Research Party

Spellbound Books - Westminster - London

Built-in wooden shelves filled with books on various metaphysical and occult topics, as well as mythology, line the royal blue walls. The shelves are divided by openings to the left and right, and of course directly across from the entrance where the counter is.

To the right of the entrance is an area that is separated from the shop with a blue and white beaded curtain. Behind the curtain is a seating area, focused around a large round table that is covered with a white crocheted cloth. Atop the table is a small crystal ball, around which a pattern of tarot cards can typically be found. Surrounding the table are several antique armchairs, and a deep blue Victorian style couch. Against the wall are a few shorter bookshelves with various crystals and items.

To the left of the entrance is a vastly open area. Several glass counters can be found, housing silver and pewter jewelry, decorated with a variety of stones and crystals. The window display for the shop can also be found here, a more traditional "occult" set up, with pewter chalices, glass skulls, and crystal balls.

Directly across from the entrance is a wooden counter that holds an old fashioned, non-digital cash register. The wall behind the counter is a small shelf filled with jars of odd-colored powders, and tinctures, as well as clear, labeled jars stuffed with every herb imaginable, as well as contorted roots. The front of the counter is typically strewn with fliers for events going on in London, as well as events and sales going on in the shop.


Characters

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Carys Jasmine Jean

Jasmine didn't realize how hard it is to find a reputable occult bookstore until she actively went looking for one, reputable being a keyword. The first few she ventured into had a small selection of books and a large selection of incense, and there were two that clearly served as store fronts for someone trying to pass themselves off as a psychic reader. That was amusing as Jasmine immediately knew that neither supposed 'reader' was very good at doing much more than taking money, though the second woman had at least some low level latent talent. Sad that she'd never put it to much use. She'd thought about trying to convince George to come with her, but recalling his skeptical disbelief in her tale, Jasmine shelved the idea before it could fully form.

Of course, an occult bookstore hadn't been her first choice. Her first choice had been a standard chain, and once she'd sloughed through what could only amount to commercialism of her topic - and giving the one sales clerk a disbelieving look as she tried to foist that abdomination of the Twilight series on Jasmine - she thought perhaps she needed to look a bit more far afield. Which is how she came to be spending Monday night in Spellbound books, perusing the shelves for something informative and realistic regarding … Vampires.

Not an easy topic, to be sure. Jean, on the other hand, is more interested in Werewolves, presently. Still… V… W… pretty close together, those sections are. She knows the proprietress here, too — a fellow witch named Glynis. She's not close to her, but close enough to sometimes be allowed to check out the rare and unusual stocks.

Glynis isn't here right now, however. So, Jean is consigned to trolling the more public stacks. That's how it goes, sometimes. She pulls out a green covered tome and starts flipping through it. A scowl touches her brows and she sighs audibly before shoving it back on the shelf.

Jasmine has wandered her way to the proper section. Or at least what she hopes is the proper section. She's prepared today, meaning that she's wearing a long sleeved sweater and a pair of light leather gloves. Jasmine has been hiding a little in her head space, but really, she can't be blamed for that given everything.

At the sigh she gives a quick glance to the body to her right, then turns back to the shelves. A blink, a frown and the face is familiar except that she's having trouble putting it to rights in her mind …

"Oh, don't I know you?" Jasmine asks when she recognizes that stealing more than one glance at the young woman can probably be badly misinterpreted.

Jean cants her head at the sound of a vaguely familiar voice. She glances over to Jasmine and smiles. There's a moment. A flash in her thoughts is an image of a noisy pub, battle of the bands, and a sheepish looking Rex as he had to explain to both women why he was a good 2 hours late. Then, Jean grins.

"You're Jasmine, aren't you? From the Absinthe." She's sure of it, now. "Been a while, eh?"

Jasmine breathes a sigh of relief. Both at the recognition, which means that she's not imagining things, and also for the context. When the other woman says the words, Jasmine can recall her name. She also recalls having one pint too many and giving her telephone number to the bass player who never called. Story of my life, Jasmine thinks with an inward shake of her head.

"Yes, yes it has," Jasmine agrees. "Jean, innit?" She's pretty sure that's the name, but she's looking for confirmation. It's good to see the other woman; it's good to know that she knows someone who might share her new found interest in the more preternatural world. "Glad to see a friendly face 'round here, actually." Because George would probably laugh at her, and her father dismissed the conversation before it could even begin.

"Yeah, Jean," the red-head acknowledges her name. She grins, glancing around the place. "Yeah, it's a good place, this is. Fun, really." She gestures to the shelves. "Crazy stuff to be found, if you know where to look."

She moves closer to Jasmine and scans the shelves. "Horror buff?"

Jasmine thinks of how to answer the question. She finally settles for truth, or most of it. After all, they're in an occult bookstore. The worse that can happen is that they can launch into a pleasant debate that doesn't start with the words (or thoughts) of 'You're a nutter.'

"More like, research. Curiosity. That sort of thing." Protection, is the thought that Jasmine doesn't add.

Oh, Jean won't accuse anyone of being a nutter for looking into the occult. Though, there are some she might discourage from such pursuits. Jasmine isn't one of them, however. The woman seemed pretty cool when they spent that one evening waiting for Rex. And, just because Jasmine came across as a little timid when they first met, by the end of that evening — after Jasmine had had one or two too many — she turned out to be a lot braver than she first seemed. So, while Jean won't be inviting her down into the HVAC unit any time soon, she won't be pushing her away either.

"Yeah. I get that," she agrees. Indeed, in her mind, there is a passing thought about just how difficult it is to find reliable research information in most stores in the city.

"Glynis, the owner here, is good at finding the obscure stuff. You a vampire buff, then?"

The soft low, half-surprised, half-nervous twittering laugh that escapes Jasmine's throat really can't be helped. 'Buff' is most certainly not the way the young woman would describe her interest in the subject matter.

"N-n-not ex-ex," Jasmine stops, takes a deep breath. She doesn't stutter anymore. She hasn't stuttered since she was nine and one of the brilliant psychologists at the Clinic finally declared that she'd worked out the issues with her mother's desertion. Denying it doesn't make it go away, and Jasmine knows that truthfully the stutter only comes back when she's caught out in surprise, or she's lying, or she's well and truly nervous. Not a little nervous, liking working up the courage to talk to a fit bloke in a band, but gearing up to give a presentation to a crowded room type nervous.

The moment of breath is all it takes to get back under control. "Not exactly," Jasmine lets out with a soft breath. "I mean, I don't have these crazy romantic notions about them. I'm just more curious about the real stories. The legends and folklore that gave rise to the vampire stuff, yeah?"

Jasmine worries her lip and looks away, flipping through the book she'd pulled from the shelves earlier. "I think some of it might be true." It's a softly whispered confession, and she doesn't know why she said the words, except that the fleeting thought she picked up makes her half-hopeful that Jean might just be willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Jean's head cants slightly at the stutter, but she's polite enough to overlook it. Still, the sense of a question rises in her mind. Why would answering that fluster the other young woman? Still, smiling lightly, choosing to let the question go for the moment, she gives a light nod. "Yeah, I don't know much about Vampires, myself. 'Cept, I guess, what you see in the movies or books. I figure there, there's a grain of truth in every story. Or, at least, in their origins. Finding the source is generally all about careful research into the earliest stories or tracing stuff through legend and folk traditions."

Apparently, this is a subject Jean warms to. The sense of it is forefront in her mind, along with thoughts of all the hours she's spent pouring over pictures of old pottery shards and archaeological digs, artefacts and historical records. There's a reason she's an archaeology student, it seems. She gets jazzed on this stuff.

Jasmine nods, some of the tension flowing from her shoulders. "I never really thought much about any of it until recently. Always figured it was all movies and books. Somebody being all creative and letting their imagination run wild but …" She trails off, and looks back at the book in her hand for a moment, and then takes a surrepitious glance around the bookshop. When she looks back at Jean, her there's a light of curiosity dancing in her eyes.

"Do you, you know, believe in it? Ghosts and vampires and it all? I mean, really believe in it?" It's not the sort of question she would typically ask a near-stranger, but esconced in the bookshop here, it doesn't seem like such an odd question at all.

Jean considers the question for a moment. She, herself, is a Witch. It's the first thought in her mind. A real, honest-to-goodness, spellbooks-and-cauldron Witch. Not the sort seen in fairytales or on TV, sure enough, but one with real power. Her best friend, she knows without a doubt, is a Werewolf. So, yes, she does believe in it all. She has no choice.

The real choice is whether or not to admit it.

She cants her head, debating only for a moment, as to what to tell Jasmine. The other young woman is so nervous, and has been to one degree or another, since Jean met her. For a moment, she wonders if its because the woman has an 'alternative world-view' than most people. It's a tough place for someone to be. Jean isn't one to dissemble, however. So, the indecision is brief, at best.

She glances about the bookstore as well. It's nearly empty, and there's no one in the sections immediately adjacent to them. They're the only two in the section that covers Vampires, at this moment — Jeans foray into the Werewolf section beside it forgotten in light of the conversation.

"Yeah," she says, giving a mild matter-of-fact shrug. "I do. I know it sounds a little barmy, but… Well, it's like it says in Hamlet, right? There are more things in heaven and earth than are drempt of in our philosophy."

Ok, so she paraphrased a little. The point stands.

Almost as though uttering the word "ghost" conjures up one who actually fears the little ghoulies that continue to appear, Carys comes down the back stairs of the shop. At the bottom she glances up and HMPHS rather loudly at the sound of someone stomping into their flat.

She has a broom in her hand as she turns to close the door behind her, then blinks when she notices that there are people in the shop.

"Cor!" The broom nearly clatters to the ground, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly as she tries to determine whether or not they're actually real. Brown eyes shift toward the front of the shop, then back to the two she's just spotted.

"Sorry, 'ad a spot of trouble to take care of. Need 'elp with anything?"

There's a moment of shock, followed by that sweeping overwhelming relief as Jasmine picks up on Jean's thoughts. It's not that she's listening intently, she really isn't, but she's been tense and alert for days now, and it's only natural that she should hear and pick up on those things that skitter across the surface. Her training wasn't in public relations or anything of the sort, so she has to rely on ducking her head briefly while she schools her face to something a little less surprised. Jasmine hopes that when she looks up again that Jean will take whatever her face shows as relief at the words, and not the thoughts behind them. How else would she think anything else, Jas? Isn't like she's a Talent, Jasmine reminds herself. No, she's a ~witch~ Which isn't as surprising as it might have been another day and time.

Jasmine has heard whispers and rumors, the truth of witches and other things whispered as tales after dark back at the Academy, but just as with that other encounter, Jasmine never expected to come face-to-face with the real thing.

"Oh, thank god, then you won't think that I'm a right nutter myself," Jasmine says with a bob of her head. "Is why 'm here, really. True believer and all, looking for information."

Whatever else she might have said is cut off by the appearance of the dark-haired shop girl. "Oh, hello. Just um … browsing, yeah?" A pause and a beat before she adds, "Is this all you have on vampires?"

Jean is something of a regular at the shop — one of the ones Glynis has actually been known to let into the "rare stocks" in the back room. So, the chances are good she and Carys have bumped into each other a time or two before. And, being the straightforward sort she is, she's not inclined to be less than forthright with anyone. "Hey, Carys," she greets the clerk, giving an easy smile as she does. "Miss Priss knocking things over again?" Glynis' big fluffy Persian cat. A right terror to mice, birds, figurines, toes, and ankles everywhere.

Nonetheless, she gives Jasmine an empathetic smile. Lots of 'true believers' in this shop, really. "I wondered," she admits quietly, eyes sparkling.

Nothing wrong with a nutter. She didn' mean anything by it. She doesn't know…

Gripping the broom more tightly, she taps the bristles against her foot. "Depends wot'cher lookin' for, yeah? You want 'istorical mythos, biblical references, or fantasy vampires? 'eard those're all the rage these days. Ms. Davies carries everythin' but the last. No point in that when you can pick up those sparkly books at every other shop."

Carys finally recognizes the red head when her own name is mentioned, and she seems to breathe a sigh of relief. Definitely not talkin' to myself this time. "'aven't seen'er all day. Was chasin' Andrew up the stairs again. 'im'n those muddy boots'a 'is."

Pause.

"There was somethin' under the counter for you. Want it now?"

The shop girl's thoughts — what was that Jean called her, Carys? — are even more close to the surface than Jean's were. It's almost as if … Jasmine takes a moment while the pair are talking and tentatively opens her mind and she doesn't even really have to focus that all. The shop girl has Talent, nothing like Jasmine's certainly, but it's there if one is sensitive enough to know what to look for. Of course, it isn't as though Jasmine even knows what to do with that information now that she's gleaned it, because she really doesn't even know what it is. Maybe that's what they meant all those times they talked about latent Talent.

Jasmine is so focused on that discovery that she can't really puzzle out or make sense of the meaning behind the thought she heard so clearly, and by the time she has the good graces to move back her light scrutiny, Carys has moved on. Jasmine blinks at the list of what she's been offered. "Um, historical mythos?" Jasmine isn't looking for fantasy entertainment. "I'm definitely staying clear of the sparkles."

Jean flashes a grin at the talk of all those sparkles. Is there a bigger piece of tripe on the market, right now? She doubts it.

"Yeah," she answers Carys. "Yeah, that'd be great. Thanks."

She doesn't remember ordering anything, but periodically Glynis will leave her something. The elder witch seems to have taken a shine to her.

"How's Andrew, then? Still causin' trouble?" Andrew's cute, whatever his politics. So, Jean isn't above asking after him.


'istorical mythos…

"Right then. There's a better shelf on the other side. This stuff is 'ogwash for those wee ones that go gaga for the sparklies." Which is why there are titles like "How to Date a Vampire" included in this section.

Carys sweeps the broom out in front of her, as though shooing away a particularly annoying pest, though there is nothing in front of her. When she reaches the counter she leans the broom against the back wall and retrieves a book-sized package wrapped in brown paper.

"You know 'ow 'e is… seein' ghosts in every corner. Kept tryin' to tell me 'is EMF detector was goin' nuts upstairs, like the shop were 'aunted or somethin'."

To Jean's friend, she says, "Right there. 'istories, mythologies, local lore such as the books on the Highgate Vampire. That'd be wot'cher lookin' for."

Jasmine thanks Carys for the help, but doesn't immediately turn to scour the books. She's kept half an ear on the conversation, and it has spiked her curiosity. There doesn't seem to be any polite way to interject, and after mulling it over a bit, Jasmine just plunges in. "Do you have a ghost hunter living upstairs?" She's not poking fun. A few months ago, a few weeks ago Jasmine would have found the idea amusing. Now, she finds it intriguing.

"Not so much a ghost hunter," Jean explains, "as a ghost debunker. He likes to unequivocally state the scientific impossibility of ghosts. But, if you ask me, he makes an awful lot of noise about it. Just a little too passionate." Translation: She thinks the man doth protest too much. She flashes a grin, however. "But, it's a helluva lot of fun to get him all wound up about it."

Would she really do that?

'Hell, yes,' is written all over her thoughts. She likes teasing Andrew. If she could, she'd let him in on the reality of her world, just to shut him up. But, she can't, so she doesn't.

"Y'ever watch the Unexplained Channel? 'e's one'a them pretty faces." Carys makes air-quotes, "Paranormal Investigator. Ain't bad on the eyes though, I'll give you that." Cue cheeky grin.

"'e's generally down 'ere buggin' us, goin' on about 'ow we've got a wee ghost which is a load of poppycock." //Is it really? There is a man… but no, he's not really there. He's never really there… //

"No," Jasmine shakes her head, "I've never watched it. Maybe I will though." Any reason to get an eyefull of a fit bloke, and one that's actually real, as opposed to seemingly kilometers removed because of his star status. It's a random silly notion that flies in and out of her head quickly. Which is a good thing, because she's completely caught off-guard by the force of Carys's thoughts.

Jasmine barely catches herself from staring at the shop girl. Her words are at odds with her thoughts, which means she doubts herself or she's saving face, or You don't have the skill to even try to figure this out. She almost ignores it, but then tries a different tactic, "Don't believe in ghosts?"

Jean doesn't answer for Carys, as to whether or not the other girl believes in ghosts. Honestly, it's not really a discussion they've had… though, there've been debates about it whenever Andrew's shown up. She merely grins at Jasmine as she suggests she may have to catch up on the program. The man is definitely worth watching — even if she does roll her eyes at him more often than not.

She takes the brown paper package from Carys, however, and looks at it. No way to tell, through the wrapping, what's inside — other than the fact it's a book and Glynis' neat handwriting has stated in block letters across the front: For Jean Kavanaugh.

Should be interesting reading, whatever it is.


"No."

There is so much behind that single word. Fear, anger, frustration, confusion. It's all there.

Outwardly there's only a small falter to the small smile she's been keeping up, before she strengthens it and shrugs it off. "No point in believin' in what ain't there." Who are you kidding, Carys? Pause. Stop it. Stop it! They're not real… and I'm not going back there.

"Don't mean the show ain't a lark though. Andy's pretty fun to watch. Very animated. Right into what 'e's investigating, even if everyone else figures it's bunk."

Jasmine pulls back and shields herself the way she's been taught. It feels too much like eavesdropping, and there's nothing Jasmine can do to help her if she's got one foot … elsewhere. Maybe if she knew her better, but Jasmine doesn't know her at all. "My Nona used to say that her house was haunted. I never believed her, but every now and again, something weird would happen. Like there was this knocking up in the attic that used to keep me awake at night. Probably just the house settling or something, but it's one of those things that always let my mind go wandering and playing what if…"

Jasmine shrugs with a laugh, "Listen at me, about to start to telling ghost stories, when I'm supposed to be looking for a book. And probably keeping you from your work."

"The show's a complete lark," Jean agrees. She's had friendly debates about it, tending to play devil's advocate with the 'What if' point of view. She passes it off skillfully as a just-for-the-helluvit posture (6 sisters to practice on, growing up), but that doesn't mean she doesn't believe. She's just usually circumspect about confessing it — early confession aside.

"So, what exactly about Vampires are you researching?" Jean asks Jasmine, now.

Everyone's so keen to believe in what's not there… and I'm the one labeled crazy?

"Ain't a problem. Used to Andy doin' it anyway. Not like it's anything new." Carys reaches down behind the register to grab a dustcloth and begins dusting the old cash register just to make busy work, and keep herself from stressing over the conversation — a maneuver Jean likely knows well from the discussions with Andrew.

"Don't let me keep you from your shopping though. Should likely go find Miss Priss."

"Even if it's a lark, sounds like a fun watch. A way to spend the time when there's nothing else on the telly?" Jasmine offers. Jean and Carys have talked it up so much, that Jasmine will look it up and give it a chance. "You two aren't on payroll, are you? Talking up the show for him?" The words are said with a smile and a light laugh.

At Jean's question, however, Jasmine sobers a bit. She's not quite sure what to say, or not say about that. She settles for the truth, though she's at a loss of how she will explain the why behind it. "Identification and protection. Actually, I'm going to read a little bit of everything, but I'm curious to know how people think you would identify a vampire."

Oi! Wow. That sounded so much better in my head.

Jean blinks a little at Jasmine's confession. "Wow… Huhn. Okay…" She grins. "What have you found so far?" She's genuinely interested. Why?

Well, if the fleeting thought she has about there being some way for her to ID them instead of having to rely on Min's 'hackles rising', that would be good.

Not, mind, that she's actually encountered any up-close-and-personal… yet.

But, it'd be good to be prepared.

Again, it's pretty clear: The girl doesn't think Jasmine is crazy for this. So, she's either crazy, herself, or else she's got cause to be interested in such things.

Carys halts in her prodding under the counter for the damnable cat, and glances over at the two girls for a moment.

"Considerin' they're meant to look like anyone else… your best way of identifyin'em is to see who only comes out at night."

Then it's back to rustling a paper for the apparently invisible cat.

Jasmine actually gives a small laugh at Carys' input. That would be the most logical approach after all. Unless, of course, it's already nighttime. Then, it's a bit of a problem. Of course, it probably says something that neither Carys or Jean batted an eye at her 'research.' Ha! Take that, George Phelps. I'm not completely mad. Jasmine's not willing to rule out that she's partially mad, yet.

"Everything's so contradictory," Jasmine says in response to Jean. "I've found information that says vampires don't have reflections, but then there's 'eye witness accounts'" And here Jasmine places the proper air quotes, "That state the vampires they've encountered definitely have reflections. The same with garlic, and silver. Not like those are easy methods to test, though, right? I mean, you can't really walk around wearing garlic unless you're looking to keep more than vampires away."

"You gotta figure," Jean says, nodding sagely to Jasmine, "you're dealing with the supernatural — probably one of the most elusive parts of it, no less. Unless I miss my guess. I study archaeology," she explains. "A good part of that means studying folk lore and legend, as much as 'historical accounts' and other extant materials of the time. You're tryin' to piece together a puzzle, yeah? That's what it's all about." At least, it is to her.

"But, take vampires. How are you defining them? Are you expecting to see Count Dracula? Or do you classify any blood-sucking fiend in the category? The earliest legends of blood-sucking fiends come from Persia, actually, but Egypt's got the market cornered on freaky dead things. But, their monsters are vastly different from Stoker's, who helped manufacture the modern romantic myth."

She stops. Has she maybe said too much?

This, Jasmine decides, sounds like the sort of conversation that they should be having over drinks. Preferably the sorts that come in little tiny shot glasses. It'll cover my bum when I say something stupid.

"I'm thinking … " Jasmine pauses and considers how to word it, "I'm looking at the blood sucking fiend angle. All the myths and folklore present vampires in different shapes and forms, but the one constant is that they need blood."

"Also, I don't think that if, theoretically speaking, we have modern vampires they're going to look like Max Schrek in Nosferatu. That would make them stand out." Jasmine has really been doing her homework. "I think we'd probably see more of Tom Cruise as Lestat." She's not touching the other popular series at all, because that is just ridiculous. "Not that I'm saying Anne Rice had an inside line to vampires, but it's an example."

Jasmine's eyes widen and she seizes upon Jean's new bit of information, "I haven't really looked at Egypt. What are their stories like?"

Jean laughs, now, warming to her subject. "Well, you've gotta figure: The Egyptians placed all that importance on the afterlife, right? The wanted to keep the soul from being lost. Truthfully, I can't remember how big they were on the blood-sucking bit, but I'd be surprised if they didn't have a bunch of stuff on it."

A beat.

"I can ask my archaeology prof, if you want. He's got a real 'thing' for Egypt." And she likes talking to him.

A lot.

"Could you?" Jasmine is maybe a little too eager, but she's happy to have found someone to talk to about this, who's just as interested as she is. Even if it's probably not for the same reasons. "Just more resources to pick from. Maybe I can make a whole picture out of it, when it's all said and done."

Jasmine looks down at the few books that she's selected. There's no way she can justify buying them all, not on her budget when she needs things like food and electricity. But one or two should be enough to get her started. "Now, I just need to decide which one of these to buy." A beat, and then, "Oh yeah, maybe we should exchange numbers so that you can tell me what your prof says?"

Jean smiles at that. "Yeah. Be glad to," she says lightly." She pushes up against the counter and steals a pen from behind the register. Then, she rips a corner off the brown package in her hands and scrawls her number on it, along with her name. "Here. Feel free to call, whenever."

She flips the package in her hands over and passes it and the pen to Jasmine. "Just scrawl on that. I'll save the portion of wrapping."

Jasmine writes her name and telephone number on the wrapper, noting how comfortable Jean is in the shop. Maybe she'll have to come back here sometime; oh, she knows she will. She'll want to check back in on Carys, although she has no idea what she's checking on. Jasmine decides that she'll call her father tonight, see what he thinks about Carys. He's always good with spot on advice, though she still hasn't told him about her current 'research.' Still, that's a problem for another day.

"It's my mobile, so it's always with me," Jasmine offers by way of explanation. "It's really been great talking to you about this stuff. No one else is interested in listening or talking about it." Or at least not without the 'private' thoughts that Jasmine needs to get out more.

Again, Jasmine is glad that she met Jean all those weeks ago. It was clearly a lucky break, and she suspects that she's just made a new friend. "Though next time we meet and talk about this stuff? I say, we need drinks."

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