What lengths would someone go to for family? It was a question she asked herself time and time again. She found herself faced with that question over the years and sometimes, no matter whatever drastic measure she may have taken, it didn’t always end the way she hoped. She would hate herself more for not trying, at least in her heart knowing she doing everything she could and everything that was within her power without breaking any fundamental laws.
She looked for leads in all the dark places. The Order of St. Dumas was slippery and to some, not even believed to be around anymore. They had fizzled out and splintered over time like so many other things that were as old as that order was. The landscape had changed, faith had changed, humanity as a whole had evolved. It didn’t mean they weren’t there, and the lead that ‘Batman’ had given her was something she had thrown herself into following while still keeping an eye out on the events turning in Gotham city. She had been benched from the larger activities. Leaving Faust to observe the players and to analyze the data as he would. Following that was crucial to maintaining the role she had created for herself. She could have pulled rank, she could have put her entire hand of cards down and set things to the truth. Part of being involved with NOWHERE was also knowing when to hold those cards and when to show them. Her involvement was a sacrifice she made but it allowed her opportunities that may not have been afforded to her before.
This wasn’t some bar in Gotham that she was at. She had easily hopped over to the City of Angels without too much effort.What was less easy was slipping into the bar and attempting to look like any other patron. It wasn’t as easy as simply strolling in and getting the attention of who she sought right away. There was a game to be played just like there was anywhere else.
There was the lack of a stage however, the only central figure of the room being the glossy black piano that stood imposingly around the rounded seating areas, the fine wood tables and the perimeter surrounded by more seating and the glowing feature of the bar.
Zatanna’s dress tended to evolve with the environment. While she was the showman in battle and on the stage, she knew how to blend into an establishment like this. The long cocktail dress with a slit that traveled up the length of her leg and ended at her hip, a hugging corset made of a contrasting ivory silk, black ribbons that crossed against her back and trailed down from the bow that was expertly tied. Even her hair was placed into waves that cascaded to the side, reminiscent of the 40’s style many actresses had worn.
As she strolled by the piano she reached into the center of corset, pulling a single white rosebud out from a space that seemingly had no room to spare for such a delicate flower. Carefully, she placed the rose on the piano.
Many gods had altars and expected offerings in order for their prayers to be heard, perhaps this was no different. A respectful and beautiful offering for perhaps only a moment of time from the owner. She glided to the bar to wait, ordering an old-fashioned that seemed quite appropriate for the atmosphere and the bittersweet endeavour she was about to undertake.
The Lux. Named in part after the Devil’s favorite word, it stands as a beacon to that singular word; Luxury. For at the Lux anything you desire can be your’s, for a price. Oh, it sounds so very ominous and yet simplistically in line with everything people know about Satan. But it could not be further from the truth. Souls are not the most accepted form of currency here. Favors. Money. Power. Human delicacies that can be spent no differently than money? Absolutely.
The act of dealing in souls is Human fallacy. Because the fact of the matter is that anyone willing to give their soul up for a wish? Is already doomed by the word of God to be interred in Hell anyway. No, the art of using a soul to fuel magic is no different than using petrol in a car. It is a finite energy source and causes nothing but pollution in its wake.
Here at the Lux your heart’s desire might be sold for something as simple as your stock shares in Amazon. What strikes most newcomers as the surprising part, happens to be that the seller of such whims is not always the purveyor of the Lux himself. So long as you follow the rules; all are welcome in the Lux.
The best part? You don’t actually have to even leave Gotham to visit. As a psychopomp the Devil himself is not constrained to simple human laws or understandings of science. The door to the Lux opens anywhere, any time, to anyone who seeks it’s entrance. It’s all about need and the willingness to pay that aforementioned price. If you need it enough, want it enough and happen to be willing to pay for it? Any old door will work. You don’t even need a magic word to open it.
Now for those who need something, but not so badly as to have to come to the realization that they’d do or give anything for it? For those who’s soul isn’t already beholding to a final destination? Well that’s precisely why the Lux does have a physical blip on the Map. We service all kinds, you see.
Which is most likely why there’s no prayer requirement for notice by Zatanna. Just the fluttering of wings and a drink slid before her. Because it seems only natural that the Devil himself is tending to the bar this evening.
Sleeves drawn up, suit-coat misplaced, neck-tie unkempt, and a smile that happens to be lopsided. Yet, it is impossible not to recognize the most beautiful creature in all of God’s creation. “Zatanna. I must say you look ravishing this evening. Business or pleasure this evening? Not that it matters, I’ve never been much of a fan for the bores who choose not to mix the two.”
It wasn’t unusual for people to know her name. Word got around, specially in these tight circles where magic and myth intertwined with lives. There was a pause in her reaction. She was usually quick with her words and her clever quips but for the moment her eyes were taking everything in from the First Fallen.
She had heard plenty, she had read plenty. She had been warned that it was probably more trouble than it was worth involving the fallen angel in anything that was her business, rumor was; it was difficult to pry him out once you let him in. Specially if the circumstances were intriguing enough to hold his interest for more than a few seconds.
She decided to be a little more careful with her words, putting a little more thought into how she was approaching this. It was easier done while bringing the glass to her lips while her eyes didn’t seem to leave him or the glorious feature that extended from his back. Being in the presence of the Creator’s more creative and beautiful designs was a little overwhelming.
“Thank you, Lucifer. I didn’t conjure up this dress just to bore you and droll on about my little problems.”
It felt like a cheat to come to him with this particular problem. Maybe it was the easy way, maybe it wasn’t. It could possibly open up new paths or knowledge that she didn’t easily have access to. Then again, dealing with the infernal was not something she was excited about. Everyone had their weakness, even the fantastic and amazing magician Zatanna Zatara.
It didn’t seem to matter his preference, or that he was the bartender on duty. The nearest glass to his hand filled with liquid without waiting for an answer. Maybe it was a favorite, or something he had just been thinking about while mixing her own drink. He wasn’t the only one that could grant a simple desire or wish.
“Don’t laugh. It feels like I’m on a fool’s errand but they have something very important to me…”
Chasing down a time-splintered cult that was known for operating in secret and in the shadows was a worthy challenge but even obtaining the first clue was a difficult task. All she had was a body. Slain by a demoness that was attempting to protect her friend. It seemed too easy, too simple.
“…The Sacred Order of St. Dumas. I’m trying to locate them,” ‘Dumas’ was said with a bit of a lift in her tone. He was not known for being a saint, more like a madman that was really good at building a following around him. It seemed fairly par for the course with anything dealing with the Bat. There was always a mad something involved, wasn’t there?
“Don’t mind if you do.”
The problem with supplying the Devil his desire is that you’re not guaranteed to like what you conjure up. In this case though, oddly enough, Zatanna doesn’t truly conjure up anything outlandish. Because she serves him a simple copy of her own drink. Which, upon looking at the chalice, is immediately pushed right to the Magician’s other hand. There’s no fancy words; no double entendres, nor any means of misunderstanding.
The Devil’s desire is to get her drunk. How could it not be?
“Well, you’ve managed to succeed in not boring me. Whether that be the dress or the way a fickle imagination works when seeing you in it? Tis anyone’s guess, of course.”
No effort is made to pry further information from her. He works with the simple assumption that she knows exactly to whom she’s speaking. She traversed the U.S. Country to speak with the creature before her, it is therefore nothing short of logical that she would know that he is known as the Keeper of Secrets, just as well as he’s been called the Lord of Lies. Knowing the secrets of a darkened soul is simply part of what he does. It takes but a single strand of corruption in a Cult such as the one she speaks of and there’s no secret kept from one such as he.
There’s also no promise of those secrets being shared with someone. Anyone. Most especially one such as she. No guaranty at all and the smile upon his features confirms that without a word.
“Now why would you come to me asking such a question,” the rhetoric that spills from that silver tongue of his are smooth, easily heard even with the din of the Lux all around them. “You could easily get that information with a parlor trick. Which means, of course, that you don’t wish to use your own power to come by the knowledge. Or you just like a twist of danger in the martini you call life. I’m almost curious enough to play this game.”
He’s no sooner said these words than those wings of his flutter once more and he’s next to her. No one around them seems the mildest bit off-put by such a feat, as if it’s just normal for the Lux or this individual in particular. “The Order of ‘Saint’ Dumas is something of a joke in itself. Dumas was hardly a Saint. Nor was he even viewed as such by his original followers.”
“The Order, as it is today, is more like a splinter cell organization. The particular ‘Order’ that you are in search of, I would suggest, is nothing more than a piece of the overall pie. So, in truth, if I were to live up to my reputation I would make some sort of arrangement. Putting you in my debt, without even giving you anything of worth.”
“How lucky are you, Zee, that my reputation is greatly exaggerated. You came to me from Gotham, if you were to travel back there and search for a man by the name of Jean-Paul Valley. I’m quite sure you know the right people to do the leg work. He can most assuredly lead you to the Order with whom you have business.”
“Without the dress I still have my particular charms.”
The dress was only a layer, a prop. Anyone could wear a dress but it takes a certain kind of charisma and confidence to pull it off and make it something interesting, even if it’s a object of a mild fantasy. Well, mild was a manner of perspective in this case. Lucifer has had a long time to explore every corner of existence and she was still exploring the bits that were of interest to her.
A drink in both hands, she raises them both in a mock toast before finishing off the one in her right and starting on the one on her left. It wasn’t a drink made for taking down in such a manner but she was trying to be a good guest, humoring him a little.
“I could probably twist a little bit of time and return to the moment before my friend came to cross their path and completely avoid the situation that’s brought me here. I could summon the knowledge to my very fingertips. I also wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy a fine cocktail and your company. We both know there are consequences and ripples that are caused and power like mine has to be used responsibly. I also enjoy the challenge of a mad goose hunt, the twist of danger, the quest and the rewards that are gained from it.”
A smirk played across her lips before she pressed them together to test the tingling that was beginning to play against them. She didn’t quite flinch when he moved next to her but it did provide her with a closer inspection. She wondered if she should feel intimidated, frightened or even possibly terribly paranoid. She’s had her dealing with demons under her belt already though, she knew the rules and knew how to dance around them. Instead she just found herself curious.
“Fanatics you mean. My father had some collected works in the library, there were some amazing stories but that was well…nearly a thousand years ago. They’re a splinter of a splinter from the Knights Templar. Add in some mystical artifacts and at one time they were either feared or praised as heroes.”
She waved a hand dismissively, the angel probably knew all of that and she didn’t need to go into further details. The name did earn a quirked eyebrow, it was a lead but she knew she was limited as far as what she could do about it.
“Their Azrael, their champion, was slain recently. A matter that involved Etrigan and a hybrid,” not the entire truth, some details were left out but she continued on.
“I imagine another will rise. Which bothers me considering a dear friend is caught in the mix. I’d rather he not be pulled into the affairs that I deal with.”
She turned in the stool slightly so she was at a better angle to watch him. He may have already known, or he didn’t. It seemed a fair exchange of information over drinks. She didn’t come empty handed and without payment for him for his time and his knowledge.
“You know who I work for. I’ve been benched from Gotham involvement, not that it stops me from doing much. Whatever I do has to be done in the shadows and perhaps through ‘agents’. Those agents are on their own hunt that doesn’t necessarily involve the Order. An old enemy that may have made a side deal with one of the Lords of Hell.”
Everyone had their agents it seemed, it was a tangled mess of involvements and paths just seemed to cross coincidentally.
“I appreciate the lead though. I’ll keep an eye on him,” with a wink she took a long sip from her glass. Scrying wasn’t against the rules.
“Ah, madame, now which of us is engaged in word-play. I know what and who you work for, of course. Though I’m also certain those two terms are not one and the same.” This is said amidst a sly smile that passes from her, back to the audience of the Lux. “Mortal games. Quite honestly, this world’s drama is better than most. I do so enjoy watching it play out.”
“I’m more than a little annoyed that I didn’t think of it all first.”
This is where a hand is waved in something of a dismissive gesture, but doing so makes the wings shimmer behind him. It isn’t often than even the mystical bred mortals can perceive them, leading him to have stopped bothering to worry about their effects offhandedly.
“Things of this nature are often cylindrical. What was, will be again. You’re right to think another ‘champion’ will rise. Were it me, I would see such a thing not as potential for danger, but the opportunity to control the cycle itself.”
“Of course you may have other ideas, but it seems to me that opportunity such as this affords you control. Which might in fact keep your ‘friend’ out of the cycle itself. Two birds. One stone. Such as it were.”
Another moment is spent looking at Zatanna. Only this doesn’t seem to be with the same sort of simple gaze as before. Almost as if he were judging whether she was capable of the guilde necessary for such action. As quickly as his gaze focuses in, there’s this shift to nibbling at his lower lip. Pleasure. The Devil doesn’t lie and neither does his expression, as he clearly likes what he perceives. A mortal, a witch, who might actually serve as a distraction from his boredom. Yes, I think I’ll watch this one more closely.
Not that such a gaze is ever a good thing. You’d never know that from the way his features shift in to taking all of Zatanna in to account. “Though I passed on the drink, perhaps a dance?”
“I didn’t presume that you weren’t aware. You know my foci, word games are my thing,” she took another light sip. She had thought this situation over, she had considered all of the angles and what the Devil may or may not know. There was a reason he’s settled here of all places, in all times and realms. It was probably the most entertaining but there was plenty of uninteresting bits to slog through to get to the real gems.
She had her reasons for her associations. Reasons she kept to herself because secrets were important, what was in her heart and what fueled her passions was something only she could hold onto right now. For a brief moment she seemed distracted, her lips even parting in a subdued expression of awe. She had seen a lot of things in her short life, a lot of very beautiful things and even to the outright grotesque and horrific. Those wings were captured somewhere in between but they drew her attention as if they were the most precious thing she had ever seen.
There was a quick shake of her head as she pulled her thoughts back to the conversation, focusing on Lucifer’s facial features, almost equally as appealing but a little less distracting. It was the words that held her attention though, it wasn’t often she could talk to someone that understood the chaotic order of things. Someone that saw the bigger picture perhaps much clearer and and more vast than she really understood it.
“It could potentially be an advantage. It’s also attempting to bring order to something that has been known to deal in chaos. I’m not exactly sure it’s the people involved, more of <i>what</i> is involved. Given that I’m dealing with an Order that’s had nearly a thousand years to adapt and several advancements in technology, it would be a dumb move to assume it’s as simple as charging the castle.”
What she really needed was some solid intelligence but for now all she had was a name, a potentially solid lead. This meant she would have to exhibit some patience, let pieces fall into place and make sure she was at the right place at the right time. Even if she hated the idea of leaving Bruce with them even a second longer. He could handle it, he’ll make it through. He had the strength and determination that was both admirable and dangerous.
She felt that shift in his gaze, it was like the devil’s claws crawling along the sensitive skin along her spine. She had anticipated only providing a small moment of amusement, not capturing that gaze that almost looked like it went right through and into her. Part of her was suggesting that it was a fine time to make with the disappearing act while the mood was still light and neither was terribly invested. That was the plan. If she had been really smart, she wouldn’t have come here at all. Leave the devil to observe and concern himself with more immediate factors that affected his ability to do as he wished.
The other more impulsive part of her was fighting that good and sound judgement. She was struggling to pull her thoughts away from admiring that beautiful creature in front of her and trying to focus on the very nature of that creature. The problem was, she had a very different view of creatures that may be considered evil, not all of them were. Some were even brought close enough to her to be considered friends and perhaps even more. It was those beliefs that had pushed her away from her allies, friends, and loves.
She was swayed by the liquor, by the excitement and the atmosphere that was created within the walls. A dance with the devil? Many would probably be fearful of the suggestion, or perhaps react in rage or insult. Lucifer was so often villainized but he has proven to be civilized and polite as well. She saw the innocence of the offer. Just a dance. Life was for the living and this moment would certainly be lively.
Gracefully, she set the glass down gently down on the bar top, offering her hand palm down to him, “I’d be honored to tango with you, Lucifer.”
There was a bit of a mischievous glint in her eye as she set the tone for the dance. The slit of her dress wasn’t made for a waltz and she was quite the performer. The club may be in for a treat.