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Thread: Fate/Recant (IC)

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    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Fate/Recant (IC)

    For whatever reason, there was a pit in his stomach when he woke up.

    Honestly, he didn't care as it was a common thing alright, something he had gotten used to long ago. What was more interesting, at least to him, was the lone, small owl sitting right outside his window, preening its wings. Such a quaint creature, seemingly so tiny now that it was up close, watching and waiting as he prepared to go to leave his dreary house.

    That same small owl followed him all the way to the cemetery he had to walk past every day when leaving his house. That day, as was common in those days, a funeral was being held.

    But... at least the sky was as clear as mirror-sheen bronze.

    Walking under a strong sunlight that warmed up his face, against a wind that caressed his sweating body, he felt a little better. The road was practically humming because of the heat, and shadows played in the treetops around him.

    It was clear – summer was here.

    To be in a place full of vigor in its whole existence, he could feel his steps growing lighter, his movement more hasty. Never mind the heat that was intolerable to most people, at least he could see that this promised blue skies and fun times ahead.

    With a slight grin on his face, he brushed aside sweat from his brow with the sleeve of his shirt and took in the brilliant scenery around him, all grazed by the light of the sun. Despite knowing that people these days had less and less time for frivolities, at least there was now hope for some leisure, some time to spend on themselves and amongst each other. It was such a fleeting thing, time, that honestly one needed to plan meticulously or all would be lost before one even knew it. He was going to have his fun and nobody, not even time, would be able to stop him this time.

    Yes, it was oh so very clear – summer was already here.

    A summer hot enough to slap you in the face.

    “And though I think that... like hell this blonde bastard is going to make any effort to organize his schedule,” he grunted at himself in self-derision. “I'll just waste it away drinking again, like every summer. It's almost like seasonal insanity, I tell you.”

    Of course, nobody heard his grumbles, not even the lone owl. It had been left behind, watching the funeral of some poor unfortunate sap.

    There was a good reason for this grumble, however; although the sun had given him enough energy to think such grandiose thoughts, that same heat had sapped them away faster than a bandit on a street corner takes your money.

    “Might as well spent my days drying my linens... now there'd be something productive!”

    Such nonsense came from his mouth without even thinking. Walking a familiar path, he had no reason to look where he was going... and there was no one on the street to bother him either. Even if there was, they'd know better than to interrupt his soliloquy. He just had that kind of face, which was both a blessing and a curse. Add in the sweat that fell on his face thanks to the sun's merciless nature and any thought of interrupting this rambling man was uprooted violently.

    “Now there's an idea, actually,” he continued to mutter. “I'll just skip out on this whole nonsense that I want no part in and once nobody is bothering me anymore, just spent my days drying all the linens. I bet she'd appreciate it. Mm, laying around in the grass, watching white fabric sway in the breeze... Perfect.”

    Best of all, nobody would be there to stop him. He had earned his rest.

    “Ah, wait a second... I almost forgot.”

    He reached for his pocket for the third time that day. Rummaging through its contents, his fingertips brushed against a rough surface of paper that he had meant to take a look ever since he woke up. After all, on that paper was written something he had meant to take care for a while now, but always ended up forgetting.

    If only there would be no more interruptions---

    “Yo, grumpy! Fancy meeting you here!”

    Well, of course it had to be her. With that volume and with that complete lack of paying any attention to her surroundings, the culprit of that cheerful shriek just had to be the one person he didn't exactly want to meet this fine day. In addition, the way she phrased her greeting was as if their meeting was a complete coincidence... but he knew better than that.

    He knew that she had been just waiting to ambush him.

    “... Just what about this is a coincidence? You planned this, didn't you? Just admit that you planned this!” He growled. “The fact that you're up and about at the same time as me proves it. I know how you operate, you conniving broad.”

    The fact that she had no shame to even appear guilty nailed the truth to the coffin. She had made this coincidence happen, thus removing any coincidence from the equation completely.

    “Really? I mean, I might have come to meet you, but that was completely on a whim,” she shot back with a smirk. “What do you call that if not a coincidence?”

    It was an excuse, but damn if it wasn't a convincing one. He could practically feel part of his frustration waver.

    “The thing is, you know we're not supposed to be seen together,” he grimaced right back at her. “Forget all the problems it would cause, my reputation would be in ruins... and it's practically ruins already. Don't make a bad situation into a even worse one.”

    Perhaps it was the clear message of: 'go away already' in his voice, but his words made her adopt a more serious expression. Like a clock-hand passing the noon, her eyes grew hard and for a moment, there was a somewhat harsh glare thrown in his direction.

    “What's that? Are you ashamed of me? Wow, just think about the implications of that you moron. Certain people raise a few eyebrows if they knew,” she growled.

    “Exactly!” he exclaimed. “That's why I don't want to be associated with you, in public or not-in-public! It's against the rules, and more importantly, it's just in bad taste. The last thing I need is to deal with this crap. I have certain someone to wait on hand and foot already, I don't need another person to complicate things.”

    Perhaps it was the way he said it, like she had been an eyesore -and she was- but he couldn't help but to feel slightly guilty about how her shoulders slumped. She didn't mean anything bad with what she did; if anything, she always aimed to do the right thing. However... that rarely meant it was convenient for others. The right thing rarely was.

    Just like now.

    “Well geez, that teaches me to be worried about you... Guess I'll just ignore it the next time I have this pit in my stomach,” she complained, clearly sulking now.


    “You heard me. I only came because I had this... I don't know, premonition that things were somewhat off with you. Blame it on what I've heard lately,” she continued, still indignant. “And clearly it was right. Looking at you now, your face clearly shows you're troubled.”

    While he appreciated her concern and was sorry that he had spoken so harshly (not that he'd ever admit it), something about what she had said made his eyebrow twitch. It was a bad habit of his. Instead of trying to see the bigger picture, he got hung up on random minutiae.

    “That's you. You.” His finger poked accusingly towards her. “If anything, right now I'm biggest headache is the fact that you're once again here even though you shouldn't be... and even after I told I'd fix your little problem and do you a favor. A favor that's a ridiculous one, mind you.”

    “M-me?” She asked, eyebrows reaching for her hairline.

    “Yeah. You!”

    If he had expected her to finally look guilty, he was grossly mistaken. Instead, she put her hands on her hips and lifted her nose up in the air, almost like she was basking in compliments. No, not almost. She was definitely enjoying the words showered upon her, even though they were supposed to be scornful.

    “Hm hmm!” She nodded. “If that's the way it is, I'll let your rudeness slide! If I'm the reason for your worries, you're forgiven! After all, it's about me, and I can't stay mad at you if I'm involved!”

    What sense did that logic even make? None, none whatsoever. Once again, she was completely misaligned with the normal conduct of society. Though it was no wonder, considering how far apart she and common sense tended to be.

    “Right. You know what? I haven't got time for this,” he curtly spoke, brushing past her. “I have some other insanity to get into, or rather, skip out of, so I'm in a hurry. If you want to talk something that makes sense, you know where to find me. Or rather, I'll find you. So don't barge into my life again like this.”

    Hastening his steps, he made his way down the street, leaving her behind in a hurry. Even without looking back, he could feel her stare burning a hole through the back of his neck... even though at the same time, she was probably smiling and waving maganimously. That's just what she did. Even when the person she talked to was someone who had gone out of his way to promise to do something for her, she acted like she was the one deeming to descend into his presense. Typical of her, really.

    With her irritating form disappearing behind the hill, he was once again accosted by the burning sunlight and the sweltering heat. No longer was it refreshing as the breeze was gone; even his lethargy had evaporated. The only thing that was left was this sense of nausea that rose up from somewhere, somewhere deep within him.

    From a pit in his stomach, to be precise.

    “... Ah.”


    Far too suddenly.

    He felt light-headed and then... sleepy.

    His tongue stuck to the roof his mouth and words no longer left his mouth. Not even breath left his mouth. His field of vision wavered, warped and then collapsed. He also collapsed, crumpled forward like a marionette with all its strings cut. His rapidly fading consciousness tried to make sense of what was happening, but everything was turning dark in an instant.

    It was far too sudden and far too unexpected.

    Really, nobody could have reacted to it.

    Probably like the funeral he saw this morning. Yes... death seldom was something one knew was coming before it was too late.

    Distant bell rung twice.

    Yes... now that he thought about it, something had felt rather ominous the moment he woke up, hadn't it?

    “Mr. Deofolgeat, please stop drooling on the counter. You've embarrassed us enough as it is.”

    The sound of harsh-toned voice drew Freogan from his slumber of surreal dreams. Drearily he lifted his head from the wooden surface of the pub's counter and glanced around. A slowly growing cacophony of a nigh-full barroom filled his ears, along with an ever-growing realization that he had apparently fallen asleep in the middle of his pub-crawl with, well... friends would not be the right word.

    Co-workers maybe?

    Yes, a pub-crawl with his co-workers. And he had fallen asleep in the middle of it. Something that should have made him squirm in embarrassment, if not for the reason. Yes, the 2005-2006 season for Barnet F.C. had been abysmal, to the point they had finished only 5 places and 5 points above the relegation zone. Thanks to his keeping busy as a lecturer, Freogan had had no time to truly take in this loss... and now it all came out in one horrible bender that his colleagues had to suffer with.

    The main sufferer being none other than Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald.

    “I've already stood low enough to allow myself to set foot in this horrid place,” Kayneth continued, eyeing the pub with as much disdain as he did Freogan. “Can you at least make an attempt to behave like a civilized person?”

    The sigh Kayneth heaved was a heavy one.

    Indeed, it was already 1 o'clock in the morning, far past the bedtime for any respectable magus.

    Alas, the nights of the lecturers were long.

    “Leave him alone, Kayneth.” One Waver Velvet called out from other side of Freogan. “At least he woke up on his own. It's better than the drunkards who are thrown out because they can't even keep awake. Besides, as much as Freogan frequents these places, no wonder they feel like home. And we all like to sleep at home, right?”

    “Damn right!” Marisbury Animusphere joined in the conversation with a laugh. “Let a man rest his head where his home is, and all that. You should know... I mean, when was the last time you slept somewhere else than your office? I gathered they've been might pissed off at you this time.”

    “Mind your own business, Marisbury! I've chosen to sleep in separate quarters from my family as it encourages me to work more! Whatever ill-rumors you have heard of me and any womenfolk are completely baseless! Slander, I tell you!” Kayneth grinded his teeth and gulped down his hard cider harshly.

    “That's what he says, but from what I understood, Reines has been chomping at his heels for a while now,” Waver interjected with a smirk. “Something about 'uncouth women'.”

    “She was not uncouth! How dare that spoiled little tart spread such rumors!”

    “Wait,” Marisbury raised an eyebrow. “So there was some woman?”

    The group gathered at the counter of the pub roared in laughter, all except for the furiously blushing and fuming head of the El-Melloi family, who was glaring ineffectual daggers in just about every direction he could think of.

    Mulier est hominis confusio...” Trivian Vlastos spoke quietly, sipping his own drink. “Something we have learned well in our faculty.”

    The last words were said with a meaningful glance towards Freogan. Out of all the people at the pub right then and there, he was the one most resembling a chaperone at the moment. That is, he wasn't rip-roaring drunk like the rest of them pretty much were. Typical for the strict-like-a-whip lecturer.

    “Don't spout your fancy latin proverbs at me!” Kayneth shot back, looking like he was now holding back tears. “There was a reason such useless language was left dead and forgotten, even among our kind!”

    One could practically see Vlastos freeze up like someone had shot an arrow straight through his groin into his navel. If there ever was a dead-inside look on a man's face, that was it. Perhaps the stray verbal flailing of the magus in blue had hit a sore spot?

    “Well, he isn't wrong per se,” Marisbury said, munching on his bar peanuts and offering some to Freogan. “The little devil in our family is growing a bit too... independent these days. She's begun to get in her head that she knows better than her old man!”

    “Um, when it comes to some things, I'm pretty sure she does...” Waver commented with a troubled expression. “But in the end, when it comes to trouble with the opposite sex, I think the dubious first prize to our colleagues in the Zoo. What was it this time? Something about a... flock of sheep in the highlands? The whole thing disappeared?”

    All eyes turned towards Freogan, who took his sweet time enjoying his salted peanuts. Then, with a face that was the very incarnation of: 'I don't want to comment on this', he proceeded to talk in a precise and clear manner that threatened bodily harm upon anyone foolish enough to pursue this topic further.

    “Nope. You heard wrong. That sodding giant didn't just give sheep the ability to reach terminal velocity. That's just crazy talk.”

    Deny, deny, deny everything.

    --- The unofficial motto of the Zoology Department.

    “Oi oi, before you start throwing shade at other people, what about you Waver?” Marisbury interrupted, his eyes gleaming with drunken glee. “You've been hanging out with... what's-her-face, Gray? Grey? Anyways, that hooded girl, right?”

    All other men proceeded to watch as the famous Big Ben Londonster nearly choked on his own beer at this comment.

    “W-w-what? Unbelievable! Just unbelievable” Waver growled, wiping his mouth. “Doesn't anything stay secret these days?”

    “... Apparently not,” Kayneth murmured, looking hollow inside.

    “Well, be that as it may,” Vlastos forcefully returned to the conversation, trying to gain some semblance of order. “From an almost person's perspective the night's still young. If we're going to continue, I say that we do... as long as Mr. El-Melloi doesn't cause any more ruckus. I think there are some bar patrons across the street who now know about your dating life.”

    The blonde head of the Archibald branch slammed his head against the counter, perhaps out of frustration, perhaps hoping it'd erase any memory of this horrible night that he was encountering. Unfortunately, there was no convenient escape like that. Everything was, and would stay, fresh in their memories.

    “It's not like our yelling bothers anyone,” Waver added, pointing his thumb at the rest of the pub. “As long as the rerun of that game is going on, we'll be the patrons making least noise in this joint.”

    “I dunno. A wanker like Kayneth can give a ManU fan a run for his money,” Freogan shot with a tired grin. “I think we'd cover all bases if we just gave him a 2 liter pint to shotgun. Should shut him up for a while.”

    “That'd kill me you football hooligan!” Kayneth roared, bringing his twitching face right next to Freogan.

    “And? How's that a problem?”

    “Let me show you a problem you miserable little-”

    At this point Marisbury rough hand bonked both blondes on the head, restoring peace and quiet once more to their corner of the pub. Both Vlastos and Waver gave an appreciative nod towards the older magus, while the two culprits licked their wounds and their drinks with pissed-off looks on their faces.

    “... Then what are we supposed to do, if not piss the hell outta Mr. Archibald here?” Freogan asked, glaring at Marisbury.

    “Hmm... how about we talk about something that's not work-related for a chance?” The bearded man suggested, trying to lighten the mood. “Perhaps interesting rumors or urban legends we've heard recently?”

    More than a one raised eyebrow looked towards the man, who explained his suggestion by nodding towards the newspaper lying on the counter not far from them. One of the smaller articles, the only one they could really read from that angle, was about the recent disappearences of pets around the Harrow area. Each of the men glanced at each other, then back at Marisbury.

    “Hm. That certainly isn't our department's work,” Vlastos said immediately, to dispel any theories in that direction.

    “If you ask me, it has to be that infernal Jigmarie,” Kayneth spoke, scoffing. “She's just the type who'd go around kicking people's cats and dogs for fun, is she not?

    Waver Velvet grimaced.

    “... I want to argue against that, but for some reason it's pretty hard...”

    “Wait-wait-wait, are you bloody morons serious?” Freogan asked. “She actually does that?”

    “I won't confirm or deny,” Marisbury answered, looking as if he had not expected topic to take this sudden of a turn. “But you guys have to admit, when stuff like that appears in papers, it's mostly because of us. Like the red eyes people have seen in subway dark subway tunnels recently, peering into the train cars. That's you guys, right?”

    Marisbury pointed at both Freogan and Vlastos. Both looked at each other and then shook vigorously their heads.

    “No, no way in hell that's us!”

    Immediately, an uncomfortable silence set upon the group as they began to ponder deeper into the subject that had been a rumor each of them had heard at one point or another recently.

    “P-perhaps a black schuck? Who knows, maybe one has survived even in the urban center of London?” Kayneth proposed, taking a nervous sip of his drink. “Something that should clearly be left to the specialists of the Holy Church, not us.”

    Perhaps Kayneth was about to say more, but at that point all attention was caught by the two Zoology Department members who had descended into a deep -and clearly nervous- thought. Vlastos was finishing his drink in record time while Freogan was copying him at an alarming rate, both driven by growing dread that they had some idea about what was going on. While saying anything would have been slander of the highest order, there was a certain person in their department who took... evening walks every now and then. Enthusiastic evening walks. Very enthusiastic evening walks, to the point she ended up in places she didn't know how to get out of and had to one of them find her.

    A certain someone who had red eyes and who was tall enough to peer straight into a subway car when she stood up to her full height.

    “W-who cares about eyes in the subway, those might as well ghost stories used to scare kids!” Vlastos suddenly piped up, sounding a lot drunker than he had previously been. “What I want to know is that expansion to Neasden Temple people have been clamouring about. Was it really because something exploded in the temple?”

    If the black-haired magus had been trying to get some enthusiastic conversation going on, he was sorely disappointed. Instead there were nothing but blank faces all around, a complete lack of recognition to what he just said. Somewhat confused, Vlastos made a vague gesture with his free hand, like trying to paint the temple into the air.

    “You know what I am talking about, right? They're adding a new wing to the Neasden Temple or something...?”

    “Err, Vlastos? How much have you had again?” Waver asked, cocking an eyebrow. “The last time I checked, which was yesterday mind you, Neasden temple was like it always has been.”

    “... What?”

    “Yeah,” Marisbury agreed. “I don't know what you've heard, but there certainly isn't any construction work going on at the temple.”

    Both Kayneth and Freogan nodded in agreement, causing the other Zoology-member to descend into a confused mumbling, staring straight into his drink with in a growing self-doubt. Sentences like: 'But I definitely heard...' and 'They said the temple was being expanded...' could be heard from within that muttering.

    Clearly, it was better to give him some time alone.

    After all, showcasing some unheard-of sympathy towards his closest colleague, Freogan ordered another pint of ale for him and slowly slid it across the counter into his arms. Vlastos proceeded to cradle the pint like he was searching for guidance, or perhaps relief, from it.

    “Then, how about anyone el-”

    “Sorry lads. Smoke break,” Freogan interrupted Marisbury in perhaps a bit-too loud voice.

    He had seen Marisbury's keen, drunken eyes hover towards him. That's when he knew it was about to bolt. Thus, despite the slight protests of the men around him, Freogan slid out of his stool and headed towards the exit of the pub. The noisy atmosphere around him grew denser as he left the comfort of the counter which had been something of a safe-haven and braved the actual floor of the establishment, heavy in a thick scent of alcohol and sweaty people all cramped together in a small space. Brushing past the intoxicated patrons and their rowdy groups, he finally got to the exit, opened the door and stepped outside.

    Surprisingly chilly air of a late summer hit Freogan as he walked down the few stone steps to the street, forcing him to pull his leather jacket closer. It was still damp and humid, as city air often was, but there was a certain sense of approaching autumn that one could already sense in the breeze. The positive side was that this cool air finally cleared up the muddled, still half-asleep mind of the blonde magus – almost as if he only now was properly waking up.

    “... Jesus. What a racket,” Freogan mumbled to himself as he fished out a cigarette from his pocket.

    The flickering light of a Zippo was exposed to the air soon enough, a wisp of smoke trailed from his lips towards the blackened sky, illuminated by the few street-lights that were operational this far from the city-center. A foul taste entered his mouth, focusing his thoughts even further. To Freogan, smoking was almost akin to a prayer of sorts, if only a twisted one.

    “Still, bloody hell. This was an unexpected twist...”

    Freogan wasn't kidding when he murmured that to himself. The events of this summer had been far from ordinary, especially now that he started to contemplate under the faint moonlight. Setting everything else aside, today's pub-crawl was the first and foremost of the offenders. He himself, Waver Velvet, Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald, Marisbury Animusphere and Trivian Vlastos... all men that, while lecturers at the Clock Tower, never really had anything in common. Yet here they were, drinking the night away. Almost like they had grown close enough to do that.

    Which they had – a surreal thing if anything.

    Thanks to the politics of Clock Tower, such co-worker-like spirit was practically unheard of. However, lately animosity within the different departments of the Magic Association had toned down considerably, to the point that they could behave, if nothing else, amicably towards each other. Which... eventually led to this insanity.

    It started with a rather complicated and very official meeting led by one Barthomeloi Lorelei, of course, but adversity creates odd bed-fellows; together with other male-members of the meeting he had decided to skip on the whole sordid affair and instead go out to get wasted. Something which he had succeeded in.

    It was especially absurd when you put it in context of what had happened over one and a half years ago. Back then peaceful times such as these were mere utopia.

    After all, back then...

    … The Holy Grail War arrived in London.

    An event like that had consequences, it had its price and its toll on the people involved. Yet at the same time it had also given them all something new, something different, something to make it worthwhile that hopefully wasn't as empty as the war itself.

    At least for Freogan there had been enough time to reflect upon what had happened and move on. To find his place in this world again.

    In fact, everybody has moved on more or less. The war is now a distant memory. Dead stay dead, of course, but that doesn't mean life stops to mourn. It presses ever onward, whether you want it or not. But that's a good thing, isn't it?

    A never-changing mundane life of the people of London, links made and broken during the fighting are now evolving into something different, something that shines under the light of the everyday. Its a chain that connects them gently and passes through each of these yesterdays and tomorrows that come and go without much reason or deeper meaning – in other words, they are just another part of a proper life.

    “... Yeah. That's how it should be... I guess?”

    Freogan could feel his thoughts stumble a bit. His hand reached for the pocket of his jeans, but stopped. It was an involuntary movement that he turned into grasping his cigarette so he could take drag off it. There was no reason for what he was about to do. It just... was.

    Just like this pub-crawl. Hadn't they done this just to relax and ease their mundane lives a little bit?

    Not for any specific reason.

    Freogan shook his heads. Now his thoughts were once again turning back to that odd dream he had seen while drooling on the pub's counter. Perhaps those visions he had seen, something he was pretty sure were something completely foreign to him, had affected him more than he thought? After all, now that he checked his pocket -a feat that, for some reason, took some courage- he found it empty.

    Strange. What had he expected to find?

    Why had he even expected to find anything?

    It's not like he had the habit of holding anything more in that specific pocket than his Zippo lighter.

    Then again, maybe it was...


    --------- Ah, screw it.

    It wasn't important anyway if he couldn't remember it.

    More importantly, Freogan knew he should finish up his cigarette quickly or the others would get a considerable head start at him. Sleeping had already shaved away at the nice, drunken buzz in his head. This would need rectifying and fast. The last thing he wanted to do was to be sober while Kayneth finally took one sip too much and started a circus that promised to be something to witness.

    That's what Waver had hinted at anyway.

    Quickening the pace of his smoking, Freogan finished his cigarette in a record time. He threw the but on the ground and stomped on it once with his boot. Then, with a haste in his steps and a thirst for alcohol on his lips, he turned backs towards the door... only to see the door swing open right in front of him.

    “Pardon, coming through,” Freogan grunted.

    “Ah, my apologies,” Archer of Blue answered politely and stepped out of the way.

    For a moment, Freogan stared bug-eyed at the Servant, his mind frozen solid. Indeed, he was too shocked even to form a coherent thought. Some of it could be blamed on alcohol, but the other part, well... he had no idea what to blame on it.

    “Go right ahead,” Archer continued with a thin smile. “You seem to be in a more of a hurry than I am.”

    “Err, yeah, right.”

    Freogan shook his head to remove his stupor and barged back into the noise and smells of the small pub. As he waded through people back towards the counter where rest of his own group waited, lazy thoughts swam in his head. Just as he was about to reach his own stool, holding one finger up to the bartender to get another lager, he was finally able to grasp one of those stray thoughts that were so elusive.

    A thought that he decided to vocalize for whatever reason.

    “Bloody hell, that suit makes him look like a total bellend in a place like this.”

    In the end, it had been nothing more special than that.

    Grasping the pint offered to him across the counter, Freogan sat down amidst the chaos that had grown between the magi drinking there. It seemed that this talk of recent odd experiences had continued while he was gone, because right now Waver was in the middle of a story about ghost-of-something-or-another that was apparently hiding under the London Bridge to this day, preying on the inexperienced young students of Clock Tower. From the context, it seemed to be an apparition of some old lecturer or another who had died some years ago.

    This topic had then apparently spawned a whole argument as Kayneth argued that a ghost trying to make people fall of the bridge was ridiculous, while Marisbury thought that a woman in white with long, stringy black-hair was too Japanese concept to be realistic in London. Waver, of course, was then accused of being the usual Japanophile that he was, which he denied vehemently. Outside of this all, Vlastos was downing his fourth pint, looking more and more haggard with each swig he took.

    “Besides, if that Professor was actively searching for new victims, that makes no sense whatsoever!” Marisbury complained, his words somewhat slurred. “Ghosts just repeat what little they have left of their past self, like a recording or something. They can't plan or come up with new ways to snag victims!”

    “T-that's just how I heard it,” Waver said with a grimace. “You don't have to blame me for inconsistencies in the story.”

    “Fool! This is why you are not a proper lecturer, at least in my books!” A clearly intoxicated Kayneth joined in. “If something tries to deviate from proper course of history, it'll become just a self-contained moment, whether a person or an event! It's elementary! A ghost that can continue to exist past its own parameters is unheard of, unless it's something as horrible as Gazamy!”

    “Why are you both yelling at me!? You asked me to talk about something interesting, and I did!” Waver retorted angrily. “Also, Kayneth, dragonbreath! Seriously.”

    While he took no part in the argument, Freogan had to agree with the two drunkards. As interesting as ghost stories were, and Britain was full of them, one fact was undeniable. A fragment of a soul could not be more than what had been left behind in it by whatever it had been in life. Even if it somehow gained power to go beyond that, all it would do would be keep acting the same sad story over and over again.

    Even the mundanes of the world had learned that lesson and incorporated it into their ghost stories: a haunting stays put, and it repeats the trauma that it suffered. Dead cannot move on if they're trapped here.

    It's up to the living to go forward, to go beyond tomorrow. Just like the survivors of the Grail War... just like the people here who had, despite their differences, gathered in this pub to share the evening.

    … While Freogan could not say he considered any of these men his friends, that thought warmed his heart a little bit.

    Instead of staying stuck in what had transpired, here they all were, forging a new path and braving forward. That, if anything, was a reassuring thought.

    “Freogan, please, can you come up with anything else?” Waver suddenly turned towards the blonde magus. “I'm sick of hearing these two yell at me. Distract them or something while I get another beer.”

    “Psh! As if a hoodlum like him has experienced anything interesting other than 'rock and roll' concerts and illegal drugs or whatever it is that your kind does,” Kayneth scoffed. “We'd be wasting our time listening to his tales.”

    “Oh shut up, Kayneth,” Marisbury laughed. “Yeah, why not? I couldn't take young Waver's urban legend seriously anyway. Tell us something more grounded, like a juicy office romance rumor or something!”

    Freogan made a sour face. That sort of stuff was a taboo, especially in the circles of Clock Tower. Affairs between magi tended to be messy and for some reason, all the interpersonal relationship that he had gotten tangled with were... problematic, one way or another. Diving into one of them would no doubt cause misunderstanding, and as he had noticed this past year and a half, misunderstanding were the great nemesis of Freogan Deofolgeat.

    Thus, if he was to tell about anything, he would have to phrase it right and set it up so that there'd be no room to read between lines more than there was need to.

    In other words, he would have to take his time.

    “------ What the hell. Alright. Sit back and get some more of those peanuts.”

    Freogan rubbed his chin, trying to think what was the correct point to start.

    “This one's gonna take the rest of the night.”

    Freogan Deofolgeat

    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Oxford Street

    The busy sounds of Oxford Street were like banging metal drums to the ear of Freogan Deofolgeat.

    Even though the clock was barely past seven in the morning, the busiest shopping street in Europe was teeming with folk going about their daily business. One of the people was a certain blonde magus wrapped up in his second-hand leather jacket, nursing a heavy hangover and currently in the process of going through today's fresh selection of vegetables in a cursed effort of thinking up today's menu.

    While Freogan was dressed like it was the middle of winter, in truth the heavy, sweaty atmosphere of summer weighed heavily upon his shoulders, and indeed on shoulders of everyone in London. It was almost uncharacteristically hot for June, which was not helped by living in such a large city. What Freogan wouldn't have given to move to the countryside. Preferrably near a lake or a loch.

    “Why did I have to drink with those idiots last night...?” Freogan groaned to himself as he took a closer look at the carrots in the display stand. “Bloody hell, drinking on Sundays is murder.”

    There was certain truth to his words as only a moron would have gone on a bender with Monday knocking right around the corner. It didn't help that a certain jingle blaring from the PA system of the store seemed to mock him mercilessly, to the point he wanted to strangle however was responsible for choosing today's songs. They had to know what they were doing.

    Of course, had Freogan's problem been only his hangover, he could have managed. But oh no, there was something far worse knocking in his head. Unlike most of the times, his drunken escapades hadn't blissfully slipped from his mind into a thin haze. Instead, Freogan remembered very vividly promising to help out an old friend. A favor, he now realized, that would be a task more arduous than fighting in a Holy Grail War.

    “Ugh... had to think about that didn't I?” Freogan muttered as he weight a tomato in his hand to test its ripeness.

    --- Holy Grail War.

    Something he, and many others, had experienced a year and a half ago, at the tail end of 2004. Back when the air had been cold and snow had been heavy in the air, London had experienced a tragedy that only few people had known about... a tragedy that only few people had been part of. It was those few people whose lives had been changed forever by the events that unfolded.

    That's why Freogan was, in all honesty, glad that the memories of those times had grown surprisingly hazy. He still felt deep sorrow whenever he tried to think back to that December... which is why he didn't. Let the sleeping dogs lie and all that.

    “... Bah. Grow up already you big wimp,” Freogan admonished himself for his thoughts. “It ain't like you, this.”

    Although the memories of Holy Grail War were vague at best, to the point that he couldn't remember specific details of what had happened (and he knew the same was true for the rest of the participants), their results could still be seen even in his everyday life. Instead of one -albeit gigantic- mouth to feed back at the Clock Tower, he was now responsible for two. And though Berserker's mouth might have been more dainty, her appetite was a match for Alexandra's in every way.

    Yes, nobody really knew what happened during the war, but the outcome was somehow pieced together after some investigation from the Clock Tower. Apparently there had been a victor and their wish had been, from what it seemed, for everyone participating continuing their lives as normal. This ended up including not only the Masters but Servants as well, which meant they had stuck around after the war's conclusion. All of this was pure conjecture, of course, as nobody knew what the actual wish was or who even was the winner. But it was as good a guess as anyone could make.

    Needless to say, the Magic Association was disgusted at the mere prospect of Heroic Spirits living a normal life in London, but there was really nothing they could do against such powerful beings. After some raised eyebrows and glared daggers the matter had been dropped altogether... if not counting some utterly scornful glares Barthomeloi Lorelei threw their way every now and then.

    In the end, all it had taken was a stern memo from the Director's office that could be summed up as:

    “You invited this mess. Now live with it. Or else.”

    Ironically eough, that single post-it note became a seal on an event that could have been even more destructive than the Holy Grail War in itself.

    To put it bluntly, the end of the Holy Grail War in London had been a anticlimactic to the point of being ironic. A mess on a scale mortals could not comprehend, which is why most people in the know just pretended the whole fiasco never happened.

    --- The biggest casualty had, in Freogan's opinion, been his wallet that now had to support two hungry women instead of one.

    But at least the fighting was over, to the point that the instinctive hostility Servants of different sides held of for each other had evaporated completely. As no crime could be laid out and any proof of the war was gone, even the Three Families got off scot-free and were now living in London. A truce of sorts had been formed between them and the Association, though Freogan suspected their Servants had a lot to do with that little miracle.

    And now, year and a half after the War, all those problems had turned into distant memories, to the point that Freogan could worry about a half-baked promise he had made to an old friend instead.

    “How in bloody hell am I even supposed to do that? She's a nutter, I tell you. Nutter,” Freogan grumbled again. “Taking advantage of my love for stout...”

    Grumbling loudly to himself, Freogan continued to compare celery stalks in the grocery store at Oxford Street, wondering how he was supposed to magic up yet another delicious yet healthy meal for the other two nutters in his life.

    Last edited by Verg Avesta; October 3rd, 2018 at 08:38 AM.

  2. #2
    Flying Fairy Sunny's Avatar
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    Caster of Blue
    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Oxford Street

    Shopping had always been a bit of a pleasure for Caster. Whether it was the thrill of finding something new on the shelves, or indulging in a rare treat, or even just poking her head into an interesting shop she had managed to walk past the last time around, she always looked forward to her turn at this particular household task.

    The girl didn't understand why it seemed to come about only when the others were busy or absolutely couldn't go themselves. Granted, she had spent altogether too much the first few times, but she did help to pay off those invoices eventually... and she'd been more careful since the daily spending limit was imposed, hadn't she?

    She folded her arms, balancing a bag in one arm, lost in thought. Caster had dressed casually this time in a long white skirt, tied with a matching bow, an indigo blue blouse, and black stockings and gloves. She hadn't worn anything too unusual or taken any of her equipment with her this time, other than the essentials of course. Really, on the whole, she was doing quite well, she thought.

    A slow nod, squaring her jaw and balling her hands into fists. Yes, this was her opportunity to prove just how far she had come as a modern English shopper. To that end, she hurried with airy steps towards the next aisle, determined and intent to swoop down upon her next target.

    "Breakfast cereal!" Caster declared cheerfully to no one in particular, snatching the first cardboard box to catch her eye and holding it up to inspect it. "Now, what do we have here? High fibre, whole grain, low salt..."

    Nodding to herself, the girl tapped the side of her head, making an adjustment to the bronze-plated device she habitually wore over her right eye. An eyepatch visor with an assortment of different lenses and tools folded over one another, her adjustment caused a new lens to rotate over her right eye. Text scrolled over the reflective glass as she reviewed the shopping list she had scanned and saved.

    - Breakfast cereal (and try to get a healthy one this time).

    She mentally checked it off the list, sticking out her chest proudly as she switched back to her typical visor lens, one with black glass and a single white pinprick in place of her pupil. The pinprick narrowed to a delighted line as she beamed, humming happily. She'd found a healthy one right off the bat and it just so happened to be shaped like cookies and laden with chocolate chips. Perfect!

    She was already halfway down the list. Of course, she'd have to be a bit creative with her choices, since she'd come a tiny bit closer to the spending limit than she had intended before she got here...


    Finding herself in the produce section, Caster folded her arms, making an unsatisfied noise. The list called for a side salad, but even she would admit she wasn't sure what would go with the dinner she had picked up so far. Greens had never been her strong point, although they could be nice if prepared well.

    She was still at a loss what to get when she spotted someone else shopping for produce with a rather more determined look than her own faintly puzzled one. A... familiar face? Her brow furrowed, briefly. Ah, that's... Hm? Oh, right. Of course.

    And what good timing, at that. On these few occasions where she was stumped, Caster had always believed in studying and learning from a specialist or mentor.

    Sidling up with a stealthy approach - or what would be a stealthy approach if she stopped humming while she did it - before anyone knew it she was already leaning to her side, peering over at Freogan with a complete disregard for personal space. "Oh, good morning! Unexpected to meet you here, Mister Freogan!"

    Cradled to her chest was a shopping basket along with several bags that seemed to be from shops and stores she had visited previously in the morning. It was clear at a glance that a healthy meal was nowhere in her own plans. Her basket was loaded with soft drinks, several bottles of what appeared to be red wine, crisps, pastries, a stack of instant soups, and a box of Cookie Crisps.

    Behind that, balanced precariously in the crook of her elbow...

    Almost spilling out of the pink-and-white striped bag were candies of all sorts and flavors, piled up in a diverse spread of Lollipops, caramels, and hard candies that had been packed to the very limits of the bag. There were few duplicates - one would almost believe the girl had purchased one of everything the nearby candy shops had to offer.

    The way she surreptitiously tried to hide it behind the wine suggested she probably had.
    Last edited by Sunny; October 3rd, 2018 at 05:06 PM.

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  3. #3
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Freogan Deofolgeat
    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Oxford Street

    "Christ on a bike!"

    While Caster's approach would have been less than stealthy for just about anyone else, the situation was different for a man desperately trying to come up with something cheap to feed two beings that'd devour him out of house if he'd let them. Fumbling with the celery stalk he had been inspecting, the blonde magus practically swatted himself with the vegetable. Cursing some more under his breath and rubbing his forehead, Freogan took a look at the one who had sneaked upon him... and his growing anger melted into few grumbles and raised eyebrow.

    While he had his complaints about many of the Servants that had taken part in the London, he had never really had been with Caster... at least with this Caster. Though that didn't mean he didn't have some grievances about some of the stuff he did. For example, what the smaller blonde was carrying in her shopping basket at the moment.

    "What, it's just you Lil' Caster," Freogan said and scratched the back of his head. "Jesus, you almost gave me a bloody heart attack. Didn't your mom ever tell you not to scare a man wielding celery stalk? Gonna get your eye poked out, you twerp."

    As if to emphasize his words, Freogan made few jabs with the celery stalk he was wielding towards Caster's face... though when he realized that one of the eyes was far less than pokable (thanks to a certain metallic lens covering it), he gave up and placed the vegetable back on the shelf with a sigh. Not that he would have actually assaulted Caster with a vegetable. Not even he was that cruel.

    No, he'd save the sneaky vegetable assault for Gigantor by hiding it in her food.

    Mask the taste with something, or she'd sniff it out and remove it like a kid.

    "So, what the hell are you doing here? Rare enough to see your out-and-about without a nanny," Freogan asked, folding his arms. His blue eyes peered further into the shopping basket with dissatisfaction. "What's this...? Planning for a sugar rush this evening? Even a plonker like you'll be climbing the walls after all that candy you call cereal."

    Unfortunately, those same blue eyes (ones trained to spot everything that didn't adhere to his strict sensibility of what counted as proper food) soon spied upon the spilling bag of candy the Servant had been trying to hide behind the wine bottle.

    "Wait... really? More candy?" Freogan growled, and before he could stop himself, went to try to apply a noogie on hapless Caster. "Did you raid a bloody candy store or something!? Didn't the Holy Grail teach you pillocks anything about modern dental hygiene, huuuh!?"

    Though Freogan was a lover of grease and salt and all things unhealthy when it came to food, there was one thing he could not stand.

    Rotting one's teeth with candy.

  4. #4
    Flying Fairy Sunny's Avatar
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    Caster of Blue
    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Oxford Street

    Still leaning halfway to the side an inch or two away from Freogan, the girl made no movement as he flailed and fumbled, other than to tilt her head out of the path of a particularly wide swing of the celery stalk. She gave the taller blond an undisturbed, cheerful grin.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freogan
    "Christ on a bike!"

    Ooh, that was a new one! I'll add that to the list.

    Keeping a mental list of the interesting reactions others gave her was a bad habit of the girl's, one which she would admit to happily if put to the test, but in this man's case, Caster reckoned it had already reached.... oh, several pages long, at least. She allowed her mind to wander in the moment after dodging his swing.

    I quite wonder if these are in common usage or if he makes them up as he goes along. Is there a particular etymology to Christ using a bicycle in that context? Wouldn't a bicycle make the pilgrim's progress easier, or does using it as a curse then imply an inefficient uphill journey? Is the bicycle meant to be antiquated in today's age or has it not been updated for modern methods of transportation? Oh, maybe it's...

    Nursing a host of questions already, she noted that he'd already continued speaking, and filed them away for later satisfaction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freogan
    "What, it's just you Lil' Caster. Jesus, you almost gave me a bloody heart attack. Didn't your mom ever tell you not to scare a man wielding celery stalk? Gonna get your eye poked out, you twerp."
    "Ahahaha... She forbid me to do quite a lot of things, as a matter of fact, Mister Freogan. You mustn't expect me to keep track of all of them!" she retorted lightly, even though she had, and did. She tilted her body back upright, arranging the basket and bag in her arms. "And honesty, need I remind you I'm 174 cm? 174! That's only little in comparis---hey!"

    Caster made a show of playfully cringing and dodging in mock fear of the leafy green stalk, even widening her unexposed eye to provide a better target until he gave up the pursuit. She almost seemed disappointed when he backed down, her shoulders slumping, but she giggled nevertheless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freogan
    "So, what the hell are you doing here? Rare enough to see your out-and-about without a nanny. What's this...? Planning for a sugar rush this evening? Even a plonker like you'll be climbing the walls after all that candy you call cereal.

    Wait... really? More candy? Did you raid a bloody candy store or something!? Didn't the Holy Grail teach you pillocks anything about modern dental hygiene, huuuh!?"
    "Oh, just a spot of shopping. Restocking on the essentials, things like that, ahaha. I don't always need an escort, you know," Caster assured him, trying to angle the basket so it was harder to look into it... though of course, his height made that difficult, so she quickly gave up and switched tacks, puffing up defiantly to defend her choices. "Cereal is healthy! It says so on the box, underneath the cute cartoon dog! And red wine is good for the heart!"

    "And as for the candy..." The girl coughed, averting her eyes. That was a bit shakier ground, true, but... "There were a bunch I still haven't tried yet...?"

    She hugged the bag close to her chest, protecting it from the beastly and unwarranted noogie, protesting the injustice in progress. "Hey! Stop that! I bought them all quite properly! And they looked interesting! What's wrong with that!"
    Last edited by Sunny; October 23rd, 2018 at 10:12 PM.

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  5. #5
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Freogan Deofolgeat
    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Oxford Street

    "Your teeth'll rot off, that's what's wrong with it! Don't care if you're bloody Servant or not, plaque build-up ain't no joke!" Freogan growled, grinding his knuckles on top of the blonde Servant's head. Not that hard, all things considered, but still... more violently than any proper gentleman would have done to a girl. "You'll end up eating nothing but mashed taters and soup through a straw!"

    It was ironic, of course. For a chain smoker like Freogan, however, teeth were a sore spot and he had been quite serious when it came to their care. A mere sight of someone, Servant or not, endangering their chompers with stuff like a ridiculous amount of rainbow-colored candy flipped a switch of sorts inside him. And though as usual his output was crude and rude, it wasn't enough to hide the fact that all of Freogan's outburst seemed to come from the same source.

    That is, him being a huge worrywart about everyone.

    The noogie with a stench of celery permeating it continued for a good minute or two, until Freogan finally deemed that he had driven some wisdom into Caster's head (if he had, that was a completely another case). Letting the Servant go, he sighed heavily and took a few steps back. Putting his hands on his hips, he glared down at Caster who, though not 'little' in any sense of the word, was still much shorter than Freogan, perhaps explaining the... unfortunate nickname he had given the Servant.

    "Ugh, sorry... been a little on the edge," Freogan finally said, heaving another sigh. "I'm hungover as hell, tired, and worst of all, went and got myself neck deep in shit last night."

    The bags under his eyes served as a proof his claims.

    "Drank too much since I met an old friend, and ended up... promising I'd help her with something," Freogan continued. "Now I've got to find four or more twats who ain't doing anything this summer."

  6. #6
    Flying Fairy Sunny's Avatar
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    Caster of Blue
    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Oxford Street

    Quote Originally Posted by Freogan
    "Your teeth'll rot off, that's what's wrong with it! Don't care if you're bloody Servant or not, plaque build-up ain't no joke!"

    "You'll end up eating nothing but mashed taters and soup through a straw!"
    "Mashed potatoes are good, though!" Caster protested, skipping over Freogan's admittedly valid point entirely. "Besides, I'm not altogether certain we still get plaque! Isn't that technically worth testing just to know for sur--ouch ouch ouch!"

    Flailing like every bit the petulant young child despite her height, the girl took a few hurried steps backwards and patted down her mussed up hair and ribbon for several seconds before giving up on taming it again, leaving a few unruly tufts on the right side.

    She pouted with puffed cheeks, wincing with her uncovered eye. The visor lens followed suit, her pixel eye narrowing to a half circle. Naturally, as a Servant, it was more an inconvenience than a pain, and it would have been none too difficult to avoid the celery-scented assault, even reverting to spirit form if she had to, but...

    “Safe and sound,” she breathed, checking on the candy-striped bag as if it were a precious child. She wasn't about to dissipate and put her lovely acquisitions at risk. “Really now, Mister Freogan...! A few sweets never hurt anyone, much!”

    She pointedly ignored the gentle pitter-patter of more than "a few" wrapped candies spilling out onto the market floor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freogan
    "Ugh, sorry... been a little on the edge," Freogan finally said, heaving another sigh. "I'm hungover as hell, tired, and worst of all, went and got myself neck deep in shit last night."

    "Drank too much since I met an old friend, and ended up... promising I'd help her with something," Freogan continued. "Now I've got to find four or more twats who ain't doing anything this summer."
    "Ah, I see, I see," Caster agreed, folding her arms around her bag with a sympathetic series of nearly authentic solemn nods. "No apology needed, we've all been there more than our fair share of mornings after, I'm sure. As long as you didn't wake up somewhere you regret, of course."

    The blonde servant blinked, tilting her head, her intent to ask for salad advice forgotten as her blue eye lit up eagerly. If the taller blond man was driven by worry, it was plain to see she was, as always, likewise driven by a single source - the desire to know, and if possible, meddle with great curiosity.

    "Oh? Oh oh oh?" she tilted further, chipper and bright. "Hm, that sounds dire indeed. What kind of something is that, I wonder?"
    Last edited by Sunny; October 30th, 2018 at 02:58 PM.

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  7. #7
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Freogan Deofolgeat
    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Oxford Street

    Quote Originally Posted by Caster of Blue
    "Oh? Oh oh oh? Hm, that sounds dire indeed. What kind of something is that, I wonder?"
    While Freogan looked like he wanted to comment more on the idea of excusing overabundance of candy with a so-called 'scientific' test of seeing whether or not Servants even got plaque in the first place... he decided to leave it be for the moment. Talking about what happened last night, and what Caster was now far too curious to hear about made the blonde magus wince uncomfortably.

    He remembered an annoying, nasally laugh. He remembered those wicked, far-too-smart eyes. He remembered a lithe body that could hold way too much alcohol within its confines.

    ... And then he remembered the hat.

    It was a very nice hat.

    No, scratch that, it was the bloody coolest hat he had ever seen.

    "There's this... ergh, an acquaintance I guess? I don't wanna call that twat a friend since she's... pretty dangerous. Anyways, she's someone who bothers me every now and then, popping for a visit when I least want her to," Freogan began explaining, starting his way to the beer aisle at the same time. His body needed some refreshments. "Well, she visited me yesterday and later I ended up drinking with her in a pub, and, well... I got roped into her bloody problems."

    It looked like Freogan was slowly building up a rant that was about to fall, along with curse words, from his lips.

    "See, apparently she inherited, or rather was saddled with, this mansion on the outskirts of London," Freogan began explaining as he browsed through the ales, absentmindedly putting some of them in Caster's basket. "So the bloody moron accepts and comes to take a look-see, and 'lo and behold! It's a complete dump! Nice on the outside, shit on the inside, just like her. And since the bills on the thing ain't been paid in ages, now she's scrounging up for money by making it a bed-and-breakfast type of thing. Or in this case it might be beer-and-breakfast."

    Ironically enough, as he said this Freogan shoved six more cans of stout onto the basket before taking look at the hard ciders. Instead of adding these straight away to what the Servant was carrying, he started showing them to her as if waiting her to decide which want she liked. And it showed this wasn't the first time he had done this, as all he hard ciders looked to be very fancy and tasty.

    "She's already got one victim. Some exchange student from Asia, I think? Toh... Toh... Tohsaka? Nah, I don't think that was it. Toh-something-or-other. Anyways, that ain't enough. She needs more people to live there. Five more... and 'cause I was bloody newscasted yesterday, I ended up promising to be one of them," Freogan continued his exhausted tale. "So now I have to help her find four more bellends to live in that dump for this summer, or she'll be eaten alive by debt-collectors. Bloody moronic, all things considered."

    With somewhat awkward expression on his face, Freogan scratched the back of his head.

    "In other words, an Atlas Alchemists aren't smart enough to avoid a debt-trap," the blonde man summed up. "Or maybe that's just her. Numerica's... sharp in some things, complete pillock in others."

  8. #8
    Flying Fairy Sunny's Avatar
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    Caster of Blue
    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Oxford Street

    Following along with the shopping basket hugged to her chest, Caster bobbed up and down as she followed along towards the beer, wine, and spirits aisle. She blinked a few times as he began loading her basket with various ales to go with her existing wine, but went along with it with a happy hum and nod.

    "Do continue, do continue," the girl encouraged both Freogan's rant and current actions alike, attentive and curious. As someone prone to rants and rambles herself, the least she could do is permit others the same indulgence, and she would be remiss to interrupt him before he'd actually explained it all. In the meantime, no matter how many drinks Freogan added to the basket, it remained perfectly balanced in her arms, despite their slender build and long gloves.

    Without ever taking her eye off the man or seeming to actually divert her attention from his explanation, she let her visor lens flick to each cider that he offered for her inspection, and answered each time without missing a beat.

    "Ah, that one's quite sweet! Definitely. Quite the mess, that."
    "Hm, both of these look worth trying, no? Hm, Asia, really?"
    "That one is better if you have whisky too. Really now, that much, Mister Freogan?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Freogan
    "In other words, an Atlas Alchemists aren't smart enough to avoid a debt-trap," the blonde man summed up. "Or maybe that's just her. Numerica's... sharp in some things, complete pillock in others."
    As he got to the end of his tale, Caster chuckled a bit nervously for the first time, struck by his summarization. Even at her height, her head just barely peeked out from the basket full of alcoholic beverages and a small handful of creative interpretations of what she'd actually been told to buy. But the expression peeking out was slightly sheepish and she blew some hair from her eye.

    "A-ahaha. If only intelligence was enough to avoid debt, no matter how brilliant one's idea..." she murmured, her blue eye and visor lens surreptitiously gazing away at a fixed point in space quite a few kilometers away. "Well, that's quite understandable. Wisdom and intelligence don't always go hand-in-hand in all matters..."

    Clearing her throat, she looked back with a sympathetic nod, nudging one of the bottles aside with her cheek so she could actually look back at the unfortunate magus. "Quite the bother, yes. After all, it doesn't sound like the coziest accommodations... You'll need a rather creative pitch, I daresay."
    Last edited by Sunny; November 15th, 2018 at 05:34 PM.

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  9. #9
    Arwyn Cadfael Penrith
    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Southwark - Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters

    A monitor flickered to life.
    Harsh white ceiling lights contrasted with the oppressive sweltering grey out the window overlooking the Thames.
    The dark, bitter scent of coffee gone cold wafted over Arwyn’s sleep-deprived countenance.

    Creak. The supposedly good-as-new office chair gave a soulless whine as he leaned over its back to briskly navigate the computer interface.

    Arwyn Penrith, employee of the Crown Prosecution Service, had just been called in to review the case of a murder that had occurred early this morning, in the Lee Valley Regional Park.

    A review of the currently known facts.

    Victim, Michael Trewatzki.
    Male in his thirties, a construction worker without family, who led a solitary life and was known to go on runs in the park. The report notes that he was found with knife stab wounds whose pattern bore an unusual resemblance to what one would expect from a victim set upon by a pack of dogs.

    A young woman seen to leave the park at 2:11 AM
    after witness reported of a violent altercation, falling within the rough window given for the time of death in the preliminary report from the coroner.

    Detained suspect, Lassy McKenzie,
    matching witness description of unidentified young woman and found to be carrying a silver knife soon after presumed time of offence.

    Forensics was underway; if all goes well, there should be a timely cross comparison of the knife with the wounds on the victim.

    Something about the case seemed strangely incongruent to him; he couldn’t quite place what. But it couldn’t be helped, as this was only at the very initial stages of the process, with only minimal evidence. His objective at the moment was to assist with directing the evidence collection, after all.

    Mysteries such as why the victim and the suspect could have possibly been in the remote and desolate park during off-limit hours, and how the witness had happened to hear such an altercation, will have to wait until they had a better view of the situation.

    For the meanwhile, he directed a request to schedule an interview with the witness.

    Lost in thought, he sat back down at his desk automatically.
    Having immediately spotted the newly deposited letters on his desk, Arwyn regarded them with dread.

    He didn’t even need to read them for the opening words to come to mind.

    My dear crown prosecutor---

    He really had no time for this, especially under present circumstances.

    …However, the sender had evidently seen fit to send not only a letter this time, but an inconveniently large package accompanying it.

    Were the box taking up less space in his office, he would have simply disregarded it;
    were it any other sender, he would have simply requested for the cleaning staff to handle it as appropriate.

    But there was no telling what could be in the contents of this box, however innocuously plain it looked. As such, Arwyn could not in good conscience simply hand it off to another unsuspecting innocent without knowing what he was faced with.

    Perhaps the letter would elucidate some clues as to the nature of the package.

    Barely suppressing a deep exhale that seemed somewhere between a groan and a sigh, Arwyn dutifully retrieved the letter opener---neatly stowed in a stationery holder by his work monitor---and in a deft memory-ingrained motion, unsealed the letter located at the top of the stack.

    No sooner than he opened it, that flagrant repetition of the word interesting instantly caught his eye and sent alarm bells ringing through his mind.

    He almost changed course right there, but steeled himself to read.

    My dear crown prosecutor:
    Hello again! I hope my recent letters found their way to you. I’m sure you are quite busy and I’m sure they must be a bit of a botheration, but I thought I should do something to show my appreciation for your time and attention. Good work by you and your fine department!

    These are a few interesting things that caught my eye and I am firmly of the belief that interesting things or experiences are always better shared. There are two in particular that I’m dying to receive a second opinion on.
    Of course, far be it for me to make assumptions what fun odds and ends you may already have at home(or the office, if one is more adventurous than anticipated?). Do let me know which one is more to your liking, if you would, especially if both are equally acceptable.

    Charmed, as always,

    Another strangled groan.

    He had no time for this.

    Whatever it was, it would have to wait, one way or another.

    A flash of realization dawns on him. He could simply quarantine this in his car; it was a short enough walk to the car park.
    While the loss of those minutes was one he would feel keenly, it was a small sacrifice to make compared to the risk of this mysterious package jeopardizing his entire workplace.

    And it was no exaggeration to say that Arwyn had a credible fear of precisely such a nonsensical disaster occurring at this critical moment. He had learned to discard all complacency of common sense when it came to the woman who went by "Caster of Blue."

    That reminded him…..

    He wondered how Saber was doing. He had hardly arrived home when he was called away for work again. Time enough to shower and exchange a few words with her, but not much more than that.

    Perhaps he should provide her with something to do when he was out, besides shopping and lounging about in his apartment with those video game consoles?
    But what?

    He thought of one of the game titles that he’d observed her to be quite fond of playing. It was a farm life simulator, it seemed.
    London, on the other hand, could not be farther from an idyllic farm.


    …Hm, gardening…?

    He made a mental note to look into that when things settle down again.

    In the meanwhile, he had a full course of urgent tasks to see to, some more to delegate, and Saber was perfectly capable of taking care of herself and not getting into trouble…or, at least, getting out of it even if she did.

    He eyed the box in front of him. It had trouble spelt all over it, and he wasn’t about to fall for such a glaring trap.

    Resolution in his brow, he hoisted up the large mystery box with a practiced motion. It was surprisingly heavy for its (for once) unremarkable packaging, but comparable to the stacks of case files he handled on a daily basis.

    Now, to sequester this.

    And so he headed out——


    —Only to promptly be crashed into, box in tow, by a girl who didn’t seem to be looking where she was going.

    “Sorry.” An instinctive courtesy, accompanied by genuine worry.

    The box and its unknown contents weren't an inconsiderable weight, after all, and she had knocked into it at quite the speed.

    “Are you all right?”

    A moment passes as Arwyn shifts the box, and a flash of recognition registers on his face at the besuited young woman. "Ah, Shiori. I'll be right back to the office. Could you see to it that the Witness Care Unit is notified of the interview request with the witness for the Lee Valley Park incident this morning?"

    "As a precaution, if nothing else."

    Given the nature of the crime, it was only prudent to have the unit be on standby. The scale of what the witness may or may not have seen was yet an unknown.

    A brief pause. Then, from a serious expression, Arwyn's countenance softened into a sheepish one. "I do apologize for the collision, I happened to be in a bit of a were you, I see."

    The faint hint of a quick smile, perhaps intended to be encouragement...?
    Last edited by Reiu; May 18th, 2019 at 01:05 AM.

  10. #10
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Mori Shiori
    19th of June, 2006
    Morning (Phase 1-1)
    Southwark - Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters


    Upon impact, a high-pitched squeak echoed through the street followed by the sight of Shiori throwing herself onto the ground. A soft thud could be heard from the collision between her body and the pavement.


    The young woman moaned as she laid sprawled on the ground. Her long, black hair spread messily across the walkway and her pencil skirt had ridden up a little from the fall, leaving an embarrassingly disheveled appearance to the woman. A few papers were likewise scattered around her, collateral damage from the fall. Evidently, the high-speed collision had completely blown the woman off her feet. For a moment, she laid there on her side with a pained expression while rubbing her wound, before she looked up and a flash of realization registered on her face.

    Oh, it’s just Arwyn. Nevermind.

    “Sir! I-I’m so sorry. I wasn’t looking.”

    In almost an instant, the woman scrambled to her feet and picked up the all-important fallen documents with swift motions. Once she had gotten on her feet, she clutched the documents closely with one arm and looked up at the taller man with sheepish eyes. Meanwhile, she used her free hand to hastily brush the dirt of her suit and tidy up her unprofessional appearance.

    “I’m… really sorry, sir… Please forgive me. I’ll be more careful from here on.”

    Her voice was quiet and deliberate. Was she afraid of being reprimanded or embarrassed to have displayed a moment of clumsiness? Either way, a tinge of rouge shaded her cheeks as she turned her head downwards, unable to look the man eye-to-eye.

    For any bystander that might have been watching, the relationship between these two was evident.

    The reason and method, however, were likely lost in time, but the result was still clear. Just as a soldier must move on after a war, so to was a certain teenage girl forced to grow up. And so, for some reason and somehow, the young lady of demure demeanor from a distant land had ended up throwing away her meaningless pride and found a job working as the paralegal of a certain familiar prosecutor.

    In other words, Shiori was now working as Arwyn Penrith’s direct subordinate.

    If such a future had been foretold back then years ago, it may have elicited a few laughs, but the present situation was nothing short of cold reality.

    “… Notify the Witness Care Unit, correct?”

    After the brief pause, she looked back up and responded to his orders with a clear, diligent tone.

    “I’ll get on it immediately. And… there’s no need to apologize to me, sir. It was my mistake.”

    She brushed off his apology lightly and continued heading back to the office, walking carefully this time. Perhaps it was because he smiled at her, but her countenance seemed to improve as her demeanor became a little more casual and friendly.


    Just as she passed by him though, her eyes finally caught proper sight of the box in his eyes.

    “Is that… another package, sir?”

    She seemed to speak of it with a little trepidation. It goes without saying that, as another member of Arwyn’s office, she was well aware of the danger such ‘gifts’ pose.

    "... You're really busy, right now, yes? If you’d like, I could dispose of it for you, so you can go back to work.”

    With a sunny smile, she held out her free hand to accentuate her offer. Those familiar with her might know that it was the smile of a martyr…

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