Logs:Wake House - Much Ado About Frogs

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Wake House - Much Ado About Frogs

Characters: Gast, Jacob, Jeanie and Rafael with Slip as ST
Date: 2020-04-22
Summary: The frog had it coming. Probably. Maybe.
Disclaimers: Frog guts. Eww.

When last we left our intrepid trespassers, Rafael, Jeanie and Gast were exploring the second floor of the warded pink Queen Anne house and learning that the linens in the closet are rather nice, the sheets of high thread count and rich color, the towels all indulgently large. The bathroom and a few probable bedrooms remain unexplored, just like the attic, a pull cord for the drop-down stairs easily spotted. Jacob had just emerged from the impossible hallway, returning from his run-in with yet-another-frog and a couple other oddities to find the others had moved on without him, their voices heard upstairs. The basement door remains open, letting in a rather stagnant, musty scent, and the front door's odd locking--the deadbolt out to keep the door from closing, the chain secured to keep it from opening--remains in tact. The evening is quiet, still a faint glimmer of daylight visible through the rosette window looking out over the front, though the overhead light is helpful. Occasionally, the chirrup of a frog, possibly too close, coming from inside.

"Wait..." Rafael's gloved hand slips from the closet, his head turning slowly as if he were noticing something out of the corner of his eye. There's a twitch at the corner of his lips, a fleeting smile as if pleased at something, and then he starts moving down the hallway, "The bedroom. Over here." Keeping those work gloves on, as if they're natural - and of course, leaving no fingerprints.

Gast is slow in getting to the top of the stairs, drawn to an increasingly slow pace as the bellows of his lungs in mind rasp and falter. And there, at the top, he catches his breath. Hand on the railing as he looks around at the space that Rafael and Jeanie have already moved into. He follows the direction of the group, lagging behind only a bit since they've had the time to check closets, and having his attention snagged by the pull cord for a way up, into the attic. Remembering it for later searching, perhaps, ash he catches his breath on the way toward the bedroom in turn. And without anything to call out that has escaped the notice of those ahead, just yet, he stays quiet, jaw tensely set as he keeps his senses handy for anything that might indicate another presence (other than frogs).

That attic door was so easy to find, but Jeanie doesn't get a chance to test if it actually opens easily or rains down a flood of frogs since she pauses as soon as Rafael calls out to wait. "This bedroom?" She points to a door she had just passed, but she'll wait for Rafael and his gloves to actually open said door.

The door, once opened by wisely gloved hands, opens into what must be the master suite, well-furnished and well-kept, with an open door on one side leading to a bathroom and another, closed, likely opening into a closet. Everything is neat and clean, from the king-sized bed against the far wall to everything that tops the dresser or desk, a nook by the window set up for work. If anyone's made use of the bedroom recently, they've been meticulous in making the bed and cleaning up after themselves. There aren't even any used towels hung in the bathroom, no dirty clothes in the hamper. If any thieves got there before them, they missed out on what might be a grand opportunity, an assortment of jewlery left out in the open or hidden in boxes set out atop the dresser, pearls and gold chains and glinting jewels readily catching the eye.

To Rafael: And calling to a particularly insidious infection. Pain abates the closer Rafael gets to that collection, and it's not difficult for him to identify the true prize there: a black enamel swallow brooch bedecked with small diamonds which feels like the world before a storm, all full of ozone and ocean air. It resonates with power... and loneliness, solitude. Holding it is unsettling.

"There you are..." The words are an exhalation under Rafael's breath as he slowly picks his way through the meticulously clean room, ending up in front of the dresser. He doesn't just start grabbing pieces, though, he stands there staring at the box instead, fingers twitching a bit by his side. If one's perceptive, they might notice a twisted line of welting starting to rise along his neck like an allergic reaction. A strange one, though, in patterning that seems oddly precise.

To Gast: The desk seems a logical place to start, if one isn't here to pilfer what looks to be some pretty pricy jewelery over there. Ms. Alexander seems to have trusted in the security of her own and the good behavior of those allowed in it given that what seems to be her personal journal is in one of the top drawers, unlocked. The last entry is January 8th: The incursion continues. I wonder if Samuel Wake faced the same troubles in his day. The wards aren't working. If I'm to hold another fete in spring, I'll need to address this first or present an intentionally amphibious theme. Dierdre isn't pleased with my plan. I can't say I am either.

Prized objects and mirrors - Gast looks for either of these, as he enters the bedroom behind the others. Slowing only to make note of, like everything else, how clean the space seems to be. He hears Rafael's question to some unknown object and sees fit to add his voice back to the group. "How long ago did you say Manfred was in?" he speaks up, after a time. Cautiously stated, like he's testing the reactions of Rafael and Jeanie. He steps towards the desk rather than the dresser. He goes from drawer to drawer - or means to, when he comes across something promising in the first. He hoists a personal journal and turns his way to the last page. He thinks on it, the presence of mortals, but finds nothing revealing about his own nature in sharing, "The incursion continues. I wonder if Samuel Wake faced the same troubles in his day. The wards aren't working. If I'm to hold another fete in Spring, I'll need to address the first or present an intentionally amphibious theme. Dierdre isn't pleased with my plan. I can't say I am either." He pauses. Returns to the date. "January the eighth."

To Jeanie: The left side of the bed, nearer the bathroom, the dresser, the door, seems the more likely to see use if there is only one occupant for this room. Perhaps, then, the nightstand might provide some insight into this supposed witch's life? Jeanie finds, among a couple of books on botany, a stack of letters, all from the same person, though seldom from the same address. The most recent is from December and wishes a fine yule to 'Lili,' with all appropriate blood and requisite warmth. It speaks of someone else's travels, to barren white cliffs to visit a mutual friend, and carries some well-wishes and general state of affairs, some of which seems a bit... off, but little of which stands out until a piece at the end: I love hearing about your experiments, Lili, and I'm glad they're going well. If the price of free will is hunger, it seems a fair trade to me. A little brutality for so grand an advancement isn't the tragedy you think it to be. The world will move past those losses. I can't wait to see what your ravenous pet becomes.

"Samuel Wake? That's the guy that built this house," Jeanie spent enough time staring at that historical plaque out front before everybody's arrival and other events that lead up to the now. While Gast is investigating the desk, she's listening but also poking about the nightstand and rifling through some letters. "Guys..." She turns around with one particular letter in hand when she notices Rafael standing very intently in front of that jewellery box. "Are you really just here to steal her stuff?" She's totally judging even if her own presences in the house isn't exactly kosher at the moment either. "I think the old lady really was crazy though. Or her friends were. Apparently she was working on experiments with a ravenous pet. Little brutality for so grand an advacement..." She shivers a little bit. "Creepy. But this was in December. And that last journal entry in early January. Where's she been for about three months?"

"Three or four days..." The words are absently murmured from Rafael as he reaches out a hand slowly towards the jewelry box, fingers reddened with rash curling around what looks like a pin in the shape of a swallow, black enamel with tiny diamonds around it. The man breathes out a relieved breath, at odds with the raised welts that have spread up his neck and the side of his face in a splotchy mess. "No. Not her stuff. Just this will do," he says-- slanting a look to Jeanie, actually seeming a bit ashamed, but he doesn't look like he's about to let it go despite that.

Jacob stumbles out of the doorway a bit late only to notice that everyone has moved on without him. He shakes his head a moment to clear it - moving between worlds is always somewhat disconcerting, and then he listens. He thinks he hears something, or someone, moving on the upper floor, so he heads in that direction. Up the stairs and down the hallway, until he's heading upstairs, towards the sound.

He approaches the threshold of the master bedroom, listening a moment, keeping an eye out for frogs, and then he's stepping across the threshhold, joining them. "Well, I found her. Part of her. I think. What have you guys found?"

Gast nods at the input from Jeanie, a grunt of thanks or of affirmative, for a helpful placement of the name as he considers the journal held in his hands. He only looks up as Jeanie calls to them from the nightstand. He carries the journal with him as he steps away from the desk, toward her. "Like, a dog?" he asks, with concern to the ravenous pet. By now, he expects it won't be. And there's no harm on him putting up a mortal front - just another normal wierdo in a house full of other spontanious witch house explorers. But where has she been for three months indeed. Having Jacob as a mutual connection probably doesn't help with selling the 'normal' in that, however. And he glances over to Rafael, for the absently murmered reply. And, was his complexion always like that? Had he had too much to drink, the first time that they'd met, to recall? He starts to look around for anything that seems the least bit tilted or not so perfectly placed, something that might have been put to a surface in the slightest bit of haste, when Jacob returns. He tenses, turns toward the sound while reaching into his jacket pocket. Then pauses. Sighs, with relief. Despite the news. That shared fact seeming not to land appropriately within his expression. He doesn't answer, but asks, "What do you mean part of her? And why do you only think so?"

Luckily for Rafael, Jeanie's judgement doesn't last too long as she's distracted by that alarmingly quick spreading rash he's got going on. "Are you okay? Do you need an epipen? Do you even have an epipen on you?" Ethical debates can wait until after everybody is for sure going to live. She quickly crosses the room over to Rafael, but not like the letter in her hand is going to do much good for any possible medical emergency. And then other medical disasters are announced as Jacob arrives. "What do you mean part of her?" She'll echo Gast almost in unison. "And it wasn't like... a wolf attack was it?" The girl only knows so much about the supernatural so makes sense to guess what she does know exists first.

"No, I'm..." The brooch is slipped into Rafael's pocket, thumb rubbing slowly over the finish before he pulls that hand back out of his pocket, drawing in a slow breath, "...I'm good. Nothing to worry about, Race Car." The fact that he looks like he's having a major rosacea attack completely contradicts his words, but the suddenly blotchy fellow sounds fine at least. "We all got our weight to carry."

There's a deep frown that crosses his expression as he looks over to Jacob, "...eh? Part of her?"

Jacob steps into the room as Gast speaks, looking around curiously. His gaze falls on Rafael, who isn't looking all that well. He replies to Gast, "The door I walked through... it leads somewhere else. And there is a part of here, there. The frogs..." He shakes his head to clear it - it's still a bit off kilter from all the doorwayrs, but he continues, "And it goes further. There's more, but I came back. I think it's connected. There are too many doors."

His gaze, however, is focused on Rafael, even as Jeanie's suggesting an epipen. He frowns, "What the hell happened to him?" Something passes over his features briefly, twisting them. "Is he sick? Do we need to put him down?" He looks, ever so briefly, eager. At Rafael's question, however, he manages to tuck it away, smiling, yet there's something hungry about it. "Part of her, yes. The frogs. It's all connected. Just like the doors. Nothing here is what it seems."

To Rafael: Later, the next time Rafael holds the brooch for any significant time, he'll get a breath of crisp ocean air, colder than anything here in Louisiana. A flash of cliffs high above the water. The feel of a coming storm. A sense of being watched. An air of annoyance. And then nothing. Silence.

There's been no evidence of a pet. Not a dog, not a cat. No birds or fish or lizards. No shed fur, no sounds, no food bowls or other expected accessories. Perhaps it was left outside or has been swallowed up by the frogs, if ever there was one. Nothing, aside from what they've disturbed seems out of place. If there was a departure, it wasn't a hasty affair. At the moment, there are no frogs in sight.

Gast's medical knowledge seems mostly to be concerned with forensic pathology. Which is likely no use in identifying the dangers in that complexion while there is still time to stop it. What he misses in his attempt to remember, rash or no rash, Jeanie catches. Mostly, he wants to hear Jacob's explanation - for that, and what's added regarding what might have attacked the aforementioned remains. An impatience to him for the info that precedes the answer, tension reentering his shoulders as he waits for it, even as he intakes and takes note of what could very well be important regardless. And he sighs at the vagueness. How the frogs might be connected to it, and he loops back round to Rafael's illness as addressed by the others. "I don't think this is the place to do it. He might come back." Gallows humor from the one assuring others of the mundane, for putting Rafael down.

"You're not putting down anybody!" What exactly Jeanie would intend to do if the changelings weren't actually joking is a mystery as much as whatever is going on with all those doors, but she's gonna throw out that might big talk anyways with a glare mostly at Jacob. The Instigator. And then a look back to Rafael, "If it gets worse..." She'll try to run away out of this house with him. For the greater good and medical necessity and not in any way cowardice at all (or at least that's what she'd tell herself). "So like... a giant frog ate her? Or was it a bunch of little frogs acting together like a school of piranha? Can someone even make frogs do that?"

Rafael's hand moves in a quick, sharp motion. "I'm fine," he says firmly, trying to push the subject of his complexion away with the irritation of anyone with a skin condition when it's repeatedly called attention to - although admittedly he didn't seem to have it before he went into the room." The man's brow knits a little at the explanation, "I see. And do you actually know anything or are you just being deliberately obtuse to seem like you do?"

Jacob moves towards Gast, although he's still focused on Rafael. He nods as Gast mentions people 'might come back'. "You're probably right." There's a smirk as Jeanie immediately begins with the glaring at him, but it doesn't last long. He's actually more serious, and less smiling, than he usually is. He keeps clear of Raphael, however, even as he replies. "Me? Oh, I'm not obtuse. I'm definitely grade A cute." Even now, he can't resist a little word fun.

He moves on quickly, though. "You weren't like that when we got here. Where did you go and what did you touch?" He looks towards Gast. "I don't know how to explain it. I went through a door, but there were more. There were frogs, just like out front. I felt... I felt /something/ but I'm not sure what it was. An attempted curse, maybe." Attempted. "There's more here than we think. And I don't think we're going to find her, /here/. I think we're going to have to find her /there/."

Gast concedes nodding to confirm, at least to comfort, that they don't have any good reason to put anyone down. Yet. And he smooths out what of the shape of his jacket was disturbed by him reaching for his pocket when Jacob reemerged. A glance at Rafael to ensure that he's really healthy enough - or at least capable of continuing. A sharp exhale through his nostrils for the amusement of the man's response to an obtuse answer. And the retort Jacob seems to have on hand. Giant frog? He scrunches his nose in disaste - either at the image of it, or having to deal with and deal with the outcome of its exposure to those present if there is one. Regardless, he quiets for the full answer when Jacob delivers it, brow furrowing with concentration as he accepts the surreal. A dream divinner from a court of sorcerers. He can handle it. "Anything dangerous?" he zeroes in on. "Anything in here other than the frogs and us that you've seen?"

Jeanie doesn't have to be told three times, twice is quite enough and she'll quit asking Rafael about his weird rash thing although occassionally sending a not-so-sneaky glance as if trying to judge if said rash is growing or shrinking. She rolls her eyes at Jacob's word play, but nods begrudgingly as he explains a little more. "So, we go through the weird doors and look a little more to see if we can find her. Or I guess it? If there is a giant rabid woman-eating-frog, it'd be possible it could escape and terrorize the rest of the city..." Such a ridiculous plot probably wouldn't even fly for a 50s era B movie, but she says it with such a straight face as if it's the only logical conclusion.

The questions about what he's touched or done are ignored, as Rafael moves through the bedroom to the back windows - gloved fingers brushing a curtain aside to spy on the property and look for signs of a well as was mentioned in the logbook. "The infinite hallway is probably a good start, although we'll want to bring our breadcrumbs," he deadpans, "So we don't get lost forever down there."

He certainly seems to be taking the surreal strangeness of things in stride.

To Rafael: Out back, a rather lovely garden stretches fairly far back, closed within high fences. The center point, toward the back, is a rather large fruiting tree, a few fallen plums on the path and grass at its feet. Off on one side is a pond which has attracted a great many frogs that seem to be doing normal frog things. They aren't gnawing on any pieces of old lady, surely, or, as best he can tell, attempting to cast any spells. Just hanging out near the water in the warm evening air. There are several places to sit, and a couple paths which seem to go nowhere at all, that end at the fences abruptly.

Jacob snorts and looks at Gast. "Yes, man. We're talking bout witches and other worlds. Yes, it's dangerous. If it weren't, I would have explored further." He grimaces, clenching his teeth, "I fucking hate turning back." For a moment, his expression is angry, almmost wrathful, something that hasn't been seen by either Gast or Jeanie (the two who'd met him previously), but it fades quickly. He takes a deep breath.

He looks towards Jeanie when she speaks and he frowns. "No, /you/ don't go anywhere. In fact, /you/ shouldn't even be here." What? Is that something akin to /concern/? "This is more than delivering supplies. This is... well, you should leave before you find out." He won't, of course, stop her from joining them. Part of him wants her to. But he knows that this is not a safe and healthy environment.

Speaking of which, he looks towards Rafael. "Wait, what did you say? The infinite hallway? Why did you fall it that? I never called it that."

"That's not it," Gast says about the rabid woman-eating frog. And he says it quick. Not because he knows it's not the case, but because he wants it, so desparately, to not be. Anything else. Anything else that also doesn't wish to devour them like a ravinous pet, at that. "There's a basement and an attic as well," he provides for Rafael. "Might be worth checking before we step into a taste of 'non-euclidian architecture'," he adds. A dryly stated callback that trails off at the grimacing clench of Jacob's teeth and the wrath behind it. He might not disagree about getting the others out. But he moves more toward the continued response. Hand up like he means to place it on Jacob's shoulder to calm him, without actually following through with contact. "We're standing in a quiet room in a stranger's house. Nothing is breathing down our necks, for now - so breath. Chill."

"Look, I know you're a changeling," Jeanie's dressing Jacob directly and doesn't seem particularly concerned about the other two men overhearing it. "And you can just save your breath and just stop with the trying to tell me to go and hide while you all do whatever the hell it was you were coming here to do in the first place. I made a Bargain that included looking out for things and helping where I can so I'm gonna do it... and if a giant hungry frog appears I'll be the first one turning tail and running away." Maybe she can outrun Gast with how winded he got just on the stairs. It's a hope anyways. "So we have two choices... back to the hallway which we at least know is probably returnable since Jake did came back once already. Or the attic."

Other than the current occupants, the house is remarkably quiet. Occasionally, the front door rattles as a breeze shakes it where it's chained open or a frog croaks quietly downstairs--or maybe outside--but the place seems otherwise peaceful, safe. Or like it should be. Were there not all this evidence of strangeness. Except... was that just a door closing downstairs? No footsteps, no voices, just the distinct sound of a door falling back into its frame.

"So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals," is Rafael's biblical response to Jacob's question, one shoulder coming up in a shrug. He brings one hand up to rub over his face, the welts there marked like strange scratches in almost-legible patterns. Like someone was writing on his skin with something he was allergic to, but very, very poorly. "I'd say the girl can go where she pleases," he adds, stepping over to Jeanie's side, a single brow lifting-- and then his head snaps to the door. "...was that a door?"

Jacob tenses when he feels Gast's hand on his shoulder, his own hands clenching. He grits his teeth, then slowly relaxes, although it takes visible effort. He leans in to Gast and murmurs something quietly. Then, he says, "You're right. Let's explore before we go /there/. Because /there/ is even less safe and the more ammunition, the more knowledge, we having going in will only help us." When Jeanie speaks, he turns towards her, and that new sense of tension and anger that seems to cling to him disappears for a moment, replaced with surprise. He opens his mouth to say something, but the words don't come immediately so he closes it again. He takes a breath, then chuckles, "Like I said, nothing is what it seems." He smirks, then adds, "Although, keep in mind that /I/ returned. I can't guarantee the same for anyone else who goes through the doors. Doors are my..." He pauses as he hears what sounds like a door closing. "...speciality."

He looks towards Rafael then, once more, and narrow his gaze thoughtfully. He studies the man for a long moment. He murmurs something to Gast again, then says, "Stay there." He motions to Rafael. "Don't touch her." He points at Rafael, threatening. "Yes, it was a door. This house is fucking filled with doors. We're about to taste that, I think."

Gast is in the middle of trying to calm Jacob when Jeanie says that. And he continues, is discomfort showing through in his own continued tension; which goes from his shoulders and up into his jaw. He nods to the agreement to explore those are places before returning to where Jacob game. And maybe to what preceeded. What got murmured. Regarding the revelation of Jacob being Lost? He's got enough composure that it doesn't go past that. Or it doesn't have time to manifest before they all hear a door closing, somewhere beneath them. He lets go of Jacob's shoulder "That was a door," he confirms for Rafael. And adds, "I trapped the front door between open and closed." Either ruling it out or making that a point of concern. "Pretend like there's a pandemic and keep apart. And listen." He tries to hear more, any other noises from about the place to follow the first.

Nothing. The world is quiet except for the intermittent wind, the odd creak of the house settling. No footsteps, no voices, no cars passing outside. It's a quiet evening on a quiet road.

"Someone put on some bossy pants this morning," Jeanie mutters to Rafael as Jacob gives even more orders which she doesn't exactly follow, she does creep to the top of the stairs to try and peek towards the front door. "It looks like it's still trapped or whatever you did..." And while Gast is asking folks to listen, she'll just lean a little further and try to look back at that Impossible Hall and see if maybe it moved or something. Can never trust an impossible thing.

To Jeanie: When Jeanie peeks back toward where she's pretty sure that door was, well, it's certainly still there, but now it's closed. Had Jacob closed it? She doesn't remember hearing Jacob closed it, but she had been distracted with her own investiations at the time. Curiouser, perhaps, is the small frog just sitting on the floor in front of it, head tilted slightly. Can it see her?

"I assure you. The only fuckin' person at risk of getting sick here is you if you keep this shit up," is Rafael's flat statement in Jacob's direction, his brows twitching together in a furrow and the look in his eyes turning slowly stormy, "We're tempting fate enough in this House of Leaves as it is, we don't have the fucking luxury to be fighting amongst each other on top of it."

He does not, in fact, stay in one place - instead he's moving to step out of his room to the top of the stairs, calling out, "Hello! We're doing a wellness check on the resident, is anyone there?"

Jacob grunts at Gast's words. "That was a door." He glances at Gast. "And I doubt it was an /outer/ door, so your traps are meaninless. No, she's coming for us. She wasn't happy. Bloody witch." Jeanie's words draw his attention then, have him looking towards her. "I would /love/ to trap her, but I couldn't. She's taunting us. He need to retreat. We need to burn this fucking place down to show her we're serious, then come back and enter the /eternal stairs/ once she knows we mean business. Nothing we do /here/ is going to route her out."

He looks towards Rafael and smirks. "What, ar eyou going to hug me?" For a second there's a flair up of anger, a clenching of fists. Something he never showed before now, at least to the few who new him before. His knuckles crack and he grunts. "He has a point, though. Let's discover as much as we can now. But anywaone, /anyone/, feel anything off, we need to leave." He glances towards the stairs, then back to the ground, "And we need to make it quick. She's coming. This isn't a wellness check anymore. There's nothing well here."

That sets Gast increments into ease, but not enough to resolve the tension he carries in his posture, as Jeanie calls back about the door still being as he left it. Rules that out. But it opens up a lot of other concerns. That they didn't say anything. He doesn't even bother to ask, 'Maybe it was the wind?' No, his attention is split between the cord hanging down in the hallway, beckoning them toward the attic - and the escalation of emotions in the interactions of Jacob and Rafael. "He hasn't left my sight," he informs Jacob, regarding Rafael. Which isn't exactly true. But true enough that he provides it as a calming point of view. "So lets get started with the attic, and go from there. One thing at a time. We'll all keep an eye and ear out. Alright? Even the House of Leaves didn't end too poorly for most of the people it crossed - save a blind writer or two."

Jeanie tries to make a little shushing motion to Rafael as he calls out, before she's giving a whisper only just loud enough for the rest of them to hear. "Jake... did you shut the door to the hall behind you when you left? Cause it's closed now. And I think there's a frog like, guarding it? Or watching for something?" She'll point out where the little frog is sitting with its tilted head. But she's more than willing to back away from the stairs and the creepy frog and up to the attic if that's where everybody else is going. Rule Number One of Creepy House: Don't Go Off By Yourself.

Wellness check? Not a wellness check? Whoever or whatever closed that door downstairs doesn't seem to care. There's no answer of any sort. No voices, no movement. Just the same patient stillness that preceded the sound, and the same patient stillness that followed it. And, well. The frog. Can little frogs close big doors? It tilts a look up at Jeanie and then pivots away, toward the front door. Or the stairs. Hard to be sure.

No response, so it's not the cops at least. "A... frog?" Rafael looks down the stairs as well, craning his neck as well. He's silent a long moment. "Yep. Yep, that's a frog." Drawin back, he turns a bit, "Attic, then. And our soundtrack isn't as good as the House of Leaves, Gast. Get me Poe in here."

Jacob nods to Gast. The sooner we resolve this, the better." He's about to follow Gast when he hears Jeanie's words. He looks back at her, his jaw tensing, his whole body tensing. "Where the fuck is it?" He leaves Gast's side, heading towards Jeanie, then right past her, towards the stairs. "I'm tired of this fucking shit!" He says it loud, so anybody in the house can hear it. "Stop fucking with us! Or I swear to God and the Queen and everything good in the world that I will /end/ you." There's violence in his words. Those who met him before would have likely found him easy-going, ambitious but composed. But not so now.

"This ends /now/!" And he starts towards the stairs. He waves for those with him to follow but he doesn't look back to see if they do. It's a frog. Just a little frog. But Jacob is waging war.

He pushes past the group, heading for the stairs, and he has the expression of a man on a mission. A violent mission. And then he's bounding down the stairs, heading towards the mysterious doors and frogs once more. Only this time he looks angry. "You! Come and get me, you witch!"

Didn't he used to be well composed, if a bit hazy on wrong and right? Something's different now.

As Jacob approaches the frog, it sorta two-steps to further rotate. Toward him? To face him? Is it answering him? It's so hard to tell where its little amphibious eyes are pointing. As Jacob gets closer still, the little critter starts to move, legs bending, body lifting. It's gonna jump.

Gast is curious for that search for confirmation from Jeanie as well - matters of whether Jacob had closed the door he'd gone and come back through, if that rules out the one that had closed itself while tensions were rising higher on the second floor. He looks tirder, somehow, as he slacks at the confirmation of more frogs tieing into this. Setting more notches into the column for the possibility of a giant monster pet frog's ravenous appetite as a madlib monster of the day. "Never listened to the album," he admits, where literature and music intersect. And he watches as Jacob rampages, toward the stairs and down them - and he steps to follow, to be a voice of calm. "Jacob-" Then stops. Sure, he'll still follow, eventually. But the others are following, and the cord is right there. He gets to pulling down the stairs from the ceiling, if only to peek up from the edge while the frog is squared off with.

"Dude, your friend has lost it," Jeanie turns to Gast as if he might have any control over Jacob's current warpath towards a tiny frog. "It seems like he might be more dangerous than any witch at the moment." The changeling was the one just talking about burning it all down and coming back later for eternal staircases. Crazy talk even by the standard of the day. "We should at least look up at the attic, while we're here. I can quote the Raven, nevermore as we do so." That's about all the Poe she knows off the top of her head.

"...yeah, I think your friend there's gone full-on Don Quixote with those frogs, man." Rafael gives the other two an actually worried look-- less angry about the man's behavior now and more concerned that there's legitimately something wrong with him. He certainly doesn't follow him down the stairs as he tilts at windmills-- or frogs for this matter-- and instead he looks up towards the attic cord. "Yeah, let's check up there before anything else. We're already up here, after all."

Downstairs, Jacob is charging at a leaping frog who's just trying to make a break for the open door. It gets into the air... but falters on the landing as the helldiver calls on the word to shut the amphibian invader down. With a damp smack, it falls to the floor and... plays dead? Is it playing dead? It's definitely not moving.

Upstairs, the tug at the pullcord reveals a set of collapsing steps which need to be unlatched and drawn down further to be ascended. The musty, dusty smell from up there contrasts with all the neatness and cleanliness in the rest of the house, leaving the impression that nobody's been up there in a while, but there seems to be a dangling light overhead, should anyone care to venture up to check all the same. One thing's for certain: there are very probably, almost definitely no frogs up here.

Jacob stares down at the frog. "I know who you are. And I'm not going to allow it." He's not paying attention anymore to Gast or Jeanie or the others who are probably thinking of him as a psychopath. What does he care? He's focused on the wrong. He makes a beeline for it. And as he does he seems to... grow. Not in size, but in presence. "You. Are. Over!"

Anyone who can feel magic and feel some happening as he attemmpts to shift fate, to affect that frog. Has he lost it? Possibly. But then that frog falls still and he rushes to it, slamming his foot down upon it, squishing it. It' not really pretty - it's actually pretty ugly - but that little front gets squished. Jacob growls, "And I will end you, too, witch, if I haven't already!" And then he has a glamorous moment of standing over the corpse of a frog with all his rage and amitions like a halo.

"I'm never sure what's left in people to lose," Gast notes to Jeanie and Rafael, to the rampaging warpath of Jacob as he goes to confront the frog. "Until I get to know them well enough, to see what they've already lost." There's concern there, sure, wariness regarding how to deal with the situation. And Jeanie knowing what Jacob is. And one of the routes that he has chosen is to check the attic. "We check things out. And maybe we get him somewhere to clear his head," he says, as much to himself in setting the plan, as to those two near to him. And with that plan shared, he unlatches the steps, draws them down, and makes his way up slowly to turn on the light. Trying to keep his lean and hungry self to one side, in case any should see fit to climb beside him and peek as well. He misses out on the heroic showdown with the frog - leaving the skalds to only imagine how the battle might have gone in this occultly meticulous homestead.

While Gast is talking, Jeanie's not really hearing much as she's too occupied staring in horror as Jacob starts curb stomping helpless amphibians that were just trying to get away. Her jaw drops and she begins to turn a little green herself. "I think I might get sick..." Not from any of the spooky stuff, nah. That she was confident in handling, but frog carnage is a straw too far. Gast and Rafael can explore the attic on their own, she's not really moving from that one spot.

"Hey... easy," Rafael reaches out a hand to Jeanie's shoulder to steady her, his brow furrowing a little in worry - wrinkling the blotchy welts across his forehead, "Just take a breath. You need to get out of here, or are you gonna be okay?" He watches her face with concern, more focused on that then either the attic or the frog-stomping downstairs.

*SPLAT!* The frog becomes a gross mess of blood and guts and slick skin on the floor of the entry way, just a few feet from the now-closed door that shouldn't be there. It issues no death knell. It doesn't transform into a prince as in the original telling of that old tale. Nor does it resolve into a witch. It's just a yucky stain upon an otherwise clean floor and Jacob's bootheel. But *damn* did that feel good. Cathartic, really. The angry obsession in Jacob's brain fades, those displaced memories drifting into indistinctness. Yeah. That feels better. Even if the house still doesn't answer his challenge.

The attic light is dim, the incandescent bulb of low wattage. It buzzes while it's on, smelling of burning dust after a moment, like when the heater kicks on for the first time in winter. Up here, the windows are well-sealed, the roof reinsulated within the past few years. Some boxes are labeled with holidays. Large plastic tubs house sweaters, and a few garment bags hang from a low rack off to one side. No evidence that's anything has been disturbed recently, the dust around the staircase visibly disturbed for its opening.

Jacob approaches the stunned frog. The one he could have sword was talking to him, taunting him. He stomps on it and after that there is no more taunting. Frog guts squirt. Peta would be really angry. But Jacob seems looks relieved. He takes a deep breath. He whispers, "No would be the time to leave..." But, well, he's along. He takes a deep breath, he sighs, and then he's turning to head back upstairs and join the others.

And all the whie he seems troubled. The anger that engulfed him a moment ago is gone - he's back to himself. But now there's trouble in his knitted brow, worry in his dark eyes. He heads upstairs, to join the others, and he does his best to act like nothing has happened. Yet it's clear he's more relaxed now, more focused. He approaches Gast. "What do you think? I think she's hiding in another world. Is it possible she's not?"

Even alone, Gast ascends to the top of the steps - giving himself time so that his lugs don't arise as an issue once more. He turns the light on and inhales, flaring his nostrils at that hint of burning dust like he's come across the first hint of an untidied place since sniffing at the basement below. "Manfred missed a spot," he comments - like attics are supposed to be regularly tended to, regarding dust and the like. He still has the journal with him, under one shoulder. He debates stepping back, descending, nothing but the mundane to greet him. Back, to Jacob, a glance that checks the expression of the other Lost before he answers. "Maybe. But I'd like to know her by her face, to start. See any pictures around? Maybe a mirror or two?" The last question added more quietly. But he rises, upward, entering the attic proper with the book. And he uses the moment to see something else - setting an expense of glamour, through his kith, an attempt seeing the most emotional moment play out that's been left behind on this object.

PETA might be angry, but Jeanie is just disappointed and shaken as she closes her eyes and try to think of anything that could wipe out the memory of the Great Frog Splattening. She jumps as Rafael reaches out, but looks over and gives a tiny nod. "I'll be fine. I've... I've seen worse." Her voice cracks a little when saying it so not the most convincing declaration of fine-ness ever, but she takes the deep breath and seems to steel herself to face whatever. "Let's just see if we can find out if there actually is a monster and get the heck out of here." Bring reinforcements probably, and not the mortal kind.

As she jumps, Rafael's hand stops half the way towards her... and he draws it back instead, arm falling down to his side and fingers smacking against the denim of his jeans. Turning, he looks up at Gast's return - there seems to be nothing up there from the man's manner - and then to the stairs as Jacob returns. A deep frown carves itself across his expression. "I don't think the woman's here at all, man. But if we're going to investigate anything, I'd suggest trying to find this well that he wrote about. Maybe out back?"

It's a little difficult to pretend like nothing happened when you're trailing frog-guts on your shoe, but at least the worst of it fades after a few steps, only a little smudge left on the bottom pair of stairs. Somebody's gonna be upset to come home to that.

Jacob snorts at Gast. "A picture? She appears as frogs, I kind of doubt she's the sort to have a lot of pictures. But I'll keep my eye out. In the meantime, be /careful/." He catches Jeanie's looke and clenches his jaw. He knows he had to do it, but judgement is always difficult. "Someday, you're going to have to make the same kind of choice. So don't judge too quick."

He looks back to Gast and nods, "Let's get what we can, while we acn. It's coming soon. It might be too late to escape here already. Might as well get what we can." He smirks. And while joking, his gaze watches the exits. He knows something is coming, judging from his expresion, but not when.

When Rafael speaks, he turns towards him. "Oh, she's here. What well? Well, this could solve a lot. Can we even /leave/. Let's find out." He's walked around enough now that his steps aren't even leaving frog guts behind. Yet there's no regret.

To Gast: Gast, focusing on the journal, receives a vision: An imposing woman, tall and broad shouldered, all her edges plushly padded, Lillian Alexander has hawkish features, an even honey-hued complexion, hazel eyes and riotous brown curls which fall to her shoulders, currently draped in a silk bathrobe of a dark midnight blue, has written only the date in her journal. January 8, 2020. She holds her pen still, above the page, hesitant to write. Her expression works through several emotions, concern and uncertainty chier among them, maybe even fear, but it all concludes with resolve, determination, as she pens that entirely sensible entry, an understatement of everything she's feeling right now, decidedly worried about what she has to do next... and everything she'll be leaving behind in the attempt.

It's like going into a trance. A mention of looking for a well gets, "Moment." Gast is still. Still but breathing after he runs his finger up the spine of the journal, drawing the wyrd from its past in exchange for a bit of harvested emotion - there's been plenty of fear to go around in the outside world lately, so a little might not be mixed. He's still breathing, but he's distracted - his eyes staring off, ahead, the aperture around the camera lens in the right expanding until it matches the permenantly dilated pupil that those who only see the Mask view, in place of clockwork. Jacob might hear the steady clip of a projector firing up, but the projected vision is viewed only internally by the Darkling. He doesn't offer any retort to the comment of froggy pictures. When he comes two he's repeating key words, softly. "Aquiline. Honey. Hazel. Lively curls. Midnight blue." He's seen someone. He has a face. Which is a start. He turns back to descend the steps, journal tucked back under his arm. "Any other beds about?" he asks. "Or space where there should have been luggage, in a closet?" Which is followed by a shrug and excuse as he ends his descent. "Got a hunch she wasn't alone back in January. And that she was planning to head out - maybe not with a good ideea of when she'd be back."

"You come into her house without permission to steal her things and kill her pet frogs. If I were a witch, I'd probably want to attack you to!" Jeanie's judgement on Jacob has pretty much solidified with Frog Stomping. For distraction, she seizes on Rafael's suggestion. "A well. That wasn't in the basement so it'd probably have to be out back. Fresh air could do us all some good. And it's not like we're finding any signs of her having been here more recently than January inside anyways..." In fact, she'll even lead the charge down the stairs trying her hardest not to look at the frog remains as she goes by and towards what she hopes is the backyard.

Jacob looks at Gast. He's said what he has to said, yet he has the air of a man itching for something more. He wants more. But he's holding himself back. And he's far better at it now that that frog is out of the way. He's nearly himself. Nearly.

He nods to Gast and holds his hands out "I think we need to work together. I apologize for going on without you, but I had to know. And now... well, maybe we all need to know. He glances at Jeanie and smiles, "I wish you weren't here. I liked the world where you were innocent."

He looks at Rafael as the man speaks. "Well, one way to find out, right?"