot glass and poured himself and Michael another.

“We’ve got a history,” Millie interjected. “And we’ve had some disagreements over the years. I’d like to win this battle. Care to help?”
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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Michael Tremaine on Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:49 pm

Michael shook Peter's hand.

"Michael," he replied to Peter. He listened to Millie's story.

"Bloody hell," he said softly, a trifle surprised. She was in more danger than she knew, and Barnard wasn't the only one she really should have been watching for.  "Did you actually find it?" He peeked down at the bag. "Yeah, you sure did. Close the bag so you don't look too obvious. Do yourself a favor and try not to look overly skilled, would you? Let's play him a tadbit."

He continued to listen, sipping on firewhiskey. "I know Urien. Well, we know each other," Michael said. Then he added sarcastically, "And he just loves me to pieces. He's rumored to have a much more 'playful' protection detail these days. Or thats what the streets say, anyway." 

What Michael had heard was that Barnard was adding more goons, and these were specialists in inflicting pain for whatever purpose Barnard wished.  That disgusted Michael, and it made him want to end the man's wicked empire once and for all.

Michael had disappointed Barnard years ago but intercepting a big shipment of rare alchemy artifacts. Michael had gotten to the artifacts only a moment or two before Barnard's goons, and had liberated them and turned them over to the Ministry.

Michael remembered well the midnight chase through the Edinburgh streets in the pouring down rain.  He'd managed to escape only by the skin of his teeth, but Barnard's men had resorted to oldfashioned gunfire. Michael had escaped with his life but had nearly lost his leg from the gun wound. He had made it to Robert and then had passed out from blood loss. 

Barnard had since always seemed to be willing to try to off Michael when he had the chance. Michael certainly could not take him down alone, but with help? They might be able to do it and survive.

"Oh, yeah," Michael said, determined. "This is one I can't afford not to be involved in. If we work together, we might just survive. Good, then. Sounds like fun. Let's rattle his cage, shall we?"

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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Melissa Finnigan on Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:25 pm

“Stole it,” she replied simply. She sat back in her chair and lifted her coffee to her lips as she passed her hand under the table. The zip stifled itself and the gold glittered out of sight. The bag slid back across the boards and she clasped it with her ankles before swallowing a mouthful of the coffee and setting it down on the table’s surface. She licked her lips absent-mindedly and cleared her throat before bringing her hands down into her lap, getting comfortable.

“I used to be quite close to Urien,” she began her elaboration. “When I left, he let me go without much complaint. I made sure to help myself to a souvenir. I won’t lie and say I had no idea what it was but I didn’t know quite what they wanted it for at the time. I still don’t now but I … now I just want to mock him, really. He, um...”

She moved her finger around the rim of the cup. “He threatened Baldric and his family, or … well, he sent someone to. They would have done the same to me but they haven’t, until tonight, been able to get hold of me.” She swallowed and shook her head, glancing over at Peter who had stiffened, his eyes flicking behind the bar at the stairs that led up to the apartment where his son was sleeping. The idea of him being in danger created a volatility in Peter he couldn’t control and her own threatened state made her reckless. Taking a chance are we?

“Ideally, I’d like a deal,” Millie declared, somewhat tentatively. “Leave me and mine alone and he can have the box for all I care.”

“But do we know what it actually does?” Peter interjected gently, pouring another glass of firewhisky for himself. “Is it safe in his hands?”

“He’s a collector,” Millie shrugged her shoulder. “I don’t think he ever worked the box out.”

“Have you?” Peter asked.

Millie merely winked in response, adding: “I’ve spent a few years with that box, yes. But I don’t think using its secrets is worth the danger he is putting us all in.”

“Unless,” Peter hedged, “we can use it against him.”
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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Michael Tremaine on Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:40 pm

"So what's your idea, then? Shall offer him the box, then, conditionally?" Michael didn't believe for one moment that a simple trade--the box for Millie's life--would be one that Barnard would hold to. Oh, sure, he'd agree to it immediately but he wouldn't honor it. There was a certain honor among thieves, but Barnard was that exception to most rules.

"Or do we want to use this to flip it back on him, and put him out of business? That is very possible, you know, depending on how hungry the box will make him. If that's not enough of a lure for him, we might have to add a wee bit to sweeten the pot for him. Just how permanent do you want this deal to be?"


He figured he already knew the answer.  To offer him a prize like the box for any other purpose but a permanent arrangement was foolishness.  However, his own experiences suggested that some of the people who had procured things for him hadn't exactly left the deals in the same health they'd gone in with.

Michael disliked the man enough that he was sorely tempted to want to orchestrate a bit of a sting to lure him in and then screw him out of the box permanently. In point of fact, he was sure that a peek at Barnard's hidey holes and faults might make them all quite wealthy for the rest of their lives.  That was certainly tempting.

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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Melissa Finnigan on Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:33 pm

She was sorely out of practise when dealing with Barnard. Urien had been a doting father-like figure when there had no longer been one, part of the lost years. Such affection could only continue for as long as she played to his tune. Baldric lost his puff, his taste for that lifestyle, and she’d followed after him out of loyalty, winding up back at Hogwarts where the Ministry unleashed itself on her with rampant unrepentance.

Now look where she was: alone, as ever, and his shadow was looming over her even more than it already had been. Stephen had found her – or, rather, had gotten to her – which meant no one was safe anymore. It meant she had to act. It meant somehow, she had to remember what it felt like to dance to his tune, to anticipate just as he had always wanted to, to be his clever little doll. Only now she had to use it against him and she had to use his soft spot against him, too.

It meant kill where otherwise Stephen would have stunned her.

It meant tease him with the box instead of holding on to it or getting rid of it completely.

It meant getting his attention. Getting even. Getting her life back.

Checkmate, Urien.

Sitting forward, Millie closed her hands around her coffee cup and glanced over at Peter, watching as the fire in the hearth behind her chair spread amber light across his cheeks, bringing the gold out in the scruff across his jaw and illuminating the patch in a line that scorched through the hair, almost as though a scar had once been there or a spell had clipped him and taken the hair away permanently. Whatever the reason, there was nothing there.

Sensing her gaze on him, Peter flicked his eyes round and he dipped his gaze into hers. She felt the familiar press of something against her mind, a gentle tug of a presence behind her eyes that was not solely her own. His voice resounded softly in her mind like a whisper but it dipped away again, suggesting he was not entirely well practised in the art he was employing. Yet his words were a reminder to focus and a light smile, one that betrayed the cheekiness of a man who knew he was being stared at, flitted across his features. He brought his glass to his lips.

“Can we sell it in bits?” She asked, taking a deep breath and regaining her countenance. “Or at least put it on the market, advertise it, in bits. It will get his attention and make him panic because he’ll have to spread himself thinly if he wants to get it all back at once. It might produce a weakness of some kind.”

“What is he threatening, exactly?”

“He wants the box,” she replied to Peter, watching as he poured more firewhisky. “He threatened Bae and Ben and their children,” she swallowed, her eyes returning to Michael. “No one has really formally given me any ultimatums. I haven’t given them the chance.” She reached up and pulled at the back of her neck anxiously before deciding. “I just want everyone to be left alone. If that means we sink everything, fine. I just want him gone.”
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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Michael Tremaine on Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:40 am

Michael hadn't looked at the box indepth. This wasn't the place, but she was onto a good plan. He nodded when she asked about selling the box in bits.


"We very likely could remove a gem or two without damaging the integrity of the box and tease him with it, but, Egyptian mystical items are available through the 'market.' Perhaps, if we're clever, we can assemble a collection of antique mystical items--if they're the genuine article.


"We could feed him a piece or two at a time, as a teaser. Give him a backstory about a collection that's fallen into the hands of an anonymous collector that wants to liquidate due to, well, maybe failing health? Perhaps our imaginary collector believes his offspring won't 'appreciate' the collection properly. 


"Sometimes, when trying to land a big fish, the key is to let some line out, reel it in, let a bit more out...and be patient about it until the catch is good and hooked. If we're going to insure the safety of so many people, he's going to have to be inconvenienced in a strong enough way that they aren't going to need to look over their shoulders in a year or two from now. If we're going to go after Urien Barnard, we'd best be prepared to play the game for keeps."


He looked at Millie perhaps more seriously. "I know who trained you. I know you can fight." He looked at Peter. "No offense, but how are your fighting skills? Can you manage with a wand or with a muggle weapon? And, if necessary, how are your bar room brawling talents?"

Michael also had access, largely because of Robert's huge muggle weapon collection, to not just wands and potions, but guns, bows, arrows, grenades, and just about anything else any muggle ever dreamed up. He didn't figure Robert would miss anything if Michael "borrowed" something. He doubted these two knew that sort of firepower existed, and he intended to keep it that way, but Michael surely knew how to get it. And if need be, he knew all sorts of safehouses.

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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Melissa Finnigan on Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:06 pm

“What if, we don’t need to break it?” Peter suggested, sitting heavily back against the chair.

Millie looked at him incredulously. “The collectors will know fakes from a mile off.”

“I’m sure they could smell them,” Peter agreed, leaning forward. “But what if we floated real ones? Urien couldn’t resist a man with the genuine article.”

“Where on earth are you going to get genuine articles from?” Millie asked hotly. Michael’s idea was getting better and better the longer Peter spoke.

The sandy-haired man chuckled and let himself fall back, his lips finding another shot of firewhisky. He dropped the glass and wiggled his brows at her, a dogged grin appearing on his face. She frowned a little bit and Peter watched as light dawned on her, her eyes widening briefly before an accusatory glare flashed across her prim features.

“No,” she told him warningly.

“I can fight,” Peter told Michael, pulling at the button at the end of his shirt sleeve. He rolled it up a little, just enough for the skin underneath the crease of his elbow to be seen, the fading Azkaban identification tag shining in the firelight. “I learned the hard way how.”

“Your son is upstairs,” Millie hissed at him.

“And two of your children are at Hogwarts, the other in London,” Peter snapped back. “Divided. Vulnerable. You want Urien gone, hm? Urien will be a damn sight more upset if we start picking things off of the box. We need actual jewels. Something he can believe might have belonged in the box once.”

“I don’t think chancing Azkaban again is really worthwhile,” Millie endeavoured, glancing feverishly between Peter and Michael, looking to the latter for some support.

Peter chose to ignore her. Perhaps it was the temptation of getting his nimble fingers working again. Perhaps there was something unfulfilling about being owner of the Hog’s Head. Whatever it was, his mind was fixed on the idea and Millie knew there would be no dissuading him now. She’d learned enough about the bartender in recent weeks, after discovering it was the man shovelling snow who had bought it, to understand a modicum of his past, to understand him a little bit.

“There are jewels in the British Museum from that era,” Peter told Michael. “The Muggles, bless them, wouldn’t know the difference between the McCoy and decent copies. If the box is as powerful as history suggests, we can’t start fiddling with it without risking our own hides.”

“Oh, because raiding the British Museum is so much simpler?” Millie huffed at him.

Peter smirked again. “Scared, love?”

She squared a funny look at him but soon wiped it away.

“Lacking practise,” she countered smoothly, picking up her cup.

“I’m not suggesting a raid,” Peter smiled, turning back to Michael. “I’m suggesting something with a little bit more finesse. I’m suggesting we take what we want to sell and leave copies behind. I think that’s the kind of collection we need.”
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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

Post by Michael Tremaine on Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:28 pm

"Careful there," Michael said. "Men like Urien are known to be very meticulous in the tiny details. Very often a gemstone can have unique facets and flaws that make it almost as specific as a signature. If you're going to send him a duplicate, you'll need a master craftsmen to try to cut a real stone with exactly the same flaws.  That will be time consuming and outrageously expensive.

"Gemstones would certainly work, but if we go that way, I think we'd be better off to get black market stones. Less signature from them.  Now, do we want muggle stones or magical stones, if its stones we want?"


"It might be worthwhile to presume that Urien knows precisely what he's doing and, if he's been hunting it as long as she says, he no doubt has memorized the tiniest flaws in the box in head until they'd be glaring differences. Obsession can do that to a man, and the longer he's been obsessing, the more dangerous this whole thing is going to be.


"My own vote is one of two. Damaging the box could certainly backfire if we don't understand the magic behind it.  So, either Peter's idea with other gems, or a collection of artifacts to dangle in front of him. I can get ancient Egyptian magical artifacts.  Small ticket things that have little charms and hexes.  Small change stuff. The black market has those.  We might be able to assemble enough of a collection for him to believe that we represent a collector that doesn't know the real value of the box. And if he thinks he's getting a deal, he'll be all the more hungry to agree to a price. But lets not make it easy for him by setting the prices too low."


He looked at Peter and Millie. "If he wants this, we've got to make him work for it. We can't make it easy, or he'll know we're up to something. Men like him tend to like to think they have the upper hand or they don't play."

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Michael Tremaine
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Re: The Ptolemaic Queen

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