Is Goliath not a Philistine?
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Florence, Italy

"The name Murano Philter is actually a… what's the word…" Tutore Sebastian Fausti searched for the exact term as he took up the glass bottle from its position within the case. He placed it on a sturdy table erected nearby and removed the stopper. It appeared to be a perfume bottle, and contained a volume of water.

"Misnomer?" Elena Fabbro offered, pulling her black hair back over her ear.

"Yes, yes that's it." Fausti nodded. "A philter is another name for a love potion, and this contains nothing but water." He took up a pair of paper cups and poured the water from the bottle into each one. "An infinite supply of water, granted, but still."

"I was under the impression that this was exhibited in Venice?" Elena took up the glass and sipped at it, pleasantly surprised to find clear, delicious mineral water within.

"It takes on the properties of water around it— a sewage line burst near the Venetian Academy, and until it's repaired, we're keeping it here in Florence."

"Hmm." Elena nodded. "And this is an interactive exhibit?"

"The bottle has proven to be unbreakable— it's probably Barivoer's finest piece."

"As in Angelo Barovier? I wasn't aware he was involved with anar— that is, occult art."

Fausti's brow furrowed. Were he a priest, he would have made the sign of the cross. "'Anart' is what happened when an American hack decided to animate a few soup cans spilling on canvas. No emotion, no craft, no presence." The Tutore replaced the Philter in its case.

As he did, Elena blinked, deliberately, making sure to get a good, long look at the piece. "Mi dispiace. The education in Eurtec is more… focused on contemporary art."

"Hmm." Fausti nodded, drinking the rest of the water. "I'm afraid that the glassware wing here is still… under construction. Occultic glass art is not very popular in this day and age— the argument is that 'if you've seen one moving stained glass window, you've seen them all'."

"Philistines." Elena shook her head. "…talking of…"

"I know where this conversation is going." Fausti laughed. "Follow me."


"A rival to the David. Was Barazzi really so brash?" Elena disposed of her now empty paper cup as they exited the elevator.

"By all accounts, the man had an ego the size of Europe." The Tutore chuckled. "This exhibit isn't quite open, but I see no harm in giving someone so dedicated to the occult arts an early preview."

Elena beamed at this as they turned into a large room with black walls, a ring of lights overhead illuminating a centerpiece with a decapitated statue standing in the center, clutching a granite javelin. "The Goliath. Unbelievable."

"Arguably the crown jewel of the Florentine academy," Fausti agreed. "Of course, we'll be displaying it with the head separate, just in case." He waved her over to the front of the piece.

Before the statue, in a glass case, was its head, bald, unattractive, and noseless. This last detail caught Elena's attention. "Where is its nose?"

"Destroyed by the pebble the David hurled at it. We have some fragments in storage, and plan to display photographs of them."

"It's a shame that Barazzi was executed for this." Elena shook her head. "The techniques he used to animate this are… forever lost."

"We're not even sure it was purposeful. Barazzi's desire to compete with Michelangelo may have given it life all on its own." Fausti put his hands together. "This is a valuable piece. Three attempted thefts in the last decade."

"Three? I've heard of two." Elena's eyebrow raised.

"The third one happened only this last month. The bumbling fools tripped every alarm, managed to make off with a piece of jewelry that was found in a gutter the next day."

"Valuable?"

"Costume jewelry, a replica of a diamond piece we have in high security storage." The Tutore waved his hands around. "This exhibit isn't complete, of course. We plan to have displays about its history and the artist, and we've even recovered some of the original statuary it did battle with."

"Aren't you afraid it's going to animate if exposed to its old opponents?"

"It's been inactive for over five-hundred years, and the neck's too damaged to be re-attached." Fausti waved it off. "Someone would have to staple it back on, and anyone willing to damage art that badly is a monster."

"Agreed." Elena looked around the room, blinking very slowly and deliberately. "There is one other thing I would like to see, if I would be so permitted?"

"By all means."

"Clarice's Doom."

Fausti inhaled softly, and nodded. "Certainly. Jewelry is on the third floor. I can even show you the piece that those fools attempted to steal…"


Two hours later, Elena Fabbro sat in her room at the Santa Monaca Hostel, uploading the images that her retinal cameras captured. Her cohorts on the other end of the call viewed them with no small measure of interest, even as Elena chided them. "Tripping every alarm? Really, Antoine? Are you trying to have them get your scent?"

"I realize it was obvious, but it was the quickest way to test them all." On the other end of the Skype call, a garbled voice spoke. It was a formality— they all knew each others name and faces, but it was best to hide them from eavesdroppers. "We have the means to disable them, we know the layout, we have retinal scans, and we have confirmation that the Goliath is out of storage."

"Now, we just need to reattach the head." Piotr spoke from another window. "That's going to be tricky. The head is on a pressure-sensitive stand, and actually getting it to stay on the body without damaging it is…"

"Going to be next to impossible," Elena agreed. "Uploading something to you. Found it on display in the special collections wing."

She uploaded a file entitled "firstflorentineitem.pdf" to the chat.

She could hear the incredulity in Piotr's voice, even through the garbling. "So, we're literally going to be molding it back on using these things."

"We don't even need all of them, I don't think." Antoine sighed. "These descriptions are so vague. Didn't the Spectre steal part of this in the 60's?"

"Where do you think I got the idea from?" Elena grinned. "So, do we have a timeline of when we can do it?"

"Sunday," Antoine decided. "The Academy isn't open, and they have minimal night guards. If the Goliath goes mad, then we don't have to worry about anyone dying."

"So, three days." Piotr affirmed. "I'll go in tomorrow and see what occult defenses I can get rid of, and try to skirt around the ones I can't."

"Good luck, P." Elena yawned. "We need to rest. My body's still on Tokyo time."

"Same here." Antoine's channel let out a garbled yawn. "May you sleep with a loose leg." Then, the call disconnected.

"Why do the Spanish have such odd idioms?" Elena shook her head and closed the laptop, before she collapsed on the bed. Her dreams smelled of granite and Euros.

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