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Thread: Devil's Thrill

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    I'm bored Polly's Avatar
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    Devil's Thrill

    DEVIL'S THRILL



    “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
    An evil soul producing holy witness
    Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
    A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
    O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!”


    William Shakespeare, 'The Merchant of Venice'
    The architect of the building was either clueless or negligent about the acoustics of the building that he had designed. That, and the stairs were a little too steep.

    Those were the two observations that an old priest made during his ascent towards the third floor of the building; a somewhat run-down palace in one of the side-streets around Vatican City. His every step was accompanied by a loud and long echo, which resounded throughout the stairwell and the hallways.
    Moving around the building silently was completely impossible, the traitorous echoes bouncing off the walls and marble floors, and alerting everyone inside the building. The priest wondered for a moment if perhaps the building had been designed that way on purpose, so as to alert its staff of any intruders. Knowing that he would never know the answer, he made a small mental shrug and decided not to entertain the thought any more.

    He was quite old, with numerous wrinkles and a small hunch, yet he retained a youthful spirit and had a surprisingly good endurance for someone of his age and stature; the long and arduous ascent to the top floor of the building failed to take any noticeable strain on the man.


    Hurrying up the stairs and down the poorly-lit hallway to the right on his target floor, he found himself in front of his destination in no time.

    'Director' – stated a small brass plate on the door.

    The priest straightened the small black cap on the back of his head, pushed his round spectacles higher, to the bridge of his nose, and knocked politely a couple of times.
    He waited to be invited in, but there was no answer. Not discouraged by this, he just knocked again, this time a little louder. Again, no one replied from the inside or opened the door, to which the priest narrowed his eyes a little; he was certain that the person he was looking for was inside the room, so the lack of reply came as a little bit of an annoyance. He decided to try once more, knocking on the heavy wood three times, slowly and loudly. And again – silence.

    Tired of knocking and waiting in vain, he grabbed the doorknob and tried turning it. With a silent creak of the hinges the door swung open sluggishly, but still more easily than one might expect considering their size. The priest entered the room without further hesitation.

    The first thing he noticed was how stuffy the office was, his lungs reflexively gasping for air within a few seconds. The second was how dark it was in there; the three large windows, which spanned almost the full width and height of the wall opposite the door, had been almost completely covered by the curtains, leaving only narrow cracks open for the few rays of sunshine to get through. In its path the weak light revealed an entire cloud of dust, which seemed to perpetually hang in the air; neither swirling around nor showing any sings of subsiding, either.

    The priest's eyes were instantly drawn to a large mahogany desk that lay in front of the middle window, but that wasn't due to its massive size nor its central location in the room - what caught the old man's attention were the contents of the desk.

    All the usual things - books, files, stationary, and various accessories - had been removed from the desk and placed rather carelessly into several heaps to the both sides of it. Its place had been taken by a huge, and rising, house of cards. Its bottom layer covered the entirety of the desktop. The pyramid of the cards rose over three feet in height, and there were only three or four rows remaining for it to be completed.
    One after another, pairs of cards were added atop the existing rows, slowly but steadily. The builder of this imposing structure was almost completely hidden behind their creation, but the priest managed to catch a glimpse of messy, silvery hair behind the top layer of the cards.

    “Hello, Narbareck,” he greeted the person, his lips curling into a small and kind smile.

    There was no reply from behind the rising mountain of cards.

    The old priest sighed, as if to say ‘this is so like you’. He dragged one of the chairs from the corner by the door across the room and to the desk, and started observing the meticulously built house of cards as it grew taller and taller. He was restless, though, and grew bored of watching Narbareck put cards together into triangles within less than a minute.
    He stood up and proceeded to stroll around Narbareck’s office aimlessly.
    Loud creaks from the ancient wooden floor accompanied his every step. He passed sluggishly by the tall bookshelves that lined the wall to the right of Narbareck’s desk, running his fingers across the spines of the books, and finally stopped in front of the window.
    Even though the curtains had been drawn over it so that natural light could only come through a tiny crack in the middle, it was obvious that the sun was high and shining brightly. Without even thinking, the priest raised his hand to spread the curtains.


    He was stopped in his tracks, though, when Narbareck suddenly spoke:

    “Stop right there or it will be the last thing you'll do.”

    The order was effective; Narbareck’s voice was low, menacing, and ice-cold. However, while one might have expected the priest to freeze in terror – as most people would – he just chuckled childishly and slowly backed away from the window, turning towards Narbareck.

    “One might start thinking that you’re a vampire, the way you’ve secluded yourself in here...,” he said, his lips curling into a mischievous grin.
    A few seconds passed in silence before Narbareck replied:

    “If you break my concentration and I make a mistake, I promise I will kill you.”

    “You’re as harsh as usual,” the priest said with a sigh and sat down in his chair again.

    He started tapping on the small part of the desk that wasn’t occupied by the house of cards with his index finger, but a chilling glare from Narbareck quickly made him opt for twirling his thumbs in his lap instead.

    Finally, after a very long minute of silence, Narbareck declared:

    “Done!”

    “Finally.”

    “Patience is a virtue, Merem.”

    My. Never thought I’d hear that from you.”

    “Spare me your wit,” Narbareck said and finally emerged from behind a mountain of cards.
    Her silvery hair was uncombed, and strands of it covered the right half of her face. A single emerald eye was locked with Merem’s.

    “Why are you here?” she asked.

    “Business, I’m afraid.”

    “Ah. ‘Business’.”

    She turned away from the priest and walked over to the window, her hands behind her back. Merem couldn’t help but notice that her figure, albeit partially obfuscated by her baggy black and white habit, seemed somewhat thinner than the last time he saw her. And he had utmost confidence in his memory.

    “Stop staring at my arse,” Narbareck suddenly said.

    “How did you...”

    “I can feel your stare,” she said, shooting him a cold look over her shoulder.

    “Sorry,” he replied, chuckling, “You do seem awfully thin, though. Are you eating properly?”

    ”What are you, my mother?”

    “Of course not. Your mother is dead.”

    “Do you have a major in stating the obvious or something? It was a rhetorical question.”

    Another chuckle came from Merem, before he spoke again:

    ”So...?”

    “I’m doing just fine,” Narbareck said, cutting him short, “I’m working out regularly.”

    ”You don’t look all that healthy, though.”

    ”Of course not. They’ve been keeping me locked up in here since last year. I mostly just sit here all day, except when I’m sleeping. Oh, and there’s also the gym. Such fun.”

    “I knew that they kept an eye on you, but I didn’t know it was that bad.”

    “It’s bad. The building is also under constant watch; I figure that the Vatican would be under red alert if I suddenly went out for a walk or something. Seriously, those guys are incredibly paranoid. I’ve had to dismantle surveillance cameras and mikes throughout the building twice in the last year.”

    “They do seem pretty jumpy around you. Maybe...”

    “Maybe they should just fuck off. I’m telling you – if I just left for the nearest grocery store or restaurant, there would probably be a dozen Executors breathing down my neck in a second, and the Pope would be declaring apocalypse!”

    Merem waited for a few seconds for Narbareck to calm down after this outburst of frustration. There was still a buzz in the old man’s ears, as Narbareck didn’t seem to possess the ability to control the loudness of her voice.

    “Are you okay now?”

    ”What a stupid question,” she said and turned back to the window.


    In one fell swoop she spread the curtains apart, and opened the window.

    A stream of bright light and fresh air suddenly filled the room, and Merem had to squint in response. Warmth of the stale air tapered off, and the gloomy darkness that permeated the room was dispelled in a blink of an eye by a powerful and blinding torrent of warm June sun. Narbareck took the strand of hair that covered her right eye and tucked it nonchalantly behind her ear. She stood silently in front of the window for a while, observing the scenery below.

    The city was bustling with activity - a group of tourists were insecurely making their way across the small piazza below the window of her office, on their way to the nearby Via della Conciliazione, and then, of course, to the Vatican.
    Muffled noise of thousands of cars and mopeds permeated the air, mixed with the clicking of the tourists’ cameras and shouts in some incomprehensible Asian language. However, the bustle and charm of the streets of Rome failed to leave an impression on Narbareck; she neither scowled nor smiled, and just kept looking at the rooftops and the alleys with an expressionless look on her face.

    “Lovely weather, isn’t it?” Merem said, trying to reignite the conversation.

    “Sure,” she replied, and then promptly returned to her desk, disappearing behind the tower of cards again.

    “What are you going to do with this?”

    “I don’t know. I thought about setting it on fire or something.”

    “It’d be a waste – this looks like a very fine desk. It would be such a shame to damage it.”

    Merem’s feigned concern for her furniture didn’t trick Narbareck, who only replied with a snicker.

    Then, just as quickly and unexpectedly as she had pulled the curtains apart, she toppled the cards.


    She swept the bottom layer completely, after which the upper layers came tumbling down, and rather loudly at that. The whole process was surprisingly short, Merem observed, considering the sheer size of the structure. Within only a few seconds a huge house of cards that Narbareck had spent God knows how many hours meticulously and painstakingly building, was gone.

    Narbareck’s impulsive action and the momentous collapse of the card tower left both her and Merem in the state of mild shock for a while; they just sat in silence again, staring at the heap of cards on the desk. It was again Merem who broke the silence:

    ”Dammit!” he said, looking visibly disappointed.

    “What’s wrong, old man? Feel sorry that it’s gone?”

    “No. It’s just that I had this brilliant plan about feigning a sneeze – which by the way I'd have no problem justifying with all the dust around here; you should really open that window more often. And then the sneeze would have toppled the tower. But now my plan is ruined, thanks to you.”

    Narbareck stared at the old priest, wide-eyed and seemingly at a loss for words. His fast-paced babbling and the nonchalant tone of his voice left her stunned.

    ”Say – are you senile or childish? I can’t tell.”

    ”I’d say that there’s not much difference,” he said with a chuckle.

    “I guess you’re right. But still – thinking of destroying this without my permission? Do you crave death so much?”

    “Now, now. Is that a way to treat an old friend? To kill me over such a trifle?”

    ”I’ve killed people for less,” she said, in a flat voice, took out a small dagger from one of the drawers in her desk, and started clearing her overgrown fingernails.

    “So, what is this ‘business’ that you have with me?”

    “Right!” the priest exclaimed, suddenly energised again. “I’ve got some news for you which I think you’ll be pleased to hear.”

    ”You seem quite impatient. Come on, tell me.”

    “It’s about Gransurg Blackmore.”


    Narbareck’s mouth widened into a grin. Her emerald eyes were suddenly alight with excitement.

    “Do go on.”

    “Our informant told me via my... helpers, that Blackmore has left his mansion in Prague yesterday evening, and has headed for his old castle. He’s taken most of his coven with him.”

    “Has our operation been discovered?”

    ”I don’t think so – apparently he left because the Association had started to tighten their grip in Prague. The word is that a special team of Enforcers was sent from the Clock Tower.”

    ”Are you sure about that?”

    ”Pretty sure. I’m still in contact with out friend in Blackmore’s coven.”

    “But... wait – isn’t Blackmore supposed to be cooperating with the Association?”

    ”Heh. ‘Cooperating’ might be stretching it a little. Anyways, yes, he does, usually; but apparently he got into a conflict with some of those stuck up Clock Tower lords, and now he’s sort of fallen out of favour.”

    “I see. So, Blackmore is back to his castle?”

    ”It seems so.”

    ”Well, that makes things simpler.”

    ”I... don’t see how it-”

    “It’s time for action, Merem. At last!”

    ”You can’t just storm Gransurg’s castle without a plan. That’s... suicidal."

    ”I’m afraid there’s no time to waste,” Narbareck said, rising to her feet. She hid the dagger with which she was playing inside a compartment in her right boot, and headed towards the door, “It’s a race against time now that those magi got involved. We can’t afford to wait, so I’ll just make some sort of plan as I go.”

    Despite her words of concern about the agents of the Association, Merem got the impression that she wasn’t at all disturbed by the turn of events. On the contrary; having been left with a narrow window of opportunity seemed to have made her terribly excited. Her grin was positively disturbing.

    “Narbareck, don’t be reckless!” Merem pleaded, but he had already resigned to the fact that there was no negotiating with his Captain once she had come upon a scent of prey.
    Narbareck had set her sights on Blackmore a year ago, and her patience - if she ever had any real patience – was running short.

    “You know you’re asking the impossible, Merem,” she said with a chuckle, “I could never forgive myself if I let this chance slip; or worse; if the Association’s dogs beat me to it.”

    The two stared into each others’ eyes for a few more seconds, before Merem finally gave up:

    ”I guess it’s meaningless to implore you to come up with a new strategy and bide for time.”

    ”It is.”

    “Well, since that’s the case, I’ll just leave the necessary documents here,” he said, taking out a large brown folder and placing it on the desk, “These are maps, blueprints, escape plans, and everything else you’ll need.”

    ”Are you going somewhere already?”

    ”Yes. Otherwise I would stay and maybe even plan this out with you, but since you’re so determined to take immediate action, I better adapt. My little friends will keep an eye on Blackmore’s castle, and I’ll stay in touch with you to let you know if anything happens.”

    ”Good. And do try to reestablish contact with our guy there. So that he’s ready when the time comes.”

    ”Of course.”

    ”Good. Well, that’s it then,” Narbareck said, barely suppressing her excitement. A familiar spark had already appeared in her eyes, Merem noted – a spark of an insatiable murderous impulse. Even an Ancestor like himself couldn’t help but feel nervous at the sight of it.

    “Well, Merem,” she said, opening the doors and stepping outside, “It’s hunting time.”



    ***

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _


    Author's notes:
    - Well, even though the judging for the contest isn't over yet, people have started posting their fics here so I might as well do the same.
    - This is an edited version of my contest entry, with improved spelling/grammar, some improvements in the style ( hopefully!
    ), and also some noticable additions later on in the story.
    Hope you enjoy it!
    Last edited by Polly; April 23rd, 2014 at 04:28 PM.
    My attempts at being a (fanfic) writer:

    Eclipse - a Saber Alter oneshot
    Requiem for a Race - Altrouge and Ortenrosse hunt the TAs ( 1/3 chapters, discontinued )
    Memories of a King - a 'Saber Origins' story ( 8/? chapters, discontiuned )
    A Small Warmth - a post UBW-Good oneshot, Saber/Rin
    Devil's Thrill - Narbareck hunts down a DAA Blackmore ( 10/10 chapters, finished )
    Boundary of Loneliness - Ryougi Shiki/Alphard Al-Shua oneshot. Lemon-flavoured

  2. #2
    屍食鬼 Ghoul
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    Huh, there seems to be a lot of focus on rarely-seen characters lately, I like it. Curious as to what happens next, but I do have to ask - why is Narbareck referring to the King of Rats as Merem? I could be wrong but I remember reading something about how she's one of the few people who have met his real body.

  3. #3
    I'm bored Polly's Avatar
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    He's still Merem, more or less. He serves as Merem's mouthpiece, and is his left arm.

    And, well, calling him 'Merem' is shorter and simpler than saying 'King of Rats', so I'd say it's not much of a stretch that Narbareck would call him so.
    My attempts at being a (fanfic) writer:

    Eclipse - a Saber Alter oneshot
    Requiem for a Race - Altrouge and Ortenrosse hunt the TAs ( 1/3 chapters, discontinued )
    Memories of a King - a 'Saber Origins' story ( 8/? chapters, discontiuned )
    A Small Warmth - a post UBW-Good oneshot, Saber/Rin
    Devil's Thrill - Narbareck hunts down a DAA Blackmore ( 10/10 chapters, finished )
    Boundary of Loneliness - Ryougi Shiki/Alphard Al-Shua oneshot. Lemon-flavoured

  4. #4
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Imperial's Avatar
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    The Merem-Narbareck exchange got a bit repetitive, but that's the one very small negative in a great first chapter.

    I like the fleshing out of obscure characters (character sketches, really), and the way they play off of each other. They're adversarial without being openly nasty, cooperative without seeing eye to eye. Nuance. I like that.

    It's interesting to see the notion that the Vatican keeps Narbareck under lock and key. My interpretation of her was someone who had free reign to do pretty much everything she wanted as long as it didn't get splashed across a front page or openly provoke the magi. Of course, with her naked zeal and the tone of the conversation, I can't help but think this story is going to end with Narbareck dying, disgraced or locked in a dungeon after some Pyrrhic victory against Blackmore's coven.

    But I suppose we'll just have to wait and see. Color me very interested.

  5. #5
    吸血鬼 Vampire AkaiNeko's Avatar
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    Well I liked it. Though I admit a certain concern that it seems set to focus on a character we know next to nothing about, beyond that she's young and female, sorta locked up, stupid-powerful and kinda bloodlusty. And likes Ciel, which she shows by sending her on suicide missions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Imperial View Post
    Of course, with her naked zeal and the tone of the conversation, I can't help but think this story is going to end with Narbareck dying, disgraced or locked in a dungeon after some Pyrrhic victory against Blackmore's coven.
    God I hope not. It would (almost certainly) be kind of terrible on a number of levels.

  6. #6
    I'm bored Polly's Avatar
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    Part II



    Within seconds of leaving her office at the headquarters of the Burial Agency, Narbareck was already dashing down the narrow streets that led to the Via della Conciliazione, impatient to get to the Vatican as soon as possible.
    Still catching her breath after running down several flights of stairs, she entertained herself by fantasizing about reactions of the agents placed in charge of her surveillance. Her sudden venture into the outside world, after being locked up in that godforsaken building for months on end, must have taken them completely by surprise.
    A few cups of coffee must have gotten broken or spilt, she was certain.

    ‘And they’ve probably already alerted those old farts in the Vatican.’

    It was only a matter of minutes before men in black robes would surround her and escort her back. Hers was an unwelcome presence in the normal world, among other humans, and even less welcome in the Vatican, where she was aching to get to as quickly as she could.

    Well, as fast as she could without breaking into running, to be more precise. Not that Narbareck particularly cared about appearances; it was just that running in her habit would have almost certainly ended in her tripping and falling face-first onto the pavement. And she had no wish to show up with a bleeding nose in front of the cardinals.
    Again, she didn’t really care about their opinions of her – she knew that they despised her as the lowest of the scum and wanted to have nothing to do with her – it was just that she questioned her own self-control, and wasn’t really sure that she’d be able to stop herself from breaking a neck or two should anyone laugh at her.

    So she settled for the next best thing, which was to walk at a fastest pace possible and contain her urge to take lives for a while. She looked a bit awkward walking like that, but then again, Narbareck was hardly someone who could just simply disappear into the crowd.

    Her silvery hair and her black robes fluttered in the warm summer zephyr, turning a number of heads in the streets. The long and unkempt strands of her hair kept falling over her eyes, which quickly started to annoy her.
    Just as she had reached the avenue, she decided that she had had enough; she took a small hairband and pulled her hair into a tail. That only made more people pay attention to her, but she hardly noticed.

    The Via della Conciliazione was absolutely packed with people and vehicles; tourist buses, motorcycles, taxis, bicycles... all of them creating an unimaginable chaos and noise as they tried to wiggle their was to St. Peter’s Square.
    Even though it was quite a shock, following months of what was not much different to solitary confinement, Narbareck remained unfazed by the hectic atmosphere of Rome's most famous avenue, and just kept pressing on towards St. Peter’s, pushing people aside with her hands and elbows without batting an eye, her gaze fixed on the towering dome of the iconic basilica.

    A few hurt and stunned tourists later, she was standing in St. Peter’s Square, a little surprised that she hadn’t been caught by the agents of the Church yet.

    She moved to the relative safety of the colonnades on the northern side of the square, and remained there for a few seconds to observe.
    Failing to spot the familiar black robes of the Executors, she mingled into the crowd again and headed for the Via di Porta Angelica, just behind the northern colonnades.
    The crowds were somewhat thinner in the street, but there seemed to be some commotion around the Gate of St. Anna; two black cars had just left the Vatican at full speed, apparently not concerned in the slightest about the pedestrians scattered throughout the narrow streets. Several tourists around Narbareck mumbled in disapproval as she elbowed her way to the gates, which had already been closed shut.

    Two Swiss guardsmen in their plain, blue uniforms, stood on guard in front of the gate – Narbareck immediately noticed that they were carrying sidearms; an unusual sight, seeing as how the Guard mostly had a ceremonial role. Weapons were only carried when Pope was nearby, mostly during his trips abroad. That two regular guardsmen were armed meant that the Vatican was on alert.
    This only made Narbareck snicker in glee.


    She straightened her hair and clothes a little, and took out a large, black, Pectoral cross from one of the pockets of her habit.
    She hanged the necklace around her neck, put on an angelic expression on her face, and approached the gates. The guards immediately stopped her:

    ”I’m sorry, sister, no entry,” said one of the guards; a middle-aged and well-built man.

    “The Vatican is currently off grounds for everyone,” added the second guard; a young blonde lad with blue eyes.

    “Oh? Did something happen?”

    “Nothing serious, don’t worry. But a state of emergency has been introduced, and the security has been tightened around the city.”

    “I see. I hope nothing bad has happened.”

    ”No, no, don’t worry,” the older guard said with a kind smile, “just a little security issue, but nothing serious. Everything should be taken care of soon.”

    ”That’s good. Well, I’ve received an invitation from cardinal-“ Narbareck started, stepping forward, but was cut short and stopped again by the younger guard.

    “I’m afraid we can’t let you pass. No one enters or leaves the Vatican until the situation’s been resolved and the state of emergency recalled.”

    “And besides, we couldn’t let you in without proper authorisation anyways,” said the other man.

    “Authorisation? But... I don’t have any papers with me...”

    “In that case I’m afraid we can’t let you enter the Vatican.”

    “But... I had a call this morning from Cardinal Tomko. I’m from the Urbaniana University, and he asked me to come at this hour to the Vatican. We have some issues to discuss...”

    ”Couldn’t he have arranged to meet you somewhere else?” said the younger guard, eying her suspiciously.

    “He said that he was too busy today to leave the Vatican, and asked me to come to his office here. He said there shouldn’t be problems with me entering,” Narbareck replied humbly, keeping her head down.

    “Well, I’m certain that the Cardinal and you have some important issues to discuss, but I’m afraid we can’t let you pass without proper documents.”

    “But you don’t understand – I have to hurry! I can’t let the Cardinal-“

    ”Sister, I’m sorry, but the Vatican is currently off-limits,” said the younger guard, stepping forward and forcing Narbareck to back away a little.


    Narbareck hung her head, staring at the pavement blankly for a few seconds. Then, she locked her gaze with the older guard’s, and started to twirl the cross on her necklace between her fingers.

    “But... I really have to go to that meeting with the Cardinal...” she pleaded.
    Her pale lips twirled into a small and cruel smile.

    The guard’s eyes slowly moved downwards. A second later, they widened in terror.

    He recognised the cross with which the young nun in front of him was playing; the shiny black Peter Cross – a cross turned upside-down – was undoubtedly one of a kind. And, being a veteran part of the Vatican’s security, he knew to whom it belonged.
    While he had failed to recognise Narbareck by her rather unique white hair, he realized her true identity by her necklace. Pope’s security force had been informed of Narbareck’s existence over a year ago, when she took over the infamous Burial Agency.
    And while her picture faded from his memory in time, the black reverse cross somehow got firmly engraved into the guard’s mind.

    He swallowed nervously, and his entire body suddenly got soaked in cold sweat. Narbareck didn’t fail to notice the man’s reaction, which made her even more gleeful.

    And when the guard lowered his right hand to his sidearm, she said in a quiet, but menacing voice:

    ”I don’t want any trouble, gentlemen.”

    “I’m sorry?” said the younger guard, who, unlike his senior partner, didn’t recognise Narbareck.

    He had only been in the Swiss Guard for a few months, and while he was aware of the existence of the Burial Agency and its infamous leader, he didn’t know what Narbareck looked like.

    “Would you please let me pass?” Narbareck said to the older guard, her voice angelically sweet again.

    “I... have to consult my superior officer...” the man mumbled. He was breaking into sweat already, which greatly amused the girl.

    “I don’t think there’s any need for that. Why cause unnecessary trouble? And I’m already late to my meeting with the Cardinal.”

    “There’s still procedure, sister. I’m sure you understand,” the younger guard said.

    “Of course, of course. I understand.”

    She turned to the older guard, fixing her cold green eyes with his terrified grey ones.

    “W-well, of course, we must be professional... but in this case I think we can make an exception. No need to alert the rest of the garrison over such trivial matter. I’m sure the honourable sister has no shady business or anything. No need to make a fuss...”

    “Thank you, kind sir,” she said with a curtsy.

    “Sir, we can’t just let someone into the Vatican without papers!”

    The older guard, who was quickly coming to terms that he has to choose between his life and his career in the Guard, wiped a few drops of sweat from his forehead.

    “Mark, don’t complicate things, please. No one needs to know. And I promise to take full responsibility, okay?”

    ”Eh...”

    “Please, good man, “ Narbareck pleaded, with an expression so humble that the older guard was left bewildered how someone of her reputation could look so... innocent; “I’m in a hurry. Please let me pass.”

    Turning his head from Narbareck to his partner, and back to her, the young guard eventually caved in:

    ”Alright, fine. But I still have to search you, alright?”

    ”That won’t be necessary, Mark.”

    “Sir, we can’t just forgo the entire procedure! I can’t just let someone in without checking them, even if it’s a nun!”

    ”I’m telling you-“

    “It’s alright,” Narbareck said, cutting the other guard short, “I don’t want to give you any trouble.”

    “Alright. Excuse me,” said the younger guard and started searching Narbareck for any weapons.

    She looked at the older guard, who was almost shaking with terror, and winked at him. Her coy expression made him go pale. The young guard, Mark, groped her chest – which was rather bountiful – for a second while probing her, to which she grinned and chuckled:

    ”I think it’s a little inappropriate to touch a lady there.”

    ”S-sorry, miss,“ the young man apologised, then tapped the tip of his beret and bowed, “You’re good to go.”

    ”Thank you, “ Narbareck said, curtsied again to both guards, and entered the Vatican.

    She made sure to shoot a grin at the older guard while passing by him.


    ***

    Last edited by Polly; April 5th, 2014 at 06:06 AM.
    My attempts at being a (fanfic) writer:

    Eclipse - a Saber Alter oneshot
    Requiem for a Race - Altrouge and Ortenrosse hunt the TAs ( 1/3 chapters, discontinued )
    Memories of a King - a 'Saber Origins' story ( 8/? chapters, discontiuned )
    A Small Warmth - a post UBW-Good oneshot, Saber/Rin
    Devil's Thrill - Narbareck hunts down a DAA Blackmore ( 10/10 chapters, finished )
    Boundary of Loneliness - Ryougi Shiki/Alphard Al-Shua oneshot. Lemon-flavoured

  7. #7
    吸血鬼 Vampire AkaiNeko's Avatar
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    Hehehehe. I think I'm gonna like this girl. I feel like you do a good job of really describing the scenes, properly taking us through the streets and showing us the sights, giving us impressions and such. No smells though. Those are important. Your formatting can be pretty inconsistent, though - weird line spacing and such. I'm pretty sure at least some of it is intentional, but it's annoying.

    Question: How'd you come up with the character? What's the concept? And did she clip her toenails before running out?

  8. #8
    I'm bored Polly's Avatar
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    Eh, my formatting is pretty standard; a break in the paragraph when I want to accent the thought that comes after the break or something, one line breaks between paragraphs, one line breaks between each line of dialogue, two line breaks between minor scene changes, and (...) or *** when the scene changes completely.

    As for your question: I just took what little had been given to us, and worked my way from there. I can't really explain it, I just used the data we have and tried picturing what kind of person she is, how someone like her would talk, added a quirk or two...
    Also, no, she didn't clip her toenails.

    And, well, I'm really glad that you like it.
    Last edited by Polly; April 5th, 2014 at 11:08 AM.
    My attempts at being a (fanfic) writer:

    Eclipse - a Saber Alter oneshot
    Requiem for a Race - Altrouge and Ortenrosse hunt the TAs ( 1/3 chapters, discontinued )
    Memories of a King - a 'Saber Origins' story ( 8/? chapters, discontiuned )
    A Small Warmth - a post UBW-Good oneshot, Saber/Rin
    Devil's Thrill - Narbareck hunts down a DAA Blackmore ( 10/10 chapters, finished )
    Boundary of Loneliness - Ryougi Shiki/Alphard Al-Shua oneshot. Lemon-flavoured

  9. #9
    Stupid Low Luck Rating Elf's Avatar
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    . . . You know the contest isn't over yet right? Now I know who wrote this. Good show.



    The Law Unto Herself Chronicles- JukePop Serial

    Forest is a vampire who's a bit too good for her own good and doesn't know when to leave things alone. Armed with a ridiculously large hand gun, martial arts skills, a bitching pony car, and a love for pop culture she fights the forces of evil. Urban Fantasy 80's Style.

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsaRandomUsername
    Elfgasm: The phenomenon that occurs among the general populace whenever a certain user who has been claimed to wear jackboots and is pointy-eared posts an idea or updates and is met with majority approval to the point of near-zeal as a result of said poster's popularity with the writing crowd.

  10. #10
    此処に辿るはあらゆる収斂。 此処に示すはあらゆる宿願。 Arashi_Leonhart's Avatar
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    Blame IRUN. He started it. Also, it's not like anybody couldn't tell who did what by this stage.

  11. #11
    Stupid Low Luck Rating Elf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arashi_Leonhart View Post
    Blame IRUN. He started it. Also, it's not like anybody couldn't tell who did what by this stage.
    But now I can't be biased! Well, theoretically I can. At least this version seems to be formatted a little better.



    The Law Unto Herself Chronicles- JukePop Serial

    Forest is a vampire who's a bit too good for her own good and doesn't know when to leave things alone. Armed with a ridiculously large hand gun, martial arts skills, a bitching pony car, and a love for pop culture she fights the forces of evil. Urban Fantasy 80's Style.

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsaRandomUsername
    Elfgasm: The phenomenon that occurs among the general populace whenever a certain user who has been claimed to wear jackboots and is pointy-eared posts an idea or updates and is met with majority approval to the point of near-zeal as a result of said poster's popularity with the writing crowd.

  12. #12
    I'm bored Polly's Avatar
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    Part III



    The heavy thumps of Narbareck's boots on the ornate marble floors of the Apostolic Palace's stately corridors echoed throughout the building.

    One or two clerks and priests that she met on her way to the palace's top floor seemed perplexed at the sight of her. She paid them no heed, though, and just hurried towards an office of a Cardinal; not the office of Cardinal Tomko, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Evangelization of the Peoples - he was merely a cover story. The man she was meeting was not a public face in the Vatican.

    'Department of Holy Relics' said the brass plate on the door before which she stood. She didn't bother with the knocking, and just opened the door without hesitation.


    “Oh, good, you’re here alr-“

    An elderly Cardinal stood up from his armchair to greet the newcomer, but stopped in the middle of his sentence once he saw who it was that had entered the room.
    Just like that guard before, he, too, turned sickly pale at the sight of Narbareck. And once again, it amused her.

    “Greetings, Your Eminence,” she said, bowing, “I hope I’m not disturbing.”

    As she took a step towards the petrified priest, another figure rose from their armchair.

    “You...”

    The second man was also a Cardinal, albeit he seemed to be much younger than the first one. They both fixed their gazes at Narbareck, their eyes betraying a mixture of fear and disgust. Narbareck just shrugged their questioning stares off and approached the two:

    “Yes, it’s me. I’m sure you’re quite surprised to see me here.”

    The Cardinals said nothing.

    “You’re tense. Relax, I’m just here for a chat.”

    “What do you want you fiend!?” the younger cardinal, a middle aged man with a strong Sicilian accent, asked. He seemed very tense, even more so than his older colleague.

    “Like I said, I just want to talk,” Narbareck said, sneering a little at the priest.


    She crossed the room sluggishly, her scuzzy boots sinking into the thick softness of the red carpet which covered the entirety of the floor, looking around the room as she did so.
    Compared to her dusty, dark, and simple office, this salon was an entirely new world; lavishly furnished, its walls adorned with numerous portraits of Popes and Cardinals, and its ceiling decorated by elaborate plasterwork. In front of a tall window overlooking St. Peter’s Square stood a small coffee table, surrounded by three large and, by the looks of it, incredibly comfy armchairs. On the table there was a large silver plate with a beautiful, ornate porcelain tea set. Next to it was an obligatory plate of biscuits.

    Circling behind the older cardinal, she took the liberty of taking a seat in the unoccupied chair right in front of the window.

    “Hm... this is a great chair, I’ll tell you that.”

    The two cardinals again said nothing. Narbareck then let out a long sigh of resignation. With the priests still in a state of shock, and thus incapacitated for conversation, she set her sights on the coffee table.

    “You won’t mind if I help myself to some tea?”

    Without waiting for the priests’ response she grabbed the tea pot from the table and started filling an empty cup in front of her.

    “Mmm...” she mumbled, sniffing the steam that was rising from the dark brown, nearly black liquid, “Don’t tell me – it’s Darjeeling, right?”

    The cardinals remained silent and tense, but they slowly went back to their armchairs, eying Narbareck suspiciously while she continued to enjoy the strong scent rising from her teacup.

    “I never knew that someone like you would be so knowledgeable about tea,” said the younger of the cardinals with a supercilious sneer as Narbareck reached for the sugar.

    “Yeah, well, I’m full of surprises Your Eminence,” she retorted.

    “I must say, you guys do surprise me a little, “ she continued whilst putting one sugar cube after another into the tea cup,
    “Even during such an emergency, you still cling to your comfort and perks; I mean, someone like me is walking around freely, but you still make sure there’s tea and biscuits during your emergency security meeting. That's dedication.”

    Her sneer made both cardinals’ twitch in annoyance, but they said nothing as Narbareck took a sip of her tea.

    “Mmm, this is really good. I’ve got to say, you people certainly do have taste. But say, I count three cups and three chairs here. And I sincerely doubt that I was meant to be the third person. So, who else was invited to this little party?”

    The cardinals exchanged a worried look but remained silent once again. However, Narbareck soon got an answer to her question when someone knocked on the door and, without waiting for a reply from the inside, entered the room.


    “Sorry I’m late, I...” the man started, but stopped once he saw Narbareck at the table.

    “Hello, Colonel Buchs. How are you doing?”

    ”How...?”

    ”Oh, I had a chat with some of your men down at St. Anne’s Gate, and... let’s say that they were swayed by my feminine charms.”

    The commander of the Swiss Guard stood in the doorway with his mouth half-open in astonishment. This kind of security breach might cost him his career, and he knew that very well. Stares of contempt from the two cardinals made him swallow nervously.

    Narbareck, who was quite enjoying the sight of Vatican’s chief of security squirming, took another sip of tea.

    “Well, I’m afraid there’s only three cups, Colonel, so unfortunately you won’t be able to join us for our little tea party. Perhaps next time?”

    “I...”

    The poor Colonel was at a complete loss of words.

    “Leave, Colonel. We’ll discuss this later,” said the younger cardinal and dismissed the commander with a wave of his hand.

    “Y-yes, Your Eminence,” the man said and quickly left the room.

    “Well, then,” Narbareck continued after a short awkward silence that followed the colonel’s quick departure, “Why don’t you help yourself to the tea? It’s delicious.”

    ”What do you want, Number 1?” the younger cardinal asked impatiently.
    It seemed that his dislike of Narbareck overcame his fear of her, and he was now showing open disdain.

    The title that he used to address her didn’t sit well with Narbareck, though. Creasing her forehead, she leaned back in her armchair, and shot the priest a look that would freeze one’s blood in their veins. It made the Cardinal twitch a little, but he remained firm.

    “Well, Cardinal, I’m here to talk business.”

    ”Business?” said the other cardinal, finally joining in the conversation.

    “Yes, business. And I’m sure you can imagine what kind of business it is.”

    ”Vampires?” said the younger cardinal.

    “Bingo! Sharp-minded as always, Rossi.”

    “That’s ‘Cardinal Rossi’ or ‘Your Eminence’ to you.”

    “Whatever,” Narbareck replied and helped herself to one of the biscuits.
    “These are really good. Anyways, yes, it’s about a vampire. A big one, in fact.”

    “An Ancestor?”

    “Yes. Gransurg Blackmore.”


    The two cardinals exchanged a worried look for a few seconds, the time which Narbareck used to stuff another biscuit into her mouth.

    ”We’ve been keeping an eye on Blackmore for some time now. We even have some people from your department helping us in Prague,” she said, her mouth still full.

    “I don’t remember approving of Executors cooperating with your bunch,” said Cardinal Rossi.

    “We recruited them for this operation secretly. This is a unique operation, aiming at the very top of one of the most powerful Ancestor covens. I’m sure you understand that we couldn’t risk the Ancestors finding out and sabotaging our efforts?”

    ”There is no way the Executors would leak information to the heretics!”

    “Well, you never know. And besides, while Blackmore is a secluded eccentric, you can bet that Ortenrosse has his spies everywhere. And he’d like nothing more than to get leverage over Black Wing.”

    ”If there is a spy in the Church, then I’m afraid your Agency are the prime suspects. Especially your Number 5.”

    “Merem? What about him?”

    “What about...?” said the other cardinal, “He’s an Ancestor, for goodness’ sake! A vampire working for the Holy Church?!”

    ”It’s alright, Cardinal Naro. I assure you that he can be trusted. As long as you keep providing us with trinkets, at least.”

    ”Why, you...”


    “Anyways” Narbareck interrupted him; her patience was quickly running thin, and so she decided to cut this meeting short.
    She leaned forward onto the edge of the chair and continued in cold, business-like tone,

    “I’ve just received information from our intelligence network that warrants immediate and resolute action. And seeing as how we’re against a top-level Ancestor, the Burial Agency will require the assistance of both the Executors and the Assembly of the Eight Sacrament, both in manpower and in resources.”

    “I thought you people preferred operating on your own?” asked Cardinal Naro.

    “We do. However, need I remind you that this is the Lord of the Black Wing we’re talking about; even I will need some assistance to capture an Ancestor as powerful as him. And I can’t count on my other agents right now because they are all scattered throughout Europe, and time is of the essence here. I’m sure you understand the need for inter-agency cooperation in this case.”

    “We can’t just lend you-“ started Cardinal Rossi, but he didn’t get to finish.

    “I’m not asking you; I’m telling you.”

    “Who the hell do you think you are!?” the cardinal exclaimed, springing to his feet.

    While his colleague just sat in silence, the head of the Executors decided that he would have none of Narbareck’s brash attitude.

    I am the Director of the Burial Agency of this Church,” she stated calmly, “And you, Cardinal Rossi, the 120th Cardinal of the Curia, will lend me your men without any further complaints. Is that understood?”

    “I won’t-“

    “Or do you perhaps want me to take this matter to the Pope?” she added with a cruel and twisted smile.

    The effect of her words was instantaneous; the Cardinal suddenly turned pale, and got soaked in cold sweat.

    “The Pope...?”

    ”Yes. He is my superior, after all. Maybe we should take the matter before him?”

    ”That won’t be necessary.”

    ”I think so, too. It’s better not to bother the Holy Father with some petty inter-agency squabbling.”

    “Yes...”

    ”And that way no one needs to know about that young man from the Urbaniana University and you...”

    If Narbareck’s earlier threat to take the matter to the Pope made Cardinal Rossi turn pale, this sentence made his skin transparent. His heart started beating fast and he swallowed nervously.

    “What? What young man from the university?”

    “Oh, you know- your assistant at the faculty of Theology. Handsome lad, lovely blond hair. You’re quite fond of him, aren’t you?.”

    “I-I have no idea what you’re talking about,“ the priest said, trying his best to calm down and peeking at the other cardinal; Naro was eying the 120th Cardinal with growing suspicion and disbelief.

    ”Oh, don’t worry – your secret is safe with me!” Narbareck said, her face adorned with an angelic smile once again,
    “So, about your cooperation...”

    “Yes, yes, the Executors are at your disposal,“ Cardinal Rossi said, falling back into his armchair. He took a sip of tea to try to soothe his nerves, but it didn’t seem to have much effect.

    “And you, Cardinal Naro? Will the Assembly assist us in hunting down this dangerous vampire?”

    ”Yes... of course....” the old priest replied slowly, and helped himself to tea, as well, “We’ll put the sacred relics of the Holy Church at your disposal.”

    ”Excellent,“ Narbareck said and emptied her cup. As she placed it back on the coffee table, her eyes glinted again.
    “There is one other favour I have to ask you, Your Eminences.”

    The barely suppressed excitement in her voice didn’t pass unnoticed by the two cardinals. They lowered their cups back onto the saucers, and stared at her with tense and questioning looks.
    She replied with another grin:

    ”I’ll need your keys for the Hall of Mirrors.”

    Complete silence. The two cardinals nervously avoided eye contact with Narbareck, who used the time to pour herself another cup of tea.
    All she had back at the Burial Agency’s headquarters was cheap fruit tea and some bad coffee, so, as a connoisseur of teas, she wanted to make the most out of this opportunity.
    The priests kept exchanging nervous glances with one another while she slurped on the hot brown liquid.


    Finally, Cardinal Naro gave in:

    ”Very well. I shall provide you with my key. The Assembly is willing to lend you any assistance you require to fight the heretics. I hope our trust will not be taken advantage of.”

    ”Of course not! And you, Rossi; what do you say?”

    ”Yes, we will give you the authorisation, too. I shall arrange it that you receive our key, and security clearance for the complex.”

    ”Very good. Well,” Narbareck said, emptying her cup and placing it gently on the colourful saucer in front of her,
    “as I said, time is of the essence. I will be leaving for Prague tonight. I need you to send your keys to the Agency immediately.”

    ”A-ha.”

    “Cardinal Rossi: I’ll need three of your best Executors, fully armed, and ready by seven o’clock.”

    ”Sure... I’ll find you some good men.”

    While his tone was respectful and seemed sincere, Narbareck narrowed her eyes at the priest; she knew Rossi well, and was certain that he won’t send her the best men available. He wouldn’t want to waste his top Executors on her, and will probably give her some cannon fodder.

    ‘Well, it is just as well’, she thought to herself.

    “Right. And you, Cardinal Naro – I’ll need one of your men from the Assembly. And a relic or a Scripture, too. I’ll let you know which one I’ll need over the phone, once I’ve returned to my office and drawn up my plan of action. Alright?”

    ”Yes, yes, anything you need.”

    ”Good. Well, gentlemen, thank you for your cooperation, “ Narbareck said, rising from her chair,
    “I must say - this was a very enjoyable tea party. I think we should do this more often.”

    ”I think not,” said cardinal Rossi, in a flat voice.

    “Well, at least let me grab another biscuit”, she said, not waiting for his permission and stuffing her pocket with the rest of the biscuits from the plate,
    “These are really delicious.”

    “Right. Well, if that’s all, please be kind enough and leave now. We have to fulfill all these requests of yours now, and it will take some time.”

    “Don’t make it take too much time, though. I want those keys within two hours, and your men to be ready by seven o’clock. It would be most troublesome if I had to come here again because your cooperation was lacking.
    “Oh, and try to organise a Mass for me and your men.”

    ”Are you serious!?” said Cardinal Rossi, looking genuinely shocked, even more so than when Narbareck requested their keys for the Hall of Mirrors.

    “Yes, I’m serious. We can’t go on a dangerous heretic hunt without God’s blessing, surely.”

    “Right... I’ll arrange for a Mass. Now please, go.”

    ”Alright, alright. I won’t disturb you anymore, “ she said, and walked over to the door.

    “Say hi to the Pope for me, will you?”

    “Get out.”

    ”Heh.”

    Satisfied, Narbareck quickly left the salon, leaving the two stupefied Cardinals to their own devices.



    The halls of the Palace seemed to be completely deserted, and she didn’t encounter anyone until she reached St. Anne’s Gate.
    Two familiar faces were still there.

    “Hello, gentlemen!” she greeted the two guards when she got close to them.

    She noticed that both men turned pale and jumpy when they saw her; the older guard must have told the younger one who she was. The expression of terror on the young man’s face brought another grin to Narbareck’s cheeks.

    “Oh, I completely forgot,” she said sweetly to the man, and reached for her right leg.


    Before one could even bat an eye, she took out the small knife that she had hidden in her boot earlier,

    “I should have given this to you earlier.”

    and stabbed the young guard in the neck.


    The blade pierced his left carotid and jugular, and tore asunder his larynx. Within a second blood started gushing out of the vessels; some spilling onto his uniform and staining the indigo with vermillion, and some pouring down his windpipe and obstructing his airways.

    The man reached for his throat in an attempt to stop the bleeding, but Narbareck caught him with her free hand.

    Driving the knife deeper into the man’s neck, now tearing the vessels on the other side of his neck, she stepped closer and whispered into the guard’s ear:

    ”I don’t like being touched.”

    She moved away to savour the expression on the man’s face for a moment – a mixture of terror, despair, and agony, his eyes pleading helplessly – before stepping back and pulling the knife out of his neck.

    A few weak bursts of blood come out of his neck as his heart strained itself to try to pump the precious liquid into the oxygen deprived brain.
    It was for naught, however, and after staring blankly at Narbareck for several seconds, the young guard collapsed onto the pavement. Blood kept pouring out of his wound for a little longer, creating a small red puddle beneath him.

    Breathing out a loud sigh of satisfaction, Narbareck turned to the older guard.

    The man was deathly pale and paralyzed. His mind went blank with terror after witnessing Narbareck kill his colleague in cold blood in front of his eyes; even if had entertained the thought of calling for help or drawing his weapon, the look in Narbareck’s eyes did away with them.

    She smiled angelically, but her eyes were as cold as ice, burning with cold madness.

    “Is there a problem, sir?” she said.

    He couldn’t even muster strength to answer her, and just shook his head weakly.

    “Great. In that case I’ll be on my way.”

    With a smile and a curtsy, she left the shivering guard and the bloody corpse of his colleague behind her. The crowds outside St. Anne’s Gate were sparse and it seemed that no one had noticed what had just happened behind the gates. Which was just as well.

    Whistling something that sounded like an Irish folk tune, Narbareck made her way towards St. Peter’s Square. Drawing another breath of satisfaction as she bathed in the warm summer sun, she smiled at the blue skies above.

    “Today is a good day.”

    ***


    My attempts at being a (fanfic) writer:

    Eclipse - a Saber Alter oneshot
    Requiem for a Race - Altrouge and Ortenrosse hunt the TAs ( 1/3 chapters, discontinued )
    Memories of a King - a 'Saber Origins' story ( 8/? chapters, discontiuned )
    A Small Warmth - a post UBW-Good oneshot, Saber/Rin
    Devil's Thrill - Narbareck hunts down a DAA Blackmore ( 10/10 chapters, finished )
    Boundary of Loneliness - Ryougi Shiki/Alphard Al-Shua oneshot. Lemon-flavoured

  13. #13
    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
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    I can't wait to see where this goes...
    Atlus: Just Make an Eroge Already.


    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED IGLOO 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt S2 IBO


  14. #14
    吸血鬼 Vampire AkaiNeko's Avatar
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    Looooving this so far. The Hall of Mirrors is that one Ancestor they have locked up as a Scripture or something, right? El Nahat, Alien Stomach World?

  15. #15
    I'm bored Polly's Avatar
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    I see that you know your lore well. ; )
    My attempts at being a (fanfic) writer:

    Eclipse - a Saber Alter oneshot
    Requiem for a Race - Altrouge and Ortenrosse hunt the TAs ( 1/3 chapters, discontinued )
    Memories of a King - a 'Saber Origins' story ( 8/? chapters, discontiuned )
    A Small Warmth - a post UBW-Good oneshot, Saber/Rin
    Devil's Thrill - Narbareck hunts down a DAA Blackmore ( 10/10 chapters, finished )
    Boundary of Loneliness - Ryougi Shiki/Alphard Al-Shua oneshot. Lemon-flavoured

  16. #16
    I'm bored Polly's Avatar
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    Part IV



    Several hours after her meeting with the heads of the Executors and the Assembly of the 8th Sacrament, and having already decided on the plan of action, Narbareck found herself in another centre of power of the Holy Church as she continued to gather the pieces needed for the hunt. But this place was a world apart from the stately salons and halls of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.


    It was a vast underground complex, located deep under the Castel Sant’Angelo, right in the heart of Rome. A maze of corridors, rooms, and shafts shaped like a reverse pyramid, sprawling over several acres and seven levels beneath the ground, it was the centre of the Church’s military arm.

    The complex - most of which had been built during the Cold War by the Italian government as shelters and a command centre in case of a nuclear exchange, and then almost immediately bought by the Holy See - comprised offices, training grounds, armouries, an espionage centre, research laboratories, messes, a chapel, underground garages, and various other facilities necessary for running an international force numbering hundreds, if not thousands of agents.

    From here the Church coordinated its spy network, its Knights’ Orders, and elite Executors, ensuring that all emergencies and threats to Christendom by supernatural and demonic forces were dealt with swiftly and effectively. It was a face of the Vatican that no one from the normal world had ever seen< a secret army about whose existence several authors of conspiracy theory novels speculated, but no one save a small circle of privileged individuals within the Church actually knew of.

    Just like the Mage’s Association took great effort in concealing the existence of a thriving community of practitioners of magecraft scattered throughout the world, the Holy Church’s existence was to be kept secret from the public at all costs.



    After entering the complex through one of the plain, Church-owned buildings surrounding the Castel, Narbareck descended down to the seventh level of the complex, over 150 feet beneath the streets of Rome.

    The corridor outside the elevator was bathing in the cold white and blue light of the fluorescent bulbs.
    One other person was also in the corridor, walking in the direction of the elevator. The seventh level was only for the select few who were working on research and development of new anti-vampiric weapons for the Church, so it was no wonder that the hallways were mostly empty.

    Narbareck stepped forward into the hall, a large silver briefcase in hand.
    She had changed her clothes before coming here, and instead of her usual black and white habit, a black leather coat fluttered behind her as she made her way through the hallway and towards the elevator doors on the other end of the corridor. A pair of army boots creaked against the polyester floor, alerting the other man, who had previously been staring intently at a file in his hand, of her presence.

    "Captain."

    He nodded to Narbareck and quickly moved out of her way.
    She didn’t even acknowledge the man’s presence, and just speeded by. The elevator doors on the far end of the corridor were sealed, and required a security code to open. Only two people in the world - numbers 1 and 2 of the Burial Agency - knew the code needed to enter the elevator, which led to the deepest, eight floor of the complex.

    Narbareck quickly typed in the eight-digit code, anxious to get to the lowest level as soon as possible.
    She was brimming with excitement, but managed to conceal it rather well. On the outside, she was cold and collected. Only a fiery glint in her emerald eyes betrayed her true emotions.

    The sealed doors slowly spread open to the loud hiss of pressurised air being forced through the pneumatic mechanism inside them. Narbareck stepped inside the small elevator cabin. After a short ride downwards, the elevator stopped; doors slid open, and Narbareck entered the corridor outside.


    The light was weaker here compared to the previous level. The walls and the floor were bare concrete, but there was no moss. Pale fluorescent bulbs shed eerie light over the narrow hallway. There were no side corridors, nor doors leading to other rooms.
    Save for one.
    At the opposite end of the hall, half-hidden in shadows because the weak light barely reached that far corner of the hallway, was a single door.
    It was a bulky, steel hatch door, not unlike those found on ships and submarines, secured by a rotating lever. To the right of the door, there was another panel for entering authorisation code. And beneath it, a small keyhole.


    Narbareck approached the hatch door and entered the eight digit code again. Once she had done so, a green light next to the keyhole started blinking, to which she took a key from the inner pocket of her coat.
    A plain key at first glance, it bore the insignia of the 120th Cardinal – the commander of the Church’s Executors.

    A turn of the key was followed by loud metallic noise from the doors. Narbareck pulled the lever and opened the hatch.

    Just a few yards behind it was another door, identical to the first one. And again Narbareck entered the code and took out a key from her coat. This key was marked by the mark of the secret Assembly of the Eight Sacrament – the Holy Church’s division responsible for retrieval, research, and managing of sacred relics and Scriptures. The key was turned, the lever pulled, and the second hatch opened. Finally, Narbareck found herself in front of the third door.

    The key for the third door was her own; she kept it with her at all times, except when the Number 2 of the Agency requested its use. Unlike the silvery keys of the 120th Cardinal and the head of the Assembly, the key of the Director of the Burial Agency had no marks or insignia - it was a simple, charcoal black key.

    She repeated the opening procedure for the third time.


    A sudden flood of bright white light made her squint. Nevertheless, she stepped forward into the room behind the third door. After a few seconds her eyes got accustomed to the strong light inside the room, allowing her to see the inside of the hall clearly.


    It was probably the most strange and surreal room imaginable; circular, dozens of yards wide, bathing in the light of over a hundred light bulbs attached to the low ceiling.
    The walls, the floor, and the ceiling were all white, discombobulating anyone who entered the room. But most peculiar of all, the room was a labyrinth; hundreds of mirrors, all about as tall and wide as a person, were arranged throughout the room in form of an intricate maze, with dozens of dead end corridors. The maze was shaped like a spiral, its halls converging towards a single small open space in the centre of the room; this spot was Narbareck’s final destination.

    She managed to navigate her way through the maze splendidly, and reached its focal point in no time. A thick wall of mirrors encircled the central opening, leaving only a few tiny cracks between the neighbouring mirrors, which allowed one to see the area that they enclosed.

    And the sight was a most grotesque one.

    In the very middle of the opening there was a cylindrical water tank, and inside it what looked like the remains of a human body.

    A brain and a spinal cord - almost fully developed - were floating in the liquid inside the tank, connected by bundles of nerves to a collection of organs: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and some of the intestines. While the first traces of the skeleton ( like the vertebrae and the ribs )had already started to grow, there wasn’t any skin, muscles, or eyes.
    The organs were connected, via a myriad of tubes, pipes, and wires, intertwined and forming an intricate web inside the water tank, to numerous medical life-support machines and devices lined up next to the circle of mirrors.

    Narbareck had only seen this bizarre place once before, back when she took over as the leader of the Burial Agency. She remembered the strange feeling of awe she felt back then, for that same feeling overtook her mind and body as she gazed at the grotesque collection of entrails in the middle of this hall of mirrors.


    The remains of El Nahat, one of the Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors.

    This vampire’s unique ability to destroy his enemies no matter how strong, along with his main body - and still retain the ability to regenerate over time as long as his stomach remained - was deemed useful by the Church, which is why his stomach had been ripped out, and transformed into a Holy Scripture in the form of a book.

    Alien Stomach World.

    The Scripture did not possess the exact same amount of destructive firepower as its original owner; in fact, the power of the Scripture was directly proportional to how far El Nahat had managed to regenerate his main body by the point when the Scripture would be activated, which meant that in order to be of any use, the Stomach World could only be used once every few decades.

    The medical devices that supported El Nahat’s body weren’t really necessary, but they did speed the regeneration process up a little.

    Still, even with its downsides, it was the Church’s final weapon against the Dead Apostles, a tool of unfathomable power, and Narbareck was genuinely ecstatic to have finally gotten a chance to use it.

    She entered the central area through a narrow opening between the mirrors, and approached a small desk that stood in front of the water thank that held El Nahat’s body.

    On the desk lay a simple, black book.

    ***
    My attempts at being a (fanfic) writer:

    Eclipse - a Saber Alter oneshot
    Requiem for a Race - Altrouge and Ortenrosse hunt the TAs ( 1/3 chapters, discontinued )
    Memories of a King - a 'Saber Origins' story ( 8/? chapters, discontiuned )
    A Small Warmth - a post UBW-Good oneshot, Saber/Rin
    Devil's Thrill - Narbareck hunts down a DAA Blackmore ( 10/10 chapters, finished )
    Boundary of Loneliness - Ryougi Shiki/Alphard Al-Shua oneshot. Lemon-flavoured

  17. #17
    I'm bored Polly's Avatar
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    Part V



    As the church bells struck half past seven in the evening, a special Mass that was being held in the church of St. Anne in the Vatican came to an end. Only a handful of people attended it; all of them members of Vatican’s secret organisations.
    Four of them – one priest from the Assembly of the 8th Sacrament and three Executors – had exited the church, and two started smoking while waiting for the fifth person, Narbareck, who was still inside.

    Two black cars were parked in the narrow street in front of the church.
    All four men seemed restless, conversing in low voices about the mission for which they had suddenly been handpicked.

    It was incredibly unusual - perhaps even without precedent, at least in the last few decades – for the agents of the Burial Agency to cooperate with members of the other branches of the Holy Church.
    They were all lone wolves, an eccentric and feared lot among the rest of the Church, who preferred dealing with their prey on their own terms. Their actions were sometimes too extreme even for the most ruthless of the Executors. For the Director of the Agency, the most infamous of the bunch, to suddenly organise a hunt like this meant that the Church was dealing with an enemy of the highest order; a particularly powerful Dead Apostle Ancestor.

    The four agents had already received some basic briefing before coming here, but most of the data pertaining to the hunt ahead of them was to be distributed during their flight from Rome to Prague. Thus, all four of them were still half in the dark regarding upcoming mission.


    Just as the two Executors were about to light a second round of cigarettes, Narbareck finally emerged from the Church. One gloved hand was stuffed in the left pocket of her leather coat, while the other was firmly clutching a silver briefcase. Her face was stern, and her tone commanded obedience:

    “Move out! You three, go in the first car. You, Assembly guy; you’re coming with me in the second car. Go.”

    The four agents obeyed immediately; cigarette butts were thrown on the ground, doors slammed as the men entered the cars, and with a loud hum of engines, the group left the Vatican through the Gate of St. Anne.



    After getting bored of watching buildings, palaces, and churches fly by as the car speeded through central Rome, Narbareck turned to her companion, the priest from the Assembly of the 8th Sacrament.

    He seemed to be Asian, but he was rather tall, and brown-haired. Simple black clothes and a golden Pectoral cross on his chest were his attire. He, too, was staring through the window in silence. Narbareck had expected him to take the front seat, by the driver, but he didn’t appear to be at all uncomfortable sitting in the back, next to her. He only seemed bored.

    “So, what’s your name, priest?”

    He slowly turned towards her, with a look that was half-empty and half-surprised at her speaking to him. Still, he replied clearly:

    ”Kirei. Kotomine Kirei.”

    ”Which one of those is your first name?”

    ”Kirei.”

    “A-huh. Sounds Asian.”

    “Japanese.”

    ”There aren’t many Japanese here in the Vatican. You’re the first one I’ve met, actually.”

    ”I’m aware of that.”

    “Your Italian’s good. You look pretty tall for an Asian, though.”

    “My father was Japanese, but my mother was not. He met her during a pilgrimage to Lourdes.”

    ”Quite a lovely story – a man and a woman find each other whilst seeking God,” Narbareck said, with a mocking snigger, “Say, what made you choose a career in the Church?”

    “I never really thought about it. My father is a priest, too, so it seemed only natural.”

    Kirei’s last few words didn’t pass unnoticed for Narbareck, but she decided to focus on something else at the moment:

    ”Wait, your father is a priest? Wow. That’s just... wow. That must have been a pretty awkward confession he had to make after that.”

    “Don’t talk bad about my father.”

    “I wasn’t talking bad about him.”

    ”You were mocking him. I will not allow you to do that. He is the most virtuous man I know.”

    Words that came out of Kirei’s mouth sounded firm and confident, but it did not escape Narbareck’s sharp gaze that the young priest’s eyes were as empty while he was uttering them as they were while he absentmindedly looked through the window earlier.

    The corner of her mouth twitched a bit as she suppressed a grin:

    ”What a good son you are, defending your father’s honour. Then riddle me this, priest – if he’s so virtuous and good, how do you explain and justify the fact that he broke his vows and slept with a woman? It doesn’t sound like something a truly good and virtuous priest would do.”

    Kirei didn’t respond immediately, instead taking a few seconds to think before he answered:

    ”My father’s act wasn’t born out of passion or lust, but true love. There was nothing sinful about it, and even if there was, he already repented for it through confession and penance.”

    “Heh. What a masterful evasion of the problem. Well, you’re good with words, I’ll grant you that. You’d probably make a great preacher. But you haven’t really addressed the issue: how can he be virtuous if he’s broken his vows and the Church’s code? It doesn’t matter whether his act was born out of passion or love – your Church explicitly forbids its priests to have sexual relations and marry. No exceptions.”

    ”His act-“

    “No, don’t give me that shit. There’s no way around it. If you’ve taken up a vow - and one that binds you to God, at that – then surely breaking that vow diminishes one’s virtuousness. Don’t you see a logical contradiction in your claim?”

    ”Even so...”

    ”So you admit that I’m right?”

    ”Even so! That doesn’t mean he’s not a virtuous person. One act cannot overturn a man’s entire character.”

    Narbareck didn’t respond to him for a while, and instead just watched him intently. The young man’s words and tone, and even his facial expression, were those of a man certain and confident in his beliefs. But Narbareck wasn’t really interested in his words or tone. His eyes told her all the truth that she needed to hear.

    “I do believe that you greatly respect your father. And that he really is an incredibly virtuous and pious man.”

    “He is.”

    “But this is not just about your father, isn’t it?”

    ”What do you mean?”

    “Well, you said you became a priest because of your father?”

    ”I.... yes.”

    “That must mean that you greatly admire him and want to be just like him, right?” Narbareck said, grinning at Kirei.

    He looked down, seemingly lost for a few seconds, but then answered.

    ”Yes, I do.”

    “There’s a lack of conviction in your voice, priest.”

    “No there isn’t. I mean it – I do want to be just like my father.”

    ”Heh. I’m sure you do. But... how does breaking one’s vows count into that?”

    “I don’t understand.”

    ”Well, you said that you want to be a perfect priest because you look up to your father, and consider him a perfect priest, no? But how can one be a perfect priest if they’ve broken their vows? Would your father still be a perfect role-model?”

    ”I... I am not a perfect priest...” said Kirei, in an emotionless voice.

    “Oh? Have you broken your vows, too?”

    Kirei said nothing.

    “I see... But still – I don’t think that sleeping with a woman is what’s really troubling you, priest.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I’m saying that I think that you have other problems on your mind.”

    ”What would you know what I think?”

    ”I can tell. It’s my talent.”

    ”Right. I’m afraid I don’t care much for psychics.”

    ”Oh, I’m not a psychic. It’s just a little talent of mine. Say, priest – do you want to know what I think you think?”

    “Well that was a mouthful.”

    ”I think you don’t really care about this whole priesthood business at all.”

    “I beg your pardon?”

    ”I don’t think you really have any passion in your chosen career, Kirei.”


    Narbareck’s twisted grin, her blunt words, and the fact that she said his name for the first time since he introduced himself to her, all made the calm and collected Kirei twitch a little. Still, he had enough presence of mind to remain in control of his emotions and acts:

    ”And what makes you think that?”

    ”Oh, not much. It’s just that you didn’t sound particularly enthusiastic when you said how taking up priesthood was ‘only natural’ to you.”

    ”Plenty of children take up professions after their parents, it’s nothing strange. And they don’t only do it out of a sense of obligation, but out of genuine passion.”

    ”Yes, but not you.”

    “You know nothing about me.”

    ”I think I know enough,” she replied, her eyes now glowing with twisted pleasure.

    “Spare me your insights. I am a man of God. I will do whatever is asked of me for my faith. My faith is everything to me, no matter what you think.”

    ”Spoken like an exemplary priest. I bet your father is proud of you. I bet everyone who knows you thinks you’re a model priest,” she continued after a small chuckle.

    “But say, Kotomine Kirei; do you find pleasure and purpose in your career as a priest?”

    ”Of course I do,” Kirei replied, but the consistent lack of passion in his eyes failed to convince Narbareck. On the contrary; each further answer to her instigations only served to strengthen the impression she was getting from the young priest.

    ”Do you? Somehow I doubt that.”

    “Think whatever you want.”


    By that point Kirei was left positively disturbed by his conversation with Narbareck. She noticed a slight dose of terror and insecurity creeping into his voice and into his emotionless eyes. As if he had been shown a glimpse of a dark abyss.

    Narbareck’s only response was a snicker.

    “Say, Kirei, do you know who I am?”

    ”Of course I do – you’re the leader of the Burial Agency.”

    “And what do you know about me?”

    “That you’re the Church’s most powerful vampire hunter. That you have captured a Dead Apostle Ancestor on your own a year ago, when you took over the agency, even though you were only 16.“

    ”Is that all you know?”

    “Of course not. Everyone knows what happened during your hunt of the Ancestor,” Kirei said, turning a suspicious eye filled with disgust at Narbareck. She, of course, noticed that.

    ”Do I disgust you, Executor?”

    ”Of course you do. You’re a vile murderer. You’re godless. Your actions go against everything the Church teaches.”

    “Indeed. I am monster. I enjoy killing. I do not deny that. What point is there to deny our own nature?” she said.

    Her twisted grin revealed two shiny fangs, and Kirei backed off a little from her. However, that wasn’t because he was intimidated by her appearance. It wasn’t Narbareck’s sick smile that made Kirei’s heart pound stronger, but her words.

    “What point is there...?”

    ”Yes. Why fight against who you are? Why deny your impulses? What good will it do to a person if they keep killing their own nature?”

    ”Self restraint and control of one’s urges are some of the most important teachings of the Catholic Church. That is the path to holiness.”

    ”And are you on that path, priest? Will you ascend to heaven one day?”

    “If God judges me to be worth it. All of us are at his mercy.”

    ”Heh. Kotomine Kirei – if those are your actual, honest thoughts, then you truly are an ideal priest.”


    Kirei fell silent again, staring at the palms of his hands which he rested on his knees. He felt that they got sweaty during his conversation with Narbareck, and it unnerved him.

    “Still – would embracing our own nature be so bad?” Narbareck said after a long silence,
    “Wouldn’t people feel more at peace if they could just be who they are and accept themselves as such, instead of always denying themselves, always killing themselves because the society expects or tells them to do so?”

    ”And what about evil people?”

    ”What about them?”

    ”What you’re saying is all well and good as long as it’s about harmless things, about mostly good people. But what about the likes of...”

    Kirei stopped in the middle of his sentence, and the abrupt pause didn’t fail to make Narbareck giggle on the inside once more.
    She could easily guess what the priest was about to say, but decided to torture him no more; she had already read the man. While others must have thought him a virtuous man to the core, Narbareck knew better. She could read his thoughts and feelings, for his eyes always spoke the truth.
    One just had to look, and Narbareck was good at looking.

    ‘We are birds of a feather, after all, Kotomine Kirei. You just haven’t realised it yet,’ she thought to herself,
    ‘But don’t worry; you can’t run from yourself forever.’


    Just then the car stopped as they finally reached their destination; the Fiumicino Airport.

    Through the thick shower of rain – which Narbareck hadn’t noticed while they were on the way here due to having a rather... engaging conversation with Kotomine Kirei – she could see that the Vatican’s private jet was already waiting for them at the far end of the runway.
    The first car was already there, and she saw the three Executors loading some bags and briefcases from the trunk of their car into the plane.

    Both Narbareck and Kirei opened their car doors at the same time, and were just about to leave the car when Narbareck suddenly stopped and said:

    “Hey, priest!”

    ”Yes, what is it?”

    “I was thinking; you said that one act cannot overturn a man’s entire character, and that doing one bad thing doesn’t mean someone isn’t virtuous.”

    ”Yes; I said that, and I believe that.”

    ”Yes, but... I have a question: if it’s possible to commit a sin and remain a virtuous person, is it possible to always act virtuous, and still be a sinner?”

    “What do you mean?” Kirei said, an ominous darkness falling over his eyes.

    “I’m asking you: if one can do evil, and still be good, can one also always act good, and still be evil?”

    Narbareck’s grin made Kirei’s heart skip a beat. He was certain that the woman in front of him was a demon.

    “Something to think about during our flight,” she said and stepped out into the rain.


    ***
    My attempts at being a (fanfic) writer:

    Eclipse - a Saber Alter oneshot
    Requiem for a Race - Altrouge and Ortenrosse hunt the TAs ( 1/3 chapters, discontinued )
    Memories of a King - a 'Saber Origins' story ( 8/? chapters, discontiuned )
    A Small Warmth - a post UBW-Good oneshot, Saber/Rin
    Devil's Thrill - Narbareck hunts down a DAA Blackmore ( 10/10 chapters, finished )
    Boundary of Loneliness - Ryougi Shiki/Alphard Al-Shua oneshot. Lemon-flavoured

  18. #18
    死徒 Dead Apostle hatori's Avatar
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    Oh Dear......


    I know i'm most certainly going to enjoy this.
    I shall serve thy cause, upon my honour, till thy death.
    -Avenger/Jester. Trinity Series.
    Destined Legacies, shamelessly rewriting it since 2010

    When I go random.


  19. #19
    In Memoriam Kelnish's Avatar
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    How much did you change between contest entry and this?

  20. #20
    I'm bored Polly's Avatar
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    You'll see in the upcoming chapters.

    Well, there's editing and formatting changes, of course. As for the changes/additions of content: I rewrote Blackmore, changed the standoff at the end, and made the epilogue much longer.
    My attempts at being a (fanfic) writer:

    Eclipse - a Saber Alter oneshot
    Requiem for a Race - Altrouge and Ortenrosse hunt the TAs ( 1/3 chapters, discontinued )
    Memories of a King - a 'Saber Origins' story ( 8/? chapters, discontiuned )
    A Small Warmth - a post UBW-Good oneshot, Saber/Rin
    Devil's Thrill - Narbareck hunts down a DAA Blackmore ( 10/10 chapters, finished )
    Boundary of Loneliness - Ryougi Shiki/Alphard Al-Shua oneshot. Lemon-flavoured

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