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Thread: [QUEST] - Fate/Blumenkrieg: The Threefold War of Flowers

  1. #121
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    Hmmm... I'm thinking 2.
    My fanfics:
    The Gift (F/SN): The last duel between Cú Chulainn and Scáthach.
    Passion Acknowledged (F/SN): Shinji X Shirou lemon
    He Was a Good King (F/SN): Was Beowulf a good king?
    A Fairy Tale of Love and Death (F/SN): A meeting between Scáthach and King Hassan.
    Palingenetic Descension (Tsukihime): The origin of the Tohno family's hybrid nature.

  2. #122
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    Too many good choices, but Gardens seems to be a good bet if we want to guarantee to see other people.
    Last edited by SleepMode; May 2nd, 2020 at 01:02 PM.
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

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  3. #123
    リビングデッド Living Dead
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    3 and 1.

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    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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    吸血鬼 Vampire Ayr's Avatar
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    1 and 4.

  6. #126
    リビングデッド Living Dead Wyvern's Avatar
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    Location: ???
    Time: ???
    I.D: Dolores Morella
    Condition: Recovering
    Magic Circuits: Unlocked

    Magus Profile!
    Origin: ???
    Element: ???
    Sorcery Trait: ???
    Crest: Second Foundation (Entomopathy)
    Circuits: Core
    Foundation: Shamanism
    Mana Output: 350 Units


    Parameters!
    Strength - E
    Agility - D
    Endurance - E
    Magic Energy - B
    Luck - E-
    Magecraft - B


    Inventory!
    - Mana Jewels (5 / 100%)




    Day 0 - The Teacher 2



    “Well, I suppose we should go from one garden to the next. It is right in the middle of things.” Firmly, confidently grasping the bronze handles, the young Magus scrunched her eyes up and pushed forward.

    There was a click, the sound of hinges creaking, a flash of colored light, and… then nothing.

    Blinking, the Warden of the Clocktower realized that she was standing in a large gazebo smack dab in the middle of, indeed, another garden. However, this one was both more and less fantastical.

    Less in that the air no longer felt thick, charged, like honey sticking to your skin. The air was no longer thick with sweet fragrances and the world lacked that slight cast to the light, as if to make everything just a bit more real than reality should be. No, the skies above were clear and bright blue with only a few, wispy clouds lazily floating in the distance. And while the gentle breeze was indeed cool and refreshing, the slight tang of salt in the air and the distant roar of waves crashing against ancient, weathered rocks felt more real than the in harmony birdsong from just moments before.

    The two headed man currently wrestling with a six armed monkey creature, however, was quite simply ridiculous.

    Turning around, the blonde haired woman noticed that the only evidence of where they’d come was a single perfectly smooth, bright blue door with a crystalline doorknob. The aforementioned door simply floating about an inch above the ground, utterly disconnected from the rest of reality around it.

    In fact, as she stared at the edges of the door a strange whisper began to tickle at the back of her mind. Leaning closer, an infinitesimal distortion around the curve of the thing began to twist and bulge. And, just as she was about to reach out and touch it, Dominika would have sworn she saw eyes staring back at her.

    “Woah!”

    Jumping back, she wheeled around to see her companion, rather sheepishly, fiddling with the front of her dress.

    “Ah, I apologize mam, but you shouldn’t stare too hard. We, um, may have used… outsiders for internal teleportation. Since they don’t directly interfere with other magical beings or really have grudges or preferences, you know?” Dolores reached out and grabbed her companion’s hand. “Come on over here! I promise you it’ll be better when you step away.”

    Guiding her newfound ally through the rolling plains of grassland, the young magus relished the feeling of smug satisfaction, the certainty that for once in the last twenty four hours she was in control.

    “Warden Dominika, allow me to officially welcome you to the Faculty of Spiritual Evocation, or more accurately, to the Garden of Eulyphs”

    The woman seemed… disturbed? No, perhaps a better word would be confused.

    Yes, though she hid her emotions well, the young heiress knew how to spot the bewilderment which permeated a first time visitor. It was something of a rite of passage after all, when introducing a guest to the faculty - always try to spook them.

    It evoked a poignant kind of nostalgia in Dolores.

    Not to mention there was something thrilling about walking back into her world.

    Something most magi didn’t understand about shamanists and their folk was just how… strange… how alien their craft could be. They did not seek what existed in this world, concrete results and answers. No, those like Dolores, who lived at the boundary of the physical and the fantasy, the certain and the ever changing, they weren’t the kind one would find skuking the hallways of the Clocktower looking for political favors and power.

    No, such things held no value to those from beyond.

    Walking the streets of London. Running through the tunnels underneath humanity’s jungles of concrete may have been a life threatening adventure. But there were things here that would put the most feverish of dreams to shame.

    From dealing with daemons, to courting the fey, to binding apparitions of the long gone, and denizens of dimensions both high and low.

    The Faculty of Spiritual Evocation was not a place for the close minded.

    Those kinds of people didn’t last long. Because, at the end of the day, what they practiced here wasn’t magecraft. They didn’t seek True Magic, not like the other, more normal Magi. Because they sought out alien Truths. A glimpse at the underpinnings of not just this reality, but all possible realities. Beyond Gaia, Beyond Akasha, Beyond the ROOT. What they drove towards was beyond mortality, greater than humanity ever could be, and more far flung than even the most alien of gods.


    They sought the Truth. And beyond the Veil of Lies, little made sense to the sane, the greedy, or the wise.

    A strange jellyfish floated besides them, its bulbous form happily gliding by weightlessly, as if it were moving underwater despite there being none. It didn’t even seem to register their presence, translucent flesh shining with a kaleidoscope.


    That was probably the mildest creature in the garden. Because, even as they walked deeper into the rows of flowers and walls of ancient trees, small, blue painted men, no bigger than a thumb, began to watch them from the branches. A small pack of large dogs gave a greeting bark before running off straight into a wall, bursting into shadow and flowing through. Flaring into sight, a beautiful peafowl gave a sharp “preck” and then snatched up a glowing, wriggling worm from the dirt.

    “Grímsvötn?”

    Dolores stopped pulling her patron along by the hand, instead rushing towards what Dominika had thought was merely a particularly large rock feature.

    “Grim! Come on, wake up! Where’s Master?”

    Now clambering up the side of an orange and grey colored hillock, the young Magus utterly abandoned decorum in a wash of excitement.

    “You lazy thing, come on, we need to find Master!”

    Not quite understanding was going on, the Warden simply took in what she realized was a single, utterly massive tree. Easily more than thirty meters tall, its boughs stretched so far and so wide she had thought it was actually some form of artificial ceiling. The grey, seemingly stony texture of the bark had melded with the now shifting mound next to it, and the only reason she wasn’t trying to take a closer look at the glinting, golden fruits hanging from its branches was the fact an utterly massive serpentine head had promptly picked a pouting Dolores up in its jaws, pulled her down between two legs that were more small columns, and then whatever this Grímsvötn was gave a loud snore.

    But not before ruining the young girl’s hairstyle with a long lick of its serpentine tongue.

    “Grim! Stop that, you’re slobbering all over me.” The young magus cried out in dismay.

    Looking closely, the Warden finally managed to get a better look at the creature.

    It was, for lack of better comparison, a massive lizard, the size which emulated its long line ancestors if not in format then in sheer scale. With scales of glimmering obsidian, peeking up through the orange and grey coat that even now slipped away into nothing, and an underbelly shining with the like of burning coal, the smell of smoke mingled with the scent of the earth and the fresh air of a mountainside.

    ‘A Salamander?’ She blinked, astonished.

    Now, by themselves Salamanders were known as minor spirits of flame normally used by alchemists in their processes. A practice that had fallen out of favor as the creatures became less common in the world.

    But something was wrong.

    This sort of scale was beyond a simple familiar!

    Even now she could feel a wave of heat wafting from the massive creature, the chill of London’s evening washed away by the scalding presence of this… being.

    “Lady Morello.” She called. “Do you require assistance?”

    The heiress sputtered in surprise, hands rubbing lizard spit from her face.

    “Yes! I mean, no! Sorry about this, Lady Martinitz. This lazy piece of charcoal just doesn’t want to cooperate!”

    Well, that told her exactly nothing.

    “Who would this spirit be?”

    Dolores perked up.

    “Oh! I forgot to introduce you.” Reaching upwards, she tapped the massive spirit’s snout with her hands, seemingly unaffected by the heat. “This is Grímsvötn. He is a volcano spirit and my Master’s familiar. I was hoping he would be able to tell us where he is.”

    The Warden chuckled as the familiar pulled the girl towards it. Holding her like one would a teddy bear.

    “I assume negotiations haven’t been successful.”

    The green haired girl let out a sigh of exasperation.

    “More like completely ignored. Nevermind the fact I can barely understand him half the time, this guy is still half asleep!”

    Suibhne chose that precise moment to pop into existence, jumping off Dolores’s shoulder and out of the massive lizard’s grip. The young shaman’s reaction was, of course, measured and understanding, as befitting one with her heritage.

    “Traitor! Get back here!”

    The Cait Sidhe chuckled.

    “Sorry Kitten, not taking my chances with that thing. It might like you, but I’d rather he not wake up, see me, and think you brought him a snack.”

    “He wouldn’t… ok. Fair enough.” Dolores’s protestations immediately faded into terse agreement. “Grim likes to eat. A lot. And you’re just enough to be a hors d'oeuvre.”


    The trio seemed to be at a stand still, the massive spirit had yet to move again, and neither the Sidhe nor the Warden could approach it carelessly. Dolores herself felt a pang of annoyance, really, of all times for her Teacher’s partner to be lazing around, didn’t he notice the massive clash of powers earlier?

    There is no way something of his caliber wouldn’t be stirred into action by something like that.

    Not when older spirits tended to be so possessive and territorial.

    Then again…

    ‘I wouldn’t really put it beyond him to sleep through the fight.’ Grímsvötn wasn’t a simple flame spirit. It was the spirit of a volcano, meaning that remaining in stasis for long swathes of time was in his nature.

    Hibernating like their homes.

    She couldn’t afford to wait for him to finally wake up, however.

    ‘Meaning I have to jolt him.’

    That would be fun.

    Not.

    “Alright, you two. Move back a bit. I’m gonna need some space!” She waved them back, the feeling glowing embers pleasantly pressing against her back. Really, had it been any other time of the day, she would have likely welcomed a nap with the Salamander.

    But now wasn’t the time.

    Taking a deep breath, Dolores felt her skin tingle with power as her circuits came alive with energy. Words flowing unbidden through her mind’s eye.

    The Soul is the Key to the Lock


    The Lock is the Key to the Spirit


    The Spirit is the Key to the Gate

    The Gate is the Key to the World

    All are Connected


    The Soul


    The Key


    The Lock


    The Spirit


    Magic was simple. Beyond the pretension and the posturing and the grandiose procliminations… it was concetually almost pathetic what magic actually was. And magecraft was a pale shadow of that. Because, at the end of the day, it was all self delusion.

    To use magic was to lie.

    And so Dolores lied.

    She lied to herself and to the world around her and she believed in the fairytale that was her great big lumbering hunk of raw fiery power of a friend.

    Warmth blossomed in her breast.

    Breathing in, it spread to her finger tips.

    Breathing out, it contracted to her chest.

    A single, burning ember so dim that it almost snuffed itself out.

    Breathing in, oxygen rushed into the flame within her soul.

    Breathing out, this time it pushed through her fingers and into Grimsvotn.

    Like a trickle of water, the merry, crackling flames of a warm hearth burned through her veins and her nerves and through her very bones, the elemental energy pushing into the salamander.

    At that moment, a connection was formed. The tiny, insignificant speck of flame that was her power and the slumbering, unimaginably ancient temple of pure elemental power that was this ancient beast. This alien thing smiled at her, all teeth and burning desire to consume, before wrapping around her little spark and pushing back into her. Primordial flames touched her soul. But she did not cry.

    Because these flames did not burn her. No, they wrapped her in an embrace of undiluted power. They were comforting and calming and full of an almost paternal love. Indulgent, a touch stern, and undeniably affectionate.

    All of this took place in the blink of an eye.

    Coming too, the young Magus found her companions staring down at her, the Lady Martinitz appearing worried and confused. Suibhne just booped her on the nose.

    “Please warn us when you’re about to hook your soul up to a primordial spirit, Kitten.”

    Grim was now sitting on her stomach, about the size of a lap dog, eagerly wagging its tale and chirping at her.

    “Sorry Suibhne, I was just trying to move us along quickly.”

    Seeing her partner’s blush of embarrassment, the cat gave an indulgent sigh.

    “Next time, don’t fall over and there won’t be a problem. Ok?”

    Eagerly nodding, Dolores agreed.

    “Ok!”

    Dominika held out her hand and helped Dolores to her feet.

    “So, young one, did you find out where your Master is?”

    This time, she shook her head.

    “No, Grim doesn’t know either. I got a flash of Master feeding him a whole aurochs and then putting him down for a nap. Maybe… someone here knows? Or maybe he needed to go deeper into the garden, where this cute little guy might scare away someone, or something, he wanted to speak to. There’s also the chance he was running a difficult experiment and is in his labs. I, uh, I don’t really know.”

    “Well then, what do you suggest? You know him best and I trust your judgement.”

    Watching as the young woman cradled the shining, black salamander like a baby, as a similarly impressive faerie wove between her legs, the Warden of the Clocktower had the queerest feeling something important was happening.

    And for the life of her, she thought it would be centered on this girl in front of her.

    ‘I hope for all our sakes I’m wrong.’

    Choice Time!
    Dolores' search for her Teacher continues despite her finding the man's own familiar. Taking into account what information she has found, what should she do next?

    1. Search the Garden! There is a chance that Teacher might still be around, if you go deeper into it, you might run into him.

    2. Ask around! There must have been someone around who saw him. Perhaps you will run into someone interesting, too.

    3. Leave the Garden! There is no need to stick around longer than necessary, you still have to search other areas of the Faculty so it would be best not to waste time.




  7. #127
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

    [Collection of my Servant Sheets]
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  8. #128
    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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  9. #129
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    My fanfics:
    The Gift (F/SN): The last duel between Cú Chulainn and Scáthach.
    Passion Acknowledged (F/SN): Shinji X Shirou lemon
    He Was a Good King (F/SN): Was Beowulf a good king?
    A Fairy Tale of Love and Death (F/SN): A meeting between Scáthach and King Hassan.
    Palingenetic Descension (Tsukihime): The origin of the Tohno family's hybrid nature.

  10. #130
    リビングデッド Living Dead Wyvern's Avatar
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    Location: ???
    Time: ???
    I.D: Dolores Morella
    Condition: Recovering
    Magic Circuits: Unlocked

    Magus Profile!
    Origin: ???
    Element: ???
    Sorcery Trait: ???
    Crest: Second Foundation (Entomopathy)
    Circuits: Core
    Foundation: Shamanism
    Mana Output: 370 Units


    Parameters!
    Strength - E
    Agility - D
    Endurance - E
    Magic Energy - B
    Luck - E-
    Magecraft - B


    Inventory!
    - Mana Jewels (5 / 100%)




    Day 0 - The Teacher 3



    “Well, we do need to move quickly. It seems like we could keep looking, but that might take too long. However….” Dolores trailed off, thinking about how to put this next statement delicately. “This faculty is composed of… individuals who… do not… think like… most
    other people do.”

    The implication was clear, do not apply common sense when talking to them.

    She actually looked a bit uncomfortable at saying that, enough that the older woman walked over to pat Dolores on the shoulder before the younger Magus began rambling.

    “I don’t want you to think anyone here is scary or mean, because even the ones that are on the more chaotic side have a reason to be, and it’s always good. Plus, compared to your average magus, people here tend to be really, really nice if you don’t antagonize them. Almost none of us are actually competing directly and even those that are still help each other. Our work is just too dangerous not to. It’s just that sometimes it can be dangerous because not all us remember that we need to worry about magecraft or stary spells or-”

    The blonde warden simply placed her hand on the top of Dolores’s green bob.

    “It’s ok. I know what you were trying to say. This is your faculty and it has rules of its own. But no matter what, you’re all comrades, no?”

    Blushing, rather fiercely so, the young shaman looked up. And, despite how much she wanted to, she managed to not push against the soft hand currently running through her short locks.

    Instead she sighed wistfully.

    “Yes mam. This place, my fellow shamans, are very important to me. After… after my parents passed away, Master Harfang took me in and I started living here with him as an apprentice. I thought I would have to watch over my shoulder constantly, but instead I got welcomed in like family. Some of the faculty always gather together for my birthday.” She giggled slightly. “Even if some of them sometimes remember it late. I don’t want to speak ill of them, or for anyone to look down on them because they’re… unusual.”

    The heiress held the fire spirit closer to her chest, the small creature letting out a friendly chirp.

    “We still have to find this Teacher of yours, Kitten.” Suibhne piped in. “Where should we start?”

    “First, let’s ask around. If Grím is here, than Teacher was too. Someone must have seen where he went.”

    Her Teacher wouldn’t just leave the volcano spirit unattended in such a… volatile area.

    Or well, she hoped he wouldn’t at least.

    “Very well then. Lead the way.” The warden patted her on the shoulder again, this time more energetically.

    Dolores appreciated the gesture.

    Taking a look around, the young Shaman could see someone sitting at a nearby bench, a young man wearing a rather… unique patchwork suit. His tie was bundled up, as if the one tying it couldn’t decide on what knot to use. He also wore different shoes, each from separate sets.

    His eyes, however, were the most glaring aspect about the young man.

    Mainly for their color. And while it wasn’t that unusual for magi to have unique eyes due to heritage and circumstance, the man’s eyes couldn’t seem to settle on color or shade, changing every few seconds or at random intervals.

    At one point they were acid green pools surrounded by black, and by another they lacked any and all color.

    Looking closer, she could see a few small forms hovering around him, small glowing spots of light shaped like butterflies. They surrounded him, flapping around lazily as if unaffected by wind or gravity.

    Each flap of their wings seemed to match the shifting of the colors of his eyes, each time their light would pulse and flutter. Eventually, he turned to look at them.

    Somehow, one eye went to Dominika and the other fell on her, half his mouth turned down in a frown and the other half up in a smile, he seemed to try to stand, curtsy, bow, wave, raise his hand, and pat the bench next to him all at once.

    “Hello Master Beauregard. Good morning.” Dipping down into a textbook curtsy, Dolores reached out with her entomopathy and coaxed one of the butterflies to her. “How are you doing today?”






    “We are well, young Magus. And most pleased to see you again. 114 of us wish to express happiness that you are well after the events of this morning, 87 of us wish to express concern that the Lady Warden need be your escort, and the rest of us wish to say ‘Hullo’. Hullo, Dolores.”

    For a moment, a brief flash of color and sound and sheer presence, there seemed to be 262 separate Magi superimposed on one another. Some were living horrors, twisted monstrosities of flesh and magic. Others were machines, pipes and tubes and gears tearing through skin and muscle and shattered bone. Most seemed normal.

    Roughly.

    No Magus was actually completely the same, after all.

    “I apologize for my bluntness, Master, but I’m searching for Master Harfang. Do you know if he’s here?”

    For a moment, the strange man’s entire body seized up. Like it was trying to do 262 separate things at once. After several, rough stutters his mouth formed a few shapes and sounds before words came out.

    “We have reviewed all of our memories, analyzing them through our collective abilities, and can only recall his aura on this level in the morning, when he left the most beautiful and noble Grimsvotr at the Tree. 93 of us wish to smirk and inform you that your boyfriend is further in the grove. We consent to this.”

    Beauregard smirked.

    “Your boyfriend is further in the grove. And it is in a most secluded area.”

    Dolores colored in embarrassment.

    “M-Master Beauregard. This is hardly proper.” She stammered.

    The man twitched for a few seconds before forming a teasing smile.

    “We believe the correct response to your statement would be ‘we don’t give a damn’. Though 32 of us wish to express their congratulations on your future nuptials.”

    Her traitorous familiar chuckled, mangy cat that it was.

    “See, Kitten? We got an entire referendum on whether you have a crush or not.” The bronze cat slinked over to her shoulder, eyes shining with an otherworldly playfulness.

    The heiress could feel a migraine coming on.

    “Even so. We appreciate your help, Master. We should set an appointment later this week, once this situation is behind us.”

    The collective offered a twitchy smile in return.

    “We would very much appreciate it.”

    “Thank you sir. But, if he is waiting, we should go. Good afternoon and be well Master Beauregard.”

    “Be well, young Magus. And good luck on your search. Hmm. 3 of us feel unease. Unusual. We will think on this.”

    The group of magi and spirits bid their farewells, and walked towards the inner sanctum of the garden, an area covered by much larger trees which seemed to form a trail of shade. Making it easier to see the hundreds of butterflies, not unlike those who’d been with Beauregard, fluttering about.

    Dolores hummed in curiosity as one of them floated towards her, landing on an extended finger for her to admire.

    If her memory served her right, these were Spectral Monarchs, a breed of butterflies created by someone as a favor to the Faculty of Zoology. Beautiful colors, mixed between green and blue which mystified the eyes as light glimmered on their scales. A species created to sense the passage of souls as people died.

    They were attracted to just about anything with a soul, common wisdom dictating that the closer you were to dying, the more of them would come to you.

    Which was a load of hogwash, of course. They were modelled after greek psychopomps, but lacked the ability to actually carry over souls to the afterlife. Instead, they accumulated residual mana around abandoned areas and stored them for transfer, normally feeding it to the many trees and plans at the Garden.

    ‘I wonder…’ A mental nudge was all it took to wake up her emtomopathy implant.

    She’d lost most of her swarm at the tunnels, with the rest having likely been taken by the Enforcers as evidence. She would have to enquire about having them returned later, if there were indeed any left.

    The Monarch jumped off her hand, doing a small dance as it flew back towards the other magus.

    ‘Something to investigate at a later date, perhaps.’ She smirked lightly.

    They were pressed for time, after all.

    “You have yet to say anything about this young man, Heiress Morello. From the way your colleague spoke, you two are… close.”

    There was no accusation. Only curiosity. It wasn’t rare for young heirs to form relationships of mutual benefit among one another, cementing alliances for the future. Truly, the woman wasn’t wrong to expect the same from Dolores. She was the last scion of a declining branch. And having allies was the fastest way to defend her position.

    “In a way, you are right. We are both apprentices under Master Harfang and have known each other for years now. The rumour mill… enjoys the implications of our relationship, though I assure you we have no romantic involvement.”

    It would just feel strange, after all. And there was something to be said about not biting the hand that feeds.

    Especially when it was from such a prestigious family.

    Even if her hormones did sometimes pull her thoughts in a certain direction.

    “We weren’t the only ones selected, of course, but our fellow understudies enjoy protected positions amongst the Faculty. One should not accuse an Oracle of seeking out the pleasures of the flesh. As for the rest, they did not appreciate the gifts they had been given. Some died, some went insane, others left. Looking for Masters that did not hold them to much of a standard. In the end, the three of us remained. I am most fond of my brother and sister in Spirit.”

    Silence, comfortable and light, answered the young woman’s declarations. Indeed, even a mundane would be bold indeed to make such a declaration. But for a Magus to declare another their sibling was indeed a serious statement indeed.

    And it was an excellent opportunity to take in the garden around her. Because it was most strange indeed. Even though they’d only walked a few meters, the gentle hedge rows and lazily drifting butterflies had been replaced by a thickly wooded area. The ground was clear, smooth earth, while the dozens of species of trees entangled themselves in each other. Almost wild in how their twisted, gnarled branches embraced one another. Even then, odd creatures, such as a small, lemur like animal, or a glowing white owl, moved through the branches. Blessedly, none of them expressed hostility and all of them kept their distance.

    ‘Advantages of carting a volcano spirit around, I suppose.’ She looked down at the blissfully asleep salamander.

    Better not to disturb him.

    Eventually, coming to a small clearing, the duo heard the burble of a small brook in the distance.

    Stepping into it, they noticed a few collections of bushes, a bed of leaves covering the area, and, queerly, a young man resting his head in the lap of a very, very beautiful woman. She was running her fingers through his hair and humming something neither of the women could make out.

    She was by no means normal either.

    Wearing a long flowing robe of white, the woman’s hair pooled around her like a curtain of verdant tresses similar to Dolores’ own. Only a deeper forest green as opposed to her light grassy tone. Vines and roots seemed to sprout from the open ends of her dress, forming strange patterns over the cloth.

    The boy laying on her lap was, in contrast, a tad more mundane.

    His rusty red hair was uncommon, but his black trousers, loose, grass stained, dress shirt, and deep green vest laid by his side. The boy’s eyes were blissfully close, his chest slowly rising and falling under the lull of sleep.

    He was innocent. Meek, even. His shoulders were narrow and there wasn’t even a wisp of stubble on his chin. The lad wasn’t that young, not with how tall and long legged he was, but his skin fair and there was a hint of baby fat on his cheeks. Even his hands seemed soft and gentle and the whole of his being seemed almost… maiden like.

    Yet that too was a lie. Because the bond between spirit and summoner was apparent. From the way every blade of grass, every leaf on every branch, and every flower in the spring breeze turned and bowed to them. Even as they watched, small vines crawled across his skin and caressed his body. That too, was proof of their bond, because the mere presence of the spirit empowered all life around them. Nature, and raw fertility, was blossoming. Not even night shade and wisteria and primrose and moonflowers stayed hidden, blooming in the slivers of light that slipped past the grasping fingers of the canopy above.

    “We should wait.” Dolores smiled at the beautiful spirit, politely dipping her head. “Luscinia will tell him we’re here.”


  11. #131
    リビングデッド Living Dead Wyvern's Avatar
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    Truly this was the most difficult task she had ever faced before in her life. Lips twitching, Dominika did everything in her power not to chuckle. Because, somehow, Dolores was on the ground, squirming about, as Suibhne plopped down on her chest, purring as the spirit’s paws kneading the little softness that could be found, while the salamander, Grimsvotn, had settled down her stomach, half sprawled over his friend’s legs, knees, and half her torso, and was loudly snoring.

    Somehow, the rumbling echo of the volcano spirit was barely diminished by the change in his size.

    The Warden would be well within her right to feel… disheveled by the last few developments.

    Beyond the strangeness of the Faculty of Spiritual Evocation, the woman felt like she had gone through a rollercoaster of emotions since the early morning. The attack of a Heroic Spirit of all things was more than enough to leave most shaken, but the realization that one of her oldest friends hadn’t made it out of the mess had… hit hard.

    She was a professional, of course.

    She would grieve later, but now she had to escort the sole known witness of the incident through this wonderland of madness and mayhem. This task was not something she had planned on wasting much time on, to be honest, but her thoughts had just stuttered to a halt as she took in the truly unique sights around her.

    The life of an enforcer was simple.

    A strict code to be followed. Missions to be undertaken.

    There was no room for flexibility, only the cold calculus necessary to swiftly take down a target. It was easy.

    This?

    This was not.

    “I admit to being… curious Lady Morello.” She whispered, careful not to disturb the duo.

    “Hmm?” The young girl hummed. “What about?”

    “She is very powerful, even I can feel that, but I must question their physical similarity. Is she a simulacrum of his mother? Or is he kin to this spirit?”

    “Unfortunately, it’s not my place to answer that question. At least not in a satisfactory manner.” Raising her hand, the young woman forestalled her companion’s swift apology. “It’s perfectly all right. Just remember that our companions are that, companions. A true Shaman bonds with her, or his, Familiar Spirit. And Luscinia is what you suspect and far, far more.”

    With a wan smile, the verdette pushed her spirit friends aside and climbed to her feet.

    “Ask him if you would like, because it seems like his nap has finished.”

    Copper eyes laughed at them from across the glade. Climbing to his feet, the young man tucked his shirt back into his pants and adjusted the tops of his boots. Now presentable, he quickly made his way to them; long strides eating up the distance as his cloak fluttered in the breeze. With the demure woman currently flanking him, he looked almost like a prince out of a fairytale. Impossibly charming and beautiful.

    “Ah, my fair ladies, I apologize for receiving you in such an unseemly manner. With stained clothes and no grace. Immediately, I beg your pardon.” Stopping a respectful distance away, he gave them a deep bow. “My dear sister in Spirit, my Lady Warden. It is a pleasure. And to you Lady Martinitz, my name is Bram Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri. Third in line for the family Lordship. Again, it is a pleasure.”

    Dolores stood before the young man with all the poise and grace of a young lady, arm outstretched towards her guest and technical bodyguard.

    “We are grateful for your time, Milord.” Her lips quirked in amusement. “It gladdens this one to make your acquaintance once more. Our trip has been tiring, and while this one would wish nothing more than to remain in your company, we are pressed for time in our endeavor.”

    The young man’s eyes sparkled in interest.

    “Oh? Then speak and be heard, Milady. Under the branches of Eulyphis, this one promises to render whatever aid you require.”

    Standing across from the young man and the spirit woman, Dolores looked at the perfect picture of a fine noble lady, flanked by her own familiar while carrying the salamander spirit. Clear amusement glowing from her eyes as she took a knee before the young Lord to be.

    “If you would find it within the bounds of your grace and mercy, I would beg your aid and assistance. Your protection and succor. And should I be set upon my foes, you sword and wand. I am but a humble Magus, seeking to work her craft. Surely, oh mighty Lord, you would deign to grant me refuge?”

    Puffing himself up, full of pride and power, the young man tried to reply.

    “I… I shall grant you… oh bugger.” He snorted. “Oh ROOT Dolores, that was just too much.” He bent double, laughing and cawing. “Come here you silly girl, come here and give me a hug!”

    He was taller than her by a great deal and stronger too. The young man wrapped his arms around Dolores’s stomach, ignoring the squawking spirits, and pulled her tight.

    Laughing, he began to spin her around and around, pulling his friend tight as the Warden and spirits merely watched in either confusion, exhaustion, or amusement. Depending on their temperament, of course.

    Eventually, Bram’s boot caught in a small root and the pair went tumbling. A gentleman to the last, he managed to twist undenereath his friend as they fell, the green haired girl landing on his chest with a shriek of good humor. Collapsing, she surrendered far too early, because the young man clearly wasn’t done gently bullying his junior.

    No, he flipped her onto her back before quite pointedly pinching his cheeks.

    “You know, I’m really, really glad to see you Little Alice, but you didn’t even bother to call me. Not even after you were seized by the Enforcers.”

    In that moment, Dominika actually realized how things had changed. Luscinia, the familiar of the young Bram, was standing between her and the pair of children. And watching her with a polite smile. A polite smile she recognized as belonging to the kinds of people planning to kill you.

    And while the salamander had simply flopped down and gone back to sleep, the cait sidhe was watching both her mistress and her.

    The enforcer’s fingers twitched.

    “So tell me. Are you actually in trouble?”

    There was worry and anger and fear in his eyes. Enough that Dolores felt genuinely awful for not contacting him.

    “I’m sowwy.”

    It was hard to apologize with any dignity when your cheeks were being pulled.

    Bram sighed and smiled.

    “It’s fine Dolores. I won’t even tell our new friend that your middle name is Vorpal. And that your father named you that because-oomph!”

    Tackling the older boy to the ground, the Heiress Morello, with absolute dignity, dropped her weight on his stomach, rubbed her red cheeks, and gave her friend a glare that spoke of unfathomable revenge.

    “Uh… hehe, I guess I shouldn’t have pinched your cheeks so much?”

    “No.” Green locks shook with the movement of her head. “You shouldn’t have forgiven me so quickly.”

    Locking the older boy’s head in a hold, the heiress painfully ground her knuckles on top of his head, roughly pulling and grinding away at his red locks. His reaction was immediate, limbs flailing about as he tried and failed to escape her grasp.

    “What was it I said about my middle name!?”

    “Not to!” He gasped in surprise.

    “Not to what!?” She barked, cheeks aflame with embarrassment.

    “Not to say it! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! I’m sorry! Please stop!”

    His pleading, unfortunately, went unheard as the shaman girl growled in annoyance, hand blurring in friction, pale skin reddening as she exacted punishment upon the noble scion with all the annoyance of a scorned lady.

    “Stop! I’m gonna go bald!”

    “You really should!” Her red eyes narrowed. “Maybe then that pretty boy brain of yours will start working right!”

    By the wayside, the Warden watched the exchange alongside the group of spirits.

    “Shouldn’t we intervene?” She hedged a guess.

    “There is no need.” The nature spirit waved her off. “The Young Master and Lady Morello have always been close. This could be considered one of their daily rituals. Completely normal.”

    Somehow, Dominika couldn’t help but disagree.

    Family feuds had been declared over lesser insults. This? A young woman from a failing family laying hands on the sole male heir of another, much older, and more powerful, family? This was the sort of scenario that led to public executions back when they were still in fashion.

    “Even so.” The bronze cat interjected. “We are running out of time. So, if you would help us Lady Dryad, we would appreciate it.”

    Still smiling, the woman simply flicked her eyes to her master. Stiffening, he actually ceased his flailings. Something that reminded Dolores that she had a guest here as well.

    “Ah.”

    The Lady Martinitz coughed into her hand.

    “I see.”

    Blushing, the two teens disentangled themselves. Dolores, being quicker to her feet, helped her fellow apprentice off the ground. Walking back over to Dominika, the pair made a bit of a sight. But, for some reason, the duo didn’t separate. Indeed, it wasn’t until the Warden cast her eyes at their intertwined fingers did they realize that they were, in fact, still holding hands.

    “Oh! My! I’m so sorry Bram.” Ducking her head, and pointedly not meeting the smirking Dominika’s eyes, the youngest Magus there busied herself with her two spirits.

    “Ah, is it so bad to hold my hand? You know, you wouldn’t get in nearly so much trouble with the rest of the Clock Tower if you just married me!”

    Dolores’s eyes flashed dangerously.

    “Oh? What is that I hear? I might be mistaken but I just heard someone begging me for a haircut.”

    The boy stiffened.

    “You wouldn’t dare?”

    The smile she offered back was as warm as a tundra.

    “Then you should not speak such silliness out loud, mi’lord.”

    The Dryad, sensing another altercation, walked towards the pair, taking the young lord to her side and allowing the Cait Sidhe to take the young Shaman’s.

    “I believe you had a question you wished to ask, Lady Morello.” She gave her a kind smile.

    One that sent a pang of distant memories through the shaman’s heart. For a second, she would have sworn she’d seen a smile just as gentle and indulgent on her own mother’s lips.

    Still, the past was the past.

    “Yes, I suppose, I should let you know about my… altercation with Policies. The Lady Warden did escort me herself to ensure that nothing untoward happened. We are looking for Master Harfang, do you happen to know where he is?”

    Bram frowned, his noble and immaculately groomed brows turning down.

    “Escort? And I’m not sure where the Master is. Honestly, he just gave Penelope and myself the day off. If he hadn’t confined us to the faculty I’d have been out looking for you when I didn’t see you at lunch. First, though, I think you need to tell me what happened this morning.”

    Honest concern once more filled his face and Dolores was reminded of how utterly terrible a poker player the boy was. Never mind that fact she’d seriously worried him.

    “Perhaps the… condensed version, then.”

    Dolores wasn’t one to waffle about or prevaricate. And she hated lying by omission too. So while her explanation of the events of the morning had been dry and clinical, the red haired Magus had gone red in the face and was close to spitting with rage.

    “That arrogant, idiotic, fat sack of whale lard! I’ll have his skin flayed for daring to touch you! I’ll have his entire family thrown out of the Clocktower! Give me a moment and I’ll contact my father. If some low life from Policies thinks that just because the Bartholemeloi currently holds the vice directorship that means he gets to touch my best friend I’ll have the whole bleeding place burned to the ground! Damn that jumped up enchanter and her inability to keep her worms in line.”

    Dolores blinked.

    ‘Wow, maybe I did worry him a bit too much.’ She’d never heard him threaten bloody murder on other people before.

    Still. That wasn’t the point she was trying to make.

    “Nevermind Bellefronte. We have a much bigger issue going on. The city was attacked earlier, Bram. By a Heroic Spirit, no less.”

    “And you were almost torn apart by a flaming baby zombie because that idiot was playing politics.” The lad’s eyes turned flinty. “Besides, I can’t punish a Servant for hurting you. Yet, anyways. So at the very least I can make sure that every idiot in the Tower knows you have the full protection of the Sophia-Ri.”

    Sighing, the fight went out of him a bit and pulled the much smaller girl close.

    “I’m sorry. I should have listened to my gut and come to find you. I… went to Penny. She said you’d be safe, but that something else was interfering. So she wasn’t sure. But she did know something bad would have happened if I’d left the Faculty. Please, forgive my cowardice Little Alice.”

    Breathing in the deep, earthy scent, born of long hours spent in greenhouses and in nature, that clung to her friend’s clothes, Dolores simply smiled and hugged him back.

    “Well. I suppose there are a few options. Your cousin Marcus is here, he was worried about you but didn’t say anything to me because my father was there too. I think he’s still around. Or we could go visit Penny at the Study? If nothing else, she would be overjoyed to see you. And it’s entirely possible that Master is just in the labs. If it’s that important, we can go look for him there ourselves. What do you think is best?”

    Thinking about how to respond, the young entomopath let her mind drift to the butterflies she was currently connected to and pondered her choices.

    ‘Where to go next?’

    Choice Time!
    Dolores and company have finally gained some information! Where should they go next?

    1. Look for Dolores Cousin

    2. Look for Penelope at the Study.

    3. Check up the Labs.


  12. #132
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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  16. #136
    1. ! Because if Marcus is worried about us now, I can't wait to get him even more worried with our future stunts. Let's unleash the stress ! \o/

  17. #137
    リビングデッド Living Dead Wyvern's Avatar
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    Location: ???
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    I.D: Dolores Morella
    Condition: Recovering
    Magic Circuits: Unlocked

    Magus Profile!
    Origin: ???
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    Sorcery Trait: ???
    Crest: Second Foundation (Entomopathy)
    Circuits: Core
    Foundation: Shamanism
    Mana Output: 380 Units


    Parameters!
    Strength - E
    Agility - D
    Endurance - E
    Magic Energy - B
    Luck - E-
    Magecraft - B


    Inventory!
    - Mana Jewels (5 / 100%)




    Day 0 - The Teacher 4



    “I suppose we should see my cousin. Penny knows we’ll get there when we get there. And it’s not like she doesn’t have other company.” Dolores paused for a moment. “And there is a non zero chance Marcus could cause an… incident if left unsupervised for too long.”

    Bram gave a sage nod.

    “Your cousin is a good man. Pity Akasha did not see fit to give him common sense to match.”

    Somehow, mystically, totally unexplainably, a fist made of hardened air suddenly began to give the redhead a noogie.

    “Ah! Ah! I give, I give! Marcus is awesome and super cool and stop bullying me Dolores I don’ wanna go balllllld!

    Considering the chuckling cat spirit, utterly serene dryad, whimpering, pouting Magus mumbling something about not ending up like “Gramps”, and the seemingly preteen girl smiling in front of her, Dominika von Martinitz strongly considered the possibility she’d drunk water laced with powerful psychedelics.

    “My lady, please ignore my friend. The stresses of his lofty station have a sometimes deleterious effect on his mental state. This way, if it pleases your grace.”

    She merely bent her head, choosing to ignore the small cavalcade of hilariously lethal spirits and just smile at the ten year old girl holding a sleeping volcano spirit.

    ‘Yes-’ The lady warden thought to herself. ‘That is the sanest thing I can do.’

    Passing through the dimensional door had felt a bit less disturbing the second time around, especially since she was not paying attention to the myriad of unblinking eyes which followed her every movement. The locals barely seemed to pay them any mind, which just made her questions the Faculty’s practices even more fervently.

    Space-time manipulation on this level should not be treated as the magical equivalent to an elevator.

    And yet, here they were, heedlessly stepping through the boundary leading away from the garden, stepping into another domain altogether.

    Gone were the lush fields and strange fauna, replaced by rows upon rows upon rows of books. As tall as her eye could see, Dominika had a hard time not investigating them further as the group moved past the gate and into the area they’d referred to as The Study. A massive library of the likes she had never seen before.

    With walls that seemed to stretch upwards for miles at a time, narrow corridors barely wide enough for a man to squeeze through, seemed to appear at random intervals between them. Distantly, the Warden could hear garbled whispers, far away conversations which did nothing to dispel the heavy silence which had fallen upon them like a physical force.

    At the center of the room, she could see a spiral staircase, one which could comfortably fit a mundane automobile as it rose upwards before branching into ever multiplying branches.

    Reaching for a ceiling which was nowhere in sight.

    “This… shouldn’t be possible.”

    “And it isn’t, I’m afraid.” Bram let out a small sigh at her curious stare. “The ceiling isn’t nearly as limitless as it appears to be. It’s just modelled to appear that way. We have a pretty finite number of floors to search, I assure you.”

    Oh, that was a relief.

    “How many floors? Ten? Twenty?” It was the best estimative she could give for a faculty as old as this. Considering it once was, at the very least, a mundane building of impressive by mortal scope that meant there were limits to how far they’d be able to warp and stretch the space within it.

    The green haired heiress, snickered.

    “Try two hundred and thirty seven.”

    Scratch that. This faculty was crazy and Dominika couldn’t wait for this mission to finally be done with. The less time she spent around this insanity, the more likely she was to avoid losing her tenuous grip on reality.

    “Young Lady-” The nymph interjected “I’m afraid you are forgetting the underground workshops.”

    “And the Lecture Hall.” The redhead added.

    Dominika felt a painful throbbing flash on both sides of her head. Of course things couldn’t be simple. She didn’t know why she felt hopeful in the first place. But such was life for a Magus, or what passed for one at any rate. She wasn’t sure how to classify the denizens of this madhouse.

    “Marcus doesn’t come here often though. He’s branch is pretty new so he doesn’t have a reason to.” Dolores mumbles she ran her thumbs over the dust covered spines of thick tomes and grimoires alike. “Did he happen to tell you why he was coming to the study?”

    The young Lord shrugged.

    “Something about asking people around regarding your… circumstances. He seemed to be pretty impatient when I saw him earlier.”

    Dolores had a bad feeling about this.

    “And you didn’t stop him, why?”

    Bram rolled his eyes. “Look at me. I’m a walking twig! There is no way that musclehead would have listened to me. And no way I would be capable of forcing him to stay.”

    The green haired girl whacked him playfully across the back of his neck.

    “Don’t call him a musclehead. He is just… blunt.”

    “Blunt as a sledgehammer, more like it.”

    This time the young lord didn’t so much flinch at the strike. Instead, he looked mildly peeved. Not at Dolores, of course. She looked like she was ten and wasn’t reinforcing her blows. He honestly thought her attacks mostly tickled. Instead, there was a small sliver of indignation in his posture.

    “I’m not saying I dislike him. I am saying that I find it’s best if I take him in small doses. That’s all.”

    “Hey, Thomas, yes! You’ve got your bones don’t you? Scry for my cousin, just once?”

    A small, wizened man rapidly shuffled past, seemingly running from the loud, booming voice that echoed in the great library, his skin crinkled like leather and long wisps of a white beard fluttering in the breeze as he moved with a rather impressive degree of alacrity. Turning to see them, he threw his hands up in praise.

    “Oh thank Jesus Cristo, you finally showed up. Please, for the love of all that is sacred and holy to us go see your cousin. He’s about to tear the place down looking for you!”

    And with that, the almost as tiny as Dolores old Spanish man whistled away, disappearing down a seemingly randomly appearing corridor.

    Dolores blanched, completely ignoring the smug look that her soon to be bald classmate shot her.

    ‘Okay, so maybe her cousin could be a bit…eccentric’

    Ever since she was younger, Dolores Morello had to deal with two things. The expectations she placed upon herself as the future heiress and shaman, and the expectations her relatives had set out for her. The latter manifested as the schemes of lower houses associated with her own family and their attempts to climb up the ladder through her.

    The biggest offender being the Rosenberg family.

    A cadet branch, though of considerably lesser standing, the family had chosen to distance themselves from the traditional branches of shamanism. Many of its members ironically adopting a more common Magus mindset of political intrigue and tried to outmaneuver their opponents through the use of schemes.

    Distancing yourself from one’s own traditions meant distancing oneself from the spirits.

    Thus, in searching for alternative ways to make their family rise, it could be said that the Rosenberg’s hunger for political power drained them of the ability to become respectable shamans.

    To those of the Faculty, one couldn’t go much lower than that.

    Simply because she honored the family spirits and kept faith with her allies , Dolores herself, as an untrained sole survivor of her family, was viewed more positively than most of her close family. And even amongst her cousins and bastards, there were none seen as being equal to her.

    With one exception.

    Her cousin, Marcus Rosenberg.

    If Dolores was the last fruit of a dead tree, then Marcus could be considered the only good apple of a rotten orchard. Where others like him waddled through mud and filth, he alone had abstained for this search of political favors and scheming. Not that he would have been any good at it either. He was… far too honest for his own good.

    Far too direct.

    “I think I see something up ahead, Kitten.” Suibhne called.

    He was…

    “Yeah. I see it too.” Bram sprinted ahead. “It looks like… a guy. He’s dangling from one of the cases.”

    ‘A complete idiot!’ She gawked

    Indeed, there was such a thing as a man dangling from the top of one of the smaller bookcases. And by smaller she meant something like forty floors as opposed to two hundred. Struggling to try and push himself towards the border, the man looked like a fish dangling from a hook, fruitlessly struggling against a much greater force.

    It was like a nerd being bullied by the captain of the football team. Marcus Rosenberg was six foot four, two hundred and sixty pounds, and built like a greek statue. A thick brown beard hid a jawline that looked like it was carved from marble. Intense grey eyes frowned down at the apprentice he was berating and he literally radiated a magical aura of danger.






    The fact his robes hung open, exposing a broad chest marred only by a set of thick, scarred slash marks and the tattoo of a Roman death mask crowned by the sun, and his muscles rippled under deeply tanned skin was, honestly, probably the boy’s greatest moment at this moment.

    “Now Timmy, I heard you say that my cousin was probably getting into trouble. Like she deserved. Why did you say that?”

    “She broke my nose when I made a lewd joke to her last month! I’m sorry man, I didn’t mean it! Please, for the love of god, this is a bookcase on demons, don’t drop me man! Please, they’ll eat me!”

    Underscoring the frantic pleas of the desperate apprentice, one of the books reached out a long, black, sinuous tongue and licked the man’s face. Very slowly. Then gave him a nip.

    “Oh god, I’m so, so, so sorry. Please man, pleeeeaaasssseeeee!”

    “You need to help me help you, Timmy. If you don’t make up your mind soon, my arm might just start cramping.” The bear of a man jostled his captive lightly, drawing a frightened screech out of the thirty year old.

    “Marcus Julius Tiberius Augustus Rosenberg, if you do not put that man down, and I do not mean drop him, right this instant I will have Penelope summon my mother just so she can give you a disappointed look.”

    There was no finger wag. But there was a very angry little girl glaring at the bear of a man from across a massive room.

    “Cousin!”

    He threw the nerd onto the top of a neighboring bookshelf, the young man scrambling to avoid being dragged down by a sentient piece of the building, and the now beaming giant gently launched himself across the room. Needing only the tap of his foot, the Rosenberg soared dozens of feet to gently alight on the ground in front of his wayward cousin.

    Who was still doing her best to glare up at his exposed pecs.

    “Hullo Marcus. Why were you bullying people again?”

    The giant, somehow, actually looked bashful.

    “Um… he was talking bad about you?”

    She glared harder.

    “Ok, ok! Because he works for Thomas and the old geezer got away before he could throw his bones. I was looking for you.”

    Sighing, the last Morello nodded and reached around the giant of a man to hug his stomach.

    “Send him a formal apology later and all is forgiven.”

    “Promise to cuz!”

    Giggling, she stepped back.

    “Then you’re forgiven you fool boy.” This just made the man quiver. Seeing this, she sighed and nodded.”And you may pick me up.”

    With a great, bellowing laugh he scooped his cousin up, the bookshelves suddenly pulling ten feet wider, and spun her in a circle.

    “I’m so glad to see you! After my father sent Bellefronte after you, I checked on him. The last I heard his car was blown up and his men dead. I only bothered checking their corpses to make sure you weren’t hiding nearby. Then I found some of your blood on glass shards and I got so scared I went to ask Penny and all she could tell me was that she saw you here, at some point, and you were definitely in danger.”

    Suddenly ceasing to spin the, by now very dizzy, heiress, he pulled her in close.

    “I thought that bastard had cost me my little sister.”

    His hug was… all encompassing. The world became a mixture of skin and soft silk, smelling of skin and blood and chalk and ink and oil and the lingering kiss of flame.

    She pulled tighter, too.

    “Oh, hey Bram. Mrs. L, gorgeous as always. And I see Grim is already asleep again, but who’s this little cutie?”

    For a second, Lady Martinitz thought she was being flirted with. Then, Rosenberg extended his leg, letting Suibhine scale his body without a second thought.

    “Hello there beautiful. If I remember, you’re Suibhne, yes?’

    Giving that odd, smug smile all cats could seem to imagine, the bronze spirit dipped her head ever so slightly in greeting.

    “Thank you young man. I’m grateful you recall me. I think my brothers and I saw you last… a decade ago? More, by your reckoning?”

    With a great, booming belly laugh he eagerly nodded.

    “Aye, it was twelve years ago! My sixth birthday and Mr. Livio and Mrs. Atropa came over. You guys let me pet you a bit as a present. It’s a bit hard to forget three ancient spirit cats the size of small horses, you know!”

    That got him a small purr of contentment.

    Finally putting Dolores down, he cocked his head.

    “Hmm. Strong, stands like a soldier, intense eyes. Totally out of your depth. Enforcer?”

    Dominika’s concerns, however, were much more mundane.

    ‘Was I just passed over for the cat?’

    Fortunately she managed to shelf the issue of these shaman's seemingly lack of sanity for another time. Pleasantries came first and she was nothing if not a true born and bred Lady.

    “I am the Lady Dominika von Martinitz, Warden of the Clocktower. I am here to escort the Lady Morello I see, however, that she is quite safe with you gentlemen. However, I would be remiss in my duty should I not speak with Master Harfang. It is, still, a pleasure to meet you.”



  18. #138
    リビングデッド Living Dead Wyvern's Avatar
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    For as long as she’d known herself, Dominika von Martinitz had always been confident in how she saw life.

    As a magus she was talented, perhaps the most respected of her bloodline. Having climbed the ladder of the hierarchy within the Clocktower on sheer grit and stubbornness alone proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she was a capable magus on par with those who’d sooner ignore her existence.

    The Clocktower wasn’t the most… hospitable environment.

    Between scheming and politics, most magi were concerned with trading favors or obsessed with advancing their research no matter the cost to themselves and others. Many times causing major incidents which the Mage’s Association could not abide by. The reason why Enforcers existed in the first place.

    It was a harsh life, but a simple one.

    Dominika appreciated the straightforwardness of the profession.

    Hunt down a target, kill them or retrieve them alive for examination. And, if necessary, lock them away all the way down in the deepest, darkest cells. So that they might never cause issues again.

    The Warden liked to think of herself as someone who earned her reputation and the respect which accompanied her station in life as the head enforcer of the british branch. She was used to being in control of a situation and knowing exactly what to do in order to get the results she wanted.

    And then… she met Dolores Morello.

    That her idiot cousin knew she was an enforcer, but didn’t recognize her name, or her title, somehow caught her flat footed.

    “I’m the head of the Enforcers for the greater British area. England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and the Low Countries.”

    His mildly confused gaze suddenly transformed.

    “Oh.” Eyes flashing dangerously, he pulled Dolores closer. “Did Bram already threaten you to stay away from Dolores?”

    The warden fought the urge to pinch her nose.

    “I am her escort, sir.”

    “Oh!” This time his gaze turned far more friendly. “Great! It’s always a pleasure not to have to crack someone’s skull… well. That’s a lie. But it’s nice to not have to crush yours. I mean, I wasn’t sure if Bellefronte or my dad bribed you, so, you know, can’t be too careful.”

    “And how, Mr. Rosenberg, would you know whether I was lying or not?”

    For a second, he actually seemed to think about it. Those powerful grey eyes glinting with mirth and humor as he seemed to consider the… many ways to answer that question.

    “Well, I suppose it doesn’t really matter anymore.”

    She quirked an eyebrow.

    “Yup. Bram’s gaga over Dolores, Mrs. L is loyal to Bram, Grim probably likes my cousin more than most things on this planet, Suibhine would literally eat your soul for threatening her Little Kitten, and as for me… well, she’s a rather terrible Magus. And that makes her the only part of my family I actually give a damn about. So I’ll give you three guesses on how far that means I’ll go to look after her.”

    The eyes on the death mask opened, skin and ink rippling as a golden light began to emanate from the glistening skin.

    “Behave!” Dolores pouted up at the ever eager young man. “She’s a lady so it’s not like she can get in a dick measuring contest with you. And besides, she stood up for me to Bellefronte and has been really nice.”

    Chuckling, the partially glowing man stopped radiating like a sun lamp and gave his cousin a pat on the head.

    “Alright, alright. Just remember we can’t trust normal Magi. They’re all bastards.”

    The heiress huffed.

    “We are shamans, Marcus. Big difference there.”

    And wasn’t that the understatement of the year.

    Dominika was used to dealing with magi in her capacity as the Warden. Once you understand their psychology and motivations, they all sort of blend into the same pattern. Reading them and predicting their next actions was actually one of the things that lead her to the position of Warden.

    Only she had never interacted with individuals outside of her group and the rogues they hunted down.

    Meaning she had never had the chance to meet with members of other faculties under normal circumstances. Though she would hardly refer to the shamans and their looney house of a faculty as normal. She had quickly come to understand that the normal magus tenets meant very little for them.

    As did many laws of physics.

    “So!” The hulking brute of a magus started. “You said you were looking for Master Harfang?”

    “Yes. Your cousin has mentioned that he might have a better chance at resolving this situation with Bellefronte and your… father, was it?”

    And now the Magus’s eyes died. Cold, unmoving, there was nothing but unflinching stoicism in those still pools.

    “Aye. My father’s patience has run out. And so he seeks to ensure the continuity and prominence of House Rosenberg. Absorbing the remnants of House Morello, along with their assets and secrets, would position us as one of the foremost bloodlines in the Faculty. I take great exception to this fact and will be having words with him later.”

    Shaking her head, the Warden simply accepted that these people didn’t care about the rules of polite Magus society.

    “So.” Dolores stepped into the middle of the group. “We should go speak to the Librarian. See if he knows where Master is.”

    The other shamans winced.

    “Yes, I know he’s creepy, but he’s also aware of everything inside of the library. It’ll be quicker and he can tell us when Master was here last. That or we can just start wandering around the Faculty looking for him.”

    Bram inclined his head.

    “We could. Scrying likely wouldn’t work if he’s in a secure area, so that wouldn’t make sense.”

    Frowning Marcus interjected.

    “Perhaps not, but do we need to rush? There’s no immediate threat to Dolores anymore and as an outsider, von Martinitz deserves a proper tour. You wanna see what a sentient book demon looks like?”

    Once more, she lifted a single perfectly manicured eyebrow.

    “While it has truly been an enlightening experience, I must, regretfully, decline your offer.” The blonde warden turned to her charge. “Ms. Morello, lets us enlist the aid of the librarian.”

    As she finished speaking, one of the small side paths disappeared. The bookcases closed in on themselves, forming a small indentation in the floor before a long, twisting, very narrow spiral staircase began to wind its way down below.

    “Well. At least we won’t have to climb.”

    The rest of the group turned to stare at Bram, the young man nervously rubbing his head.

    “I suppose I’ll go first.” Marcus, ever bold as brass, took the lead. A single glance informing the Warden that she would be following behind him.

    Not that she too terribly minded. It’s not like having someone’s back to you made them more difficult to kill, after all.

    It was odd, slowly trudging down those stairs. They were narrow, almost claustrophobically so, and made entirely of metal. Old wrought iron, seemingly, and attached to nothing physical, or at least visible, as far as any of the magi could see. Marcus seemed most particularly affected as he had to bend over to avoid cracking his forehead into the top of the metal cage that surrounded the steps.

    More disturbing, however, was the sheer, oppressive blackness that surrounded them. It was not merely the absence of light, because their path was quite well lit despite the seeming lack of any light source, but rather something that seemed all together… hungrier. Alive, even.

    None of the Magi spoke, not even those who were familiar with this place, and the spirits clung to their partners. Grimm even stirring, flames licking at the edges of his mouth as he glared at whatever lurked in that void. Suibhne herself had crawled into Dolores’s clothes, burying herself under as many layers of fabric as she could, one glowing amber eye peering out. However, it was Luscinia that was most visibly affected. The spirit going deathly pale and shivering, the skin on her hands cracking and bleeding as she clung ever more tightly to the him of Bram’s robes.

    And then they were out.

    Whatever that un-darkness had been suddenly replaced with the flickering, but wholly natural, light of a dozen gas lamps. Marcus, their vanguard, almost leaping the final ten feet to safety.

    Or at least what passed for normalcy amongst this Faculty.

    Because there were several dark grey creatures, hunched over and ugly as Sin, tending to massive piles of manuscripts. Each one was about three feet high with softly glowing red eyes and six clawed hands. Naked, they were each sexless, their bodies seemingly smooth and featureless save for their uniquely warped faces.

    In truth, they seemed more a parody of a dwarf than any thing known to God’s creation. Looking up, one of them smiled at the new arrivals. Each and every being there wished most dearly that it had not.

    “Ah, come to see Mother are we?” Its voice was oddly soft and high for such a horrific thing. “She even called for you through Ginnungagap. Lucky you. Come, come, I shall take you to her.”

    At Dominika’s unasked question, Dolores simply shrugged.

    “Dökkálfar, dark elves. And in their more pleasant state too.”

    Somehow, the Warden felt it more telling that the Volcanic spirit was still glaring at the staircase rather than the monsters currently gathering to watch them.

    Still, the… office was oddly normal enough. Dated, by the faux wood paneling, shag carpet, and truly wizened card catalogues that seemingly stretched into infinity around them, but mundane. Glaringly so considering the place’s occupants.

    Even more oddly was that they came to a single plate glass door, glazed and opaque, seemingly hanging in mid air. Running a hand through his hair, Bram swallowed and stepped to the front of the group. Lightly rapping his knuckles on the door, he jumped slightly when a kind, soft voice called out.

    “Come in.”

    Taking a deep breath, he reached a slightly shaking hand forward and grasped the knob.

    Then, as if they had blinked, the group found themselves in an ancient cavern. Worn stone, pools of slowly dripping water, the corpses of humans and monster alike. Just normal cave things.

    “Welcome, be welcome, always welcomed. Bram-Marcus-Dolores-Partners.”

    The Librarian was something truly alien. Massive, of course. It’s head filled the chamber, which itself was so vast that the edges faded into darkness. Few features could be made out save for thirteen glowing eyes, each massive enough that a horse and cart could have driven through with room on every side to spare.

    Its skin was a lifeless gray, perfectly smooth like a polished pearl. It bulged and shifted at points, giving the impression of it being filled with some form of otherworldly liquid. There was no mouth in sight, though its words echoed through the room clearly, booming as if a bell had been struck.

    Strangely enough, the only natural sound that came from it was a rustling, scraping, echoing sound. As if great wings were rubbing together in the distance.

    “Question?”

    A single word and it was enough to make every Magi there swallow.

    Dolores didn’t mind the otherworldly entity which was tied to the vastness of the Study, she really didn’t. Rather, she knew it to be a being ravenous in its search for knowledge and willing to part with it if given the right incentive. Of course, it depended on what sort of information you were searching for.

    Nobody wanted to make the wrong deal with it and be forced to work off the debt like its minions had.

    ‘As always, human curiosity is often the root of our downfall.’ She shuddered, but composed herself.

    The Librarian also only dealt with humans, so their companions wouldn’t be of much help as their connection was being muted by the entity’s intimidating presence. Something so far above them as to exist in another weight class entirely.

    “We are searching for someone.” Her cousin took the initiative, throwing caution to the wind as always.

    Various orbs of different colors and shapes turned to face him.

    “Who-What for-How-When-Why?”

    Bram stepped forward, tentative yet resolute.

    “We wish to know where Master Harfang B. Kingsworth is.”

    The Librarian fixed the young man with its unblinking stare.

    “Was here-Isn’t here-Will be here?”

    Dolores took a deep breath. The trick to asking the Librarian for a favor was to keep its attention from being focused entirely on you, its curiosity was too much for any one human to keep up with. So alternating between the three of them would keep the alien being from delving too deeply for too long.

    “He was here. But we wish to know where he is presently.”

    The young heiress nearly flinched when the being’s unblinking stare focused upon her.

    Her head grew tight. Like there was a sudden pressure inside of her skull, pushing outwards. The vast presence of a being so massive, so utterly alien began to worm itself inside of her body. And then it was gone. She was empty, gasping, on her knees and vomiting. The sting of stomach acid and bile heavy in her mouth, suddenly so empty it hurt.

    Dolores looked up, eyes still tearing up, and saw that Marcus had managed to stay on his feet.

    “Won’t be here-Will be-When-Not near-Where-Somewhere else-Before-After-Not now-In the Future-Previously-Currently.”

    Before the group, the air seemed to shimmer as a trio of doors seemed to appear from nothingness. Completely identical, the doors were heavy set and of darkwood with polished golden handles. No distinctive markings whatsoever seemed to hint at their true nature.

    Bram huffed.

    “Great. They decided to play games with us.”

    Dolores frowned.

    She could already tell where this was going. The Librarian knew exactly what happened at the Faculty at all times. It saw everything and everyone, peering through the veil of time as they did so. This meant that their answers were always tied to what was, what is, and what would be.

    And, of course, they wouldn’t ever specify because all three options were ‘correct’.

    How annoying.

    Still, they were losing time, so which door should they take?

    Choice Time!
    The Librarian has given you three choices, but all three are technically the right. Read and look for clues before deciding which door the group should take!

    1 - Left Door!

    2 - Right Door!

    3- Center Door!


  19. #139
    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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  20. #140
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    Seeing that the Librarian said he isn't at the "Will Be" door, it's either 1 or 3.
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

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