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Thread: But For A Stone (A Matou Shinji Series AU)

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    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daiki View Post
    Basically a combination of choices one and four. That ought to give the two students a topic to discuss even. (Acceptable write-in Alf?)
    Certainly. There's space for more than one on a tour!
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

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    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    VOTE IS STILL OPEN




    Chapter 13.
    Masquerade

    Fortunately for the poor boy’s sanity, the day passed without further incident, with this last class of the day being a chance to catch up on his—

    “…Matou, you fell asleep again!” Natsumi groused as the chestnut-haired girl shook him awake.

    ‘Huh? Did I…? Oh right.’


    He’d hadn’t fallen asleep in a while, but after everything that had happened this morning, with him waking up from a nightmare, followed by the…incident in Ravenclaw Tower, a heart to heart with Miyuki-senpai, and a full day of Transfiguration, Charms and Defense against the Dark Arts, Shinji didn’t think anyone could realistically blame him for zoning out during a History of Magic lecture.

    Even if, in the wake of the discovery of the Chamber of Secrets, the man had begun talking about more interesting topics such as the stories of the Four Founders, the mysteries and artifacts associated with them, and their stances on Purebloods vs those born of Magbobs (the archaic term for Muggle), as well as how their attitudes later affected wizard relations with other magical races in Britain.

    Races like say…the Goblins, a group that wore their subservience to wizardkind lightly, and every now and again, attempted to throw of the yoke of their oppressors by force of arms, something that tended to go poorly, since wizards had wands and goblins…did not.

    “…sorry, Natsumi,” the Japanese boy said to his companion, somewhat sheepishly. “I guess I didn’t sleep too well last night. Bad dreams.”

    Which was true enough, just…not at all the entire picture.

    “Mm, I’m sorry, Matou-kun,” the brunette murmured, as she helped him pack up his books. “Will you be going to the party night?”

    Shinji smiled, a bit lopsidedly.

    “I suppose. I did get something to wear just for the occasion.”

    Or rather, Miyuki-senpai had made him something to wear, and it would be almost criminal if he were to let her efforts go to waste.

    “Mm. I look forward to seeing it,” Natsumi chirped. “Perhaps you will see what I’m wearing as well.”

    “Perhaps?” Shinji echoed, somewhat confused. “Won’t we be walking over to the party from the Hufflepuff Commons together?”

    “Sorry, but I have something I need to take of before that,” the girl told him, her smile just a bit impish. “Besides, girls take longer to get ready than boys do, and I wouldn’t want you to have to wait. Use the time to take a nap instead. You seem like you could use the sleep.”

    “Well…that’s true,” the boy admitted, with a sigh. “I’ll see you there, then?”

    But his friend’s reply was not quite so straightforward.

    “We’ll see about that.”




    As it turned out, Natsumi’s words were on point. He did feel much more alive and ready to take on the world after a nap – though to be sure, the hot shower, and the wondrous texture of the new formalwear that Miyuki-senpai had made for him just that morning helped. Why, wearing the new outfit, he almost didn’t recognize himself.

    He cut a rather dashing figure, if he did say so himself.

    Despite that, however, few paid him much attention as he walked over to the room set aside for the party, mostly because the majority of his classmates were enjoying the Halloween Feast in the Great Hall and thus not around to see him.

    ‘Bit of a pity. Would have been nice to show off.’


    On arriving at the door, an older student he didn’t recognize, dressed in rust-red robes, checked his name against a list, and handed him a black domino mask, instructing him to tap it against his outermost garment, and then put it on. The boy did so, finding that it shifted into a shimmering silver that matched his robes and hat, which, when he put it on fit him perfectly, as if it had been made for him.

    He was waved inside after that, and, emboldened by the anonymity of the mask, placed a bit of an extra swagger in his step.

    Inside…

    ‘It’s like a different world…’


    Where Hogwarts was a place of cold stone, the room Slughorn had chosen for the party was quite different in nature, with rich wooden panels covering the walls and floor, flickering candles floating in the air above them, a roaring fireplace with a very comfortable set of couches nearby, several large tables laden with all manner of exotic foods, many, many masked figures, and—

    ‘What is that.’


    —was that a body?!

    “I see. O-our final g-guest has arrived,” a familiar voice intoned, as a door opened on the side of the room, with none other than Quirinus Quirrell emerging, also dressed in rust-red robes. “Come, all of you, to me.”

    The crowd inside shuffled over to the Defense Professor, wondering what exactly was going on here – and why the man was there.

    “W-what’s going on, Professor?” a raven-haired girl about his height asked. “Where’s Professor Slughorn?”

    “Ah…that,” the man replied, making a complicated expression as he glanced over at the body on the floor in the corner of the room. He led them over towards it, with gasps and mutters rising as the students noted the presence of the corpse – the corpse of somewhat corpulent man, with his face half melted and his lips, teeth and eyes a solid black.

    'What on earth...?'


    "P-p-professor Slughorn is d-dead. He was p-poisoned," the Defense Professor stuttered, giving off an impression completely at odds with the man's usually confident manner. "P-poisoned by s-someone in this v-very room! The door has been barred. No one will enter or leave until the killer is caught. As Defense Professor, I-I am serving as C-Chief Inspector for the investigation. And so, I make you an offer. Help us. Assist our inve...investigation by identifying the true culprit, and one of you will obtain a prize beyond imagination. Professor Slughorn's last creation – a vial of Felix Felicis."

    The man shook his head slowly, as he regarded each and every one of the masked figures in the room.

    "B-but do not waste Law Enforcement's time. If you falsely accuse another, you will be...f-forfeit your chance at glory. But if you choose rightly..." he held up a vial of what looked like shimmering liquid gold, upon which all eyes came to rest. "B-be careful. T-the p-poisoner will do whatever it takes to keep from being caught. And if you are careless, you m-may become the n-next victim." The man smiled for only a moment, before shaking his head. “Good luck.”

    With that, he dismissed them, leaving the students to their own devices – some obviously moving away from the body, some looking at it with morbid curiosity, and some not sure what to think.

    ‘What…I thought this was going to be a party.’


    But instead someone was dead? What was this?

    Shinji joined some of the others in wandering away from the corpse, finding it uncomfortable to look at it for too long.

    ‘What’s going on in this castle?’
    he asked himself, clenching his fist – and finding that his fingers were wrapped around something odd.

    When he made to look, he saw that there was a piece of paper crumpled in his hand, which he unfolded, finding the word “Alchemist” written across it in the neat hand, along with a series of numbers, with a mysterious vial filled with a clear, odorless liquid, hidden in its groove.

    He turned, putting his back between the vial and the room, as he touched it, bringing it up to his eyes. The moment his skin made contact with the glass, a single word appeared, lingering just long enough for the boy to sure it wasn’t his imagination before vanishing once more.

    That word was Antidote.

    ‘Huh. That’s kind of weird,’
    Shinji thought, deciding to pocket the vial for later. Perhaps someone was helping him out? Or Quirrell had supplied students with some kind of general antidote in case someone had tampered with the food or drink? ‘I can’t worry about that too much though. As it is, I have no chance of solving this on my own, so I may as well see if I can find Natsumi or Miyuki-senpai.’

    With any luck, they’d be able to figure out the identity of the killer together.

    ‘But…well…everyone is wearing a mask…’


    And with so many students swirling around in rather formal garments of cuts and colors he’d not seen the like of before, Shinji thought he might have a bit of trouble finding them, especially if they weren’t standing together.

    ‘After all, I don’t know what they’re wearing. Oh well, I’ll have to prioritize…I guess, Miyuki-senpai first?’


    As he made his way through the room, he took note of a few people who he thought might possibly be Miyuki-senpai, though he wasn’t sure if any of them was her.

    After all, the older Hufflepuff had mentioned that human transfiguration was quite possible, if difficult if one was not an advanced practitioner, and failing that, there were always things like the Aging potion, a most powerful elixir which could cause the drinker to temporarily become older, or Polyjuice, which could let a person become someone else for a time.

    ‘Hm, of the four…’


    One was a girl with a copper mask that concealed everything but her mouth and her long raven hair, wearing in a form-fitting dress of silver and midnight blue. She definitely had Miyuki’s poise and sense of serene grace, though she was also rather more developed than he remembered senpai being – and he was ashamed to admit it, but he had paid rather close attention to what she looked like during their sessions in the greenhouse.

    Another was a girl slightly taller than Miyuki-senpai, wearing full mask, cloak, and dress of black cloth that hid her hair and figure completely, though her voice – which he heard in passing – sounded a bit familiar.

    One was a raven-haired girl talking with one with reddish blonde hair, though she seemed a bit short to be Miyuki, and her posture wasn’t quite right.

    ‘No, rather than not right, it definitely feels like someone else. Even from behind, whoever it is looks nervous…’


    Miyuki-senpai never really seemed nervous – not to him, anyway, so that couldn’t be here.

    And then there was a girl with flowing black hair, wearing a blue domino mask, and something like a qi pao, speaking animatedly with a certain dusky-skinned girl with purple hair in a dress of pure white, and a bone white mask that looked almost like a skullto match.

    ‘Well, Sokaris at least is instantly recognizable.’


    After all, no one had the Ravenclaw’s sort of severe beauty, sense of unflappability, or hair quite that luxurious – or that color, really.

    'Well, if there's a mystery to be solved, I can't imagine anyone who might be better suited at solving it than Sokaris. Unless she's the murderer of course, in which none of us would ever solve it – though hm, how
    would I be able to tell if she were sabotaging things?'

    He wouldn’t.

    Speaking of which…since this was a masquerade, what was the etiquette here? Was he expected to give his real name? Or...perhaps...he could pretend to be someone else?

    ‘You know, an alias might be safer. Especially if there’s a killer about.’


    But what would make a good alias?

    ‘Sherlock Holmes?’


    No. That was just asking for attention – and for someone to conveniently get rid of him.

    ‘James Moriarty?’


    No. Everyone would assume he was a criminal mastermind, leading to accusations being thrown his way, which he didn’t really want to deal with, even if he wasn’t the killer. Investigations had a life of their own, and if he got bogged down under enough public pressure, who knew what might happen – especially since he knew his emotional instability had a thaumaturgical cause.

    ‘I can’t – I won’t – let
    that break loose. Not here.’

    Perhaps he could call himself Ishmael, after the narrator of Moby Dick, which he had been discussing with Nigel?

    ‘I think…I’ll go with Kōichi Zenigata.’


    A somewhat obscure name, to be sure, though it made sense in the situation, given that Zenigata was the archrival of the notorious criminal Arsene Lupin III – at least in the manga he remembered fondly from his childhood. He didn’t think anyone else at Hogwarts was named Zenigata either, so he imagined he’d be able to fool people easily enough.

    ‘Who to approach, then…?’


    There was Sokaris, of course, but…

    ‘Huh? Is that Natsumi?’


    His eyes caught sight of a twin-tailed brunette kneeling by the corpse of Professor Slughorn, about his size, dressed in a simple black dress that looked almost like a kimono, albeit with simple copper lines running along it, and matching half-mask, with what was visible of her skin painted a stark white, save for her lips, which were a deep cherry red.

    ‘She looks like a
    maiko.An apprentice geisha, in other words. Very – very, eye-catching, and not something he’d expect of someone who wasn’t Japanese. Much bolder than he’d imagined her being, as well. ‘And her expression…’

    Natsumi – if that was here – seemed as though she’d seen something odd, and Shinji figured that perhaps he’d come along and keep her out of trouble.

    Thus resolved, the boy decided to approach her, gambling on the notion that it might be his friend, making his way slowly through the crowd until he reached the area around the body, an area nearly devoid of partygoers.

    The girl rose at the sound of approaching footsteps and turned towards him, the color of her eyes hidden by the shadows of the mask.

    "Good evening," the boy greeted, tipping his hat to her with a flourish as he bowed low, in the manner of a courtier of old.

    "And to you," the girl replied at she curtsied. "Do I know you?"

    "Should you not?" Shinji asked with exaggerated shock. "After all, the name of Kōichi Zenigata should be known even in this distant land, should it not, miss...?"

    "Lockhart," the brunette with the painted face supplied after a moment. "Aeris Lockhart."

    She extended her hand to him, and Shinji, emboldened by the mask he wore and remembering every western fantasy novel he'd ever read, took her hand and kissed it.

    "Charmed," he said with a roguish grin, wanting to see – if it was Natsumi – her blush a bit.

    But the brunette only smiled slightly and withdrew her hand.

    “Likewise,” she answered simply enough. “Though I suppose you wish to know what I have seen, monsieur, when I was standing over the Professor’s remains? I can't imagine why else you would force yourself to wander to this dreary corner, with so little to recommend it."

    “Ah, but it can hardly be so dreary when it has you and your lovely smile, something any boy would long to see,” the boy quipped, with the other smirking for a moment.

    "Perhaps not so dreary then,” she said playfully, “though you were curious, yes?"

    "...admittedly."

    "If you must know, I was just thinking that such an obvious poison, one that blackens the teeth and lips, was strange for a killer to use, when there are so many ways one could kill a man without leaving a trace," the brunette remarked, her words causing Shinji to take a step back in surprise.

    “Come again?”

    “It is almost like someone was trying to hide some other cause of death, what that left the eyes black and the face half-melted. Poison is a convenient explanation, yes, but…there should be more signs. Blood, perhaps. Or some sign of thrashing about. Not clothing that seems so…unruffled.”

    "Do you usually spend much time thinking about how to get away with killing a man, Miss Lockhart?" the boy inquired, as these weren’t words he’d ever expected out of Natsumi’s mouth. ‘Did I…did I pick the wrong person?’

    "No more than most girls," she replied coyly. "Does that surprise you, Mister Zenigata?"

    "...of course not," Shinji answered after a beat. "After all, I certainly know how dangerous a beautiful woman can be."

    "That would make you the exception to the rule," the girl remarked with a trace of a smile. "Shall we go and speak with some others? On the off chance that this isn't a test to make us distrust one another, and there truly is a murderer about?"

    "A splendid idea," the boy conceded, definitely thinking that it would be safer to have someone else with him than just this…dangerous, sultry girl, who was like…like a Lupin to his Zenigata, a Moriarty to his Holmes –

    '...wait, I’m not already thinking that Miss Lockhart is the criminal here, am I? I mean, she
    is suspicious, but...that would be too obvious, wouldn't it? Hmm...'

    "Something on your mind?" the half-masked brunette in question inquired with a lazy half-smile, the curve of which was accentuated in crimson against her white-painted visage.

    "No. Not really," Shinji replied mildly, thinking he'd try to play things cool.

    "Except that you think I am the killer, don't you, after my comments earlier?"

    "Err...no, not at all!" the boy from the east lied, finding it unnerving how easily the girl was reading him, despite his domino mask. He glanced about the room again for someone he was sure he knew, and finding the purple-haired figure of Sokaris, breathed a sigh of relief. "Anyway, I think we should approach those two next.” He gestured to where the dusky-skinned Ravenclaw stood, still speaking with her raven-haired companion. “Safety in numbers, right?"

    "Unless one of them is the killer, right?" 'Miss Lockhart' – for he had no better name to call her at this point – shot back, with Shinji wincing as he acknowledged that she had a point. Still, if she was the killer, Sokaris would no doubt figure it out, wouldn’t she? "Still, we may as well. One of them may also have a clue we need, eh, Mister Zenigata?”

    “Yes, indeed,” Shinji readily agreed.

    “Good. Now, you will be a gentleman and escort me properly, yes?" the girl asked of him, looking at him – no, at his arm – expectantly.

    "Ah, y-yes. Of course," Shinji managed, offering her the crook of his arm, with the girl drawing close to him and resting one of her delicate hands on his upper arm, her touch making his heart beat fiercely.

    A part of him wondered if Miyuki-senpai was watching what he was doing from somewhere in the room and laughing at him for not being able to pick her out of the crowd or was perhaps disappointed at how he'd fallen into this other girl's pace so easily.

    But perhaps he should have wondered if he was drawing too much attention, given that as the duo began walking towards the pair they were interested in speaking with, Shinji noted a number of people glance in their direction – including the dusky-skinned Ravenclaw who was his current quarry, who not only looked over in their direction, but seemed to give him a slight nod, as bidding him to approach.

    '...no way. She can't tell it’s me in these robes, can she?'
    He'd never worn their like before, after all, since senpai had just made them for him this afternoon. 'Unless...my hair?'

    Hair so black it seemed blue in any sort of light, after all, was admittedly somewhat unnatural, though not quite as unusual as her own.

    Not that the boy could spare much time or brain power to muse upon these things further, as he and his companion crossed the distance, until they were standing before the Ravenclaw and her companion. Shinji waited for ‘Miss Lockhart’ to release him – only…she never did, with the girl who had to be Sokaris eyeing where the brunette's hand was resting in the crook of his elbow, though whatever expression she wore was hidden behind her bone-white mask.

    "Good evening," Shinji began, looking first at Sokaris and then at the girl beside her.

    "And good evening to you," the raven-haired girl next to Sokaris said hesitantly, as her eyes took in his form and visage. She didn't seem like Miyuki-senpai, though her voice was familiar for some reason. "Do I know you?"

    "Should you not? After all, I am Kōichi Zenigata, the great Alchemist," the boy from the east joked, his lips pulling up into something like a smirk as he recalled the title on the card he'd been given. And since he was masked, it wasn’t as if anyone knew who—

    "An Alchemist?" Sokaris inquired softly, though her tone wasn’t as much mild as calm – like the calm that warned of an oncoming storm. "No, I think not. An Inspector, perhaps."

    "Oho!" Shinji's eyes widened behind his mask as the most unlikely person he could think of seemed to understand his reference. 'How did she...?' he thought, wondering where in the world the Ravenclaw might have come across a copy of Lupin III, before shrugging in his mind. Sokaris was full of mysteries, after all. Finding that she apparently knew enough about a certain infamous manga series to recognize the alias he was using for the night was admittedly a bit of a shock, but... 'Then again, maybe I'm overthinking it. Maybe she's just saying I can't possibly be an alchemist.' “What makes you so sure, Miss...?"

    "...Atlasia," Sokaris supplied after a moment, her tone very dry indeed. "Eltnam Atlasia."

    At the sound of the name that issued from the girl’s lips, Shinji staggered, the wind driven from him as if he’d been struck bodily.

    The only reason he didn’t collapse on the spot – literally floored – due to Sokaris’ declaration was that Miss Lockhart had kept him steady.

    ‘Atlasia?! As in the title given to the Director of Atlas Academy, one of the Three Great Branches of the Association?!’


    That name…how did she know it? It couldn’t be that…that…

    'No. There's no way that could be true,'
    the boy reasoned. 'It's a masquerade party, where no one says who they really are. Maybe, since she knows a bit of Alchemy, she came across the name and thought it would be nice to pretend to be someone related to that side of the world tonight? Yes, that must be it.'

    The alternative – that a Director-level member of Atlas might be standing before him now, was both absurd and terrifying, given just what monsters Directors were said to be.

    "Are you alright, Inspector?" Miss Lockhart asked from beside him, her tone both playful and worried at once. "I rather thought someone of your position should be more...resilient to the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. That an Inspector shouldn’t be living in fear of some name."

    "Oh, I'm..." Shinji laughed nervously. "I'm not afraid."

    "You nearly fell over just now," the brunette pointed out.

    "An…an utter coincidence, I assure you," the boy told his companion, as she glanced away, clearly disbelieving. "I simply ah...swooned?"

    "Oh? Swooned is it?” the girl inquired, her voice soft – and her face somewhat closer to his than propriety might normally allow. “Is Miss Atlasia that much prettier than I, that you did not do the same around me?"

    "What?!" Shinji blurted out, what was visible of his face going completely red as he took a step back. "Yes. I mean, no, I mean..." the boy rambled, trying in vain to fix his mistakes, though he was becoming increasingly certain that he wouldn’t be able to.

    Miss Lockhart, if that was truly her name, laughed prettily at how flustered the boy had become over a few words.

    "I am only teasing you, Inspector," the brunette murmured, with Shinji feeling pleased somehow, as her fingers all but caressed his upper arm. "That is your title, yes? Since reacted so when Miss Atlasia addressed you by it."

    "...it's true, though I am not of the organization as the Chief Inspector," the boy quipped, glancing over at the man, who was now speaking with a chestnut haired girl wearing an outfit all in red, with a rapier at her waist. 'Well, that must be Lady Gainsborough, at least...but who is everyone else?' Speaking of which...

    "Ah, where are my manners? Miss Atlasia, my companion, Miss Aeris Lockhart," Shinji supplied somewhat tardily, with the girl beside him releasing his elbow momentarily to curtsy. “Miss Lockhart, the talented Miss Atlasia.”

    "Lockhart? As in the adventurer?" the raven-haired girl spoke up, perking up as Shinji’s companion was introduced. "I do love his books! His adventures are always so grand, so different from anything in our ordinary lives. I thought about starting a book club, but even in Ravenclaw, that's a bit..."

    "Ravenclaw is it?" the brunette inquired mildly. "And which particular name might you hold among the Eagles who prize wisdom?"
    "Oh – that's right," the raven-haired girl murmured, as if realizing she hadn't yet introduced herself. "I'm sorry. My name is Ch—uh, Cassandra. Cassandra...Chen."

    '...Cassandra Chen?'
    Shinji repeated in his head, somewhat skeptical of the claim. After all, he knew no Cassandras, and he was pretty sure she'd begun to say... 'Oh. It's Cho Chang. The one who said those things about Miyuki-senpai...and who senpai doesn't really like.' He barely managed to hide a grimace, as he hoped – he really, really hoped – that the older girl wouldn't hold this conversation against him if she saw him and recognized who he was speaking to. ‘No. It should be ok. Only Sokaris is really recognizable in this group.'

    "A pleasure, Miss Chen," Shinji commented, playing to his image of a gentleman by taking her hand –/ which she hadn't quite extended – and kissing it lightly. It wouldn't do for him to let on that he knew her identity, after all, and it was a bit cute how she blushed so prettily, as if this sort of greeting wasn’t something that happened to her often. "I suppose you and Miss Atlasia were wondering why we came over to you tonight?"

    "Because you believe one of us can assist you in solving tonight's...mystery?" Sokaris inquired, causing the boy to deflate, as she'd cut through the entire monologue he'd had planned.

    "...well, yes," the boy grumbled, not at all annoyed at losing his chance to grandstand a bit. "I don't suppose you've seen anything...strange this evening? Perhaps something out of place in the room, or from talking with others?"

    "Only that the Chief Inspector is using his actual name, on a night when so many are borrowing identities not their own," Sokaris commented indifferently. "And that not all masks are so easily donned as the one you wear. But that is all I will offer at this time."

    Frankly Shinji didn't think that was much help, since of course an investigator would have to use his proper name and title, as he would have no authority otherwise. Names had power, after all, even in the non-magical sense.

    "...and you, Miss Chen?"

    "To be honest, I...wasn't actually paying attention," the girl who knew to be Cho Chang admitted. "I was simply...caught up in speaking with Miss Atlasia about her...associate, who is not with us this evening."

    Was that a blush he saw on the girl’s cheeks? It was.

    Which just made him curious about who this…associate of Sokaris’ was, if he could bring a blush to an upperclassman’s face.

    "Ah, I see...well, thank you for that," Shinji said with a bow and a flourish. "Now, if you will excuse me, ladies, there are other people to question before the night is through, I think." He glanced over at his companion. "Unless you had more to ask, Miss Lockhart?"

    "No. Let's move on," the half-masked girl with the painted face replied with something like a smile upon her lips. "Who next?"

    “Well…”

    Looking about, Shinji tried to identify someone who might be interesting to talk to - someone who might have information about the case. Not that he expected anyone to simply give up information for nothing, but with how things stood right now, he didn't think he was any closer to finding out who the culprit was.

    'I'd thought for sure that Sokaris would have something useful to tell me,'
    the boy from the east mused silently. 'But she only started talking about masks that were hard to take off...'

    He didn't see how that would help him, since he already knew the 'killer' was somewhere in the room, where everyone was going out of their way to hide who they were – even him.

    'Should I keep looking for Miyuki-senpai?'
    he wondered. He was certain that she would have some interesting way to look at the situation which would prove rather insightful, but... 'Then again, I don't really know who senpai is here.'

    He'd thought that maybe she would have been in conversation with Sokaris, but thinking back on it, she had said he would only see her in the event that he recognized her – which meant she probably wasn’t going to go out of her way to approach him for whatever reason. And that she probably wouldn’t be giving him any hints. 'And on a night like tonight, when everyone wears different clothes, different names, different faces, that makes things difficult...'

    He didn't know what senpai was wearing, what she would be acting like, what name she might use. For all he knew she'd taken Aging Potion and was the older, shapelier raven-haired girl with a copper mask he saw moving about the room, was the one who had hidden her face and figure completely or was someone else entirely.

    ‘I just don’t know.’


    What he did know is that he could make mistakes, and on a night where there were people emboldened by the masks they wore, and with it, the assumption that no one could recognize them, such mistakes could be dangerous. Still, the temptation of anonymity was a powerful drug.

    How much freedom that would offer, if one could go anywhere, do anything, without having to worry about the consequences or the reactions of others with prying eyes?

    Quite a bit.

    Perhaps enough that one might speak to someone who one wouldn’t normally deign to.

    'Though that doesn’t explain why Cho Chang is only talking to Sokaris on a night like this,
    ' he thought to himself. Weren't they in the same house? Wouldn't it be easy for her to just approach Sokaris in the Common Room? Something didn't quite add up there...and now that he thought about it, the whole situation was a little suspicious.

    And if he wanted someone to help him pick out suspicious characters, he needed someone with a good eye for detail, like...

    'Aha!'

    Like the rapier-armed brunette with a half-mask of black and striking green eyes, wearing an elaborate gown of different shades of red, who just finished talking with the Chief Inspector, who he was almost certain was Amber Noel of Gryffindor.

    "How about her?" Shinji suggested to the erstwhile Miss Lockhart, as he nodded in the girl in red's direction. "She was just talking to Quirrell. Perhaps she has some clue to the case that the rest of us don't."

    "An acceptable suggestion," his companion noted with some amusement. “Though, are you only choosing to speak with other girls on purpose, Inspector? One might think you’d give some more consideration to the girl on your arm,” she added coyly, a sentence that made Shinji turn all sorts of interesting colors, though he didn’t respond.

    Together, they set off to intercept the rapier-wearing girl who had been making her way towards the punch bowl, only to pause and turn towards them as they approached.

    "Good evening," the girl in red said by way of greeting. "Do I know you?"

    "Kōichi Zenigata, at your service," Shinji replied gallantly, greeting her with a sweeping bow. He glanced to his side, noting that 'Miss Lockhart' was still attached to his arm. "And this is Miss Aeris Lockhart...my companion for the evening. 'And thorn in my side,' he wanted to say, but didn't, as he wasn't stupid. Having one brunette out for his blood was bad enough.

    Best for his sanity that he didn’t add another.

    "I see," the brunette noted coolly, as she looked between them. "So, you found a partner, Inspector. I hope for your sake that she is better at stopping crimes than your namesake."

    "Namesake, huh?" Shinji asked, eyes widening as he found himself surprised once more. After all, why would a young British noblewoman know of his alias. Or the character who had inspired it. “Do you...recognize it, perhaps?"

    "Enough to know that you chose poorly,” came the reply. “If you are anything like your namesake, in spite of your brilliance, your quarry will escape ninety-nine times out of a hundred."

    'She
    does know it!’ Shinji realized, his eyes widening in shock. ‘B-but how?'

    It wasn't as if manga or Japanese animation were exactly popular outside of the country. At least not yet, unless…

    ‘Maybe Natsumi shared hers with Amber?’


    Such a thing was unlikely, but it was the only explanation he could think of.

    "Well, it appears you have me at a disadvantage," Shinji conceded, tipping his hat to her. "As you seem to know of me, but I know nothing of you, Miss...no, Lady...?"

    "Skywalker," the figure in red supplied with a hint of amusement, as the delicate fingers of her hand came to rest on the hilt of her blade. "Katrielle Skywalker."

    'Skywalker? Why does that sound so familiar?'
    he mused, though he couldn't come up with anything off the top of his head. Still, it wasn’t as if was important, so he shrugged mentally.

    "A pleasure indeed, Lady Skywalker," Shinji murmured, taking her hand and kissing it as well, noting idly that the girl before him seemed to flush when his lips touched her skin, with perhaps a bit of trembling. 'Odd...Miss Lockhart didn't react like this.' Wouldn't a daughter of the nobility be used to this? Or had he remembered the etiquette improperly? After all, if he tried this on Tohsaka, he was pretty sure that she would simply punch him, and since he wasn't some sort of anime protagonist who was immune to female violence, he thought he should probably avoid that. "It is good to see someone else trying to unravel the details of tonight's mystery. You are tempted by the prize, I take it?"

    “Admittedly so, inspector, though the prize itself is odd," the brunette in red commented, retracting her hand and resting her chin on it thoughtfully. "After all, why would the Chief Inspector have the right to give out one of Professor Slughorn's last creations? Under normal circumstances, wouldn't that be entered into evidence, maybe as a possible motive for the murder? Something the murderer desired, but could not escape with?"

    "A very good point," Miss Lockhart remarked. "And hardly the only inconsistency tonight."

    "Look...I'm sure it doesn't mean anything," Shinji protested. "There has to be some kind of reward for assisting the investigation, right? And since Professor Quirrell is leading the investigation, why not a potion that Professor Slughorn wouldn’t miss? It's not as if the dead need brews.”

    "Even so, I find it suspicious," Lady Skywalker replied, her mask – her green-eyed mask, now that he looked more closely – hiding her expression. "Do you not, Miss Lockhart?"

    "Among other things, yes."

    "Speaking of the...Chief Inspector," Shinji interjected, with both of the girls turning to look at him curiously. "You spoke to him just now, yes?"

    "Yes? And what of it?"

    "Did he have anything interesting to say?” the boy wondered. “Any new clues or suggestions that might help us identify who the criminal is?"

    "Only that the fact that a master potioneer had actually been poisoned successfully, suggested that the killer was a potioneer of no small ability – say, an alchemist," the girl in red supplied, with Shinji unable to keep from stiffening as he remembered the note in his pocket – on which had been scrawled a single word.

    A word he’d called himself earlier tonight.

    Alchemist.


    'Wait...did I…do something wrong?'

    Still, that was just a note. No one would take that seriously, since even if he was searched, no one would find any of the poison on him, just a vial of the...

    '...of the antidote.'


    The boy's eyes widened as his insides grew cold from the magnitude of the revelation. He’d been played. Set up. Whoever had slipped him the vial hadn’t been well-meaning at all, since why – and how – would someone have an antidote on hand for an unknown poison...unless they were the one who had brewed the self-same poison?

    ‘If I have it…and no one else does, does that mean…’


    "Is something wrong, Monsieur Zenigata?" Miss Lockhart inquired solicitously, overlaying his now cold hands with hers. "You seem like you've come face to face with something...unpleasant. Is my presence truly that distasteful?" She leaned close, her next words murmured quietly into his ear. "Or is there something you’re hiding?

    Shinji flinched at the query, almost leaping out of his skin as he pulled away from the dangerous girl by his side.

    "W-what?! N-n-no, that's not it at all," the boy babbled, his eyes wide as his worst fears were realized. "You've got it all wrong. I'm not...I mean, you trust me, right?"

    "Trust a boy behind a mask, who clearly is hiding something?" Lady Skywalker inquired, moving to cut off the boy's line of retreat. "Do I seem that foolish to you, Inspector?"

    "N-no, not at all," Shinji denied, finding himself boxed in. How had things become like this? Only a short time ago, he'd thought that maybe with help, he could claim the prize. Yet now...

    'If they find the antidote on me, I'm done for. It isn’t proof, but it’s damming all the same. And since I have that note in my pocket…’


    Quirrell had told Lady Skywalker and who knows who else that the killer was probably a great potioneer, or an alchemist, and he had paraphernalia on him suggesting that he might be one, whatever Sokaris might say to the contrary.

    "You know, it’s funny," Miss Lockhart observed, her tone almost mischievous. "Your mouth says one thing, but your body says something else entirely."

    "I..."

    There had to be some way out of this. Something Quirrell had said that would clear his name, or at least throw off suspicion on someone else – anyone else.

    "Was there…was there anything else the Chief Inspector say-said?" Shinji asked, his voice unnaturally high as he attempted to distract them, with the other two eyeing him strangely. "I mean, we should know the whole picture before we make any accusations, right?"

    He was sweating now, unable to hide his nervousness.

    ‘Though maybe I never did hide it. Maybe it was obvious from the beginning.’


    "Oh? And what is it that you think Professor Quirrell might have said?" Lady Skywalker asked.

    Thinking quickly, the hapless boy seized on the first thing to come to mind. Namely that while yes, the way the evidence was presented made him look rather – no, pretty much painted him as being the murderer of poor Professor Slughorn, there had to be something else that might clear his name – or at least get people looking away enough that he might dump somewhere or plant it on someone else.

    "He might have said something about the unusual circumstances that led to us all being called here tonight," Shinji suggested, glancing hither and fro nervously. "I mean, with so many people - and an event obviously planned - couldn't someone have tampered with the scene?"

    At this point, he was speculating wildly, without any solid grounding, but he needed to throw off the suspicions of his companions if he wanted a chance to win that vial of Felix Felicis and not get thrown into Azkaban, which he’d heard was a very unpleasant place.

    To be fair, anywhere guarded by creatures known as Dementors probably was.

    “Tampered with the scene?” Miss Lockhart repeated, as she circled him. "An interesting suggestion, even if you are only making it to try and deflect suspicion from yourself."

    Lady Skywalker was not moving, though he noted out of the corner of her eye that her fingers were toying with the hilt of her rapier.

    "Tell us then, how might the scene have been tampered with?" the red-clad brunette inquired solicitously.

    "Uh..." Shinji thought, trying to recall what he'd seen of the body in the short time he’d been near it. "Maybe the body was moved."

    "Which would prove what, exactly?"

    "It wouldn't prove anything," Shinji admitted, "but it might be enough to obscure the real cause of death. I mean, and I'm not saying this is what happened, what if the murder took place somewhere else, by some other method?" He thought about the blackness around the corpse's mouth, the half-melted face, and how poison in such a situation was such a…convenient excuse. "What if, to throw off suspicion on him or herself, the real killer just used something harmless to dye the man's mouth black, after doing something to his face with a curse, just so at first glance, one would assume the cause was poisoning?" His eyes shone with a maddened light. "What if...what if it was the Defense Professor? Or say...a house elf? In the kitchen? With a candlestick?!"

    'Miss Lockhart' blinked.

    "What."

    It was as if the boy she had spent the evening with had just said something so stupid she couldn't wrap her head around the words coming out of his mouth.

    "I mean...it-it could have happened that way? Right?" the boy continued, desperate for an outcome other than the one he feared. "I mean, you believe me, right, Lady Skywalker?"

    "Should I repeat my point about believing a boy wearing a mask, who clearly has something to hide?" the rapier-armed Lady Skywalker replied with a mild sense of amusement, something like a smirk playing over her lips. "And how foolish that would be?"

    "Heh...would I really lie to two such beautiful young women?" the boy offered lamely, hoping that at the very least, she'd laugh, and maybe he would be out of immediate danger. "Especially ones who are so fiendishly clever?"

    "Oh? Resorting to flattery now, are we, Mister Zenigata?" 'Miss Lockhart' commented, having recovered from her earlier shock. "As for your point, it is well known that a man will say anything to earn the favor of beautiful young women, as you put it. Though, does this mean you think we're both beautiful? Perhaps more than Miss Sokaris?"

    Shinji felt his face blazing as hot as a miniature sun as the two brunettes looked closely at him, as if expecting him to answer such an embarrassing question.

    "I...uh...."

    "Oh? You don't, then?" Miss Lockhart questioned, her tone wry. "How d—"

    "No! I mean, yes, I mean...you're beautiful, yes. You're both beautiful!" the boy exclaimed, feeling his entire body flush an interesting shade of red as he blurted this out.

    In the wake of his declaration, silence hung in the air between the three, with them only looking at one another.

    "Do you hear that, Lady Skywalker?" the half-masked brunette with the painted face inquired of the rapier-armed girl. "He thinks you're beautiful."

    "And perhaps I would even believe it if he said it when he could see my face," the rapier-wielder replied. She paused for a moment, before adding, "And when he isn’t hiding behind a mask.”

    “But, Lady Skywalker, isn’t he always hiding behind a mask?”

    “Sometimes less than others,” the rapier-wielding brunette commented wryly, as she glanced at him.

    Shinji's blush only deepened as her words made him wonder what 'Lady Skywalker' knew about him – and of course, if indeed she was Amber Noel. If not, what might her face look like when not hidden by her green-eyed mask? Would she indeed be a great beauty? Or at least cute?

    Before tonight, before donning the domino mask he’d been handed at the door, he'd never really told someone she was beautiful before. The closest he'd come was telling Miyuki-senpai that she was precious to him – anything more than that would have seemed like he was trying to confess or something absurd like that.

    'And it would be absurd, as if I was Icarus flying too close to the sun...'


    Miyuki-senpai was kind, and beautiful and wise and...

    'She is so many things that I could never be, and I could never really deserve.'


    Not as broken as he was.

    "...you look sad, Mister Zenigata, as if you arrived at a most troubling realization," 'Miss Lockhart' leaned over and murmured his ear, her voice soft enough that only he could hear it, her breath hot against his skin. “Care to share your revelation?”

    "I was just thinking of what a cruel world this was," the boy remarked with a bitter smile, giving voice to a thought he’d often had before. "And how even outside this room, we all wear masks, only ever showing people the pieces of ourselves we're not afraid of. The parts we're not ashamed of. We show people what we would like them to believe about ourselves, and hope if they see through our lies to the ugly truth, they won’t run screaming into the night.”

    “Mister Zenigata, are you ashamed of what you are?" Miss Lockhart asked, her fingers brushing the sensitive skin of his wrist and the back of his hand very…pleasantly, making the boy shiver.

    "Well...I'm not happy about it," Shinji admitted with a heavy sigh. It really was odd how freeing it was to wear a physical mask, to dispense with one set of falsehoods even as one donned another. With no one knowing who he was, talking a complete strange he would surely never see again…he didn’t feel as if he had to hide much about who he was, even if… "I guess I just don't like thinking about myself all that much. I do it a lot, but...even I..." He closed his eyes. "It's hard, you know?"

    "That much, I know well," Miss Lockhart told him, leaning forwards so her weight rested against him, her chest against his back, bit closer than propriety would allow. "There are many things even I am not happy about. But such is the lot of one who, despite their deepest wishes, and no matter how hard they work, can never become the heir of their family."

    "Mm," Shinji agreed.

    Yes. That was it exactly. This Miss Lockhart understood. She really…

    ‘Wait…what?!’


    The boy jerked away as his mind fully processed the last sentence his companion had said, his skin almost as pale as Miss Lockhart’s – and without the aid of any sort of whitening makeup.

    Unprepared for the boy to move so quickly, the girl in question let out a most undignified squawk as she nearly stumbled. She reached out, her hand seeking to use his sleeve to steady herself, but he was already out of reach.

    "You..." Those words. Words which described his situation completely. How? Why? He backed away as much as he could, until he found himself backed against a corner, his expression becoming something twisted and haunted, his breaths coming faster and faster. Those words. How did she know? How did 'Miss Lockhart' know? 'What is this? No one should know. No one. Except senpai and Sokaris, and this can't be senpai, right? It - it...’

    "It was him, Professor!" a voice declared, with the crowd parting with a murmur to reveal the girl who he knew to be Cho Chang pointing at him. "He’s the one who called himself an alchemist, as if he was boasting about it!”

    Shinji's stomach sank into a pit as he felt despair begin to overtake him.

    ‘No…’


    He hadn’t had a chance to dispose of the vial.

    If Quirrell came over and searched him, the professor would no doubt find it, and with it, any chance he had of escaping this situation would vanish.

    ‘This is bad. This is really, really bad…’


    Any minute now, the Defense Professor would come over, and Matou Shinji would be exposed as the murderer before the eyes of the world, with the boy losing his best chance to begin to repay senpai – or maybe Sokaris – with a good Christmas gift, which was the least he could do after everything they had done for him.

    ‘Well…and my freedom…’


    It figured, really.

    The machinations of Quirinus Quirrell had been instrumental in keeping him – and Phelan and Ernie – out of trouble, which he had been absurdly grateful for at the time. But it seemed that even that had been borrowed time, and now the world had come to set right the natural order of things.

    ‘How ironic, that the one to condemn me will be the man who saved me.’


    Quirinus Quirrell, the man who was even now, advancing upon him, looking for all the world like a blood-soaked specter in his rust-red robes, his wand outstretched to cover any movements Shinji might make.

    At this rate, the man would be on him in seconds.

    For a moment – for the briefest possible moment, Shinji considered running – his mind conjuring up the image of slipping past Quirrell, getting past the door – somehow, and getting to safety. But…then what? Even if the man didn’t stun him or worse for trying to flee from the law, even if he managed to dispose of the vial, he’d have already damned himself in the eyes of everyone.

    And given the gaps in his memory and his lack of an alibi before the party (since “I was taking a nap, and no, no one saw me” would not be accepted in any court – anywhere), it was highly likely he would be locked up for a murder he…was pretty sure he hadn’t committed.

    Thus, the mad thought perished as quickly as it had come into this world, replaced with a distant, almost feverish hope.

    'If I stay, try to argue my case, maybe I can get myself out of this. Somehow.'


    Yes. That might work. Even if Professor Quirrell had a way of twisting words so that the man never really lost an argument, finding all the holes and inconsistencies in one’s logic.

    Well, maybe if one of the two girls who had been with him up to now were to help...

    'Huh? Where'd they go?'
    the boy wondered, his thoughts coming to a halt as he realized both Miss Lockhart and Lady Skywalker had had essentially disappeared, slipping away while the attention of the crowd was focused on him. 'No. They can’t…do they think I'm guilty too?'

    It was true that he’d been acting very suspiciously, that he did have something to hide. But even so, he’d hoped…

    And then the figure of Quirinus Quirrell was standing before him, with the man regarding him with too-pale eyes.

    "M-mister...Zenigata, is it?" the red-robed man questioned, his wand pointed at the middle of Shinji’s chest. "You have heard the words of your accuser. You stand accused of the murder of Horace Slughorn this evening. How do you plead?"

    "Not...not guilty!" the boy stammered, feeling his legs grow weak under the pressure of that intense stare.

    "Not...not guilty?" the Professor repeated slowly, his voice just loud enough for everyone to hear – making Shinji wonder in some unused portion of his mind if the man had cast something on his throat. "So, you admit to the crime of which you have been accused? Boasted of, even, by Miss Chen’s recollection."

    "No! I...not guilty!" Shinji corrected hastily, wincing at how despair had taken root in his heart, how his fear was so powerful in this moment. He had to…he had to defend himself. To convince them he didn’t do it. Somehow. "You…you have to believe me. I’m innocent!"

    "...innocent, are you?" Quirrell echoed, with Shinji noting that the man’s wand still pointed unwaveringly at his chest. "Then I'm sure you won't mind if we discuss the facts of the situation?"

    "No. Of course. Whatever you want sir. Anything's fine," the boy said quickly, hoping that quick – enthusiastic – cooperation might be helpful here. "Why am I even being accused, anyway? Because I said I was an Alchemist, on an evening where no one is playing their true role?"

    "Because given the circumstances of Professor Slughorn's death via poisoning, only an Alchemist, or someone else similarly skilled, could have done the deed," the man explained coolly. “And you, being young and foolish, boasted of this skill, as if to say ‘I did it.’”

    "B-but that’s all – being an alchemist isn’t a crime! You can’t just say I’m guilty because of that,” Shinji reasoned, his mind racing furiously. “It’s all…just a coincidence. You have no proof! And I have no motive!"

    “No proof, you say?” the man echoed, reaching out his hand – as the glass vial – the damning piece of evidence Shinji had hoped to dispose of, came flying out of the boy’s pockets and into the man’s grasp. “Then what is this, Mister Zenigata?” the man inquired, his voice stern and hard as he dropped his stuttering and insecure act. "You carry a strange glass vial on your person. One that claims to be an...'antidote.' How very curious."

    "S-so what?" Shinji asked defiantly. "It's just a vial. Anyone could have a potions vial. Th-that's hardly a crime, is it!"

    "Perhaps not, but why would they bring such a thing to what they believed was a Halloween party?" Quirrell pressed, with Shinji feeling options close off all around him. "Particularly one that was an...antidote of all things.” The man paused to let his words sink in, before continuing. “Tell me, Mister Zenigata, do you worry much about your classmates? Do you fear they will poison you?"

    "...no, but..."

    "And did you have reason to suspect that you would have a need for antidote this evening?”

    "No, but—"

    "Then why do you have such a vial?" the Chief Inspector demanded. "You can't answer that, can you, Mister Zenigata? Because you know that there is no good reason to have such a thing with you in this situation. Thus, given the facts at hand, I must sadly conclude that that you are—"

    "OBJECTION!" a voice cried out, with heads turning at the sound to find a red-clad figure standing on a hastily-cleared table, her outstretched finger pointing directly at the red-robed Inspector, whose face was a tableau of surprise, as he had not expected anyone to interrupt him so in the middle of his summation.

    "Lady...Skywalker, was it?" the man questioned, once he'd composed himself again. "On what grounds do you object?"

    "On the grounds that you are badgering the witness – that your evidence is fruit of a poisonous vine, and that the events of this entire evening have been an utter farce!" the rapier-armed brunette declared, her green-eyed mask staring imperiously down at the crowd, as people began to mutter.

    "A farce?" the Chief Inspector repeated gravely. "Miss Skywalker, a man – a well-respected Professor who once taught me, in fact – lies dead, and this…Mister Zenigata is the chief suspect for the murder, given his statements this evening, his suspicious manner, and the vial discovered on his person. It may not be enough for a conviction – yet – but it is enough to call for the Aurors, so kindly remove yourself from the table."

    But the Professor’s order was refused.

    "I will not," the other declared imperiously, even as she maintained her pose. "Because Mister Zenigata is no murderer at all." Shinji felt his spirits – his hope that maybe he wouldn’t be arrested this evening, seen as a criminal by the entire school – rise as the girl continued to speak. "He was framed."

    "F-framed?" Quirrell echoed incredulously. "Of all the absurd...the vial he was holding proves otherwise!"

    The man held the object in question up to the crowd, as if to show off the damning piece of evidence that he had discovered on the boy – evidence which connected Matou Shinji to the crime.

    “It’s funny you should bring up the vial,” the other spoke, opening her hand – as the vial left from the grasp of the Chief Inspector, flying towards hers – only reverse direction in mid-air as the Defense Professor raised his hand, flying back towards him—

    Whirr!


    —before whizzing over his head entirely, into the waiting hand of a shapely raven-haired girl wearing a form-fitting dress of silver and blue and a bronze mask engraved with azure lines.

    "I don’t know what it is that you seek to accomplish, Miss Skywalker, but it is a grave offense to interfere with a criminal investigation – especially by assaulting the lead investigator," the man said stiffly, before glancing behind him to note the identity of the other culprit. "As you should know full well, Miss Yuki."

    'Miss...Yuki?'
    Shinji repeated inside his head. 'Wait that's...don't tell me senpai used such an obvious alias.'

    Hiding in plain sight, while dressed in colors of Ravenclaw no less.

    "Indeed, though that is only true if you are truly investigating a crime,” Miss Yuki commented, glancing down at the vial in her hands. "Otherwise it is grounds only for a detention at most, provided no harm was done.”

    “And, what you are claiming that no crime was committed?” Quirrell demanded. “After seeing the corpse with your own eyes? After now – holding the vial in your hands and examining it for yourself? Perhaps you believe the boy’s guilt to be in question. So be it – believe as you will. But to deny the evidence of your senses—”

    “A curious thing, this…evidence,” Miss Yuki noted, her voice pitched just so to cut through the man’s bluster. “Especially with how conveniently you were able to discover it. That someone should be carrying around such a vial at all, even if they were the murderer, nearly strains belief. After all, the deed was already done, and assuming this killer was assured of their success, why would the killer keep the antidote on him or her, instead of disposing of it, along with the poison?"

    “Yes, it is a rather egregious error, but one that might be explained by his youth and inexperience,” the Professor countered. “Simply because he is a skilled potioneer does not mean that he has much in the way of common sense!”

    “A possibility, true, though if I may ask, how did you conclude he had a vial on him?”

    “What…?”

    “The summoning charm works with specific objects, Professor,” Miss Yuki explained for the benefit of the crowd. “You cannot simply say ‘Accio Evidence’ and expect it to fly from a suspect’s robes into your waiting hands. You must picture something in particular – like this vial. So how were you so certain that he had such a vial?”

    “I did not know, I suspected,” the man declared, his eyes hard. “One develops a certain instinct after investigating many cases and witnessing the depredations of killers and dark wizards. They tend to make the same mistakes over and over. They are…predictable. So, what exactly are you suggesting, Miss Yuki?"

    "What I am suggesting is that Miss Skywalker is correct – this boy has been framed for a crime he did not commit," the raven-haired girl declared, as if daring someone to challenge her assertion.

    Naturally, Quirrell was only too happy to do so.

    "And yet from how he was acting – from how he acts now, this is not so," the Chief Inspector replied fearlessly, his smile a cold one indeed. "He knows his guilt. Look how he trembles. Look how he cannot meet my eye. And you try to defend him by saying that he was framed? This entire line of thinking is both spurious and preposterous. You cannot argue against material evidence with these half-cast speculations Miss Yuki, when a much easier explanation for why he was carrying the vial was that he possessed very little common sense. A great failing of many wizards, I find.”

    "Perhaps so," a third voice broke in – that of Miss Lockhart, who had gotten up another table, her arms crossed. "Though there is another plausible explanation, Professor. One that even you may find compelling.”

    Quirrell's irritated expression was a sight to behold at that moment.

    "This should be amusing," the man said coolly. "Say your piece, if you will, since it seems evident you three will not let me proceed until you do."

    "Let me begin by laying out the problems with the situation as you have framed it," 'Miss Lockhart' spoke up, playing more for the crowd than for anyone else. "First – you allege that Professor Slughorn was killed by poisoning, yet the disfiguration of the face and body suggests another mode of death, if in fact, it is a body at all.”

    "Second," Miss Yuki commented from her position by the door. "None of us came to this room until the time of the party, with Mister Zenigata being the last to arrive. If he truly confronted Professor Slughorn before any of us had come, only to later return to the scene of the crime – to enjoy the panic and confusion of his handiwork – then wouldn’t he have changed? Surely what he is wearing now would not be the outfit the murder was committed in, as it would be difficult to avoid attention if there was anyone about at all.” She paused, letting her point sink in. “In fact, the only person who was here prior to the rest of us – the one who claimed to have discovered the corpse, in fact – was you, Professor.”

    "Which brings me to my last and final point," Lady Skywalker announced, drawing her rapier and pointing it at the Defense Professor with a dramatic flourish – a purely theatrical gesture, since he was all the way across the room. "You are not Quirinus Quirrell!"

    The room went utterly still at this declaration, with people looking uneasily between the three girls who had spoken up and the Chief Inspector, who seemed bemused by their assertions.

    "Miss Skywalker, even if I were prepared to overlook your outrageous claim that I am not who I say I am, I cannot overlook your transgression of drawing a weapon on an official performing an investigation—" he began, only for the girl to cut him off.

    "Quirinus Quirrell was the Muggles Studies Professor at Hogwarts for several years," Lady Skywalker continued impetuously, as if the man had not spoken at all. "Because of that, he should be familiar with trends among Muggles, should he not? Especially pop culture? In fact, I remember him being familiar with that very franchise after I passed my challenge, saying something about how I was capable, but not a Jedi. And yet – you did not show any strong reaction to my choice of name."

    "...what does your choice of alias have anything to do with this, Miss Skywalker?" Quirrell inquired coolly. "Perhaps I did recognize it, but simply did not show a reaction out of respect for the masquerade."

    "Then, Chief Inspector, which popular Muggle franchise is the name Skywalker from?" the girl in red countered. "Can you answer that for me?"

    "Miss…Skywalker, this entire line of questioning..."

    "Then for the record, Professor, are you refusing to answer?" the rapier-wielding brunette clarified, with some in the crowd muttering at this. "Is it because you won’t, or because you can’t?”

    “Of all the – of course I can answer a question as simple as that!” the man sputtered.

    “Then by all means, do so, Professor,” she asked with a gimlet-eyed smile. “In fact, I’ll even make it easy on you, since I’m sure the events of the evening – finding a colleague murdered like this – must have been very trying. Star Trek or Doctor Who? From which one is my name drawn?"

    A few moments passed while the man thought, before sighing and giving his response.

    "Doctor Who," the man answered finally. Noting that Lady Skywalker seemed to relax, nodding to herself at that, Quirrell smiled slightly. "There? Are you satisfied?"

    "I am," the red-clad brunette stated, drawing herself up regally, her expression a smile of utter triumph as she sheathed her rapier. "I am because that was a trick question. The true answer is Star Wars, as Professor Quirrell – the real Professor Quirrell – knows full well!”

    “I – this –“

    “I thought it was odd how on an evening like this, with all of us wearing masks that concealed our faces, you seemed so relaxed after a crime had allegedly been committed. That you allowed the party to continue, even as you posed to us a challenge, offered a reward, as if this murder was – a game. But what convinced me that this entire affair has been a farce was the vial that you oh-so-conveniently discovered on Mister Zenigata – the vial you knew was there because you planted it on him to begin with."

    "...this has gone beyond absurd now, Miss Skywalker. You cannot—"

    “The face of the matter is that there was no murder tonight,” the girl in red declared. “Yes, there was something like a body in the corner of the room, but under closer inspection, the cause of death did not hold up.”

    “Oh really?”

    "Yes, really. Inspector, would you like to hear my theory on both who you really are and what really happened tonight?" the brunette questioned. "Because at this point, I know the answer to both."

    "...do as you will, Miss Skywalker," the red-robed inspector allowed. “But remember that actions have consequences.”

    "I will, because the fact of the matter is that there was no murder tonight," Lady Skywalker declared. "Oh, you were somewhat convincing, preparing a body and ‘evidence’ to support this piece of dinner theatre, but neither hold up to close inspection.”

    "Faces are always difficult to transfigure properly,” Miss Yuki pointed out helpfully. "A basic human form, not so difficult, but a face – much more difficult, which is why those who seek to disguise themselves as others tend to use a potion such as, oh…polyjuice. So, you didn’t bother trying to get the face quite right. You made a mannequin shaped somewhat like Professor Slughorn, dressed him in the Professor’s clothes, and disfigured the face, to hide the fact that it was merely a lazily done transfiguration. Say, for example, how the eyes were only black spheres of glass and not really made of flesh..."

    "Then, there was the matter of the setup of the evening," Lady Skywalker supplied. "This was to be Professor Slughorn's Halloween party, yes? With the good Professor known for his love of...talking to students and seeing their thoughts, as well as the high standards he holds his students to if they seek to earn a reward from him? It is most curious that even though Professor Slughorn was allegedly deceased, murdered in this very room, that what was presented to us could be seen as…as a challenge to any clever enough to look past the surface, and delve into the facts."

    "Which brings us to why you are apparently not wearing a mask – yet allow everyone else to do so,” Miss Lockhart inquired. "On the face of it, it seemed logical to assume that you wore no mask because you were not a guest and did not know the rules of the masquerade. But then, in the event of a murder, why would you not demand that we all reveal our identities – that we all unmask, instead of simply observing us in our crafted personas? The truth is that you are wearing a mask, though yours was chosen to win our trust and obedience, and that yours is not something of fabric or metal or ceramic, but flesh and magic – as befits a Master Potioneer using Polyjuice to borrow someone else's form."

    "The truth is that Professor Slughorn was here all along, watching us. Mingling with us. Seeing how we reacted and how we thought when a prize was at stake – and when we were under the impression that a murder had truly occurred," the red-clad girl announced, her green-eyed mask looking down upon the Professor as she smirked. "Leaving a trail of inconsistencies to test us – to see if anyone would discern the truth. What gave it all away was the fact that he offered to us a prize that wasn't Galleons or something that the school or the State might provide – but a vial of Felix Felicis. In the event that a murder had occurred, no professor – no competent investigator – would simply give a murder victim's possessions to someone else, especially when it might be needed as evidence. Perhaps as a motive.” She laughed then, a sound clear and free and unrestrained, which made the long-forgotten Shinji’s heart race at the joy of it. “Once I worked that out, and then confirmed you were not Quirinus Quirrell, it seemed obvious who you had to had to be," she summed up. "The allegedly murdered Professor Horace Slughorn, Potions Master of Hogwarts, the man responsible for this entire evening's events – who wished to see if we would be tricked, or if we would earn a treat!"

    The Professor blinked as he listened to the allegations of the three girls who had so blatantly defied him – thrice defied him, in fact, going so far as to interrupt him, draw a weapon on him, assault him with magic.

    What they said, what they claimed…

    "You have a most wild imagination, and a bolder will than I would have expected, Ladies Skywalker and Lockhart," he allowed after a few moments. "I would say the same holds for you, Miss Yuki, save that I am quite familiar with your character.”

    The man chuckled, turning to face them with wand in hand.

    “Claiming these things, defying my authority, and banding together to make yourself be heard – staging a bit of theatre on such a solemn occasion,” the Professor noted. “Reckless courage, cunning, baiting people into traps…it is enough to make an old man weep the state of today’s youth. Except for one thing." Without a word, he summoned the vial of antidote from the hand of Miss Yuki, downing it before anyone could act. Moments later, the form of Quirinus Quirrell melted away, revealing a hale and hearty Professor Slughorn in robes that were now somewhat…overstuffed. "The fact that you are correct. And in spite of my protests and attempts to divert you, my arguments and rebuttals, you arrived at the truth, seeing through the inconsistencies of the case, even using Muggle culture and your knowledge of Professor Quirrell to reveal that I could not be who I claimed. Congratulations."

    The very much alive Potions Master of Hogwarts nodded his head in acknowledgement as he withdrew a single vial full of golden liquid from his robes.

    “This was indeed all a setup, as you say. A bit of a farce – but is this not what is expected on Halloween, when nothing is as it seems?” Professor Slughorn asked genially, speaking to the crowd. “Since Albus goes out of his way to make the Halloween Feast grander with each year, I need to have some kind of spectacle, and Quirinus was kind enough to suggest this idea to me.” He smiled, very slightly. “I had no idea how it was going to turn out, as my parties have always been rather more informal. Less...dramatic and contrived. I wasn't convinced anyone would figure out the twist, and thought that at the evening’s conclusion, I might reveal my little deception, while untransfiguring the so-called body back into the many fine samples of Honeydukes chocolate I used to make it for you to have something to take home with you. Yet…you and your colleagues surprised me, Miss Skywalker. Well done indeed."

    He held out the vial, gesturing for the young woman in red to descend from her perch.

    "As promised, one vial of Felix Felicis - a day's worth, though you are free to split it up as you wish," the man said grandly. "As I imagine you and your co-conspirators surely will! Come forward, Miss Skywalker. Claim your prize."

    The red-clad figure did just that, hopping down from the table perch on the table and making her way to the front of the room where Slughorn stood.

    He bowed, Miss Skywalker curtsied, and as they straightened, the man handed her the precious potion, one of the most valuable items at Hogwarts.

    "Your prize for the evening. Use it well. As you are using the Mopsus you won from continually exceeding my expectations throughout the semester," he commented genially, a twinkle in his eye. "And as one of your colleagues, I suspect, is using that and Aging Potion."

    The girl did not respond with words, just a nod and a secretive smile.

    "My compliments to you all, Miss Skywalker. Perhaps the next time I set a challenge, it will take you somewhat longer, hm?" the man admitted with a wry smile, before turning to the crowd - some of which was quite shocked at what had transpired, some of which was baffled, some of which were genuinely impressed, and some of which were annoyed with themselves that they hadn’t seen through all of this and claimed the prize. "And now that our game has come to an end - please, enjoy the evening and the company of one another. There is food and drink aplenty, and much time left this Halloween night."

    With that, he dismissed them, though not before – as promised, untransfiguring the body into a massive pile of premium quality Honeydukes chocolates, which he levitated and placed on the table Lady Skywalker had vacated.

    In the wake of everything, Matou Shinji, still slumped against a wall, was forgotten, reeling from the revelations and shocks that had transpired.

    There had been no murder. There had been no murder. He hadn’t even questioned that there had been, so eager to claim the prize dangled before him that he’d fallen into a trap.

    'No. That’s not it. I
    was the trap.’

    Because by the terms Slughorn had given, accusing the wrong person would lead to the accuser being disqualified from winning the prize, and if Slughorn – who had been posing as Quirrell – had gotten the entire room to agree on his guilt, then no one would have been eligible for it.

    ‘…yes, I can see where Professor Quirrell might have played a hand in crafting this scenario.’


    Which made him wonder just what the man was up to this Halloween, and whether the Defense Professor was up to something nefarious, perhaps involving the Philosopher’s Stone.

    ‘…I doubt it. It would be too obvious if he just happened to be missing, wouldn’t it?’


    Now that he was no longer in danger of being arrested and sent to prison – well, technically he’d never really been in danger, but it had felt that way – he supposed he might as well try and take Slughorn's advice about enjoying the evening, since he’d had more than enough shocks for one night.

    ‘But what to do?’


    The boy was still pondering that when Miss Lockhart seemed to materialize at his side.

    “Since our mutual acquaintance seems to be swarmed by envious well-wishers, would you care to join me?” the twin-tailed girl asked, her red lips so very striking against her white-painted face as she held out a hand – and Shinji took it, using it to help him get to his feet.

    “What did you have in mind?” He asked, somewhat suspiciously.

    “I thought we could sit by the fire and partake of the fine food and drink, Inspector,” the girl suggested. “Or perhaps join the group on the couch speaking of odd things like Bags of Holding and Heward’s Handy Haversacks?”

    “Either sounds fine, so long as I don’t get accused of murder again tonight.”

    “Mm, yes. Once an evening is enough for that, isn’t it?”

    “Quite.”




    What will Shinji do at the Gala Reception following the Order of Merlin award ceremony, now that he's met the Minister? (choose one)
    [ ] Take the opportunity to chat with Amber, his guest
    [ ] Speak with Professor Quirrell
    [ ] Chat with Gilderoy Lockhart, the noted adventurer and author, who as the most recent inductee into the Order, inducted Quirrell
    [ ] As for a tour of the Ministry
    [ ] (write-in)

    What gift suggestions do you all have?

    Feel free to suggest whatever you wish, within reason, as I may include them in the story.
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; February 15th, 2018 at 08:37 AM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  3. #583
    [x] Ask for a tour of the Ministry - Taking Amber with him.

    Gifts are hard when Shinji does not have access to near bottomless well of money, or access to market that others don't have such as Mahoutokoro. We could find something there for Miyuki or Natsumi fairly easily that might have meaning to them.

    We should continue the idea of turning Natsumi into Sokaris-lite build by giving her an intro book on Arithmancy. Cause she likes numbers, and would likely love this subject. We can jump start her on the subject. We can even use this as a excuse to go talk to Nigel to grab his recommendation for a book.

    Granted a book is not going to wow Natsumi by any means so that probably would not do for Shinji's big gift to her. Maybe a promise to no longer sleep in Histr....zzzzz. Never mind, just thinking about the class is likely to put him to sleep.

    Just a thought but maybe we should have Shinji push for taking a group photo of this louse collection of friends that he has. Given that Phelen and Ernie almost died, maybe they should have a record of what they were like when they were young so they can look back at laugh (and cry depending how things go). Its not like everyone will be around forever, so we can make this into a tradition of sorts.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; February 14th, 2018 at 10:34 PM.

  4. #584
    [x] Ask for a tour of the Ministry - Taking Amber with him.

    Back to the hard work of harem-building? Well... let's not resist the inevitable.

  5. #585
    I'm going with the assumption that Shinji has secured a decent amount of funds by the time he shops for gifts here.

    If we have access to Mahoutokoro through, say, shipments;

    Eastern Herbology and Arithmancy / Numerology books for Miyuki and Natsumi. Brewing tools and local potions ingredients for Ernie. A book about Mahoutokoro's history and customs for Selina. A local miniature tree for Neville.

    If we don't;

    Give the Half-Prince textbook to Miyuki* (it's better to get rid of it before Hermione finds how we 'cheat' and it would likely help Senpai a bit). Get an Arithmancy tome / Heir to the Empire (first out of the Thrawn Trilogy) for Natsumi. Potions stuff again for Ernie. Find some obscure book about Magical Britain's history (could ask Quirrell since he's sure to know alternative takes about that) for Selina. Find a plant with interesting properties for Neville.

    *We can always ask to consult the textbook during gardening sessions / private consultations.

    Sokaris is a tough one because she would want something practical, yet I don't think Shinji has access to anything worth her time (since he already shared the journal with her), except Basilisk stuff. Perhaps offer her a one time favor in the future, if you really want to make a gamble.

    I think the following ones are rather straightforward and shouldn't prove too hard to obtain.

    Protective gear / First-Care kit for Phelan - A deck of Tarot Marseillais / Divination Book for Amber. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler for Nigel.

    Something for Slughorn (who loves gifts) and Quirrell (since he helped Shinji, regardless of his motivations) would be acceptable.

    And, finally, Bulbadox Powder for Hermione. She can then use her own cure for boils to fix herself. x)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Skull Leader View Post
    Just a thought but maybe we should have Shinji push for taking a group photo of this louse collection of friends that he has. Given that Phelen and Ernie almost died, maybe they should have a record of what they were like when they were young so they can look back at laugh (and cry depending how things go). Its not like everyone will be around forever, so we can make this into a tradition of sorts.
    I like this.
    Last edited by Daiki; February 15th, 2018 at 02:42 AM.

  6. #586
    Quote Originally Posted by Daiki View Post
    Give the Half-Prince textbook to Miyuki*
    No, I don't think we should give that book away. Its not Shinji like to give up advantage that he has. I just don't see him doing that, even for his beloved sempai. He would gladly share it with her freely as it is. Just because he is in danger of Hermione finding out about is no reason to stop. Shinji could not give a rat's ass on what Hermione thinks. The use of that book is technically the same as using any book for research. Its not like Shinji is just copying from it but actually doing the legwork on why its works.

    Miyuki might be worthy of access to the book but giving the book up...it does not have that special importance for it to be a meaningful gift to Miyuki. I think we can do better.

    The Thrawn Book I was already tossing around my head so I approve of that. We really should not seen anything to Hermione...if it can be traced back to Shinji that would be bad. Just ignore her for now. I am also not sure that Selina rates a book yet, Shinji has not really interacted with her enough to add her to his shopping list. That might change by Christmas. He does not work with her as of yet unlike the other people on your list.

    Amber and Phelen gift ideas should be bigger since they were voted in priory.

    Honestly I think for Neville all we really need Shinji to do is go talk with Sprout to get Neville a small area in one of the green houses. I think that would please him enough to know that someone did that for him. After that in the future we might consider adding plants for his collection. Actually now that I think about it getting a plant from Mahoutokoro might not be a bad idea for Miyuki.

    Sokaris has the journel, I think we are good to leave her off the list unless something good pops in someone mind for her.

    We already gave a Order of Merlin to Quirrell, he does not need much more than that. Quirrell does not seem like someone for small gifts. I think he would consider it a useless jester.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; February 15th, 2018 at 02:36 AM.

  7. #587
    The idea is to have the book in more secure hands (as well as helping Miyuki with her project). As long as you have access to it in Miyuki's garden atelier (for example), there's no difference between holding it yourself or not. Since as you justly said, Shinji only uses it as an added reference. Heck, you can probably use Gemino on it anyway. (I remember Harry being able to use Diffindo to on his own textbook (to exchange covers) so it's not necessarily protected)

    On the matter of caring about Hermione actions, he has nothing to lose by being extra careful. Rather than whether it's in-character or not, I believe it falls in the category of common sense. The girl is clearly trying to frame him; accused him of murder and being a cheat. Taking precautions is not such a far fetched idea, if you think about it.

    In any case the whole post was a rough type of thing really. Not like I feel that strongly about it. Only suggestions. (Except maybe the last one xD)
    Last edited by Daiki; February 15th, 2018 at 02:49 AM.

  8. #588
    吸血鬼 Vampire Desann's Avatar
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    [x] Ask for a tour of the Ministry - Taking Amber with him.

  9. #589
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    What will Shinji do at Reception? [x] Ask for a tour of the Ministry - Taking Amber with him

    GIFT SUGGESTIONS STILL WELCOME




    The Tour

    Shinji and his companion are offered a tour of the Ministry, courtesy of Auror Trainee Nymphadora Tonks, who as a very recent Hufflepuff Alumna (graduated the year before, actually!), was curious about the first year Puff who had allegedly tried to save Filch's life. Nothing quite so exciting happened during her time at Hogwarts - and really, she hadn't expected that to change due to Professor Quirrell, as she only remembered the man as the Muggle Studies Professor.

    "But I guess people can surprise you, whether firsties or older folks," the Auror-trainee reflected, letting her hair become a most interesting shade of purple. "Tell you wot. We don't have to let this just be a tour. Ask me something. Or a couple somethings. Least I can do for a Puff and a girl he fancies enough to invite her to this kind of thing."

    "I-it's not really like that," Shinji said, his face a most interesting shade of red as he looked away. "I...I just thought Lady Gainsborough would appreciate it."

    "Huh? And you even have him trained," Auror Trainee Tonks remarked with a bit of a smirk, glancing over at a thoroughly amused Amber. "Nice work, girl. You a Puff too?"

    "Gryffindor, actually," the brunette corrected. "Though it's not as if which house one is in truly matters, does it?"

    "It does - and it doesn't," Tonks answered with a shrug. "You'll see what I mean in a few years."

    What would Shinji like to ask Tonks? (choose up to two)

    [ ] Ask about Metamorphmagi
    [ ] Ask what Hogwarts was like for her
    [ ] Ask if she remembers a girl named Tsuji Miyuki
    [ ] Ask about Auror training and what it involves
    [ ] (write-in)

    What would Shinji like to see most on the tour?

    [ ] The Wizengamot Chambers, where laws are discussed and cases are judged
    [ ] The main Atrium, featuring the statue of the wizard and witch and the other races
    [ ] The Department of Magical Games and Sports
    [ ] Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office
    [ ] (write-in)

    Quirrell's Challenge - Christmas

    "In honor of the season of giving, I have a most generous gift prepared for one individual from each year who most impresses me: enough Basilisk Skin to craft into an entire set of clothing - the perfect gift for any young wizard or witch with a discerning eye. It is something you will not find anywhere else, or offered by anyone else, given that the creation of Basilisks is now illegal - and further, even if you did miraculously acquire some, you wouldn't be able to claim that those came from a creature that once served Salazar Slytherin himself. A piece of history itself."

    So Professor Quirrell announces, with an entire class hanging on his every word.

    "To have a chance at acquiring this magnificent prize, a student must participate in - and pass - one of the two challenges I will soon make available. Unlike the challenge you participated in from the beginning, there will be no blind pairings - for you must choose your teams wisely if you wish to have any chance of success. Teams of three, that is - no more, no less.

    The two scenarios are as follows:

    1) Surviving the Crash: You and your team have crash-landed in a distant land in the wake of a massive storm that put an end to a disastrous attempt to circumnavigate the world by broomstick. Though you are (mostly) uninjured, your broomsticks were destroyed, as have your wands and the majority of your provisions, leaving you with only the little can salvage from the wreckage, and what you can improvise from your surroundings. Your surroundings seem to be a sprawling jungle, a mist-shrouded place riddled with swamps and bogs, and you think you recall - from your flight over part of it - some lakes as well. From what you can remember, there is a settlement of sorts about an hour away at broom's top flight speed, which might have friendly natives, if you manage to reach it. Getting there, however, will be difficult, as you are limited to moving on foot. Your environs are hot and humid, and the area around you is best described as swampy, though there are dry patches and even some nice caves in which you might take shelter from the harsh storms that come at night. Your objective is to reach the settlement. Final Score will be based on how many of your teammates survive to reach the settlement, as well as how long those who perished on the way lasted.

    2) The Defense of Hos: You are part of an alliance of rebels waging war against a Dark Wizard who has successfully forced much of known Europe to bend their knee to his will. Your main defense up till now has been obscurity - but one of your recent operations has caught his attention, and now his armies have landed on the wintry isle of Hos, where your alliance's main base is hidden. Ultimately, the base is inconsequential - but the people inside are not, as they represent the bulk of your faction's war-fighting ability. Your objective here is coordinate the defense of Hos, taking critical roles in the command structure and helping to hold off the enemy long enough to facilitate the evacuation of the base via magic carpet (needed to leave the area of affect of the anti-portkey and anti-apparition jinxes in place), before fleeing yourself. Final Score will be based on the number of evacuation convoys that reach safety. Each individual's score will be calculated separately, based on when they leave the area of engagement.

    Which one sounds most interesting to Matou Shinji?

    [ ] Surviving the Crash
    [ ] The Defense of Hos
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; February 15th, 2018 at 12:10 PM.

  10. #590
    What would Shinji like to ask Tonks?

    [x] Ask about Metamorphmagi & Transfiguration in general.


    Short to a Transfiguration Professor or an Animagus, she's probably one of the best to give advice at this point. Hopefully Shinji obtains some pointers; such as what kind of mindset for the subject works best.

    What would Shinji like to see most on the tour?

    [x] The Wizengamot Chambers, where laws are discussed and cases are judged.

    Which one sounds most interesting to Matou Shinji?

    [x] The Defense of Hos.

  11. #591
    [x] Ask about Metamorphmagi & Transfiguration in general.

    Sounds good to me. I wanted to avoid asking about Miyuki here anyways since it seem rude for Shinji to ask about a girl when he is with another girl yet again.

    [X] Department of International Magical Cooperation

    Given that they are still apart of the confederation at this point, and Shinji's international status, I would think that Shinji would be more curious about this department. Not to mention how mind blowing it would be for the Magus boy to see an organization that coordinating between multiple magical governments, all who are trying to be separate socialites under the radar of the muggles. Something that Magus's would not do as they just blend into muggle society fully.

    Either scenario works for me.

    I am somewhat disappointed that Amber did not tease Shinji when she could have. Stating "But Shinji this is our second date." Just to ruffle his feathers a bit for her amusement. But alas she is likely to be far more behaving in public without her mask.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; February 15th, 2018 at 05:19 PM.

  12. #592
    吸血鬼 Vampire Desann's Avatar
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    [x] Ask what Hogwarts was like for her
    [x] Ask about Auror training and what it involves

    [X] Department of International Magical Cooperation

    [x] Surviving the Crash

  13. #593
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skull Leader View Post
    I am somewhat disappointed that Amber did not tease Shinji when she could have. Stating "But Shinji this is our second date." Just to ruffle his feathers a bit for her amusement. But alas she is likely to be far more behaving in public without her mask.
    She tends to be a bit more proper and behaved without a mask on, yes. And this is a very different setting than a masquerade party in Halloween.




    Happy Chinese New Year!

    In the spirit of the Holiday (and as your friendly author/GM), I am going to offer you the chance to influence what Quirrell should give to Shinji for Christmas.* Please, keep requests within reason, though remember that the man is currently becoming quite wealthy, what with a sizable advance for a book he's been asked to write covering his adventures during his sabbatical (and his philosophy), as well as the...finder's fee of 25% of the FMV of the basilisk skin sales (with Hogwarts' coffers receiving the rest).

    Examples of gifts may include things like a broomstick, an invisibility cloak, a set of two-way mirrors, an enchanted pocketwatch which keeps track of one's schedule, a Cast-a-Spell Kit (of particular interest to Muggleborns), a goblin-forged knife, a rather handy haversack, or perhaps one of the other curious contraptions made by the artisans of Horizont or Vertic Alley.

    *Note: All of those who passed Quirrell's first round of challenges early in the year will be receiving something from the man, as he believes in rewarding those who have some modicum of skill and intelligence. I'm just offering you input into what it should be.

    So, as the Shadows of Babylon 5 are wont to say: "What do you want?"
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; February 16th, 2018 at 06:51 PM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  14. #594
    Cast-a-spell kit is this just a heavily reduced pocket area ala book of spells that teaches the basics but is its own small training area? What are the limitations of it? Can this be used as bargin bin mobile magus workshop? If it is then with some work in adding security measures and some investments we might have a place for Shinji to work on magic since he does not have the RoR. Especially if this area is free of pesky magic detection.

    Knife would be the Phelen response here but Shinji is not ready for one yet since he has no real training yet in weapons. A handy haversack would be useful for keeping more stuff on hand to supplement the first aid kit in keeping things that are outside the realm of just healing, like food and water. Also a foe-glass might be useful, if one wants to use it to avoid the hell out of Hermione, or just get a warning that she inbound.

    Quote Originally Posted by alfheimwanderer View Post
    So, as the Shadows of Babylon 5 are wont to say: "What do you want?"
    Ah but the real question is "Who are you?"

    But that something that Shinji of BC knows about since he had to answer the five questions of B5. I have always loved these questions. Every Player should really have to answer them when making and playing any character.

  15. #595
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skull Leader View Post
    Cast-a-spell kit is this just a heavily reduced pocket area ala book of spells that teaches the basics but is its own small training area? What are the limitations of it? Can this be used as bargain bin mobile magus workshop? If it is then with some work in adding security measures and some investments we might have a place for Shinji to work on magic since he does not have the RoR. Especially if this area is free of pesky magic detection.
    The Cast-A-Spell Kit does not have the functionality of the RoR (which responds to one's desires) or the Book of Spells (which can be programmed with very advanced scenarios in mind, and can actively learn from what is shown to it). However, it can be used as something of a bargain bin workshop if you do some aftermarket modding, though it does only ever generate that one room, which can keep most things cast within from being detected outside it, since its a practice area.

    And if I was going to be morbid, I would say the real question is "Do you have anything worth living for?"

  16. #596
    ぷよ使い Puyo Mage fallacies's Avatar
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    [x] Small, portable pensieve, with a "clear contents" feature.

    A small-scale, portable pensieve that can be used to store memories per usual, but incorporates as a unique feature the capacity to clear all contents by the use of a customizable codeword known only to the user. This would serve both as a safety feature, so as to manually restrict access of memories unintended by the owner (as in, capacity to delete records to prevent access); and a mechanism by which to grant reusability of the recording function.

    The intended function of this item would be to serve as the magical equivalent of a voice recording device, as used to preserve evidence to the scrutiny of the law should such a need arises. Ergo, the specifications of the pensieve would be such that its recorded contents can be submitted / accepted as evidence under the strictures observed by magical law enforcement. That is, the pensieve must be demonstrably incapable of being selectively or partially cleared; and any (common) means by which to modify the existing contents of the pensieve must leave obvious traces.

    Ideally, the pensieve would be of metal, of the size and shape of an antique snuff box. In function, however, (as in, in terms of the duration or scale of the memory submitted to record) it shouldn't be much different from a conventional pensieve.
    Last edited by fallacies; February 17th, 2018 at 11:44 AM.

  17. #597
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    What would Shinji like to ask Tonks? [X] Ask about Metamorphmagi + Transfiguration; [X] Ask about Auror training and what it involves

    What would Shinji like to see most on the tour? [x]
    Department of International Magical Cooperation

    Quirrell Challenge: TIE




    For Quirrell's Challenge - Christmas Edition - Which one is Shinji interested in, if any?

    [ ] The Defense of Hos
    [ ] Surviving the Crash
    [ ] Either one, depending who invites him
    [ ] Neither; he will not participate

    What gifts do you want from Quirrell? So far, I have one item - a portable pensieve suggested. Any others? This isn't properly a vote as much as it is idea gen for me.
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  18. #598
    ぷよ使い Puyo Mage fallacies's Avatar
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    [x] Either one, depending who invites him

  19. #599
    死徒 Dead Apostle
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    [ ] Surviving the Crash

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    A Two-Named Thief Bird of Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fallacies View Post
    [x] Either one, depending who invites him
    +1

    - - - Updated - - -

    OG thread was too big for me to catch up on but I can join in on this one at least.
    Quest of Fate (Update: 17/11/2018)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saron View Post
    It's official. Hermes is the old man hipster of CaS.
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    ...Are you the protagonist of a YA novel? Perhaps an otome game?




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